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06 June 2009 @ 11:43 am
Fic: What's Real  
Title: What's Real
Author: moon_blitz
Rating: PG
Characters: Donna, Lee, Jack
Summary: Donna goes for a walk to clear her mind, and runs into a familliar face along the way.
Spoilers: All of Season 4

“Where you headed, sweetheart?” The question made Donna look up from tugging on her boots to gaze at her grandfather. She had hoped no one would hear her leaving, but apparently her mother’s father still had keen ears.
“I’m…I’m just going out for a walk, that’s all.” she replied with a small smile. Donna was desperate to get out of the house, away from her mother and grandfather, away from the news, to be alone with her own thoughts. The old man smiled in return and shuffled back into the kitchen, allowing her to finally grab her coat and leave.

There was just so much that she didn’t understand. One moment, she had been walking down the aisle, heading towards her adoring fiancée Lance; and the next, she was waking up on top of her bed fully clothed. Normally, she would have put the memory loss down to too much drinking at the party afterwards, but that was where things got weird.

Donna sighed as she crossed a deserted street, not caring where she was heading. She knew Chiswick well, so she wouldn’t get confused and lost. At the moment, it was her memories that were all mixed up. For some reason, she couldn’t remember a thing from part-way through her wedding day until she woke up on her bed a few months ago. Absolutely nothing.

It was like someone had taken a big eraser to the chalkboard that was her memory and had wiped out everything that had happened in between. More than a year of her life was gone, and Donna couldn‘t understand why. She had ended up in a shouting match with mother when she had brought this point up, but neither her mother or her grandfather had explained what had taken place, except that it was better that she “just not know”.

“Why? Why can’t I know?” she whispered aloud, walking slowly into an empty playground and plopping down on a bench. Not only was she missing memories, but both Lance and her job had vanished too.

And then there was the big deal about 26 other planets suddenly appearing in the sky, along with invading aliens. Personally, Donna thought that the entire world had gone mad, since those things just didn’t happen. Or was she the one losing her mind? She couldn’t tell any more.

“What’s real?” she asked the air. But everything was silent, and nothing moved. She closed her eyes for a moment, tipping back her head to breathe in the still evening air. It was then she noticed that the birds weren’t singing. They had been chirping as she entered the playground…the woman tried to remember when they had stopped. She thought it was whenever she had sat down, but she really couldn’t be certain.

“Wait a sec…” she murmured, rising to her feet. Donna could have sworn that everything was starting to glow a faint gold colour. But that was impossible. “What’s going on?” she asked, starting to feel slightly scared.

Everything around her was now emitting a golden light, from the swing set right down to individual blades of grass. “What’s going on?” she asked again, her voice rising a few notches as the light got stronger.

Was she going mad? Or was the world going mad again? She just couldn’t tell anymore. A roaring sound filled her ears as the light got painfully bright. Panicking, she finally yelled, “WHAT’S GOING ON?!” then screamed as the ground started to tremble and she fell to her knees.

Terrified, she curled up into a ball as the roaring became deafening, the light blinding, and the shaking increased. As the world turned into a storm of light, sound and movement around her, Donna let out a soundless sob and squeezed her eyes shut. All she had wanted was a quiet walk!

- - -


Donna lay there, trembling, not wanting to open her eyes and see what had happened to the world. Her heart was beating incredibly fast, so at least she knew she hadn’t died. But what had happened? Has it all been real?

After a few minutes of lying there, she pulled herself together and cracked open an eye. The blinding light had vanished, bringing in its stead a half-lit sky. Sitting up slowly, Donna took stock of her surroundings.

She was sitting in what appeared to be an endless field covered in short stubby grass. Or was it? Bending over, the woman saw that it was indeed grass, but it was coal-black. Glancing upwards instead, her jaw dropped. Perched in the darkening sky were three small moons, all casting faint white light down upon her.

“It’s official…the world has gone mad…” she muttered, still trying to come to terms with what she was seeing. Still gazing skywards, she noted the stars behind the moons. Since her grandfather was an avid stargazer, Donna had a pretty good idea of what constellations were in the sky, but she couldn’t pick out any she knew from ones glinting far above.

