How The Winds Are Laughing

by Kathryn A

Universe: Doctor Who
Summary: Lance is dead, H. C. Clemens is dead, her place of work is closed down. Is this some kind of joke? If it is, it's not funny, and Donna is going to find the person responsible and give them a piece of her mind. (A post-"Journey's End" Donna-fixit story.)
Spoilers: New Who S4 through to "Journey's End", "Runaway Bride", traces of S3 and Classic Who also.
Rating: PG (swearing)
Words: 10371

Further notes and thanks at the end of the story.

1. Nothing Ever Happens In This Life Of Mine

"You have got to be kidding me! Is this some kind of joke?"

The deserted street gave her no answer. Neither did the "condemned" sign on the building. The H. C. Clemens building, where she worked. Except that she couldn't get in; none of the doors were unlocked, and her keys were useless. And there were no cars in the parking lot.

"Did someone declare a public holiday while I wasn't looking?" But somewhere inside her, a little tendril of fear uncoiled; the little girl who was teased at school for being a redhead, the one whose mother said she'd never amount to anything; afraid that she was the object of some kind of prank. So she did what she always did: she got angry. She turned around, looking, but she couldn't see anyone to vent her anger on. Nobody hiding in the shadows and laughing. "Bloody wankers!" she yelled, just in case.

I'm a temp. I know how to look things up. So she stomped back to the footpath, and walked two blocks to the nearest public library.


The library was old, dignified in stone. She shivered involuntarily as she walked past the high, wooden bookcases, deep with shadows. Stupid. Since when have you been scared of libraries? She quickened her step, and emerged in the new section used for public internet access. She draped her coat on the back of a chair, sat down, and began to google.

Twenty minutes later, she was angrier than ever. Had someone jiggered the computers? What kind of bastard would mess with the computers for a practical joke? Because it couldn't be true, despite the newspaper headlines bold in front of her. Lance couldn't be dead! They were getting married! Nothing left of Mr. Clemens but his shoes? How morbid was that? Misappropriation of funds, investigation, receivership - no!

Besides, how dense did they think she was, making out that this happened more than eighteen months ago? She wasn't born yesterday! It was December, not August. It was-

She stopped. It was far too warm for December. She'd taken off her coat on the walk over because it was too hot. The sky was too blue, the sun was too bright; it wasn't December.

What the hell was going on? Last night... last night Nerys had called, rabbiting on about planets in the sky, utter nonsense. Gramps had had a visitor; she'd hardly noticed the fellow, brown suit, skinny like a weasel. And... and the rest was a complete blank. What had she been doing yesterday? The day before? Planning the wedding, but... obviously that wasn't the day before yesterday.

How could she forget not getting married? How could she forget Lance dying? It would be like forgetting cutting off your own right arm! Impossible. Was she going crazy? Surely somebody would have noticed that. Somebody would have... yes. Certain people would definitely have noticed.

She was going home, and she was getting some answers.


"Why didn't you tell me?" Donna said.

"How was I to know that you would get up so early?" her mother snapped.

"You've been ill, sweetie," her grandfather said.

"Ill?" Donna said. "But I feel fine!"

"It was a brain thing," Wilf said. "That's why you can't remember."

"Eighteen flippin' months?" Donna said.

"Don't fret, sweetheart," Wilf said. "You're fine now." But he couldn't hide the worry on his face.

"What aren't you telling me?" Donna said. "Have I got a tumor? Am I gonna die? I've got a tumor, haven't I?"

"You're not going to die," her mother said sharply. "Your grandfather is just worried for you, that's all. If you- if you stress about it, you could have a relapse."

Donna sat back. "Oh." She twisted the ring on her finger. "I was afraid I was going crazy," she said in a small voice.

"No, sweetheart," Gramps said, giving her a hug, "you're not going crazy. You're my own Donna and you can take on the world. So don't you let this stop you."

"Thanks, Gramps," she said with a wan smile.

"No point in moping about," her mother said. "You can... you can find a new job. Get your mind off things."

Well, at least that hasn't changed, Donna thought. Same old, same old. Though was there less of a nagging edge to her mother's voice when she brought up the Job Question? Wishful thinking, Donna.

"So what the hell happened?" Donna asked.

"You were ill," her mother said. "We just said-"

"I mean, what happened in the last eighteen months?" Donna snapped back. "Like my own wedding, that I don't flippin' remember! Lance is dead! I saw the papers. How the hell did that happen?"

"Another woman," Sylvia said. "Bloody black widow, he deserved it."

"Lance was murdered by another woman?" Donna said. "He preferred an axe murderer to me?"

"I always said he wasn't good enough for you," Gramps said.

"No you didn't," Donna said with a smile. "You said, 'as long as he makes you happy...'."

"And he didn't make you happy," Gramps said, "so he didn't deserve you." He gave her another hug.

"So after that, you went to Egypt," Sylvia said.

"What did I do that for?" Donna asked.

"Wanted to get away from it all, I expect," Sylvia said.


You open your eyes and look down... and down, and down. A vast room, like a warehouse crossed with a mad scientist's den. There is nothing holding you up. You flail in fear, and find you cannot move. Gossamer threads hold you fast.

Below, Lance is laughing at you. "Did you think I wanted to marry you? I wanted something better."

Something steps out of the shadows, something huge and multi-legged. Red, like blood or rust, many-jointed legs supporting a pendulous thorax; emerging from the body, the torso and head of a woman, her skull flaring like a crown, each section sprinkled with blinking black eyes.

The spider-woman laughs.

Donna shivered as she woke. I think that's taking 'black widow' a bit too far, she thought. Stupid subconcious.

It finally hit her. Lance wasn't going to come around the corner with a cup of coffee for her ever again. Maybe they lied about the other woman, trying to make her feel better, but what was the point, when the man she loved was dead? Dead, gone, buried, never coming back.

She pressed her hands against her mouth, stifling a sob, but she couldn't stop the tears trickling down her face.


The air is fragrant with flowers and fresh-cut grass. The sun casts soothing warmth from a sky of cornflower-blue. The trees ripple in a gentle breeze. The lawn is a perfect green.

A white rabbit in a pin-striped brown suit hops in front of you. "I'm late, I'm late," he says, pulling out a fob watch.

You look at your own watch, but the face is blank.

You look up again, but the white rabbit has vanished.

You feel the weight of beads on your skirt, and realize that you're dressed as a flapper. You stroll across the lawn towards the stately home ahead of you, and the sounds of laughter and tinkling glasses. Another sound distracts you: a hum, a buzz, getting louder and louder. A bee? A wasp? You glance around, not wanting to be stung.

