Author's Notes: I do not own Doctor Who, the Doctor, Donna, Ianto or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Also, Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoy and let me know what you think. That would be festive.
Sylvia watched in dismay as the Doctor gave the reindeer every vegetable in the fridge. It turned out he didn't care for bananas, though, much to Zara's dismay.
"No, sweetheart, the problem is reindeer eat lichens," said the Doctor. He looked at Sylvia. "Didn't happen to pick up any lichens, did you?"
"I know a place for plankton," offered Ianto. "I would compare prices a bit, though. They really try to gouge you."
"How long are you going to keep this animal in the house?," asked Sylvia.
"Zara big doggie."
"And now she thinks it's a pet!," she said in even more frustration. "It's a wonder that my daughter even puts up with you. If only she hadn't run off Lance!"
"I keep telling you he tried to feed her to a giant spider. Why don't you listen?"
"She just wanted to make a nice Christmas for Zara and you go and ruin it with your... weirdness."
"Donna..." whined the Doctor.
"She's gone upstairs," said Ianto. "She said she was tired."
The Doctor found Donna upstairs in the bedroom in the dark.
This was never a good sign with humans. Particularly a Donna ramped up on pregnancy hormones.
"I'll be down in a minute," she said tightly.
"We're all downstairs. Your mum's made more biscuits. Oh, your grandad went out for more reindeer food."
"I'll be down in a minute."
The Doctor sat next to Donna on the bed. "But it's no fun without you."
"I'll be there in a minute."
"How am I supposed to have fun if you're up here crying?"
Donna let a sob go. "Christmas is ruined."
"Oh, no, it's not. How is Christmas ruined?"
Donna shook her head. "I just wanted to make it nice for her not so screwed up like the last one."
"What does she care? She wasn't even born yet. She was inside you, happy, safe, content with the best mummy in the universe."
"I am not the best mummy in the universe."
"I let her down."
"When have you ever let Zara down?"
Donna looked at the Doctor, her eyes were full of water, she was shaking. "The Time Beetle."
"The Time Beetle? What are you worried about that for? It's a collapsed universe, it's like a bad dream."
"You weren't there. You don't know what it was like. Every day, not knowing how I was going to be able to feed her or clothe her or take care of her-"
"Donna, it's okay. You weren't really there. I'm sorry the new baby woke up your memories of it, you shouldn't even remember it."
"Time Baby thing, right?"
"Right..." he said uncertainly.
"And I remember and Zara remembers everything."
The Doctor just waited for Donna's next question.
"Then why did you lie to me and say she couldn't?"
"I didn't know then and I didn't want you to worry about it. She doesn't remember it the way that you do."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, that no matter how scary her world was there, she looked up at you and knew she had her mummy."
"I was a worthless mummy there."
"Not to her. You were there when she woke up and went to bed, you saw that she got enough to eat and she knew you were giving her food off your own plate."
"But they took her away and I couldn't stop them."
"She knew you were going to find a way to get back to her and you did."
"I got lucky."
"Lucky is an under appreciated virtue."
Donna shook her head and buried it in the Doctor's shoulder. Then she looked up. "Wasn't it weird for her? You're born and walking and talking and all of a sudden you're a three month old fetus again?"
"She didn't mind. She sort of thought of it as a holiday." He paused. "Donna, Christmas is very nice and all- so I hear- but it's no substitute for love and certainly no substitute for the way you two love each other. You don't have anything to make up for."
The Doctor led Donna downstairs where the reindeer, Esther and Zara were watching the old American stop motion "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" special on telly. Ianto just looked on the spectacle in disbelief.
"This is too weird," said Donna.
"He insists on talking through the whole thing," said Ianto motioning at the reindeer who just then grunted.
"Mummy!," Zara said pointing at the TV. "Big Doggie on telly!"
"It's not him, Zara," said the Doctor.
"Well, don't tell her that," said Donna, getting down very carefully to sit next to Zara on the floor. "He's close enough."
"Why go to all the trouble to turn a reindeer into Rudolph?," asked Ianto. "The nose, the whole bit."
"He just thinks he's Rudolph," said the Doctor.
"He's got a fairly good case for it," said Donna. "If I looked like him, I would think I was Rudolph."
"Reindeer games!," shouted the Doctor.
"What?," asked Ianto.
"Donna, that's it! You are brilliant! Everyone get your coats! We're going to the Arctic!"
Ianto and Donna exchanged looks.
They stepped out of the TARDIS and into a real winter wonderland, not the one in Hyde Park. Snow capped mountains as far as the eye could see, an evergreen forest, the stars shining brightly above them and reindeer.
