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Title: Ginger Goddess
Series: none – first part belonged to “There's The Door!”
Rating: T
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Ten has been patiently preparing himself to meet his bride and impress her. Naturally, their first proper meeting doesn't go well. After all, she's intending to marry another.
Disclaimer: RTD clearly missed on some of the subtext created by the dynamic of Tate and Tennant.
Dedication: bas_math_girl, for Christmas. Started this back in May for you, after writing the first part Story-a-Day challenge. Love ya, Online-Mummy! (blows a kiss) Also to tardis_mole and cassikat for extremely helpful beta advice. :D
Author's Note: This started as a one-shot, but quickly grew into a story and a sequel. :D

Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6


The Doctor opened the TARDIS doors for Donna so she could step outside. They landed on her parents' street, and their house would be nearby. He smiled at his ship, patting her on the outside. “There we go. Told you she'd be all right. She can survive anything.”

“More than I've done,” Donna exhaled, exhausted.

Frowning, the Doctor pulled out the sonic and scanned her, pleased that she just accepted it this time. “Nope! All the Huon particles have gone. No damage, you're fine.”

“Yeah, but apart from that... I missed my wedding, lost my job and became a widow on the same day. Sort of.”

Oh, yes... Lance. “I couldn't save him. If I'd had another moment, I could've.”

But it did seem fitting in a way, his death. Still, the Doctor would've preferred making Lance explain himself to the authorities, to his own family, and hers.

“He deserved it,” Donna declared, nodding as she tried to convince herself.

The Doctor just looked at her. That didn't sound like her, more like the blustering cover she wrapped around herself.

Donna's face softened and her eyes watered. “No, he didn't.” She wrung her hands and looked behind her at the house. “I'd better get inside. They'll be worried.”

He smiled, looking through the window at the sight of Sylvia and Geoffrey embracing. “Best Christmas present they could have.” It was a sign of strong affections that gave him hope that Donna's mother would prove better than she had seemed today. Then he frowned. “Oh, no, I forgot – you hate Christmas.”

“Yes, I do.”

He leaned and reached for a switch. “Even if it snows?” On his flicking the switch, a ball of light shot out of the light on the top of the TARDIS, exploding like a firework in the sky. Soon the sparks turned into softly falling snow.

Donna laughed, amazed and delighted. “I can't believe you did that!”

It was simple, but he'd do it every day if it made her smile like that. “Oh, basic atmospheric excitation.” He grinned at her, soaking in the sight. She was wet through, but she looked utterly gorgeous.

She couldn't help but smile back. He did have such a nice smile, highlighting the deepest bronze eyes she'd ever seen. “Merry Christmas.”

“And you.” He took a breath. Now for the big question, but perhaps he should warm up to it. “So... what will you do with yourself now?” He did need to know what she was thinking.

Donna sighed. “Not getting married for starters.”

He frowned. What?!

“And I'm not gonna temp anymore,” Donna continued, straightening her shoulders. Ideas started flowing like they hadn't since she was a small child. “I dunno... travel... see a bit more of planet Earth... walk in the dust.”

He looked down. Well, the travel part was promising, but the bit about not getting married stung.

Donna was beaming by now, feeling hope fill her. “Just... go out there and do something.”

He looked up, finding his courage. “Well, you could always...”

That was an oddly hopeful look in his eyes, she reflected. “What?” She had a suspicion what he was about to ask.

“.... come with me...”

Rassilon, when had he ever sounded so tentative?! Oh, he couldn't sound too eager, but surely he could manage to sound more confident! He wasn't some teenager nervous over asking a girl out! With her father and brothers watching!

Yes, it was the question. She smiled softly, feeling a little torn, but shook her head. “No.”

The Doctor's jaw dropped. That wasn't supposed to be her answer! Hesitation, maybe, but a negation?!

Donna was a bit shaken by his shock, but did this alien think he was God's gift to females? “I can't...”

He shook his head. “But... but...”

So she was going to have to explain how overwhelming he was. And prevent him from flashing the puppy eyes at her for much longer. “No, but really... everything we did today... do you live your life like that?”

He hesitated. “Not all the time.” And as soon as the words left his mouth, he knew they were among the least convincing of his life.

She fixed a skeptical look at him. “I think you do. And I couldn't.”

“But you've seen it out there,” he protested softly. “It's beautiful.”

“And it's terrible,” she reminded him. “That place was flooding and burning and they were dying and you were stood there like... I don't know... a stranger.”

