They had met five years ago.
Donna Noble was nineteen that day, and happened to be out of school for about a year, much to her mother's dissatisfaction. She was riding on a crowded bus in the middle of London during a rainstorm; a spring jacket was keeping her warm, a dark red hat rested on top of her hair, and her grandfather's umbrella was by her side. Donna would have been completely at ease if it wasn't for the fact that her mother was sitting by her side instead of Wilf. Her grandfather had gotten the stomach bug earlier that morning, leaving Sylvia to chaperone her daughter as they toured the University.
Currently, her mother was reading the morning newspaper with a cup of coffee in one hand and the paper in the other. The two had gotten into a petty argument on their way out the door, leaving the two women with no desire to strike up conversation with each other. In fact, Sylvia was doing her best to look busy as she skimmed over the headlines of her somehow incredibly interesting newspaper. And Donna was occupying her time looking at the other passengers, hoping that they wouldn't catch her staring.
After a good ten minutes, Donna let out a large sigh, complete with the rising of her shoulders.
"Don't do that Donna. It's un-lady like." Sylvia Noble scolded her daughter without even glancing over to her. Slowly she turned a page over and began reading again.
Just to spite her mother, Donna let out an even heavier sigh and positioned herself so that her mother could only glare at her back. As she did so, she could feel Sylvia's eyes on her, but Donna ignored her and started to play at the hem of Wilf's umbrella, feeling the tips of her fingernails come in contact with stray, cold drops of water. How she wished that her grandfather was here instead of her mother; this was supposed to be their day out in the big city, not her mother's.
They fell into silence again, with only the occasional flip of the newspaper to fill in their tension. Traffic was heavy today in London, and the constant downfall of rain was not helping. They had been riding for almost an hour at a snail's pace, which was only making both Noble's irritable in their journey. And each second made Donna dread her decision more and more. She grew antsy, wanting nothing more but to step out of the bus and walk back home by herself.
"Why did I agree to this?" Donna asked herself rhetorically, her anxiousness almost tangible.
"Because you want a good job, right?" Sylvia asked in a condescending tone, finally looking up at her daughter. She raised an eyebrow, giving an air of haughtiness to her. Donna tried not to roll her eyes at her mother's reaction. "Do you want to struggle through life, working as a Temp?"
She waited for Donna to answer. Donna didn't. Sylvia took Donna's silence as an agreement.
"I didn't think so." Sylvia said, sounding as if she made perfect sense. "No, it's best if you get an education, and then meet a bloke with a high paying job."
"Honestly mom, marriage is the last thing on my mind." Donna said through a sigh.
"Wait five years." Was her mother's reaction.
"And why do I have to go to a Uni?! Honestly, all that'll do will put me in debt with only a degree in a useless field for condolences." Donna muttered as she slunk back into the seat. The bus was slowing down, and the people around them were starting to fidget, ready to get off of the public transportation and to their jobs and appointments. "To me it seems a bit pointless."
"If you don't, you'll be living at home for the rest of your life. And I doubt that's something you want." Sylvia said, her tone marking that as the end of the discussion.
The bus finally pulled into a complete stop. The doors opened and a flood of people stepped out into the busy streets of a dreary London neighborhood. Soon there was more breathing room, as less people hopped on the bus than those who left. The seats surrounding the Noble's were left empty, making the silence between the two woman feel even more tense.
That is, until a young man no older than Donna sat down directly across the aisle that Donna was occupying. He looked drenched, wearing nothing but a black leather jacket to keep him warm in the chilly spring air. His hair was cut incredibly short, just barely too long to be considered peach fuzz. And his short haircut did nothing to hide his unusually large ears and stout nose, both of which were currently dripping a few stray drops of water onto his shoulders and underlying shirt.
Donna only glanced at him, feeling too put off from her mother to do anything else. Besides, he looked completely miserable while he was sopping wet for an introduction. He sniffed his nose unconsciously and then rubbed at it, completing the whole "miserably wet" look.
But somehow, the young man still noticed how he had caught the ginger's attention. He glanced over at her, caught her eyes, and then gave her the sappiest grin she had ever seen. It didn't help when he had the ears to fit it, giving him a comical look. At first, Donna broke eye contact and looked to her left, where her mother was sitting. She hoped that that would be enough of a rebuttal to stop any conversation from happening.
And then for some reason, Donna's gaze was pulled back to the man sitting adjacent to her. He smiled again and waved with a hand. Donna couldn't help but faintly smile back, finding that grin of his to be contagious.
"Hello there." He said, still grinning.
"Hello." Donna replied, feeling awkward striking up a random conversation. However, she seemed to be the only one who was feeling this, as the man kept waiting for a response from her. After a minute of staring at each other with the only sound coming from the bus around them, Donna forced herself to continue. "I'm, ah, I'm Donna."
"Nice to meet you Donna, I'm John. John Smith." The man said.
He then stuck his hand out for a shake. He spoke with a clear Northern accent that Donna hadn't heard for quite some time. Donna didn't take the hand; rather she raised an eyebrow at John, just like her mother had done to her only minutes ago.
