Warning: Usage of mild swear words.
Summary: A weirdly familiar man keeps appearing in front of her. Why?
Disclaimer: I once thought I owned these characters; and then I forgot.
A/N: If you don't recognise the song, it's "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt.
It was as Donna turned in to Arcadia Close that it happened: a man shimmered into being in front of her on the pavement. That would have been surprising as it was, but this was added to by the fact that he had a panicked look of recognition on his face as he squealed "Donna!" before he shimmered out of being again. If Donna were of a more pathetic disposition she would have fainted; as it was, she merely staggered with shock for a bit.
Back home she asked her grandfather, "Gramps, do I look alright to you?"
"Why's that sweetheart?" he asked with concern, taking in her anxious demeanour and paler than normal complexion. "You look as if you could do with a good night's sleep and some dinner in your belly; other than that you look fine!" He smiled encouragingly at her.
"It's just… I saw a man yesterday who sort of..," she did a wavy hand gesture, "wobbled in front of me before shouting out my name."
"Is he alright? Did you call an ambulance?" Wilf asked.
"No! Nothing like that happened; he wasn't ill…," but Donna didn't know what he was.
Wilf took a sip of his tea. "Then what's the problem?" he pondered, wondering what worried her about the encounter.
"I don't understand how he got there, or why he shouted my name like that. And… I know this will sound stupid, Gramps, but I know him and I don't!" she explained.
"You're right, it does sound stupid," Wilf chuckled. "What did this bloke look like exactly?"
"Well…," she gazed off into the distance as she tried to recall him. "He was tall, skinny, in a blue suit with a red tie, with dark spikey haired and was a… what did you call them blokes with sideburns? Erm… a rockabilly!"
Wilf visibly blanched as he recognised the description. "Who could that be?" he mumbled.
"I know!" she declared. "It's your friend John Smith. Don't say you've forgotten him," she accused him.
"Oh, John!" Wilf tried to hide his reaction, and desperately tried to come up with a way to distract her onto another topic. "What was your mum doing for dinner tonight? Only we'd better make a start, eh?"
Sensing his need to talk about something else, Donna let herself be veered towards some monotonous task; and decided to think about John Smith later, when she got the chance.
Three days later she was closer to home, struggling with some awkward bags of shopping when John Smith shimmered in front of her again. The effect was like an old fashioned dial television as he came into vision. "Donna, don't!" he cried just before he disappeared again and she called out his name.
An old man passed by her at that point, accompanied by a manky looking Labrador who could hardly shuffle alongside its master. "Did you see that man?" Donna accosted him. "Did you see him?"
"Who? No, sorry love," the man apologised and wheezed on his way.
Perhaps this was a side effect of all that memory loss? She'd lost over two years' worth of memories after all; and perhaps hallucinations were part of the package. Shaking her head, she attempted to carry her shopping safely the rest of the way home.
Just as she'd decided she'd dreamt the whole thing, the man appeared before her again nine days later; but this time it happened in her office. "Donna! Don't go…" he yelled, but she lost the end of the message when he fizzled out of view again.
This was beginning to get irritating! What the hell was going on! She looked round to try and find the cameras filming this prank. She'd have their guts for garters when she'd catch the blighters pulling this stunt on her. "Come on out! I know you can hear me!" she shouted at her pranksters. "I'll sue the backsides off you!"
But no-one emerged to own up; though the temp down the hall gave her a weird look.
A week later she was out with Veena and Nerys, having a drink, when she heard someone calling her name pathetically from behind a skip; a voice and a tone that was extremely familiar to her, but she had no idea why. Abandoning them in the pub beer garden, she made her way across the road, and sought out the voice calling her.
As she neared the skip, she called out "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" to the disembodied voice.
"Donna! Do you have to?" the voice whined. As she peered round the edge of the skip he was most annoyed that she laughed at him as he crouched on the ground. "This is NOT funny, Donna! I feel like crap, and I've ruined my suit! I don't remember travelling this way being so awful before, and I'm starving hungry."
"And hello to you too, John Smith," she smirked at him in amusement. What an idiot! Where on earth had he managed to get himself completely covered in goo?
She helped him stand properly, and as he tried to dust himself down he thought to ask, "Why are you calling me John Smith?"
She laughed at his scrunched up face. "Because it's your name, Skipboy!" she sneered.
