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natalia butterflies

wonkots42 in passion_perfect

FIC: Crossroads Part 20/??; Guiding Light

TITLE: Crossroads
AUTHOR: Wonko
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.

[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] [Part 16] [Part 17] [Part 18] [Part 19]

Emma ran ahead the moment they got to the gates of the park, with a nine year-old's unerring instinct for playgrounds.  "Slow down Jellybean, stay where I can see you!" Olivia called, but didn't seem too concerned.  Natalia smiled at the little girl's fast disappearing back, then looked over at Olivia shyly.

"I'm glad you didn't go back to Springfield just yet," she said softly.  "It's...it's good to see you."

Olivia smiled.  "Well, I have business here, like I said," she replied.

Natalia considered pointing out that she was her assistant and that she knew her schedule better than anyone.  The excuse about The Beacon's expansion into Chicago was as transparent as it was flimsy.  But then...if it suited Olivia to have a veneer of professionalism between them...well, that was fine.  She couldn't really blame her for wanting that little bit of distance.  It was probably for the best anyway, after how disastrous getting close had ended up being.  She smiled sadly.

"Yeah, well, that didn't mean you had to see me.  I...I wouldn't have blamed you if you hadn't wanted to..."  She trailed off, struck with the sudden appalling realisation that if she kept talking she was going to start crying.  Olivia glanced over at her then slowed her pace, reaching out and linking her arm with Natalia's.

"What did I promise you when we were at the spa?" she asked gently.

Natalia shrugged.  "We promised a lot of things," she said, her cheeks flushing hotly as she thought of all the assurances that had been so easy to make and so hard to keep.

Olivia nodded.  "Yes, yes we did," she agreed.  "Specifically, I promised you that whatever happened you wouldn't lose your best friend.  Remember?"

Natalia swallowed hard against a sudden lump in her throat.  "I remember," she said hoarsely.

Olivia nodded firmly.  "So, here I am.  Your best friend come to save you from the dragon's den."

Natalia barked with laughter and brightened, decidedly less than mature delight rushing through her as she remembered the look on her mother's face when Olivia started speaking her language.  "You were amazing," Natalia enthused, squeezing Olivia's arm a little tighter, and not letting go like Olivia had thought she might.  "I had no idea you could speak Spanish!"

Olivia peered into the distance, scanning the park for her daughter.  She nodded briefly when she spotted her, then turned her attention back to Natalia.  "I was nearly the princess of a whole country you know," Olivia said, with a small self deprecating smirk.  "A tiny, insignificant little country, but a country nonetheless.  That would have involved a lot of state visits and a lot of foreign languages.  And it doesn't hurt to know a few phrases when you're in the hotel business either."

Natalia smiled and raised an eyebrow.  "So what other languages do you speak?"

Olivia shrugged.  "Um...French, German, Portuguese, a little Mandarin...not that I'm particularly fluent in them anymore.  For some reason Spanish always stuck with me."  She smiled a small, shy smile, and Natalia realised that she was actually embarrassed.  Not for the first time, Natalia wondered why Olivia so hated to let people see her good points.  How typical of Olivia to hide all the best parts of herself.  But Natalia had seen them all - her intelligence, her kindness, her fierceness, her devotion, her heart-breaking vulnerability.  She had peeled away layer after layer of Olivia Spencer and each layer was greater than the one before, so that instead of diminishing in her eyes Olivia had simply got bigger, more vital, more essential, until Natalia was no longer sure how she would survive without her.

"Six languages," Natalia murmured, her eyes roaming possessively over the planes of Olivia's face.  "Wow."

Olivia blushed.  "It's not that big a deal," she insisted.

"Say something in Mandarin," Natalia interrupted, grinning with child-like glee.

Olivia shook her head.  "Oh, I'm not very good..."

"Please?"  Natalia leaned into Olivia's side, flashing her dimples as she smiled.  Olivia caught her eyes and felt every phrase of Mandarin she'd ever known escape her, except one.

"Wo ai ni," she murmured, a hint of a blush painting her cheeks.

Natalia didn't need to know the language to understand her meaning.  It was written all over Olivia's face.

With a slightly trembling hand Natalia reached up and trailed her fingers along the line of Olivia's jaw.  "Olivia..."

"You don't have to say anything," Olivia swiftly interrupted.

Natalia considered taking the out she'd been offered, considered smiling and closing her mouth and saying nothing.  But then a string of moments passed through her mind like links in a chain:  sitting on a table on a sunny August day, holding Olivia with affection for the first time; watching Olivia lock horns with the warden of the prison, then the governor of the state, just so Rafe could have an easier time; Olivia giving up her job with Decker for the sake of her $80,000; and finally Olivia holding court in her mother's living room, standing up for her in a way that no-one ever had before.  She couldn't stay silent.  If there was one thing she owed Olivia it was honesty.

