If It Gave Us Time

06: You’re Not Kids Now

“Are you feeling alright?”

Gerard, who’d been resting his head against the window of the coach, blinked a couple of times at the sound of Lionel’s voice before he turned his head, wordlessly asking if the argentine was talking to him. It had been a while, after he and Isla had gone to dinner, a few days had passed, and whilst Gerard hadn’t been expecting to hear anything from her, he was still a little upset that he hadn’t, something which had led to him being slightly quieter than normal, his mind still attempting to figure out how he could start to put things right between the two of them.

He knew that there wasn’t going to be a quick fix, even despite the years that had passed since he’d left, he knew that the way their friendship had ended was still something which upset Isla, and he knew it wasn’t something he could fix with a few jokes over dinner, even if he wished it was. He knew Isla well enough to know that a few goofy smiles and bad jokes weren’t enough to make her forget about what it was that had upset her.

“Hm?” he hummed.

“Are you OK?” Lionel rephrased “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for you being slightly quieter than normal, but it’s pretty weird. You’ve been strangely quiet for a couple of days now” he added, trying to keep his voice warm and teasing.

Gerard snorted out a soft laugh, but didn’t say anything, instead opting to pull at a loose thread which poked out of the headrest of the chair ahead of him.

Lionel watched him for a moment, allowing a couple of beats of silence to pass, before he lightly cleared his throat, shaking his head slightly. “What’s up with you?” he mumbled quietly “I mean, I’m enjoying the quiet, I really am, but this...this isn’t like you, Gerard. Is there something up?” he pressed tentatively.

Gerard was quiet for a moment, not moving his stare away from the piece of thread that he was messing with, before he gently shrugged his shoulders, turning to look at the other man. “Isla” he mumbled gently “You remember her?” he asked.

Lionel didn’t hesitate in nodding, a small grin appearing on his face. “I do” he confirmed “She was the girl that you were friends with when we were kids. The one that you...had feelings for” he added, his voice wavering slightly as he watched the expression on Gerard’s face flinch.

It wasn’t something that Gerard had spoken about a lot, with him and Isla having been as close as they were, he’d often gotten teased about having a crush on her, and Lionel knew that he was one of very few that knew that there was an element of truth to it, even if the defender did have a habit of being coy about it. Lionel knew him well enough to know that he had, at the very least, had a crush on her at one point.

Gerard flinched, but tried to cover it with an awkward smile, something which made Lionel shake his head, just about fighting the urge to tease the defender. “What about Isla?” he asked.

Gerard cleared his throat slightly, his fingers scratching his chin awkwardly. “I got set up with her” he announced.

Lionel tilted his head. “What?” he asked.

“Her friend is friends with Luis’s wife, and they set me up on a date with her” Gerard explained.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. “And?” he pressed.

Gerard let out a sarcastic laugh. “What do you think?” he asked “I mean, I’ve not seen her since we were teenagers and after promising her that things wouldn’t change when I moved away, I cut her out of my life after a little more than a year, so how excited do you think she was to find out that the date her friend had set her up on was with me?” he added, rubbing a hand over his face.

Lionel watched him for a second, mulling over what he’d said, before he shook his head. “You know it’s your fault, right?” he pressed.

Gerard let out another sarcastic laugh. “I’d noticed that” he quipped.

“How bad was it?” Lionel asked after a couple of seconds of quiet.

Gerard shook his head, a small ironic smile pulling at the corner of his lips. “She walked out on me” he noted “Twice” he added.

“Twice?” Lionel pressed.

“I convinced her to get dinner with me the next night” Gerard explained “Needless to say, I stuffed it up again and she walked out, insisting that we can’t just pick things up where we left off. I mean, I know that, I do, but I...I don’t know, I kind of hoped that bad jokes and pretending that nothing had happened would be enough to get her to talk to me. I mean, I know it’s a pretty terrible plan...”

“You could just be honest with her” Lionel interrupted.

Gerard blinked a couple of times, surprised by the interruption, before he let out a soft sigh, something which encouraged Lionel to keep talking. “I am sure that you had a reason for doing what you did” he noted “And whatever it was, I’m sure just admitting it to Isla, and explaining things to her, will likely have more favorable results than you annoying her into giving you another shot. You were a kid, Gerard, you made a mistake, and you’re probably better off just talking about it with her. You’re not kids now” he added, sparing the Spaniard a small smile.

Gerard looked down at him for a few seconds, quietly thinking over his words, before he shook his head. “She’ll be pissed, Leo” he mumbled.

“She already is, Gerard” Lionel countered “And for her to still be upset now...you must have hurt her pretty badly” he added before he felt the coach pull to a stop, something which encouraged him to climb to his feet, collecting his bag from the overhead locker.

Sparing Gerard another encouraging grin, he leant over and quickly patted his shoulder before he stepped away, leaving Gerard sat in his seat. The defender sat still for a moment, once more allowing the argentine’s words to hang around him, before he closed his eyes, knowing that Lionel was right. It wasn’t just going to get better, whatever relationship was still left between him and Isla, it wasn’t going to just repair itself through his bad jokes and her walking out on him, and he knew that in order to make it better, he simply had to admit what had happened, something which was easier said than done.