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NEW: You Thought Wrong (5/5)

Title: YOU THOUGHT WRONG

Rating: T for angst, a character death, and serious Doctor-whump.

Summary: The TARDIS mysteriously dumps 11, Amy, and Rory near Chiswick. Worried about running into Donna, 11 instead runs into someone he thought he'd never see again... and who's furious with him.

Disclaimer: If I owned them, would I have ever felt compelled to write this? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.

Author's Note: Almost all songs referenced are sung by Kelly Clarkson, although there might be one additional one by someone else. Each one seemed appropriate given the tone and topic of each chapter. Title is from another Kelly Clarkson song, although the lyrics weren't right for this story.

Might want tissues while reading this...

This revived fic is dedicated to tardis-mole, with extra Eleven-whumpage as an homage. If you love Eleven, blame this fic on her. My frustration is with RTD and the other writers responsible for the situation that I'm sort-of fixing here, but I'm afraid Eleven has to take the punishment for it. Apologies to Matt Smith, but I have far too much affection for the characters that David Tennant and Catherine Tate played to perfection.

Part Note: Two songs this time. First one is a Judy Garland song I first heard watching a figure skating exhibition show in 1995. (Yikes, that seems like a lifetime ago...!) I thought it suited Eleven's mood here... and it's actually part of the story! Though I'm only quoting a bit of it, namely the most relevant lines...

This turned out to have more angst than I'd expected... But it had to be that way in the end. Please read all the way to the end; the Doctor gets redemption... Donna wouldn't let me do anything else...

Warning: character death within...

And now enjoy a fic with what I consider to be the best angsty Doctor song – regardless of the incarnation – when he's thinking about a companion whose departure he regrets... In case you've never heard the song, here's a vid of a performance - apparently in London:



And now, the conclusion...


Low / Because of You / If No One Will Listen / Never Again, Parts One and Two

PART 5: CRY



Amy and Rory had left. The Doctor knew it was coming ever since Donna had shone a light into his soul and showed him all the things he'd really been running from. What he hadn't realized until it was far too late, until he'd hurt the very person who meant everything to him. Who could've been everything to him if he'd just stopped to think... To ask for help...

And he wasn't surprised. The Ponds' eldest child had been ripped from them in an attempt to create a weapon against him. At least the enemies had underestimated Melody Pond Williams, who eventually became River Song... No wonder they wanted to leave to raise a family that wouldn't be in danger from their parents traveling with him...

As for River herself... He had mixed feelings. He'd once looked upon her liking of weapons with a bi of admiration... until he got an unintentional yet pointed reminder of the Time War. Of how especially his last self had hated guns and sought alternatives at every chance. And that was before he'd discovered how ruthless the woman could be in seeking what she wanted.

He couldn't help but compare River's quest to find him with Donna's, but it was a hollow comparison. Donna sought him out because she knew she'd made a mistake out of fear. She'd wanted to recover the wonder she'd felt, and to make a difference in the life of someone who needed someone... River, on the other hand, had apparently gone into archeology for the sole purpose of finding him again, and learnt all sorts of behaviors that – when he allowed himself to think about them – he couldn't approve of. He might've stolen the TARDIS – although the Old Girl had argued with him on who stole who – but River was in many ways only a few steps above a criminal... No wonder the Old Girl had always been uneasy about her, only teaching her things because she knew that she had to in order to preserve history...

The Doctor sighed over the Console as he saw just how trapped his life was to River's. Sure, he'd become a bit fond of her, as he had of everyone he'd ever considered a companion, but... If there were one companion that he wondered if his life would be better without... Especially because without hearing his name whispered by River in the Library, he just might have fought harder to keep Donna by his side... and not been so fatalistic on that day that ruined all of his Tenth self's dreams...

Well, he reluctantly admitted to himself, when he ruined all of his dreams by being too short-sighted... Rassilon, it hurt to admit that he was such a fool!

After Amy and Rory left, he'd stumbled through an adventure on his own. Well, it started on his own. River showed up, much to his chagrin. He'd tried during their adventures since Donna's recovery to put a little distance between them, but it was like River countered his every move. Really disconcerting, and disturbing... And so he was trapped... and had to carry out the actions that would enable the events at the Library one day...

At least she had no clue how much his hearts were breaking over the whole thing. He'd heard Donna's comments about exes all too well...

At the end of the last one, he'd been walking back when he overheard a song from mid-Twentieth Century Earth. Some American singer – Judy something-or-other, and it reminded him about tornadoes and red slippers and yellow brick roads – was going on with something aimed at a man who'd left. About how he'd feel “blue,” “sad,” bad,” and miss the “dearest,” “bestest pal you've ever had.”

