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NEW: A Different Threefold Man (8/12?)

Title: A Different Three-Fold Man
Rating: T
Summary: Not even Caan could see every possibility. The Hand was far more aware than anyone gave it credit for, and it transformed itself into something different. Now Donna Noble and the Doctor have their work cut out for them.
Dedication: tardis_mole. This was provoked by “Another Fine Mess.” (Which is no longer on FF.N. Wait for TM to finish the mass posting to LJ to see it again.) You'll have to read it all the way through to have any clue why. And yes, I beta read that story, so in a tiny way I'm tooting my own horn in addition to TM's. ;D And thank you, my friend, for the chapter titles! :D
Disclaimer: Rose Tyler wouldn't have been anywhere near Series 4, and therefore this probably couldn't have happened, had I anything to do with owning these characters. I've lost all respect for the character, I freely admit it. Which means I've lost some respect for her creator. Shame, since he also created characters that I adore.
Author's Note: A new entry for the Alternate Handy Fanfiction Challenge. Nope, we haven't mined this one to death. Not at all! :D And there are still other possibilities! :D

Sorry for the long wait. I was working on my May Story a Day challenge. Worked on 42 out of 45 prompts in 31 days. :D Some won't see the light of day for a while. Others will once they're polished a bit. Others need expansion. :) Meanwhile, this needed polishing, too. Am hoping to make the next part polished soon, and then continue the story to finish it. :)

Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7

Chapter Eight: The Menace Tells All

Minnie Manton was coming home from the Tesco trip she made each week when she heard laughter. She glanced up and beamed. Her favourite pair of people were coming home from school, alternating between walking and running. It was good to see them smiling – they hadn't when they started school. They were each also a bit shorter then. “Hello!” she called out, waving.

Ben and Bella looked up from their impromptu race to wave back at the woman known as The Menace. Of course, Ben was too young to feel the reasons she had the nickname. “Need any help, Mrs. Manton?” they called as one.

“Only if you're not going to be late getting home.”

“Not today.” The twins jogged up to help their neighbor put her things away. After all, their mother and grandmother always said they needed to be neighborly. It built good will. Their father hadn't argued, reminding them of things he'd seen over the years.

Although his children were pretty sure the worst danger in this part of London was whenever West Ham and Mill Wall went up against each other. Their great-grandfather suspected that there were a few Mill Wall fans in the neighborhood, and they never reacted well to their team losing. Even winning wasn't pleasant for those around them. But that still couldn't compare with a war started over a simple, unintentional insult on some far-off world.

Mind, incidents over a loss had happened before and would happen again. As soon as their mother was more maneuverable, their father promised they'd take a long trip as a family in the TARDIS. In other words, once Mum had recovered from the pregnancy and the triplets' brains could handle being inside the Old Girl's time field.

Inside, they were finishing putting the perishables away when Minnie, having gabbed about the people she saw since they'd last spoken a few weeks earlier, turned her full attention on them. “And how's your mum? She doing well? Poor dear. Three at once! How far along again?”

The twins shared an amused exchange. It hadn't taken their parents long to make another child (neither would be surprised if it happened the wedding night, given the timing), but it seemed their mum's age had provoked her body into being ready to make multiples. Naturally, however, their mother had blamed their father. (Anger was just part of her way of dealing with things like massive surprises, even with her immense compassion and how badly she'd wanted to carry a child.) Bella had laughed when their father tried to point out the realities of fertility and conception, and Ben tried to pull him aside to point out how “you're not helping yourself, Dad.”

It got uglier before the Doctor decided to mostly just take his wife's frustrations after that. He wised to the reality that some things weren't worth arguing over. Finally.

They mentally tossed a coin, and Bella lost. “About a month left, assuming they stay in that long. The morning sickness has long gone. She's happy, even with the waddling.”

Minnie smiled knowingly. “Ah, she looks peaceful. Like an Earth Mother.”

Ben chuckled. “We'll tell her that. She'll laugh and say thank you.”

