celestine_fics: Rose Tyler from Doctor Who taking in the Time Vortex (TV - Doctor Who - TARDIS!Rose)
celestine_fics ([personal profile] celestine_fics) wrote2010-05-19 07:53 am
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Doctor Who fic: A Life of Missing Things; Rating: G

Title: A Life of Missing Things
Author: [personal profile] celestineangel
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Donna and Ten.
Summary: At the end of her life, Donna receives one final gift.
Word Count: 1,830
Rating: A surprising G.
Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em, making no money from ‘em, leave me alone.

There are things missing, and Donna Noble isn’t aware of most of them.

She is aware of a time early in her life when her memories blur even more vaguely than most, when it seems as though all her days were exactly the same. And when she thinks “exactly,” that’s what she means; her clothing changes, her hairstyle changes, but on any given day in that span of time she remembers her actions as exactly the same. It can’t be true, it means nothing more than she is dotty with age.

She is aware of the times over the whole of her life when she has blacked out. All she can remember is a burning sensation in her head, as though it were on fire, and then she would wake up hours later with no recollection of where she’d been or why it happened. At first it was troublesome for her and her husband, but her mother and granddad assured her it was nothing. They would never answer when she asked how they knew. After a while, when the blackouts never interfered with her life and then happened with less frequency, she stopped worrying. After all, no doctor could find anything wrong with her.

She is aware that sometimes she snaps out of strange fantasies that fade quickly thereafter, and she is aware now that she is older and has thought on it that more often than not a fantasy precedes a blackout.

Sometimes she thinks she hears… but then it’s gone and if she thinks on it too hard, well she knows what will happen.


Donna Noble is a woman who has never been quite satisfied with a perfectly wonderful, perfectly happy life.

She married a wonderful man, and for her wedding gift her mother and granddad gave them what turned out to be a winning lottery ticket. Her family has never had to want for anything, and her children are far more educated and successful than she or Shaun ever were, and they thank her for it now, they do.

Shaun loves her, she knows he does, and she loves him. She would never, ever give him up, or the children who call her “Mother.” They mean the world to her, the universe even.

Yet… yet. There is a sound that plays over and over in her mind, a sound like nothing she can remember ever hearing in her life, but it’s there all the same. It comes and goes through her life like a thread, pulsing to the beat of her heart, and in that sound she can hear the call of a might-have-been. She doesn’t even know what she means by that, only that it hurts her head and her heart to think about it.

There is a lovely house on a lovely block with all her belongings and memories in it; she loves that house and all it holds, but there are days she thinks if a stranger came with a promise of something more exciting she would follow without a blink. Would she really? Could she? Leave behind all she has done and made?

Years ago, she wouldn’t have thought all of this. Donna knows she has never been the deepest of women. Time takes its toll on the shallowest of minds.


Donna absolutely loves Agatha Christie novels, though she can’t tell you why. She didn’t always. Perhaps it has something to do with why she’s not happy. Mystery, adventure, excitement. Sometimes she laughs it off as imagination, sometimes she can’t breathe for the certainty she was meant for a larger destiny.

Well, whatever it might have been is gone now. Donna is seventy-six years old, a widow, and all too often a forgotten mother. Her chances of fulfilling Earth-shattering destinies have run out.

There are days she misses Shaun so much she thinks it won’t be long until she joins him.

There are days she almost forgets he ever existed, and wonders what her life would have been if that were true.

There are days she wonders if it really is true, and if her entire life were a lie, like some virtual simulation. On a tiny fraction of these days she is so convinced this is the truth of her existence that she tears up her house looking for cracks in the foundation of reality. Her neighbor hears her screaming, calls her children, who come home to find her crying and denying they exist. Some days it’s easier to believe they don’t really exist.


Eighty-four now, she is eight-four years old and has come to the end of her life’s spool of thread. It’s all right. It’s time for the headaches and blackouts and delusions to end.

Her children are in the house downstairs, along with their spouses and kids, sometimes with ex-spouses. Gracious, to think Charlie and Daisy still want to be here though they aren’t legally part of her family anymore. She must’ve made something of herself if they’re here, yeah?

