A few notes... I live in Oregon and I know several people who have spoken about a colony in space in the future that would be called New Oregon. There are a lot of people here who like to be entirely self sufficient. My dad was one of them.
I just picked a century. Okay, I asked my husband to choose a number between 25 and 50. He picked 32. He needs some fun in his life. =P
My grandfather was a woodcarver, and he could carve a head and face in great detail in under half an hour. I thought it would be nice to use that in the fic. I like to put tidbits like that into my fics.
Again, the italics are finger spelling. I don't own Doctor Who, Donna, or the Tenth Doctor. The BBC does. Please read and enjoy...
The Doctor and Donna made their way down the street of the city towards the flea market the Doctor had raved about last night. They had arrived on the human colony called New Oregon, which was on the forested moon of a large planet orbiting a large orange sun. Upon leaving the TARDIS, Donna had seen the seemingly endless evergreen forest and joked that she thought she should be looking for Ewoks, stormtroopers, and perhaps Luke Skywalker and a lightsaber. This resulted in her trying to explain Star Wars, and finally just deciding on their next trip back to visit her mother and Gramps, they would get the Star Wars series and watch them.
The New Oregon colony had been here for at least 200 years, the Doctor saying they were currently in the 32nd century. It had been named for a state in the United States of the same name, and was a colony that was trying to be entirely self-sufficient without any help from off-planet (off-moon?). The flea market in the city was a prime example. Everything sold there was made in the colony using only things found on New Oregon. The Doctor was keen to show Donna the woodcarver stalls, where you could sit on a stool and in a half hour have a carving of your face. He had one. He’d been here once as his Ninth self, and had had one done. Today, he would have his Tenth self immortalized in wood.
They were walking rapidly down a street, the Doctor taking animatedly and waving his hands when he crashed into a young girl, who’d been walking slowly against the building. She let out a howl as she fell back, but the Doctor caught her by the arms and lowered her carefully to the ground. She continued with these almost unnatural noises scooting back, eyes wide with fright. Donna gasped at the sight of the girl’s eyes, they were bluish, but cloudy, and quite obviously sightless. The howling continued, and she smacked the Doctor’s hands away. “Oi! Easy, you’re scaring her,” she pushed the Doctor’s hands away, and placed her own hands on the girl. She carefully pulled the girl towards her, hugging her close, running her hands up and down her back in what she hoped was a soothing manner. “There now, sweetheart, you’re alright.”
She hummed a light tune as she waited for the trembling girl to calm down and when she did, she pulled back. “What’s your name? Are you lost?” she was puzzled when the girl gave no response, and looked at the Doctor, who brought his sonic screwdriver out, and ran it over the girl. “Would you stop bleeping her? I don’t think its helping,” then she smacked the Doctor’s hand away from the girl’s ear when he snapped his finger next to it. “That’s not helping either.”
“Well you talking to her doesn’t seem to be working,” he huffed back. “It’s like she can’t hear us.”
They were interrupted by the girl holding out one hand and tapping her palm with the other. “She wants something,” the Doctor said. “What do you want?” he asked the girl, but no response, only a frustrated look appeared on her face and she tapped her hand more forcefully. Then she reached out, touched Donna’s shoulder, running her hand down to Donna’s. She grabbed her hand and with a finger, began something like writing on her palm, but she was going so fast, Donna couldn’t make sense of it. The girl stopped, then started again, and Donna clasped her hand in between hers. She’d been able to pick out a couple letters, so she knew what the girl was trying to do. She faced the girl’s palm up, and slowly spelled out words. “Can you see us?”
The girl’s reply was almost instant. “No.”
“Can you hear us?”
Donna let go of the girl’s hands and looked at the Doctor. “She can’t see us, or hear us.”
