The creature pulled Ann to her feet and dusted her off. “Quite a set of lungs you’ve got there. Now are you hurt? Anything broken or twisted?”
Ann shook her head rather dumbly staring open mouthed at the creature. A dog with two faces, Ann thought, he looks like a dog with two faces.
“Good, good. You took quite a nasty spill. You should really where a shorter scarf if you’re going to be running, you know.” The dog-like creature told her.
Up until a few moments ago, Ann knew for certain that dogs only had one face and they didn’t talk. Now, she wondered if rethinking her position on the Tooth Fairy and Saint Nick would be in order. She also wondered if her heart had decided to beat double time.
“You’re scaring the poor thing.” The smaller creature, alien maybe, scolded. Ann blinked. If she hadn’t known better, she’d say the voice belonged to Mrs. Harris that lived next door to her grandfather.
The large one made a face, well with one of its faces, quite like a dog making puppy eyes. “I certainly didn’t mean to. I was only helping her up.”
Ann blinked. Well, he had helped her up when she’d tripped over her scarf running along the rough cobblestones. “Thank you. I’m sorry I screamed at you, uhm, sir?”
The female one patted her head. “That’s all right, my dear. Would you like to come in for tea? I’m sure my sister won’t mind.”
“Thank you, ma’am, but I really need to find a telephone,” Ann explained, wishing she sounded less like a scared and lost little girl. Her teacher, Dr. Williams, might at least understand. After he finished lecturing her on proper responsibility, of course. "I need to call Doctor--"
“Oh, why didn't you say so at first? That makes it easy enough, dear. Go straight down the little path to the right, then turn down to alley with the purple light post. You can’t miss it, large and blue.” The female gave her a teacake. “Just in case you get hungry.”
A hallucination. That was all it was, something when she’d tripped and hurt her head. Goodness only knew who she was talking to, but at least they were friendly. There couldn’t be aliens walking around Cardiff with no one noticing. Right? Especially after Christmas.
“Menasha, stop fussing over the child,” the male boomed sounding ever bit like Mr. Harris. “You should be more careful where you go around here, Ann.”
Ann swallowed hard. “I’ll remember that. Thank you for helping me, and for the tea cake.” She gave them a little smile and hurried down the path.
She nearly lost her way twice. The directions weren't as easy as they seemed, the path wanted to curve off in odd directions when she stopped paying attention. Head injury, it had to be, Ann told herself.
The blue telephone booth turned out to be an old police call box. “Well, I guess it would work all the same.” The door wouldn’t budge under her hands.
“Blast. Guess I’ll just have to try and find my way back.” She glared at the box as if it was responsible for her situation. Ann blinked rapidly when she saw what looked like light spill out from the cracks of the door. “What?”
Ann stood on her tip-toes to try and peer into the windows. The door opened without warning, spilling Ann inside with an undignified yelp.
“Oi, well… that wasn’t nice.” She got to her feet, brushing off her knees. She looked around once, closed her eyes, then reopened them. Ann rubbed her eyes and looked around again. “I’m dreaming, I think, or lying knocked out somewhere. Police boxes don’t look a thing like this on the inside.”
Ann peered at the wires. Standing on her tip-toes, she looked over the flashing lights and buttons. “Curiousir and curiousir. I guess as long as I’m here, and it is a dream… Ann chewed on the edge of her scarf. “——down the rabbit hole then, eh Alice?”
She started down a corridor, looking this way and that.
“Will you look at all these rooms? Like something out of Star Trek, this is.” She opened a door to her left and peeked inside. She saw a room crammed full of clothing.
Ann tried the room on the right. She opened the door just a crack as before.
“Butterflies?” Ann whispered, awed “A room full of butterflies? This isn’t Alice. This is more like that one about the witch in the cupboard.”
A few rooms that looked rather boring, bedrooms and such. The one with the sprinklers in the ceiling seemed like it’d be great fun in summer though. Ann kept hoping to find a room with a fireplace since even in this dream her fingers were still rather cold.
The next door she tried opened on to a library. This looked rather promising, Ann thought. She picked up a book on a small table and opened it at random. Ann read a passage aloud, “‘Time rifts often attract those who feed upon the energies created.’ ”
She glanced at the cover. “Time rifts for Time Tots,” she read aloud the title.
