Fandom: Guiding Light
Archival: P&P, Kimly, and AUSXIP of course. Everyone else, please ask.
Summary: Phillip Spaulding has returned to Springfield with a vengeance. Olivia Spencer, afraid that Phillip will take their daughter Emma from her again, flees Springfield with the help of her assistant, Natalia Rivera. Can they stay one step ahead of Phillip? Will they ever be safe again?
Content Disclaimer: This is an AU story--based on a drabble I posted in February--that splits off from the "I can trust you with my life!" scene on 2/16/09. All canon after that does not exist in this story. Also, the Phillip Spaulding that returns in this story is still bat-shit crazy and evil. Graphic depictions of love between two consenting adult women are contained within, obviously, but not for a while.
Source Disclaimer: I do not own Guiding Light or the characters therein depicted. I do not seek to profit from this story.
A/N: I tried to remain as close to character as humanly possible but as I have only seen YouTube clips of Otalia and no full episodes, I cannot guarantee the results.
Style Note: As some of you have noticed, I am switching POVs for every chapter. Natalia, Olivia and Emma will tell their stories in their own words, first-person present tense. Any other exposition needed will happen in third-person past-tense. This will cover the urgency I need and will also allow for omniscience for exposition with multiple characters. I am very interested in knowing whether this style works how I have intended it, so let me know.
Thank You: To mightbefound and bldy_destini for beta-ing this story. Thank you also to Tiff for helping me to figure out the major plot problems I'd been having and for being on call when I forget them and need to review. ;) Thank you to djshiva for your comments and general enthusiasm for this story.
US-191 SOUTH, SOMEWHERE NORTH OF MOAB, UT
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill.
I've been repeating those words since we left Grand Junction, but they aren't making me feel any less homicidal. However, they're just repetitive enough, just familiar enough to help me keep it together while I drive. I have the cruise control set at a safe speed and I'm dividing my attention between the road (and any possible police presence) and you.
You're surprisingly calm. After seeing you.... Holy Mother of God, you frightened me to death this morning! I've seen you many ways before. I've seen you angry, outraged, livid.... I've seen you exhausted, weak, afraid.... I've seen you tender, gentle, compassionate.... I've seen you strong, unyielding, relentless.... But I have never seen you catatonic! You wouldn't respond to my voice, to your own name! Do you have any idea what that did to me? How badly you frightened me?
So I'm watching you whether you want me to or not, okay? Okay.
I glance in the backseat, relieved to see that Emma's dozing. It's so quiet in here, it doesn't surprise me. What surprises me? That you're still awake. You didn't sleep last night; I know you didn't.
I want to know why you got out of the bed, why the simple act of holding me was somehow beyond your.... No, I won't cry. Not now. Just...just please, please don't hate me for what I did. It won't happen again, I promise. Just please, don't let this be some...weird thing between us. I don't want to lose your friendship because of a moment of weakness on my part. I just couldn't....
God, why is this happening?
I rub my forehead, hoping to stave off another migraine before it starts. It's not looking good.
Why now, God? Why did he have to come back? Why couldn't he just stay dead?
Damn you, Phillip Spaulding!
He did this! You know he did! He has to be the one behind this Amber Alert, right? Frank would never have....
But he did, didn't he? He had to go along with it--unless Phillip bypassed Springfield PD completely and went to the FBI. But the news report didn't say anything about the FBI. It just said for people to contact their local police departments. Which means Springfield PD is involved...which means so is Frank.
But why? Why would he do that? Why would he agree to something like this knowing how dangerous Phillip is? He arrested Phillip, for crying out loud! For kidnapping! Why would he then turn around and basically accuse us of the same thing?
Oh, no. No, no, no. A sickening thought occurs to me. It's because of me, isn't it? Oh God, he's not thinking about you and Emma; he's thinking about me! Because of what he believes we have! He and I were going away and then Phillip came back and--and--
And I had forgotten all about that! Oh my God, he and I were going to go away for the weekend and I forgot all about it! I haven't thought of Frank as anything other than a police officer since the day I left Springfield. Even before that, if I'm honest. I didn't even leave him a note! I told exactly two people where I was going: Jeffrey, because he needed to know about The Beacon and what I had done with it; and Rafe, my baby, who needed to know why I couldn't be there for him right now. It never occurred to me to tell Frank anything.
