When We Were

Four: I Mean You

Lifting his stare away from the text which filled the screen of his phone, Lionel glanced up at the door ahead of him, confirming that its address matched that which was on the screen. Moving his stare between the phone and the door a couple of times, he took in a slightly shaky breath before he made a towards the door, preparing to knock on it, only to watch it swing open, revealing Emilia who stood on the other side, a small smile flitting across her features. “I didn’t think you were ever going to knock” she announced.

Lionel just grinned at her shyly, trying, and failing, to keep the slightly embarrassed flush off of his cheeks.

Emilia took a pace backwards, opening the door a little wider. “Come on in” she mused.

Lionel hesitated for a beat before he tentatively stepped forwards, trailing after her as she walked inside. He felt apprehensive, despite how comfortable things had felt between the two of them at the wedding reception the night before, he felt nervous, and whilst he didn’t want it to show, he knew that it would. They didn’t know one another, aside from the previous night and a few hazy memories from their childhood, he and Emilia were relative strangers, and whilst they seemed to get along, or at least, Lionel thought that they did, there was still the potential for things to go wrong, something he dreaded. He liked her and didn’t want to put his foot in it.

“I’m sorry about the mess” Emilia chirped as she guided him through towards the kitchen “Luca got invited to a birthday sleepover at the last minute, and we’ve spent most of the morning looking for a specific pair of pajamas which we didn’t find because Isaac has them, so he threw a bit of a tantrum and I didn’t have much of an opportunity to tidy up. I hope that that is OK” she added, sparing him a slightly wary glance over her shoulder.

Lionel, who’d been surveying the slightly messy living room, quirked a small smile. “This isn’t the worst I’ve seen” he quipped “A lot of my friends have kids and I’ve got nieces and nephews and this mess...it’s nothing in comparison” he added.

Emilia, who’d padded towards the stove, laughed. “You’re just saying that to be polite” she quipped.

“I’m not” Lionel retorted, holding his hands up innocently.

Emilia offered him a dubious look for a second before her face melted into another grin, something which made Lionel smile in return before he shook his head, taking a seat next to the counter. Shrugging his jacket off of his shoulders, he hung it over the back of the chair before he looked up again, his stare settling on a picture which was stuck to the front of the fridge. “Luca?” he breathed.

Emilia, who’d been checking on their food, turned around at the sound of his voice before she followed his stare, her expression softening a little as she took in the picture. It was an old one, the picture that had been made into a fridge magnet was one which had been taken of her and Luca just after the little boy had been born, but she still adored it. “I know” she cooed “It’s hard to believe that he was that little once” she added.

Lionel smiled. “How old is he?” he asked.

“Six” Emilia replied “He’ll be seven in September” she added.

Lionel nodded, allowing a moment of quiet to linger, before he opened his mouth to ask another question, something Emilia was quick to cut off, her previously bright expression faltering slightly. “You should tell me what Barcelona is like” she announced.

Lionel tilted his head, surprised by the sudden shift of conversation topic, but he didn’t question it, instead opting to nod. “What do you want to know?” he asked. He didn’t want to push it, the expression that had appeared on Emilia’s face told him that her changing the topic of their conversation had a reason, and he didn’t want to challenge it, knowing that he didn’t know her well enough to try and press her.

Emilia fixed her smile, gently tucking her hair back off of her face. “Anything” she noted “The city, your friends, we can even talk about your job if you want to. I mean, I hear you’re pretty good” she added impishly.

Lionel shook his head, bashfully rubbing the side of his jaw.

Emilia watched him for a second before she padded towards the fridge, retrieving two bottles of water. Stepping back towards the counter, she placed one down in front of Lionel, something which caused him to look up at her, a soft smile passing over his face.

“He didn’t tell me that” Lionel announced as he leant back in his seat, a warm laugh falling out of his mouth. Things had gone better than Lionel had thought that they would. After Emilia’s rather abrupt shift in conversation, Lionel had been concerned that the afternoon would be made up of awkward pauses and basic small talk, but it hadn’t been. Like the night before, they’d spent their time laughing and smiling, and Lionel was in no hurry for it to end, even if he was conscious of overstaying his welcome. He was enjoying himself.

“Why would he?” Emilia countered with a nonchalant shrug “It’s embarrassing” she added.

“I thought we were friends” Lionel replied, rolling his eyes playfully.

“You’d probably be better friends if you weren’t all the way in Barcelona” Emilia commented with a smirk “I mean, didn’t you think it was strange that he didn’t ask you to be his best man?” she added.

Lionel scoffed, playing along. “I thought he was obliged to ask Samia’s brother” he noted.

Emilia just flashed him another grin, allowing a couple of beats of silence to pass between the two of them, before she shook her head. “He’d probably like to see some more of you” she announced “You know, before you go back. Are you...are you going to be here for long?” she asked, frowning a little to herself as she stumbled over her words.

Lionel noticed the little stumble in her voice, but did his best to stifle the little grin that wanted to stretch across his face at the thought that she might not just be asking for Jordi’s sake. “I’d planned to stick around for a few weeks” he noted “I’ve got some time before I need to get back for preseason” he added.

Emilia nodded her head slowly. “Jordi will be thrilled to hear it” she announced “He’s not going away on honeymoon for a few weeks yet” she babbled.

“I hope so” Lionel quipped amusedly “I’d love the chance to see...Jordi again” he added.

Emilia glanced at him, her cheeks warming slightly as she spotted the smirk on his face. “Yeah?” she asked gently.

Lionel nodded. “When are you going to be free?” he asked.

“You mean Jordi” Emilia countered, her eyes shining amusedly.

“You mean Jordi” Lionel replied “I mean you” he added.

Emilia shook her head, allowing a beat of silence to pass before she glanced up at him through her eyelashes. “Isaac has Luca from Friday night until Sunday morning” she noted “Could that work?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate in nodding. “Absolutely” he confirmed.

Emilia smiled a little at his certainty before she glanced down at her lap, mumbling a jokey comment about it being a date that had Lionel itching to nod eagerly and insist that that was precisely what it was.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)