When We Were

Eight: It’s Better Than Nothing

“Is my sister busy or something?”

Lionel, who’d been perusing the menu he held in his hand, rolled his eyes at the sound of Jordi’s voice before he stood up, moving to greet the other man with a hug so that he could hide the soft blush which had been quick to overtake his cheeks. He wasn’t surprised by the comment, when he had called Jordi earlier in the day to see if he wanted to get together, Jordi had been quick to make a joke about Lionel only wanting to spend time with him because Emilia was otherwise occupied, but still it embarrassed him, mostly because it was partially true.

They’d seen a lot of one another, in the couple of weeks that had passed since they’d been reintroduced at Jordi’s wedding, he and Emilia had spent both weekends together, and whilst they were both reluctant to admit that there was something romantic brewing between them, there was no denying it. They were still tentative, whenever one of them made a move that could be considered romantic, the other was quick to chime in with all the reasons that getting together was a bad idea, but neither of them pulled away, leading to little stolen kisses and shy smiles when they were alone together.

“Why would that matter?” Lionel posed, retreating into his seat.

Jordi grinned, plopping down into the seat opposite him. “Because we both know you’d choose to spend time with her over me” he quipped “I mean, you’ve been in town for weeks, and aside from my wedding and the night I babysat Luca, this is maybe the longest we’ve been in the same place” he added smugly.

Lionel scoffed. “You’re being dramatic” he muttered, not quite able to meet Jordi’s eyes.

“Sure I am” Jordi quipped sarcastically.

Lionel offered him a brief look before he shook his head. “She’s taken Luca to a playdate” he mused after a couple of seconds of quiet.

Jordi, who’d been scanning his menu, nodded without looking up. “I know she has” he noted “I called her after you called me. I thought she’d want to tag along. She sounded pretty disappointed that she couldn’t make it” he added, smirking a little as he turned to glance at the waiter who stood beside their table, waiting to take their order.

Lionel spoke quickly to the waiter before he shook his head, shyly staring down at the table ahead of him. “Are you going to let it go at some point?” he asked.

Jordi’s teasing smile softened a little before he nodded. “I will do” he confirmed “Just as long as you’re honest with me about what’s happening between the two of you” he added, his eyes mirroring Lionel’s for a moment.

Lionel held his stare for a second, his dark eyes searching Jordi’s, before he shook his head, looking back down at the table. “Jordi...”

“I know you think I am being nosy” Jordi interrupted, sensing the tone of Lionel’s voice “I kind of am. But honestly, I just...Isaac messed her around. I don’t want to go into it too much, it’s not something you ought to hear from me, but I had to watch her afterwards and I’m not in a hurry to ever see her like that again. I like her now. Yeah, she probably talks too much, and she thinks she’s funny when she really isn’t, but she’s the Emmy I love and if this is real for you then...” he trailed off, fixing Lionel with another serious look.

Lionel shifted under Jordi’s stare, taking a few moments to think over what he had said, before he lifted his head, keeping his eyes on Jordi’s as he spoke. “I like her” he mused “But I think Emilia and I...”

“Emmy” Jordi interrupted with a slightly amused grin “I can’t believe she hasn’t corrected you about that yet. She’s not been called Emilia by anyone other than our mother since we were kids” he added.

Lionel shook his head. “I think Emmy and I are both aware that there are lot of reasons that it probably won’t be anything” he explained carefully. He couldn’t deny that there was something between them, he knew that Emilia and Jordi were close and knew that she was likely to have confided that they’d been spending time together to her older brother, but he equally didn’t want to appear too optimistic. As it stood, spending time together and a few shy, almost clumsy, kisses were as far as it had gone.

Jordi frowned thoughtfully. “Don’t you want it to be something?” he asked.

“I didn’t say that” Lionel replied quickly, perhaps a little too quickly.

“So you do?” Jordi chirped, grinning.

Lionel took a breath to compose himself before he pushed a hand back through his hair, shrugging his shoulders slightly. “I like your sister” he admitted cautiously “She’s...uh...She’s nice to be around. I like being around her. The last couple of weeks have been...they’ve been good and I think she might...possibly...maybe feel the same way but, come on, Jordi. I live in Barcelona, she and Luca are here and they’re not going anywhere. I’m your friend, so that’s awkward in itself. It just...I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like it could be...”

“That’s crap” Jordi cut in, shaking his head.

Lionel blinked a couple of times, surprised by the interruption, before he shook his head. “Jordi...”

“So, it’s complicated” Jordi interjected.

“It’s more than complicated” Lionel retorted, shaking his head gently.

Jordi sighed, scratching his jaw thoughtfully. “I know it is” he conceded “I just...please don’t tell her I said this, OK?” he asked.

Lionel just nodded, wordlessly promising that he wouldn’t mention it to Emilia.

“You’re the first guy that she’s been interested in since Isaac” Jordi revealed softly “Since Luca was born, she’s been a mum, and she’s a brilliant one, Luca’s so lucky to have her, but then you appeared, and now she’s spending her weekends with someone other than me or Samia and that’s...I like seeing that, OK?” he breathed, his cheeks tinting soft shade of pink.

Lionel smiled. “You’re a good big brother, Jordi” he quipped.

“I’m a great big brother” Jordi retorted with a playfully boastful scoff.

Lionel laughed gently before a silence fell between them, lasting for a few long seconds before Jordi spoke up. “I just don’t want to see her get hurt, OK?” he said quietly “She deserves something good, even if it is complicated. It’s better than nothing” he added with a brief, hopeful smile that he was quick to stifle, watching as their waiter placed his plate down ahead of him.

Lionel watched the waiter quietly before he picked up his fork, twirling it around in his hand before he looked back over at Jordi. “You really don’t mind that me and Emmy...?”

“No” Jordi quipped “I know you’re a good guy, Leo, and I know Emmy’s good too. I mean, she’s a pain in my butt, but...” he trailed off, grinning playfully.

“She says very similar things about you, too” Lionel retorted.

“She says that now” Jordi retorted “But if things work out between you two, she’ll be forever in my debt” he added, grinning through a mouthful of food.

Lionel scoffed out a laugh. “You don’t think that you’re maybe getting a little ahead of yourself?” he quipped.

Jordi shrugged lazily. “I’ve got high hopes for you two” he quipped.

Lionel’s cheeks flushed pink as he poked at his food.. “No pressure, then” he mumbled beneath his breath.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)