All This Time

29: Out Of Nowhere

“You’re late”

Amelia glanced up from the stack of files she was carrying, smiling at Lionel who was settled in the chair in front of her desk. She wasn’t surprised to see him. Since their paths had crossed again, finding him in her office at least once a week had become part of their routine, and it was a part of the week that Amelia looked forwards to, even more so since their relationship had started to change. Things hadn’t changed dramatically. Even after Amelia's hint that she thought that they were moving towards being in a relationship, their interactions had remained as cautious and careful, but still Amelia found herself giddy at the thought of seeing him, something she hadn’t felt in a long time.

Padding towards her desk, Amelia placed the files down before she stepped towards Lionel, pressing a soft kiss against his cheek. “Hi” she cooed “I wasn’t expecting you today. I thought you’d come later in the week” she added.

Lionel shrugged, watching Amelia as she moved to sit in her chair. “I was nearby” he said “And we’re away later in the week. Is it OK that I am here?” he asked.

Amelia, who’d already started to root through the bag of food he had bought with him, nodded without missing a beat. “Of course it is” she mused “I was just surprised. If I had known that you were coming, I wouldn’t have let my last meeting go over time” she added.

“You’d have walked out of a meeting for me?” Lionel’s voice was warm and playful, matching the grin on his face.

Amelia scoffed playfully. “Of course I would” she quipped as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Lionel offered her a dubious look before he shook his head, laughing quietly to himself. Reaching across the desk, he collected his food and his bottle of water before he settled back into his seat, his lips still quirked up in a small smile as he took in the quiet of the room. It felt different. The first few times that he had visited Amelia's office after they’d run into one another, everything that had gone unsaid between them, about their relationship and Amelia's relationship with Fernando, had hung over the two of them, stifling whatever interactions that they had, but now that they talked, and they had talked a lot, everything felt lighter. They were still figuring things out. Neither Amelia or Lionel could quite put a label on what they were to one another, but they both knew that they were something, and for the time being, that alone was enough for them.

“What’s with the smile?”

Lionel looked up, finding Amelia staring at him, her forehead furrowed slightly. “Hm?” he hummed.

“You’re smiling at something” Amelia quipped “Can I know what it is? I’d like to” she added, a slightly shy smile on her face

Lionel admired her smile for a moment before he ducked his head, shyly fiddling with the fork which poked out of his food. “It’s nothing really” he said “I was just thinking about how things feel different now. The first time I came to see you, after...after everything had happened, this room felt heavy with all the things we weren’t saying, and now I like being here. I look forwards to this” he added, shrugging his shoulders in an attempt to appear nonchalant.

Amelia's eyes studied his face, debating for a moment what to say, before she ducked her head, failing to hide the fact that her cheeks had flushed a soft shade of pink. “You like having lunch in my office?” she asked.

“I do” Lionel confirmed “And I know you like it, too, so don’t pretend otherwise. You won’t fool me” he teased.

Amelia couldn’t have stopped herself from grinning even if she had wanted to, something which made Lionel grin back at her before he returned his focus to the container in his hand.

Amelia watched him for a couple of moments, letting a silence settle between them, before she carefully placed her food down onto her desk. “Can I ask you something?” she asked softly “You don’t have to answer, I just...I am trying to get a sense of what we’re doing. Is that OK?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate to nod his head. “Of course” he said “What do you want to know?” he asked.

Amelia fidgeted in her seat, smoothing out the material of her blouse, before she looked at him through her eyelashes. “Are these...meetings dates for you?” she asked, cringing at her own words.

The question felt awkward as she had said it, but it was one that had started to flit around her head more and more. She knew that something was happening. They spent a lot of time together, and more often than not, they kissed each other goodbye when their time together reached an end, but they had never discussed exactly what it was, and whilst Amelia was in no rush to have a heavy conversation to define their relationship, she did want to know whether or not they were on the same page. She wanted to know what the time they were spending together was to Lionel, and whether he was thinking the same things as she was.

Lionel’s eyes widened slightly, something which made Amelia shake her head, her cheeks already flushed red. “I know that’s come out of nowhere” she insisted “And if you want to forget that I asked, that’s fine. We can pretend I never said it. I just...I know it’s something, and I am not in a hurry to stick labels on it or anything, but I just want to know that you think it’s something, too” she added.

Lionel was quiet for a long moment before he nodded his head. “Yes” he said.

Amelia's forehead creased. “What?” she asked.

“You asked if I think of these...meetings as dates” Lionel clarified “I do now, yes” he added.

Amelia blinked in surprise. “Now?” she asked.

“Since the morning after your birthday” Lionel answered “Since we...we kissed for the first time. I think things changed then, but if you want me to stop thinking about it like that, then I can. We’re not in a hurry, Amelia. Whatever we are, it can move as slowly or as quickly as you need it to. You know that” he added.

Amelia stared at him for a second before a small, slow smile started to tilt the corner of her mouth upwards. “I think it, too” she admitted shyly “I just...I wanted to make sure that we’re on the same wavelength. I want us to talk about this stuff. We...we weren’t completely honest before, either of us, and I don’t want to make the same mistakes” she explained.

Lionel nodded his head in agreement before they both turned back to their food, allowing a comfortable silence to settle over them. Neither of them wanted to rush anything. For a lot of reasons, whatever was happening between them was going to move tentatively, but Lionel knew that Amelia was right. If they were going to make anything work between, then they had to communicate, they had to be honest with one another, and they had to be prepared for things to change and potentially be strange for a time whilst they tried to figure everything out.