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] [Part 20] [Part 21] [Part 22] [Part 23] [Part 24] [Part 25] [Part 26] [Part 27] [Part 28] [Part 29] [Part 30]
It was very rare indeed for Olivia to be awake before Natalia. Everyone knew Natalia was a morning person while Olivia was a night owl. Back when she'd lived at the farmhouse, Olivia had often woken at the last possible minute, only to find that Natalia had been up for hours cooking breakfast or cleaning or baking bread. It was a given, like a simple universal constant. Natalia would wake up before Olivia.
Not this morning. This morning the sun rose on two women; one sleeping and one wakeful, and the wakeful one was wrapped around the sleeper as tightly as she could manage. Olivia breathed deeply and slowly, timing each rise and fall of her chest to synchronise with her lover's. She barely blinked. Her eyes rested on Natalia's face, relaxed and peaceful in her much deserved sleep. Olivia herself had not slept. At first she'd been too wired, too full of nervous excitement to even think about closing her eyes. Then, after hours of slow, gentle lovemaking, that had slowly ebbed away to be replaced by a bone deep contentment that strangely chased the need for sleep. She sighed, watching her breath travel across Natalia's cheek, raising the tiny, almost invisible hairs that dusted it.
Revelation. That was the only word to describe what had happened between them. A new heaven and a new Earth. The world had changed, or...no...that wasn't true. Olivia had changed. Loving Natalia had torn her down to her foundations but last night Natalia had rebuilt her, piece by piece, with her hands and her eyes and her whispered devotions, and with all that remained unspoken in the vocabulary and grammar of their bodies' silent language.
Natalia stirred in her arms, burrowing closer to her heart. "Morning," she murmured, and pressed her lips to the thin scar bisecting her lover's chest.
"Morning," Olivia replied. Natalia raised up to claim her lips, and then there was no more talking until the sun had risen high in the sky.
"We should eat," Natalia said, much, much later as she lay in Olivia's arms, tracing patterns on her stomach.
"Hmm." Olivia seemed to consider the idea. "Can't we just stay here forever?" There was a laugh in her voice, but something wistful too. She didn't particularly want to leave the bubble of the bedroom, the farmhouse, the moment. The world was still out there, and it was still cruel. Natalia tightened her hold on her lover's waist.
"Everything's fine," she whispered, answering the unspoken question. "We're together. We don't need anything else."
Olivia nodded. "Right," she confirmed, and the quiet determination in Natalia's voice felt like the last piece of her life's puzzle clicking into place deep inside her.
"Come on," Natalia urged, pulling away. "Food. I have to go see Rafe today."
Olivia's ears perked up at the mention of Natalia's son. "Does he...uh...does he know? About...well..."
"About us?" Natalia looked over her shoulder as she wrapped herself in a robe. "Yeah, he does." Olivia swallowed hard.
"Is he okay with it?"
Natalia pursed her lips. "Let's talk about that later," she said diplomatically. That was all the answer Olivia needed.
"I'm going to take a shower," she said. "I'll be right down."
Natalia decided not to protest but, knowing that Olivia would probably let a few doubts seep back in while they were separated, she made sure she took the second of Olivia's gifts downstairs with her.
Olivia strolled into the kitchen twenty minutes later dressed in jeans and a tank top, rubbing her hair with a towel. "Listen, sweetheart, about Rafe-" she began, but Natalia hushed her with a kiss.
"Sit," she instructed firmly. "And open your present." She gestured to the box resting on top of Olivia's plate. Olivia raised an eyebrow.
"Another present?" She twisted the ring on her finger, allowing a smile to ghost over her lips. Natalia kissed her briefly before returning to the stove.
"Another present," she confirmed, and smiled. "Go on. Open it."
Olivia slid into the chair and took up the box with slightly trembling hands. Could this be more jewellery, she wondered. What could Natalia possibly want to give her that she hadn't already? She pulled the ribbon away and opened the box.
It was a key.
Olivia's hand flew to her mouth. A soft "oh..." escaped her lips and Natalia turned, smiling down at her dumb-struck lover.
"I know you already have one," she explained gently. "But I thought this might be...symbolic." She crossed the room and took the hey, holding it up to the light. "See? It's engraved." Olivia squinted, and finally made out the gently flowing Olivia scratched into the metal.
"Does this mean..." she said softly, trailing off when she couldn't find the words. Natalia smiled.
"It means I want you to move in," she said simply. "You and Emma. Today, tomorrow...as soon as possible."
Olivia looked down. "What about Rafe?" she asked. Natalia stood up a little straighter.
"Rafe won't be a problem," she said firmly. Unspoken was the addendum I won't let him, but Olivia heard it anyway. She smiled tremulously.
"Really?" Natalia nodded.
"Really." She reached out and pushed a strand of damp hair behind her lover's ear. Olivia leaned into the touch.
