callme_al01 (callme_al01) wrote,
callme_al01
callme_al01

The Slow Path Home, Chapter 10/?


A Happy Doctor for chocclare  as a peace offereing for subjecting her to Vladimir Putin's moobs.

Title: The Slow Path Home

Author: [info]callme_al01

Fandom: Doctor Who New Series, Written for Tardis BigBang Round 2

Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC and not to me. Rats!

Genre/Characters: H/C; Tenth Doctor, OC, Rose, Donna and maybe some others later on.

Rating: PG

Beta: [info]aibhinn , Also many thanks to [info]chocclarefor her invaluable help with British things.

Spoilers: Brief mention of 2009 Easter Special in the first chapter

Warnings: The first chapter is a bit bloody and has some graphic violence. Nothing after the first chapter will be like that.

Summary: "It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." Rose Kennedy

Chapter Ten

 

 

He didn't let himself sleep at all that night.

 

The Doctor made sure he kept himself awake, first by slowly reading the fresh supply of books Jonathan brought in for him, and then, once he had finished all of them, by taking inventory of the contents of the pockets in his jacket and destroyed pair of trousers.  He was convinced that the reason for the strange lethargy that kept him from leaving yesterday was from an excess of sleep.  If he didn't sleep, he was certain that he would be chipper and ready to go at first light.  In fact, he could have left at any time during the night; it was what he had planned to do until Emily's comment the night before had tweaked his conscience and he'd decided to wait until dawn to go down the hall to wake Jonathan and her up to see him off. Not that he needed any help to get to the TARDIS, of course, but he had promised the boy he would say good-bye, and if he was going to get Jonathan up to see him off, he might as well rouse Emily as well.

 

The items from his pockets were dumped out in a jumble on the bed around him while he carefully considered which method he should use in sorting and cataloging them.  It struck him that he was engaging in a rather pointless activity; he was never going to use or need any of those things ever again.  The Doctor gazed around at the assortment covering the bed.  Maybe, he thought, maybe he should give some of this away before he left. Jonathan would surely enjoy some of the more technical gadgets, at least the ones that wouldn't be too advanced for this time and place.  There was a small laser tool in one of the piles....ah....there it was!  Perfect for giving a mate a hot foot during class!  He had used it himself on the Master countless times back in their Academy days; he'd even used it on one of his teachers once.  The Doctor reached up and rubbed his ear as he remembered the teacher dragging him down the halls to the Headmaster's office for that little prank. Yes, that for Jonathan.  His rubber duck and water pistol, they could go to the two little ones.  That would be just right for them.  For Emily....the Doctor made a face.  Not one bloody, sodding  thing for her! Then his eye fell on his pillow where his sonic screwdriver lay.  She had admired that.  The Doctor picked it up and thoughtfully twirled it around in his hand.  He could disable the more dangerous settings.  But it was <i>his</i> sonic screwdriver, he argued with himself, he might need it!  The Doctor gripped it tighter for a a second, then threw it onto the pile with the laser, duck and water pistol.  In an hour at the most, he'd never have a need for it again, ever. 

 

Another object caught his attention: a small, plain wooden box.  The Doctor swallowed hard as he looked at it.  He'd bought it on Shan-Shen as a gift for Donna, and in all that had happened afterward, he'd never had the opportunity to give it to her.  It really wasn't much to look at from the outside; nothing fancy, and with wood so rough and unfinished that it looked as if it could give you a few splinters if you weren't cautious picking it up.  But inside!  Oh, inside it was wonderful!  It was a music box, and when you lifted the lid, it revealed a small carved bird with delicately painted red feathers and sapphire eyes that sparkled as it slowly pirouetted around as the music played.  It was beautiful and brilliant and special, and that's why he'd bought it to give to Donna, because it reminded him so much of her.  The Doctor reached out, snatched up the box and put it back into his jacket pocket.  That was going to go with him.

