Fic: Five Times the Doctor Resisted His Own Charm (and One Time He Didn't) (2/6) (Ten/Ten, PG-13)
Word Count: 2399
Spoilers: Season 4 finale.
Summary: He knew that extra hand would come in handy one day.
The TARDIS materialises behind the Torchwood tower, and Martha Jones is already waiting for the Doctor when he steps outside, squinting in the sunlight. Only it's not the Doctor; it's the new Doctor, but she doesn't know that. And she hugs him all the same. “It's so good to see you,” she tells him. And he smiles at her and nods.
“So what's the problem then, Miss Jones?” Martha gives him a strange look that makes him feel very much like he's forgotten something.
“I told you on the phone, remember?” The new Doctor reaches up to scratch his neck with a half smile, shadowed by the tension that has been building up over the past few days.
“Ah, no. You talked to the other Doctor,” he says gruffly, with a hint of contempt, and then Martha understands.
“Oh, that's right. Gosh, this'll take some getting used to. So, what? Didn't he tell you?”
“Unfortunately, we have no twin telepathy. Telling one of us does not mean you've told the other.” The shade of contempt grows darker.
“Is he being difficult then?” She laughs and punches his arm playfully. “You know, I never would have thought you used to be like that. You're a different man now, aren't you?” She pauses, drops her voice an octave. “He hasn't done anything else that you wouldn't do, has he?” To say the least, the new Doctor is insulted, and he is about to correct her assumption when the Doctor finally makes an appearance and does it for him.
“Er, Martha. You, um... That's not me, that's the human me...” And he does it rather dumbly, the new Doctor thinks.
“Oy, part human!” he retorts tersely. Martha looks at the Doctor, and then looks at him again, her eyes wide.
“I am so sorry. I – I didn't mean – You said I talked to the 'other' Doctor, and I thought...” she says earnestly. She's even blushing too, and the new Doctor just can't be mad at her. He smiles, hugs her again, and tells her that he forgives her. They both laugh briefly, and a slightly crooked smile appears on his face. She really couldn't tell the difference, could she? He files this intriguing observation away for later reference.
“So then, what are we doing here?” he asks.
“We are giving someone a ride home,” the Doctor answers. The new Doctor turns to face him, waits, expecting to hear more.
“What? That's all?” he asks. Martha answers him this time.
“Yes. Like I said, it's not urgent. I know that you two don't run a taxi service, but we're a little busy at the moment,” she says apologetically.
“No no, it's fine,” the Doctor assures her.
“Who is it?” the new Doctor wants to know.
“Roald Dahl,” she says, and the new Doctor's face lights up.
“Oh, that's brilliant! Good old Roald! Do you remember the last time we met him?” He turns excitedly to the Doctor, more cordial than he's been to him in a week. He almost looks like he's about to start jumping up and down. The Doctor is grinning like a fool too, and giggling again. “Gosh, that would have been shortly before you regenerated into me, wouldn't it? I know he won't recognise us, but do you think he'll remember meeting us?” The new Doctor's rambling is cut short by Martha.
“I don't think so. This is him before he started writing. When I told him that I was going to call you, he didn't know who I was talking about.” Then she laughs and adds, “You should have seen him when I told him that this plaza was named after him. First he didn't believe me, and now he keeps asking me what he did.”
Both of them have calmed down now, and the new Doctor is looking slightly defeated. After a few seconds' hesitation, the Doctor steps away from the TARDIS with a broad smile and says, “Oh, I'll bet. Shall we go say hello then?” It takes the new Doctor a moment to realise that the Doctor is addressing him. When he does, it propels him into another burst of enthusiasm.
“Of course! Lead the way, Martha.” He grins from ear to ear, glances excitedly between the Doctor and Martha, and bounces on the balls of his feet again. Martha is beaming at him as she turns around to lead them into Torchwood through the visitor's entrance.
