A/N: Some spoilers for season four in some spots.

Chapter Thirteen

“Oh, Lord, how much longer is this gonna take?” Donna said to Rose and Martha.

They had landed on a planet called Sophiclia. A world filled with brilliant thinkers and philosophizers. The Doctor told them that he visited her once in awhile to converse with some of the wisest people in the universe. He also told them that the planet was beautiful and they could go explore the Greek style structures while he was engaged in debate. They agreed to it figuring they could take in the sights. Unfortunately, they soon found out that there really wasn’t that much to see. All the buildings were like gigantic museums, silent and polished and forbidding and everyone they saw seemed to be clumped together in groups of four or five having heated philosophical debates. It didn’t take long for the three of them to become bored out of their skulls and so, they walked back to the TARDIS and waited for the Doctor, who was several feet away from it, to finish debating with an old man in a white toga.

They waited and waited and waited and still, the Doctor sat there arguing with the old man. The three women rolled their eyes.

“When is he gonna stop?” Martha asked.

“Wanna bet it won’t be for several more hours?” Rose replied.

The three women groaned. Finally, Donna threw up her hands.

“Stay here, guys. I’ll get him to leave,” she said.

She walked towards the Doctor.

“But if there was no beginning to the universe,” the Doctor was saying. “Then, how did it come about? Everything must have a beginning.”

“Not necessarily, my friend,” the old man said. “There are many things in existence which have had no beginning and which have no end. The universe was always here and it will always be here.”

“No, trust me, it won’t. I’ve been to the year one hundred trillion and the universe was ending, so the universe does end at some point.”

“Nothing ever truly ends, Doctor. The universe will simply become something else. Matter can never be destroyed, it can only change form.”

“Excuse me,” Donna said, tapping the Doctor on the shoulder.

The Doctor looked up at her.

“Oh, come to join in our debate?” he said, happily.

“Uh, no, I’ve come to tell you that we’re all ready to go now,” she said.

“Well, I’m not. I’m in the middle of a debate, so the three of you will have to wait until I’m finished.”

“Well, how long is that gonna take?”

“It’ll take as long as it takes for me to finish. The three of you won’t die of boredom, trust me. If you can’t find something around here, then go in the TARDIS and go watch the telly or something. I don’t do this often, so I don’t wanna rush things. This is something I enjoy doing, so please respect that and let me finish.”

Donna sighed.

“Fine, just let us know when it’s time to go,” she muttered as she turned around.

“Excuse me, my dear, what is your name?” the old man asked.

Donna turned around.

“Um…Donna. Donna Noble,” she said.

“Pleased to meet you, Donna Noble. I am Metacellcius.”

“Nice to meet you, now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to the TARDIS and wait…”

“May I ask you a question, Donna Noble?” Metacellcius said.

She paused.


“Who are you?”

She frowned.

“I’m Donna.”

Metacellcius smiled.

“And what is Donna?” he asked.

Donna gave him a confused look.

“What is Donna?” she said.

“Yes, what do you mean when you say, I am Donna. Who are you?”

“I’m Donna.”

“But what is Donna?”

Donna threw up her hands.

“Look, been nice talking with you, Metacellcius, but I’m really not up for this. This is more the Doctor’s thing, so I’ll leave you two alone.”

“You do not understand the question?”

“Uh…no, I don’t get the whole what is Donna question.”

“It means, who are you really,” the Doctor said. “Who is Donna? Donna is just a name, a label, who are you beyond the label of your name? Who are you?”

Donna thought for a moment.

“I’m a woman,” she said, shrugging.

“What is a woman?”

Donna frowned.

“A female, like me,” she said, pointing to herself.

Metacellcius smiled.

“What is a female?”

Donna raised her eyebrow.

“Blimey, you really don’t get out much, do you?”

“What do you mean when you say I am a woman or I am a female? What makes you, you?” Metacellcius said, patiently.

“Um, I’m human. I have red hair. I’m female, I’m…the Doctor’s companion, I was a temp…”

“But who are you?” Metacellcius said.

Donna threw up her hands.

“I don’t get this whole inquisition thing. I’m going back to the TARDIS now.”

“Sit down,” the Doctor said. “I’ll tell you what he means.”

