Chapter Ten

After the visit by Ten and Donna, everyone except the Doctor went back to sleep. The Doctor continued to stare at the Christmas tree while River slept beside him. Around seven in the morning, Michelle stirred and the Doctor watched while she stretched, yawned and sat up in her sleeping bag.

"Good morning," the Doctor said, smiling.

"Hey, you're awake before me," Michelle said, standing up and walking to him.

"That's because I don't go to sleep," the Doctor said.


"Because I don't need as much sleep as humans do," the Doctor said with a shrug.

"He likes to watch people while they sleep," River mumbled, her eyes still closed.

"I'm very nosy," the Doctor said, wrinkling his nose while Michelle giggled.

Eventually everyone woke up and rose for the day. The children took turns getting a bath while the Doctor and his family used the bathrooms in the TARDIS to do the same. When everyone was ready, the Doctor and his family helped everyone carry out sacks of gifts for themselves and the other relatives at the farm. The adults and Brittany loaded up the back of the van while the children sat inside while the heater ran. Once they were loaded up, Jim slammed the hatch and they got inside. They took their usual seats and Jim turned on the radio and they listened to Christmas songs while they drove back towards the direction of Knightstown. They turned onto a snowy country road that had a few bends in it and Jim navigated it carefully in case they went off the road.

Great Uncle Tom and Great Aunt Alicia's farmhouse was far back in the country. The house was a one story white ranch house that was sitting at the end of a long gravel driveway. Trees were scattered around the snowy yard and there was a fenced in paddock to the right of it. The house had colored lights around the eves and a lighted Santa statue by the driveway, just by the porch. Jim drove up a slight hill and went past a white garage with white aluminum siding. Beyond that at the back of the property was a small white barn and a shed. The property was fenced in with the same fence that formed part of the paddock. At the end of the gravel driveway was the gate that led into the expansive paddock that was at least forty acres. The Doctor could see a large white stable in the distance and there were two brown horses and a little brown pony, pawing at the ground trying to find some tender grass. There was also a wooded area which Michelle pointed out was a gravel pit that they sometimes went into. There were several cars and trucks in front of the gate so Jim parked behind them since the snow was too high to park in the yard without getting stuck. Everyone got out, retrieved the gifts from the back and walked back up to the house.

The house's porch was open with a tin roof built over it. There was a bamboo screen at the far end and green Astroturf carpeting covering the concrete floor. There were two metal chairs with a metal table between them. They walked onto the porch and knocked on the inner door after opening the storm door. Off to the right were two small windows and the Doctor looked through them and saw the kitchen. The door opened and Great Aunt Alicia beamed and let out a cry of joy before hugging everyone.

"You came!" she said to the Doctor and his family. "We were hoping you would. Come inside everyone. Let me have your coats and hats and things and we'll put them in our bedroom.

They stepped into a small room that served as the laundry room. There was a washer and dryer by the door with shelves above it. Detergent and fabric softener was on the shelf above the dryer and the Doctor could feel the heat from a recent clothes drying coming from it.

Tom and Alicia took their coats and winter gear and invited everyone inside, telling them to help themselves to food or relax in the living room.

"Why don't you guys show them around the house?" Lori said to her children while she pointed to the Doctor and his family. "I'm sure they'd like a tour before they eat."

"I will," Michelle said. "I'll take them around the house."

"Okay, Michelle will be your tour guide for today," Lori said while the others took the gifts from the Doctor and his family and headed into the other room. "We'll see you after the tour."

"Come on, I can show you around," Michelle said to them.

She walked over to the far corner of the room after Lori left. There was an iron ring embedded in the floor. Lori pulled on it and pulled up a large door in the floor.

"This is the basement," she said while the Doctor rushed over to help her put the door up and back on the floor behind the opening. "We play down here alot of times."

They went down twenty concrete steps to a slightly musty smelling concrete basement. The water heater and furnace were in the corner and there was more astroturf covering the floor. There was a large gaping hole in the wall at the back of the room and Michelle pointed to it.

"I think that's for when they have to go under the house and fix stuff," Michelle said as they came down the stairs. "I'm not allowed to go into it. We bring toys down here sometimes and play though, it makes a great clubhouse. But this is all there is."

They went back upstairs and the Doctor helped her put the door back. Then they went into the next room, the kitchen the Doctor saw throught the windows. The walls were wood paneling and the floor had carpeting that was designed to look like a wood floor. There was a picture of a man praying on the wall over a large wooden table and a cat clock beside it. Off to the right was the stove and counters and the sink. There were two more windows over the sink off to the right. On the table was heaps of food, crisps and Swedish meatballs and cold cuts and puffy looking clumps of fried batter. Michelle plucked a small clump from the plate.

"These are pigs in a blanket," she said to them. "Try one, they're gooooood!"

