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.
Olivia Spencer was in pain. Her leg ached and itched under the cast, her arm throbbed, her head was usually thumping and she needed to go to the bathroom almost constantly because Natalia was making her drink a ton of water. She was also really cold all the time except, of course, for the times when she broke out in terrible sweats that nothing would quite relieve. She was often alone and often bored, unable to concentrate on her books or the TV or a movie someone had left on. All in all she should have been having a frustrating time but she noticed none of it because Natalia was there.
Natalia was there when she woke up in the morning, lying beside her peacefully, her lips slightly parted, breathing slow and deep. Natalia was there when she lost interest in her book or TV show around midday and needed a new distraction, bringing her carefully thought out, balanced meals, specially selected for their nutritional properties. Natalia was there when she fell asleep, usually talking softly and rhythmically about some event from their shared past which Olivia had forgotten. Her memory was still an unfinished painting, but she felt that some of the colours were coming through now; filled in by Natalia's patient brushstrokes in the quiet hours between Emma's bedtime and sleep. Some of them she'd even remembered for herself - the piece of skirting she'd spent way too much money and time tracking down at Christmas, and the look of joy on Natalia's face that had made it all worthwhile. She hadn't told Natalia that one yet. She was saving it for that night in bed, because when she surprised Natalia in bed she always got a hug.
And, she'd come to discover, there weren't many things she wouldn't do for one of Natalia's hugs.
That scared her a little, but less than it had. The familiarity of it had gradually seeped under her skin, chasing the fear away and leaving warmth and contentment in its place. She felt right when Natalia was in her arms. She felt empty when she was gone.
But even when she was gone from the farmhouse physically she was present in spirit. In the fresh fruit salad she left by Olivia's bed every morning, in the flowers on the mantle, in the notes Olivia sometimes found tucked under her pillow - simple things like 'Call me if you get bored' or 'Work's so dull without you'. Olivia had kept all of them folded carefully between the pages of the Stephen King book Emma had picked out for her - a temporary home until she could find somewhere permanent. Sometimes she'd take them out and read them over again and again...if she concentrated hard enough she believed she could almost smell the scent of Natalia's skin lingering on the paper...
"So, you're getting on with Natalia then," Jeffrey said, looking at her with an amused smirk.
Olivia stopped mid sentence. "What?"
Jeffrey shrugged. "You haven't stopped talking about her since I came in," he explained blandly. "I thought I was here to see how you're feeling, not to get a personal performance of the Natalia Rivera is Wonderful show."
Olivia's lips tautened into a severe line. "I talked about other things," she protested, but even she didn't believe it was true.
Jeffrey raised his eyebrow. "Natalia's such a good cook!" he sing-songed, trying to imitate her voice. "Natalia's so good with Emma! Natalia's been helping me get my memory back! Natalia's looking after me so well!"
Olivia flushed darkly. "God, you're annoying," she muttered, sinking back against her pillows.
"And you," he replied, leaning forward. "Are smitten."
Olivia's face went from red to white so quickly it was almost comical. "What?"
Jeffrey leaned back again, a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "You heard me."
A silence stretched between them. "I don't know what you're talking about," Olivia lied. This feeling, whatever it was, whatever the reason she was having it, she wanted to enjoy it a little longer. She wanted to just bask in it for a while without naming it, because if it was named she'd have to face it and-
"You're falling for her," Jeffrey said, interrupting her inner monologue.
So much for that, Olivia's mind remarked acidly.
"I really wish you hadn't said that," she said quietly.
Jeffrey regarded her steadily for a moment. "I know you, Olivia," he said at last. "I know you don't like losing control."
"Yeah, I wonder how I developed that little hangup," she replied instantly, shooting him a look filled with a kind of anger he hadn't seen for a long time.
"I know," he said softly. "I know exactly how I...damaged you." He looked at the floor, a familiar shame washing over him like a wave.
Olivia covered her eyes with her hand. "What does any of this have to do with Natalia?" she asked.
Jeffrey looked up. "Just that...when you love someone," he began, "you do give them power. Power to hurt you. But power to heal you too."
Olivia shook her head. "I don't need to be healed."
Jeffrey smiled gently. "Really."
Silence stretched between them for a long moment before Olivia looked away and forced a laugh. "This is ridiculous," she muttered. "Me and Natalia? She's just so...and I'm..."
"What? What is she?"
Olivia closed her eyes. "She's good," she said at last. "She's decent, she's kind, she's warm, she's b-beautiful-" her breath caught as she stumbled over the last word, and suddenly remembered saying all of that before, to someone else she couldn't quite place.
Jeffrey took her hand in his. "And what are you?" he asked softly.
Olivia opened her eyes, a look of infinite sadness passing over her face like a cloud. "I'm Olivia freakin' Spencer," she said, in the same tone as she might have said 'serial killer'. "I'm toxic. I destroy everything I touch. I disappoint the people I love. I hurt them. I'm not a good person, and it doesn't matter how hard I try to change. It'll never happen...because of me...the way I am..."
For a moment Jeffrey didn't know what to say. "Olivia," he murmured at last. "You don't honestly believe all that, do you?" Olivia looked away and didn't answer. Jeffrey pressed. "Olivia?" When she didn't answer he squeezed her hand. "You're wrong," he said sharply.
"Am I?" She sounded weary, defeated.
"Yes!" Jeffrey leaned forward. "You're good Olivia. And do you know how I know? Because you forgave me."
Olivia shook her head. "It was my fault-" she began, but Jeffrey cut her off.
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I know what I did. I know. Don't!" he warned, holding up his hand to stop her from interrupting. "What happened was not in any way your fault. It was mine. No one forced me. I forced you."
For a long moment neither of them could speak. Twenty-three years worth of pain, shame and guilt sat between them like a living thing.
"I-" Olivia began, breathing hard through sudden tears. "I...I don't-"
"Sssh," Jeffrey hushed her. "You don't have to say anything. But you need to know...there are very, very few people in this world who could forgive me for what I did. You are one of those rare, special people. And that's how I know you're good, Olivia. Because you sacrificed your righteous anger to ease my shame." He looked away. "You do that a lot," he murmured.
"What?" Olivia asked, her voice husky with tears.
"Sacrifice yourself," he replied. "You think you're a bad person? What kind of person is willing to give up everything that could make them happy for the sake of someone they love?" He squeezed her hand tightly. "That's what you've done. I know you don't remember." He looked up. "But if you don't believe me, you can ask Natalia."
"Ask me what?"
Two sets of eyes swung round to the smiling woman who'd just walked in. But as soon as she saw Olivia's face Natalia's smile faded. "What's wrong?"
Olivia wiped at her eyes harshly with the heel of her hand. "Jeffrey and I are reminiscing," she answered vaguely.
Jeffrey leaned back in his chair. "Actually, I was just going," he said. "Think about what I said, Olivia." Then, with a quick press of his lips to her forehead, he was gone. Natalia took his place in the chair by her bed.
"What's going on?" she asked, a frown creasing her brow.
Olivia stared at her, seeing for the first time the warmth, affection and...yes...love in Natalia's eyes. She didn't know why, didn't know what she could have possibly done to deserve this but there was one thing of which she was absolutely sure.
Natalia was her salvation.
She just couldn't shake the feeling that she, Olivia, was a curse.
A/N - kissmychakram asked to have the angst back. Here you go doll ;-)