DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Canon up until the morning of the Fourth of July Bauer BBQ, then I kind of go on a tangent from there.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com

All The King's Horses
By Geekgrrllurking


Chapter One

Dying had been simple really. It was the coming back that was hard.

He slammed the truck door shut and slid his sunglasses into place, slowly making his way up the walkway to the porch of the small farmhouse. He nodded his head, smiling at the well kept flower beds and neatly trimmed lawn. She had always wanted a little garden to putter around in.

His well worn cowboy boots sounded loud on the wide planks of the farmhouse porch, as he stepped up to the open door that was letting the warm July air circulate indoors.

"Okay, here goes." He murmured to himself, sliding his sunglasses into his shirt pocket and dragging a hand across the rough stubble on his cheek. Time to pay the piper.

"Did you forget something, sweetie?" Natalia Rivera called out from inside.

"Sort of…" He whispered under his breath and smirked to himself. Looking down at his boots, he took a deep breath, trying to settle his nerves. He could do this. He had to do this. He raised his hand and knocked on the door frame.

He heard footsteps and then saw a familiar petite form sashay towards the door.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize…" Natalia froze, not believing her eyes. Her hand grabbed the handle of the screen door and slowly opened the door. This couldn't be. Could it?

"Natalia?" He didn't like how pale she was turning, her eyes looking wild, scared. He watched her small hand reach out and touch his chest, as if making sure he was solid and not a ghost. "I'm very real." He smirked as her eyes snapped up to meet his and then rolled back, as she started to faint.

Catching her slight form in his arms, he gently lowered them both to the porch, watching as she fought to stay conscious, despite the intense shock of seeing him.

"Gus?" Natalia's eyes seemed to focus for a moment and then blinked closed as she grew slack in his arms.

Gus Aitoro just sat there, holding Natalia close and breathing her in, keeping her safe until she would come to.

"Well, that went well…"


Chapter Two

They had agreed, no more waiting. And yet, there she was.


Olivia Spencer would wait no more.

The phone call this morning with Natalia had only heightened her unease. Something was not right, hadn't been since that day at Company if she thought about it. Natalia had said she wasn't well, but still, there seemed to be something more bothering her. Something she just couldn't put her finger on.

Olivia didn't recognize the black half ton truck sitting in the driveway beside Natalia's car when she pulled up outside the farmhouse. She was glad now that she had left Emma at the barbeque under Phillip and Beth's watchful eyes. Slipping out of her vehicle, she made her way over to the truck and looked inside the cab. It was neat and tidy inside, with an empty truck bed too. There was nothing that would hint at who Natalia's visitor might be.

Curious, she headed down the familiar walkway to the porch, pulling on the screen door quietly, the inside door wide open to let in a gentle cooling breeze. It was unnaturally still inside. There was no Natalia busily dashing around the kitchen, cleaning up or rushing to finish one last thing before having to head out to the barbecue.

Olivia stepped into the house and listened for footsteps running around upstairs maybe. Instead she heard low voices coming from the other room, Natalia and her guest. She stepped through to the living room and stopped.

Natalia sat on the sofa, gulping down a glass of water as she stared at the man kneeling in front of her. He spoke softly to her, as if talking to a spooked horse. Dark haunted eyes turned to look up at her, shock evident even from where Olivia stood.

"Natalia?" Olivia took a step closer, wanting to take away whatever was troubling her, protect her as best as she could. It must have something to do with the stranger in their midst.

At the sound of her voice the visitor turned to look at her fully. He was so familiar, with his short dark hair and scruffy five o'clock shadow. As he stood up it came to her. Olivia took a small step backwards.

It couldn't be.

"No." Olivia shook her head, not believing her eyes as a hand rose automatically to her chest, fingertips lightly pressed against the faint scar tissue found there. Dear God, this changed everything.

"Olivia?" Natalia's voice cracked with emotion, tears welling as she looked up at the man standing in her living room. It was a miracle, except it didn't really feel like it.

Gus Aitoro took a tentative step forward, his hands raised as if surrendering to the police, trying to keep everyone calm with slow easy movements.

"It's really me." Gus kept his voice gentle and took another step towards her. Suspicious green eyes narrowed and she stared hard at him, not believing a word he said.

"I don't care who the fuck you say you are, but Gus Aitoro is dead." Olivia hissed, moving towards Natalia, placing herself between the two of them. Natalia reached out and tangled their fingers together, grateful for her silent support.

"I swear, I'm alive. It's a long story, but I'm back now." Gus tried again, swallowing hard at the hateful look being sent his way.

"If you're Gus then whose heart is beating in my chest?" Olivia all but growled at him. Gus looked down, rubbing his jaw trying to find the best way to explain. This was not going to be pretty. He glanced up into the glittering green eyes ready for the worst.

"OH GOD!!"

Natalia cried out and suddenly clutched at her stomach, doubling over. A searing pain shot through her, and she gasped trying to catch her breath. Olivia and Gus were immediately at her side, as another stabbing pain gripped her.

"What is it, honey. Tell me what's wrong?" Olivia tried to hold her close, rocking with her as Natalia hugged her stomach and groaned again.

"I-I think I'm losing the baby." Natalia panted, gasping for air, all the while praying she was wrong. Olivia and Gus both froze and stared at the woman they loved, stunned.



Chapter Three

He hadn't expected this. Not at all.

It was probably all Olivia's fault somehow.


Rafe Rivera sighed and looked down at his cell phone, staring hard at the text message, tears welling in his eyes. He may not be happy with his Ma but he figured they had time to work this all out. Wiping at his eyes he reread the message.

Meet us at Cedars. It's your mother, she isn't good. – OSpencer 11:47am

The bus lurched to a stop and he glanced up, startled to see Cedars Hospital looming there already. Pocketing his phone, he raced down and out the back doors of the city bus. Looking both ways, he quickly dashed across the street and started through the parking lot towards the emergency entrance doors.

He saw Olivia immediately, standing at the reception desk, pale as a ghost, filling out papers. He scanned the waiting room, praying his mother was there somewhere. There was a lady with a wailing child, an elderly man and his wife knitting, and a tall familiar looking dude by the bank of telephones.

Olivia growled something to the nurse at reception and tossed the clipboard back to her, then turned to finally see him. She looked like hell, hair askew and makeup running a little from her obvious tears. Rafe knew something was very wrong.

"Rafe, thank God you're here." Olivia exhaled, happy to see him, relieved that something was normal around here. The day had been almost too much for her poor heart to take. She wouldn't let herself dwell on that problem either right now. She glanced hesitantly over her shoulder at the man who had caused all this trouble and watched as Rafe's gaze followed hers.

Gus stepped forward, staring at the young man who had just rushed into the room. This was not the best place for the two of them to meet again, but there really wasn't a good way to do any of this. A part of him cursed his employers for putting him into this position, even as he took another step towards his son.

"Raphael" Gus spoke softly and smiled slightly at the suddenly confused man. He watched the sharp dark eyes go wide with surprise and disbelief. He was starting to get used to it now, the reactions of finding a dead man walking among you. "It's your father. I'm alive, son."

