Beyond Human by Danny_B
Part 1: From out of the blue...
In the vortex, the blue police-box shape of the TARDIS spun, the Doctor within all on his own. It had been two months, relatively speaking, since he'd left Donna behind, memory-less and bratty. Two months, and he hadn't tried looking for another companion. The encounter with Davros had left him a bit more shaken than he'd care to admit to anyone, and he just needed some time to think.
And for matters like this, he thought best when he was working. He'd been giving the TARDIS a complete tune-up, and right now was in the middle of re-aligning the temporal baffles, for the third time in as many weeks. A couple of the other things he'd tweaked had necessitated the second and third times.
The console bleeped and the Doctor stuck his head up through the gap where he'd removed the floor panel to get to the machinery under the console.
He pulled himself through the hole in the floor and strode over to the communications section of the console. He frowned in bemusement as he brought up the email message.
"I hardly ever get email," he said to himself. Intergalactic telegrams, time-space telegraph messages, subwave transmissions and other sorts of transmissions, but hardly ever emails. For one thing, the email protocols didn't cover going off-planet. The email came up and he read it at a glance.
Atlas had to bear the world on his shoulders all on his own. You don't have to do the same for the Universe, not anymore. There is evil in the Universe, and it has to be fought, as you've said on previous occasions. And I'm here to fight it too, to help share your load. I'm not trying to replace you, or to even say I'm your equal. I just wanted you to know you have an ally against evil. That I'm here for you, if you need someone.
The Doctor read the email again, then stared at the screen.
He glanced at the signature on the bottom of the email.
He quickly ran a trace on the email. It had originated in Denmark, of all places, before being bounced from server to server across most of Earth before being beamed into space from the radio telescope at Parkes, in Australia. But the computer that had sent it into the server in Denmark had a very distinctive signature, one that the Doctor recognised instantly. The email had been sent from a TARDIS.
The Doctor would have been even more flabbergasted if he'd known the identity of Good Wolf. But not even the Doctor, with all of his Time Lord experience and wisdom, could have predicted the bizarre chain of events and the one freakish coincidence that would lead to him gaining an ally in the fight against evil across the Universe.
It had started with an old friend of his and her family going on what was supposed to be a nice, quiet holiday...
Portduun, Cornwall, England
January 9, 2010
0907 hours local time
They'd only been in Portduun for one night, but Wilfred Mott had already decided that he liked it. It had that sort of small, country town atmosphere that was sadly lacking in today's society, he thought. The sort of town where everyone knew everyone else, and the visitors were made to feel welcome. Granted, Donna wasn't making it easy for them. It had been Sylvia's idea, to have a family holiday just like when Donna was a kid. She hadn't wanted to come, of course, not wanting to drag herself away from her friends and nightclub-hopping lifestyle.
"Why would I want to go to the middle of nowhere for a holiday?" she'd asked stroppily when they'd told her about it. And she'd been complaining ever since. She couldn't get the Internet on her newfangled mobile phone, apparently, and had had to resort to text messaging. Frankly, Wilf still found that to be an incredible technology. He missed Donna. The other Donna, that was, the one that had looked for the Doctor so keenly, then had always remembered her grandfather when she'd been out there among the stars. Yes, the Doctor had explained why they couldn't tell Donna about the life she'd had, but Wilf felt as though something within himself had died, when Donna's journey with the Doctor had come to an end. Wilf sighed. Going back over old, painful memories wouldn't help anything.
Right now he was heading down the main street of Portduun, heading towards the general store. They were staying at the Crown & Boar, a pub that to Wilf's traditional mind, really should have been called an Inn. Donna had complained about the old-fashioned facilities in the rooms. And to top it off, they'd forgotten the toothpaste.
Wilf reached the general store and stepped inside. There was just one woman at the counter, chatting to the middle-aged man behind the counter. He couldn't help overhearing their conversation as he started looking for where they kept the toothpaste.
"...Lily was saying that this was going to happen, sooner or later," the shopkeeper was saying. There was a tone of amusement in the woman's voice as she replied.
"Lily would be a good intelligence agent, you know."
They shared a chuckle, then the man spoke again.
"All the same, Jane, I'm happy for you and Tom. I take it you'll have Father Leary perform the wedding?"
