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Never In The Past

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“Mr. Barba, a Mr. Asher would like to speak with you.” Carmen said from the doorway. Rafael looked up from his phone and quirked a brow. “Said it’s important.”

“He can come in, thank you Carmen.” Rafael said, finishing up his text as the door shut.

“Hola, Rafi.”

Rafael set his phone down and looked up, eyebrows raising at the sight of the man.

“Emile, wow. You...” he trailed off, the color in his cheeks speaking enough to how he was feeling.

Surprised. Embarrassed he didn’t remember the last name of his high school crush.

“I still look the same, give or take my choice in clothing. Suits are comfortable I suppose.” Emile said as he set his briefcase down on the table.

Rafael stood and moved around his desk, walking over. At least he was still taller, Emilie hadn’t grown an inch.

“My Rafi is an ADA, wow. I knew you’d do something amazing, even if it wasn’t Broadway.” He grinned, pulling Rafael into a warm embrace. That grin sent Rafael’s heart into overdrive. The hug sent heat to his cheeks, even more than earlier.

“Yeah, I had to do something to keep my big ego in check.” He said, thankful that he was able to at least keep somewhat calm as they hugged. When he pulled back, he stepped back to look over his old friend. “You look good in a suit.”

“Aw jeez, you’re gonna make me blush.”

“What do you do now? I thought you would have been off doing world tours as a lead singer or solo act.” Rafael said as he went to sit on the couch. Emile looked around as he followed, sitting beside him and crossing his legs, clasping his hands together around his knee.

“Mom hoped for that too. I became a lawyer though.” He shrugged, his gaze settling on Rafael. “People need defending, you know?”

“Always a helper. I’m sure people appreciate you immensely.”

There was that laugh again. Rafael swore he would die of an overactive heart at this point.

“Only when I win. Thankfully, that’s more often than not.” He smiled. “Had to keep my brother from getting locked up by sweet talking some cops back in the day, so I figure ‘Why not do it for money?’ Sweet talk some jurors, maybe even the judge.”

“You were always like that.” Rafael gave one of his lopsided smiles. Emile smiled in return, nodding. It wasn’t his usual happy smile though. “What’s wrong?”

“I know things probably won’t be like they used to. I’d have to go to do confession if I lied and said I didn’t miss that.” He looked down at his hands. “When I found out you were an ADA, purely by chance by the way, I was amazed and surprised. I had to come and make sure nobody was just pulling my leg, you know? Actually, I didn’t come as soon as I found out... I was scared that maybe... Maybe you hated me or wouldn’t remember me.”

Rafael sighed and felt bad. He knew why he said that and he hated himself for it.

“I should have said yes, you know? But I didn’t think we both would have went on the same career path. I did want to do my own thing, go touring and make it big. I knew you couldn’t deal with that though.”

“I would have found a way to deal with it, Em.”

“No, you would have begged for me to not do it. You were like that.” Emile gave a small laugh, uncrossing his legs and sighing as he looked at Rafael. “I did the singing thing for a while, local. Got small gigs, made some money. It wasn’t for me though. I’m good at it, but it just wasn’t something I could put my all into. Gymnastics? I loved too, but I couldn’t hold onto that forever either.”

“Emile...”

He missed the way Rafael said his name, the way it rolled off his tongue like a song.

“I should have said yes. Now it’s probably too late, but that’s okay.” He looked close to tears.

Rafael wanted to say something but he couldn’t find the words. This was his fault. His. He made Emile feel like he had been the one at fault, the reason they didn’t go into adulthood together.

“I should go. I’ve got a client in an hour.” Emile said as he stood, smoothing out his suit jacket. Rafael stood as well. “Here, my number’s on it.” He handed over a business card. Rafael nodded as he took it, running his thumb over the lettering.

“I should at least offer you dinner.” He said as Emile grabbed his briefcase.

“Just tell me the time, date and place and I’ll be there.” He smiled as he headed out. Rafael’s heart fluttered at the words, the same words he said when he agreed to their first date. A date. Now his heart was pounding as he stood there, looking down at the card in his hand. He didn’t even hear someone call to him.

“Barba, you okay?”

He looked up and saw Olivia.

“Yeah.” He went over to his desk, sitting down.

“Who was that? Normally I don’t see you with many visitors with new faces.” She said as she closed the door, sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk.

“Old friend. Lawyer.” He flashed the card before setting it down on his phone. A reminder.