Until The Sunshine Fades

Fifty One

“Are you alright?”

Gerard, who was swirling the last of his drink around the bottom of his glass, startled, his distracted stare flashing up towards Alex who sat across the table from him, his face creased in concern. He knew he should have cancelled. With Isabella’s admission still ringing in his ears, he knew that the worst place in the world for him to be was sat across the table from a man who’s face resembled hers, but by the time he had gotten himself together, it had been too late to cancel, meaning he had dragged himself out to the bar that they frequented and plopped himself opposite Alex, hoping that he wouldn’t notice that his mind was somewhere else.

He didn’t want to be at home. He didn’t want to find himself staring at their pictures on his wall, or realizing just how many little hints of Isabella there were in his house, despite how infrequently she was there, but it hadn’t made not thinking about it easier. Every thought he had somehow led him back to the moment he had been sat in front of his laptop, listening to her admit that she had kissed someone else.

Quickly smoothing out the surprise in his expression, he forced a nonchalant smile and nodded. “What makes you think I’m not?” he asked.

Alex tipped his head towards the glass in Gerard’s hand. “You’ve been having a pretty intense staring contest with that” he said “And you’re surprisingly quiet. I don’t pretend to know you as well as Izzy does, but the few times we’ve hung out, you’ve never been quiet for this long” he added.

Gerard tried his hardest not to flinch at the mention of Isabella’s name, but he knew that he had failed when Alex’s eyebrows drew together and a frown pulled his lips downwards. Exhaling a quiet sigh, he settled the almost empty glass down onto the table between them before he raked a hand over his face. “I should go” he said quietly.

“What did she do?” Alex asked.

Gerard stilled halfway to his feet before he shook his head. “She’s your sister” he said “I am not going to talk about this with you. I know that we’re friends, but this...whatever is happening between us, it’s not something I can discuss with Isabella’s brother” he added.

Alex nodded his head slowly, a faintly impressed smile on his face, but it faded away quickly. “Is it over?” he asked.

Gerard had to stop himself from barking out a sharp, humourless laugh. He didn’t know. He knew that it had hurt. He knew that he was angry, and that there was a part of him that wanted nothing more than to jump on a plane to Madrid and have it out with Marco, but when he thought about things being over between him and Isabella, he found himself stuck. He had spent a long time wanting their relationship to start, and as hurt as he was, as angry as he was, he couldn’t quite picture it being over. Drawing in a deep breath, he kept his stare fixed on the table before he let it out sharply, shrugging his shoulders slightly. “I wish I knew” he said.

Alex sighed. “I’m sorry” he said.

Gerard shook his head quickly. “It’s between me and here” he said.

“I know” Alex said “But I am still sorry. Isabella’s had a couple of serious boyfriends, but you’re easily my favourite” he added with a sad grin.

Gerard spluttered out a laugh, but he didn’t make a comment about them still finding a way to make their friendship work. Both of them knew that if things between Gerard and Isabella were over, then Alex’s loyalty remained with his sister, and it would make any kind of friendship between them awkward. Isabella would always be the topic of conversation that went undiscussed, but would still weigh heavily on both of them

“I really ought to go” Gerard repeated.

Alex nodded, allowing Gerard to pull on his jacket, before he spoke again. “I don’t know how much it means now, but she really did love you” he said.

Gerard nodded stiffly, biting back a sharp comment that burned to escape. “I know she did” he said before he finally moved away from the table.

Tucking his hands in his pockets, he strode out of the door and onto the street, quickly hailing a taxi. Once he had climbed inside, he let his head fall back on another heavy sigh before he slipped his phone out of his pocket, his eyes studying the lock screen that was full of messages. Isabella’s name stuck out in amongst the notifications, but he was quick to clear it, not even studying the message preview. He knew what she would say. It would be apologies and explanations for what had happened that were probably true but would still ring hollow for him, and he couldn’t bring himself to look at them, even if part of him was screaming for him to. The part of him that was hurt was stronger. It had been for a while.

Vaguely scrolling through the rest of his messages, he tapped out a few replies before he went to slip his phone back into his pocket, only to stop when it vibrated in the palm of his hand. Staring at the screen, he felt a pang of pain radiate through his chest when Isabella’s beaming picture appeared before he slipped his thumb across the screen, accepting it. “I thought that this would go without saying, but I am not exactly in a place where I want to talk to you” he muttered.

“I am outside” Isabella said.

Gerard frowned. “Outside what?” he pressed.

“I’m outside your house” Isabella clarified “I tried knocking, but...”

“I’m not there” Gerard finished for her “You shouldn’t be either” he added.

Isabella let out a shaky laugh. “I know” she said “I just...I thought if we were face to face...I don’t what I was thinking” she spluttered.

Gerard was quiet for a few moments before he let out a sigh, his eyes drifting to the watch on his wrist and then out of the taxi’s window. “I’m about twenty minutes away” he said “I don’t have a spare key any where” he added apologetically.

“It’s OK” Isabella’s voice was soft and hopeful “I’ll see you when you get here” she added.

Gerard mumbled a quiet goodbye before he ended the call, his eyes drifting back out of the window in an attempt to distract himself from the nervous knots that were twisting his insides painfully.