Rafe just shook his head, unable to wrap his head around what he was seeing. He glanced back over to Olivia, no wonder she was so miserable looking. He turned back to the man standing in front of him now, the shock starting to wear off a little, being replaced by an emotion he was very familiar with.

Panting with rage, Rafe slammed a fist into Gus' jaw, decking the older man, and sending him tumbling down into the rows of waiting room chairs and onto the floor. He ignored Olivia's snort of pleasure and simply glared down with fury at the crumpled man on the floor.

"Fuck you."


Chapter Four

If one more person called him a "good man", he was going to scream.

He knew he wasn't a good man, not nearly. He was selfish and needy and he didn't want to let Natalia go without a fight, but he didn't know how to fight this spell Olivia had over her. Hell, he didn't know why he even cared anymore, after everything they had put him through, but love did strange things to a man. Which was why when he had gotten Olivia's text message to come to Cedars right away, he didn't even hesitate.

No, he wasn't a good man, he was a fool.

Frank Cooper stepped through the emergency entrance doors of Cedars Hospital into the small waiting room and watched as Rafe slugged the familiar looking man in front of him and swore. Olivia was no help, as she stood chuckling as the poor victim fell to the floor.

Dashing the few feet to get to the boy, Frank wrapped his arms around his temperamental ward, cursing him for his quick temper. Rafe needed to find a better way to deal with his anger than to resort to violence all the time. He sighed and held on tighter to the wiggling young man. It looked like it would be up to him to do it.

"Let me go!" Rafe growled resisting his sudden capture, struggling in Frank's strong grip.

"Rafe, calm down." Frank pulled him towards the far wall and shoved him back against it, holding him there until the boy's wild glare seemed to focus again. Something was seriously wrong here. "What the hell is going on?"

"That's exactly what I was going to ask him." Rafe pointed to the man slowly getting up from the floor. Frank turned, following Rafe's gaze and really looked at the injured stranger. He blinked, and then blinked again. He looked eerily like...

"Gus?" Frank took a step forward and cocked his head to side, trying to figure out how this could possibly be.

Finally back on his feet, Gus worked his jaw a little, trying to get the stinging ache to stop. Rubbing at his mouth, he wiped away a little trickle of blood, oddly pleased with his son's nice right hook.

"In the flesh, Frank." Gus straightened out the chairs back into their proper position and nodded at the older man and his wife who had been sitting near where he had fallen, both looking very startled at the recent events.

"That's still up for debate..." Olivia murmured, glaring at the man suspiciously. She glanced over her shoulder, shocked to see Rafe cross his arms and come to stand beside her.

"Is Natalia all right?" Blake Marler asked, bursting through the emergency entrance doors, tugging her large purse back over her shoulder. She had been standing next to Frank at the barbeque when he got the text message and driven with him to the hospital. "Is the baby okay?"

"Baby?" Frank and Rafe turned to stare at Blake and then looked back at Olivia.

"You knew about the baby?" Olivia hissed, turning on the flustered redhead.

"Natalia is pregnant?" Frank gasped, feeling a little woozy and needing to sit down. Actually, what he really needed was a drink.

"Natalia and Frank?" Gus looked over to Rafe, stunned. "Seriously?"

"It gets better, just wait." Rafe smiled softly, enjoying the older man's confusion. His father had made his bed, now he'd have to sleep in it.

"Damn." Blake's hand flew to her lips. She looked down at her feet and shook her head, furious with herself. Glancing back, up she saw four sets of eyes staring hard at her, waiting for an explanation. "She swore me to secrecy, and I just blew it." The tall man rubbing his jaw caught her attention. Where did she know him from?

"Hey, you look a lot like..." A hot wave of shock rushed through her as Blake suddenly realized why the one man looked so familiar. "Oh, my God. You're supposed to be dead!"

"I can explain." Gus looked around at the upset faces around him. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. This was so not going to his plan. Opening them slowly again, he knew it was time to come clean. "I promise, I can explain it all."

"Excuse me. Is Natalia Rivera's family here?" A tall, young doctor stood by the swinging doors, clip board in hand, busily scribbling away. He looked up to see several expectant faces looking back at him.

"I have news."


Chapter Five

Her life was complicated. Nothing new there, it had always been an uphill struggle. But this? This was a tangled mess.

She just wanted to run away from it all and hide, to give herself a chance to catch up and think things through. It was as if her world had been shattered into a million pieces and she didn't even know where to start picking them up again.

Natalia Rivera sighed and wiped at the tear trickling down her cheek, staring out the window from her hospital bed. She played with the gold cross around her neck and closed her eyes, trying to stay as calm as possible. What was she going to do?

Survive, like she always did.

"The doctor said you've been asking for me." Olivia Spencer pushed the door open and took in the familiar curves of the small woman lying in the bed. As she made her way across the room to stand at the end of the narrow bed, she watched Natalia turn at the sound of her voice. She looked so sad, and Olivia swallowed hard at the hope and fear that suddenly flashed across those dark expressive eyes. Eyes Olivia would forever get lost in, given half the chance.

"I'm so glad you're here." Natalia looked so fragile lying there under the thin covers, wires and an IV line running across her body. The faint beep of a heart monitor was all that broke the silence in the room. "I wasn't sure you'd even want to see me."

"There's no where else I'd rather be." Olivia moved quietly to the edge of the bed, her eyes filling with tears. Olivia sniffed and smiled down at the other woman. "You need to stay calm, okay? Doctors orders."

"They gave me something, it's helped." Natalia sighed and nodded slowly, never taking her eyes from Olivia's, clinging to even this tentative contact with the older woman. She needed to fix this mess, starting right here and right now.

"Olivia, I—" Natalia hesitated, not quite sure what to say, knowing it wouldn't be nearly enough. She took a calming breath and bravely carried on. "I'm sorry."

Olivia nodded sadly, slowly pulling away and turning to look out the window, absently taking in the gorgeous sunny day outside. Her mind turned to thoughts of Emma probably running Phillip ragged in the three legged race. That's where they should have been. It was supposed to be their independence day. Instead, she felt like it was all slipping away from her, ashes blowing in the wind.

Funny how quickly things change.

Natalia knew this was it. This was the moment that would make or break them. She sent a silent prayer of hope while her stomach churned with fear. She watched as if in slow motion as Olivia turned and stared at her, eyes welling with moisture, ripping Natalia's heart out with each tear slowly falling.

"When were you going to tell me?"


Chapter Six

She couldn't stop the words from escaping her lips, the pain from coming out. She dreaded the answer and yet she needed to know. This was all hinging on trust and faith, and what the hell did she know about either of those?

"When were you going to tell me?"

Her eyes were welling with tears as she turned to stare at the woman who meant everything to her, slowly trickling down her cheeks. Natalia flushed and looked away first, tugging nervously at the thin blanket covering her slight frame.

"About which, Gus or…?" A delicate hand absently rubbed over the gentle swell of her belly.

Olivia followed the movement, staring intently at Natalia's hand idling rubbing her stomach, finally noticing the slight bulge for what it was. A baby. Frank's baby. A baby that Natalia had almost lost because of this crazy mess swirling around them. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard.

