"A list?" Morty asked, confused. "What kind of list?"
Falkner could feel a headache coming on. "You were planning on going Christmas shopping without a list?"
Morty shrugged. "Isn't that the point of going shopping? Going around and seeing what's for sale 'cause you don't know what to get people?"
Falkner sighed. "Do you have a list of people, then?"
Morty chuckled nervously. "No?"
Falkner resisted introducing his hand to his face. It was going to be a long day.
Falkner wasn’t sure what possessed him to agree to go Christmas shopping with Morty. (He was adamantly ignoring that voice in his head going Your stupid crush, of course. It wasn't not a crush, it was - well. Okay.) In retrospect, it was an awful decision that he couldn't justify by any means, even if he did have a crush, becausee Morty had put off shopping untll the last minute which meant they were stuck braving violent holiday crowds.
Because even if he did kind of sort of maybe like Morty, this was not the kind of "quality" time he exactly wanted to be spending with him either.
"Oh! Stat items!" Morty said as he rushed over to the counter. Falkner sighed and lugged all of the shopping bags Morty had abandoned him with after him.
"Who are you getting these for?" Falkner asked, in some vain attempt to keep Morty's spending in check.
"Er, I'll figure it out later - but this five-for-four deal is a really good value!" Morty said. "Even better than the PokéBalls deal earlier!"
Grudgingly, Falkner had to agree. It was too bad he didn't have the heart earlier to tell Morty that PokéBalls were always buy-ten-get-one-Premium Ball-free, because that had ended up with him dragging around fifty-five PokéBalls.
"I'm sure Bugsy wouldn't mind some, don't you think?" Morty chatted at him as he paid for the stat items.
"Sure," Falkner replied half-heartedly. As one of the newest gym leaders, he still didn't know most of them very well and had haphazardly gotten everyone (except Morty) a type-enhancing gift set. It had made his holiday shopping much easier, but after following Morty around the last couple of hours and seeing how enthusiastic he was about everyone, Falkner was beginning to feel self-conscious.
"What do you think about those hair clips for Whitney?" Morty asked him, pointing to a pair of yellow crescent-shaped clips.
Falkner shrugged non-commitally. They were pretty enough, and Whitney would like them. He knew he was being petty since Morty was popular, but Morty got along especially well with Whitney, and Falkner couldn't help but feel a tinge of jealousy. However, even Whitney was no match for —
"Oh, hey," Morty said and grabbed his arm, dragging him towards one of the displays. Falkner tried not to blush at the contact. "What do you think of this glass figurine of Suicune? Don't you think Eusine would love it?"
Falkner stared at the miniature statue despairingly, knowing that he could never be a match for Morty's best friend. The price tag made itself him cringe, but considering everything so far, he was sure it wasn't an issue for Morty. Still - "I think it's a little impractical for someone who runs around as much as he does," Falkner reasoned. "I'm sure he'd rather have the real Suicune, and carrying around a delicate glass figure will only drag him down and get in the way of that."
Morty looked at him, almost surprised, before smiling and patting him on the back. "Of course! That's why it's a good thing you're here to stop me from doing anything stupid."
Falkner wished he could go back in time and prevent himself from doing something stupid — like convincing yourself that helping your crush buy presents for people who were not you would be fun.
Falkner has been standing in the cold for twenty-five minutes.
Falkner has been waiting in the dark and cold for the past twenty-five minutes, because twenty-five minutes ago, something caught Morty's eye and he'd run off, yelling behind him at Falkner to wait here, he'll be right back, and left Falkner with all of the stuff he'd bought.
Falkner glared at every single shopper who passed the lamp post he was standing by, even though he was pretty sure that none of it was their fault. After all, they were not the ones who told Falkner to wait here, they'll be right back twenty-five minutes ago, and had left him to stand here.
The worst part of it all, Falkner realized, was that as annoyed as he was, his crush on Morty hasn't subsided at all despite the past few hours of anguish, culminating to this final insult.
He knew, at least, that Morty would eventually come back if only because Falkner had all of his stuff.
Sure enough, another minute or so later, Morty wandered back with a giant wrapped gift in tow. He also had the decency to look sheepish.
"Sorry," Morty said, and ran his hand through his hair, tugging his headband a bit as he did. "Line was longer than I thought."
Falkner eyed the gift bag. Probably a gift for Eusine, he thought solemnly, something he had to get before Falkner would try to crush his spirit again. "Who's that for?" he asked anyway.
"Oh." Morty looked down at the bag. "Um..." There was a pause. "...Nobody," Morty decided on.
Falkner looked at him disbelievingly. "You made me stand here for half an hour. The least you could do is tell me is what you were doing."
"Really, nobody," Morty repeated. "No one—" He stopped. "Actually, you," he confessed.
Falkner blinked. "Me?"
"Yeah. I mean, you're going to have to wait, like everyone else but—"
Morty put the bag down on the ground. Then, he tugged the few bags out of Falkner's hand that he was still holding and put them aside.
"Actually, I have something else for you," he said and pulled out a small box out of his pocket. "And the other reason it took me so long."
Before Falkner had gotten the chance to get a good look at it, Morty slipped it out of the box, grabbed Falkner's hand, and clasped a leather band around his wrist. Falkner stared down at the tiny feather attached to it.
"I hope you don't think it's too girly," Morty explained. "It's supposed to be all the rage in Unova right now, and I know you think feathers are good luck."
Falkner was sure it didn't mean what he wanted it to me and forced his heart not to skip a beat.
"I wanted to thank you for spending time and helping me since I'm hopeless at this," Morty said and laughed deprecatingly. Falkner's heart sank, glad he hadn't gotten his hopes up, "— but as I was getting the bracelet, I realized this hasn't been much fun for you, and it's not exactly spending enjoyable time together like I was hoping," he continued to ramble almost frantically, "and I was wondering if like to out again. On a real date."
Falkner's mouth hung open, speechless.
"But I understand if you don't," Morty amended quickly.
"No, I- I'd love to," Falkner said, and a grin burst onto Morty's face.
The sky decided then that it would be a fine moment to start snowing.
The two of them looked at each other, then up towards the sky, watching as the large snowflakes began to drift down, caught and illuminated by the lamp light.
Falkner almost rolled his eyes at how cheesy it was.
Morty laughed, clearly sharing the same sentiment. "The only thing that would make this more perfect now would be mistletoe hanging above us."
Falkner smiled. "Well," he said, "we can pretend anyway," and leans up.