He called out to Rose and Martha and told them to come and sit beside Donna. He waited until they had done so and then cleared his throat.

“I want all of you to hear this because what he’s getting at is important,” the Doctor said. “What he is trying to get you to do, Donna, is get beyond the labels that you have put on yourself or society has put on you and see who you really are. Most of the things you have said have been labels that you have called yourself or that others have called you and labels both define a person and restrict them. The wrong kind of label can limit a person’s potential and trap them in a life that is meaningless and unfulfilling. For instance Donna, you call yourself a temp, even now you call yourself that and that is a label that both you and others have put on you to keep you from seeing the true you. I know for a fact that you are more than just some ordinary run of the mill temp. You are far better than that. But, it took me looking past that label and showing you what you were really made of before you could see it too. You see? You define yourself as a temp and that’s all you’re ever gonna be in life. When you say you’re a woman, what do you mean by that? Do you mean you’re a housewife, a mother, a wife, a…prostitute, a…stripper, what does being a woman mean to you? Because if you think as a woman as being a wife and mother, then you’re gonna live your life according to that perception, you see? Your name is also a label and it’s very easy to hide behind that just like you can for any other label. You can go around and tell people I’m the Doctor’s companion or I’m a temp but that’s only what your role is or what role others have given to you. Who are you deep down inside past all the labels? See?”

Donna nodded.

“I see what you’re getting at,” she said.

“Okay, then back to Metacellcius’s question, who are you?”

Donna glanced at her friends.

“You’re talking about my personality, right?”

“Yes, your true personality, your true hopes and dreams, everything inside that makes up the real you. Not what someone else says you are or what society says you should be, who do you think you are, all of you? Because, believe me, this is not limited to you, Donna. Every one of you came into my TARDIS carrying a suitcase filled with untrue labels. Labels that thankfully got stripped away when you saw what you could really do and what you were capable of.”

The three of them were silent.

“Look, let me help you,” the Doctor said. “Rose. When Rose came on board my TARDIS, she was carrying the labels of lower middle class and shop girl. No one thought she would amount to more than working an average low paying job, living in a council estate and being a wife and mother like her mum was. No one ever encouraged her to be more than that because no one thought she could rise above her station in life. No one took her aside and asked her what she really wanted to do in life, everyone just assumed she would find a job, raise a family and grow old on a limited income. That’s the girl that came into my TARDIS. Over time she came to see that she was more than that. Most of the things that she and society and her family and friends had told her were not true. By the time she was trapped in the parallel world, she had grown into a confident, independent, funny, compassionate, loyal friend and ally. And, being alone in the other universe without me and working at Torchwood stripped off even more labels and now when I look at her, it’s like she’s a completely different person from the one I met in Henrick’s. The same for Martha. Martha was supposed to just be a medical student who would finish her degree, go on to be a doctor and quietly raise a family. But, more than that, she was also expected to be the peacemaker in the family as well as listen to everyone else when they needed to vent, am I right?”

Martha nodded.

“So you see, that’s the label her family put on her. Her function was to keep the peace and be the sounding board whenever someone wanted to let off steam. She was supposed to be level-headed, responsible, don’t rock the boat type of personality. And that’s the woman that came in the TARDIS. Dependable, logical, sensible Doctor Martha. You, yourself, said it when we met her during the Sontaran invasion. You said, I turned her into a soldier. I didn’t turn her into anything; she did that on her own. Like Rose, she traveled with me and saw what she was really capable of and saw that she could handle anything that was thrown at her. And, she learned to improvise. She learned that sometimes you can’t do things in a logical way especially if you’re trying to confuse an enemy who has more intelligence than you do. That year that she wandered the Earth, she learned to depend on herself rather than me or other people. All of that is what turned her into the so-called soldier, Donna. I merely gave her the opportunity to shine, that’s all I did. Now, as for you…”

He chuckled.

“Let’s just say that when I first met you, I was less that thrilled that you were in my TARDIS.”

“Well, I wasn’t too happy myself. I’d just been sucked into the middle of deep space.”

