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.
A note about the 9a thing: Unfortunately, due to a mix of life, work, and recalcitrant Muse complications, I don't anticipate being able to get the full chapter nine done until this weekend. Since I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger, I'm posting the first section of nine for your reading pleasure. Sorry it's short - but something is better than nothing, right? (Please agree. I'm tired.)
Olivia awoke to the patter of rain on the roof. The sound was soothing, its beat lulling her back into the complacency of sleep. She hovered within it for long moments, unable to pull herself away from the gossamer strands of the dream that had wrapped itself around her mind. She had been standing in the gazebo, and Natalia had been with her, her face radiant in the sunlight as she held Olivia's hands and said — What was she saying? —
Olivia gasped in a breath and tried to sit up, murmuring, "Natalia." Her mouth felt frozen, unwieldy; the Tin Man needing oil.
"She's at Cedars," said a calm voice. Josh, she realized after a sluggish moment.
Olivia tried to open her eyes, but they felt stuck. She rubbed at her face, her hands clumsy against her skin, and blinked away the moisture gumming her eyes shut. She couldn't figure out what it was until she felt tears wetting her cheeks. It seemed she'd never stopped crying, even while unconscious.
"Natalia's alive." Josh was sitting in an old-fashioned wooden rocking chair in the corner opposite the bed, his elbows on his thighs, hands steepled against his chin. He lowered his hands, focusing his calm gaze directly on her. "Rick called to say they're taking her into surgery now."
"Is she doing okay?" Olivia asked, her voice rasping like sandpaper against her throat.
Josh's eyes flickered closed, his face tensing as he sorted through what to say. "It was touch and go in the ambulance, but she's holding on."
"I need to get over there." Olivia started to sit up, her head reeling as she moved. She slumped back onto the bed, closing her eyes as a sudden wave of nausea ran through her. "Jesus."
"It's only been a half-hour," Josh said, his voice soft and measured, the way it always sounded when he was worried. "The sedative won't have worn off yet."
"It's worn enough," she growled, swallowing against the bitter taste in her mouth. She rolled onto her side, pushing herself up on one elbow, and looked down at her hands. She could see tiny flecks of red on them, embedded around her fingernails, caught in the ridges of her knuckles. The red stain was on her palms too; on the joints of her fingers, in the groove of her lifeline.
Blood. Natalia's blood. On my —
"Oh Christ," she groaned, rolling herself off the bed. She landed on her knees, struggling to get her feet underneath her as she lunged toward the bathroom door she saw on the far side of the room. Josh was beside her in seconds, the rocking chair emitting a see-sawing creak as he all but carried her toward her destination. He cushioned her fall as she dropped in front of the toilet, losing everything she'd eaten in the last two hours and then some. Her body refused to release her from the wracking spasms until she was long past having anything in her stomach, her guts knotted in agony against the force of her revulsion.
"You're okay," Josh said, pulling her back against him. He reached past her to flush the toilet, pulling the lid shut, and held her against him, rocking her gently. "It's all going to be okay."
"You don't know that," she whispered, feeling her body uncoil just a fraction from the warmth of his embrace. Josh's hand lifted to the top of her head, stroking through her hair, and she felt tears spill down her face. "She could be gone in a heartbeat, and there's not a damn thing I could do about it."
"Except love her," Josh murmured.
"I was supposed to protect her," Olivia said, her throat thick with tears. "I made a promise to myself that I would always protect her, no matter what."
"You tried." Josh stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Olivia, you were moving before anyone else. You threw yourself in front of her while the rest of us were still standing around trying to process what was happening. Don't think you didn't do everything you could to keep her safe."
"But it wasn't enough." Olivia wiped at the face with the back of her hands, wincing as she drew in a breath, her clogged nose burning from the stomach acid trapped in her sinuses. She rubbed at her face and said, "What the hell are you doing here, Lewis? Haven't you held my head over a toilet enough for one lifetime?"
"Enough for two lifetimes," Josh said, his tone wry. "But you shouldn't be alone right now."
"You don't need to be with Reva?" she asked, etching his ex-wife's name with the appropriate level of acid.
"Shayne is with Reva, and so are two uniformed policemen." Josh peered over at her, his eyes almost gray in the dim light. "You needed a friend to stay with you."
Olivia nodded, taking in a thick breath as she tried to fend off another bout of tears. "So it's my turn to be the hysterical ex-wife that you take care of?"
"Something like that." Josh eased her back against him, cradling her against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder. "This isn't a new thing with Natalia, is it?"
"No." Olivia shook her head, the stubble of Josh's beard rough against her temple. "It happened so gradually that it took forever for us to realize it, but I think it's been maybe since Gus. Maybe before that even."
"But she was going to marry Frank," Josh said, a question in his voice.
"It's a long story." She scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand and said, "Right. I need my phone."
"Your phone?" Josh helped her get to her feet, holding her steady while she found her footing. "Your purse is next to the bed, but who are you going to call?"
"Rafe, for one, and then —" She froze. "Where the hell is Emma?"
"With Phillip and Beth." Josh quickly added, "Mindy's with them too, so there's nothing to worry about."
"Phillip and I have made our peace," Olivia said, noting the flicker of surprise in Josh's eyes. "What? I can forgive once in a while."
"I know it's just —" Josh shook his head. "Unexpected, is all."
"I've had a good teacher." Olivia crossed to the bedroom door. "Besides, he knows if he so much as looks at Emma crosswise, I'll put a bullet through his —"
She clutched at the doorknob, feeling sick again. The pain, there was so much pain on Natalia's face, her blood seeping onto the ground and there was nothing to do, no way to stop it and —
"Fuck," she murmured, swallowing hard. "I need to go, Josh. I need to go, right now. I have to be there, she doesn't have anyone else and —"
"Okay," Josh said, catching at her hands. He tilted his head, waiting until she looked into his eyes, then gave a reassuring nod. "Okay, we'll go right now."
"Thank you," she said, her voice faint as Josh handed her her purse. She leaned on him on her way down the stairs, the two of them moving quickly toward the front door of the Bauer house. She could hear activity in the backyard: police radios, shouting, the soft chatter of voices, both familiar and unfamiliar.
"They're questioning everyone about what happened," Josh said. "I think they probably want to talk to you as well."
"They can take a fucking number," Olivia snarled as they exited onto the front porch. "It's not like I'm going to be that hard to find."
"Valid point." Josh put a protective hand against her back. "I can bring the truck around."
"Would you stop coddling me?" Olivia jerked away from him. "I told you, I'm fine."
Josh gave her a look that she recognized all too well from their marriage; his I want to tell you to go to hell but it'll just make the situation worse look.
"I'm sorry." Frustrated tears welled to the surface, and she dashed them away. Her voice was tight with emotion as she said, "I just need to get to the hospital so I can find out what's going on." She hesitated, hating the pleading in her voice as she added, "Please, Josh."
"We'll get there," Josh said, and this time she took the steadying hand he offered as they moved across the yard to his truck.