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Shakespearean Cupids (12/13)

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.

Author's Note: If any chapter will make you want to throw things at me, it's this one. Those of you who watched series 4 have known this was coming... I only hope you find it more moving than the original. And now excuse me while I fight my Muse over the editing details of the final chapter...

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


Donna and John arrived at the playground, holding each other's hand with the children surrounding them. She spotted the woman first. She was sitting on a bench, on the other side of the playground – that veil still concealing the face. “All right, you two,” she told the twins, “off you go, no fighting.” Ever eager, the two ran off.

Hand in hand, Donna and John slowly strolled around the park, warily eying the woman as they approached her. “Any idea what she might mean,” Donna asked him.

John took a deep breath. “None, but I feel like I should. And I don't understand it.” Nor do I understand why I'm wanting to push the thoughts to the side...

Sensing another moment of memory trouble, Donna squeezed his hand in comfort. She couldn't help but also admire him in his jeans, leather jacket (which made him look, to her, hot in and of itself), and a gray t-shirt that proclaimed, “The truly educated never graduate.” Daft skinny boy, she thought for what felt like the thousandth time, how can you be so sexy...?

John felt her gaze on him, and shot her a cheeky grin. I'll repay you for giving me that saucy look in a playground...

Watching them approach, Miss Evangelista clasped her hands more tightly together. This has to work... Even though they're clearly enthralled by the fiction, they have to see the truth once they're presented with enough proof.

When they reached her, Donna sat beside the woman, and John plopped himself carefully beside herself. “We got your note last night,” Donna said without preamble. “'The world is wrong', what's that mean?”

“No,” said the woman in a melodic voice, but filled with a firmness that sounded at odds with the underlying sound, “you didn't.”

John interjected, “I'm sorry, what?!?” Why does her voice sound familiar...?

They have to know, Miss Evangelista reminded herself. They can't suffer the manipulation any longer. “You didn't get my note last night,” she continued. “You got it a few seconds ago. Having decided to come, you suddenly found yourself arriving. That is how time progresses here, in the manner of a dream.”

The couple exchanged a look, of puzzlement and... a hint of something else trying to claw its way to the surface. Especially to John, over the word “time”...

It's close, Miss Evangelista sensed, to the surface. They should just need the right prompting. “You've suspected that before,” she said to the one who she felt would be easier to convince, “haven't you, Donna Noble?”

Donna blinked rapidly. “How do you know us?”

Be gentle... “We met before, in the Library. You were kind to me, Donna. I hope now to return that kindness to both you and the Doctor.”

“Your voice...” Donna whispered, voicing the strange sensations that the voice triggered in her mind. “I recognize it.”

“So do I,” John noted, just as softly. Where have I heard it before? In my time before the accident? It must be from there! She has to be a bit off kilter...

“Yes, you do.” This is promising... “I am what is left of Miss Evangelista.”

Flashes came into both of their minds. Those of a beautiful young, dark-haired woman who was shunted aside for her lack of intelligence, and then of a skeleton in a suit identical to what the woman was wearing. Both felt their hearts clench, though neither was quite sure what it meant. John in particular wanted to push it out of his consciousness.

Miss Evangelista continued, seeing the flickers of memory burn briefly in their eyes, “I suggested we meet here because a playground is the easiest place to see it, to see the lie.”

“What lie?” John tensed, pulling Donna closer to him. What am I suddenly afraid of...? Why should her words fill me with dread...?

“The children,” Miss Evangelista stressed, “look at the children.”

“Why do you wear that veil?” Donna did wonder, based on those flashes. But she was also trying to change the subject; John's obvious tension needed to be handled – and holding his hand was clearly not enough. “If I had a face like yours, I wouldn't hide it.”

I hate it when she denigrates her looks, John thought. The comment, however, brought more images into his mind's eye...

Miss Evangelista found Donna's statement comforting. “You remember my face, then?” Good that someone does... “The memories are all still there - the Library, the girl you were traveling with, me. And his life as the Doctor. You've both just been programmed not to look.”

“Sorry,” Donna said, shaking her head, “but... you're dead. We saw your skeleton...” At least I think we did...

Best to rip it off, like a bandage. “In a way, we're all dead here, Donna and the Doctor. We are the dead of the Library.”

The words made both of them shiver, but John nearly exploded first. He stood, towering over Miss Evangelista. “Well, what about the children? The children aren't dead! My and Donna's children aren't dead!”

This might be harder than I thought it'd be... “Your children were never alive.”

Gasping, Donna jumped up, too – instinctively stepping between John and Miss Evangelista. “Don't you say that. Don't you dare say that about our children!” No, she's wrong! She has to be!

