FANDOM: Guiding Light
RATING: PG for this part
SUMMARY: Natalia needs to make a choice between her past and her future.
TIMELINE: Begins immediately after the episode on the 12th of May and goes off into its own little world at that point.
DEDICATION: This is dedicated to the memory of badtyler, a great writer and an even better friend.
"Oh my God..."
Those three simple words could mean many things and, in the quiet moments between action and consequence, they meant a great deal to Natalia. First there was "Oh my God, that felt really good." That was the first reaction, but it didn't last long. She went from pleasure to embarrassment to shame quicker than a Ferrari goes from nought to sixty and the final "Oh my God" that slipped from her lips was pure "Oh my God, what have I done?"
The power to say anything but those three words seemed to have left Natalia. She muttered them over and over as the red mist of anger-fuelled arousal gradually receded.
Olivia tensed beneath her, obviously sensing her abrupt change in mood. "Don't freak out," she said, but it was much, much too late for that.
Natalia raised her head. "I'm not," she lied, scrambling away from Olivia's touch like a skittish rabbit. "I just...I don't know what just happened."
Olivia attempted a smile. "I thought you said you weren't naïve," she said.
Natalia groaned, dropping her head into her hands. "Oh my God," she said again, and there was no mistaking the horror in her voice.
"Hey, this was your idea," Olivia said. She sounded like she was beginning to panic. "I didn't expect that. I didn't ask for it."
Natalia shook her head. "I didn't expect it either," she said. "I don't know what...oh my God."
"Look, can we just leave God out of this?" Olivia said as she self-consciously pulled her shirt closed and covered her legs with a sheet.
Natalia looked up. There was a bleak sadness in her eyes. "I don't know what came over me," she muttered. "I...I don't do things like that. I don't talk like that. That's not me."
Olivia seemed to get smaller as she crossed her arms defensively over her chest and hunched her shoulders. "You got a little carried away," she said. "It's nothing to be ashamed of."
"But it is!" Natalia insisted. "Making love is supposed to be beautiful and pure and...and holy. What we just did was...was..." She trailed off, unable to find the words.
"That wasn't making love, Natalia," Olivia said, a little sharply. "That was sex."
Natalia's jaw hardened. "It was vulgar," she said. "I was vulgar. It was cheap and sordid and-"
"Sinful?" Olivia ventured.
"Yes!" Natalia replied, without thinking.
For half a second there was no reaction, but then hot tears sprung to Olivia's eyes. "I knew it," she muttered bitterly. "I knew it."
Natalia scraped her hands through her hair. "You don't understand," she said.
"I understand fine," Olivia replied, wiping at her eyes with shaking fingers. "I understand that you've been sending me the mother of all mixed signals for months. I understand that I never asked you for anything. I understand that you were the one who pushed for this horrible sin we've apparently just committed."
Natalia ground her teeth, clenching and unclenching her fists rhythmically. "I don't even know who I am anymore," she snapped. Weeks, months, perhaps even years of uncertainty bubbled up inside her, threatening to spill over. "I look in the mirror and I don't recognise myself. This doesn't happen in my world. I'm not the kind of woman who loses herself in...in lust." The last word came out as a hiss.
Blood rushed to her cheeks as she recalled how wanton, how carnal she had been. The things she'd done, the things she'd said...she doubted she'd ever even used that word before. She couldn't bring herself to repeat it even in her thoughts. She had been so angry with Olivia, so filled with rage and jealousy and heat, it was like someone else had taken over her body. A stranger with her face.
"For crying out loud Natalia, you've been with men!" Olivia exclaimed. "Haven't you ever just got caught up in the heat of the moment?"
"No!" Natalia replied, shaking her head firmly.
"Sounds like you've been having some pretty lousy sex then," Olivia snorted.
"Yeah, well you're the expert on that," Natalia replied, and regretted it instantly.
Olivia's nostrils flared. "Yeah, yeah, Olivia Spencer the town whore. I'm so sorry I corrupted you, oh sweet innocent practically virginal one."
Natalia let out a little squeal of frustration. "I didn't mean that. Don't put words in my mouth!"
Olivia rolled her eyes and moved back, further away from Natalia. "I'm not. No-one's putting words in your mouth. There isn't some magical force writing a script for you and making you say things you don't mean."
Natalia shook her head and tears nipped behind her eyes. "I know," she murmured. "I know. It's just...look, I've never felt anything even remotely like that before. I've never even..." she trailed off, blushing hard.
"Never what?" Olivia leaned forward a little, intrigued in spite of herself.
Natalia couldn't look at her. "I've never...you know." She made a meaningless gesture with her hands.
"No, I don't know," Olivia insisted, but there was a wicked gleam in her eye.
Natalia sighed. "Don't make me say it," she pleaded.
Olivia relented. "You've never...had an orgasm?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Is that what you're trying to say?"
Natalia whimpered. "Don't make fun of me," she muttered.
Olivia shook her head. "I'm not," she said. "That's...not even remotely funny. That's tragic."
Natalia flushed. "Don't be dramatic." Her voice was hard. "A child starving to death is a tragedy. My failure to have a...an-"
"Orgasm," Olivia interjected helpfully.
"-is not a tragedy," Natalia finished, flashing Olivia a withering glance.
