A/N: I'm not going to lie, you'll understand this better if you read "Don't let me go, follow me" :)
Five Years Later…
Flower shopping was something Lily didn't enjoy.
Better saying, she really didn't like to shop…at all. The bumping, the chasing for the lower prices, crazy women that would stop at nothing to get what they wanted and the persevering eyes of the sales assistant on the back of Lily's head, made her hate shopping.
When she had to buy clothes, she just grabbed them, paid and left the store without even trying them out or thinking about the consequences.
In this case, the strong scent of multiple flowers in the same room, the explosion of colours, the overwhelming heat, combined with the smell of wet soil and the hopeful eyes of the florist made her wish she was everywhere but there.
"Red or yellow?" Vivienne asked, her bright blue eyes looking at Lily. Vivienne was the one that dragged Lily to this hostile environment. She was getting married in two weeks and asked Lily to be her bridesmaid, as it was expected (or so Vivienne thought), since Lily was her best friend.
They met at kindergarten when they were four years old, after a quarrel with one of the bullies. She had pushed Vivienne down and Lily didn't like it, so she marched up to them and stood up to the other girl, ending up on the ground next to Vivienne with an equally bruised bum.
They have been friends ever since and that was the main reason for Lily to be back in first place, when she swore five years ago that she wouldn't.
"Maybe yellow, but red is good as well…For the wedding I mean" Lily said without emotion "I really don't like roses" She didn't really care about it. She didn't sleep, she could feel a headache coming and her throat was already sore, as her allergies started to come alive. She just wanted to leave. Vivienne's face fell along with her arms, taking the flowers she was holding in her hands down, the yellow on her right hand and the red on the left.
"I know you are tired from your flight but please could you just make a little effort?" Vivienne asked hopefully "I'm almost done, I promise!" Lily blushed upon hearing her words and nodded
"I'm sorry!" Vivienne smiled big at her, the happiness inside her evident on her eyes. It was her wedding after all.
"Ok…Let's start again, red or yellow?" She asked, showing Lily the flowers
"Red" Lily said smiling.
They decided they deserved a break from their shopping (the flowers were still to be decided) and stopped at the nearest Italian Restaurant to eat something. They were smiling and sharing stories from the time they were apart. They usually called and e-mailed each other, but it wasn't the same thing and not for the first time, Lily was grateful to have a friend like Vivienne, who despite Lily's mistakes, had been there for her throughout the years, never once throwing at her what she did, even though he was also one of her closest friends and Lily knew Vivienne cared about him as much as she cared about Lily.
"Have I mentioned that I'm really happy that you came all the way from England just to be here at my wedding?" Lily smiled at her, trying to drown her aches.
"Ohh… You have mentioned it…one hundred and forty five times since you and my parents picked me up from the airport?" She asked to her friend a small teasing smile on her lips. Vivienne stuck her tongue out. Lily laughed "I'm happy to be here" She said softly "I wouldn't miss your wedding. You are like a sister to me and I've known Fred since we were both thirteen. I love you both."
"I know...But that's not what I meant" Vivienne said swallowing a piece of pasta and gazing at Lily, who was intentionally ignoring her as she ate her meal. Of course Lily knew that Vivienne meant, how could she not?!
"Liam will be there Lily. You know that" Lily looked at Vivienne, who was looking expectantly at her
"I know" She said simply and got back to her food "It doesn't matter" Vivienne gave a fake laugh
"Yeah right…" Lily looked down at her plate "You ran away because of him! You didn't come back for five years so you wouldn't have to face him! Don't tell me it doesn't matter"
It did matter, she hadn't been able to sleep for a week before she got inside that plane that brought her back to her previous life, picturing the moment she would be back again.
Thoughts of him assaulted Lily with a new force, a different him clouded her mind as he stood next to her, not even glancing at her as the imaginary wedding band in his left hand teased her. It was painful and completely silly fantasy so she pushed it away and pretended it didn't matter.
The truth was that she was tired of running and hiding, Lily was tired of pretending that Liam didn't exist, that her heart didn't ache anymore, that everything was all right and above it all that everything would be fine when most certainty it wouldn't.