This was it, the fork in the road that needed to be navigated.

Olivia knew she could handle this two ways. She could just run screaming, pointing fingers and snarling snarky comments as she went, a never ending stream of martinis waiting for her to drown her sorrows in for the next month. After all, that tended to be her usual response to this type of pain and betrayal.

Her other route was to hang on for dear life. To swallow down the hurt and the fear and work through this mess as a team. Support each other and figure it out as they go along, to be a true partner in each others life. For better or worse, right? Olivia sighed and moved closer to the narrow bed and the scared woman laying on it.

It seemed Olivia's heart had made that decision for her long ago, she just needed the strength now to follow it. She reached out and put a shaking hand over top of Natalia's, moving their tangled fingers together to caress her belly, to connect with the little life stubbornly growing deep inside despite everything. If that trait alone didn't mark the poor kid as a Spencer then she didn't know what did.

"About our child."

"Our...?" Natalia stared up at Olivia, the words not exactly registering, not really believing that it was real. And yet there she was, basking in the love shining back at her. Olivia nodded and bent over, nuzzling along her hairline before affectionately bumping foreheads with her.

A laugh bubbled out through a sob, Natalia relieved beyond belief with Olivia's words as she pulled the older woman close and clung to her, never wanting to let go. "Oh my God, I was so scared I'd lose you because of this."

"I love you, Natalia." Olivia whispered softly, pressing butterfly kisses along the smooth skin of her forehead, tracing along delicate eyebrows. "I choose you, and this little one and the life we can build together."

"I love you too, so much." Natalia ran her hand along Olivia's flushed cheek, up into her thick hair and tugged her closer, their lips a hairs breadth apart.

"No more waiting..."

Natalia leaned forward and pressed against the softest lips she had ever imagined. Olivia moaned softly against her mouth, and kissed her back. Claiming and being claimed. Loving and being loved.

Finally the world seemed to slide back into place and they had found home.


Chapter Seven

There should have been violins with soft music playing, not the beep, beep, beep of a heart monitor. There should have been moonlight, with stars twinkling from above, not the bright florescent task lights beaming down. They should have been standing in the middle of nowhere together, lost in each other, not stuck in a busy hospital where anyone could come barging at any given moment.

And yet, none of that mattered in this single, perfect moment.

It was as if time stood still, everything fading around the two women except the thundering of their hearts and the seductive touch of the other, keeping them anchored to the here and now. The gentle give and take of their kiss, passionate and comforting all at once. An unspoken promise to each other. Finally they broke apart, their eyes blinking open, smiles and dimples and happy sighs filling in the silence.

"Not exactly how I imagined our first kiss, " Olivia murmured, gently running the pad of her thumb along Natalia's full lower lip. "But I wouldn't trade it for the world." She felt the lips quirk up into another smile and she couldn't resist the temptation of tasting them one more time. Dipping her head, she claimed them again with a soft moan.

A crash outside the door made them jump apart, abruptly reminding them where they were. They chuckled as they suddenly heard a nurse cursing a blue streak in the hallway. Olivia glanced down at the tired looking brunette and sighed. The stress of this whole situation was written all over her face. She shifted and sat down on the edge of the narrow bed, running a soothing hand through the dark hair.

"We still have a lot to talk about." Olivia tried to focus again, needing to get her heart rate back under control. Idly tracing where the scar on her chest peeked out of her shirt, she watched Natalia's dark eyes fill with tears. "Ssshh, now. Don't cry."

"W-what happened to Gus?" Natalia nodded, wiping the tears away with the back of her hand, trying not to work herself up too much, knowing that it was bad for the baby. Olivia looked quickly away, obviously not happy about the return of the man into their lives.

"After your doctor told us that you and the baby were stable, Frank said he'd take him downtown to confirm--"

"Wait. Frank was there? He knows about the baby?" Natalia covered her mouth with her hand, closing her eyes, regret washing over her. This was not how she had wanted him to find out. He had deserved to hear it from her personally.

"Yeah, Blake got a little...worried about you and came rushing in and blurted it all out." Olivia looked down at the thin blanket and started twisting it in her fingers. "Rafe was there…"

"Rafe knows too?" Natalia murmured shaking her head in disbelief as Olivia just nodded silently. "God, I never should have confided in her…"

"Why did you?' Olivia ran a hand though her hair and stood suddenly, moving towards the window. She stared outside, trying to keep the anger and frustration and a million other emotions under control. "I mean, I don't understand how you could tell Blake before you could tell me."

Olivia's voice was low, trying to stay calm, but Natalia could hear the pain underneath.

"I'm so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt you…" Natalia sighed. She watched as Olivia turned back to stare at her, tears welling again as she looked up into the pained green eyes and knew she would have to find the words to make her understand.

"I didn't know for sure that I was pregnant until yesterday. I was scared and confused and Blake had figured it out. I asked her to come with me to the hospital for the blood test. I-I was so ashamed and so scared Olivia." Natalia looked down, tugging at the blanket. "I was scared I would lose you."

"Natalia, no." Olivia whispered, moving back to cover her hand with her own, stilling the nervous movement and reassuring the younger woman with the touch.

"Everyone I love abandoned me when I was pregnant with Rafe. And I had already put you through so much, betrayed what we were just starting to recognize between us by being with Frank in the first place. I just couldn't tell you until I was sure, and even then, I was terrified that you would just go." Natalia looked away, unable to take the pain reflected back at her from Olivia's eyes. "And I wouldn't have blamed you one bit. How could you to be with me when I'm carrying someone else's child? God, a part of me just wanted to run away and try to figure it all out."

Olivia reached out, cupping the younger woman's cheek to bring her around to look her in the eyes again.

"I would have found you and brought you home," Olivia smiled softly, tangling their fingers together. "Or gone crazy trying. It's not important now, I'm not letting you go. You're stuck with me."

"Promise?" Natalia whispered, wanting desperately to believe.

"I promise." Olivia dipped her head, sealing the deal with a tender kiss. Pulling apart they smiled at each other a moment longer.

"Besides, I kind of like being the sexy other woman you're leaving your husband for." Olivia waggled her eyebrows playfully, flashing a naughty grin for the tired woman before her.

Natalia closed her eyes. For a glorious moment she had forgotten that latest wrinkle in her life. Opening them again, she stared hard at the grinning woman in front of her.

"You're not the 'other woman', you're the only woman for me and don't you forget it." Natalia smirked back, rewarded with another quick kiss. Snuggling together, they took comfort in the arms of the other.

"Speaking of my dearly departed husband, I wonder what he has been up to all this time?" Natalia murmured softly. Olivia sighed, tucking the dark head under her chin and holding on even tighter.

"That's the million dollar question, isn't it…"


Chapter Eight

Hindsight is always 20/20.

He didn't know if he'd do it again, if given the option. It had messed up his life so badly, he wasn't sure sometimes if he'd made the right choice.

He knew taking the assignment was going to be hard. Hard on him and on those he loved, if he even made it out the other side of the job. But they had him between a rock and a hard place, and when they dangled a matching heart ready for transplant into the mix…

Well, how could he say no?

