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FIC: Snap 1/3

Title: Snap
Author: Adalia

Characters/Pairings: Ten, Donna
Categories: Angst, Friendship, Missing Scene
 
Rating/Warnings: All Ages. S4 spoilers for the SitL/FotD two-parter. Tiny S4 spoilers for PotO and TDD.
Summary/Teaser: How did he get out of the handcuffs?
 
Author’s Notes: This started out as a ficlet to fill in a missing scene for Forest of the Dead, but then it kinda got away from me as such things are wont to do. And thus I give you another 10,000 words of fic I totally did not intend to write. Yeah… I’ll be heading back to GP Who, now. :-)

Teaspoon Link: click for fic
LJ Links: part two | part three



Snap (1/3)

Donna spent an hour looking for Lee. An hour wandering amongst the thousands of confused people who had appeared with her in the library. An hour with absolutely no luck.
 
An hour during which Lee was the only thing on her mind, the only thought she clung to, the only link to her remaining sanity.
 
Her husband. Her children. Gone! She had to find them. She had to find him, at least, if the children had not been real!
 
So, for an hour, she searched. She wandered from room to room, she impolitely stared at people’s faces, she accosted strangers and asked them if they knew a man named Lee. But all for naught.
 
Eventually, she saw someone she recognized. A man in a white spacesuit, running from room to room, accosting strangers the same way she was, except he kept telling them how happy he was to see them.
 
She supposed he was a nutter. But he was familiar, so she followed him.
 
Slowly she remembered that she had met him before. Before… the life which had not been real and yet which had been very real.
 
“Excuse me, er, Mr.…?” she called, catching him as he once more dashed out of one room and towards another.
 
“Lux, Mr. Lux. So happy to see you!” he replied, excitedly shaking her hand and then hugging her. She allowed the hug, awkwardly patting his back for a moment.
 
“Mr. Lux, don’t you remember me?” she asked when he released her.
 
He stared oddly first at her and then at her clothes, finally seeming to register that she was the only returned person who wore a color other than black. Recognition dawned.
 
“Donna, wasn’t it?” he asked. “It worked! He did it, and it worked, and look! Everyone’s been saved!”
 
“I know, it’s brilliant,” Donna replied, but her voice lacked the enthusiasm her words implied. “Look, Mr. Lux, can I ask you a favor? I need to find someone. My husband. He should be around here somewhere…”
 
“Last I saw him he was down in the computer core with Professor Song,” Mr. Lux replied. “I can show you the way if you like.”
 
He turned to walk down the corridor, but Donna grabbed his arm and stopped him.
 
“Wait… how could you know Lee? I only met him in… in the computer world,” Donna wondered, confused.
 
“Lee? Is that his name? He never said. The fellow you were with when we found you. The Doctor,” Mr. Lux explained.
 
“Oh, we’re not… we aren’t…” Donna began to immediately deny out of habit, flustered. Then her eyes widened as memory blossomed in her mind and she yelped, “Oh, my God! The Doctor!”
 
“Yes, that’s him, do you want me to show you where I last saw him or not?” Mr. Lux replied.
 
“Yes!” Donna answered, grabbing his arm and beginning to drag him off in the direction he had started to move before. Then she stopped suddenly. “No! Wait! Lee, I need to find Lee!”
 
“But that’s where we’re going,” Mr. Lux replied, confused.
 
“No! Lee isn’t the Doctor! Lee is my husband! He’s one of the people returned from the computer world. I’ve got to find him, can you help me?” Donna asked.
 
“There’s a catalog of everyone who was in the library. We’re checking people’s names off to make sure everyone is taken care of. We can search the computer records for him if you like, but they’ve only just started working on the list. Odds are he won’t have been counted yet,” Mr. Lux explained.
 
Donna took a deep breath to calm herself. “All right, then, I’ll just have to wait a bit, then we’ll check the computer records, yeah? It’ll be easy. Okay.”
 
“Okay,” Mr. Lux repeated.
 
There was a pause, and Donna saw him watching her strangely again. She raised her eyebrow at him.
 
“So, er, do you want to go find the Doctor, now?” Mr. Lux asked.
 
Donna gasped as her memory rearranged itself again. “Oh, I’ve got a head like Swiss cheese!”
 
She wasted no more breath on words. She grabbed Mr. Lux’s arm again and set off down the corridor.
 
