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Title: Truth Shines Through
Series: Riverlets Through Time
Rating: T (angst, some... adult implications)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Donna is extremely introspective after the Doctor returns to her in “Midnight.” Enough that she has to make some decisions... Third story in the “Riverlets Through Time” series.
Dedication: nini_cuddles, as her fic “The Bride” made this series possible.
Disclaimer: I'm writing this. It should tell you I own nothing.
Author's Note: Time for Donna to continue the series. This drives more of the changes, and leads to some additional answers for the questions raised in “Bridal Fears.” Oh, better have read that and “Diverging Truths” first!

Bridal Fears
Diverging Truths

Donna Noble had given up on love, on marriage, and on children. She kept being seen as something that was undesirable. Loud, wanting things her own way, opinionated, not skinny, and ginger were the most common labels applied to her. So it now seemed like no wonder she'd latched onto Lance when she saw the chance. Desperation and a severe lack of self-worth had played right into his hands.

Thank God for the TARDIS and the Doctor, or she'd be dead. And who knew what would've happened to the rest of Earth?!

The Doctor... What did it say about her that it took her finding an alien to be her best friend ever to actually feel important for the first time in her life? To find something that mattered and to be able to make a difference?

To genuinely be in love?

She'd concealed it well, but the real reason she said no? The barmy alien had somehow mended her broken heart and then stolen it. Though not without making her feel like she could be something special and be magnificent. The only people who ever believed that about her were her father and grandfather, and even their encouragement couldn't hold up against the nagging of her mother.

Seriously, Donna loved her mother, but that woman could make saints doubt themselves.

Only when she realized that she'd let fear and insecurity deny her the chance to actually do something with her life did she all but slap herself. Donna vowed to find the Doctor, and be his best friend. She'd watched his expression when she found that jacket. The owner, Rose, must have been special to him, and maybe he'd loved her. So she would be a friend.

It wasn't like she was unaccustomed to gorgeous men looking right past her. At least this one saw her for her, and respected her. She could live with that!

She'd endured a lot of nagging over the course of the months of seeking the Doctor. She hesitated over telling even her alien-watching grandfather about what she was doing, hesitated over telling the truth about what happened to Lance all because she just knew that her feelings would be ferreted out. And she had to keep them a secret from her mother. The nagging would get worse, and then she'd have to endure efforts of being set up with whoever her mother happened to consider good enough to marry.

Oh, she understood where her mother was coming from. She wanted grandchildren, and there were certain expectations women of Sylvia Noble's age would have for their daughters. And if a woman wasn't married and had a steady career by the time her mother had, she was a failure. And nobody judged failures more then Sylvia Noble. That it was her only child make her take it personally.

Of course, understanding didn't mean one had to like it or accept it. But while she was seemingly drifting, she had no choice. Especially after her father suddenly died and she and her mother had to move in with her grandfather.

The night she finally found the Doctor... Oh, it was both one of the best and worst of her life! Yes, she'd found him and helped save a million people – and had his smile of pride felt wonderful! But nearly dying – again! – and hearing that he just wanted a mate? Well, she could forgive the first since that seemed to happen around him, but the latter... Well, it was easy enough to hide and pretend that she didn't find the skinny boy attractive. She just had to not look at him too much, especially when he was looking at her, and she should be safe.

And she'd handled it just fine. After all, being the touchstone for such a lonely person, being their best friend, and being their partner in crime was the best time of her life. She could live without being loved loved, or being a mother. Especially if she was the
only companion ever allowed to fly the TARDIS!

Although she wished more than anything that Jenny hadn't died. Then Donna could've known that the Doctor wouldn't be alone after her own death. Never mind that a few times, Jenny had looked at her like Donna had imagined her own child would at her. That dear girl might've been as close as she would ever come to being a mother...

The incidents at Edisson Manor made things worse for her. She discovered what it was like to kiss him, and even with the awful smelling and tasting detox ingredients (and the threat of him dying!), it had made her heart flutter. And never mind when it looked like he might want her to kiss him again. It took every last shred of restraint to conceal her disappointment when he said he meant the Detox.

Although... it looked like he was afraid of a slap... No, she'd been sure, it couldn't be...

Of course, all of the pep talk in the universe hadn't prepared her for River Song. The woman's clear emotional connection with the Doctor (even if it was one-sided at this point in the Doctor's time-line) had cut Donna to her soul. The Doctor hardly spoke of what had happened with Professor Song, aside from that she'd died to save all of the people in the Library computer. But the disturbed look on his face when she'd dragged a few details out of him said that he didn't know what to make of the woman.