 

The sound of a shower suddenly started down the hallway and the Doctor looked up from his task in surprise.  It was six o'clock, and he had intended to be up and gone by five.  Muttering angrily at himself, he scooped up the rest of his things and stuffed them back into his jacket pockets.  He'd go wake Jonathan and make his good-byes to him and then be gone.  He needn't wait for Emily to get out of the shower and get dressed.

 

The Doctor bent over to gather up his trainers so he could put them on but froze at the sound of foot steps and voices in the hallway; small footsteps and voices coming slowly but steadily toward his door. 

 

The Doctor panicked. NoNoNoNoNo! He did <i>not</i> want those children coming into the room.  He did <i>not</i> want to have to deal with them in any way, shape or form.  He dropped his shoes back down beside the bed and looked around wildly for a way to keep them out.  Nothing.  Hide, then, but where? The voices stopped just outside the door and he could hear a hand come to rest on the knob.  It was too late to find a place to hide, so the Doctor threw himself back down on the bed, pulled the covers up over himself, and pretended to be asleep. 

 

The whispering outside his door became louder and more intense until it couldn't really be called whispering any longer.  The Doctor heard the doorknob turn and the door creak open slightly.  He tried to keep his face as relaxed and sleep-like as possible.  <i>I'm asleep!  See?  Go away!</i> He frantically directed his thoughts towards them but to no avail.

 

“Sophie! You're going to get us in trouble.  Mommy told us to leave her friend alone!” a boy's voice was scolding.

 

“Shut up!  We're not bothering him, we're just looking.  See!  He's still asleep!”

 

“If Mommy sees us, she'll be mad.”

 

“Well she won't see us as long as she's busy in the bathroom.  And looking won't hurt.”

 

There was silence, but the Doctor didn't hear the door shut, so he knew he was still the object of their curiosity. 

 

“What's he look like?” Ayden asked.

 

“Can't tell.  He's all under the covers.”

 

“Can you see his leg where it was almost chopped off?”

 

“No,” Sophie sighed in deep disappointment. 

 

The Doctor heard the door push open wider and someone step inside the room. 

 

“Sophie, don't!” Aiden called an anxious voice. 

 

“Don't be such a ninny, Aiden. He's <i>asleep</i>!”

 

Actually, the Doctor thought, he would have to have been stone deaf in order to still be sleeping at this point.  Both children had now given up any pretense at whispering and were talking in their normal voices. 

 

“I'm going to go get Mom.”

 

“Don't you dare, Aiden, or I'll kick your freakin' butt!”

 

There was a moment of shocked silence.

 

“Mommy says we aren't s'posed to talk like that.”

 

“Nae and Po do.  All the time. They don't even say butt, they say....” But even Sophie wasn't brave enough to say that word out loud.

 

“You know she says we aren't allowed to talk like that just 'cuz they do!”

 

The Doctor lay quietly on the bed, still pretending to be asleep, but listening in absolute fascination to little drama unfolding in the room.

 

“I'll tell Mommy how you peed in Nae's red Christmas flower.”

 

The little boy sounded as if he were going to burst into tears.  “Please don't!  I couldn't help it.  Nae won't leave a night light on and I'm scared of the dark at their house.”

 

“Shhhh!  Be quiet before you wake him!”  Sophie suddenly became aware of how loud they had both become.  “Is Mom still in the shower?”she whispered.

 

“Yeah, I can hear it.”

 

“Let's get closer.”

 

The feet drew nearer and stopped right next to the bed.  The Doctor cracked one eye open the barest, minuscule slit in order to get a look at his two visitors. 

 

They were both still dressed in their jim-jams and tousled from sleep.  Sophie was barely a head taller than the top of the mattress.  Aiden stood almost an inch taller than his sister, which surprised the Doctor.  If he correctly recalled, Sophie was a year older than her brother.  She must be quite tiny for her age.  Both stood there looking at him intently, so the Doctor let the one eye close again before they noticed.

