DISCLAIMER: This is an Otalia-Uber fiction. The characters in this story portrays the physical and some personality attributes of the characters Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera from Guiding Light but they belong to me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Blue for her great beta-ing skills!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By damnation



Steam filled up the bathroom on the landing. When the sound of running water petered away, mutterings could be heard coming from within the bathtub, where Frances was standing under the showerhead.

"Is that so?" Frances said under her breath in a snide voice completely unlike Kristen's low timbre voice. She scrubbed her hair furiously before turning the water back on for a rinse. "To assume is to make an ass of you and me. God, Frances, what the hell were you thinking?" she admonished herself as she stood under the warm spray of water. "I hope the hot water problem doesn't get righted for you, Miss!" she huffed at the tiled wall of the bathroom.

Satisfied that her evil wish might just come true, that the chef might just have to have a cold shower that night, Frances turned off the tap and stepped out of the tub. The cool air touched her wet body and she gave a shiver. Even though it was the tail end of winter in Sydney, it was still too cold. Reaching for her towel, Frances gave her hair and face a quick rub before wrapping herself in it. She turned the knob of the bathroom door and pulled it open to come face to face with the recent object of her thoughts.

"Whoa!" Frances' first reaction was to slam the door shut.

"Fuck!" came the exclamation of pain from the other side of the door.

"What the hell are you doing here!" Frances shouted through the door. Then, feeling guilty, she opened the door slightly to peek out. "Are you okay?"

"You are such a jinx!" came the muffled response. Kristen was holding a hand to her face; Frances wasn't sure what her action had damaged. "Fuck!" Whatever it was, it must really hurt.

"Just yours, I reckon," Frances said with a grimace when Kristen removed her hand to reveal a teary eye. The bridge of her nose and the area under her left eye were already red. "I'm so sorry. I'll get you some ice," Frances volunteered.

"Christ! No, don't help me, you'll just end up killing me!" Kristen grumbled. She eyed Frances warily. "I'm going to bend down slowly to retrieve my towel and clothes. Please do not make any big or sudden movements."

Frances bit her lower lip in the attempt to keep an insane bark of laughter from escaping her. She was startled to find that Kristen was actually waiting for an answer from her. She nodded mutely and took a step back from the bathroom door. Adequately satisfied that Frances was going to keep her end of the bargain, Kristen cautiously bent her knees and gathered her things into her arms.

"All right. You coming out?" Kristen asked suspiciously.

Frances bit back another bark of laughter and nodded innocently. She wrapped her arms around her upper body as the other woman pushed open the bathroom door and leaned against it. Frances took the cue and sidestepped her way past Kristen. Their eyes met for a split second just before Frances stepped out of the bathroom fully and before she could contemplate the look of intent on Kristen's face, Frances felt her towel being tugged at from behind and let out a loud yelp.

"Hey!" Frances frantically made a grab at the loose knot of material between her breasts as she swivelled around, her heart racing.

The door slammed shut in her face but not before she caught the wicked look on Kristen's face, complete with an arched brow--a look just slightly marred by the redness on the bridge of her nose and under her eye.

Taking a deep breath, Frances gathered the towel more firmly in her hands and stomped back to her room with as much dignity as she could gather, thanking all her lucky stars that the towel hadn't slipped off her completely. She didn't know how she would have lived that down.



It was a Saturday night at Taters and everyone was getting slammed, left, right and centre. It was nothing new to the staff at the busy little enterprise, however, so everyone plodded along as they knew how. With the addition of Frances and a new girl on the floor, Russell noted that things were running smoothly--scarily so. It made him uncomfortable because it felt too much like the calm before a storm, and he reacted the only way he knew how. He drank. And he abused.

"The food's getting cold by the second, Missy!" he bellowed at the new waitress in between swigs of bourbon. "Do you think the plates can walk themselves over to the tables?"

"We're out of plates, Frances! If your intention is to slack off, don't bother coming in! It's not like I can't afford someone who can actually do the job!"

"Tammy, turn that annoying music off! How can you bear it? I'm surprised no one's complained yet. Do you want to chase everyone away with your bad taste in tunes?"

Kristen did not help matters much either. Frances couldn't help but feel that the woman would send dirty utensils her way after just using them once. Either she was a cleanliness freak or she was trying to get on Frances' nerves. Frances raised her eyes skyward for a second as she wondered at the intelligence of her offering her services to her father, who was being really unpleasant this evening, not only to her but to everyone else... save Kristen.

"Move it, Jinx!" Kristen called out from behind her. Frances whipped her dark head around to scowl at one of her tormentors. "Can't you see that the girls are getting slammed out there? If you have time to rest, then run these plates out!"

Wiping her wet hands on her apron, Frances stalked over to the counter for the meals there. She backed into the swinging doors that separated the craziness of the kitchen from the zoo of hungry patrons waiting to be fed and was met head on by Missy, who was hurrying towards the kitchen with a stack of dirty plates. Frances watched in slow-motion horror as everything clattered onto the floor, effectively silencing the conversation in the restaurant.

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" Missy squealed, almost in tears. Frances could only gape at her, knowing that shit was going to rain on them in just... one... second....

"Frances, get your ass back in here!" Russell bellowed. Frances squeezed her eyes shut and resigned herself to an ugly fate. Tammy made a beeline for the mess and helped a shaking Missy clean up the mess.

"What the hell are you doing? Are you blind?" Russell roared as he slapped two more pieces of rump steak on the grill.

Frances had just about enough and was about to go off in her own little tirade when she caught sight of Kristen's smug looking face. Frances forcibly clamped her mouth shut and lowered her head. She was not going to give Kristen the satisfaction of witnessing her blow her top.

