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. And thank you to Kate P., for your help with the Maswik Lodge area (she drew me a map of the cafeteria!), the logistics of this scene, and your friendship.
MASWIK LODGE CAFETERIA, NEAR THE GRAND CANYON
"I need to talk to you," I whisper in your ear. You jump a little and take a long time to turn toward me. When you do, I notice first the dark circles under your eyes, then the almost pleading look in them.
We're finally getting dinner. It's been hours since we grabbed chips and sandwiches at the 7-Eleven in Kayenta where we stopped for gas, and I've spent the last five minutes chastising myself for failing to take care of you and Emma better. Now, looking at the purple smudges beneath your startlingly jade eyes, I remember that you haven't slept in probably, what? Thirty-six hours? Longer?
We should have gotten a room first. I could have called room service and you'd be in bed, resting, which is what you desperately need. But I thought the cafeteria would be cheaper and we only have so much money--
"Right now?" you ask. Your eyes search mine and I see the surprise in them--and the concern.
"Yes," I whisper, trying to keep my voice from carrying. The line is moving fairly quickly and Emma, our fearless leader, is ogling a row of bottles filled with jewel-colored juices. "Emma, you can have cranberry juice if you'd like. Go ahead," I tell her, leaning over your shoulder. It's her favorite and she grins up at me before grabbing a bottle and plopping it on her tray.
I pull back and glance at you but your eyes are closed. A giant wave of guilt and worry crashes over me. You must be exhausted. I wish we weren't here. I wish we were somewhere safe where you could get some sleep. I don't know what I'll do if you get sick. I just don't.
I really don't want to put more stress on you but you have to know what's going on, what I told Emma. And it doesn't look like we'll get a better chance at a private conversation than the one we have right now. Not for a while, anyway. But how do I tell you that we're on our own personal Tolkienesque quest?
The truth shall set you free, I think. Or...it could make you look like a crazy person.
"I told Emma we're on a secret mission to keep a magic ring from a bad man and that she needed to pick a spy name so we could hide from him," I tell you in a rush, as if saying it faster will somehow make it sound less...desperate. "She picked 'Zoe.' Can you remember that?"
Your eyes open slowly and you practically gape at me, but say nothing. I don't know how to read what I see in your features; it seems to be equal parts outrage, disbelief, and pride.
The line moves again and Emma picks French fries and mashed potatoes as her two vegetables. I'm too wired and too overwhelmed to argue the choices, so I let it go. I'll get a salad and give her all the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. She loves them and it'll make me feel better.
I reach for a paper cup for the iced tea I'm planning to get. You grab a cranberry juice like your daughter.
I knew that Emma thought of me that way--that I was her other mommy. God, everyone in Springfield knows Emma thinks of me that way, thanks to Doris Wolfe. But I.... I didn't realize you did. Not like that. Not with that level of...conviction. My heart clenches in my chest almost painfully thinking about how much you trust me and believe in me.... It's so far from where we started with each other. Back then, even before your transplant, we were like two weather fronts colliding and every day we created another violent storm, both of us stubborn, both of us loath to give an inch. Now.... Now we orbit Emma in a nearly perfect dance of give and take. Sometimes I wonder how we got here. Somehow I wonder that we were ever anywhere else.
"A magic ring?" you finally ask, your voice a harsh whisper in my ear. I don't register the question. I can't.
Something-- A--a jolt of electricity just skittered down my spine and...and it had nothing to do with comfort. Suddenly I can feel the heat of your body only inches in front of me and the lightning strike of sensation has left a shower of tingles in its wake. This is not a desire for solace. This is...need.
Oh my God. Is this-- I swallow. Is this what last night was really all about? Am I...attracted to you? My heart sinks. Is that why you wouldn't stay in the bed with me?
Before I can answer these questions, your face swims back into focus. You look worried and your hand on my arm...burns.
"You okay?" you ask uncertainly and I nod, replaying our conversation in my head, desperately trying to find the threads of where we were before...this.
