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New Fic: Five Nights (Doctor Who)

Title: Five Nights
Author: Aenaria/io_aenaria
Character/Pairing: Ten/Rose, an OC
Rating: PG
Summary: Five Christmas Eves in the life of Rose Tyler and her son, Charlie. A prequel/sequel to Salva Nos.
Disclaimer: Not mine, but that's obvious by now.
Author's Notes: A belated Christmas offering, however I had to wait until I had a working computer... The story is also a prequel/sequel, I promise) to Salva Nos, an unabashed reunion story and kidfic (link available above), a little glimpse into their lives outside of that story. I hope you enjoy it, and have a fantastic New Year!



First Christmas Eve: A Cold Night

Rose stared out the window, taking in the cold and clear night with stars shining in the sky like someone had dropped a shaker of silver glitter on black velvet. The clock read 2:36 a.m., and finally, finally, Charles had settled down to go to sleep curled up tightly against her shoulder, a warm, mostly sweet smelling bundle of baby. Barely three months old and he could howl for hours on end with the best of them. “Just imagine when you start to talk,” she whispered against the fine brown hairs on his scalp. “We’ll never be able to keep you quiet then.”

She sighed and turned her gaze back out the window. The first Christmas on her own, without the Doctor, without her mum, and where was she? In a battered women’s shelter in Reykjavik lying about everything. She was in danger, yes, but it wasn’t from parents who didn’t approve of her pregnancy like she had told the people when she’d first arrived. Would they really understand why Torchwood wanted her anyway? They had been terribly kind to her though, giving her a place to stay while she waited for Charlie to be born and letting her stick around after in exchange for helping out around the place. Icelandic was a bit of a bugger to master, but she was a fast learner.

Rose wrapped a blanket around Charlie, protecting him from the night air. A cup of tea would be lovely right about now, maybe it’d help her get that much needed sleep new mothers were supposed to get while their babies napped.

There was another woman down in the kitchen who already had the kettle bubbling. Whether it was pure chance or she somehow knew Rose was coming, it didn’t matter. Rose accepted the cup of chamomile gratefully and wandered into the lounge where a Christmas tree had been set up. It was a simple sight, done up with a few strings of light, some plastic ornaments meant to mimic more delicate blown glass, and a bit of tinsel. Rose thought it was one of the best trees she’d ever seen. A stranger in a strange universe, but there were some things that were constant. She brushed a kiss against Charlie’s head. “Maybe someday for Christmas I’ll get you your daddy. He said it would be impossible for him to get through the void to this universe, but if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that sometimes the impossible is possible, if you just know where to look.” There was a little nagging voice in her head that whispered that maybe this time, impossible meant impossible and she should get on with her life, but Rose pushed it down, preferring to hope instead of giving up. In the meantime she would protect Charlie to the best of her abilities, making sure he had the best life possible.

Charlie snuffled softly and nuzzled against her neck. Rose just tightened her arm around her baby, sipped at her tea, and gazed at the glowing tree until she felt drowsy enough to get some dreamless sleep.


Third Christmas Eve: A Lost Night


It was only for a brief, terrifying few minutes, but on that Christmas Eve Charlie got lost. They were at a supermarket somewhere in a foreign land. Rose was attempting to get together enough small and inexpensive fixings for a Christmas feast the next day, and the sickly half Time Lord child, who while a bit weak in body was far too smart and inquisitive than any two year old should be, wandered off, following something shiny that sparked his curiosity.

In those few minutes, when Rose dealt with the store manager and the head of security in broken English, she could feel the panic and the rage rising up in her and the insane desire to rip apart anyone who dare harm her little boy. It was a fight for her to lock the feeling away, seal it up behind a heavy mental door that has all sorts of bars and locks on it. If it was Torchwood who had taken him, she’d really make them pay, that was a promise. Rose’s fingers convulsively clutched at the TARDIS key still in the place of honor around her neck, thinking that if the Doctor was here he’d be doing anything to get Charlie back as well.

