First Time Ficlet Prompt - "First time he sees her in her wedding dress."
Prompt giver: NEVERHOPELESS16
unbeta'd


SMILING


A Plenvadaer crashed right outside Cardiff late Sunday evening, and ran amok all they way to London. The Doctor received Jack's call Monday morning, Jack's time, and spent most of the day luring out the creature whilst the Torchwood team cleaned up after it. Now, after sending it off and treating himself to chips slathered with vinegar and sprinkled with generous amounts of salt, the Doctor strolls back to the TARDIS, hands in his pockets and a smile spread across his face. Someone once told him that if one pretends to be happy long enough, one will be.

He walks past a wedding boutique, large shop windows providing passers-by with a good view of the gown-wearing, and inanimate, mannequins, when something fiery red catches his eye. He stops for a moment, staring at the few yellow leaves scattered over the cracked asphalt under his feet, relying on his respiratory bypass system for oxygen. He swallows, draws in his first real breath in minutes, and takes a few steps back, turning around to face the window.

She twirls, ginger locks dancing, white skirts flowing, and gives her mother a brilliant smile. The Doctor can't help but mirror it, tears prickling behind his eyelids as he delights in her happiness. Swaying from side to side, she moves her arms into second position, head thrown back in laughter. He takes another shuddering breath, emotions swirling around in his chest as joy clashes with regret–and feels a hand land on his shoulder.

"All right, mate?" a tall man asks, eyebrows knitted.

"Hm? Yeah. I'm always all right."

The man regards him for a second, then looks through the window. "Do you know her?"

"No. She…" The Doctor blinks a few times. "I had a…sister. She looks just like her. She…she always wanted to get married, but I never did have the pleasure of seeing her walk down the aisle before I… Before I lost her."

The man squeezes the Doctor's shoulder before letting go. "I'm so sorry."

"That's fine. I'm fine. I'm glad that this woman–"

"Donna."

The Doctor turns to look at the man–really look at him. "You know her?"

"Know her? She's mine. My Donna. Marrying her next year, actually. Spring wedding." The man smiles, warm and bright, and the Doctor smiles back, shaking the hand proffered him. "Shaun Temple."

"John Smith. Thought it was bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding."

"Donna doesn't believe in superstition. And I…" Shaun shrugs. "Well, Donna doesn't believe in it."

Failing to hold back a proud grin, the Doctor receives a curious look from the other man, and tugs at his ear with one hand whilst he gestures at the window with the other. "Are you-are you happy? You and Donna."

Shaun laughs. "What do you think? I'm marrying her! She's a gorgeous woman, my Donna. And funny! Never laughed as much in my life."

The Doctor nods. "Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"That's good. They're always the best ones," he says, hearts clenching in his chest. "The ones that can make you laugh. I once–" He kills that train of thought with a shake of his head.

"You sure you're all right, John?"

"Oh, yes." He takes Shaun's hand again, covering it with both of his own. "Do me a favour, will you?. Make her happy."

He chuckles. "That's the plan."

The Doctor pats Shaun's hand before releasing it. "Good man."

He gives him a smile and a nod and, with one last glance at Donna, turns back in the direction of the TARDIS; however, before he's more than two steps away, Shaun clears his throat.

"John?"

The Doctor moves to face him. "Yeah?"

"I'm sorry about your sister. When it's-when it's hard, remember that she's in a better place."

The Doctor takes a deep breath, rubbing his jaw as he exhales. "Yeah… That's what I tell myself. Not sure she'd agree, though. But…thank you. At least she's… She's with family."

He gives Shaun a wave and turns around, strolling down the street, hands in his pockets, forcing a smile back on his face.


the end