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Title: From Ashes to a Phoenix

Rating: At the moment, T (emotional hardships, and later some suggestive implications). There's a shot that at least part of this story will jump to a strong M rating. We'll see as it develops.

Summary: “The Belted Doctor.” supplement: The story of Donna Belle, of Pete's World. How she lost her family, nearly lost herself, and was reborn with the right support.

Disclaimer: The simple matter of this fan-verse's existence should prove my lack of ownership. Capish?

Dedication: To MonkeesDoctorWho1987, whose review planted the seed of this story. So if you're getting sick of this universe, you know who to blame. (grins) Anyway, thanks for the idea. It allowed me to flesh out some other events within this universe when the tone of TBD didn't allow for it. Well, the truth is that I didn't want TBD to grow past 90 pages on my word processor...

Author's Note: Wow... This chapter was tricky to write at first, and I kept having to walk away from it. But then I resumed this practice called "mind dumping" first thing in the morning, and then that first morning I did it, I finished this chapter! Yes!

I must admit... I think I'm getting sick of this fic-verse. But I want to finish this story; it's easier to move on to new stories with fewer WIPs.

That said, I know that more than one of you WILL be asking me to write a particular adventure I allude to here. I promise you: I'll write it when I'm good and ready...

Part One / Part Two / Part Three

PART 4: Victorian London's Savior

A few weeks had made a universe of a difference in Donna Belle Noble's life. She was eating almost normally again – although she couldn't manage as much food as she once had; her body had gotten used to smaller meals. (Which wasn't so bad; when she regained the weight, she would look a bit slender whilst keeping all of her womanly curves.) She was starting to crave the attention and love she was getting from her new family, which showed how tactile she really was. And she was seeing the possibility of doing something entirely new here.

The one person whose presence was starting to mean more than anyone else? James. Not Donna, not her new Mum, or her new Gramps. But the “Duplicate Doctor,” who had become an absolute Godsend to her. Oh, her sister was doing her a world of good, but there was something about having a man treating you like a person and managing to take care of you without making you feel helpless...

Though she wondered why the Doctor kept eying James' behavior... What did he expect his Duplicate to do? Jump her?! She was skin and bones, and a widow who was rebuilding her life! On an entirely different world!

Donna Belle even asked her sister the question, but got a rather cryptic response: “It's complicated, and I promised James that we wouldn't get involved.”

Sometimes her sister was just as mysterious as the alien she'd married. Or rather, was going to marry in just an hour...

Speaking of weddings... She spent some time watching her sister getting help into her dress from their mother. And was fine with it at first...

And then the memories of Shaun and everything and everyone from her old life trickled into her conscious mind... Making her tremble and feel sick...

Even Jenny's stories about how the Doctor was so nervous he was doing a grand impression of someone inches away from flailing like a madman failed to calm her. Yes, she had empathy for him given the stories he'd – reluctantly – admitted to about the past weddings he'd been at or part of, but guilt and fear were making her feel like the room was trying to crush her – body and spirit.

A knock on the door interrupted the preparations. Jenny hurried to see who it was, and snorted after she opened the door. “How is he now, Uncle James? Has Aunt Martha followed through with getting a ball and chain?”

Donna snorted, but Donna Belle couldn't manage a smile. The story had amused her earlier, but now...?

James was let in, his face a mix of concern and the tiniest hint of a smirk. “I swear Lee and I have headed off at least six near-panic attacks.” The smile faded quickly. “He's practically losing his head with worry, and I'm at a loss about what to do now.”

Donna sighed. “Oi, I was afraid of this... Did you have to make that comment that day?!”

James held his hands up, alarmed, “Hey! I said I'm sorry, but do we really want to get into that here?!”

Donna frowned. Yeah, it wasn't a good idea to mention that you thought your brother-in-law might be falling for your new sister because she was – in many ways – you, and he exists because of your husband. Especially in front of said new sister when she was still grieving her late husband and children... And when said brother-in-law seemed ignorant of his own feelings...

Then James noted how uneasy their newest addition was looking. “Donna Belle, are you all right?”

Donna Belle could only shake her head, but she was trying to shake off her stupor. All she could feel was her heart beat faster as she thought about her losses...

James quickly knelt and gently grasped her hands. “Are you sure you want to be here...?” The barest whisper, asking if she wanted an out without outright saying it...

Donna Belle tried to answer, but her throat clenched. Swallowing didn't help.

Sylvia sighed. “Maybe you need some air, sweetheart. You really do look pale.”