You freeze as a yellow and black shape the size of a man zooms towards you, its gossamer wings thrumming loudly.

You turn and run. If you can get to the trees you might be safe. But no matter how fast you run, the trees grow no closer. The lawn stretches on ahead of you. The buzzing increases, louder and louder. You feel a breeze on the back of your neck, a breeze that isn't the wind. The buzzing is right behind you.

She woke up, heart pounding, and turned off her buzzing alarm. She tried not to think about the nightmare; she had a job again, another temp job yes, but she was the best temp in Chiswick. And if she threw herself into her work she wouldn't have to think about Lance, or the strain around her grandfather's eyes, the way he spent more and more time looking through his telescope, the way she caught him looking at her sometimes, sad and worried.

She didn't ask further about her illness. It was obvious that neither her mother nor her grandfather wanted to talk about it, and that they desperately didn't want her to pursue the subject. That, more than anything, convinced her that she really had been at risk of dying, and that she was still at risk of a relapse. It loomed like a shadow, but she tried to put it out of her mind.


The shelves loom around you. Something is waiting, waiting in the shadows, something hungry.

There is a scream, cut off. You run towards the sound. The light shafts down on a skeleton in a space suit. The skull is picked clean.

The jaw clatters. "You won't tell them, will you?"

"I won't," you say.

"You won't tell them, will you?"

"I won't tell them."

"You won't tell them, will you?"

"Why are you repeating?" you ask.

"Why are you repeating?" the skeleton repeats.

"Stop it!"

"Stop it!"

"Stop repeating what I say!"

"Stop repeating what I say."

You reach out your hand, and stop, horrified, as your fingers melt away, becoming skeletal. You cannot move; you are a statue made of bone. The skull grows flesh even as your own vanishes. It is wearing your face. It has stolen your face.

"Kill the alien," it says.

You are helpless as they drag you towards your death.

There is movement; a door slides open. White, actinic light burns the shadows away, burns the impostor up, burns you, burns everything.

"Burn with me," you say.

Donna stared in the darkness, afraid to go back to sleep. When she closed her eyes, the image of the skull flashed before her. Worse, every time she was close to dropping off, the leaden weight of weariness made her fear that she couldn't move, reawakening the terror of death. Layered on top of that was the fear of fear itself; how was she supposed to avoid stress, avoid a relapse, if she couldn't sleep without nightmares? Her head was pounding as well as her heart. Sharp, stabbing pain, pressure, as if a laser seared through her eyes straight into her brain.

Right. Tomorrow I'm booking into yoga classes. If I make it that far.

The yoga classes helped, as did writing a dream diary. Donna found that writing down her dreams made them less frightening, as if the act of writing gave her some control, put an objective distance between her and her dreams. She joked to herself that she was having adventures in her dreams; becoming a regular Alice in Wonderland.

The terrors were fewer, but that didn't stop the dreams.


The garden is warm, rife with the scent of green, growing things. But you don't look at them, your eyes are only for the the woman dying in your arms, this stranger, your daughter, pale-haired like you used to be, but so much freer. The air stinks of cordite and blood and the ozone of a storm. You kiss her cool forehead goodbye, blinking back the tears.

You blink again. The twins are asleep in their beds, brown and red-headed, the heart of your happy home. You ignore the walls fading around you, flickering in and out of existence. Your son opens his eyes and says, "I'm not real, am I?"

"Of course you're real," you lie. "Now go to sleep."

You brush back your granddaughter's black hair and smile at her elfin face. "Sing to me," she demands.

You sing a lullaby, an old, old song. But the words that fall from your lips are devoid of meaning, as if the sense had been stolen from them, crystalline containers which have no key.

She woke with tears in her eyes and a sadness that haunted her all day. Bright light made her flinch, and she skipped lunch to sit on the floor and do breathing exersizes. They helped a little with the pain, but not the sadness.


Blazing bright, freezing cold, a vast snowfield surrounds you. Mountains loom in the distance. A bridge of icicles tinkles in the crisp breeze.

Faintly at first, but gradually clearer, you hear music; a song. Such a song... beautiful, poignant, sad, as if all the lamentations of all the exiles in history were bound up in one wordless chorus. It pierces your heart with loss and longing; longing for something that is missing, something you cannot find, something you don't know how to look for.

She woke with tears streaming down her face. Sniffling and wiping her eyes, she sat up, but she couldn't stop crying. Every time she thought she'd calmed down, the sense of loss overwhelmed her again. Finally she grabbed several tissues, blew her nose, and took a deep breath. And another, and another.

"I'm fed up with this," she muttered. "If I'm supposed to avoid stress, it jolly well isn't working. What's wrong with me? Well, apart from being on the verge of my brain exploding..." But her head wasn't aching this time. Just her heart, haunted with loss. "I don't know!" She stopped. "I don't know..." she repeated softly. "And not knowing what happened is driving me bonkers." Why else would she be dreaming about lost things? Maybe her brain was trying to tell her something. Saying that it was safe to remember. Safe? Why wouldn't it be safe? Yet another unanswered question, one more in the huge pile that she had been ignoring.

She wasn't going to ignore them any longer.

2. Who Told You A Calf To Be?

Donna didn't bother asking her mother or grandfather about her missing memories. They would just tell her not to stress about it; and what they didn't know, they couldn't worry about. But there were other things she could check: telephone records, employment records, NHS records, newspapers.

The day of her aborted wedding was not only the day Lance died, but the day someone had drained the Thames. How bizarre.

There was no record of her illness in her health records: no doctor's appointments, no hospital stays, no sick leave. The last was explained by the fact that she hadn't actually been working for about a month before her memories started. She asked her girlfriends, and they said she'd been travelling. That might explain it; some exotic tropical disease, treated overseas, outside the system. It might. Or it might not.

Another odd coincidence: she couldn't find any phone records for that month. Or any time since. It was as if her phone had dropped off the network... except that it was still working. No bills, no phone records, but her number was still working. Now that she thought about it, there was another odd thing about her phone: on the day after the so-called planets-in-the-sky incident, she'd found that all her stored phone numbers were gone. She'd just thought it was an accident at the time, but maybe it wasn't. Yet another coincidence confronted her when she checked dates against the newspaper archives: her phone had dropped off the network the same day the cars had all gone crazy and spewed smoke everywhere.


The smoke swirls inside the car, almost obscuring Gramps from sight. He coughs, choking. You frantically try to open the doors, but they are locked. Glass shatters as Mum smashes the windscreen. Both of you pull Gramps out of the car, and support him to the front door.

