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[personal profile] zeborah
Brief notes, spoilers, trigger warnings, and part 1
Part 2
Part 3

*** Part 4 ***

Next summer holidays they were eight. And what was fun when you were seven was just a bit silly and boring when you were eight.

"Maybe we could play a different game," he suggested.

Amelia narrowed her eyes at him. "It's not a game. It's remembering."

"I don't remember it," he pointed out, but she just waited for him to get into the time machine to start.

He planted his feet stubbornly apart. "But it's silly that we always start looking for Prisoner Zero and we never finish looking for it."

She sucked at the corner of her mouth, then nodded. "Then we can find it and when the Raggedy Doctor comes back I can tell him where it is."

"Okay," he conceded.

They started up outside her bedroom, where Rory stood and said, "So, it's just out the corner of my eye," and Amy nodded, and he said, "Well, the stairs are out the corner of my eye. It must have run away when it saw the Raggedy Doctor's wand."

"You're the Raggedy Doctor," Amy reminded him, and handed him the wand. She'd made it out of grey cardboard with blue cellophane taped on the end.

"Right," he said, and straightened. "Well, come on, then."

They went downstairs and looked around. Rory wanted to tell her Prisoner Zero had gone straight outside and down the road and miles and miles away, but he had to be convincing. So first they hunted through the other rooms downstairs, looking under couches and inside cupboards while he asked her what exactly Prisoner Zero looked like and she insisted that she'd never seen it.

"Have you lost something?" the babysitter asked, sounding a bit exasperated, so that seemed a good time to decide that Prisoner Zero wasn't in the house and go and look outside.

"Trees," Rory said in his Raggedy Doctor voice. "And long grass. We'd better tread carefully. This way."

But Amelia was staring at the shed. "The time machine," she said.

"No, we're not playing that part of it, remember?"

"Stupid!" she said, "Prisoner Zero went into the time machine. That's why it started donging. The Raggedy Doctor said something was wrong with it. It was Prisoner Zero's fault, and then he went in after it and he-- he--"

Alarmed at how upset she looked, Rory said, "You don't know that. You didn't see it go there, did you?"

"But it must have, and that's why he never came back!"

He took a deep breath. "He never came back because he's not real. He's just make-believe, and Prisoner Zero is make-believe, and--"

She shoved him, and he landed flat on his back.

"Ow!" he said, and scowled at her back as she ran into the house. It wasn't fair. They were just make-believe, and he'd just been trying to tell her she didn't have to worry and be afraid anymore. He picked himself up and stomped his foot. It wasn't his fault she was crazy.

A door banged inside the house. He sighed. It wasn't her fault either, he supposed, and trudged in after her.

"Hey," the babysitter said, covering the phone with a hand, "tell Amelia no door-banging."

"Sorry," he said, and went upstairs.

Her door was closed. He eyed it warily, then knocked on it. "Amelia?"

She didn't answer.

"I'm sorry I said they weren't real," he tried.

There was a long silence, then a muffled, "Sorry f'pushing you."

"Can I come in?"

"No."

"Oh." He shuffled. "Well, I could go home, I guess."

"No!"

"Um. Okay..." He shuffled some more and tried to see things out of the corner of his eye. It was a really spooky house sometimes.

He looked at Amelia's door again and sighed. She wasn't exactly crazy really, but it was hard being her friend when she kept getting upset about people who weren't even real. He frowned, and thought about Prometheus, and said, "Amelia? What if Prisoner Zero isn't a bad prisoner?"

"What?"

"I mean, what if it's like Prometheus?"

"Prometheus isn't real," she said. He could almost see her rolling her eyes.

"I know that, but, I mean, sometimes people get put in prison and they didn't do anything wrong. Or not really wrong. Maybe it was only stealing food to feed its family. So then it wouldn't hurt the Raggedy Doctor, would it?"

She was silent. He hoped it was a good silent.

"And maybe the Raggedy Doctor's helping it go back home, and making sure it won't have to go to prison again. And... and maybe there's other people he has to help too, and that's why he can't come back."

"He's got a time machine," she pointed out. "He said five minutes."

"Well... Well, I don't know," he said in exasperation. "Maybe he's just being a poophead."

He thought he heard a giggle, but he wasn't sure. A long silence followed it, then at last she said, "You can come in if you want."

He opened the door cautiously. Her hair was a bit mussed and her face was red and blotchy. He pretended not to notice. "So... what do you want to do?"

"We'll pretend," she said: "You're the Raggedy Doctor, and we're hunting monsters."

And it was fun, and a relief to be playing something even she agreed was a game. But he did kind of, very secretly, miss the part where he got to hold her hand and tell her, "Everything's going to be fine."

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