John was beaming all the way back to his apartment on the outskirts of Chiswick. Now he may have to admit to Donna he had got involved with one of her temps but it could wait, just as long as Donna and Martha didn’t meet and his cousin asked her how her date on Saturday night had gone with him. He was already in enough trouble as it was, Martha did not seem to be talking to him any more and once she found out he was seeing Rose outside of work, she would probably fall out with Rose as well but that was sometimes the price you had to pay.
No matter how many times men and women met, friends would be lost somewhere along the way, it was the way of the world. He was pleased he’d got to kiss Rose again, not like the other night when she had backed away and he’d wondered what he’d done to make her that way. Now though, there was a real possibility Reinette was coming back, the rumours may have been true and her call not just to get him going.
He’d just got home when his phone rang, it was Reinette herself though why he still had her number in his phone after all this time, he didn’t exactly know. He decided to ignore it, hoping she would get the message. She didn’t as his message tone sounded.
The message just said, ‘I’m back, see you tomorrow.’
He swallowed and got out of his car. “Now we’re in trouble,” he told himself.
He’d left Rose leaning against the door once she went back inside. The kisses they’d shared were much better than the hurried one on Saturday night. She really had been about to quit that morning, wondering how she could have carried on but all that had gone now. She just hoped he wasn’t doing it to keep his ex away.
John got to work the next morning, seeing Harry was late again, the man was too arrogant to make the effort to get there early. He waved to Chelsea but she called after him. She’d already heard people calling good morning to Miss Poisson, who had been followed by a crowd of people when she got into work and knew there was going to be trouble. She’d not been there when John and the head nurse had been an item but she’d heard about it, it had not ended well from what she knew.
“Excuse me Doctor Smith, I just thought you should know, Nurse Poisson is back.”
“What? So soon? Thanks for the warning, ’erm, Chelsea.”
“No problem Doctor Smith.”
She hoped he’d actually notice her one day but most of the females in the hospital below the age of thirty hoped the same thing. Rose had got there early, already had the kettle boiling and on seeing the door open, got up to make coffee.
“Good morning Doctor Smith,” she teased.
“Good morning Rose, I hope that’s the last time you’re going to call me that today?” he asked her, reaching for her hand and kissing the back of it.
She smiled and handed him the coffee. “I think I saw Reinette when I came in, blonde, wears her hair funny and had a crowd of people following her?”
“That sounds about right, if most of them were male?”
“So, she has that effect on everyone then?”
“You could say that. I tell you Rose, she really is related to that French noblewoman, she has all the breeding and the airs about her, plus, she’s irresistible to men, I just happened to be her last victim.”
“Aw, poor John,” Rose smiled, patting his back gently.
The Tardis had been good that morning and the screen had already been on as Rose put her shoulder bag into the bottom drawer.
“Right, better get to work then,” John declared, putting his coffee mug down and cracking his fingers, making Rose cringe. He noticed and grinned.
“Oh, if Harry Saxon comes in, just pick up the phone and tell him you’re calling his wife, trust me.”
“I’ll do that, if he wanders in but what if Reinette comes by?”
“Well, just tell her I’m with a patient, she won’t know will she? Don’t let her intimidate you Rose, she’ll say all kinds of untrue things, like she was the love of my life, how easily she could lure me back if she wanted, just smile and say nice try. She can’t get you fired, she won’t know what agency you came from, well not unless Martha tells her and she likes Reinette less than you do. You do believe me, don’t you Rose?”
“Yes, I believe you. I’ll bring your day’s files in then.”
He stepped closer to her, putting his hand on her shoulder. “Oh and no flirting in the office Rose,” he winked, kissing her cheek.
“I’ll try and remember that and restrain myself shall I?”
Martha had been less than pleased she had caught sight of Reinette and more than annoyed when the returned head nurse joined in ward rounds. It turned out she knew the new head of the department and had easily wormed her way back in. After they had finished, Reinette had to go pick faults with one of Martha’s diagnosis’s.
