Chapter Two

River helped Lori in the kitchen while the Doctor sat in the chair by the bay window; absorbing the love and warmth of the house and feeling it calm his tormented mind for the moment. He sipped his tea and watched while Michelle entered the room, carrying a few schoolbooks and a pad of paper and pencil.

"Homework time," Michelle said to him as she walked over to the sofa and plopped down in front of it. "Did you have homework when you went to school?"

"Yes. But I didn't go home; I stayed at the Academy in a dorm."

"You mean like Harry Potter?" Michelle said, putting her stuff on the coffee table in front of her.

"Yes, like that," the Doctor said. "Without the magic though."

"I like Harry Potter," Michelle said, opening a textbook and putting the pad of paper beside it. "Wish I could do magic so I could get my homework done faster."

"Nah, then you wouldn't learn anything," the Doctor said.

He sipped his tea and watched while Michelle studied the book and wrote something down on the pad. She went back and forth from the book to the pad, writing down math problems and solving them. He could hear hamburger frying in the kitchen and smelt the aroma of cooking meat while he heard Lori and River chatting.

"So…what are you learning then?" the Doctor said to Michelle.

"Stupid math problems," Michelle said, glancing at him.

The Doctor grinned.

"Mathssssss," he said. "I keep telling you to be British."

Michelle giggled.

"I don't like mathsssss so I don't care," Michelle said.

"What's not to like? I love maths problems, they exercise the mind."

"They do for you, they just bore me to tears," Michelle said.

The Doctor took his mug of tea while he got up and walked over to her. He sipped his tea while he studied the problems in her textbook.

"Child's play," he said smugly after solving all the problems in his head. "I could do your maths problems in my sleep."

"Then why don't you?" Michelle teased as she pointed to her pad. "I wouldn't tell anyone you did my homework."

"Because you need to learn and you need to do the work in order to learn," he said, sitting back down.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Michelle said while he chuckled.

"So…what else are you learning then?" the Doctor said, pointing to the small pile of books beside the textbook.

"History, I like that," Michelle said, pointing to the books. "English and geography."

"Ah, everything you'll need for a life of traveling with me," the Doctor said. "You need to know your history and geography and know how to be literate plus you need to learn a bit of astronomy so you'll be familiar with the planets and star systems."

"I like astronomy too," Michelle said as she glanced at a problem in her textbook.

The Doctor sipped his tea while she wrote something down on her notepad.

"Are you okay?" Michelle said after a few minutes of silence.

"I'll live," the Doctor said after a weary sigh.

"When I was five, my grandma died and I cried because I loved her a lot. We went to her house and she'd bake chocolate chip cookies for us and I missed that after she died," Michelle said while she did her homework. "Mommy had to explain to me what happened to her and how she was in Heaven and how I would see her after I died but not now. I was very sad and I slept a lot because I was…depressed. I didn't know that when it happened but I know I was depressed now when it happened."

The Doctor nodded. Michelle turned her attention to him.

"Mommy told me that Grandma is watching over me and proud of me and I believe it. I think Amy and Rory are doing the same now."

The Doctor smiled at that and nodded.

"I didn't wanna laugh and have fun because I was afraid to because Mommy was upset and crying. It was her mommy and she told me that hearing me laugh cheered her up and that it was okay to have fun and laugh because we needed to go on and live for grandma that way."

"Very wise advice," the Doctor said.

"I'm just saying that it's okay for you to laugh and have fun because you have to go on and live for Amy and Rory," Michelle said.

The Doctor's eyes misted over but he managed to smile and nod at that. Michelle put her pencil down, got up and walked over to him. The Doctor enveloped her in a hug and kissed her head while she hugged him tightly.

"Thank you, Bookworm," he murmured as he held her and rubbed her back.

"No problem, Slime Monster," she said, pulling away and patting his head. "Just trying to cheer you up a bit."

"Thank you, I needed that," the Doctor said.

He frowned when Michelle stood there and said nothing.

