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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: Big thanks to bas_math_girl for this edit. I wasn't sure about this chapter...

Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four

PART 5: Wormholes and Revealed Feelings...

Donna's pregnancy meant that it wasn't safe for her to keep at the Doctor's side all the time anymore. So increasingly, the rest of her family had to step up. Usually, that meant Jenny and Lee, as Donna Belle was still mostly keeping to Earth – and James was growing increasingly reluctant to part from her.

Which amused most of the family. The Doctor, on the other hand, was watching for any signs that it wasn't a good thing for Donna Belle. While he knew she was resilient, he had no wish for her to endure any hurt thanks to his twin! In fact, he'd probably feel compelled to throw a punch at James if that happened!

His wife had to keep swatting him in a reminder to behave. So he could frequently be seen rubbing his arms...

But one afternoon when the Doctor detected an anomaly in London itself, James was away helping Martha and Mickey figure some things out for UNIT. Jenny and Lee were having a go at handling TARDIS maintenance. Wilf would have gladly gone, but neither Donna nor Sylvia was willing to let him run off on an adventure. And Donna Belle didn't stand for it, either. And since Sylvia wouldn't leave Donna's side...

So Donna Belle found herself struggling to keep up with the Doctor as he used his hand scanner – if she followed his explanation correctly, he'd modified it since the Aidpose Industries incident which reunited him and her sister – to determine where they needed to go. Her sister hadn't been kidding when she said there was a ridiculous amount of running involved in traveling with the Doctor, but it did help Donna Belle feel closer to being back into a fit state. (She'd almost regained everything she'd lost in her depression.)

Hopping onto a bus, and trying to remind him that not everyone was keen on Easter eggs (she still couldn't believe how much could fit into those pockets and not go bad!), was bad enough. But then to suddenly be on another planet...? And watching the bus driver die needlessly...?

Oh, my God, she'd thought, how are we getting home...?

The thought got stronger when, soon after, the Doctor flinched and nearly stumbled. It'd allowed the dark-haired woman they'd sat next to to take charge. Donna Belle intended to challenge it on their behalf, but then the Doctor – looking paler than she'd ever seen him – whispered that he could feel that Donna was in labor.

Paling, Donna Belle could only make one comment: “She's going to slap the living daylights out of you for not being there...”

The pained look in his eyes was all the answer she needed... And she felt a powerful wish that James could've been there instead; the Doctor could be helping Donna, after all. And... yes, she'd feel better with him there...

Suddenly, the significance of that wish hit her. She was at her calmest and happiest when James was around... He made her laugh the hardest, could provoke the strongest reactions, and... she sometimes just didn't feel quite comfortable without him...

Oh, bugger...! She couldn't possibly be... in love, could she...?

James had just finished helping Martha and Mickey when word came down that a bus had disappeared. Apparently a fugitive with possessions from a gallery was on board. Only the disappearing part caught James' attention, and he hurried to join UNIT on the scene. He was already at Headquarters, after all!

While he was helping Malcolm Taylor – God, he'd thought within a minute of meeting the man, could these scientists just for once not be in the throes of hero-worship?! Because this one would be just fine if he dropped that act! – set up the monitoring system so they could figure out what happened, he got an urgent call from Jenny: “Mum's in labor. We've got Martha on the way – Mickey's driving her. But we can't reach Dad! He left his phone in the TARDIS! We tried Aunt Donna Belle, but we can't get through!”

James wasn't happy about any of that. As much as he understood that Donna Belle was the next best thing for the Doctor to have by his side to keep him out of trouble, he was in a near-panic at the news. He couldn't stop thinking about what might go wrong since he couldn't be there to protect her...

And although James was able to function enough to keep going, part of his mind could only focus on a stunning realization. The Doctor had seen much more clearly than James had been able to in the... circumstances... The Time Lord had suspected from the start where James' feelings were heading, and now the Time Human's breath was taken away as he realized that he, too, had fallen completely in love with a Donna Noble...

As soon as Jenny hung up, he promptly tried dialing Donna Belle's number. If his suspicions were right, then his own proximity to the wormhole should let his call get through...

The ringing grated his nerves as he eyed the readings before him. But he only had to hear two before it cut off. “James! Are you in the TARDIS?!”

Donna Belle! He forced back his sigh of relief. “No, but I am in a UNIT command post near the wormhole. Where are the two of you?!”

