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Shakespearean Cupids (9/13)

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 Tennant 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: Sorry for the continued absence of Donna and the Doctor. But this part of the story demanded to finish first. Also, the parts that every reader is waiting (impatiently) for needed more work; I'm not quite happy with them, so I'm waiting for my beta to get back to me. This might just be the absolute darkest before the dawn begins to appear, but dawn won't fully break until the end...



CHAPTER NINE: TH'IDEA OF HER LIFE

In another large room in the Library, River, Anita and Mr Lux stood around, eying the shadows nearby. It was bright enough that they might have some time, but River couldn't stop thinking one thing: I wish my Sonic still worked... and that I had it with me to scan... She had to break the silence. “You know...” she said absently, voicing another thought, “it's funny, I keep wishing the Doctor was here.”

Anita seized on the reminder. “But The Soldier, the girl who now calls herself Jenny, is here, isn't she? She's coming back, right?”

Above them, Jenny entered quietly through a hidden door. She almost made herself known, but she wondered what River Song had to say about the man she apparently knew as the Doctor. I want to know what else I need to rewrite if I can...

River sighed. “You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it's from years before you knew them? It's like they're not quite... finished, they're not done yet. Well... yes, the Doctor's here. He came when I called, just like he always does. But... I can't quite remember now, but I know he's not my Doctor. Now my Doctor... I've seen whole armies turn and run away. And he'd just swagger off back to his TARDIS and open the doors with a snap of his fingers. The Doctor... in the TARDIS... next stop: everywhere.”

Jenny snorted aloud, startling all three people. “Oh, please!” Her father would have walked down the stairs, but Jenny was impatient. She jumped down the side, landing near River – and shocking the room. “Nobody can open a TARDIS by snapping their fingers.” She spoke like she imagined she'd be talking to Rose Tyler: like speaking to a dim-wit who was trying your last nerve. “It doesn't work like that.”

River sighed. “It does for the Doctor,” she stressed.

Jenny scowled. “The man I came with, the one you saw earlier, is the Doctor.”

River shrugged. “Yeah. Some day.”

Jenny couldn't stop herself any longer. Her right hand flew to River's cheek, and made loud contact – shocking Anita and Mr. Lux – the latter's stunned stare completely visible.

River stumbled backwards, barely stopping herself from landing in an shadow. When she recovered her balance, despite a flipping nasty ache in her face and head – making her wonder if she had any cracked bones, she looked at Jenny in anger. “Hey!”

But Jenny didn't let her talk. “Believe me: if I were going to put you into an infected shadow, I would've done it as soon as I recovered my wits after that... that Node. Unfortunately for me, Dad doesn't like killing and made me promise to not let anyone die. And I keep my promises to my parents.” She stalked right up to River, looking every inch the Oncoming Storm. “As for your words there... No-one is ever finished until they die. We all live in moments, and our knowledge of someone is built from all of the moments that we know of or experienced with them. Calling them 'finished' or 'unfinished' assumes a certainty about what they'll become – which not even a time-traveler can assume! Not even a Time Lord! I accept that my father will wear other faces eventually, have a different personality, but your attitude is completely insulting to all those who came before the one you apparently knew as the Doctor!”

River blinked, frozen in a daze. The idea never occurred to me...

No one else could speak, either. Jenny took advantage of that to walk over to Anita. “How are you doing?”

River managed to find her voice, voicing a different thought. “Where's Other Dave?”

Jenny briefly glared at her. “Not coming, sorry. Should've kept him with you; he might still be alive.” The words got the desired cringe out of the smug professor. River lowered her face in shame.

Anita interrupted what could've turned ugly. “Well, if they've taken him, why haven't they gotten me yet?”

Sighing, Jenny admitted, “I don't know. But you still have two shadows. Maybe tinting your visor's making a difference.” Although one seemed smaller than it was before...

“It's making a difference all right.” The heartbreak was evident. “No-one's ever going to see my face again.”

Don't cry, Jenny told herself. Not yet. Instead, she softly asked, “Can I get you anything? Do anything for you?”

“An old age would be nice,” Anita answered. “Anything you can do?”

Jenny managed a smile, hoping Anita could see it. “You know I'm all over it.”

“Soldier... Or Jenny, whatever your name is...” Anita tried to find the right words. “When we first met you and your family, you didn't trust Professor Song. Didn't believe a single word she said. And then she whispered some words in your ear, and you did. Believe her words, that is.”

Jenny tried to not frown. Not really, she thought. But there was no reason to tell Anita that.

“My life so far...” Anita's lovely voice was cracking, tugging at everyone's hearts. “I could do with a word like that, one that might make me feel I can trust completely in someone. What did she say?” She paused a moment. “Give a dead girl a break. Your secrets are safe with me.”

