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where the heart is

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It’d be nice to say that Xabi fucked up, that leaving Liverpool was the worst decision he ever made. That would be nice, but it would be lying.

Steven knows this, knows that kidding himself won’t get him anywhere. And still he does, kid himself that is. But mostly, kid everyone else. It’s pretty easy actually.

If he really thinks about it, it’s kind of sad how no one sees through his façade. Or maybe they see through it and choose to simply ignore it. That’s even sadder. Steven sighs and walks on.

Finding a replacement for Xabi isn’t hard. Rafa lets Lucas into the squad and things just go from there. Finding replacements for Xabi isn’t hard. Steven lets everyone who wants in, in, and things don’t go anywhere.

Steven’s happy, he truly is. He’s not Istanbul happy, not Xabi happy, but Stevie happy. And that’s fine, really.

The club’s not doing well and he can feel the fans and the journos thinking of Xabi. He almost wants to challenge them, to make them say how much they miss Xabi, how much they blame him for the state of the club out loud. He wants to but doesn’t because in the end, he needn’t to. The fans and the journos make sure everyone knows.

He’d blame Xabi if he could, but alas… Also, it’s unfair isn’t it? Xabi isn’t Liverpool, Xabi doesn’t make the club. If anyone should be Liverpool that’d be Shanks, he thinks. Steven and Xabi are in a different league, hell, they aren’t even half the squad. They aren’t even anything now.

Steven thinks blaming Xabi is dangerous. Is he a mere cardboard figure? What about his armband? And what about the rest of the lads? You aren’t our downfall, Alonso, he muses. He wants to think you aren’t my downfall but he just can’t.

Xabi comes back home (yes, home, Liverpool’s home and there’s no way round it and Spain must be his hogar or whatever, but Spain’s most definitely not Xabi’s home) to the rain, to the red, to Steven some times a year. It’s often enough.

His visits are always the same. An awkward hello followed by coffee and Xabi’s stories about Spain. By the time he’s done the Scouse starts showing through his words, never enough to make him stop adding an h after every s, but it’s something. Then comes the comfortable silence and the light touches, like he’s never been gone. Like he won’t ever be.

Later comes the sex and the making sure there’ll be marks to show –to hide-. After that, shame and pride mixed in their gazes, watching the sun set on the docks, the occasional fuck it all let’s run away are you mad you know you’ve thought about i tyes but don’t be insane we can do this no we can’t but we want to yes but that’s not enough.

Next is the forcing himself to go away, to go back to the family, to the club, to his team, home.

Everyone’s got priorities, after all. And as much as Xabi loves him, there’s something he loves more.

If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.