"I miss him," Amy said, staring at the Christmas tree. The lights had the big kind of bulbs she was more used to seeing outside, and most of the ornaments were thin metal, glass, or painted clay, not the plastic she was more used to.

Rory sat down beside her on their brand new retro couch. "I do too." He put his arm around her and hugged her to his side. She laid her head on his shoulder.

They looked at all the presents heaped under the tree. Two of them were for family that they would probably never see again, but they bought a present every year, just in case. It had been seventeen years.

The hurt had faded over time. They'd built a good life. The Doctor and River hadn't been able to visit them, even though they'd deliberately left the city, gone back to London a couple of times, and left messages every way they could think of.

The Doctor and River had provided for them, set up bank accounts, left identity papers in bank deposit boxes, even bequeathed them this brownstone, a house similar to the one the Doctor had bought them in London.

But they'd never visited. Never explained why. Surely it was only New York that was locked?

But they'd got on with their lives. Rory had re-certified as a nurse. More because he wanted to be sure he had time-appropriate knowledge than because he couldn't have walked in anywhere and gotten a job with the psychic paper the Doctor had left for them in case of emergencies.

Amy had taken to writing children's stories. At first they'd been thinly veiled accounts of their travels with the Doctor, but soon her own inate artistry and imagination had come to the fore and she'd created her own original characters, her own original fantasy world, and even the dolls and playsets that came with it. Her experience marketing perfume had come in handy, and Rory would often arrive home to find her elbow deep in paper mache, or molding clay figures of a new character. Sewing tiny costumes or illustrating a new picture book.

She enjoyed the work more than she'd expected to. And he was happy to see her happy in her life. Productive in a way that had always eluded her before. And satisfied.

But they still missed the Doctor. And River.

It was especially hard at Christmas.

Rory leaned forward, the room lit only by the crackling fire, and the multicolored lights of the Christmas tree. He handed Amy her mug of cider, a stick of cinnamon in it, a reminder of another Christmas, when she and he and the Doctor had gone Christmas shopping in Macy's, oh so long ago now.

They'd finished wrapping presents, and the house smelled of the fudge Rory had cooling in the kitchen to cut later and gift to all his coworkers and patients. Several copies of Amy's newest picture book, advanced copies, lay stacked in a pile on the coffee table, wrapped in ribbon, to be distributed to the children at the hospital on Boxing Day. (Even though American's didn't usually do Boxing Day.)

They sipped their cider and let the peace of the snowy night settle into their bones. The snowflakes drifting by past the window, sticking and sliding down to pile on the windowsill.

"Do you think they're spending it together?" Amy asked. "In the future?"

"I'm sure of it," Rory said, hugging her close, setting his chin on her head. "And the Doctor's probably got some other Companion to drive crazy by now, and River's probably riding herd on him, trying to keep him from terrifying the poor girl with his "holiday cheer!" Rory said, giving a mocking emphasis to the word.

Amy snorted into his tacky, overdecorated Christmas jumper. She stilled and mumbled into his chest. "Do you think River likes Christmas?" she asked, worried.

There was a loud bang of a door from upstairs, and the frantic sound of running feet. A small body catapulted down the stairs. "Is he here? Did he come yet?" demanded a loud young voice.

Skinny bare legs flew under an oversized sleepshirt, a heavy young body catapulted into their lap. Knocking the breath out of Amy. She laughed and avoided sharp knees as she twisted to set her and Rory's mugs on the end table before they spilled.

The body bounced. "Did he come?" the child demanded impatiently.

Rory reached behind him and flicked on the overhead light switch. Light bathed the living room, and revealed the mountain of presents tumbling out from under the tree.

With a squeal loud enough to shatter glass, the child flung away from them and scrambled for the presents.

She tossed aside her ever present water pistol, and the raggedy gladiator doll she clutched in her other hand. She had her mother's red hair and long legs, and her father's sturdiness and freckles.

And she had no memory.

"Can I open them? Please?" She turned familiar, whiskey colored eyes on them. Eyes that would one day be able to flirt or cajole anything she wanted out of anyone in the universe.

"Sure you can, Melody," Rory said, his voice husky. Amy picked up her Polaroid camera, tears blurring her eyes.

The child tore into her packages, paper flying. With a loud, warbling cry of triumph she pulled out a plastic sword, a second later she pulled out a plastic roman shield.

Amy stood up, blinking tears out of her eyes. "Look this way, Sweetie," she said. "Say fishsticks!" she raised the camera.

Her daughter jumped up and whirled, brandishing sword and shield, feet planted, braced, and ready to take on the world. She grinned a six-year-old, gap-toothed grin.


For more stories by this author click on "betawho" at the top of the page.

Please take a moment to leave a review. Thank you.