Fandom: Guilding Light
Spoilers: Anything up to April 17th... after that I kidnap them all into my own special Springfield.
A/N: I've tried to stop reading spoilers, so anything resembling future plots is purely a coincidence. Considering I've been watching soaps since I was jumping around in a playpen, I wouldn't count this out. For the longest time I was sure "off the wagon" meant being really mean and hitting girls. Oh, and sadly, there wont be another part for a couple of days. I have to actually do some real work for a change. The horror!
Previous: Part 1
Olivia stood before the doors of The Beacon and straightened her jacket. She wasn’t looking forward to tackling the pile of papers that had accumulated on her desk during the past few days. After taking Emma to school, she’d spent the morning driving around town, trying to catch up with a few contacts. Normally, she wasn’t a fan of meeting with people outside her own office, but today she wished she had more excuses to stay away. The stack waiting for her inside was truly ugly. Buck up, Spencer. It’s only a few… hundred papers to sign.
Suddenly, a door flew open and one of her employees came running out. “Ms. Spencer! I saw you through the window. Please, please come inside. “
“Is everything alright, Nathan?” she asked as she followed the man who was obviously about to have a panic attack. Nathan didn’t respond, only opened the door for her.
“Well, hello there, Olivia,” a loud, almost jovial voice bellowed as she walked through the door.
“Oh, God,” Olivia muttered under her breath before calling out, “Hello, Alan.” She could literately feel revulsion begin creeping into her body at the sight of him.
“You have such a lovely staff. I was just telling them how excited I am to see you.” The aforementioned staff began not-so-subtly fleeing in all directions.
“Yeah, I’m sure you were.” She rolled her eyes. Alan pretended not to notice. “Why are you here, Alan?”
“Well, Olivia. It was the strangest thing. I went out to the farmhouse this morning to leave a message for you with your roommate, but she wasn’t home. Luckily, her son was home to answer the door.” Alan paused and tapped a finger to his chin thoughtfully. “Now that I think about it, isn’t he supposed to still be in jail?” Olivia raised an eyebrow at Alan and gave him a bored look. “Ah, well, no matter. If you want to harbor criminals, that’s certainly none of my business. So anyway, Rafe invited me in while he found some paper and that’s when I noticed none of your things were there anymore.” Alan shrugged and filled his face with confusion. “It was all so very confusing.”
“Why would you go to my home, Alan? I know you’ve heard of telephones. They may not have been around when you were born, but your secretary must keep you up to date with these things.”
Alan did nothing more than raise an eyebrow at Olivia’s insult before continuing. “Well, you see, I had been driving through the neighborhood and thought a friendly face-to-face visit would be fun for everyone. I haven’t seen you or little Emma since our lovely family dinner.”
“Driving through my neighborhood? Right. I bet you do that a lot.” She sighed. “Let’s cut to the chase, Alan. I have a lot of work today.” Olivia was becoming desperate to get away from this annoying man. Her eyes kept searching for something that might allow her an excuse to kick him out of her hotel, but no one would come within 50 feet of them.
“Oh yes, I’m sure you do. I heard you’ve been rather busy with some sort of wedding preparations this week. Something about Natalia and Frank Cooper? My information is awfully spotty.”
“Enough, Alan.” She leaned toward him and lowered her voice menacingly. “I already know you spend a bizarre amount of time circling above my life like a hungry vulture. I’m sure you know everything that happened at the wedding, you know Rafe was released from prison, and you knew I moved out of the farmhouse before you even went there.”
Alan looked disappointed in her for not going along with his little bit of fun. “Well then, Olivia.” He sighed as if he felt bad about the words he was about to say. “Since you know everything I know, I suppose you wont be surprised when I remind you that my son Philip actually approved of your living situation at the farmhouse. He was very supportive of your friendship with Ms. Rivera. Apparently, Philip thinks she’s had a positive influence on Emma.”
Olivia nodded slowly, remembering her hung-over conversation with Philip. “What are you getting at, Alan?”
