Rating: All Ages
Pairings or Characters: The Doctor and Rose (Ten and Ten II both...kind of. It's tricky.), Wilfred Mott, Tony Tyler, others
Summary: Rose works for Henrik's. She needs a Santa, pronto. AU of Miracle on 34th Street...with a twist.
Author's Notes: Written for the Bad Wolf Rising Christmas Ficathon, but not typical BWR fare. Don't pitchfork me Gutterites. It's clean.
Part I | Part II
"'Scuse me, Miss Rose?"
Today was the day that Henrik's world-renown Christmas windows debuted, and Rose Tyler, while not in charge of the creative end of things, was the person who managed the logistics of the monumental task... and the last thing that Rose Tyler needed at that moment was friendly old man Mott wanting to chat her up about how he remembered his parents bringing him to see Henrik's Christmas windows when he was a wee lad in short trousers. She adored the man who had served as the store electrician for longer than she had been alive, really, she did. Today was simply...insane.
Rose squared her shoulders, clutched her clipboard to her chest and smiled, genuinely. "Hello, Wilf." She tapped her fingers against her brown clipboard, as if counting the seconds she could sacrifice for this conversation.
"Miss Rose, I think that there is something you need to know. Father Christmas is..." The gentleman stopped mid-sentence, leaned closer, and then continued in a whisper, "sloshed."
"What?" she asked skeptically. "No he's not," she said with an incredulous smile and toss of her hair. "I just spoke to him an hour ago, and he was fine."
The man straightened himself up and removed his stocking cap. "I'm telling you Missy, he's inebriated."
"Alright then, show me where he is." Gripping her clipboard in one hand, she threw her hands up in the air, and followed the slightly stooped man.
Wilfred and Rose wound through the backside of the store until Wilf halted, motioned broadly, and presented the scene to Rose.
Rose swore under her breath. "Excuse me, Wilf. I need to...I need to go. Thanks for telling me." Rose didn't bother with the lift, choosing instead to take the stairs two at a time to the fifth floor office level.
Rose Tyler burst into the cramped office she shared, pivoting around the doorframe, and nearly skidded to a stop. "We've got a condition mauve!"
"Keep your knickers on blondie!" said Jake Simmonds, the mind behind the creative window displays for which Henrik's was known internationally.
Rose closed her eyes and calmed herself, following Jake's example, clenching and unclenching her fists. She took one final breath and let it out slowly. "Davvy is drunk."
Jake swore colorfully. "I knew old man Davros was known to hit the local after work, but he's never shown up at work pissed."
Rose's jaw went slack as she looked up at the ceiling with her eyes squeezed shut. "Well today is the day he chose to start drinking before noon. I found him on the floor of the sleigh in the Santa window, with a bottle of White Lightning singing, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. If I'dve lit a match, I bet he'dve combusted," Rose shrieked before she flopped into an ancient vinyl office chair.
Jake swore again, even more colorfully this time than the first, and then stood up and paced nervously in front of the bank of windows looking down on the high street. "The crew from Good Morning London is going live in forty-five minutes. We need a proper Father Christmas. Quick. Or Mr. Henrik will have our heads."
"There's more..." Rose picked her fingernails.
"I saw that horrid Yvonne Hartman woman from Torchwood's Discount milling around the front of the store, waiting for the windows to be unveiled. I'm sure she's gonna just copy our displays. All of your hard work Jake, it isn't fair! They just...just steal our stuff every year!"
"Yeah, and her windows will look cheap knockoffs, just like the shoddy crap they sell, Rose. Hartman is the least of our worries. Back to the real problem. We need a new Santa."
"Where am I supposed to find a Father Christmas this morning? And get him into costume, and makeup and-"
"Well it ain't gonna happen with you sitting there whinging!" Even though his words were harsh, Jake was not an unkind person; however, he was hot headed. "In the meantime," he sighed, calming himself, "I'll go pour some coffee down that shriveled-up old coot's throat. Should've guessed this would've happened sooner or later."
