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In the Absence of Words

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There was something to be said for relationships of convenience. By now, Nakaya knew he really didn't love his girlfriend. He liked her, and she liked him, but they definitely weren't in love with each other anymore.

He was starting to wonder if they ever were.

He'd figured it out a while ago, back when Fuse was in the same country as him and his entire existence had become one giant question. Even then, he knew it was bound to end. It just wasn't right for him to be with her and with Fuse. He'd known, but he hadn't wanted to let go of either of them.

In the end, it wasn't his choice.

After Fuse left, he thought things would go back to normal. He'd expected life to get simple again. Guy plus girl instead of guy plus girl plus guy. But it didn't get any simpler. The opposite, actually, because it hurt without Fuse and even when he was with his girlfriend it still hurt and he couldn't pretend he didn't miss Fuse.

She figured it out. Admittedly, it wasn't that hard, and it was obvious at that point, that they weren't really in love with each other anymore. He should have just told her, because talking about it might have made him fell better and she was the kind of girl that would have understood. She would have sympathized.

But he didn't talk about it, because that would have been awkward and he really didn't want her asking whether he slept with her before or after he slept with Fuse and how he'd scheduled them both in. She didn't say anything either, and Nakaya imagined she was feeling just as awkward about it as he did.

He felt guilty for staying with her even after he'd cheated on her. She didn't leave either and in a way that made it almost seem like he'd done the right thing. Their relationship was convenient, because they had sex, sometimes though not recently, and they hung out, even if it felt more like they were friends than lovers, but it kept other people from hitting on them and it let them be in their own little bubble in a strange sort of way.

Or at least, their relationship had been convenient.

"I'm sorry, she said again, tears running down her cheeks though Nakaya had yet to figure out why she was crying. In this aspect, he really didn't understand women. If either of them was crying, it should be him but he felt strangely calm.

Was this what Zen felt like?

Nakaya smiled, a bit bittersweet but it was still a full, genuine smile. He was happy for her. Motoko sounded nice, and she loved him, but there would always be a part of him that didn't want to let her go.

"It's okay," he told her, and meant it. "We're good. Don't worry about it."

The corners of her lips turned up, just barely, and she still was crying. "Are you sure? You're not mad? Please don't be mad with me. I know you and..." She stopped, a stricken look on her face.

"Fuse," Nakaya filled in. "His name is Fuse."

She stared down at her hands, folded in her lap.

Nakaya sighed and leaned over to rest his head on her shoulder. "I miss him." He wasn't quite sure why he said that, but he knew it needed to be said.

Slowly, she reached over, taking his hand in hers. "Is... is he coming back?"

He shook his head. He hadn't heard anything from Fuse since he'd left. Well, there had been one postcard, but all it had was Fuse's return address and a picture of the city he was in. There was a lot of snow. Nakaya imagined the hockey was good.

"What about going to him?"

It took several minutes for that thought to percolate through his brain. Nakaya blinked, half of him wondering if it was even possible while the other half wondered why he hadn't thought of it before.

Was it really that simple?

"I mean," she continued, "your father would totally let you, right? He knows about you two and he seems nice enough that he'd support that. Or at the very least, that voice actor he's living with might talk him into it. He seems like a reasonable old man, and then he'd have your father all to himself."

"Hey!" Nakaya sat up quickly... and just in time as his girlfriend – former girlfriend – broke out into peels of laughter.

"Not funny!" He griped, but he was smiling. Somehow talking about the guy he liked to the girl he liked had broke the tension of them breaking up.

His life was full of weird relationships.

"But seriously," she bounced on the bed, "why don't you just go to Canada and see him? They have all kinds of study abroad programs and you've been getting better at English."

"I could." He didn't think it was as simple as saying he wanted to go. There had to be all sorts of forms and regulations. He'd have to find a school that would take him. Maybe he could get a hockey scholarship, and then Fuse could be his coach again. He wasn't that bad, so there had to be a team that would take him. His grades weren't great, but they weren't completely horrid. If he mentioned it to his dad, he had a feeling he'd be all for the idea – once he got over the idea of his child in a foreign country.

She sqeezed his hand as she stood up, stepping away to stand as far as possible from him with their fingers still linked. "So you really don't mind that we're breaking up? You're alright with it?"

"Yeah," he said again, "I really am fine with it. I'm happy for you."

"Still friends, right?" The way she smiled at him, he couldn't say no. His heart had long since gone over to Fuse, but there was a part of him that would always be in love with her.

"Good," she said and let their fingers drop. "I hope you get to meet your Fuse again soon."