"Well, they've fallen on hard times so probably don't get many people walking in off the street and spending so much."
"You didn't have to buy so much. Or are you planning on us being here a while?"
"There's so much of it, Doctor. Not to mention there are clothes in the wardrobe room."
"Not at all, Rose. Besides, these are timeless, classic, which means they'll be good for traveling to almost any period or place. And they're yours, for you. 'bout time you had your own things, I reckon."
"Oh," she said, not having thought of that. She looked at things like hoop skirts and corsets as being rather archaic. She wondered if the Doctor was planning on helping her into and out of the contraption made of whalebones and God knew what else. She got a little excited at the idea he wanted her to have her own things, leave her own mark on the TARDIS.
She stepped aside, allowing a group of women close to her age pass. None looked very happy and their conversation stopped once they'd approached the Doctor and Rose.
"Wow, if looks could kill, yeah? What's the deal with that?" She glanced over her shoulder at the women in question. Two were looking back at her, and Rose saw resentment in those eyes.
"Those women, staring daggers at me," Rose said.
"Probably just jealous to see you parading down Peachtree Street with an armful of goods," he said. "War, Rose. There's a war going on here, which means many don't have the money to buy new material for a dress let alone as much as we just bought."
Rose had blushed terribly when the Doctor had picked out everything for her, right down to her undergarments. The shopkeeper had been hesitant at first; for it was clear they were not married. Evidently, the idea of a good amount of money had overridden whatever prudish ideas she might have had in her head.
"The two really giving it to you were wearing black."
"Rose," he said, as if she'd just made the mistake of thinking there was already electric light here. "Widows wear black. They've lost a loved one and are in mourning, therefore, could not wear the colorful garments you are and aren't supposed to indulge in shopping sprees as you so obviously just did."
"Oh," she said, realizing she was saying that a lot. Traveling with him was always an adventure. Widows? They were so young. She hoped it was fathers or brothers rather than a husband they'd lost.
"So, we're going to that bazaar thing tonight, yeah?" The shopkeeper had prattled on about it, probably thinking the Doctor would spend more money there.
"Figured we should. We're here, why not? Take in the local flavor," he said.
"It did sound fun," Rose agreed. "And it would be a change of pace. No threats on our lives. No aliens. Just mingling among some Colonials."
Rose was surprised when a doorman at their hotel opened the door for them. It wasn't something she was used to. In her time, you had to pay way more than she could afford to get service like that at a hotel. She had to admit, there were some things about traveling to the past she enjoyed.
Their suite was magnificent. Huge and luxuriously decorated. Her bed was soft and the canopy above it made it seem like a princess' bed. The only drawback was the lack of indoor plumbing, but otherwise little was spared as far as comforts went. And she could always go to the TARDIS if she wanted a shower instead of a bath. She knew they were probably going to be here a while when he took the room. The TARDIS was well hidden at the moment, a benefit of being in a time when there weren't buildings and people crawling over every inch of a town.
A little while later she stood in her bedroom. The garter belt and stockings she could handle herself, same as the chemise. She was glad she'd tried some of the things on at the shop, otherwise she wouldn’t know the chemise went under the corset. The silk of the stockings was softer than anything she'd ever had against her skin. And people dressed like this every day here.
Then there were the knickers. The Doctor could dress her from head to toe in whatever garb he wanted, but she was going to hold onto her expensive knickers that probably had no business being the bottom layer of clothes meant to keep a woman a virgin until her wedding night.
She eyed the corset and gown he'd picked out for the evening. The thing was vile. Try as she might, she couldn't tie it herself. The shopkeeper probably assumed she had a servant to handle such a task. Unfortunately, there was no way she was going to get into the dress without it, she'd tried at the shop hoping she could bypass it.
"Doctor," she called out, holding the corset up so she'd be ready for him to lace it up as soon as he came in. No need prolonging it. Only, he didn't come in. Well, where was he when he needed her? He was prompting her to get a move on things when he realized how late it'd gotten at dinner.
