Since I Last Saw You

09: You’re Here With Him?

Shyly adjusting the material of her dress’s skirt, Ava spared a glance out of the corner of her eye, looking at Lionel who was sat in the backseat next to her, the tips of his fingers flirting with the idea of touching her hand but refraining, something which made Ava want to smile, even despite the butterflies in her stomach. She couldn’t help but find his hesitance sweet. She felt nervous, from the second that she had opened her front door to him, finding him dressed in the same suit she had helped him pick out a few days previous, she had felt unsure, and the butterflies didn’t seem to be receding, even if every time she glanced at Lionel, he quirked a little smile. His smiles only reminded her just how nervous she was.

Glancing at their hands, she shook her head quietly before she returned her stare out of the window, watching the streets as they went by.

“Who helped you choose your dress?”

Ava let out a surprised laugh before she turned back towards Lionel, lifting her eyebrow. “You don’t think I could have chosen it myself?” she asked.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards into a small smile. “You could have” he noted “But, I am guessing that you enlisted some help. I mean, you told me that when we went out on our first date, you had two of your friends sat in your bedroom for nearly two hours” he added.

Ava shook her head, smiling shyly. “Emma” she noted “I told her about you...about tonight, and she insisted on helping me choose something. You like it?” she asked, allowing the black material to pass through her fingers.

Lionel watched the material fall against the car seat before he allowed his gaze to wander, studying her dress for a few moments. “You look nice” he complimented gently.

Ava tilted her head, briefly contemplating teasing him, but she opted against it, instead returning her stare out of the window.

Lionel shifted a little in the silence, regretting that he had offered such a bland compliment, before he felt Ava’s hand slide into his, causing him to glance downwards, watching as her fingers slipped through his. Staring at their hands, he felt her squeeze a little, causing him to gently brush his thumb over the back of her hand, wordlessly telling her that there was nothing to be worried about.

Ava smiled goofily to herself, holding onto his hand until she felt the car stopping. Tugging her hand back, she used it to fix her dress and smooth down her hair before she carefully pushed the door open, stepping out of the car. Lionel, who’d climbed out the other side, stepped around the car before he settled a hand against the small of her back, gently guiding her a little closer to his side. “You Ok?” he asked softly as he guided her a couple of paces forwards, trying to ignore the people that were around them.

Ava smiled a little at the tone of his voice before she nodded. “I’m fine” she noted.

Lionel quirked an eyebrow, a faint smile flitting around his lips, but he didn’t comment, leading her through the door into the building ahead of them.

Sparing a brief glance across the room at Lionel, Ava caught his eyes, giggling a little when he subtly rolled his eyes at the conversation he found himself trapped in with a few people she recognized as people who worked for Barcelona. It’d been pretty much the same since the award ceremony had ended, with Lionel having won one, there were a lot of guests that wanted a few minutes with him, and whilst it meant that Ava had spent a while stood by herself, she hadn’t minded, instead enjoying the opportunity to stand around and watch him. It wasn’t something she had seen a lot of, with the two of them having opted to keep their relationship private for the most part, she had seen very little of him around his teammates or coaches, and she was intrigued by the differences between then and when she and him were alone together. He seemed more confident with other people, less prone to bashful smiles and laughs, and it made her wonder what it was about her that made him so nervous.

Watching him turn back to his conversation, she ducked her head, picking at the hem of her dress for a few seconds before someone cleared their throat, causing her to lift her head, smiling a little at Luis who stood ahead of her. “Hi” she mused.

Luis grinned back at her. “It’s been a while” he noted “You’re here with Leo?” he asked.

Ava felt her cheeks warm before she ducked her head, nodding it slightly. “Yeah” she murmured “I am” she added.

“I’m glad” Luis chirped.

Ava lifted an eyebrow. “You’re glad?” she asked gently, slightly confused by the statement.

Luis nodded his head, scratching his neck sheepishly. “I’m glad that you’re giving him a shot” he clarified “I know what he did must have...” he trailed off, not wanting to say the wrong thing.

Ava just nodded her head slowly. “I like him” she noted after a few seconds of thought.

Luis’s expression relaxed into another warm smile. “He likes you” he noted.

“Yeah?” Ava prodded with a sheepish laugh.

“It’s so obvious” Luis quipped, rolling his eyes playfully.

Ava let out another soft laugh.

“Are you laughing at something he told you about me?” Lionel chirped as he stepped up to Ava’s side “Because whatever he said to you, he’s almost certainly exaggerating” he added, brushing the side of his hand against Ava’s without attempting to take it.

Ava noted the small touch with a small glance at their hands and a smile before she shook her head, staring down at her shoes timidly.

Luis watched the two of them before he smirked. “Don’t worry” he quipped “I’d not try to embarrass you in front of your girlfriend, hombre” he added.

Both Lionel and Ava made a small noise at the word ‘girlfriend’, causing Luis to stifle a laugh before he wandered away, making some excuse about having seen someone that he needed to talk to. Lionel and Ava watched him walk away, a silence hanging between the two of them that lasted until Lionel cleared his throat, gesturing tentatively towards the door. “The car’s here” he spoke quietly.

Ava nodded, not glancing up at him. “I’m ready to go when you are” she noted.

Lionel bit back a sigh before he stretched his arm out, showing Ava past him and towards the door before he followed after her, feeling the familiar discomfort which had been missing for most of the night settle between the two of them as they walked outside towards the waiting car.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)