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The Belted Doctor, Chapter 13

Title: The Belted Doctor, Chapter 13

Author: tkel_paris</lj> , aka KendraC


Rating: High T, borderline M for (very) naughty humor, and some hints... Consider yourself warned.


Summary: A crack!fic inspired by a line from “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and run for its life with. The Doctor is left with a very uncomfortable “protection” against unwanted advances. But will he find the one who is foretold to release him from his... prison?

Disclaimer: Mel Brooks owns “Men in Tights.” The BBC and others own “Doctor Who.” 'Nuff said.


Author's Note: Thank you for bearing with me so far. Things are about to get interesting - although we've got a little more angst to ride out...

P / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12


CHAPTER THIRTEEN: DARKNESS THREATENS ALL

Both of the “adults” on the TARDIS knew they needed some little time apart to regain equilibrium. The Doctor wanted to try to have some fun on his own, to prepare himself for the inevitable moment when Donna would walk out of his life – or was pushed out by circumstances out of their influence. Donna, meanwhile, wanted to try to relax – which meant some going back to what she liked before she met the Doctor: a spa visit. Besides, Jenny and Lee needed some time to talk without pressure from Daddy.

So the Doctor's idea of Midnight came as a surprise to his ladies. It sounded rather domestic for him, but no one really wanted to ask him what gave him the idea; why bring it to his attention if he wasn't really aware of it? Of course, Jenny was always up for going to new places. She just wanted special company now.

Donna really wondered why her Spaceman wasn't challenging the 51st century man. He could be so protective of her and Jenny that it didn't seem right for him to just be satisfied with a few words and a brief Oncoming Storm look.

The Doctor wasn't thrilled about his daughter having feelings for any man. She was still so young! But, as Donna kept reminding him, people change every day just from living. People also are influenced – sometimes ever so slightly – by those around them. River's death had hit him harder as he got further away from the Library; he had really treated her poorly. He also felt guilty about not feeling happy to learn that he would meet that woman and have a family. He just wanted Her to be a specific woman...

Of course, Donna had chided him over their cells about saying that nothing could go wrong with his shuttle trip. “You do realize that you're the biggest trouble magnet in the universe. You're always telling me that you think the Universe hates you, so what's stopping it from doing something here? You've just tempted Fate!”

He hated brushing her off, so he settled for, “I'll be careful, Donna.”

He'd had to close that conversation before he got really tempted to actually voice his feelings. Didn't want to cause any additional problems once life got more complicated.

But then things went horribly wrong. And he'd been sure he wouldn't survive...

So there he was, sitting on the floor of the vessel. Aside from asking for the hostess' name, which no one knew, he had nothing to say to anyone. He'd never seen humans be that scared of him, that ready to hurt him. So, he thought listlessly, I really am an outsider. Will I ever feel like I have a place outside of my TARDIS to feel at home...? Especially once Donna is gone from my life...?

He really couldn't focus on noticing anything beyond his own thoughts. Though he was profoundly grateful that Donna and Jenny weren't there; his dark thoughts could imagine the horrors that the creature could have put him through had the two he loved been there. It might have targeted one of them instead...

What was it that Donna once said? “We have to treasure the moments we get. The little things are what makes life worthwhile – gives it meaning – in the face of hardship.” And as for dealing with grief? “We go on. We live. We remember... What else can we do?” Her views must have influenced him more than he'd thought; how else would he have thought of Midnight? Willingly going on what amounted to a tourist package?

Yep, he sighed sadly. The things you do when you're in love... How long would it take his observant friend to figure out that something was wrong? And how the hell was he going to handle that? If I admit to anything, he thought, she'll surely feel compelled to leave. And I don't want that...




Meanwhile, Donna spent her time trying to chaperon the younger couple. (Actually, Lee was older than she was, but he was rather calming to Jenny's excitable nature, so Donna hoped they would find a way to be good together. The romantic in her hoped that her daughter might be lucky in a way that she wasn't.) Fortunately, they were fine hanging around nearby tables while Donna rested by the pool. She'd wanted to use the other facilities, but she found herself unable to use a lot of them; didn't want to have others' hands on her, in the end.

