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03 December 2011 @ 12:42 am
FF: Five Times the Doctor didn't kiss Donna Noble (and one time he did) (Ten/Donna - PG)  
Disclaimers: Not mine. Auntie’s. Although if David Tennant wants to come round to argue the point, I’d have no objections!

Characters: Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble

Rating: PG

Category: Introspection, missing scenes, angst, large dollops of UST and a bit of romance.

Spoilers: Set throughout S4, so it’s full of ‘em if you haven’t seen it! (Plus the odd, tiny reference to a couple of my own fics)

A/N: I can’t lay claim to any recognisable dialogue – that’s down to people far more talented than I.

Believe it or not, this was actually the first Ten and Donna fic I ever started to write, so it's had a gestation period somewhat akin to that of an elephant!

Unbetaed, but with grateful thanks to canterlevi for her continual encouragement. As usual, I proof-read myself, so any mistakes are mine.



Five Times the Doctor didn’t kiss Donna Noble. And one time he did.



1.

If Pompeii is destroyed, then it’s not just history. It’s me. I make it happen.

He can’t believe it’s come to this so soon. She’s been with him for little more than a day and while, yes - something like this was bound to happen at sooner or later (and given the way he tends to run headlong from one crisis to another, it would inevitably have been the former), he hadn’t envisaged it happening quite so quickly.

And it’s all his fault. Oh yes, she’d wanted this life. Wanted the adventure, the excitement... Donna had spent over a year on Earth looking for him because she wanted to see the stars and travel the universe.

But this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. He’s supposed to protect her, to look after her… and, sod it, there’s so much he’d wanted to show her.

Now he isn’t going to get the chance.

The Doctor turns his head to find Donna looking at him intently, her bright blue eyes shining with unshed tears. He’s suddenly transported back to the day they’d met, remembering the look on her face as they stood together at the TARDIS doors and marvelled at the creation of the Earth, gazing out on the myriad of swirling colours … and now – as then – as he looks into her eyes, he feels a tiny pull of something he can’t quite define; something that feels like ...

Inevitability.

But that’s ridiculous. As is the sudden and unlooked for desire to kiss her that assails him as he continues to look into her eyes.

He doesn’t know if it’s because they’re about to die. Or if it’s an impulse born simply of this particular body’s partiality to physical contact. Or if it’s because she’s Donna. But whatever the reason, the impulse is fleeting and soon forgotten as he wars within himself.

Pompeii or the world…

And then he feels it; her palm, warm and smooth, sliding over his hand on the lever, her other hand settling at the side, thumb pressing lightly against his. And as he looks, really looks at her, he finds the courage to do what he has to do.

She’s afraid, yes, but incredibly, what he can see in her eyes is… not reproach, but understanding. Compassion. Trust.

And forgiveness.

It’s humbling and empowering all at once - and gratefully, he accepts the gift she’s offering him.

They push the lever together.


* * * * * * * * *



2.


But don’t worry. I’ve got my secret weapon.


“I need you to reopen the link.”

The Doctor can hear the panic in her voice as she replies. “But I can’t even mend a fuse!”

“Donna!” he hisses firmly, hating the way she’s always so ready to put herself down. “Stop talking about yourself like that. You can do this. I promise.”

There’s no response, but he can hear the sound of her breathing, harsh and rapid and the slight clatter of her shoes on the grating beneath her feet as (he guesses) she walks to the door. He waits anxiously – unable to help himself wondering when Donna will begin to realise just how brilliant she is. He tells her, of course, and he tells her often - but she never believes him. She just tells him to shut up, protests that she’s nothing special and calls him a daft alien plonker, which, he readily admits, he sometimes is - but not about that.

The Doctor is jolted out of his musings by another panicked whisper. “There’s a Sonterrun - ” he’s opened his mouth to correct her pronunciation before he can stop himself; but before he can say anything, she’s done it for him. “Sontaran.”

“Did he see you?”

“No, he’s got his back to me.”

“Right. Donna, listen. On the back of his neck…”

He tells her what to do, all the while hating that she has to do it at all. He’s supposed to be looking out for her, and instead he’s asking her to risk her life, thousands of miles away and completely alone.

The waiting is torture. The muffled sounds that reach his ear give him no clue as to what might be going on and all he can do is keep telling himself that the almost-silence is a good thing - because if Donna had been discovered or captured, she’d certainly have an opinion to voice and most definitely wouldn’t go quietly.

He starts pacing back and forth across the room. He hates inaction, sure, but even more than that, he hates feeling so powerless. He hadn’t been kidding when he told Donna she was his secret weapon; she’s more like his only weapon, the only thing currently standing in the way of the annihilation of the human race. He’s been in that position more times than he cares to count – and dammit, it should be him up there.

