Author's Notes: I do not own Doctor Who, the Doctor, Donna, Amy Rory or Winnie the Pooh. They all belong to other people.
This is the first part of a new series with heavy emphasis on Ginger Time Babies. It is also pretty much AU, I mean do I have to say that? Does it help people? It should not really bear any resemblance to Series Five or Six, except for the presence of Amy and Rory. Please let me know what you think and enjoy.
Amy Pond went to the front door to collect her mail. She picked it up to find the usual assortment of bills, catalogs and another blue envelope.
It was always the same color, the same shade of blue. She had followed them before and they led to nowhere. Well, almost, they led to her being around when something strange happened in London. The first had been the day of the Dalek invasion and the planets in the sky when it led her to an old man with plans to take out them out with a paint ball gun. The next time had been Christmas Eve of the same year where she was led to an ordinary street being quarantined by the army or something. Then they consistently led her to a park nearby the same street. Most people would have just given up, but the next time was in the middle of the 456 incident, by the same house and then a series of directions around London like a scavenger hunt. Then the strangest one was the most recent Christmas and a request to go to Santa's Grotto at Harrod's.
She opened up this one just as there was a knock on the door. She opened the without looking, entirely fixated on her envelope.
"You didn't even look up." He saw the opened envelope in her hands. "Another one?"
"Yeah. A weird one."
"Anyway, I was thinking, this Sunday is Valentine's Day and I'm not doing anything and if you're not doing anything, you and I could do something. Not like a date or anything-"
"I have plans Valentine's Day," said Amy staring at the card in the envelope.
"I have to go to London. You can drive me."
"What's in London?"
"This," she said and passed him the card.
"Oh, Amy, no. Not again!"
"I have to figure out who keeps sending me these, Rory. And look this one's an invitation."
Rory read it aloud: "'Laughing, crawling, growing up fast… Since she arrived a year has passed. So join us for cake, food, and fun, Let's celebrate… Zara is one! Fourteenth of February two thousand and ten at two o'clock in the afternoon.' Amy, do you actually know Zara?"
"No, but I have an invitation to her birthday party."
"Amy, you can't crash a one year old's birthday party!"
Amy shrugged. "I'll buy her a present."
"You are barking mad!," screamed Donna.
The Doctor pushed Zara's pink pram the final foot inside the TARDIS and locked the door. Donna leaned against the railing, wanting to collapse.
"Completely, one hundred percent bonkers!," she continued having regained a little breath. She rested her hand on her belly to feel the baby kicking like mad after the latest excitement. Running, she thought, so not for pregnant women. This was not about to be an Olympic event any time soon.
"Are you alright?," asked the Doctor.
Donna nodded and knelt down to Zara. She couldn't believe what she saw.
"She's asleep," said Donna in dismay. She looked up at the Doctor. "How can she be asleep?"
The Doctor shrugged. "Well, when you need a nap, you need a nap, I suppose."
There was a banging on the TARDIS door.
"Bloody villagers," muttered the Doctor. He strode over to the console and his fingers started flying across as he dematerialized the TARDIS.
Donna pushed Zara's pram further down into the console. "The next time you want to insult a tribal chieftain, would you mind letting me get inside the TARDIS first?"
"I wasn't going to marry her, Donna, she wasn't even ginger."
"I appreciate the consideration, but this big bump here isn't just decoration, you know. I am carrying an entire other living, breathing Time Baby slash human being in here. And she's heavy."
The Doctor looked puzzled. "She was just around five pounds last time we checked."
"Fine. You carry the next one and tell me how easy it is."
Just then the TARDIS began to play the most exasperating tune.
"What is that?," he squeaked. "Is that 'Happy Birthday'?"
Donna was suddenly excited. "That's the alarm!"
"For Zara's birthday!"
"Oh, good. Happy birthday, Zara. Now, how do I turn it off?"
"Our baby is a year old. Is that as enthusiastic as you're going to get?"
"Donna, I've had a lot of birthdays. Trust me, one isn't the most memorable one. Two hundred and seven, that was a good one." He looked up from the console and saw Donna's expression. "Oh, blimey."
