Fandom: "Without a Trace"
Characters: Samantha Spade, Brian Donovan, Jack Malone. Cameos by Elena, Vivian and Danny.
Prompt: 94. Independence.
Word Count: 789
Summary: She couldn't remember the last time she'd had an actual date.
Author's Notes: Set in S5.
A date. She actually had a date.
Actually, she couldn't remember the last time she'd had an actual date. When she'd done the dress, the shoes, the dinner-or-a-movie and not just skipped right to what happened at the "end of the night." All of her dates had been "end of the night"s. Even with Martin, her last real relationship (attempt), their supposed dates had always felt like "end of the night"s. In fact, she couldn't remember a time when the dates just...ended without anything else happening.
Brian, of course, didn't have a choice in the matter. He'd only gotten one "end of the night" out of the deal, but it had ensured that all she'd be having was only dates for a long while.
She just never figured any of those hypothetical (most likely mythical) dates would be with him.
"I think we should go out," he'd informed her last week -- when he'd finally had the decency to pick up the phone after not signing the papers she wanted.
"Go out? Where?" she'd asked without thinking.
"I don't know -- to a restaurant, maybe."
After a moment, she replied, "Oh...you mean go out. Like...on a date."
"Yeah, on a date," he'd parroted back to her, sounding so smug in that moment. "Usually people go out on dates before they have a child together, but hey -- I can be flexible."
Ignoring his comment, she suggested the Chinese place closest to work. It wasn't far, it had good food and most importantly, everyone else on the team hated it.
"First, you try and take away my fatherhood -- now, you want to question my potential boyfriend skills! I'll pick the place. You just...wear something nice. You don't have to put out, but I will expect lipstick and heels."
She swore he sounded about 15 years old. As if this was the junior prom and she was the dorky freshman being escorted by the star quarterback.
Though she was well past her first trimester, she reached for the Saltines anyway.
Actually, she didn't think he was serious until he called back the next day with a time and place. Friday at 8PM...some ridiculously trendy restaurant on the Upper West. She'd never been there -- could never afford it -- so she figured he knew someone there, or he couldn't afford it, either.
And all he was expecting in return was that she look nice. Lipstick and heels...not exactly a bad tradeoff. She had the whole week to reject every pair of heels in her closet and pick up some cute ones on her way home one night. And since she was out anyway, she figured she'd pick up some new lipstick, as well. Indeed, by the end of the week, she also had a new dress, new purse, even a new haircut (though she'd needed one anyway).
It was a new woman who came into work that Friday, collecting compliments all around.
"Cute shoes," from Elena.
"Nice haircut," from Viv.
"Like the dress, Sam -- very chic," from Danny.
"What's the occasion?" from Jack (of course).
"I have a date." Opening up about her personal life was usually the fastest way of getting him to leave her alone.
He'd started to walk away, but she couldn't let his response go unnoticed. "Excuse me?"
For a moment, it looked like he might not elaborate. But then... "Well, it's probably a big deal if you bought yourself an entirely new outfit."
"It's just dinner," she found herself insisting. "He's not proposing or anything."
But the minute the words left her lips, she began to wonder. He'd picked the place. He'd set the time. Someplace nice he couldn't afford, and he'd asked her to dress up.
Just the mere possibility had her reaching for the Saltines again.
He entered the restaurant later that evening to see her at a table in the back -- her shoes kicked off, her new purse hanging off the seat, a napkin obscuring almost the entire front of her dress. She seemed to notice him just as she bit into her second egg roll, obliterating what was left of her lipstick.
"He stand you up?" Jack asked.
A minute passed as she finished chewing. Taking a large sip of her water, she hooked her feet under the chair across from her and shoved it outward. "Depends," she answered, turning her attention to the plate of noodles at her right.
He scanned the flimsy menu, remarking, "I hate this place." Trying, but failing, to contain his disgust.
"So, leave," she said, through a forkful of noodles. Brian had been right about one thing -- she'd needed a date. Especially with herself, and on her own terms.