"Time to go," you say. I hear the alarms and know you're right. I'm beside you in an instant. You give a little jump. I pick you up in motions we know all too well.

One hand under the knees, one across the back. I pull you close to me, feel your skin on mine.

It's something you don't quite understand, something I always know but can never quite say. When I hold you like that, my thoughts aren't about Robotropolis and sabotage and this endless nightmare we all live.

Really, it feels no different to me. 'It'—what do I mean? I mean, holding you like that is special—holding you at all is special.

Just holding you feels the same, no matter what the circumstance. And there's really nothing like it.

When I hold you to get us away from the terror—when I hold you to comfort you and ward off your own fears and insecurities—when I awkwardly hold your hand to let you know I'm there—they're all the same.

What I'm trying to say is, when I feel you close, more than any other time, I know that I belong in this world.

I hold you tightly as I begin to run, and I feel the difference between us fade. Your vest no longer exists between us; my gloves disappear into nothingness. There's only the immediacy of contact and the urgency of the task at hand.

You might say—afterwards, once we can feel shame again—that it's an awkward time for intimacy. I disagree, and I know you'll never say such a thing when we embrace.

Your arms circle my neck and brace your body to mine. I feel it now—the melting of the barrier between us. The stronger you cling to me, the more tightly I grasp you, the closer we press together—we become a single creature, reacting as one, bent to a single purpose, thinking the same thoughts at the same times. You are an extension of me—no, that's not right. I may be the one running, but your presence permeates me, is one with me; your absence is unimaginable.

Talk about an incentive to avoid harm. Any harm to me would hurt you, and that is intolerable; any harm to you would hurt me, and that is unbearable.

I guess this is what they mean when they talk about someone being as close to you as your own flesh. But you know, that's a lie. I value yours way higher than my own.

Things are so much different—there are times when these things matter, and times when my thinking gets in the way. When we argue, or when others are around, or when we have TIME… these things get needlessly complicated.

But when I hold you—whether it's a time like this, with our lives on the line, or just in Knothole on a normal day—that's when I know.

What I'm trying to say is that I love you.