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Shakespearean Cupids, Chapter 3

Title: Shakespearean Cupids

Rating: T for emotional angst, innuendo, and Jack-style machinations

Summary: When two people are reminiscent of a Shakespearean couple, friends and family are liable to borrow from the Bard himself to bring them together. 

Disclaimer: I don't have the money to go see the awesomeness of David Tennent and Catherine Tate in a Much Ado About Nothing production – let alone own anything related to Who aside from a Disappearing TARDIS mug. And one pair of Converse - that I started breaking in on May 16th...

Chapter 1 / Chapter 2


“Is he in yet?” Martha whispered into her phone, hoping Gwen could report what they needed to hear. He seemed to be taking extra time putting those bags away, and she was getting impatient to begin.

“About to enter the house,” Gwen reported, equally quiet as she faked reading a book on Victorian England. She and Tosh still questioned the wisdom of this, but knew they were positioned where they might be able to see the Doctor's reactions – if he stayed close enough to be seen by the small mirror on the fireplace. When she saw his hand touch the door, she hissed, “Get ready!” And closed the phone as discretely as she could. Tosh composed herself and pretended to be working on her computer.

Jenny listened carefully for her father's footsteps, waiting for the right moment to nudge Martha to set the trap. She was rather excited to be part of a conspiracy that could only benefit her. After all, she had no urge to have to deal with anyone new, and why not give her Dad something that would let her have some extra time to herself...?

The Doctor was grumbling silently about bags and the whims of his companion, wondering how many of Donna's traits Jenny would practically absorb via osmosis. Helping Sarah Jane's boy might be a perfect distraction from figuring out just why Donna provoked so many strong reactions in him.

On feeling the gentle slap on the arm, Martha faked shock as she spoke – a bit loudly to make it sound real, “But are you sure, Mrs. Noble, that Donna loves the Doctor in that way?”

He froze stiff. What?!

Sylvia needed no acting to fake her irritation. “Positive. I've been watching my daughter all her life. She's without question fallen for him – but acts in complete denial.”

There – there had to be something going on here. He couldn't not know what would be said next about his trusty companion. The Doctor found himself creeping closer to the kitchen, pressing himself as flat as he could manage to avoid being seen. Not knowing that a mirror in the living room allowed Tosh's hidden camera a perfect view of his face...

Martha, positive she heard a freezing of footsteps moments before, suppressed a grin. “Well, that kind of surprises me, given how many different insulting descriptions she's given about him.”

A surprisingly soft snort reminded the Doctor of his companion, explaining where yet another trait came from – which might make hating Sylvia a bit harder, and he waited for the answer.

Sylvia nodded, pretending she was a little too focused on the vegetables she was cutting. “Oh, Donna is just that kind of person. Insults are sometimes a way of showing affection. Just shows that she's not going to take you too seriously or set you up to be something you're not. It's a sign of how comfortable she is with you.”

The Doctor's eyebrows bounced as that information was absorbed. Did that, he suddenly wondered, mean that 'long streak of nothing' wasn't as sharp a criticism as he'd thought?

“But,” Jenny commented, finding a genuine observation to ask about, “I've noticed that she seems to use them based off what she really thinks about someone. I've heard her give Dad... what's the word...? Hell over how skinny he is. Has she always hated her own appearance?”

He frowned hard. What was there to hate? She was perfectly fine as she was! Really, he thought, Rose and Martha were a bit on the thin side. Humans of this age were far too obsessed over appearances.

“Oh, about since she started school,” Sylvia sighed in memory. “First it was over the kids who made fun of her ginger hair. She actually dyed it a few times, hoping it would stop the teasing.”

He sucked in a harsh breath through his nose. Oi, who did those kids think they were?! Gingers are only the best people in the universe! He had images fluttering through his mind of ways he could make those idiots see the error of their ways if he ran into any of them, and thought little of the fact that he was instinctively thinking about defending Donna.

“And once she hit puberty,” Sylvia continued sadly, “she gained weight and started a whole obsession with trying to become slimmer. It seemed like nothing worked for her, or something would happen to derail whatever progress she felt she'd made.”

I don't see why she or anyone, the Doctor thought, should be so concerned. She's perfectly lovely with what she has. Really, he suddenly realized, if she lost a bunch of weight, I'd be having to beat off all of the men who wouldn't be able to ignore her awesomeness... That idea made his hearts clench.