“Yes, and I’d just got done saying goodbye to Rose, so I wasn’t too pleased when you started jumping down my throat and bellowing at me to take you to Chiswick. In fact, that whole first encounter with you was none too pleasant, but even then, there were hints of change in you, not a lot, mind you. But just a teensy hint of the true you came out. Which is why I did offer to take you with me. But, you declined and I went on my way and met Martha. Now, time passed and we met up again and this time you wanted to come. Well, one of the reasons I was hesitant about taking you back was because you acted so unpleasant the first time.”

“But you took me back because you were lonely.”

“No, I took you back because I remembered seeing that inkling of the real you and knew that there was more to you than the screechy temp. I could have gone and gotten anyone, Donna. But, I chose you because I was willing to give you a chance. And boy, was I right on the nose. When I first met you, Donna, you were self-absorbed, egotistical, judgmental and selfish.”

“Oi!” Donna said.

She thought a moment.

“No, you’re right. I was,” she admitted. “And now I’m not?”

“Oh, there’s still a tiny bit of that left in you,” he said, as Rose and Martha giggled. “But, along comes Pompeii and you are out there during the eruption running to save people, screaming at them to get to safety, badgering me to save everyone when I couldn’t and then when I was leaving, you got in my face and screamed and begged for me to go back and save someone. In that moment, Donna, I saw the true you. The one that does care if people are suffering. You showed it to me again when we were with the unprocessed Ood. The tears that fell down your face when you heard their song of captivity. The way you comforted the dying Ood that was lying in the snow. And I saw your intelligence, Donna, when you argued that the Ood have to be peaceful because they carry their brains in their hands. I saw it again when we were on Messaline and you figured out what the numbers meant before I did. I saw it when we were in UNIT headquarters and you found the sick log with no records in it and you also showed me how courageous you are when you went outside the TARDIS on the Sontaran ship and risked your life to help me. Now, apparently you do have Wilf who is able to see all that, God bless em, but you had to get away from your mother just like Rose did, in order to see yourself as you really are. You three have become more than what you or anyone else thought you could be and it’s all because I was willing to take a chance and show you your true potential. That’s one of the other reasons why I take on companions, not just to show them the universe, but also to show them their true selves and it’s always a joy when I see someone who has low-self esteem and no confidence in themselves rise to the challenge and become a true hero. And without fail, it has happened to everyone who has ever traveled or been around me for any length of time. There’s you three and then there’s Mickey, who went from being a bumbling idiot to being a Dalek and Cyberman fighter. There’s Jack who went from being a selfish privateer to being the leader of a team dedicated to fighting evil. Sarah Jane went from being an average journalist to being a brave, selfless woman who fights alien threats and has also become a devoted mother. Jackie went from being a screechy, selfish face-slapping harpy to…not so much a screechy, selfish, face-slapping harpy and the biggest change of all…Pete Tyler went from being dead to being alive. See? I’m a miracle worker.”

He grinned when the three of them laughed. He looked over at Metacellcius.

“Sorry about this, but I really had to get this out in the open, so they’d understand what you were talking about.”

“You are doing fine, my friend. Don’t worry about me,” he replied.

The Doctor nodded.

“Well, anyway, the point of all this was to know who you are deep down inside, not what everyone thinks you are. It’s what Socrates meant when he said, an unexamined life is not worth living and what Plato meant when he said, know thyself and what Descartes meant, I think therefore I am. You have to get down deep inside and find out who you are and what you can do in order to live up to your true potential and find your real destiny.”

His eyes widened when Donna threw her arms around him.

“Well, thank you, alien boy for putting our lives in utter jeopardy so we would know ourselves.”

The Doctor grinned when she gave him a hug. Rose and Martha looked at each other, got up and did the same. The Doctor smiled at Metacellcius.

“I’m loved, “he said to him.

Metacellcius smiled.

“Then you are one of luckiest men in the universe, Doctor.”

“Yup, don’t I know it? And, on that note, I suppose I will get going. It’s nice to chat, but there are things to see and people to talk to and dungeons to languish in and we can’t do that if I’m sitting on my bum, so until next time, take care.”

“You too, my friend. All of you take care.”

All of them stood up and turned towards the TARDIS.

“Come on, all this philosophizing has made me hungry. Let’s go get some chips.”

The three women nodded and they followed the Doctor into the TARDIS.

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