“I... I don't know... and neither does he.” Her hesitation spoke volumes, but the lowered tone said that she didn't want the others around to overhear. Always thinking about keeping the peace, he realized.

Sighing, he opened his mouth to speak, but his brother's voice broke in – its owner apparently having grabbed the phone. Which launched James into a back-and-forth over the uncertain condition of the bus, the alarming state of the planet they were on, and the concerns of the psychic woman on board the bus. But at least everyone seemed like they were good in a crisis, so he had hope that a solution could be found. Maybe UNIT had something they could fly through, giving them the supplies they'd need to bring the bus and everyone on it home...

If nothing else, they could detect where in space and time they were, and Jenny and Lee could go collect them with the TARDIS. James carried that in the back of his head as the Doctor announced that he and Donna Belle were heading toward some strange readings he was picking up on.

And prayed that this wouldn't be one of those awful days when everything went wrong...

Stepping on Earth had never been such a relief to the Doctor. Getting back to Donna was within sight! Oh, he had to yank Donna Belle from having to go through any “processing,” but he supposed there were some perks to still being considered part of UNIT.

Even though the soldiers and officers still insisted on saluting him. And the scientists had their own awe-struck reactions... Being hugged by a man who wasn't gay or... flexible? That was a first...

He was really grateful to Donna Belle for being there. She'd helped him keep a level head, and figure out things that needed doing.

She also kept Lady Christina at a distance. If not for her, he might've had to endure yet another woman kissing him. As it was, he'd flinched when the thief – really, he could use the label because this aristocrat was taking it to an art form that made him worry about just what River was going to become – called him 'Spaceman.' Donna Belle had promptly taken exception: “Oi! Only my sister and I have the right to call him that!” Or the lovely pointing at his left ring finger moment while they were walking: “That's my sister's ring he's wearing, you stuck up slag!”

He had to hide a smile over her efforts to protect her sister's claim. Oh, he could've handled it, but what a lovely entertainment it'd been to just let her do it...!

Not that he could admit to it... Donna herself might slap him for that kind of cheek... Blimey, Donna Belle might even beat her to it...!

The way the UNIT members on-site responded to him distracted him from properly noting how James had rushed forward to greet them. Especially the way that he and Donna Belle clutched each other in their reunion hug – too choked for words. Instead, he was too distracted by casually explaining what ought to be done, including encouraging Captain Magambo to consider giving Nathan and Barcley a chance to earn a place in UNIT. The lads were very good in the crisis, and deserved a second chance.

And then having to explain to Lady Christina that, no she couldn't come with them. “Because there's already two reckless people traveling in the TARDIS,” he explained, pointing to himself and to James. At the shocked look when the aristocratic career criminal saw the resemblance, he shrugged. “My brother.” But he did ask the detective who had been waiting for the chance to arrest Lady Christina to speak with UNIT and Torchwood about whether either agency was willing to have the woman work for them as an alternative to a jail sentence. “Those breaking and entering abilities might be useful in thwarting some future threat...”

The detective wasn't thrilled, but Captain Magambo was willing to consider it. “It's the best I can do, Lady Christina,” the Doctor told the disbelieving aristocrat. Eventually, he figured she would be fine with it...

All further talk – including from the policeman – was temporarily silenced as the TARDIS appeared. “Oh, thank Rassilon!” The Doctor's relieved exclamation made James smirk. “I do need to get home!”

The doors suddenly opened, and a frazzled Jenny stormed out – marching right up to her father, who suddenly went very pale. The Time Lady stopped and folded her arms in a manner identical to Donna. “This is a direct quote, Dad: 'If that bloody alien doesn't get his skinny arse in here within two minutes of this landing, I might slap him into his next regeneration!'” She even imitated her mother...

It would've gotten him inside immediately. Except someone spoke. “Doctor,” Carmen – the woman with extraordinary psychic abilities – said, staring at him with the look of someone who had bad news, “you take care now.”

He mustered a smile, although it was a bit forced knowing that Donna had to be at the end of her patience. “You, too. Chops and gravy, lovely!”

“No,” Carmen insisted. “But you be careful. Sir, although I see you living for many years yet, your base song will soon end.”

That made a number of people freeze. But none more than the Doctor, James, and Jenny. Even Donna Belle felt her inside go cold – and she wasn't sure what this song talk meant...

“It is returning,” Carmen told him. “It is returning through the dark. And then, Doctor – oh, but then...” She paused for a moment, creating a silence far more frightening than any words, and finally said, “He will knock four times.”

