As always, I don't own Ten, Donna, or Doctor Who. Please read and enjoy...
“There’s been an incident.”
“What kind of incident,” the Doctor asked, taking the hand Donna had reached out.
“You’ll be told at the front gates. I was instructed to bring you there at once. Time is of the essence,” the preserve worker said.
Needing no further encouragement, the Doctor and Donna moved quickly through the gardens, past the people leaving one of the exhibits, and regular crowds. The feeling in their stomachs did not improve at the sight of Sym Shay standing at the gates waiting and looking nervous.
“What’s going on?” Donna demanded as they approached. “What is this incident and where are Belle, my mum and Gramps?”
“Ms. Noble, Doctor,” Sym began. “There was an incident in one of the terrariums. Your daughter was bitten by one of the specimens there, and…”
“Bitten?!” Donna shouted. “My daughter was bitten? Where is she? You tell me now. Where. Is. She?”
“She, your mother, and grandfather have been taken by helipod to the hospital along with the anti toxin. If you’ll allow me, another helipod is on stand by to take the two of you there as well.”
“What are we waiting for,” Donna yanked on the Doctor’s arm. “Let’s go!”
They ran to where the second helipod was and boarded quickly. As the machine took off, the Doctor looked over at Sym. “Just what was my daughter bitten by that requires an anti toxin?”
“It’s a rare species. Usually aren’t allowed to keep them in captivity, but the pair of them were kind of abandoned here a few months ago. Didn’t realize they were quite so aggressive, or could escape so easily.”
“What is it?” the Doctor gave Sym something of his Oncoming Storm look.
Donna’s heart and stomach plummeted further at the sight of the color rapidly draining from the Time Lord’s face. His grip tightened on Donna’s hand, and some color came back into his face. He felt the Storm approaching, and leveled a cold glare at Sym. “FreyDicanthises are a quarantined species inside The Five Galaxies Confederation. What the hell do you think you’re playing at having not one, but two of them at a biological preserve?”
Sym cowered from the look on the Doctor’s face, and he meekly answered. “As I said, they were abandoned. They were just left outside the main office. What were we meant to do with them?”
“Return them to the planet of quarantine, or destroy them. As a caretaker at a biological preserve, you have to have known how toxic they are. How hard they are to keep contained. How did you convince your superiors to keep them?” he watched Sym’s face, and saw the guilt there. And something else. “Oh. You didn’t tell anyone, did you? You thought you could control them, so you hid them.”
“They were abandoned. We didn’t think…”
“No. You didn’t think. You hid them, and thought nothing about possible consequences,” the Doctor would have continued, but the helipod pilot’s voice came over the speakers.
“Mr, Shay, sir, we’ll be landing at the hospital in just under five minutes.”
“Thank you, Pengra,” Sym leaned back into his seat, not looking at the Doctor. “If you’ll please fasten your safety belt, Doctor.”
The Doctor glared at him some more, before turning his full attention to Donna, who was quietly sniffling. He put his arm around her, holding her close. He chose to ignore the caretaker for the time being.
Once the helipod landed, the Doctor and Donna were off and running after being told where Belle was by the orderly who met the helipod. They burst through a door into a waiting room on the tenth floor, Sylvia and Wilf rising from their chairs.
“Where is she? How is she? What are they doing?” Donna demanded when she saw them.
“They took her right back,” Wilf pointed to the doors behind them. “Dr. Shay and that other doctor he spoke of earlier are both with her.”
“How long?” the Doctor asked, keeping his arm tight around Donna, who was trembling. He guided her to a chair. “Here love, sit down,” he sat next to her, never taking his arm from around her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Did they say what they were doing, Wilf?” the Doctor asked.
“They said they were giving her more anti toxin. They gave her some at the facility before the helicopter thing came for us. When we got here, Dr. Shay took her and the anti toxin through those doors there.”
The Doctor went to ask more, but the doors opened and Dr. Shay and another man emerged. Wilf, Sylvia, Donna and the Doctor moved as one towards them. Dr. Shay held up his hands. “We’ve given her the anti toxin, she was convulsing when she arrived here. The anti toxin is working, but it’s not having the results we’d like to see. She could go into a first stage coma at any time. If she goes into a second stage coma…I’m afraid there’s nothing to be done. She’ll be lost.”
“Your anti toxin is made for Praxi and Eridan,” the Doctor said.
“Belle is human. Have you done anything to alter it for her?”
“No. Frankly I was surprised there even was this anti toxin. As you know, freyDicanthises are quarantined animals,” Dr. Shay saw his son walk into the room. “Sym, what do you know about the preserve housing a freyDicanthis?”
“Oh, they weren’t housing just one,” the Doctor growled. “They were housing two, and your son and one other worker were the only ones who knew about it.”
