"Okay, you can open your eyes now."
Rose let her eyes drift open slowly and gave a gasp of delight. Instead of laughing eyes and a cheeky grin all she could see were soft petals and leaves.
She raised her hands and took hold of the bouquet of flowers, ducking her head and sniffing gently. The exotic scent of alien blooms filled her senses and she felt her insides melt.
Jack beamed. "Happy Valentines day, Rosie."
"Is it?" Her eyes lit up. "I lose track of days here. I thought it was sometime around Christmas still."
Jack laughed at her innocent babble. "My wrist-com lets me know all the important holidays." He leaned closer. "Valentines Day is one of my favourites."
"Mine too," Rose grinned, her face flushing pink. "Thank you."
They both turned to see the Doctor leaning against the console, his arms folded and a smirk on his face.
"Humans and your customs. It's all a load of rubbish, you know, cards and sweets and all that. Valentines Day is descended from an ancient fertility ritual and you lot have it down as handing out pieces of cardboard and chocolate. Typical ape behaviour, take something sacred and turn it into something tacky."
Rose glared at the Doctor, not realising that Jack was doing the same.
"It's not tacky!"
"If you say so." His tone made it obvious that he was mocking her and she narrowed her eyes before turning back to Jack.
"When I was eight I was the only girl in my class who didn't have a dad. There'd been Father's day and I didn't have anyone to make a card for, and then they'd had a take-your-daughter-to-work day and all the girls went off to work with their dads and I was the only one who never did. I never had any of that. But every Valentines Day mum would take out all the old cards that dad had ever bought for her and she'd show them to me and tell me all about him." She smiled. "On that one day she said that it didn't hurt as bad and she could remember him as he was. I loved Valentines Day because it always made mum happy."
Jack reached over and cupped her cheek, a soft smile on his face. "What about you?"
Rose laughed. "Mickey always got me some cheap card with roses on it, bit of a joke really. But I kept 'em all because he'd given 'em some thought. Valentines Day, to me, means that someone's thinking about you. Whether you're there or not. The cards and sweets don't matter. Cheesy as it is, it is the thought that counts." She sniffed the bouquet again. "You know, no one's ever bought me flowers before."
"You deserve flowers," Jack murmured and was rewarded with Rose's brightest smile.
She leaned up on tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his mouth.
"Happy Valentines Day, Jack."
"Is now!" He grinned widely and Rose giggled.
"I'll put these in water." She turned and walked out of the control room without looking at the Doctor.
The rest of the day had been somewhat awkward as Rose tried to disregard the Doctor and he blithely ignored her attempts.
He took her and Jack to the sixth moon on Endor to watch the Dryad dances, which, Rose mused as she watched the tiny sylph-like creatures sway and dance to the moon's tide, was as close to an apology as she was going to get.
Jack even asked her to share a dance with him in the moonlight and they'd held each other close in the starlight.
It had, actually, been a good day and Rose was tired but happy when she got back to the TARDIS.
She'd said her goodnights and even managed a smile for the Doctor, knowing full well that they'd be back to normal tomorrow.
He'd just given her an enigmatic smile as she'd headed for her room.
The first thing she saw when she walked into the room was the vase of flowers from Jack and her face lit up in a tired but happy smile.
They really were very beautiful.
As she turned to get ready for bed her eyes caught sight of something standing on her dresser and she peered closer, her lips curving even more.
There was a box of chocolates and a flat whit envelope.
Rose grinned. Jack was so sweet … or after something.
She fingered the black ribbon on the red box and picked up the envelope, smiling at seeing her name in copperplate letters.
So simple. So elegant.
She let the anticipation build up inside and, when she couldn't take it any more, she lifted the flap and slid out the card.
A glance at the front made her frown slightly.
There were no cheesy hearts or flowers, no roses or doe-eyed critters. It was a plain black card with a long red ribbon curled on the ebony satin card.
Not Jack's style at all.
So, if it wasn't Jack, that meant …
It was the Doctor.
The Doctor had given her a Valentines Day card?
Thinking of the way she had ignored him and clung to Jack all evening made her wince.
Had this been waiting here all day? He hadn't said anything. Had he thought she didn't care? Was choosing Jack over him?
