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Title: From Ashes to a Phoenix

Rating: At the moment, T (emotional hardships, and later some suggestive implications).

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: With this, I feel that this ficverse has played itself out. I'll save the idea of the Doctor and Donna meeting Jane Austen for something that might be... oh, perhaps publishable... Who knows... It was time to let this one go... On to other ideas!

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

PART 8: Am I Ready For This?

The TARDIS returned while Wilf was out again. He was being awfully cryptic lately, but it seemed that a lot of people were having bad dreams. And Wilf was somehow the only one who seemed to remember them...

Donna Belle shared in Sylvia's worry over it. Even as she was feeling off... It was something that she thought she should've recognized... but it just didn't connect with anything...

Lee emerged, rubbing his forehead. Clearly something hadn't gone well. Sylvia raised an eyebrow as she stepped outside with Travis, Donna's dog. “What happened this time?”

Jenny was right behind Lee, scowling. “Dad got Elizabeth I so mad at him, when we left she was calling him her sworn enemy.”

The Doctor came out, holding a sleeping Flumena while he glared at his elder daughter. “Well, she could've been a bit more appreciative. You did save her from an assassination attempt.”

Donna shook her head as she followed out, watching as her mother came up to cradle her youngest grandchild. “Well, I think she had some problem with how it was done, and – since even a woman like her can't overcome the preferential thinking toward men – blamed the Doctor, as she thought him responsible for our entire party. So there are apparently two English queens who have practically banished the Doctor. Oh, and the rest of us are party to that.”

Jenny snorted, keeping it a bit quiet for her sister's sake. “Oh, please! We all know that she was also mad that you had the better ginger locks.”

The Doctor looked at Donna, and grinned. “Well, that might've been a factor against us...”

Donna rolled her eyes. “You were actually able to take your eyes off me long enough once the comparison was accidentally made by that silly little courtier to notice?!”

James managed to get a glimpse of the younger Elizabeth I through Jenny sharing a memory, and smirked. Yes, their Donnas had much lovelier locks. No wonder a queen who had used people fawning over her as a tool of keeping power was angry...

But all laughter stopped when Donna Belle's stomach suddenly rebelled and she lost her lunch over the grass. Everyone came over to check on her, and the Doctor reached for his Sonic – but paused. James looked up when he felt the confusion, and noticed his brother pulling out the psychic paper. The frown turned indignant, and then it was replaced by complete shock.

And then the Sonic couldn't come out fast enough. He scanned Donna Belle, who regained some awareness and swung an arm in his direction. “Stop bleeping me!”

But the paleness increased. And then... “Everyone inside the TARDIS now! Jenny, grab Travis! Lee, show Sylvia the nursery and leave Flumena in there; she doesn't need to overhear any of this!”

He never acted like he was panic-stricken – not since the wedding passed without incident on their end – and so this was enough to get everyone obeying instantly. In less than a minute, the TARDIS was on the Moon. “Close enough,” the Doctor said when they landed, with help from his three co-pilots, “to keep an eye on Earth, but hopefully far enough away that none of us are directly affected by whatever's about to happen.”

"Which is what,” Jenny demanded, letting her voice raise since Flumena was out of the room.

The slight increase in his paleness was accompanied by Donna saying, “We don't know, but we were told to get off Earth.”

Donna Belle, sitting on the Jump Seat (with a bucket that the TARDIS had ready for her in her hands), looked up slowly. “What about Gramps?”

The Doctor swallowed. “Whoever sent me the message swore they'd look after him.”

As uncertain as things had gotten, James needed to know one thing. “What did your scan say? Is she all right?”

Which was quite the phrase to use, given who he was talking to... And he knew it, but he couldn't think of any other way to put it right then.

The Doctor sighed, looked up with a frown, and said seven words that turned James and Donna Belle's lives upside down. “She threw up because she's carrying twins.”

A dropped pin could've made a louder noise than the breathing and the TARDIS' own workings combined at that.

James – not quite believing his ears – stared at his twin for a long moment while Donna Belle froze solid, memories of her past re-enforcing the truth that she should've seen sooner...

Donna Belle sat on the sidewalk, wringing her hands in front of her as she stared at the empty street. Her family was all off to the side... and she knew that James was watching her keenly. Waiting desperately for permission to approach her again after she said she needed a moment...

But how long did one need when, even as you shared in your lover's joy over children, your mind suddenly made you remember how you'd lost your last family...? When part of you was absolutely convinced you were bound to lose everything once again...?

