Since I Last Saw You

10: Nights Like This

Feeling the car slow to a stop outside of Ava’s apartment building, Lionel spared a glance across the backseat, looking at Ava who sat across from him, not taking her eyes off of the window. They hadn’t said much since they’d gotten in the car, aside from a few brief pleasantries asking how they’d both found the night, the car had been silent, and Lionel didn’t quite know what to do to break it. He knew why she was uncomfortable, from the moment that the word ‘girlfriend’ had fallen out of Luis’s mouth, they’d both shied away from it, neither quite knowing what had gone through the other’s mind when the word had hung in the air, but instead of talking to each other, they’d both opted to sit in silence.

Adjusting his seatbelt, he felt the car rock to a stop before Ava turned her head, her eyes meeting his for a split second before she looked down, staring at the seat between the two of them. “This is me” she murmured “Gracias for tonight, Leo. It was...it was something” she added, her lips quirking upwards into a forced smile.

Lionel let out an awkward laugh, but didn’t say anything, something which made Ava sigh quietly before she leant across the seat, pressing a gentle kiss against his cheek.

Lionel closed his eyes, sighing gently when she pulled away all too quickly and pushed the car door open, closing it behind herself with a thump which resonated in the silence for a second before he leant forwards, pulling his wallet out of his jacket pocket. “Gracias” he mumbled, handing some money over to the driver. Leaning back, he pushed the car door open and climbed out, following after Ava who’d stopped in the building’s doorway, almost as though she expected him to follow after her.

Allowing him to catch up, Ava held open the door before she stepped inside, walking towards the elevator without as much as a word.

Lionel followed after her, allowing the silence to linger between them as they walked down the corridor outside her apartment and made their way inside before he shook his head, scratching his neck nervously. “What are we doing, Ava?” he asked quietly.

Ava, who’d moved to slip her feet out of her shoes, didn’t say anything.

“Ava?” Lionel pressed.

Ava moved to place her shoes on the rack which stood neatly beside the front door.

Lionel just stared at her, allowing the silence to linger between them, before he tilted his head back, allowing it to fall against the front door with a dull thump. “I never thought it would just go back to how things were before” he noted “But I didn’t think that it would be this...” he trailed off, searching for the right word.

“Difficult?” Ava asked quietly.

“Frustrating” Lionel corrected.

Ava tilted her head, a furrow in her forehead. “Leo...”

“I like you” Lionel interrupted “I liked you when you left and I still like you now, and whilst I know that we have to take our time, and that we have to try and get to know each other again before anything more than...than whatever the hell is happening between us can happen again, I also know that when Luis called you my girlfriend, I wanted to agree with him. I know it makes sense, starting from the beginning, but whilst I get that, there’s part of me that’s so frustrated that I can’t just kiss you without worrying that I’ll make things weird” he explained.

Ava’s eyes searched his face quietly before she lifted her hand, timidly pushing a curl of hair behind her ear. “I don’t want you to feel like that” she noted gently “I don’t want you trying to walk on eggshells around me and worrying about putting a foot wrong, but equally, I need you to understand that our break...that that really hurt me. I’m not saying that it didn’t hurt you” she insisted, seeing that he had opened his mouth to object.

Lionel closed his mouth and nodded, allowing her to keep talking.

“I know how we felt about each other” Ava continued gently “And I have no doubt that...that it hurt you too. It’s just...You were still here, you didn’t get on a plane and cry to some random guy who lasted about half an hour before he got up and found another seat. I know that it was the right thing to do, I know that six months was too much to put on a relationship that was still so new, but I really, really wanted us to. I’d just gotten you and letting us go...” she trailed off, shaking her head as she failed to find the right words.

“We’ve got another chance” Lionel announced quietly after a few seconds.

“And it comes after before” Ava replied, running her fingers through her hair.

Lionel sighed. “I hated leaving that morning” he admitted.

“It was the right thing” Ava replied “But doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt and that’s what’s slowing this down. Whether it was the right thing or not, I can still remember the feeling in my stomach and that you...”

“That I was the one who gave it to you” Lionel finished for her, seeing that she was preparing to leave the statement half-finished between them.

Ava just stared at him, something which caused Lionel to shake his head, his fingers itching his jaw uncomfortably.

Ava watched him, her eyes still searching his face, before she took a couple of tentative steps forwards, her hand gently cupping his cheek before she leant forwards, brushing the lightest of kisses over his lips before she pulled away, smiling at him shyly. “We’ll get there” she whispered softly “I want us to get there, but I can’t promise that there won’t be nights like this. Nights were you want to yell at me, where I want to push you back” she added, guiding her hand away from his cheek.

Lionel, however, was quicker, covering her hand with his as he held it to his cheek.

Ava’s cheeks flushed as his fingers slotted through hers before she carefully pulled her hand away, gesturing to the closed front door which stood behind him. “Buenos noches, Leo” she mumbled with a faint smile.

Lionel thought about leaning forwards to kiss her, but stopped himself, instead offering her hand a gentle squeeze before he pulled the door open, stepping out of it.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)