When We Were

Thirty Eight: Us

“Did I need to bring something?” Lionel asked as he stood on the pavement, watching as Emilia helped Luca to climb out of her car. He’d been waiting for it, since Emilia had visited Barcelona few weeks previously, he had been eagerly anticipating the trip to visit her parents, and whilst he had no doubt that David and Marcella would welcome him as they always had, he was still a little apprehensive. The dynamic was different, he wasn’t just Jordi’s friend anymore, he was the man that their daughter was dating, and he wanted to make a good impression, even if he already knew that Emilia’s parents liked him. He still wanted to make the effort when it came to fitting into her family.

Emilia, who’d moved to push the car door closed behind Luca, glanced up at him. “Hm?” she asked.

“To dinner, with your parents” Lionel clarified “Was I supposed to bring something? Are they going to throw me out if I’ve not bought a nice bottle of wine or something?” he added, letting out a slightly bashful laugh.

Emilia shook her head gently, flashing him a small, slightly hesitant smile. “I don’t think we need to worry about them throwing you out” she mused “We’ve probably got more chance of them trying to make us stay over when I live barely twenty minutes away” she added, her eyes staying fixed on her bag which she fiddled with in her hands to avoid looking up at him.

She knew that he would eventually notice, since she’d picked him up from the airport the previous night, she had been quiet and distant, but if he had noticed it, he hadn’t said anything. She had tried to hide it, with her still not quite sure what the right way forwards was for them, she had tried to mask her uncertainty with her usual behavior, but she was aware that it wasn’t entirely convincing. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake the lump that arose in her throat whenever she looked at him.

Lionel let out another slightly nervous laugh. “It has been years, Em” he pointed out “They might not like me as much” he added.

Emilia scoffed playfully before she stepped towards him, hesitantly knotting their fingers together. Feeling his hand tighten around hers, she offered it a little squeeze in return before she tugged him up the front path, following after Luca who’d already run ahead of them and knocked on the door. Taking in a breath, she felt Lionel anxiously grip her hand before she looked up, greeting her father, who stood in the doorway, with a timid grin. “Hola, papa” she mused.

David smiled. “Emilia” he mused “And Lionel, too. It’s been too long” he added, offering his hand out towards Lionel.

“It has been, Mr Moretti” Lionel replied, shaking his hand firmly.

David scoffed, his expression brightening amusedly. “Mr Moretti?” he prodded “I honestly don’t think you’ve ever called me that” he added, chuckling slightly.

Lionel felt his cheeks warm before he let out a slightly nervous laugh, something which made David shake his head, laughing gently as he stepped out of the doorway. “Luca’s already pestering his uncle” he quipped “And your mother’s been ready to serve food for nearly half an hour. You’d best get in here before she explodes” he added.

“Is she that excited?” Emilia asked as she stepped inside, toeing off her shoes.

David’s teasing expression faltered slightly, becoming a slightly softer smile. “It’s not every day you bring home a boyfriend, Em” he noted “Especially not one that we...” he trailed off as Emilia nodded her head slowly.

Lionel looked between the two of them, knowing precisely what the end of David’s sentence would have been, before he quirked a small smile. “I’m starving” he noted.

David nodded, breathing out a soft laugh. “That’s good” he noted “Because my wife, as ever, has gone overboard. Come on through and we’ll get you set up with a plate” he added.

Lionel smiled at him before he followed him through towards the dining room, stopping only to offer Emilia a playful grin before he walked away. Emilia couldn’t stop herself from quirking a small smile before she followed after him, the small knot still twisting in the pit of her stomach.

“I can’t believe that they got together” Lionel chirped, grinning at the school picture of Jordi’s that he held in his hand. It hadn’t been a flawless night, with the topic of Isaac hanging, unspoken, in the air and Emilia’s mind appearing to be somewhere else at times, there had been moments when he had felt out of place sat at her parents’ dinner table, but they had never lasted long. Jordi had been more than happy to keep conversation flowing, his parents had been more than happy to chime in, and Emilia, despite being quiet at times, had laughed and joked with them too, allowing him to relax a little more.

Jordi, who was sat next to him, smirked, nudging his side gently. “You’re just upset because you always had a thing for her” he quipped.

Lionel scoffed, sparing a brief glance across the room towards where Emilia was sat with her mother, before he shook his head. “I didn’t” he retorted.

Jordi lifted an eyebrow, following his glance towards Emilia, before he laughed. “Emmy, tell Leo that you don’t care if he had a crush on a girl when we were at school” he chirped.

Emilia looked up from her conversation, shaking her head amusedly. “Don’t be a jerk, Jordi” she quipped.

Jordi scoffed impishly. “Me?” he asked innocently.

“Yeah, you” Emilia retorted “Who cares if he had a crush when he was a kid? He’s not exactly doing badly now, is he?” she prodded, the impishness in her voice faltering slightly.

Lionel noticed it with a frown, but Jordi didn’t, letting out a loud laugh. “Do you really want me to answer that, Em?” he prodded.

Emilia feigned a glare, something which made Jordi poke his tongue out impishly.

“Jordi, be nice” Marcella noted, fixing him with a look.

“I’ve got to be able to tease them a little, mama” Jordi replied “We both know who’s really going to be the loser should they break up” he added brightly.

Marcella rolled her eyes good-naturedly, but it wasn’t her reaction that Lionel was watching for. Cautiously, he spared a look towards Emilia only to feel his stomach drop a little as he took in the way that she had shrunk back into her seat. Keeping his eyes on her, he watched as she fiddled with the ends of her hair nervously before he felt Jordi’s hand slap his shoulder playfully. “Huh?” he spluttered.

“I was just saying I have to get going” Jordi noted “I’ll see you some more whilst you’re here, won’t I? I mean, unless my baby sister in monopolizing all of your time” he added, sparing a playful glare towards Emilia who rolled her eyes in return.

Lionel forced the best smile he could up onto his face. “I’m sure I can find a small window for you, Jordi” he quipped.

Jordi nodded his head. “Make sure that you do” he quipped “It’s been too long” he added as he stood up, padding out of the room with his mother in tow.

Lionel watched the two of them out of the room before he pushed himself up to his feet, stepping a little closer to the chair that Emilia sat in. Standing there for a second, he watched her fiddle with the photograph that sat on the table ahead of her before he cleared his throat, causing her to look up, her prepared smile wavering when her eyes met his. Blinking a couple of times, she tried to fix it, but Lionel just sighed, shaking his head as he looked down at his feet. “Is there something you want to talk to me about?” he asked.

Emilia hesitated before she nodded, staring down at the table. “Us” she replied.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)