“What’s going on?” she asked again, looking around to see if anyone else had been thrown upon this strange world besides her. But there wasn’t even an insect chirping amongst the black grass. She was totally alone.

Drawing her knees up to her chest, the woman wrapped her arms around them and considered her options. She had no food or water, and she doubted the grass was edible. “Well, it is alien grass. Maybe the locals live on grass and moonlight. Might as well try it.” the woman mused aloud, reaching out and plucking a blade from a clump beside her and popping it in her mouth. She spit it out a second later, coughing in an attempt not to gag.

“If that grass is supposed to be eaten, then I’m the Queen!” she sputtered, trying to swallow the rotten taste the grass had left in her mouth. Frowning, Donna resumed thinking. She could always try walking to the nearest settlement. That’s assuming this world was inhabited.

But anything was better than just sitting around doing nothing, and Donna wasn’t the type of person to do that. Rising, she dusted off her jeans and looked around. Identical grassland stretched out on all sides, going on until it merged with the horizon in the distance.

Picking a direction at random, the woman set off at a steady pace, not wanting to tire herself out too early. She continued to walk for a while, quickly loosing all track of time or how far she had gone. Nothing around her changed, just more grass surrounding her.

After about an hour, she stopped, panting a bit. It looked like she had achieved nothing, but Donna was confident that she had made some progress. Gazing around, she sighed, getting slightly sick of seeing nothing but grass. And it wasn’t even Earth grass, no, it was some short black alien grass that tasted like charcoal! At least she could have handled proper green grass, not this black stuff.

Donna was jerked from her thoughts about foul-tasting grass by a change in the scenery. A small area of grass and air just off to her left was blurring, forming a squashed spiral that was rotating slowly. Enthralled and wary at the same time, the woman watched as the spiral became so blurred it looked black.

A loud ‘Whoosh’ made her jump, then the spiral spun out and the area around it returned to normal. Except that there were two people now standing where there had been none before.

“No way…” Donna breathed, staring at the pair. Was her brain projecting the image of them in an attempt to keep her from going mad, or were they real? It was a few seconds before she realized that they were both male.

The taller of the duo was toying with something strapped on his left wrist, apparently unconcerned that someone had seen them arrive. He had dark brown hair and looked handsome from what Donna could see of his face.

The other male was gripping his partner’s arm tightly and looked like he was about to be sick. Even though he was probably paler than normal, he was drop-dead gorgeous with short black hair and dark eyes. Donna felt an immediate attraction towards the shorter male, along with a feeling that she had met him before.

Glancing up, the first man smiled as he spotted her. “Is that her?” he asked, his American accent surprising her ears.. The other man was staring at Donna, apparently too surprised to do more than nod in answer.

Letting out a low whistle, the taller male tugged his arm free and strolled over to her. Donna narrowed her blue eyes in response, recognizing that she was getting the once-over. Turning, he grinned at his partner, saying, “Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed that she was your type.” Facing her, he added cheekily, “How about you ditch him and come with me? I’d give you a good time.” Finishing with a wink, he fell silent.

“Forget it, sunshine. As far as I’m concerned, neither of you are getting me.” she snapped.
“Well, I can understand you not wanting to go with a stranger, but what about him?” the man asked, indicating his partner with a jerk of his head. Although he was handsome, Donna could tell he was nothing more than a flirt, and wanted nothing to do with him.
“What are you talking about? You’re both strangers.” Donna replied, catching the confused look on both their faces at her words.

“You said she would recognize you.” the first man said, sounding slightly put off.
“I-I thou-thought s-s-she would-d, Boe…” the other replied with a stammer, dropping his gaze to the ground. Donna squinted, something tugging at her mind. Now that she heard him talk, the second man seemed even more familiar to her. But why?

“I’ll leave you two alone to sort this out.” the first man declared, walking away a few paces and holding up his left wrist so that the device on it faced outwards. A beam of light shot out of it and hit what seemed like empty air, causing it to ripple and shift. “Let me know when you reach an agreement, Lee.” he called over his shoulder, stepping into the rippling air and vanishing.

Donna stared at the sight, still wondering this whole thing was actually happening. People just didn’t appear out of nowhere or step into thin air and vanish! Confused and upset that she didn’t understand what was happening, the woman glared at the remaining man.

