Pairing: Olivia Spencer/Natalia Rivera.
Rating: Hard PG-13/soft R? I'm really not good at ratings.
Summary: Natalia finds that she massively miscalculated the effect of her departure, and has to deal with the consequences.
Disclaimer: Definitely not mine; I would be taking waaaaaay better care of them, I assure you.
Spoilers: Only if you missed last week's episodes.
Author's Note: Title is from Joseph Arthur's In the Sun (which is, for my money, THE Otalia song)--lyrics here.
Definitely not the fic for those who want to see a speedy reconciliation. Or a not-angry!Olivia. Because if Olivia does not absolutely go off on Natalia...I don't even know what I will do.
Many thanks to seftiri for the beta!
It’s 5:32 pm on a Thursday night when Olivia’s world is shattered, again, by a slender brunette with big doe eyes and dimples you could swim in. Her eyes lock with Natalia’s from across the room, and Olivia had always thought it only happens in the movies, but she swears everyone else in the room stops talking. All noise fades out, and she feels her heart stop for several long, panic-inducing moments, and then it starts again and the noise starts again and everything rushes in on her and it all blurs together and it’s overwhelming.
Olivia drops her purse. It falls to the ground with a dull thud, and she almost, almost follows it. The only thing that saves her is Buzz and the chair he’s pulled up behind her (because Buzz knew, he’d always known, and despite all the crap she’s pulled he loves her anyway). On instinct, her hand lifts to her chest, feeling the sharp pounding of her heart against her sternum even through her blouse and vest.
Not just shattered. Nuclear bombed.
Her daughter had called her, squealing and happy, with news of a surprise waiting at Company and could you come now, Mommy, please? Amused and a little worried—knowing Emma, the surprise could range anywhere from “I found this kitten, he’s cute and he purrs, can we keep him?” to “I acquired two Japanese robotics companies and am going to use them to upgrade the Beacon’s computer systems, so you need to plan for the computers to be down for about an hour at 3 am on Sunday”—she’d decided what the hell, she’d call it a day. She was probably due, she’d been working lots of overtime lately; she was averaging five hours of sleep a night, keeping up a blistering pace during the day so that she could just flop into bed, exhausted, and sleep dreamlessly. It just didn’t seem to matter anymore; it hadn’t for the last month, not since her life went to hell in the space of two weeks—
No. She couldn’t think about that and make it through the day. It had been too much recently. With Jeffrey, and the nasty custody battle brewing between Shayne and Marina and Mallet, and the way everyone has been looking for Edmund in the shadows over their shoulders, and not even Shayne can reach Dinah and no one knows where she is or was last seen, and she’s going to have to tell Emma that another parent is going to up and die on her, and—
To be fair, though, she’d probably been neglecting Emma, just a little, although she justified it to herself by telling herself that she was letting Emma spend what little time Phillip had left with him. Still, she knew her daughter was worried about her. So what the hell, she’d thought, and notified Greg and Ashlee that she was leaving for the day. She pretended not to see the relief, the concern, the thankfulness on both their faces, the way they’d practically shoved her out the door. She knew that her staff was worried about her, but she also knew she’d been a raging bitch to work under these past few weeks. No gentle, sweet assistant to smooth over the boss’ temper tantrums—
So she’d driven over to Company, idly placing bets on what Emma’s surprise was. She was thinking a cat. Phillip would do anything if Emma batted her eyes, Buzz was just soft enough to give in to a kitten where he’d draw the line at a puppy, and Olivia was well aware that Emma, not Jane, held all the power in that particular relationship, and Blake would probably find it precocious and charming, and Doris would have cackled and let her do it just to see Olivia’s reaction, and hell, Frank and Rafe would probably jump at the chance to make her life as difficult as possible.
She’d never, ever thought that Emma might have found her missing other mommy. Not in a million years.
And she’d walked through the door and she’d seen—
And now Natalia Rivera is looking at her with a beaming smile and a stomach swollen with child, and Olivia feels her world implode.
