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natalia butterflies

wonkots42 in passion_perfect

FIC: Crossroads Part 16/??; Guiding Light

TITLE: Crossroads
AUTHOR: Wonko
FANDOM: Guiding Light
RATING: PG-13 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.
A/N - I've had a very bad, stressful week, hence the lateness of this post. Thanks for your patience, and I'll try not to leave such a gap between parts again if I can.

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12] [Part 13] [Part 14] [Part 15]

Olivia lay on the bed for a long time after Natalia left, struggling to breathe, struggling to remember why she should even care about breathing.  What did it matter?  What need did her clammy skin, her fractured brain and her broken heart have for oxygen?  Better to just lie there until she passed out and hope not to wake up.

But no.  She had a daughter at home who needed her.  She couldn't wallow in self pity now, not like when Gus died.  Back then there had been people around to pick up her slack, to shield Emma from the worst of her depression and hopelessness.  Ava, and Frank, and Buzz and Natalia.  Most of all Natalia.  All of them out of her reach now, either through distance or betrayal or her own stupid mistakes.

And yet again, her mistakes had taken a familiar form.

Sex.  Why did it have to be such a big deal?  Why did it always cause her so many problems?  Why the hell couldn't she just do without it?

She'd meant to tell Natalia that she could.  She'd had the whole line planned out, about how she loved Natalia so much, and how she respected her and her beliefs, how she'd be able to go on forever as they were, with hand holding and hugs and very occasional kisses on the cheek.  Perhaps even a kiss on the lips now and again, if she was very good - maybe on her birthday and at Christmas.

Well, Natalia had shot that idea to hell.  And a few other things too, including Olivia's sanity, dreams and hopes for the future.  She might get another kiss from Natalia on her 100th birthday if she was lucky.  And as for Christmas?  Try the second coming.

It took her about half an hour to finally drag herself off the bed.  Her suitcase was in the corner of the room, untouched.  There was nothing for her to do, no last minute clothes to pack or preparations to make.  All that was required was one last look around the room where she had so briefly had everything she wanted, before it was snatched away.  A thirty second ride in the elevator later and she was in the lobby, waiting in a long line to check out.

She'd picked the worst possible time of day for this.  It seemed like everyone wanted to check out of the hotel at that exact moment.  And only two clerks on duty?  Really?  She cast a critical eye over their setup.  God, The Beacon ran so much more smoothly.  You didn't have to wait in a line to check out in her hotel.  You just posted your key into a dropbox along with a comment card.  And if there was anything wrong with the room or any extra charges were needed, well, that's why they had an imprint of the guests' credit cards.

Spying a comment card on a rack she grabbed it and spent a contented five minutes filling it out in scathing language.  So Natalia had turned her world upside down.  She'd take it out on the poor bastard who had to read these comment cards.

She was toying between the words moronic and incompetent when she heard her name.  "I'm looking for a guest of yours.  Olivia Spencer?"

She looked up.  The speaker was a woman, younger than her, maybe Natalia's age, wearing a dark blue skirt and jacket with a light blue shirt.  Her blonde hair was up in a bun, but a few tendrils had shaken loose at the front.  The woman pushed them behind her ears as she looked at the desk clerk expectantly.

"Who are you?" Olivia asked.  The stranger turned round and fixed her with very blue eyes.

"Ms Spencer, I presume," she said, holding out a hand.  Short fingernails with clear nail polish, Olivia noted as she took it.  And a firm handshake.  "I'm Selina Steiner.  A friend of Natalia's."

Olivia pulled her hand away quickly.  "Natalia?"

Selina smiled kindly.  "Maybe we could go somewhere and talk."

Olivia took a step back.  "Why are you here?"

"Just looking out for my friend," Selina replied, shrugging.

Olivia shook her head.  "Right.  Come to warn me off?  Want to get Natalia back on the straight and narrow?"

