But he doesn't wear them, now, and no tailor would make something so strange. The brown suit is still hung up in his closet, though it's got a few moth-holes in it and it's a little ragged. But it's not who he is, not anymore.
That was a man who leapt into danger, ran head-long into adventure. The Oncoming Storm.
He's less a man of action and more a man of planning, now. A man with political entanglements and a short temper. Somewhere in between an impulsive adventurer and a tired old lord is the Doctor.
The papers Reinette has drawn up name him Jean Smith, and he's started to respond when people call out 'Jean' or 'Monsieur Smith'. It's a slower path, a simpler path. A path with rules and procedures and walls.
Walls. They have so many walls. Walls and doors.
She's behind a door. The woman that gives him names and clothes and teaches him those procedures and traditions and rules. Ever since the first day when she gave him the bedroom next to hers to stay in. Her adjacent guest bedroom, complete with adjacent door. Sometimes locked, sometimes open, but it's still a barrier.
It's solid oak, varnished and shining with an inlaid design of a tree full of round fruit. He runs his fingers through the round grooves of the fruit and wonders at the irony that a tree with fruit is carved on the wood of a tree that won't sprout any at all. He finds the varnish tastes oily and sour when he gives in and licks one of the branches of the tree and he makes a face. He tries to wipe it away, but it is reapplied every Sunday while he's out by the thin maid who wears blue and smiles shyly at him when he catches her cleaning.
On Reinette's side of the door is the same tree, but the door is painted white and blue to match the interior of her room. He knows Marie, the plump and pleasant maid that's followed Reinette since childhood, cleans her door. But other than that, there's very little about that side of the door he knows.
He knows what the room on the other side looks like, of course. He's curled up in Reinette's bed when he couldn't take the loneliness on his side of the door, and he's spent pleasant afternoons sitting by her windowsill and reading her poetry. But when she's alone, he doesn't know what she does. Dresses, primps, oh, probably. He imagines she reads. Writes poetry or prose or important documents he refuses to know anything about in case he'll foul up the timeline. Maybe she looks at the stars.
When the door is closed and he's by his own window, he wonders if she's by hers.
When the door is closed, sometimes he'll stand by it and just talk to her. The wood muffles her voice a little, but he likes the stolen moments. The door tells them that they can't talk right now, and they do anyway.
"I'm going to bed now."
"I should hope so, it's very late."
"So, I'll see you later!"
"Is there a reason you wouldn't?"
"No! I'm just saying!"
"Good night, Angel."
It's the stolen moments, the breaking the rules, that he loves. It makes him feel like he's still that rebel. Still that daredevil he used to be.
Sometimes the door is cracked open and he can see her sitting in the other room. Reinette, reading. Reinette, putting on her makeup. Reinette, working on her etchings. She's a calculating woman and he imagines she must think before she leaves it open. What does she want him to see?
In these moments, he feels like the man of court, and Reinette is his opponent. His almost-rival, smirking at him from behind an oak door as she might grin behind a fan. What is she plotting, what is she planning? What does she want him to see?
"There is a larger room down the hall," she says to him one night over dinner. They should sit at opposite sides of the table, but once the servants leave he moves his meal closer to her so they can share conversation.
"What sort of a room?"
"A bedroom," she says. "Perhaps you would prefer it there? It is closer to the library."
He spends most of his day in the library, after all. But that would take him away from the room with the sour varnish and the solitary brown suit in the closet and the door between them.
"No, I think I'm all right where I am."
She looks at him sideways, that calculating look he can never quite get a fix on. "Are you certain?"
That night, the door is opened ever slightly more so he can see into her room from where he relaxes in bed. She crosses her own room and begins undressing. It's shocking, startling, and completely unexpected. He's lived in her house for nearly six months and she's always been fully dressed when the door has been open even a sliver. She's never accidentally left it, not once.
One strap of her dress, then the other, until she stands in her corset and undergarments in the pale light of the lamp in the room. She lets out a slight gasp, and the corset falls aside, giving him the expanse of her back, tiny muscles beneath her pale skin gleaming in the orange-yellow light. She unpins her hair from its bun and the curls fall to her waist in a tangly sideways-twist that she shakes out with a hand.
He's seen her undress before in the warm haze of the Yew Ball all those months ago. Years for her. But this holds a strange, twisted sort of voyeurism he's never experienced before. The door is a barrier between her and him, between them and this opening is showing him what he doesn't have on this side.
It takes him a moment to realize she's turned around and is standing there, on the other side, staring at him. Her hair curls around her breasts and her grey eyes look almost black in the dim light of the room and she looks for all the world that she's expecting him to do something. Anything.
He looks at her, frozen, and thinks that he should.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)(AU)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,111
Based on RP with ambitious_woman