Olivia holds the railing tightly and breathes deeply. She leans her weight forward, the wood of the railing rough against her palms, as she lets herself bend under the last hour of her life. Suddenly it all hits her, everything she hasn’t let herself feel in the last month—the pain, the choking insecurity, the disbelief, the betrayal, the grief, the worry, the frustration, and most of all, the utter fury. The anger rushes over her, sick and hot and comforting, and leaves her trembling in its wake.
If it wasn’t 6:30 pm and she wasn’t looking over a busy Main Street, she would give full voice to the howl building within her. As it is, she locks her jaw and forces the noise back and shakes.
Because she’s done. She’s done. Saint Natalia Fucking Rivera can’t just do this to her again, can’t just waltz into her life with a bright smile and warm eyes and expect all to be forgiven. Not when she’d left Olivia without a word, without even a goddamn letter, for an entire fucking month, leaving Olivia emotionally crippled and wondering what the fuck went wrong, what she had done wrong, trying to explain it all to Emma, and now just…ease back in like nothing had ever happened. Like she hadn’t not been there when Olivia needed her, when Jeffrey died and Dinah went missing and Phillip told her he was going to be gone for good in three months.
Not when she’s—and Olivia reels, again, and her head spins and she puts it down, between her shoulders. She becomes aware she’s panting softly. Or maybe it’s gasping. Because it’s almost funny, in a way. In the way that the universe likes to make fun of her before it kicks the shit out of her.
Natalia is pregnant.
Natalia is pregnant, and Olivia knows, she knows who the father is, and it explains why the Coopers are bustling around Natalia like she’s Saint Natalia Fucking Rivera again. Like she hadn’t broken Frank’s heart; like she hadn’t chosen her maid of honor over her groom.
Natalia is pregnant, and she didn’t even tell Olivia before she left.
And Olivia knows, now, how this is all going to end. The knowledge relieves some of the tight anxiety that’s been gnawing on her guts the past month, but it breaks her heart even more, if that’s possible. Natalia will marry Frank. There’s no doubt about it, and this time, even if Frank is dumb enough to invite her (and she considers that he probably is, in fact, just that stupid), she won’t go to the wedding. She can’t do that again. Her heart might actually give out.
And Natalia wants to talk, that’s the worst part. She’d locked eyes with Olivia and made a beeline for her, and only Frank and Marina stepping in front of her—and Doris shielding Olivia with her body—had prevented it. And of course Emma, her precious child, had wanted to stay, stay and rejoice in the fact that her other mommy (and Olivia gags on the word) is back, so Olivia couldn’t leave. Not with her daughter’s hopeful face tilted toward her; not with the questioning, curious eyes of the town on her.
Olivia is proud. It is what has gotten her through some of her darkest hours. She refuses to give it up now.
Thank God for Buzz and Doris and Blake and even Phillip (and talk about the things you never thought you’d hear yourself say). Olivia has long been adept at avoiding people—innumerable long and insufferable parties will teach you that skill quickly—and she’d put those skills to good use tonight. She knows Natalia was stalking her around the room, probably growing more frustrated every time Olivia escaped her, that they probably looked like some ridiculous game of cat and mouse, but it finally became too much when she saw Frank put a possessive hand on Natalia’s shoulder. She’d muttered something about needing air to Josh and walked outside, inhaling deeply.
It was that or throw up.
The door opens behind her, letting a shaft of light brighten the twilight, before it closes. She can hear Frank’s confused “but I’m not sure if—“ before the door closes solidly, and she shuts her eyes.
She knows who it is. She knows what’s coming. And she’s so not ready.
At the sound of Natalia’s voice, Olivia hates her just a little bit more. She sounds light and carefree and excited. She sounds like all the things Olivia had wanted to make her, all the things she’d been worried she couldn’t. I told you I couldn’t do this for you, she thinks savagely. I wish you had realized that before you told me you wanted everything.
She takes a moment and doesn’t turn around. She focuses on the fire hydrant right outside Company, but she’s not really seeing it.
“Welcome home,” she finally gets out, and is impressed by her own neutral tone.
A pause. Then she feels Natalia step closer, and God, she hates that she’s still so attuned to this woman.
“I missed you,” Natalia says, in that low and vulnerable and open and sweet way that she has, and Olivia shuts her eyes. It’s just too much. Then maybe you shouldn’t have left me she wants to say, but can’t muster up the energy. She feels numb, and it’s not a bad thing.
