Hi everyone. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

Here's my new fic for you all. I got the latest plot bunny after watching this year's Christmas Special. Better not read this if you haven't watched that yet as a. there are spoilers and b. it won't make a lot of sense! This is going to be a few parts long and there will be m/m slash in future chapters. If you don't like the idea of that, better give this one a miss.

Thanks to Rangergirl for checking this over for me. Cheers hon!

Okay then, hope you enjoy. Please remember to review! Comments are love :)

A Christmas To Remember

Part One

The Doctor sat alone at a table, as usual, lost in his own thoughts.

He twirled an untouched glass of mead in his right hand, staring at the drink thoughtfully. The taste of the liquor was bitter to him, fitting in with his current mood. All he could hear from those around him was laughter and enjoyment but he could not get himself into the same celebratory mood, despite all he had accomplished that day.

He glanced over at his new found friends, sat in a small group across the room. He had made his apologies to them and had taken his leave of the happy group. He had fully planned to leave but for some reason had changed his mind, choosing instead to perch at an empty table and watch the happiness from afar. A happiness he knew he just couldn't share.

The Doctor looked over his smiling friends, glad to see them enjoying themselves. Their new lives together were just getting started. He had come to the inn with them, fully intending to have a good time but he could not feel part of their fun, no matter how hard he tried. It wasn't that he didn't want to join in, to laugh and socialise with them, but things just weren't that simple for him. He had once been part of such a group, back when things were so different for him. Back when he had Rose and her family and he had truly felt part of something special.

His tenth life had been so shiny and new in those days; he was an innocent, blissfully unaware of what he would eventually be facing. He had stupidly thought the worst was over, that he had been "healed" and life would now improve for him. But that had been a false hope. Images flashed across his mind. He saw Jack's pained and accusing face, accusations that he had never wanted to face and had tried so hard to ignore; he felt the Master in his arms as the only other Time Lord in existence faded away, leaving him alone once more; he saw Davros smirking up at him as the evil Dalek creator ripped him apart with his cruel words. Worst of all, he saw the fear in Donna's eyes as she stared at him, desperate and pleading as he had forcibly taken away everything that made her her.

No. As much as he tried, he couldn't be that wide-eyed wanderer anymore, traveling wherever he wanted. He could no longer see the universe through Rose-tinted glasses, thinking he could make everything alright with no consequences, no matter what his actions were. Losing Donna in such a cruel way had changed him forever. He had lost too much, been put through so much grief and turmoil that he couldn't go on the way he always had. Find someone new and just carry on each day, waiting for them to leave him. All he had wanted was peace and quiet and he had known that solitude would bring that about for him.

Or that had been his plan.

Of course, things never worked out for him the way he hoped they would. In no time at all, he had literally run into Jackson Lake and it was safe to say that the man had fascinated him.

The Doctor gazed at Jackson. The man was laughing heartily, one arm thrown around his son, Frederick, the other gently brushing the arm of Rosita, his new friend and companion. The Doctor, in a way, had brought this new family together. That's what he did, after all. He brought happiness to others, but couldn't seem to find much for himself. He smiled ruefully; maybe he would give Christmas a miss next year, hide away in the TARDIS until he knew it had passed safely by for another year.

Safer for everyone, he reasoned, silently.

It was hardly surprising that he had been drawn to Jackson Lake. The man had, after all, thought they were the same man! And the Doctor had for some time believed him, so intrigued he had been the moment he had met Jackson. In the end, Jackson had turned out to be human - an incredible human by any standard, but a human being nonetheless.

A man with a tragic secret.

So horrified had Jackson been by losing his wife, his brain had blocked everything out, including who he was. Instead, he had become the Doctor, thanks to some clever Dalek technology stolen by cybermen. Cybermen that had murdered his wife and carried away his son. The Doctor didn't blame Jackson for not being able to cope with the ordeal. In some ways, he had envied the man for being able to block out such a past.

His thoughts instantly turned again to Donna Noble and the Doctor cringed. No, memories were good. Memories made you who you were. To lose yourself would be a fate worse than death. A fate he had forced upon his closest friend.

He gazed back down at his glass, feeling his eyes filling with tears. He gave himself a shake; moping wasn't going to help anyone. He glanced once more at the family across the room. Rosita was hugging little Frederick close to her whilst Jackson stood behind the woman, his hands clasping her shoulders. A small smile spread across the Doctor's lips.