You push the door open. You are alone, and it is not your house. The light is dim, the walls are dark, the ceiling is low, and there is a humming in the air. You are looking for something. Your heart beats fast, your hands are clammy; they must not find you. You hold your phone before you like a lucky charm. It will tell you where to go.

Donna shivered as she awoke. The first part of that dream: was it a memory? It might have happened like that. She wrote the dream carefully in her dream-diary, trying to recall every detail. It might be important.


The light burns. It sears into your eyes, your mind. It consumes you.

Dark, stifling heat. Flickers of fire. Your eyes adjust to the dimness. Rough walls, rough floor, all tinged with red and orange. The air stinks of sulfur; you want to hold your breath, but you must breathe. You are following someone, someone up ahead in the dimness. Quickly, or he will leave you behind. Yet you must step carefully, for if you stumble you will burn.

You stumble.

The light burns.

Donna breathed deeply through her nose, keeping her eyes closed. She wasn't going to let this dream turn into a headache. Breathe in the life, breathe out the pain, she repeated to herself in her mind. Breathe in the life, breathe out the pain. She blessed her yoga instructor again. This stuff really worked!

She sat up and turned to her dream diary, opening a fresh page.


As she prepared to turn in after another long day, the black cat on the mantlepiece caught her eye. Elegant, thin, its blue-green eyes stared back at her. The style reminded her of something... something she'd seen on a school excursion. Something old. Could she have bought the cat on her trip to Egypt? She picked it up and took it with her to her bedroom.

Once in her pajamas, she sat cross-legged on her bed, holding the cat in front of her. Breathe in, breathe out. Focus on nothing but the cat. She concentrated on the feel of it in her hands, its weight, the smooth polish of its body, the warmth it was picking up from her own body-heat. Relax. Let it come. Relax.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Silence. Darkness. And in her mind's eye, a flicker of memory. The air is hot and dry, with a taste of grit and sand. The air smells of sweat, unwashed bodies, camel dung, fried foods, baking bread. She is haggling with a stallholder for the cat, certain that his first offer is outrageous, even though she doesn't know the actual worth of the trinket. And she can still shout, even when she doesn't know the language.

Donna opened her eyes. "Yes! I remembered!"

And she didn't have a headache, not even a trace.


After that success, she scoured the house for trinkets. Some worked, some didn't. A spiky rubber ball reminded her of the Secret Santa exchange at Lethifers, where she'd been temping just before Christmas last year. A cannister of green tea brought to mind Lily at Oxfam, though she couldn't recall when it was. But the mysterious deep blue necklace in her jewelry box just gave her a headache. She kept trying. Bits and pieces floated to the surface, like seaweed brought in by the tide.


It is night, cold enough that your breath mists before you. Trees rattle and rustle in the breeze. Your heart pounds as you notice that the trees have more than one shadow. You look up. There are three moons in the sky. The largest glows white, cratered in an unfamiliar pattern. Two smaller moons trail it, one a dirty grey, the other a pinkish red.

"It's beautiful," you say.

You look around with a smile, but there is nobody there to hear. Your friend is missing. You want to call out in the darkness, but you can't remember his name. You have to find him. You look through the triple-shadowed trees, but you cannot see him. You stumble, tripped up by mists and shadows.

There is movement ahead, a figure walking through the trees. You hurry to catch up, but even though he seems to be strolling slowly in the silvery light, you get no closer. You cannot see his face.

Donna closed her eyes and thought about the dream. What was her mind trying to tell her? I'm looking for something. I know what that is: I'm looking for my memories. She sighed and looked down at her dream diary, re-reading the account of the dream. Then she paged back and re-read some of the others.

"Doofus!" she chastised herself. "Not something, someone." A friend. Definitely a friend, not a boyfriend. Someone she'd forgotten. Someone important. She sighed again. That still doesn't tell me who he is.


Donna frowned at the screen. The bookmark folder she stumbled across on her laptop was confusing. Why call it 'FindDoc' when it wasn't about finding documents? Instead it was full of conspiracy sites. Conspiracies and weirdos; what kind of club was LINDA, anyway? Why on earth would I be interested in that kind of stuff? She tapped her fingers on the desk. There had been weird connections in her forgotten life: draining the Thames, cars going crazy, planets in the sky. But surely she hadn't gone all gullible, had she? Unless... had her lost friend been into that kind of thing?

She flicked through the sites. The "Ghostwatch" site had lists of haunted houses with a star rating for "activity level". Another, called, was full of space-crazies. The content was laughable: "Harold Saxon's body never found: was he an alien?", "Missing Bees Return", "The fat just walks away: the real truth behind Adipose Industries", "Atmos System designed by aliens", "Why Was Titanic aimed at Buckingham Palace?". Huh. Nutters.

But when she came across an article titled "An Analysis of the Planet Transport Incident" she kept reading.


A wooden door is before you. You pound on it, worried. There is no answer. You break the door open. There is no one there, just a pile of clothes on the floor. Movement catches your eye; a white blobby creature stands on the windowsill and waves at you. It jumps out the window into the night.

You are outside, hanging on for dear life, a crosspiece in your hands, a cable stretched taut, your only lifeline. The glass wall of a skyscraper reflects the city lights. You yell at someone above you to get you out of this mess. Someone you can't see.

You are on the roof of the skyscraper, looking up. Thousands of the blobby creatures are floating upwards in beams of light. Someone stands beside you as you wave the blobs goodbye. You want to turn and look at him, but you can't.

"I'm waving at fat," you say.

She almost dismissed the dream as her overactive imagination after reading too many conspiracy theories the day before. But she hadn't read the article about Adipose, she'd just glanced at the title. She hopped out of bed, sat at her desk, and brought up the article. She gasped. There was a photo of the blobby creatures she'd seen in her dream. She clicked on a youtube link, supposed to be a video of the creatures. It was them. Hundreds of them, walking down the middle of a street. The footage showed a taxicab screeching to a halt to avoid squishing them flat.

"I saw this," she said to herself. "I was there. I was there with someone. But who?"


The nights were growing cooler, the days shorter. Donna's grandfather went up on the hill more and more, taking advantage of the earlier darkness for his stargazing. Donna sometimes came home from work via the hill so that she could drag her grandfather out of the cold and inside for a hot dinner. He wasn't always there, but she figured that the longer walk did her good anyway.

This evening he wasn't there, so she walked down the hill to the back door. It had been an unusually warm autumn day; she could hear voices drifting out the open kitchen window.

Just as she was about to open the back door, she heard Gramps say, "It breaks my heart that she can't know."

"You heard what the doctor said," her mother said. "It's too dangerous for Donna to remember."