 

“Look, he's got glasses.” Sophie had noticed his specs laying on the nightstand. 

 

“Like mine?” Aiden asked.

 

“Nah, these is plastic.”  He heard his specs being lifted from the nightstand. “See?”

 

There was quite a bit of giggling.  The Doctor supposed the children were taking turns trying them on.  There was a clunk as they hit the floor.

 

“Are they broke?”

 

“Nope, I didn't broke 'em,” Aiden replied. 

 

The specs landed back on the nightstand with a rattle.

 

“Is he still sleepin'?”

 

“He looks like it.  He's just lyin' there.”  Sophie said.  “He sure sleeps a lot.”

 

“He's sick.  Mommy says when you're sick, sleepin' helps you get better..”

 

Sophie made a disbelieving noise. “That's if you're sick with a cold or the 'flu.  He's just got a hurt leg.  It's not like he's got a fever and he's puking. You don't need to sleep for a leg.”

 

The Doctor almost jumped at the touch of a warm little hand on his forehead.

 

“He don't got any fever. He don't feel hot at all.”  Sophie declared. 

 

The little hand withdrew to be replaced by another.

 

“No, he ain't hot,” Aiden agreed.  “He's nice and cool.”

 

“Yeah....”  The Doctor could practically hear the gears working away in Sophie's head. “He feels really cool.  Maybe....maybe he died.” 

 

Aiden snatched his hand away from the Doctor's head and whispered, “He's dead?”

 

“Maybe.  He oughta be awake by now, with us talkin' and touchin' him and he's just laying there like he's dead.”

 

Aiden whimpered. “We need to go get Mommy.”

 

“No! Wait! We need to make sure he's dead before we tell Mommy.  If he's not dead, then she'll know we've been in here and she'll be mad.  If he's dead, she won't care.”

 

The Doctor kept himself perfectly still despite the fact that he was biting his tongue to keep from laughing.

 

Sophie began to carefully tug back the covers over the Doctor.  “We gotta see if he's dead,” she told Aiden.  “We gotta see if he's breathin'.”

 

The Doctor immediately put himself into respiratory bypass.

 

“Is he breathin?” Aiden whispered.

 

“I don't see him breathin',” Sophie answered.  The Doctor felt hair tickling him in the face.  “I don't hear him or feel his breaths.”  She moved away.

 

“Yup! He's dead!” Sophie said triumphantly. “Cool!”

 

“Yeah, cool!” agreed Aiden.

 

“Hey!  Maybe Mommy will let me embalm him!”

 

“Will she let you make him into a mummy?”

 

“I hope so!”

 

“She didn't let you turn that dead cat into a mummy,” Aiden reminded her.

 

“Yeah, well, but he'd been dead too long.  This guy's nice and fresh.”

 

“<i>Fresh</i>!” the Doctor thought to himself in mild horror. “What kind of children talk about embalming dead bodies?  What kind of family is this?”

 

“I can tell he's fresh,” Sophie continued on authoritatively. “'Cuz he don't got rigor mortis yet.”

 

Impressive vocabulary for a five year-old, thought the Doctor.

 

“River morris?  What's that?” Aiden asked his sister.

 

Sophie snorted at her little brother's ignorance.  “Rigor mortis!  Don't you know anything?  It's when you get all stiff after you die.”

 

“How do you know?” Her brother sounded doubtful.

 

“I read it in my book!  My mummy book, butt head!”  Aiden started to say something about the use of the word “butt,” but Sophie cut him off.  “Look!”  She grabbed the Doctor's arm and picked it up.  He let it fell limply down to the bed when she let it go.  “See!  No rigor mortis!”

 

The Doctor listened in amazement at their argument.  Sophie was five and could read about mummies? Human children didn't usually read at that age.  And both of them used vocabularies that made them sound older than their years.  Clever little children they were.  Rather gruesome as well.