"Doctor," she called again. "I need you to…"
"Yes," he said, now standing in the doorway. He took up so much space, she realized. Her eyes widened as she took in what he was wearing. He was dressed in period clothes himself, right down to the fancy-type tie she'd seen in old photographs. He looked, using his word, fantastic. Really fantastic. She pressed her tongue against her teeth, letting her mind wander a bit.
"You're not dressed," he said, glancing at her in the mirror he was standing in front of to adjust the tie. She noticed he held a stickpin, so she must have interrupted him. His hands paused a little in their effort. He appeared to be having a little difficulty with it. What was that about?
"Well, I need you to," she held up the corset then. "I'm not coordinated enough to do it up myself."
"Oh, right, just give me a minute."
"Thank you. Maybe I could help you?"
"No, I've almost…" he let out a small cry of triumph, "got it. Now let's get you dressed," he said, turning to face her. She gave him points for not looking anywhere but at her face despite the flimsy chemise. Then again, she'd often wondered if she interested him that way. He didn't look at her much, and she'd tried.
Inwardly, she gave a small cry of triumph herself when she noticed his eyes did dance along the length of her body. So, he wasn't immune, and evidently it'd taken her parading around in her underthings to get him to look at her. Probably something best stored for later, she realized.
"All right then, not too tight," she said, turning away from him. "I'd like to breathe, please." Now that she had confirmation, she wasn't quite sure what to do with it.
If she wasn't mistaken by the way he touched her, he wasn't sure either. His hands were confident as he tugged on the laces before fastening it, but when finished he didn't seem to know whether to let her go or not.
"Too tight then, Miss Tyler?"
She took a breath, running her hands along her stomach and hips. It felt so odd, but she could breathe and it wasn't painfully uncomfortable. "It should be fine," she said. "What's with the Miss Tyler bit?"
"We're in more formal times. People didn't just throw around other people's given names."
"Forget formality, I'm Rose to you, always have been, always will be."
She'd have it no other way.
If she wasn't mistaken his head was precariously close to hers, as if he was - oh God - breathing her in. That sent shivers down her spine, which made him withdraw completely. She didn't want him to go, but was afraid if she said anything he'd run to the next room. And now that she was on the brink of getting dressed up, she wanted to go out and see Atlanta. With him as her escort.
"Do you need help with the dress?"
"The buttons maybe. How did single women function without servants?"
"I'm not sure I can answer that."
"Not being a single woman, eh?"
She gathered the dress from the bed and straightened, turning to face him.
"No, don't," he said. "Stop," he added, sounding almost frightened. She did stop, not sure why or if he even really wanted her to. His don't and stop sounded kind of hesitant. He said nothing more, so she wasn't sure what he wanted. Her back to stay toward him, maybe? She glanced at her chest. With the corset tied as it was… Oh, yeah, kind of enhanced her feminine bits. They were so there, looking rounder and plumper than she'd ever thought them to be.
She slipped the gown over her head and waited for him to fasten the buttons, which he did in a much more business-like manner than he'd tied the corset. That was kind of disappointing, because she wanted him to admit he wanted her if that was how he felt.
The bazaar wasn't too far from their hotel so they walked instead of hiring a hackney. It had been her decision, he'd been willing to travel by horse drawn carriage. The Doctor was sure she'd be singing a different tune by the end of the night. The shoes she was wearing couldn't be comfortable and she wasn't used to them. It was a nice night for a walk, though. And there was something about walking about on the sidewalks of a less crowded time. People weren't as hurried. Or as suspicious of strangers, though in Atlanta during the war things were a little different on that front. Strangers were looked upon as possible Northerners.
"Oh, there'll be dancing," she said, sounding absolutely delighted at the prospect as they both took in the goings-on. She spotted the good-sized dance floor almost straight away. Of course there was going to be dancing, he mused to himself with a shake of his head. Several booths were set up, people selling things to raise money for their cause.
