The TARDIS whirred to life as the Doctor keyed in some coordinates. He was having the TARDIS follow the cause of the warning. The TARDIS was a smart ship, she was capable of handling multiple tasks at once, not limited to giving warnings and alerts. He had wondered why she'd been acting up lately, letting Amy take her off and such. Perhaps this was why. Perhaps she had sensed all along that something like this would happen. Someone would undo what he had done. And she was trying to prevent it.
"How can you know the Juforal world is in danger?" Amy asked, easily conflicted between her own potential dilemma and the one facing the aliens. "It was just a small hissing sound, anything could have caused it. It doesn't mean world wide disaster..."
The Doctor didn't even look up. "That hiss was directly from above and was a result of massive quantities of chemicals binding together in irregular patterns." He said this as though he perfectly recognized the sound. "Irregular patterns created by a weather enhancer and manipulator. Devices that powerful, when they malfunction, the chemicals degrade in the atmosphere and spread like a disease. What may only last two hours over one area now, can easily become worldwide and lasting for days to weeks at a time, and each time the device activates, it will add to that, quadrupling the effect. It has to be stopped."
Amy couldn't argue with that dull, but sensible explanation so she left it alone.
As soon as the TARDIS landed, the Doctor was at the door, Amy close on his heels. He pulled it open. Amy peered out and gasped. "But thats..."
"Exactly." He stepped out and did a quick survey of their surroundings. The only thing out of place he was certain of was a trail on the ground that looked like some sort of cape or other cloth dragging along that someone must have been wearing.
Amy stared up at her very own house. "How can the problem be here? We fixed everything..."
"Yes. And someone is trying to destroy what we've fixed." The Doctor heard giggles and young voices. He walked around Amy's backyard, following the sounds, and paused when he got to the side of the house. He peered around the side toward the front. He stiffened. "Amy." The sudden sharpness to his tone caused her to look over at him. "Get inside the TARDIS." He was speaking calmly, but most definitely was not calm.
"What? Why?" She ran over to him. As per her usual she wasn't about to obey orders like some mindless robot.
"Because if you don't, you might cause another paradox." He pointed toward the front yard. Three small children were playing there, one with significantly red hair. It was little Amelia.
Eyes wide, Amy stared. "That's me! Again!"
A hand clamped over her mouth. "Shh, she'll hear you!" They watched little Amelia a moment, and Amy winced. While she didn't remember this specific day, she didn't have to be close to know what was going on. Two brown haired children, a boy and a girl, stood circling the little red head where she sat on a curb by the road. The brown haired boy was an annoying Jeff teasing her about the monster in her wall and the little girl was a bratty neighbor girl who used to make up cruel little verses about Amelia and her strangeness and say them in a sing song voice. She had hated that girl enough to shove her into a puddle once.
Before she had time to feel too much pain from reminiscing, the Doctor lightly tugged on her arm, whispering. "We can't have another rip in the fabric of space and time. Get back inside the TARDIS. We shouldn't be here..." He wasn't even sure why the TARDIS decided this was the place they needed to be. He turned and started dragging Amy back to the TARDIS.
He paused in the backyard, letting her go and staring up at the house. A shadow crossed the window in Amelia's room. It could have just been Prisoner Zero, but with the warning they'd received he had to be sure. "Go back inside the TARDIS, Amy, I've got to see about something." He started for the house.
"I want to come with you. Little me won't see me, she's out front playing." Amy started after him.
He whirled around to face her. "Lecture!" He tossed the single word at her with purpose.
Amy stopped and made a face. "Fine!" She turned and stomped back into the TARDIS. She was clearly not happy about it, but she did, truly did, not want another lecture from the Doctor. Perhaps even more than she didn't want to be thrown into the Void again or drown! Okay, the drowning and the Void had been way worse, but still she wouldn't want to relive those endless hours of his ramblings. Once she disappeared safely inside the ship, the Doctor turned back to the problem at hand.
