A/N: It is recommended that you read 'The Man with the Sticky-up Hair' before reading this, but you don't have to. Read and Review!
Theta Tyler was three and a half years old, and for as long as he could remember, there was someone missing from his life. His life was great, of course, everything a three and a half year old could want; his Gran doted on him all the time, his Granddad brought him new toy cars, and his Uncle Tony played with him lots and lots. Theta loved his Mummy loads, too, but every time he looked at his Mummy, he knew that there should be someone there with her, and it hurt him. Not because he needed anyone else- oh no, Theta loved his family just as they were, and he never wanted it to change- but because, when he went to bed at night, Mummy was left downstairs on her own. He heard her crying some nights, and Theta didn't like that, because Mummy was no fun when she was sad. Theta sighed as he watched his Mummy talk with Gran in Gran's kitchen. Even from where he was playing in the garden, he knew that his Mummy was sad, that she was crying. It appeared that today was going to be another of those days where his Mummy was upset (both Gran and Granddad seemed upset too, but Theta had dismissed it as them being upset that his Mummy was upset). Turning back to the little inflatable paddling pool, Theta continued playing with the toy boat Granddad had bought him.
Theta looked round to see his Uncle Tony heading towards him. Theta grinned, this huge, happy smile that Gran said he'd inherited from his Daddy.
The three and a half year old threw himself at his sixteen year old Uncle, who laughed and swung the boy into his arms.
"And how's my favourite nephew doing?" Tony asked, grinning.
Theta scrunched up his nose.
"I'm your only nephew!" Theta protested.
Again, Tony laughed.
"Indeed you are, Theta," Tony replied, the smile slipping from his face slightly.
Theta noticed that and began wriggling in his Uncle's grip.
"Nuh uh! You don't get to be sad! Mummy's sad an' she won't play with me, and Gran's with Mummy because she's sad, so if you get sad I'll have no one to play with!" Theta told his Uncle angrily.
Tony grinned and lowered the little boy to the ground again, allowing his nephew to drag him over to the little paddling pool.
Theta happily played with his Uncle Tony for about half an hour before the sound of footsteps caused them to turn round. Theta beamed as he saw his Mummy heading across the garden, her eyes still slightly red from crying, but she looked a lot happier than she had that morning before they'd come to Gran and Granddad's house.
"Hey you, what've you been up to out here?" Rose asked, kneeling down beside her son.
"Uncle Tony's been playing boats with me!" Theta announced, beaming at his Mummy.
Rose looked her son over slightly before realising that he could probably do with putting some more sun cream on. Reaching for the bottle, she tugged the three and a half year old onto her lap.
"Mummy!" Theta protested, wriggling in her embrace.
"Now come on, Theta, otherwise you'll be all sore tomorrow!" Rose reminded her son, beginning to work the sun cream into his skin.
Rose wondered idly whether she should get him dressed in the shorts and t-shirt the three and a half year old had changed out of earlier, but then realised that he'd only get them drenched while playing in the paddling pool and then they'd be back to him almost getting sunburnt. Instead, she opted to keep the little boy in his swimming trunks- he'd put up way more of a fuss if she tried to get him dressed. Once the little boy was slathered in the sun cream, Rose set him on his feet.
"Why don't you go and see Gran, yeah? A little birdie told me she's been baking cookies!" Rose told her son quietly.
Theta's brown eyes widened in excitement and he nodded eagerly before running off across the grass. Rose watched her son fondly, smiling. The smile didn't last long, however, as she caught the expression on her brother's face. He was sympathetic, of course, as he'd always been, but Rose found herself hating him for it today; she didn't want his sympathy, she didn't want him to hug her and tell her that she was going to be alright. Because if he did, she'd surely break down. And she couldn't do that, not here, not with the risk of Theta finding her. Rose silently begged her brother not to say anything, but then she saw the look in his eyes, and she realised. Today wasn't just about her; she wasn't the only one who missed him, who mourned him, who wanted him back. Her whole family was suffering. She'd known, of course, as Jackie had pulled her into a tight hug upon arrival, pushed Theta out into the garden to the paddling pool she'd set up and then started asking Rose how she felt.
"How are you holding up?" Tony asked quietly.
"About as well as I could be, I suppose. Though I think Theta may have noticed how upset I was this morning," Rose admitted, sighing.
Tony nodded, and the siblings descended into silence.
"You don't have to put a brave face on it, you know," Tony continued suddenly, so quiet Rose barely heard "It's alright to grieve. You lost the love of your life, the father of your son four years ago today. I'm sure people would understand."
"I'm sure they would, but…But it'll raise questions with Theta, you know what he's like… I'm just not ready to explain it to him yet," Rose whispered.
Tony shuffled across the grass and pulled his sister into a hug.