Those words left him speechless. Was that how he seemed when the anger of the Oncoming Storm filled him?

“And then you made it snow! I mean, you scare me to death!”

That left him so stricken he had to lean back against the door-frame. “I... I never wanted to scare you, Donna,” he whispered, almost whimpering the words. He was in so much pain from the proof that she didn't trust him.

He looked so much like a kicked puppy, all pathetic and sad, that Donna was filled with an urge to hug the skinny alien. To even take back her words. But she couldn't. That sort of behavior was how she got into the situation with Lance – reacting rather than thinking. Then an idea hit her. “Tell you what I will do though – Christmas dinner.”

He barely reacted to her offer. It took him a moment to realize what she said. “What?”

Donna had to smile at his bewilderment. “Oh, come on.”

He squirmed. “I don't do that sort of thing,” he said meekly.

“You did it last year, you said so. Even if it wasn't the best of circumstances, you still spent Christmas with someone. And you might as well now because Mum always cooks enough for twenty. There'll be plenty of food to put some meat on those bones.” She frowned. “You can eat human food, right?”

At any other time, he would have 'oo-ed' and 'ahh-ed' in reluctance. Domestic activities always made him uncomfortable, reminded him of bad times. And besides, joining someone for dinner had connotations in Gallifreyan society – which she wouldn't know about.

Then again, he thought as he went still, if joining someone at dinner meant you considered yourself engaged to them then what was the problem? He did intend to marry her, right? Did it matter that she was ignorant of the customs? He took a deep breath, realizing that he would have to deal with a lot more of human life if he wanted her. Which he did. “Oh, all right then. Help me move the Old Girl into your back garden later?

“Yes.” Donna grinned. “And good! You can help me figure out what to tell them. You owe me that much!”

And, the Doctor realized as he closed the TARDIS doors behind them, I probably also need to make sure that the authorities don't mistakenly come after you.

The Old Girl was setting up a proximity alarm, in case anyone came and forced a quick escape. This way he could protect her and her family. At least he'd made progress on the remote call system while he'd gone about time and space, waiting to meet Donna. That way, he could call his ship to scoop them away in extreme danger. He hoped.

She continued, leading him toward the house. “I can find you something to borrow while your clothes are cleaned.”

He wondered if he should protest that, but the contents of his pockets would be protected by the TARDIS. Nothing would be hurt or damaged by human equipment. And their clothes did need cleaning.

“And you can also meet my grandparents. Gramps loves watching the stars, does it every night he can. He and Gran have been sick with the Spanish Flu, and we've had them staying with us so they have someone to look after them, and a neighbor was watching them all day. He'll love anything you can tell him about what the stars are doing tonight. Dad likes it, too. I used to go with them a lot as a kid.” She turned back with a sad sigh. “Wish I'd never stopped.”

She spoke with such affection of both men that the Doctor knew he wouldn't regret talking with them. Her mother? He remained skeptical about her, but he would grant her her due for bringing Donna into the world. So he thought – he wondered where Donna's hair came from given her parents' evident shades.

Whatever the source, he was grateful for her hair being the ginger it was, and he'd gladly give Donna the stars. He could take her to them, after all. He cleared his throat. “And your gran?”

Donna's smile returned. “Amazing. I've tried to follow her example and teaching. She's always encouraged me to be my own person, to follow my dreams. She'd slip me books that my mum didn't always approve of, just so I could have a better education, better informed about my choices.”

Okay, he'd probably like her, too. The Doctor grinned as Donna hurried up the steps and knocked. He quickly caught up to her as he could hear footsteps from inside.

The door whipped open and Sylvia Noble gasped. “Donna!” Her wrinkled her nose. “Oh, god! What happened to you?! You weren't anywhere near the Thames, were you?! It drained! The news is all over the telly!” Then she noticed that her daughter wasn't alone. “You again! What are you doing here?!”

“Bringing her home,” he snapped before he could stop to think. “Is that a problem?”

“Oi!” Donna interrupted. “I'm freezing in this dress, and I smell terrible! Can we please come in so we can each get clean?”

Sylvia's nose twitched. “Oh, my god, yes! Get in!” She glared at the Doctor. “Both of you! You have some explaining to do, young man!”

As the Doctor followed behind Donna, he speculated about what she had learned at her mother's knee. Temper? Bossing around?

As they entered, Donna froze. “Graham? Lousia?”

