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Shakespearean Cupids (13/13)

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: At last... The final chapter. I owe a belated shout-out to tardis-mole for the information on the companions from Classic Who. I only knew of Sarah Jane, Romana, and Ace. And I wanted more to fill out the emotions that Ten was feeling in that moment from last chapter.

A huge thank-you to everyone who's reviewed. They've meant a lot to me... I suppose I should also express gratitude to the very existence of the production that inspired the germ of this story. ;D But don't fret too much; I have a sequel in mind... It's current working title is, "Nothing to Any Purpose That the World Can Say Against It." Yes, it's from MAAN's final scene. But the only thing MAAN will have to do with the sequel might be chapter titles. I'm much more likely to use The Merchant of Venice and perhaps Measure for Measure for inspiration for this next story. And there might be one more story after that; if the tone of this story changed so much while it was in progress that I had to end it where I did, then the next one won't get us to where my notes have this whole idea ending.

Discussions from LJ about possible future projects for Tate and Tennant to work on together gave me an idea for my next new fic. It's also Shakespearean. The new story? It's called "The Taming of the Time Lord." Yes, it's a gender-role reversal of a particular Shakespearean play. I'm outlining it, and it needs one heck of an outline; I'm going to be dragging a lot of characters from the Who universe. Think of it as a big production Alternate Reality.

Keep your eyes opened!

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


From Chapter 9:

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!”

Mr. Lux stood in the reception area, working frantically on a terminal. The count-down had come and gone, so he had hope that at least part of the plan had worked. Professor Song had gotten him to the Gravity Platform, but sent him up on his own...

You can handle it by yourself,” Professor Song breathed through nearly gritted teeth as she stopped. “I have to stop her from killing herself!”

He paused, eyes wide. “You're going to...?”

She nodded. “I have to. She's got this mistaken idea about what her family's future will be, but the actions here? They've changed things. What I remembered when I came here is no longer what was for me. But she has a future! I have to stop her from accidentally making things worse!” Then she sent him up, not allowing much further discussion.

He shook off the chill of the memory, and tried to focus on his task. But, he noted, it's still so silent...

Excuse me.”

The sudden, unknown male voice startled Mr. Lux, who looked up to see the room filled with people. His breath caught in his throat.

What happened?” The same man looked around, dazed. “How did we get here?”

Mr. Lux was overwhelmed by the sheer lightness blasting from deep inside. “Look at you, you're back! You're all back.” He stunned a few people – especially, deep down, himself – when he hugged random people. “They did it! You're all back. Look at you!”

Laughing, he hurried outside to see the rest of the planet, and – upon seeing all the signs of life – exclaimed, “Look at that! Oh look at that, they did it. 4,024 people! Saved!” He paused, joy damped by the sudden reminder of the five that didn't make it. “Bless you all,” he whispered, saying a silent prayer for their sakes.

The cacophony of noise hit the Doctor's ears first. Then he saw his clothes. Oh! The old blue suit...

In another room, Donna felt dizzy when she opened her eyes, from the sights and sounds and smells. So many weird things, she thought as she noted the clothing she'd put on earlier that day.

A joyful scream popped into his mind, and he felt overwhelmed – stumbling to stay upright – by feeling the Old Girl in his mind again. The TARDIS all but cried in his mind, I've been so worried about you both, Doctor!

Donna looked up, numbly noting all the people now surrounding her. Where did they all come from...?

Then he saw all the people who weren't there before. All stuck in the computer, he realized with a start, just like me and- “Donna,” he whispered. Where is she?!

“Doctor.” The whisper escaped Donna's lips as memories of the fake world came back to her.

He hurriedly scanned the room. No gingers anywhere. Not even a false alarm. Oh, Rassilon, how many rooms are there in the Library?!

Donna whipped her head around. Where's that familiar blue pinstriped suit and that brown hair I've grown inexplicably fond of?! The sudden noises made by the dozens of people in the room she appeared in nearly gave her a headache, but she refused to give in. Where is he?!

He trusted that, if everyone was suddenly back in physical form, then the threat from the Vashda Nerada had been somehow neutralized. He also decided – in that same nanosecond – to trust that Jenny was safe. She was a soldier and his daughter – and both enabled her to catch on quickly to keeping safe against danger. He had a mission!

She moved quickly past the people blocking her view of the next room. The one behind her was darker, and she didn't feel safe going in there... yet. She would if she needed to search it, but not before it became necessary. She hoped that everyone was where there was plenty of light to go around, that the danger was well and truly passed.

