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Title: Altered History: The Runaway Bride
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T (language, Donna anger, Doctor anger)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Donna Noble's wedding day wasn't what she expected. Disappearing, kidnapped by robots (twice!), being attacked, and learning she had a worthless fiancée. But the most unsettling part is her savior: an alien ponce who makes all Human men look bad. Even when he is acting like the Spaceman that he is.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm taking the Whoniverse and meddling drastically with it.
Special Author's Note: This opening is listed a little different. A special dedication will be at the end of the chapters. Why? I'm trying to surprise at least some of you. If I say right here what brought about this story, I think it'll spoil it. Suffice to say... be prepared for a ride.
Dedication: Two this time. One is cassikat, who I owe more of The Noble Girl to. So sorry, my friend. I hope this compensates a bit. I know I owe you for birthday and Christmas. And also to hezikiah, whose birthday prodded me to rush to get the first chapter ready and posted. And yes, I owe you a prompt. Muse stalled on it, hard. And a huge thanks to tardis_mole for awesome beta work.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three


Altered History: The Runaway Bride

Started February 25, 2017
Story Unfinished as of start of posting
Finished March 17, 2017


Chapter Four: Unreceptive Reception

The taxi ride over was pretty calm. The talking was a bit restrained since neither of them wanted the driver overhearing something he didn't need to. So it was more about little details. Like, where have you traveled? What's something amazing you've seen?

Of course, the Doctor had to keep his answers to Earth places, and make it sound like he'd recently been there. As in within the years that he looked like he had been an adult in Human terms.

Perhaps it was better to say the ride was more strained than restrained. At least Donna was enjoying his stories. It sounded like she was a bit envious of his ability to see amazing places.

However, as soon as they arrived he knew something was not right. He could hear something titled Merry Christmas Everybody playing, a more rock and roll sound, at a level that should be uncomfortable for all Humans. As they walked in, he realized that everyone had decided to go on with the reception without Donna. Everyone was dancing, drinking, eating and laughing.

How can anyone do this to someone whose big day they came to celebrate? Why would they celebrate without the bride?

He saw her, out of the corner of his eye, looking around at the merriment, thunderstruck. She folded her arms and waited. He braced himself silently for the oncoming explosion, and to see how well he could keep things from turning into violence. Never mind preparing sharp comments of his own for when needed.

He noticed a blonde woman who had to be in the age range of the next generation was the first to spot Donna. She instantly froze. One by one the rest of the room caught on, with a man in what looked like a groom's suit being the last one to notice – having been dancing with some blonde woman in a blue dress.

“You had the reception without me?” Donna demanded.

The man in the groom's suit, a man with dark skin who looked absolutely shocked to see her, was the first to speak. “Donna... what happened to ya??”

“You had the reception without me?!” she snapped, tone getting shriller.

An awkward pause followed. The Doctor shook his head. “I have had some bad reunions with my family and friends, but I have sometimes seen more respect in the treatment I've received from enemies.”

She turned to him. “They had the reception without me.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

The blonde Lance had been dancing with was unrepentant. “Well, it was all paid for -- why not?”

“Thank you, Nerys,” Donna growled.

“Oh, that's Nerys? I've met loads of people like her, but I know I've never met her,” the Doctor muttered under his breath.

“Well, what were we supposed to do?” said the woman who saw Donna first. Something in her manners caught the Doctor's attention. Her tone was familiar as she berated Donna. “I got your silly little message in the end. 'I'm on Earth'? Very funny. What the hell happened? How did you do it? I mean, what's the trick because I'd love to know-”

The whole room was quickly talking at once. Even the Doctor had trouble picking out individual words and he had heard babble, real babble.

Not liking it at all, he stepped in-between Donna and the room. Sensing Donna's feelings of uselessness fueled his own frustration even as the crowd quieted. “How considerate, accusing her of doing some kind of party piece! I can tell you that no one deserves such treatment. And to treat the money as more important than her? When her safety was in question? Just how shallow are you lot?”

Nerys looked him over with a scowl. “Who are you to talk to us like that, Nancy-boy?”

It had to be the trousers giving off that impression, because he hadn't heard that insulting name since he wore his first outfit in this body. “I'm the Doctor. And where I come from this look is extremely sober. But that's not the point and you know it. I thought you lot would have a lot more compassion on a woman who's been kidnapped!”

“Kidnapped?!”

While multiple people said it, the thought raising emotions to a near fever pitch, only one reaction caught the Doctor's attention. Lance's eyes went a bit too wide, a bit too alarmed. And a bit too faked.

But before he could challenge the Human on it, he heard Donna start crying. The anger of the room melted instantly into pity. Lance pushed past the Doctor to hug Donna, and she cried into his shoulder. Every person – except Nerys – applauded and began talking sympathetically.

