Don't want to hurt this fragile love we know
Because there is nothing left to hold
And we prayed that night
And you said to me
"Don't worry baby the worst has come
And the worst will go
And there's nothing we don't know"
I'll believe you then
But you know me and I always think the worst…
She looks different when she sleeps.
He leans against the doorframe and watches her chest rise and fall, her mind off in…wherever it is humans go when they sleep. All of her restrictions are gone. No matter that he's convinced her to give up her corset, she still is held back by many things. She talks and moves in such a way as to lead others around her, shape a dying universe. She doesn't have time to just be herself. She's confined to what she knows how to do. Confined to people and planning. Rooms and routines.
When she sleeps, she has none of that holding her back. Her hair is mussed and her eyebrows are relaxed and she just looks so peaceful. He can almost imagine her coming to bed and all but dropping from exhaustion. She does so much. He...doesn't. He can't think of the last time he slept just by closing his eyes.
He envies her that.
If it were any woman other than Reinette sleeping so peacefully, he'd have woken her already. He'd have smacked his cane against the side of the wall or perhaps over her in the bed and demanded a bit of their attention. Infuriated them, made them leave and taken the warm spot on the bed. Why? The better question is why not?
He doesn't like people being around him, stopping him from moving. He spent so long in one place already that he itches when he's obstructed. He gets angry, lashes out a bit, and they move. Cause and effect, really. Say something delightfully tactless; watch as they move out of the way. He doesn't need them. They're only allies, not friends.
He wonders sometimes if he's secretly angry at himself for letting his friends down. Mickey and Rose, waiting for him back in the 51st century. He let them down. No need to let new people in and hurt them too. It would make sense; it would be very like him. The way he was.
He said that once to Rose. Not his Rose, but that…other Rose. The Rose from another universe (there are so damn many of them). Moment of weakness, he let it slip out. She smiled at him as if he was an old friend---no, no, like he was a child that had been slopping about in mud. She looked at him like she suddenly realized that beneath it all he was vulnerable and redeemable. She could save him. She bought him a cup of (amazingly good) coffee and tried to get him to talk more. It took a lot of blank, irritated stares and comments about her bleached-blonde hair to have that smile go away. Over the course of the next few weeks he wore her back into the same place as everyone else. She hates him and now walks past him in the city with a disgusted air. Pity he never asked her where she bought him that coffee. Reinette is always looking for a good cup of strong coffee.
He limps away from the doorframe and over to the nightstand. He puts a bag of ground coffee there to remind himself to give it to her in the morning. The French and their coffee. Three years in that silly country and he still doesn't understand it.
What makes her different? His own Rose---the Rose from his universe, the one he obsessively loved and tormented until she, too, ran away---had asked once. Why her? By the time he had re-met Rose she was as old and experienced as Reinette. Why the calculating courtesan instead of a loving friend?
In his mind, it wasn't what Reinette was, it was what she was not. She was not always loving. She was not always forgiving. She did love and she did forgive, but only as much as would not pull her down. He had felt the sting of a slap from her before and she had gnawed him down with words and brought him to silence. Reinette was almost an enemy at times. A rival he had to work his way around. She always caught up with him, proving herself an equal and then informing him that the games he was playing were immature.
Reinette made him regret it when he was cruel.
Part of him is embittered for that. He wants to be cruel. He wants to hate and be vicious against the universe that can't give an old soldier a break. But Reinette won't allow him that self-pity. She won't take his merde for anything but what it is. And she still won't drive the damn car he'd bought her because she doesn't want to. She won't give in.
And then there are other moments.
Pushing her on a swing in one of her gardens, her hair wild and free. No anger, no fights, just them. Or the cold wind biting their skin as they sailed back to France. Laughter on their honeymoon. She makes him stop pitying himself. She makes him open up. He's…not entirely certain what he does for her. He used to think he gave her the stars. Or at the very least, that he helped her remember she wanted them.
He slides his boots aside and gets into bed as quietly as he can. It dips a little with his weight and he struggles to get his crippled left calf under the sheet without moving her side too much.
She always sleeps on the left side. The bed itself is warmer because she's there.
The other version of him says that she died in his universe. That he couldn't save her. Sometimes when he talks to him, he wonders at what point they truly diverged. His other self is so sad. Sad but kind. Caring. When did his other self decide to hold it all in while the Doctor lashes out?
He wonders if Reinette would love this other man. Love him for all of his childish whimsy and smiles for everyone? The idea makes his stomach sick with jealousy. His other self is so much easier to deal with. He's not.
He tries to convince himself that Reinette would rather stay with him because of how much work she's put into him. She's invested too much to move on so soon.
She rolls over in her sleep and her hand touches his arm. She doesn't cuddle against him, doesn't even lay on him, just touches him as she sleeps. Some sort of connection. A slight smile appears on her lips.
He doesn't want her to leave him because as much as he doesn't want to admit it, he loves her.
He's not perfect, but she helps him work. The proper peg and cog and all that. This regeneration had a lot of promise but turned out rather wrong.
He hates to think what will happen in a few dozen years, when she's gone.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,157
Based on events in relativespace