“So, mystery man…I want you to tell me what the hell is going on here, right now!” she snapped loudly, not caring if she was being rude.
He paused for a moment, then started to stammer, but was unable to utter anything other than a few syllables at a time. Irritated, Donna held up her hand, and he quickly fell silent.
“Alright, how about I just ask you questions and you either nod or shake your head?” she asked, settling down on the black grass.
He nodded, sitting down across from her, managing to look both happy and nervous at once.
“You’re name’s Lee?”
A nod.
“That guy…he said you know me. Is that true?”
A enthusiastic nod.
“Right. Former boyfriend?” Donna had had a lot of one-night stands throughout the years, but she didn’t remember ever meeting the man sitting in front of her.
Another nod followed, although Lee looked hesitant about his answer.
“Did I meet you through one of my friends?”
Lee shook his head, frowning.
“Hm…” Donna thought for a moment. “How about at work?”
Another shake of his head followed, his frown deepening.

“Th-The L-Librar-y-y…” Lee’s soft voice made her blink. A library? She had once worked as a temp in a library, but other than that, she hardly visited them. Books weren’t really her thing. Something once again tugged at her memory, and a faint whisper floated through her head, but she brushed it aside.
“A library?” the woman repeated doubtfully.
“The Li-Library.” Lee said again, putting the emphasis on the first word.

Donna was about to tell him that he must be mistaken, but something snapped in her mind, rushing towards her in a whirl of sound and images.
“The Library. A place so big, it doesn’t need a name.” A tall man in a suit stood next to her, gazing out over a massive expanse of tall buildings that reflected the afternoon sun, looking excited as the prospect of exploring them.

She was overlooking a lake, sitting beneath a umbrella with a fishing rod in her hand. Rain pounded the ground around her, thunder booming overhead. Beside her was Lee, also holding a fishing rod. “Lovely weather, isn’t it?” she heard herself ask over the next rumble of thunder.
“…and then you forgot…” a deep voice cut through the flashing images, returning Donna to reality.

Gasping, she put a hand to her head, feeling the headache pound through her brain. What had just happened? She had remembered something, something about her and Lee, but the memories had fled as quickly as they had come.
“Donna. Donna.” She realized that Lee was now kneeling in front of her, gripping her shoulders tightly and calling her name. Looking up into his concerned face, she attempted to smile.
“How do you know…?”
“As I’ve been trying to say, we’ve met before.” he replied, smoothing back her hair and smiling.
“You’re stammer, it’s-”
“Gone, I know. I tend to stammer whenever I feel nervous or experience a strong emotion, but it clears up fairly fast.”
“Ah.”
“Now,” Lee continued, looking serious, “are you alright?”
“I…I don’t know anymore.” Donna admitted, feeling the stress of the past few months press down upon her. Sniffing in an attempt not to cry, she struggled with her emotions. She had always been a strong woman, and now was definitely not the time to have a meltdown. But her body didn’t seem to be listening to her brain as the first few tears trickled down her face.

“It’s just…all…so complicated…” she muttered, sniffling in between words and dropping her gaze.
“Then talk to me, Donna.” Lee replied softly, pulling her closer. For some reason, she felt completely comfortable with being hugged by a near stranger, and she once again felt a mysterious connection to him.

Gripping the front of his jacket, the woman leaned into the embrace and let all the tears flow out of her, sobbing uncontrollably into Lee’s shoulder. The man holding her made soothing sounds as she cried, occasionally rubbing her back or running a hand through her hair. Eventually, once her throat was raw and she couldn’t cry anymore, Donna simply let Lee hold her, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted from her.

- - -


Donna was still seated on the charcoal-tasting grass, but now the man called Boe was sitting beside Lee. Despite his earlier advances, he seemed like a good person, and was now willing to help her.
“So you’ve lost more than a year’s worth of memories and have no idea why?” Boe said, blue eyes staring intently at her.
“Yeah. Anything else you want me to clarify?” Donna shot back, her words tinged with sarcasm.
“Nope, I’m good.” he answered, flashing her a calm smile. “Besides, I know the feeling. Two years of my memory is completely blank, and I have no idea what I did to deserve it.” the man continued, frowning slightly at the thought.
“Oh…” she answered, momentarily stumped for words. Donna hadn’t realized that there might be other people who were in her predicament, but the knowledge didn’t make her feel any better.

