Christmas Ghost Stories
Chapter One: There'll be parties for hosting
AN: Welcome to this year’s Christmas Special. I seem to have officially settled on making them their own stories so we’ll stick to that format from here on out. This year I didn’t even need to pause my normal season. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the episode and have a lovely holiday, whatever you celebrate this time of year.
Bannerman Road was a lovely road in the Ealing district of London. The houses were all made of solid red brick and most dated back to the 1970s. One Doctor Lavinia Smith had owned number 13 before being passed on to her niece Sarah Jane Smith when Lavinia had moved into the country. Nothing on the outside of the house gave away how odd its inhabitants were. Across the road was the Tyler house which was surrounded by an impressive garden that was covered against the snow. Christmas decorations lined the windows and doors of both houses and Christmas music could be heard coming from the Tyler house.
Sarah Jane’s kitchen had a fairly open design. The island in the center provided plenty of counter space without cramping the walking area too badly. On the fridge were a collection of photographs of Luke and Skye with their parents and a few colored pencil drawings that were actually very good. It was unbearably domestic, and the Doctor wanted to escape.
Unfortunately, there were far too many he cared about involved. Accidently or not so accidentally hurting the feelings of one of the people involved while grating was doable. Hurting Sarah Jane’s, Rose’s, Barbara’s, Ian’s, Liz’s, and Alistair’s feelings all at once was right out. Well, maybe not Alistair, the old boy would probably understand. Rose would too, but she’d be disappointed.
So he kept slicing the blocks of cheese into cubes like Sarah Jane had told him to. It was a good thing that the Monk couldn’t see him now. The Master would likely despair if he were still alive at how deep the humans had gotten their claws into him. Holding back a smile, the Doctor was surprised that the imagined reactions were amusing rather than painful. Footfalls made him look up. Skye Smith came rushing into the kitchen and all but vaulted up onto one of the stools along the island.
“Hi, Doctor,” she said. “Rose banished me.”
“Did she? I thought she was telling you about Rome?”
“She was,” Skye agreed. “I think its neat that they painted the statues. Gran had told me that before on one of our trips to the museum, but I bet it was neat to see in the past.”
“It was,” the Doctor agreed. “Rome was very colourful.”
“It sounded like fun, well most of it, not the part where you were in the gladiator ring,” Skye said. “Or Rose being turned into a statue of Athena.”
“Minerva,” the Doctor corrected automatically. “But close.”
“Well, I think Rose as a goddess of wisdom was a good choice,” Skye said. “Though the Goddess of Luck and Fortune isn’t bad either. She always seems lucky to me. I still think it’s neat that you made the statue of Rose to close that time loop,” Skye said. She shifted around some of the biscuits on the trap next to him with a little smile on her face that didn’t bode well. He knew that smile. It was Sarah Jane’s pleased and gloating smile. “It’s sweet.”
“It was necessary to prevent a paradox since you found the statue of Fortuna,” the Doctor said. “And it kept Mickey from killing me.”
“Yeah, but you said that the artist was ‘enamored’ with her.” Skye made little quotes with her fingers and smiled.
The Doctor grimaced at the reminder. When they’d found the statue, he’d been a bit put out at the idea of some sculptor capturing Rose like that and had run his mouth. Skye’s little smile only twisted the knife, and he could feel his face heating up.
“Don’t you need to go and help your mother?” the Doctor asked.
“Nope,” Skye said. She leaned back a little, still smiling. “I’m not allowed by the Christmas lights. I get too excited and make them short out.”
The Doctor was very grateful for the change in conversation. “Still having problems with that?”
“Not much,” Skye said. “I only produce electrical signals when I’m either really happy, excited or upset. Spock is even willing to come out when I’m close by. Luke’s been studying it.” Skye wrinkled up her nose a little. “Not in a bad way of course. My brother wouldn’t hurt me, but last month we went out to the field, and Rani and Clyde helped him set up a bunch of sensors. Clyde made me laugh, and Rani told me sad stories.” Skye frowned and looked downcast. “I didn’t like the sad stories so once Luke got his readings Clyde made them happy stories again.”
“Sorry to hear that you had to get sad, but it’s for the best that you understand your abilities,” the Doctor said. “It’s in your DNA, probably part of your brain’s quantum field.”
“That’s what Luke thinks,” Skye agreed. “Clyde says its too bad that I can’t control it better or use it to control electricity. Then I could be a superhero.”
The Doctor chuckled. Skye was a little sponge, absorbing all the pop culture around her. “You’d make a lot of enemies messing with people’s phones.”
“That’s what Rani said!” Skye shrugged and stole a piece of cheese. “And I’m busy with school. I’m doing pretty good, but I get confused sometimes about things. I don’t have Luke’s memory for memorizing everything.”
