Burn Us Down

66: I Told You Why I Had To

Placing the baby monitor down onto the kitchen counter, Gerard tiptoed towards where Olivia stood, his arms wrapping around her waist as he tilted his head, allowing him to press a soft kiss against the warm skin of her neck. Olivia jumped, not having heard him walk into the room, but she didn’t pull away from him. Instead, she just looked up away from her cookbook, greeting him with a tender smile that made him smile back at her without hesitation.

“The twins are asleep” Gerard said “And I was just about to jump into the shower. I just thought I’d come down and ask if you need a hand with anything” he added, his fingers tucking a wayward piece of hair behind her ear. It hadn’t been his first suggestion. Olivia’s birthday was usually marked by a party that her older sister arranged, but with things between Melissa and Olivia still being off, Gerard had suggested he’d plan it, but Olivia had told him that it wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted something smaller, something which didn’t necessarily put her and Gerard in a room with Melissa and Nicolas, and in the end, they’d opted for a dinner party for them and a few of their friends.

Olivia shook her head. “I think I’ve got everything under control” she mused “Did you set the table yet?” she asked.

“Before I took the twins up” Gerard replied with a dutiful nod “I even followed your diagram” he added impishly.

Olivia shook her head, diverting her stare back down towards the book on the counter. “We don’t do this a lot” she mumbled “I just…” she trailed off with a contented sigh as Gerard pressed another soft kiss against the side of her neck.

“I know” Gerard mumbled, placing little kisses up the side of her neck towards her ear “But it doesn’t have to be stressful. You’re a brilliant chef, there’s plenty of wine and champagne chilling, and I am very capable when it comes to conversation. Just relax, nena, it’s your birthday” he added, smirking against her skin.

Olivia’s hand covered his which had settled on her stomach, offering them a small squeeze. “Thank you” she mused.

Gerard kissed the top of her head, smiling into her hair gently. “It’s what I am here for” he replied.

“Where were we?” Gerard chirped as he padded back into the dining room, plopping down into the seat he’d vacated a few minutes earlier when he’d gotten up to check on the twins. It was going well. With their friends around, Olivia, who’d looked tenser than Gerard would have liked, had hit her stride, and the defender had been more than happy to sit back and let her take the lead. He liked seeing her in her element. He liked the way she smiled when she talked, the way she made people laugh without trying too hard, and he could have sat and watched her all night. When she was in her comfort zone, she was the brightest and most interesting person he knew.

“Were the girls OK?” Olivia asked.

“Rosalie needed a clean nappy” Gerard replied “And Aria was just fussy, but they’re both asleep again now. Did I miss anything?” he added.

“We were just fussing over the new engagement ring Oli’s wearing” Paige chirped, tipping her glass towards Olivia’s hand “I said it last time, but your taste is pretty incredible, Piqué” she added.

“What makes you think he chose it?” Lionel quipped impishly.

Gerard glared playfully at the argentine.

“He did choose it” Olivia mused, gently pushing the ring around her finger “I told him that he didn’t have to, but he insisted” she added.

Gerard’s expression softened a little as he looked over at her. “I told you why I had to” he said. They had had a long conversation about it. After they’d shared the news of their engagement, Olivia had asked him for the previous engagement ring, but Gerard had insisted on buying a new one, not wanting the memories of the previous year to be bound up in the ring that signalled their intention to get married. It held bad memories. It was a reminder of a proposal that had come too soon, a mistake that had almost torn them apart entirely, and of the moment that Antonella had placed it back in his hand, the moment he thought he’d lost Olivia for good, and that wasn’t what he wanted to see when he looked at her engagement ring. He wanted to see their future, not their past.

The room was quiet for a second as Gerard and Olivia held one another’s stares, but the silence was broken quickly. “Have you talked about wedding plans, yet?” Stefan, Paige’s husband, prodded.

Gerard’s smile was easy, a contradiction to the slight look of panic which had passed over Olivia’s features. “Not yet” he replied “We’ve not really had a chance to think about it yet with the girls coming along, but we’ll get there” he added.

“You have to” Paige chirped “I bought the most beautiful dress for the first attempt and now the baby weight’s gone, it’s going to fit me like a glove” she added impishly.

The room filled with the sound of warm laughter which faded slowly, leaving behind a sensation of comfortableness that Olivia and Gerard had missed. It had been about the two of them for a while. When they’d been struggling, they’d endeavoured to keep to themselves, wanting to puzzle through what they could without input from those around them, and it had meant it’d been a while since they’d both felt entirely at ease in room full of their friends, and they’d missed it.

Catching Olivia’s smile, Gerard flashed her a wink before he climbed out of his seat, padding into the kitchen. Making his way across the room, he moved to pull the birthday cake he’d bought for her out of the fridge before he set it down onto the counter, pushing in and lighting a couple of candles before he picked up again and wandered back towards the dining room. Lifting one hand, he dimmed the light a little before he strode towards the table, starting a round of singing that the rest of the room was quick to join in with. Beaming, he placed the cake down in front of Olivia, pressing a kiss against her cheek as the singing finished up.

Olivia watched it all with a bright smile before she leant over, blowing out the candles. Laughing happily, she took hugs from all of her friends before she reached Gerard. Stepping into him, she felt him lift her off of her feet before he carefully set her back down, peppering her face with a scattering of light kisses before he met her lips, mumbling a quiet ‘I love you’. Olivia held onto him, kissing him a couple more times, before she let go, smiling up at him. “I love you, too” she replied quietly.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)