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Shakespearean Cupids, Chapter 6

Title: Shakespearean Cupids

Rating: T for emotional angst, innuendo, and Jack-style machinations

Summary: When two people are reminiscent of a Shakespearean couple, friends and family are liable to borrow from the Bard himself to bring them together. 

Disclaimer: I don't have the money to go see the awesomeness of David Tennent and Catherine Tate in a Much Ado About Nothing production – let alone own anything related to Who aside from a Disappearing TARDIS mug. And one pair of Converse - that I started breaking in on May 16th...

Author's Note: My beta found some things that needed work, but I think the extra work was worth it! There's still a lot of darkness ahead, but I think you'll notice some light already appearing...

 


CHAPTER SIX: O DAY UNTOWARDLY TURNED!

From Chapter 5:

The Doctor opened his mouth to silence the Node, but one of the closed doors burst open and six people in spacesuits entered the room. The shock of seeing others in the silent Library rendered the trio speechless.

Until one of the newcomers walked straight to the Doctor, switching their visor to transparent. A blond female face smiled at the Doctor. “Hello sweetie,” she calmly said.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Donna and Jenny had the same thought, in the same shocked, angry tone:
Excuse me?!

The Doctor – on the other hand – had reached the end of his (admittedly limited) patience, and had no compunction about expressing it. The strange woman was only making him more tense. “Get out!”

Donna – despite her feelings – thought it was a weird time for her to consider manners, but she did. “Doctor,” she said, trying to communicate caution as her free hand gently touched his arm.

But he wasn't listening, even though his skin tingled underneath the cloth between it and Donna's hand; his protective instincts were all flaring wildly, and these people had gotten in the way of their escape. He couldn't help but snap at them. “All of you, turn around, get back in your rocket and fly away! Tell your grandchildren you came to the Library and lived, they won't believe you.”

Ah, Doctor, River Song thought with a smile, always in a snit until you learn what's going on. Although why he was so snappish here, she wasn't sure. “Pop your helmets, everyone,” she told the others. “We've got breathers.”

The others did, and one, a pretty dark-skinned lady, asked, “How do you know they're not androids?”

The retort came easily. “Cos I've dated androids. They're rubbish.”

“What are you,” Jenny interjected, feeling her hackles rise rapidly as her eyes – having taken stock of each person who entered – fixed on the woman who was looking rather too intensely at her Dad, “a female version of Jack Harkness?!”

Before her parents could react, or the blond do more than look puzzled, the oldest man angrily demanded, “Who are they?! You said we were the only expedition, I paid for exclusives.”

River would've shrugged, but the spacesuit prevented it. “I lied, I'm always lying. Bound to be others.”

The man nearly growled, but merely snapped at the third woman in the party, “Miss Evangelista, I want to see the contracts.”

Turning to the Doctor, River inquired, “You came through the north door, yeah? How was that, much damage?”

The Doctor was getting impatient. “Please, just leave. I'm asking you seriously and properly, just lea...” Then the man's words kicked in. “Hang on. Did you say expedition?”

The man testily replied, “My expedition, I funded it.”

A loud groan escaped the Doctor, and – if he hadn't had a hold on Donna and Jenny – he would have face-palmed himself. “Oh, you're not, are you? Tell me you're not archaeologists.”

I think I remember hearing something about this, River thought, but who are these women he's so protective over...? All she said, with a continued smile, was, “Got a problem with archaeologists?”

The Doctor wanted to laugh at her, but Donna's influence kept him from doing more than snapping, “I'm a time traveler. I point and laugh at archaeologists.”

River wanted to laugh, but suppressed it. He must have a reason for acting like this, and the women must be from a painful time in his life that he just doesn't talk about... “Ah. Professor River Song, archaeologist,” she said, more for the benefit of his companions.

“River Song,” he mused, off-handed, “lovely name. As you're leaving, and you're leaving now... you need to set up a quarantine beacon. Code-wall the planet, the whole planet. Nobody comes here, not ever again... not one living thing, not here, not ever.”

Jenny was watching the people around Professor Song, and noticed that one was walking toward the shadows. “Stop! What's your name?”

