Since I Last Saw You

03: I Thought You Loved It

Listening to the sounds of cutlery scraping against plates, Ava spared a cautious look across the table, quickly averting her eyes when Lionel looked away from his own plate, briefly catching her stare. It hadn’t taken long, after their initial exchange of pleasantries had passed, the stretches of awkward silence had quickly become longer, and neither one of them seemed quite sure of how to break it. They had talked, after they’d ordered the food which currently sat on the table between the two of them, Ava had talked about the work that she had done whilst she was away and Lionel had been more than happy to talk about Barcelona, but after the superficial details had been gotten out of the way, the conversation had lapsed, leaving the two of them to sneak glances at one another, wordlessly hoping that the other would break the silence.

Feeling her cheeks warm, she poked at the little food that remained on her plate quietly for a few moments before Lionel made a soft sound, causing her to glance up at him, her stomach tightening a little at the sheepish grin that he wore. “How was it?” he asked, gesturing to her nearly empty plate.

Ava glanced down at the plate before she looked back up at him, shrugging her shoulders slightly. “It was nice” she mused.

Lionel quirked an eyebrow. “Just nice?” he prodded “I thought you loved this place?” he added.

Ava shifted slightly in her seat, offering him a slightly awkward smile. “I did” she confirmed “But I stopped loving it so much before I left. They changed the menu. Surely you remember me pouting through our last date here?” she added, her voice caught somewhere between awkward and playful.

Lionel shook his head, feeling his cheeks warm with the embarrassment of having forgotten. “I do remember that” he noted “They’d taken off your favourites and replaced them with something you couldn’t stand. I’m pretty sure that it was the only thing you talked about for the whole night” he added.

Ava laughed. “It was a big deal” she quipped.

Lionel nodded, flashing her a small smile, before he cleared his throat, taking a sip of his glass of water. “You should have reminded me” he noted.

“Hm?” Ava asked, finishing the last of her food.

“When we were making plans” Lionel mused “You should have told me that you wanted to go somewhere else. I’d not have minded” he added.

“It’s really fine” Ava replied, shaking her head.

Lionel offered her a slightly dubious look, his dark eyes searching her face, before he nodded his head, breathing out another nervous laugh.

Ava felt her stomach twist a little at the sound before she carefully picked up her glass, sipping at her wine for a few long seconds before she placed it back down, glancing at him nervously. “Leo...”

“You bought me here on our second date” Lionel interrupted, self-consciously smoothing out the front of his shirt.

Ava blinked a couple of times, surprised by the interruption, before she nodded, her face lighting with a soft smile. “I did” she confirmed “You seemed to like it” she added.

Lionel grinned bashfully. “That had more to do with you than this place” he quipped.

Ava couldn’t stop her smile from growing a little, something which made Lionel shake his head, a breathy laugh falling out of his mouth. “That was a little much, wasn’t it?” he asked.

“No” Ava replied “It was...it was sweet” she added.

Lionel just nodded his head, his eyes fixed on the table ahead of him.

Ava watched him, allowing another long quiet moment pass between the two of them, before she cleared her throat. “I should...uh...I should probably be going soon” she stumbled out “I’ve still got a lot of unpacking to do and I need to find something to wear for work in the morning. I’ve got a meeting with my bosses. They want to preview the footage that we shot” she rambled shyly.

Lionel frowned. “You really have to go so soon?” he asked.

“I should” Ava confirmed softly “But this...it’s been...It’s been good to see you, Leo” she babbled.

Lionel felt the corner of his lips quirk upwards into a sad smile. He hadn’t missed the fact that she had hesitated in saying that she had had a good night. Taking in a deep breath, he nodded his head slowly before he tried to fix his smile, forcing it to brighten slightly. “It’s been good to see you too, Ava” he noted.

Ava noticed that his smile was off, but didn’t comment on it, instead gently shuffling up to her feet. Picking her coat up off of the back of her chair, she moved to wrap it around her shoulders only to pause when she felt Lionel’s hand brush against hers, moving to hold the coat out as she slipped her arms into it. Fastening the coat, she felt Lionel’s fingers gently brush against the back of her neck, gently moving her hair out from beneath the collar, before she turned around to look at him, her eyes meeting his briefly before she dropped her head, staring down at her shoes shyly.

Lionel stared at her for a second before he shook his head, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Can I see you again?” he asked gently.

“You want to?” Ava pressed, letting out a slightly surprised noise.

Lionel nodded. “I do” he confirmed.

Ava looked at him, her forehead furrowed slightly. “Leo...”

“I’m just asking for another dinner, Ava” Lionel interrupted gently “A break, remember?” he asked, his eyes holding hers.

Ava ducked her head. “I don’t think it is so simple, Leo” she mused “We can’t just slip back into things like the last six months haven’t happened. Things are different now” she explained softly.

“I know that” Lionel replied “But I still want us to try and start somewhere. Isn’t that something you want too?” he asked.

Ava shifted a little, mulling over the question for a few long seconds, before she nodded her head, something which caused Lionel to let out a breath that he didn’t even realize he had been holding. Clearing his throat, he let the quiet linger between for a beat longer before he looked up, his eyes catching hers. “Call me” he noted “We...we can try again, yeah?” he asked.

Ava nodded, an uncertain smile on her face. “Yeah” she breathed.

Lionel nodded his head, smiling a small relieved smile before he took a step towards her, only to be greeted by the sight of Ava taking a step back, her cheeks flushing pink. “Buenos noches, Leo” she mumbled quietly before she turned on her heel and walked away, leaving Lionel staring after her, a tight knot in his stomach.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)