Standard disclaimers. Thanks to Erica, Krypto and Emma for beta help for the last 12 chapters. TOTALLY didn't mean for this to get epic.

Thanks for sticking around this long. Got some plans for the future involving Captain Jack and, because I am not above giving in to peer pressure… an eventual happy ending for two of our characters. I shant say who. Use your imagination.

XYZ

Trolley Park Murders

Chapter 12

XYZ

After a few moments, Ellen joined Violet on the ramp. The older girl picked away bits of dirt from her boot, thinking. "How old are you, anyway?"

Violet frowned, not sure why anyone would ask. "Seven years and three months and ten days. Why?"

Ellen frowned, still not venturing toward eye contact. "You…seem older. So does the Doctor. Where are you from? Are you human?"

That hung in the air for a moment. Pushing her dark blonde frazzled hair away from her face, Violet shrugged. "He's like ninety-billion or something. Which is far too old, I think. I'm from earth." She almost said 'just not this earth,' but other dimensions and such were SO beyond the scope of this conversation. "He's from… I don't know. Some place else. We never really talked about it." Mostly because Violet didn't want to. Of course, it wasn't like he just gave information away about himself anyway.

She messed with her skirts, rubbing off smudges, but was only succeeding in grinding the soot into the fabric. Still, it was something for her hands to do, and something for her to look at, since she and Ellen were playing that game. "He says he's a 'Time Lord' or something equally stuffy and silly. I'm supposed to be one too, but I think I'm human, and he's playing a big joke on me." Her shoulders rose and fell again. "I don't know why anyone'd want to be anything other than plain old human anyway."

Though she could think of a few reasons, Ellen didn't say anything. Humanity seemed very important to the girl beside her, so she didn't question it. She wanted to ask about the ship, but she refrained. "What about your mother?"

Violet looked up at the domed ceiling and smiled, thinking of her mother. "Prettiest, funniest and best lady in the universe." As far as Violet was concerned, the sun rose and set beneath her mother's feet. Always had, always would. "She just…knew me. I never had to explain myself. I was never acting too strange for her. And everything I did made her happy. Well, unless it made her cross." She let out a spontaneous, awkward laugh. "She always knew, though. There wasn't any hiding or pretending or making excuses. She'd tell me I'd done wrong, and life would go on." Her mum was never afraid to tell her she was full of it.

"That's how mothers are," Ellen said wisely.

Suddenly Violet realized just how very difficult it had been, fitting in at school, and how ill-adjusted she was to the types of interpersonal game-playing that went on there. She never knew if what her teachers said was what they meant, and she always felt like they were judging her when they used that sugary sweet tone of voice. "I wish she could have come with me. I know she misses him." She pointed to the door. "What about you? How come you're not pitching a fit about all this?"

Ellen's eyes finally met hers, the smallest smile forming on her lips. "That is just assuming I choose to believe any of this."

"Point. I wouldn't believe me either."

XYZ

The Doctor frantically dug through the rubble, ignoring the pain in his head and sides (and everywhere else, for that matter). He stepped over what was too heavy to move and tossed aside the rest, stumbling around in a dark that was only broken by flicker fires burning outside, muttering the same thing over and over. "Please be as clever as I think you are…don't be human…don't be human…"

Elephants were trumpeting and large cats howling in some other part of the building and he could actually hear the sound of the fire, so he knew things weren't looking good for the park. "Don't be human…"

He was hip-deep in cement that he continually had to climb over and around. The roof had been wood, and so that in itself he could actually move. The metal was still hot and so he avoided dealing with it at all costs.

"Where are they!" the angry woman's voice rang out through the gutted cavernous space. It wasn't just anger at him that he heard there, but the type of fear that only a parent can feel for her child. The Doctor could sympathize…later.

Climbing over two more up-ended slabs, the Doctor made it to the half-covered blue box. Pulling away a large sheet of wood, he found part of the door and began pounding on the opaque glass furiously. "PLEASE be as clever as I think you are…"

Stopping, he listened. A few seconds later he was rewarded with a tiny pound back. He pounded one more time. "Who's in there?" he called out loudly.

