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11 September 2011 @ 08:46 pm
Knock Knock, anyone still here?  
I come bearing fic. This would be a thing that I thought of during the final bit of Ashes to Ashes when Gene was left standing all alone in the street.

As I said to my good friend at the time: "He needed his Donna." And he did. So I wrote her for him.

Title: Needs More Ginger
Author: 7tree_hugger
Rating: PG (and some angst)
Summary: After the travesty that was the end of season four of the rebooted Doctor Who, a certain Donna Noble found she could escape in her dreams to another world where she could remember again. That said world belonged to a disreputable copper who went by the name Gene Hunt and what they did there together is another story altogether. But she always goes when he needs her. And after the season finale of Ashes to Ashes he needed her badly.
Spoilers: Spoilers for the end of Ashes to Ashes

Disclaimer: Both A2A and Doctor Who belong to the BBC in their entirety and the author makes no statement of ownership. No profit is being made from this work.

~X~



Needs More Ginger...

The emptiness of the Alley mocked him. The bright lights of Nelson's sanctuary set up a constant thrumming tug in his blood and straining to hear himself think over the temptation he couldn't help but ponder that what this godforsaken damp street needed right now was a Ginger.

And suddenly there she was, sleep ruffled and yawning, tugging her coat around her against the chill wind.

Her look of surprise didn't last long, burnt away as a more familiar irritation ignited in her eyes.

"Hunt."

The single word encapsulated everything about their relationship but (as usual) she didn't stop there.

"It would be you. I was having a lovely dream about Johnny Depp and a beach in Hawaii, but no. You had to drag me out here. It's the middle of the night and bloody freezing, Mr DCI. You had better have a bloody good reason for this."

Her tirade faded away as she took in his forlorn stance and read the lines newly etched into his face. She took a step toward him, closing the distance between them that originally she had been so keen to keep wide.

"Gene? What happened?"

And then she was there, inside his defences, those strong arms wrapping around him without need of further comment or explanation.

Gene Hunt Didn't Hug. It was well documented. But for Donna Noble, he made an exception. Standing there, solidly wrapped in her arms he allowed the weight of memory to slip away from him, just for a moment. The chatter and music from Nelson's faded into the background. Even the mournful wail of a siren nearby in the high street couldn't disturb their protected little circle of quiet. She gave good hugs.

His mind wandered back to their first encounter, long ago and yet somehow only yesterday at the same time. She understood that, the twisted nature of time. Called it "Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey" with a sarcastic grimace as though the words tasted bad on her tongue. She understood him, understood how he was now, but also then, how he carried his past around in his pocket but would never be able to pluck up the courage to examine the memories he'd put away. Gene had never worked out how she could see, but remain unaffected by, the jagged nature of him. But once, after a good too many drinks, she'd admitted that she had seen men out of their time before. But that unlike certain other idiots, she was able to adapt her thoughts to accept the irritating presence of them.

She'd over-ridden his rules many times since that long ago day she'd walked out of nowhere onto his crime scene and demanded something to clean her shoes with. Ray had lent her his handkerchief (Gene's heart ached for a second, but in the all encircling safety of her arms the memory of Ray didn't hurt as much as it had only minutes before). Donna Noble: law unto herself; flame haired; obstructive; argumentative and bloody annoying at times. She came when she wanted, or when they had needed her, always yawning, always (in those first few months) incredibly cranky.

Eventually she'd told him some of it over a long bottle of scotch. How she'd forgotten everything she ever did that was worthwhile, how she'd been made to forget. And how she could only escape to her real self in her dreams. Shocked, he'd tried to express his disgust over the actions of this other man, but even in the midst of her own anger she'd turned his words aside with the ease of long established familiarity. Donna Noble didn't need his pity, she came to him for distraction, for a chance to be the woman she'd been for such a brief period of time. And Gene Hunt, DCI, Manchester CID, had been more than willing to provide her with the opportunity. Besides, sad pasts not withstanding, she did have awesome tits.

The physical presence of those previously admired appendages brought him back to the present. This hugging business had gone on long enough. Longer in fact. As he had done on the first uncomfortable occasion Gene coughed to clear his throat and muttered "Pub?".

As before she looked at him measuring, (he couldn't help but wonder if even back then she'd been able to see the young copper in him) and nodded.

"Yeah, I could do with a drink. Something warm and alcoholic. Very alcoholic."

Donna glanced back over her shoulder at the lights spilling out from The Railway Arms behind her and then at him enquiringly.

