AN: Hellloooooooooo! Ok, partly because you were all so incredibly lovely to me, and partly because I missed my characters a bit, and mostly cos it's MaryAndMerlin's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!), here is a little story. It was originally a oneshot but it kind of...escalated. So yes, at most three chapters..or so- but a little 'episode' for Christmas, New Year, and Alice's birthday.

So, for those of you who haven't read them- this is set after my fics: 'The 'L' Word' and 'Growing Up' and this won't make much sense unless you do, so please do check them out. For those of you who have read them, this is set four years after the end of Growing Up. Due to various inevitable mishaps, the Doc, Amy and little Li-Li have missed Christmas and New Year, but Alice's parents have got a little surprise for her...

Remember this is an AU- Sharon is an old lady, Rory was alcoholic and has split with Amy, and Amy's parents aren't back in this. But, Eleven and Amy are in luuuuurve and they have a wonderful little daughter (in spite of the Doctor's fears about a disturbing prophecy he was privy to which he is determined to counteract.)

Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who, or even Matt Smith, which I would be perfectly content with. However, I do own my own original ideas and characters- do not steal. Thanks!

QUOTE: (for posterity's sake if nothing else)

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.

Ok, hopefully you'll pick up the rest as you go along, so, without further ado- Enjoy!

"Happy Birthday Li-li!" The Doctor cried, pressing a button which detonated severally questionably powerful 'party poppers' around the room. Party Poppers which just happened to emit miniature, fiery stars and spirals that hung in the air of Amy's lounge.

As ever, the Doctor's dress was…questionable. His bow tie was every colour of the rainbow and a few that had never been seen on Earth, his shirt was lilac and his tweed suit was as ever, rumpled, quaint, and, in his Amy's opinion; quite adorable. The party hat on his head did push the Time Lord's outfit into the realms of the ridiculous, but then she and the little girl he was grinning at wouldn't have it any other way.

"Daddy- you're late!" The girl laughed, blue-green eyes sparkling and freckle free face glowing with happiness.

The Doctor frowned, pulling out his arm to glance at his watch. "No I'm not."

The girl giggled a little more, auburn hair a mess around her cherubic face. "Yes you are. I turned three one minute and 26- no, 27 seconds ago."

Her father rolled his eyes, but the smile didn't leave his face. "Ha- half human, how would you know?"

For a second the girl's eyes clouded and then she tilted her head to the side. "Cos you're confused."

Amy snorted. "Tell me about it Li-Li, I've been saying it for years." She crouched to give her daughter a hug. "Happy birthday sweetheart."

The three year old nuzzled her mother's shoulder, eyes squeezed shut and the Doctor threw his hands into the air in mock exasperation, catching a few ribbons of light, which slipped silkily over his fingers.

The doorbell rang and Amy kissed her daughter on the forehead before going out to see who it was. Meanwhile the Doctor was resolutely staring away from the little girl a few feet away from him. Instead he began to ramble to the rest of the Pond's living room.

"Oh sure. Not like I set this all up for you. Not like I did my best to make it go off at the exact time you were born. Not like I nearly got dragged to Jupiter XII by the TARDIS having a tizzy fit just because we were settling down for your birthday, again. But noooo, none of this matters- I don't get a hug, I don't even get-"

He broke off when a tiny hand caught hold of the bottom of his sleeve, little fingers brushing the back of his hand. Inadvertently he glanced downwards. Big, beautiful, beseeching moss and slate eyes gazed up at him.

"Daddy…you know I didn't mean it. I love Mummy just as much as you do. I-I didn't mean to upset you." The eyes began to well up and that was about all the nine hundred year old, war hardened Time Lord could take.

Easily, he scooped her up into his arms, discarding the shards of light he'd been playing with. "Don't be silly Alice. I'm your Daddy- I can't actually get upset with you about anything, hey?" He smiled into her eyes, his own creasing at the edges as he gently rubbed her button nose with his.

Tilting her head back, Alice planted a sticky kiss on the Doctor's cheek. "Kay." Nodding happily, and somewhat relieved that his parenting skills hadn't yet let him down too badly, the Doctor suddenly swung his daughter forwards, holding her under her arm pits and surveying her as if she were some unusual cross breed of an alien species he'd not yet encountered.

Mentally he chuckled at the similarities between the metaphor and reality.

