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Title: The Secret Santa Shoes
Pairing: Ricky Berens/Ryan Lochte
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Ryan gives Ricky a pair of interesting shoes (see picture below the cut) for his Secret Santa present. Enough said.
Author’s Note: Written for missesbean for her Christmas present. Thanks for all the encouragement and inspiration. I wouldn’t write half the things I do if it weren’t for you. Merry Christmas.
Author's Note 2: The shoes that inspired this fic were created by a very talented artist whose work (including the shoes) can be found here.

Being friends with Ryan Lochte can be an adventure. No seriously. He’s loud and excitable, and easily distracted. He gets into the weirdest situations imaginable, and yet always gets out of them just as easily as he stumbled into them to start with. He’s slick with the ladies, but also an excellent wingman. He’s dedicated and laid back, all at the same time. And honestly, Ryan sees the world differently from everyone else. The way he dresses, the pictures he draws, the shoes he wears. They’re all manifestations of Ryan’s strange ability to see the world in a purely unique way. To him it all makes sense. Which is how Ricky ends up with The Shoes.

One of the girls, Ricky will later be unable to remember if it’s Schmitty or Hardy, but one of the two, comes up with a brilliant idea. Secret Santa. With World Championships in Istanbul falling right before Christmas, it’s the perfect time to have some Holiday fun. They send emails out to everyone on the team, or in some cases, Twitter DMs, because really who has time for email nowadays. They’re also given the rules. 1 present for 1 member of the team. You keep your giftee a secret until the big reveal. No going over 50 bucks. Put some thought into it, no gift cards will be acceptable. Fail to bring a present, and you forfeit YOUR present. And last but not least, have fun.

Ricky’s assigned Tony Ervin. Which is easy enough. That dude is so laid back and easy to get along with pretty much anything would make him happy. Ricky settles on a coffee table of tattoo photography. He almost reconsiders, USA Swimming has been having a continuous freak out over Tony’s tattoo sleeves since he showed back up two years before looking to make a run at London, and he’s a little afraid the book will only serve to inspire more. But Ricky decides that none of that matters. It’s Tony’s skin, and if the dude wants to be covered from head to foot in ink, that’s his prerogative. Ricky doesn’t care as long as he still swims fast. Besides it’s kind of fun watching the stiffs at USA Swimming turning purple each time he shows up at a function in short sleeves or a tank top, ink on display outside the pool deck. Maybe his present of the tattoo book will be the gift that keeps on giving. Ricky Is nothing if not pragmatic, and he buys a folded sheet of wrapping paper and a roll of tape and sticks it and the book (unwrapped for security purposes) in his suitcase to take with him.

He doesn’t give much thought about who likely got his name. He figures he’ll find out sooner or later. The team descends on Turkey with rolling bags, American flags, more Olympic medals to their name than can easily be counted, and the determination to continue to dominate the sport of swimming. They do. They kick ass. Ryan is back in top form. He takes home 8 medals, a new record. 7 Gold, 1 Bronze, and so the party Team USA throws in the hotel is half congrats to Ryan on the record medals, and two new World Records, and part early Christmas party. All the gifts are labeled and under the table holding a mini Christmas tree that one of the girls had smuggled over in their carryon luggage. It’s only about a foot tall, with a single strand of lights, and some mini ornaments, but it gets them all in a festive spirit. Ricky sticks his present for Tony in amidst the others and grabs a beer. Their flight back to the states isn’t until mid-afternoon the next day. So he can let loose a little.

There’s Holiday Music, a nice mix of Christmas and secular, and dancing going on. Someone calls and soon a dozen pizzas show up. Pizza Delivery? In Istanbul? Who knew? And Ricky finds himself on his third beer and sharing a couch with Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte a plate piled high with enough cheese and grease to have made Ricky’s coach red with rage. That’s when Schmitty, it’s definitely Allison, decides it’s time to do Secret Santa. She grabs Jessica to help and the two of them start handing out presents.

Ricky watches as present after present gets opened. A light-up make-up mirror for Jessica. A bad Christmas sweater for Allison. Ryan Murphy gets a box-set of the Godfather movies, Ryan Lochte gets a set of personalized bright yellow golf balls proclaiming JEAH! to the world. Then Tony opens his book and Ricky watches his face for a reaction. He’s happy to see surprised delight spread across Tony’s face, as he immediately starts flipping through the glossy thick pages.

