The Space Between Us

57: He Didn’t Change That

“You were still asleep”

Amelia, who’d been searching Lionel’s face for any sign of what he was thinking, jumped at the sound of Fernando’s voice, reluctantly pulling her stare away to look up at him, an embarrassed smile on her face. She hadn’t been asleep. When Lionel had knocked on the door, she had heard it, and felt Fernando gently move her so that he could get up and answer it, but she had pretended to be asleep, determined to avoid what she was sure would be a confrontation. She knew how it would look. She knew how early it was, and how suspicious the sight of Fernando in her apartment that early in the day would be, and she wanted to avoid the fight that she was certain would inevitably follow, but it had been quiet for too long. She had been listening for shouting, for Lionel to throw out accusations, and Fernando to do very little to dispel them, but the noise had never come, and after a while, the curiosity had gotten the better of her.

“I heard you close the door” Amelia replied.

“I tried to be quiet” Fernando mused.

Amelia nodded her head in agreement, but didn’t say anything, allowing the three of them to descend into an uncomfortable silence that lasted until Fernando cleared his throat and gestured towards the front door. “I should go” he said “I need to check on my mother” he added.

“Give her my love?” Amelia whispered.

Fernando offered her a small, soft smile before he stepped past her, returning moments later with his shoes and jacket in hand. Stopping ahead of Amelia, he hesitated for a second, debating offering her a hug or a kiss on the cheek, but he did neither. Instead, he smiled down at her gently. “Thank you for last night” he said “I...uh...I know how hard it must have been for you to have me just show up here, and I am grateful that you didn’t just close the door in my face” he added, letting out a laugh that was somewhere between nervous and pained.

Amelia ducked her head at the sound of it, shaking it slightly. “It’s OK” she said.

Fernando lingered for a beat longer before he stepped away, leaving Amelia and Lionel stood in the hall. Neither of them spoke immediately, Amelia didn’t even move to look at Lionel right away, but after a few seconds, Lionel seemed to remember why he was there in the first place. Lifting a hand, he offered a paper cup out towards Amelia who blinked at the sight of it. “What’s this?” she asked.

“I bought you coffee” Lionel replied “You had an important meeting, and I thought it would help” he added.

Amelia blinked before she looked up at him, opening and closing her mouth as she tried, and failed, to come up with something to say. She knew that she couldn’t just play it off. Fernando had been there, and regardless of what he had said to Lionel, Lionel deserved to hear an explanation from her, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t shake the thought that, no matter what she said, Lionel wouldn’t be able to ignore what he’d seen.

Lionel watched her, waiting for her to say something, before he shook his head, diverting his stare down towards his feet. “He told me why he was here” he said.

“I was going to send him away” Amelia murmured “I saw him at the front door, and I was ready to send him away, but then he turned around, and he had this look on his face. He looked lost, so sad, and I just...I couldn’t just leave him out here. I know how it looks, and how it probably sounds, but that’s all it was” she added, not even chancing a look over at Lionel. She didn’t quite know if she could bear looking at his face and seeing that he didn’t believe her.

Lionel hesitated for a moment before he stepped closer to her, gently pressing the lukewarm cup into her hands. “I believe you” he murmured.

Amelia’s stare snapped up to his face in surprise. “You do?” she asked.

The corner of Lionel’s mouth lifted slightly, the starts of a lopsided smile. “I know you” he said “And I know that...that if you saw that sort of pain on anyone’s face, the face of your ex included, you would try and help in any way you could. Fernando’s done a lot of things, he’s caused a lot of damage, but he’s not changed the fact that you care, Amelia. You could never been heartless enough to turn anyone away in a situation like that. It’s one of the things I love most about you” he added.

Amelia’s surprised expression softened, something which caused Lionel to lift a hand, gently brushing her messy hair back off of her face. Leaning into his touch, she exhaled a soft sigh that had been pent up in her from the moment that she had heard the knock against her front door, before she looked up at Lionel’s face. “You do know that I would never do anything like that, don’t you?” she asked.


“I wouldn’t” Amelia insisted “I know that you’re going to say something about not being able to predict the future, but I know that I couldn’t do something like that, not to you. I know what it’s like to be on the other side, and...” she trailed off when Lionel pressed his lips against her forehead. Exhaling another sigh, she gently wrapped her arms around him, lingering in their embrace until Lionel shifted, brushing a soft kiss against her temple.

“I trust you” Lionel murmured.

Amelia couldn’t stop herself from smiling gently, something Lionel caught out of the corner of his eye before he drew out of their embrace. Offering her a soft smile, he glanced down at his watch before he gestured to the cup of coffee in her hand. “You’re going to want to drink that” he quipped “You’re going to be late otherwise” he added.

Amelia let out a noise in surprise, moving to hurry back into the apartment, but she made sure to stop and press a soft kiss to Lionel’s lips, wordlessly thanking him for having enough faith in her just to believe her. She had had her reservations, things that could have easily been misconstrued as doubts, and it would have been easy to doubt her and her dedication to their relationship, but he hadn’t, and it meant more to her than she could ever say.