The Doctor has already got over most of his hard feelings for Torchwood, and while he's disinclined to admit it, he finds the hub impressive. The new Doctor however, who has retained more of that past bitterness, detests his awe. And both of them are tempted to snatch things; things that Torchwood has no business possessing, things that could be potentially dangerous if they're used incorrectly, and even things that they would just like to have for themselves. But they don't touch anything, because they trust Jack not to destroy the universe (and he trusts them not to nick any souvenirs).
Apart from Martha and themselves, the hub appears to be empty. She leads them up a staircase as they continue to survey their surroundings. “Blimey, look at that!” the Doctor says suddenly, pointing at the ceiling. The new Doctor looks up and nearly misses a step when he sees the pterodactyl, gliding around way above their heads. He stumbles forward and bumps into the Doctor, who seems not to notice. “I haven't seen one of those in years. Not given you lot any trouble, I hope?” the Doctor asks Martha.
“No, I don't think so. Ianto takes care of her. She seems quite content to just stay in here.” They walk into what must be a conference room, with glass panels for walls. There is a table surrounded by chairs, and in one of them sits their guest: Mr Roald Dahl himself. Quite a bit younger than last they saw him. Both Doctors are awash with glee again.
As they approach, Roald stands up and addresses Martha with a grin. “You never said he had a brother.” He laughs and turns to the two apparent brothers. “Roald Dahl. So which one of you is the Doctor then?”
“I am,” the two say simultaneously, and then they look at each other, both wishing they'd said nothing so that they wouldn't have to explain it. Roald hardly seems fazed by the peculiarity.
“What? Both of you? That must get confusing.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” the Doctor replies bemusedly.
“How do you tell each other apart?”
The Doctor can't think of anything to say. A second passes and the new Doctor tries to take over for him. “Er...”
“We go by John and...” He casts a glance at the new Doctor and says the first name that pops into his head, “...and Jacob Smith sometimes.” Like the Jingleheimers. Sort of. He looks at Roald again. He doesn't look convinced, but he doesn't bring up how obviously fake those names are.
“Well, it's nice to meet you both.” Roald holds out a hand to both of them, and they shake hands.
“So, do we know what happened?” The Doctor has his hands in the pockets of his coat and is twirling it around himself idly. “Do you remember where you were before you ended up here?”
Behind him, Martha speaks up, “It's kind of strange. It's like he's stuck halfway through the rift or something...” She looks at Roald.
“I've been having these awful headaches. They've been causing these... blackouts. I lose consciousness here and I wake up in 1941, and then the same thing happens there.”
“And it's not like he's sleeping. He's up and walking around, and seems conscious enough. He's just distant,” Martha interjects. The Doctor muses for a moment, and the new Doctor takes the opportunity to speak.
“Roald. Tell me, in 1941, you're still in Haifa, yes? And what about those missions? How long have you been flying them?”
Roald looks slightly disconcerted. He looks between the two Doctors a few times from under a creased brow, and finally answers. “Yes, I am in Haifa. It's been three and a half weeks now. How did you know?”
The two Doctors share a knowing glance. “Lucky guess,” the new Doctor says. “And how long has this been going on? I mean this...” He waves his hand back and forth a couple of times. “...switching between past and present stuff.”
“Um...” Roald looks to Martha for an answer.
“About a week,” she says.
“Yes, that's right. Sorry, it's a bit hard to tell, really. Time seems to flow differently now and then.”
“And quite right too,” the Doctor, from the other side of the table where he's gone to examine something, pipes up. “The rift's got all the time in the world to send you back. And so that's where we come in.” He's wearing that goofy grin of his, and it is mirrored on the New Doctor's face.
“Back to the TARDIS, then,” declares the new Doctor. He hugs Martha, and tells her that they will keep her posted.
Martha smiles at him, and then suddenly remembers something. “Oh! Wait a second!” she says, and then runs out of the conference room.
The Doctor, who had come over to get a hug too, looks stricken. He follows her out and watches her descend the stairs and go to her desk. “Now, what's that? The third hug he's got? Why don't I get one?” he whines.
