Take A Look (It's In A Book)

by RobotRollCall [Reviews - 10]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • General, Humor, Standalone

Author's Notes:
So, Jamie had to learn how to read sometime, and he's just fun to write. He's just so adorable. Bonus points if you can guess what he's reading before he shows Polly the title!

Again, no one in this story is mine, but you probably knew that already....

Jamie was wandering down the corridors of the TARDIS, wondering where everyone had got to. The Doctor had declared that morning that he was going to let the TARDIS float about in the Vortex (whatever that was) for a while–they’d had enough running about for a while, and they could all do with a little rest. Jamie had thought that quite a good idea. He felt as though he’d been running for weeks. The trouble was, now he couldn’t find anybody.

He had been on the TARDIS for a few weeks now, but he still had trouble finding his way around. Sometimes, he despaired of ever getting the hang of it–especially on a day like today, when he had managed to get lost going from his room to the console room, the route he knew best. He often wondered what he had gotten himself into, agreeing to come along with the Doctor instead of going to France with what was left of his clan. He may have been a lowly piper in one of the smaller clans, but he was respected, he knew what was what, and no one would laugh at him for sitting in his room in the dark because no one had remembered to explain to him about the light switch.

Of course, that wasn’t to say he didn’t want to be here. For all that he didn’t understand, the universe was a fascinating place. He had seen and experienced some truly amazing things–things he wouldn’t even have known how to dream about back in Scotland–and Ben, Polly and the Doctor really were very kind. Indeed, he’d only known them a few weeks, but he already felt a part of the little family they had created here. They were some of the closest friends he thought he’d ever had. It was just that he felt as if he were several steps behind them. So many things they spoke about with such ease, and he was just struggling to get his head around them. He liked being here–he really did–he just felt out of place, and he wasn’t quite sure how to get into it. Being lost in the TARDIS certainly wasn’t helping. The Doctor spoke of the TARDIS as if it were alive, and sometimes, Jamie had the sneaking suspicion that it was moving things around when it thought no one was looking. He felt sure he’d passed that kitchen already this morning. As he wondered, he nearly ran smack into Polly, who suddenly rounded the corner in front of him.

“Polly!” he said, smiling in relief.

“Oh, there you are, Jamie,” she said.

“What d’you mean, here I am? Where’ve you lot all gone? I’ve no’ seen anyone in these endless hallways!”

“We’ve all gone to the library. We were wondering where you’d got to, then I remembered that you probably didn’t know where the library was, so I came out to look for you,” she explained.

“Oh. Well, thank you,” he said, following her as she set off again. “I don’t think I’d ever have found my way out on my own.”

“The TARDIS can be a bit confusing when you start off, but don’t worry, you’ll learn your way around,” Polly said kindly. “Here we are, then.”

Polly returned to the squashy armchair and book she had left, but Jamie stood in the doorway, eyes wide and mouth open in awe. He had never seen so many books in all his life. The Laird had had a library back at the castle–a full wall of his chambers had been comprised entirely of book-laden shelves–but this! Shelves stretched straight to the ceiling and formed pathways that twisted and turned out of sight in every direction. Books of every size and colour filled every spare inch of space on the shelves, and in some places were stacked on top of each other. Tables stood at the end of each pathway, a tidy stack of books atop each of them.

“Do come in, won’t you Jamie?” the Doctor invited from the large wooden desk where he sat, scribbling in a journal. Jamie glanced over at Ben and Polly–Ben was sitting on the floor, leaning against the front of the armchair where Polly sat, her legs tucked up underneath her. Each of them seemed absorbed in their reading. Cautiously, Jamie made his way inside, walking slowly to the Doctor’s desk. He’d never been in a place so fine as this. A roaring fire blazed in an elaborately carved marble fireplace, above which hung a detailed painting of a ship. The shelves were all made of a rich, deep coloured wood, as was the floor, all finely polished and gently reflecting back the soft yellow light that came from stained-glass lamps. “No need to be so careful,” the Doctor added with a smile. “I’m hardly worried you’re going to scuff up the floors.”

“Right. Sorry,” Jamie said. The Doctor returned to his journal while Jamie watched from behind with interest. “Hey, that’s quite good,” Jamie said after a moment, pointing at the sketch the Doctor was just finishing up. It was of a Norakian monkey-lizard, something Jamie recognized quite well, as he’d nearly been eaten by one the day before. Twice.

“Thank you, Jamie,” the Doctor said, setting down his pen and turning to face him. “However, I would appreciate it if you didn’t read over my shoulder. This is my private journal, after all, and besides, it’s rather rude.”

“Sorry, Doctor,” Jamie said, flushing a little. “I didn’t see anything private though,” he added quickly. “I–” he blushed even deeper and stopped, looking down at his feet. “Oh, never mind. I’m sorry.” He started to turn away.

