Stephen sighed, Christ he hated Christmas. "I don't see what's wrong with aftershave," he said.
"Aftershave says 'I couldn't be bothered thinking of anything so I got you the same thing I got my dad'," Abby said, rolling her eyes. "He's your boyfriend Stephen; you need to at least act like you thought about it."
"Could get him some gun oil," Stephen smirked suggestively.
"And I'm not disturbed forever more..." Abby said.
"And yet strangely turned on," Stephen winked. "Come on Abby, I'm a guy, I don't know shit about buying presents."
"Well what does he like to do?" Abby asked.
"Shoot things," Stephen said.
"When he's not shooting things," Abby rolled her eyes.
Stephen smirked. "I'm going back to gun oil again..."
"Men!" Abby huffed. "Alright, we'll go shopping."
"What? No way, I don't like shopping, I'll shop online, the computer can't run me over with a trolley, there are no screaming brats at buymyboyfriendsomething.com," Stephen said.
"Nope, shopping, in a real shopping centre, with real shops, come on," Abby said.
"Now? No I'm really very busy, I have..." Stephen looked at the too tidy desktop. "Um... Cutter he wants me to you know... file... stuff..."
"You can go now with me, or later with me *and* Connor," Abby said.
Stephen groaned and nodded, knowing he was beat, Abby could be remarkably persistent when she wanted to be.
The shops were just as horrendous as Stephen had imagined they would be a week before Christmas and Abby disproved any notion that being a tomboy made her less of a girl, dragging him into every shop, clothes, jewellery, electronics, CD's, DVD's, books, even action figures – action figures! Did she think they were buying for Connor?
"I think that should do it," Abby added a final CD to the bags Stephen was lugging. In the end he suspected he'd bought something from every shop they'd been in. "Maybe we should go back and get that sweater from Burtons..."
"No!" Stephen said. "He has three sweaters, two shirts, two pairs of dress trousers and a pair of jeans... not to mention the watch, the CD's, the DVD's the IPod... I think I bought him everything but a damn kitchen sink – and we have one, we don't need another!"
Abby shrugged. "Actually I thought it would look good on you."
Stephen sighed. "I've been told blue beings out my eyes... I suppose it wouldn't hurt," well nothing but his credit rating anyway.
Ryan blinked when he got home, there was a small fibre optic tree in the corner, a stack of wrapped presents leaning against the wall beside it. "Did Santa's elves run out of space in the North Pole?"
Stephen looked up from the book he was reading, sprawled lazily on the couch. "I did a little shopping."
"A little shopping?" Ryan's eyebrows seemed to recede into his hairline.
"A little shopping," Stephen shrugged. "There's pizza on the way, I couldn't be bothered cooking."
Ryan shook his head. "Right... well... I'm gonna grab a shower."
"So what did you get Stephen for Christmas then?" Claudia asked, sipping her coffee while they waited for Cutter and his team to finish arguing over what to do with the unconscious Megatherium.
"Hmm, just some aftershave," Ryan said.
"Aftershave?" Claudia looked aghast.
Ryan frowned. "What's wrong with aftershave?"