"One! She's one year old! It only happens once! She'll never be one again! I have a party all sorted out and I set the alarm so we wouldn't miss it in your timey wimey phone box!"
"Am I going back to the house then?"
"Yes," said Donna. "Oh, to the fourteenth, though, the fifteenth is a Monday and I wanted everyone to be able to come."
"It's not even the right day!," exclaimed the Doctor.
The Doctor, Donna and Zara soon arrived back at the Smith house. Ianto and Martha were in the sitting room decorating with pink streamers and balloons.
"Is this how Torchwood spends its time now?," asked the Doctor.
"Doctor!," exclaimed Martha.
"Only since we opened our Time Baby Services division," Ianto said drily.
Martha rushed up and hugged the Doctor. She got a look at Donna and hugged her.
"You're looking well. How are you feeling?"
"Fine, except for when he tries to kill me," said Donna motioning her head at the Doctor.
"Zara, can I hold you?," asked Martha, gingerly taking the baby from Donna. "You've gotten so big! I can't believe you're a whole year old! You were just a tiny little thing a year ago!"
Ianto got down from putting up the streamers. "The baker's is delivering the cake in an hour, caterers in two. Guests are set to arrive in three hours. "
"There are caterers?," asked the Doctor with disdain.
"You see, sweetheart, we don't actually live here so if we want to have people over and not have them starve, the food has to come from somewhere," said Donna. She looked at Martha. "Would you mind looking after her for a bit so I can take a bath?"
"No problem," said Martha. "We're going to have fun, won't we, Zara?"
Donna went upstairs and the Doctor sat down to chat up Martha and Ianto. Zara sat on Martha's lap and became intrigued by Martha's dangling and sparkling earrings.
"So, how is Torchwood?," asked the Doctor. "Did you and Wilf ever find the Pternadon?"
"Yes, it was quite a weekend," said Ianto.
"The Hub's been rebuilt," said Martha. "Ianto did most of it."
"Yes, we finally got some decent lighting."
"Mickey and I are there now, so there's six of us."
"Six?," asked the Doctor.
"New girl," muttered Ianto.
"Sorry?," asked the Doctor.
"I'm going to go get the banner out of the Land Rover," said Ianto leaving.
Martha sat and balanced Zara on her knee. "The new girl is as incorrigible as Jack if you catch my meaning."
"Oh, so she and Jack...?"
"Oh, yeah. Big time," said Martha. "She's good at her job at least, but it's made things rather tense."
"She's not coming, is she?"
"Well, we had to leave someone behind to look after the weevils. I had to talk her out of it, though, who wants to come to a birthday party for a baby they don't even know? She doesn't even seem like the baby type."
"Zara baby," said Zara.
"Oh, I know," said Martha. "Are you ready to be a big sister, though?"
Zara muttered something in High Gallifreyan and all Martha could make out was "Chloe."
"Chloe?," asked Martha.
The Doctor looked sternly at Zara. "Now, you remember what we said about language."
"What did she say?"
"It's the TARDIS trying to translate for you, you're only making out part of a Gallifreyan nickname for an annoying baby sister."
Martha snorted. "Cheeky Zara!"
"It's not funny, Donna actually thinks Zara is trying to name the baby. She doesn't really like the name, but she thinks it's going to make Zara feel important to name her."
"Oh, that's so sweet," said Martha.
"How is that sweet?," asked the Doctor.
"It just is."
Rory Williams drove up to the strange house. Balloons were tied to the post on the steps and guests were filtering in.
"Oh, yeah, looks real dangerous," said Amy. "Park the car."
"Can I just say again this seems like a really bad idea?"
Amy saw an older man going in.
"That's the guy with the paint ball gun!," shouted Amy. "Rory, park the car!"
Rory sighed and parked the car in the first available spot down the street. Amy got out of the car and handed Rory the big plush zebra she had picked up at the toy shop and carried a pink gift bag.
"Why did you get her a zebra?," asked Rory. "You don't even know if she likes zebras! You don't know anything about her! In fact, you don't know her!"
"She's a baby, besides I didn't want to look cheap."
