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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Drunk Kid Catholic
Olivia sighs, dragging a hand through her hair slowly, trying to untangle the knots. They slip away easily, the strands falling back into place.
If only my life would do that, she thinks, her head dropping into her other hand. If only it would just fall into place, then nothing would be wrong.
But her life is known for its chaotic undercurrent; the threat of uncertainly that lies behind all of her words and all of her actions and all of her choices; the hectic-ness that's expected of her life.
She's expected to be going in forty different directions at once.
She's expected to just self-combust one day.
And she's expected to take everyone around her Emma, mostly, and before, Natalia down with her.
Grumbling under her breath, alone in the bar of The Beacon, she splashes some more scotch into her glass and tosses it back, ignoring the burn in her throat as it goes down.
Now if only she could ignore the burn in her heart.
Her knees hurt, her back aches, and she should be used to this. No one said prayer was easy, she mentally scolds herself. The light of the remembrance candles allow her to see just in front of herself, but otherwise the church is dark.
Father Ray left hours ago and she's still praying.
She feels like she's always praying.
And never getting answers.
"Please God," she whispers into the empty space, the candles flames flickering at her breath. "Just grant me this one prayer. Please tell me which way to go, which path to take, who to choose."
The church remains silent she's not sure she expected anything else, but a part of her used to dream that God would come down on a thundercloud and answer all of her deepest questions and she sighs heavily.
"Please," she whispers desperately. "Before I make a mistake."
She dips her head down again and starts to speak under her breath.
Olivia pulls into the driveway at the farmhouse, her driving sloppy, her movements even worse. She doesn't see the pathway to the front door and decides Fuck it, and cuts across the grass.
Natalia is sitting on the porch, bundled up and frowning.
"Oh Jesus," Olivia mutters under her breath, the heel of her shoe catching in the muddy earth. She feels her entire world shift; feels an entire day's worth of food jump up in her stomach; feels her head spin.
Natalia doesn't move.
"Whaddya want Natalia?" The other woman doesn't say a word, just continues to sway side to side a little, frowning. It makes Olivia feel like a teenager, like her mother just caught her coming home after spending the night with some other boy she doesn't know. "You're always frowning at me, did you know that? And I just love you, that's why. You frown and I love. It's a vic-vici-vicious cycle."
"It's hard to rise/when another weight is put on your broken back," Olivia sings, throwing her arms wide.
She's such a drunk.
And she knows it.
Natalia knows it.
"It's not our acts that kill/it's more the fact that we never act/we smile and sit content never pushing to make a change." Her words are getting louder, harder to understand, and she's pretty sure she's going to wake a sleeping Emma soon.
Her swimming vision falls on Natalia, stoic on the bench, her frown gone. Olivia can't stop the red-hot anger that sears through her body and she feels her grin slide off her face and her eyes fill with tears.
"What do you want from me, Natalia? What else can I give you to convince you? I love you! What more do you need?" she shouts, leaning forward and breathing heavy.
"What more do you want?" she asks weakly, her body aching to collapse.
The door creaks open slowly and Emma pokes her head into the darkness, her eyes landing on her mother in concern. "Mommy?"
The tiny voice jerks Olivia out of her stupor. "Oh," she breathes out. "Hiya Jellybean."
"Mommy, who are you talking to?" Olivia blinks.
"I'm talking to," her voice dies off. "Natalia isn't here."
Emma shakes her head slowly. "She's with Frank, remember?" The little girl holds out her hand. "Want to come watch a movie with me? I just put 'The Lion King' in."
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knows that Emma should be asleep, not watching movies, but her head hurts and her heart aches and she's cold from standing outside singing to an empty audience. So she takes Emma's hand and ambles into the house, trying to forget that right about now, Natalia is probably kissing Frank.
She tries to forget that Natalia isn't kissing her.
She's not sure when the storm started. It's thunder and lightning and crashing winds, and if she was home, they'd all be piled on the couch under a blanket. Olivia would tell ghost stories and Emma would giggle, but clutch Natalia's hand where her mom couldn't see and pretend to be brave.
She would make hot chocolate and they would wait out the storm.
A family tradition.
A family she'll lose when she marries Frank.
A family she'll never have with Frank, no matter what he wants.
He doesn't even like banana pancakes, her mind screams at her. He'll never make them.
Her windshield wipers work furiously, clearing the glass so she can see the road in front of her.
