Straight Up With a Twist (4/4)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Talk to the Hand
Characters: Ten-II, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble
Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?
Spoilers: Journey's End, obviously.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, obviously.
Summary: Follows Crossed Wires. The Doctor settles into his new job and gets a BFF. Rose gets abducted by aliens.
A/N: Final chapter. This chapter was a total bitch to write. I've had it mostly complete for awhile now, but some scenes just weren't clicking. And when I went over what I had written, it just felt wrong. Like it didn't fit in with the rest of the story. I'd somehow managed to make it far too serious, and took it way too far from my original idea, and it just wasn't working. I suspect that's why I've had so much trouble writing it. So I scrapped most of it, keeping a few important scenes, and basically re-wrote the entire thing. I'm slightly more satisfied with it, though it's still not that great. And then my computer crashed. It took THREE WEEKS for repairs, so I had three weeks with virtually no internet. I had this backed up elsewhere, but I couldn't finish it or upload it. Watch out for something called Antivirus7, folks – it's fast and catastrophic.
Part 4 – Donna Noble vs. the Frumpers
The limo interior feels very small and stuffy, even though it's just him and Donna in back. Jackie has elected to sit in the front with the driver, no doubt sharing every detail of the disastrous dinner with the chatty chauffer. Donna is reclining on the seat across from him, examining a beer bottle she'd pulled from the limo's mini-fridge. She seems determined to enjoy every luxury the limo has to offer. He wonders how long it will take before she opens the sun roof and sticks her head and shoulders out. It had only taken him three minutes to give in to the urge during his first limo ride.
"For what it's worth, I think you're telling the truth."
"Oh?" the Doctor says distractedly, wondering how everything could have gone so wrong. He used to be able to save the universe with little more than his wits; now he can't even get through a simple dinner without screwing things up.
Worse, he still hadn't told them he didn't want to do the column! One simple little phrase, 'I don't want to do it.' Six words. He'd brought down a government with six words. This should be easier, surely?
"That you're dating Rose Tyler," Donna says. "Mrs. Tyler knows you entirely too well; with all those sly little digs, she reminded me of a mum putting up with a daughter's boyfriend she doesn't entirely approve of. Believe me, I'm an expert on the subject."
"Mmm." It wouldn't have even taken six words; he could have just said, 'I can't do it.' That was four. Or, better yet, a simple 'no.' Then he wouldn't be in this mess. But no… he has to have a gob that likes to use twenty words where one will suffice, none of which actually answer the questions posed.
"John? Are you even listening?" Donna's voice is exasperated. "I'm trying to offer you support, here," she grumbles.
Her use of his assumed name snaps him out of his brooding. "Why are you calling me 'John' now?" Before, when she'd bothered to speak to him at all, she'd called him 'Mr. Smith,' 'skinny,' or 'hey, you.'
Donna shrugs. "I figure once you've seen a man's satiny red girly knickers, formality flies out the window."
Good point. "Doctor," he mutters.
"My friends call me the Doctor," he says. "I'd like it if you did as well."
"You really are a nutter, aren't you?" Donna rolls her eyes. "Most people are less formal with friends. Does Rose call you Doctor?" she demands.
"Actually, yes. It is my name, after all."
"Your parents named you 'Doctor?'" She studies him for a moment. "You're serious! Were your parents mental or something?"
The Doctor quirks an eyebrow at the woman from whom he's inherited his human genes – albeit another version of her in another universe. "You have no idea."
Before Donna can further question him, the chauffer slams on the brakes, and Donna tumbles forward with a yelp, followed by a rather impressive string of invective. The beer splatters all over her dress, and she mutters about what she's going to do to the driver's manhood if her dress is ruined. The Doctor blanches; he's become rather sensitive and sympathetic to the whole 'manhood' issue ever since he'd become part human. And Donna is very descriptive.
The Doctor slides open the partition and sticks his head through to speak to the driver.
"What's going on?" he demands.
"No idea," the driver says, his voice slightly worried. "There's some sort of blockade, and it looks like a war zone outside."
The Doctor flung open the door and jumped out, Donna at his heels before he can warn her to stay inside. The driver was right; furry bodies littered the street, crossbow bolts sticking out of their sides. Everywhere he looked, he could see the damage caused by their vicious teeth: deep pits chewed into the tarmac, gaps in brick walls, rents torn into the parked cars, houses with missing chunks of siding… Something squishes underfoot, and he looks down at the body of the Frumper he'd just stepped on. "Ew," he mutters, scraping the sole of his red Converse against the tarmac to clean it. Then he crouches down to examine the mangled body, brow scrunching in thought.
Floating bunnies with chainsaw teeth… Rose had clearly downplayed the threat they'd presented, he realizes. Or he hadn't really been listening. Either way, he was missing out on what looked like a very serious problem.
"It's Torchwood," Jackie moans behind him. "Pete told me they had something big going down tonight, but he didn't tell me where." The Doctor turns and sees she's gotten out of the limo as well, and is surveying the scene with horror.
