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FIC: A Different Threefold Man (10/12)

Title: A Different Three-Fold Man
Rating: T
Author: tkel_paris
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.” 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 delay. Muse had a lot to work on. And there'll be more delays - the next two parts need a LOT of work, and 11 needs denaturing work for FFN, thanks to the ratings changes. *Meh* But I had to post to challenge BMG's upcoming "birds and bees" talk in "Following the Star". ;)

Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3 / Chapter 4 / Chapter 5 / Chapter 6 / Chapter 7 / Chapter 8 / Chapter 9

Chapter Ten: The Birds, the Bees, and the Bewildered

When Sylvia Noble finally recovered her ability to speak, the first thing she did was to step next to the floor-slapping twins who were acting more like nine years old rather than almost fifteen. “Oi! Get up and help me serve dinner! And wash your hands!”

The twins slowly did, struggling to restrain themselves. They also made a point of not looking at their parents, their sister, or each other – they felt like anything could set them off again. And the memory of their father rubbing a hand down his face, trying to decide how to react, was a picture – he was torn between mortification and laughing, and struggling to ruthlessly suppress the latter reaction in the face of the glares from their mother.

Seeing that Donna and the Doctor needed longer to recover, Sylvia quickly set about dishing a little of everything onto a plate. “Here, Jenny,” she announced, moving faster than usual to start plating the first course. But ahead of that was offering her new grandchild little tastes of each item. “I don't know what you've had of human food, but try all of these. It's an old family recipe.”

She was operating on the assumption that if you fed a kid, they would stop asking embarrassing questions for a while. It didn't work forever, but it gave the adults a chance to think about how to handle or deflect them. Mind, deflecting only worked so well with a really intelligent child – let alone a genius-level teenager. And she now had three of them to deal with, even if one was completely ignorant of real-world matters.

Still, it worked. Jenny was quickly engrossed in asking questions about the roasted chicken, the stuffing, and the vegetables that were cooked much of the afternoon. In fact, she was filled with curiosity about the room and the equipment.

Jenny soon noticed that she was exhausting her Gran's knowledge. Not that her adopted human grandmother was stupid, but her focus had been on other things. She tried to back off and change tacks whenever she noticed Gran stumbling for answers.

Mind, she wanted more to know what her siblings had found so funny about the earlier questions. Why did the others look shocked, and why had her parents gained such a flush in their complexions? It seemed life outside of war and fighting was far more complicated than strategy and tactics could ever be. Strange thought. And then, why did it take so long for her parents' faces to go back to what they'd been when they accepted that she really was there? What was the problem with asking how reproduction worked?

She pondered it all – in-between her questions – as she kept receiving samples from her gran. She had only had the ration packets from the shuttle, and those she had done her best to make last. She ate only a little at a time, until she had to rely on whatever she found on her travels – but she wasn't sure how good her scanners were and had to commit some food to testing. She wasn't used to having so much at a time, and realised she was extremely hungry.

Now her challenge might be figuring out when to stop. She hoped her body had some cues – she knew basically nothing about her dad's people and their biology. Except that they could apparently cheat death in a way. Bella and Ben had mentioned little, which she understood. They were focused on getting home so Mum and Dad could know.

Really, she was happy to be on Earth at last. She'd seen the TARDIS, even if only a little bit, and now had so many people she could ask questions of. It was a great big adventure!

If on the quiet side.

“Didn't you two feed her?” Her dad's voice broke into her thoughts, sounding a bit more composed if quiet.

Jenny looked up to find people were sitting around one of the tables. Eleven chairs, including her mum's comfortable one, had been set up around it. The chairs were a mish-mash of items, although six of them looked like part of a matching set.

Bella and Ben were helping to bring the remaining plates to the table for passing around, and shook their heads. “We wanted to get home straight away,” she said.

Her brother added, “And she wanted to see you.”

Jenny thought the smiles on her parents' faces then were quite nice. Although she didn't know what to make of the smirks she saw on Martha and Mickey's faces.

Soon she was seated between her great-grandfather and her father. Conversation flowed between the others as she filled her stomach with foods that she'd never heard of before but tasted amazing. The flavours from the first bites did seem to fade a little. Something about how your mouth acclimatised to whatever you're eating and then you don't enjoy the remaining bites as much, her dad explained.

Another odd thing, but not critical, to think about. Especially because there was enough variety and everything tasted wonderful enough that she just kept eating.

