Burn Us Down

01: It’s Something To Me


Olivia hurried to wipe her eyes on the sleeve of her sweater, her ears filled with the sound of Gerard’s heavy footsteps creaking down the stairs. She had been expecting to hear them for a while. Gerard was a creature of habit, and she knew that his alarm clock would have roused him a couple of minutes earlier, but she still hadn’t been quite ready to hear them and she knew that her surprise would cost her the chance to get herself together before he lumbered into the room, a familiar sleepy smile brightening his face. He didn’t know that there was something wrong, that her sister had called her nearly an hour previous with instructions to check her email, and he didn’t know that that email had had pictures attached to it, pictures that she had spent too much time staring at, hoping that she was seeing things.

Wiping her eyes again, she hurried to lean forwards and close her laptop before she turned around, watching as he strolled into the room, stretching his arms above his head. Blinking up at him, she felt her breathing shake a little before she lowered her head, staring at the floor as she tried to blink back the next wave of tears which stung her eyes.

Gerard stretched for a moment longer before he looked down at her, his easy smile dropping off of his face instantly. “Livy?” he breathed.

Olivia wiped her eyes on her sleeve again. “Melissa called” she said quietly.

Gerard crouched down next to her, his hand softly settling on her knee. “Did something happen?” he asked.

Olivia shifted out from under his touch, nodding towards her laptop. “Look for yourself” she said.

Gerard’s forehead creased a little, but he complied, gently prying the laptop open. Typing in Olivia’s password, he waited for the computer to load before his eyes widened.

“Melissa saw the magazine” Olivia said softly, her eyes darting away from the screen “Something you want to tell me about?” she asked.

There was no denying what they were looking at, the picture couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than Gerard kissing someone that definitely wasn’t Olivia, but she still wanted to offer him the chance to clarify it, even if she knew what it was showing her. Part of her wanted him to look up at her, his eyes wide and honest, and swear to her that it wasn’t what she was thinking, but she knew that he couldn’t and mean it. The pictures spoke for themselves.

Gerard swallowed, his eyes still studying the picture, before he turned to look up at her, his expression causing Olivia’s to crumple, more tears filling her hazel eyes. “Livy” he breathed softly “Nena, this is not…”

“Don’t you dare say that this isn’t what it looks like” Olivia interrupted, shaking her head.

Gerard exhaled softly, glancing back at the computer for a moment before he turned back to Olivia, offering her a firm nod of his head. “OK” he said.

Olivia kept her eyes on his, only looking away when she wiped her pyjama sleeve under her eyes. “Did you sleep with her?” she asked.

“No” Gerard replied.

“Did you want to?” Olivia followed up.

Gerard’s expression softened as he shook his head. “Livy…”

“What the hell am I looking at, Gerard?” Olivia spluttered out, choking slightly on a hiccupped sob “I thought that we were…I thought we were good. You asked me to marry you, we’re supposed to get married in six months and now I am sitting here and looking at…can you close that down again, please?” she stumbled out as she gestured towards the laptop.

Gerard turned around and closed it down.

Olivia stared at the closed laptop, allowing a heavy silence to hang between the two of them for a few excruciating seconds, before she wiped her nose with her sleeve. “What happened?” she asked quietly.

Gerard thought about telling her that it didn’t matter, but one look at her face convinced him otherwise. “It was just a kiss” he said softly “A group of us were out a couple of weeks ago, and she was with us. She was someone’s friend, I don’t exactly remember whose, but it all got a little out of hand. She flirted with me, and I…I returned it, and there was a kiss, but I swear to you, that that was all it was, Livy. One kiss, one time” he stressed.

Olivia shook her head, just about stopping herself from snapping a comment about how one time was still too many. “Is that what you do when I am not around?” she said quietly “You just…”

“No” Gerard’s interruption was firm “No, it’s not. Livy, don’t try and spoil all of the good with this one moment of bad, please” he added.

Olivia glanced down at her hand, drawing Gerard’s gaze down towards it too. “Why?” she breathed quietly, twisting the ring she had worn for months around her finger.

Gerard wanted to stop her, to gently thread his fingers through hers, but he stopped himself. He knew that if he tried, she would just pull her hand away from him. Letting out another shaky breath, he lifted his shoulders and let them fall in a half-hearted shrug. “I don’t know” he said softly “We’d been…it was just after that fight we go into and I just…I don’t know what to say to you, Livy. I fucked up, but it wasn’t anything, not really…”

“It’s something to me” Olivia interrupted, her eyes moving up to meet his “You kissed someone else. You didn’t tell me. I had to find out when my sister found it some magazine, which means some, if not all, of my family knew before I did. Everyone probably knew before I did, and now you’re going to sit there and tell me that it’s nothing?” she pressed, her voice more than a little incredulous.

Gerard wilted slightly.

“What am I supposed to say to you, Gerard?” Olivia whispered “What am I supposed do now?” she added, another wave of tears spilling over her cheeks.

Gerard shifted towards her, his hand cupping her cheek as his thumb brushed her tears away. “It was just one stupid mistake” he insisted softly “Just one stupid, stupid moment and I am so sorry for it, nena, you have to believe me when I say that. I am so, so sorry, Livy” he added.

Olivia just stared at him, hazel eyes still shining with tears.

“I will do anything you want me to” Gerard pleaded softly “Just name it, Liv, and I will do it for you. We’ve got four years together…”

“Did you think about that when you were kissing her?” Olivia’s voice was quiet, but the question was enough to cause Gerard’s hand to drop away from her face.

Olivia watched his arm fall away before she shuffled to her feet. “I…I am probably going to go to Melissa’s after work” she whispered “I need to…to think” she added.

Gerard wanted to speak up, wanting to point out that Melissa, who’d never really warmed to him, would only want to poison her thoughts against him, but he didn’t. “OK” he said quietly.

Olivia lifted her other hand towards her engagement ring, something which caused Gerard’s breathing to stutter, before she dropped it away again, earning an audible sigh in relief. Swallowing, she stared down at the ring for a second, before she lifted her eyes to Gerard’s. “I’ll call you when I want to talk” she said softly “Please don’t…”

“I won’t” Gerard said.

Olivia nodded tightly. “Thank you” she whispered before she shuffled out of the room, not quite knowing what to do next.