The lovely dark-skinned woman answered, tentatively, “Anita.”

The Doctor took over, silently thanking Jenny for paying attention. “Anita, stay out of the shadows. Not a foot, not a finger in the shadows till you're safely back in your ship. Goes for all of you. Stay in the light. Find a nice, bright spot and just stand. If you understand me, look very, very scared.”

No one managed to look scared enough to Jenny's eyes. River's smiling reaction, though? Her hands itched to move against that woman's cheeks. “Come on, a bit more scared than that!”

The woman who was called Miss Evanglista started to look a bit scared, which made the Doctor sigh reluctantly. “OK, do for now. You,” he called to one man, “who are you?”

“Uh,” the man stammered, “Dave.”

The Doctor sighed. This was going to be headache-inducing. “OK, Dave...”

“Oh,” he started, trying to explain, “well Other Dave, because that's Proper Dave the pilot, he was the first Dave, so when we...”

Except the Doctor was in no mood for anything that caused delays. People could explain while they were doing. “Other Dave,” he interrupted, pulling him back toward their entrance – despite not wanting to lose physical contact with his girls, “the way you came, does it look the same as before?”

Other Dave looked confused. “Yeah.” Then he started looking nervous. “Oh, it's a bit darker.”

Please, Rassilon, the Doctor prayed, don't let us be surrounded by idiots this time. “How much darker?”

“Oh, like I could see where we came through just like a moment ago. I can't now.” With those words, Anita and the man who was apparently Proper Dave both looked really uneasy. Miss Evangelista seemed unclear about what was happening, and the other man remained fuming. River continued with her odd smile.

The Doctor sighed. Great, he thought, now I have this whole lot to protect as well... “Seal up this door,” he ordered, walking back toward the rest. “We'll find another way out.”

“We're not looking for a way out,” snapped the man who apparently funded the group. “Miss Evangelista?”

The young woman who looked the most scared, who made Jenny and Donna want to protect her just because of the look in her eyes, walked up – a bit timidly. “I'm Mr. Lux's personal... everything. You need to sign these contracts agreeing that your individual experience inside the Library are the intellectual property of the Felman Lux Corporation.”

I hate people who insist on secrecy as much as villains, the Doctor thought. “Right,” he all but growled, reaching his hand out and hoping Donna and Jenny could read his tone, “give it here.”

For the first time since just before danger appeared, Donna and Jenny found genuine smirks. “Yeah, lovely,” Donna said for her and Jenny as they took the contracts. “Thanks.” And as one, the trio tore the contracts to shreds. 

Mr. Lux was ready to have an ulcer. “My family built this Library,” he nearly shouted. “I have rights.”

River needed to get things moving. “You have a mouth that won't stop.”

Jenny instantly snorted. “Pot, meet Kettle.” Before anyone – including River – could do anything except stare in surprise at her, she snapped, voice dripping with all the sarcasm she'd learned from both of her parents, “Something came to this Library and killed everything in it, killed a whole world. There are shadows that move here – after 100 years of silence. You gonna bet your life?”

River looked back at the Doctor with a smile. “Always.”

Jenny stepped in-between them and snapped her fingers in front of River's face. “Eyes on me, Slapper!”

River recoiled slightly. Who is she?!

The Doctor wondered what was triggering Jenny to react in such a negative way. Donna, however, was more concerned by how sick the looks Professor Song was giving the Doctor made her feel... and how much she wanted to slap the woman!

Mr. Lux had turned and noticed Other Dave following the Doctor's instructions. He blurted, shocked, “What are you doing?”

Other Dave, himself stunned, would have shrugged if the suit allowed it. “He said seal the door.” His tone said how it seemed like the smart thing to do.

Finally, the Doctor thought in relief, someone who can follow orders! “Torch!” He didn't bother to wait. He just grabbed the one from Mr. Lux, not caring if he pissed the man off further.

Mr. Lux sputtered, “You're taking orders from him?

