At three years old, Freya had designed and built an entire miniature city, made almost completely out of blocks and oversized Lego's. The dimensions of every structure had been absolutely perfect; from the working clock tower at city hall, to the bouncy castle set up in a local playground. Rose and her husband had been on their way to collect their daughter for supper, and found her surrounded by two-foot high skyscrapers, and trees made out of popsicle sticks. She'd stood there stunned, as Time Agent Barbie discussed the moral consequences of disturbing the space time continuum with a miniature K9. "NEVER cross your own timeline," Barbie had warned the tiny metal dog in Freya's most authoritative voice, "it can get you in lots of trouble."
Rose had been too shocked to say anything at first; pride and fear warring in her mind as the very task of raising this child seemed ever more impossible. Eventually she'd just settled on humor as a fallback, flippantly blurting out the first quip that came to mind. "She must get this from your side of the family, yeah?"
The Doctor had turned to look at his wife, beaming with unmitigated pride and love. "Oh no," he'd answered softly, "the mathematical and technical genius required to make this," he gestured to the massive structure, "she obviously gets from me." Rose had just rolled her eyes. "But the dreams, Rose," he'd continued, complete awe lacing every word, "the imagination of it… that is so human."
Two years and three months later, Rose Tyler was once again confronted with her little girl's unique brand of humanity. Imagination Freya may have had in droves, but Rose never met a child from Earth who could conjure up their pretend friends, regardless of how hard they believed in them. Still keeping an eye on the impossible figure beyond the mirror's glassy surface, Rose sat on the wardrobe room's metallic floor; gently rocking Freya back and forth in her arms as the her daughter's fever slowly rose again. For the first time since that day she and the Doctor had found her miniature city, Rose began to doubt her ability to raise the child of a Time Lord. There were so many things she didn't understand about her baby girl, so many things she couldn't understand. And soon it was going to be even harder...
Swallowing down most of the panic and quickly blinking back a few stinging tears, Rose shifted the little girl in her arms. She needed to get Freya away from her juvenile construct in the mirror and back into bed. Falling to pieces really wasn't an option just yet.
Struggling to stand with the uncooperative little burden in her arms, Rose stopped a moment later when Freya let out a quiet moan. Little arms wrapped around her neck, as a tiny flushed face cuddled more closely into Rose's cotton shirt. "I want daddy," she pleaded, before letting out another hacking cough. "He said he was going to make me better. I hurt all over again." Her little voice broke as her luminous brown eyes filled with tears. "When's he coming back?"
"Anytime now, sweetheart," Rose answered automatically, offering up the brightest smile she could muster. "He and Tyler just have to make sure they've got the perfect medicine to fix you up, and then they're going to pop right back home."
Freya nodded, causing two little tears to escape down her freckled cheeks. Rose reached up to wipe them away, but stopped mid-motion, startled by a sudden change in the TARDIS's vibration. "You see," she said, offering up a smile a million times more genuine than the one before, we've entered the vortex. You know what that means?"
Freya weakly mirrored her mother's jubilant expression. "Daddy's home!"
The Doctor ran up the spiral staircase two steps at a time, his son close at his heels. It had taken Tyler no longer than thirty seconds to connect his conscious mind with his mother's, and therefore pinpoint Rose and Freya's exact location. What trouble they could have gotten themselves into in the wardrobe room was anyone's guess, but he couldn't seem to shake the nagging sense of foreboding he'd felt upon finding them missing. And come to think of it, his girls did tend to be rather jeopardy-friendly.
The ancient door opened with nary a creak and every muscle in the doctor's body took a giant sigh of relief. His wife and daughter were huddled on the floor in front of the full length mirror. Both blondes looked up with matching grins of greeting. Little Freya's arms came up to demand he fill them.
His wet trainers slid across the metallic surface with a little squelch as the Doctor slid to his knees before them, quickly gathering his daughter against his chest. She wrapped herself around him, burrowing her little face into his collar and securing her knees above his narrow hips. "I missed you."
"I missed you too, poppet." He replied, rocking her back and forth for a moment, while keeping his eyes locked with Rose's. "Hello," he said, reaching out to squeeze her hand and offering an apologetic smile. "Sorry we're late, ran into a bit of a squall actually."
Tyler took that moment to make himself known, joining his family on the floor and offering up a smirk. "Squall is a too weak a word to describe monsoon season on a flood plane." The Doctor cast his son a stern look, shaking his head slightly. "But we're fine!" Tyler quickly added. "Never better. No worries here." He moved to embrace Rose in a tight hug, kissing her gently on the cheek. "You okay, mum?"
