Fandom(s): Doctor Who (modern)
Characters: AU - Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Wilfred Mott, Lance Bennett, Nerys
Pairing(s): Tenth Doctor/Donna Noble
Rating: R (well, probably more PG-13)
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure
Summary: Original AU. A normal human in a world in which a handful of individuals have suddenly developed superpowers, Donna lives her mundane life whilst always keeping one eye to the skies to catch a glimpse of the city's new heroes.
Word count (chapter): 3505
Donna’s statement at the pub the previous night was proven the moment she hobbled into work on Lance’s arm. Amid the gasps at the bruise on her jaw and the support bandage on her ankle, she described the attack and her saviour Silver Falcon appearing out of nowhere, and she immediately became the celebrity of the day. When she finally was able to settle at her desk, she found that the story had spread across the entire company, and every few minutes, another person appeared at her desk to beg for a telling directly from her; even Paul, who rarely ventured out of the legal offices down into the engineering section, stopped by, ostensibly to make sure she was all right, but really to get all the juicy details. The interruptions weren’t particularly conducive to work, but when Nerys and, a bit later, the CEO of the company arrived to ask her about her adventure, Donna decided that she could enjoy this for a day. Each time, she flipped her ginger hair back over her shoulder and launched into the tale, and each time, it got taller. By lunch, she’d been waylaid by six men, who’d then ganged up on Silver Falcon and been beaten down one-by-one in a theatrical fight that lasted nearly ten minutes.
At precisely noon, Lance appeared to help her into the engineering break room and fetch her lunch for her. Tom, Anna, and Veena joined them at the table, but before long, they were surrounded by engineers and mechanics from around the company, all eager to hear her tell her tale yet again. Donna was in her element, the center of attention and the authority on all things prime-related.
“Oh, you must have been terrified!” Veena squealed. “I can’t imagine what I would have done if it had been me!”
“Oh, I was! But Silver Falcon took care of them, chop chop!” Donna punched the air, forcing Lance to duck her swinging elbow. “See, Vee? Doesn’t that make you feel safer? He is watching out for us. They weren’t supervillains or bank robbers, and he saved just one person, just little old me.”
“Well,” Tom waggled his eyebrows, “Silver Falcon is known for saving damsels in distress. That’s his MO, when he’s not fighting other primes.”
“I’m good with that, being a damsel in distress.” Sighing theatrically, Donna swiped the back of her hand across her brow. “Save me, Silver Falcon!” she cried, to the laughter of the entire room.
“I think,” Anna stated, cutting across the noise, “that the real hero is the other bloke, the one that got them off of you.”
Tom nodded. “I’ll say. Taking on three of them like that. I don’t think I would’ve even tried without some kind of power.”
“I’d say Silver Falcon saved his life as well as yours, sweetheart.” Lance squeezed her hand.
Donna tried to remember back to the moment before the hero in silver had appeared, but it was too hazy for details. The man hadn’t done a bad job, and certainly hadn’t allowed any of the three thugs to land a hit on him. Her last impression, though, was that he wasn’t likely to have lasted much longer. “I reckon he did. Sweet man, he was. We need more heroes like that, on our level, don’t you think?”
“Well,” Veena laughed, “hardly on our level. Didn’t you say he was a prime, too?”
“He was?” Lanced jerked back in surprise. “You didn’t say.”
“Oh!” Donna waved dismissively. “He said he was, just a little. He didn’t seem happy about it.”
“Really?” Lance studied her face, looking a little concerned. “What did he call himself?”
Donna shrugged. “He said he didn’t have a name. Sounded like he had powers but had never used them in public before.”
“What did he do? What were his powers?” Jon, one of the engineers standing around the table, asked in a quiet voice, and Tom seconded the question.
“It’s hard to say.” Raising a hand to touch her bruised cheek, she tapped at it. “He touched me here and said my jaw was fine, and then did the same for my stomach and my ankle. He could tell my ankle wasn’t sprained.”
“He diagnosed your injuries?” asked Brian, another engineer. “Like a triage nurse?”
“That’s what I mean!” Donna squealed. “Isn’t that strange?”
“That’s an oddly specific power,” Tom remarked, his eyebrows knitted as he pondered it. “Limited in use, but applied correctly, it could revolutionize healthcare.”
“I don’t know,” murmured Veena. “Someone touches my leg and tells me I have cancer? I couldn’t trust that. I mean, how can they tell that?”
