Burn Us Down

29: I Always Mean It

Placing the last dried plate back in the storage cupboard, Olivia swung the door closed, resting her forehead against it for a moment as she exhaled a quiet sigh. It had been a long day. Lunch with Melissa, which had featured more than a few digs at Gerard, had been followed by back to back classes, and whilst Olivia loved her job, she was more than ready for the day to be over. It had been the first step in trying mend fences. Melissa had all but stopped talking to her since she and Gerard had attended her family dinner together, and whilst Olivia and Melissa had both agreed that they wanted to try and put things right, their lunch had still been tense, something which had left Olivia with a slightly nagging headache. She understood where Melissa was coming from, she knew that her anger at Gerard stemmed from the fact that he’d hurt Olivia, but she couldn’t quite understand why she couldn’t leave her to make her own mistakes and be there when things went wrong.

Bumping her forehead against the door, she huffed out another sigh before the sound of laughter reached her ears, causing her to whip around, a tired smile lighting up her features.

Gerard smiled back at her. “Rough day?” he asked.

“Is it that obvious?” Olivia prodded.

“You hitting your head against the door might have given it away” Gerard played along.

Olivia offered him a bashful smile before she shook her head, tucking a flyaway hair behind her ear. “I’m just being dramatic” she mused “I had lunch with Melissa and it was…let’s just say it wasn’t as fun as it could have been and it’s left me a little worn out” she added.

Gerard’s teasing smile slipped out of his face, replaced by a concerned frown. “How bad was it?” he asked.

“Until you came up in conversation, it was going along pretty well” Olivia replied “But then I mentioned the dinner we had with your parents and she started with the little digs. I tried to ignore them, but you know Melissa. She likes to know when her point has been made” she added, rolling her eyes slightly.

Gerard didn’t know what to say to comfort her, something Olivia acknowledged with a soft smile before she stepped towards him, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. “It’s OK” she mused “I’m not asking you to find the solution. I know it’s only going to get better with time” she added.

Gerard placed a hand on her waist, stopping her from walking past, and guiding her into a soft hug that she was more than happy to return, comforted by the feel of his arms and the familiar scent of his aftershave. Letting out a sigh of relief, she held onto him for a few minutes, simply enjoying his presence before she leant back, smiling up at him softly. “What are you doing here?” she asked.

Gerard smoothed back her hair. “Would you believe I was just in the area?” he quipped.

“Not for a second” Olivia replied impishly.

Gerard laughed. “OK” he mused “I had something I wanted to run by you” he added.

Olivia pulled away from him, padding back through towards the teaching area with him close behind. “You couldn’t wait until I got home?” she chirped, progressing towards a fridge which she opened to pull out a plate of food.

Gerard’s face lit up as he took a seat, watching Olivia place the plate down between the two of them. “It could have” he replied “But I actually was somewhere local and I thought I’d drop in. What is this?” he added, pointing towards the plate.

“I’ve been working on desserts recently” Olivia replied, shaking her head amusedly at his abrupt change of topic “This is a lemon drizzle cupcake. My papa loves them and I was thinking about making him some for his birthday in a couple of weeks. Do you want to test it for me?” she asked, offering him a knowing smile.

Gerard offered her a playful grin. “It’d be my pleasure” he quipped before he picked the cake up off of the plate.

Olivia rolled her eyes, watching him happily, before she leant over, wiping away the frosting that had been left at the corner of his mouth. “So?” she asked.

“Your papa would be a fool not to love them” Gerard replied “They’re delicious” he added.

Olivia’s cheeks warmed at the compliment. “You always say that” she pointed out.

“And I always mean it” Gerard replied quickly “You’re brilliant, Livy” he added.

Olivia smiled at him, allowing a moment of quiet to pass comfortably between the two of them, before Gerard cleared his throat, his expression growing slightly sheepish. “So” he mumbled.

“So” Olivia chirped, mimicking him playfully.

Gerard feigned a glare, something which made Olivia giggle, a sound he’d grown to love more and more since she’d started to do it around him again. He hadn’t realised how much he’d loved hearing her laugh until she had stopped, and when things had started to get better, and she started to laugh around him again, he’d realised just how much he needed to keep hearing it. “I was just thinking about something” he said.

“Are you going to enlighten me?” Olivia prodded “Or did you come here just to be vague, because you could have done that at home” she added.

Gerard shook his head, laughing gently. “I’ve got a few days off” he noted “And I thought, since you don’t tend to work weekends, that maybe we could get out of the city for a few days. I mean, if that’s not too forwards, which it kind of sounds like now I am saying it aloud. Does it sound stupid to you?” he asked.

Olivia just watched him, trying to keep the amused smile away from her face.

“Paris” Gerard continued to ramble “I was thinking that we could go back there. I know how much you loved it when we there before, but the more I think about it, the more I think I am probably just getting ahead of myself” he added.

Olivia gently took his hand, squeezing it. “Cariño” she mused.

Gerard smiled down at their hands sheepishly, the tops of his cheeks flushing a light pink. “I still don’t quite know how to be” he admitted “I wanted to buy the tickets, I almost did, and then…then I thought I should probably make sure that it is something that you’re actually interested in. I want to be the romantic idiot I was before, but I know that the situation is different now and I just…I’m still working out where the boundaries are” he explained softly.

Olivia lifted his hand up, kissing his palm softly. “I love my romantic idiot” she whispered “And I’d love to go back to Paris” she added.

Gerard’s eyes widened in surprise. “You don’t think it’s too much?” he asked.

“It’s very you” Olivia replied with a half-smile “And honestly? I love Paris, and I loved the time we spent there. I can’t promise it will be perfect like that again, but I think it’s a good step. A couple of days away from everything, I think it sounds good” she admitted.

Gerard went to press her again, but stopped himself, instead offering her a gentle smile and her hand a soft squeeze. He knew it wouldn’t be the same. Paris for them the first time around had been a giddy experience, a mixture of a new romance and all of the bubbling emotions that that bought about, and he knew it wasn’t the same second time around, but he still hoped it’d be good for the two of them. He hoped returning to the scene of one of their very first good memories together would help close the little splintered cracks which were still trying to fuse back together.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)