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FIC: Blind Date (1/5)

Title: Blind Date

Genre: Doctor Who

Rating: T

Author: tkel_paris

Summary: Caving to the pressure of his parents to find a wife, the Doctor goes on Jack Harkness' dating show. Four women have been selected, and he has to choose one to go out with for a month. Can his sanity – what there is of it – survive long enough to make the best choice?

Disclaimer: I'm going into major alternate reality terms. That should assure you I own nothing.

Dedication: cassikat, as I'm not going to be able to finish the next installment of The Noble Girl in time for your birthday. Not with Camp NaNo and a major chess tournament coming to Phoenix in August, along with my parents.

Author's Note: A random thought that amused my beta when I mentioned it. A few ideas were tossed back and forth, and this was the end result. Written during Camp NaNo July 2015. I owe my beta a lot for transforming the story from something too American to something more based on the show Blind Date from across the pond. And for making sure that the details mentioned about life in England were accruate. Also, y'all should know that tardis_mole informed me that the host for the original Blind Date show, Cilla Black, died during the writing of this story. All that's known as of the post date is that she collapsed in the heat.

Critical Note: All answers given by the guests are based on things they actually said in canon, things said about them that were not disputed, ways they acted, or things outright implied. Do not snap at me or my beta. Snap at RTD and the Moff for writing said things, and permitting them to go on air.





Blind Date

Started July 18, 2015
Finished August 7, 2015

Chapter One: Where He Needs To Be?

No! No, no, no, no, no! Absolutely not!”

Theta Sigma!”

The Doctor cringed. When his mother used the whole of his personal name (that was publicly known), it meant she was not pleased with him. Not that he had not done that with his travels or the recklessness she (and his father) frequently bemoaned and sometimes for reasons even he could grasp, but he was not sure why she was angry this time. There was nothing for it. He had to ask.

What did I do this time? I've been more careful with my life because I like my current incarnation a lot, I haven't made the High Council furious in years, and I protected several fixed points recently without losing any lives around me.”

The Doctor had no idea how much his complaint was veering into whining territory. At least until he saw another familiar look in his parents' eyes, which made him wince even before he got an answer.

His father, called Zeus for short, narrowed his eyes, which he always did when he detected a hint of childish behavior in his younger son. And now only son, after the War. “While we are pleased that you have done so much, there is something important you have done absolutely nothing about: ensuring the survival of our family line.”

He stilled and his eyes went wider than the biggest headdress made for a High Council member. “You mean take a wife?! Father, you know how my other marriages turned out. The children from the first line were the only good thing about that one, and the second was a bigger mistake. I was lucky I wasn't bound completely to that one, especially given where her obsession led us.”

It hurt to say it, but he was not blind. Romana had gone too far and the whole planet – and nearly the universe – had paid for it. And he hurt knowing how far someone he had trusted could fall, someone he thought would not fall into the trap of real madness – like he preferred to think happened to his childhood best friend, Koschei. And it did not stop him from wondering if he could have done something to prevent him from becoming the Master.

His mother, called Hera for short, sighed heavily, remembering the pain of losing all of their son's descendants thanks to the War and the acts of the now very dead delusional Would-Be King and his minions. “I will grant you that the choices presented to you were not the best in any respect. But we are lucky to have survived the Time War. The planet must be rebuilt and repopulated, and you are the only member of the clan capable of reproducing naturally. Someone must lead the way while our people recover from the Curse.”

Now he knew the source. He had heard of people complaining that their families were putting pressure on them to become parents, but he had never imagined that he would be on the receiving end of it. The only thing keeping him from being completely shocked was his ability to gab at a moment's notice. While they still had the Looms, the natural abilities might need a generation or two to be restored. And with the Matrix also lost there was no chance of resurrecting any of them either.

But marrying again? With my history? Mother, you didn't approve of Sarah Jane, and now that opportunity is gone forever thanks to the High Council. I've never met anyone who came so close to being that understanding of the differences between our species.”

Both his parents flushed with shame for the pain caused to their son. Although it was true that they were extremely uncomfortable with the thought of their son being with an alien, neither had quite agreed with the High Council's decision to force him to leave her behind, and what they now knew made them deeply regretful.

And yet it might have saved Sarah Jane's life. Had the Council known of a marriage they would have kidnapped her and any children to force the Doctor to participate in the War. Something the Doctor had to be aware of, even if he did not want to think about it.

We remember, and we were not part of that decision to tear you two apart, as you well know,” she reminded him before composing herself. “Very well. Since you seem to get along so well with Humans, and there is not a Gallifreyan who would have you that we would approve of, you must take a Human wife. And soon.”

