charamei: Eighth Doctor (DW8: Eight)
[personal profile] charamei
Title: A Very Gallifreyan Occasion
Rating: PG
Genre: Utter fluff
Characters/Pairings: Eight, Romana, Bether (OC), various Time Lords, some supporting Daleks
Wordcount: 2192
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who; I'm just playing in the BBC's sandbox for fun and practice.
Author's Note: I genuinely wasn't expecting The Doctor's First Noel to spawn a series, but it looks like it has; I have Doctors lining up and jockeying for position to tell me their Christmas woes. In theory, there will be one for every Doctor, although this should be by far the most serious one.

Summary: In the middle of the Time War, the Doctor deals with falling morale by instituting an impromptu holiday.

[01] The Doctor's First Noel


Daleks couldn't move through snow.

The Doctor slid more than he ran through the blizzard, fingers so cold that he could scarcely feel Bether's hand in his, the crunch of her feet on the snow his only reassurance that she was still with him at all. Behind them, their enraged pursuer screamed its warcry, and a bolt of energy shot over Bether's shoulder, making her yelp.

"Bether?" he shouted.

"I'm fine," she called. "A bit close for comfort, that's all." A pause. "And we're supposed to be on oral silence until we get back to base."

"They know we're here. I doubt that staying silent will accomplish much." Another energy bolt, this one grazing the Doctor's hair. "On the other hand..."

Bether switched back to telepathy, reassuringly unconvinced by his arguments about oral communication. How can they see us so well? It's a blizzard. I can't even see your TARDIS, which, by the way, had better be -

"I know where the TARDIS is," the Doctor snapped. Behind them, two more Dalek voices joined the screaming. Backup. Just what they needed.

We're wearing white, and our core body temperatures are barely above freezing at the moment. How can they see us?

He knew the answer. Knew it, and had been rather hoping that it wouldn't come to this, but it was too late now. Get down, he said, and dived for the ground. Bether followed suit.

The Doctor shuffled himself around so he could see her, and said, quietly, "Take off your sash."

"My -?"

"Your green and extremely visible sash, yes." He pulled off his own as quickly as he could, stuffing the orange material into a pocket.

Bether hadn't survived this long by not adapting quickly, but this was a tricky one. The sashes weren't just for decoration; they were effectively dog-tags, colour-coded by Chapter, with name and House embroidered on them, as well as whatever else the soldier had seen fit to add sewn onto the hidden side. They had become, in the midst of the Time War, a symbol of everything Gallifrey was fighting for.

Bether hesitated, valuable seconds ticking past as she did. Six minutes. The Dalek base wasn't heated – why should it be? Six minutes to get in, plant the bomb, and get out before they froze to death. They were already down to one and a quarter, but he couldn't rush her.

She tugged it off and shoved it into a pocket, copying him. He nodded, and grabbed her hand again. Get separated in this and one of them would certainly die. "Now run."

They ran, and now the Daleks' shots were wider, less targeted. With ten seconds to spare, brains starting to shut down, hearts slowing, stumbling and slipping over the snow, they reached the TARDIS and piled inside. She'd had the good sense to turn the heating up, the Doctor noted appreciatively, and patted the console with thawing fingers as he grabbed the detonator, Bether going for the fast-return switch.

There was a moment of nothing but stillness on the scanner, and then the Dalek base went up, blossoming into fire, the snow all around it melting instantly. Job done. More Daleks dead.

"That was my last batch, too," the Doctor muttered. "Thanks, Ace."

Bether flipped the fast-return switch, and the TARDIS, for once, dematerialised without fuss. The scanner cleared, returning to its usual output of vital messages which the Doctor never bothered checking any more – they were all bad news – and relative times.

The Earth date caught his eye. 24/12.

"It's Christmas Eve," he said in surprise.

"Eh?"

No humans in the TARDIS for over seventy years. "Oh... never mind."

It was only a short hop, twenty miles or so. The TARDIS came to rest, and celebrated her success by blowing more warm air through the console room. Bether tugged her sash out of her pocket and put it back on, opened the door, and hesitated. "Are you coming?"

"Of course."

They had been entrenched on Arcadia for nearly five years now. The base was slowly maturing, becoming more roomy and less prone to teething troubles such as coffee in the drinking water, but it was still cramped unless you were inside a TARDIS.

Less cramped than it had been. That wasn't because the base was bigger, though; it was because their numbers were dwindling at an increasingly rapid rate. Today's raid would be the first success story from Arcadia in a long time.

