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Whofic!

one of these mornings
by Branwyn

fandom: Doctor Who
spoilers: through "Journey's End"
rating: PG
notes: Gratuitous 4x13-compliant fixit fic, with added baby. Not Doctor/Donna, exactly, but definitely DoctorDonna. Thanks to prof_pangaea for hand holding and idea-wrangling.

summary: Donna comes back to herself.



On the morning of her thirty-eighth birthday, Donna Noble wakes up in her mother's house and decides that she's waited long enough for her life to begin.

Two months of careful saving later, she moves into her own flat. Three months after that, she's promoted to a full time position as personal assistant to the head of human resources at her new firm.

Seven months later, she decides to have a baby.

*

The baby's father is a nice, good looking bloke she met in a pub. He'd smiled at her from across the bar, and she'd smiled back, thinking he looked safe, comfortable, like a grown up version of the kind of little boy she'd have been friends with as a kid. She'd tossed back every drink he bought her till she got the nerve to look him in the eye and explain what she wanted.

He hadn't laughed at her, or run away. They'd gone back to his flat, and everything that followed had been—nice, really, sort of fun. He was gone when she woke in the morning, but there was a note with his number on the bedside table. Donna still has it.

She'd gone to see a doctor straight off, once she'd turned another three sticks blue (she's thirty-nine years old and not in the mood to be laughed at, thanks very much) and the nurse who took her blood pressure had frowned at the numbers on the gauge and asked her to lie back on the examining table while she waited for the doctor.

Donna had picked up a stethoscope from the instrument tray after she'd gone, and pressed it to her stomach, just for a laugh. Nothing to hear yet but her breakfast settling in, she'd thought. But there, somewhere amidst the gurgling of her own digestion, she'd heard it, the brush of one bit of cartilage against another, and she had known immediately that there was something off about the rhythm.

Run, said a voice in her head. Don't let them find out. And before Donna knew it, she was pulling her jeans back on and slipping quietly out past the receptionist's desk, not slowing for a second until she was in the car and back on the road home.

Three weeks later, she still hasn't been to see a doctor. By the beginning of her second trimester, she's remembered why.

*

She's four months along and standing on a corner when it happens, waiting for the light to change. Millions of tiny thoughts are swarming over her mind like ants on an apple core. The sky is white and grey, a vague hope of snow behind the clouds. Her legs are steady underneath her. The crosswalk light turns green.

Donna takes one step forward and plunges headfirst into a black ocean spangled with light. She hears voices shouting, wheels screeching, horns blaring. She can feel the pavement beneath her. She can't open her eyes. The planet is decaying, her body is disintegrating, the universe is compromised of molecules that divide and reassemble, that die and are reborn, and she sees it all, she's the only one who sees any of it happening, she's surrounded by ghosts and she's going to scream—

No, wait, she thinks, I've done this before, this isn't how it ends—

In a space of time so small that Donna measures it in fractions of a single synaptic pulse, the universe shifts, expands to make room for her. She pushes herself upright, and looks around.

"Alright," she whispers to her sleeping baby, buried like the Mermen of Europa in his small dark ocean. "I'm right here, you didn't have to shout."

*

Martha answers her door with such a carefully blank look that Donna is sure the Doctor must have given her the same warning he'd given Donna's family.

"Martha, how are you?" Donna grins, conscious that she may look a little manic. "I'm pregnant."

The deadpan expression slips a little. The gap in the door of her flat widens.

"Sorry for barging in on you like this," Donna continues, "but I've got to have a doctor I can trust for the pre-natal bits, because the baby's half Time Lord, and I can't be bothered explaining the dual cardio-pulmonary system to a bunch of doctors who might try and sell us both to millionaire alien fetishists."

Martha blinks. She opens her mouth as if to speak, but no words come out.

"Oh, it's nothing like that," says Donna. "I'm the Time Lord in all this, not—anyone else." Unbidden, Donna's brain produces a mental image that makes the inside of her head feel as though it needs a good scrubbing clean. She shakes it off. "His dad's a nice bloke, but he's an ad exec from Croydon. I doubt he can tell the time on a clock."

