The Things That You Do

44: Someone Like Him

Gently sticking the final piece of tape to the parcel which sat head of him, Lionel quirked a relieved smile, glad that he was finished wrapping the gifts that he had purchased for Alexa’s family.

It had been a late call, with him and Alexa due to spend the day with her family, he had debated for a little while whether or not he ought to buy gifts for her family, but in the end he had opted to do it, even if Alexa had offered to put his name on the gifts that she had bought. He wanted to make the effort himself, wanting to try and fit in with her family. It was important to him, with him and Alexa hopeful that they’d be together for a while, he knew that that meant that he’d spend a lot of time with Marco and Madeline in the future, and he wanted to make sure that it was as comfortable and as cordial as it could be for Alexa.

Flipping the parcel over in his hands, he ensured that the paper covered it, before he shuffled towards the foot of the bed, placing it into festive gift bag which sat there.

“Are you still wrapping?”

Lionel sat up a little at the sound of Alexa’s voice before he shook his head, flashing her a small smile. “It took a while, but I’ve just finished” he explained.

Alexa, who was stood in front of the wardrobe, looking for something to wear, scoffed playfully. “I can’t quite believe that you left it until now to finish” she quipped “I mean, it is Christmas morning, Leo” she pointed out, offering him an impish smile over her shoulder.

Lionel, who’d moved to collect the pair of shoes that he’d left beside the bed, merely shrugged, something which made Alexa shake her head amusedly before she reached into the wardrobe, collecting a warm sweater and a pair of jeans. Slipping into her jeans, she moved to pull the sweater over her head before she stepped towards bed, sitting down beside him. “You nearly ready to get moving?” she posed quietly.

Lionel nodded. “I’m ready to go now” he noted.

Alexa nodded slowly, acknowledging his response, before she leant down, moving to slip her feet into her shoes.

Lionel watched her for a second before he reached over, gently rubbing his hand up and down her back. “You doing OK?” he mumbled tenderly.

Alexa shrugged before she turned, offering him a half-hearted smile over her shoulder. “It’s a little strange” she admitted “I mean, there’s a lot to be excited about. It’s our first Christmas as a couple, Antonio’s first Christmas too, but it still feels odd that my papa won’t be there. He’d have loved this, all of us being together, he’d have had a wonderful time, and it sucks that he won’t be there” she added, shyly messing with a loose thread which poked out of the sleeve of her sweater.

“I know” Lionel mumbled, his hand still comfortingly rubbing her back “But we still need to go, and I think going will do you some good. You, Marco and your mother, you’re all going through the same thing, and I think being together might make it a little easier. Besides, with Adrian, Ariana and Antonio around, it might take your mind off it a little” he added as he leant forwards, pressing a soft kiss against her shoulder.

He knew that it was only a faint silver lining, with it being the first Christmas that she had celebrated without her father, chances were that his words didn’t offer her too much comfort, but he wanted to try and make her feel a little better, even if it was likely that his words wouldn’t make her feel any better. He wanted to at least try and offer her a little comfort.

Alexa closed her eyes at the feel of his kiss before she shook her head, a faint smile appearing at the corner of her mouth. “I love you” she murmured after a couple of seconds of quiet.

Lionel, who’d moved to press a couple of light kisses against her neck, smiled against her skin for a second before he pulled away, his dark eyes meeting her blues. “I love you too” he replied warmly.

Alexa held his stare for a moment, offering him a slightly shy smile, before she pushed herself up to her feet, moving to collect her coat which hung on the door of the wardrobe. “We should get out of here” she mused “My mother will never let me hear the end of it if we’re late” she added, slipping her arms into her sleeves.

Lionel watched her for a second before he stood up, gently fixing her coat around her shoulders before he leant down, kissing her softly as to reassure her that the day ahead of them would be fine.

“Can I get anyone anything else before we start?” Madeline posed as she padded into the living room, her eyes quickly scanning over the people which filled it. It had been a good day, even despite the air of sadness which filled the atmosphere, the Christmas celebrations that Madeline had put together had been wonderful, and Lionel was glad that he had gone with Alexa, even if a small part of him been a little worried about saying the wrong thing, he had found himself at ease and comfortable for the first time around Alexa’s family.

