aibhinn_fics: (DW Ten  Lover-Friend)
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Title: Good Enough (1/2?)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] aibhinn
Rating: Teen
Pairing: Ten/Rose
Spoilers: through Tooth and Claw
Warnings: None
Summary: Rose is convinced she's not good enough for the Doctor. He has to convince her otherwise.
Author's Note: This was originally intended to be a drabble, believe it or not, for [livejournal.com profile] debs7, who stumped me in my "Stump the Author" meme. I started writing, and the characters took over. It's not my fault. Really, it's not! [livejournal.com profile] debs7, I hope you enjoy. :)



The invasion was over; now the celebration could begin. Rose and the Doctor, in their very poshest clothes (and the TARDIS had certainly come through for her, Rose thought; she'd never worn anything as beautiful as this off-the-shoulder crimson gown with matching ruby earrings and necklace), had been invited to the opening ball of the Season by the Duchess Ravina herself, the ruler of this world.

"Not bad," the Doctor said approvingly as they stepped inside the ballroom. "Not bad at all. Even the Victorians couldn't have matched this level of richness. Now, the champagne is a bit stronger than what you're used to, so you might want to keep to one glass, and you definitely want to avoid the blue canapes—they're not precisely poisonous to humans, but you won't like the reaction you get after you eat them. Aside from that, let us eat, drink, and be merry, for today, nobody died!"

He lifted a pair of champagne flutes off a tray held by a passing maid, and handed one to Rose. They clinked glasses solemnly and drank. Rose was thoroughly pleased with herself and with the Doctor; this had been one of the easiest rescues they'd performed, and it was certainly nice to actually be invited to the party, rather than run out of town with a lynch party after them. "Looks like one hell of a party," she said to the Doctor.

"You should dance," he said. She glanced at him, raising an eyebrow, and he bumped her shoulder with his. "Go on. You'd be brilliant at it! Get one of these blokes to ask you. They're all simply dying to, you know."

"Indeed," said another voice, and the two of them swung round to see who it was. The Duchess stood before them, tall and regal. The native Der'henians had all dropped into deep bows or curtsies, and Rose dropped a small curtsy of her own, for politeness' sake. "Your Grace," she said.

"Dame Rose, Sir Doctor," Duchess Ravina said grandly, "I'm so pleased you were able to attend this ball as my personal guests. You have my thanks, both on my own behalf and on behalf of my people, for your actions today. I do hope you take every chance of enjoying yourself." Her gaze fell directly on the Doctor, and Rose suddenly felt as though she'd been completely dismissed from the Duchess's awareness. "Now, you, Sir Doctor," Duchess Ravina said in what could only be described as a purr, "shall be my escort. It's hardly fitting for me to walk about the ballroom on my own, after all, and my previous escort is—indisposed. You will do me this honour, I hope?"

Rose looked at the Doctor, and frowned. He was staring at the Duchess as though nothing existed but her. His eyes were wide, his jaw slightly open, his face pale enough that his freckles stood out sharply in contrast. "Y-yes," he squeaked. "Yes, of course. Anything you like."

He held out his arm and the Duchess took it daintily, then, without a word to Rose, the two of them simply walked away. She stared after them, her own jaw hanging open. He just—they just—without a word to her!

The Duchess leaned up to whisper something into the Doctor's ear, and he chuckled, turning to grin intimately at her. A cold, heavy emptiness descended on Rose's heart and she looked away, blindly taking a drink of her champagne. This was just like Platform One, way back when, with Jabe. They were just friends, she reminded herself. Mates. Comrades. Nothing else going on between them. Why should she be upset that he'd found someone to spend some quality time with? That was hardly fair of her.

The Duchess's tinkling laugh reached her ears, accompanied by the Doctor's low chuckle, and Rose fought desperately against the tears that tried to well up. She would not cry in the middle of a ball at the Der'henian palace. She would not. Swallowing hard, she plastered a fake smile on her face and approached one of the maids who was circulating with canapes. "Excuse me," she said. "Where's the ladies'?"