Rose nodded, knowing the task was nearly hopeless, but not turning her back on what needed to be done. She wasn't called the Defender of Henrik's for nothing! She'd gotten them out of many sticky spots, and this was no different.
Rose let herself into her flat with a sigh. It had been a long, frustrating and exhausting, but ultimately, successful day. She still had her job, which for a while there, she thought she may have lost. She had found a Santa Claus, and he had been a smash hit. Who knew that Wilfred Mott would turn out to be the perfect Father Christmas? He was friendly, funny, kind and quick-witted. Children weren't afraid of him, parents trusted him because he wasn't creepy, and the presenters from Good Morning London had been utterly charmed by his on-screen banter, and his perfect Father Christmas persona.
It was, however, late and she was hungry and tired, and having a hard time deciding which need was more pressing: food or sleep.
"Hello Rita," she called as she hung up her long, black overcoat, and set her handbag on the entryway console table.
"Hello, dear," answered the older woman. Rita Smith watched Rose's little brother Tony from the time he arrived home from school, until Rose got home from work. She lived down the hall, and was the grandmother of Rose's ex-boyfriend, Mickey. "Tony's sleeping, but I had a hard time getting him to go to bed. He tried to convince me that now he has absolute proof that Santa is a fraud. His word, the little scamp."
"Really," Rose drawled, amused at her brother's vehement skepticism. "And what did he come up with this time?" Rose asked.
"He said that because you had a different Santa in the window than last year's Santa, that proved there was no Father Christmas. He predicted you'd come home and tell him that this new one was the real Santa, and because you had always told him that the old one was the real one…and well..." Mrs. Smith left the words hanging in the air as she caught movement out of the corner of her eye.
"There can't be two real Santas Rose. And furthermore," said Tony lisping the word through his top two missing teeth, "I don't believe that Santa is real at all." Tony's stance was firm: little arms crossed, proud chin tipped upward, brilliant blue eyes locked on her own. "Besides, we don't have a chimney. How does he get into our building, hmm? How does he deliver toys to the six point five two eight billion children on earth within one twenty-four hour period, hmm? Tell me that."
Rose sighed and ignored her brother, not wanting to engage the question at this hour, or at all, really. "What are you doing out of bed, and for that matter, what are you doing listening in on my conversation with Granny Rita?" Rose asked, eyebrows up. "That's very rude."
Tony stood in the doorway wearing his favorite all-in-one footed pajamas that zipped up the front. Brightly colored rockets, stars and planets stood out against the midnight blue fleece.
"There is no Santa, and this proves it," reiterated the boy. "But...he was a good one, Rose. Way better than that old drunk Davros bloke," he said with a roll of his eyes and hand wave, gestures he had picked up from his big sister. "And that glass eye of his reminds me of Mad Eye Moody." Little Tony pulled a face, also mimicking one of her often-used gestures.
Rose snorted a laugh in spite of herself. "Hang on, how'd you know about Davros being drunk?" she asked, to herself more than Tony. "Oh never mind. We'll talk about this tomorrow, Tony. Go back to bed, please. It's way past your bedtime, and you have an early morning, remember? You're gonna have to ride with me on the bus, 'cos Stella's mum can't give you a ride to school. They're going to Spain for the month," Rose said calmly. "I'll be in to tuck you in and say prayers in a mo, yeah?"
He protested mildly, but scurried off as instructed when Rose gave him the Tyler glare.
"He's such a little man," Rose said with a sigh as she released her hair from the painfully constricting pony tail. She shook her head, freeing her bleached blonde curls. She ruffled her fingers through her locks, hoping that the released pressure would alleviate her growing headache.
"Oh, almost forgot to tell you that cheeky fellow from the floor below stopped by," reported Rita. "He wants to know if he can take Tony to the park to kick around a football tomorrow."
Rose frowned. "That Smith bloke that Tony talks about all the time? The telescope guy from the roof?"
"Yes. Oh, he's such a sweet man. Handsome too, if a bit skinny for my taste. But then again, you're all skin and bone too. I know it's the way these days," Rita said with a mirthful cackle. "Carries my groceries for me, but for some reason, doesn't like pears. Who doesn't like pears?"
