The Space Between Us

34: You Didn’t Make His Mistakes

Reading the message that Amelia had sent to him, Lionel moved to lock his phone again, offering a faint, lopsided smile to the bag of food that he had placed onto her desk. Amelia hadn’t known that he was coming. When they last seen one another the previous night, they had agreed that it was probably going to be a few days before they had the chance to get together again, but when something had disappeared from his schedule, he had made the decision to drop by her office, hoping that he could catch her for a little while.

They had started to spend a lot of time together. If anyone asked them, they would still insist that they weren’t quite in a relationship, and that things between them were moving slowly, but more often than not they could be found together, meaning that when the opportunity had arisen for Lionel to sneak in a few more minutes with Amelia, he’d jumped at. It was getting easier. As the weeks had passed, they had both started to feel less and less uncertain around one another, and it meant that when he thought about seeing her, instead of being hit with the fear that he was going to say or do something that could upset her, he could only feel excitement about seeing her again.

Shaking his head to himself, he shifted in his chair before he heard the office door open behind him. Turning around, he prepared to greet Amelia with a teasing quip, but it died on his tongue when he caught sight of who had actually made their way into the room.

Felicity stopped abruptly in the doorway, clearly as surprised to see him as he was to see her, before a slow, warm smile blossomed on her lips.

Lionel didn’t know what to do for a second, but Felicity answered the question for him. Without much hesitation, she stepped towards him, her arms outstretched to greet him in a hug. Lionel blinked a couple of times in surprise before he stood up and accepted the hug, flinching slightly at how enthusiastic it was.

“It’s good to see you” Felicity enthused gently.

Lionel broke the hug, a bashful smile on his face. It wasn’t what he had been expecting. Aside from Amelia’s birthday party, which had been awkward for a variety of reasons, Lionel hadn’t seen anything of her friends or family, and it meant that he had braced himself for a more frosty reception. He didn’t know what they knew about him and Amelia. He didn’t know if they knew why he’d disappeared like he had, or if they knew about his and Amelia’s new relationship, and he didn’t know how they would react to seeing him. He was braced for them to try and edge him back out of Amelia’s life again.

“You, too” Lionel said “Did you and Amelia have plans?” he asked.

Felicity shook her head. “Nothing preplanned” she mused “I was just nearby and hoped that Amelia wasn’t busy. Am I interrupting something?” she asked, tipping her head towards the bag that was sat on Amelia’s desk.

Lionel tracked her stare across the room before he ducked his head, hoping that she wouldn’t see the blush that was tracking up his cheeks. “Uh, no” he stumbled out “I was just...just nearby, like you. I hoped to catch Amelia for lunch” he added.

Felicity smiled, amused by how timid he was being. “Like a date?” she chirped.

“What?” Lionel spluttered.

Felicity gently squeezed his arm, her eyes warm as he looked up at her. “I know about you and Lia” she said “So there’s no need to look so nervous. Nora told me about your first date, and since then, Amelia’s talked about you a lot. It has been a couple of months, right?” she added encouragingly.

Lionel searched her face for a long moment before he nodded his head. “We’ve been out a few times in the last couple of months” he confirmed.

Felicity squeezed his arm again, wordlessly trying to reassure him that she wasn’t out to get him. She could see how wary he was, and she wanted him to know that there was no need for it. As long as Amelia was confident and happy in what was happening, then there was no reason for her to interfere.

“Don’t look so worried” Felicity cooed warmly “I am not here to interrogate you” she added.

Lionel opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, prepared to insist that that wasn’t what he thought, but all that came out was a soft, apologetic sigh. “I wouldn’t blame you if you were” he said after a moment “I’ve done some stupid things in the past, and after what happened with Fernando...”

“You’re not Fernando” Felicity interrupted.

Lionel blinked a couple of times, earning another soft squeeze of his arm from Felicity. “You’ve done your share of stupid things” she mused “But you’re here now, and Amelia seems pretty happy about that. You can’t compare yourself to him. You didn’t make his mistakes, and you’re not responsible for fixing them” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, causing Felicity to smile at him gently. “I know it’s hard” she mused “But you have to try and not focus on the past. Yours or Amelia’s. You’re not the new Fernando, Leo. You’re you. Amelia’s been gushing for the last couple of months about you” she added, stressing the last word with a gentle prod to his chest.

Lionel took a second before he looked up again, a goofy smile trying to break out across his features. “She’s talked to you about me?” he asked.

Felicity couldn’t help smiling back at him. “She has” she confirmed.

Lionel itched to ask what Amelia had said. He wanted to know if she thought that they were making progress, or is she was as confident as he was that they were onto a good thing, but before he had the chance to, the office door swung open again, causing both Lionel and Felicity to turn and watch as Amelia stepped into the room.

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting. My meeting overran” Amelia spoke as she moved towards Lionel, greeting him with a quick kiss.

Lionel’s cheeks flushed as Amelia stepped away, her steps faltering when she looked up and found her mother smiling at her amusedly. “Mama” she squeaked.

“Sorry” Felicity mused “I was hoping to get lunch with you, but I can see you’ve already got plans, so I will see you on Sunday?” she asked.

Amelia nodded, her cheeks pink. “Of course” she said.

Felicity waved and took a step towards the door, only to double back, a warm smile on her face. “Your match is on Saturday this weekend, isn’t it, Leo?” she prodded.

Lionel opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before he nodded. “Uh, yeah” he stumbled out.

“Then why don’t you join us?” Felicity cooed “If that’s OK with Amelia, of course” she added.

Lionel turned to look at Amelia at the same time as Felicity did, the same question shining in both of their eyes.

It took a long moment, but eventually, Amelia pushed a small, timid smile onto her face and nodded her head. “Sounds good to me” she said “Leo?” she asked.

Lionel blinked in surprise before he nodded. “Sure” he spluttered out.

Felicity beamed. “I’ll see you then, then” she gushed before she stepped out of the room, leaving both Lionel and Amelia staring after her, wondering if their relationship was ready for a step like the one they’d just agreed to take.