Since I Last Saw You

05: How Could He Not?

“Are you sure that you don’t want anything else to eat?”

Lionel, who’d moved to place his empty plate down on the coffee table ahead of him, smiled a little at Ava’s question before he nodded his head, glancing up towards where she stood, her fingers still messing with the necklace which hung around her neck. Things felt a little better, after they’d talked, the atmosphere that had been stifling when Lionel had walked into Ava’s home had relaxed somewhat, and whilst there was no denying that they were still uncomfortable, they had managed to get through dinner without awkward silences lingering for too long, something which pleased Lionel, even if he knew that they still had a long way to go. The little progress that they had made that night reassured him that there was hope for them getting things back on track in the long run.

“How much food did you cook?” Lionel asked, raising an eyebrow teasingly.

“A lot” Ava replied quickly “Probably too much. I was pretty nervous. I wasn’t exactly paying that much attention to quantities” she played along as she stepped towards the couch, carefully retaking her seat.

Lionel grinned at her before he shook his head. “I think I’ve had enough” he noted.

Ava nodded her head slowly, her eyes sparing a cautious glance towards his shoes which were neatly tucked against the side of the couch.

Lionel caught her look, following it down towards his shoes, before he cleared his throat a little, causing Ava to turn her attention back towards him. “Do you want me to get out of your hair?” he asked “If you do, that’s fine. Just...”

“I was kind of hoping that you’d want to stay for a little longer” Ava interrupted timidly “If you want to” she added, the corners of her lips quirking upwards ever so slightly.

Lionel stared at her for a second, his dark eyes searching her features, before he nodded his head gently, a breathy sound falling out of his mouth. “I’d...uh...I’d love to” he mused “I just don’t want to overstay my welcome. If you’re getting bored of me, just say the word and I can...” he trailed off as Ava shook her head, laughing quietly to herself.

Smiling to himself, he allowed the soft sound to linger in the air for a few seconds before he heard Ava stand up, causing him to look up at her questioningly.

“I was going to get myself another drink” Ava replied, collecting her empty glass from the coffee table “And then I was probably going to go and sit out on the balcony. I don’t like to brag, but the view of the city from out there is pretty great” she added, tentatively testing out teasing him.

Lionel noticed the slightly nervous edge to her voice, but didn’t comment, instead offering her another grin. “Pretty great, huh?” he played along.

Ava nodded. “You should go and take a look” she quipped before she padded away towards the kitchen.

Lionel watched her walk away before he padded over to the sliding door, gently tugging it open. Stepping out onto the balcony, he allowed his eyes to scan over the lights of the city before he heard Ava step out beside him, something which caused him to shake his head, moving to rest his weight against the balcony’s railing. “You weren’t wrong” he quipped “The view...it’s pretty nice. Though, I would argue that the view from your old balcony was probably better” he added, glancing over his shoulder slightly.

Ava, who’d been quietly sipping on her drink, smiled around the glass. “You barely ever came over to my apartment” she quipped.

Lionel scoffed playfully. “I came over plenty” he retorted.

Ava laughed, shaking her head. “I can probably count on one hand the amount of times you stopped by my apartment” she noted “You much prefer being in a place where you know everything. That, and the first morning you woke up in my apartment, my brother barged his way in and almost caught a sight of a lot more of you than you’d have wanted” she added, trying, and failing, to keep her amusement out of her voice.

Lionel grimaced. “Lucas” he mumbled.

Ava just nodded, allowing a few beats of silence to pass between the two of them.

Lionel shifted his feet, slightly uncomfortable in the silence, before he turned around. “How is he?” he asked, wanting to talk about anything as long as it broke the silence around the two of them “Lucas, that is” he added.

Ava bit her lip to keep herself from smirking at his blatant attempt to spark a conversation before she shrugged. “He’s fine” she noted “I mean, he’s still my big brother, and he’s maybe been a little clingy since I got back, but I am taking it as a good sign. I think it means that he missed me whilst I was gone” she added.

Lionel’s expression brightened into a tender smile, his fingertips rubbing his jawline sheepishly. “How could he not?” he asked.

Ava let out a shy laugh, not quite sure what to say to that.

Lionel closed his eyes, his cheeks flushing a faint shade of pink. “I keep doing that” he muttered.

“You’ve always just blurted things out when you’re not quite sure what to say” Ava replied “It’s something that I found...find sweet about you. You’re a little dorky, and a little romantic, but that’s a good thing. I like that” she insisted timidly.

Lionel opened his eyes, a goofy grin on his face. “You do?” he pressed.

Ava just shrugged, glancing down at her feet.

Lionel took a pace towards her, briefly contemplating reaching out to touch her face or push her hair back, before he stopped himself, not wanting to risk it just in case she pulled back like she had when they’d headed out to dinner for the first time. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he shifted his feet a little before he shook his head, sparing a glance down towards his watch. “I think I ought to go” he noted gently.

Ava nodded. “Ok” she noted.

“I’ll call you, though” Lionel insisted “You’re not getting rid of me so easily, Ava” he added warmly.

Ava’s lips quirked upward slightly, but she didn’t say anything, something which made Lionel nod his head slowly before he turned towards the door.

Ava watched him take a couple of steps before she followed after him, catching up to him as he reached the couch before she tossed her arms around him, pulling him into a tight hug that Lionel didn’t even hesitate in returning, his hug letting her know that he felt as though he had waited far too long for the chance to do it again.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comments :)