In the End

09: He Deserves To Hear It

Quietly pushing the last of her food around her plate, Ariella sighed to herself softly, her mind still spinning with the voicemail that Gerard had left for her. She had tried not to let it bother her, with her friends and Adrian around to celebrate her birthday, the last thing she had wanted to do was sit around distractedly, but she couldn’t seem to get her mind off of it, even if she had tried to participate in the conversations that were going on around her. She couldn’t quite pull her mind fully away from the message that the defender had left for her. It had caught her off guard, with things being as they were between her and Gerard, she had assumed that he would simply let her birthday slip by without notice, and it had surprised her that he hadn’t, even more so to hear him admit that he was missed her.

Shaking her head to herself, she gently pushed her fork around her plate for a few moments before she felt a light nudge against her leg, causing her to pick her head up, her blue eyes settling on Adrian who sat beside her, a small frown on his lips. “Did you hear me, Ella?” he asked.

Ariella blinked a couple of times, surprised by his question, before she shook her head, quirking a weak smile. “I’m sorry” she noted “I’m completely in a world of my own. What were you saying?” she posed, moving to take a sip of the glass of lemonade which sat on the table ahead of her.

Adrian offered her a curious look, not missing how distracted she was, before he shook his head. “I’ve just got a text” he noted “A friend of mine has found me substitute job for tomorrow, but it involves some travelling and it means that I am going to have to get going now. I wanted to make sure that that was OK with you before I accepted it. I mean, it is your birthday after all and if you want me to stay, I can. Just give me the word” he added, a soft smile appearing at the corner of his mouth.

Ariella stared at him for a moment, mulling over his words, before she shook her head, offering him a light smile. “I don’t mind” she mused “I mean, I’d have liked you to stay, but I know that you’ve been itching to find something. It’s OK” she insisted.

“Are you sure?” Adrian posed.

Ariella nodded. “I’m sure” she quipped “How long’s the job for?” she posed.

“A week or so” Adrian replied.

Ariella merely nodded, something which caused Adrian to lean towards her, pressing a sweet kiss against her lips. “I’ve got to go and get a start of packing” he mused “You’ll be Ok to get home?” he posed.

“We can give her a lift” Lionel contributed helpfully.

Adrian flashed him a grateful smile before he turned back towards Ariella, offering her a soft smile as he gently brushed her dark hair behind her ear. “I’ll call you when I get there” he mused “Happy birthday, Ella” he added before he dipped down, pressing another soft kiss against her lips.

Ariella held onto him for a couple of seconds, enjoying the kiss briefly before she pulled away, allowing Adrian to offer Antonella and Lionel a swift wave before he moved to leave the table. Watching him weave out of the restaurant, she gently shook her head before she turned her eyes back towards the table, her hand quickly locating the dessert menu. “Are you guys going to get anything?" she posed, sparing a glance across the table towards Lionel and Antonella.

“What’s up with you?” Antonella asked.

Ariella blinked a couple of times, surprised by the question, before she tilted her head. “Huh?” she posed.

“You’ve been quiet” Lionel pointed out “And that’s not like you, especially not today. There is clearly something bothering you” he added, his voice softening slightly. It hadn’t gone unnoticed, since she had sat down, she had been quiet and distracted, and both Lionel and Antonella were curious, even if Adrian did seem slightly oblivious. There was clearly something on her mind and they wanted to know what it was, not liking the idea that there was something upsetting her on a day that was supposed to be one of celebration.

Ariella spared him a soft glance, briefly contemplating insisting that there was nothing bothering her, before she gently shook her head, her fingers gingerly readjusting a hairclip which had come a little loose in her hair. “Gerard called me” she murmured.

“What?” Lionel squeaked, more than a little surprised by her words. He had thought that, if one of them was going to call the other, it would be Ariella who’d call Gerard.

“I missed the call” Ariella noted, smiling weakly at the surprise in Lionel’s voice “He left me a voicemail. He didn’t say too much, he just wanted to wish me a happy birthday, but he...uh...he admitted that he missed me and now I can’t... I can’t stop thinking about it, I know it’s stupid” she muttered, shaking her head.

