When We Were

Twenty Three: I Wanted To Make Sure You Knew

“Leo?” Emilia called as she quietly pushed the front door closed, her eyes surveying the otherwise quiet apartment. She’d been gone for a while, after she and Isaac had watched Luca’s match, they’d taken the little boy out for lunch together before Emilia had made her excuses to leave, and whilst Lionel had said that he’d wait for her, she was apprehensive that he might have chosen to leave instead, conscious of how long she had been gone.

Toeing off her shoes, she poked her head around to glance into the kitchen before she heard a noise from the down the hall, something which caused her to let out a little sigh in relief before she followed it, poking her head around her bedroom door. “Hi” she squeaked softly.

Lionel, who’d been staring at the screen of his phone, glanced up at the sound of her voice. “Hi” he replied.

Emilia smiled at him timidly, allowing a few long moments of quiet to pass between the two of them, before Lionel cleared his throat. “How was the match?” he asked.

“It was pretty good” Emilia replied “I mean, Luca was a little tentative to start with, but he had a really good time. He scored too. Isaac sent me the clip he caught of it if you want to see it” she added, tentatively holding her phone out towards him.

Lionel hesitated fractionally before he took the phone out of her hand, pressing play on the clip that she had cued up. Turning the phone around, he watched Luca as he ran through on goal before he kicked the ball past the goalkeeper, something which sparked both Emilia and Isaac’s voices in the background. Quirking a small smile, he watched as Luca celebrated with his teammates before he locked the phone, placing it down on the mattress beside him.

“You know that I am serious about us, don’t you?”

Lionel looked up at the sound of Emilia’s voice. “I know that” he confirmed.

“I just...I just wanted to say that” Emilia stumbled out, her eyes fixed on her feet “You looked a little unsure earlier and I just...I wanted to be sure that you knew that. I worried that I’d upset you when I’d said that I wasn’t quite ready for you to meet Luca properly yet” she added, glancing at him through her eyelashes.

Lionel caught her look before he shook his head. “I get it” he noted “I mean, you were right in what you said. We’re still very much trying to figure if things can work, and how they’ll work, and I understand that you want to hold back. Luca is the most important person and if you think holding off is the right call, then I am not going to question it. But, just so you know, I’d really like to meet him” he added, his lips quirking upwards slightly.

Emilia’s expression brightened as she moved to sit down on the bed beside him. “Really?” she asked.

“He seems like a great kid” Lionel noted with a nod and a slightly shy smile.

“I’m biased” Emilia noted “But he is the best kid. You’ll love him” she insisted.

Lionel smiled at her, marveling at the warmth that filled her voice whenever she talked about Luca, before she looked up at him, her eyes mirroring his for a split second before she looked away, her cheeks flushing a faint shade of pink. “You know, I really didn’t think you’d still be here when I got back” she mused, fiddling aimlessly with the bottom of her shirt.

“Did you not want me to be?” Lionel chirped, his voice caught between shy and teasing.

“Of course I did” Emilia replied “I just...I was gone for a while and I worried that you’d start to feel weird about being here without me” she added.

Lionel shrugged. “It’s not like I had somewhere better to be” he noted “Besides, you said you weren’t quite ready to let me go yet. I took that to mean you wanted to spend some more time with me” he added, his expression growing slightly more impish.

Emilia laughed, shaking her head softly. “I suppose I’d kind of like that” she mused.

“I can go if you want me to” Lionel played along “I mean, I thought we were enjoying spending time together, but if you want me to....” his words were cut off as Emilia leant into him, her hand cupping his cheek as she leant over to kiss him. Closing his eyes, he felt himself smile gently against her lips before she pulled away, touching a little kiss to the side of his nose.

“Stay” she murmured quietly.

Lionel leant down, pressing another soft kiss against her lips. “I’m not going anywhere” he mumbled.

Emilia briefly thought about making a joke, about reminding him that it would only be a matter of days before he found himself on a plane back to Barcelona, but she stopped herself, knowing that as soon as it was out of her mouth, the contentment which filled the room around them would fade to be replaced by a familiar sense of uncertainty. Closing her mouth, she offered him a half-hearted smile before she stood up, gesturing towards the bedroom door. “We should get out of here and do something” she noted as she stood up.

Lionel tilted his head, slightly perturbed by her pulling away from him. “Why?” he asked.

Emilia shrugged, pasting a smile on her face. “You didn’t come all the way back here just to see the inside of my apartment” she noted “We could go for a walk or something. Anything to get out of here for a little while” she added.

Lionel’s forehead furrowed, but he didn’t question it, instead opting to nod his head slowly. “OK” he agreed.

“Great” Emilia’s voice was slightly too enthusiastic, but she was out of the room before Lionel had the chance to follow up, something which caused him to sigh as he pushed himself upwards, following her out of the room.

He already knew what it was, the expression on Emilia’s face had faltered as soon as he had said that he wasn’t going anywhere, almost as if she had been itching to point out that it wasn’t true, but he didn’t want to bring it up. It was always going to be the elephant in the room, the fact that their time together, as good as it was, was always going to end in another goodbye and another promise that he or she would call, and Lionel knew it was just something they had to get used to, even if it did stick in their throats and hang in the air between them. It was just how things were going to be if they were going to be together.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)