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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 / Chapter Five / Chapter Six


Altered History: The Runaway Bride

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


/=/=/=/=/

Chapter Seven: Alien and Human Natures

But his sonic was ready. Within a second, the robot lowered its weapon, sagging as it turned off. Satisfied ever so slightly, he used the sonic to probe the robot's memory. What he found made his eyes widen and gave him chills. “Well, if you're going to activate the particles, then there's no point in subtlety.”

But it did give him the plans for the chamber. And that told him the fastest way in. He would take a page out of Lance's book, and take a side route to another stairway.

So he ran, as quietly as he could given the urgency. He had to maneuver through narrow paths and blocked ones.

“Never thought I'd be glad to be a smallish man in this body,” he muttered as he slipped easily through something a taller or bigger him would've had trouble with. He could afford no delays. But he winced as his back twinged. “Need a healing sleep after all of this. Didn't realise she slammed into me that hard.”

Eventually he could hear voices from inside the chamber.

“The secret heart unlocks,” he heard the Empress say. “And they will waken from their sleep of Ages.”

He stumbled as he nearly stilled. Was he too late?

“Who will? What's down there?”

The Doctor was so relieved to hear Donna's voice that he barely heard Lance's scornful answer.

“How thick are you?!”

“My children, the long lost Racnoss. Now will be born to feast on flesh!” the Empress declared in delight.

His ears could just make out the chirping of the young Racnoss and the patters of their feet coming up the hole. He pushed himself harder, risking being overheard.

“The web-star shall come to me.”

The Empress' words were ominous, but the Doctor took some comfort in that she was preparing for something. And while he knew it would lead to killing Humans, it meant that he had a little more time than he thought.

“My babies will be hungry. They need sustenance. Perish the web.”

Or not. He pushed himself to his fastest running speed.

“Use her! Not me! Use her!”

“Oh, my funny little Lance! But you are quite impolite to your lady-friend. The Empress does not approve.”

The next thing the Doctor heard was the sounds of the web breaking, and then Lance screaming.

“Laaaaaance!” Donna screamed.

The only comfort the Doctor took was that she sounded like she was in one place the whole time. He reached the stairway and managed to climb rapidly without being detected. Although the screaming probably helped him.

“Harvest the humans! Reduce them to meat,” the Empress ordered.

He got to a point above the chamber, and drew out the sonic, making quick calculations in his head for how to make his plan work. Not surprisingly the Empress spotted him when Donna, startled by his sudden appearance, squawked, “Oh!”

“I've got you, Donna!” He aimed the sonic up at her and the web loosened.

Donna freaked out. “I'm gonna fall!”

“No, you'll swing!”

Her hands found one string as the rest fell away from her. She screamed as she swung over the hole, towards the Doctor.

He kept adjusting to make it the best angle before he stopped to hold his arms out. “I've got you! Lift your legs so you can reach me!”

Donna continued screaming, but did what he said. But almost too late. Her legs just barely missed the railings, but the web snapped as the Doctor caught her. Her momentum forced him to drop to his haunches and then gently fall rump to back. Rough, but it was gentler than the hard hit she could have had.

He grunted, but he helped her up. “I will welcome a healing sleep after this,” he muttered. “Sorry, but I did say to lift your legs.”

Donna groaned as her feet touched the ground. “Ooh, I'll be feeling that later. But how could you catch me so easily? You're not a big man!”

“I'm stronger than I look. A trait of my people. I can heal those bruises. And you're not as heavy as you think you are.”

“The doctor-man amuses me,” the Empress said, although she was clearly a little annoyed that one of her meals had escaped. Though the look on her face suggested she thought it was temporary.

The Doctor turned to face his enemy, his tone commanding. “Empress of the Racnoss – I'm going to give you one chance to stop this. I can find you a planet, a place in the universe to coexist, but where you can do no harm. Take that offer and end this now.”

“These men are so funny,” she said to Donna.

“I don't think he meant to be,” she replied.