Donna Noble had become calmer the further along she was in her pregnancy. Oh, she was still more than capable of slapping someone into next year and could shout loud enough to be heard in Southend, but she didn't need to. She had the knowledge that she was being heard without needing to shout at the world. It was the greatest feeling, she said.

The twins figured it didn't hurt that she had a husband who didn't mind going out to obtain the weirder foods she craved. Sweetcure sun-baked hockle eggs with soured luchin bacon chips? A hop into the TARDIS to the right planet, order to go, and be back within seconds of departure. The TARDIS wasn't going on any other trips – she wouldn't do that to Donna, and she was having a little mercy on her Thief even if he was glad to do whatever it took to ensure the babies were healthy.

Which, once some of her senses became hyper-attuned, also meant keeping other things out of the house. That sometimes pained the twins. They discovered early on that they loved chocolate, but it was apparently a hazard to pregnant women, causing all sorts of nasty side-effects. Especially given the Gallifreyan genetics. So not one drop of chocolate could exist in the house – Donna could detect any present, thanks to a hyperactive sense of smell from the pregnancy. So the twins had to sneak all their chocolate at school or while otherwise out of the house. And rinse their mouths out so she didn't detect it. Although she usually suspected when they had – coming home with minty fresh breath was a dead giveaway.

Minnie looked at them oddly, surprised that they didn't pick up on her hint. “She ought to be proud, carrying the start of a new species.”

Their heads whipped around to look at her. She couldn't...could she?

She smiled gently at them. “I was a nurse for UNIT during the Omega Crisis, helped a lot of those poor lads die peacefully. You have no idea how much a little affectionate caring and flirting can soothe a dying soul. I heard of the Doctor from that, and I've seen how UNIT visits your home regularly. A good story about your mum and dad meeting sixteen years ago and him raising you, but I saw Donna during some of that time she ought to have been pregnant. She clearly wasn't.”

They squirmed. They'd fallen into the trap their father regularly did: not thinking the implications of a cover story through.

Minnie laughed lightly and reached for their nearest hands. “There, there,” she soothed, patting them, “you two are two of the dearest people I know. So you two are at least part alien. I won't tell. Why get anyone in trouble just because of where they came from? Besides, your great-grandfather clearly likes your father and adores the two of you. I wouldn't hurt any of you.”

The twins exchanged a relieved look. Who knew that they'd actually be grateful for Minnie's affection for Great-Grandy?

The old lady chuckled over their obvious nervousness. “I doubt anyone else has figured it out. They'd have to have paid attention, and most people made the mistake of ignoring your mum – unless to make sport of her. Well, not until your father put a stop to that.”

Yeah, the twins remembered, that was quite the moment. The Doctor was called to the school, told that his kids were involved in a fight. He arrived with Sylvia and Martha, who quickly helped him prove that Bella was just shoving away a boy who was trying to force himself on her and Ben acted in her defense. (The only reason Bella didn't take care of it herself was that it would've proved she wasn't fully human. Ben had mercifully gained some visible muscle mass, or the punch might've been hard to explain away.) And Bella wasn't the first girl he'd gone after.

Not a good day. Even after the kid was heavily disciplined and even brought up on criminal charges once another assault came to light.

But the story got out. More than a few parents thanked the Doctor – Dr. John Noble to all but those in the know – for helping stop a lad who could've turned into a nightmare. He wasn't surprised to learn the boy's father hadn't been a great role model, but it also came out that the boy's opinions about Bella came from his father's opinions about Donna.

Bella had inherited the curse of being a ginge with big knockers (after the growth spurt hit) with a whistle that could stop a football hooligan at twelve paces and who could explain the off-side rule. Donna herself had lots of takers, but no stayers.

The Doctor had been angry. So much that his manner turned into what Donna called The Oncoming Husband. Scared the hell out of the man with a look and some carefully chosen pointed remarks. Word quickly got out all over Chiswick and Ealing:

Don't give Donna Noble's husband reason to be angry with you. Anyone who ever groped her or tried to do more should steer clear of him.

