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FIC: Flipped, Book 3 (6/12?)

Title: Flipped, Book 3
Rating: heavy T, with some M/MA
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: David Noble thought he had come to terms with the strange feelings the female Doctor inspired, and it seemed to be helped by Martha Jones joining them. But when the Aubertide threaten the Doctor, protecting her requires a cover that will test his sanity and his ability to find the right thing to do. Written for tardis_mole.
Required Disclaimer: The summary should be enough to tell you I own nothing.
Dedications: My good friend tardis_mole, for helping me discover my talent at editing and for being an inspiration. You've challenged me to go beyond what I previously thought I would like, and so this is the farthest I've gone from my comfort zone so far. Who knows where I'll go next?
And another important shout-out: sykira, whose LJ post about John Barrowman's comments about how Doctor Who could eventually go was the ultimate spark for this idea. So I suppose that means the ultimate blame for this lies with the Barrowman. I can only imagine what he would think, although I suspect he would heartily approve. :P
Author's Note: Originally spawned from a different idea that split into three, this is a new version of one of those ideas revived as a birthday present. And it's spawned a slightly AU version as a Christmas present. The original prompt from TM boiled down to this: “The Doctor and Donna in a situation that's never been done before.” Ask and ye shall receive, my friend. Enjoy the second sequel. :D A VERY Belated Happy Birthday, TM! :DDD

Special Disclaimer: I refuse to be held responsible for any $2000/₤2000 lattes, spit-takes, fainting spells, workplace/school gaffes, or falling against/from things that might happen if you're not careful while reading this story. Especially in certain chapters. Read at your own risk. (I put this in because I was warned by one of my betas, cassikat, that my emails should come with a spit-take warning. So I'm looking out for y'all. ;D)

And TM, be careful that you don't hyperventilate from reading some of the sections. I know you. :P And so sorry for the delay. At least I have a legitimate excuse for not working on it last year; we had our balrog to work on. :D

Thanks to cassikat and bas_math_girl for betaing. Couldn't have done it without y'all.


Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five


Flipped, Book 3

Started July 14, 2013
Finished December 31, 2015


CHAPTER SIX: SANITY CHECKS

Mickey Smith was not sure what to make of the call he got yesterday from a woman he'd never met but who claimed to know David and the Doctor. Not that she had called the alien by the title she went by. The phrasing was so cryptic that he suspected something had gone very wrong and perhaps this Martha Jones was concerned about being tapped. And from what he'd learned from the impressive Sarah Jane Smith, there were plenty of candidates for suspected watchers.

Although that LINDA crowd was no threat. Not after so many of them had nearly died. They were quiet now, but looked out for information about the Doctor. Now they and that Clive bloke that David had met the day that Mickey was captured by the Nestene Consciousness were eyes and ears for new legends and stories appearing about the Doctor, which could be clues about either threats.

Or possibly a moment in a future Doctor's timeline, in which case Mickey was to keep his mouth shut. Spoilers, the Doctor had said. Never ruin someone's future by telling them too much.

He could appreciate the idea. He liked a little mystery about the life ahead of him, and he could imagine that the pressure of knowing what would happen might get to someone after a while.

How did the Doctor do it, being able to see so much of time all at once?

This meeting was to take place at David's house. And phrased so that he knew he couldn't tell anyone where he was going. So he had to get out of Tower Hamlets early to avoid the regular visit from Rose. She still came around, and he was tired of it. Unfortunately he wasn't quite fast enough to not be seen leaving in his Beetle, so he resigned himself to later on having to get Jackie to reign Rose in, again.

Although if things continued to go well with UNIT he would be able to get a place closer to work, even if he shared with someone else. He would still keep the Beetle as long as he could; there was something wonderful about not having a car payment.

He arrived to find three cars already parked in front of the house, not counting David's. One he recognized as belonging to David's friends, that nice lesbian couple with the twins and a baby on the way. (Twins he secretly suspected David had helped make, but he never said a word since if his mentor hadn't said a word than it was none of his business to know.) The second was Sarah Jane's car. He had to grin over the chance to speak with her again. She might have some good story to tell. But the third seemed on official business, like it was an unmarked government car. What was it doing at David's? Did it have something to do with the Doctor?

