Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Little Ponds"

BBC's Doctor Who is a family favorite in my home. We're all eagerly looking forward to the next season with the Twelfth Doctor and all the adventures he'll go on.

I've always enjoyed writing fanfiction. My earliest writings were mostly mash-ups of favorite Saturday morning cartoons (those were the days!), and on occasion I enjoy writing a fanfiction of a favorite TV show, like Doctor Who. So here is a fanfiction with the 11th Doctor (My favorite Doctor), when he has to supervise the children of two of his companions. Some of the beginning is based off of a dream I had. Enjoy!

(I do not own the characters of the Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory, or the TARDIS. They are characters that belong to BBC and respective creators. The only original characters of mine are the four children and the anonymous villains. I claim no ownership of the others whatsoever.)

****


The rogues rushed pell-mell down the steep hill, their sides heaving and gasping as they pulled in air. Several of them yelped and staggered to a stop at the bottom, just barely avoiding a nasty tumble down the cliff. Those who didn't stop in time were caught by their companions and pulled back.

The Doctor came up behind them, wheezing and gasping as hard as the rogues.

"Now," he panted. "No more running. I'm done running. You- hey!!!!" The Doctor rushed forward just as every last rogue leapt off the cliff. He fell to his hands and knees at the edge and watches the rogues make their escape in several small rowboats.

Well, so much for getting answers.


Down below, Amy Pond tapped her foot impatiently as she and Rory Williams loitered by the TARDIS.

"What's taking him so long? Is it really so hard to find a man who knows where we can find the interflux-whatever?"

"He said it could take a while," Rory reminded her, leaning against the blue police box. "He'll be fine. He knows how to take care of himself." Rory eyed the monstrous seagulls that stood browsing in the shallows nearby. "I'm not sure about us, though..."

"We'll be fine," Amy turned to face Rory and looked him in the eye. "What he's hurt out there? Without us, or any help at all?" Rory looked at Amy, then sighed and straightened.

"Alright, let's go-"

"Come along, Ponds!" The Doctor's voice made them jump and turn. The Doctor was coming toward them down the hill.

"What took you so long?" Amy interrogated.

"Hello to you too," the Doctor tapped her nose. "Coming?"

"Whoa, hold on," Amy followed the Time Lord into the TARDIS with Rory in tow. The Doctor blinked to adjust to the suddenly dim lighting. He frowned and tapped the TARDIS walls, and smiled as the lights brightened again. Amy and Rory either didn't notice or ignored it.

"Where have you been?" Amy asked. "Did you find the part?"

"Yep," the Doctor smiled and showed her and Rory a sophisticated piece of metalwork. "Now, who's ready for a world of red trees and white grass-"

"Ah, no," Amy sidled over to him. "You're coming to our place." The Doctor looked at Rory for help.

Rory unhelpfully shrugged and nodded.

"You are coming to stay with us," Amy poked the Doctor. He sighed and started to protest. "Oh, come on. The kids are dying to meet you."

"Kids?" The Doctor frowned. "When did you have kids?"

"When... what? Don't be silly, we've had kids for a long time," Amy smiled. "Remember? Minnie, Dawn, Rachel, and little Harry?" The Doctor looked at her as if she had completely lost her mind. "Oh, stop it. You remember them; you were there when Minnie was born."

"Right," the Doctor said slowly. He felt that, in the corner of his mind, he knew that.

He must be getting old.

"Right then!" He began suddenly, flipping a light switch, turning a hose nozzle, and pushing a blue rubber button. "To the house of Pond!"

*****

"Here we are!" The Doctor announced, "Now, are you sure this is a good idea?"

"What? Seeing the kids? Of course it is," Amy smiled. "They've been dying to meet you. Come on, raggedy man, time to meet the family." Amy and Rory stepped outside, and the Doctor smiled when he heard the delighted shrieks of joy of the children waiting outside.

"Come on, Doctor!" Amy shouted impatiently. The Doctor grimaced and hesitantly emerged from the safety of his TARDIS.

"Doctor," Amy smiled. She and Rory stood with four beautiful little children. "This is Minnie, the oldest."

