Fandom: Guiding Light
Rating: NC-17 (for lots of things)
Summary: Starts with the infamous scene with the OPT Pregnancy Test. Spins off from there into its own little universe.
Disclaimer: CBS, P&G, Telenext et. al. owns these characters; but I'm just taking them off the shelf and playing with them for a while.
Thanks to: Skeeterbop for harassing me til I paid attention, and Fewthistle and her Bossy Muse for goading my own til she talked.
If I didn't know better, I'd think you were pregnant.
The words had been said casually, almost flippantly - Natalia was only just getting to know Blake, but already she understood that Blake's most pointed observations usually sounded like an afterthought. It reminded her of Olivia, which might have had something to do with why she and Blake had fallen into such an instant friendship — only Blake tended to pause and think when one of her points hit home, while Olivia tended to just barrel through. Such a strange observation to be making, really, comparing her — girlfriend, soulmate, one true love? — to Blake Marler while peeing on a stick.
But Natalia had to do something to keep herself from going insane.
It couldn't be — she couldn't be pregnant. Not when she and Olivia were so close to moving forward. No more waiting, they'd told each other. Let's declare our independence and go to the barbeque together. The thought of it — unreal, the thought of it. To set all that fear behind and just choose to be together, no matter what Rafe or Frank or Father Ray or anyone else thought — was it really possible, that they could be doing this? That she could be doing this?
She set the test on the sink, then got up to wash her hands. She rubbed them dry on the towel, repeating the motion over and over until even the webbing between her fingers was completely dry. The towel slipped when she let it go, nearly falling to the floor. It's probably time for a clean one, she thought, automatically refolding the tan terrycloth into standard hotel formation. I know I just changed it this morning, but —
She sighed and let the towel drop unevenly onto the rack. Just start the timer.
She double-checked the information on the box, then set her phone for the appropriate number of minutes. Her stomach twisted, and for a moment she thought she was going to throw up again. But the feeling subsided, and she was able to slump back onto the closed lid of the toilet seat.
I just can't be pregnant. I can't.
"Natalia's been gone for a long time," Emma said.
Olivia scraped the butter she had been measuring into the mixing bowl, idly wondering just how much cholesterol was trapped in its congealed depths. That I must think about these things for the rest of my life is just unfair, she thought as she set the knife down. "Natalia's tummy is upset. She needs a couple minutes."
Emma's brows drew down, her mouth pursing in concern. "Maybe I should go check on her."
Olivia drew breath to say, "No, leave her be," but Emma got that look of pleading in her eyes, and Olivia realized there was no point in arguing. Probably time to check on her myself. Might as well let the Jellybean do reconnaisance.
"Okay, go see what's up," Olivia said, smiling as Emma scrambled through the door. The pattern of footsteps on the stairs was wrong, so she yelled "One at a time," at which point it shifted to the reassuring pound of eight year old feet hitting each step instead of every other one. What is it with that two at a time thing, she thought bemusedly as she washed her hands and headed upstairs.
Emma was standing outside the bathroom door, her little fist raised as if she was about to give the door a good pounding. Olivia caught her hand before it made contact with the wood, twirling Emma around in a pirouette. Emma giggled, craning her head back to look up at Olivia.
"Natalia?" Olivia called out softly. She rapped on the door with one knuckle, giving Emma a reassuring tug on her ponytail. "Sweetheart, are you all right?"
There was silence for a moment, and then Olivia heard a distracted, "Um, I'll be out in just a minute."
"Do you need some help?" Olivia asked, not liking the tone of Natalia's voice. There was something in it — a hint of — was that panic?
"No, I'm fine. There's nothing to worry about."
Olivia heard the lie in the words and reached for the doorknob. Wait, she heard. It was the voice of the new Olivia, the Olivia who was gentle and cautious and gave Natalia the space she needed. Don't barge in on her. Wait until she gets out, then talk to her.
"I'll just...I'll be downstairs in a minute, okay?" Natalia's voice was thick with the unmistakable sound of tears.
