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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 / Chapter Four


Altered History: The Runaway Bride

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


Chapter Five: Underground Answers

“I don't know why you Humans call those Smart cars. They're smaller on the inside.”

Donna glared at the Doctor as they hurried inside H C Clements, Lance trailing closely behind. It was not her fault that Lance's car was small even for British vehicles. “Oi, we can't all have weird spaceships.”

“If you knew the TARDIS better you'd think she's wonderful.”

“Could've been worse. You could've been taller.”

Only her cheeky tone and smile kept him from being indignant.

None too soon for the Doctor, they arrived on the floor where Donna worked. He went straight to Donna's desk, once she pointed it out, and thought aloud as he tried to get information from her computer. “This might just appear to be a locksmiths, but H C Clements was brought up twenty three years ago by the Torchwood Institute.”

“Who are they?” Donna asked.

“They were behind the battle of Canary Wharf,” he said, not looking up as he used the Sonic to bypass the security measures.

The silence that followed caught his attention. Donna was not the silent type. He looked at her and saw a blank expression. He straightened, brows furrowed. “The Cyberman invasion,” he prompted. “Big metal suits that marched in formation?”

Donna looked at him expectantly, waiting for an answer.

He could hardly believe it. Especially since Lance looked like he knew about it, as much as he looked out of his depth. “Skies over London full of Daleks?” he queried. “Giant pepper pots that wanted to kill everyone?”

Recognition finally hit her. “Oh, I was in Spain,” she said, slightly dismissive.

“They had Cybermen all over the world, and the Daleks were spreading across Europe.”

“Scuba diving,” she said, as if that were enough of an explanation.

He shook his head and muttered, “The big picture, Donna -- you keep on missing it and I don't understand how.” He turned back to the computer and used the Sonic again to hunt for answers. “Torchwood was devastated, but H C Clements stayed in business. I believe... someone else came in and took over the operation. And why won't these things cooperate?!”

She leaned into his peripheral vision. “But what do they want with me?”

He paused and stood up straight, giving her his full attention. “That is a very good question, and that's part of why we're here. But what I think you really want to know is why you were targeted and how they got you away from the church.”

The gentle tone was calming and Donna found herself nodding. “Yeah, so what do you think happened? What do you suspect?”

“That somehow you've been dosed with Huon energy. And that's a problem because Huon energy hasn't existed since the Dark times, a billion years ago. The only place you'd find a Huon particle now is as a remnant in the heart of the TARDIS. That is what I believe happened.” He looked around her desk for items to use as a visual. “Say... that's the TARDIS...” He held up a mug on her desk. “And that's you.” He held up a pencil. “The particles inside you activated. The two sets of particles magnetised and BANG!” He threw the pencil into the mug. “You were pulled inside the TARDIS. Which means my people are innocent in this, which is surprising.”

Donna stared at the items, feeling sick on the inside. “I'm a pencil inside a mug?” she asked, her voice failing to hide her hurt.

The Doctor blinked. He had to remain observant in case Donna knew something she didn't know that she knew until she remembered it. “Is there something bad about that?”

“Oi! I am not gay. And I'm not a boy. And I do not watch whimpy television programs...! Okay, I watch some, but not all of them! But I'm definitely not a gay man!”

He sighed as he put them down. “No, no, no. I don't mean an insult. You Humans are so quick to take offence over everything in this era! Lance? What was H C Clements working on? Anything top secret? Special operations? Signs that say 'Do not enter'?”

“I don't know, I'm in charge of personnel. I wasn't project manager,” the groom snapped. He saw the Doctor hold his strange device against the screen again, and 3D building plans suddenly appeared. “Why am I even explaining myself?! What the hell are we talking about?!”

“This place makes keys, that's the point,” the Doctor answered absently, not paying him much attention. “Ah-ha! A path to answers!”

He ran back toward the lifts, and Donna followed. “What? What did you find?”

Lance trailed them again. The Doctor didn't speak until a lift was coming toward them. “We're on the third floor. Underneath reception, there's a basement.”

“That's right,” Donna agreed.

The doors pinged open. The Doctor stepped inside as he revealed his discovery. “Then how come when you look on the lift, there's a button marked 'lower basement'? There's a floor that doesn't exist on the official plans. So what's down there, then?”

“Are you telling me this building's got a secret floor?” Lance asked, eyes big.

“No, I'm showing you this building's got a secret floor.” The Doctor's answer was clipped, like he was silently suggesting that Lance was the thick creature that Donna thought he had called her. Perhaps it was unfair, but he hoped that he could provoke a reaction that would explain the man's strange behaviors.

Donna saw a problem, now seeing the buttons in her memory. “It needs a key.”

“Not a problem.” He made quick work of sonicking the lock. “Thank you both. I can handle this. See you later, Donna?”

