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Title: Mutual Admiration Society Social
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: K+/T
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: The Doctor and Wilfred get along so well when Donna insists that the Doctor properly meet her family that the Time Lord issues an invitation. Donna's confusion abounds. The Doctor can't let that stand.
Disclaimer: Don't own any of these characters. If I did, I assure you things would be very different. Although if you've read any of my earlier works you know that.
Dedication: sarahjag, as my very belated Tatennant Secret Santa ficpresent. So sorry life got in my way. Please let me know whether I can write you another story based on your own D/D or Benedick/Beatrice prompt.
Author's Note: Inspired by a beta reading email back and forth with tardis_mole. Beta'd by tardis_mole.



Mutual Admiration Society Social

Started March 2, 2016
Finished May 3, 2016


“Donna, I don't do well speaking with families!”

“How often have you tried?”

The Doctor's snit was stopped in its tracks and he stared at her, mouth hanging limply from its hinges.

Donna sighed quietly and looked skyward for strength. “Listen, I'm not asking you to join us for dinner. Don't want you to run off again because you don't know how to deal with all things domestic.”

“Donna, it wasn't like that.”

“Then what was it?”

“It's... awkward to explain.”

“Awkward as in you think my puny Human mind can't fathom it?”

He flinched. “As in... social customs of my people and their implications to our history.”

Donna blinked. “Okay... then I guess I won't ask unless you're ever comfortable with it. But can you sit down and speak with my granddad? He wants to hear stories about other worlds. It would make his year, Spaceman. If his health was better I'd ask if we could take him on one adventure, but I can't risk it. So this is the next best thing. Please? I'll even tell him to not offer you food or tea if that'd help.”

The Doctor stilled and took in a deep breath. He needed to gain some strength against Donna's pleading eyes. Every time she got even a slightly teary look when she asked for something he caved within moments.

He hoped she hadn't noticed.

Which was why he found himself following her to the door of the house in Acton. Where every member of Wilfred Mott's side of the family had been born ever since the family came to the house, according to Donna. Where she and her mother moved into after her father's death.

Not that she admitted the last one, but he could read between the lines.

“Your mother isn't here, is she?”

Donna smirked at him. “She's on a Tesco run and likely stopping to check on some friends after what happened yesterday.”

“You spoke with her already?”

“No, but she's a creature of habit. Trust me, she's out and will be for at least an hour. Maybe two. Stay at least until she's back and I'll be happy.”

He tried to not cringe. “Okay.”

“Smile, Doctor. It'll be more fun than you think. And it's daylight, so he won't be asking if you'll join him up the hill. Looking through a simple telescope can't be one of your preferred activities.”

He made a Po-face at her, refusing to answer that one.

/=/=/=/=/=/

Donna stared. She had been sure that her granddad's year would be made, but she hadn't expected the Doctor to include her so much.

In the two hours since they had sat in Wilfred's kitchen she had listened as the Doctor talked about whatever star her granddad asked about, from the details Earth telescopes couldn't yet see to the people that inhabited them. He went on and on, and her granddad only encouraged it with more questions. The two laughed and joked and traded stories – occasionally involving her.

She managed to follow most of the planets stuff, but felt more than a bit lost keeping track of what belonged with what. She wished that she had thought to have paper to take notes.

But she hadn't been able to look away from the Doctor's enthusiastic answers to her granddad's questions. She tended to look away at something around them instead of at him when he was talking. The Doctor's excitement radiated from his eyes and smile, and it was captivating. So much that she felt transfixed.

The door opened in the middle of one of the Doctor's stories and Sylvia entered with groceries. “Hark, look at this mutual admiration society here!”

The Doctor stilled a little, but kept a smile on his face. “Brilliant! I should bring Wilfred and Donna to MASS!”

“You're Catholic?” asked Donna before her mother could.

“No, Donna. Not a mass, but MASS.”

“What's that?”

“The Mutual Admiration Society Social. It's in the 51st century, and they deserve to have a great time.”

“What's it for, Doctor?” asked Wilfred.