“All right, maybe not,” Tom conceded. “But how about as a first opinion? No long queues waiting for big machine tests to tell you they have no idea what’s wrong. Just go into his office and he tells you right off what you might have and how they’ll verify it.”
“Yeah,” agreed Brian. “That’s the power of it right there. He’s the one you should be telling everyone about. What a power!” He turned to Jon next to him, who nodded in agreement.
“It’s amazing,” mused Anna, “how many people got small, quiet powers like that but don’t use them. I mean, people like Kathica are all over the news, doing all these great things, but how many of these other primes aren’t doing anything with them? There’s so much good these people could do.”
“Good point,” Tom replied. “I bet a lot of them just don’t want to get involved. Just like us regular people don’t, even when we’re perfectly capable.”
“Well,” Lance grinned at Donna, “I, for one, am grateful that the great primes are looking out for my Donna.” He leaned forward and planted a kiss on her cheek. “But I’ve got to get back to work, sweetheart. Contractors are coming in to assess that basin in the toilet upstairs and they have questions about the safety protocols.”
“What basin upstairs?” asked Veena, her eyes lighting up at the prospect of new company gossip.
“You didn’t hear?” Donna needled her with affected surprise. It wasn’t often that she heard about something before Veena did and she loved to rub her nose in it when it happened. “They found one of the basins in the men’s toilet by HR smashed to bits, like someone took a sledgehammer to it -”
“And took a sledgehammer to the bits, too,” added Lance.
Donna nodded at him. “Yeah. But just the one. All the others are fine.”
Taking a drink from his pop, Tom frowned at Donna over the rim of the can. “Why would anyone do that? Any idea who it might have been?”
“None at all,” Lance replied. “We can’t even figure out how it happened, how anyone had the time to do such a thorough job without being seen, and without making a sound.” He shrugged. “So we have to replace it. At least the plumbing wasn’t damaged.” He patted Donna’s hand. “Want help back to your desk?”
“Nah. If I can’t make it on my own, I’m sure one of these big strong blokes will oblige.” She eyed the group around her with a flirtatious grin.
“You all take care of my princess,” Lance ordered, wagging a finger at the engineers, then stood up, patted Donna on the back, and strode out.
“Come on, one of you sit down here close by me,” she called. “Jon?” She patted her invitation on the seat.
“Oh, no, no, not me, thank you,” he murmured, stepping back and running a nervous hand through his short brown hair. Donna eyed him with a mischievous smirk. That one was so shy that she couldn’t resist flirting with him just to see that flush of colour on his cheeks.
“I’ll take that invite if he won’t,” stated Brian as he slipped into the seat and nudged Donna with a shoulder, which she returned. In direct contrast to Jon, Brian, a dark-haired bloke with an angular face, known for his penchant for deeply-coloured silk shirts, was outgoing and easy to pal around with. “So you don’t have any idea who this new prime is?”
“Not a clue. He wouldn’t let me get a good look at him, either. All I know is that he’s tall.” She surveyed the engineers standing around them. “Maybe about Jon’s or Eric’s height.”
Brian shook his head. “Honestly, he’s what we need, good useful powers put to good use.”
“Maybe you should sell your story to the papers,” Anna suggested. “Let everyone know there are primes out there who need to be recognised. They might be able to find him, or flush him out.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Donna chewed on her lip. “He was desperate to keep himself secret. It wouldn’t be right.”
“Well, a story like that could bring forward other people who don’t realise they can contribute as much as Kathica or someone like that can,” Brian suggested. “Just picture, a headline like, ‘Britain Needs Your Powers’, telling all about how he saved your life.”
“But he didn’t!” protested Donna.
“Well, maybe he didn’t, but he still helped. ‘After the great primes have gone, who’s left to clean up the mess?’” Brian intoned in a poor imitation of a news announcer’s cadence. “‘When Chiswick secretary Donna Noble was attacked in the street by three local men earlier this week, Silver Falcon dispatched the thugs in short order, but who helped the injured woman, lying alone and injured? Enter the new prime, er…” He beckoned to his audience with a hand. “Give me a name, a name!”
“The Healer?” suggested Tom, but Brian grimaced at the idea.
“The Doctor,” stated Anna.
“Much better!” grinned Brian.
“That’s terrible,” muttered Jon.
Ignoring him, Brian continued, “‘Enter the new prime, the Doctor. With his ability to assess injuries with a single touch, he diagnosed and stabilised Ms. Noble’s condition and got her the medical help she required.’”
“That’s not how it happened!” protested Donna. “I didn’t get seriously hurt.”
