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; I'm just taking them off the shelf and playing with them for a while.
Author's note: You get this chapter early because I'm out of town this weekend; it'll be late next week before another update occurs. Fair warning!
"We forgot to buy salad," Natalia said.
Olivia shifted her gaze from her laptop to Natalia, who was standing by the stove with a perturbed look on her face. "I — was that on the list?"
"No, but I was supposed to get some." Natalia shrugged. "I guess I was a little distracted at the store."
"Must have been that miracle baby sucking your brain cells away, " Olivia couldn't help but say.
Natalia gave her a stern look, but Olivia could tell she was trying hard not to laugh. "Fine, fine, I'm a dope. But, see, I can think now...and so we need salad."
"Don't you have a few cans of green beans stashed somewhere?" Olivia asked as she logged off her email.
Natalia threw a glance over her shoulder, her eyes sparking. "Well yes, but I've tried getting you to eat green beans before, and it hasn't been pretty."
Olivia pushed her chair back, rising. She crossed the short distance between the table and the counter so that she could stand beside Natalia, who was putting together one of her homemade lasagnas. She had changed into jeans and a loose-fitting pink blouse a little while earlier, and Olivia couldn't help but notice how perfectly both fit her slender figure, eight extra pounds be damned. Olivia reached out her left hand, pressing it lightly to the small of Natalia's back, and felt the muscles jump against her hand. Aha, she thought, feeling a tingle run up her arm. The tingle spread, becoming a heat that suffused her whole body as she moved to stand directly behind Natalia.
"How many servings of vegetables have you had today?" Natalia asked, her voice soft and breathy. She reached for the package of parmesan at the far end of the counter.
Olivia grabbed the plastic bag first, her breasts brushing against Natalia's back as she stretched to reach it. She guided it to Natalia's hand, sliding her fingertips up the length of Natalia's forearm as she let go. "Do Rice Krispies count?"
Natalia's voice faltered as Olivia stepped forward so that the length of her front was all but touching Natalia's back. Olivia let her left hand come around to rest on Natalia's waist, her right still stroking the smooth skin of Natalia's forearm. She tipped her chin against Natalia's shoulder, her head turned so that her exhales would trickle across Natalia's neck.
"Rice Krispies are made of rice. That's a vegetable, right?"
"Actually, it's a grain." Natalia shifted back, closing the fraction of distance between them, and Olivia's breath caught as their bodies sank together. Olivia wrapped her left arm around Natalia's waist, feeling Natalia take in a deep breath and let it go. She slid her right hand up to rest on Natalia's shoulder, turning her head fully into Natalia's neck and breathing her in.
"It's really unfair of you to do this when my hands are covered in lasagna and I'd have to move to wash them," Natalia said.
Olivia nuzzled her nose into Natalia's neck and began to sidestep them over to the sink. Natalia laughed, her head falling back against Olivia's shoulder, and Olivia brushed her cheek against the dark silk of Natalia's hair. When they made it to the sink, Olivia squeezed Natalia tight against her. For a moment, they both stood paralyzed, caught in the cocoon of their embrace. Finally, Natalia murmured, "Olivia, let me wash my hands."
"Why?" Olivia brushed a kiss against Natalia's neck, her body melting at the feel of that soft skin against her lips.
"Because if you don't..." Natalia hesitated, and Olivia felt her swallow, a tremble running through her. "If you don't, I'm going to get tomato sauce and parmesan cheese all over your shirt."
"Oh." Olivia grinned into Natalia's hair, relaxing her grip long enough that Natalia could lean forward and wash the lasagna ingredients from her hands. Olivia kept her hands loosely atop Natalia's abdomen, resisting the urge to slip one hand beneath the cotton of Natalia's untucked shirt. Too much too fast and you'll ruin it, she told herself. This time, savor every step.
Still, it seemed like a handwashing session worthy of someone with OCD. Olivia fought the urge to pull Natalia close again, her lungs tight from the strain of needing to have Natalia's body against hers. She'd felt desire before, but never like this; never so pure, unsullied by motives or calculation. She just needed Natalia, like she needed light and air. It was distinctly different, and yet on some level the same, as the way she needed Emma and Ava. She's mine now, Olivia realized. As much a part of me as my girls.
Natalia reached for the hand towel, wiping her hands, and set it down on the counter. She shifted, and Olivia loosened her arms, stepping back just enough that Natalia could swivel around to face her. Her hands fell to Natalia's back, pulling her close as Natalia's hands lifted to touch Olivia's face.
"I love you," Natalia whispered, something akin to wonder in her voice. "I never thought...how it could...but I do."
