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FIC: A Quirk of DNA (1/1)

Title: A Quirk of DNA

Rating: T (for matters regarding death and regeneration)

Author: tkel_paris

Summary: Change one little detail about Jenny's appearance, and it leads to learning why she can't hear her second heart. And Donna suspected from the start...

Dedication: cassikat. I think we were chatting in PMs when somehow this idea came up in conversation and provoked this in my Muse. :) I'm sure she'll trot out her own idea eventually. Although it took me almost two years to be able to write it...

Disclaimer: Did Donna have a good ending where you know for sure she'll be happy and brilliant? Did Ten die with support and without regrets? Are Handy or Jenny still with him/them? Then I own nothing.

Author's Note: Typical Muse... I'm trying to work on three different big stories (one of them a collaboration), and she wants to create one-shots. Mind, this is a change of pace! Usually I can't get her to keep the ideas small. Still...this was something that intrigued me. It just took another prompt to revive this one from obscurity. Thank you, bas_math_girl, for the Georgia M gif-fest link! :D And thank you, tardis_mole and morganfm for beta reading.

This marks morganfm's first time as one of my beta readers. Now I'm no longer the whippersnapper of the bunch. ;D

And one thought to all writers: When your beta sends you feedback, get to the changes – whichever ones you take – right away. Otherwise you'll forget about it and possibly resend it, making your beta wonder if they've already made some of the suggestions before. If they don't remember making them. Sorry about that, TM.

And Happy Birthday, cassikat! You're the lucky reason I'm posting a fic for 2014 – finally. From my new apartment. :DDDD


A Quirk of DNA

Started March 17, 2012
Finished August 7, 2014

The Doctor, Martha, and Donna all stared at the machine as the door opened. All three had even wider eyes when they saw what it revealed.

A young woman, no older than very early twenties and quite possibly a teenager, stepped out and looked slowly around at her surroundings. She wore clothing similar to the soldiers who had captured them, only clean and untattered. Her blue eyes took in everything, even as one soldier handed her a gun.

Donna was silent as Martha asked who the girl was, and even more silenced by the Doctor's answer: his daughter.

“Hello, Dad!” the girl chirped, cocking the gun a moment later.

But Donna's silence was due to another reason. The appearance of the girl after the Doctor's DNA had been stolen was shocking enough. More shockingly, she didn't really look like him at all. What captured Donna's attention was the girl's hair.

She even reached to bring some of her own strands into her line of sight to double-check. Yep. The color was – as far as she could tell in this lighting – identical. How the hell was that possible?! Hadn't the Doctor said he always wanted to be ginger? That meant he had never been ginger. So... why was his daughter ginger?

/=/=/=/

The Doctor had noticed the ginger hair, and it fueled his anger. This anomaly created by the machine not only resembled his Fifth incarnation, but she had got the hair he'd always wanted! It was not fair and he didn't intend to let this creature into his hearts like Donna seemed to want to. His DNA was just the fuel to create a clone. He did not want to get into why he had an instinctive hatred of clones, not and have to rehash the pain of the Time War.

So when Donna demanded his stethoscope, he gave it up – utterly confident his instincts would be confirmed.

It was therefore with some alarm that he saw Donna move the piece from the left side where a human heart would be to a bit further to the left, and then to the right. And even more when she held out the eartips and challenged him on where 'Jenny' belonged.

He listened as she moved the piece into place, Jenny watching in confused silence. What he heard made him drop the stem and step back until he hit the wall. “Two hearts,” he whispered.

To compound his misery, Donna and Jenny kept asking questions about what it meant and what it made the latter. He had to own to more about the Time War than he wanted to, and endure the indignity of this two-hearted anomaly asking how they were so different if he'd been a soldier.

Donna, bless her, saw the rising tension and sought to break it. “But how can Jenny not hear her second heart? I can't imagine even a computer's programming could prevent her from hearing that biological fact. Especially after... the excitement earlier.”

She couldn't think of a more diplomatic way of putting how they were parted from Martha. She certainly couldn't use any more inflammatory terms, not when the Doctor was already all over the place emotionally.

Jenny frowned and looked at her. “Did they take any DNA from you?”

“No! Just the Doctor.”

“Then why do you and I have the same hair colour?”

The Doctor's eyes widened, bouncing from Jenny to Donna and back again. Oh, Rassilon, how had he missed this? They had been standing right next to each other so often. He had allowed anger to blind him. “You do, Donna.”

“I noticed that, Spaceman, right away, but what are the odds?”

“So small... that there's only one explanation.” He drew out the Sonic and scanned Jenny head to toe, and then Donna.

