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Title: Making an Ass Out of You and Me
Author: purple_bug
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing/characters: Tenth Doctor, Bobbie Colville (OC)
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: The Doctor and the TARDIS belong to the BBC.
Prompt: #493. Doctor Who, any characters. For once the Doctor doesn't have to deal with his female Companion lusting after him, because she's a lesbian. She's not sure what to make of the fact that he seems to have a crush on her.
Summary: Misinterpretations are very easily made when travelling in time and space.
Warnings: None
Words: ~4300
A/N: Written for the 2009 [livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest, and beta'd by the wonderfully patient [livejournal.com profile] agapi42.


oOoOoOo

Bobbie met the Doctor on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe. It might've been a Thursday. Last week was merging into next and back again, and to say that most people in the town were experiencing déjà vu was putting it mildly. Farmers' market was only supposed to be held once a week, but the stallholders on Saturday insisted that it was still Thursday, and the receptionist at the doctor's surgery got very confused on Friday when half of last week's patients showed up for appointments they'd already had.

Despite the general confusion that week, one thing that stood out in Bobbie's memory was that a skinny guy in a suit had been running around looking for a pomegranate. His urgency for the fruit would have been out of the ordinary even if he had been in the local supermarket, instead of running in from the fields to the stable where Bobbie worked. She gave him directions into town, and he thanked her, grinning widely, before dashing off.

There was plenty more to occupy her beyond her usual duties that week, such as duplicate deliveries of feed and a couple of the horses acquiring identical twins for a day, but these all eventually resolved themselves. One strange thing that didn't go away on its own was the slim leather wallet she'd found on the stable floor. It didn't appear strange at first glance. After looking inside and finding only blank paper, she wouldn't even have thought it important enough to bother trying to return, but when the paper stopped being blank and told her to "make sure you've got this with you on Monday", then erased itself and added "no really, it's important", she put it in her jacket pocket for safekeeping.

Bobbie wasn't sure whether she was dreaming, going crazy, or simply hadn't previously been aware of the bizarrities in the world, but whichever it was, there wasn't much she could do about it for now. Personally she hoped it was the latter, because working at riding stables and being closeted in a country village didn't make for a terribly exciting life. Maybe a few incidents of sentient paper and time going wacky would liven things up.

On Monday, it was hard to stay focused on her job. She wasn't usually one to be easily distracted, but she caught herself wandering to the stable door more than a few times to cast a quick glance over the country lanes, or paying more attention to the hills and fields around her than to Mercutio, causing him to stamp and snort with impatience at receiving no input from his usually attentive rider.

It was almost six in the evening before anything out of the ordinary happened. Bobbie was finishing up the end-of-day grooming, returning Treacle to her stall and latching the door, when a knock sounded behind her. She turned round to see the skinny guy, still wearing the same suit, leaning in the stable doorway, hands in his pockets and a friendly grin on his face.

"Hello!" he said brightly. "Did you happen to find a leather wallet last week? Bit of paper inside?"

Bobbie pulled it out of her pocket and handed it to him with a smile. "Did you find a pomegranate?"

"Eventually," he replied, tucking the wallet into the pocket of his long brown coat. "Thanks for your help with that, by the way. Major political incident without that, er, pomegranate."

"Did you have anything to do with things going all wonky last week?" Bobbie asked, deciding that straight-out was the best way to approach this.

The man blinked a few times, then did a head-tilty thing and pulled a face or two. "Sort of. It was more the pomegranate, really."

"What do you mean?"

He opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by the strident voice of Mr Tanner.

"I'm sorry, sir, the stable's closed to visitors for the evening. Roberta, have you finished the grooming?"

Bobbie made a concerted effort not to pull a face at the sound of her name, and turned to her boss. "Yes, Mr Tanner. I was just about to sweep up."

"Well, don't take all night about it." He disappeared back the way he'd come. Bobbie turned back to her conversation and found that the strange man had also gone. Hurrying out of the door, she went around the building, as she suspected he had done, and followed a strange noise around the corner just in time to see a tall blue box vanish from sight.

Bobby spent a few moments blinking and frowning at the spot, then, shaking her head, went back to the stable to sweep up, her mind full of odd thoughts for the rest of the evening.