The pool did relax her body, but her mind would not calm. She could still hear the TARDIS reminding her about something on her nightstand, but she thought she was due for such a headache that she wanted to try to take her mind off that flipping, oblivious alien. She'd been feeling it since yesterday (not too long after leaving the Library), when the Doctor came up with the idea of Midnight, which had prompted an unexpected hug from her.

Really, why wasn't she managing to be more independent? Was she starting to rely on him too much?

But when the alert came that a rescue vessel was docking soon, it took her a moment to realize that her earlier fears were well-founded. Jenny hadn't been paying attention until Donna prodded her, and then she was equally frightened.

Until they saw him, they were imagining all sorts of nasty things happening to the passengers. But seeing how pale he was and how lifeless his face looked, Donna couldn't help but pull him into her arms. And when he – after a moment's shock – pulled her into his arms as tightly as she was holding him, she was absolutely terrified for him. And he wouldn't let her go even as he pulled Jenny into the embrace.

Lee had stayed back, but stopped one of the rescue vessel crew to demand answers. The response wasn't comforting: “None of the passengers said a word. They just nodded or shook their heads when asked questions. Although, if you ask me, your friend seems the worst off of the bunch.”

Donna felt Jenny join her in reflexively tightening the hug. Oh, my God, what happened...?

Once they found a quiet spot by the pool, which was blessedly empty, Donna and Jenny sat on either side of him and just held his hands. Jenny wanted to ask questions, but Donna motioned for her to be quiet and let her father tell it in his own time. Which he told a lot sooner than she was expecting, given how unnatural it was for the Doctor to be quiet.

Oh, he'd been rather quiet since the Library, but he'd been talking about all sorts of of nonsense. To keep from talking about whatever had happened while they were separated. And possibly to put off the inevitable talk he would have with Lee. Donna wasn't sure.

His normal actions reminded her vaguely of River's comments about how her father taught her about speaking without saying anything. Why did that make her so uncomfortable...? Or was it just his uncharacteristic stillness...?

She worried that his experience on the Crusader would irrevocably harm his opinion of humans. Jenny wanted to know, “How could anyone do that? How could anyone be so cruel?”

Donna had the answer. “It's the ugly truth about humanity, and perhaps about all sorts of people. All of the potential for good actions has a flip side of also being the potential for equally bad actions. One person can sometimes cause unbearable pain to others without any guilt, and sometimes a person could be the hero who saves the day. Or the planet,” she added with a tiny smile at the Doctor, hoping to remind him of how he'd praised her for her actions against the Sontarans.

He didn't seem to register her words, which showed just how far into the darkest corners of his mind he had slipped. Jenny tried to pull him back with intellectual speculation. “Do you know what it was?”

If Donna hadn't been thinking that herself, she would have slapped Jenny on the arm for asking. But it probably had to be voiced. Just to get it over with.

He took a deep breath. If his hands weren't in near death grips by his girls, he would use them to rest his head. “No idea,' he whispered.

“Do you think it's still out there?” Jenny's whispered question showed the extent of her horror. The soldier in her know how to react against most threats, but one that wasn't even corporal? That could possess anyone it wanted? That scared her...

When he could only nod, Donna had to comment, “Well, you've got to warn them. This lot.” Her concern grew as he only managed a few lines about letting this planet rotate in silence, but she sensed that he was thinking a bit about the consequences of this day – which meant that he was still in there, and remembered all that she had taught him. One thought came to mind, and she hoped she wasn't making a mistake in saying it: “Can't imagine you without a voice.”

He turned his gaze to look at Donna, and managed a real smile. I'm so grateful this amazing human came into my life, with boundless compassion and who doesn't judge me. Oh, Donna, I'm gonna miss you so much... All he said, however, was, “Molto Bene.”

Jenny and Donna both grinned at hearing a good hint of the Doctor they both knew. But Jenny nearly ruined the mood by repeating his words. Donna tensed as she felt him tense, but all he did was turn toward his daughter and go, “Don't. Just... don't.”

She bowed her head, embarrassed. “Sorry, Dad,” she whispered back.

“L-let's go.” Lee finally spoke, voicing the thought that everyone had. Strange, Donna thought, how he can manage to speak with minimal stuttering when the situation really needs it.