“What's that?”

“It's his Sonic screwdriver, Jenny. He can hear differences in sonic frequency that tell him about the composition of things, and it can open doors, and lots more.”

Scanning done, the Doctor looked at the readings. His body turned cold and he had to sit down on the bunk, struggling for breath and forgetting his respiratory bypass.

Donna sat beside him, their earlier positions switched. “What is it?”

He trembled, eyes unable to leave the readings. “Jenny... has only half my DNA. She has the Gallifreyan physical structure... but she's also half Human.” His eyes slowly raised to meet hers. “She's also your daughter, Donna.”

Donna's jaw dropped and her hands slid to her sides.

Jenny blinked. “So... I have a mum and a dad after all?”

“How can I be her mother? They didn't take my DNA!”

The Doctor's eyes turned back to the healing wound where the DNA Jenny was born from was taken, and pondered that with numb eyes. “Somehow your DNA was mixed in there. The only way that could have happened... Oh...”

“What, Doctor?”

“Donna... I held your hand not long before we were captured.”

“What's holding hands?”

Jenny's innocent question startled them both, and prevented Donna asking the obvious question.

The Doctor sighed. “It looks like this.” He took Donna's left hand in his right. “Whenever there's skin to skin contact, we transfer some of our dead skin cells without any control of it. Our skin is always renewing itself, and the shedding is necessary. The dead cells usually fall off after a while by rubbing, or when we wash our hands. Now... Gallifreyan skin can hold on longer than Human skin can. I must not have rubbed my hand hard enough to remove the cells from Donna's hand. It's the only explanation that makes any sense. She was created from the DNA of your dead skin cells and the now inactive DNA from my fifth regeneration.”

“So what does that mean?” asked Jenny, not liking the sound of all this dead cell information.

Donna took a deep breath. “It means you're coming with us.”

“Donna-”

“Don't you even think about leaving her behind, you great big Outer Space Dunce! You have no blood family left, you said so. Now you do. Didn't you say that Gallifreyan DNA needs to not fall into the wrong hands? And she knows so little about life, so she needs your instruction. And what about me? I gave up any hope of having children to travel with you. I knew I wouldn't find a man to marry and have them with, so I decided to make a difference in the universe by finding you and being your friend. And now I have a daughter. Jenny may be the only child I ever have, and I'm grabbing this chance at motherhood with both hands, Spaceman!”

She finished with tears in her eyes and her voice choking slightly. Yet she fixed a hard glare on him.

The Doctor signed heavily. He didn't yet feel comfortable accepting Jenny, and yet... Could she be right that he needed a family? But his feelings didn't matter. She was Jenny's mother, and he had learned to not part a mother from her child. Jackie Tyler taught him that.

Too bad he wasn't willing to listen at the time. She had deserved better from him, someone who had lost all of his family.

/=/=/=/

After all the running and searching and bonding and hoping... he was alone again. Not completely. He still had Donna and Martha. But he was once again the last Gallifreyan. Jenny had taken a bullet meant for him, and had died.

Her body had been on display, respectfully surrounded by Humans and Hath alike, until he was asked if they could bury her. He hadn't exploded. No, he was too numb for that. But he did scoop her body into his arms and simply informed them that she was coming with him. In death she would get to go to new worlds.

Let them wonder what he meant, he thought. He would never have left her body behind, not unless he was in so much shock that he sank into denial that she even existed. And he was vaguely aware that he might have sunk into that fugue state if he hadn't been aware that Donna was also mourning a child.

Impossible to ignore when she was sobbing almost uncontrollably and had to be restrained from doing more than punching General Cobb. As it was, he felt it necessary to make a point of making sure Cobb knew that he would have been within his right to shoot him and yet he never would. He had to settle for the hollow satisfaction of seeing the warlord soil himself from fear.

Now he had to have some kind of burial or equivalent for Jenny. Donna's sensibilities demanded it.

He knew he had to take Martha home, but he couldn't look away from the funeral pier inside the chapel in the TARDIS. He was vaguely aware that Donna and Martha were behind him staring at Jenny.

Donna. She had said that she thought Jenny would be her only child. Donna was a natural mother, and Jenny had been soaking in everything she said. The questions had made him smile, and he had begun to imagine how they would work as partners to educate Jenny in life and everything. The future seemed brighter for Jenny's presence, and the light she brought to Donna had made him more keenly regret making such a fuss about how complicated things had become with Martha. He had ignored how things had been complicated with Rose, which became more apparent the longer he had Donna's mature influence around.

