Title - The Day Before Christmas (1/1)
Author - earlgreytea68
Rating - General
Characters - Ten, Rose, Jackie, OCs
Spoilers - None
Disclaimer - I don't own them and I don't make money off of them, but I don't like to dwell on that, so let's move on. (Except for the kids. They're all mine.)
Summary - Rose's first Christmas back.
Author's Notes - nickelsandcoats gave me a choice of prompts in response to this meme. I went with the day before "The Night Before Christmas." The original story can be read here.
THANK YOU to jlrpuck for another quickfire beta. She rocks beyond belief.
The gorgeous icon was created by swankkat</lj>for me, commissioned by jlrpuck</lj>for my birthday.
They were trying to resume all of their traditions, and as a consequence they went to her mum’s for Christmas as they always did. As she always did, Jackie waited until their arrival to put up the tree, and they went together, as a cohesive family unit, to choose a tree in a brisk cold snap that had descended upon London. The selection wasn’t huge, on Christmas Eve Day, and on previous Christmases Jackie might have complained about their lack of timeliness, but there was no complaining on this Christmas. Every tree looked perfect to their eyes, and they settled on one which they then decked with a great deal of enthusiasm. The Doctor, as he tended to, held Fortuna and guided her in placing ornaments over the tree, while the other two kids clung to Rose, and Rose told them the traditional Christmas story of the time Dad had been sick and she and Grandma had almost been killed by a Christmas tree.
And then, after the tree was decked, Jackie made them all hot chocolate and then said, jovially, her hand running fondly over the Time Lord hair on her grandchildren’s heads, “Tell me what you want from Father Christmas.”
Athena launched into her list, which was basically seventeen different types of dolls. Rose listened to it indulgently. The Doctor had already bought her all of these dolls, stuffing them into the secret TARDIS room where Father Christmas gifts were kept. Rose noticed that the Doctor had not complained about the silly humanness of having to play Father Christmas this year.
Fortuna took a bottle of iced tea out of her mouth long enough to say, “I want a doll, too. With pink hair. Like Theenie’s.”
Jackie smiled at her. “That’s wonderful, luv.” She turned to Brem. “And what about you? What do you want from Father Christmas?”
Brem put his mug of hot chocolate down, leaving a brown mustache along the top of his lip. And he shrugged. “Nothing.”
Jackie lifted her eyebrows. “Nothing?”
Brem shook his head.
Rose and the Doctor exchanged a look, and then Rose looked at her mother and shook her head a bit, to indicate that she shouldn’t pursue it.
“Well,” said Rose, brightly. “I bet I can guess what Madrid wants from Father Christmas.”
“A bone?” guessed Athena.
“A nose,” exclaimed Rose, grinning, and Athena burst into giggles at that idea.
“Come on,” said the Doctor, finishing his hot chocolate. “I think it’s time to get the Hyruspid garland out of the TARDIS, you know how Grandma loves having it around.”
Jackie frowned, because she actually hated the Hyruspid garland, which she considered weird and alien, but the Doctor and his children tramped out of the kitchen in search of it and Jackie sat at the kitchen table with Rose and looked at her.
“Is Brem okay?”
Rose looked at her hot chocolate and pushed a piece of hair behind her ear and smiled gamely. “Oh, he’s fine.”
“I don’t think you could have said that any less convincingly.”
Rose sighed and traced the tip of her finger along the rim of her mug. “I’m sure he’s fine, Mum. I mean, I’m sure he--” Rose was suddenly alarmed she was going to start crying and swiped at her eyes and finally looked at her mother. “What am I going to do? He’s as fine as I can make him. I don’t know what else to do. I mean, he…he’ll never be the same again, and I’ve tried everything I can think of to—“
“Rose,” her mother cut in, tenderly, and reached over to squeeze her hand. “It’s not your fault. You know that, right? You’re a wonderful mum. You’ve always been a wonderful mum. And you’re bloody strong, you and the Doctor both. Which means so’s Brem. You jus’ keep loving him, the way you love him, and he’ll be fine, yeah?”
Rose sniffled. “Yeah,” she agreed, trying to believe it.
“Now,” Jackie continued, briskly. “It’s Christmas. And you’re home, with your three beautiful, healthy children, and the man you love, and who loves you back.”
“And you,” said Rose, and leaned across suddenly to hug her mother tightly. “Thank you for coming back with me.”
“Rose—” Jackie began.
“No, I mean it,” Rose interrupted, fiercely. “What would I do without you?”
“You’d be fine, Rose,” Jackie promised her. “You really would be.”
“Well,” Rose allowed, after a second. “Maybe I would be, but the Doctor would be a disaster.”
Brem was in the library, kneeling by the coffee table, coloring and humming to himself--and in such a moment Rose, paused in the doorway, could almost believe that he was the still the normal, happy little boy she’d locked into the TARDIS nursery on that day so long ago, without bending down to say good-bye to him and give him a hug and a kiss and cuddle him and tell him how very much she loved him. Instead she had told him “shh,” cutting off a question he’d been trying to ask , and she had walked out and not seen him again for over a year.
“What are you drawing?” Rose asked him, cheerfully, walking into the library.
He looked up at her. “Something not pink,” he announced, definitively, and commenced coloring in his piece of paper with a great deal of gray.