"And he asked you to keep me busy?" the Doctor snaps.
Jackie can't meet his eyes; she drops her gaze to the pitted tarmac and says quietly, "Pete and Rose both. They asked me to give you something else to think about, and it sounded like a good way to get back at you for those twelve months…"
"Oi! One little miscalculation…" he moans as he straightens, brushing grit from his knees.
"What's going - " Donna begins. The Doctor ignores her and shoves her back into the limo, blocking the door so she can't jump out again as he shuts it behind her. Donna doesn't immediately protest, likely assuming they're going to charge the (flimsy unguarded) blockade, Hollywood-style, and drive to the rescue.
The thought has occurred to him, but he immediately dismisses it. The limo may be like a tank, with its reinforced siding to prevent possible abduction/assassination of an important CEO and family, but it would be defenseless against the Frumpers. Very short-sighted of the limo manufacturer, really; shouldn't they be prepared for anything? He'll have to send a strongly worded letter to the manufacturer.
Not that he's any sturdier, really. Rose is always admonishing him to remember he's far more vulnerable than he used to be, and he's of little use to her when armed only with his devastating charm (wasted on non-sentients like the Frumpers), his unmatched brilliance (woefully underappreciated, he feels, and totally useless if he gets eaten before he can help), and his half-finished sonic screwdriver, which he'd brought along in case he needed to escape from Jackie via the restaurant's back door.
"I'll take care of this," the Doctor sighs. "Won't be the first time I've had to clean up after Torchwood. Take Donna to a hotel and go home, Jackie. I'll make sure Pete and Rose survive long enough for you to ream them out later."
Relieved, Jackie gets back into the limo, and it showers him with gravel as it performs a hairpin turn and drives off. Scowling, the Doctor brushes off his silver-on-white suit, wishing for the brown pinstripes that didn't show dirt quite as much.
"This isn't the time for vanity, skinny," a strident voice says from behind him.
The Doctor whirls to find a slightly rumpled Donna beside him. "You were in the limo! I locked the door!" He was pretty sure he'd even engaged the child proof lock.
She glares at him. "I climbed out the sun roof," she snaps.
"The limo was moving!" he says, staring at her with awe. Even he hasn't jumped out of a moving limo yet… Though if it messed up hair that badly, maybe he'll give it a pass.
"This is my home, and I'm not leaving my family to whatever did this!" She folds her arms across her chest, her expression daring him to just try and send her away.
The Doctor sighs, not ready for a clash between an unstoppable force and an immovable object. "All right," he says. "But it could be very dangerous. Stay with me and do exactly as I say."
"Why?" Donna challenges.
"Huh?" The Doctor blinks. He's used to automatically assuming authority. Clearly, no one has told Donna this. "Because I'm the expert here!"
"You're a gossip columnist! This isn't some wild star-studded shindig, it's… it's…"
The Doctor considers this. "Actually, this is much tamer," he says, thinking of a post-Oscar party he'd attended that had been a little on the wild side. "No drugs, alcohol, groupies, or paparazzi here. Just…" he drops his voice to a hushed whisper, as if volume can make his next word sound more sane, "aliens."
"Aliens?" she asks in a choked voice. Donna looks like she's debating between running away or tackling him to the ground and pinning him down until the authorities come. The Doctor's a little worried by this; Donna's already proven she's more than capable of incapacitating him.
But then her eyes suddenly widen and she points at something behind him. Aware that this could be some diversionary tactic that would let Donna flee, or worse, the Doctor turns anyway.
"What's that?" Donna cries.
A spherical, furry object roughly the size of a beach ball drifts lazily towards them. With its wide, cartoony eyes and comically tiny feet that protrude from the sides, it's almost cute. Until it opens its mouth, revealing a blur of rotating teeth. Ah, the Doctor thinks. So that's what a Frumper looks like. What sort of gases keep them afloat? How do they maneuver around? Wonder how the teeth move like that? I'd like to get a closer look… He stares at it for several seconds before realizing he's about to get that closer look – it's hovering in front of his face, and he blinks as its spittle splatters across his cheek.
The Doctor fumbles for his sonic, which has become entangled with his key ring (that never would have happened in his proper suit pocket!) and finally manages to whip it out – only to find that Donna has beaten him to the punch.
With a whoosh of escaping gases, the Frumper whips through the air in erratic arcs. The Doctor ducks when it passes too close to his head, and he frantically probes the area for bald patches as the last of the gas leaks out and the Frumper collapses inward. It lands on the ground in front of Donna with a splat, virtually flat but for the stubby, still-twitching paws and the rolling golf ball eyes. "Yeach," she mutters, taking a step back. "That was…"
"Yeah," the Doctor says, equally at a loss for words. Well, that wasn't quite true; he could think of several: anticlimactic, for instance. Or easy. But he's fairly certain Donna won't appreciate them.