And that answers that question, doesn't it? I should trust the man I'm dating, no matter what. I should have been able to go to him about this, knowing that he would support me. But I didn't because somewhere inside, I knew he wouldn't support this. He would have tried to stop me. And because I didn't give him that opportunity, now he's helping the man that kidnapped Emma--
Rage rushes over me like a hot wave and I feel the electric tingle of it raise the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck.
How dare he? How dare he put you and Emma in danger? How dare he call you a kidnapper--at Phillip Spaulding's behest, no less!--just to get me back?
Phillip's driving this, I'm sure. He's the one who's made our lives crazy and uncertain, who made me open those places in my past that I thought I'd buried forever, who made me make a fool of myself in the name of comfort. But Frank helped! He sold you out to Phillip to get me back! If I lose your friendship over...what happened last night, I'll never forgive myself. But if you or Emma are hurt in any way because of this Amber Alert, I'll never forgive Frank. Or Phillip, for that matter. But Phillip--we knew he would be a problem. It's why we left in the first place.
Frank should have known better.
I return to the once-comforting litany I've been repeating all morning except now I'm thinking about two people instead of one.
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill.
It's still not helping the way it should, but I'm too damned angry to care.
"Mommy?" Emma's sleepy voice cuts through the silence of the van like a siren and my attention focuses on her like a search beam. You turn to her and I look up in the rear view mirror. We both answer.
"What is it, honey?"
She doesn't acknowledge my mistake and your response is only to glance at me with tired, grateful eyes. My insides unclench a little. Maybe we're still okay.
"I'm hungry," she says plaintively and I look at the clock on the dashboard, realizing that we've been on the road for over an hour now and that none of us have eaten. We left the pastries untouched on the coffee table in the hotel when we fled this morning.
The GPS says we're a couple of miles from Moab, Utah and...and I mutter "We'll stop at the next town." Emma is placated and you nod, turning again to gaze out your window at the miles upon miles of low, gray skies hanging over rocks rusty red like old blood.
I, however, am nearly paralyzed with awe.
This is so not subtle. This is literally Biblical in proportion and I can feel Nicky's hand in it as surely as I feel God's will.
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Ruth. The Moabite.
I look at you and realize a choice has been made. A choice that I wasn't even aware had to be made, but that I made anyway, two weeks ago, when Phillip Spaulding came back to town and you took Emma and ran. A choice I've been making--and defending to you--every day since. This is where I'm meant to be. Right here, with you, with Emma. There can be no doubt of that now.
I wondered, you know. After I signed the papers to give Nicky's heart to you, I wondered if the signs I believed were telling me to do that were really there, if maybe I wasn't a little bit crazy with grief and loss and a colossal feeling of unfairness. So crazy that maybe I had made it all up and I wondered for a long time whether I had done the right thing. I sat there in that hospital, waiting to see if you would live, wondering the whole time what I was doing there, why whether you lived or died mattered to me at all. Nicky was gone. How could anything matter after that?
Then when it seemed like you would die anyway, believing yourself unworthy of Nicky's heart and the second chance it gave you, it was as if all the confusion and second-guessing just fell away, leaving me with a purpose: to make you live again.
Now, here I am again, seeing signs too obvious to ignore, actual road signs saying "Moab 3 miles" and there's no uncertainty, no second-guessing. Wherever this leads me, leads us, I will go there.
Frank was a distraction and I can't afford distractions in my life anymore. You and Emma are my family and you need me. Period.
Feeling somehow more solid, more grounded than I have in days, I pull the van off the highway at Moab and follow signs to a McDonald's. If you were actively paying any attention to where we're going, you'd probably raise an eyebrow at me, but the billboard advertising this den of culinary iniquity showed a play area and I'm willing to sacrifice good nutrition for the opportunity to talk to you without Emma overhearing just this once. So my decision has been made.