 

The mattress shifted as Sophie climbed up next to him.  “First, I'll need to take his brains out.  They used a hook to get the brains out when they were makin' mummies.  I got that crochet hook I bought at Wal-Mart.  I'll use that to go up his nose and take out his brains.”

 

A hand pinched his nose.  “It's nice and big.  It'll be easy to get his brains out.”

 

Big!!! The Doctor felt rather indignant at that comment. 

 

“Lemme see!” The mattress joggled again as the boy climbed up to join his sister. “What about his eyes?  What do you take them out with?”

 

“The ancient 'gyptians didn't take their eyes out.  They left 'em in. You needed them to see in the afterlife.”  Sophie sounded as if she were enjoying her role as a teacher.

 

“What do dead people's eyes look like?” Aiden wondered.

 

“Just like our eyes except they don't move.  I think.”  There was a pause.  “Wanna see 'em, Aiden?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

Sophie pressed her thumbs against the Doctor's eyelids and pushed them up.

 

“Boo!” said the Doctor.

 

Ear-splitting shrieks of terror filled the room for several seconds before the two children launched themselves off of his bed and out the door.  The noise faded as they fled down the hallway and down the stairs. 

 

The Doctor sat up and started to laugh.  He laughed and laughed.  He laughed so hard that his ribs started to hurt again.  Emily came rushing into the room, dripping wet and in her bathrobe.  “What the hell is going on?” she demanded but the Doctor couldn't stop laughing long enough to say anything.  He just pointed helplessly down the hall and kept on laughing.  Tears started running down his face and he still couldn't stop laughing.  The Doctor grabbed the sleeve of his t-shirt, wiping his face with it and trying to calm down a little, but then Jonathan came in looking wide-eyed and confused.  “What happened?” he asked.  That just set the laughter off again even harder. 

 

Eventually, the banshees downstairs calmed down and the Doctor managed to regain enough self-control to move over to the sofa to hiccup and giggle to himself. He heard Emily come storming back up the stairs and towards his room.  He sat up straighter and tried to put on a serious face.

 

Emily stood in the doorway, no longer dripping but still in her robe. “Tell me what happened in here. All I can get out of those two is that you're dead.”

 

The Doctor opened his mouth to answer, but hiccuped instead, which set him off on a new round of laughing.

 

“Good God Almighty!  Can't I get a straight answer out of anyone in this house?”  Emily threw up her hands. “Forget it! I'm going to go back to finish my shower and get the rest of the dang soap out of my hair!”

 

**

 

“You're mean.” An indignant little voice told him.  The Doctor looked up and saw Sophie standing in the doorway. 

 

“Me?” the Doctor replied.

 

“Yeah.  You tricked us and scared us.  That's a mean thing to do.”

 

“You were going to pull my brains out my nose with a knitting needle...”

 

“Crochet hook!”

 

“Whatever!  You were going to pull my brains out with a crochet hook and turn me into a mummy! That's pretty mean in my opinion!”'

 

“You were s'posed to be dead!”

 

Sophie glared at the Doctor and he mock glared back at her. “I'll tell you what,” the Doctor said.  “I'll apologize for scaring you and your brother if you'll apologize to me for wanting to turn me into a mummy. Deal?”

 

The little girl considered it for a bit  “I need to go get Aiden first.”

 

“You do that.”

 

Sophie quickly returned with Aiden, but Aiden refused to step across the threshold.  He still looked at the Doctor fearfully, as if he truly was a zombie come back from the dead. 

 

“Well?”  Sophie demanded.

 

In a grave and serious voice, the Doctor apologized.  “I'm very sorry that I tricked and frightened you two and I promised I'll never do it again.”

 

Sophie spoke for the two of them.  “We're sorry we wanted to turn you into a mummy.”

 

The Doctor nodded in approval.  Sophie continued on.  “And if you do die for real, we promise we won't do it then either.”

 

“Ummmm....that's good. Very good. I'd appreciate that.”