Natalia’s statement dangles awkwardly between them.
Natalia tries again. “I was lonely without you.” She’s starting to sound faintly peeved.
It energizes Olivia. Suddenly, she’s furious. Suddenly, she wants to throw Natalia up against the wall of Company and fuck her roughly, until they’re both crying and covered in scratches and bite marks. Suddenly, she wants to walk away and never, ever look back.
She’d settle for punching Frank Cooper right in the fucking face at the moment.
“Aren’t you glad I’m back?” Natalia tempers her frustration with a hint of insecurity, of not understanding, but Olivia won’t fall for it. She remembers a pool game (and her heart hurts for oh so many reasons when she thinks of Jeffrey), and a hustle, and something about an innocent face.
She swallows hard. “Of course I’m glad you’re back. That’s a stupid question,” she offers, voice still polite, with an edge of condescension. Neutral. Like she was talking to a particularly troublesome customer at the Beacon. “Emma missed you,” she adds, and knows it’s cruel, and hears the deck creak as Natalia rocks back on her heels.
Something fierce inside Olivia smiles.
Her momentary triumph doesn’t last, though, and the deck creaks again as Natalia approaches her. She’s within reach of Olivia, now.
“What about you?” Natalia asks, and something about the way she asks the question slips Olivia off her leash.
“You know I did,” and it’s a savage snarl. There’s silence behind her, and she can imagine Natalia’s brow furrowing. The puzzled expression.
“Why are you doing this?” Natalia demands, and Olivia laughs incredulously as she spins to face the woman she’s still in love with.
“Excuse me?” She ratchets up the disbelief and sarcasm in her voice, sees Natalia flush.
Anger. This is okay. This is normal. This is what they had first, long before anything else. This can take them back to acquaintances who don’t even like each other.
This Olivia can do.
“Why are you being like this?” Natalia demands, taking a step forward, intense eyes locked on Olivia. “You’re being cold. Cruel. I don’t get it.” Olivia’s mind flashes back months, to a similar conversation in a classroom, and her mouth twists. She’s just waiting for Frank to interrupt again. Why should things change now?
“What does it matter?” Olivia asks, rolling her eyes and turning back around. She grips the railing tightly.
“What?” Natalia’s voice is incredulous but soft. Suddenly, the anger goes out of Olivia, and all she is is tired. Tired and defeated. She just wants to go home. To the Beacon. “How can you say it doesn’t matter?”
Olivia sighs. “Why are you doing this, Natalia?” she asks instead. She shuts her eyes. “Can we just skip this step? I get the score, okay. I get how it’s going to be.” She swallows hard. “Just…don’t make me the godmother, okay? I can’t do that. I’m sorry.”
There is silence, a silence that starts to drag on and on. Infuriatingly, Olivia finds her eyes full of tears. She blinks rapidly, putting her head down.
Finally, finally Natalia moves. She leans against the railing next to Olivia. Olivia doesn’t pick her head up, but she shies away.
“Actually, I was hoping that you’d be a little more involved than just the godmother,” Natalia says with a quiet sigh.
Olivia freezes. Oh, good. There’s the anger, back again.
“What?” she spits out. “I don’t—why would you do that to me? Do you really hate me that much? What the fuck is your game, Natalia?” It all tumbles out before she can stop herself, and she hates herself for being so weak. She’d so wanted to show Natalia that the other woman can’t touch her, can’t hurt her, can’t affect her. Not anymore.
Natalia sucks in a breath sharply, like Olivia’s punched her in the stomach (only Olivia would never do that, especially now that there’s a little Natalia in there, oh God).
“Olivia—I—what?” She sounds confused. Olivia finally looks up, her blazing eyes locking with Natalia’s.
“You’re going to marry Frank.” She enunciates precisely, sharply, coldly. “You know I don’t want to see that, that I can’t be around you two. We can be friends, maybe, if you give me time, but to ask me to be involved with the kid?” She sneers. “What fucking planet do you live on, Rivera?” She turns to go.
“No!” Natalia’s hand is on her arm not letting her move. Olivia hates that even after everything, feeling Natalia’s fingers wrapped around her arm sends tingles down her spine, even as she jerks her arm roughly away. “Olivia, I—you have it all wrong.”