It came as a tiny, muffled reply, stifled by the door of the ship and the debris. "Violet and Ellen, Doctor! The door is stuck!"

Without thinking, he kissed the glass. "You brilliant, clever children. And you wonderful, beautiful ship!" Remembering the angry lady who wanted his head, he turned back. "They're in here! They're both in here!"

Tossing pieces of wood away from the door, he could see the keyhole just above several slightly glowing pieces of metal. "Just a mo," he called to the girls. "Almost there…" Finding a mostly undamaged beam, he used the end of it to push the scraps around until he'd cleared enough room for the external censors to stop detecting immediate heat and shrapnel dangers and allow him to open one of the doors.

XYZ

When the door finally opened towards them, Violet shot out, practically tackling the Doctor. She grabbed him about the neck and held on for dear life, until he told her to mind the skull. And the ribs. And the everything else. She settled for grabbing hold of his arm with both hands and not letting go.

Ellen came out next, and the Doctor quickly yanked the door closed before anyone could see inside.

The girl's mother called out from the other side of the debris, about twenty feet away. She began trying to work her way around the easiest of it to maneuver, but her clothing was hardly conducive to the circumstance. "Ellen!"

The child almost got ahead of herself and the Doctor had to pull her away from falling over an uneven piece of cement. It was slow going with two other people in tow, but he got them over the rubble.

The smell of smoke was growing thicker through the park, and the sound of howling animals was growing further away. They all really did need to get out soon. Managing to make it over the last large slab, the Doctor let go of Ellen's hand as her mother grabbed her.

Behind them, he could see two more people approaching. The Doctor nodded. "The rest of your family's here." He looked down at Ellen and spoke only to her. "The main entrance should be clear. You can get out there."

The girl's mother was so thrilled to have her child back that she momentarily forgot her distain for the Doctor, Violet noted. The woman was asking where the two of them would be going, if not out the front. The Doctor made their excuses.

Violet grabbed Ellen's hand. "Thank you. I really mean it. Maybe… maybe I'll see you around?"

A sad frown spread across the child's face. "Maybe…not." She looked past Violet, to the blue box. "I liked it when we were on the rides. But the rest of this… If it's always like this… I don't think I want to ever see you again." As some sort of sad consolation prize, she hugged Violet. "I'm still your friend, though."

Violet let the Doctor pull her away, back towards the box. She didn't turn around, though, until Ellen and her family were out of sight.

XYZ

The Doctor let out a howling screech. "I think you're supposed to put that on something! Not just dump it straight on!"

Violet stopped pouring the peroxide on the head wound. "It works better this way. Look, I got all the dirt out!"

"Nurse Ratchet!"

Still standing on a kitchen chair, Violet put the bottle down on the table. "I've gotten lots of scrapes," she said authoritatively, and then went back to digging around in his hair. "I think that's skull." The declaration was very detached and scientific. "It's a wonder you didn't bleed to death. So how am I supposed to close this up?"

Sighing, the Doctor prodded the wounds beneath his ripped up shirt. "Don't worry about that now, if it's stopped. I think I still have some wood in here."

Hopping off of the chair, Violet pulled the shirt away from the dried blood. "I think you have a whole FOREST in there." Gently pulling the worst of it out, she grabbed the peroxide bottle again. They'd have to bust open another package soon. "So… what happened? The marshal didn't get away, did he?"

The Doctor winced as she flushed the wounds. "Everything's taken care of." Not wanting to go further, he let out another dramatic moan.

"Baby."

"Torturer." The Doctor looked her over as she played nurse. She didn't appear too much worse for the wear. Some scrapes on her hands, dirtier than a chimney sweep, but still mostly whole. The frown twisting up her brow was not from physical malady. "Am I still a git?" Only thing he could think of. They'd saved the day—heck—even the cute, furry but slightly deadly animals made it out alright. It had to be him.

Violet shrugged. "I dunno."

