Title: The Eve of Christmas
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and all its characters are owned by the BBC and all those associated with the production of the series. I'm merely using their characters for entertainment and non-monetary purposes.
Characters/Pairings: Ten, Donna, Wilf, Sylvia
Warnings: Post JE, so definite spoilers.
Summary: It's Christmas Eve in the Noble household.
Author notes: Written for nschick for the DoctorDonna Secret Santa Christmas ficathon.
Sometimes when she closed her eyes, the blackness that appeared would be suddenly obliterated by blinding lights, metal boxes with plungers and a faceless man with a billowing trench coat.
Her eyes snapped open and she placed a hand on her chest, feeling her heart racing.
“You all right, love?” her grandfather enquired, handing out a cup of tea to her.
“Yeah, fine thank, Gramps. Just watching the latest Christmas specials,” she nods in the direction of the festively lit television in the corner.
“Specials?” he snorted settling down beside her, “nothing but rubbish on the set these days. I remember the days when Morecombe and Wise used to be on, now that was a real Christmas Special.”
“Really?” Donna replied frowning, “because what I seem to remember about those Christmas Specials is you snoring by the time it was halfway through.”
“Oi,” he jostled her arm affectionately, “what did I ever do to deserve such a granddaughter, eh?”
She grinned, taking a sip from her cup. “I don’t know Gramps. Just lucky I guess.”
They sat in silence watching the television, Sylvia joining them after giving them an earful about the horrendous crowds around the streets of London.
Donna didn’t feel like pointing out that she wouldn’t have had to fight through Oxford Street if she’d finished her shopping before Christmas Eve. Instead she tried to tune her out and nod in agreement whenever it seemed it was needed.
She remembered when Christmas used to be a happy time. She used to count down the days until she’d finish from work for almost two full weeks of relaxation, food and partying.
The decorated Christmas trees with their flashing lights used to cause a warm glow inside her chest and bring a smile to her face.
Delightedly, she and her father or grandfather would put up the tree and decorate it while Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole crooned softly in the background.
But this year was different, and she couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but Christmas just wasn’t the same anymore. She still looked forward to escaping the drudgery of getting up every morning and battling through the rush hour to work, but it was tinged with a sadness and darkness she couldn’t quite understand.
The Christmas trees made her heart beat a little faster in trepidation, especially the bright, round baubles hanging from the green branches, and the image of Santa caused a cold shiver of dread to run down her spine.
She felt like such a lemon. Who the hell was scared of Santa? It was ridiculous, but she wasn’t surprised considering how everything in her life seemed upside down theses days.
In all honesty, everything had been a bit of a mess since she’d recovered from the ‘accident’. The details were still sketchy, and she had blacked it out completely, which seemed to have also caused her to lose a year of her life.
Her friends had spoken of her practically disappearing off the face of the Earth for months on end with only the occasional text message to let them know she was still alive, and she thought they must have all been mad. People didn’t just disappear and suddenly reappear months later.
Besides, Gramps and her mother had reassured her that she had never disappeared, but she had done a spot of travelling.
She just hadn’t taken any photographs or bought any trinkets. And it frustrated her to no end. She could spend nearly as much in a tacky gift shop as she could in Marks & Spencer or Oasis. But thinking about it too much only gave her a headache. It just seemed like one night she went to bed, looking forward to her big wedding day, and suddenly she woke up with her phone going mad with crazy text messages about planets appearing in the sky and she was missing a chunk of her life.
As for her one time fiancé, she had heard nothing from him and Gramps has assured her she was better off without him, and he had left a long time ago. Strangely, it didn’t bother her too much that he wasn’t around any more. He was always a bit soft, and Donna had always really wanted a man with a bit of backbone that she could enjoy having a good argument with.
The shrill ringing of the doorbell interrupted the lazy atmosphere in the small living room.
“I’ll get it,” Wilf volunteered, levering himself off the comfortable sofa and heading towards the door.
“Who calls on Christmas Eve, and at this time of night?” Sylvia grumbled, crossing her arms.
“Maybe they’re carol singers,” Donna replied absently.
“Carol singers?” Sylvia looked at her wide eyed, “when was the last time you saw any carol singers anywhere near here at Christmas?”
“Well I don’t know, do I?” Donna lifted a hand saw her ring glinting under the Christmas tree lights. “Either that or Santa’s fallen off the roof.”
She smirked at her mother, who rolled her eyes but couldn’t conceal the small smile forming across her face.
“I’ll see what’s going on,” Donna left the sitting room but paused just as she closed the door behind her, hearing a voice she knew she should recognise.
“Just promise me you’ll give it to her.” The voice insisted urgently.
