Can’t Look Away

19: I Thought I Would Surprise You

“It’s the middle of the day. You can definitely park closer than this”

Lionel, who was locking his car, looked over the top of it, grinning at Sasha who stood on the pavement, smiling back at him happily. It was the first day that they had had the chance to spend together in a little while. Sasha’s shifts had a habit of falling on days when Lionel was free, and his matches fell on days when she was, but when they’d discovered that they were both free that day, they hadn’t hesitated in making plans, more than slightly keen to spend more time together. They were still getting back to normal. Despite the fact that their fight had ended with the two of them making their relationship official, it had still knocked them both, and it’d taken them some time to settle again, but they seemed to be getting back to normal, something which pleased Lionel. He knew that it would take time, but he wanted Sasha to be confident in them.

“I’ve told you, I like the walk” Lionel retorted.

Sasha shook her head amusedly, watching him step towards her. “You’re not just leaving me at the door” she mused “Cassie’s heading out soon, so I thought maybe you’d want to stay around for a little while” she added.

Lionel gently knotted their fingers together before they started the short walk back towards her house. “Where’s Cassie going?” he prodded.

“She’s got a date” Sasha replied “She’s been crushing on this guy for ages and he finally asked her out. She’s over the moon” she added warmly.

Lionel smiled at the affection in her voice. “I didn’t take you away from helping her get ready, did I?” he prodded.

Sasha’s laugh was bright and playful. “Even if I had been free, I don’t think she would let me anywhere near it” she mused “I am not very good with advice for first dates, and I am even worse at helping her choose outfits” she added.

Lionel’s thumb gently brushed over the back of her hand, allowing the conversation to fade into a comfortable silence which was only broken when Sasha’s phone beeped from her bag. Shaking her head, she gently tugged her hand back from his and reached into the bag, rolling her eyes at the sight of Cassie’s name on the screen. “I’m around the corner” she muttered.

“She doesn’t know that” Lionel quipped, smiling impishly.

“Maybe not” Sasha replied, declining the call and placing the phone back into her bag “But I am sure that whatever she’s got to say, it can wait the few minutes it takes us to get back” she added.

Lionel recaptured her hand, happily swinging it between them until they reached the house. Offering him a soft smile, Sasha fished the keys out of her bag, but before she had a chance to put them into the lock, the door swung open, causing her to step back slightly. “James?” she spluttered.

James, who’d been looking over Sasha’s head at Lionel, slowly turned his attention towards his little sister, a teasing smirk kicking up the corner of his mouth. “I didn’t realise that you had plans, Sasha” he mused “Ellie’s out of town, spending time with her parents, but I had to stay behind to work, and I thought I could use the time to catch up with my baby sister. I thought I would surprise you” he added.

Sasha merely blinked at him, something which made James laugh. “I guess I will do the introduction, then” he quipped.

Sasha cleared her throat before she shook her head, trying, and failing, to hide the pink tint on her cheeks. “You didn’t think to call?” she asked softly.

“I didn’t think you’d have plans” James replied, his voice softening a little “I can go” he added.

“You don’t have to do that” Sasha protested “ time, call” she added.

James nodded his head. “Of course” he noted “Now, are you going to…?” he trailed off, tipping his head towards Lionel who’d been watching the two of them quietly.

Sasha’s lips quirked into a bashful smile before she ducked her head. “James, this is Leo” she said softly “My boyfriend” she added.

Lionel’s face brightened slightly. He hadn’t expected her to say it, but he liked that she had. It was the first time he’d heard her say it out loud and he doubted that he would tire of hearing her say it. Clearing his throat to try and hide his goofy smile, he stepped forwards, offering his hand out towards James who took it without hesitation. “It’s good to meet you” he said “Sasha’s talked about you a lot” he added.

“That’s funny” James quipped impishly “Because she has never mentioned you” he added.

“James” Sasha warned.

James rolled his eyes playfully, shaking Lionel’s hand firmly. “Seriously, it’s good to meet you, too” he said “I’m sorry to have sprung it on you. I just thought I’d come and surprise my little sister, but if I am intruding...” he trailed off.

Lionel shook his head. “We’ve not eaten yet” he noted “If it’s OK with Sasha, why don’t you join us?” he asked, sparing a glance towards Sasha to make sure that he hadn’t overstepped.

Sasha smiled back at him gently. “I think I’d like that” she said “Just as long as James promises not to be an idiot” she added.

James laughed loudly. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he prodded.

“It means that you’re worse than mama and papa for embarrassing stories” Sasha replied “And I’d rather you didn’t scare Leo off. I kind of like him” she added.

James scoffed. “I’m the better sibling” he quipped “Just wait until he meets Leila” he added.

Sasha’s playful smile faded almost instantly. She didn’t quite know they would explain that Leila already knew Lionel.

Lionel watched her smile falter before he stepped between them, trying to hide it from her brother. “We should go through” he said.

James didn’t question it. He turned back into the house without a word and padded towards the living room, expecting Lionel and Sasha to follow. When he’d ducked out of sight, Lionel turned back to Sasha, his hand gently taking a hold of hers. Sasha just held his hand quietly for a few moments, comforted by his touch, before she offered him a slightly uncertain smile. “He’s not wrong” she quipped half-heartedly “He is the better sibling” she added.

Lionel stepped a little closer, hesitating for a second before he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Are you going to be OK?” he asked.

Sasha closed her eyes at the touch before she nodded, her arms wrapping around him.

Lionel held onto her, trying to offer her as much reassurance as he could, before he gently drew back. Smoothing her hair, he offered her a soft smile before he took a hold of her hand, leading her into the house.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and Twisted;;Symphony for the comments :)