The Doctor paled slightly when he saw the older couple who had reacted so oddly when he'd challenged whether Lance even loved Donna. Oh no, they were probably his parents. Oh, he was not looking forward to this. He'd wanted Lance to have to face his family and explain why he'd sold out the human species for a shot to see “the size of it all”. How was he going to explain who and what he really was?

Mrs. Bennett stepped forward. “Donna... the news reported that some ship in the sky killed people, and it's not clear if others were killed because of whatever happened to the Thames.” She took a steadying breath. “Where's Lance? Is... he dead?”

Donna's eyes grew moist, and she lowered her eyes as her throat tightened. She could barely nod.

The Doctor felt it necessary to speak. “Donna and I barely escaped with our lives. I couldn't save him. I'm sorry.”

Mrs. Bennett choked on a cry of grief. As much as she'd clearly suspected her son hadn't made it, the confirmation still hurt. She clutched her husband's hand and let him hold her.

Geoffrey, eyes a little watery for his child's pain, cupped Donna's face tenderly. “Get washed and changed, Donna. Don't get sick from whatever happened. Tell us then and only then.”

The Doctor, as he was also sent off to wash himself, felt very impressed with the strength of character that Lance's parents showed. He wondered what went wrong with their son that he would be so selfish and callous. Likely it was no fault of theirs, but he would wait and see.

It was about half an hour before he saw Donna again. He'd managed to clean himself in the small bathroom he'd been given, thanks to a few towels and some soap that reminded him of apple blossom. Now he smelled like flowers and would have preferred a more masculine scent or better still a plain one, but he felt better. The Thames was a disgusting thing to smell, but at least it wasn't the 1800s – now that would've been cause for concern. He would've had to drag Donna to the TARDIS infirmary so he could keep her from getting some nasty infection and dying – never mind that he might've felt unwell while his body expelled anything. As it was, he'd quietly scanned her for any signs of Thames Tummy when he had checked her outside the TARDIS, and she came up clean – much to his relief. His body hadn't reacted, so he was also clean. Made everything easier.

He sat in the kitchen with the men, having tea. Mrs. Bennett sat with them, a cup in one hand and her husband's hand in the other, starting at the patterns in the table. Her husband was doing the same. Geoffrey was alternating between looking at the man who saved his child's life, and eyeing his wife for how she was behaving.

Sylvia Noble was beginning to seem like the kind of person who needed something to do, who was organized to a fault, and who held high expectations. Especially of her offspring. If Donna was an only child... or perhaps the only surviving child, then every last expectation and wish was on her shoulders. Given how humans thought and the human life-span, no wonder she might be feeling a lot of pressure from her family. Children were supposed to be well-enough off to help look after their parents, and Sylvia clearly worried about that.

In fact, the Doctor had smelled within moments of being around Geoffrey consistently that he was ill. Probably undergoing chemotherapy. The nature of his abnormally thin hair hinted at that, but the Doctor's nose told him it first. Okay, he could grasp why Sylvia might be in a tense mood – both of her parents in bed sick, and her husband had cancer. Probably some form of leukemia that was known to not respond well to treatment. Add today's mess, and who knew what she was thinking?

He paled. How sick were her parents? Could he do anything? Should he? Immediately, he scanned the timelines, trying to see what was supposed to happen. He could see that Geoffrey, if not for the cancer, had plenty of years left. The cancer might take his life within a few years, perhaps sooner. It all depended on what kind he had, for some cancers had eluded even Time Lord medicine. Her parents would have to wait until he met them, but he was concerned – he had no family left, so any Donna had must be considered infinitely precious. Even the annoying cousin at the wedding. What could he do?

Steps on the stairs sounded, signaling Donna's descent. Sylvia sighed. “About time,” she groused. “Dinner's ready.”

The Doctor frowned. As good as the food smelled, and it certainly did look like Sylvia cooked enough for twenty, he wasn't pleased to hear a hint of displeasure toward Donna. But he held his tongue – he had to take his cues from Donna to know how to behave, especially around Lance's parents.

Donna emerged with a towel wrapped around her hair, and bundled in thick trousers and a sweater that would've covered a larger woman comfortably. The Doctor wondered why she dressed like she felt bigger than she was. Did she not feel attractive? Rassilon, what had people made her think about herself?!

