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.
Natalia awoke the next morning to the sound of laughter and the smell of fresh coffee and pancakes. She groaned softly. Her head was throbbing in a most unpleasant manner, and she blearily recalled sitting in her bedroom with Maria for several hours the previous day and getting blind drunk. After the confession and the sobbing and the gasping Maria had slipped out briefly and come back with a bottle of whisky and two glasses. Natalia had surprised herself with her willingness to try to drink her problems away. It works for Olivia, she remembered thinking.
Olivia. The almost pleasant sensation of satisfied soreness between her legs reminded her of exactly what she'd been trying to block out, and why. "Oh God," she muttered, rubbing her hands across her face. She flushed as the events of the previous day sped through her mind like a runaway train, despite her best efforts to stop them. A rush of heat flooded through her and her eyes flickered closed. Her physical reaction to the thought of Olivia was just as visceral as ever. But it was wrong.
What exactly is wrong with it?
She shook her head, wincing against the pain, trying to silence the treacherous voice.
So you enjoyed sex for once. It's about time.
"Shut up," she said to herself. She couldn't decide if the niggling thoughts were speaking in Olivia's voice or Selina's, but either way she wanted them to stop.
She squinted against the harsh light leaking in the window as she opened her eyes again. Wearily she collected her robe and made her way through to the kitchen, following the sounds of muted voices and laughter. "Good morning," she mumbled.
Two sets of dark eyes turned to her, one set warm and loving, the other set cold and angry, and a little bit hurt too, behind everything. "Morning Ma." Rafe stood and wrapped his mother in a hug. "You okay?"
She managed a shaky smile. "Could be worse," she said. Josephine snorted.
"Maria was in quite a state when she left last night," she said. "You were no better, I expect. Do you make a habit of getting drunk at funerals?"
Natalia took a deep breath and actually bit down on the inside of her cheek to prevent the angry retort that had bubbled up in her throat. She swallowed the default position of bitterness and resentment with a visible effort and forced a smile onto her face. "Nope, that was my first time," she said. "You could say it was a day of firsts all round."
Josephine frowned, appeared to consider asking what she'd meant by that, and then apparently decided against it. She turned to Rafe, symbolically putting Natalia in the corner. "Would you like syrup on your pancakes?" she asked sweetly.
"Rafe's diabetic," Natalia interrupted. "No sugar." She poured herself a cup of coffee and dragged the sugar bowl over. Rafe couldn't have any, but she sure needed some. More than some, in fact - lots.
* * * * * *
By the evening Natalia was sure she was going crazy. Her mother was still giving her the cold shoulder. Fair enough, that was only to be expected. She had run out of her father's requiem mass after all, before coming back with no explanation and getting wildly drunk at the wake. Grudgingly Natalia could accept that she deserved her mother's scorn.
What was confusing her was her mother's obvious delight with Rafe.
"No more grandma, I'm stuffed!" Rafe patted his stomach and grinned as Josephine tried to cram another couple of pasteles onto his plate. She had been cooking all day, seemingly trying to make up for nearly nineteen years of missed spoiling in one afternoon.
"A growing boy needs his food," Josephine fussed. Natalia snorted with derision.
"I'm pretty sure the growth spurts are over, mom," she said. "You missed those."
Josephine's jaw tightened. "I missed a lot of things," she said, and flashed Natalia a look of pure fury. Natalia blinked, nonplussed.
"Well, whose fault is that?" she said.
Rafe looked uneasily from one woman to the other. "I...uh...you know, I think I need to go out for some fresh air."
"Fine," Natalia said, her eyes locked with her mother's. She waited until she heard the apartment door click shut before she opened her mouth and let her thoughts spill out unchecked. "What are you up to?" she demanded.
Josephine affected an expression of profoundest innocence. "What are you talking about 'Talia?" she asked. Natalia shook her head.
"'Talia?" she sputtered. "You haven't called me that since I was twelve."
"Well, when you behave like a child..."
A startled laugh forced its way up from deep in the pit of Natalia's stomach. "My God," she said. "You really are a piece of work, you know that?"
Josephine's chin jutted forward. "What in the world is your problem?" she snapped.
"You!" Natalia shouted. "You are my problem. You call me back here after eighteen years of silence and you think you can behave like nothing's happened. And now Rafe's here and suddenly he's the golden boy? I don't get you."
Josephine threw her arms up in the air. "What are you talking about? He's my grandson!"
Natalia stared at her mother, mouth hanging open in pure astonishment. "A grandson you've never even met," she reminded her.
"And why is that?" Josephine countered.
Natalia laughed briefly and humourlessly. "Exactly!" she said. "For God's sake!"
Josephine shook her head. "You really are the most selfish, idiotic child," she began, but Natalia cut her off.
"I'm not a child, mom! I'm thirty-four! I've been looking after myself and my son for nearly nineteen years, most of it alone. You don't get to talk to me like I'm a petulant teenager just because you were missing in action for more than half my life."
"Missing!" Josephine exploded. "How dare you?"
The air crackled between them as their gazes locked. Natalia had the feeling she'd lost track of the argument somewhere, but she wasn't quite sure when it had happened. Somehow her mother seemed to have got the upper hand.
"I'm going to find Rafe," Natalia muttered at last.
Josephine grunted. "Fine, run away," she said bitterly. "That's what you're best at."
Natalia spun around in the doorway. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Josephine shot her a derisory glance. "You broke your father's heart," she spat. Natalia shook her head in confusion, her hand coming up automatically to her own chest.
"He broke mine," she hissed.
For an endless moment they stared at each other, breathing hard, decades of pain and betrayal, both genuine and merely perceived, simmering between them.
Rafe's voice shattered the moment and Natalia looked away. Josephine's eyes raked over her profile as she turned her head.
"I thought you were going for a walk baby," Natalia said, impressed with herself for making her voice sound vaguely normal.
"I was," said Rafe as he appeared in the doorway. He seemed to be hiding something behind his back. "But I found someone outside who wanted to see you."
Natalia raised an eyebrow and then, with a giggle and a squeal, Emma rushed out from behind Rafe's legs and threw herself into Natalia's arms.
Natalia wrapped her arms around the girl automatically but her eyes were angled up, looking past Rafe for a figure that part of her had been half expecting to see every moment since they'd parted, although she hadn't realised it till now, until her heart grew wings and took flight and her breath caught in anticipation.
And there she was. Olivia dressed in white, all smoky green eyes and deep red lips, standing in her mother's living room with her hands tucked into her pockets and a hesitant smile on her face.
"Surprise," she said, her voice both hopeful and afraid, and something very important in Natalia's soul suddenly and simply clicked into place.
"Hi," she breathed. Emma squirmed in her arms and Natalia realised she was holding her just a little too tight. She let her go with a quick, apologetic grin, breaking eye contact with Olivia. Emma looked over Natalia's shoulder and flashed her most innocent and charming smile.
"Hi," she said. "You must be Natalia's mommy. I'm Emma Spencer."
Josephine glanced down at Emma, frowning. "Okay," she said, then looked up at Olivia. "And who exactly are you?"
Natalia's eyes flicked from her mother to Olivia. Oh, this should be fun.
Well, at least that answered one question. The sarcastic inner commentary definitely spoke to her in Olivia's voice.