When We Were

Twenty Four: If I Could

Sitting back down onto Emilia’s bed, Lionel took a sip from his mug, his ears catching the distant sound of the shower which ran across the hallway. They didn’t have too much time, with Isaac due to bring Luca back in the middle of the morning, Lionel knew that it would be an hour at most before he left, and he wanted to take advantage of it, knowing that it was the last chance he had to spend time with Emilia before he had to get back to Spain. They hadn’t acknowledged it, despite Emilia’s moment the previous evening, neither one of them had verbally bought up the fact that his departure was imminent, but it still hung around them, even if they hadn’t quite gotten to the slightly tearful goodbye. They were both keenly aware that it was only a matter of time.

Closing his eyes, he rested his head back against the headboard for a couple of seconds before the sound of the bedroom door opening reached his ears, causing him to sit back up again, smiling softly at Emilia as she padded back into the room, tying her dressing gown closed. “I’ve left a cup of tea on your nightstand” he noted, nodding towards the cup which sat on the table beside the bed.

Emilia, who’d padded towards her dresser, offered him a small smile over her shoulder. “Thanks” she mused.

Lionel shifted slightly in his seat, allowing a couple of seconds of quiet to pass between the two of them, before he let out a quiet sigh. “How long’ve we got before Isaac brings Luca home?” he asked quietly.

“I don’t know exactly” Emilia replied, busying herself with looking through her drawer “But I did ask Isaac to text when he was nearby. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly love the idea of...uh...of saying goodbye with an audience” she added, sparing him another, slightly shier glance over her shoulder.

Lionel quirked a small smile, but didn’t say anything, instead simply opting to nod his head in agreement as another period of silence fell between the two of them.

Emilia fiddled in her drawer for a few more seconds, vaguely picking up and dismissing t-shirts before she shook her head, huffing out a quiet sigh. “I don’t want you to go” she murmured softly.

Lionel allowed his head to fall back against the headboard. “Emmy...”

“I know, OK?” Emilia mumbled “I know that this is how it is going to be, I knew it when I said I’d give us a chance, but I just...I don’t want you to go, OK? I know it’s a selfish thing to say...”

“It’s not” Lionel interrupted “And if it was a choice, I wouldn’t choose to go either, but it’s not, Emmy and you know that. I have to go” he added, his voice softening a little as he watched her fiddle with things in her drawer. It was a conversation that was always going to come, whether it was after a couple of months or longer, the moment that Emilia asked him to stay when he knew that he couldn’t was always going to arrive, and aside from reminding her that it wasn’t his choice, he didn’t quite know what to say to her.

Emilia nodded her head slowly. “I know” she mumbled, still looking through her drawer.

Lionel sighed quietly to himself before he stood up, padding towards where she stood before he wrapped his arms around her waist, leaning down to press a gentle kiss against the top of her head. Emilia stiffened momentarily, mostly because she hadn’t heard him move towards her, before she relaxed into him, her fingertip tracing the pattern of the tattoo on his arm. “I’m being dramatic, aren’t I?” she asked quietly “I mean, you’ll be back in a few weeks, right?” she added, glancing up at him shyly.

Lionel met her eyes, smiling a little as he nodded. “If you’ll have me” he quipped, his voice caught between soft and playful.

Emilia smiled despite herself, something which made Lionel’s smile widen a little before he lightly bumped her temple with his nose. “That’s a yes, right?” he teased, his lips ghosting over her skin.

Emilia dipped her head shyly. “Dork” she mumbled softly.

Lionel smiled, touching a soft kiss against her temple. “You know that you think it’s cute” he mused as he stepped away from her, moving to take another sip from his drink.

Emilia grabbed a t-shirt from the drawer before she stepped towards him, gripping the front of his t-shirt in order to pull him into a soft kiss. Lionel stumbled slightly, almost spilling the drink that he clutched in his hand, before he pulled away slightly, settling it down on the end table. Emilia watched him, a faint, amused smile dancing across her lips, before she closed the gap again, kissing him slowly and softly for a few long moments before the distant sound of a phone buzzing disturbed the moment. Letting out a quiet sigh, she reluctantly drew out of the kiss, but didn’t pull back too far, encouraging him to rest his forehead against hers. “That’s going to be Isaac” she mumbled softly.

Lionel, who’d busied himself toying with her slightly damp hair, quirked a half-hearted smile. “I’ll grab my stuff” he mused.

“Can you leave a t-shirt?” Emilia prodded, offering him a shy smile.

Lionel breathed out a slightly surprised laugh before he nodded his head. “If you want me to” he agreed.

Emilia shrugged as she messed with the bottom of his t-shirt, still smiling timidly.

Lionel watched her hands for a couple of seconds before he leant forwards, kissing her forehead softly. “I’d stay if I could” he murmured softly.

“You can’t, though” Emilia whispered.

“I know” Lionel sighed.

Emilia tilted her head up, kissing his lips a couple of times. “Call me” she murmured.

“Usual times?” Lionel prodded, tucking her hair back off of her face.

“I already can’t wait” Emilia retorted.

Lionel smiled sadly before he wrapped his arms around her tightly, drawing her into a tight hug that they were both reluctant to break for a few long seconds until he regretfully pulled away. Leaning around her, he picked up and finished his drink before he walked around the room, collecting the few of his things which were scattered around it, stuffing it into his holdall. Hefting the bag onto his shoulder, he stuffed his hands into his pocket before he offered Emilia a shy smile, something she returned briefly before she stepped towards him again, guiding him into a brief kiss that was over all to quickly when Lionel stepped back, mumbling a quiet excuse about not wanting to get in the way.

Offering her another tight smile, he waved his hand awkwardly before he padded out of the bedroom, Emilia trailing close behind. Trudging across the apartment, he thought about stopping more than once, but he kept himself going, only hesitating when he placed his hand on the front door’s handle. Sparing a glance over his shoulder, he briefly contemplated opening his mouth, saying three words to her that he was almost certain he felt, but he quickly willed himself out of it. It was too soon, too uncertain and throwing those words into the mix, especially when he wasn’t entirely sure that she felt the same way, would only add to the pressure.

Emilia noticed his hesitation and stepped towards him, pressing another soft kiss against his cheek. “Don’t forget me” she teased softly.

Lionel laughed despite himself. “Like I could do that again” he played along.