Donna stares down at the deflated Frumper. "I just poked it," she says, brandishing the blunt nail file she'd pulled from her purse. "They're that easy to kill?"
"Apparently so," the Doctor says, feeling vaguely disappointed. It was a bit difficult to look impressive when the enemy had all the resiliency of a bubble. "But there are lots of them," he adds. "And they're very bitey." By way of demonstration, he prods the Frumper's mouth with a stick he'd picked up. The creature's teeth are no longer rotating, but they're sharp enough to cleanly slice off the tip. Donna pales. "That's the cause of all the damage. We'll need to find travel as quickly as possible to avoid these things." He takes her hand. "Are you up to a little running?" he grins, bouncing on the soles of his trainers as he prepares to launch himself forward.
"I'm not running in these shoes," she says.
The Doctor stops and glances down at her feet. The four inch heels are impressive, true, but he's had companions run in similar footwear without complaint.
Then again, said companions seemed to sprain their ankles an awful lot. He suddenly realizes there's a direct correlation between inadequate women's shoes and ill-timed dramatic falls. "All right," he says, studying the vehicles parked along the street. "We'll just take this one." He heads over to a navy blue SUV and pulls out his sonic screwdriver.
"We're going to steal a car?" Donna chokes.
"Borrow," the Doctor corrects. "It's important to recognize the distinction. I intend to return it. Eventually. It's either this, or you can run barefoot through Chiswick."
Donna looks as if she's seriously considering this, and while he admires her strong moral code, they don't have time for this. So the Doctor hastily adds, "You might step in a few Frumpers on the way, but I'm sure you'll be fine. They seem to be only slightly squishy when dead, and I'm sure stepping on the razor-sharp teeth don't hurt that much. You'll probably only lose a few toes, and then your wounds will become infected from running down the dirty streets, and you might lose your legs as a result," he shrugs, "but I'm sure you'll be fine."
Donna just glares at him, but climbs into the passenger seat without further protest. He starts the vehicle with the sonic and steers it so he's facing the roadblock. Then, with a manic grin, he revs the engine.
"We're crashing through the roadblock?" Donna asks dubiously.
"Yup!" the Doctor grins widely.
"But… it's just a couple of sawhorses and a rope. Wouldn't it cause less damage to our 'borrowed' vehicle if you just get out and move them?"
The Doctor gives her a wounded look. "Where's the fun in that?" he pouts, as he floors the accelerator. The SUV shoots forward, smashing the flimsy blockade, and the Doctor can't help but whoop in delight. He's a bit less enthusiastic when his head hits the roof every time one of the tires hits a pothole or runs over a Frumper corpse.
It doesn't take them long to locate Torchwood's base of operations; it's the only part of Chiswick that shows any real activity, as teams arrive to restock their ammo. The SUV pulls up next to a large group surrounding Pete Tyler, who is speaking into his mobile and gesticulating wildly.
"What's happening?" the Doctor demands.
Pete jerks his head up, but rather than showing annoyance at seeing his plan to divert the Doctor has failed, he looks relieved. "It's the Frumpers – Rose told you about them, right? It seems that there are more of them than we projected, and they're a bit more voracious than expected. They swarmed and ate one of our resupply vans. No one was injured, but we lost a lot of ammo."
"They actually attacked?" the Doctor says slowly. "I thought these things just drifted around and ate whatever they came into contact with."
"That's what the Flock told us," Pete says. He runs his hands through his thinning hair (and the Doctor feels rather smug that it doesn't look anywhere near as ruffleable as his own afterwards) and says grudgingly, "I could use your help. I need to get this taken care of before they eat the entire neighborhood."
There's a burst of static from the radio, and Pete snatches it up. He listens to the report, barely audible over the static, and his frown deepens. "There's a fire," he says, slamming the radio down on the SUV's hood. "Some of the Frumpers exploded, and two houses are already burning."
"They blow up?" Donna yowls.
Pete ignores her. "And two of my agents were injured dragging the people out of the homes. Nothing serious yet, but it could take time, what with – " Pete clamps his mouth shut. Then he sighs. "What with people not being inclined to get out on their own."
"Why aren't they leaving their homes?" the Doctor asks, bewildered.
Pete's lips curl in a snarl. "Subliminal commands," he says harshly. "Broadcast earlier today, suggesting that everyone stay indoors tonight."
"Who authorized that?" the Doctor demands, his voice a dangerous growl.
"President Jones," Pete says grimly.
"So they're just going to let themselves burn?" the Doctor says, aghast.
"Theoretically, if their lives are in danger, survival instinct should override the programming. But some people are more susceptible than others, and the commands are rooted more deeply. I'm going to call the teams and have them clear out the houses."
Their best option is to stop the fire before it can advance, rather than herding mentally-sluggish people out into the streets in a convenient all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. And, he realises immediately, there's a way to kill to birds with one stone.