Fuck time and space, Olivia thought, shoving that patient, cautionary voice in the nearest mental closet and bolting the door. She crouched down in front of Emma so they were face to face and said, "Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you put the mixing bowl in the fridge and watch some TV for a little bit?"
"Are we still going to make the rice krispie treats?" Emma asked, her primary concern evident in her tone.
"I'm pretty sure we will, but I need to talk to Natalia about something first. Can you give us a few minutes?"
"Thank you, baby," Olivia said, planting a kiss on the tip of Emma's nose. Emma giggled and started downstairs, saying, "I know, one at a time" before Olivia could draw breath.
Olivia watched Emma plow down the steps and round the corner into the living room before turning to reach for the bathroom doorknob, hoping it wouldn't be locked. "Sweetheart, Emma's downstairs," she said as she turned the knob and pushed the door open. "Now what's going —"
Natalia was sitting atop the toilet lid, fully clothed, a home pregnancy test resting in front of her on the sink. Her eyes were wide and full of panic as they met Olivia's.
Olivia looked at Natalia, then at the debris of the pregnancy test — box, instructions, plastic wrapping — piled up in the sink. Then back at Natalia, who looked like a little girl, terrified she was about to get a spanking. Then back at the pregnancy test.
Olivia said, " Well, fuck."
No, Natalia thought as the door was pushed inward. No no no no you can't. But by then it was too late; Olivia was through the door, and Natalia watched her take it in — the test and everything it meant — while horror washed through her. This was it, this was how it was going to end, and all because she'd been too afraid to face what she was feeling five months ago.
"Well, fuck," Olivia said.
Natalia closed her eyes, letting her head fall forward. She felt the tears start, hot and stinging as the shame flooding her mind and body. She wanted to curl up in a ball and die. Just like before, she thought. Only this time it's not my parents I failed, but Olivia. And somehow, that's so much worse.
"Hey," she heard, and felt a hand touch her head. Olivia crouched beside her, her hands falling onto Natalia's shoulders. Gentle fingers touched Natalia's face, brushing at the thick tears scalding her skin. "Hey, Natalia, look at me."
"I'm sorry," Natalia whispered. She felt a sob well up, tried but failed to swallow it. "I'm so — so —"
"Honey," Olivia said, her tone gentle, with just a hint of scolding. Natalia felt those strong arms wrap around her, and she slumped, burying her head against Olivia's shoulder while she cried. Olivia's hand stroked up her back, lifting to the top of her head, then stroking down her hair, the motion repeating over and over until Natalia felt herself begin to calm. She swiveled her head, her face turning inward so that it was pressed against Olivia's neck and chest. She felt Olivia brush at her hairline, tucking her hair behind her ear, her thumb lifting to stroke Natalia's cheek.
"Better?" Olivia asked, her cheek resting against the crown of Natalia's head.
Natalia nodded, sniffling. Her body seemed to settle, sinking into Olivia's, and a warmth trickled through her veins. She inhaled the scent of Olivia's skin — the faint citrus fragrance of the soap she used, the subtle, smoky scent of the perfume she dabbed against the notch of her throat each morning. Underneath it all was the clean, sweet tang of her perspiration, that odd mix of warmth and strength and life that Natalia associated with Olivia. She breathed it in again, wanting to pull that strength inside her. She hoped it would be enough to get her through the next moments, when she had to tell Olivia that she — that she was —
She lifted her head and, in a soft voice, said, "I think I'm pregnant."
"Yeah." Olivia tilted her head to the side so that she could look at Natalia. "I got that."
"I don't know how it — I was —" Natalia swallowed a hiccup. "It was so long ago, and —"
"Okay, okay, stop." Olivia shifted back, lifting herself so that she could sit on the edge of the bathtub. She took Natalia's hands between her own, twisting them so that back of Natalia's hands were resting in each of her palms. She stroked her thumbs up and down Natalia's wrists, and Natalia felt that warmth flood through her again. It was like a drug, that warmth, soothing her — and yet she felt restless too. She looked at Olivia's mouth and caught herself wondering what it would be like to kiss it, what it would taste like, if her lips would be as soft as they looked, if —
"Natalia," Olivia said, a hint of sharpness in her tone.
