Pairings/Characters: Doctor/Rose, Donna, Martha, Jack, Wilf, a little Sylvia, Ianto, Gwen, Jack/Ianto
Spoilers: Journey's End
Summary: Donna remembers the Doctor
Disclaimer: Don't own it. If I did, less hearts would be broken.
A/N: Second (technically 3rd) in my "Solutions" series. The first part of which is here: http://neko-chan42.livejournal.com/58524.html with a drabbley addition here: http://neko-chan42.livejournal.com/58656.html
They were lying in bed. They both still had their clothes on. They hadn't made love. They were both too physically and emotionally exhausted. Plus, the Doctor was still feeling guilty and Rose was still a little angry.
They were lying side by side on his bed facing each other. Rose was fighting sleep to talk to him a little longer. "I don't want you to be alone," she said. "Not ever."
"I'm sorry," said the Doctor. "What I did, I did out of love. Cowardice as well, I suppose, but mostly love."
"Why are you so afraid of happiness?" asked Rose.
"It's not the happiness itself I'm afraid of; It's the losing it." He gazed at her with eyes full of love and sorrow. "Everything I have gets taken away. I've learned not to let myself get too attached. I couldn't help myself with you though. The love just welled up inside of me from the day we met and by the time I realized what was happening it was too late to fight it. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to fight it no matter what. I knew I couldn't spend the rest of my life with you, no matter how much I wanted to. I thought I'd take what I could get and spend the rest of yours with you. But then Canary Wharf happened and I had to learn to live without you. I think I loved you even more when I lost you." He lay his hand tenderly on her face. "It hurt so much, but I couldn't let it go. You kept my hearts beating. Then all this happened and there was a version of me who really could spend the rest of his life with you. I wanted to give you that."
"Have I ruined everything by coming back?" She was worried she'd made his sacrifice insignificant. That he'd rather she be over there with the other Doctor.
"No! Of course not," he reassured her.
"I'm sorry you'll have to watch me grow old," she said regretfully. "I know it'll hurt you. I never wanted to do that."
He took her hand in both of his and brought it up between them. "I love you enough to do that. It will hurt, yes, but it is better, I think, than living without you. Better than wasting the memories we could make. And it is nice to know that there is a version of us living the day-to-day life and growing old together. Even if we can't."
Rose smiled. "We can be happy for a long time. Even if I can't give you your version of forever. I'll take care of myself better. I won't be so reckless anymore. I'll eat better, stay healthy. I want to make my forever longer for you."
The Doctor was touched. "And with our access to future medicine and the TARDIS's immune boost, you could live to 160 or older without your body breaking down."
"No Depends or Alzheimer's?" she joked.
"No, none of that," he chuckled a bit.
"I'm so glad I'm home." She snuggled into his chest and tucked her head under his chin.
He kissed the top of her head. "Me too."
And with that, Rose let sleep take her.
The next morning Rose went to her old room to get some clothes. Everything was just as she'd left it. It felt strange and wonderful to be in here again. She sat down on her old bed. Nothing was even dusty. She supposed the TARDIS didn't get dust. Her old purple shirt was on the bed. She tried to remember the last time she wore it. She remembered folding clothes in the console room to take to her mum's for the washing up. She thought she had left it there. She held it up to look at it, see if she could wear it today. There was a thin film of something on it and it was a bit stiff. She realized her pillow was the same way.
"All right in here?" the Doctor stood in the doorway.
"Doctor, what's this?"
"It's you're shirt," he said.
She rolled her eyes. "No, I mean there's stuff on it. My pillow too."
His eyes widened. "Oh..."
"What is it?"
"That's...tears." If it was possible to look sad and embarrassed at the same time, he did. "And...maybe a bit of snot...well, a lot."
She looked at him with wide eyes. He cried in here? How many time times?
"I'm sorry," he said quickly, grabbing the shirt from her hands . "I forgot about that. Let me get that cleaned for you." He quickly began taking her pillowcase off, but she stopped him and grabbed his face in her hands, kissing him.
He kissed her back, first gently and then more fiercely. Oh, he had missed her so much. Her lips were so soft and she smelled so good. Even after running around and spending the night in the same clothes, she smelled amazing! Perhaps a human would not have thought so, but she smelled so very Rose, even in the sweat and the dirt and the ash. One hand tangled in her hair while the other wrapped around her back clutching her to him. And then the phone rang.
He could hear it in the console room. Ring Ring, Stop enjoying yourself, Ring Ring, You have work to do. That phone never rang unless the world was ending. But why now? He wasn't ready! Ring Ring! Fine.
The kiss stopped. "I should get that," he said. He didn't move.
"Yeah," Rose answered.
He steeled himself and gave her one quick kiss before dashing off to get the phone. There would be time for that later, he convinced himself.
"Hello?" he answered, falsely polite.
"Doctor, it's Martha. I just ran into Donna at the shop and she acted like she didn't know who I was."
The Doctor stilled. "...Oh."
"What's going on?" she sounded angry. She must have been able to tell from his tone that he'd known about this.
"Did you mention my name?" he asked quickly.
He sighed. "Good."
"Doctor, What's happened?"
"It was the metacrisis," he answered sadly. "It was killing her. I had to take it all away."
"It was the only way. A human mind can't handle the consciousness of a Time Lord. I had no choice."
