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...and they deserve better than to be on a shelf, dammit.
"Is it just me, or does Maleficent look a lot like Alex Spaulding?"
Olivia's words jarred Natalia out of her contemplation of the fireplace grate. She turned back toward Olivia, who was sitting on the far side of the couch, Emma's head resting atop her lap. The little girl, exhausted from her day at camp and the baking and an hour spent chasing around the yard, had fallen asleep shortly after they'd started the movie, and for the last half-hour, her feet had been resting in Natalia's lap. It was the kind of domestic contentment that Natalia had been dreaming of for months, and yet she could barely process it. Rafe is completely out of control, she thought for the thousandth time. Holy Mary, Mother of God, help me figure out what to do.
"I'm sorry," Natalia said, shifting her attention back toward Olivia. Emma twitched at the movement, and Natalia caught her left foot between her hands to avoid being kicked in the stomach. "What did...what about Alex Spaulding?"
Olivia pointed at the TV. "The voice. The hairline. Plus I'm pretty sure she turns into a dragon when provoked. I know I've seen her eyes go yellow."
Natalia gave a weak smile, shrugging. "I guess."
Olivia looked at her for a long moment, her head tipping to one side. She slid a hand under Emma's head, holding her steady while she tucked a pillow beneath her, then climbed to her feet. Holding out her hand, she said, "Come on."
Natalia looked up at Olivia in confusion. "Where are we going?"
"Outside." Olivia cocked her head over her shoulder. "Get some fresh air."
"But Emma —" Natalia pointed at the TV. "The scary part of the movie's coming up. If she wakes up and we're not here..."
"She's seen this thing so many times, even the fifty foot tall Aunt Alex doesn't scare her any more." Olivia grabbed the remote, squinting at it for a minute while muttering "Definitely glasses" under her breath. "There. The movie's on repeat so it'll just start over again. If she wakes up, all she has to do is look outside and she'll see us."
Natalia considered arguing further, but Olivia held her hand out, wiggling her fingers. She looked down at Natalia, a mix of worry and affection in her eyes. "Please?"
Natalia nodded and carefully lifted Emma's feet off her lap, settling her legs back onto the cushion. Emma immediately stretched, her face scrunching as she flopped onto her stomach and burrowed into the pillow. Natalia couldn't help the smile that creased her face, a lump forming in her throat as she reached for the tan and red-striped blanket resting atop the back of the couch. Olivia's hands touched the cloth at the same moment, their fingertips brushing together as they moved in concert to spread the blanket over Emma's sleeping form. Olivia brushed a kiss against Emma's temple, then rose, her eyes gliding over Natalia like a caress as she snagged Natalia's hand and led her onto the porch.
Though it was nearly eight p.m., sunset was just starting, the partly cloudy sky turning pink and yellow with the sun's reflected rays. The trees surrounding the farm were in shadow, their lush green turned blue and purple with the approach of night. Wordlessly, they walked toward the treeline, Natalia making a conscious effort not to look at the driveway. The mess Rafe had made had been cleaned up before dinner, but to Natalia, his actions still marked the area. It wasn't just the dent in the side panel of Olivia's car, which Olivia had assured her didn't matter in the least. It was the hatred in his behavior, and what they had brought out in her, that made her ashamed to look in that direction.
She looked, instead, at the trees, and the grass, and the sunset. Anywhere but at Olivia.
They walked in silence for several moments, holding hands. They were rounding the far corner of the property when Olivia said, "You know, before I knew Ava was my daughter, I did some terrible things to her. Things that should have landed me in jail for a long time."
Natalia cast a glance in Olivia's direction, startled more by the tone of Olivia's words than by what she was saying. With the exception of the occasional unguarded aside, Olivia rarely spoke about her past. Certainly not in this way.
Olivia tugged on Natalia's hand, guiding her forward. She looked toward the trees, the last rays of sunlight glinting on her angular cheekbones. Her green eyes were hidden by shadows. "The years after Emma was born were so frightening. First Phillip kidnapped her, and then —" She hesitated. "There were other attempts. Alan was doing everything he could to destroy me. And just when it seemed like things had settled down, that maybe we were okay, something happened. Ava was babysitting Emma, and Emma got into something she shouldn't have, and she got very sick. I thought Ava had done it deliberately to get back at me for something I did when there was a fire at the Beacon. So I —" She closed her eyes, swallowing hard. "I lost it. I went crazy for a while, and Ava almost got hurt, twice. Then I tried to scare her into leaving town, only the man I hired —" Her breath hitched, and tears glinted in the last fragments of sunlight dappling her face. "He took it too far. He would have – hurt her — maybe even killed her if she hadn't managed to get away. And I have to live with that. For the rest of my life, I have to live with the fact that I almost got my baby girl killed."