"I feel kind of sorry for them in a way. They have no idea they are going to lose, yeah? If they did, I wonder if they'd do any of it differently. Save their money so they weren't destitute after the war?"
"Doubtful. Some might be prone to give even more, thinking that could make the difference."
"I suppose you're right."
"They believed they were right, Rose, it would take more than you and I spouting our crazy talk of them losing the war to get them to think twice about living more frugally."
He and Rose walked around the room, stopping at various booths to look at items being sold. She was so genuine in her appreciation for things, crafts women had gone to great lengths to make. To anyone else here they were commonplace, nothing special, but to Rose who was from a time when assembly lines or computers made things, she was genuinely in awe.
It was one of the things he loved about her.
The palms of his hands still itched from where he'd touched her earlier. She'd never know how difficult it was for him to cross that bedroom to her and fasten her corset. What he'd really wanted to do.
Well, the good citizens of Atlanta would be shocked if they could read the thoughts going through his mind at that moment. They certainly didn't involve her putting on more layers, though he wouldn't mind the corset staying on. He didn't see exactly what it did to her figure, but he knew that they did wonders for most any woman no matter how plain or unshapely. And Rose was neither.
And her knickers. He only caught a glimpse, but they were fire engine red with barely an inch of fabric at either hip. So easy they'd be to pull away. Or to snap off if the mood struck him.
He'd taken in the scent of her, getting as close to her as he dared, knowing he had to pull back and release her. If he didn't, he'd never get on with their evening.
Did she have any idea how appealing she was standing there in her slip, wide-eyed as she looked upon him?
And if he wasn't mistaken, she was pleased with how he looked tonight. Nowhere near as pleased as he was with her, for sure. He didn't look that different no matter what he wore. She, on the other hand, looked positively smashing in the period gown.
"She's real," Rose whispered, grabbing onto the Doctor's forearm.
"I don't believe it," she said, steering him away from the most recent booth.
"You'll have to be a bit clearer in your disbelief."
"That was Scarlett O'Hara."
"Oh yeah?" he said, peering back at the booth.
"Well, don't look at her, that's rude and she'll wonder why we're looking."
"How do you figure it's her?"
"Well, I didn't really until I heard someone call her by her last name."
"There are bound to be lots of O'Hara's around, Rose."
"Not Scarlett O'Hara-Hamilton's."
He lifted an eyebrow, not sure he was understanding her, and she sighed in exasperation.
"She got married, notice she's dressed in black, too. Her husband died, Charles was his name."
"And you know this how?"
"I've read the book."
"And the book would be?"
"Oh come on, you've traveled all over several universes and you've never read Gone With the Wind?"
"Can't say that I have."
"And you've never been to this time before?"
"Well, I have, but I never paid much attention."
"Well, just watch, in a little while there's going to be an auction and someone's going to bid on her despite her being in mourning."
"How is it, if you know about mourning you didn't know that was what those two women from earlier were about?"
"I wasn't sure where we were! Black can be worn as a color, Doctor. How was I to know?"
"Fair enough," he said. "Well, this ought to be fun. Does she do it?"
"Yes," she said, sounding a little dreamy just then. Just what he needed, her getting all whimsical and romantic on him.
"Then we picked a fun night to step out in Atlanta, didn't we?"
"I guess so, Doctor."
They were standing to the side, watching the people visit each booth and those on the dance floor. Rose very clearly wanted to dance. The Doctor, unfortunately, preferred dancing in less public venues.
He knew it was bound to happen. She was an attractive young woman, not wearing black, and was a new face to everyone here. So, he wasn't sure why it bothered him so much when someone came to collect her for a dance.
He returned her to his side straight away, so that twisting in his gut eased a little. Except it shouldn't have, because then the torture started. Endless streams of single gentlemen came to ask for this dance or that dance. She accepted without even a glance in his direction to see if he might want one of the dances.
