Until The Sunshine Fades

Forty Three

“I’ve left a glass of water on the bedside table for you. I’ll see you tomorrow, Isabella”

Isabella, who was resting against the cool side of her bath, blinked blearily at the sound of Marco’s voice before she heard the front door thump closed, something which caused her to let out a quiet groan as she gathered her knees towards her chest. It had gotten out of hand. Originally, she had planned to grab a quick dinner with Marco before heading home so that she could catch Gerard’s nightly call, but after the subject had switched to her and Gerard, and awkwardness had developed between her and Marco, she had tried too hard to get rid of it. There had been a lump in her throat. Marco’s comment about pressure, and about long distance relationships being difficult had hit too close to home, but instead of admitting that she had her worries, she had tried to shake the lump in her throat by having more to drink than she ought to have done.

Putting her head between her knees, she waited for the latest wave of nausea to pass before she lifted it again, letting it loll back against the side of the bath. Closing her eyes, she listened to the silence that filled the apartment for a few moments before she felt a vibration against her side, causing her to frown slightly before she stuffed her hand into the pocket of the jacket she still wore, pulling out her phone. Frowning at it for a second, she moved her thumb across the screen. “It’s really late” she murmured.

Gerard’s answering laugh was amused, but there was something else in it that Isabella couldn’t quite place. “It’s not the first time I’ve tried you” he said “Though, it was going to be the last. I’d actually planned on getting some sleep at some point” he added.

Isabella smiled despite the wave of nausea that passed over her. “I didn’t see the missed calls” she admitted “I was out with Marco and I...I got carried away. Honestly, until it vibrated in my pocket, I was about ninety percent sure that I’d lost my phone somewhere” she added, letting out a slightly tipsy laugh.

“Are you drunk?” Gerard asked.

“Maybe a little bit” Isabella answered “Marco was paying, and I might have taken advantage of his generosity a little” she added, making a gesture with her fingers despite the fact that Gerard couldn’t see her.

“Haven’t you got work in the morning?” Gerard asked.

“Yeah” Isabella confirmed.

Gerard was quiet for a moment, long enough for Isabella to pull the phone away from her ear to check that she hadn’t lost the connection, before he let out a soft sigh. “You should get to bed, Izzy” he said.

Isabella shook her head, but quickly stopped when the room started to spin slightly. “I don’t want to stop talking to you yet” she said “I told Marco our story earlier” she added brightly.

Again, Gerard hesitated, clearly debating whether or not he should continue to try and coax her off of the phone, before he let out a soft chuckle. “You told him about your fictional boyfriend?” he asked.

“He laughed” Isabella replied.

“I’ve always said it was funny” Gerard said “Did you get all embarrassed like you do when I bring it up?” he asked.

Isabella hummed, confirming that she had been embarrassed, before she shifted slightly, stretching her legs out ahead of her. “Gerard?” she said quietly.

“Yeah?” Gerard asked.

“Why were you so strange before I came back here?” Isabella asked.

Gerard made a small noise of surprise. “What?” he prodded.

“You were weird” Isabella pointed out “I don’t really know how, just a little...distant, I guess? I want to know why” she added.

“I told you before you left” Gerard replied “I am fine” he added.

“That’s bullshit” Isabella said.

“Izzy...”

“No” Isabella interrupted, her voice determined “It is bullshit. You kept looking at me like it was going to be the last time you saw me. I saw you do it, and I listened to you insist that you were fine every time, but it’s obviously not true. I am not stupid” she added.

She knew what she had seen. When Gerard had thought she wasn’t watching him, she had caught him staring at her with an expression she couldn’t quite place on his face, and she wanted to know what it meant. She had accepted his ‘I’m fine’ too easily, too many times, and she wasn’t going to do it again.

Gerard let out a frustrated sigh. “This isn’t the right time for this conversation” he said.

“Why not?” Isabella pressed.

“Because it isn’t” Gerard’s voice was a little short.

Isabella shook her head, frustrated. “That’s not a reason” she shot back.

“It’s all I plan on saying” Gerard replied.

“You’re so stubborn!” Isabella yelped “You tell me all the time that I should be more open with you, talk to you more, and yet here you are, being ridiculously evasive about god knows what. It’s not a hard question, Gerard. All I want to know is what’s going on with you” she added.

“I didn’t want you to go and I really hate that you did, sometimes” Gerard snapped back.

“You knew I was only coming back for a week” Isabella said.

“That’s not what I meant” Gerard’s voice, though still obviously annoyed, had softened slightly.

Isabella sat quietly for a few moments, long enough for Gerard to exhale a long sigh that had her picturing him shaking his head, a frustrated hand running back through his hair. “I am going to go” he announced “This isn’t the time for this. Try and get some sleep, Izzy. Drink a glass of water before you do, though. We’ll talk...we’ll talk another time. Love you” he muttered before he hung up.

Slowly, Isabella let her hand fall away from her ear, her phone still gripped in her fingers, before she squeezed her eyes closed, trying, and failing, to swallow the lump in her throat.