Memory Loss

An alternative to what follows after Journey's End...

"Doctor, wait!" Wilf called from the doorstep. The door to the TARDIS creaked open again slowly and the Doctor leaned out, his spiked hairstyle becoming plastered to his head as the rain intensified further. It didn't seem to bother the old man, who hurried forward quickly to talk to him.

"You said she could die," Wilf said quietly. The Doctor didn't raise his eyes from the slick surface of the road at their feet. "But you can't be certain that it will kill her."

"I know," the Doctor replied, in a voice devoid of emotion. "I know what you're asking, Wilfred. I can't."

"She was better with you," Wilf repeated, his eyes full of sorrow. "She was. You made her better. Can't you do that again?"

The Doctor's mouth twisted into a smile, although it was slightly bitter. "Donna made me better, too. But I won't risk it, Wilfred. I won't make her remember on the chance that it won't cause her to die. If she does... could either of us live with that?"

Wilf bowed his head so that the rain ran down his face. "You're right, Doctor, and I'm sorry. It's just that all those amazing things she did with you, all the times she saved worlds, will be lost to her forever. I don't know if I can stand it, Doctor, pretending to her that nothing's changed - when she's the same Donna she used to be, before she met you and... I know she loved you, Doctor," he finished. The Doctor didn't reply. Wilf looked up and saw that the Doctor had disappeared and the TARDIS door was closed.

Donna's grandfather shuffled forward and rested his hand on the blue wood. He leaned forward and pressed his ear to it, and heard a noise like a stifled sob. Wilfred immediately felt ashamed. At least he and Sylvia still had Donna, even without parts of her memory, but the Doctor had no-one. He probably felt her loss as if she was dead, because he could never see her again.

"I'm sorry, Doctor," he sighed, stepping away from the police box as the light began to flash and the whirring, grounding sound of its departure echoed in the otherwise empty street. The box faded and Wilf was left standing alone. He turned and went back into the house.

Donna was hanging up the phone with one last goodbye cackle when he entered the kitchen. She picked up the glass of orange juice she had poured for herself, then put it back down on the counter when she saw Wilf.

"You're soaking, Grandad! What'd you go out in the rain for?!" she reprimanded as she pinched his sopping jumper between two fingers. "Did that man keep you out there talking? John Smith? Who was he, anyway? Never seen him before."

"He's... um, one of Mrs Blythe's nephews, down the road," Wilf improvised. He turned away, not sure if Donna would be able to see through him or not. "I'm going to go and change."

"What's up with Gramps?" Donna asked her mother as she walked into the living room and plopped down on the sofa. "He seems a bit... down."

Sylvia looked up from the news on the television and for a minute there was worry in her face, and something softer, something Donna hadn't seen since she was too young to shout back. Then it was gone, and when Sylvia opened her mouth the usual whine came out: "How should I know? Don't slouch like that, I just straightened those cushions."

Donna sighed and got up, re-plumped the sofa cushions and made a hasty exit for her room like a teenager in disgrace. She flopped onto her bed like she had been lying a while ago, when she'd woken up in her clothes like a kid. She ruffled her flame-coloured hair and crossed over to the window to look out at the rain. It was so thick that the houses opposite were blurred and shaking as if there was an earthquake. Earthquake... the word had some kind of weird connotation, but Donna couldn't think what. It wasn't like she'd ever experienced one, anyway. Sleeping through them didn't really count, which she seemed to have done from all the texts Veena and the girls had sent her.

She left her phone charging and decided to go to bed; her head was pounding. After swallowing some aspirin she curled up under her duvet, and dreamed of fire and snow and stars, of a man in a suit and creatures that had no place on Earth - dreams that she did not remember in the morning.

The End

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