Timely Visit

Donna shook her head and pressed her fingertips to her temples, trying to soothe the pain. Her touch was cold yet she felt so hot, as if she was burning up... did she have a fever? That might explain the nonsense she'd read in her diary - a diary she hadn't even known existed... what was happening? She picked up the book from her knees and turned the page, skimming the entry as random words jumped out, words that made no sense at all: 'Ood'', ''Pyrovile'', ''TARDIS'', ''Sontaran'', ''Hath'', ''Vespiform''- and with them came flashes of images - giant wasps and stone creatures held together with fire - and each flash made the heat increase and the pain throb faster, like a rapid heartbeat.

"Gramps?" Donna called, hoping he hadn't already left. She clutched her head tighter between her hands, feeling waves of nausea rising in her stomach.

*

Wilf had been in the living room when he heard that familiar noise, but very faint, coming from outside. He ran out of the house as quickly as he could, leaving the front door open, and sure enough there was the police box, parked on the pavement at the very end of the street. As Wilf watched, the door opened and the Doctor stepped out, still in the same brown striped suit. He saw Wilf at once, and waited for him to walk over.

"Doctor!" Donna's grandfather cried as he approached. He was leaning against the door, and his hair was a tousled crushed mess, as if he hadn't bothered to fix it after yesterday. "What are you doing back here? If Donna heard that, she could -''

"How is she?" the Doctor cut across Wilf with a quiet urgency. Wilf's face, glad at seeing the Doctor, seemed to crumple.

"Well, she's fine. Just like she was before. Doesn't remember a thing."

The Doctor nodded, sticking his hands into the pockets of his suit jacket. He stared up at the gloomy sky, the gunmetal clouds threatening further downpours. "She's... fine."

"And how are you, Doctor? Are you fine?" Wilf asked, his eyes fixed on the Doctor's face, which had set into a hard mask.

"I'm always fine," he replied. "I'm always all right."

"Is that a special code for really not all right at all?" Wilf returned, surveying the Doctor's weary eyes, the clenched fists in the pockets. At his words, the Doctor's eyebrows drew together and he glanced at Wilf. Different emotions seemed to be battling for control of his facial expression, and the end result was a wistful smirk.

"Did you want to see her again, properly? One last time?" Wilf asked him, knowing what the response would be before the Doctor said, "I can't."

Wilf nodded slowly. "I just wish -"

Suddenly, a scream came from one of the houses. It was the Noble household, and it was Donna's scream. Both men recognised it, and immediately ran towards the door that Wilf had left standing open.

"You can't come in, she'll see you!" Wilf cried as the Doctor followed him up the stairs, where the sound had come from. The Doctor merely looked at him as if he was insane, but consented to lurk by the doorway to Donna's room as Wilf ran in, crying, "Donna? What's the matter, love?"

"It hurts, Gramps," the Doctor could hear Donna's voice, full of pain and confusion, and it felt like a stab to both of his hearts. He could see that Donna was on her knees on the floor, with a book open in front of her as if it had dropped from her hands. Wilf was on his own knees with his arms around her, her head buried in his shoulder as she sobbed. "There's things in my head, and I don't -"

She looked up, the tears streaming down her face, and her eyes locked on the Doctor stood in the doorway, too late for him to move out of sight. Too late, anyway - she was remembering. He walked forwards as she untangled herself from her grandfather's arms and clambered unsteadily to her feet. There was recognition and wonder in her bright eyes, and an odd glow.

"It's you," she breathed, and for a moment her pain was forgotten as she drank in his appearance. Wilf had picked up the little book, and he held it out to the Doctor, saying, "Read it!"

"What happened, Doctor?" Donna asked, the expression on her face heartbreaking. "In that diary... we were so happy together, we were going to travel forever... what happened to me?"

The Doctor had read the entry in the very fast way of his, and threw the book aside onto the bed. "I'm sorry." he said simply, reaching out for her. She stepped forward and fell into his arms as her legs gave out. She gasped and her whole body tensed inside his embrace.

"Doctor," she cried, gripping handfuls of his suit as her hands clenched. "Help me!"

The End

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