And how would you have me do that?”

The sudden grins on their faces left him shaking in his trainers.

His mother's voice was calm and measured, in stark contrast with her smile. “You will go on a Human dating show to find a wife.”

A dating show?! How could you?!” he hissed. “I'll have to wait in the backstage area of the show while Human women humiliate themselves so I'll choose them. It is the stupidest idea that you have ever had!”

Not the show we're thinking of,” his father contended. “You've met the host.”

His eyes widened larger than ever. “Oh, no. Please, not him. Not that.”

Either that or let the High Council choose from the thousands of daughters whose families are trying to ply for marriage to you,” Hera decreed.

/=/=/=/=/

Quiet had never been something the Doctor appreciated. Until he desperately needed it. And he should have known that his protests were only going to ensure that his parents would come up with an alternative that he was unwilling to entertain doing if he refused to go on the dating show they had chosen.

So he had to apply, endure a linear wait, and be interviewed about things he would have rather kept to himself. He would have rather dealt with Daleks and Cybermen at the same time.

Now that he was left alone in a waiting room, he had time to reflect on how he was going to get through the next few hours. He had endured the makeup people, the lighting people, and several producers who were all ecstatic that a Time Lord was seeking love on their show. Not to mention directors and stage hands telling him where to stand, what to say, when to say it, what his expressions should have, what to look at, what not to look at.

It was enough to make anyone feel like a puppet. And that was just the rehearsals where stage hands subbed for the guests he would choose from.

Humans,” he muttered. “They're great except when they're too much.”

We know the feeling. Sometimes we're too much for each other.”

He startled at the sound of a woman's voice. Her Welsh valley accent was a welcome difference, somehow feeling less alienating than the others. He saw a dark-haired woman with a friendly expression enter. She walked with the confidence of someone in law enforcement, but she dressed in a casual yet professional way. Although it still gave off the air of someone you did not want to mess with.

Never mind that she looked like someone he had met as his last self, even sounded like her. He wondered if she was related somehow, but his parents had told him to avoid speaking of his adventures because he needed to make what they considered to be a good impression.

Her smile turned apologetic. “Sorry, I knocked but you didn't seem to hear. And I've never seen anyone so uncomfortable about being here, or have such an unpleasant time with the interviews.”

The Doctor sighed. “How obvious is it that I don't want to be here?”

Very. I only hope you don't make the ladies here tonight feel less than special because of it.”

He flinched at her warning, and he slowly gave a nod of acknowledgment of her words. “Point taken. Listen, um...”

Gwen.”

He did not believe in coincidences, but he remembered that Gwen and Gwyneth were names from different languages with different meanings. Perhaps he had finally met that case of seeing someone's 'twin', and not something destined.

Gwen, how do you get to know someone in the space of less than an hour? Especially in such a public manner? I've always needed time to get to know any of my assistants over the years, and that was largely an accident. I've never dated. The concept doesn't exist on my planet.”

Gwen sat across from him. “Is it true that all marriages are arranged on Gallifrey?”

He would have flinched, expecting questions, but she must have been briefed prior to his interview. How much came from the host himself, he could only speculate. “Yes, or they were before the Last Great Time War.”

So you don't know anything about dating or small talk?”

No. How am I going to tell if I might be able to live with someone for the rest of my life when I only have about fifty minutes to tell between four Human women?”

She nodded and smiled empathetically. “I thought you looked lost and prepared a list of questions that have been asked before on our show and others like it. I also brought flash cards that you can write the ones you think will work the best for you. If you're worried about this I can only imagine how you'd handle Singles clubs.”

What's that?” he asked as he took the cards.

You meet in a big hall and make conversation over drinks, nibbles, and shared activities – such as reading aloud, bonsai pruning or similar. You get about three-to-five minutes with each person.”

Humans do that?!”

Yes, but whether matches come from it is debatable. Although it helps to ask questions that encourage a more honest answer and reveal more than the typical ones. Anyway, I highlighted the ones I think are the most useful. There's a call button in case you have any other questions before the show. You have an hour. Okay?”

Yeah,” he muttered, attention already on the cards. “Thanks, Gwen.”

You're welcome.” She stood and left the room, knowing when to retreat.

He sat and studied the list. Some of the questions he could understand why she had not highlighted. What was the point of asking someone how you would build the perfect man? If regeneration taught him anything it was that perfection was different from person to person, and each incarnation had entirely distinct opinions on what that was. He still vividly remembered what happened when his first three regenerations met. So those types of questions were out.