"But she did so much!" Gramps said. "And she can't remember any of it!"

What the hell? Too dangerous for me to remember? Why?

Her keys dropped from her nerveless fingers, and by the time she'd picked them up, Gramps and her mother had changed the subject. She pretended she hadn't heard anything. If she confronted them, she suspected that they would lie, as they had apparently been lying all this time about... whatever had happened. And if she let them know that she was trying to remember... she didn't think that would go down well.

She wondered if it had something to do with her missing friend, then laughed to herself. Of course it does. Whoever he is, he likes conspiracies, and how far away is that from cloak-and-dagger danger? Her heart stopped as it suddenly occured to her that the man in brown might be dead; killed under mysterious circumstances. You're letting your imagination run away with you, girl. But it wouldn't hurt to be careful.


Donna found the dress in a box in the attic when her mother had sent her up there to look for old Women's Weekly magazines for a rummage sale. It had clearly been a wedding dress, all white satin and lace, but it was no longer. Someone had ripped it from top to bottom, then ripped those pieces into pieces. Guess I really was that mad at Lance, she thought. It was obviously her ex-wedding dress; it wasn't as if anyone else around here had gotten (almost) married recently.

She sat down on the attic floor and examined the pieces of the dress. They were dirty and water-damaged, as if she'd run around outside and then got caught in the rain. Though there hadn't been any rain that day, she'd checked. But it had been the day that someone had drained the Thames. Could she have been involved in that? Not bloody likely!

She emptied the box of pieces into her lap, burying her hands in the cloth, feeling the scratchy lace and smooth satin with her fingers. She closed her eyes. It should have been easy, she had been getting enough practice at it, but she couldn't help tensing in excitement. Her not-wedding was where her lost memories began, and she hadn't been able to remember anything about it at all, as if it was buried deeper than the events which had followed it. Which didn't quite make sense. It was like her lost memories were bookended by events that really didn't want to be remembered: her wedding, and the month before the Planet Incident, the month her friends said she had been off travelling.

She took a deep breath, and cleared her mind. Think of nothing but the touch of the cloth in your hands.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Fragments. She walks down the aisle, the excitement building inside her. She stands in the sunshine outside. Someone takes her hand and slips a ring onto her finger. "With this ring I thee biodamp." She runs up and down a high street in her wedding gown, trying to catch a taxi. She is inside a taxi; it is going the wrong way. She yells at the driver. She opened her eyes in surprise. "What the hell...?"

She shook her head. She wasn't going to stop now, not when she was so close. She breathed in, then breathed out and let go of the tension. She started from the top of her head, down to her toes, telling her muscles to relax. She took one of the larger pieces and draped it over her head. She closed her eyes and breathed in through her nose. It smelt musty and dirty, with an overtone which made her think of fishponds and river-water. Relax. Relax. It will come.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

The day had been bright and cold, but that hadn't mattered, because she was going to be indoors for the whole wedding. She walks down the aisle, excitement building inside her. She yells at the taxi driver; he turns his head, and it is nothing but a mask, bronze and blank. Someone calls out to her, telling her to jump. She is in a long corridor, driving a Segway. Lance laughs at her, standing next to a huge red spider-woman. "My children are hungry." Fire and water, and someone above her, his face grim and terrible and empty. She calls up to him, "Doctor! You can stop now!"

She pulled the cloth off her head and bit her knuckle to stop herself from crying out. The Doctor. She remembered now. Vanishing from her own wedding, the Doctor, his TARDIS, the spider-woman, Lance's betrayal, the snow coming down at the Doctor's command, refusing his offer to come travelling with him. Regretting it later when Egypt had been such a bust. Wondering whether she should try to find him again. The Doctor was the person she'd been searching for in her dreams, just as she'd started to search for him in real life. How on earth could she have forgotten him?

It couldn't have been a brain-fever. Someone had made her forget. Someone had wiped her memories. But why? And why wipe nineteen months worth of memories while they were at it? Why not just wipe out her wedding? Well, maybe it wouldn't have worked so well, her not knowing why she'd decided to go to Egypt. Maybe. Or maybe... maybe she had found the Doctor. And gone travelling with him. That missing month! Maybe she had found the Doctor, and whoever it was didn't want her to remember that either. Too dangerous if she remembers. Oh.

Someone was trying to keep her away from the Doctor. Someone dangerous. Well, the Doctor did attract enemies, didn't he? Huh. They didn't know Donna very well if they thought a little memory wipe would stop her. Well, it had stopped her, but it certainly wasn't going to stop her now.

She was going to find the Doctor. She'd done it before; she could do it again.

3. Can't Get It Out Of My Head

The haunted house in Brighton was the fifth on the Ghostwatch list. It was a plain, unimpressive holiday house, faded and deserted in the cool autumn air. No, not quite deserted; there was movement inside. The front door banged open and a young woman ran out. She halted abruptly as she saw Donna, her wavy brown hair blending in with the brown velvet pantsuit she wore.

"Excuse me," the woman said. "Would you know where I might find moving water?"

Donna gestured in the direction of the beach. "Lots of moving water in the ocean," she said. Donna winced at the light reflecting off the windows and into her eyes.

"No, I need fresh water," the woman said.

"Something gum up the plumbing?" Donna asked, wondering if the haunted house was yet another dead end; just knocking noises in faulty pipes.

"Plumbing?" the woman echoed.

"Yeah, plumbing." Donna strode up the path towards the woman. A faint prickle of pain started behind her eyes. She ignored it. "Stupid people let pipes freeze and they burst, you know?" Donna stepped off the path as she spotted a garden hose coiled up like a green snake on the edge of the overgrown lawn. She traced it back to the tap it was attached to. "Here goes nothing." She turned the tap. It rumbled and shuddered and then a spurt of water emerged from the other end of the hose.

"How ingenious!" the young woman said. She picked up the end of the hose and watched the water come out.

Donna looked at her sharply. Maybe this wasn't so ordinary after all.

"Would you turn it off, please?" the brown-haired woman requested. The woman eyed the hose with a calculating eye. "Not enough to get all the way around the house," she said to herself with a frown. "Are there more of these tubes nearby?"

Definitely not ordinary. Whether or not the Doctor was there, Donna knew the signs of a weirdness emergency. "Borrow some hoses from next door?" Donna suggested.

It took three more hoses to encircle the house - fortunately the fittings were all compatible - one of them was borrowed, the other two had been temporarily liberated from their deserted gardens. By the time they were done, Donna had muddy hands, twigs in her hair and the start of a headache, but inside she was bubbling with excitement.

"So what's this for, then?" Donna asked.