Rose tuned out Rita, who continued to talk about her love for tinned pears, especially when eaten cold from the refrigerator.
Tony had mentioned Dr. John Smith several times. Her brother had met the man on the building's communal rooftop terrace, where Tony had set up a cardboard rocket ship where he pretended to be an astronaut. The man, who was apparently an amateur astronomer, had showed Tony his telescope one summer night, and it was all Tony could talk about for weeks.
"Goodnight, dear." Rita let herself out.
Rose headed into Tony's bedroom to kiss him goodnight, as she had promised. The strawberry blonde six year old was already fast asleep, but she couldn't resist his soft chubby cheek, and kissed him softly, stroking his hair one more time.
As she left the room, Rose surveyed his room, with its rocket ships hanging on fishing wire circling the solar system mobile, the autographed poster of Neil Armstrong, and space-themed bedding. She smiling to herself at the tableau of pinpoint lights scattered over the ceiling - the star projector had been his favorite Christmas present last year. She had no idea what she was going to buy this year. But of one thing she was certain: it would have to be something to do with space. If it had to do with the stars, Tony Tyler loved it.
After changing out of her stifling work clothes into cozy fleece pyjama bottoms, a white vest and a microfiber hoodie, Rose popped a frozen meal into the microwave. Hunger had trumped sleep for the moment. She stared at the numbers counting down until her quasi-healthy chicken and rice something-or-other was done. She sipped her peppermint tea and let her mind drift for the five minutes and thirty-five seconds that were left.
If she had mapped out her life five years prior, she never would have guessed that she would be her little brother's legal guardian. The memory of her parents' mysterious disappearance was simply too painful to comprehend.
The microwave sounded, indicating that her humble dinner was ready. She took her tea and vaguely Indian-style chicken entree to the sofa, plopped down and ate with the telly on, but without paying attention to the nameless actors on the screen. With her hunger diminished, she stretched out on her side, covered herself with an afghan, and began clicking through the mindless television programmes. Nothing caught her attention, and soon she was asleep.
"...and the mysterious man from outer space helps Santa deliver the gifts to all the little boys and girls all over the Earth."
"No, no, no, that's not how it goes!" said the precocious little girl on Santa's lap. "Silly Santa." She tugged on Wilf's beard and giggled at the silly face Wilf pulled.
"Oh, but I'm telling you the truth sweetheart! Santa needs help. I can't do it all on my own. It's a big job, it is, delivering all of those Christmas presents in one night. He lends me a hand! Besides, his ship is bigger on the inside, just like me bag."
"Where's the mysterious man from?" the girl asked, somewhat intrigued.
"He's an alien sweetheart, but his planet is gone. Last one of his kind. He's a lonely traveller, but on Christmas, he's always happy because he loves Earth. It's his favorite place in all the universe."
The girl tipped her head, thoughtful as she contemplated this new information, but she was no longer protesting.
"Off with you then!" Wilf said cheerfully as he patted the girl on her head. "Be a good little girl for Mummy and Daddy, watch and listen for that blue box or my sleigh, never can tell which one of us is gonna show up!"
"Okay, Santa, I will." The child hugged Wilf around the neck and whispered something into his ear. Wilf smiled and winked at the little girl as she skipped back to her mother, who was waiting patiently, happy to see her daughter with a smile on her face.
Rose stood by and observed, doing her best to keep a smile on her face, but internally cringing. The formal complaints from several parents were not unfounded after all. This new Santa that she had hired was telling odd stories to the children. She had personally heard Wilf tell the story to four different kids. She sighed, and headed up to Jake's office to report what she had discovered.
"Rose, parents bring their kids here to see our Father Christmas because they know they can trust the Henrik's name and—"!
"I know that-" she interrupted, crossly.
"I'm not finished," Jake said, firm. "Wilfred is very kind, and he wears the suit well. He ho-ho-ho's like a pro, has that whole jolly thing down pat. I have no problem with him as a person. But he is stark raving loony! He just can't go 'round telling these barmy stories to the kids! Honestly...telling children that a man in a blue box - an alien no less - helps him deliver toys to all the girls and boys every Christmas. It is not okay, Rose."
