A/N: A little bit of Christmas fluff for you. Sorry it's so late (I'm still getting Christmas presents from my friends, so I think it's at least acceptable), but I only started writing it Christmas Eve. Think I finished it just before I went to bed Christmas day, and then I've been procrastinating editing it. I probably could've stood to put it up without, since I didn't make that many changes, but I'd expected something I wrote so spur-of-the-moment to be crap. Not all that bad, just not what I normally write.
Believe it or not, I actually sat down to write a code Lyoko fic. Originally, the first sentence I wrote was "She eyed the tree warily, still halfway expecting it to come to life and attack." I thought it was Yumi talking to me, but then I wrote a few sentences and realized that I'd typed something more fitting to Doctor Who. So I went with it, spurred on with excitement over the (at the time) coming Christmas special. Which was amazing, by the way. Best Christmas special yet. So, while this doesn't hold a candle to Steve Moffat's brilliance, I hope you enjoy my ramblings.
By the way, this also came out a bit epilogue-y, but I'm okay with that because it's not a complete happy ending. And, when I started writing it, I had somehow managed to completely forget about Journey's End. But that's also okay, because I didn't like it anyways, and I'm not so great at writing Ten II.
Disclaimer: In case it's not completely obvious, Doctor Who is owned by BBC, and I am not Steven Moffat (except maybe in my dreams). So this is in no way related to the official show. Enjoy it anyways. :D
Rose eyed the tree warily, still halfway expecting it after all these years to come to life and attempt to kill them all. Somehow, she almost thought that it would make her Christmas better if something insane and extraterrestrial were to happen. Stuck in one place for far too long, she was tired of sitting around and waiting. Not waiting for the Doctor; no. She'd given on that that up years ago. Rose knew better than that because she knew the Doctor better than that; she was certainly enough like him to know. And he didn't come back. If she had her choice-it was the one she'd taken, oh so long ago-she wouldn't ever be back, either.
She was a traveler at heart, and she couldn't hate him for embedding that in her. He'd opened her eyes to so much more. When it all came down to it, she was much better off than she'd started, and there wasn't any possible way, with the clarity of hindsight and time's tendency to heal even the worst of wounds on her side, that she couldn't thank him for that.
But the facts remained, regardless. She was tired of waiting. Tired of sitting around and doing the same thing day to day. She had tried Torchwood, hoping that it would give her the connection to the stars that she'd grown to need like she needed to breathe. But it wasn't long before she gave up on Torchwood; it made her feel too much like Van Statten, looking up at the stars from a little hole in the ground and attempting to steal them out of the sky. Too many rules, too much paperwork, too many people who looked down on her because she was more street smart than book smart. Then there was the fact that, regardless of the universe, it was Torchwood. The name itself sent shivers down her spine, and it didn't give her enough wiggle room to be remotely worth it. Freedom was a luxury she'd gotten far too used to, spoiled as she was. Not by her parents, as everyone assumed; she refused their help half of the time, anyways. But by the universe.
Quitting only a bit unceremoniously, she totaled up all of her savings-not a penny of it from her parents-and managed to pay for collage tuition. It involved some forging (documents of course, not money) and more than a bit of catching up, but she figured that people wouldn't stop looking down on her until she had the credentials to match her street smarts, no matter where she went. Oh, what she wouldn't give for psychic paper.
Rose realized another way that she was like the Doctor while she was at University; she liked helping people. It didn't matter so much what the job was (she became quite the odd-job Jane while she stubbornly paid for the rest of her bills), and she hadn't grown so selfless as to deny payment and gratitude, but seeing that she made a difference made even the worst of plumbing jobs worth it.
It was a fresh start after that. Fresh out of school; a diploma in hand that still smelled of fresh ink, a work ethic that tended to impress, a name that made things happen, wisdom far beyond her years, and a heart that was finally starting to heal. Of course, the years hadn't been as easy as they sounded when she told the story; it was nearly six months before she even dragged herself out of bed to apply for Torchwood, and after that it was still a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. At the beginning, it wasn't rare for her to just decide not to, and Torchwood put up with it for the fact that she was always there when they needed her. The words "it's an emergency" or the even shorter "alien invasion" always had her bolt awake and putting a coat on over her pajamas. You could call her an adrenaline junkie, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong.
