He stops restocking and looks at me for a moment, a fleeting image of sadness, then moves to beside me, filling up the brown and black bottles now. He kneels for a minute, totally focused on the image ahead. I put the bottle down and reach up, gently placing one hand on his cheek. He relaxes his neck, leaning into my hand slightly, eyes closed. I use my palm to gently turn his head towards me, and look him in the eye. "Can you see me? not my physical shell, but me? Because if you can you'd realise that I am nowhere else but here, right now, wondering just how much of this feeling inside of me is going to spill out. "It's remorse, and sadness, in the most part, but there is a pinprick of hope, that's wanting to take over the sadness, if only to help me believe that I can kneel here before you and know, at least in part, that you could forgive me. "
He raises his head to look at me, the same sad expression as before, the one he uses to acknowledge my presence here, where he knows he must converse with me.
"I don't get mad, I don't yell or swear, not at you. I hurt, though. I got cut, and this one's taking longer to heal. So for now, in part, I forgive you, but I do not stop this hurt because of that."
It's my turn to look down now, because with every word, guilt became stronger and stronger, until I reach for his hand, hanging by his side, smile weakly and say, with more conviction than I've ever felt, "I love you," and move closer to him, nervous that I'm pushing the boundaries. I say to myself 'stuff whats okay' and wrap one arm around him, pulling him into a hug. He stiffens momentarily, then relaxes, letting go of my hand and pulling me closer, hugging me back. His skin is warm as it brushes against my lips as I nuzzle into the curve of his neck, lightly running my fingers through the hair at the base of his scalp. He turns his head so that his lips graze my ear, and I hear, ever so faintly, "I love you too."