When We Were

Forty: I Don’t Know If I Can Change Her Mind

Ruffling his hair sleepily, Lionel stared down into his nearly empty mug, his mind still attempting, mostly in vain, to piece together what had happened between him and Emilia the night before. She had blindsided him, the suggestion that they’d be better off if they simply ended their relationship, for him, had seemingly come out of nowhere, and he didn’t quite know how to wrap his head around it.

He knew that she had doubts, from the moment that he had suggested that they start dating, Emilia had always been slightly more reluctant than him, more worried about the complications that their relationship faced, but he had thought that they were happy, something which had made the previous night’s conversation more difficult for him to take. It had been hard, if he was honest, the long distance had been a little harder to handle than he had anticipated, but he didn’t see the need to panic. As far as he was concerned, they could take each day as it came and worry about things when they came up, rather than just jumping to the worst case scenario.

Closing his eyes, he tried to ignore the uncomfortable way that his stomach turned over before the sound of the doorbell chiming reached his ears, causing him to huff out a small sigh, wondering just who knew he’d headed back to his own home the night before. It had felt unfamiliar to him, for a few months, all the time he had spent in Argentina had been spent in Emilia’s apartment, and being back in his own felt weird. He’d grown used to her home, the little cramped kitchen, the toys of Luca’s that he was always tripping over, and as comfortable as his home was, it still felt odd for him to be there.

Keeping his eyes closed, he sat in silence, hoping that the doorbell wouldn’t make another noise, but it did, causing him to groan quietly before he stood up, slowly and reluctantly padding down the hall before he hauled the door open, just about containing the slightly aggravated noise that itched to escape from his throat at the sight of Jordi.

Jordi quirked a soft smile, holding up his hands.

Lionel shook his head, but did step out of the doorway, allowing Jordi to pass him. “How’d you know I’d be here?” he asked, pushing the door closed.

“I didn’t. My mother did” Jordi replied “Apparently, when my sister arrived to pick Luca up, she was acting weirdly. She didn’t say much, but she didn’t have to. Marcella Moretti is practically psychic when it comes to her babies” he chirped brightly.

Lionel just nodded, his expression blank.

Jordi’s smile faltered before he shook his head, rubbing the back of his neck slightly. “Do you want to...uh...” he stumbled out “You know, talk about it? I mean, I am Emmy’s big brother, but...” he trailed off as Lionel offered him a tired smile.

“You don’t have to do that” Lionel mumbled.

“I want to” Jordi replied, padding through towards the living room.

Lionel offered him a slightly dubious look as he followed him, something which made Jordi laugh weakly, shaking his head softly. “Ok, maybe I don’t exactly want to” he quipped “But it’s clear something happened. I mean, you’re here, after all. I thought you and Emmy were joined at the hip these days” he added, plopping down onto the couch.

Lionel tried, but couldn’t stop the slightly bitter laugh from falling out of his mouth, something which caused Jordi to lift his eyebrow in surprise. Lionel took one look at his expression before he shook his head, falling into the empty seat next to him. “She’s your sister” he pointed out.

Jordi nodded. “Yeah, she is” he quipped “But don’t let that stop you” he added.

Lionel sat quietly, contemplating not saying anything, but Jordi’s nudging elbow coaxed him into speaking. “She tried to break up with me” he admitted.

“Tried to?” Jordi asked, trying his hardest to keep his expression neutral.

Lionel quirked an ironic smile. “I’m not much of a quitter” he quipped “I managed to convince her to give me some time, but I don’t know what use it’s going to be. She’s got this idea in her head, that I am about to start asking for something I know she can’t give, and I don’t think I can convince her to drop it. You know her better than me, is there any getting her to change her mind?” he asked, glancing up at Jordi for a second only to just as quickly look away, noting just how similar his blue eyes were to his sister’s.

Jordi noticed the flinch, but chose to ignore it, shrugging his shoulders. “Depends” he noted “What’s the problem?” he asked.

Lionel shrugged. “Barcelona” he quipped “Or rather, the distance between Barcelona and here. I thought we were doing OK. I mean, it’s not a great situation, but I thought...I thought we were making the most of it. She accused me of not seeing the big picture, I told her that she wasn’t focusing enough on how great things are in the here and now...it’s a mess, Jordi, and as much as I want to, I don’t quite know how to fix it. I had no idea that she was so unhappy” he added.

“She’s not unhappy” Jordi retorted.


“She’s scared” Jordi interrupted “She was scared before she came to see you in Barcelona and she still is now, but don’t doubt that you make her happy, no matter the crappy situation. You are, aside from Luca of course, the best thing that has happened to her in forever. She does this, Emilia has always been prone to thinking of the worst case scenario, but it’s not you. Yeah, there are going to be tough decisions to make in the future, but you’ve got to make her see that they aren’t decisions that she needs to make now” he explained.

Lionel scoffed, shaking his head slightly.


“Does she think we’re a mistake, Jordi?” Lionel interrupted.

“Do you?” Jordi replied.

“No” Lionel noted “It’s hard, yeah, but...I don’t regret us. She’s...she’s wonderful, Jordi, and I am happy when I am with her, but maybe she doesn’t feel the same way about me” he added.

“That’s crap” Jordi retorted.

Lionel offered him a dubious look.

“She’s crazy about you” Jordi insisted firmly “Anyone could see it. She’s just scared, OK? And you need to make her not scared. She hasn’t had this before, Leo, something so serious, and I honestly think that part of this is just her not quite knowing what to do with you. Isaac...I know she hates me badmouthing him, but he really messed her around. He made so many false promises, he was never consistent in how he felt about her, but you...you just love her, complications be damned, and I think that that’s overwhelming. I know it’s no excuse but...” he trailed off, shrugging his shoulders in place of finishing his thought.

“I don’t know if I can convince her to change her mind, Jordi” Lionel mused after a moment of quiet.

“At least try” Jordi quipped “Please” he added, meeting Lionel’s eyes determinedly.

Lionel searched his eyes, feeling a dull ache in his stomach, before he nodded his head slowly. “I’ll do what I can” he agreed.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)