Can’t Look Away

24: Is There Any Chance We Can Pretend I Didn’t Say It?

“I don’t know why I said that” Sasha’s voice was small as she shook her head, her eyes fluttering closed in embarrassment. The silence still lingered heavily in the air. No one had quite known what to say after Sasha’s attempt at a joke had fallen flat, and it’d only served to increase the knot in the pit of her stomach. She hadn’t thought that it would sound as sad as it had. She knew that the subject of her sister would inevitably come up in conversation, and she had thought that if she got it out early, then it’d be easier to get past it, but all it had done was cause things to feel awkward, something which made her want to turn around and run.

“Sasha” Lionel said softly, his hand rubbing her back comfortingly.

Sasha shifted away from his hand slightly. “I’m sorry” she said gently “Is there any chance that we can pretend I didn’t say it? I really hate that I have put my foot in this already. I’m really nervous, and I...I was trying to broach the elephant in the room early so that we could get it out of the way, but it just...Can we start over?” she added, lifting her head to look at Luis and Sofia hopefully.

Sofia smiled sympathetically. “Of course” she mused “It’s good to meet you, Sasha” she added.

Sasha tucked her hair off of her face shyly, trying, and failing, to hide the pink that had slowly started to creep up her cheeks. “It’s lovely to meet the both of you, too” she replied “You’re the first friends of Leo’s that I’ve met” she added.

“Well, he’s started with the best” Luis’s voice was warm and playful, trying to put Sasha, who still looked tense, at ease.

Sasha laughed lightly, but still flinched ever so slightly when Lionel’s hand settled on her back again, offering it a soft stroke. She felt like she had embarrassed him, and couldn’t bear the thought of turning around and seeing the disappointment in his face. Subtly sidestepping his touch, she shrugged out of her jacket before she hung it over the back of the empty chair and sat down.

Lionel’s forehead furrowed, but he didn’t say anything. Instead, he slipped into the seat beside her, watching as she tentatively smiled at Luis’s attempts to start a conversation. He hoped that, as the night progressed, she would relax. He could see the tension in her shoulders, in her slightly hesitant smiles, and he hoped that the only thing she needed to ease it was time. Luis and Sofia would like her, Lionel had no doubt about that, and he hoped that, with time, she would begin to see it.

“Where’s Cassie tonight?” Lionel asked as he stopped his car outside of Sasha’s house. She had been quiet all the way home. Aside from a comment about him being able to park outside of the house, she had barely uttered two words, and it unsettled Lionel slightly. She had relaxed into the evening eventually. After a more than slightly bumpy start, she had started to easily make conversation with his friends, and both Luis and Sofia had told him how much they’d liked her when they'd departed, but once she had slipped into the passenger seat of his car, she had withdrawn.

“Nolan’s” Sasha replied quietly “His room-mate's away” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly as he slipped the keys out of the ignition and pushed the door open, climbing out of the car.

Sasha watched him for a moment before she followed his lead, climbing out of the car and following him up towards the front door. “Did you want to come inside?” she asked softly as she looked through her bag for her keys.

“Is that OK?” Lionel asked.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Sasha asked “Cassie’s out” she added, unlocking the door and stepping inside.

“You’ve been weird with me” Lionel replied, following her over the threshold.

“Have I?” Sasha squeaked.

“You know you have been” Lionel quipped knowingly. The tone of her voice told him that she knew it.

Sasha busied herself with taking off her shoes so that she didn’t have to answer immediately. Gathering them in her hand, she moved to settle them on the rack beside the door before she turned back towards him, her eyes set on the floor. “I’m sorry” she said gently.

Lionel frowned softly. “What are you sorry for?” he asked.

“I embarrassed you” Sasha replied.


“I was just...I was so nervous” Sasha interrupted.

Lionel’s lips quirked up into a soft smile before he stepped towards her, his fingers gently tucking her hair behind her ear. “You didn’t embarrass me, Sasha” he said softly.

Sasha’s eyes slowly met his, searching them for a moment.

Lionel smiled at her before he leant forwards, touching a soft kiss to the top of her head. “It wasn’t the best thing you could have said, especially since I had just warned them not to bring Leila up, but it really doesn’t matter” he murmured into her hair “I was just glad that you came. I’ve wanted you to meet them for a little while, and I am glad that you did. They loved you” he added.

Sasha’s arms wrapped around him slowly, and Lionel returned the favour, lingering in the embrace until Sasha drew back slightly. Her stare moved between his eyes and his lips a couple of times before she leant into him, starting a slow kiss. Lionel melted into it without hesitation, kissing her gently until she pulled back, a slightly bashful smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. “Can you stay?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head without hesitation. “I can” he confirmed.

“Do you want to?” Sasha asked “I mean, you don’t have to, but I just thought...” she trailed off, pink slowly creeping up her cheeks.

Lionel’s smile was as shy as her voice as he nodded his head. “I’d like to” he said.

Sasha let out a slightly nervous laugh before she stepped towards the foot of the stairs. Stopping, she held her hand out towards him. Lionel hesitated for a second before he placed his hand in hers, allowing her to slowly guide him up the stairs until the reached her bedroom door.