The air comment suddenly gave James a brainwave. And he started smiling. “Wait, I've got it! Donna Belle, how about you and I go on a TARDIS adventure? It'll take your mind off this!”

The other women in the room stared at him in shock. But Donna Belle just fixed her eyes on James' expectant ones. “An... adventure... when our siblings are marrying...?”

James' smile turned softer, and his eyes comforting. “There's no reason to go through something – no matter how much your family might want you there – if it's only going to make you... extremely uncomfortable.” No point, he knew, in saying what it was really doing to her...

Donna sighed. “If you're having a hard time right now, maybe the fresh air and a little adventure is just what you need. Remember how much you loved seeing Bath and Jane Austen?”

Donna Belle's lips curved into a tiny grin of remembered pleasure. Even though they'd saved the day, it had ultimately been responsible for the great (then future) author missing out on being happily in love. But Jane Austen herself had understood that sometimes you had to sacrifice what you wanted for the sake of many; her whole life, she had seen evidence of that. Maybe it had fed into her work...

James' face started falling. “How about it...?” He really wanted her to agree; he had never been alone with her – and that appeared to be the Doctor's doing, the cheeky and overprotective sod! – and he was positive that she'd benefit from some time away from everyone else. Especially, he thought, right now...

Suddenly, an escape sounded really good. So Donna Belle nodded. “Just let me change back into regular clothes first.”

“Wait,” Jenny interrupted, holding up a hand. “Uncle James, how are you going to talk Dad into agreeing to this?”

James just grinned confidently...

The Doctor's feet wouldn't let him sit down, despite Lee's best efforts to calm him. The others were simply no help, not even Sarah Jane. He now knew he couldn't count on Martha to be a calming influence, and even the Brig was seeming like not so great a friend at the moment...

Seeing James suddenly entering was both a relief and cause for concern. “How is she? Everything all right?!”

James nearly avoided rolling his eyes, but had to grab his twin by the arms in an attempt to get him to sit. “Donna is fine. Almost perfectly calm, in fact. Wanted me to tell you to sit down before you wear a groove into the floor.”

Those words, combined with a pushing that his twin had never tried before, shocked the Doctor into letting himself be guided to plop on a cushioned chair. The others wondered why they hadn't thought to have Jenny try being the go-between when she left earlier...

James managed to avoid smirking at his success. “Listen, I know you're worried about trouble finding us. Well, I've got an idea. Why don't I take the TARDIS and see if I can draw any possible trouble away from here?”

It took the Doctor a few seconds longer than it should've – even accounting for shock – to register the words. “What?! Off by yourself?!”

“I won't be alone. Donna Belle is coming along.”

The Time Lord's eyes narrowed. Just the two of them...?

The Time Human groaned. “Oi! It's as much for her as it is for you! She's getting overwhelmed by memories, and I thought an adventure would be the perfect medicine. I'll find some place to keep her mind off her past, and she'll keep me out of trouble. Well, too much trouble, knowing that I'm mostly you...”

The Doctor wasn't sure he liked it, since he knew that his twin wasn't exactly aware of his own feelings (like progenitor, like progenitee). But... he was more concerned about this going okay... So... he nodded and sighed. “Just come back, all three of you.”

James smirked. “You couldn't get rid of us if you tried.”

That made the Doctor crack a smile. It reminded him of the day he met Donna...

Jenny wanted to roll her eyes as her parents stared into each other's eyes. As sweet as her Mum's words had been... there was only so much parental PDA she could stand. She wanted to tell them to get a room, but there wasn't exactly sound-proofing in her Great-Gramps' house.

She knew because she'd had to wake her aunt from a nightmare the other evening... She knew that any Donna Noble could scream, but that had given her chills that almost matched seeing her father so... broken... after Midnight...

Sylvia and Wilf exchanged a knowing smile watching the happy couple. It was both moving and amusing to see the usually collected Doctor – yes, he had his hyper moments, but they'd never seen him so emotional that he couldn't speak, and this was a male being who always had something to say – so moved by the moment that his mouth was silenced. Without being kissed.

Donna, not caring about what the others were thinking, could feel that her Spaceman was trying to avoid crying. Well aware of how male he really was (even if he tried to deny it), she wrapped her arms around him and planted a tender one on him. And nearly smiled into the kiss when he almost immediately deepened it.

Jenny groaned aloud. “Not again,” she muttered, leaning into Lee's side.

The older man hid a smile over how obvious a child's discomfort over her parents' actions could be. Sometimes he marveled over the things she was a complete innocent about.

A knock on the door interrupted everything – except the kiss, which the Doctor had no intention of stopping just yet...

