Burn Us Down

52: Maybe You’re Right, Maybe It Got To Me

Bustling through the door, Gerard forced himself to stop before he fell over, his stare quickly landing on Olivia who was sat across the waiting room, flicking restlessly through the magazine that she clutched in her hands. He was cutting it fine. A team meeting at the end of the morning’s training session had delayed his arrival for the counselling session that he and Olivia had booked for that afternoon, and he had worried that that would cause Olivia to leave, knowing how uncomfortable the sessions made her. It was something they needed. After inputs from friends and family, they needed someone who could listen to the two of them and not take sides, but he knew that Olivia hated the sessions like he did. It was uncomfortable. Raking over their past and listening to the other say things that they’d never heard them say before was hard, but neither one of them wanted to stop. As uncomfortable as they felt, the sessions did seem to be helping the two of them and as long as that was the case, Gerard knew that he and Olivia would find themselves in the same waiting room.

Olivia, who’d heard the door as it hit the wall, glanced up from her magazine, a shy smile quirking up at the corner of her lips.

Gerard felt his cheeks warm as he caught the receptionist’s glare out of the corner of his eye before he stepped towards Olivia, leaning down to greet her with a soft kiss. “Hi” he mused softly, plopping down into the seat at her side.

“Hi” Olivia replied.

“I’m sorry I’m late” Gerard mused “We had a meeting after training and it took a little longer to get away than I thought. I should have texted” he added.

Olivia, who’d leant forwards to place the magazine down onto the table in front of them, shrugged. “You made it in time” she replied, forcing another smile.

Gerard thought about wrapping an arm around her, about repeating the same thing they’d both repeated to one another more than once since they’d started, but he opted against it. He knew that there was very little he could say that would make her discomfort disappear. Sparing her a soft look, he watched her fiddle with the material of her dress, smoothing it out over the top of her bump before their names were called. Springing up out of his chair, he carefully helped Olivia up before he took a hold of her hand, leading her into the office.

“Can I get you two anything to drink before we start?” Eleanor, their counsellor, asked, a pleasant smile on her face.

Gerard shook his head. “Livy?” he prodded.

“No, thank you” Olivia replied quietly.

Eleanor nodded her head before she tugged the door closed. Making her way across the room, she flashed the couple, who’d settled awkwardly on a couch, a warm smile before she sat down opposite them, their notes settling in her lap. “Ok” she mused gently “Do either of you have somewhere you want to start?” she asked.

Gerard glanced over at Olivia only to find her already looking at him. Holding her stare, he searched her eyes for a second before she looked away shyly, something which caused him to shake his head softly. “I…I think we should talk about the months before the…the incident” he spluttered out.

Eleanor’s smile was surprised. “OK” she mused “What do you want to say about it, Gerard?” she asked.

Gerard shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he let out a soft sigh, his hand rubbing his jaw uncomfortably. “Things changed after I proposed” he said gently “I am not entirely sure why they did, but they did. For a couple of months before things with Lana happened, we were both more agitated and tense and I think it culminated in the fight that we had that night” he added, not missing the way that Olivia’s expression flinched at the mention of Lana’s name.

“Olivia?” Eleanor prodded “Why do you think things changed?” she asked gently.

Olivia blinked, looking up from her lap, before she gently shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know for sure” she replied quietly “But if I had to say something, I would probably guess that it had something to do with Gerard not being entirely sure of the proposal and me being the opposite, too sure, too eager” she added.

Gerard’s forehead creased. “I was sure of the proposal” he replied.

Olivia twisted her necklace around, shaking her head gently as a small, rueful smile crossed her lips. “I don’t think you were” she said “Not really. You tried to be. You did all of the right things. You smiled at the right times, but I don’t think you were really there yet. I was the opposite. I’d barely had the ring on my finger for more than a week when I was making plans” she added.

Eleanor, who’d been scribbling notes down, nodded her head. “Tell me about the fight” she mused “The night that Gerard…” she trailed off when both Olivia and Gerard looked away from each other, pain filling their expressions.

