Gift - England x Reader - Working for Christmas
It was Christmas Day, and you were relaxed in your comfiest chair. You were cuddled up in a Snuggie and your favorite flannel pajamas, watching a DVD you had been sent in the mail from your grandmother for Christmas. Beside you were a few books and your cell phone. This was your first year being alone for Christmas. Before, you had always had your parents, but now that you had moved out of town to live on your own and couldn't afford to drive all the way to their house, you were enjoying your Christmas quietly.
"I wonder how Christmas breakfast went..." you said quietly, thinking of the feast of pancakes, waffles, muffins, and so much more your mother and grandmother always made. You used to help, but that year you weren't there to.
You sighed and turned back to your little TV. You were happy as long as you had your books and computer, but you hadn’t realized how lonely it could get sometimes. It probably didn’t help that you had a pretty lonely job, as well.
The phone rang. Speaking of jobs... You checked your phone to see it was the bookstore you were manager at. They were probably calling to ask if you could come in to work in about half an hour. Accepting the call, you listened and, surprise surprise, they asked if you could come in for a few hours. You said okay and got up to get ready.
When you were dressed about ten minutes later, wearing a (color) sweater your great-grandmother had knitted for you over a t-shirt and a pair of plain jeans, you got into your car and headed across town to the store. Upon arrival, the only other person working today was nodding off from her position behind the desk. You walked up to her and woke her up.
"Lili? I didn't know you were working today... I thought Vash only wanted you working on weekends," you said.
"Huh? Oh, hello, (f/n). That is true, but I wanted to work today, so big brother said I could. I like coming here. My shift ends in about an hour anyways," Lili replied softly. She smiled at you and turned back to the book lying open on the counter in front of her.
"Oh, I see. If I don't see you again before you leave, can you tell him I said merry Christmas?" you asked. Lili smiled and nodded again.
The store was a small one. The owner, an elderly woman, had wanted to share her love with the people of the town, so she bought a little old cabin sort of place near the new mall. She filled the cabin with shelves, little tables, comfy chairs, and lots and lots of books. Children's books, teens' books, adults' books, comic books, cookbooks, books. The store was a beautiful place, but soon after she hired you she began to get sick. Now, she ran the store from home, and one day she had let slip that she was thinking of giving the store to her hardest worker when she passed. She knew her time was coming, and there was no convincing her otherwise. The day she let her plan slip, she also told you that so far you were the hardest worker she had ever had in the store yet.
It was hard to believe that she was planning on giving you the store, but she was such a sweetie. Insisting her employees call her Granny, bringing in cookies and baked goods when she managed to make the trip out to the store, never daring to speak or even think a harsh word about anyone she encountered... If she really did give it to you, you would continue on all of her traditions, but no one would be calling you "Granny" until you were a grandma yourself.
You wandered off to the back of the store and began to stock the shelves again with the new arrivals. It was going to be a quiet day here, too. There wasn't much reason for the bookstore to be open on Christmas, but it gave you something better to do than wallow in your loneliness at home.
When you finished shelving the new books, Lili had already left, calling out a goodbye and a "Merry Christmas!" to you. Now you were alone in the shop. You took a sip of the hot cocoa she had made you before leaving and moved to examine your favorite section. After rearranging some books someone had left out the day before, you knelt on the floor and pulled out a particular favorite of yours you didn't have the pleasure of owning yet.
You stood up and peeked over the shelf to see if anyone was waiting by the counter for someone to serve them. Seeing no one, you settled yourself down on your stomach and began to read the book. No one really minded if anyone read the books without buying; Granny encouraged her employees to do so if they had no one to serve so they might be able to inspire someone wandering the aisles. She treated it like a library, almost.
Just as you reached your favorite scene in the beginning, you heard the jingle of the bell, signaling someone had entered. You looked up and jumped to your feet, holding the book, and peeked over the shelf again. All you saw was a head of blond hair disappear behind another shelf near the front of the store. You hurriedly put the book down and rushed to the front of the store, looking for the person.
Eventually, you found the person browsing the fairy tale section. It was a young man, probably not much older than you. He was a couple inches taller than you, but you couldn't see his face. It was hidden by his shaggy blond hair. The man was wearing a sweater that also looked handmade, with a pair of slacks and some loafers. He was crouching to look at some books on the bottom shelf.
"Um... Excuse me, sir, do you need any help?" you asked. Normally you weren't the one greeting someone, so you didn't really know what to say. Usually people came to you for help, but seeing as you were the only two in the store, you figured you had to speak up first.
The man looked up at you from his crouch. He had emerald green eyes and thick eyebrows. There was a tiniest hint of a smile on his face. "No, I don't think so, but thank you. I don't remember seeing you before; are you a new employee?" he asked as he stood up.
"Oh, no, I've been working here for a while. I'm just in the back more often than I'm up here..." You trailed off, feeling a little shy, and adjusted your sweater. Your fingers twisted into the yarn and tangled themselves there, leaving you an excuse to look down.
The man watched for a moment before replying. "I see. Well, it's nice to meet you. I'm Arthur, Arthur Kirkland." He began to stick out his hand but noticed your hands were still tangled in your sweater.
"I'm (f/n) (l/n). It's nice to meet you too, Arthur," you replied with a smile. When you managed to untangle your right hand, you grabbed his and shook. "Can I ask what it was you were looking for?"