"It was an adolescent romance, those never really work" She said out loud what she had said numerous times before to herself in a feeble attempt to convince herself that what she had with Liam was only an adolescent romance.
The thing was…he wasn't. He wasn't then and sure as hell he wasn't now, even after all those years.
"Thanks Lily!" Vivienne deadpanned. Lily realized what she just said
"Some of those!" Lily tried to emend, smiling slightly. Vivienne saluted her with her glass
"I really hope so because I'm marrying mine in two weeks!" Lily smiled and tried to eat despite the fact that her stomach protested against the thought of it. She pushed her half-full plate away.
"I'm done" Vivienne raised a blond eyebrow at her. Lily had a healthy appetite, Vivienne knew that, but she didn't open her mouth to comment on it.
"Good" Vivienne said, pushing hers as well "We only have two weeks until my wedding, we have a lot of catching up to do"
They were at Vivienne's apartment, on the living room sofa, each with a glass of red wine in hand, sitting on different sides of it with their legs curled under them as the TV mumbled quietly on the background.
"Remember when we were fourteen, my mother had forbidden me to see Fred because my grades were slipping but I still got out to see him using you as an excuse?" Lily laughed, trying to ignore the ache on her right temple.
"I do, your mother found me on the park with Liam and asked me where you were" Vivienne laughed remembering the scene
"You told her I was with your mother at your house, studying" Lily's mother was a history teacher and during that period she had tutored Vivienne
"I called you and pretended you were my mother"
"I was so confused when I picked up the phone and you called me mother!" They both laughed, both lost in the memories they shared for so many years, memories that involved Vivienne, Fred and most of their close group of friends, memories that always got back to Liam
"Tell me about him" Lily asked quietly over the rim of her glass of wine, not bothering to say exactly who she meant. Vivienne from the other side, raised a blond eyebrow at her request
"What about him, Lily?" Vivienne asked her voice soft as Lily shrugged "Are you sure you want to hear about that?" Lily nodded
"I think I need it" She said there it was that sick curiosity that only her fantasies where able to fulfil, but those usually vary according to her mood, because despite the fact that they showed a married and happy Liam, sometimes they were cruel enough to show him chasing after her, waiting for her at home after a particular stressful and painful day at work.
"I still see him at least twice a week, he is going to be Fred's best man at the wedding, but you probably figured that out" Lily sipped her wine and nodded. She needed to calm her heart that was beating furiously inside her chest. Vivienne grabbed an elastic band that was on her wrist, her glass of wine in between her tights, and tied her long wavy blond hair on the back of her head "He finished college almost top of his class, he moved out, brought his own apartment not far from here, actually, but a lot more fancy that mine" She chuckled. Vivienne's apartment was fancy all right, it wasn't big, but it was spacious enough for one person to live in it, with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen
"I like it" Lily said looking around taking in the yellow covered walls of the living room, the furniture around the room simple, modern and elegant "Miss Interior Designer" Vivienne laughed and bowed her head
"I knew I'd keep in touch with you for a reason" Lily smiled at her fighting the urge to roll her eyes, something she picked up from Vivienne a long time ago
"He is fine" Vivienne said and sipped her drink, her gaze not once leaving Lily's. There was still so much she wanted to know, needed to know.
Just hearing about him, made her ache inside to be closer to him again, to hear his voice, to talk to him and the worse, to be in his arms.
Lily swore that if she closed her eyes at that moment, she could fell him there, his arms around her, his familiar scent around her. But she also knew that when she opened them again, all she would feel was remorse for what she had done all those years ago and longing for him and for the life they never had.
So she didn't Lily didn't close her eyes, instead she took a deep breath and asked what she had been meaning to ask since she send her first e-mail to Vivienne explaining what happened, telling her she needed to get back to London to continue her studies.
"Is he still with her?" She asked quietly. Vivienne studied her as if trying to figure out if she was ready to hear the answer or not. That answered her question. Her eyes started to burn.
