Summary: Chad seeks the gift for the man who has everything. (Part of the Coming to Term 'Verse, this story is set in December 2007.)
Chad stared blankly at the mall directory without a clue as to where to begin. Whatever made him think that being gay meant that he'd never have to do this again? All it really meant was that he'd be shopping for a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend, and Chad had just begun to realize that this year it would be far worse than any previous experience.
It was bad enough having to figure out what to buy for someone he'd been dating for only two months, but Chad had to deal with the fact that the person he'd been dating for two months was the son of a millionaire. Ryan Evans had everything he could possibly want. Ryan Evans needed nothing he couldn't procure for himself. Chad was completely at a loss. And contrary to what Troy seemed to think, the issue wasn’t money. While Chad definitely had a budget, he was willing to stretch it a bit to buy Ryan's present. If he ever found something he wanted to buy.
After an hour he gave up and went home. He'd finished all the rest of his shopping. He'd bought his mother the cashmere scarf she'd hinted about and his father a Texas A&M throw for his study. And he'd bought gifts for Troy, Taylor and Kelsi. Instead of the usual gift exchange, Taylor insisted that they initiate a Secret Santa this year. It made sense and it saved everyone lots of time and money they would otherwise have spent on half a dozen or more small gifts. Chad had drawn Kelsi's name, but he'd also bought Taylor a gift, anyway. She'd become a very special friend over the past few months. And shopping for her was a breeze compared with trying to find a gift for Ryan.
"Chad?" his mother called as soon as he walked through the door. Chad put his shopping bag in the closet and went into the family room.
"Ryan called while you were out. He asked you to call him back," Ms. Danforth replied, looking up from her knitting.
"Thanks." Chad pulled out his phone and checked for messages. Frowning, he called Ryan's number and waited for him to pick up. "Hey," he said when Ryan answered. "Why'd you call the house? I told you I'd be out today."
"I had my reasons," he replied slyly. "Did you get your shopping done?"
"For the most part, yeah."
"Good. Want to come over? My dad wants to watch some bowl game tonight and I need a translator."
"You're so cute," Chad said, smiling. "Hold on. Mom, can I go over to Ryan's?"
"Have you done your homework?"
"Mom, it's Saturday."
"Is that a no?" she challenged.
"No, ma'am. I've done most of it. I have to read a couple of chapters of Chaucer for Monday but I can do that later."
"All right," Chad's mother replied. "Do you need me to drive you?"
"Please?" he said. "It'll be faster." She sighed and put down her knitting. "Thank you. I'll be there in twenty," Chad said into the phone.
"Oh!" Chad cried, leaping out of his seat. Vance Evans did the same, shouting, "Yes!" and high-fiving Chad. Behind them, Ryan looked on dubiously. "That was awesome," Chad said. He sat down again, grinning ear to ear.
"The Red Hawks won," Ryan concluded.
"Yes, the Red Hawks won," Chad said patiently, lifting Ryan's U of A baseball cap to tousle his hair.
"Oh, good," Ryan replied, smiling. He rose to his feet and congratulated his father, who hugged him warmly.
"Did you see that catch?" Mr. Evans cried. "Did you see that catch?"
"No, actually, Chad was doing a victory dance and blocking half the screen," Ryan deadpanned.
"Jabba the Hut couldn't block half that screen, dude," Chad said, swatting Ryan's backside. "You were probably sleeping again."
"Who could sleep with you two shouting?" Ryan reasoned. "And I only slept through the halftime show. I watched the whole game."
"We'll make a football fan of you, yet," Mr. Evans said, slapping Ryan on the shoulder. Ryan smiled wryly when his father sat down with Chad and dove into a discussion of the winning drive. His dad knew enough not to push his luck. Ryan escaped the home theatre as soon as the two of them were engaged. Chad knew where to find him.
Chad and Mr. Evans watched the end of postgame show and talked a bit about the forthcoming bowl week match-ups. Chad boldly predicted a win for his father's alma mater, but he abruptly changed the subject when he realized that the two men were alone.
"Say Mr. Evans, may I ask you for a bit of advice?"
"Of course, son, what is it?"
"Well, it's actually about Ryan," Chad began. He glanced up and saw Mr. Evans squirm slightly. "It's about his Christmas present," he added hastily. "I have no idea what to get him."
"It's our first Christmas, but we've only been dating for two months. We're kind of serious, but not too serious--. That part doesn't even matter. Serious or not, I haven't a clue as to what to give him! It's driving me nuts!"
"Have you asked him what he wants?" Mr. Evans asked reasonably.
"Asked him?" Chad squeaked. "I can't ask him! Five days before Christmas? He'd know right off the bat that I haven't got him a present yet."
"That's sort of the point."
"He'd also know that you were determined to give him the right gift," Mr. Evans continued. "And it's probably your best bet for giving him exactly what he wants."
"True, but I wanted to give him something special. Something romantic; I wanted to give him something I came up with, not him."
"So you want my advice about an appropriate romantic gift for my son," Mr. Evans said doubtfully.
