DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The original scenes that this changefic is based on can be seen HERE and HERE
SPOILERS: Contains spoilers for Guiding Light through 18th August 2009.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Her voice was low. With a scratch through it like an old vinyl album. Heavy with too many emotions for any one to stand out against the chorus.
Natalia turned to look at her as she stepped into the gazebo. A pinch of fear held Natalia's eyes even as they filled with warmth and slipped over the other woman's familiar face and body. Over a blue tank top and pants meant for a day outdoors. She had been playing with her daughter when Natalia found them an hour ago. When Olivia had pulled her daughter away swiftly and fled, muttering a brusque, "I'll call you."
Drawn forward before the desire bloomed into thought, Natalia reached for the woman she had wounded and now hoped to heal. "Hey..."
Olivia skitted back, a ricochet off the dangerously shrinking space. She warded her off with a raised hand. "Don't."
Natalia's hands fell, folded together for support like cubs returning to the den. Unable to meet those pained green eyes, she looked down at the sharp, waving print on her maternity dress. She had been four months along when she ran away. Vanished like a dream in sunlight.
Olivia gathered what strength she had to withstand this woman. Her angelic face and light cinnamon skin. It wasn't fair that after snapping the light from her eyes like Jack Frost's whip to a candle, it wasn't fair that those jade twins should still find her so beautiful.
A dozen questions battled to fly first off her tongue. Olivia stilled her shuffling feet. "How... How did you do it? How could you just leave me like that? Without saying where you were going or why?" She started quietly, each question building steam from the last. "I kept thinking, 'She must be hurt. She'd call me if she was able to.' You ran away like I wasn't even your friend, like I was nothing to you, and then you turn around and come back wanting to act like nothing's changed? I don't--I..."
"It wasn't supposed to be like that." Natalia took another step forward. "Please, can I just...Please!" She hurried on as Olivia took in a breath to interrupt. "Can I just start from the beginning? Tell you everything?" Her voice strained with anxiety like helium stretching the balloon tight.
Olivia pinched her lips and waved a hand up from her thigh, tossing an invisible stone, for her to go ahead.
Natalia took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. "Olivia, I love you. And I know that things have, h-have changed since I went away. Okay?"
Olivia's traitorous heart sped up, running along the fence line she'd so carefully rebuilt until she coldly checked its reins with the reminder that one sweet 'I love you' did not make up for six weeks of abandonment.
"I didn't know that I was pregnant until the day of the barbecue," she said softly.
Olivia bit back a scathing comment, clinging to her patience. She would rather have her heart fail again than relive that day. Shoving the too-familiar knife of memory back into its drawer, she centered on a simple question. "How could you not know?"
"Because I had periods. At least, I thought I did." Wide, chestnut eyes begged for understanding. "When I asked the doctor why, he said that one in four women have some bleeding during their first trimester. That it's common. And I noticed I was irregular, but I just thought with all the stress from the wedding and Rafe and--" She snapped her lips shut as guilt flashed across her face. And wanting to make love to another woman. Olivia's eyes narrowed as she heard the dragging chains and tortured groan of the ghost of Christian shame enter the gazebo. A shade that was never far from the woman she had fallen for.
Green eyes flickered at her with disappointment, but Natalia didn't know how to articulate that what Olivia saw was the flip side of the coin in her mind. Six weeks of prayer had transformed Natalia's guilt into guilt. The shame of 'condemned' love had become the shame of having ever been ashamed of love. Shame for cleaving to a simplistic status quo long after it failed and hurting so many people because she refused to grow in the unexpected direction God had chosen for her.
She hadn't answered Olivia's question and focussed on it instead. "A-and my stomach... I just thought I was gaining weight because I was eating more. I honestly didn't know. Please, Olivia. I know that not knowing for months makes me sound stupid, but it's true." She'd show Olivia later that the doubts she thought she saw in that split-second were finally at rest. Hopefully.
Olivia turned away for a moment, hooking her hands in her pockets, and nodded. "Okay... So you didn't know. But why not tell me when you found out?" She looked back as pain crept into her features like a drop of ink spreading its tendrils through a glass of clear water. "I could have been there with you instead of at that..." That damned "--barbeque by myself. With Emma asking, 'Where's Natalia, Mom?' 'When's Natalia coming? She'll miss the sack race.' You broke every promise you made to us." Olivia blinked quickly as her voice wavered. "And Emma... She's had so many people come and go from her life, and that's my fault, I know. But, you can't make her favorite school lunches, and read stories to her, and be a mother to her if you're going to disappear like that. I won't let it happen again."
Natalia gripped small fists of her skirt to fight the shaking in her hands. She's cutting me off. Oh God... I've lost them both.
"You can't just leave because you feel scared or unsure." Olivia's composure slipped as tears brimmed in the wide brown eyes that hung on her every word. She felt like she was standing on pebbles, balanced by a tenuous calm so her feet wouldn't skate out from under her. She took a slow breath and stared into those tears lined up like vases on a mantle, determined to make her understand. "She needs stability. And reassurance. She needs to know that your love is constant. That it'll still be there when she wakes up tomorrow."
