Can’t Look Away

46: Have You Told Her That?

“I can’t get over how tiny she is”

Lionel, who was perched on the arm of the sofa next to Sasha, smiled gently, watching as she fussed over Ivy’s dress. She looked completely at ease. Ellie had disappeared to the kitchen not long after they had arrived, needing to answer a phone call, and Sasha hadn’t hesitated in taking her niece into her arms, something which had caused Lionel’s stomach to flip as it had done every time he had seen Sasha with her niece since the little girl had arrived a couple of weeks previous. The thought seemed to be stuck on his mind. No matter how many times he reminded himself of Sasha’s wariness at moving things too quickly, he couldn’t seem to shake it, but he had kept trying to hide it. He had little doubt that if he mentioned that he was thinking about them having a baby, Sasha would run a mile.

“You’re a midwife” Lionel kept his voice quiet, wary of waking Ivy “You see newborns all the time. She isn’t that small, is she?” he prodded.

Sasha didn’t look up from Ivy as she shook her head. “She’s a good size and weight” she replied “I think it’s just that she’s James and Ellie’s. It’s kind of surreal that my older brother is someone’s father” she added.

Lionel nodded his head, allowing the moment to dissolve into a comfortable silence that was only broken when Sasha’s phone rumbled into her pocket. Letting out a quiet sigh, she carefully moved Ivy so that she could pull it out before she shook her head, glancing up at Lionel. “I need to take this” she said “Can you…?” she trailed off, tipping her head towards Ivy.

Lionel blinked a couple of times before he nodded, carefully taking Ivy out of her arms.

Sasha gently guided his arms into position, offering him a soft smile, before she stepped out of the room, talking quietly into her phone.

Lionel listened to her voice drift away, but his stare was settled on Ivy whose eyes fluttered open briefly before she let out a soft sigh, contently falling asleep again.

“Where are Ellie and Sasha?”

Lionel’s head whipped up, his stare landing on James who strolled into the room, stifling a yawn into his hand. “Ellie disappeared to take a call, and Sasha’s just stepped out to do the same” he replied “Do you want to take her back?” he prodded, tipping his head towards Ivy.

James, who’d plopped down into an armchair across the room, smiled through another yawn and shook his head. “She’s asleep for the first time all morning” he quipped “I’m not going to risk waking her. Just let me know if you start to smell something. She’s tiny, but she can clear a room” he added impishly.

Lionel smiled. “Sasha says that she’s running you ragged” he mused.

“She is” James confirmed with a nod “But I don’t think Ellie or I would change it. Don’t get me wrong, I would love more than an hour of sleep before she starts up again, but it’s still pretty wonderful. Ellie and I tried for a while before we found out that she was expecting, so I’d spent a lot of time imagining what it’d be like, and it’s surpassed all of my expectations. She’s wonderful” he added, directing a doting smile towards Ivy.

Lionel followed his stare, marvelling at Ivy.

“Are you and my sister thinking of having babies?” James asked, breaking the silence.

Lionel’s lips quirked slightly. “Have you asked Olivier that?” he prodded.

James chuckled. “I would if he had come to see Ivy, but as yet, he hasn’t” he replied.

“He hasn’t?” Lionel prodded.

“Leila hasn’t either” James replied “They’ve been away, but they’re both coming over as soon as they get back” he added.

Lionel nodded, but didn’t say anything.

James tilted his head, a curious smile on his face. He knew that Lionel was attempting to deflect. “Are you thinking about it?” he repeated.

Lionel gently brushed his finger over Ivy’s foot before he lifted his shoulders, letting them fall in a small shrug. “It’s crossed my mind” he replied “I mean, seeing Sasha holding Ivy, it’s got me thinking, but it’s not going to happen for a while” he added.

James nodded his head slowly. “You don’t sound thrilled about that” he pointed out.

Lionel shifted in his seat uncomfortably, causing Ivy to stir before she settled again. “I understand why she wants to wait” he replied quietly “After the way things were with Alex, and how that ended, I understand that us running into things would make her wary, and I’d hate to do that to her” he added.

“But?” James prodded.

Lionel’s smile was small and rueful. “Sasha has a plan” he replied “One that’s got the prospect of us having a child a few years off and I...I am not sure I want to wait a few years” he confessed.

James lifted an eyebrow. “Have you told her that?” he asked.

Lionel shook his head instantly. “I don’t want her to think that I am pressuring her” he noted “Besides, if I told her now, she would probably just put it down to the fact that this little one has come along. She’d say I was getting carried away” he added, smiling softly at the face Ivy was pulling in her sleep.

James watched him with Ivy for a few moments. “She’d make a wonderful mother” he commented.

Lionel nodded. “I know she would” he mused.

“You should talk to her” James said.

Lionel shook his head. “I don’t want to scare her off” he admitted “Things are the best they’ve been between us right now. I don’t want to be the one to ruin it” he added.

James thought about saying something else, but he stopped himself, something in the doorway catching his eye.

“I’m worried that if I tell her how I feel, then she’ll try and pull away. She does that, I am sure that you know that. When things get complicated, her default is to try and put distance between us, and I don’t think I could bear seeing that happen now. Things are so good, James” Lionel continued, oblivious to the fact that James was staring at Sasha who stood just outside of the room.

Seeing that her brother’s eyes were on her, she pressed a finger to her lips, wordlessly asking him not to say anything.

James nodded once, glancing back towards Lionel. “You can’t just hide your feelings from her” he said.

“If it means things still being good, I can” Lionel replied “I love her so much, James” he added.

James glanced back at Sasha, seeing the sad smile on her face. “I know she loves you too” he mused “And I think that, if you just talked to her, then you’d be able to figure it out. You’re wonderful together and I don’t think anyone doubts that this is for keeps” he added.

Lionel finally looked up, but by the time he did, James’s stare was back on him. “I sometimes worry that Sasha does” he admitted “Sometimes I get the sense she’s waiting for me to make a mistake, like she’s expecting it” he added.

Sasha stepped through the door then, pulling Lionel’s attention up towards her.

While they stared at one another, James pushed himself up, sweeping Ivy into his arms and out of the room.

Lionel watched the other man out of the room before he refocussed on Sasha, letting out a soft sigh. “How much of that did you hear?” he asked.