"But all of her memories of you?" she asked sadly. "You worked together so well. She really cared for you."
"I know. I cared for her too. I cared a lot. She was brilliant. Like a sister to me. But my consciousness was ingrained so deep in her mind that the only way to put it back together again was to take it all away."
"You couldn't have kept her on board afterwards?"
"She can't remember me." he choked on the words as he said them. "Besides," he sucked it up, changing tact. "When she first met me she didn't like me all that much," He smiled, remembering her screeching at him in her wedding dress.
"That doesn't seem right. You shouldn't have to lose someone else like that."
"She's safer this way anyway."
"Oh, there it is!"
"That whole, 'I'm too dangerous. I'm better off alone.' thing."
"I'm not alone! I've got Rose." He didn't feel right defending himself since the only reason he did have Rose was that she fought to get back to him. He had pushed her away. He had made himself alone.
"I still don't think it's right, but I guess I can't make you do anything," she conceded. "I just called to see what was happening. I'll let you get back to Rose now." There was a pause. "Bye, Doctor."
"Goodbye, Martha." He hung up the phone and stared at it. He really would miss Donna. He loved her. Not romantically of course, but she'd helped him in so many ways and they'd grown so close. He remembered how she'd begged him not to take it away. But he'd done what he had to.
"That's what happened to Donna?"
He turned around. Rose must have followed him to the console room.
"I thought she was just visiting her family or something," said Rose.
"She was dying. I had to do it." He didn't know why he was defending himself. She wasn't accusing him.
"There was really no other way?"
"No. There was no time. This was quickest."
Rose looked mournful. "I really liked Donna."
He hugged Rose. "Me too."
Donna woke with a start. She'd had another dream with that man in it again. She couldn't really remember it. There was fire and she may have been in Rome or Greece or something. She shook her head and went down to breakfast.
Her gramps was already up and poking irritatedly at his grapefruit with his spoon while her mum made the tea. She sat down at the table and leaned over to him.
"What are you really having?"
"Powdered doughnuts," he said conspiratorially. "I'm waiting for your mum to leave so I can get 'em out of their stash."
"What are you two mumbling about over there?" asked Sylvia, coming over with two cups of tea.
"Can I have some more sugar for this?" asked Wilf, changing the subject.
"No," Sylvia answered sternly. "No more sugar. You put enough in your tea as it is."
Sylvia took her tea and went into the sitting room. Wilf got up to check that she wasn't coming back and went to the cabinet above the fridge to dig out his doughnuts.
"Who was that man who was here the other day?"
"What man?" asked Wilf warily.
"The skinny one in the suit. Smith or something."
Wilf froze. "Um...He was my doctor."
"What? What's wrong?" Donna asked concerned.
"Oh, uh, he's just my podiatrist," he said quickly. "It's those bunions again."
"Oh," Donna was relieved. She worried about her granddad. He was old and she loved him so much. "Blimey, I didn't know they made house calls anymore."
"Mm," Wilf grunted distractedly. He wanted Donna safe and he trusted what the Doctor said, but he was torn. She was so much happier, so much more confident with him. "Why do you ask?" he said before thinking.
"I keep having dreams about him."
Wilf looked at Donna. She was looking down at her hands on the table, lost in thought. Beautiful memories she couldn't find. Shouldn't find. "He's just my Doctor, Donna."
"What did you just say?"
"He's just my podiatrist. Leave it alone."
Donna was taken aback. That was an unusually stern tone for her grandfather. Still, she supposed it was nothing. Just one of those weird things dreams do. Taking things you've seen and using the images.
"I'd better get to work." she said, getting up. "The agency called. I'm starting another job today."
"Good, luck dear," said her granddad as she walked out the door.
God, this job stunk! Everyone there was so dreadfully boring! Donna was on her lunch break, but she only really had time for a smoothie. Wasn't it illegal to make lunch breaks this short?
She walked back toward the office. Why did it have to be in Cardiff of all places? Walking past The Millennium Center, she heard someone call her name.
"Donna! Hey, how you doing?"
She turned around. It was a man in a navy blue greatcoat. A very handsome man. "Well, hello," she said.
"Hey, I saw you walking by. Thought I'd say hi." He was American.
"Sorry, do I know you?"
He looked confused. "Donna, it's me."
"I'm no good with faces," she said awkwardly. She was pretty sure she didn't know him though. So how did he know her name? "You know, you're the second person this week to do this to me. Is this some sort of prank?"
"It's me, Jack. What's wrong with you?" he reached for her shoulder, but she stepped back.
"Oi! Don't get all handsy, mister! You may be cute, but I don't know you!"
He looked worried now. "Donna, It's Jack! Jack Harkness? We saved the world together, like, a week ago! I'm an old friend of the Doctor's!"
Donna froze. Memories fell unbidden into her mind. His smiling face, his broken eyes as he said "Her name was Rose", pride in his eyes, planets and wonders, running, friendship, and far too boney hugs.
She dropped her smoothie and clutched at her head. It was killing her, burning behind her eyes.
"Donna!" She distantly heard Jack call out in concern. Her knees gave way, but he caught her before she hit the ground.
Pain, so much pain!
Jack picked Donna up. He hit the button on his com. "Ianto! Tell Gwen to call the Doctor and get out here quick!"
"The Doctor?", came Ianto's voice over the head set.
"Yes, THE Doctor! Hurry!"