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): 1474
Once her ankle had fully healed and she was walking around on it normally with no pain or fatigue, Donna started working on fulfilling the promise she’d made on the first day she’d been disabled, to hold a party for their engineering group. Organising a gathering wasn’t something that she’d done often - her preferred method of socialising was a pint with friends at a pub - but just the novelty of it excited her and she dove into it headfirst.
Her first choice of venue was Lance’s flat, which was comfortable and large and centrally located in the city, perfect for dinner and mingling, but her boyfriend flatly refused, claiming he had no talent or interest in entertaining and didn’t want to be responsible. The only other choice for Donna was her mother’s house, and as she expected, asking her mother became a palaver. Sylvia pointed out that the house was too small for such a large number of guests, despite not knowing exactly how many guests were expected, then complained about what Donna expected she and Wilf would do whilst the house was occupied. Donna suggested they join the party and immediately regretted it as her mother berated her for expecting them to mingle with “the kids”, as Sylvia called Donna’s coworkers, though most were in their thirties or older. Then, without officially allowing the party to happen in her house, Sylvia began planning it, making most of the major decisions, such as whether or not to have the food catered and how to accommodate so many people at once. Donna’s enthusiasm for this project began to wane.
As soon as they’d decided on the details of the event, Donna sent out the invitations to the group and was extremely disappointed by the response. All of the engineers and mechanics declined immediately, leaving the guest list at Veena, Nerys, and Lance, who wasn’t in Nerys’ group but Donna wasn’t going to exclude him. With only three guests, it was hardly a party, and the implied insult was starting to make her regret she’d ever had the idea. Thus, she set off to the engineers’ offices to find out exactly why there had been such a unilateral refusal by the techies.
“It’s nothing against you,” Anna hastened to assure her as she leaned back in her chair. “It’s just that we’re busy with the Keller project.” She pointed at her computer screen which displayed the project design she had been poring over when Donna had knocked on her door.
“The Keller project?” Donna squeaked. “You’ve got weeks left on that! You’re going to be working on it on a Friday night two weeks from now?”
“Well, it’s our biggest contract and it’s actually a tight deadline,” Anna explained. “But really, it’s a fascinating question and design. I want to work on this and get it right.”
Donna peered at the design on the screen as if she had any possibility of understanding it at all. “What is the project, anyway?”
“Well, this particular bit is a standard feedback circuit, but I’ve got to redesign it to fit among the rest of the circuitry, and the space that I have is unusual, so I’ve got to... “ She trailed off as she realised that Donna had no idea what she was talking about. “The overall device we’re creating, well, it’s very innovative and I really only understand my part of it - well, I think we all do - but I think it’s meant to focus energy. It’s a small part of a larger system that Keller is putting together.”
Though Donna had never been much of a scholar, she’d done well enough in her science GCSE to understand that much. “It’s a lens, then.”
Anna grinned. “Well, yes, if you like. Bit more complicated than that, but that’s close enough.”
“So, you’d rather build a lens than come to my party?” Donna pouted with a wink.
“Ah, you won’t miss me,” replied Anna. “Plenty of other people in the department.”
“None of the engineers or mechanics are coming.” Donna was pleased that she didn’t sound as disappointed and petulant as she really felt.
“I suppose that makes sense. Most exciting project to come along in a while. Though,” and she frowned, “Jon’s not on the project. He should be there.”
“Oh, you’re right! I forgot.” She glanced in the general direction of his office. ”I wonder what his excuse is?”
Anna snorted. “That he’s Jon.”
Donna rolled her eyes. “Then I’ll just have to go drag him there myself.”
“Oh, good luck,” Anna said, shaking her head.
Donna prepared herself for playing the bully as she strode toward the large office shared by Jon and Brian. Jon was not going to wriggle his way out of this: after all, she was throwing this party for his benefit - not that he knew that, of course. Stopping in front of the closed door, she straightened her blouse and took a deep breath before raising her fist to knock.
“Come in, Donna,” came Jon’s voice from inside the office.
She paused, fist in the air. She didn’t think she’d made so much noise that he would hear her approaching, much less enough to identify her. Rather nonplussed, she grasped the doorknob and opened the door, peeping in. “How’d you know it was me?”
Sitting at his desk with his back to the door, Jon was reading some technical document open on his computer screen. “Heard someone out there, and I’ve been kind of expecting you,” he mumbled. He spun in his chair to face her as she stepped into the room and waited for her to speak, his hands in his lap picking at each other.
Donna suddenly didn’t know what to say. Wasn’t it really his business if he couldn’t make it to the party? Wouldn’t it be rude to accuse him not having a good excuse for snubbing her? However, she was sure that he’d refused simply because he was too afraid to socialise with the rest of them, and she tried to find a way of coaxing him out gently. Maybe the best way was to put the blame on herself, not him. “Yeah, I expect you have. The party and all. I was really hoping… Jon, can I ask you a question? Because I know you’ll tell me the truth.”
Frowning, he looked her up and down. “Of course. What is it?”
She held his gaze as she asked, “Have I done something wrong?”
“What?” His surprise bumped his voice up an octave. “What do you mean?”
“No one’s coming to my party.” Whilst Donna was putting on a show to make Jon feel bad for refusing, her curved shoulders and hanging head weren’t entirely an act. “Well, Veena. And Nerys, but she’s my friend so she doesn’t count. Though, you know, for a woman who makes more than the rest of us, she sure jumps at the offer of free food. But no one else, not a single one of the engineers or the mechanics. Did I offend you techies in some way? Cause I sure can’t think how.”
Jon looked very uncomfortable, but Donna couldn’t tell if it was due to his normal shyness or because he was trying to hide a real problem. “No, I don’t think so. Everyone loves you, Donna.”
“Funny way of showing it,” she grumped.
“Brian said he wanted to, but he’s too busy with Keller.” He shrugged. “I expect the rest’d say the same.”
“Nonsense!” Donna crossed her arms. “People don’t work extra on Fridays like that, and especially turn down a party. Something’s got to be wrong that people aren’t telling me.”
“You don’t really think that,” he soothed.
“I do,” she insisted “What else could it be?”
“No. You don’t.” His response was calm and straight. Donna stared at him. He was not trying to comfort her with telling her that she was imagining things or convince her to give over such thoughts. He was simply stating a fact, like he knew she was having him on.
“Donna, is this party important to you?” he asked.
She suddenly realised that yes, it was. Sure, her intent had been to get Jon to open up a bit, but she’d put a lot of effort into planning this event. That over half the group had chosen to plan to work late on a Friday two weeks in the future had injured her pride. Looking Jon in the eyes, she nodded.
With a hint of a smile, he told her, “I’d be happy to attend. Thank you for inviting me.” He immediately glanced away, the apprehension in his eyes telling Donna that he couldn’t believe he had just agreed.
“Oh, thank you, Jon,” she beamed. “I really would love to have you there. It’ll be the best time, I promise.”