 

The children stood at the doorway, staring at him.

 

“Are you two going to stand there all day or would you like to come in?” the Doctor asked.

 

Sophie started forward, but Aiden dug his feet and refused to move.  “Come on, Aiden!” she said impatiently, and dragged her brother along with her to stand in front of the Doctor.  Aiden looked ready to run if were not for the iron grip his sister had on his arm.

 

“Hello, Sophie and Aiden! It's lovely to meet you.  I'm the Doctor.” He grinned and stuck his hand out to the children.

 

**

 

Emily finished with her second shower of the morning, then went back to her bedroom to get dressed.  The day had barely begun and she already wished she could crawl back into her bed, thanks to the mayhem that had broken loose first thing that morning.  She had no idea what had gone on, other than the fact that it involved her children and the Doctor. Why, oh why hadn't he left during the night like she had hoped he would, Emily grumbled to herself as she finished dressing.

 

She opened her door and stepped out into the hallway, debating with herself on the next course of action.  Go downstairs and try to coax Sophie and Aiden out of the kitchen pantry where they had taken refuge, or go down the hall and interrogate the laughing hyena?  Emily was spared the decision when she heard voices and giggling coming from the Doctor's room. 

 

**

 

“Out.” 

 

Sophie, Aiden and the Doctor looked over from where they were sitting on the couch  as that single, stern word cut through the conversation they had been having.  Emily stood just inside the room with an expression on her face that would have cowed a Dalek.  The Doctor started to speak.  “We were just …...” but the two children had already got up from the couch and were heading swiftly and silently out the door.  The Doctor watched them leave in dismay.

 

“What did you do that for?” the Doctor asked angrily.  “We were having quite a nice time!”

 

The look on Emily's face when the Doctor made those statements turned from sternness to one of absolute disbelief.  “What did I do that for?” she echoed as she came over to stand by the couch.  “Number one, because <i>you</i> told me that you didn't want them around you at all.  Number two, because they have very obviously disobeyed me twice by coming in here when I told them in no uncertain terms not to.”

 

“They were fine.  They weren't bothering me at all!” The Doctor craned his neck to look around Emily.

 

“That's not the point!  The point is that they deliberately disobeyed me and why am I arguing with you about my children? This is ridiculous!” Arguing child discipline with a space alien? Could this morning get more bizarre?

 

“I don't want you making them frightened of me.” the Doctor retorted.

 

“ME frighten them? You're the one who sent them screaming through the house about a dead man!”

 

The Doctor pulled on his ear in embarrassment.  “Yes, that was my fault.  You see, I played a bit of a trick on them.”

 

“It must have been one hell of a trick,” Emily snapped.

 

“Well, your daughter was speculating on how best to turn me into a mummy!”

 

Emily continued to glare at him a few seconds longer before a smile began to show on her face.  “Oh...not the Egyptian obsession again.”

 

The Doctor nodded.  “I was pretending I was asleep, but I must have done it a bit too well because they thought I was dead.  They started to check me out for the journey to the afterlife and I, um, gave them a bit of a shock by coming back to life. Really!  What kind of children are you raising?  Tots that want to embalm your visitors?”

 

“Well, they are a pretty precocious pair, I must admit.  Especially Sophie.” Emily was beginning to laugh now as well. “

 

“They certainly are clever,” the Doctor agreed.

 

Emily sighed. “Well, I'm gonna go and read 'em the riot act while I fix their breakfast.  They won't be bothering you again.  I promise.”  She started to leave.

 

“Oh! Aren't you going to let them come back up here?” 

 

She turned back and gave him a strange look. “No.  Because you don't want them around, remember?”

 

“Yes, but...but...” the Doctor stammered.  “It's okay.  Really. I don't mind.”

 

Emily was baffled.  Just a couple of days ago, the Doctor was adamant in his demand that Sophie and Aiden be kept away from him.  Now he seemed hurt that she intended on following through on his request.