The Doctor picks up Pete's mobile and shoves it into his hand. "Call the fire department! The police! Ambulances!" he snaps.
"They'll just end up a buffet for the Frumpers," Pete protests.
"Use your brain, man! If the Frumpers are attracted to large, noisy objects, they'll go after the emergency vehicles, yes? Which means…" the Doctor trails off, hoping Pete isn't as thick as this operation is making him seem.
"Which means the majority of them will be in one location," Pete finishes, raising his mobile.
The Doctor feels a bit guilty using fire trucks and ambulances for bait, but they need to end this quickly. He waits patiently as Pete makes the call, but when he hears Pete give the address, his brow furrows as he tries to figure out why it sounds familiar.
He suddenly becomes aware of Donna tugging at his sleeve. "Doctor, my house is on that street!"
He freezes, his gaze darting between the visible glow and Pete Tyler. Did he stay and help Pete, perhaps minimizing casualties, or protect Donna as she went after her family?
"I need to help my family!" Donna says urgently. "My dad – he can't leave the house on his own! I have to go!" He watches as, despite her earlier reluctance, Donna kicks off her high heels and prepares to sprint off towards her home.
The choice was a bit of a no-brainer, really. Pete barely listened to him anyway, and if Donna was one of those casualties, he'd never be able to live with himself. The Doctor doesn't hesitate. He snatches a longbow and a quiver of arrows from the back of one of the Torchwood SUVs and slings them over his shoulder. He glances over towards Pete, who is now on the radio directing the Torchwood teams to rendezvous with the arriving emergency vehicles and escort them to the fire/slaughter ground. "Let's go," he says, sprinting a few metres in the wrong direction before spinning around and heading the right way, grabbing Donna's hand as he raced past her and pulling her behind him.
They speed past several returning Torchwood teams, and he can't help but slow down and gape when he sees the non-human members.
"Oh, brilliant! They are big purple chickens!" the Doctor laughs.
Donna ducks behind him, staring at them over his shoulder. "I don't suppose we could go rescue my family now and bird watch later?" she says, her voice small and her eyes huge as she takes in the sight.
The Doctor blinks. "Right. Family."
They actually manage to make it down a few more streets before the Doctor is again sidetracked, this time by a purple and yellow flash heading towards the conflagration, unaware of a cloud of Frumpers following just behind them. His Rose, astride one of the Flock members, running into the fray to save the innocents, careless of the danger she was putting herself in.
She'd learned from a master, but he really wished she wouldn't put it into practice quite so often.
"Rose!" he cries, and is about to lunge forward when Donna grabs his collar.
"Oi! You have the attention span of a puppy, don't you? Don't you remember? My family?" she prods. "You said you'd help them!"
As they watch, one of the Frumpers darts towards Rose, tearing her Kevlar vest. They can hear her panicked cry from two blocks away.
The Doctor glances between Rose and Donna, torn.
"Go after her, Doctor," Donna says softly. "My house is just over there, and I don't see any of those floating buggers around. I should be able to help my family – and anyone else who needs it." She gives him a brave smile, but he can see her trembling.
He doesn't want to leave her on her own, but she's right, there don't seem to be any Frumpers in the immediate vicinity, and the fire's far enough away that she should have plenty of time to evacuate her home and those closest.
The Doctor fishes through the contents of his definitely- not-bigger-on-the-inside pockets, and pulls out the thin metal tube. His new sonic screwdriver is still a work in progress, but it should be adequate for their needs.
"Take this." He presses the sonic screwdriver into her hands.
Donna eyes it skeptically. "Please tell me that's not a vibrator."
The Doctor stares at her blankly. "It has a setting for vibration, but you won't be using it," he assures her. What is it with humans and vibrating tools? he wonders. Jackie had asked him much the same thing when she'd first seen his sonic, and had looked horrified when he'd given her much the same answer. "This setting emits a frequency that drives away most animals – I doubt the Frumpers are any different. This setting should unlock any doors. And this one should disrupt the subliminal programming long enough for you to persuade everyone to evacuate. Just make sure it's on the right setting and hit the button, and you'll be fine."
At her panicked look, he smiles reassuringly. "You can do it. You're brilliant, Donna Noble. Go save your family from the fire. Keep everyone close together, and use the sonic screwdriver to keep the Frumpers away. I'll be along to help guard them as soon as I can, and it shouldn't be too long before Torchwood and the fire department come along and clear the area."
He watches as Donna swallows and nods, gathering up her courage to run through what is essentially a war zone. Then he unslings the bow from his back and races down the block towards Rose.
There's a stitch in her side as she finally reaches her door. Gasping, she grasps the knob, which refuses to turn in her hands. Donna stares at it, feeling betrayed. Her mum had locked her out! And her keys are in her purse, which she dimly remembers leaving on the seat of the borrowed SUV. She pounds on the door and yells for several moments, before remembering the device the Doctor had given her. Repeating his instructions like a litany, she checks the setting and aims it at the door. The sonic warbles, and the door clicks. Donna chooses not to dwell on why the Doctor has a hi-tech lock pick as she prepares to rush inside her home.
