You Loved Me Once

85: Just In Case

Slapping his hand against the shoulder of his opponent, Lionel placed his shirt in the other man’s hand, offering him a cordial smile. It had been a tough game, Real Sociedad always tended to be for Barcelona, but Lionel was pleased to come away with the win, especially with the winter break due to start after that match, he was pleased to maintain the momentum that the team had started to build up. It had been a tough start to the season, with an early defeat to Atletico Madrid and a couple of ill placed draws, they’d lagged a few points behind for a little while, but with a few wins towards the end of the year, they’d closed the gap, something which left him optimistic ahead of the new year.

Tossing the swapped shirt over his shoulder, he padded into the changing room and made his way towards locker, moving to get changed.

“Are you joining us this evening, Leo?” Neymar quipped as he bounced into his spot beside the argentine, slapping him on the back.

“I hadn’t planned on it” Lionel mused “Alba and I are on the first flight out in the morning and I want an early night. This will be Isabella’s first flight and I don’t want to be dealing with a screaming baby with a mild hangover” he enthused with a small smile.

“You’re taking Bella to Argentina?” the Brazilian quipped.

“We are” Lionel mused “Alba agreed with my madre that we would spend the holidays with them and I wasn’t going to tell either of them no. My madre loves having Alba around, she always has” he enthused, pulling his washbag out of the locker.

Neymar snorted. “Be careful, hombre, your madre liking your girlfriend is usually the precursor to wedding bells” he teased before he padded away, making his way towards the showers.

Lionel rolled his eyes a little before he kicked off his boots, moving to sit down ahead of his locker. He knew that Neymar was only teasing, for a while, people had been tossing around the idea of him proposing to Alba, and Lionel hadn’t found the nerve to tell them that it was still a way off. It was coming along, whenever the word ‘marriage’ or ‘wedding’, Alba didn’t shy away anymore, but he knew better than to get ahead of himself or get his hopes up. He knew what he wanted, since Isabella had come along, he’d only grown surer of the idea that he wanted to marry Alba, but he understood why she was hesitant, even if it did hurt him a little that she still doubted him, he knew that she was always going to have a slight element of doubt in the back of her mind.

“You’re still not going to ask?” Gerard posed as he stepped up behind the argentine, pulling his attention away from the socks he’d moved to roll down his legs.

“You know I am not” Lionel noted, peeking up at him “The last thing I want is to ruin it, Gerard, and I worry if I ask her now, I might” he mumbled softly.

“You don’t think she might say yes?” the defender quipped, trying to hint at the small admission Alba had made when they’d gone out to dinner. He knew that it wasn’t his place, when Alba was ready, chances were that she would tell Lionel that she was, but still he wanted to give the argentine a little nudge, even if he did want him to be a little cautious, he wanted to hint at the idea that Alba was more ready than Lionel thought she was.

“You think she would?” Lionel countered, moving to collect his towel.

Gerard offered a small, non-committal shrug. “I don’t think she would reject it out of hand” he mused.

Lionel shook his head. “I was hoping for a little more than that” he commented with a half-smile before he stepped away.

“You’re back later than I thought you would be”

Lionel, who’d moved to settle his bag beside the door, shook his head, a small grin on his face. “I didn’t expect that you’d be waiting for me” he countered “I figured you’d still be packing. We are going away for 5 whole days after all” he teased.

Alba rolled her eyes, but smiled nevertheless, padding towards him in order to press a kiss against his lips. “Hola” she mumbled impishly, leaning away from him slightly.

“Hola” he quipped, kissing her softly once more.

Alba held onto him happily for a moment before she pulled back, offering him another soft smile. “As lovely as kissing you is, you’re still not packed and I’ve not finished packing for Isabella. We do have a flight tomorrow morning” she pointed out, wiggling away from him gently.

Lionel rolled his eyes. “You’re no fun” he quipped, pouting a little.

Alba shook her head and placed another kiss against his lips before she padded up the stairs, Lionel following after her. “You’re still sure about wanting to go to my parents, aren’t you?” he quipped as he moved to find a spare suitcase, settling it on their bed.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Alba countered, folding a shirt of his and settling it in the empty case.

“Because you and your parents are talking again and I know how much you missed them last year…”

“Leo” Alba interrupted softly “I am sure that I want to go to your parents” she insisted. She knew why he was asking, for a few weeks, she and her mother had been talking more and more via the phone, but Alba’s decision hadn’t changed. Whilst she was pleased that things with her parents were progressing, she was nowhere near ready to spend the holidays with them. She could barely handle being around them for a couple of hours.

“I was merely checking” Lionel mused, waving his hands slightly.

“I know” Alba smiled “And you’re sweet for doing so” she quipped as she pressed a kiss against his cheek.

Lionel smiled at the contact, his hand resting on Alba’s hip before the sound of Isabella’s cries emanated away from the monitor. “I should go and check on her” Alba mumbled, resting into their embrace a little more.

“You should” Lionel mumbled softly, kissing her softly.

Alba leant into him a little more before she tugged herself back, padding out of the room.

Lionel watched after her for a second before he padded towards his dresser, quietly retrieving the small box that he had had stowed there for months. He didn’t look at it often, with Alba being clear about what she wanted, he had developed a habit of ignoring it, but a little part of him couldn’t help it. He knew that there was no rushing it, Alba had been clear and he didn’t want to be the one who ruined their relationship for a second time, but patience had never been a strong point of his, something which had him slightly anxious about waiting.

Eyeing the small navy box, he shook his head a little before he leant over, stowing it in the side pocket of his suitcase before he moved to find a few more items of clothes. He doubted that it would happen, the chances of Alba giving him the OK whilst they were away were slim to none, but he couldn’t resist taking the box with him, even if it did spend the entire trip in his suitcase, he merely wanted to have it, just in case.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)