"It's called a Tardis," she muttered with a frown.
"Wilf calls the alien's blue box a Tardis. The alien's ship...it supposedly travels in time and space." Rose rubbed her temples and squeezed her eyes tightly shut.
She knew what Jake was saying was true. She had heard Wilf tell that little girl about this alien with her own ears.
"I don't care if he calls it the U.S.S. Enterprise, and it's covered in pink sparkles. He has to shut it. If he doesn't, he's gonna get canned. Or worse, some parent is gonna sue us for mental anguish suffered by their little Johnny or Susie."
"I'll go talk to him." Rose ran a hand through her hair pushing it back off of her face in frustration.
Rose made her way back downstairs to the corner window where Wilf was about to wrap up for the afternoon, and then take his evening break. A familiar voice called her name.
"Rosie!" Tony yelled as he came running down the marble hallway, followed closely by a tall, thin man with spiky brown hair, fine features and outstanding brown eyes.
Rose frowned slightly. "What are you doing here, Tony? You're supposed to be home with Granny Rita."
"I'm sorry about that, it's my fault. Well, not really, it's Mrs. Smith's fault, I suppose, when it comes right down to it. Hello, I'm Dr. John Smith, but I prefer being called the Doctor. Been wanting to meet you for some time now. You're Rose, Tony's big sister." The handsome man in a blue pinstriped suit thrust out his hand, offering it in greeting.
Rose shook it, bemused and overwhelmed for a moment. "Yeah, that's me." Her senses did catch up though, as she shook off her confusion. "What do you mean it's Mrs. Smith's fault that Tony's here, and wait, who are you again? What are you doing with my brother?" Rose was now rather alarmed.
Tony spoke up. "Granny Rita fell in the loo, well not into the loo, by the toilet, and couldn't get up so I rang 999, and then I rang you and rang you and rang and rang," said Tony, words rapidly pouring from his mouth, "but you didn't answer your mobile, so I ran downstairs to the Doctor's flat and brought him up and-"
"What? Mrs. Smith fell? Is she alright?" Rose asked, frantically dodging her eyes between the Doctor and her brother, concerned for the elderly woman and longtime friend.
"She's going to be fine," said the Doctor with calm composure. "But she's had a bit of a shock, so she's being admitted to Royal Hope. I examined her while we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive, and she had no broken bones that I could ascertain."
Rose looked visibly relieved. "Thank you Dr. Smith."
"Just Doctor," he reminded her with a cheeky grin.
She ignored the request of the man in blue pinstripes, and turned to her brother. "Tony, I'm really proud of you." Rose kissed his cheek. "Mum and Dad would've been so proud," she thought to herself.
Tony recoiled in masculine embarrassment, pushing his shoulder up into his cheek, but quickly recovered when he saw that Santa was handing out enormous candy canes to the children who were willing to tell him their Christmas wish. "Can I see Santa?" he asked. "The Doctor here has been telling me all about how Santa gets his job done on Christmas. It's a lot of science and timey-whimey stuff. You wouldn't understand," he said with a proud sniff.
"Uh, yeah. Sure," Rose replied, too confused by his sudden interest in Father Christmas to appreciate his secondary comments.
"Ta." Casually, Tony slid his hands into the pockets of his green cargo pants and queued up, slouching slightly, like one much older than one of just seven years.
"So, you're the famous Dr. John Smith." Rose said, keeping one eye on Tony for a moment before turning to the tall, thin man standing to her right.
"Famous?" he asked, amused, but a bit disappointed that Rose still refused to call him by his preferred name.
"Around our home you are. He's been on about you for months now. Says you have a telescope and showed him the stars."
The man smiled. "He's a bright one, that Tony. He's spoken about you, as well."
"Oh really? What has he said about me?" Rose tipped her head to the side, smiling whimsically with a hint of pink tongue between her teeth.
