Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: The Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith
Date Written: December 2006
Timeline: Somewhere during the adventures of Four.
Word Count: 1088
Disclaimer: The characters of Doctor Who do not belong to me. They belong to BBC and whoever else may own them.
Summary: Unexpected things happen when the Doctor is involved. Even during something as simple as swimming lessons.
Author’s Notes: Originally written for his_sarah_jane at theatrical_muse in response to the current challenge.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore Doctor!”
The words were said between gulps of cold salt water as Sarah Jane thrashed around in the ocean surf. Taking a deep breath, she ducked her head under the water for a second, trying to push her wet hair out of her eyes. As soon as she surfaced, the young woman returned to her previous flailing as she stood on her tip toes.
She shivered as she waited for a response; the water was cold against her bare skin, barely covered by her green bikini. Oh, she should have worn more.
“Nonsense, Sarah,” the Doctor replied from further out in the water. He seemed perfectly content as the waves passed him by, occasionally soaking his curly brown hair. “You’ve faced far worse: Sontarans, Daleks, Skangs… A little water won’t stop you.”
“Oh, but this may actually kill me,” Sarah shouted back and gained another good mouthful of water in the process.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time, when the TARDIS had landed the pair on the ocean planet of Tevera. She never quite mastered the art of swimming and, well, there really was no time like the present. After all, learning to swim properly had been a new year’s resolution of hers many a time past. With the native Teverans (a species resembling walking octopi) celebrating their own new years, Sarah figured it was about time she acted on that resolution.
But she had clearly underestimated just how much she loathed being in deep water. Clearly underestimated. Because right now, all Sarah wanted to do was get in the TARDIS and go back far enough in time to convince her past self out of this barmy idea -- even if the whole notion was impossible.
“Simply focus your attention on my voice Sarah. Forget everything else,” he suggested as she continued to splash around, struggling to stand. The Timelord, however, was having no problem what-so-ever treading the water and staying afloat.
Sarah remembered him once explaining to her that the buoyancy was a part of his anatomy, when they had been stranded together in the Indian Ocean. Oh, how she could use some of that physiology now. After all, why bother knowing how to swim when one could simply just float herself to shore?
“Oh, that’s easy for you to say! I’m in the middle of an alien ocean trying to desperately learn how to swim and all you want me to do is forget all that? ”
Sarah Jane really wanted, now more than ever, to wipe that annoying smile off his face. This wasn’t funny, oh, not one bit at all! Another wave came crashing towards her, knocking her backwards into the cold. Water washed over her face and the salt stung her eyes and the water tasted bitter in her mouth. This just wasn’t worth it. She’d never learn how to swim properly.
She let herself continue to drift underneath the surface. It was easier than fighting with the waves again. With her eyes closed, Sarah was lost in a dark and watery world. Her hair floated into her face and then away as a piece of something (she rather hoped it was seaweed) brushed her midriff. In fact, Sarah had decided that if it wasn’t for the need for oxygen, she would have stayed like this until the Doctor worried.
Served him right, too.
Finally, she swam (swam being a very loosely used term) upward and let out the breath she was holding to quickly gasp for air. Maybe that hadn’t been her best idea, but how it certainly beat failing to swim. To Sarah’s dismay, though, the Doctor was no where in sight.
“Doctor,” she called out, wading best she could towards the shore. “Doctor!”
But no one replied, and all that she could make out of the Doctor was the multicoloured scarf lying by her tower on the beach. She turned back to horizon, holding a hand over her eyes to avoid the glare of the suns. There was nothing out there, except for that odd contraption (Sarah assumed it was a Teveran type boat) kilometres away from where she was.
Now Sarah was becoming worried. He couldn’t have vanished; his scarf and the TARDIS were still there on land. And, oh! He wouldn’t just leave her here, alone, in a medium she was so completely unfamiliar with. But where had he gone? What had happened to him? Did he meet some sort of horrid sea monster and get dragged under? Should she return to shore now before the same thing happened to her?
“Oh, this isn’t funny anymore! Really, come back Doctor!” The tears of worry stung her eyes as much as the salt water had.
There wasn’t any choice left. Even though Sarah knew it was foolish, she had to go after him. She could never live with herself if she didn’t. Bracing herself, Sarah took a deep breath and dove into the oncoming waves. She knew she was reverting to her feeble doggy paddle and tried desperately to follow the strokes the Doctor had taught her. All her concentration poured into kicking her legs and moving one arm over her head at a time.
The next thing Sarah realised, there was something blocking her path. She tried to place her feet on the ground, but the water was too deep. Instead, hands grasped her side and moved her to a higher bit of ground. Sarah Jane opened her eyes to see the Doctor in front of her, smiling that goofy smile of his. He was fine! Absolutely, perfectly fine! No battle with a sea monster and no transmat beam!
“Congratulations,” he said, not even bothering to apologise for all the worry he had put her through. “You successfully swam all of three and a quarter metre on your own. I’m very proud of you, Sarah Jane.”
“Well I’m--” The sentence remained unfinished when a rather strong wave knocked her off her feet and she slid forward, lips pressing against the Doctor’s as she fell into his arms. She blinked in shock as he held her against him, smiling again. The waves crashed around them as Sarah finally decided on a proper response. “I’m happy, I suppose.”
Sarah now knew: there wasn’t any better way to fulfil not just one, but two, near year’s resolutions at the start of a new year on some alien planet, somewhere out there in time and space.