With a visible effort, Martha closes her mouth, swallows, and says, "You—you know what you are, then? And you're—alright?"

Something about the way Martha phrases the question makes Donna want to laugh.

"I'm a Time Lord without a TARDIS," she says. "I'm about to have a baby that's got two hearts, and I'm trapped on Earth in the 21st century. I'm not remotely alright."

Martha arches an eyebrow at her. Donna realizes that this must be how Martha looks at the Doctor when he's carrying on. "I only meant, is your head going to explode?" Martha says.

"Oh," Donna slumps. "Nah. Pregnancy fixed that, if you can believe it."

The look on Martha's face says that she's had a lot of practicing believing impossible things. She opens the door the rest of the way and catches Donna's hand, pulling her in.

*

Three months pass. Donna is home alone when the contractions begin.

"Alright, my lad," she says, when the pain has passed and she has her breath again. She lays a hand across her stomach. She can feel the slow, steady rhythm of the baby's hearts quicken in response to her voice. "We're going to do this fast and easy. No funny business."

She's scared, and ecstatic, and scared,. She thinks longingly of the TARDIS medical bay. She considers changing her mind about hospital. But there are too many stethoscopes there, too many people in the world who might take an unhealthy interest in a child with two hearts, in a woman who carries a sonic pen in her overnight bag.

"It's alright," says Donna again, soothingly. She wants to believe it. The Doctor had witnessed the births of all his children, and never quite lost his awe, or his terror. "Do as I say," she tells her son, "and I promise I'll teach you temporal-spatial mechanics as soon as you're old enough to handle a laser spanner."

There is just enough time to text Martha before the next contraction comes, wiping out thought.

*

She's still using the same mobile she carried when she was with the Doctor, the one with universal roaming and the Doctor's number programmed in the memory.

"Doctor, it's me," she says. He's picked up on the first ring—predictable, pathetic. "Donna. Yes, Donna Noble, do you have biological metacrises with lots of human women? No, listen—Doctor?"

She's still rolling her eyes and listening to him sputter when the TARDIS begins to materialize in her parlor. She hangs up. He spills out the TARDIS doors in a tangle of limbs, his hair sticking up in every direction. He's panting as though he's just dashed down miles of corridor.

"Donna," he breathes, fear in his voice, his eyes alight with hope.

She's so happy to see him she wants to cry. Instead, she slaps him. He yelps.

"That'll teach you to cross your own timeline in my flat again," she tells him. "You can't disturb temporal stability in this quadrant, you'll wake the baby."

The Doctor stares at her, a hand pressed to the side of his face.

"Yeah, that's right. I have a baby." Suddenly self-conscious, she crosses her arms. "He's in the other room. His name's Andrew. You can see him, if you promise to be quiet."

She holds her hand out to lead the Doctor into the nursery, and he takes it, threading his fingers through hers. He squeezes like he's holding on for dear life. She squeezes back, and smiles, without letting him see.

*

Donna's picky about who's allowed to hold the baby, but for some reason she doesn't feel any hesitation handing him over to the Doctor, at least while she's watching. Andrew's comfortable with him, and something in Donna that's older than she is thrills to the sight of the Doctor bent over the blanketed bundle in his arms. They're almost a proper family of Time Lords, something the universe never expected to see again.

The Doctor's thoughts apparently tend the same direction."You know," he says, between coos, "I'm almost as much his mother as you are. Genetically speaking."

"I see your genetic contribution and raise you eight hours of labor," says Donna. "In my body, Doctor, not in a uterine replicator. In case you've forgotten where we are."

The Doctor pouts for a moment, then brightens again. "I could be his dotty uncle," he says. "Everyone should have a dotty uncle. I had fourteen."

"Runs in the family does it?" Donna eyes him critically. "Perhaps I'll borrow the TARDIS and nip over to the fifty-first century, look into some retroactive gene-cleaning."

