"There she is! Kids, look! The DoctorDonna herself!"
Donna glances up from her sandwich. There's a family clustered round the other side of the fountain, pointing in great excitement at something. She turns around in the direction they're looking. Nothing there but WH Smith's and a deserted bit of roadworks. She turns back, then has the distinct impression they're looking at her. There's some sort of conferring going on, then mum and dad pick the smallest kid and shove her forward.
Mightily confused, Donna sits up a little straighter as the girl totters towards her. She's wearing a blue dress, looks like a school uniform but it's all inside out and back to front, the label sticking out beneath her chin. "Hello there, missy," Donna says. "And what can I do for you?"
The girl gapes, eyes growing huge. Donna laughs. "Oh come on, you shouldn't be scared of me! Now then, why'd mum and dad send you over, eh?"
"You're Donnanoble," says the kid.
"Donna Noble, yeah, that's right," says Donna. "And who are you?"
The girl shakes her head, giggling.
"Oh all right then! Your identity's top secret, is it?" Donna smiles. "You are a funny one, aren't you."
The girl looks around her furtively, then she reaches out, taps Donna's knee quickly and scampers off back to her parents, who gather around her. The mum looks up, and waves with enthusiasm at Donna. Bemused, Donna lifts a hand and waves back. She looks around to see if anyone else is observing this bizarre little mime, and when she turns her attention back to where the family were standing, they've vanished.
"Huh," says Donna. She returns to her sandwich. "Bloody nutters."
"Mr. Clemence, thanks for coming in," Donna says, reaching up to shake her client's hand. Her mouth goes round with shock when she finds her hand squeezed within in an inch of his life, Mr. Clemence pumping it up and down with an idiotic beam on his face.
"Donna Noble!" he cries. "I tell you, this is unbelievable. Field assignment to Earth, they said, it doesn't get much worse than that now does it, no offence you understand, but oh boy, did I luck out or what? Donna Noble herself, calling me on those fellytone things! Unbelievable. Wait 'til I get back to Clom, the boys at the office are going to be green with envy! Well, more green than usual, that is."
Donna extricates her hand from the man's grip. "Listen, mate, I don't care if your pals are Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars, your overdraft's still way into the red."
"The resemblance is uncanny!" comes a voice from the bushes. Donna freezes. "Say what you like about Old Earth, they had artistic abilities right from the start. Just think, the Doctor and Donna Noble, etched all the way back in Earth history, the first Roman Empire, and we found it! Professor Song's going to take me onto her programme next year for sure. Now, for the finishing touch, a datasnap for comparison."
There's a sound like a camera going off, and Donna stiffens before plunging into the bushes, emerging with two scruffy teenagers.
"Now look what you've done," the boy hisses petulantly.
"I am so sorry," the girl stammers, "we didn't mean any harm, only we've got a history project and Dall's mum is in the Time Agency and we got hold of her manipulator. We're just trying to pass class, I swear, not damage the fabric of time or anything!"
Donna waves this babbling off. "Were you spying on me?" she fumes through gritted teeth.
"We're really, really sorry!" says the girl. "We'll go straight home, and we never would have come and disturbed you only I have got to up my grade this semester or they won't let me move into the Highers next year."
Donna can feel a headache coming on. "You're off your tree, I'll tell you that much." She releases them, and they clutch each other, staring at her nervously. "I haven't got time for whatever on earth it is you want, I'm late as it is. Don't you come round here again, you hear?"
They nod fervently. "Thank you, thank you," the boy breathes.
The girl stands up a little taller, sucks in a breath. Then Donna finds herself enveloped in a hug. The girl quickly backs away, looking anxious. "You're my hero and I think you're absolutely brilliant," she says in a rush, turning bright pink as she speaks.
She grabs the boy's hand and they run for it, leaving Donna standing on the pavement, a strange, tight feeling in her chest, almost like pride. She swallows, getting her act together. She has no idea when she became such a weirdo-magnet, but the more she thinks about it the more she worries she'll only go mad herself.
She's walking towards the Underground when a woman comes rushing up to her. "Help me, please," she croaks, clutching at Donna's arm. "My ship, it's crashed, you were the only person I could think of on this godforsaken rock." She doubles over, crying out in pain, and Donna does her best to support her.
"Hang on, let me call an ambulance," she begins, but the woman shakes her head in panic.
"No, no you can't, I told you, my ship's broken." She pushes back a sleeve, revealing skin that's covered in intricate code and symbols, all marred with a pulsing, angry red.
Donna stares at the markings, stares at the woman, and it kicks in. "Oh, a psychokinetic control patch, get that from the Paxian system, did you? Lovely bit of handiwork, but not ideal if you get yourself into a mess, is it?" Donna shuts her eyes and lays a hand on the woman's arm, places her fingertips along a pattern in the code. "There you are, that'll stop the feedback loop until we can get you shipshape again - now, where did you land? Please tell me you didn't take out any major monuments, because really I did have things to do today and I-- I-- I--" She presses her mouth closed, stopping her words.
"What is it?" the woman asks.
Donna doesn't trust herself to speak. There are too many thoughts blazing through her mind, she can't find a clear path through the electricity.
"The signal's coming from this way," comes a voice.
Donna spins around, and she recognises Martha Jones in an instant. "Help," she mouths.
Martha's eyes widen in horror, then she blinks. "Right, you two," she says, addressing the UNIT soldiers by her side, "go and talk to her, see what's happened - and be nice!"
"Martha," Donna says, "I'm remembering, I can't stop it."
"Okay, okay, I'll help you, we'll do something." Martha's scared, Donna can see it, but she holds Donna up with her strong healer's hands. She'll do what Donna needs her to.
"Make me forget," Donna tells her. "I don't have time. None of us have time."
Martha looks desperate. "If I could, I'd do anything, everything."
"I know. It's all right. You said it yourself - life doesn't stop with the Doctor."
"But it's not meant to be like this." She sounds bitter, heart-broken, but Donna hasn't got time, and so Martha takes out a little white pill, fumbles for a water bottle, hands them to her. "We'll stop the aliens coming, I swear, put a beacon out to the whole galaxy if we have to - Donna Noble saved the universe, and now she's to be left alone."
Donna squeezes her hand, takes the retcon and turns away. She swallows the memories down with grief and a strange sort of joy at having been woken, just for a moment. She thinks of the pilot behind her, the strangers she's met, all those people from other worlds who know what she's done. They'll remember for her.
Donna's been living in her new flat for two weeks, and it's good to have different views from the windows, a new rhythm of life to learn, complete with a temperamental boiler and a cat who seems to have taken up residence on her balcony. She's still temping, but it's a choice now, not a last resort. I'm not drifting, I'm waiting, she tells her mum, because she is, waiting for the right place, the right time, work that's good enough to hold her down and keep her steady. She'll keep changing, keep looking, and when she finds what she's looking for, she'll know. While she's waiting, sometimes she dreams.
And know this, DoctorDonna. You will never be forgotten. Our children will sing of the DoctorDonna, and our children's children. The wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever.
In her sleep, Donna smiles.