The Doctor stepped out of the Tardis, there was a sock pinned to the door.
He reared back in surprise and brushed his quiff out of his eyes. Yes, it was still there. He looked around. The Tardis was sitting on a grassy hillside, it was a quiet, dewy morning, the sky just lightening with peach and birdsong.
His Companion had requested a setting where she could take a morning stroll without having to worry about monsters or weird alien plants. Someplace pretty, but boring.
He'd landed them in the Lake District in the 18th Century. As usual, his Companion had overslept. She wasn't really good at mornings. For whatever that was worth in the Tardis.
He stared at the sock on his door.
It was a Christmas stocking. Traditional white ruff and red foot shape. As long as his arm. He looked around the hillside, there was no one around that he could see.
He reached up and pulled the stocking free. It had been secured with some kind of magnet. It popped off, and he picked it up, intrigued. What kind of magnet could stick to the Tardis? He turned it over, then put it in his pocket for later study.
There was something in the stocking. It was light, but lumpy. He pulled it open and peered inside.
The first thing he saw looked like a ratty bird's nest made of threads and twigs, he pulled it out dubiously. Once clear of the material he recognized a Native American dreamcatcher. It was no wider than his hand, a hoop of twigs, woven with a thin strand of thread that sparkled like nacre. The threads had been woven into a heart in the center. A river pebble of swirling red and blue stone had been suspended from the center.
It made his fingers tingle, and he recognized the work of the Yalentoli, a tribe of American Indians that had emigrated to the stars. Their greatest dreamweavers could weave dreamcatchers that didn't just catch dreams, but could subtly influence them, if the dreamer were willing.
He saw something engraved on the stone, he turned it over, "Dream of me." Beneath the words was the tiny pictogram of two hearts entwined. He smiled.
He sat down and dug into the stocking again. He pulled out a gold foil Christmas cracker. It had a diagonal red stripe down the side. He grabbed both ends and pulled. It cracked with a pop and out fell a tiny harmonica. He picked it up delightedly. It was pink on one side and orange on the other, a cheap plastic toy.
He brought it to his lips and blew a riff. He quickly belted out a jaunty, tinny sounding song. He noticed a paper sticking out of the cracker. He set his harmonica aside and pulled the strip of paper free. It looked like an oversized fortune, three inches wide by seven inches long and completely covered with tiny, familiar handwriting.
He started reading, his ears tinted pink, but he was soon laughing. They were limericks. Dirty limericks. At once both elegant, and brutally risqué. He chuckled and rolled the paper into a small tight scroll, he tucked it in his pocket to reread later.
He dug his hand deeper into the stocking and pulled out a handful of silver-wrapped chocolate kisses. Each one had a familiar red lipstick kiss on it. He pulled loose the oversized paper flag in one of them.
"Suck on these and think of me, Sweetie."
He unwrapped the chocolate drop and tucked it in his mouth. He sucked on it, resisting the urge to munch. He tasted the warm, husky, sweetness, felt it melt on his tongue. He closed his eyes with a look of bittersweet longing and memorized the flavor.
When the last of the chocolate melted away he opened his eyes and looked back down at the stocking. There was something still left in the toe. He upended the stocking and shook it, but nothing fell out. He dug down inside and his fingers tangled in a net. He dragged it out.
It was a bag of jacks. His eyes lit up and he ripped the package open. Out spilled a bouncy ball and a handful of jacks, all in different colors. He caught the ball and picked up the handful of jacks, the points poked him in the palm. He tossed the jacks onto the floor of the Tardis with a sweep of his hand.
He used to be good at this. He bounced the ball once and picked up a jack. He bounced the ball again and picked up two jacks. He bounced the ball a third time and swiped up three jacks. Something about the jacks caught his eye and he missed the ball, it bounced away and he lunged to catch it before it could roll away into the Tardis.
He picked up one of the jacks, and examined it closely. Each of the multicolored plastic jacks was a different erotic pose. Which, considering they were called "Jacks" was probably appropriate, he thought with a snort.
He looked at the cheap plastic mesh bag they had come in. He'd torn the cardboard placket off it when he'd opened it. He folded the two halves of the colorful advertisement back together and saw there was writing on the back.
Scribbled across the instructions, in bold black marker, were the words, "Practice, honey. I challenge you to a game!"
The Doctor threw himself backward with a laugh. His hearts felt light as a balloon. God he loved his wife. He looked at the placket of instructions, then held up one of the jacks, it was very detailed.
"What's all the racket?"
He twisted, upside down, to see his Companion straggling into the console room. She was yawning, and still had bed hair.
He was lying in the Tardis doorway, his legs poking out in the green grass, his back against the Tardise's thrumming floor, his presents strewn around him.
He jackknifed up and scooped all his presents toward him with a sweep of his arm, dumping them into the stocking, checking to make sure he'd gotten all the jacks.
"What's that?" she asked, looking at the giant red sock.
"Christmas presents!" he said jovially, holding it high.
She looked out the door at the eggshell blue sky and flower dotted landscape. "It's spring," she pointed out.
"When a young man's fancy turns to..." His face flushed. "Yes, well, never mind."
He bounded up the stairs. He held up his dreamcatcher. "I'm going to go hang this up." He waved at her over his shoulder.
"Enjoy your walk!"
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