Nick Stokes glared. He glared at the sales assistant who'd asked him three times now if he needed help. If he had wanted help he was sure he would have asked for it before now, but he didn't, he just wanted to be left alone, alone to wander the five story department store and look for something, anything, that he could buy as a Christmas present.
At one point, he considered just going home, sleeping, going to work and shooting Greg, because not only was this *all* his fault, but he suspected it would serve the duel purpose of being an excellent Christmas present for a man Nick had no idea what to buy.
David Hodges. The man was an enigma. A mystery, wrapped in an enigma that walked around in a circle with a riddle and seemed perfectly comfortable there. He didn't give out clues about his life, hobbies, opinions, thoughts, anything actually that might be considered remotely personal, without a hell of a fight. It had taken Nick, Greg *and* Lindsey to find out the man liked Mexican food. Nick wondered if enlisting the help of his co-workers daughter would be any use now.
"Excuse me Sir may I..."
"No! No! No! I don't need help, I don't want help, go away!" Nick snapped, because really, how many times was too many times and did she seriously expect his answer would have changed in the last few minutes?
"Ah... sorry sir, I didn't mean to upset you, but you do seem a little lost," the sales assistant, who was dressed as an elf, complete with bells on the curly toed slippers, wearing a Rudolf shaped name badge with 'Cindy' displayed helpfully across it, said.
"Look..." Nick glanced at her name badge, "Cindy. I'm just looking for a present for a... a friend." Nick said, helplessly looking around for an escape route.
"Ah. Well does he wear cologne?" she asked.
Nick looked uncomfortable. "How did you know it was a he?"
"You were looking at ties earlier, which is always a bad idea unless you want to say 'lets break up before the new year'." Cindy answered.
Nick grimaced. "We're not exactly dating."
"Oh so this is a 'I really like you, lets have dinner' kind of present. That rules out cologne, you don't want to suggest he smells bad. Unless you happen to know his favorite brand, then you'd be suggesting you like him in that brand and he smells good." Cindy said matter-of-factually. "What does he like?"
Nick looked puzzled, but hell he had no idea what he was doing and Cindy seemed to have some inside scope. "I don't know what he likes really. Cars and Mexican food. I think. Well definitely Mexican food. He knows a lot about cars."
Cindy rolled her eyes. "Men!" she muttered, grabbing Nick's arm and dragging him along with her. "I'm going to go out and a limb and say he's not a hearts and flowers type of guy. Clothes are not a invitation to romance, nor are movies, books or computer games by-the-way so don't even think it. Unless of course the movie is romantic, but I think not. But you can't ever go wrong with chocolate."
Cindy announced this as she came to a stop in front of a large display of chocolate. Big boxed, little boxes, shaped like everything from hearts to stars to something that Nick suspected was suppose to be a reindeer.
"Chocolates? That's not very... thoughtful." Nick said. He'd wanted to make it look like he'd put real effort into the gift, he wanted David to know he'd thought about him.
"Well sure if you just get plain, boring chocolate, *but* we aren't talking about plain boring chocolate here, we're talking about these." Cindy told him, pulling a plain, uninspiring bronze colored box from the shelf at the bottom.
Nick looked unconvinced.
"These are IOU's." Cindy supplied helpfully. "Each one is wrapped in gold foil, with an IOU inside. Very 'special' IOU's if you get my drift. The kind you wouldn't pay up in public."
Nick balked. Was she crazy? He couldn't give David... well... that!
"The two best ways to a man's heart as through his stomach and well... lower. This provides both." Cindy said.
"No, no, no. He'd hate them, he'd have me arrested for harassment, or maybe he'd just kill me, it wouldn't be pleasant." Nick insisted.
Cindy shook her head. "Well it's these or a tie and nothing says 'I don't wanna get laid' like a tie."
Nick turned red. "I don't want to... that’s not what this is about! At least not all it's about."
Cindy looked unconvinced for a moment. "You don't know anything about him, but you're trying to tell me it's what, love?"
"No. I'm... it could be, I think." Nick said, his face scrunching up, he had no idea why he was explaining himself to this girl.
"You want my advice?" she asked.
Nick nodded, "Since I'm apparently getting it anyway."
"Forget the present. Invite him for a beer, sit down and talk to him. And if that doesn't work... the candies are $25." Cindy told him, handing him the box before apparently deciding her work was done and disappearing of to harass someone else.
A beer? Did David even drink beer? Nick didn't know. Looking at the candies, Nick put them back on the shelf. Beer he could do.
*One Year Later*
Nick stared out the window watching the snow flutter down. For a while, he'd been convinced this Christmas would be a BBQ affair, with the heat wave that had hit Vegas but it had ended as quickly as it had come and left the air cold, just in time for a white Christmas.
Feeling movement behind him, Nick rolled over turning his back to the window.
"Morning," he murmured quietly. His bed partner just groaned and snuggled deeper into the quilts and the heat they provided.
Green eyes looked up at him, their expression clearly asking if he was nuts, because asking if he wanted coffee was almost as stupid as asking did he want sex, the answer was always yes.
Nick laughed as he got up, pulling on some sweats and a t-shirt before heading towards the kitchen. While waiting for the coffee maker to do it's job, Nick delved into the back of one of the cupboards and pulled out a box of imported Canadian beer, putting a few into the fridge for use later that day and poured out a couple of bowls of captain crunch for breakfast.
"You know, one of these days I'm going to make you bring me breakfast in bed."
Nick smiled. "I would, if you didn't get so impatient and get up before I can."
"Like it's my fault you're so slow."
"My most humble apologies." Nick said smirking.
The glare that came his way was softened considerably by the smile tugging at his lovers lips.
"You're lucky I'm a sucker for a man with pretty brown eyes, Canadian beer in the fridge and Captain Crunch on the breakfast table."
"Yep, I am." Nick agreed with a smile.
He didn't bother to mention he'd only started buying the Canadian brands last Christmas, or that the Captain Crunch was also a new addition to his table. Just like he never mentioned how he'd taken cooking lessons so he could make Mexican food, or that he'd bought a book on auto mechanics so he could actually understand half of what his lover said, or that his 'interest' in jazz was less than a year old.
Just like he knew David never mentioned that he sat through sixteen hours of mind numbing documentaries on the flight and life cycles of birds of prey, or that he'd learned the names of every college football team in Nevada along with their players and their highest and lowest game scores, or even that he'd learned to speak fairly fluent Spanish in less than three months before going to meet Nick's family, including his Spanish born sister-in-law.
Just a whole list of things neither of them ever really mentioned, a whole lot of things they'd learned over a single beer a year before hand and the many things they'd learned since.
Nick grinned and kissed David gently, murmuring against his lips. "I'm really lucky."