"No, that's a rubbish idea! Andrew's inaugural trip in the TARDIS ought to be a special occasion. What do you say to a birthday trip to, oh, Adipose 3? Or, no, Andrew's a bit young for toppling empires, we'll wait till he's out of nappies for that. We can start with a small corporation, how about Nestle?"

"Are you mad?" Donna stands with her hands on her hips, feet planted, as though to block the Doctor from sneaking out with the baby hidden in one of his trans-dimensional pockets. "He's not going anywhere with you, and nor am I. Can you imagine, a baby, on the TARDIS? Remember what happened to the cat?"

The Doctor falls into a pout again, but Donna's never been susceptible to his moods. She just glares until he clears his throat and begins bouncing Andrew on his knee, crooning a warbly, off-key version of a Gallifreyan nursery song.

*

Two days later, the Doctor is washing dishes, and Donna comes up behind him. Her heart is beating fast, and she sucks in a breath.

"A viable fragment of TARDIS coral," says Donna, in a rush.

The Doctor becomes, abruptly, still and silent. A faint, wet plop tells her he's dropped the pan back into the sink.

"What did you say?" he says, without turning around.

"Well, it's what he needs," she says, defensive, "not a quick trip around the cosmos before he's old enough to read. He needs a future. He can't stay on one planet for the next six thousand years, it'll never last."

The Doctor does turn around then, rapidly. "Donna," he says, eyes wide, "what are you talking about?"

"Andrew," she says, suddenly uncertain, which is ridiculous. What had all the fear and secrecy been for during her pregnancy, if not for this? "What's the matter, can't you tell?"

The Doctor looks across the room at the baby, asleep in the little rocking cradle he'd brought home for him yesterday. His eyes widen even further, as though he's just seeing him for the first time. He looks back up at Donna, a question in his eyes. Donna gives a small nod.

The Doctor crosses the room, walking slowly, absently drying his hands against the legs of his trousers. He stands by the cradle, and something about his awkwardness, his hesitance, reminds Donna of Jenny, of what happened to Jenny. The Doctor takes the stethoscope from his pocket, warming it against the palm of his hand. Their eyes meet for a second; they don't speak, but the fear that blossoms cold in her chest is there in his eyes. She reckons the sound she hears is the sound of the universe holding its breath.

Then the Doctor bends low, and listens. Donna waits. There's a long, quiet moment of no sound at all, but the baby breathing.

"Donna," says the Doctor, finally.

Donna takes a step toward him. He straightens. They look at each other again. The Doctor opens his mouth, then shuts it.

"I don't remember," he says at last. "I'm so old now. I was just a child when I had my children." He turns wide, panicked eyes on her. "He's so new. Brand new Time Lord. What was it like, just starting out? I don't remember anymore, Donna."

Donna starts to say something, then stops. Motherhood has mellowed her. She'll wait till he's on his feet again to get a dig in. "Don't worry," she says. "I'll tell you all about it."

The Doctor blinks. Donna smiles, then the Doctor smiles. Andrew wakes up. His cry is like the cry of a world being born.

*

Tags:

Comments

( 59 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
lovefromgirl
Aug. 25th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
I LOVE YOU. Please have my Time Lord babies (but only if you want).
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
As long as the Tiembabiez come with dimensionally transcendental bassinets!
(no subject) - lovefromgirl - Aug. 27th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC) - Expand
livii
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
This is completely lovely and very good. Your Donna is wonderful, and so is your Ten. :)
kerravonsen
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
(icon love)
(no subject) - cesario - Aug. 27th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC) - Expand
biichan
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
This is lovely!

(Also? Until I reached the end of the fic I wasn't sure if Andrew wouldn't someday end up being the Doctor. Insane, I know.)
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
UM, NO, I ENJOY TEN & DONNA SHAGGING WAY TOO MUCH TO DO THAT. :-D
kerravonsen
Aug. 25th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Just when I thought people couldn't think of a new wrinkle in post-JE fic!