They go around the room until it’s finally Ricky’s turn. The box is fairly large, so big in fact that Ricky briefly wonders who they hell his Secret Santa got it to Istanbul. It’s also perfectly wrapped. Ricky pulls off the velvet bow carefully, slinging the ribbon around his neck before starting to tear off the paper. The box is plain, with no markings, and people are starting to murmur in confused intrigue. Ricky pulls a face, lifting off the lid.

His present, whatever it is, I swimming in bright orange tissue paper. Putting the box top to the side, Ricky starts to lift the tissue away. Peeking under it he feels his breath catch and his eyes go wide.

His present is a pair of shoes. But not just any shoes. They’re like nothing Ricky’s ever seen before. They’d started out as brown leather loafers, vaguely reminiscent of the cowboy boots he’d seen every day (and often worn himself) while still back in Austin. He couldn’t tell exactly what type of leather they were at first glance, he’s not exactly an expert, but in the end it’s not important. Because these shoes… they’re not just shoes. They’re Longhorn shoes. Sitting on the front of each shoe, right across the top of the foot, is attached large silver steer heads, nostrils flaring, and long gently curving horns arching up out of their heads in either direction. They’re beautiful and impractical and amazing. They look like they could be used as lethal weapons, or could sit in a glass case as pieces of art. Ricky’s never seen anything like them before.

He can feel the grin spreading across his face.

“Oh wow,” he says, pulling one of the shoes out and holding up for a better look. The reactions from everyone in the room varies widely. One of the girls lets out a squeak talking about how pretty they are. Another, a guy this time lets out a laugh.

“Dude! How are you supposed to wear those!?” Ricky rolls his eyes at that one, focusing instead on the shoe he still holds in his hands.

“I’m not sure. But these are awesome!” he replies. “Seriously. Thanks!” he says to the room. The Secret Santa’s won’t be revealed unless they want to be. Ricky peels back the tissue paper to pull out the second shoe. They really are amazing, he wants to find a place in his apartment to put them out on display. They had to have been expensive, which stirs something in the back of his head. “Hey, these cost way more than 50 bucks!” he protests. He looks around the room trying to figure out who they could possibly be from. But no one seems willing to admit the present is from them. Schmitty however looks both annoyed and strangely amused.

“We set a spending limit for a reason people! Stops being so generous with each other!” she says with a smile. Ricky laughs, carefully fitting the shoes back into their box. He doesn’t replace the lid though, instead he turns it over and sets the lid onto the bottom of the box and every few minutes lets his fingers trace across the stiff leather and the hard metal horns of the shoes. He can’t stop touching them.

The party breaks up eventually. The eggnog runs out, and everyone says goodbye, dispersing to their own rooms. But Ricky doesn’t want to go to bed yet. He goes back to his room and he stares at his present. He wants to know who it’s from. A lot of Secret Santa’s had revealed themselves toward the end of the party. Ricky had told Tony, and gotten a hug in thanks. But no one had told Ricky the shoes were from them. Ricky sits on the end of his bed, pulls out one of the shoes and stares at it. He feels like he should know. It should be obvious. These shoes… they’re flashy, expensive, unique, and definitely completely Ryan Lochte. Ricky slumps in place, a laugh bubbling out of his lungs. Of course it’s from Ryan. It’s a pair of shoes for God’s sake! But why hadn’t Ryan told him? Knowing he won’t be able to sleep until he knows, Ricky leaves his room to find Ryan.

Ryan answers on the second knock, wet from a shower, and dressed in only a towel. Ricky is careful to keep his eyes above Ryan’s shoulders.

“Hey, Berens, come on in,” Ryan steps back, rubbing at his hair with a smaller towel. “What’s up?” Ricky lets the door close behind him, and flops down on the side of Ryan’s bed.

“I figured out the present was from you,” he says, crossing his arms over his chest. Ryan freezes.

“How do you figure that?” Ryan asks. Ricky rolls his eyes.

