Mister Tumnus glanced up at the quickly deteriorating sunlight, shivering in the cold winter breeze that was sweeping its way around Narnia, picking needles off pine trees and covering the ground in a thick (but far from warm) blanket of snow. He didn’t like to be kept waiting — luckily for him, the person who was coming to get him didn’t much like to keep track of time, either. In all, a perfect pairing.
He breathed a loud sigh of relief as that noise — familiar yet mysterious as ever — sounded, echoing through the woods and blowing a circle of leaves in every direction. Including his face. As he shooed the couple of stray leaves away from where they had stuck on his furry legs, the door to the police box swung open to reveal a welcoming glow and the sound of friendly chatter. A satisfied smile on his face, he trotted forward to enter the TARDIS.
“Tum, old chum!” He was immediately greeted with an overpowering hug from a bow-tie clad, rather gangly man in a tweed jacket, a large grin plastered on his face. Mister Tumnus took a step back, alarmed.
“And you are?” he asked, feeling terribly confused. He hadn’t seen this man at the ‘Annual Fantastic Characters’ meeting held every year in the Doctor’s TARDIS, and he was determined to get to know everyone. The man frowned for a moment before realising his mistake, and then held out his hand, beaming.
“The Doctor. Sorry about the change of face — but don’t worry, you’re not the only one.” Mister Tumnus nodded understandingly, shaking first his hand, and then the snow off his clothes. As the fresh-faced Doctor closed the door behind him, Mister Tumnus noticed Huckleberry Finn waving at him from one end of the magnificent oak table which was awkwardly placed in the centre of the control room, and went to join in the conversation.
The Doctor clapped his hands to attract everyone’s attention, and every single person who was crammed around the large, yet seemingly small table turned to face him. “Welcome, everyone, to the Annual Fantastic Characters meeting!” A few whoops and cheers sounded from various positions on the table, raising laughter from others. “Some of you know each other, some of you don’t. So! As we generally do, let’s get cracking and have a good old-fashioned chat!” There was a tinkling of forks tapping against various china cups and sparkling glasses, and then everyone delved into conversation.
The Doctor approached Percy the Park Keeper on the end of the table, gesturing for him to move up so he could sit down. Obliging politely, he nudged Alice, who promptly tapped Harry Potter on the shoulder. The whole row shifted up a space until Captain Hook was pushed off the end of the bench, landing uncomfortably on the criss-crossed metal floor. “Oh dear, I’m dreadfully sorry!” Dorothy cried, helping him back onto his seat. He scowled, re-positioning his hat.
“Great snakes! So then you were thrown into the pit with no weapons, and next to no chance of survival?” Tintin gasped, engrossed in his conversation with Indiana Jones. He nodded simply, taking a sip of his champagne whilst pulling his fedora down. Across the table, Klaus Baudelaire sat with his head in a book, oblivious to the fact that Mary Lennox was trying to capture his attention by flicking her hair vainly. Huffing irritatedly, she instead turned to Will Turner to discuss the loss of both of their families.
“That’s enough of that, thank you, Robin!” the Doctor called as Robin Hood shot an arrow into the ceiling, attempting to impress Snow White, who was sitting opposite him. Stashing his bow back into its case, he sat down with a roll of his eyes. The Doctor turned back to continue his talk with the Joker, but found that he was cackling gleefully along with Ebenezer Scrooge. Maybe he shouldn’t have invited them both; they always disconnected from the rest of the party. “Hey! You two, get down from there!” he yelled, standing up and hurrying towards the control panel as he noticed Tarzan and King Louis chasing each other around the levers and switches, bumping into buttons and wreaking havoc.
Suddenly the room was plunged into darkness, causing some of the guests to scream aloud, and others to break into fearful chat as the emergency lights flickered on, casting a dim gloomy glow over the faces of the people waiting. Heads hanging, Tarzan and King Louis climbed down from the controls, muttering quiet yet sincere apologies to the angry Doctor as he tapped his foot, arms crossed angrily.
“It’s alright everyone, take a seat. The lights will be back on in no time, it’s not a problem.”
“Don’t you worry your pretty little head, Doctor, I’ll sing us all a song to keep the party in full swing!” Donkey called, jumping up onto the table. As he opened his mouth to belt out the first note, Cruella de Vil yanked him down by the tail, glaring. The nervous chat started up again, occasionally punctuated by fearful murmuring.
Sherlock Holmes hopped up the steps towards the hub, lighting his pipe and taking a long drag as he did so. “Is it bad?” he questioned simply, crouching down so that he was level with the Doctor, who was inspecting the damage. There was no answer. Sherlock nodded, taking another suck. “I see. Anything I can do?” He was granted with a wordless shake of the head as the Doctor produced the sonic and started to fiddle with the wires, his tongue sticking out as he concentrated.
The Cat in the Hat approached Holmes as he returned to the frightened guests, his pipe sticking out of his mouth. “Oh, I do hope this is over soon, so we can end this dreadful gloom,” he groaned, his stripy hat drooping over his face. Sherlock patted his shoulder comfortingly.
“Don’t worry old boy, this is the Doctor we’re talking about. He’ll have the problem fixed in next to no time.” The Cat in the Hat nodded glumly, tipping his hat and returning to the crowd with his feet dragging.