“What?” Dr. Shay looked surprised. Sym merely ducked his head in shame.
“TARDIS,” the Doctor suddenly blurted. “I need to get Belle and the anti toxin to the TARDIS.”
“Doctor, it’s not a good idea to move her right at this time,” the other doctor with Dr. Shay said.
“You are who?”
“Ah. This man’s Eridan colleague. You may not think it’s a good idea to move her right now, but I intend to try and save her. To that end, I need her and you anti toxin on my TARDIS. I’m willing to allow the two of you with me to help. Now I’ll take her and the anti toxin without your help if necessary, but I would appreciate it.”
Drs Hrim and Shay decided not to argue, but instead nodded their heads and disappeared back through the doors. Within moments, a stretcher with Belle on it, two orderlies pushing it, Dr Hrim carrying the medicine bags attached to Belle, and Dr. Shay carrying some vials of anti toxin emerged. They moved quickly to the lift, down to the first floor, out the door and into emergency transport to the TARDIS.
Once there, only the Doctor, Donna, Wilf, Sylvia, Belle, and the two doctors entered. The Doctor picked Belle up from the stretcher and carried her to her room, laying her on the bed. Then he, Drs Shay and Hrim took the anti toxin to the TARDIS lab and began to work on it.
Some hours later, Donna, and Wilf having stayed with Belle in her room, Sylvia decided to make herself useful and make some tea and things for them to eat, not that any of them felt like eating. But she needed to be busy, and this was something that could keep her that way.
Wilf kept talking to Belle as though she were awake and would respond. When the girl went into convulsions, Donna sent Wilf to the lab to get the Doctor, while she cleared away objects that Belle could hurt herself on. She knew enough not to restrain Belle while she was seizing. Wilf returned with the Doctor, Dr. Shay, and Dr. Hrim. Sylvia had heard the commotion from the kitchen and had come running as well. The Doctor pulled out a vial saying that he’d extracted some of what was in the anti toxin and mixed it with medicines that could be metabolized properly for a human. As soon as the convulsion was over, he quickly injected it into the IV line that had been pushing the Praxi anti toxin. He stepped back, flanked by Wilf and Donna and waited.
Color returned a little to Belle’s face, though when Dr. Shay did a check, he shook his head, before stepping out of the room and gesturing for the others to follow. “I’m afraid it appears she’s gone into a first stage coma. We weren’t fast enough with the modifications.”
“But she’ll wake up won’t she?” Donna asked, reaching for and holding tight to the Doctor’s hand. “She has to. The modifications will cure her.”
“It is unknown,” Dr. Hrim said. “The patient is not of our species, and this version of anti toxin has not been tested. I think you must face the fact that the patient most likely will proceed into second stage coma, and die.”
Donna whirled towards Dr. Hrim and slapped him. “She is not ‘the patient’, she’s a person, our daughter, her name is Isabelle Renee Noble-Smith, and she’s not going to die!” she shouted. The Doctor squeezed her hand, and pulled her close. Donna buried her head in his neck, trying desperately not to cry.
“I am sorry, Ms. Noble,” Dr. Hrim said. “I was only stating the facts.”
Wilf stepped forward, and took Donna’s hand. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s go sit with our girl, have some of the tea your mum’s got together, and let the Doctor deal with these gentlemen.”
“But…” Donna started.
“Go with Wilf, love,” the Doctor encouraged her. “I’ll just be but a minute,” he kissed her softly, wiping away a couple of stray tears she’d let go. He gently gave her a push in Wilf’s direction and she went with her grandfather.
Once they were inside Belle’s room, and the door shut, the Doctor turned to the physicians, leading them to the console room, knowing they’d done all they could for Belle. At the doors, the Doctor thanked them. Dr. Hrim acknowledged it, then left the TARDIS. Dr. Shay stood back for a moment. He handed him another vial of anti toxin. “Modify this one as well. It’s a slim possibility, but she may come out of it with more doses of your concoction. Our standard dosing is every two hours.”
“Thank you. I will.”
“Another thing before I go. If the fates decide your daughter should not wake, and recover, I recommend you take her home. Let her pass on the world she knows. She may not be aware of it, but it would be a comfort to her. And to your family as well.”
“That was my plan. Thank you again, Dr. Shay. For everything. For your sake and your son’s though, the authorities should be informed of the freyDicanthis.”
“You are most welcome Doctor. And as for that blasted serpent and my son, that has been taken care of. The call was placed as soon as the request for freyDicanthis anti toxin went through, though who the person or people holding the creature were unknown at that time,” Dr. Shay turned and left the TARDIS, and the Doctor, after watching him get into the transport to take him back to the hospital, went to the console and set the coordinates for Chiswick.
