The store was completely decked out for Christmas, and Dan almost felt attacked by the bright reds and greens. He just huddled into the safety his dark coat and followed along dutifully as Phil flitted erratically from isle to isle.
They’d wanted to get their Christmas shopping done early this year, which was a good idea. But Dan had a feeling that plan wasn’t going to work out as well as Phil thought it would. Phil himself was much more of a last minute shopper, and Dan personally liked to order all his gifts from the comfort of their warm bed at 2 in the morning.
But he decided to humor his boyfriend, so he actually looked around as Phil dragged him from display to display.
“What do you think of this for my mum?” Phil asked, holding a fuzzy, pink jumper out in front of him.
Dan licked his lips, trying to ignore the annoying tinny holiday songs playing in the background. “Its nice,” his voice was high and false, trying to think of a way to tell Phil it was hideous in the most tactful way possible. “But I think Kath has quite a lot of jumpers. I think a nice, classy blouse would be better.”
Phil hummed, biting his lip. “You’re probably right. But I was just drawn to this.” He tilted his head from side to side.
Dan stifled a smile. “Well how about you buy it for Louise.” He coughed to hide a giggle. “It’ll match her hair.” Plus, Dan would get a good laugh out of watching her try to thank Phil while also being absolutely disgusted by the gift. Phil’s terrible fashion sense was the height of Christmas entertainment.
“That’s a great idea, thanks Dan!” Phil beamed, and Dan’s stifled smile turned to a fond one as he watched Phil excitedly put it in the cart.
The rest of the trip went quite a lot like that, with Phil holding up tacky decorations or strange scented candles and asking for Dan’s opinion, and in the end, the jumper was really the only thing they bought. But really, Dan thought as Phil chattered along beside him as they walked through the door to their apartment, he supposed success was kind of relative. Phil’s goofy smile felt a lot more satisfying than having their shopping done and over with.
But the shopping wasn’t done and over with, and in fact, over the next month, Phil dragged Dan out of the house four more times, which was strange, seeing as Phil was typically just as antisocial as Dan was.
Phil was actually out right then. Dan had begged off of this trip and Phil hadn’t put up as fight, which probably meant that he was out searching for Dan’s gift.
Dan had claimed editing as the reason he couldn’t go, but Phil had known him for eight years, he was sure that the older man could tell that he actually just wanted to do some Christmas shopping on his own. So Phil had waved goodbye, and Dan went to his computer to scroll and scroll and scroll, searching for the perfect thing for all his friends.
Usually, Dan had some idea of the gifts he was going to buy, but this year he was a bit blank. He found some gifts for his family, Louise, Cat, Bry, and Phil’s parents, but they didn’t feel like anything special.
Dan slouched back into his sofa crease, he was off his gift-giving game this year. Which was irritating, seeing as he usually was the best gift-giver, finding something strange that fit his friend’s personalities perfectly. But everything he got this year was so basic, Dan grumbled to himself and leaned his head back to look at the ceiling.
Maybe he’d exhausted his gift-giving with his plan for Phil. Phil was always a struggle to buy for, not because he didn’t like Dan’s gift, but actually the opposite. Phil was happy to get anything, but Dan always wanted to give him something he’d love. It was made particularly irritating by the fact that Phil always got him the perfect gift. He’d been planning Phil’s gift this year for months.
Dan groaned as he stood and moved to their bedroom, sitting and opening a desk drawer that he knew Phil never touched and stared at the contents. He nudged the ring box with his finger and sighed. Not this year, he thought. He wasn’t going to propose to Phil this Christmas. He knew enough to see that this wasn’t the right time. He wanted to be out to the world before he did, so he could show the world that Phil was his.
But it wasn’t the right time for that either.
Dan swiveled the chair around, leaning back in it and steepling his fingers under his chin. Marriage had been on his mind a lot, and what would come along with it even more. A dog and a forever home were things that him and Phil had been hoping for for years. But again, Dan rubbed his eyes as he stopped swiveling and leaned his elbows on the desk, it wasn’t the right time.
But when was the right time?
Dan knew what he wanted, and he was tired of waiting for the right time for everything. So, this Christmas he was taking Phil to the shelter and they were getting a dog. He’d talked to the landlord and everything, and was even willing to hide the raised rent from Phil, which wasn’t easy, considering how closely that man watched their bank statements.
Phil may have protested, but Dan wasn’t stupid. He could see the longing way that both of them had held those dogs for the calendar shoot. This was something they both wanted, and it was something that Dan was going to get for them.
Dan stood and stretched his long body. He should probably get back to looking for gifts for everyone else.
They went out shopping a few more time in the few weeks before Christmas, but something about sipping a spiced flat white while Phil hmmmed and hawwwed over different light up reindeer antlers gained a certain charm. And Dan actually did have a few more gifts to get. The ones he’d ordered online had been trickling in since he bought them but he still had a few to pick out. So, he wandered the pine scented, fairy light lit up isles and looked for something that screamed Tyler Oakley at him. Him and Tyler had somehow fallen into a tradition of sending each other the most ridiculous presents imaginable, it was almost a competition, and Dan really wanted to win this year.
He found himself in the candle isle, wandering up and down the shelves. Then he stopped in his tracks
“No,” Dan shook his head, his eyes widening as an evil smile grew on his face. “I can’t believe…” He trailed off as he picked the candle off the shelf and cackled, uncaring of the other customers milling around the store. “We whisk you a Merry Christmas,” he read out loud, barely able to get the words out between his giggles. It was perfect.
Dan spent the rest of the shopping trip intermittently giggling, to Phil’s fond exasperation. But he sighed in relief, he was finally done with his shopping.
“I’ve gotten you an amazing gift this year Dan,” Phil said out of nowhere as they left the store. “You’re going to love it.”
Dan smiled softly to himself. “Well I have too,” He replied, placing his hand over Phil’s and smiling at him. “The best gift ever.”
They both laughed on Christmas morning, when they traded numbers for the dog shelter Dan had gotten and the real estate agent Phil had. It seemed that both of them had the same idea.
The right time was now.
(Dan may have laughed when he saw the real estate agent, but not quite as hard as he laughed when he unwrapped his gift from Tyler and found a candle reading ‘we whisk you a Merry Christmas’ inside.)