Home for Christmas

Hey guys! Do you remember the Advent Calendar fic I did last year? Well this is gonna be the same thing but it needed a new name hehe! It's kinda based around spoilers for series seven (not that there's been that many hehe!)

Danny took a deep breath, one that filled his lungs with African air, a feeling he loved and would never tire off. As he exhaled, he opened his eyes, taking in the landscape around him. Leopards Den – his home. He sighed except it didn't feel like home, not now, not anymore. It wasn't the fact it was now all one lot along with Mara or even the intrusion of Ed Lynch and his not so controllable, highly frustrating wife Fiona, it was the fact his wife wasn't here. Alice, his beautiful wife was stuck in England whilst he tried to fix this mess. Charlotte was with her too... his step-daughter. A little girl he loved with every inch of his heart. He felt dire and somewhat familiar thoughts consume him. He'd been feeling like this a lot. Depression wasn't exactly his style but he pined for her; she was his wife; pregnant wife at that.

She'd been back to Africa. Two weeks after she left she accompanied Caroline and Olivia home and also brought Danny some other news. Leopard's Den was on the market. At first the family had been ecstatic cutting Alice's sentence off before she could end. Eventually she did end though and in ending her sentence she brought another piece of more devastating and complicated news. Leopards Den was for sale with Mara. It had halted the celebrations. Thankfully however, they met Ed and struck up a deal with him. This time it was Dup, Danny and Alice in partnership. That had meant the world to Danny and indeed Alice. That they shared part of the house. However, it hadn't been safe or indeed ready for Alice to stay. As much as it pained Danny to admit it, until the house was fixed and everything had tided over, she and Charlotte were better off in the UK. They had a baby to think about and Alice needed to be where she could be safe, out of danger and have instant, high quality medical attention. They'd agreed on one thing... Danny would fly out for the birth of the baby and stay with her if he didn't get Leopards Den sorted out first.

Since then the pair had been in constant communication. Phone calls every night via Georgina who almost always had to chaperone the pair as though they were a Prince and Princess coating each other for the first time – not in fact the married couple they were. Danny always looked forward to hearing her voice and she felt very much the same. Although she did miss him... as much as he missed her. She'd been so needy during her pregnancy; she'd loved having Danny close and catering to her every need but now... now she was going cold turkey and it was killing her.

Danny rolled his shoulders; they were so tense. He'd been working stupidly hard, trying to take his mind off the depressing thoughts that were eating at him. His life was a landslide; going downhill. The worst of it was over but now he had the excruciating climb all the way back up to the top. The place he was at when Alice was here. He shook his head and began to walk up to the house.

He frowned as he heard laughing coming from the living room; he decided to go and investigate. As he opened the door, the scene he saw shocked him into freezing and standing still. He could see the tree he and Alice bought last year fully decorated; even the star on top. Alice had chosen all of that. He could see all the decorations up and all the little teddies out and about. Rosie turned around and walked forward slightly.

"Dad?" Rosie asked as everyone stared at him. His face was blank; his eyes elsewhere with distance.

"No..." Danny murmured, "I..."

"I don't get it..." Ed spoke up, "It's Christmas decorations."

"That's the damn problem! None of you ever get it!" Danny shouted, he took a shaky breath and walked towards the tree touched it gently. He could see Alice's huge, beaming grin in his mind as she argued that this tree was the perfect height. "Alice always used to do the decorations. She loved Christmas. Always wanted to give you all an amazing Christmas... she's so selfless. She chose this tree." He was speaking so softly, Rosie and Liv felt tears spring to their eyes but worry plagued their minds. "We had so much fun putting it up... then she decorated the animal hospital. We had the best Christmas ever." Danny sighed before walking out of the room and straight into his own, locking the door.

"Dad!" Rosie shouted as she and Liv ran after him, both sighed as they heard the lock click before walking further down the hall. They glanced at the advent calendars on the walls. Her Dad's was untouched... Dup's day one and every other day's chocolate was gone.

"This isn't good Rosie." Liv commented, her voice quiet. "He's going crazy."

"I know..." Rosie murmured, "Look, we'll call Alice."

"What can she do?" Liv whispered, "She's the cure..."

"Exactly." Rosie shrugged. "Come on."

The girls went into the study and dialled in a familiar number. Both let out a sigh of relief as they heard a sultry and confident Scottish accent come over the loudspeaker. They'd not been looking forward to getting Georgina out of the way.

"Alice!" Rosie and Liv exclaimed together.

"Hey you two, everything ok?" Alice asked, a tone of delight evident.

"We're ok..." They murmured, "How's you and Charlie?"

"Surviving." Alice admitted, "Anyway... what's we're ok really mean. Is it Danny?"

"Alice we don't know what to do with him." Rosie sighed before remaining silent.

"Why what's he done?" Alice laughed, when she didn't hear any returning laugh she stopped. "What's wrong with him?"

"He's just... going weird Alice. We're worried about him. He's all quiet and withdrawn, working way too hard. Then earlier... with the Christmas tree..."

"How long has this been going on for?" Alice asked, sensing they'd been keeping this from her.

"Ages." Liv admitted, "It got better for a bit when Rosie came..."

"You should have just told me immediately!" Alice exclaimed, "I've probably not been helping matters... seriously, oh God."

"We didn't want to worry you..." Liv mumbled, her tone apologetic.

"No, no! I know you didn't..." Alice quickly covered, "It's just some of the things I've said to him won't have helped. Look, the best thing you can do is try and make things normal for him and give him a bit of light."

"We thought decorating might help..." Rosie admitted, "But it didn't... He just realised how much he missed you. You know, memories..."

"Just..." Alice was lost for words, what could she do to help the girls, to help them console her husband? "I don't know anymore... I don't know why I'm trying to offer advice except for that I love you all. But in reality, I miss him just as much and no matter what people do or say... it doesn't help."

"I get it." Rosie consoled Alice, she could hear the emotion and pain in her step-mothers voice. "I'm used to it."

"Still no advance with Max?" Alice asked softly.

"Nope." Rosie sighed, "But oh do I have some gossip for you about Liv and Thabo!"

"You wouldn't dare!" Liv shrieked paling as Rosie and Alice giggled mercilessly.

"Rosie... you HAVE to now!" Alice exclaimed.

The laughter rippled through them as Rosie began to spill gossip and Liv protested, trying to prove her innocence (which was non-existent). However, no matter how much they laughed, neither of the three parties felt any form of happiness... or Christmas feeling... they had a deep feeling that Christmas this year was going to suck!