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): 3734
Donna knew that time was of the essence, that if Lance was indeed still in trouble, the Doctor needed to get back to the riot quickly to find and help him, so she strode on alongside the Doctor as best as she could. However, his long stride and superhuman endurance meant that she had no hope of keeping up. After only three blocks of almost running to keep up, she was thoroughly winded and had to stop.
“Hold up, jackrabbit,” she panted. “Gotta catch my breath.”
“Of course!” he replied, bouncing off a lamppost to circle back to her. “I’m so sorry. Take your time. We’ll not get there any faster if you can’t move.”
The pavements on either side of the street were curiously empty, and Donna guessed that any pedestrians had either fled the area or, more likely, had headed toward the riot to gawk. Like the last time she’d been out in public with the Doctor, the few people around stayed well away from the masked man as he waited for his companion.
“You know,” she said as she let her breathing and heart rate calm, “you could take a name like that.”
“Like what?” He was clearly puzzled.
“Like the Sonic Avenger or Sonar Man or something.”
Throwing his head back, the Doctor barked his laughter, and Donna got glimpse of a narrow face and a tall nose under the mask. She hadn’t meant to sneak a peek of him like that, but she was happy at the chance.
“Those are terrible names!” he exclaimed, still guffawing.
“They’re the first I could think of, you prawn!” she protested. “Give me an hour and I’ll have it. Here’s one. Basic but flashy: Ultrasound.”
“Stop it, stop it. No more names!” he chortled. “I’m happy with ‘the Doctor’. Besides,” and he swallowed to stop his laughter, “never name yourself after your powers. That’s just one piece of information you don’t need your enemies to have.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, let’s say you have lightning powers.” His voice still had the lilt of laughter in it. “If you call yourself Electrogirl or something like that, then your opponents show up in rubber suits. Better to have a neutral name, or better yet, a misleading one. Then you can surprise them with your lightning bolts.”
“All right, fine, Doctor,” she drawled with heavy sarcasm, then grinned at him.
As soon as she had rested, they resumed their journey, though at a much slower pace, walking quickly rather than running. Both kept silent: she wasn’t sure if the Doctor needed to, but she certainly had to conserve her breath. She spoke only to keep the Doctor on track to Lance’s flat.
Upon reaching the building, Donna fumbled in her handbag for the keys to open the front door, and as soon as she got it unlocked, the Doctor pushed it open and followed her to the lift, murmuring a single word, “Posh,” as they dashed through the lobby. The wait for the lift gave Donna much needed seconds of free breath, and as soon as they boarded, she slumped against the back wall.
“Almost there, Donna,” the Doctor reassured her. “We’ll get you in and then I’ll find him, I promise.”
“Do you really think he’s safe?” she asked with a bit of a whine. She was suddenly very tired and needed to hear the Doctor’s reassurance.
“Yes,” he stated immediately. “I’m sure he is.”
As soon as the lift door opened, they trotted off. “Down here at the end of the hall,” she mumbled as she fiddled with her keyring to find the door key.
The Doctor stopped dead in his tracks and Donna whirled to him when she realised he was no longer right behind her. “Doctor? Come on!”
“Er, on second thought, Donna,” the Doctor replied, beckoning her to him. “I think I’d like your help in finding Lance. I really don’t think I’d recognise him on your description.” As soon as she stepped near him, he grabbed her hand and spun to return to the lift.
“Doctor!” She yanked her hand out of his grasp and he turned back. “What are you on about? Can’t be too many black men in the area. You don’t need me and I’ll just hold you up.”
“Come on, Donna, I really need you,” he pleaded.
“No, you don’t. What’s wrong? Why do you suddenly don’t want me to stay here?” She glanced at the door to Lance’s flat then back at the Doctor, her eyes narrowed. “You can hear something in there, can’t you?”
“Donna, come on, let’s go! We don’t have time,” he called, trying to catch her hand again, but the excuse sounded lame even to himself.
Staring at him for a moment, Donna whirled and ran to the door, fumbling the key as she tried to unlock the door as fast as she could.
“Donna, come back, please! You don’t…” and he trailed off. He couldn’t stop her.
As soon as Donna strode into the flat, the loud, rhythmic grunts accompanied by feminine whimpers issuing from the bedroom door across the wide lounge told her exactly what was going on in there. Shocked, she stumbled back, colliding with the Doctor behind her, who steadied her with comforting hands on her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” he murmured in her ear.
