(written for fbslashsanta.)
On the first day, Stevie opens his eyes to something huge and green obscuring his view.
He flinches. Then freezes, blinking rapidly as he tries to process what exactly is happening, because he's pretty sure that when he went to bed the night before there wasn't a gigantic tree right by his window, right dear?
He turns to his side but soon realises that he's alone in bed. Confused, he half-stumbles down the stairs, and pulls open the front door, wondering if it's not just another case of too much eggnog. But sure enough, there it is, in all its big green glory.
"What in the world is that?"
"A pear tree1." Stevie spins around to see Alex standing in the doorway. "Apparently."
"Yes, but how?"
She shrugs, "I don't know, they just showed up this morning with it and said 'Delivery for Mr. Steven Gerrard'."
He gapes up at the tall tree currently rooted in his front yard. But who would send him a tree?
"Steven, you're not even wearing a jacket! C'mon in before you catch a cold."
Alex gestures to him and he takes her hand as he follows her indoors, but not before one last look of wonderment out the front yard.
The next day, Stevie wakes up as per normal (well as normal as one can get being greeted by a giant tree first thing in the morning); grabs his breakfast, kisses Alex, Lily and Lexie as he steps out the front door.
And is accosted almost immediately by the mailman.
"Good morning, Mr. Gerrard. Nice tree."
He laughs awkwardly, "Hey Dave," and quickly tries to get into his car.
No such luck.
"There's a package for you here," Dave waves a small box slightly before him.
Stevie frowns, and hesitates before accepting it. He echoes Dave's "Merry Christmas" absently while he stares perplexedly down at the white paper box in his hand.
Gingerly, he lifts the cover and finds two tiny glass doves2 nestled safely in their white cotton cushion.
"What...?" he looks up but Dave's already long gone. Stevie cocks his head, but there doesn't seem to be a card or a return address anywhere. He pokes curiously at one of the doves. It doesn't even so much as budge.
Then shrugs, figures it's gotta be one of those fans again, and doesn't give it a second thought as he tosses it in the front compartment.
He does recall it however, the following day, in the middle of his argument with the guy from Chicken Barbecue, that no he really did not place an order for three chickens. French hens no less!
But it's wet out, freezing cold and he has a wife and three kids to get home to, so he just shoves the container into Stevie's hands, yells that it's already been paid for and pulls off in his big red CB truck.
"What is it, Steven?"
He shuts the door and turns around slowly to Alex, who's standing behind him with a slightly concerned look on her face. Then she catches sight of the label on the container and it promptly turns into a frown.
"Oh but I've already cooked dinner, or have you forgotten?" Alex sighs and plucks the box from his hands.
The room is immediately filled with the smoky aroma of freshly barbecued chicken as she uncovers the steaming box, and well I suppose we could just add another dish. She smiles as she walks off into the kitchen with his chickens3.
He is as decidedly unimpressed when he receives a photo of four black birds the next day, in an envelope with nothing but the words “To: Steven Gerrard” written in black bold letters on the front4.
After spending an entire day scrutinising the handwritting on the envelope, and being almost sure he recognises it from somewhere, he throws it on the table in a huff. Alex picks it up and tucks the photo back in; she tells him he’s missing the point. He just scowls at her.
But three days, five gold rings5, six roast geese6 and seven porcelain swans7 later, Stevie thinks enough is enough.
He picks up the phone and punches in Gratty’s number, because he still hasn’t figured out that handwritting yet, but it’s close enough for him.
Stevie’s halfway through his rant about having resorted to hiding behind the couch from the CB guy (who seems to be on his personal Save The Free Geese of The World crusade) when Gratty starts laughing so hard he has to hang up on Stevie.
“Eight tins, Gratty, eight tins. I’ve got eight tins of Dutch Milkmaid milk8 here and I don’t even bloody like milk.”
“Give it to Lexie then,” wheezes the other end.
“Gratty! Not the sodding point!”
He redials the number for the twentieth time, and brilliant now Gratty’s not answering his calls anymore. He regrets ever showing him how to get that CallerID on his new phone, because now who’s going to hear about his latest ‘present’?