“You two,” Minnie continued, drawing them out of their thoughts, “have done nothing to draw attention to yourselves, so rest easy.” She ruffled their hair affectionately. “Now I'm sure your mum is expecting you any moment. Go, and give my best to your great-grandfather, eh?”

Minutes later, Ben and Bella were walking slowly home, their mood rather contemplative. Best tell Mum and Dad, Bella finally said. Think anyone else has figured it out?

Ben sighed. Minnie's more observant than most in this area, and I know we've made the teachers think we just have photographic memories. But, yes. Still do that.

Especially with Mum's...situation.

They never used the word condition. They both knew it was stupid to call pregnancy a condition, but their father knew nothing about what a human woman could expect carrying one half-Gallifreyan child. (Honestly, no one did. Not with any records of Leela's child lost.) Add two more into the mix? The result was an over-protective Doctor dealing with the brunt of morning sickness that put Donna on bed-rest for two months until Martha and the TARDIS figured out some medicines that would lessen what most people called symptoms. Human biology adjusting to not attack the foreign aspects of their unborn children, their dad called them.

Two months where the Doctor learned a few important implications that attached to being married to such a brash creature. (Especially when her natural instinct was to snap when she was in extreme discomfort.) The biggest was that certain truths shouldn't be said. Ever. When she – suffering from a nausea bout that left her stomach hurting for a day – snapped at him for having super sperm, he protested that reproduction didn't work that way, that he had nothing to do with that aside from providing the genetic material and letting them do their thing.

Big mistake. The Doctor had never actually had a red mark from a slap before. Donna had yelled at him to get out of the room before she said something she'd immediately regret. In the kitchen, where the Doctor put a cold glass against his cheek, Bella glared at him while Ben spent several minutes telepathically mocking him. It was as interesting to Ben how pink his father turned from the neck up as it was so mortifying for the Doctor to hear his own voice using Donna's tone to explain why what he did was utterly daft.

It amused the twins, however, to see just how much their father started simply taking the verbal abuse rather than argue and therefore aggravate their mother. The overcompensating made Donna groan that they'd never have a good debate ever again.

It took the couple a month to figure out a new balance. The twins had never been more grateful.

At least, until the fifth month of pregnancy when they really had to resume practicing their mental shielding since their father wouldn't let their pregnant mother into the TARDIS except for a giant threat. A few times here and there they had to practice the shielding, as their mother found enough strength to...reward him...for some of the things he did for her. And the Doctor loved those rewards.

Shaking off the memories, they exchanged speculation on whether anyone else might have pieced things together until their home came into view. Great-Grandy's and Mum's. Sylvia had nearly fainted when she discovered that not only had her new son-in-law cleared the mortgage, but he also paid off their other debts. And bought the suddenly empty house next door.

The Doctor had gone from freaking out over domesticity to bypassing a mortgage and jumping into effectively owning a place outright – although placed in Donna's name. The twins hadn't quite been able to suppress their amusement, especially over imagining a certain person's conniption fit had she been able to know about the Doctor's choices.

The sight had become a comfort – it was their home on Earth. The only one they had since their father hadn't allowed them to go anywhere since the day they were born that wasn't local and within human walking distance – unless they had an adult drive them. Except for when the TARDIS sensed something happening in the 1800s in London. Their mother persuaded him to take them with him, and he found having them as companions comforting as he stopped a threat created by one of his past actions. Or possibly because of Rose's use of the Cannon. It wasn't clear which. The twins had to each resist the urge to crack a joke about how many more consequences would his not being honest with Rose from the start have in store for him. That would just be unkind.

Neither were surprised by the two unmarked cars parked in front. One was a welcome sight. The other, an expected one. The solider guarding the second vehicle gave away its origins. Well, Bella noted, UNIT is visiting Dad again to consult.

At least Martha's here, checking on Mum again. Ben perked up. Means Mickey's probably here, too.

Didn't Mum say something about the Brig and his wife joining us tonight?