The Doctor knelt by Minnie. The girl was no more than eight, but the spitting image of her mother.

"Hello Minnie," he smiled. "I remember when you were born. Your mum was scary, she was."

"Were you scared?" Minnie asked. The Doctor snuck a glance up at Amy.

"Only just a little," he whispered to Minnie. He winked and turned to the second eldest.

"This is Dawn," Amy introduced.

Dawn was about six years old. She hid shyly behind Amy.

"Hello," the Doctor smiled at her. "You're a pretty little girl. You have your daddy's nose."

"I do?" Dawn looked at Rory. Her father wasn't sure whether to look pleased or slightly insulted.

The Doctor smiled and turned to the youngest girl.

"This is Rachel," Rory continued the introductions. The Doctor peered around Rory's legs to see the four-year-old girl that took shelter behind her father. She had Rory's hair and Amy's eyes.

"Hello Rachel," the Doctor smiled. His wary attitude toward staying with the Williams had melted at the sight of the children. They were so precious, so beautiful.

"Hi," Rachel whispered. "You look funny."

"Rachel!" Rory looked at his daughter.

"Want to know a secret?" The Doctor whispered back. Rachel nodded. The Doctor leaned forward. "I am funny."

A smile tugged at Rachel's lips. The Doctor tapped the bridge of her nose and straightened.

"Now who is this?" The Doctor looked at the baby boy in Rory's arms. The little boy was more of a toddler than a baby, but he was at that age where walking was more like trying to stay balanced for more than five seconds.

"This is Harold," Rory replied. "We call him Harry."

"Harry, nice to meet you!" The Doctor let Harry grab his finger and babble at it. "Yes, I know it's freakishly long. With any luck yours will be long too, so don't worry." Rory looked at Amy, confused. Amy only shrugged.

"He looks like you," the Doctor looked at Rory. "We have mini Amy, mini Rory, and two in between! You have your hands full."

"That's partly why you're here," Rory said as Amy herded the girls inside. He and the Doctor followed behind. "They've been eager to meet you. So please play nice and don't scare them."

"I always play nice," the Doctor smiled. "Would taking them for a ride on the TARDIS be too scary, do you think?"

Rory looked at the TARDIS thoughtfully,

"Yeah," he nodded. "Just a bit."

"Oi!" Amy appeared in the doorway of the cozy house ahead of them. "You boys better get inside before the girls eat all the cookies."

The Doctor had managed to grow comfortable being the Williams children's object of fascination. Rachel had found a spot on the floor at his feet, playing with his shoelaces. Minnie had perched herself on the Doctor's lap, her speech as bold as Amy's (she was like her mother in more than just looks). Dawn pushed a stool next to his chair and sat by his arm. Baby Harry was carried off by Amy to be fed.

"So, what do you all do around here for fun?" The Doctor asked.

"Pway games!" Rachel replied.

"Dolls!" Dawn exclaimed.

"Piggy-back rides with Daddy!" Minnie smiled brightly.

"Piggy-backs rides are fun," the Doctor smiled. He looked at Rory.

"No," Rory said flatly. The Doctor looked half disappointed.

"Why do you wear your tie funny?" Minnie asked, adjusting the Doctor's bow tie.

"It's a bow tie," the Doctor replied. "Bow ties are cool." 

"It's pwetty," Rachel looked up.

"I think it's handsome," Minnie said. "Daddy, you should have a bow tie."

"I don't think so," Rory smiled. "I don't think I can pull it off as well as the Doctor can. Why don't you girls show the Doctor where he'll be sleeping?"

"Yeah!" Rachel and Dawn jumped up excitedly. Minnie slid off the Doctor's lap and pulled him to his feet. The Doctor let them lead him up the stairs to a bedroom with four beds. The bed closest to the door had been newly set up.

"This is our room!" Dawn informed him. "You can sleep in here too!"

"Oh," the Doctor felt his unease return.

"Mum and Daddy said you were going to babysit us," Minnie said, looking at the Doctor critically. "They said you're going to be in charge."

"Am I?" The Doctor barely kept his voice from cracking.

