Burn Us Down

63: Jackpot

Carefully laying Rosalie down into her crib, Gerard took a quiet step backwards, sparing a glance towards his mother who lingered in the bedroom doorway, smiling at him gently. He knew that she had been watching him for a while. She and his father had arrived just before he’d headed upstairs to settle the twins down for the night and he’d heard her follow him up the stairs, but he hadn’t wanted to say anything. She was clearly enjoying the sight of him with the twins and he didn’t want to break the spell with some kind of bad joke or teasing quip. Catching her eye, he smiled at her gently before he gestured over her shoulder, wordlessly telling her that it was best that they spoke outside. Montserrat nodded and backed out of the room, allowing him to follow after her, only after he’d stopped to pick up the baby monitor. “Sorry” he mused “Aria is pretty noise sensitive. I sneezed once and she started crying” he added impishly.

Montserrat smiled as they walked back towards the stairs. “Sounds like she takes after her papa” she mused.

Gerard laughed. “Olivia says the same thing” he mused “And honestly, I kind of like that one of them has a little bit of my personality. They both look so much like their mother” he added warmly.

Montserrat just marvelled at him as they reached the foot of the stairs. She couldn’t believe how happy and at ease he looked. He and Olivia had come such a long way in such a short period of time.

Gerard caught her look, but didn’t have a chance to comment when Olivia stepped out of the living room, his father following after her. “Are the twins asleep?” she asked.

“They are” Gerard confirmed “Are you ready to go and get this over with?” he prodded, offering Olivia a sympathetic smile.

He knew that she was dreading it. When Melissa had called a few days earlier to ask if they’d join her for dinner so that they could meet her new boyfriend, Olivia’s instinctive reaction had been to turn her down, but she had hesitated and Melissa had taken that hesitation as a yes, something which meant the two of them couldn’t get out of it. Olivia wouldn’t cancel and she wouldn’t let Gerard, who’d offered instantly, do it for her. As angry as she was with her sister, and she was still furious, she had never had the heart to let her down and Gerard had known that that meant that there was no getting out of it, even it was likely to be a mess. He knew that he had little to no chance of convincing Olivia that they were better off leaving for a while.

Olivia seemed to hesitate for a second before she let out a soft sigh, nodding her head slightly. “As ready as I will ever be” she answered “Montserrat, Joan, if you need us…”

“We’ve got your numbers” Joan finished for her “But I am sure that we’ll be fine. Try not to worry about us, eh?” he added, smiling encouragingly.

Olivia smiled back at him before she nodded. “Thank you for doing this” she mused.

“They’re happy to” Gerard mused “You wouldn’t believe how much they complain about not seeing the girls enough” he added brightly, trying to brighten the mood.

Olivia giggled despite the knot of tension in her stomach, something which made Gerard beam as he waved goodnight to his parents. He had a feeling that his ability to encourage Olivia to relax was one he was going to need that night.

“We don’t have to go inside”

Olivia, who’d been staring out of the car’s windscreen, blinked a couple of times before she slowly turned her head, glancing up at Gerard who looked down at her, his concerned expression matching the softness of his voice. He had tried to talk her out of it more than once. He’d been quick to point out how recent everything still was, and how upset Olivia still was with Melissa and how she had treated Enzo, but Olivia had brushed it all off, knowing that, sooner or later, she was going to have to meet the man that her sister had cheated on Enzo with. She was getting married. Eventually, Olivia and Gerard were going to start making plans and Olivia knew that any invite that she sent to her sister would probably have to come with a plus one and she wanted to meet him, even if it was only a onetime thing. She wanted to see if he was someone that she needed to be worried about throwing a spanner in the works.

“We can just…go” Gerard continued “I mean, she’ll get it” he added.

Olivia smiled a little at the tone of his voice, but she shook her head softly. “We should go in” she mused.

“Are you certain?” Gerard prodded.

Olivia nodded. “Yeah” she confirmed “I want to…to meet this guy. He’s got to be something special” she added, a faint grimace passing over her face.

Gerard shot her a slightly warning look, something which caused Olivia to let out a soft sigh before she nodded her head, gently tucking her hair back off of her face. “I’m not here to fight with her” she mused gently “I just…I want to see him. He’s an important part of her life now and I am going to give him a shot” she added, just about stopping herself from adding a slightly snide comment about how Melissa had never given Gerard a shot.

Gerard saw it in her face, causing a slightly teasing smile to spread over his features. “She was probably jealous” he quipped “I mean, Enzo’s great, and this guy’s probably…something too, but you? You hit the jackpot with me” he added impishly.

Olivia snorted out a laugh. “I did, did I?” she quipped.

Gerard’s answering shrug was playfully nonchalant, something which made Olivia giggle softly before she leant over, touching a soft kiss to his cheek. “Thank you” she murmured “I can’t believe that you’re even here with me after how she’s treated you, let alone that you’re the one trying to make me feel better and reminding me to be nice. Thank you for that” she added.

Gerard tenderly tucked her hair behind her ear before he kissed her forehead softly. “Like I said” he murmured as he leant back ever so slightly “Jackpot” he added, smirking.

Olivia pushed at his shoulder gently, making Gerard laugh, before they both moved to climb out of the car. Meeting ahead of it, Gerard wrapped his hand around Olivia’s before he guided her towards the door, pressing the bell. Squeezing her hand gently, he offered her one last reassuring smile before the front door swung open, revealing Melissa who greeted the two of them with a shaky smile. “You came” she breathed “I…I didn’t know that you would. Come in” she added, hurriedly stepping out of the doorway.

Gerard moved first, greeting Melissa with a tight nod as he stepped inside.

Olivia lingered a little more before she followed suit, greeting Melissa with a brief hug.

Melissa pushed the front door closed before she gestured towards the kitchen. “Go ahead” she mused.

The couple hesitated for a fraction of a second before they trailed through to the kitchen, both of them stopping in the doorway as the man inside stopped and looked at them, greeting them with a confident grin. “You must be the little sister” he chirped “And her fiancé. Mel told me the good news. Congratulations” he added.

Gerard blinked, surprised that when they’d made the decision to tell people about their engagement the previous week, Olivia had chosen to tell Melissa, before he stuck a hand out. “Gracias” he mused “I’m Gerard” he added.

“Nicolas” The other man mused, shaking the defender’s hand firmly “Nico” he added.

A silence settled briefly before Gerard cleared his throat, his arm gently settling around Olivia’s waist. “This is Olivia” he mused.

Nicolas turned towards Olivia, his grin still easy and confident, and stuck a hand out, waiting the few long seconds before Olivia lifted her own, shaking it limply.