"It was the first thing I could think of," I confess sheepishly. "She wanted to see it, of course. I don't know if you have a ring with you so I told her it was my engagement ring from Gus. I told her you'd given it to him to keep it safe and he gave it to me when we got married."
You snort. "And she bought that?"
I shrug. "I think so. She said it was smart of you to do."
I serve myself salad from the salad bar--heavy on the cucumbers and cherry tomatoes--while trying to keep my hands from trembling. My thoughts are spinning wildly in my head.
Where is this coming from? Is this a...a reaction? To the confusion and the adrenaline and the fear....? I don't know. I don't know what's going on--what's wrong with me. All I know is that it felt so...good.
Suddenly we're at the end of the line and the cashier at the register looks at me expectantly. I apologize and reach into my purse for the money she's asked for. I'm shocked by the prices here. Room service might actually have been cheaper.
There's a condiment station beyond the register area and I herd you and Emma over to it. As you and I divvy up napkins and silverware, Emma drops a tiny, overfilled paper cup of ketchup on the floor, face down.
"Uh oh," she says, looking at the mess she's made.
"I'll get it, honey," I tell her, reaching immediately for extra napkins, looking for any excuse whatsoever to step out of your personal space. Your nearness is making me dizzy.
"I can get this," you say, putting your hand in the small of my back to stop me. "Why don't you and--and Zoe go pick out a table? I'll be right there."
My stomach does a back flip at your touch...and my heart leaps into my throat, making my voice squeak a little as I protest. "No, you go with her. I've got this." I crouch with the napkins, already wiping up the mess. "See? Almost done already."
You look down at me, confusion warring with exhaustion on your face. "Okay...if you're sure."
"I'm sure," I say, waving you away. "I'll be there in a minute."
You gather Emma under your arm like a baby chick and lead her away. "C'mon, Jellybean," you smile. "Let's pick out a good table."
I'm relieved. I need a minute to--to regroup here. I wipe the rest of the ketchup from the floor almost absently, focusing instead on slowing my breathing, wondering how to stop the butterflies in my stomach from careening into each other so much.
Okay...so it's not a fluke. I'm attracted to Olivia. But what does that mean?
I stand with the soiled napkins and am looking for the nearest place to dispose of them when I hear a voice say, "Y'all disgust me, you know? You shouldn't be allowed to be around that child. You shouldn't be allowed to be around good, decent Christian people."
I drop the napkins in the trash, then look around for the source of the comments. I find myself staring into a pair of unfriendly gray-green eyes belonging to an older woman at a table only a few feet away...and realize with a jolt that she's talking to me. She's probably in her fifties or early sixties and her face is pinched with anger, her thin nose flaring as if she's smelled something offensive. Another woman, possibly a younger sister, sits to her left, looking warily between me and the woman who spoke.
"Excuse me?" I say, my voice breathy with panic. My heart jumps again, but this time with fear. Has she recognized us from the Amber Alert?
"You heard me. You and your filthy lifestyle are what's wrong with the world today. You bring Hell and disease with you wherever you go. It's a cryin' shame our government doesn't do somethin' about it--like rounding y'all up into camps or somethin' like that."
"Louanne--" says the other woman urgently. She's blushing, clearly embarrassed, and she glances at me with mortified pale blue eyes.
"No, Arlene," says the older woman, the Southern drawl obvious in her voice. "I got a right to speak my piece. She and her filthy, godless 'family' are offending me. They have no right to shove their lifestyle down our God-fearing throats!"
In a flash, all the panic inside me ignites and I feel a rage like I have never known before sweep through my body. How DARE she?
"I'm sorry," I say tightly, stalking two steps toward her table. My hands clench into fists at my sides. "Do you know me or my family?"
The woman is clearly shocked. Maybe she's used to the objects of her derision skulking away from her in fear; I don't know. All I know is that she picked the wrong damned person to mess with today.
