Chapter Eight

Michelle helped Amy unload her grocery sack and put things away. What amused her was Michelle had put her book on the counter and was never far away from it while she helped. When they were finished, Michelle grabbed her book and headed out of the room.

"You guys relax," Lori said. "I can get supper. You've done enough already. In fact, Jim probably has your beds ready if you want to go downstairs. I'll call you when supper's ready."

They thanked her and headed out of the room. As they passed by the bay window, they noticed Tom and Mandy were outside romping in the snow with Rex. They stopped to look at them and noticed that Jim was over by the cougar cage putting a blue tarp over the top and three of the sides. The cougar was out of its house, watching him while he worked. The cougar was nearly the size of Rex.

"Like I said," Amy said. "I hope that thing doesn't get out and kill us."

They turned and headed downstairs. As they were going down, Amy got the odd feeling again about the unfinished room and shivered a bit at the creepiness of it. They paused on the stairs when they saw a wooden door opening below the stairs. They watched while Michelle came out of it, book in hand and headed for the unfinished room. She turned on a light and went into the bathroom and shut the door.

"Apparently, the toilet works, unless she pees on the floor in there," the Doctor said as they went the rest of the way down. "See, Pond, there's nothing in there that I can see," he added as they stepped off the stairs.

"Still creeps me out though," Amy muttered.

The Doctor turned and walked to the open door under the stairs. There was a larger one beside it and when the Doctor bent down and peeked in, he saw a blue beanbag and a black and yellow one and another bookcase filled with books and some toys scattered about the tiny room.

"Must be her secret clubhouse then," the Doctor said as the others peered in. "And more books. Blimey, Lori wasn't joking about her love of books. I like her more and more."

They heard the toilet flush and turned around. Michelle opened the door, stepped out and paused at the doorway to the room when she saw them gathered around the door.

"Hi," Rory said. "We're just peeking in at your hidey-hole here."

"I read in there," Michelle said as she walked towards them.

"You read everywhere, don't you?" the Doctor said.

Michelle nodded. They stepped aside and she walked into the room, turned and beckoned them inside. They lowered their heads and stepped into the small room under the stairs.

"Have you read Harry Potter?" Amy asked Michelle.

Michelle nodded.

"This is like Harry's room under the stairs," Amy said.

Michelle grinned and nodded.

"Are you still reading the outer space book then?" the Doctor said, bending over when she sat down in the blue beanbag.

"Yes," Michelle said, showing him the book.

"You know what I said about Venus?" the Doctor said in a loud whisper. "I lied. It's a rubbish planet. All cloudy and hot and the people are annoying. I hate it."

He smiled when Michelle giggled at that.

"Well, we're going to go check out our beds so happy reading, my little friend," the Doctor said to her.

He was hoping that Michelle would follow as everyone went outside. He liked the little girl immensely. She was intelligent and sweet and loving and he wished she was a bit older so he could take her on adventures and show her the real universe. The Doctor went out last and made an "Oh no!" face as he slowly closed the door. Michelle giggled and he shut the door and turned to see that past the unfinished room was a wider part of the den.

The fold out sofa had been pulled out so it was one big bed and a fitted sheet had been put over it and pillows, sheets and blankets put on it. Beside it were two black sleeping bags with pillows and beside the sofa were two blue recliners. Jim had built a fire in the brick fireplace and they heard the wood snap and crackle. The fireplace was mounted in the wall about a third of the way up and a brick ledge ran under it to both sides of the wall. Above it, a wood mantle also ran from one wall to the other. The TV was off to the side of the fireplace on the brick ledge and there was a DVD player on top and a selection of DVDs to the side of the TV. On the far right wall was a huge window that looked out onto the brick patio and a patio door beside it. To the left of that was built in bookcases filled with books and beside that was a wooden door. The Doctor walked over to the closed door, opened it and looked in.

"Laundry room," he said, closing it.

He turned and grinned when he saw the door under the stairs was open and Michelle was standing beside it, watching them silently while she held her book against her. River caught his eye and winked before she walked over to the TV.

"Wow," she said aloud while Michelle watched, "this is a really nice TV and there's some films here for us to watch. It would be nice to have some company while we watch them."