“Oh, it's nothing strange. They started it to help those who needed to feel appreciated, and it grew into a lovely gathering that gets bigger and bigger each year. There are subsets that you could attend, but there are also gatherings of the various groups.”

Sylvia scoffed as she put away the groceries. “Sounds like something for people who don't have anything to be proud of.”

The Doctor's good mood instantly 180'd into anger. “Oi! Just because you can't see what an amazing woman your daughter is doesn't give you any right to tear her down! If anything, I'd say you need a MASS meeting!”

Donna's mouth dropped. Wilfred opened his to interrupt, but didn't get the chance.

“And you are delusional!” Sylvia snapped, glaring fire at the Doctor.

He was impervious to her anger, even though it was clear where her daughter got it from. “I can prove it. Because your father and daughter are going, him because he'll fit right in and she because she needs to be away from toxic people like you. Oh, don't like that? Then prove me wrong and come along. Because you, Sylvia Noble, need to see what drew your daughter into what you called drifting! Then you'll see why I won't tolerate the way you've treated her! If it wasn't for her granddad and the fact that she loves and respects you I'd take her away from this planet forever because you don't deserve a daughter as caring as Donna!”

No one spoke.

/=/=/=/=/

The distraction clearly worked, the Doctor thought. Otherwise Donna would have slapped the smirk off his face. And a fair few of his freckles.

Of course the look on Sylvia's face when she realized that the TARDIS was bigger on the inside was priceless. Donna hadn't been that shocked or speechless, even in her more jumbled emotions. Sylvia couldn't speak for a good five minutes. Long enough for the journey to Tattifallairioushappenstance.

Wilfred's laughter rang loud and clear amongst the granddads and retired soldiers groups. He had slowly lost the huge eyes over meeting aliens who looked it, and seemed like he had always been part of the group.

Sylvia's shock continued for a while, rendering her rather quiet in tone and speech. But the Doctor, in a moment of compassion and mostly out of respect for his Earthgirl, found a group of professional women who were also mothers. He recognized one from an adventure in his fifth regeneration, which made for one awkward experience and explanation to a woman already not well-inclined toward him.

But the woman from before managed to draw Sylvia out, and soon enough the Doctor felt able to leave her be. He watched from a distance to make sure, but when a smile finally broke on Sylvia's face along with interest he knew he'd won a huge victory.

Then he frowned. Where was Donna in this madness?

He knew he could go with almost any group here and fit right in. Donna should've found a group by now.

Then he saw her and his face fell. She was standing off to the side, folded in on herself trying to hide.

This couldn't be allowed to last. He rushed over as quickly as he could without attracting attention.

“Donna?” he whispered.

She stiffened and rubbed her face, obviously crying. “Oi! You move like a cat when you want to!”

“What are you doing here at the side? There's even a whole gingers appreciation group! What happened?”

“I... needed time to myself. It's all too much.”

“What's wrong?”

Donna sniffled and took a deep breath. “It... sounded weird, this whole idea. I was willing to try it, as much to try something new as to maybe get my mum to stop criticising me.”

“If I overheard the beginnings of her talk with the mothers in her group correctly, I doubt she'll be anywhere near as bad as before. She might even be very different.”

“That's not what's causing this,” she whispered, motioning to her tears.

“Then what is?” He didn't like seeing her cry. It made him afraid she wanted to go home for good.

“Being surrounded by people who treat everyone like they're worth being treated well, worth admiring, it's... helped me realise something important. Something I didn't really understand about my needs.”

“What is that?”

“The world... the universe could hate me and I'd be okay with that, so long as I had one special person who admired me. A mutual admiration society of two, if you will. Or more, if there were children involved. And my family don't count, because... it's a particular kind of love I've been seeking. Never found it, and this... is making me feel I'll never find it.”

His hearts felt like they sank into his stomach. “Donna... how long have you felt like this?”

