All This Time

36: Who Do You Want To Be?

Adjusting the knot of his tie, Lionel leant back into the car seat, exhaling a quiet sigh that did nothing to alleviate the knots in the pit of his stomach. He hadn’t thought about how nervous he would be. When Amelia had turned and asked him if he wanted to be there with her, his answer had been an immediate yes, but he wished he had given it a little more thought, knowing that walking through Felicity's front door sent out a signal that their relationship was more serious than they had talked about. He had been excited to hear that Amelia wanted him there. She had mentioned the party a few times, and each time he had waited a second before saying something, half-anticipating that she could offer him an invitation, but he hadn’t really expected it, even if a little part of him had been hopeful.

He knew how big a deal it was. The house that sat only a few feet away from where he was sitting was full of Amelia’s family, and most importantly, her mother and stepfather, and he knew what his walking in there meant. It meant that it wasn’t just a casual thing, that he and Amelia were doing something more than just spending time together and sneaking the odd kiss here and there. It meant that they were in a relationship, one that Amelia was taking seriously enough to want to take him home to the most important people in her life.

Squeezing his eyes closed, he spent a few seconds trying to work up the nerve to push the car door open, before a light tap against the glass caught his attention, causing him to blink his eyes open to glance up at Amelia who was smiling down at him. With a bashful smile, he tilted his head, wordlessly offering her the empty passenger seat at his side. Amelia nodded and padded around the car before she climbed inside, smoothing out her dress as she sat down.

Lionel watched her for a moment, a faint smile pulling at the corner of his mouth, before he shook his head, returning his stare to the steering wheel ahead of him. “You didn’t have to come and check on me” he said quietly.

“You texted to tell me that you were outside a while ago” Amelia replied “I guess I was worried that you’d driven off” she added, flashing him a small smile to reassure him that she was just teasing.

Lionel huffed out a laugh. “The thought crossed my mind” he admitted.

The small smile that had been dancing on Amelia's lips faded slightly as she reached a hand up, gently tucking a curl of her hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to come inside” she said “I’d understand” she added.

Lionel opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, half tempted to accept the offer, before he let out a quiet sigh, his hand adjusting the knot of his tie again. “If I go inside, who am I?” he asked.

Amelia’s lips quirked upwards, amused by the joke in her head, but she didn’t say it aloud. One look at the anxious expression on Lionel’s face was enough to convince her that it was a bad idea. She knew why he was nervous. She had had the same thoughts, the same worries, since she had extended the invitation to him, and she knew that they had to talk about it. She couldn’t let him walk inside without knowing who he was to her, and her family, once he got inside.

It was a big question. Until then, their relationship had been something they were both content to play down. They were spending time together, but neither of them had really admitted to much beyond that, and Amelia knew that it was something they needed to agree on before they crossed her parents’ threshold. Being vague wasn’t going to help them. Felicity was already concerned, and seeing Amelia and Lionel on two different wavelengths wasn’t going to do anything to ease it, and it meant that they had to talk about it. They had to know where they really stood.

Ducking her head, Amelia fiddled with the bottom of her dress for a few seconds before she cautiously glanced over at Lionel. “Who do you want to be?” she asked quietly.

Lionel blew out a sigh, nervously flexing his hands around the steering wheel in front of him. “I think the question ought to be, who do you want me to be?” he asked “If I am your friend who you’ve bought with you for moral support, that’s fine. I just need to know before we go inside” he added.

Amelia was quiet for a moment before she shook her head. “I didn’t bring you here as my friend” she said “If I was going to bring someone for that, I would have brought Molly. There would be a lot fewer questions with her here. I bought you here because I want you to be here with me, because...because I care about you, and because I thought that this would be made better by your presence. I like having you around, and I don’t want to tell people that you’re my friend, because it doesn’t feel like the right word any more” she explained, grimacing at her inability to explain herself better.

Lionel watched her face, seeing the moment that her cheeks flushed a soft shade of pink even in the dim light of his car, before he tilted his head, a half-amused, half-nervous smile on his face. “What word do you want to use, then?” he posed.

Amelia turned, meeting his eyes with a shy grin. “You know which one” she said.

“Maybe I have an idea” Lionel replied with a slow nod “But I want you to say it, just so I can be sure that I am not making a fool of myself” he added.

Amelia shyly rolled her eyes, her hand nervously resting on her forehead. “I was thinking that maybe, if someone asks, then I would maybe...possibly say that you were kind of my boyfriend” she babbled “I mean, I don’t know how many people will actually ask. I think people will probably assume, but if they did, that’d be what I would say to them, providing that that is alright with you” she added.

Lionel had tried his hardest to keep his cool, but still the starts of a smile could be seen on his face. “I...I think that I’d be alright with that” he said.

Amelia smiled at him before she gently took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently. “Are you ready to head inside now, boyfriend?” she asked.

Lionel squeezed her hand in reply. “As ready as I can be, girlfriend” he teased with a soft smile.