The Doctor stared at her, completely pale. Remembering Ood Sigma's words, and wondering how much that telepath could see of the future... Unable to offer his own daughter any comfort from the terror of being reminded that she could lose him – or anyone she loved – at any moment...

Donna Belle grasped James' trembling hand tightly, trying to be supportive. But then Carmen turned her eyes on her, and surprised them all with a warm smile. “Do not let fear ruin things, Ma'am.” Her gaze flickered down briefly. “Happiness is in your grasp.”

And the ginger could only stare in disbelief, watching as Carmen slowly turned and followed her husband and a UNIT officer toward wherever they were headed.

The Doctor, desperate for an escape, rushed inside the TARDIS, throwing his coat off and over a railing as he let the Old Girl guide him to Donna. Rassilon, I shouldn't be thinking about this self's death when my child's about to be born! Please let me get through the rest of today with no more surprises...!

He didn't hear James bidding a quick farewell to Captain Magambo or the others, or notice when the TARDIS got back into the Vortex. He only had eyes and ears – and other senses – for the pained cries of his wife. Who then realized he'd made it. About bloody time, she screamed in his mind, Spaceman! What kept you away?!

He rushed into the medbay – where Martha was keeping an eye on some scanners, and Sylvia was patting Donna's forehead with a cool cloth – and grabbed Donna's slapping hand to kiss it tenderly before planting a deeply apologetic kiss on her lips. Trying to save seven lives – not counting mine and Donna Belle's – and stopping metal stingrays from coming to Earth to devour everything in their path.

Donna, when he broke the kiss, raised her eyebrow as she panted through the aftermath of a contraction. Okay, the latter's a new one... How many of those things were there?

He shrugged. Didn't have the time to check; they'd eaten every living thing off that planet we were stuck on.

Fair enough, she knew. Although that last detail made her shiver. Everyone make it okay?

His downcast eyes persuaded her to drop the subject. Also, she could feel that something else was weighing on his mind. So she squeezed his hand. Get up behind me; I need support if we're going to let gravity help this along.

Surprised at the reprieve, the Doctor eagerly followed orders. I can deal with Sylvia snapping at me after the day I've had...

Everyone waited in the kitchen. Lee kept busy by keeping tea warm and poured, and helping Wilf – who couldn't stay still with the excitement of soon meeting his second great-grandchild – fix some snacks. The man from the future was focusing on remaining calm so he could help anyone who needed it.

Mickey was sitting in a corner, his thoughts with Martha and how their lives had changed since meeting the Doctor. Oh, there were still a few things he wished could've been different (saving a lot of people, including himself, heartache), but he knew that he was – all in all – happy with his life.

Jenny was pacing restlessly, trying to think of things to keep herself occupied. She was about to meet her sister – this time, knowing exactly who she was and would one day be. Her last meeting with River still bothered her, and she wasn't sure how to act. Bugger, she wasn't sure how she was supposed to act around a baby!

James and Donna Belle sat near each other, but neither could find anything to say. Everything either wanted to speak of was too private for the present company.

After some time, James couldn't take it anymore. If I'm going to continue to be a help to her, I'm going to have to come clean. Maybe, he tried telling himself, it's for the best if I'm shot down now rather than later...

It wasn't a comforting thought...

Donna Belle noticed how restless James was in his chair. Can I do anything for him... without saying something he might not want to hear from me...?

James stood. “Walk with me, Donna Belle?” His voice was a whisper, not wanting to draw attention to either of them. Best for her, especially...

She looked up at him, puzzled, but happy to join him if that calmed him down. And she glanced behind them as they went into the hall. No one seemed to notice their departure...

The Console Room came quickly into view, and then the kitchen suddenly seemed quite a distance away. Thanks for making sure this is kept private, Old Girl, James silently told the TARDIS. The ship gave the mental equivalent to a pat on the head – although he swore the ship was laughing at him. Figures she'd love Donna Belle as much as she loves Donna...

She watched his face, and felt her insides go cold as she noticed how... scared and uncertain he looked. “James, what's wrong?”

He flinched, reminded once again just how perceptive any incarnation of Donna Noble was. Three different parts of him warred inside his mind: the Doctor side was scared shitless about losing her by admitting to his feelings, the human side from his sister-in-law said he had to think about Donna Belle before all else, but the third part – a part that belonged solely to him – firmly insisted that he had no choice. So he blurted it out: “I've fallen in love with you, Donna Belle.”