Although she'd had to watch how the people around her eat. Forks and knives – those were foreign objects to her before coming to Earth. Her rations could be eaten by hand, sipped through a straw, or spooned into the mouth with a biodegradable spoon. Evidently she now had to learn about what her Gran called table manners. And she overheard her mum joke to Martha about how atrocious her dad's had been before she managed to teach him.

Come to think of it, her dad was acting considerably deferential toward her mum. She'd seen a lot of places where the woman had to defer to the man, on pain of death. It'd made things tricky while she was on her own, and ensured she had to run a lot. How much did that have to do with the... pregnancy? Then again, her mum had corrected her dad several times on Messaline, and he'd listened where he'd previously been hell-bent on following whatever he thought was right.

Very interesting.

As Gran gathered plates after dessert was served, Jenny let hers be taken away. Her siblings had been recruited into helping, and had stopped laughing at odd moments. Talking about school – the odd place where they had to learn what others their apparent age were did – evidently did that for them. She would have to see this school to know why. So many questions.

In fact... she remembered that she'd been interrupted by her siblings' laughter when she had questions about this... pregnancy that caused the bump in her mum's abdomen. “Mum? Dad?”

The Doctor, who had been having a silent conversation with Donna through their bond, turned hesitantly. “Yes?”

Donna looked up a moment later from her tea, also cautious.

Jenny decided to cut to the chase. “How does pregnancy happen?”

Her parents paled. “Oh my god,” Donna muttered. “Not the birds and the bees now...”

The Brig flashed an uneasy smile. “On that note, I believe it's time for us to leave.” He and Doris stood up. She looked flushed, and rather eager to avoid witnessing the upcoming moment. “Mrs. Noble, Mr. Mott, thank you for dinner.”

Sylvia smiled graciously, accepting the handshake. Wilf answered for both of them. “Always a pleasure, sir.” He snapped a salute, which the Brig returned.

“Doctor, I will see you in a month.” He shook his old friend's hand heartily. “Good luck with everything,” he added meaningfully.

The Doctor grimaced. Yes, he also meant the babies, but this... newest challenge was now the primary focus.

“Take care, Donna.” The Brig took her proffered hand, bowing a little over it, which never failed to make her smile. He noted a tiny flinch this time, but chose to ignore it. He nodded to the twins, who were helping wash plates. “Young Mr. Noble and Miss Bella. Until next time.”

Bella and Ben smiled, nodding back. Yes, Jenny's being there meant that Bella would be addressed a little differently now.

The Brig extended his hand to Jenny, and she handled the handshake perfectly. “An honour to meet you, Miss Jenny. May your adjustment to Earth be smoother than your father's was.”

Jenny wondered what he meant, but nodded. She saw her father tense out of the corner of her eye. Clearly that was not a subject he was ready to talk about. Okay, she would accept that for now.

Indeed, the Doctor was flinching over the memory of feeling like a duck swimming around a tiny hole in a frozen pond. He had the TARDIS, but she couldn't move and he couldn't fly her. Horrible time for him and the Old Girl.

“Mr. Smith, Dr. Jones. I will see the two of you much sooner.” The couple still seated nodded, and stood – as was fitting.

Moments later, when they heard the Brig's car driving away, Jenny turned to her parents. “Why did he leave?”

“Sir Alistair is a busy man,” Donna quickly said. “And not a young one, either. He needs his rest.”

Jenny looked out the kitchen windows. “But it's still daylight.”

“The older we humans get, Jenny,” Wilf stated, sitting back down next to her, “the easier we get tired. And I'm sure he wanted time with his wife. That's what a married man does when he's in love.”

Married. Another word she needed explained to her. But Jenny figured that if she asked about that, she would only be delaying the answers she really wanted.

The only thing that baffled Jenny was the occasional wincing her mum did. She also noticed that as the dinner progressed, Bella and Ben were watching their mum more and more. Their earlier laughter had now vanished completely. Jenny blinked, trying to figure out what could be happening. Since Gran and Great-Granddad – the other name to call him by – were picking up plates to clean, Jenny took advantage of a lull in the talking. “Mum? Are you alright?”

Sylvia looked back toward the table, eyeing her daughter's posture. Martha also looked extremely interested in the answer.

Donna nodded slightly. “I'm fine,” she softly said. “Why?”

