Falling In Love In A Coffee Shop

Chapter 4

There is a difference between living and just existing. John Noble didn't know that difference, even though he wasn't aware of that fact. By all accounts, his life appeared ideal, and in most respects, that was accurate. True, the beginning of his life was marred by the untimely death of his parents. However, due to his age—he was three and Donna was a few months shy of two—the true depth of that tragedy was not felt. Barring that, he had a wonderful childhood. He and Donna were brought up under the loving care of their father's eldest brother, Wilf, and his wife, Harriet. They were a rather affluent family and were rarely wanting for anything—Wilf was one of the main partners in one of London's most prominent law firms and Harriet was a local activist and chair of several major charities. Even though they enjoyed a level of social status, Wilf and Harriet were diligent in making sure that John and Donna didn't become pretentious, as most in those circles tended to do.

Donna grew up to be very much like Harriet—strong minded, loyal, and full of fire ("That red hair don't lie," as Wilf would often say). Despite never really knowing his father, John strongly favored him both in looks and character. He was tall and slender with kind brown eyes and a mess of brown hair—really great hair, if he did say so himself. His father was fiercely protective of those close to him and was known for doing the right thing—no matter how hard it was at times. However, despite all his virtues, he never seemed able to give himself even a fraction of the amount of value and consideration he gave those around him. However, he was blessed to have a patient and understanding wife who anchored him and loved him without regret or hesitation—who reminded him of his worth every time he failed to acknowledge it. John immolated his father in loyalty and steadfastness of character. However, he lacked that anchor, that person who was a fundamental part of one's being. As a result, he went through the world aimlessly, unknowingly seeking a purpose, some sort of completion.

John was never one to be sedentary. When he was younger, Harriet spent countless hours running after him, swearing he was better than any personal trainer. Exceptionally brilliant, he had fully intended to pursue a degree in physics upon entering university. This came as no surprise to anyone considering all the times when growing up, various household items would explode "mysteriously" and John would conveniently be missing until the confusion and fury had blown over. What came as a surprise to everyone, himself included, was that he abandoned that plan and left school and began writing. It happened quite by accident actually. He had decided to take a class on English Literature. The first assignment was a free-write. No rules, no boundaries. His mind flourished and the words flowed. His professor praised him for his exceptional talent. With that taste in his mouth, John left school and immersed himself in writing. After the initial shock of his decision, his family, seeing his evident joy, fully supported him in his newfound passion.

He started out small by writing freelance pieces and editorials for various newspapers–receiving wonderful commendation from almost all of them (he still insisted that one worthless wanker just had it out for him). It wasn't till after Jack Harkness—an editor at Torchwood Titles and Donna's fiancée—read his work and relentlessly hounded him that John worked up the nerve to write his first novel–Gallifrey Burning. It was a sci-fi novel that combined his love of all things outer space with his love of physics. To his surprise (though he'd never admit it, of course), it reached to No. 9 on the Best-Sellers list. His second, The Year That Never Was, rose to No. 6. His family was ecstatically proud of him, with Jack jokingly taking credit for his "discovery." Despite the constant eye rolling and bickering, John and Jack were very close and respected each other. Jack was one his most loyal and avid supporters, and it was because of that fact that Jack was going to bat again and again for him to the senior editor, Adam Hartman.

The first half of John's third book was due in a week and he was already on his second extension. Donna knew John was nowhere near close to the vicinity of being done and "persuaded" Jack to help him again. It took every brilliant smile and ounce of smooth talking to get Adam to agree to extend it to a month. Jack finally gave it to him straight, "This is it John. After this, there's honestly nothing more I can do. I've already stuck my neck out as far as it can go. If the first half isn't complete in a month, they're gonna drop you. I'm sorry."

John couldn't figure out what was going on. The first novel had flowed without any issues. The second had some ups and downs, but overall, it had come rather easily, too. Third time was definitely NOT the charm for him. To be honest, his pitch had been from the hip and now, he was question everything about his storyline. Ideas were discarded left and right. He barely slept and was stressed exponentially. There was no sign of things getting better. That was until Donna had practically drug him to The Cuppa. For the first time in a long time, John felt...relaxed and had enjoyed himself immensely. He had met the precocious Tony, which had been the highlight of his day. Pure happiness and life radiated from that little boy. John felt a rush of happiness from the amazement in Tony's eyes as he explained Operation Ketchup to him. That night, he had actually slept for more than his customary two hours and woke up feeling the best he had in weeks.

That was one of the reasons why, a few days later, he made his way back to the coffee shop (without Donna of course-she couldn't know she had been right). An elderly couple passed by him as he was walked in, making him the only one left in the shop. He was greeted by a young woman named Calleigh, who he remembered passing on the way in on that first day. She looked loads better than she had and appeared in a much better mood than last time. After a good ten minute discussion on the origin of each drink and their merit, John decided on a Funky Monkey Frappe and ordered a Milano Panini. As he was sitting down at one of the round tables, he noticed a flash of yellow pass by the kitchen opening, but gave it now further thought. He absentmindedly sipped his drink and looked out the window listening to Miles Davis playing softly in the background. At the sound of a plate being put on the table, John turned around and thanked Calleigh. As he was taking his first bite, a young blonde woman—the beauty he remembered seeing in the photo—walked his way, stopping right in front of his table. Crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow, she looked at him with fire in her eyes and said one word, just one word.

"Ketchup?"

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