AN: Happy anniversary Doctor Who!
"OW! What the—" He felt a warm trickle slide down his face and put a hand to his stinging nose.
"Doctor!" Rose came into view above him. "Are you okay?"
"Do I look okay?" he said with a groan. "Ouch. What did you hit me for?"
"I didn't." Rose turned her head, and the Doctor followed her gaze.
There was quite a crowd now. Most of them looked curious, but Elsa's face was set.
Women. Now what had he done? He allowed Rose to help him to his feet and press a tissue into his hands.
"Is it broken?"
"No. Ow." The Doctor tried to stop the bleeding while Rose shooed everyone away, except Elsa.
"Why'd you hit me?" he asked her.
"I think you know."
"I really don't. You don't even know me."
"I know enough about you."
The Doctor turned to Rose. "What have you been saying to her?"
Rose started to say what sounded like 'nothing', but Elsa cut over her. "She's told me about your dalliances—"
"My what? "
"Elsa—" Rose protested
"How can you betray your wife like this—"
"—and under her nose in public at that—Rose is the sweetest girl and you don't deserve her!"
"ELSA!" Rose yelled, finally getting her attention. "I think there's been some kind of misunderstanding here. We're not a couple."
"But—" Elsa blushed, so that her fuchsia face looked crimson. "You said he was your companion—"
"Yeah, companion, not husband!"
Elsa frowned, looking more confused than ever. "But—"
"Oh," the Doctor said suddenly.
They both looked at him, Rose's eyes narrowing. "Yes, Doctor?"
He had the grace to look embarrassed. "I'm sorry, the fault is mine. In some cultures, the word 'companion' is a bit more specific in its definition—to be more precise, synonymous with … spouse."
"And you only just realised that now?"
"I've been to other places where it was the case, but I never realised it was the case here."
"So you're telling me, for the whole time we've been here, we've been telling everyone we're …"
"Married?" he said. "Yeah, pretty much."
Elsa was looking from one to the other. "You're … really just friends?"
"Yes, just friends," Rose said.
"Who share a flat," the Doctor added. "In a completely platonic sense."
Elsa burst out laughing. "I'm sorry," she said. "Really."
The Doctor grinned. "I suppose it is a bit funny—Ow."
"Rose," Elsa said, "why don't you go and ask Zam for some ice?"
"Good idea. Back in a sec."
Once his theoretically platonic companion had gone back inside, Elsa addressed him firmly. "Doctor."
"What you did with Naradi—"
"I didn't do anything! Not intentionally. I got coffee on me and she tricked me into the Snogroom. Wait—companion …" It hit him. "I said my companion, no wonder she got mad. She thought I meant wife."
"Doctor. I saw the way Rose looked at you when you were with her. If I were you, I'd avoid all forms of flirting in future. And any woman who tries to get you into a cupboard," she added as an afterthought.
"Elsa, Rose and I are just friends."
"And if I believed you," she said with a small smile, "we wouldn't be having this conversation."
There was a long pause. "What do you think I should do?"
"You mean besides not flirting with anyone in front of her?" Elsa sighed. "I don't know. I don't know you two well enough for that, obviously. Besides … I think I've interfered in other people's relationships enough for one day."
Rose returned with ice bundled in a cloth. "Got it. You two kissed and made up yet?"
The Doctor coughed awkwardly, which turned into an 'ouch' as Rose gently wiped blood off his nose.
"S'okay." He let her finish cleaning him up, not missing Elsa's knowing smile behind Rose's back, before holding the ice to his nose. Oooh … that was a good idea. "Thanks."
"Let me treat you two to a meal out," Elsa said. "To say sorry. Please."
She wouldn't take no for an answer, so while they were waiting for the Doctor's nose to stop bleeding they made arrangements to meet at a traditional Yle restaurant not far from the supermarket that night.
"I think it's stopped," the Doctor said at last, gingerly feeling his nose. "Blimey, Elsa's got a mean fist on her. Think she rivals your mother as top people I don't want to piss off."
"I should probably get back to work," Rose said. "You're sure you're okay now?"
"Yeah. And I think I'll head back to the flat now. And if you see Naradi, tell her we're not … On second thoughts, don't tell her anything, if she thinks we're married it'll stop her trying to get me in there again." He paused, looking Rose in the eye. "I swear, I didn't know what she was up to."
Her mouth twitched. "All right, I believe you. Maybe I'll just let on that I know," she said thoughtfully. "She might feel guilty enough to let me have her shift next week …"