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.
Olivia spent the drive to the hospital calling and texting Rafe. He wasn't answering, either because he was unavailable or because he didn't give a damn. She knew he probably didn't recognize the number; she had his cell phone number because Natalia had asked her to keep it in case of emergency, but she was sure that he never would have accepted her return information from Natalia, especially after he'd witnessed the intimacy of their conversation in the front yard the day he'd discovered that they were a couple.
You're just going to have to get over it, she thought as she sent her third text through. We're going to have to work together to get her through this. And if you try to get in the way of what's best for her, you little punk, I will flatten you.
Josh found a spot in visitor parking, and the two of them rushed inside to the front desk. "Natalia Rivera," Olivia said, drumming her fingernails on the countertop while an elderly volunteer looked up the name. Soon, they were on an elevator up to the surgical waiting room, Josh checking his phone for messages while they rode up. Reva had called him three times on the drive over, her panicked, edgy voice grating on Olivia's nerves the entire ride. "Oh Bud, I need you, I can't live without you, the stove is broken and Edmund is on the loose and I have a hangnail!" she had muttered under her breath during call number two. Josh had shot her an irritated look but ignored her, his own attention focused on calming his frantic ex-wife. Probably glad he has my crisis to distract him, she thought. Though if I don't get some information about Natalia within a minute of stepping off this elevator, he's going to have a full-on meltdown on his hands.
She was on the ragged edge of panic, no two ways about it. She'd managed to hold it together at the Bauer house and during the ride, her concentration focused on trying to get through to Rafe. But the closer they got to the surgical center, the more agitated she felt. Natalia was in this building, just a few floors away, fighting for her life. Olivia needed answers, a prognosis, a plan, and she needed it now, because if she didn't have something to work with other than the memory of Natalia's face in that split second before she fell unconscious, then she truly would lose it. That was not going to be, it could not be, the last memory she would have of Natalia Rivera on this earth. There had to be more, because if there wasn't, then —
Don't think about that, she told herself. Get there, bully the information out of them if you have to, but don't think about the possibility that it might be bad news. She'll be fine. She has to be.
She clasped at Josh's forearm as the elevator doors opened, drawing strength from his presence. She walked at a brisk pace toward the surgical waiting area, remembering the route all too well. I've spent too much time in this green walled dump, she thought, her eyes rebelling against the lime green assault on her retinas. The second it's feasible, we're getting Natalia home. She can do the majority of her recovery from the farmhouse, we'll have a bed moved into the living room if we have to. It will all be fine, just as long as I can get her out of here.
A fresh faced nurse, looking like she was barely old enough to be out of high school, peered up at her from behind the desk. "Can I help you?"
"I need to know Natalia Rivera's status."
"Natalia Rivera." The nurse tapped a few keys on her computer, waiting for the screen to change. "Okay." She looked back up. "What is your relationship to the patient?"
"She's my —" Oh, fuck. Olivia swallowed hard and said, "We're family."
The nurse gave her a puzzled look. "I'm sorry, but unless you're an immediate relative, I can't give out any information."
"But I am —" Olivia looked down at the girl in frustration. "Look, she's my significant other, all right? My partner, my girlfriend, whatever you want to call it. She's the person I share my life with and I just need to know if she's okay. Can you understand that?"
"I — um." The nurse glanced over her shoulder, then back at her computer screen. "Hospital policy dictates that unless you're immediate family, I can't give you any information."
"So her ex-con of a son who can't even be bothered to pick up the phone could get information, but I can't," Olivia said, her voice growing louder with every passing word. "Her parents, who disowned her when she was sixteen and threw her out into the street could find out her condition. But the person she lives with? The person who will be there for her through every second of her recovery and will take care of her and make sure she has everything she needs? That person can't even find out if she's alive?"
"Olivia." Josh had been hanging back, but now he moved to stand beside her, his hand resting on her shoulder. He leaned over the counter and smiled down at the nurse. "What's your name, please?"
"Erin," the young woman said.
"Erin." Josh gave her a kind look. "Is it possible for you to page Dr. Rick Bauer? He came in with Miss Rivera, and he's a friend of ours."
"I can see if he's available," the nurse said.
"Thank you." Josh turned to Olivia, drawing her away from the desk. "Come on, let's sit down while she pages Rick."
"No, I'm not going to sit down!" Olivia fumed. "It's not right that they can deny us information because Natalia and I aren't married. Not that it would matter, because we can't get married in most of this backwards fucking country. Why the hell she wants me to become a citizen, I don't even know, because —"
"Hey." Josh sat down in one of the waiting room chairs, tugging on her arm until she followed suit. "If you get yourself wound up again, you're going to be in exactly the same situation you were at the barbeque. Now calm down, take a breath or five, and let's see what Rick has to say. You know the nurses aren't going to have any real information at this point. We need to talk to him and then we'll have some idea of what's actually going on."
"You're right, I know," Olivia groaned, burying her head in her hands. "It's just that she was so badly hurt and I just need to know that she's still —" She broke off, unable to finish the sentence. "I need information, Josh, before I lose what's left of my fucking mind."
"And you'll get it, I promise." Josh's phone beeped, and he glanced at it, then set it aside.
"Call her," Olivia said.
"I don't —" Josh narrowed his eyes at her. "You're so quick to assume."
"As if it's going to be anyone else." Olivia slumped back in the chair. "I don't need you to hold my hand every single second, Josh. If you need to talk to her, then call her. I have a phone call to make anyway."
"Okay," Josh said, squeezing her arm. He stood up and walked to the far corner of the waiting room, glancing over his shoulder at her as he made his call. Olivia studied his body language; the tension in his frame, the way his head rose as the call connected. He's scared to death for her, Olivia thought. All he wants to do is be there, but he's here with me.
