"You know, I thought about not coming this year," confessed Sarah.
"I'm glad you changed your mind," said Alastair, passing her another glass of mulled wine.
"So am I. It's nice to get away from all the chaos at home. Preparing for Christmas hasn't got any easier with practice!"
Alastair laughed. "At least you have Luke to help you out."
"Yes - but unfortunately his idea of helping is to make mathematically precise timetables for me that I haven't a hope of sticking to. I've tried to hint that washing up every now and then would be more use, but to no avail."
Alastair looked slightly guilty, possibly thinking of washing up related hints he might have failed to take himself, and changed the subject. "I saw Clyde's picture on display at the International Gallery. Rather good, I thought. Subject matter was... interesting."
Sarah laughed. "Yes, I think Rani had words with him about that."
"I imagine she might have. She struck me as a rather forthright young woman. Reminds me of someone else I know."
Sarah laughed. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"Oh, it's meant as one." They exchanged smiles, and the Brigadier went on: "Was that a Sontaran blaster I spotted in the picture?"
"I'm afraid so. But I can assure you, he won't be doing that again in a hurry."
"Thereby hangs a tale, I take it?"
"Indeed, and it all started with that painting competition of Clyde's..."
"So you really did all that in just your socks?" asked Martha. "Couldn't you have nipped back to the TARDIS for a new pair of shoes?"
Harry shook his head. "Couldn't get there," he explained. "The watchemacallits, Wirrn, they were in the way. Besides, we didn't have time for anything like that. You know how it is."
Martha nodded sympathetically. "I know what exactly what you mean."
"But surely," said Liz, "the amount of space and resources that growing a fungus like that would take would be overwhelming. Traditional foodstuffs would be much more efficient."
Cliff smiled. "Ah, now, see, that's the clever part..."
"Let me get you a refill, miss. Mrs Jones, I should say."
"I've told you, Sergeant: it's Jo. To you, it's just Jo. Though I suppose I shouldn't call you Sergeant anymore either, not now you've been promoted, should I?"
"I don't mind, miss — Mrs Jones — Jo," replied Benton, smiling as he passed Jo another glass of champagne. "Reminds me of the good times we all had."
"We did, didn't we?" agreed Jo. "You and me and Mike, and the Brigadier, and the Doctor, of course." She paused, reflectively, then went on. "Where is Mike, by the way?"
"Oh, he'll be on his way," Benton said. "If he isn't already here. In this crowd, he could be three feet away and we wouldn't be able to see him."
"It is a bit of a crush, isn't it? So many new faces!"
"It's strange," mused Jo, "seeing all these people I don't recognise. I'm glad UNIT's still going strong, of course, but in a way I miss the old days."
"I understand," said Benton, "but it never really stops, does it? Look at you, still saving the world."
"Oh, that's mostly Cliff," said Jo. "I just tag along, really."
"Don't sell yourself short!"
"Well, maybe I help a little," Jo conceded, smiling.
Benton laughed, and raised his half-drunk glass of mulled wine in a toast. "To saving the world, then and now."
"Saving the world," agreed Jo, raising her champagne. "Happy Christmas, Sergeant."
"Happy Christmas, Jo."