It stung, but he couldn't stop himself from standing around to listen in. Even though it was yet one more reminder of what he'd lost through his own stupidity. Now that voice that hammered on him over his failures sounded like Donna, which was strangely...comforting... in a twisted way. Sometimes it was better to hear that than to not hear her in any way... He let himself drown mentally in the good memories of her... until the last lines of the song blasted from the speakers:

I'm gonna haunt you so, I'm gonna taunt you so
It's gonna drive you to ruin
After you've gone, after you've gone away


He'd had to flee into the TARDIS then. It was too apt a description of what happened to his last self. And what was happening to him now... How had his hearts made him so dependent on another that he functioned far worse on his own than he ever had before...?!

He took small comfort in successfully hiding one fact from River: he was dying again. This time it was poison and would take longer than any of his past deaths to lead into regeneration. Which meant that he could conceal it to do whatever he had left to in this body. “No more spoilers,” he said aloud to the universe. “Please, don't make me go through anything like that again...”

A nudge from the TARDIS drew him out of his thoughts and to the destination reader. The Old Girl had already put in a location, which he didn't recognize. “Where is that?”

River Song lives there. It's time to go to Darillium, Doctor...

Memories from the Library fluttered to mind, and he found a strange relief in the news...




It was over... He'd given River his Sonic. She'd be soon off to the Library, and would set off the chain of events. Or close it off. However one wanted to look at it. He was proud of himself for not letting her know that his tears were not over her, but over her getting to see Donna before things went pear-shaped in his life. Over the wish for the purer joy that Donna would've had in seeing the Towers, hearing the sounds... Over the missed chances they'd had... Over all the things he'd wished he could've done for her, the places he'd wanted to take her to...

And River knew a little about Donna, from one ugly time aboard the TARDIS. But he tried his darnedest to keep it to the bare minimum: that she was the Most Important Woman in all of Creation, had been his best friend, and his heart broke over how they'd parted. At least River couldn't accuse him of lying, which she often did. With cause.

He was past wanting to think about it, and ready to die. Except he could tell that he had some time left before the energy built to the point of no return. So he had to wait...

Another nudge from the TARDIS. “Oh, where now, Old Girl...?” His whine didn't last when the ship seized control and sent them off  somewhere. Holding on to the Console, he silently groaned over not having anything to even try to wrest control with.

The landing was much calmer than any of the forced ones the TARDIS had ever done. It was almost like he'd done it with help! Then his ship was so quiet, except for urging him to go outside. He looked at the new suit, the one he'd only grabbed because it was what he was supposed to do, and held up a hand. “Let me change...”

But the Old Girl opened the doors for him, telling him to not dally. Sighing, he slowly walked outside to face whatever the TARDIS had planned for him... and was shocked at the sight. “Cardiff? In...” He paused to detect the date and year. “December...” Over six years after he'd parted again from Donna. “What am I doing here? Is there going to be another Christmas disaster...?”

“Doctor...?”

He started over the sound of Wilf's voice. He saw the man standing in the frame of a door leading into one of the houses on the street that – he now noticed – he'd landed on. The old man was leaning on a cane, and definitely looked every bit his years, but there was no anger in his eyes. No censure, no judgment... It was an all right substitution for Donna in a pinch...

Wilf didn't like how pale the alien looked, or how haunted he clearly was. And he didn't like to not help a friend. He beckoned him over. “Come on in, lad. You look like you could do with nice cupppa.”

The Doctor found the compassion overwhelming, and his hearts craved it. So he silently followed Wild's orders, trudging through the snow. As he did, he had the faint sense that... Oh, Rassilon! Donna and John were somewhere nearby... His hearts clenched as his senses picked up the two... and then he also felt baffled when he realized that not only could he detect them like he could the other Time Lords, there were also what seemed like additional Time Lords around...

Those senses filled his head in places that had been empty since the Time War...

He stumbled into the house, and Wilf shut the door before he could ask, “What are you doing here?”

Wilf shrugged. “Donna and John moved here almost six years ago. Something about it was easier to grow their baby spaceship near the Rift. Seems he had something of your ship in that Manipulator thing he used.”

Of course... He'd sensed that the Old Girl had produced an offspring, but then couldn't understand where it went off to. He realized that John must have pocketed it before walking out to Bad Wolf Bay... and was glad that he had. “How are you, Wilf?” He wasn't ready to deal with the questions he really wanted answers to... yet...

Wilf hadn't understood a lot about the Doctor, even with the interest in people that he and Donna shared, but he could tell when someone was deflecting. Still, he allowed the Doctor the moment as he poured some tea. “Closer every day to meeting my maker, but I've accepted it. The family will be all right when it happens. My daughter's got a focus in life, my granddaughter's thriving, and so is her husband.”