“Look at your children.” She needed them to believe her, so she stressed, “Look at all of them, really look.”

Simultaneously, Donna and John turned toward the children – and froze. There were still several boys and several girls – but now all they saw were Joshua and Ella over and over again. They gasped. No, they thought as one, no, that's not possible!

Miss Evangelista stood, knowing she'd started to get through to them. “They're not real. Do you see it now? They're all the same. All the children of this world, the same boy and the same girl, over and over again.”

John snapped, “Stop it. Just stop it! Why are you doing this? Why are you wearing that veil?!”

It pulled Donna into action, firing her hand into pulling off the veil – showing a face unnaturally contorted. Donna – and all the children – screamed, turning into John's body to hide from the sight.

He just clutched Donna to him, gasping in horror... Partly because he somehow knew that wasn't the scariest face he'd ever seen...

Charlotte screamed, too. She hid her face in a pillow, and waited for things to calm down.

After a few moments, Miss Evangelista's was suddenly re-covered by the veil. The children stopped screaming – and seemingly went back to their previous activities as if they'd forgotten about the moment.

But Donna and John hadn't. He quickly led the women over to a gazebo, so there was no chance Joshua and Ella could overhear. Whatever was going on, he wasn't going to let innocents be needlessly frightened. Donna had quickly figured out his intentions, and urged the woman who called herself Miss Evangelista over in a hurry. And she didn't fight it; she sensed that what had allowed them – particularly Donna – be kind to her in the Library would be fought a bit in convincing them of the truth here.

Once they were there, John turned and slipped his hands in his jean pockets. “What happened to your face?”

“Transcription errors.” I figured it out within nanoseconds. “Destroyed my face, did wonders for my intellect. I'm a very poor copy of myself.”

Donna shuddered. Poor woman... But... “Where are we? Why are the children all the same?”

Miss Evangelista stayed absolutely still, not threatening. “The same pattern over and over. It saves an awful lot of space.”

“Space?” John's sinking feeling was growing stronger, the one he was desperately trying to suppress.

The answer was simple, Miss Evangelista knew, and he'll see it soon enough. “Cyberspace.”

“No!” Things were flying into Charlotte's mind, scaring her as the truth began to dawn on her. “Don't tell, you mustn't tell!”

Miss Evangelista sensed something pushing against her awareness, but she pressed on – determined to persuade them. “Your physical self – for each of you – is stored in the library as an energy signature. It can be actualized again whenever you or the Library requires.”

“The Library?” An awful memory flooded Donna's mind, making her shudder. “If either of our faces end up on one of those statues...”

This is a good start. “You remember the statues?”

“No!” John's arms reflexively clasped Donna to him. “That's not-” He started shaking from the inside out. Flashes of overhearing that girl, Jenny, talking with... a dark-skinned young woman and an older, blond woman. “That would mean I'm not married to Donna, that I'm an alien who'll outlive her, and that I couldn't give her what she wants! That I'll just ruin her life, her chances at happiness, and that can't be! It just can't!”

Donna gasped as his panic nearly overwhelmed her. Oh, my God... She had flashes of... a handsome man with a devilish appeal, an older woman with dark hair and wisdom beyond even her years, and... someone who looked like he might be her own Gramps! Her fears seemed to fade in the face of the instinct to hug him tightly, trying to reassure him. “Shh...” She caressed his cheek, and pushed herself up enough to kiss his neck. She was aiming for his jaw, but his hold was so tight she couldn't reach that high.

Oh, my God... Miss Evangelista hadn't thought it was possible to feel your heart breaking when you were just a string of numbers, but hers was as more pieces of the puzzle she witnessed in the Library became clear. “So that's how the computer was able to trick a Time-Lord.”

That reached them both – despite their respective barrages of emotions. “What?!” It was simultaneous.

“The computer took images from your mutual memories,” Miss Evangelista speculated, based on their reactions, “which it couldn't completely program you, Doctor, to suppress since you're not human. Instead, it used them to weave together a story that used your feelings for each other – which were also far too strong for programming over overcome – to persuade you that what you were experiencing was reality. It presented a drug that would be instantly addictive to both of you.”

“Wait, no, just... hang on.” Donna was desperately seeking something else to latch on to, and old insecurities presented a decent opportunity. “So... are you saying that I'm just a temp who has nothing to offer anyone?!”

“No!” I can't let her talk about herself like that! John forced her to look at him. “I told you, you are the most amazing woman in the world! I'm insanely lucky just to have met you!”

“What you see around you,” Miss Evangelista interjected, needing to stop this, “this entire world is nothing more than virtual reality.”