Wilf didn't hear Jane's reply, he was looking at the two different brands on offer. He selected one after a second and took it to the counter. Jane moved aside, and the storekeeper rang up Wilf's purchase. Wilf turned as Jane tapped him on the shoulder.
"Are you here on holiday?" she asked politely. Wilf nodded, giving her a quick once-over. She appeared to be in her late thirties or so, with long wavy dark-red hair that stopped just below her shoulders. Her eyes were a striking emerald green colour. She was wearing a denim jacket over a deep green blouse that matched her eyes, a knee-length denim skirt and a pair of black leather boots. She was rather attractive, he thought, and if an attractive young woman wanted to talk to him, he wasn't going to stop her.
He held out his hand.
She shook it with a warm smile.
Wilf turned and paid for the toothpaste, then Jane turned to the storekeeper.
"I'll be by later, Greg."
The storekeeper nodded, then Jane followed Wilf out of the store. The store was just down from an intersection, with stone buildings behind the footpaths on both sides.
"Is this your first time in Portduun?" Jane asked. Wilf nodded.
"Yes. Me, my daughter Sylvia and my granddaughter Donna."
He shot her a curious look.
"You're not a tour guide?"
He hoped that wasn't the case. One of the reasons he was already liking Portduun was the lack of big-brand commercialism that seemed to be permeating life in London. Jane considered his question for a second, then laughed gently.
"No, not at all. I'm just a stranger trying to help. That's who I was when I moved here."
Wilf nodded thoughtfully. He could tell from her voice she meant what she said, and there was a general air of friendliness about her that seemed to back that up. She nodded over his should as the thought crossed his mind.
"I think someone's trying to get your attention."
Wilf turned around. The white-haired figure of Sylvia Noble was standing on the other side of the street, Donna right next to her. Donna was yakking away on her phone as usual. Once she'd gotten his attention, she started speaking, just as a car drove past.
"Could you speak up a bit?"
Sylvia glanced left and right, then crossed the road.
"I asked if you could get some shampoo, Donna forgot hers."
Across the street, Donna finished her phone call. Silly, self-obsessed Cindy, she thought to herself. Calling just because her boyfriend hadn't called her in a couple of days. Donna snapped the phone shut and slipped it back in her pocket, then realised she was on her own. She spotted Sylvia and Wilf across the road and stepped out, just as her phone began ringing again. She reached down to answer it as she took another step forward, and that was all it took.
A BMW screeched around the intersection, and it was a blind corner. Jane was the first to see it coming.
Donna glanced up, the driver of the BMW slammed on his brakes. Both actions were too late. The car hit Donna with a sickening thud. Time seemed to slow for those watching as her body flew through the air, landing a couple of metres away. The car skidded to a halt just short of where she'd landed. Jane was already moving, as Wilf and Sylvia just stood, stunned. She crouched down next to Donna's prone form. She heard the sound of the car door opening behind her. She recognised the voice of Darren Paye, the manager of the local bank.
Jane reached down and took Donna's hand. Their eyes met and Jane could see pain and inevitability in them.
"Listen to me Donna," she said firmly, "everything's going to be alright. Just stay with me."
Donna managed a feeble, half-nod. Then her body stiffened for a second. She said something that was barely audible, something that sounded like 'doctor'. Of course, she wanted a doctor to be with her. Jane glanced up.
It got his attention.
"Get Dr Walters! Now!"
Jane turned back to Donna. She'd seen a lot during her time in Portduun, and had even helped deliver a baby. But she'd never seen death, not like this. Her eyes met Donna's again, and she nearly blinked in surprise. There was a different look in Donna's eyes, something that seemed to be old, impossibly old. Donna pulled her hand out of Jane's and held it up, so she could see it.
"It's starting," she whispered, "you'd better stand back."
Jane looked at Donna's hand and this time she did blink. Donna's hand was glowing yellow, and as she watched, Jane could see it spreading through the rest of Donna's body. She frowned. It seemed familiar somehow. Donna winked.
"You were right," she said softly, in a voice full of reassurance, "everything's going to be alright."
Jane found that she could believe that. She didn't know what was going on, but somehow, Donna seemed to have the situation under control. Jane rose to her feet and stepped back, just as Wilf stepped forward. She could tell he was anxious, the way he kept looking from her to Donna.