Knowing that Rose had been a blonde, Donna suspected that River Song was a future love of his. She felt some empathy for the woman, who had to endure seeing the man she loved not even care about her, let alone know who she was. That had to make Donna's own agony pale by comparison.

The Library... Donna could curse CAL for making her experience what she did. Oh, Lee was a nice man, but he wasn't the Doctor. She'd known deep down that the world was wrong, which had kept her a bit distant from Lee despite feeling some happiness in experiencing love, marriage, and motherhood. Miss Evanglista's words had expressed what she already knew, and her protests had been those of feeling that she'd lose what little she could get in life. That was the source of her vow to find Lee.

Her panic was her need to find the Doctor, to be back in his cooler alien arms. That took longer than she wanted, but she found him. He'd been so happy to see her, so relieved. It wasn't a surprise to learn that her face had appeared on one of those Nodes, which certainly explained his unnaturally pale face. He worried so much about her, but she supposed that was because someone like him would deeply treasure the friends he had.

She came so close to admitting her feelings then. Her heart screamed for it, her body ached to stay in his arms, and she needed him period. But she held back. Panic overtook her again. No, she couldn't do that to him. He didn't see her that way. So she spoke about Lee, about needing to find him. Even though she hoped that he wasn't real...

Donna almost wished the Doctor hadn't given her that advice about expanding her search. Because she did find Lee. Yes, the name she knew was a variation on the man's real name. When she tried to speak with him, and even hugged him, she knew something was very wrong. Everything she felt seemed... pale. Dull. Forced. CAL had placed her in that situation without looking at giving her free choice, and just pushed her along into marriage and motherhood.

At least she hadn't had to experience making the children or the labour. That would've made things worse. Yes, those were important things, but they weren't with a man she actually loved...

Thank God that Lee quickly saw things the same way. Although he'd been more willing to try than she was. She had to break his heart by telling him that she was in love with someone else, and couldn't leave him. Mercifully, the goodbye was short and hadn't been as painful as it could be.

The only thing she couldn't understand was the Doctor's surprise and wobbling mouth when she told him that she couldn't leave him, that everything was forced in the computer world. He looked like he had something he wanted to say, but he couldn't make himself say it. Instead, he suddenly decided to take them to Midnight.

A leisure palace? The whole thing seemed astonishingly domestic for him. When she'd talked with Martha, she'd heard all about how he didn't do domestic. And yes, she'd seen his avoidance of the mundane, but he had no problem with sitting down for meals and even helping cook. Did it have more to do with it being her who asked? And her willingness to slap him for being a daft Martian?

Still, the idea of some time apart – while on the same planet – had seemed good to her. Mind, it didn't explain why he'd been eager for her to go with him on that journey...

When she saw him again, she wished she had taken him up on his request. Then she might've been able to protect him from those scared people who tried to kill him. She had to yell at them when they stumbled into her path, and didn't let the Doctor's numb protests stop her. She alone, in the end, shut down the whole operation – and left a slew of people in shame.

Donna didn't leave the Doctor alone when they were back aboard the TARDIS. She made him his favourite meal, blended a banana milkshake for him, and made him sit in her room. She ought to have been uneasy over letting a man who she wasn't intimate with into her bedroom, but he'd come by a bunch of times after Jenny had died, and she'd gotten used to sitting on some chairs and talking about anything at all.

When she'd suggested it after the Library, thinking of talking about what he experienced, he'd promptly suggested going to Midnight. That made her think. Why was he suddenly awkward about being in her room, especially when he had little knowledge of the concept of personal space?

No, this time she just grabbed him and didn't listen to his protests. She ordered him to sit in her room, where she could keep an eye on him and take care of him. (The TARDIS was kind enough to bring part of the kitchen into her room, helping her.) She wasn't about to go into his personal areas; she respected his right to privacy given all the things he surely had to keep to himself, and she reiterated it then.

He was just finishing his meal when she said that. He'd blinked, asking why she was so respectful of his boundaries even as she kept pushing him to be honest with her. Donna had a ready answer to this one: he was a person who needed an ear to bend, to be accepted as he was, and to encourage him to be better. It was the truth, and said nothing of her real feelings.

She was thinking of a joke to snap him out of a bit of his (understandable) funk when she happened to meet his eyes. The look stopped her short. He was looking at her like she was the most precious thing in his world. Water and food combined to his parched, starving being. She swallowed, cleared her throat and asked what was on her face.