The Doctor chuckled when Michelle hurried back into her room. She came out a moment later, dragging her beanbag with one hand while holding her book with the other.

"Yay, we're going to have a guest for films!" the Doctor said while Michelle dragged her beanbag to the sleeping bags and dropped it. "You choose the DVD then, little friend."

Michelle put her book in her beanbag and walked over to the DVDs.

"D'ya see that, she let go of the book," Rory said to his family with wide eyes.

"That was brave of her, we could take it now if we wanted to," Amy teased while Michelle let out a soft giggle.

"Shall I then?" the Doctor said, making a big show of prancing over towards the beanbag.

"No," Michelle said then giggled when the Doctor froze with a deer in the headlights look by the beanbag.

"She spotted me, what do I do?" he said to his family while Michelle giggled and watched.

"I'll take care of this, sweetie," River said.

She walked over to Michelle, paused a moment and then let out a gasp as she pointed up the stairs.

"A monster, look!" she said.

Michelle looked quickly and then looked back to see the Doctor picking up her book. She laughed when he froze again with the deer in the headlights look and walked over to him.

"Um…I was just…keeping this safe for you, honestly," the Doctor said while Michelle giggled. "Hey, have you read all those books?" he said, pointing to the bookcases behind him.

Michelle nodded.

"Have you read every book in the house?" the Doctor asked.

Michelle nodded.

"Have you read every book on planet Earth?"

Michelle nodded and giggled when the Doctor's eyes grew wide.

"Wow, you've been busy in your nine short years," he said while his family chuckled. "So if you've read everything there is, why are you so afraid of me taking your book away?"

"Because I like it," Michelle said.

"But you've read it. You said you read everything on the planet so why can't I have it?" the Doctor said, his eyes twinkling.

"Because I wanna read it again," Michelle said.

"Oooh, so it's that sort of thing, is it? Nothing to read that's new so you gotta start over? Well, I'll leave this here so you can reread it then," he said, putting the book back in the beanbag.

"I'll get you a book to read," Michelle said before walking back to the bookcases.

She selected a hardcover book with a white dust jacket from the shelves and brought it back to the Doctor. The Doctor took it and his eyes boggled when he read the title.

"The Illustrated Guide to Sex? You read this as well?" he said in a high-pitched voice while his family laughed. "Seriously?"

"Mandy found that in Mommy and Daddy's room one day," Michelle said.

"And you read it?"

His family laughed when she nodded.

"You know, there is such a thing as too much education," the Doctor said. "But here, Pond, get some tips on your love life," he said, throwing the book to her. "And you, thanks but I don't need any book about sex. I know enough already."

"Ha, that's a laugh," River muttered.

"Buuuut," the Doctor said, choosing to ignore that while Amy opened the book and perused it, "whatcha wanna watch, my little friend?"

Michelle walked over to the stack of DVDs and selected a purple case halfway down the stack. She pulled it out and brought it over to the Doctor.

"Barney Goes to the Zoo? Barney the Dinosaur?" the Doctor said while Michelle giggled. "Oh, for shame. I thought you were supersmart. You watch Barney?"

"Mandy does," Michelle said.

She giggled when the Doctor bopped her on the head with the case.

"Well, Mandy can watch this on her own time. You choose something for us that doesn't involve big purple annoying dinosaurs."

Michelle took it back and selected another DVD. She brought it back to the Doctor.

"Ah, Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, much better. Have you read Lord of the Rings then?"

Michelle shook her head.

"NO?" the Doctor said while she giggled.

She laughed harder when he staggered back, feigned horror on his face while River rushed to catch him.

"You, the book lover, have never read the Lord of the Rings? You lied to me when you said you read every book on Earth?" he said while Michelle laughed harder. "You lied to your friend? And…you read books on London but not Lord of the Rings? What's wrong with you? We need to get you the entire set of Tolkien's books then. That's blasphemy. Someone like you never reading Lord of the Rings before."

"I'm sorry," Michelle said.

The Doctor chuckled and gave her a playful swat on the head with the DVD case.

"You're forgiven but don't let me catch you slacking off in your reading again," he said before he opened the case and put the DVD in the player.

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