gracie_musica: David Tennant, Hamlet (brb brain melting)
[personal profile] gracie_musica
Title: Second Fiddle (1/10)
Date Written: 4/19/11
Rating: PG-13/T for later chapters
Word Count: 2,075
Fandom: BBC's Sherlock/Doctor Who
Disclaimer: Not mine, property of their respective owners
Characters/Pairings: John Watson/Donna Noble (yes. you read that right), Sherlock, Tenth Doctor
Spoilers: None, really
Warnings: Mentions of past drug abuse
Author's Notes: I blame [profile] midassa_in_gold for this, completely, utterly, and entirely. All of this. Thanks, as always, to my betas: [personal profile] totally4ryo, [profile] k8stamps, and [personal profile] gingerlr.

I've been sitting on this one since January; my second job and a bit of nervousness kept me from posting this until now. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


The sound of 80-plus keys going at 110 words per minute is almost as good as a white noise machine, John Watson thinks as he turns the newspaper to the next section. Almost, because the noise stops periodically, their new secretary pausing to shuffle notes around, or stopping to reread what she's written to make sure it makes sense.

Their secretary. His and Sherlock's. Mostly Sherlock's.

Okay, so in the three days she's been in their employ, Sherlock has used her exclusively to duck out of speaking to his brother, mouthing how he was out whenever the phone rings, like a teenager dodging an ex. And it is her idea to transcribe and file away all of the case files that Sherlock has never had time to put up on his website, spending her time typing and digitizing crime scene photos before packing everything away nice and tidy into boxes for storage. But still.

They... have a secretary.

The thought is sort of terrifying.

She is a nice woman -- Lady, he corrects mentally with a little shake of his head. Donna Noble. A friend of a friend of sorts; a colleague of one of Sherlock's extensive contacts, a tall, lanky thing that insists on being called The Doctor. 'Just the Doctor, Doctor Watson, thank you ever so much.'

This one is just as mad as Sherlock, but in a more kid at Christmas sort of way. Half the time he never stops talking, tearing at his hair, and bouncing in his trainers; the other half has him examining something or other with thick-rimmed square spectacles, spouting absolute nonsense, and -- twice -- licking the object in question. He and Donna have a bit more of a playful, familiar dynamic, the Doctor thinking big while Donna points out the smaller things, be they obvious or slightly obscure.

She has the Dewey Decimal System, of all things, memorized. And she had rearranged Sherlock's library accordingly on her first day. The strangled noise the dark-haired consulting detective had emitted at her blatant reorganization before sweeping through the flat to see if she'd disturbed any of his experiments had made John laugh aloud.

A sudden thought overtakes the doctor, and he looks up from his paper. "Oh God. Do we have to pay her?"

"I'd appreciate it." Donna's voice is right beside him, and John jumps in surprise. "But I promise not to hold my breath."

"Sorry." John shakes the paper out, closing it. "I shouldn't have said that aloud."

"More like I shouldn't have heard that. But what's done is done." Ginger hair swings as Donna turns to the cabinets. She wrinkles her nose when she sees how bare the shelves are. "Things are pretty bachelor pad-y in here, aren't they?"

She starts reaching for the next cabinet door, one that John knows for a fact has a pair of human fingers in a little glass container in it.

He pops up and puts his hand on the door as she tries to open it. "Yeah, you might want to, uh, not even bother, really." She raises an eyebrow and he gives her what he hopes is a charming smile. "Just, you know, half-empty jars of cocktail onions, that sort of thing. I've been meaning to do the shopping."

"If you make me a list and give me some cash, I'll go."

John shakes his head. "Don't bother. Were you looking for something specific?"

"Coffee, if you have any? Tea if you don't."

He thinks for a moment. "We have some instant coffee somewhere. No guarantees on if it's good or not."

Donna wrinkles her nose. "Nah. Tea it is then. Although I do know this trick with instant."

"Oh?"

She reaches across him for the kettle, empty but still slightly-warm from when Sherlock and the Doctor had blown in and out of the flat about an hour previously. "This bloke down in Cardiff taught it to me. If you put enough sugar in it, it will either rend it completely undrinkable or a coffee-flavored sludge that gives you one hell of a sugar rush."

John chuckles and leans against the counter, watching her at the sink. "The coffee they made in the break room at the hospital I did my residency at was... terrible. You could stand a spoon up in it."

"And when you pour it, it's like tar, yeah?" Donna grins as she leans back across him, turning on the hob. "The medical-types like their coffee strong enough to strip paint. I gained five to ten pounds each time I temped a medical office from the sugar and cream you've got to put in it to make it drinkable."

"You've temped a lot, then?"

"Excuse you, best temp in Chiswick." Donna moves for another cabinet, and for a moment John doesn't know if he'll have to explain something away. However, it proves to simply contain, among various cans, half a pack of biscuits.

"Is that how you and the Doctor met up?"

Donna pauses for a moment, halfway through the motion of pulling the plastic wrap off the sweets. "You know... Yeah, you could say that. The position became more permanent the second time around."

She smiles at him from across the table. "I'd never thought of it like that."

There are no clean mugs to be had, so John moves to wash out two in the sink. He pointedly ignores the petri dishes; Sherlock can clean his own messes. Who knows what he's had in them. "What is it that he... does, exactly?"

"Oh, you know. Travels. Sigh-sees. Takes in the local cultures. Saves the world sometimes. Pretty standard stuff."

John grins at her joke. "Yup. That sounds par for the course."