The Doctor stepped back, not keen to be in the middle of such a celebration and a little annoyed that he wad denied his chance to question the groom and give everyone a proper what for. Then Donna opened her eyes, catching his attention. She winked at him, out of sight of the others.

He slowly smirked. She's faking it to distract her family and friends, to calm them. Clever Earthgirl. That means I have more time to gather information. He silently took back almost all of the uncharitable thoughts he had entertained earlier and hung back, hoping for enough peace to assess what his next step should be.

Luckily for him, the Humans seemed fine with ignoring him. Mostly. He did have to politely send a few females and one persistent male back to the dance floor. Other than that, he was alone with his thoughts as he scanned the crowd with his eyes, leaning sideways against the bar. An earlier, discrete sniff had confirmed that everyone present was Human.

Donna, now dancing with Lance, caught his eye and stuck her tongue out at him. He quietly laughed. Teasing Human! He wondered what other surprises she had in store.

Not that he had the time to contemplate it. He had a lot to consider.

Right, so what could possibly have brought her into my TARDIS? There aren't that many things that could cause the golden glow she described, and nothing my people can do to teleport a person from one part of the universe into another is among them. And how do the robot mercenaries fit in? They lack the creative intelligence to manage such a challenge, but they wouldn't take orders to that degree. And there has to be some accomplice on Earth to get whatever it is into Donna's proximity and then inside of her. But who? Why did Lance seem so shifty about thinking that Donna was kidnapped from the wedding? And what role does H C Clements play in this? And speaking of, who runs the company?

He wanted the TARDIS computer, but he saw something that would work as a substitute. A man who had clearly had more than his share of alcohol was on his mobile. So the Doctor approached him. “May I borrow that to make a call?”

The man nodded. “I can give you five minutes, mate,” he said, handing it over.

“Thank you.”

The Doctor waited for the man to turn around and get another drink. Whether it was wise for the Human to do so, he chose to not think about it. Instead he drew up the internet search feature. He typed “H C Clements” and started the search.

It ran very slow. He hadn't dealt with a computer that sluggish in hundreds of years at least.

He looked around. No one was paying him any attention, but just to be certain he turned away so he could draw out the Sonic to increase the speed, using his jacket to conceal it further. Once the search was running more at the sort of speed he expected he put the Sonic away. The boost would only last for the duration of the search, so he didn't have to worry about leaving something on the mobile that he shouldn't.

Just as his hand withdrew from his pocket, the search produced a result. It had found the sole proprietor of HC Clements.

“Torchwood,” he whispered, paling. “That is not good.”

Soon he handed the phone back to the man, with one more thank you which was barely acknowledged. But the Doctor had much on his mind as he went right back to his previous spot.

Given the arrogance of that organization, they might have the means. Stolen, of course. But nonetheless have it. Now the question is did anyone get a good look at what happened to Donna.

Then he saw something out of the corner of his eye. A cameraman filming the reception. Intrigued, he walked over immediately.

It took little persuasion to get the cameraman to put a tape in the camera. Thank the Eternals.

“I taped the whole thing -- they've all had a look,” he explained as he set it up. “They said 'sell it to You've Been Framed'. I said, 'more like the News'. Here we are...”

The Doctor watched as the film showed Donna walking down the aisle. It was zoomed in on her smiling face. Within moments she seemed to disintegrate into golden particles as she screamed.

His eyes went huge. “No, that can't be! Play it again!” he demanded, leaning in for a better look. It was reminding him of something from school, something deeply impressed on all the initiates of his time.

“Clever, mind!” the cameraman said as he rewound the video. “Good trick, I'll give her that. I was clapping.”

The Doctor watched the video closely, and his brow tightened even as his voice blurted with incredulity, “But that looks like... Huon Particles!”

“What's that?”

“It's too complex for a mere secretary to have done on her own, no matter how intelligent she is. It had to have been done to her, not by her. But that's impossible, that's beyond ancient! Huon energy hasn't existed for billions of years, not independently! It's so old that...” He trailed off as his eyes went to Donna's hand, horror filling him. “.... it can't be hidden by a biodamper!”

He ran straight to a window, praying he would be wrong. But there were the Santas, making their way leisurely to the house hosting the reception. “This is not my day,” he muttered as he rushed to Donna's side.

“Donna! Donna, they've found you. They're coming.”

“But you said I was safe.”

“The biodamper doesn't work against what they're using. We've got to get everyone out and you away from here.”

Donna gasped. “Oh, my God -- it's all my family-”

He grabbed her hand, ignoring the shock from those around her. “We'll go out the back door!”

Except they saw two more of the Santas.

“All right, not this way,” the Doctor conceded, leading Donna back inside.

“There is a way out, right? They can't have us surrounded, can they?” she asked as she followed closely.

But the window next to the remaining door showed two more Santas.

