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Title: Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T/M (violence, whump)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Sequel to “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”. The Doctor's getting the location wrong (again) lands him and Donna in Pompeii on Volcano Day. She's determined to save as many as possible, but for him the events bring back the nightmare that still haunts him. Donna is in for a lesson on the consequences of the Dark Times.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I only just got into Classic Who heavily in the last three years. This idea would've been unthinkable for me back in early 2014.
Dedication: My friends cassikat and hezikiah, who between them brought me to an appreciation for the Eighth Doctor. The rest was all my own doing. I also thank my beta, tardis_mole, whose impatience for this brought my muse to start writing right away. And... since I'm positive I wouldn't have had the idea without seeing him at Gallifrey One this year, the always delightful Paul McGann. Although I'm not sure I ever want him or any DW actor reading any fanfiction I write... Of course, if the next showrunner wants to bring Donna back then he or she can read them all they want for ideas. Just appreciate an acknowledgement in that case. ;)
Author's Note: If you haven't read “Altered History: The Runaway Bride”, go back and read it now. Then come back to this one. Otherwise you will be very confused.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight


Altered History: Prophecies and Pompeii

Started March 20, 2017
Story unfinished as of start of posting
Finished September 25, 2017

Chapter Nine: Breathing Space

The Vortex

Donna's eyes were as huge as the roundels as the Doctor's voice trailed off. He was absolutely silent, shaking from the memories. “Yet you survived,” she breathed. “You helped everyone in the Universe that day. Why can't you help someone here?”

He finally looked up, but not quite at her. “That's just it. Don't you see, Donna? Can't you understand? I lost so many before that point, and many who could have been were never born because I saved Gallifrey. If I could go back and save them – Katarina, Sara Kingdom, Adric, Kamelion, Lucie... Alex, my great-grandson... and all the others – then I would, but I can't. I can never go back! And this is bringing all that pain back, fresh as the day I lost each one of them. I can't! I just... can't!” he finished, nearly choking on the words.

Donna was stunned. He had never shown that much emotion before. He always came across as restrained unless he got excited about something. Although she could sense the anger lying within, a reaction to both the losses and the events he just spoke of. To see him in pain, haunted so deeply by his past, hit her hard.

But she needed to try again. So she went up to him, touching his arm to get his attention. When he slowly looked up at her with clouded eyes, she looked at him through her renewed tears and whispered a plea. “Just someone. Please. Not the whole town. Just save someone.”

The Doctor just stared in her direction for several seconds, but his gaze began to clear. The pain was still there, but he seemed to being seeing the world around him again. Seeing that she really cared, about him and others.

/=/=/=/=/

Inside the main room of Caecilius' villa, the marble merchant and his family huddled together as ashes fell from the sky. The ceiling was falling in pieces, and they all knew the end was coming. All he could do was be there for them, hold them tightly in his arms.

Evelina had said nothing since her words about the future changing. Tears fell from her face, drying in the face of the heat from the ashes. Her brother for once looked uninterested in drink, like he wanted to do over his whole life. And Metella was clearly mourning all that would not be. As was he.

/=/=/=/=/

At length, the Doctor took a deep breath and turned his eyes to the controls.

Donna watched as the TARDIS' sounds changed. She could hear the sounds of materialization going around her, that the ship was landing. “Doctor?” she asked.

He said nothing. Just kept working at the controls before he went to the door.

She blinked as the lighting in the room seemed to brighten.

/=/=/=/=/=/

Suddenly, the family heard the strangest sounds, much like when the Doctor's weird box had vanished moments before. A white light accompanied it, as if originating from the reappearing box that came right back to where it was before.

They stared in shock at the bright light that filled the room. The door opened and the Doctor leaned out, his body silhouetted against a white light. He reached out his hand. “Come with us.”

Despite the shock, Caecilius reached out his hand and grasped the Doctor's. He kept hold of his family, who followed quickly.

As the family was led inside, with Quintus making sure his mother and sister preceded him, Donna's tears stilled and a smile cracked her face. She had once again talked him out of doing something bad, and instead doing something really good.

Only when the Doctor closed the doors, with their passengers safely inside, did the family really see their surroundings. None of them could speak as their eyes took in everything around them. Only Evelina seemed to not be completely overwhelmed, like her visions had prepared her for this.

“Hold on to something,” the Doctor ordered as he went to the controls, passing Donna who gave him a grateful smile. His lips twisted in an approximation of a smile. “We're going to move a bit!”

The sounds of the engines shocked them even more, but Donna smiled at them. “It's alright. We'll get to safety.”

Within a minute she felt the TARDIS land. The Doctor, still pale from the earlier story-telling, sighed as he parked the ship. “Follow me.”

The numb family from Pompeii followed him, with Donna sticking by Evelina's side. They had landed on some hill. No one asked where they were. Down the slope was a cloud of ash and smoke flowing over the valley. They were overlooking Pompeii.

