MERRY CHRISTMAS, SARAH JANE SMITH

Things were finally quiet on Bannerman Road on Christmas Day. Sarah had nervously watched the news for anything that normally managed to coincide with the holiday, but this year was strangely absent any alien activity. Her house has been a bundle of activity earlier in the day, but now things had calmed down. Clyde and his mother, Carla, Rani, Gita and Haresh and Luke had all had Christmas breakfast that Clyde had coerced Luke into helping whip up for them all.

Now, Luke, Clyde and Rani had all moved across town. Maria and her father had come into town for the holidays, so they'd all migrated over to Maria's mother's to continue their Christmas festivities. Carla had stayed for tea, even after Gita and Haresh left, but even she'd gone home now.

Sarah grabbed a book and sat on the sofa in the living room, feet curled up underneath her and looking forward to the promise of a quiet evening.

The doorbell rang, startling Sarah. Since she'd seen most of her friends already, she wasn't expecting anyone. Given how many issues seemed to frequently come up on Christmas Day in the area, she had a slight knot suddenly form in her stomach.

She opened the door and was surprised to see the Doctor standing there, a goofy grin plastered on his face. The wind blew around him, whipping his long brown coast around his lean frame. He had a large brightly wrapped package with a massive red bow on it.

Sarah couldn't help but smile. His mood was contagious. She stood to the side, 'Come in, it's freezing out there.'

He walked in and as she shut the door, he handed her the package. 'Merry Christmas, Sarah Jane.'

'Merry Christmas, Doctor.'

He followed her into the living room and casually threw his coat over the back of the nearest chair. He looked around. 'I expected the kids to be running around, being loud, you know, doing the things kids do.'

She sat the package down. 'They were here earlier, but they've gone over to Maria's mum's. So, I get to have a quiet evening.'

He picked up on her inferred reference. 'Not something that happens often.'

Sarah smiled and shook her head. 'Not often, no.'

The Doctor took Sarah by the hand and quickly wrapped her in a warm hug. 'Well, from my perspective, I'm glad I caught you. I would hate for you to be surrounded when I give you your present. It's for you and you alone.'

He led her to the sofa and guided her to sit down before grabbing the package, sitting in Sarah's lap, then sitting down beside her. 'Go on, open it, Sarah!'

'Impatient, aren't you?'

He grinned broadly. 'No, just excited for you to see it.'

She couldn't help laugh at him. 'All right, all right.' She reached down and untied the bow, making sure to drag out how long it was taking. She glanced up at him, a sly grin on her features as she watched him get more and more agitated by the second.

As she pulled the lid off the package, a large plume of smoke quickly filled the room, causing them to both start coughing. The Doctor quickly waved his arms around, trying to clear the smoke. 'Well, that wasn't supposed to happen.' His grin had turned into a sad frown.

He took the box and sat in the floor before looking into it, then reaching in with both arms until he was in the box up to his shoulders, much further than would appear to be possible. He looked up at Sarah. 'Dimensionally transcendental box,' he explained before essentially diving head first into the box and completely disappearing.

Sarah just sat back and watched, but said nothing, waiting for him to return.

She finally heard his muffled voice coming from inside the box. 'Weight distribution is handled by it as well, so you could pick it up and still move it around, even though I'm inside it, and it'll never be any heavier than just your average empty box.'

'Um, Doctor,' she finally asked, sticking her head in the box. 'Did you find what you were looking for?'

'No.'

'Oh.'

'Sarah, can you come in here a second? I need another pair of eyes.'

Sarah laughed. 'In the box?'

'Yes. Just like you saw me come in.'

Sarah took a deep breath, but then got in the box, arms and then head first, then the rest of her body. The Doctor was there to keep her from falling and got her standing upright. She looked around at the Christmas decorations lining the walls of the room within a box. 'Bigger than your boot cupboard,' she said with an appreciative smile.

That caused the Doctor to laugh. 'Yes, I suppose it is, isn't it.'

He took her by the hand and led her to a small table that had been set up with candles and a full Christmas dinner spread out. 'OK, so this probably not the way I had intended this.'

Sarah took in the scene before her. 'I'm still not quite sure what you did intend, Doctor.'

He shrugged, 'I thought we might have a nice quiet Christmas dinner, just the two of us. I set it up in here in case you were surrounded by the kids, we could escape and no one would know where we were.'

'And what was all that smoke about?'

The Doctor looked over at the table. 'Candle malfunction.' He sat ungracefully down at the table. 'Actually, there's more to it than that. I wanted to give you a space that you could call your own. A little piece of the TARDIS if you will. Some place that was just for you. I know your attic used to be like that but now that the kids are around, you don't really have a space that's just for you.'

She smiled at the gesture. 'You remembered.'

He looked at her, his eyes conveying more than words could. 'I remember everything. How much you enjoy those moments of peace and quiet that are reserved for Sarah Jane Smith alone. I used to want to crash those moments, but I've learned from them.'

She tilted her head as she looked at him. 'Learned? In what way?'

'That sometimes it's all right to be by yourself, and in those moments, you learn to treasure what's truly important to you.'

She sensed there was more than just what he was saying. She prompted him. 'Such as?'

He looked up at her, and reached out for her hand. She took it wordlessly and sat next to him at the table. 'That the people you treasure you want to keep with you, even in those quiet moments alone, you hold them close to your heart and never let go.' He took a deep breath. 'I never wanted to let you go, Sarah. Then once I was forced to, I couldn't come back, because I knew ultimately I'd still have to say goodbye. That's not something I ever want to do, Sarah.'

'Me either, for what it's worth.'

He grinned, the silly grin he wore when he'd first arrived at her doorstep. 'I think you'll have a hard time getting rid of me now, Sarah.'

Her smile matched his. 'Good. I wouldn't have it any other way.'

He reached for one of the Christmas crackers on the table and held it out for Sarah to pull. 'Merry Christmas, Sarah Jane.'

'Merry Christmas, Doctor.'

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