he could smell it on her hair this time. he twirled a piece around his finger and tried to cypher it out. there was the overlaying scent from the blue shampoo and conditioner bottle that had at some point in the last month taken up residence on his shower floor. he knew because he sometimes sniffed the bottles when she was away, but don’t ever tell her how much he missed her. he inhaled deeper, past the scent of blue; and there it was. she looked at him quizzically.
his hand dropped from her curled brown hair to her right shoulder. he slid his hand down her arm to her wrist. he paused there, for half a brief second. she was so slender. her wrist bone made a pleasing bump under his palm. he continued down to her right hand and captivated it in her own. he did the same with her left, and held them tight as he shifted a small step backward so she wasn’t leaning into his chest, but rather looking up at him.
he smiled at her, a tired one. but he kept the disappointment at the edges instead of allowing it to flow full into his visage. she looked up at him now; her black glasses framed her green eyes, and she had a bit of makeup on but he had no idea what it was called. she scrunched her nose at him, wordlessly rebuking him for moving when she had been so comfortable. he breathed out an almost sigh, and her brow furrowed. he rested his head on her shoulder, and he saw her curls shift as she turned her head to look at him.
they waited like that. he breathed his almost sigh again, and spoke softly, with regard for her delicate ear covered in mousy brown curl.
“are you smoking again?”
the shift in her body language was subtle; he didn’t know how many other people would have caught it. he lifted his head now, and nosed her hair away from her ear to kiss it lightly on his way to standing up straight. he tightened his grip on her hands, as she weakly reciprocated. the lines around her eyes read worry.
“what couldn’t you get away from this time?”
his tone was pleading, soft, gentle. she looked away.
“why… why do you run to them, instead of me?”
his voice almost broke, but he kept his tone gentle. she was staring determinedly at the wall now. his hands tightened again, and he saw a twinge of a wince across her face.
this was as far as he’d come previously. he was a man. but his concern overruled his pride this time. he loosened his hold on her wrists, and brushed her curls behind her ear so he could see her face. she turned back to him at his touch, her eyes clouded.
“why don’t you talk to me?”
i want to save you.
silence, but she didn’t turn away this time. there was one chair in the room, and he led them to it, pulling her onto his lap. they sat for a while in the closeness, and the comfort of his arms around her. she rested her head on his shoulder, and for a while, he thought she fell asleep, until she spoke.
“you wouldn’t understand.”
still loosely, but more firm, he held her; this was as far as she’d opened up before. she didn’t move, cradled, her head comfortably in the dip created when his neck seamlessly led to his shoulders; she didn’t see the pained look that flashed through his eyes, and he controlled the twinge of the past that threatened to shoot through the rest of his body. he held her close, and turned to bury his face in her beautiful mess of curl. the half shampoo and clove sent of her almost made him cry, but he didn’t. he was a man. but the emotion transferred to his voice.
and she breathed, and relaxed into him like she belonged.
and she talked.