Author's note: The title is a nod to Katy Manning, the actress who played Jo Grant.
Dr Who, as always, belongs to the BBC.
The Doctor fell out of the TARDIS, coughing and gagging, waving away yet another cloud of purple-puce smoke as he beat out a small blaze on his pants leg.
This was really beginning to become rather tiresome.
The Time Lords had wiped his mind, and the TARDIS itself, of time/space travel capability, effectively turning the Earth into a prison. They had not counted on his sheer level of genius, though...
Well, perhaps they had.
He shut the door to his poor damaged ship rather hard, then patted the side, his expression softening. "There, there, old girl," he said, "don't fret. I don't blame you."
He shook his head as he stepped over to his work bench. "Those Dialanian crystals I salvaged didn't seem to do the trick." He gazed over his tools. "Perhaps a turn around the countryside would clear my head."
His eyes lighting, he turned. "I wonder how Bessie has been keeping..."
He looked out the window.
Snow covered the countryside like a thick woolen blanket. Up above, the clouds, spent, had fled. Stars twinkled down in a wintertime symphony.
The Doctor gazed upward in an involuntary gesture, and his hearts skipped a beat. His face tightened. "Blast," he muttered. The loneliness, the longing, was all the worse on nights like this.
He strode over to the door. Perhaps some natter with the humans would ease it a little, he thought. Even a tiff with the Brigadier over the 'proper paperwork'?...
He sighed, and closed the door behind him.
Jo Grant came around the corner, hanging decorations, and almost crashed into the Brigadier. "Eep!" She staggered forward, almost falling, before he caught her elbow, steadying her.
"Thank you," she said."I was just-"
"Decorating for the Christmas party?" said the Brigadier, one eyebrow raised. "That doesn't happen for another two hours, Miss Grant. I think you can ease off on the urgency a bit."
"Oh, but there's still so much to prepare!" she said. "The tree's only half-done, the punch still needs to be made, and the favors-" She looked aghast, and brought her hands to her face, heedless of the tinsel still clutched in them. "The favors! Could you be a dear, and send a man into town to get another box of Christmas crackers?"
"I beg your-"
"Thanks so much, I really want this Christmas Eve to be special for everyone!" She blew past him down the hall, hanging tinsel as she went.
"-pardon," he finished, then harrumphed. "I suppose I should be grateful it comes only once a year."
She was almost to the end of the hall, when she saw the Doctor crossing the corridor. She was about to wave, when she saw his expression.
His face held none of the cheerful look she usually associated with him, or even the distracted busy one he often wore while fixing something on his phone box. It was his other look, the one that he thought she hadn't seen before...
the face of a castaway, who might never again see home. The face of a prisoner.
He apparently was lost in his thoughts, and hadn't noticed her. She stepped quickly into a doorway and watched him pass.
Her own expression shifted from sadness at the Doctor's plight, to determination.
"Special for everyone," she repeated to herself, and set about decorating with a renewed vigor.
The party was in full swing. A few of the men had brought their wives or girl-friends over, and a few of the couples were dancing near the record player. A group of four of the men were sitting at a small table off in the corner of the room playing poker.
Knots of people, small and... well, less small (it being not a lavishly-staffed outpost in the first place) stood near the tree, the fireplace, and in other areas of the large common room.
Even though it was 'just not done', the officers had put in an appearance. The Brigadier had unbent enough to get himself a punch and sit on a couch, but not much more than that. Captain Yates stood near the tree, strategically positioned beneath a sprig of mistletoe.
He grinned and winked at Dr. Shaw as she walked by. She stopped, crossed her arms, and regarded him with a small smirk.
"Captain," she said, "I'm quite sure that's only supposed to work once."
He shrugged. "Can't blame a man for trying." He wandered off toward the punch bowl for a refill.
The Doctor struggled with a wrench, trying to get the service panel off of yet another alien artifact.
"Might as well get some work done, then," he said in an irritated voice. The humans were all wrapped up in their silly primitive solstice celebration, and probably wouldn't want to be bothered. He gave the panel another look, then reached over...
There was the sound of running, booted feet, and the door burst open. Sergeant Benton stood in the doorway, gasping.
The Doctor leapd to his feet. "What is it, man. Out with it!"
"It's... Miss Grant," said Benton. "She... was decorating for the party and... some kind of hole in the air opened, and something grabbed her. She's been kidnapped!"
The Doctor snatched up his sonic screwdriver from the bench, heading for the door. "Lead the way. We might yet be able to find where she's been taken!"
"You should let me take a look at that ankle, old chap," said the Doctor to Benton, who now staggered along beside him, propping himself against the wall with each step.
Benton wiped his face with his sleeve. "I'll be fine," he said. "You should go on ahead. It was in room 21b." He started to hand the Doctor his key ring, but it was waved off.
"No need." He patted Benton on the shoulder. "I'll be back straightaway."
He made his way cautiously down the hallway, screwdriver at the ready. The lighting overhead flickered fitfully. He gripped the knob of the door, turned the handle, and...
He staggered forward as the door was flung open inward, and a bright light hit his eyes.
The next thing that hit his ears was the din of dozens of voices shouting, "SURPRISE!"
"What?" The Doctor turned quickly-
and was nearly knocked off his feet by a very determined Jo Grant as she leaped at him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and treated the startled Time Lord to the kind of long, sweet kiss that had most of the men whooping and catcalling.
When she broke it off, the Doctor just stared at her a moment, stunned. He was completely oblivious to the lipstick smeared across his face.
"Wha- what," he said. "Jo..."
She smiled at him, and pointed up. His eyes followed... to find a sprig of mistletoe hung directly above the door.
"One of our 'primitive customs," she said, a little out of breath still. "Merry Christmas, Doctor."
He stared at her a moment longer, then started to laugh, and gave her a kiss on the cheek in turn, much to the astonishment of many present. "Merry Christmas, Jo."
He turned and started toward the refreshments table, one hand wiping at his face with his handkerchief, the other still around her.
Benton watched from his vantage point near a poinsettia arrangement, grinning. A snatch of their coversation reached him.
"...suppose I have been a bit of a grump lately..."
"...no, Doctor, I hadn't noticed..."
"Well, Miss Grant, it appears that 'Operation Cheer Doctor,' as you put it, worked."
He looked over toward the card game in progress, and his grin took on a decidedly different aspect.
All those Christmas bonuses, just going to waste...
He stuck his hands in his pockets, and sauntered over. "Mind dealing me in, gents?"