Authors Note 2.1: Thank you to hiddle-stoner who is probably sleeping right now— she was, again, very gracious and beta’d an earlier version of this chappie for me. :) Also, please leave some feedback in my ask, because I would really like to know your thoughts on the story and Liv.
Disclaimers: I don’t own anything except Liv Ames and the plot. Seriously, don’t sue, I have no money, just college loans. This work is 100% fictional.
Tom firmly stood his ground in silence. His eyes roved over Liv, who looked away the moment he put the words together and uttered them. He knew that she was avoiding the subject by the way she suddenly became cold almost each time they were alone. Though Liv didn’t want to admit it, Tom knew her well enough to spot her avoidance techniques.
“I’m not your enemy here, Liv,” Tom said calmly when it seemed that Liv would not give in to the discussion at hand. “I’m your boyfriend, your partner. We need to talk about this.” He noted the hardened look on her face and added, “Please?”
When Liv refused to meet his gaze, he swatted a hapless pillow out of sheer frustration. “This has gone on long enough, Liv. I mean it. We are going to talk—”
Liv’s head snapped up, her face tight with emotion. “What do you want me to say, Tom? Sorry I’m not willing to move to London for you? Sorry I’m not enough of a reason for you to move to LA? Sorry I lost our baby? What—” She had started off strong and cutting, but then she stumbled as the meaning of her words ensnared her. “What do you want me to say?” Tears escaped from her eyes. She swiped angrily at them, trying to refrain from hysteria. “Tell me, what do you want to hear me say?”
A dull pain struck Tom’s heart. With every question she uttered, the pain became heavier and heavier in his chest. This was not the conversation he had intended.
There was a great divide between them, one that had begun to rot at the very core of their relationship. They had come to a point in their relationship when they realized that one of them was going to need to make the sacrifice to relocate; either Tom would be coming to LA or Liv would be coming to London. The long-distance was draining on the physical, mental, and emotional levels, and they could begin to feel the beginnings of resentment towards each other for not being nearer. In an effort to save their relationship, they talked about moving in together. The only problem was neither would blink first on who would be doing the relocating.
Then, sometime in March, they discovered that a baby would soon make three. Rather than bring them together, the pregnancy further convoluted their problems. Tom insisted that she relocate to London after the birth, while Liv ardently campaigned that she would stay put. When Liv suffered a miscarriage in April, all talks about relocating and moving in together came to a halt. And all through May, a chill settled over their relationship. Liv wouldn’t speak of it, and Tom couldn’t bring himself to press the issue. He figured that it was a lot for her to process and that, when she was ready, they would talk. So he gave her the space of nearly a month in which to think of herself, for herself. When he could no longer take the clipped texts and nearly silent phone calls, he sprang into action and whisked her away to Cannes for the premiere of “Only Lovers Left Alive”.
Though Liv came grudgingly, he stuck to the plan and did his best to woo her. His attempts were met with Liv behaving aloof and flat-out refusing to reciprocate any and all positive emotions he showered her with. He returned to London dejected, confused, and frustrated. Still, he tried again by meeting her with white roses (her favorite) at the airport today. Normally he sent a car to fetch her upon arrival, but he hoped that the personal touch of fetching her himself might give them a warmer start than Cannes. To his luck, it did. Now, however, things seemed to be falling apart all over again.
“Liv, darling, come now. Please don’t talk like that,” Tom said in a quiet voice. The moment of tears had passed, but she still looked ready to lash out at any given moment. He did not chance that it was yet the moment to physically reach out to comfort her, so he continued with his verbal approach. “I know things are terribly difficult right now with the distance and the miscarriage. But it all begins with the things we aren’t saying to each other. We have to calm down and talk reasonably. We’re not making a million sacrifices to keep our relationship, just to bicker and fall to pieces at every tribulation.”
When Liv did not object to his reasoning, he took it as a good sign and climbed over the bed to stand nearer to her. “I know you probably have a lot to say, so let me say my piece and you can have the floor. Is that alright?”
“Fine,” Liv huffed and sat back down on the bed where Tom joined her.
He looked into her eyes and reached for her hands. When she shrank from him, he sighed. “I know that the distance is weighing heavily on the both of us, especially the last few months. Trust me; I want to be able to see you every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed. I want to go to all those parties with you instead of letting you go stag all the time. But to move to L.A. is a huge thing to ask of me. I know it looks like Hollywood wants nothing more than to have me in their studios, but my future in there is not yet solidified enough for me to make the leap. I’m an artist and, like you, I have to stay close to the roots of my craft. Until I’m very sure I won’t get pigeon-holed in American cinema, I need to stay here in London to continue honing my skills.”
Liv tried to cut in. “But Tom, you promised—” Though she fell silent when he indicated that he wasn’t quite through.
“When you were pregnant, you know, I was stunned but incredibly happy. We didn’t quite have it figured out how we would manage the living situation even then, but I knew that somehow we would make things work like we always have. Wh-when you miscarried, I knew we would have a lot to work on. I didn’t realize just how much work.
“What I’m trying to say is that I get it, Liv. I get that you’re having a hard time with what happened. I am too. And I know that we’re both sick of the trans-Atlantic flying, the jet-lag, the syncing of schedules over time zones. Believe me, darling, I know that maintaining our relationship is exhausting. All I’m asking for is patience and understanding, and appreciation of everything that we’ve already done and accomplished together over the last three years.”
