How Alfred Got His 3DS for Christmas

Arthur stopped right outside the glass doors, swallowing apprehensively. He didn't have a good feeling about this.

At all.

But the winter winds of New York were cold, and even if it wasn't half as wet as it had been in London, the wind chills had a way of cutting right through you, and it gave Arthur the necessary push into the store.

Gamestop, he thought to himself, with the tinge of disgusted loathing usually reserved for vermin and petty thieves.

The festively-decorated shop with a seemingly infinite number of game cases displayed on shelves glared down at him, and Arthur felt himself bristle, standing up straighter. Don't be ridiculous. You're Arthur Kirkland, Branch Manager of Albion Publishing in New York. He swallowed, eyes darting from one game case to the other, frowning.

You can do this.

"Hi!" A young looking girl with Gamestop lanyard around her neck grinned at him. "Can I help you?"

"I- Er-" Arthur was momentarily thrown off-guard. In his mind, he'd just go into the damn shop, wander around for long enough to get irritated, and finally pluck a random game off the shelf just to be done with it. Alfred probably had the machine (console?) to play whatever it was anyway. He hadn't counted on trying-to-be-helpful shop assistants. "Er," he coughed out, still fumbling.

She laughed, holding up her hands in the universally accepted I'm-innocent gesture. "Relax, no pressure! You can just browse, of course. If you need any help, just ask, yeah?"

Arthur nodded, slightly jerkily, hating himself for it. He had been in this kind of store for long enough to know that he didn't hate the store, exactly. He just felt constantly thrown off, not knowing anything at all, and Arthur hated that feeling. He turned back to the confusing display of game cases, frowning slightly at the covers.

"Are you looking for a present?" the assistant asked again, warily friendly this time.

"Er," Arthur coughed, glancing at her, before turning back to the shelves. "Yes, I am."

"Ah okay!" Her voice perked up. "What kind of game are you looking for? For what console too."

Arthur turned to her, eyebrows bunched up in confusion. "Con... Sole...?"

"Yeah! Like uh, PS3 maybe? Xbox? Wii? Or maybe a handheld console?" she asked, waving her hand at the racks behind the counter, with boxes of PSPs stacked high. "Nintendo DS?"

Arthur felt his brain freeze. Come on, he shouted at himself mentally. You know this! And he did. Alfred had talked about his gaming enough for Arthur to at least have heard of the names the sales assistant had rattled off. As much as Alfred constantly accused him of "spacing out" when he had been talking about his games, Arthur had tried his best to pay attention. Now, the problem was that allthe names sounded equally familiar.

He had no idea which ones Alfred had.

"Err," Arthur frowned down at the boxes on the lower shelves, stocked with game consoles which suddenly all looked alarmingly alike. "I-I... It has a black controller...?"

The girl laughed a little, scratching at the back of her head, tugging at her ponytail. "Most controllers have black versions, but um, maybe... Hang on a sec yeah?" She disappeared around the shelf, returning with a plastic-wrapped black controller. "Is this it?" She asked.

Arthur bit his lip, eyeing the thing. The joysticks look familiar... I think?

"I... Think so?" Arthur sighed, scratching idly at his neck. "I'm... I'm not too sure really," he confessed. "He has a few of them... Two I think? The ah, the kind that you play with on the television." He gestured with his hand absently, waving at the boxed consoles. "He has two um, handheld ones too? One's... Longer? Black, with a larger screen and there's a P somewhere in it's name-"


"Yes!" Arthur smiled, remembering the way Alfred's voice sounded around the acronym, his American accent revitalized after coming to New York. "PSP, yes, I think that's it. And this other one with two screens, and I think one of them's a touch-screen? Or something? He uses a stylus with it, I think and- And god, he keeps losing it everywhere." Arthur mutters, before the sales assistant's laughter reminds him of who he's complaining to exactly.

"That'll be the NDS," she smiles, rocking back on her heels. "So you'll be looking for new games for those then? That shouldn't be too hard. If you'll please follow me?"

Arthur nodded absently at the back of her head. Truthfully, other than games, he had no idea what he could get Alfred. Being two perfectly self-sufficient grown men, they fed their own habits and hobbies. Arthur hadn't been too keen on the idea of buying Alfred clothes (not when Alfred consistently called whatever Arthur was wearing old-man-like and stodgy, regardless of how much he'd laugh about how he still loved Arthur for it), and Alfred didn't wear watches, so that was out as well. Games seemed like the logical option.

"Right! This is the NDS section." The girl stops in front of a double-lined case of games which, to Arthur, look just like every other shelf, and suddenly, Arthur felt a strong surge of gratitude for her help. "So here we have the best sellers, like um, this one for instance, is really popular, especially with..."

Arthur let her talk on about the varying popularity and strengths of games, as he scanned the colourful covers, trying to remember if he had ever seen any of them around the apartment. It was a feeble attempt, till his eyes caught on a larger box on the top shelf, a shiny-looking console depicted on it's front. New, the red stickers on its shelf shout.

"Er, sorry, but what's that?" He asks, pointing up at the box.

She stops, in mid-breath, looking up at the shelf Arthur is pointing at. "Oh! That's the new Nintendo console, the 3DS." She jumps a little, pulling the box down from the higher shelf, passing it to Arthur, smiling. "It's pretty new, came out this March. It's pretty cool, I think. The most unique thing about it is that it has a 3D mode, which works without glasses, so it's a whole new dimension of gaming, really and..."

"Arthur! Artie! You have to see this!" Alfred had thrust his iPad into Arthur's face, pushing away the knitting that he had been doing.

"Don't do that," Arthur said on reflex, as he squinted at the screen, which showed a... Gaming device of sorts? "What is it?" Arthur had frowned.

The rest is, admittedly, foggy to say the least, but Arthur remembers talk of a "new and improved" gaming platform, or something of the sort, and something that had to do with 3D graphics. Also something about how the launch price was ridiculously expensive and god perhaps he should just wait till it became more affordable-

Arthur turned the box over in his hands. I guess this is it then, he thought, looking up at the girl.

"I'll ah, take one of these, please."

"Sure!" She chirped, tossing the empty box back onto the shelf, as she lead him back to the counter. "What colour would you like? We only have black, blue and pink in stock though."

"... Black?" Arthur says, and it's more of a question than anything, the image of Alfred's black PSP at the back of his mind.

"Mhm!" She hummed, "give me a second, I'll just go get it for you." And as she left for the storeroom, Arthur felt himself slump a little against the counter, a little drained. At least that's the end of it, he thought to himself, opening his briefcase for his wallet.

"Here you go!" She smiled, pushing the box at Arthur. "Would you like to check the console? Or maybe buy additional games for it?"

Arthur felt his head ache a little more at the thought. "N-No, no, that's fine, I'll just pay for that."

The girl seemed to understand, and gave him the bill without another comment. As she packed the box into a bag, Arthur was distracted, fiddling with his chiming Blackberry.

Alfred J.: buy macs k? this tut class sux (6.20pm)

He felt himself smile, as he tucked the phone away again, watching the sales assistant finish up. She glanced up at him, catching his half-smile, and grinned back.

"Present for your son?" And Arthur wanted to die a little, right there, as he felt himself go red, mumbling some variant of "no, not really", before practically running out of the shop with Alfred's Christmas present.

Fuck my life, he thought, half not meaning it at all, as he rounded a corner to the MacDonalds near their block.

Arthur and Alfred's first Christmas in New York together. This was meant to be Hika's Christmas present!fic, and she wants it to be put up so... So it shall be! Happy holidays!