"Are you actually named John Smith?" Donna asked incredulously.
John frowned, obviously confused. "What's wrong with my name?"
"You're parents actually named you John Smith? Blimey, they must have been the most uncreative people in of all of London." Donna couldn't help but giggle as she continued. "Still, at least they didn't name you John Doe, else they would be looking for a dead body!"
John looked offended, but only slightly. Actually, he seemed more affected by the mentioning of his parents than from Donna poking fun at his name. "Oi, I happen to like my name. It's perfectly ordinary!"
"Whatever you say, Ear-boy!" Donna blurted before she could even think of something to say. Suddenly, she felt awful for being rude to the man when they only just met. She was about to apologize when John surprisingly rose to her challenge.
"Well now that I know that what they say about a ginger's temper to be true." John said, his tone of voice half-mocking Donna, and half in jest. He paused for a second, looking to see what kind of reaction he was getting from Donna and he was not disappointed with what he found. "Better keep a lid on that, sweetheart, or else someone's going to think a fire hydrant popped. And trust me, the red hat's not helping your case."
"Oh really?!" Donna asked, her voice rising in volume. This was a challenge that she would not back down on.
"Yes really!" John retorted, his own volume matching hers.
The two would have most certainly gone at it for far longer if it wasn't for the sharp kick to the leg Donna received from her mother. Donna whipped her head around to face her mother, who was currently glaring at her as if she was a child who set fire to the living room drapes. On purpose. Donna knew this look her mother was giving her, and she knew it was better to stop this from getting out of hand. She didn't want to face her mother's fury today if she could help it.
Slowly, Donna turned around to face John Smith again. Her whole posture turned stiffly and looked completely fake. However, this was exactly what her mother wanted. She put on her best, fake smile and tilted her head slightly to the right. John seemed confused for a second, but said nothing. Donna sucked in a breath through clenched teeth and let the air settle in her lungs for a few seconds.
"Sorry about that. I do hope you can forgive me." Donna said through clenched teeth, obviously not sounding genuine at all.
However, it looked like whether Donna meant it or not didn't concern John at all. He just smiled back at her with that sappy grin of his and said "No worries," before turning his back on her to look out of the window.
Donna was left confused at the encounter for the rest of the bus ride. When they reached their stop at the University, Donna and Sylvia stood up quickly. The two Nobles moved fast, and they were the first ones to exit the bus. The younger mumbled as she stepped outside the bus, thinking about the dreary cold weather and how she wished we was at home with her granddad, watching old movies and eating popcorn on the couch. Her mother ignored Donna's jumbled up remarks and led the younger woman up to the large building in the middle of central London.
The noise of the city was left behind as the Nobles entered the main lobby through the revolving door, where they soon recognized that they were not the only ones here for the tour, and they certainly weren't the first. There was at least two dozen or so more students around Donna's age. Each one had a parent accompanying them, and they were all holding a Styrofoam cup in one hand and a pamphlet bearing the Uni's colors in the other. It looked like they had been there for a long time.
"Right," Sylvia sighed as she took off her own hat and put it in her purse. "I'll sign us in and get you the papers you'll need to fill out. Don't wander off."
As soon as her mother was out of her sight, Donna made a beeline to the punch bowl. She barely ate anything for breakfast; her mother had been too busy panicking about the broken down car to help her make something for the two of them. And Wilf had been too sick to get out of bed, not to mention neither of the women would let him get up. Donna's stomach was growling in protest, demanding to be fed something to tide it over.
So Donna helped herself to a cup or two of punch while her mother was somewhere filling out paperwork and most likely talking her way with the Uni's staff. As she was about to refill her cup for the second time, a hand went to grab the ladle at the same time. And the black leather was strikingly familiar to Donna. She looked up to see the familiar face of John Smith. He looked as surprised as she felt for a brief second, before smiling again and then filling up his own cup.
"Taking the tour here too, yeah?" John asked before taking a large sip of the pink colored punch.
"Yeah, that's right." Donna answered, giving John a confused look. The two sipped at their punch for a long minute, looking at each other but not speaking. Suddenly, Donna asked "So you plan to attend here next semester?"
John's smile faltered at that. "Yeah, I guess so. I didn't really want to, though."
"Oh thank goodness, I'm not the only one!" Donna said unexpectedly, the relief practically rolling off of her in waves. Donna then broke into a genuine smile before continuing. "I'm only doing this to get my bloody mother off of my back! Fat lot of good this'll do me."
John cracked into his own smile, this one not looking so sappy. "Oh I know, I have a friend out of town that tells me this is the only way I'll make a living in a world like this. I don't understand why I need to learn more than what I already know. And if I do want to learn, it should be through my own accord, not by what some old bloke tells me I need to know to make a living."
"As if I hadn't said that to my own mother just this morning." Donna said, smiling now as she took another sip of punch.