He’s in the middle of his third – or is it fourth? – trip across the small office when he hears Donna’s triumphant whisper.

“Back of the neck!”

There’s no time for congratulations – relieved, the Doctor backs himself up against the wall, puffs out the breath he’s been holding and directs her to the teleport feed.

He keeps the phone pressed tightly to his ear and listens intently to the sound of her rapid breathing, the soft tread of her footsteps, the slight rustle of her clothing… then she’s whispering again.

“There’s a door.”

“There should be a switch by the side.”

“Yeah – there is. But it’s Sonterrun shaped,” her voice wavers fearfully, “you need three fingers.”

“You’ve got three fingers,” he says, stating the obvious.

“Oh… yeah…”

Another second or two and -

“I’m through.”

He can’t afford to draw any attention to himself, so he resists the impulse to yell out a triumphant Yes! and stops himself punching the air with his fist.

For one, giddy instant, he desperately wishes Donna was there for reasons other than ones that relate to her safety – not just because she’d be at his side rather than facing death at the hands of the Sontarans, but because he’d be able to grab her and tell her to her face how bloody marvellous she is. He might even risk damage to life and limb by giving her a loud, sloppy kiss. But he can’t – she’s still in danger, stuck on a hostile ship thousands of miles out into space and there’s one more thing he needs her to do.

Instead, he finds himself practically purring at her. “Oh, you are brilliant, you are.”

He kisses the phone instead.


* * * * * * * * *



3.

I must do that more often.


The Doctor is stirring milk into two mugs of tea when he hears Donna walk into the kitchen. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he flashes her a soft smile, noting that she’s changed out of her flapper dress and taken down that rather elaborate bun; and that her hair is loose, falling around her shoulders in thick waves.

He likes it like that. Natural and just a little bit wild; in fact, he can’t deny that he’s had the odd thought now and again about taking the sonic to her hair-straighteners, although she’d almost certainly guess it was him and there’d be hell to – and since when has he taken all that much notice of how Donna does her hair?

Having given each of their drinks a final stir, the Doctor taps the spoon against the rim of his mug before putting it down on the worktop. He doesn’t even have to look at her to know that Donna is rolling her eyes at his messiness – and automatically he picks up the spoon and chucks it into the sink before turning and holding out her mug.

Donna takes it with a quiet word of thanks, takes a sip and then walks to the other side of the kitchen where she sets down her tea, opens one of the cupboard doors by her head and begins moving things around, clearly looking for something. The Doctor leans back against the worktop and crosses one ankle over the other, sipping his hot tea while he watches Donna close that cupboard door with a huff of exasperation and then open another.

“Have you scoffed all the Chocolate Hob-Nobs again?” she queries as she stands on tip-toe and reaches up to rummage around at the back.

“Er – “ he begins, wrinkling his nose as he desperately tries to remember whether he has, in fact, polished off the last of Donna’s favourite biscuits.

Fortunately, he’s pretty sure he hasn’t.

“I’m sure there were some kicking around somewhere,” he says airily, putting down his mug and moving across the kitchen to stand behind Donna so that he can peer into the cupboard over her head. Putting his hands on her shoulders he leans forward but he still can’t see much beyond the packets and jars at the front of the shelves, so he leans closer, one hand on the open door as he reaches inside with the other to move a large box – and it’s only when he finds himself breathing in the scent of Donna’s hair that he realises that she is, to all intents and purposes, pinned between him and the worktop. His chest is pressed closely to her back and he can feel her breathing shallowly, feel the warmth of her body through their clothing

He swallows hard, images flashing into his mind of another kitchen and a game of charades. His olfactory memory recalls the cooking smells that had greeted him earlier, only to be obscured by the strong scent and taste of walnuts and anchovies - and then in his mind’s eye, he sees Donna reaching for him, remembers the sensation of her mouth pressed hard to his, the shock of feeling her tongue swiping across his lips; and his instinctive response to her just before the combination of proteins, salts and adrenaline had kicked in to release the toxins in his body. And then afterwards had come the dual shock of realising that not only would he have liked to experience that kiss for real, but that it wasn’t the first time he’d thought about it.

They’re both standing very still, the air between them suddenly heavy and charged with something he knows is beyond the realm of simple physics, or indeed of any truly scientific explanation. How does one explain the fascination of the turn of a throat, the toss of a head, the gleam of a shining crown of hair?

And just when had he started to sound like a lovesick prat?