“What's your answer?” he demanded.

The Empress laughed. “Oh -- I'm afraid I have to decline.”

He straightened and steeled himself. “Then what happens next is your own doing.”

“I'll show you what happens next,” the Empress hissed at him. “At arms!” she commanded her robots.

The robots raised their guns at the Doctor.

Donna started breathing faster. “Doctor!”

“Wait, wait, wait,” he said, unperturbed.

“Take aim! And-”

“Relax.”

All the robots went limp at his quiet, firm command.

Stunned, Donna turned to catch his attention. “What did you do?”

He smirked as he removed the remote from a pocket on the side opposite Donna. “I figured out how to use this to control them.”

She drew back. “How did that fit in there?”

“Like the TARDIS, my pockets are bigger on the inside.”

Although incensed, the Empress was undaunted. “Robo-forms are not necessary. My children may feast on Martian flesh.”

The smirk disappeared as the Doctor allowed the Storm he kept under tight lock slip close to the surface. “Oh, but I'm not from Mars. I just didn't correct you because I wasn't ready to tell you my real planet of origin.”

At last she showed a flicker of doubt. “Then where?”

Donna was interested in the answer. He hadn't exactly been completely forthcoming with that, but even she knew that she hadn't been willing to listen. Now she was.

The Doctor was stern, fixing her with a glare so cold it might have given some Humans ice in their veins. “My home planet is far away and could have been lost. But its name would live on regardless. Gallifrey.”

The Empress roared with rage, not noticing how she made Donna draw herself behind the Doctor for safety. “They murdered the Racnoss!”

“I gave you a chance, and now you shall reap what you sowed,” he replied, even colder than before as his free hand produced a handful of baubles from his pocket.

Donna was stunned. When had he had the time to pocket so many?

But the Empress' sudden panic kept all other voices silent. “No! No! Don't! No!”

The Doctor threw several handfuls of the baubles into the air, and none fell back to the ground as the Empress protested. Once all were in the air he put both hands on the remote and guided some to surround the Empress. Other he sent flying out of sight.

“What are you doing?”

The sudden sound of torrents of water rushing into the chamber, followed by currents with a strong smell answered Donna's question. Then the baubles around the Empress began to explode, one by one, as the water rushed down the hole.

The Empress wailed incoherently as the water swirled down like a plug. The flames kept her from being able to attempt to cover it with her own body. “My children! No! My children! My children!”

Donna's attention was gripped by the sight of the grief-stricken mother, who no longer seemed a cold villain. She looked at the Doctor, who stared in silence as he lowered the remote. “Doctor! You can stop now!”

Suddenly he tossed the remote aside. “Time I got you out!” he grabbed her hand and led her up the stairs, both of them soaking wet.

“Transport me!” they heard as they rushed to the ladder he found thanks to the pilfered plans from the robot.

“You go up first!” he cried, pausing only to aim his sonic in the direction of the TARDIS for a prolonged burst.

Donna needed no prompting. But their progress was far slower at first than either liked. There was water rushing into the ladder's chamber, only stopping further up. “But what about the Empress?” she cried as they climbed.

“She's used up all her Huon energy. She's defenceless against anything this planet could throw at her! If your military know she's here, that is. Knowing them, they probably do.”

As they reached the top of the ladder and clambered out into the night, they noticed an explosion in the sky above. Flames were consuming something in the air, disintegrating into seemingly nothing. They cheered and whooped in relief knowing what must have happened, hugging impulsively.

But Donna caught her breath first and drew back slightly. “Just... there's one problem.”

“What's that?”

“We've drained the Thames,” she rasped.

He turned his head to look, and she looked with him. Remarkably, the Thames was completely empty of water. Boats were marooned, tilted on their side as they blasted their horns to call for help. The smell of the bottom was rank, exposed by the lack of cover.

The Doctor and Donna shared another look, and inexplicably collapsed into laughter again. Neither of them could explain it, but the sight was patently ridiculous.

