Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in anyway associated with, Doctor Who. I'm just taking the characters out for a spin.

Birthday

"So, what is it?" Amy asks, walking along cautiously behind the Doctor. For reasons he hasn't explained yet they're being covert, sneaking around the hospital and hiding in janitors' closets and patients' rooms at the first sign of- well, she's not sure. His system for determining who is untrustworthy in this situation is a bit scattered.

"What is what?" he asks, looking around a corner before leading the way quickly across the hall.

"The trouble!"

"Shhhh!" he hisses.

"No, seriously," Rory says, "what is it?" He's walking behind them, not even bothering to sneak, even a little. "Is it like that dream with the old people who were really aliens?"

"Or is there some sort of alien bacteria infecting people?" Amy asks excitedly.

"Oh no," Rory sighs, seeing a sign overhead. "Tell me it's not the babies."

Amy looks up sharply and realizes they've just reached Maternity. They round the next corner and the Doctor they're so used to disappears, replaced quickly by a Doctor who coos and smiles wide enough to make onlookers' cheeks hurt and speaks some alien language that not even he understands.

"Ohhh," Amy sighs. She takes Rory's hand as they come to stand at the window with the Doctor. "But seriously, what are we doing here?"

"Breaking in!" he says excitedly, holding up his screwdriver.

"I don't think you should-" Rory begins but it's too late, the Doctor's already at the door and it swings open for him almost eagerly. Amy tries to follow but Rory's grip on her hand is firm. "We are not going in there."

"Oh, come on," she says lightly.

"No! Amy, those are babies. There is a whole system for keeping them safe and in those beds and in the right beds and what is he doing to that baby?"

Amy's head snaps around and she sees the Doctor inspecting a baby's toes. Sure, maybe he's lifting the legs a bit high and he's not a trained professional but it's not like he's lifting the baby up by its poor head and yes, yes he is.

The Ponds race into the nursery.

"Look at you," they hear the Doctor say, his voice soft and melodious. "Tiny head full of big, big things. You've got your mother's eyes."

"Doctor-"

The baby takes two great gasps of air then begins to cry.

"Oh! And her temper, I see," the Doctor says, hurriedly tucking the baby back in place.

A nurse appears magically and the Doctor covers up for them with the psychic paper. The Ponds don't hear what lie he tells exactly because they're already rushing from the room. They pause, leaning against the wall across the hall from the nursery window and watching the Doctor.

"Oh, listen to that," a woman's voice says from down the hall, "he's got his mother's lungs, that's for sure."

The Ponds look up to see a middle aged blonde woman, followed by an elderly man, as well as a black man who, if his expression of pride and trepidation is any sign, is probably the father.

"We're just visiting," Amy says when the group reaches them.

"Her sister," Rory puts in at the same time as Amy says, "My cousin."

"Cousin's sister-"

"Cousin of my half-sister-"

"-twice removed."

"-on my great uncle's side."

The father is too excited to even have noticed them, the elderly man just chuckles, and the woman frowns disapprovingly.

Suddenly the elderly man goes white as a sheet and begins grasping at the woman. "Syl-Sylvia."

"What is it, Dad?" she asks, more annoyed than concerned. That changes the minute her eyes fall on the nursery. She lets out a scream, then another and another as she rushes for the door. The Doctor seemed almost afraid when he saw her and now that she's coming at him, he's apologizing frantically.

Sylvia drowns out anything he might say, hitting him with her purse and driving him from the nursery where the nurse is now clutching the still-crying baby protectively to her chest.

"Out!" Sylvia cries. "Get out!" The elderly man catches her in the hall and, with some help from the father, holds her back. "You're not allowed!" she wails, tears forming in her eyes.

"Sylvia," the elderly man says gently, patting her hair like she's a child.

"I know," the Doctor says sadly. "I know. They're my rules, I should follow them more." He smiles at the end but none of them are having it and it fades into a sorrowful frown.

"What's going on?" the father asks, confused.

"Nothing," Sylvia says firmly, shaking the men off her and straightening her clothes. "Nothing. This man was just leaving."

"Doctor," Amy says gently, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"I just wanted to see him," he says, trying to smile again. "He's a bright boy. Smart. He'll outshine his mum one day."

Sylvia looks as though she wants to say something to that but all she can do is huff and walk to the window, staring resolutely at the baby.

"It's all right," the old man says, touching the Doctor's other shoulder comfortingly. "We understand. We do. It's just - it's Donna."

The Doctor nods.

The man's eyes drift to Amy and Rory. "Now you two watch out for him. I know he looks like he knows everything and he puts on a good show, but he needs more help with all this nonsense than you do."

"You know me too well, Wilf," the Doctor says, sounding centuries older.

Wilf laughs lightly, squeezes the Doctor's shoulder, and joins Sylvia at the window. When he wraps and arm around her shoulders she falls into him and cries silently.

"You have a beautiful son," the Doctor says to the father, who doesn't know what to do with himself.

He turns on his heel, leading the Ponds away from the nursery.

"Are you going to tell us what that was all about?" Rory asks the second they turn the first corner.

A woman's yelling stops the Doctor from answering. He walks towards the noise, pausing just when he can see through the open doorway it's coming from. A redheaded woman is explaining to a nurse that her hospital meal tastes like roadkill. Rory and Amy share a look of horror and concern. The woman is terrifying.

"That," the Doctor says, nodding to the still yelling woman, "is my best friend."

He walks away before either of the Ponds can ask and when they finally catch up to him at the TARDIS, he's so sad that they let him take them anywhere he wants.


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