"He is" She said simply, confirming what Lily already knew "They seem to be quite solid" Lily closed her eyes for a moment as she taught herself how to breath because her chest was heavy and she couldn't – wouldn't let the tears fall. Vivienne called her and her eyes turned to her best friend "Don't tell me it doesn't matter Lily" Vivienne told her "You're still in love with him" Lily didn't answer, she just let her friend read it in her eyes, because she was sure it was all over her face "What you want me to say to you…I can't say it…" Lily nodded "Liam can be a hard book to read; only Fred and you could do it without trying. So what you want me to say to you, what you want to hear, I can't say it. I can't because I don't know that anymore" Lily threw her a small sad smile "I don't know if it's going to be all right or not"
"Don't worry about it" She said her voice sounding far more confident that she felt "It's not like he'd drop everything for me" If he didn't do that before, he wasn't going to do it now "Besides, he probably doesn't remember me anymore" Vivienne rolled her eyes
"Lily, he remembers you all right, trust me"
She was warm, too warm, warm enough to sweat. Every part of her body hurt. Her feet felt like they had been run over by a bus, her legs ached like she had run a marathon, her breath came out oddly forced, her arms were numb and her head was hurting. Lily felt sick, she was sick, she needed to take something, she just needed to go to the bathroom where her mother- She stopped there and fought the urge to groan.
She wasn't at her house…She was at Vivienne's
She had stayed at Vivienne's, after much shopping and much time without real contact they decided it was better to catch up some more, so they stayed up until late talking and drinking red wine.
Vivienne probably had something there for it; Fred wouldn't let her without some pills for emergencies. She needed something for the fever and the headache; all she had to do was get up and go to knock on Vivienne's door. Worse thing was her muscles didn't think she should, because they were strangely heavy and aching.
"Rise and shine, Love!" Vivienne loudly said entering the guest room, seriously intensifying the headache several degrees. Lily turned her head and muffed her groaning on the pillow
"Don't scream, please!" She moaned. Vivienne unaware of Lily's pain moved the curtains so that the sun streamed inside the bedroom window. Lily grabbed the other pillow and put it on her face, trying to drown the luminosity of the small bedroom.
"Why are you still there? Come one we've got loads of things to do today!" Vivienne removed the pillow off Lily's face. As she saw her friend's face, she gasped "You look like hell, is it normal?!" Lily, whose eyes were closed, massaged her temples in hope to erase a little bit of the headache
"I'm sick" She felt Vivienne sit on the mattress
"Are you sure?" Vivienne whispered. Her throat was killing her. She thought as she removed the covers, letting only a sheet covering her body. She shivered slightly as she lay down again
"I'm a nurse. I'm pretty sure" Lily said, her voice slightly raspy, covering her eyes with her hands
"Oh…Right…You need a doctor. I'll call Fred!" And she flew the scene
Lily was about to say that it was not necessary, she knew what she needed and Doctor Fred Smith was not one of them. She was going to call Vivienne but she couldn't. A sudden wave of sleep came over her and her eye lids become too heavy, so she let them fall and curling on her side, Lily fell asleep.
"Is she in a coma?" Lily heard someone ask, she was pretty sure was Vivienne. She heard someone laugh, someone she was pretty sure was Fred
"No…she's probably asleep" Someone touched her forehead "she's burning up"
"We should call her mother" That wasn't an option. Mustering forces she knew were running low she said,
"I'd rather not if you don't mind" Lily whispered, opening her eyes. The first person she saw, since he sat on the bed right in front of her, was Fred. He smiled at her, his big warm smile and she couldn't help but smile back. His face hadn't changed much, he was still the same, dark short hair and green eyes, round but perfect features. He seemed taller somehow but he was still broad.
"I would hug you right now but I really don't want to catch that nasty bug you have" Fred said smiling teasingly at her with his deep smooth voice. Lily made a sound that sounded like a laugh, wincing then as everything else hurt.
"Do you treat all your patients like that or just the ones you really hate?" Fred laughed
"No…just friends who left and don't come back for five years! Come here!" He removed the sheet and pulled her into his arms. His embrace was familiar, warm and smoothing, bringing back pleasant memories.
Fred was the voice of reason of the group; he was always the smart one, the one that Liam usually ran to when they had a fight, the one that came talking to Lily just after that. He was the one marring her best friend; the one that was holding her, like someone would hold a sister. Lily felt the tears on her eyes, but she didn't let them fall. Someone sniffed and Lily was pretty sure it was Vivienne.
