Since I Last Saw You

16: Is That A Good Thing?

Checking the time on his watch, Lionel took a step back after he knocked on Ava’s front door, waiting for her to answer it. He knew that he had arrived early, but with that night being the one when Ava’s show aired for the first time, he had ensured to leave for her apartment far earlier than he needed to, not wanting to even risk the chance of missing any part of it.

Scratching his neck sheepishly, he shifted a little in front of the door before he watched it sweep open, his prepared greeting falling mute as Ava spoke up, talking into the phone that she held against her ear. “Yes, mama” she said, rolling her eyes playfully for Lionel’s benefit “Of course I will call you once it is over. Why wouldn’t I?” she asked, stepping out of the doorway.

Lionel flashed her a small, slightly sheepish smile, before he stepped past, padding into the living room. Hesitating for a second, he carefully sat down on the couch before he leant over, untying the laces of his shoes.

“I’m sorry about that” Ava announced as she stepped into the room “She’s called me about five times already today” she added.

Lionel, who’d moved to stow his shoes neatly by the end of the couch, smiled at her gently. “She’s excited” he pointed out.

Ava smiled bashfully, tucking her hair off of her face. “I know she is” she noted “And I love that she is, but it isn’t exactly helping with my nerves” she added.

“How nervous are you?” Lionel prodded.

Ava, who’d moved to sit down on the couch beside him, let out a shaky laugh, her eyes staring down at her feet. “What I’ve seen looked good” she noted “And when we were filming, it felt good, but until I’ve seen it all, I don’t really know what to expect. I kind of feel like I’m about to throw up, but at the same time, I kind of want to keep grinning like an idiot. Does that sound ridiculous?” she asked, turning her head to glance over at him.

Lionel quirked a small, reassuring smile before he shook his head. “It doesn’t sound ridiculous at all” he mused.

Ava offered him a slightly dubious look before she shook her head, once more messing with her hair. “What about you?” she asked.

“I’m excited for you” Lionel replied without a beat of hesitation “I know how much you wanted to go and do this, I know how long you waited for the chance, and I am looking forwards to seeing the results, which I am sure will be great, by the way” he added, his voice warm as he grinned at her.

Ava’s cheeks flushed a little as she let out a slightly bashful laugh. “You’re just saying that” she mumbled.

Lionel just shrugged, knowing that she wouldn’t believe him if he said anything more.

Shaking her head, Ava gently messed with the bottom of the jumper that she wore before she pushed herself back up to her feet, gesturing vaguely towards the kitchen. “I’m going to grab myself a drink” she announced “Can I get you anything? We’ve still got a bit of time, I could cook something up if you’re hungry” she babbled.

“A glass of water will be fine” Lionel replied.

“Are you sure?” Ava pressed, her nerves clearly leaking into her voice.

Lionel breathed out a soft laugh before he stood up, gently nudging her backwards towards the couch.

Ava hesitated, but did gently plop back down into her seat, frowning up at Lionel slightly. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m going to go and grab the drinks” Lionel replied “And you’re going to sit down and relax” he added.

Ava ducked her head. “I don’t think I can” she mumbled.

Lionel crouched down ahead of her, gently cupping a hand around her cheek so that he could tilt her head up slightly. Levelling her eyes with his, he quirked a small smile, something which made Ava smile back at him before he stood up, mumbling something about their drinks as he padded towards the kitchen. Ava watched after him briefly, her smile still lingering, before she flopped back into the couch, letting a shaky sigh fall out of her mouth.

Watching the closing credits roll up the screen, Ava turned her head slightly, glancing up at Lionel whose own eyes were still fixed on the screen. It had been quiet, from the moment that her face had appeared on the screen, only a few words had been uttered between them, and Ava didn’t know what to make of the silence, nor did she quite know what the right approach to breaking it. Watching his face, she gently shifted in her seat before he turned his stare to her, causing her to reflexively look down. “So?” she mumbled, a shaky little laugh falling out of her mouth.

Lionel blinked a couple of times, surprised that she had been so quick to look away from him, before he shook his head. “What do you want me to say?” he asked.

Ava let out another little uncomfortable laugh. “What you think” she replied “I mean, I thought it was good, and I didn’t look as unprofessional as I was worried I would. I mean, I did that awkward laugh I do a few times, but I thought it was...”

“I like that laugh” Lionel interrupted.

Ava’s cheeks flushed a little. “You don’t think it sounded awful?” she asked.

“I think it’s your laugh” Lionel replied “I mean, personally, I think it’s cute, but I also think it was a good idea to leave it in after the edits. It’s you, Ava, and I think that that was what I liked most. You were just you” he explained.

He didn’t know what he had been expecting, but what he had seen, he had adored. Ava had been herself, she had been the same on screen as she was when they were alone together, and for a few moments, it’d left him a little speechless. She had looked so natural, almost effortless when she was staring into the camera, and whilst it had been the reason that things between them hadn’t worked out, he was glad that she had gone. It was something she had wanted for as long as he had known her.

Ava laughed shyly. “Is that a good thing?” she asked.

“You’re pretty great” Lionel replied with a nonchalant shrug “So yeah, I’d say it’s a good thing” he added impishly.

Ava shook her head, glancing up at him slightly. “You really liked it?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate, nodding his head firmly. “I really did” he confirmed.

Ava’s eyes searched his face for a moment before she smiled bashfully. “I’m glad” she cooed.

Lionel admired her smile for a moment before he lifted a hand, tucking her hair off of her face. Leaning into her, he felt her nose bump against his, something which caused his breathing to stutter a little before he leant a little closer, his lips ghosting over hers for the smallest of moments before she jumped out of her seat, causing him to reel backwards slightly, frowning.

“It’s my mama” Ava announced, sheepishly showing off her phone as he looked up at her “I can’t...” she trailed off.

Lionel’s expression recovered into a small smile. “You can’t” he agreed.

Ava flashed him a small apologetic smile before she bounced out of the room, already talking excitedly into her phone.

Lionel leant back into the couch, smiling at her excitement in her voice, before he shook his head. “I’ll wait” he mumbled to himself.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)