Mr. Lux dug in his heels and dragged her to a halt just before the turn into the next set of corridors.
 
“Oi! What is it now?” Donna asked impatiently, as if he had been the one confused about what to do next.
 
“Nothing, it’s just that we have to go this way,” he replied, pointing towards a doorway.
 
The door led to another circular reading room, bathed in blue light from a glowing circular panel in the middle of the floor.
 
“This way down to the computer core,” Mr. Lux said.
 
Donna looked down at the panel skeptically.
 
“It’s perfectly safe. Come on,” he said. He was the one to grab her arm, this time.
 
He dragged her forward, into the blue light and onto the panel. Even though she had half expected it, Donna startled when the panel slowly began to move downward.
 
They slowly picked up speed, until they were zooming along. Donna spent most of the journey with her eyes squeezed shut, trying not to imagine what it would feel like to splat horribly at the bottom.
 
Then they began to slow, until it felt like the panel they stood upon was floating on a breeze. And then Donna felt the floor settle beneath her feet. They’d reached the bottom.
 
“This way,” Mr. Lux repeated, stepping out of the beam of blue light and heading down a short corridor for a room with a bank of computer terminals.
 
Donna followed him, taking in her surroundings. The area they had landed in was part computer room and part machine shop, dimly lit and with a distinct air of dusty disuse. A few panels along one wall were pried open and there were cables leading away from them, around to the other side of the computer bank.
 
Mr. Lux followed the cables, stopping momentarily to sigh and sadly whisper, “Oh, Anita.”
 
Donna saw why as she caught up to him. There was a space-suited corpse lying crookedly on the floor just behind the bank of computers.
 
“Have you come back for him?” a child’s voice spoke suddenly.
 
Donna pushed past Mr. Lux and to the other side of the bank of computers. There was a node there, and Donna supposed it was a mark of just what kind of day she’d had that the thought of a statue with a real face no longer bothered her.
 
“For who?” she asked the node with a child’s face.
 
“The Doctor,” the node replied. “He’s stuck. Over there.”
 
The node’s head rotated slightly to indicate the other side of the room. Donna stepped completely around the computers and into the opposite section of the U-shaped space. She had to hold back a sympathetic sob at the scene she saw there.
 
“He needs help,” the node continued. “But I can’t help him. Will you?”
 
“Yes,” Donna whispered. “Yes, I’ll help him.”
 
She could hear Mr. Lux speaking quietly to the node, calling it CAL and thanking it for all it had done. But she wasn’t really paying attention to the node or to Mr. Lux any longer.
 
Another space-suited corpse sat plugged into some sort of machine in a strange metal seat on the back wall. It was River Song, and she was definitely dead. She was slumped over, an unpleasant-looking device crowning her curly red hair, the green lights on her collar flickering.
 
On the floor at her feet were her blue diary and both sonic screwdrivers, beside what looked like a strangely-shaped gun. They had clearly been placed just out of the reach of the room’s only other occupant, not that he actually seemed interested in trying to reach them.
 
The Doctor sat against a support pillar, left leg tucked under right, right hand lying still in his lap. His left hand was cuffed to a pipe running along the pillar near his head. His left cheek rested on the cuffed hand, propping his head up as he stared forlornly across the room at the blinking lights on River’s collar. He looked… defeated. Limp, still, and defeated.
 
Donna stumbled across to him, making the slight detour necessary to blindly scoop up one of the screwdrivers as she went. He only seemed to notice her when she knelt beside him and rested a hand on his knee.
 
“Hello,” he said then, his voice mild. His empty eyes looked solemnly up at her. “Screwdriver. Please, Donna, I’d like to get out of here now.”
 
She handed him the screwdriver, which turned out to be River’s. He stared down at it for a moment. Donna watched his face, wondering what he was thinking and what had happened to leave River dead and him in this position.
 
They both startled when River’s comm unit crackled.
 
“It’s… it’s okay,” came River’s ghostly voice. “You’ll see me again. It’s okay.”
 
Donna watched numbly as the Doctor winced and fumbled the screwdriver. She caught it and handed it back to him. He snatched it from her hand and immediately began to sonic the cuff that kept him bound to the pipe.
 
“It’s okay,” said River’s comm unit. “Hush now. You’ll see me again.”
 
The Doctor let out a small whimper of frustration and redoubled his efforts with the screwdriver. The pitch of the sonic device increased, until for a moment Donna was sure it was about to explode.
 