Olivia arches a contemptuous eyebrow. “Oh?” she asks, letting the scorn drip from her words. She feels her temper ratchet up another notch, perilously close to boiling over (on Main Street, in front of a whole load of townspeople; so much for just between us).
It makes Natalia mad; she can see the other woman literally get her back up, and Olivia feels a supreme sense of satisfaction at the sight. “Enlighten me, then,” Olivia drawls, leaning against the railing.
“Well, for starters, I’m not marrying Frank!” Natalia bellows, and Olivia blinks, completely nonplussed, as the entire damn street turns to stare at them. Well, shit. She thinks there might be some people in Chicago who didn’t hear Natalia, but she’s not sure. For a moment, she’s shaken out of her anger.
She narrows her eyes, cocks her head sideways. “Excuse me?” she asks, her voice even. She couldn’t have heard that right. Or Natalia must be on drugs. Or something.
“I’m. Not. Marrying. Frank.” It’s just as precise as Olivia was a moment ago, and Natalia bares her teeth in something close to a grimace. She apparently doesn’t notice that people are still watching. “Seriously, Olivia, I thought we got past you trying to throw me at him a few months ago.”
Olivia’s temper flares again. Natalia does not get to sass her. Not now. “I—“ she growls, but Natalia runs right over here.
“I came back here for you,” Natalia says, taking a step forward and poking Olivia squarely in the chest, right over her heart. Olivia rocks back a little despite herself. “I want to be with you. I had to go away to figure out some stuff, and I’m sorry, so sorry I didn’t tell you, I know it hurt you, but I just couldn’t, and I’m okay now. I’m better.” She grabs Olivia’s hand. Olivia doesn’t react. “We can be together now, Olivia, really together, because I’m finally together. I’m okay. I’m ready, I’ve thought about everything, I can give you everything you need. I’ll make it up to you, I’ll make it all up to you, I promise.” She pauses. “I want you with me for this,” she finishes softly, pressing Olivia’s hand to her stomach, warm through her shirt. “I don’t want anyone but you.”
Olivia has to shut her eyes. She feels like laughing. Or crying. The universe, she decides, is definitely fucking with her. “So you came back here and you just…think we can get back together? You just want to be with me?” she asks. Her voice is even. She pulls her hand back.
Natalia meets her eyes, and Olivia has never seen the younger woman as stripped of all defenses as she is right now.
“Yes,” Natalia says simply, all her hopes and dreams running through that single word.
Olivia has to bite her lip as her eyes flutter closed, as Natalia takes her hand again, twining their fingers. It would be easy, so easy. Natalia is so desperate right now, she can taste it in the air, so eager to please and so in love, and Olivia has never stopped loving her.
Olivia snorts. “Hell no,” she says, yanks her hand away again, and watches Natalia’s face freeze. She actually makes it a few steps away before Natalia regains her voice.
“You stop!” It spins Olivia around, and Natalia is staring at her, and she can’t even begin to decipher all the emotions playing across Natalia’s face. Moreover, she doesn’t care enough to try. “I—you—we can finally be together,” Natalia sputters, and Olivia can’t tell if she’s in shock, angry, or if she just thinks Olivia is punking her. “We can finally be together, we can have everything we’ve wanted, and you’re just going to walk away, what, because you’re—“
“I can’t trust you!” Olivia roars, actually roars, and Natalia instinctively takes a step away from her. She would be appalled by her loss of control if rational thought hadn’t completely left her body.
Silence hangs (all of Main Street is watching again), punctuated by Olivia’s panting. She can’t stop, now.
“I can’t trust you, Natalia,” she says again, quieter, but with just as much heat. “I can’t—you can’t just do this to people, Natalia! You can’t walk back in here and expect to pick up where we left off! You left for a month, Natalia! A month. I didn’t know where the hell you were or if you were okay or if you were even alive, and then you don’t even call when you get back into town and you think we can just go back to the way things were, but you left. You didn’t even trust me enough to tell me that you were leaving.”