“Spooky, isn't it?” The Doctor, now knowing what Donna had meant when she'd described someone landing on someone else's 'shit list' – a phrase she'd apparently learned from a childhood friend who was an exchange student in the United States – and realizing that he'd always had one even if he'd never put a name to it, walked to the other side of the room to use the torch to help with detection. “Almost every species in the universe has an irrational fear of the dark,” he commented, mostly to Jenny who followed a bit behind him. “But they're wrong. Cos it's not irrational. It's Vashta Nerada.”

Jenny instantly asked, “What's Vashta Nerada?” And why are you speaking like its some collective thing?

He sighed heavily. “It's what's in the dark. It's what's always in the dark.” Walking back, his mind worked quickly to figure out the next step. “Lights! That's what we need, lights. You got lights?”

“What for?” River had never heard of the Vashta Nerada, and wondered why they had him so nervous.

He didn't bother to answer the clearly unspoken question; something about the way she was looking at him gave him the creeps. “Form a circle,” he ordered, not caring who anyone thought he was talking to, “safe area, big as you can, lights pointing out.”

“Oi!” Always giving orders, River thought, and not realizing that some won't always follow. “Do as he says.” At least I can help make things happen.

Mr. Lux snapped, “You're not listening to this man?!”

“Apparently, I am.” I always have, River thought, but whether I follow is another matter. “Anita, unpack the lights. Other Dave, make sure the door's secure, then help Anita. Mr. Lux, put your helmet back on, block the visor. Proper Dave, find an active terminal. I want you to access the Library database, see what you can find about what happened here a hundred years ago. Pretty Boy,” she called to the Doctor as she walked to another terminal, “you're with me. Step into my office.”

Jenny saw red over the obvious nickname. She leaned quickly into Donna, whispering, “Keep him near you. Whatever it takes!”

Donna had leaned forward against a console, needing the support to handle the sudden wave of... something... that overwhelmed her over the nickname. Oh, bloody hell... I wouldn't be feeling this way if I'd been imagining things that day I overheard... And in that moment, all of Donna's pretense that she didn't return the Doctor's feelings shattered completely...

Mr. Lux, although he followed the helmet part, demanded, “Professor Song, why am I the only one wearing my helmet?”

River's answer was pure cheekiness. “I don't fancy you.”

Yeah, Donna thought testily, I can tell who you do... So who are you?! It was clear that the Doctor didn't know who she was, which – if she hadn't been leaning against a terminal – would've brought Donna to her knees in relief. Spaceman's panicked when he thought I'd step into that shadow, she remembered. I guess Jack and Sarah Jane were right about one thing: his feelings run deeper than friendship...

The thought made her shiver. Oh, but what do I do...? Is he even ready for someone he travels with to want him...?

Focused on the setting up, the Doctor didn't notice Jenny walking over to River. Although he did see Donna leaning, as if a bit tired. I'll help her as soon as we're all set. “Probably I can help you,” he said to Proper Dave, walking to meet him.

Glancing up, River saw that the blonde girl was approaching. She frowned. “Pretty Boy, with me I said.”

His head whipped to stare wide-eyed at Professor Song. What?! He blinked as the words sunk in, making him cringe from what was starting to look like more unwanted attention. “Oh,” the Doctor muttered in disbelief once he realized that he had heard those words, “I'm Pretty Boy?” That sounds weird...

Donna couldn't suppress a smile over his obvious confusion, and it grew as his disgust became clear. Oblivious alien... Thank God he's not impressed with her! Unfortunately for the calm she was recovering, her emotions were so turbulent that she couldn't quite hold her tongue. “Yes,” she whispered, “although it's an major understatement.” Then she flinched, looking down quickly as she realized what she'd said. “Ooh, that came out a bit quick!” Blimey, you and your big mouth messed everything up! Again!

The Doctor nearly got whiplash from his eyes needing to see Donna's face. His breath caught in his throat, nearly activating his respiratory bypass. By Rassilon, does that mean...? Despite the danger, he couldn't help but reach for her, grabbing her attention. “Does that,” he asked in a very low voice, “mean that you longer see me as a skinny streak of nothing?” Even though he was no closer to feeling worthy of her than he was before he'd read that damned sonnet, he suddenly craved confirmation – from her own lips – that she, despite the declaration all those months ago about “not having any of that nonsense,” now found him desirable.