Three minutes and forty-four seconds after she first lost sight of him an employee ran up to them, announcing that another associate had found Charlie in the bread aisle – climbing up the shelves to reach the marmalade, apparently.

That day, Rose discovered this:
“Every good mother is terrible
and God loves a good story.
A woman must learn this
at her own risk.”

For the next two months Rose never let Charlie out of her sight, resisting the urge to wrap him in cotton and shield him from everything.


Fifth Christmas Eve: An Inquisitive Night


Rose suspected that it was the warm weather that made this Christmas Eve so strange. Apparently it was par for the course in St. Peters burg, Florida though. The odd sight of fairy lights adorning a palm tree definitely gave her pause. She had to put any and all weird feelings aside though and focus on Charlie and his role in the nativity play his pre-school was doing. The nativity play wasn’t really Rose’s choice, however this was the only pre-school she could find in the area that had a program for the more advanced kids, and religion came as part and parcel of the school.

Rather appropriately Charlie had pulled the role of one of the three wise men. She couldn’t remember which one he was, but there was something right about her genius boy playing the role of a wise man who used the stars to guide his way. Rather just like…no, she couldn’t go there. She had to focus on the future and hope for the best, not sit and hope for a certain someone to show up and then be heartbroken when he didn’t. If it wasn’t for him though, she wouldn’t have Charlie. And Charlie could believe in the impossible for her now, on those many days when she felt like she couldn’t anymore.

Rose smiled as she watched Charlie place his offering of faux frankincense down in the cradle holding the stuffed doll playing baby Jesus. “Aren’t they just precious!” the mother next to Rose whispered as she snapped a picture, making her smile. For a moment Rose worried, thinking that they could be traced somehow through that snapshot, but the rational part of her brain (the part that knew just how many precautions had been taken to protect them) shot that down fairly quickly.

However, Rose’s smile faded fast when Charlie opened his mouth during a musical interlude of ‘Away in a Manger’. “I don’t get it,” Charlie blurted to the Wise Man next to him. “If Jesus was born the same time as the sheep, and sheeps are born in the spring, shouldn’t Jesus be born in the spring too instead of December?” An embarrassed titter went around the small hall, and Rose got a death glare from Charlie’s teacher and the priest standing next to her. Rose just smiled and waved. Who was she to stop her brilliant boy from asking questions? Okay, the timing might not have been great, but it was a valid query.

After the play, as Rose carried Charlie back to their car (the poor boy was wheezing again and more than a bit sleepy) she couldn’t help but be proud of him. She peeled the fake beard off of his face. “Why’d you say that? During the show, I mean.”

Charlie shrugged, tugging at the bathrobe that was serving as his Wise Man costume. “It didn’t make sense. Sheep aren’t born at Christmas time. Didn’t get a good answer though,” he pouted.

“Maybe they’ll explain it to you when you’re older?” Rose postulated, unlocking the car and buckling Charlie into his seat.

“That’s what Mrs Gonzalez said the first time I asked.” The frown on Charlie’s face said all he thought about that idea. He brightened suddenly, smiling up at his mum. “I liked the part about following the star. That was cool.”

Rose smiled at him, brushing some brown hair out of his eyes. “Yeah, your dad would have thought so too.”

As they drove off she couldn’t help but hum the tune to ‘We Three Kings’, taking up the words when Charlie started singing as well, rather loudly and just a tad off key.
‘Star of wonder,
Star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.’


Sixth Christmas Eve: A Night to Save Each Other


That Christmas Eve, everything changed. It should have been impossible, so utterly and totally impossible. Rose thought she really should stop saying that by now, but the thought died quickly as she sat on the floor of the TARDIS console room watching as the Doctor soothed the nightmare away from the sleeping bundle of boy in her arms. And even though she knew it was going to be a hard road for all of them to adapt to this new change, when the Doctor smiled up at her with that soft, wondering smile she knew that this was exactly where they were supposed to be.