She sucked in a quiet breath, unable to blink. Unable to move. Unable to think...

With that eight word sentence out in the open, more words just tumbled out of his mouth – while his eyes dropped to the floor in front of Donna Belle and his hands couldn't stop waving around. “I didn't know how I could keep helping you while trying to keep that a secret, although I just realized it when I found out where you were. I was so scared that you might not make it, that he wouldn't be able to keep you alive or that you'd have to – oh, God, I hate to even think it – give your own life to save everyone else, that I could barely function.”

He... was feeling the same... Her mind had trouble wrapping itself around the idea – even knowing that their siblings had found each other...

"I mean, I see now why my brother was eying me whenever I was around you. I swore I'd never cause you any harm, but he was right to worry. It could be awkward enough in a typical family, but with this one? Well... I wouldn't blame you for being turned off by how I was created.”

You couldn't help it, she thought almost instantly. And it saved the universe... And if my sister never saw you as her child...

He forced his hands into his pockets as the frantic energy suddenly left him. “It just didn't feel right to keep being as close as we've been and trying to lie to myself like that. Guess having bits of both of them in me made fibbing in any way to those I... love... seem wrong. But I won't say anything more. Especially since you're still healing...”

Donna Belle's eyes widened further as she realized that James was terrified of rejection, and was trying to protect himself by thinking that she was still too attached to Shaun. But was she...?

James went silent. All the fight was gone. Now she held all the cards, and he'd – as much as he'd tried not to – left his single heart at her feet. She could trample all over it with one word...

Carmen's words played in Donna Belle's mind: 'Do not let fear ruin things, Ma'am. Happiness is in your grasp.' I was holding James' hand... She was telling me about my future...!

As much as the past tried to keep her where she was, her need to help enabled her to overcome what could've been paralyzing fear. Her voice didn't work, though... So she silently pulled his head down to give him the tenderest kiss she could, pouring all she felt for him into it.

James could've been knocked over with a feather – if Donna Belle's hands weren't anchoring him to her. But the shock quickly gave way to a rapidly growing joy and relief that left him without words, and he wrapped his arms around her – which drew her arms around his neck.

They stayed lip-locked for a while. James rejoiced in the newness and delight of the moment – which proved that a lot of the memories he carried from both halves of his creation had been dulled. Donna Belle was overwhelmed by sensations that she hadn't felt in so long that they seemed almost foreign...

Only when the need for air beat the urge to keep on did they – reluctantly – part lips. They stared at each other in awe-struck silence. He was thanking any higher power that might be listening that he could be so lucky, and she was marveling over getting a second chance that felt...  frighteningly right...

From a distance, Martha's voice broke the silence. “Who wants to meet the Time Baby?”

Cheers immediately erupted from the kitchen, and they could hear the others rushing to the medbay.

Donna Belle blushed a little. “Maybe we should keep this to ourselves for a while...?”

James nodded. “Let them have their moment.” Besides, he reflected as he let her lead the way to join the family, he wanted to prove that they'd figured things out by the time his brother – who was still a bloody dunce as far as he was concerned! – found out. Donna would probably be okay, and be on their side...

They arrived to see Wilf rocking a little blond baby bundled in a blanket, and cooing to her. Sylvia was right next to him, beaming with awed pride at the eyes staring at her and Wilf in curiosity. Mickey was helping Martha clean up the mess, talking quietly with her all the while. Lee was smiling at the scene before him. Jenny... stared uncertainly at little River.

Of course, they barely noticed it all. The baby was enough to capture anyone's attention. James could see the features that would one day form into River Song, but for now she seemed to resemble Sylvia quite a bit – except for the Doctor's eyes. On instinct, he gently grasped and squeezed Donna Belle's hand. And glanced her way to see how she was taking it...

Donna Belle was actually caught up in good memories of her late children. Although she did feel a giant twinge of pain as she looked on her (beautiful) niece. But it went away when she felt James squeeze her hand. She gave him a grateful smile. Thank you, she mouthed.

He just smiled softly back.

On the other side of the room, Donna was leaning back into the Doctor's supporting body. Her breath was coming back to her as her body began its slow recovery. But aside from watching as her baby was lovingly shown to the others, all she could focus on was the Doctor's choked voice, whispering, “You're amazing, Donna. Completely amazing and brilliant...”

She wouldn't tease him about this. She didn't trust her own voice at that moment, either. All she could do was gently squeeze his hands, which was a bit tricky since he was hugging her tightly.

