Can’t Look Away

27: You’re Going To Have To Get Used To That

“Sasha?” Cassie’s voice was soft as she tapped her hand against Sasha’s closed bedroom door, her eyes fixed on Lionel who stood next to her, a frown on his face.

He had been trying to get a hold of Sasha all morning, but his calls and texts had gone unanswered, something which had increased the worry in the pit of his stomach. He knew that she had been worried about the previous night. She hadn’t quite know where she and Leila would stand, and he knew that that had unsettled her, but the fact that she hadn’t picked up his calls worried him. It had happened before. Leila had said something that had put Sasha off balance, and Sasha responded to that by trying to create distance between her and Lionel, and he didn’t want to let it happen again. Whatever Leila had told her wouldn’t effect the way he felt about Sasha.

“Sasha, come on” Cassie said, tapping the door again “Leo’s come to see you. If you leave him out here with me, I will tell him all of your embarrassing stories” she added.

For a moment, the only response was silence, but before Cassie had a chance to knock again, the door inched open slightly.

“You’re alive” Cassie chirped.

Sasha rolled her eyes, offering Cassie a glare, before she turned to Lionel, offering him a shaky smile. “You didn’t need to come all the way over here” she mused “I would have called you back eventually. I’ve been asleep most of the morning, trying to fight off a migraine” she added.

Lionel smiled at her gently, shrugging his shoulders bashfully. “I don’t mind” he mused.

Sasha hesitated for a second before she opened the door a little wider. “Come in” she said softly “Since you came all this way” she added, her mouth quirking up into the faintest of smiles.

Lionel stepped past her, allowing Cassie the chance to send Sasha a look whilst his back was to her. “Talk to him” she mouthed.

Sasha acknowledged the look with a slightly tight nod before she followed Lionel back into the bedroom, pushing the door closed behind them. Running a hand back through her hair, she watched Lionel wander around the room before he settled into the chair in the corner, looking up at her curiously. “How bad is your headache?” he asked.

Sasha shifted her feet. It wasn’t a complete lie. The lack of sleep that she had gotten had left a dull ache in her head, but she hadn’t been completely honest when she had told him it’d kept her asleep. She had seen his calls, his texts, and she hesitated in answering them, still not entirely sure that her head was around what Leila had told her the previous night. She knew that she shouldn’t have entirely surprised by the revelation. She had suspected for a while that there was more to Leila’s relationship with Lionel than her sister had admitted, but still it had surprised her, and it hurt her that Leila hadn’t just admitted it.

Shrugging her shoulders, she sighed gently. “It’s not great” she replied.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “Can I do anything?” he asked.

Sasha shook her head wordlessly, squeezing her eyes shut.

Lionel watched her for a moment before he stood up and stepped close, his fingertips pushing her hair back off of her forehead. Leaning forwards, he kissed her forehead gently. “What happened?” he asked gently.

Sasha’s fingers gripped his t-shirt to keep him close so that she didn’t have to look up at him. “I talked to Leila” she admitted quietly “She...she admitted what I’d always thought. She loved you” she added.

Lionel’s hand gently cradled the back of her head, his fingers weaving through her hair. He didn’t want his reaction to convey the surprise he felt. It was only mild. The visit that he had paid to Leila, and her attempts to avoid talking about her feeling for him had hinted that he’s possibly missed something when they’d been together, but he didn’t want Sasha to think that the revelation mattered or changed anything between them. It didn’t.

“I never knew” Lionel murmured “And I never felt the same way, Sasha. You know that” he added.

“I know” Sasha whispered.

Lionel stepped back, coaxing her to look up at him. “Then what’s wrong?” he asked.

“She didn’t tell me” Sasha whispered “She wasn’t upfront with me. Instead, she took little swipes at us. She tried to make me so unsure that I’d ruin this myself, and I almost did” she added.

“You didn’t, though” Lionel pointed out “We're fine, Sasha. Better than fine” he added.

Sasha shook her head softly, her grip on his t-shirt loosening before she stepped back.

Lionel followed her, matching her step back with one forwards. “Don’t do it” he said softly “Please, Sasha” he added.

He could already tell where the conversation was heading and wanted to stop it. He knew it was what she did. When they got too close, and things showed the slightest sign of becoming complicated, her immediate reaction was to try and pull away in self preservation, and he wanted to try and talk her out of it. Leila’s admission changed nothing between them. He had always had a slightly complicated past with her sister, Sasha had known that going in, and a revelation about Leila’s feelings towards him three years previous should have had no bearing on what was growing between them.

Sasha ducked her head, staring down at the floor as she moved back from him a little more. “Why not?” she asked “I mean, do you really want to keep having these conversations with me?” she asked.

“I’ll have them as often as you need them to know that I am not just going to walk away” Lionel replied firmly.

The tone of his voice coaxed Sasha’s head back up, her eyes meeting his. “You can’t mean that” she protested softly.

“Why?” Lionel prodded “Because Olivier gave up on you? Because Alex did too?” he added.

Sasha wilted slightly, causing Lionel to step forwards, gently capturing one of her hands in his. “I am not them, Sasha” he said gently “And you’re going to have to get used to that. They might have quit easily, but I won’t. I promise you that” he insisted before he lifted her hand, kissing it gently.

Sasha just stared at him, not quite sure that she could think of anything to say to that.

Lionel smiled at her gently. “What?” he prodded.

“Nothing” Sasha said quickly, too quickly “I just...I didn’t expect this” she added. She had spoken quickly to stop herself from blurting out those three words that had been on her mind for a while.

Lionel used her hand to pull her close, hugging her happily. “I’m here, Sasha” he said “I’m not going anywhere” he added.

Sasha melted into the hug easily, hoping that the more times he said it, the more she would start to believe him.