Anger constricted her heart, and she stomped across the room, screaming, “You two-timing, lying son-of-a-bitch! You didn’t answer and I thought you got killed, and here you are, cheating on me the moment -” She rounded the door jamb and froze at a thoroughly unexpected sight: kneeling over a woman who was desperately trying to pull the sheets over her naked body was a dark-skinned man, his face concealed by a grey mask with black tear-shaped eyes flanked by two wings above his ears. He’d also grabbed part of the blankets and had wrapped them around his lower body. Nearby on the bed was a discarded light grey bodysuit trimmed with red ribbing and stripes.
“Silver Falcon?” Donna breathed weakly, her brow knitted as she tried to make sense of the scene. “I didn’t know you had a Silver Falcon costume.”
“Donna, I can explain.” The voice issued from under the masked, panicked and embarrassed. “Really I can. This isn’t what it looks like.”
That was definitely Lance’s voice, and it only made Donna furious. “It’s exactly what it looks like. You’re screwing some bint!”
“Oi!” protested the woman.
“Can it, missy,” Donna shot back at her.
“No, it’s not what it looks like, not exactly,” cautioned the Doctor as he appeared in the doorway behind Donna. “Tell her the truth.”
Apparent even through the mask, Lance glared daggers at the newcomer, yelling, “Who the hell is he?”
Donna was quite happy to point out that her new friend had the integrity her long-time boyfriend lacked. “This is the Doctor. He protected me at the park and brought me here whilst you were off playing heroes and damsels.” She pointed at Lance and the woman with him.
“That’s closer to the truth than you think, Donna.” The Doctor stepped into the room. “Tell her, Lance. Tell her who you are.”
That made no sense to Donna and she turned to look up at him. “What are you talking about, Doctor?” Donna demanded at the same time Lance rounded on the stranger.
“Get the hell out of my flat, mate.” Lance jabbed a threatening finger at the Doctor. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you don’t know me at all.”
The Doctor wasn’t fazed, his tone even and calm. “I’m Donna’s friend, and I know exactly who you are. We’ve met before, you know.”
“Yeah, when?” Lance sneered.
“Nearly four weeks ago, in the alley in Chiswick when Donna was attacked by those three thugs.”
Donna’s confusion calmed her anger for a moment, and she tugged on the Doctor’s arm. “You’re wrong, Doctor. Lance wasn’t there. I left him at the pub in the city and came home with Nerys. She got off the bus before I did, so it was just me and you in the alley.”
“No, Donna,” he informed her, “there was one other person there.”
“Oh, don’t you dare, mate!” Lance’s hands closed into fists and he stepped off the bed, pulling the blanket free from its anchors to keep it around himself.
“Doctor! There wasn’t anyone else, except those blokes and…” Donna gasped, her eyes growing wide as the Doctor’s implication hit her. She pointed a shaking finger at Lance. “You’re actually Silver Falcon!”
Lance drew in a deep breath to protest, but then thought better of it. He drew his shoulders back and nodded. “Yes, Donna,” he pronounced in the deep voice she was so familiar with from the television programmes that had captivated her so, “I am Silver Falcon.”
“All this time and you never told me? You know how much I… I…” Still not quite able to wrap her mind around the fact that her long-time boyfriend was one of the greatest heroes of the city, she couldn’t put her sentence together. “How much I adore Falcon. Why wouldn’t you tell me?”
“Because I wanted you to love me for me,” Lance pleaded in his normal voice, “not for being a prime. I don’t care how much you adore Falcon. I know that Donna Noble loves Lance Bennett.”
Donna’s eyes hardened. “Is that the way it is, then? You’re two people, and as long as it isn’t Lance that’s sleeping around, it’s okay?”
“I have to do this, Donna,” he stated, waving a hand to indicate his partner on the bed. She was still cowering under the sheets, bewildered at the scene in front of her. “I’m not doing this for fun. This is for the greater good.”
“Cheating on me is for the greater good?” squeaked Donna. “This, I have to hear. How can you possibly justify this? And take that blimmin’ mask off, bird boy!” she thundered.
Unfastening the catches under his chin, Lance peeled the grey mask off and bunched it up in his hands. He threw fearful glances first at the girl in the bed and then at Donna, then sighed. “It’s like this. My powers, they’re dependent on my, er, well, level of satisfaction.” Both women startled at that, and their surprise gave him a jolt of confidence. “Yes. When I’m horny, I’m powerless. That’s what this is about. There’s a riot going on out there and Silver Falcon is not there breaking it up and saving lives because I can’t do a thing until I finish here.”
Donna’s jaw dropped open and she bristled indignantly. “Is that why you came on so hard this morning? Not because you wanted me, but because you wanted your powers back?”
