Instructions

Chapter 3

Alive

Charlotte Abigail Lux perched on the roof of her building and watched her family playing below. She loved her family. Ella and Josh could be little and young sometimes, but they loved the Doctor's stories. Dr. Moon had taken to avoiding the Doctor and River and only came out to talk to her occasionally, which hurt. Anita said he was jealous, but no one really believed that. The Doctor had been in the Library harddrive for almost a year now. And River and the Doctor couldn't have been happier unless Terra showed up. They missed Terra.

Charlotte twisted her hand into the fabric of her skirt. She wished River and the Doctor would see her as Terra. She loved them. She wanted to be their daughter. If only-

"Charlie?" River asked from the trapdoor. "What are you doing up here?"

The girl startled and almost fell from her perch. River caught her shoulders and steadied the little girl. "Thinking," Charlotte muttered, "and watching." Josh and Ella were playing with Anita below them. "Isn't life so wonderful?" River joined the girl on her perch, lifting the child up and into her lap. "Do you miss the outside? Do you miss your daughter? I don't remember the outside."

River wrapped her arms around the little girl's waist and dropped a soft kiss to Charlotte's hair. "Sometimes. But I love it here. And- yes, I miss Terra, but I have you."

A warm, fuzzy feeling started in Charlotte's toes. "Really?"

"Oh Charlie," River sighed, "darling. We love you. You've been our daughter for awhile now."

The happy feeling bubbled up and over, filling Charlotte's chest with warmth. A smile spread acorss her entire face. "The Doctor too? He loves me too?"

River smiled, "Yes. Come on, Charlie, let's go make cookies."

Charlotte laughed. "Can we destroy the kitchen again?"

"Of course," River said. She lifted Charlotte into her arms and together, the two of them climbed down into the house. They found the Doctor searching through his wardrobe in the suite of rooms he shared with River. He had tossed clothes everywhere, making a huge mess. River rolled her eyes. "Sweetie, what are you doing?"

"Looking for-" he disappeared into another wardrope and came out with a red fez. "gotcha!" He dropped the hat onto Charlotte's head. "What do you need me for?"

Charlotte lived her hands and inspected the thing on her head; she held it in front of her nose. She stared at it, apprehensively. "What is it?"

"A fez," the Doctor said, pressing a soft kiss to River's lips. She pushed him away, rolling her eyes.

"We're going to make cookies. Family activity." River grabbed his hand and pulled him and little Charlotte towards the kitchen.

Four hours, two ovens, and six pouds of flower later, they had fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. The three of them sat on one couch together, Charlotte wedged between the River and the Doctor. Their fingers were sticky with half melted chocolate. The Doctor was being... childish, like normal. "You've never read Dodger?" He sounded shocked. "It's a classic!" He reached out of the harddrive with his mind and made the book appear in Charlotte's lap. She had given him access to all the books in the Library ages ago.

Charlotte flipped open the pages of the book. "It's a children's book!" But she started reading it anyway. Before she finished, both Charlie and River were smiling behind tears. River leaned her head on the Doctor's shoulder and stroked little Charlotte's head. When she was done, Charlotte threw the book back into the Library. "I'm going to go play with Ella and Josh," she said, stuffing another cookie in her mouth. She could sense that River wanted to talk to the Doctor. "Mum, can I-"

The little family froze. "I..." Charlotte stuttered. "Sorry." She started to run away.

"Charlie!" River cried. The little girl stopped. River jumped up from the couch. "Charlie, honey, turn around." The Doctor stood up behind his wife, placing a comforting hand on her back. Charlotte turned around, staring at the ground. River dropped to her knees and placed both hands on the little girl's shoulder. "I'll be your mother, didn't I tell you that?"

Charlotte nodded. "Thanks..." she smiled shly, "mum." She turned and ran from the room.

River's arms dropped her sides and she started to shake. The Doctor drew her into a comforting hug. He stroked her hair. "River, sweetie, you okay?"

"Yes," River choked, turning into his arms. "She's been apart of the family for so long now, but it seems..." Their first daughter when unmentioned.

"I know," he murmured, pressing a gentle kiss to her check. "So do I."

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, hungrily.

Charlotte lingered outside the door, watching her new mum and dad cautiously. She loved Dave, Dave, Anita and Miss Evangelista, sure, but it was River and the Doctor she loved the most. She was glad they were alive. She was glad they had been saved. They had a fariytale ending, just this once. They had received a happy ending. And Charlotte couldn't have been happier. She peeked back into the room and stared at her parents... They were... invovled... She squeaked and ran away.

She had read so many books and not all of them did have happy endings, but this one did.

Happily ever after.

Well, for everything but the kitchen.