Ok, so I'm venturing into a little bit of unknown territory here, writing for the Tenth Doctor, which I have done very little of. Still, I'm fairly confident I'm up to the challenge. Anyway, this oneshot was inspired by my infinite sadness over "Journey's End" and also (though this will likely sound ridiculous and dorky) the lyrics of "Saying Goodbye". Yes, that song the Muppets sang. All dialogue comes from the episode. Anyway, I'll just let you read. Enjoy!
Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock
Sometimes It's Better To Go
He hadn't expected her to wake up so soon. And yet, just as Sylvia Noble opened her mouth, likely to exchange some very harsh words with him, she was framed in the doorway, mobile in hand.
"I was asleep, on my bed, in my clothes- like a flipping kid!" She announced. "What'd you let me do that for?" Was the follow-up demand, and only then did her eyes fall briefly on him. Eyes he knew so well, and who had known him.
Yet there was no recognition there, no spark, no indication that he was anything to spare more than a cursory glance for. "Don't mind me," she excused, in that softer, polite tone she reserved for complete strangers, yet lacking that underlying concern and compassion she tried to hide that was undeniably her. "Donna Noble."
"John Smith," the name tumbled from his lips before the Doctor could stop himself, and he inwardly tensed, ready to leap into action. He'd used that alias how many times in front of her? Had he blown it already, done this to her—taken it all away—in wasted effort?
But the common name proved its worth yet again, as she did not even reply, instead checking her phone.
"Mister Smith was just leaving," Sylvia spoke up, her tone making it very clear just how unwelcome he was here. And he did feel unwelcome, so unwelcome- but not because of the blonde woman.
She looked up at her mother, an incredulous smile on her face. "My phone's gone mad. Thirty two texts. Veena's gone barmy. She's saying planets in the sky. What have I missed now?" Did it really not bother her, faze her at all, that she was missing it? She was missing so much, and she should have cared! Donna Noble cared so, so much. He apparently warranted one more look as she offered a vague, "Nice to meet you," before turning and heading down the stairs.
The Doctor sat in complete silence, complete stillness, feeling as though someone had stolen the air from his lungs. He couldn't speak, and what was there to say, sitting here among these two humans he had unforgivably failed.
Yes, he'd returned her to them, healthy and unharmed. But it wasn't her, and he knew that and they knew that. They'd always love her, of course- but they'd always know.
Somehow he was able to face Sylvia one more time as she ordered in a low tone, "As I said, I think you should go."
And the Doctor couldn't agree more. What more was there for him here, what use was he, what had kept him from leaving straightaway? The answer was downstairs, and as he quietly made his way down them, he couldn't stop his feet from turning into the kitchen instead of out the door.
She was on her phone now as she rummaged around for something, babbling about some inane thing or other to some other woman not worth time or breath. "Ha-ha! Yes you do, I've seen you!"
"Donna?" He called tentatively. There was a time when she'd end the other conversation, hang up the phone, and give him her full attention. Now, she only paused in her fast-paced dialogue to look at him with half-hearted interest. A funny-looking, suit-and-converse-wearing, stick of a man hanging around in her house, and she could give a phone call to Veena more enthusiasm? Wasn't she the least bit curious? "I was just going," he said at last, not finding anything particularly witty or clever floating around in his supposedly genius brain that didn't come with a human's gut instinct. Not like Donna.
"Yeah, see you," she dismissed, already turning away from him with the phone back in its prized position of first priority. Couldn't she give it a break for one minute? "I tell you what, though, you're wasting your time with that one, because Susie Mair, she went on that dating site, and she saw him. No, no, no, no. Listen, listen, this is important." That was important? "Susie Mair wouldn't lie—not unless it was about calories. Ha ha ha!"
He couldn't take it any longer, watching her ignoring him and everything else. She was so much more than that. And she hadn't cared, she hadn't bothered with him when—his best friend.
Couldn't she tell he was trying to say goodbye?
Sylvia had been right all along. He should have just left, should have let well enough alone, because some things were better that way. The Doctor hadn't wanted her disinterested face to be his last memory of her.
But would Donna's begging have been better?