Rose used the heel of her hand to carefully wipe underneath each eye, obviously trying desperately to regain her usual composure. "As long as you've come back with what you left for. You do have the medicine?"
"'Course I do," the Doctor replied, his tone light and jovial. "I couldn't let my girls down, now could I?"
Freya smiled into his neck, only to pull back a moment later, her little face scrunched up worriedly. "Is it going to taste yucky?"
Tyler stifled a laugh, but the Doctor ignored him. "No," he denied emphatically. "What would make you think a thing like that, hmm? Have you done something particularly naughty to warrant such a punishment?" Freya just shook her head, eyes wide. "Then there's no reason to suffer yucky medicine. We're going to mix it with your tea and add a whole spoonful of sugar."
"Like Mary Poppins?"
"Yes," he replied, giving her an affectionate kiss on the brow. "Exactly like Mary Poppins."
The heat transferring to the Doctor's lips from Freya's usually cool skin was alarming and it spurred him into action. "I think," he said, still holding Freya in his arms as he rose to his feet, "that we should get this medicine into you sooner, rather than later."
The Doctor made towards the wardrobe room's only exit, Rose and Tyler following close behind. "Wait!" Freya's emphatic plea stopped all three of them in their tracks. "I can't leave her alone."
The Doctor looked back at Rose, who was wearily pushing two fingers into her forehead. "Mummy's coming with us, poppet," he told his daughter, his voice laced with comfort and not a little confusion. "Nobody's going to be here alone."
"No, daddy," she explained, her tone determined even as she struggled to stay awake. "My friend, in the mirror."
Ice instantly filled the doctor's veins at his daughter's words. Turning away from the rest of his family, he reached a hand up to brush a strand of soft hair behind her ear, gently pressing his fingertips into one of her temples. How long have you known her, Love?
Freya leaned into his touch, already used to this kind of communication. For a while now, daddy, she answered him, her innocence burning a hole of guilt straight through his stomach. She wants to come out and play. I don't think mummy likes her much though. She got scared when I showed her how to see my friend.
The Doctor closed his eyes, dreading what was to come, but needing to project only strength and comfort through the mental link he shared with the little Time Lady. Don't worry about mummy, he told her. I'm going to make it all right. You're going to need to trust me though. Can you do that?
The Doctor felt a surge of love and faith so powerful it almost sent him to his knees. Of course I can, daddy. You can do anything. You always make the monsters go away.
His lips spreading in a smile of relief, the Doctor turned around. Tyler was frowning in confusion, as if he'd picked up on some of Freya and his conversation. Rose's eyes were shooting daggers.
"Tyler," he asked gently, handing his son the vial of precious elixir, "would you please take your sister downstairs and make sure she takes her medicine? You need to mix four drops with a cup of tea." The Doctor smiled down at his daughter. "Extra sugar."
Obviously sensing something was wrong, Tyler agreed without hesitation, moving to take his little sister into his arms. She wrapped herself around his body exactly as she had her father's, face into the crook of his shoulder, tiny legs wrapped around her brother's waist. "Come on Lady Frey," he said, quickly carrying her out the door, "something tells me we don't want to be here for this anyway."
When Tyler's footsteps finally made it down the stairs, the Doctor turned back to his wife, barely managing not to wince at her appearance. Rose was flushed, the pink color in her cheeks almost taking over her entire face. Her hands, usually a pair of his favorite things in the universe, now nervously clenched and unclenched as she paced a little bit around the room. When she spoke however, her voice was surprisingly steady. "What's this all about?"
The Doctor stepped towards her slowly, as if approaching a skittish animal, but she retreated, as if he were the predator and she the prey. "This isn't just some mad Time Lord version of an imaginary friend, is it?"
He answered her softly, still creeping ever closer. "No."
Two glistening tears spilled over her eye lids and streaked down her cheeks. Rose wiped at them viciously, making a little frustrated noise as she backed up even further. "I can't seem to turn them off today," she told him, as more tears fell. "So I'm thinking we need to make this quick, yeah?" She'd made it to the mirror now, and she glanced at it anxiously before turning her gaze back to him. "Why," she asked, making it crystal clear that an explanation was mandatory, "is there a little girl in our mirror?"
The Doctor looked up into her eyes, wishing for all the world that he didn't have to have this conversation. Taking a deep breath he answered her, pouring a wealth of meaning into one small sentence. "She's not a little girl, Rose."