He wanted them all, just not here. Not like this. He just wasn't made to do the Virginia Reel or any other dance here.
And so he watched, engaging in a conversation here and there when someone let their curiosity get the better of them and approach him. All the while she was escorted onto the dance floor and back to his side. He couldn't ignore the effects dancing was having on her either.
Her skin was flushed, her eyes were alight, putting the flames of the candlelit chandeliers illuminating the room to shame, and she laughed as he'd never heard her before. And it wasn't going unnoticed by one gentleman in particular. Mr. Fontaine was rapidly filling up the vacant spots on her dance card before anyone else could. The Doctor barely had any time to say hello to her, and what was worse it was very clear she was enjoying herself immensely.
As she predicted, a man who was clearly an outsider bid on the woman's dancing privileges despite the protests of several there. It was clear by the twinkle in the woman's eye, though, that she appreciated the break from mourning. And why shouldn't she, the Doctor wondered.
He didn't quite understand the purpose of mourning, at least to the extent some civilizations took it. Dressing all in black, sitting at home pretending because your spouse, father, brother, or uncle was dead your life ended as well. The Doctor couldn't imagine it, would go stir crazy, as he imagined Mrs. Hamilton was.
It gave him something to watch and distract his attention from the enjoyable time Rose was clearly having, to watch the woman dance with the man who had set tongues wagging throughout the bazaar. It appeared from the low rumblings the Doctor overheard that he wasn't the only man who'd contemplated dancing with her, just the one to put the money where his thoughts were and made it happen.
"Something amiss, Doctor," Rose asked. He turned guarded eyes toward her, unwilling to allow her to see how badly he wanted it to be him showing her through the various dances.
"No, Rose. Aren't you enjoying yourself?" he asked, as if he hadn't noticed.
"Yes, I am. It's quite fun. I get the feeling some of the men I've danced with haven't seen a girl in weeks."
"Probably the case if they're home on leave," he said.
"You sure you don't want to go a round?"
Oh did he, just not the way she meant.
"No, two left feet, remember?"
She frowned a bit, but he turned away from her before she could say more.
"Is your friend all right?" he heard the seemingly ever-hovering Mr. Fontaine ask.
"I think so," Rose said. "I'm not sure," she said, sounding uncertain.
Mr. Fontaine was busy fretting over her, fetching her a glass of punch in between dances and in general keeping other men away. He wasn't sure he liked the gleam in the young man's eye when Rose wasn't looking as the night progressed. It went beyond a simple admiration. Not that the Doctor could blame the man.
He'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to ignore the hopeful glances that Rose shot in his direction in between dances. The waltzes anyway. So, when it was announced that the bazaar, and therefore the night, was drawing to a close the Doctor knew if he didn't act he'd live to regret it. After nine hundred years there weren't too many things he looked back on with regret, there just wasn't time enough or room in his brain to worry about such an emotion.
He read the question laced with hope in her eyes as he approached her just as Mr. Fontaine led her to the dance floor. She stopped, making her persistent partner do so as well. He regarded the Doctor with curiosity. Not for the first time since he'd begun traveling with Rose, he wondered who the other man thought the Doctor was. He had no idea what Rose had said about him during their dances, but Mr. Fontaine knew they'd come to the bazaar together.
"I believe this dance is spoken for," he said simply, offering his hand to Rose.
"Rose?" he added, trying to tap down the hopeful note he heard in his voice when he saw her hesitate. Had he waited too long?
Evidently not, because she took it and he immediately felt the comfort that the warmth of her touch brought him. It wasn't necessarily a romantic thing, though the attraction was certainly there. There was something more. This life he led, he wasn't meant to travel alone. She belonged with him, it was as simple as that.
"Thank you for all of the dances, Tony," she said with a smile.
"You're welcome, Miss Rose," he said. "Will I see you again?"