“No chance, Martian,” Donna said coldly, stepped into the lift and fixing an equally icy stare on him. “You're the man who keeps saving my life. I ain't letting you out of my sight.”

The Doctor smiled and laughed at her determination. “Should I be scared, then?”

She gave a brief grin, pleased to see he respected her enough to playfully tease her. She turned to her fiancée. “Lance?”

The groom was noticeably shaky. “Maybe I should go to the police.”

“Inside,” she commanded.

Lance slowly joined them, rather meekly.

It served him right, the Doctor thought. Smirking, he jested, “To honour and obey?”

Lance thought he was being sympathetic. “Tell me about it, mate.”

“Oi,” Donna snapped as the doors closed.

It felt like a long journey to Donna before the lift pinged. The doors opened to reveal a long, dark, and dank corridor. The dim light was largely a rather eerie green. “Where are we? What goes on down here?”

“That's what we're here find out,” the Doctor replied, his eyes noting the details he was sure that Human eyes couldn't make out.

She stilled. “Do you think Mr. Clements knows about this place?”

“The mysterious H C Clements? I suspect we'll find out that he's part of it. We need transport. It looks like a long walk to anywhere useful and I don't think either of you are wearing the right shoes. Ah! Those should do.”

When Donna saw what he was walking toward, she silently groaned.

Soon the Doctor was moving along with the Humans flanking him, each on their own Segway. He would have walked the whole way, but time was of the essence and he doubted Donna's feet would last in those impractical shoes she had chosen. Although he had seen worse; she had the sense to wear very short heels.

Donna looked from where they were going to at the Doctor and Lance. They made a hugely comical sight, she thought as she burst into giggles.

The Doctor looked at her, a puzzled smile on his face. But she laughed harder, as if unable to speak. He had to join in. “Good for you, being able to laugh!”

A glance back at Lance said that he didn't get it. To think Donna called him the dumbo.

They came across a door marked Torchwood -- authorised personnel only. Naturally the Doctor stopped his Segway. Donna and Lance followed suit as he turned the wheel quickly. Once opened, he found a ladder that went a long way up.

“Wait here. Just need to get my bearings. Don't do anything or go anywhere,” he warned them both sharply as he started up the ladder.

“You'd better come back.”

The Doctor paused to look back down at Donna with a grin. “Oh, I think I couldn't get rid of you if I tried,” he jested before climbing. He did see Donna smile back first.

It felt like a while even to him, but he reached the top of the ladder. Only to find the underside of a manhole. He made quick work of opening it and climbed just out into daylight. He stilled as he looked at his surroundings, listening to the bird calls that confirmed his suspicion as to where they were.

He got back down as quickly as he could and jumped off the final rung. “Thames flood barrier! Torchwood slipped in a while ago and built this place underneath its foundations.”

Donna stared at him, disbelieving. “What, there's like a secret base hidden underneath a major London landmark?!”

He almost shrugged. “Not the first time I've seen it happen,” he said as he led them toward another door marked with the Torchwood logo. “Last time was over two and a half years ago.”

Donna was almost as wide-eyed as Lance, but shaking her head. Could he be for real, she wondered as the Doctor led the way through the door he opened.

The room was an obvious laboratory, but it was full of massive test tubes bubbling away with a golden liquid. Chemistry equipment littered the tables.

The Doctor's eyes widened as he took it all in. “Particle extrusion! Magnificent!”

“What does it do?” Donna asked.

“Hold on,” he said. He walked over to one of the giant tubes and tapped it, listening to the sound. “It's how they've been manufacturing Huon particles. Of course my people got rid of Huons, they unravelled the atomic structure.”

“Your people? Who are they? What company do you represent?” Lance said, almost demanding the answers.

The Doctor was hardly in a mood to give the truth. “Oh, I'm a freelancer. Rarely see eye to eye with my people. But Torchwood are rebuilding Huons using the river. Extruding them through a flat hydrogen base so they've got the end result: Huon particles in liquid form,” he finished as he picked up a small stoppered tube full of the pale golden liquid.

Donna looked at the tube and then at him. “And that's what's inside me?”

“There's a simple way to confirm it.” He gently turned the little knob at the top of the test tube. The contents glowed gold, and Donna was doing the same an instant later.

“Oh, my God!” she cried.

The Doctor stopped it, slowly turning off the reaction to ensure no bad effects. “Ingenious, I will grant them that. At this point the particles are inert -- they need something living to catalyse inside and somehow you were chosen. They saturate the body, but they need a catalyst. What could that possibly be...? The wedding Yes, that's it!”

Donna nearly jumped backwards in the face of the Doctor's mad enthusiasm. Although he was pacing to help his thinking, only occasionally looking at Donna.

“It had to be part of the plan. Best day of your life, walking down the aisle toward the future you always wanted. The body becomes a battleground with a chemical war inside! Adrenaline, acetylcholine, the endorphins are cooking! You've been turned into a walking oven, a pressure cooker, a microwave – all in one! Everything is churning away until the particles reach boiling point, and you're magnetised. Hence how you appeared in the TARDIS!”