Something thuds against her family's parked car, and Donna automatically whirls around, holding the sonic screwdriver before her without changing the setting. It's still emitting a buzzing sound, and when she aims the blue glowing end at the Frumper, it shrieks and blows up.
As does the car.
Donna stares stupidly for several moments at the burning mass that had once been the Nobles' car. Then she turns off the screwdriver and stares at it, wonder just what the hell kind of freaky games her boss and his girlfriend use it for. She also wonders just how she's going to tell her mum that she blew up the car using a vibrator/lock pick and a fuzzy, malevolent balloon. She decides to blame it on the fire. With that, she shrugs and rushes inside to evacuate her family.
This isn't going well, Rose realizes as she swipes a sooty hand across her sweat-soaked forehead. She's chosen to disregard the recall order, instead directing Buckbuckbuck towards the fire, to help in any way she can. There's a small crowd of people milling around the street aimlessly, not quite seeing the danger, and Rose is shooting down any Frumper that gets too close.
These are the people who evacuated their homes at the first sign of the fire. Part of her is relieved that that part of the subliminal programming is working. Another part of her is annoyed; they're still dazed, and they're wandering into the line of fire. As for the people for whom the subliminal messaging didn't take, or missed the messages completely, well, they somehow had the presence of mind to ignore the danger and the people that need help, choosing instead to record everything with their mobiles.
Worse, they're attracting the Frumpers. Lots of them. And any that drifted too close to the fire and the super-heated air tended to explode, which doesn't help matters any.
"The Frumpers are usually not this volatile," Buckbuckbuck comments at one point, as they evade a particularly nasty explosion. "Something they've consumed here must be affecting the gases they produce." The chicken alien shakes its head sadly. "You primitive cultures and your non-organic building materials," it sighs.
Rose barely refrains from telling the alien just how advanced Earth is when it comes to chicken-based meals. Instead, she chooses to take out her irritation on the Frumpers and reaches into her pack to grab more bolts, only to have her fingers close on empty air.
She's out of ammo.
Worse, Buckbuckbuck is out of harpoons as well, and had been patiently awaiting Rose's decision to return to base to collect more. She'd been so set on rushing over to help with the fire that she hadn't given ammunition any thought.
"We'll have to go back - " she begins, when suddenly a Frumper swoops out of a cloud of smoke and snags her Kevlar vest in its teeth. Rose cries out and struggles to free herself from the vest, but the Frumper has already chewed a hole in the tough fabric all the way to Rose's shirt. Unable to reach far enough back to pierce it with the razor-sharp claws, Buckbuckbuck slaps at it with a wing, but the Frumper's teeth are tangled in the fabric and it won't let go.
And suddenly the Frumper is gone – along with her Kevlar vest and a good portion of her shirt. Rose gapes for a moment and turns to find it impaled on a still-quivering arrow buried in the brick behind her. She tracks the trajectory of the arrow backwards, and can't help but grin at what she sees a block away.
The Doctor is standing there, his pale suit gleaming in the firelight, his long black coat flaring out behind him. His hair is standing up in agitated tufts, and the reflected firelight makes his eyes seem to glow. He's already notching another arrow, and has the shaft of a third clenched between his teeth. He grins around it when he sees her watching, then looses the arrow into another Frumper.
Rose thinks he's never looked hotter.
With the majority of the Frumpers converging on the fire trucks and ambulances , they're sitting ducks to the re-supplied Torchwood/Flock teams, as well as the aerial nets. Some forty-five minutes later, most of the Frumpers have been brought down, and the fire crews brought the blaze under control. There'll be Torchwood teams cruising the area under the guise of animal control for the next couple of weeks, but they're confident they'll have the infestation taken care of by the end of next week.
The damage caused by the Frumpers will take longer take care of, and the Doctor wonders just what sort of cover story Torchwood will come up with. He's thinking that 'nuclear explosion' is the only rational, non-alien, non-drunk uni student explanation.
He finds Donna standing with her family, her hands curled protectively around the handles of her father's wheelchair. "The fire never reached your home," he tells them. "There's a little damage from, er, debris," the less said about the Frumpers, he thinks, the better, "but you'll be able to go home tonight." He offers them a smile, which Sylvia returns with a scowl.
"No thanks to that lot," she snaps, glowering at the fire engines a little way down the street. "We had no warning, we could've all died in there. And they arrived too late to save our car." Donna starts guiltily, but her mother doesn't catch it. "We were lucky to all get out when we did."
"It's all thanks to Donna," Wilf says. "She got all of us out, and the neighbours as well. Scared them aliens away with that metal thing, too. She kept us all safe."
The Doctor beams. That's his Donna, he thinks. Loud and brash, but with a heart of gold.
