Pairing: Olivia Spencer/Natalia Rivera.
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: As usual, thanks to seftiri for the beta!
The next part will probably not be out for at least a week; my apologies on the delay. But the next part is becoming wildly long and I've had company the past week, so I've gotten absolutely no writing done. Sorry! It will be up ASAP, of course.
Parts 1-2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5A.
The decision is made without her conscious mind’s input. One minute, she is locking eyes—again—with Natalia; the next she is up, on her feet, noting—with no little irony—that she’s chasing Natalia Rivera. Again.
Damn, she moves fast for a pregnant woman, Olivia thinks, exasperated, as Natalia is all the way at the end of the hallway, ready to turn the corner, before Olivia swallows her pride enough to ask her to wait. She pulls up with whatever dignity she has left, studying Natalia.
Natalia looks scared. Olivia knows she’s responsible for it; she’d laid into Natalia mercilessly outside of Company, hasn’t been much better on the phone or in person since, and she still feels (infuriatingly) guilty about their fight. Not that Natalia hadn’t deserved any of it, but Olivia herself had been intentionally cold and cruel, intentionally hurtful. And while on some level she’d found it fulfilling, on a deeper level it had been…unsatisfying and guilt-inducing in a creeping, self-loathing way she hadn’t expected, that she’d never experienced before, and that she found horribly obnoxious. She’d almost had the impulse to apologize—apologize--to Natalia. How utterly ludicrous. And galling.
Christ, Natalia Rivera has fucked her life up in more ways than one.
It makes her want to—
But she can’t. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
And it scares her more than she can say that she’s thinking of ‘yets,’ not ‘evers.’
“Natalia, I—thanks.” Olivia jams her hands in her pockets, awkward, not meeting Natalia’s eyes, but knowing she needs to say this. She’s trying to be better, after all, for herself and for her daughter. “You didn’t have to do that for Emma. I really appreciate it. I know she does, too.”
Natalia snorts softly. “I did,” she says. Olivia blinks.
“Have to do that for Emma,” Natalia clarifies. She gives Olivia a wry, sad half-grin. “She—I think of her as a daughter, Olivia. In my heart, she’s my daughter as much as Rafe is my son. I couldn’t have walked away once I saw her in there any more than I could have stopped breathing.”
At her words, Olivia almost stops breathing, herself. She doesn’t know if Natalia has ever so boldly stated these words. Not like this. Despite everything, it makes her heart sing.
Oh, Natalia. We could have had it all.
No anger this time, only a profound sadness.
“I—I’m sorry,” she hears Natalia stammer, and she realizes that she’d drifted into her own thoughts for a moment. “I wasn’t—I don’t mean to overstep—“
It’s Olivia’s turn to laugh, softly. She gives in to the impulse to lean against the nearest wall, crossing her arms across her chest, as she meets Natalia’s eyes, letting the tiniest fraction of her guard drop. From the way Natalia’s eyes widen, she sees that Natalia sees it, and she marvels again that this woman knows her so well. That she can coax Olivia out of hiding, despite her best efforts.
“You’re not overstepping,” she assures Natalia quietly, even as the other woman bites her lip. The thing is, Natalia’s really not. Whatever her own relationship with Natalia might be, Olivia wants--has always wanted--Emma to be happy and cared for and loved, and Natalia provides all of that and more. Tearing Natalia away from Emma would be the cruelest thing Olivia could do to her beloved younger daughter. “You’re not. Emma loves you. You’re her other mommy. That’s all that matters.”
Natalia’s eyes flood with tears, and she opens her mouth. But Olivia can’t hear it, not yet (ever), so she cuts her off.
“How’s the baby?” It’s forced and awkward, and Natalia slams her mouth shut once Olivia asks and swallows.
“Good, good,” Natalia says. “All good in there.” She touches her stomach protectively, a smile bursting across her features that she can’t help, and Olivia wonders again at her beauty. “He’s looking perfect, the doctors said.”
“A boy?” Olivia asks, not really surprised. Somehow that’s what she had thought the baby would be. “Do you have a name picked out yet?”
Natalia tilts her head and studies Olivia gently for a moment. Olivia blinks, suddenly discomfited.
“I have a few ideas,” she finally says, and Olivia can’t figure out why she’s this uncomfortable.
“Mommy! Natalia!” The spell is broken by Phillip and Emma, walking hand in hand down the hallway. Olivia takes one look at Phillip’s grim, set expression, and her brow furrows. She’s aware of Natalia watching them both carefully.
“Phillip?” she asks carefully as they reach her, as Emma releases Phillip’s hand and finds her own. Phillip meets her eyes.
“James,” he says simply, his tone and the one word communicating more than enough, and Olivia shakes her head, pursing her lips. James is taking precious days off his father’s life, she fully believes. What a jackass the boy is. She touches Phillip’s arm in sympathy.
“Go,” she says with a gentle nod, and with a quick hug and kiss for Emma, he does so. Once he’s gone, she turns to Emma.
“You ready to blow this popsicle stand, Jellybean?”
But Emma is looking up at her and uh-oh, Olivia’s warning klaxons are going off at full volume. She knows that look.
Her daughter is plotting.
Uh-oh. She already knows that Emma is going to be hell on earth as a teenager. Fleetingly, Olivia hopes that Natalia will rub off enough on Emma to mitigate the worst of it. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Natalia’s expression turn wary, as well. Heh.
“Mommy, can we do whatever I want to tonight, because it’ll help me feel better?”
Olivia’s eyes almost bug out; she thinks she hears Natalia choke a little beside her. Her kid is way too damn smart.