“We're trapped,” she breathed.

“Oh, I'm afraid things are about to get worse,” he admitted.

Sure enough, one of the Santas was holding some kind of device, and raised it.

“A remote control. But what for-?” The Doctor cut himself off as a detail hit him. He looked at the Christmas tree in the middle of the room, surrounded by children. And there were other trees in the room.

Donna saw what had his attention. “What about the tree? What's so alarming?”

“They use them to kill,” he declared as he ran into the crowd, with Donna hot on his heels. “Get away from the trees!”

“Don't touch the trees!” she shouted, believing he spoke the truth.

“Get away from the Christmas trees, everyone get away from them!”

Donna tried to make the group of little girls to move away. “Out! Lance, tell them!”

“Stay away from the trees!” the Doctor said over her. “Stay away from the tree!s”

Donna's mother was unimpressed. “Oh, for God's sakes, the man's an idiot! Why? What's a Christmas tree gonna... oh!”

The Doctor looked back at the tree, and saw what caught her attention. Along with the whole room. The shiny baubles were floating away from the tree. It seemed like a strange dance of birds that hovered over their heads. While the room chattered excitedly he shook his head at Donna's inquiring look. “This cannot end well.”

No sooner had he said it the baubles began dive-bombing around the room, causing small explosions with a lot of smoke. It scattered them all.

The Doctor had to dive for cover, and then realized he had no idea where Donna was. “No!” he breathed.

The only comfort he had was that he wasn't hearing her scream or any teleport sounds. Which meant that perhaps the biodamper was making it hard for them to get a lock on her and that he had time to stop them. But how?

Only then did he notice what he had half been thrown against. His eyes twinkled with triumph. He cautiously got up and saw the Santas lined up and looking for something. Probably Donna. Everyone had found some cover, and he couldn't see his unintentional companion.

But he had a plan and was ready to carry it out. “Hey!” he shouted as he stood. “Roboforms! You just made a huge mistake. You let a man with with a sonic screwdriver...” He paused long enough to draw the microphone near. “... right next to the sound system.”

He pressed the head of his sonic screwdriver next to the amplifiers. The resulting noise made an awful screeching sound that made even him wince. He wondered distantly if this was what some of those who heard phantom noises endured every moment of every day. He did not want to think about that kind of hell.

The Humans covered their ears as expected. But the Santas shook violently, vibrating like an old washing machine for many long seconds. At last they collapsed, breaking into pieces.

The Doctor silenced the sound and rushed to examine the remains of the Santas, along with picking up anything he thought he could use to stop them. He could hear everyone getting up off the floor, and some helping others. As he evaluated the mechanical details and quickly pocketed useful items he recognized Donna's voice, first checking on what sounded like children and then giving instructions to others. “I kept her safe from you,” he muttered as he picked up the control device the one Santa was using. “Now what were you doing with this? A remote control for the decorations, but...”

He trailed off as he spotted something else inside one of the Santa heads. Something that they all had.

“Oh, that's not good. Not good at all.”

“What isn't?”

He looked up at Donna's approach. “There's a second remote control for the robots,” he explained, using his sonic to find clues in one of the heads. “They're not scavengers anymore. Looks like someone's taken possession of them. I've never heard of such a thing happening.”

“Never mind all that, you're a doctor -- people have been hurt,” she pleaded.

“Your physicians will do more for them. But these robots didn't intend to kill you. They wanted you alive. You see, the baubles aren't active now,” he added, tossing one to her.

She numbly caught it. “All I'm saying -- you could help.”

The Doctor had to hold one of the heads near his ear, making the signals from his sonic clearer. “I have to think of the bigger picture... and there's still a signal!” he cried in triumph and rushed outside.

It helped, making the scans cleaner and the sonic signals stronger. “Come on, where are you? What do you want?”

“Doctor?”

“No surprise you followed for answers, Donna. There's someone behind this, directing the robo-force.”

“But why is it after me? What have I done?”

“If we find the controller, we'll find that out. Oh! Now that's interesting.” He raised his sonic screwdriver into the air. “It's up there. Something in the sky.”

“You mean there's another spaceship out there?”

“Perhaps. What they want is still a mystery, and we need to solve who their accomplice here on Earth is. Not to mention what they gain from it. Oh, no!”

“What?”

He exhaled sharply as he lowered the sonic. “I've lost the signal! Donna, we need to get to your office, H C Clements. I think that's where it all started. Who can give us a lift?”

/=/=/=/=/

Special Dedication and Rest of the Author's Note: In a sense, this is ultimately dedicated to a charming and talented man known as Paul McGann. I saw him for the third con this February at Gallifrey One. I went despite recently being sick (that's what you have to do with work when your job doesn't have sick days, and I made sure my doctor didn't think I needed special precautions because I would have had to stay home in that case – something that would've devastated me), and felt a huge emotional boost merely from being there. And of course, any chance to see him is worth a lot. Put simply, he makes any con worth going to. (Read what you will into that.)

