Some times – at these times – the Doctor considered the possibility he really might be mad. He'd had plans for the evening, after all. Good plans. Plans which most certainly did not involve crawling around on his hands and knees on the ground. How did he always end up in these situations, anyway?

"No. There's nothing there," he called back over his shoulder after a minute's examination of the narrow space in front of him.

"Are you sure?"


"Really sure?"

He sighed and pressed himself further into the ground, slanting his torch to illuminate more of the shadowed recess as he craned his neck awkwardly to get a better view. "Nope. Nothing there," he repeated.

He was sure he had only imagined the scuttling sound as the light swung forward.

He really hated rats.

But there were no rats here. He was certain of that. Well... Mostly certain. But the important thing, at the moment, was that there were no monsters. Neither under the cupboard he'd just checked or the bed he'd examined a few minutes earlier.

"Okay. If you're sure."

Which was, of course, what he'd told her to begin with. He pulled himself up off the floor and, straightening up, turned back to her. "See? Told ya. Think you can go back to sleep now?"

She nodded up at him from where she'd perched on the edge of her bed to supervise his search. "Yes." Her face broke into a smile made even more precious by a missing front tooth. "Thanks, Daddy."

He grinned down at her. "You're welcome, sweetie. Any time."

And he meant it. For that smile... he'd do anything. Climb any mountain. Swim any sea. Take on an entire army of stone angels with nothing but a torch. Or a Dalek after 2000 years of waiting.

He laughed.

"What's so funny?" she asked from the bed.

"Nothing," he answered. Then, remembering her two younger sisters and a universe full of unsuspecting males, he continued, "Except ... I think... We're gonna need more torches."