He flushed, the extra colour extended down his neck, down below his neckline. He cleared his throat, and said that there was nothing wrong with her, that she was perfect as she was.

Her face tried to match her hair, but in the midst of her shock, she noticed that he seemed embarrassed to have admitted to that. Donna tried to figure out what he could be thinking, but she could only think of things that she knew couldn't possibly be true. Still, her curiosity could not be denied, and so she risked asking him what was the matter, that she wanted to know what she could do to help him.

The Doctor blushed, looking away and moving his mouth without actually making a sound. He was alarmed by something, embarrassed to admit to whatever he was thinking. That made Donna rush over and grab his hands, a move that was perhaps a bit risky, but she couldn't let him suffer like that. And she told him so, telling him that he didn't have to shoulder the pain alone, that she wished she'd been there for him.

But he'd stopped that train of thought by saying that he was grateful she wasn't, because he didn't want to lose her. Not her, of all his companions.

Donna sucked in a breath, looked into his eyes, unable to hide a bit of her shock... Could he see her feelings in her eyes? She was sure she wasn't hiding them at all, and was terrified of making things awkward between them...

But he stared with his own shock, and she saw something in his eyes that she'd never seen him show. The look of someone whose wildest dream seemed to be right before them, and they couldn't believe their eyes. She gulped, desperately latching onto every bit of courage she had in order to ask how he could be grateful to have been alone against that madhouse, and why she was so precious to him.

It took him a long moment to react, and he took several deep breaths – obviously to steady his nerves – before he evidently found his courage. He shocked her by leaning in and kissing her tenderly. She'd managed to draw in a sharp breath of shock before their lips connected, but before she knew it, she'd melted into his arms and they were hugging tightly.

When their lips parted due to her need for air, she'd somehow curled into his lap, held against him possessively. She barely managed to open her eyes to look at him for an explanation. She needed to hear it from him, as rubbish with feelings as he was.

Her look must have been enough prompting, because what he did next took her breath away. He whispered the three most powerful words in the English language, told her that she was vital to his sanity, that he wished he could give her his version of forever, and he wished she was his wife.

She sat in shock for a long moment, then cried and threw her arms around him as she collapsed into his. It took her a long moment to answer his questioning look, but she finally admitted the whole truth of her original refusal, the truth of her not wanting Lee. That she thought Rose was still in his hearts.

He got such a sad look in his eyes, and then he told her something that floored her. He'd realized that what he felt for Rose wasn't love at all, but a gratitude-driven hero-worship for saving him from a dark depression. An infatuation that started dying as his Ninth self was dying. Guilt had kept it alive, and made him hurt Martha. He knew better now, and wanted to give Donna everything he could by binding himself to her in the Gallifreyan marriage bond.

Donna didn't understand, but he was offering her so much more than she'd hoped for that she instantly accepted. He asked if she was certain, because it was something that couldn't be broken. She reminded him that she told Martha that she'd travel with him forever, that his alienness hadn't put her off at all. So she asked what was involved.

The Doctor had looked rather nervous, but she encouraged him to tell her. Then he leaned in close, putting his lips right against her ear, and whispered.

Then she felt her mind open. It was the only way she could describe the sudden feeling of his mind against hers, the magic she felt in hearing his name and knowing the secret it meant. She was now bound to him as much as he was to her, and only death would break it. She also sensed that he'd managed somehow to make it deeper than any other bond he'd had in his long life, because he trusted her so much. This alone was helping him heal from the events of the day...

That humbling knowledge made her cry. To avoid talking, she kissed him hard and silently begged him through her thoughts – her thoughts! – to show her more... Anything he was comfortable with sharing!

Hours later, she was more relaxed than she'd ever been in her life. Tired, too, but also the absolute happiest of her life. Definitely also the happiest and most tiring time of the Doctor's life, if the fact that he was wrapped against her in a smiling slumber was any indication. He'd never been so relaxed in the whole time she knew him, and never looked so young. She had to smirk a little over the thought that anyone might think she was a cradle snatcher! If they only knew it was was the other way around!

Although he had nightmares about the day's events. Bad ones... Donna was grateful that a little stroking of his hair and humming through her thoughts calmed him each time.

When they were both awake, and had a hearty breakfast (she held her tongue over his extra appetite), the Doctor suddenly got very reflective and pensive. Donna would've worried that he was regretting his choice if she couldn't sense that his thoughts were not about her. Well, not exactly. So she had to demand he explain the disjointed images she was getting of River Song and mysterious comments.

