The Doctor has a PO Box.
It's on the planet of Postal in the galaxy of Sanheim. Originally an Earth colony for off-world packages, it's become an intergalactic meeting ground and communications center. A rather rowdy place full of travelers looking for a place to send souveniers home, drifters looking for somewhere to pretend they belong, and smugglers looking for letters from their mother. It's dirty, smelly, overcrowded, and the Doctor can't decide if he likes it here or not.
He likes the woman at the door. Well, she's technically an android, but she always remembers his name and smiles sweetly. He likes the bustle and motion of the place, he likes the shops and the variety of life that push and wander past him.
He doesn't like how lost everyone looks. From the wiry girl with the ice cream ball hanging from a string to the fat Zygon poking about at the postcards…they're all so lost. This whole place is full of lost letters and lost souls.
It's only worse at Christmastime, so he arrives in mid-June. He always picks a progressive year to arrive, to avoid running into himself. Trips to Postal always have to be planned and checked in advance. Having a PO box means having a sense of identity and he's not entirely comfortable with it.
It's sort of a necessity, he thinks. After all, there are places you can't go and things you can't do without having some sort of solid address. He couldn't get a parking spot at the Olympics on Mars without it and he certainly couldn't get tickets to Midnight's Leisure Palace without it.
That was the last time he was here, he thinks. With Donna. He'd sent out for Midnight tickets and they'd bolted over here. His PO box was full to the brim with advertisements and junk mail, and their tickets. He'd grinned madly at her and held them up.
"Can't believe you won't tell me your birthday!" That's right, she was going on about how old he was, and how 904 didn't add up correctly. She then wanted to know when his birthday was and how exactly 'crossed computers' was supposed to be a zodiac sign.
"Donna, what does it matter? Not like you could put the right number of candles on a cake anyway! Not without us traveling to 1666 first."
"Why, what happened in 1666? Were you actually 904 then?"
"No, Donna. Remember? Big fire? Burned down a big chunk of London?"
"Well, I wasn't there, how would I know?"
At the time he rolled his eyes and was irritated by Donna's persistence regarding his birthday and lack of historical knowledge. Didn't everyone know about the great fire of London? Now as he walks alone towards his box, all he can think is he should've taken her there, just once. Shown her history a little more rather than just lecture her on it.
There's so much he wishes he could've done. So much they would've done if…well, there's no use dwelling. He fishes his key out of his pocket and empties out the box. It's funny, he knows the box isn't anything from his planet, but he can often swear it's got to be larger on the inside.
Phone bill. Clean up bill. Support your local conservative. Bill. Advertisement. He tosses each one in the bin by the side of the boxes as he fishes through what he's got. It's depressing, actually. All this mail and it's all to John Smith, but none of it is really for him. There's no one else out there to send him mail.
Except for the last letter. It's in a blue envelope and only has the words "The Doctor, PO BOX 5211M3411A" on it. His eyebrows knit together. A letter for him. He can't even remember the last time he got a letter that wasn't a set of tickets or a bill or some such nonsense. He considers not opening it. After all, what if it's just another advertisement or something and it becomes a huge disappointment?
The notion is silly, of course. He's naturally too curious. He tears the side open and slides out a card. An obnoxious, pink birthday card that was more likely than not purchased at the shop next to the boxes. As a matter of fact, he thinks he saw the very same card just moments earlier.
It is a tiny kitten sleeping nestled happily against a big dog. It says in big letters "And yet, we work! Happy Birthday to my best friend!" on the cover. Inside, it is blank apart from a painfully familiar loopy handwriting.
Right, then, Space Man. Ruin my fun. Whenever you get this card, it's your birthday, all right? You got to admit this is cute as all bloody hell and you don't have enough cute things in the TARDIS. Happy whenever your birthday is.
There's a PS underneath it that she apparently started to write but changed her mind and scribbled out. He stares at it for a long time, trying to decipher what's Donna's words and what's a scribbled blob. He can't figure it out and it's so completely frustrating. Why didn't she just write it? It could've been idiotic and he'd have adored her for it anyway it was just like her---
A wet drop falls on the scribble beneath Donna's name and he takes a sudden, shocked breath. The ink of Donna's name starts to bleed and he wipes it away sharply in a panic. As always, his emotions seem to want to ruin all the good things he has in life.
He heads back towards the TARDIS and the female android grins at him. "Did you get anything interesting, Mr. Smith?"
"What's the date?" he asks.
He looks at the Byzantine clock and does a little math. It actually is under the sign of crossed computers.
"June 26th," the android informs him. "For your human companion." She looks around, as if expecting one of them to arrive.
She isn't programmed for intense conversation, but she smiles and regards the letter in his hands. "New tickets?"
He shakes his head. "Birthday card."
"I didn't realize it was your birthday. Happy birthday."
It's a silly thing, but it's enough to make him smile without feeling miserable. That's a start, at least.