Since I Last Saw You

02: It’s Only Been Six Months

Smoothing out the front of his shirt for what felt like the hundredth time since he had sat down, Lionel let out a quiet sigh, his eyes sparing a brief glance at his phone which sat on the table, showing off the time. He knew that he had been early in arriving, but he hadn’t been able to stop himself from leaving almost half an hour before he had needed to, anxious to find himself at the restaurant before Ava had the chance to arrive.

It hadn’t been long, after she had texted him to let him know that she had arrived back in Barcelona, they’d agreed to wait a couple of days before they met up, but it was a moment that Lionel had been waiting for eagerly, even if he had been quick to remember that it was for the best that he didn’t get ahead of himself. He couldn’t wait to see her again.

He was under no illusions. With six months having passed since he and Ava had been in the same room, he knew that that evening was likely to feel more than a little uncomfortable, but that hadn’t stopped him from looking forwards to it. He wanted to see her, after months of pleasant texts back and forth on occasion and a couple of slightly uncomfortable video calls, he wanted to be in the same place as her, and he didn’t care how uncomfortable it felt. He had missed her, a lot, and he was relieved that she had opted to get in touch. Part of him had thought, after the way things had ended between the two of them, that she would be reluctant to see him.

Sparing another glance at his phone, he sheepishly scratched his jaw before the sound of footsteps drawing closer to him caught his attention, causing him to cautiously look up, his eyes widening a little as they settled on Ava who’d stopped next to him, a faint sheepish smile quirking the corners of her mouth upwards. Blinking, he slowly looked her up and down before he pushed himself out of his seat, stumbling slightly as he moved to stand up too quickly.

Ava caught his arm to stop him from falling over. “Slow down” she breathed out “I’m not going anywhere” she added, a shaky laugh falling out of her mouth.

Lionel mimicked her, breathing out a laugh that sounded more than a little uncertain, before he stepped a little closer. Hesitating for a second, he thought about hugging her, or leaning over to press a kiss against her cheek, but he quickly opted against it, instead taking a half step backwards and flashing her a small, awed, smile. “ look different” he spluttered out.

Ava ducked her head, her cheeks flushing a light shade of pink. “I didn’t think I looked that different” she mumbled.

“It’s good” Lionel noted quickly “Not that you didn’t look good before, of course you did, I was just...I was just trying to say that it is good to see you, Ava” he added.

Ava nodded her head, a soft smile slowly spreading across her face. “It’s good to see you too, Leo” she mused.

Lionel grinned sheepishly before he gestured towards the table. “Do you want to sit down?” he asked.

“If you don’t mind me joining you” Ava teased.

Lionel couldn’t stop himself from letting out a laugh before he grimaced, noticing that it had come out a little louder than he had anticipated that it would. Feeling the warmth in his cheeks increase, he cleared his throat before he glanced back over at Ava, flashing her a small smile. “I’d love you to join me” he mused.

Ava, who’d moved to take her seat, nodded. “I was worried you’d changed your mind for a second there” she quipped.

“I’ve not” Lionel replied “I’m just...I’m happy to see you. It’s been too long, Ava, and I think I might have forgotten how to not like a nervous wreck around you” he added, his voice caught between soft and playful.

Ava smiled over the rim of the glass of water she had been sipping on. “It’s only been six months” she noted.

“Six months is a long time” Lionel replied with a little shrug.

Ava nodded her head slowly, allowing his words to hang around them for a moment, before she quirked a shier smile. “I hope this isn’t too forwards” she murmured “But I’ve...uh...I’ve missed you. I’m glad that you texted me back” she admitted gently.

Lionel just grinned at her, something which caused Ava to duck her head, her fingers nervously playing with a piece of her hair. Lionel watched her, smiling a little as she twisted the strand of hair around her finger, before he leant back in his seat, clearing his throat a little. “I like your new hair colour” he noted “And the style, it suits you” he added. She looked different, her previously long, auburn hair had been trimmed to fall level with her shoulders and had been darkened a little, but it suited her.

Ava lifted her head a little, her blue eyes meeting his. “You do?” she asked.

“You don’t?” Lionel countered, half playful, half curious.

Ava shrugged. “It still feels a little short to me” she mused “The colour’s nice, though. It was a friend’s idea” she added.

Lionel wanted to follow up, to ask if she had meant anything else by the word ‘friend’, but he stopped himself, keeping his smile on his lips. “I like it” he confirmed “You look beautiful, Ava” he added warmly.

Ava mumbled a quiet ‘thank you’ beneath her breath before a silence settled over the two of them, causing them both to shift a little uncomfortably in their seats. Taking another sip of her water, Ava glanced at Lionel over the top of the glass before she settled it back down, letting out another uncomfortable laugh.

Lionel caught the sound before he shook his head, his fingers fidgeting with the napkin which sat on the table ahead of him. “I’m glad that you texted me” he admitted quietly “I mean, as I said, six months is a long time and after the way we left things, I don’t think I could have blamed you for not bothering” he mused.

“We didn’t leave things badly” Ava noted, her stare fixed on the table cloth.

“You weren’t my girlfriend when you left, Ava” Lionel replied, glancing up at her briefly “You were the day you left, but by the time you got on that plane...” he trailed off, looking down at the table ruefully.

Ava just nodded her head slowly, allowing another period of silence to pass between the two of them, before she lifted her head slightly, successfully catching his eyes as he tried to subtly sneak a glance at her. Feeling her cheeks warm, she shifted a little more in her chair before she let out a sigh. “What do we do now?” she asked.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards slightly, like he had thought of a joke, but he quickly stifled it, shrugging his shoulders slightly. “We could start with dinner” he noted “You can tell me about travelling around Europe for the last six months and I can tell you about things you might have missed in Barcelona. If you want to, that is. I mean, this isn’t exactly feeling like a resoundingly successful reunion, so if you wanted to...” he trailed off as Ava let out a soft laugh, a sound which caused him to relax a little before he picked up his menu, grinning as Ava did the same.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comment :)