The Doctor caught her eye, looking very pensive. “Donna, you've been wincing about every 12 minutes now. You're sure you're not... feeling anything?”

She shook her head. “No. I'm wincing?”

He nodded.

Martha got up. “I'm grabbing the scanner. I want to check you again.” She rushed into the other room to retrieve her bag.

“These could just be Brakston-Hicks again,” Donna insisted, trying to keep her calm.

Bella grimaced. “Mum, remember whose kids they are. The timing they might have – or lack thereof?”

“Thank you, Bella” the Doctor muttered sarcastically, not taking his eyes off his wife. And ignoring the snickering of his son and Mickey.

“What are Brakston-Hicks?” asked Jenny.

There was a brief moment where every head in the room looked at each other. Jenny's family was trying to figure out who should handle this one. Even Bella and Ben were looking weary, even as they thought at each other, At last, a sensible question.

Martha sighed loudly as she opened her bag. “They're like practice contractions for labour. Gets the body primed for when the babies are ready to be born.”

Jenny frowned. “What are contractions?”

The twins groaned, and then face-palmed themselves. “Can we just hand her some books?!” Ben begged.

Bella nodded behind her hand. “I know we have an anatomy book, but we could always grab Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth! That'd fit Jenny's age group. Or perhaps the classic Where Did I Come From? which I know is hiding around somewhere. Maybe that would work for starters, even though it's a kid's book. Please let me go and grab them!”

Ben snorted. “Dad was certainly entertained by that book.”

The Doctor covered his face with one hand.

“Oh, flipping heck!” Donna cried out of aggravation. Not from the pain she was now rather aware of. “Okay, Jenny. The short version of the birds and the bees, in human terms. Although it seems to work in a similar way for Time Lords. Women have the... receptacle organ you mentioned. We carry eggs to be fertilised. Men have one that's for transferring their seed, called sperm, into the woman. That happens through an act called sex, which can be done whether the couple wants to make a child or not. If one of the sperm meets the egg, and all goes well, about 38 weeks later, give or take, the woman gives birth to a baby. That's a very small person who's completely dependent on his or her parents for everything. I don't know about Time Lord pregnancies – there's a lot of information lost on that. Sometimes you get more than one baby, which happened here,” she finished, pointing at her distended abdomen as her face continued to try to match her hair.

Jenny didn't think her eyes could have gone any wider.

The Doctor rubbed his neck awkwardly throughout the explanation, hoping against hope that Jenny would accept that, and not ask for in-depth descriptions. Besides, he was positive that the contractions were growing closer together.

Ben and Bella glanced at each other, finding a smirk. “Any questions, sis?” they asked.

The others exchanged disbelieving looks. That had to be the frankest and yet least detailed talk known to mankind on the subject. Although not the shortest.

Jenny pursed her lips. “Well... what are the organs?”

Her parents had not thought their faces could turn any redder. Mickey and Martha couldn't stop themselves from laughing.

The twins' smirks grew bigger. “Mum, Dad,” Bella said, eyes twinkling like her father's, “shall we go and get those books Gran got for the future?”

Ben added, “How about the anatomy books? Maybe some pictures would answer Jenny's questions.”

Donna groaned. “I need to walk a bit.” The Doctor helped her slowly get to her feet, her every movement being watched carefully by the entire room. “Fine! You can do that! My backache's getting worse!”

Martha frowned as she scanned Donna. “Well, no sign of any prolapsed cords, thank god. How far apart, Donna? How strong?”

The Doctor tried to listen through the bond, but Donna was waving them both off. “I'm telling you, I'm-”

Her words cut up on a scream as liquid splashed to the floor at her feet. The Doctor paled, the twins' jaws dropped, and Jenny stared in shock.

“Oh, sodding 'eck,” Donna whispered.

“Doctor, help her walk around a bit,” Martha ordered, rescanning for prolapsed cords, just in case. “It'll help things along a bit. When the contractions are five minutes apart, help her upstairs to get ready for the birth. She's dilating faster than I expected.”

“I'm walking! Else he'll break his back!” shouted Donna.

“You're still not that heavy, Donna!” the Doctor insisted.

Martha decided to intervene. “Ben, Bella! Get ready, show Jenny what to do.”

Jenny shook her head. “Do what?”

Bella grabbed her by the hand. “Come on!” She dragged her out of the room, into their half of the home.