Liv exhaled slowly and loudly as if the breath she had been holding had prevented her from speaking the entire time. When she locked eyes with him, he hoped to find some form of comprehension there. Unfortunately, he met with blunt disbelief.
“So you’re still not on solid ground with the idea that you need to come to L.A.?” She stood again and paced to the door of the bathroom before turning her back to lean against the doorframe and face him. “We’ve been playing with the idea of moving in together to bring us closer for the last couple months. But every time I think we’re making progress, you pull back and say it’s not time yet and that I should have more patience.” Fixing him an exasperated look, she continued. “That being said, I don’t really think there’s any reason for us to continue with this charade of having a relationship, Tom.”
Tom took to his feet in a flash. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, Liv! Stop it, stop it this instant with that talk!” he barked.
“Why? Because you know it’s what we gotta do?!” Liv retaliated. He saw a fire alight in her eyes, and he was tempted to kiss her and have his way with her right then as she leaned upon the doorframe. The context of the conversation, however, prevented him from acting on this one particular impulse.
“No, I can’t stand losing you just because you can’t have an ounce of patience. I know that I’m the one who’s going to make the move. I know you need me. But these things take time. You’re going to have to stick this out with me, love. Stop inciting a break-up just because it’s not happening quickly enough for you.” Tom said in a low but intense tone. “I need you to trust that I can do this, that I will make good on my word.”
“Baby, I do trust you but that’s not the point,” Liv scoffed, dragging a hand through her hair. “We’ve been doing long-distance for three years and we’ve done a damn good job at it. No one’s been cheated on and our careers haven’t suffered.” Then, unexpectedly, her features softened as she gazed up at him. “But we’re suffering. When I lost our baby, I needed you so much,” she began to cry again even as she spoke. “I needed you to just at least physically be there for me. You didn’t need to say anything. Just, I don’t know, maybe you could have held me and said we’d be okay. Something like that would have really helped, you know? But no, while you were in L.A. you were bouncing between meetings, an awards show, and a premiere. And then you were back in London before I could pin you down to talk.”
Tom swallowed thickly, remembering the events from April surrounding the day that Liv miscarried. The MTV Movie Awards, the Clippers game he went to at the invitation of a director, the “Iron Man 3” premiere; it all seemed so insignificant in comparison with what they were going through at the time, what she had gone through alone. In his defense though, most of what he had done were contractual obligations and the meeting with the director at the Clippers game was networking. Though his error could not be excused, it did not mean he didn’t feel anything at the time. “Don’t you think it was difficult for me to carry on like that in front of the cameras? Smiling, pretending everything was wonderful?”
Liv looked equal parts livid and incredulous. “Yeah, it must have been super hard for you to smile and blow up your fans’ ovaries while I was getting my uterus scraped during my post-miscarriage D and C*.”
Tom felt ready to throw something out of vexation. He maintained his calm for the moment but still ground out, “Must you always speak to me like that? I’m desperately trying to save us, but you keep pushing back at me with your tone.”
“Well, I wouldn’t be taking this tone with you if I wasn’t so miserable,” Liv spat. “I. Needed. You,” she pointed at him emphatically as she threw out the last word. “You dropped the ball, Tom, big time. I didn’t need you to romance me in Cannes a month later. I just needed you, in the moment, to be around when I was going through all of that crap. It would have been a great comfort to me to reach out and feel that you were there for me. And you know how that would have been a reality? If you were there in L.A. with me like you promised.” Liv had stopped crying but her hazel eyes still looked like a dam that was ready to give out all over again. “Babe, you need to figure out this relocation thing fast or I promise you, we’re not going to last much longer like this.”
Tom turned away from her, his hands on his hips and his shoulders sagging forward a bit. They truly were at an impasse now; the self-same one they always came to. Tom knew the distance was the bane of Liv’s heart these days. But, given many of the scripts he was receiving from American directors had him playing a villain or something equally mundane, he was not yet comfortable with the idea decamping from jolly old England. It simply was not quite the right time in his career for him to relocate. Despite that, he knew it was now only a matter of when, not if, he would land a role that would truly make him a household name. It was only a matter of time and then he could make his move. Couldn’t she understand that?
“No,” he finally said after a long pause. Tom fixed her with a plaintive look but his voice was firm as ever. “No ultimatums. We’re going to work this out, I know we will. I’m going to go run a few errands so we can both have some breathing room.”
“I’ve had a month’s worth of breathing room, a couple hours won’t change anything,” Liv smarted.
Tom remained resolute and turned to face her again, his mouth a thin line of determination. “I will leave you to acclimatize yourself to the fact that I will not consent to breaking up under these circumstances. I’m in this for the long-term, Liv. So let’s rid the table of your ultimatums. I promised that I will relocate—it will happen if you just have a bit of patience.” Then he added in a clipped tone, “And do try to reduce the sarcasm. I feel it would be exceedingly prudent in us moving forward from this fighting that we’ve been up to our eyeballs with in the last few months.”
Then he turned his heel and left Liv alone in the bedroom.
Author’s Note 2.2: *D and C is Dilation and Curettage. See link for more info.
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