Their conversation continued, going from pushy friends and Donna's parents to their favorite hobbies and then to their dreams and desires. It looked like they had much in common, if you counted the people that cared about you were pushy assholes. Not only that, but Donna noticed that their sense of humor was not too different from each other, which was probably the sole cause of the tension between the two this morning. As the minutes passed by, Donna found how easy it was to talk to this man. Her earlier impressions of John as a sappy know-it-all washed away as he animatedly talked about his desire to travel around the world.
"I want to see all the ancient world wonders." John said, getting very animated by the subject. "I want to see the Parthenon of Ancient Greece, walk the Great wall of China, visit the Roman Colosseum. I want to see all of those things, but not only that but live the cultures, speak their languages."
"That sounds amazing." Donna said as she listened to John's bucket list. "I've never thought of travelling myself. But you make it sound like it's the biggest adventure in life."
"Really, never?" John asked.
"No. I mean, there was this one time that my granddad took me to Paris for the day. But I was only six at the time, and I can barely remember any of it." Donna said as she tried to look back at that one day in the middle of a cold winter. "I'd love to go back there, actually."
"Well I tell you what Donna." John started, he raised his free hand as if he was ready to tell Donna something through sign language. "If I ever get the opportunity to go to Paris, I'll take you with me."
"You can count on me."
Suddenly, they were interrupted as an old, graying man wearing a suit and red colored nametag cough to clear his throat. Everyone, including John and Donna, paused to turn around and see that he was standing on the steps of a large, wooden staircase, making him more than a couple feet taller than everyone else in the room. The old man didn't react to having all of their eyes on him, and he only glanced at his watch to look at the time as if he was in control of the gathering here.
Donna's eyes wandered, not at all interested in the man in front of the room. She soon found her mom leaning against a wall, talking to another man wearing a nametag under hushed breath. She couldn't help but roll her eyes, knowing that Sylvia was most likely trying to worm her into the honor's program and other such nonsense. That wouldn't do Donna any good, only increasing the work load on her plate. That is, if Donna was even going to attend this college.
"If I can have everyone's attention." The old, graying man called out in a booming voice. Donna's interest returned to the man, and then she glanced up at John to see that he was watching him as well. "The tour will commence in a few minutes, so grab all your belongings and follow me upstairs to the Ballroom. You'll meet with your tour guides there."
The silence that he created was gone when he stepped off of the staircase. The people around Donna went back to their conversations, or more or less the end of their conversations, as they grabbed their spring coats and umbrellas. She let out a huff of air and tightened her hold on Wilf's umbrella. Now that the tour was starting, Donna was reminded once again how much she didn't want to attend a University.
Suddenly, someone tapped at her shoulder. Donna looked up to see that it was John, who looked just as unimpressed as she must look.
"I've got an idea." John started. He hunched down to get at Donna's level and whispered softly enough to make sure that she was the only one to hear him. The edge of his mouth twisted into a fast little smirk that disappeared soon after. "There's a pub just around the corner from here. And a museum two blocks east. I say let's have some fun; go eat for a couple of hours and then spend the rest of the day at the museum."
"What, you mean like a date?" Donna asked in a hushed tone, but she was still able to spit out the word date as if it contained the plague.
John's eyes widened at her words. "No! Not at all like a date. Just as friends. Plus I'm starving; barely ate anything before I had to catch the bus."
"You don't know how familiar that sounds, mate." Donna said, nodding her head. Her stomach growled audibly in agreement. John obviously heard it and smiled in approval. "I'm game for it. We just need to slip by my mother, and then we'll be out in the clear. If she catches me leaving, I'll never hear the end of it."
"Fantastic." John said enthusiastically.
He grabbed Donna's hand, which startled her. It shocked her that someone she knew barely little about would hold her hand so readily. But she didn't let go as he lead her through the crowd of people and out into the still raining streets of London. Donna barely had anytime to open Wilf's umbrella to shield the two of them from the rainfall. And at the speed that John was taking her, they were going to get very wet if she didn't stop. Not to mention that she'll be huffing and puffing, as she was not in as shape as John seemed to be.
But when she tugged on John with their connected arms, he stopped just long enough for her to open the umbrella. Donna could see he was thankful for the umbrella, as he was now grinning that stupid grin of his. Despite the fact they had only stopped for a second, he was already practically jumping up and down with anticipation.
They made it to the pub in good time, as the wind had just picked up as they entered the small restaurant. As Donna closed the umbrella, she could see how unnecessary it was, as both John and herself were drenched; his ears were dripping water again and Donna's long hair was clinging to her neck. In fact, it looked like there was a spot on them left dry. The two took one long look at each other before breaking out into uncontrollable laughter.
"It's this way, let's go." John said as he finally regained control of himself. He looked around the small place before spotting an open booth and leading them over that way. "They better serve fish and chips here, I'm starving."
By the end of the day, Donna couldn't see John as anything but a friend.
At the end of the month, Donna couldn't call John anything but her best friend.
When summer ended five months later, the two were completely inseparable.