Gus looked up from his corner of the squad room, waiting for Frank to come back to tell them all that he was who he said he was. Fingerprints don't lie, government agencies on the other hand…

His eyes met another pair of dark brown eyes, still staring at him, full of hurt and anger. His son looked like he was ready to kill him. And to be honest he couldn't really blame the kid. Rafe glanced up at the door as movement there caught his attention.

Gus stood as Frank came into the room, an open file in his hand, not looking happy.

"Prints match. You're who you say you are, Aitoro." Frank glanced at Rafe, who had simply closed his eyes in dismay, nodding silently to himself accepting the truth. Frank slid a hand over the boy's shoulder, giving a comforting squeeze before turning back to face him again.

Gus' eyes narrowed as he took in the dynamics between the two. It would appear that Frank had weaseled his way not only into his wife's bed, but also into the affections of his son. Something he had not expected, of Frank, or of his grieving widow.

"I'm so glad we agree…" Gus smiled dangerously. There would be plenty of time to take care of Frank. The man was no match for him where Natalia's love was concerned. She had loved him for so long, Gus was sure she would come back to him, given time and a little persuasion. Besides he was her husband after all.

And as for the child, well, Gus knew would learn to love Natalia's baby. And after that child was born, maybe they would work on growing their little family even more. Gus smiled at the thought, he loved kids and Natalia had always wanted a huge family.

"Olivia just texted me." Rafe finally spoke, ignoring his father and looking directly at Frank. "Ma was released, the baby is fine and they're on their way here."

Frank nodded and leaned against the desk a slightly dazed smile on his face, obviously still getting used to the idea of being a daddy again. Gus' stomach churned slightly at the thought of the man touching Natalia, the other man's child growing in his wife's belly.

Natalia had been what had gotten him through it all, the long days and nights not sure if he was coming or going, all the while knowing that she would be safe in Springfield with Rafe. His family would be taken care of while he was gone they had assured him. And when he returned Gus felt it would be easy enough to just pick things up again. Natalia would forgive him once she heard why he had left. Gus knew he just had to explain it to her and then try to rebuild the trust between them. He had faith in their love and in the strength of their marriage vows. He had faith in Natalia.

Gus's head snapped up, going into full alert, as he heard a sudden ruckus down the hallway. A familiar voice could be heard and then the door burst open into the squad room. Gus was almost afraid to look.

A stunned, Alan Spaulding stood there, not quite believing his eyes.

"Dear God, it's true!"


Chapter Nine

Patience is a virtue.

And he could be a very virtuous man.

Not a lot of his friends, or enemies, truly understood just how patient he could be, and it was often to their downfall.

First Phillip and now Gus had returned. Eventually Alan-Michael would too. He didn't necessarily like it but he understood that it was sometimes necessary for him to protect his family. It's what a father does; protect his children, no matter what the cost.

The squad room fell silent as the two men, father and son, stood and just stared at each other. Alan took a step closer, and then another before a huge grin broke out.

"You're finally back! It's over then?" Alan was almost afraid to hope it was true. Gus smiled and nodded at his father.

"You knew?" Rafe stood, stunned at this latest level of deception, glaring at the two men. "All this time? All the suffering we went through, all the mistakes I…" Rafe ran a frustrated hand through his short dark hair. Frank put a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder, trying to calm him down.

"Yes Rafe, your grandfather knew," Gus shifted, a little concerned about another right hook flying at his head, but he moved closer to the angry young man anyway. He didn't like seeing Frank stepping into this mentor role with the boy. He glared at Frank, smiling slightly as he saw the hand fall away from his son's shoulder. Gus shuffled slightly and looked down at his boots for a moment, trying to find the right words before looking up into hard, dark eyes.

"I needed someone here to watch over things while I was gone, to handle the funeral arrangements and cover my tracks here in Springfield." Gus took another cautious step nearer. "Someone who understood the situation and who I could trust to take care of my family while I went under deep cover. I'm sorry, Rafe. I didn't know the unfortunate path it would set you on. And I only found out recently about everything…"

"Unfortunate path? Is that what you call screwing up everything important in my life?" Rafe growled at his father.

Gus glanced over at Alan who just looked away. There was no way the older man could have stopped Rafe from doing the things he did. Still, Gus felt like Alan had let him down, and by the look on Alan's face, he knew it too. Shaking his head, he turned back to face his own son. Time for a bit of a wake up call.

"You are not a boy any more, Raphael. You made your own choices, and mistakes, like any man. I made hard choices as well and I am sorry for the pain it caused you and your mother. But I did not make you do anything; you chose to do these things. And now you must live with the consequences." Gus stared hard at his son, not willing to accept his excuses. Gus looked away first, knowing he had made his point. "Just like I must."

Rafe glowered at his father, still upset, but he also knew it was true. Taking deep breaths to try to calm his anger, he slumped back into the chair by the desk and fumed.

"How could you not tell Ma what you knew at the very least?" Rafe glared up at Alan, the hurt and anger glittering in his eyes.

Alan sighed and rubbed his chin. It had been so tempting to tell the woman, especially with what had been developing recently, with the engagement to that idiot Cooper and this thing with Olivia. However, he figured if he just was patient, Natalia would eventually turn to him for help, to either get out of her love less marriage or free from Olivia's destructive clutches and then she would be his…

"Alan knew this whole time?" Natalia stood in the squad room doorway staring at all the men in her life in disbelief. Olivia stepped up behind the petite brunette, placing a comforting hand on the small of her back, green eyes narrowing dangerously.

Alan smiled softly. Things were about to get very interesting...


Chapter Ten

God was obviously playing some huge, sick joke. And it wasn't very funny.

While he still couldn't quite wrap his head around everything just yet, the whole 'Ma is a lesbian' thing just didn't seem quite as earth shattering anymore. Especially when compared to the other secrets being kept around here. Rafe shook his head in sad disbelief.

Running a hand through his thick hair, Rafe's head snapped up as he heard his mother's angry voice from the hallway, and stared as she and Olivia stood glaring from the doorway. He noticed the way Olivia moved closer, running soothing circles along his mother's back, subtly connected to each other even in this hail storm of trouble.

"You need to try to stay calm for the baby, okay?" Olivia murmured quietly behind his fuming mother, the whole time looking like she was ready to kill someone herself. Natalia sighed and nodded, tight lipped as Rafe just smiled, a part of him enjoying someone mothering her for a change.

"Baby?" Surprised, Alan glanced down to Natalia's gently swelling belly, before swinging around to stare hard at Frank, who fidgeted and blushed slightly, wisely staying silent for a change. Alan turned back to throw a nasty smirk at Olivia. "So, which one of you is the father?"

Olivia took a menacing step forward, only to be stopped by Natalia's hand reaching out to grab her own, their fingers tangling together.

"Not funny, Alan and don't try to change the subject." Natalia growled at the older man. "You knew that Gus was alive and you never said anything to us?"

Alan squared his jaw and stubbornly looked at his son, the one who had started all of this in the first place. Gus meanwhile was preoccupied, silently watching the two women interact with each other, starting to realize what was in front of him the whole time. Why Olivia had been so protective at the farmhouse. The way Natalia had cuddled up to her until the ambulance had arrived. Olivia filling out the paperwork at the hospital.

