eloriekam: (Donna Unicorn/Wasp by vamplover85)
[personal profile] eloriekam
(OK, so I'm doing a writing boot camp this week for a technical paper and I have to admit that I'm going to be extra-cuddling any reviews I get for the fics I've just posted, because I expect to get frustrated with my own writing over the next several days.)

Title: Fire and Fragmentation
Author: [personal profile] eloriekam/[livejournal.com profile] eloriekam
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Angst, possible severe need for tissues due to character death.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Characters: Ten, Donna
Summary: She knew what he did, and he'd made overriding choices too many times. Burning or not was her call, not his.
Word Count: ~2350
Author's Notes: I know alternate endings to JE have been done, and done, and possibly overdone, but my muse insisted, and she plays dirty. Brief quotes from The War Games, Planet of the Spiders, and The Doctor's Daughter (deleted scene). Thanks to [personal profile] sykira/[livejournal.com profile] sykira for egging on my muse when she decided to waffle as I was writing this. :) *hugs*


She had to brace herself against the console to stay upright, and even then, he could feel the strands the TARDIS sent out to support her, damp down the agony that would otherwise overrun every nerve of his best friend.

And she was beautiful. He'd almost forgotten what it felt like, but her mind was still reaching out, curious, compassionate, inquisitive, determined, exploring Time's shredded web and oh, if the TARDIS could sustain her forever, he would try to keep it all the same, for the selfish feeling of knowing another mind could see what must not be.

He couldn't. Sooner or later, her cells would burn themselves out.

The knowledge was in her eyes, but he asked quietly.

She was him, and started begging almost before he'd shifted his weight to come within easy reach. He knew how to block, to protect the mind for the sake of the body or the body for the sake of the mind, and he had to do it quickly, before the pain flared through again, the TARDIS's ability to support her was fading rapidly, there just wasn't anything...

He was going to lose her so her world could have her, or at the least, have her potential. He didn't know how complete it would be, if new impulses from her travelling would be hard-wired. His ship flinched when he snarled at her silently, about heartbeats and things coming together.

He hoped that when she woke up, she would still know she was brilliant.

Slowly, so slowly, he had to try to soothe her, startling her too much could be devastating with the metacrisis so terribly unstable, deteriorating. Their hands found each other, hanging on quietly in contrast to the conflict. Apologies fell from his lips, as he took his own memory of her standing there, brilliant and kin to him and still so human, and enshrined it where he could safely remember, other times.

Her begging became more intense, but he could see her eyes telling the conflict: DoctorDonna knew what was happening, and Donna wanted to live; Donna knew he would be alone, but DoctorDonna knew he had been so very alone before; both of her could see his history, the choices, pain, isolation, and didn't want to remember all of that anymore, wanted the mercy of ignorance of everything he'd done.

"Goodbye," he whispered, trying not to think about when he'd touched her mind to open it, not to remove, trample, violate.

Something shifted, and between one 'no' and the next, her voice shifted to a shout, assertive and decisive, and her hands came up, batting his away from her.

But he had to make her live. She was Donna, gentle and fierce and not afraid to shout at him when he needed it. She deserved to go on and be best friends with other people, friends who didn't put her in jeopardy on a very frequent basis. He moved his hands around, delving past her physical defenses, and touched her again.

Don't you dare, he heard this time, as she broke the contact again. He opened his eyes.

"Donna...." He reached toward her again, and she moved away this time, still blocking him with her hands and forearms.

I won't let you do that, as their skin made contact. You deciding, that's too high a price.

"You're going to die!"

She looked past him, still blocking his advances. "You'd do that to me, when your companions were punished this way?" She paused briefly, and he could see the memory flash in her eyes. Her voice lilted on the next sentence. "I won't forget you, you know." Now she sounded a little wry and quite resigned, eyes wistful. "I won't forget you. Don't go blundering into too much trouble, will you? They'll forget me, won't they?"

He hesitated before responding, trying to keep all the tears away, memories of logic and gentle heart. That wasn't even close to the same thing. I'm trying to save your life, he told her desperately, trying to hold her wrists.

They chose for you, then, and you never forgave them for it. I decide what my life is, Spaceman. And my life is all of me, every moment, every time we ran or laughed or hugged or cried.

You can still do those things. Flames echoed along his synapses.

