Burn Us Down

24: The Right Decision For Who?

Pulling his keys out of the ignition, Gerard reclined into his seat, staring up at Melissa’s house which was ahead of him. They knew that he was coming. With things likely to be tense already, the last thing Gerard and Olivia had wanted to do was spring his appearance at her family dinner as a surprise, but it also meant that he had heard a preview of what to expect, something which had increased the level of nervousness he felt. He’d always known that he wouldn’t be welcomed like he had been before. He’d hurt Olivia and it meant that, indirectly, he’d hurt Alex and Melissa too, but he hadn’t quite been expecting the yelling that he’d overheard when Olivia had called her sister.

Melissa didn’t want him there, from the snippets of the conversation that he’d overhead, the prospect of having him in her house had appalled her, but whilst it had tempted him to try and make his excuses, he had been quick to remind himself of the situation. He needed to face up to it. He needed to take whatever Melissa and Alex had to throw at him, and he had to do it for Olivia who seemed more than prepared to do damage to her other relationships for the sake of theirs.

Keeping his stare on the house, he took a couple of seconds to try and compose himself before he felt Olivia’s hand slip into his, squeezing it gently. Quirking a small smile, he glanced down at their hands before he picked his head up, marvelling at the shy smile she wore. “You should get your last looks in” he chirped with a gesture towards his face, his impish tone weighed down by his nervousness “I might not look the same when we leave” he added.

Olivia rolled her eyes, squeezing his hand again. “They’re not going to hurt you” she replied.

Gerard arched an eyebrow, a sad smile on his face. “I wouldn’t bet against it” he quipped.

Olivia picked their hands up, allowing her to press a soft kiss against the back of his. “I can’t promise there won’t be yelling” she mumbled “I mean, it’s practically a guarantee, but it’s something we’ve got to get through. Right?” she prodded.

Gerard nodded, taking in another composing breath, before he kissed the back of her hand. “Right” he agreed.

Olivia squeezed his hand again, trying to offer him what comfort she could, before she turned to climb out of the car.

Gerard hesitated for a split second before he followed, meeting her in front of the car before they progressed towards the front door together. Hanging back a step, he watched Olivia press the doorbell before she stepped back towards him, flashing him another one of her comforting smiles, but stopping short of retaking his hand, something which caused Gerard to sigh a little before the sound of the door opening reached ears. Swallowing, he lifted his head, relieved to see Valeria’s slightly strained smile as opposed to Melissa or Alex’s sharp expressions.

“Hello, Valeria” Olivia greeted gently.

Valeria stepped forwards, greeting her step daughter with a warm hug, before she stepped out of the way of the door, her eyes glancing up at Gerard uncertainly. “Everyone else is in the living room” she said quietly.

Gerard’s reflexive response was an uncomfortable half-smile, half grimace. “Max?” he asked, hopeful that the little boy would be around to break the tension.

Valeria shook her head. “He’s with Enzo’s parents for the day” she replied.

“Oh” Gerard exhaled softly “So it’s just going to be awkward, then?” he asked, a shaky laugh falling out of his mouth.

Valeria’s lips quirked upwards into a slight smile, but she didn’t say anything more, encouraging Olivia and Gerard to step past her. Reaching the doorway which led into the living room, both Gerard and Olivia stopped and hesitated for a split second before the defender took the step across the threshold, drawing Enzo, Melissa and Alex’s stares up towards him.

Melissa, who was sat furthest away from where Gerard stood, wordlessly got to her feet and walked towards him, her hand meeting his cheek with a clap that resounded through the otherwise silent room. Gerard’s head jerked to the side, but he didn’t say anything, simply opting to bring his hand up to cradle the cheek which glowed a bright shade of red.

“Melissa” Alex warned.

Melissa’s stare remained on Gerard’s face, her lips curving into a mean smile. “Nothing to say?” she prodded “Normally, we can’t shut you up” she added.

“Melissa, back off” Alex grumbled as he tugged his eldest daughter back.

Melissa muttered underneath her breath, but did stay back.

Gerard’s blue eyes surveyed the room, bouncing from one person from the next, before he shook his head, a soft sigh falling out of his mouth. “I know that you don’t want to hear anything from me” he said carefully “And honestly, I don’t even know what I could say to you. I’m sorry won’t cut it, and I know it, and I know that my excuses are…there’s nothing I could say that would be anywhere near good enough to explain or excuse what I did to Olivia…”

“You think so?” Melissa snarled “You’re an idiot, an asshole” she added.

Gerard nodded his head, looking down at his feet sheepishly.

Olivia, who’d been stood in the doorway, shuffled towards Gerard, her fingers gently twining with his.

Alex watched his daughter take the defender’s hand before he let out a sigh. “Why are you here, Gerard?” he asked gently.

“Because he’s my fiancé” Olivia answered before Gerard had a chance to.

“Why?” Melissa shot back “You could do so much better, Oli. What about Freddie?” she pressed.

Both Olivia and Gerard made the same face. Alfredo, or Freddie, was Enzo’s younger brother and Melissa had been trying for years, even before Gerard had appeared in Olivia’s life, to set him up with her younger sister. She thought they had a lot in common, or so she had always said whenever she had pointed out how much better suited he and Olivia would be than Olivia and Gerard, and Freddie had always had a crush on Olivia, but Olivia had never had any interest in him, even before she and Gerard had met.

“You know what I think about Freddie” Olivia replied.

“It doesn’t have to be him, then” Melissa shot back “But it really should be anyone but this idiot” she added, pointing at Gerard.

“You really don’t get to make the decision” Gerard replied, biting back the urge he had to roll his eyes and be a little snide. It wasn’t going to help.

“Olivia’s clearly not going to make the right one” Melissa retorted.

“The right one for who?” Olivia snapped “You? This isn’t about you, Melissa. This is about me and Gerard, and that’s why we’re here. I know that you’re angry for me, not at me. You all are, and I appreciate that, but this…” she trailed off as she squeezed Gerard’s hand, showing their interlocked fingers off to those who stood around them.

“This is what I want to do” Olivia continued “Gerard didn’t manipulate me into giving it another chance. He waited, and he let me have my space and time to try and get my head around things, and I have and I still want to be with him, and that’s just something all of you are going to have to get your heads around” she added, her voice softening as she looked between her father and sister pleadingly.

“I’m happy to keep away” Gerard contributed “I don’t want to impose my presence on you. I know I am probably not going to be welcome for a long time, and I understand that I am the reason why, I just…I just want things between you all to be alright. I’d hate for my stupid mistake, one that I am eternally sorry for, to put distance between all of you” he added.

Melissa scoffed, but didn’t say anything.

Alex looked at the defender thoughtfully before he nodded. “It’s going to take time” he said.

“Of course” Gerard agreed with a slightly too eager nod.

Alex’s focus moved to Olivia. “You’re happy?” he asked.

“Yes” Olivia replied without hesitation. She didn’t want to admit to her father that things were taking a while to settle down between her and Gerard.

Alex looked at her dubiously, almost sensing that she was holding something back, but he eventually nodded his head. “Alright then” he mused “But one time was too many times, Gerard. If anything like this ever happens again…”

“It will not happen again” Gerard interrupted firmly.

“I hope not” Alex replied, his expression betraying the affection he felt for the defender.

“You’re just going to give in?” Melissa hissed “Papa…”

“He makes your sister happy” Alex interjected “And if she wants to be with him, then that’s her decision. Besides, aren’t you forgetting the ‘break’ you and Enzo took?” he asked, offering his eldest daughter a pointed stare.

Melissa and Olivia’s eyes both widened, but neither said anything, allowing the room to fall into an awkward silence before Valeria poked her head inside, announcing that dinner was ready. The others filtered out after her, leaving Gerard and Olivia alone for a few seconds which were spent in a soft hug.

Gerard pressed a kiss to the top of Olivia’s head, smirking to himself as he thought about making a joke, but he dismissed the thought quickly, instead letting out a sigh of relief that he’d been holding in. “I love you” he mumbled into her hair.

Olivia squeezed him tighter, a soft smile on her lips. “I love you, too” she replied.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)