You Loved Me Once

33: A Long Way Off

“You really want to do this?”

Lionel, who was sat at the foot of Alba’s bed, lifted his head, offering her a small smile. It had been a couple of weeks, after telling her parents, they’d both agreed that it was best to take a little time before they let anyone else in on their relationship, but with Barcelona due to play Villarreal at the Camp Nou that afternoon, Lionel had asked her to go with him, something he knew made her nervous.

She had never been the biggest fan, even when they were younger, Alba tended to shy away from matches that weren’t overly significant, but he wanted her there, something he knew she wanted to change. He knew that she wasn’t comfortable, even with the stumbling block of her parents finding out gone, she still remained uncertain, but he wanted to show her off, something she hadn’t allowed him to do in the 3 months that they had been back together. He wanted people to see the beautiful woman he was lucky enough to call his girlfriend.

“I do” he confirmed “And you said that you would be OK with it too” he added, offering her a small smile.

“That was before you actually got us in” Alba squeaked, fussing with the bottom of the dress she wore “You got us sat in the director’s box” she added, her voice twitching nervously.

“It’s just a seat” Lionel countered, his hand reaching for hers and tugging her back towards him “And they’re not going to bother us. Alba, this is just a match, and it is something I want to do with you. You showed me where you work and I want to reintroduce you to where I work” he insisted softly. He knew she didn’t want to do it, it was written all over her face, but he wanted to show off what he did. It was an important part of his life and one he wanted to involve his girlfriend in.

“It really means that much to you?” Alba mumbled as she looked down at him, a small pout on her face.

“It does” Lionel mused “Do you think you could put up with it for me?” he posed with a hopeful smile.

Alba sighed. “Alright” she conceded “But this isn’t going to become a regular thing” she added.

Lionel smiled. “I know that, Alba” he mused “You never wanted to come before either” he pointed out.

Alba offered him a slight smile before she bent down, pecking his lips lightly. It felt good, after the first night that he had spent sleeping beside her, things felt a little more relaxed, and it reassured Alba, even if she still couldn’t quite muster the 3 words that he had grown fond of saying to her, she felt better about their relationship.

“You should really put on a jacket or something” Lionel mumbled as he pushed himself back to his feet “The stands are quite cold” he added softly.

Alba smiled. “Look at you, being all concerned for my well-being” she teased as she moved to collect her jacket from the side.

Lionel grinned and kissed her shoulder gently. “I’d like to keep you around” he teased gently.

Alba smiled at the small affectionate action before the sound of his phone caught their ears, pulling them out of the bubble that was around them. “We ought to go” he mumbled, moving to take her hand.

Alba nodded and squeezed his hand shyly, causing him to lean over, kissing the side of her head gently as he tried to reassure her that that night would be fine.

“You can look a little less lost, you know” Lionel teased as he nudged Alba’s shoulder, smiling a little at the concentrated expression she wore. It had been fine, after a brief introduction to some of the club’s directors, he and Alba had largely been left alone, and he was pleased, even if Alba had been quiet, she looked as though she had relaxed slightly.

“I am merely watching the game” Alba muttered “Your friends seem to be getting by without you” she added.

“They’re very good” Lionel agreed “Luis and Neymar have been amazing since I got injured and I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ve missed it” he mused.

“I can tell” Alba noted “You’re back in training next week?” she posed.

“Monday” he confirmed “And we have El Clasico in Madrid next Saturday. I might not be able to start, but I think I will be involved” he enthused.

“I’ll put it on TV” Alba mused.

Lionel smiled a little and looped his arm around her shoulder, pulling her a little closer to him. “I’m going to miss staying with you, you know” he fussed as he watched the game ahead of them. He had known that it was coming, with his injury healed, his return to his own home was inevitable, but he was sure that he would miss staying with Alba, even if it had been a little awkward, he had grown used to spending most of his time with her and sleeping in her bed at her side.

Alba nodded. “It will be odd to have my apartment to myself again” she agreed “But I hope you’re not thinking that we should…”

“No” Lionel interjected with a shake of his head “I know that that is a way off for us” he added. It had crossed his mind, after the date of his return to training drew nearer, he had contemplated suggesting it, but he knew that it was too soon. Alba had only just allowed him to stay in the same room as her and he doubted that them living together full-time would come in the near future. Alba was still very much interested in taking things step by step and he didn’t want to pressure it, even if it did frustrate him slightly. He knew he had to let her do it in her own time.

“Good” Alba mused, messing with his hand.

“We could spend a few nights together though” he suggested, peeking at her shyly “At yours or at mine” he added.

Alba nodded gently. “That doesn’t sound like the worst idea” she agreed.

Lionel smiled at her softly before he leant over, sneaking a quick kiss before the stadium roared, pulling his attention back towards the pitch where Neymar sped away from goal, a sight that made him grin widely.

Alba, who’d moved to applaud the goal, smiled softly as she watched him, not missing the boyish grin on his face. He looked made up, even if he wasn’t on the pitch to celebrate with them, and it made Alba want to coo a little. She had missed how excited he got when he was watching his team.

“You’re going to come and meet the guys afterwards, aren’t you?” Lionel mused as he moved to retake his seat.

“You want me to?” Alba posed.

Lionel nodded. “I’ve wanted you too since we got back together, Alba. Please?” he posed gently.

Alba chewed on her lip briefly before she sighed, offering him a nod. “Alright” she agreed “But…”

“I’ll keep it short and sweet” Lionel interjected “I know that you’re not quite there yet” he added with a kind smile.

Alba nodded and smiled back at him, a little impressed by just how intuitive he was towards her.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)