The Christmas Poison

By Lumendea

Chapter One: Return to Earth

Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or any of the spinoff material and I gain no income off of this story, just the satisfaction of playing with the characters.

AN: Happy Holidays! I'm so glad you found the story okay. This is an interlude episode in the Guardians of the Universe Travels in Time season. I'm finding it easier to remove the Christmas episodes now from the main run just because it's really hard to schedule where they will fall in the main stories. Hope you enjoy the story.

Rose had no doubts that the TARDIS controlled her phone. Sure, in theory the mobile phone was only linked into the TARDIS translation matrix and used the ship to boost its signal through the time space vortex, but Rose knew that the TARDIS controlled her phone. It was the clock. The clock of her phone shifted to local time wherever they went, alerting her to the proper date and time which she used to aggravate the Doctor from time to time. Yet the calendar didn't change. The front screen could be telling Rose that it was Hognotch 4 on the planet Horgin IV, but her calendar when opened told her the relative date on Earth.

It made it easy for her keep track of time. Whenever she did a journal entry, she was able to double check the relative date to her and how much time had passed. Given that some of their adventures kept them off the TARDIS for a few local days it was the only way that Rose had any idea of when it was on Earth. She supposed that it didn't really matter. The TARDIS was her life, but it was nice to keep track of the time her friends and family experienced. The calendar also helped Rose know when she was calling. The TARDIS always called the day that it said the phone was so Rose didn't have to worry about accidently calling Shireen or her mum in the past.

So when December rolled around, Rose began to hint at the Doctor that she'd like to visit her mum for Christmas. He didn't respond to anything that first week and Rose let it slide. The second week, he'd distracted her with several stunning nebulas. But by Christmas Eve, Rose put her foot down and glared him into submission.

"Earth," Rose said. She crossed her arms stubbornly. "Come on, Doctor. Let's go. I told you I wanted to see my mum for Christmas."

"Not sure what you want to go back to Earth for," the Doctor grumbled. None the less, he began setting the controls. "We were just there!"

"No, we were just at the markets of Severius Prime," Rose said. "Before that, we were chasing a comet for two days. Before that, we were in the jungle on Axtraus, and before that we on Vigiel."

"But before that we were on Earth!"

"In Sherwood Forest, centuries before I was born. It hardly counts."

"It was Earth!"

"Yes, fine it was Earth." Rose rolled her eyes and held on tight to the console as they started to move. "But it's Christmas time to my mum now and she wants to see me." The Doctor rolled his eyes and grimaced at the mention of her mum. "I'm just trying to stay connected to people on Earth. And with that incident at Luke's party I barely had a chance to talk with anyone."

The Doctor's expression softened a bit, turning almost guilty. Rose reached out and touch his arm. "Not your fault, but things were just a little chaotic. Luke's done his first term now at school and I want to have a chat with him about it. You know, godmother stuff. I love traveling, but I just want to see my friends back on Earth for a day or two."

The Doctor looked down at her, smiling indulgently before he moved to adjust the controls. The TARDIS shuddered for a moment and Rose grabbed onto the railing, moving only to hold down a button at the Doctor's command. At least, he had given up on trying to find the mallet. Rose was certain that she and the TARDIS could keep it hidden. A moment later, they stopped.

Leaning up, Rose kissed the Doctor's cheek quickly, both as a thank you and an apology for being so bossy. He grumbled slightly as his cheeks and ears turned pink. Holding back a laugh, Rose headed for the TARDIS door and opened it up. They were in her mum's garden, right in the center of everything. She noted with a frown that the ground was bare and brown. No snow this year it seemed.

"Rose!" Jackie rushed out of the kitchen, a wide grin on her face. "Oh sweetheart!" Opening her arms, Rose moved forward and hugged her mum tightly. Jackie babbled into her ear, the comforting soundtrack of her childhood, and hugged Rose impossibly tighter. "So good to see you sweetheart!" Jackie pulled back and touched her face. "Thank you for coming home for Christmas."

"We made it then?" Rose asked. "We haven't missed it?"