She made an effort to open her eyes that had closed along the way, to make a lame joke. As she opened them, she found her, crying quietly at the bottom of the bed but she wasn't alone in the room. Someone else was there, looking straight at her. Her eyes moved to the figure and as her mind registered who it was, her body went rigid.
Fred noticed it
"I'm sorry…We were together when Vivienne called mumbling about flu pills. I didn't know you were here." He said quietly
She should have known…There it was again, the feeling inside her, the hyper-awareness she seemed to possess wheneverhe was around. She hadn't felt it in so long that she forgot how it felt like…
She tried to tell herself how to breathe as her heart slammed against her rib cage. She took him in from her place on the bed
His tense body was leaning on the wall, hands inside his jeans. He looked different, taller. His before shaggy blond hair was cut shorter sticking up on the back, his brown eyes lost their spark long before and his mouth was closed in a tight line. The two days old stubble on his strong square jaw, made him look older and his shirt did nothing to dissemble his shoulders that had broadened since the last time she saw him.
He might look different but the feeling he induced in her was still the same. Liam Thompson was still the only man who as able to make her heart beat faster and feel like she was eighteen all over again.
"Don't worry about it" Lily whispered, her eyes not leaving Liam's, who was still studying her, just like she was studying him. He didn't look away from her and she did the same, each locked in a gaze war.
Fred stepped back, making her move her brown eyes to him again, he gave her a tentative smile.
"I'm going to measure your temperature" He said showing a thermometer.
"That's not necessary!" Lily said smiling slightly "I'm fine. I just need something for the pain and fever. I'm fine!" She told him, trying to wave him off. She still could feel Liam's eyes on her and-
"You don't look fine." That voice…gave her chills that had nothing to do with the temperature. It was strong and deep and irradiated a confidence that she knew he had. For the first time since she noticed he was there, Lily was worried about her looks, her brown hair was probably out of control, her eyes probably had dark smudges under them and the old t-shirt she was wearing, which she was sure that at some point in the past had belong to Fred, was everything but sexy. Fred cleared his throat
"Lily, just take the temperature and then I'll go buy you the medication. I just need to see how high your fever is. You know that"
Lily looked up and removed the thermometer from Fred and put it herself on her left armpit
"We were supposed to shop for flowers again today…Think she's ready for that?" Lily knew that Vivienne already knew the answer, she was just making small talk.
Fred, catching the drift answered her
"No… I think that it will have to wait, Love" Fred said "You look like you need to lay down Lily." She did, the pounding in her head was making her stomach turn. She put her flat hands on the bed and tried lay on the bed again but the sudden movement made it worse. She stopped and Fred's hand found her elbow as she was sure she was going to fall off the bed "Lily?" Fred asked her, concern on his voice
"I'm feeling a little queasy" She said taking deep long breaths
"Maybe you're pregnant" Vivienne teased her, her voice nasal. Lily looked up to send a fun retort back but she noticed Liam then, his body, if possible went more rigid than before and he was looking at her intently as if expecting her to say if she was or not. Lily decided not to joke about it.
"I'm not. There is no way I can be pregnant" She said looking at Vivienne but the last part was to Liam. There was no one, she was no saint, she had dated, but none of them made her feel a quarter of Liam did, so they all ended pretty soon.
"So…" Fred started "How's London?" He asked
Lily leaned back on the headboard as her stomach started to feel normal again. She closed her eyes. She knew what he was doing...he was trying to keep her head of the nausea
"It's fine. I've managed to take a couple weeks off work, which mean I work with some very nice people" Fred laughed
"And you? How is work?"
"You know, working at the same place as your mother isn't as easy as it may seem. I swear sometimes she wishes to be inside the room just watching what I do" Lily smiled "I swear to you, just yesterday she-" He didn't get to finish, his cell phone started to ring. "I really need to get this" Fred got up and left, Vivienne mumbled something about calling Lily's mother and got out after him.
