The Space Between Us

49: You Did What You Did And There’s No Changing It

Fernando didn’t answer immediately.

For a few long, silent seconds, he surveyed the scene ahead of him before his stare zeroed in on Lionel again. Blinking owlishly, he cleared his throat slightly, trying, and failing, to dislodge the lump that had climbed into it the moment that Victor had tried to block his path inside, before he stuck his hands out ahead of him, showing of the neatly wrapped gift he clutched. Clearing his throat again, he turned and offered it to Nora with a pained smile.

It was taking everything he had to keep calm. He knew what he was going to see. As soon as Victor had stepped out onto the stoop to prevent him walking through the front door like he had done a million times before, he knew why, and whilst he had tried to prepare himself for it, it had done very little to dull the pain that had flooded through him at the sight of Amelia grinning at Lionel the way she had used to grin at him. It had been fleeting. Lionel had moved to shield Amelia from him the second he had recognised it was him who’d walked into the room, but even though the sight of her smile had only been momentary, it had been enough to knock the wind out of him. He could still remember all of the times she had smiled at him like that, and he hadn’t been ready to see her smile at someone else.

“I’m sorry for the interruption” Fernando tried to keep his voice light, but he knew he had failed when Victor, who was stood at his shoulder, flinched.

“You should have called” Nora said.

Fernando nodded, pulling his gaze away from Lionel to offer Nora an apologetic smile. “I should have done” he agreed “I should have guessed that you’d be doing something tonight. I just wanted to drop this off. I didn’t want you to think Amelia just stuck my name on the label every year” he added, forcing out a laugh.

Nora stepped forwards and took the present out of his hand. “Thanks” she murmured.

The room fell silent again until Victor gently put his hand onto Fernando’s shoulder, trying to coax him out of the door. “Nando” he said quietly.

“Are you guys serious now?” Fernando asked.

“Fernando” Nora warned.

“It’s just a question” Fernando retorted.

“Nando, let’s just go” Victor encouraged.

Fernando shook his head, ducking away from the hand that Victor had put onto his shoulder. “Amelia?” he said.

Lionel shifted his weight, keeping himself between Amelia and Fernando. “Please” he said “Fernando, just go” he added. He had a million things he wanted to say. He wanted to point out that whatever was happening between him and Amelia had nothing to do with Fernando, and that he had no right to act as though he was hurt, not when he had been the one to hurt Amelia, but he knew he had to bite his tongue. He knew that the last thing that Amelia wanted was for him to get in the middle of her and Fernando.

Fernando’s eyes searched Lionel’s face for a long moment before a slow, bitter smirk filled his face. “Why should I go?” he asked “I mean, this is my friend’s house. It’s my friend’s birthday party. Why the hell should I be the one who leaves? Why can’t you go? Last time I checked, you cut off almost all contact with everyone in this room when I married Amelia, so why are you all of a sudden so welcome here?” he added.

“Maybe because he’s not a selfish idiot” Nora sneered.

“Nora” Victor protested.

“He’s here because I want him to be here”

The room fell quiet again at the sound of Amelia’s voice. Nora and Victor’s bickering silenced and Fernando’s bitter smirk softened as she stood up and stepped into the space beside Lionel. “I want Leo here” she repeated “That’s why he’s here. I care about him, and Nora and Victor care about me and my happiness, so they invited him” she added.

Fernando nodded his head slowly before he looked at Lionel again. “Did you just wait for me to screw up?” he asked.

“What?” Lionel spluttered.

“You disappeared” Fernando said “And then you reappeared after my marriage ended. Am I supposed to believe that that’s just some sort of coincidence? We both know how hopelessly in love with Amelia you were. Isn’t that why you ran away in the first place? You couldn’t stomach the thought of me making her happy” he added.

“Because you did such a good job of that, didn’t you?” Lionel sneered “I mean, what the hell went through your head, Fernando? You had the most amazing girlfriend, and you cheated on her? And then you lied, and you let her find out about everything that you’d done from the woman you cheated on her with? What sort of coward are you?” he added.

“Coward?” Fernando scoffed “You’re one to talk. You...”

“Shut up!”

Lionel and Fernando looked away from one another, their stares settling on Amelia who stood between them, her eyes full of tears that she was determinedly keeping from falling. “Just...Just shut up” she spluttered “I...I just wanted to have dinner with my friends. Is that really to much to ask?” she added, her stare meeting Fernando’s.


“I am so tired of this, Nando” Amelia interrupted “I am so tired of you, of us, hanging over me. It is done. It has been done for months, and it’s not going to change. It can’t. You broke us. You took what we had and you destroyed it, and I am so tired of you acting like there’s still something here to save. It is done, and nothing is going to change that” she added.

Fernando ducked his head, allowing another heavy silence to fill the room briefly before Amelia stepped away, leaving the room with Nora trailing after her. The room remained silence for a few more seconds, the tension between Lionel and Fernando still palpable, until Lionel followed after Nora and Amelia, leaving Fernando alone with Victor who stepped up to his side, gently placing a hand on his shoulder. “You can’t keep doing this” he said softly “I know how you feel about her, but...” he trailed off.

Fernando nodded his head sombrely. “I know” he said “I just...I’d give anything to have a do-over” he added.

“There’s no do-over” Victor said “You did what you did, and there’s no changing it. I know how hard it is, but you have to let her move on. It’s not fair to keep dragging her back in. She deserves to be happy, doesn’t she?” he added.

“I know I could make her happy” Fernando murmured.

Victor patted his shoulder again. “Let it go” he said “It’s for the best, for both of you” he added before the baby monitor on the table burst into life, causing Victor to sigh before he shuffled out of the room and up the stairs.

Fernando stayed behind in the silence. He knew that Victor was right. Everything he had said made sense. He had had his chance, and there was no do-over. He couldn’t go back and unhurt Amelia. He couldn’t go back and unmake the decisions he had made, but he didn’t know that it was quite as easy as letting it go.