Pairing: Olivia Spencer/Natalia Rivera.
Rating: I've decided on R for language.
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: Not really.
Author's Note: Fic title is from Joseph Arthur's In the Sun (one of THE Otalia songs, IMO).
Definitely not the fic for those who want to see a speedy reconciliation. Or a not-angry!Olivia.
Many thanks to seftiri for the beta!
Yeah, this fic is growing on me. It'll probably be at leas ten parts now, if not more.
Natalia’s phone starts buzzing.
Distracted, she chances a look up from her book—this new guy is good, Blake would be foolish not to sign him immediately, in Natalia’s opinion—and quickly glances back down.
Her head snaps up. Her eyes widen. Then the book goes skidding across the table and the pencil goes flying across the room and she just barely avoids knocking over the mostly-full glass of water next to her left elbow.
The caller ID reads Olivia.
Scooping her phone up, she takes a moment to calm herself, breathe deeply.
She hasn’t talked to Olivia in a week. Not since that disastrous evening at Company. Natalia has wanted to ambush Olivia—make her see reason—make her see how much Natalia loves her and would do anything to make this right—do something, anything to jar Olivia from her fury—or worse, her indifference. But Olivia apparently really has put a GPS on her, because as improbable as it may seem in a town the size of Springfield, Natalia has seen neither hide nor hair of Olivia in seven days. And she hasn’t quite mustered up the guts to go to the Beacon. Not when she knows the eyes of the employees will be fastened on her. Not when she knows that it’s Olivia’s home turf and she won’t make it through the doors.
(She hasn’t sunk so low as to go to Emma’s school when it lets out for the day. She’s considered it, though. Yesterday she was halfway out the door, keys in hand, before she stopped herself.)
She’s resigned herself to the idea that she is the last person who should be complaining about someone else needing time and space.
It doesn’t stop her from crying herself to sleep every other night.
Her phone vibrates again, shaking her out of her thoughts, and Natalia is suddenly terrified that she’s going to miss the call, miss this once chance. She answers without further ado.
“Olivia?” Her voice is breathy, too breathy and hopeful, and she cringes just hearing it.
“Are you at home?” Olivia’s tone is brusque, all business and hard angles. Natalia shuts her eyes, disappointment choking her for a moment. It had been stupid, but she’d been hoping….
What, Rivera, her mind mocks her, that Olivia magically forgave you and is on her way over here to sweep you off your feet?
“Yeah,” she answers after a moment, not sure who she’s answering. “Is there—“
“Emma wants to come over,” Olivia interrupts, sounding harried this time. Impatient. A hint of angry. Natalia shrinks back a little. “She misses you. She wants to eat dinner and watch a movie and pig out on junk food on the couch.” Despite herself, her voice has softened slightly when talking about her daughter.
“You know Emma’s always welcome here,” she says quietly, infusing her words with enough emotion to be sure that Olivia knows she’s not just talking about the little girl.
They so often talk in code.
Olivia snorts. “Can I trust you to be home at 6, or should I consult with Father Ray and Blake first to make sure?” she demands.
Natalia shuts her eyes, determined not to cry, even as she feels the hot pricks behind her eyelids. Not while she’s on the phone with Olivia; not when Emma will be over in an hour and she needs to start cooking.
“No,” she responds after a beat, and can hear the hint of tears in her own voice. She clears her throat. “That’s not necessary. I’ll be here.”
There is silence from the other end. “Alright.” Olivia’s voice is a tiny bit less harsh, and Natalia clings to it.
“Olivia—“ she tries, but Olivia cuts her off again.
“Phillip is dying.” She pauses, although it’s information Natalia already knew. “We told Emma three days ago. She needs you now. She’s going to need you even more. She asks about you all the time. She needs all the parents she can get.”
Natalia swallows. “I will always be there for Emma, for whatever she needs,” she vows lowly. “I would die for that kid.” (Christmas and keys and height charts. A simpler time.) She hears Olivia take a deep breath.
“If you do anything to disappoint my daughter, you will never see either of us again,” Olivia says. Her voice is trying for cold and professional, but there is heat underlying it, a low buzz of fury and warning and suspicion.
Natalia bites her lip, hard, as the first tear rolls down her face. “Okay,” she whispers.
“As long as we’ve got that straight.”
“Are you staying for dinner?” she can’t help asking. She already knows the answer, but she’s Catholic, which means she’s all about the self-flagellation.
“No.” Olivia doesn’t miss a beat, and Natalia’s heart cracks a little more. She bites her lip again to stop the whimper. She won’t be that undignified. Not over the phone.
“Okay,” she whispers for a second time, and is left with dead air. She drags in a shuddering breath, closes her phone, and starts cooking all of Emma’s favorite foods.
Later, after Emma has come and gone (not Olivia, because Olivia didn’t get out of the car when picking up or dropping off Emma, and Natalia was too cowardly to approach her but calls it common sense to make herself feel better), she sits on the couch with her favorite blanket (the one they used to curl up under when they watched movies) and cries.
She’s Catholic. She should be used to hard penance.
She has no one to blame but herself.
In the morning, Natalia wakes up cradling around her framed New Year’s Eve picture of the three of them. Love is patient, she tells herself, and does her best to lose herself in Blake’s books.