"Momma left you a list," Dawn hopped onto her bed and pointed to the table on the far side of the room. The Doctor approached the table. A piece of paper was pinned under a dirty mustard-yellow book titled The Joyful Hound. The Doctor lifted the paper. It was in Amy's handwriting. It was a list, mainly instructions on getting the four children to bed.

"I was going to tell you," Amy's voice made the Doctor turn. She was bouncing Harry in her arms. "You don't mind, do you?"

"No," the Doctor forced a smile. "Why would I mind?"

"Well, you seemed a bit scared earlier," Amy told him.

"Nah," the Doctor waved away the matter. "We three will get on famously."

"Four, actually," Amy added. "We're leaving Harry." The Doctor's smile nearly vanished. "But it's only for one night! We'll be back tomorrow evening. I left instructions on getting them all to bed and getting them fed. Minnie can help the girls dress, and it's pretty easy to dress Harry." Amy smiled and shrugged. "And if dressing him proves to be a challenge just let him toddle about in his nappy." She smiled at the Doctor. "Want to hold him?"

The Doctor soon had baby Harold in his arms. His nervous fear partially melted. Harry stared at the Doctor's face, and then grabbed at his hair.

"It's hair. Don't you know what hair is?" The Doctor responded to Harry's babbling. He peered at the baby's head. "Oh... no, I don't suppose you do yet... Well, you do have some hair, but it's not as long as mine yet. Give it time."

Suddenly the Doctor felt his jacket sleeve become rather damp. He frowned and looked down at Harry.

"Eww!!!" Dawn shrieked. "Momma, Harry wet himself!"

"And the Doctor," Minnie giggled.

"Yucky," Rachel grimaced. The Doctor held Harry at army's length.

"Minnie, go change Harry for me?" Amy received her child from the now slightly panicking Doctor and handed him to Minnie. The little girl promptly carried Harry carefully away.

"Don't worry, Doctor," Amy reassured as she helped the Doctor out of his jacket. "It can be washed. You can wear one of Rory's shirts while yours is cleaned." She smiled at him. "Go on. Dawn, Rachel, can you help the Doctor find a fresh shirt?"

The Doctor, keeping the wet part of his sleeve from his skin like it was a contagious disease, followed the girls out of the bedroom. Rory watched them pass as he joined Amy in the bedroom.

"Well," Amy replaced the paper. "I think that went well."

"You do?" Rory's eyebrows lifted. "I'm not sure this is a good idea."

"Nonsense," Amy smiled at him. "It went well. The kids love him."

"Amy the man is borderline panicking," Rory stated. "Do you really think he can handle them? For a whole day?"

"He'll be fine," Amy nodded. She kissed Rory. "Come on, let's make sure the Doctor finds something to wear."

The Doctor had indeed been able to find a fresh shirt. The girls had been quite helpful. They encouraged him in his selections, saying it matched his eyes, or it was just the right fit. Rachel was positive no matter what the Doctor showed them, but Dawn was a little more critical in a helpful way.

Minnie returned with a cleaned up Harry, and Amy gave the Doctor a tour of the house and babysitting instructions. The Doctor forced himself to look positive, but inside he was worried. A night and day with four children. Never had he been entrusted with young children by himself before. He was beginning to wonder if there had been a very good reason for that.

"So, do you think you can handle them?" Amy asked at the end of the tour. "If the girls get too annoying or something, you can sleep in our room with Harry. He sleeps pretty well. We have a baby monitor in the girls' bedroom so you'll know when he cries."

"Don't worry, Amy," the Doctor smiled, "we'll be fine. What could go wrong?"

Amy smiled and kissed his cheek.

"See you tomorrow night," she promised. Pretty soon, she and Rory were driving down the road. The Doctor held Harry (assured he wouldn't wet himself again) with the girls around him.

"So," he turned to the girls, "What do you all want to do?"

"What is that?" Dawn pointed to the TARDIS.

"That's my TARDIS," the Doctor replied. "But we can't ride in it right now. Come on. Let's make supper."

Making supper turned out to be quite the fun adventure. After settling Harry in his chair and rolling up his sleeves, the Doctor faced the kitchen appliances. The girls tied on their little aprons and gave the Doctor Amy's flowery apron.