"They weren't aliens, Dad. And she was almost too late," Sylvia sniffs. "If she hadn't been out at some fancy dinner, we could've taken the time to bundle Geoff up properly and drive to his sister's place."
"Now Sylvia," Geoffrey Noble chides, "a little fresh air won't hurt. And Donna did a lot of good." He pats his wife's hand, then smiles up at his daughter. "I'm proud of you, honey."
"Hmph," is all Sylvia says. She pushes Donna out of the way and begins to wheel Geoffrey away, with Wilf following along behind after giving the Doctor an apologetic look.
"She doesn't mean to be rude," Donna says. "She's just worried about Dad." She watches them go, clearly wishing she could go with them. Instead she turns towards the Doctor, visibly bracing herself for what she says next. "Doctor," she says hesitantly. "What really happened? There were those… things! Those flying things with teeth! And purple chickens! What jus happened here?"
"They were aliens," he says. The Doctor had hoped to ease Donna into his world. Maybe introduce her to a few of the benevolent aliens he knows hiding out amongst the humans, acclimate her to the fact that they exist before dragging her into the inevitable dangerous situations.
Really, he should know better by now.
"Sort of like intergalactic rats," he adds helpfully.
"Rats?" Donna bellows. "Rats! Rats don't destroy half the neighborhood! Rats don't fly, or eat cars, or explode!"
"I said, 'sort of,'" the Doctor says sheepishly. "Rats did spread the plague, though. Wellll, their fleas did, anyway. Bit more devastating than what happened here. This is nothing!"
"This 'nothing' is my home." Donna plants her hands on her hips and glares at him. The Doctor squirms. He seems to be getting this reaction a lot from the women in his life lately. "Err…" He rubs the back of his neck, then tugs his ear for good measure. He's saved the trouble of ruffling his hair by Donna relaxing her stance, pinning him with a look, and saying, "So. Aliens. Deal with them a lot, do you?"
"More than you'd think," he says cheerfully. "Lots of aliens in the entertainment business. Like Jimmy Stone – wellll, he didn't start out as an alien, but he was taken over by one. You'll meet quite a few of them when working with me. Don't worry, not all of them are body-snatching slugs; some of them are quite nice." At her panic-stricken look, he swallows, suddenly afraid he could lose this woman he so desperately needs as a friend. "You… you will keep working for me, won't you? You'd have a permanent position with me, not a temp one, and I might even be able to get you in as my assistant at Torchwood as well. You'd have two paychecks. Two!" He's aware that his voice is reaching dangerous levels of squeakiness, but he doesn't care. He gazes at her beseechingly and continues, "Not all aliens want to take over the world or eat everything in Chiswick. I'm an alien – wellll, mostly – and I'm harmless, right?" Oops. He hadn't meant to blurt that bit out, but once his gob was going, it tended to run away from him.
"You're… not kidding, are you?" Donna says faintly.
The Doctor smiles weakly.
"You're an alien," she says flatly.
"Half. Ish. Long story. But, yeah."
He continues giving her his best, most pleading puppy dog look, the one that usually ends with him and Rose in bed. Oops; maybe he'd better take it down a notch. Ending up in bed with Donna could be awkward…
But Donna fails to fling herself onto him and start ripping off his clothes, which is both a relief and a bit ego-deflating. "You don't have to decide anything right now," he says quickly.
"Torchwood," Donna says suddenly. "You mentioned Torchwood. They're the ones who did this, right? You work for them?"
Seeing where this is going, the Doctor hastens to say, "I do part time consultation work for them; mostly identifying alien species and tech. I don't organize operations and I had nothing to do with this."
Perhaps he should do more, he thinks. If he'd been involved with this from the very beginning, would things have turned out this badly? Well, maybe. Events did have a tendency to go pear-shaped whenever he was involved, but usually they were heading that way anyway before he got involved and he couldn't be held accountable for that!
"Hmph," is Donna's only response. Then she grabs his arm and starts hauling him towards the crowd of Torchwood operatives. "I'd like to talk to whoever did plan this," she says firmly. "I want to give him a piece of my mind. And somebody owes my family a car."
The Doctor hides a grin. He really wants to see this. So he takes her hand, and begins leading her towards Pete. "That'd be Pete Tyler. I'm sure he'll be willing to listen to any grievances you have."
"Is that an alien, too?" Donna asks, stumbling to a halt and tightening her grip on his hand. The Doctor scans the crowd to see who she's referring to, then realizes she's pointing at Rose, who is speaking with a group of her teammates.
"Nope! Completely human, is Rose." Momentarily forgetting their previous goal, he changes direction and makes a beeline towards her. "C'mon, Donna! I want to introduce you to the Vitex heiress herself, Rose Tyler!" He drags Donna behind him, ignoring the woman's indignant cries in his eagerness to get to Rose.
"That's not a human, that's a Smurf!" Donna protests.
