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Gareth was really gone. Gone to Liverpool of all places. Where he could play without constantly fighting with minutes (not that he had ever been the one who had to do the fighting; no matter what Alex did right, Gareth had always been the one out on the pitch. Alex had been the one in Newcastle), without having to worry about possibly not being the best.

The season was over, so he didn’t know why he let himself continue to think about it. Manchester United had won the Prem, Manchester United had won the FA Cup. Not Liverpool. So why was it even a big deal?

As Alex scrolled through old pictures, he knew exactly why. His finger lingered over ‘Delete Photo’ on one in particular. Back from the academy, after they’d won a scrimmage. Gareth was holding the phone, his other arm wrapped around Alex, looking happier than looked natural on Gareth Walker. Happier than he’d seen him in a long while, for sure.

He set his phone down and tried to stop thinking about how genuine that had seemed. They were best friends. No matter what happened, he had always known that at least Gareth would be there for him. Now that he wasn’t, Alex felt a little bit lost.

Only a little bit, though.

“Alright Hunter, time to get this party started!”

The familiar voice brought an easy smile to his lips. He gestured to the two remotes on the couch next to him, pocketing his phone in favour of grabbing one of them for himself.

“Hope you’ve been polishing your skills then, mate.”

In all honesty, Alex hadn’t even heard Danny come in. He definitely didn’t mind, though; as Danny settled in against his side, he reminded himself that he was more than welcome anytime.

“Oh, trust me, you can consider my skills plenty polished,” Danny promised, grinning that same grin that just screamed… well, Danny. “If you win, you can have a limited edition Danny Williams kiss. How’s that?”

Alex rolled his eyes. But when he won 4-2 ten minutes later, he was more than happy to take him up on that offer. By the time they were done playing, Danny had kissed him more than once. And maybe a few more times than he owed.

At that point, any empty space that Alex had felt in himself was completely smothered by Danny. Nothing new there, really. When Danny wrapped his arms around his waist and insisted that next time, he would be the one with the winning record, he let himself forget all about Liverpool.

(He deleted that picture, later, too. It didn’t matter how happy he and Gareth would be, because he was sure by the time Danny was done with him, the two of them would have a million memories that were better anyway.)