“Skye, sweetheart,” Sarah Jane said. “Please go and finish tidying up the dining room. I think it needs some dusting.”
Skye smiled at her mother and jumped off the stool. As she vanished, the Doctor exhaled. He’d had a gob in other bodies, but he was sure that he had never and never would be able to talk at the rapid pace that Skye did.
“She’s a bit excited,” Sarah Jane said. “Skye loves Christmas and last year… well with the gas it was more stressful than I wanted.” She inspected the cheese. “Thank you, Doctor. That’s perfect.” She gave him a teasing smile.
“Why am I here?” the Doctor groaned. “I should be in the TARDIS.”
Sarah Jane just laughed at him. Honestly, was no one on his side. “You felt bad because when you brought Rose here last week Skye had discovered a statue that looked just like her and you two promptly took off on another adventure. You’re lucky that Jackie didn’t cause a regeneration.”
“Yes, that’s why we came right back,” the Doctor said. “I meant your house. What am I doing in your kitchen.” He looked down at his hands and groaned. “Slicing cheese!”
“Because Luke is helping Johnny put up the last of the lights and I don’t quite trust Skye to concentrate on using a knife for that long just yet. Rose is running a check on Spock, Rani and Clyde are with their families, and Barbara and Ian ran out to do some last minute shopping. That left you to help me.”
He stared at her as Sarah Jane took down some glasses with a soft smile. She was very happy, but that didn’t stop the frantic inch telling him to get back to the TARDIS. “Besides, you can hide in the TARDIS from Jackie’s party tonight. But I warn you, Doctor, I will expect you at dinner tomorrow.”
“I don’t do this, Sarah,” the Doctor said. “You know that.”
“And yet you agreed when Rose did.” Sarah Jane smiled at him, reaching over and touching his shoulder. There was that pleased ‘I know something you don’t smile’ of hers. “And honestly between the two options of my dinner or Jackie’s party, I think you made the right call. Jackie’s party tends to… well, it’s a bit legendary now. The only reason she doesn’t get noise complaints is that everyone attends.”
“Rose has said that the police used to be called all the time at the Powell Estates,” the Doctor said. “We’ll be cleaning up all morning!”
“Yes, but Jackie will be in no shape to do it.” Sarah Jane laughed. “I’m oddly fond of that woman, but she was Gita together are a bit frightening sometimes. I expect rather horrible hangovers in their futures.”
“I can’t believe she’s Rose’s mother,” he grumbled.
“Jackie is a good person. A bit overbearing sometimes, but given the knack for trouble that Luke and Skye have, I find myself understanding. I can’t imagine what raising a child like Rose must have been like.”
The Doctor found himself smiling, remembering just how much trouble Rose was as a child. She still found trouble easily, but at least she was better at getting herself out of trouble now. Chuckling, he shook his head fondly.
“Fair point,” he conceded. “So being a mum? It seems to suit you.”
Sarah Jane rewarded him with a bright and happy smile that wrapped around his hearts. Suddenly the kitchen wasn’t so small and confining. She nodded a little and glanced at her fridge where the photos were.
“It’s nice,” Sarah Jane agreed. “Luke and Skye have bonded, I have Johnny, and my career is going well. Even when the children cause a bit of trouble, I’m still grateful for them.” Sarah Jane picked up her tea and took a sip. “What about things with you and Rose?”
“Me and Rose?” the Doctor asked. His eyes widened, and his mind spun in a thousand different directions.
“How are things with you?” Sarah Jane asked, a touch too innocent. “The pair of you seem to work well together; I hope things on the TARDIS are comfortable.”
“Oh, yes,” he said. “That’s fine. She’s good company. Though she can be a bit bossy about meals.”
“You needed that,” Sarah Jane replied. “You were a bit too skinny.” Nodding at him, she smiled a little. “You look healthier now, superior Time Lord physiology or not.”
He was rescued from the far too personal conversation by someone coming down the stairs. Then Rose came through the doorway, looking a bit tired, but pleased. Rose’s hair was a bit of a mess, piled up on the top of her head in a bun with hints of dust and maybe a bit of grease. Her skin was flushed with a bit of sweat, but she looked happy. Grinning at them both, she went to the sink and rinsed off her hands.
“Didn’t want to dirty your towels,” Rose explained quickly. She reached for the paper towels. “Everything looks good. I don’t see any problems.”
“Thank you for taking a look,” Sarah Jane said. “Luke’s made a point of studying Spock’s systems, but you did build it. I think Spock is more at ease knowing you checked everything over.”
“Not a problem,” Rose said. Leaning against the counter, she dried off her hands and then cleaned her face using the wet paper towels. “Honestly, when I stop to think about it, I’m a bit in awe that I managed to build that interface.”