Natalia felt her attention shift, dragging her back into the present and the reality she didn't want to face. "I'm sorry," she repeated, her head dropping forward.
"I know, but that's really not the point," Olivia said. "The point, honey, is how you could possibly think that you're pregnant?"
"Well, because I — I got sick and —" She forced herself to meet Olivia's gaze. "Blake said..."
One of Olivia's eyebrows quirked upward. "Blake said?"
"Yeah. Blake said that if she didn't know better, she'd think that I was pregnant. And since it's possible, what with Frank and —"
Natalia saw Olivia's face grow guarded. "But I thought it was just the one time with Frank, at the end of February."
"Oh it was!" Natalia shifted her hands, catching Olivia's wrists and pulling her hands up so that they rested against Natalia's chest. "It was, I swear, just that one time, I made him wait before the wedding and then —" She willed everything she felt into her gaze. "Since then I haven't even thought about anyone but you. Not once."
Natalia saw something flicker in Olivia's pale green eyes — relief, followed by what might have been pride. Olivia's lips creased in a gentle smile, and she pulled one of Natalia's hands toward her, kissing the back of it. Clutching Natalia's fingers between her own, she said, "Okay, so, if you only slept with Frank the one time, that would make you five months pregnant."
"I know," Natalia said, her mind reeling at the possibility. She felt tears well in her eyes again.
"Hey, hey, none of that. Stay with me here." Olivia hunched forward, her eyes sparkling with — was that mirth? Did she really think this was funny? "So in that five months, have you had your period?"
"A few times, but..." Natalia sighed. "I don't think that can rule it out. I'm really erratic and I hardly bleed at all. That's why it took so long for me to figure out I was pregnant with Rafe all those years ago."
"Okay, first, it is just unfair that you apparently have the easiest periods on the planet. Second, if you're getting periods, then you're probably not pregnant."
"Yeah, but..." Natalia took a deep breath. "I've gained eight pounds. And I've felt sick for days, and —"
Olivia bit her lip, looking like she was trying to hold back a grin. "Um, Natalia, I've gained weight too. Six pounds."
"Really?" Natalia couldn't help but glance over Olivia's body. "I can't see it."
"That's because love makes you blind." Olivia smiled at her. "Honey, between all the baking we've been doing lately and the pasteles left over from Rafe's birthday, no wonder you've gained a few pounds. Plus, you're not burning off calories the way you used to when you worked three jobs."
"I know, but..." Natalia rubbed her forehead. Is it possible I'm not pregnant? "I keep feeling sick."
"And if you were pregnant, you'd be in your second trimester. For most women, the morning sickness stops somewhere in the fourth month." Olivia fixed her with her gaze. "What do you remember from Rafe?"
"I didn't —" Natalia thought back, a dawning awareness spreading through her. "Oh my God. I'm not pregnant."
Olivia shook her head, a laugh bubbling out of her. "No, you're really not pregnant."
"I'm not pregnant!" Natalia lunged at Olivia, wrapping her up in a hug so big that Olivia almost lost her balance. She yelped, bracing her hands against the sides of the tub to keep from falling in, and Natalia had to wrap her arms around Olivia's waist and hoist to get her back onto the edge of the tub. "Boy, now that you mention it, I can really feel those six pounds."
Olivia gasped. "Why, you..." she exclaimed, but she was laughing as she said it. She reached past Natalia, snagging the pregnancy test from the sink, and held it up so they both could see it. "See? There's 20 bucks you'll never see again."
Natalia snatched the stick out of Olivia's hand and tossed it into the garbage, letting out a relieved sigh. "I'm sorry, I just got so scared and — everything Blake was saying, it made me wonder if it was possible and then —"
Olivia shook her head. "Honey, I think Blake is great, but she is not someone to go to with pregnancy questions. I mean, this is a woman who thought she was pregnant with twins by different fathers."