"Mum says we should have pasta tonight," Minnie told him. She looked at the Doctor suspiciously. "Do you know how to make pasta?"

"Of course I do," the Doctor looked miffed. "I know everything." He turned to Rachel and pointed at her. "Grab the pasta." Rachel hurried to pantry. The Doctor pointed at Dawn. "Find me a big pot." Dawn went rummaging through the cupboards. The Doctor pointed to Harry. "Sit there and look cute." Harry babbled. The Doctor looked at Minnie, who stood with her hands crossed. "Find me the meatballs."

***

Ten minutes later, the Doctor had dumped the pasta into boiling water when they were done he spread the noodles into a casserole pan and set the girls to place the meatballs on top while he poured the sauce over the entire concoction.

"I don't think that's how it's supposed to go," Minnie said skeptically as Dawn and Rachel dutifully watched the pasta and meatballs in the oven.

"Of course it is," the Doctor replied. "Haven't you ever made pasta with meatballs before?"

"I've watched Mum," Minnie replied. "She doesn't do it like that."

"Well how else do we put the meatballs and sauce on the pasta?" the Doctor sniffed. He looked at Harry, who was busy playing with wooden cars. "Hungry, Harry?"

"Hawwy doesn't eat pasta," Rachel turned. "He's too wittle."

"Oh," the Doctor frowned. "What does Harry eat?"

"I'll get it," Minnie sighed and entered the pantry, as if the Doctor was completely incompetent and it had been obvious that Harry ate something else. She came out with dry cereal. "He eats these."

"But no milk," Dawn added.

"I'm hungry," Rachel complained. "Is the pasta almost done?"

"Yes, yes," the Doctor hurried to the stove. "Sit down, girls. Grab plates and silverware."

When the Doctor put the casserole pan on hot pads, he and the girls sat down to eat. Minnie gave Harry a handful of cereal, which he attacked with abandon.

"How do we get the pasta?" Dawn asked. Minnie looked expectantly at the Doctor.

"You just dig it out," the Doctor demonstrated with a knife. He cut a square of pasta, sauce and meatballs and placed it on Rachel's plate. "See?" Rachel looked awed.

"Mum has a separate bowl for the sauce," Minnie said as the Doctor slid another piece onto her plate.

"Well that's boring," the Doctor answered as he helped Dawn. "That's just more work." He helped himself to pasta. "Dig in!"

The girls found the meal delicious. Even Minnie admitted it was yummy. And despite her objections, the Doctor gave Harry a bite of meatball. The baby refused to eat any more of his cereal, and wanted only meatballs.

"Don't give him more," Minnie scolded. "He'll get sick." The Doctor looked almost guilty. Harry, however, was busy wolfing down his fourth meatball.

When the dishes were washed and put away, the Doctor tried to convince the girls it was bedtime.

"No it's not," Rachel looked at him like he was teasing.

"We get to stay up until eight-thirty," Minnie said. "But Harry and Rachel have to go to bed at seven."

"Well that's rubbish," the Doctor stated, recovering himself. His tone like one who thought the rule was ridiculous. "What do you do?"

"We play games," Dawn answered. "Sometimes Momma reads to us, or Daddy."

"Can we have a piggy-back ride?" Rachel touched the Doctor's arm shyly. The Doctor looked at her, then smiled.

The Doctor had managed to seat all four little Ponds on his back before someone got hurt. Dawn, who was at the back, slipped off as they went around a corner. She hit her head on the edge of the coffee table.

"We have a girl down!" The Doctor turned. "Dismount, dismount!"

The Doctor hurried to the sobbing little girl and lifted her into his arms and sat down on the sofa.

"Now, don't cry. Let's see." The Doctor examined Dawn's head. "Hush now, sweetheart, it's not so bad. Hey?" The Doctor cupped her face in his hands and smiled. "No blood or anything."

"I want Mummy," Dawn sniffled. "I miss her. And Daddy."

"I know," the Doctor soothed, rocking Dawn gently and stroking her hair. "Your parents will be back before you know it." He glanced at the clock. "Why don't I tell you all a story before bedtime?"