He used his sonic to unlatch the backdoor and quietly headed inside. His mind went as usual, racing with so many thoughts, his thoughts were having thoughts of their own. He caught a few in passing, such as just where the heck was Amelia's aunt and why was she never here? He'd never met her, but already had a displeasing idea about the woman.
He crept up the stairs cautiously, peering up into the darkness of the hall. At least Prisoner Zero's room was closed. He heard a shift of feet, but didn't let it deter him. He reached the landing and a humanoid creature with chalk white skin and matching robes and hat, stared at him calmly from Amelia's bedroom doorway. The Doctor stared back and offered up a patient smile. "Hello, I'm the Doctor. Who are you and would you mind terribly telling me exactly what you're doing here?" He questioned plainly.
The creature watched the Doctor clasp his hands and it looked him up and down. "I'm Latro. I'm here to put an end to the cracks in the universe."
The Doctor gave him a confused look. "Uh, hello!" He repeated, this time waving. "Taken care of already. I fixed them. All better now. No need to worry about it."
Latro responded as if he'd been rehearsing. "The cracks may be healed, but they never should have existed. I was hired to see to it that they never come to pass." He sounded completely impassive about the entire thing. A soft thump sounded from the room beside Amelia's. Both men turned to glance at it, but after a moment or two of silence, they turned back to each other.
"I see. Who hired you to do that and why?" The Doctor wasn't in the mood for small talk.
"The Shadow Proclamation sent me to punish the human responsible for illegally removing hundreds of Class Eleven Diptera Insecti from their world." The creature offered up a slight smile.
The Doctor laughed in disbelief. "Flies? You're telling me the Shadow Proclamation sent you to punish someone for moving flies? The flies are peacefully implanted on a planet in the Vandroma solar system. I can give you the planet's coordinates if you like." At least it explained the warning his TARDIS had given. The Shadow Proclamation sent it out, not as a warning specifically to him, but to let people know they were on the case of resolving the issue, apparently.
"It doesn't matter. They paid me well to punish the human for breaking the law and see to it that it never occurs." Latro shifted from one foot to the other. "I'm discreet about it, not to worry about me disrupting the rest of this planet. My mission was made clear to me. I'm waiting for her to return to her room so I can complete it."
So he was laying in wait to ambush a seven year old. The Doctor felt the heat of anger rising in his chest. It was all he could do to keep his tone level. "She's a little girl. You're not going to hurt her. And even if the Shadow Proclamation recognizes that Amy broke some obscure law, surely they have better things to do than worry about some misplaced flies." His contempt was definitely obvious.
Latro shrugged. "They look after all of their laws and this little girl you speak of caused quite a stir with the one she broke. If she isn't able to do the deed in the first place, then it will have never happened. She is to face her punishment and be taken care of. The Shadow Proclamation has declared it so."
The Doctor's face turned so serious that even the dispassionate Latro leaned slightly away from him. "It was the adult woman who committed the offense, not the child. Even then, she is my responsibility. If the Shadow Proclamation has a problem with her, then their problem is really with me. They have a right to meet with me, and with her about it and give us a fair trial, but it seems they've tried, convicted, and sentenced her without even understanding the nature of her actions."
"That is not for me to concern myself with. Like I said, I have a mission and I will complete it." Latro just didn't care to question the actions of the Shadow Proclamation. It was frustratingly a lot like dealing with the Judoon, except that even the Judoon wouldn't have trampled onto Earth to kill her, they would have found her out amongst the stars, not breaking Jurisdiction. And they certainly wouldn't have attacked her as a child.
"You." The Doctor crossed the hall to stand eye to eye with Latro. "Going after the innocent child version of her is low, surely even for a cross time bounty hunter such as yourself. And this is out of your Jurisdiction."
"Whatever makes my job easier. The adult her would be more of a fight. I'm not above going after a child if it saves me some time and trouble. And I'm not out of my Jurisdiction. The Shadow Proclamation has granted me special license to complete my missions wherever I see fit so long as I don't disrupt the lives of the innocent while doing so."