Of course, they had to stop and speak with the management. Donna had to take charge and be her most forceful self; the Doctor was in no shape to intimidate anyone. It meant pretending that he was her husband, but Jenny jumped right in with her own anger. Thankfully, it hadn't taken much of their forthrightness to properly frighten the people who thought it was a brilliant idea to build a leisure palace there.

Getting back into the TARDIS couldn't come fast enough for any of them. If it hadn't been for the sluggish steps the Doctor was taking, the women might have rushed him along so fast that he would have temporarily resembled a rag doll.

Once they were in the Vortex, the Doctor walked off, mumbling about tea. Donna decided that, despite her continuing emotional turmoil, this was as good a time as any to talk with him. He needs someone to vent to, whether he realizes it or not, she believed. She waited till she was sure he was out of earshot to state her intentions.

Jenny perked up slightly. “I want to help.”

“No. I'm positive that there are things he'd rather you not know because he doesn't want to frighten you any further. Besides, he's got this tendency to say more to me than he intends to. I plan to use that to coax him out of this slump.”

The Time-Lady became oddly curious about Donna's methods. “Are you... gonna slap him?”

Donna, not expecting that idea, let out a tiny laugh. “No, not this time. He needs laughter, not pain.”

Curious, Jenny thought. “He really does try to treat you as an equal, doesn't he?”

Sniffles muffled Donna's voice slightly. “He does.”

I can hear those feelings! So close to the surface... “Mum, maybe this would be a good time to tell him about the Library-”

“No! I told you, he can't ever know! I'm just his best mate. It's all I ever can be to him!”

Jenny was shocked by the vehemence. “But don't you-”

Donna put a hand over her girl's mouth. Please, she silently prayed, listen, Dearest... I can't take this pressure. Not now. “Sweetheart, there are things your dad hasn't told you about his past, things I'm pretty sure he'd rather you never know. One of them is basically proof that I'm not meant to be anything other than a good friend to him. Just let me do my thing, Jenny.”

One thing about living with Donna Noble as your mother, you quickly learned when you couldn't win against her when she was in a state. So she nodded despite her feelings.

Seeing the young woman hurting and that her hearts only wanted good things for them, Donna pulled her into a big hug. “I appreciate the thought and the support, my love. But, as one wild Brit once said in a fit of brilliance, 'You can't always get what you want.'” She walked away before Jenny could find something else to ask about. That curiosity is so challenging to handle, but I'm truly blessed to have someone like her rooting for me... Even if she is a matchmaker-wannabe...

Jenny felt tears flowing down her face, and was startled when Lee pulled her into a hug. She turned in his embrace, and murmured, “How can they not see it? What is it going to take? I can't detect any reasons that they couldn't, so what's holding them back?”

Deeply moved by her pain, Lee stammered an explanation about how sometimes individuals have things in their past that make them blind to certain aspects of their current life. He also let her known that he suspected that guilt – for whatever reason – had a role in the situation.

It made some sense, but Jenny was too inexperienced with the universe to begin to comprehend it. “I can't stand by and watch them dance around each other and trying to not let the other know. And I don't want anyone else in their lives. There has to be something I can do!”

Lee froze in thought, and Jenny looked up. “What's the matter?”

It took him a moment, but he was able to get out, “S-some stories used to t-talk of locking c-couples in a c-closet until... th-they s-saw the l-light, s-so to speak.”

She was instantly enthralled with the idea. “Perfect! There are plenty of closets here, and surely there'll be a few on our next adventure. All I have to do is coax Dad to lend me his sonic. Ooh, that could be tricky... Better try it on board. Oh,” she added at his attempt to calm her, “I'll wait until after they finish talking; I have Mum my word, and she expects me to keep it. But once they're done-"

She stopped when she felt TARDIS touch her thoughts with a hint of negation. “What?! Surely you, Old Girl, see it! You must know something must be done!”

Yes, TARDIS answered in their heads, but you are acting in haste. All will be well very soon.

Jenny groaned. “I finally get why Dad hates it when you talk in riddles. It's bloody annoying!”

He hates it because he likes being the one talking in riddles.

Neither Jenny nor Lee had a retort to that.