"What are you still standing there for? Go apologize to the customers those meals were meant for and tell them that they'll be ready in five minutes!" Russell plated two fish and chips and located the docket with the meals that he had to re-make. "Kristen, I need another chicken risotto from you."

"Got it, Chef."

"Yea, got it, Chef," Frances couldn't help echoing Kristen; her words, however, were dripping with sarcasm. She threw both her father and the woman at the stove dirty looks when they swivelled around to glare at her cheek. "Sorry Chef, yes Chef, doing it right now, Oh Great Ones!" she mumbled under her breath as she exited the kitchen. God complexes indeed!

"I heard that!" Kristen's voice floated past the swinging doors.

"Good!" Frances mouthed, wrinkling her nose at poor Missy, who was wiping the floor with a damp tea towel. "You're doing great, Missy. Don't let the shitty chefs get to you," Frances said as she hooked a thumb in the direction of the kitchen, eliciting a watery smile from the new girl.

Frances had always prided herself in being someone who had a lot of patience. After all, wasn't it a pre-requisite for teaching English to people who did not understand a single word of it? But working in the kitchen, in this kitchen, under her bellowing, arrogant, drunk father and his infuriating, tormenting, sadistic sous chef gave the word 'patience' a whole new meaning.

She took a deep breath and tried to swallow her irritation as she made her way to the patrons of Table Two.

At a quarter to eleven, Taters was finally quiet, empty and spotless. Its staff sat outside in the prettily lit beer garden, each with a beverage of choice in their hands--everyone but Russell, that is. He had finished a bottle of bourbon during service and was already halfway through his second and he was drinking straight from the bottle.

Frances blew out a breath and was met with a shy smile from Missy. They had bonded over the shift; in a way, Frances was glad because this meant that Missy wasn't going to quit just yet. If Tammy could survive this long without leaving, maybe things might get better for Missy if she hung in there. She wondered how badly Missy needed this job and hoped fervently, for her father's sake, that she needed it badly.

"A hundred and ninety two covers, everyone," Tammy announced cheerily.

Frances crossed her legs as she leaned back into the seat. She stank of kitchen grease, dirty dishwater, and sweat. It was gross. She lifted her glass of red wine to her lips and took a small sip. The alcohol warmed her up slightly, as did the stand up outdoor heater. Her mobile phone went off, indicating a text message from Nell. It was an invitation to join her friend and a few other girls at the Courthouse pub in Newtown. Frances mulled over her answer. She was tired and she stank. But she could totally use a drink with her mates.

"Plus the two that Frances and Missy fucked up, that's a hundred and ninety four," Kristen said dryly.

Frances sat up straight at this and shot Kristen a withering look which would have worked better if the woman was looking her way. "Yes, Chef," Frances said in a deceptively demure voice. Kristen's eyes snapped to her face immediately. "Sorry Chef. Please punish me, Chef. I'll do better next time, Chef," Frances continued snarkily, her eyes dancing.

She caught the edges of Kristen's lips twitching before the woman averted her eyes and lifted her glass of wine to her lips. Could it be that she was showing appreciation at Frances' sarcasm?

Perhaps Miss Black was all bark and no bite after all. Frances trailed her eyes over the shiner on Kristen's face and had to stifle a laugh at the memory of the Bathroom Incident. Kristen had a beautifully straight and sharp nose, Frances noted.

And elegantly shaped brows that rose each time the woman was being infuriating. Which was often.

And full, ripe lips that curled up in arrogant sneers... or lovely smiles, like the one that was playing around her lips right now as she sipped at her wine.

Lovely? Frances had to shake her head when she actually stopped to reflect on what she was thinking about. Full, ripe lips?

"I must be overworked," Frances mumbled feverishly under her breath. Bemused green eyes met hers and Frances looked away. She quickly typed out a text message to Nell and stood up. "All right everyone. Have a good night."

Russell put down his bottle of bourbon with a dull thud. "Where're you off to, lass?" he rumbled.

"Home. Then out," Frances said with a shrug. She felt a tad uncomfortable announcing her plans to everyone.

"What, this company not good enough for you?" Russell asked. Frances wasn't sure if he was joking or not. Russell took another swig from the bottle. "Can't have two seconds with you. You're always disappearing on me," he grumbled.

The atmosphere turned awkward with those words. Tammy and Missy exchanged a look and made themselves scarce. Kristen was about to follow them when Russell slammed down his glass on the table. "What. Now my company isn't good enough for anyone? Everyone gotta leave?" Kristen sat herself back down and looked from father to daughter warily.

"I think you've had a bit too much to drink, Russell," Kristen started slowly.

Russell threw her a dirty look. "Don't you be telling me what to do."

"Stop being so rude, Dad!" Frances snapped at her father, not sure why he was being such a jerk now that service was over.

"You're not old enough to lecture me, lass!"

"Oh, yea, cos you're a fine example of a parent! You're nothing but a drunk! Mum would be ashamed of you if she saw you right now." Even as the words tumbled out of her mouth, Frances knew that she should not have uttered them.

"Well she isn't here now, is she!" Russell roared.

Frances was not sure when she had started crying but she was. She wiped the back of her arm across her face, angry at herself for her show of weakness. When had the conversation changed so drastically? And there was that woman, sitting there, witnessing it all. Frances felt like screaming, running away... anything but standing here on the receiving end of Russell's anger and heartbreak.

"Why did you have to come back?" Russell muttered into his bottle, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. "You come back and you make things okay for a little while... and then you'll go again. You'll take that smile with you... her smile... her eyes... Why?" Russell's voice broke at the end. "I want her back."

"So do I."

It was nothing more than a whisper but Kristen heard the words.

"And maybe you're right. I shouldn't have come back."

With those words, Frances did an about turn and left.

Part 10

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