Burn Us Down

45: Well, Too Bad

“Are you sure that you want to come inside?” Olivia asked as Gerard pulled the car to a stop, allowing the two of them to stare up at her father’s home which loomed over them. She had been avoiding it. A combination of not wanting to listen to her father or sister berate Gerard and wanting to keep her pregnancy under wraps had meant that she had spent the few weeks that she had been back in Barcelona ducking her father and sister’s invitations to dinner, but she knew that she couldn’t keep it up forever, even if it did feel like walking into a trap.

One way or another, the news that she was pregnant was going to get back to them and she wanted to be the one to tell them. She didn’t have high expectations. She was almost certain that as soon as the words were ought of her mouth, both Alex and Melissa would freak out, but she still wanted to be the one to tell them. Regardless of their reaction, they were about to welcome two new members into their family and it was news that Olivia wanted them to hear from her.

Gerard offered her a playful smile as he pulled the keys out of the ignition. “’Want’ is a strong word” he quipped.

Olivia glared up at him, something which made Gerard laugh before he shook his head, his expression sobering a little. “I know what I am walking into” he said gently.

“Do you?” Olivia prodded.

Gerard nodded. “Your papa was pretty clear when he showed up when you were in Alicante” he quipped “He basically told me that I was the worst thing that had ever happened to you and that if he ever had to see me again, it’d be too soon, but I am not going to let that keep me from being here when you share our news. I know it’s not going to be all smiles and hugs, Livy, but I still want to be here” he insisted as he reached a hand over the centre console. Hesitating for a split second, he took in a breath before he carefully settled it on her stomach, a soft smile brightening his features.

Olivia stared down at his hand for a second before she moved her to cover it, squeezing it gently. “You’d really risk your pretty face to be here for the three of us?” she asked, her playful tone not matching the apprehensive look in her eyes when she looked up at him.

Gerard wanted to lean forwards and press a kiss against her forehead. He wanted to wrap her in a tight hug and insist that he’d do anything for her and the twins, but he stopped himself. There was no denying that they were making progress. A couple of appointments with their counsellor had started to soothe some of the tension which existed between the two of them, but it still wasn’t quite enough for them to feel entirely at ease around one another.

Olivia still ducked away from contact that wasn’t about the twins, and Gerard didn’t have it in him to keep watching her do it. It stung every time. No matter how many times he told himself to expect it, no matter how many times he reminded himself that their relationship wasn’t what it had been before, it still hurt him when she quirked that awkward smile and stepped away, and it meant that he tried his hardest to keep his distance, even if it went against all of his instincts.

Instead of moving towards her, he offered her a small half-smile and a nod. “Yeah, I would” he mused.

Olivia noticed the tightness in his smile, but was stopped from commenting on it when the front door of her father’s house swung open, allowing the older man, flanked by Melissa, to step onto the stoop.

Gerard watched Olivia shrink back into her seat, her eyes softening sadly, before he turned over the hand which sat on her stomach, allowing their fingers to slot together before he squeezed gently. “Ready?” he asked.

“No” Olivia mumbled, letting out a sad laugh.

Gerard squeezed her hand again. “Well, too bad” he teased gently “They’ve already seen us, so it means we have to go and get it over with” he added.

Olivia let out another sad laugh, but nodded her head. gently detaching her hand from Gerard’s, she pushed the car door open and made her way up her path, holding up a hand when her father opened his mouth. “Not out here” she said “Please, papa” she added, her voice softening.

Alex glanced over Olivia’s shoulder, sending a cold look towards Gerard, before he turned around, ushering Melissa back inside.

Olivia heaved out a sigh, but relaxed when Gerard’s hand lightly touched the small of her back. “You can still run” she quipped, smiling up at him shyly.

Gerard scoffed playfully. “Not a chance” he quipped.

Olivia wanted to turn into him and hug him tight, but she refrained, instead slowly making her way inside. Peeking over her shoulder, she made sure that Gerard was following her, before she turned into the living room, feeling the glares before she saw them. Dropping her stare to her feet, she took in a deep breath before she looked back up, meeting her father’s eyes. “Papa...”

“Why is he here?” Alex interrupted

“Alex” Valeria, who was sat on the opposite couch, warned.

“I was polite before” Alex retorted “I gave him the benefit of the doubt before and how did he repay that?” he added.

Gerard just lingered in the doorway, shifting his feet as he stared down at the floor.

“Why is he here, Olivia?” Alex pressed again.

Olivia let out a quiet sigh, her eyes flitting between the faces the filled the room, before she shook her head. “You know what?” she said gently “If you can’t even attempt to be civil, then I am not going to stick around for very long. I know what he’s done, papa, and I know what that did to me, but if I want him here, then you’re just going to have to deal with it, and I do want him here because the two of us…we have something we want to share with you” she explained.

Reaching into her pocket, Olivia slipped out the latest scan photo and placed it onto the coffee table ahead of her father and sister. “I’m pregnant” she revealed gently “Twelve weeks. Twins” she added.

Alex blinked, his hand quickly scooping up the picture.

“Twins?” Melissa squeaked.

Olivia quirked a shy smile and nodded. “Yeah” she confirmed “It surprised us too” she added, looking back at Gerard who smiled at her softly.

Melissa caught the look between the two of them before she shook her head, her eyes drifting towards Enzo who stared at her, wordlessly pleading with her not to say anything. Swallowing, she looked away from her husband and back towards her younger sister. “You’re taking him back?” she asked.

“Melissa, don’t” Enzo snapped.

Melissa ignored him. “He’s here” she said “That says a lot. Are you really going to trust him again?” she asked.

Olivia scoffed. “Where do you get off?” she asked.

“Livy” Gerard’s hand gently tugged on her wrist, trying to coax her away.

“No” Olivia replied “How can you just sit there like you’re so freaking wonderful, Mel? You were on the cusp of leaving Enzo when you found out about Max, and now you’re going to sit there and give me a hard time?” she hissed.

“I’m just trying to look out for you, Olivia” Melissa replied.

Olivia’s answering laugh was sharp. “Maybe you should just keep your opinions to yourself, Mel” she muttered “I didn’t judge you when you were cheating on your husband, so maybe you could return the favour and just…just keep your nose out of my business. I came here tonight to share some wonderful news, not to get a lecture from you. We wanted to tell you together, because Gerard’s the father of these babies, and that’s not going to change, so either get used to it, or expect to see a lot less of me. That goes for all of you” she added, glancing at her father, step mother and brother-in-law.

Melissa just blinked.

Alex looked between his two daughters, not quite knowing how to break the thick silence, before he stepped towards Olivia. Touching a hand to her shoulder, he coaxed her into a soft hug, something which Olivia relaxed into, smiling shakily when he pressed a kiss against her hair. “Twins?” he breathed softly.

Olivia let out a soft laugh, nodding against his shoulder. “I know” she squeaked.

Alex stepped back, allowing Valeria and Enzo a chance to embrace Olivia, whilst he looked over her shoulder at Gerard who was just observing the scene. He knew that the younger man was always going to be a sore spot. Melissa, and Alex, were protective of Olivia and Gerard, he’d hurt her, but his being in the room said a lot about him. He could have avoided it. Alex knew that Olivia would have offered an out, and Gerard could have easily taken it, but he hadn’t. He’d still come along, knowing precisely what was waiting for him, and Alex couldn’t help but begrudgingly admire him for it. He didn’t quite know that he would have done the same thing in his position.

Watching a small smile twitch at the corner of the younger man’s mouth, Alex caught Gerard’s stare, offering him a begrudging nod which Gerard returned timidly, that little smile growing just the tiniest of a fraction wider.