Olivia pauses, breathing hard. Her voice has started to get loud again. She doesn’t care. Natalia is biting her lip so hard Olivia wonders if she is going to draw blood. Then her breath is back, and she continues.
“You left, Natalia, after everything you said, all the promises you made, after saying that you knew what you were getting yourself into and that you’re not that naïve and that you know what it all means, and then you left. You left me and you left my daughter and she cried for days. Days. And I had to tell her you were coming back when I had no idea if you were going to make me the biggest liar on the face of the fucking planet, when I didn’t even know if you were alive! Phillip told me he's sick, and it's terminal, and I have to tell Emma that her father is going to die in two months and you weren’t here. Jeffrey died and you. Weren’t. Here. Dinah could be dead and you. Weren’t. Here. Everything you ever said to me about being a team, about doing things together, about love, everything you said to Emma, it was all a lie. You made it one. Big. Lie.”
Natalia’s eyes start to water. But Olivia’s not done yet.
“I don’t get why I was so willing, so eager to be with you,” she rants, talking almost to herself. She doesn’t notice the way Natalia goes pale. “I—I’m Olivia fucking Spencer. I eat men for breakfast. I could have anyone I want. I’m strong and I get what I want. And you!” Her voice is acid. “You’re weak, and you don’t think, and you’re the biggest entitled asshole that I know, and you act like you’re a fucking saint but you’re a bigger bitch than I ever was. At least I only stole your husband. You fucking took back the heart you gave me, and smashed it into a million pieces and now you have the temerity to sit here and tell me that you’re back, so I can just forget about the past month so we can be together?!”
Natalia looks like she’s barely breathing. Tears are dripping down her face, off her jaw.
A bitter smile twists Olivia’s lips. Her chest is heaving like she just finished a marathon. “No, Natalia. I can’t trust that you won’t leave again. I can’t trust you.”
Because that is what is at the heart of this matter. Trust. Olivia has grown more in the past year and a half than she ever thought possible, and she’s doing the opposite of what she did every time before. She’s not settling, not boxing herself into a relationship that she’ll eventually sabotage because she’s not happy, because she can’t trust in it, because she swallowed hard and pushed down the anger and resentment and hurt because she wanted—needed—to be content with crumbs.
She’s demanding better, for herself and her daughter.
Who knew true love was ripping someone else’s heart out and knowing that you’re right in doing so?
Natalia’s shaking her head, denials coming fast and furious and desperate. “I wanted it to be a surprise and I told you, I’m committed, I want this, I love you, Olivia, I want to be with you—“
“I don’t want to be with you!” Olivia hisses in response, and it’s venomous. Natalia looks like she’s been slapped.
“Olivia…” it’s a pitiful groan.
“I know you think you’re committed right now,” Olivia ruthlessly cuts her off. “I know you love me. But I’ve heard that before, from you, and it didn’t change a goddamn thing. What about when things get hard again? What if something else happens, or the dog down the street disapproves,” and the disdain is palpable in her words, “or the leaves fall in the wrong way and you think it’s another sign?” Natalia flinches. “I believe you love me, Natalia, but I don’t trust you. I can’t. And I don’t believe that loving me means you’ll stay.” She is quiet for a moment, then forces a sickly grin. “You didn’t even tell me you were pregnant,” she says, anger almost gone, voice wondering, reaching out until her fingers are almost touching Natalia’s stomach. “I can’t…I can’t live like that.”
She pulls her hand back. Natalia is staring at her, starlight reflected in her eyes. Olivia thinks she can feel Natalia’s heart cracking even as something in Olivia’s begins to knit itself together. She’s crying, now, but for the first time in a long time it feels like it’s helping, like it’s healing something deep inside her.
She shakes her head. “You never even apologized for the wedding,” she breathes. Natalia’s head comes up, confused. Olivia picks up steam again. “I fucking martyred myself for you and you damn near broke my heart and you knew what you were doing to me and you did it anyway.” She scoffs. “I don’t know why I’m so surprised that you ran away. You did break Frankie’s heart when you ran away from him. I guess I was the stupid one, for believing I was different. Too bad I always came in last on your list.”
“Olivia—“ Natalia is desperate. Olivia shakes her head.
“Fuck off, Natalia,” Olivia says, and means it. “Stay away from me and my daughter.”