Slowly, he removes his hands and takes a small step backwards; at the same time Donna turns around and he’s expecting a reminder about personal space or some quip or other – but it doesn’t come. For the briefest of moments, her eyes are fixed on his. There’s a gentle flush on her cheeks, her lips are moist and slightly parted; and his gaze drops, involuntarily, to her mouth, he wonders, for one, brief second, if the thought that’s currently uppermost in his mind could possibly, in any way, shape or form have occurred to her as well.

What is it about them and kitchens?

Swallowing hard, he shoves his hands into his pockets and takes another step back.

“No biscuits in there,” he says, clearing his throat.

Donna blinks owlishly at him. “What?”

He rubs his nose, then nods towards the open cupboard. “No Hob-Nobs in there. Sorry.”

Donna frowns, turns to look at the contents of the cupboard – and then turns to face him with a sly grin. “It’s just as well you haven’t discovered my secret stash, then.”

“Secret - ?” he feels a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. This is much more normal. “Donna Noble. Have you been holding out on me?”

She makes a shoo-ing motion with her fingers and when he’s turned his back, he hears some rustling and some banging – then she’s walking to the table with her tea and setting an unopened blue packet down in front of her.

“Oh, you don’t know half the things I do to save you from yourself,” she says archly.

He picks up his own tea and takes the seat opposite her.

“I think I do,” he says seriously. “And thank you, by the way.”

Donna is intent on opening the biscuits and grumbling that the tear-off strip isn’t ‘tear-off’ at all, and then gets up to fetch a pair of scissors. “What for?” she asks once she’s opened the packet and put them down on the table between them.

“For, er…” he sniffs, “you know. What you did. Earlier.”

She flicks a glance at him over the rim of her mug and shrugs off-handedly.

“Anytime.”

He smiles back at her and is about to help himself to a biscuit (or three) when Donna bangs her mug down suddenly, sloshing tea over the sides and onto the table. Her eyes are wide, her expression not unlike the one she’d worn earlier in response to his remark about needing to detox more often.

“I mean – “ she splutters hastily, flapping her free hand vigorously across the table between them, “saving your life. I’d do that anytime… is what I meant.” She pauses for a split second before adding - “not the – other... thing.”

He raises his eyebrows, his mouth forming wordless shapes for a split second, and the nods just as energetically as she’s hand-waving. “Oh, no. No. Course not. That’s what I meant - the life-saving...”

She nods tersely. “Good.”

“Okay.” He takes a mouthful of tea and watches her get up to fetch a cloth so that she can mop up the spillage.

“Yeah. Well,” she says when she’s finished. “You’re welcome. Anyway, it was the only thing I could think of at short notice that would do the trick. Other than setting your hair on fire.”

He snorts. “I think I preferred the alternative.”

Donna wrinkles her nose. “Well, don’t bank on that next time, Time Boy,” she says, taking a biscuit and nudging the packet towards him.

“I’m going to carry a box of matches from now on.”


* * * * * * * * *



4.

I’m always alright.

The Doctor feels bone-weary, yet strangely elated as he reaches Donna’s side and turns to snap his fingers. The TARDIS doors close obediently and they stand quietly side-by-side for a few seconds as he continues to marvel silently at the fact that after all this time, there is still something new for him to learn about his constant companion. He feels Donna’s hand squeeze his forearm lightly and he watches her turn and walk slowly around the console, shoulders slumped, her head down.

She collapses down onto the jump-seat and sits quietly, her eyes fixed on a point somewhere in the middle distance, looking at nothing in particular. The Doctor shrugs out of his coat and flings it towards its normal resting place on one of the coral struts opposite the console, thinking sadly that it’s the first time he’s seen her so… so empty.

Usually, she’s got something to say. An opinion to offer. A question to ask or an argument to make. He’s seen her when she’s down. He’s seen her pissed off and he’s seen her delighted; he’s seen her laugh, cry, rage, rant and rail… whatever it is, she’s never this passive and it worries him.

He walks slowly to the controls and sets them to random; he flips a switch, turns a dial and releases the brake. The time rotor begins to rise and fall and the familiar grinding and wheezing commences its usual pattern, the oddly comforting sound filling his ears as he takes them into the vortex.

For a while, he just stays where he is, hands stuffed deep into his pockets, staring down at the console. He starts thinking that he really should sort out those sticky switches and fix that bit of dodgy circuitry in the dimensional stabilisers; and it’s a few full seconds before he realises that his gaze has shifted and that he’s looking at Donna. She’s clearly deep in thought, her eyes trained down on her hands in her lap and he takes the opportunity afforded him to just… look. Sooty lashes are cast down upon porcelain skin, heightening the contrast with the pale, dusky rose of her cheek… he knows those colours like the back of his hand, knows them so well, he doesn’t even have to look to be able to see them in his mind’s eye.

But … he looks anyway. Even though he probably shouldn’t,

For one thing, she’d probably slap him into the middle of last week if she caught him.