There also seemed to be a lot of focus on profession. And he hated the thought of being rated entirely for what he did, or what he had been expected to do. The questions more along the lines about who the person was made more sense toward figuring out whether he might be able to stand being bonded to for the next fifty or sixty years, depending on how long he got with her.

He had to come up with a plan. Winging it was not a good option. He had to show that he was capable of making plans, good ones at that. Even if he had a history of making things up as he went along, a little thinking ahead would keep him grounded and make this go better.

He only hoped that the women would be at least compassionate about his own nerves. But if none were, then he would pick the least aggravating and just not offer her anything after the month's end. He had checked. The rules could not enforce anything permanent between selector and guests, which he found relieving. So he hoped that he could at least find enough comfort in that to make the whole thing bearable.

But if none worked, would he have to endure more match-making efforts from his parents and people?

Suddenly he prayed that one would be suitable for him. Then he would be safe for the rest of her life.

He did not want to think about what his life would be like once she was gone, and potentially at the risk of being pushed to remarry yet again.

/=/=/=/=/

Good evening, everyone!” blasted the Welsh announcer over the cheering audience. “And welcome to 'Find Your Destiny!' I'm Ianto Jones, your announcer. And here is your host, the Boe-Kind who knows how to spot a match fated to happen, Jack Harkness!”


The audience's cheering was already loud, and the jogging entrance of the suspender-wearing and fancy pheromone-producing non-Human sent them into a frenzy. The females wanted to be shagged by him, along with some of the men. It was a good thing that they kept a lot of security guards and medics just in case anyone got the wrong idea, standard procedure or not. But today the audience seemed extra excited.

He beamed and waved, drinking in the adoration until he motioned for enough quiet that the microphones could clearly hear him. After all, they had a show to shoot.

Hello!” he said in his American accent as he looked right into the camera lit to record. “Hello! A delight as always to see you, and this audience is looking mighty fine tonight.”

The line got the roaring he expected. He had to wave again for calm, which took the audience as a whole a few seconds to manage.

Well, we all know why we're here, so let's not delay Destiny for our selector tonight!”

The cheering went loud again, but this time it was more controlled. Jack strolled to where two chairs were situated and started speaking as the audience calmed again.

On tonight's show we have a first: a man from the planet Gallifrey is here to select from four Human ladies. Trust me, he doesn't show how much of a May-December relationship the ages will make it look like. In true Gallifreyan form for the highborn, he will not be introduced by his real name. Instead by the title he chose for himself after graduation from the Academy, where he became a Time Lord. Please welcome the Doctor!”

For someone who liked to show off, the Doctor came off as very shy as he walked from the backstage to the chair he was told to sit in. He chose his brown pinstripes for the occasion, and his tan trainers. But the sign of his distress was on the top of his head as he shook Jack's hand awkwardly and sat immediately; his hair was completely flat. Although he did notice that the cheering suggested that some of the audience thought he was handsome, which was a little comfort to his ego and vanity.

And he was not going to correct Jack on the naming process. The less they knew the truth about Gallifreyans and the real power of names, the better.

Jack frowned as he sat. “Hello, Doctor. As good as it is to see you again, I usually don't see our selectors looking like they don't want to be here. You look like you'd rather be dealing with some giant crisis threatening the entire planet or even the universe.”

The Doctor sighed and slouched in the chair, not feeling like making an impression other than what he felt like. “I don't like my personal life being up for public consumption. Unfortunately my parents gave me a choice I couldn't refuse.”

Ah, they're eager for grandchildren and played dirty?” the Boe-Kind asked knowingly and with empathy.

The Doctor grimaced. “That's putting it mildly. It was either this or deal with the High Council choosing a bride, and I couldn't inflict that on myself, let alone anyone else.”

Jack knew it was better to not enlighten this Earth crowd about how irrational, not to mention cruel, the ruling body of Gallifrey could be. “Well, we did speak with your parents and they admitted to forcing you on here. But I promise you that one of the lovely ladies we're about to introduce on the other side of that wall will be your Destiny.”

I'll believe it if it happens.”

Oh, ye of little faith. Be patient. Audience, do you think he'll find her?”

Yes!” they cheered as they applauded in encouragement.

The Doctor shrugged. That was the expected response given his research, so he was not impressed.

Jack moved things along to distract everyone else from the Doctor's lack of enthusiasm. “Now, Doctor, you will only be able to hear their voices. You will know their names before each is seated, but nothing else. They're not to say anything specific about their appearance. You'll have to judge which lady you want to spend a month with based on their answers. Are you ready with your questions?”