"I was sworn to secrecy." Alan moved to stand beside Gus, who was now blatantly staring at Olivia and Natalia's hands, which were still tightly entwined. He could almost see the pieces falling together in his son's mind.

"What did Alan mean, which one is the father?" Gus blinked, looking at Frank who could only open and close his mouth, like a fish out of water. He turned back to stare at the two women, Olivia's hand sliding up to Natalia's shoulder, pulling her a little closer. "Oh, my…"

Gus just stared. This changed everything.

"I told you it would get better." Rafe finally found his own voice and smirked, enjoying this more than he thought he would. He crossed his arms and waited, surprised to find himself kind of rooting for his mom and Olivia.

"You see, Natalia and I…well—" Olivia tried to find the right words.

"We fell in love with each other, Nicky" Natalia smiled up at Olivia, proud to finally be able to say the words.

Gus swallowed hard and tried to grasp this new development. "I was a little surprised that you had become such good friends, but…lovers?" Natalia blushed a little at the wording but didn't correct him. Gus sat down and shook his head slowly. "But you hated each other when I left."

"Things changed. We had chemistry from the very start." Olivia cocked her head, remembering. "I guess we just didn't know how to channel it. They say there's a fine line between love and hate…" She slid her hand down Natalia's arm and tangled their fingers together.

"Natalia was…confused for a while, I think." Frank spoke up from his perch on his desk, smiling softly at the suddenly surprised look on his former fiancée's face. "And we got very close, but she didn't love me the same way she does Olivia. So she ended up calling off the wedding instead of messing up so many lives. And now I'm about to be a daddy again."

"Oh, Frank." Natalia smiled sadly at her friend. "I'm so sorry. I only found out for sure yesterday and I wanted to tell you myself."

"Don't be sorry." Frank stood and walked around his desk to sink down into his leather chair. "After the shock of finding out about the baby wore off and then realizing that we nearly lost it. Well, it kind of put things in perspective." He swallowed hard and glanced over at the young man standing at the other side of his desk. "I just have to look at Rafe and I know this baby couldn't have a better mother. We'll figure the rest out, okay?"

Natalia and Frank shared a smile, and she nodded, grateful that this at least wasn't going to be a problem. She didn't know if she could handle any more at this point.

"Well, that's all warm and fuzzy, but Natalia is still married." Alan smiled "Do those vows mean nothing to you now?"

"So help me God, I'm going to hit him soon…" Olivia grumbled under her breath, causing Natalia to look down and grin, before addressing the question. Taking a deep breath to settle herself, Natalia looked up, ready for this fight.

"Did they mean nothing to Gus?" Natalia asked harshly, pinning Gus with a hard stare. "You tossed them to the side easily enough when it was convenient. Did you really think I'd still be here, waiting for you? I loved you Nicky, I did. And I think a part of me always will." She gently squeezed Olivia's hand for reassurance, needing her strong presence beside her, drawing strength to continue. "But I moved on. I had to, to survive. I-I thought you were dead."

"I knew there would be obstacles coming back home. That I'd have to rebuild things with you Natalia, regain your trust. You already called off your wedding to Frank, and you know I wanted to adopt more children, raise a family with you. I can love your child, and you too. Give us a chance, after all those years searching for me. Don't give up on us." Gus grasped at straws, knowing what he was about to say was low, but he didn't care. He had nothing left to lose "I'm still your husband, Natalia."

"That doesn't make me your property." Natalia growled as Olivia stiffened beside her, as if hit.

"Not to mention that whole, 'til death do us part clause…" Olivia murmured, earning her a stern look from the angry brunette. "I'm just sayin'…"

"Of all people, you should have told me, Nicky." Natalia sighed sadly and shook her head. "Olivia and I are a family now. We grew so close after your death, more than just friends. I love her and I don't need any vows to tell me that I am hers. Mind, body and soul." Natalia practically quivered with emotion.

"Natalia…" Gus took a step towards her, only to come face to face with Olivia and more surprisingly, Rafe right beside her helping to block his movements.

"I think we all need some time to cool off and adjust to things." Frank said carefully from his chair, trying to defuse the situation.

"Agreed." Natalia said sadly, as Gus exhaled and stepped back to linger by Alan's side again. Olivia's BlackBerry chimed, breaking some of the tension still swirling in the room as she turned to quickly read the incoming text message.

"It's Phillip, wondering where we are. Emma's getting worried." Olivia murmured softly. "You need to calm down a little anyway. Why don't we call it a day here?" She tucked a stray strand of hair behind Natalia's ear and smiled.

Natalia sighed and nodded. She was exhausted and spending time with Olivia and Emma sounded like heaven.

"Call me tomorrow Nicky." Natalia said as she took Olivia's hand again and headed for the door. "I want to hear the whole sordid story and I don't need half of Springfield there either." She glared at Alan for good measure. She smiled softly at Rafe and winked, before leading Olivia, still glowering at Gus and Alan, from the room.

Rafe stood and shook his head at his father and grandfather, before following the women out. Things were starting to make more sense to him now. Olivia had proven herself today. She wasn't the manipulative bitch twisting his mother to the dark side. She was the only one in all of this who truly seemed to care about what happened to his mom. And that spoke volumes more than anything the rest of his family had done recently.

At the end of the day, Rafe only wanted his mother to be happy. He watched from the steps of the police station as Olivia opened the passenger door for Natalia and made sure she was settled before closing it and hopping into the driver's seat. As they pulled out of the parking lot and turned towards Rick Bauer's house, he nodded to himself. It was time to grow up and start making some good decisions for a change.

Rafe looked up into the bright afternoon sunshine and smiled, pulling out his cell phone.

For the first time in a long time, he knew exactly what he had to do.


Chapter Eleven

Independence Day.

The Fourth of July. A day to celebrate the home of the brave and the land of the free. And that concept was about to be exercised in sleepy little Springfield.

It was going to be a day to remember.

It had been a glorious afternoon, with lots of sunshine and laughter, spent with good friends and extended family. The Bauer barbeque was a Springfield institution, the who's who in town laughing and mingling, just plain having fun.

Emma didn't really take any notice of that stuff though. She had been too busy most of the day playing, chasing her friends and family around the pool. There had already been the epic water balloon fight and coming up soon would be her favourite, the three-legged race.

Emma looked around at the adults gathered on the patio by the house. Doctor Rick was kind of hidden in a thick cloud of smoke coming from the grill. Uncle Josh and Maureen's dad, Matt stood nearby laughing at him while having a beer. Clarissa's mom, Blake was back from her trip to the mini mart, and she stood to one side, chewing her thumbnail and looking a little worried about something. There was no sign of her mom or Natalia anywhere though, and it was getting close to race time. She would just have to do like Natalia always said and have a little faith. Besides, she had promised she'd be here.

The girl sighed and turned, looking out across the large lawn. Her annoying big brother James was playing Frisbee with Daisy and her dad was standing talking to Lillian. Emma frowned. They both looked very serious and a little sad. Maybe they were worried about her mom and Natalia too.