He turned again, struggling to not give himself whiplash. He rushed up to a ladder and climbed for a good look. Nearly a hundred people in the room, but none were her. At least gingers were still rather uncommon in this century, so it shouldn't be too hard to spot her... he hoped. He needed her. And he absolutely needed to be reassured that her experiences were the other side of his... Because I couldn't bear them not being so...

Donna had to push her way out. I'll try every room, however many times it takes! I need to convince him that our feelings were and are real! I refuse to think that it wasn't him I saw!

He jumped down, stumbling over his feet in his panic, and rushed to the next room. He tried to call her name. But his throat wouldn't work.

People hurried out of her way. She acted like a madwoman. But she didn't care; her voice had left her.

Another ladder. More looking... And still nothing!

Another room. More frantic scanning... And no sign of a blue suit!

They each repeated. Several times, without success. Their hearts grew heavy. But they refused to give in. Refused to despair.

She wished that she could directly understand the Old Girl, had a link with her. I would know exactly where to find him!

The TARDIS tried to communicate with him, but his emotions were too jumbled to listen. The Old Girl would've torn her hair out, had she had any... You're so close, she tried to tell him, just slow down!

Donna raced into another room... And slammed into a dark-haired man. She would've stumbled to the ground if he hadn't clasped her arms and righted her back onto her feet. “Ma'am, are-”

And then she looked up at him, which rendered him unable to make a sound. “Oh, hi,” she murmured. “Thanks,” she added when he didn't immediately let go, “but I-I'm looking for someone-”

At that moment, the Doctor ran into the room, and skidded to a stop when he saw ginger hair...

She turned at the sound, and their eyes finally met. Their bodies froze, but their hearts felt like they were trying to claw out. Each saw the desperate longing in the other's eyes...

It broke the stalemate. They nearly knocked a few people over bolting to each other.

She all but dove into his arms, and he all but fell upon her. How they were still standing, no one around them could guess. The impact should've knocked them off balance... but he had paused just enough to use her momentum to turn them around – so he was between Donna and that man he vaguely noticed...

He buried his nose in her hair, noting all the scents that made up Donna on a daily basis. Scents he couldn't remember being there in that computer world... Nor did all the touch sensations exist... Her warmth... Her precious single heart, full with enough compassion for the entire universe... and for him!

She breathed in his scents at neck level, thinking she'd pass out from the relief of smelling those exotic details – including the not-so exotic smell of honey she'd always detected when hugging him – that she'd come to associate with comfort and feeling loved. Never had a pinstriped suit felt so good to have under her hands!

People moved around them, and they vaguely registered some announcement: “Transport vessels are approaching. Please wait until this room is called upon to head to the Reception Area to teleport to incoming ships. Thank you for coming to the Library.”

That prodded them to separate, but only enough to look into each other's eyes. The Doctor looked deep into the infinitely expressive eyes of the human woman had triggered so many emotions in him, and whispered, sounding like a small child who needed a safe haven, “Do you remember what happened... inside the computer?” Please, Rassilon, let the Donna I encountered be the one in front of me, please...!

Donna saw the uncertainty, and tightened her hold; not even her fears could prevent her from comforting her Spaceman in his need for reassurance. Oh, you really are still insecure about this, aren't you...? “I lived an experience,” she whispered back, barely managing a calm tone, “where my real memories had been used to create a world where I went around the Isles – helping people – with a wonderful if daft partner, who completely captured my heart.”

His breath hitched, and he froze. His thoughts ground to a louder halt than the TARDIS' breaks.

Her expression went infinitely soft. “But you know that, don't you? What I don't know is whether it felt natural to you for us to be be married, to have a family. I remember you trying to cling to what you felt was a better world for you. I thought you believed me when I said that our feelings were real...”

The Doctor blushed, and swallowed a lump that somehow instantly manifested in his throat. “I... I wanted to believe... I've just lost so much that... it seems like I was tempting fate to act on... what I feel.”

Tears started falling from Donna's eyes, and she pulled him back into a tight hug. “I'm not going to pretend that I don't know how that feels, but it hurts me to see you so scared.”

His eyes slammed closed, and his arms tightened. He couldn't speak, could only hang on to her.

She clutched back, trying to pour all of her heart into the hug. “I'm scared, too, Spaceman. I get that this... difference between how... we age makes things seem... what? Insurmountable?”

Can't clutch her any harder, he told himself. I might hurt her... He barely managed to nod against her hair.