“But what if it doesn’t work?” her grandfather replied, and she could hear the apprehension and fear in his voice.
“It will work, Wilf, I promise,” the man sighed, “But if there’s even the slightest chance that it doesn’t I can’t be around when she gets this. That’s why you have to be the one, Wilfred.”
Donna felt her chest ache at the emotion in that one simple word, and knew her father would never refuse him, whoever he was. The door closed and she quickly went back into the sitting room and sat back down on the couch.
“Well?” her mother questioned her. Donna was saved from replying with the arrival of her grandfather.
Immediately, she focused her clear gaze at her grandfather.
“Who was at the door, Gramps?”
“Oh, eh, it was just a delivery man, love. Last minute deliveries, you know,” he patted her shoulder, but she could see the moisture building in his eyes.
“Last minute? It’s nearly ten thirty on Christmas Eve, you can’t get much more last minute than that!”
He chuckled half-heartedly before turning his attention to his daughter. “Sylvia love, can I have a word? In the kitchen?”
She frowned but silently followed him out of the room.
Donna’s hands curled by her side. Something was happening, something important, and she just knew it had something to do with her and that man her grandfather had been talking to at the door. She wanted so badly to follow them and demand to know what was going on, what all the hushed conversations she’d walked in between the two of them had been about, and what that man at the door had to do with it. But for some unknown reason she couldn’t force her body to move and leave the couch.
After waiting for what seemed like hours, her mother and grandfather eventually returned, her grandfather carrying a small black box. Her mother’s lips were set into a harsh, thin line and she couldn’t bring herself to look at her daughter.
“Ok, what the hell is going on?” she demanded, forcing them both to look at her.
“Donna, love, this is for you,” her grandfather held forward the box and she took it tentatively.
“What is this?”
“It’s a present. Go on, sweetheart, you can open it.”
“Since when have we been able to open presents on Christmas Eve? That’s practically death sentence in this house.”
“Oh, for God’s sake Donna,” her mother finally snapped, her fiery eyes challenging her daughter, “just open the bloody thing.”
Donna’s mouth snapped shut and she stared down at the black box in her hands. She felt unexpectedly nervous, which was just silly. What was the worse that could happen? But that man’s voice kept playing in her mind.
Just promise me you’ll give it to her.
Swallowing hard, she flipped the latch and lifted a lid. She gasped and looked up at her family.
“Where did you get this? Was it that man at the door? Is this what his delivery was?”
“Just put it on, Donna,” her grandfather encouraged her.
Her fingers traced over the smooth surface of the stone that clearly matched the dark ring she wore everyday. Taking it out, she placed it around her neck and immediately it snapped into place becoming a prefect unbroken chain, the latch having somehow managed to disappear.
“What?” her surprise at the necklace was quickly surpassed as she watched in shock as her ring started glowing a beautiful golden colour, and looking down she noticed the stone on her necklace did the same thing.
Her head fell back as hundreds of thousands of images flew past her eyes. Dimly, she was aware of her mother calling her name and holding her hand beside her. But she was too distracted as images, knowledge and memories came rushing back.
Images of monsters, aliens, mountains spewing fires, valleys of ice and planets of gems and jewels filled her mind. And him. Always him. Standing by her side, her hand firmly grasped in a slightly cooler grip as he showed her wonders she’d never imagined and running. Lots and lots of running. That certainly explained the three and half inches she’d magically lost off her thighs during her ‘missing’ year.
Eventually, her head fell forward limply and she rested a few moments.
“Donna,” her mother’s sharp voice infiltrated her clearing mind. “I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him,” she hissed at her grandfather. “If he’s harmed her.” Her voice shook and tiredly, Donna placed her own hand over her mothers.
“It’s okay, Mum,” she whispered hoarsely. “I’m okay.”
Taking a breath, she sat back and stood up, her mother and grandfather immediately at her side.
“Donna, I don’t think you should be moving. I don’t know what just happened, but you don’t-”
“I’m fine, Mum,” Donna reassured her, smiling gently at her mother. She turned to her grandfather, the fear in his eyes all too easy to read.
“Where is he?”
A tear slipped down her grandfather’s cheek that he wiped away quickly.
“Outside,” was all he managed to say, not trusting his voice not to break completely by saying anything more.
“Thank you,” she squeezed his arm, and turned to her mother. “Thank you both.”
Outside, as if it belonged there, was the big blue police box that she saw with the same disbelief as that day she had first set eyes upon it. She smiled and ran her hand down the smooth outer door. “Happy Anniversary, Tardis.”
She pushed open the door and her feet landed on the grating with the same dull thud that immediately brought back so many memories.
And there he was. Standing over the console with his back to her. His shoulders hunched and head lowered, the familiar striped brown suit radiating tension and apprehension with every breath he took.