“Safe...” Why does that sound so important...? Jenny's brain went into overdrive, trying to put the rest of the puzzle together.

“What?” Anita sounded as baffled as River and Mr. Lux were.

“Safe.” Jenny spoke her thoughts aloud, feeling the influence of both of her parents. “You don't say saved, nobody with half a wit says saved, you say safe. The data fragment! What did it say?”

Mr. Lux promptly repeated it: "'4,022 people saved. No survivors.'"

River was already nervous about what the girl would do next, but this was frightening her. “Jenny?”

Jenny's voice went hyper as her body trembled with excitement. “Only nutters say saved, the rest of us say safe. But it didn't mean safe, it meant... it literally meant... saved!” She ran to an information terminal, and was able to draw the right data from it. “See,” she exclaimed, “there it is, right there! A hundred years ago, massive power surge, all the teleports going at once. Soon as the Vashta Nerada hit their hatching cycle, they attack. Someone hits the alarm, the computer tries to teleport everyone out.”

River gaped. “It tried to teleport 4,022 people?”

Jenny nodded, practically bouncing with new energy. “All at once. And successfully pulled 'em all out, but then what? Nowhere to send them, nowhere safe in the whole Library, Vashta Nerada growing in every shadow. 4,022 people all beamed up and nowhere to go. They're stuck in the system, waiting to be sent, like emails. So what's a computer to do? What does a computer always do?”

Despite the still fuzzy memories, despite the brimming distrust from the Doctor's Daughter, River smiled – feeling true hope for the first time since seeing his image flicker. “It saved them.”

“The Library,” Jenny marveled at the achievement, “a whole world of books, and right at the core, the biggest hard drive in history. The index to everything ever written, backup copies of every single book. The computer saved 4,022 people the only way a computer can. It saved them to the hard drive.” Her voice quieted a bit as she added, “And I'm betting it saved two more today...”

An alarm suddenly blared all around them. Mr. Lux shouted, “What is it? What's wrong?”

A male computer voice, one they hadn't heard before, spoke: “Autodestruct enabled in 20 minutes.”

River ran over to the terminal Jenny was looking at, and read the screen's new information. “What's maximum erasure?”

Oh, my God... “20 minutes,” Jenny numbly explained, “this planet's gonna crack like an egg.”

“No!” Mr. Lux exclaimed, desperately needing to be right. “No, it's all right, the doctor moon will stop it. It's programmed to protect CAL.”

Except moments later, the terminal went blank. Jenny slapped it. “No, come back!”

All Library systems are permanently offline,” the computer announced. “Sorry for any inconvenience. Shortly...”

“We need to stop this,” Mr. Lux screamed, “we've got to save CAL!” I can't let her die!

“You've never answered me or my father!” Jenny fixed a hard glare on him, crossing her arms. “What is CAL?”

I have to trust she'll keep the secret. “We need to get to the main computer,” he gave in, “I'll show you.”

Jenny gasped. “But that's at the core of the planet!”

River found her old smile. “Well, then. Let's go! Sonic that symbol on the floor, Jenny. Should be setting 249!”

She frowned, but did it – shocked when it opened to reveal a... “Gravity platform,” River proclaimed with glee.

Jenny sighed. “Maybe you were a bit of a help to him.” She stepped on and reactivated the setting that kept Skeleton Proper Dave at bay, aiming it to keep shadows from crossing. “Everyone on!”

River wisely kept silent the whole way down. His daughter might be thawing a bit, she knew, but she'd still throw me to the shadows if not for that promise she mentioned...




“Autodestruct in 15 minutes,” the computer announced as they arrived at the outside of the core.

“My God,” Jenny whispered in horror. “The Data Core! 4,024 living minds, trapped inside it!” I haven't come this far to lose everything – again!

“Yeah,” River snapped, “well they won't be living much longer, we're running out of time.”

“Help me,” they suddenly heard. “Please, help me.”

Anita asked, “What's that?”

“Was that a child?” River was horrified, vaguely remembering stories her parents told about people who tried to hurt her.

Jenny – positive she recognized the voice – went right to a terminal. “Computer's in sleep mode.” She pushed a number of keys, to no avail. She slammed a hand on the side. “I can't wake it up. Why won't it wake?”

River looked over Jenny's shoulder at the screen, and the implications hit her hard. “Jenny, these readings!”

“I know,” she answered, “you'd think it was... dreaming.”

“It is dreaming,” Mr. Lux interrupted, gently, lost a bit in a memory, “of a normal life, and a lovely Dad, and of every book ever written.”