Lionel and Antonella shared a look before she leant forwards, her hand gently taking a hold of Ariella’s which fiddled with the pages of the menu. “I know it’s not our business” she murmured “I mean, whatever it was that happened between you two, it’s between you and Gerard, and I get it if you don’t want to talk about it, but what did happen, Ella? You’d waited so long to get things together and then in a matter of months, it was over. What went wrong?” she asked, her voice tentative and unsure.

It wasn’t something that they’d talked about, with the breakup still being relatively fresh, Ariella hadn’t been forthcoming with her reasons for ending the relationship, but Antonella wanted to ask, even if it was likely that Ariella merely shook her head, she wanted to know what it was that had caused the brunette to curtail a relationship that she had waited so long to start.

Ariella shifted in her seat slightly, briefly mulling over Antonella’s question, before she let out a soft sigh. “It’s going to sound so stupid” she murmured “I mean, the more I think about it, the more I think it’s stupid and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that I’m just an idiot who wrecked what me and Gerard had but...but I got scared” she babbled.

“Scared?” Lionel asked tentatively “Scared of what?” he added.

Ariella peeked up at him briefly before she dropped her stare, settling it on the table ahead of her. “I got scared that he was going to be it for me” she murmured “We’d been together for six months, and already I couldn’t quite see myself with anyone but him, but that terrified me then. Our relationship was different, we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and yet he still acted like things were exactly the same, like we were still ‘just’ friends, and I just...I panicked. In my head, it was different, us moving from friends to something more, it was supposed to be seamless and easy, and it wasn’t. We struggled to grow into it, it took a couple of months for us to be able to kiss without one of us making a bad joke or blushing, and I...I thought that that was how it was always going to be and so I panicked, and I dumped him, thinking that it would be a hell of a lot easier to just slip back into being friends than trying to force something else” she explained, shaking her head as a rueful smile appeared at the corner of her mouth.

Lionel and Antonella shared a look, allowing Ariella’s words to hang around them for a few long seconds, before the brunette shook her head, her hands trying to subtly wipe away a couple of tears which had snuck out of her eyes. “You can tell me how stupid it sounds” she murmured “I mean, the more I think about it, the more stupid I think it is, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it. I ruined it, me getting into my head, me not just talking to Gerard...I managed to fuck up something which...which I had waited so long for, with someone that I love. It’s my fault, all my fault, and I don’t need you to try and spare my feelings. I’m the one who messed up” she added, her voice wavering slightly as she tried, in vain, to keep herself from crying.

“Ella” Lionel cooed softly as he pushed himself up, slipping into the seat that Adrian had vacated so that he could rub her back soothingly.

Ariella turned into him, accepting the hug without a word.

“You should have talked to him” Lionel mumbled, his hand gently rubbing up and down her back.

Ariella nodded against his shoulder.

“You really hurt him, Ella” Antonella noted “I mean, he was so in love with you” she added.

Ariella sniffled a little before she pulled away from Lionel, nodding her head. “I know he was” she murmured.

“You love him?” Lionel asked.

Ariella hesitated briefly before she nodded her head slowly. “I do” she confirmed “But it doesn’t matter now. I’ve made such a mess of the last few months, I’ve hurt him too much, and I don’t want to do it anymore. He needs to be away from me, I understand that, and I am not about to make things harder on him again. I’ve done far too much of that recently. He deserves so much more than that” she insisted firmly.

“You don’t think you ought to tell him all of this?” Lionel posed “I think he deserves to hear it, Ella. I think it might help him” he added. He knew that Ariella didn’t want to hurt Gerard more, the expression on her face confided it, but he wanted to encourage her to talk to him, even it was to be for the last time. He thought that the defender was more than entitled to hear what it was that had gone so wrong between the two of them.

Ariella, who’d dropped her stare back towards the table, lifted her eyes, meeting Lionel’s darker ones. “You think so?” she posed.

Lionel nodded. “It’ll be closure for him” he mused “At least if he can understand what happened, he might be able to start to...” he trailed off.

Ariella offered him a sad smile, knowing precisely what the end of that sentence was, before she nodded her head, knowing that he was right. Gerard deserved it, he deserved to understand what had happened between the two of them and he deserved the chance to move forwards, and Ariella knew that she had to give it to him.
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Thanks to mslou1, FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)