TTR/LWT: "Holding the Baby"
By John Elliott
Izzy stormed up the street. She hadn't been able to enjoy her enforced
afternoon on the Eye of Orion at all, for worrying about what might be
going on behind her back. And it seemed that the Monk wasn't as competent
with the Time Scoop as he made out; several times, she'd seen spinning
conelike shapes floating through the air, but they hadn't paid the slightest
attention to her. In the end, she'd had to run after one and practically
throw herself at it to get her ride back to Nameless.
Those two scatterbrains had probably sung their song, whatever it was, and
then left the children to their own devices for... She tried to make an
estimate of the time. Long enough to cause any mayhem you cared to think of,
at least. Was there a bright side to look on? She looked at the nursery. It
was still standing; that would have to do. Time to find out the worst.
The lobby looked pretty much as she'd remembered it, except for a large
scribbled design on the wall. Little Rose, wax crayon in hand, was
concentrating so hard on adding to this that she didn't notice Izzy until
"Now," said Izzy, taking hold of the hand with the crayon. "What do you
think you're doing, miss?"
"Drawring picthith," replied Rose. "I drawed a bad wolf."
Izzy took another look at the scribble, but failed to discern any
representational quality in it. Not so much a bad wolf, she decided, as a
downright dreadful one.
"Come with me," she said, and led her to the door to the main hall.
It could, she concluded five seconds later, have been a lot worse. The roof
was still on, the windows retained their glass, and no-one had opened up a
dimensional singularity anywhere. The tables and chairs seemed to be pretty
intact, though having them all in an apparently random heap at one end of
the room was certainly not the preferred configuration. And the floor wasn't
actually awash with spilled water, glue, paint, papier-mache or worse. In
fact, apart from the fact that everything and everyone was covered with
glitter, it wasn't too much more chaotic than what she'd normally consider
a 'bad day'.
Now, what were the children doing? Most of the boys, it seemed, were
engaged in a mountaineering expedition on the heap of furniture. Notable
exceptions were the young Jack, who was jumping up and down on the top of it
shouting "I'm the king of the castle!", Bruce, who had joined some of the
girls in exploring the potential of the dressing-up box, and the little
Tenth Doctor, who was apparently engaged in listening to the other side of
the wall on which Rose had been drawing. The girls, whether dressing up or
not, were scattered throughout the hall in clumps.
Before Izzy could make a more detailed appraisal of the situation, the
door to the kitchen opened, and Jamie entered wearing an apron over his
kilt and carrying a mop.
"Zoe," he began. "Where did you leave-"
He suddenly caught sight of Izzy.
"Oh. Um. How are you?"
Despite her resolve to be angry, Izzy almost felt inclined to laugh at the
panicked expression on his face.
"I've had better days," she replied levelly.
"Ah. Well, I've got tae go and -"
"Not so fast. You were calling out to Zoe. Is she still here too?"
"Aye, she..." he pointed.
Izzy took a closer look at one of the knots of children. Kneeling among
them, she now saw, was Zoe, looking somewhat dishevelled and - thanks to the
omnipresent glitter - even more sparkly than usual. She was holding the two
little Romanas at arm's length on either side of her; they, in turn, were
holding the opposite ends of a white lace-covered dress.
"Afternoon, Zoe," Izzy called to her.
Zoe looked up guiltily. The two Romanas took this opportunity to renew
their tug of war with the dress.
"Er, Izzy, can I just say I'm really sorry..." Zoe mumbled.
It was getting very hard not to laugh now.
"Just carry on as you are, Zoe. You're doing fine. I'll look in on you
again in an hour or two - or maybe next month," Izzy said. Putting her
arm round Jamie's shoulder, she turned her back on the tableau and drew
him to one side. From behind her came the sound of rending cloth and
childish howls of rage.
"Jamie, a word." she said. "I can guess most of what's been going on, but
something puzzles me. It looks like you've managed to keep things more or
less under control..."
Jamie's expression suggested he doubted this.
"... but what on earth happened to get this stuff" - she indicated the
glitter - "everywhere?"
"That," Jamie replied, "would be her."
He pointed to the top of a tall cupboard. Placidly sitting on it was the
toddler version of Zoe herself, still scooping handfuls of glitter from an
immense plastic box and throwing them out into the room. A toy pistol crudely
labelled GLITTER GUN hung from her belt. Seeing the pair looking at her, she
sent a couple of handfuls their way and giggled.
"Why didn't you take the box away from her?"
"D'ye think we didnae try? Every time she" - he jerked his thumb over his
shoulder - "managed to take it off her and hide it, she" - he nodded at the
girl on the cupboard - "would have it back in five minutes. It didnae matter
where we put it.
"Sometimes I think," he added confidentially, "she's too clever for her
And Izzy wasn't entirely certain which Zoe he meant.
[This more or less concludes the series begun by 'Zoe Heriot and the
Elf-Knight', at least from my point of view.]