Pulse racing, she opened the card and one tiny, perfectly formed rose, no bigger than her little finger, tipped into her hand. A miniature black rose.
She breathed hard, inhaling the sweet, exotic scent of the flower before turning her attention to the inscription on the card.
Her heart recognised the writing before her eyes could read all the words. Words that touched her, words that made her gasp. Words that would be kept for as long as she lived.
She spun to see him leaning nonchalantly against the frame. She swallowed at the heated look in his eyes.
The Doctor grinned. "Rose Tyler speechless. One for the books that is."
"Shut up," she mumbled, her fingers drifting over the soft cushiony fabric of the card. "I thought you thought Valentines Day was a meaningless human ritual."
"It is," he said, wandering over to her dresser and letting his thick fingers drift over all the objects there. "Like so many fantastic things, humans have taken something sacred and made it meaningless."
Rose bristled, even though his nearness was doing odd things to her insides. "Not to me."
"No." He looked directly at her and something clicked. "Not you. But then I've always said you're different, Rose."
"Me?" Rose was finding it hard to breathe. "Nothing special about me."
"Yes, there is," he stated simply. "You look at a flower and see your mum happy. You look at a Dryad mourning ritual and see rebirth and beauty."
Ah, so that's what that was.
He took a deep breath. "You look at an old bloke with funny ears and a bad temper and see…"
"My Doctor," she said promptly, her eyes falling onto the card she still held in her hands.
He smiled. A genuine smile, not a grin, but an honest to God, melt-your-heart smile. "My Rose."
He edged closer and her whole world was swallowed up in those intense blue eyes. He raised a hand and cupped her cheek tenderly, like he had done when she'd made that earth-shattering mistake with her father.
She felt her lips curve in response and tapped the card. "You made a rhyme."
He winced. "900 years and I don't think I've ever written a poem before. Feel a right ponce."
"If it makes you feel any better, it's more of a limerick," she teased breathlessly and he stepped closer.
"Yeah. Sort of. Meant it though. I can walk away now and you can keep it as nothing more than a human gesture, like Jack's flowers. We can go on as we have."
"Or we can mean it."
Rose swallowed and glanced down at the words, words that had touched her and made everything so clear.
To My Rose,
A rose is just a flower,
Flowers fade and die,
You promised me forever,
And swore you'd never lie.
I'm holding you to it, Rose.
"Forever," she muttered and flicked her gaze up to his, searching for and finding the vulnerability in his azure depths. "I meant it. Mean it."
He beamed. "Fantastic!"
The Doctor pulled her in tight to him and gave her a kiss that had her toes curling and brain smoking.
When he finally pulled away it was with no little satisfaction that she had a glazed look on her face, swollen lips and tousled hair where his fingers had made their presence known.
"Yeah," she grinned and surprised him with a tight hug. "I was always yours you know."
"What, I had you from hello?"
"More like you had me from 'run for your life'."
"Not from the basement?" He almost sounded disappointed. "That was classic timing that was."
"Give me a little leeway," Rose laughed. "I had just been attacked by shop window dummies. It took me 'til we got to the roof to realise you were a nutter."
"Oi!" He pulled back. "I'm not a nutter!"
Rose rolled her eyes. "Excuse me, Mr. I'm going to blow up this building and die, don't worry about me though, go eat beans on toast."
"I just go by 'the Doctor' now, by the way." Their teasing faded as his eyes caught sight of the exotic blooms on the desk.
"Nice flowers, though."
Rose felt herself smile as she saw them. "Yeah. No one's ever bought me flowers before."
"Hmmph." He sniffed. "I give you the whole of space and time and you go gooey over some cheap plants."
Rose smacked his arm.
"Don't cheapen my present, you!"
"All right, all right." He rubbed his aching arm. "Blimey, I bet your mum was a wrestler."
Rose just smiled and reached up to plant a kiss on his lips.
Jack was pleased and a little curious when they walked into the kitchen holding hands the next morning. He was delighted when they shared a kiss before making breakfast.
He was, however, more than a little confused when, instead of a trip to Grejak Major like planned, they ended up at something called the Chelsea Flower show.
He put it down to the Doctor's bad directional skills.