Jenny looked back when her mother cried out incoherently. “What's happening to Mum?”

Ben led them upstairs. “It's called labor. It's how you get those babies out of the body.”

“Martha called it giving birth. Why?”

They were upstairs and rushing to a tallboy – a wardrobe with drawers – in the hall. Ben opened it in a flash and grabbed a pile of clothing, as well as a circular object with an opening on the top. “Because she's gonna push the babies out of an opening that dilates to let them out. Else we'd have to cut them out of her, and she'd raise hell about that unless it was necessary.”

Jenny didn't have a chance to react. He opened another door, rushed inside with his things, and closed it.

She blinked when she heard something start running, and the sound of rushing water hitting something else. “I... I don't understand any of that or why he needed new clothing. And what is that room?”

Bella sighed and rubbed her face, acting very like her father. “Oi, who has to explain simple things about living, let alone the birds and the bees, to their big sister?!” She dragged Jenny into her room, rushing into the closet to put together another batch of clothing – they only had one set for a female ready, and Jenny was a little shorter than her as well as a little smaller. “We need to be present for the birth, and we need special clothing because the babies are going to be born smaller than ideal. It just happens with multiples.”

“What's the birds and the bees?”

She flinched. “Ooh, I should've seen that one coming.” Her hands flung back into her closet. “That room in the hall is a bathroom. It's where we clean ourselves after a long day or such. I'll be showing you how to use it, just in case your download didn't include it. You should know how to use a loo, though.”

Jenny watched in confusion as Bella moved from the storage area full of garments to a free-standing storage unit, opening it. She pulled out trousers, which Jenny recognised, and something else that she didn't.

“Anyway, that object is a sanitiser that eliminates anything that could be harmful to this planet – but especially to Mum and the babies. It's running while we each take a quick shower, another thing you should know how to use. As for the birds and the bees... It's an old saying. I don't know where it came from or what each part refers to. It's a saying for explaining sex and reproduction to kids. And this is my bedroom.”

Jenny frowned. She opened her mouth, but stopped when they heard their mother cry out again. Then words floated their way.

“Damn it, Spaceman! If you ever want me to think about doing this again, you'd better make sure I don't carry another commando unit inside me!”

Or, more accurately, blasted their way.

“Donna, if I could control that, I would for your sake!”

“Oi, don't snap at me, smarty-pants!”

“Doctor, we'll let her walk about a minute longer,” they heard Martha say. “Then we'd better get her upstairs. She's already in transition and close to the second stage. I'm guessing they're impatient – which I wasn't expecting for a first-time birth, let alone for multiples.”

“There were rumors that Gallifreyan birth could be quick,” the Doctor said tensely, alarm blasting through.

Jenny cringed as she heard what she thought was her mother making pained cries that ended on whimpers.

“Donna!” Martha cried. “Don't push yet! We need to get you upstairs! Doctor, help her stay calm.”

“Easy for you to say!” snapped Donna. “That's like asking Moby Dick to turn black!”

It sounded like the Doctor choked trying to not laugh. Bella snickered.

Jenny turned to her sister.“Does anything about Earth make sense?”

Bella laughed and led her back into the hall. “Oh, just wait until you meet other humans. Trust me, this house will make perfect sense compared to them. And I say that with love, coz some of them are my good friends.”

They heard the water stop running inside the bathroom. The mechanical sounds of the sanitiser kept going. Ben seemed to be rushing through his next actions.



“What is that thing with a clasp in the back?”

Bella blinked for a long moment. “You've never heard of a bra?!” she breathed as Ben opened the door.

He'd thrown on tracksuit bottoms, and his polo shirt was completely undone. He heard the question and laughed. “I'm betting hers is built into her top.” He smirked, and waved to them. “All yours, ladies.”

His twin stuck her tongue out at him. “Call yourself a gentleman, do you?”

“Hey, I had a head start on Dad!”

“Ben, why is your shirt undone?”

They laughed, leaving Jenny even more confused as Bella dragged her inside the room. “We'll explain in a moment,” Ben called after them.

Inside, the bag that Ben had dragged inside was filled with everything he had been wearing, although left open. Jenny had downloads about loo facilities, and could figure out how to operate everything. Although what those rolls of paper near the toliet were for baffled her.