"How is she?" he asked anxiously, "what's going on?"
Jane shook her head.
"I...I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Wilf was about to speak again when a blinding light filled the street. He instinctively shielded his eyes and Sylvia did the same, the first movement she'd made since the car had hit Donna. Jane was watching, transfixed. Something niggled at the back of her mind, something that she should have known, something blocked off. A word came into her mind and she spoke in a tone barely above a whisper, thinking out loud.
"Regeneration," she said, "it's called regeneration."
Jane didn't know how she knew that. And that scared the hell out of her.
But she couldn't worry about that now. These people needed help, that was fairly obvious. And it was her role to provide that. That was the role she'd adopted within the Portduun community, that of troubleshooter.
The light faded away after a couple of minutes, and both Jane and Wilf looked curiously at Donna. She was just lying there, just as she had before the regeneration - was it? - has started. A slight movement of her chest indicated she was breathing, but other than that there was no indication that she was alive. Wilf turned and addressed Sylvia, with a hint of relief in his voice.
"She's breathing, sweetheart."
"Oh thank God!"
Sylvia let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. She could feel her whole body sag with relief, at the news her daughter was still alive. It had only been after the Doctor had taken Donna's memories that she'd realised what her daughter was capable of. She felt a bit disappointed, that she'd never really gotten to know that side of Donna at all. But she couldn't stand to lose her completely.
Jane bent down and took Donna's legs.
"We'd better get her out of the way."
Wilf took Donna's shoulders and lifted her, and between the two of them, they managed to carry her to the Crown & Boar.
Half an hour later, Donna was still unconscious, and lying on the bed in her room in the Crown & Boar. Sylvia and Wilf had given their statements to Constable Tom Waterbury, as had Darren Paye. Right now Sylvia and Wilf were just sitting by Donna's bed, maintaining a hopeful vigil. Dr Walters had examined her and said she was in good physical condition, and that she should be fine when she woke up.
Across town, Tom was back behind the police desk, filing the statements he'd taken. It wasn't the first time Darren had been booked for speeding, but it was the first time he'd hit someone. He'd have to see how things played out, whether Donna Noble lived or died, before he pressed charges.
The door to the police station creaked as it opened and Tom looked up. This time a smile did cross his face as Jane stepped in, but she didn't return it. Her eyebrows were drawn together in a frown, and there was an air of bemusement about her. Tom had never seen her like that before.
"Something wrong, honey?" he asked as he stepped out from behind the counter and hugged her. She returned the hug, but not as passionately as she usually did. She nodded in response to Tom's question.
"It's that woman, Donna Noble. I...I knew what was happening to her, Tom. It was something-"
She broke off, unsure of what to say. The frown had crossed over to Tom's face now, but it was because he knew something about his fiancée that she didn't. Jane Townsend had disappeared in 1999, and hadn't been heard from for any of the villagers for ten years before stumbling back into the Crown & Boar one day last year. The official story was that she'd fallen off the cliff at maiden's point, a popular lookout amongst the cliffs surrounding the village, then had been picked up by a Royal Navy destroyer. She hadn't had any identification on her, so they'd transferred her to a hospital in London.
At least, that was the official story. If anyone asked, it would be verified by the Royal Navy, UNIT and Jane's own memories. But Tom was one of the two people who knew the truth, and he doubted Martha Jones would disagree with the course of action he'd just decided on.
"Something beyond human," Jane continued, her voice a mixture of confusion and fear, "and I knew what it was."
Tom stepped forward and embraced her, expressing feelings that went beyond words. She returned the hug warmly, taking comfort in his embrace. They broke apart after a moment that didn't seem long enough, then Tom stepped back.
"I can shed some light on this, Jane," he said softly. He turned and stepped behind the counter, entering the passcode to open the safe under the counter.
"Really?" Jane asked, a note of hope in her voice. The safe bleeped and swung open. Tom reached in and pulled out an A4-sized brown envelope, with the words 'Do not open until Armageddon' written in precise, neat handwriting on it.
