This is going to be multi-chaptered, just so you know :) Probably around 4 total.
Rose Tyler sighed heavily.
“I swear to God, as soon as I get out of here, somebody is gonna die.” The other occupant of the bowl they were in growled for the fifth time in the past ten minutes. At least she thought it might have been ten minutes. She wasn’t sure.
“You keep saying that,” Rose commented.
The young woman glared at her though it was a bit difficult to take her seriously considering she was floating upside down.
“That’s ‘cos I mean it,” she snapped.
Some time ago, Rose had woken up in the middle of this…giant bowl with no memory of how she’d gotten there. It was about ten strides across at the base, and probably ten feet high. The bowl sloped upwards into a thin opening that was sealed with something that looked suspiciously like a cork blocking the opening. Outside of it, she could see what appeared to be a very large, ornate sitting room, but no people. She’d tried pounding on the walls of her prison and shouted for a while but to no avail. Nothing happened. No one came.
Then the girl simply materialized in the bowl with her.
She appeared disoriented at first, and there was a twenty minute span where she’d done nothing but cry, and Rose’s attempts to console her had only made her cry harder. But then when she gathered her wits, she flew into a rage. Screaming, beating her fists against the glass, and to Rose’s great surprise, flying up to claw at the cork at the top of the bowl.
She had to be around Rose’s age, maybe a little younger. She might have not even been human though, so it really was difficult to tell. Her accent was definitely American. Rose was willing to bet she was rich. She looked rich. Shiny auburn hair styled into an elaborate updo with braids over the top of her head, a knee length emerald green sweater dress and matching flats that looked like they cost as much as her mum’s rent. She had green eye shadow on thickly around her eyes, which were just a shade darker than the makeup itself. Surprisingly it hadn’t run at all after the waterworks earlier.
Rose looked down at herself again. She was wearing a long, strapless, swanky, crimson dress and a pair of red trainers. The dress wasn’t too unusual–she and the Doctor loved crashing parties, she enjoyed the dressing up, and he enjoyed seeing her dressed up–but the trainers were another story. Whenever they went to these things, nine times out of ten she wore flats, sandals, or boots.
“You are beautiful,” he’d murmured when she’d emerged from her room.
After all this time, she still couldn’t resist blushing under the intensity of his gaze.
“Girl, why are you so chill?!” the woman demanded. She floated down towards Rose, and flipped over.
Rose frowned. “Huh?”
“How are you not buzzing out about this?”
Rose stared at her for a second, caught off guard by the strange slang, then she shrugged. “I’ve been in weird situations like this before.”
She hovered in front of Rose, knees bent slightly, with her arms folded, and seemed to be sizing her up.
“Besides, I’ve been here a while. I did my…‘buzzing out’ earlier,” Rose added with a wave of her hand. “Figured there wasn’t any point in keepin’ at it after a while. Like you have, apparently.”
The woman sighed, looking defeated. But then she squared her jaw and narrowed her eyes at Rose. “And why the hell are you talking like a Trasher?”
She had a feeling that he knew what the woman meant by ‘Trasher’ but chose not to comment. Instead she rolled her eyes. “You act like you’ve never heard a Brit speak.”
“Girl, I’ve been to Britain. They don’t sound like you.”
“Not everyone from Britain sounds the same,” she explained patiently. “I’m from the East End of London an’ that’s what I sound like. Though, I did spend some time in Wales and apparently sometimes I sound a bit Welsh. Does everyone in America sound like you?”
Rose smirked. “Exactly. So, you gonna tell me your name now, or do you just want to keep calling each other ‘Girl’?”
“…Jaime,” the woman finally said. “Y-you said your name’s Rose?”
“Yeah.” Rose smiled as kindly as she could. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what species are you?”
“Human,” she replied at once. Okay, so asking someone what their species was wasn’t something uncommon from wherever she was from. So that ruled out Rose’s time or earlier. “You?”
“Human. But how are you flying like that?”
Jaime sighed and raised one arm for scrutinizing. “Why do you think I was so upset earlier?”
“Because you were snatched by someone, and you can’t remember who or why, and you’re locked in a bowl with a complete stranger?” Rose suggested.
Jaime’s lowered her arm and her eyes traveled the length of Rose’s body, lips quirking upward. “Are you kidding? All we need is a bit of alcohol and this could end up being fun. Besides, there are worse people to be stuck with.”
Rose’s laughed, half surprised, half amused, and shook her head. “Sorry, but I’ve got someone.”
Jaime sobered, her shoulders hunching. For a moment, Rose worried she’d seriously hurt her feelings. Who knew what the social customs of this girl’s time were like? “Yeah, and, well. I’m not exactly sure how that would work.”
Instead of answering, Jaime switched topics. “How long have you been in here exactly?”
Rose cocked her head to the side. “I’m not sure. A while, I guess. I wasn’t really keeping track of how much time passed before you showed up.”
“And you’re…not sure how long?”
Rose shrugged. “Nah. Couldn’t have been too long, though. I’m not hungry so I’d say only a few hours.”
Horror and understanding flashed across the other girl’s face. She shook her head quickly and licked her lips, pointing to Rose’s dress. “I remember seeing these in the clothing archives in school. That looks like it’s from the end of 50th century.”
“Where are we?” she’d asked.
“The Second Great and Bountiful Human Empire. New York City–third one since the original. Which makes it New New New New York.”
“December 24st, 4999. Last Christmas of the millennium!” The Doctor had replied excitedly. “Right now, out there, is the party of the century. Well, technically, parties. Plural. Since they’re all claiming to be the party of the century. I guess we’ll just have to pick one. After all…we’ve got an invite to each of ‘em.”
“I know,” Rose said slowly, struggling to remember more but nothing came. “We were going to a Christmas party in 4999. Me and my friend. I don’t remember if we made it, though. Don’t even know how I got in here.”
“Yeah and it’s Christmas 5999 right now. If you can’t remember anything after going to the party…. Do you think…maybe… you’ve been in here this whole time?”
Rose recoiled, startled. No way. That was impossible. She knew she’d been in here for a while, but there was no way it’d been a thousand years. Unless this was some sort of time capsule or pocket universe where time moved slower. But, then, if that was the case, where was the Doctor? Was he looking for her? Did he even know where to look? Had he been trapped somewhere, too?
She shook her head. “No way. Couldn’t have. There’s no food in here. I would’ve died a long time ago from starvation or dehydration. Or run out of air,” she added with a nervous look at the sealed entrance to the bowl. Actually, she was surprised she wasn’t having a little trouble breathing by now.
Jaime suddenly wouldn’t meet her eyes. She swallowed nervously, pulling her legs up to her chest. “Exactly.”
“Something’s wrong. Get out of here, now!” she’d shouted.
“Whoa, hang on.” Rose blurted. “I’m not dead! I think I’d remember dying.”
“You’d think so. I don’t remember, either. But how else do you explain it? This isn’t anti-grav because our hair and clothes aren’t moving but we’re both floating. There’s no fresh air supply but we’re not getting asphyxiated. There’s no fingerprints or smears after I touch the glass. It’s because we’re not actually here. We’re ghosts.”
Rose looked down sharply. She…didn’t feel like she was floating and her feet were on the bottom of the bowl. “I’m not floating.”
“You were earlier.”
Rose bent her knee, lifting one foot off the ground experimentally. She didn’t even wobble. She bent her other knee, pulling her other foot up, and she remained where she was, floating mid-air. She swallowed nervously and urged her body to rise higher. She drifted silently around the circumference of the bowl. Her dress fluttered around her ankles but made no sound. The near-silent whooshing of air being disturbed was absence. It was as if she had no body at all.
She stopped in front of the other girl. “But I’m not dead. This has to be some sort of containment field or time bubble or something.”
Jaime didn’t believe her; Rose could see it in her eyes. The poor young woman had convinced herself that she was dead long before she actually started talking to Rose.
She wasn’t dead. Rose was sure of it. It may have appeared as if her body wasn’t real but she knew it was. She’d been a ghost before and this was not the same. Not even in the same ballpark. Really, the big giveaway was the TARDIS. Rose could feel her distantly, like they’d been separated by a great distance, but without the discomfort that usually came with that. If anything, this felt like that brief time she and the Doctor projected themselves into the other universe so she could say goodbye to her mother. Whoever did this must’ve done something with their minds.
Rose rubbed her mouth thoughtfully as she racked her brain for possible solutions. There was always the possibility that this could all be happening inside her head but she highly doubted that. Someone could’ve drawn them telepathically into his or her mind and be keeping them there. Or, perhaps, though she wasn’t sure how such a thing could be initiated, it was always possible they’d time traveled. Jack had told her about an old form of time travel that allowed the mind to pass through time while the body remained behind in a trancelike state. It was used by societies without the technology to physically transport their bodies through time. All it required was a specific soporific.
That would’ve taken some serious planning but if someone wanted it bad enough, the soporific could be manufactured with very rustic technology and materials. It would explain how she and Jaime had come from so far apart to the same place.
“Jaime, listen to me,” she ordered sharply in the commanding tone she’d learned from the Doctor. Jaime, who had drifted away in the bowl, spun around in surprise. “I don’t think we’re actually dead. I think we’ve time travelled.”
Jaime raised her eyebrows skeptically. “The Time Agency shut down in the 52nd century.”
“What, you think the Time Agency are the only people that can travel in time? Please.” Rose smiled smugly.
“Alright then, smarty skirt, how do you think we’ve time travelled?”
“I used to work with a former Time Agent. He told me about this, um, this type of time travel that’s mental. Your mind goes through time but your body doesn’t.”
Jaime stared at her for a long moment. “Say I believe you. How is this even possible?”
“It just takes a special soporific to induce it.”
“Drugs?! Am I just trippin’ out?”
“Not those kinds of drugs. It’s very specific. And it’s not something you can just happen across. This was planned.”
“Okay. Next question: why us?”
Rose shrugged. “Dunno. Well, there’s loads of reasons someone would want to target me. Are you…particularly important?”
“Well, I’m an heiress. My Mom owns the top recreational equipment business in the galaxy. And my Dad’s the son of a Baron. But beyond that, there’s nothing.”
Neither seemed very significant. She wasn’t exactly high on the list of those in line for the throne, if Rose remembered nobility rankings correctly, and assuming they still worked the same in her time. Then again, life with the Doctor had taught her that even seemingly simple, inconsequential things and people could be more important than anyone ever would’ve thought. “Well, if we really are dealing with time travel, maybe you’ll do something important one day and that’s why they picked you. I dunno.”
“So…why are we in a glass bowl?”
Rose laughed and shook her head. “I’ve got no idea.”
Jaime pressed her lips together, then she giggled quietly, almost hysterically. “A ghost from Christmas a long time ago and a ghost from this Christmas. The past and the present. Sounds like that mega-old book by…oh, what’s his name? Carl Dick?”
Rose snorted loudly. “Charles Dickens,” she corrected.
“Yeah, him. All we’re missing is a ghost from the future.”
And then as if on cue, a figure literally popped into existence on the other side of the bowl. Rose gasped and zipped over Jaime’s head and caught the newcomer before their body hit the floor.
It was a child, female, seemingly human. Ten, maybe eleven at the most, her face still round with baby fat. She had brown skin and thick, curly black hair tied into a messy ponytail. She was wearing a long-sleeved white nightgown with snowflakes outlined in silver that gathered below the bust and flowed down to her ankles. She was completely weightless. If Rose couldn’t feel the material of the nightgown against her arms, she wouldn’t even be able to tell she was holding her.
At first she was completely still. Jaime glided over to have a look at her. “Was I like that?” she whispered.
The little girl let out a quiet moan and began squirming in Rose’s arms. “Where am I?” she whimpered. Her accent was strange. Something between American and French, if she had to guess. “M-mommy? Who–where’s my mommy?”
Oh, dear. She really was young; young and afraid and wanting her mum. Rose could only help with that second one.
“It’s alright, love,” Rose soothed. She bent her knees and drifted down so she was kneeling on the floor and gently set the child down. “My name’s Rose and this is Jaime. We won’t hurt you, I promise. Can you open your eyes for me?”
The little girl hesitated and then slowly opened her eyes. The stormy grey orbs stared up at the two of them uncomprehendingly. She blinked a few times and rubbed at them with her hands. She looked between the two faces above her for a few seconds then craned her neck to see her surroundings.
“Are we in a fish bowl?” was the first thing out of her mouth.
“Just about,” Jaime muttered under her breath.
“Did you bring me here?”
Rose shook her head. “No. We just sort of…woke up here. Can you tell me your name?”
“Lady Ophelia Emerson,” she answered primly. She paused, licking her lips once, and Jaime whistled softly. “I think I was supposed to curtsey when I said that.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell.” Rose winked. The young Lady giggled.
“May I sit up now?”
Ophelia’s nose wrinkled but instead of sitting up, she floated up off the ground. It took her exactly two seconds to realize what she was doing before she panicked. She squealed, kicking her legs frantically, but only continued to rise higher. Jaime was the one to grab onto her steadily.
“Whoa there, little fritzer. Calm down. It’s okay.” Jaime eased her into an upright position.
Ophelia was taking quick, shallow breaths, her eyes darting between the two women, and seemed to realize for the first time that they, too, were floating. Her frantic breathing slowly evened out and she wrapped her arms around her chest. “Why are we flying?” she asked in a tiny voice. “And why are we here?”
Jaime and Rose glanced at each other. The heiress gestured at Ophelia and mouthed, “She’s all yours.”