And with having seen him, I came home and listened to every last copy of an Eighth Doctor Adventure from Big Finish that I owned and hadn't listened to yet. I'm hungry for more, and had already gained at least two plot bunnies from talking with PM. But this one? Huge, and came to me randomly afterward.

So if you haven't figured it out yet, it's not Nine who Donna's met. It's Eight. And he thinks the Time Lords have imposed another witness protection person on him. For clarification, a passing knowledge of Lucie Miller's first Big Finish adventure, Blood of the Daleks, is useful for understanding his mindset. She's one of Eight's companions, and... much like with Donna... she didn't get on with the Doctor at first. And perhaps had more reason to take out anger on him.

If anyone is blinking over the Doctor's described outfit, I can explain. It wasn't seen on screen in either the Movie or Night of the Doctor, but it is from the Dark Eyes series from Big Finish. (While I don't currently own any copies, I will one day soon! I keep hearing great things about it.) I was going to use the Night of the Doctor outfit, but it dawned on me that the Dark Eyes one allowed me to potentially throw some confusion into the mix. Couldn't resist.

Throughout the story I will occasionally make a Big Finish reference, but I've kept it to three total adventures. The two-part Blood of the Daleks is one. Horror of Glam Rock is the second, and The Vengence of Moribus is the last. One note: the last is the cliffhanger for the second run of Eight and Lucie adventures, so I'd hold off on that one until you've caught up a bit. Not like I did...

Please enjoy the rest of the ride!

Chapter Five: Underground Answers

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
dm12
Mar. 17th, 2017 10:15 pm (UTC)
What a cruddy way to greet someone who was missing, especially someone for whom this party was intended. Nerys is a bit nasty, isn't she?

I'm glad the Doctor spoke up this time to defend Donna, and it was noticed that Lance looked somewhat shifty.

Donna is Donna, looking out for the kids first, then the injured. She's right on it, and I'm glad her intelligence was noted.

And still, no one noticed the ring on her finger! Hmm...
tkel_paris
Mar. 18th, 2017 06:17 am (UTC)
It amazes me to this day that more people who've watched it aren't offended on Donna's behalf. Yeah, Nerys must be a relative or connected somehow to the family to be in Donna's circle.

There was no way Eight would've kept silent like Ten did. Especially not after insisting that they had to be fretting over her safety.

It was important, wasn't it? I can't see certain companions doing the same. Not so selflessly.

Hmm... I may have to check for a spot to comment on that... :D
dm12
Mar. 19th, 2017 01:08 am (UTC)
Agreed about people not being offended on Donna's behalf...

She comes back to her reception, minus the ceremony, with another man and a ring on her finger.... and no one noticed at all! That really struck me immediately as very odd, not even her fiance took note.

And no, I can't see certain other companions being as concerned for others.
tkel_paris
Mar. 19th, 2017 05:38 am (UTC)
It's produced fodder for later fics. Especially one line in the next chapter that I now want to kick RTD's butt for including.

IKR?

Glad I didn't need to spell it out...
bas_math_girl
Mar. 18th, 2017 01:47 pm (UTC)
It really is an entirely different dynamic here compared to the canon one where we were initially supposed to only sympathise with the Doctor and see Donna continually as the butt of the jokes.

I've always wondered why not even Lance or Sylvia noticed the ring on Donna's finger; whereas that "...it was all paid for.." attitude has always made sense taking Donna's parents' age into consideration (strange as that may seem).
tkel_paris
Mar. 18th, 2017 11:36 pm (UTC)
It is, isn't it? Which is really unfair to Donna. If anyone should've been the butt of jokes... Well, that might be unfair.

Perception filter, maybe? Or a mere lack of paying attention to her? Well, just because that was the attitude doesn't make it right.
cassikat
Mar. 18th, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
Not enough Oncoming Storm. Watch me pout. ;) But it's a good thing that Donna defused them...I guess. It made him take back almost all his uncharitable thoughts, anyway. *L* Plus, another Observant Doctor moment - he's got Lance under his eye now!

Like others, I wonder why no one noticed or commented on the biodamper.

Also, how did Eight run into killer Christmas trees?

And I really, REALLY want his opinion of that Smart!
tkel_paris
Mar. 18th, 2017 11:38 pm (UTC)
Wait. There are still four more chapters. :) Well, in light of what we know, who knows what would've happened had she allowed the Doctor to ask questions? At least this way the truth is known by as few people as possible. Easier to create a cover story that sticks when there aren't many who have to remember that it's just that.

Either lack of attention, or a perception filter.

You'll learn. Eventually. ;)

Next chapter is up...! :DDDDD
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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