Wearing a sweet, slightly old fashioned white lace dress the Doctor and Amy had managed to fish from the TARDIS' wardrobe, Alice was the poster child of an innocent, beautiful, Victorian girl. Her auburn hair tumbled by now to her shoulders and her somewhat chubby cheeks were rosy, dimpling when she squealed and giggled. Her skin was pale and clear, her eyes were bright and the swirling, dancing lights, and stars behind her made her look fairly surreal.

Considering not only could she read minds, but also calculate any time to within a human second and occasionally jump through space and time of her own volition, the illusion wasn't all that misleading.

"Yes…" The Doctor murmured, having studied her for a moment, considered how similar she was to the girl a very deadly plant had shown him a long time ago. "You'll do."

Alice raised her arms in the air, entirely trusting her father. "Yaaaay! I passed!"

She leaned forward and he brought her back to his chest, blowing a raspberry into her neck. "Of course you did, I'm far too soft around you."

"Daddy- you're the Oncoming Storm, you can't be 'soft'." The Doctor paused for a moment, unnerved by the maturity and truth in his three year old's words. Then he shrugged and spun her round, clutching her close.

"I can try."

Alice shrieked in surprise and laughter, and as they slowed she reached up, tiny fingers just catching hold of one of the ribbons of light. Ever so gently she brought it down to cup it between her hand, eyes round and mouth slightly open as it wriggled against her flesh, shedding light where it went.

"Daddy…what is it?" She said it in a hushed voice, as if she was afraid she'd frighten the thing in her hand, but also in the tone of someone whose said the same thing a hundred thousand times before, and never gets tired of it.

The Doctor smiled. "This, Li-Li is a Xyxyr."

"A six-ear?"

He chuckled good naturedly, flopping down on the blue linen sofa and repositioning her in his lap, both of them ignoring entirely the haphazard mound of presents in the corner of the lounge near the fireplace.

"Close enough."

"Where are they from?"

"An intergalactic fire river off the Silver Stream in the 72nd century Earth time, in the Sanlo galaxy. I'll take you there some time."

Alice nodded, and the Doctor could literally feel the excitement radiating from her little body. Really, she was a psychic atom bomb. After a few moments she looked back down at her hand, where the ribbon had curled up and was pulsing gently.

"How-" She frowned, trying to figure out how to phrase the question, but the Doctor got the gist.

"The fire river's are created by what the humans commonly know as river spirits, or djinni- they're actually a semi-sentient, semi-corporeal race called the Portyra which feed on the electrified dust particles discharged from the Silver Stream. They spread out, a bit like gaseous jellyfish. Sort of. Well, not really." Alice giggled and the Doctor proffered her in return a light smile. "Thanks for your support. Anyway, they spread out, and occasionally slightly larger bits of debris collide with them and rip the main form and pieces are torn off- the Portyra exist as beings of energy and thus these smaller fragments remain just that- uncorrupted by their detachment, but no longer intelligent life forms. Just…shards of half liquid light, midway between gas and solid. The humans fish for them in metal ships that look a lot like the yachts they have in this century, and sell them as party ornaments and the like."

"What utter nonsense is he speaking this time? Honestly Michael, I can't understand half of that, let alone your 3 year old daughter. Amy, love, how do you manage?" The Doctor jumped up and rubbed the back of his neck uneasily as Amy's sweet but opinionated Aunt Sharon walked in.

They'd tried, tried very hard, to explain to her Aunt who and what he was- however, as it had turned out, Sharon took 'grounded' to new heights, or rather, depths, and in the end they'd given up and explained that he was an eccentric scientist named Michael Smith, (being John had felt too bizarre- to live as him on Earth brought up too many memories) given to the odd wander into fantasy. Since he'd seemed harmless enough, and provided a daughter no one could help but love, she'd dismissed it, but it didn't prevent the odd snide remark now and then.

The Doctor laughed a little- clearly forcing it, and then coughed when Sharon just stared at him and Alice gave him a questioning look. "Sorry Li-li, Auntie Sharon's right, I got them from Wilkinsons," He gestured at the serenely dancing lights, "the wonders of modern technology eh?"

Mentally, he quickly pierced Alice with a stare, 'you know the drill kiddo.' She nodded and then forced a giggle- which sounded far less fake than the Doctor's had been, and shook her head- waves flying.