 

“I just think that it would probably be safer......”

 

“Safer?  Are you afraid that I would hurt them?” the Doctor asked angrily. “I would never harm them. Never. Are you going to arm them with their own pistols to protect them from me as well?”

 

“IF you would let me finish,” Emily coldly replied.  “I was saying that it would be safer for you not to have too much contact with my two little blabbermouths, who will soon be spreading the story throughout the neighborhood of how the dead man in Mommy's house woke up and scared them.”

 

“It's dangerous to keep weapons like that around little ones. You don't care...”

 

“OH. SHUT. UP.” Emily reached out and clapped her hand over the Doctor's mouth. She had absolutely reached her limit with this man this morning and she considered it lucky that she hadn't reached out and decked the idiot. “Hello? Haven't you noticed what I'm wearing today? Or not wearing that is?”

 

The Doctor glared at her over her hand at first, then his eyebrows rose up in surprise.

 

“Been wonderin' when you'd notice.” Emily grinned.  “I haven't worn it since yesterday morning.” The morning after they'd spent most of the day at each other's throats. She removed her hand from his mouth.

 

“Why?” he asked.

 

“After all I put you through that day, well....I figured that if you didn't kill me my sleep that night, you must be pretty safe. And, believe it or not, I don't like to keep loaded weapons around small children. It's not safe.”

 

The Doctor smiled.  “I'm not longer a dangerous alien in your book?”

 

“Dangerous? No.  Annoying as hell? Yep!”

 

“So you'll let them come back up here?  If they want to, that is?”

 

“Make up your mind,” Emily told him. “I can't be going back and forth, telling them one minute it's okay for them to visit you and then the next minute telling them it's not.”

 

“Oh, I won't!”

 

“Okay.  But tell me this first: why?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“Before, you acted like Aiden and Sophie were a disease you were afraid you were gonna catch.  Now you want them up here.  Why?”

 

The Doctor shifted uncomfortably as he answered.  “Oh....I don't <i>want</i> them up here. Of course not!  I mean, if they want to come up for a visit, that's fine.  Probably better that they satisfy their curiosity, get it out of their system.  Right?  Once they've done that, they'll not be wanting to hang about with some dull stranger with a bad leg?  Not likely.”  He waved his hands dismissively. “They'll go away and I won't have to deal with them after that.  Easy-peasy.”

 

“Yeah, right.”  Emily did not believe one word of it. 

 

“Emily...” the Doctor hesitated before continuing. “Aiden....I noticed with his eyes  and skin and such...he's an Albino, isn't he?”

 

Emily nodded.  “Yeah but I'd prefer if you didn't call him an Albino.  I'm not into political correctness, but it does make him sound like a lab rat.”

 

The Doctor quickly apologized.  “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude.”

 

“It's okay.  I know you didn't mean anything by it.”

 

“How much can he see?” the Doctor asked.

 

“Oh, plenty! He's just barely into the range of legal blindness.”

 

“Ah,”  Emily could see the Doctor try to battle down his curiosity and failing.   “You said you were his teacher, but how could you have been his teacher?  He would have been two years old when you met him!”

 

“Less than that, even.  He was five months old when I started working with him.”

 

Perplexed, the Doctor opened and closed his mouth and rubbed the back of his head.

 

Emily watched his confusion with amusement. “You want to know how I can be a teacher to a baby that little, right?”

 

“Well, yes!”

 

“I teach kids who are visually impaired.  So when a kid is born with a vision impairment, I go into the homes to work with the kid and to help teach the parents how to help them.”

 

“Oh, I understand now.” It was clear the Doctor really didn't, but didn't want to admit it to Emily.

 

“Anyway, I need to get downstairs.  I'll be back later.”

 

“Will they be coming up here?” the Doctor looked at Emily hopefully.

 

“I suppose. Are you sure that's what you want?”