“Bad ass shoes like that. Who else could possibly think of them? But man they’re way too expensive,” he replies. Ryan smirks, dropping the act.

“Nah, I really did only pay 50 for them. I went to my shoe guy. He made me a deal, I ordered like three pairs from him, so he cut me a break on the price,” Ryan pulls a pair of boxers out of his drawer and does a deck change to get them on, Ricky carefully does not watch. “But you liked them? Right?” he asks. Ricky nods.

“Dude, they’re fucking awesome. I love them. They’re so Texas, in that crazy bigger than life way. They’re great. Thank you. But why didn’t you tell me they were from you,” Ricky asks. Ryan freezes again, his back to Ricky. He straightens up, and shrugs his shoulders.

“I don’t know. Didn’t want to do it in front of everyone else, I guess. I’m glad you like em.” When he turns around he’s smiling. Ricky grins at him again.

“I do. Best present so far this year!” he announces. Ryan makes a face.

“Like that means all that much. You haven’t gotten any other Christmas presents yet, you dickhead!” Ricky laughs again.

“Doesn’t make it any less true!” Ricky teases. Ryan shakes his head.

“If you don’t like it I can take it back, get you something else.” Ricky sighs standing up.

“Why would you think I don’t like it? Of course I like it! I love it. I’ve already got the perfect place picked out to put them out back home. I don’t want to just keep them in a box locked away in my closet. They’re works of art. I don’t want anything else, Ry,” Ricky promises.

“Good,” Ryan nods. “Good. I wanted it to be perfect.”

“Why? It was just a Secret Santa present, Ryan.”

“You deserved something perfect,” Ryan says, stepping closer, into Ricky’s space. Ricky blinks in surprise. Realization dawning quickly.

“Oh! Ohhhhh!” he murmurs, smiling at Ryan. “You could have gotten me a Snickers bar or a coffee mug or a gift card and I’d have loved it,” this comes out like a confession and Ricky’s smile turns a little shy. Ryan grins in response, his lips curling up and out even as he steps closer.

“Oh really?” Ryan asks and Ricky can actually hear the smug satisfaction in it. He tilts his chin up, squaring his shoulders.

“Yeah,” he replies.

“You’d have been happy with a Snickers?” he asks. Ricky nods.


“What if it was a milky way?” Ryan teases. Ricky smirks.


“A Hershey bar?” Ryan asks. Ricky nods.

“Yes. Preferably one with almonds, but a plain one will do in a pinch.”

“What about a kiss? Would you be happy with just one kiss?” Ryan asks. Ricky looks down.

“Well kisses are kind of tiny. I think they retail for about 15 cents apiece. That would be a really incredibly cheap way to go with a Secret Santa present, but I,” Ricky’s cut off by Ryan’s mouth pressing to his, hands gripping the front of his t-shirt pulling him in closer. When Ryan pulls away a few seconds later Ricky peels his eyes open and looks at him in mild astonishment. “Oh, you meant that type of kiss?” Ricky asks. Ryan smirks then, and Ricky laughs, smiling widely. “I’d take a million of those if they’re on the table. But you’re not getting those longhorn shoes back. I like them too much.”

“Jesus Ricky, how do you get your teeth so damn white?” Ryan asks. Ricky shakes his head and kisses him again, opening his mouth, and winding long arms around Ryan’s shoulders.

“Shut up,” he murmurs against Ryan’s mouth, tongue pressing deep. Ryan smiles against his lips.

Date: 2012-12-26 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Lawl first of all those shoes look heavy as fawk and ryan so would. Dying at the 3rd wheel knowing the retail price for a kiss tho I thought he was flirting but no.

Date: 2012-12-26 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He sooo would.
And I got tired of Ryan always being the stupid unobservant one. :D I'm glad you laughed.

Thanks for reading. :)

Date: 2012-12-26 11:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
“Well kisses are kind of tiny. I think they retail for about 15 cents apiece. That would be a really incredibly cheap way to go with a Secret Santa present, but I,-”

I really thought 3WR was being such a smart ass but noooo. Hahaha!

Oh Ryan, oh Ricky!

Date: 2012-12-26 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
he he. I had fun with this one. I'm glad it came across the way I wanted it too.

Thanks for reading/commenting. :D


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