"Not on my watch." The Doctor coldly stared Latro down.
Latro hesitated. "You're going to try to stand in my way?" He asked uncertainly.
"Oh, far worse than that, Latro. Not only am I standing in your way, but I'm the reason you're going to leave now, right now, and without touching a hair on Amelia Pond's head. If you don't, you'll find yourself dealing with the worst danger you ever could have possibly faced in your entire life." The smile toying about the Doctor's lips now was challenging. Latro had pushed the way wrong button. The one thing the Doctor never tolerated was violence, especially against people he cared about, and he would drag the stars from the sky itself before he would let this man attack little Amelia.
Any argument on Latro's lips fell away at this point. He could see it in this man's eyes. Whatever else might be going on, there was no way he would be able to do anything with the little girl while this man was about. He couldn't not do it, he had money on it. But part of the agreement was that he was not to bring a weapon onto this Class Five planet so as not to break Jurisdiction, a fact he withheld from the Doctor. He hadn't anticipated any real troubles cropping up with dealing with the child from her own home. Children were easy. He hadn't expected the Doctor. He knew of the Oncoming Storm and he wasn't about to try to face him down. That didn't mean he wouldn't complete his mission. He would just choose a different method to go about doing so. "Very well. You're a worthy opponent. Don't get yourself all worked up. I'll leave."
"That easily?" The suspicious Doctor eyed him.
"That easily." Latro repeated as the sound of the front door slamming resounded throughout the house and little feet started padding up the stairs. "I came to take care of a child, not to fight with you, but since you plan to give me a fight, I've no choice but to leave."
Amelia in a cute little pink and white jumper, stood at the top of the stairs, gaping at them. A strange all white man and...The Doctor. She didn't dare move from her spot at the top of the stairs as she watched them silently.
The Doctor inwardly cringed. He really shouldn't be here, but it was too late now. "Then leave." He said quietly.
"Very well. I'll report this to the Shadow Proclamation then." And he would, though after he completed his mission. Time was at his fingertips. Then he would report back to them and let them know what a trouble maker this Doctor fellow was. He tipped his hat, his body suddenly shimmering and vanishing.
Little Amelia gasped softly, her eyes wide and mouth still hanging open. The Doctor sighed and waited a full beat before turning toward her. He gave her a friendly smile. "Hello Amelia. How are you then?" He knew what he had to do, but there was no sense in making it unpleasant for her.
Amelia finally gathered her senses. It had been months since the Doctor left her. Maybe if he had only been a few weeks she would have been more receptive, but after months of teasing, and having been dragged to a psychiatrist, she wasn't too open to the idea of being nice to him. She marched right over to him and glared up at him wickedly. She didn't even care about the white creature. It had done nothing to her. The Doctor had lied.
His smile evaporated.
"You're late, Doctor." The harsh way she said his name was like a slap.
"Yes, I am." The Doctor admitted. There was no sense in apologizing. What was done was done and they both knew he was wrong.
The little girl tried to hang onto the anger, but her voice started to quiver, her bottom lip trembling as she looked up at him. "You-You promised."
"Yes, I did."
Her eyes were filling. The overwhelming sense of the past few months weighed heavily on the little girl. His abandoning her. Her aunt blaming her for the mess in the kitchen. The teachers at school lecturing her about daydreaming too much. The principal insisting her aunt seek professional help for her. The psychiatrist she hated. Even the handful of friends she managed to make since moving here were slowly turning on her because of her tales about the raggedy Doctor. And here he was, acting as though nothing were really wrong. Did he even care? "You lied. You're a liar! You-You promised and you lied! I waited and I waited and I was good, but you didn't come! You lied!"
Amelia looked extremely angry and hateful at him and he could see she was very ready to smack him. The pain the little one was going through was palpable. He could have left it as was. He knew she wouldn't remember any of this anyway, but his hearts were too involved.