“What do they expect to accomplish by tooting their horns?” the Doctor choked out through his laughter. “They have radios. Where does rational thinking go in such a situation?”

At length Donna's laughter quieted as she took in their surroundings and caught stronger whiffs of the smell. “How are we going to get down from here?”

He grinned, aiming for reassuring her. “The TARDIS is already pumping the water back up to the surface. That was why I paused at the ladder, to send the command. Any bodies will be stuck in the chamber, but that will keep the panic from spreading.”

“How many died?”

He sighed. “I don't know. Far too many, and despite what Lance said we don't know if they tried to target anyone else. My old friends at UNIT will be stuck cleaning up this mess, and I don't envy them. I suspect I'll one day be asked about it.”

“UNIT?”

“A rare example of an Earth-based group that considers me an ally. I'd tell you more, but I might be obligated to kidnap you to keep the secrets.”

“Then keep them to yourself. No need to waste words on me. But will I get Thames Belly from this?”

He paused to draw out the medical probe. She didn't react as he scanned her. “No sign yet, but I'll check us both once we're inside the TARDIS.”

“How long will we have to wait to reach her? There isn't a way to call her to us, is there?”

The Doctor got a sheepish expression. “Well, if I could I'd still need her for a while to pump the water. But I think she should get enough of it done within an hour, maybe two at most. If you look carefully, you can already see the water coming back.”

Donna had to lean to see, but even in the gloom of night it was obvious that the bottom was not as visible as before. A very good sign. “Never takes as long to fill something as it does to drain, does it?”

“Destruction is always the easy route. Building, producing new things – that will always be the harder path but also the more rewarding.”

She sighed. “Will the TARDIS be all right?”

“Of course! She can survive anything.”

“More than I've done,” she said quietly.

“Donna, I checked. All the Huon particles have gone. There's no damage, so you'll be fine.”

“Yeah, but apart from that... I missed my wedding, lost my job and became a widow on the same day. Sort of,” she added as she broke away to have a little breather.

The Doctor sighed. “I couldn't get there in time to save him.”

“He deserved it,” she suddenly said, nodding firmly.

The Doctor waited for her to look his way again. This didn't sound like the real her talking, but her anger at the betrayal was understandable.

Donna finally did and the look on his face, a hint of disappointment, softened her feelings. “No, he didn't,” she whispered, rubbing her arms.

“Are you cold?”

“It's quite chilly out here with the breeze, and I'm soaked through with cold water. Not much space up here for moving around to keep warm.”

He looked at the growing shivers and could hear her teeth chattering against her control. He stepped up and held out his arms. “Can't let you freeze. My jacket might be too wet to help, but I can help.”

Freezing to death after surviving all she had was not appealing, so she went into his arms. She burrowed her arms inside his jacket as he helped her sit down.

“Here. The less of us exposed to the elements, the warmer we'll stay.”

“Are you sure you're all right? You don't feel all that warm. Is that normal?”

“Oh, it's normal,” he reassured her as he tried to cover as much of her as he could, trying to use his arms to generate more heat to warm her back. “I run a cooler temperature than Humans do, and yet I can handle extremes. Once we're back inside I can treat you for hypothermia if need be. So... what will you do with yourself once I get you home?”

She thought for a few seconds. “Not getting married for starters. And I'm not gonna temp anymore. I dunno... travel... see a bit more of planet Earth... walk in the dust. Just... go out there and do something.”

“What kind of travel? What would you do if someone offered you the chance to see the universe?”

“What, are you offering?”

“More asking. I have been used to travelling alone lately.”

She smiled, and managed to look up at him. “No.”

He blinked. “Really?”

She shook her head. “Really... everything we did today... do you live your life like that?”

“I don't aim for it.”

“But it happens anyway,” she guessed, sounding very wise. “And I couldn't.”

“But you've seen it out there. Isn't it beautiful?”