The comm unit crackled again. “Hush now. It’s okay.”
 
“She’s ghosting,” Mr. Lux observed unnecessarily.
 
Donna whirled to look at him, having almost forgotten that he was there.
 
“I think that’s obvious,” she snapped.
 
Another crackle from the comm unit. “Hush now.”
 
“She must have stopped him,” Mr. Lux continued, heedless of Donna’s annoyance. “He was going to do… that. Plug himself in. She must have stopped him. But that was over an hour ago.”
 
At that, Donna whirled back to look at the Doctor again. He was still determinedly attempting to unlock the cuff. He seemed to be fighting against his own shaking hands as he tried to aim the screwdriver.
 
“You’ve been stuck down here with her… with her ghost… for an hour?” she asked him, suddenly feeling incredibly guilty that she had forgot him. She looked over at River, watching the green lights blink again.
 
“You’ll see me again. Hush now.”
 
He’d probably had to watch her die and then he’d been trapped here, for over an hour, with her ghost. Donna shuddered with horror. River had acted like she loved him, so how could she be so cruel? Perhaps she just hadn’t realized...
 
“The memory transfer fused her pattern in the neural relay,” the Doctor explained, still focusing the screwdriver on the cuff. “I’ve no idea how long she’ll last. But she’s been cycling. She’s quiet for a while and then she starts looping again, always the same words…”
 
“It’s okay,” the comm unit repeated again, always with the same urgently whispered tone of voice. “Hush now. You’ll see me again.”
 
“Can she hear us?” Donna asked, tearing her eyes away from River’s body to watch the Doctor’s slow progress with the cuff.
 
“No,” Mr. Lux replied. “You don’t have comm units and mine is off. I could…?”
 
“No,” the Doctor replied tersely. “Don’t.”
 
He turned the screwdriver over in his hand and its pitch changed again.
 
“Come on!” he growled at it. “Why won’t you open?”
 
“Hush now. It’s okay,” crackled River’s comm unit.
 
The Doctor made another small noise of desperate frustration. Donna looked from his face to the screwdriver, noticing again how badly his hands were shaking. It was in telling contrast to how still he’d been before she’d given him the screwdriver. Before River had started ghosting aloud again.
 
Donna reached up and carefully placed one of her own hands around his. She steadied him, and together they aimed the sonic screwdriver at the cuff. The screwdriver whirred across multiple pitches in quick succession.
 
“It’s okay,” River’s comm unit repeated. “You’ll see me again.”
 
The cuff finally snapped open and the Doctor scrambled to his feet, pushing past Donna.
 
“Hush now. It’s okay.”
 
He stumbled over to River’s body before Donna could even try to reach out to him.
 
“It’s okay.”
 
He stopped in front of her, still clutching her screwdriver. He seemed to look down at it for a moment, then lifted his head again.
 
“I’ve got your sonic,” he told the corpse, the slightest tinge of manic hysteria in his voice. “Snap!”
 
His words confused Donna until she remembered River saying almost the same thing to him when Proper Dave had first had two shadows.
 
“It’s okay,” River’s comm unit seemed to reply. The green lights flickered again, and the tiny speaker crackled. “It’s okay. It’s… it’s… it’s…”
 
Her voice continued, stuck on that one word. To Donna it seemed exactly like Miss Evangelista’s last moment, except most of the green lights on River’s collar were still lit.
 
“It’s… it’s… it’s… it’s…”
 
As Donna watched, the Doctor’s shoulders slowly began to tense. His empty hand clenched and unclenched at his side once, then again.
 
“No offense, Professor, but shut up!” he snapped suddenly, angrily. He directed the screwdriver he still held at the looping comm unit.
 
There was a short burst of the usual sonic whine and then River’s comm unit sparked slightly and went quiet.
 
“Doctor!” Donna cried, horrified at what he’d done. It seemed so callous. Disrespectful. Not like him at all.
 
She found herself moving in involuntary reaction, pushing herself up off the floor and crossing the room to stand beside him. She wasn’t sure what she had intended to do when she got there, since she couldn’t quite bring herself to slap him. She settled for glaring at him reprovingly.
 
He ignored her anyway, instead reaching down to snap the now silent comm unit off the suit’s collar.
 