And for another; it’s not the looking that’s the real problem. No – the real problem is what happens somewhere deep inside him when he looks at her.

He knows millions of different languages, has a vocabulary larger than the biggest dictionary in the entire universe and yet he still can’t find a word to describe it.

Or, he tells himself in a rare moment of honesty, you can find it. You just don’t want to admit it.

The Doctor takes a deep breath, then ambles slowly around the console, silently cursing himself for being such an idiot. He’d wanted a mate; nothing more. Having messed up big-time with Martha, the last thing he wanted or needed was any more added complications.

But, as he’s discovered so many times, these things have a way of going in an unanticipated direction.

Only – going in this particular direction is taking him down a one-way street.

He comes to a stop at the side of the seat and drops down onto it next to Donna, slowly putting his feet up on the edge of the console.

“You alright?” he asks softly, an echo of her earlier question.

Donna turns to face him, a little half smile playing ruefully about her lips.

“Yeah,” she sighs. “I mean, it’s not as if any of it was real, was it?”

He looks at his trainers. “No,” he agrees.

“So why do I feel so…” she swallows hard and he sees, out of the corner of his eye, that she’s blinking back tears. “It wasn’t real. So why is it so… hard?”

The Doctor sighs and reaches for her hand, taking it between both of his. “It might not have been real. That may not have been your home or your - husband or your kids. But they were very real to you.

“But - ”

He sighs and squeezes her hand. “No matter what you know – rationally – you can’t help how you feel,” he continues quietly, only too aware of how closely what he’s saying could as well be applied to himself.

Donna puffs out a long breath and he releases her hand so that he can sling an arm across the back of the seat. Immediately, she moves closer and leans into him and he lets his arm drop until it’s around her shoulders and he can rub his hand lightly up and down her upper arm.

“I know,” she says eventually, letting her head come to rest on his shoulder. “It’s just… I dunno, I thought all that was behind me, you know? All that business with Lance, then meeting you, sending you off with a flea in your ear - ”

The Doctor chuckles at that, and pulls her closer, glancing down to see her lips curve into a small smile.

At the same time, she looks up and her smile fades.

His hand stops.

Donna’s eyes, bright and very blue, are looking intently into his. The slightest of frowns furrows her brow and her lips are ever-so-slightly pursed, lending her an air of gentle puzzlement. He can feel her breath, warm and sweet on his skin and slowly, he reaches out to brush a wayward strand of hair from her cheek. Her eyes flicker briefly with surprise, but she doesn’t move, and so he allows his hand to linger, lets the backs of his fingers trail softly down her face, briefly tracing the line of her jaw with one finger. The silence that’s fallen around them feels suddenly oppressive and he’s almost sure one of his hearts just skipped a beat – when Donna licks her lips and swallows, that small, involuntary gesture breaking the daze into which he’s fallen and he lets his hand drop.

She blinks a little bemusedly and clears her throat just as he’s doing the same thing. He reaches up to rub the back of his neck, and puffs out a breath: these weird ‘moments’ between him and his companion seem to be happening more and more often of late.

Beside him, Donna sniffs and then straightens up and turns towards him.

“You had a crappy day, too.”

“Not one of my best, no,” he agrees.

“So,” she says, dropping her gaze to her hands, clasped in her lap. “Who was she?”

The Doctor doesn’t reply straight away. “River?”

Donna nods.

“I really don’t know,” he replies softly. “She’s from my future, that much is clear. She’s clever and she’s – she was – brave. Other than that…” he shrugs.

“And… if she was from your future, that means…”

“Yeah,” he says, stringing out the word. “I’m going to meet her again someday.”

“That’ll be - ”

“Awkward?”

“Not what I was going to say, but… yeah.”

“Hm.”

“It can’t have been easy though,” Donna muses. “For her, I mean. Your not knowing her. Having to be careful what she said all the time… ”

“Probably not,” he agrees absently.

Donna looks up and into his eyes once more. “And now she’s… where I was. In CAL?”

He swallows hard and looks away. “I couldn’t let her die. Not like – Not – not for me. It’s – too many have - ”

The Doctor feels her hand come to rest on top of his. She gives it a firm squeeze and he turns to look at her, grateful for the understanding he can see in her eyes. How has this happened, he wonders. He’d intended to comfort her and now she’s comforting him instead.

And then he remembers.

“Cos I’m alright, too.”

It’s what they do.

Donna stands up and smooths down her jeans. “Come on,” she says, holding out her hand, just as he’d done in the Library earlier.

He takes her hand and gets up, too. “Where are we going?”

“I’m going to have a shower and get changed. You’re going to pick us up a takeaway and then we’re going to slob about and watch Monty Python.”