After confirming that the TARDIS had landed in Chiswick, specifically the Noble’s back yard, the Doctor headed back to Belle’s room. On the way there, he ran into Wilf who was helping Sylvia with two trays, one with tea, and the other with sandwiches. He told them where they were, but no other conversation went on. They entered Belle’s room, the Doctor going to Donna who was sitting in a chair next to Belle’s bed, holding the uninjured hand of the comatose girl. He placed his hand on her shoulder, and she reached up with her free hand and squeezed it.
Wilf and Sylvia set the trays down on Belle’s dresser, and went to sit in chairs on the other side of the bed, but were unable to hold Belle’s hand as it was the one with the large weeping reddish purple lump, where the freyDicanthis had bitten her. There was a small hand towel under her hand to catch the fluid that drained from the wound, as the Praxi medical staff had recommended against bandaging it up for the first while. Open air they said would be better for it at first and it would heal faster. Provided she survived the coma.
The Doctor checked the IV going into the girl’s arm, and added yet another dose of the modified anti toxin. He calculated that he had enough for three more doses. Once that was done, and a scan with the sonic and the TARDIS confirming that Belle was still in first stage coma was done, he moved to Donna’s side, and shifted her, picking her up, and taking her place in the chair. He sat Donna in his lap, cuddled her close, kissing her hair as she tucked her head under his chin. With nothing else to do but wait, he began to hum a soft Gallifreyan folk song, one that Belle often asked the TARDIS to play for her. He gave a small smile when the timeship accompanied him softly.
Almost twelve hours later, with no change in Belle’s status, Wilf and Sylvia were sleeping in their chairs, the Doctor and Donna were also asleep. Donna’s sleep was becoming anything but restfull. She shifted in the Doctor’s lap, muttering under her breath. The Doctor woke up, and tried to wake her. He listened to her mutterings and recognized the 23rd Psalm as part of it. When she began to cry in her sleep, he shifted her, and shook her a little. Jerking awake with a cry, she looked around the room wildly before setting eyes on Belle. Apologizing for waking the Doctor up as well as Sylvia and Wilf, she tried to relax again, but this waiting was taking it’s toll. She felt on edge. Like she needed something, but what?
Getting up, she went to the long cold tea, and wilted sandwiches no one had had the heart to eat earlier. For some reason this set her on edge more, and she began to pace. She didn’t know what she wanted, but she wanted something. She stared at Belle some more, before rounding on the Doctor. “Why isn’t she awake yet? Why isn’t she getting better? She should be getting better. Why is it taking so long?”
“Donna, I can’t answer that. I don’t know,” the Doctor went to approach her, but she backed away.
“Why don’t you know? You’re the Doctor. You know everything. Why don’t you know this?”
“But this is an unknown, love. Humans have never been exposed to the toxin of a freyDicanthis, this modified anti toxin is untested. I know in theory it should work, but in reality…”
“I don’t want to wait anymore. I want her to wake up. I can’t sit in here waiting anymore. You wake her up. You make her wake up. I can’t do this. I can’t…I need…I…”
“Donna…,” he moved toward her again sensing the possible onset of hysteria.
“I need…Doctor…I don’t… I need…”
He took her face in his hands. “You need a break. You need to get out of this room. Away from this room for a little while. That’s what you need,” leaving her no room to argue, he kissed her. “I know a place. Come with me,” he moved one hand to grasp one of hers, and glanced at Wilf. “The TARDIS will monitor Belle. I need to take Donna somewhere away from this room for a break, and then we should all probably eat something. Can you and Sylvia take care of getting some food ready? I don’t think we’ll be eating those,” he gestured to the wilted food.
He led Donna to the console room, where he punched in some coordinates. They felt the TARDIS move, and then the Doctor checked outside of the doors. Satisfied they were in the right place, he threw on his duster, and handed her a similar coat. Taking her hand, he led her out of the TARDIS.
“Where are we?” she asked as they exited.
“Trust me,” he answered back, leading her forward.
They passed the dead tree roots of an enormous tree that had fallen over apparently years ago, which the TARDIS was parked behind.. She could feel cool air, hear a roaring sound, and there was a smell of salt in the air. Going around the tree roots, they were blasted with wind, and the roaring grew louder. They found themselves on the edge of a cliff overlooking an ocean, who’s waves were pounding the cliff and boulders below. One swell crashed into the boulders, and sent salty spray over their heads.
“Where are we?!” Donna asked again, shouting to be heard over the tossing sea.
“West coast of America. Along the coast of the state of Oregon. Mid November I believe.”
“This is the Pacific Ocean then.”
“Yeah. Storm season is magnificent here. This cliff is 80 feet high, those boulders are 40 or 50 feet. Makes for really rough surf during the storms.”
“Why here?” Donna was curious.