“Computers,” Anita said, “don't dream.”

“Help me,” the little girl's voice pleaded from the terminal. “Please help me.”

“No.” Mr. Lux stepped forward. “But little girls do.” He pushed a lever, opening a door, letting them run into the next room. Three froze completely when a Node turned toward them... showing the face of the little girl Jenny remembered from that odd conversation over the screen.

“Please help me,” the little girl's face pleaded. “Please help me.”

“Oh,” River cried, “my God!” Tears formed rapidly.

“It's the little girl,” Anita whispered. “The girl we saw in the computer.”

“She's not in the computer,” Mr. Lux corrected. “In a way, she is the computer. The main command node. This is CAL.”

Jenny wheeled on him, grabbing his arms. “CAL is a child! A child hooked up to a mainframe?! Why didn't you tell us this?! We needed to know this!”

“Because she's family!” He snapped, and pulled away to stare in sad fondness at the node. “CAL... Charlotte Abigail Lux. My grandfather's youngest daughter. She was dying, so he built her a library, and put her living mind inside, with a moon to watch over her, and all of human history to pass the time, any era to live in, any book to read. She loved books more than anything. He gave her them all. He asked only that she be left in peace. A secret, not a freak show.” He approached it slowly.

Jenny felt all her previous anger toward him melt away as his actions became clearer. “So you weren't protecting a patent, you were protecting her. Your aunt.” Just as I tried to protect my parents...

“This is only half a life, of course,” he admitted, gently stroking the girl's face. “But it's for ever.”

“And then the shadows came,” Jenny noted sadly, her hearts breaking for the little girl and her family.

“Shadows,” the girl whimpered. “I have to... I have to save. Have to save...”

“And she saved them,” Jenny whispered in awe. “She saved everyone in the Library, folded them into her dreams and kept them safe.”

“Then why didn't she tell us?”

Anita's question was legitimate, Jenny knew. “Because she's forgotten. She's got over 4,000 living minds chatting away inside her head, it must be like... being... well, my Dad.” She flinched as the implications of that hit her. “And she's now got him inside her, too, so that's double trouble...”

River shuddered at the enormity of CAL's task. “So what do we do?” How can we save the day this time?

“Autodestruct in ten minutes,” the computer voice intoned.

Which drew Jenny's arms to cross again as she rapidly pondered options. One idea formed, allowing the plan forming in her head ever since she'd seen Skeleton Dave's reaction to that setting to seem doable, safe. “Okay... We have no choice but to beam all the people out of the data core, which will let the computer reset and stop the countdown. Oh,” she suddenly realized from looking at one of the readouts, “only Charlotte doesn't have enough memory space left to make the transfer.”

Oh, my God... The answer came to her, and her hearts sank. As they rebelled against the thought, part of her began to see it as the only way to fix the time-lines. To repair the damage she'd done by trying to protect her family when she didn't yet have the ability to sense time-lines... “Someone has to hook their mind up to the computer and she can borrow the person's memory space...” So this is it...

“What?!” River had a sinking feeling about what Jenny was planning; the girl was getting a fatalistic look in her eyes. One she just knew she'd seen before in the Doctor's eyes... “It'll kill you stone dead!

“You think I don't know that?!” Jenny turned and fixed a glare so fierce that River thought she'd be turned into stone. “So who could make it work? Anita can't; she's too far gone. I won't let Mr. Lux do it; he's going to be needed to help get everyone out safely. As for you? I don't see you sacrificing one bit of time with the Doctor! I see that you think you love him. Maybe you do.” The admission broke Jenny's hearts, and the rest tumbled out in a rush. “And maybe I've just been fighting a losing battle, trying to give my parents have a chance to be together – a chance that maybe they never had to begin with.”

Oh, my God! River found her memories starting to crystallize again – but the images were different. “Jenny,” she pleaded desperately.

Jenny snapped, at her last edge of patience. “I'm right and this works! Shut up! If I'm supposed to die, then I'm going to give my death meaning! You and Mr. Lux, get back up to the main Library. Prime any data cells you can find for maximum download, Mr. Lux, and tell my parents that I love them. And before you say anything else, Professor, can I just mention one thing?” Jenny shook with anger, and couldn't hold back from shoving River against the wall with one hand – on her throat. “Whatever you think he might've felt for you, how can you be sure it wasn't because he felt trapped by fate, and not because he wanted it?! Now that you've seen him with my Mum, I hope looking back on everything you ever experienced with my Dad makes you feel miserable!” She let one more slap fly before letting the insufferable woman go and moving to a terminal deeper in the room.

“You can't do this,” River screamed – as best as she could – once she recovered from the initial shock.