She's not sure when the storm started, but she knows she needs to be home; knows she needs to be with her daughter and the owner of her heart.
But as she makes the turn into her driveway, the diamond of the ring she's wearing her engagement ring cuts into her skin, bringing reality crashing back down on her. Like conditioning (and if she wants to be honest, she is conditioned to drop to her knees, or clasp her hands in prayer) her head drops to her chest and starts to speak, not even sure what she's going to pray for this time.
"Please God," she finally decides. "Please don't let me be too late."
The house is quiet, 'The Lion King' credits rolling and the television muted. The glow off the screen gives Natalia enough light to maneuver her way into the room; to stop and take stock of what she stands to lose: a sweet, precious little girl with an old soul and a youthful smile and Olivia.
She stands to lose Olivia.
Which means she shouldn't even have to think about what she has to do.
Before she can stop herself, she's on her knees again, this time at the end of the couch and, unwilling, her fingers flit over Olivia's forehead, pushing back some hair so that she can get a better look at the other woman's face. Emma, wrapped in her mother's arms, stirs and her eyes open lazily, blinking a few times before she recognizes Natalia.
"Hi, sweetie, you should be in bed." Emma nods and lets her eyes close again.
"I know, but me and mommy watched a movie," the little girl mumbles. "Is it over?" she asks belatedly.
Natalia can't help but let out a small laugh. "Yeah, baby, it's over. Let's get you into bed," she says, lifting the girl out of Olivia's arms and into her own. "And don't worry about your mommy, I'll tuck her in next."
Emma wrinkles her nose and giggles. "Mommy's too big to be tucked in."
She says something else, but she's speaking into Natalia's shoulder and the words are jumbled.
Natalia gently places Emma into her bed and pulls the covers up over her body. "I said, are you going to leave me?"
She feels her heart break at her daughter's words. "Oh, Emma
But Emma cuts her off. "Mommy was talking to you tonight, but you weren't there. I was scared, because she's going to talk to you even if you're not here."
"What do you mean, she was talking to me?"
Emma shrugs her little shoulders. "She was singing too "
"She was drunk," Natalia can't stop from saying bitterly. Of course, she thinks. Of course she resorts to drinking.
"If you leave us, she'll be so lonely." Emma makes a face. "She'll start being friends with Mayor Wolf. Eww."
"Yeah, eww," Natalia replies absently, her mind racing at the idea of Doris in a hat, sitting at the bar with Olivia.
"And she'll be gone all the time," Emma continues, her voice soft. "Like she was before you let us stay. She was always gone and we lived in The Beacon and she wasn't happy. You make her happy and you play with me and I like it here."
"I like you being here," Natalia whispers, and Emma sighs contently, rolling over away from the light. "Night sweetie."
When she gets back downstairs, Olivia hasn't gotten up, only moved over so that she won't fall off the couch, but her eyes are wide open and she's awake. Natalia finds herself stopping on the steps, taking in the older woman.
This is what she stands to lose.
"Olivia?" Her voice is a whisper and she's almost sure that Olivia is lost in her own world, but at the sound of her voice, the woman on the couch, sits up instantly, clutching her forehead.
"Sorry, we must have fallen asleep. Is Emma upstairs?" Olivia is already off the couch, popping the movie out of the VCR and putting it back in its case.
"I'll go kiss her goodnight," Olivia says, more to herself than to Natalia.
"I heard you were talking to me before," Natalia announces, nonchalantly, as Olivia passes her at the bottom of the stairs. "Outside, earlier," she clarifies.
Olivia sighs. "My daughter has a big mouth."
"She was scared for you."
The other woman snorts. "She was scared of me."
Natalia doesn't try to object. "She's afraid she's going to lose you, you know. She thinks that you're going to be gone all the time the way you were before, that you're going to end up sick. And that I won't be here to "
"Oh, right," Olivia says sarcastically. "Saint Natalia won't be here to pick up the pieces, huh? Well, we did just fine before you came crashing into Springfield and we'll do just fine when you're off riding through your fairy tale land with your Prince Charming."
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? To be big, bad Olivia Spencer again, with the entire town cowering at your feet?" Olivia can't hold in her bark of laughter.