"Silly Daddy." Then she turned to Sharon. "But it was a pretty story Auntie." The way she looked right then, you'd have thought it was Alice's sheer magnetism alone that held her Aunt enthralled. The Doctor, however, being a Time Lord and totally oblivious (generally) to his daughter's charms, easily picked up on the psychic waves the girl was trying to exert over her stubborn aunt.

Quickly he walked over, resting a light, restraining hand on her shoulder, which made it to the dizzying heights of somewhere above his knee.

To Sharon he gave his most charming smile, even as she stared, mouth slightly ajar, at her great niece. "I guess she's biased towards me, honestly, I get far too much leeway from her."

To Alice he muttered, mentally, 'Sweetheart, it's not going to work- I've tried it before, and, powerful as you may be, if you keep going you're going to drive her crazy. As in, shatter her mind.' When your daughter was trying to psychically manipulate your partner's aunt, there weren't a whole lot of other things to say and the Doctor was nothing if not honest.

Almost unnervingly, Alice transferred her gaze to him. 'But Dad!'

The Doctor wiggled his eyebrows and the answer was clear- this had happened before anyway- she should have known she'd get the same response. 'No. Absolutely and categorically no way. Negative ghostrider, the pattern is full. No, with a fez.'

Alice snorted and her concentration broke, leaving Sharon to absently murmur, "yes…" And wander over to the pile of presents, withdrawing a parcel from her oversized carpet bag.

Seizing the opportunity, the Doctor leaned down and murmured into Alice's ear, "what made you laugh? Was it the fez? Say it was the fez." Though it would probably have been easier, Amy drew the line at non-human conversations she couldn't take part in unless it was an absolute emergency. Plus, considering her tendency to try and manipulate people in a way she thought was good for them, it was probably best not to encourage Alice down the psychic route.

Alice shook her head. "Daddy, you add the fez to everything. You even asked me if I wanted pancakes with a fez, silly!" The Doctor sighed, sitting cross legged on the carpet next to the presents- even standing, Alice was shorter than the pile. He'd like to think he didn't spoil her, but sometimes it was hard to resist.

"No, it was the Top Gun reference: you sounded so…human."

The alien quirked an eyebrow, self consciously adjusting his party hat and wondering when Amy was planning on bringing in Rory and the others. If he didn't know any better, he'd nearly feel a smidgen jealous. But just a smidgen. "Are you saying I don't make a good human?"

Alice bit her lip. "Nooooo, but I've seen other aliens make a more convincing one. You are very good." And she wrapped her arms around his waist- or as far as they would reach anyway. The Doctor shook his head, glancing up as Amy finally made her way back in and taking his last chance to whisper into his daughter's ear.

"Don't you twist words with me missy- I am the scrabble master." Alice squealed.

"Can we play later?" The Doctor stroked her hair, which was fine and soft and almost downy, like a baby birds. "Of course we can Li, it's January 13th- it's your birthday."

She clapped her hands in delight and then skipped over to Rory. "Uncle Beaky!" Rory rolled his eyes and laughed, scooping her up and kissing her cheek.

"Hey Li-Li, you ok?" As Rory played with his daughter, the Doctor studied him carefully. His chin was covered in a rough crop of brown fuzz and there were shadows under his eyes- but his gaze looked clear and his skin was healthy. Most importantly, though the Doctor's sensitive nostrils flared, there was no trace of alcohol on him.

At last Rory set Alice down, putting out a hand to the Doctor which the Time Lord took and used to pull him into a hug.

"I'm impressed ."

Rory laughed. "I try. Besides, with Mary, it would be wrong to not even try."

The Doctor beamed and Rory shrugged bashfully before walking over to the middle of the room to set down his present for Alice. Or rather, his three presents.

Once her father was gone, a little girl, more slender than Alice- with big, solemn brown eyes, iron straight wisps of blonde hair and a huge, gap toothed smile reached out her arms.

"Uncle Doctor!" The Doctor grinned and crouched down, pulling her into a gentle hug.

"Hello Mary- how are you these days?"

She nodded enthusiastically. "Good thanks, look! I lost a tooth!" Mary was six- double Alice's age, but due to Alice's…lineage they were incredibly similar in size and maturity- they were also great friends.

At that moment, in fact, Alice came giggling over with a fistful of something and grabbed Mary's arm, pulling her away to show her the fragments of Portyra.