"So articulate," Olivia teased, pressing a kiss into Natalia's palm.
"Stop making fun of me," Natalia whispered, moving forward so that their hips were pressed together. She let one hand fall to Olivia's neck, her thumb brushing gently against Olivia's throat. She blinked, her eyes straying to the outside door. "You know, Emma could come bounding in here at any second."
Olivia nodded, unable to tear her eyes away from Natalia's face. "Then I suppose you'd better hurry up and kiss me."
"Me?" Natalia let loose a dimpled grin, her eyes sparkling. "I think it's your turn."
"I suppose that's..." Olivia leaned forward, so close that she could feel her own breath brush across Natalia's lips. "Only fair."
"I think —"
Olivia didn't let her finish, instead crossing the distance to press her lips against Natalia's in the briefest of touches. Olivia dragged her upper lip across Natalia's, caught Natalia's lower lip between her own, released. She shifted her head, changing the angle, and closed the distance again, her right hand sliding up to cradle the back of Natalia's head, to caress even as she guided Natalia toward where the next kiss would be. It continued for — Olivia didn't know for how long, somewhere along the way her internal clock just stopped working — but that didn't really matter, because Natalia's fingers were tangling in her hair and her other arm was wrapped around Olivia's back and their bodies were pressed together, not hard, not yet, but Olivia caught a glimpse of what that would be like and she wanted it, so badly —
— and yet their kisses remained gentle and sweet. Potent, yet innocent.
They pulled away slowly, their faces almost touching, arms and hands gently cradling still. Natalia cleared her throat, her lips nuzzling Olivia's cheek, and murmured, "Corn."
"Um." Olivia pulled back to look at Natalia's face, her eyes narrowing with worry. "Did I break you?"
Natalia laughed. "Sweet corn instead of salad. Mr. Williams down the road is selling it."
"You mean the big farm before the fork in the road that had that horrible smell a few months ago?"
"Yes, well, that horrible smell means sweet corn now. So go get some while I get the lasagna in the oven, and then we'll have dinner."
Olivia unleashed her best pout. "You know, I really would eat my green beans."
"Sure you would." Natalia smiled and lifted up on tiptoe to press a kiss to Olivia's forehead. She took a step back, one hand sliding down to rest loosely on Olivia's hip. "Hurry up. I think his stand closes at six."
"Okay." Olivia took a step back, her head spinning. "I'll see if Emma wants to...or she might...I'll find her and figure out..."
Natalia just smiled, her eyes dancing, and Olivia groped for her purse, almost knocking her cell phone off the counter. She tucked it into her pocket and said, "I'll be back in a little bit."
"I'll be here," Natalia said, still smiling.
"Just stop," Olivia muttered. Natalia's laughter followed her as she stumbled outside, blinking like a newborn in the bright summer sunlight.
Corn, she thought as she set off in search of Emma. If my exes could see me now.
Olivia and Emma were unloading the bags of sweet corn from the trunk of Olivia's car a half hour later when a familiar figure emerged from the woods surrounding the house. Olivia squinted, apprehension churning in her stomach when she recognized the lean, dark haired young man striding across the field.
"Rafe!" Emma dropped her bag of corn back into the trunk and took off toward Natalia's son. He was wearing a white t-shirt and gray cargo pants, and as he drew closer, Olivia realized that there was a beer bottle in his hand. Great, she thought as Emma reached him. Just what we need.
Emma took Rafe's hand, pulling him toward the car while talking a mile a minute. "And then we're going to have corn and lasagna, and we made Rice Krispie treats for tomorrow. Are you going to be there tomorrow? There's going to be sparklers. Do you like sparklers?"
"Sparklers are all right," Rafe said as he and Emma drew to a halt. He looked up, his brown eyes narrowing, and said, "Olivia."
The way he enunciated every syllable, as if bathing each one in its own dripping contempt, made Olivia want to smack the kid. Instead, she stood up straighter, rebalancing the bag of corn in her arms. "Nice to see you, Rafe."
"Yeah," Rafe drawled, and Olivia could hear the telltale slur in his voice. Had he had three? Four? Natalia would be furious.
Still, she tried to make the best of it. He was here, and that was something. "We're having dinner in just a little while if you would like to join us."
"We're having movie night." Emma tugged on Rafe's hand. "We were going to watch Sleeping Beauty, but if that's too girly, we can watch something different."
"Nothing but girls around here now, is there?" Rafe took a swig off his beer and aimed a sneer in Olivia's direction. "Though I suppose the new man of the house doesn't mind."
Olivia narrowed her eyes at Rafe, daring him to utter another syllable, and said, "Emma, why don't you go inside."