Sylvia went to the door, seeing through it that James and Donna Belle were back. She opened it. “About time, you-” And cut herself off upon seeing how pale they both were – especially her new daughter. And noted how she was leaning into him like he was her life support.

“I think we seriously need a cuppa,” James said quietly. “Rough day.”

Sylvia reached for Donna Belle. “Come on, sweetheart. You look cold. Let's get you warmed up.” She was able to draw her out of James' arms and into her own, bringing her inside in the process.

As James handled the door, Jenny poked her head out... and froze. “Oh, my God...” She didn't see that her words prodded her parents into stopping and listening. “What happened...?”

Sylvia guided Donna Belle into the living room, where the others' eyes widened. “Oh, love,” Wilf cried, “you look bit shell-shocked.”

“Might,” Donna Belle whispered, surprising the whole room, “as well be...”

The Doctor looked hard at James. “What happened,” he demanded.

James swallowed. And quietly said, “Cybermen.”

That, after the usual shock, set off a chain reaction. Donna flew up to help her mother and grandfather bundle Donna Belle into some blankets – after she was helped out of her coat and jacket. Lee and Jenny quickly made more tea, and the Doctor was dragging the story of Victorian London out of James.

“But even in her shock,” James said, slightly raising his voice so they all heard, “she managed to focus on helping Jackson Lake and me find our answers and save the children. And she helped me stop the CyberKing.”

Jenny almost didn't ask, but she was a little too curious. “What's that?”

The Doctor looked a little sick. “A giant conversion machine shaped like a Cyberman. Can convert thousands or more at once.”

Donna paled, and grabbed her sister's hands. “Oh, God, we thought we were doing you a favor in encouraging you to have an adventure instead of watching this day...”

Donna Belle, pulling her hands away to accept a teacup from Lee, swallowed. “Actually, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. I mean... I counted myself lucky that I didn't see any of them the last time they were in Pete's World... but I'd always thought I'd freeze completely at seeing them again. Just... let whatever happened happen. But... after a few seconds, all I could think about was stopping them from hurting anyone else. I needed to help others.” She couldn't believe it, but now that she had some distance from the moment, and had heard James' reassurance, she felt yet another “new” feeling. “I'm... I'm really healing... and I didn't see it happening...”

James' shocked smile was the biggest. It was such a promising sign. “I told you you were brilliant.”

Donna Belle looked at him, and smiled gratefully. “I'm not sure I could've done it without you.”

He shrugged, trying to play it off. “Have more faith in yourself.”

The others just noticed the undertones in their actions, body language, and words. And wondered if it was a good thing...

PART FIVE:Wormholes and Revealed Feelings...


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 28th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
Loved it--glad to see it posted here!
Dec. 30th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC)
Yikes, I never answered? My bad. :( Anyway, thank you for noticing it here. :)
Sep. 28th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
Of course it's a good thing!! Donna Belle and James were made for each other. ;D
Dec. 30th, 2015 03:28 am (UTC)
And of course we're not biased. :P
Sep. 28th, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
Ooh, very nice! I would have loved to see the wedding, but since the fic is focused on the other two, I suppose it makes sense to have more of their storyline instead. Love the way the relationship is developing!
Dec. 30th, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)
Thanks. :)

BTW, I read your comments about your trip. Sounds lovely.

And... if you're interested, the Flipped ficverse is on its third story right now. :D
Dec. 29th, 2015 01:07 am (UTC)
Loved seeing that it was James who ran into the victorian doctor and that it helped Donnabelle get over her fears from her previous life. I am bummed we didn't see more of the wedding but that was really handled in the main arc of this story quite beautifully. I can see why the Doctor would be nervous thay James' feelings could only stem from the part of him that came from the Doctor. However I think as usual the Doctor is overanalyzing things and not realizing that though that may have been the basis of James' initial interest there is no reason he wouldn't grow to love her on his own. Cause well Donna Noble is amazing in any universe!

Oh and flipping Rose! I swear I want to slap that tart silly every time I read yet another possible example of how horrid she most likely was in Pete's world. Thankfully in this world she got her just desserts!!
Dec. 30th, 2015 03:27 am (UTC)
Yes, this was Donnabelle and James' story. So... yes, I think you hit it on the nail. :)
Jan. 17th, 2016 10:29 am (UTC)
I am just loving your stories! Had to take a bit of a break cause every story seems to open a rabbit hole of new authors to read and I just keep clicking deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. You have such a great take on Donna and on Jenny I seriously consider some of this now my head canon.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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