“It felt right. You’re angry, upset, scared. As am I. So is the ocean here. It’s tossing about, the wind is howling, and judging by those clouds, it’ll be raining soon, and quite heavily. This place is reflecting our feelings, and perhaps you need to see it.”
She said nothing more, just took his hand and stared out over the roiling ocean. The wind whipped their hair, and coats, tugging on their trousers. Twice, large swells crashing over the rocks below threw salty spray over them, making them shiver in the cold air. She turned to look at him, and noticed that like hers, his jaw was clenched and trembling to keep the sobs inside. When the rain started, first lightly then so heavy the view of the ocean was distorted, she let some tears go, and assumed he did as well, as he gave a couple loud sniffs. Then, it was back to watching the storm tossed seas, letting their emotions ebb and flow with the waves.
When they were thoroughly soaked, and almost violently shivering, they turned as one, and walked back to the TARDIS. The timeship gave a small hum of disapproval at the rain water and salt water dripping off of them onto her floor. “Oh, my Lord!” they looked up at Wilf’s voice. “Look at the state of the two of you? Are you trying to make yourselves ill?”
“We just…we…” Donna couldn’t articulate what they’d done out there. ‘We needed some air,” she finally mumbled. She took the towels the TARDIS provided and Wilf handed her, handing one to the Doctor.
“A hot shower is in order I think,” the Doctor said, shaking water from his hair. “Sorry!” he called out as the TARDIS gave a louder disapproving hum. He led Donna out of the console room and down the long winding corridors that led to their rooms.
They showered separately, meeting up in his room. Donna arrived just as the Doctor finished getting dressed. When she came in, the TARDIS was blasting the Doctor’s head with hot air, drying it, and did the same to Donna, who dragged a brush through the resulting mess. She dropped the brush to the top of the Doctor’s dresser, when she felt no energy to continue. The Doctor took over the task, first with the brush, then with his fingers, sensing she needed the comfort. When she started to tremble, he turned her and pulled her to his chest, feeling her tuck her face into his neck.
“What if…,” she started, and let a sob go. “What if we lose her?”
His arms tightened around her, he had no answer, and was unable to say anything for once in his lives. He buried his own face into her hair, and joined her in her tears. They stood there, holding each other tightly, giving and taking the comfort they so badly needed. Neither knew how long they stood there, the Doctor ignored his time sense, other thoughts taking precedence. But they felt drained, and perhaps a little relieved, to release their feelings. Cleaning themselves up, they shared a kiss, and an ‘I love you’ or two, and made their way back to Belle’s room.
Wilf was already there, Sylvia was there as well, and back asleep. The Doctor and Donna noticed that the chairs that had been there previously were now long, and deep couches large enough for a person or two persons to sleep on. Sylvia and Wilf had claimed theirs, and had left the Doctor and Donna the largest couch that was nearest Belle’s bed. They curled up around each other and as quickly as Wilf had fallen asleep, they fell asleep as well.
The TARDIS was alert and watching over her occupants, continuously running scans over Belle. Hours slipped by, and they all slept on. The TARDIS’s attention was pulled to focus on Belle when the girl began to stir, and moan. She ran a scan once again, and her lights flashed and her hum increased when it appeared that Belle seemed to be waking up. She blew hot and cold air alternately over her pilot and his love until the two grumbled and woke.
Their attention was immediately drawn to the child, stirring slowly. “Belle?” Donna queried softly, touching her hand and smiling when Belle squeezed back. “Belle, sweetie, are you waking up?” Donna gave the Doctor a hopeful smile, and the Doctor ran a scan over Belle with his sonic. “The toxin seems gone,” he grinned widely. “It worked.”
Belle moaned again, before turning her face in Donna and the Doctor’s direction. “…Donna…?” she whispered. “Are you?”
“I’m here, Belle. I’m right here,” Donna tightened her hold of Belle’s hand.
“Yeah. He’s here too. We both are. Mum and Gramps too.”
“How do you feel?” the Doctor asked her.
“Tired,” she mumbled. “So tired. My hand hurts.”
“Go back to sleep, then,” the Doctor said. “You need your rest. We’ll be right here. We’re not going anywhere.”
“Kay. Love you,” Belle muttered already just about back to sleep.
The Doctor leaned over and gave her a kiss on her forehead, Donna doing the same right after him. “We love you too, sweetie,” she said.
“Welcome back, baby girl,” the Doctor added, before pulling Donna back down on the couch with him. Soon they were back asleep as well, this time their sleep was peaceful, they were safe in the knowledge that Belle would recover.
Cliff Donna and Ten stand on:
Tree roots TARDIS is parked behind. It's a tree that was blown down in the '60's by the Columbus Day Storm:
Link to video of the waves at Shore Acres State Park during a storm or a really windy day: