Burn Us Down

18: What Am I Supposed To Do?

Allowing the front door to close behind her with a soft thump, Olivia came to a stop in the middle of the hall, her fingers fiddling uncomfortably with the strap of the holdall which was draped over her shoulder. It was quiet. With Gerard out of town to play a match for Barcelona, the house had been silent when she had stepped inside, and whilst it was what she had wanted, it felt more than a little overwhelming.

It wasn’t the first time she had been back since the pictures had come out. She had had dinner with Gerard in their kitchen, even slept in their shared bed with his arms around her, but those moments had done little to soothe the awkwardness that she felt in being there, something which had made her slightly reluctant to pack her bags and leave the relative comfort of her hotel room. She wanted to be back with Gerard, she wanted things to slowly but surely return to normal, but she couldn’t shake the bad memories from her head, something which made their house feel more than a little foreign to her.

Nervously adjusting the strap on her shoulder, she glanced around the quiet house for a moment before she shuffled towards the stairs. Slowly wandering up them, she stopped outside of the spare bedroom, briefly contemplating throwing her bag inside, before she wandered away, making her way across the hall and towards the bedroom and she and Gerard had shared for years. Feeling a lump work its way up her throat, she held her hand against the wood, pausing for a few long seconds before she gently pushed it open.

Stepping inside, she moved to place her bag down in front of the wardrobe, making a note to unpack it later, before she turned to look at the bed. Blinking, she tried to swallow the lump in her throat before she felt her phone vibrate in the pocket of her jeans. Pulling it out, she glanced down at the screen before she felt a soft smile pull the corner of her lips upwards. She wasn’t quite sure what had made her smile more: Gerard’s name or the words he’d written.

‘I can’t wait to get home and see you’

Kicking his shoes off of his feet, Gerard forced himself to slow down, even despite the overwhelming urge he had to run up the stairs and poke his head into the spare bedroom, hoping to find Olivia curled up under the covers. He knew how big a step it was. As well as the last couple of weeks had gone since Olivia had spent the night, he knew that they were still a long way away from things being back to where they were, but he knew that her coming home was a big deal, even if he was sure that she would use the spare room to keep a distance between them for a little while. For him, them being under the same roof was enough.

Slowly, he pulled his jacket off of his shoulders, taking time to hang it up before he reached the foot of the stairs. Holding himself back for a few more seconds, he climbed up them and stopped outside of the spare bedroom, tapping his hand against the wood. “Livy?” he called softly.

“In here” Olivia’s voice called back.

Gerard tilted his head, trying to place her voice, before he shuffled across the hallway, stopping in the doorway which led into their bedroom.

Olivia, who was sat in the middle of their bed, looked up at him, her smile soft and uncertain. “Hi” she greeted gently.

Gerard blinked. “Hi” he replied “I thought you were going to…” he trailed off as he threw a thumb over his shoulder, gesturing to the spare bedroom.

Olivia let out a nervous laugh, shrugging her shoulders. “I might still” she replied “I’m not really sure what to do” she admitted.

“It’s late” Gerard replied “You could always try going to sleep” he added, trying his hardest to keep his voice light and playful.

He could feel the awkwardness creeping back in and he wanted to push it back, not wanting the positive of Olivia coming home to be overshadowed. It hadn’t disappeared, a couple of good weeks hadn’t been enough to push the awkwardness out entirely, but it felt like they’d made progress and he didn’t want that to slip. For the first time in weeks, they seemed more like themselves and he couldn’t bear to let it go again.

Olivia shook her head, a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes on her face.

Gerard shuffled towards the bed, sitting down on the edge of it with his back to her. “What can I do?” he asked gently.

Olivia stared at his back, mulling the question over for a few seconds, before she let out a soft sigh. “It just feels strange” she admitted quietly.

Gerard took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “This is still our place” he said carefully “The…the kiss doesn’t change that” he added.

Olivia’s eyes closed as she tried to shake the image of Gerard kissing the other woman. “It does” she replied “Because I was in this room when I got Melissa’s text. I was in the living room downstairs when I first saw those pictures” she added, knowing that his next question would be ‘why?’.

Gerard turned to look at her over his shoulder. “I can’t make that untrue” he said softly “If I could, I would, but I…I can’t” he added.

Olivia’s smile was sad. “I know” she mused.

“Then what am I supposed to do?” Gerard asked “Am I supposed to let you pack up another bag and leave again? Am I supposed to sell this place? How do I make you feel like this…this is where you belong?” he prodded, his expression soft and uncertain.

Olivia wanted to answer, to tell him that she knew what to do, but she couldn’t. Instead, she just fiddled with the duvet, allowing the stifling silence to hang around them.

Gerard kept his eyes on her, hoping that she would look up and answer, but after a couple of minutes of silence, he sighed gently, returning his stare to the floor. “Can I sleep in here or do you want me to go across the hall?” he asked quietly.

“Stay” Olivia replied softly “Please” she added.

Gerard hesitated before he gently nodded his head, pushing himself back up to his feet. Padding towards the bathroom, he got himself ready for bed before he wandered back into the bedroom, climbing in his side of the bed. By the time he got back, Olivia was curled up against her pillow, staring away from the bathroom. He thought about reaching out, about wrapping his arm around her waist and splaying his hand out on her stomach, but he stopped himself, instead turning over so that his back faced hers. Settling his head down, he kept his eyes on the wall, listening for the moment that Olivia’s breathing evened out which encouraged him to peek over his shoulder, wondering just what it would take for his home to feel like it was theirs again.