"Smurfs are blue," the Doctor corrects absently. "Rose is purple." He studies her battered figure with its mangled armor and torn clothing. "If anything, she looks like my character on World of Warcraft," he muses. He eyes her consideringly. "It's rather sexy, actually." Then he blinks. "Don't tell Rose I said that!" he yelps.
"That you think she's sexy? Most women like that sort of thing, dumbo," Donna says.
"That I play WoW," he mutters. "As a scantily-clad purple woman."
"So you like to ogle barely-dressed pixels with proportions that defy nature. How's that make you different from any other bloke?"
"Actually, it's the outfits I like," he says sheepishly. "Rose would never let me wear anything like that in public, so I have to do it vicariously."
Donna just stares. "You really are an alien, aren't you?"
Fortunately, he's spared any more embarrassment by Rose, who turns and smiles when she sees them. "Everything sorted?" he asks.
"Yeah," she says softly. "'cept for our cover. Think they'd buy the out-of-control-block-party excuse?"
His lips twitch slightly at the thought. "Why didn't you ask for my help?" he says, tone faintly scolding.
Rose squares her shoulders and lifts her chin defiantly. "Because the Flock are exterminators, and the Frumpers are mindless pests they're determine d to eliminate at all costs. This could have only ended in a slaughter." She suddenly droops. "I didn't want you to have that on your conscience," she whispers.
He sighs. Sometimes, he wants to rip open the walls to their home universe, just so he can kick the Time Lord Doctor's arse for making Rose believe she has to babysit him. "So you thought you'd bear that cross instead?" he chides softly. "I may only be a month old, physically, but I'm more than capable of making my own decisions."
Rose leans against his chest. "I know," she says dully. "I just… I want you to be able to start over, to live a life without death and destruction."
He laughs softly. "Do you even know me, Rose Tyler?" he says. "Without alien invasions to keep me busy, I'd be blowing up household appliances out of boredom. Plenty of death and destruction there," he grins.
"Yeah," she says, looking vaguely alarmed. He decides now is not the time to tell her that he'd tweaked the toaster earlier that morning…
The fire has drawn the usual crowd of onlookers, many of which are more interested in the purple Vitex heiress than the firemen working to bring the blaze under control. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see people whip out their mobiles and take photos, but he doesn't care. After all, the money they'd make selling the photos would at least be some compensation for tonight's disaster. He gathers Rose in his arms and tenderly kisses her.
"No hiding that we're a couple now," he murmurs into her ear when they part.
"Don't want to," she whispers back. She buries her face in his chest, and he rests his chin atop her head as he rubs her back soothingly.
Over the sound of the crowd, he can hear Donna giving Pete Tyler, Vitex of CEO and husband of Jackie Tyler, a piece of her mind. And Pete, despite being accustomed to his wife's vocal outbursts, is cringing beneath the awesome fury of Donna Noble.
The Doctor takes one last look at the devastation and sighs into Rose's cropped hair. President Jones, hmm? he thinks, eyes narrowing as he took in the smoldering homes. He'd taken down one Harriet Jones already; should he make it two for two?
It isn't until the next evening that things settle down enough for them to talk. Rose senses he's still disappointed in her for not asking for his help, and she's kicking herself for keeping him in the dark. She'd wanted to protect him, yeah… but how many times had she been angry at him for doing the same to her? She also suspects he's more than a little embarrassed about how the dinner went; her mum had called her the moment the Frumper operation was over and filled her in on all the juicy details. Rose figures she'll give him a week before she starts teasing him about the waiter.
He's sitting on the sofa, idly thumbing through one of the morning's gossip rags. Not surprisingly, there's a picture of them together on the cover. Rose plucks it from his fingers and studies the photo. It had been taken immediately after they'd kissed; the Doctor had the slightly dazed expression and ruffled hair that he always sported after a particularly good snog.
She's going to have to find a better copy of that picture; he really is adorable post-snog.
She flips through the pages, finding the article about the events of the previous night. She skims through it, and sighs with relief. Fortunately, the photos are black and white, and there are no mentions of purple skin, alien chickens, and balloon rabbits from hell, memories of which having all been removed from the eye-witnesses, thanks to Retcon. There is a passing reference to the property damage, and Rose is disgusted by the casual dismissal. Sometimes she hates living in a universe where who she's shagging is more important than disasters.
"Didn't even mention last night's dinner," the Doctor says smugly. "We're much bigger news." He doesn't mention the destruction. Later, she knows, he'll hold someone accountable for it, and she has a good idea who. Like her, though, he'll pretend that nothing's bothering him.
"Only because they've been waiting for years for me to appear in public with a man I'm obviously in a relationship with. I've been a very uncooperative spoiled heiress, what with refusing to date rock stars or get drunk in clubs or cause major scandals. Least this'll stop the rumors about me and secret lovers and sex clubs." She wrinkles her nose distastefully. That last has a bit of truth to it, but she'd gone as a Torchwood agent, not out of any burning desire to go.