Phillip shook his head at the older woman, who looked like she was about to cry and then he jumped a little as his cell phone buzzed. Pulling it out, he quickly looked up from reading the text message, and found Emma staring back at him. He smiled, and nodded at the anxious girl.

"Yes, finally!" Emma pumped her fist and grinned back at her dad, suddenly excited again. She knew he would be able to find them.

The happy girl skipped along the edge of the pool, past her older sister Lizzie who was sunbathing in one of the loungers and Bill, who had just sank down in the seat beside her with their drinks. He smiled and waved up at her as she scooted past.

Emma still vaguely remembered when Bill had lived with them. She knew she had been sad when he left, and a little mad that he had made her mommy cry, always when she was alone in her bedroom late at night. She just hoped that Bill wouldn't make Lizzie cry someday too.

After Bill had left, her mom had always said it was just the two of them against the world. That they were a family and nothing and no one would ever change that. However, it wasn't until they had moved into the farmhouse that Emma truly felt like she had a home like a normal family again.

Natalia always seemed to know how to make her mommy laugh. She read stories at bedtime using funny voices, gave hugs that seemed to go on forever and was the only one who could make peanut butter and banana sandwiches just right. And for a time, it had been the three of them against the world. And then things changed.

Emma looked down and kicked a rock. All she knew was that she still really missed Natalia and their home. Her head snapped up as she heard a car door slam in the distance and she turned to look towards the driveway.

They were here! She took off across the lawn towards the car park at top speed.

Olivia came around to the passenger side of her Nissan and waited for Natalia, sliding her sunglasses up onto the top of her head as they stood in the shade of the huge trees in the front of Rick's house. She shifted her bag higher onto her shoulder while Natalia came to stand beside her, sliding her hand down to tangle their fingers together.

"I can't believe we're finally here, Olivia," Natalia beamed up at the older woman. "No more waiting, just like we planned."

Olivia raised their entwined hands and kissed their fingers, staring intensely into the serious dark eyes before her.

"I know today has been crazy," Natalia murmured her hand coming to cup Olivia's soft cheek. "But I love you, and everyone else can just--"

"Ah! Swear jar!" Olivia smirked back and waggled her eyebrows. The highs and lows of the day had been nearly overwhelming, they needed this time together to regroup and just laugh together. To just be a family again.

"I love you too." Olivia whispered, leaning closer. They stared at each other a moment longer, plump lips beckoning to be kissed. Olivia shook her head and offered her a slow, lazy grin instead. "Now come on Trouble, our daughter is waiting for us. We have a lot to tell her."

Natalia felt tears well at the truth of that, one hand curving over the gentle swell of her belly and the other squeezing Olivia's hand. Her family. It all still seemed a little surreal, but once she took care of this mess with Gus they could move on with their lives.

They hadn't gotten two feet when they saw a nine year old blur coming for them, arms spread wide as they were all but tackled in the girl's enthusiastic welcome.

"You're here!" Emma murmured against Natalia's chest. "I was afraid you weren't gonna come."

"I wouldn't miss it for the world, sweetie." Natalia glanced up at a smiling Olivia, and she meant it. How could she have ever even considered running from this? Fear did strange things. She thanked God right then and there for the gifts in her life and turned her attention back to the happy girl wrapped tight around her. "And we have a three-legged race to win."

"Before that though, we need to talk to you Jellybean." Olivia squatted down, bringing herself to Emma's eye level. She momentarily glanced up at Natalia, thrilled with what she was about to say and then turned back to her curious daughter. "How do you feel about moving our stuff back to the farmhouse and living with Natalia again?"

"Really?" Emma asked cautiously, afraid to hope it was true. Her mom smiled and nodded, and then she looked up at a grinning Natalia. Emma squealed and launched herself at her mom, nearly toppling them both over.

"Jeez, how much sugar has Phillip fed you today?" Olivia murmured under her breath, laughing softly at her daughter's excitement.

"I'd say that's a yes." Natalia chuckled, before being group hugged by her two girls. Olivia stood and moved closer, sliding her arm around her shoulders. Natalia couldn't help herself, she nuzzled along Olivia's exposed neck, soaking up the love and warmth, just breathing in her clean scent, thrilling as strong arms pulled her tighter and just held her there.

Olivia sighed happily and looked down at her bouncing daughter. It was time to tell her everything and she knew it. Hugging Natalia tight one last time, she moved away and smiled at her little girl.

"There's more though, Emma." Olivia took the girl's hand and they walked over to a small stone bench near a flower bed and sat.

"You know how much I love Natalia and she loves me…" She began awkwardly. God this was hard.

"Sure, you're BFF's…" Emma squinted and tried to figure out where her mom was going with all this.

"Well, you see honey. Natalia and I love each other like mommies and daddies love each other. You remember the talk we had about sometimes boys fall in love with boys and girls fall in love with girls…" Olivia looked hesitantly up at Natalia, who was smiling encouragingly. Emma looked deep in thought and then her face brightened.

"Oh, you mean it's like my Miss Jenning's brother and his partner?" Emma's eyes suddenly grew round as the pieces all fell into place. "Cool!"

'Cool?' Olivia mouthed silently, not expecting that reaction exactly.

"They came and helped make our puppet theater, remember?" Emma turned to grin up at Natalia who looked just as surprised. "So you're like Mom's partner now?" She asked, trying the word out, seeing how it felt. She smiled at the look on Natalia's face and then started to worry she'd said something wrong.

"I-I…" Natalia opened her mouth and then snapped it back shut. She looked back at Olivia, who was simply starting to grin at her too.

"You're gonna be my other mommy, right?" Emma frowned, starting to think she'd gotten mixed up. She really, really wanted Natalia to be her mom too. She already was in her heart. It would be perfect!

"Yes, baby," Natalia finally found her voice. She sank down onto the bench beside her two girls, her family. "I'm going to be your other mommy." She drew the girl into a much needed hug, her heart suddenly very full.

"And we're going to have a baby brother or sister for you real soon too." Olivia stroked through her daughter's fine hair as she watched the woman she loved holding her little girl tight.

"A baby?" Surprised, Emma pulled away slightly and smiled widely as Natalia nodded and took her hand, bringing it to her stomach to feel the bulge underneath her shirt.

"That's where we were this morning," Olivia gazed into Natalia's eyes, while giving the most important detail of the day's adventures to their daughter. "The doctor's did some tests and we found out about the baby today."

"Oh," Emma frowned, a thought occurring to her. "Does that mean you can't run the race with me today?"

Natalia tore her eyes from Olivia and glanced down at the worried girl. There was no way she was disappointing her daughter today.

"I am not missing our three-legged race today for anything." Natalia reassured her. "When does it start?"

Emma looked at her watch and gasped.

"Fifteen minutes!" Emma bounced to her feet and headed back towards the big lawn.

"Well, we better get a move on then." Olivia said, standing, tugging Natalia to her feet. Another tug brought their bodies tight against each other, before she dipped her head and once more claimed Natalia's sweet lips. Slowly pulling apart they could hear Emma in the distance.