Olivia shook her head. "You're wrong. Maybe if you'd had better sex in the past I wouldn't be sitting here with a thirty three year old woman who can't handle the fact that she just enjoyed herself!"
Natalia looked away. She spotted her pants in a heap on the floor and suddenly realised she was still half naked. With a groan of profound embarrassment she reached for them, desperate to be covered up again. "You make me so angry," she muttered.
Olivia raised an eyebrow. "You're not going to jump me again, are you?"
Natalia barked out a short, humourless laugh. "Uh, no," she said, hastily pulling up and fastening her slacks. She froze when she felt Olivia's hand covering hers.
"Natalia," Olivia murmured softly. "Look...you're a passionate woman. You put all of yourself into everything you do. So maybe there are some parts of you buried really deep down that you didn't know were there? It doesn't mean you've changed. You're still the same woman. You're still the woman I love."
She turned her head slowly to meet the other woman's steady gaze. "Am I?" she asked. "I don't feel like the same woman. I don't feel like myself at all."
Olivia's eyes were sad. "You'll feel like that for a while," she said. "Change is...well, scary. I didn't react so well the first time you popped into my head while I was-"
"Ah, don't!" Natalia interrupted, clamping her hands over her ears.
Olivia's head drooped. She took a deep breath. "Look...if you can't handle this, being in this kind of relationship with all that it means, I need to know. I can't do this with you if it's going to make you feel like you're dirty or sinful. You deserve better than that."
Natalia hesitated briefly and then gently took Olivia's hand. "So do you," she said.
Olivia bit her lip, tears swimming in her eyes. "So...what does this mean? What happens now?"
Natalia took a deep, shuddering breath. "I don't know," she admitted. "I know that this was a mistake. We shouldn't have done this. Not now, anyway. I know that this whole...everything with you is drawing out bits of me I never even imagined could exist. I don't know if I like those parts of me. I don't know if I should be embracing them or running from them. I just...don't know anything anymore."
Silent tears streamed down Olivia's cheeks. "You've been feeling like this for a long time, haven't you?" she asked. "This isn't just about today."
Natalia shook her head. "No," she sighed. "When we came back from the spa I just felt so lost. I felt like everyone was looking at me, like I'd grown two heads or something. And I guess I have. There's another Natalia living inside me, and I don't know which one of us is real." She glanced up at Olivia's stricken face. "I'm sorry," she whimpered. "I should have told you. I shouldn't have hidden all this from you. I never wanted to hurt you, Olivia."
Olivia managed a tight smile. "You haven't," she said, but the lie was practically a solid object in the space between them.
"I have," she replied, refusing to allow Olivia to let her off the hook. "I'm sorry." She shrugged with one shoulder, hating the inadequacy of the words. "I do love you," she whispered.
"Love might not be enough," Olivia replied, her voice husky and raw. "Love needs room to breathe. It can't live with fear and shame and self-hatred. I should know."
They lapsed into silence, both afraid to look at the other, and afraid to speak in case they shattered something else.
Natalia's cellphone shattered the silence at last. She grabbed for it, gritting her teeth when she saw who was calling. "Hey mom," she said. She listened quietly for a long moment. Olivia could hear the sound of high pitched yelling down the line. "I'm sorry," Natalia said at last, when she could get a word in. "There was something I needed to do. I didn't think it could wait." She glanced at Olivia who looked away. She caught herself wishing that she'd never left the church, never come to the hotel, never seen Olivia. Then they could go back to pretending that everything was going to be all right. She wouldn't have this yawning chasm of emptiness in the pit of her stomach. "I'll be back soon," she said into the phone and hung up while her mom was still speaking.
Olivia was looking at her hands. "I'm going back to Springfield," she said in a small voice. "Rafe has a plane ticket for Friday. I'll pick him up and take him back to the halfway house if you're not with him."
Natalia closed her eyes. "Don't leave it like this," she said. "Please."
Olivia shrugged. "How else can we leave it?" she asked. "You need to decide who you are and what you want. I can't make those choices for you." Her voice cracked a little. "All I can do is tell you that I love you and I want to be with you...more than anything. Not just for an afternoon. Not for a month, or a year, or five years. I want you to be my happy ending, Natalia."
Tears stung Natalia's eyes and spilled over at last onto her cheeks. "I don't know if I can be," she admitted, feeling like a piece of her soul was being ripped out with every word.
Olivia's voice was just as raw and heartbroken. "I know," she whispered. "But...you know where I am. When you're ready. And until then...we're still friends, right?"
"Always," Natalia replied instantly. Olivia nodded and tried to smile through her tears. "Olivia..." Natalia murmured and couldn't stop herself from reaching over and taking the other woman into her arms. Something inside her shifted and settled into place as she felt the press of Olivia's body against her. A sigh escaped her lips.
She had figured out two things. One: apparently she really enjoyed sex with women. The experience had been a total revelation, one that she wasn't quite sure what to do with yet. Two: Olivia made her feel things that no-one ever had, not even Gus. She knew that she would not be able to stop craving her, even though what had happened felt so wrong. But it was crystal clear to her now, as she felt the warmth of Olivia's skin against hers and the thunder of her pulse in her ears, she didn't think she could make herself stop wanting it.
Two questions, then, had been answered. It was just a shame that they had thrown up so many more in their place.
A/N - More of Natalia's identity crisis coming up.