Martha looks up at him from the drawer she had been searching, blushing lightly again. “Oh, sorry. Don't worry, you'll get triple hugs, I promise.” She opens another drawer, and finds what she's looking for: a stack of white envelopes, one of which she snatches up before she climbs the stairs again. She gives him a brief hug and then hands him the envelope. “Remember I told you about Tom before? The wedding is on the eighteenth. And you had better be there.” She pokes her finger at his chest. “Both of you,” she adds, looking at the new Doctor.
“Yes ma'am,” the Doctor says, and then grins.
“I love weddings!” the new Doctor exclaims. “Congratulations, Martha. We'll definitely be there.”
“Wouldn't miss it for the universe!” The Doctor hugs Martha tightly, lifting her off her feet a few inches.
They are both laughing and once she's on the ground again, Martha says, “That's two hugs. You'll get the third when I see you there.”
After the Doctor makes a brief fuss about this, they say goodbye to Torchwood, and they're back outside, about to enter the TARDIS. When they step inside, Roald makes no comment about the size of the console room. He just seems content to stare in wonder, and both of the Doctors are watching him, suppressing the urge to laugh. Before long he notices the doorway at the other end of the room. “My God, how big is this ship?” he asks, and after a nod from the new Doctor, he leaves the console room to find out for himself. The Doctor shouts a warning about getting lost and then walks up to the console.
The new Doctor walks around idly for a moment, and then settles with his hands in his pockets, leaning against one of the coral columns. He watches the Doctor as he works the controls and his eyes dart to and from the screen in front of him. Before long, the Doctor stops and gives him a pointed look. The new Doctor raises an eyebrow. “You're awful quiet,” the Doctor says.
“Oh, just doing my best imitation of a mirror, that's all,” the new Doctor says with a cheeky smile.
“That must be one of the worst impressions I've ever seen,” the Doctor deadpans. The new Doctor pouts, and looks away from him. He glances at the screen again and flips a switch. “And what was that earlier? Cooperation? Got bored with stealing screwdrivers and indolence, have we?”
The new Doctor looks at him sharply and pushes off of the coral. “What? Would you prefer me belligerent?” The Doctor's face falls. He's about to say something, but the new Doctor talks over him, making his way over to the console. “Oh, and 'Jacob Smith'?”
“First name I could think of,” the Doctor says defensively.
“Been singing with the Jingleheimers, have you? And why do I have to be Jacob? I like John better.”
The Doctor manages to get a word in. “Oh, come on. You were on a roll earlier. Why do you have to start that again now?”
“I didn't start it.” The new Doctor circles around the Doctor, who is sitting on the jump seat, and claps his hands on his shoulders. “You did.”
The Doctor places his hands on the new Doctor's wrists and tilts his head back to look at him. “Alright, I've learned my lesson. Sarcasm gets us nowhere. Can we get along now?”
“Oh, that depends...” The new Doctor drops down into the seat next to him, one arm draped over his shoulders. “Can I be John?” The Doctor turns his head before answering, but he is startled silent when they bump noses. Like before, both of them are afraid to move. The new Doctor's heartbeat has sped up so much that he's afraid that the Doctor might hear it. A chill runs down his spine and he wants so badly to lean forward, but he doesn't. Their lips are less than an inch apart, and he's fairly certain that even the smallest of movements would cause both of them to give in, but he can't move.
Eventually, in a voice little more than a whisper, the Doctor manages to speak, “Yes. You can be John.”
Contrary to what he might have expected, hearing this makes the new Doctor flinch away. He dares to meet the Doctor's eyes before he stands and turns away from him. “Well...” He shoves his hands in his pockets and looks for an excuse to be elsewhere. “I... I'd better go check on Roald. Wouldn't want him getting lost now, would we, eh?” he says, and then shuffles out of the console room. The Doctor's eyes follow him as he leaves and once certain that he's out of earshot, the Doctor lets out a breath he was fully aware that he'd been holding.