Birthday Present

Chazz stood in the men's section of a large department store looking at different shirts. He picked up a red and black silk one. Chazz liked it, but would Jimmy? He might like silk, but Chazz couldn't remember his partner ever wearing red, and black only rarely. He sighed and put it back, looking at navy blue shirt next. It didn't really look like Jimmy either. In fact, none of these shirts looked much like Jimmy. For the first time, Chazz wondered where MacElroy bought his clothes.

Maybe he shouldn't get clothes. Chazz walked away from the shirts pausing for a moment at the underwear. Now that would make a good gift. Sexy silk underwear. But MacElroy wouldn't like it and he might get the wrong idea, anyway. The idea that Chazz was into him or something. Which he definitely was not. Okay, maybe every now and then when he caught a glimpse of Jimmy from behind or when Jimmy had just put on his lipgloss, which he always insisted was chap stick. But those times were just flukes. The random fantasies of a hopeless sex addict.

It was MacElroy's fault that he couldn't find anything good. He hadn't even known it was Jimmy's birthday until Coach had mentioned it at practice today. By that time it was too late to plan any kind of party and Chazz hadn't even gotten his friend a present. When Chazz had demanded to know why he hadn't been told, Jimmy had shrugged it off and said that his father had never made a big deal out of his birthday so he barely even thought of it. Really, MacElroy didn't deserve a present when he gave such short notice, but Jimmy had bought Chazz a present for his birthday after Chazz had given him several discrete hints. And by discrete hints, Chazz meant asking him repeatedly what he was getting during the week leading up to his birthday.

Chazz wandered half-heartedly through the sporting goods section. Now that he thought of it, Jimmy didn't really seem to like any sports other than figure skating. He picked up a hockey stick – maybe he could teach Jimmy how to play hockey. MacElroy probably wouldn't like hockey, though – too high contact. He put the hockey stick back and started looking at a set of weights. Jimmy liked to work out, but Chazz was fairly certain that that he already had weights.

Chazz groaned in frustration. The whole problem is that he kept thinking of what he would like which was not at all the same as what Jimmy would like. In fact, besides figure skating, they didn't really have any of the same interests. So what would Jimmy want? Probably something bright, sweet, girly, and marketed to children under the age of twelve.

Chazz looked around self-consciously as he walked into the toy section of the department store. He made sure that no one was watching him and then began to look carefully at the toys. Barbies? Too girly. Matchbox cars? Not girly enough. Then he found the stuffed animals. Jimmy had dozens of stuffed animals. There had to be something here that he would like. He was eyeing a green skunk when he saw something that almost made him jump out of his skin.

"Grublets," he muttered under his breath and there were, indeed, a whole shelf full of characters from the Grublets facing him. Chazz didn't like being reminded of the Grublets. He picked up a stuffed doll of one of the woodland fairies (who had much smaller boobs than her Grublets on Ice counterpart) and tried to turn its face away so it wasn't starring at him with its big, creepy eyes. Just as he was about to set it back on the shelf, however, it began making loud, high-pitched noises.

"Tra-la-la-la, tra-la-la-la, we sing a Grublets song," it sang.

"Ah!" Chazz yelled dropping it to the ground and kicking it a few times for good measure. He turned at a small whimper off to the side and saw a little girl staring at him. "What are you looking at?" he asked loudly and she ran away crying.

Chazz sighed in relief when the woodland fairy stopped singing. "Creepy," he whispered and moved to the other side of the aisle. He wouldn't be buying anything from the Grublets. Or anything from a Disney movie. Or anything with eyes as big as his fists. This was tough. He had known girls in the past who liked things like this, but when he had bought stuffed animals for them, he had always just grabbed the first thing he saw on the shelf. Jimmy deserved more consideration.

Then he spotted it. It was the most retarded looking thing that he had seen in his life. Jimmy would love it.

--- -- ---

"Here you go," Chazz said, triumphantly, dropping the brightly wrapped present down on the table in front Jimmy.

"What is this? Chazz, I told you that you didn't have to get me anything," Jimmy said.

"Well I did, so get over it," Chazz said, plopping down in a chair across from Jimmy.

