Jackie Tyler loved two things: her wonderful daughter and being dramatic. Late one Earth evening, she decided to call Rose on her mobile. "Rose, I must be dying."
"You're not Mum," Rose sighed on the other end of the line. She glanced at the Doctor across the console with an eye roll. "What's wrong?"
"I haven't felt this terrible in my entire life. I look like a ghost I'm so pale! My fever is through the roof. I can hardly move. Barely talk. I'm telling you, I'm dying! Can you at least come 'round and say goodbye to your mother?"
Rose covered the phone with one hand. "Mum says she's dying and to come say goodbye."
"Seriously?" the Doctor frowned. She laughed at the expression on his face. "Right. It's just Jackie being Jackie."
"Please?" Rose batted her eyes. "What if she is dying? I'd never forgive myself. Or you, for that matter."
He sighed and gave into his companion, as he often did. With the pull of a lever and a bang of a hammer, he shouted, "Hang on!"
Rose grinned and grabbed the console with her free hand. "We'll be there soon, Mum. Just wait for your final goodbyes, yeah? Love you."
When they got there, they found Jackie on the couch looking very feverish. The Doctor scanned her with his sonic screwdriver, humming thoughtfully at the results. "Well, Jackie. You've got a serious case of influenza, but you'll live."
"See? You'll be fine," Rose assured her with a gentle pat of her hand.
Jackie coughed. "Could you at least stay a few days? I don't know if I can do this by myself."
Rose looked at the Doctor. He opened his mouth awkwardly, not wanting to agree. She nodded to her mother with a desperate stare and then put her hands together, pleading. He moved his head from side to side, grumbling, "Oh, all right! We'll stay."
The Doctor smiled when Rose grinned at him and Jackie thanked him explicitly. Later that night, the time travelers stood by the front door.
"Don't," the Doctor pleaded as Rose slipped on her jacket. "Please, please, please, please."
She chuckled. "I'll only be gone for a little while. You and Mum should get to spend some quality time together."
"Can't it wait?" he groaned. "I didn't even want to stay here and certainly not alone with your mother!"
"Oi, watch it. I'm just stopping by the shop to get her a few things. You'll be fine. Mum's so drugged she probably won't bother you."
With that, the Doctor was left alone with Jaqueline Andrea Suzette Tyler. He sat uncomfortably on the floor while she lay on the couch. Instead of watching the tele, like the Doctor, she decided to interrogate him. "So, what are you intentions with my daughter?"
So much for drugged and not bothersome. His neck snapped back to look at her. "What?"
"Are you two dating or?"
"What?" he repeated.
"Dating: going out, courting, fraternizing! You and my daughter. Are you?"
He rubbed his face. This was not happening. "It isn't really your business."
"Right," she nodded, winking. "That's a big yes then."
"What? Just—you—hold on—that—what? How'd you get—from—I didn't mean that—blimey! Women!"
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean? I'll have you know that I was only trying to help you."
Pausing, he studied her. "Help me how?"
She cackled. "Check the calendar! It's Saint Valentine's Day tomorrow. Oh, wait. Alien life form. You don't celebrate that, do you?"
"Not really, no."
"Well, on Earth, it's a romantic day. You should get her something," Jackie stated.
"Get who something?"
She rolled her eyes. "Rose, you idiot."
"But it's a romantic holiday."
Jackie laughed. "Sure, and I'm the Queen of England. Take her somewhere nice without death about every corner. Buy her some pretty things like flowers or chocolates. Maybe a card. Women love that. To be acknowledged. The romance. When Pete asked me to be his Valentine the first time, I couldn't breathe! I was so amazed that he'd taken the time to remember me. You lot should do something nice. Rose deserves it. And, even if you really think that you aren't together, it's still nice to acknowledge your best mates."
He ran a nervous hand through his hair. "You think I should?"
"Why else would I have brought it up?"
"But you don't like me," he scoffed. "You've hit me. I took your daughter from home and I continually put her life in danger. And you're encouraging us to be…and us? It doesn't make sense."
She smiled. "When you put it like that, maybe I shouldn't have said a word. But, if you must know, she's madly in love with you."
"She…" he trailed off, exclaiming, "WHAT?"
"Are you blind or just thick?" she laughed. "She's mental. Loving you. But, what can I say? She could do worse, I suppose. So, do you want to give her a proper Valentine's or what?"
He considered and broke out into a big grin. "Well, Jackie Tyler, I am going to need your help. And possibly money."
Rose thought that it was strange when she found the Doctor and Jackie laughing together. She was glad that they'd put aside their differences, yet she had a feeling that something more was going on. When the Doctor hugged her tightly and kissed her on the cheek vanishing from the flat only seconds later, she knew for certain that they were plotting. He never was that cuddly. Jackie denied everything and said, "You know, I think I'm feeling a bit better. You don't have to stay for a few days. Maybe just tonight."
