The main road? [Glances over his shoulder to the gate, nodding thoughtfully at the area to clear. He turns another grin on Nori and slips her an affectionate wink.] You got it. ♪ I’ll get it cleared up in no time flat!
[Up until this point, the shovel had been resting against Kevin’s scarred shoulder. He picks it up and straightens it out, practically having to hike through the snow just to get to the gate. Carefully, he lowers the tool and starts scooping out one heap after the other.]
Something like this— [Heaves another scoopful of snow.] Weather like this calls for firewood - as in, actually going out into the woods and gathering some. [And heaves yet another.] Get your house all nice and naturally toasty. [Pauses and grins at her again.] Don’t you think? ♪
[While Kevin hikes through the snow, Nori looks along the side of the house for another shovel to assist Kevin in clearing the snow.] …
[Looks up when she hears Kevin speaking to her, returning a smile back to him.] I know what you mean. There is almost nothing better on such cold days than sitting in front of a roaring fire, don’t you think? We have a fireplace inside if you would like me to gather some of the firewood and get one together for when we’re done out here?
[Had barely just picked up the shovel and turned to get working, but hearing Nori’s voice brings him to glance over his shoulder, chuckling warmly at her very sight.]
Look at you! You really did get all nice ‘nd bundled for the snow, huh? Good thing, too—it’s actually chillier than I thought it’d be out here. [He’s made his way over to her by this point, smiling fondly at the woman just below his nose.] There’s a lotta snow piled around your house. Which area do you want me to clear first? ♪
[Tucks her nose a little further into her scarf, hiding the tint of pink that dusted it from the chill of the air outside, though, she could have sworn she felt her face heat up from the attention she was receiving from Kevin at that moment.] Mmm.. Yes, I don’t want to catch something.
[Lifts her gaze from Kevin and glances around — everything was covered in deep snow.] …
Perhaps… You could help me with making a path to the main road? From the porch to the gate?
[Gently looses his grasp over Nori’s hand when she lets it slip, feeling reluctant to let go. Blinks wordlessly - before snapping out of it.]
Sure, yeah! [Smiles goofily.] Sounds like a good plan! I’ll meet you outside, then. ♪ [Reaches for his jacket that was tossed over his rucksack, shaking it out and slipping his arms through. Adjusts the hoodie and turns toward the door.] Make sure you bundle up, okay? Wouldn’t want you catching a cold!
[Starts exiting, offering Nori an affectionate wink from over his shoulder - and then begins disappearing seconds later.] Meet you out front!
[Stands blankly in front of the porch steps, cheeks reddened. Places one hand on his hip, the other modestly rubbing the back of his neck.]
Boy… my face has been heating up all morning. I wonder if she’s noticed…
[Spots a shovel resting against the wall from the corner of his eye - and eventually, moseys his way over.]
[Soon emerges from inside her home, clad in layers of large, warm clothing. Atop her head she wore a pastel pink knitted hat, complete with a fluffy pom at the top, that stuck out from atop her head. Her scarf was the same shade of pink, though stripped with white. It wrapped around her neck and chin, making only her eyes and nose visible.]
[As she stepped out onto her porch, she slipped on two large mittens, clearly very thick and warm. They also were a gently pastel pink. Her coat looked large on her, but it was clearly atop many layers. Her small size was only determined from her thin stick legs sticking out from the bottom of her white coat.]
[Looks up from her hands, noticing Kevin making his way over toward the shovel. Tilts her head, looks down to the floor, and carefully steps off her porch, in pursuit.] Kevin..!
[Relaxes his shoulders, a relieved smile emerging.]
Really? You promise? … Oh, thank Goddess. ♪ For a minute there, I thought I had maybe invaded your personal space or somethin’ bad. Glad to know that I didn’t. ♪ [Falls silent for a moment, gazing at Nori with a tender smile and not quite realizing it himself.] Actually, I was real happy waking up like that, too… next to you, I mean. ♪
Well! [Sighs out, pushing himself off the ground.] What do you say we start our day? Let me help you shovel all that snow outta your porch! [Offers a hand to help her up, casting a grin.] May I? ♪
[Blinks, the realization that the moment had come to its end when he rises.] Oh — of course.