Donna blushed profusely. And couldn't find her voice. Oh, God, she thought, give me patience!

“Don't let your shadows cross!” Jenny snapped instructions, basing them off everything that she'd sensed from her father when he was scanning with the torch. “I mean it, don't even let them touch. Any of them could be infected.”

The Doctor, although he couldn't let Donna's arm go, was stunned to realize that he was giving off more signals, more information than he'd thought possible. Haven't had to shield myself against another Gallifreyan in too long, he slowly realized – as his brain felt addled by seeing Donna's eyes practically sing of intense, romantic feelings. For me!

And that scared him...

Other Dave looked at Jenny askance. “How can a shadow be infected?”

I don't know, Jenny thought impatiently, but I won't be the one who opens that can of worms; Dad will.

Donna couldn't pull her eyes away from her Spaceman's; they spoke to her of feelings that ran so deep that even he couldn't see bottom. No wonder he's afraid to act on them... He's probably never felt this way before...

“Excuse me,” Miss Evangelista asked, being the only one not doing anything, “can I help?”

“No,” Anita answered, rather fast, “we're fine.”

Donna, overhearing, somehow found the strength to pull away to try to talk them into giving the poor girl a task. I need a distraction to get my bearings again... I need to get them again; I don't know if I've got what it takes to handle this! There's so much he doesn't know about me...

The Doctor felt the loss of touch contact keenly, and couldn't stop himself from following. Donna's as scared of this as I am, he realized with a start. It made his chest feel millions of tonnes heavier to realize that the woman who'd completely captured his hearts thought so little of herself, her worth. Thank Rassilon she has no idea how many trucks of baggage I'm carrying; she might run away if she did... and I wouldn't blame her...

Across the room, River looked up again when she sensed that the blonde was still approaching – rather measured steps, she noted – and opened her mouth to call for the Doctor again. But she saw the look he was giving the ginger he was following – on both counts like an adoring puppy, and it chilled her to her bones. He never, in all the adventures together, looked at me with that much emotion... For all the wibbly-wobbly, timey-whimey nature of her relationship with the Doctor as she knew him, River Song had never imagined that she would actually see proof that she was never the most important woman ever to him... At least, not in his more recent years...

Jenny stopped a few feet from River, and had to keep her hands by her hips. “Who are you?”

The loudness interrupted everything else in the room, especially River's own musings. Mind you, she found herself a bit grateful for the disruption. “I introduced myself. I know you are a companion to the Doctor, but I don't know your name.”

Deliberately speaking loudly, Jenny thought on her feet. “I'm the Soldier. I'm the Doctor's eyes and ears for averting war.” I don't want her to know my real name... She motioned with her head. “And that's the Manager. She puts together the little details that solve our problems, and keeps him and myself out of trouble.”

These heightened emotions have to be why I'm grinning over that, Donna thought. But I kinda like my Time-Lady name...

She didn't know that the Doctor thought it very fitting. Although, he wondered, what drove Jenny to pull a Me and make a cover story up on the spot...?

“If you're looking for help,” Jenny continued, sharply, “I'm it.” She glared and folded her arms, daring the strange woman to challenge her.

Miss Evangelista tried again, not liking the tension and just needing something to do. “I could just... you know, hold things.”

“No,” Other Dave insisted, “really, we're OK.”

Donna stepped nearby. “Couldn't she help?”

Other Dave shook his head. “Trust me. I just spent four days on a ship with that woman. She's...”

Anita smiled indulgently. “Couldn't tell the difference between the escape pod and the bathroom. We had to go back for her. Twice.”

Neither Donna nor the Doctor liked hearing someone being mistreated. Even if they weren't the brightest light in the room.

Sighing and needing a distraction, River knelt and pulled things out of her bag. Including her journal.

Jenny's eyes widened when she saw a book shaped like the TARDIS in Professor Song's hands. “What the hell is that?!”

River sighed again. “You find out soon enough, I suppose. But I need to speak with the Doctor.”