Her work and sleeping schedule had since evened out, and despite the fact that she didn't always have a personality left when no one was looking, she just pretended that this strange new world was the universe and tried to spread her wings. When she finally managed to stop calling Harriet Jones the Prime Minister, she almost missed the half-panicked moment spent fumbling to explain. It had never been as big of a problem as it should have been; she was used to covering up unwitting slips of the tongue and idiotic anachronisms. Which made the tendency to need to do just that nothing but routine.
Britain, at the very least (the People's Republic of Britain) grew to be the strange sort of sometimes-home she always needed to come back to. And, after some more scattered odd-jobbing and more than her fair share of jiggery-pokery, she finally found herself a job that let her travel away from it.
In her original universe, Britain hadn't even managed to form themselves a space agency (well, not until 2010, as the Doctor had later explained in the background of a hundred kilometer-per-hour history lesson). On the other side of the void, however, the British Presidential Space Agency had overtaken both NASA and the Soviet Space Program in the initial race to put a man on the moon. The BPSA now found itself in a position of power, and in need of one Rose Tyler. They'd practically made up an entirely new position to have her in the ranks after a heavily edited version of her life story had been confirmed. The twenty-first century, especially without the Doctor around to cover things up, was heralding a transition of thought in the department of aliens.
Life was going pretty fantastically (it only hurt a little now to say the word, and it just fit too well sometimes to pass up), but that didn't mean that she didn't have her hard days. Christmas was one of them.
Which brings us back to our initial dilemma; Rose Tyler, bored out of her mind and glaring at a too-perfect real pine Christmas tree, stuck in London until the holidays were over. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy spending time with her family; she had been ecstatic to see her now-eight-year-old little brother when she'd first arrived, along with both of her parents. Despite the lingering awkwardness that she doubted could ever be completely banished, Pete managed to feel at least like a surrogate father most days. At any rate, she was always happy to see the man who was her little brother's father.
Despite the fact that she'd still been earth-bound, she'd gotten too used to traveling again. She was itching to move, and the thick air of Christmas around her wasn't helping. If anything, it was chafing.
Her best Christmases had been supernatural; filled with aliens and adrenaline and her impossible Time Lord of a man. They were always hard for her to stay put for; Christmas trees and Santa mannequins still made her wary. Almost exclusively for her little brother, she put up with them, but she was tired of things being so quiet. Why couldn't any aliens ever decide to attack on Christmas? It's not like they celebrated it; she should know. The earth's years weren't the same as the intergalactic standard, anyways, so they wouldn't know to call a truce the same time every year.
If her mother could hear her thoughts, then she'd just shake her head and mutter about how much like the Doctor she'd become. She wouldn't bother denying it anymore. Rose had long since come to terms with it, and there wasn't any reason to lie to herself and everyone else about it when they all knew it was true.
Finally, Mickey made it through the front door with his girlfriend, and the two shook the snow off of their boots. (Snow, in London. On Christmas. Can you believe that?) Present-opening was allowed to commence, and that it did. With every increasingly-elaborate present she opened, Rose still had to struggle not to wish that one would be bigger on the inside, or jump up and attack her, or at the very least have some psychic paper. With years of practice, she looked sincerely grateful, and maybe she even felt a little of it, but from the looks that Mickey kept trying to pretend he wasn't sending her, he could see through her. While the two had drifted apart a bit, he was still the closest thing she had to a best friend, and still knew her entirely too well for her own good.
It was when she sat starting at the elaborately-wrapped present on her lap, close to turning it into a sonic screwdriver by the force of will alone, that a Christmas miracle finally struck, heralded by a scream.
Rose was immediately on her feet, at the window more quickly than she had remembered herself able to move, and Mickey had stopped mid-laugh. He was now behind her, one hand on his gun. Out of habit, Rose's fingers followed the chain around her neck to the end as her eyes professionally scanned the streets beyond their massive front lawn. All her fingers found was a lump of cold, unfeeling metal, but she didn't have the time to care. It was tucked back inside her shirt, and with a few half-shouted instructions over her shoulder as she raced for the nearest door, Mickey close behind her. She remembered telling him to put the stupid gun away before starting to scan the channels on her radio until… bingo.