"No."

He surprised even himself with the sharp tone in his voice. Not that pub. Not yet. Please God not yet. He would never stop her from going, had never stopped any of them from going, but tonight he needed her. Needed a mate to match him drink for drink until the morning came and he could go on with his "life". Please God, just one night more.

"Come on then."

She linked her arm with his, unquestioning (which was damn rare for her), and gave him the warm reality of her human curves pressed up against his side as they turned away from the tempting warmth promised on the other side of that innocuous door.

"You'd better know somewhere close."

Her voice faded into the darkness and from his stance at the window Nelson watched them go, the worried lines on his face easing as he saw Gene leaning into his companion, his head bent to catch her words. Her grumbling tone came back to him on the breeze

"Bloody freezing up here. Bloody Northerners, too bloody tight to turn the thermostat up."

The gatekeeper smiled and let them go, drawing the curtains to shut out the chill of the night, before returning to his position behind the bar and his responsibilities to his new customers.

~X~


"I suddenly remembered."

"Remembered what?"

They were well into the fifth round now and it took a couple of efforts before Donna managed to focus her eyes on him across the table.

"Everything."

He knocked back the last of his drink and looked around in an attempt to locate the bar.

"Oh yeah, I remember that." She swirled the dregs of whiskey at the bottom of her glass. "Sticky unpeeling of layers? Or the crashing of opening doors on a thunderous cascade that tells you the damn has bust and it's all coming to sweep you away?"

"Both."

Her hand covered his, the steadying pressure of it allowing the words to continue to pour out of him.

"I'm dead." He waved an unsteady hand at the door. "Somewhere out there I'm dead with half my face blown off. Shot by armed bastards and buried in a shallow grave."

"How are you sure?"

"I remember."

The two empty glasses on the table caught the low lamplight and split it into a million pieces, reflecting and refracting as they bounced the different segments between them.

"He was so young..." Gene turned his hand under hers and held on. "...I was so young."

He kept going and she let him, seemingly for once content just to listen. He told her about the coronation, about the excitement. About being young back then and all the memories a young man would have made at that time. He told her about the beginning, about how it had just happened, things growing out of his rage at the unfairness of it all. Of getting his first car, his first boots, his first gun. Of the power, of his kingdom. And then his voice twisted again as he began to speak of his friends. Of those that weren't just the duty, weren't just there to populate his world. Of Ray and Chris, Shaz and Annie. Of Sam. Of Alex.

She held his hand.

Their drinks had been refreshed and the honeyed liquid was warm in the glass when he asked:

"Do you love him? Your husband?"

Donna looked at him for a moment, working out to which "him" he was referring.

"No."

She seemed to be wondering how to phrase it best, searching for words through her drink cluttered brain.

"She loves him. The other Donna. He loves her without question and that was all she ever wanted. But I was more than that. I became more than that. I couldn't settle for him now.

She swirled her glass again, watching the dancing specks of light in the depths.

"Did you love her?"

He didn't answer, his eyes following the same whirling sparkles as her own. She put the glass down, allowing the liquid to settle and as the light show faded away he eventually lifted his eyes to hers and shrugged. They were beyond lying to each other.

"Did you tell her? Because the man I travelled with, he never told her, never said it until it was too late. And it messed him up. Made him angry, made him cruel." She paused, remembering. "Made him hasty."

"What did you do?"

Gene took a sip from his glass, savouring the flavour as though it were finest 21 year old malt and not the cheap house spirit that they had ordered. Mind you, considering this was his world, there was a good chance it was.

"I made him laugh." They shared a smile. "I slapped him, I bullied him, I reminded him of what it MEANS when you say the word "human".

"You didn't do enough"

His eyebrow emphasized their positions

"No, I didn't" She shrugged. "I never managed to teach him about how we learn, or what "experience" really means to us."

The barman called last orders and looking around they found they were the only ones left.

"We should go."

"Where?"

She pulled on her coat, waiting for him without answering his question. He rose and followed her outside where she drew in a quick shivering breath at the chill air. Her exhalation formed little clouds around her and he felt the urge to wrap a protective arm around her. The street was empty and she took a few steps away to stop in the middle, looking first up the road and then down as though trying to work out where they were on his mental map this time. He pushed himself away from the friendly supporting wall of the pub and crossed to come up alongside her. Personally he was a little confused himself about where they were, his mind had been only on finding a small, warm, impersonal pub when he'd led her here and now he wasn't quite sure exactly where they'd ended up.