The maid turned to gesture. "Out that door, down the hall, and to the right, ma'am," she said politely.

"Thank you." Keeping her head high and her shoulders back, Rose swept out of the room and down the hall. But when she got there, the ladies' room—which consisted of two rooms, a lounge and a multi-cubicled loo—was filled with high-ranked women in their gowns, fanning themselves and talking about other people. Their eyes turned to her as she opened the door, and she felt the weight of their gazes. It was like she could read their minds: What are you doing here? You don't belong here. Common, uneducated, useless, dull, backwards….

"S-sorry," Rose said with a ghastly attempt at a smile, and shut the door again. She pressed her back against the wall, tilting her head until it thumped lightly against the rich wallpaper, and closed her eyes. The tears were going to come; she could feel the hot pressure behind her eyes, the tightness in her throat. Briefly she considered going back to the TARDIS, but discarded the idea immediately. That would be running away, and Jackie Tyler's daughter didn't run away. Besides, the Doctor would be looking for her in a little while, and she didn't want him to know she'd had a jealous fit and run away like a child to pout somewhere.

But she had to find somewhere to be alone, if only for a few minutes.

Wiping surreptitiously at the corners of her eyes, she continued on down the hall, trying doors at random, until she found one that opened into a small room. The furniture inside was covered with sheets to protect it from dust—it certainly wasn't a room someone would be likely to pop into at any time. With relief, she closed the door and flipped one of the sheets away so she could curl up on a brocaded divan and finally, finally let the tears flow.

***

Duchess Ravina smiled at the Doctor. It was undoubtedly intended to be a seductive smile, but the pointed teeth of Der'henians made it look almost feral. He was grateful all over again that he'd been able to get Rose away from the Duchess; Der'henian women, particularly women of rank, did not take kindly to rivals, and once she'd shown an interest in the Doctor, he'd had to work fast to make it look as though Rose meant nothing special to him. He hoped he'd succeeded. "You've made some enemies here tonight, Doctor," she said.

"Oh, really?" he asked, surprised, in his most vapid tone. Not that anyone of his brainpower could do vapid well, of course, but it did manage to disarm people most of the time; they gave away more than they realised when they thought he wasn't all that bright. "How could that happen? I've not hurt anyone. Well, except for the invaders who were trying to assassinate you, but of course they weren't really much of a threat. Hard to miss them, really, fifteen feet tall and all. A trip wire would've done it. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Besides, I'm not really enemy material. Get along with anyone, that's me." He grinned goofily.

"You've spent more than half an hour in my company," she pointed out, her fingers tightening slightly on his arm. "And everyone here knows what that means."

"Oh, they do?" he asked, feeling the familiar frisson of worry run through him. "Good. That's, er, that's good. Erm, what does it mean?"

"That you'll be accompanying me back to my bedchamber, of course," she said with a delicate laugh. "Most of the men in this room have been vying to be my bedmate for the last six weeks since my previous bedmate's death, but they don't interest me in the slightest. Ordinary, boring, politicking, scheming courtiers, the lot of them. Now you…." She looked him up and down, and this time the expression on her face was definitely predatory. "You could certainly add a bit of interest to the gene pool. That hair, and those eyes, and those things all over your skin…."

"Freckles," he said, feeling his stomach plunging towards his feet. His mind buzzed, trying to think of a way out. "Right. Gene pool. So, erm, I'd better go find my, er, companion and tell her to go on alone. Shouldn't I?"

"Oh, yes," the Duchess purred. "Most definitely." She released his arm, and he tried not to breathe out a sigh of relief. He'd have bruises. "Go on, but come back soon. I want the rest of this useless conglomeration of bluebloods to see how deeply you are in my favour."

"Yes," the Doctor said, hoping desperately that she was speaking figuratively. Not that he was planning to be there for it, anyway…. "Right-o. Back in a tick."