"This is a bad idea," said Rory.
Amy knocked on the door. A tall, handsome man opened the door with a balloon elephant hat. He grinned, revealing dimples.
"Hello," he said, smiling at Amy. He looked over at Rory. "Are you relatives of Donna's?"
"Yes," said Amy, "I've got my invitation and everything."
"No worries. Come on in." He let them in. "Captain Jack Harkness."
"Ooh! A captain! I'm Amy, this is Rory."
"Boyfriend?," asked Jack.
"No," said Rory quickly.
"No, just friends," said Amy.
"Well, then," smiled Jack, "Rory, the presents are in the sitting room along with the guest of honor. Grown up drinks are being served in the kitchen. Amy, care to accompany me?" He held his arm out.
"Love to," said Amy, taking the offered arm. She looked at Rory. "Want anything from the kitchen?"
"No, I've got to drive."
Rory made his way to the sitting room. There were some children running around, then one little ginger girl sitting by herself. Rory put the zebra down next to the pile of presents adorned in variations of pink gift wrap.
"Zebra!," she said.
"Yes, it is," Rory said awkwardly.
"Zara present?," she asked.
"Yes, it is a gift for Zara, I suppose," he said.
"Thank you," she said and walked over to the pile, dragging the zebra away, knocking over other gifts.
"So, you're Zara, then?," he asked.
"Yes," she said. "Who are you?"
"Oh, I'm just Rory."
"No, not, 'Just Rory', it's just 'Rory.'"
"Just Rory," said Zara.
Jack gave Amy the tour of the kitchen. "This is where the cool kids are. Martha, Mickey, Gwen, that's her husband, Rhys and that's Ianto. Oh, you know Wilf, right?"
Wilf squinted at Amy. "I think we've met..."
"It's been a while," Amy said quickly.
"Donna's in the dining room with Sylvia and the Doctor is... Actually, I don't know where the Doctor is."
"The Doctor?," asked Amy.
"You mean John?," supplied Gwen.
"Right, John," said Jack. "Anybody know where John went?"
"He said he had to go shopping," said Mickey.
"Were you at the christening?," asked Martha.
"Oh, I was abroad then," said Amy.
"Let's get you a drink, Amy!," said Jack.
"Mum..." said Donna.
Donna was in the dining room with Sylvia, arranging the nibbles and getting it ready for the big moment when Zara would blow out the candle on her cake.
The cake might have been overkill, Donna thought in retrospect. She had ordered it herself over the TARDIS phone and somehow it was bigger than she imagined. Round with three layers, bananas and cream on the inside and on the outside lots of pink frosting and flowers and her name in frosting. Still, though, how many times did a Time Baby turn one?
Sylvia had begun her new favorite topic of conversation since Donna had recovered her memory. Now, in addition to offering unsolicited parenting advice, Sylvia constantly asked why Donna couldn't just settle down.
"I'm just saying, all that running about with aliens can't be good for you. At least with Zara you had a normal pregnancy."
Donna snorted. "Yeah, that was normal."
"Would it be so awful to live in a normal house like normal people?," asked Sylvia.
"We're not normal people, Mum," said Donna. "You seem to keep forgetting that."
Rory sat on the sofa as the children played. The adults of the party seemed to have dispersed to other areas and willfully ignored their children.
Zara seemed to have taken a liking to him, though and soon returned to Rory with a book.
"Oh, would you like me to read to you?," he asked.
"No, Zara read." She sat down on the floor and opened the book. "One day when he was walking, he came to an open place in the middle of the forest. And in the middle of this place was a large oak tree." She read haltingly, taking pauses between every few words, but made it through.
Rory turned back to see the cover was for Winnie the Pooh. Was it possible?
"Pooh hears a buzzing noise and he knows what that means-bees!" She stopped and looked up brightly at Rory. "Mummy found the bees."
"Yeah..." said Rory. He held his hand out. "May I have a look at your book?"
Zara handed it to him. Rory had a look and couldn't believe it. She was actually reading! What sort of a one year old read? Had he and Amy just crashed the birthday party for a baby genius?
