Since I Last Saw You

06: Only Time Will Tell

Tapping the screen of his phone, Lionel felt a grin tug at the corner of his mouth, something which had always happened when it came to Ava. He liked talking to her, even before they’d started to date officially, he had found himself enjoying the couple of weeks of texts that had come between their first meeting and his getting up the nerve to ask her out, and it hadn’t change since she had gotten back, even if their conversations were fewer and further between. They still had the ability to bring a small smile to his face. It had been a while, after Ava had invited him over for dinner, a couple of weeks had passed, and whilst they had yet to see one another again, Lionel was encouraged to believe that it would only be a matter of time before they did. Nearly every text conversation that he and Ava had had alluded to the prospect of them getting together in the near future.

Reading her text, he felt his grin widen a little at the invitation to join her for lunch before he typed out a reply, insisting that he would love to.

“What’s wrong with you?”

Lionel, who’d stood up to stow his phone back in his locker whilst he got changed, shook his head, not glancing up at Luis who’d spoken from behind him.

“You’re smiling” Luis continued to tease “Who’s on the other end of those texts?” he added.

Lionel just shrugged, pulling his training shirt off and replacing it with his t-shirt.

Luis watched him, thinking for a few seconds, before his expression softened a little in realization. “Ava” he breathed.

Lionel, who was changing out of his training shorts, stilled slightly before he shrugged, still not turning to glance up at the Uruguayan.

“How long has she been back?” Luis pressed gently.

“A couple of weeks” Lionel replied “She texted me to let me know that she was back and we’ve seen each other a couple of times, but it’’s not really anything” he added, answering the inevitable follow up questions he knew that Luis would ask.

He hadn’t spoken about it much, with him and Ava not having been seeing one another for very long before she had left, Lionel had been tentative about talking about their relationship, but he had told Luis what had happened between them, hoping that his friend would reassure him that he had done the right thing.

Luis nodded his head slowly, taking in the argentine’s words, before he spoke again. “How is she?” he asked.

Lionel stared into his locker for a few moments before he turned around, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly. “She’s OK” he noted.

“And the two of you...?” Luis trailed off.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards into a small smirk before he shook his head. “We’re talking” he noted “Which is more than I thought I would be able to say after we went out for the first time after she got back. The’s going to be hard to come back from but...” he trailed off, not wanting to voice the fact that he was slowly getting his hopes up about him and Ava.

He didn’t want to, despite the improvement, there was no denying that the overall atmosphere between him and Ava was still uncomfortable and he knew that they probably still had a long way to go before things fell back into place for them, but as long as her texts lit up his phone, and as long as she kept inviting him to spend time with her, he wanted to be optimistic. There was something between them, underneath the hurt and uncertainty that their break, or breakup, had caused there was still something, he wanted to believe that he and Ava could figure it out.

Luis quirked a small smile. “You think you’ll do it” he stated more than asked.

Lionel just shrugged, moving to collect his wallet, phone and keys from inside his locker. “Only time will tell” he quipped before he offered the forward a quick wave, ducking out of the changing room.

Turning over the page in her menu for what felt like the thousandth time, Ava glanced at the empty seat opposite her, feeling her stomach give its familiar turn. She had felt nervous, since she had sent Lionel a text that morning, asking if he wanted to join her for lunch, her stomach had been lurching with nerves, and she doubted that it would stop, even when she glanced over and found him sat in the chair opposite her. She had come to accept that, for a while, she was just going to be nervous about seeing him.

Brushing some hair off of her face, she reread the same description she’d been reading for the last five minutes before she felt someone stood behind her, causing her to glance up, her expression brightening into a shy smile without any hesitation.

Lionel, who’d been waiting for her to notice him, couldn’t stop himself from smiling in return. “Hi” he greeted timidly.

“Hi” Ava mimicked.

Lionel stood next to the table, hopeful that Ava would stand up and wrap her arms around him, something he had more than missed, but after a few seconds passed, he shuffled towards his seat, trying not to let his disappointment show.

Ava watched him sit down before she shook her head, glancing down at the napkin in her lap. “I’m sorry that the invite was a little last minute” she noted “I was supposed to meet Emma, a friend of mine, but her boyfriend showed up and surprised her and I didn’t want to let the reservation go to waste. Not you’re here just as a substitute, I did want to see you too, I just...” she trailed off as Lionel laughed quietly.

“I’m glad you asked” Lionel noted “Substitute or not” he added impishly.

Ava rolled her eyes, trying, and failing, to distract from the pink hue which had covered her cheeks.

“Did I ever meet Emma?” Lionel asked.

Ava shook her head. “You wouldn’t have done” she noted “I only met her whilst I was...she was part of the production crew” she added.

Lionel shook his head. “You know that you can talk about things that happened whilst you were gone, don’t you?” he pressed “I mean, it was six months of your life, I don’t imagine you spent every day filming and then went back to your hotel room. I want to hear about it” he insisted.

He hadn’t missed it, whenever Ava went to talk about things that had happened whilst she had been gone, she hesitated, and he wanted to encourage her to stop. It was a part of her life, and whilst it was prefaced by their breakup, he wanted to hear about it, knowing that it was something that Ava had been looking forwards to since he had known her. It was a first for her, her own cooking show as opposed the few guest spots she’d had previously, and he didn’t want her to feel as though she had to hide her enjoyment of it. He wanted her to talk about what she had enjoyed, what she had hated, and he didn’t want her to hide it just because what came before was them breaking up.

Ava stared him, her eyes searching his face, before she nodded, a small embarrassed smile on her face. “I thought you wouldn’t want to hear about it” she admitted quietly.

“I do” Lionel replied “I mean, as long as this isn’t a prelude to you telling me that you met someone else” he added, his voice caught between teasing and curious.

Ava didn’t waste a second in shaking her head. “I didn’t” she noted “I mean, there was this one guy who spent a bit of time flirting with me, but he never succeeded in convincing me to join him for dinner. He was sweet and all, he was just...” she trailed off, letting Lionel assume that the end of her sentence was some reference to how the other man hadn’t been him, an assumption which had him trying his hardest to stifle a grin.

Ava noticed his grin, but didn’t comment on it, instead holding up her menu. “Should we order?” she asked.

Lionel nodded. “We should” he quipped “And then you can gush about how well filming went” he added knowingly.

Ava just flashed him a smile, feeling herself relax just a little bit more around him.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)