"Yes!" The children cried excitedly.

"I'll tell you a story about your mum and dad," the Doctor began. "Gather around. Harry, you can sit here." The Doctor pulled Harry up beside him. Rachel clambered up on the other side, and Minnie nestled down beside Harry. Dawn rested her head on the Doctor's shoulder, still sniffing from time to time.

"I'll tell you a story about when they went to a place called Venice," the Doctor began. "This was the day before they got married... sort of."

"Sort of?" Minnie queried.

"It's complicated," the Doctor said exasperatedly. "Now hush. I took your parents to Venice before they were married. Now your mum had already gone traveling with me for a while, but it was your dad's first time going. But we weren't there long before there was trouble..."


The Doctor lowered Dawn into bed and pulled the blankets to her chin. She turned and mumbled in her sleep.

"Into bed, Rachel," the Doctor whispered, scooping the little girl up and placing her in bed. "Sleep well, little Pond."

Rachel giggled. The Doctor smiled and tapped her nose before turning to Minnie, who had just entered after putting Harry to bed.

"Sleep well, Minnie," he said as he helped her into bed. He kissed her forehead lightly.

"You too," Minnie whispered. "Thank you for telling us the story, even though Dawn and Harry fell asleep."

"You're welcome," the Doctor replied with a smile. "You just go to sleep now."

The Doctor eased into the little bed. He was too tall for it, but it was comfortable. However, he had trouble sleeping. He missed the sounds his TARDIS made that quieted his active mind.

Instead, he learned that night that Rachel snored and the meatballs had come back to haunt him in the form of Harry's upset stomach.

****

The next morning, the Doctor found himself in Amy and Rory's bed beside Harry, who had finally stopped crying and had drifted off to sleep. The Doctor couldn't remember much of the past few hours, though.

The girls were already up and dressed. After placing Harry in his high chair the Doctor plugged in the griddle and tied on Amy's apron.

"What are you doing?" Dawn asked as the Doctor molded a cookie cutter with his sonic screwdriver. Minnie glanced their way before flipping pancakes.

"Watch," he answered mischievously. He grabbed a hot pancake and put it on Dawn's plate. He pressed the cookie cutter into the pancake and tore away the edges, leaving the shape the cutter made.

"What is it?" Rachel asked. "It looks funny."

"It's a Dalek," the Doctor said proudly.

"What's a Daw-lik?" Dawn asked, poking her pancake.

"They're... well..." The Doctor looked flustered. "Uh, it's... oh, look!" The Doctor jumped to his feet in alarm. "A double-sided green-snouted fork tail!"

All four children spun around toward the window.

"I don't see it," Rachel sounded disappointed. "Maybe it's still there?"

"You must have startled it," the Doctor said.

"Pancakes are ready!" Minnie announced. The Doctor helped her pile plates high with hotcakes, then drizzled each plate generously with syrup and the dusting of powdered sugar.

After breakfast, the Doctor tried to dress Harry. But the baby boy refused to hold still. Even with Minnie's help, the best they could do was put one sock on.

"Come back here!" The Doctor scrambled after Harry on his hands and knees as the little boy toddled away surprisingly quickly. Rachel and Dawn jumped him and knocked him over, shouting at Harry to keep running. The Doctor, smiling, gave up.

The rest of the day wavered between a good time and a perfect nightmare. The Doctor enjoyed playing with the kids, but he was exhausted too quickly. He had met his match with the offspring of Amy and Rory.

"Don't drink those!!!" The Doctor exclaimed in horror as he scooped Harry out from under the kitchen sink and among the cleaning fluids. He turned in time to see Dawn reaching over the hot stove for the cupboard.

"No, don't!" The Doctor put Harry down and plucked Dawn off the stool. "You could fall on the stove! Where's your sister?"

"Rachel's looking at your pretty blue box," Dawn replied.

"She what?!" The Doctor rushed to the window to see Rachel and Minnie entering the TARDIS.

"No! No no no no!"

The Doctor bolted outside. Dawn hurried behind, carrying Harry. The three entered the TARDIS.