She yelped his name again, reaching her own hand down to try to stop him. Their hands came away from the suit together, the comm unit cradled between them.
 
They both looked down at it. The green lights were still brightly glowing, occasionally flickering.
 
“The neural relay is still active. Her pattern’s locked,” the Doctor whispered. “She’s in a sort of… well, a sort of stasis. Trapped in one moment, unaware of time passing around her. I just… turned off her speaker.”
 
He turned to meet her gaze, and Donna looked up into his eyes. They were such ancient eyes, filled in that moment with so much pain.
 
“I just…” he repeated, swallowing thickly. “I just wanted her to stop. Is that… all right?”
 
Incredibly, he sounded like he was honestly looking to her for reassurance that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Donna reminded herself that he had been trapped with River’s ghost, forced to listen to her repeating those same words of comfort until they had probably been perverted into mocking refrains, slowly driving him mad with each repetition.
 
If he’d snapped a little bit, begun resorting to a callous disrespect of the dead in order to deal with it, then Donna couldn’t really blame him.
 
She gently closed his fist around the comm unit, keeping her hands wrapped around his.
 
“Yeah. It’s…” She cut herself off, mentally wincing and cursing herself for being six kinds of stupid. She’d nearly told him it was okay in an insensitive echo of River’s last words. She swallowed slowly and carefully continued, “It’s fine. What will happen to her now?”
 
“She wanted to be returned home,” Mr. Lux answered her, unexpectedly reminding them yet again that he was still in the same room, silently watching them. “It’s standard procedure on an expedition like this to have… arrangements. She said if anything were to go wrong that she wanted to be returned home, that there was a friend there who would take care of her.”
 
Mr. Lux looked meaningfully at Donna and the Doctor’s clasped hands, where they were still holding River’s comm unit. The Doctor shifted his stance slightly, moving as if to protectively block Mr. Lux from their hands and their precious charge.
 
Donna watched as various expressions crossed Mr. Lux’s face. Loyal anger and determination at first, then exhaustion, understanding, and acceptance.
 
“I’ll make sure her remains are taken care of,” he said finally. “Since you seemed… close… you are welcome to her effects.”
 
Donna shot him a grateful look as he slowly backed away from them and moved to stand beside the node.
 
“CAL, please teleport out Professor Song and the remains of the other deceased members of the expedition,” he requested. “Hold them in the buffer for now.”
 
“Teleporting,” the node replied, and the child’s face closed its eyes in concentration.
 
There was a noise and a flash of light behind her, and when Donna turned to look the metal chair was empty. Only the wires and pieces of the strange device were left strewn across it. River was gone.
 
Donna looked back to the Doctor, worried about his reaction. But he was still looking down at their clasped hands. River’s physical remains were clearly unimportant in his mind in comparison to her mental pattern, her suspended consciousness.
 
“What will happen to her now?” Donna asked him again. “Doctor?”
 
The Doctor took a deep breath. “Given a constant power source, the relay might hold her pattern forever. I don’t know. I don’t… oh, Donna.”
 
The look he gave her then tugged at her heartstrings. He didn’t so much seem sad or emotional as just tired and a little bit lost.
 
What was she supposed to do with him? She was still reeling from her own heartbreak and still clinging to her own desperate hope. She needed to find Lee.
 
But she couldn’t just abandon the Doctor. She’d already abandoned him once by forgetting him and thereby leaving him trapped in a horrible situation. Cuffed to a support beam in a room with a corpse and forced to endure a terrible emotional battering at the hands of the corpse’s ghost… Donna shuddered again just thinking about it. She still felt guilty even though it hadn’t been a conscious choice on her part.
 
And the look on his face... she couldn’t just turn away from that helpless look no matter how desperate she was to find her husband. No matter how badly she needed to reassure herself that Lee, at least, was real, even though their children had not been. Her children, her two wonderful children, who were both gone, just dust in the wind in a fantasy world.
 
Donna’s outraged maternal instincts made themselves known once more, clamoring for her attention and causing her eyes to tear up.
 
The Doctor, if possible, looked even more helpless as his gaze shifted slightly and seemed to follow a tear as it trickled down her cheek.
 
Donna realized suddenly that she wanted to hug him. It wasn’t in her nature, or it hadn’t been before she’d been a mother. And it certainly wasn’t something the two of them did. They weren’t that… touchy-feely with each other. Not even when they had both been crying over the Ood. Not even when his clone-daughter had died in his arms.
 
