Burn Us Down

04: When Has That Stopped You Before?

“Ok?” Gerard squeaked.

The word had surprised him. It was what he wanted to hear, he wanted to know that there was still a chance for him to salvage things between them before they fell apart completely, but still hearing her say it had knocked him back slightly. As much as he wanted to hear to it, he had sincerely doubted that he would.

Olivia offered him another slight nod, her eyes making no attempt to glance up at his face. “OK” she repeated quietly.

Gerard wanted to reach out to her, but before he had the chance, Olivia put a hand up between them, her eyes slowly moving up to meet his. “I’ve loved you for four years” she murmured “And I…I don’t want to just call it quits, but this…this is on my terms, OK? I’m hurt, and I am not just going to stop feeling like that over night because I don’t want to lose you. You have to understand that what you did…that hurt me, Geri” she insisted softly.

Gerard nodded his head, his hand rubbing his jaw sheepishly.

“I am probably going to stay with Melissa for a while” Olivia said, breaking the moment of awkward silence which had descended over the two of them.

“You don’t have to do that” Gerard protested softly, stepping into the hand she still held between them, keeping them apart.

“Yeah, I do” Olivia replied “Right now, this place feels…it doesn’t quite feel like it did a few days ago. I’m not suggesting that I am going to pack up all of my stuff and start looking for somewhere else to live, but right now…right now I don’t think I can be here” she explained, her words carefully chosen.

She couldn’t quite put it into words, the idea that their home just didn’t quite feel right to her in that moment was hard for her to vocalise, and she hoped that he wouldn’t try and press it. It had always been his place, after eighteen months together, she had given up her apartment in the city to move into his home, and whilst it had started to feel like their place pretty quickly, the events of the last couple of days had shifted her perspective back again, making her feel out of place.

Gerard stared down at the hand she held between them before he looked back up at her face. “OK” he said softly.

“You don’t mind that?” Olivia asked.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards slightly. “I’d rather I didn’t have to risk my life to come and see you, but if that’s what you need right now, then yeah, OK” he quipped, his voice caught between soft and impish.

Olivia shook her head, not quite able to stifle the little smile that tugged at the corner of her mouth. “I can’t promise that I can protect you from Melissa, or any of my relatives for that matter” she played along.

Gerard’s grimace was half embarrassed, half playful. “I might have already gotten a pretty strong voicemail from your papa” he mused.

“How bad was it?” Olivia asked.

“Let’s just say that after that message, I think Melissa might be my biggest fan in your family” Gerard replied, trying to keep his tone bright.

Olivia opened her mouth to say something, but Gerard was quicker, letting a soft, self-deprecating laugh. “You don’t have to say anything” he mused “I’m the one who screwed up, so I am the one who’s going to take the hits when they come. They have every right to be pissed at me, Liv” he added, his voice softening.

Olivia lowered her stare, glancing at their feet as a beat of silence passed between them.

Gerard took a pace towards her, gently pushing her auburn hair back off of her face. “You’ll need some more of your things” he said softly “Enzo didn’t pack a lot and what he did pack…I don’t pretend to be some kind of fashion expert, but his taste is pretty terrible” he added, cracking another hesitant smile.

Olivia allowed him to gently tuck her hair behind her ear before she swayed away from his touch, letting out a shaky laugh. “It is” she agreed “He bought me a pair of shoes that didn’t even match” she added.

“The black ones you love so much” Gerard quipped “He left the other one on our bedroom floor” he added.

Olivia smiled despite herself, her stomach flipping a little at the fact he knew which pair of her shoes was her favourite.

Gerard smiled when she smiled before he gently cleared his throat, stepping out of the way of the stairs. “I’ll let you get to it” he said “That t-shirt of mine that you stole the other week is in my top drawer, you know, if you still want it” he added, grimacing at the awkwardness in his own voice.

It was something she always did, despite an overflowing drawer of her own pyjamas, she nearly always clambered into bed dressed in a t-shirt of his which swamped her tiny frame, but the comment felt strange falling out of his mouth. He wanted her to take it, he wanted the image of her climbing into bed in her sister’s spare bedroom, still dressed in his t-shirt, to give him hope that they could figure things out, but he didn’t know if it was something he could ask for. He didn’t know what he could or couldn’t say, and he hated the limbo of not knowing what was too much to ask.

“The grey one?” Olivia asked.

Gerard nodded. “Yeah” he confirmed “Should be at the top of the pile” he added.

Olivia nodded. “You don’t mind me taking it?” she asked.

Gerard’s smile was soft, caught between hopeful and playful. “When has my minding ever stopped you before?” he prodded.

Olivia’s genuine laugh surprised them both, giving way to an awkward silence which lasted for a handful of seconds before she moved to step around him. Gerard lingered in the hall, listening to her light footsteps as they padded up the stairs, before he turned around. “Liv…”

“Call me” Olivia cut him off, peeking back at him over her shoulder “We can…we can get dinner or something and talk some more” she added.

Gerard tried to keep his face blank as he nodded, but he couldn’t have stopped the little smile which pulled the corner of his mouth upwards even if he had tried. “I’ll set something up” he confirmed.

Olivia climbed a couple more stairs, debating whether or not she ought to backtrack, before she nodded her head in agreement. “OK” she greed before she progressed up the stairs and towards their bedroom.