Having done some reading earlier in the day, Jenny found another thing to comment on. “What is it about 'progress' that makes having curves a problem? Mum's body would've been called that of a goddess earlier in Earth's history, right?”

Yes, he reflected with an absent nod, it would have... Still ought to be considered – Ooh... Better make sure we don't go to any worlds where she might be worshiped by the natives. Just like ones that – apparently like those idiots she went to school with – don't appreciate gingers.

“True,” Martha noted. “Of course, for all those self-image issues, Donna isn't lacking self-respect. She might let people's comments get to her, but she sure lets them have it for being rude.”

The Doctor grinned, thinking of more than a few times when Donna had let someone have it. Including him. Quite amazing, he thought, even when she's angry.

Jenny hid a grin over her idea for the next thing to say. Research in the TARDIS library about Dad's past is going to pay off... “In other words, while she doesn't think well of herself, she's not the type to just wait for a man to rescue her. She'll try to find ways of rescuing herself, and even avoiding needing to be rescued in the first place because she's smart enough to know when to keep her hands off strange alien objects.”

Well, the Doctor thought, that first time doesn't count. She didn't realize her own power then. Now that she has, she's a force for the universe to behold. Though something nagged him about the description Jenny gave. It reminded him of someone...

Sylvia wiped the knife to change uses. “See, I can't help but worry about my daughter. That maybe I spent her childhood focusing on the wrong things, and that my mistakes unwittingly encouraged her into relationships with men who weren't good for her. She eventually saw the light each time, but her confidence took a huge beating in the process. It's like she was willing to just settle for whoever was willing to have her.”

Oi! The Doctor's hackles raised to the level of an angry Slitheen. He could see, between this and what Donna had told him, how Lance had manipulated her. And all he could think about were creative ways he could've punished Lance had the Empress not condemned him. He could only use a Gallifreyan word that had a very nasty English translation to describe that human...

“So,” Sylvia added, letting all of her real frustrations through, “do you see why I'm worried that that... bonkers alien has completely thrown her future into shambles? It's like she exchanged one crazy way of living for another.”

Okay, now the Doctor had a harder time hating Sylvia Noble for her actions since there was an understandable reason driving them. Not that he could forgive her so easily about how harshly she'd talked to Donna...

“Okay, wait.” Martha pretended to interrupt a rant – when they had actually outlined their plan of attack. “Trouble might find the Doctor, but he's always seeking a solution to it. Trying to save lives, even entire planets. He does carry a heavy burden doing that, and he definitely needs someone to balance him out. From what Donna has said to me, I think she likes making a difference and doing something that will truly be worthwhile with her life. If anything, she feels she's grown in leaps and bounds as a person. She and I are both better people for knowing him.”

You mean... you have forgiven me for being a heel to you, Martha?

Jenny snorted. “But not everyone has the character to accept the challenges that would allow them to grow up,” she noted drily. “And yet he has trouble accepting that sometimes you need to just let someone go?”

The Doctor sensed that he should know what they were talking about, have some clue as to what - or who – Jenny was referring to. He just couldn't see it yet.

Sylvia stopped her work, and turned to face Martha. “So you're saying that he should find out just how often her eyes light up when she talks about him? How protective she is of him when others insult him? Of how this seems to be the most mature, selfless love she's ever experienced in her life? The kind I always wanted her to find with a human man?!”

The Doctor gasped, feeling like his hearts had stopped beating for a long moment before increasing to a near gallop. And hoped his unintentional sound wasn't overheard.

Jenny's Time-Lady ears, however, did catch it. “Well,” she grinned, knowing her Dad couldn't see her smugness, “what's the problem? We should tell him.”

Martha had been waiting impatiently for this moment, the chance to mess good and well with the Doctor's mind. She nearly shouted, “No!”

The Time-Lord startled, painfully aware that his movements made audible noise. But he couldn't care. He had to know what Martha meant by that!

“Explain that.” Sylvia found the sharp, demanding tone easy to produce. This, she knew, would be the pivotal moment of this part of the conspiracy. Let's hope this alien plays along...

Martha was only too happy to begin her part. “I promise you both, if you love Donna, that you'll wish her to remain oblivious to her own feelings rather than consciously struggle with suppressing them – as she'll have to if she becomes aware of them.”

The Doctor's respiratory bypass had to kick in when he couldn't make his lungs work. He couldn't even reflect on how it felt to have the wind metaphorically knocked out of you.