She walks away and doesn’t look back.
Natalia leans against the railing and desperately tries to stop the tears. She has to go back into her welcome home party-cum-baby shower in a moment, and all she wants to do is go back to the farmhouse, curl up into a ball, and let the tears come until she falls asleep.
How had it gone so badly? She’d knew it was going to be hard, so hard, but she’d thought about what she was going to say—she’d barely been able to think about anything else for the last week—prepared so much, and she loves Olivia so much, but then it had come out wrong, all wrong, and Olivia was angry, so angry but also just profoundly hurt and betrayed, and it made Natalia feel like she was two inches tall, and everything she said just made it worse and worse, and now….
And it was all true. That was the worst part. Every single word. All. Freaking. True.
The door opens behind her. She grits her teeth. “Frank, give me a couple minutes, okay?” she asks, putting a sharp edge on her voice. The door closes, and suddenly Buzz is leaning on the railing next to her.
“Didn’t go well?” he asks gently, voice full of sympathy, and the dam breaks and he holds his arms out and Natalia sobs into his shoulder, collapsing against him.
Finally, finally, the sobs wracking her body slow down, and she withdraws. He looks away, graciously giving her time to collect herself. When she mostly has, she sighs.
“No,” she confirms softly, shaking her head as he turns to face her. “She’s so….” She sighs, fidgets. She bites her lip hard.
Buzz looks out at the street. “You know, Olivia’s really proud,” he says, and Natalia’s eyes fasten on his face. “It’s what’s gotten her this far. Sometimes, pride is the only thing that’s kept her going.” He pauses. “And she’s hurt. You hurt someone who’s proud, it takes a long time for that wound to heal.”
Natalia swallows. “She doesn’t trust me,” she whispers.
Buzz pins her with his eyes. “Should she?” he asks, and somehow it’s all the more damning because his voice is gentle.
She bites her lip, fights back the tears, because they both know the answer to that question. “I can’t—“ she coughs wetly, tries again. “I don’t know how to fix this.”
Buzz nods imperceptibly. “You know, Olivia doesn’t believe in a lot, but I think she really wants to believe.” His tone is slow and musing. “She just needs some proof that what she’s believing in is real.”
She swallows. “Part of her didn’t trust me, even before,” she says weakly. “I don’t—I don’t think I can fight the old distrust and make up for…the way I messed up.”
Buzz smiles a little, still staring out at the street, at the passersby. “Sweetheart, you’re in deeper than anyone’s ever been before,” he informs her. “Olivia’s just…not used to being someone’s first choice. And she just can’t believe that she’s yours, not with what you did to her and Emma.”
She cocks her head, ignoring the stab of guilt at his words (because they’re true; is this how you treat someone you love?). “She was yours.”
He exhales heavily. “She wasn’t in a place to love me,” he states flatly, and Natalia feels a prickle of jealousy. Ridiculous. It’s Buzz. He and Lillian are together; he and Olivia were done a long time ago. It’s just that….
“But she is in a place to love you,” he continues, grabbing her hand and squeezing it. “I’ve never seen her as happy as when she’s with you. Ever. I want you to make her happy again. I think you can, if you try. It will be the hardest thing you will ever have to do. You have to be in it for the long haul, Natalia.” He cups her chin. “You have to give it your all.”
Her breath catches. Hope flares like a reviving ember in her breast at what he’s saying, that he doesn’t think everything’s irrevocably lost, that maybe if she just takes control she can fix this. “You’re telling me I should chase her. Prove to her that I’m committed, that I’m going to stay.”
He smiles at her, chucks her under the chin. “I think you need to give Olivia a reason to believe,” he says simply, and Natalia swallows, smiles tremulously.
“Now, come on,” he says, winding an arm around her shoulders. “I have more apple pie to feed you. I mean, look at you, you’re way too skinny to be pregnant. What have the nuns been feeding you, carrots?”
Natalia lets herself chuckle as he steers her inside. She looks over her shoulder, down the street where Olivia disappeared. A fresh sense of determination washes over her, not unlike the time when Olivia had been determined to die and Natalia had been equally determined not to let her.
This isn’t over, Olivia. Not even close.