"No, you haven't missed Christmas." Jackie's nose curled up. "Was that a risk? Can't he fly that blue box of his?"

"Oi!" The Doctor shouted from inside the TARDIS. "Shut the door, Rose, my ears are burning."

"Well they're large enough for that," Jackie muttered.

Shaking her head, Rose turned back to the TARDIS and gave the Doctor a smile. "Are you coming?"

"Bit human out there right now," the Doctor said. He scowled at Jackie and Rose knew that her mum would be making a face right back. "Got some work to do. Go have fun."

"See you later then," Rose said. "Thank you again, Doctor." She closed the door and shook her head, knowing that someday he'd be a bit more into Christmas.

"Happy Christmas, Mum," Rose said.

"Happy Christmas, Rose," Jackie said. "Good thing you came back rather than being stuck with Scrooge there!"

"Christmas is a human holiday," Rose explained patiently. "Not even all humans celebrate it. He just comes from a different culture with different traditions." She looked around at the brown garden and sighed. "Is it actually Christmas or-"

"Christmas Eve," Jackie said. "He got the timing right at least."

"Let's not worry about the Doctor," Rose said. She put her arm around her mum as they walked to the back door. "How are you?"

"I'm alright. Things are nice enough at the flower shop, though the holiday preparation was crazy. I was working full time last week!"

"Did you enjoy it?"

"A bit, but Gita didn't take the stress well. She was booked for two holiday weddings. Two! Mad woman. Oh, Bev said to tell you hi next time you popped around and I'm visiting cousin Mo for New Years. Unless you're staying that long."

"Probably not," Rose said. "Doctor doesn't like staying in any one place too long."

Jackie made a displeased sound, but kept the comment to her. "Oh, I'm taking a cooking course at a nearby school."

"Really?"

"Told you I'd find something. I rather enjoy it, honestly I didn't think I would, but there's some nice ladies there. We have tea on Thursdays after class together."

"That's wonderful."

"One of them has a son a little older than you, nice young man. Studying to be a surgeon."

"That's nice, but no thanks, Mum. No setting me up."

"Well, if you won't give Mickey a chance-"

"Mickey's my friend, almost my brother," Rose protested. "It would be weird." She shuddered a little at the idea. "I trust he's coming over for Christmas?"

"Supposed to be," Jackie said. "But last I heard, his work was doing something big." She said the word work like it was foul.

Holding back a smile, Rose followed her mum inside only to blink in surprise. Even the kitchen was decked out for Jackie's annual Christmas party. The counters were loaded with purchased trays of food, booze, and even a cutting board with more food that Jackie was making. Her mum had clearly been channeling her energy into feeding the neighborhood.

"Staying busy, Mum?"

"Trying to," Jackie said. She sighed. "It's been a bit harder lately since Rita Anne passed." Rose nodded in understanding, glancing towards the spot where the old woman used to sit with her tea. "House is too quiet, but Gita's over more often. And Rani and Clyde pop by to check on me." Jackie shook her head. "Honestly, it's like I'm already the neighborhood old woman! I'm not even forty."

"Mum."

"Fine, I am, but I'm not helpless."

"They're just making sure you aren't lonely," Rose said.

"No chance of that." Jackie hustled Rose over to the table and set her down. "Sarah Jane comes by sometimes. She still has Skye, but she's missing Luke terribly. And my cooking classes are nice. I've been trying to think of what else to do."

"Well, I'm glad that you're doing okay. And thanks for being here for Mickey."

"Of course! He's family." Jackie gave her a look and Rose gave her mum a warning look in return. "He's a good boy. Son I never had."

"I know having this house to come to means a lot to him," Rose said.

"Oh? You talk with him?"

"Sometimes," Rose said. She shrugged a little. "I call Sharon and Shireen more than him, but we check in. How's his girlfriend Joan?"

"They broke up two weeks ago."

"Sorry to hear that." Rose grimaced at the silence and watched her mum return to her party prep. "So have you invited Sharon and Shireen?"

