It really was below freezing. She walked back from rehearsal to her studio, her face slowly losing circulation. Before putting on her gloves she called back KSL. They were supposed to meet up and he'd called her during rehearsal.
He didn't answer, and she suddenly realized for the first time she was hearing his voicemail message. It was...ramblely. He said the same thing twice or three times, and it lasted far too long. As a performer she was shocked he didn't write it out and record it, like she had with her own. She shrugged, commented on his extended message with her own voicemail, and said to call her. Instead he texted her back that he was still walking home from work. "Want to meet up somewhere?" She asked.
He was broke from buying his new car. She said that she didn't have much to drink at her house but he was welcome to come over. She was hoping for a gift exchange, a drink, and goodnight. Looks like she was in for a longer evening if he was coming over.
She wasn't wrong.
He was unusually jovial as soon as he walked in the door, giving her a great big hug and asking how she was. She said she was fine, work and rehearsal were just stressing her out. He said he had to use her bathroom really quickly and then he'd be back. He took off his jacket, hat, and backpack and threw them on her bed.
He returned and said "Okay, now a proper hug." and embraced her for longer. She tried not to relax into it. She had been so lonely, she really needed to watch herself tonight.
They caught up on each other's lives, she told him about a new play she'd read and wanted to direct. She let him try her new tequila, and when he didn't like it she finished the shot.
She motioned to the present on the table and told him to open it. It was two books he had put back while they were at the book store the other day. He was so overcome with emotion that she almost thought he was being facetious, but she realized he was genuinely moved. He pulled her into another hug, and she got uncomfortable. She was so unused to someone being appreciative of her actions.
"Honestly, it's no big deal." She said, trying to diffuse his emotion. He wouldn't let it go. "No, this was like, seriously amazing. Like, it's just so thoughtful of you, it's amazing."
She wondered if he wasn't used to this kind of kindness as well, or if "Receiving Gifts" was high up on his Love Languages. Either way, it eventually made her happy that he was so moved by her small gift to him. They talked about the books for a little while, and she told him to look inside. She had written in each one an old school "This book belongs to" with his name and a snarky saying about not returning them to him.
"Now that makes them irreplaceable." He said.