"A hydrokinetic containment barrier for a gaseous ectoplasmic lifeform," the woman answerwed.

"You sound just like the-"

"Doctor!" the woman called out, as the front door banged again.

A blond-haired man in a beige coat and striped trousers raced out. He held a glittering knot of wires and tubing wrapped around a box with dials and knobs and flashing lights. "Quickly! Have you got the water yet?"

Donna's heart plunged low. It wasn't the Doctor.

"Yes," the other woman replied, "it just needs to be switched on."

He stepped outside the circle of hoses. "Now would be a good time," he said tightly, eyeing the house.

The brown-haired woman tried to turn the tap, but it was too stiff.

"Here, let me," Donna said, and twisted the crossbar of metal. The water flowed.

"Thank you," the man said, glancing at her, then looking back at the house. "Go back to your own dimension!" the man called out. "I won't allow you to harm any more humans!"

A blood-curdling shriek was his only answer.

"I'm not frightened of you," he said.

Donna felt goosebumps form on her arms as the air suddenly got colder. Her head thrummed.

"Enough with the tricks!" he said. "You leave me no choice." He twisted a knob on the machine, and the house... shivered, as if it weren't solid, as if it were made out of jelly.

Okay, definitely a Doctor-level class of weird, Donna thought.

The machine hummed, almost below the level of hearing. The man twisted another knob, and the machine began to smoke. The house wavered even more, and started going transparent, like rippling water. Smoke poured out of the machine, the man let go of it - and the house vanished completely. Not even the foundations were left, just a bare patch of ground. The machine smoked and fizzed on the grass.

"Is it gone?" the brown haired woman asked.

"Yes, I think so." The man sighed, and his shoulders slumped. "I hate it when they don't go peaceably," he said. He perked up a little as he noticed Donna still standing there. "Thank you for your help, Miss...?"

"Donna." She offered her hand. "Donna Noble."

He smiled and shook her hand. "Pleased to meet you, Donna Noble. I'm the Doctor, and this-"

Donna interrupted, "You're not the Doctor, you don't look a thing like him!"

"Ah," he said. "I suspect you've met one of my other incarnations."

"I may have done yoga, but I don't believe in that reincarnation stuff; do you take me for an idiot?"

He muttered something about "as bad as Tegan," and continued, "No, I mean you've probably met one of my future selves. You do know that I'm an alien, right?"

"Of course I know that the Doctor's an alien." The headache was full-blown now. "That doesn't mean that you're him!"

"But he is the Doctor," the brown-haired woman said.

Donna rounded on her. "Well, of course you'd say that, Nyssa. You always-" Donna began, then clutched her head in pain. It felt like someone had driven a spike right through her brain. She whimpered. Faintly, as if through a tunnel, she could hear voices asking if she was all right.

The light was burning.

Then, nothing.


Donna was afraid to open her eyes, in case the pain came back.

"It's all right," a soft voice said. "You're stable, for now. You can open your eyes, it shouldn't hurt."

Donna recognised the voice; it was the woman, the one she'd called Nyssa. Donna blinked her eyes open. Nyssa bent over her, her attention divided between Donna and something out of Donna's line of sight. The light was soft and soothing. Donna reclined in a sort of dentist's chair, in a room that seemed vaguely familiar. Something itched on her scalp and forehead. She raised a hand to scratch her head, but Nyssa caught her hand before she reached it.

"Please don't touch the sensors," Nyssa said.

"Is your name really Nyssa?" Donna asked.

"Yes, it is," Nyssa said. "Nyssa of Traken."

"How did I know that?" Donna said. "I've never seen you before today."

"You didn't see me with your Doctor?" Nyssa asked.

"That's the trouble," Donna said. "I don't remember!"

The man who might be the Doctor entered just as she was speaking. "What don't you remember?"

"I think someone wiped my mem-" she broke off, and frowned. "This is the TARDIS, isn't it? It looks different, but it feels the same."

"Yes, this is the TARDIS," he said.

She studied his face, the mild eyes, the pale floppy hair, the concerned expression. He stood her gaze patiently. He was so very beige; he had nothing like the energy and enthusiasm of the Doctor.

"I am the Doctor," he said.

"Prove it," Donna said. "Give me a stethoscope."

"Nyssa?" he said, holding out a hand.

Nyssa passed Donna a stethoscope. Donna gestured the would-be Doctor closer. She placed the stethoscope on his chest, left, then right. Two hearts beating: if he was an imposter, then he was the same species. Except that the Doctor was the only one, wasn't he?

"Okay, so you might be the Doctor," Donna said. "But how can you be the same person? How did-" she broke off. "You changed your whole appearance. You regenerated," Donna said. You look into the mirror, assessing your new face. "Your fifth self," she said, and a stab of pain made her wince. "I don't know how I know that!"

"It seems to be causing you some pain," the Doctor said. He glanced at Nyssa. "Is it post-hypnotic?"

Nyssa studied the readings. "No, it seems to be physical; a sudden spike in brain activity increasing the intracranial pressure."

"You said someone wiped your memory," the Doctor said. "Do you feel pain every time you remember something?"

Donna started to shake her head, then stopped as the pain stabbed her again. "No. Only some things. Impossible things."

"What sort of impossible things?" the Doctor asked.

"Impossible impossible things!" Donna snapped. "I don't know! Things to do with the Doctor - with you - with my Doctor. Except not all of them." Donna sighed. "All I know is, I woke up one day with more than eighteen months memories missing, and I think someone wiped them, because when I finally remembered the beginning of it, it was when I met the Doctor. My Doctor. And I didn't go with him, and I can't remember the last month of it, but I think I did go with him, and someone wiped my memories so I wouldn't remember the Doctor at all."

"What does your Doctor look like?" the Doctor asked.

"Skinny like a weasel, brown suit, sticking-up brown hair, won't shut his gob," Donna said.

"Ah," said the Doctor.

"You know who it is?" Nyssa asked.

"One of my future selves. He mentioned something about the Master when we met," the Doctor said.

"Oh," Nyssa said grimly.

"Who is this 'Master' bloke?" Donna asked.

"One of my best enemies," the Doctor said.

"He killed my father, and destroyed my planet," Nyssa said sharply.

"I'm sorry," Donna said.

"We need to figure out the extent of the block," the Doctor said. "Simple word-association at first, I think."

"What, you say a word, and I say a word back?"

The Doctor nodded. "And Nyssa will monitor your brain activity, see if it triggers any pain or problem areas."

"Okay, if you think it will help fix my memories," Donna said.

"I hope to fix something more important: why your brain seems to be overloading on certain triggers."

