FANDOM: Guiding Light
RATING: PG for this part
SUMMARY: Natalia is forced to come to terms with her feelings alone when Olivia is injured.
TIMELINE: Begins immediately after the episode on 17th of April and diverges from the canon storyline at that point
Natalia stared at the bride and groom ornament in her hand, trying desperately to keep her mind blank. She didn't want to think about what had happened, didn't want to think about the pain in Frank's eyes as she ran from him, or the deeper pain in Olivia's as she turned her back on her in the gazebo. Despite her guilt over Frank, she knew whose pain called out to her more. She may have been confused about everything, but she knew deep down that Olivia had always come first.
Tears swelled behind her eyes which she blinked away. "I need you, Olivia," she whispered, her voice cracking. "I'm so lost. Please find me."
But the house was empty, no Olivia, no Emma. Not even their things remained - they were all packed away in boxes and moved indecently quickly. Almost as indecently quickly as that god-forsaken wedding.
Natalia let out a short sharp scream as the tight band of self control in her chest suddenly snapped and she threw the ornament across the room, noting with satisfaction the dent it left in the wall. That was good. This pain, this maelstrom, this calamity should leave a scar somewhere. Other than the ones on her heart.
She moved through the room like a tornado, ripping and shredding all the decorations Olivia had so carefully bought to celebrate what Natalia now knew would have been the worst day of her life. Anger coursed through her like a drug, anger at everything, at herself for being such a coward, at Olivia for walking away when she was most needed, at God for giving her these feelings in the first place. This was supposed to be such a happy day - would have been a happy day, if only she could change her heart. But loving Olivia was something she couldn't possibly change, no-matter how she tried. Like the speed of light, or - Natalia let out a bitter laugh - the love of God. It was a universal constant, and she could no more stop her heart from loving the other woman than she could stop the birds from singing.
The wedding dress was like prison to her now; she needed to take it off, needed to be free in her own skin again. It had taken two people to get her into it, but she got it off by herself, tearing it beyond repair in the process. It didn't matter. No-matter what Frank had hoped, she knew she'd never be wearing it again.
Leaving the remnants of her wedding decorations behind she slipped into the kitchen, feeling like a ghost in her own house. The plate that Emma had made stared at her, mocking her with its image of the family she had had, the family she feared may now be irretrievably lost.
A cold shiver whispered down her spine. Natalia crossed to the drier, pulling out some fresh clothes. It was a relief to pull on her favourite worn blue jeans. She could feel her shattered identity returning piece by piece as the soft cotton hugged her hips. The next item she pulled from the machine was one of Emma's nightshirts. Natalia paused for a moment, then put it to the side, her hand shaking as she smoothed the thin cotton almost reverently. But it was the next piece she pulled out that undid her.
It was one of Olivia's T-shirts, old, worn, a little threadbare in places, never to be worn in public, only inside with family. She'd been wearing it on their last movie night, curled up under the blanket with Natalia and Emma, watching King Kong. Natalia remembered how she'd pretended to be scared so she could have an excuse to turn to Olivia and hide in the protective circle of her arms, to bury her face in her neck and breathe in her scent. And Olivia had obliged, as Natalia knew she would, giving her strength and security, comfort and love. Natalia remembered how Olivia's body had felt pressed against her, how the other woman's breath had caught as Natalia's hair tickled her skin, how her muscles had clenched as Natalia splayed her fingers over her stomach, her head on her shoulder. What absolute torture it must have been for her. What torment Natalia had put her through.
The shirt smelled fresh and clean as Natalia pulled it over her head, hints of soap powder and fabric softener, hints of Olivia. She breathed the scent deeply as she reflexively made the sign of the cross.
"Dear God." Her voice was watery as she began to recite the only prayer that would come to her. "Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have increased. Free me from my anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
A laugh bubbled up inside her as she felt her spirit calm. God hadn't abandoned her. She could still feel his presence in prayer, just as she always had. "Oh, thank you God, thank you..." she murmured, sliding into a chair and crossing her hands across her chest. She stayed there for long moments before she looked up again, nodded to herself and dried her eyes. "I have some work to do," she said, and got up to fetch some garbage bags and a broom.
* * * * * *
A harsh knocking cut through the fog of sleep and Natalia started awake, almost falling off the couch. A bone-deep weariness had overtaken her once she'd finished clearing up the living room, so deep she hadn't even been able to make it to her bedroom.
Oh no, she moaned internally. Not him. Ignoring the knocking and calling, she rolled onto her stomach and buried her face into the upholstery.
"Ma? Are you in there?"
Natalia rolled back onto her side. Low blow, Frank, low blow. With a deep, deep sigh she dragged herself to her feet and unlocked the door. "I can't talk anymore tonight, Frank, I'm sorry...." she began, then trailed off when she saw the sombre look on his and her son's faces. "What is it?"
Rafe stared at his shoes. "You should sit down, ma."
"What is it?" Natalia demanded, rounding on Frank, who looked like he was about to start crying. The expression on his face terrified her - sympathy, fear, worry, and love rolled into one.
"Natalia," he whispered, taking her hand. "It's Olivia."
Note: Natalia's prayer is part of Psalm 25.