Jim had left the present under the tree which Victor had finally persuaded Jim to erect — or rather, the one he’d finally persuaded Jim to purchase so he could both put it up and decorate it. Rather than wrapping the box, which was quite decorative in black and gold design already, Jim had simply wrapped a ribbon around it and tied a proper bow at the top. As if it weren’t already obvious to whom the gift belonged, a small attached tag read “To Victor. Merry Christmas. -JMx.”
Once Victor had gotten the box itself open, layers of tissue paper could be carefully peeled back to reveal the present itself. Jim had gotten him a first edition copy of This Side of Paradise, signed by F. Scott Fitzgerald himself. Whether Jim had acquired it through legal means or not, it had obviously taken him a great deal of work to obtain the book. The consulting criminal may just have been showing his hand here.
He wasn’t expecting, when he wandered into the sitting room that morning, only half-awake, anything to be under the tree at all. He hadn’t, after all, put anything there. So the embellished box is quite noticeable when it catches the light as it does, and Victor’s steps slowed. He hesitated, then approached the tree and reached down to pick it up, and knew immediately who had put it there. The understated gilding, the black, and the fact that there was only one other person in this flat in the first place.
When he had opened the box, his eyebrows rose, startled by the familiar cover. His lips parted for a moment, and then he reached inside and set the box down to turn the book over in his hands in wonder, feeling the evidence of preserved age. And on the inside of the cover- the signature, clearly unfaked.
A part of him pointed out there was no way Jim could have acquired this without a bit of crime, but the rest of him was still struggling to process that Jim had remembered him mentioning his favourite author at all, or that he’d known his admiration passed the author’s most famous work like most people’s did not…his lips curled up and he laughed a bit without being able to help himself, shaking his head.
When Jim opened the door to the flat, he was given quite the thank you.