"That's not a good thing Jane," he replied with a tone of sadness in his voice. He ripped the envelope open and tipped it into his hand, catching the gold pocket watch that fell out. He had no idea what the inscriptions on it meant, but he knew someone who would. He took a deep breath, then turned around.
Jane glanced down and found herself unable to take her eyes off the watch. She could feel it calling to her, a faint touch at the back of her mind. Her hand reached out, almost of its own accord, and Tom placed the watch in it. Then he took a step back. It was out of his hands now.
A flick of her finger opened the watch, releasing a golden glow that seemed to hover in the air for a second. Then it floated towards her, enveloping her body for a second before being absorbed. Memories flowed through Jane's mind, memories of several lifetimes, several centuries of time and space. With a sudden clarity she realised that Jane Townsend was just a cover, that she was actually someone else.
Tom saw the unmistakable twinkle in her eyes and he knew the transformation was complete. It was the second time he'd seen it and he still found it hard to believe.
"Hello Doctor," he said. The Eleventh Doctor nodded in reply.
She could feel the memories of Jane Townsend merge with her own, and she immediately realised why Tom had brought her back.
"Doctor," Tom said, a bit hesitantly. It still freaked him out a bit, that the woman he loved was really someone else. The Doctor nodded.
"I know, Tom. I don't know what's happened to Donna, not exactly. But if my suspicions are correct, she may not have much time."
"What do you mean?"
The Doctor shook her head.
"I'll explain later, it's a long story. I need to get to Donna, pronto."
Tom knew it must be serious. The other times he'd seen the Doctor, she'd been light-hearted and slightly cheeky. This time she was deadly serious.
The Doctor knew she had to reach Donna quickly. The Time Lord within her may have saved her from death, but if she remembered any of it, it would be a disaster. The Doctor spun on her feet and strode towards the door of the police station.
The Doctor stopped and turned around, just in time to catch the keys to the police landrover as Tom tossed them to her. She nodded.
"Jane's lucky to have you, you know."
Tom just nodded as the Doctor turned and strode out of the police station. He heard the engine of the landrover rev into life a few seconds later, and he hoped the Doctor would get to Donna in time. He didn't want to have lost Jane for nothing.
Wilf sipped from the cup of tea in his hand, his third in an hour. He was sitting on a wooden chair next to the bed in Donna's room, upon which she still lay unconscious. The room itself was typical of those offered by the Crown & Boar, with the walls, floor and roof made of wood. The only furniture, besides the chair Wilf was sitting on, was the bed and a small bedside table. It was a small, cosy room, with just enough room to pace up and down by the end of the bed.
"Calm down sweetheart," Wilf said as he lowered the teacup, "I'm sure she'll be alright."
"Yes," Sylvia replied, "but what if she isn't?"
"Don't say that."
Wilf glanced at his granddaughter again, then back to his daughter. He knew that things had been hard for Sylvia, ever since her husband had died. He was the man she turned to now, and he had to be strong, for her. And for Donna.
Sylvia stopped pacing and turned to face her father, worry written across her face.
"This isn't normal, Dad! That glowing thing she did, it's not human! It's what that Doctor said."
She paused for a second, collecting her thoughts. There was something else, too. She frowned as she realised she'd missed something.
"That woman...she seemed to know what was going on."
"What do you mean?"
Sylvia took a step forward, becoming more insistent and suspicious.
"She called it something. You were standing right next to her, you must have heard what she said. She recognised that glowing thing."
Wilf nodded thoughtfully. Yes, Sylvia did have a point, but he couldn't see how that would help them now.
The word seemed to hang in the air for a second, as Wilf and Sylvia looked at each other. Then they slowly turned and looked at Donna. She was sitting up in the bed, looking around the room curiously.
"Donna?" Wilf asked. Her gaze met his and he recoiled in surprise. Sylvia let out a gasp. Donna's eyes had changed. They were a deep purple colour, and there was something else about them, something Wilf couldn't put his finger on. Donna looked from Sylvia to Wilf, then back to Sylvia. Her hands went up and she felt her face.
"What are you doing?" Sylvia asked.
"Got a mirror?" Donna replied. Sylvia nodded, still slightly stunned. She pulled a compact out of her handbag and handed it to Donna. Donna examined her reflection for a minute then nodded, satisfied with what she saw. She could see the bemused looks on her family's face and was about to explain when there came a knock on the door.