It was a week later that she saw him again, and she realised then that weird occurrences must be the norm around this strange man. She saw him from the top of the hill where the stables were situated, while taking a break and eating a sandwich on the grass outside. He was in the middle of a field some distance away; far enough that he was only the size of a toy soldier, but close enough that she could identify him by his coat, and close enough that she could also make out the person he was talking to. He was bald, bright blue, and pointing a large, flashy gun.

Bobbie abandoned her sandwich and dashed inside. Mercutio was already saddled and bridled, so she grabbed a helmet, hopped up with the ease of a practised rider, trotted out the door and began a gallop down the hill.

She wasn't sure exactly how she could help, and she second-guessed her initial reaction several times as she neared the two of them; perhaps this guy was bright blue for a perfectly good reason; maybe it was stage make-up; maybe the gun wasn't real; but the skinny guy in the suit (whose name she would have to find out if he was going to keep popping up and being strange) had seen her now, and wasn't giving her any signals of the kind that would indicate she was mistaken in interpreting the blue man's intentions as hostile. In fact, he seemed to be very grateful for her impending arrival. The blue man turned as she got within a couple hundred yards, alerted by the sound of approaching hooves, and shouted in fright. He shot at her a couple of times, his weapon firing silent red bolts of light, but luckily he kept misjudging her speed and missing.

In the last few seconds of her approach, Bobbie knew just what she should do. The nearer she got, the paler the blue man had become, and the more frightened. His gun now hung limply in his hand, and he stared at the horse with wide eyes. She slowed as she covered the last dozen yards, and came to a halt just in front of him. As if on cue, Mercutio gave a great snort of distaste as he regarded the blue man, huffing hot horse-breath into his face. With a small sigh, he fainted.

"Thanks!" The Doctor beamed at Bobbie as she dismounted and looked down at the unconscious blue gunman with a raised eyebrow. "I really hate getting shot."

"You get shot often?"

"More often than I'd like." He moved to Mercutio's side and patted his withers appreciatively. The horse looked round to nose at the newcomer, and received an intact sugar cube from one of the man's pockets.

"Who are you?" Bobbie asked finally, staring at him.

"I'm the Doctor," he replied. "You're Roberta, right? The girl from the stable."

This time she did pull a face. "It's Bobbie." She'd always hated how posh the name sounded in full.

"Bobbie it is. And this is...?"

"Mercutio."

"Good name." The Doctor clicked his tongue and patted Mercutio's neck fondly.

"And who's that?" she asked, pointing down at the blue guy, who looked remarkably peaceful in unconsciousness.

"Oh, him?" The Doctor gave him a nudge with his trainer-clad toe, then crouched down next to him and prodded at a device attached to his wrist. "Rebel from J'Huann IV. I was trying to get him to leave, but he wanted to use this planet as a hide-out. Wouldn't listen to me when I said that being blue would make him kinda conspicuous. Then he decided that stealing my ship and heading somewhere else in time would be a good way of escaping the radar of his planet, hence why I was at gunpoint." He cast an eye over Mercutio's impressive frame and Arabian bearing, then down at the unconscious rebel. "Lucky they don't have horses on J'Huann IV, or that wouldn't have worked..."

"So he's an alien."

"Yep. I'm just using his transmat to return him to his own planet." He tapped a few buttons and stepped back. With a soft hum and a shimmering glow, the alien's body disappeared into thin air.

"And the weird stuff a few weeks ago...?"

The Doctor put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. "A visiting dignitary from Op-Yiok Nonus misplaced her egg case during a visit to Turkey. It got mixed up with international shipments of fruit, and I helped her track it down."

"How does that explain Thursday being Saturday and all the rest?"

"Well, Oppa-Yi eggs are temporally unstable, so they distort the area around them. And the egg case looks like a pomegranate, so it's easily mixed up with actual pomegranates."

Bobbie turned all this over in her head, then nodded. "Right. So... aliens?"

The Doctor grinned and nodded back. "Yep."

She gave the Doctor a ride to his blue box near the stable, the same one she'd seen disappear last time she saw the Doctor. Mercutio gave it a curious once-round, refusing to stop and let them dismount until he'd had a good sniff at it. She didn't blame him; it wasn't every day you saw a police box from the fifties sitting on a country hillside in the nineties.

"It doesn't look much like a ship," Bobbie remarked as the Doctor dismounted. "Actually, it's a little bit Bill and Ted."