“Within reason, Em,” she finally says, and Emma smiles. Olivia isn’t fooled for a second by the look of innocence.
“Can we eat at Company and go to the farmhouse and watch movies and feed the ducks and eat popcorn and sleep there tonight so Natalia can read me my bedtime story and make us pancakes in the morning?”
Natalia’s aware that her eyes are roughly the size of a surprised cartoon character’s (if she’s Tweety, is Olivia Sylvester? Or is it more accurate to say that she’s the Roadrunner and Olivia’s Wile E. Coyote?) and her mouth is hanging open.
But, really. Only Olivia’s daughter would have the audacity to ask…that.
Natalia looks at Olivia, eyes and mouth still wide open, to find Olivia looking back at her, just as flabbergasted. They stare at each other for a moment, strained emotions temporarily forgotten.
“Uh, Em, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Olivia finally recovers, breaking their eye contact and shaking her head.
Emma starts to pout. Natalia feels a sympathetic pain in her own heart, even as Emma kicks the pout up another gear.
Oh, shit, Natalia panics, then winces as she realizes she’ll have to say an extra Hail Mary tomorrow for cursing. Darn it.
“Why not?” Emma crosses her arms, setting her heels in. She’s frowning.
Natalia rubs her temples, even as Olivia rubs her nose. Uh-oh. A cranky and determined Emma? Very not good. Natalia decides to stay out of this particular exchange. Particularly because she wants to scream “Yes, yes, yes!” and drag them both home and never, ever let them go ever again. At least until Emma has school and she and Olivia have at least twenty orgasms between them and oh my God I need to stop thinking about these things in front of Emma! Natalia feels the blush heating her face, prays that neither Olivia nor Emma notices. Pregnancy is hell (oops, another one) on her hormones.
Not that she can blame the hormones, if she’s honest with herself.
Wait. God. Is this a sign?
“Well, baby, we can’t just invite ourselves over. It’s really bad manners, it’s not polite. Besides, Natalia might have plans. Other stuff to do.”
“Oh.” Emma blinks before she swings her eyes to Natalia, and now, now she’s doing her best puppy dog eyes. Couldn’t Olivia have gotten those? Natalia panics again. “But Natalia said we’re always welcome.” Emma swings expectant eyes towards her mother and then back to Natalia, who winces at being dragged in, and pauses for a moment to think.
Finally, she exhales. This one isn’t too bad. “Of course you two are always welcome at the farmhouse,” she says, daring a fleeting glance at Olivia. Olivia’s face has closed again. “But you have to check it with your mom first, always, okay? No more sneaking off to the buses alone. You can't do that to come to me, Emma, okay?”
“Okay,” Emma says. She pauses for another moment. “Do you have other stuff to do tonight, Natalia?”
She’s caught completely flat-footed at that, marveling at Emma's sly intelligence, fighting what her head tells her and what her heart wants and the resolution she made to herself, on a cold and lonely morning on her knees in front of the retreat altar, to never ever lie to Emma or Olivia ever again.
“I, uh, well, um…I was going to cook dinner and read and maybe watch some TV and call Rafe…so, um, kind of, but….” Natalia trails off, fully aware that she’s not convincing anyone (does she really want to?) and that Emma has brightened, sensing victory.
“Then can we come over tonight?” Natalia swears she can see Emma almost lick her lips. We’ll be lucky if Olivia’s heart holds out until she gets to college.
Buzz’s words echo through her ear. She makes her decision. Olivia may get angry, but let her. At least she'll be angry about something different; and anger, with them, has always meant progress.
“It’s okay with me, honey. But it’s up to your mom.”
In perfect unison, they swing a matching pair of puppy dog eyes at Olivia.
Olivia gives her a scathing glare, and Natalia merely arches an eyebrow. What? her eyebrow demands, and Olivia glares even harder. You’re not helping!
Natalia resists the urge to stick her tongue out. She settles for a careless shrug and sees Olivia grind her teeth. Heh.
Olivia turns back to Emma. “Em—“ she starts, but Emma cuts her off.
“Please, Mommy, can’t we? It’ll make me feel better. Please, Mommy,” she implores, turning the dog eyes up a notch, and Olivia—the big softy—melts.
“I don’t know,” Olivia temporizes, but Natalia cuts her off. She’s determined, now. This is a sign. This is her opportunity, and clearly what she’s been doing isn’t working. Time for her to take the initiative. Try something new.
“Yeah, Olivia, why don’t you just come over after we all get dinner? We can have a movie night after, just like we used to, and you two can sleep at the house,” Natalia says, flashing her best dimples at Olivia. She’s not an idiot, and she’s desperate. This is a big honking sign from the man upstairs (and when did her thoughts on religion start to sound like Olivia? And does she need to say another prayer for the borderline disrespect?). If Olivia won’t take her calls, won’t voluntarily talk to her, well, she’s willing to fight dirty (really dirty she thinks, and blushes again) to get time with the other woman, to convince her of…everything.
Olivia’s eyes snap to Natalia’s face, letting her know in no uncertain terms that she does not appreciate the two-on-one. Natalia keeps her smile and her innocent look intact, though, underlaid by a steely resolve mixed with confidence, and eventually Olivia folds, as Natalia knew she would.
“Okay,” she mutters to both of them. “Okay. Happy?”
Natalia resists the urge to bust out her best joyful ‘I love Olivia’ dance, even as Emma cheers and gives Natalia a big hug. She ignores the fact that Olivia looks like she’s headed to her execution, and hugs Emma back.
This girl, Natalia decides as she steers Emma toward the discharge station, is getting a puppy come next Christmas.