“I think we’re all OK, mama” Marco quipped “So why don’t you come in and sit down? We’ve probably not got too much longer before the kids wake up” he added, making room for his mother at his side.

Madeline offered him a slightly dubious look, something which made Marco chuckle before he reached out for her wrist, gently guiding her into the seat at his side. “Come on, mama” he insisted “Let’s open a few of these presents” he added as he leant forwards, collecting one of her presents from the table.

Madeline hesitated for a moment before she quirked a small smile, peeking at the gift tag which had been affixed to the present. “This one says it’s from Lionel” she quipped, sparing a glance towards the argentine who sat on the floor, his arms wrapped affectionately around Alexa.

Lionel, who’d been mumbling softly into Alexa’s ear, looked up at the sound of his name, offering Madeline a sheepish smile. “I thought I ought to get you something” he noted shyly.

Madeline smiled at him comfortingly before she gently tore off the paper, her grin growing slightly at the contents.

“What did he get you?” Alexa posed, craning her neck to get a look.

Madeline shook her head. “It’s a guidebook to Italy” she mused “And an ‘I owe you’ for a plane ticket, saying that I should just give him the word and he’ll get it for me” she added, her voice warm as she looked down towards the footballer, not missing the shy expression he wore.

Lionel shrugged sheepishly. “I remember Alexa mentioning that you’d been itching to go for a little while and I thought I could help out” he mumbled shyly.

Madeline smiled at the shyness in his voice before she stood up, taking a step towards him, tentatively offering her arms out for a hug. Lionel stared up at her, his eyes a little wide, before he stood up, hugging her gently. “Gracias, Lionel” she fussed, placing a quick kiss on his cheek.

Lionel grinned at her sheepishly before he retook his seat on the floor, something which made Alexa smile at him warmly.

“Who’s next?” Isabel quipped.

“Why don’t you open one, Alexa?” Marco suggested, pushing a present towards her.

Alexa lifted an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything, instead taking the present into her hands. Flipping it over, she neatly peeled back the paper before she let out a playful scoff, her blue eyes glaring up at her brother and sister-in-law who grinned down at her. “Really?” she posed, pulling out the new Barcelona home shirt.

“You don’t have one” Isabel pointed out with an enthusiastic grin “And we thought you’d like to support your boyfriend” she added, gesturing to the name and number which had been stuck on the back.

Alexa rolled her eyes playfully before she shook her head, moving to offer Marco and Isabel a tight hug before the sound of a phone, and Antonio’s cries, filled the air.

“I should go and check on him” Isabel noted “Marco, why don’t you go and check on the twins?” she asked.

Marco nodded his head dutifully before he followed her out of the room.

“I ought to take this phone call” Lionel noted “It’s from my madre. Do you have somewhere I can take it?” he posed.

“You can use the kitchen” Madeline noted.

Lionel offered her a small grateful smile before he padded out of the room, leaving Alexa alone with her mother. Madeline watched him pad out of the room before she shook her head, turning her attention to Alexa who had been watching after him as well, a familiar loved-up grin perched on her lips. “You love him” Madeline chirped.

Alexa blinked a couple of times, surprised by her mother’s voice, before she shook her head, trying, and failing, to hide the hint of pink which had appeared on her cheeks. “Mama” she complained.

Madeline held her hands up innocently. “I’m just saying, sweetheart” she fussed “You look happy, and I like that. I like him” she added.

“You do?” Alexa poked curiously.

Madeline nodded. “He’s a sweet man” she enthused “And he smiles as much as you do when you’re together. It’s very cute to see, and I hope you intend to keep it going. He’s a good one, Alexa, a keeper, and I hope you intend on keeping him around for the foreseeable future. I don’t think you’re going to find someone quite like him” she added, her voice soft and encouraging. She knew that it was still early days, whenever Alexa talked about her and Lionel, she was quick to insist that things were still in the fledgling stage, but Madeline wanted to make sure that she was aware of what she had, and of how good it appeared to be.

Alexa glanced at her for a moment before she nodded, offering her mother a slightly timid grin. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere, anytime soon, mama” she mused “I think we’re both pretty happy as we are” she added before the sound of Lionel calling her name reached her, causing her to excuse herself before she stepped out of the room, something which made Madeline’s smile soften a little, more than slightly optimistic that it wouldn’t be too much longer before she watched her daughter start to settle down.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)