For My Sins [Al Chayt]

by jer832 [Reviews - 1]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Angst, Character Study, Humor, Hurt/Comfort, Introspection, Standalone


There was a lot going down in those seconds before twenty-six planets were returned to their home systems, the Dalek Crucible was destroyed, and the TARDIS took off with Earth in tow. A biological metacrisis part Human, part Time Lord with a time machine could easily get lost in the shuffle. Especially if she wanted to.
~~~

'Oi, Sunshine,' Donna Noble looked down at the bloke huddled on the ground against the side of the blue police box that wasn't. He raised his head from his hands, a feat he seemed to accomplish in spite of himself, and glared at her. His old leather jacket was broken and battered, barely good for anything anymore. Battle-scarred and grieving, he looked in even worse shape.

'You know, you look more like a train wreck than a dreamboat.'

'Lucky for you then,' he shot back in a gravelly Northern cadence that Donna fell in love with immediately, 'this is a train wreck you can walk away from.'

'Nah,' Donna said, refusing to take the Time Lord's not so gentle hint, 'I have a fondness for train wrecks. I'll stick around a while.' He growled menacingly, and she smiled. "Is your bark worse than your bite, Sunshine, because my bite is a thing of beauty."

Somehow the Doctor had survived the Time War. Somehow, he had ended up on Earth. In London of course, where else? Either the TARDIS had a fixation with London or UNIT had installed some kind of homing beacon... home..hom…ing.. No. When he realized where he was, the Doctor had actually considered jumping into the Thames and inhaling. But he'd been in London so many times, with his luck he'd be there to rescue him, and he didn't want to have to think up any excuses to give himself. The Time War should have done it for him. It hadn't. Now here he was, planning out a final foolproof plan. It didn't include being used by a mouthy redhead to kill time while her poor sod of a boyfriend was off somewhere deciding if he was hungry enough to endure an evening of verbal abuse. The Doctor mumbled something and pulled his jacket collar up over his face.

'You may be fine with slouching up against that pretty blue box, but I know the box has better things to do.'

The Doctor's head jerked up, and he stared at the well-dressed young woman who owned the big mouth and know-it-all smirk.

As she met his desolate yet thoroughly ticked-off look, Donna's gentled. 'You have the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen,' she told the Doctor softly, 'so full of space and time and sadness and promises. I bet it was the eyes that did it for her.’ A little flustered, Donna shook herself. ‘But every otherwise, slumped down there like that, you look like just another homeless bum.'

The Doctor jumped as if he'd been burned.

'Oh, damn my big mouth! I'm sorry! I am so sorry!' Donna crouched, reaching out for him. He was, after all, going to be her Doctor.

The Time Lord pressed back against the wall of the TARDIS as if trying to push himself between its molecules and through into the safety of the control room. No mouthy red-headed ape in a low-cut barely-there party dress was ever gonna hug him.

'Look, I just want to help.'

The Doctor inched away. 'Into picking up strange homeless men, are you?' he asked suspiciously.

'Strange!' Donna snorted. 'I think with you, Baldy, I more than filled my quota.'

'You picked me up out of the blue, to be your charity case, Red?' he asked sullenly.

'Nah, you're my picked up out of the blue friggin' suicidal nutter, to turn into the most important Being in the Universe case.'

That got Red all of his attention. He felt no shiver of recognition; still... 'Who are you? What is your name?'

'Well it 's not Clarence, so don't get any ideas about ringing my bells.'

The Doctor laughed in spite of himself. Donna grinned and plopped herself down on the pavement next to him.

'You have a nice laugh, Sunshine. You should use it more often.'

Inching closer to the Doctor, Donna studied him in the flickering streetlight. He had given his dark hair a soldier's buzz-cut, which made his ears and nose look like ill-fitting afterthoughts. His lips appeared soft and firm at the same time. And his eyes–there were no words for the kind of amazing they were. The planes and angles of his haggard but obviously handsome face enhanced an overall effect that was both masculine and sensual. Donna loved her twin oncoming puppies — always would, no matter — but she was looking into the eyes of a hurricane and having just a bit of trouble keeping track of her thoughts. 'Hmmm. Seems I'm into endless blue eyes, leather, and hard luck cases. But we'll just keep that our secret, ok?'

The Doctor would have inched away again, but that would lose him the security of the TARDIS at his back, and he figured that Red, like Daleks, would just keep coming after him. It was time to stand (figuratively) and hold his ground.

'I'm the Doctor,' he said. 'Who are you when you're seriously being not Clarence?'

The Time Lord had one eyebrow up and a jigger of male conceit in his voice, so of course Donna had to brag: 'Me too.'

The Doctor's smirk dropped. 'You and I… are we…will I be–'

'Hell no! I'm my own Doctor.' Donna squinted coldly at the Time Lord. 'Why? Would being female be a problem for you?'

'Not at all.' The Doctor smiled. 'Actually," he drawled, 'I am a little disappointed. I like your directness. I like your hair.' He rubbed his hand over his brush cut. Then he grinned, and it took up most of the bottom of his face. 'An' I love your big mouth.'

'Watch it, Time Boy!'

'Why are you here, if it is not on account of me?'

'I told you already: not Clarence. I just felt like slumming.'

'Oi, Red!'

'Oi, Baldy!'

'What did I do to deserve you, not Clarence?' the Doctor grumbled. Red smiled at him; she had a beautiful smile.

'I keep asking myself that same question, Doctor.'

'You ever get an answer from yourself?' The Doctor looked at her keenly. 'Or from me?'

