When We Were

Forty One: But I’d Still Do It All

Letting a shaky sigh fall out of her mouth, Emilia tapped her fingers on the glass which sat on the table ahead of her, unable to stop her eyes from drifting towards the restaurant’s doors in anticipation of Lionel’s arrival. His call had surprised her. After the way that they had left things when they’d last seen each other, the idea that he wanted to meet up for lunch was one which had thrown her, but she had hesitantly accepted the invitation, knowing that one way or the other, it was better for the two of them to get things sorted out. She had hated seeing him upset, the look on his face when he had asked her for some time to try and figure things had gripped at her, but whilst the idea that she had hurt him had hurt her, she still didn’t know how they could figure things out.

Reluctantly pulling her eyes away from the door, she lifted her glass to take a sip from her water only to find herself startling, feeling a gentle touch against her shoulder. Carefully settling her glass back down on the table, she took a second before she looked up, a faint smile pulling at the corner of her mouth as her blue eyes met Lionel’s dark ones.

Lionel quirked a soft smile before he leant over, hesitating for a fraction of a second before he brushed his lips against her cheek. Emilia let out a quiet sigh, relishing the gentle touch before she leant back, offering him a sheepish look. “Do you...do you want to sit down?” she asked quietly “I mean, obviously, you don’t have to. If you’d rather...”

“I’m kind of hungry” Lionel interjected “That’s why I suggested lunch” he added, flashing her a crooked smile as he sat down opposite her, moving to pick up a menu.

Emilia fell quiet and watched him, allowing the silence to hang between them until Lionel looked up again. “Where’s Luca?” he asked.

“Isaac picked him up this morning” Emilia replied “He’s got him until Christmas eve so that they can go and visit his parents. They live a while out of the city and they don’t get to see Luca nearly enough” she explained.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, looking back down at his menu.

Emilia sat, quietly watching him as his eyes ran up and down the menu, before she sighed. “Leo...”

“You were right” Lionel cut in, still not looking away from his menu “When you said that I don’t look at the bigger picture, you were right about that. I do choose not to think about how hard this is at times, I do choose to think of the helloes rather than the goodbyes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an appreciation of how difficult it is, Emmy, or how difficult it could become” he added, glancing up to meet her eyes.

Emilia held his stare before she nodded, looking back down at the table. “I know that you do” she murmured.

“Do you?” Lionel prodded softly “I didn’t feel like that. It felt like you thought that I was being naïve and that you were the only one who could see the roadblocks ahead of us. I know that you can’t leave here, Emmy. I know that Luca being around Isaac is too important” he added, his voice still gentle and calm in an attempt to avoid starting a fight.

It wasn’t what he wanted, to have them sit there and hiss and growl things at one another, but he did still want to talk, even if it did pull things to a slightly more uncomfortable place. One way or another, they both needed to know where the other stood and what they were going to do next.

Emilia fiddled with the straw in her glass, watching as Lionel broke away from their conversation to talk to a waiter, ordering for himself. Offering the waiter a tight smile, she reeled off her own order before she watched him walk away, turning her attention back towards Lionel. “Barcelona is important to you too” she murmured.

Lionel didn’t hesitate in nodding. “Yeah, it is” he confirmed “And, for a while, it’s not going to stop being important, but there is an expiration date on that. Ok, so it’s not tomorrow, but it’s a date. I know I am asking a lot of you, Emmy, and I know that this...this is kind of new and scary for you...” he trailed off, sparing her a glance which made her smile weakly, offering him a small nod to let him know that it was OK to keep talking.

Lionel hesitated for a second before he gently reached across the table, slowly and tentatively knotting their fingers together. “I don’t mind that you worry, I mind that this is how you choose to deal with it. That instead of just talking to me, and telling me all the little things and all the big things that worry you, you just tried to cut me out” he murmured “Jordi said you’ve always been a worst case scenario kind of person...”

Emilia breathed out a laugh, one that was soft and bright despite the situation. “You talked to my brother?” she asked.

“Because your mother sent him my way” Lionel replied “Apparently, when it comes to her children, Marcella Moretti is psychic” he added.

Emilia laughed again before she shook her head, her smile fading as the atmosphere shifted back to quiet and slightly uncomfortable.

Lionel gently brushed the back of her hand with his thumb. “The worst case scenario is that the distance kills us” he murmured “That one day I can’t face getting on a plane back here and then having to go back to Barcelona, but that’s not a problem we have now, Emmy. Is it hard? Yeah, it is. Do I wish I had more than a handful of days at a time to spend with you? Of course I do, but I still want to keep coming, because two days is a whole lot better than nothing. I know that you’re thinking ahead, but right now, I am not asking for that. I know that Isaac being in Luca’s life is more important than me wanting you around more. I know that unless Isaac is miraculously offered a job in Barcelona, there’s no changing the distance. I know that it’s freaking hard to say goodbye, OK? But I’d still do it if it means we’re still us. I love you, Emmy” he added as he lifted her hand up, dropping a soft kiss on the back of it.

Emilia breathed out, soft and shaky, before she looked up at him, her blue eyes shining with tears. “I...I love you too” she whispered.

Lionel quirked an impish smile. “I know you do” he quipped “And I know the attempt to break up with me wasn’t because I’m not wonderful enough, I know it’s your defence mechanism. You’re scared, Em” he added.

Emilia smiled gently. “More advice from Jordi?” she asked.

“He wasn’t very complimentary of you ex” Lionel noted “But he told me you’re probably a little overwhelmed, which is probably on me. I’ve made all the moves in this, and if it was moving too fast...”

“It’s not that” Emilia interrupted “I just...You don’t...I’m very new at this. As I am sure that Jordi told you, things with Isaac, my first and probably only boyfriend before you, were not good, not really and I think it’s probably shaken me more than I knew. I just...I keep waiting for this to go wrong because that did, and me and Isaac, we had a lot more to worry about than you and I do. I’m just trying to...to get out ahead of it. Does that make any kind of sense?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head. “It does” he quipped “But I’ve told you before, if you go looking for problems, you’ll find them, even if they aren’t really there. I am not going...I am not letting us fall apart any time soon, Em” he added, correcting himself.

“Promise?” Emilia asked, her eyes still soft and tearful as little smile lit up her face.

Lionel pressed another kiss against her hand. “Promise” he mumbled quietly.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)