Story: They Last Longer
Characters: Ninth and Eleventh Doctors, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Amy Pond
Edited by: the irreplaceable dr_whuh
Summary: Christmas memories last a long, long time, even when the nice bright colors have faded just a bit.
Author's Notes: this was written for dameruth 's stocking at fandom_stocking - thank you for allowing me the fun of writing this!
Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They are the sole properties of the BBC and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement, and take no coin. I do, however, love them all, and thank the BBC for letting me play (and create the occasional original character) in their sandbox.
"There we go!" Rose waved the old-fashioned Polaroid film wildly in the air. "Just wait a few seconds, we'll be able to see it develop."
Jack grinned, pleased at having found the unbelievably ancient camera still in working condition in the Pallerite pawn shop. He'd gotten it for a song, because the proprietor thought it was a broken holorecorder, and Rose squealed like a child when she saw it.
"It works, Rosie, god only knows why, or how it got out here. Is it what you wanted?"
She kissed him for answer. "Mum had one just like this when I was a kid," she said. "She took pictures of me all the time; I hated the thing, especially at Christmas. Dropped it in the sink accidentally on purpose. I felt awful when she cried, and promised her I'd get a new one. I never got around to it when they were still selling them — but now I can surprise her with one, from 200 years in the future, no less. Jack, I love you!"
That was gift enough for him.
He looked over her shoulder, and watched the ivory film turn creamy gold, then brown, then a dozen different colors as initially undecipherable patterns resolved into pictures of the three of them.
There was a moment of silence.
"Oh ... my," he finally managed.
Jack and Rose looked at each other, then at the Doctor, then doubled over laughing.
Despite having earlier declared that he wasn't interested in "tacky Christmas card fodder," the Time Lord couldn't help himself. He came over to see, but retreated after one glance, the tips of his ears burning a most un-Gallifreyan red. That only sent the other two into further fits of hilarity.
The Christmas sweaters Jackie had presented them, and fiercely demanded they don, practically glowed in the picture. The only thing more outrageous than the sweaters' malformed Saint Nick silhouettes was the Doctor, glaring from behind Rose and Jack inside the tiny frame. He'd refused Jackie's third sweater with barely restrained panic. But he couldn't evade the reindeer antlers Rose had unexpectedly planted on his head — or the camera, which Rose had handed Mickey just before the antler-planting.
"I'm keeping this picture," Rose told the Doctor's back. "You wait and see! We'll be somewhere and you'll be trying to impress someone, and out it'll come!"
The Doctor turned around, a daft grin unexpectedly plastered across his face. "They'll see those sweaters, too, then."
It was a good Christmas day, a very good one. It passed in an enjoyable blur of crackers, paper hats and a dinner Jack had insisted on cooking, which saved everyone from Jackie's attempt at holiday cuisine.
Everyone was happy, everyone talked and laughed together.
Mickey started out barely civil, but by midnight - and fortified with some eggnog - he had joined the Doctor and the Captain in talking cars, computers and other joyful bits of engineering neepery.
Jackie left her sharp tongue somewhere else for the day, so grateful was she to be able to celebrate with her daughter. Occasionally Rose caught her mother's eye, and when they smiled at each other in contentment, neither of them knew how much Jackie looked like the young woman Pete Tyler had fallen in love with.
The Doctor made no cracks about apes or human superstition; failed to pace around the tiny flat or complain that time was a-wasting. Instead, he accepted a tiny plate of Jack's delicious goose, and several cups of tea. He even settled his lanky frame between Mickey and Jack on the sofa after dinner, and watched Eastenders and the Queen's speech with a minimum of eye-rolling. Rose's own eyes shone brighter than any star at seeing everyone she loved together, peaceably, in one place.
Before it all ended, there were more presents, some of the old carols, fond goodbyes, and a walk under the wintry night sky back to the TARDIS.
Rose was as good as her word about the picture, too. She brought it out at the most inopportune times until finally he snatched it from her one day, laughed, and stuck it in a pocket. Where it got to after that, he never could say, largely because he forgot about it.
"Found this this in one of your library books. They aren't relatives of yours, are they, Doctor?"
Amy thrust the faded Polaroid print at him, head in that dangerous little birdlike tilt of hers.
He looked at the picture without taking it from her, his head tilted in the opposite direction. Very slowly he smiled. "Give it here, Pond."
She handed it to him, her brow knit. "Well?"
"Are they what?"
"You're annoying, you know that?"
His smile broadened. "I do indeed. But," and he looked, for a split-second, happily wistful, "I can answer you. They weren't relatives. They were family."
She raised her eyebrow, but didn't push.
"So. It's Christmas, Pond. Fancy going out for some hot cocoa and peppermint sticks?"
"I believe I do."
The Doctor put the picture in his pocket; they linked arms and walked down the corridor together.