"For me to stay me there would always be a likelihood I wouldn't really be safe, and to prevent the risk, you'd have to practically lobotomize me, and there'd be nothing left of the potential you're trying to protect," she retorted aloud, speaking rather too fast.

"It's destabilizing again. Donna, please. There are more dimensions than your brain is equipped to handle, there's more interaction between brain and body than humans will be ready for for millions of years."

"You've decided too many times. I'm you, but not you. I can see. Your song is ending. It will rise, and be locked away again."

"Watching you die won't help!"

"'A tear, Sarah Jane?'" Donna quoted at him softly. "'While there's life, there's...' Oh, it hurts."

"Donna," he pleaded again, but she was doubling over, overwhelmed by it.

"I know what you know," she gasped out. "I'm just as qualified to decide as you are, and it's my life."

"I don't want to lose you," he whispered, catching her as her legs gave way. "I don't want the world to not have Donna Noble." Carefully, he sat on the grating, holding her.

"Some worlds... might still have me," she sighed. Their eyes met for the first time in some minutes, and she pushed one hand against his chest. "Don't. Please don't."

"I won't."

"Promise me."

"I promise I won't." He circled one thumb against her shoulder. "Do you want me to stay with you?"

"Martian." She moved her hand, wrapping her arm around his back. "Oh, stop it. You know what I... yes, I do."

"Do you want to move?" His other hand moved to brush her hair away from her face before shifting to hold her more securely.

"First to last," she groaned quietly. "Doctor, it hurts, oh, it hurts."

"I'm here," he reassured her. He still didn't want to lose her, he never would, he never could, but she had him in her head and knew exactly what she was doing.

"Don't," came the protest when he shifted his hold again and his fingers came near the contact points on her face.

"I promised I wouldn't." He paused, then added a few syllables in Gallifreyan. She looked at him, and her expression seemed to relax a little, despite all the pain in it.

"More coming," she gasped a little while later. "More, pain, much, too, no, more." Words seemed to leave her then, and she writhed in his arms, crying out in full-throated shrieks that stabbed in his head and ran through his hearts. When she was quiet again, he could still hear the whimper on each breath, feel her entire body trembling.

"Do you want me to take the pain away?"

"No, no, no no no no no don't mine don't no." She let out a sob, and he held her a little tighter.

"Donna, please, let me take the pain?"

"Take the pain you take the sensation because human receptors can't withstand the same load and they're not sensitive at the same level and I want to feel you holding me, I can hear your hearts beating, feel them beating, I want to keep feeling, Doctor, please, feeling..."

"Will you let me take some of it?" He wanted to hold her head in his hands now, but he doesn't dare.

"You might... take other things." She sounded tired and pained again, still trembling.

"I promised I wouldn't."

"Not..." She shook her head slightly.

"I won't, but Donna, please, please."

"Swear on your name," she forced out. "On...on...on... keys."

"Come in," he murmured. Torn fragments crashed against him, the shredding pieces of metacrisis, of him. He could never destroy himself so effectively, never rip away those memories, but the process of watching himself split and self-destruct was almost cathartic, even with his friend's overwhelmed body in his arms.

I swear, he said to her, as he touched part of a Time Lord again. I know you know it. I swear by it, by any vow you require of me, Donna Noble.

"Yes," she whispered, then cried out with another flux of pain. He moved one hand to her head, fingers against her face, and dulled her nervous system response, whittling the pain down. She relaxed a little, then tensed again.

"Did it work?" He asked frantically, his voice pitching high. "Please tell me it worked, Donna, please, oh please..."

"Yeah... weird. Hold me tighter?" She grabbed clumsily at his suit jacket, trying to pull herself closer to him. He shifted, wrapping his arms around her again and bringing her head to rest against his chest, briefly stroking her hair.

"Better?" He kissed the top of her head, and stayed like that for a long moment, feeling her nod against him, even feeling the muscle movements that told him she had just smiled, just a little bit.

"I wouldn't, ever, have given up a single moment," she said after a while. "I mean, being chased by a giant wasp wasn't exactly fun, but Agatha Christie!"

"She was brilliant. You were brilliant." He swallowed hard and closed his eyes, lightly kissing her hair again. "Are brilliant," he corrected himself. Tears made faintly dark spots on her red hair.

"Dunce," she murmured affectionately into his chest.

"It's true."

