A small package, so neatly wrapped in gold and red, adorned by a gaudy bow of silver ribbon. It looked so nondescript, almost false in its average perfection. Almost like it was plucked straight from a television commercial in which children squealed in delight and parents smiled gently in the morning, or lovers gave soft kisses on Christmas Eve.

Momiji gave it to her now, thrusting it into her hands with a characteristically broad grin and a proclamation that she needn't wait for morning. He'd worked hard to earn the money necessary to purchase this gift. Not because he needed to, of course - his family had more than enough cash to spare - but because he wanted to attempt to give back something of what she gave all year around. She gave so much. He wished more than anything that he could give back in kind. Hopefully, this small token would be enough to make her understand.

Seeing the surprise in her eyes, a thought of deep gratitude went out to Hari as Momiji thought about the patience with which the doctor had overseen his less than professional attempts at filing. Despite obvious errors, he had not stepped in and taken over, as Momiji was sure he had wanted to do. Instead, Hari had almost certainly worked well into the night to undo the damage and begin over again. He'd understood just how important it was that he let Momiji do his own thing, and Momiji knew it.

He was lucky to have people like Hari in his life.

He caught the familiar glint of fear in her eyes, and grinned encouragingly. She didn't like to receive gifts, even though she cherished them; he could understand why. In some small way, he was the same, and this was precisely why he acted in the opposite way and compensated by giving such extravagant gifts. He liked to feel as if he had given in at least equal measure to that which he received, but Tohru put him to shame every time. With a single, tiny gift given directly from the heart with money she could never afford to spend, she always left him feeling entirely in her debt. She never felt like it was enough, though, and it pained him to see it.

She saw him smile and merely watched him for a moment. He could almost see the thoughts running through her head, see the understanding form behind her eyes. She knew that he understood her, and it eased her mind. She smiled back, and his stomach was suddenly filled with butterflies.

She looked down then and began to pull open the wrapping. His breath caught. He hoped she liked it. He hoped she wouldn't be offended, that she would cherish it as she cherished all she received and put it to good use...

"Oh..."

Her eyes filled with tears as she turned back to him, her expression distraught.

"I'm sorry..."

Confused, Momiji watched as Tohru reached behind her to search beneath a cushion. Turning back to him, she presented a neatly wrapped box. A Christmas gift.

"Don't wait," she told him, and with a concerned nod he began to unwrap the present with uncharacteristic slowness and care. Normally he'd tear into the paper enthusiastically, squealing and bouncing up and down as he triumphantly produced his newest possession. This was different, though. This was something precious.

He lifted the lid and looked inside.

With a reverential gasp, he lifted the photo frame out of the box and gazed at it. It was exquisite. How much must this have cost..? Far much than hers had cost him, he supposed.

He looked up at her again, his eyes pricked with tears. Yet again, he had been outdone. He had tried so hard, and yet was still in her debt. Doubly so, because now she felt her gift to him was less than ideal...

But no. She was smiling. Softly smiling at him and holding her own photo frame close to her body as if it were the most precious thing in the world. And suddenly, he understood.

"Thank you."

"Merry Christmas."