Lance was appalled at the thought. “Donna, you have to understand. I love you! This morning, I wanted to make love to you to make love to you. But yes, I need to have my powers.”
“And so that’s what this is all about?” shrieked the woman in the bed. “You saved me from the riot to get your jollies because your girlfriend didn’t put out this morning?” Somehow, Donna wasn’t at all offended by the woman’s insult; they both felt deceived and used.
Lance threw his hands up. “Look at the bigger picture, will you? What I do here defines everything I can do out there! I’ve fought villains and saved hundreds of lives. I’ve put my life on the line for this city. And I can do that because of what happens right here.”
“Or what doesn’t happen, ‘cause it sure ain’t going to happen with me,” Donna snarled and began working the flat key off her keyring.
“Nor me,” stated the woman, jumping out of the bed and retrieving her clothing.
Donna threw the key at Lance’s feet. “You can bring my stuff to me at work tomorrow.”
Lance dashed forward to grab her hands, pleading, “Donna, don’t leave! I love you! We can work this out together.”
Donna snatched her hands out of his grasp, wrinkling her nose like she smelled something foul. “Maybe you should have tried that first, instead of using me like this. And the worst thing is, I know you’re just going to go find some other woman to screw for great justice. Have you ever thought of using your flippin’ right hand?” Whirling, she stomped past the Doctor out of the room, followed by the woman as she struggled to get into her dress whilst clinging to her shoes and handbag.
Lance shook a quivering finger at the Doctor. “Oh, mate, you are going to pay for this.”
“I had nothing to do with it. I was just bringing her home. This is all you,” the Doctor responded. “Maybe you should’ve thought less about the welfare of the city and more about hers, hey?” Shaking his head, he, too, turned and left Lance standing, clutching the blanket, seething with anger and despair.
As soon as the door to the flat slammed shut, Donna burst into tears and staggered over to cower against the wall. “What just… How… I don’t…” she gasped out. “I don’t even know what just happened!”
The woman glanced at the Doctor, who was standing slightly apart as if he wasn’t quite sure if he should attempt to help, then stepped closer in. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know, I swear. If I had any idea -”
Donna peered up at the woman the haze of tears. Though she really wanted to scream and rant at someone, she couldn’t find it in her heart to be angry with her; she’d been just as deceived. “No, no, it’s okay. If anything, I should be thanking you for… for that. I would have never known.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Nothing. Please, just go.” Donna collapsed back against the wall. “I’m done with this place.”
The woman bent to slip her shoes on, then patted Donna on the shoulder. “Good luck, Donna. It’ll be okay. You’ll be better for this.”
As the woman waited for the lift, Donna stood quietly, her face buried in her hands. The Doctor fidgeted nearby, trying very hard to blend in with the wallpaper. When the lift doors finally closed, Donna turned to him, her eyes rimmed with red and her cheeks streaming with tears. “Two years. He’s been using me as a sex doll for two years!”
“Donna.” The Doctor stepped closer and grasped her shoulder. “He does love you. He was not using you. He’s just got a warped sense of priority.”
“It doesn’t matter!” she snapped.
“Yes, it does.” Squeezing her shoulder gently to get her attention, he waited until she was listening to continue. “The distinction is very important. He never viewed you as an object, Donna. He truly loves you as a person, as you. It doesn’t excuse his behaviour, but you must never believe that you were ever just an object.”
“How can you possibly know what he thinks?” Donna snarled at him.
The Doctor tapped his ear. “I can hear heartbeats, remember? Nothing he said sparked any internal rise in tension except when he was trying to intimidate me. Everything he said, he meant it. Well,” he drawled, “it was his truth. He believed what he was saying.”
Bristling, she spat at him, “Oh, so now you’re a flippin’ lie detector, too.” Her energy suddenly flagged and shaking his hand off her shoulder, she jerked away. Her life had come crashing down around her ears and she just wanted to scream and punch and kick at the world, but that would accomplish nothing. She didn’t even know if it was better that Lance loved her. Sure, it was comforting to know he hadn’t kept her around for two years just for easy sex, but that meant that though he loved her, he didn’t trust her with his secrets or with helping him overcome his difficulties. Maybe her love of celebrity gossip had convinced people that she couldn’t keep personal secrets. She peered up at the Doctor. “Doctor, why won’t you tell me who you are?”
He sniffed. “I told you before, I need to keep this life separate from my real life.”
“No, that’s not it.” She could feel new tears threatening to burst out and she clenched her jaw hard to stop them. “You don’t trust me, do you? I mean, how can you? We’ve known each other for all of an hour.”
