The Doctor ran with a pointy party hat on his head, in a game of tag being played by three generations of 12-year-olds.

"Tag, Doctor, you're it!" Dutch yelled with glee and darted aside as the Doctor took a cheerful swipe at him.

"Oh, no!" Amy and Rory looked at each other. The Doctor was it. They both bolted for the sidelines and took themselves out of the game.

They strolled over to the refreshment table in the large backyard, laughing over their shoulders at the image of the Doctor, surrounded by a group of 40 agile 12-year-olds, all darting back and forth as he tried to tag someone. It looked like a game of "Bait the Bear."

A cheerful, roundfaced, 12-year-old girl with brassy-blonde curls handed them both small cups of punch.

"Are you having fun?" she asked, in her best hostess voice.

"Oh yes, Candy. This is great. Thank you for inviting us," Rory said.

"I've never been to a party like this before," Amy said, gesturing over the large yard filled with children.

And some of them were children. A group of six-year-olds clustered around the swings, a section of toddlers played, supervised, in a sandbox beside it. 10-year-olds skulked about their secretive, mischievous party plans. And everywhere, 12-year-olds. Dozens of them. Dutch's family lived in a two-story multigenerational house, customary here the Doctor had said, in a world where young children could be almost as large as the adults.

All these people were cousins and friends and neighbors. Not even Dutch's house could hold them all. But as she looked out over the amazing birthday party, it looked like she and Rory and the Doctor were the only adults here, (although she wasn't sure she could count the Doctor in on that, as he tripped over his own feet and went rolling, yet still stretched out his hands trying to tag anyone in reach, sending the gamers giggling and screaming away.)

As Amy looked around she realize she could sort of tell their ages now. Even though they all looked like kids. The "old folks" sitting in the lawn chairs at the edges of the crowd, talking, the spider-thin wrinkles and gray hair only barely noticeable. The teenagers with their oversized shoes, rockstar T-shirts and surly, superior attitudes. The parents. And the truly 12-year-old 12-year-olds.

Blond, ponytailed, 12-year-old looking Janet, (who Amy now knew was actually older than her, at 28.) Came walking up holding an adorable one-year-old girl with jet black curls.

"Hello, Amelia," Rory said, bending down and chucking the little heartthrob on the nose. "How is the birthday girl?"

Amelia grinned at him and hid her face in her mother's neck, peering out at him with one flirtatious big blue eye.

"She's gorgeous, Janet," Amy said. She grinned as the little girl kept flirting with Rory and he kept being wound effortlessly around her tiny finger.

The Doctor bounced up to them, out of breath, but grinning like a loon. "Happy Birthday!" he said expensively. With an elaborate flicker of his arms he whipped a huge gaudy artificial flower out of his sleeve and presented it to Janet.

He solemnly shook baby Amelia's tiny hand. She stared up at him with wide-eyed fascination and trepidation. He leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially to her. "Keep the name. It's a good name." He tapped the baby on the nose gently. Turned and grinned at Amy. Then whirled and ran back into the crowd of 12-year-olds. "Who's up for a game of "Crack the Whip?" he yelled.

Janet wandered off to show her baby to the other guests. Candy turned to serve some cake to a pair of 8-year-old twins.

"So," Rory said, leaning close to Amy, looking out over the backyard full of children. "How many kids do you want to have?"

Amy gave him a repressive look.


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