The Doctor really shouldn't have been surprised, but the word cut him deeply. Especially when he looked out the windows into the back garden and saw Donna standing at an angle to him, laughing over something going on. “When...?” The word was whispered as his eyes noted the obvious – but not extreme – baby bump under her thick coat – with the hood lowered, showing her vibrant hair...

Wilf would've smiled under any other circumstance, but the Doctor's history with Donna forced him to hold it in as he handed the alien some tea. “Ironically, Christmas Eve six years ago.”

That left the Doctor completely stricken. The anniversary of the day I met her...!

“Just before they moved here,” Wilf continued. “They were living together under our roof until then. She's not in touch with much of Shaun's family; despite her looking out for them, a lot of his folks didn't like John's presence in her life. They made the mistake of making her choose, and there wasn't a choice for her. She hated having to be out of their lives; she likes them.”

The Doctor flinched. Yet another family relationship he'd hurt... “Is she happy...?” He knew it was a daft question, but it was so much more important to him – although he couldn't admit it to anyone – than whether Joan Redfern had been so...

Wilf smiled sadly at the transfixed Doctor. “Deeply,” was all he said.

The Doctor looked on in agony. He was still stuck, but she had moved on...

If anyone asks,
I'll tell them we both just moved on


And the pain in his hearts got stronger as he saw out of the corner of his eye a picture over the fireplace. It was John – wearing what looked like the “jinxed” suit, which thereby proved that it was just the Doctor having bad timing in choosing when to wear the suit – and Donna – wearing a modest, deep purple dress – standing in front of her old church in a loose embrace. With eyes only for each other. (An outsider might think that she wasn't as happy as she'd looked at either of her previous weddings because of the gravity in her expression, but the Doctor could see in her eyes a peace and confidence in knowing that she was happy.) The golden frame had their names and the date on it, and a phrase that was truer than the maker could've known: “Two halves of a whole.”

“It was a lovely day,” Wilf remembered. “All sorts of people whose lives you touched came to show their support for them. I think Jack took that picture. He said it beautifully captured their bond as best as the rest of us could see it.”

The Doctor was glad that no one could watch his expressions. Not that he would've let them know he could hear them... Because he could imagine quite a few of the intricacies of the bond unique to them... Yet one more thing he'd missed out on...

When people all stare
I'll pretend that I don't hear them talk


Wilf grabbed another frame, and its contents captured the Doctor's eyes. It was one of those with multiple picture slots – five in this case. In the center was a summertime picture of Donna and John surrounded by Sylvia, Wilf, and... six young children. Even as he stared in shock, the Doctor found himself struck by a new feeling: being instantly in love with people he'd never met...

“The two oldest,” Wilf noted as he tapped beside the faces of a boy and a girl – both gingers, the Doctor noted with some pleasure – who looked about five Earth years old, “are Geoffrey Ian and Susan Elizabeth. That's them newly born,” he added, tapping next to the picture on the upper left corner. Donna was lying on a nondescript hospital bed, with John's arms wrapped tightly around her and the twins she held. Their faces shared a beaming sense of “look what we did,” but the Doctor could see hints of remembering the Library Computer world in the way their hands touched the twins...

And never mind that he knew exactly who they were named after: Donna's father and three different companions... It was so bittersweet...

Wilf continued, choosing to not notice the Doctor's torn emotions playing over his face, bringing attention to a brown-haired boy who looked around three or four in the main picture, “That's James Steven, Jamie to the family. Born fifteen months after the twins. Should've been a warning to them of how much they got distracted with raising the others and helping reform Torchwood that they might become forgetful of... certain protections... but I guess they decided they wanted a large family. Not like they can't afford it...”

Both good and painful memories at those names... And it touched his hearts... And the upper right picture was evidently him as a baby at what looked like the same birthing room. John was holding him, with Donna looking on indulgently.

Next Wilf pointed to another pair: blond and brunette – respectively – girls looking between three and two years. “Victoria 'Vicky' Jo and Sarah Jane Leila. Little SJ's namesake never got to meet her; she died of a cancer that metastasized because of Miracle Day, but she lingered long enough to see Donna again.”

The Doctor sucked in a sharp breath. Good old Sarah Jane Smith...! “What happened to Luke?!”

Wilf smiled sadly, and motioned to the outside. “Well-looked after. We've all been helping him out. He's on break from university, but he spends a lot of time working for UNIT. An elderly retired general who said he knew you has been his mentor. He and I have tea every so often. Why can't I remember his name...?”