She wanted to laugh at the irony, that nearly eight years after the end of their marriage, Josh was finally putting her first. She couldn't do it, though; it just seemed too sad. I wish I had been half the friend to him that he's being to me, she thought, filing the realization under debts she needed to pay back when this ordeal was over. And then the panic returned, washing over her like a wave. I just need to see her. If I can see her, if I can know that she's alive, then we'll get through this. She just — Oh God, baby, please hang on.
She fought back the hysteria, her hands shaking, and tried to scroll through her phone. There weren't many steps that she could take to protect Natalia, but there was one thing she could do and it needed to be handled as soon as possible, so long as she could get her fingers to work long enough to select the right name. Finally she was able to get the call dialing. Pick up, she thought insistently, and on the third ring it did. "Hello, this is Ann Ross."
"Ann? It's Olivia Spencer."
"Olivia!" There was shrieking in the background; presumably Ann's two small children. Olivia heard the other woman say softly, "Sweetheart, please don't torture your sister. Thank you." Her voice then shifted to full attention. "We just got back from the parade. What can I do for you?"
"Has Natalia Rivera's separation paperwork processed yet?"
"Natalia's?" Ann hesitated. "No, I held it back like you wanted. I was going to put it through next week."
"Okay, good. I need you to get over to the office and remove the resignation letter and everything related to it from the file."
"But..." Olivia could almost see her diminutive HR Manager gearing up to object in her respectful, quiet way. "Olivia, it would be better from a legal standpoint for Natalia to come in as a rehire at this point. And technically, we've already filled her position. The new girl starts next week."
"I realize that, Ann, but this needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. As for the position issue, I'm promoting Natalia to Vice President of Operations effective immediately. Triple her salary as of the date of her resignation letter, and no interruption in benefits. The resignation simply disappears, understand?"
"Okay." Ann's voice shifted; she was curious, but unwilling to question the boss's latest crazy request. "I need to get my kids and husband settled, and then..."
"If it's done by six tonight, you can add an extra two weeks paid vacation to your bank for the year." Olivia plucked at a stray thread hanging off the side the thin cushion that made a pretense of padding the waiting room chair. "Ann?"
"Consider it done." The voice on the other end of the phone was reassuring and confident. "Have a happy Fourth, Olivia."
"Thank you, Ann. You too." Olivia clicked off her phone, lifting her eyes to see Josh standing before her, his gaze puzzled. "Natalia quit working for me a few weeks ago. She doesn't have any benefits in her new job with Blake."
"So you're making sure that the medical bills are taken care of," Josh said.
Olivia nodded. "She's going to need aftercare, rehab." She willed herself to think about the process of Natalia's recovery, focusing on what the next months would bring so that she wouldn't have to think about where Natalia was at the moment. "Besides, she more than earned the promotion. She practically ran The Beacon when I was sick."
"She's a smart woman, and one of the kindest people I've ever met." Josh crouched in front of her, taking her hands. "I can't believe I didn't see it before."
"You were too focused on the muffins," Olivia couldn't help but tease.
"Yeah, but, I should have been thinking outside the box. It's you, after all."
She gave a soft laugh. "If this is some leftover fantasy from when Cassie and I got into that mud fight..."
"Yeah, I really wish I'd been around for that." Josh gave her a sly grin. "But seriously, why didn't you tell me?"
"We were waiting to go public because of the kids. Natalia and I have been so focused on finding the right way to tell Emma and dealing with the fallout from Rafe finding out about us by accident that we haven't even had time for ourselves, much less telling anyone else. Tonight, we were finally going to —" She closed her eyes, her face tightening as she felt tears threaten again. "Never mind."
"You mean you hadn't —"
"No." Olivia shook her head, willing this to be a nightmare. She and Natalia had snuck away like they'd talked about, and she was safe and warm at the farmhouse, curled up beside Natalia in their bed as they touched and tasted and explored, learning everything there was to know about each other on the most intimate level possible. That was the reality, not this. If she believed hard enough it could happen, right?
She looked down at Josh, giving him a rueful smile. "Didn't think I could do that either, did you?"
The compassion in Josh's eyes was almost unbearable as he replied, "You waited because you love her and you wanted it to be right. I think it's all the proof you need that you would do anything to protect her."
Olivia pushed herself to her feet, unable to accept the forgiveness in Josh's words. "I need to talk to Rick."
Josh caught her arm, preventing her from charging over to the nurses' station. "Just wait a few more minutes. I'm sure he'll be out as soon as he can."
"Fuck that," Olivia snapped. "I need to know what's going on, and I need to know it right now. I —"
"Olivia!" she heard a woman's voice call out.
Looking up, she saw Doris Wolfe, dressed in jeans, a white oxford shirt, and a red blazer with an American flag in the lapel. She was holding a manila folder in her hand.
"Hi," Olivia said, her voice breaking as Doris drew close. "What are you doing here?"
"How's Natalia?" Doris asked, pulling Olivia into a quick, awkward hug. She stepped back, looking flustered, and said, "Have you been able to get any information?"
"They won't tell me a thing because I'm not a relative." Olivia sneered the last word, sending a glare in the direction of the little blond nurse, who was obviously eavesdropping on their conversation. "I've called and texted Rafe several times, but he won't respond, so until he arrives or we get Rick out here, we can't get any information."
"Well I think maybe it's for the best that Rafe's not here," Doris said.
"Why?" Olivia asked. "I mean, not that I necessarily disagree, but he needs to know what's going on with his mom."
"Well of course he does." Doris opened the manila folder, revealing a crisp white legal document. "But not before we take his rights away."