“Well, I simply thought I’d remind you that Philip hasn’t tried any legal action to get custody of Emma. I’d think you’d appreciate that enough to try to keep him happy.”
Olivia felt panic flutter through her chest. Words she never wanted to hear spoken in the same sentence were custody, Emma, and Philip. “Are you threatening me, Alan?”
“Oh dear, Olivia. Of course not. I’m here as a friend. A friend who wants to remind you that your ex-husband has friends in very high places. If he’s not happy, he doesn’t have to take anti-depressants to boost his spirits.”
Olivia took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose. An Alan-induced headache was beginning to pierce her brain. “You’re seriously telling me that Philip will sue for custody if we don’t move back to the farmhouse?”
“Even though it’s not my preference, for some reason it seems to make Philip happy to think of Emma frolicking on a farm with lots of little ducks and cows. I’m just telling you what makes Philip happy… as a friend.”
Olivia clenched her teeth and shook her head in frustration. “I cannot believe this. I cannot believe you. What gives you the right to come in here and tell me where I can live with my daughter? If you think for one minute…”
Alan raised a hand in the air in an attempt to silence Olivia. She fiercely batted it away. “Now, now, Olivia. Maybe some anger management classes might be in order? Perhaps it’s time for me to go. I do hope you make up with Ms. Rivera now that Detective Cooper is out of the picture.” Alan buttoned his coat and flung his scarf around his neck. He began walking toward the exit as he said, “I would simply love to see everything work out with your little family.”
Olivia wanted to fling a thousand curse words in Alan’s direction, but stopped herself because the relief of Alan leaving far outweighed the satisfaction of telling him to fuck the hell off. She watched him with clenched fists until she was sure he was gone.
“Ms. Spencer?” a voice came from behind her.
“What?” She spun around. Her eyes still flashed with rage as they landed on a young woman in a maid’s uniform.
“Um, I just wanted to…” The woman’s words faded and she shrunk back as she noticed the wild look in her employer’s eyes.
“You wanted to what?” Olivia asked sharply, knowing she looked and sounded frighteningly angry at the moment, but had no ability to erase the emotions from her face and voice.
“Umm… It’s nothing, really… I just…”
“Maybe I can help?” asked another voice from behind Olivia’s shoulder. She didn’t spin around this time because she knew the voice as well as she knew her own. Instead, she closed her eyes and began wishing aliens would abduct her.
“Ms. Rivera!” the young woman said happily, overjoyed to have this new buffer between her and the crazy woman who possessed her boss.
Natalia smiled at the young housekeeper and said, “I’ll be with you in a minute if that’s okay? I need a moment with Ms. Spencer.”
“No problem!” The woman rushed off down the hallway.
Natalia turned to Olivia. All the anger had faded from her face and was replaced by a remarkably good impression of a deer caught in headlights. “I saw Alan leaving as I was walking in. Are you okay? What did he want?”
Olivia blinked. She hadn’t expected Natalia to come into work today. She really hadn’t expected it. She looked down at the ground, wondering if her legs were giving out or if they were having an earthquake.
“Um. Earth to Olivia?” Natalia said with a tilt of her head.
“He was here because he wanted to talk to me,” Olivia said with an irrational hope it would explain the situation enough to make Natalia go away.
“What did he want to talk about? You looked ready to go on a killing spree when I walked in here.”
Olivia felt her head swimming. Confronting Alan over custody threats already had her feeling like pieces of the world were crumbling around her. The addition of Natalia to the scene was way more than she could handle. The headache that began with Alan’s threats continued ripping through her brain like no headache she’d ever felt before. She gripped the bridge of her nose again.
“I can’t do this right now, Natalia. I have paperwork to do, and you have a frightened employee to deal with. Remind her I’m not a psychopath, will you?” She fled toward her office without waiting for a reply.