But then she noticed Jenny hesitating when Wilf offered her the chance to hold her sister. Donna sighed, mentally kicking herself for not seeing this coming. “Jenny, come here, please.”

The Time Lady obeyed, looking puzzled at her mother – and, as Donna noted, with a lot of uncertainty in her eyes. Donna managed to point this out to her husband, who relaxed his hold so she could open her arms to their eldest. She had to tug the girl into a hug, which the Doctor tightened. “Love,” Donna whispered to her face, “it doesn't matter how many children I bear for your father. We'll never ever love you any less.”

She felt him nod at her shoulder. “A parent's ability to love knows no bounds,” he firmly stated.

Jenny's eyes became watery, and she sank against her parents' embrace. Gentle tears fell from her face, and the Doctor helped Donna rock her slightly – despite the awkwardness of the movements.

When Donna focused again on the room, she saw that James was taking a turn holding little River. Talking in complete sentences, but it sounded like bullocks to her. Yet, if what she could sense from her baby's mind was any indication, it was appealing to River – even as she was puzzled over the person who was Uncle and not Daddy, despite his appearance.

Then, a moment that impressed everyone in the room. Donna Belle reached to take River into her own arms. More than one breath was held as she settled the baby against her, but those were released as baby and aunt seemed okay with each other. My sister is healing, Donna sighed in relief.

“What's her name?” Mickey broke the silence, looking at the second-time parents. “Or is she going to have a title, like her father?”

Donna snorted, mentally warning her Spaceman to be quiet. “Well, she'll be known by one thing in the future. But until she's grown, we're concerned that people might make the connection and try to harm her before she can defend herself. So we had to give her a different – yet connected – name. And I found the perfect combination. She'll be called Flumena Abigail.”

Jenny frowned. “What does that mean?”

Donna Belle answered. “If you put her last name first, it literally means 'the noble river that brings joy.'”

James beamed. “It fits her perfectly.” The others murmured their agreement, and even Jenny smiled a little.

“Sister,” Donna said after a moment, “I think it's time little Flumena properly met her big sister.” The request was happily answered, and Donna got the joy of watching Jenny hold a baby for the first time, and soon warm up to talking her own form of nonsense. After all, Donna thought, I told her that she'd be an important role model. Whatever is in River's future, she's got the best family she could ask for.

Next: A Fixed Point, or Something in Flux?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 2nd, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
There is a lot to love in this, but I'm particularly impressed by the way you're twisting the existing storylines into it. Then again, I almost feel sorry for the Master, considering the sheer number of people he's going to be up against...
Oct. 2nd, 2011 12:38 am (UTC)
If only Muse had wanted to go in that direction... Jeez, now you might one day have me doing an AU of this fic-verse!

Did you know what I realized recently? The actor who played Jackson Lake played Colonel Brandon in the recent BBC production of "Sense and Sensibility." No wonder I like him...! :D
Oct. 2nd, 2011 08:31 am (UTC)
*lol* I'm very good bad at prompting muses!
Oct. 3rd, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
Then perhaps I can prod yours again... I added more prompts to my Prompts page! The latest came from some PMs over at FF.N with another writer.
Dec. 29th, 2015 01:09 am (UTC)
Teehee oh I loved Donnabelle keeping Desouza in her place. I did love how he denied her request in the show to travel with him, once again showing how deeply affected he was by his actions with Donna but I think you handled that little opportunist far better in this storyline!

And a perfect way for Donnabelle and James to come to their realizations when faced with the very real spectre of losing each other. And UNLIKE James' progenitor he didn't muck it all up!
Dec. 30th, 2015 02:49 am (UTC)
Having a Donna in the storyline makes a lot of things easier. ;) And yes, that includes the realizations part. :)
Dec. 29th, 2015 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh and forgot the most important part of the chapter the arrival of River. It was adorable to see Jenny being all nervous just as an only child would be upon the arrival of a newborn. But with their crazy timey womeyness already knowing just WHO she would grow up into must have added its own level of shock to Jenny especially I think. But she will have all of Rivers lifetime to come to love her to bits and MAYBE soften River a bit for that fateful trip to the library
Dec. 30th, 2015 02:48 am (UTC)
Making River into their child forced me to think more kindly of her, and wonder if maybe her antics were mostly her lying to confuse people. After all, a daughter of Donna's would have high self-respect. And yes, Jenny was bound to be nervous and uneasy. She will come around to feeling protective of her.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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