"No," she says, sitting up straighter in her chair, her chin raising in defiance. "I don't have to know you to know that you're a disgrace--"
"You stop right there!" I interrupt. "You have no right to speak about my family that way, do you hear me? No right!" I'm shaking with fury, fighting the urge to wrap my fingers around this woman's throat, squeezing until she begs me to stop. "You don't know the first thing about us. You have no idea what we've been through and how much we've endured to get here today and I don't want to hear one more word out of your mouth." I glare at the woman, fully aware that I'm making a scene and that this is probably a bad idea. But I don't care. No one--no one--has the right to talk about you or Emma that way.
"Christian? Is that what you think you are?" I ask haughtily. "When Christ said 'Love one another as I have loved you,' there were no exceptions! He broke bread with tax collectors, harlots, lepers and Romans. He taught his Disciples love and peace and compassion. Do you think He turned anyone away from the miracle of the loaves and fishes? Do you think He hesitated to save Mary Magdalene from being stoned to death in the street because of what she was? No! Christ wanted us to know God. Period. He died on the cross to redeem us all! Even small-minded, bigoted windbags like yourself." I put my hands on the edge of her table and lean forward, making sure she can see the warning my eyes. "So you remember that the next time you think about 'speaking your piece' to someone you don't know. My family is none of your business. Keep your pathetic bigotry to yourself."
As I stand up and turn away from their table, I see you and Emma about fifty feet away. You're on your feet, ready to come to me, and even from this distance I can see the concern and confusion on your face, the protectiveness in your stance. You're too far away to have heard very much, I hope, and I shake my head at you, trying to tell you it's okay, that I'm coming to you. I grab my tray off the condiment station, my body still shaking with adrenaline and rage, and head in your direction. As I pass a table ten feet beyond the one I was just at, I hear another snatch of conversation. Another older woman, this one with bright white hair, is talking on a cell phone.
"--in one of the cafeterias here at the Grand Canyon and I think those kidnappers are here! You know, the ones who took that little girl from Ohio?"
I whip around to look at the woman and she's staring right at me, her fat husband struggling to stand, a frown etched into his features. I freeze, my eyes going wide.
"Which cafeteria? Well, I don't know. Harvey? Harvey, which cafeteria are we in?" Harvey turns and shrugs, muttering something under his breath. "No, I don't have the map; you have the map. I gave it to you.... Miss, we're trying to find the map right now--"
Oh my GOD!
My tray drops from my suddenly nerveless fingers and I ignore the clatter of the melamine plate and the splash my iced tea makes as it hits the floor. I whirl toward you, one thought pounding through my brain: We've got to get out of here right now!
"What is it?" you say as I reach the table. "Who were those--"
"We don't have time!" I blurt breathlessly. "The old lady recognized us. She's calling the police! We have to get out of here!"
Your face drains of color faster than I ever imagined possible and I grab you by the arms to keep you from collapsing. "Olivia," I whisper harshly, trying not to frighten Emma any more than she already is, "don't! Don't you dare pass out on me right now. I need you. Do you hear me? This time I need you! Stay with me."
"Right," you croak, your dazed eyes finally refocusing on mine. "I'm here."
"Mommy?" asks Emma, her voice on the edge of tears. She's terrified.
"C'mon, Jellybean," I say to her as calmly as I can. "We have to go now, okay? Let's go, sweetheart." I look back at you sharply. "Olivia?"
We hurry toward the door and I look over my shoulder only to see the little old lady pointing in our direction, one of the cashiers standing next to her, frowning.
"Go, go, go!" I say, hurrying you and Emma through the front doors. The setting sun touches the nearby landscape with peach and purple light and instead of finding it beautiful, I find it horrifying. Will I be able to find our way out of the park? Where should we go? Oh my God, are we going to get caught?
God, please! I pray. Help me! I have to keep them safe!
We make it to the parking lot and the van without incident and I help Emma buckle in before I open the driver's side door.