"That make the best cinnamon sugar toast, you sing very loudly in the shower, you watch cartoons with him on Saturday mornings, work too much, and he thinks you should get married and have babies, preferably twins, as soon as possible so he can be an uncle before he's nine. And between you and me," he leaned in and lowered his voice, "I think he's picked me as the groom." The Doctor waggled his eyebrows flirtatiously.
Pink flooded Rose's face as she blushed at the innocent comment. She pressed her lips together to stifle the threatening smile. "Yeah, well, I suppose he's been dazzled by that telescope of yours. He has a thing for astronomy."
They both laughed, and the awkward tension was quickly broken.
"I'm going to be checking in on Mrs. Smith at hospital after this. Why don't you and Tony come along," he suggested.
Rose looked down at her watch. "Sure. It's almost time for me to punch out for the night anyway. Not sure what I'm gonna do now that she's in hospital. She watches Tony every afternoon until I get home from work, and with Christmas holidays coming up next week, and Tony out of school starting Monday..."
"I could... watch him? If you...wouldn't mind?" the man asked, slightly embarrassed.
"No offense, Dr. Smith, but I don't know anything about you, not really. You could be... you know, an alien for all I know," she joked, not wanting to accuse him of anything, but needing him to understand that leaving her brother with a virtual stranger was not something she would consider.
"Calling me an alien just because I love the stars?" he joked.
"I can't be too careful these days. I'm all he's got now, John," she explained earnestly. "He's my responsibility."
"I understand," he said with a firm nod. "I will provide you with references."
"Wait a minute. Why would you even want to babysit? You're a doctor for heaven's sake."
"What sort of doctor are you?"
"Oh, of this 'n that," replied the Doctor, nonplussed.
"That's not an answer," she said with a chuckle.
"Doctor of everything, really. Genius, me. Medicine, astronomy, physics - love the physics, uh…general chemistry, biochemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, philosophy, history and more, but I don't want to bore you with the details."
Rose furrowed her brow, not quite sure she believed the man.
"Jingles, I need your help, darlin'." Wilf's voice called loudly, catching Rose's attention.
"Who's Jingles?" Rose asked herself with a frown. "I didn't hire any Jingles."
"What do you need Gramps...er, Santa?" A tall, striking ginger-haired beauty dressed in a jazzy red velvet dress trimmed with fur at the collar popped out from behind Santa's stately chair. The jingle bells dangling from the hem of her skirt, off of the exaggerated points of her shoes, and tip of her striped elf hat jingled merrily.
"This little gal here doesn't understand English. I think she's trying to tell me what she wants for Christmas. Would you be able to translate for me darlin'?" Wilf asked the woman.
"I'll try…not sure if the TARDIS is around though." The woman nodded at the little girl, smiling her encouragement, and the petite, dark skinned child shyly began to speak in a language unrecognizable to Rose. Exotic clicks and whistles punctuating her speech. In a move that caused Rose to audibly gasp, the velvet-clad woman responded, in the child's own language. The little girl smiled and clapped jubilantly.
"What does she want Donn-er Jingles?" asked Wilf.
"Well, Santa," the woman said, exaggerating the name, "she has asked for a school to be built in her village."
Rose turned to John, pointing at the mysterious addition to the Santa Claus attraction that Rose had not approved. "Did that woman just speak to that little girl? In some African language?"
"It wasn't just some language, Rose Tyler, that woman spoke to that little girl in a previously uncatalogued dialect of one of the sub-Saharan African clicking languages, though it is most likely unrelated to Hadza, the main clicking language. I'll have to look into this further," he said, with an air of authority.
"How'd you...know that? How'd she...do...?" Rose's voice trailed off as she pointed at Donna.
John Smith smiled, pushed his thick dark glasses up his nose and then pushed his hands into his pockets while he rocked on his feet. "Linguistics, too. Doctorate… and that woman there isn't Jingles, that's Donna. My best mate."
Donna turned and waved her fingers at the Doctor, who wiggled his fingers back smiling. Donna winked at him and gave him a thumbs up sign.