She might or might not do that, Lily didn't care because she was now, conveniently alone with Liam. They didn't move or speak. Lily was still in her place against the headboard waiting for the nausea to pass. Her eyes were still closed but she could picture him, right where she last saw him, near the door, leaning against the wall. There was tension in the room as they were both aware of the fact that for the first time in five years they were together again.
The bip of the thermometer indicating it was ready to be removed was the only thing that could be heard and the thing that made Liam move from his place on the wall to her side. Lily was about to remove it when his voice stopped her. She opened her eyes to watch him make his way towards her.
"Don't move" He sat on the bed "I'll do it"
"You don't need to, Liam. I can do it myself" Lily said, his name rolling off her tongue easily. His hands stopped at the hem of her baggy t-shirt as he ignored her words and at the same time seem to remind himself that he was about to put his hands under her clothes
"Liam…" He looked her in the eye then. Taking a deep breath he put one hand on her upper left arm and with the other he moved under her shirt to remove the devise. He was trying hard not to touch her which he did, making his breathing hitch and her heart skip a beat. When he removed his hand, the side of her waist was still tingling. Tearing his eyes from her, he read the number and swore.
You're burning up" He said almost whispering "Where have you been, Lily?" He asked quietly. She was aware of his hand, supporting his weight on the bed, near hers. This was the first time they stood so close since that day. The day when she tried to win him back again and he denied it. She had cried for him, said her goodbyes to her parents and returned to London to continue her studies, trying to escape the memories that assaulted her every place that she went, or trying to escape the fact that Liam was now with somebody else and that was the worse. She made a mistake, she admitted that and she wished with all her being that she could get back to the day that she first ran away, too afraid of her feelings for him.
"I watched over the daughter of a friend of mine a couple of days ago, she was sick. I guess I caught it" She said from her place. She felt warm; her clothes clinging uncomfortably to her body "I need to get out of this" She said grabbing a hand full of her t-shirt, trying to pull it away from her chest. Liam got up.
"Maybe Vivienne has something here" He moved to the wardrobe and looked inside, returning then with other old t-shirt, this time one of Vivienne's. He sat down again and looked at her.
"Take it off" He said to her. Despite the fact that he had already seen her with much less than this, it didn't mean that she would remove her t-shirt in front of him. She didn't move "Lily…Come on!" He was losing his patience and Lily didn't know why " I've seen you with less! Damn! I took less off your body. You're not the first woman I see naked and you're not going to be the last one. So just take it off!"
She suddenly felt ashamed of herself and very mad at him. The headache seemed to go away as well as the nausea and with energy she didn't know she had, Lily removed the t-shirt off his hands and tried to get up, getting trapped inside the sheets.
"What are you doing?" Liam asked getting to his feet as she started to kick the sheet of her and her knee brushed against his back "Come on Lily! Stop! " He tried to stop her but she was already moving off the bed and getting up when her legs gave up. Feeling herself falling she grabbed the first thing she could, which was Liam, who was able to reach for her and put her on her feet again.
Her stomach woke up again
"Bathroom…I'm going to be sick" She chocked up as he picked her up bridal style and carried her to the bathroom where she emptied the contents off her stomach. Liam was there, grabbing her hair off her face, a hand on her forehead during it and giving her a glass of water after. When it was over she tried to get up, but that wasn't necessary, he just picked her up again, her head went to the curve of his neck as his hard warm body seemed to have a calming effect on her. Liam carried her to the bed, laying a sheet over her as she closed her eyes. Fred and Vivienne were already there
"I'll just go buy the pills" Said Fred "I'll be right back" Lily opened her eyes and nodded at him, trying to avoid Liam's eyes, she found Vivienne's instead as she clutched a cup of tea in her hands
But Lily could still feel his eyes on her as she accepted the cup from Vivienne so she gave in and found him, on the same place near the door, looking like he needed to get out of there.
They stared at each other. Their contact seemed to have affected her as much as it affected him.
It was familiar and warm and at the same time painful as it reminded them both of what they had shared and of what happened between them. For a moment, she swore she saw it again, that look on his eyes, the one he used just for her. But it was gone before she could decide if she imagined it or if it was really there.
"I'll go with you" He said suddenly as Fred left the room. Liam followed him without glancing back