Sir Alistair... He felt a tiny bit of relief knowing that the Brig was well, and still helping support the good fight. He thought of the five women who were honored by these twins names, and they were good memories all in all... And their hospital picture on the lower right showed Donna and John thankfully untainted by the haunting memories that were apparent in their firstborns' picture.

“Anyway...” Wilf shook off his memory lapse and tapped by the youngest's face. “Zoe Grace. 11 months last week. Sweetest temper of the whole bunch, despite being a ginger. Donna and John have wondered if something went wrong in the womb because she's so quiet and contemplative.”

The Doctor could see a lot of wisdom in her young eyes, and noted how much she looked like a wise woman even in the first picture, shown on the lower left. She might become a Visionary... “Six children under age six... And they've... rebuilt Torchwood and been growing a TARDIS...?” His respect for Donna had increased exponentially.

Wilf quirked a grin. “Oh, they've needed our help, and their friends have pitched in. Even though they've been raising their own families.”

It was then that the Doctor noticed that there were quite a few children playing in the snow. He realized he could also see Martha, Mickey, Jack, Sylvia, Gwen, and a man he didn't recognize helping John direct some snow construction. Luke and someone else he didn't recognize – a female whose back was facing him and was wearing a hooded coat – where also helping. Donna called out ideas from her place off to the side, like a general directing her troops.

He was so proud of her... Even though he felt he had to swallow so much – just to not blurt out something he'd rather keep quiet...

Whenever I see you,
I'll swallow my pride
and bite my tongue


Then a thought hit. “Wait! I remember someone said that Donna and Shaun tried to have children, but she couldn't get pregnant. I don't understand it. I knew someone who had a child with one of my people. Even if Donna had some of my last self's DNA, she should've still been able to have children. In fact, the Time Lord DNA should've helped her!”

“Martha had a hypothesis about that,” Wilf noted quietly, remembering the sad talk that the young doctor had with them before Shaun's death. “She speculated that Donna's DNA was rewired by the Time Lord DNA – because of the nature of the Meta-Crisis – in such a way that she'd become only compatible with one person. Well,” he amended softly, “I guess... two people, I should say...”

The Doctor's eyes widened. “John... and my last self...” He didn't dare wonder about himself... He tried to hide his reaction, act like the universe couldn't touch him.

Pretend I'm okay with it all


Then he noticed John – who probably had gotten a good-natured ribbing from Donna earlier over just wearing the coat that the Doctor himself used to wear as protection against the cold – look at Donna, as if checking on her. The Doctor could make out the gist of the mental talk, and his eyebrows popped up. “She's carrying triplets?!” She doesn't look far along!

“About three months in.” Wilf laughed heartily. “I keep wondering if those will be their last. But Martha said that their bodies aren't really aging. And since there aren't any other Time Lords around... I guess they feel a need to populate the universe a bit... Mind,” Wilf added wryly, “she did slap his arm when they detected three this time. Although he couldn't stop smiling – even as he held up his hands to placate her.”

Another thing he could've been part of... If not for his own faults... “Good for them,” he managed.

Act like there's nothing wrong


He looked outside and saw the unknown female letting Geoff and Susan chase her a little and then tackle her. As she fell back playfully, her hood dropped, revealing a blond head of hair. And when she was on her back, the Doctor could see her face – and gasped. He choked on the next word: “Jenny...?” How can this be...?

Wilf sighed. Not surprised he's this shocked, given what Donna said... “Apparently, she somehow revived after you left. She left and traveled on her own, but soon realized that she needed guidance to be able to help others. Took her a while to find a way back to Earth, seeking out us first. She landed – with some hostiles following her – a little over five years ago. She decided to stay, and is called a niece to anyone who asks. Though she calls Donna 'Mum' and John 'Pops.'”

The Doctor nearly collapsed against the wall, almost dropping the tea cup. He remembered Donna and Martha had tried to talk him into sticking around to help bury Jenny, but he couldn't bear to stay and keep seeing his loss with his eyes... So I could've had a family again if I'd listened to them...? It was almost as painful as the moment he realized that the Meta-Crisis would overwhelm Donna's mind...

How much more did the Universe think he could take...?

Is it over yet?


Wilf looked hard at his friend, and grabbed him by the arms. “Right, lad, you need to sit right now,” he ordered, dragging him over to a seat facing away from the windows. Poor man... Faced once again with his mistakes... but what brought him here after all this time...?

The Doctor was barely aware of sitting, or of the tea being brought to his lips. Or of being coaxed into drinking it. Or of how different Donna's favorite tea tasted to this self's taste-buds. All he could think about were the time-lines that he suddenly realized had been possible... and how he'd been blind to them because he was living in the moment... Seems Time Lords couldn't see every possibility after all...

Can I open my eyes?


