Since I Last Saw You

04: I Never Meant To

Lifting a hand to fidget with the bun that she had pulled her hair up into, Ava glanced up from the screen of her laptop, sparing a brief look towards the front door before she quickly turned back to the computer screen, trying to ignore the little flip her stomach gave. She was waiting for it, with her and Lionel having made plans to have dinner at her apartment, she knew that it would only be a matter of time before the sound of knocking filled the air, and she couldn’t seem to focus on anything, caught somewhere between nervous and excited about his imminent arrival.

There was no denying that it hadn’t gone well, even before Ava’s clumsy evasion of Lionel’s hug or kiss at the end of their previous meeting, things between them had felt awkward, and whilst Ava had little doubt that that night would be similar, she had wanted to give it a chance, not simply wanting to let things between them go without at least attempting to try and piece them back together.

Blinking a couple of times, she attempted to refocus on the screen for a moment before the sound of knocking reached her ears, causing her to jump a little before she looked up at the door again, feeling her stomach give another little twist. Hesitating for a second, she chewed on her lip before she shuffled up to her feet, padding towards the front door and pulling it open.

Lionel, who stood on the other side, glanced up at the sound of the door opening before he quirked a timid smile, gently thrusting forwards the potted plant that he held in his hands.

Ava tilted her head, a faint smile tweaking the corner of her lips. “What’s this?” she asked.

Lionel shrugged sheepishly. “A housewarming gift” he replied “I thought it was nice, but I didn’t really know what to get. If you don’t like it...”

“It’s lovely” Ava interrupted gently “You...you didn’t have to” she added as she leant over, carefully taking the plant out of his hands.

Lionel let her take the plant, relishing the momentary contact of her fingers brushing against his, before he quirked another shy smile, gesturing over her shoulder. “Can I...?” he trailed off.

Ava followed his gesture before she nodded quickly, shuffling awkwardly out of the doorway. “Of course” she mused “The living room is straight ahead of you. Feel free to make yourself comfortable. I’m just going to go and check on the food” she added before she closed the front door, rushing away towards the kitchen.

Lionel glanced after her, briefly contemplating following her, before he turned, wandering towards the living room. Stepping inside, he smiled a little, recognizing a lot of Ava’s things, before he stepped towards the couch, plopping down onto it. Leaning down, he moved to slip his shoes off of his feet before he tilted his head slightly, his eyes settling on a box which sat across the room. It didn’t surprise him, with Ava not having been back in the city for long, he was actually a little surprised by how unpacked the apartment was, but still seeing the box brought a lump up into his throat, casting his thoughts back to the day that she had left.

Gently scratching his jaw, he stared at the box for a few moments before the sound of Ava clearing her throat reached him, causing him to turn and look up at her, a nervous smile on his face. “Everything Ok?” he asked.

Ava nodded. “The food’s still a little away from being done” she noted “I hope you don’t mind waiting around” she added.

Lionel just shook his head, something which made Ava nod before she stepped towards the couch, cautiously settling down a little away from him. “I’m sorry the place is still a little messy” she murmured after a few moments of silence “I’ve tried to do as much unpacking as I can, but it’s been a little difficult to find the time. There’s work, and then there are friends and family to catch up with now that I am home. Honestly, I’m a little amazed that all of my stuff isn’t still in boxes” she added, a soft laugh falling out of her mouth.

Lionel shook his head, smiling softly. “You’d hate that” he quipped.

Ava just shrugged, smiling back at him softly as a few more seconds of quiet passed between them.

Lionel stared at her, admiring her soft smile, before he gently shook his head, turning his stare down towards the floor ahead of him. “Am I just wasting my time here, Ava?” he asked quietly.

Ava blinked a couple of times, caught off guard by the question, before she shook her head. “I don’t think so” she replied.

“Really?” Lionel asked.

“Really” Ava confirmed “It’s just...” she trailed off, not quite able to find the right words.

“It’s just what?” Lionel pressed gently “We’re never going to make any progress unless you talk to me, Ava” he added.

Ava glanced at him, taking a few moments to think over his words, before she gently shook her head, her fingers moving to toy with the necklace which hung around her neck. “I liked you” she admitted quietly “Before...before I left, I’d really started to like you and I’d really started to look forwards to us, to what we could be. I knew it was going to get complicated, as soon as I got confirmation that I was going to go, I knew that things would be difficult for a while, but...” she trailed off, as she briefly met Lionel’s eyes before she dropped her stare, fixing it on her lap.

Lionel shifted a little in the silence before he cleared his throat. “You didn’t expect me to end things” he murmured.

“It made sense” Ava defended quickly “With the way things were, I know that you were probably right to want to just cut our losses and try and figure things out when I got back, but I just...I wanted my boyfriend. I wanted to call you and talk about nothing. When I was homesick, I wanted to call you and have you tell me that things were going to be fine and that I was going to be home before I knew it. I know it’s silly, I mean, here we are, but I...I don’t know, I guess it hurt me more than I thought it would” she added, shrugging her shoulders a little.

She didn’t want to make him feel bad, the decision for the two of them to breakup before she had left hadn’t been something she’d fought particularly hard against, but she wanted him to know that it had hurt her, even if they were trying to patch things up. The change to their relationship before she’d left had meant that the way she thought about him, the way she behaved towards him had changed too. Instead of feeling like she could call him whenever, she had felt awkward about the few texts that she had sent to him and it made being around him slightly more uncomfortable than she had been hoping for.

Lionel watched her shrug her shoulders before he sighed, pushing his fingers back through his hair. “I never meant to...”

“I know” Ava interrupted softly “It’s just...it’s going to take some figuring out” she added, smiling at him shyly.

Lionel’s dark eyes searched her face, not missing how shy she looked, before he quirked a faint smile of his own, nodding his head slightly. “I want to figure it out if you do” he noted.

Ava just smiled at him, her hand settling on the couch beside him, their fingers just about brushing.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comments :)