"What?" he finally said.

"Do my homework now that you're feeling better," she said, pointing to her books.

The Doctor grinned and Michelle squealed and ran away when he tickled her sides. He sat back in the chair, grabbed his mug and took another sip of tea while she settled back down to finish her homework.


An hour later, the Doctor was still watching her and Rex as he played outside with his raccoon toy from Christmas. His eyes picked up the yellow shape of another school bus heading down the road towards the house.

"Another school bus coming," he said to Michelle.

"That's Brit," Michelle said, glancing at him while she read a chapter in his history book. "Mandy doesn't go to school yet but she's being babysitted by a friend for a bit."

"So your mother said," the Doctor said as he got up.

By now the bus was slowing down and pulling up to the end of the driveway. The Doctor stood in the window as before and watched while Brittany got off the bus, a blue backpack slung over her shoulder. She got halfway to the house before she saw him and the Doctor giggled when she pumped her fist in the air and ran the rest of the way.

"You came!" she said when she burst through the door. "Mom hoped you would!"

She quickly shut the door and ran to him as she let her backpack drop in the hallway. The Doctor beamed, opened his arms wide and caught her in a hug.

"Oh, thanks for coming to Shelly's birthday!" Brittney said while she hugged him. "Mom said she was gonna call you and ask."

"Actually, I found out about that after I got here. I'm here for a different reason," he said when they broke apart.

"Oh? Well, it doesn't matter why you're here, you're here! Just a minute, gotta go say hello to Mom."

She called for Lori and Lori answered from the kitchen. She hurried inside and let out a squeal of delight when she saw River. The Doctor chuckled and sat back down while he heard Brittany gushing about how great it was that they were here and River telling her she was glad to be here. Then Lori spoke in hushed tones to her daughter and the Doctor knew she was telling Brit about Amy and Rory and that something had happened to them.

"Hey, you!" Michelle said to the Doctor while Tom ran into the kitchen to greet his sister. "Do you know a lot about the Civil War?"

"American one?" the Doctor said as he heard Tom greet Brittany.


"I know a lot about it, why? Have a question about what you're reading?"

"Yes but not about what I'm reading. I want to know what you thought about it."

"In what way?" the Doctor said as the kitchen went quiet again.

"All these people got killed because of slavery. What do you think about that?" Michelle said.

"Well, I think slavery in any form is wrong but so is unnecessary slaughter which is what most of the war was about," the Doctor said. "I think the war went on longer than it needed to and precious lives were lost because neither side would budge in their views and sit down and talk. Not to mention a great president was lost at the end of it.

Michelle stood up and took her book over to him. She sat it in his lap and pointed to a picture of dead soldiers strewn across a battlefield.

"I agree because all these people had families that loved them and they all ended up dead," Michelle said while the Doctor stared at the photo. "I read about it and I think they shouldn't have done it. I think they could have done it another way without killing people."

"So do I, Bookworm, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way," the Doctor said, patting her head.

Michelle took her book back to the table while Brittany came out of the kitchen, a somber look on her face. The Doctor got up when she opened her arms to hug him.

"I'm sorry," Brittany said. "Mom said you'd explain more after everyone gets home but I'm sorry they're gone. I liked them."

"Me too but they did get to live a full life, apart from me and River, but they did live," the Doctor said. "I'm just gutted that they're gone now."

"Well, we'll try to make you happy again if we can," Brittany said to him.

"Thank you," the Doctor said before giving her another hug.


After another hour, both Jim and Mandy came home. Lori had told the Doctor that she'd phoned her husband along with Ruth, Dan, Alicia and Tom and told them what happened so Jim came inside the house with Mandy, both knowing he and River were already there.

"Doctor, don't tell them yet," Lori said, coming into the room. "Dan and Ruth and Tom and Alicia are coming over for dinner. They want to hear what happened too."

The Doctor nodded. Jim patted him on the shoulder and the Doctor took River's hand and squeezed it while Jim went to greet his wife and children.

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