After several long moments, the Doctor whispered to Wilf, “I can sense their children as though they're Time Lords. In fact, I can sense them all a bit more strongly than I could the last time. How is that possible?”

Wilf blinked, but he remembered that Donna always said that getting the truth out of the Doctor was sometimes like pulling teeth. He figured that this meant something very important. Sighing, he shrugged. “All I know is that they got some things that your ship wanted them to keep taking. Liquids and pills...”

A sense of confirmation from the TARDIS told him the Old Girl had tried to give the children an extra boost like the one Melody Pond Williams got... which had turned her into River Song... Not for the first time, he wondered whether Donna could have managed the Meta-Crisis without any trouble had she gotten pregnant aboard the TARDIS...

Yet one more regret...

Is this as hard as it gets?


Wilf watched the play of emotions across the alien's face. He'd seen shell-shocked soldiers dealing with reliving the horrors they'd endured. He knew what survivor's guilt looked like. He knew what it felt like to know you'd made a big mistake; if he hadn't been away that one day, maybe his wife would still be alive and not have died from her sudden illness... He could only imagine what was going through the Doctor's mind. It was plain as day that Donna meant the universe to him, and it had killed him to do what he'd thought was necessary. “Just so you know,” he whispered, “I won't be offended if you need to let anything out.”

But the Doctor was afraid. If he let one tear out now... This might be the time he couldn't stop... Until regeneration hit... Nothing had hurt so much since losing everything at his own hand the first time, over Gallifrey... Not even losing Donna to his own mistakes...

Is this what it feels like to really cry...?
Cry...


River had asked a few times about past companions, but he'd been careful what he said. Always speaking in general terms. But when she'd found that biodamper... Oh, he hadn't been able to avoid admitting that he'd once put that on the finger of the Most Important Woman in All of Creation. He now wondered if, by the time of the Library, River had figured out that he wished he could've meant something other than Donna's safety when he'd placed that ring... As it was, he'd had to shut her down when he realized she was trying to manipulate him into telling her more...

If anyone asks,
I'll tell them we just grew apart


I wonder, the Doctor suddenly thought, if Amy and Rory suspected anything... Actually, a lot of his companions – especially the more recent ones – had at least several moments of being extremely perceptive at reading him. Donna was simply the best at it. He'd done his sheer best to keep a lot to himself, convinced that no one else could possibly understand his demons in the slightest. And didn't bother to think about how convincing he was when he said he was fine.

Yeah what do I care
If they believe me or not


Wilf realized that the Doctor's sense of what was happening around him had dulled when he heard a door slide open. He looked behind them, and felt his heart sink for the Doctor. This could break him, he feared...

Why, the Doctor wondered, did the TARDIS think I had to come here...? To rub my mistakes in my face one last time? To remind me that you don't get to say goodbye in a way you want to? That I need to be more humble...?

“Dad...?”

Jenny! His head whipped toward her voice, and met her disbelieving eyes. She can tell it's me, he knew, but she doesn't seem prepared to actually see the proof of regeneration. She looked just like she did when he remembered her being alive... Some sort of partial regeneration then... And then he saw Donna and John coming inside behind her... and sensed that they were holding their thoughts under a tight reign – keeping him locked out. Their expressions were so controlled that he couldn't read them.

He wasn't sure whether this was better than Donna snapping at him... like he was expecting... He swallowed, unable to move. “Hi, Jenny,” he whispered. “Hello, Donna...” The memories were weighing him down, threatening to swallow him whole...

Whenever I feel
Your memory is breaking my heart


Donna pulled a hand out of her coat to touch Jenny's shoulder. The Time Lady had made considerable strides in growing up on her own, but she'd needed the emotional balm of a family; her hearts craved affection as much as her father's had – and John was just like them in that respect.

And the poor girl didn't know what to do now that she was faced with her father again. Jenny had been so mad at her father for what he'd done, but wouldn't dare think about life without her siblings in it. So she'd had to take a lesson from Donna in compassion and letting go, in order to function. She also sensed something happening within him... something that was causing him physical pain – above the emotional pain she could feel flowing out in constant waves. Then she realized what was happening, and whispered, “You're dying...”

The Doctor tried to shrug it off. If I hug them, he feared, I might not let go in time... He shook his head. “I've got two more lives left. I'll be all right.”

I'll pretend I'm okay with it all
Act like there's nothing wrong


“And that Time Lord code still hasn't changed,” Donna said, voice filled with sadnes over the pain she, too, could feel.

“Are you really surprised?” John's voice was a lot softer than he'd thought possible. He'd privately been sure that if the Doctor hadn't shown his face in the year after that fateful day, then they probably would never see him again. Though he'd felt how Donna wanted to know how her old friend was doing, and whether he had anyone to stop him. For the sake of the universe, and all those who were yet to encounter him, John hoped the Doctor had found someone who might be able to handle the role. But it didn't look like he had...