Meanwhile, the Doctor was busy procuring a few things for his date with Rose on Valentine's Day. Jackie told him everything he needed to know in order to make it perfect. He hid it all in his room on the TARDIS, casually sauntering back into the flat as if nothing had happened.
"Where were you?" Rose asked him when she heard the door close.
"Oh, went for a walk. Checked on the TARDIS. Picked up a bit of stew for everyone…" he held the bag with a confident smile, giving Jackie a wink. She nodded and Rose looked between them. "So, where are the spoons?" he inquired innocently.
Rose made a motion between them both. "What was that?"
"What was what?" the Doctor shrugged.
"I don't know what you mean," Jackie added.
In a huff, Rose went to fetch the spoons and the Doctor gave Jackie a smile. "Everything is in order."
Rose came back and they had their stew in silence. Since Jackie went to bed early, Rose sat up with the Doctor to do some reading. She had to ask. "Are you hiding something from me?"
"Me? No. Never. What would I have to hide? Nothing. That's what. How's the book?"
She glared and pointedly resumed reading. He didn't like to keep secrets from her, but it was necessary in this case.
The next morning, Jackie rushed them to leave her flat so their day could begin. She hugged both Rose and the Doctor, whispering in his ear "Don't screw it up. You've got a chance with her."
The plan was in full swing once they reached the TARDIS. He set the destination, refusing to say where they were going. Besides, they were on a time crunch. They had to appear at the right time or everything would be ruined.
"You, um…" the Doctor started. "You need to change your clothes. Something comfortable, nothing elaborate, anything that'll work in hot and cold weather, anddd…we don't have a lot of time. So don't worry about coordinating shoes or whatever. You'll look beautiful no matter what," he quickly began to walk towards his room, sensing Rose's heightened heartbeat and breathing. He smiled to himself. "Go on, Rose. We'll be there any second! Go, go, go, gooo!"
She shook her head as she followed towards her room, grinning. "He's gone mad."
He put on a fresh suit and shaved rapidly, muttering to himself about not screwing up and actually having to listen to what Jackie said. Soon as that was done, he grabbed a large bag and stuffed everything into it. Last was his coat, and then he was out the door. Rose was waiting in the console room, causing him to stop in his tracks.
Rose smiled and pointed to her new outfit. "Better?"
"Uh…um…erm…" he cleared his throat thickly. "You look…"
She chuckled and asked sarcastically, "That good? Do I still have time to change?"
"No, no, no, no. I didn't mean. I meant. Just. Wow."
Her cheeks turned red and she gestured towards the door. "We're here. We should go, yeah?"
"Right. Yes. Follow me!" he ran past her, reaching back to take her hand. He opened the doors on a stunning beach, obviously on an alien planet. The sky was bright red and the waters were green. Three, purple moons were like shadows in the clouds. She gasped at the sight of it, gripping his hand tighter. "You like it?" he asked with a daft grin. He didn't care. She looked so happy.
"Like it? I love it! Where are we?"
"Eh, a planet. Small. Not really many people. Great this time of day. It's hot now, but the temperature will drop. Come on."
He led her down onto the sand, which was much easier to walk on than sands on Earth, and he spread his coat on the ground. They were just far enough away from the waves to stay dry, but they were close enough to feel the breeze.
"Why are we here?" Rose queried as she sat beside him. "Killer seashells, evil fish, approaching doom and destruction?"
"It's not always like that!" he tried to sound offended, but it was hard when she was smirking at him with her tongue peeking out. "All right, so maybe it is like that a lot of the time. But, no. That's not why we're here. At least, I hope not."
She spread out beside him, spying the bag next to his hip. "What's in the bag?"
"Curious, are you?" he laughed. "Well…" his mouth went dry. He wasn't very good at this sort of thing. "We're here because…"
"Because…?" she continued, gazing up at him intently.
He decided it was better to just show her, so he reached into the bag and removed a single flower. It hadn't wilted or been damaged, and that he made sure of. She appeared to be in shock when he handed it to her. "It's gorgeous," she murmured. "What kind is it?"
"Ambrosia. I thought about the usual suspects: tulips, roses—wouldn't that have been so predictable, orchids, lilies, that sort of thing. But, do you know what ambrosias mean?" he continued when she shook her head no. "Anyway, it wasn't easy to track it down in London. Well, actually, I nipped away for a bit yesterday. Johannesburg. Lovely this time of year. Plucked that flower myself. Weren't too happy with me. Apparently, it was somebody's garden…"
She laughed. "All that trouble for a flower?"
He frowned. "Don't you like it?"
"I love it. I just can't believe you did that."