Donna frowned. Maybe Mum and Gramps hadn't been totally lying about the brain fever after all. "Right, go ahead."


"TARDIS," Donna said.


"Tegan," Donna said, and winced.


"Turlough," Donna said, with another stab of pain.

The Doctor leaned forward, a puzzled crease appearing on his forehead. "Adric," he said.

"Guilt," Donna said, and gasped at the pain.

"Sorry," the Doctor said, "I'll back off that." He continued, "TARDIS."

"Doctor," Donna said.




"Pompeii," Donna said.

"Pompeii," the Doctor repeated at her.

'Ashes," Donna said. The air is choking, full of ash and sulphur and stifling heat. People scream and run in panic. She tries to pick up a child to save him, but his mother snatches him away.

"Doctor, stop," Nyssa said. "I think she's remembering something."

"Oh my god," Donna said. "We went to Pompeii. It was volcano day. He was aiming for Rome."

"Should you be listening to this?" Nyssa said softly to the Doctor. "You don't want to know what you're going to do in the future."

"Don't worry, I'll make myself forget," the Doctor said. Louder, he addressed Donna, "Shall we continue? Are you in pain?"

"No pain," Donna said, "but give me a minute." He's so different from the Doctor I know. How can they be the same person? And yet they are, I know. That's so weird. Damn it, I need to find my Doctor! I need to know if he's all right. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. "Okay, let's go on."

"Guilt," the Doctor said.

"Gallifrey," Donna said, and a pickaxe stabbed above her left eye.

"Gallifrey," the Doctor said.

"Burning!" Donna cried. Her vision went white, she was burning, her head was on fire, her synapses were aflame. "Burning, burning, burning, burning!"

"Doctor, it's killing her!" Nyssa shouted.

Something sharp pricked her arm, and she slipped into the blessed, cool blackness.


Someone was speaking. "...seratonin levels approaching normal." Nyssa's voice.

Donna blinked. Still in the infirmary, but the dentist chair had transformed somehow into a bed. The pain was gone for now, but she could feel it waiting to pounce. She moved her arm and noticed a needle and tube taped to it. Uh-Oh. "Wh-what happened?" Donna said. "What the hell is wrong with me?"

"It appears to be an incompatible psychograft," the Doctor said.

"A psycho-what?" Donna asked.

"An alien mind," Nyssa said, "grafted onto your own."

"I'm being possessed by an alien?" Donna spluttered.

"Not so much possession as cohabitation," the Doctor said. "You are yourself, but with the memories and knowledge of someone else in addition to your own. Unfortunately, your brain does not have the capacity to generate the higher levels of cognition that the alien mind demands; hence, burnout."

"Are you saying I'm stupid, spaceman?" Donna said.

"Not stupid, just human," the Doctor said. "It's like trying to shovel two pounds of wheat into a one-pound bag: it might compress a bit, but eventually the bag is going to burst."

"So my brain is bursting?" Donna said. "But why did someone wipe my memories, then?"

"I think they did it to save your life," the Doctor said, not meeting Donna's eyes.

"What aren't you telling me, Doctor?" Donna said.

"I think it was - will be me," the Doctor said. "Your Doctor. The graft is obviously triggered by certain things to do with your Doctor, so he suppressed all memories of him in order short-circuit the trigger mechanism."

"When I think about the Doctor, the alien thing activates?" Donna said. "Is that because he's an alien?"

"I think it's more than that," the Doctor said. "I think it's because I'm a Time Lord."

"And...?" Donna prodded.

"I... suspect... that the psychograft mind is a Time Lord mind."

Nyssa gasped. "You don't think the Master - but why would he?"

The Doctor ran a hand through his hair. "I have no idea. But then when he gets one of his schemes in mind, he isn't necessarily logical. Not what a sane person would call logical, anyway. Who knows? It could have been an accident."

Nyssa rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't put anything past him."

"Not making me feel any better, here," Donna said. "What I want is a cure for this psycho-thing!"

"Yes, of course," the Doctor said with a reassuring smile. "I think I can help, but you would have to let me into your mind."

"You can read minds?" Donna exclaimed. "You pervert, get out of my mind!"

The Doctor was taken aback. "I'm not in your mind, and I assure you, I will make myself forget anything I see."

"You'd better."

"I will, I promise."

"Why do you have to read my mind anyway?" Donna asked.

"To remove the psychograft, I have to find it. We need to uncover your forgotten memories, keep the ones that are truly yours, and erase the ones that aren't, memory by memory. Tedious, I know, but the only alternative is to put a stronger block on your memories of me, and, frankly, I don't think that would work, not for long."

"Good, because I won't let you make me forget my Doctor," said Donna.

He smiled at her. "I'm glad I'm going to meet you in my future," he said.

She couldn't help smiling back. Then she sighed. "Okay, spaceman, do your worst," Donna said.

"Is that a yes?"

"Yes, it's a yes," Donna said. "Just get on with it."

The Doctor pulled up a chair and sat beside Donna. He lifted his hands towards her head. "Just relax. You have to be awake for this, but it won't be painful."

"What if you set off the triggers?" Donna asked.

"It shouldn't be too painful," the Doctor corrected. "I will feel it the instant the pain starts. And Nyssa will be monitoring your brain activity. She can intervene if it gets too... intense." He touched her temples. "Shut your eyes. Relax."

They started with Pompeii. It was like her brain was an attic; the Doctor picked up each memory, dusted it off, polished it clean, and put it down again. Until-

"Gallifrey," said the seer.

Gallifrey is burning. The Daleks are burning. The sun is burning. Light, heat, fire, you can feel yourself burning, scorching, radiation ravaging your body, Time let loose and consuming-

Then it was the memory of a memory. And then the memory of having remembered something.

The Doctor removed his hands from her temples. Donna opened her eyes. He looked shaken.

"I definitely have to forget this," he muttered.

"What?" Donna asked.

"Ask me when you meet me again," he said. "On second thought, don't ask." Before she could question him further, he said, "it's certainly a Time Lord memory, though."

"The Master?" Nyssa asked.

"I don't know," the Doctor said. "I... don't know." He shook his head. "I can't verify the memory."

They continued, uncovering Pompeii, triggering and wiping more connections.

"But your own planet, it burned."

"That's just it. Don't you see, Donna? Can't you understand? If I could go back and save them then I would, but I can't. I can never go back! I can't! I just... can't!"

Another companion, another demand to save those caught in the inexorable grip of Time. I couldn't save Gallifrey, I couldn't save Adric-

"Listen to me both of you. There are some rules that cannot be broken, even with the TARDIS. Don't ever ask me to do something like that again!" The flow of history was fixed. It was too late to act. "You must accept that Adric is dead." Searching for words of comfort, you don't believe them, even as you speak them. If only, if only, if only I'd had more time, more time, time, time is burning, burning, burning...

