As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. July Challenges are now available, and what a twist for one of them. If you'd rather do June's, instead, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have participated thus far - we had an exceptional turn out for June II for example. The new challenges will run through the end of July. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.
FINALE SPOILER WARNING! Close this quickly!
FebruarySong asked for the following in her July II challenge. Somehow, little Tony insinuated himself and we ended up with this story.
1. Pairing is Rose/clone!Ten, in the alternate universe, post Journey's End.
2. They somehow meet alt!Donna.
3. The Doctor has a runin with something very unfamiliar to him, preferably something to do with his being in a humanish body. I don't care what it is, he just has to be caught off guard.
4. Must have a happy ending. (I am a sucker for happy endings.)
5. Must incorporate the word "kerfuffle" into dialogue.
6. Must include an explanation of how the Doctor's hair does that. (You know... THAT!)
Watching the Menace
"I really don't care what we do, Rose, but we are going to have to hire a sitter. Your brother is the second most menacing life form I have ever met."
"Oh, no you don't," Jackie shouted from the next room. "You two are going to sit here and you are going to watch Tony for the night!"
"I dunno, Jacks," called Pete from yet another room. "Do you really think three things that can't sit still can possibly watch each other for the entire length of an opera?"
Jackie stuck her head into the study where the Doctor was sulking and Rose was trying to ignore all of them. Undeterred by her proximity to the new couple, she continued her overly loud conversation with her husband. "At least if they're watching Tony, I know they can't get up to anything else!" She glared ferociously at the Doctor, who cowered sufficiently for as long as it took to make her walk off.
As soon as Jackie left, the Doctor stuck his tongue out at her retreating back. Rose snickered. "He's a bad influence on you," she murmured, gesturing at the little cot, only a few feet away, where said second most menacing life-form in all time and space was imitating the Doctor and also gleefully crossing his eyes.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Jackie, we wouldn't dream of getting up to anything else!" the Doctor called. Then, under his breath, he added, "'Cuz you'll never give us a moment of peace." Back in what he was coming to realize was standard conversation tone for this house, he continued, "We have a very happy, very platonic relationship, Rose and I." Again, sotto voce, "Because I've only waited 904 years for her, what's another five dozen? Oh, yeah, the rest of my life."
Rose chuckled lightly and patted his hand. He reached over and brushed that hand - his original hand - up the side of her face. She leaned into his touch, then tilted her face up toward him. He lowered his head and managed to get the lightest brush across her lips.
Tony shrieked like he was being attacked by Slitheen and chucked his toy - a heavy little plastic truck - at the Doctor's head. His aim was excellent for a major league baseball pitcher, never mind a two year old. The Doctor winced and jumped away from Rose, swearing quietly in jangling Gallifreyan. He rounded on Tony and glared at the child. "We are going to have to have a very long talk, you and I," he said very seriously.
Tony ran a hand through his ginger hair, so that it stuck straight up, and gabbled nonsense back at the Doctor.
"No," said the Doctor, in a conversational tone, "I really don't think it's a good idea. You are entirely too young to take over the world."
Tony explained something else.
"You can fool your parents and even your sister into thinking you're a sweet, innocent, harmless little thing, but I'm the Doctor, and I can see through your shabby tricks."
"Doc!" announced Tony, and held up his arms.
The Doctor sighed and went over to lift him from his cot. Tony laughed with delight and flung his arms around the half-Time Lord's neck, squealing ecstatically and kissing his cheek.
"Knew we shoulda named him Jack," Rose muttered.
The Doctor grinned at her. "Better not let your mum hear that, or you'll be the one explaining."
"Explaining what?" asked Jackie, as she bustled into the room. She was wearing a spangled black evening dress and had her hair piled elaborately on her head. She snatched Tony away from the Doctor, her glare threatening him with all sorts of mayhem for corrupting her only son.
"Nothing, Mum," said Rose. "Just, the Doctor and I wanted to go see the new Star Wars movie. The Doctor says these ones didn't get made on parallel Earth, so even he's never seen them."
"Think you'd've got enough star wars for one life time, the pair of you," muttered Jackie, then started talking to Tony. "He's my precious baby boy!" she cooed. "You be good for your sissy now, ickle wuv."
The Doctor made faces. So did Tony. Rose bit her lip. Jackie kissed the little baby face all over, leaving quite a lot of red lippy on her child's small forehead. The Doctor shook his head and reached for the boy. Jackie smacked his hands away and handed her son over to Rose. "You be good, now!" Jackie chirped, and sashayed out the door, clutching her small matching hand bag.
Pete looked in briefly, then stepped inside, wiped the lipstick away with a handkerchief, and ruffled Tony's hair. Tony beamed at his father. "Just take him with you," Pete suggested and, straightening his tux, turned to go out after his wife.
"Domestic!" the Doctor snorted.
"Etic!" Tony agreed.
