Characters/Pairings: Ten2, altDonna
Spoilers?: Through 4x13
Summary: Donna Noble finds out what draws aliens to Earth in the first place.
Excerpt: Donna Noble did not, as a rule, do the soft-squishy-feelings thing with anyone. She certainly didn’t do it with men she recognized from tabloids who insisted on being called arrogant nicknames, no matter how inexplicably comfortable she felt around them.
Author's note: Set shortly after Gingerbread, and probably works a bit better if you've read that.
“So our party got crashed by an alien Doberman?”
The man – ‘the Doctor’, he kept insisting she call him, though Donna had difficulty imaging the level of egocentricity necessary to adopt that sort of nickname – looked over at her and grinned. “Alien Doberman? I like that.”
Donna’s gaze drifted across the street, where Rose Tyler was still talking with the troupe that had shown up to collect the creature. She wore the man’s suit jacket over her dress and Donna struggled to reconcile the image with the preconceptions she’d had about the Vitex heiress. She’d always assumed the woman to be condescending and phony and, well, probably quite daft – just about how anyone else would assume a ridiculously wealthy twenty-something to be. Now, having watched her run around in heels and a ball gown, trying to sedate a giant alien thing, Donna figured she might have to re-evaluate her assumptions.
She figured she’d have to re-evaluate her assumptions about a lot of things.
“Dad would’ve loved this,” she said without thinking, then instantly regretted it. Donna Noble did not, as a rule, do the soft-squishy-feelings thing with anyone. She certainly didn’t do it with men she recognized from tabloids who insisted on being called arrogant nicknames, no matter how inexplicably comfortable she felt around them.
But the look he sent her was curious and innocent enough that she supposed she ought to indulge him, given that she’d instigated it. “My dad,” she went on, “he loved this, aliens and all that. Used to go up the hill by our house with his telescope every night, not that he ever saw anything. I humoured him but I never really listened.” She shrugged, pushing back the memories of robotic clangs and metal men. “Guess he was right.”
“Your father? Really?” He sounded quietly surprised and genuinely interested, but before she could ask what, exactly, was so strange about her father liking to stargaze, the Doctor was nodding. “Well, good for him, he was right. The universe is a lot bigger and a lot weirder than most people realize.”
Donna considered the fact that she’d been working at her new job for less than a month and she’d already nearly been eaten by a giant bird-alien-thing. “Yeah,” she agreed, “seems like it.” She shook herself and zipped her coat higher, eager to follow his lead and steer the subject away from the personal. “So’s this the start of the invasion or something? Sending in the hounds? Should I get ready for Mars Attacks?”
The look on his face was like she’d personally insulted him. “An invasion? It’s not an invasion, why’s everything always an invasion with you lot? Aliens wind up on Earth for plenty of reasons that have nothing to do with invading anything.”
Donna regarded him skeptically “Like crashing Christmas parties?”
“Like getting lost!” He tilted his face towards the sky and squinted, pointing at something Donna couldn’t see. “Take a wrong turn near Betelgeuse, end up here. Crash land, maybe.” He looked sideways at her, practically crackling with an excitement Donna couldn’t fathom. “Earth spends all its time screaming for attention, and then when someone finally notices it everyone panics and assumes it’s an invasion. Not every creature comes with hostile intent. Some are curious! Some are travelers! Some are just…” He shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets, lowering his voice and staring at the pavement. “Some are just looking for a home.”
The shift in tone seemed to surprise him as much as it surprised Donna, and she blinked. Not once had Donna considered that an accounting job would lead to waxing poetic about alien visitors with Rose Tyler’s mystery man. When she inevitably told people about this night, Donna was sure they would ask if he was as mad as all the papers claimed. She wondered what she’d tell them, how she could describe the way he said mad things in the sanest way possible. She wondered if she could explain the strange magnetism he gave off without sounding mad herself.
He was definitely the strangest bloke she’d ever met.
Acutely aware she should break the awkward silence that had settled but unsure what to say, Donna went with the first thing that came to mind.
“So... what exactly are you a doctor of, anyway?”
Immediately his mood flipped again, and it was with a wicked grin and a loud laugh that he clapped one hand on her shoulder. “I think you and I are going to be very good friends, Donna Noble.”