 

The Doctor turned away with an air of indifference.  “If that's what they want. Whatever.” He had already retreated behind the shield of a book.

 

Emily started to leave, but remembered something she had meant to ask.  “Doctor, when are you going to lea ...” but she cut herself off short. 

 

The Doctor looked up at her questioningly. “When I what?” 

 

“When are you going to want some breakfast?”

 

“Whenever.”  He shrugged and went back to the book.

 

**

 

Before she she even began to fix the children their breakfasts, she sat them down and gave them a good scolding for disobeying her.  They'd looked properly contrite for several second before Aiden piped up  “Can we go back up to see him after breakfast?”

 

“Yeah,” Sophie agreed. “Can we go back up?  He was nice.”

 

“No,”  Emily stated.  She had decided to take a hard line for now. “And if I catch either of you two upstairs at all today without my permission, you'll get a spanking.  Is that clear?”  Two heads bobbed in agreement.

 

Jonathan came down and joined them for breakfast so while the three of them ate, Emily told him the story behind the morning's excitement as she put together some food to take up to the Doctor.  When she came back down from delivering the meal, Sophie and Aiden had settled down to playing in the family room, so she decided to go ahead back to the kitchen to clean up the breakfast mess before she got them dressed and ready for the day.

 

Emily had just finished with the last of the dishes when the morning was once again pierced by screams: angry screams this time instead of frightened screams. Sighing, she dried her hands and went to referee. She came into the family room just in time to see Sophie's hand come away from her brother's head with a small fistful of white hair.  Without a word, Emily picked Sophie up, gave her a firm swat on the behind and sat her down on the couch; then she scooped up the sobbing Aiden and sat with him on the opposite end of the couch from Sophie.  She sat there holding Aiden as his tears slowly dried and as Sophie pointedly ignored them both by curling into a ball and burrowing underneath one of the couch pillows.  Emily wearily shut her eyes as she held her son.

 

This happened every time the two of them had an extended stay at their grandparents: they reverted to the near-feral behavior they had learned in their earliest years.  Snatch what you want before someone else gets it; fight to get it back from someone else.  Adults were to be ignored unless you really needed something only they could provide.  There would be a week's worth of explosions like this to get through, especially with Sophie.  She always seemed to be affected by the visits the most out of the two of them.

 

Emily remembered the first time she met the two of them, in that tiny, hot trailer with their mother sitting on the couch watching Jerry Springer on the large screen entertainment center.  Their brother, four year-old Cameron, had been outside playing in the partially-wrecked hulk of a demolition derby car.  Sophie had just stood in the corner of the trailer's main room, dressed only in diaper, silently staring at Emily.  At nearly eighteen months old, Sophie could not speak a single word: pointing and screaming was her only mode of communication. Aiden lay on the floor drinking from his bottle of Kool-Aid.

 

Her purpose in going into the home was to teach Aiden and his mother how to deal with his vision loss.  She ended up becoming a second mother to the three children; an arrangement that suited their mother just fine, as she preferred to be out in the bars with whoever her latest boyfriend happened to be.  Then she'd bugged out completely, leaving the three little ones behind.  It was the best thing that had ever happened to Sophie and Aiden, at least.

 

Sophie stirred beneath the pillows on the couch, making angry growling noises.  Emily ignored her. Aiden slipped down from her arms and went back to playing on the floor.  The sound of muffled words replaced the growling coming from under the pillows.  Emily sighed.  “If you want to talk to me, Sophie, you need to sit up like a big girl.  I can't understand you underneath all that.”

 

Sophie whipped the pillow off her head and briefly sat up. “I HATE you!” she shouted before diving underneath the pillow again.

 

“Ah.....I see.”  Emily replied. “That's okay.  I still love you.  Why do you hate me?”

 

A mumbled reply came from the pillow.

 

“Sit up.  Now.”

 

The little girl slowly sat up but would not look at her mother. 

