You Loved Me Once

29: Don’t Lead Him On

“What are you doing here, Gerard?” Lionel mumbled as he peeked towards Alba, his dark eyes not missing the blush which was prominent on her cheeks. He knew that she had been trying to avoid it, for 9 weeks, she had been skirting around the issue of seeing his friends or introducing him to hers, but Gerard’s arrival meant that she couldn’t, something he could tell bothered her.

“I came to check on you” Gerard noted, his stare fixed on Lionel “I heard about your injury and I thought you might need some cheering up. It never occurred to me that she would be here, Leo” he insisted. He knew that the argentine wasn’t likely to believe him, just a few days previous, he had been enquiring about the blonde and then he had showed up unannounced, but it had slipped his mind. He had figured that, with the news he would be out for 2 months, Lionel would need cheering up and Gerard had merely wanted to help out.

Lionel offered his friend a slightly dubious look before he sighed, offering the tall defender a nod. “We were heading back to Alba’s soon” he murmured “But we can stay for a little while. Is that for me?” he posed, gesturing to the bag that the defender held in his hand.

“Your favourite” Gerard grinned, offering it out to the argentine.

Lionel grinned and took the bag out of his hand, eagerly pulling out the contents as Gerard sat down, his blue eyes studying Alba who was sat quietly beside her boyfriend. “Don’t I even get an ‘hola’, Alba?” he teased.

Alba nodded. “Of course” she noted gently “Hola, Gerard. It’s been a long time” she mused.

“Too long” Gerard quipped “Whatever happened to keeping in contact?” he posed, offering her a small smile.

“We don’t exactly travel in the same circles” Alba muttered, fiddling with the hem of her blouse “Besides, after…it happened, I didn’t exactly want to keep close to things that would only remind me of him” she added, her blue eyes peeking at Lionel who was contently eating the bag of food that Gerard had plied him with.

Gerard nodded. “I get that” he murmured.

Alba offered him a little look before a silence fell over them, something which made her shift a little uncomfortably.

“You look good” Gerard mused “I mean, you’ve not changed too much” he rephrased.

“Gracias” Alba noted gently “You’re still the same, though, I hear you’re a papa now” she noted, trying to spark a conversation that didn’t centre on her and Lionel. She knew what Gerard would say, it was written all over his face, and she didn’t want to listen to it. The last thing she wanted was to listen to the defender insist that Lionel had never meant to hurt her.

Gerard grinned. “I am” he mused “I have two boys, Milan and Sasha” he grinned, offering out his phone to her.

Alba took it and smiled, admiring the picture of the two boys who were happily in their father’s arms. “They’re adorable, Gerard” she enthused.

“They have their madre to thank for that” the defender fussed “She’d love to meet you, by the way. She’s itching to meet the girl who’s got him grinning like an idiot” he teased, nudging Lionel’s leg slightly.

Alba shook her head. “Grinning like an idiot?” she posed, her tone mildly amused.

“Gerard” Lionel warned.

Gerard merely offered the argentine an impish grin before he turned his attention back to Alba. “Whenever you text him, he gets this stupid little grin on his face and we all find it sweet, even if we do tease him relentlessly. It’s been a long time since we saw this smile” he enthused.

Alba smiled. “He really grins?” she teased.

“Like a little boy on Christmas” Gerard enthused.

“I think we all get the idea” Lionel muttered, a small frown on his face.

Alba giggled. “Don’t pout” she teased, poking his cheek gently “If anything, I think it is remarkably cute that you smile whenever I text you. I mean, I don’t do it, but the idea that you do is adorable” she added.

Lionel rolled his eyes. “Remind me why you’re here, Gerard?” he quipped.

“I came to cheer you up” the defender peeped, grinning at Alba who smiled back at him.

Lionel rolled his eyes, but smiled a little, relieved that Alba was smiling. He knew that it wasn’t something she wanted to handle, for a little while longer, she merely wanted to keep their relationship between the two of them, but watching her smile at Gerard made him grin. She looked slightly relaxed, not entirely, but enough, and he was happy. He wanted her to see that people knowing about them wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

“We should really think about going soon” Lionel muttered as he leant into Alba a little, dropping a small kiss on her shoulder. It had been a pleasant day, after Gerard’s interruption, Alba had relaxed greatly, and whilst Lionel was thrilled, he wanted to get back to her apartment, wanting to get comfortable before he fell asleep.

“We can go any time you want to” Alba mused, her eyes not shifting away from the game she and Gerard were playing “You have everything you want to take with you?” she posed.

“I will go and check” Lionel mused before he wrestled to his feet, collecting his crutches.

“He’s staying with you?” Gerard posed as he watched Lionel out of the room.

“For a couple of weeks” Alba noted “He needs someone to help him get around and it’s easier to stay at mine. It’s closer to work” she enthused.

Gerard nodded. “And that’s OK?” he posed.

“It’s been a couple of nights” Alba shrugged “Only time will tell” she added.

Gerard nodded his head quietly once more before he let out a small sigh, settling the games controller on the table ahead of him. “Look, Alba” he murmured “I know what he did was…”

“Gerard, I don’t want to hear it” Alba mumbled, shaking her head.

“He messed up” Gerard mused softly “He hurt you and whilst I don’t pretend to know what that feels like, I know he regrets nothing more than what he did to you. He thought at the time it was the right thing to do for you both” he insisted.

Alba shook her head. “You don’t know anything about what it feels like, Gerard” she muttered “And I would appreciate it if you kept you opinions to yourself” she added, her expression gentle.

Gerard nodded. “I get that” he noted “But can I just ask you to try and not lead him on? If this isn’t going to work, tell him, don’t string him along, Alba. Whether you believe it or not, he does love you” he noted before Lionel hobbled back into the room, his bag over his shoulder.

“You two OK?” Lionel posed.

Alba glanced at Gerard for a moment before she nodded, offering him a small smile. “We’re fine” she mused “You ready?” she added.

Lionel looked between the pair of them for a moment before he nodded, allowing Alba to take the bag off of his shoulder.

“Adios, Gerard” Alba mused, offering him a smile.

Gerard nodded. “I will see you soon” he mused softly.

Alba nodded softly before she padded out of the door, something which made Gerard frown a little to himself, not quite sure if she had listened to what he had had to say.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)