Since I Last Saw You

15: It’d Make Sense

“Do not open that oven”

Lionel, whose hand was hovering over the oven handle, glanced up at the sound of Ava’s voice, a slightly amused smirk tugging the corner of his lips upwards. It was the first chance that they’d had to get together since her father’s birthday party, with Lionel still not having returned to international duty with Argentina after the world cup in the summer, he had a few days away from training with Barcelona, and he had convinced Ava to visit him, even if she had tried to insist that she needed the time to work on her book. Lionel had been able to convince her to give him a few hours.

“The timer’s going to go any second” Lionel retorted “Surely, it won’t make any difference” he added.

Ava, who’d stepped around the kitchen counter, gently swatted him away from the oven. “It’ll make a difference” she insisted.

Lionel laughed, but didn’t argue with her, stepping away from the oven. “It smells pretty great” he noted.

“You sound surprised” Ava retorted, returning to where she had been previously sat, sipping on the glass of wine she’d left behind.

“Well, seeing as I technically made it, it is a little surprising” Lionel quipped back playfully.

Ava rolled her eyes, but couldn’t have kept herself from smiling even if she had wanted to, something which made Lionel’s own smile widen a fraction before he shook his head, moving to sit down in the chair opposite her. Ava heard him sit down and glanced up at him, her cheeks flushing a faint shade of pink as their eyes met for a second.

Lionel watched her for a second, watching her stare settle shyly on the table between them, before he carefully lifted a hand, tucking her hair back off of her face. “It’s getting lighter again” he commented gently.

Ava’s forehead creased. “Hm?” she asked.

“Your hair” Lionel clarified “It’s starting to go back to its original colour” he added.

Ava instinctively reached a hand up, gently twining her fingers in her hair. “I’ve kind of missed it” she admitted gently “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Emma didn’t steer me wrong, the haircut looked nice, but I liked it the way it was too” she added, shrugging her shoulders sheepishly.

Lionel just nodded his head, smiling at her softly.

Ava shifted in her seat, trying to ignore the little hit of butterflies in her stomach, before the sound of the oven timer filled the air, causing her to push herself up to her feet. Collecting the oven gloves from the countertop, she slipped them onto her hands before she pulled the door open, pulling out the contents and settling it down onto the counter.

Lionel, who’d followed her towards the counter, grinned. “It looks pretty good” he noted.

“I did know what I was doing when I was instructing you” Ava retorted playfully.

Lionel laughed, shaking his a little. “You know, I might buy your book” he noted.

Ava laughed as she stepped across the kitchen, retrieving two plates from a cupboard. “You weren’t planning to before this?” she teased.

Lionel just offered her a nonchalant shrug, his eyes shining in amusement. There was no denying that things felt better between them, after they’d attended Alfredo’s birthday party together, and had kissed, they seemed to have relaxed into things a little more, and Lionel had to admit that he liked it, even if it did feel like they were still a long way away from where they had been before she’d left. At least they were talking and spending time together.

Lionel offered her a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders, a boyish smirk on his face.

Ava rolled her eyes, placing a portion of food onto each plate. “You know that the show airs soon, right?” she asked after a couple of seconds of quiet.

Lionel nodded. “Your mama mentioned it at your papa’s party” he confirmed “Are you excited?” he asked.

“A little” Ava replied “I mean, I know that a lot of the footage was good, and I’ve seen some of the edits, so I’m pretty optimistic, but I’m also pretty nervous. Are you planning to watch it?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards ever so slightly before he lifted his head away from the table where he’d placed down the plates of food, glancing over at her as she sat down. “Did you want me to watch it?” he asked.

Ava wanted her smile to appear teasing and nonchalant, but even without seeing it, she knew that it was nervous, something which caused her to sigh gently, nodding her head. “I’d like you to” she confirmed “I mean, I was kind of...I was kind of thinking maybe we could...you know, watch it together” she added tentatively.

Lionel’s expression softened a little. “You don’t already have plans to watch it with your parents? Your friends?” he asked.

“There might be offers on the table” Ava replied “But I thought I’d ask. It’s ok if you don’t want to, I mean, I know that...”

“I’d love it” Lionel interrupted gently “I just...I just thought you’d chose to watch it with the more...with the people that are...” he trailed off, struggling to find the right words to complete his thought.

Pushing his food around the plate, he took a couple of bites, before he shook his head, a self-deprecating grin on his face. “I thought you’d chose to watch it with someone that isn’t just your not-really boyfriend. Your parents, your friends, they all feel like more logical choices to share you achievement with than me, the guy you’re only sort of dating” he explained carefully.

Ava shook her head. “Leo...”

“I’d get it” Lionel insisted gently “They’re the ones who were behind you the whole time and I...I wasn’t. It’d make sense” he added.

Ava sighed softly. “Leo” she repeated.

Lionel just flashed her another weak smile, poking his fork around the plate.

Ava watched him quietly, trying to come up with something to say to him, before she shook her head. “I want you to see the thing I am proud of” she said quietly “The thing that I worked so hard for, the thing I love. I want to show that to you, because I care about you and it means a lot to me that you see it. Yeah, my parents want me to watch it with them, Emma’s already trying to plan some crew party, but I don’t care. I’d much rather watch it, curled up on your couch, and listening to you make your lame jokes” she added.

Despite his stare remaining on his plate, Ava could see the little smile he allowed himself. “My jokes aren’t lame” he muttered playfully.

“They’re nearly always terrible” Ava replied “But I love them anyway” she added, smiling at him.

Lionel laughed gently. “Someone has to” he played along.

Ava just shook her head, leaning over the table to press a soft kiss against his cheek. “It means a lot to me that you see it” she murmured.

Lionel turned his head, holding her stare for a beat before he quirked a tender smile. “I’d not miss it, Ava” he announced.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)