Selina snorted with laughter.  "Yeah, I like you already," she said.  Olivia blinked twice, staring at her.  "Oh please," Selina continued.  "You're talking to a woman with a rainbow flag tattooed on her ass.  I'm not here to give you a hard time."  She wrapped her fingers round a slightly stunned Olivia's elbow and steered her away from the queue of business men and tourists.  "Now, would you let me buy you a drink so we can talk about how we're going to get Natalia to come to her senses?"

Olivia allowed herself to be dragged into the hotel bar without protest.  "Mine's a martini," she said.  "Don't skimp on the olives."

Selina perched herself on a bar stool and waved the bartender over.  "Two martinis, plenty of olives," she said, then turned her attention to the woman beside her.  "So," she said.  "I am very excited to be meeting you at last."

Olivia shifted a little in her seat.  "Has she...has she been talking about me?" she asked, a note of hope creeping into her voice.  Selina shook her head.

"Not really," she said.  "Crying about you on the other hand..."

Olivia seemed to grow smaller.  She dropped her eyes.  "Fantastic," she muttered bitterly.

Selina smirked.  "So, tell me," she said, taking a quick sip of her martini, "are you a fully paid up member of the sapphic sisterhood or are you going through all this who am I, what does this mean bullshit too?"

Olivia choked with an olive between her teeth.  Selina slapped her on the back rolling her eyes.  "Jesus," Olivia spluttered.

"I hope you don't blaspheme like that in front of Natalia," Selina said, now rubbing Olivia's heaving back.

Olivia coughed.  "No," she muttered.  "But then Natalia hasn't ever used the phrase sapphic sisterhood."

Selina laughed.  "Colour me shocked," she deadpanned.  A quick flick of her hand in the direction of the bartender produced a tall glass of water which Olivia accepted gratefully.

"Thanks," Olivia murmured, taking a long sip and swallowing hard.  Selina watched the movement of her throat, taking in the darkening bruise surrounding a light bite mark just below her ear.

"So," she said smoothly.  "Tell me about Natalia."

Olivia shrugged with one shoulder.  "What can I tell you?  Aren't you her friend?"

Selina made a dismissive gesture with one hand.  "I've seen her twice in the last eighteen years.  I'm sure you have plenty of gossip to share."  She nodded pointedly at the love bite adorning the smooth expanse of Olivia's neck.  "You two are...close, aren't you?"

Olivia looked down into her drink.  "She's the best friend I've ever had," she said quietly.  "She...uh..." She paused, shaking her head and flashing a rueful smile.  "There's never been anyone who ever...ever cared about me the way she does."  She looked up at Selina briefly.  "So yes, you could say we're close."

Selina didn't speak for a moment.  Instead she leaned forward and grazed her fingers across Olivia's neck.  "I've never had a friend who left a mark on me like that," she said softly.

Olivia rubbed the bite self-consciously, then let her hand travel down to rest over her heart.  "It's not the only one she's left," she said.

Selina took a sip of her drink.  "I can see that," she said.  "Why don't you tell me about it."

And so Olivia did, letting the whole story spill out - Gus, her illness, the transplant, the fights, the pushing and pulling, the give and take, the uneasy truces and explosive arguments, the tentative friendship, the farmhouse, the family, the two mommies, the kiss that didn't count, the graveyard, the aborted wedding, the gazebo, the spa, the tenth floor hotel room and the seeming finality of their last goodbye.

"Wow," Selina breathed when Olivia's litany had finally choked itself into silence.  "You've had a hell of a year, haven't you?  Like something lifted right out of a soap opera."

Olivia raised her glass towards her and smirked.  "Welcome to my life," she muttered darkly, and downed the rest of her martini in one gulp.

"Same again over here," Selina called, meeting the bartender's eyes.

"I shouldn't," Olivia murmured.  "The last time I got drunk with a beautiful woman it got me into trouble."

Selina raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow.  "You think I'm beautiful?" she said.

Olivia flushed.  "I've got eyes don't I?" she replied, a little defensively.

