And then to have the police ask if they were having sex. How humiliating! More because she had to say no than anything. She'd traveled with him, stayed with him and he hadn't tried a thing. That didn't bother her necessarily, though it did make her wonder if something was wrong with her. She wasn't used to men acting that way.
All of it made her think. Is that how people saw her? A woman chasing after a man of mystery? Willing to jump in bed with him merely because he showed her things no one else could?
And then there was the other side of the argument. The one that bothered her more because she wondered if this wasn't closer to the truth.
What if she'd wanted to be his partner? Or wife? Had Jabe even stopped to consider that? No, she'd ignored Rose as if she was nothing more than a piece of chewed gum she'd barely avoided stepping in.
What was more, The Doctor had let her. He'd acted as if he'd never even thought of her like that. He'd gone off with Jabe and didn't seem to give Rose a second thought. That had hurt, though she'd pretended it didn't. She'd acted all happy, making jokes. That was what she did when she was hurt because it was easier than letting the other person know they'd gotten to her. Certainly, The Doctor wouldn't appreciate knowing his flirtations bothered her.
Oh, she'd told him to go, but surely any man worth his weight in gold would know you don't go off with another woman when you're traveling with one.
After all, he'd invited her to come along. Hadn't he? He'd come back for her even, adding in the part about the Tardis being a time machine. As if he hadn't known that would get her …
Well, of course he did.
Who did that without realizing there were implications behind such an invitation anyway? That any normal girl would think it meant he wanted something.
She could deal with the flirting. He was a good-looking, charismatic and - oh so - charming man. She just didn't like the ease with which he denied any sort of relationship between them. As if he didn't even think about it. That would just prick too deep.
What did that even mean? He'd take her traveling with him until he grew bored with her? Found someone younger, prettier, smarter, braver?
No, the last part she was fairly certain he'd be hard pressed to find someone better than her in that department. She'd proven she was brave. She'd even saved his life.
And what was she getting out of it?
Nothing. Besides adventure.
She liked that part of it. She just didn't like the looks or the questions some of the time. The unasked questions were okay, at least that way no one knew he didn't care for her that way. She'd thought he did, found her attractive. Not that she'd gone with him for that reason. It was just hard to know with him. There were times she thought… Well, that they shared a moment, something.
It wasn't as if she hadn't thought of him in that way before going with him. Of course she had. What woman wouldn't? Maybe boring women who didn't want any kind of excitement in their lives. That wasn't Rose. Rose had always been a dreamer, wanted to see the world, felt there was more to things than what she was dong. She liked to think she got that from her father.
It was the way he so quickly said no to the question when asked what she was to him that got her, she decided. As if the thought never occurred to him. There was no other excuse she could think of when it came to his denials with Jabe. With the policeman, however, he probably thought they were both lying since her mother was there.
She buried her face in her hands, realizing that was probably what her mother thought, too. And, really, shouldn't she be having the fun everyone assumed she was? Wasn't there some entitlement? Or was that just her ego rearing its ugly head, unable to handle the facts.
He found her sitting on a bench overlooking a pond. There was no one else around her, staying away as if they realized her mood was a tumultuous one. He didn't need his powers of perception to know that. Her mood was foul but there was an underlying confusion there as well. And then …
He frowned, trying to understand what else he was seeing there in her mind. He stepped up behind her, unsure at the emotions swirling around her. Her aura was a mess. He rested gentle hands against her shoulders, not surprised that she didn't so much as move. She was either so into herself at the moment or she'd been expecting him to follow.
He leaned over, mouth against her ear so he could whisper.
"Tell me why I see a red light when I look at you?"
She was quiet for several minutes. He felt the seconds tick past, assuming when so many had come and gone that she wasn't going to answer him. He heard the change in her breathing before she started to speak. It wasn't until he'd sat next to her on the bench that she actually spoke.
"They think I'm a whore," she said simply.
She sniffled and he realized she'd been crying. "Don't patronize me. Maybe they don't think that specific word, but that's what they think when they see us together. I'm nothing to you, so I have to be your whore."
He didn't think anyone really stopped to think what she might be to him, but decided that saying so might make things worse.
"I don't see why it matters what anyone but your mother thinks."
"Don't you get it? The policeman probably thinks…"
"You know the truth, though, isn't that what matters?"
"You're not normally this melancholy, so what's this really about?" Damned if he'd ever understand humans, particularly their women. This one was the first he'd spent any time with in this incarnation, but one thing he could count on was that she wasn't prone to moodiness.
She looked at him then, eyes examining his face closely. She did that sometimes, looked at him as if he held answers to questions she had. Maybe he did, but she never asked them.
"Tell me something."
"If I can," he said simply.
"Have you ever even thought…"
She clammed up then, turning her head to face the other way. Her hair hung by her side, a silk curtain blocking him from seeing the expression on her face.
"Rose," he said. "Look at me."
She didn't at first and he wasn't going to push her. He had, after all, all the time in the world. Time lords had that luxury, though sometimes it seemed more of a curse. Like now, waiting for a woman to make him understand what she was thinking.
He sighed, hands at his knees, the urge to get to the TARDIS and go strong. He never could stay in one place for very long. He just hoped Rose would come with him, because really he couldn't imagine anyone else travelling with him. She took to it so well, and other than her mother and that bloody boyfriend of hers she had no ties here. So, she was free to see the world in a way only he could offer her.
"Rose, I want you to travel with me."
"I know," she said, glancing at him, her eyes peeking out at him amidst all that hair.
"And you enjoy it?"
"Yes," she said, without hesitation.
He lifted a hand from his knee, offering it to her. "Isn't that all that matters?"
She took it. He thought of how small her hand was compared to his as she laced her fingers through his. Her hands would never change. One day, his would again. It might be tomorrow, next year, or ten years from now.
"Yeah, I guess it is."
"I mean, if you want me to introduce you as something else, I will. I didn't realize it bothered you, but it is what you are. My companion."
"It just sounds so… kept woman-like."
Some ducks waddled by, straying near their bench in the hopes of finding food, he imagined. A bench by a pond, it probably attracted plenty of lonely people who fed them. He could picture Rose coming here doing just that. If he'd left her here to her own devices long enough she probably would have.
He'd almost lost her, and he wasn't even sure what he'd done. Or hadn't done.
"What's with the red light?" he asked again, that bit of information still plaguing him.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she said.
"When I approached you, it was in your head. Something about a red light."
She laughed then, leaning her head against his shoulder. "I don't know, other than there are stories of prostitutes who put red lights in their windows… There's a song about it even. And that policeman, Jabe, and probably my own mother - that's what they think."
"Ah," he said. "Well, there are no red lights in the TARDIS, Rose."
She didn't say anything then, merely stood, tugging him with her by their joined hands. Evidently, he said the right thing. Or at least it was right now.
"Where to now then, Doctor?"
"Oh, I don't know," he said, leading her in the direction of the TARDIS' current location.
"Make it someplace fun."
"Yes, fun and posh and divine."
"All right then, let's see what we can come up with."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com