The Space Between Us

88: She’d Find Us Anyway

“You OK?”

Lionel, who’d been looking around the airport terminal, jumped slightly at the sound of Amelia’s voice before he turned slightly, offering her a faint smile. It wasn’t the first time that she had asked. At every stage of their trip, she had turned to look at him, the same understanding expression on her face, and asked if he was OK, and every time he had given her the same answer, a faint smile and a nod of his head that he knew that she didn’t quite believe. She knew that he was nervous. She knew that the thought of being back in Barcelona was overwhelming to him, and it showed on her face every time that he told her that he was doing alright. The soft understanding expression on her face changed into something sympathetic, something that showed him that she was worried that he wasn’t being honest with her.

Reaching out, Lionel gently twisted his fingers through Amelia’s, squeezing her hand gently. “I’m a little overwhelmed now that we’re actually here” he admitted “But it’s fine. It’ll fade” he added.

Amelia’s thumb brushed the back of his hand. “Do you want Nora to take us back to your place?” she asked.

Lionel’s answering shake of his head was quick, so quick that it caused Amelia to frown slightly. “We only here for today” he said “And I am pretty sure that your mother’s going to want more than a couple of hours with you. We’ll go there” he added.

The frown on Amelia’s face didn’t fade immediately, but when the sound of Nora’s voice calling her name reached her ears, it did. With one last uncertain glance in Lionel’s direction, she dropped his hand and stepped towards Nora, happily taking the too-tight hug that her best friend was eager to offer.

Lionel hung back, watching the two of them with a fond smile, before his stare started to drift again. He had been there a million times before. When he’d returned from away matches, and trips home, he had stood where he was standing in that moment, but it had never felt so strange before, and for a moment, it threatened to overwhelm him. It was where he wanted to be, where he had thought he would always be, and knowing that he was only a matter of hours from leaving was a thought that he couldn’t get his head around.


Lionel blinked at the sound of his name before he looked over at Amelia and Nora, fixing another smile on his face. “Sorry” he quipped “I got lost in thought. Are we ready to go?” he asked.

“Are you sure that you want to go straight to Felicity’s?” Nora prodded “Albert texted, apparently, she’s outdone herself” she added with a grin.

Lionel laughed. “We made a promise” he quipped “Besides, she knows that our flight has landed. Even if we wanted to go anywhere else, she’d find us anyway” he added.

Nora grinned at him. “To Felicity’s it is, then” she mused.

Lionel smiled back at her and followed her towards the exit.

Amelia followed after the two of them, not missing the way that Lionel’s eyes darted around the airport again, or the way that the smile on his face dimmed, just a little.

Quietly pulling the front door closed after himself, Lionel shuffled towards the doorstep, sitting down on the edge of it. He knew that it wouldn’t take long for someone to notice that he was missing. Despite most of the excitement being for Amelia, he knew that Amelia’s family were pleased to see him too, and he knew that that meant that his absence would be obvious, but he needed the break. It had been harder than he thought it would be. He had always thought that it would be difficult, listening to Amelia’s family, and Nora and Victor, talk about things that he and Amelia had missed, but the reality of it was even more difficult than he had been prepared for. He hated watching Amelia try and cover up how disappointed she had been when she heard that she had missed Alexa’s latest ultrasound, or that Nora had started to look at wedding dress boutiques.

Pushing a hand back through his hair, he exhaled a quiet sigh, only to startle when he felt a hand against his back. Lifting his head, he watched as Amelia sunk down into the space next to him before he shook his head, staring down at his feet.

Amelia didn’t say anything. She just tucked herself into his side, her hand gently brushing up and down his back.

“I just needed a second” Lionel said.

“I know” Amelia replied “And I just wanted to make sure that you’re doing OK. I am not going to make you go back in before you’re ready” she added.

Lionel gently settled a hand on her thigh, brushing his thumb back and forth. “It’s weird” he admitted.

“Yeah, it is” Amelia agreed with a soft huff of laughter “I’m happy to be here, but you’re right, it’s weird” she added.

“I’m sorry that you missed Alexa’s ultrasound” Lionel mused after a beat of silence.

Amelia picked her head up from where it was resting on his shoulder. “You don’t have to apologise for that” she mused.

“I saw your face” Lionel argued “How upset you were” he added.

“That’s not your fault” Amelia countered “And I don’t want you thinking that it is. I always knew I was going to miss more, but I will be here for the big things, like when the baby comes, or when Nora and Victor actually get married” she added.

Lionel opened his mouth to argue, but Amelia didn’t let him get the words out, gently pressing her lips to the corner of his mouth. “I’m where I want to be, OK?” she whispered.

Lionel hesitated for a beat before he allowed a small smile to pull at the corner of his mouth.

Amelia smiled back at him softly before the sound of her mother’s voice reached the two of them, causing her to gently grip Lionel’s hand as she moved back to her feet. “You ready to go and tell them that we’re getting married?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate to nod then. “Ready” he confirmed.