"I'm not sure," she said, glancing from Tony to the Doctor who grazed the back of her hand with his thumb as the orchestra began the waltz. He felt her pulse leap at the touch and realized not for the first time that she could be his in every sense of the word if he chose to cross that line. "I don't think so, but it was a lovely time, really."
The Doctor didn't waste any more time getting her on the dance floor. And away from Tony.
"I didn't think you wanted to dance," Rose said once there.
"So, what changed your mind?"
"Just like the song," he said.
She quirked an eyebrow, obviously knowing he'd claimed this dance as his before the song had begun.
"I've never heard any of these songs before."
"I don't suppose you'd have reason to. Different era, different country," he shrugged. "This won't do," he said softly.
"What? Am I doing something wrong?" She frowned, truly thinking that was the case it seemed.
"This isn't how I envisioned dancing with you, you know?"
"You thought of dancing with me?"
"Mm, once or twice," he said, spinning her around the dance floor. "Since we're here, shall we shock them, Rose Tyler?"
He drew her close, closer than anyone else held their partner on the dance floor. He could feel the whalebones of the corset he held her that close.
"You always pick the dandy types," he whispered against her ear.
"I'm surprised you noticed."
"I notice more than you realize, Rose."
"We're being stared at, Doctor."
"I figured as much. That shopkeeper, Mrs. Cormiere, was probably full of gossip about us." He set his mouth against her ear. "Shall we really give them something to stare at then?"
She smiled rather saucily. "You going to make it worth my while?"
"What do you think?"
She let her hands rest against the front of his suit coat, fingertips toying with the edge of his cravat. "Well then."
He did the unthinkable then. He crushed her lips with his. This was no Victorian-era kiss. He'd be surprised if she escaped from it without bruising. It was bad enough watching her with Mickey. He'd tolerated her taking Adam with them, knowing that it wouldn't last. Rose had known it deep down, too, but she wanted that human connection. Something he just couldn't give her.
But there were things he could give her. And he would be lying if he wasn't aware there were things he wanted to give her, too.
She kissed him back, a moment's hesitation out of surprise more than anything he wagered. He wished there was some way to transfer everything he felt into the kiss. It wasn't possible, not really, but he was going to try because he needed her to know. Even if he couldn't say it outright.
The gasp of utter horror brought him out of the moment, took him away from the more than pleasurable snog they'd been enjoying. It was a good thing despite her pressing into him he'd kept his hands in their proper position for dancing or the good citizens of Atlanta would have been in for quite a shock. Because his hands wanted to wander, they were itching to travel the length of her body. He was made for it after all.
He broke the kiss, pulling away with a great deal of effort. It had been so long since he'd kissed someone out of the need and desire to.
Luckily, for them, some younger women who seemed more intrigued than offended by their display were front and center to it, though their current dance partners looked a little uncomfortable. Rose had the courtesy to blush on top of already being a little flushed. He could hear their soft giggles.
"It seems perhaps we've one-upped your Scarlett O'Hara," he whispered.
"I guess so."
"Think she'll forgive us?"
"She might," she said, their voices still barely above a whisper.
The Doctor turned to look at their rather rapt audience. He'd place wagers that while more than one of them had, in fact, engaged in a kiss even steamier than the one they'd just witnessed it wasn't in public.
Ever quick on his feet, he thought up a plausible excuse for their display. Rose seemed as though she might want to stay here for a while before they moved on, so it wouldn't do to have them be ostracized on their first night here.
"Agreed to marry me, she did," the Doctor said into the now completely silent room. Even the orchestra had stopped playing.
Some faces showed relief that there was a reason. Some showed that they truly didn't care what the reason was. He noticed one woman was being revived with smelling salts and had to give a low chuckle at that.
"'ello," Rose said to the interrupters, wasting no time in taking the Doctor's hand. She laced her fingers through his and gripped his hand tighter than a glove. "The dress is lovely," she added, seemingly as an afterthought when she spotted Mrs. Cormiere. "I can't wait to tell my friends where I bought it when I get home."
