Since I Last Saw You

07: It’s Not Like We Won’t See Each Other Again

“Which of the cities you visited was your favourite?” Lionel asked as he stuffed his hand into his pockets, keeping in step with Ava who walked next to him, fiddling with the buttons on the front of her jacket. They’d been together for a while, with neither one of them having had plans for the rest of the afternoon, their lunch had been long and leisurely, and with Ava having chosen a restaurant that wasn’t too far a walk from her apartment, Lionel had offered to walk her home, not quite willing to let their time together end so soon.

It had felt better, after he had insisted that he wanted to hear about what she had been up to in the six months that she had been gone, Ava’s tentativeness had faded a little, making room for a few more genuine smiles and laughs, and Lionel wasn’t quite ready to let it go. For the first time since she had gotten home, Ava didn’t seem to be walking on eggshells around him and he wanted to make the most of it whilst he could, not quite knowing if things would slip when he said goodbye to her.

Ava, who’d been watching her feet as she walked, glanced over at him before she quirked a small smile. “I visited a lot of nice places” she commented.

“I don’t doubt it” Lionel replied “But you must have had a favourite. If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere unexpected, somewhere you’d not been to before, somewhere that surprised you” he added, his voice warm and playful.

Ava shook her head. “There was a lot of places like that” she mused “But, if you’re going to put me on the spot and ask me for a favourite, I’d have to say Naples. My mama was born there and she used to talk about it all the time, but we never got the chance to go when we were younger, so having the opportunity to go was pretty special, especially since my mama flew out and showed me around” she gushed.

Lionel just watched her with a soft smile, marveling at how her face had lit up.

Ava noticed his silence before she cast him a sideward glance, feeling her cheeks warm when she caught him looking at her. “Why are you staring at me like that?” she asked, refocusing her stare on her feet as they kept walking.

“You smile when you talk about it” Lionel replied nonchalantly “And, honestly? I kind of adore your smile” he added, breathing out a slightly sheepish laugh.

Ava spluttered at the compliment, feeling her already pink cheeks flush a deep shade.

Lionel laughed quietly to himself, amused that he had left her speechless, before he cleared his throat, taking a few steps before he spoke again. “Are you glad to be home?” he asked “I mean, I’m sure the last six months were great, but there must things about being in Barcelona that you’ve missed, no?” he prodded.

Ava let out a quiet sigh of relief at the subject change before she nodded, moving to tuck her hands into the pockets of her jacket. “I missed a lot of things” she mused “Hotel rooms are nice, but they’re not quite curling up on my own couch. I missed a lot of my things, but mostly I just missed being around my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, everyone who was there with me was lovely, but it wasn’t quite the same as heading over to my mama and papa’s place for dinner or getting together with my brother and his girlfriend” she explained.

Lionel nodded his head, just about refraining from quipping something about her having missed him too.

Ava caught his silence, but didn’t question it, instead opting to keep walking quietly for a few seconds before her apartment building started to come into view.

Lionel looked up, catching sight of the building, before he shook his head, something which made Ava smile a little. “You look a little disappointed” she quipped softly.

Lionel shrugged. “I thought we were further away” he commented “I’m enjoying myself and I thought...” he trailed off, smiling bashfully to himself.

Ava felt her stomach flip a little at the sight of his shy smile before she shook her head. “It’s not like we won’t see each other again” she mused “I mean, I know we both have busy schedules, but I am pretty sure that we can put together some time, no?” she pressed.

She knew why he was disappointed, with that afternoon having felt like the two of them had made some semblance of progress, she understood his wariness at it ending, knowing that he, like she did, worried that the next time that they saw one another, they’d fall back to square one and feel awkward around one another again. They were still trying to get to know one another again, and it meant that there was a chance that the awkwardness, which had receded for one afternoon, could come back again as they tried, perhaps a little too hard, to make another attempt at something between them.

Lionel nodded his head, still grinning shyly. “I’m sure we can” he agreed.

Ava flashed him a smile in return before they came to a halt outside of her apartment building, something which caused them both to look at each other, waiting for the other to make any kind of move. Keeping his hands in his pockets, Lionel kept his stare on Ava’s face, his dark eyes searching her blues for a few long seconds before he took a half pace forwards, testing the waters slightly.

Ava, surprisingly, didn’t take a reflexive step back, something which encouraged Lionel to step forwards until he stood ahead of her, his arms gently wrapping around her. Ava only held out for a fraction of a second before she wrapped her arms around him in return, melting into the tight hug for a few seconds before she tugged back, her blue eyes mirroring his briefly before she quickly looked away. “I had a good time” she murmured quietly.

Lionel grinned. “Not so bad for a substitute lunch date, eh?” he joked.

Ava laughed shyly, shaking her head.

Lionel took a second to marvel at her smile before he leant in close, brushing a soft kiss against her cheek. “I’m glad you asked me to come” he mumbled against her skin.

Ava closed her eyes, relishing the soft touch of his lips against her skin, before she stepped back, offering him a quick wave before she made her way inside, leaving Lionel smiling behind her, reassured that there was still very much something between them.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)