The Doctor picked one up and bit into it. Fried, greasy batter filled his tastebuds. He also tasted a bit of meat and looked at it. He noticed in the middle of the batter was a Vienna Sausage. The Doctor licked his lips and finished off the rest of it while the others plucked up some of the food and munched on it while they listened to their little tour guide.

"This is the kitchen where good food comes from," Michelle said, gesturing around the room.

"I like this kitchen," the Doctor said.

His eyes widened when three unfamiliar children, two girls and a boy came into the room and stared at them.

"These are my cousins," Michelle said to them. "This is Jessie and Tim and Sarah."

Sarah was a chubby two year old girl with long brown hair that went down past her shoulders. She was dressed in a light blue Little Mermaid shirt with blue jeans and white plimsols. Her hazel eyes were wide while she toddled over to the Doctor and his family. Jessie was ten years old with long brown hair like her sister. She was wearing a pink Hannah Montana t-shirt and faded blue jeans with black sneakers. Tim was six years old with a buzz cut and a round face and dark brown eyes. He was dressed in a red Lightning McQueen shirt with black jeans and Cars sneakers. Michelle proudly introduced everyone to the three children, making sure to say they were her new family members. She told them that she was giving them a tour right now before she beckoned for everyone to follow her. They walked through a doorway by the stove into the lounge. There was blue shag carpeting on the floor and white walls with a small bookcase embedded into the wall above a tan sofa. Beside the sofa were a green recliner with a wooden table beside it and another blue recliner near the door. An old stereo was by the door beside the recliner and some LPs were sitting on top of it. Across from the recliners was a big screen TV. To the left of it was a closed door and to the right was a short hallway with a set of stairs leading up. Great Uncle Tom and Alicia were resting in the recliners and Lori and Jim were sitting on the sofa with Brittany. Beside the sofa was another doorway and they heard voices, young and old laughing and talking.

"Still giving them the tour?" Lori teased her daughter.

"Yes, we're going around the house," Michelle said, shooing her cousins away.

The three children went into the room beside the sofa while Michelle beckoned for everyone to come with her to the closed door. She opened it and walked inside.

"This is Great Uncle Tom's office," Michelle said when everyone came into the tiny office. "He was a salesman and this is where he worked."

"Still do, hon," Tom called out to her.

"Okay, he still does," Michelle said while the Doctor and his family laughed.

There was a metal desk to their left with papers, pens and folders on it along with a Tiffany desk lamp with a blue glass lampshade. Beside that was a metal filing cabinet and the Doctor was delighted to see tiny statues of Laurel and Hardy on top of it. Beside the desk was a small cupboard and there were framed photos of Tom's family on the wall behind them.

"Not much here," Michelle said with a shrug while the adults in the lounge giggled.

They walked back out and Michelle closed the door behind them.

"This is the TV," Michelle said, pointing to it while they walked by.

"Really? Never seen one of those before," the Doctor said while he stopped and examined it.

He noticed a tiny bottle on top of it. The bottle was a clear prescription bottle with no label. Inside were several small calcareous rocks that looked like pebbles. The Doctor frowned while he picked it up and examined it.

"I had my gall bladder out and those are my gall stones," Alicia said.

They laughed when the Doctor slammed the bottle back down on the top of the TV.

"The doctor thought I might like a souvenir," Alicia teased him when he saw his red face. "I'm glad you were so interested in them."

"That's him, always nosy and curious," Amy said to her.

The Doctor smiled at everyone. He turned to follow Michelle and saw into the room beside the sofa. His eyes widened when he saw a gorgeous fake Christmas tree, full and inviting by a large window at the back. The tree was decked out with lights and ornaments and gifts were strewn around it nearly five feet deep. The window behind the tree had green drapes that obscured the view. Beside the window was a door and beside that on the wall was a little white shelf with a little Hummel figurine on it. On the left side of the room was a large cherry wood desk with a padded chair. Another Tiffany lamp was on top of it, casting an inviting light over it. There was a desk set and papers and books. To the right of the desk was another doorway. The carpet was the same blue shag carpet as the lounge. Jessica and Tim were lying on their stomachs on the floor, playing with Legos while he heard adult voices coming from the right of the room. Michelle turned to the left though down the narrow hallway into the bathroom at the end.

"This is the bathroom," Michelle said to them when they came inside. "Just in case you gotta pee."

Michelle walked them out and up the stairs while everyone in the lounge watched.

"This is the attic and another playroom for us," Michelle said over her shoulder while they climbed the stairs.

The attic was wooden and clean and inviting. When they got to the top of the stairs, they noticed Sarah was sitting inside a little room off to the right playing with Barbie dolls. At the back of the attic were two beds with a wooden nightstand between them.

