When We Were

Thirty Six: Who Knows How Things Will Be?

Sleepily tracing her fingers over the pattern of Lionel’s tattoo, Emilia quirked a contented smile, relishing the warmth of his body curled up behind her own. She knew that they didn’t have much longer, with her scheduled to get back to work on Monday, she had a flight back home booked for that afternoon, but whilst the clock on their time together was ticking down, she didn’t have the inclination to wake him, more than content to just be in the same place as him. The trip had surpassed her expectations. She knew that it was a milestone for them, aside from the time they’d spent with Luca, Isaac and Jordi, their relationship was something that they’d kept between just the two of them, and she had worried that the trip, which clearly marked how serious things were becoming between the two of them, would prove a stumbling block, something it hadn’t. She had liked his friends, she had liked the city, and she had loved having a week with him, something she knew was going to be more difficult when they reached the New Year.

Gently tugging on Lionel’s arm, she pulled it around her a little more before she felt the mattress shift. Opening her mouth, she prepared to apologise for disturbing him, but all that came out was a contented sigh, reacting to the soft kiss that Lionel had leant forwards to press against the back of her neck. “You’ve packed already, haven’t you?” he mumbled, gently peppering her skin with light kisses.

Emilia nodded. “I did it last night” she mumbled “I was in the middle of it when you came up to...” she trailed off as she felt Lionel’s smirk against her skin, something which caused her cheeks to flush a deep shade of pink.

Lionel chuckled quietly as he rolled onto his back, tucking an arm behind his head.

Emilia sat up a little, tugging the duvet up to cover herself. “Are you still OK to give me a lift to the airport?” she asked quietly.

“Define OK” Lionel replied “Can I take you to the airport? Yeah. Do I want to take you to the airport? That’s a very different question” he added, grinning up at her ruefully.

Emilia looked down at him for a moment before she shook her head, diverting her stare down towards her hand which pulled at the duvet cover. It wasn’t a first for them, since Lionel had started to make trips back to Argentina to see her, they’d found themselves having a similar conversation whenever the moment of his, and now her, departure arrived, but they both know that it was futile. They both had responsibilities that they had to get back for, Lionel had his career, Emilia had Luca, and there wasn’t any way of avoiding them, even if they were both desperate to have longer than a few days together at a time. The fact was, as it had been since the start, that if they were serious about being together, it was going to happen in little increments. Every happy hello hug was going to be followed by a goodbye one.

Lionel watched her fiddle with the duvet for a second before he shook his head, letting out a soft sigh. “I just wish it could be different” he muttered “Sometimes, I just...I wish I’d met you in Barcelona. It’d be so much easier” he added.

Emilia tried to smile, but it didn’t come close to looking convincing. “You’d probably have gotten bored of me if I was here all the time” she joked awkwardly.

Lionel merely fixed her with a look, something which made her sigh. “What do you want me to say, Leo?” she asked “Are we going to do this every time one of us has to leave?” she added, her voice flitting between frustrated and soft.

Lionel pushed himself into a sitting position, pressing his back against the bed’s headboard. “Em...”

“This is all I can give you” Emilia interrupted “A few days here, maybe a week there. It’s all I’ve got to give you right now” she added.

“I know” Lionel replied “I just...sometimes I want more. I know that you can’t give that, Em, but I can’t pretend that I don’t want it. I’d love it if you were just a few minutes away rather than hours on a plane” he explained gently. He knew that there wasn’t anything either one of them could give that they weren’t already giving, but it didn’t stop him from wanting things to be simpler.

“I have Luca” Emilia mumbled “And you’ve got your life here. If you want easy, maybe we should just call it and you can find yourself a girlfriend who isn’t a long haul flight away” she added.

Lionel’s eyes widened slightly. “Emmy...”

“I’m sorry it’s so hard” Emilia interrupted, her voice softening “But if you didn’t want complicated, you definitely picked the wrong girl to fall for. It’s my middle name” she added, offering him a slightly sad smile.

Lionel blinked a couple of times, still slightly surprised by how quickly the conversation had escalated, before he leant a little closer to her, tentatively touching a gentle kiss against her forehead. Emilia stilled under his touch before she let out a soft sigh, her body relaxing. “Sorry” she murmured “I don’t...I don’t know what that was” she added.

Lionel pressed a kiss to the bridge of her nose, the tops of both of her cheeks and her chin before he met her lips, allowing Emilia to gently twine her fingers into his hair, kissing him back slowly and cautiously until he softly detached himself from her. “I’m frustrated too” he murmured, gently trailing his thumb backwards and forwards along the line of her jaw “But not with you, with the situation. I know you’ve got Luca, you know that I can’t just leave here, but it doesn’t stop me wishing that it could be different. I’d love nothing more than to have you wake up here or to wake up in your apartment every morning” he fussed gently.

“It can’t be different, though” Emilia replied gently “And eventually, you’re going to ask me if coming here permanently is an option...”

“I am not going to ask that now, though” Lionel interrupted “And by the time I do, who knows how things will be” he added.


“Emmy, I am not worrying about a future” Lionel interjected again “I’m interested in now. In a few weeks, when I come back to Argentina. I’m thinking about seeing your parents, and you seeing mine. Any other bridge, we’ll cross when we get there, Ok?” he prodded, tilting her head so that her eyes met his.

Emilia bit her tongue and nodded, smiling at him best she could. She knew that if she opened her mouth, it would mean admitting that a future for the two of them still seemed a little unfeasible. He still had years left to play, he’d probably want to spend them playing for Barcelona, and she knew that leaving Argentina for her wasn’t an option, not if it meant moving Luca away from Isaac. It’d always been a lingering specter, how long the two of them could put up with long distance before they found themselves admitting defeat, and for the first time, it felt as though it was more a case of when rather than if.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)