You can argue with me when we get there if you want.
When I park the van, neither you nor Emma believe what you see and I have to prod you both to open your doors.
"Who are you and what have you done with Natalia Rivera?" you ask gravely and I would laugh if all of this weren't so serious.
"It's a vacation, you guys!" I say, forcing the sound of excitement into my voice. "We can have a little fast food here and there, right? Besides, I don't think there's too much else to choose from around here, so we'll just have to make do."
Emma is the first to recover and she cheers before sliding the van door open, heading happily into the red and yellow monstrosity. You and I follow after, far enough behind that she can't hear us.
"I thought the play area would give us a chance to talk," I say softly. "But we'll have to keep our voices down and watch the other customers inside. If it looks like anyone is paying too much attention to us, tell me, okay?"
You stop for a minute outside the door and look at me helplessly.
"I don't know if I can--" you begin and I grab one of your hands and squeeze it tightly before quickly letting it go.
"You can, Olivia. You're the strongest person I know and you can do this. I promise. Okay?"
You look at me for a long moment, your eyes uncertain, unreadable, and then you finally nod. We enter the sleepy fast food joint and walk up behind Emma in line. There aren't too many people inside and for that I'm grateful. If I light a thousand votive candles when we get back to Springfield, I'm sure it won't be enough to thank God for our continued good fortune.
At least I hope it continues.
I look up at the menu board and as my eyes scan it for something suitable to order, I become more and more nauseated. People willingly put these things into their mouths? Their stomachs?
"Okay, you two need to go pick out a table," I say in my best no-nonsense voice. "I'll order."
Emma is the first to understand. "Awww...."
"What's wrong?" you ask and then you look at my face. "Oh. Damn." You look hopefully at the menu one last time. "Can we at least have some hashbrowns?"
I shoo you off toward the tables--there are dozens to choose from--and say, "We'll see."
"Double damn," you curse and I want to laugh and cry at the same time because this is just so normal in a time when everything else...is not. You take Emma's hand and lead her away, debating the relative merits of sitting near the windows versus sitting near the entrance to the play area. Not surprisingly, she's taken the play area's side.
When I find you five minutes later, you've compromised and have chosen a table tucked into the corner behind the low dividing wall separating the dining room from the ordering counter. It's near the play area and an exit and it looks out over the parking lot where we've parked the van. It allows us an excellent view of the entire restaurant while keeping us partially hidden from prying eyes. I couldn't have done better myself and I raise an approving eyebrow at the choice. I should have known that brilliant mind of yours would begin adapting to our changing circumstances eventually. We may just get through this after all.
I slide the tray I'm carrying onto the table and begin setting food in front of the two of you. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, and fruit cups for all three of us; orange juice for Emma, coffee for the two of us; and one order of hashbrowns--to share.
"Fruit?" you ask incredulously. "Is that even on the menu?" You turn to look over your shoulder.
"It is for me," I reply. "Now eat. It's late and--" I look at your left hand as you lift your cup to take a sip of coffee. "What's that?"
You stop dead, your eyes wide. "What's what?"
"That! On your hand!" It's angry and red against your cream-colored skin and it's at least three inches long. "Is that from this morning?"
You set your cup down and cover the burn with your other hand. "It's okay," you mutter. "Hardly even hurts."
I narrow my eyes at you. "I'll be right back," I tell you and I march out to the van, open the back, and rummage through our bags until I find the one I want. I retrieve the first aid kit out of my smaller bag then return to the restaurant. I must have taken longer than I realized because Emma's place is empty.
"Emma's playing. The pancakes didn't pass muster," you say, noticing me eying Emma's half-eaten breakfast. "No zest. I told her you'd have a word with the chef."
I smirk at you, plopping the first aid kit on the table before I reclaim my seat.
"You and I have a date with this first aid kit when we're done eating," I announce. You look a little flustered, so I add, "You know skin breakdowns can lead to serious infections--which you can't afford. Plus, it could leave a scar."
"I have others," you say sardonically.