Emma looked at Rafe, then back at Olivia, her brow creasing in concern. "Mommy?"
"It's okay, baby." Olivia brushed the back of Emma's head, urging her around the car. "I'll be inside in a few minutes."
Emma nodded. Glancing back at Rafe one last time, she started toward the farmhouse.
Olivia waited until her daughter was out of earshot before saying, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm here to see my ma," Rafe said. He took another swig of his beer, his fingers tightening on the bottle. "I wanted to see if I could talk some sense into her. But as usual, you're here, so I'm screwed, right?"
"You want to talk to your mother, fine, talk to her. But sober up first." Olivia took a breath, trying to rein her temper in. "Rafe, you know how upset she'd be to know that you were walking around drunk. Not getting in trouble is one of the conditions of your parole."
"Trouble?" Rafe made a broad gesture with the bottle, beer foaming out of the top. "Why the fuck would I get in trouble? I mean, who would blame me for getting drunk when I just found out that my mom is a dyke and that she's sleazing around with the biggest slut in town?"
Olivia's jaw clenched, rage bubbling up inside her. Don't, she told herself, struggling to contain the white-hot bolt of fury surging through her veins. Don't do it. He's not worth it, and Natalia would never forgive you.
"Rafe," she said, willing every scrap of kindness she could muster into her voice. "I know you're upset, but this isn't the way to handle it. Why don't you come inside, and we can sit down and have something to eat and talk about this."
"Talk?" Rafe grabbed at the bag in Olivia's hands, tearing the brown paper open so that the ears of corn spilled like bowling pins onto the driveway. "I don't want to talk to you. I don't want anything to do with you. You've wrecked everything!"
It's time to get away from this, Olivia realized as she backed up a step. Rafe was escalating quickly, she could see it in his eyes, and the only way to shut it down short of clocking him was to remove herself from his presence. I don't want Natalia to see you like this, she thought, willing him to back down. Just get out of here and sleep it off.
"I never liked you," Rafe said, taking another swig of beer. "You used my dad, and after he was gone, you were a bitch to my ma. I hated the way she bowed and scraped and took care of you, all because of Gus's heart. The heart you stole. You didn't deserve it."
"You're right," Olivia said, her voice low and quiet. "That's the first truthful thing you've said this entire conversation, Rafe. I didn't deserve it."
"Then why are you here?" Rafe shouted, spreading his arms out wide. He pressed forward, stepping into Olivia's space until their faces where only a few inches apart. "You know you don't deserve it, then you shouldn't be here. You should be someplace a person like you belongs. Not here! Not with my ma!"
"She wants me here," Olivia said softly. "Rafe, don't you see? We love each other."
"Love her?" Rafe put a hand to his head, staring at her in disbelief. "How the hell — who — you don't know what love is. All you do is take! You took my dad's heart, and now you want to take my mom. What's she got that you want, anyway? Is it the farm? You took her last house, you want to take this one too?"
"I didn't —" Olivia felt a flush of humiliation wash through her as she remembered the moment when she had tried to leverage Gus's house away from Natalia in exchange for cash. She'd thought that she could buy her off then, buy Gus away from her, like his memory was a commodity that could be bought or sold. Such a fool, she thought. How the hell did you ever forgive me?
She took a breath, clinging to the memory of how she'd changed in the last year. She wasn't that person any more, so bitter and jaded and convinced that everything in life had a pricetag. Natalia had taught her differently.
"I'm not going to argue with you about this, Rafe," Olivia said. "Why don't you come sit down on the porch, and I'll get you some water, and you can talk to your mom."
"No!" Rafe shouted, leering forward until his face was once again only inches from Olivia's. "I don't want any frickin' water. I want you to leave here, and never come back. You got me? Never come back!"
Olivia could smell the beer on his breath, and she felt the taste of fear, cold and metallic, creep against her tongue. Was this what it was like in those moments before he shot Jeffrey? she wondered. Was this the same rage he was feeling?
She took a step back, but Rafe followed, unwilling to leave her personal space. "I should beat you down like the bitch you are, you know that?" He lifted a hand, his fist clenching. "Someone messes with you, messes with your life, you beat them down."
That's it, Olivia thought, as the rage uncoiled. She lunged forward, pushing him back on his heels, feeling the heat blaze off her as she snapped, "That's how you handle everything, isn't it? You don't like what someone's saying about your dad? You shoot him. You don't like someone in your mother's life? You threaten to beat her up. Are you such a weak, pathetic excuse for a human being that you can't think of a better way to handle your problems? Did your mother really raise such a jackass?"