Natalia stared at Olivia, waiting for the punchline. When none came, she blinked, and tried to wrap her brain around it, and blinked again. "Really?"
"Really." Olivia nodded. "I was friends with her mother Holly, so I know the whole story."
"No, but." Natalia felt her mind doing its best to compute how that could happen. She blinked again. "Really?"
"Just go with it," Olivia advised, tucking a tendril of hair behind Natalia's ear. "So, now that the pregnancy scare is behind you, we need to figure out why you're getting sick. And I think I know the answer."
"Yeah?" Natalia felt her eyelids flutter at the feel of Olivia's hand against her cheek. Her stomach lurched, not from nausea this time, but from that strange, warm feeling that ran through her whenever Olivia touched her. She took a breath and tried not to stare at Olivia's mouth. "Why's that?"
"Well in case you hadn't noticed, it's a sauna in here," Olivia said. "You need air conditioning, or at least some fans, to cool this house off."
"It's not that bad," Natalia said. "When Rafe and I lived in Chicago..."
"When you and Rafe lived in Chicago you were a single mom with barely any income," Olivia said. "Now you have a decent job — I mean it better be decent or I'm going to need to kick Blake's ass over more than getting you all freaked out over this non-existent pregnancy — and you can afford to do something about it. An air conditioner up here to clear the heat out. Some ceiling fans. Hell, I'll buy them for you because there is no way that I'm living —"
Olivia caught herself, her eyes dropping. She pulled back, just an inch, but enough for Natalia to feel the distance.
"You need better ventilation up here," Olivia said softly. "Fix that, and my guess is you'll start feeling better."
"Olivia," Natalia said, feeling something in her shatter at how much being patient was costing Olivia. She shifted forward, closing the distance between them. "I think maybe — it's time for —"
Olivia's head lifted, and Natalia could see the uncertainty swimming in those eyes. So vulnerable, she thought, feeling herself being pulled into those depths. So afraid. I'm so tired of seeing her afraid.
It was such a small amount of space, really, between her mouth and Olivia's. Natalia had thought it would be frightening to cross that traverse, but it was the simplest thing in the world when it came down to it. Just the slightest move forward and their lips were touching, their breath was mingling, their bodies were so close together. Not touching — not yet. But then Natalia's hand was threading through Olivia's hair and Olivia's fingertips were on Natalia's waist and Olivia's mouth was moving against hers, the touch so delicate that Natalia felt like she was going to melt. They pulled back by mutual consent, their foreheads pressed together, Olivia's soft exhales caressing Natalia's cheek.
"Not exactly where I expected that to happen," Olivia murmured.
"Me either." Natalia smiled and brushed a kiss against Olivia's cheek. "But then we never do what's expected, do we?"
"No." Olivia stroked her hand up and down Natalia's back, and Natalia had to fight back a shiver. "Come on, let's get back downstairs before Emma decides to hop the nearest bus."
"Oh, Emma!" Natalia exclaimed, guilt washing through her. "I abandoned our rice krispie treats."
"I had her put everything in the fridge when I came in here." Olivia grinned. "Besides, as hot as it is in this house, the marshmallows probably melted by themselves."
"Very funny!" Natalia exclaimed, getting to her feet. She tossed the pregnancy test packaging into the trash and washed her hands. "Just for that, I'm not letting you have any of my marshmallows."
Olivia leaned against the shower wall, a smirk creasing her face. She raised one eyebrow, her head cocked to one side.
"You —" Natalia sputtered, feeling herself turn several shades of scarlet.
"Did I say anything?" Olivia said, raising her hands.
"You're the picture of innocence," Natalia said as she opened the bathroom door. "Butter wouldn't melt in your mouth."
She thought she heard Olivia muttter, "No but something else would."
"What'd you say?" she exclaimed, turning on one heel.
"Me?" Olivia pushed herself to her feet, her eyes dancing. "I didn't say a thing."
Natalia narrowed her eyes at the older woman, then decided to let it go.
But when the butter was melting for the rice krispie treats, she couldn't stop blushing.