“And it's terrible. That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you were stood there like... I don't know... a stranger. I mean, you scare me to death!”

“Oh...” He was struck by the reminder of something Lucie had once said. What was it, that she was sometimes not sure whether she was more scared of the monsters or of him? What did he seem like to outsiders? Why had he never really stopped to think about that or ask his assistants and companions?

She tried to focus on his scent as a distraction, trying to define what seemed hard to define. He wasn't as warm as a Human, but it was a huge improvement on how cold she felt. “Tell me stories. Those adventures you hinted at earlier, give me the real details. I need to think about something other than the cold.”

He smiled. “Oh, where to begin? A story about an enemy? Some great feature of the universe?”

“Tell me about your friend, the one called Lucie. Especially why you thought we might be related. Was she the one you said your people imposed on you?”

He had to chuckle. “Should have known. Well, I was minding my own business, keeping the Old Girl running smoothly when someone briefly tore a rift into her and left this nineteen year-old Human girl. And she wasn't inclined to tell me much, not that it was her fault – although I didn't know that at first...”

/=/=/=/=/

They finally arrived back in Chiswick. Her hair was still sort of damp, but she no longer smelled like the Thames and she felt more like herself. Not only had he ensured she wouldn't get Thames Belly, she had had access to cleaning methods so she could get the smell off her while she warmed up. And he had only left her alone once sure she was out of any danger before he went elsewhere to clean himself off.

“Thanks,” she said as she stepped out, instantly able to see from their position through a window where her parents were talking and then hugging. “I'd better get inside. They'll be worried.”

“Best Christmas present they could have,” the Doctor remarked as he followed her. When she turned and narrowed her eyes he paused. “Oh, I forgot -- you hate Christmas.”

Her eyes and tone hardened. “Yes, I do.”

“Oh, that will never do,” he remarked as he reached for a spot on the TARDIS just out of sight. “What if it snows?”

Donna watched a ball of light shoot out of the top and explodes like a firework in the sky. The lights fell down, but not as ashes. What fell softly around her was snow. She laughed with delight, holding up her hands as being a child came to mind. “I can't believe you did that!”

He grinned, almost shrugging. “Oh, basic atmospheric excitation. Doesn't make it any less marvelous, does it?”

She had to smile back. “Merry Christmas.”

“And you.” He drew away from the TARDIS, stepping a bit closer now that his thoughts were in order. “Now, about those plans of yours-”

“Doctor-”

“How are you going to make them happen? Got the money for it? How do you know that you won't find yourself stuck in the same old habits?”

“Thanks.”

“No, I still mean no insult. I'm asking you to think about a few things. Everyone around you, how many of them will support you in changing? Do you think any might hinder your efforts to be as magnificent as I think you can be? As magnificent as you want to be? Lance's cruel remarks wouldn't have hurt so much if they hadn't hit something deep within. You're not the thick person you pretend to be, so why the charade?”

Donna went silent for several long seconds, feeling the weight of his questions. She looked like she wanted to snap at his presumption, but he was looking in earnest. So he had earned some earnestness from her in return.

“All my life, the things I wanted to do I was told weren't appropriate. 'No need for female chippies, so don't go learning woodworking. Why are you learning all those languages you won't need? The library isn't a good job, no matter how good you are at it. Get a permanent job', I keep being told. Even though sometimes it paid better. Add in being teased ever since I was little for my hair, and no one wants me. For anything I want.”

His face fluttered from soft to hardened, back and forth through the whole story. “Let me guess; your mother is one of the people who said all that to you. Do you have anyone who likes you as you are?”

She glared briefly, but answered honestly. “My dad and granddad. Maybe my friend Alice. She warned me that I wouldn't end up married to Lance. Should have known she'd be right.”

“Why?”

“You'll think it's mad.”

“You say that after today's events?”

She rubbed her hands awkwardly in front of her. “Point taken. Okay, she's often... well, guessed events correctly. When she couldn't know. She said that today would turn out well, but not as I planned it. And not without pain. She was more than right about that. Not looking forward to facing her after this, and having to admit it.”