The Doctor shook his head and looked up from where he was crouched, straight into the eyes of Rory's fiancé, Claire.

Brushing down his trousers, the Doctor stood, eyes gleaming. "Hello again, nice to see you've stuck around."

Claire was a slender, bird like woman, with a bob of blonde hair as straight as her daughter's, and friendly blue eyes. Unlike Sharon, she knew the truth about Amy Pond's husband and daughter, and accepted it.

"Nice to see you again Doctor. Been keeping out of trouble?"

He shrugged uneasily. "Weeell, y'know."

She laughed and reached out to hug him. "Thought so."

Once they were all inside, Amy shut the door, then looked at the Doctor for a prompt. He nodded and she stepped on a lever on the floor.

Suddenly a Christmas tree, fully decorated and nearly 6 foot tall, burst from a trapdoor in the floor. Sharon jumped, Rory jumped, Claire laughed and the girls squealed.

"Happy Christmas Alice!" Amy cried, impressed by the Doctor's contraption, which had settled and now sat silently in the corner of the room as if it had always been there.

Alice shook her head, turning to her father. "Daddy- that really is late." The Doctor shrugged as Rory snorted with laughter.

"Yeah, I know- but you didn't think I'd make you miss Christmas did you Li?"

She looked from him to the Christmas tree, glowing with earthly and unearthly decorations and baubles. "Thankyou!"

"No worries, aaaand," he held up a remote with a big red button in the centre, and Rory grabbed Sharon and Mary- taking them a step back. The Doctor with a red button never ended well. The Time Lord pressed it and miniature fireworks burst into the air as he cried, "Happy new Year!"

Mary wriggled out of her father's grip to jump up and down, laughing, with Mary, as they watched the fireworks burst into the midst of the shards of Portyra, which lazily drifted away from the tiny explosions.

Sharon, from her seat on the sofa, looked up at the Doctor with narrow eyes, and he shrugged, speaking in a stage whisper. "Wilkinsons, there was a 3 for 2 deal on offer."

Claire muffled a laugh with her sleeve and Rory shook his head, grinning. Amy, at the corner of the room, watching her best friend's daughter, her love and her own child laughing and smiling beneath the dancing light, felt her heart swell with joy. Then she pulled herself away from the wall and clapped her hands.

"Ok, presents!"

Mary and Alice squealed and Amy knelt down next to the pile, the Doctor immediately settling beside her, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and kissing her cheek. Alice giggled and Mary made a face whilst Amy blushed. Then the Doctor turned to the pile.

"Is there an Alice Pond somewhere around here?" Alice jumped up and down, both arms in the air.

"Ooooh, yes Daddy it's me, pick me!"

He passed her the present and gave another to Mary and both began to open them eagerly. Outside, it began to snow.

Claire had settled down next to her daughter and the Doctor was explaining how to play the intergalactic panpipes he'd given Alice. Sharon presided over everything with her nose slightly in the air, though there was a curl at the side of her wrinkled mouth. Only Rory, about to join the others, took a moment to glance out of the window. He frowned, absently taking out his iphone and tapping the screen a few times, eyes widening as he looked at the screen.

Once he was within a few feet of the group the Doctor caught the look. "Rory?" His tone had subtly altered, hinting at the man who had lead millions of people to freedom and safety and justice. "What's wrong?"

Rory's fiancé glanced up, concerned, and Amy frowned a little whilst the girls remained absorbed in their presents- though the Doctor felt a spike of interest from Alice.

"It's snowing."

The Time Lord frowned. "Yes, Rory. It's winter in England. It does that sometimes."

Rory shook his head. "I get that Doctor, but this- it can't be snow."

Amy spoke up, head tilted to the side, eyes glancing between her husband's face and the light snowfall outside. "How do you mean?"

Rory thrust the iphone into their faces, where a weather app showed the temperature. It read 10 degrees Celsius.

"So if it can't be snow…" Slowly the Doctor stood up, Amy next to him, absently lacing her fingers with his as they went to the window.

"What is it?"

The wonders of modern technology eh? And Wilkinsons- ha, oh Sharon, you really have no idea...Anyone have any theories yet?

Please do let me know, I really appreciate your comments, and most of all, I hope MaryAndMerlin really enjoyed this!

Thanks for reading, as ever,