He wondered if he should be worried about how Sylvia Noble would react when she learned about it, not that he let on to it. Not that he typically wore his heart on his sleeve, contrary to what some of the people he encountered seemed to think. Thankfully, not these two companions. However some of Sylvia's behavior might be explained by losing other children. Donna might be her only surviving child and she felt uneasy about becoming too close to her lest she tempt fate.

In light of today he understood it. That was exactly what he was doing. So he owed Sylvia the knowledge. Perhaps it might finally help mother and daughter mend a few broken bridges, and in the process protect him from another mother's slap. Maybe. The knowledge that she had a granddaughter taken far too soon might also send her over the edge. He had no way of knowing which it would be. Or if there would be yet some other reaction.

But Wilfred Mott... That man deserved to know that he had had a great-granddaughter. Oh, the Doctor could so easily imagine how well the two would have got on. The old man would have adored her, and Jenny would have benefited so much from the influence that had done so much for Donna. He would be crushed when he found out.

“How are you, Spaceman?”

Only the sound of Donna's soft words, tempered by her own grief that she barely kept under wraps, drew him out of his thoughts. Only then did he notice that he was clutching his right hand to his chest. Like he was still holding Jenny to his hearts. He couldn't look at her.

Donna was having none of that. She gently tugged him to face her, not caring that Martha was watching. She placed her hands over his hearts. “You see that pain, in there? It doesn't mean you were wrong to let her in, it proves you were right.”

The equally soft words, spoken from a face that was ignoring the drying tears streaked over it and the tears that still fell, pulled him back into the world of the chapel room. He finally found it in him to look Donna in the eyes. The grief she was holding back nearly took away his ability to speak, but if she could give voice to what they were feeling then he owed her some words.

And yet she was putting aside her own grief to comfort him. His respect for her increased tenfold. “What do we do now?” he whispered.

She swallowed, wrapping her hands around his biceps. “We go on. We live. We remember...” She choked a little on the last word. “What else can we do?” she finished in a whisper.

Martha wiped the tears escaping from her eyes. She knew she was intruding on a private moment, but somehow she couldn't bring herself to leave them alone with their grief. Just in case they needed her.

The Doctor took a deep breath. She was right. What else could he do? He had done it before. How had he forgotten? Drawing himself to his full height, he looked to her for guidance and inspiration. “Where do you want to go?”

“After we drop off Martha, if she wants to go home now, let's find a new world. For her.”

Eyes watery, the Doctor managed a smile that Donna returned. Then he tugged her into his arms and held her tightly.

A moment later he whispered, “Donna?”

“Yeah?”

“You deserve to be a mother again.”

She drew away enough to give him a pained look. “Spaceman-”

“You were right. That part of me isn't dead. And hope is not lost for you. Do you think... maybe one day... we could be parents again? Together?”

Donna checked his face. No hint of insincerity. He meant every word.

She worked her mouth as she tried to find the words to answer him. She had never imagined having a child with her alien best friend, thought it was impossible. Now that she had seen what technology could do, and given them a child – an extraordinary nearly grown daughter – for however short a time, she couldn't help but wonder what else they could manage together.

And the Doctor so clearly needed to be a dad again. She could now picture a little version of him following them around and asking all sorts of questions. The thought drew a smile to her face. And what if they got another ginger? Donna could also imagine what a supportive father he would be, and how he would help a ginger-nut of theirs cope better than she had with the anti-ginger biases that were a fact of life in her era.

“Yes. One day.”

New tears filled his eyes even as his smile grew bigger. Another hug was inevitable, as tight as they were willing to manage.

Martha's lips twitched into the briefest of smiles. What she saw was a silent look of love in its infancy between two people who really needed it. If only they could have been a family of three.

And with them distracted it meant Martha was the one to see the golden breath released from Jenny's mouth.

THE END

Comments

( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
cannibalilly
Aug. 8th, 2014 06:54 am (UTC)
Love the idea of making Jenny half-Donna, especially because Donna is a natural mother; even in the canon EP she has been <3 I can't imagine one of the Doctor's other companions embracing Jenny like this, they'd probably see her as a rival instead *tries not to start another Donna-rules chant*
tkel_paris
Aug. 8th, 2014 07:36 am (UTC)
I take it you haven't seen my series The Noble Girl? :) And yeah... certain companions would have had a tougher time, and some... *coughs* Not going there.