Donna hesitated before drawing one hand around to cup his cheek, to make him meet her eyes. Parts of the talk we have to have need to be in private, she knew, but I think that some things can't be delayed any longer. “But we have to face it, don't we? Because things really are going to be different now, aren't they?”

He nodded slowly. “I don't want us to even try to keep doing what we were. Not that either of us could...” That admission cost him, but what else could he say?

She found a tiny smile, trying to draw him out of that depression she could see brewing. Because I'm heading that way, too, unless I do something... “I think we both had... particular notions about what we wanted, and... the Universe had something else in mind.” Her smile turned wry. “And we were both stubborn idiots trying to deny what was growing between us.”

He snorted, lightly – despite the heavy mood surrounding them, and the public setting they were in. Thank Rassilon no one's bothering to come near us... “Think things would've been easier had I just admitted outright – maybe from that first... adventure – what trouble emotions give me?”

Donna found a real laugh. She couldn't help it; he was looking a little too pathetically cute over the question. She shrugged. “A bit. That whole thing by my car wasn't a finer moment for either of us.” She looked a bit pointedly at him. “For you particularly,” she added, grinning a little more.

Sighing, the Doctor pulled her completely back into the hug. The tight embrace drew tears to both. “So we have to be find a way to make sure we'll be okay eventually, Donna. Truly all right, and not what I've been claiming it means.” I know she'd comment on that, any other day...

She sniffled a little, and nuzzled her face into his shoulder. She needed the moment of composure so she could say something she suddenly needed to say with an even voice. “I want you to know that I told Martha that I intend to travel with you forever.” Her hand molded just a little more to his face when his eyes flickered with a correction. “I know that my meaning and yours are different, but this is too important. My old wishes about having a family are insignificant compare with making sure that you're taken care of. I can live with Joshua and Ella being as close as I'll ever come to...” She couldn't finish the sentence; her throat clenched too tightly as the memory of them disappearing from their beds flashed before her.

He knew what she meant, and just knew he was seeing the same memory she was at that moment. What would become of them was now the elephant in the room – a phrase he'd always wondered about but once again put to the back burner. And it had to be addressed – soon. For once, he thought, my lack of real patience might be useful... He pulled back just enough to look at her, releasing one hand to tilt her face upward, coaxing her eyes to meet his. The tears in her eyes, over the realization that there was part of that old dream that she still wanted but would willingly put aside for the sake of the person she loved, tugged something deep in his hearts.

There was only one path to take now... even if it meant making himself completely vulnerable to hurt. “I don't know how we're going to make things work,” he whispered back. “I know nothing about making a relationship work, and I'm scared of screwing things up permanently between me and the best thing to ever happen to me.” Seeing more tears fall from her lovely eyes gave him the courage to be strong for her. “But the one thing I do know, Donna, is that I'm willing to go to the ends of time to find a way of giving you that future you always wanted... and that I want... desperately... for it to be with me. I don't think there's anything that I wouldn't do for you...”

Donna's tears started falling, unnoticed. The weight inside was growing lighter, and she found the strength to pull her arms around so she could rest her hands over his hearts. All she could say, though, was a whisper: “And I'd do anything to make your burdens easier for you. We'd be in this together, as partners in every way.”

He couldn't speak, and some very male part of him – that he didn't even realize he even had until just then – didn't want even the woman he loved to see how much he was about to cry. So he adjusted his hand to softly cup her face and leaned down to place the softest kiss on her lips... Which slowly grew into something infinitely more tender than even in their shared dream as she returned it. Her arms drew around him, hands resting on his back – over his ecstatic hearts – as they each tightened their hold on the other.

Here was a future worth fighting for. They would learn to treasure the world CAL created for them, for it made the rest of their shared life – wherever it took them – possible.

Although he could've said how long their moment lasted, the Doctor was barely aware of the numbers when the kiss ended and their foreheads rested against each other. Never had he felt so... content... as he did in that moment, and – if Donna's expression was anything to go by – apparently the feeling was mutual.

She wanted to stay in the moment, but Donna knew that they couldn't. “We need to let Jenny know about this,” she whispered.

His eyebrows slowly raised, showing how dazed he was from the whole experience. “Including...?” He didn't dare voice a mention of what else they'd had inside the computer; the wounds were still too raw.

Swallowing a lump away, Donna nodded. She, too, couldn't say it... yet.

After several long seconds, he returned the nod, acknowledging the necessity of her thought. But he couldn't talk any further. It might be an escape, but he felt compelled to kiss her again. To re-establish their connection. And she was only too willing to let him...

After all, given their emotional states, it felt like a lifeline to both...