Arthur stared for a moment before laughing, embarrassed. He scratched the back of his head. "Nothing, really. I was just sitting alone and had nothing to do, and I remembered this place was open on Christmas."
You gave him a small smile. "That's what I was doing before I got called in. I don't really mind though... It's better than staying home and not getting anything done."
Arthur smiled in response before turning back to the shelf and crouching again. You leaned over him to see what he was looking at, some of your hair falling over your shoulder and hanging above his head. "Which is your favorite? Maybe there's one you like and don't have?" you asked.
"I have all of my favorites... Oh, but that reminds me, I don't have Casino Royale yet..." Arthur replied. He was muttering to himself more than answering your question, but you smiled.
"Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, first of the original Double Oh Seven novels. I believe we still have a copy; if you'd like I can show you to where it is," you offered. The section it was in was near where you had been lying with your book earlier. Arthur looked up at you, hanging over him. His face looked upside down to you; to him it looked that way as well. You smiled at him and straightened. "This way."
You offered a hand to him, which he accepted and used to pull himself up from the ground. While leading him to the correct shelf, you passed through the aisle you had been lying in. The book and mug were still sitting in the spot you had left them in. You scooped up the mug and replaced the book to its spot before continuing on. Once in the correct spot, you slid the book out of its nook and handed it to him with the tiniest of smiles.
"If you decide you don't want to buy it now, I can put it aside for you for later. Oh, and you're welcome to stay and read for as long as you want, even if you aren't planning on getting anything. Feel free to call me if you need anything." With that, you turned on your heel and hurried away to the back room to put away your mug. You decided to make a cup of hot cocoa for Arthur, since it was cold outside and in most places of the store.
When it was finished, you placed the mug carefully beside him without his notice and wandered back to the aisle your book was in. You took it back out and laid yourself back down to read again. Just as you were opening the book to the page you had been on, a pair of brown loafers filled your view. Arthur was standing above you, similarly to the way you had been earlier. He was holding his book and the mug you gave him.
"Mind if I sit with you?"
You shook your head and moved over so there was more room for him. He sat and leaned against the shelf beside you. Arthur asked about the book you were reading, so you explained the basic plot the best you could without giving everything away. He started up a conversation that lasted for a while, mostly about books but also about other things both of you enjoyed. The two of you turned back to your books and continued to read. Eventually, you must have fallen asleep, because the next thing you knew, you were on your back with the book shut beside you, your head on Arthur's lap.
You bolted upright and looked at him, but he was asleep too. You didn't remember having rested your head on his legs; he must have moved you before falling asleep himself. Luckily no one went out on Christmas to this little place, so you knew no one had come. Arthur's face was calm and relaxed. Then you noticed the open book lying beside him.
He seems kind of lonely, you thought. Maybe I could get this for him, as a Christmas present... Yeah, that wouldn't be bad. I mean, we're friends now, aren't we?
After carefully picking up the book, you carried it to the front and placed the correct amount in the lockbox and wrote out the receipt. Granny didn't use a regular cash register: She preferred counting it out herself instead of letting a little machine do it. On the receipt you wrote, "Merry Christmas, Arthur! From your new friend (f/n)." You placed it back beside him and carried the mug to the back room and washed both of them, taking care to be especially careful. Upon emerging, Arthur was sitting in the same spot, but he was looking at the receipt.
"You didn't have to," Arthur said without looking up. Still, there was a smile on his face.
"I wanted to. I don't really have any friends in town to give gifts to, and I consider you my friend."
You picked up your book and opened it again, only to see a slip of paper fall out. It was a handwritten note, obviously from Arthur as no one else was there. You turned it over and saw a note similar to what you had written to him. When you looked up, Arthur was holding out the correct amount of money to you with a smile.
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It had been four years since that Christmas. You and Arthur had grown much closer. He introduced you to some of his friends and got a job at the very same bookstore. Granny was in no condition to run the store anymore, so it had gone to you already. Soon he asked you out, and had moved in with you only a month ago. Again it was Christmas day, and both of you found yourselves alone at the bookstore.
"Well... Here we are again, alone on Christmas day in the store," he said to you. You giggled and lightly punched his arm.
"Yeah, but this time you're here to work with me."
"Yes, yes, I know, Boss," Arthur replied, a crooked smile on his face.
"Oh, be quiet," you said with a laugh. "Hey, why don't we do that thing again? Where we buy each other books for Christmas?"
"I thought I already gave you your present," Arthur said, touching your new engagement ring. He was still smiling at you, though.
"And I already gave you one as well. But I want to do it again. In memory of how we met," you told him. You looked at him and fluttered your eyelashes, trying your hardest not to laugh at the corniness of your statement and action.
Arthur failed to both resist and not laugh. He took your hand and stood up. "All right. Come on, my love." You giggled and followed him to the fairy tale section.
"I bet I can find something for you faster than you can find something for me," you teased.
"For some reason I doubt that, dear," Arthur replied with a smile, tapping your nose.
"Then, GO!" You took off and headed right to where the Sherlock Holmes novels were. When Arthur finally got back to the lockbox, carrying one of your favorites, you were already sitting there, smirk on your face and filled-out receipt on the book.
"I told you. Merry Christmas, Arthur. I love you," you said, giggling, and gave him a quick peck.
"I love you too, (f/n). Merry Christmas."