“Doesn’t matter. That’s not how the story needs to go. Do you really think the news tells the truth?” Brian held up a hand to stop her protest and continued his monologue. “‘Do you know the Doctor? Contact us with information about this rising new prime. Remember, all powers, no matter how small, can be useful and potentially save lives.’”
Donna was appalled. “I could never do that to him. I don’t think he wants any of that. He only stepped in because he saw me being attacked!”
“And what ever happened to personal privacy?” asked Jon, though not loud enough that anyone paid attention to him.
“Relax!” sighed Brian. “I’m not going to run off to the news, if that’s what you were thinking. But it bears thinking about, what good a prime like that could do if he just came forward.”
The friendly mood of the room broken, the crowd dispersed very soon after that, and Tom helped Donna to her desk. The afternoon settled down quite a bit, with fewer and fewer people appearing to distract Donna from her work as the hours wore on. As she often did when forced to sit still for long time, she began to fidget, and when the mailroom dropped a box on her desk addressed to one of the engineers, she climbed to her feet and, grabbing the package, limped off.
“Donna!” shrieked Veena. “You shouldn’t be walking on that! Let me do it!” Jumping up from her desk, she stomped over and tried to take the box, but Donna snatched it away from her.
“I’m tired of just sitting here. Just one little slow trip, ‘kay? I’ll be fine!” She glared at Veena, exasperated.
“Well,” Veena grumped. “It’s not like I’ve ever been able to stop you when you have your mind set on something.”
“No one has, ever,” Donna agreed, grinning, then hobbled out to the lift.
The engineers’ offices were on the same level as the secretaries’ room, but the labs and workshops were on the ground floor and Donna knew that the box’s recipient had been working down there all week. Tapping softly on the door of Lab 1, she verified that the warning light above the lintel wasn’t on before turning the handle and slipping inside.
Though part of her duties were to type up and proofread the technical documents the engineers produced, Donna understood very little of it, and when asked about what the company did, she simply stated that they designed machinery for the research and military sector. Thus, each time she did get to peek in the labs, she allowed herself to be bowled over by all the technology. It wasn’t at all like the films liked to make her think, with glass displays, holographic projections, and robotic assistants. Instead, the lab felt earthy, with great stainless-steel constructions, heavy floor-standing tools, and multiple computer workstations. She was always floored by the brains that went into creating all of it.
One of those brains was perched on the top platform of a mobile ladder, elbow deep in the chamber on the top of the contraption he was working on, the sleeves of his shirt rolled up. Obviously struggling with something that Donna couldn’t see, he smeared his fist across his nose, knocking his safety goggles askew. With a frustrated groan, he tossed the tool in his hand onto the nearby tray and straightened to pull the goggles off. Donna opened her mouth to greet him, but he spoke first.
“Hello, Donna,” Jon called without turning around. He ran a hand through his spiky mess of brown hair, then hopped lightly to the ground. With a nervous smile, he asked, “What can I do for you?”
“A package came for you. Thought I’d bring it down.” She held out the box.
“Oh! You shouldn’t have!” His raspy tenor squeaked his shock. Dashing over to her, he motioned to a chair near the door. “You should have just called me. You need to keep off that foot.” Before she could protest, he divested her of the box, dumping it on a workbench nearby, then came up short, glancing meaningfully at the chair, obviously unwilling to touch her or ask her to sit. His mouth worked soundlessly as he tried to express his concern.
Oh, he is just adorable! Donna giggled to herself. She’d always thought that with his wide clear eyes and lopsided grin he’d be rather cute if he wasn’t perpetually cowering with a deer-in-the-headlights look. He needs to get out more. To relieve him of his agitation, she smiled sweetly and sat down, as he was silently begging her to. “Thank you, Jon. But really, I couldn’t stand sitting at my desk one more minute, and the package gave me an excuse to get up. Did you order it just to get me to come down here to visit you?” she asked with sly smile, which was rewarded with flushed cheeks and a ducked head.
“No, no, I, er… ‘S’equipment I need,” he fumbled.
“Oh? What’s in the box?” She strained up to peer at it.
If she thought Jon already wanted the ground to swallow him up, now he plainly wanted to dissolve into the air and blow away. “Thm jrvz,” he mumbled. Taking pity on him, Donna thought better of needling him any more and opened her mouth to change the subject when he inhaled deeply and said clearly, “They’re thumb drives.”
“What for?” she asked before she could stop herself. She really didn’t need to know why thumb drives mortified him so.