He drew the cards out of his left inner jacket pocket. “Ready as I'll ever be.”

That's the spirit,” Jack encouraged, lightly poking him in the arm.

It failed to produce a laugh, but the Doctor gave a tiny grin. “Let's get on with it, please.”

That was likely as eager as the Time Lord would get, so Jack nodded and decided to move forward.

Okay, so we talked with the Doctor before the show, along with his parents and a number of friends and colleagues to see what kind of a woman might be a good possibility for a match. Then we interviewed among the ladies who wanted to be guests for today and selected the top four from that field. Our guests today are from varying backgrounds and walks of life, which we thought might be useful since a Time Lord could need something vastly different from his earlier days.”

The Doctor kept an unusually impassive expression. He was hoping for someone who would love him no matter which incarnation he was on. And who would not be offended or disgusted by photos of his earlier selves. He could think of a few assistants whose days as such ended soon after he regenerated.

Watching on a screen programmed to receive the television signal even on Gallifrey, his parents sighed and exchanged worried looks. This had seemed like their last hope to get him into gear. Would it work, or backfire on them? So far, it was not looking good.

Jack began the process in earnest. “Our first guest is from east London and has worked as a shop girl. She would love adventure, she says. She's not about to let her youth count her out. Please welcome Rose!”

A petite woman walked out wearing a pink jacket over a Union Flag t-shirt and blue jeans. Her blonde hair – combined with a flirty smile and the size of her bust clear for all to see – gained instant favor with some of the audience. Others were somewhat more restrained because they noticed that she did not seem happy with her natural appearance; it was obvious that her eyebrows did not match her hair, but they did match her roots. She walked with the look of someone who thought the world was about to be at her feet, or should already be, which probably accounted for the audience members who declined to applaud or who barely made an effort.

The Doctor noticed those reactions and raised an eyebrow. His research suggested that sometimes the audience reaction might be a clue to important details about the woman's manner or attitude that she did her best to withhold from her answers. Sometimes a mixed reaction was a good thing, but sometimes it signaled something not quite right.

Only the questions would answer which it was.

Jack carried on, aware of the varied reactions and wanting to keep things moving along. “Our second guest is also from London, this time the south. She's in medical school and is described as a devoted sister and daughter. Please welcome Martha!”

The young woman who walked out had a beautiful dark complexion, bright eyes, a wide smile, and figure to compete directly against Rose's. She wore jeans, a red jacket, and had her hair pulled back into a messy bun. Her appearance drew a more unified cheering from the audience as she was an undeniable beauty.

That was also something the Doctor noticed, the difference in reactions. He speculated silently on what could account for it.

Our third guest is the only one not born on Earth, but her parents are both Human. She's an archaeologist and in line to become a professor. She describes herself as open to dating any species, and adores adventure. Please welcome River!”

River walked out, obviously older than either of the other guests so far. Given the uncertainty about judging ages, it was possible for some to wonder if she was older than Rose and Martha combined. She wore a slinky and shiny black dress, had curly blonde hair (that looked her natural color), and wore a big smile that bordered on a smirk. The reactions to her were also mixed; some seemed pleased that someone from a more mature age range was in contention, but others worried about whether the Doctor would like dating someone who looked older than him from the start of their relationship, or whether she was trustworthy based on the expression in her eyes.

The Doctor could not hide his cringe when her profession was stated. He had a long history of laughing and pointing at them, but he knew it was impolite to say anything about it. At least not directly. And the equally mixed reactions put him on his guard.

And finally, our last guest is from west London. She works through a temping agency, has a diving license, knows the Dewy Decimal system forwards and backwards, types at over 150 words a minute, and is seeking something meaningful to do with her life. She has friends from all walks of life, and doesn't judge based on how you live your life – as long as you don't hurt anyone in the process. Please welcome Donna!”

The woman who entered was a ginger at least several years younger than River could possibly be at the youngest. She was taller than Rose and Martha, with a curvy figure shown off by a black dress that showed more cleavage than she was comfortable with, emphasized further by the bow under her breasts. She won instant and nearly universal approval from the audience. Even those who did not like gingers could not deny that she looked spectacular, and more than a few of them hoped that she would do well. Or, if she failed, would spend a month with them instead.

Again the Doctor's eyebrow raised, wondering what about this Donna was so nice in the audience's eyes. But it was time for him to ask questions. At least he would know if he could stand the voice of any of these guests.