"It's pretty big," Minnie said, looking at the Doctor. "How's it work? D'you have a key?"

"Yes. No. Kind of," the Doctor scowled. "What are you doing? You're not supposed to be in here!"

"Mum and Dad have been in here," Minnie shrugged. "So I can too."

"It doesn't work like that!"

"I'm a Pond," Minnie put her hands on her hips. Very Amy. "Ponds get what they want."

This girl had some sass.

"Can we go someplace?" Rachel asked. "Pwease? Just before supper?"

"I want to see Venice!" Dawn exclaimed. "When Mum and Daddy were there!"

"Way too dangerous!" The Doctor crossed his arms, facing all four children. "I told your parents we wouldn't use the TARDIS."

"They don't have to know," Minnie stated. The Doctor blinked. Then he smiled.

"A compromise!" He declared. "We will use the TARDIS, but we won't go anywhere."

"That's boring."

"Now wait, just listen," the Doctor picked up Harry. "Run along and fetch your swimsuits. Hurry up."

"Are we going swimming?" Dawn asked excitedly. "Does the TARDIS have a pool?"

"Yes it does," the Doctor replied, shepherding the girls back inside the house. "A big one."

Soon the Pond girls and Harry were outfitted with bathing suits and were back in the TARDIS. It took a few wrong turns to get to the pool, but when they arrived the Doctor set them loose, complete with water wings and other inflated items.

"Swim with us, Doctor!" Dawn shrieked as Minnie pushed a wave of water at her. "Please!"

"Nah," the Doctor smiled. He sat down by the edge. "I'll just watch."

Harry burbled.

"No, Harry, I'm not chicken," the Doctor looked insulted. "Nobody needs to see me swimming like a chicken, is all."

"Chickens can swim?" Rachel giggled.

"No," Minnie reproved. She looked at the Doctor. "Can you swim, Doctor?"

"Yes."

"Then why don't you? What's the use of a big pool if you don't use it?"

"I use it, sometimes," the Doctor said. "Don't go that far, Minnie!"

"Why?" Minnie looked at him, at the edge of the steep drop off a third of the way down the pool.

"That's too deep!" Dawn told her. "I saw it. It's dark and scary."

Harry giggled.

"Harry, be nice," the Doctor leaned back on his hands. "She's right. It's a bit of a glitchy pool. Sometimes it's all the same, other times there's this gaping chasm. Always a bit scary."

The Pond children splashed and squealed for a long while before Minnie reminded the Doctor of supper. Leaving Minnie in charge the Doctor scrambled back to the house.

He saved supper, and then returned to fetch the children.

His first hint of danger was that absence of laughter as he walked to the pool.

The second was Rachel's scream of terror and Harry's wailing cry.

The Doctor burst into the pool room.

"Minnie went swimming to the deep end!" Dawn sobbed. "She said she'd be careful, and she'd hang on to the edge, but she slipped when she was coming back and she isn't coming up!"

"Everyone get out of the pool!" The Doctor shouted. He tossed his screwdriver and a blank wallet into the hall before he jumped into the water on the deep end.

The water was cold, and dark. The Doctor found the edge and dove deeper. He swung his hand around, searching for the little girl.

His hand found nothing. The Doctor dove further. His ears popped, and his lungs burned, despite his hearts working away. He should have taken a deeper breath.

No. He had to find Minnie. She was in his care, and he wouldn't let her drown.

Because that would be bad. And Amy would kill him.

The Doctor's hand brushed against Minnie's head. He swam deeper and looped his arm under hers and kicked himself up.

His lungs were screaming. How far had they gone?

The Doctor and Minnie broke the surface. The Doctor coughed, gasped, choked, inhaled, and coughed again. He gripped the edge of the pool with his free hand and used the edge to pull himself to the shallow end and out of the pool. He carried Minnie out and put her on the floor.

"Come on, Minnie, breathe!" The Doctor rasped, pumping Minnie's chest. The little girl lay motionless.

"Is she okay?" Dawn asked from the doorway, where she, Rachel, and Harry stood.

"She'll be fine," the Doctor said. He pushed back his dripping hair and pumped again. "Come on, Minnie, breathe!"