He stared at her. “I… I thought everyone knew.” His voice trembled.
Leaning back, she held up both hands to stop him, to calm him down. “Jon, no, I’m sorry. I don’t, but don’t tell me. I don’t need to know.”
Turning away, he continued as if she hadn’t spoken at all. “It was the offsite meeting last week, for the board. We had to present our project progress. I was so nervous, I was buzzing and I almost threw up before I had to go. And then my slides didn’t work.” His gulp was audible. “Turns out, the thumb drive was broken.”
“Oh, Jon!” Springing up from her seat as quickly as she could, she limped over and squeezed his arm. He cringed away but she held on tight. “That wasn’t your fault. You can’t take the blame for bad hardware.”
He squirmed out of her grasp. “It was my fault. I… I…” He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter. My presentation failed. Almost got the project cancelled. Don’t know why I wasn’t fired on the spot.”
“They wouldn’t fire you just for one bad presentation.”
“That’s not the only…” He swallowed again. “Been here two years now, finished only one project, messed up three others and had three more assigned away when we were almost done. It’s only a matter of time, really, and then I’ll never…” He closed his eyes for a moment, then gazed at her with a chill smile. “It really doesn’t matter. I thought you knew. I thought everyone knew. It’s all everyone’s been talking about until your… what happened last night.”
“Not at all. I hadn’t heard a jot of it. All I’ve ever heard is how brilliant you are. That’s what Nerys has always said, that we’re lucky to have you on the team.” That wasn’t quite honest. Nerys had gushed about Jon’s ability when she’d hired him, but those comments had stopped in the last many months. Donna had never been assigned to work on any of his projects and couldn’t judge Jon’s ability, but as her best friend, Nerys had confided in Donna that Jon was not at all what he’d been touted to be. Assignments which had preferentially been given to Jon, Nerys now gave to Brian, Tom, and Anna.
“If that’s true, she’s mental,” he mumbled, fiddling with his own fingers obsessively.
Donna’s heart bled for him, and she searched for a way to comfort him. “What can I do to help?” He shook his head, not daring to look up. “Well, let’s make sure you do a bang-up job on this project of yours.” She stared at the huge stainless steel device. “I could… I could hold your tools for you. Or make sure you have all the coffee in the world.”
He grinned despite himself. “No, no, thank you, Donna.” He stepped over and laid a tender hand on the device like it was his enormous, beloved dog. “No, this one won’t save me, either. It’s a specialised vacuum chamber for a professor up in Cambridge. This is the prototype, but it’s just not working. I’ve gone over the designs a dozen times but the seals aren’t holding, so I’m taking it apart, piece by piece.”
Donna frowned. That wasn’t what she thought engineers did. “Shouldn’t the mechanics be doing that?”
“They’re the ones who put it together. If the problem’s in their work, they’ll won’t find it. Besides, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Sighing, he stared up at the mountain of steel.
“You’re taking the project on your shoulders,” Donna chided him gently. “You should be working with a team.”
He bowed his head. “I can’t. I can’t ruin everyone else’s careers like that. Just my own.”
Pursing her lips in sympathy, she patted him on the shoulder. He twitched, as if forcing himself to not shy away from her touch. “You know, Jon, Lance and I will be going out to the pub tonight with Tom, Anna, and Brian. You should join us.”
“Thanks, Donna,” he smiled, gazing away from her, “but I can’t. I’ve too much work to do,” he explained as he tapped on the metal surface.
Her smile was resigned but sympathetic. “Well, don’t work too hard. Be sure to relax some this weekend.”
“I will. Thank you, Donna.” He pointed at her ankle. “Would you like help back upstairs?”
“No, I’m fine. Slow, but fine. I much prefer my freedom.” Hobbling to the door, she waved and flashed him a fond smile, then disappeared through it, letting it swing closed behind her.
Jon leaned back against the machine to watch her leave. As soon as the door shut, he slapped his palm to his forehead and berated himself, “You’re an idiot, Jonathan. A daft, bumbling idiot.” He pulled his goggles out of his pockets and put them on, then climbed back up the ladder to the top platform and picked up a large spanner to dive back into his work. Exhaling heavily, he slumped down on the machine and gazed at the door as he rooted in his pocket again. Pulling out a matte silver thumb drive, he shook it, the pieces inside rattling like a baby’s toy. “Why? Why? Why?” he murmured to himself, gripping it tightly in his fist, then dropped the broken device back in his pocket and returned to wrestling with the steel machine.