"This is for guests," Michelle said, pointing to the beds. "We stay the night sometimes and this is our other playroom," she added, walking to the open door.

She walked inside and the others ducked inside and saw a small room with a sloped ceiling. There was red shag carpeting inside with a small toy chest and a bookcase filled with children's books. Sarah looked up from her Barbies and watched them while they looked around. The Doctor smiled warmly at Sarah and leaned down.

"Do you like to come here and play?" he said to her.

Sarah nodded and held her Barbie up to him. The Doctor smiled at that and waved bye bye at her before they left the room. They went back downstairs and went into the back room. Now that they were complete inside, the Doctor could see a white sofa on the right in front of another drape covered window. There was a coffee table in front of it and off to the right where more shelves on the wall with more Hummel figurines on them. Sitting on the sofa were two women and a man around Lori's age. The three of them resembled Lori.

"This is my Uncle Bob," Michelle said. "and my Aunt Judy and Aunt Sandy."

Judy was thinner than Sandy was with long dark hair. Sandy was plump with dark curly hair and Bob had dark hair that was thinning on top. He wore wire rimmed frames and he smiled warmly at the newcomers when Michelle introduced them.

"Jessie and Sarah belong to Aunt Judy and Uncle Bob and Tim belongs to Aunt Sandy," Michelle said to the Doctor and his family.

"My husband is out back on the porch with one of Jim's brothers," Sandy said, pointing to the closed door by the Christmas tree. "Alicia told us a little about you. She said you were from England and you were hiking through Indy when you decided to visit them for Thanksgiving?"

"Yes, that's right," the Doctor said, figuring Alicia hadn't told them about his being an alien. "We became defacto members of the family after that."

"So we heard, welcome to the family," Judy said, smiling. "Our family is a bit crazy but we figure every family is like that."

"Yes, we met two of the crazy ones at Thanksgiving," Rory said,

"Yes, we heard about Jack and Randy's behavior too," Judy said darkly. "Alicia called them and told them you were probably coming here and she wouldn't tolerate their hateful comments to you here so I think they're staying away."

"Thank God for that," Amy muttered.

Judy smiled and nodded and let them get on with the tour. Michelle led them into the room by the desk which was Tom and Alicia's bedroom. There were two queen sized beds with more embedded bookcases above each one. The beds had coats and winter gear piled on top of them including the ones worn by the Doctor and his family. In between the beds was another nightstand and a window this one with filmy chiffon drapes. A dresser was across from one bed and there were wooden sliding doors beside it. On top of the dresser were some jewelry and a little black lacquer music box.

"This is where Great Aunt Alicia and Great Uncle Tom sleep," Michelle said, pointing to the beds and this is their closet.

She slid open the door and they stepped into a huge walk in closet. There was a slight odor of fabric softener while they stared at the outfits hanging on metal poles on three sides of the room. The carpet in here was white shag and there was an overhead light. Michelle walked over to a set of outfits in a plastic garment bag in the far corner and lifted up the bottom of it.

"When my stupid cousins shot Santa, I ran in here and hid under here," she said, pointing to the floor under the garment bag.

The Doctor's blood boiled at that but he kept a passive face while Michelle led them out. She shut off the light and closed the door back before leading them out.

"Enjoying the tour?" Sandy teased when they came out of the bedroom.

"It's a beautiful house," Rory said to them.

"Yes, they've lived here for years and years," Judy said. "It's a wonderful place to have Christmas."

Michelle went to the back door and opened it. She opened a storm door and they walked into an enclosed porch. There were windows on all sides with wood paneling and green carpeting. There was a brown sofa and two brown recliners with a wooden table between them and a coffee table in front of the sofa. There was another storm door across the room and there were concrete steps and a sidewalk that led through a couple of trees down to the front of the property and the road. On the sofa were two men. One was middle aged and balding with graying dark hair. The other was thinner and resembled Jim, except his face was more lined.

"Hi, I'm Sandy's husband, Rick," the balding man said. "And this is Jim's brother, Peter. You must be the Doctor and Rory and River and Amy."

"Yes, we are," the Doctor said, nodding.

"I'm giving them a tour of the house. I just finished up," Michelle said. "Except for the outside. We have horses and we have my pony named Thunder. He's a good horse. Um…that's it really. We have a garage and a little barn and a shed and there's the gravel pit in back. We can go out and walk to that later if you want to."

"Sounds great," the Doctor said.

"I don't know if you can, hon. The snow's pretty deep out there," Peter said. "You might have to wait until it melts."

Michelle nodded.

"There's a lake in the gravel pit and we swim down there when it's warm," Michelle said to them.

Peter and Rick stood up and shook hands with the Doctor and his family and wished them a merry Christmas. When they were done, Michelle led them out, shut the door behind them and they walked back to the lounge.

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