‘Salva nos, stella maris, et regina celorum…’


Sixteenth Christmas: A Traditional Night


This particular Christmas Eve they were in London, and Rose kicked some fresh snow out of her way as she and Charlie walked along the street. It was real snow this time too, not ash or any other alien substance falling down onto them because a certain someone blew something up. She turned her face up to the snow, and feeling very immature and giddy stuck her tongue out to catch a few flakes. Charlie just groaned at that and moved a couple of steps away, pretending not to know her. It was all right though, he was fifteen; it was expected for him to be embarrassed by his mum.

Fifteen and growing like a bloody weed. He was already taller than she was, although he still had a couple of inches to go before he caught up with his father. He was also blessed with his father’s ability to eat enough for three people and still be skinny as a rake. The fedora hat he’d pulled on as protection from the snow (found somewhere buried under a pile of other things in the wardrobe) hid the spots that had a tendency to break out on his forehead. Rose grinned over at him. “Come on, Charlie, it’s Christmas Eve, you can at least pretend for tonight that I’m not a total stranger to you.”

Charlie rolled his eyes, but smiled shyly back and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Well, I think in the spirit of the holiday I can make an exception.”

(As embarrassed as Charlie was at times, they were his parents, so of course he loved them, even when his Dad accidently ends them up in jail on some backwater planet.)

“Thanks,” Rose said dryly. She then nodded up the street towards a small church that had its front doors open and had light spilling out of them and down onto the snow covered street. “Is that where we’re supposed to be going?”

“I think so. Is that St. Crispin’s?” Charlie asked.

This was their Christmas Eve tradition, just the two of them. Somewhere on Earth, didn’t matter what time period or what place, they’d find a Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve and attend, as if they were old soldiers gathering in remembrance on an anniversary. It was their way of reminding themselves of what had happened to them and how far they’d come. Every year the Doctor would bow out as well, muttering something about domestics. They all knew, however, that the night was just for Rose and Charlie, the two who had travelled through the void, so the domestic line was just that – a small excuse that was part of the ritual.

The two walked into the church and shook off the snow. The church wasn’t too crowded, but there was a good population there, from the very old to the very young. They took the booklets offered to them and found a pew, settling in on the end of the aisle. An organ played in the background, but the sound was drowned out as soon as the traditional processional hymn began. Rose settled back in her slightly uncomfortable seat (a wooden bench was never the most comfortable thing to park oneself upon) and let the music wash over her, knowing that Charlie was safe and right next to her.

The peaceful bubble was shattered by Charlie’s muttered comment during the second verse of the processional. “And here comes the alien baby Jesus.”

“Shh.”

“Well it does say that he came down from earth to heaven. And besides, I’m alien, at least on this planet. We’re allowed to make fun of our own.” He did shut up pretty quick though when the older lady in front of them shot him a very puzzled glance, and smiled and waved.

Rose sighed again, but this time bit back her own grin. Yep. Definitely his father’s son.

Charlie’s next comment came right after the first lesson that detailed the fall from Eden. Rose noticed that he was looking at her, and had that look in his eyes again, the same one that had landed him in trouble all the way back to the time of the nativity play in the parallel universe. He leaned over and began to whisper. “Is it just me or does it seem that Adam and Eve got a bit of a bad rap from God? I mean, he points out the tree and then says ‘Don’t Touch’ in big letters. It ain’t subtle, really. Why make people all inquisitive and then put some forbidden fruit where they can see it with a big neon finger flashing on and off saying ‘THIS IS IT!’?”

Rose paused briefly, pursing her lips in puzzlement. Then her eyes narrowed and she cocked her head. “How many times have you read that book now?”

Charlie coughed delicately and turned back to the front of the church. He scratched the back of his neck, tousling the longish hairs there. “Halfway through number ten now,” he muttered.

“Thought so,” Rose smirked.

A few lessons later a carol about a virtuous rose was sung, and both Rose and Charlie had to fight the giggles down as they watched the choir standing behind the altar sing the words out to them. Virtue was overrated anyway.