As they walked into the refectory, and he saw the sheer surprise on everyone's faces, the Doctor realised just how long it had been, in fact, because even this success only achieved a momentary perk in the general mood of the room, before it descended into gloom again. One battle wouldn't win the war, just drag it out that little while longer.

Someone, he thought, had to do something soon, or they would lose this solely on the basis of morale. And the Doctor had never been inclined to believe that 'someone' was anyone other than him.

"Bether," he said, and turned on his heel, heading back to the TARDIS. "Come with me."

/\/\/\


They may be tired, despairing and war-weary, but they were still Time Lords. Stick a ginormous tree in the middle of the refectory without offering an explanation and you were guaranteed at least a polite intellectual curiosity.

The Doctor explained, briefly, which prompted more questions, and soon there was a full-scale theological debate going on, and the mood of the room had altered drastically.

They hadn't debated anything but tactics in years. They hadn't learned anything but death in years. Now, the dam had broken, and they were free to do what they did best; argue.

The Doctor, holding the star that topped the tree, stood in the middle of a maelstrom of ideas, references, theories and objections and polite disagreements that were in fact not polite at all, and smiled to himself. He hadn't been expecting it to be quite that easy.

"So do they call it off during wars or something?" Orsic asked him. "If it's about peace, it hardly seems appropriate to celebrate it during wartime."

The group within earshot of this exchange quieted to hear the answer, leading to one of those ripples of silence which can infect a room. The Doctor smiled.

"Oh, no. Quite the opposite, in fact. During one war – the First World War, a particularly bloody affair which I do not recommend visiting – the footsoldiers abandoned their fighting to celebrate Christmas. Even climbed out of their trenches and played ballgames with the opposing side."

The silence became more pensive.

"Doctor," Bether said carefully, "You're not expecting us to play ballgames with the Daleks, are you?"

"Of course not. They're terrible losers." This begot a ripple of laughter. The Doctor waggled the star. "But that's no reason why we can't take a day off, is it?"

They looked at one another. Then the agreements came, thick and fast.

The rest of the day was spent putting up decorations, arranging food, translating and transcribing carols, looking out crackers and preparing for a proper debating contest on the nature of Christmas, which generated almost as much debate as the event itself. By the time they turned in, the excitement was palpable.

The Doctor didn't bother to go to bed. It was hardly uncommon, but tonight he had a special reason; it was far easier to prepare Christmas dinner for three hundred Time Lords when you didn't have to keep stopping to give your aides recipe updates or explain which ingredients were which. Besides, he'd always liked raisins, although it was much less fun to snaffle them from himself.

He was just reaching for another handful, having satisfied himself that he wasn't paying attention, when Bether's voice said, "Aren't those supposed to go in... in whatever you're making?"

The Doctor turned, dripping pudding mix down his front in a rather ungainly moment. "I suppose they are."

"Then you'd better stop eating them, or there won't be any left." She stepped into the TARDIS kitchen, unhooked the apron behind the door and put it on. "What needs doing?"

"You should be in bed."

"So should you." She whipped the bowl of raisins away from him as he reached for it again. "Why don't I do that, and you can do something that you don't want to eat the ingredients for?"

"Well..." She did, he supposed, have a point. "All right. But it's a delicate operation. Don't mess it up."

"As if I would," Bether rejoined, and set to work.

They worked through the night and had, by five o'clock, managed to put together a spread that was, in the Doctor's opinion, equal to any he had seen before. It was as the dishes were quite noticeably not washing themselves that Bether, who was drying, glanced across at the Doctor and said, softly, "Oh, no. Doctor... your sash."

The Doctor glanced down at himself. There, just below the plate he was washing, was a very large and very dry glob of pudding mix, strikingly visible against Prydon orange.

"Oh," he said. "Blast."

Bether put her dishcloth down. "These will dry by evaporation. I don't even know why we're doing it by hand, unless you're going to tell me you haven't fixed the dishwasher yet." She held out her hand. "I'll run it through the laundry if you want to finish up here."

"Oh, no," the Doctor assured her. "It's quite all right. I'll do it next time I get a chance."

"Which will be in about two decades," she said drily. "By which point you will have appeared before the Inner Council at least once in it, and quite possibly the entire planet. The Daleks will start calling you the Oncoming Foodfight. Really, I don't mind. It'll only take a couple of minutes."

The Doctor hesitated, then, berating himself, slipped it off and handed it over. It was just a piece of material, after all.

She took it and disappeared, only to return the promised two minutes later with a rather strange look on her face. As she handed it back, the Doctor noticed that it was inside-out.