"But you didn't —" Natalia pivoted to face Olivia, clasping both her hands. "You didn't mean to."
Olivia looked down at her, something dark and haunted in her eyes. "I will never know. Not really. If I hadn't learned that she was mine, I don't know that I would have thought twice about what I put her through — about what he almost —" Her voice broke, and she took a slow breath, regrouping as she pulled back from some dark place, some elusive terror that Natalia could not quite identify. "It didn't matter, you see. Nothing mattered, because I thought she was trying to hurt Emma."
Natalia looked up at Olivia, trying to fathom the complexities, the mysteries in the woman she'd fallen in love with. "Why are you telling me this now?"
"Because you need to know." Olivia lifted a hand to caress Natalia's cheek, her smile gentle and so filled with pain. "Kids grow up, they become adults. They have their own agendas and their own ideas. And sometimes — sometimes to protect what you think is right, what you believe with all your heart and soul is worth protecting, you end up on opposite sides. You do things you think you'd never do."
"I've never hit Rafe before." Each word was like a stone pressing down upon Natalia's heart. You slapped Rafe. You deliberately raised a hand to your little boy.
"You stood up for me." Olivia took a step forward, both her hands framing Natalia's face. "You stood up for Emma. I know that doesn't make it any easier, but you can't torture yourself."
"How?" Natalia asked, her eyes searching Olivia's face for answers. "How do I forgive myself for doing something so terrible?"
"You keep loving him." Olivia leaned forward, pressing their foreheads together. "You keep fighting for it, every day. And when you do, sometimes a miracle happens."
"You're telling me you believe in miracles now?" Natalia asked, feeling a tear trickling down her face. She sniffled as Olivia's thumb slid over her cheek, brushing the moisture away.
"I believe that there is no way Ava should love me or want me to be in her life," Olivia said, her breath warm on Natalia's face. "But there she is, fighting for me, caring about me. And if Ava can get over the way I hurt her, then Rafe can get over you knocking some sense into him."
"It's not that easy," Natalia said. "He's a m—"
She froze, the tumblers clicking into place. Oh.
Olivia pulled back, her hand tucking under Natalia's chin. She waited until Natalia looked at her before saying, "He finally became a man to you today. His own person, making his own choices."
"Yes," Natalia said, as the tears began in earnest. "And I don't like his choices. I don't understand how he could hate us so much that he would...he would..."
She couldn't get any more words out; they caught in her throat, sticking hard, a sharp pain flaring through her chest. Olivia pulled her close, holding her tight while she cried, letting her get it out of her system once and for all. "I'm sorry," Natalia whimpered when it was all done, feeling like a fool. "All I've done today is cry."
"It's those damn prenatal hormones," Olivia murmured.
Olivia laughed, pressing a soft kiss to Natalia's temple. "You okay to walk now?"
"Yeah," Natalia said, pulling her face away from Olivia's shoulder. She smoothed a hand over the damp cotton of Olivia's patterned shirt. "I got your top all wet."
"You can cry on my shoulder any time." Olivia hooked an arm around Natalia's neck, pulling her close, and Natalia encircled Olivia's waist, turning into her body as they walked back to the porch. Olivia guided them up to the bench, shifting in Natalia's embrace so that they were facing each other. "Why don't you sit down. I'm going to go check on Emma and get us something to drink."
Natalia nodded, too spent to protest. Olivia nuzzled her forehead, and then she broke away, slipping into the house. With a sigh, Natalia settled on the bench, staring up at the last sliver of orange fading from the summer sky. She wondered if Rafe was looking up at the same slice of horizon. She'd called Frank, warned him that Rafe had been drinking and that he needed to stay in. I'm sure it's fine, Frank had insisted. Rafe's a good kid. It had been a challenge to not tell Frank where he could stick his 'good kid' spiel, but she had managed to stay calm. No point in upsetting the only person who might, maybe, be able to handle Rafe right now. Besides Olivia, that is.
Olivia returned a few moments later, two wine glasses in hand. They were filled with red wine, which Natalia avoided unless it was spaghetti night at Towers. "You'll like it," Olivia said as she sat down next to Natalia and handed her a glass. "This is a very good Chianti from the Beacon wine cellars, and many Italian peasants labored long and hard so that we could enjoy it."