After the sixth lesson a song started that talked about Dancing Day. Rose’s mind flashed back at that to the first time she’d heard about dancing metaphors, oh so long ago. It was eye opening, that was for sure. And whose fault was that? As much as they jokingly blamed Jack, it wasn’t he that started it. Rose twisted in her seat and looked up at the empty choir loft behind them. Her eyes searched through the gloom until they landed on another expected set of eyes staring down at them. She quirked her lips just slightly and winked at him, seeing the answering flash in his eyes and his wink back.

That was the last part of the tradition. As much as the Doctor claimed this tradition was too domestic for him, every year he sneaks out after them and watches from some hidden place in the church. It was unspoken and unacknowledged, even though they all knew what he did each and every time. Maybe it was because a history of having disastrous things happen to him around Christmas, maybe it was because he just didn’t want to let them out of his sight, but no one knew for sure. Rose loved him all the more for it. A slow and soft grin spread across her face, promising that once they were home and Charlie was asleep they’d do some dancing of their own. Even through the gloom she could see his answering grin.

Rather suddenly the Doctor’s face clouded and he looked up towards the rafters, the sonic screwdriver coming out and beginning to flash. Rose frowned and followed his gaze, eyes widening when she saw the deep shadows up there bubbling and boiling in the darkness. ‘Figures’, she thought, ‘we’ve had a nice string of peaceful Christmas Eves, so of course something has to happen.’ The lights flickered rapidly and the speakers squealed, causing the choir to falter mid-song. Charlie looked over at her, the lights making strange patterns on his face, and she pointed up at the shadows. He rolled his eyes, and as one the two moved out of the pew, beginning to make their way to the loft where the Doctor was.

And although the crowd was muttering nervously and the priests were trying to get some order back as the lights kept flashing on and off, Rose smiled to herself, pushing Charlie ahead of her down the side aisle. Oh yes. She wouldn’t miss this for all the worlds.


The poem quoted in the second part is ‘Grendel’s Mother,’ by Dorothy Barresi. The Christmas Carols are public domain, and Charlie's little speech in the last part about Eden obviously isn't his; that belongs to Pratchett and Gaiman. Thanks for reading!

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
binah1013
Jan. 1st, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
I've enjoyed all the stories in this series. I'm glad to see they finally found the Doctor.
io_aenaria
Jan. 12th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Why thank you! :)
outforawalk
Jan. 2nd, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
Oh, yay! Charlie is one of the select fic children that I really like. I enjoy seeing how things were and how things are going to be. What a nice treat for the new year!

Edited at 2008-01-02 02:18 am (UTC)
io_aenaria
Jan. 12th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad you like Charlie! He's a treat to write, even as an angsty teenager. ;) Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment!
maniacalshen
Jan. 2nd, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Intriguing tale with a perfect ending. :)
io_aenaria
Jan. 12th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Am very glad you liked it. :) The ending was what kept the story going, because I so wanted to get there. *g* Thanks for the comment!
(Deleted comment)
io_aenaria
Jan. 12th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Why thank you! I'm glad you think the stories are lovely and that you like my writing style as well. :) I can only wish that the future we see on the show would be like this...
nyaaaaaauuuuuuu
Jan. 6th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
Yep. Definitely his father’s son. Hee hee hee.

I love that the Doctor excuses himself from the Christmas ritual due to 'domestics,' but he ends up going anyway. They all go to acknowledge the time Rose and Charlie weren't with him, but I think by watching them he sort of reaffirms to himself that he does have them right here, right now... :)

Of course, he's also very handy in surprise Christmas alien invasions. Good thing he was there.
io_aenaria
Jan. 12th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. As much as Charlie fights against it some times, the good Doctor has definitely rubbed off on him...

The domestics, as they all know, really is just a line. *g* You've nailed it on the head - he goes to watch from a distance because this is the time they remember that they were separated and the time spent apart, but he's not letting them out of his sight if he can help it. ;)

Handy, yes, but he's a bit disgruntled about the surprise alien invasion. He was promised a dance that night. ;)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )