It was in the middle of trying to sabotage some Sontarans that she saw it: the perfect gift for the Doctor.
The little shop Rose huddled inside was closed up for the Christmas holiday (she’d let herself inside courtesy of a borrowed sonic screwdriver). It was lavishly decorated for the season, and had obviously done fairly well. Many of the shelves and displays were empty, or very nearly so. What was left indicated the offerings were mainly non-perishable food items, like spiced sausages and imported cheeses. A passing car’s headlights reflected off one glass jar in particular sitting on a shelf across from Rose, briefly catching her attention. She glanced quickly out the window for the Sontarans, and crept over to read the label on the jar.
It couldn’t be an odder choice, but it was absolutely something the Doctor would love. Her face broke into a huge grin as she dug a few notes out of her wallet, and left them in place of the jar. She may not have trans-dimensional pockets like the Doctor, but this item was more than worth the trouble of trying to save in her coat.
The sound of heavy boots echoed down the street. Rose snuck over to the front door, easing it open as quietly as possible. She raised her slingshot, aimed, and all hell broke loose.
“And did you see the look on his face when we finally cornered him? HA!” The Doctor laughed as he and Rose strode back into the TARDIS, half supporting each other amid fits of laughter.
“I know! I never thought I’d see a potato so surprised!” Rose leaned on the console to catch her breath. Her face was bright pink, from a combination of exertion and coming in from the cold. She hugged herself in a half-hearted attempt to generate extra warmth, and let out a huge sigh.
“Some Christmas, eh?”
“Yeah, some Christmas. Aliens and all.” Rose beamed at the Doctor. Suddenly her eyebrows shot up on her face. “OH! That reminds me. I’ll be right back.”
Rose jogged off towards her room, leaving the Doctor to wonder what could possibly be so important that she had to take care of it before their usual post-adventure celebratory hug.
Rose tossed her coat on her bed, and briefly tapped a couple fingers to her lips. Darn… no wrapping paper. No gift bag. What to do, what to do… Ah, that might be interesting. She grabbed an old hoodie she hadn’t worn in what seemed like ages. But she knew one time she had worn it was shortly after the Doctor had regenerated, last Christmas. It was really on its way out, having been ripped across the back during a more recent escape from near-certain death. Rose wasn’t sure why she hadn’t thrown it out yet, but she knew the Doctor would recognize it—he was generally good at noticing details like that. She set to work on it with a pair of scissors, and after adding a brightly colored hair tie, she had the fabric wrapped around the jar quite nicely. It wouldn’t win any awards for aesthetics, but she thought it was creative, and certainly heartfelt. There was no question in her mind the Doctor would love it. As she stood up to leave, she briefly considered running to the TARDIS kitchen to grab a spoon to tie to the bow she’d made.
“What do you think?” Rose asked quietly to the room around her.
The reply came as a hum that she could best interpret as an amused laugh from the ship. “Nah, you’re right, he wouldn’t use it anyway.” She smiled and bounded out to the corridor, gift in hand.
The Doctor was pretending to be busy at the console, as he often did when he was actually just waiting for Rose. Of course, he noticed her immediately when she came back to the console room, completely failing to pull off an act of surprise.
Rose walked slowly into the room, hands behind her back, wearing a huge tongue-touched grin. “I got you a Christmas present.”
The Doctor sighed and dropped his hands to his sides, but kept his own big smile going.
“Oh Rose, you know you don’t have to do that.”
“Shame you weren’t there to stop me, then.”
She brought the small package out from behind her back, and held it up to him with both hands, as if she were presenting him with a peace offering of sorts. The Doctor hesitated, but clearly couldn’t hide his excitement. He knew that whatever in the universe it might be, he would love any gift from Rose Tyler. He took it from her and began to unwrap the tie off the top of it.
“Is this… Nooooo…. Oh Rose, this is BRILLIANT!! I love it!”
The Time Lord was bouncing on his toes like an excited child and practically hooting with delight. Rose couldn’t help but suppress a giggle at him. He dropped the cloth wrapping and tie on the console, and quickly opened the jar. He dipped his fingers in it, pulled out a dripping dollop of banana marmalade, and popped his fingers into his mouth, closing his eyes as he savored the treat.
“Mmmpfhmmm. Oh, that is just amazing. Really, that’s the best. Rose, you’ve got to try this stuff. Banana marmalade! Seriously, you humans come up with the most amazing delicacies sometimes.”
Rose was grinning from ear to ear by this point, and laughing out loud. The Doctor picked up the cloth, briefly wiped his fingers on it, and scooped Rose up into a big hug. Rose swung her legs a little as she was lifted off the floor.
“Thank you. That really is the best gift I’ve gotten in a long time.”
“Merry Christmas, Doctor.”
“Merry Christmas, Rose.”