"No it isn't!" he insisted. "That's what he used. I chose something else." He thoughtfully considered her. "Where is he by the way?" he tried to look around her, obviously trying to seek someone out.
Donna turned to peer behind her too. "Who you looking for? 'Cos you won't find anyone except Nerys and Veena," she quizzed him. "And stop dodging the question: what is your name?"
"Oh! I didn't introduce myself, did I?" he gave her his cheesiest grin and stuck his hand out to shake hers. "I'm the new and official Benedict Noble. Do you like it?"
"Of course I do! It has always been the top name on my list of possible baby names… and why do I feel that you'd know that?" Donna looked at him most disconcertedly.
He tapped his forehead. "Because I do! Keep up Donna! You weren't always this thick," he mocked her.
"And you weren't always so…," her face crumpled as she realised that she had no idea what he normally was.
"What's the matter, Donna?" he grabbed her hands and recoiled. "Wow, you feel wrong! What did he do to you?"
She pulled sharply away from him. "What are you on about? And who is this 'he' you keep going on about?" she glared at him for good measure. Idiot! Going around changing his name to almost hers in some weird stalker-ish manner!
"Oh Donna," he sighed softly. "He really did a number on you, didn't he?" He reached out to tenderly caress her cheek. "I'm sorry; I'm so sorry."
"You'll be even more sorry, mate, if you don't get your paws off me!" she growled at him, causing him to step back in confusion.
"But it's me, Donna! Surely you know me? We know each other like we know ourselves," he pleaded with her. "I owe you my very existence. How can you deny knowing me?"
"It's really easy," she ground out through gritted teeth. "As far as I'm concerned you're a warped friend of Gramps that used to call himself John but ditched that for Benedict."
"Then I'll have to make you see," he told her, determinedly taking a step closer again.
"Oh yeah! How are you going to do that?" she threatened him.
"By doing this!" he replied by grabbing her head and bringing his lips down onto hers in a rough kiss.
There was a rush of images in her mind; and then there was a resounding slap!
"Don't ever do that again, Timeboy!" she growled at him. "It was marginally better than a head butt; however I will be forced to personally castrate you if you try it again!"
He held his cheek and sniffed defensively. "Okay, Donna!" he answered.
"I suppose you'll want a drink now you're here," she offered. "Not that I think you deserve one for grabbing me like that; but you're still a friend of Gramps'."
"So we're using that as our excuse, are we?" he gleefully teased her, delighted to see her blush. "Come on then!" he held his hand out towards her in invitation; and Donna was surprised to find herself taking it without too much argument.
"Prawn!" she nudged his shoulder playfully when she got the chance as they crossed the road.
"Tart!" he nudged her back; and they both giggled together.
"Oi! Donna! Who's the bloke?" Veena shouted out to them as they appeared at the beer garden entrance. "And what is he wearing?" she asked with disdain.
He looked down at himself then, suddenly remembering his ruined suit. As he went to apologise Donna jumped in with an excuse, "He had a bit of an accident with a sump, poor love. I'm taking him home to wash and change in a minute." Noticing her friends' inquisitive glance at their entwined hands, she quickly added, "Veena, Nerys, this is Benedict!"
"Are you sure that's his name?" Nerys mumbled, seeming to catch herself from blurting out the question.
Donna chose to ignore her, and instead asked, "Anyone want another drink?" before dragging Benedict with her into the murky depths of the saloon bar. "What do you want, Sunshine?" she asked him as they reached the bar and a barmaid sauntered up to take their order.
"What do you recommend?" he asked her with a beamy grin. "I'm a bit new at this lark." He leant closer to confide, "I've never been in a pub before."
"What never?" she almost shrieked at him before lowering her voice. "How can you have lived this long and not been in a pub? Surely someone has enticed you in before? They're not exactly hard to find, are they?" she smirked at him.
"I've seen them; I've just never been in one," he defended himself with a pout. He flinched as Donna's hand came up to his cheek, but she patted it rather than slapped it.
"We can't have that, can we?" She turned her attention to the waiting barmaid, who was frantically chewing gum for England. "We'll have a white wine spritzer, half a lager top, a Bacardi Breezer, and…," she contemplated Benedict, "a pint of Guinness."
"Will I like that?" he anxiously whispered next to her ear, causing his warm breath to waft over her.