“Look,” the Doctor said, forcing himself to stand, “the Old Girl brought me here. I guess... she wanted me to see you one last time...” Even though I'm not enough of a coward to end it without regenerating, I doubt I'll ever get to see any of them again...

Is it over yet?
Can I open my eyes?
Is this as hard as it gets?
Is this what it feels like to really cry?
Cry


He continued, trying to not meet anyone's eyes; he couldn't bear to see anything like pity or anger from these people who shared some of his brightest and darkest moments, “I mean, it's just the way of the Universe for me. I have friends traveling with me, but they all leave and I'm alone. It's just my lot in life. I can deal with it another two lives. None of you have to worry about me.”

Although even as he talked, he knew that he was talking to a room full of people who wouldn't be fooled by his lies. Either because they'd heard lies enough times to discern their existence, or because they knew him all too well...

I'm talking in circles
I'm lying, they know it
Why won't this just all go away...?


Donna sighed, squeezing Jenny's shoulder and John's hand at the same time. And profoundly grateful that Gwen, Rhys, Luke, and her own Mum were keeping the kids outside for now. “I never said you couldn't come back, Spaceman. We just needed time to let go of the past enough to forgive you...”

The Doctor blinked rapidly. I couldn't have heard her correctly. “What?!”

John shook his head sadly. “Yes, we were angry, but don't you remember that Donna felt sorry for Lance in the end? That she felt for the Empress' plight as a mother despite it all? Have you forgotten just how much compassion she has that you thought she'd never forgive you?”

The Doctor stared at him in shock, stunned at the total sincerity he saw. And how he couldn't see anything he'd feared in any of their eyes.

Is it over yet?


The thought that he'd spent all that time being hard on himself could've been avoided if he'd asked a few more questions, if he'd given into the need - one he'd been suppressing ruthlessly – to see Donna... It was too much, and he choked on his breath.

Can I open my eyes?


He couldn't speak. The room felt too crowned, and he felt claustrophobic for the first time in his long life. And the Doctor ran outside before a cry could escape his lips.

Is this as hard as it gets?


He rushed along toward the TARDIS, and snapped his fingers. But a sudden pain hit, making him stumble to the ground just in front of the open doors. The energy was building, feeding off his emotional pain. He didn't have much longer left... thank Rassilon... But he had to get inside... before the tears really started falling... Of shame, pain, and regret...

Is this what it feels like to really cry?
Cry
Cry...


He didn't realize how little he detected of his surroundings until four hands suddenly grabbed him and carefully yanked him to his feet, guiding him inside the TARDIS. He was so dazed that he couldn't focus until he found himself plunked onto the Jump Seat. He finally looked up at his helpers, and froze. John and Jenny!

“Come on,” he heard Donna shout, as running steps registered in his ears. He heard the doors close, and realized that Jack, Martha, and Mickey were also inside. “We need to get the Old Girl into the Vortex! It's the safest place for him to regenerate!” And he could hear the TARDIS instructing Donna, John, and Jenny in how to make that happen quickly – and then the trio calling out instructions to the others, who took up positions at the Console.

By the time the Doctor could pull himself up to stand, he knew they were in the Vortex. “I could've made it here myself,” he whispered, feeling hoarse as the energy grew within.

Donna walked right up to him, well aware that she was making everyone else – especially the Doctor – nervous. But the TARDIS was telling her that she had enough time to do this. “You last regenerated alone, consumed by your regrets. I'm not letting that happen again. We are your family and friends, and we will see you through these next moments.” She held up a hand against his mouth to stop any further words. “I let go of my anger within a few months, Spaceman. I forgive you,” she finished on a whisper as she drew him in for a tight hug.

The Doctor froze stiff afraid to return the hug for fear that if he let go, the regeneration energy would engulf Donna. And he didn't want to know what it would do to her pregnancy... His body trembled from the effort to hold in the tears and the urge to hug her...

I won't let anything happen to her, the TARDIS whispered. You've got a little time yet, my Eleventh Doctor... I'll warn you both; I can tell when it's imminent...

Not quite willing to believe, but desperately wanting one last comfort, the Doctor cautiously wrapped his arms around her and squeezed a little. His breaths became choking gasps as he struggled to hold himself in check. And yet with each gasp, he felt a bit of tension melt out of him.

And Donna didn't let go. Her poor Spaceman needed this release, to end this incarnation's existence with fewer regrets than the one she'd known...

