Author's notes: This story is dedicated to gidget89 and penguinspy42, who are really bad influences on me. Really. Actually, they're wonderful, and it was their talking about what we would love to see in the Christmas Special that prompted this story. If you're confused by the ending, take this as an excuse to re-watch "A Good Man Goes to War."
"Christmas Eve with the Ponds"
On Christmas Eve 2011, Amy Pond opened her front door to find Santa Claus on her front stoop.
"Ho, ho, ho!" The Doctor jovially proclaimed, battered Santa hat angled jauntily on his head, and a small sack swung over his shoulder.
Amy broke out laughing. "You're not fooling anyone," she declared, then pulled him into a hug.
"Well, I tried. I do get points for trying, Amelia Pond."
"That you do. Happy Christmas." Amy kissed his cheek and ushered him in.
"Hey!" Rory said from the front room, where he had the game on and was wrapping the last of the gifts.
"Rory the Roman!" The Doctor dropped the bag in Amy's hands so he could hug him. "How's the car?"
"Already got two speeding tickets," Amy said a bit gleefully. "One more, and they're pulling his license."
Rory rolled his eyes at her over the Doctor's shoulder. "We weren't going to say anything about that," he hissed.
"I said I wasn't going to say anything to your parents. I didn't say anything about the Doctor." Amy put the bag on the sideboard and grinned in amusement as the Doctor's gaze flitted about the room as if he was trying to look to see if anyone else was there without making it look obvious that he was. He failed. Miserably. Amy bit her lip, trying not to laugh as the Doctor rocked back on his heels, wandered over to the tree and shoved his hands in his pockets, pretending to look greatly interested in an ornament as he cast another not-so-discreet glance around the room.
After a couple minutes of this, Amy decided to have mercy. "She's in the kitchen, Doctor."
The Doctor startled as if he had been in deep thought, but his eyes lit up. "I'm sorry, who? Is someone else here? I was just looking at this petrified rock. Did you pick it up from Y'traina? I didn't think I'd taken you there, but things were awfully fuzzy after the …"
"Oh, you're not fooling anyone. Again," Amy steered the Doctor away from the tree. "And that's an ornament Rory made when he was six."
"It's suppose to be my gran's dog," Rory said, giving the ornament a sideways glance. "Not a petrified rock," he muttered under his breath.
"Don't waste time in here when we all know you really want to see her. Go on!" Amy nudged the Doctor until he was steered in the right direction. "And, it's after Area 52," she called after him, then rejoined Rory at the tree as he studied the ornament.
"You know, it's still hard to believe we're his in-laws," Rory muttered.
"Tell me about it. Still all sorts of weird." Amy rearranged a strand of lights.
Rory held up the ornament. "Does this look like a petrified rock?"
"Yes." Amy kissed his cheek. "But, I still love it."
Then, when Rory wasn't looking, Amy shoved the ornament deep into the tree and out of sight.
The Doctor took his time wandering through the hall to the kitchen at the rear of the house, because Amy was wrong, and he most certainly wasn't looking forward to seeing a certain member of the Pond family even though he wanted to race down the hall. It really was a nice house. Nice floors. Nice paint job. Nice pictures on the walls. Nice kitchen tile. He froze in the door and swallowed hard as all the tension suddenly drained out of his body, and for the first time in days, everything felt right in the world.
Very nice River.
Her back was to him as she worked at the counter next to the oven. He heard her humming beneath her breath, and with a bit of delight, realized she had the Beatles on her mind. She wore a dress, a longer style than what Amy usually chose to wear. She was doing something with her hands that involved dough, but really he was more focused on her legs. They were very nice legs, all nice and leggy. The skirt swished around the back of her knees as she moved, and when the timer on the oven went off … his breath sucked in a bit when she leaned over to get the tray out, the skirt molding itself very nicely to parts. Very nice parts. Really, she could stay bent over like that for a very long time, and he wouldn't be upset at all.
"I'm not going to remain bent over the oven so you can check out my bum." River straightened and turned with a tray in hand and an amused smile. "Hello, sweetie." Her eyebrow winged up. "Just what is that on your head?"
"Santa hat!" The Doctor pointed to the hat with a bit of glee and headed straight for the cookies. "I'm Santa!"
"No, you're not." River held the tray away from the Doctor. "To Santa and the cookies. You're just going to -"
"Ow!" The Doctor had reached around her, snatched a hot cookie from the tray, and he was now bouncing it from hand to hand to cool it slightly before shoving it all in his mouth.
"Never mind." River took advantage of the close proximity to immediately snatch the hat off his head.
She calmly fed it into trash compactor.
"I promised Amy and Rory I wouldn't use weapons in their kitchen," River said somewhat regretfully.
"Hat murderer!" He said with a point of his now-sticky fingers. "You'll get a lump of coal in your stocking for that!"
"I'm rather hoping to get a lump of something else, my love. As someone likes to say, I've been a bad, bad girl." River's gaze raked down the Doctor's thin frame, and he immediately flushed and peered anxiously over his shoulder as if expecting the mighty hand of Rory Williams to come swooping into the kitchen and strike him down for having some very naughty thoughts about his daughter, when it was clearly all River's fault to begin with.
