Bedtime Story

"A little bird told me a story, once..."

"A talking bird?" Alice interrupted.

Rose hesitated. "Yes Alice, a talking bird." She looked back at the open story book and began again. "A little bird told..."

"Like a parrot?"

Rose's brow furrowed slightly. "No, not like a parrot. Parrots just repeat stuff. This bird was very clever, it could..."

"Parrots are clever," Alice said indignantly. "My teacher said so."

"Did she?"

Alice nodded. "And they can do tricks. They can hang upside down and ride little bikes and push little carts and... and..." the little girl's eyes grew as wide as saucers. "When Gran and Grandad took me to the zoo they had lots of parrots there."

"Yes," Rose said, leaning forward and brushing a lock of Alice's brown hair behind her ear. "I remember you telling me."

"One parrot kept making noises like a mobile phone an' everyone kept checking to see if their phone was ringing. Grandad checked his three times." She giggled. "That was funny!"

Rose smiled as Alice beamed a new-toothy grin. "I imagine it was."

"Pirates had parrots," Alice said, as though she was an authority on the subject.

Rose nodded her head. "Yes, some pirates had parrots."

"But not all of them?" Alice asked.

"No, I don't think so."

Alice's tongue slipped to the corner of her mouth as she thought for a moment. "So what did the pirates who didn't have parrots have instead?"

"Er... monkeys."

Alice frowned, clearly thinking hard. "What did the monkeys eat?"

"Well, they probably ate bananas."

"I like bananas," Alice informed her mother.

"Rose smiled. "I know you do."

"Bananas are fantastic."

Rose sat further back in her chair and smiled at Alice. She hadn't heard that word in a while, but lately Alice had adopted it as her new favourite word and was using it just as often as her father once had.

"Yes," she agreed. "They are."

Alice wriggled in her bed, trying to get comfortable. "Where did the pirates get the bananas to feed the monkeys?" she asked.

Rose looked to the ceiling then back to her daughter. "I imagine the pirates who had parrots trained them to fly out and collect the bananas for the monkeys."

Alice thought about it then nodded. "Yes, that makes sense."

Rose tried not to smile. "Good." She looked back at the book lying open in her lap.

"Some pirates had wooden legs," Alice said with a yawn.

Rose looked up. "Yes," she said softly. "I heard that too."

"Did their legs get eaten by crocodiles?"

"Crocodiles?" Rose asked in surprise.

"Like the one who was always chasing Captain Hook," Alice explained.

"Oh," Rose said. "You mean the crocodile in Peter Pan."

"Hmmm..." Alice sighed.

"I suppose it's possible."

Alice's eyelids were growing heavy. "They should have thrown bananas at them."

Rose frowned. "Who should have?"

Alice yawned. "The monkeys."

"The monkeys should have thrown bananas at the crocodiles?"

"Mmm..."

"Why?"

"Stop them from eating all the pirates legs," Alice murmured. "If the crocodiles were full up on bananas they wouldn't have been hungry an' wouldn't have eaten anyone's legs." Alice snuggled deeper into the softness of her bed.

Rose closed the book. "You're probably right."

Alice didn't answer.

Rose watched her for a little while then switched off the bedside lamp, put the story book back on the shelf and left Alice to her dreams.

oOo

Jackie looked up as Rose walked into the room. "She asleep?"

"Yeah."

"Did you tell her a bedtime story?"

Rose shook her head and dropped down onto the sofa next to her Mum. "She told me one instead." She smiled happily and kicked off her shoes. "Hers are always better than mine anyway." She glanced over to the armchair by the fire, where the Doctor was fast asleep, an open book -- Time Travel For Dummies -- was in his lap. "I see he's been reading a bedtime story too."

Jackie rolled her eyes. "He's mad that one. He's been talking in his sleep. Wittering on about pirates and bananas."

Rose continued to watch the Doctor sleep, her grin getting wider. "Like father, like daughter," she said.

"Parrots," the Doctor murmured.