Until The Sunshine Fades

Fifty Five

Placing some money in the hand of his taxi driver, Gerard took a cautious step away from the car, already half regretting the decision he had made to get into it in the first place. He had been told that he didn’t have to be there. It’d only taken a few days for the news that he and Isabella had broken up to spread throughout her family, and it’d been quickly followed by a text from Alex, telling Gerard that he didn’t have to fulfil the promise he had made to attend his party, but Gerard had still decided to show up. Alex was his friend, and whilst that wasn’t likely to survive the fact that Alex’s sister was Gerard’s ex-girlfriend, Gerard wanted to try and hold onto it for a little longer, not quite ready to lose every single connection that he had to Isabella in one go.

He didn’t say it. Whenever someone asked about the breakup, he said the same things. He said that the distance had gotten too much for the two of them and that Isabella had done something that she regretted, but that made it difficult for them to see their relationship working out, but he always stopped short of admitting how much he missed her. He was sure that it was obvious. He had heard it in his own voice on a few occasions, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it out loud. Missing her wasn’t going to change anything. It wasn’t going to take away the memory of the pain that he had felt when she had told him what had happened with Marco, it wasn’t going to change the fact that she was still in Madrid, and he wasn’t, so he didn’t say it. He worried that if he said it aloud, it’d only make him feel worse.

Hearing the taxi pull away, Gerard turned to watch it down the road briefly before he turned back to Alex’s apartment building, his grasp tightening anxiously on the neck of the bottle that he had bought with him. Letting out a sigh, he took a second to calm himself down before he walked inside, quickly finding Alex’s apartment. Rapping his fist against the door, he took a small pace backwards, but the bright smile he had perfected faltered immediately when the door swung open.

“Alex, I thought you said people weren’t getting hear for another half an hour. This place isn’t ready yet” Isabella complained, looking back somewhere into the apartment.

Gerard gaped at her, unable to say a word, but he knew that the surprise was mutual the moment Isabella turned to look at him. Her eyes widened and her jaw fell open a little, something that, in any moment other than that one, would have made Gerard smile. He had always liked surprising her, just so he could see the look on her face.

“What are you doing here?” Isabella’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Your brother invited me to the party” Gerard answered, showing off the bottle in his hand “What about you? I don’t think you’d have flown in just to watch Alex get drunk” he added.

“He’s funny when he’s drunk” Isabella quipped.

“He’s pretty funny normally” Gerard said “But that’s not what I asked” he added, fixing her with a look that let her know that he knew that she was trying to duck the conversation. It was a tactic she had used too many times with him for it to catch him off guard. She didn’t like difficult conversations, and that was inevitably what they were going to have. Every conversation that they had had from the moment Isabella had told him about what had happened had been difficult.

Isabella hesitated for a moment before she stepped out into the hall, pulling the door closed behind herself. Turning back to Gerard, her hand moved towards her collarbone, something which caused his lips to tilt upwards slightly. It was one of many little things he had doubted that he would see in person again.

“I live here” Isabella said quietly.

Gerard’s fond smile faded. The expression on his face changed a few times, moving between disbelief and confusion, before he shook his head slowly, “What?” he asked.

“I live here” Isabella repeated “I mean, not here as in this building. I shared a bathroom with Alex when we were growing up and it’s not an experience I am keen to replicate, but here as in Barcelona. I am at my parents’ place right now, in my childhood bedroom, but we’ve got a few good leads on apartments and...”

“Why?” Gerard cut in.

The question was enough to cause Isabella to fall quiet, even though his voice barely crept above a murmured croak. Blinking a couple of times, she nervously folded her arms over her chest before she looked down at her feet. “I didn’t want to be there any more” she admitted quietly “I kept waiting for it to start to feel better. I kept waiting to stop counting down the days until I could come back here, but it just...it never happened. I made a lot of excuses for it, insisting that it was just going to take time for me to settle, but that apartment was always too quiet. So I came home” she added.

Gerard didn’t say a word. He didn’t even move.

Isabella wanted to reach for him, to wrap him in a hug that she had been craving since she had set eyes on him, but she held herself back, waiting for any kind of reaction. When it came, it was small. Gerard’s head tilted to one side and a half-disbelieving, half-bitter smile pulled up the corners of his mouth. “So that’s all it took?” he quipped sharply “You just needed to have some sort of epiphany and then you uprooted your life?” he added.

“Gerard...”

“I could have told you that!” Gerard yelped.

Isabella ducked her head further.

Gerard let out a quiet sigh before he stepped towards her, placing the bottle that he had bought as a gift for Alex into her arms. “Give him this” he said “And tell him that we’ll...we’ll talk soon” he added.

Isabella stared at the bottle for a moment before she looked back up at him. “I’m sorry it took me so long to figure it out” she said “I don’t know what I was thinking” she added.

Gerard met her eyes for a moment, biting back the urge he had to lean forwards and press his lips against hers, before he shook his head. “Me too” he murmured before he turned on his heel and walked away. He hated that she hadn’t figured things out sooner, that she hadn’t realised that time wasn’t going to soothe how unsettled she had felt, but what he hated more was the fact that he was hurt by her not having said he was at least part of the reason she had come back. He wanted to matter enough to her for her to come back for.