Donna turned. I don't know if I should ask, but I need to know... “So why do you look like that?”

“I had no choice,” Miss Evangelista sighed. “You two teleported. You're perfect reproductions. I was just a data ghost caught in the Wi-Fi and automatically uploaded.”

That it caught John's attention made him shiver. He shook his head, trying to shut it out. Donna, feeling the shaking, whispered her next question, “And it made you clever?”

“We're only strings of numbers in here.” I never thought he would be the harder of the two to convince... “I think a decimal point may have shifted in my IQ. But my face has been the bigger advantage. I have the two qualities you require to see absolute truth. I am brilliant... and unloved.”

Those words made John feel like his insides froze solid as she spoke those last words. It hit something deep inside, and it hit something else – something connected to Donna, somehow.

Donna shook her head. “If this is all a dream... whose dream is it?”

Miss Evangelista nearly sighed. “It's hard to see everything in the data core, even for me, but there is a word. Just one word. CAL.”

The word touched another memory in each of them. But they couldn't place it.

No, you're making them miserable! They were happy!” Charlotte was barely aware of her flowing tears as she grabbed the remote and pushed a button. I've got to help them, she cried silently – as memories started hitting her, too... And she tried to ignore them, focusing on the couple she'd come to adore...

Ella suddenly fell to the ground, crying in pain. “Mummy! Daddy! My knee!”

John grabbed Donna's hand and nearly dragged her away in his haste to reach Ella – who was mercifully nearby with her brother, who'd stopped his playing to help. “We're here, Ella,” John blurted, trying to keep those unsettling fears from hurting his girl as he pulled her into his arms. “Mummy and I will help.”

“She's not real.” I can't believe they're clinging so tenaciously to the lie... Especially him... “They're fictions.” Miss Evangelista was surprised to feel herself go cold. “I'm sorry, but now that you understand that, you won't be able to keep a hold. They are sustained only by your belief.”

“You don't know,” John screamed before Donna could, “you don't have children!”

“Neither do you.” Finality might work...

John felt flashes cross his mind again, but this time, he only recognized the image of the girl called Jenny. The others he saw tapped on his mind, but the memories he pushed aside – ruthlessly. “We're leaving!” He took Ella's hand, seeing that she could walk, and then Donna's. She quickly took Joshua's and followed her husband – almost as upset as he was.

“Donna, Doctor,” Miss Evangelista screamed, suddenly terrified that they wouldn't listen, “for your own sake, let them go! Doctor, you have to let this go so you can save yourself and Donna!”

He refused to listen. “Donna's my wife,” he shouted at her, “and these are our children! You're the one who's wrong! My world isn't wrong! I'm not that lonely alien! I'm a human man with memory problems from an accident! This is my life,” he cried as he all but dragged his family away.

Donna's mind worked hard, trying to piece together what felt like memories bubbling to the surface. And trying to calm him with a squeeze of his hand...

Miss Evangelista could only watch in horror. How could that have not worked?! How can he cling to the fiction so tenaciously...?!

Charlotte's tears kept coming. “Stop it! You'll spoil everything! I hate you, you're going to ruin everything! Stop it!”

“Sweetie,” her dad called to her, hurrying in from the kitchen, “what's wrong?”

I don't need to hear you tell me that the Library isn't real! “Shut up!” She pressed another button... and her father vanished into thin air. “Daddy! No! Daddy!”

If Miss Evangelista had been able to see the despair on Charlotte's face that drove her to throw the remote to the ground, she would have understood the Doctor's reaction. If you told a person that their perfect world was an illusion, wouldn't they cling to what they preferred to believe about their life...? Especially if that other life held so much misery for them...?

John and Donna knew they were going faster than the twins could reasonably handle, but even Donna felt a need to flee from the woman who called herself Miss Evangelista. My poor... A name suddenly came to her, a name connected with her husband. My poor Spaceman...?

“Mummy, Daddy,” Ella asked, sounding scared, “what did the lady mean? Are we not real? Where are we going?”

Only one answer came, from John: “Home!”

Suddenly, they were in the living room. All the lights are red, and an alarm was blaring. Neither Donna nor John could recognize it.

Ella broke the silence. “That was quick, wasn't it, Mummy? Daddy?”

“Mummy, Daddy,” Joshua asked, pointing at the window, “what's wrong with the sky?

Donna and John looked out of the window and their eyes nearly popped out upon seeing an equally red sky. Oh, my God... Donna felt more memories flashing before her eyes, especially of red-eyed creatures – each holding a strange ball – reaching toward them. Oh, God, that was real...! These flashes really happened...!

