Burn Us Down

70: I Hope That’s True

“Where is Olivia?” Valeria prodded as she walked down the hall, looking back at Gerard who was still beside the front door, cooing gently at Rosalie.

Gerard picked his head up, reluctantly looking away from the baby, before he nodded towards the stairs. “Still asleep” he mused “It’s been a while since she’s had the chance to lay in for a while, and I thought I would leave her to it” he added. It’d taken them a while to drift back off to sleep the previous night. The silence that had marked the end of their conversation had been stifling, and had lingered for a while, but eventually they’d both managed to fall asleep, even if, on Gerard’s part at least, it’d been slightly fitful.

He had tried to push the negative thoughts aside. It wasn’t the first time they’d crossed his mind, and he doubted it would be the last, but they’d proved harder to shake than normal, something which had kept him up for a while. He didn’t want to end things. As difficult as the last year had been for him and Olivia, and as strange as things felt between them on occasion, the last thing he wanted to do was end their relationship, but sometimes he wondered if it would be for the best in the long run. Things seemed to be on a knife edge at times, it felt like one slight mistake would be all it took to ruin things, and he didn’t want Olivia to end up hating him.

Valeria grinned. “Date night went well?” she chirped.

Gerard’s forehead creased for a fraction of a second, confused by the question, before the lightbulb in his mind flickered on. It was the excuse he’d used when Alex had arrived to collect the twins the night before. Forcing a warm laugh out of his mouth, he grinned down at Rosalie before he nodded his head. “I’d say so” he mused.

Valeria tilted her head, noticing that there was something off about his tone, but she didn’t have time to question it when Olivia came padding down the stairs, her eyes already fixed on Gerard and the carry cot he clutched. Almost jumping down the last two steps, she skittered across the hall towards the two of them and crouched down, pressing a soft kiss against the top of the baby’s head. Valeria smiled as she watched them before she lifted her gaze towards Gerard’s face, noticing the slightly sad expression he wore as he watched Olivia. It wasn’t new. In the last year, the look that was on his face was one that had appeared a few times, but she was surprised to see it then. She’d not seen it since the twins had been born.

Gerard picked his head up, catching Valeria’s staring out of the corner of his eye, before he forced another smile, hoping it’d be enough to ward off her questions.

“How were they?” Olivia asked, breaking the silence as she turned towards her stepmother, moving to greet Aria.

Valeria blinked, pulling her stare from Gerard and settling it on Olivia before she quirked a soft smile. “Aria was a little fussy” she mused “We struggled to settle her in the travel cot, but we got there in the end. They were both up a couple of times in the night, but we were prepared for that. Your papa loved it” she added.

Olivia, who’d been fussing over Aria, stood up with the baby in her arms, offering the other woman a sheepish smile. “We’re sorry that it was so last minute” she mused “We’ll give you more notice, next time” she added.

“It’s fine” Valeria replied, her fingers gently smoothing out Aria’s wayward hair “Me and your papa, we love spending time with the girls, and if you and Gerard need time to yourselves, we’re more than happy to oblige with babysitting” she added warmly.

“We might just take you up on that” Gerard chirped, gently adjusting Rosalie in his arms before he kissed her head.

Valeria smiled at him gently, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between them all, before Rosalie let out a soft cry, something which caused Gerard’s stare to move back towards Olivia. “I think that’s her hungry cry” he mused “Trade?” he prodded.

Olivia nodded before she stepped towards him, handing him Aria before she took Rosalie out of his hands. “I’ll head back up” she mused.

“I’ll be right up” Gerard said “I’ll even bring some of that sweet coffee you love with me” he added impishly.

Olivia offered him a playful grin. “Aren’t you thoughtful?” she played along.

Gerard just offered her a nonchalant shrug, something which made Olivia roll her eyes good-naturedly before she glanced at Valeria. “I’ll call papa, later” she mused “It’s been a while since we all got together. We’ll have to do dinner or something soon” she added.

“He’d love that” Valeria mused.

Olivia smiled gently before she padded back up the stairs, talking quietly to Rosalie as she went.

Until her footsteps faded away entirely, neither Gerard nor Valeria spoke. Gerard looked down at Aria, smiling at her gently, and Valeria watched him, waiting until Olivia was out of earshot until she stepped towards him. “Gerard?” she prodded.

Gerard hesitated for a moment before he looked up, breathing out a soft sigh. “We’re OK” he mused, already knowing what was coming.

“Really?” Valeria prodded “Because the atmosphere in here feels a little…”

“We had some stuff that we needed to talk about” Gerard interjected “Stuff that’s been building for a little while, and we just needed a night to get through it, but we’re OK, Valeria, I promise you. There’s nothing to be worried about” he added, offering her a small smile that he hoped was enough to convince her.

Valeria’s eyes scanned his face, not quite believing him, before she let out a soft sigh. “I hope that’s true” she said “I’d hate to see the two of you break up. You’re so good together” she added

“Even after everything?” Gerard asked before he could stop himself.

“Even after everything” Valeria confirmed “You two just…you belong with one another. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true, and I hope that you don’t lose that” she added, offering him a soft smile.

Gerard returned her smile softly, something which caused Valeria to push herself up, touching a kiss against his cheek before she mumbled a soft goodbye to Aria.

Gerard watched her to the front door, waiting for the soft sound of it closing, before he turned his attention back down towards Aria, letting another soft sigh fall out of his mouth. “We’ll be OK, won’t we?” he whispered “Me and your mama, we’re good together, right?” he asked. Aria just looked up at him, causing him to let out a soft sad laugh before he touched a kiss to her forehead.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)