A/N: This story is third in a series of stories about the Doctor and his adopted family in Indiana. The other two stories are Happy Hillbilly Thanksgiving and A Country Christmas. Spoilers for Angels Take Manhattan.

Chapter One

Lori lay on the sofa in the lounge, watching Days of Our Lives on the television. The children were at school and Jim was at work. Only Rex remained to give her some company and he was lying next to the sofa, snoring softly while he snoozed.

It had been three months since they last saw the Doctor and his family and Michelle's birthday was a few days away. They wanted to have a huge party for her and Lori wanted to invite the Doctor, River, Rory and Amy to it as well. They had just finished talking to them a few days ago so Lori decided to wait till the night before her birthday to call and ask him.

She was about to get up and go use the toilet when she heard the mobile the Doctor gave her ringing in her pocket. She sat up and retrieved it from her pocket.

"Hello?" she said after answering it.

"Lori, this is River."

"Oh hey, River, how's things?" Lori said.

"Not good."

Lori's blood ran cold at that. Ever since she learned about what the Doctor did and heard some of his stories, she worried about her adopted family members constantly.

"What's wrong?" she said.

"Do you mind if we come to your house?" River said. "We lost Rory and Amy and the Doctor is devastated. I am as well but he's in really bad shape."

"You know my house is open to you guys anytime you need it. Please come," Lori said.

"Okay, just let us know the time and date and we'll be there in a few minutes," River said.

Lori looked at her watch and gave River the time and date. She stood up after hanging up the phone and looked at Rex as she put the mobile back in her pocket.

"Come on, boy, we're gonna have company," she said to him while he wagged his tail in return.

She went downstairs with Rex and went to the storage room. A few minutes after ending the call, she watched as the TARDIS materialized in front of her. She waited and smiled when the Doctor opened the door. He tried to manage a smile but there were tear streaks on his face and his face crumpled when Lori opened his arms and he ran to her and hugged her tightly. River came to the doorway of the TARDIS and smiled at Lori while she held the Doctor. He finally pulled away and Lori put his hand on her cheek.

"Come upstairs, both of you," she said.

The Doctor managed a small smile and rubbed Rex's head when he walked up to him and barked hello. River shut the TARDIS door and they followed Lori upstairs.

"Jim's at work and the children are at school, except for Mandy. A friend of mine is watching her for a few hours so I can have a break. They'll be home in a few hours so you might want to leave the explanations for when everyone is here so you don't have to repeat it forty times," Lori said to him while they walked to the stairs. "My house is yours, stay as long as you need."

"Thank you," the Doctor said.

"I was actually going to call back," Lori said as they went up the stairs. "Shelly's birthday is in two days and I wanted you guys to come and celebrate."

The Doctor did smile at that.

"Ten, eh," he said.

"Yup, she's growing like a reed," Lori said. "Do you need anything to eat or drink?"

"Cup of tea?" the Doctor said.

"You got it. Just sit down and relax and I'll make it for you," she said, squeezing his shoulder.

"Come on, love," River said, taking her hand while they walked to the lounge.


The Doctor sat in the chair sipping hot tea while River did the same. Lori had turned off the TV and Rex lay in front of the Doctor while they waited for everyone else to come home. Lori made small talk, nothing too involved and nothing that pertained to Amy or Rory. The Doctor asked about her plans for the birthday party for Michelle.

"Well, we usually take her to Chuck-E-Cheese for pizza and games. She likes that and also we let her pick a movie and we take her to that after that. She's likes that better than just a typical birthday party. Chuck-E-Cheese does parties so she gets a little cake there. Also, I'll fix enchiladas tonight since you're here."

The Doctor managed a chuckle at that.

"Comfort food, eh?" he said.

"Exactly," Lori said, smiling. "I think between that and being around the children, you'll get a bit of comfort."

"That's why I told him we should come here," River said. "I was scared for him."

"I wouldn't have done anything, River," the Doctor said defensively. "I wasn't going to commit suicide or anything like that."

"Yes, but you do become unhinged from time to time. I've seen it," River said. "You need love and comfort at the moment. That's what will heal you."

"There they are," Lori said when they saw a yellow school bus pull up to the end of the driveway.

The Doctor got up and Rex followed him while he walked to the bay window and watched Michelle and Tom get off the bus. They waved goodbye to the bus driver and began their long walk up to the house. By now, the snow had melted and the yard was brown with dead grass. They had backpacks on their back and Michelle was carrying a red plastic lunchbox. At first they didn't see the Doctor but when they got to the porch, Michelle screamed with delight and the Doctor grinned and waved when she pointed him out to Tom. They zoomed up the porch steps and a few seconds later, the door burst open.

"Hey!" Lori said when Michelle slammed the door behind her. "Not so hard! He won't disappear!"

They ran around the partition and the Doctor grinned and opened his arms wide as the two children made a beeline for him and slammed against him. River smiled as the children cheered and kissed his cheeks and the Doctor had a genuine smile on his face for the first time in several hours.

"Hey, my birthday's in two days and Mommy wanted to ask you to come," Michelle said. "You and River and Rory and Amy can all come."

The Doctor flinched a bit at the mention of Rory and Amy's name but he managed a smile.

"I'd love to," he said, grinning when the children cheered.

They turned to River and River embraced them warmly when they flew into her arms. They hugged her tightly while the Doctor stood up and watched. His hearts lurched when the children finished and turned around, searching for Rory and Amy.

"Hey, where's Rory and Amy at?" Michelle said to the Doctor.

"Yeah, we wanna say hello," Tom said.

"Kids, the Doctor and River have some bad news," Lori said, walking over to them and kneeling down to them.

The children looked expectantly at the Doctor and River put her hand on his shoulder while the Doctor swallowed hard.

"Remember when I told you that traveling with me was dangerous and sometimes people got hurt?" he said.

"They're in a hospital?" Michelle said alarmed.

"Shelly, let him finish," Lori said.

"Sorry," Michelle said.

The Doctor smiled at that and shook his head.

"No, they're…lost in time and I can't get them back," he said.

"Why not?" Tom said.

"Guys, we're going to wait till everyone gets home so the Doctor doesn't have to repeat himself three or four times, okay?" Lori said.

Michelle and Tom nodded.

"Are they dead?" Michelle said to him.

"Well…yes and no," the Doctor said, glancing at River.

The children frowned in confusion but didn't press him for information. Lori told them to put their school things away and she'd fix them a sandwich. She told them they'd have enchiladas tonight and the Doctor grinned when the children cheered. River came up behind him and put her arms around him, watching with him while the children hurried to their bedrooms.

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