John pulled them all back to the couch, walking backwards. “Stay together,” he whispered desperately, “stay right with me. Don't leave my sight for an instant.” He made them sit, and held all three of them tightly to him. He planted loving pecks on the twins' foreheads, and then a brief – but hard and deeply intimate – one on Donna's lips. “I know we're hallucinating – all of us. We'll snap of this soon, and it'll be all right.”

But Donna's mind was elsewhere, in the midst of memories starting to assert themselves...

A dark-skinned man, who was going to marry her but didn't love her. Who thought she was completely thick, and deceived her, preparing her to become a meal for a woman-spider's children... And John – no, the Doctor! – rescuing her twice. After she'd slapped him. Who didn't hate her for turning him down. Who still made it snow for her... Who put a bio-damper masking as a wedding ring on her finger – one she still had among her possessions...

Of searching for the Doctor when she regretted her refusal. Even though she was there for her dad... Of seemingly drifting... Investigating every strange phenomenon she could find in the hopes that it'd be the thing that brought the Doctor back into her life...

The fatty blobs, the Adipose that came out of Stacy Campbell... Of seeing him through the door and window, of hugging him despite the danger... Yelling at him when she nearly died... Giving him the pill he needed to save a million people. Turning into his arms when she couldn't watch the Matron die... And yelling, “You're not mating with me, Sunshine!”

Pompeii... That purple dress that the Doctor apparently liked... Being captured... Sharing his burden when 20,000 had to be doomed to save the planet... And saving a family... and being welcomed aboard.

The Ood planet... The cold... Teasing him about his ship... Hearing the song of Captivity... Freeing an entire species... And being called TheDoctorDonna, as a unit... She'd liked thinking of them as being a forever thing even then...

Learning to pilot the TARDIS... Being called by Martha to solve what turned into saving Earth from the Sontarans... Of taking on a Sontaran and stopping their ship – with only the Doctor's voice over a cell phone to guide her... Of being grateful that he gave her a key, and feeling amused and a bit sad that he'd thought she was leaving him...

Messaline... and Jenny! How the Doctor fought with accepting her... and his eventual joy in both stopping a war and gaining a daughter... And his shock when Jenny called Donna “Mum” for the first time...

Introducing Jenny to her family... And making her mother be a little less hostile toward the Doctor, all because of Jenny's exuberance and child-like delight...

Meeting Agatha Christie... The Vespiform... The murder mystery... and the 1920s dresses that the Doctor had hated on Jenny, but... loved... on Donna... The detox! And his “got to do that more often” throw-away comment...

And overhearing Jack, Sarah Jane, and Gramps talking about the Doctor's feelings! The struggling to deny what she felt...

And just like that, Donna realized who she really was... and who John really was... Oh, my God...

“You just...” John could barely speak; his throat was constricted from the weight of so many emotions trying to pile on him. So many things in his mind that he refused to listen to. Because, he told himself, they're all hallucinations! “...you just stay where I can see you. Right, you, you don't get out of my sight.”

That man seems to think he's doomed to be lonely, since he's the last of his kind and everyone he cares about is going to die before he will.” Sarah Jane sighed heavily, sounding so sad to Donna's ears. “He must be worrying about the fact that he won't age like his companions do. It's like he thinks he doesn't deserve to be happy if he's just going to be alone again in the end.”

That memory snapped one more thing into place. So, she realized with a deeply sinking feeling, that's why he's fighting so hard to cling to this... fiction... He was so lonely, so insecure about how I'd respond to him falling for me that he can't accept that this isn't real. He can't stand the idea of being that lonely alien... who feels like he's doomed...

Mummy,” Joshua whimpered, “you're hurting my hand.”

Donna hadn't even realized she was squeezing with the hand holding Joshua's. Oh, God, her mind cried as she felt her heart breaking, I don't remember creating them! The computer didn't even let us have the experience of being intimate!

“Mummy and I are just having a little worry, that's all.” John was determined to talk his way out of this, to bring himself back to where this would all be a hallucination.

He didn't realize that his actions were a sign that the computer's hold on him was weakening. That his real identity was pushing its way into his conscious mind...

Ella looked up at him. “Is it bedtime?”

Then they were in the children's room. John was finishing tucking them lovingly into their beds, being as gentle as possible to keep them from feeling his turmoil.

Donna stood right behind him, and placed her hands on his shoulders. Any moment now, she just knew, this will all come crashing down... So she took the longest looks she could at the scene before her, knowing it would disappear soon... and might completely break her heart, not to mention his two...

“OK,” John said, aiming for a soothing voice, but not quite able to keep the tension out. “That was lovely, wasn't it? That was a lovely bedtime. We had warm milk, and we watched cartoons, and then Mummy and I read you a lovely bedtime story.”

