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He leaves today.

What are we, that I should care? Workmates? Friends? Good friends? That kind of friends?

It isn't love or even passion. Like, understanding and a great echoing chasm of mutual need. Someone to listen. Someone to hold. Someone to be the you in rock-ballad cliches. Occasional bright threads of understanding and honest insight that weave through the day-to-day fog.

Perhaps our excuses about timing and issues are true. Perhaps my independence scares him senseless. Perhaps nice boys should not initiate drunken flings, because they don't know how to deal with them in the morning, or indeed weeks later.

I flirt with him at work. I touch him more than I should at social gatherings. Unconciously at first, then more deliberately as he becomes uncomfortable. His paranoia frustrates me, angers me..... why should we care what they assume?

For some reason he puts up with it. For car chats when I drop him home, for the quiet hugs and sudden sharp moments of clarity, he puts up with my cheap shots and moodiness, my sudden attacks of oversensitivity. Not that he hasn't done his share, with his paranoia, his need for control and his traditional-boy concepts of women. We are both squalling, kicking bundles of issues.

Somehow, we've stumbled along to this point. Somehow those warm and quiet moments have meant more than the daily sniping and misunderstandings.

He left today.

I listened this afternoon as his voice worked it's way up the corridoor to my office; as he said goodbye (perhaps for good) to the people he's worked and played with for the past two years. Most of them don't know that he doesn't plan on coming back to this job. This is one of the secrets he shared as we lay wound together....

He sat opposite me, our knees nearly touching. We talked about his longing for this dream job, his fear that he'd miss out, his disbelief that this long-awaited trip of a lifetime was finally here, his plans, his hopes, his love of this city and his certainty that he would return- someday.

And then it was time to go

We stood, hugged, familiar arms. Burrowing my face into his chest, breathing his scent, safe and protected there one last time.

"Take care of yourself"

Looking up, into a smile

And then he kissed me.

Standing at the open door, paranoia flown to the four winds, he kissed me goodbye.

And that is all that matters.

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