When You Close Your Eyes

04: It’s Not The First Time

“So, Belle, how is work going?”

Isabelle, who’d been pushing the last of her meal around her plate, startled a little at the sound of her father’s voice before she lifted her head, her blue eyes peeking across the table towards where the older man sat. It had been a little while, after she and Lionel had met her parents at the airport, Francesca had been quick to suggest that they head out to lunch together, and whilst a part of Isabelle wanted to tell her no, she had opted against it, not wanting to give her parents, or more particularly, her mother a reason to start asking questions.

“What?” she squeaked.

Marco, who’d been perusing the dessert menu, quirked a slightly amused smile before he shook his head. “I asked about work” he noted softly “How is it going?” he added gently. It wasn’t the first time, since he and his wife had met up with their daughter and her boyfriend, Isabelle had been particularly quiet, but Marco didn’t want to push the issue, not wanting to cause a problem so soon after they’d arrived.

Isabelle offered him a small look before she shrugged. “It’s OK” she mused softly “I mean, I am still enjoying what I do” she added, her fingers fiddling shyly with the napkin which sat on her lap.

Marco watched the movement of her fingers for a couple of seconds before he shook his head, flicking his attention towards Lionel who sat beside Isabelle, his arm rested comfortably around the back of her seat. “And you, Leo?” he posed “How are things with Barca? The last time I checked, you were still behind Madrid in the table” he added, offering the younger man an impish grin.

Lionel rolled his eyes playfully before he shook his head, offering the older man a small smile. “It is going OK” he mused softly “I mean, we’ve had a couple of slip ups in the early part of the season, but we’re starting to find our form and we’re still hopeful. There’s a long way to go yet” he added confidently.

Marco chuckled a little before Francesca cleared her throat, something which made him shake his head. “I think your madre would like to get moving, Belle” he noted softly, offering a look towards his daughter who was quietly fiddling with the glass of water which sat on the table ahead of her “Are you two sure that you don’t mind us imposing on you until the wedding? Because, if it is a problem…”

“It’s not a problem” Lionel interrupted softly “You’re going to be in town for a while and it make sense that you stay with us. We’ve got more than enough room” he added, peeking towards Isabelle slightly. He knew that she was nervous, with the way things were between them, the prospect of sharing a bedroom was one that made him a little nervous, but he knew that they couldn’t opt out of letting her parents stay, even if they were still awkward around one another, he knew that they couldn’t change their minds.

Marco offered him a slightly dubious look, wordlessly asking if he was sure, before he nodded his head, quirking another warm smile. “We should get moving then” he noted softly.

“Have your parents finally gone to bed?”

Isabelle, who was sat beside the kitchen counter, typing up her latest report, startled a little at the sound of Lionel’s voice before she lifted his head, offering him a small smile. It had been a long day, with Francesca and Marco around and intent on catching up with her and Lionel, they had barely had a second to themselves, but she had to admit that she had enjoyed catching up with her mother and father, even if she was still more slightly awkward around Lionel, she had enjoyed spending time with her parents.

“I think so” she mused softly “I mean, they headed upstairs about 20 minutes ago, so I wouldn’t be expecting to see them again until the morning” she added gently.

Lionel, who’d moved to pad a little further into the room, nodded his head quietly, something which made Isabelle shake her head. It wasn’t the first time, for days, awkward silences and tense pauses had been frequent between the two of them, and whilst she hated them, she didn’t quite know how to fix it. It was awkward, the idea that they were on the verge of breaking up, and there was no avoiding it, even if Isabelle wanted there to be. Unless something changed, things between them were likely to be awkward for a while.

“I was thinking of heading up to bed”

Isabelle, who’d been staring vaguely towards the screen of her laptop, startled a little at the sound of Lionel’s voice before she nodded. “Ok” she mused softly “I shouldn’t be too far behind you. Are you sure that you’re alright with the idea of us sharing a bed?” she added, offering him a soft look.

Lionel mulled her words over for a couple of seconds before he shook his head, a soft laugh falling out of his mouth. “Isa, it’s not the first time that we’ve shared a bed” he mused, his voice caught between sad and teasing.

“I know” Isabelle mused, shifting nervously in her seat “But, since our conversation the other day, we’ve been sleeping in separate rooms and I just wanted to make sure that you were OK with this. I know that I am asking a lot of you…”

“You are, you always do” Lionel interjected, a teasing half-smile playing at the corner of his mouth “But I also said that I would go along with you. I’ll admit, it is pretty hard to be around you right now, I mean, if it weren’t for the fact that your parents were here and Grace was getting married, then I am pretty sure that we would have simply broken up, but I said that I would go along with you, Isa, and I intend to do that, even if it does make things harder. You’ve got my word” he explained gently.

Isabelle allowed his words to hang around them for a couple of seconds before she nodded her head, offering him a small shy smile. “I’m really grateful for that, you know” she mused softly.

Lionel admired the soft smile on her face for a moment before he shook his head, carefully moving to offer his hand out towards him. “Come on” he mumbled softly “It’s been a pretty tough day and I am sure that your article can wait until the morning” he added gently.

Isabelle eyed his hand for a couple of seconds, chewing softly on the side of her lip briefly, before she pushed herself up to her feet, her fingers gently lacing through his, something which made Lionel quirk a weak smile. He knew that things weren’t likely to change, for a while, things between him and Isabelle had been stuttering and faltering, but a small part of him held out a little hope, even if the larger part of him was sure that when the month ended they’d go their separate ways, a little bit of him hoped that they’d figure things out.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)