The other occupants of the room pretty much ignored them. Humans kissing in public in the fifty-first century? Happened all the time. Nothing to stare at.

Except for one man... He had gone to the Library under an assumed name because he wanted an escape from the life he had been leading. Having a stammer still didn't make anyone popular, and it was unacceptable in his social circle.

So he had entered the Library with his plan intact. Although CAL saw his real name: Lee McAvoy.

When the beautiful ginger had run into him, he wanted to curse his stammer once again. Only when he met someone new that he really wanted to talk with did it kick in so completely. So continuing to hold on to her arms had seemed his only chance until he could force a few words out.

But, just his luck, she was already with someone. That equally frantic man in the blue suit acted as desperately in love with her as she seemed to be with him.

Lee really hoped that man deserved such devotion. He just knew a woman like that should be treated like a queen...

Felman Lux might have seemed unobservant to most, but a man didn't make it to where he had without learning to catalog what he saw. The family business simply demanded that you remain alert to what happened around you. He looked around, watching as the first people began to teleport to the first rescue vessel – which he'd had on stand-by in case there had been anything to recover. Who would have thought, he reflected with a smile, that we'd recover everyone?! I hope the others would consider this a better outcome than we could've imagined...

Some of the saved wanted to help, so the controls were being manned by others. Which left Mr. Lux the option of walking around to inspect some of the other rooms – and remind the stragglers to come to the central location. So he was taking what might be the last looks anyone in his family would get of CAL's home.

Then he noticed two people he'd thought were lost forever. But a second look stopped him from calling out to them. He watched as they clung to each other like the universe would end at any moment. Like they'd thought the other was lost to them forever. Lips locked in a tender desperation.

Mr. Lux's eyebrows bounced in surprise, and he tried to look back on what he remembered of their behavior from before. It isn't making much sense, he thought. I wonder what they dreamed of...

Jenny was running harder than she'd ever done before. The Old Girl was telling her where to go, and it took everything to not let the tears fall again. So close, so close, so close...! Then she spotted, in the distance, a blue suit and ginger hair in a ponytail. Two words erupted from her mouth: “Mum! Dad!

She was too distraught to notice the details that – any other time – would've forced her to suppress a squeal.

Donna and the Doctor turned toward the welcome voice. Never had a scream sounded so sweet. They would have answered, but neither could make their throats produce noise. So they reached out – keeping one arm on each other as a reflex as he braced them both – to the barreling blond who latched an arm around their respective necks, clinging like a barnacle.

“Oh, thank God,” Jenny choked as she collapsed against them, and immediately felt everything she'd been holding inside flow right out through her eyes. “You're both alive! You're safe!” And she choked on her words as the tears unleashed like a tsunami.

Her parents, even though her arms were all but cutting off their air supply – which was only a problem for Donna, wrapped her into a big group hug. Of course, they were equally at a loss for words.

After all, neither of them could even think of saying that “Mum and Dad are here”...

They held Jenny for the longest time. The Doctor's time sense began to reassert itself, although he pushed the knowledge of how long they stood there aside. He knew that Donna was worrying about the same thing he was: What happened while they were in the computer?

He started paying attention again when a throat cleared nearby. He looked in that direction, ready to snap at whoever was ruining the reunion. Until he saw a tired and relieved Mr. Lux. “It's good to see you both,” the man said, a happy exhaustion in his tone. “We lost five good people today saving these others.”

Jenny suddenly pulled herself together a bit, and drew back – while keeping a hand on each of her parents. “They're not completely lost,” she forced out, struggling to keep her cracking voice even. “CAL was able to save the ones caught by the Vashta Nerada.”

Donna interrupted. “We saw Miss Evangelista!”

Jenny's tears started falling again. “They'll all have a chance to be happy again. The only one she couldn't save was River, but I uploaded her myself.”

That drew her parents' eyes to her, but she didn't notice. Her own were downcast, especially when she whispered, “It was the least I could do when she willingly gave up her past for the sake of our future.” And she broke down again, falling against her parents.

Who could only exchange a completely bewildered look...

The Doctor strolled slowly back to where he left Donna and Jenny sitting in the Reception area. The TARDIS had guided him back to where he'd left his coat. He couldn't remember when he took it off, which was completely unlike him, except he'd never been so worried for anyone's safety. He'd only been able to do it because he'd coaxed Jenny into giving back the Sonic, and gotten something out of her that suggested that the Vashta Nerada were no longer a threat.