The shock was immense, and the sight captured all their attentions. It was an awful sight, a horrible reminder to the Doctor. But the smile Donna gave him grounded him to the moment in time he was in. So he turned his attention to his very temporary companions who needed some reassurance.

“It is never forgotten, Caecilius,” he promised. “Oh time will pass, men will move on, and stories will fade, but one day... Pompeii will be found again... in thousands of years... and everyone will remember you.”

The thought seemed a bit much for Caecilius and Metella to absorb.

Donna looked at her young friend. “What about you, Evelina? Can you see anything?”

The girl cracked a tiny smile. “The visions have gone.”

“The explosion was so powerful, it cracked open a rift in time,” the Doctor explained. “Just for a second. That's what gave you the gift of prophecy. It echoed back into the Pyrovillian alternative. But not anymore. You're free.”

“Donna?” Evelina said.

“Yes?”

“Can you forgive me for putting you in danger?”

Donna touched her arm kindly. “Of course. I suppose if it weren't for the Doctor having to rescue me, we wouldn't have been where we needed to be to stop the Pyroviles.”

Metella had been silent the whole time, taking it all in quietly. At last she found her voice. “But tell me... who are you, Doctor... with your words... and your temple containing such size within?”

The Doctor shook his head even though she could not look at him. “Oh, I was never here. Don't tell anyone. Ever.”

Caecilius broke away, eyes unable to look away. “The great god Vulcan must be enraged. It's so volcanic. It's like some sort of... volcano,” he breathed, not even aware that Donna had said the word earlier. Seconds later the weight of the horror hit him, and his voice broke. “All those people...”

Metella came to his side, and he hugged her. Their shared gratitude in surviving was tempered by the grief for all those they had known. Nearby Quintus took Evelina's hand, relieved that his sister was spared the fate of the Sisterhood.

“Good luck,” the Doctor said. “This is as far as I can take you. But I imagine that you will manage very well.”

The family nodded silently, but barely looked back as the Doctor and Donna slipped back into the TARDIS. It was still time to mourn their list city.

Inside the TARDIS, Donna watched the Doctor working the controls. “Thank you,” she whispered.

The Doctor took a deep breath. “You were right. I can still make a difference, and it does honour my lost friends and family. I need someone with me, to remind me of that. Welcome aboard.”

“Yeah. Again.”

Now he finally smiled genuinely. “I was right. I definitely need you around. Thank you for helping me through my remembered grief,” he said as he sent them into the Vortex. He looked up, eyes shining in gratitude. “And for sharing such a huge burden with me. No one has ever done that before, and you acted like there was nothing else you could do. Do you know how rare that is? Finding someone who so willingly helps with an impossible task?”

“It was the only thing to do,” Donna insisted. “You needed the support to be able to do what needed to be done.” She sighed heavily, even though she was still smiling at the sight of his smile. “My clothes, they won't throw archaeologists off, will they?”

“I doubt they possibly survived nearly two thousand years under the ash.” He paused, remembering the amount of cases she had brought with her and how particular she had been about having her own clothes. “I won't have to replace them, will I?”

She shook her head, yet smiled at his consideration. “No. They lost everything except their lives and the clothes on their backs. I can let a shirt, trousers, and old shoes go. It's not like I'm short of clothes. And they weren't my favourites, either.”

“Lucky me.”

Donna tossed a brief glare his way, but it lasted only a few seconds. “So... some rest for us both?”

“Yes. Although I think we need to stop at Gallifrey soon.”

“Why?”

“You heard Lucius. Pyrovilia is lost. From how he spoke it sounded like it's gone missing. Now how does a planet go missing?”

“You're asking me? Aren't you supposed to know?”

“There aren't many ways, and as far as I know none of them should be possible. Something is going on, and perhaps they might know of something I don't. Or if they're unaware at present then they can become alert to them.”

“How long has it been since that day when you confronted the Moment?”

He winced, and took a deep breath. “From my perspective, far too long.”

“It's different for your people?”

“Um... I'm still supposed to return very shortly after I left. Someone concealed that I had left in the first place. So I must go back to ensure her safety and ensure that my homeworld gets back on a stable footing now that the War won't happen. Well, more or less. My kind are very stubborn.”

She frowned. “Noticed. Are you thinking there's something going on?”

“If there is, my people need to be alert to it. I can't be everywhere at once.”

“Will they act?”

He grimaced. “I can't expect them to, although if they know of it then they might listen for signs of danger. In case there is a risk to Time itself. Although there are some I don't trust to act in the Universe's bet interests.”

“Then, what are we waiting for? I'm curious to see your planet.”

“Donna, my people aren't always keen on outsiders. My friend Leela was barely tolerated even when I was last there, and that was after years of marriage to my Guard friend, Andred.”