"See, now I'm just going to feel guilty about all those people who worked their fingers to the bone so I could sit here and drink," Natalia said as she stared at the ruby red liquid.
"It was five years ago. They're over it by now, I'm sure." Olivia lifted her glass, touching it lightly against Natalia's, and said, "To new beginnings."
"New beginnings," Natalia murmured, raising the glass to her lips. She took a small sip, recoiling at first from the bitter taste. After a moment, she felt the taste change, the bitterness fade. She squinted, trying to reconcile the contrast on of flavors on her tongue. "Cherries?"
Olivia nodded. "And what else?"
Natalia lifted her glass, taking another sip. "Grapes."
Olivia chuckled. She tucked one finger beneath the bottom of Natalia's glass, pushing it upward. "Breathe it in."
Natalia felt her lips draw down in a confused frown. "Huh?"
"Breathe it in." Olivia lifted her own glass to her nose, inhaling. "The bouquet is half the experience with a good wine." She swirled the wine in her glass and inhaled again. "Go on."
Feeling uncertain, Natalia lifted her own glass, swirling it like Olivia had done before pressing it to her nose. She breathed in the scent of the wine, her mind analyzing its different elements. She could smell the grapes now, ripening on the vine, and the cherries, rich and red as they hung from the tree, and something else — something antique and mysterious. "It smells like wood."
"Aged in the finest oak barrels, of course. Now take a sip, see what else you find."
Natalia did as suggested, only this time she tried to let go of any expectations for what she might taste. Closing her eyes, she let the wine wash across her tongue, disregarding the initial bite, breaking down each of the flavors: the oak, the grapes, the cherries. She noted something else — the flavor binding all the elements together. A sense memory came back to her: her mother in their tiny kitchen, steaming the rice for arroz con pollo, dashing sofrito into the pot while Natalia cut carrots and shelled peas. She allowed herself a moment, to remember, to mourn, and then she was back. She slid closer to Olivia, whispering, "Spice."
"Impressive." Olivia lifted one arm, allowing Natalia to curl into her side. "Next time we visit Ava, we'll head up to Napa and you can conquer every tasting room in Wine Country."
"You just want to get me drunk," Natalia said, letting her head fall into the crook of Olivia's shoulder.
"That'd be fun too." Olivia pressed a kiss to the crown of Natalia's head, and for a few moments, they sat quietly, sipping their wine while they watched the first stars begin to pierce the indigo sky. A melody began to float on the air, coming from the TV inside, and Olivia hummed along. "I love this."
"It's my favorite part of the movie," Natalia said. "When they're dancing, and the fairy godmothers keep changing her dress from blue to pink and back again."
"The music is actually from the Tchaikovsky ballet. I saw it once, on San Cristobel, when I was young. It made me want to be a princess." Natalia heard a hint of regret creep into Olivia's tone. "I wanted so many things."
"Olivia?" Natalia said, shifting so that she could look at Olivia's face. It was there again; that same shadow that had been on it when she had talked about her mistakes with Ava. There was so much pain there; Natalia didn't understand it, but more than anything, she wanted to take it away. She lifted a hand to Olivia's face, tracing the line of her jaw, and whispered, "Please," speaking to that part of Olivia that she knew was hidden from her still; the part of Olivia that was afraid, and ashamed, and desperately in need of forgiveness. It was the part of her that was terrified to let Natalia see her; the part of her that was still afraid that one day, Natalia would simply disappear.
Olivia let her uncertain green gaze rest on Natalia, and Natalia sensed that an internal debate of seismic proportions was in progress behind Olivia's eyes. She blinked, and Natalia saw the decision made, felt the walls slam back into place. "Not tonight."
Natalia looked at Olivia for a long moment, debating whether to push. There will be time for that later, she told herself. She waited in silence while the pain in Olivia's eyes retreated, the sparkle returned. Olivia leaned to the side, putting her wine glass on the ground, and turned to face Natalia. Holding her hands out, she said, "Natalia Rivera, would you dance with me?"
Natalia felt a quiver of uncertainty. A memory flashed through her: Nicky Aitoro standing in front of her, her back to the wall of the St. Columbanus gym, Roxette telling her to listen to her heart. "I don't...really..."
"It's easy." Olivia took the wine glass from Natalia's hand and set it beside her own, rising to her feet. "Just follow me."
"So you're leading?"
Olivia pressed her lips to Natalia's ear and whispered, "If you'll let me."