Jenny thought her faked gasp was worthy of an award. “But why?! She's the most deserving woman of being happy! Surely Dad could make that possible!”

“Oh, my God!” Martha was glad that she needed only to tap into what had become dormant to make the whole thing seem real. “I know Donna deserves every happiness the universe could give someone, but I'm afraid I have to bust your bubble about your father, Jenny. I can't imagine the universe creating a pair of prouder hearts than his. He always made me feel like second best with how often he spoke of Rose.”

Oh, Rassilon! I should've seen this coming. He knew he'd behaved unfairly to Martha because there hadn't been anyone who could make him move past the dramatic loss of a dear friend, but he wasn't prepared for Jenny to learn about it.

“Wait.” Jenny's tone turned deadly, as she knew it would when they got to here. She folded her arms instinctively. “That blondish, selfish, never-knew-when-to-keep-her-hands-off-alien-things teenager with almost no common sense?! TARDIS showed me some of her time aboard, and I swear she makes me look like a mature adult! Me, who knows so little about living!”

A tiny flinch crossed the Doctor's face as he tensed over hearing himself fall from his girl's grace. How bad did his time with Rose look to someone who was practically just as young as Rose had been?

“I don't know much for sure,” Martha growled, “and I'm not positive how much credit we should give the Doctor's descriptions. But – before I go on – just how did you find out about her actions?” Oh, she'd already heard some of it, but she wondered which ones Jenny would use to show her righteous indignation.

What she was about to say might get her in trouble eventually, but Jenny didn't care. She was a young woman on a mission, and would not accept failure. “I was asking the TARDIS questions about Dad's previous companions, and I couldn't believe what she had to show me about this particular tart. I thought my father was a wiser man than to let a girl who grasped nothing about time-line consequences see her father before he died! I thought he knew better than to play a fool for a girl's amusement around a monarch who had good reason to not be... 'amused.' Or to be okay with her not thinking twice about leaving her mother in a parallel world – especially when she wasn't upset about never seeing her again!”

If she thinks that I hadn't thought about those moments before, during, and after the fact, she's wrong... It was the only thought he managed as past guilt reared its ugly head once again. Guilt for messing up other lives, as well as his own. Along with the start of shame as he felt Jenny's anger at him. And Martha's tone suggested that he'd hurt her more than he'd realized...

Sylvia didn't need much acting skill to shove frustrated anger into her voice. “So he acted all... hung up over this girl?”

Martha let out an incoherent growl, feeling old grievances bubble up and threaten to derail her thoughts. But that medical training proved a godsend. “God, yes! It felt like if there was anything that could remind him of her, he had to mention it. I bet the only reason he's gotten better at it is because he quickly learned to not provoke one of Donna's slaps. She doesn't seem like she would've tolerated his moping for long.”

Moping?! His hackles raised once again – albeit a bit subdued. I couldn't have been as bad as Martha remembers, and... Wow, I haven't thought even remotely about Rose since Donna mentioned her inside Adipose Industries... and that had been a while since the time before that...

Which was the first time he'd allowed himself to think about the events of The Year That Never Was since Martha left him.

“Good for Mum.” Jenny's hands itched to find Rose Tyler and slap her into becoming an adult, but she had to get through to her Dad first. “But don't you think there's a chance that he could look at her with something that could grow into love?”

Martha sighed, sagging against a counter. “I wish he could. You know, for someone who's so brilliant, he's awfully thick sometimes. Especially when it comes to others' feelings.”

Tell me something, he thought idly, that I don't already know about myself...

“Besides,” Martha added, “I don't wish her to become another me if he did find out.”

No! No, I'd never be like that to her! She's too special to let anyone – especially me – treat her like she's second best! Martha didn't deserve what I gave her, and I won't let that happen to Donna!

“Well,” Jenny muttered, hoping for a good strike with this barb, “he must be a dumb male if he can't see how superior you, Martha, are to Rose. Makes his not seeing Mum that way – and how awkward he was when I asked to call her Mum – make sense. Sadly.”

The Doctor suddenly had flashes of Jenny playing with several young ginger children – all with their eyes and Donna's features. Wait, I've thought of mini-Donnas before?! How did I miss that?!

Sylvia had held this one in for the right moment, and now seemed perfect. “So you're telling me that he's just going to be another man who caught my daughter's eye, but who merely took one look at my girl and saw absolutely nothing he wanted?”