"Doctor!" Nyssa cried out.

And the pain and memory were gone.

"Sorry," the Doctor said. "Took me by surprise."

"What took you by surprise?" Nyssa asked. "She nearly-"

"Yes, I know," the Doctor snapped. "I'm sorry. It won't happen again." He sighed. "I should have realized. It's me."

"What is you?" Donna asked.

"My memories," the Doctor said. "The psychograft is from my mind. Not another Time Lord's."

"Why would you have done that?" Nyssa asked.

"I don't know, I haven't done it yet!"

"It was an accident," Donna said. "Or an emergency."

"How do you know?" Nyssa asked. "Do you remember?"

"No, but I know the Doctor," Donna said, gazing at him. "You help. You always try to help." She looked at his eyes, the concern in them, the same and yet not the same. "Your planet hasn't-"

"No, it hasn't," he interrupted.

"But you've lost someone," Donna said. "Someone you couldn't save."

"I wiped that memory from you!" the Doctor said.

Donna rolled her eyes. "I'm not dumb, I can put two and two together. What happened in Pompeii, it reminded you of something, something that you remember. Something just as bad. Sometimes you can't save everyone. But if you can save one person-"

"Sometimes 'everyone' is one person," he said.

She squeezed his arm. Then, impulsively, she gave him a hug. Tentatively, he hugged her back.

"You are the Doctor," Donna said, letting him go. She suppressed a smile at his bemused expression. "I mean, you're him, too. Inside. I realize that now." She patted his hand. "And sometimes you need a hug."

"Thank you," he said.

"This is going to take a while, isn't it?" Donna said.

"I'm afraid so," the Doctor said. "But don't worry, I can get you back to the day we left."

"The day we left?" Donna's voice rose. "You took off? Without asking me? Now I really know that you're the Doctor. Bloody Martian!"

"You were unconscious," Nyssa said. "We thought a residual trace of the entity might be affecting you, that it would be safest for you to get as far away as possible."

"Oh," Donna said. "How long has it been, then?"

"Two days," Nyssa said.

"Two days?" Donna spluttered.

"You came close to dying," the Doctor said gently. "This equipment is keeping you stable."

"Oh," Donna said in a small voice. "Thank you for saving my life."

"I haven't quite succeeded in that yet," the Doctor said dryly. "Not until the psychograft is completely gone."

"Well, then," Donna said. "Let's get on with it."


Donna was allowed off the drip a day later, but she was always monitored during her sessions with the Doctor. It took another week for him to clear the majority of the Time Lord knowledge out of Donna's head. The work was exhausting for both of them; the Doctor especially. Nyssa hovered around, feeding them, helping them, forcing them to have breaks and go to sleep. But finally the Doctor pronounced it done.

"I cannot be certain I've got it all," he said wearily, "but the fragments that are left won't be sufficient to trigger another cascade."

"But what caused it?" Donna asked. "The last thing I remember, we were captured by the Daleks. I don't even know if he's alive!"

"Brave heart, Donna," the Doctor said. "He's alive."

"How do you know? Did you see it in my mind? What happened?"

He put his hands in his pockets. "It wasn't clear; I couldn't stop and look, I had to wipe it as quickly as possible: that was the heart of the psychograft, the place where it was most entangled with your own psyche. But I do know that it was your Doctor who blocked your memories. He's alive."

"That doesn't mean that he's okay," Donna said.

"You know me," the Doctor said. "I'm indestructable."

"You're an idiot," Donna said affectionately. Then she sighed. "And you're going to forget you ever met me."

"I have to," the Doctor said.

"Yes, yes, I know, the web of time and all that," Donna said. She gave him a brief hug. "Thank you."

"So, I'll just set course for Brighton," the Doctor said, flicking some switches on the console.

"No," Donna said.

"No?" the Doctor said. "But I thought you understood-"

"Take me to Chiswick," Donna said. "Least I can do is get a ride out of this."

4. Got To Get You Into My Life

Wilf frowned out the window at the fading light. Donna had been behaving oddly lately, almost secretive; vague about where she was going, what she was doing. Brighton in the off-season - what was that all about?

So when he heard the sound that the Doctor's spaceship made when it materialized, he ran out the door and down the street towards the sound. He spotted the blue box as it faded into existence, and was straight in front of it when the door opened.

"Doc-" he began, and his jaw dropped as his red-headed granddaughter stepped out. "Donna?"

"Gramps?" A flush coloured her face, then she stepped forward with resolve. "You don't have to lie any more, Gramps; the Doctor cured me."

"Cured you?" Gramps said. "But he said-"

A breeze kicked up as the blue box began to vanish, noisily.

"He's leaving!" Gramps said. "Come back!" he called out. "Why is he leaving? Aren't you going with him? Don't tell me you're angry at him - he had to do it Donna, you were dying!"

"I know, Gramps, I know," she said. She patted his shoulder, still gazing at the place where the TARDIS had been. "I won't say I'm not a little angry, but..."

"Don't you want to travel any more?" he asked. "I know it's dangerous, but-"

"I do want to travel with him, Gramps, I do!" Donna said. "But I need to travel with my Doctor - the one who just left is a different person."

"A different person?"

"It's complicated," Donna said. "Let me tell you over a cuppa."


The scent of tea still lingered in the kitchen, but their cups were empty.

"So how are you going to find your Doctor?" Gramps asked.

"I have a plan... and it should be quicker than looking for weird trouble."


Donna smiled, and tapped her mobile phone against her chin. "I'm going to find someone who has his number."


"Hello, my name is Donna, and I'm calling on behalf of World-"


"The nerve of some people!" Donna snapped.

"They think we're telemarketers, dear," said Doris in the next booth over. "Don't even stop to listen."

Donna took a deep breath. "All in a good cause," she said, plastering on a smile, and went to the next number on the list. Why did I think this was such a brilliant idea? Get myself paid to call all the Joneses in London, sure to find Martha then. It's been almost a week!

"Hello, my name is Donna, and I'm calling on behalf of World Vision," Donna said as soon as the phone picked up.

"Hello," said a familiar voice.

Donna's heart beat faster. "Mar-" Donna began.

"I'm not at home right now, but if you want to leave a message, talk after the beep."

Donna hung up the phone.

"Another rude one, dear?" Doris said.

"No, an answering machine," Donna said, forcing her voice to calmness. But she wrote down the number.


That night, when she got home, Donna rang Martha's number.