She starts to lead him away, but after a couple of steps, he stops and tugs gently on her hand. She turns to face him, a look of gentle enquiry on her face.

He glances down at their joined hands, then looks up and smiles softly. “Thanks.”

She shrugs and smiles back. “Nothing to thank me for.”

“You know that’s not true,” he says, seriously.

He can see she’s affected by his words – but knows she’ll protest. “Oh… shut up, you prawn,” she says affectionately, nudging him in the side with her elbow.

He makes a token “ow!” sound, but he’s grinning at her as she rolls her eyes at him before heading off in the direction of her room. The Doctor stuffs his hands into his pockets and rocks on his heels, whistling the Lumberjack Song as he watches her go.


* * * * * * * * *


5.

What could possibly go wrong?

He folds her into the circle of his arms, pulls her close and just ... holds on tight. He’s so tired and so cold inside, that it takes a few seconds for him to properly register Donna’s warmth as it slowly bleeds into him. The Doctor doesn’t know how long they stand there clinging to each other, but it’s not until he feels her release a long, shuddering sigh that he allows himself to relax into her embrace and close his eyes, gratefully accepting her silent offering of comfort and understanding. She’s warm and soft and real; and he breathes her in gratefully, letting his cheek settle against her hair; her scent - clean, fresh and oh, so familiar - slowly filling his nostrils.

In that instant, he owns up to something he’s known for some time, something he’s not comfortable admitting even to himself.

Donna is his lifeline.

She’s his lifeline, and if he ever loses her, he’ll be completely adrift.

He sighs. When had that happened? How had that happened? And more to the point, how had he let that happen?

As if sensing he’s trying to process a dilemma of some kind, Donna pulls back a little, her eyes searching his face anxiously. The Doctor looks at her steadily, lifts one corner of his mouth in a smile, even though he’s well aware it’s not even a shadow of his normal gregarious grin. He’d intended to try to reassure her, but instead, she emits a strangled whimper and just throws herself back into his embrace, her head nestled into his shoulder. He feels her hold on him tighten and stares down at the top of Donna’s head, almost mesmerised by the way the rather harsh lighting is somehow emphasising the warmth and intensity of the colour of her hair – and he can’t help it. He’s too shaken, too exhausted to be able to fight the familiar impulse; and just this once, he allows himself to give in and touch it.

When he starts a gentle stroking motion from crown to nape, she doesn’t protest, doesn’t pull away; and in fact, if he wasn’t so knackered, he could swear she’s actually leaning into him a bit – although of course, he must be imagining that.

Then he hears his name. “Doctor,” she says quietly, lifting her face. He blinks her into focus and thinks how young and vulnerable she looks, with no make-up and her hair pulled back, its vibrancy contrasting so strongly with the stark white of the robe she’s wearing.

He looks into her eyes and finds that at last he can offer her a genuine smile. Relief floods her face and without taking her eyes from his, she returns it warmly. Her expression is full of tenderness when her smile fades, and as he continues to hold her gaze, he feels something inside him lurch alarmingly at what else he thinks he can see there.

Just mates, they’d said - and they are, it’s true. She’s probably the best friend he’s ever had.

But the Doctor knows he’s been hiding from himself. Hiding and lying. Telling himself he doesn’t want what he wants, trying to ignore all those times when he’s felt that pull, that connection between them; those times there have been a definite spark between them of something other than simple companionship – because this is him and Donna. Donna, who just wants to be his friend and him.... well, he doesn’t want complications.

But that was then and this is now. Then, he’d been looking over his shoulder at the way he’d treated Martha, and how his wilful ignorance of her feelings had almost ruined her life. And now... now he’s tired. Physically and mentally exhausted, not only after the events of today, but – and not that he’d admit this to anyone – holding it together after all that’s happened over the last few weeks and months has been a bit of a strain. In fact, if he didn’t know better, he’d be starting to think that the Universe had it in for him.

In more ways than one.

He’s dealt with wars, oppression, invisible, mind-stealing entities, flesh-eating shadows, Daleks, Cybermen and a whole host of other alien races plotting to wipe out planets or take over the Universe. Yet sometimes he thinks that dealing with those is easier than continually having to hide the fact that there are times when he’s thought of Donna Noble in ways which he’s sure are distinctly un-‘mate’- like. Perhaps that’s because he has more experience with evil aliens and megalomaniac dictators than with having inappropriate thoughts about his travelling companions.

But seeing the affection, the concern in Donna’s eyes, conscious of the way she’s holding him so tightly, of the slight increase in her heart rate, of the softness of her hair, the scent of her warm, clean skin ... it’s as though his senses are on overload; and something inside snaps.