Natalia felt a flash of heat wash through her as Olivia drew them out into the yard. Olivia pressed one hand to the small of Natalia's back, the other clasping their free hands together, and Natalia let herself be guided back and forth in time with the melody Olivia was humming. Their steps got bigger as they got more comfortable, their bodies gliding seamlessly in a three-step rhythm across the grass. Olivia pulled back, twirling Natalia in a circle, once, twice, laughing as she pulled her close, and suddenly they weren't dancing any more, they were holding each other, and the heat inside Natalia became a fire. She closed her eyes, feeling the shock of Olivia's body molded against hers, the breath going in and out of her lungs, the heart beating in her chest. Olivia's mouth pressed lightly against her own, and Natalia reacted on instinct, her fingers threading through Olivia's hair as her lips parted under Olivia's touch. Olivia let out a soft gasp, a shudder going through her body, and then Olivia's mouth was opening against Natalia's, Olivia's tongue was touching hers, and there was no hiding, there was only the night, and the stars, and them.
There was a crackle in the distance as they broke apart; kids letting off firecrackers. A bottle rocket streaked across the sky, breaking apart and raining tiny sparks of light across the horizon. Olivia whispered, "See? We need a warning label."
Natalia pressed her face into the crook of Olivia's neck, her body aching. She breathed in, her arms tightening around Olivia's back. "Stay."
Olivia stiffened against her. Natalia heard a soft noise escape from the back of Olivia's throat, and then Olivia breathed out, her hand lifting to cradle the back of Natalia's head. "No."
Natalia frowned, pressing a hand into Olivia's chest until she could step back. She looked into Olivia's eyes, finding them by their reflection of the lights from the house. "Emma's already asleep. Your old room's all ready. Stay."
"You've had a rough day." Olivia pressed her hand into Natalia's cheek, something akin to that old pain flickering in her eyes. "I've had a rough day. Tomorrow's going to be crazy. What we all need is a good night's sleep."
"So sleep here," Natalia said, locking her arms around Olivia's back.
"If I stay here." Olivia drew in a breath, dropping her head forward. Her nose brushed over Natalia's cheek. "If I stay here, I won't be in the guest room, and we won't be sleeping."
Oh, Natalia mouthed, feeling a tremble roll through her.
"Oh," Olivia whispered, her mouth creasing in an affectionate, knowing smile. She let her hand slide down to the small of Natalia's back, swaying slightly, and added, "I want to stay, so much. But I want the first time we're together to be about us. And I don't know, with everything that's happened, that that can be the case tonight."
Natalia sighed. "Plus...Emma."
"Emma." Olivia pressed a kiss to Natalia's temple. "What do you say tomorrow morning, you come over, and we tell her."
"And then we could ride to the barbeque together?" Natalia suggested.
Olivia grinned. "If you want to be my designated driver, sure. We show up and let all of Springfield take a good look at the hottest couple in town."
"Well half of it's hot."
"What are you..." Olivia's eyes widened. "Was that an insult to me or a putdown to you?"
"Like I'm hot," Natalia scoffed.
"You are so..." Olivia hand drifted down to rest against Natalia's backside. She gave a little squeeze, and Natalia couldn't help but yelp. "So very hot."
"And you're evil," Natalia said, trying not to press her body into Olivia's. It was getting harder to resist the impulse, especially with Olivia's hand resting where it was. Just the slightest pressure, and they'd be locked together, their bodies moving in tandem, and —
"Okay," Olivia breathed. "I stop putting my hand there. I go home, take a cold shower, we get some sleep, and tomorrow, Emma and the barbeque, in that order."
"And tomorrow night? After the fireworks?" Natalia asked, biting the inside of her lip.
"Wash off the bug spray, put Emma to bed, make a list of all the guys we don't have to worry about hitting on us any more." Olivia grinned at her. "Anything else?"
"Yeah." Natalia took a deep breath and murmured, "You stay here, at the farmhouse, in my bed. And we don't sleep."
Olivia froze, staring down at Natalia for a long moment. She tipped her head to the side and whispered, "You're sure?"
"I'm sure," Natalia murmured, more than a little surprised to realize that it was true. She was sure; more sure than she had been about anything in a very long time.
"Okay, then." Olivia's face tipped downward, and Natalia tilted her chin, her lips finding Olivia's. Their kiss was slow this time, but as full of passion as the last, and when they broke from it they were both panting.
"I don't want to wait for anything any more." Natalia lifted her hands to frame both sides of Olivia's face, a feeling of wonder flowing through her. She kissed Olivia again, then once more, before pulling back to look at her as she whispered, "Tomorrow is our day of new beginnings."