“Ah, Martha, a word?”
Reinette continued with her list of complaints after she had initially made remarks upon leaving the patient and Martha wished the ground would swallow her. She sought sanctuary with Rose once she got away.
“Martha, I wasn’t expecting you to call by today.”
“You might be my only ally in this place Rose, Reinette’s back.”
“I know, John told me. I thought you weren’t talking to me?”
“Yeah, sorry Rose but seeing you and John having lunch, well it got to me but she’s back and it means before the end of the day, he’ll be walking out with her, trust me.”
“What makes you think that Martha?”
“He just will, I heard her saying to one of the other nurses, she’s giving him until lunchtime then she’s coming looking for him, even in the staff canteen if she has to and she won’t care if you’re sitting with him either.”
“Well tough, she’ll be in for shock then, won’t she? He’s already warned me not to let her intimidate me.”
“Oh Rose, you have no idea how intimidating she can be, she chewed me out in front of everyone, then did it again after ward rounds. I swear Rose, she’s really something. When she was here before, she had John following her like a lovesick puppy, she would have him waiting for her at the local then see her off in a taxi most nights and the few times they left together, she’d tell her friends the next day how he never even got inside her apartment.”
“He told me she was just using him but I guessed most of it. Martha, can you really blame him he didn’t want to go out with anyone else, after she treated him like that?”
“Yeah, I feel really bad now, once bitten and all that. I’d still be his friend though, if he wanted, what about you?”
“What about me?”
“Come on Rose, if he’s scared Reinette wants him back, are you just as scared he’ll use you to fend her off?”
“He’s already scared she’ll get her claws into him again, I’m gonna play her at her own game, I’ve agreed to pretend to be his girlfriend.”
Rose thought this was her chance, to be seen with John around the hospital and be able to keep Martha as a friend. Now she just had to pull it off, convince Reinette she was wasting her time trying to get him back and let John in on her plan.
“Seriously? Well, it may work, Reinette knows his type, blonde so I could never convince her he was going out with me, you might be more convincing but you’re not fooling me Rose, I can’t see him pretending you’re his girlfriend.”
“Oh, well she won’t know that, will she?”
Martha went off and it was soon lunchtime. Reinette had been so busy making sure everyone knew she was back and that she was going to pick up with John where she left off, she’d not had time to visit his office and see who her potential rival was. She’d heard his new temp was blonde, typical but hardly anyone had seen her except in the staff canteen and to think John still frequented the place, eating with the rest of the employees. She’d got him out of that habit, getting him to take her to the main cafeteria and sometimes to the nearby pub.
She decided to lower herself and drop by the staff canteen, hoping John would be sitting alone but he was already sitting with Rose, having persuaded her to leave her sandwiches in the office, treating her to lunch and saying he would pay from now on.
“John, Martha came by earlier, she’s still talking to me.”
“That’s good, see, she really is your friend,” he replied, eating his chicken stir fry.
“Yeah but she wouldn’t be if I told her, you know, I had to say I was going to pretend to be your girlfriend, you’re not mad at me are you? It was just for Martha’s benefit but she didn’t believe me.”
“Oh, well seeing it was just to throw Martha off so she’d still talk to you, ok, I’ll go with it but you’re not are you, just pretending?”
“No, unless you want me to?”
“No, I don’t like that idea. Oh, watch out, better make it look good, Reinette’s standing in the doorway.”
Rose just smiled. “So what? Is she coming over?”
“Oh yes Rose, she’s coming over.”
“Ah John, Mon Chéri, you have been avoiding me all morning, did I not tell you I would be back?”
“Yes, so you did Reinette, I do have patients you know. Oh, have you met Rose? Rose, say hello to Reinette my love and no fighting, I can’t abide fighting.”
“Nice to meet you Reinette.”
“You should not be addressing me in such a manor young lady, it’s Miss or nurse Poisson to you.”
“What did I say about fighting?” John muttered under his breath.