"That one--" I say, indicating the one running the length of your torso, "--was necessary to save your life. This one is Phillip's fault and I'll be damned if I let him leave that kind of permanent mark on you." I look up into your stunned eyes. "And before you say anything, I'm suspending the language prohibition--unless Emma's nearby--for the time being. Considering the day we're having, I don't think God will mind a few...choice words. And if He does, I don't know, I'll--I'll do an extra long penance or something." I shrug.
"I'll help," you offer wryly. "What's that you always say? Thinking's as bad as doing? If that's true, I'm goin' straight to Hell when I die. Do not pass go, do not collect halo and wings. I've been wanting to murder Phillip since we got in the van."
"Me too," I admit, only slightly reluctantly. "Him and Frank."
You blink. "Frank? Why Frank?"
At first I think you're joking but one look in your curious and concerned grass-green eyes shows me that you're honestly confused. "Well, Phillip can't help himself, really, can he? He was raised by Alan and that's bound to make anyone crazy. Remember, I lived there--"
"So did I," you say sourly, your opinion of the Spaulding mansion written all over your face.
"Right. So...Phillip's crazy. He's bound to act on that. But Frank? Frank helped him with the...you know." I look around at our fellow diners but no one's paying us the slightest bit of attention. I glance at Emma and she's enjoying probably her eightieth trip down the twisty slide. All's well for the time being. "Frank isn't crazy," I continue, looking back to you. "In fact, he's as plodding as they come. At least, that's...what I thought."
You cover your mouth with one hand, hoping to disguise your aborted laugh. "'Plodding?'" you repeat but your voice sounds...strained.
I wince. "Was it nicer than 'boring'? I was trying to be nice."
You shake your head. "Not by a long shot. Anyway, you were saying? That's what you thought?"
I feel the anger seep beneath my skin again and my blood heats, rippling like oil in a white-hot skillet. "Yeah, that's what I thought until this morning when he...when he basically used you and Emma as bait. To get me to come back."
I see the denial perch on your lips and then I see realization and understanding eclipse it. "No offense, but I'm gonna kill your boyfriend when I see him next," you snarl.
I shrug again. "None taken," I say indifferently. "And he's not...he's not my boyfriend. Not anymore." I think about that for a minute then amend, "Actually...he never really was. Not really." I don't know why, but it's important to me that you know that.
My declaration pulls you up short. "But you were going away with him for the weekend!"
I look away from you. "That...was a really bad idea. I don't even know why-- I thought it would...help?"
I look back at you and there it is: a fleeting look of disgust and...something else, washed in celadon. Until you see me looking and it goes away. Again. I swear, some day I'm going to ask you what that's all about. But today we have bigger things to deal with.
I take a sip of coffee, finish my fruit cup, and pull the first aid kit over in front of me.
"Hand," I order and surprisingly you give me your left hand without protest or hesitation. You're not even looking at me; you're staring out the window, lost in thought. Taking advantage of your distraction, I open the little packet of triple antibiotic ointment and dab some on the angriest, reddest part of your burn, spreading it carefully with the edge of an unused napkin. I'm worried it'll sting but if it does, you don't seem to notice.
"So Phillip's batshit crazy and Frank isn't and for some reason they're working together--"
"Different agendas," I remind you, pulling out a sterile gauze 2x2, a roll of bandage tape, and two foil packets containing alcohol wipes. I open those first, using both wipes to sterilize my fingers as best as I can. I realize that performing sterile procedures in a Utah McDonald's might be asking too much, but every little bit counts.
"Right. But...but what about Dinah? Why is she helping them?" Your consternation crowds your eyes and they darken with the coming storm.
"Aren't she and Phillip related to each other?" I pull four even strips of tape from the roll and affix them to the edge of the table. Then I lift your hand in mine, cradling it as I lay the gauze square over your burn. I try to distract you from any pain I'm causing by stroking your wrist while I press the edges of the gauze down as gently as I can, wanting to cover it completely but also wanting air to circulate. Burns are always tricky to dress.