He would figure that one out later. But he was surprised to realize what a potent tool that one setting was. That light had seemed unnatural to him, and he hadn't seen a clear use for it – except maybe to blind someone. When he'd walked away to recover his coat, he paused when he saw a shadow that seemed a little darker than it should've been.

He had aimed the Sonic, and depressed that setting. The shadow burned, and some vapors appeared – and he recoiled at the sight. Jenny had stumbled onto a weapon against an enemy that there hadn't been a defense against – other than running and avoiding shadows... He wasn't sure how he felt about it or what he thought of it yet; there were too many other things to sift through, and his daughter's well-being topped the list.

Glad to have my coat back, he thought. Seeing that room again had sent chills throughout his body, especially knowing that Miss Evangelista's remains were in the next room. He'd left much quicker than he came. There were almost no good memories within that room.


He glanced at the transport area, seeing that they'd managed 509 transports so far. They needed a total of 1341 to get everyone out of the Library – including Mr. Lux, who said he wouldn't leave until everyone else was safely aboard one of the transport ships. So he would leave with the last two survivors of that fateful day 100 years ago.

He found his girls curled against each other on one of the couches. Donna held Jenny with infinite tenderness. His hearts twisted again upon seeing how Jenny had buried her face in her mother's neck, and clung to her like she was trying to hide from the universe. We have a long journey ahead of us, he sighed silently.

From her seat, Donna heaved a heavy breath of relief when he walked into the room. She whispered to the scared girl in her arms, “Dad's back, safe and sound.” She just got a sniffle and a squeeze as an answer. So we'll have to sit around a while longer, she knew, until everyone's out. I would urge that myself, but Jenny insisted...

As the Doctor approached, Donna saw someone move to catch his attention. She flinched when the Doctor looked up and found himself staring right into the face of the man who she ran into earlier. The one who couldn't say a word once he saw her face. Wish I could think it was because he believed that I'm beautiful...

She saw the man say something to the Doctor, motioning in her direction, but his face was at the wrong angle for her to try to read his lips. And another person walked in the way, preventing her from seeing how the Doctor answered. The dark-haired man nodded, said something else, and then walked to join the line for transport. The Doctor seemed extremely thoughtful as he walked up to join them, and sat on Jenny's other side.

Then Jenny pulled away from her mother to cling just as tightly to her father. A reflex, he knew, from my being away just now...

Donna waited for Jenny to settle again, and watched as that man and two others were teleported away. Although he looked her way as he left... Once Jenny seemed calmer, with her father holding her tightly and stroking the side of her head, Donna was able to softly ask the new burning question. “What did he say to you?”

I see now I was in the right place at the right time, the Doctor realized, to beat everyone else to seeing how special she is... He took a deep breath, trying to shake the unease he felt. “He said that you're clearly extremely special, and that he hoped I knew how lucky I am to have you.”

You don't really have me, Spaceman... Yet... “And what did you say?”

He looked deeply into her eyes. “'I do.'”

Donna wanted to cry over the conviction in his voice, the determination to find a way to make things work out. “What did he say to that, before he walked away?”

He swallowed, remembering the intensity of the other man's expression. How it made him shudder over the thought of losing her to another... “He said, 'Then always take care of her.'” He kept looking into her eyes, afraid to look away for fear she'd misinterpret him. “And I'll always do whatever I can...”

She did cry then. She rested one hand over his forearm, and the other on Jenny's shoulder... reaching out to her little family...

Jenny was so out of it with grief, she didn't hear a word of the exchange. She sense they were talking, but nothing registered in her mind...

Finally, 1340 teleports had happened. The final one was ready. The last two men saved by CAL waited for Mr. Lux to exchange goodbyes. The man who had thought he needed to keep everything about CAL secret was too happy to shake the hand of the day's savior. “You were put in an impossible situation, Miss Jenny,” he said, “but you did much better than many would have. You found a solution, even in the face of your own grief.”

Jenny was barely able to let her father's arm go to accept and return the gesture. “As glad,” she replied softly, so the others wouldn't overhear, “as I am that CAL won't be so lonely, I wish I could've done more for the others.”

Mr. Lux could appreciate the struggle the young lady was going through, and would go through for some time. “Know that I believe that Professor Song forgave you. I hope you're soon able to forgive yourself.”

She just lowered her head, unable to meet his gaze. Too much weighing on her mind.

Donna managed a smile, and extended her left hand – as Jenny wouldn't let go of her right arm – for a goodbye. “We're glad your family's legacy is safe. That we were able to help.”

Mr. Lux ruefully smiled. “I'm sorry I didn't trust you all sooner. This... was very important to my grandfather.” He turned to face the Doctor, and shook his hand. “Professor Song was right in a way; you and your family are the story I will tell for the rest of my life. Thank you.”