He parked, and braced himself. After the mess with the school, he knew to expect the unexpected where the Doctor was concerned. Especially given the trouble she, and previously he, seemed to attract without trying. No wonder his poor mentor was having to look into alternative headache remedies just so he wasn't taking too many pain relievers for his body's sake.

When he got out, he noticed that two of the other cars' respective drivers also got out. Sarah Jane was alone, as expected. But the other car's owner made him both grimace and chuckle. “Captain Cheesecake. What brings you here?”

Jack Harkness laughed. “That's Beefcake to you, Mickey Mouse,” he teased. “When are you going to get it right?”

Mickey rolled his eyes.

But the two men fist-bumped, showing a measure of respect. Then the Captain turned to the newcomer. “You must be Sarah Jane Smith. I've heard about you, and have long wanted to meet you.” His respectful tone and handshake belied the wish he followed through with: to kiss her hand like a worshiper on pilgrimage. Here was a companion who had seen the Doctor through some extremely difficult times, and the only other person he knew of who had witnessed regeneration from one body to another.

Sarah Jane smiled knowingly. “And I assume you're Jack Harkness of Torchwood. I've heard of you through my UNIT contacts. Did you hear of me through them or the Doctor?”

“Mostly UNIT, but David mentioned you a little the last time I saw him. You impressed him, and I get the feeling he's not easily impressed.”

“Highly intelligent people can be hard to impress at times,” she agreed.

Mickey sighed. “Anyone know what this is about?”

Jack shrugged, the act somehow making him seem even more American than he sounded. “Just a call from David telling me to get here as quickly and without fanfare as possible. Meant I had to borrow a car to complete the trip, since it was obvious I couldn't use the Vortex Manipulator I hid from the Doctor.”

Sarah Jane frowned curiously. “Vortex Manipulator?”

“I'll explain later. David sounded concerned, and I've never heard him whisper on a phone before.”

Mickey's eyes widened. “That is odd for him.”

So the trio walked to the front door. Before Jack could knock, the door opened and Mickey's jaw dropped.

Martha looked at the people before her. “Sarah Jane Smith, I presume?” she inquired softly, nodding at the sole woman in the group. She offered her hand to shake, which was somewhat numbly accepted. “My, you do look like the old pictures. I'm Martha Jones. I met... them at Royal Memorial Hospital, where I was spending part of my training as a... physician.”

The pauses were striking to the trio. She was telling the truth, but deliberately not speaking certain things. Particularly the Doctor's name. Even if it was technically not the meaning she meant, it was like she seemed nervous, even afraid to mention the word aloud.

Sarah Jane nodded. “Hello.”

Martha's eyes drifted to Mickey, and a mutual blush crossed their faces. “Mickey Smith? You must be. D... David Noble has spoken highly of you. Good to put a face to the voice.”

Although he didn't miss the hesitation over what was probably the word 'doctor', Mickey found his courage and accepted her handshake, holding on a moment longer than strictly necessary. “I'm glad you crossed his path so I could cross yours.”

She giggled a little, and almost looked grateful for the release. She gently tugged her hand free to greet the last member. “And you have to be Jack Harkness.” She threw him a teasing grin as she offered her hand. “I've been suitably warned about you.”

Jack had to grin wickedly as he shook her hand. “All of it bad, I hope.” He winked.

Mickey's eyes hardened suddenly, which Jack didn't miss. He let go of Martha's hand, throwing Mickey a knowing smile.

Mickey cleared his throat. “So... why are we here?”

Martha looked back and forth behind them, and stepped outside to whisper. “For her sake, you have to follow her and David's lead. Promise me you'll do it no matter what you're thinking, no matter how much you want answers right away. Promise!”

That made them all exchange disbelieving looks, but they nodded. Concern for the Doctor and for David overrode their worry about this young woman stepping into something she did not need to.

Satisfied that she'd done all she could, Martha opened the door and waved them silently inside. Once she closed the door, she called out, “They're here.”

A woman stepped into view from the kitchen, her hands wiping a plate dry with a towel. She looked like the Doctor, although her hair was pulled back with some clip, and she wore jeans with a purple top. Not the Doctor's typical dress. Only the trainers were familiar. And when she opened her mouth, it didn't quite sound like her either.