Rose raised surprised eyebrows as her attention was split between the Doctor and the mysterious Donna. Too quiet for Rose to discern, Donna asked the little girl another question. The child wrung her hands nervously and then, after another prod from Donna, spoke loudly. Donna smiled and turned to Santa. "She'd like a dolly that looks like her."
"A dolly that looks like you? Well, that's going to be nigh impossible, sweetheart. Because you're prettier than any dolly I've ever seen, but I'll do my best, and if I can't, I'm sure the Doctor will figure something out."
Donna translated for the little girl, word for word, and soon the child was grinning brightly. Following the example of the other children, she hugged Santa around his neck and slid off of his lap.
"Excuse me for a moment," John said to Rose, leaving her to speak to the Caucasian woman holding the little girl's hand.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor, and I couldn't help but overhear this little girl. She hopes for a school be built in her village?"
"Yes. She's an orphan who is being adopted into a family here in London, but she wanted Santa to know her Christmas wish for her friends that she has to leave behind."
After a few pleasantries were exchanged, and John hugged the African girl, John returned to Rose's side. She had forgotten all about the task which she had been sent to accomplish: speaking to Wilfred Mott about his troubling comments about an alien in a blue box. Tony's turn on Santa's lap had come and gone, and he was now tugging on her skirt for attention.
"Yes Tony?" she asked kindly, though somewhat absently.
"Your Santa is a right jolly old elf," he said seriously. "He's top banana."
"Oh really," Rose replied, incredulous. "Top banana?"
"The toppest," Tony said with a nod.
Rose rolled her eyes.
"I'm not being fa...fa...faseee..." Tony strained, furrowing his little brow, trying to pull the word from his memories.
"Facetious?" Rose offered.
"Yeah, that's the word," Tony said, beaming. "I'm not being facetious."
"Why the change of heart about St. Nick?"
"Well it's supposed to be a secret, but the Do-"
"Tony my boy," the Doctor interrupted before kneeling so that he and Tony were eye to eye. "What do you say to having dinner together after we visit Granny Rita, hmm?"
"Can we go Rose? Please? Can we? Please? Please? Please?" Tony begged as he tugged on Rose's arm, jumping up and down, having lost all pretense of his previous cool demeanor.
"I...I don't know. I have loads of work to do still, and...I'm really behind on paperwork, and...and..." Rose stuttered. She had not done anything even hinting at social in a long time.
"You still have to eat, and you yourself just said you wanted to visit Rita, right?" prodded the Doctor.
"Well..." Rose gnawed on her bottom lip.
Before she could protest, the Doctor snatched the clipboard out of Rose's hands. "Here, let me help you with that." He flipped through the pages on her clipboard at breakneck speed. "Hmm. You've got a formal reprimand form here for Mr. Mott. What in the world could that dear man possibly have done to deserve your ire?" Judgmentally, he looked down at Rose over the top of his glasses.
"I'm just doing an investigation, Dr. Smith, I'm not writing anyone up yet."
"Tell you what. Why don't I just take care of this for you." He pulled the pink form off of the clipboard, and wadded it into a tidy, tight ball before lobbing it into the nearest rubbish bin, which was twenty feet away. "There. Problem solved."
"Dr. Smith!" Rose shrieked angrily.
"I don't see a reason to investigate any further. Just look at him! He's a complete success!" The Doctor grinned broadly.
"And you don't think it's odd that he's telling the kids that Santa gets help from an alien who travels in a blue time machine box thing that's bigger on the inside?"
"Do you see any of the children complaining?" he asked, one eyebrow raised. "Has Henrik's suffered any ill effects?"
"Well, no," Rose answered, somewhat defeated.
"I would be willing to bet, that the sales receipts in the toy department have not only increased, but perhaps even doubled from this time last year."
Rose looked over at the smiling faces of the tots milling around the frosty window display, not wishing to leave, but waiting for Santa's shift to end, so that they could have one more moment with him.
"And maybe, just maybe…could it be that Mr. Mott is telling the truth?" the Doctor asked after a long pause, one eyebrow raised, and both of his eyes twinkling devilishly.
To be continued...