The Doctor replied, his voice even and firm, “I’ve seen and heard all I need to trust you.”
Donna shook her head, certain of her understanding. “But you won’t tell me who you are, and it’s the same thing, isn’t it? Lance didn’t trust me, and neither do you.”
Reaching up to flip the lenses of his mask up, the Doctor tipped Donna’s chin up with his other hand and held her gaze, his large, round eyes serious and sincere. “I trust you, Donna, and I truly believe that Lance loved and trusted you as well.”
Donna stared up at him. She felt she could see him truly in the warm protective depths of his eyes, all of his regard and respect for her laid plain for her to see, but there seemed to be something more in there, something she couldn’t place her finger on. There was no doubt in her mind that he trusted her, but… She wrenched herself away, plodding to the other side of the corridor. “Then what is it? Why won’t you tell me?” she cried, spinning back to face him.
The black lenses were back in place, concealing him from her again. “Donna, it’s not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of perception. If you knew Lance as both Lance and Silver Falcon, he can’t be the man he wants to be for you. One or the other would just fall short.”
That made no sense at all to her. “What the bloody hell does that mean?”
“I… it’s hard to explain.” The Doctor paced off, rubbing at his head with both hands. “I understand what he’s thinking,” he murmured, “but I just can’t… I’m not good at this.” Whirling suddenly, he dashed back to Donna. “He said it himself, didn’t he? He said, he said, he wanted you to love Lance. Think about it. If you knew he was Silver Falcon, your great hero, your favourite prime, how could he know if you loved him or if you were just in love with that symbol? There’s no way that Lance could live up to Falcon’s reputation in your eyes. And Falcon, he can’t give you a normal life. At best, he’d have to give up his hero work to devote himself to you, and at worst, he’ll be endangering you. Lance would fail no matter what he does to try to make you happy.”
Glowering, Donna hugged herself, remembering that rather than give her the chance to make it work, Lance had kept his secrets and cheated on her to get what he needed. “I would have loved both of him,” she insisted.
“Are you so sure of that?” the Doctor wondered. “How well do you actually know Falcon? You’ve met him once for a few seconds. All you know of him is what you’ve seen on the news, and that’s propaganda.”
Donna didn’t have an answer for that, so she grumped, “I loved him. I really did. He should have given me the chance to know and love both of him.” Her eyes filled with tears again and she tried to blink them back.
“No argument there,” the Doctor agreed, his voice soft and gentle. “I just understand why he didn’t.”
“You never will either, will you?” At that question, the Doctor bowed his head in embarrassment even though his face was already hidden by his mask. “You don’t think that I could see the real you because I’ll always consider you to be the Doctor.”
Donna could hear the Doctor’s breath as he inhaled deeply, then let the air issue from his mouth before he answered. “Yeah. This,” and he gestured down himself from head to toe, “this is a fiction, made possible by extraordinary powers and a bit of glass and metal and cloth. I can’t live up to this, not as a regular person. It’s just not possible.” The confidence evaporated from his voice and he fell silent.
“Oh, I don’t think that’s true. You wouldn’t be doing all this, breaking up riots and saving people, if your heart wasn’t already in the right place. That mask doesn’t hide who you are. I think it magnifies it.” His breath catching in his throat, he sputtered in surprise, and she reached up and stroked his cheek where it peeked out from under his mask. “But I understand and I won’t press you.” She could feel his eyes on her, burning through the black glass. For a moment, she thought he was leaning in to kiss her, his hand coming up to push the mask’s veil out of the way, and she lifted her chin to meet him, but he broke away, stepping back as he scratched at the back of his neck.
“What do you need, Donna?” His tone was gentle and concerned. “I can take you home, if that’s what you’d like. Or maybe your friends? You shouldn’t be alone today. Nerys, perhaps?”
Donna drew in a stuttering breath. She didn’t want to be alone, but she didn’t want to tell him that she was already in the company she wanted to keep today. He’d done so much for her, protecting her in the square and supporting her through her breakup with Lance, and she just couldn’t ask him for more. “I should go home,” she decided, rubbing her nose with the back of her hand. “At least it’s a fast enough trip. I can make it on my own.”
“Walk you to the station?” he offered.
“Yeah. That’d be nice.” With a sad, wintry smile, she gazed up at him. “Thank you, Doctor, for just being here for me.”
“You’re welcome, Donna. I always will, if I can.” He offered his arm to her and, taking it, she leant in close, clinging to him as they walked to the lift.