"Big, bad Olivia Spencer? Really, Natalia? This is coming from you, of all people? I may have had the town 'cowering at my feet' but you had them eating out of your hand the minute you blew through here." Olivia can feel herself sober almost instantaneously and it cuts her to the core when Natalia's mouth drops open almost imperceptibly.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"'Oh Natalia' and 'Poor Natalia.' If I had to hear one more person feel sorry for you, I was going to put you out of your misery myself. God, you're so you're so "
Natalia tries to stifle the laughter that bubbles up in her throat. Out of all the words ever used to describe her good and bad the only one Olivia can think of is "annoying." Olivia, on the hand, looks furious, with her chest moving up and down deeply and her cheeks flushed.
"What are we," she takes a breath to compose herself. "What are we fighting about?"
"You're leaving," Olivia all but whispers, looking everywhere but at Natalia. "You're leaving her."
"I'm leaving her," Natalia parrots.
"You're leaving me," Olivia continues.
"I'm leaving " she stops when Olivia glares at her.
"But we're going to be fine, because her and I, we're a team. A two person team and we'll be fine."
Natalia nods slowly. "You said that a few times, yeah."
"Well, we will be, fine." Olivia crosses her arms over her chest and tries her best to look indignant.
"I'm leaving us," Natalia whispers. Olivia hears her anyway.
And she scoffs. "Us? What 'us?' We're friends. People can be friends even if they live across town."
Natalia shakes her head. "Not you and me. Sometimes, we can't even be friends if we're in the same room."
"So maybe that'll be better. Maybe we'll be better friends because we won't be yelling at each other all the time and we'll only see each other every so often." Olivia grins humorlessly. "You know, what with you becoming a housewife and all."
"I'm not quitting my job."
"Did you tell Frank that?"
"Why should he care?" Natalia asks, all rationality gone which seems to happen whenever she's around Olivia. Because, she knows he cares. He wants her to be a full-time wife and mother, not working tirelessly under Olivia's thumb.
It's almost admirable, except for the part where it's not.
She watches Olivia pinch the bridge of her nose. "Because he's going to be your husband. Because that's the life he wants for you."
"Yeah, well what about what I want?"
Olivia snorts. "Who the hell knows what you want," she mutters.
Natalia knows it's the alcohol; that Olivia would never be this candid, if she hadn't had something to loosen her tongue in the first place. She knows that Olivia is controlled and calculating and for her to throw in snide comments isn't out of the ordinary, but this is. This topic the thing that they both refuse to acknowledge that's growing between them isn't something they'll talk about it.
Instead, Olivia just drinks and Natalia just prays and Emma just watches them, her two mommies, and wonders when they're going to get it together, and if it'll be in time.
"I'm leaving us," Natalia repeats as Olivia brushes past her and heads up the stairs. The older woman stops and turns around slowly, her face devoid of emotion.
"There is no us, Natalia. And I thought you were supposed to be at Frank's."
She gets to the top of the stairs before she turns around again. "I'll just see you in the morning."
"No us," Natalia says dumbly, watching Olivia disappear into her bedroom. She picks up a blanket and folds it absentmindedly.
That was what she stands to lose.
Olivia stands on the other side of the gazebo which feels like miles instead of feet, eternities instead of inches.
It doesn't matter the distance.
There shouldn't be distance at all.
But there will be. The distance will only grow from here; only get deeper and wider until there's nothing but white space left between them and they won't be able to remember the time they spent living under the same roof, raising a little girl.
She had said it herself: "Sometimes we can't even be friends if we're in the same room."
And she was right.
They were never friends they were enemies first. And then they were a hierarchy: Natalia's power overruling Olivia's and then the other way around. Then, then they were partners.
"Partners at work and at home," Natalia had said stupidly. Olivia had just stared at her, her incredulous expression clearly asking her how she could be so goddamn naive about the situation. But Natalia hadn't understood. She didn't get it then.
She got it now.
She gets it now.
Now, they're two women, who have both come to terms with their feelings; who have both figured it out, what they really want. But of course it won't work out. It's like trying to force the last puzzle piece in, that piece that doesn't quite fit no matter which way you turn it.
Because Olivia vowed to Gus that she was going to let Natalia go.
And then she told Natalia she loved her.
But Natalia is supposed to be marrying Frank.
"Frank," she gasps out loud, one hand covering her mouth and the other holding her dress up. Olivia turns instinctively, but she sees nothing but empty space.
"What am I going to tell Frank?" Natalia continues. "He's going to what am I going to tell him?"