Donna wanted to close her eyes, and keep them closed, but she couldn't. She also didn't see the images that “John” saw, that the computer was still feeding him. His desperation to believe, she knew, is making it easier to swallow the jumping around. I'll need all my strength for this...

“Mummy, Daddy,” Ella asked in that voice all kids get when they ask the big questions, “Joshua and me, we're not real, are we?”

He shook his head. “Of course you're real! You're as real as anything! Why would you say that?”

“But, Daddy,” Joshua added, “sometimes, when you're not here or Mummy's not here, it's like we're not here.”

He startled. What?!

Ella continued, “Even when you close your eyes, we just stop.”

Never again, he vowed. “Well, Mummy and Daddy promise to never close their eyes again.” He risked glancing at Donna. “Right?”

But she could only look forlornly at him. Unable to draw her eyes away from him, unable to hide her own pain.

Why is she so agonized? He opened his mouth to ask, but then he felt a need to look at the beds... and the children were gone. “No!” His hands went over where they'd been, and felt empty air. “No! No, no, no! No! No, no! NO! NO!!!” His hand flew into his hair and he collapsed onto his knees, curling into himself – trying to block out everything.

Donna's already breaking heart felt like it shattered into billions of pieces – like every atom was violently ripped from each other – as his body was wracked by brutal tremors. My poor Spaceman... She instantly wrapped her arms around his sobbing frame. “I know, my love, it hurts.”

He gasped as a flood of images and names rushed forward in what for him was an eternity:

His granddaughter. His first companion. Her taking the human name Susan Foreman. Her taking care of the old man he physically was. Her leaving him for a human man...

Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton... First human companions. Her love of history, and how it got her in trouble – like with the Aztecs. His meddling with the TARDIS, and close combat genius. Their leaving him... together...

Vicky... The teenager who looked after him after Susan... Who grew up to become Troius' Cressida...

Steven Taylor... Survivor of a crash, and a burning city. Chose to help a divided society find peace... There for the deaths of two other companions...

Katarina... Thought he was a god... Died protecting him...

Sara Kingdom... Joined him to foil her employer... Died soon after Karatina...

Dodo Chaplet... Accidentally infected a future society with the common cold. Wandered off when WOTAN hypnotized her...

Ben Jackson and Polly... Helped him defeat WOTAN. Left together...

Jamie McCrimmon... Clever, intuitive... Forced home by the Time Lords...

Victoria Waterfield... Daughter of a Dalek victim. Deafening screams. Left for the Harris family...

Zoe Heriot... Child prodigy. Forced home, memories wiped, by the Time Lords...

Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart... Took him into UNIT when the Time Lords took away his ability to fly the TARDIS. Good man...

Elizabeth Shaw... His UNIT replacement when he got his memories back. Never actually traveled on the TARDIS...

Jo Grant... Tenacious, able to stand up to him... Left to explore the Amazon with a professor...

Sarah Jane Smith... With him almost as long as Jamie was. Raised an army to save him, took on the Sontaran who abducted her – and won! He was forced to leave her behind on Earth...

Harry Sullivan... Clumsy and old-fashioned, but loyal to a fault. Never trusted the TARDIS would get him home on time...

Leela... Infuriating, savage, and yet able to make one very fond of her. She wed a Citadel Chancellery Guard, and had the first naturally conceived – and born – Gallifreyan child in millenia... And he still didn't know what became of them...

K-9... Loyal robotic dog... Multiple incarnations... Annoying habit of calling him, “Master.” With Sarah Jane now...

Romana... Boastful, arrogant, belittling, manipulative... and yet willing to save others... Bewildered the Time Lords by befriending him...

Adric... Young, immature, and arrogant... but amazing mathematical mind... Died from a Cyberman attack, haunting him for years...

Nyssa... Father killed by the Master... Naïve but incredibly sweet. Left to turn a slave planet into a hospital...

Tegan... Another victim of the Master. Mouthy, stubborn... Left to go back to her old life...

Vislor Turlough... Non-human exile and thief... Never quite trusted, even after he'd returned to his home planet...

Kameleon... Another good robot... Destroyed before its time... at his own hand...

Peri Brown... Saved from the Master. Killed when someone wanted her body to house their brain...

Mel Bush... Irritated so many... Left with a space entertainer... after accidentally caused his sixth self's death...

Ace... Swept from Earth by a time storm, forced into slavery. Frighteningly good with bombs. Mysteriously disappeared from his life...

Grace Halloway... Accidentally killed his seventh self when trying to save him... Devoted to saving lives... Murdered by the Master, yet saved by the TARDIS... Stayed behind for her patients...

