I'll manage a drabble eventually. Third time's the charm, they say. :)
Title: Once Upon a Time
Beta: Not beta'd, finished just before I had to get ready for work. Any Americanisms or faulty grammar is mine and mine alone.
Summary: Sarah didn't like Valentine's Day, but not for the reasons you'd expect.
Blame: ladyvivien and her Valentine's Day drabbleathon.
Sarah never knows why the Doctor makes a big deal out of Valentine's Day. It starts in his Third incarnation. Dinner and dancing in one of the best restaurants that time and space have to offer. Roses, candlelight, chocolates. She's never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but she finds herself enjoying this. Not that she'd admit it, of course, but there's something nice about being cherished.
She's dumped, quite literally, in Aberdeen and it takes a few weeks to sink in that he isn't coming back. It hits her on Valentine's Day and she finds herself acting like a cliche, throwing things, listening to sad music and eventually having a good cry. The next morning she washes her face, and walks out with her head held high. No one has to know what a foolish girl she's been.
Sarah rebuilds her life slowly She dates other men and occasionally takes lovers, but they're always gone by the fourteenth of February. She knows they'll never measure up and she won't let them try. She focuses on her career instead. At least that won't walk out on her. When the Planet Three scandal hits, she's devastated, but she has had too much practice to let it show.
When she sees the Doctor again it's March. He has a new girlfriend, friend, whatever. She doesn't know what their relationship is, and she doesn't know why she cares after so many years apart. It hurts, though. She buries it deep, and when they go on without her, she has a smile pasted on her face.
She goes back to her own life, better than she told him, but lonelier too. She wonders if Valentine's Day ever meant anything to him, or if he was just humouring her; knowing she enjoyed it despite her protestations. She finds a watch and a sonic lipstick tucked in K-9 and she assumes they're for her. Such stupid, practical, useful gifts. She shrugs and moves on. There is really nothing left to say.
February comes round again and she debates going out on Valentine's Day, instead of trying to pretend it's a normal day. Chris has been asking her out for ages, maybe she should take him up on the invitation. She doesn't though.
When the doorbell rings, it's early evening, and she debates not answering it. She does, even though she never bothered to change out of her pjs. She doesn't care how pathetic she looks. He's standing there, a slim man in a pinstriped suit. At least he's alone. If Rose had seen her like this....
He stares at her for a moment, before gathering her in his arms and kissing her. She finds herself melting into his embrace, as if it were only yesterday. Finally he pulls back and looks at her for a moment before telling her to get dressed because he's taking her out on the town. His eyes are oh-so-bright and she can hear desire mixed with teasing in his voice.
She considers refusing for about two seconds. Even if it didn't mean anything, she isn't strong enough to deny this particular temptation. She runs upstairs and finds the blue dress that she had only bought because it reminded her of Valentine's day with him. She thinks for a moment he'll abandon his plan when she walks down the stairs and he just stares at her.
She expects them to take the TARDIS, but they take her car instead. The reservation is at a restaurant in town, where she has eaten often since she moved here. She wonders what the owner thinks of her date for the evening, but she doesn't really care.
There is slow dancing, of course, and she finds herself matching the Doctor's lead, as though the years apart had never happened. They don't talk about Rose or what happened between them.
Later they go back to her place and when he kisses her, she doesn't object.
The next morning she wakes to find him still lying beside her, stroking her hair. If she had thought about it, she would have expected to wake alone. When she turns to look at him, he grins at her and says her name softly. When they make it down to the kitchen, they're laughing and teasing like teenagers.
He leaves after breakfast, and she thinks that's the end of it. A momentary lapse into nostalgia. Over the next few weeks, she discovers that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it seems like any time she turns around, she's tripping over him, whether he's in the attic fiddling with Mr. Smith or lying on her couch making snide remarks about her taste in telly.
She finally points out that he has a perfectly good home in the TARDIS, and he laughs and says that his current companion has rather strong ties to her family and he's not getting mixed up in that again and asks if she minds his presence. She hesitates before admitting that she doesn't want to get too attached only to have him vanish again. And he smiles and tells her not to be silly, because he doesn't make the same mistakes twice.
The next Valentine's Day, he finally manages to get her to Florana and it's everything he always told her it would be.