"Well, that can wait," I tell you, plucking one of the strips of bandage tape off the table and running it down the edge of the gauze. I smooth it with my fingers and look up into your suddenly piercing eyes. You stare at me for half a second before smiling another heartbreaking self-deprecating smile, the intensity of your eyes guttering out like a candle running out of wick.
"No, it really can't," you say, attempting to tug your hand away. I retrieve another strip of tape and tighten my grip on your wrist, wondering what's gotten into you. You've never minded my help before and I used to change the dressings over your surgery incisions. I hope this isn't about my...indiscretion last night.
"Yes, it can, Olivia," I disagree, my voice low and unsteady. I clear my throat and place the tape I'm holding parallel to the last piece, smoothing it into place the same way. "Stop being such a baby," I chide.
Your hand begins to writhe in my grip and my first instinct is to tighten my hold even more--which causes you to wrench your hand away from me almost violently.
"No, it can't!" you hiss, your eyes nearly panicked. "Nothing can wait anymore! What are we doing here? We should go--"
"Keep your voice down!" I hiss back, looking over at the elderly couple sitting closest to us. They are paying more attention to their paltry breakfasts, a weekly treat that they probably scrimp and save for, than they are to us. "We'll go in a few minutes but we need to talk--"
"Talk? We need to disappear! We need to fall off the face of--"
You obey the order instantly, but your eyes.... You're on a ledge somewhere in your head and I don't have any idea how you got there or why! And now it's up to me to talk you down....
Great. How am I supposed to do that? You're Olivia Freakin' Spencer--emphasis on the freakin' at the moment. I'm just your....
I feel a smile begin but I quickly clamp down on it.
I'm your assistant.
If I'm any good at my job--and I am--I'll be able to talk you down from any ledge, anywhere. I just have to treat this one like a business problem.
"First--before we go any further with this conversation--I have to know one thing: do you trust me?"
You sigh. "We've already--"
"Answer the question." I snap, not in the mood for your usual evasions. "Do you trust me?"
"Yes." Your eyes hold mine and I see caution there...and a tint of grudging respect. I'll build on both, thank you very much. Either is better than panic.
"Good. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time for us to regroup. We can make the plan work but--"
"The plan?" you ask, clearly incredulous. "You still want to go to the Grand Canyon? To other tourist attractions?" You shake your head angrily. "I don't know if you noticed this, but we made the national news this morning--"
"No, not to other landmarks. I agree that would be too dangerous. But we should still go to the Grand Canyon...unless you're ready to explain what's going on to Emma and I don't think you are." I raise an eyebrow at you. "Are you?"
You shake your head again, this time with a single, efficient motion. "No," you say and your mouth has become a thin, determined line. "But what about that state trooper in Colorado? If he's seen the...you know...he might have put two and two together by now. He knows where we were--"
"I thought of that. I did. And I think we can get around it."
"It's time for Emma to pick her spy name," I admit. "Changing our names might be enough to get us through one day at the Canyon. We'll have to be really careful--"
"Ya think?" Your sarcasm cuts but I ignore it.
"--careful and aware of our surroundings. Maybe she'll get bored and we can leave right after lunch...or something...."
"And go where?" you demand.
I frown. This is the hard part, the part I don't know. Where can we go? Where can we go where won't we be recognized? We've both been branded kidnappers now. We're both guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of society--and being proven innocent might not help us all that much, come to think of it. Why is it so easy to believe the worst of people and so hard to believe the best, even when witness to it?
"You don't have any idea, do you?" you accuse, your voice cold.
You open your purse and grab the pre-paid cell I gave you in Omaha. You open it and begin pressing buttons. I'm completely aghast.
"Who are you calling?" I ask, my voice an unflattering squeak.
"I'm sick of flying in the dark," you say, putting the phone up to your ear. "It's time to start knocking heads--"
"Dinah," you announce. "I'm calling Dinah." Your mouth twists into a grotesque parody of a smile.
"And if she has any sense whatsoever, she'll put me through to voice mail. Because come Hell or high water, I'm going to get some fucking answers."
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