"G' night, ladies," the Doctor said with a partial bow in their direction, letting Rose lead him as she seemed to want to do just then.
She glanced over her shoulder. "They're still looking at us," she whispered.
"Can you blame them?"
"No kissing in public then?" she whispered with a soft giggle. He couldn't recall ever hearing her giggle before.
"Not like that, no."
"That?" she said, as if the kiss hadn't been such a big deal. He'd like to argue that point with her because he thought it'd been pretty fantastic.
She stopped then, turning into him after a moment's pause. Almost as if she had to decide for sure what to do. Her hands parted the front of his suit coat, resting against his chest. He felt both of his hearts respond to her touch.
"I wonder what they'd say if they knew I'm curious if you're going to make me keep my back to you when you undo my dress and corset later."
"Are you now?"
She smiled, a blush evident on her cheeks thanks to the nearby streetlamp. "Yes."
"Do you want me to?"
"I think the more important question is do you want to."
"And if I said no?"
"Why'd you tell them I agreed to marry you?"
"Couldn't think of another reason we'd kiss like that and it seems like you'd like to stay put for a bit."
"Looking out for me then?"
He'd look out for her until he had no more breath in his lungs. "Don't I always?"
"Yeah, I guess you do." She glanced back where they'd come from as a hackney drew to a stop nearby, as if sensing they might need a ride.
"You're avoiding my question," he said lightly, handing her into the carriage.
"Which one?" she asked.
"And if I said no?" he repeated.
"Then this might be your lucky night, Doctor."
He gave a little swallow. He considered himself lucky the moment she'd swung on that chain to help save the day against the plastic people. Of course, he never really said so. Not outright.
"And your Scarlett O'Hara?"
"What about her?"
"What happens to her? Does she marry that man?"
She crinkled her nose, pressing her tongue to her teeth as he'd seen her do many times. "Eventually, someone else first and it doesn't end well."
"I guess I can't say that. The book left off with him leaving her, but I've always held onto the bit of hope that he comes back for her."
"Realizes he can't live without her?"
"He loves her, she finally admitted she loves him. I just can't imagine him walking away from that."
"Not in this day and age at any rate. Divorce happened of course, but it wasn't common. And certainly not among people like that," he said, handing her out of the hackney before paying the driver.
"That's what I've always come back to, too." She allowed him to hold the door open for her, it was late and the doorman was probably done for the night. It didn't matter, really, what the excuse was, it allowed the Doctor to do something gentlemanly. To make up for the thoughts going through his mind just then that proved he was anything but that.
"We could find out, couldn't we?" she asked, sounding enthusiastic.
"Yes," he said as he fumbled for the room key, found it and opened the door. "But not tonight."
"Why not?" she asked, sounding sincerely miffed he was putting her off when she wanted to go traveling.
He allowed a fingertip to trace the length of her collarbone, dipping it ever so slightly amidst the décolleté the dress generously offered.
"Because, Miss Tyler, I have other things on my mind tonight. And they don't involve the TARDIS, traveling, or moving from this room again until we're both well and truly sated."
She looked rather stunned.
"Too much?" he asked, letting the fingertip graze the swell of her breast. It was there, pushed up and presented to him. Thanks to the corset he was looking forward to unlacing in a few minutes. Who was he to resist?
"No, I've just never heard you…"
He shrugged. "Once I've made up my mind to do something," he murmured, forcing his fingertip away so he could enter their room. She followed suit, a wicked gleam in her eye that made parts of his body twitch in anticipation. And some weren't parts he'd imagined responding to excitement.
She let her wrap fall to the ground at her feet, the chignon that had been holding her hair in place followed suit.
"Show me," she whispered.
Well, he mused as she began working on his cravat, he certainly didn't need to be asked twice.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com