Noticing the alien's gaze was once again on her, Donna had to look anywhere but him. That earnest gaze would have her blushing again and she couldn't have that. Not in front of Lance's parents. Which told her exactly who to look at. Thankfully, an empty chair was right next to Lance's mother. That it was also right next to the Doctor was not so good, but she had to make do. So she sat, facing her. “Lousia, I'm so sorry.”

Mrs. Bennett let go of the mug to grasp Donna's outstretched hand. “What happened, Donna? I need to know.”

“Trust me,” the Doctor insisted, “you don't.”

Donna glared at him. “If it'd been my child, yes I would need to know. I'd be filled with wild thoughts of what might have happened. If I know, then that stops. You don't get to choose this one, Doctor. You will follow my lead.”

He shifted uncomfortably, and reminded his body once again that certain reactions needed to not happen at the moment. If her being angry made him aroused, he had to be careful. At least she'd not called him 'Martian-boy'. That would've made hiding his being an alien harder.

Satisfied, Donna turned back and held Mrs. Bennett's hand in both of hers. “When we went to H C Clements, the Doctor determined that I'd been poisoned with some... radioactive chemical that was extremely dangerous. It quickly turned out that some alien had arranged for it, as a key to unlock... a vault. Somehow this chemical was a key. The alien purged it from me, and the Doctor had to stop her from unleashing an... awful scourge on London and on the rest of the planet. The Thames drained in the process, but it is coming back. Don't know how, but it is.”

“What did this alien want with Earth?” Geoffrey interrupted.

Donna looked at the Doctor, silently asking how to explain this one.

He cleared his throat. Nothing for it, he supposed. “The Racnoss, according to all records, were extinct. Only they weren't – this one managed to hide her children inside the Earth, and used those robots to recreate the... chemical they needed as a power source.” Might as well go with her cover story. “These aliens would gladly eat people, and they intended to eat the entire planet.”

The silence that followed was deafening. The Doctor decided that he'd made his point, and took a large sip of tea. “Trust me, you don't want to know more. I'm going to have nightmares about it as it is.”

Donna flashed him a sympathetic look. He had to hide his alien nature from everyone else and perhaps he hadn't shown her much of the differences between the species, but he'd apparently told quite a bit of the truth even with the lies necessary for the cover story. Which made her wonder how often he lied out of habit.

Sylvia stopped plating food and slowly sat down, grasping her husband's hands. “But... how did she get poisoned? Will she be okay?”

“She's fine,” the Doctor stressed. “It's all gone, she'll have no physical side effects.”

Mr. Bennett cleared his throat. “So... how did Lance die?”

Donna closed her eyes. “That's connected to how I got poisoned. The Doctor was trying to get some information from the alien, while we were in danger from the robots. Lance had slipped away, appearing behind her with an axe. I thought he was going to use it on her, but he didn't. He was the one who poisoned me.”


The exclamation came from four different people, with varying levels of shock and horror and disbelief. What the Doctor noticed was that there was another look in the Bennetts' eyes: dawning suspicion. But suspicion of what?

Donna nodded slowly, tears forming at the memory. She hesitated over telling the truth, given what she'd claimed before, but she knew that it would eventually come out. Graham and Lousia Bennett were not stupid, and she always wondered if they'd suspected what really happened to begin with. “The whole proposal story was a lie. I was... desperate and he seemed into me, so I begged him to marry me. He told me he said yes to keep me from running off, and that I was the worst person he could imagine being married to. He said all sorts of nasty things and would have said more if the Doctor hadn't stopped him.”

“Oh, God...” Mr. Bennett almost moaned the words, covering his face with the hand not holding onto his wife. “You were right, Lousia.”

That had to be commented on. “Right about what?” the Doctor softly asked.

Mrs. Bennett looked sadly at him. “Lance... showed some selfish tendencies as he grew up. I'd thought he'd grown past them, making it to such an important position.” She turned to her almost daughter-in-law. “And Donna... I don't know what he was paying attention to, but you immediately struck me as a wonderful person. You were so kind and caring to my young cousins, to my grandchildren. We hoped that he'd found a woman who could tame those bad aspects.”

Donna's eyes watered. “But you suspected something wasn't right.” It wasn't a question.

Mr. Bennett reached to take her top hand off of his wife's and grasp it across the table. “There wasn't the glow in his eyes or face when he spoke about you, the glow I know I have in Lousia.” He shared a grim look with his wife. “We had hoped we were seeing things.”

The Doctor closed his eyes. “You wanted to believe your son had changed, and you didn't want to hurt Donna.”

They nodded, stricken.