"Who is it?" she asked.
Wilf got up and opened the door, letting the Doctor through. She smiled reassuringly, still acting as Jane Townsend. Best to go 'undercover' until she knew the full situation. For all she knew, Donna's Time Lord consciousness may have gone dormant again.
"I just came by to see if Donna was okay."
Wilf nodded towards the bed.
"You can ask her yourself, if you'd like."
She looked over at Donna and their eyes met. Then she felt it, the slight telepathic touch exchanged when two Time Lords greeted each other. Donna blinked in surprise.
The Doctor nodded.
Donna's eyes widened in surprise and she blinked a couple of times.
"Blimey," she said, "that last one was quite a change, wasn't it."
The Doctor couldn't help a slight smile crossing her face. This was the Donna she remembered, the one who'd shared all those adventures with her tenth self, the one who'd always been by his side. The one she'd missed. The Doctor turned as Sylvia spoke.
"Donna, what are you talking about?"
The Doctor and Donna exchanged a glance. The message was clear and it was Donna who answered her mother's question.
"She's the Doctor, Mum."
"Doctor who?" Wilf asked.
"The Doctor," the Doctor replied, "the man from the wedding."
She nodded to Wilf.
"When you were laid up with Spanish flu."
Wilf's jaw dropped and Sylvia's eyes bulged.
Sylvia was lost for words, and Donna couldn't help enjoying the sight. Wilf was leaning forward, ready to listen. There was a glint in his eyes that Donna recognised. She'd seen it a few times before, when she'd wandered up and spoken to him on top of the hill where he'd done his stargazing, or when she'd told him about the Doctor. And she knew the explanation would sound better coming from her.
"It's a process called regeneration," Donna said, "a natural part of the Time Lord lifecycle..."
"...during which a Time Lord regenerates every cell in their body," the Doctor continued, "and in so doing changes the physical appearance of the Time Lord in question..."
"...the process also shakes up the brain cells," Donna continued, "resulting in a change of personality."
Wilf nodded thoughtfully, turning it over in his mind.
"You mean," he said slowly, "that the Doctor's species can grow themselves a new body?"
"Yes," Donna replied. She glanced at Sylvia, then did a double-take. Sylvia had her head in her hands, and the expression on her face was something between confusion and anger.
"Mum?" Donna asked. Sylvia just shook her head.
Wilf turned to his daughter.
"Maybe you should take a walk outside," he suggested. The Doctor nodded in agreement.
"We'll have this all sorted by the time you get back."
She shot a meaningful glance at Donna. Donna got the message, and it was what she'd been expecting. She couldn't stay like this, with the Time Lord mind active within her. It had saved her, yes, but it could also kill her. One of life's little ironies, she thought with a trace of bitterness.
The Doctor waited until Wilf ushered Sylvia out the door and closed it behind him. He then took his seat on the chair.
"And this regeneration thing is what happened to Donna?"
The Doctor nodded thoughtfully.
"That's what it looked like."
"But then why is it that only my eyes changed?" Donna asked. The Doctor shrugged.
"You weren't really a full Time Lord, Donna. I think you regenerated just enough to heal yourself from the crash."
Donna tilted her head.
"It feels different, this time."
The Doctor nodded.
"That would be the shaking-up of the brain cells. I can't stay like this, Donna. I need to make sure you're safe, now."
Donna nodded, resigning herself to the inevitable.
"Right, let's get it over with then."
Donna climbed out of the bed and stepped over to the Doctor, ready for what she had to do. The Doctor leant forward, putting the fingers of her left hand to Donna's temple. She took Donna's wrist with her other hand, feeling for Donna's pulse. Just in case anything happened during the process. She found Donna's pulse a second later, then she froze. A curious look came over her face and she stepped back, taking her hand down from Donna's temple but keeping hold of her wrist.
"Doctor?" Donna asked. She blinked in surprise as a tear broke free and ran down the Doctor's face. A smile crossed the Doctor's face, one filled with fondness and wonder.
"You continue to surprise me," the Doctor said softly.
"What are you talking about?"
The Doctor held Donna's wrist up.
"Two heartbeats. Donna, you have two hearts."
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