“Matilda!” the Doctor called from the tangle of wires, beckoning for her to join him. She crept shyly up the stairs, blinking like a deer in the headlights. He popped him head out from under the hub, scratching the back of his neck. “You haven’t by any chance read a book about Time and Relative Dimensions in Space, have you?” he asked hopefully. After a moment of thinking, Matilda bit her lip and shook her head, blushing. He sighed, disappearing again. “Thanks anyway. Could you get Bond for me?”
“Bond?” she answered, not quite understanding.
“Yeah, Bond. James Bond.” She nodded — although he couldn’t see her — and ran back down the stairs to retrieve Bond. He was out of the crowd before she had even reached it, slipping something into his pocket.
“The Doctor wants me?” he said quietly, tucking the object firmly into his jacket. It was more of a statement than a question, but Matilda nodded, stammered a reply and disappeared in-between the legs of some of the taller guests. James slipped silently up the steps, leaning down to speak with the Doctor. “You wanted me?” he muttered smoothly, making the Doctor jump. His head popped up, a concerned look on his face.
“Mm. You got a knife, by any chance? No, stupid question. Can I have your knife?” Raising an eyebrow, Bond dropped his pocket knife into the Doctor’s open hand, taking it back once he was done. “And now...just a little...voila!” There was a sigh of relief, and then a round of applause as the main lights flickered on, returning a healthy glow to the room. The Doctor stood and took a bow, grinning widely. “Thank you, thank you very much. Uh-huh.” He did an Elvis spin, and then slid down the banister to the table. A few people slapped him on the back thankfully, to which he returned the favour.
“So sorry, but I must be going. Bella’s expecting me,” a voice purred from behind him. He turned to face Edward Cullen, who was rising out of his seat with his hand outstretched. “It’s been a wonderful evening.” The Doctor shook his hand thoroughly, smiling.
“It’s been a pleasure having you.” He waved as Edward glided out of the doors to the preset coordinates that the Doctor had programmed into the TARDIS’ directional system for every guest.
“And me too, Doctor. I’m truly very sorry,” Maria apologised from behind him, enveloping him in a soft hug. He hugged back, a little disappointed — he hadn’t had a chance to speak with her yet. Suddenly everyone began to leave — not without saying goodbye first, of course. Ferris Bueller exchanged a lengthy handshake with him before departing; Darth Vader bade that the force be with him; and Bugs Bunny gave him a sincere ‘what’s up, Doc,’ before skipping out of the doors. Eventually he was left with only Mister Tumnus, wrapping his scarf around his neck carefully.
“You do throw the best parties, Doctor. I’ve had an incredible night, as always.” The Doctor patted him on the shoulder, smiling.
“I enjoy it. They always seem to go so quickly, though — seems as though we’ve only been here for ten minutes. Oh, well. When you think of time as a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, it’s bound to happen that way, really. Thanks, Tum — I don’t think I could throw this thing every year if I knew you weren’t coming.” Mister Tumnus’ eyes twinkled, his heart swelling with joy. Giving the Doctor one last goodbye hug, he turned on his heel and made his merry way out into the night.
The Doctor closed the door quietly behind him, leaning against them and scanning the room briefly with his quick eyes. An arrow stuck in the ceiling — easily removed. Gruffalo hair on the chairs — hooverable. Wine stains on the tablecloth — a little harder to remove, but nothing a little extra work couldn’t remove.
He jumped as something rapped suddenly on the closed doors behind his back, taking a step back to open them and allow whoever it was in. He couldn’t help but break into a smile as Captain Jack Harkness burst into through the doors, holding an expensive-looking bottle of wine in one hand. As he spied the messy room, his eyes widened and he whistled, shaking his head. “Good party?”
“As always,” the Doctor answered tiredly, starting to clear things away. “You came without warning.” Jack chuckled, throwing out his arms in defence.
“Hey, I always come after this thing you throw. Why don’t you ever invite me?”
“Because I don’t want the entire universe to explode. You and TARDIS parties don’t mix.” Jack nodded in silent agreement, setting the bottle down onto the table and looking around the room, rocking back and forth on his heels. The Doctor stood straight, irritated. “Are you going to help or not?”
“Hey, hey, I’m your guest. You can’t push me around.” All the same, he began stacking cups and plates, working surprisingly quickly. The Doctor raised an eyebrow. Jack might not be very good at keeping the party under control, but the tidying up afterwards he could do. Yawning with a stretch of his arms, he stacked one chair on top of another and started off up the stairs. “Where are you going?” Jack called, his arms full of cutlery.
“Bed. And that’s NOT an invitation.” He shot a warning glace at Jack, who grinned in response. “You seem to have this under control. You know where the kitchen is.” And, with that, he disappeared into the corridor. Shaking his head in humorous disbelief, Jack continued to clean away the table.
“Unbelievable. Why didn’t I think of doing that?” he murmured to himself, heading towards the kitchen to load the dishwasher. “Next time, I think I’ll just invite myself to his party.” He smirked as he said this, nodding at the idea of the havoc that would occur. “Oh yeah. Then we’ll see how much washing up he’ll have to do.” Laughing quietly to himself, he turned the corner of the TARDIS’ main corridor and vanished.
The Doctor didn’t know what was going to hit him.