He cups her cheek, bends his head - and kisses her softly, just the lightest pressure of his lips against hers. Without opening his eyes, he pulls back slightly, not sure whether he’s expecting to be yelled at or slapped – but neither of those things happens. Donna hasn’t moved. He can feel her breath against his mouth, and he half-opens his eyes, looking down at her to see her lips slightly parted, her face still upturned. Encouraged, he kisses her again, letting his lips linger against hers, long enough to feel their softness, long enough to learn the shape of her mouth… which is moving slowly under his. And that’s all he needs to know as he gathers her closer, his arms winding tightly around her waist as hers wrap around his neck.

He can hear the blood pounding in his ears, and there’s an odd, long-forgotten feeling at the pit of his stomach as he lets himself get lost in her scent, her taste, as her lips part beneath his. He abandons himself to sensation, aware only of the soft, pliant woman in his arms, of the sweet taste of her mouth, the fullness of her lips and the warmth of her body.

They’re almost thigh-to-thigh; he can feel her breasts pressed against his chest, warm through the cotton of his shirt and t-shirt. His head is swimming – whether from exhaustion or elation, he doesn’t know or care – all he knows right at this moment is that Donna is in his arms – voluntarily – and that he wants more. He slides a hand from her waist to cup the back of her head, and kisses her harder, deeper, plundering her mouth and taking everything she’s offering him. Her fingers wind into his hair, her nails scratch lightly at his scalp and he’s successively surprised and delighted to find that her response to him is as enthusiastic as is his to her and she’s kissing him back heatedly, her desperation matching his own.

They part briefly, and he bends to rest his forehead against hers. He can see her lashes resting against the rose and cream of her now flushed complexion, and he brings his hands to her face and pulls back, tipping her face upward to can kiss her again, more slowly this time so that he can make sure that what just happened wasn’t the product of a fevered imagination. Donna flicks her tongue across his lower lip and then opens to him eagerly, almost as if she can sense his insecurity. Then she slides her hands down his chest and under his coat and jacket and winds them around his waist underneath as their mouths meet over and over in a succession of deep, languid kisses.

Eventually, they part, both breathing heavily. Donna is flushed, her lips rosy and slightly swollen; she looks as though she’s been thoroughly kissed and the Doctor can’t stop the little twinge of smugness he feels at the idea of his being the one to have made her look like that. But that feeling quickly vanishes when he sees the expression on her face turn slowly from one of satisfaction to one of unease.

“Well,” she swallows hard, pushes a strand of hair behind her ear and steps back, blushing furiously. “That was – er - ”

“Nononono...” the Doctor stammers, scratching the back of his head as he tries to get his brain into gear so that he can find the right thing to say. “It was all my - ”

“I mean,” she interrupts, “you’ve just had the day from hell and we’ve just made it worse, but - ”

He opens his mouth to speak, but she doesn’t let him. “I was really scared, you know,” she continues. “I know it’s no excuse for -” she comes to an abrupt halt, clearly not wanting to further elaborate on what has just taken place.

“Donna,” he grabs her hands and holds them still between his, his mind now working furiously. “Donna,” he repeats earnestly, dipping his head in an attempt to encourage her to lift hers.

It works.

She raises her eyes to his and then flicks her gaze away. And then he realises. She’s worried that he’ll want to be rid of her because she thinks things just got complicated.

He watches the blush tingeing her cheeks, her lips, parted and still moist from his kisses and smiles. Sontarans, crazed-Ood be damned. This is harder than any of that, but he’s going to go for it anyway.

He reaches for Donna’s hand and closes the distance between them, looking down at her intently. “It’s alright,” he says, with a shaky grin. “I was scared, too. More scared than I can remember being in… in a long time. And I’m tired and angry and disappointed and... oh, so many things after today, but I believe I can state, categorically and absolutely that what – just happened has in no way made anything worse.”

Donna cocks an eyebrow in that way she does when he’s used ten words when one would have done.

He reaches out and places his palm against her cheek, sighing with relief when she doesn’t bat it away and, if anything, leans into it a little.

“Are you sure?” she asks quietly. “I mean, we said - ”

He places a finger on her lips and looks into her eyes, intently. “Completely sure.”

He rubs her cheekbone with his thumb. But don’t worry,” he says seriously. “Next time you kiss me, I’ll let you take the blame if you want.”

She steps back and folds her arms. “Next time?”

He sniffs, beginning to feel a little more like his old self again. “Well -”

You kissed me!” she exclaims, poking him in the chest for emphasis.

“Well, you were groping me!”

“I did no such - ” She stops, purses her lips and then puffs out a sigh. “Oh, bollocks.”