Donna found him already sitting in the kitchen, the kettle steeping the tea. He knows a talk is coming, she sighs, Well, he'd better not fight me; I might be the one to blurt something unintentionally...

The Doctor had been bracing himself for the hardest conversation of his life. Answering her questions honestly – as he'd vowed before all went to hell on the last adventure – without revealing certain facts-

He flinched as TARDIS give him the mental equivalent of a Donna slap. “Oi! What was that for?!”

Okay, that's weird... “What was what for?”

He jumped at Donna's voice in the doorway. He took a few deep breaths to attempt to calm his heartbeats. “Sorry. TARDIS sounds like she's about to talk to me like I'm an idiot.”

You are one.

The flicker of anger on his face was actually comforting to Donna. “Good to see you've got all your feelings intact,” she noted quietly. “What's she telling you?”

Why conceal your feelings from her?

The Doctor groaned loudly. He turned his gaze upward. “Old Girl, you know I have to!”

Why?

The simple question threw him off completely. Why would my ship tell me to do something that has to be against this... fate Romana has planned for me? She must know what it is!

Donna could sense he was getting another telling-off. What kind of an idiot does his ship think he is, she wondered with concern, that she'll cause him additional pain after what he's been through? She looks up when it's clear that he's in a bit of shock. “Come off it, sweetheart,” she cried. “Let him be!”

TARDIS spoke to her separately. He thinks he should withhold certain things from the conversation you two are about to have. For that matter, you are also planning to withhold important things from him. You two must be honest with each other.

In light of the talk with Jenny just moments before, Donna was alarmed at the thought. “We've been through some awful things – him especially! He needs rest! Didn't you hear me with Jenny?”

I did, TARDIS answered calmly. And you're wrong.

Donna wanted to be incensed; this ship spoke as confusingly as her pilot liked to. “About what?!”

“Oi,” the Doctor interjected, not liking how flustered Donna was getting from whatever TARDIS was telling her. “What are you doing making Donna uneasy? She's needed here!”

Then let her know how much.

He gasped. “Are you telling me to do something that goes against everything that I've understood since the Time Lock?”

TARDIS' tone became scolding. Only against what you think you know.

That froze him in his seat. “What?!”

Then his ship went absolutely smug. Romana created the Belt to prevent you from becoming too attached to the wrong women. But it was meant to not interfere or influence where the right one was concerned. And then she went silent, letting him figure it all out.

The biggest implication of that sentence escaped the Doctor... At first. Then, his mind barely put together into a coherent thought, she... saw... The possibility hit him with the force of an imminent regeneration, which choked his breath off – and he needed air desperately.

“Doctor!” Donna rushed over to his side, seeing what looked like a panic attack brewing. What did his ship say to him to trigger this?! Is she mad at him? Not sure what else to do for a Time-Lord version of a very human condition, Donna placed her palms on his chest and upper back – over the space right in-between what she hoped were his lungs. “Breathe, Doctor. Make my hands move with your breath.”

Her voice reached him despite the violently jumbled mess in his head. And his lungs started working again – though each breath was a struggle to draw in.

After a few moments, he'd recovered enough physically that Donna felt okay to remove her hands. She quickly pulled a chair over and sat next to him. “What did your ship do to you?”

Torment me with the thought that my wishes might be within reach, he thought. But maybe, just maybe, your compassion will keep you from lashing out at if I'm wrong about what she meant... “Donna?”

“Yes?” Must keep him talking, she felt.

He barely managed to clear his throat. “Please bear with me. The very thought of this... makes me more nervous than the last time I faced the Master.”

Having heard that unpleasant story, Donna felt even more concerned. “Sounds very serious if it worries you more than being turned into a really old man and not knowing if Martha would be successful...”

The fear in her eyes – for him, not of him, he understood – drove him to hold her hands before he was even aware he'd done it. Well, in for a pound, in for a tonne, he decided – even thought his hearts felt like they were trying to claw their way up his throat. “And, despite what my ship is telling me, I'm not sure how you'll react to what I'm going to say.”

Donna decided to risk a dangerous question. “Does it include what you experienced at the... Library?”

His throat tightened at the mention, but she was right. So he nodded slowly.

She clears her throat, trying to send her own heart back into her chest. “She was telling me to tell you about my experiences... inside the computer.”