The Doctor sharply sucked in a breath. Immediate implications of Sylvia's words aside, he really wanted to know just how many men had treated Donna like that. His fingers itched to drag those losers somewhere dark and teach them a lesson. But to be lumped in with them?! No, I'm better than that to Donna! There's so much about her to want-

At that moment, he suddenly felt like he'd been blind and abruptly could see. With crystal clarity. It nearly made him sink to the ground under the weight of his stampeding hearts.

Jenny groaned. “What is it that stops him from loving her? Is it something that bothers him about her, or is it just him and his crazy notions?”

No, he slowly realized, that whole thing about her bags just... threw me for a huge loop. No one had ever done that before, and I still don't know how to handle it...

Martha had a flashback to a conversation that she'd nearly forgotten about. “You know, once during one of our adventures, I observed to him that, 'You'd enjoy anything, wouldn't you?' But I soon found out a qualifier to that: he wasn't comfortable with things that smacked of being domestic. Given how he reacted to the domesticity that came from being trapped in 1969, I wonder if he's even capable of taking pleasure from doing little things for Donna for no reason but to make her smile.”

With the floodgates of what might as well have been the Time Vortex itself opened, the Doctor saw all of the times he'd made tea for Donna. The times he'd cooked – just to prove that he could! – and then it becoming more common. Teaching her to pilot the TARDIS, making it snow for her, choosing Earth's creation to show her... He'd been doing those little things almost since he'd met her... and had no problem with the domesticity of them!

Oh, Rassilon, I'm in trouble...

“I mean,” Martha added, because they couldn't completely pound on the Doctor when she wanted him at all but begging at Donna's feet, “for all the times he wasn't fair to me, I still have a great deal of affection for the Doctor. I really wish that he could find it in himself to take a hard look at his life and see how special what he has really is.”

He couldn't hear anymore; he'd fall to the ground if he stayed put. And be heard. And how embarrassing would that be? Jenny would practically have his head given how angry she sounded, and Sylvia... would probably mount it over the fireplace while Martha watched... Better get away to give them some cooling off time...

So he managed to rush up the stairs quietly – although he looked like he was running from something deadly. And he was: from the truth.

Once he was safely upstairs, Gwen and Tosh faked a coughing fit to signal his absence to the others. Martha had been thinking of something extra, but stopped on hearing their version of “time.” The Torchwood ladies slipped into the kitchen to give the waiting ladies – who promptly crowded them – their report. “Well,” Jenny demanded, all traces of anger vanishing in her excitement, “what did you see?!”

“I think we can safely say,” Gwen announced as she grinned wickedly, “to paraphrase Shakespeare, he's lim'd and caught! He's feeling the full weight of love now.”

Jenny giggled, struggling to keep it down, and clapped her hands once. “You didn't happen to get it on camera, did you?” She really wanted to know what his face looked like at each important moment of their trap.

Tosh's own smile turned mischievous as she held up her concealed camera. “Every expression. He can't deny his own feelings now.”

Martha grinned wickedly. “I'm looking forward to being able to one day lord this over him. Once they've sorted things out, of course.”

Sylvia snorted, not unlike her daughter. “You do know we can never let them know we did this, right?”

“Of course,” Martha added. “But that doesn't mean we can't reminisce over wine one day.” The ladies had to suppress their laughter so it wouldn't make it upstairs.

What none of them knew was that, as the Doctor hurried to teach Luke in whatever he needed, his mind was on a rather dark path. Oh, Donna, he thought, I know you deserve more than what even they said. But how can I give you what you need when we're so different...? When you deserve so much better than an alien who's done so many dark things...? All I can do is try to help you see how magnificent you are, letting someone worthy of you see you... even if it just about kills me...

Chapter 4: Bid Them Come in to Dinner...


May. 30th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
Ah such a cathartic read for all of us who felt offended on Martha's behalf for how he treated her. This was great stuff, and so good for Martha to communicate it to him in this way.

The inner monologue of realizations was beautifully done, and builds the tension deliciously &hearts I especially loved his domesticity thing with Donna!
May. 30th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
If you liked this, you'll also enjoy Chapter 5 of "Belted." I seem to enjoy writing Martha telling the Doctor off for his actions, although Jenny challenging him is becoming a close second. Well, after Donna telling him off... (grins)

Did you have any favorite lines...?

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