Natalia watched her go without protest. She knew this was going to happen. She knew Olivia was going to use every trick in the book to avoid her. She had no intention of letting that happen, but dealing with Olivia was tricky. You couldn’t just get in her face and begin making demands of her. Well, most people couldn’t, anyway. Natalia knew she was one of the few who could actually wear Olivia down to the point of surrender, but she didn’t want to fight with Olivia anymore. What was happening between them wasn’t about fighting until one person gave up and waved a white flag, it was so much bigger than that.
“You’re not getting away that easy, Spencer,” Natalia said under her breath before going off to look for the young housekeeper.
Once in her office, Olivia collapsed into her desk chair. She eyed the large stack of papers on the desk and whined at it. She reluctantly grabbed the top paper and began staring at it. Her eyes glazed over. “Oh God,” she whined and flung the paper down. “I can’t work anymore because I’ve lost my goddamned mind. All the insane people in my life have finally rubbed off on me. See? I’m even talking to myself. I knew this would happen.” She lowered her head onto her desk.
There was a knock at the door. Olivia made a tiny crying noise before burying her face in her hands and saying, “Go away. This office is quarantined due to contagious insanity.”
The door opened to reveal Natalia. Of course. “Olivia? Can I come in? Did you say something?”
“Of course you can come in,” Olivia said, sounding defeated.
“Can we please talk?” Natalia said, sitting down in the chair opposite Olivia’s desk.
“Don’t you think we talked enough yesterday?”
Natalia frowned. “Not even close. However, right now I want to know why Alan was here. I know the man doesn’t come around unless it has something to do with Emma.”
“He just… he said he was looking forward to seeing Emma again.” Olivia started poking into the pile of papers on her desk. She took a few and tried to look like she was organizing them.
“And I guess he came here to ask me if I would let him see her.” Olivia continued to be very interested in her new shuffling-paper past time.
“And that’s it?”
“Okay, Olivia.” Natalia sighed with a bit of frustration. “One, that wouldn’t have made you angry enough to scare an employee to death. Two, I have never known Alan to come to you personally to set up a visit with Emma. Three, I know you’re not telling me everything.”
“How do you know? I answered the question,” Olivia said defensively, dropping the papers on her desk. “You didn’t ask me for a full transcript of the conversation.”
“How do I know? I know because I’ve seen that look a thousand times this year. You get that look every time you want to tell me something but get too scared to spit it out. But okay, we’ll get technical if you want. Olivia, will you please give me a full transcript of the conversation?”
“I’ll send it over with my secretary tomorrow.”
They stared at each other for long moments. Each face held a challenging glare. “Olivia Spencer,” Natalia began slowly, “if you don’t tell me why you were so angry when Alan Spaulding left The Beacon, I am going to pick up that paperweight on your desk and beat the information out of you.”
Olivia blinked and her mouth fell open a little. Natalia watched her with a stony glare that was meant to show Olivia just how serious she was. A picture flashed into Olivia’s head of Natalia standing above her, about to hit her over the head with a crystal turtle paperweight. Unbidden, a giggle formed in her throat. She covered her mouth, trying to keep it in. She failed. Giggles fell out of her mouth until they turned into hearty, uncontrolled laughter.
Natalia leaned back in her chair and laughed a little despite herself. Olivia’s laughter was impossibly infectious to her. “Just what are you laughing at?”
“Just you…” She tried to hold in the laughter so she could speak. “You with the,” she said, pointing to the crystal turtle, “and then with the,” she laughed harder and made the standard motion everyone does when they’re miming Norman Bates from Psycho.
Natalia began laughing at the far-fetched picture of herself. “I would have done it!” she protested and laughed harder.
“I’d pay money to see that,” Olivia said, wiping away a laughter tear.
“Olivia, stop. This is important,” Natalia said with a pout, as she sat up straight in her chair and tried to calm her laughter.
“I know. But you see,” she leaned forward conspiratorially and forced a crazy look into her face, “I’m losing my mind. I have a headache that’s searing through my brain like hot lava, and I simply can’t handle anything anymore.” The laughter and amusement fell from her face abruptly and she sighed.
Natalia looked at her silently for a long moment. She watched as Olivia closed her eyes and placed a fist against her aching head. She looked sad and tired.