“Now then Reinette, be nice. May we finish our lunch if you don’t mind?”
“By all means Chéri we will catch up later perhaps? I went back to my old apartment, meet me at The Crown after work and you can escort me home.”
“Ah, well, that’s not going to happen Reinette, I have a standing date with Rose after work, we go out for something to eat, don’t we love?”
“Yeah and who do you think you are? Telling John to meet you and see you home? He may have fallen for that line before but you’re out of luck this time lady.”
“How dare you speak to me in that tone? John. Why are you associating with this, this woman?”
“Forget it Reinette, it won’t work, Rose is my girlfriend now. Why don’t you go find Harry, he couldn’t wait when he found out you were coming back.”
“Harry is not you John, why would I want him?”
“You only want to play with me Reinette, it’s over so you may as well give up now.”
“You are wrong John, it is not over, you will be back, when you’ve had enough, she cannot compete with me.”
Reinette turned and walked off. Rose let out the breath she’d been holding.
“Wow, she’s some piece of work that one.”
“Isn’t she just? You stood up to her well Rose, I’m proud of you.”
“Yeah, well I don’t think she’ll give up that easily. You know you said no flirting in the office? Does that extend to the pub?”
“What did you have in mind?”
So Reinette huffed her way around the hospital for the afternoon, pretending to those who were bothered that she would wear him down and he’d turn up at he pub after work. Rose had just come back from taking John’s patient’s folders down to the office and collecting the others when she saw Reinette go into John’s office so she hurried after her, just as she disappeared into his inner office.
“Reinette, what are you doing here?” he asked, taking his feet off the desk and getting up before she pounced on him.
He knew Rose would be back any minute and he didn’t want her to get the wrong idea, Reinette knew what time he sent his secretary down to the office every night.
“I came to give you another chance John, you aren’t really interested in Rose are you?”
“Yes I am Reinette, now you’d better leave.”
“Oh, are you afraid your new muse will find us together perhaps?”
She stepped closer, leaving John nowhere to go. She put her hand on his cheek.
“I missed you John, can you truly say you never missed me?”
“I never missed you Reinette, now, you should leave, you really don’t want to be here when Rose comes back.”
“She does not bother me Chéri, let her come in.”
“Well you might want to be bothered,” Rose hissed from the doorway. “Take your grubby hands off my boyfriend.”
“Really, is that the best you can do? John, why are you bothering with her, she is so common.”
“Who are you calling common, you French tart?”
“Are you going to let her insult me like that John?”
“Oh, you’re on your own on this one Reinette, I did tell you that you didn’t want to be here when Rose came back, you were warned. Ready to go Rose?”
“Yeah, so excuse us. John, you can show me the local pub, if you want?”
“My pleasure Rose. Bye Reinette, you know your way out?”
“Huh, this isn’t over John.”
“Oh, I think it is.”
He held the door and then locked it behind him, went up and grabbed Rose by the waist and pulled her into a kiss, making sure Reinette was getting a good look.
Reinette let out an ‘Arrgh’ and walked off. This was most definitely his last chance, why should she waste her time on him? It had been fun while it lasted, maybe she should try it with Harry? John led Rose out to his car.
“So, do you think it worked then?” Rose smiled, John reaching over to kiss her again.
“Oh yes Rose, I think it worked, don’t you? So, burger or pub?”
“Will Reinette be there?”
“Burger then or maybe we can go out later?”
“Well yeah, if you want?”
“I want. Does this mean we’re dating, properly?”
“Yeah, I’d say so. Are you going to tell Donna now?”
“Why don’t you come for Sunday lunch at my aunt’s this weekend and she’ll find out?”
“Ok then, you’re on. She’d better not fire me.”
“Nah, she won’t do that, trust me.”
So the next few days, the two of them worked together, resisting a quick snog between patients, the Tardis seeming happy that they had got together and always having the names of his day’s patients ready for her on her arrival. They agreed they would go out on Saturday night, just having a snack together after work then John would drop Rose off so Rose treated herself to a new dress for the occasion and when he called for her on Saturday night, he complimented her.