“Years, I think. I sought you out partly because it felt like there's almost nothing on Earth for me. No one outside of my family and a few very close friends want me. The rest of the world would be happier if I didn't exist. So... I gave up on dreams I've had since I was little just so I could find some happiness in making a difference, to be that someone who stops you. I know I'm not the one you really wanted at your side-”

“Donna, stop it. Don't talk about my best friend that way. You're exactly who I need right now, who I've needed for a long time, and who I'll need for a long time after. And you deserve to be happy. Even... if it meant you left me.”

“No chance of that, Spaceman. I'm going to be traveling with you forever.”

He closed his eyes. “So many promise that.”

“Well, I'm going to do everything to keep my promise, and I won't betray your trust.”

He wanted to get off this topic since it was bringing back bad memories, and making him begin to question his choice, so he grasped her hand. “Donna, what can I do? Take you to the most amazing coral reefs in the universe? Locate a spa planet? Introduce you to your favourite authors?”

She sniffled. “Thanks and maybe on another day, but I just need time. Time to adjust more to my new reality, where I'm not going to be a mum or a wife.”

Donna sucked in a sharp breath as she found herself in the Doctor's arms, held tightly against him and yet not feeling suffocated. If anything, he was being very gentle with her, almost tender if she thought about it.

The Doctor breathed in her scent, steeling himself to say what he knew needed saying. “Donna, don't give up on your dreams. You deserve to be have those roles. You'd be amazing at them.”

He knew it. He'd seen her with children, and how much she cared for others told him that she could be a great companion in life. She was certainly the best mate he'd ever travelled with.

Donna returned the embrace, sniffling into his jacket. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Spaceman. But where will I find someone?”

“Maybe here, if you're looking.”

As soon as he said it, he swore his hearts stopped beating for a moment and his insides became frozen. Bleakness rushed into his mind.

Donna drew back to look at him. “Doctor, you trying to cheer me up doesn't work when you suddenly seem to need a boost. What is it? And don't lie to me. You know what lying does to me.”

And he did. He remembered her silent tears in the TARDIS once they were on their way to the formation of the Earth, and how helpless he felt. He knew he couldn't step away from his work, and sensed that she thought she needed to be alone. Not that he could leave a woman that upset, and his distraction method worked wonders.

“Come on, Martian Boy.”

That nickname drew a tiny smile from him, just for a second. Then he sighed. “Donna... if you did find someone you wanted to have a family with, you'd have to leave the TARDIS for your children's safety. Developing minds need to be outside of the TARDIS, or bad things happen to them. I've seen it before, and I won't have it happen when I can prevent it.”

“But is that what's bothering you?”

He stilled, mostly from the habit of keeping things too personal to himself. Not that that was going to work here. Not if he wanted to keep his best friend with him. “No.”

“Then what is it, Doctor?” Her tone softened and she moved her hands to a gentle touch over his hearts. “Whatever's scaring you, it might be less scary if you voice it.”

“Do you always voice yours?”

“Not always, but that's because it's habit, isn't it? I won't think less of you, I'm a safe person.”

He was quiet. “Maybe... I'm worried that you'll change your mind.”

“Why?”

“Because of the conditions you placed on our traveling together.”

“What conditions?”

He swallowed. “That you weren't at all interested in me.”

She blinked, pausing a moment. “Okay... one, where is this coming from? And two, I meant no fancying. I've been an object of fancy too many times before, and fancying isn't serious. Neither is infatuation. I'm looking for the long-term, and you... Doctor, you can't possibly be thinking of me that way.”

“Why not? You're a match for me and you make me want to be a better man.”

“What about Rose?”

“She's lost, and... she was what I needed for a time.”

“How do you mean?”

