Can’t Look Away

44: I Don’t Want You To See It Like That

Gently draping a blanket over Sasha’s sleeping body, Lionel quirked a faintly amused smile, a soft sigh falling out of his mouth. It wasn’t the first time that he’d found her, sound asleep on the couch instead of in their bed after a night shift, but he hadn’t said anything about it. It was an adjustment. Whilst they had both spent nights at one another’s places, living together was different, and he knew that for a while, they’d both be trying to figure out how things worked now that his place was their place. He wanted Sasha to be comfortable. He didn’t want her to worry, like he knew she did, about waking him up inadvertently in the middle of the night, but he knew that he couldn’t push her into it. Eventually, walking up the stairs and crawling into bed next to him would become second nature and he just had to let it happen.

After he had made sure that the blanket covered her, he gently crouched down next to her, tucking her hair off of her face so that he could touch a gentle kiss to her temple.

“Leo?” Sasha mumbled sleepily.

Lionel leant back slightly, watching her eyes flutter open before he quirked a soft grin. “Hey, sleepy” he greeted softly.

Sasha squeezed her eyes closed again, trying to hide them from the sunlight that came through the blinds. “What time is it?” she asked.

“A little after eight” Lionel replied.

Sasha let out a soft groan as she shuffled into a sitting position. “I only got in about an hour ago” she complained “I sat down for a few minutes and I must have fallen asleep” she added.

Lionel smiled a little. She had said the same thing every time he’d found her asleep there. “I didn’t mean to wake you” he mused “I just wanted to make sure that you were warm enough. It can be quite cool down here first thing in the morning” he added.

“I like it cool” Sasha replied through a yawn.

Lionel blinked a couple of times. “I’ve always kept things warm” he noted “Why’d you never ask me to turn it down a bit?” he asked.

Sasha’s answering shrug was nonchalant. “It’s your place” she replied.

The soft smile that Lionel had had on his face sobered slightly. They had been living together for a few weeks. Just before the new season had started up, he’d helped Sasha move her stuff into his home, and whilst there’d been a few teething problems, he had thought that she was slowly, but surely settling in, something her referring to it as ‘his place’ undermined. He didn’t want her to think of it that way. She wasn’t a guest, she wasn’t just staying there, she was living there, and he didn’t want her to feel as though she had to keep things the way he’d had them before. He wanted her to act like she had done when he’d seen her in her house or apartment.

Sasha, who’d been trying to stifle another yawn, noticed the change in his expression, causing her to frown slightly. “Did I say something?” she asked.

Lionel sighed gently, moving to sit on the edge of the couch next to her. “It’s nothing” he mused “You should head upstairs. I’ll shower in the spare room” he added.

Sasha shook her head. “You’re being weird” she mumbled sleepily, her forehead falling onto his shoulder.

“You need some sleep” Lionel mumbled, kissing the top of her head gently.

Sasha hummed in agreement before she lifted her head, blinking at him tiredly. “So, tell me quickly” she mused “Then, I can go to bed” she added.

Lionel sighed as Sasha gently twined her fingers through his. Staring at their interlocked hands, he took a moment to think before he shook his head. “It’s not ‘my’ place any more” he said gently “I don’t want you to see it like that” he added.

“The temperature doesn’t bother me” Sasha spluttered.

“I know that you didn’t just fall asleep down here, Sasha” Lionel argued softly “I know that you’re so scared about waking me up when you come in from work that you hide down here” he added.

Sasha pulled away slightly at the accusation, but Lionel kept her hand firmly in his, squeezing it to let her know that he wasn’t trying to start a fight. He just wanted to talk. Sasha eyed their hands, her expression wary, before slowly, her face melted into something familiarly nervous. At the sight of her face, Lionel shifted closer, his thumb gently stroking the back of her hand. “Talk to me” he coaxed softly.

“I like it here” Sasha replied quietly “I know where everything is. I am comfortable here, but it being my home? That feels different” she added.

“Can I do anything?” Lionel asked hopefully. He wanted her to feel comfortable.

Sasha offered him a bashful smile and a shrug. “It’s like everything else” she mused “I’ll get used to it, but it will take time. I don’t want you to think that I am not happy to be here, because I am. I’m happy you asked, Leo, and happy that I said yes. It’ll just be weird for me for a while. Can you bear with me?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate in nodding, a gentle grin on his face. “Of course I can” he mused.

Sasha grinned back at him before she leant forwards, kissing the side of his nose softly. “I’m going to go up to our bed” she mumbled, emphasising the word ‘our’ which caused Lionel’s soft smile to widen a fraction.

“Good” Lionel replied “I’ve got training this morning, but I ought to be home around lunch time. I’ll bring something home with me” he added.

Sasha placed a kiss at the corner of his mouth, smiling against it. “You understand me” she cooed softly.

Lionel laughed. “I don’t think I’ve got you all figured out yet, but I have learned a few things in the past few months” he quipped “I’d be a pretty terrible boyfriend if I hadn’t” he added.

Sasha shook her head, nuzzling closer as she wrapped her arms around him, her head tucking against his chest. “You’re my best boyfriend” she mumbled, her voice growing heavier with sleep “I like you best” she added through a yawn.

Lionel knew it wasn’t much. Sasha’s list of exes was short, and the names that were on it weren’t any kind of competition, but hearing it still meant an awful lot to him. Shaking his head, he listened to her yawn again before he squeezed her gently, marvelling at the gentle laugh she let out in response.