Bernice... Why couldn't he remember how she came into his life or left it...?

Romana, in desperation and against his pleas, reviving Rassilon to fight in the last Time War... It surely got her killed... forever...

Rose Tyler... Innocent, romantic, young... Reminded him of Jo Grant... Looked up to him too much, felt too much for him... as he saw in his last glimpses of her from across universes, proving he'd misread so much about their bond...

Mickey Smith... From scared boyfriend left behind, to angry young man investigating a perceived threat, to computer genius who willingly took his late parallel world's counterpart's place...

The man who called himself Jack Harkness... From a flirtatious con man – with a huge secret to his appeal – to a defender of Earth... thriving despite the curse Rose unknowingly placed upon him...

Sarah Jane again... He restored K-9 to her, but she proved that he caused a lot of pain when he'd left her before...

Martha Jones... Brilliant, determined... and never given a proper chance... He'd felt too guilty over Rose, and hadn't really seen the emotional dangers he placed Martha in...

The Generated Anomaly... Born a soldier from blood seized from him... and transforming into a true daughter, sharing in his child-like excitement. Her anger when she saw a threat to them...

And... Donna?! Shouting at him in her wedding gown... Jumping from a cab... Stepping between him and the Empress... “Doctor, you can stop now!”... Turning him down... That mouthed conversation... Holding out the pill at Adipose... Her pulling out all her bags... Begging him to warn Pompeii... Sharing his burden... Pleading to save the one family... Her compassion for the dying Ood... The willingness to hear the Ood song... Piloting the TARDIS. "You've been checking out the building - should've been checking out the workforce."... Saving Earth with just him whispering over the phone... Naming Jenny, making him accept her and love her... Detox: the biggest shock of his life... "I don't feel comfortable with the very thought of you being alone with her."...

And in that moment, CAL's hold over him snapped, and it was impossible to deny his identity. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” the Doctor cried, sinking to the floor between the beds, “Miss Evangelista was right! It's not real! Nothing here is real. The whole world, everything, none of it's real!” The truth made him want to sink into the ground and die...

“Not everything was fake!” Donna hated screaming, but it seemed necessary to drag him out of it enough – even with a slight shake. “What about our feelings, my loveable-but-idiotic Spaceman?! Were those fake?!”

Donna shouting always ensured his attention, but this time, it was her words that captured his thoughts. He slowly picked himself up, turning around – and Donna had to release her hold, but moved her hands to return to his shoulders – to face... what he prayed with both his hearts was really Donna... “What did you just say,” he whispered, “that not everything was fake?”

She swallowed – a habit that the computer couldn't suppress, she realized absently – and whispered, staring right into the deep eyes that she'd been afraid would hypnotize her, “I'm asking you: would any of this have been believable if we didn't already both wish for something like it?” The need to comfort him overpowered her instinct to withdraw, to protect herself.

The Doctor gaped. Unable to believe that she could still think in the midst of unbearable grief. And yet wasn't it just like Donna to manage that...?

Donna saw his inability to speak, and it – combined with the truth of this world – nearly choked her. I know it's a risk asking someone this rubbish with feelings to answer this, she thought, but I don't know what else to say right now... “Tell me... Doctor...”

The whispering of his chosen name reminded him of when she'd first called him “John.” How it had seemed off, that it wasn't right... And he'd forgotten that under the influence of Dr. Moon... and his own desires...

She forced herself to continue, “...why was this whole thing believable to you?”

He nearly choked from the question, but not because he knew little about handling emotions. It was because there was only one answer, and the choking was from a futile attempt to follow old habits. “I... It was because I've never loved anyone in the whole of my life so deeply as... as I love you.” It couldn't be taken back now... It was in the open... “And I wanted to believe in it... more than anything...”

Despite it all, Donna's lips and the corners of her eyes curled into the tiniest hint of a smile. Oh, thank God!

Neither of them noticed that the red light around them was fading...

The Doctor's eyelids had never felt so wide before. I can't be seeing what I think I'm seeing in her eyes... “Donna...?”

She choked on her own voice, still a whisper. “Despite everything I said to you at first, I've come to love you so much that I can't even think to even pretend to be oblivious anymore. And it's felt so... right... to be with you...”

When he gasped for air, he realized that waiting for her admission had made his breath stop – and the bypass hadn't kicked in. “Oh! Oh, thank you, Donna!” He pulled her into a big hug. “Thank Rassilon!” She has to be real! She has to be!

You thank who you want,” she cried, with a hint of laughter, “but I'm thanking God!” For starting to get through your thick head!