“Stand up,” Natalia said suddenly.
“What?” Olivia asked, opening her eyes reluctantly. “Why?”
“No questions. Just do it.”
Olivia shrugged and stood up. She watched with confusion as Natalia walked around the desk toward her. Before she knew what was happening Natalia’s arms were wrapped around her shoulders, hugging her tightly.
“What are you…?”
“Don’t talk. Hug.” Natalia said and squeezed her.
Olivia’s eyes were open so widely from the shock of the hug she was sure they’d fall out.
“Hug me, Olivia,” Natalia demanded in a quiet voice, close to Olivia’s ear.
Olivia’s eyes slid shut and she felt her body tremble as the shock started to fade. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to do anything else, she moved her arms until they were encircling Natalia’s waist. She heard Natalia make an “mmm” noise. The soft, approving sound was all the permission she needed to lay her head on Natalia’s shoulder and melt into the hug.
They stood there for several minutes, not moving, only holding onto each another until they both began to feel tension fade from their muscles. Natalia loosened her grip only when Olivia started to feel like a lazy ragdoll in her arms.
“You don’t know how much I needed that,” Natalia said when she finally let Olivia go.
“I think I might know a little,” Olivia said weakly, trying to remember how to stand without the support of Natalia’s body.
“Sit,” Natalia said, pushing Olivia back into her chair. She then went around the desk, got the other chair, and pulled it around until they were sitting face to face. “Now, are you ready to tell me what happened?”
“You don’t play fair,” Olivia said with resignation.
“Never claimed to,” Natalia said, and reached to move a strand of hair from Olivia’s face.
“Well, okay then. Here it is. He did a lot of his wacked-out babbling first, of course, but the main gist of things was…” Olivia broke off and shook her head. She really didn’t want to tell Natalia about this. She knew exactly what Natalia would want to do. It was the right thing, of course, but she wasn’t sure if she could handle it.
“Whatever it is, we’ll get through it together,” Natalia said, becoming so worried and anxious she could feel her heart beating in her throat. “Just tell me before I have a panic attack over something I don’t even know yet.”
Olivia steeled herself for the rest of the conversation and went on. “He told me I would be wise to keep Philip happy… and if I didn’t he’d sue for custody of Emma.”
Natalia raised her eyebrows, “What keeps Philip happy?” she asked, immediately assuming it was something horrible.
“Emma and I living at the farmhouse,” Olivia said, bracing herself for Natalia’s reaction.
Natalia glanced off to the side and looked annoyed. “That’s it?” Olivia shrugged and nodded. “We just… we just went through all of that because… Olivia! I cannot believe you. Do you really think I wouldn’t want you to move back into the farmhouse?”
“No. I mean, that’s just it. I can’t. You and Frank will be…”
“Oh, God, please help me. Olivia! You frustrating woman. Did you hear nothing I said yesterday? I can’t marry Frank. I wont ever be marrying Frank. Get it? Or do I need to use the paperweight?”
Olivia smiled a little despite herself. “But…”
“But nothing. You’re coming home. Today.” Natalia said firmly and stood up. “I’ll call the movers.”
“Natalia, wait.” Olivia stood up and grabbed Natalia’s arm. “I don’t know if this is such a good idea for us. There’s so much for us to talk about. So much I don’t even begin to understand. I don’t think us being together all the time again is the best for us right now.”
“I think it’s perfect,” Natalia said in a tone that left no room for objection. She wondered if Olivia knew how many times she said “us” during her objection. Oh, there is definitely an us, Olivia Spencer. Like it or not. “I think it’s perfect because it’ll give us all the time we need to figure things out. I’m tired of listening to your arguments and going along with how you think things should be. It’s my turn to make some decisions and this is my first one. You’re coming home.”
Olivia smiled a little. “Well, okay. For now. I know better than fight you when you get that look in your eye.”
Natalia smiled and took her hand. “Come on, let's go home,” she said and led Olivia from her office.