Standard Disclaimers Apply. Thanks to krypto for the beta. So, this is it. Two more stories and I'm done : ) Next time: Captain Jack (you may all rejoice)


Neither Here Nor There



The Doctor woke to the icy breeze whipping through the control room. "Ung…" Rubbing his forehead, he opened one eye. They were, strangely, still in one piece. Of course… if that was the case, why was he getting snowed on…inside the ship?

Opening both eyes to the harsh natural light flooding through the door (with the snow), he looked around. "Vi?" He'd love to take credit for not being dead, but this one had been left way too much to chance. Seriously. No more splitting the ship between times and places. His hearts couldn't take it.

The girl's voice drifted in with the giant wet flakes. "It's snowing!"

Prodding the bruised and unfortunate knot on the back of his head, the Doctor meandered over to the door. They were in some wooded area, but he could hear traffic just beyond. Leaning against it, he watched Violet for a moment—relieved. She was… undamaged physically, and she was more like the girl he'd grown so fond of these last few years.

She was lying in the snow, flapping her arms and legs, making an angel. Her mouth was opened, tongue perched forward to catch the falling flakes. It was a completely different person on the ground, flailing about in just a t-shirt and jeans, than the one who'd been sleeping on the floor of the control room last night and he was glad. "Alright…that's enough!" he announced in a mildly stern tone. "Leavin' the door open, rolling around in the snow without a coat on…" Stepping outside, he pointed back into the ship. "Change of clothes, wash your face, hat, gloves, scarf, and by then I should know whether the natives intend to have us for dinner, or have us for dinner."

Stunned that he seemed so…serious, she got to her feet, soaking wet from the snow, and staggered back into the ship.

Looking up at a grey sky framed by stickly and bare tree branches, the Doctor shoved his hands into his pockets, enjoying the moment. The air was cool and wet, tickling his senses. Taking it in, he sighed contentedly. He didn't know where or when they were—but he couldn't ask for a more perfect day.

He headed back inside to find out the where and when, and to make sure the girl actually got the dirt off of her face—washing up only counted when you were clean at the conclusion of it—which seemed to be lost upon her.


Dragging a dark blue scarf behind her, Violet tried to keep track of the hat and gloves. The Doctor'd said she needed those things, not that she actually had to be wearing them. "NOW can we go out?" she begged, scrambling into the control room.

He had his trench coat on, but he didn't have a hat or gloves. She was just about to point out the injustice when he cracked a grin. "Nineteen eighty four. Chatham Dockyard in Medway's been closed after 400 years of service, British Telecomm is privatized and the Ethiopian famine begins."

The girl stopped at the top of the ramp, shoving the gloves into her pockets. "Cheery."

He leaned against the door, making no move to let her out. "Those things only work when actually WORN. We're in New York City…Central Park. Subway shooting a few days ago has got everyone talking and looking over their shoulders… Oh wait, you said cheery. Okay. Height of the Cabbage Patch Kid craze—ugly little toys that look slightly Slitheen—parents rioting at toy stores…" He stopped when he noticed her frowning at him. "Alright, that's not very happy either. Nineteen eighty four…Uhh… Ghost Busters is the big film, first woman-astronaut-spacewalk thingy…oh yeah, and it's Christmas Day. About nine in the morning."

Stepping away from the door, he let her fly through like a bat out of hell. This had to mean that Christmas wasn't so awful any more, which meant that there was some magic left in it after all.


In the dark family room, Rose sat on the sofa, one leg propped up on pillows, trying not to laugh; every time she did, it jostled her magnificent sprain. It wasn't so much the sprain that was killing her, but the torn ligaments. The physician had said something about her being on crutches just shy of 'forever,' which had sounded really appealing.

Her mum was hovering over the arm of the sofa, trying to get an ear near the phone. Finally Rose had to bat her away. "Slow down," she declared, doing her best not to crack up. "And then you did what with the horses?"

There was a pause—possibly the other party just catching a breath. "I fed the horses! And it was a sleigh ride! I got a scooter, and a Cabbage Patch Doll…they DO look like little baby Raxacoricofallapatorians! And books, I got books! We had turkey, and cake…"

Violet had slowed down her rapped-fire report of the day for all of about two seconds and promptly returned to shouting out the days events like she'd eaten that whole cake herself…in addition to an entire packet of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

About twenty minutes later, she could hear the Doctor informing Violet that it was time for bed. There was the usual (at least for when Rose and Jackie used to put Violet to bed) bemoaning of fate, existence and a load of other things.

Rose put her hand over the mouthpiece. "He's putting her to bed?" she questioned, not quite sure of what she was hearing. The Doctor had never really been about…rules with Violet. He hadn't let her run wild, of course (a wild Violet was a dangerous thing—both for the girl's own safety and the universe at large), but rules weren't exactly hard and fast with him.

Jackie smiled, satisfied. "Glad he's listenin' to someone who knows what they're talking about."

A minute or so later, she heard the Doctor sigh on the other end. "We exchanged gifts after dinner—she's still wound up. I may need to sedate her."

Rose DID laugh at that. There was a reason 'normal' people did that early in the morning—so the kids had the entire day to burn the excitement off. "Exchange? So what'd she give you?"

He chuckled. "A TALKING neon green Christmas tree tie. Must have snuck off in the middle of the day and got it from a vendor. And a patch for the sonic screwdriver. It now has a scrambled egg setting."

A snort escaped Rose before she could help it. One hand went to her nose, trying to hold back any further unnatural sounds. "Was that a present for Violet, or a present for the Doctor?" She couldn't imagine what purpose a scrambled egg setting would have… other than to feed Violet.

The Doctor said he wasn't entirely innocent himself. "I got her thirty-one monster novels. That's at least two weeks of blissful silence I just bought myself. She starts reading any faster, I'll get her a muzzle for Boxing Day." There was a large crash in the background. "I'd better go see what she's doing. It figures she'd get 'lost' on the way to her room."

Knowing Violet, the girl had tried to use the scooter inside the TARDIS and had slammed into something either painful or important. "Kiss her goodnight for me. And thanks for trying to call again."

"Figured it'd be safe after I got your email. Thanks for getting US out of our little predicament."

Rose blushed. "Once again, you'd be dead if it wasn't for me."

He chuckled, and it warmed her heart. Things would never be as they had been—time and the universe had seen to that. But some things never changed. "Yes, Rose Tyler, the world revolves around YOU. Goodnight. Merry Christmas."

"Happy Christmas."

She was saved the burden of having to end the conversation—he hung up on his end. Sighing, she put her head on her mother's shoulder. She'd never have all her heart's desires in one place at one time, but at that moment she'd been awful damned close…and that was a good Christmas. Violet was safe and sounding far better than her mother had reported earlier; apparently nearly being torn to shreds by the universe was just the thing. It was good to hear her child's voice after so long. The girl sounded so much more… mature. It was good to hear the Doctor again too. For the moment, everyone was safe, everyone was happy.

It was…nice. It was…far better than the red bicycle when she was twelve. And for now, at least…it was hers.


Next time...

There was a beep from Jack's wrist computer. It was a particularly annoying beep, something akin to the alarm clock, this way he'd never mistake it for anything else. It had not gone off since the alert had been set, but there was no question what that sound had been.

There it was, plain as day, the nose on his face…something. Between two dormitories on a local university campus. It sat there all smug and arrogant and so very, very blue: the TARDIS.