He couldn't believe that, after all the crap he put Donna and John through, they were willing to stand by and see him through this regeneration... Nothing, he knew as he felt the energy building toward the point where nothing could delay it, could prove that he'd been forgiven more than this. Oh, he knew that they'd never forget, but this act of mercy was more than he'd dared hope for...

And he got to go gazing upon Donna Noble's face. He couldn't think of a better end... given all of his screw-ups...

When she felt his body spasm, Donna pulled back – and he let go, staggering back a little. She stepped backward toward the others, adding as the energy made him start to glow, “It'll be okay.” It was the best, truest promise she could make. For he would be so under her care.

The Doctor broke eye contact with Donna to check on the others. Martha and Mickey were clutching each other, eyes fixed on him and trying to give reassuring smiles. They were scared, he could tell, because they've never seen this before... Jack was worried, but his attempt was closer to a real smile. The Immortal's eyes looked like he'd seen another thousand years since that bar... Jenny was clutching John's side, looking every bit like a terrified little girl. Even as Donna grasped one of her hands, letting John clasp her to him. The Doctor could feel John and Donna's minds trying to reassure Jenny, but he knew that his youngest could feel the pain coming off him.

He hoped that Donna and John could manage what he couldn't. To not only comfort her now, but to continue to raise her to be his successor. She would probably inherit the Old Girl upon – and this day was looming closer – his final self's death... Must set a new emergency protocol, he decided as his eyes turned from his twin – whose eyes showed that he, too, had let go of the anger – to Donna. To help the Old Girl return to them when I'm about to regenerate again, and when I'm dying for the last time...

That was his final thought as he looked into those all-too-knowing eyes that he... loved... And the energy overcame him...

No one could watch; it was too bright. Donna and Jenny buried their faces against John's side, he closed his eyes tightly, and the others each held up a hand to shield their eyes... Donna and John felt the Doctor's pain within themselves, but this time they weren't in any danger...

When the light faded, they all looked upon the Twelfth Doctor... and took in the new person before them. Each cataloging the differences...

The Doctor's eyes found Donna's quickly. He saw the relatively calm acceptance that he'd changed again. He could sense that only John and Jack also felt that way; the others were having varying degrees of trouble coming to grips with the change. Swallowing as he cataloged what he could tell was different, he braced to hear his new voice as he asked Donna an all-important question:

“How stupid do I look now?”

Donna laughed, choking on her tears. She couldn't help it; it was somehow such a Spaceman thing to say. She pulled away from John and Jenny to give the Space Dunce another hug. She wasn't surprised by how eager he was to accept it this time, now that the danger was gone.

This time, she could sense Jenny come over to join her, and felt when the Doctor released one arm to pull his daughter in close. She wasn't surprised to hear each crying...

The Doctor didn't know anything about what this self was like. Only that he was different from the eleven others he had been. But for the first time in his life, it didn't matter. What mattered was that he had very good friends looking for him, who forgave him for being an idiot. Friends who came over to touch his arms and back in support...

Best of all, he had his Jenny back, and he had been granted absolution by the Most Important Woman in All of Creation... The one person he'd wronged in the worst way... For the first time in many years, he could believe that thing might be well enough in his life. He could make this be enough...

THE END



Whew...! That was a ride to write...!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
jennytork
Sep. 13th, 2011 04:41 am (UTC)
I'm weeping.

that was so beautifl
tkel_paris
Sep. 13th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
It is sad, sad, sad... I'm just all cried out over the story... for the moment. Give me a while and I'll get tears again...

If you ever feel like it, I'd like to know what you felt made this beautiful...
jennytork
Sep. 13th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
How he got absolution from the one person he needed it from.

How Donna found joy again.

How the Time Lord race is repopulating.
tkel_paris
Sep. 13th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Thank you. Hope you enjoy the... happier stories I have coming up...
katherine_b
Sep. 15th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
I do adore this! Despite all of the (deserved IMHO) pain that Eleven was in for most of the fic, Donna's forgiveness and him then regenerating into Twelve and having Jenny there with him was a gorgeous way to end this fic. Love it!
tkel_paris
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
It's the end that Ten SHOULD'VE gotten! It was what I could do given what I had to work with, and the tone of the story. Thank you for reading to the end!
(Deleted comment)
tkel_paris
Oct. 22nd, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
Yeah... It demanded to be written, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. I wasn't expecting 11 to die in the end; he was supposed to just watch them and wander off on another adventure in sadness... But Donna's compassion had prevented me from going as harshly on him in the previous chapter as I'd originally planned to. So... Giving the Doctor absolution became important, since Donna wanted to see him again to let him know she'd let go of her anger.

Thank you for reading! And for reviewing!
eloriekam
Oct. 21st, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
The Doctor could make out the gist of the mental talk, and his eyebrows popped up.