Rory looked over to see a woman heading towards Zara, followed by three teenagers.
"Sarah Jane!" Zara held her arms out and Sarah Jane picked her up.
The two walked off, leaving Rory holding the book.
The Doctor came up through the cellar, dragging along a rocking horse. He emerged in the kitchen to find the usual gang and a ginger he didn't recognize.
"Hello, John," said Jack, "this is Amy."
"Hi, how are you?"
"Fine. Did you just come from shopping?"
"Yeah, had to pick up Zara's present, German, eighteenth century, only place to fina a real quality rocking horse. You can't get craftsmanship like that in any galaxy."
"So, that's an antique?," asked Amy. "It looks brand new."
"Yeah..." said the Doctor.
"It's been restored," offered Ianto.
"That's it," confirmed the Doctor.
"And you had her name put on it?," asked Amy, pointing at the antique German lettering.
"Yes, uh, where's Donna?"
Wilf chuckled. "Sylvia's giving her an earful in the dining room."
The Doctor sniffed. "Do I smell banana cake?"
Amy narrowed her eyes at the strange man, but the Doctor didn't take notice. Instead, he followed his nose to the dining room and the enormous cake.
"Is Zara having a birthday or being crowned?," he asked.
"Ha ha," said Donna. "Make fun of it and you don't get any."
"I would never mock a banana cake." He turned. "Sarah Jane Smith! How are you?"
"My arms are getting tired," she said, handing Zara over to the Doctor. "She's getting big."
"Oh, I don't think so, she's still very small," said the Doctor, giving the baby a kiss on the top of her head.
"Okay," said Donna, "time to get this party started, don't you think?"
The guests gathered into the dining room and Rory sided up to Amy. They all sang "Happy Birthday" to Zara and her mum helped her blow out her candle. Next, she put her fist through the top layer of the cake, covering it in frosting which she was doing her best to lick off before Donna could clean her up. The cake was soon cut and the guests started chatting.
"Amy," he whispered, "there's something strange about these people."
Amy shrugged. "They seem alright. Captain Jack and I are going out later."
Rory was incredulous. "You're going out! And why are you calling him 'Captain'?"
"I don't know, it's his thing, I guess. Why do you care?"
Rory shook his head. "Nothing, I don't, I just wanted to get back to Leadworth. I have to work tomorrow."
"Okay, you drive home and I'll take the train. Not a big deal."
Rory tried to let that one go. "The baby can read."
Amy laughed. "What?"
"She read to me."
"She's supposed to be one."
"You think she's lying about her age?," Amy asked mockingly.
"She's too clever for one."
"So? Maybe she's just clever. Besides, I keep seeing those infomercials that say they can teach your baby to read. These are nice people."
"The envelopes, the clever baby, Captain Jack," he said the last with little air quotes. "Something's going on here."
Amy thought back. "Well, the dad is a bit strange."
"How?," asked Rory.
"He said he was out shopping and came in through the cellar. He probably just wanted to keep his present a surprise, though. And his brother is Welsh. That's sort of strange." Amy took another bite of her cake. "And he smelled the cake from the kitchen."
The Doctor finished his third slice of banana cake and eyed the ginger woman across the room.
"You are going to attract flies," Donna said, cleaning between Zara's fingers with a wet wipe. "How did you get so much frosting on you?"
"Donna," said the Doctor, "do you know that ginger?"
"What? Do you think we all know each other?," she quipped, not turning her attention away from Zara's fingers.
Donna looked up. "No, but I saw her chatting up Jack."
"Is she his type?"
"Let's see, she seems to be in her twenties, attractive with long legs and a short skirt and she has a pulse. Yes, I think she might be."
"Who's she with?," asked the Doctor.
"Just Rory!," said Zara.
"Just Rory," mused the Doctor.
"Maybe Mum invited him," said Donna. "Probably a cousin. I don't know why she has to invite every cousin." She kissed Zara's hand. "You still taste of frosting."
Zara giggled. Donna looked to the Doctor.
"Shall we do presents?," she asked.
"Presents!," shouted Zara.
"Presents," agreed the Doctor, still watching Amy and Rory.