Johnny, her youngest, opens the door and comes to sit at her bedside. Strange. Her adult life is spotted with blackouts, and her memory’s been going fast these past few years, but in the last week she hasn’t forgotten a single thing. This week remains clear as crystal in her mind, every detail, from the faces of the people who have come to say goodbye to the trimmings on the clothes they wear. Now, as Johnny takes her hand, she can see the wrinkles in his face and knows she would remember them if she had another forty years left in her.

“Mom, there’s someone else here to see you.” Johnny looks troubled as he says this, though she can’t imagine why he would. “He says he’s an old friend.”

Donna laughs, though only for a moment. “He would be, wouldn’t he? Hobbling around like some sort of—” She stops, knowing her coming words to be unkind, rather too much like her younger self. “Go on, send him in. What’s his name, anyway?”

Johnny gets up and go to the door, and only then does he answer her, his back turned. “He says his name is John Smith.” Then he’s gone.

John Smith? What kind of name was that? It nagged her, though, telling her she should remember such a ridiculous and boring name as John Smith. It was probably an alias anyway, most John Smiths you met these days were because who was really cruel enough to name their Baby Smith John.

The door opens again, a tall, gangling, goofy sort of man walks in, and Donna gasps.

She remembers him. Miraculously, she remembers him, because the day she met him she’d hardly paid attention to him, was rather rude, actually, and hadn’t thought on him a day in her life since. She remembers him because he looks exactly the same.

“What is this?” she manages to ask, though her breath has gone somewhat wheezy. It’s the damn shock.

For some reason, she expects him to grin, but he only gives her a sad smile and comes to occupy the seat her Johnny vacated minutes before. His face—a face she thinks of as meant for goofy grins and silly expressions, though she doesn’t know why because she doesn’t know him—is set very grim, and not just for her. This is the grimness of a man facing his own death, she knows, she’s seen it often enough in relatives and friends.

“Donna Noble,” he says to her, his voice familiar, “I’m going to give you something. I took it for a very good reason, but you should have it back now.”

“I-I don’t—”

“You will.”

He reaches for her then, and only the depth of his eyes keeps her from trying to scream, to struggle. The depth of his eyes speaks only of compassion, even of love, and for those reasons she trusts him, even if he has lied about his name.

Her head starts to burn before he ever touches her, an old and familiar feeling, but he only smiles, still sad. “Oh no, not this time. This time is for keeps.” His fingers touch her forehead, and she can’t feel them, why can’t she feel his fingers, but then she realizes it must be because his fingers are as burning hot as her head. In fact, he doesn’t look well at all. Yes, he’s dying, just as surely as she—

Pompeii, save at least one, just one, Doctor, oh gods, the Ood hold their brains in their hands, the Doctor-Donna, the men have fish-heads and the numbers are dates, I want to travel with him forever, I would have traveled with you forever, the Doctor-Donna in the TARDIS.


So sad, his eyes are so sad as he smiles at her. One of his hands strokes her hair, long since gone white. “I’m dying, you’re dying. I thought you’d want to die as your whole self.”

Burning, her head is burning, no, not her head, her mind. Her mind burns, filling her with so many ideas, so many worlds and words and people and things she’d forgotten because he took them from her to protect her from exactly what is happening. She knows so much now, so very much, about the whole of time and space and what could have been and what will be.

“D-Doctor!” She grasps the sleeve of his coat, barely able to see him now around the edges of her burning corneas.

“I’m sorry, Donna. I’m so sorry.”

She can see him, not before her but in her mind’s eye, see the man he will become after he leaves her, and she can see the girl, both the young, trusting girl and the older, harder version. Donna grips his sleeve tighter and yanks with all her remaining strength.

“What?” he asks. “Donna, what is it?”

“D-Don’t… don’t be an arse, Spaceman. She’ll need you.”

A flare cuts off anything he might have to say to that. She can no longer see him through the burning, or hear him through the sounds of the flames in her mind.


He watches her fade until the very last light goes out from her eyes. She’d been in pain, but he thought she would think of it as worth it, to die with her memories intact. What had she meant by that last, though?

He tries to see, but as always, he can’t see past his regeneration. That part of the future with its might-be’s and could-be’s is cut off from him.

Pain of his own lances through his gut and out through the rest of his body. He can’t stay here, he still has one more place to go, one more person to see for the last time before the veil lifts and he can know what lie beyond this life.

I don’t want to go, he thinks, almost desperately, as he stands and leaves her bedside. I don’t want to go.