Chapter Nine

The Doctor grinned. He and River were lying together on the sofabed while Amy and Rory lay on the sleeping bags in front of them. He was watching the movie but at the same time he was observing Michelle. She started out giving her complete attention to the film but after a half hour, she opened up her book again and divided her time between reading it and watching the TV. He nudged his wife and pointed to her.

"She reads more than you do," River murmured to him.

"I know. It's refreshing to meet a fellow book lover, especially since Pond only reads the backs of cereal boxes," he said, raising his voice for the last part.

"That's because you hog all the books," Amy said loudly while Michelle giggled.

"No, I keep them safe so you don't tear them up," the Doctor said.

He looked at Michelle who was still reading.

"Give us the precious book, we wants it," he said to her as he imitated Gollum.

Michelle giggled again and then fell silent while she read. Then after twenty minutes, she marked her place and closed her book.

"Can I ask you something?" she said to the Doctor.

"Sure. Although, you read every book on Planet Earth so you probably know more than I do," the Doctor teased. "What do you want to ask me?"

"Do you like me?"

The Doctor blinked in surprise.

"Do I like you? Isn't that obvious?" he said while his family chuckled. "Yes, I like you. Do you like me?"

Michelle nodded and smiled.

"Well, why are you worried I don't like you?"

"Because I don't have any friends."

The Doctor raised his head up and stared at her while his family looked at each other.

"No friends?" he said. "But you're sweet and kind and intelligent."

"I'm too brainy, people say so," Michelle said, staring at the floor.

"Oh blimey, this is one thing I do not like about humans," the Doctor muttered as he rolled his eyes. "Do you get made fun of in school?"

Michelle nodded and Amy stood up, sat down beside her and rubbed her back while she continued to stare at the floor.

"Look, those people, they're idiots. They can't see how wonderful you are," Amy said. "A lot of people pick on smart people because they're intimidated by how smart they are. We like you. If we didn't, we wouldn't have called you over here to watch the film with us."

Michelle smiled and Amy wrapped her arm around her and hugged her tightly.

"We like smart people so you can be our friend," Amy said to her, rubbing her arm while Michelle sniffed and wiped a tear from her face.

The others got up and got around her, hugging and rubbing her while Amy kissed her wet cheek.

"I don't want people coming over for Thanksgiving because some of them make fun of me too," Michelle said to them.

"Who makes fun of you?" the Doctor said angrily. "What do they say?"

"They tell me to stop reading so much and go out and play with other people because I'm too nerdy," Michelle said.

"Oh, how charming," River muttered. "Telling a little girl that."

"Michelle, you do what you want to do with your life," the Doctor said to her. "You wanna sit on your bum all day and read to your heart's content, do it! Be the smart girl. Don't lower yourself down to other people's level because they don't like that you're smarter than they are. Be proud of who you are, yeah?

Michelle nodded and sniffed while Amy kissed another tear off her cheek.

"You feel threatened tomorrow or someone says something, you come and find us. We'll stick up for you," the Doctor said. "No one has the right to tell you to stop being intelligent. You like to read, do it! Who cares what they think. You're gonna be a sensation one day, Michelle, and I bet they know that too. They're just afraid you're gonna outshine them."

"Thank you for being my friend," Michelle said.

"Your family doesn't tease you about being smart, do they?" Rory said.

"No. Mommy and Daddy love me. It's my stupid aunts and uncles and cousins that do it."

"Well, you have four people in your corner now so you can rely on us," the Doctor said. "Just chill with us tomorrow, we'll have fun all on our own without your aunts and uncles and cousins."

"Does your mommy and daddy know what your aunts and uncles and cousins say?" Amy said.

"Yeah. But they don't listen when Mommy and Daddy tell them to shut up and they come over because they get angry if they don't get invited so I go and hide from them. I do it on Christmas too."

"Well, you can keep close to us tomorrow if you want," River said.

"Thank you," Michelle said.

"Can you keep a secret?" the Doctor said to her.

Michelle nodded.

"A big secret that's just between all of us and no one else?"

Michelle smiled and nodded.

"Okay," the Doctor said, lowering his voice, "this is my secret. I'm a space alien and I travel through time and space in a magic box and my wife and friends travel with me and we see everything that's in this book here," he said, tapping her book. "That's my secret so shhhh…"

"Is he for real?" Michelle said to Amy.

Amy nodded emphatically.

"Are you an alien?"

"No, we're all human like you but he's an alien," Amy said. "He's telling you the truth."

"And you fly in a spaceship?" Michelle said to the Doctor.

"Yup, a very special spaceship that goes through time and takes me to anywhere in the universe I want."

"I wanna go then," Michelle said.

The Doctor put his hand on her head.

"I wish I could take you but you're too young," the Doctor said. "See, it's very dangerous sometimes and you have to be a grownup so you can face the danger. I met Amy when she was seven and she had to wait fourteen years until she could go with me."

"Will you take me when I'm a grownup?" Michelle said.

The Doctor and his family shared glances.

"Well…I look for intelligent people and you have that in overflow. I like compassionate, loving people and you fit that description and I like people with a bit of an adventurous side. Now…that we might have to work on since you seem to like to sit on your bum and read but that's easily fixed. What you need is some stimulation, something more than just a book so I think you could easily be adventurous if given the chance. So yes, I'll definitely keep you in mind for my traveling companion when you're old enough."

Everyone smiled when she hugged him. The Doctor wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly.

"Speaking of stimulation," the Doctor said while he held her in his arms. "Do you like playing in the snow?"

Michelle nodded.

"Do you like building snowmen and making snow angels?"

Michelle nodded.

"How many times have you seen this film?" the Doctor said, pointing to the TV.

"Lots of times."

"I see. So…since you probably know the film by heart now, let's go out and have some fun before dinner. What do you think about that?"

"I like that."

The Doctor grinned and held her close, kissing her cheek.

"Come on then, let's get our winter gear on and have a bit of fun outside," he said to her.

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