The Doctor paced up and down the TARDIS, his mind troubled, he watched as Donna Noble, full of spirit and hope, dashed around the consoles, flicking switches and observing the arrangement of solar systems on the display screens.
“Picked a spot yet?” The Doctor asked.
“I thought we could try the planet Felspoon. Just because. What a good name, Felspoon. Apparently, it’s got mountains that sway in the breeze. Mountains that move. Can you imagine?”
“How would you know that?”
“Because it’s in your head. And if it’s in your head, it’s in mine.”
The Doctor walked over to her, calmly as he could, as if he were approaching the eye of a wild storm.
“And how does that feel?” he asked
“Brilliant! Fantastic! Molto bene! Great big universe, packed into my brain. You know you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just tried hotbinding the fragment links and superseding the binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary…”
Donna gasped for breath, The Doctor reached out for her, but she pushed him back, insisting she was in good health.
“Nah, never mind Felspoon. You know who I’d like to meet? Charlie Chaplin. I bet he’s great, Charlie Chaplin. Shall we do that? Shall we go and see Charlie Chaplin? Shall we? Charlie Chaplin? Charlie Chester. Charlie Brown. No, he’s fiction. Friction, fiction, fixing, mixing, Rickston, Brixton”
Donna reeled back; this time collapsing backwards into The Doctor’s waiting arms. This time, Donna could feel a burning sensation course through her mind, her temperature rose and fell, a mixture of hot and cold, all the while her head experienced a dizzying spell.
Miraculously, she staggered to her feet, The Doctor gently supporting her.
“My god, I feel just like Susie Harper when she caught wind of her husband’s car crash in Swansea” she said.
“Donna, are you aware of what’s happening to you?”
“There’s never been a human time lord metacrisis before now, and you know why”
“Because there can’t be” she said, fresh tears beginning to run down her face.
“I want to stay” she said.
The Doctor couldn’t help but afford himself a wry smile.
“Susan used to say that, a long time ago now, she’d seen every sweeping sort of change there is in this universe, yet she never wanted things to change for herself. Change is good, they say, change is evolution. What happens when the change is too great though? What if you cease to be the person we all know you to be? That’s what she was afraid of; she wanted to belong somewhere, in one place, in one time. I always told her that was an impossibility”
“And now?” Donna asked, barely holding it together.
“Now I’ve learned a few things…what do you want Donna?”
“I want to belong Doctor, but with you, here, in the TARDIS, exploring galaxies , learning all I can from you, facing the faceless, staying true to who I am, but being an equal, you and me, the Doctor Donna”
The Doctor graced her tearful cheeks with a tender touch and rubbed it smoothly.
“We had the best of times” he said, pressing his fingertips gently against the sides of her temple.
“No, no Doctor, please I want to stay, I don’t want to go back”
“Donna, when you travel with me, there is no going back”
“So what is this?” Donna said as The Doctor gently closed his eyes and concentrated.
“Stay still” he said.
Donna ceased pleading and stayed as composed as she could, The Doctor tensed up, his body shook, she felt something move within her mind, her temperature stabilised, but now it was The Doctor that was becoming cold to the touch, then hot again.
The Doctor’s eyes snapped open and his right leg gave out, he knelt to one side, leaning onto the console for support. Donna cradled him, trying to get him back to his feet.
“Doctor? My head, it’s getting clearer, what did you do?”
“I experimented, just a little, call it an original recipe if you will” The Doctor said, short of breath, he grabbed his chest and tried to pump his hearts back into a regular pattern, as they were both beating a bit too rapidly.
“You took advantage of my personal crisis to conduct an experiment? Oh that’s wizard, I’ve gone from teacher’s pet to lab rat” she replied.
The Doctor couldn’t help but laugh at Donna’s tenacity.
“Look at you, not one second off of avoiding a meltdown, and here you are having a meltdown”
Donna was initially peeved at the sheer cheek on display, but The Doctor’s smile and the relief her crisis had been avoided was enough to get her to think differently, and she soon joined in the merriment with a fresh giggle of her own.
“Alright Frankenstein, you’ve got one shot at an explanation before I take a shot at your ribs for that one, so let it out”
“A few years ago, when I travelled with Rose, I came across Madame De Pompadour, uncrowned queen of France, fantastic gardener. She was being stalked by some robots who wanted her body parts to power their ship and she was feeling very perturbed about that, so I peered into her mind trying to uncover exactly why they specifically chose her…and then something extraordinary happened, she peered into my own head. Two-way telekinetic symbiosis between Time Lord and human. She observed all my memories, could see them as clear as I could see myself”
“Did you ask her how she could do this?”
“All still a bit of a mystery to me, but I never forgot what she said. She told me ‘A door once opened can be stepped through either direction’, that’s when it struck me, a door, a back door, that I could use to deposit all of your experiences with the meta crisis, pouring it into my own head, and leaving the telekinetic link open so everything else your tiny human head observes and absorbs from this moment onward can reside in a tidy little corner of my own mind, dormant and asleep”
“Who are you calling tiny?” Donna said, winking.
The Doctor hummed a little melody to himself as his hearts began to beat regularly, he felt a spring in his step, but he couldn’t yet let go of Donna.
His hands clung on to her own; he looked into her penetrating eyes.
“Our minds will stay linked, every pain in your path will be shared by me, you need not fear overheating, you need not fear fits, you need not fear anything…but it does mean your ordinary life is over, this means you can’t go back to temp jobs and traffic jams, this means you have a place where you belong”
“Just say this means forever Doctor”
“You and me. For as long as we live”
Donna clung to the Doctor tightly; The Doctor cradled her in his arms.
“This feels a bit less platonic…nice though” he said.
“Well, maybe Dalek Cann had a point; maybe this was always fated to happen” Donna said.
“Hope you’re well prepared then, because there’s something else I shared with Madame De Pompadour” he said, and leaned in to give Donna a mesmerising kiss.