The Doctor's parents exchanged more worried looks as Hera breathed, “Two of the guests do not seem like matches for him just from how they act.”

Let us pray he has gained enough wisdom over the years to determine who is a good match for him,” Zeus said, also beginning to question the wisdom of their ultimatum. “I do wonder why the fourth had a longer introduction than the others.”

Jack grinned. “All right, Doctor! They have all heard a little about you, but now it's time for you to learn about them. And remember, ladies: Gallifreyans have a knack for knowing if you're lying, so don't even try to pull one over him.”

Rose shifted uncomfortably. She could obviously see a few things not going so well, or at least not to her plans. Not to mention that her bosom, which she had thought was ample, might not be up to the competition. At least the Doctor would not see any of them until he made his choice.

Martha sighed. Her expression showed that that sounded a bit refreshing, if disconcerting.

River shrugged. She was not bothered by it at all, but it was unclear whether she thought she could still withhold information.

Donna noted all of their reactions and rolled her eyes, evidently wanting to get on with things. She looked the least impressed with the knowledge, or perhaps the least one thinking of telling something other than the truth.

Jack turned to the Doctor. “So what's your first question, Doctor?”


Chapter Two

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
cannibalilly
Aug. 8th, 2015 10:17 am (UTC)
Oh, a dating show? I can't say I especially like them, but the idea of turning it into a big character study could be really interesting <3

“Humans,” he muttered. “They're great except when they're too much.” Amen!

Donna did get the longest introduction (and with that dress...) maybe Jack has already found his favourite for the Doctor ;) I'm looking forward to the next part!
tkel_paris
Aug. 8th, 2015 03:17 pm (UTC)
There have been only a very few that I found funny. I liked "Rendeview" hosted by Greg Proops. The commentary as the date progressed was priceless. Shame it was cancelled. This ficverse's show has some basis for me from an old US show called the Dating Game. At least what little I remember from other shows showing. :)

I think we can all agree on that one. :)

Donna is the one who feels she has the most to prove, the one with the issues that hit her the hardest. So she likely blabbed more than the others. Two of them have... ego to spare. The fourth is somewhere between them, at least at the start here.

Enjoy the ride!
briarpetal
Aug. 8th, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
I was just getting ready to turn off my tablet and go to sleep, it's 3:55 am here, when I checked my email one last time and found out you had posted a new story. I couldn't wait to read it! I'm not a fan of dating shows, but I love the idea of the Doctor choosing his wife this way.

I think the audience could tell that both Rose and River weren't right for the Doctor and that both Martha and Donna were much more honest about themselves. Well as much as they could be seeing as the audience is only going off of their body language at this point.

I usually don't like OC characters, but I loved the characters of Zeus and Hera when you used them before. Hopefully they'll be just as wonderful here.
tkel_paris
Aug. 8th, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC)
I set this to post automatically. I figured I'd need to be in bed by then. And I was. Drifting off more slowly than I liked.

I'll refer to the comments I left to canniililly's comment to answer some of your comment. It's something I hadn't done before and the idea amused me.

My beta wanted me to use those names again. It fits with the Greek themes that have slipped into DW here and there over the years.

More coming tomorrow! :)
tardis_mole
Aug. 8th, 2015 04:33 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love this. I hope Cassikat likes it just as much. :)
tkel_paris
Aug. 10th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
And she did. :D Thanks for your help with this!
tardis_mole
Aug. 11th, 2015 06:20 am (UTC)
You're very welcome.
cassikat
Aug. 8th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
Birthday pressie! Just when I thought it was going to be another craptacular day (long story), you save it! *squee*

And now, the reader reaction, rather than the very happy kitty reaction :D

OMG, I remember watching the Dating Game! Talk about flashbacks...though the host wasn't near as gorgeous as Jack *snicker* And it's very true, the audience reaction to the women being introduced can tell the poor schmo loads about them.

This is definitely an alternate reality, but I'm looking forward to it with baited breath. Especially if you're going to drop clues about who made Donna wear something fitted and emphasizing her body. ;) (And can I steal that dress description for later use in one of my fics? :D)
tkel_paris
Aug. 10th, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, you may steal that. I'm pretty sure it's becoming fanon among D/D shippers that she owns a dress like that. ;)

And as an extra treat, an Eight icon...
tardis_mole
Aug. 11th, 2015 06:22 am (UTC)
The black dress is one that CT wore to a do. I forget which do. All I remember is the dress. Known affectionately as 'THE dress'. :DDDDD
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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