Chapter Four

The Doctor realized when they were coming back that he needed a restorative rest. He told Lori that and gave her a sheepish smile.

"I know I keep saying I don't sleep but I do when I need to recover from trauma and this was extremely traumatic for me," he said. "I won't be asleep long, just enough to regain my energy."

"I understand, you're wiped out from all this," Lori said, putting her hand on his shoulder.

"I am, yes," the Doctor said, nodding.

"Leave it to me," Lori said. "Children, you hear that? The Doctor needs to rest tonight so I want you to stay in your rooms for tonight. You can sleep with him tomorrow night. This is not negotiable. He needs to sleep for awhile, alright?"

"Yes!" the children said in unison.

"Thank you," the Doctor said, rubbing Rex's head when he came up to him.


When they returned to the house, Jim and River fixed the sofa bed for him and Jim started a fire while the others went upstairs. The Doctor stayed behind in the TARDIS for a moment, requesting that the TARDIS make three Ambrosia pies for his family members. He brought them upstairs on a silver tray and presented them to Lori, Dan and Ruth and Tom and Alicia.

"Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to see that," Ruth said while everyone laughed. "I loved it, Doctor. We ate the first one in no time so I thank you again for this new one."

"My pleasure," the Doctor said. "Thank you for being here for me and River.

"Oh, p'shaw, you're both family now and so were Amy and Rory, it's no different from attending a funeral of someone we lost," Alicia said. "Just keep coming to visit us and keep on bringing those pies."

The Doctor chuckled. He sat the tray down when everyone collected their pies and accepted hugs from the departing family members. He waited with the others on the porch while they walked down to their cars and waved goodbye with everyone when they drove off.

"Your bed is ready whenever you want to use it," Jim said. "And there's a fire in the fireplace."

"Thank you so much," the Doctor said. "I just need a few hours. And I'll feel better."

"Take all the time you need," Lori said. "Children, you need to go get your baths so he can rest. So get to it," she said, clapping her hands at them.

They walked back inside. As Lori and Jim went in with Rex, River took the Doctor's hand.

"Do you want me to leave you alone as well?" she asked.

"No, come and lay with me," the Doctor said.

River nodded and he squeezed her hand while they went inside. The Doctor closed the door behind them and smiled when everyone wished him goodnight before he went downstairs. He and River went hand in hand downstairs.

"Are you alright, my love?" River said to him as they went downstairs.

"I will be after resting a bit. I'm just knackered and drained," the Doctor said.


They turned on the stairs when they heard Lori bellowing upstairs and saw Mandy frozen on the top step, her face turned up to the hallway.

"I SAID, NOW!" Lori said, looking over the partition at her.

"I gotta tell Uncle Doctor something," Mandy said to her while she pointed at the Doctor.

"It's okay, Lori," the Doctor said to her. "Mandy, what do you need to tell me?"

"Amy and Rory are here, they came back with us," Mandy said to him while Lori folded her arms on top of the petition and watched her. "They say they love you."

River squeezed his shoulder when the Doctor nodded and smiled at that.

"Thank you for telling me that," the Doctor said. "Now you better do as your mother says."

"I'm coming, Mommy," Mandy said, turning and go back upstairs.

"Go get your bath now," Lori said, turning her head to look at her as her daughter went into the hallway.

She looked at the Doctor and River.

"I suspect Amy and Rory will be keeping a close eye on you two," she said to them. "Supposedly this house is already haunted so they'll just add to the fun."

The Doctor chuckled.

"Good night, Doctor," Lori said.

"Good night, Lori and thanks."

"Anytime, thanks for the pie," Lori said.

She leaned back up and walked away while the Doctor and River continued downstairs.

"Amanda, eh?" the Doctor said to River. "So I now know two of the children's middle names."


They lay down together on the sofa and covered themselves with a blue blanket. River lay with her head on his chest while the Doctor stared at the fire.

"Do you believe that Amy and Rory are with us now?" the Doctor finally said to River as he looked at her.

"I do. I believe in that sort of thing even if you don't," she said. "I think they're in a better place and watching over us. I think they had a happy and fulfilling life for as long as they lived."

"How can you know that?" the Doctor said.

"Because, love, I feel it in my heart," River said. "And because Amy told you so on the last page of the book. You don't believe her?"

"No, I do. I just…miss them terribly," the Doctor said, putting his arm around her.

"So do I but I think we did the right thing when we took everyone to see the grave. They need closure and so do you. Now you need to try to pick up the pieces and move on…for them and for us."

"I know," the Doctor said after a world weary sigh, "but it's so hard to do that sometimes."

"I know it is, love, but I know you and I know you'll find the strength inside to recover from this and go on."

The Doctor fell silent for awhile while he and River stared at the fire.

"At Christmas, I went forward in time to see how Michelle turned out," he finally said.

"And?" River said, raising her head.

"She's beautiful," the Doctor said. "And she's not the size of a small planet, thankfully, after consuming all those pigs in a blanket and enchiladas."

River chuckled.

"Kids expend a lot of energy and a lot of calories," River said to him.

"There was something else though," the Doctor said.

"What?" River said.

The Doctor explained to her what he saw and what Michelle said to him and about his future self returning and giving Michelle the medallion. When he finished, River was silent and the Doctor studied her, suddenly feeling like he said too much to her.

"Are you upset that she and I are supposed to marry?" he said to her.

"No. Because apparently this happens in the future after I'm gone," River said. "I'm not immortal, sweetie, and I'm not fully Time Lord so I know I will die eventually. She didn't say we were sharing you so I must be out of the picture by the time you do this. To be honest, this doesn't surprise me in the least," she said, leaning up to look at him.

"It doesn't?" the Doctor said.

River chuckled warmly and laid her hand on his cheek.

"You play favorites, sweetie. I know you try to hide it and I know you love all those children but Michelle is your favorite and I think it's because she's intelligent and a book reader like yourself. You met Mother when she was seven and you coulda just said goodbye and left her there to grow up in Leadworth but you came back for her. I think Michelle has had the same impact on you that Mother had."

"Amy seared herself into my hearts that day," the Doctor said. "It happens when I regenerate. The first person I see usually imprints themselves on me and I take their loss especially hard. It happened during my last life with a woman called Rose. She traveled with me in my ninth life and I loved her then but when I saw her after regenerating, it was like I couldn't get enough of her. I had to be with her and have her with me. It was the same with your mother. That's why all of this was so devastating for me."

"Well, you said this was a future life. Maybe you regenerate in front of Michelle and she inprints herself on your hearts, same as the others."

The Doctor thought about that.

"She wants to travel with me in the worst way," he finally said. "Even after I told her what happened to Amy and Rory, she still wants it."

"Some people are born to travel the stars, love. They're like you, they want adventure and excitement and they're willing to face the risks to reap the rewards of seeing different places and times. Michelle may be a bookreader but there's a traveling spirit inside her. I can see it now even though she's still a child. She'd make an ideal companion for you, love, in many ways. I would feel safe letting her be with you because I love her as if she were my own daughter. She would care for you dearly and be there for you and that's what you need."

The Doctor nodded. River kissed his cheek.

"Now, go to sleep. You know those children won't wait forever," she teased.

The Doctor chuckled and nodded. He put his arm around River and she snuggled with him. He stared at the fire for a moment before closing his eyes and letting himself go to sleep.

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