Can’t Look Away

31: If You Want Me There, I’ll Be There

Settling her toothbrush down into the holder, Sasha stepped back from the mirror, a familiar bashful smile on her face. It still awed her slightly. She had spent nights in Lionel’s home before, she had even started to spend them in his bed as opposed to the spare bedroom he’d offered to her the first time she’d stayed over, but still it felt a little surreal to her. There were little parts of her starting to appear throughout the house. Her toothbrush had taken up residency in his bathroom, a drawer full of her clothes had appeared in the bedroom, and a pair of her shoes sat by the front door, and whilst it’d felt overwhelming to her at first, she adored seeing little markers of their lives starting to get a little more intertwined.

Moving away from the mirror, she gathered up the clothes that she had changed out of before she padded out into the bedroom.

Lionel, who’d been scanning something on his phone, glanced up at the sound of footsteps before he watched her around the room, a soft smile playing on his lips. “Are you going to have to set an alarm?” he asked.

Sasha shook her head as she folded her clothes into the backpack at the foot of the bed. “I’ve got appointments in the morning, but they’re later than the first one this morning” she mused “I wouldn’t have stayed if I had to get up too early. I’d hate to put you through that two days in a row” she added, lifting her head to offer him a playful grin.

Lionel grinned back at her until Sasha ducked her head, pulling the zip around on her bag. “What did you think of Nolan?” she prodded, breaking the comfortable silence which had passed for a few beats between them.

“He seemed great” Lionel replied, sitting up against the headboard “He’s a nice compliment to Cassie, and he seemed to really like her. What did you think?” he prodded.

“The same thing” Sasha replied as she padded back across the room, retrieving a hairbrush from somewhere inside of the bathroom “I liked him, a lot” she added.

“What did you think about the prospect of having dinner with them next weekend?” Lionel asked “I mean, you didn’t really say much when Cassie bought it up. I think she thought that you weren’t interested” he added.

Cassie had been excited. With Nolan getting along with both Lionel and Sasha, she had been thrilled to suggest that the four of them ought to get together at some point for a double date, but Lionel, and Cassie, had noticed that Sasha didn’t seem to share the excitement, something which appeared to upset Cassie. It meant a lot to her. Both she and Sasha were happy, and she wanted to celebrate that, and Sasha’s reaction, or lack of one, had hurt her, and had left Lionel slightly concerned. He had thought that she would have jumped at the chance.

Sasha’s hand stilled the brush that she was running through her hair. “I...I didn’t hear her say that” she said. She had spent most of their breakfast together running through the worst case scenarios of bringing Lionel to James’s house with her when Leila and Olivier would be there too.

“She wasn’t subtle” Lionel retorted with a slightly baffled laugh.

Sasha slowly lowered the brush, setting it down on the end table, before she sat down on the edge of the bed, her back to him. “I...I was distracted” she admitted “My brother texted this morning, inviting me to dinner, and he practically demanded that I...I bring you with me” she added.

Lionel tried, but failed, to keep in the soft sigh that had built up in his throat. He could practically feel how tense the suggestion had made her. “Sasha” he said softly.

Sasha shook her head, smiling ruefully to herself. “Are you going to tell me that it’ll be fine?” she muttered.

“Don’t do that” Lionel protested “Don’t put words in my mouth” he added.

Sasha sighed, glancing at him apologetically over her shoulder. “I just don’t want to hear it” she said “I want to take you. I don’t want to have any hesitation about it, but I do. My sister loved you once, she admitted that to me, and I just...James has put this together for a reason, a good one. He could have proposed to Ellie, or gotten promoted, or whatever, and I don’t want a night that is supposed to be about him to become about something else, namely, me and you and Leila” she added, trying her best to explain the tangle of worry in her head.

There was a reason James had texted, what it was, Sasha could only guess at, but it existed and Sasha didn’t want it to get lost in the mess that existed between her, her sister and Lionel. Lionel could tell her that it would be fine, but all Sasha could envisage was excruciatingly awkward silences that even her parents wouldn’t miss.

Lionel moved into the space next to her. “Is that your way of telling me I shouldn’t come?” he asked quietly.

Sasha leant her head on his shoulder, their fingers tangling together.

Lionel kissed her head. “I wish I had that time machine” he mumbled into her hair.

Sasha smiled sadly. “To erase what happened with Leila?” she prodded.

“That, and maybe meet you a little sooner” Lionel replied, grinning against her head.

The laugh that fell out of Sasha’s mouth was tinged with a slight ruefulness. Closing her eyes, she squeezed his hand softly, letting loose another gentle sigh when another kiss landed on her head. “I want you to come” she said quietly.

Her voice was so quiet that Lionel had to ask her to repeat herself. Pulling out of their embrace, she met his eyes. “I want you to come” she repeated “I just...I don’t want the complicated bits. I want you to sit next to me at a table, to share in whatever moment James is going to have. I don’t want to have to keep leaving you behind because I am so worried about making Leila, or Olivier, uncomfortable, but I am scared of that. I’m scared of a lot, too much probably” she added, fiddling with his fingers nervously.

Lionel watched their hands, thinking over what she had said, before he leant in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “If you want me there, then I am there” he said gently “I mean, it could be disastrous, but I think it’s something we’re going to have to face eventually. If you tell me that you want me there, Sasha, I won’t hesitate. You’ve got to know that” he added.

Sasha stared down at her lap for a long moment, long enough that Lionel was sure that she’d tell him that she wasn’t quite ready to face it, but she slowly looked up at him and nodded. “Come with me” she said gently.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)