"But what if he can't deal with it?" she asked softly.
Natalia sat down and pulled her chair closer to Olivia's. Taking both her hands, she stared into her eyes. "I know my son," she said gently, but firmly. "He's confused right now, but he wants me to be happy. I know he does. He's going to understand. I will make him understand. I promise." Her eyebrows raised. "Do you trust me?"
"I trust you," Olivia answered immediately. Natalia smiled. "But what if things don't...work?" Olivia cringed as she spoke, hardly able to believe the words were coming out of her mouth. But she couldn't help it. Every past experience, every instinct, every failed relationship she'd ever had told her that this was too good to be true. There was a brick out there somewhere just waiting to hit her in the head. There had to be. "Maybe...I don't know, maybe we should wait?"
Natalia didn't speak as she laced the fingers of her left hand with Olivia's. A stray beam of light glinted off their rings. "Olivia," she began seriously. "I belong to you. You belong to me. We've already shared everything that's important. There's nothing to be afraid of, and I am so done with waiting. That's all we've been doing is waiting, from the first second we explained to each other how we feel. First you tried to push me away and then I had to leave town and then I had to work through all these issues...and you know, what I realised is that I've been waiting my whole life to deal with them. Waiting officially sucks. And I don't want to wait one more minute for our life to start. This is what I want. This love, this home, this family. Do you understand?"
When she replied, Olivia's voice was shaky. "Yes."
"So, you'll move back in." It wasn't a question, but Olivia answered anyway
"I'll call the movers today."
Natalia beamed, lighting up the whole room with her smile. Olivia couldn't help but smile back. After all, Natalia was right. There was nothing to be afraid of. Not now; not ever again.
* * * * * *
The halfway house really wasn't so bad - not compared to jail anyway. Rafe had his own room which locked from the inside. He was allowed to go out - with a pass - almost whenever he liked. There were work programmes, and educational opportunities.
He hadn't been appreciating it much over the last few days though. He'd been preoccupied; thinking about his mother and the bombshell she'd dropped on him.
Gay. His mother was gay. He turned the word over and over in his head, examining it from every angle. Gay. And for Olivia, of all people.
Olivia. The woman who'd tried to destroy his family, who'd stolen their house and their plans for the future and Gus's heart and now - apparently - his mother's love. It wasn't fair. Why did she always get everything?
"Rivera!" Rafe snapped his head up at the sound of his name. "Visitor for you."
He looked behind the man who'd called him and saw his mother waiting behind him, dressed formally in dark pants and a jacket, like she was on her way to work. His heart lifted for a brief moment, but just as quickly he quashed the feeling. Sullenly, he sloped over to the communal dining tables and slumped into a chair. His mother smiled at him as she slid into the seat opposite.
"How are you?" she asked cheerily. Rafe shrugged. She tried again. "Is everything going okay since you got back?" Another shrug. She sighed deeply. Well, if that was they way he wanted it to be...
"I just came to tell you," she said quietly, "that Olivia and Emma are moving back home."
Slowly he raised his eyes to meet hers. "What?" There was no expression in his voice. Natalia smiled.
"Olivia and Emma are moving back home," she repeated clearly. Rafe shook his head.
"Home? What the hell are you talking about, Ma? It's our home, not hers!"
"Oh, Rafe..." Natalia shook her head and sighed. "It's her home too-"
"No!" Rafe interrupted explosively. "It's supposed to be for us. You and me, like it always was before." He slammed his hand down on the table, and Natalia suddenly saw a three year old throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, demanding candy. Before his diagnosis, she'd always given in to demands like that - keep him quiet, show him he's loved, those were her mantras in those days.
"It's Olivia's home," Natalia insisted calmly, "because it's my home and I've invited her to share it."
Rafe threw himself back in his chair. "It's not fair," he whined. For a moment he wasn't sure what else to say, but then inspiration struck. "You should have asked me before you did this."
One of Natalia's eyebrows shot into her hairline. "Asked you?" Her voice lowered dangerously. "You think I need your permission?"
"Yes!" he replied instinctively, then quickly shook his head. "I mean no...I mean....I just mean that this affects me too. Don't I get a say? We've always made decisions together before." He rubbed his face with his hands, and Natalia felt a little pang of regret for the pain and confusion this was obviously causing him.
"Oh Rafe...you're nearly an adult," she murmured, reaching over to take his hand. "And you're not just my son; you've been my best friend for half my life."
"Exactly!" Rafe exclaimed, gripping his mother's hand almost painfully. She motioned for him to let her continue.
"I think that might be the problem."
For a moment, Rafe made no reply. "Huh?" His brow crinkled in confusion and Natalia bit her lip.