He dashed off, looking for Rose. He reckoned that once he'd found her, they'd have a grand total of about ten minutes to make it back to the TARDIS before they were captured and arrested—doable, but not easily. The sooner he found her, the sooner they could get out of here.

A flash of blonde hair caught his eye, and he saw her coming back into the ballroom. Relief filled him, and he made a beeline for her, taking her elbow and turning her around, leading her out into the hallway again. "Quick escape," he said under his breath, nodding politely to two Der'henian woman who passed them. "Straight back to the TARDIS, right now."

"What've you done this time?" Rose asked.

"Oi! It wasn't me. How was I to know she wanted a sex slave, not just a nice little chat? And I gather I'm supposed to be well chuffed at the thought of being chained to her bed for the next few months until she gets tired of me and has me killed."

Rose glanced at him curiously as they began to descend the broad, formal staircase. "Slave?" she repeated. "Then why'd she let you go? I'm guessing she did, since we're not already running."

"I told you, I'm meant to be pleased by her 'attentions,'" he said, most of his focus on the people around him—particularly the guards. Were they looking at him funny? Wondering why he was leaving? That one just shifted—was he about to stop them? "I told her I was walking you to the TARDIS so you can be on your way and leave me with her. I reckon we've only got a few minutes until they come looking for me, so we'll just make sure we look like I'm escorting you like a gentleman. Then I can slip into the TARDIS and we can dematerialise before they can stop us."

The guard turned away after giving them a hard look, and the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief. Out the door they went and down the last few steps, and at last, the TARDIS was in sight, only about a hundred and fifty metres ahead. They were going to make it! Well, of course they were; they always did, didn't they? Except when they didn't. But he didn't really fancy trying to break out of prison with poor Rose in that gown and those shoes and—

"STOP THEM!" a voice shouted from behind them.

"Run!" the Doctor yelped, and they pelted for the TARDIS. The Doctor was prepared to pick Rose up and carry her if she couldn't run in those shoes, but amazingly enough, she managed it, even on the gravel walk. He had his key out and ready, slid it into the lock as soon as they got there, and then slammed the door behind them once they were inside. He leapt up the ramp to the console and slammed down the dematerialisation lever, grinning as the Time Rotor started up.

He laughed. "There we are!" he said, feeling terribly proud of himself. "All safe and sound, and the bad old Duchess left behind. 'Course, she'll just choose someone else as a sex slave, but since they really are honoured to be chosen, at least it'll be someone who knows what he's getting into. So to speak." He turned around and reached for Rose, pulling her into a hug.

It seemed she hesitated for a moment before hugging him back, and when she did finally wrap her arms around him, it was oddly tentative. Frowning, he pulled back enough to look down into her face. "Rose?" he asked.

"Yeah?" She glanced away, but not before he saw her smeared makeup and red eyes. Someone had made her cry. His jaw set, anger pooling deep in his belly, and he placed a hand on her cheek. "What happened?" he demanded.

She blinked, looking back at him in surprise. "What d'ya mean?"

"You've been crying." She started to protest, but he cut her off. "No, don't. I know you have. Who made you cry, Rose?"

She flushed. "Doctor, it's—it's all right, it's nothin', just a misunderstandin'—"

"Are you hurt?" He turned her face this way and that, looking for injury. "Did someone hit you? Or was it one of those noblewomen? You mustn't listen to anything they say, Rose. They're not judging you for you, they're judging you by their standards, which have nothing to do with you." Reassuring or angry? He didn't know which he'd rather be—or, more accurately, which was the best way to react to the situation. But the knowledge that someone had made Rose cry was utterly unacceptable. Rose should never cry, ever.

"I'm not hurt," she said, looking away again. "And nobody said anything to me. It's just… it was a misunderstandin', like I said. Can we leave it at that?"

"Rose, please," he begged. "Please, tell me, why were you crying? Someone must have done something to hurt you, emotionally if not physically. What happened?"

She closed her eyes, and he could see her come to a decision. His relief was short-lived, though.

"You, Doctor," she said quietly but firmly. "You hurt me. I was crying because of you."

tbc
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