Ann started to put the book back on the table and then slipped it into her pocket. It could hardly be called stealing since it was her dream. She took the teacake out of her pocket so it wouldn’t become smashed up. She munched it absently and wandered out of the library. She tried a few more doors but they wouldn’t open for her.
She tried another door, and it opened onto a darkened bedroom. Ann stared in shock. “This is my room.” Ann gasped eye wide. She spun in a circle. A sea of tiny, glow-in-the-dark stars twinkled down at Ann from the ceiling. “It is just a dream.” Ann threw herself down on her bed and closed her eyes. When she opened them, again she’d be home.
Rose bit into the last teacake and smiled at the Doctor. “It wasn’t all that bad, Doctor,” She told him cheerfully. “How come you didn’t tell me before there were aliens living in Cardiff?”
“Hardly count as aliens when they’re British citizens.” The Doctor muttered with a glare at her. If he’d bloody well wanted teacakes, he should have been nicer to the Doeg ——whatever they were, Rose thought. He really was rather rude.
The TARDIS had been acting up when they’d gotten back from whatever errand the Doctor had them run. The TARDIS almost didn’t let the Doctor in, and he’d been fuming over it since.
The Doctor muttered something under his breath as he frowned at the console.
“What was that, Doctor?” Rose asked looking over his shoulder. He ignored her and said something to the TARDIS.
“How did you get the outside ‘round the inside?” A curious voice asked. “Or is it the inside in the outside?”
Rose jumped at the unexpected voice. A young girl with ginger hair stood next to her. The girl looked around wide eyed. She couldn’t have been more than seven, if a day.
“How did you get in here?”
“Through the door, course.” The girl looked at Rose as if she was daft. “How’d you think I got in? Walked through the walls?”
The Doctor was still ignoring them both, and Rose waved at him, desperate to get his attention. Rose wondered why the TARDIS hadn’t alerted the Doctor to their visitor. “You just walked in?” Rose asked in disbelief.
“Some two-faced dog person, alien I think, told me I’d find a phone here. Oh, - and it doesn’t work, by the way.” She looked over at the Doctor then back at Rose. “The door opened, and I sort of fell in. Thought I was dreaming but —— you’re not going to eat me or something?” The girl nervously raised an eyebrow.
Rose blinked rapidly trying to keep up. “You…You met the Dogeaons?”
“Deogeans, Rose. The Dogeaons are a different species altogether,” the Doctor said absentmindedly over his shoulder. “The Dogeaons look nothing like dogs, really, but you can’t expect a race to take in account what some random planet is going to call their pets, can you?”
“They gave me teacakes.” The girl said.
“Wait, what?” The Doctor spun about.
“They gave me teacakes,” she repeated calmly.
The Doctor stood staring for a moment. “Rose, there seems to be a child on the TARDIS.”
“Yes, Doctor.” Rose said smiling, muttering something like ‘finally’ under her breath. “There is.”
“What is she doing here?” The Doctor asked, then when the girl opened her mouth, “Besides just standing there. I’m pretty certain I didn’t start giving tours to schoolchildren. So,” he crouched down a touch. “What are you doing on my TARDIS?
“Didn’t know it belonged to anyone, it was unlocked and all.” The girl looked a bit afraid but smiled. “I fell asleep, I think.”
“The TARDIS was locked. I know she was. Near didn't let me in. Am I supposed to believe some street urchin just waltzes into my beautiful TARDIS?” The Doctor glared towards the TARDIS console.
The girl nodded. “Yes, and she is a very pretty …TARDIS, I suppose.” She looked at Rose. “Is he all right in the head?”
Rose nodded. “He just takes a little…getting used to that’s all.”
The little girl shrugged. “I think I’ll just leave now if it’s all the same to you.”
Rose shifted uncomfortably. "I'm afraid that isn't possible just now. We're sort of traveling."
"Sort of traveling?" The girl said in disbelief. “How do you sort of travel in a police box. A very pretty police box but still —.”
