Prompt Words: Night, secret, sadness, hurt

Summary: Sometime after JE the Doctor has lost his memory, but fortunately he meets Donna. Or is that unfortunately?

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, but I think they are a lot of fun!

A/N: Written for the Big Bang challenge at bbcland.

A Friend In Need

Part 1


The day didn't start off too badly. Donna had woken on time, Sylvia had grumbled at her much, Gramps had left all his flask clutter in the sink, and her bus for work had arrived on time. In the great scheme of things it wasn't an important day, but for her it was almost diary noteworthy.

Inevitably there wasn't a spare seat on the bus, so she held on tight to the rail at the back of a double seat idly running scenarios through her head as to what she would say when that pervert Frank Henderson deemed to cross her path again! It was then that she realised she was being watched by a man seated three feet away; and quite keenly too. She turned in his direction, and was gladdened to see him blush and dip his head, breaking eye contact. She smiled ruefully to herself; he didn't look too bad. There was something about him that was awfully familiar, but she couldn't quite place her finger on what.

The bus drew up to her usual stop then and she waded her way through commuters to get off. To her surprise the man was now standing next to her on the pavement, looking around agitatedly. It was as his face turned properly in her direction that she recognised him. "Excuse me, but aren't you John?" she asked him. "You came to our house the night of the planets."

"Did I?" he asked in return. "Oh yes!" he cried as recognition bloomed on his face. "You're Wilf's granddaughter, aren't you? Hello again!" He thrust out his hand, so she shook it with some slight embarrassment. "I'd been wondering where I knew you from."

They smiled at each other with some apprehension. "Do you work round here?" she asked, as she noted with some mild amusement that he hadn't let go of her hand yet.

"Hoping to," he admitted. "I've come for a job interview." He pulled a momentarily demented face. "I'm buggered if they don't ignore the problems I've been having lately."

"Problems?" she echoed, suddenly feeling some sympathy for him.

"Yeah, since that night we met I've been having problems with my memory; it's been a bit hit and miss. They reckon it's got something to do with that nasty business," he confessed in lowered tones.

"No!" she exclaimed. "Would you believe I've been having similar problems?" They shared a common commiserating look. "Perhaps we ought to compare notes some time; see if we're affected in the same way."

His eyes lit up. "I'd love to… that is… if you want to, but if you don't…"

She halted his stammering by placing a hand on his arm. "Will you still be here lunchtime? We could easily meet up if you like."

"Yes! Yes, that'd be brilliant," he enthused. "Can I take your mobile number just in case things go wrong and I have to cancel?" He pulled out his phone, and punched in the number she gave him.

"See you later then," she said, and gave him a small wave as they went their separate ways.

Donna was quite disappointed when he sent her a text message to say he was having to undergo some more interviews and wouldn't be able to get away to meet her for lunch. She'd texted back, saying something along the lines of "never mind, perhaps another time" clearly expecting to never hear from him again. It was to her delight that she received a text message during the afternoon tea break suggesting he meet her after work instead and go for a celebratory drink of some sort.

A small flurry of text messages followed as they sought to arrange a meeting place, and it was finally decided upon to meet outside WHSmiths, near the bus stop. Nice and convenient should they be stood up. She hoped to goodness that he wouldn't stand her up, as that would be beyond embarrassing.

Fortunately he was there ready and waiting for her, looking anxiously at any woman that walked in his direction, and enabling her to smirk in delight; especially when he eventually saw her observing him. They grinned self-consciously at each other as they tried to decide where to go next, and they bartered with a great deal of embarrassment before giggling together nervously. "We must sound like a couple of teenagers!" Donna noted when yet another suggestion was dismissed. "Are you actually hungry?"

"Not just hungry; I'm starving," he readily admitted, so they headed for the nearest carvery by mutual agreement.

"Are you really going to eat all that?" wondered Donna as she watched him stack his plate up with vegetables from the choice on offer. "Blimey!"

He eyed her minuscule-in-comparison portion with contempt. "Some of us work up an appetite," he answered in hurt tones. "Why don't you let someone else mind your figure for a change?"

"Is that an offer?" she cheekily asked him, and got the blush she wanted in reply. Oh yes! She still had it!

They sat and happily munched away for some minutes before their conversation started up again. They exchanged tales of their bad memories, but Donna was shocked how far John had fallen. "Yeah, waking up not knowing who you were or where you came from was awful," he confessed in a small voice. "The police were really good to me, and they sorted out help that led to me starting my life afresh…"

Donna placed a consoling hand over his. "I'm so sorry, John. I know exactly what you must have gone through at times."

He tried to shrug the emotion off, but Donna wasn't fooled. "I got some of it back. I managed to remember you," he said, giving her a reluctant smile. "I just wish I could get some more of the rest back."