"I'm really desperate," Chad said pouting. Mr. Evans tried unsuccessfully to suppress a smile.
"About fifteen years ago, Ryan's mother and I were sitting in a tea shop near Portobello Road in London, waiting out a storm. When the waitress brought the tray with our order, my wife picked up the teapot and just went nuts over it. I immediately called the waitress back and arranged to buy it on the spot."
"You're in all probability wondering what that has to do with your question," Mr. Evans surmised. Chad nodded. "Well, every time I travel and find myself wondering what to bring back for my wife--."
"You buy her a teapot," Chad supplied, smiling.
"She now has an extensive collection. Some are old and valuable, some are new, some are whimsical, and one or two them were found in thrift shops. Silver, porcelain, ceramic--they're at our place in New York, the house in Aspen, and some are right here in our dining room. She never tires of them and if I never have to struggle with your dilemma."
"That's great, Mr. E. but how do I--?" Chad smiled. "I get it. But I'm not buying Ryan a hat. Everyone gives him hats and I want to give him something different. What else does he collect?"
"He collects a lot of things," Mr. Evans replied. "But why don't you start a collection for him? That way it'll be something only you two share."
"That’s up to you," Mr. Evans said, rising to his feet. "I'm sure you'll come up with something."
"Thanks Mr. E," Chad said.
"I doubt if I've been much help," he admitted.
"No, actually, I think you have. I just need to decide what I'd like for him to collect."
Thanks," Chad replied. He rose and left the home theatre and sought out Ryan in his room. "Hey."
"Hey," Ryan said, looking up from his computer.
"What are you up to?"
"Shopping," Ryan said cryptically. He clicked on a button and blacked out the screen before he turned around. "Is sports night over?" Chad went over to him and pulled him into his arms.
"That depends. Want to play a game?"
On Christmas day, Chad returned to the Evans estate. He brought a tin of his mother's famous chocolate chip cookies for the Evans family, but his main concern was Ryan's gift as followed his boyfriend down the hall to the family room.
"Come over here," Ryan said, reaching under the huge tree to fetch a small box. Chad went to sit beside him on and took the offered present. "You first."
"Okay," Chad said, eagerly tearing into the paper. He opened the box and found an iPod Touch. "Wow!"
"Your mom said you'd been asking for one," Ryan said, beaming. Chad looked up.
"That's why you called the house last Saturday," he said, smiling. Ryan nodded sheepishly. Chad couldn't take any comfort in the knowledge that Ryan had waited as long as he had to purchase his gift. But he was too happy with his present to worry about it. "Ryan, this is awesome. Thank you."
"I took the liberty of loading a few things," he said softly. Chad checked the playlists and grinned until he saw "Phantom of the Opera" among the offerings. He glared at Ryan for a second, but before he could form a question, the rest of the family entered the room.
"So what did you get from Chad?" Sharpay asked without preamble.
"Nothing yet," Ryan replied, shooting her a look.
"Here," Chad said, reaching into the pocket of his cargo pants and producing a package. Ryan's eyes lit up as he accepted the slim box. Sharpay folded her arms and stood over him, tapping her foot impatiently as Ryan unwrapped the package with infinite care. He finally opened it and, smiling, pulled out his present.
"It's a pen," Sharpay announced flatly.
"It's a fountain pen," Ryan said elatedly. "It's beautiful."
"It's a pen," Sharpay repeated. Both parents gave her warning looks. She threw up her hands and strode out of the room.
"I love fountain pens," Ryan declared. "How did you know?" He drew his attention away from the object in his hand to look at Chad, who shrugged.
"I just wanted to give you something special," he said sheepishly. Mr. Evans bent to peer at the gift.
"May I?" he asked. Ryan handed it over and Mr. Evans admired it. "Ah, a Taccia Momenta… Nicely balanced," he observed. "Very nice," he said as he handed it back to his son. "Good choice," he said softy, giving Chad a surreptitious thumbs up sign.
"Do you really like it?" Chad asked Ryan worriedly. "I mean if you don't--."
"I really like it," Ryan said, leaning in to kiss him. "My grandfather collected fountain pens. I wanted one of my own and he promised to give me one, but I only got a ballpoint when I graduated middle school. He said I was too young for a fountain pen."
"Not anymore," Chad said, returning his smile.
A bit later, when they were able to escape the rest of the family, Chad asked Ryan again if he liked his gift.
"Didn't you believe me before?" Ryan asked. "I love it! It's a beautiful pen, it's a cool gift and the best thing about it is that I can carry it everywhere with me. When I bought your iPod I got a real kick out of knowing that I was giving you something you could carry every day, something that hopefully would make you think about me. And the best part is that no one else would guess that it held such a meaning for you." Ryan smiled at his pen. "This does the exact same thing." Chad grinned from ear to ear.
"Merry Christmas, Ducky," Chad said, reaching out to caress his cheek.
"Merry Christmas, Boo," Ryan replied.
Want to see the pen?