Until The Sunshine Fades

Fifty Six

Staring at the screen of his phone, Gerard let out a quiet noise of frustration, irked that the taxi he had arranged to pick him up was still as far away as it was. He had thought about walking. After he had left Isabella in the hallway outside of her brother’s apartment, his first thought had been to put a lot distance between himself and Alex’s apartment building as quickly as possible to remove any chance that he’d calm down and find himself walking back inside, but he had stopped himself, opting instead to sit outside and wait for a taxi.

It was becoming more tempting. As the minutes ticked by, and the initial anger he had felt at the fact that Isabella had only realised that coming home would make her happier after things between them had fallen apart faded, part of him itched to walk back inside and make his way up to Alex’s apartment again, but he wouldn’t let himself. He knew how it would go. Things would start out alright, both he and Isabella would try and keep their emotions in check, but as soon as they saw that they weren’t going to see what they wanted to see from one another, they’d both get frustrated and say things they didn’t mean, causing the other to pull away before they’d talked about what really needed to be talked about. They wouldn’t get to the part where Gerard could admit to missing her, or where Isabella could admit that he was part of the reason that she’d come home. They were both too stubborn to let the things that made them vulnerable show.

“You’re still here?”

Gerard, who’d been glaring at his phone, visibly jumped, almost the letting it slide out of his hand.

Isabella’s lips quirked upwards slightly, but the smile wasn’t quite right to Gerard who had turned to look at her. It didn’t make her entire face brighter like it usually did. “Sorry” she said softly.

Gerard wordlessly shook his head, diverting his stare back to his phone.

Isabella dithered for a moment, half moving towards him, before she retreated, shaking her head slightly. “I only wanted some air” she said “I’ll head back inside and use the balcony” she added before she started to walk away.

Gerard listened to her retreating footsteps before he let out a quiet groan. “I wanted it to be me” he announced.

Isabella’s steps faltered before she turned around. “You wanted what to be you?” she asked.

“I wanted to be the reason you came back” Gerard admitted “I wanted to matter that much to you, Izzy” he added.

Isabella opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, but when she couldn’t force a sound out of her mouth, Gerard retreated, shaking his head ruefully. “I know you’re not much of a talker” he said “And I know I have known that since we started this, but would it kill you to just open up to me a little? Do you have any idea how hard this is when I have absolutely no idea what’s going through your head?” he pressed.

“Gerard...”

“I fucking miss you, Izzy” Gerard continued as though Isabella hadn’t spoken “I miss us” he added.

Isabella blinked a couple of times, surprised by the admission, before she shook her head, her arms wrapping around herself. “I...I didn’t think that you’d want to hear it” she spluttered “I mean, I’ve made such a mess of this. I’ve done so much to hurt you, not intentionally of course, just...I’ve been too selfish and I thought that if we saw each other again, you wouldn’t want to hear all of the things I want to say to you” she added.

Gerard’s answering grin was pained. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Isabella, for as long as he had known her, had always been an expert in doing anything she could to avoid getting into a difficult conversation, and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to him that she had assumed she could read his mind, but it did. “Tell me now” he murmured.

Isabella briefly thought about asking him to clarify what he meant, wanting to buy herself a couple of seconds to try and put the muddled thoughts she had in order, but the look on his face stopped her. Instead, she swallowed slightly and reached her hand up, pushing it back through her hair. “You were right” she said quietly “When we were together last, you said that I just did things and expected you to make things work between us. I did do that. I took a job that I thought I really wanted, and I don’t think at any point I really stopped to think it through. I just took it and expected that we’d be able to handle the fall out. Look where that got us” she added, letting out a sad laugh

Gerard’s expression didn’t change. He just watched, waiting for her to continue.

Screwing her eyes closed, Isabella took in a deep breath before she exhaled it shakily. “We terrified me” she admitted.

“What?” Gerard asked.

“It had so much potential” Isabella whispered “It felt so right, too. I could see myself doing things with you that I hadn’t thought about with Eli, that I hadn’t thought about with anyone else, and that scared the life out of me. I don’t think I did it consciously, but in retrospect it’s pretty easy to see that a relationship that was only a matter of months old wasn’t going to survive long distance. A lot don’t, and one where we were still figuring each other out...” she trailed off with another humourless laugh.

Gerard’s feet dragged him closer to her almost unconsciously. Reaching up, he gently brushed the hair away from her forehead. “You don’t think I was scared, too?” he whispered.

“You threw out marriage and babies as a joke once” Isabella countered “If you were scared, it wasn’t on the same level as me” she added, her eyes flashing up to meet his.

Gerard offered her a reluctant smile.

“I didn’t think you’d want to know how much I miss you” Isabella continued softly “I didn’t think you want me to admit that part of the reason for me coming back here is you, because of course it is. Don’t get me wrong, all of the stuff I said earlier was true, too. I was never going to settle there, and I have missed so much about being here that I don’t even know where to begin, but it’d be a lie if I told you that I hadn’t thought that me being here made the chances of us...doing something to fix this better. I know you’ve not got a lot of reason to believe this right now, but I love you and if I can improve those chances by the tiniest margin, then I’d do it, no matter how scared I am. I like being with you a lot more than I like being without you” she added.

Gerard’s resolve disappeared then. All of the effort that he had gone through to make sure that he kept his distance, and didn’t get swept away by her presence in front of him faded when his hand cupped the back of her head, guiding Isabella into a kiss that left her eyes stinging with tears of relief.