“Whoever caused your memory wipe must have had a good reason.” Lee said thoughtfully. “I mean, last time I saw you, we were both in the 51st century on an alien planet.”
“And I don’t remember any of it.” Donna agreed, rubbing her forehead to try and ease her raging headache. “For all I know, I’ve spent a year on Mars eating celery and singing tribal chants.” she added with a slight chuckle. “How did you two get here?” the woman asked, deciding to shift the conversation away from her.

“Lee hired me to track you down so he could meet you.” Boe explained. “Although it took a while, I managed to set up a temporal containment field around you so he could talk to you undisturbed.”
“A…what?”
“A Time Bubble.”
“Sounds like a type of bath soap.”
“It does, doesn’t it? Time Bubble: The bubble brand that can stop time!”
“So, what does it do?” Donna asked, curious to know how this Time Bubble worked.
“Basically, you and a small area around you are shifted out of the normal timeline. While time passes normally on the outside, everything inside remains frozen.”
“So that’s why you stepped into thin air and vanished.”
“Yep. So if you don‘t know where the barrier is and can‘t open it, no matter how far you move in any direction, you‘ll just keep crossing the same small space.”
“Wait…You mean I’ve been walking in circles?!”
“Mmm-hmm.”

Dona frowned at Boe’s amused expression, then asked coolly, “Did you cause me to be taken from Earth and land here?”
“Nope. As far as I can figure it, a stray Rift snatched you up and dumped you on this planet. It’s a one-way street, so you’ll be needing my help to get back home.” he answered, tapping the leather strap on his left wrist. Nodding, Donna looked at Lee. “You still haven’t said why you wanted to see me again.”

Lee smiled, then reached out and squeezed her hand. “Even though everything that happened to us wasn’t real, I still felt a very real connection to you, Donna. I wanted to talk to you to see how you felt about the matter, and go from there. Although, I didn’t expect you to forget about me in the meantime.”
“We…were close, then?”
“Yes. Very close.” Focussed as she was on Lee, Donna still saw that Boe was looking pointedly away from them.
“Feel free to pull that vanishing trick again, Escort Boy.” she muttered, giving him a half-frown.
Snorting, he replied, “No way, I wanna see this cozy reunion. Why else would I accept such a low fee for my services?”
“All you’ll be seeing is my fist if you don’t leave!”
“Fine, fine, I’ll go.” Rising, he walked backwards and grinned. “I’ll leave you lovebirds to it, then. Don’t be too rough with him!” Before Donna had a chance to snap at him, Boe was gone.

- - -


“You’re sure you want to stay here in this century?” Donna asked, shifting sideways on the bench so she could see Lee better.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Lee replied, giving her a confident smile.
“Once I leave, you’ll be stranded here.” Boe warned from his spot a few feet away from them.
“As long as I have Donna, I’ll never be stranded.”
“Alright then, suit yourself. I’m off.” Stretching, the taller male flashed a smile down at the pair and gave Donna a wink. “Look after him, won’t you?”
“I will.” Donna promised with a short laugh. Chuckling, Boe fiddled with the device on his wrist, and gave a short wave. “See ya.”
“Bye.”
“Thanks for everything, Boe.” Nodding, the man pressed a button and vanished into the spiral of black space that appeared. After a few seconds, the space were he had stood was empty.

“Ready to go meet my folks?” Donna asked, brushing a stand of hair out of her face.
“I’m as ready as I’ll even be.” Lee replied, taking her hand and rising.
“Mum won’t go easy on you just because you have a bit of a stammer. She’ll question you until she’s fully satisfied, and maybe then she’ll leave you alone. If you’re lucky.” she cautioned, allowing him to pull her upright.
“I’m sure I’ll survive. After all, I didn’t cross time just to be defeated by your mother.”

Then continued to chat as they walked out of the playground, the birds once more chirping in the trees. Donna was certain that she had found what was real in the world in Lee, and told herself that she would never let herself loose that anchor.

At the entrance, something made her turn around and look back. For a moment, she thought she saw two laughing children running towards her, but the image quickly faded. Smiling, the woman turned and walked away, the sound of their laughter still humming in her ears.
 
 
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