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Seventy Percent Chance of Requited Love

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Leon Stamatis was not, it must be said, having a good day. He and his girlfriend- well, ex-girlfriend, to be accurate- had broken up the day before.

It was worth noting, however, that those two facts were not, for the most part, related.

Dating Louisa had been reasonably enjoyable at times, he supposed. She was a very pleasant woman, and he would have greatly enjoyed her presence in his life were she a coworker or a casual friend. But as a romantic partner, she had just been too much. Leon was not the type of person to change solely for the sake of love, and he would have had to do just that if he’d wanted to form any sort of lasting romantic relationship with Louisa.

No, their breakup was for the best. Any ill mood Leon felt was due solely to the uncertainty surrounding his job. There had been nothing unpredictable about the breakup, except the exact day it occurred. The breakup did bring with it its own share of complications, however.

Leon was aware, in some distant way, that he was supposed to be the one being comforted after breaking up with a romantic partner. Instead, he was usually the one acting in a way that would bring comfort to others.

Take Nica, for instance. Because he’d broken up with Louisa, he’d have to endure some sort of post-relationship outing with Nica. Normally, Leon would be delighted to spend time with Nica. He genuinely enjoyed being around her, and not solely out of familial obligation. Leon did not, however, enjoy attending outings planned by Nica that were intended to raise his spirits. His spirits were quite all right as they were, and Nica’s attempts to liven up his life tended to just be sources of anxiety.

Karaoke night a few months ago was a perfect example of that. Leon did not particularly mind being in front of a crowd, although he couldn’t say he enjoyed it, and Leon did not particularly mind singing. The combination, however, was frankly rather unbearable. He’d rather leave the stage to Nica. She was the one who wanted to be famous; all Leon wanted was to live a pleasant, entirely predictable life.

Were Louisa not his ex-girlfriend, he would have considered trying to set her up with Nica. Their personalities were much more compatible. Not the same, no; Leon would have broken up with Louisa much earlier had she reminded him overly of his sister. The qualities that were endearing in a younger sister would have been completely unbearable in a significant other.

No, Leon needed someone more grounded than Louisa. He did not expect to find someone as predictable as himself, nor did he feel it was necessary. As long as his partner was willing to allow Leon to keep his schedule, he wasn’t overly concerned with what his partner did with the time they spent independently of him. If they were the type to follow whims and change plans at the drop of a hat, that was fine by him as long as they didn’t expect him to do the same.

Like Michael. Michael was nowhere near as organized as Leon, nor did he show any desire to adopt Leon’s organizational methods. He was happy to walk blindly through life, never knowing what the future would hold for him. And sure, that wasn’t precisely working out for him. He’d been out of work for months. But that was okay, because Leon was there for Michael. Leon fully intended to find himself a new job, then ensure that Michael was hired as his replacement.

Leon didn’t mind that he had to arrange this for Michael. He rather enjoyed taking care of people. And one of Michael’s most attractive qualities, Leon found, was that he was willing to accept help. Sure, Leon still took care to make sure his suggestions for how Michael could improve his life were gentle and carefully phrased, but he did that more out of habit than anything. Michael saw Leon as a competent, trustworthy friend whose advice was to be followed, more or less without complaint. Leon couldn’t deny that it was refreshing to have that kind of impact on a person.

Leon also couldn’t deny that he was glad Michael was that person. That alone was a perfectly reasonable sentiment. Michael was warm, accepting of Leon’s quirks, and fun to be around. Anyone would be happy to have a friend like Michael. It was Leon’s less platonic feelings towards Michael that were the problem.

Leon hadn’t meant to go out and fall in love with his best friend. Leon had always been the type of person to scorn works of fiction in which characters chose to throw away a deep platonic friendship in favor of a much more unpredictable romantic relationship. And Leon still had little desire to date Michael. If he dated Michael, there was a chance that they could break up. And Leon had no desire to change their relationship to one so unstable as a new romantic relationship.

Leon just had to remind himself of that, sometimes. He enjoyed his friendship with Michael as it was, and adding romance into the equation was far too precarious an alteration to be advisable. He didn’t even know if Michael would reciprocate his feelings at all, for that matter. Sure, their physical boundaries had been slowly breaking down over the past few months of living together. Sure, living with Michael felt like the most natural thing in the world, more natural than any romantic relationship Leon had ever been in. Sure, Leon was pretty sure that Michael spent more time than was average staring at Leon’s lips in what could possibly be described as a wistful manner. The signs all pointed to Michael reciprocating Leon’s interest, but Leon was not known for his skill in assigning emotion to body language. He was perhaps seventy percent sure Michael was interested in him. Even if Leon were considering changing his relationship with Michael to a romantic one, he wouldn’t have been willing to take such a big risk on a seventy percent chance.

No, Leon was happy with his current platonic relationship with Michael. Michael was his best friend, and nothing was worth risking that.

Leon checked the time on his phone. 5:21 pm. Right on time. He was a minute away from the apartment he shared with Michael. He hadn’t scheduled his post-breakup debate over pursuing a romantic relationship with Michael, but he’d mentally planned it for his walk from the train station to his apartment nevertheless. Now that he had rid himself of the uncertainty he felt over Michael, they could enjoy dinner and discussion of Leon’s breakup without any possible conflicts. Leon felt ready to promise Michael he would “get back out there” without accidentally betraying any thoughts as to who he might enjoy getting back out there with. After that, he would call Nica to talk about the breakup, and confidently assure Nica he was entirely happy with his romantic situation as it currently was.

His schedule was still on track.