Sighing, he shook his head, but even that caused his side to hurt. "You were right, ok? I'd only stopped to give Plazus a hard time, once I found his advertisement beacon. That wasn't right of me, no matter what he'd done, or I'd thought he'd done."

Shaking her head, Violet inspected the gashes. They looked pretty clear. "Ellen said something."

When she didn't go further with the statement, the Doctor tried to nudge her. "I thought you two worked pretty well together. You picked a good one."

The girl's lips were pressed tightly together, her face twisted in concentration. "She said we were still friends, but she never wanted to see me ever again."

The Doctor wished that he had some wise words, something learned from nearly a millennia of traveling through time and space and interfering with people's lives. But he didn't. Because he'd been told that a time or two himself, and he knew just how badly it stung. He couldn't imagine how it must feel to someone her age, when every emotion was so immediate and overwhelming.

So he did the sensible thing and put an arm around her, trying not to visibly make his discomfort clear. "Some people don't know what to make of all this. And so…they give what they can. Friendship from afar is way better than a knock to the head, you know." He rested his chin upon her hair. "It doesn't make them any worse than anyone else. We have our place, and they have theirs. We try to keep things in some semblance of order, and they live out their lives."

The thought of Rose, living her life in some other dimension without him suddenly pervaded his mind. There were times when it hurt less; now was not one of those times. "When you find someone that understands this, and understands you… don't ever take them for granted."

The girl nodded. "I thought… I don't know. We got along and everything." Which was far more than she'd ever accomplished with anyone else her own age.

He squeezed her close to him, open wounds be damned. "They might be in your life for a minute, or for a lifetime. We get what the Universe gives us. And we go on from there."

XYZ

It had taken a hot shower, two cups of tea and two Bunny stories before she'd fallen asleep. She'd been tired since he'd sent the TARDIS on her way, hopefully to some place a bit less…physically taxing.

Still sitting on the bed with an arm around her, the Doctor simply watched the rise and fall of that tiny chest.

His own cup of tea was still sitting on the nightstand. He reached over for it and winced. The wound was healing; now that it was cleared out of debris and other bits of loveliness, it'd take care of itself, but moving was going to be uncomfortable for a while.

Finishing the cold bit in the bottom, he held onto the cup for a moment, just looking at it. It took some resolve, but he slid the arm out from under her, dragging himself quietly to his feet. Pulling the blanket up to her chin, he turned on the night-light and killed the lamp.

Walking over to the shelves on the other side of the bed, he put the unused ride tickets next to some of her other souvenirs, looking over the collection. He'd need to put up more shelves if this kept up.

She sighed, her head rubbing against the pillow as she snuggled in further for the night. The Doctor stopped and watched her for a moment. She had her mother's soft lips and long eyelashes. The lips were parted just a bit and her eyelashes were resting against her full cheeks. He'd been joking when he'd said she was cuter when she was sleeping, but there'd been some truth to it. There was an angelic peace there; no worries about who she was, where she was from, or who she was to become. There were only the types of dreams little girls should have. He hoped they were filled with magic and ponies and any other wonderful things she could think of. She deserved that much.

Stopping in the doorway, he almost couldn't bring himself to leave. The Doctor didn't know how long she'd be in his life. More than a moment, he should think; she'd managed that already. But he knew it wouldn't be a lifetime, neither a human nor Time Lord lifetime.

Closing the door behind him, he wandered back to the control room, staring at the tea-stained cup. He wouldn't have her forever. He only hoped he could prepare her for that day, and wondered what he'd do with himself when she left.

THE END.

A/N: The park wasn't open for that long, but it really did burn to the ground in real life, but I think it happened in the middle of winter. There's a bar there, now and a beer distributor. It's kind of sad, really.

They were called trolley parks because they were usually at the end of a trolley line or at a junction, and run by the trolley companies. The idea was that people would ride the trolley, if there was a destination. Worked fairly well till there was market saturation with the parks and the trolley lines began to dry up. And that's your history lesson for today.

Yup…another useless fact that won't save you from a zombie attack, so I'll give you a piece of advice: aim for the head.