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The Trickiness of Christmas Gift Giving

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The first Christmas he spent in Hawaii he spent hemming and hawing over who he should and shouldn’t give a Christmas present to. Christmas presents were a delicate thing, see. If you gave and didn’t get, that may be fine with you but chances are it’s not fine with the person who didn’t think ya’ll were at the exchanging part of your friendship. If you gave better than you got, same. If you got better than you gave, you felt like an asshole.

Danny feels like an asshole when he gets Steve’s gift.

His gift for Steve wasn’t exactly shabby. It wasn’t too expensive, it wasn’t too cheap. It was a nice sweater that was black so Steve should like it, and really soft so it should serve a nice purpose for getting women to fall even more over themselves to touch him. He had a speech planned, that he was wingmanning from afar.

It was also very impersonal. The kind of gift you give a coworker, which yes. Steve is that. Steve is Danny’s coworker. But he’s also kind of more, because when you’ve been through the shit they’ve been through, even in this short amount of time, you’re more than just coworkers.

But Steve doesn’t talk about himself all that much. The personal shit that Danny knows about Steve is that he is fiercely loyal, he lost his mother when he was 16, and he was currently in the process of mourning a father that was killed while he was on the phone to listen to it. What, do you give a guy like that a gold watch?

And it’s not like he hadn’t put any thought into the sweater. He thought, I want you to be warm. I think this will look nice on you. Women will like the way you look in this. It’s ridiculously soft and women will love to pet you in this. Lord knows Rachel loved getting him soft sweaters, and there were many times he happily sat there and let her stroke him like a favorite cat for hours at a time while watching tv.

So he thought, yeah, I’m wingmanning you from way back here. I’ve got your back, buddy. Women will dig it, I swear. Mostly though, yeah. It was an easy gift to give. Hard to misinterpret a sweater. It’s good enough at $75 to be a good present, but not so good that it will cause humiliation for whatever if anything he gets in return for either party. He got Kono and Chin the same, though Chin’s was grey and Kono’s was a gorgeous maroon.

Except Steven, the robot, the killing machine, the man who does not share, has hidden depths. That son of a bitch.

Kono gave him a puka shell bracelet, which wasn’t exactly his style but she said if he was going to learn to surf he had to wear the accouterments and it made him laugh and he thought it was actually pretty sweet. He put it on to show Kono he liked it and she’d smiled as he kissed her on the cheek. It wasn’t until much later, while he was finishing a beer with Chin just the two of them as everyone else bustled around picking up and getting ready to leave, that he realized Kono had actually made it herself.

She liked her sweater, making oooh and ahh sounds as she felt how soft it was, held it up to her body and hugged it and said, “Damn Danny, good taste.”

Chin gave him a sweater as well, not as soft but a very nice cable knit one, and they’d laughed over similar gift giving philosophies.

At the end of the night, Steve was the only one left to help clean up and Danny threw his sweater at him after he’d tied the last trash bag and said, “Merry Christmas, buddy.”

Steve grinned at him, such a boyish, happy grin, that it made Danny’s heart flip a little and he already felt a little shitty for getting him such an impersonal gift. Steve grinned at the sweater and looked at Danny and said, “Hey thanks, it’s the right size too.”

“Plus women love to pet sweaters that soft,” Danny said, reaching out to feel the fabric with his fingers. “It’s like a magnet, really.”

Steve laughed. “Yeah, I saw Kono feeling hers all night too after she put it on.” His grin widened at Danny. “Not that I need the help.”

“Course not,” Danny said, laughing and throwing his hands up.

“I have yours, it’s in my car, hang on a minute,” Steve said, and then jogged over to his car.   Coming back in he handed a thin package to Danny and when Danny started to shake it he said, “Wait, no, it’s breakable.”

Danny frowned at him. Thin, around 8”x10”, and not heavy at all. What in the world could be breakable? He tore open the package and as soon as he saw it he felt like absolute shit and sank into the couch. “Steve.”

“You don’t like it,” Steve said, sitting next to him.   “Its too personal? I’m not great at knowing when it’s too much. I should’ve gotten you whiskey.”

“No,” Danny said, tracing his fingers over the frame, a collage of pictures of him and Grace, candids that he somehow must have missed Steve taking over the past six months and Jesus, has he been planning this? “No, I love it.”

On the top of the frame are words: Behind Every Great Daughter is A Truly Amazing Dad.

Danny swallowed past the lump and didn’t know what to say, so he just said exactly what was on his mind. “I’m a little choked up, man. This is extremely touching.”

Steve jostled his shoulder and grinned a bit shyly at him. “You are, ya know? An amazing Dad. Like I said earlier, I may not be a Dad so I don’t know what it’s like to be on your end, but as the son of a single father… yeah. You’re an amazing Dad.”

Danny blinked down at the picture and then reached over to grab the sweater back. “Give it back, Steve, it’s not… that’s not your present.”

Steve laughed. “Danny.”

“It’s not good enough,” he said, yanking on it.

“You’re stretching it!”

“Good, then you’ll give it back if I ruin it,” Danny said, yanking harder. “Seriously Steve, you give me this and I gave you a fucking sweater?”

“Stop it,” Steve said grabbing the sleeve of his sweater. “I like this sweater! It looks comfy! Besides, your gift was like, $10 man. It’s not that big of a--”

“It is,” Danny said, looking into his eyes and nodding. “No it is that big of a deal, Steve. I’m very touched. You don’t even… You can’t possibly understand how touched.”

Steve threw an arm around him and grinned at him. “Good. I’m glad. Did it make your first Christmas without your family and the big tree and the everything else more bearable? Was it really so bad, just us and Gracie? Did you feel like you let her down?”

Danny shook his head. “No. She loved it.” He swallowed and cracked a smile. “I loved it.”

“See? Not so bad here,” Steve said, extracting his arm and standing up. “I’ll haul out a few bags on my way out. See you tomorrow,” he said, hooking a thumb at the door.

“Yeah,” Danny said, still feeling off kilter. “See ya.”