“She’s deaf, and blind then,” the Doctor gave a sad shake of his head. “Where’s her family? Who’s taking care of her? Whoever it is, they’re rubbish at it. Look at her,” he waved his hand at her, them both taking in the matted, dirty brown hair that hung to her waist in knots. What she was wearing was threadbare, a too large flannel shirt over a holey t-shirt, pants that looked like jeans, but were held up by a length of rope around the waist. No socks, just unlaced black boots. And the smell. She obviously hadn’t bathed in some time. Not to mention the grime on her hands, under her fingernails that were jagged and seemed to be bitten off.
Donna reached out, took the girl’s hand, making her jump. She put her hand on her shoulder, then spelled into her palm. “My name is Donna.” She placed the girl’s hand on her own shoulder. The girl took Donna’s hand. “I am Belle.”
“Her name is Belle,” Donna told the Doctor while moving Belle’s hand to his shoulder and down to his hand. “This is the Doctor.” Smiling at Belle’s slight nod, she took her hand chuckling at Belle’s instant motion to face her palm up. “Are you lost? Do you need help to find your family?”
“Family? What is family?”
“Family. Mother, father. People who take care of you.”
“I take care of me.”
“You must have parents.”
“I had Mama. Mama died. I am alone.”
Donna turned to the Doctor, who was waiting expectantly. “She’s alone. Her mother died, and she’s alone. No one takes care of her,” she took one hand to wipe her eyes.
“No. Someone has to take care of her,” the Doctor argued. “Surely she can’t have been just left alone. No.”
“Look at her Doctor. She’s a child. A child on the streets, who’s deaf, mute and blind. If someone were taking care of her, they’d have gotten after us for talking to her, don’t you think? She’d be a sight cleaner, and better fed. Look around. Do you see anyone bothering to care what happens to her?”
He did look around and he saw what Donna pointed out. Absolutely no one, not even people walking right by them bothered to even look. “What do you want to do then?”
“Take her with us.”
“I’m not sure we can do that,” he said. “I don’t know if that would be a good idea. Maybe we could find somewhere here that could take her?” his voice kind of ended on a squeak at the look of anger that was starting to appear on his friend’s face.
“Don’t you think if there were somewhere she could go here, she’d be there already. She’s coming with us. I’m not leaving her here all alone, Spaceman.”
“I don’t want to leave her all alone either, but what if she doesn’t want to go with us?”
“What if she doesn’t.”
“She. Will,” Donna growled, the Doctor’s mouth snapping shut at the very stormy look on her face. Belle in the meantime sat facing them munching on a small loaf of bread. Donna took her hand again, making the girl jump. “It is not safe for you to live like this.”
“I have for a long time. No one cares. Why should you?”
“How long? Of course we should care. You are a child on the street, never mind your…difficulties.”
“I do not know how long. It was cold for a while, then hot, then cold again. What are difficulties? Is it no sight and no sound?”
Donna paused, not knowing how to answer that. She pulled her hands back, and grimaced at the Doctor. “What?” he asked. “What did she say?”
“She doesn’t know how long she’s been living like this, and I mentioned her difficulties. She asked what they were? Does she really not know?”
“Well, perhaps not. We don’t know how long she’s been deaf and blind, for all we know it’s been her entire life. She doesn’t know any different. Meaning that to her they might not be difficulties,” he regarded Belle who was scooting back from them, pushing the now half eaten loaf of bread in the filthy bag she carried. “Did she say she’d come with us?”
“I didn’t ask her yet,” she stood abruptly when Belle did, the Doctor soon after. She watched as Belle started to slowly walk away, and moved quickly to grasp her hand, causing the girl to jump. “Wait. Where are you going?” she spelled into the open palm.
“On my way. You go your way, I go mine.”
“Come with us.”
“You can not stay here. It is not safe,” she felt Belle tense.
“I have. I can. It is.”
“How old are you?” Donna watched as Belle’s face changed to a kind of thoughtful look. She mentally slapped herself thinking how on earth the girl would know. She couldn’t see a clock or read a calendar, and judging from the people around them, she wouldn’t have been told by them. She was drawn from her thoughts by Belle’s spelling in her palm. “I do not know. Mama said I would be 11 years, but then she died.”
