Written in response to the final episodes ("The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End") of season four, New Who.

World Enough and Time
by Beth H.
(c) December 2008

It was 2091 before the Doctor returned to Earth. Eighty-some years. Long enough, he thought.

His two travelling companions - an Abzorbaloff from Clom and an eccentric Terileptil - were hoping he'd invite them along on his return journey. He could tell. But the Doctor reminded them that most of Earth's human population was still learning to cope with the existence of even bi-pedal, oxygen-breathing aliens and might not be especially welcoming. "How about spending one more day shopping on Hyspero?" he suggested. "Always plenty to see and do here."

The Abzorbaloff - with the improbable name of 'Tim' - had barely begun to nod the appendage that all three had agreed might well pass for a head, when the Doctor stepped back into the TARDIS and closed the door behind him.

With a wheeze and a groan, the ship dematerialised.


The Doctor had a bit of a start when the search parameters he'd fed into the onboard computer zeroed in on a woman living in Hackney named Rose Smith. At least one heartbeat and possibly two sped up at the thought that Rose had somehow discovered a way back from her parallel universe to...marry Mickey? But no, this Rose Smith turned out to be a retired librarian with a sweet smile and old-fashioned cornrows, whose late father, she said, had done "something hush hush for the government" once upon a time. Mickey's then. Definitely.

Of the others, there was little sign. Jack was not dead, presumably - well, he wouldn't be, would he? - but he was long gone from Earth. Luke, Sarah Jane's son, was on the manifest of the Horizon, a ship which had set out twenty years ago to observe as Betelgeuse went supernova. A few of Martha's nieces and nephews (all getting on in years, but otherwise in perfectly good health) were scattered around Europe. And that was that.

It had been quite a while, as humans reckoned time, after all.


And as for Donna...

He'd told himself, all those years ago - almost convinced himself too - that she'd be perfectly fine back with her family and her old life, and he'd been right. No reports of any Earth woman's head exploding, at any rate.

Except...he wasn't altogether sure it was 'perfectly fine' for any woman to disappear as utterly and completely as Donna seemed to have accomplished.

One of the first things he did once he was back on Earth was slip into the Torchwood headquarters and tap into their database, but if the current Cardiff team were keeping a file on Donna, they'd done a damned good job of burying it. Finding his top-secret, encrypted file had been a doddle in comparison.

Her mum dead. Her grandfather passed on, as well. There was a record of some kind of domestic partnership back in the twenties with someone named Chris Sutton, but the Doctor found a death certificate for Chris dated 4 June, 2036, and after that date, Donna's trail went cold as ice. No paycheques, no rent, no mortgage, no bills, no medical records, no obituary, no...anything. It was as if Donna Noble had ceased to exist.

Giving up wasn't an option. He had to know. Had to be sure he hadn't bollocksed up her life.


The battery in Martha's mobile should have run down decades ago, of course, but the TARDIS had its own agenda when it came to energy transference.

When the mobile rang, however, it still came as a surprise.

"Hello, I'm ringing on behalf of Dr. Edel." The voice was young and male and the Doctor had never heard it before in his life. "She asked me to set up an appointment with you - this afternoon, if possible."

The Doctor frowned. "Did she happen to mention what she wanted to discuss with me?"

There was a pause, and the Doctor could hear some papers rustling in the background as if the young man was checking his notes. When he finally spoke, he sounded resigned, as if he suspected somebody was playing a prank on him, but he had to follow the script, just in case.

"Something about a temporary position, apparently?"

"Oh, that's fantastic," the Doctor said, grinning for the first time in days. "Do you think three o'clock will do?"


Dr. Edel.

A tall woman who looked to be her late forties.

It was her.

The haircut was shorter than she'd worn it back then, and the suit was more tailored, but if that wasn't Donna Noble sitting at a corner table at Harry's Café and pouring tea, well...then he didn't know his Donna Nobles.

"Oh, look at you, then!" he said as he sat down across from her. "Dr. Edel!"

"Hello, spaceman," she said quietly, handing him his cup of tea. "I hear you've been looking for information about Donna Noble."

They drank their tea, then ordered more. By the time their third cups were empty, they still hadn't talked about why Donna still looked so young or why she'd changed her name - or why the Doctor hadn't been back on Earth in almost a century.

"...been doing?"

"I temped for a while at a medical research facility in London, but my grandfather started pressuring me to go back to school, and he was already doing poorly, so I did a few A levels, just to humour him."

"And you did well, I take it."

She shrugged. "I suppose so. In any case, one of the instructors suggested I apply for admission to Balliol College at Oxford, and, mostly on a lark, I did. I was accepted, ended up with a Ph.D, did a bit of lecturing, you know, the usual. And then one day I was meeting with one of our new students. The last thing I remember about that meeting was that she was admiring my ring, asking if she could get a closer look, and the next thing I knew was, well...just about everything."


"That's easy for you to say," Donna said. "I had a hell of a migraine for the first week."

"Just a migraine? But the Human-Timelord meta-crisis should have...."

"But it didn't." Donna leaned across the table and tapped her fingers, hard, against his forehead. "It looks like even you don't know everything. Anyway, I wrote some books, started a company, married twice...well, something like marriage, anyway. No children, but I've had six dogs over the years. Five of them called K-9."

"And the sixth?"

"I never actually gave him a name," Donna said with a smile. "He was my favorite."

"So...it was all right, was it? You staying here on Earth?"

There was a slight pause, but then she smiled at him. "It was all right."

"And you never said anything to anybody, in all that time?"

"Honestly, what would the point have been? Grandfather was already dead by the time I got my memories back, and ...look, even if I'd been able to contact you somehow, it just would have made you worry and you needed to think you'd done the right thing for one of your Children of Time. I remember Davros calling us that." Donna said. "He was right, you know. About that, at least."

And maybe Davros had been, the Doctor thought. He looked down at his empty tea cup, then glanced back at Donna.

"So, Doctor Edel," he said finally. "What's on your calendar?"

"Any particular reason why you're asking?"

The Doctor shifted uncomfortably on his chair. "I don't suppose you have any interest in coming with me, just on a temporary basis. Just for old time's sake?"

Almost imperceptibly, Donna's eyes widened, but just for a moment. In the next instant, her expression was placid and calm once more. "That probably wouldn't be a very good idea, would it?" she said. "You and me, we're like oil and Japanese maple leaves."

The Doctor frowned. "That doesn't make any sense."

"My point exactly," Donna said with a smile.

He sighed. "So that's a no, then?"

Donna shook her head in disbelief. "Are you thick? Are you a complete thicky? Of course I'll go with you."

"You will?

"Come on," she said impatiently, tugging on the Doctor's sleeve. "Shift it, you. I don't suppose you have any money?"


She waved off the rest of his reply, then took a few notes out of her purse and set them down on the middle of the table. "All right, are we done here? There's places to go, aliens to see. Where's the TARDIS, then? Or don't you remember where you parked? Just like you, to...."

The Doctor smiled as the universe clicked back into place.

Email: bethbethbeth @ gmail.com

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