Oh, yes, she did. Mum and Mrs. Lethbridge-Stewart got on so well. I think Dad was embarrassed when he realized just how many stories Mum could hear.

Smirking, they rushed to the front door of their Mum's home, nodding to the solider who snapped a quick salute as they passed. (Their feelings were more mixed on the matter than their father's were.) As they unlocked the door, their noses picked up on something wonderful. Gran was making dinner, and it smelled like one of her cooking for twenty quantities. It drew them quickly inside.

“Is that Trouble 1 and Trouble 2 I hear?” Mickey's teasing voice chimed from the kitchen. They heard Great-Grandy chuckle.

They moved to look into that room. One of the first things the Doctor had arranged was for the two kitchens to be merged into one bigger one, with the dining rooms combined as well. Meant they had room for more guests, and were much more prepared for an expanding family of new Time Tots. “No more so than usual,” they retorted. And nodded to the elder also sitting at the table with their father and great-grandfather. “Sir Alistair.”

The Brig chuckled. “Young Mr. and Miss Noble. Do join us. You can listen to the mess that your father and I are trying to solve today.”

The twins chuckled over the flicker of frustration on the Doctor's face. “Be back shortly. Bread smells great, Gran!”

“Oh, put your things away! I could use some help here. Your mum's in the living room.” Which meant this house's counterpart to where the twins had slept their first night on Earth. “Martha's with her. No telling how long this one will be.”

They smiled over her half-hearted rant. That explained the closed door on their right. “Right back!”

“Better be,” the Doctor grumbled, rubbing his temples.

They barely kept their amusement hidden from him. To prevent laughter, they swiftly walked (as their gran and mum forbade running inside except for dire emergencies) to their study room – which hadn't existed when they were born.

The first of the family projects as soon as the Doctor had cleared the mortgage (only Donna and the twins knew where the money actually came from, and the twins had tried to not laugh when Donna forced him to explain how – if he had all that money – he hadn't been carrying any when they met) had been to combine the houses and then expand just a bit. Despite managing to clear the three upstairs bedrooms, the Doctor and Donna had the sense that extra space would be needed if they were all going to have one roof over their heads on Earth.

The end result, made possible only because of some careful verbal maneuvering around the Council on their part, was two rooms expanded upstairs and a new one created – thereby connecting the upstairs halves. Downstairs was an extra, long and thin family room. All storage problems had been solved by pulling some items out of the TARDIS. Donna and the twins created a system for retrieving anything quickly, improving on the Doctor's haphazard system.

Sylvia was still unnerved by the ability to find things inside a storage box so quickly, but she stopped complaining when she was able to show off a cleaner house to the Wednesday Girls. And she took considerable pleasure in reminding her friends that her son-in-law wasn't that kind of doctor. She knew he was getting irritated with Suzette's questions about bunions, after all.

Although not nearly as much as when some of Donna's friends flirted with him. He'd beaten Donna to snapping at them the first time they did it. None dared a repeat. Especially if they'd been at the failed wedding to Lance.

The twins put their packs down in one of the old reception rooms downstairs. The other two were still used for storage, but this one had been converted into a place for studying and computer research. Mentally shaking off the day, they took a moment to walk into the new room to help shift gears.

They're coming soon, Bella thought.

Ben nodded. Mum will be glad.

They would all be. Donna complained regularly about feeling like a beached whale at best, a planet at worst. She looked passed ready to pop. They hadn't lied to Minnie Manton when they said if they stayed in that long. No one expected them to. Just reach the last of the Gallifreyan developmental milestones. That was what Martha, Donna, and the Doctor wanted to see before Donna went into labour.

The spare room was called the Play Room, which was the other place the downstairs were connected. Here was space enough for tussles without breaking anything, tickle fights, and larger games. Ceiling-length windows brought in plenty of natural light, and special blinds were there of they needed privacy or to block out the sunlight. Today it provided a view of the TARDIS' resting spot in the backyard, where she sat looking out for trouble.