"Mmm. Thank you for letting me come with you." Her words came slowly, but with no hitches of pain.

"You just accepted my invitation late, that's all," he answered, trying to smile.

"Still, thank you."

"Thank you, Donna."

"It's getting harder to talk," she said quietly, and even more slowly than before. "I... I know why."

"I'm so sorry," he whispered, holding her even more tightly.

"Don't... just. I can't keep talking."

"Do you want me to keep holding you?"

"Please." He wrapped himself around her as much as he could in response, touching everywhere. "Memory?"

It took him a few seconds to realize what she was asking. "I'll always remember you, Donna."

"Live? Find... a.... new.... world?" She enunciated slowly. He could feel her tremble a little with the effort.

"Of course," he answered, swallowing hard and gently circling his fingers against her. "You were right. I was right, to let you in. I'll find a world for both of you, I'll remember," he continued at a whisper. She sighed, and he felt her hands try to grip his jacket tighter.

They stayed like that for long minutes, Donna breathing quietly into his chest. He could feel her slowing, her heart, her breathing, everything. Very little was left but fractured ashes, yet that indomitable human mind was still ticking away, aware of what she was losing and about to lose.

Her breathing grew quieter, softer. He felt the pressure change of exhale against his chest, but the interval to match it grew. Finally, there was a faint breath in. Her hands relaxed their grip, slowly sliding down until one rested in his lap and the other splayed over his leg.

"Shhh," he whispered, even though he knew she was unconscious, and awake or not would have been beyond conscious recognition of his whisper. He ran his hands up and down her back briefly, as she drew another faint breath.

The last transition was quiet, doubly so, but he heard it. He lifted one hand up to brush against her face, but everything was quiet. So quiet. Too quiet.

A long time into the quiet, he shifted her, still supporting her head, and looked down at her face. The Doctor in her that had burned through to ash had left a faint mark, but otherwise she was simply still, without outward trace of the destruction.

Another long time later, he stood, carefully shifting her to rest on the grating, and went to the TARDIS doors and opened them, looking out, thinking.

He closed the door reluctantly, and went back to her, crouching down to trace her face with his fingers, memory-touch that would be locked in stone.

After a time, he stood and went down one of the corridors, carefully taking a few things from some of the rooms before returning to the console room. Kneeling, he ran his hands along her arms before nudging her jacket off her shoulders, carefully lifting her up to ease it off, folding that item and all that followed very gently.

It felt strange, once he was done, though he couldn't bring himself to hide her hair and face. The DoctorDonna would have known what he meant, by the white interspersed with color, but it was only him now, in this universe. He thought she would have appreciated the symbolism. He sat by her for a long time, listening to the quiet, hearing his ship moan with more than tiredness.

So very quiet.

He leaned against a coral strut, the next time he stood, and finally moved to the console, flipping switches to land the TARDIS. He scrolled through the information on the monitor, then picked up Donna, resting her head against his shoulder, and moved carefully to the door. He dropped a kiss on her forehead as the TARDIS opened the doors for him, and stepped outside into cold and snow, but not solitary chill.

They waited as he walked forward, eyes solemnly following his progress.

"You saw her first." His voice broke. The blue-clad figure in front of him bowed slightly in affirmation. The others around him tilted their heads, expressions sad but not regretful.

He looked around, and felt the falling snow brush against his face, but he found no excitement in it this time.

"You can see her last," he told them after a long moment. Cold tears traced down his face, and he carefully lowered Donna onto a slab in front of him, feeling the sympathetic gazes on him the whole time. He kissed her one last time, then straightened.

"We will look after her." All of them bowed again. "You are welcome to stay. Some of our songs will be good for you."

He shook his head, unable to speak, and turned away, rapidly retreating to the TARDIS. He couldn't bear to watch, not anymore, not ever again, didn't want to hear about the song and endings.

As the TARDIS dematerialized, they all gathered around the wrapped figure, humming softly in a circle, bending over her with their cupped hands.

Date: 2014-01-05 03:52 pm (UTC)
sykira: (DD somber hug)
From: [personal profile] sykira
*snniffles quietly*
This story awes me. So sad, but aching with respect instead of the insulting lobotomy option. Sighhh

Date: 2014-01-09 08:00 pm (UTC)
develish1: (Default)
From: [personal profile] develish1
beautifully done love

*sniff*

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