“Welcome, Mickey and Sarah Jane!” She beamed at them, increasing her speed with the towel. “It's good to see you both again! I'm glad my David's got such good friends. And who's this handsome man with you?”

All three froze solid. Especially Jack. There was no way the Doctor could forget a person. What the hell had happened?! He cleared his throat. “Captain Jack Harkness.”

David appeared behind the woman they assumed was the Doctor. He was dressed like he was about to go the clinic, and he was plainly flustered. “Um... Donna, Jack works for the government.”

“Oh, okay.” She turned back, and the trio had to put on pleasant expressions. Martha's was stuck in a tight range of the same cover. Donna smiled. “Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but Nerys went into labour and I promised I'd watch the twins for them. I'm so sorry I can't be a good hostess today.”

Sarah Jane decided to risk a question. “I thought they had a sitter.”

“Oh, the sitter has another obligation. Good that David brought us back from Gretna Green so quickly.”

The name made Jack and Sarah Jane start before they could suppress it. Mickey just wondered why they were so shocked. Only then did his eyes notice the matching gold glints on the left ring fingers of both David and Donna. That made him freeze.

Luckily for them, Donna didn't notice. She just looked at David lovingly. “Shall I stop at Tesco, get us things for dinner? With some extras just in case we need to keep the twins through dinner... or longer?”

“Um, sure. That sounds lovely. Not sure how long I'll be the clinic, but my colleagues promised to try to get me out early.”

The twins appeared, looking at the newcomers with cautious smiles. They waved silently as David took the dish and towel from Donna. She smiled and grabbed a purse that none of the trio had noticed. “Come on, sweethearts! We'll go and visit the park today. Let's put some speed on it.” She took a hand from each of them, leaned up and briefly kissed David, leaving him even more visibly flushing. “Lovely to see you all. Mickey, I can't wait to hear how you're coming along and hear what you think of Martha.” She grinned more at the matching blushes. “Sarah Jane, we must spend some time together. Captain Harkness, I'm sure I'll see you around.” There was an accompanying cautious look of warning as she said it, and then she was smiling as she led the children out of the house.

Only once Martha saw that she had led them to their mum's car did she relax at all. “Okay,” she said softly. “We can talk now.”

Jack was first. He turned to David and let loose with the questions. “Okay, what the hell happened to her? What's with the rings? Why has she suddenly changed her look that much? I mean, we all know that she likes to keep it to a few looks at most. What's with the accent change? And why is she suddenly being so free with her feelings for you? And what the hell happened to you?”

That snapped David out of his trance, and made him blush all the harder. He waved them into the kitchen, where tea awaited them. He cleared his throat after pouring and sitting down. “I don't want to have to repeat this story here. Let Martha and me tell you, and then ask questions.”

Only when he got the three nods he wanted did he and Martha launch into the tale of how an innocent day turned nearly deadly for the Doctor. How she had to hide until the Aubertide were dead, and the cover the TARDIS created turned out to be as the newly minted Mrs. David Noble. How he had to keep the cover no matter what?

Jack of course read between the lines. “And she seduced you well and good last night.”

David groaned. Trust Jack to sense even a whiff of sex in a house.

“And judging by those lovely lines of exhaustion on your face, I'm betting she gave you a helluva wake up call.”

David covered his face, trying to not completely change color. It had never occurred to him to think that a virgin could have ways of perfecting womanly wiles until she found the right man to practice them on.

Jack laughed, although it was plainly covering his nervousness. “Where the hell did the TARDIS get that knowledge from? Or did the Doctor have some experience we don't know about?”

Mickey cleared his throat to protect his friend's pride and dignity. “So... what now? What are you going to do? Does she need a job?”

Clearing his throat and pretending he wasn't as red as the Doctor's hair, David exhaled loudly. He also tried to not think about the things Martha had hinted about learning yesterday, some of which Donna had confirmed this morning or already told him during dinner the night before. Or just the night before. “I'm thinking based on the documents the TARDIS produced that I can convince a temp agency to hire her. She needs something to keep her busy, even if that means I'll have to get another car. She has this CV the TARDIS prepared, and she has skills that would be in demand. Noticed this morning that she really can type 150 words a minute, and files like nothing else. She'll be hired in a pinch. I just need to find a place that I can trust.”