The Doctor led the reindeer out first. Donna held Zara as Ianto followed.
"What are we doing?," asked Donna.
"Taking him home," said the Doctor.
"Zara Big Doggie," said Zara.
The Doctor approached her. "I know, Zara, and he'll always be your reindeer, but he came to you for a reason. These reindeer are time sensitive. They look for other time sensitive creatures to help them and that's what you are, a Ginger Time Baby. He wanted you to help him get home."
"Red-nosed reindeer, though," said Ianto, "isn't he going to stick out a bit?"
Just then about five reindeer with blinking red noses looked up at them.
"He might blend in more than you think," said the Doctor.
"How?," asked Donna in amazement.
"I don't know. Maybe other refugees from the seventy first century? But how did they get here?"
Zara looked at the reindeer and up at Donna.
"Daddy's right," said Donna. "He's a wild animal, he ought to be out running free with his friends, not locked away."
Zara looked at the reindeer, it nuzzled up to her.
"Bye bye, big doggie," she said sadly as she patted it on the nose.
"That's my girl," said Donna. She gave the reindeer an affectionate pat.
The Doctor took off the reins and harness. He shouted, "On Rudolph!" and gave him a smack on the rear. The reindeer galloped off into the snowy night. Zara began to sob and Donna rubbed her back.
"Oh, Zara, don't cry," said the Doctor. "He's going to have a good life. All the reindeer will love him and let him play in their reindeer games, shouting out with glee. He'll go down in history."
Zara looked comforted by that while Donna shot the Doctor a glare.
"Doctor," said Ianto.
The Doctor and Donna looked and the reindeer were joined by even more reindeer wearing vortex manipulators.
"Big doggies," said Zara.
"Yeah," said the Doctor, "lots of big doggies."
Christmas morning. Donna, the Doctor and Ianto watched as Zara played in a sea of wrapping paper. They were meeting Sylvia and Wilf for dinner out later, having fed most of the ingredients for Christmas dinner to Zara's reindeer.
"Okay," said Donna watching the melee as Esther burrowed under the paper and Zara tried desperately to put a bow on her head, "I might have overdone it."
"Might have," said the Doctor. "Oh, look, Zara, there's still one more."
He pulled out a box Donna didn't recognize with gold paper withs holograms.
"What is that?," asked Donna.
"I don't know. Let's see."
The Doctor crawled over to Zara and helped her with the box. He took off the lid and she pulled out a reindeer with a red nose and a harness with a vortex manipulator.
"That isn't for real, is it?," asked Donna.
"Do I look mad, Donna?," asked the Doctor.
Donna looked at Ianto. They exchanged glances and looked back in unison and said, "Yes."
"It's not. It's just a toy."
"Did you make it yourself, Doctor?," asked Ianto.
"Yes. Seventy first century Build-A-Bear. This is some sort of promotional tie-in."
"When did you get that?," asked Donna.
"I do have a time machine, you know."
Just then, Father Christmas blinked in holding a sparkly red envelope. The Doctor put himself in front of Zara.
"Jesus!," said Ianto.
"Is there a Zara Smith Noble here?," asked Father Christmas.
Zara clapped her hands and moved out from behind the Doctor. "Zara!"
Father Christmas handed her the envelope. "You've been served."
Zara looked at the envelope perplexed.
"What do you mean she's been served?," asked Donna.
"Look, lady, I just deliver these. Happy Christmas," he said and blinked out.
"What is it?," asked Ianto.
The Doctor opened the envelope as Zara looked on eagerly.
"Zara's being sued."
"Sued for what?," asked Donna.
"Corporate theft, it says she reprogrammed the vortex manipulators on the reindeer."
"The other reindeer," said Ianto.
"But she's a baby," said Donna.
"Well, she hasn't done it yet," said the Doctor.
"How can you sue a baby for something she hasn't done yet?," asked Donna.
"Happens to me all the time," said the Doctor.
"Where Zara toy?," asked Zara.
"Oh," said the Doctor. "Well..."
"That wasn't the real Father Christmas, sweetheart," said Donna. "That was some rubbish impersonator. Father Christmas brought you your presents last night like he said we would when we met him at Harrod's."
"Okay." Zara went back to her toy.
The Doctor went back and sat next to Donna.
"I suppose we should frame it or something. Baby's first lawsuit," said Donna.
The Doctor grinned. "See? This Christmas hasn't been a disaster after all."
Donna shook her head. "Merry Christmas, Doctor."