"Come on, we're gonna be late..."

"You heard your daughter," Olivia grinned. "You're slowing her down." She playfully tapped Natalia's nose with a fingertip before once more grabbing her hand and heading towards the back yard. It was time to tell their friends that things had changed.

The first one to notice them was Blake, her face breaking out into a huge grin as she watched them walk across the lawn from the driveway, hand in hand.

As Olivia stopped to hold Natalia's hand to steady her as she pulled off her sandals to walk barefoot through the grass, Matt pulled out a $20 and handed it over to a nodding Josh.

Natalia beamed up at Olivia, and slid her arm around her waist. Rick looked and then did a double take, a smile breaking out at the sight. He was so engrossed that he didn't notice the Frisbee flying at him until it beaned him at the back of his head, sending him down to the grass in a laughing heap.

Father Ray had just taken a big bite of his hot dog, when he saw Olivia lean over to nuzzle along Natalia's hairline, whispering something that made the younger woman laugh as they made their way towards the pool area. Mindy thumped his back as he started to choke a little at the sight.

Bill sat up a little straighter in his lounger, turning his head to watch them approach. It was about damn time. He glanced over at Lizzie who started a little at the sight of the two women drawing closer, very obviously together. She raised her eyebrows and caught Beth and Lillian's eyes before turning a questioning look to Bill.

Emma raced up to her dad, who had that goofy happy look on his face again, smiling as her mom and Natalia wandered up to them, walking hand in hand.

"Daddy! Guess what?" Emma wrapped her hands around her dad's waist. "Mommy and I are moving back home with Natalia!"

"That's great, honey." Phillip nodded at his ex-wife, truly happy for her.

Natalia slid her arm around the taller woman's waist, needing to be close to her, a part of her claiming the older woman as her own. How many ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends were here right now? She didn't even want to go there. At the end of the day, Olivia was hers now and that's all that mattered.

Olivia seemed completely at ease on the outside, laughing and chatting as they began mingling with their surprised, yet supportive friends but the tight grip on Natalia's hand gave her away as being just as nervous. Soon though, she began to relax, wrapping an arm around Natalia's narrow shoulders and dropping a tender kiss onto the dark head, content.

Emma had known all along that it was going to be a good day. And she had been right.

Now all they needed to do was win that race and wait for some fireworks...


Chapter Twelve

It isn't every day that your dreams come true.

At least not for her.

No, she was always the one on the outside looking in, peering through the window, nose pressed against the glass, desperately wanting to come into the warmth and love inside. It felt like she always had to claw and fight her way to just get half-assed close to something good. But this time had been different.

This time, she had kept her head and waited it out, navigated some seriously unexpected speed bumps and damn it, didn't she get the girl.

People like her don't get the girl.

Obviously, something was seriously screwed up around here, but she was not going to question her good fortune. If she questioned it, she was afraid someone could still take the girl away and that would kill her, as sure as physically ripping her borrowed heart out of her chest.

Olivia tilted her head slightly and sighed, trying not to worry about the whole Gus situation. The day may have started off as a nightmare, but it had definitely ended up like a dream. She had laughed and played and cheered her family on to win the three legged race. And now Natalia was snuggled beside her on a blanket, holding her hand and waiting for the fireworks to begin.

What more could she possibly want?

"Come home with me tonight?" Natalia tugged at the grass beside their blanket, pulling a few blades loose. She looked up, her dark eyes locking with surprised green eyes. "What I mean is, well, I just…" Natalia took a calming breath and started again. "It's so empty at the farmhouse without you. And after everything today, well, I-I don't want to be alone. I want to be with you…"

Olivia shifted, her heart melting at the softly spoken words and pulled the suddenly shy brunette lying in her arms even closer.

"From this moment on, you never have to be alone again." Olivia whispered in her ear. Natalia held on even tighter, as if she was afraid she would disappear into thin air. "I promise."

Olivia tenderly kissed the dark head tucked under her chin and sighed, content at long last. She nuzzled along the soft hair, enjoying the simple pleasure of being able to hold her this way in public. They had been afraid for so long, worried about what people would think, waiting for the right time to tell everyone. And now here they were. Finally.

"Mommy, the fireworks are starting!" Emma's excited voice floated towards them, warning them that the little bundle of energy was almost upon them.

Olivia glanced down, meeting dark eyes for a moment longer, silently making promises she was more than ready to keep.

"Yes, they are…"

Olivia pulled the light blanket up to Emma's chin and brushed the fine hair back from her forehead as the girl squirmed and settled for the night. They had all quickly changed into their jammies, brushed their teeth and were ready for bed, the normal family routines quickly coming back to all of them. Olivia hadn't realized how much she'd missed that, or how much Emma missed it too.

"So can we call the baby Emily if it's a girl? I like that name." Emma yawned, the excitement of the day catching up to her. First the picnic and then the fireworks, followed up with a sleepover at the farmhouse in her old room. Talking about a new brother or sister was icing on the cake.

"And if it's a boy?" Olivia smiled down at her baby girl, who seemed so grown up now. It would be good to have a little one running around again. Just the promise of a tiny new life and raising a family together with Natalia sent a shiver of joy running through her.

"I kind of like Gregory myself." Natalia said from the door. Olivia looked up and met the intense dark eyes staring at her.

"That was Grampa Spencer's name." Emma snuggled down into her blanket and blinked sleepily.

"I know." Natalia wandered into the room stopping beside Olivia, stroking her fingers through the honey blonde hair as they both watched the girl struggling to stay awake.

"We can talk about it more tomorrow, Bean. It's way past someone's bedtime." Olivia smiled as Emma just nodded. She leaned down and dropped a soft kiss on her daughter's cheek before standing.

"'Night Mom. 'Night 'Talia." Emma mumbled as her breathing started to deepen and even out.

"Night, baby." Natalia placed a tender kiss on to the girl's forehead and then stepped away. Her fingers somehow found and tangled with Olivia's as she silently followed her out into the hallway.

It had been a long exhausting day and Olivia just wanted to bundle the tired looking woman up and keep her safe. Pulling Natalia closer, it seemed so natural to just dip her head and kiss her, softly at first and then with growing passion. It was like the first time all over again but at the same time as if they had been together like this forever.

Slowly they pulled apart, just holding each other, resting and gathering strength.

"When I asked you to come home with me tonight, I know that it was really soon for us. And I have so much…stuff happening that I wouldn't blame you at all for running or keeping your distance." Natalia ran gentle fingers along the strong jaw line, tracing along the full lower lip, as it practically begged her to kiss it again.

"Natalia," Olivia murmured softly. "I'm not going anywhere. Except to bed. With you." A huge grin broke out across her face as the reality of her words hit home. She stood as if in a trance as Natalia smirked back too, before taking her hand again and pulling her towards the bedroom.

"I want…so much more with you." Natalia whispered into the darkness of the room as she quietly shut the door behind them. "I want to make love with you, and we will. Soon." She paused and took a calming breath as images of what she'd like to do with Olivia crashed through her mind. She glanced up into the smoldering eyes and knew that Olivia was thinking about it too. So tempting to act, to touch, but Natalia instead sank down onto the bed and slid under the covers. "But tonight, I just want you to hold me."

