Love Me Until My Heart Stops

24: Better Than You

“How are you holding up?” Lionel posed as he set a mug of coffee down on the counter top, his dark eyes peeking at the other man who sat opposite him, a tired expression on his face. It hadn’t been a surprise, after the picture of Gerard and Esmé had emerged, it had almost been inevitable that Cesc would show up, but Lionel didn’t quite see what the point was. He knew that Cesc still cared for Esmé, after the way he had fallen for her, his feelings for the brunette were not simply going to disappear when she ended things, but Lionel doubted that he could change what had happened. Esmé was hurt, Cesc had been the reason for it, and Gerard, even if his timing was off, was the best thing that could have happened to her, even if Cesc couldn’t see it, the defender had made Esmé happier than he’d ever seen her before.

Cesc, who had been aimlessly staring at his phone, sighed, his dark eyes peeking up at the argentine. “How do you think I am holding up, Leo?” he posed gently “My so-called best friend is sleeping with my ex-girlfriend who refuses to even look at me without referencing the biggest mistake I have made. How do you think I am coping?” he muttered.

“You didn’t have to come here, Cesc” Lionel noted gently.

Cesc snorted. “So I was supposed to pretend that it didn’t bother me?” he quipped.

Lionel shook his head gently and sat down at his friend’s side, sipping his own drink gently. “Of course it was going to bother you, Cesc, but do you really think coming here and throwing a fit like a little boy is going to help? She’s 26 years old, she’s very capable of making her own choices, and for now, at least, she wants to be with him” he explained gently.

Cesc shook his head. “She could have picked anyone, Leo, any guy she wanted. Why did it have to be him?” he spat.

Lionel shrugged. “It was only ever going to be him, Cesc” he commented, swallowing a mouthful of his tea “He’s always been there, he’s her shoulder to cry on and you cannot be as surprised as you pretend to be that it was him that she ended up with. Whether he knew it or not, Gerard’s positioned himself perfectly and now he’s got her all to himself” he explained, smiling a little.

“You’re not bothered by it?” Cesc asked, his voice almost incredulous.

Lionel shook his head. “As hard as it might be for you to stomach, Gerard and Esmé are adorable together. I’ve known for a little while about them and in the few weeks since they started dating, they’ve both been wandering around with this loved-up look on their faces. It’s remarkably sweet” he enthused softly. He knew that it wasn’t what Cesc wanted to hear, if anything, Cesc had showed up at his home in search of someone to tell him that he was right to feel aggrieved, but Lionel wasn’t going to do it. He liked Gerard now that he was with Esmé, the defender seemed brighter and more cheerful if it as possible, and he didn’t want to question it. Cesc had made the mistake and what Gerard and Esmé had done after that was well within their rights.

Cesc shook his head. “She’s doing this to get at me” he muttered.

Lionel snorted. “You’ve met Esmé Silva right?” he quipped “You know her?” he added.

“How else do you explain her getting with him, Leo?” Cesc complained, offering his friend an exasperated look.

“She actually likes him, Cesc” Lionel replied “I know that that might be hard to get through your skull right now, but Esmé likes Gerard and Gerard…well I don’t think I have ever seen him so smitten before. I know you don’t believe that she’s doing this to hurt you” he added.

Cesc sighed and pushed his fingers through his hair. “I just want the chance to talk to her, no yelling, no Gerard. I just want a shot at explaining myself” he mumbled gently.

“You really don’t get it, do you?” Lionel quipped “Cesc, Esmé doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. She doesn’t want cheap apologies or gimmicks. You had her, you were happy with her, and within the blink of an eye, you pulled that right out from underneath her and for little or no reason. She’s not waiting on an apology Cesc, she’s not waiting on you and you need to stop thinking that you can change it” he explained gently.

Cesc shook his head gently. “How can I just pretend that I don’t hate that she isn’t with me?” he posed.

“I don’t know, Cesc” Lionel replied as he quietly got to his feet, hearing the movements of his wife upstairs “But you need to learn because it is not fair of you to try and drag her back into something she clearly doesn’t want to be in anymore. She’s got him, and whilst I know that must hurt, especially given that it is Gerard, but Esmé is happy and surely, above all else, that is what you want no?” he posed.

“Of course it is” Cesc replied “I just don’t see why she couldn’t still be happy with me. I fucked up, Leo, I know I did, but surely she could have given me a shot at proving to her that I am not the same idiot?” he protested. It was selfish of him, Esmé deserved a shot at moving on and he knew he had little right to deny her it, but he still couldn’t just let it drop. With Gerard or not, his feelings towards the brunette were still the same and he didn’t see them changing any time soon, regardless of her relationship with his friend.

Lionel rolled his eyes. “She’s not going to do that Cesc, and you know it too” he commented, moving to prepare breakfast “She’s not going to just pretend that you didn’t sleep with another girl because you ask her to. You say you love her, but I am not quite convinced” he mumbled.

“What the hell do you know about it?” the midfielder shot.

“I know that if you actually had any feelings for her, you’d realize that she’s happy with your friend and that no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to change it and even if you could, do you think it would matter? You can take her away from Gerard, but that’s not going to change the fact that you cheated on her and that you blamed it on her. Cesc, you can throw tantrum after tantrum, you can throw apology after apology at her, but that doesn’t take it back or fix it. Perhaps you should just man up and accept that Esmé deserves better than you” the argentine quipped before Thiago padded into the room, greeting his father with a wide smile.

Cesc allowed Lionel’s sharp words to resonate for a second before he flicked his eyes towards his friend, smiling a little as he carried the little boy around the kitchen, trying to offer him some breakfast. He knew that his friend had a point, Esmé did deserve better than him and in Gerard, she had probably found it, but that didn’t make it easier to take. She was the first girl he had seen a future with, he’d pictured a marriage and children, and he didn’t quite know how to let go of it all over one mistake. She was the one he wanted to share his life with, he wanted her to be the mother of his children, and he didn’t know if he could just let it go as Lionel had suggested, even if he did know, deep down, that it was for the best.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comments :)