Just for that, he stole another cookie.
Even though officially it was their second Christmas as a married couple, and their first in their new home, Amy and Rory had told their families they preferred to spend Christmas Eve on their own, then they would come visiting after the Queen's address the next day. The relatives agreed amongst each other that this was quite romantic.
Amy and Rory decided to omit the part where they were spending the holiday with their adult daughter and her husband.
They sat on the floor with glasses of wine, but water for the Doctor, and a game of Monopoly, leisurely playing as Christmas music wafted in the background and snowflakes drifted outside. There was gentle conversation, murmurs of laughter and …
"You two can't just enact a corporate merger!" The Doctor sputtered as Amy and River exchanged money and hotels.
"I believe we just did, sweetie," River said all-too cheerfully.
"And with that, I'm now renting an additional hotel on Marvin Gardens, which means twice the hotel rent for whoever lands there!" Amy said with glee as she jotted it down on a piece of paper.
"It's not in the rules! None of this is in the rules! I was there when they wrote the rules!"
"The version that Elizabeth Phillips came up with or the one that Charles Darrow usurped from her, my love?" River scooped up the dice. "Parker Brothers encourages the use of house rules."
"House rules which are established before the game! Which means this merger is invalid!"
"Actually, there's nothing stating that house rules needed to be established before the game starts." Rory immediately held up his hands when the Doctor glared at him. "Look, she's my wife, and she's my daughter. You really should know when to just smile, nod, and say yes."
River rolled and immediately landed on one of Amy's hotel properties.
"You didn't pay rent," the Doctor pointed out. "Why didn't you pay rent? You're suppose to be out of money by now!"
"Diplomatic immunity," River said calmly. "A condition of the corporate merger."
"House rules!" Amy sang out and poured out more wine.
The Doctor turned to Rory.
"Look, Doctor, no offense, but you own Mediterranean Avenue and a railroad. I'm not merging with you."
Boardwalk was still up for grabs, and when the Doctor landed on it with just a few dollars to his name, it went up for auction.
"$6,000, that Jypsum wine from the 437th century you love, a signed first-edition set of Harry Potter novels from J.K. Rowling, and a warp star," the Doctor said in the latest round of a fierce bidding war with River, the only one who'd bother to even try and keep up with his outrageous offers.
"Warp star? You really know how to flatter a girl. Well, I offer all of that plus a microexplosive detonator and ...," River finished her sentence in a fluid, musical language that caused the Doctor's jaw to drop. He flushed, gave Amy and Rory a very panicked look and immediately pulled one of the sofa pillows onto his lap. He turned back to River. "Really?" he said in a high-pitched squeak and repeated River's Gallifreyan offer.
River said another sentence in the same musical language.
"I believe she's propositioning him in front of us," Amy said, amused.
The Doctor immediately handed River the Boardwalk deed.
"I really hope the soundproofing is decent in this house," he muttered.
"It is," Amy and River said together.
Rory wound up beating all of them.
"The key to winning Monopoly," he told a slightly fuming Amy and an amused River, "is to play steadily and not take excessive risks."
"And hide money under the board where we can't find it, Father," River replied cheekily. She rolled to her feet and collected the wine glasses.
The Doctor looked up from where he was re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets after having gone bankrupt on the move following his ill-fated attempt to snag Boardwalk. He picked up his empty water glass and started to follow her.
"River?" Amy suddenly called out.
"Yes?" River turned, and the Doctor promptly ran into her.
"Oh, nothing." Amy said, her eyes glittering with mischief. She glanced at a fixed point above River's head and smirked.
River raised an eyebrow and took the Doctor's glass from him.
"I believe," Rory said as he stared intently at the piles of Monopoly cash he was sorting, "your mother is trying to get you two under the mistletoe."
The Doctor and River looked up at the same time to see the small sprig that was affixed to the entrance between the front room and the hall.
"Oh, very good, Amy," River said with great appreciation.
"You didn't get it all from that woman," Amy replied. "Now, come on, give me my kiss!"
"I do not kiss for you upon command, Amelia Pond!"
"Really?" River smirked. "You had no problems complying the last time she got you to kiss her." She laughed at his appalled look, as he sputtered and tried to talk over her. "You didn't think I didn't know? Sweetie, she told me when I was still in my last regeneration! How else did I know you were hot?"
"Really?" He cut off the protest. "You honestly thought I was hot?"
"Of course. I still think you're hot," she purred, her voice dropping in a way that made him swallow hard and wish for the sofa pillow. She deposited the glasses on a table and pulled him into a kiss, hands sliding into his hair as he sputtered with surprise at first, then gave himself over to it, his hands slipping around her waist as he pressed himself into her, forgetting completely about Amy and Rory.
The Ponds went to bed shortly after that, Amy cornering the Doctor in the upstairs hall by the bathroom.
"Look," she said, "we both know you're going to have sex with River in our house. Just please, try to keep the noise to a level where Rory and I can pretend to live in blissful ignorance?" She kissed his forehead while he blushed and stammered.
