THe Christmas Heffalump
A Doctor Who Christmas Fanfic by Me.
Disclaimer: Don't own em; wish I did. Coz they's all shiny-like, huzzat?
Reaching across the small curl-edged end table, I plucked a vintage bauble from the Jones' tree and held it up to the chandelier-light.
It was silvery, its shine fading in places from age and gentle touching… more than a few telling scratches marred the circumference; even so, someone must have dropped it outside once upon a time, as there were bits of old dirt and signs of water bleaching where the mercury tinting was cut by the rents.
"Oh, Martha! Bother and dash it all! I'm positively –dying- to hold your sister's baby, but my hand's a bit numb, and I don't trust it…" I murmured, holding up my right hand for effect as I wrung my fingers. Of course, it wasn't that I had truly slept on it, but that was what the lie was going to be. "… I must have slept on it, yeah? Think that's what it was, actually."
Martha only stopped considering me with that 'I'm a doctor and don't you forget it!' look when her sister touched her shoulder lightly and inquired about the pudding.
It was banana.
Normally I love pudding, me. Long as it isn't pear pudding. Not a big fan.
They'd all noticed it. I knew that.
I was tired, lethargic. And no one, bless them, said a single word to me.
Francine was the only one who dared. She was the only one left in this universe who would.
She was frowning at me over dinner.
She frowned at me as everyone else bowed off to wrap presents. I even –got- some, if the murmurings here and about were to be believed! And of course, I gave some, as well. Can't have Christmas without the gift-giving, whether emotional or tangible. Makes no difference in the end.
The End. It was coming; that much was clear. And from the Ood, I had learned the shape of my death, if not the time or the place.
I looked up from the couch with a start, for I'd just been touched without realising. Doesn't happen often…
"Mmm. Must have been knackered."
The lights were dim… a blanket was covering me. Candles were lit all around, a testament to the unique joy of this special night. Channeling a deep breath into all three lungs, I savoured the taste of the candle wax on my tongue as it wafted my way. In my own daft way, I suppose I've always loved the scent of Christmas, the expectation of sugared butter cookies, the deep earthy fragrance of pokey little pine needles, the liquor-washed sweet of fruitcake jeweled and fermented, glistening with rum glaze… gifts dressed in wrapping paper shining like crystals beneath a beautiful tree.
A gentle finger tapped my shoulder, and I sat up like a shot.
"Oh, no, no, no. What time, Francine? Did I miss anything important?" My eyes must have been saucers, because she just looked at me, her grey streaked, elegant, dark frizzy hair cocked to one side along with the rest of her slender countenance. A portrait of grace in airy folds of pale champagne silk and silver.
But she only smiled and held out her hand. A good and godly woman, that Francine.
I shoved my hands into my face, rubbing my eyes and struggling to shake the fog that wouldn't have been there as yet had I been more careful with this body. Then I saw her face, and many more faces hiding across the room. God I really was doing it again, wasn't I? Else how in the cosmos could I have missed such a blaringly large – and rather terribly imminent- elephant, even in my sleep? The heffalump of familial togetherness, that is.
Scrubbing the last of slumber from myself -mentally of course, as we Time Lords don't accumulate organic silts in our tear ducts- I pried my eyes wide and searched the faces of my adoptive human family for any sign of… oh wait.
"Ha! Because I didn't!" I cried, laugh-snorting like a schoolboy hyped up on sugar. "Sorry loves; I was in a mood again. Didn't even know it. But never you mind! I do get a bit cross when I'm tired! Not any more though! Sooo. What's up for now then?"
It was Jack who spoke first.
"It's only Christmas morning, Doc. We can wait till later, if you don't feel up to snuff. We saved some of the bird for you…"
Purposefully interrupting Jack, I looked at Francine squarely, right in her pretty eyes, and I said, "Well! Is it time for presents yet? Because I really have to be going! Time to die, you know! Mustn't be late for that. And I've got to wear the brown suit, I think. If I remember the vision of the Ood correctly, it had bomb blast holes in it..."
A collective gasp might have shaken the room, if it hadn't been this particular room, filled with these particular people.
So I started with the toasting and the handing out of my gifts, while everyone did the same around me, minus the toasting of course. It would have been too noisy.
"Sarah Jane, that smile of yours is enough to light up any room, and now it can! Literally! Save you a bundle on your electric bill. Plus, I made you some diamond earrings and hid them inside the box. They'll bring you good fortune. Real good fortune! Not the cheap coin machine kind. They read your thoughts and manifest your desires, on a small, perfectly safe scale of course," I said, handing her a small package wrapped in green and gold shiny paper.
"And Francine… you always worry so much about your family…" I reached, picking up a medium, lap-sized package I had wrapped in purple and green hearts, with silverish ribbon, "… now you can relax when you're away, knowing that your home and everyone in it are safe. I got it on Telaxii Prime, last one left. Looks like anything you want it to, art, furniture. Anything! And it's keyed to your genetic lineage, so you can't lose it or it's protection."
"Alistair! Catch. Bet you can guess what time period where it's from," I tossed my old friend a musket-shaped gift, noting with some satisfaction the light that gleamed in his elderly eyes.
"Okay, Doc… you owe it to us to open at least one of your presents here," Jack said, grinning that naughty little grin at me.
You know, I really believe he can't help himself. Well no matter. I've stiffed the poor man often enough, so I thought I'd give him a special present, one he wasn't expecting.
I shooed everyone else away into the kitchen after I took my own stash and set it down next to my coat on the couch. Then I closed my eyes and opened one package, wrapped in a blue paper.
It was a red velvet suit.
I put it on quickly, as I knew everyone was waiting to see it on me. It was soft, form fitting. A pleasant change from my usual fabric fare.
And, predictably, they all shuffled in as soon as I had my back turned.
I turned, patting the lapels like a strutting peacock, a motion not entirely for their benefit, as I came to enjoy the suit more and more as each moment passed.
Silent as a pole, Mickey handed me what I would soon realize was a brand new pair of Converse… green chucks! He'd stuffed them in a box… and that inside a bigger box… inside a bigger box. Painted blue, with tin foil on it. I had a time getting it open. Finally used my sonic on it. Then I put them on straight away. No use wasting a good pair of trainers saving em for later. Besides, I could always adjust the size if my next incarnation decided they were a bit off.
But, then he said something to me, something wonderful that completely scraped my face off.
He said, "If I'd known you were gonna change again, Boss, I'd have gotten you some'n be'ah, wot?
He looked so small to me then, and I felt the tears running down my cheeks long before I realised they'd even started.
So I shook my head, and took him in my arms, and held him.
" Sure! Sure, you could have done, but then I wouldn't have these beauties, would I? They're perfect Mickey. You're perfect. I'm so proud of you. In fact," Holding up the converse he'd given me, I turned to my crew and their family and smiled through streams of crystal, "I'm horribly proud of you all! It's been fun, and wonderful, and terrifying, and fantastic. And brilliant. Rose would have loved to be here, with me, with you. My beautiful, savvy, marvelous, brilliant, always fantastic Rose… She better be living it up with my clone, or else…"
I pressed a hand to my two hearts and swayed, closing my eyes against the memories. It wasn't long before I felt Martha's hand on my back, rubbing circles. I drew her into a tight hug, holding her head in my hands and brushing her mind with a bit of my own.
"Merry Christmas, Martha Jones," I said softly in her thoughts. Then she kissed me on the forehead and walked away again.
And as always, at the last, there was only Jack.
I smiled as I thought of the Mistletoe hanging above the door to the kitchen, and said to my Boekind friend, "Close your eyes, Jack Harkness. It's time for your present."