He hadn't spoken until he held her hands, wrapping one arm around her first for the additional contact. Slowly he explained that River had apparently known about them marrying, that he wondered if River was somehow a future wife (a fact he wasn't happy about, he made a point of stressing that to her), and that she'd told him three other things that he'd doubted the veracity of until now.

Donna grew thoughtful. The second warning was definitely mysterious, and something they had to go investigate eventually. Still, they could quickly go back in time and check on it. The third... Well, she had no more clue what that business meant than the Doctor did, so she couldn't help there. But the first of River's final three messages... She felt they should get it out of the way immediately.

Although it took a lot of persuasion to convince the Doctor to return to Messaline. He'd nearly freaked over the thought of attending Jenny's funeral the first time. Now to be told he had to go back? Yes, Donna understood that Jenny's death brought back all sorts of doubts and pains for the Doctor, but she also believed in making sure you helped plant the seeds of how someone should be remembered. She promised to stand by him, hold his hand, and even deal with the others so he didn't have to if he didn't want to. Besides, what if there was something they needed to know or do? If they didn't, might it cause one of those paradoxes he was talking about?

The surprise of their return – especially without Martha – was immense, but Donna was able to talk them into not asking questions of the Doctor. Instead, Cline and one of the Haath led them to Jenny's funeral brier. It'd been several hours since their original departure, and Donna was impressed with how much they had already accomplished. She knew that under any other circumstance, the Doctor would be waxing verbal abundance over how humans could bring order out of chaos.

He was holding himself so tightly because he feared what his reaction would be if he let himself cry again. Donna used one arm to hold him close, to be his rock, and stroked Jenny's hair with the other.

She was ready to say something, but a chance touch of skin told her that something was happening to Jenny's body. Her forehead felt warmer than it had before. She leaned over her, checking the colour of the skin, and gasped. She motioned to the wound, which was somehow closed and healed!

The Doctor put a hand on Jenny's arm, and suddenly yanked Donna back. She barely got out an Oi in protest when they saw a miracle. Jenny's chest rose slightly, then fell as a pale golden breath released from her mouth... and she opened her eyes with a smile, giving a cheeky greeting to the boys.

Only when Jenny sat up and beamed at them did the Doctor snap out of his shock. His excited, relieved shouts rang through the area as he pulled Jenny off the brier (keeping her off her feet) and hugged her tightly. Donna thought her face would split from smiling and her heart would burst with relieved joy. They had Jenny back!

Whatever she'd felt toward River while at the Library, Donna would always be grateful to her for this. River had given the Doctor a priceless gift, and she, Donna, got to share in the joy.

So she quickly swept Jenny into the TARDIS, into the multi-story Wardrobe so they could get rid of the reminders of her death, and launch the young Time Lady into her journey with them. Although the Doctor had to remind Donna that she didn't need to go overboard. He was eager to take them on their first stop as a family: the shopping world of Shan Shen.

TO BE CONTINUED IN "Flowers of Time"...


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
first: I love how you are writing this. like someone is telling the story by mind. you don't do actual dialogues, it's more what they meant to say. like someone is telling. I can almost hear a voice when I'm reading, telling the story to me. beautiful.
Feb. 19th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks! :D
After "Bridal Fears" finished without actual dialogue, the rest of the series HAVE to be the same way. Which is a strange challenge when writing instructors ALWAYS say, "Show, not tell."
Ah... Well... you'll see... Hopefully within two days, if I can write another part quickly.
Feb. 19th, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
I love this. I really do, all of the parts. The writing is beautiful, and I can picture these things happening. Can't wait for more. =)

Mar. 10th, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :D
Mar. 10th, 2012 10:54 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved this, particularly: "He was looking at her like she was the most precious thing in his world. Water and food combined to his parched, starving being."

She really is all this, and more, to him. So beautiful that he reveals himself fully to her, so that they can be bonded forever. Take that, Professor Smug! And Bottle Blonde!
Mar. 10th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
Whew! I was worried that was a bit... of a trope. :)

*snickers* I think he couldn't help himself at that point. She offered him everything, and his wounded soul needed the comfort that she could provide as his wife. Of course, it goes far beyond that, but you know what I mean. :)
Mar. 15th, 2012 08:25 am (UTC)
I love Donna, now I love her even more!

Yay for ready-made famlies!!!
Mar. 22nd, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
I seem to love her more with each fic I write. :)

Yes! Oh, to have had Jenny around for the rest of the series!!!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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