“I can,” Jenny screamed right back. Something nagged her awareness, and she pulled River's Sonic out. “And I will! Oh, and look. Your Sonic's working again. So I must be on the right track. Now get moving!” She tossed it to River.

Who caught it despite her shock. She shouted, “Mr Lux, with me! Anita, if she dies, I'll kill him once I see him again!”

As River and Mr Lux fled, Jenny dug into her pockets, pulling out her father's Sonic and a collection of small ball-shaped objects – also ignoring the TARDIS screaming in her mind, Don't do it, Jenny, don't do it! – to work on. Good luck getting through Mum to do that... But why would you care about my fate? And wouldn't killing my Dad defeat the purpose?




Chapter 10: Die a Woman With Grieving

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
sczep84
Jul. 10th, 2011 09:07 am (UTC)
I loved the speech Jenny gave River re her "finished" comment about the Doctor. I always found that quite insulting as well! And yay for Now that you've seen him with my Mum, I hope looking back on everything you ever experienced with my Dad makes you feel miserable! You go, Jenny!!!

But River's going to take Jenny's place right?? Can't wait for MOAR!!
tkel_paris
Jul. 11th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
The more I thought about those lines, the more insulted I felt on behalf of Ten in particular, and also for Nine. Every Doctor was insulted there - whatever River's intention were. But we're never "finished," not till we die. So it allowed Jenny more opportunity to vent her anger, and kinda show a bit of her "Donna" side.

More is coming. I just need to add a few little changes to flesh one last thing out, and see if I feel it's ready for posting tonight.

Thank you again for reviewing!
katherine_b
Jul. 10th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
You know, I've just gone back and read the earlier parts of this and I love how the tension and darkness and gloom have been incorporated with the change of location. I won't deny that I'm looking forward to seeing Ten and Donna, but you've done a wonderful job with the interaction between Jenny and River that I am almost disappointed when they aren't sharing 'screen-time'. Can't wait to see where you take it next, and how you sort out the sacrifice that we know is coming.
tkel_paris
Jul. 11th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
If I actually made you regret that they didn't get more "screen-time," I'm amazed!

It gets just a bit uglier before it gets better, but even that could be up for debate, depending on your perspective on River...

It's always good to have confirmation that a story is being read and enjoyed! Thanks!
katherine_b
Jul. 11th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
Ah, you don't know how good you are!

And I have no problem with ugly as long as there is pretty to come after it.
nipponophile05
Jul. 10th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
Oh, what are Rivers different crystallised memories all about???

And yeah, I'm convinced that the Doctor never looked at River with as much love as he does with Donna...just watched The Runaway Bride again and the way he looks at her when they view the creation of the earth...this is before Donna even before she became his companion..I think the Doctor's subconcious knew she was special even then....so yeah, love that bit about "Now that you've seen him with my Mum..."
tkel_paris
Jul. 11th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
You'll see... Just wait for the next chapter...

Yeah, it makes you wish he'd tried a bit harder to persuade her that one trip would be worth her time. Because one trip would've turned into two, and so on and so forth...
thenoblethang
Jul. 10th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
I think the thing that makes it so suspenseful is that I normally WOULD know what would happen, but now I don't cause just about anything can go.

Amen to "Now that's you've seen him with my mum", because I've never seen the Doctor so genuinely passionate about someone as with Donna. To me, everything River and the Doctor have/will have is unimpressive compared to the Temp and Timelord.
tkel_paris
Jul. 11th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
And that's why fanfiction is sometimes more suspenseful than the original show/movie/book was. You have even fewer certainties to rely upon... ;D

Remember, Jenny is at the end of her rope, completely adrift, and feeling like she might've caused unnecessary harm. And her emotional angst isn't over yet...
doctorsgirl26
Jul. 11th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
You tell her Jenny! I love Jenny's speech to River. River is going to take Jenny's place right? YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THIS!! Update soon!
tkel_paris
Jul. 25th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
I'm a little late in replying, but thanks! I'm treasuring every review.
helloprilly
Dec. 28th, 2015 05:00 pm (UTC)
Way to go Jenny!! She just shouted what I want to every time I watch this episode. Completely dismissing ten cause he wasn't to her liking. She was a right smug bitch who deserved to be put in her place and not made the doctors wife. Man I wish THIS had been the forest of the dead. River deserved to be knocked down the whole flipping ladder and Jenny did it beautifully!
tkel_paris
Dec. 28th, 2015 05:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah. It was satisfying to write her words here and in the two previous chapters. Of course, I won't be satisfied until it's publicly acknowledged that River was never his wife and hinting that she was was a mistake. Which might never happen without prompting...
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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