“I'll be the judge of that,” Jenny retorted. She wanted this one to cross over to her father. “You really think any of us are eager to talk with you? Whatever you have to say to him, you'd better be willing to say it out loud. You act like you know him, but I've never heard of you. And I've read through all his information on his time-travel adventures.”

River's eyes widened. He never made that offer to me! Still, she cleared her throat. “Don't you think that he should make the choice?”

The Doctor sighed loudly. My little girl needs to cool off. “At ease, Soldier,” he called out, giving Jenny a warning while communicating his acceptance of her cover story. “I'm coming over. You be quiet until then.” I don't need her adding to my problems right now...

Jenny squawked in protest, thoroughly offended. But she heard the business voice that said, Don't challenge me; we're in a time crunch. So she crossed her arms more tightly, containing herself until he came over. I can't believe you, Dad!

River felt a bit of relief, but it didn't last long given how the Doctor clearly didn't like leaving the Manager's side. So who is this woman who so completely holds his attention...?

Donna felt her chest clench over the thought of him near this stranger. And, she thought desperately, I don't want her touching you – ever! She risked looking up into his eyes, touching his left arm tenderly. “I don't trust this Professor,” she whispered ever so quietly.

Oh, Donna... The Doctor felt his hearts shatter a bit over the blatant insecurities in her eyes, and finally understood what humans meant when they talked of their insides turning into jelly. He managed a tiny smile, just for her. Leaning in, he whispered into her ear as he reached for her free hand, “Neither do I. Come with me?” I wish I knew how to help you let go without risking ruining everything we've built... But keeping you right at my side is the only thing I can think of to soothe your fears...

This might be a mistake... But Donna couldn't not go with him; her heart rebelled so violently at the idea of letting him face the professor on his own, and she vaguely worried about Jenny's tense demeanor toward the woman. So she steeled herself for another difficult moment and nodded, taking his hand with a gentle squeeze and letting him lead her away - toward the woman who'd destroyed her equilibrium completely with a few words and some looks...

That she agreed without an argument made him infinitely relieved. He'd planned to deal with the conflicting emotions of excitement and nervousness later. But that tiny squeeze did delightful things to his hearts...

One thing became clear to Donna as they approached River and Jenny. Regardless of what might happen, she thought with growing conviction, whoever this woman thinks she is to him, right now he's my Spaceman...! And I'm going to stay right at his side to make sure that she keeps her mitts off of him! I might not be able to give him what he needs, but I just know she'd be horrible for him!

Although feeling him tremble over her squeezing his hand drew a tiny grin from her. Score one for Earthgirl, a part of her silently crowed.

River felt her chest collapsing as she watched the Doctor keep the Manager's hand in his, practically proclaiming silently that this woman was his. He was never that possessive with me... Hand-holding? We only ever linked arms! He's more emotionally intimate with her than he ever was with me...

When the Doctor and Donna came right up to Jenny, he stopped them, keeping his other hand free to grab Jenny if need be. “Whatever you have to say to me, Professor,” he declared quietly, “you can say in front of my ladies here – or not at all.” Well, girls was the word he'd typically use, but he knew better than to provoke them; Jenny was already too angry, and he didn't want Donna mad at him.

“Huh,” River muttered with a forced lightness, “life with a time traveler, never knew it could be such hard work.” She sighed. “I first wanted to say thanks.”

“For what?” Jenny didn't care how harsh her voice was, or how far it traveled.

The Doctor decided he wouldn't bother trying to convince Jenny to calm. Yet. He hoped that Donna could help with that, and that maybe her own budding awareness of her own feelings would be calmed by his continued hand-holding.

Not sure how much I should tell the young woman, River thought as she assessed the stance and manners. Or the ginger. “The usual,” she settled on. They're clearly people he trusts implicitly. “For coming when I call.”

Jenny's eyes turned colder than the Ood planet.”So that was you that sent the message bringing us to this dangerous place?!” Mum and Dad are gonna have to keep me from killing her...