"Funny you should say that..." he said absently, then moved to the door of the police box and unlocked it with a key from his pocket. "Well, thanks for saving my life, Bobbie." He gave her an intriguing smile and moved to enter the box.

"Hey, hang on!" Bobbie swung herself down from the saddle and pulled off her helmet. She fastened the straps around one of the stirrups, then gave Mercutio a quick double-pat; he ambled off in the direction of the grazing field. "Don't I get to see inside this disappearing phone box?"

He raised an eyebrow at her and his lips twitched in amusement. "If you want to," he replied, and went through the door, leaving it open behind him.

Bobbie prided herself on her composure, but when confronted with a huge room of alien technology that seemed to be humming pleasantly at her, she couldn't judge her reaction - a drawn-out expletive that her schooling really should've done better to moderate - as anything other than appropriate.

The Doctor was leaning against the structure in the middle of the room, hands in his pockets, smirking.

"How...?"

He grinned happily, and launched into a spiel about dimensions and space and time-travel that Bobbie was sure was designed to entice her curiosity and imagination, not to mention her sense of adventure.

"Do you take passengers?" she asked, when he started rambling about planets, the names of which she couldn't even guess at the spelling of.

"It's dangerous," he said in reply, shining eyes daring her to come along and give it a try.

"Bring it on," she retorted, unable to keep the excited smile from her face. She was smart and strong; she reckoned she could take whatever the universe threw at her.

"All right then!" The Doctor literally leapt into action. "Hold on to something!"

oOoOoOo

The Doctor met Bobbie on a Saturday that might've been a Thursday. He first saw her a week before that, charging down a country lane after a screaming child on a bolting horse. High speed rescue and plenty of daring were just the sort of things he looked for in a companion, so he hung around that area of the country for a while to see if there was anything happening locally that he could use to his advantage. Thanks either to luck or his status as a trouble magnet, he was rewarded fairly quickly with a potentially disastrous heirs apparent/fruit mix-up incident that enabled him to run around being noticeable in her vicinity. He was impressed by her unruffled attitude towards the oddities going on, and made sure to drop his psychic paper before he ran off to the supermarket. It was easy enough to send her a message, skip forward to Monday and show up at the end of the day, all bright smiles and cryptic pomegranate-related statements. He even managed to disappear when she was distracted by her boss for a moment, which helped add to the intrigue. He liked to think he was well-practised at this kind of thing. The J'Huann rebel was a lucky coincidence. Or, again, influenced by his presence in the area. With this kind of situation, he never could tell. Either way, he was grateful that Bobbie had been around to see him and come to the rescue. She really would make for a fun travelling companion.

Her reaction to the TARDIS interior had been interesting; he hadn't expected her to be quite so profane. And she hadn't felt the need to go out and make sure that the outside really was that small. Most of them did that. But then, her horse had done the walking round for her. He didn't have to say much before she asked to come along; that was, after all, what he'd been angling for.

The first place he took her was New Year's Eve, 1999. It was the first place she asked to go, and he suspected she wanted to be there to feel justified in her 'Millennium Bug' scepticism. As they squeezed their way through the crowds of Soho (Bobbie had been especially eager to see some London nightlife, and had insisted it be Soho), the Doctor told her about the almost-disaster currently going on in San Francisco, and how it ended up never happening. She seemed impressed, but got distracted from the story when the crowd around them began counting down to midnight. She joined in enthusiastically, grinning at the girl next to her, who, the Doctor noticed, was smiling back.

As the street erupted with cheers and shouts of "Happy New Year!" and the sky was filled with fireworks, the Doctor found himself amid a sea of New Year's kisses, and he looked around himself with slight dismay, feeling like a very awkward third wheel to the whole crowd. Seeing him casting about, a nearby reveller misread his expression and took pity, yanking him in for a snog. His stubble scratched a little, but otherwise it was very pleasant. The Doctor gave him a friendly pat on the arm, and the man gave him a wink and returned to his group of friends.

Turning round to look for Bobbie, he immediately felt like a third wheel again. She was kissing the girl she'd been smiling at during the countdown, and it was rather more than a quick pity-snog, as his had been. He turned quickly to the sky, and watched the fireworks for a while. It wasn't until she stood next to him and gave him a nudge with her elbow that he looked back down again.