"I love you too," she said, then bit her lip.  "I just-"

"I know," Olivia whispered, eyes shining.  "Please, don't...don't say anything else."  She leaned forward impulsively and pressed a quick kiss to Natalia's forehead.  "I don't expect anything, really.  You know how I feel and you know what I want.  But...if that never happens I won't love you any less.  If all we can ever have is to be two friends who love each other more than anything, I'll still want it."  She smiled, although her lower lip was trembling in a tell-tale way that Natalia knew meant she was only one word or one touch away from crying.

For a long moment Natalia didn't know what to say.  How could she respond to a declaration like that in a way that wouldn't sound trite or, worse, dishonest?  She still wasn't sure how much she could offer Olivia, how much of the happy ending she'd ever be able to give her.  Only one thing was clear.

Never in her life had she felt more loved and cherished.  To know that Olivia would be willing to put so much aside just to have Natalia in her life, in whatever capacity, was overwhelming.

Natalia decided in that instant to forget about the doubts, the uncertainty, and the tension that stretched between them like a taut rubber band, if only for a moment.  She even forgot that they were in public and vulnerable to stares and whispers.  All that mattered was that Olivia loved her, and she loved Olivia back, and she needed to have her in her arms.

"I'll want it too," she whispered into Olivia's ear as she pulled her close.

Olivia seemed to relax against her.  Natalia closed her eyes, feeling another piece of herself slot into place.  This was right, she realised, this was good, this was worth holding on to.

And I don't just want to be your friend, her mind whispered.

"Mom!  Natalia!"

They sprang apart almost guiltily, Olivia swiping at her treacherous eyes with the back of her hand.  "Yeah, what is it Em?" she called, her voice a little hoarse.

"Can I play with Matthew?"  Emma pointed at a boy standing beside her with a soccer ball under his arm.  "His aunties said I had to check with you."

Natalia glanced past Emma and the boy to look for the adults who were with him.  "Oh," she exclaimed, then smiled.  "Selina!"

Natalia reached down and grabbed Olivia's hand, dragging her along as she set off.  Within a few seconds the two of them had reached the others.

"What a coincidence!" Natalia said, pulling Selina into a brief hug.

"Amazing," Selina agreed, but she caught Olivia's eye before she pulled back and gave her a surreptitious wink.  Olivia flushed and a smirk toyed with the idea of playing over Selina's lips.  "This is my girlfriend, Rosie," Selina said, gesturing towards the woman beside her.  "Rosie, this is Natalia Rivera, one of my oldest friends."

Natalia leaned forward to shake her hand.  "Pleased to meet you," she said, then turned slightly towards Olivia.  "This is Olivia Spencer, my..." she trailed off, momentarily lost for words.  My boss she'd said to her mother, but what a slap in the face that would be to Olivia now.  Hell, what a slap in the face it had been to her then.  Natalia coughed to cover her hesitation.  "My friend," she said.  "My dearest friend."  She blushed a little at Selina's raised eyebrow, then held out her hand towards her.  "Olivia, this is Selina Steiner.  We grew up together."

Olivia and Selina shook hands.  "Pleased to meet you," they said simultaneously.

For a moment it was slightly awkward, and none of them really knew what to say to one another.  Then Emma tugged on her mother's sleeve and begged again to be allowed to play.

As soon as Emma and Matthew were kicking the ball around happily Rosie smiled and extended her hands.  "Well, would you care to join us?" she asked.  "We're having a little barbecue and we've brought way too much stuff..."

"As always," Selina said, sliding her arm around Rosie's shoulder and smiling at her indulgently.  "Rosie doesn't consider any day a true success unless someone's been overfed."

Olivia laughed, and raised her eyebrows at Natalia.  "Now who does that remind me of?" she teased.  Natalia swatted her arm.

"I thought you loved my nurturing side," she said.  The lines around Olivia's eyes softened.

"Good point," she said softly.

Rosie and Selina glanced at each other, and Selina's eyes said I told you so while Rosie's said I see what you mean.

"We'd love to join you," Natalia said with a smile.

Selina held out her arm towards a picnic table and portable barbecue sitting under the canopy of a leafy tree.  The late evening sun was still shining brightly and it was warm enough to be in short sleeves.  A light breeze carried the sounds of happily conversing adults and laughing children.  Natalia let it wash over her, feeling at peace for the first time since she and Olivia had left the spa.  Without thinking about what she was doing she ran her fingers down Olivia's arm and tangled their fingers together.

"Lead on," she said to Selina.

TBC...

A/N - I've cast Rosie, even though she's not a huge character. I asked for opinions on this one, then ignored all of them and went with the one I wanted, haha. So, here she is.

Comments

Nice chapter.

And I'm snickering over your choice for Rosie. Works, but still makes me snicker.
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July 2018

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