The Woman and The Bell – Chapter 4 Teaser:
Sarah straightened, dropping her washcloth on the table and using her apron to wipe her hands dry. “Can I help you with something?” She brushed a pesky wisp of hair out of her eyes and patted it against her head.
“We hope so,” the Doctor said. “Is there anyplace we could sit and talk for a moment, in private?”
The woman glanced around uncertainly. “Well… I can’t really do that while I’m working, but I’ve got a break coming up in about ten minutes.”
“Oh, we can wait,” Rose said. “Come on, Doctor.” She grabbed him by the arm. “We’ll just be outside.”
They exited the restaurant and occupied a bench that was situated a few doors down from Chili’s. The Doctor slouched, stretching his legs straight out in front of him and crossing his ankles, fingers threaded into each other across his abdomen. Rose sat semi-sideways, arm propped on the back of the bench, resting her head on it like a pillow. She gazed at him, eyes roaming up and down his features as he stared out towards the horizon.
She could feel the energy around him turning inward.
They couldn’t see the water from the bench, but the sky was clear and blue, and the sun was glinting off the glossy white paint of the ship’s railing, scattering streaked bands of reflected light—some dancing about on the cobbles, others clinging to the metal planks of the canopy above. A couple of seagulls wheeled past, a third landing on the deck, hopping around in search of scraps. The Doctor paid little attention to any of this, however. He was drifting.
“Doctor,” Rose said softly after several moments, reaching out and touching his hands. It broke the spell and he looked over, blinking and drawing in a deep breath.
“Something bothering you?”
He smiled and sat up straighter. “No, of course not! I’m fine! I’m good.” He leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the lips.
She recognized it for what it was. The hasty, over-eager assurance, sealed with a kiss. Rose glanced down. “You can tell me, you know.” She raised her head and looked into his eyes. “You can talk to me. About anything.”
He smiled again. “Of course. I know that, Rose.”
“But will you? Talk to me, I mean. I… want you to.”
He furrowed his brow, disentangling his fingers to cup her cheek, lightly sweeping his thumb back and forth. “Of course I will.” He kissed her again, more deeply this time, then pulled away with a puzzled smile on his face. “What brought this on?”
She half smiled and looked at her hands, fidgeting with her nails. “Nothing, I… I just wanted to make sure you understood that, that’s all. I mean, completely. I’m always available. I want you to know that. I mean really know.”
The Doctor’s smile slowly faded as he stared into her eyes. He read worry and deep hurt in them, and his chest tightened with guilt. Did she think he didn’t trust her? After several moments, he finally nodded. A sober, faint nod. “I do.”
She was about to speak again when Sarah walked up at a brisk pace. “Okay, I’ve got ten minutes. What’s up?” She brushed hair out of her face again and rested her hands on the back of her hips casually.