Oi, Doctor! No eavesdropping!

Enjoyed that Eleven got that slice of happiness and wasn't alone when he regenerated. If only Ten had been treated so kindly, even if he did dash about getting his 'reward'. *shakes fist*
tkel_paris
Oct. 22nd, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
He couldn't help it! They don't know he's there yet, and he's got so much more practice with telepathy.

I know... On all counts... *growls once again at RTD*
eloriekam
Oct. 22nd, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
Yeah, but still, you'd think he'd have the sense to clamp down a little bit, all us noisy humans! Unless a bond like that was enough like other Time Lords in his head that it was irresistible after all the silence?

Yeah... the regen in End of Time had all sorts of wrong. I still can't get over Ten standing there, all alone and basically hyperventilating. *wails* I don't mind regeneration itself, and I only got introduced to Who last year, it was a bit late for me to object :p, but I know enough to think that Ten out of all of them shouldn't have had to do it alone. Sorry, I'm probably making it worse by going on about it! I don't suppose you've written any fixits for that? *looks hopeful*
tkel_paris
Oct. 22nd, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
I think there's that, and that he couldn't resist sensing something that would let him hear Donna's voice again.

I can't watch the episode anymore. I cry too much. For Ten, for Donna... Um... I haven't yet, but there could be in the future. Of course, I like to set my fix-its a lot earlier on... Remove the need for this episode in the first place! :)

Although I can rec a few...
eloriekam
Oct. 22nd, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think I prefer the fixits around Journey's End, or in time for Donna to show up and slap him in Waters of Mars. Slap him a lot! But then I am quite fond of Donna.

Could you rec me a few, really? If it's not too much trouble? :) Might be good therapy for finishing the Tennant-era rewatch--I've been stalled out before the Library episodes for about five or six weeks now.
tkel_paris
Nov. 11th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC)
You're not the only one. ;)

Well... BMG's "The Shimmering" and "A Friend in Need" are two examples using Handy/Donna as the pairing. The end of "To Err is Human" (found off of the doctor_donna community) is clearly the start of a fix-it. katherine_b has written a few nice ones - including one where Donna uses art to work through her memories.

Does that help any?
stormypups
Mar. 18th, 2012 08:58 am (UTC)
“I let go of my anger within a few months, Spaceman. I forgive you,” she finished on a whisper as she drew him in for a tight hug.

The Doctor froze stiff afraid to return the hug for fear that if he let go, the regeneration energy would engulf Donna. And he didn't want to know what it would do to her pregnancy... His body trembled from the effort to hold in the tears and the urge to hug her...


Thank you for giving the Doctor some peace. He was a prick, but I'm glad he was ultimately forgiven. He needs a family more than anyone, and now he has one of sorts.

I absolutely adored this fixit, especially because John Noble came back for her so fix each other. OH! And all the kids being named after old companions was a sweet touch. And OMG Jenny!! That was a surprise! Wonderfully done and written. Thank you thank you!!
tkel_paris
Mar. 19th, 2012 05:39 am (UTC)
As I think I said in response to another review, it's the end that Ten SHOULD'VE had. That's part of why I can't watch EoT; I'm an emotional wreck after. :(

The names and bringing Jenny back was all about drawing as much emotional pain on him as possible, to make Donna's forgiveness all the more shocking to Eleven. It made sense to write it that way.

Thank you for reading! :D
helloprilly
Dec. 29th, 2015 06:36 am (UTC)
For some reason I can picture 12 protesting about the hugging but secretly loving it and I totally picture him with attack eyebrows.

I couldnt comment on the earlier chapters because I was too choked up. Too much angst and too much sorrow and anger and self recrimination. The Doctor had it coming though and like his usual idiotic self he ran before asking questions. So typical of him but glad that in the end he got the forgiveness he so needed. Now if only that could happen in the show!

Donna surprised me though that she stayed as angry with him for as long as she did. That seemed a little out of character for her and I wonder if that was fed by the duplicate's very rightful anger at the Doctor for stranding him in Pete's world with HER. Definitely a downer story but definitely put into words a lot of angst that you could feel rattling about during 11's tenure. Bravo!
tkel_paris
Dec. 30th, 2015 06:12 am (UTC)
Now that first line is funnier, given who 12 is and what his character has turned out to be. Although... the idea that he chose that face in Donna's memory takes on a new meaning here, I guess. :)

Amen. But he has even more to correct now. :(

Think about it. He ran roughshod over her and the Duplicate. Shuan got caught in the mess and would still be alive if she hadn't been stuck like she was. Her family was forced to lie to her, which had to do a number on her emotional state. It's a major betrayal from someone she had thought wouldn't betray her.

It was a story that I felt needed telling.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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