Donna groaned. “We were gonna be at a beach until that bloody message came through!” Though I would've had to wear a one-piece. Not sure I want him seeing too much of my body... Just like if he knew how damaged I am, he might lose interest if he saw how imperfect my body is...

If she had any telepathic ability, she would've blushed over the Doctor's sudden memory of how he'd half hoped for the visual stimulation of seeing her in a bikini... Never mind his secret fantasy of putting sunscreen all over her...

And he was blushing wildly, having to clamp down on his reactions. Not the place or time, he silently shouted at his body. Not now!

And fiercely protective of him, River also noted – even as she spotted the blush that spread over the Doctor's face. I suppose, she decided with a grim determination, I'll like them once they relax around me. She refused to think about what she'd do if they didn't. “Listen,” she said to the women, “I do know the Doctor – although he's doing a very good job, acting like he doesn't know me. I'm assuming there's a reason, including for why you don't know who I am. Or my not knowing who either of you are.”

“A fairly good one, actually,” the Doctor retorted, wondering what the woman thought he would see in her. Although he kept silent, wondering what the woman would claim.

River chose to ignore that comment. Got to push things along... “OK, shall we do diaries, then? Where are we this time? Uh, going by your face, I'd say it's early days for you.”

The Doctor, sensing the tension radiating from both of his girls, had to interrupt. “Hang on, are you saying you're from my future and our time-lines are running in opposite directions?”

Jenny nearly scowled. “That happens?!” God, the very idea gives me a headache! Especially with her involved!

He just managed a shrug, and glanced at Jenny. “One-offs, sometimes two-offs,” he explained. I'll tell them about Sally Sparrow later... To the mystery woman, he said, “And you're acting like this has happened for some time, but I... don't know who you are.”

“Blimey,” River thought out loud as her mind took a desperate turn, “very early days, then.” She looked harder at his face, and her eyes widened. “Look at you! You're young,” she whispered.

Donna, for all the tension she felt in her chest, couldn't help but laugh at the non-sequitor. “He's really not, you know.” And you must not know much about him to say that!

“Nah,” River admitted, “but he is.” She stared so hard at his face that – unbeknownst to her – Donna's right hand was itching to move. “Your eyes,” she noticed as she found herself unable to speak for a moment. “You're younger than I've ever seen you... Doctor,” she suddenly pleaded in a begging whisper, “please tell me you know who I am?”

Jenny actually laughed over the discomfort. “You mean you didn't notice he was completely serious when he wondered who you are? You're a very dull fool.”

Her snipping, and River's indignant response, were interrupted by the weirdest alarm anyone ever heard. “Sorry,” Proper Dave called out, “that was me. Trying to get through into the security protocols, I seem to have set something off. What is that? Is that an alarm?”

Donna was the first to connect the dots made by the noise. “Doctor? Doctor, that sounds like...”

I've been on Earth long enough to recognize it! “It is. It's a phone!”

"I'm trying to call up the data core,” Proper Dave continued as the Doctor hurried up from behind, all but dragging Donna with him, “but it's not responding. Just that noise."

"But it's a phone!" Jenny was right behind them. She and her mother unconsciously shielded the Doctor from the others.

"Let me try something." The Doctor put his glasses on, noting 'ACCESS DENIED' written all over the screen. "OK, doesn't like that, let's try something else." He fiddled with the controls for a moment, and it seemed to respond. "OK,” he announced triumphantly, “here it comes."

Donna couldn't help but pat his back in congratulations. I need the contact, she realized. I shouldn't depend on it, but I feel like I'll go crazy if I don't have it...

A young girl appeared on the screen, interrupting any discussion – and calmed the jumbled thoughts the Doctor started having at the feel of Donna's hand. He greeted the image: "Hello?"

"Hello.” The girl, maybe about ten years old, was polite, but very nervous – with a very recognizable curoisity in her eyes. “Are you in my television?"

What?! The Doctor turned his head to exchange very confused looks with his girls. What does she mean?! "Well, no, I'm, I'm... sort of in space. I, I was trying to call up the data core of a triple-grid security processor."

She frowned, as if confused by his words. "Would you like to speak to my dad?"