"Me too," she soothed him. "At least your new job means you can start building new memories now."

He returned her smile gratefully and turned his hand over to lightly grasp hers on the table. "Things are starting to look up at last in my life. Donna… I know this will sound stupid, or maybe not considering you know how it goes, but I feel meeting you is really important; like we might have known each other before all the…erm… trouble."

Donna gave his hand a squeeze. "I think you're right. Weird isn't it? We could always ask Gramps if he knows whether or not we did. This feels a bit like playing detectives! Solving a mystery together," she told him gleefully.

They left the carvery hand in hand later; it seemed the natural choice to do so, even when they got on the bus home. "Did you want to come in and meet Gramps? Or are you going straight home?" Donna anxiously asked before they reached her stop.

"To be honest, I'm in no hurry to get back to my lodgings, so yes; yes, I'll come home with you if that's alright!" the John brightly replied.

"Of course it's alright," she answered. "Come on then! This is our stop!" She hauled him out of his seat, tinged the bell, and led him off the bus. "Changed your mind?" she asked him as they watched the bus disappear into the distance.

He swung their hands between them. "Nah! This feels right. I don't understand why it does, but I'm loving the fact it does," he told her.

"Me too!" she enthused. "I can feel that we're going to be good friends!"

Donna felt that way right up until they stepped through the front door and were greeted by Sylvia. Though 'greeted' is a very loose term for Sylvia's reaction.

"Donna! What on earth are you thinking of bringing that man into this house?" Sylvia had demanded.

"What do you mean?" Donna had innocently answered. "Mum! I asked him back here to come and meet Gramps."

"Well your grandfather is up on the hill, so take him up there," Sylvia had insisted, much to Donna's embarrassment and disgust.

"I'm really sorry about this," she had whispered as they trudged along in the dark towards the allotments. "Whatever must you think of us?"

He draped a placating arm around her shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Donna. I seem to get lots of extreme reactions out of people. Did I tell you? Just last week some woman ran up to me in the street and tried to hug me as though she knew me, but when I asked who I was she clammed up and wouldn't say another word!"

"How weird!" She wrapped an arm around his waist, and tried to draw him closer. "Did you find out anything about her?"

"Erm…," he thought carefully. "She had quite an old fashioned name… Martha! That was her name! Or that's what she told me anyway. She said I'd met her family."

"And you've no way of knowing whether you have or haven't," Donna guessed correctly. "Oh John! You poor thing!" She reached up to caress his cheek. "I'll help you find out if you like," she offered in hushed tones.

They'd stopped walking and now stood under the soft beam of an amber streetlight. "I'm so glad I found you," he whispered. "You already make all of this much more bearable."

They gazed at each other expectantly and intensely, trying to work out the feelings of the other as they shifted closer together. His joint need and hesitation were tangible, so Donna moved her hand to the back of his head and gently encouraged him to tip forward. She lifted up her chin so that his lips could land on hers easily, and he happily complied.

Their kiss was a soft touch at first; the merest whisper of a kiss as though they were unsure of the process. Then they pressed slightly harder, keeping their lips locked together as though they were testing out the springiness of a mattress, almost bouncing against each other.

He brought a hand up to hold her head in place, weaving his fingers into her ginger hair, close to her scalp. Little shards of aromas wafted up to him as he did so; odours that sparked memories of being accepted and cared for. Memories that seemed to surprisingly be about Donna. The emotional punch hit him as they deepened their kiss, using the coldness of the night air as their excuse to crush one another closer.

"I just thought," he remarked as they pulled apart. "That Martha woman… I'm sure she mentioned someone called Donna. Yes, I'm sure she did! She sounded really concerned that you weren't with me."

"How strange!" Donna commented. "What do you think this might mean?"

"Well..," he began, and coughed nervously. "I think we might have been having an affair judging by what she said."

"No!" Donna gasped in disbelief. "Really? An affair? But you've got no wedding ring or anything… and I can't imagine me doing such a thing. I truly can't!"

He tried to bring back all of the memory of his strange encounter with this Martha. "She expected me to be with some other woman, but she kept mentioning you. Now what exactly did she say again… I suppose it's possible that the other woman is a relative of mine, and you are my… Answer me honestly, Donna. Do I feel like your husband?"

"I'm sure Mum would have said you're my husband if you were. She seemed to know you, but I don't get the feeling we're married. Though she was nowhere near being happy to see you. Perhaps you're a cheating ex-boyfriend? Or we really are having an affair…" She gasped in horror at him. "What did I become?"

He sought to console her then with his kisses. He had no idea what the truth was, but he was determined to find out; for both their sakes. "I think we'd better get up the hill and talk to your grandfather pretty sharpish, don't you?" he pondered. "Once we've finished doing this… obviously."

Strange how neither of them were in a rush to go and quiz Wilf…