Again, neither noticed the light turning white...

Then they both had another flash, another memory return: Jenny screaming at them about River Song. “Jenny,” Donna breathed, pulling away just enough to see his face, “she must be frightened out of her mind!”

That allowed the Doctor to snap into his save-the-day mentality. “Right, we'll figure out how to get out of here safely, and then talk about this-” And then he registered the white light overpowering everything around them. “Oh, no...” He drew her right back into the tightest embrace. “No, we can't be too late!”

Donna gasped as she felt something start to tug them apart. She clutched him back. “Maybe this is sending us back into the real world,” she screamed over the growing noise.

They clung with everything they had, but the force overwhelmed them. “Donna,” he screamed as he lost his grip on her arms. No, I can't lose her now! I can't!

“I'll find you,” Donna shouted back, terror filling her entire being. “I didn't stop before, and I promise you, I'll find you!” We have to be going back! She silently begged God or whoever might be listening, Please let us go back!

His mind clung desperately to her words, to the hope that this wasn't the end. “And I won't stop looking, either!”

And then the light consumed them both...

Chapter 13: None Is Left to Protest


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Oh I love ur version of this episode SO much better than the actual episode <3
It's so heartbreaking how the Doctor clings to the children but makes absolute sense. The poor lonely oncoming storm :( And how Donna comforts him then and SQUEE how they admit their feelings for each other. Perfect!!!! And whereas I was always a bit meh about Donna calling to Lee she'll find him I'm absolutely delighted about Donna and the Doctor calling out to each other and promising to not stop looking for each other *happy sigh*

SO looking forward to the next part but also sad cos it's gonna be the last part of this brilliant series :(
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
Who says it's the last part...? Just the last part of the story... ;D

The more you like the idea of the Doctor and Donna as a couple, the less inclined you are to like the idea of anyone else with either of them. That's my opinion, but I could be wrong.

Thanks for the lovely review. Am working on the last part right now.
(no subject) - sczep84 - Jul. 15th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Jul. 15th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:02 pm (UTC)

It's so fitting that it was the Doctor totally freaking out. AND HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY THAT THEY FINALLY CONFESSED!

and THIS: “I didn't stop before, and I promise you, I'll find you!”
was beautiful.

*waits for the last installment*
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
Ren and Stimpy fan much...? Oh, the flashbacks to the 90s...

You're welcome. I thought readers might be more upset about the angst... Guess I underestimated the goodness of the sweet parts... :D
Jul. 15th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
Awesome! The whole scene with Miss Evangelista was great. :)

Loved that it was the Doctor who clung to the dream. And that his inability to let go made Donna the strong one :D

Liked the little mention Bernice Summerfield got.I haven't listened to any of her audio drama's but she seems like a very popular character. And poor Romana, waking Rassilon not a good idea!

So if the Doctor is unsure if Donna was fake... can't wait to see how they react to each other in the 'real world'! :D
Jul. 15th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
Donna often has to be the strong one in their dynamic. I noticed that more than a few times... So that made it more believable seeing her holding them both together in the end? At least... until that last moment...

When it dawned on me that remembering all those he'd lost would magnify his feelings, I asked tardis-mole over at FFN for a little info on every Classic Who companion, because I only knew info on Sarah Jane Smith and Romana. And a tiny bit about Ace. The info was a HUGE help...

Yeah, I'm looking forward to how things turn out, too. Muse and I are still debating some of the details.
Jul. 15th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is agonising, but it's so right. That they would both want to hold onto the dream is understandable, but the Doctor has so much more to lose, so it makes sense that he would fight to keep the perfect life this world has given him. (I'm sure you won't be surprised that I thought of his last moments as John Smith with Joan Redfern.)

The need to comfort him overpowered her instinct to withdraw, to protect herself.

One sentence and you've summed up Donna perfectly, not just in this world, but in the real one as well. It's definitely her strongest personality trait and one you've depicted absolutely perfectly here.

My heart absolutely breaks for CAL though. It had never occurred to me before that her life shatters at the same time as Donna's, but you're right. Of course she would lose all that, too. Poor child.

And for the first time I'm wondering about Joshua and Ella. They clearly aren't among the initial people saved because otherwise they would be restored with the others. If they'd been in CAL's imagination, they would have been destroyed along with the rest of that world. Does that mean maybe that they sneaked into the Library after River Song's expedition and so CAL saved them the way she did with both Daves and Miss Evangelista? All new and interesting thoughts - thank you!
Jul. 15th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
In this universe, CAL gets some strength from talking with Jenny, and I think that she was a pretty extraordinary girl as far as her existing emotional strength went. She just couldn't remember... I'm thinking of the episode's ending, which I see no reason to do a version of here.