"Since the day you were born," she began, slowly, hesitantly, "I've lived for you." She thought for a moment. "Since before you were born, actually." Rafe squirmed in his seat at the uncomfortable reminder of the lengths his mother had gone to all those years ago to protect him, even while he was still in the womb. He'd been thinking about that a lot lately - morbid thoughts, but he couldn't stop them. How much easier it would have been for his mother just to have the abortion she'd heard her parents talking about. Then there would be no Rafe Rivera at all. Just like his own child with Daisy, who he still thought of sometimes, that never got a chance to live.
"I know," he said softly. Natalia squeezed his hand.
"I love you," she said firmly. "But I should never have let you be the only thing in my life. It wasn't fair...not to you, and not to me. I think...I don't know, I think I've given you a screwed up view of the world where you're just at the centre of everything." Rafe opened his mouth to protest, but Natalia just raised her voice and drowned him out. "I've tried so, so hard to be everything you need. I've tried to be mother and father and friend and sibling to you - all at the same time. But it doesn't work like that."
"You are all I need, ma," he whispered fiercely. In that moment, he even believed it himself. Natalia shook her head sadly.
"That's not true, Rafe," she said. "You need more than me." She took a deep breath. "And I need more than you."
There it was, living in the air, the crux of the issue. Rafe pulled his hand from his mother's as if he'd been burned. "You're talking about her," he spat. "Why? Why her?"
"Because I love her," Natalia answered simply. Rafe shook his head.
"No!" he insisted. "You don't! Not that way, ma!"
Natalia's spine straightened and her voice dropped. "Don't tell me how I feel," she said, quietly but clearly. Her voice cut through his frustration, forcing him to pay attention to her.
"She took advantage of you," he muttered, but it was half-hearted. Some of the fight seemed to have gone out of him. Natalia smiled at him and shook her head.
"You're wrong," she said. "I didn't know who I was before. And now I do." She took a deep breath, gathering her thoughts. "You probably think she has a reputation," she said. "And I don't know, maybe she does. She has a strong personality, but that's what I love about her. She makes me feel better about myself." He flinched, remembering her speech in the car about how the mother he thought he knew didn't like herself very much. She reached for him as she continued. "When I'm with her it feels right. And I need her."
For a long moment he stared at the table, unable to speak. Her left hand was lying flat on the surface of the table and his eyes were fixed on the thin band of white gold encircling her ring finger. "This is so weird," he muttered at last, and closed his eyes. He heard his mother stand and come round the table to hover over him.
"It's not weird, Rafe," she said firmly. "It's love." She leaned down to kiss him on the forehead and he let her. Her spirits lifted. That was something, at least. In Chicago he'd yelled out Don't touch me! when she'd first tried to talk about this. This was progress, of a limited kind. "I'll come back and talk to you some more tomorrow," she said.
Opening his eyes, Rafe watched her go. His thoughts swirled like a tornado in his head, slamming together and crackling, refusing to be pinned down. His mom looked at him over her shoulder as she left and smiled. She looked happy. He'd said that was all he wanted, hadn't he?
With a sigh, Rafe dragged himself to his feet and headed back to his room. This was too much for him to deal with right now. He couldn't think about it anymore. Not today.
But tomorrow. Tomorrow was another day.
* * * * * *
The movers were booked solid for a week, Olivia found when she called them. Unwilling to wait that long, she enlisted Emma the minute she got back from school and started packing all the things they would need urgently.
"Are we going on vacation again, mom?" Emma asked hesitantly. Going to Chicago had been fun, but she'd already missed a lot of school. Jodie had overtaken her on the teacher's merit chart, and she was sure Cornelius the class hamster had forgotten her.
Olivia beamed at her daughter. "Nope," she said, almost bubbling over with excitement. "We're going home."
Emma's eyes widened. "Home? You mean...to the farmhouse?"
"Uh huh." Olivia nodded, and then had to brace herself as she was nearly bowled over by four feet of excited nine year old.
"I knew it!" she exclaimed, and scampered off to pack her things. Olivia smiled. Now that she thought of it, Emma had known she and Natalia belonged together before they did. Crossing to her bedside cabinet, she made sure to pack her printout of Emma's My Two Mommies presentation. Maybe she and Natalia could read over it in bed.
Olivia sent Emma upstairs to unpack her stuff when they got back to the farmhouse. Then, leaving her own suitcases and boxes in the living room, she headed through to the kitchen to start dinner. Something simple, she thought. She and Natalia didn't need anything fancy to be romantic. They never had.
She'd barely even begun when a loud knocking erupted from the living room. Frowning, she headed to the front door to answer it.
"Doris!" she said in surprise when she saw who was waiting on the other side of the door. "Blake! What are you guys doing here..." She trailed off, suddenly spotting the angry purple bruise forming on Doris's left temple. Surprise turned to concern in an instant. "What happened?" Blake slipped a comforting arm around the Mayor's shoulders and sighed as she turned to Olivia.
"I think our Mayor is experiencing a little bit of backlash."
A/N - And since I'm casting all my original characters, meet Cornelius...