Friday, 23 December 2011

The Box of Delights

Well, it's Christmas! So, as promised, here is the first and last Consequences Christmas tale! It's quite rushed and very slight, but it's something to tide you over until series 4 kicks off next month. Hope you enjoy it, bearing in mind it was mostly written in the last couple of hours!

One last thing: Merry Christmas!

The Box of Delights

The moonlight reflecting off her face accentuated her beauty, the whiteness of the snow all around helping contribute to the ethereal glow that seemed to bathe her entire being.  As she looked around, she smiled, drinking in the surroundings and the company.

                “Now, Doctor Song, is this the sort of thing you had in mind?” The Doctor was dressed in his finery, resplendent in top hat and tails once again.

                River, wearing an extremely warm-looking faux-fur coat over a glorious crimson evening gown, nodded. “Perfect. As always, you know what this lady likes.”

                “Well we can’t have you going about saying your husband doesn’t know how to show you a good Christmas now, can we? So, how about,” he whipped a hand out from behind his back, seemingly pulling two glasses out from nowhere, “a glass of mulled wine? All the rage at Christmas, so I’m told.” He handed one to River, who gratefully accepted, and brushed snow from a nearby bench so as to allow the pair of them room to sit.

                River sipped at the beverage, then looked curiously at the Doctor. “You don’t like wine. Why have you got two glasses?”

                The Doctor shrugged. “It seemed polite. It’s what people do, isn’t it? Besides,” he looked down at River’s now half-empty glass, “I’m sure you could manage it after that one. Especially in this cold.”

                River smiled slyly. “Oh so that’s it. Get me intoxicated and have your wicked way with me? You don’t need to go to all that trouble sweetie.”

                The Doctor was flustered, not knowing where to look or what to say.

                River laughed. “Oh you should see you face! Don’t worry my love, I’ll be gentle.”

                The Doctor stood up, paced, then sat down again having seemingly achieved nothing. Yet, when River looked, in front of them was a gentle fire. “Well now, that’s a little better isn’t it?” The Doctor was clearly trying to change the subject, and River didn’t attempt to turn the conversation back to its previous course. “Now what I thought, what I always like at Christmas, is a good story by an open fire. The kind your parents will tell you, just before...” He looked at her sadly. “Sorry, wasn’t thinking.”

                River waved aside any suggestion of upset or offence. “I may not have had a happy childhood with the kind of Christmases that children should have, but I’m making up for it now. In fact, mummy and daddy dearest received a visit from their wayward daughter only the other day. Father’s quite the chef! Who knew?”

                The Doctor looked at her, unsurprised.”Of course he is! Rory the Roman, living a life for 2000 years. He may have been plastic, but he wasn’t idle all the time, I’m certain of that. Unless he was, in which case it is a big surprise, but...” He held up a hand as if to stop himself. “I’m going to tell you a story of Christmas past –well, my past. Just because it’s a Christmas story, you understand, and well, who doesn’t like a good festive tale with their mulled wine on a wintry night?”

                River turned, holding her glass with both hands and getting comfortable. “Ok sweetie, “she smiled, “I’m all ears.”

                The TARDIS landed, completely of its own volition. The Doctor thought little of it, he was used to its idiosyncrasies by now. A few hundred years of travelling for so long with companions, yet now alone for the first time in a very long time. It was for the best, he was sure of that. People had died, good people, and he didn’t want to be responsible for any more unnecessary deaths. So they’d been taken home, the pair of them, free to live their lives safely without his interference. He sighed, looking at the empty console room. “Yes, I shall miss them.” He looked above him, as if speaking to some unseen force. “Not that I had a choice in the matter! Sent back to their own times, their memories of me erased. It’’s not right!” The TARDIS made an unsavoury noise, and the Doctor backed away, as if fearful they’d heard him. “Well I’d better take a look outside then, hadn’t I?” he said, wringing a handkerchief through his hands and dabbing his brow with it.

                The doors to the ship were open, and outside it the Doctor could see snow and little else. Aside from a figure, a child stumbling towards him with clothes that were far too inadequate for the adverse conditions.

                “Don’t be afraid! Follow my voice!” He called out, and he could see the distant form heading towards him. “That’s it! I’ll come out to meet you then we can go inside for a nice mug of cocoa and get you warm.” The child was gaining ground, almost at the Doctor, yet suddenly stumbled and fell in the snow.

                The Doctor hesitated briefly then dashed out into the snow, hefting the fallen child over his shoulder and haphazardly making his way back to the TARDIS. As he crossed the threshold, the doors closed behind him of their own accord and he headed straight for the sickbay.

                Finally, reaching his destination, he laid the child down on one of the beds, letting the TARDIS’ automatic scanning equipment check her for signs of any infection or disease. Knowing it would take time, he headed back to the console room, brushing the snow from his frock coat.

                He collapsed into a chair and sighed once more. “Oh dear, I wonder what it is you want from me this time?” He asked it of no one in particular, half expecting a message cube to appear before him, like the one he’d sent what seemed like decades ago. Could it have been that long? Surely not. He sat for a while, looking into the console’s polished surface at the older figure that stared back at him. His hair was greying now, not like the rich black it had once been. Would they ever carry out his sentence as they kept threatening to, he wondered.