"You should do," she whispered her explanation. "Lots of blokes go for that." She smiled encouragingly at him, wondering why she believed him when normally she wouldn't. Having paid for the drinks she handed him the Guinness and another drink to carry. "Come on, Benny, let's go meet our public."
"I'm not called Benny!" he whined as they moved from the bar; and Donna was suddenly struck with how familiar that whine sounded, almost too familiar!
"So, Benny boy…," Veena began her line of enquiry as they sat down with their drinks, "how did you and Donna here meet?"
"Well, she was there when…," he stumbled, overcome with shyness.
"He's one of Gramps' mates," Donna stated. "He was at our house that night of the planets in the sky."
He gave her a wild look, wanting to tell her that wasn't him, but he bit his tongue and held that confession in. "Is that right, Benny?" Nerys sneered at him; though he couldn't quite understand why.
"That was our first night together," he admitted; and was startled by the 'oo-oh!' both women made.
"He doesn't mean like that, you idiots!" Donna snapped at them. "Do you really think my mother would let me get up to anything beneath her roof?"
"No! But she didn't mind when you had Lance move in with you in your flat!" Veena laughed; except neither Donna nor Benedict laughed with her.
"He was a prat!" Benedict commented, and hastily took a sip of his beer. "Mmm, this isn't bad, Donna!" he grinned with delight.
"Told you," she smiled confidently at him. Seeing her friends puzzled expressions, she explained, "It's his first pint of Guinness."
"What else is going to be his first time tonight, Donna?" Veena asked cheekily.
Donna glared at her. "Oi! Don't start! We aren't all tarts around here," she insisted.
"You've changed your tune," Nerys chimed in. "Or have you changed your tastes?"
"Donna?" Benedict asked her in confusion. She could feel it rolling off him in waves.
She took hold of his hand, giving it a consoling squeeze, "Don't worry, love, I'll sort you out later."
"I bet you will!" Veena scoffed, adding to his confusion as he frowned desperately. "For goodness sake, Donna; put him out of his misery! Are you going to have sex with him or not?"
"Oh!" he blushed in understanding. "I wasn't expecting…"
"What were you expecting then?" Nerys suddenly asked, throwing his composure to the four winds.
"I don't…," he stammered. He gave Donna a forlorn, pleading, look, "I never…"
"Give over, girls!" Donna admonished them. "Leave the poor bloke alone! He's only just got here, for Pete's sake!" Summoning up her best glare, she threatened them, "Pick on him and you'll have me to deal with. Have we got that straight?" Both women nodded their agreement. "Right! That's sorted, now can we please get back to what's important."
"What? You mean that pig's ear of a hairstyle Natalie had last week?" Veena asked, causing the other's to laugh as well; and the conversation veered off into banalities until they finished their drinks.
Finally getting her chance to escape from the two women, Donna said her goodbyes and tugged on Benedict's hand to drag him after her. He staggered considerably once they left the beer garden and tried to walk down the road. "Donna? I've got something wrong with me," he complained.
"It's called being drunk," she enunciated very slowly for him.
"Are you sure?" he released her hand and slung his arm around her shoulder. "I thought that was bad but I feel quite happy about it."
"That's why they call it being merry," she told him, amused by his growing boyish grin.
"What did…," he almost tripped up a kerb stone as he tried to ask his question, swinging inwards towards her, "what did they mean by beer goggles? What are they?"
She waved away the gassy beer smell that emanated from him. "That's when someone looks attractive to you purely because you are sloshed...you know, drunk!" she emphasised.
His weight bore down on her again. "They didn't mean that about you though, did they? I mean… look at you… you're whatshername!" he declared to all and sundry. He swung nearer still. "You're beautiful! That's the word! Beautiful, and…" He halted, suddenly sobering slightly as he looked at her. "You're ginger; did you know that? My beautiful ginger Donna."
"Erm… thanks for that," she replied, pushing him forward and holding him up now as he wavered dangerously beside her. "I'd have forgotten if you hadn't've told me! Though I'm not sure about the beautiful bit."
"But you are!" he insisted. "He would never have said it; but I can!" That was when he burst into song. "You're beautiful! You're beautiful it's true…when I saw your face…'cross a crowded place…and I don't know what to do…'cos I'm so in love with you!"
"Yeah, thanks for that," Donna muttered with embarrassment. Seeing the front drive come into view, she remarked, "Thank goodness we're almost there!"