An adult! "Dad or your mum, that'd be lovely." Maybe they could explain things to me!

Her eyes suddenly widened. "I know you! You were in my Library."

"Your Library?" The Doctor glanced at Jenny and then Donna. Each of them were silently asking the same question that he was: How was this her library?

"The Library's never been on the television before,” the girl continued, confusion sounding greater. “What have you done?"

"Ah, I...” How in Rassilon's name do I explain this to what looks like a little girl? “I just rerouted the interface..." Then the connection broke and the girl disappeared.

"What happened, who was that?" River had finally found her voice again, although it was a lot rougher with emotion than she liked.

The Doctor ignored her, but nothing he did let him get through. He forced his way back to what had been River's 'office,' glad that the woman had stepped away for a better view of the girl. Only a need to rush distracted him from the need to keep Donna with him. "I need another terminal,” he hollered, not liking this newest development. “Keep working on those lights, we need those lights!”

"You heard him, people, let there be light." River started giving orders, controlling her voice carefully. It was a good fall-back method whenever things went badly. But then books started to fly off the Library shelves.

"What's that? I didn't do that, did you do that?" The Doctor looked at Proper Dave.

"Not me," Proper Dave replied, as freaked out as anyone.

Jenny went right next to her father, and saw something on the screen that confused her. "What's CAL?" Suddenly the books stopped flying, startling everyone.

Needing something to distract her from a storm of churning emotions, Donna walked over to Miss Evangelista. "You're all right?" She placed a calming hand on the scared girl's shoulder.

“What's that? What's happening?" Poor dear is clearly stressed out, Donna thought sadly.

"I don't know," Mr. Lux hollered at her.

Donna gave him her best glare, and he backed down immediately. Still got it even when scared, she noted with grim pleasure. Then she smiled at Miss Evangelista. "Oh, thanks for... you know... offering to help with the lights."

The girl sniffled. "They don't want me,” she whispered. “They think I'm stupid, cos I'm pretty.”

Donna vividly remembered complaints her mother had described about her own youth, which she hadn't given enough credit to until she was older – and had... bloomed. "Course they don't, nobody thinks that," she reassured her.

A little shake of the head. "No, they're right though. I'm a moron, me. My dad said I have the IQ of plankton, and I was pleased."

Donna found a chuckle. The image was insane! "See, that's funny.”

Miss Evangelista was puzzled. "No... no, I, I really was pleased. Is that funny?"

Oh, God... "No, no." She patted Miss. Evangelista's shoulder. But anything else was halted; moments later, books once again flew off of the wall. She helped the girl duck.

River slouched to dodge them, shouting, "What's causing that? Is it the little girl?"

"But who is the little girl?” The Doctor ran a hand through his hair – unconsciously – and eyed his girls for their safety – equally unconsciously. “What's she got to do with this place?" He ran through his thoughts out loud. "How does the data core work? What's the principle? What's CAL?"

"Ask Mr. Lux," River Song suggested tightly standing upright as the books stopped once again.

The Doctor stormed over to Mr. Lux. "CAL,” he demanded, grabbing the man's shoulders, “what is it?”

"Sorry,” he tightly answered, slowly pushing off the hands. “You didn't sign your personal experience contracts."

Oh, what is it, the Doctor wondered in grim exasperation for what felt like the trillionth time, about me that makes people not listen?! "Mr. Lux, right now, you're in more danger than you've ever been in your whole life. And you're protecting a patent?"

You wouldn't understand, Mr. Lux thought desperately. "I'm protecting my family's pride."

"Well, funny thing, Mr. Lux,” the Doctor growled, not sure when he last felt so much irritation that Donna's method of redirecting focus seemed entirely reasonable, “I don't want to see everyone in this room dead because some idiot thinks his pride is more important."

Donna and Jenny chuckled quietly, sharing an amused look. They'd never thought anyone would get to him like Mr. Lux was.

River sighed. “Then why don't you sign his contract?” She paused, and just got three glares in response. She grimly smiled. “I didn't either. I'm getting worse than you.”