Natalia tried not to cry as the truth hit her, her knuckles white with effort. I hurt her. So much more than I imagined.
Olivia stepped back as the air drained, punched-out of her lungs. One shining teardrop tipped free from its mahogany home, slid down an olive cheek, and fell like a solitaire to shatter against the unpolished wood floor. Tears of sympathy stung at her eyes, and she hated herself for still caring. She summoned her anger like storm clouds to defend her, winding lightning into a coil to rip across the sky. "Don't you dare cry. You do not get to cry. You left me! Do you even know what that's like? To be abandoned by the one person you love most in the world at the one moment you need them to be there for you the most? Do you?!"
Olivia leaned back from those watery brown eyes as the air fled from her lungs. One shining teardrop tipped free from its mahogany home and sledded off a smooth cheek. A solitaire in free fall that spattered against the gazebo floor.
Tears of sympathy stung at Olivia's eyes, and she hated herself for still caring. Damn you, Natalia! She rallied her anger like storm clouds, winding words of lightning into a coil to slice through the other woman. "Don't you dare cry. You do not get to cry! You left me!" Her voice shivered as she stomped forward, close enough to reach her now. Close enough to smell her apple blossom shampoo.
Natalia's shoulders curled. Her hands clasped like a shield in front of her heart.
"Do you even know what that's like? To be abandoned by the one person you love most at the one moment you need them most?" Olivia clenched her jaw. Standing so close was a mistake. "Do you?!"
Natalia's tears flowed freely as chips of jade fell from the eyes across from her. Eyes that stole into her prayers and ignited her dreams. Olivia's stone mask lifted for the first time since Natalia's return as her anger withdrew and perched in the roof arch above her, flicking its wings anxiously in case it was recalled.
It was more than Natalia could do to gaze at the ivory skin and smooth planes of the face she loved and not forget the weeks apart and fall into her arms. Tell her first. She turned to the side and focussed on a cardinal chirping in the elm outside. "My mother...and my father...when I was pregnant with Rafael..." The words were thick in her mouth. Clinging to her tongue until her shaky breath blew them out. "They wanted me to give him up, and when I wouldn't they sued for custody and disowned me at the same time." She curled her fingers around the gazebo railing and leaned on it, a light breeze stirring her skirt and her long coffee-colored hair. She inhaled the park air and the smell of fresh cut grass as the whisper of footsteps approached behind her. "That was their mistake. The judge said she couldn't place him with people that would throw him away the first time he disappointed them. My father went to jail for contempt of court when he screamed fire and brimstone at the judge. And my mother never looked at me or spoke to me again."
A warm hand pressed into her back as Olivia stepped beside her. Natalia closed her eyes against another wave of tears and sighed. There's still a chance for us. She looked sideways into wary emeralds. "All I could see was the same nightmare repeating. One stupid mistake costing me my whole family. The same stupid mistake."
Olivia slipped her arm across the smooth black and white dress and around Natalia's waist. The thrill of holding her again, feeling her warmth along her side, drove back the siege of grievances battering to reclaim her thoughts. "You should have told me."
Natalia leaned against the taller woman. Reaching down, she drew a line with her fingers from Olivia's elbow to her hand as it rose to meet hers. She held it gently with both hands, running her thumbs over fine bones and studying a pale scar on the middle knuckle before looking up at her face. "I wasn't thinking clearly. I just wanted it to not be true. I felt so desperate." She turned in Olivia's arm and stepped back to hold both her hands, trying to say with her eyes how much she regretted it now. "You and I were barely together. We hadn't even kissed. And then for me to walk up to you and say 'I'm pregnant by my ex-fiance'?" She dipped her head. "I was terrified of losing you. And Father Ray kept saying 'Go away. Go clear your mind and pray for God's guidance.' So...I went."
A shutter closed behind Olivia's eyes, cold garnets again. She pulled her hands away and said flatly, "To a nunnery?"
"Yes." Natalia swallowed, her nerves flurrying awake from their brief respite. "And I did pray, and I realized that this baby isn't a punishment or a curse no matter how it came to be. It's a gift from God. Just like my first child."
Olivia blinked, still reeling from the good Father's betrayal. He wanted to get her away from me, surround her with people who'd tell her not to love me...and then he lied to my face! Her gaze hardened. Why is every tough decision made by someone else for her?
"They confiscated my phone," Natalia said weakly, trying to decipher the tornado raging inside the other woman. "It was their...policy..." The excuse rang hollow as she took in the frozen face of it's victim. God, I'm an idiot. Why did I listen?
Olivia's mouth twisted. 'Policy!' She could taste the vinegar dripping from her ears. "He said, 'Get thee to a nunnery,'" she asked dangerously, "and that's all it took for you to throw away everything we had together?"
"No. " Natalia held her hands up, palms out in a placating gesture. "I wasn't trying to throw anything away. I was already so confused and afraid..." Her voice pinched off as a snake of fear cinched around her throat.
