Burn Us Down

68: I Keep Expecting The Worst

“I can’t thank you enough for doing this so last minute” Gerard said as he placed the twins’ baby bag onto Alex’s shoulder, a slightly relieved smile on his face. He had been looking for someone to babysit. With things between him and Olivia still feeling a little out of balance, he’d spent the day trying to find a relative or friend who could take the twins for a couple of hours, and he had been relieved when Alex had gotten back to him, confirming that he and Valeria were free for the evening.

He didn’t have much of a plan. Things between him and Olivia still felt OK, but he had become more aware of her holding back from him, and he wanted to try and start a conversation about it, not quite knowing where it would lead them. He hadn’t noticed it a lot before, but since the night of her birthday, almost a week previous, he hadn’t been able to stop noticing how she sometimes hesitated when they spoke about their engagement or their future, something which had a knot of doubt twisting uncomfortably in his gut.

He knew that he shouldn’t have expected things to be completely behind them. The previous year was one which had almost torn them apart and he knew that that wasn’t something which was just going to repair itself, but he had thought that they were in a good position, something he wasn’t quite sure now that Olivia mirrored. She avoided it. If a conversation turned towards their future, Olivia shied away from it or got lost in her thoughts, and Gerard knew that it was something they needed to talk about. If there was a chance that they weren’t on the same page, like they hadn’t been before, then they needed to get it out into the open before one of them did something else that they couldn’t undo.

Alex, who was checking on Rosalie in her carry cot, looked up with a smile. “You know how much we love having the girls” he mused “What’s the occasion?” he asked.

Gerard lifted his shoulder in a lazy shrug. “It’s just been a while since me and Livy had a night to ourselves” he replied, hoping his confidence was convincing.

If Alex didn’t believe him, he didn’t let it show as he offered him another smile. “Well, we’re more than happy to help out” he said “Valeria hates the idea that she’s someone’s step-grandmother, but she loves the twins. You’ll call when you are ready to have them home?” he prodded.

Gerard nodded before he crouched down, pressing a kiss to both Rosalie and Aria’s forehead. “I’ll see you soon, OK?” he cooed softly “I love you both” he added.

Alex offered him a nod before he turned and walked to the door. Gerard followed after him, pushing the door closed after him, before he leant back against it, letting out a gentle sigh. Pushing a hand back through his hair, he stared down the quiet hall for a beat until he heard Olivia’s footsteps reach the top of the stairs, causing him to look up at her, the smile he tried to push up onto his face faltering almost immediately.

Olivia’s expression faltered too as she stepped down the stairs. “My papa has the twins?” she asked quietly.

Gerard nodded. “I thought we could use a night to ourselves” he replied “I think we need to…to talk” he added, grimacing as the words fell out of his mouth.

Olivia opened her mouth, half tempted to object, but instead she just let out a soft sigh, turning towards the kitchen.

Gerard hesitated for a split second before he followed after her, trying his hardest to ignore the bad feeling which was gnawing away in the pit of his stomach.

For a while, neither Gerard nor Olivia said anything. They poured drinks, tried to find a spot where they felt comfortable sitting and talking, and they did it in silence, neither one of them quite sure how to start the conversation.

Olivia knew what it was about. She knew that Gerard knew that there was something bothering her, but she didn’t quite know how to tell him that sometimes the fear of getting hurt again overwhelmed her. She felt like she had been naïve, that she had just blindly believed that nothing between the two of them could possibly go wrong, and she hated that she had been so oblivious, but she didn’t quite know how to tell him that. She couldn’t quite find the words to tell him that, sometimes, she worried that their second attempt mirrored their first and that she worried it might end the same way.

Gently tracing her finger around the top of her wine glass, she spared a glance across the room towards where he sat, staring at the bottle in his hands like it held all of the answers.

Gerard, feeling her stare on him, looked up, offering her a sad smile. “I don’t know how to start” he admitted “I mean, I know that there is something bothering you, but I don’t know what to say that could encourage you to open up to me. You’re holding something back from me, Livy, and I want you to know that whatever it is, you can tell me” he added, his voice soft and warm.

Olivia’s eyes held his for a beat before they lowered back towards her wine glass.

Gerard pushed himself up to his feet, moving until he knelt in front of the couch, levelling his blue eyes with hers again. “Nena” he cooed.

Olivia blinked, trying, and failing, to stop her eyes filling with tears. “I…I can’t let myself think ahead” she breathed out.

Gerard sunk back form the couch slightly, a crease forming between his eyebrows.

“I did before” Olivia continued “I let myself see everything ahead of us, and it came at the cost of seeing what was happening then. I could have seen that you didn’t want to be engaged before, if I had just been paying attention and not swept away with a future that we didn’t get close to. I was naïve and I turned a blind eye to a lot of things that I just didn’t want to see and I am not going to do that again. I can’t let myself think ahead, Gerard” she added, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

Gerard just looked at her.

Olivia wiped at her eyes, glancing at him briefly, before she looked down at her lap. “I am scared” she whispered “I’m scared that I am going to ruin this by not being able to let go of what happened. I am scared that I am going to spend the rest of our relationship, however long that is, waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I can’t let myself not think it’s coming. I didn’t see it coming before, and now I can’t not see it coming. I keep expecting the worst and I am scared that that…that it’s going to push you away” she explained, her sentences punctuated by the occasional sniffle and sob.

Gerard didn’t hesitate. His hands moved instantly, one pushing her hair back, the other wiping her tears from her cheeks. “I am not going anywhere” he whispered.

“You say that now…”

“Olivia, listen to me” Gerard interjected, both of his hands cupping her cheeks to keep her gaze pinned on his.

Olivia fell quiet, her tearful eyes fixed on his warm and kind face.

“I am not going anywhere” Gerard repeated softly “I don’t blame you for being hesitant. I don’t blame you for thinking things might go wrong again. I don’t blame you for worrying that things feel the same. I sometimes worry about the same things and that? That’s on me. What I did before, everything with Lana, it has left scars and they’re not going away any time soon, but they will, Livy. I know we’ve run through things. The twins, the engagement, it’s all a lot and it’s all happened quickly, but everything else can happen as quickly or as slowly as you want it to. I just…I just need to know that I am not losing you, because sometimes it feels like…like I could be” he added.

Olivia let out a soft sound as she shook her head.

Gerard wiped her eyes again. “I know I push” he whispered “I know I tend to act like I don’t know the damage that’s still repairing itself, but, I do, nena. I know how close we were to actually being over with and I know that we need to keep giving it time, keep being patient, and I will work on that, but promise me something” he added.

Olivia nodded.

“Don’t close me out” Gerard whispered “When you’re scared, or worried, don’t push me out. Talk to me. Yell at me. Just don’t try and keep it to yourself. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s happening up here” he added, his index finger gently tapping her forehead as he offered her a watery smile.

Olivia smiled back at him weakly. “OK” she whispered.

Gerard’s thumb traced across her cheekbone one final time before he leant forwards, kissing her forehead and nose before he met her lips, something Olivia didn’t hesitate in reciprocating, feeling some of the weight lift off of her shoulders.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)