"I'm a lesbian," she said, matter-of-factly. "Is that a problem for you?"

He chuckled. "Of course not. Explains why you wanted to go to Soho, though."

Bobbie grinned to herself, blushing a little. "I've never been to a 'gay village' before. It's just as cool as I thought it would be."

"The one in Montreal is very good."

"Are you...?"

"Me?" The Doctor clicked his tongue as he thought about it. "Sort of, not quite. Depends." At Bobbie's confused look, he added, "It's a bit more complex than most humans think it is. The universe is very diverse." He smiled as she laughed, gazing up at the fireworks.

"It's so nice to be out," she breathed. She looked calm and happy.

He felt quite calm himself; it had been a while since he had travelled with someone who hadn't obviously fancied him, even if they swore they weren't going to. While it was very flattering to be lusted after, he found that feelings, on both sides, often got in the way of just travelling around and having the most fun that time and space had to offer. He felt sure that there would be fewer complications with Bobbie, and things would just be ... easier.

oOoOoOo

Bobbie quickly learned that the TARDIS didn't always go where the Doctor asked it to. He tried for twenty-fifth century Portugal and they ended up in the fifteenth century, trying to help African slaves while not changing history. He tried for Florana, a planet that sounded absolutely wonderful, and they ended up on Bandraginus V, a planet the Doctor was very keen to leave after finding out what year it was. He didn't make it clear why they were leaving in such a hurry, but he started rambling on about pirates, and how he should stop trying to get to Florana because it never went well.

When they did get to where they planned to go, it was often to find trouble brewing. The Doctor explained that this was quite normal for him, and after all, didn't she sign up for the danger? While that was true, she did find herself in a lot of frankly unnecessary tied-up situations. The Doctor seemed to relish the opportunity to get locked in a cell or handcuffed to a wall, just so he could escape and then brag about how brilliant he was. Once or twice she was the one to get them out of trouble, and then he told her how brilliant she was, which made her feel pretty chuffed.

She did wonder if all the hugging and hand-holding was really necessary, though. Maybe it was an alien thing, or maybe he was just generally affectionate, but the way he seemed to be constantly trying to impress her, and the way he sometimes looked at her, like he was hoping for something, caused a paranoid little voice in the back of her head to pipe up from time to time about ulterior motives. She hushed it each time, chiding herself for being so vain, but sometimes she wondered if it might have a point. Her suspicions wouldn't be aroused so often if there wasn't something to be suspicious about, after all. She hated to be big-headed, but perhaps the little voice was right.

She mostly tried to ignore it, though. She focused on enjoying her jaunt around the universe with this strange alien man; saving worlds, meeting incredible people, defeating monsters, risking her life and saving his once or twice, and living like she never had before. However, she couldn't fully smother the little voice until one particular incident on Ecaiyoro XIV.

"Does this happen often?" Bobbie asked, seeing the Doctor roll his eyes when the head scientist told them what was expected of them.

"You'd be surprised." The Doctor made a rather theatrical gesture of frustration. "Why are alien cultures so obsessed with how humanoids mate? It's ridiculous!"

"How do you usually get out of it?" She leaned against the wall of their sterile but rather comfy enclosure.

"Talking, mainly. They usually respond to diplomacy. Or yelling. Sometimes they use drugs, and it all gets horribly out-of-hand." He had a worried look in his eyes, and Bobbie swallowed nervously. He caught her expression and added hastily, "Doesn't appear to be the case here, though. They seem quite civilised, just..."

"Just inappropriately curious?"

The Doctor smirked, and gave a nod.

"Can I talk to them?" Bobbie asked. The Doctor looked surprised. "What? I've got some talking-to-aliens experience under my belt." She grinned, and the Doctor conceded and waved her forward.

She walked to the large window in the wall, behind which were seated several Ecaiyosa scientists, all smooth and ellipsoid and a pale shade of taupe, darkening to brown at the appendages. One or two had semi-transparent budding growths along one side, which Bobbie supposed were offspring from the way something inside could be seen gently wiggling.

She tapped on the glass for attention. "Can you hear me?" The scientists turned from side to side, maybe casting uncertain glances at each other; it was hard to tell when there were no recognisable eyes. One of them used a flexible appendage to pick up a box, and lifted it to an indented circle of darker flesh near the top of its body.

