It had always been that way. Whatever happened he would be there. He could see straight through the brave face that she wore. The others were shown the confident, unaffected side, he saw the truth. Even if she tried to keep it from him, he would still know. They had that connection. Neither had to speak, yet they both heard. To anyone who saw them, it was silence. But it carried feelings and comforts that words could not express.
She had needed it tonight. She was on the brink of a major change in her life. In sixteen hours time, things would never be the same again. It was a change she had opted to make, and one that she still felt was right, but she was nervous. She was allowed to be nervous, she told herself. Even the right decision could prompt anxiety, after all, there is no way of knowing if it is right, until you've done it.
He had opened the door to her, and looked straight into her eyes. Not a word was spoken, he stepped forward and took her into his arms. And that's where they stayed for an unmeasured length of time. He knew why she was there. She knew he understood.
After the hug had yielded all the comfort she had required, and a little extra just because she wanted it, she moved backwards.
"Well, I guess this is the last time I'll be turning up at your house in the middle of the night for a hug," she said, smiling, but sounding somewhat sad.
"I guess so," he replied, nodding slowly.
"Before I go, I want to thank you for ... everything. You've been a rock these last twelve years."
"Catherine, you don't have to thank me," he said, smiling.
"But I want to. It feels right. To thank you for your support during the last phase of my life, before I start the next one. Before everything changes." She smiled as she spoke, showing her appreciation and admiration for the man who stood in front of her, through the glint in her eyes, but also showing her slight apprehension about what was to come.
"Everything isn't going to change. I'll still be able to hug you, I'll still be there for you, I'll still be your best friend... I'll just expect you to cook for me and do my washing -"
They both laughed, and she hit him playfully.
"Well, I think you're going to be disappointed," she said, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him close to her again.
"By you?" he said gazing lovingly into her eyes, "Never."