"I don't get it," Rose said, "and I'm almost terrified to ask." She had Tony in his push chair and they were wandering through the shopping arcade, still trying to decide if they dared go watch this movie with the second most menacing creature in the Universe in tow. "He's like you, in miniature."
"No, he's not," the Doctor protested. "For one thing, he's ginger." The Doctor stuffed his hand through his hair, just to emphasize its not-gingerness.
Tony yelled, "Lonny!" and jerked in his chair, obviously trying to get Rose to push faster.
"He's rude, though," Rose said. "And his hair sticks straight up, exactly like yours."
"My hair sticks straight up because it is being charged by my impressive brain," the Doctor informed her, a bold face lie, but it amused him when she grinned. "His hair is obviously trying to escape."
Rose laughed at this and the sound cheered the Doctor considerably. He leaned over to kiss her, and this time they actually managed to have their lips together for five seconds before Tony noticed he was A) being ignored and B) not moving. He yelled blue murder.
Rose pulled away. "Are you absolutely certain..." she began, her eyes sparkling with a teasing suggestion.
The Doctor realized where that train of thought was heading and, much to his surprise, he felt his face drain of all trace of blood. His knees went weak, his stomach clenched and he was hit by a wave of nausea the like of which he hadn't felt since he'd managed to catch the flu in his Eighth body. He saw a bench nearby and hurried over to it, sitting down hard and breathing deeply. He let his head drop between his knees.
Rose came up beside him and rubbed his back. "What is it?" she said. "Is something wrong?"
"Wrong?" he muttered, hoarsely. Oh, yes, very wrong, but he'd never expected to have this violent a reaction just to something that was thoroughly revolting and disgusting. He'd been exploded on by an Absorbaloff, after all. He'd seen a Hoix eat. He'd watched Jack Harkness try to shag a brick wall in a drug-induced hallucination. He'd been to a 17th century French Court fete (and they didn't half stink). It had to be this human-ish body he had now, had to be, because honestly, it wasn't the worst was is? It was. Nothing, absolutely nothing had ever been quite so god-awful as the implication that a baby born to Jackie Tyler was any direct relation to him.
"Is he all right?" asked a familiar voice. "I'm a doctor, I can help."
"He's just had a bit of a shock," said Rose. "Wait. Donna?"
"Yes," replied the voice. "I'm sorry, have we met? I see a lot of people, you know."
The Doctor looked up in open mouthed astonishment. The shocks seemed to be coming thick and fast. She'd put on a bit of weight from the one in the other Universe, and had her ginger hair cut in a flattering, shoulder length style, but she was absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, Donna Noble.
Donna gestured at Tony. "He's not one of mine, is he?"
"No, don't think so," Rose said cheerfully. "Just, think we've met somewhere."
"Donna Noble!" the Doctor exclaimed, jumping to his feet and snatching her hand. "Oh, brilliant! One hundred words a minute!"
Donna stared at him and shook him off. "Sorry, sunshine," she said, "you lost me."
"She's a doctor, Doctor," Rose said, grinning up at him.
The Doctor rocked back on his heels, delighted. "The DoctorDonna!" he exclaimed. "Fantastic, just fantastic! Molto bene!"
This Donna was apparently as blunt as the other one and seemed to have decided he was fine if he was bouncing around like that. So there was nothing to restrain her from a sparkle-eyed aside to Rose. "Yeah, I see what the problem is now. Didn't take his meds? Sweetheart, you have to watch him, make sure he does."
Rose giggled. The Doctor pouted. "I'm perfectly normal," he insisted. "I only do what the voices in Rose's head tell me to do."
Rose, looking annoyed, jumped in to change the subject. "Why'd you ask if Tony was one of yours?" she wondered.
"I'm an obstetrician," Donna replied, and shrugged. "I enjoy running into the little ones I helped bring into the world."
Rose nudged the Doctor with her shoulder, dark eyes shining at him. He rolled his eyes in response, watching her chew on that lip. He decided then and there that it was time to leave. "It was nice to run into you, Donna," he said. "I'm the Doctor, by the way, so we may see each other again. And this is Rose. The small heathen is Tony."
Dr. Donna Noble smiled. "It was good to meet you all," she said. "Hope you feel better." She looked over at Tony who had thrown a considerable pile of small objects on the ground around the push chair. "Looks like your son's just like you," she said playfully as she walked away.
The Doctor glowered after her, shoving the grotesque feeling away with considerable effort. "Well, isn't that wizard!" he exclaimed sarcastically.
"Are you all right?" Rose asked gently.
"Not used to it, that's all," he answered with a shrug. "The implication..." He shivered. "Yuck."
"Yuck!" agreed Tony.
Rose started picking up the toys. "Where did he find them all?" she demanded.
The Doctor shrugged and stared hard at the child. "Tony, you really can't have every toy in Christendom. It isn't the done thing." He turned the push chair and chucked the last of the toys back in with the baby. "Let's get him home and put him to bed."
"Nonononono!" Tony complained.
"Yes," the Doctor countered. "I'll tell you a story."