"We hear you," came the reply through the speakers above the window.

"Okay." Bobbie took a breath and cleared her throat. She wasn't sure exactly how to phrase this, but she was damn well going to try, because there was no way she was taking part in their 'science experiment'. "We are not going to mate for you. Do you understand?"

"We do not understand. Please explain the reason for your non-compliance."

"We don't want to. Not everyone is going to have sex just because you want them to."

"We only wish to observe. For research purposes."

"Okay, look," Bobbie sighed. "Humans have two genders, okay?"

"Opposite genders of human must mate to produce offspring. We understand this."

"Yes, but it's not the same for all humans. Some of us mate with the same gender, rather than the opposite."

There was a pause as the scientists took this in and conferred among themselves.

"Preference is not a factor in this experiment."

"It's not a preference!" Bobbie protested, then made an effort to calm her anger. Emotional baggage would not help this situation. "It's not a choice." She looked back to her science classes for the right vocabulary to make them understand. "If you choose incompatible test subjects, you won't get satisfactory results. I don't want to have sex with him." She pointed at the Doctor, who was reclining against the wall, looking impressed.

"And I don't want to have sex with her," he added. Some scepticism from the paranoid little voice must have shown on Bobbie's face, because the Doctor seemed surprised and smirkingly amused at her reaction.

Bobbie cleared her throat again, suddenly very embarrassed by what was clearly a hideous misconception.

"Trust me, you don't want us for your experiment," she told the Ecaiyosa scientists, who had a general air of what might've been disappointment. "We'd screw up your results."

There was some more inaudible discussion, before the one with the box said reluctantly, "You are correct. We concede. Apologies for inconvenience. You may leave."

The door hissed open, and the Doctor jumped up and clapped her on the shoulder. "Well done."

Despite her embarrassment, she grinned as they left the room.

"You know," he said conversationally, leading the way through the corridors, "you could have just brought up the fact that we're not the same species. They'd have understood that a lot faster."

Bobbie stared at him, her mouth open, then gave him a half-annoyed little shove as she followed him through the outer door and into the gardens. He laughed, fishing the TARDIS key out of his pocket.

"So, are you just particularly conceited today, or...?"

"What?"

He unlocked the TARDIS door. "You thought I wanted to have sex with you." He was holding back a very amused grin as he flicked switches at the console.

Bobbie flushed hotly, and folded her arms across her chest as though that might protect her from some of the humiliation. She couldn't even think how to form a reply.

"I'm just wondering why you thought that," the Doctor added calmly, still smiling.

"I ... I just misread stuff," she muttered, wondering if the TARDIS had a handy 'swallowed up by the floor' function. She summoned up a little courage, and added defensively, "You show me really awesome things."

The Doctor raised an eyebrow and smirked. "You'd prefer we did boring things?"

"That's not what I meant. I mean, you show me stuff, and then act like I should be snogging you as a thank you."

Both eyebrows went up this time, and he spluttered in protest. "I do not!"

"You do too!" Bobbie shot back. "You've always got this face on that says, 'I'm so awesome, everyone should just -' ..." She trailed off, mouth open, then she bit her lip and screwed her eyes shut. When she looked up at him, she was grinning widely. "You just want the praise!"

"What?"

"You do! That's why you show the amazing stuff and then get all smug and expectant, you just want people to tell you how brilliant you are!" Bobbie sank down into a seat, laughing.

The Doctor was opening and shutting his mouth like a goldfish, as though he couldn't understand how the conversation had taken such an abrupt turn.

"What?!"

"Oh, stop it," she admonished, giggling. "You're full of yourself, end of story."

He spluttered a little, then shot back, "Well you're the one who thought I wanted to sleep with you." He might as well have been childishly sticking his tongue out at her for all the authority his argument had, so Bobbie just kept giggling. The Doctor huffed and turned back to the console, stabbing buttons.

When her mirth abated, Bobbie wiped her eyes and sighed, more than a little relieved that she could carry on her travels with him without the awkwardness she'd been imagining for the past few months.

Seeing him still huffy, back turned, she got up and moved over to his side. She nudged his elbow with hers and nodded towards the console.

"Where are we going now, then?" she asked with a smile. "Somewhere cool?"

oOoOoOo
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