He turned suddenly, his eyes widening comically and his mouth falling open. “Donna.”
“Don’t you ever change?”
He let out a huge laugh and ran forward grabbing her and spinning her around delightedly.
“Put me down you silly sod before you do your back in.”
He did as she asked, pulling back and cupping her face. “Donna,” he whispered her named reverently, his eyes running over her face and body drinking in every aspect of her, every small change and nuance since the last time he saw her.
“Donna, Donna, Donna,” his face split into a grin again and he crushed her to him again in a hug that left her breathless and brought a tear to her eye.
“Good to see you too, Doctor, but I really need to breath,” she said quickly before she suffocated.
“Oh, right, sorry,” he stepped back and looked sheepishly at her.
“Oh, come here you big softie.” She reached forward and hugged him in a slightly less restrictive pose.
How long they stayed like that she wasn’t sure, but she couldn’t stop the smile on her face or the tears in her eyes and knew he was wearing a similar expression.
Eventually she pulled away and wiped at her eyes, blinking rapidly to keep the tears at bay.
“All right,” she laughed, “enough with the sentimentality, Doctor. How about you tell me how it is that I’m hugging you in the middle of the Tardis and my head still hasn’t exploded?”
He grinned and pulled her towards the corridor where the Tardis living room magically appeared in front of them.
They sat down comfortably on the couch and he reached out a hand and traced the necklace resting on her chest, the dark stone having returned to its normal deep onyx colour.
“Do you remember when you got that ring?” he asked curiously.
“Yeah,” she smiled, “you produced it right here before we landed on the Ood planet.”
“It’s a very rare, very powerful stone,” she noted affectionately how his hands already started to gesticulate wildly while he explained. “Originally, I had bought it as a means of keeping you safe, it offers a certain amount of protection, but it was also a means for me to be aware of where you were.”
Her eyes narrowed; “Is this a tracking device?” she frowned down at the ring. “Did you chip me like some sort of dog.”
“No, no, no,” he hastened to reassure her and paused for a moment, “well, yes, but I wouldn’t have put it quite like that. Besides,” his voice lowered and he pulled out the tried and tested ‘puppy dog look’ that he knew she found hard to resist, “all I wanted to do was keep you safe and make sure I could find you again if we ever got separated.”
“Okay, but how does this tie into my head not blowing up?”
“Well, this is also a very powerful storage device, capable of holding vast amounts of knowledge and information.”
“Such as a Time Lord’s consciousness?” she questioned.
“Not on its own, no.” the Doctor leaned forward and lifted the necklace. “Which is where this little baby comes in.” he grinned triumphantly, “wasn’t easy to find, but that’s a story for another time.”
“Get yourself into a lot of trouble tying to get your hands of it?” her eyebrow cocked knowingly and he blushed under her gaze.
“It’s not as if I go looking for trouble, Donna. It just seems to find me. But the point is these two gems working together can hold all those other Time Lord bits that you don’t need. As long as you keep them on you at all times. I can’t emphasise that enough Donna. You can never take these off.”
“Or my head will melt, right?”
“Right,” he agreed.
“Which is why the latch disappeared after I put the necklace on?”
He nodded again and grinned. “You’re good at this game, Donna.”
She smacked his arm lightly, “Don’t you forget it.” She got up from the couch and walked out of the room.
“Donna!” the Doctor called following her outside the Tardis. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going home.”
“Oh,” the light dimmed from his eyes and he scratched the back of his neck. “Well, right, yeah. Ok. If that’s what you want.”
She crossed her arms and sighed dramatically. “Doctor, it’s Christmas which we are spending with my family. You can take me to all to other planets you promised to bring me to after Christmas. Besides, I seem to remember you owe me a Christmas dinner with my family.”
“Your family?” he looked fearfully at the front door. “Family means your grandfather and…..your….mother.”
“Yes, it does,” she laughed, “come on; don’t tell me the great Time Lord is afraid of a little grumpy earth woman?”
She hooked her arm through his and they began the small walk towards the house.
“Afraid? Of course I’m not afraid,” he replied indignantly, puffing out his chest. “It’s just, like you said, it’s Christmas and I didn’t bring any presents.”
Donna stopped suddenly at his side and he looked down at her, surprised to see the soft look on her face.
“You gave her daughter iherself/i back. Trust me, Doctor, that’s the best present we’ve ever gotten. Merry Christmas, Doctor.”
She hugged him to her desperately.
“Merry Christmas, Donna.” He replied, burrowing his nose into the crook of her neck and breathing in the Donna smell he’d missed so much.
He had a feeling this was going to be the best Christmas he’d had in a very long time.