When We Were

Six: That’s Not It

Pulling his car to a stop, Lionel glanced at Emilia out of the corner of his eye, trying to come up with something to say to her which would break the heavy silence that had lingered between the two of them since they’d gotten back into his car. They’d not said anything, after the moment had passed, they’d simply walked quietly to his car before he’d driven her back home, but he wanted to say something, not wanting to leave things as they were between them. He knew that he’d misread the signals, when Emilia had stopped walking and looked up at him, he’d assumed that her thoughts were the same as his, that their night was heading towards a soft, romantic kiss goodnight, but her reaction made it clear that he’d read it wrong, something which had embarrassed them both. He worried that he’d ruined something good.

Slipping the keys out of the ignition, he turned to look out of the window before he shook his head, a soft sigh tumbling out of his mouth. “Emilia...”

“It’s not you” Emilia spoke at the same time.

Lionel frowned. “What?” he asked.

Emilia shook her head, keeping her eyes fixed on her lap. “It’s not you” she repeated “The reason I...that we didn’t...that’s not you. It’s me, or it is mostly me. It could also be a little to do with you too” she stumbled out.

Lionel breathed out a shaky laugh. “That clears things up” he joked shyly.

Emilia squeezed her eyes shut, letting a weak laugh fall out of her mouth. “Sorry” she mumbled “That was...that was an awful explanation” she added.

Lionel just looked at her, allowing her to collect her thoughts before she spoke again. “I wanted to” she announced carefully “And then I thought about it and talked myself out of it” she added. She had wanted to kiss him, when he’d moved to brush her hair away from her face, a large part of her had wanted to lean forwards and kiss him, but she had quickly talked herself out of it, knowing that if they did kiss, then things would only become complicated.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “Can I ask why?” he asked gently.

“A lot of reasons” Emilia replied “Some to do with you, some to do with me” she added.

Lionel watched her quietly for a moment before he nodded his head again. “I don’t live here” he announced “I’m Jordi’s friend. I didn’t remember you when we ran into each other at the wedding reception. If we did start to date, then it would have to be long distance. There’s no way around that...”

“What are you doing?” Emilia interjected, her voice caught somewhere between amused and confused.

Lionel smiled at her bashfully, shrugging his shoulders slightly. “Those are the ones I thought of” he noted “I mean, aside from you not actually being interested in me romantically, of course. That’s not it, is it?” he asked, his expression growing slightly nervous.

Emilia’s expression softened a little before she shook her head. “That’s not it” she confirmed.

Lionel playfully let out a sigh of relief, something which made Emilia shake her head, smiling for a second before it fell away, being replaced by a soft frown. “I don’t do this” she announced.

Lionel tilted his head. “Do what?” he asked “Flirt with Jordi’s friends?” he poked impishly.

Emilia lifted an eyebrow, offering him a pointed look.

Lionel lifted his hands, grinning at her boyishly. “Sorry” he quipped.

“Since Luca was...Since Isaac, I haven’t...” Emilia stumbled out before she took in a deep breath, trying to calm herself down slightly “This is the first date I’ve been on in nearly seven years” she admitted quietly.

Lionel’s eyes widened a little, something Emilia caught before she shook her head, dropping her stare as she felt around for the door handle. “I should get upstairs” she mumbled as she found it, pushing the door open “Jordi’s going to throw a fit if I keep him waiting much longer” she added before she clambered back to her feet and climbed out of the car.

Pushing the door shut, she hesitated next to it for a second before she moved to walk towards her building, aimlessly searching for her keys in her bag. Sifting through the bags contents, she let out a frustrated sound when she couldn’t find the keys before she felt a touch against her elbow, causing her to jump before she lifted her head, her eyes meeting Lionel’s. “It was good” he announced.

Emilia frowned. “What?” she asked.

“Tonight” Lionel clarified “It was good. You’d never guess that it has been so long” he added, clearly unsure of what to say to her.

Emilia shook her head, still rooting through her bag in search of her keys. “I am not looking for your pity, Leo” she noted.

“I’m not trying to give it to you” Lionel countered “I just...You are fun, Emilia. You’re clever and you’re funny and yeah, you’re a little awkward, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m just trying to say that tonight was good, and that I’d not be against doing it again” he babbled, hoping that he hadn’t just stuck his foot in it again.

Emilia stopped looking through her bag, glancing up at him tentatively. “You do know that you gave a whole list of reasons why we probably shouldn’t do this again less than five minutes ago, right?” she asked, the tone of her voice slightly difficult to place.

Lionel breathed out a nervous laugh. “I do” he confirmed “But I still want to, even if it is probably an awful idea” he added.

Emilia shook her head, laughing gently.

“It doesn’t have to be anything” Lionel continued “I mean, we don’t even have to call them dates, but I would like to see more of you whilst I am here, Emilia. Can I?” he asked.

Emilia looked up at him, her eyes searching his face, before she nodded her head slowly, a tentative smile tugging the corner of her lips upwards. “If you want to” she mused “I mean, I imagine there are probably better ways for you to spend your time off than hanging around with your friend’s little sister, but if that’s what you want...” she trailed off, directing her smile down towards her feet.

Lionel just about stopped himself from reaching out to tip her face back so that she would look up at him, instead opting to stuff his hands into his pockets. “Isaac’s actually going to have Luca tomorrow, right?” he asked.

Emilia nodded. “He promised” she confirmed.

“Good” Lionel mused “I doubt Jordi’s going to want to babysit two days in a row” he added.

“You want to go out again tomorrow?” Emilia asked.

Lionel shrugged. “I don’t know about that” he mused “But I do plan on showing up here tomorrow. We can come up with something to do then” he added.

Emilia shook her head, letting out another soft laugh. “OK” she agreed.

“Great” Lionel replied enthusiastically.

Emilia rolled her eyes playfully before she leant towards him, pressing a soft kiss against his cheek. “Goodnight, Leo” she murmured before she turned away, unlocking the door.

Lionel watched her inside of the building before he turned back towards his car, grinning hopefully to himself.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)