She sat there for some time before she heard a voice: “Mind some company?”

It hadn't taken Donna Belle long to notice that there was a slight difference in the accents of the Doctor and James; James' held a strong hint of the Chiswick region, whereas the Doctor's sounded like a native of a different part of London. She couldn't remember the area, but it was distinctly East London. And so she didn't need to look up to see the brown suit instead of the blue she'd grown fond of. She just shrugged at the question; say what you would about his meddling, but he never pushed her to talk about anything. Just let her know that he was there if she wanted to talk.

Although... why he was keen to sit down with her when he'd just lost his home-world – again – and had been sidelined from saving Earth...? She eyed him as he sat down, copying her posture and position. Of course, she thought, it wasn't exactly a good day for anyone, I suppose...

“The medicine helping any?” The Doctor had given her an injection provided by the TARDIS, created to help with nausea. The Old Girl had figured it out based on his Donna's physiology, and – based on how she was looking now, aside from the fear in her eyes – it seemed to have worked for Donna Belle.

The question threw her for a moment. “Oh, yes, thank you.”

He eyed her, watching the play of emotions. He might still be rubbish with feelings, but there were some things that the Doctor could pick up on all too well now... “You know, the strange thing is, you and I are alike.”

That caught her attention. She gave him an are-you-joking look.

He smiled wryly. His words, however, were absolutely soft. “We've both lost practically everything we ever held dear to us. We felt like the lone survivor, unconnected and untethered. Didn't really care about the consequences to ourselves of what we did; what was the point when no one truly cared? But then we each ran into someone who did care. Someone filled with the compassion and patience to not put up with denials, to give us pushes that we needed, space when we needed it, and who taught us to value our own lives again.”

It hit a lot of chords. A lot. “How come James isn't overcome by the same feelings? He has your memories.”

“He also has Donna's resilience, compassion, and patience. Somehow, those were absorbed into his mind as part of the Meta-Crisis. Of course...” He waved his hands a little, not wanting to revive the old debate of what exactly James was to himself and to Donna. He was all-too aware of how the argument could go either way...

And Donna Belle remembered that little introductory discussion. Would've been really awkward, she now knew, if they'd decided he was their son... A quirk of how the Meta-Crisis influenced his mind was probably why James had become a brother instead...

She wanted to feel exposed by how well he was picking up on her feelings. Feelings he was more familiar with than he cared to admit. “Are you afraid that the Universe will take this family away...?”

The Doctor swallowed tightly. “Every moment.”

Her eyes widened. “Every moment?”

He shrugged, trying for a hint of levity. “Well, there are times when I can... forget about it... for a while. But it's never far from my mind. Losing your home-world by your own hand will do that to you...”

She was silent for a long moment. “Then how do you cope? How are you able to live in the moment and make their lives vibrant?”

The Doctor sighed, and managed to smile at her. “Part of it is that I'm gifted at pretending like nothing's wrong. And yes, she's given me what-for over that. But... I think it's because she taught me that there's always something worth living for. That if you live consumed by the past, you can't have a future. I... I finally realized that focusing on what I'd lost would only hurt Donna and Jenny, and now Flumena and any other children in my future.” He met her eyes with a plea. “I was watching over you because, even though James has so much of Donna in him, he's also a lot like me. And I nearly blew it with Donna. I didn't want you to be hurt... but it seems you two had that all sorted out.” He grasped her hand in support. “Don't let your past hurt your and James' future. We're all here for you.”

Those words would've never come out of his mouth a few years before. But it was a testament to how much Donna Noble had changed his life...

Donna Belle sat still, absorbing his words and letting their truth sink in. She had one more thing she had to ask about. “How do you cope with knowing that you'll outlive her?” She was vaguely aware that James' Time Lord genes would likely mean that he would live many years after she died (though not as many as the Doctor probably would when Donna died), and she needed to hear why she shouldn't hold that up as a reason to not act...

He sucked in a breath. And had to pause a long moment before he could recover control of his vocal chords. “Most of the time, I try to not think about it. I'm hoping that our children and my memory of her will be enough... but I can't imagine life now without her. And... as Sylvia and Wilf have reminded me, people do outlive their spouses by many years on every world. I will find a way to cope...”

If he can manage to raise a family again, she realized, after all he's been through, then so can I... If he and Donna are willing to deal with the consequences of species differences... then so can I... And with that thought, Donna Belle Noble began to let go of the last strings keeping her in her past... letting whatever feelings left to deal with come up...

