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"Alright, how about I knit you a Game Boy?"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard what I said. Shouldn't be hard for me."

"I should think it should be! Are you having a joke here?"

"I'm entirely serious. Just got to get the right type of wool, that's all. Let's see, Alpaca won't do it...maybe camel hair..."

"And you're going to do this a week before Christmas. First of all, you need at least four weeks to pull this off, secondly you don't knit a Gameboy, you crochet a Gameboy. Knitting is for home console systems. And we don't have a television anyway -- "

"I'll knit that as well."

"You don't need to."

"Oh, did you make one for me already?"

"I -- no, IĀ  -- Yeah. God dammit. That was supposed to be a surprise."

"Come on. You come home with a giant spool of glass yarn and I'm supposed to believe you're making windows?"

"I had hoped..."

"I'm more perceptive than you realize, my dear."

"Oh really, then why is your shirt sleeve trailing in the boot batter?"

"I said perceptive, not attentive! And maybe I always get distracted when you walk in because -- "

"I light up your life?"

"I already sewed us some new fluorescent bulbs."

"You know what I mean."

"Maybe I'm just trying to deflect because I didn't want this conversation to go where it went. I'm not comfortable with that topic."

"No indeed...and yet, and yet. You moved in with me. I moved in with you. You never seemed awkward about that. Why deflect, then? When we're the only two here? When there is no one to overhear and offer scorn, you are still nervous about saying such things. And yet you do so many things for me. Too many things. Sometimes you don't let me do the things, when I would do them, like pruning the rubber tree or feeding the fairy lights. You rush in and say that you will take care of it. Can you not believe that I would be able to handle such a thing?"

"I am -- the rubber tree is my responsibility."

"You make everything your responsibility. The pinecone pond, the leaves, dinner -- "

"Hey, I make an excellent three-button salad."

"Stop deflecting! I'm trying to figure out why you act like you have to take the entire weight of the household chores on your shoulders. If we had kids -- "

"Shouldn't be too difficult to hammer together."

"Right, but -- no! That's just what I'm talking about now! For Cod's sake just give me a stright answer here. I don't need you to do everything for me, so why do you drive yourself this hard? Are you trying to proveĀ  -- "

"You're getting warmer."

"Answer me!"

"Not when I'm caught between you and the kitchen counter."

"What if I stand next to you then?"

"That works."

"Alright. So what's eating you?"

"My life. So far. From then until now. I hadn't any friends in grade school. And then I didn't have friends in Middle School. And then I didn't have friends in high school. And then I did, for some reason. And then you came along and -- and you always say you love me, and I hear you, but something's not clicking. I'm just not getting it. It's like there's a wall between me and the idea of actually accepting anyone's affection. I'm not entirely certain what's going on. But I never said I loved you, and then I realized that I hadn't, but I still couldn't, so I figured that I ought to do everything I could to make up for it."

"Can you say it now?"

"Give me time."

"As much time as you need, then. Although you're already out of time for the Gameboy."

"I'll have to crochet you a music box instead."

"Oh no, a music box you have to weave."

"Dammit! No time for anything, then. I'm sorry. I've been too busy doing all the chores. I shouldn't have taken all the jobs for myself, and now here I am, with nothing to show for Christmas."

"That's not true."

"What do you mean? What else can I give?"

"You don't have to give me anything. Not when you're already here. You are what I'm looking for."

"Um -- "

"Is the course of the conversation making you uncomfortable?"

"Yes."

"We can pick this up another time, then."

"No, please. Continue. What do you mean, I'm what you're looking for?"

"I mean I didn't have friends in Middle School either, or High School. And then you were there...always a friendly face, more than the rest of my friends. Always with sage advice and yet no harsh judgment. It was something I needed then. Maybe what Most people need. And in those years, I wondered if my friends actually liked me, even when they said they did. But I knew you did. So that made it easier to accept affection from everyone else. I do think that you are the reason my relationship with my friends improved. Because you were kind, and you believed in me. I had a wall of my own, once. I opened the gate because I wanted to let you in, and I left it open. These days I'm still nervous about putting myself out there until I remember -- you said you had faith in me. So here we are, safe together. Will you open your own gate?"

"Give me time."

"As much time as you need."

"Let's say until the cake is done."

"Fine. We shall sit at the fire and eat boot cake and you will tell me -- whatever you wish to."

"It's a date."