“No, wait Jamie,” the Doctor said. He studied him carefully as he turned back slowly, shifting his feet uncomfortably. “What was it you were going to say?” he asked kindly.

Jamie cleared his throat. “Well, it’s just…” he trailed off. He cast a nervous look over at Ben and Polly, then went on in a hurried whisper. “I cannae read,” he finished, going scarlet this time to the roots of his hair.

“I’m sorry, Jamie, I should have realized. That was rather a careless thing of me to say.” Jamie shrugged non-comittantly, and the Doctor placed a hand on his shoulder and gave him a warm, fatherly smile. “Jamie, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know.”

“Is it no’?” Jamie asked with a humourless smile. “I seem to be the only one here who doesn’t know how.”

“Well, that may be true, but it’s still no cause to be embarrassed,” the Doctor assured him. “No one expects you to be able to do something you were never taught to do.”

“I just feel a bit thick, is all,” Jamie admitted. “Half the time I never know what you three are talkin’ about, with the machines and ‘science’ and all that…” He looked down at his feet again.

“Jamie, look at me,” the Doctor said firmly. He stared at Jamie until the boy met his eyes. “No one here thinks you’re stupid. All this,” he gestured with one hand, taking in the whole of the TARDIS. “Takes quite a bit of getting used to. Give yourself a little more time, and you’ll have caught right up with the rest of us. And, if you would like, I can always teach you how to read.”

Jamie’s eyes widened in surprise. “You would do that?” he asked hopefully.

“Of course!” the Doctor said with a smile. “We can start right now if you’d like,” he offered, grabbing some blank sheets of paper and holding his pen at the ready.

“Oh, aye,” Jamie said with a grin, pulling up a chair to sit next to the Doctor.

-----

A few weeks later, one Tuesday at dinner time, Polly set off in search of Jamie. She found him in the last place she expected–the library. The Doctor had quietly informed her and Ben that Jamie did not know how to read, and so the two of them had tried to steer clear of the library during the reading lessons so as not to make Jamie uncomfortable. She had hardly thought she would find him in there on his own, but that’s exactly where he was, curled up on the large green couch he had deemed his favourite and studying a yellow book with great concentration. She watched with a small smile as he finished the page he was on–he had yet to master the art of reading silently, though he had lowered his voice to a near whisper.

“…He will live at…our house. He will gr…grow and grow…Will ow...our mother lick–no, tha’s ‘like’…like this? We don’ know.” Jamie eyed the accompanying illustration and snorted. “Well, good luck wi’ that, laddie. I dinna ken a woman alive who would let that thing in her house.” He started to turn the page when Polly cleared her throat, and he looked up. “Oh, hello Polly,” he said, his cheeks going pink. “I didn’t know you were there.”

“I’ve only just come in,” she told him. “I heard the last bit of what you’re reading there–it sounds like you’re doing quite well.”

“Really?”

“Oh yes,” she assured him, coming to sit beside him. “And I’m quite impressed that you’re already reading on your own.”

He smiled gratefully, looking a little embarrassed, but terribly pleased. “Thank you.”

“What are you reading?”

He held the book out for her to see the cover. “I’m no’ quite sure what it’s about–it started off talkin’ about fish, but then it got a bit strange as it went on.”

“Doctor Seuss? Oh, this is ‘One Fish, Two Fish!’ ”

“Aye. Some of it’s very odd, but I quite like the way it rhymes. Can I ask y’ though,” he paused, flipping back towards the middle of the book and pointing at a word. “What’s this word here?”

Polly looked down at the page. “I believe it’s ‘Yink’,” she told him.

He nodded. “I thought that was how you would say it.” He narrowed his eyes. “Is that a real word?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Aye, I thought not.”

“Doctor Seuss is full of nonsense words though. Why are you starting with him?” Polly wondered.

“The Doctor suggested it,” Jamie said. “He told me that reading nonsense words was meant to teach me how to say the letters properly, never mind the word they’re in.”

Polly tilted her head thoughtfully. “Well, I suppose that makes sense.”

“So, this Doctor Seuss, he was some sort of space traveler, like the Doctor, then?” Jamie asked.

“Why no!” Polly said, laughing a little. “He was just an Earthman who wrote books. Why in the world would you think he was from space?”

“It’s all these creatures he draws in the books,” Jamie explained. “See, look at this one here.” He flipped a few more pages, and pointed at a large, multi-legged furry thing. “Tell me tha’s not the same great beastie that chased us all around the swamp last week because it thought Ben was its mother.”

Polly’s eyes widened as she stared at the drawing. “Why Jamie, you’re right! But that’s…why that’s simply impossible!”