“Wow Rose, you look great. Oh, this is for you.”
He handed her a boxed pink orchid.
“It’s lovely John, thanks. Shall we go?”
The evening was pleasant, John took her to another new place he’d heard of then drove her home, this time she invited him in for coffee.
“I had a great time John, thanks.”
“Yeah, so did I, Rose, has this been too much? I mean us grabbing something to eat every night and now, well, I don’t want to seem like I’m, you know, over keen.”
“I don’t think that now John and I love getting something to eat with you every night. John, would you mind though, if I didn’t work with you?”
“No, Rose, I don’t want you to leave, I love working with you, do you feel like you have to leave?”
“Well no, not exactly but Donna might object.”
“No she won’t, I can handle my cousin. Don’t leave.”
“Ok, I’ll stay then, if you’re sure?”
“Oh yes Rose, I’m sure. I called my aunt this morning, she’s looking forward to meeting you and so is my grandad Wilf, he’ll just love you. I’ve not told Donna yet though, let’s surprise her eh?”
“Yeah, ok. So, I’d better let you go then?” she asked, cuddling up to him on the sofa, which he was liking very much.
“Well, if you’re throwing me out?” he teased.
“Mum will be back soon, then you’ll never get home.”
John laughed and leaned over to kiss her again. They heard the door opening and sat up. Then he whispered, “Next Saturday night, come back to my place?”
They got up and Rose walked him onto the balcony. “Night then John, see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah, are you nervous?”
“About meeting your family?”
“Yeah, I’m nervous about you meeting them,” he smiled, putting his arms around her as the cool breeze made her shiver slightly. “You should go inside love, I’ll see you tomorrow, I’ll pick you up at one.”
They kissed again and he left, Rose watching him walk along the balcony and him turning to wave one final time. The next morning, his phone rang, it was Donna.
“Hey spaceman, mum says you’re bringing someone to lunch today, anyone I know?”
“Yes, you may know her.”
“Martha? About time.”
“No Donna and I don’t want you to get mad but it’s Rose.”
“What? Seriously? Well who would have thought it? You let me think it was Martha.”
“You said it was Martha. Anyway, be nice to her and don’t try and put her off Donna, I really like her.”
“Ah, spaceman’s been caught. I heard Reinette’s back in town?”
“Yeah, bad news travels fast but she’s well out of the picture, I’m going out with Rose now, I won’t get caught in her trap again.”
“Well it sounds like Rose has got you well and truly hooked, good luck spaceman.”
“Yeah, well I’ll see you at lunch cous.”
Rose was getting nervous as the time approached for John to pick her up.
“Why are you so nervous Rose?” her mother asked her.
“It’s one thing working for Donna but having lunch with her and the rest of his family, well, that’s something else Mum.”
John came to call for her and as they drove to Donna’s house, Rose tried not to act nervous.
“You’ll be fine Rose, don’t worry.”
“Easy for you to say. So, do you live near to them?”
“Not far. I was raised by my aunt Sylvia and my uncle Geoff when my parents were in a train accident when I was thirteen. I’d stayed at home because I had the measles, gave it to Donna so I stayed with them, then there was a train crash. After that, well, I had to go and live with them.”
“I’m sorry to hear that John. My dad died when I was a baby, I never knew him.”
“Yeah, at least I knew mine, sorry. Right, here we are then, ready for this?”
“Just as ready as you were to meet my mum.”
“Yeah, she’s a bit overpowering, your mother.”
“Yeah. Come on then and I may even let Donna tell you why she calls me spaceman.”
“That sounds like it’s interesting.”
“Oh it is Rose, it is.”
As he knocked on the door, which would probably get him told off by Donna again for not ringing the doorbell, he took Rose’s hand and kissed the back of it. Another chapter had just opened in both their lives and with any luck, he hoped Rose would see it through to the end with him.
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