 

“Why do you hate me?

 

“You spanked me!”

 

“You pulled out some of your brother's hair.  That rates a spanking in my book.”

 

“He tried to steal one of my new Bratz dolls that Nae gave me!  You should spank him too!” Sophie shouted with indignation.

 

“Trying to steal a toy is not the same thing as yanking out a clump of someone's hair.  What should you have done instead of hurting your brother?”

 

The little girl hung her head. “Went and got you,” she whispered. 

 

Now it was Sophie's turn to cry.  As she sat looking down in her lap, Emily could see her chin begin to tremble and her eyes beginning to fill up.  “Come here.”  She held out her arms to Sophie, who immediately crawled over into her mother's lap and buried her head into her mother's neck, sobbing.

 

Emily held Sophie for several minutes as she cried.  The stay at their grandparents', combined with the fright of this morning, had all been too much for her.  Emily knew how big and tough Sophie could act; it was a skill she had honed from birth that, along with her exceptional intelligence, had enabled her to survive her early years, but underneath it all, she was still just a five-and-a-half-year-old child. 

 

“Aiden,” Emily called to the boy still playing on the floor.  “Did you try to take one of Sophie's toys when she didn't want you to?”  Aiden ignored her and kept on playing.  Emily spoke sharply.  “Aiden!” 

 

The boy looked up at her with a puzzled look on his face and then smiled charmingly. “Yeah, Mom?” Those were his defense mechanisms, ignoring adults when they scolded and playing on his cuteness to get out of trouble.

 

“You heard me.” 

 

Aiden frowned, knowing he'd been cornered.  He stuck his lip out in a pout.  “Yes,” he mumbled.

 

“You need to come over here and the two of you apologize to each other.”

 

Aiden got up and came reluctantly over to the couch.  Sophie let go of her mother's neck and turned around to face her brother.

 

“I'm sorry, Aiden.”

 

“Sorry, Sophie.”

 

They gave each other a hug.

 

“Okay,” Emily said briskly.  “Time for you two to get dressed.  Upstairs, the both of you!”

 

“We're doing a lot of apologizing today.” Sophie commented as she got off her mother's lap. “We apologized to Doctor, too.”

 

“You did?”  Emily walked behind them, herding them to the back staircase which took them directly to their room and not past the Doctor's. 

 

“Yeah, and he apologized to us for scarin' us.”  Aiden said.

 

Emily was surprised.  “That was good of you two; all three of you I mean.”

 

She stood over them as they brushed their teeth and changed into their clothing for the day. 

 

“Mom, can we go back to visit with Doctor?”  Sophie asked as she pulled her socks onto her feet. “Please?”

 

“Yeah, please?” Aiden chimed in.  “He's really nice when he's not pretending to be dead.”

 

Emily choked back a laugh and kept a serious look on her face as she pretended to consider their request.  “I don't know.  He may not want you around after this morning, a couple of kids who don't listen to their Mom?  I just don't know.”

 

“Oh, he will,” Sophie declared in complete confidence. 

 

The two finished getting dressed.  Emily held her hands out to them.  “Let's go ask him and see.”

 

**

 

“I have two miscreants who wish to ask you something.”

 

The Doctor looked up from his reading to see Emily, Sophie and Aiden standing in the doorway. 

 

“Can we come back in to see you?” Aiden shyly asked.

 

“Certainly, if you'd like.”  The Doctor kept his tone of voice carefully neutral, but as the brother and sister scurried into the room to rejoin him on the couch, the look of delight on his face was unmistakable.

 

Emily looked as though she was considering staying up there with them, but only briefly.  She gave the Doctor a wave.  “All I can say is, be careful what you wish for. Call me if you need me.” And she turned and left.

 

The Doctor opened his mouth as if call her back, but Emily had already gone.  He swallowed nervously and looked over at his little companions.

 

“Do you know how to play Pizza Man?” Sophie sweetly asked him.

 

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