"Anything. You can have anything." Olivia smiled and nodded, taking a step, and then another, as the moonlight shone bright lighting the way, bathing the large bed and Natalia in its pale glow. It felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. She swallowed hard and moved to the other side of the bed, sliding under the cool covers to meet Natalia in the middle. Soon they were tangled together, the worries of the day falling away as they settled in each other's arms, listening to each other breathe.

Olivia stared up at the ceiling for a long time, waiting for sleep to over take them. It looked just the same as the one she had stared at in her own bedroom down the hallway, all those months ago. She had dreamed of this, just laying together, under the covers, whispering together until they would fall asleep in each other's arms, like any normal couple in love. She couldn't stop the sigh that escaped from her lips.

"Hey, are you okay?" Natalia reached up to wipe a tear away with her thumb as Olivia nodded.

"I'm just….happy." Olivia started crying harder.

"Oh, baby, come here." Natalia shifted, dropping butterfly kisses on her cheeks, catching her tears as they fell. She stroked through the thick hair, pulling it out of Olivia's eyes before dipping down, following the graceful throat down to nuzzle along the collar of her tank top, holding her close.

"I'm so happy to be alive, to be here with you, loving you." One of Olivia's hands slid across the gentle swell of Natalia's belly. "About to start a whole new adventure at your side. And I wonder, is this my life? How did I get here? I can't believe it sometimes, y'know?"

Natalia nodded and waited, tears of her own threatening to fall.

"And here, all this time, I thought it was Gus' heart that was changing me. Showing me the way, opening my eyes to what was around me. Leading me to you. Giving me this big love I wasn't sure what to do with." Olivia whispered as Natalia held her a little tighter. "Now though, I know it's not Gus. Hell, I don't even know where it came from."

Olivia sighed. So many questions unanswered yet. What had Gus been thinking letting Natalia slip through his fingers? He was a fool.

"Do you think it's a government issue experimental baboon heart?" Natalia's lip twitched and she waited.

Olivia's head snapped up to stare at the brunette, finding the dark eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Well, I wouldn't put it past them. If Gus can be raised from the dead…" Natalia shrugged and softly chuckled.

"Shut up!" Olivia laughed. It was exactly the right thing to say to lighten the mood.

"Hey, maybe they planted a tracking device on you too. Should I go looking for it?" Natalia sassed, starting to play with the hem of Olivia's tank top.

"Don't tempt me," Olivia's voice dropped to its lowest register.

Natalia snuggled closer, nuzzling into what was fast becoming a favourite destination location, the soft skin at the crook of Olivia's neck. She shyly placed a hand against Olivia's chest, fingertips finding the puckered skin of her surgery scar peeking out from the white tank top.

"Seriously though," Natalia ran her fingers along the scar like she was reading Braille, the steady thump of Olivia's heart beating strong underneath. "I don't know whose it was, but I am very thankful that it's yours now." She placed a gentle kiss to Olivia's chest, on the tip of the scar showing and then moved a hairs breadth away from the tempting lips, staring straight into the sea green eyes below her. "And I promise to take good care of it. I love you."

"I love you." Olivia whispered hoarsely, happy tears glistening in her eyes. Her heart beat faster as Natalia closed the scant distance and claimed the full lips as her own. Reluctantly she pulled away, before dropping one last kiss and shifting back down Olivia's distracting body.

"Now let's get some sleep." Natalia sighed happily.

Olivia closed her eyes and held Natalia close, breathing her in and fully relaxing, listening to her baboon heart beating steadily away deep inside. Smiling to herself, Olivia nuzzled into the dark hair, one last thought crossing her mind as she felt herself start to drift asleep at last.

Dreams really do come true.


Chapter Thirteen

She had always been a morning person.

Dear GOD! That felt soooo good …

Normally she had tons of energy first thing, usually waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed. She often woke up before her alarm went off even, flipping the covers off and getting her day off to a good start. At the moment though, someone was making a great case for sleeping in.

OH, yessss … right there!

A soft moan, escaped. She couldn't help herself. She couldn't move, and really didn't want to. A strong thigh shifted against her and she rocked her hips, wanting, needing more. Long arms tangled around her, a long body pressed against her back, holding her close. Roving hands were moving across her body, finding and cupping her breasts. Squeezing and rolling her stiff nipples.

"Olivia…" Natalia arched into the strong touch.

"Mmm, just another few minutes. I'm having the most amazing dream." Olivia's still sleepy voice murmured in her ear, rough and gravelly.

"I-I don't know that I'm gonna last another few minutes." Natalia gasped, enjoying the shiver that ran down her back, caused by her bed mate's unsympathetic chuckle.

"Oh, baby, "Olivia's voice dropped dangerously low, "You have no idea how long I can make it last…"

Natalia didn't think she would ever recover from that voice, let alone the comment. She rolled to her back and stared up into very awake green eyes, watching her lips, slowly descending towards her. She closed her eyes and…

A huge crash suddenly sounded downstairs, followed by a moment of silence, before a small voice drifted up from the living room.


Olivia groaned, her forehead dropping to Natalia's shoulder.

"Ok, seriously? Remind me to call Phillip and work out some sort of weekend visiting arrangements."

Natalia's cell phone rang on the night stand, causing the younger woman to start to laugh as Olivia groaned even louder.

"Obviously, someone is trying to tell us something." Natalia stroked her fingers through Olivia's thick hair, the motion soothing both of them. Reluctantly, she rolled away, moving to grab her phone and checked the caller id, and seeing Frank's name she placed it back onto the nightstand letting it go to voicemail. Shifting back towards her bed mate, her breath caught. There lay Olivia Spencer spread out in her bed, with her sleep mussed hair and swollen lips from their earlier kisses, looking up at her with come-hither eyes, waiting for her.

Natalia sighed, tempted to stay right there with her all day.

Another thump sounded downstairs, and Olivia sighed before offering a lopsided smile.

"I better go, you know, check on Em," Olivia started to sit up, but was pulled back down for one last smoldering kiss. Slowly separating, Natalia smirked at the suddenly dazed woman and rolled out of bed.

"I'll get breakfast started while you investigate the loud crash." Natalia tugged on her robe, tightening the tie around her waist.

Olivia flopped an arm over her eyes and groaned one last time before rolling out of bed herself.

The crash had only been a tipped flower vase, with spilled water on the wide plank floor of the farmhouse. Luckily nothing was broken and it was easily picked up, refilled with water and placed back onto the end table in the living room. Emma and Olivia moved into the kitchen, the smell of coffee and bacon drawing them in. They began setting the table and pouring orange juice, the weekend routine coming back like they had never left.

It was nice. It was more than nice, it was home.

They didn't notice the vehicle coming down the driveway or the footsteps on the porch and were a little surprised by the knock. Natalia wiped her hands on her apron and headed for the back door, an eerie feeling of déjà vous coming over her. Only unlike yesterday, today the happy sounds of her family swirled around her.

Natalia unlocked the back door and swung it open, stopping abruptly as she realized who stood there on her porch once again.


Part 14

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