Jack perked up, expression professional. “You know, the London branch of Torchwood has been cleaned up. I'm sure I can get her an interview.”

Sarah Jane shook her head. “No, I'll call UNIT. I still have connections there, and they still have the Doctor on the payroll. They were asking questions last year about why a woman had been using... John Smith's money on Christmas Eve and since. I had to calm them back last April. They'll hire her, be willing to keep an eye on her when you can't.”

David sighed in relief, practically sagging in his chair as some tension blissfully left him. “That'd work. That'd work beautifully. Keep her out of trouble, and there'd be some people around with a shot of protecting her.”

Sarah Jane leaned in. “But how are you? What's bothering you so much?”

Jack nodded. “He was probably working himself into a panic yesterday over how he had to protect the best friend who turned out to be in love with him and then... changed into a woman, without causing hurt that would hinder the protection. It's like her feelings have gone straight into Donna.”

Mickey looked at him. “You feel guilty over doing what you... had to do as a husband?”

David rubbed his neck. “I don't know if there wasn't something I could've done to distract her. She was so intent on...” He blushed.

Jack thought about making a few naughty jokes, but he could tell they were all inappropriate. He turned sympathetic eyes on his friend. “You're scared about what'll happen when she comes back. That you've betrayed her by giving in.”

A slow nod was the answer.

Mickey turned to Martha. “Oh, this probably wasn't what you signed up for when you joined them.”

She shook her head with a tiny smile. “No, I didn't. Didn't sign up for anything I felt, either, but it was like they only had eyes for each other – whether they'd admit it to themselves or not.” She wasn't about to admit to the two sides of the situation that she'd heard. She was going to keep her promises. At least either until they no longer needed her to keep their secrets or unless she had no choice but to tell the other's side to the respective parties.

David shook his head. “No! I won't deny I... that I've lusted after her, but nothing else can happen.”

Jack frowned. “You'd turn down someone who's perfect for you just because her biology had her born a man? She's been all woman since Christmas 2005, right?”

“That's not the point, Captain Innuendo!”

Sarah Jane took David's hands in hers. “David, you're going to give yourself a stroke the way you're carrying on.”

“I'm not going to have a stroke. It's not an accurate picture of stress. Strokes need other things in place in order for them to happen.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Figure of speech, young man. Now listen to me.”

He went silent, looking at her like she held the answers of the universe. Not to mention she had never addressed him in reference to his age compared to hers before.

She held his gaze. “Fighting with yourself is only going to attract questions from her, which will make it harder for you to hide her or hide the truth from her. You do have feelings for the person she became over a year ago. Your guilt means you respect the person she once was, and that instinct is good. But you can't let this destroy you in the meantime.”

“What would you have me do?” His question was almost too quiet to be heard by human ears. “I can't forget that the Doctor was once male.”

Luckily, Sarah Jane had some practice with noticing things that others would have missed. “Don't get hung up on a quirk of the Doctor's species. The Doctor has never had good luck with regenerations until this time, and I doubt it was intentional. Take this as an opportunity to learn what might be possible. Give yourself permission to love Donna Noble freely. It's the only thing you can do that won't destroy you while we're waiting for the danger to pass. And don't underestimate her. Maybe things won't go pear-shaped when this is all over. Maybe it'll be better.”

David plainly didn't believe her. But he had to think about what the struggling would cost him and Donna. Maybe she was right on one level.

Didn't mean he was comfortable with it, or that he liked it. “I... I don't love her.”

Martha snorted. “Come on. I didn't endure a crush on you only to quickly see that your attention was solely on her.”

He flushed harder. “Come on, you have an idea of what she looks like! Ask me if anyone attracted to women wouldn't react to her!”

“David,” Mickey interjected. “The more you protest, the less you're going to convince us.”

That silenced him. At least until Martha noticed it was time for him to head to the clinic. And he rushed in his preparations to get there. Taking care of others now seemed a welcome escape from the farce that his life had become. He urged Martha to lock the doors behind her, since she had been given a spare key in light of the complications.