“It is impressive,” the Doctor agreed. “You did a great job.”
Rose glowed at the praise, a faint blush on her cheeks and she nodded. “Thanks for bringing us back for Christmas.”
“He landed too early,” Sarah Jane said. “And then you two ran off to Rome.”
“It was your daughter’s fault,” the Doctor protested. “We needed to find out what was up with that statue.”
Sarah Jane shook her head fondly. “I’ll be honest, that is one of the stranger stories you’ve ever told us.”
“It was a strange one,” the Doctor agreed.
“A bit,” Rose said. “But I doubt it will be the strangest thing ever.” She looked to Sarah Jane. “What about you? The kids said that you recently had an adventure of your own.”
“It wasn’t anything too serious,” Sarah Jane assured them. “But, you’ll like this: apparently, a blog about aliens has recognized that this area sees a lot of activity.”
“Uh, that’s not really a good thing, Sarah Jane,” Rose said.
“No, but they’ve nicknamed it the Ealing Triangle,” Sarah Jane said. She laughed and shook her head fondly. “And don’t worry, Spock is keeping an eye on it.”
“Still, can’t imagine that Kate is happy with that.”
“Actually when I told Kate her response was that it was probably better that those interested are watching Ealing rather than UNIT.”
“Again, not sure that I like that,” Rose said.
“I agree,” the Doctor said.
“UNIT is aware and will step in if necessary,” Sarah Jane assured them. “You can both calm down a little.” She rolled her eyes fondly.
Then Rose heard someone shouting her name. Sarah Jane frowned at the noise and Rose headed for the front door. Falling into step with her, the Doctor grimaced as he released it was Jackie’s voice right before the woman threw open Sarah Jane’s front door. Jackie was dressed in one of her, and the Doctor inwardly groaned at the onslaught of pink.
“Rose!” Jackie looked right at her daughter, waving her phone around. “Rose! Phone for you!” The Doctor tensed as Jackie glanced at him. She didn’t scowl, thankfully, and passed him by. “Rose! It’s the Prime Minister!”
Rose smiled at her mother, the calm and patient expression on her face a perfect foil to her mother’s frantic and eager expression. Jackie waved the phone in her face, and Rose nodded her understanding.
“Who’s the Prime Minister?” Rose asked quickly as she took the phone.
“Harriet Jones!” Jackie huffed. Crossing her arms, she gave Rose a disdainful look. “Honestly!”
“I don’t live here anymore,” Rose said. Then before her mother could say anything more, she brought the phone to her ear. “Hello, Harriet.”
“Who’s the Prime Minister,” Jackie muttered. Then to the Doctor’s horror, she stomped towards him. “Can’t you bring her by when there isn’t trouble?”
“I didn’t know,” the Doctor defended quickly. “Besides, the TARDIS prefers to go where I’m needed.”
“Where you’re needed? You make it sound like it’s alive.”
“She is,” the Doctor said. He wanted to get along with Jackie for Rose’s sake, but if she started going off on the TARDIS, it was going to be difficult. “Adores Rose.”
That seemed to cheer Jackie up for some reason. The woman beamed with satisfaction and nodded to herself as if it was the most natural thing for the TARDIS to adore her daughter. She was a strange woman; the Doctor did not understand how Jackie could complain about aliens one second and then be pleased because an alien ship liked her daughter. Rose said that she was trying to be more accepting, but she still seemed to hate him.
“Well, at least it’s got good taste then.” Jackie scowled a little again. “How’d the poor thing wind up with you?”
“I stole her,” the Doctor answered before he thought better of it. When Jackie opened her mouth, he quickly added. “She let me. The TARDIS had been decommissioned and was just going to rot. She let me inside, and we’ve been together since.”
“Doctor,” Rose interrupted. “There’s trouble in York. Apparently, Benton called it in himself.”
“Benton… that’s right; he’s retired to York now.”
“Yes,” Rose said. “He is, but something strange has been happening up there the past few days. Harriet isn’t sure they can keep people from panicking if it gets worse.”
“Christmas again!” Jackie shrieked. “Why is it always Christmas? Wasn’t the sky being poisoned last year enough? Honestly, it wasn’t like this when I was growing up.”
“That you know of,” the Doctor couldn’t help but say. Jackie tensed and glared at him, torn between horror and disbelief. “What’s the trouble?”
“Something about strange people appearing and disappearing,” Rose answered. “It started last week and is getting worse and worse.”
“People appearing and disappearing,” the Doctor said. He was trying not to grin too widely in front of Jackie. “Human-looking?”
“That’s what she said,” Rose agreed. “She was smiling a little herself. They’re calling them ghosts.”
“Christmas ghosts,” the Doctor said cheerfully. “Fantastic!”