Donna cocked her head and looked at the Doctor, completely serious for a moment. 'I think this might be it.'

'Ah.'

'Thing is, the dark is coming... Isn't that the title of a book? If it isn't it should be; anyway the dark is coming, yes. But, oh Doctor; so is a whole lot of light!'

'And your job is to show me something, to keep me from, um–'

'Going deep sea diving without a wetsuit and tank? Yes, I do know about that; you are not the only one here who is very clever.' Donna looked the Doctor up and down. 'But you know what, Handsome? See these nails?'

The Doctor jerked back as Donna stuck out her hands and wiggled her fingers beneath his nose. Nice hands, the thought came to him, definitely uninvited, soft and silky-looking, with long fingers and bright red nails.

'I stopped to have my hair and nails done on the way over, and I'm in no mood to throw away the cost of another manicure. Besides, look at the size of your feet! It should be a cinch for someone with a mind clever as yours, to locate your bootstraps.'

'What? No– ' The Doctor's voice rose in falsetto. '"–but Doctor the universe needs you!"?'

It was a very good imitation of Donna that the Doctor had done; the both of them were rightly impressed.

'So the ego thing isn't a product of age and senility?'

'Nah,' he answered with a smile. 'It's the prize inside the package.'

Donna snorted. 'Doctor; you already know that the Universe needs you. You don't need me to show you. But let's say I did. Let's say I took you on a field trip, showed you the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower of London, and Reality. It wouldn't make a diff. Would it make any diff if I said you need the Universe?'

The Doctor didn't answer; he figured she didn't expect him to. ‘So that’s what a Time Lord is worth now– less than a stupid ape manicure?’

‘It’s French nails,’ she replied as if that’d mean anything to him.

‘I’ll console m’self with that knowledge.’

They stared at each other.

‘I won’t add in the pedicure,’ Donna said decisively.

‘Got it.’ The Doctor grinned. ‘Do you really think this is going to work, Doctor not Clarence?’

‘I don’t really care, Space Junk. I got places to be and things to do.’

‘Yeah?’

‘Yeah. That field trip I mentioned; I’m in the middle of it.’

‘Ah. Big Ben.’

‘Yup.’ She popped her p.

‘So,’ the Doctor asked, sounding not as uninterested as he wanted, ‘how bad is…Big Ben?’

‘I’m cleaning the clock,’ Doctor-Donna said proudly.

‘You?!’

Donna looked at the Doctor again, a long give-away-nothing challenge. “Do you want to make something out of it, Doctor?’

The Doctor looked back. There was Time in her eyes. Time and vortex energy and swirls of something that shouldn’t be in a Human’s eyes and somehow the Doctor wasn’t surprised. Beyond it, he saw courage and determination; brilliance; hope and regret; and love–an infinity of love.

‘Yeah,’ he admitted grudgingly and more to himself than to her. ‘Maybe I do.’

'First, go buy me something pretty.'

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me, Dumbo.'

The Doctor shrugged. 'No money.'

'And some things never change,' Donna muttered.

'What?'

'Nothing, Diamond Jim.’ Donna looked down at her nails–maybe to give herself time to think, maybe to check out her manicure. ‘Henricks is having a fire sale. My favourite colour is blue, I love chocolate, and my wrist is seven inches around.'

She jumped to her feet and yanked the Doctor up off the ground. He wasn't expecting it and was dead weight until he realized he was in motion; and by that time, he was on a collision path. She caught him; he caught her; same difference. This Doctor was tall, maybe a notch shorter than her two Doctors; and lanky, not skinny. His body was firm and wiry beneath the leather and wool and denim. His hands were cool in her hair and around her arm. She stepped back and offered a hand. With a small nod he took it.

They walked along, hand-in-hand, and it was strange–not the hand-holding, but that it had happened naturally and neither of them thought it strange. They stopped across the street from Henricks.

'There doesn't appear to have been a fire in the building,' the Doctor observed.

'Not yet.' She handed him a small explosive device.

The Doctor studied the cheeky, caring woman beside him. 'I am not promising you anything, Doctor not Clarence.'

'Donna Noble,' Donna told the Doctor, because she wanted to hear it said, once, out of the mouth of the man who had saved the universe at the cost of his soul and would do so again at the cost of everything else.

He nodded. 'Donna Noble.' The Doctor's tongue caressed Donna's name; his soft Northern drawl made love to it. 'Thank you for caring about me.' His lips brushed the top of the woman's head. 'There are far worse things to endure than dying, Donna Noble; still, I forgive you for bringing me to the point where I have to choose to live.'

'You won't always remember that, Doctor…that death isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person. But I know it's because we're best friends and you love me. I forgive you for what you're going to do after the realities seal themselves off.'

She stretched up and kissed his cheek. 'But right now, Time Lord: autons, Nestene consciousness, blonde trapped in the sub-basement.' She grinned. 'Something could go boom.'

Then Donna walked away, around a corner, into a narrow passageway between buildings.

The Doctor turned to study the store building across the street, but a familiar noise had him running back the way Donna Noble had gone. He skidded to a stop in front of a stack of discarded cardboard boxes and watched the stack waver and begin to fade out of its space. The grinding and whinging of the brake-engaged dematerialization seemed wrong, just… wrong; until the stack of boxes reconfigured into a blue wooden police box. The TARDIS disappeared.

With a shake of his head and a grin, the Doctor tossed the explosive device that Donna Noble had given him high into the air along with a mental coin. He caught them both. Then he loped off to find the trouble he was about to get into.