Yeah, thanks for the help, Rose thought sourly. To Ophelia, she said, “It’s…well…it’s complicated. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it. My theory, I mean, ‘cos we’re not exactly…um…sure. But you might be able to help us. Where were you before you came here, do you remember? Was it Christmas Eve?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Mommy got me this new nightgown to wear to bed. It’s got pretty snowflakes on it see? I love snow. I’ve always wanted to be able to play in my yard in the snow. Daddy says there might actually be some tomorrow.”
“Where do you live?”
“New York City. Well, actually, Miss Lora–that’s my tutor–says it’s the third New York City since the original.”
“Oh, well, no wonder,” Jaime muttered. “NYC is like fifty miles from the equator.”
They’d all been in New York City on Christmas Eve. This was beyond coincidence. This really had been planned. But what if it was more than that? What if they’d all been in the same place when it happened? What if the soporific was only triggered once every thousand years?
“Right, Ophelia. I’ve got another question. What year is it?”
“Don’t you know?”
Rose shook her head. “Sorry, no.”
“3999. Last Christmas of the millennium,” she added with a grin.
Rose couldn’t stop her jaw from dropping and Jaime’s expression mirrored her own.
If this really was the mental time traveling then the Doctor was probably having a fit trying to wake her up. Assuming he knew where she was. For all she knew, someone could’ve snatched her body and put her somewhere where no one could wake her. Oh, God, he must be going mad looking for her. Would Ophelia’s parents go into their daughter’s room in the morning to find that their daughter wouldn’t wake or that her bed was empty? And did anyone even know to look for Jaime?
She shook her head quickly. No. Thinking about that wouldn’t do them any good. She had to focus on the here and now. Starting with the facts. Three young women with titles of nobility, all taken from the same city, on the same date with one thousand year intervals in between, trapped in a ghost-like state. They were in some sort of containment field that was able to keep them in even though they had no physical forms and the outside world looked like a fancy sitting room.
“I don’t understand.” Ophelia looked between the two women. “What’s wrong? …And don’t you try to hide it from me just because I’m a little girl!”
Rose and Jaime glanced at each other again. “Listen, uh. We’re not from your time. She’s from the year 4999 and I’m from 5999.”
“So you’re from the future??” she asked curiously. “How?”
“Somehow, we’ve all managed to travel through time,” Rose explained. “There is a way for only your mind to go through time while your body is left behind, sleeping. I think that’s what happened to us because we don’t actually have bodies.”
“Is that why we’re flying?”
Ophelia nodded seriously. “Okay. I think I understand. But why would someone want us?”
“And why go through all that trouble to kidnap three people through time?” Jaime added. She laughed once without humor. “I still think it’s like that story. Three ghosts from Christmas.”
The three of them whirled around at the sound of a new voice. The first thing Rose noticed was that there was a blonde man in a crisp black suit standing on the other side of the bowl. The second was that there was a door behind him. She heard Jaime inhale sharply and she held up her had quickly to caution her. They didn’t know anything about this man but if he was the one that brought them here then he definitely wouldn’t be someone they could just rush past.
He was looking at Jaime with something like pride. “Very astute, Future.”
“Who are you?” Ophelia demanded.
“All in good time, Past.”
Rose took a step forward which must’ve looked silly considering she was floating four feet off the ground. “Now.”
He cocked his head to the side and looked her up and down. His smile twisted into a frown. “You’re not the one.”
Rose blinked in surprise. What did that mean? Was she not the one they’d meant to take or something?
“Oh, well,” he went on. “I suppose you’ll do for Present. I know you have questions but don’t worry; all will be answered in time. If you three would kindly follow me, I’ll introduce you to your Scrooge.”
“To our what?”
He sighed patiently. “Have you heard the legend of Ebenezer Scrooge? Also known as “A Christmas Carol?”
“Yeah, an’ I met the author once,” Rose said. If that surprised him, the man didn’t show it. “But that don’t explain why you brought the three of us here.”
“Well, as you know, the tyrant, Scrooge, was cold and hard hearted. In an attempt to save him from his ways, three spirits–or ghosts–appeared to him to show him the error of his ways, as well as what awaited him if he didn’t.”
“Yeah, I know,” she said through gritted teeth. “But why are we here?”
“Our planet has its own Scrooge–a man known as Roden. It’s a long story, one which will be told to you shortly, but we are attempting to reform him the way Scrooge was reformed long ago. And you three were chosen to be our ghosts. One from a Christmas in the past, one from the present Christmas, and one from a Christmas in the future.”
For a few seconds, no one said anything.
Then Jamie sighed. “You’ve got to fucking kidding me.”