AN: Written as part of a writers challenge for my dear friend "jodm" – whom I would like to thank for all she has done for me and to wish her a Merry Christmas.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the original characters, locations or canon information depicted in the series "The Streets of San Francisco". I'm just borrowing them for my pleasure and hopefully the enjoyment of others. Additionally, inspiration behind the voices/ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Christmas Yet To Come, as well as the title itself belongs to Charles Dickens.


Prologue

Bleary eyed, Mike fumbled for the clock on the bedside table. His head felt heavier than a watermelon and various parts of his muscles screamed in protest from sleeping in the same awkward position since his head hit the pillows four hours ago. Impatient at having to wait for his eyes to adjust, he rubbed them with his fingers frantically and caused sharp pains to prickle through them from the pressure. Wincing, he peered at the dial on his clock and cursed under his breath. He knew that even if he didn't shower and skipped breakfast he would still be late for work so he accepted the inevitable bitterly and climbed out of bed. Each movement felt like they were conducted in slow motion and the more he pushed himself to hurry along, the slower the process seemed to become.

Shaved, showered and dressed, Mike made his way down to the kitchen and sat himself at the small round dining table. He held a wad of tissues over a cut on his face he received when he shaved. His head now not only felt laden with a ton of bricks but it felt like he'd been pounded with them too after it collided heavily with the sink when he retrieved the towel he dropped.

"Morning! Your eggs and bacon are almost done. Pancakes should be ready soon," Jeannie Stone called out over the sizzle of the bacon frying to a crisp in the frying pan on the stove.

Jeannie's cooking was normally the highlight to Mike's mornings but today, the thought of greasy bacon made his stomach queasy. "Just some eggs will be fine."

"You know, Mike, you really should try to get home at a decent hour tonight. I heard your alarm this morning but didn't want to wake you," Jeannie said. She carried the fry pan to the table and dished out the eggs on to Mike's plate.

"You knew I slept in and you decided not to wake me, knowing full well I would be late for work?" Mike asked tersely. The question held a accusatory edge to it but he didn't care as he stabbed at his eggs with his fork.

"You're not looking after yourself by working these hours. I was worried about you."

"Well, you can stop mollycoddling me!" Mike snapped.

With her hands on her hips, Jeannie turned away from the kitchen sink to retort but bit her tongue and simply glared at her stubborn father who was shovelling his eggs in great haste into his mouth.

Apart from the routine requests to pass the milk or sugar, the two Stones spent yet another tension filled breakfast in silence before Mike gave Jeannie a quick peck on the cheek, thanked her for breakfast then left the house without waiting for her to bade him a good day at work.