"Take me home, Gene."

She turned to face him, taking his hands in hers and looking up at him with all the trust in the world. At her words the street firmed under his feet and once again he knew exactly where he was in the town, his route home plotted in his mind so clearly that he could almost have walked it blindfold. He blinked, lost in a wave of admiration for the woman standing before him. How had she known how to do that?

"Donna..."

He slipped his arms around her, steadying them both as they wavered. He couldn't find the words in the drink befuddled mists of his mind but he tried anyway. The stumbling confusion of nothing that he managed to produce was nothing short of bloody awful.

"Donna, I... didn't... you... can't... brilliant... so bloody drunk."

She looked up at him steadily, her eyes calm but knowing, telling him that whatever he needed from her tonight, she was willing to give.

"I'm sorry you're dead."

The truth of it hit him like a bolt of icy fire down the back of his neck. She wasn't just sad like Alex had been, she knew, really knew what he had lost, how much future he had had stretching ahead of him. She had seen the whole of him, seen the Gene Hunt who got that future, seen him live so many different possible lives, a new one branching out from each decision that lucky bastard who lived had got to make. She had seen everything and from that high, high standpoint, she grieved for him.

He tightened his hold on her, sensing that in that moment he held in his arms not only the woman, but the whole breadth of everything that she had seen and been, the entirety of time and space, stretching out for forever. It was a bloody weird feeling, kind of empty, but enormous at the same time. As he held her gaze he saw the glowing speck of gold was dancing in the corner of her iris and he could only find a whisper to give his own reply.

"I'm sorry you can't remember."

Then, unable to bear the loss reflected in her eyes any more he bent his head and kissed her. She tasted of whisky that matched the tang on his own tongue and something else intangible that called to him of fire and ashes. Her arms slipped up around his neck and answering the unspoken invitation he allowed the heat of his own regret to meld with hers, kissing her again and again, until both were burnt away into nothingness with only the cinders left behind to drift and tumble away into the darkness.

When they eventually separated, even without looking up, Gene knew that the dull sky overhead had peeled back to reveal a million tiny pinpricks of light. He refused to look, but they dragged Donna's attention away from him, froze the words she was about to say on her tongue. He watched as her eyes widened, gazing up over his shoulder, the glow in her irises rising once more. Her eyes flickered from constellation to constellation, the spark of gold flaring and fading as the ancient memories she'd often described to him once flickered into life.

"Donna."

She didn't answer him at first and, concerned, he called her name again, shaking her by the elbows as he did so. That got through to her and the worrying lines of pain that were stretching out from the corners of her eyes eased a little as she hauled her gaze back down to him. She shook herself free from his hold and Gene searched for something to say to banish the sadness he saw as she pushed him away.

"Only a bloody woman would stand in the street and stare at stars while I freeze my bloody bollocks off."

Donna blinked, the empty glow in her eyes fading back into a more prosaic blue. Shivering as she became aware of the cold again, she wrapped her coat more tightly around herself and frowned at him.

"Only a bloody man would stand around snogging a woman in the freezing cold street when he had a perfectly good house to go home to."

He kissed her again to shut her up, tasting the last of the chill emptiness of space on her tongue as it dissolved away. But before he could get too far in his explorations Donna pulled away from him, smacking him reprovingly on the shoulder.

"Either take me home and take me to bed, Gene Hunt, or I go back to my own world where a warm Hawaiian island and a very willing Johnny Depp is waiting for me. Your choice."

It was an easy decision to make.

~X~


She stayed. She stayed at his side and helped him rebuild Fenchurch. She interviewed his new team and argued at him until they got proper coffee making facilities in the kitchen. She even redecorated his bathroom.

She irritated him and pestered him and poked him and yes, hugged him, until the new police station was up and running and he had fought through the worst part of his grief. She only left when not only was she sure he could manage but after her "husband" had started watching her sleep and counting the number of times she said his name.

She promised him she would come back. But she told him he would have to be patient as to when.

At first he looked for her at every crime scene, around every corner, in every new situation he faced. For months the noise of the door to the outer office opening would lift his head as his eyes searched for her in the face of every new arrival.

It's been a couple of years now, but he's still waiting.

She promised him she would come back. And Donna Noble keeps her promises. One day she'll walk into his office with that ginger attitude and those awesome tits and turn his life upside down once again.

He just has to be patient.

~X~


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