The most prominent item currently in the room was a comfortable black sofa at one end of the room – brought in from the TARDIS – made of material designed to withstand colouring implements, spills, and sharp fingernails. Donna had trouble getting up off it by herself, worse than most other seats, and hadn't sat on it since it was brought in.

Toy chests were lined along one wall between the doors, each ready for the name of one of the triplets. A teddy sat on top of each one: one cherry coloured, one mint, and one lilac. The Doctor found them on the TARDIS, and the twins recognized them as once belonging to Susan – back from when One decided that she needed more Earth items to speak about. She'd been amused by them, even fond of the sight of them. Lots of hugs were needed then.

The twins stroked the fur, wondering for a moment what life would have been like had they been even younger when created. They shuddered when they had a flash of being babies. Oh, how awful that would've been! Having all those memories and not being able to talk properly aloud!

As they each contemplated how to tell their father that someone had figured enough out, they felt the TARDIS reach out to them. They blinked, sensing that she'd found something that needed checking. Why not ask Dad?

They tended to talk as one to the Old Girl. It was a habit that somehow started while they were still the Hand.

Not a good idea to make him leave your mother right now. And he wouldn't believe what I've seen.

But we're not allowed inside you! Not without him!

You need to break the rules this time. I will explain that I urged it. My Thief will understand in the end. You two will, too, when you see what I found.

Dubious, they silently made their way through the back door to the garden their grandmother and mother tended to, where the TARDIS remained truly out of sight of everyone with the perception filter. They hurried inside to the screen at the Controls, and simultaneously paled at the readings.

Yes, their father wouldn't believe it. Best to risk his ire and take whatever punishment he and Mum dole out, they sighed as they moved to fly the Old Girl.

Chapter 9: Girl Meets World


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 15th, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)
Yay for an update!! I love the twins. :D
Jun. 15th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Dear gosh, that's probably what Ben looks like! :DDDD

Thanks! Please send encouragement my Muse's way to help me finish this story at last. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
For a man who "doesn't do domestic", he sure jumped in with both feet! Twins and now triplets! Poor Donna. She's ending up with SIX children to take care of. :D And it's a good thing he finally figured out what NOT to do/say around a heavily pregnant woman!!!

I am really enjoying the simple, day-to-day feeling of this one. Kind of "A Day in the Life of the Time Family".

At least, I was, until the end. Now I am thoroughly intrigued. What could be so important that the TARDIS is encouraging them to break their father's rules?! This can't be good.

Keep writing!! :D

Jun. 15th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Hmm... That line might work its way into the final revision of the next chapter. ;D Well, I'll address that a little. :) And yeah, he needed to learn that lesson. :P

Is it? Well, thanks. :)

(Gollum voice): You'll see! Oh, yes! You will very soon see!

I will. :)
Jun. 15th, 2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
The "domestics" line? Take it, it's yours!

I think *all* men need to learn that. They just have no clue what they've gotten themselves into. :D

"My precious"!!

Jun. 16th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
It's in, slightly modified perhaps. :D

Amen. Some women, too. :( But men could use lessons starting in childhood.

I know a girl who used to be able to do a frighteningly accurate Gollum impression. She was four years old at the time. :)
Jun. 16th, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
Great! I'll look for it!

My nephew is amazing doing the Gollum voice. :) But he's in his 20s!
Jun. 16th, 2012 11:56 am (UTC)
Oh geez. Teen twins and infant triplets. Plus side, the twins are teens. They can babysit. Downside, the twins are teens. They will moan and groan about babysitting.

I see the Doctor got over his foot in mouth disease concerning Donna's pregnancy. Ha.

Something big must be going down for the TARDIS to insist the twins take her. Hopefully not too big. >_>

Loved it. =)

Jun. 16th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC)
The whole teens thing is true, but the twins don't like to be called on whining. Moaning and groaning is more going to be over other things, I suspect. :)

Yeah. He'll still have the disease. Just not connected so much to his wife. Unless he's being an idiot. :P

You'll see. As soon as I get the changes beta read, I'll post. Meanwhile, I'm also trying to finish the rest of the story. Three chapters to go, I think.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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