Gray scowled as he tugged at the scarf around his neck as he stepped out of the fifth gift shop he had visited today and back out onto the snowy street. It wasn’t as though he needed it for warmth, but he had pulled it on, hoping that it would help him get into the mindset of a certain flame-brained Dragon-slayer while he searched Magnolia for the perfect Christmas gift. So far it hadn’t worked, and in fact, it was just making him miss the idiot more, especially as Natsu had looked put out when the Ice Mage had told him that he was going into town on his own that morning. I could have spent the day with him, rather than wandering around for hours with nothing to show for it, he thought grumpily, tugging at the scarf again and glancing up to where he could see the Guild looming over the town. He should just head back and hope that Natsu wasn’t in one of those rare moods where he wasn’t in the move to forgive him, maybe even pick up something the Dragon-slayer loved for dinner on the way back.
He had already taken several steps down the street back in the direction of the guild before he brought himself to a halt. As much as he wanted to go back and spend time with Natsu, if he gave up now, it would be another day wasted, and he still had nothing to give his boyfriend for Christmas which was rapidly approaching now. Growling under his breath and sounding very much like the Dragon-slayer for a moment, he turned and marched resolutely in the other direction, even as he admitted that he was no closer to knowing what he was going to buy Natsu.
He had always struggled to know what he was going to buy Natsu for his birthday or Christmas, and that had only got worse since they had started dating. In fact, there had been times when he had almost missed the days where they had been nothing more than rivals, and he hadn’t had to really worry about that, just tossing some half-hearted gift of chocolate in the idiot’s direction. He couldn’t do that now, even if Natsu happened to love chocolate and would happily eat as much as Gray gave him. No, now he found himself spending days if not weeks trying to find that ‘perfect’ gift for his mate. And what really bugged him was how difficult it was, because it wasn’t as though he didn’t know what kind of things Natsu would like to receive as gifts, after all, apart from Happy he was confident that he knew the Dragon-slayer better than anyone.
The problem was that Natsu had never really been bothered by ‘things’, and while he was always happy to receive gifts, especially from Gray, it was always clear from his eyes that he didn’t consider it necessary. Which was sweet, and yet another thing that he loved about Natsu, but it made his job a thousand times harder than it needed to be, and his mood soured as he moved down the street, peering into shop windows, and wracking his brain for what he could buy the Dragon-slayer.
He had spent another two fruitless hours combing through the shops, with nothing to show for his efforts but a new throw for the couch at Natsu’s, remembering that it now had a new scorch mark after the Dragon-slayer had fallen asleep and started breathing fire as he snored. However, that didn’t really feel like a gift, or if it was, it was more of a shared one for Natsu and Happy, and he was already regretting it, even as he began to head back towards the guild, admitting defeat for the day. However, as he was heading up the street, he found his attention caught by the couple walking ahead of him hand in hand. They had just reached the corner of the street when the woman slipped, her partner immediately catching and steadying her, before leaning in to kiss her forehead, and it was like a light bulb going off in Gray’s head.
Natsu might not care much about material gifts, but one thing he did love was gestures. They didn’t have to be grand, sweeping declarations of love. Even the tiniest thing like a kiss to the end of his nose could have the idiot blushing and smiling for hours, and just spending time in the guild, pressed together and hand in hand could have the Dragon-slayer’s eyes lighting up like a Christmas tree. However, those were everyday gestures, ones that Gray was more than happy to lavish on Natsu for the rest of their days together, but for this, Gray wanted, or maybe needed, something bigger. Something grand and sweeping that couldn’t be mistaken for just another facet of their relationship.
Returning to the guild, inspired but still clueless, Gray had spent the next couple of days studying his boyfriend, watching everything he did with eagle eyes, searching for that spark that would tell him what would have the most impact. He had even tried asking Mira and Erza for advice, which had been a mistake. The former had been a font of ideas, but some of them were so ridiculously romantic that he had found himself blushing wildly, and seeing the mischief in her eyes, he had a feeling that had been her goal all along. Erza had been more and less helpful and far too knowing. She had offered him a few suggestions, but nothing that had really piqued his interest, but before she had wandered away, she had paused and told him that Natsu would show him what he wanted soon enough. However, when he had pressed for more information she had just smiled and refused to tell him anything else, leaving him more frustrated than before. And not knowing what else to do, he intensified his efforts in watching Natsu, trying to work out what she meant and what the Dragon-slayer really wanted.
The answer came two days before Christmas when panic had well and truly settled in. When early in the morning Gray found himself being roused by a breeze in his bedroom that hadn’t been there before, unable to stop a shiver as he opened his eyes to see the window open, snow drifting inside and a sheepish Natsu stood just inside. Sneaking inside, even though he had been the one to say that he wanted to spend the night at home with Happy who had been getting a little neglected, although the Exceed didn’t seem bothered. Home, Gray thought, an idea starting to form, even as he found himself lifting the covers in invitation. However, it was Natsu’s ‘I missed you’ as he slid into the bed and all but curled around Gray, that solidified his idea, heart hammering in chest, excitement and nervousness warring for control as he pulled the Dragon-slayer close.
Two days later, in front of the Christmas tree that they had erected in his living room and with Happy watching on with a broad grin, he handed the Dragon-slayer a tiny box. Natsu had taken it curiously, unwrapping it and pulling off the lid, eyes widening as he stared at what was inside, and for a terrifying moment, Gray thought that he had miscalculated. His heart and stomach doing a complicated dance, and he was about to break down and claim it was a joke or something when the beaming smile that he loved so much spread across Natsu’s face as he gently pulled out a copy of Gray’s door key.