When We Were

Ninety: I’ll Remember It

“How much time have we got before you need to go?” Emilia asked as she set a plate of food down in front of Luca, her eyes looking across the table at Lionel who sat there, happily cooing to Maisie. He hadn’t stopped fussing since Maisie and Luca had woken up, with him due to spend most of their birthday travelling with the team before their match that night, he had been determined to make the most of what time he did have with them, and whilst it was tinged a little with disappointment, Emilia had loved watching him. He had been careful, making sure that he was just as excited about celebrating Luca’s ninth birthday as he was about celebrating Maisie’s first, and it made Emilia smile. She couldn’t quite believe that, at the outset of their relationship, she had had concerns about Lionel and Luca getting along.

Lionel lifted his head, offering Emilia a grin. “Hm?” he asked.

“When do you have to leave?” Emilia rephrased “You know, for that flight you’ve got to catch” she added, flashing him a slightly impish grin as she took the seat next to him, gently ticking Maisie’s tummy.

Lionel watched her for a second before he peeked down at his watch, sighing a little at the time it showed. “I’ve still got a while yet” he mused “A couple of hours at least before I absolutely have to go” he added.

“Enough time to watch me open my presents?” Luca piped up, earning a laugh from Lionel. The first question out of Luca’s mouth when he had padded down the stairs that morning had been about when he could sit down in front of the pile of presents in the living room.

Emilia tilted her head. “I thought you were waiting for your papa to get here for that?” she asked.

Luca shrugged, stuffing another piece of his pancake into his mouth. “He’ll have presents too” he pointed out as he swallowed the food “And it’s not fair that Maisie gets hers now and I have to wait” he added.

Emilia stared at him for a second, not quite sure how to respond to his points, before she let out a light sigh, nodding her head slightly. “Alright” she conceded “But only a few. Your papa is very excited about seeing you open them when he gets here” she added.

She knew how much Isaac was looking forwards to making a fuss of Luca. Since Luca had gone back to school, and Isaac had found himself busy with work, they’d only had the opportunity for a handful of video calls since Emilia, Lionel and the children had travelled back to Barcelona, and despite her and Isaac only speaking when it was absolutely necessary, she knew how much her ex-boyfriend was looking forwards to having a few days with their son.

Luca grinned through a mouthful of food, nodding his head. “Can I go and get some now?” he asked.

“Breakfast first” Lionel pointed out, not looking away from Maisie “Your mama made it especially for today” he added.

Luca huffed, but didn’t argue, quickly finishing up the last of his food before he ran through towards the living room.

Emilia watched him before she stood up, gently taking Maisie out of Lionel’s arms. “Come on” she mused “If we don’t follow him now, he’ll have opened them all” she added.

Lionel nodded his head, dutifully following as Emilia carried Maisie through to the living room, taking a seat on the couch behind Luca who was eagerly perusing the pile of presents, attempting to determine which one he wanted to open first.

Pulling the zip around on his backpack, Lionel quirked a small smile to himself, his stare drifting towards where Luca sat, patiently showing Maisie how to play with one of the new toys that she had gotten that morning. It had been hectic, with him needing to leave early in the day, all of the little milestones that were associated with Maisie’s first birthday had been squeezed into a matter of hours, and it bothered Lionel more than he wanted to let on, even if he knew that it wasn’t something that could be helped. He hated that he was missing it.

Leaning back in his seat slightly, he watched Luca as he cooed at Maisie, something which made the little girl grin, squeaking her new favourite word, ‘Luca’, which was missing the ‘L’, back at him. Lionel couldn’t stop his smile growing. He could still remember how excited Luca had been when Maisie had chirped his name for the first time.

“You OK?”

Lionel, who’d drifted off slightly, jumped at the sound of Emilia’s voice, something which made her giggle as she sat down on the arm of the chair, leaning over to kiss the top of his head. “Sorry” she mumbled.

Lionel leant into her for a second, smiling when she pressed another kiss against his head. “Are you going to be OK?” he mumbled, his fingers idly tracing patterns against her thigh.

Emilia nodded, gently twisting a longer strand of his hair around her finger. “Isaac’s only going to be here for an hour or so” she mused “Apparently, him and Luca have big plans tomorrow. My parents will be here longer, but I don’t mind them as much. I’ve already spoken to your mama and she’s going to video call later so that she can say happy birthday to both of them. Their presents are apparently on their way. I’ve not heard from Jordi yet, but you know him, he’s useless at forwards planning” she added, smiling faintly at her own teasing.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, staying quiet.

Emilia let out a sigh, kissing his temple softly. “It’s just one” she whispered “Luca will have so many people to fuss over him, which I really think he missed last year, and Maisie won’t even remember it” she added.

“I’ll remember it” Lionel replied, smiling up at her sadly.

Emilia leant forwards, kissing his forehead softly. “There’ll be next year” she whispered “And a whole load of years after that where you will be front and centre, making the biggest fuss. It’s just one” she added.

Lionel nodded his head before he stood up, swinging his backpack over his shoulder. “Have someone record when you sing happy birthday, I want to see it, even if I can’t be here for it” he noted “And save me a piece of the cake. It looks incredible” he added, smiling at her impishly.

Emilia rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop herself from smiling as she nodded. “I’ll see what I can do” she chirped “You know how my papa and Luca are when there are sweets on offer” she added.

Lionel laughed before he stepped towards the children, leaning over to press a kiss to Maisie’s head before Luca stood up, hugging him tightly. Emilia just sat and watched the three of them, a little amazed by how far things had come in a little over a year. The move to Barcelona had been daunting. She hadn’t known how Luca would adapt to being so far away from everyone and everything he knew. She didn’t know whether things between her and Lionel, which were still new despite her being pregnant with Maisie, would work out. She hadn’t known if the move was something that she was ready for, but watching the three of them together, she knew that it had been the right decision, no matter all the doubts and concerns that she had had. She and Luca, with Lionel and Maisie, had found themselves a place to call home.