"Hello, Martha Jones speaking."

"Martha, it's Donna-"

"I'm sorry, you have the wrong number."


"What the hell?" Donna said, staring at the phone. "Bloody Martian! He told them all not to talk to me."

She rang again. "Martha, don't hang up. My brain's not going to explode, I've been cured."

"Donna? You remember?"

"Everything," Donna said. "You, the Sontarans, Jenny... and your mobile phone. The Doctor wiped mine, so I can't call to tell him I'm better."

"Are you sure you're okay?" Martha asked.

"You want to examine me, Dr. Jones?" Donna said, half-jokingly.

"Actually... I think I do," Martha said. "And you can explain how you managed to do what the Doctor said was impossible."

Donna rolled her eyes. "The Doctor doesn't know everything."

There was a smile in Martha's voice. "Yes, I know. I also know that he'd kill me if I let something happen to you. So..."

Donna agreed to meet Martha the coming Saturday. Then she quit her job and started packing.


"All right, I believe you," Martha said, putting her stethoscope away. "It sounds just like the kind of time-tangle the Doctor would get himself into. Did he tell you about the time we got stuck in 1969 and we kept leaving messages for someone in 2006 to come and rescue us? That was weird."

"So, will you call him?"

Martha nodded. "Watch me." She flipped open her mobile phone, pressed a few buttons, and waited. The seconds stretched. "Doctor, it's Martha."

Donna wished she could hear the other side of the conversation.

"I'm fine, the family is fine," Martha continued. "Not an emergency exactly, but you really really should come... It's a surprise... A good surprise... Yes, there are such things as good surprises... You'll find out when you get here... No, I won't.... You can't pout over the phone... Yes, I can tell... Now would be fine, yes.... See you, then."

"He's coming?" Donna asked.

Martha grinned. "Any minute now." As she spoke, they could hear the noise of the TARDIS, and the air in the lounge room began to stir. Martha hissed, "I thought he'd arrive outside! Bathroom! Now! We don't want him to run off."

Donna glared at Martha, and went into the kitchen instead. She peered around the door as the TARDIS materialized fully.

"Martha!" the Doctor said as he bounced out of the TARDIS, but Donna could tell he was putting on a front, edgy, like someone who'd drunk too much coffee.

"Doctor," Martha said with a smile.

"So what's the surprise?" he asked.

"Me," Donna said, stepping out of the kitchen.

"Donna?" the Doctor spluttered. "No, no, no - Martha why did you-"

"I'm cured, spaceman," Donna said, stepping right up to him. She poked him in the chest. "You cured me. A past you. Which you won't remember because you made yourself forget."

The Doctor's eyebrows climbed into his hairline. "I cured you?"

"You and Nyssa," Donna said.

"Me and Nyssa?"

"Are you going to repeat everything I say?" Donna asked.

"I just- Nyssa? And I was-"

"Blond, cricket outfit, wet as a winter Wednesday in Southend," Donna said with a smile.

"I was not!" the Doctor protested. "Besides, you seemed to like m-" His eyes widened. "I remember," he said. "You found me. Again!" He grinned hugely, and gave her a bone-cracking hug. "Oh, Donna, you are brilliant!"

"Can't get rid of me," Donna said. She hesitated. Now that she'd actually found him, her certainty wavered. "If you still want me."

He stepped back. "How could you want to come with me when all I do is nearly get you killed?"

"Doctor!" Martha snapped. "Enough with the guilt. If you want to feel guilty, do it for things you actually did."

"Like wiping my memory," Donna added.

"I had to!" the Doctor said. "You were dying!"

"I know," Donna said. "But did you have to wipe everything? Everything since I first met you, everything in between, everything I'd learned?"

"There was no time," the Doctor said. "You were doing so well, I thought, I hoped - but I was wrong, and suddenly your brain was in overload. I had to."

"Okay, you had to," Donna said. "But you know what's worse? The way you made Gramps - my Gramps, who taught me to look at the stars - and you made him into my gaoler. Do you know how much that broke his heart?"

"I'm sorry," the Doctor said, hands in his pockets, looking at the floor.

The gesture reminded Donna of the other him, and her rant died. "Well... fine," she said. "But you owe Gramps a trip, don't think you don't."

The Doctor grinned at her. "Love to!" He bounced on the soles of his feet, as if he couldn't wait to start running.

"Somewhere safe," Martha interjected.

He pouted. "Of course," he said.

"There's no 'of course' about it," Martha said.

"Do you want to come too?" the Doctor asked Martha.

"The answer is still no," Martha said. "But don't lose the phone," she added with a smile.

"Wouldn't dream of it," he said. "Donna?" He gestured at the open TARDIS door.

Donna pulled her suitcase from behind the sofa. "Here." She handed it to him.

Martha laughed at the look on his face.

While the Doctor was putting the suitcase inside, Donna gave Martha a hug. "Thank you," Donna said.

"We Children of Time have to stick together," Martha said. "Don't be a stranger. That phone can call out too, you know."

"Thanks, I'll remember that."

The Doctor popped his head out the door. "Come on, Donna, the universe is waiting!"

"Goodbye Martha," Donna said, with another brief hug. Then she entered the TARDIS, and its blue bulk faded away with a wheezing groan.


Donna ran her hands over the coral struts of the console room. I might never have seen this again, she thought. She gazed at the Doctor as he gyrated around the console with his usual manic energy. Real energy, this time, she reckoned, not a fake front.

"And how are you, Doctor?" Donna asked when he'd flicked the last switch.

"I'm all right," he said.

"Is that 'all right' all right, or is it really all right?"

"Now that you're here, I think it's going to be really all right," he said.

Author's Notes

Thanks to those interested enough to vote for this in the finish-a-thon, especially Harriet, without whose enthusiasm for the idea, I wouldn't have put this story on the ballot. Also thanks to Harriet for introducing me to the song "Dona Dona", which accompanied me in this writing, and from which comes the story title and one of the chapter titles.

Thanks to Jonathan as ever, for being an invaluable sounding-board. Thanks to Judith for the idea about ripping up the wedding dress. Sorry I couldn't get in the Jenny connection.

Thanks to Kaffyr for beta-reading, and the folks on dw_britglish for helping me with slang.

Those who weren't lucky enough to see "Time Crash" may be interested to know that that was where the Fifth Doctor met the Tenth Doctor, and, yes, the Tenth Doctor did mention the Master, since "Time Crash" was a sort of a mini-scene set between "The Last of the Time Lords" and "Voyage of the Damned".

Transcripts of New Who episodes were provided by; Old Who quotes I looked up on my own recordings.