Sylvia and Geoffrey, hands tightly clasped, stared from the Bennetts to the Doctor. Sylvia slowly shook her head numbly. “And to think I was worried that Donna couldn't keep him... He was never hers to begin with.”

She didn't notice the harsh glare the Doctor sent her way. Or if she did she accepted it and made no reaction.

Mrs. Bennett looked at Donna. “This alien... did it kill my son?”

Donna and the Doctor nodded slowly.

She started weeping openly. “Oh Lance! How could you?!” She broke down, collapsing into her husband's arms.

Donna slowly stood, teary as she was, and quickly moved to touch the Bennetts' shoulders. “You didn't do anything.” She wasn't sure if her words were getting through, but she had to try. “You gave him every lesson a parent could give, and he didn't want to learn. He never outgrew that selfish phase, but that's not your fault. Please don't blame yourselves. I'm the one who didn't see the signs. I was so desperate to be a mum that I latched on to the first man who paid me anything like serious attention.”

The Doctor's eyes turned into large saucers.

“I could've seen that he wasn't into me, but I was wilfully blind. I wanted it to be true, because otherwise it might be too late for me. Now I just have to face that it probably is too late.”

That thinking deserved to be challenged, but the Doctor couldn't think of a way that wouldn't frighten Donna and her parents. He still couldn't admit what he knew. So he had no choice but to remain silent as Donna and Mrs. Bennett cried in each other's arms, and Mr. Bennett held them both. Sylvia and Geoffrey sat leaning into each other, otherwise stock still.

How was he going to help Donna?

Right then, he really wished for either Jack or Giacomo Casanova's advice. The former would help him break the ice without being inappropriate, the latter could teach him how to gently coax Donna out of the worst of the emotional minefield. Oh, he felt the sting of not even slightly grasping human females!

After all, it explained how he handled Rose. Or didn't.

Chapter Eight: The Toughest Sell of His Life


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:56 am (UTC)
Delighted to see this one updated! I enjoy the Doctor's thought process when he meets Donna's and Lance's families, especially his theories on Sylvia's behavior. I think you're spot on with Sylvia's hopes for Donna and concern for her family. Sylvia hopes for some sort of stability, which is something that temping and traveling do not provide. I always believed Sylvia cared about Donna and worried about her own future after the loss of Gran and Geoff. Wilf and Donna are all she has left, and she puts on a tough attitude to hide her pain.

Now how is the Doctor going to pitch this whole "Donna, you're going to be the love of my life and the key to the survival of my species" thing after intending to murder the Racnoss? Yipes! The toughest sell of his life, indeed!
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Sylvia is a character that evokes strong emotions. Shame that she was left underexplored. Now we have to fill in all the blanks. Mind, it's interesting to do so, although I do consider that we need to do so much a failure on the Who writers' parts.

*giggles* Chapter 8's up. :D
Aug. 10th, 2013 02:40 pm (UTC)
SOOOO happy to see the update!!! And I must say, it is nice to see events if he would've stayed instead of fleeing after she turned him down.
Poor Doctor! He is so eager to show her his life and that she could be happy with him, and she's so blindsided by the whole Lance thing. it's fabulous to see it all from the Doctor's thinking.
FANTASTIC STORY!!! And please keep writing! I anxiously await each piece to the story. THank you for writing Doctor/Donna fics.
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, that IS a good question. What if...? :D

Thank you for commenting. The next part is up. :)
Aug. 10th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
Saturday, 10 August 2013
User merryghoul referenced to your post from Saturday, 10 August 2013 saying: [...] Mickey, Tish, Clara, others | All Ages/PG] WIPs Ginger Goddess 2: Eager Groom, Unaware Bride (7/8) [...]
Aug. 10th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh, this story continues to be fantastic! Thank you so much, my love online- daughter *hugs*

I felt so sorry for the Doctor; but then you brought us the confrontation with Lance's parents and... Oh my! It cannot have been easy for them at all. At least his behaviour wasn't a complete shock for them, I suppose. Poor Donna having to face all that, but she had the Doctor's loving support - I hope she realises that soon and overcomes her reticence.
Aug. 10th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
Well, I definitely needed to finish the WIPs that I started posting at Christmastime. Now that the final part is up *hint, hint* I can focus a bit on sykira's. (Will send you stuff when I have enough to send.) You're welcome, online-mummy. *hugs*

Yes, she had his support. Too bad she didn't know it was loving. And won't know for a while. *sighs*
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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