And it was a big surprise to see her younger sister strip down rapidly, and shuffle the curtain around to step in and start using the shower. It wasn't a true shower for them, Bella explained as best she could through the water noises, but enough to get them clean to help their Mum and Dad.

She had had barely enough time to take in everything properly and examine the sanitiser unit when Bella stepped out, grabbed a towel, and ordered her to strip and get in. Which she did. Luckily, the objects used for cleaning – along with the words to describe them and the ability to read directions – were included in her download. Soldiers did have to clean after battle, after all. Made you less likely to be found if you didn't smell. And she was nothing if not quick.

Before long, she finished the instructions and turned off the shower. She pushed aside the curtain, and found a towel handed to her. As she dried off, she noticed that Bella was folding her hair into a bun, held back by some unusual hair objects. She was ordered to brush her hair out, and then to get into clothing like Bella's.

A simple button-up green blouse – whereas Bella's was purple – and trousers like Ben's and made of a material Jenny did not recognise. Bella only buttoned her shirt a little, exposing something rather like the confining object she had grabbed earlier. Jenny was rapidly led through how to wear a bra – oh, so that was the thing inside her shirt! – and then hurried as Bella said to 'put some speed on it.'

Once she was clothed to Bella's extent, and her hair held back by something Bella called a clip, Jenny was led into the hall again. It was awfully quiet. No sounds of screaming, no commotion, nothing. She opened her mouth to ask, but Bella rushed to another door and opened it. “Come on!” she hissed, waving her along. “We're going to need to practice being quiet!”

Jenny followed into another odd room, and took it in as Bella closed the door almost completely behind them. There was a large bed in the middle, and a few storage items around the room. It was oddly pleasant to look at, with a mixture of styles and elements that somehow combined into a functional and elegant place. Jenny had often marveled over how people chose to keep their space if they were not fighting a war, but there was something unusually comfortable about this one – appealing to senses and needs she did not know how to name, let alone understand.

Standing near another door, Ben held a book in his hands, but he wasn't reading. He was staring into the room beyond the open door. It appeared to be another bathroom, but it was clearly larger than the one Jenny and her siblings had used. She could hear a quiet commotion inside, and saw her gran and Martha murmuring over something on a scanner held in the latter's hands.

Jenny stepped closer for a better look. There were all the same items inside, but it also had what was apparently called a bathtub. And that sight had her stop in shock, whispering to Ben, “What's that bag by Dad's side, why is he shirtless, and why's Mum naked in the tub?”

Chapter 11: Pushed Out


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 11th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
I had to go back and re-read several chapters to get my bearings. But then I remembered just how much I love this. And how glad I am that you have come back to it!!

And now begins all the embarrassing "Jenny needs to be educated" questions! *snicker* I loved Donna just blurting out the basic facts of reproduction just to shut everyone up! I guess having the Doctor's DNA doesn't get her access to his mind!

I am intrigued at to what Ben and Bella are preparing to do, and how they and Jenny all fir into the actual birth process. And the bag???? Should I know this? Or am I just obtuse today??

Thanks for updating this, and any and all others you intend to!
Feb. 11th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I suspect the FFN readers will need to, too. And I'm glad to get another bit done. :D

Oh, this is a fun thing, eh? Finding all the ways that Jenny is ignorant of living... Such a gold mine! And it was dismissed!

Oh, I'll explain in the next part. It needs a LOT of work, though. D:

Thanks! :DDDD
Feb. 12th, 2013 08:32 am (UTC)
Oh the joys of introducing matters to Jenny that are non-military!!! They are almost endless. :D

And you had to challenge me, eh? You minx! Ha ha ha! Perhaps I should challenge you more often if we get this sort of thing? You won't see me complaining, since I love this.

Feb. 12th, 2013 10:17 am (UTC)
Oh, yes! :DDDDD

Well, of course. Did it prod you to post this morning? :DDDDDDDDDD Hey, that's how you got me into writing in this genre in the first place! Remember?! ;)
Nov. 14th, 2015 05:18 am (UTC)
Doris? The Brig's wife is called Doris here? I'm not sure what she really is called, but in the previous chapter it was Ruth.
When I consider the names, I think I like Ruth more than Doris. I don't know why....
Dec. 9th, 2015 03:55 am (UTC)
I think I failed to double-check something before posting. I forget which is correct.
Dec. 12th, 2015 07:25 pm (UTC)
Never mind, love this ;-)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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