Selina laughed.  "Don't worry, I take it as a compliment," she said.  "You're not so bad yourself you know.  I can definitely understand what she sees in you."  She smiled.  "And I guess that answers my question.  You're not in the middle of an identity crisis then?"

Olivia shrugged.  "Not anymore," she said.  "I was for a while.  A long while, if I'm honest."  She sighed.  "I've been married five times," she admitted.  "That is not the track record of a woman who likes women.  And I guess I never really thought of myself that way.  I thought things were very black and white."  She took a sip of her fresh martini.  "I thought that being attracted to Natalia meant giving something up.  Like I had to choose, you know?  But I'm discovering that I don't.  I can look at men, I can look at women, and I'm still just me.  I really haven't changed."  She shrugged.  "So I now have another three billion or so people to hypothetically lust after.  It doesn't matter.  It really doesn't matter one bit who I am or am not capable of wanting.  There's only one person I love."  She sat staring at her drink for a long moment until she felt the warm press of fingers on her hand and she looked up.

"Then why are you running away?" Selina asked softly.

Olivia shook her head.  "I'm not," she said, her voice cracking a little.  "But what's the point of trying to push it?  She needs her space.  And when you love someone and you're a family you have to know when to hold on tight and when to let go..."

Selina rolled her eyes.  "Right, okay.  If you love something let it go, yadda yadda.  Bullshit."  Olivia's head snapped round.  "Let me tell you something about Natalia," Selina continued.  "She's locked up so damn tight that she doesn't even know who the hell she is.  She's been like that longer than you've known her, trust me.  Somewhere along the line a long time ago she created an image of herself and she's spent her whole adult life denying anything that doesn't fit.  Pruning away at uncomfortable truths with denial and shame and the kind of manufactured guilt that only a fucking Catholic can torture themselves with."  She paused for breath, holding her hand up to stop Olivia from interrupting.  "You know, when we were fifteen her mom told her she couldn't see me anymore.  Because I had the most obvious baby-dyke crush in the history of the world.  And you know what?  Even after she left home and her mother's disapproval really wasn't on her list of priorities?  She didn't call me.  Didn't come to see me.  Made no effort to try to include me in her life at all.  And you know why?"  Selina grabbed Olivia's hand and squeezed.  "Because she was feeling it too, and it scared the shit out of her.  So she just ignored it.  She ran away.  And if you don't stay here and fight for her that's exactly...what will happen...again."

Olivia shook her head.  "Don't sell her short," she said.  "I know her.  She's so much braver and stronger than people give her credit for."

Selina nodded.  "Against enemies she can understand, sure," she said.  "Against poverty and hardship and other people's bullshit.  Not against herself.  She's totally lost right now.  If you leave her like this she'll just shut down."  She smiled kindly.  "What she needs right now is...I don't know, a light.  To guide her out of all this darkness and confusion.  She needs you, whether she would ever admit it or not.  Don't abandon her."

Olivia blinked once, then twice, her jaw hanging slightly open.  "I..." she began, then cleared her throat.  "I'd need to make a few calls..."

"Fine!" Selina exclaimed.  "Do it, do whatever you need.  Just don't roll over, okay?  I can help you."

Olivia managed a smile.  "So we attack on two fronts?" she said.  "That hardly seems fair."

Selina leaned forward and gave her a conspiratorial wink.  "You know what Olivia?" she said.  "I'm pretty sure this is one of those situations in which all is fair..."

TBC...

Note: When I picture Selina now, I picture this. Sigh. She's so pretty!

Comments

Okay, Jeri Ryan never even crossed my mind for Selina, but now she's all I can imagine for the character...

And I really like the idea of the childhood best friend/first crush and the current best friend/crush/girlfriend[?] working together... Nicely done!
Okay, Jeri Ryan never even crossed my mind for Selina, but now she's all I can imagine for the character...

I'm having a hard time imagining anyone but Selina now, haha.
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