"I brought them together," he murmured. "I can still do some good."

And that was why he would carry on. He thought of his ship, his only home, waiting for him, ready to take him to his next destination, to the next terrified soul he would arrive just in time to save. And that was what made his existence worthwhile. And from now on, he would do it alone.

Finally bringing the glass of mead to his lips, he knocked the bitter drink down his throat in one swig and slammed the glass back down on the table. He gave his latest acquaintances one last unseen salute before heading for the door.


He stopped dead, sighing as he turned around.

Jackson Lake stood a few feet away from him, a questioning look on his face. The Doctor noticed he was wearing his large coat, just as the Doctor was. The Time Lord gave the other man an apologetic smile, which Jackson did not return.

"Forgive me, but I thought you left a long time ago?"

"Sorry." The Doctor responded, his defensive routine instantly kicking into gear. "You know me Jackson. Places to go, people to see."

Jackson frowned. "As I told you earlier, Doctor, I don't believe any man truly knows you."

The Doctor chuckled, despite himself. "You're probably right about that. Best to keep some aces in the pack, you know?"

Jackson shook his head in defeat. "Come back and join us, Doctor. Please, I implore you. You shouldn't be on your own today. It's Christmas!"

"I need to keep on going, Jackson. There's so much still out there to see, for me to learn."

Jackson laughed. "You arrive, you change people's lives, mainly for the better and then rush off into the sunset. I know this, Doctor. I felt it. For some time, I was doing it. I was you!"

The Doctor looked down. "It's best that way. No more getting attached. No one gets hurt that way."

Jackson was thoughtful. "And you remain lonely."

The Doctor shrugged. "But I don't get hurt."

Jackson reached out and grasped the Doctor's arm. He was surprised to see the Doctor almost recoil from his touch.

"You keep telling yourself that, my friend."

The Doctor moved away. "Goodbye Jackson," he said quietly. "Your family are waiting for you."

Jackson glanced over his shoulder. Frederick and Rosita were both watching the two men closely, obviously confused.

After a moment, Lake returned his gaze to the Doctor. "I believe you need me more right now, Doctor. Perhaps more than you can admit. You forget, for a short time, I was you. I know how you think."

The Doctor smiled affectionately. "You really don't, you know."

"No?" Jackson replied, his face obstinate. "Why don't you tell me, then?"

The Doctor stared incredulously at the stubborn man and then laughed softly, his fingers pulling at his ear.

"Oh Jackson, you're not going to let this go are you?"

"Indeed not."

"Oh, alright then. Your place or mine?"

Jackson chuckled. "As much as I find your home quite wondrous, Doctor; I don't think my poor head could cope with another visit so soon. Perhaps I could suggest somewhere different?"

The Doctor nodded.

Jackson clasped his hands together. "Good, good! My friend, come with me. A moment though, if you please..."

Lake spun round and signaled to Rosita for her to approach. She did so, though clearly unsure whether she should, not wanting to interrupt something important.

"Rosita, the good Doctor and myself will be taking our leave of you all for the evening. We have matters to discuss together, privately. I hope you understand?"

Rosita rolled her eyes. The Doctor watched her with admiration. He appreciated her feistiness and respect for Jackson. He wished he could take the chance and ask her to join him but he couldn't. How could he break up Jackson's new family? And risk both his and Rosita's happiness, her safety, her very life? He could not, would not take the risk. Not anymore.

Jackson had taken Rosita's hand and held it in both of his own. "Please, Rosita. Do this for me?"

"Oh, as you wish," she snapped, "I'll take the boy home and put ''im to bed. Don't be too late, mind! And listen you two, you watch yourselves!" With that, she turned her back on the two men and returned to Frederick's side, leaving Jackson and the Doctor to stare after her.

"As I said," the Doctor remarked. "Marvellous woman!"

Jackson nodded his agreement and then gestured towards the exit. The Doctor smiled and walked past him, out into the snow. Jackson caught him up and together, they hurried away, chatting merrily.

Neither man noticed a figure step out from a dark alley next to the inn, who watched them closely as they walked away. With a quick gesture into the shadows, the stranger followed behding Jackson and the Doctor, careful to remain hidden. He chuckled. He had waited so long.

It was going to be a very interesting evening.