This time, there’s no possibility of an argument later. She grabs his lapels and pulls him to her, kissing him long and hard.

When they part, both somewhat breathless, she smacks him soundly on the arm.

“Ow!”he splutters, rubbing his forearm. “That really was your fault! What did I do?”

Her eyes are a little overbright as she smiles widely at him. “You pillock – whaddya think?”

She flings her arms around him again. “You made it back.”


* * * * * * * * *



6.

We had the best of times...

He feels actual, physical pain as he rips each memory from her mind, every one wounding him like a knife to the gut.

But he has to do this. He has to because there’s no other choice. He isn’t about to let her die, not Donna, not after River and Jenny and the hostess and Astrid and the countless others he wasn’t able to save.

He can do this. It’s killing him, but enough is enough and there will be No More Death today.

Especially not Donna’s, because the world needs Donna Noble.

Maybe almost as much as he does.

And it’ll be a better world for having her in it.

When it’s over, Donna sags, unconscious, into the Doctor’s arms. He clasps her to him tightly, squeezing his eyes shut to try to stop the visions that are dancing in front of him – her face, tear-stained and panic-stricken as she’d pleaded with him, No! But it doesn’t help. He thinks that her looks of horror and desperation will stay with him forever, as will the sound of her voice begging him not to do what he knew had to be done.

He takes a deep, steadying breath and then lowers them both gently to the floor. The grating is hard and cold through the fabric of his trousers, but he pays no attention to any discomfort, indeed, he doesn’t really notice.

He cradles Donna in his arms and looks down at the now peaceful expression on her face. Brushing a strand of her hair to one side, the Doctor runs the backs of his fingers slowly down her cheek, his memory treacherously reminding him of how often he’d done that in recent weeks, and of how he’d continued to marvel at the fact that he was at last able to touch her in that way.

Once, she’d promised him forever; and even though he knows she was well aware that for him, there could be no such thing, he wants to rage that the short time they’d had wasn’t enough. That it isn’t fair; that he needs someone, that he needs her - and they need more time.

But nobody knows better than the Doctor that things don’t work like that.

Donna Noble was – no, is - the most important woman in the whole of creation; destined now never to know of the incredible things she’s done, the places she’s been, the people and myriad of different creatures she’s met.

She’d saved the Universe – and paid the price. And if the Universe wouldn’t save her, then that task fell to him, the only being left in it who could understand what was happening to her, and who had the power to stop it.

The Doctor pulls Donna closer and rests his cheek against the top of her head. A faint, fruity smell wafts into his nostrils, a smell he now knows belongs to her favourite shampoo, something she’d picked up on Doldarus Minor. She’d liked it so much, she’d insisted on a return visit so she could buy a huge vat of the stuff.

“Oh, Donna...” he sighs. “I’m so sorry. I never wanted - .” The Doctor’s voice breaks as anger and despair threaten to overwhelm him; and he swallows hard, fighting to regain his self-control.

When he’s managed to calm himself a little, he speaks again, his voice low and tinged with menace.

“Enough is enough.”

Right then and there, he vows that he’ll never travel with anyone ever again. He’s lost too many people he’s cared about and he can’t – he won’t – risk that any more. He’s trouble – always has been and always will be, and even though he can hear Donna’s voice from years ago, telling him to find someone, he’s determined that he won’t. He doesn’t need anyone after all; doesn’t want anyone after her. He’ll do just fine on his own.

If he doesn’t let anyone get close, then there’s no chance of their getting hurt.

And no chance of his ever feeling like this again.

Awkwardly, the Doctor removes his jacket and folds it into a makeshift pillow, then lowers Donna gently to the floor. A little stiffly, he gets to his feet and moves to the console to check that they’re still on course.

He makes a few minor adjustments to their trajectory, takes a quick look at the scanner and then goes back to Donna’s side, sits down and pulls her unconscious form back into his arms.

“The most important woman in the whole of creation,” he whispers softly, running his fingers through her hair one last time. “Donna Noble.”

His best friend. His better half.

There’s only one thing more that he can do for her now. He’s going to fulfil a promise he’d made to her months back, in what seems another lifetime ago.

If something happens to me... I want you to be the one to tell them.

He’s taking her home.





End.
 
 
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
 
 
 
Jennifer: Animated UW kisstime_converges on December 3rd, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
Oh, this is beautiful - wonderful and heartbreaking, and totally what happened in the scenes we didn't see. I love how you've captured the Doctor here - it sounds so like him. :) I love it!!
caz: DW so not marriedcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Like I said, I've not posted anything in AGES, and I've had this on the back-burner for so long, I was worried about being a bit rusty (so to speak!)