Oh, I'm through with dealing with her and her... stories. “Okay, okay, okay,” he said, redirecting the whole discussion. “Let's start at the beginning. What happened here? On the actual day, a hundred years ago, what physically happened?”

Suddenly, a door slid open. Only Jenny and Miss Evangelista noticed. Everyone else was focused on the tense interaction in the middle of the room.

River picked up the story. “There was a message from the Library. Just one. 'The lights are going out.' Then the computer sealed the planet, and there was nothing for a hundred years.” I've never been able to resist a mystery, she knew.

Mr. Lux decided that this could be admitted to; things weren't going well, after all. “It's taken three generations of my family just to decode the seals and get back in.”

Miss Evangelista timidly spoke up. “Um... excuse me...”

“Not just now,” Mr. Lux snapped.

River continued, “There was one other thing in the last message...”

Mr. Lux glared at her. “That's confidential.”

She returned the glare. “I trust this man. With my life, with everything.” Even if he's with someone else right now...

Mr. Lux's eyes boggled. “You've only just met him!”

“No,” River said, tightly controlling her tone and volume given how turbulent her feelings were, “he's only just met me.”

“Um.” Miss Evangelista tried again. “This might be important actually...”

Mr. Lux snapped again. “In a moment!”

Yeah, Jenny thought, I don't like you, either. Pick on someone your own level! Seeing Miss Evangelista walking out of the room, Jenny pulled a flashlight out and quickly followed. Not realizing that she was so quiet that her parents didn't realize what was happening. “So,” she whispered, catching the other woman's attention, “where does Professor Song fit into this?”

River pulled out a PDA. “This is a data extract that came with the message,” she said, handing it to the Doctor.

He read the message aloud: "'4022 saved. No survivors.'" What?!

River nodded. “4022, that's the exact number of people who were in the Library when the planet was sealed.”

Jenny's flashlight followed Miss Evangelista as they walked through a shadowy corridor. Please let those shadows be benign... She continued following into a lecture room, and got an equally quiet answer: “Mr. Lux needed someone to lead, someone who commanded people easily, or it couldn't happen. The Professor loves adventure, I guess.”

Donna voiced the obvious question, which she knew the Doctor was thinking. “But how can 4022 people have been saved if there were no survivors?”

River forced herself to meet Donna's gaze. “That's what we're here to find out.”

In the other room, Jenny's eyes drifted downward, and realized that Miss Evangelista was in grave danger...

“And so far,” Mr. Lux pointed out, “what we haven't found are any bodies.”

Suddenly, a feminine scream erupted from the other room.
 


Chapter 7: Eat Her Heart in the Marketplace!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
thenoblethang
Jul. 5th, 2011 05:04 am (UTC)
Gosh, I never found River this irritating before.
You have me on the edge of my seat again! Argh!! *waits with all patience I can muster*
tkel_paris
Jul. 5th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Wow... Yeah, River's still not one I like, even though this became an exercise in writing from the POV of a character I basically hate. (Not quite as much as I hate Rose, mind you...)

Not one comment about Donna's self-discovery here...? About the interplay between Spaceman and Earthgirl...? Or Jenny's reactions...?

Chapter 7 is coming... Just needs a little more work...
sczep84
Jul. 5th, 2011 09:52 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, so exciting. I'm so scared for Jenny. And I really dislike River. But I love how the Doctor keeps close to Donna. So adorable. And I love that Donna's basking in the attention and growing more self-confident. Score one for his Earthgirl, awww. THIS is how it should have happened in the show!
Can't wait for more!
tkel_paris
Jul. 5th, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
Yes! Someone commented on Donna's transformation here! As much as I didn't want to include River, I realized that Ms. Spoilers was far too useful for pushing Donna so far past the point of denial that she can't even think of reaching for it anymore. bas_math_girl loved the "score one" line, too!

Of course, it doesn't mean that she or the Doctor are quite ready to take that leap... That's going to require some more pushing...

Stay tuned! More to come... fairly soon...!
bas_math_girl
Jul. 5th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I sure did!!!
tkel_paris
Jul. 5th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
(hugs) And I'm glad for it!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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