Given this incarnation's readiness with words, this was one of the few times the Doctor couldn't find anything fitting to say. Of course, I'm a bit more concerned with what will happen after we return to the TARDIS, so I suppose I have an excuse...

With one last look, Mr. Lux joined the other two on the platform. The Doctor flipped the lever, and the last three people were gone. So they turned to return home. The adventure was over. The aftermath was a mystery...

Jenny wasn't looking forward to explaining what happened, especially what she and River had talked about while setting up River's tomb (she couldn't think of it in any other way now), and then a little about what she and CAL spoke about before uploading River's consciousness into the computer. There were some parts of that conversation that Jenny had to keep to herself. She either needed more time to process them, or they invited questions that she wasn't ready to answer. Especially about the plan...

The whole day was a lot for even the Doctor to absorb – and he'd had a full day of new information to process already. He heaved a heavy sigh. Remembering that the Professor had known some future him, he muttered under his breath, “I hope my song won't end anytime soon.”

Jenny vaguely heard it, and frowned. What is he talking about...?

“Maybe,” Donna speculated, also forgetting that they hadn't told that story yet, “Ood Sigma meant something else. Like some part of your song was ending soon. Perhaps he foresaw... Jenny.” She didn't dare voice that he might have seen the... other... development – a new relationship – coming, not in front of Jenny. But, going by the quick raised eyebrow the Doctor sent her way (over Jenny's head), he was wondering about that.

The Doctor and Donna were grateful that the TARDIS was right there, and they increased the pace by tacit agreement. “Oh, home, sweet home,” Donna exclaimed. The profound relief of this adventure ending threatened to overwhelm her body, and she knew that she and the Doctor needed to talk a bit more. Although she kind of wanted a little more breather space first; they had to get as much distance between them and the Library as possible – quickly.

Besides, their daughter needed them. They could put things aside for a bit to ensure her mental well-being...

Jenny suddenly stopped them. “Wait. River said... something...” She worked her right arm free of her father's, and raised it to shoulder level, aiming her hand at the TARDIS doors. And snapped her fingers.

The doors opened for them, and Jenny – despite everything – beamed in child-like delight. Donna's eyes popped wide, and the Doctor – in his surprise – went all blustery. “What?! You can't do that!”

“Well,” Jenny retorted, with a hint of smug airiness, “I just did. Come on!” She grabbed them both and dragged them inside – eager to be home. He looked back once inside, and – not wanting to be outdone – tried it himself. When the doors closed after them, he could only stare in stunned, frozen silence at his ship's entrance.

Donna decided to create a distraction. “Innit time to get into the Vortex?” Although his face is quite the picture...

It snapped him out of the stupor, which Donna and Jenny would treasure for a long time. Once the three of them flew the Old Girl away, Jenny started flagging. She felt her whole body becoming heavy, and a bad headache starting.

Then she felt both of her parents take her arms again. “Okay, love,” her father crooned, “let's go to your room. You get ready for bed, and your Mum and I will be right back...”

Before she knew it, she was in her bathroom, having been gently pushed inside with a pair of green flannel jim-jams. Feels strangely good, she thought absently as she changed quickly, to not have to think for a while... She threw her day's clothes into the TARDIS' special hamper so they could be cleaned. How am I going to be able to rest...?

When she came out, she saw her parents sitting on the bed, space in-between them for her. Her father had set up some tea, and her mother was holding a hairbrush. He'd shed his jacket and tie, she'd lost her gray top layer, and both had clearly tossed their shoes aside.

“Come 'ere,” Donna said, patting the empty space. “Time to let us take care of you, all right?”

Jenny could read the order in the motions and words, so she slowly walked over. When she sat, her father handed her a cup of her favorite tea, and then she felt the band holding her hair back get pulled off. Her mother gently ran the brush through, ever so slowly. If this is being babied, Jenny thought absently, then I'll take it right now...

The Doctor waited for Jenny to take a long sip – he'd made sure the tea had cooled to drinkable temperature – before speaking, as delicately as possible. “We need to know what happened, Jenny.”

I knew I couldn't hide forever, but I'd hoped I'd have longer than this... Jenny took a deep breath. Must get through this quickly... “I ran back to find one of Proper Dave's shadows gone. As I scanned, he lost his vision. He faded fast, but that swarm figured out how to manipulate the suits. River had to blast our way out with a Squareness Gun.”

The Doctor felt a mix of cringing and being a bit impressed. “Haven't seen one of those in decades...”