CAL was being told a story along with Joshua and Ella by River at the end of "Forest of the Dead." So the world was restored when everyone was brought back. Maybe they were based on playmates she really had... Since they're children, I prefer to think this is the answer...

Thank you for the comparisons and observations. They made me smile after a rough day. I may be working on another story because of my mood.
(no subject) - katherine_b - Jul. 16th, 2011 12:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 15th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
*claps eagerly* WOOOHOOO!!!! AWESOME CHAPTER!!!! I can't really say much about it except the only feeling I have is pure melt for it!! I like this version of the episode way better than RTD's and I love how you write little comments about how they are feeling in their mind, not just the dialog. It provides more insightfulness than just a conversation. I am REALLY looking forward to the last chapter but also dreading it because it is going to be the end...or not from a previous comment! Does this mean sequal orrr are you writing another story in addition to this?
Jul. 15th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Heh, heh, heh... Sequel. This story has been about the effort to bring the Doctor and Donna together - and their own efforts to resist - until they discovered that resistance was futile. (Star Trek joke intended. ;D) The next one is about the difficulties in making it work, but I'm going to try to keep up the Shakespearean theme.

I'm feeling a little bashful with all this praise! Wish it were inspiring my Muse right now...
(no subject) - docdonnaforever - Jul. 16th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Jul. 16th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - docdonnaforever - Jul. 16th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Jul. 17th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - docdonnaforever - Jul. 18th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
This chapter is so bittersweet. The way the Doctor clings to the children was just heartbreaking. I could feel myself tearing during that part. Donna having to be the strong one for him was really interesting and showed a dynamic of their relationship that we don't see very often. I love the way they revealed their feelings to each other. It was so sweet and totally them. I love you icon!
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Which icon? Speaking of which, is yours from the S2 episode "The 37s"?

I think the reviews are making me go from being unsure about this chapter, despite what my beta told me, to being in love with how it turned out. I hope I feel that way about the next chapter... Wish me luck with the editing and revising!
(no subject) - doctorsgirl26 - Jul. 18th, 2011 12:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Jul. 18th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - doctorsgirl26 - Jul. 18th, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tkel_paris - Jul. 19th, 2011 12:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 16th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
Emotional!Doctor is so very heartbreaking...and I loved (in a very angsty way) his sheer desparation in trying to hold on to everything he loves even when he realises that most of it never existed. I also loved his relief when he realised that Donna herself was real. I could really sense the fear in him that after having just admitting his love for her that he might lose her.

And I love how even CAL is a total Doctor-Donna shipper!

Sad for the ending of this chapter, but looking forward to much Doctor-Donna goodness in the future.
Jul. 17th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
Um... Well, he's PRAYING that it's Donna he saw. If they hadn't been parted right then, he would've soon been convinced. As it is... He needs to see her and hear it from her lips in the real world now... I found it interesting that Donna would be the one to instinctively know that the both of them were real. But it worked wonders!

Am trying to finish the last chapter! RL has been problematic enough to draw Muse to a different WIP, which also needs to be finished...

Please keep sending good vibes to my Muse. That's all I ask.
Jul. 17th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
Wahhhhhhh! Oh noes I have caught up and now I have wait! *stomps foot*

This was great stuff, so heartbreaking then cathartic when they admitted their feelings :) I am so glad you are planning a sequel, wish I could think of inspiration for you but I'm drawing a blank I'm afraid so I will have to settle for sending good vibes to your muse :)

Jul. 18th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
If you do think of anything that you'd like to see in the sequel, do tell me! Choose your delivery method.

Yeah, well, Muse wanted to post this one quickly. She's being a little annoying about the last one, wanting this and that changed - and then making it hard to write ANY changes. Gonna have to brute force it a bit so I'm closer to the final stage... Have you been there?
(no subject) - sykira - Jul. 23rd, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 28th, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
Sniffles. Seeing the Doctor being the one to fall to pieces when the twins vanish was a total dagger to the heart. That scene always had me in near tears even though the children were the construct of the machine, that Donna would once again lose something so precious to her and yet have it be dismissed because they werent real was just heart breaking. Seeing the Doctor experiencing the same heartbreak but on a much vaster scale somehow made it even worse. All his companions, some like children in a way to him, all lost to him forever. *quiet sobs*
Dec. 28th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
And you'd think that knowing about this would've made him hesitate over wiping her mind. Or parting the Duplicate from her. Anyway... yeah, this hurt to write. I felt it explained why he was willing to accept the lie, and fought harder than Donna did in canon to keep it alive.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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