All This Time

54: It’s Good To Know Where You Stand

Resting his shoulder against the door frame that led back into his bedroom, Lionel quirked a lopsided smile, taking a moment to just watch Amelia who was sat in the middle of his bed, preoccupied by whatever was on the screen of her laptop. She had stayed with him for a couple of days. The morning after the New Year’s Eve party that she had gone to, Lionel had fully expected her to tell him that she would have been more comfortable heading back to her apartment, but, much to his surprise, she had asked if he minded her staying for a few days, something that he had agreed to almost too eagerly. It was rare. Despite often proclaiming her dislike for her apartment, Amelia preferred to spend her nights there, and it meant that the idea that she wanted to stay at his place was a big deal to Lionel. It was a tiny step, but for a while, Lionel knew that he was going to have to make do with tiny steps.

“What are you staring at?”

Lionel’s eyes darted back over towards Amelia, finding her looking up at him, a shy smile playing at the corner of her lips. “Was I staring?” he quipped.

“Very obviously” Amelia teased.

Lionel laughed gently before he padded into the room, sitting down on the side of the bed. “I was just thinking about how much I like seeing you in here” he said “I could get used to it” he added.

Amelia’s teasing smile faded a little. “If that’s you asking me to move in with you, then the answer is no” she said softly.

Lionel, who’d been staring down at his feet, spluttered out a surprised laugh. It hadn’t even crossed his mind. With how obviously Amelia was still reeling from the breakup of her marriage, the prospect of him asking her about anything like them moving in together was a long way off, and he wanted her to know that he knew it. She was recovering. Slowly but surely, Amelia was putting what had happened with Fernando behind her, but he knew that she was a long way away from being ready to delve into something really serious with him, and he wanted her to know that he wasn’t going to push her. They would get there when they got there.

“What?” Lionel squeaked.

Amelia ducked her head, rubbing her forehead nervously. “I am just not ready for that yet” she continued “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love how quiet my apartment is when I am there by myself, and I do like it when you spend the night there, and when I spend the night here, but I just...I think I still need that space. I don’t think that I am ready to share my space on a permanent basis with anyone else yet. Does that make sense?” she asked, chancing a cautious look towards Lionel.

For a second, Lionel kept his stare fixed on his feet before he slowly lifted it, offering her a reassuring smile as he nodded his head. “It does” he confirmed “But, for the record, I wasn’t asking. I just like seeing you here, Amelia. We spend a lot of time at your place, and I’d like to spend a little more time here, too” he added.

Amelia’s eyes widened, but Lionel’s grin stopped the apology she was preparing to make on the tip of her tongue. Instead, she let out a bashful laugh, trying, and failing, to hide her pink cheeks. “Oh” she squeaked.

“It’s good to know where you stand, though” Lionel teased.

Amelia feigned glaring at him, something which caused Lionel to laugh before he leant over, dropping a soft kiss on the top of her head before he shuffled off of the bed. “I need to get going” he said “Stay here, though. I will only be gone for a couple of hours” he added.

“If that’s OK with you” Amelia said, turning back to her laptop.

Lionel nodded his head. “Of course it is” he replied.

Amelia lifted her head to flash him a small smile before she turned back to the computer, allowing Lionel to pad towards the door. “Wait” she squeaked.

“What?” Lionel asked.

“Do you mind going by my apartment and picking me up some more clothes?” Amelia asked “My keys are in my coat pocket” she added.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards, like he wanted to make a joke, but instead he simply nodded. He didn’t quite know how Amelia would react to a playful quip about how much easier things would be if her things were in his bedroom. “I can do that” he said.

“Thank you” Amelia replied.

Lionel offered her another warm smile before he ducked out of the room.

“Do you need something specific or can I just grab the first thing I find?” Lionel asked as he pushed his car door closed, his phone trapped between his shoulder and his ear.

“I just need some stuff that I can wear around the house” Amelia replied “I was planning on spending the next couple of days here, and as much as I like wearing your t-shirts, I should probably have some options” she added playfully.

Lionel laughed as he ducked into Amelia’s building. “So, some shorts or something?” he asked.

“Shorts are good” Amelia answered “I need underwear and socks, too. There’s a bag in my bedroom closet that you can use. Can you bring my shampoo, too? There should be a new bottle of it underneath the sink in the bathroom” she added.

“How long are you planning on staying for again?” Lionel quipped, moving up the flight of stairs towards her apartment.

“You were just saying how much you liked having me here” Amelia retorted, playing along.

Lionel let out another laugh, preparing to make another joke in return, but whatever he had been about to say died on his tongue when his eyes landed on the man who was sat in front of Amelia’s front door. Feeling his smile slide off of his face, he shook his head slightly before he sighed down the phone. “I will get what you asked for” he murmured “I’ll see you in a bit, OK?” he asked.

“Is everything OK?” Amelia asked.

Lionel flinched a little at the question. He had been hoping that she wouldn’t pick up on the change in his voice. “Yeah” he quipped.

Amelia seemed to hesitate for a moment before she said goodbye, allowing Lionel to lower the phone away from his ear before he cleared his throat, causing Fernando to lift his head, his eyes widening at the sight of Lionel. “What are you doing here, Fernando?” he asked.