"Where are we going?" you ask as you get into the passenger's seat and fasten your seatbelt. Now I know it's habit and not just something you do to please me. For half a second, I feel like smiling.
I start the van and the GPS unit at the same time and peel out of our parking space before I know what I'm doing.
"Whoa!" you say, bracing yourself on the dashboard.
"Sorry! Sorry!" I look toward the exit, grateful that it's clear. "I'll slow down. I don't want to attract attention--"
"Where are we going, Natalia?" you repeat, cutting through my frenzied babbling.
"I don't know! I don't--" I grab the GPS unit off of its mount and press buttons frantically. "Um...um...Flagstaff! It's the closest city. We can get rid of the van there--"
"Get rid of the van??" Panic rises in your voice. "Are you serious?"
I look at you helplessly. "We have to, Olivia! Even if the people at the cafeteria didn't see which car we got into, there are cameras stationed at all the park entrances. They take photographs of every vehicle that enters or leaves the park! We can't take that chance!"
"What are we going to do after that? Walk?" Your voice is sharp, angry, but I know it's just because you're frightened. I am, too. So very frightened.
I press more buttons on the GPS, trying to keep my eyes on the road as best as I can. "There's...there's a bus station and a train station in Flagstaff. We'll leave the van at the bus station, walk to the train station--it's not that far, and leave town that way. By the time they figure out we're not on one of the buses, it'll be too late. We'll have already gotten off the train, hopefully." I check the likeliest train route out of Flagstaff on the GPS. "Albuquerque is only...six or so hours away. We can stop there, get a hotel room, get some sleep. It's a bigger city. We should be able to disappear there. For a little while at least."
"Mommy?" comes Emma's voice from the back seat. "I'm scared!"
You turn around and reach back for one of Emma's hands. "Me too, baby," you say softly, trying to put on a brave smile for her. "We're gonna be okay, though. Natalia has a plan. She's got everything under control, just like at home." You look at me, your eyes pleading, hopeful.... Terrified.... Trusting.... This is something 'five martinis, don't skimp on the olives' isn't going to fix and yet you still trust me to do it. You're still looking at me as if I really am a 'freakin' superhero.'
I blink back tears.
"That's right, Emma," I say, looking at our little girl in the rear view mirror. I flash her a smile I don't feel and pray she doesn't see right through it. "I've got everything under control. Don't I always know where your backpack is when you can't find it?" She nods warily. "This is a little like that." I sigh, knowing deep down that what I'm doing isn't enough. "I know you're scared, sweetie," I whisper. "I wish I could do more."
You look at me, alarmed. Before I can apologize, though, something else crosses your features, lighting the dread in your eyes for a moment and easing the worried lines around them and your mouth like a soft breeze through leaves.
You reach into your bag and pull out the pre-paid cell again.
"Who are you calling now?" I ask as you dial. I grit my teeth waiting for the answer, realizing--with shock--that I'm hoping with every fiber of my being it isn't Dinah.
What on Earth? Is this the stress talking or....? Maybe it's because you still have friends willing to sacrifice for you, I think sadly. The man I thought I trusted betrayed you, betrayed us.
You grin. You actually grin and the sight of it uncoils the barbed wire around my heart instantly.
"We need help, Natalia. And there's only one person on this entire freakin' planet who I trust as much as I trust you." I hear the tinny sound of the other line ringing and when it's picked up, your excitement fades a little. "Voice mail," you explain, frowning.
I hear the faint beep as the voice mail begins recording.
"Sam," you say. "It's Olivia. Call me back at this number when you get this message. It's urgent. I...we need your help, little brother. Call soon."
You snap the phone shut triumphantly and give me a little wink.
I smile back at you, ignoring the blush rising in my cheeks.
Now who's the 'freakin' superhero?' I think, awash with pride. That thought is followed by another, less comfortable one. And why do I suddenly have this overwhelming urge to kiss you?
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