He frowned as something occurred to him. “Neither you nor Jenny has said much about what happened to you.”

Donna nods, uncomfortably. “That was my doing. I-I wasn't sure you would be easy knowing about it, based on some of the things you said about past companions.”

Oh, Rassilon, what happened to her?! “It made you question whether I'd want you to stay?!”

She swallowed, knowing her inability to speak would answer his question. That should get some reaction from him...

It draws a torrent of words from his mouth. “Oh, Donna, I wish you could see you as I do. No one else has ever shown so much compassion for others, regardless of their race. No one has so much fervor for protecting others, for trying to save people. No one else has challenged me into becoming a better person and even made me want to be a better person. No one else would have been able to change my mind so many times.”

Donna ducked her head, unable to meet his eyes for fear that even this rubbish-with-feelings alien might see enough to piece things together.

But he had to see her eyes, even if she saw too much in his. He tried letting go of one of her hands, but she had a near death grip on them. Trying to comfort me, he wondered, or herself? “Donna, please look at me.”

She wanted to shake her head, but she couldn't resist the impassioned plea. So she steeled herself, looked up... and gasped at the intensity of his expression. For the first time, she couldn't read his emotions at all. Although something about them were tugging at her heart.

“It bothers me whenever you put yourself down, don't believe that you're magnificent. I could go through all of the things that make you amazing to me, that make you important, but you lived them. It might be insulting your intelligence to list things right now. Which means I have to talk about something I try hard not to: my feelings...” He trailed off, needing to draw a deep breath to carry on.

Her breath hitches. Oh, my God, she thought, this could get ugly for me...

“Time-Lords... We're supposed to keep from getting too attached to anything or anyone – even our own families. Oh, that doesn't stop us from caring deeply for our children, and sometimes our spouses. But aside from my children and grandchildren, I was only so fond of my family.” Except my mother, but that's a story for later... “I've been a restless soul for as long as I can remember. I hated going to the Academy, hated the roles I was forced into, and often resented what felt like the narrow-mindedness of my own people.”

“So you started running,” Donna whispered, after he was silent – except for a few deep breaths – for a long moment. It was taking every ounce of strength to keep remotely, outwardly calm.

“I mean, I missed them once they were gone, but I always felt like an outsider. I don't know what it says about me that I'm more comfortable with people of other races than with my own. Romana was the only exception.”

Donna felt her heart tightening at the mention of the Time-Lady who belted him. I certainly couldn't hope for a return when he was plainly in love with her...

The Doctor noted that her control seemed to increase with the mention, but he wasn't in any shape to figure it out. “Before you, only two companions gained my trust to a point where I felt at all comfortable sharing the personal aspects of my past. Romana was one, and Sarah Jane was the other. But even with them, I was holding back. Not with you. I have trouble stopping myself from sharing with you. You inspired trust from early on, and I've always wanted to make everyone who ever made you doubt yourself pay for their cruelty.”

“Oi,” she had to interject, finding something to speak of that's as far removed from their key topic as possible. “You don't count my mother among them, do you? I'm the only one of us who has the right to complain about her!”

He frowned. “You have no idea how much I had to restrain my tongue that last time.” His voice was surprisingly calm for the circumstances, but – strangely – holding back anger gave him a form of clarity. “If she hadn't bonded with Jenny, I doubt even you could've stopped me from snapping at her.”

Protective prawn, she thought with a smile. “I don't need defending, Spaceman.”

He clutched her hands more tightly. “But I can't help it. Soon after meeting you, I wanted to show you the universe, to give you every opportunity to see how special you are, and how much of a difference you could make. It hurt that you said no, that you were afraid of me. Retrieving your dog was an attempt to ease your fears. I was hoping – in vain, obviously – that you'd change your mind.”

Donna was stunned. He doesn't sound like he'd normally go to all that trouble...

“But you left me with a valuable gift. See, I was in the worst state of my life when we met. I was beating myself up over what happened with Rose, and feeling doomed to be alone. What good Rose had done by being around – youthful energy and sharing my excitement over going off on adventures being chief among them – was fading quickly. Then you burst into my life, leaving me with no time to ponder my mistakes. You got through to me when my inner darkness threatened to take over completely. You saved my life, gave me hope, and the motivation to go on.”