Donna was too overwhelmed by his thinking, and when he stopped in front of her she slapped him. Harder than before.

He needed a few steps to recover his balance, and looked at her indignantly. “What did I do this time?!”

“Are you enjoying this?”

The Doctor stilled and slowly slackened his posture, shame flooding him like it rarely did. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You might have noticed that I get excited when I have answers that I've sought unsuccessfully for a while. I can get a little overly enthusiastic, as I just proved.”

The apology calmed Donna. Knowing now that he meant no harm, and despite struggling to remain calm, she walked right up to him. “Right, just tell me. These particles, are they dangerous? Am I safe?”

He thought about how to answer that. He had seen how others failed to treat her with consideration, had lied to her. Surely she wouldn't have been so desperate to convince someone to marry her had she been shown better treatment.

He hesitated far too long for her taste. “Doctor... if your lot got rid of Huon particles... why did they do that?”

Now he knew he had to give the whole truth, as gently as he could. “Because they were deadly to organic life.”

Donna paled and shook a little. “Oh, my God...”

“I'll sort it out, Donna,” he vowed, touching her shoulders in support. “Whatever's been done to you, I'll reverse it. Whatever our differences, I'm not about to lose you.”

Crashes and bangs almost exploded all around them. All three whipped their heads around trying to figure out the origin.

“Oh, she is long since lost.”

/=/=/=/=/

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 Six: Innerspace and Outerspace

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
dm12
Mar. 19th, 2017 02:48 am (UTC)
Busy planning for Passover, but I just had to comment on the first sentence!

Smaller on the inside, that's what I always thought about Smart cars! The Sienna, though... no matter how much you stuff inside, it seems there's always more room.

The Doctor still gets overexcited about things, doesn't he? At least he apologized for it this time, and he didn't try to lie to her about the huon particles. Oh, and there was no staring at his tush on Donna's part, was there? More gentle friendly teasing, but no overt ogling on her part this time around.

I like the subtle changes that reflect Eight's personality and the fact that he still has the rest of his people around.
tkel_paris
Mar. 19th, 2017 05:44 am (UTC)
I feel honored. :)

*snorts* I can't comment on Siennas, but this HAD to be commented on by the Doctor. I still can't believe they didn't let DT's Doctor say something more than he did. Even if they did delete the scene.

Eight was not immune to that by any means. But I think his apologies come off as more sincere. Or maybe I'm just so involved in listening to catch his speech patterns that I'm imagining things. After his expectations about her family and friends were proved wrong there was no way he would have lied to her.

As for Donna's actions while he was climbing... did I show that? No, I focused on the Doctor's POV. So how do you know she didn't still ogle? ;)

Some were very subtle. Others not so much. But having his people around alters his perception of the universe.
dm12
Mar. 19th, 2017 01:02 pm (UTC)
I have one of those "My other ride is a TARDIS" magnets on my other car because no matter what I put in the Sienna, it seems like there is room for more. I saw someone at the marked a few weeks ago with one of those on her Sienna and I just had to comment about it to her. "Nice magnet, but there's only one problem with it." "What?" "The Sienna is a TARDIS! It always fits more than you think." She laughed and said that it was true. I told her I had it on my other vehicle, not the Sienna....
cassikat
Mar. 21st, 2017 08:17 pm (UTC)
And there it is! Eight's comment about the Smart. Which, imo, should be called a Stupid - how a car can have LESS space inside than it ought to... *headshake* I do love how Donna's cheeky side just naturally gets him with sneaky little zingers... and how much he appreciates them too. :)

Segways! And I love that he appreciates Donna's sense of the absurd, even if he didn't quite get how silly they looked. (IS it possible to ride a Segway and look dignified? ;) )

"Oh, I think I couldn't get rid of you if I tried." I am desperately hoping that's foredhadowing, y'know. =D And I'm betting she still at least peeked at his bum when he went up the ladder, too. ;)

Aww, different reason for being so enthused, but he still got slapped. I do love how considerate he is of her, though, and how he doesn't want to lie. If I wasn't already, I'd be an ardent Eight/Donna shipper just for that care he takes with her feelings. ;)
tkel_paris
Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:27 am (UTC)
*giggles* Yes, Stupid Car would be a good term. Even considering how tight things are over there. And yes, the zingers are coming from a more teasing and light-hearted place. Despite the situation. Probaby because he's been more caring overall. :)

I think Eight might've had less of a sense of humor about himself. At least compared with his sense of humor about his previous (and possibly future) selves. And no, I don't think so. :P

Well, as we follow canon somewhat there will be a close call. And yes, as I pointed out, there's nothing to say she didn't. ;D

Yay that I could've turned you into one had it not already been the case. *hugs*
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