“When did she die?”
“A long time ago. It was cold in the daytime, and then it was warm for a while, and now it is cold again.”
Donna kept a hold of her hand and relayed that bit of information to the Doctor, whose eyebrows knit together as he tried to work out what that meant. “Alright, so it sounds like seasons. You know, winter, spring, summer, and autumn. So a year? That sounds like a year. A year on a planet anyway, but this is a moon. Can’t recall if moons have seasons. It has an atmosphere though, would need that to have the colony. Can’t have life without an atmosphere can you? Well, you can if you live underground, but that requires all sorts of other equipment, and clearly we’re not underground here, and there’s an atmosphere, so it stands to reason that there would be seasons. I wonder what they call them? And really-“
“OI!” Donna hollered to interrupt him. “When you’re done rambling then. We’ll say it’s a year and call it good. Either way, far too long for her to have been taking care of herself,” she would have said more, but Belle had pulled her hand free and was now reaching out with both hands in front of her. When her hands landed on the Doctor’s face, Donna couldn’t help but snort at the squeak of surprise from the Time Lord.
The Doctor stood in surprise as Belle’s hands landed on his forehead, squeaking when she put her fingers in his hair. The hands moved down his face, stopping at his glasses, then moving to touch his nose, and lips. “What is she doing?” he asked.
“Feeling your face apparently,” Donna laughed.
When Belle’s hands left his chin, he grasped her wrists and her face showed alarm. The Doctor watched her pull her hands free and take one of his facing the palm up. “Not Donna?”
He turned her palm to answer. “The Doctor.”
“Where is Donna?” In response, he took Belle’s hands and placed them on Donna’s face, and she repeated her actions with her, pausing at Donna’s upturned lips. Leaving one hand there, and putting one on her own lips, she imitated the smile. Then she took Donna’s hand again. “You are softer than the Doctor,” Belle drew back when she felt Donna’s body start to shake.
Donna kept hold of Belle’s hand, not letting her retreat. She quickly moved to reassure her. “Laughing.”
“Your words were funny. They made me laugh. I am softer than the Doctor though.” Donna said the last part out loud, and laughed again when he huffed loudly at her. “Oh budge up, you prawn.” She turned back to Belle. “He thinks we are teasing him.”
“What is teasing? Funny words?”
“Yes. Funny words. I can tell you more, if you come with us.”
“Why do you want me to come with you?”
“You look to need help. We would like to help you.”
Belle pulled her hands back and Donna let her. The girl didn’t seem to be trying to leave, she just stood there, looking like she was deep in thought. Donna really hoped she would want to come with them. She didn’t think she could leave here without her. If Belle said no, she was going to convince the Doctor to help find a place here on the colony she could live. Not that that option seemed to hold much hope. If there was such a place, then theoretically someone should have taken her there much sooner. The Doctor as if sensing her train of thought moved next to her and squeezed her hand before putting his arm across her shoulder. “Don’t worry, we’ll find a place for her. I don’t want to leave her in this situation any more than you do.” Donna gave him a smile of gratitude.
Belle took Donna’s hands in hers again, and seemed to suck in a nervous breath. “If I go with you, will there be food?”
Donna sighed in relief. “Yes.”
“I remember a thing I had with Mama. A bed. It was soft. Is there one of those?”
“There is. Does this mean you will come with us?” Donna gave a hopeful smile even though Belle couldn’t see it. Belle put her hand on Donna’s lips feeling the smile, and once again, imitated it. She reached out for her hands once more. “Yes. I will come with you.”
Donna hugged the girl close, then released her, taking one of her arms. The Doctor moved to Belle’s other side and did the same. The three of them made their way down the street, out of the city, and to the TARDIS towards their next adventure and Belle’s new future. First though, on the way was a stop at a woodcarver’s stall. The Doctor was not leaving without the wooden likeness of himself.