Stevie eyes the brown musical box9 mournfully. Twelve Days of Christmas strikes up for about the millionth time when Lily winds it up again and giggles delightedly as the ballerina begins to dance. He sighs as he plucks the ballerina doll from Lexie’s hands before she can stick it into her mouth, knowing that she’ll just pick another one right up from the line of seven on the table.
He stares determinedly at the doll in his hand.
Then picks up his phone decisively and scrolls down to Carra’s number.
Stevie’d never thought this would ever happen to him (or to anyone, for that matter, because- what the hell?), but sitting in the middle of Carra’s living room, surrounded by a bagpipe and more Jack-in-the-boxes10 than he’d ever thought he’ll ever see in his life, he comes to one conclusion:
This is so not his fault.
He pokes at one miserably, and it jumps out at him. Stupid clown.
“What am I gonna do? Alex says I’m forbidden from going home if I don’t get rid- oh for God’s sake.” He jumps up and snatches the bagpipe11 out of Carra’s hands.
Carra turns to face him, enunciating each word slowly and carefully, “Stevie? Hand me your bagpipe and nobody gets hurt.”
On the twelfth day, Stevie wakes up inexplicably early and steels himself before opening the front door. But Dave isn’t there (nor is Mister STFGoTW, thank god) to accost him before he reaches his car.
Frowning, he kisses Alex absently on the cheek and drives off to Melwood.
By noon, he’s already used up all possible excuses to phone home; that and Alex’d threatened to divorce him if so help her he calls one more time. Stevie sighs as he turns off his phone.
It’s not until he’s hunched over the bar at the local pub that he remembers to switch it on again. He pushes the button moodily and almost jumps out of his seat when it immediately starts ringing in his hand.
Stevie stares at the ID for a moment, wondering why would Frank be calling him now.
“Hello?” he presses the phone cautiously to his ear.
There’s a small pause, then “Merry Christmas” and he can almost hear the soft smile in the voice. And everything just rushes back to him in that second, the heat, the frustration, the loneliness of the day, the waiting, oh god the waiting-
“It’s you? What did you think-” he sputters. “Just- argh. Christmas is over, Frank, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
And with that, he slams the phone down satisfactorily.
But before he can even bask in his moment of triumph, Carra’s materialised by his side. Stevie glares darkly at him, just daring him to say something, which clearly is not what one should ever do around Jamie Carragher, because then he takes that as encouragement.
“You know, I promised I’d stay out of this when you gave me the bagpipe,” he strokes it lovingly on cue. “But- ”
“No Carra, this has gone on long enough. It is obviously some sort of malicious plot by our rivals,” Stevie announces victoriously.
Carra gives him a disappointed look, like he still can’t believe Stevie hasn’t figured it out yet.
“Or maybe, whoever it is, just wants to be your true love.”
He smiles sadly, before turning his full devotion back to his bagpipe. Stunned into silence, Stevie looks down quietly at his phone.
A week later, Stevie finds himself standing on the front porch of Frank’s house, ringing the bell incessantly and questioning the state of his sanity.
“Nobody’s home,” there’s a muffled-sounding voice coming from behind the door; and inspired, Stevie excitedly presses the doorbell three times.
“I said nobody’s home. Elen’s out and-” the door flings open. “Oh. It’s you.”
“Hi, Frank.” Stevie waves at him shyly.
Frank remains impassive.
“Erm. So I- “ he thinks about all the gifts and how he should say... thank you? About the phone call and how he should apologise, and maybe tell Frank that yes- “I have mistletoe12!”
He brandishes the shrub and waves it around a fair bit, just to emphasise his point. Frank simply stares at him as if he thinks Stevie’s gone a bit mad.
Which is fair, Stevie thinks. He shuffles his feet around awkwardly.
"Christmas is over, Stevie," he finally deadpans.
“Yeah, about that. Erm Carra actually told me that there're twelve days of Christmas! Who knew! Haha. And erm yeah thank you and yes I do and Carra said that you- and haha you know the funny thing about Carra is that he really likes bagpipes and I never even knew-”
And Frank reaches out and pulls him in, pressing his lips firmly onto Stevie’s as they shut the door behind them.
And that, as they say, is that.