479. - Lucien
It's not quite the reunion as I'd pictured it; a confused peck on the lips as I lean over the passenger's seat to reach her and her hand against my cheek, instead of an intens hug followed by passionate kiss we both waited too long for. I'm still leaning, hands on the chair, with Emma looking at me with an expectant smile. The trunk slams close and a second later, Gabriel takes place on the backseat behind Emma, strapping himself in. "We should go, before the pay goes up by another fifteen minutes." He says before looking up, eyes meeting mine. "Allez, entrez alors!"
I blink at him, still trying to comprehend what is happening here. "Je sais que vous deviez vous lever tôt, mais je viens de passer une nuit blanche. Je ne prends pas le volant."
"You don't have to." Emma chimes cheerfully, patting my cheek. "Sit down, love. Gabriel is right, we're going to have to be quick or we'll be out another tenner."
"Hold up, hold up." I squeeze my eyes shut. My brain is lagging an incredible amount, unable to make any sense of what's happening. "You don't drive."
"Oh, Jesus Christ." Gabriel groans in frustration. "Lucien, idiot absolu, ta copine a son permis de conduire! Now, get in or I'll throw you in the trunk with the rest of your luggage."
I get in, but more on auto-pilot than because I finally understand what's going on. "You don't drive." I say as the door slams close.
Emma raises a brow at me, seizing the moment to immediately prove me wrong: she smoothly pulls the car out of the parking spot and heads towards the exit of the garage. "You don't drive." I say again, despite Emma driving out after paying an unholy amount of money for a short amount of time.
"Vous êtes particulièrement lent aujourd'hui, n'est-ce pas?" Gabriel notes as we follow the strictly guided roads that will bring us to the airport.
"Oh, lay off him, Brie!" Emma protests. She shoots me quick glances every now and then, but keeps her eyes pointed at the road, her hands are clasped around the wheel just a little too tighty at the 10-2 position and all the mirrors get checked every thirty seconds - telltale signs of a new driver. I've done it that way, so have Gabriel and Matthew, and Eschieve often still does it. "I've been taking lessons while you were away. As a surprise! So now you don't have to drive me all the time - I can drive you instead!"
"That's... amazing!" I exclaim. After far too long, my sleep-deprivation bubble finally pops; I sit up straighter, turning towards her as much as my seatbelt will allow; I refuse the urge to grab her hand, remembering how much I hated to be touched when I first started driving. "Em, that's wonderful! I'm so proud of you!" Then, a second later I deflate. It's noticable enough for Emma to flash me a look of concern. "But if you've already passed, that means I've missed out on cheering you on."
"Yes." Emma laughs. "But don't worry, your friends have cheered me on plenty. You got off easy, not having to deal with the nervous mess that I was."
"But I love it when you're a nervous mess!" I blurt out, getting myself a snort from Gabriel and a raised brow from Emma.
"I forgot how fun he is when he's sleep deprived like this." My best friend comments and I make a vague gesture for him to shut up.
"What I mean," I start, but I stop again when I realise that I can't really dig myself out of this hole. "I'm very proud of you." I finish meekly, and lucky for me they both laugh.
The drive to our new apartment isn't very long and while rush hour is slowly starting, we get home with minimal delays. Gabriel helps unload my luggage, but doesn't come up with us.
"Just make sure you clean thoroughly before you have that housewarming, huh?" He says with a smirk. "Have fun, you love birds."
During the nearly three-minute elevator ride up to the eleventh floor, I pull Emma into my arms for a proper welcome home hug. Her hands splay out over my back and her face gets hidden in my chest. She smells of her regular shampoo and her deodorant; she smells like Emma and like home. We don't speak, just glad to have each other's company again, until the elevator-ding sounds and the doors roll open. Together we lug my suitcases to the apartment. I've barely made it three steps in when Frank launches himself at my leg, latching on with his nails while wailing loudly. He seems to have no intention of letting go, so I just keep walking. Once we reach the kitchen, he finally drops, though the screaming doesn't stop.
"He missed you." Emma remarks with a smile. I let out a soft chuckle, wrapping an arm around her shoulders so I can pull her close for a kiss on her temple.
"I've been preocupied with missing someone else. But don't tell him, it'll hurt his feelings."
"Awe, you do care about him." She laughs as she intertwines her fingers with mine from the hand hanging over her shoulder. "But I'm glad I still take your number one spot."
"No one can knock you off that spot, my love." I smile. "Now, about that driver's license... Are there any other major life changes that I've missed?"
With my fingers still entangled in hers she pulls me towards the living room, which still feels awful empty with the spot reserved for the piano. It should be coming soon, though, and I can't wait for it. "Let's see... Gabriel and Matthew bought a house in Mexico, Kenna is pregnant with quintuplets and.. Oh! I got married to Eschieve. Sorry you missed the wedding."
I clutch my heart, shaking my head as I let myself collaps on the very soft, very large couch. "Betrayed by my girlfriend and my Eschieve. She never even told me!"
"I asked her to keep it a secret." Emma says ernestly; she sits down more delicately, but immeidately comes to lay next to me. "We were trying to find the right time to tell you."
"How about after you've divorced? Then you can marry me instead." It comes out more serious than I intended, and I only realise when next to amusement I see the slight shock in Emma's face, trying to determine what I meant by that.
"That was not a proposal." I say quickly. "If that's what you were afraid it was. I mean, I'm sure you guessed it wasn't, but..." I give up, having dug myself yet another hole. Emma laughs, pressing a kiss to my cheek.
"Brie was right. You are fun when you're sleep deprived."
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