Minnie didn't breathe.

"No," the Doctor whispered. His face contorted and he pumped harder. "Breathe, sweetheart! Breathe!"

"Minnie?" Rachel called. "You otay?"

Harry whimpered.

"No, Harry, she's not dead!" The Doctor snapped. "She won't die. Nobody's dying when I'm around-"

Minnie coughed and spewed water in the Doctor's face. The Doctor spluttered.

"Easy, easy," the Doctor soothed as Minnie coughed and pulled in raspy breaths. Between frightened tears she reached for him, and the Doctor gathered her in his arms.

"It's alright," he said. "You're okay now." He looked at the others. "Come over, little Ponds."

Minnie turned her head as her siblings joined them by the poolside. She smiled as Harry touched her arm.

"I'm okay," she whispered, her voice hoarse. She looked at the Doctor. "Thank you, Doctor."

"It's what I do," the Doctor smiled. "I save people." He looked at them all. "But let's not tell your mum or dad about this, eh?"

"Sure," Minnie giggled.

***

After getting everyone dried off and into their pajamas, the Doctor served up ice-cream sundaes for dinner (because their original dinner of lamb had burned).

While they watched The Lion King, Minnie curled up on the Doctor's stomach where he lay on the sofa.

"Thank you for saving me, Doctor," she whispered.

The Doctor smiled and rubbed her back gently.

"You're welcome," he replied. "But next time, listen to what I tell you. I may be a crazy old man, but I do know some things."

"Yes sir," Minnie said quietly, her voice sleepy. "I'm sorry."

"I know you are," the Doctor smiled and kissed her head.

When Amy and Rory came home, they found their three youngest lying in front of the television, five empty sundae bowls stacked on the coffee table, and the Doctor sprawled out on the sofa with Minnie sleeping on top of him. The Lion King was almost over.

"What happened?" Amy stared at the scene. "Did he just pump them full of sugar and let them conk out in front of the TV?"

"That's what it looks like," Rory said. "They all look like they've been swimming."

"The TARDIS has a swimming pool," Amy replied.

Rory grabbed a blanket and spread it over the three youngest sleepers while Amy spread another over Minnie and the Doctor.

"Good-night, raggedy man," she whispered, placing a feather light kiss on his forehead.

***

The Doctor jolted awake with a shout.

"Whoa, easy!" Amy shouted over him, hands on his shoulders. "It's okay, Doctor."

The Doctor looked around himself quickly, taking in the TARDIS's surroundings.

"Where are they?!" The Doctor exclaimed, sitting upright.

"Where are who?" Amy frowned.

"Oh, you're back!" The Doctor looked at Amy, then at Rory. "When did you get here?"

"When did we... we've been here for as long as you have," Amy looked at Rory for help.

"You were probably dreaming," Rory suggested.

"No, no it wasn't a dream," the Doctor stood shakily. "There was the pool, the meatballs, the little...." The Doctor stopped, remembering what had really happened.

"No, it was a dream," he said, his voice calm, almost sad. "Yes, just a dream."

"Are you sure you're alright, Doctor?" Amy asked cautiously. "You passed out right after we got in the TARDIS. We couldn't wake you up."

"Yes, I'm fine," the Doctor turned, smiling. "Perfectly." He flipped a switch. "Brilliantly." He pressed a fat green button. "Fine!"

Amy smiled. Rory did too.

The Doctor smiled at them both and turned back to the controls.

Amy turned to Rory.

"We have to get him to a doctor," she said, her smile gone. "What just happened... that was weird."

"He's fine, Amy," Rory assured her. "It's been a busy week. He's just tired. Trying to get him to see a doctor would be a nightmare."

The Doctor heard them, but he pretended not to. He fiddled with a dial. Images of the little Ponds made him smile. But there was also a twinge of sadness. They weren't even real, but somehow he loved them.

The Doctor moved a screen in Amy's direction, but only he could see the results on the screen.

The same thing. Positive. Negative. Positive. Negative.

The Doctor wasn't sure whether to be happy or concerned. Either a little Minnie was on the way, or there was trouble...

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