Burn Us Down

07: We Promised


Olivia blinked a couple of times before she turned, smiling at Enzo who was sat in the driver’s seat, looking at her with a small crease in the centre of his forehead. She knew what he was going to say, the look on his face closely resembled the one that had been on Melissa’s face when Olivia had walked down the stairs, a familiar red and blue shirt on, but she was already prepared to offer him the same answer. It was a promise she had made a while ago. Max, her five year old nephew, had wanted to be a mascot for a while, and so when it came to finding a Christmas present for him, Olivia and Gerard had arranged for him to walk out onto the pitch the defender in the new year, something Olivia wasn’t about to let slip through the cracks, even if things between her and Gerard did feel fractured. She knew how much Max had been looking forwards to it.

“Yeah?” Olivia replied.

Enzo studied her face for a moment before he looked away, smiling bashfully to himself. “I know Mel talked to you before we left” he noted “And I am pretty sure that you’re going to say the same thing to me, but if you want to duck out, I’ll be fine” he added.

Olivia shook her head, flashing him another small smile. “Thank you for offering” she mused “But I promised Max, didn’t I?” she added, turning to look at the little boy who sat in the backseat.

Max grinned back at her. “Yeah” he enthused.

Enzo briefly thought about pushing the issue, but Olivia was out of the car before he had a chance, already helping Max out of his car seat. Enzo watched the two of them for a moment, not missing the slight wobble in Olivia’s smile when Max mentioned his ‘Tío’, before he climbed out of the car. Stepping around it, he moved to lift Max onto his hip before he fixed Olivia with a look. “Last chance” he quipped.

Olivia smiled at him softly. “I’m a big girl, Enzo” she mused “But thank you for trying to look out for me” she added, patting his arm softly.

Enzo shifted his grip on Max, trying to stop the little boy from trying to wiggle out of his arms, before he shrugged, trying, and failing, to appear nonchalant.

Olivia rolled her eyes playfully before she tugged Max out of his arms, wrapping the little boy’s small hand in hers as she guided him across the carpark. She tried to keep her expression upbeat, she tried to keep her voice from faltering a little as she chattered with Max, but when the door which led inside of the stadium opened, she couldn’t stop the lump from sliding upwards into her throat.

They had spoken a little more, after the dinner that they’d had, they’d exchanged a few texts in the handful of days which had followed, but still Olivia felt unprepared to see him, something she had a feeling was going to last for a while. She didn’t know what to do with him. Whilst there was a part of her that just wanted to throw her arms around him, there was another part that didn’t even want to look at him, and she was having a tough time trying to figure out which instinct was the right one to trust.


Olivia blinked, looking up at Lionel who stood ahead of her, a tentative smile on his face. “It’s good to see you” he mused.

“You too” Olivia replied, forcing the best smile she could muster.

“Messi!” Max squeaked.

Lionel, who’d been staring at Olivia with concern, broke their eye contact to look down at Max, greeting him with a kind grin. “Max, right?” he prodded.

Max nodded his head, almost jumping up and down on the spot.

Olivia tilted her head, something which caught Lionel’s gaze, causing him to look back up at her. “Gerard talks about him” he quipped.

“Tío” Max announced.

Olivia’s expression flinched, Lionel’s softened in sympathy, but Max was oblivious. “Is he here?” he prodded excitedly.

Olivia squeezed his hand softly. “Let’s go and find him, eh?” she cooed “Leo...”

“I’ll see you later” Lionel finished for her “It was good to meet you, Max” he added before he shuffled inside.

Olivia waited a beat, feeling Enzo arrive behind her, before she pushed the door open, ushering Max inside ahead of her. Once through the door, Max quickly slipped his hand from his aunt’s, rushing through the corridor before he bumped into a familiar set of legs, his little arms wrapping around them tightly. “Tío!” he announced.

Gerard didn’t miss a beat, scooping the little boy up to a cascade of giggles. “Maximiliano!” he played along “You made it. I was starting to think that you’d…” he trailed off as his eyes landed on Olivia.

Blinking a couple of times, he allowed a slow smile to spread across his features before Max tugged at his shirt gently, pulling his attention back towards him. “You excited to walk out with me?” he chirped, settling Max back on his feet.

Max nodded his head before he turned towards Enzo, a little frown on his face. “Papa, I need the toilet” he announced.

Enzo, who’d been trying to keep his distance from Olivia and Gerard, whipped his head up. “OK” he announced “Where’s the nearest one?” he asked, glancing briefly at Gerard.

Gerard smiled sadly at how awkward Enzo looked before he threw a thumb over his shoulder. “Head straight up these stairs” he quipped “They’re pretty obvious when you get to the top” he added.

Enzo nodded before he took Max’s hand, leading the little boy away.

Gerard watched them pass, not missing the look that passed over Enzo’s face, before he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, his eyes ever so slowly drifting back towards Olivia. Taking a second, he admired her quietly, before he pulled one hand out of its pocket, gesturing to the strip of red and blue material which poked out from beneath her jacket. “You...uh…you’re wearing it” he spluttered out into the heavy silence, the millionth that had hung between them since that first morning.

Olivia looked down, a shaky smile lighting up her features. “Yeah” she replied “It’s good luck” she added.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards. She had worn the same Barcelona shirt to all the matches she had come to since they’d been dating. “Yeah, it is” he agreed softly.

Olivia tugged on the material, wanting to busy herself in the silence.


“We promised” Olivia interrupted softly “We promised Max that he could…that he could go out on the pitch with you and I wasn’t going to back out on him just because we’re…He’s five. He’s not going to understand that you and me…that we’re in the middle of this…this thing” she babbled.

Gerard stepped towards her.

“I didn’t want to let him down” Olivia continued “He’s so excited” she added.

Gerard carefully twisted a strand of her hair around his finger before he tucked it behind her ear, drawing her eyes, slowly, up towards his. “I was just going to say that I am glad you’re here” he murmured softly.

Olivia let out a surprised laugh, something which caused Gerard to drop his hand back to his side, stuffing it back awkwardly into his pocket.


Olivia looked over Gerard’s shoulder, spotting Enzo who watched the two of the cautiously. “Yeah?” she asked.

“We’re going to get a drink before Max needs to be in the tunnel” Enzo replied “You coming?” he asked.

Olivia hesitated, her eyes almost instinctively glancing up at Gerard’s face, before she nodded her head. “I’ll be right with you” she mused.

Enzo hesitated for a split second, before he tugged Max away.

Olivia made a move to follow before she rocked back, looking up at Gerard again. Biting her lip, she searched his features, before she pushed herself up onto her to, pressing the lightest of kisses against his cheek. “For luck” she whispered softly.

Gerard’s fingers lightly touch the spot she had kissed, a soft grin on his face. “Gracias” he murmured.

Olivia smiled back at him before she moved to step past, following after Enzo and Max.

“Livy” Gerard called after her.

Olivia paused before she turned back. “Gerard?” she mused.

“I can drive you home” Gerard replied “If you hang around after the match, we can…we can go and get a drink or something. Coffee, you love cafés and I know a great one. I can take you home after that” he added, his voice uncharacteristically uncertain.

Olivia looked at him for a long moment before she tipped her head forwards in a slight nod. “OK” she agreed before she walked away.

Gerard smiled after her before he made his way back towards the changing room, hoping that that night marked another tiny little step in the right direction.