[Places her hand in his, smiling to herself as he wraps his fingers around hers, and lifts her up. Allows her hand to linger for a moment, before letting it slip and fall to her side.] Do you have warm enough clothes? I’ll go — [Looks down at her attire, still in the over sized tee she had on.] .. [Giggles, tugging at the bottom of her shirt, trying to pull it down a bit farther.] I’ll go change and meet you outside?
Oh, that! [Chortles, giving a dismissive wave of his hand.] Yeah, ‘s been a while since I woke up next to someone like that! Like, as in my family. Been years since I’ve been under the same roof as them, in fact - if you can believe that, heh.
[Suddenly pauses, bringing up a hand to sheepishly scratch the back of his messy hair.]
But, you know… I’ve never— [Blushes - and meekly:] I’ve never woken up next a woman before. That was brand new. [Blinks over to Nori, before his eyes grow wide with realization.]
Er, ‘m sorry! That wasn’t— I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable, I hope? If I did, just tell me so and I’ll make it up to you on the spot!
[With deeply reddened cheeks, she looks up at Kevin with a weak smile, shaking her head slowly.] No.. That.. actually makes me very happy to hear. [Giggles shyly to herself, tilting her head ever so slightly.] You don’t have to do anything to make it up to me. You didn’t make me feel bad at all.
[Tilts his head curiously to the side, still smiling at Nori. He begins blinking once she’s voiced her assumption, feeling the presence of heat permeating from both cheeks to his nose.]
Woken up next to someone? Like that? Me-Me? [Chuckles bashfully, unable to stop rubbing the back of his head in the same manner. Brown strands of hair become disheveled in the process.] A-Actually, no… I’ve never! Save for my little cousins back home, not even my friends have ever slept beside me. Everyone always passes out in some random corner of the house at our sleepovers! Hahaha…ha…
[Clears his throat, attempting to regain himself, but continues sporting a flustered smile.]
Why’d you think that anyhow?
[Watches him curiously as he clears her misunderstanding.]
[Looks down at her hands, embarrassed now that she didn’t understand what it was he was trying to convey — thinking perhaps her English wasn’t as good as she thought it was.] Well…
You said that it had been a while.. waking up next to someone. I assumed that.. ah— forgive me. I didn’t mean to misinterpret what you said..
[Finally removes his eyes from the ground and back to Nori’s face, breaking into an uplifted smile.]
Yeah… Yeah, me too! I thought it was nice, too. [Sees that his jacket is on the floor where they had snoozed on, reaching out to grab it.] Guess neither of us got cold ‘cos of it either. ♪ Actually, I forgot the fact that it had even been snowing outside.
[Sighs softly through his nose, the smile on his face warm.] It’s been a while. Waking up next to someone like that instead of being cooped up all alone.
[Eyes focus on Kevin’s expression, though they soon drop to the floor.] …
Did you… [Pauses, unsure of how to ask the question.] …
Did you … I..I’ve never woken up to someone in the way I did this morning…
[The tips of her fingers tap together rhythmically, bringing herself a slight distraction from Kevin’s presence.] …
Though… I suppose you have..
Mind? Me? [Blinks.] ‘Course I don’t mind! I kinda feel like it was my bad for keepin’ you up so late, and ‘m pretty sure I passed out asleep ‘fore you did. Sorry about that again. ♪
But, well, um— [Cheeks redden a bit, before he sheepishly rubs the back of his neck.] Was I— did you feel uncomfortable? I couldn’t tell when I woke up, but you were right next to me. Was that… uncomfortable for you, Nori? I didn’t invade your personal space, did I?? [Darts his eyes around the room nervously, suddenly worrying that maybe he had gotten a little too comfortable.]
[Voice softens.] Sometimes, I really can’t tell, ‘cos I sleep so soundly ‘nd heavily. Plus, it usually takes me a while to wake up and… you— you didn’t mind, did you?
[Listens to Kevin practically babble on, his voice laced with nervousness. So it wasn’t just her, then? She keeps her eyes averted until he posed his last question.]
[Looks up at him curiously.] Mind..? I… [Pauses, unsure if she should supply him with the truth, or a sugar coated lie.] …
[Feels the heat rise to her cheeks again, embarrassment washing over her. Shakes her head, her fingers reaching to grab the material of her shirt, clenching onto it.] No.. I didn’t.. [Looks up at him, from beneath fallen strands of hair.] …I thought… it was nice.