Holster's in love with Ransom. By now that thought barely makes him blink. It doesn't shake him down to his soul like it did the first time he realised, in sophomore year, sat across from his best friend in Annie's at five am, when the morning light was illuminating Ransom's face in some way that made Holster's heart just—stop. That had been earth-shattering, then. It had seemed like it must change everything he thought he was, everything he would do. In the end it had become obvious that it didn't change a thing, that Ransom had been his favourite person since that first hockey practice, and he had always loved him, platonically or else.
It doesn't even hurt as much as he thought it would, being in love your best friend. Of course there's the odd moment of burning jealousy that catches him unawares and every now and then he'll feel like crying because he knows Ransom loves him but he's not in love with him and that little word makes all the difference.
But most of the time he's fine.
Yeah, he's fine.
Sometimes Holster feels like telling Ransom. Like, he really wants to. They share everything and it's so weird to have this one thing to himself. But he's never had a way with words. He just knows that he'll freeze up or it'll come out wrong and someone would get hurt.
And then on top of that—it's not that he's worried about Ransom taking it badly, exactly, because they're best bros and he's not a homophobic asshole, but he is, sort of, worried that something would change and he'd never get the same Ransom back.
So he's pretty much settled into not saying anything and just waiting for it to die down, and that would be great if he thought it was the kind of thing that could, like, die down.
Ah well. C'est la vie, as Jack might say.
Or, y'know, he might not.
It's Bitty who changes Holster's mind, eventually. He's hanging out in the kitchen supervising the baking of matzah for the Haus Seder that's happening this year because Easter break is too late for him and Jack to go home for Passover.
(He's not sure it'll be totally by-the-book and of course nothing beats family Seder but he loves this team so much for trying to make him feel at home when college admin screws him over.)
And Bitty just casually mentions this thing he heard of in one of his random humanities electives, this theory of the love languages.
"—so there’s five, but we all have one we recognise best,'' he's saying, but Holster's stuck on the whole 'showing you love someone without having to actually tell them' bit. Because that's like, the genius solution he's been looking for. No chance of fucking up his words if he doesn't use words. It’s perfect.
Plus, Ransom's smart. Holster's sure he'll be able to put it together.
Holster has to go and look it up just to be sure he heard Bitty right, but the first on the list is just what the little guy said: gifts.
Which is perfect, because Passover. Holster's already mailed his family their presents. It's not as big a deal as Christmas is for Christians but it's nice to celebrate the festival together and show your loved ones that they're appreciated. So like, it's totally not weird to give Random a little gift, but it might stand out enough for him to realise what Holster's trying to say.
Holster spends maybe a bit too long online. He eventually rolls his eyes at himself where he's lying on his bunk, laptop on his chest, neck certainly developing a crick, and goes to order what his original idea had been.
Ransom’s smile when he opens it is nothing short of blinding.
Of course Shitty can’t let the moment be private for long because he leans over Ransom’s shoulder and bursts into laughter.
“A Toronto Maple Leafs egg timer? Damn, brah. You’ve outdone yourself.”
And Holster can hardly explain to Shitty that it’s because Ransom always lets time escape him when he’s buried in work and he wants there to be something stupid for him to smile at when everything else is stressing him out. That’s a bit—well, he’s well aware of how ridiculous he is about Ransom. Even as it is, the look Shitty gives him before heading back into the kitchen is definitely on the wrong side of the line between confused and suspicious.
The problem is, even if Shitty has got it figured out (and Holster has no clue how, honestly), Ransom himself seems oblivious to the reason behind his gift. He might be slightly surprised, because it’s not really a thing they do, but he certainly hasn’t clocked that Holster means anything by it.
Holster tries to keeps an eye on him throughout the Seder but it morphs from waiting for Ransom to realise that I'm in love with him to appreciating how g-ddamn perfect Rans is. Holster's barely gotten over Ransom virtually memorising a book he read about 'how to accommodate your Jewish friend' two summers ago after accidentally forcing Holster to break Shabbat or Kosher one too many times in freshman year. It was overwhelming to come back to college to his best friend knowing almost as much as he did about Jewish dietary law and although Ransom had held himself back from learning all 613 mitzvot it was obvious that he'd done some serious self-education.
And Holster is pretty sure this is the same thing. Like Ransom's gone away even through the panic of finals and learnt everything he needed to help Holster (and Jack, he supposes) with the Seder meal. Which is—well, it makes Holster realise how much he actually does love this guy. He's not overriding their judgement and he's obviously steering well clear of the Hebrew involved but it's impossible to quantify the quiet support he's offering and the light reminders he keeps sending the rest of the team.
It's enough to let Holster relax and enjoy the familiar-but-different celebrations. Enjoy the wonky circles of Bitty's homemade matzah. The thrift store menorah Shitty bought before realising that he'd got the festivals mixed up. (Jack had let him apologise for maybe too long before just grinning and putting the thing on the table with an offhand comment that it was 'still a candle, right?')
The way this wonderful team is paying attention to his somewhat muddled instructions and eagerly getting involved even though most of them have never so much as heard the Passover story.
Jack's family is way less observant than Holster's so he's not exactly helping as much as occasionally going, oh yeah, we always skip that bit or I didn't know that was what that was for. His presence is crucial for the whole thing to work, though, because Holster's framing it as him and Jack holding Seder with everyone else being non-Jewish guests. That's always been a bit of a point of contention, whether you can invite non-Jews, but in his family they've always invited spouses and anyway, it would be pretty sad if it was just the two of them.
Holster's favourite thing about the Seder at home is the long winded discussion and explanation and of course he's a natural storyteller so he doesn't let the fact that his team are not at all Jewish detract him from his performance. Technically you’re not meant to teach the Torah to non-Jews but according to quite a few rabbis, actually, it’s not your fault if you’re teaching it to another Jew and the non-Jews just happen to hear it. Since the Seder incorporates quite a lot of scripture, it’s great that Jack’s here so the rest of the team can be subjected to the full Adam Birkholtz Passover Story Experience by proxy.
By the conclusion of the Seder most of the team are looking bored as hell, though. Holster tries not to be offended. He remembers what it was like as a child, when none of it made sense and he didn't understand the symbolism of it all. The team have already done enough just by organising this so he can't hold that against them.
They've got a game tomorrow so Jack makes them all go to bed early, pretty much as soon as the meal is over. Holster stays up a bit later, helping Bitty clean up under some sort of obligation he can’t explain, but Ransom’s still awake when he gets to the attic, watching Netflix in bed. Holster spots the Leafs egg timer pride of place on his desk and grins stupidly to himself as he gets changed.
Since one gift didn’t get the right message across, Holster decides to keep going and maybe make it a bit more obvious.
The problem is, there’s not really much room for improvement. He already brings Ransom coffee and snacks while he’s studying, he already, at huge expense, orders proper imported maple syrup to take with them to Annie’s, he already buys random things he sees in Target that he thinks Ransom needs or would put a smile on his face.
Holster buys him Hanukkah presents and Christmas presents and birthday presents and even, as part of a running joke, Fourth of July presents. And Ransom does the same—it’s just part of their relationship.
So, like, there’s no feasible way Holster could increase his gift-giving without literally bankrupting himself.
That’s that, then. Holster boots up his laptop and opens up the tab that he’d used to look up the love languages. ‘Gifts’ is evidently not the one he’s looking for.