The Space Between Us

55: No One Knows It Better Than You

“Can I get you anything?”

Fernando, who’d been staring dazedly around Amelia’s dark apartment, jumped at the sound of her voice before he turned around, watching her shuffle her feet as she lingered a few paces away from him. He wasn’t surprised by the distance. Since Gianna had appeared at their shared home, Amelia had refused to be anywhere near him, but the pain usually caused by the chasm between them was intensified in that moment. He just wanted her. From the moment that his mother had tearfully announced what had happened, that his father was no longer around, the only person Fernando had wanted to see was Amelia, and he hated that she was still stood so far away from him. All he wanted was for her to wrap him in her arms and tell him that it was going to be OK.

Sniffling, he wiped his eyes with his hand again before he nodded. “A glass of water?” he said hoarsely.

Amelia nodded, not meeting his eyes. “I’ll grab you one” she mused “You can sit on the sofa. There’s tissues on the coffee table” she added before she ducked out of the room.

Fernando stared after her for a beat before he shuffled through to the living room. Pulling his jacket off, he hung it over the back of the sofa before he stopped, his stare settling on the shelf of photographs which was hung over the sofa. He recognised a couple of them. A picture of Amelia with her nephew, Charlie, just after he had been born, and one taken of her and Nora a handful of years previous had been on a similar shelf in their home, but the one in the centre, the one that had caught his attention, was new.

It was recent, Amelia’s hair was exactly the same in the picture as it was that night, but that wasn’t what had captured his attention. She looked happy. For the first time since Gianna had shown up, the smile on her face was the genuine article, the smile that Fernando had fallen in love with, and it was hard for him to see because it wasn’t directed at her sister, or her friend. It was for Lionel. He knew it shouldn’t have hurt like it did. Victor had been telling him for a long time that he thought that what Lionel and Amelia had was real, and was likely to last for a long time, but it hadn’t felt real until then.


Fernando looked up at the sound of his name, finding Amelia lingering a few steps away from him, a mug in her hand. Shaking his head, he put on a faint smile before he took a step towards her, gently taking the cup out of her hand. “No glasses?” he asked as he moved to sit on the sofa.

“I only have two” Amelia admitted “They’re in the sink” she added.

Fernando just nodded his head slowly, fighting with everything he had to ask if the second glass had been used by Lionel.

Amelia hesitated for a second before she stepped towards the sofa, settling in the space next to him. “Can...Can I ask what happened?” she asked gently.

Fernando exhaled a heavy sigh, rubbing a hand over his head. “We think it was probably a heart attack” he said “We don’t know for sure yet. He...He went in his sleep” he added.

“I’m so sorry” Amelia whispered “I know it’s not a lot, but...”

“It’s something to me” Fernando interrupted with a sad smile.

Amelia hesitated again before she tentatively took a hold of his hand, gently twisting her fingers through his.

Fernando squeezed her hand gently, allowing the room to fall quiet for a long time. It wasn’t a tense silence, not like it normally was between them. It was something close to comfortable, something Fernando hoped would last for a long time. He missed the good times, the times that had come before Gianna’s arrival, and whilst he knew that they were likely to never come back again, he wanted to enjoy the brief break from all of the fighting and tension that had followed. He couldn’t remember the last time that they had been together in a room and not been on the verge of fighting.

Exhaling a slightly shaky breath, Fernando shifted towards Amelia slightly, settling his forehead on her shoulder as he tried, and failed, to stop more tears from slipping from his eyes. He felt Amelia’s body stiffen, he felt her hesitation, but he exhaled a soft sigh in relief when he felt her push her fingers through his hair, mumbling soft words of reassurance to him.

“Things had been getting better” Fernando murmured, breaking the silence around them.

“Huh?” Amelia asked.

“My dad and I had been distant” Fernando clarified “After...After all that had happened. He hated that I let things come out the way I did. He...He adored you, and he was so disappointed in me for being such a coward. We didn’t really talk for a while, but we had just started to, and now he’s...he died thinking that I was an idiot, Lia” he whimpered.

“He didn’t think that” Amelia said “He thought the world of you, Nando” she added.

“How could he?” Fernando protested as he sat up “I’m a fuck up, Amelia. No one knows that more than you. My father thought I was a stupid coward, he thought that I had ruined the best thing in my life, and he died thinking that, because it’s true. I am a coward, a stupid coward, and I fucked everything up, and now he’s gone, and he’s not going to see if I can fix it. He’s not going to be here any more” he added, his voice cracking as more tears filled his eyes.

Amelia didn’t hesitate to cup his face, gently brushing the tears off of his cheeks. “Your father loved you, Fernando” she insisted gently “He was so proud of you. It was so obvious whenever I saw him. You might have had some problems, but I know how much he adored you. I promise you, he...he left proud of his little boy” she added.

Fernando stared at her tearfully, searching for any sign that she didn’t mean what she was saying, before he ducked his head, pressing a light kiss against the palm of her hand. “Thank you” he whispered.

Amelia gently smoothed his hair out again, allowing him to sink back into her, crying until they both fell asleep.