You Loved Me Once

39: That’s A Yes?

“You’re sure that you want to do this, aren’t you?” Lionel posed as he peeked up at Alba, watching as she fixed the last of her blonde hair. It had been a while, almost 2 weeks had passed since her mother and father had appeared, and whilst Lionel was pleased that she seemed unaffected, he did still worry. It was already the middle of December and it wouldn’t be long before he flew home for the holidays, something he knew would stick in Alba’s throat. It was a tradition for her, ever since she had moved to Barcelona originally to be with him, she had always made a point of going home to spend the holiday with her parents and sister, and he knew that it would bother her, if it didn’t already, that she wouldn’t be welcomed that year.

“You’ve changed your mind?” Alba commented, clipping the last of her blonde hair into place.

“I haven’t” Lionel noted “But I wanted to make sure that you hadn’t. Meeting the other women…it has the potential to be overwhelming” he mused as he stretched his hand out, taking hers before he pulled her a little closer, his hands moving to his hips. He was a little impressed, after her parents’ visit, she had seemed more content to progress in their relationship, and whilst he was happy about it, he merely wanted to ensure that she was sure. He didn’t want her doing anything she wasn’t comfortable with.

“You’re going to leave me alone with them?” Alba posed.

“I don’t intend to” Lionel mused “But if it happens, it happens and I just want to be sure that you’re going to be OK with that. They can be a little…full on, especially since we’re celebrating” he mused, his fingertips drumming against her hips. It was the last night, after their successful trip to Japan, the team were itching to celebrate and with a lot of them due to jet off for the holidays, it was the last opportunity they’d get before they were due back in training on the 27th.

Alba smiled. “I love that you’re looking out for me” she mused as she sat down in his lap “But I think I can handle a few women and their questions. If I need you to step in, I will give you some sort of signal” she enthused with a smile.

“A signal?” Lionel posed.

“I am sure I will attract your attention somehow” Alba mused as she kissed the side of his nose.

Lionel wrinkled his nose slightly. “Are you sure that you want to do this?” he mused “Because if I called now, I am sure that they’d understand, even if Gerard does insist that Shakira is counting down to meeting you, I could probably get you excused” he babbled.

Alba smiled. She had always loved the way he babbled when he felt shy or nervous. “Leo” she mused, causing him to look up “I am going to be fine” she grinned.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you” Lionel commented as he helped her back to her feet.

Alba rolled her eyes. “We’re going to be late” she noted as she moved to collect her jacket “Are you going to stay here tonight?” she added as she slipped her arms through the sleeves.

“I had planned to” Lionel mused as he moved to collect his own jacket “Why do you ask?” he posed.

“I thought you had a flight tomorrow morning” Alba noted as she adjusted her scarf “You’re going home aren’t you?” she posed.

Lionel nodded. “I am” he noted “But that’s sort of why I want to sleep here. I don’t want you to miss the flight” he quipped.

Alba tilted her head. “Leo…”

“We’re going to be late” Lionel interjected with an impish grin.

Alba offered him a look before she took the hand he’d offered out to her, something which caused him to grin. He knew that it had been a while, Alba and his family hadn’t been in the same room for years, but as soon as he had floated the idea by his mother, she had jumped at the chance. She had been on at him to reintroduce Alba for months and he knew that the trip back to Argentina for the holidays provided the perfect chance.

“You must be Alba”

Alba, who’d been nursing her glass of wine, tilted her head a little, her blue eyes admiring the petite blonde woman who stood ahead of her, a grin fixed on her face. It had been a little while, after she and Lionel had arrived at the restaurant that the team had picked for their private function, she had been distracted by his friends, but with Lionel having disappeared, she found herself alone with the blonde woman who grinned at her. “That’s me” she confirmed.

“I’m Shakira” the other blonde woman smiled “I’m…”

“Gerard’s girlfriend” Alba mused “He talks about you a lot” she added.

“He talks a lot, full stop” Shakira mused as she moved to take the seat at Alba’s side “Leo, however, tends to be more reserved. He’s barely mentioned a thing about you” she added.

“There’s not a lot to tell” Alba quipped, sipping on her drink shyly.

“You could start with how you and Lionel met” Shakira smiled, trying to encourage the younger woman slightly.

“We share a birthday” Alba commented “His mother had just given birth to him when my madre was wheeled into the maternity ward, crying because my papa was stuck somewhere for business and she had no one else. Celia stepped in to calm her down and after that, she and my mama were firm friends and Leo and I, it happened from there” she reminisced with a small smile.

“Childhood sweethearts?” Shakira squeaked “That’s adorable” she fussed.

“It’s slightly more complicated than that” Alba mused “But in essence, that’s what we are” she agreed.

Shakira smiled. “You should come with me” she mused as she moved back to her feet “A lot of the other women are waiting to meet you. You don’t mind, do you?” she posed softly. Lionel had warned her, Alba tended to be a little shy, but she wanted to welcome Alba. All the signs were that she was going to be around for a while and she wanted her to feel welcomed and included.

“You’re still in one piece then” Lionel smiled as he sat down beside Alba, gratefully taking a sip from the bottle of water she offered out to him. He’d left her to it, once Shakira had found her, he’d not wanted to be in the way, and he was pleased by how well it seemed to have gone. She looked happy, relaxed, and he was happy that she appeared to have settled in so well.

“I am” Alba commented “No thanks to you, though. Where’ve you been?” she posed.

“I was with the guys” Lionel shrugged “I wanted to give you a little space. It wasn’t too bad, was it?” he posed.

Alba shook her head. “They’re very nice. Shakira and I get along really well and a few of the others are keen to invite me out for lunch or shopping or something, and I would say that that was successful. They’re all remarkably sweet” she enthused.

Lionel smiled. “I’m glad you enjoyed it” he mused.

Alba nodded her head. “You said something earlier” she commented “About me not missing a flight?” she posed.

“I was going to surprise you tomorrow morning, but when I called my mama a few weeks ago to tell her about us, she insisted that I bring you home for Christmas and seeing as you and your parents are…you know, I thought maybe you’d enjoy a Messi Christmas instead” he explained with a small smile.

Alba tilted her head. “Your parents are OK with that?” she posed.

Lionel snorted. “OK with it? Alba, they’d love it if you were there. They’re more than looking forwards to seeing you” he enthused.

Alba offered him a look before she shook her head, a grin pulling at the corner of her mouth.

“You’re smiling” Lionel enthused “That’s a yes, right?” he pressed.

“It sounds like a lovely idea, Leo, just as long as you’re sure that they don’t mind me being there” Alba mused.

Lionel grinned. “They’re looking forwards to it” he enthused.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)