Rose fell into step beside them. "You know, it's funny, some of the differences in people in this world. Wonder if Martha's here, what she's doing?"
"You can look her up tomorrow," he offered. "I'm just glad to know the DoctorDonna won't be doctoring on me."
Rose laughed. "I could get her on at Torchwood," she answered.
"To do what?" he asked, stopping again to stare at her in astonishment. "D'you know anyone likely to have alien babies?"
Tony threw a shrieking tantrum, hurling the toys out of the chair again and wailing as if his little heart was broken. Rose picked him up out of the chair, bounced him on her hip, and let the Doctor re-load the toys. "Not me," she said firmly. "This one's alien enough."
The Doctor shivered again and she looked at him sympathetically. "Sorry," she said gently. "He really wasn't like this... well, spoilt, yeah. He's just... I dunno... imprinted on you. Like a duck or something."
The Doctor laughed and ruffled Tony's hair.
"Once upon a time," began the Doctor, "there was a pretty little princess. She was pink and yellow and had eyes the color of solace."
Rose leaned back on the daybed in Tony's nursery, unable to resist listening. She had always loved to hear him talk. It wasn't like Tony would understand everything, but the Doctor always talked to Tony as if he was perfectly capable of comprehending anything the half-Time Lord might come out with.
Rose supposed being a miniature Doctor was just a phase Tony was going through, and he'd probably try to be a miniature Pete next or something. Every once in awhile, she wondered if the Doctor would be depressed when the phase ended. He seemed to love Rose's brother with an exceptional depth of affection. She wondered if that was something peculiar to this half-human Doctor, or if any Doctor would be as taken with the baby as he was.
Right now, he was sitting in the rocker with Tony in his lap. He was watching the baby with dark, wistful eyes while he told the story about the princess's boyfriend, the village idiot - he'd never pass up that chance, would he? - and her mum, the Queen of the Harpies.
"You're gonna get into trouble," she sang at him when she heard that bit.
He looked up at her and grinned. "Just telling a story," he claimed, innocently.
"Well, get on with it, then," she suggested.
"The pretty princess had to work in the village because the court jester had stolen all her money and run away. She was very tired, the princess, of living in her ivory tower and working in the tailor's shop. Then, one night, she had to go down to the basement... what were you there for, anyway?"
"Lottery money," she said.
He nodded. "And all at once, she was surrounded by evil, moving statues. She was a bit silly, the princess, because she was still convinced that statues couldn't move, even though they obviously were..."
"Oi..." Rose protested softly, out of regard for Tony, who was now yawning hugely. He laid his head back on the Doctor's chest and Rose smiled.
"...She thought the statues had to be a joke. It didn't occur to her that someone had enchanted them."
"Yeah, well, she didn't know there was a such thing as magic at the time," Rose said.
"Exactly," the Doctor agreed. "It was looking pretty bad for the princess when suddenly, a handsome prince..."
"With really large ears," she put in.
"A handsome prince," the Doctor repeated firmly, "grabbed her hand. And he said one word and, with that word, he rescued the princess." The Doctor stood and carried the now sleeping baby to his crib and settled him in gently.
Rose smiled and patted the bed beside her. The Doctor came over and sat down, curling up against her like a large cat. "I always thought he was more of a knight in leather armor," she mused.
"All right," the Doctor agreed. "Next time, I'll make him a knight."
"Good enough," she answered dreamily. "And they ran and ran and went to the knight's blue charger, and the princess rescued the knight... huh, that's gonna sound funny."
He chuckled quietly. "You never did get your proper tribute for that, either," he said.
"What's proper tribute for rescuing a knight in leather armor?" she asked.
"Well, most heros get a kiss, don't they?"
"Good point," she said, and leaned in to kiss him.
They might have actually got a decent snog in this time, really, but Rose had only just opened her mouth beneath his when the nursery door swung gently to reveal Jackie Tyler, looking flushed and exuberant. Her eyes automatically went to the sleeping baby, giving the couple a moment - not nearly long enough - to disentangle themselves. "What do you think you're doing?" Jackie demanded in a harsh whisper.
"Was thinking of having a nap," said Rose, drowsily.
"You don't look like you were napping!" she snapped, though somehow keeping her voice down. "You look like you were... in front of the baby! How dare you?"
"Great," muttered the Doctor, getting to his feet and helping Rose up, "just what I need. Another kerfuffle with Jackie Tyler. Oooh, kerfuffle. Love that! Kerfuffle, kerfuffle."
"Yeah," Rose agreed as Jackie fussed over Tony's sleeping form, muttering that he'd probably been scarred for life. "Good word." She looked and realized there was a clear path between them and the door. "Doctor," she said, in a small, childish voice, "what was the word the knight said that rescued the princess?"
The Doctor looked at her, followed her gaze, looked at Jackie, who was still scolding them even with her back to them. His grin turned brilliant and conniving at once, as he caught her hand and held it just so. "Run," he said.