The Doctor was amazed at how obvious the change was to him – even though he'd been watching her expression carefully. And he wasn't surprised to see tears building. He offered a hug, and wasn't surprised that she accepted, soaking part of his jacket.

James stood by as everyone else checked on Wilf. He seemed haunted, but immensely grateful to be back with family. The way he'd hugged the Doctor... Well, James didn't need to sense Donna or the Doctor's thoughts to realize that a Doctor had died today...

Although that knowledge would've been enough to set him on edge... if he hadn't been too preoccupied worrying over Donna Belle...

It was so strange how she'd seemed fine – if in shock – on board the TARDIS, and then suddenly he felt her gripped by her past and she begged for a moment alone. His imagination was running rampant as he worried that maybe they'd become intimate too soon... And that was just the mildest of his worries...

Letting the Doctor go to her was one of the hardest things he'd ever done. He couldn't keep his eyes off them. It was completely irrational, the level of worrying he was suddenly overwhelmed by, but he didn't know what he could do. Wilf needed the rest of the family to console him, and there was so only so much he was willing to talk with Lee about – since the young man was practically Jenny's fiancée...

Seeing her cling to the Doctor, letting out some of the quietest tears he'd ever seen her release, James wondered what had happened. His progenitor had carefully blocked him from sensing the conversion. Okay, he could appreciate the need for privacy, but the majority of him was even more worried because he had no idea what was happening...

Finally, they let go of each other. James watched as Donna Belle wiped her tears, and then accepted the Doctor's hand to help her up. And she met his eyes and walked his way.

The Doctor went around her and headed straight to Donna's side. He just needed to hug his wife...

James slowly came over to meet her half-way... wondering what his future held, since it was all dependent on what she wanted... What she was ready for...

He kept his hands in his pockets, and stopped when she did. A few feet separated them, and it felt like the whole universe... He wanted to talk, but he forced his lips to stay shut. Must follow her lead, he reminded himself, must follow her lead...

Donna Belle looked into his nervous face, saw the hope and the fear in his eyes, and found the strength to do what needed to be done. “I... guess I'd let go of any thought of doing this again,” she whispered. “I hadn't realized it until just now, but I was keeping my heart protected. I wasn't sure I could be a mother again.”

James swallowed down bile threatening to come up. Damn my human parts! “What do you want...?”

She reached for his hands, tugging them out of his pockets, and held his gaze. “The Doctor helped me see some truths. I can be a mother again, and... I would gladly raise a family with you.”

His heart seemed to melt until it felt lighter than a feather. He exhaled a breath he didn't realize he was holding, and – overcome by relief – got down on bended knee.

All conversation stopped around them. All eyes were on them. Including some neighbors...

Donna Belle sucked in a breath, and opened her mouth to protest, but James surprised her. “I've been wanting to ask this since you first held Flumena... Donna Belle, may I please become your husband?” She promptly burst into tears, pulled him up and snogged the living daylights out of him.

Donna, even as she beamed with joy, couldn't suppress a snort. Bet you never thought you'd be their relationship counselor, did you?

The Doctor smiled fondly at their siblings. No, but I'm glad things will work out for them. They're just as stubborn and determined as we are...

And he held to that opinion when the two were married only two months later. And when Donna Belle safely delivered a boy and a girl. Although he had to hold his wife close momentarily when they were named Joshua and Ella...

But they had their second born, a boy, several weeks later. They definitely had a good thing going...



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
I had to come and use this icon again; hope you don't mind. :)

Aw, it's lovely to see Donna Belle get her man and the life she deserved. So nice...
Dec. 21st, 2011 12:47 am (UTC)
Love the icon! :D

Thanks! :D
Dec. 29th, 2015 01:32 am (UTC)
Aw the fluffies were so sweet! And the Doctor really has changed for the better because of Donna. I am curious though as to which Doctor died in ten's stead over the Master's actions but love the little hint of mystery. Well done and a nice cap on the world of the belted Doctor!
Dec. 30th, 2015 03:02 am (UTC)
It was meant to be the 13th Doctor, since this was written before SM threw us all off with the numbers by introducing the War Doctor. And the argument that the meta-crisis and River killing the Doctor cost him two more regenerations. So... AU territory. Pick your preferred person to be the Doctor in this situation.

Thank you.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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