"You —" Rafe smashed the beer bottle against the side of Olivia's car, and she recoiled, feeling real fear as the green glass shattered. He clutched the top of the bottle in his hand, the jagged glass edge glinting like emeralds in the evening shadows. "You think you can talk to me like that? Nobody talks to me like that. You —"
Olivia heard the farmhouse door slam. Natalia shouted, "Rafael Rivera!"
Olivia took a step back from Rafe, hearing broken glass crunch beneath her feet. A few seconds later, Natalia reached her side, brandishing the broom she used to sweep the porch. She thrust it forward, the handle digging into Rafe's chest.
"How dare you," Natalia spat, her brown eyes hard with fury. "How dare you come here, like this, and threaten a member of my family?"
"Ma, she's not a member of anyone's family," Rafe protested, dropping his hand to his side. "She's just some bitch who's using you."
Natalia stepped forward and, in one swift motion, slapped Rafe across the face. "If you think so little of me, then you don't know me at all. You don't understand anything about the home we've created here." She gestured back at the farmhouse, her eyes never leaving Rafe's face. "This is a home built on love, Rafe. Love. And you come here, drunk on cheap beer and stuffed up with macho pride, and think you can threaten that? Threaten the woman I love?"
"Ma, I —" Rafe put up a placating hand. His eyes were still wide with shock, his face red where Natalia's hand had connected with his cheek. "I just —"
"Shut up!" Natalia tapped the handle of the broom against his chest. "Drop the bottle and walk away, Rafe. Go back to Frank's and sober up. I swear, if I find out that you went anywhere else tonight, I will call your parole officer and get you sent back to jail myself."
Rafe's face went pale, all the bravado draining out of it. "No, Ma. You can't do that."
"I can and I will." Natalia stared Rafe down for a moment longer, her body quivering from the tension. "I said go!"
Rafe backed up a few steps. He turned his head, his eyes finding Olivia's, and pointed at her, the menace in his dark eyes clear. Then he was moving across the field, back in the direction he came. Olivia stood beside Natalia, the two of them watching silently until Rafe disappeared into the trees.
Natalia clutched at Olivia's arm, her other hand still clenched tightly around the broom handle. Her eyes were wide with concern. "Are you all right?"
Olivia nodded, struggling to find her voice. "He wasn't going to hurt me." I don't think, hung silently between them, but she was sure as hell not going to say that out loud. "He just wanted to scare me."
"Rafe never means to hurt anyone." Natalia looked down at the mix of corn and broken glass surrounding the back of Olivia's car. "We need to get this cleaned up before Emma comes out here." She crouched down, fishing an ear of corn out of the mess. "This was good corn, too."
"There's more in the trunk," Olivia said, putting a hand on Natalia's shoulder. "Natalia, let's go inside, make sure Emma's okay. We can take care of this later."
"No, but I just...we shouldn't..." Olivia felt Natalia tremble beneath her hand. "How could he — how could my little boy do that?"
Olivia smoothed her hand over Natalia's shoulder, tugging on her shirt. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go inside."
Natalia nodded, rising mechanically to her feet and walking alongside Olivia toward the house. They made it about ten steps before Natalia clutched at Olivia's arm and jerked to a halt. "I'm sorry," she said, turning Olivia to face her. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
Olivia wrapped her arms around Natalia's trembling form, feeling Natalia sag against her. She stroked a hand from the top of Natalia's head to her back, then up again, the movement deliberate and soothing. "It's okay," she whispered. "It's okay, honey."
"No it's not," Natalia choked out as she shivered in Olivia's arms. "I can't — I didn't — how could Gus's son —" She struggled for breath. "I'm going to lose him, Olivia."
"Shhh," Olivia soothed, pressing a kiss to Natalia's cheek. "We'll figure it out."
"I don't know how to deal with him any more," Natalia said. "Maybe — maybe I have to accept that jail is where he belongs."
"No," Olivia said swiftly, her heart shattering at the despair in Natalia's voice. She pulled back from their embrace, tucking a hand under Natalia's chin and gently forcing Natalia to meet her eyes. "Listen to me. We are going to find a way to get through to him, okay? This is a bad patch, but we will work it out."
Natalia gazed at her for a long moment, disbelief flickering in her eyes. Finally, she nodded, her hand lifting to grasp Olivia's wrist. She pressed Olivia's palm to her cheek, holding it there for an instant. Olivia stepped forward, bringing her other hand to Natalia's face.
"We'll work it out," Natalia said, sounding like she was trying to convince herself.
"We will." Olivia pulled Natalia close, wrapping her arms around Natalia's back and holding on tight. "I promise you. I won't let you lose your son."