She stopped still. “You what?! Is she Human?”

“Yes. Forceful person. I'm a little uneasy over the thought of you two meeting, come to think of it.”

“Well, either it'll happen or it won't. Now quit dwaddling and get us there, Martian Boy!”

He found a tiny smile at the nickname as he began flipping switches and levers.

Donna was silent for several seconds, and decided she had to speak. “You know what?”

“Hmm?”

“You were wrong.”

He looked up. “About what?”

“What you said about leaving Earth alone to the Racnoss. That's not you at your core. You save people. Even when you feel lost you seek to help.”

“Donna, you didn't see me after that awful day. I'd just come off losing two very important people. One was Lucie. The other was my great-grandson. I lost them back-to-back.”

Donna gasped.

“I lost hope. And that led me into a difficult journey handed to me by another Time Lord. He didn't care about what was right or good. He just acted for his own ends, to suit the CIA's wishes.”

“He worked for the Americans?”

The Doctor snorted, a laugh bubbling up at the thought. “No, no, no. The Celestial Intervention Agency. They disagree with general rule that Time Lords should not interfere, but they never care about the damage or pain they cause. One of them was responsible for my meeting Lucie in the first place, and he put me on a mission that did little to restore my sense of hope once he figured out I'd left Gallifrey after dealing with the Moment.”

“Sounds charming. Where is he now?” she growled.

“Sorry, you won't get to slap him.” He tried to conceal that he was little disappointed about that, and quickly added an explanation. “He died during that series of events. I suppose my feelings about it are a lot like yours were about Lance's death – only you actually had some good experiences with him. But I almost shudder to think how you'll get on with some of the people on my planet.”

“Scared I'll smack them into something other than death?”

“More that the High Council will have to rewrite the calendar by the time you're finished with them.”

/=/=/=/=/

Ohila remained staring at the bed. She had arranged the pillows and blanket to make it look like he was still there. Just in case anyone passed by. But there would likely be no visits even from the medics until the monitors read differently. Amazing how a little well-timed magic could trick them.

Yet the lack of the Doctor's TARDIS might be a problem. She was not satisfied with how her magic was covering for that. Almost impossible to conceal the absence of a large time field.

Suddenly, the sounds that had confirmed his arrival on Karn returned, and the air whirled the bed's décor out of place. She looked slowly in its direction and waited.

The doors opened, and the Doctor's voice preceded him. “...because while some of them might deserve it, you don't know how strong Gallifreyans are.” He stopped his explanation when his eyes met Ohila's. “Oh, you're still here.”

“I said I would be or they would have discovered your absence,” she said as Donna exited the TARDIS. Ohila's eyes widened and her mouth dropped as she took in the sight of the Human woman.

The sound of footsteps raced toward the room, and the three medics who had been treating the Doctor burst in. They stopped still. “You've left and come back!” the lead medic breathed.

“And you have hair again!” blurted another.

“Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for stating the obvious. Now, I suspect that the High Council will be meeting soon. I have news that they should know. One of you, send a message to the Lady Lord President to request that meeting happen today. Tell her I said so.”

They rushed back out.

Donna's eyebrows were nearly in her fringe. “From that little you said I didn't expect them to act like characters from Monty Python.”

He laughed. “I assure you it's not that common.” He paused for a second. “Okay, okay, okay. You can argue that one. Anyway, this is Ohila.”

“Oh... Yeah, she does look a bit mystical. Oi! Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I have seen your face in the visions that have come since the Moment's defeat, Donna Noble. You have a great part to play in the safety of Time itself.”

“I hate talk of destiny.”

“Hating it doesn't let you hide from it. The Doctor has learnt that lesson, I trust.”

The pointed tone made him grimace. “Enough to listen to prophecies and attempt to determine what might be the meaning.”

“Doctor?”

“Yes, Donna?”

“What did they mean that you have hair again?”


Chapter Ten: Recovery and Reluctant Resilience

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Oct. 29th, 2017 10:55 pm (UTC)
Oops! I'd forgotten the previous chapter was a flashback. So please ignore the death comment.

Anyway. I've always wondered what tale Caecilius and his family told when they reached safety (I suppose that's a fic all on its own).

Oh my! I never thought you'd get Donna to Gallifrey! This is an excellent plot twist. *runs to read the next bit*
tkel_paris
Oct. 29th, 2017 11:29 pm (UTC)
Still, you can't help but wonder. That's why it was the cliffhanger.

Hmm. Interesting thought. Who's going to take that one on? I'd ask you, but I'd rather see more from the Gallifreyan Productions fic-verse. *Puss eyes*

Yes. I KNEW she had to get there at the end of this adventure because Eight knew he had to tell his people what's going on. And I can't wait for your comments on the final chapter. *evil grin*
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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