"Amelia Pond," he said in a righteous voice, straightening his lapels. "You shouldn't be talking like that. You're much too young for that sort of thing."
Amy rolled her eyes. "It was that sort of thing on the TARDIS that brought her about to begin with. Besides, Rory about had to bring out his gladius to break you up under the mistletoe, and I saw where your hands roamed, Raggedy Man. Just … why am I even bothering with this? I'm rubbish at this mother-in-law stuff. You know, go have wild shagging parties on the front lawn in leather bikinis in the snow. Night!" She slipped into the bedroom, leaving the Doctor with a visual he was very anxious to purge from his mind.
He decided to go looking for River instead but didn't find her in the bedroom Amy indicated she'd fixed up for them, in the bathroom or in the kitchen. He did find more cookies, which he helped himself to, taking care to pick out ones he knew River had made. Munching on them, he started for the door, thinking she might have gone to the TARDIS, when he noticed the lit Christmas tree. He peeked in the room and spotted River lying on the carpet, halfway under the tree. Worried a bit at first that she'd collapsed, he quickly swallowed the last of the cookies and dropped to his knees next to her.
"You're a selfish cookie hoarder, you know that?" River murmured as she stared up at the tree.
"I saved you a cookie."
"And where is it?"
"Well done, my love."
He sprawled out next to her and peered up through the tree. Lights spilled over the branches in a rainbow of hues, catching the corners of glass ornaments and making them sparkle. He noticed Rory's petrified rock had been moved to the deepest inner-most branch of the tree that could be found.
"What're we looking at?" he asked after a moment.
"The lights," she whispered back.
"Why are we whispering?"
"Because it feels like a whispering moment." She slipped a hand into his. "I just wanted to look at the lights."
He wasn't sure why looking at the lights was fascinating, but he was willing to play along. It was mostly quiet. A bit of wind outside, and he could hear the fridge humming from the kitchen, but otherwise it was about as peaceful as you could get in the middle of Leadworth. He thought about scooting closer to River, but she seemed unusually pensive. That meant she would either be receptive or he'd be in much pain. When she moved closer on her own, he wrapped an arm around her.
"When I was a little girl, I always wanted a Christmas like this," she admitted. "Amy and Rory always had it with their families, but it wasn't allowed for me. I told you about being raised by the Church, how I was never allowed to be alone. If I had a Christmas in the orphanage, I don't remember. I told myself I didn't care, but I did. That's why I never celebrated it in university, even that one time you showed up, and you tried so hard. Bless."
He didn't remember that, which meant he was going to walk out the door and do it once he got rid of the sadness in River's eyes.
"I used to wonder what it would be like to have Santa actually leave me something," she said with a somewhat bitter laugh. "I was the one who told Rory that Santa wasn't real. He cried and cried, and it was the only time Amy ever punched me."
"Really?" The Doctor said, imagining the fury of little Amelia Pond and how she protected Rory, even against her own best friend.
"I honestly thought we weren't going to be friends anymore, but Amy gave me my first Christmas gift the next day. It was a hat, because I lost mine, and the Church said I would have to earn another. I never told them where I got it, but I bet they knew."
He was quiet for a moment, doing his best to control the rolling anger that was making him restless. He had no regret at all for what he had done to the Silence and to the Church at Demon's Run. None. Still, it was the last thing River needed at the moment, and he made himself calm down. "If you wanted Santa to come, what did you want him to bring you?"
She smiled. "You'll laugh."
"No, I won't," he said, earnestly.
"Yes, you will, my love. I know you'll laugh."
"You wanted a Tickle Me Elmo, right? Those were cool."
"No!" She jabbed his side. "I wanted a Furby. I was 9."
"You mean …"
"Yes. I wanted a furry replica of an Adipose."
They laughed until they nearly cried, but he silently ached for the lost, young girl who'd instead of having ordinary human things such as Christmas and Santa Claus and ice skating and Furbies had spent every moment of her time being trained into a weapon to kill him.
She loomed over him, her fingers dancing over his shirt buttons and up to his bowtie, playing with the knot. "You know what would be extremely naughty? Having sex under my parents' Christmas tree."
"You bad, bad girl," he said with a bit of reproach and a mischievous grin, his hand already sneaking its way under her skirt as he met her halfway. It really was a delightful kiss, all of them were with her. She tasted of time, the sugar cookies she'd sneaked for herself and the slight acidic taste that he associated with the vortex. It was so easy to lose himself in her, and with a sudden thrill, he realized that this was their first true Christmas together. There were so few things they were actually on the same page for, and this happened to be one of them. It was fate's gift to them, and he intended to take advantage of every single moment.
Then, he suddenly rolled off her.
River propped herself on her elbows, dress unbuttoned and her hair delightfully mussed. "What's wrong?"
"Need to do something. Just a mo'." The Doctor quickly scurried out of the room. He returned five minutes later sans braces and jacket and with a very pleased smile.
"What did you do, my love?"
"Left a message for Amy and Rory."
The next morning ...
"Yeah, Rory?" She wandered out of the bathroom with her toothbrush sticking out of her mouth.
Rory stood in the bedroom doorway and pointed to the stairs. "Why are there balloons all up and down the banister?"