He nodded and stepped next to her. “So why not take a chance? Yes, there's danger and I can't promise to avoid it. But there's also opportunity for you, Donna Noble. Why not seize the chance to live to your own tune?” he asked as he took her hands and led her into an impromptu dance.

“Doctor!” she squeaked, giggling despite herself.

“No letting anyone's expectation rule you except your own, learning about whatever you want, and seeing who you can become!”

She laughed as she was twirled and led around gently, feeling like it was her choice to follow. “What? And someday I'll actually dance with a man who'll dip me?”

“I heard that the man is tasked with making certain his dancing partner looks good,” he casually remarked. “But...”

Donna squawked as she was drawn right next to him and her arms instinctively went around his shoulders as she found herself being dipped. For a non-romantic moment it certainly beat a lot of romantic ones she'd had!

He lifted her back up, grinning at her shock. “Well?”

Once upright again she stepped back enough to swat his arm. “You daft prawn!” she laughed, trying to cover her nerves.

“And what are you doing with him, lady?!”

They both stilled and looked at Donna's parents' home, where her mother stood in the open doorway. Neither had heard it open. Her arms were folded and her eyes shooting daggers. Behind her stood Donna's stunned father, who was saying things they couldn't make out but were clearly aimed to keep her mother from exploding.

“Yeah, she must be wondering what I'm doing with you when I love Lance, and where he is.” Donna thought quickly. “Tell you what I will do, though. If you can help me convince them that this wasn't my fault and convince my mother to invite you to Christmas dinner, I'll change my mind and say yes.”

He grimaced, but the look aimed at both of them set something inside him on edge. “I don't usually do that sort of thing, but I can't leave you to her mercy. She has to be convinced of the truth. Especially if she of all people failed to notice the bio-damper. Come on, Donna. Into the lion's den.”

Despite the situation, Donna found it in her to snort as they walked towards the house. “Well, you might as well because Mum always cooks enough for twenty. And if you can persuade her then you're definitely a friend I want in my life. Otherwise I'd wonder if I'm ever gonna see you again.”

“If I'm lucky,” he replied, quietly. “But I'm willing to test my skills.”

“Just promise me one thing in case we don't succeed: find someone.”

“You think I need someone?”

“Yes. To stop you from going too far.”

He rather thought he'd found that someone and, aware that they were being watched, tried to convey it with a silent look. He wasn't surprised that it seemed to not register.

And so it was time to see what he could talk a recalcitrant person into.

/=/=/=/=/

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 Eight: Fanning the Oncoming Storm

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cassikat
Mar. 22nd, 2017 12:42 am (UTC)
Yay! He actually caught her! And ooh, there's Scary!Eight come out to blow the Racnoss up... huh. I suppose he would get so caught up in making sure the job's done right that he'd need to be told to stop just like Ten.

And they talk on the Thames Flood Barrier while the TARDIS refills it. And he tells her about Lucie! Excellent!

...y'know, I just suddenly wondered - who or what filled the holes in the barrier so the Thames wouldn't just keep draining back down that hole? ;)

Aww, there he goes encouraging her again! Getting her to tell him her plans, and encouraging her to think about how to get it done. And getting her to talk about her hurts, and dancing! *squee!*

*eyes Sylvia, eyes next chapter title* *hunts up popcorn to get ready for that shouting match* ;D
tkel_paris
Mar. 22nd, 2017 01:42 am (UTC)
Well, he wasn't going to let harm come to Donna. Absolutely not. And his mindset is different from Ten's, as the difference you noted shows. Note that he was quicker to leave when Donna told him to stop.

I nearly had a certain thing happen there instead, but it just didn't work. Glad I found a place for it. :)

The TARDIS. Although I suppose UNIT had to check on them. ;)

I thought you'd like the dancing. How about the little extra bit? ;D

It's up! :DDDDDD
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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