“I was in a very dark place. Her youth, naivety, and curiosity helped me stop wanting to die. But it wasn't until I met you that I realised I needed reasons to live and want to live. To stop running from my past and toward danger, but to find things to happily run towards because I look forward to them. Rose, and I hate to admit this, but she encouraged my reckless streak. The one you've opened my eyes to the costs of. And because of you I'm willing to face things I always ran from because they scared me. Including my own feelings. Rose couldn't do that. I didn't feel safe with her to say what I really felt, and what I thought I felt for her... pales compared to what you make me feel. I never cooked for Rose, instead taking her around to places, but you? I cook for you. Rose kept getting herself into trouble because she wouldn't listen. You listen, challenging me when you think there's a good reason for it. Even... when the timelines say I'm right, you always point out the consequences I never think about. I know you're blushing, but I could go on and on about your good points and how much better off I am for knowing you. It would feel like death to lose you, but I would if it meant that you had the life you always wanted. A life with someone who might actually deserve you.”

Donna was silent. Tears formed again in her eyes, but this time at the sight of the most powerful being in the universe – her best friend – practically placing his hearts at her feet. Her dad and granddad had made it clear what men risk in approaching women they liked a lot, and she always respected the ones willing to make those risks – no matter how she felt about them.

But this time was different. She felt her heart fluttering as she thought about what to do. “What if it doesn't work?”

His eyes went even larger than when she suddenly appeared inside the TARDIS. “You're... not saying no right away?”

“You did notice that I amended my warning after Adipose Industries to 'I'm having none of that nonsense'?”

“I thought you meant anything between us.”

“I meant fancying. I've been an object of fancying. It was doomed from the start. Not doing that again. It's also not exactly... worked for me to be the one making the first move. The most I thought I could do was make steps to improve my life, which for me meant trying to right my mistake and find you.”

“I know you don't believe in destiny, but I do. I think you finding me again was fate, it gave me hope that I might not be alone.”

“So why weren't you more eager to get me to come along?”

“I feared rejection.”

The unexpected honesty floored both of them.

He cleared his throat and carried on. “Donna, what if we miss out on something brilliant out of fear? We don't want to lose each other, so maybe... just maybe... it'll help us stay together.”

Donna looked into the puppy eyes, all forlorn at the thought of losing her yet determined to make his case. He was right – she had confronted fear before to get things done, or start something she wanted. She sighed. “I think love is the greatest risk we can take. Most of us,” she added softly.

His body started vibrating. “So... is that a yes?”

She smiled. “Yes, you great big outer space dunce. I'll take the risk with you.”

He beamed and drew her into another embrace, which she returned almost as eagerly.

They would return to the main events soon enough, find some event or group to participate in. But this new thing required a moment to savor the potential within.

“Spaceman?”

“Yes, Earthgirl?”

“When do we tell my family?”

He sucked in a sharp breath. “Well... maybe telling your mum in front of others would help. Those mothers I left her with were awfully keen to wonder if I was taken.”

Donna snickered. “Well, they'll have to find other unfortunate blokes to latch on to, because I defend what's mine.”

“Good. It's annoying having to feign ignorance of what some of them are doing.”

“Doctor, you are ignorant of most Human motivations.”

“Oi!”

Her laughter made the sting lessen. After all, he thought the way it made her eyes twinkle added to her beauty. One day he would convince her of that. If he hadn't started already.

THE END

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
May. 4th, 2016 02:19 pm (UTC)
Yay! Wilf gets his reward, Sylvia gets her just desserts, and Donna gets her man.
Cute story that made me want more. :)
tkel_paris
May. 4th, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC)
I'm just glad Moley triggered an idea that I hope was okay as a belated secret santa fic. Oops. :*)

Glad you enjoyed it. Did you read my MAAN fic from December?
dm12
May. 5th, 2016 12:27 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, on all fronts! Wilf got his trip to the stars and others to mingle with, Donna got her Doctor... as for Sylvia, it's a little more complicated. I like how the Doctor really laced it in to her for her behavior towards Donna, then took her along with them as well, and found her a group to mingle with, commiserate with, and perhaps, come to some sort of understanding about Donna.

Now, how are they going to tell the family that they are officially "together together?" Could get interesting, but at least Sylvia is away from her axe!
tkel_paris
May. 5th, 2016 06:56 am (UTC)
Yay! A second person liked it! :D

Well, seeing all those women who wondered if the Doctor was available might help her see there's something to him. :P
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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