Jimmy sighed, but started to untie the big silver bow before giving Chazz a suspicious look. "This isn't porn or anything is it?" he asked.

"No," Chazz said. He hadn't thought of porn. That was what MacElroy really needed – something to get off on. "Just open it."

But now Jimmy was making a face as if imagining all the things Chazz might have bought him. "Is it made out of leather?"

"No. Open it."

"Is it a Lynard Skynard CD?"

"Does it look like one? I barely even listen to Lynard Skynard."

"No more than I listen to Kenny G," Jimmy muttered.

"Listen MacElroy," Chazz said, raising his voice a little, "I spent an hour picking this thing out and another hour wrapping it. You are going to open it or I will punch you in the face."

"You wrapped it yourself?" Jimmy asked, fingering the wrapping as if actually touched. He began to unwrap the gift and opened the box. He stared at what was inside for so long that Chazz thought he must hate it.

"Chazz," he breathed. "This is great." Chazz was surprised at how much he seemed to like it. It was just a white teddy bear that also happened to double as a backpack. He had known that MacElroy would like it, but he hadn't known he would like it this much. Jimmy took the thing out of its box. "Thank you," he said.

"Um … you're welcome," Chazz said, confused at Jimmy's reaction.

"Sorry," Jimmy said, seeming to realize that he was behaving strangely. "It's just … no one's ever got me something like this as a birthday present before. Besides fans, I mean. My dad always used to get me new skates or exercise equipment or protein shakes. Sometimes Coach would buy me something, but his presents were always about the same – I think he was afraid my father would get mad at him if he bought me anything else."

"What about Katie? Didn't she buy you anything this year?"

"Oh yeah," Jimmy shrugged it off. "A sweater."

"Take off the bear's head," Chazz said.

"What?" Jimmy asked, looking up in alarm.

"The bear's head – it unzips."

Jimmy gave him another slightly suspicious glance, but unzipped the bear's head. "Wow, candy," he said, pulling out a bag of gummy bears. "Gummy bears, suckers, skittles, M & Ms, fruit rollups, sourballs, pop rocks," he pulled one package of candy after another out. "I'm not going to have any teeth left by the time I eat all this," he said, but he didn't sound upset about it.

"Keep digging, Jimmy," Chazz said in a deep voice, "I've hidden the sweetest candy in the crotch."

Jimmy snatched his hand quickly out the teddy bear. "Why do you always have to be so gross?" he asked, tearing open the gummy bears and popping a few into his mouth.

"Just because I don't go nuts over a present for an eight-year-old?" Just buying the stupid thing had been an ordeal for Chazz. The woman at the register had given him a very strange look until he had told her it was for his girlfriend. Not true, of course, but she probably would have given him an even stranger look if he had admitted it was for his male skating partner.

"I'd probably have to get you some plush boobs and fill them with beef jerky," Jimmy said, eating more candy.

"Now you're talking, MacElroy," Chazz said, "you can get me that for my next birthday."

"I am not getting you that," Jimmy muttered.

"Okay," Chazz said, agreeable, "but get dressed, we're going out."

"What? Now? Why?"

"Why do you think?" Chazz asked, sighing. Jimmy could be so clueless sometimes. "To get you drunk and maybe hit a strip club or two."

Jimmy gave him a brief glare. "Okay, no strip club," Chazz hadn't really expected that Jimmy would agree to that. "But we could at least grab a few brewskies."

"I don't know …"

"You can get some fruity drink if you want," Chazz said impatiently. "Just come. It'll be fun."

"Well … okay. Can I take the teddy bear?"

"Do you want to get the shit knocked out of you? I'd try to protect you, but I'm only one man for God's sake."

"So we're going to a rough bar?"

"No. But it is a bar. At night. Teddy bears are not recommended. In fact, you might want to borrow some of my clothes again," he began to move toward his bedroom to grab some clothes. "I'll find something to make you look not girly and totally sexful," he said.

"That's not even a word!" Jimmy called after him. "And nothing with fringe, Chazz!"

Chazz grinned to himself. There was going to be fringe. So much fringe. And he was going to get MacElroy very, very drunk.