A hurricane calm settled into Olivia. "Afraid that I'd leave you when I found out."
Natalia nodded, waiting nervously for the approaching winds to rip into the shore.
"Hurt you like your parents did."
"So you decided to hurt me first." An FBI flood light would have looked away from Olivia's burning stare.
Natalia squeezed her hands together. "I'm sorry! I know I was wrong--"
"Sorry isn't good enough!" The vein in Olivia's temple strained against her skin, a fat, blue flame flanking her eye. "A relationship is supposed to have two people in it, Natalia. Two." She held up two fingers and then pointed between them. "You and me. But you never gave me a chance."
Natalia tried to breathe. She was drowning. Thrown out to sea while the winds of Olivia's tempest tore her cloistered island home plank from plank.
"You left me...without saying anything!" Olivia stabbed an accusing finger at her like a sword and blinked back rising tears. "You could have died for all I knew. Because you didn't trust me. Because you didn't respect me enough to talk to me or break their stupid phone rule just once!" The knots binding her composure unravelled with every word. "Because you didn't believe...that my love for you was the most powerful thing I'd ever felt, and if Hell itself had opened at your feet I would have jumped in just to stay with you."
"Oh, Olivia..." Natalia's voice broke.
"Now I understand how you felt..." Olivia choked, fighting to fire one last truth off before she slipped under the waves of her own maelstrom. "You broke my heart. And you broke my faith."
"Olivia, I love you," Natalia pleaded, as if that white magic could fix this mess. As if those words were Superman swooping under the plane to catch it before it shattered against the ground at 1000 mph.
"You said that before..." Olivia swiped her tears and smiled bitterly. "Those are the last three words you said to me before you ran off, remember? The three words that I longed to hear you say for months echoed in my head like a cruel joke every night you were gone."
Natalia took a deep breath. The storm had passed, and she swam through it like so many before. Long months ago when their combative truce began, Olivia said she wanted to die. Natalia had been unwavering. An anchor for her battered soul. She had only wanted Olivia to survive. Until one day, she found herself pulled aboard, sailing into the high seas with the most brash and beautiful captain she'd ever met. 'Jumped in just to stay with me...' And I'd do the same.
Natalia walked to her. Adoration and confidence hung from a thread glowed in her face. Olivia was too stunned to retreat, a gazelle watching her tiger close in.
"I love you. And I came back to Springfield for you." Natalia stepped into Olivia's personal space, tilting her chin up to look into green eyes still clouded with fear. Finally close enough to see the thin ray of hope peeking through. "Your picture is my bookmark, you know. So that every time I open my Bible I'm reminded of the most beautiful, most amazing blessing God ever brought into my life." She cradled Olivia's cheek in her hand, and Olivia sighed, closing her eyes in a second of weakness. The smell of perfume roses threatened to derail Natalia's thoughts.
"I want to be with you, Olivia." Natalia laid her free hand on Olivia's hip and curled her fingers into the silken hairs at the back of her neck. "I want to spend my life with you. And raise this baby together. I want you to move back home."
Olivia winced as reality plucked Natalia's vow from her heart. Frank... Fuck. She jerked away, and Natalia's arms fell, giving her space. He'll marry her for sure now. Olivia turned aside. "You want me to live with you and raise Frank's kid together?"
"Yes! We are great together with Emma." Deep, brown eyes lured her to give in. To come home. Their months together in the farmhouse had been the best of both their lives.
We'd be together for as long as it takes him to barge into the house without knocking. "This is not the same." Olivia rubbed a scowl into her forehead. He's probably there now. Watching CSI and eating fucking cookies.
"Why?" Natalia frowned.
"Because--" Fuck! 'Because you can't say no to anyone but me!' She ran a hand through her hair and sighed. Stay strong, Olivia. She'll hurt you again. Her eyes hooked on warm red lips, and the urge to just grab this woman and kiss some sense into her was overwhelming. Forget sense, just finally kiss her. "What does Frank think of all this?" I have to get out of here.
"I haven't told him yet."
Olivia's hand flew to her mouth to put her bark of laughter back in.
"I wanted to tell you first," Natalia said firmly.
"Well, now you have." Olivia stuffed her hands in her pockets and shifted from foot to foot. "I have to go. And you have a father to talk to. Talk. To." She pointed at Natalia. "People deserve that."
Olivia turned and left the gazebo, striding swiftly towards her car.
"Wait!" Natalia followed her, but Olivia didn't pause, and she couldn't catch her.
Staring at her back, Natalia's hands shook. She felt cut open, desperate. With no thought for who might hear, she cried out, "You still love me!"
Olivia spun instantly. "So what?!" She glared across the grey, concrete path. "What good is love without trust?"
Olivia's face blurred against Natalia's fresh tears. The streak of blue and brown and white stepped back, then turned and walked away.
Natalia sank to her knees and combed her hands into her hair. Oh God, please... Not like this.
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