She blushed fiercely, trying to not think about how that could be taken. Can't get my hopes up...

He carried on, a smile on his face and in his voice. “You won't let me get away with anything, you challenge beliefs I've held as true since I was a boy, and have reminded me of the importance of the little things in life. There's never been anyone like you, Donna, and I don't think anyone else would've been able to make me see Jenny for what she is: my daughter. I could have lost so much without you and your insistence on handling things like humans do. I'd be forever grateful just for that.”

Donna tensed. Every instinct was telling her that something was coming that she wouldn't like, but she forced herself to stay put. “Well, um, you're welcome.” Oh, how trite, she thought.

Sensing his ship readying to send another slap, the Doctor pushed on. “But I get scared a lot around you.” Seeing her surprise, he quickly added, “I've never felt so much fear for a companion's life as whenever we're in danger. I desperately want to keep you safe, and then I often want to be the recipient of your smiles. I hadn't thought it possible, with me wearing that damned belt, but...”

He choked on the words, and Donna's worries grew exponentially. “But what...?”

Now he could barely hold her gaze. “When I saw your face on that Node, I realized that I was cursing Romana for preventing me from pursuing what I wanted: a life with the woman I'd fallen for.”

She froze completely. For the first time in her life, Donna's mind was incapable of thought.

Near panic, he blurted out his thoughts, words coming as rapidly as they'd ever come from his mouth. “I know it goes against what we agreed to after the Adipose incident, but I didn't realize it until I thought it was too late. And then River Song knew my name, something that only my wife should be able to know, and that made me feel sick. I didn't want to father any more children if you couldn't be the mother, so I was ready to give my life to save you and Jenny. The other 4,000 people were incidental. Only you two mattered. Then River gave hers, but not before saying that she was my daughter. I... then felt more depressed, because I had no reason to think you might be the one that TARDIS would give the key to-”

A loud gasp escaped Donna as a memory from earlier clicked. (TARDIS would never admit to nudging her with a prompt.) She found the strength to pull away, knocking her chair over, and rush to her room.

Finally getting what it meant to have the living daylights scared out of you, the Doctor ran after her, shouting her name. TARDIS, he silently screamed, there will be hell to pay if I can't convince her to stay!

His ship didn't bother to answer him. Or even acknowledge that he spoke.

In the quickest run to her room (TARDIS moved things around again), Donna burst inside and rushed to her bedside. Looking at the spot her memory showed her.

The Doctor was right behind her, but stopped in the doorway, winded. “Donna, please. I'll never say anything again if you-”

“Oh, my God.” The whisper stopped his words. All Donna could do was reach out to her nightstand, gently pick up the object, and turn slowly to show it.

His eyes widened and jaw dropped as he saw a key with Gallifreyan symbols. A note was attached, forming the English phrase, “Unlock your future, Donna Noble.”


Chapter 14: Romana's Selfless Gift

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
missdoctordonna
May. 21st, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
Well now, leaving me there is just cruel. I hope the next chapter comes sooner rather than later.
tkel_paris
Oct. 4th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Did you really expect me to NOT cut it off there? ;D It was the perfect cliffie!
Carolyn Harrison
Apr. 3rd, 2015 01:01 pm (UTC)
Why wouldn't the Doctor want to tell off Sylvia? She has to be number 1 on who he'd like to tell off! She's the main reason Donna can't see how wonderful and brilliant she is! The Doctor is no better. He knows that he's smart, and powerful, but he doesn't seem to think that he can be worthy of having Donna love him.

LOVED the way you had the TARDIS talking to them, and nudging them in this chapter.

Is there a story where Jenny, or anyone really do lock them in a cupboard until they admit their feelings for each other? I can picture Jack or Mickey and Martha wanting to do it to them as well.
tkel_paris
Apr. 6th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC)
He doesn't always feel like he's done much better than her where Donna is concerned, and doesn't know how to make it better.

cassikat did once, although it was a media room. Not sure if she posted that chapter on LJ under kittyscribbles, but it is up on Fanfiction.net under her story "One Decision Changes Everything". And Jenny and Jack and Martha did sort of contemplate it in my story "Shakespearean Cupids".
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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