Rose smiled and dropped a kiss on the top of his head as she moved past him to sit on the couch. “So,” she began, conversationally. “You’re sure you don’t want to write Father Christmas a letter? There’s still time, you know. Your dad can send letters to Father Christmas magically fast, get ‘em to him in an instant. And Father Christmas reads Gallifreyan.” Rose waited for Brem to respond. He’d refused to write a letter to Father Christmas for weeks now, even as Athena kept perfecting hers with additional types of dolls.
Brem shrugged and kept coloring, selecting now another colored pencil in another shade of gray.
Rose sighed and slid off the couch, to kneel next to Brem beside the coffee table. “Darling, I’m not sure Father Christmas is telepathic like you lot, so—”
“Mum.” Brem looked up at her in exasperation. “I don’t want anything for Christmas, okay? I don’t want anything.”
Rose stared at him in bewilderment. “But…Why? Brem.”
Brem swiped a bit more gray onto his piece of paper, then looked up at his mother. He scrunched up his face in thought, as he regarded her, and she watched him, perplexed as to what the revelation coming could possibly be. “I got you,” he admitted, finally, on a sigh.
“You what?” she asked, because, while true, it made little sense to her.
“I got you,” he repeated, his eyes huge as he looked at her. “And I promised, if I got you back, that I would never ask for anything else ever again—”
“Oh, Brem,” she cut him off. “That’s not—”
“It is,” he insisted, desperately. “It is. There’s nothing in the universe I want more than I wanted you back, and I promised—”
“Brem. Hey.” She placed her hands on his shoulders, hoping he would find it soothing. “That’s not how it works.”
“It is how it works, Mum! You don’t understand! If you make a deal like that, and you promise you’re not going to do something, you can’t then do it! It negates the deal!”
“I’m not leaving, Brem. Okay? I’m not leaving. I’m here now, and I’m not going to disappear because you ask Father Christmas to bring you a gift.”
“I got you,” he reiterated, stubbornly. “You’re my gift.”
Rose opened her arms, and Brem took the invitation, crawling into them, and she cradled him against her. “Listen to me. This deal you made, this is not a deal for you to make. That is the deal that Daddy and I made, that we got all of us back together and now we’re never asking for anything else ever again. We make that deal for you. Little boys don’t make deals like that. Little boys get gifts from Father Christmas. Father Christmas gets very sad when little boys don’t ask him for gifts.”
Brem was silent against her, then lifted his head. “Is that true?” he asked, suspiciously.
“You’re not making it up?”
“I’m not making it up.”
Brem thought. “I don’t want him to be sad. I mean, he has plenty of stuff to bring for Theenie.”
“This is true.”
“But he could possibly bring me a protractor. I mean, if he really wanted me to bring me something. If it was going to make him sad not to. I could use a protractor.”
She was going to make the Doctor run out and buy their son a protractor immediately, she thought. “You should write Father Christmas a letter, then. Quick, now, so Dad can get it to him.”
Brem squirmed off her lap, then turned back. “Are you sure? Because I don’t really want anything, and if you want something for Christmas then we can trade—”
“No. I really don’t want anything for Christmas. I got you. So go ahead, write your letter, and we’ll give it to Dad.”
Brem pulled a fresh sheet of paper over to him and began writing, Gallifreyan characters that were indecipherable to Rose. Rose thought she should leave him to it, but could do nothing but sit there and stare at him, this remarkable little boy she had, as he stuck his tongue out of his mouth in a concentrated mirror of his father and wrote.
When he was done, he folded the letter carefully and handed it across to her solemnly. “Is there enough time to get it to Father Christmas?”
“More than enough,” she promised him, and kissed the top of his head again as she left the library.
She found the Doctor in her mother’s living room, cross-legged on the floor, Fortuna on his lap, watching Athena play a board game with Jackie. “Can I steal you for a moment?” Rose asked him.
“Yeah,” he said, settling Fortuna on the floor as he picked himself up easily and followed her into the control room.
She handed him Brem’s letter wordlessly.
“What’s this?” he asked, taking it and pulling out his specs.
“Brem’s letter to Father Christmas.”
The Doctor, specs perched on his nose, paused before looking at the letter. “Really? He wrote one finally?”
“Do you know why he wouldn’t write one?”
The Doctor shook his head a bit.
“Because he had promised that he would never ask for anything else ever again if he got me back.”
The Doctor closed his eyes for a moment. “He did promise that,” he murmured.
“How could you let him do that?” she demanded, keeping her voice low in case Brem was eavesdropping, although she hoped the TARDIS would prevent that.
“What was I supposed to do, Rose? Tell him that there was nothing he could do to get you back, not even giving up every gift he might ever get in his life?”
“You could have made it sound better than that.”
“Yes, well, my sugarcoating ability was at low ebb during those days, shockingly enough.”
Rose wanted to point out that they had a little boy who had been willing to forego Christmas gifts just because he had a mum, and that every little boy should have the luxury of taking his mum entirely for granted, and that it was terrible that Brem had lost that. But what would be the point? The Doctor knew all that. Bemoaning the fact that Brem felt this way wouldn’t fix it. It had happened, and they needed to just deal with it, to get Brem back to the point where he did take her for granted. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
He ruffled his hair and looked down at Brem’s letter. Rose stepped toward him, leaning against him, and he lifted his arm up to hold her close.
“What does he ask for?” she asked him.
“Wellllll. A protractor. Lock-picking tools.”
“Lock-picking tools?” Rose exclaimed.
“And an accordion.”
“Bloody hell,” Rose sighed. “I hope you know where to get your son an accordion.”