Slow Dancing in the Darkness

12: What’s That Got To Do With You?

“Keep close to me, Noah” Gabriela noted as she wandered through the turnstiles, Noah’s small hand clutched in hers. She didn’t want to be there, the idea of being in the same place as 90,000 other people unsettled her greatly, but she knew that she had to make the effort for Lionel whose face had lit up at the prospect of his girlfriend appearing at his match. It wasn’t an important one, the Joan Gamper trophy was a glorified friendly and Barcelona’s traditional curtain raiser, but it still meant a lot to him that she was there and she hadn’t had the heart to turn him down, especially when he had convinced Noah into going. She had never been one for football, her parents had never let her watch it much as a child and Elliot had spent years trying to teach her to be ‘ladylike’, and Gabriela was a little concerned about looking out of place. Pushing a hand back through her dark hair, she squeezed Noah’s hand before she made her way towards the tunnel that had the number her ticket directed written upon it.

“We’ll we see Lionel after the game, mama?” Noah posed, following alongside her.

“I don’t know, sweetie” she mused.

Noah nodded his head and skipped alongside her, trying to keep up with her steps. He could see that his mother was tense, she had been since Lionel had left her earlier that day, but he knew better than to ask. Gabriela didn’t like being around people, she didn’t like having eyes on her, and Noah knew he had to be on his best behavior. Lionel had asked him to take care of his mother and behaving was the best way for him to do it. “Can we get some food, mama?” the little boy squeaked, stepping past the venders which were located just away from the pitch. Gabriela stopped and nodded, offering the little boy a small smile.

“Why don’t we get a couple of snacks and then we can go and find our seats eh? The game kicks off in a little while and I am sure you’d want to see the kick off” she smiled, brushing her hand back through his hair. Noah grinned up at her before he led her towards the queue, twittering on about the snacks he wanted to buy. Gabriela followed him before she caught her foot on someone else’s, causing her to trip, hitting the floor with a small thud.

“Are you…Ela” Elliot’s voice hit her like a ton of bricks.

“Papi” Noah grinned, toddling up to his father.

Elliot tilted his head slightly before he crouched down, lifting his son up. “What has you at a football game eh, buddy?” he posed, smoothing his son’s hair out as he stared down at Gabriela, his eyes narrowed slightly. It was out of character, a trip to a stadium which was full of people was something that Gabriela would never have done of her own accord, and the idea had Elliot’s defenses up. There were only two reasons she would change her mind and the most likely explanation was that she was on a date, an idea that made Elliot’s blood boil.

Gabriela shuffled back to her feet and stared at Elliot, still a little in awe of seeing him.

“Lionel invited us” Noah grinned.

“Lionel” Elliot repeated, trying not to sound angry “And who is Lionel?” he quipped, offering the little boy a smile.

Noah opened his mouth to speak again, but Gabriela jumped in, knowing that her son would reveal too much. “That has nothing to do with you, Eli” she murmured.

“I was merely asking a question, Ela” Elliot replied, flicking his stare back towards her “It’s quite strange to see you here” he added.

“What I do with my time should not be of concern to you” Gabriela mumbled as before she stepped towards her former husband, carefully taking their son back “Besides, this isn’t exactly your usual setting either” she added, setting Noah on his feet at her side, her hand taking his.

“I’m here for work. One of the companies that we are looking to be hired by insisted that we take in the game with them. It’s a big deal” he explained.

Gabriela shook her head. “It’s always a big deal” she murmured gently before she peeked up at him. “Are you still coming to see him this weekend?” she asked, peeking down at Noah who smiled back at her. Elliot noted the expression on her face and smiled, he had missed the way that she marveled at their son as though he was the most fascinating thing on earth.

“I should be OK to see him, yes” Elliot confirmed softly “You’d love to come and spend some time with me, wouldn’t you Noah?” he smiled, crouching down to the toddler’s height.

Noah smiled. “I missed you, papi” he grinned.

Elliot returned the smile and wrapped the toddler in a hug before his name was called, something which caused him to stiffen. Gabriela, who had been watching Noah, lifted her head, her eyes landing on Elena who skittered towards them, her shrill voice calling out to Elliot. “You’re here for work” Gabriela spat sarcastically.

Elliot pulled himself away from Noah and straightened up, his eyes levelling with Gabriela’s. “She works with me, Ela, you know that. And you know that we’re still…”

Gabriela shook her head. “You still sleeping together, I know” she muttered.

“You sleep with Lionel” Noah contributed.

Elliot’s expression hardened. “You’re sleeping with someone?” he muttered.

Gabriela shook her head. “That has nothing to do with you” she mumbled “And even if I was, why the heck would I tell you about it? You’d only throw a fit and pull me away from it, it’s what you’re good at” she sneered.

“I want to know who is around my son, Ela” Elliot returned through gritted teeth.

Gabriela took in a breath and shook her head, calming herself down. “You shouldn’t be checking on who I have around our son, Elliot” she murmured, scooting Noah behind her as he began whimper, not liking his parents fighting “You should focus on the fact that you never are unless it suits you. I would never put him in harm’s way, Eli, he means the world to me, and I wonder sometimes if the same thing can be said for you. He’s not something you can pick up and drop when it suits you. I am not going to answer questions about what I do in my private life to you, not after what you did to me, but rest assured, no one takes more of a priority than he does” she noted calmly before she turned to Noah, crouching down ahead of him.

Elliot watched them for a second before Elena reached his side, informing him that it was time to make their way towards their seats. Sparing one last look down at his former wife, he shook his head before he padded away.

“I am sorry, sweetheart” Gabriela whispered as she wiped Noah’s face, getting rid of the tears on his skin “I shouldn’t have yelled and I am sorry. Do you still want to get some snacks?” she posed.

Noah sniffled, but nodded his head, his little arms wrapping tightly around his mother’s neck. “It’s OK” he whispered softly.