The kettle sings, and the two of them move to sit at one end of the table, Sherlock's test tubes carefully pushed to the middle of the table. "So you and him. How'd you fall in together?"

"Mutual acquaintance," John explains. "He heard we were both looking for flatmates. I'd just gotten back, didn't have a job yet."

Donna nods, biting into a biscuit. "That's right, you were in Afghanistan." At John's raised eyebrow, she gives a guilty grin. "Mrs. Hudson. You know us women." She makes a blabbing motion with her other hand. "She's terribly fond of both of you."

She doesn't ask about why he's home. Mrs. Hudson's sure to have told her. He fells oddly disappointed.

"She's fantastic," he agrees, because she really is.

"And then you started fighting crime together?"

"Well, my cape is still on order, but yes," John deadpans. The ginger-haired woman laughs, bright and easy, making the ex-soldier grin in return. "I feel more like a sitter with him, though."

"Tell me about it," she sighs. "Sometimes I think that if I wasn't around to follow after him, he'd do himself in. I mean, the oral fixation? It's like watching a toddler. 'No sir, you get that out of your mouth right this instant, who knows where it's been.'" She does the nanny impression complete with a hand on her hip and a finger wag. "And the man never sleeps. He calms down, gets quiet. He even goes into this meditative trance sometimes. But he doesn't truly sleep."

John nods in sympathy. "When Sherlock's working a case, he doesn't sleep. Or eat."

Donna blinks at John a few times. "He does know that the brain... needs things like food and sleep to work properly?" she hazards.

"He says digesting slows him down." She stares. He shrugs. "I've managed to get him to start drinking, so I'll give him broth that way. And liquid vitamin supplements."

"You've been dosing your flatmate?" the redhead sputters, laughing and wiping tea away from her mouth.

"Trust me, he knows. He's probably just humoring me. Anyway, it's part of my Hippocratic Oath," the doctor defends. "First, do no harm. I can't let him waste away while I stand by."

"Yeah, 'cause then who would pay half the rent?" Donna teases.

"Well, you could be my live-in assistant." Why, why, why does he always say things like that? It comes out so easily.

To her credit, Donna doesn't even blink. "That wouldn't make any sense. You'd be resigned to your mild mannered doctor civilian persona, making any reason why you'd need an attractive assistant void." She tilts her head from side to side. "Plus, I'd have to actually start paying bills, and why do that when the Doctor does it all for me now?"

John toasts her with his mug.

"When he's sleep deprived and hallucinating, how does he calm down enough to think?" she inquires.

"That's what the nicotine patches are for."

"Oh, well. Obviously." Donna takes a drink from her mug. "Recovering, or still using?"

"Definitely recovering. He's too jumpy. A few years, two at most,” he guesses. “I'm thinking cocaine. Although he's probably got a pot plant hidden around here somewhere. I try not to think about it too hard."

Donna nods. "It would help with the not eating thing."

They share a laugh before falling into an easy silence as they finish their snack, the quiet broken by the occasional loud engine going up and down Baker Street. John watches as his companion tucks a strand of copper-colored hair behind her ear and tilts her head a bit to catch a glimpse of the newspaper headline. His gaze sweeps down to the hand holding the mug, watching the way her thumb mindlessly rubs the handle. As he watches, she brings the mug up to her mouth. Kisses the ceramic, leaving behind a faint crimson smudge of tinted lipstick.

He swallows at the same time she does, his throat dry.

"If you get the camera, I'll pose for you."

"What?"

Donna sighs heavily and gives him a long-suffering look. "You've been staring for the past ten minutes, Doctor Watson."

Busted. John just smiles his most winning smile.

"So. Are you going to ask me, or am I going to have to be modern and ask you?"

John frowns, casting his gaze around the kitchen as if some clue is miraculously going to pop out of the walls and tell him what he needs to know. That skill, however, remains in Sherlock's domain and he is forced to make her elaborate. "Ask me what?"

"Out on a date." She is so matter of fact and direct about it that he laughs a little in surprise. She looks offended. "What? We get on well and you're clever, entertaining, and not half bad to look at." A small frown graces her features. "Unless you're not -- "

"No!" The word rushes out of him before she can finish the thought. "No. That's -- uh, that's not it." He takes a deep breath. "Dinner?"

Donna smiles like the cat that's got the cream. "I've been wanting to try the curry shop 'round the corner."

"It's good," John reassures her.

"You buy dinner, I'll get the drinks after if dinner goes well?"

The tease is there, and God help him, he can't resist. "And if it goes poorly?"

Donna stands and gathers up their now-empty mugs. She leans in close when she takes his, close enough that he can smell something light and floral on her skin, perfume, or maybe scented soap. "It won't."

She says it with such determination that John can't help but believe her. Despite the almost-certain jinx he's placed on it.

Two pairs of feet come thundering up the stairs, heralding the return of their two resident head cases. Donna sets the dishes in the sink as the Doctor and Sherlock burst in, greets both of them by name, then turns her attention back to John. "Is seven okay?

The blonde sneaks a glance at his watch, well aware of the two new pairs of eyes on him. It's almost four. Plenty of time. "Seven's -- seven's great," he agrees.

"Seven it is then." She beams and picks up her purse, slinging it over her shoulder. "See you then."

John gives a little wave as she leaves the flat. The Doctor and Sherlock watch her leave, both immediately grasping what has happened. The brown-haired man looks from Donna's retreating form to John and back again before abandoning the consulting detective and chasing after her, calling out her name.

Sherlock just sighs and rolls his eyes as he hangs up his coat.

This was going to be fantastic.
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