The Space Between Us

76: It’s Only Fair


Lionel, who was absent-mindedly staring at the phone in his hand, blinked at the sound of his name before he looked up, greeting Amelia who’d stepped out of their new bedroom with a half-hearted smile. He had been expecting her for a while. When he had climbed out of bed a while previous, he knew that he had woken her, but she hadn’t tried to make him stay, and she hadn’t followed him immediately, something he was grateful for. He knew that they were both going through the same thing, that they had both left a lot of things behind in Barcelona, but he also knew that they both needed to acclimatize in their own way, something that meant that, for the few days that had past since they had landed in Paris, there had been space between them.

It wasn’t huge. The fissure of distance that had appeared between them had come from neither one of them wanting to fully admit to the other that they were struggling, but it was tangible, even in the moments where they were being themselves. The sense that there was something going unsaid was almost palpable.

“Hey” Lionel greeted “You OK?” he asked.

Amelia mirrored his half-hearted smile. “Yeah” she confirmed “Are you? You’ve been out here for a while” she added as she slipped into the space next to him.

Lionel’s hand slipped beneath her pyjama shirt, his thumb brushing back and forth against her back. “I’m OK” he said “Just woke up a little earlier than usual” he added.

Amelia stared at him for a moment, almost willing him to say something more, but when he didn’t, she didn’t push him. Instead, she pressed a soft kiss to his temple, guiding her fingers through the hair beside his ear. “What’s the plan for today?” she asked quietly.

Lionel answered with a shrug and another, slightly helpless, smile. “I don’t know” he said.

Amelia’s answering smile was patient and reassuring, and accompanied by a soft squeeze of his hand that gave Lionel an excuse to look away from her face. “We should get out of here” she said “I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I am starting to feel a little cooped up” she added.

“We could go for a walk or something” Lionel suggested.

“That sounds nice” Amelia cooed “I’ll go and take a shower, and then we can go?” she asked.

Lionel nodded in agreement, still not looking up at her.

Again, Amelia’s stare lingered on him, wordlessly begging him to say something more, but again, it didn’t come. Exhaling a quiet sigh, she moved to kiss his cheek before she stepped away from him again. Lionel let her footsteps retreat into their bedroom before he looked after her, shaking his head to himself. He could feel it when she looked at him, her call for him to talk to her, but the words were difficult to get out. He was struggling, more than he thought that he would, and he knew that she was too, even if she was careful to avoid showing it, and he didn’t want to make things harder on her. He didn’t want to put her in a position where she was trying to make him feel better whilst feeling bad herself.

“It’s beautiful out here”

Lionel, who’d been staring at the takeaway cup in his hand, glanced over at Amelia who was sat beside him, smiling softly as she looked around. They hadn’t taken a good look around. The few days that had passed since they had arrived had been spent sorting out the final details of his move, and settling into their new home, and it meant that that was the first chance that they had had to look around, something Amelia seemed to be enjoying. She had brightened. Almost as soon as they had set foot outside, some of the weight that had been visibly on her shoulder had disappeared, and Lionel liked seeing it, even if the same thing hadn’t happened to him. Seeing her a little happier made him a little happier.

“It is” Lionel agreed, still staring at her.

Amelia glanced over her shoulder, blushing when she found him staring, before she shook her head, taking a sip from her own drink. “Are you going to talk to me, yet?” she asked after a moment of quiet.

Lionel looked back down at his drink, exhaling a quiet sigh. “What do you want me to say?” he asked.

“Anything would be nice” Amelia’s voice was caught between soft and playful “Honestly? I am starting to forget what your voice sounds like” she added, letting out a slightly nervous laugh.

“I’ve not been that bad” Lionel countered, a faint smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.

Amelia’s smile matched his, faint but genuine. “You have been” she said.

“Sorry” Lionel replied.

“Don’t be sorry” Amelia said “Just talk to me. You’ve always wanted me to be honest with you, so it’s only fair that I get the same from you” she added, her eyes fixed on his face.

Lionel held her stare, his eyes searching hers for a long moment, before he nodded his head slowly. “This is hard” he admitted quietly “This place’s new, and strange, and I knew I wasn’t going to get used to it overnight, but I don’t think I really knew how hard it would be until we were actually here. I am struggling, but I know you are, too, and I don’t want to dump my stuff on you when you’ve got your own stuff. I figured it would just get easier eventually” he added.

“It will do” Amelia said “Once we’ve got a new routine, once things settle down, it will get easier” she added.

“I know” Lionel mused “But right now...”

“Right now it’s difficult” Amelia finished for him.

Lionel nodded his head.

Amelia gently twined her fingers through his, squeezing his hand gently. “You can always talk to me” she said “You’re right, it’s hard for me, too, but that’s exactly why you should talk to me. I know how hard this is. I know all about missing things about home, and people too. I might not have the right thing to say, but maybe just sharing it will make you feel a little better, and I want you to share it with me. I want to be able to tell you this stuff too, and know that you’ll try and make me feel better” she added.

Lionel’s thumb brushed the back of her hand gently. “I’ll always try to do that” he said.

Amelia smiled up at him, something which coaxed Lionel into smiling back at her before he leant forwards and brushed his lips over hers, wordlessly thanking her for what she had said. He had needed to hear it.