But no matter what was real and what was fantasy, Donna felt like a mother without any children. And the Doctor looked terribly like a lost, little boy.
 
“Oh, c’mere,” she said, releasing his hands and pulling him into a hug.
 
He seemed surprised at first, but then he reached around her to return the embrace. She could feel one of his hands still in a fist as it rested against her back, still holding River’s comm unit.
 
They held each other for a long moment, just standing there and breathing.

tbc...

Comments

( 19 comments — leave a comment )
honorh
Jun. 13th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
Gah, that hurts--just like the episode's end. I really felt for Donna, trying to find the man she'd loved for what felt like years. And the Doctor, trapped with River's data-ghost--that had to be horrible. This is lovely, as usual from you.
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! I couldn't resist River's data-ghost.
mamfidd
Jun. 13th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)
Oh, this is heartbreaking. And lovely.
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)
bulky_monster
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)
I whimpered :(
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
::hugs you::
bulky_monster
Jun. 15th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
lol *hugs* I'm better now.
dark_aegis
Jun. 13th, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh, that explains so much. And it's so very painful. I feel for both of them... *hugs them both* *goes on to read the next installment*
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh, that explains so much.

Yay! That's largely the reaction I was hoping for.


And it's so very painful.

That was the other reaction I was hoping for. They keep doing awful things to him in the episodes and I keep imagining and/or writing even worse things to fill in the remaining blanks.

I'm evil. *g*
foalen
Jun. 13th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
What a sad and terrible thing to have to go through. But it was brilliantly written as your stuff always is.
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked the fic. :-)
hence_the_name
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
Wow. This is beautiful. River's data ghost...that had me just on the edge of hysterical sobbing. You get everything, in just the right measures--both of their grief, and the fact that neither of them can really explain to the other, and Lux's interjections were just as startling and heartbreaking to me as they were to both of them.

Really, really amazing fic.
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. :-)
syzygy_lj
Jun. 14th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
That was a really good one.
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :-)
supasass
Jun. 14th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Oh, bless this was such a sad fic. I found myself resenting River during bits of the two parter for no proper reason sometimes but hearing her data ghost made my soul ache. There's everyone's pain scrabbled around everywhere, and the Doctor's reaction is just how I imagined it. Wonderful xx
adaliafic
Jun. 14th, 2008 06:36 pm (UTC)
I didn't like River at all at first, but I loved the idea of her character and she slowly grew on me.

I'm glad you enjoyed this story! :-)
tkurogrym
Jun. 27th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
As usual, beautiful -- heart-wrenching and horrible yet so very lovely in its display of regret, compassion, and friendship. Lux's somewhat ham-fisted commentary makes a nice counterpoint, too, breaking the tension and serving to heighten it.

As you know, I wondered how the Doctor would finally free himself. This makes so much sense, and I love Donna's occasional distraction as she also remembers Lee. I hadn't considered what River's data ghost might be like - but this is undoubtedly it. And you've chosen your words of comfort well. Her line, "Hush now," in the episode is so intimate, gentle, knowing, and protective; it's so compelling to see it echoed here. Poor Doctor. Poor Donna.

Laugh of the moment, however? This ends on a TBC, utterly bereft and sorrowful -- and then the reader's eye naturally passes over you chosen "mood" when posting: "Cheerful." Makes me chuckle. ;)

Sorry it's taking me so long to get around to reading. I've been saving these for when I could enjoy them!
adaliafic
Jul. 3rd, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
Yeah... I thought about how strange that was only after I posted it. It happend because all three posts went up at the same time, and I was cheerful because I was posting! Oh, the silliness. :-)

I love that you comment on things like Lux's counterpoint, Donna's distraction, and the word choice for River's data ghost. Fiddly bits like that make me happy as a writer. :-D
( 19 comments — leave a comment )

Profile

adaliafic
Adalia Zandra

greetings

This is adaliazandra's fic journal, which she hadn't planned to use very often. That plan has since been defenestrated in favor of posting fic update notices and rambles about DW and TW.

If you note the spiffy paid-account layout, that's because nightrider101 is simply the most wonderful person ever! :-)

If I seem to have disappeared off the face of the Internet, it's because I probably did. I don't actually *like* suddenly ignoring my LJ friends and leaving my stories hanging, though, so odds are I'll be back eventually.