Once he left, Mickey looked at the others. “What's it going to take for him to relax about this? He's going to drive himself crazy thinking like that. Like it's so critical to preserve what was that the future might be damaged.”

Martha frowned. There was what she knew, but she wanted a second opinion. Or a third and even a fourth. And here they were. “Mickey, what were your impressions of them? How did they feel then? Or... did you notice anything in the face of the adventures?”

The question seemed an admission that maybe as a bloke he wouldn't be wired to think that way. He shrugged, giving a tiny smile of thanks for not assuming that he could read others thoughts that well. “Her feelings were obvious. If there wasn't something major going on that required her attention, her eyes drifted to him every time. His? God, I'm not sure. He's always been... fond of... you know who. Even back when. He's loyal to those he calls his friends. I do know he's attracted to her, and bet he has been since she first appeared. So I can imagine he's felt conflicted.”

Jack sighed. “Shame he wasn't raised in my century. He'd have no problems.”

Sarah Jane looked at Martha. “How are you going to help keep an eye on her? You said you're in training still.”

“And will be for a while yet. But I've managed to gain contacts thanks to David, and if UNIT can help then maybe I can continue training and yet keep my word.”

“My friends will look out for her. I'll get the interview set up as a cover to conceal how she really got the job, but it should be a formality. But we all have to help David. He needs guidance on what to do. How do you convince someone it's okay to love the person they've become when they were first someone else – and you saw the change? I've sort of been in the same situation, but far less complicated since it was still... the same man, in a way. I don't know what else to tell him.”

Not even Jack had ideas. For all his fifty-first century mores, he was drawing blanks. And he hated that.

CHAPTER SEVEN: HEART-MELTING SIGHTS ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
bas_math_girl
Dec. 30th, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
Donna, what are you doing leaving the house like that when you have guests; your husband's friend? Tisk tisk. Very rude. Although I understand perfectly to get her out of the way so that they could talk properly.

Trust Jack to sense even a whiff of sex in a house.
Oh I trust him alright. To do that and more. :D

Poor David having to defend his moral code and newly formed sex life. Such scrutiny will do Donna and David an injury. No wonder he fled as soon as he could. Who wouldn't?

Good to see how smitten Mickey instantly was with Martha. YAY!
tkel_paris
Dec. 30th, 2015 06:44 am (UTC)
Nerys is in labour, and I think David agreed to find a way to help out. Besides... Donna's thinking about showing how ready she is to be a mummy to children he can freely call his own. And there was NO WAY they could talk with the children around. Plenty of things short ears don't need to know.

Amen. :P

Which is why SJ was urging him to accept it. I know. :(

Of course. Something David's probably thought in the back of his head for a while. Sadly the meeting couldn't happen until now. But... :)

BTW, love the icon! :DDDDDD
tardis_mole
Jan. 2nd, 2016 11:50 am (UTC)
Ouch on the use of Lesbian. Forgiven since this was set before the change was made.

Question. If it's unmarked government car, how do you know it's a government car?

Oh the tangled web David has woven for himself. If he just untangled that and put it aside, he'd find out that the rest wouldn't be quite the mess he's expecting it to be.
tkel_paris
Jan. 3rd, 2016 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oops... And this is part of why I hate having to work without you. I may need to create a cheat sheet for these occasions.

I think he's been around enough that he's developed some sixth sense about it. Especially now that he works for UNIT.

Yeah. And that's the key, getting him to untangle it and look at it differently.
tardis_mole
Jan. 3rd, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
There were a heck of a lot of Americanisms in the dialogue as well, which I ignored. The story is too good to nitpick. :)

Right. Go Mickey. I doubt anyone else has that particular sense. Otherwise, there would be a lot more terrorist attacks on a lot fewer vehicles.

Yes. Looks like he did for a while. Until Donna tells him her news. *gulp*
tkel_paris
Jan. 13th, 2016 03:19 am (UTC)
Well, thanks. Still, I'd almost like to correct them.

Ugh. True.

Yep...
tardis_mole
Jan. 13th, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC)
Leave it as it is. It's brilliant. :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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