He knelt down to her level and suddenly gathered her up in his arms. She fought him for a moment, pushing against his chest and shoulder, but her anger was wearing out. The tears that had been threatening to, finally spilled over. She collapsed against him and put her small hands around his neck. Laying her head on his shoulder, she wept. After several moments, her small voice mumbled against his jacket. "You promised five minutes!"
"Amelia," He spoke softly and held her tightly. "Sometimes people make promises they can't keep even if they really want to."
The little girl accepted this. Slowly she pulled away and wiped her tears. The Doctor stood up. He couldn't let her remember any of this or it would wreak more havoc with the already damaged time line. At least he would have the memories of being able to bring Amelia a little comfort in all of this. It was purely selfish of him, but he'd needed to do this at least once. "It'll be alright." He told her, reaching out to cup her face in his hands.
She looked up at him, not quite as trustingly as she had before, but there was trust there none-the-less. He gave her a gentle smile and bent to kiss the top of her head affectionately. "You always did deserve better than this." He said this more to himself than to her, knowing not only would she not remember, but she wouldn't understand anyway.
With that, he closed his eyes and concentrated on removing all memories of Latro and himself from her mind. She stared up at him wonderingly. He would have to remove the entire few minutes since she entered the house. He replaced the memories with vague thoughts of her having come upstairs and gone to her room to lay down. He felt her growing heavy against his hands and he quickly released her head to grab her before she could fall. He lifted her up and cradled her against him, letting her limp body fall against his, her head resting against his chest.
The Doctor carried her into her bedroom. He pulled back the blankets on her bed and lay her down, tucking her in with care. He glanced around, noting an unfinished drawing on her desk. He could make out the TARDIS on its side and half of himself. Cartoons. He shook his head. He looked down at the sleeping child one last time. "Don't worry, Amelia. I won't let them hurt you." He whispered to her before slipping out the door.
He was about to head downstairs when something caught his eye. A movement the room next to Amelia's. He took a moment to glance in. Little Amelia stood near an open closet door, her hand on it. He blinked. That wasn't right. He glanced back in the other room and Amelia was still laying on her back sleeping in her bed. He turned back to the other room. The Amelia in that room was staring back at him with eyes as large as oceans.
"Ah. Prisoner Zero again." He addressed the apparition, but the 'Pr' in prisoner were barely out of his lips before the Amelia before him jerked back and ran to hide within the skirts of a curtain. Lifting an eyebrow, the Doctor didn't bother to enter the room any further. "Good. Hiding in a curtain always works. Except that it never works, and I can see you. You're in luck, I've still no time for you. But I will do one day." He left and trotted downstairs. He hated that Prisoner Zero used Amelia's own mind to play such games, and something about this particular time felt even more out of place. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he really didn't have any time for it. There was much to do.
It was time to go after Latro. He wasn't foolish enough to believe Latro had given up so easily on his mission. He would have to be stopped. And there was still the problem of the Juforalians' fog that needed to be dealt with before their entire world was in serious trouble. Amelia being hunted by a killer on a mission, a species about to be wiped out by enemies they no longer had, not to mention breaking the heart of a little girl - again. Just another dull day for the Doctor and his companion.
Back inside the house as the TARDIS sat out in the backyard, the curtain in the room beside the sleeping Amelia's, moved. The look-alike moved out and looked around fearfully. Her little body was shaking as she bit her lip and started out of the room. Her hands had a few cuts on them and her hair hid a bruise on her cheek. She heard a noise coming from the sleeping Amelia's room and ran back into the room she'd just exited. She quickly ducked back into the closet, pulling the door closed behind her. She tucked herself into a ball on the floor, pulling her knees up to her chest. She hadn't heard what the Doctor said to the other Amelia. The voices had been muffled from where she was, but she knew whatever he'd said must have all been lies. Everything he said was. She sat there silently, daring not to make a sound and praying to Santa that someone would come save her.
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