"He already knows someone's missing from his life, Rosie," Tony pointed out gently "it's only a matter of time before he starts asking, I mean, you have photos of him all over your house,"
Rose didn't reply, opting instead to bury her face in her brother's neck as she started to sob.
"I miss him so much!" Rose admitted suddenly, sobbing.
"You know what?" Tony asked quietly "So do I."
"Come on, Theta, there's something I want to show you," Tony announced, hurrying up the stairs.
Theta clambered up the stairs after his Uncle, the marble blessedly cool against his feet. Rose had finally dried her son off and redressed him in the shorts and t-shirt she'd picked out for him that morning after Theta had become bored playing with the paddling pool.
"Where we going?" Theta asked his Uncle in conclusion.
Tony didn't reply, and instead led his nephew along the corridor to his bedroom. Leading the boy inside, Tony headed straight for the bed, grabbing a torch and an old Tupperware box from his desk on the way.
"Come on, under the duvet!" Tony told his confused nephew.
Theta- completely confused by what his Uncle was doing- obeyed quickly, and Tony soon joined him huddled beneath the duvet.
"This is what I wanted to show you," Tony explained quietly, prising the lid off the Tupperware box.
He pulled out a photo.
"Do you know the people in this picture?" Tony asked gently.
Theta screwed up his face in concentration before pointing uncertainly at the little blonde boy in the photo.
"Is that you?" he asked.
Tony nodded in encouragement.
"Yep. I was just a few years older than you there. And if that's me, who do you think that is?"
"Mummy!" Theta exclaimed, looking at the woman his Uncle Tony was pointing at. Then he frowned. "Who's the man with the funny sticky-up hair?"
"Do you recognise him?" Tony asked, watching his nephew carefully.
"Mummy has picture of him all over the house. She won't talk about him, though," the little boy explained quietly.
"That's because it makes Mummy sad to talk about him," Tony explained gently.
"Why?" Theta asked, eyes wide.
"Because Mummy loved him very, very much, but he died before you were born,"
"Who is he?" Theta demanded, eager to find out more.
"He's your Daddy, Theta. He's why your Mummy's so upset sometimes, because she misses him lots. That's why Mummy's upset today- it was four years ago today that he died."
Theta watched his Uncle Tony carefully, noticing that he was crying too.
"Why are you crying, Uncle Tony?" the little boy asked, sounding upset.
"Because I miss your Daddy too. He was very nice to me, and we were very good friends, but then he died."
Theta looked at the man in the photo - his Daddy- again.
"He looks like me," Theta whispered.
"Yeah, he does," Tony agreed, grinning.
Indeed, although Theta had inherited Rose's nose and ears, the rest of him was a mini-Doctor; the same brown messy hair, the same wide, inquisitive brown eyes, the lanky, skinny frame. Tony knew that sometimes it hurt Rose to look at Theta, purely because of how much he looked like his father.
"Can you tell me about him?" Theta asked suddenly.
"I sure can," he replied.
Rose gingerly pushed her brother's bedroom door open. She could hear quiet voices coming from beneath her brother's duvet, and it took her a few seconds to work out what was happening. And then, as she heard her brother telling Theta enthusiastically about the Doctor and Rose's trip to Ancient Rome, she realised; Tony was using the same technique that had helped her discuss the Doctor all those years ago to tell Theta about his Dad. Taking a deep breath, she crossed the room. The voices beneath the duvet quietened, and it was flung back. Tony and Theta grinned up at Rose, Tony looking slightly sheepish while Theta looked plain excited.
"Mummy! I know who the funny man with sticky-up hair is now!" Theta announced, sitting up.
"Yeah?" Rose asked, smiling at her son's enthusiasm.
"Yeah! Uncle Tony told me! An' I'm sorry, Mummy," Theta replied.
"Sorry for what, sweetheart?" Rose asked in confusion.
"That you lost him," Theta answered seriously.
Rose was rooted to the spot, unsure how to reply to that. She glanced at her brother before staring at her son again. Taking a deep breath, she spoke.
"Room for one more under that duvet?"
Tony grinned and shifted over slightly.
Pete Tyler had a strong sense of déjà vu as he walked past his son's room. The door was open enough that he could see that the duvet had been fashioned into a rudimentary tent, and a slight light shone through the fabric, indicating someone under there had a torch. Calling quietly for his wife, Pete listened to the conversation going on under the duvet. By the time Jackie was at his side, Pete had established that Rose, Tony and Theta were beneath the duvet together.
"What are they doing?" Jackie asked, slightly amused.
"They're telling Theta about the Doctor," Pete explained softly.
Jackie smiled slightly.
"I can't believe it's been four years," Jackie admitted quietly after a few minutes.
"I know. I know," Pete agreed sadly.
"I just hope they'll be alright," Jackie whispered.