Donna snorted. Always fascinated with technology... “Go on, sweetheart.”

Jenny swallowed more tea first – part of her wondering about the odd flavor, but too tired to care. “When we thought we'd found a resting place, I confiscated her Sonic; I didn't trust her story about getting it from a future you. Then I... realized you weren't on board... and we soon saw your faces...”

Donna stopped brushing to wrap her arms around Jenny, who choked on her words. The Doctor pulled them both into an embrace. Both adults waited for her to recover enough to speak.

It took a good minute before Jenny could. When they felt her breathing even out a bit, Donna resumed brushing, and the Doctor placed a hand on his little girl's shoulder. Jenny cleared her throat. “River stopped me from falling. She heard me whisper your names, and felt my heartbeats. When we were momentarily safe again, after more running and a few more blasts of her gun, she... mildly confronted me about it when I was trying to scan. Her Sonic stopped working, and yours wasn't working right. I yelled at her, and then... somehow... all of a sudden... she knew my name.”

Donna's eyebrows bounced, and the Doctor's did a rather good Vulcan impression. They exchanged a rather large WTF expression over Jenny's head.

“More confusing, her memories and her journals words were faded. River couldn't remember details about her time with the future you. I only knew that the universe was trying to compensate, and hoped that it might that I could get you both back... While I was trying to figure out the Library's situation, you two suddenly appeared to us. That distracted us... and I think it got Anita infected...”

Both adult flinched. They, too, had liked Anita...

“When we got her helmet on, I tried tinting it to trick that swarm. Of course, Sleketon Proper Dave was still following us. We ran again, but I got sick of it and decided to get some information from that suit.” She frowned. “You know, Dad, we're gonna talk sometime about these little things I've inherited from you! I can't believe how reckless you can be!”

Not so much since I met your mother, he thought. Aloud, he merely said, “What did you do?”

“I tried that setting I mentioned. The one you wouldn't touch? Well, its light stopped the suit in its tracks. When it figured out how to talk, I found out that these swarm had laid its eggs in the trees that were used to create the books.”

The Doctor face-palmed himself. “Oi! I should've realized! I'm too thick!”

Donna sighed, deciding that Jenny's hair was fine now and tossed the brush aside. “We'll deal with that later, Sunshine.” When Jenny turned to look quizzically at her, she smiled fondly. “What then?”

Jenny dropped her head. “River had made Other Dave stay with me. Guess she feared that I might be too much like you, despite my warning that I'm not as reckless. I wasn't paying enough attention, and... they got him, too.”

She got a crash course in what it's like to be me... The Doctor wished she could've avoided the experience for a while yet, and mourned the loss of her relative innocence.

“But I'd detected a trap door, and used it to escape. I caught up with the others in time to hear River make comments that I found really insulting to you and to your nine previous selves. I let her have it... but not before I slapped her.” When her father's eyes flashed in disapproval, her hackles raised a bit. “Oi, I couldn't help it! I felt pushed to the end of my limits!”

Donna sighed. “Guess you've picked up some of my habits.”

The Doctor heaved a breath through his nose. “I can't say I'm surprised. I must have known that I couldn't get you to keep a promise to avoid causing any harm...”

Jenny ignored the latter part. Instead, she took another big sip, and swallowed her version of liquid courage. “It was only when Anita asked about what River had said to me – my name – that I realized what the message from a hundred years ago meant. CAL, the computer, tried to transport everyone out at once, and – since she had nowhere else to put them safely – saved everyone within her system.”

The Doctor let out an impressed almost laugh. “That is brilliant!” Then he frowned. “Ooh, but that had to be hard on the system...”

Jenny nodded slowly “Especially because the computer is sentient.”

Donna, wide-eyed, beat the Doctor to the verbal punch. “What?!”

Sighing, Jenny went back to the story. “But the autodestruct somehow activated. We couldn't override it except inside the Core. River knew a quick way. Down there, Mr. Lux showed us the real secret he'd been protecting...” She swallowed the last of her tea in a hurry, needing the fortification. “His aunt, his grandfather's youngest child, was dying. So her living mind was placed in the computer, where she could be surrounded by the books she loved, and left alone.”

Donna made the connection. “The little girl we saw?! That was CAL?!”

“Charlotte Abigail Lux,” Jenny softly corrected. “She saved everyone, and needed our help. I knew we had to transport everyone back into the Library. Fortunately, I figured out something from that Sonic setting to make sure the swarm couldn't attack. I didn't trust them to let anyone pass – not when I knew it had eaten Anita and was keeping her suit going.”