The Doctor scoffed, looking back to the console. “Yes, in this. This happens to be the very latest technology of its period. Genuine TARDIS and all that. Now, don't expect me to explain it all to you; I haven't the time for it. She's acting a bit cranky. If you want to stay, you can follow Rose and keep out of mischief or we'll leave you in the French Revolution or something equally dreadful.”
“He's having you on.” Rose assured the girl. She was rather sure he was, at least.
“Or he’s not all there.” The girl quipped.
“Rose, go take our guest and get her some tea. I’m rather busy at the moment.” The Doctor smiled.
Rose put an arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s get you some tea.”
“But…I don’t want tea,” she protested.
“Nonsense! All growing girls need their tea.” The Doctor made waving gesturing at them. “Off you both go then.”
Rose led the way to the TARDIS kitchen, keeping a close eye on the girl. “The kitchen is just through here.”
“Why is it so far from the control room? Seems silly. What if you want a cup of tea while doing something important?”
“Never seems to bother the Doctor.” Rose told her. “I’m Rose Tyler. What’s your name?”
“Ann Walken.” Ann told her, she cocked her head to one side. “Why do you call your husband ‘The Doctor’. Doesn’t he let you call him by his name?”
Rose blushed. “He’s not my husband.”
“Boyfriend, then.” Ann said peering around the kitchen once they got there.
“He’s not my boyfriend, not really, he’s just…the Doctor.” Rose said not sure how else to explain it.
Ann looked at Rose with an eyebrow raised. “That explains it all. Not. How can you travel with a body and not know their name?” Ann muttered.
Rose suddenly remembered why she always hated babysitting. “Do you want some tea or not?”
“Sorry,” Ann whispered after a moment. “Shouldn’t have said that.”
“No, it’s all right. Doesn’t make much sense to me either sometimes.” Rose admitted, with a sigh. She handed Ann a cup of tea. “He is nice though.”
Ann curled her hands around the cup. “He doesn’t seem very nice. A bit of a prat.”
Rose smiled in sympathy. “He can be, but all the other stuff makes up for it. You’ll see.”
“Oh.” Ann didn’t look very convinced, but she drank her tea after putting a large amount of sugar in it.
“Well?” The Doctor asked Rose when she finally wandered back into the console room. “Did you get a name, rank, and serial number out of her?”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Will her name do?”
The Doctor shrugged, adjusting his glasses. “In a pinch, I suppose. Children wouldn’t have ranks and serial numbers —— well they might have serial numbers if they lived on Gemma 3 but she doesn’t look a think like a Gemman, and her skin’s just one color.”
“Ann Walken, thinks you’re a prat.” Rose took great pleasure in telling him if only to see his reaction. “Wasn’t Walken the name of that doctor?”
“So do you sometimes.” The Doctor pointed out. He waved off the idea. “Coincidence. Can’t have two people named Walken from Cardiff annoying me today and have them related. Not that I believe in coincidences, mind you.”
“Of course you don’t, Doctor.” At least he wasn’t sulking anymore about TARDIS letting her in, Rose thought. “Figure out how she got in?”
He muttered something and glared at the TARDIS
“What was that?” Rose asked, leaning over his shoulder.
He shook his head. “She let the urchin in.”
“She must have had a good reason.” Rose reasoned, poking his shoulder. “And why are you calling her an urchin?”
“No, I called her ‘the urchin’. Seemed to rather fit her, and she was quite rude. Don’t you think she was rude?” The Doctor asked hopefully.
Rose shook her head. “You’re rude,” she pointed out.
The Doctor smiled. “So I am. No excuse for her, though. Don’t they teach children not enter strange houses? You’d think people would learn something from Goldilocks, but no, they’d all rather remember the girl with the red cap and that bad wolf. They were both rather annoying. Never listened, always interrupting.”
Rose sighed. She bit her tongue on telling the Doctor someone else that was annoying and never listened.
Later during the TARDIS’ night, the Doctor sat watching the middle column rise and fall rhythmically. Both humans were safely tucked away in bed. He didn’t need much sleep, sleep was for tortoises after all.
The TARDIS letting the girl in was a bit disconcerting. He’d though she gotten out of that habit.
He stroked the console affectionately. “So what’s so special about this one, my beautiful old girl?” He asked.
The TARDIS didn’t give him an answer, but he rather hadn’t expected one.