Okay. Maybe a little desire. Or a lot. But she'd been single at the time, and it'd been awhile since she'd had a little fun.
"Mum'll be jealous that I upstaged her," Rose jokes.
"I think in this case, Jackie will be very glad not to have her name connected to a man who flashes his women's knickers in a restaurant." He sighs and runs his hand through his tufted hair.
"Don't worry… these people are nothing if not persistent. Sooner or later, they'll connect the two events, and then you'll have even more exposure. Literally." Women's knickers… what had he been thinking, anyway? With a suit that tight, he shouldn't have worn anything that could create a panty line. Rose is an advocate for going commando. "Was dinner with my Mum really so awful?"
"Only because she wasn't you," he says softly. "At least she forgave me for putting up a fuss, at any rate." He brightens. "She's going to teach me about waxing this Sunday."
Nope. Still don't want to know, Rose decides.
"What about the editors? Do they still think you're gay, then?" she grins, tongue peeking out between her teeth.
"Nope. Bi. In a very open relationship. Kelly suggested I rename the column 'Straight Up With a Twist.'" He arches one eyebrow. "Somehow, I seem to have become the Captain Jack Harkness of this universe. Which isn't so bad, I suppose." He shrugs. "They still want me to do the column, but just until they find another writer qualified to take over. My clever plan worked," he boasts.
"Or they got tired of your whining," Rose snorts.
"Who says that wasn't part of my clever plan?" He pouts, his lower lip jutting adorably, and Rose can't resist planting a kiss there.
"And what they think, it doesn't bother you any more?" she asks when they finally come up for air.
He gives her a rueful smile. "I realized there are more important things to worry about than what other people think. Wellll, most of the time, anyway. When there's a life or death situation. And since you, Rose Tyler, are jeopardy friendly, I think I'll there'll be quite a few of those." She smacks his shoulder lightly.
He lightly brushes her skin, which has paled to a soft lilac hue. "I'm sorry I didn't spend any time taking care of you," he says regretfully. "Not much of a doctor, am I?"
"No… but when it comes to being the Doctor, you're brilliant," she grins, tongue between her teeth. "Just you wait; when it's your turn to be sick, I'll show you how to play doctor."
"Not happening," he grins. "I may be part human, but I still have superior Time Lord biology!"
Rose smirks, remembering how his so-called superior biology has handled hangovers, food poisoning, and an unfortunate incident in which he'd eaten a Trrrugian dung beetle (it had been his own stupid fault, really; he'd been trying to lick it and accidentally inhaled). He'd shown a definite superiority in projectile vomiting.
"You know," he says, his voice suddenly low, sensual, "if you do want to 'play' something, I've got just the game."
Rose perks up. He rarely makes suggestions, preferring to let her take the lead in the physical aspects of their relationship while he struggled to follow along. He's still learning to adjust to his hybrid body, and it's lead to some rather awkward moments. But he's a fast learner, and Rose has no doubt that one day, he'll be the dominant one in their relationship. She can't wait.
She leans in close. "What sort of game?" she breathes.
"Watching you ride around on your noble mount, with your clothes all ripped to reveal your gleaming purple skin – never thought I'd say that - and your hair in a tangled disarray, you looked so wild, feral, even. And to see you in action with that crossbow, protecting the innocents from the evil alien menace…"
Caught up in his flowery narrative, Rose doesn't bother to correct him. "Go on," she whispers. It's not often that she sounds like something out of a fantasy novel, and she finds it rather flattering.
"So fierce, my Rose," he murmurs, running his fingers down her cheek. "You looked like a warrior princess. No… a goddess. And it made me want…" he pauses significantly.
"Yes?" she's close enough now that her body is pressed to his, and she's staring up into his eyes.
"It made me want to play World of Warcraft." he says, a wicked gleam in his eyes. Before she can recover from her gape-mouthed astonishment, he pulls away from her, causing her to fall sideways on the sofa, and sprints for the computer.
With a frustrated yowl, Rose throws a sofa cushion at his retreating back, and feels a small measure of satisfaction at hearing it smack into the back of his head and make him yelp. "Git!" she yells after him, and resigns herself to a night alone with the sonic screwdriver.
Apologies to anyone with any knowledge of biology; the Frumpers pretty much defy logic, and it makes my inner scientist cringe. You have no idea how long I spent trying to come up with things like anatomy, breeding cycles, mating habits, etc. to make them seem like a realistic species. Then I realized it was impossible, chucked it all out the window, and decided that if anyone asks, I'll play the 'they're an alien species!' card. I think I'll hide my Bachelor's degree in Biology in shame.
I'm not sure what's next for this series. I'll probably do Romantic Entanglements, the 'alien sex pollen' cliché story, which I had wanted to do in time for Valentines Day , but obviously, that didn't happen. Also, I can't not write a something about the Doctor and Donna going to a gay strip club. It has to happen.
The WoW reference is entirely my brother's fault.