The Doctor sighed and bit his lip. “I'm not sure I like where this is going, but I can't say that I don't understand the sentiment.”

Donna cleared her throat. “Did it have to do with those... tiny floating balls your Dad noticed?”

Jenny nodded. “I found a way to generate the same light within them. So they could create enough safe places that we could get everyone out. Problem? CAL lacked the memory space to make the transfer... so someone had to give theirs.”

The Doctor flinched. “Did you make her-?”

“No!” Jenny's shout startled all of them – including the TARDIS. She'd never raised her voice within the ship before. And it felt a lot more draining than the entire meltdown in the shop. “No, I couldn't. I... I did think about it, but I knew I couldn't. And not just because of my promise, Dad. I... thought that I might've messed too much with history, and that I... wasn't supposed to live much longer. But River wouldn't let me. She said her memories were back, but she also remembered another past. This one had Mum and me in it!”

The words tumbled out like a waterfall. “Despite my destroying the past she'd known, she trusted me enough to sacrificing it all for our sakes...! Despite all the things that happened to her family that gave her good reason to hate me! She wouldn't let me die because she said the new time-line was too important to change. And then she was gone in a blinding white light, leaving her skeleton in that suit, and I could feel you two again... And then CAL talked with me, telling me about saving the others, and encouraging me to upload River when I discovered that the Sonic that I'll apparently give her would let me do that! And then she asked for your forgiveness for meddling with your memories...” She choked, fearing what would happen if she said anything more. It helped that she broke into sobbing again.

In tacit unison, her parents drew her into the most loving embrace they could manage with their own jumbled feelings. Which, given who they were, was still more than many could hope for...

Jenny, however, soon found her tears slowing as she felt her body getting more exhausted. But she'd never felt quite like this before... “Dad,” she whispered, feeling her eyes getting heavy, “what was in my tea...?”

I was wondering how long it'd take her to ask... “A Gallifreyan sleeping aid,” he answered, lightly dragging Jenny up so Donna could pull back the covers. “It makes it impossible to remember any nightmares – or even feel their effects.” He and Donna helped Jenny into bed, and drew the covers back over her.

It was impossible to not think of their last moments with Joshua and Ella. But this girl needed them to pamper her, and this was what she needed. “You need rest, love,” Donna soothed, “and your Dad wasn't going to let the monsters of the mind keep you from getting it. You'll have a good night's sleep, and we'll start fresh tomorrow.”

Jenny wanted to ask a few questions, but between the warmth of the bed and the effects of whatever her father had put in her tea and the near-lullaby that the TARDIS was humming in her mind, she couldn't keep her eyes open. Her last conscious thought was, What did I do to earn parents like this...?

Donna stroked Jenny's loose hair over the pillow as they waited for her breathing to even out. Her eyes widened when it took less than ten more seconds. “That was fast,” she whispered. “Does that usually happen?”

The Doctor sighed. “No, but she's young. She needs more rest to function than I do.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Now you're talking bullocks again.”

He opened his mouth to protest, but he froze upon seeing the skeptical look. So he merely nodded. “Well, I got used to functioning on less sleep than is probably ideal. Lots of nightmares to avoid...”

Donna's eyes softened. “Not anymore,” she vowed. “I'm here, and I will share whatever burden necessary for you to feel lighter.”

He fought it, but his eyes watered anyway. So he reached over their sleeping Soldier to clasp Donna's hand. “What did I do to get you into my life...?”

Her cheeks flushed slightly. “Be your typical daft, pompous, know-it-all self that happens to have a much bigger pair of hearts than you give yourself credit for.”

Their hands grasped more tightly. They'd probably fall asleep here; neither wanted to leave Jenny's side, and being apart from each other was not an option.

Somehow... they would find a way to make this work. However long it took...


Sequel: Nothing to Any Purpose That the World Can Say Against It


Jul. 21st, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Oh, that was truly epic kissage....I love Donna's line about wanting to ease his burdens and them being partners in everything. That in the end they didn't want to leave Jenny, but couldn't bear to be apart, so rested in quiet family-ness. The whole thing was just beautiful.
Jul. 21st, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
Well, with the spoilers from bas_math_girl, I couldn't help but add some major kissage. ;D

It's going to be the quietest night in all of the Doctor's history. But what else could he do? That was enough excitement to last a lifetime - even for him! And he would do anything for his girls. Especially when his little girl needs comforting.

Thank you for reviewing! Stay tuned for the sequel and the next Shakespearean idea!

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