And what's more, oh, this is lovely writing:
Millions of tiny thoughts are swarming over her mind like ants on an apple core.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
I was particularly proud of that line, thanks! :)
lounge_lily
Aug. 25th, 2008 08:23 am (UTC)
Truly beautiful.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
thank you!
lizbee
Aug. 25th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
I hereby offer you my future half-Time Lord babies.

Please don't eat them.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
I'm confused where the Time Lord half is coming from, in your case.
(no subject) - lizbee - Aug. 27th, 2008 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cesario - Aug. 27th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lizbee - Aug. 27th, 2008 05:07 am (UTC) - Expand
welshred
Aug. 25th, 2008 09:32 am (UTC)
Beautiful writing.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
Thanks kindly!
ancientcitadel
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Donna and Ten were just so perfect. :)
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
they really were. :-) thanks.
bit_of_muslin
Aug. 25th, 2008 01:38 pm (UTC)
Yaaaaay! Just the thing for a Monday morning :)
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Donna doesn't like Mondays! Improving them is her super power!
(no subject) - kerravonsen - Aug. 27th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
sundayave
Aug. 25th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
That was made of spectacular WIN!
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
thank you! :D
time_converges
Aug. 25th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
Brilliant, simply brilliant.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
thanks! great icon.
marginaliana
Aug. 26th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Marvelous. Lovely, and spot on perfect Donna.
cesario
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
Pleased you think so. :-D
girl_wonder
Aug. 29th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
This is delicious. I love it to bits.
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Excellent! *beams*
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 31st, 2008 01:57 am (UTC)
If I'd read the summary for this I would have run away screaming and what a beautiful wee gem of a story I would have missed.

"That'll teach you to cross your own timeline in my flat again," she tells him. "You can't disturb temporal stability in this quadrant, you'll wake the baby."
This line in particular, I loved.
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I felt the same way about the summary as I was writing it. "Am I really doing babyfic with Donna? Really?" :-D
bimo
Aug. 31st, 2008 08:02 am (UTC)
Here via a rec by selenak.

Read and greatly enjoyed! :-)
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
izhilzha
Aug. 31st, 2008 08:14 am (UTC)
omg.

best fixit fic in the history of ever. *goes back to read again*
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
hehehehe thank you. :-)
kattahj
Aug. 31st, 2008 09:14 am (UTC)
Very lovely, touching story. Donna works so very well as a Time Lady mother.

Also, btw, I love your username. :-)
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
thanks! me and 12th night go back a long way. i was feste, at diaryland.
torn_eledhwen
Aug. 31st, 2008 09:46 am (UTC)
Awww, that was lovely.
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
:-D thank you.
fallingtowers
Aug. 31st, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
I'd never have thought that I would be squeeing about a fic that mentions Donna Noble and Time Lord babies in the same sentence, but this is all sorts of brilliant and wonderful.
cesario
Aug. 31st, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, I found it hard to believe I was doing it too, but it sort of took on a life of its own, you know.
rj_anderson
Sep. 4th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was fantastic.
scionofgrace
Sep. 9th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Somehow you made this work, and work well. Thank you!
realdedanaan
Oct. 30th, 2008 01:18 am (UTC)
Heheh,

This was a different timebaby fic. I was sure that the Ad Exec who donated his biological material was the Doctor and that Donna just didn't know and then it turned out she was the Time Lady. I can definitely see the Doctor as a dotty uncle type since Donna won't let him be the other mum.

It would be neat to see how they evolve as a 'time lord family'.
theonlytwin
Dec. 4th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
you are my new god. cool? cause some gods, their power goes to their head (that's why joss wheadon's is so huge), but i think you can handle it.
cesario
Dec. 4th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
I figure I'm new enough to the business to feel more humbled than entitled. Thanks!
nostalgia_lj
Aug. 19th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
He so silly, I thought he knew and then he didn't know.

We can start with a small corporation, how about Nestle?"

*kisses your face*
cesario
Aug. 19th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
Oh good, you noticed. That was totally a shout-out.
eci_frog
May. 28th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
I loved the whole timebaby-scenario! :)
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