"It came out of the wash that way," she said quickly. "I didn't..." she stopped, and took a breath. "I couldn't read it. But I'm curious. What does it say?"

He put the plate back in the sink and motioned to her to join him at the kitchen table, then put it down in front of them. The words he'd sewn onto the inside were tiny; had to be, to account for the amount of them.

"It says: Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright, Vicki Pallister..."

/\/\/\


Christmas quickly took on a distinctly Gallifreyan air. Nobody had been able to find presents at such short notice, so the book rota was pulled out, and everyone passed their book onto the next person. Badly-pronounced English carols mingled with the Doctor's hastily-translated versions and the Hymn to Rassilon, all played on the harp, fluxsichord and Shobogan flute. The mistletoe was avoided as though it were carrying a plague, and when people did get caught under it, they apologised profusely and scurried off, horribly embarrassed. People swapped the paper hats from their crackers to get ones in Chapter colours and spent hours discussing the jokes, looking for hidden meanings. Dinner was accompanied by long discussions about the chemical makeup of the food and its nutritional value to a primitive culture in the middle of winter. The debate lasted well into the small hours of the morning, ultimately reaching the conclusion that humans were simply incomprehensible and nobody had any idea how the Doctor could put up with them.

Not one word was said all day about the war, or Daleks, or the fact that their future selves would be out there right now, pressing the advantage that they'd gained yesterday.

The Doctor found himself called away a little before the end by the TARDIS, which had received an urgent call. When he turned the scanner on, it was to find Romana looking up at him. Oh, dear, this could not be good.

"I heard you had a victory," she said. "Well done."

"Yes. We're going to press the advantage today, try and round up any that escaped. I doubt it's that many; there's a blizzard out there."

Romana took a moment to absorb this, then asked, "What are you doing at the moment, if not today's fighting?"

"We had a... morale problem. It seems to be resolved now." From the refectory, the strains of Mistletoe and Wine in quick-and-dirty Gallifreyan drifted into earshot. The Doctor winced.

The corners of Romana's mouth twitched. "I see."

"Anyway, you wanted something? I assume you didn't call me up just to say well done."

"Oh, yes," she said, and did smile this time. "Yes, there was something, as it happens."

"Oh?"

"Merry Christmas, Doctor."

/\/\/\

Date: 2008-12-12 03:53 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is so brilliant and heartbreaking.
I am very glad you decided to turn this into a series.

This is just so very Eight, and I love that. Especially the fact that he has all his companions names on his sash.

reaching the conclusion that humans were simply incomprehensible and nobody had any idea how the Doctor could put up with them - pretty much sums the Time Lords and their opinions of humans up in one go.

Really hoping to see more soon.

Date: 2008-12-12 10:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Lovely. I am glad your muse decided to turn this into a series.

Looking forward to more.

themolesmother (LJ)

Date: 2008-12-12 11:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charamei [journalfen.net]
[DWFic link, for my own review-whoring purposes (http://community.livejournal.com/dwfiction/1833836.html)]

Date: 2008-12-13 04:42 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh! This is fantastic. You have the Doctor down so well --
Someone, he thought, had to do something soon, or they would lose this solely on the basis of morale. And the Doctor had never been inclined to believe that 'someone' was anyone other than him.
-- perfect, just perfect. I like your OC and the war-weary Time Lords and the distinctly Time-Lord version of decompressing by arguing philosophy. Just wonderful, thanks so much!

eve11 on LJ (ps I got here through the who_daily lj comm)

Date: 2008-12-14 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hurrah for the Doctor and his corrupting influence on the other Time Lords! This was delightful. Glad you're writing more of these.

- torn_eledhwen (LJ)

Date: 2008-12-17 05:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Here via [journalfen.net profile] who_daily This was both sad and funny - I couldn't resist a smile of a throught of a base full of Time Lords trying to celebrate Christmas. At the same time it really drove home what must have been the emotional cost to those fighting the Time War. Beautifully written! I'll have to look out for more of your fic.

Date: 2010-11-10 04:05 am (UTC)
kesomon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kesomon
This really made me want to cry horribly, but as I was in the middle of class, I managed to restrain myself. So beautiful and achingly sad.

Date: 2015-01-02 06:09 am (UTC)
shyfoxling: glowing blue circles and hexagons on a dark blue background (doctor who (TARDIS scanner))
From: [personal profile] shyfoxling
This would have been a fun idea to expand into a Christmas special to see on TV (maybe with a bit more conflict in that case - but then, this is a light story, not a teleplay).

"The Oncoming Foodfight" XD I would not like to be in a food fight between Daleks and Time Lords! Sounds like a bad business.

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