                A sudden bleeping from the console shook him from his daydream. The scan was complete, so he headed back to the child, who when he arrived was still sleeping. He looked at the screen next to the bed, displaying the results of the scan, and his face fell. “Oh dear, that’s not good at all. Well we’ll see about that...” His hands played over the various switches that were positioned all around the area. He could at least make her comfortable, that much he was certain of. Maybe take her on a trip. Yes, one last journey. Maybe then they’d let him go, finally make happen what they’d sentenced him to all that time ago.

                Perhaps it really would be the end of this life after all.

                The child opened her eyes. Looking up she saw a small man with a mop of greying hair standing over her. She didn’t remember much about what had happened before she’d fallen, but she assumed that this man was her saviour.           

                “Hello,” she offered, a little nervously at first.

                “Hello,” said the man with an infectious grin. “It’s nice to see you awake at last. I thought you might like it here.” He gestured around their surroundings.

                She looked, and it seemed to be a wooden cabin, like the kind she’d read about in books. She stood up, slowly, the man stepping back to allow her the space to move around. She saw a window, the man offering his arm to help her reach it. She took it gratefully. She reasoned that if he had planned to hurt her he would have done so by now. As they moved towards it, she could see outside a frozen pond and trees covered with snow, yet as she turned she could see a roaring log fire warming the room.

                The man helped her back to her seat and sat in a chair next to her own. “I expect you’re wondering who I am,” the man said.

                The girl nodded.

                “Well,” the man looked around, seemingly nervous in his own skin, “I’m a sort, and...”

                The girl’s eyes brightened. “So you’re going to make me better?” She coughed raucously.

                The man closed his eyes, then opened them with an impish grin on his face. “How about some cocoa? And then, if you like, we could try some ice skating. Have you ever been ice skating before?”

                He pulled two steaming mugs seemingly from nowhere and handed one to the girl, who accepted it gratefully. They both drank in silence, neither really knowing what to say.

                Suddenly, as they finished, the man leapt up and grabbed her by the arm. Almost instantaneously it seemed they were outside, sliding about on the ice. They both tried to hold each other up, both falling over and laughing repeatedly.

                “Now, have you ever built a snowman? Not a Yeti, they’re very different. Well not the real ones of course, but....” The man tailed off as the girl started gathering snow and making it into a rather elaborate figure that looked remarkably different from a regular snowman. The detail was very precise, looking more like a specific person than a formless lump of snow. It had defined arms and legs, and a very distinct face which the man thought he might recognise, but couldn’t place.

                Once formed, the girl immediately threw a barrage of snowballs at the shape, causing it to collapse and be at one with the rest of the ground once more.

                The man was by now making his way back to the cabin, and the girl followed at a pace, stopping to have to cough viciously, then dashing after him once again.

                They sat and warmed themselves by the fire, and it was then that she noticed the Christmas tree for the first time. Underneath were wrapped parcels, which the man began to pass to her.

                “All yours. It seems I’m on Father Christmas’ naughty list this year.” He gave another feint toothless smile and watched as she opened the gifts, all containing new warmer clothing to replace the borrowed items she currently wore.

                “Do you mind if I...?” He shook his head.

                He watched as she disappeared into another room, and saw one present remained under the tree. He took it out and opened the perfect cube of a box. Inside was a glowing white container which he held to his head.               

                “Well,” he said, eyes open and staring at the object, “well that changes everything.”


                She’d collapsed again not long after, and the Doctor knew immediately what he had to do. The message made it very clear, and he’d crossed into a timeline he should not have done in the first place. He’d only wanted to help, but again, in their eyes, he’d interfered and time needed to be set back onto the right track. If he didn’t then they would take matters into their own hands.

                Reluctantly, he carried the girl outside of the TARDIS, and set her to rest on the soft ground. As he did so, he whispered into her ear. “Now, don’t you worry. Everything will be quite alright....”

                River reached out and placed a hand on the Doctor’s arm, then pulled him in for a passionate kiss. The Doctor didn’t rush to extricate himself, but upon doing so managed to utter, “What was that for?”

                She smiled, that smile again. “Oh you know, you wonderful clever man.” Turning around she saw a wooden cabin behind her. “I thought I recognised this place, but I assumed it was from my dreams. Amazing how regeneration affects the brain, isn’t it?”

                “Ah,” the Doctor started, but didn’t get very far.

                “I always thought – always – that the one Christmas I could remember from my childhood I’d imagined. But it was you, all along, even though you didn’t mean to.” She threw up her hands. “How do you do it?”

                The Doctor shrugged. “Well, if it’s any consolation I have no idea at all. Which really isn’t much consolation at all, is it? I mean that was hundreds of years ago and you said yourself that regeneration does funny things to the brain and it does. It had no idea that that child was...”

                “Me. And you told me, when you left me for that first time. You told me not to be scared, that there was a trick, that I would be alright.” She paused, remembering the events as if it were mere moments ago. “And you were right. And here I am, living proof!”

                The Doctor smiled, and stood up. “And what proof you are River! A dance, in the snow? I’ve got Frank and Deano all ready to sing?” He gestured behind him, where two men stood and waved, and upon the Doctor’s thumbs up, began to sing.

                As ‘Winter Wonderland’ could be heard all around them and they twirled in the moonlight by the frozen lake, River whispered in the Doctor’s ear. “Just one question – where are we? I have a good idea, but...”

                The Doctor leant in close. “Where else Doctor Song? Where else could we be but my box of delights.”

                She held him close. “Merry Christmas sweetie.”
                 And they danced.

1 comment:

  1. OH that is wonderful *clapping brightly*. A very nice story. Lovely! Having its own sweet magic.