But I'm really glad you liked it :)
Jennifertime_converges on December 3rd, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
Yes, I might have squeed a bit when I saw you had posted. :D
caz: DW Ten and Donna not from Marscaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
I am always pleased to have evoked squee! (Which is very flattering *blushes*)
Katherine: DW - Doctor/Donna kiss (animated)katherine_b on December 3rd, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
Golly, here I am all choked up by that ending, but I absolutely both it and the growing emotions of all the other parts, leading up to that (those?) kiss(es). A wonderful series of emotional punches walloping the Doctor firmly in the head. Lovely stuff!
caz: DW Midnight hugcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry! But the ending was always in my head, even before I knew what all the other parts were going to be. And even though I tried several times to come up with something else, nothing worked. You know how it is - sometimes you just have to go with gut instinct.

But I'm glad you liked it anyway. I hope to be able to come up with something in a lighter vein soon!
lilsum4lilsum4 on December 3rd, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
Ooooh, this was so good. I love their kiss on midnight, and the teasing after. And the end...WHY DO YOU WANT TO MAKE ME CRY?! What did I ever do to you to deserve this?? *sob*
caz: Ten & Donna domestic?caz963 on December 3rd, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about the end - but like I've just said upthread, it was in my head right from the start, and even though I didn't really want to end that way, in the end, it just felt like the right choice.

Please be assured you've done nothing to offend me ;-) and I'll try to write something a bit less angsty next time!
lilsum4lilsum4 on December 4th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Ooh, I know, but it still hurts! awwww, agony...season 4 just kills me.
canterlevi: specksycanterlevi on December 3rd, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
Lovely, lovely, lovely. Nice to see this all come together. And I really think you nailed the Doctor's POV at the end of JE. It draws a clear line from JE to his eventual breakdown during The Waters of Mars - the beginning of the end, as you put it.
caz: Ten hearts Donnacaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
It's nice to have finally finished it after all this time!

I'm so pleased with what you've said about the last section being a pointer to what happened later, because that's how I hoped it would come across :-)

Thanks for all the encouragement *hugs*
Stef: Donna brilliantsczep84 on December 3rd, 2011 08:21 am (UTC)
So beautifully written, I loved their growing emotions, the way u wrote the Doctor, so him! The ending broke my heart tho but then again that's so Donna's story: heartbreaking, sigh :(

Thanks a lot for sharing !!
caz: Ten & donna universecaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much - I love to hear that I've got the characterisation right, because it's always my number one priority.

I'm glad you liked it.
(Deleted comment)
caz: DW lawfully biodampedcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 12:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for reading and taking the time to comment - I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Chloris: Doctor&Donnachloris on December 3rd, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Lovely. You killed me with the end. *sniff* It was all sexy ust, sexy ust, kiss!, and then angst. Poor Ten. Poor Donna.
caz: DW Ten Donna Tardiscaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Awwww, thanks! And I'm sorry about the smack-in-the-face ending, but it didn't seem to want to let me do anything else!

But I'm glad you liked it, despite the angsty ending.
Angelangel1605 on December 3rd, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, I love this fic! It was a true delight to read it =)
caz: DW Ten reminiscingcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and for the kind words. Like I said, I've not written anything in a while and it's been a bit of a struggle to get this one finished, so I'm pleased it's worked!

t.: Doctor & Donna Kisskarlamartinova on December 3rd, 2011 07:48 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and perfect and so true :) Your scenes fit perfectly with the canon and it makes this story so wonderfully real.

Absolute love!
caz: DW Ten & Donna Oodcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much - I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!
kira!kiraboshi on December 3rd, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness, that was beautiful, and the end is just...heartbreaking. This is so in-character and wonderful and sweet and totally becoming headcanon for me, because it just...fits.
caz: DW Ten & Donna FotDcaz963 on December 3rd, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)
catherinecatzeta08 on December 4th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
beautiful. ohgod le tears ;________;

"His best friend. His better half."

image


caz: Doing Shakespearecaz963 on December 5th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

*sniggers at gif*
Topaz Eyes: DoctorDonnatopaz_eyes on December 6th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
This is lovely! I'm glad you decided to finish it--you captured Ten and Donna perfectly in each vignette.
caz: ten & Donna happycaz963 on December 6th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much. I was worried I was a bit out of practice with the voices, so it means a lot that you think I got them right.
nipponophile05: Donna serious snownipponophile05 on December 17th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
Waah! That was beautiful but the last part was SO sad.

*Goes off to corner to sniffle some more*
caz: DW Ten Donna Tardiscaz963 on December 18th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
I'm pleased you liked it, even if it made you sad. But sometimes, things kinda write themselves, don't they? And this wouldn't let me write it any other way.

Thanks for reading.