Title: Better Man
Author: sinecure
Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose
Rating: Angst
Summary: The Doctor is enlightened.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who. (insert witty reason why, here)
Author's Notes: Thanks, as always, to my beta, JennyLD.

The Doctor leaned back against the marble pillar behind him, eyes seeking out Rose. She was there, across the square, the colorful dancers obscuring his view of her every few seconds. The music drifting in the cool night air did its best to accompany the myriad voices reaching his ears from the revelers.

She looked happy, he thought. For the first time in a long time, she looked genuinely happy; smiling up at the boy she'd spent most of the evening with.

His fingers tightened around the thin stem of his glass.

Well. Feeling the stem beginning to crack, he tossed back the rest of his drink and then set the glass on a nearby table. She deserved a little happiness. With Mickey gone now, off playing hero in a parallel universe, and her parallel father from the same universe rejecting her... it was good to see her smiling again.

It'd be nice if it he was the one making her happy, but this was good too.

He was probably just being selfish. Just because the beach planet with the giant, multi-colored jellyfish hadn't cheered her up, didn't mean anything. Nor did the fact that she'd barely managed a smile on Frilledjin when she saw its floating city.

All his ramblings had gone to waste then, he knew. She hadn't been paying the slightest bit of attention.

But then they'd come here, to Ralstinta. A nice happy planet, with nice happy people, who wanted nothing more than to spend two nights a week partying in nice happy bliss.

Today had been nice. Better than nice. The first real Rose-smile he'd spotted in what felt like forever had him feeling lighter. But then he'd seen the person making her smile. She really seemed to have a way of attracting the pretty boys.

Always the pretty ones.

Pushing his thoughts away, he decided he'd had enough of brooding. Not that he was. Time Lords didn't brood. Certainly not. They... thought a lot. Were pensive. Meditative. Contemplative. Not like he sat around thinking about why Rose didn't seem happy anymore when she was around him . Nah. He'd simply been brood-- reflecting on the best ways to get his companion back to her old self.

Straightening away from the pillar, the Doctor spotted Rose through the throng of revelers and headed toward her. The admirer that'd been hanging around her all night was still there. He wasn't really sure he liked the boy at all. Didn't trust him. Well. Didn't like him.

He was shifty, that boy was. All blonde hair and roaming eyes. With hands that probably wanted to roam as much as his eyes did.

Slipping past a particularly loud, drunken man who was trying his level best to kiss the equally drunk woman with him, the Doctor very nearly ended up snogged by the both of them. He wiped his cheek off, struggling out of their arms and legs, which were grabbing, pulling, seizing everything within reach in an effort to draw the other closer.

"Oi," he griped, finally freeing himself from them. He paused to smooth out his suit, raising an annoyed eyebrow at the creases on his arms from the grabby hands. Nothing for it now. He was stuck in a wrinkled suit until they went back to the TARDIS. Just as well. It was a nice excuse. Not that he needed one.

But the boy was shifty!

Rose was sitting on a bench, watching said boy walk away, a frown on her brow. She looked deep in thought.

Dropping down next to her with a heavy sigh, the Doctor bumped her shoulder with his own. "Plum tuckered out yet? Sick of all of this happiness? Miss the TARDIS? Wanna leave? Excellent!" He clapped his hands together and stood up, waiting for her.

She didn't move. Her eyes found his, as if just noticing him for the first time.

That annoyed him. His own eyes slid back to the boy. Still shifty.

"Lou leave ya, then?" His mouth twitched, anticipating the annoyed glare she'd send him. The humor she'd fight, but he'd be able to see no matter how hard she tried to deny it.

She nodded.

Well that wasn't any fun. No smiling. No telling him the boy's name was Lewristronal, thank you very much, and please don't shorten it to belittle him.

"Rose?" Concern flitted through him. Had the boy done something to her? "What's wrong?" He sat back down again, turning to face her.

She shrugged a bit, less of an effort, more of a careless movement. "Just thinking, that's all. About something Lewristronal said. Same thing Adam, Jack, and Mickey all said. I knew it was true, even back then. And I liked that it was." She picked up a glass from beside her, eyeing the contents with a passive look. "'It'd take a better man than me to come between you and the Doctor.'"

The Doctor frowned. Why was she upset over that? He certainly agreed with the words. Adam and Mickey hadn't stood a chance of coming between them. Jack, though, he had. Hadn't he? Not that he'd ever given the captain the opportunity. The jealousy his previous incarnation had displayed had Jack backing off rather quickly.

He was still rather proud of that.

"They were wrong," Rose continued, tossing back the rest of the amber liquid in her glass while watching a couple dancing nearby.

"What?" His brain was certainly capable of coming up with better responses than that, but at the moment, he was too startled to do more than stare at her.

Her eyes followed the dancing couple so closely that he turned to see what was so captivating about them.

It was a woman in a yellow gown, reminiscent of 17th Century Earth ball gowns. Her dark blonde hair was up in a sweeping style with small tendrils framing her face. The man with her was wearing a brown suit. There was nothing special about them at all. They were a handsome couple certainly, but that didn't help him to understand Rose's fascination with them.

She was watching the couple with a sad smile. Suddenly, she shook herself and stood up, glancing down at him. "All it took was a better woman."

His eyes slid back to the dancing couple, finally noticing a slight resemblance to Reinette and... oh.