"I did, but they probably won't bother unless they know you're coming."

"I'll give them a call then," Rose said quickly.

She slipped away from her mum to make the call. Jackie was keeping a close eye on her and Rose wondered if her mum was worried that she'd run off without a goodbye. Mentally tossing a coin, Rose called Sharon and hoped that she'd have her phone. It was answered a moment later.

"Rose!" Sharon greeted happily.

"Happy Christmas, Sharon!" Rose said.

"Happy Christmas," her friend replied. "Listen, Rose, are you on Earth?"

"Just arrived, I came to see Mum for the holiday. I was calling to see if you were coming tonight."

"It depends, it's been a crazy day." There was noise in the background. "Rose, is the Doctor here or did he drop you off?"

"He's here, working on the TARDIS in the yard," Rose answered. "Why? Is something wrong?"

"Well, there's a situation that UNIT is making a move to deal with. We were debating bringing you and the Doctor in, but if you're already here then maybe it is okay."

"What kind of a situation?"

"Weird technology," Sharon said. "We weren't sure if whatever caused this would notice the TARDIS or not, hence the not calling you right away. We'll be on site in an hour. I know Kate would be happy if you joined us."

"You're going? Why?"

"I'm part of the medical team. It's a factor. I can't explain everything over the phone, but please come to the ATMOS factory outside of London." Sharon rattled off the address. "It's important, Rose. Kate doesn't think that we have much time."

"Alright," Rose said. She looked over at her mum. "We'll be there." She ended the call and forced a smile. "Mum, UNIT needs some help, I've got to go-"

"You can't go to work! It's Christmas!" Jackie frowned at her. "Do you even work for them anymore?"

"Mum," Rose said gently. "This is important by the sounds of it. UNIT wants to investigate something and I guess they're using the holiday as a cover or hoping that the factor will be empty. Try not to worry."

"Try not to worry, she says," Jackie huffed. "Like you've forgotten everything that has happened."

"Mum," Rose said gently. "I love you, but if UNIT is looking into it then it might be dangerous. We can't let dangerous alone on Earth." Jackie sighed, but nodded her understanding. Stepping forward, Rose hugged her mother tightly and kissed her cheek. "I'll try to be home tonight for the party. And don't worry. Sounds like this is probably where Mickey is."

"Tell him to look after you then!"

"Yes, Mum."

She made a quick escape from the kitchen with her mum still grumbling behind her. "Aren't you going to drive?"

"Uh, maybe," Rose answered. "I need to check with the Doctor."

Closing the back door, Rose sighed softly in relief. That could have gone worse. Pocketing her phone, she pulled out her key and unlocked the TARDIS door. She spotted the Doctor's feet poking out from beneath the console. It hadn't taken him long to start tinkering.

"Doctor," Rose said.

"Back already?" He slipped out from under the console. "Got tired of your human holiday a lot faster than I thought you would."

"UNIT has a situation," Rose said. "Weird technology, seems to have everyone on edge."

"Why didn't they call you?"

"I guess there was concern about us being spotted or something." Rose shrugged and leaned against the console. "Sounds like trouble, want to check it out?"

The Doctor all but jumped up, grinning broadly. He grabbed the monitor screen and tapped the screen impatiently before crossing his arms. "What's going on?"

"Somekind of alien technology on Earth," Rose said. She shifted around next to him. "Didn't get much on the details, but sounds like UNIT is raiding the place today."

"Christmas Eve?"

"Most of the workers should be gone or leaving soon," Rose replied. "So? Driving or TARDIS?"

The screen beeped and the Doctor looked at it. "Well, that does look interesting. TARDIS just picked something up in the industrial zone outside of London."

"It's called ATMOS," Rose said. "Is that it?"

"Looks like," the Doctor said. He adjusted the controls. "Can't get a good reading on it though." Grinning, he hit another button and flipped a lever. "Let's take the TARDIS!"

"Just so we're clear," Rose said, grabbing onto the console as they started to move. "This doesn't mean that I'm not still spending time with my mother when this is over!"