"Oh, there's more…" he smiled, reaching into his bag again. Before he'd show her what was in his hands, he rambled. "Now, before I show you, know that I didn't have a lot of money. Well, any money except what I borrowed. And it was last minute. And the shop was out of everything. And this is all that was left."
He handed her a small, heart-shaped box of chocolates that obviously was meant for a little girl. It had a princess theme with pink swirls and sparkly beads. She covered her mouth to stifle the laughter and instead went with, "I love it. What's all this for?"
"That um, leads me to my question…" he took a deep breath, trying to remember the exact words humans used. He decided that he didn't like the phrasing, so he improvised. "Never mind a question. More of a statement. On Earth, the date is February fourteenth. I believe that's a day called Saint Valentine's. And the tradition, as I understand it, is for a person to find another person to be their 'Valentine.' That's what I'd like for you to be. If that's…you know…what you want to…anyway…"
"You want me to be your Valentine?" she repeated in disbelief. This was so unlike him, but she didn't care. "I'd love to."
He lit up and reached into the bag again, removing an unreasonably large box. Before she could comment, he stated, "Bigger on the inside, Rose! Now, let's get this going!"
It turned out to be a radio of sorts, piping static and music through some kind of speaker. He used his sonic to clear up the noise and stood on the beach, pulling her to her feet. They danced together, smiling and giggling, until something beeped. The Doctor checked his sonic and his eyes brightened.
"This planet has a spectacular sunset. Unbelievable! But, it only lasts for a single minute. Very short amount of time. And that minute starts…now."
He turned her towards the sky and they watched the sun quickly descend. Lights and all kinds of beautiful images filled the night. Rose was in awe, clutching the Doctor's side in wonderment. He had seen it before, so instead he watched her face. His hearts surged with warmth and he hugged her to his side. Once it was over, they huddled together on his coat to look at the stars. Their warm breath mingled as a cloud in the cold air.
"You never told me what the ambrosia means," she commented, fiddling with the buttons on his shirt. She set her chin on his chest, smirking. "What does it mean?"
"It means your love is returned," he said seriously. She doubted that was the real meaning, but his voice sounded genuine. He glanced at her, swallowing the knot in his throat.
Her lips grazed his jaw and she moved to his ear. "Happy Valentine's, Doctor."
"Happy Valentine's, Rose Tyler."
She thought of something. "How'd you know about it being Valentine's?"
"Well," he spoke carefully. "Your mother."
Rose sat up suddenly. "No wonder."
"No wonder what?"
"This isn't like you, Doctor. The…everything. She told you to do this, step for step, didn't she? My meddling, mother…"
His mouth hung open, stuttering helplessly. "Not exactly. That's not how it. She just told me that we should do something for Valentine's and explained the traditions and such. And she gave me the money for the chocolates. But that's. That's all. I mean. The rest was me."
"You know. Picking the planet. The flower. The chocolates. The music. Sunset. All that. Jackie did say that flowers and chocolates and beaches are all customary, but…it was my choice."
"I just thought that…maybe…you were talked into it…" Rose told him sheepishly. "Isn't everyday you're this…sweet."
"Well, I've never said that I'm sweet. I've said maybe, but depends on the day, really. Today, yeah. I feel good. Great, even. And sweet. Very, very sweet."
She smiled softly. "What's so great about today?"
"Oh, you know. Nice beach. Good company. Holiday. And."
He smirked and she frowned. She knew that look. He was hiding something. "What do you know?"
"Know? I know that almonds are a member of the peach family…"
She gently hit him. "Shut up. Seriously. Tell me."
He let out a long breath. "Your mother may have mentioned something to me."
"What?" she was getting nervously.
"Oh, nothing really. Just that you're madly in love with me."
It was Rose's turn to stutter. "What? She—and you—but—I—that—what?"
"Yeah. Is it true?"
She scoffed, but he could see how red she was in the moonlight. "Please."
"No, I think Jackie was onto something. You're in love with me."
"I…I'm…" she was flustered beyond belief. He shushed her and motioned to the flower. "You said that it means…"
He nodded. "Ambrosia."
With a big grin, she captured his lips in a kiss. He kissed her back and they resumed huddling together in the cold. "Do you think that you could share those chocolates?" he questioned, idly playing with her hair.
She opened them and they ate to the sounds of the radio, gazing at the moons. Rose's mobile began to ring and she groaned. "It's Mum. I'll call her back."
"Probably making sure I didn't screw this up," he sighed. "She warned me not to."
"I can't believe she did this. I wasn't sure that she liked you…"
"That's what I thought. Apparently, she thinks that you could do worse."
Laughing, she kissed his cheek. "I think so too."
They stayed together enjoying the perfect night until it was too cold to handle. Hand in hand, they went back to the TARDIS. Jackie left a message for Rose and smiled, knowing that the strange alien mustn't have screwed up too terribly after all.