They were both quiet for a long moment before Olivia broke the silence. “I had booked a caterer” she mused “I’d sampled their food when we’d been at a friend’s wedding in the summer and I knew I wanted them, so I just…I just did it. I hadn’t consulted Gerard, but when they called to confirm, he picked up the phone. He lost it then. He accused me of not really caring that it was him that I was marrying. He said that I’d have settled for anyone, just as long as I got to plan a wedding” she added.

“You were just planning it!” Gerard countered, his voice a little louder than he’d meant it to be “You just…you just did it. Was I wrong to feel a little excluded?” he pressed as his voice softened.

Olivia shook her head. “I told you, I was too eager” she replied gently “I guess I kind of…dreaded you changing your mind” she added.


“Why do you think he could have changed his mind?” Eleanor asked, cutting Gerard’s protests off.

“Because things changed” Olivia replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world “Things were tense, we were both more temperamental and I thought…I still kind of think that that was Gerard realising that he wasn’t quite in a…proposing kind of place” she added, glancing at the defender timidly.

Gerard opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, not quite sure what to say to that, before he slumped in his seat slightly. “I knew what I wanted” he said slowly, each word careful and precise “I knew maybe eight or nine months after we started dating that Olivia was going to be it for me, but I knew that that was too fast, so I just…I enjoyed the ride. Moving in felt like the right decision and we talked about everything else. After we’d been together for three years, I thought that the time was right to start thinking about the next thing, so I bought the ring and I waited. I thought there’d be a moment, you know?” he asked.

“A moment?” Eleanor asked.

“When I would know that it was the right time to ask” Gerard answered “But there wasn’t really, so I manufactured one. I chose the cookery school, because I knew it would surprise Olivia the most. I debated for a long time whether it would be more romantic to do it in front of her class, or if I wanted it to just be the two of us. I asked people for their opinions, but they didn’t really care how I did it. My friends and family, Olivia’s too, they didn’t care what the proposal looked like, they just wondered how it had taken me so long. How could I have waited almost four years to make it official?” he asked, shaking his head.

“You didn’t tell me that” Olivia said gently.

“I didn’t want you to think I was only asking because they’d pushed me into it” Gerard replied, his blue eyes meeting Olivia’s which looked up at him “But maybe…maybe that played a bigger role in it than I would like to admit. It was almost every conversation I had with them. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I let them get into my head and push me into something I wasn’t one hundred percent ready for, but I would have asked anyway, Livy. Maybe not when I did, but I would have done, I know that” he insisted.

Olivia gently took his hand in hers, squeezing it softly. She knew that they were on the same page about wanting to get married, and she wanted to assure him that she knew it.

“Do you regret proposing?” Eleanor asked gently.

Gerard squeezed Olivia’s hand again. “No” he replied “I regret what it set in motion. I regret Lana and the lies. I regret hurting Olivia, but I don’t regret asking her to be my wife” he added.

“Do you regret saying yes, Olivia?” Eleanor asked.

Olivia shook her head. “I just hate that he wasn’t sure” she murmured “I’d say yes in a heartbeat, any time he asked me, but I want him to be sure” she added.

Gerard’s fingertip gently brushed the faint tan line on her ring finger, something which made Olivia smile softly before she turned to look up at him. “I wish I’d waited” he murmured “I just…I was scared of disappointing you. I knew you were waiting for me to ask, I knew everyone was, and so I did, but after I had, things just…I didn’t feel quite right, but I felt like I couldn’t tell you that. You had your hopes so high and I didn’t want to be the one to dash them, but instead, I acted so selfishly” he explained softly.

Olivia gently pushed the hair back off of his forehead. “I’d rather have had my hopes dashed than this” she murmured.

“I know” Gerard replied “But I didn’t see it like that then. I didn’t want to be the fiancé who told you that I didn’t really want to get married as soon as you did. I thought it would be the end of us, which is pretty ironic when you look at us now” he added, quirking a weak smile.

Olivia touched her lips to his forehead briefly before she allowed her own forehead to settle against his. “You can tell me anything” she murmured “Good, bad, hope-dashing…I want to hear it all” she added.

Gerard nodded his head, holding her close. “You’ve got it” he replied.