She hadn't said goodbye then, either, even though she knew it was coming. Donna Noble had just kept repeating her mantra of "No, no, please." And he hadn't listened. So maybe the universe felt she shouldn't listen to him anymore, just to be fair.
Maybe he should have banished himself to that desolate beach in a parallel Norway. The Metacrisis might have killed all the Daleks…but he killed the DoctorDonna, the most important woman in the universe.
The most important woman in his universe.
Oh, that she could have lived, that it somehow could have been possible! It would have been more than enough, to ease the ache, to relieve the loneliness of being the last. And they would have had better than the best of times.
Companions, always promising forever when they truly had no notion of the concept. And still he foolishly got his hopes up every time, only for them to be dashed to pieces when brought face-to-face with reality. But Donna had kept her promise. She'd stayed until her very last moments.
Now it was time for him to continue along on his forever, until his very last. The Doctor trudged with heavy steps along the hall, head drooping, gaze trained on his shoes, so that it wasn't until he had stepped outside and right into it that he realized it was even raining. Pouring. Weeping for Donna Noble.
As he looked up and around, trying his hardest not to notice the salty trails accompanying the rainwater down his cheeks, he noticed Wilf standing in the doorway, staring at him with such frank sympathy that it frightened him. He didn't want to indulge in that emotion, because he knew that it would be near-impossible to explain why John Smith was sobbing into Wilfred Mott's checkered shirt, and because he knew he didn't deserve that.
Instead, he talked and said nothing, his expertise as Donna had learned. "Ah. You'll have quite a bit of this. Atmospheric disturbance. Still, it'll pass. Everything does." Even this. Even this had to, he had to believe that. "Bye then, Wilfred," the Doctor finished, intent on leaving and leaving all this behind. Running away and never looking back. He dare not, not ever.
But the old human stopped him. "Oh, Doctor? What about you now? Who've you got? I mean, all those friends of yours." He turned on his heel to see the worried, but slightly hopeful look on the veteran's face. Yet his questions only reminded the Doctor of what he had waiting for him: an empty TARDIS, once again.
"They've all got someone else," he told the man truthfully. And he was glad, so glad that all those wonderful humans had found someone else, someone far better than him. "Still, that's fine. I'm fine." He was always fine. And an empty TARDIS was for the best. He was best on his own; no Rose to joke with him on the jump seat, no Martha to make sure he was eating properly, and no Donna to yell at him when he was being stupid and stay with him despite it.
Yes, he thought he preferred things how they were, now. The TARDIS wouldn't ever try to say goodbye to him, nor he to his ship. The Doctor in the TARDIS, next stop everywhere. And if he had his way, alone. That was a forever he could believe in.
"I'll watch out for you, sir," Wilf's voice brought him back to the present, and he felt a sense of panic, because he wasn't worth the risk to her, and Wilfred needed to understand that.
"You can't ever tell her," he warned, doing his best to sound authoritative, soaked as he is to the skin, hair sticking to his head, and droplets of water steadily dripping off his hands, his chin, his lips, and from his eyes.
He needn't have bothered. "No, no, no. But every night, Doctor, when it gets dark, and the stars come out, I'll look up on her behalf. I'll look up at the sky, and think of you." Wilfred Mott, making his lonely, nightly trek up the hill to sit with a telescope and watch for him, all for the sake of his beloved granddaughter. Would the sight of that man down on Earth from afar fill him with happiness and amusement, like it had when he'd taken Donna off to see the universe, or sadness and pain?
Regardless, the Doctor felt so moved he could hardly speak, and only managed a, "Thank you."
And that was all he could say. Not even Wilf had given him a goodbye, leaving him a lingering phantom at the wake of Donna Noble. He didn't belong here anymore, nobody's friend, save this grieving man who mourned him, too. So the Doctor made his pitiful way to the blue box, squelching through the rain, and went. It was better to leave this woman in peace, a lesson he'd paid dearly to learn.
So yeah. No idea why I was in the mood to write "Journey's End" angst. Ah well, I like how it turned out, but I would love to hear from you guys. Thanks so much for reading, and please review!