Anyway, thanks. :D
(no subject) - cannibalilly - Aug. 8th, 2014 07:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 8th, 2014 08:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cannibalilly - Aug. 8th, 2014 09:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 8th, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 9th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 11th, 2014 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 11th, 2014 03:47 am (UTC) - Expand
inward_audacity
Aug. 8th, 2014 01:17 pm (UTC)
I always thought Donna was as much Jenny's parent as Ten, maybe even more so because she accepted her right away. Donna named her and loved her without a second thought. And ever made Ten accept his daughter.

Donna would be such a perfect mother.
tkel_paris
Aug. 8th, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
Amen. Which means Donna should have been seen to be mourning her, too. Emotionally she was more the parent for the majority of the time.

Double amen.
(no subject) - dm12 - Aug. 8th, 2014 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 8th, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dm12 - Aug. 8th, 2014 10:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 9th, 2014 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 9th, 2014 10:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 10th, 2014 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 11th, 2014 01:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dm12 - Aug. 10th, 2014 05:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anyagotr - Aug. 10th, 2014 06:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - inward_audacity - Aug. 9th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 9th, 2014 03:40 am (UTC) - Expand
cassikat
Aug. 8th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, I love my pressie! *squeeee!* Just the thing I needed to make this rainy, gloomy birthday of mine better! *hugs and love and stuff!*

Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

And I'm sure I'll come up with something, sometime, with this idea we came up with...eventually. When I've got stuck on a zillion other ideas. I swear, ideas are like mushrooms here - just popping up :D
tkel_paris
Aug. 8th, 2014 09:50 pm (UTC)
It's raining? *hugs* Well, and you have another fic I just posted. Never mind TM's pressie to you. :D

Let me know. I just sent you a slew of chapters with comments. :D
(no subject) - cassikat - Aug. 10th, 2014 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 11th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
alimoseby
Aug. 9th, 2014 05:13 am (UTC)
WHY DON'T I HAVE A JENNY ICON? *makes note to add Jenny icon to list of icons needing to be made*

Yes, Donna should have been Jenny's mum. And they all should have lived happily ever after, had lots of Time Tots, and... well... you get the idea. =P

Loved it.

~Ali ♥︎
tkel_paris
Aug. 9th, 2014 06:44 am (UTC)
You can always copy from my list. Just note who the original came from. Unless you can think of your own to make. ;)

(best Jack voice): Oh, I do. :D
bas_math_girl
Aug. 9th, 2014 04:42 pm (UTC)
Of course Jenny was Donna's daughter - this makes perfect sense to me. They would have been equally distressed by her death so you've given us the perfect ending with your story. :D
tkel_paris
Aug. 10th, 2014 05:38 am (UTC)
And you're to blame for one detail, you know that? ;D
anyagotr
Aug. 9th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, this story made me teary eyed, but I think that may have been the hot wings I'm eating. Yeah, that must be it!

Oh! If ONLY this had happened! And Jenny was there with them! Oh my, how wonderful they would be as parents. <3

I LOVE that Jenny had 2 parents. Donna and the Doctor.

Great work! Love it!
tkel_paris
Aug. 10th, 2014 05:39 am (UTC)
Hot wings? I'll believe you. Thousands wouldn't. ;)

She DID have two parents. She imprinted on Donna from almost the start, definitely from the moment she was named. :D
sykira
Aug. 10th, 2014 02:00 pm (UTC)
This is just…SUCH a great idea, and the timing is so perfect, how they get to have the emotional bonding of Donna telling him not to be afraid of the pain (SO CRITICAL, I still can't believe the numpties cut it!) and then the genius idea of the Doctor offering her motherhood--all that had to happen before Jenny comes back to them :) I can so see a follow up with them enjoying parenthood but both a little wistful to hold a tiny baby, and maybe the Doctor leans over and whispers that he thinks she's at the right time in her cycle, and the tips of his ears turn pink and he can't believe he is being so forward, but he just LONGS for her…yes write it! SEQUEL!
tkel_paris
Aug. 10th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)
Okay, since you gave me an idea... *puts this higher on the planning pages* :)
(no subject) - sykira - Aug. 10th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Aug. 11th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
lunatic_poet
Aug. 13th, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
This is just beautiful.

How does your list work then, the more people asking the higher the sequel goes on the list? Because I just NEED more, and it would be cruel (almost a crime) to not give me one. *pouts*

The idea behind this fic is just the loveliest I couls think of.

xx
tkel_paris
Aug. 13th, 2014 01:56 am (UTC)
*giggles* No. If enough people ask for a sequel I make a note to write one. I have a big list of stories to write, with some deadlines for them, already. So... we'll see how soon I get to this one's sequel.

And thank you. I think it's lovely, too. :)
( 43 comments — Leave a comment )

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