Title: Better Woman
Rating: All ages
Genre: Angst, romance
Summary: Sequel to Better Man.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who.
Author's Notes: to JennyLD for the beta, the idea, and the *ahem* encouragement, shall we say?
"Trust me," the Doctor pleaded.
Rose looked around them, at the home of Reinette, and he could see that she didn't.
Knowing this was going to be hard for both of them, he came to a halt, pressing the fingers of his free hand lightly to her lips. "We need to stay quiet." He started to move his hand, then warned, "As a mouse," before dropping his arm to his side. Gesturing for her to look around the corner, he drew in a breath and waited.
Down the hall just a ways, was Reinette. And him. He had his back to the wall, while Reinette pressed herself against him, breasts spilling out of her gown, smile lifting her lips, her perfect beauty focused entirely on him.
He couldn't say he'd been unaffected.
Rose pulled back angrily, opening her mouth to protest, but he shook his head, pressing his lips shut tight.
When voices floated to them from the other couple, he gently nudged her closer to the corner. She reluctantly glanced around it, fingers clutching the fabric on the walls, nails digging into the wallpaper.
Reinette's voice was light and airy as she spoke, and he could remember the feel of her body pressed tightly to his. Remember how he'd felt disappointed that it wasn't Rose instead.
"I am sure they will be fine, Doctor. Did you not say so yourself only an hour past?"
His own voice drifted down the hall in response. "Yes, I did, and I'm sure she's fine. She can take care of herself, oh, she's brilliant, is Rose. But she's also a bit jeopardy-friendly."
Reinette's smile had dropped into a pout and her eyes had closed as she gave a heaving-bosom sort of sigh. "Every other word out of your mouth is Rose, Doctor. Rose this, Rose that." She waved a hand in the air, lips pouting even further as she moved in closer, sliding her hands up to caress the back of his neck and tangle in his hair. Lowering her voice, she'd slid a hand down to his chest, planting her palm flush against his hearts. "Rose is but a child, Doctor. I--" she pressed her lips to his and didn't pull back as she continued to speak. "I am a woman."
Then she'd kissed him.
He felt Rose's body tense beside him. Settling his hands softly, but firmly, on her shoulders, he slid one down to caress the middle of her back.
Though eventually he'd grabbed Reinette and pushed her away, tearing his lips from hers, he'd allowed her to kiss him. Let it happen far longer than he should've and now Rose knew that.
But this was what the Doctor wanted her to see. That he'd stopped Reinette from kissing him. And--
"I need to get back to Rose-- to the ship."
That was the first time he'd felt unsettled by Reinette, when he saw her smirk and heard her haughty voice. "I saw into your mind, Doctor."
Involuntarily, he tightened his grip on Rose's shoulder, knowing what was coming, bracing himself for it. She glanced at him with a frown, holding his gaze for a few seconds before tearing her eyes from his, and, listening intently, peered carefully around the corner again.
"I saw your feelings for her," Reinette was saying, and he could still feel her fingers trailing down his cheek. "For the child. For Rose Tyler, a common shop girl." She'd leaned forward and whispered, in a near taunt, "You are in love with her."
Rose's back went ramrod straight as she swung her head toward him. They both heard his voice, stiff and angry, but neither paid it much attention anymore. Reinette and the other him continued to converse as Rose stared at him. "Is that true?"
"That's none of your business," the other him said, and he couldn't have agreed less.
He nodded, taking Rose's hand in his. "Yes."
"Doctor, you may love the child--"
"You're going too far," the other Doctor warned Reinette, but she spoke right over him.
"--but I love you, and I think you care for me as well." There was a moment of silence but for a rustle of skirts from Reinette and an indrawn breath from Rose. "You do not even know if she cares for you as you do for her. With me, you can be assured of my feelings."
"Rose," he whispered, settling his free hand on her cheek.
Heart pounding in time with his thoughts, he watched Rose lift her head, no longer hiding her feelings from him. It was there in her eyes, in her lips as she opened them to speak, then closed them with a nod of her head. And he could see that, yes, she loved him too.
"I do care for you, Reinette. I do, but it's only been a few hours since I first met you and you were a child then."
"She is a child now," Reinette snapped.
Rose frowned at the wall, beyond which he was busy detangling himself from Reinette's grabby hands and limbs.
"That's enough," his voice rang out, clear and angry.
The Doctor tightened his fingers around Rose's and quickly drew her down the corridor with him. He had brought her here to witness that exchange... had wanted her to know his feelings. To know that he loved her. That he was in love with her.
That no other woman could hold his attention more than momentarily next to her.
Two corridors away, she came to a halt, drawing him to one as well. "Wait." She smiled and the full wattage of that smile, as it always did, nearly felled him.
A flood of fondness went through him, and his love for her grew like the Grinch's heart. Taking the two steps needed to close the distance between them, he watched her for a moment before brushing his knuckles lightly along her cheek.
Her eyes slid shut for a moment, then opened again with a heated gaze. "Looks like the better woman didn't win after all.
His own lips turned up in a soft smile. "You're wrong," he told her, bending down to kiss her. "She did."