Now with a street name to remember, she returned the radio to its normal encrypted channel, feet moving twice as fast. Mickey was quickly falling behind, but in her adrenaline rush, she couldn't care. Only pausing to don a winter-worthy coat and gloves and grab a bag and a scarf, she ran straight out of the house, reviewing the details she'd heard in the short radio broadcast. Scarf trailing behind her, she booked it for Left Street.
Strange name for a street, really, but that wasn't the point. If what she'd heard was true and not just hype, it was currently the site of an all-too-rare public alien invasion. The short snatch of description matched at least fifteen alien species she'd dealt with since coming to this universe, and a few hundred she'd run into in her old one.
She tried not to smile at the chaos upon arrival, pulling a slightly-alien set of binoculars out of her pocket. It wasn't long before she found a spot she could seamlessly fit into, never even needing one explanation of who she was or why she was there. Things tended to be like that when people panicked; they'll take whatever help they can get. It was a lot like the old days, and despite the eminent danger, she couldn't help but enjoy that.
Once they'd managed to get all the civilians off the street and she'd finally started flashing credentials-some real, some forged-and making calls to higher-ups, she heard the voice of an angel over the gruff, impatient voice of some Torchwood official or other. Some blessed soul was pulling the rank card-which he didn't really have; she would know if he did-and telling the thickheaded UNIT commander to put his gun away for the fiftieth time.
After a few more empty platitudes from her correspondent, she shouted some infuriated nonsense about how he didn't understand and she didn't have time for idiots, closing the phone. With a sigh more for composure than anything, she looked up to see the commander still refusing to put the gun away. "Oi!" She shouted, though she hardly needed to. The confused and somewhat lost 'invaders' were camped out on the side of the street with its back to a lake, and all of the people dealing with the situation were in the half-destroyed stores lining the other side of the street, as it had become more of a waiting game than anything. So it had calmed down enough that she was close enough to say it, but yelling drew attention and made a point of it. "Yeah, you. How many times am I gonna have to tell you to put that bloody thing away? I just might take it if I see it again, and don't think that I won't!" Blushing, he finally put it away. From the expression on his face, it seemed like it would be there for another fifteen minutes, at least. Which gave her fifteen minutes to contemplate other things.
"Thanks," she said absentmindedly to whatever soul had stepped in to help before she really looked at him. When she finally saw him, she couldn't help but smile a little. His face and his voice were completely unfamiliar to her, and she wouldn't have given him a second glance if it weren't for the strange set of coincidences. The savior-of-the-moment was in a leather jacket. A laugh made it past her lips more because she needed to than anything. "Rose Tyler. With the BPSA."
"BPSA?" he asked, somewhat incredulous. "Aren't aliens a bit head-in-the-clouds for them?"
Biting her lip to hold back a smile because the whole thing was just too crazy, she shook her head. "No. Not head in the clouds; we've all got our heads permanently stuck among the stars. Which puts this right up our alley."
"Works for me," the man said after a moment, sticking out his hand for a shake. Rose took it with a smile, looking into his green eyes and seeing an understanding there that she hadn't in a while. This man wasn't just putting up with her for her talents, or laughing as she ran around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to do the right thing. He wasn't pitying her or even trying to help her because he thought she needed it. He was on her side. Genuinely, completely on her side. And that felt good. "Christopher Andrews," he said right before they dropped their hands. "And I'm… a freelancer, I guess you'd call me."
"Oh, how I miss those days," Rose said wistfully before glancing back out to the street. "Now, let's see how much actual work we can get done before these dogs start to get itchy trigger fingers again."
And, as they set out to work, she thanked God or Santa or the Doctor or the Universe for the Christmas present. Nine years of wishing had finally paid off. So it wasn't her fairytale happy ending. She was Rose Tyler, and she'd long since learned that the Universe didn't give out many of those. She'd take what she could get, and gladly if this was it.