Olivia ignores the pleading look in Natalia's eyes, the one that makes her want to solve all of the other woman's problems. She digs her hands into her pockets and tips her head so that Natalia can't see her face.
"You're going to tell him that not even Natalia Rivera is immune to cold feet, that's what." Olivia goes for sarcasm, her classic trait, her fall-back, but Natalia doesn't even blink, just stares at Olivia with wide eyes.
"Hey," Olivia's soft voice catches Natalia's attention and pulls her out of her stupor. "Remember, you're a freakin' superhero, right? So go in there and marry your prince."
"I think you have your history mixed up," Natalia says stiffly. "Superheroes get married to superheroes and Princesses get married to Princes."
Olivia nods once and then gives Natalia a wide smile. "Let's get you back to that church." She reaches for Natalia's arm, but the other woman jerks it back, out of Olivia's reach and stares down at Olivia's hand as if it was going to implode at any moment, as if it was a bomb, ready to go off.
Olivia gives a heavy sigh. "Natalia "
"Don't 'Natalia' me Olivia Spencer. Are you dense? I'm not marrying Frank."
"Oh yes you are," Olivia insists.
Natalia glares. "Since when do you get to decide what I do with my life?"
"Since you started showing me that you can't make the right decision," Olivia shoots back, her hand reaching for Natalia's arm again.
Again, Natalia pulls away.
They're back to the beginning again, except the roles are reversed this time. Because this time, it's Olivia pushing Natalia to do the right thing marry Frank.
It's not Natalia pushing Olivia to take her heart medicine and to live for her kid.
She only hopes this is a different outcome that Olivia fails where she succeeded.
"Why are you doing this?" Natalia finds herself asking. Olivia's mouth opens and closes a couple of times. "Why are you pushing me to marry Frank after after what you said?"
"Because it's the right thing to do," Olivia says softly and Natalia can't help but wonder who Olivia is talking to: herself or Natalia. "Because, he's safety and stability and he'll be the father Rafe never had and the husband you didn't get a chance to love."
"What if I don't want that?" The question flies out of her mouth before she can stop it. And Olivia, naturally, looks surprised, as she should be.
Natalia hasn't actually said 'I Love You' yet, but it's there, on the tip of her tongue, ready and willing to be screamed from the rooftops, from the tower of the church, from wherever she can scream it that everyone will hear her.
She's trying, but she can't make her mouth form the words.
She can say everything anything else but that.
"Well what the hell do you want Natalia?" Olivia asks angrily, her resolve to keep her temper under wraps gone, because she just can't stand it anymore. She can't take this anymore. It hurts too much.
"You," Natalia says so simply. So simply that Olivia's heart skips a beat and then another and then another.
"And you want me too," Natalia declares.
"I take it back," Olivia says quickly, looking away from Natalia in her dress.
Natalia can feel her heart crack and she wonders is this what Olivia felt back at the altar, when she was about to recite her vows? Did the hollow feeling in Olivia's chest spread like it's spreading in her chest now? Did Olivia feel this empty? Did Olivia feel this lost? Because Natalia feels both, spreading through her like wildfire, sinking into her bones and cutting off her air supply.
She struggles to breath.
"You can't take it back," Natalia demands softly. "You can't."
"I just did."
"You can't," and now she's pleading.
Olivia's hard expression falters only slightly, but it's enough so that Natalia can see the pain behind Olivia's eyes.
"I just did," Olivia bites out. "Natalia, you don't know what you want, and you don't understand the consequences, so I take it back and you're going to go back into that church and fix everything you destroyed that I worked so hard to give you."
"Why are you doing this?"
"I'm saving you."
Natalia feels her mouth drop open and her eyes widen. "You think, you think you're saving me? What the hell are you saving me from?"
"No. You don't know what you're doing. You don't get it, alright? You're listen, between us, it's one thing, but, to own up to it in the real world "
"Own up to what, what, what is it that we're feeling?"
Olivia takes a deep breath and tries to clear her eyes. "Whatever it is, I know that you're ashamed of it."
Natalia wants to protest; wants to tell Olivia that it's not true, that she's not ashamed of anything, especially Olivia. But it's like she's glued to the spot she's standing in and she can only watch as Olivia destroys them before they even start.
"It's one of the reasons we've been doing this dance for so long. And, it's the reason why we can't do anything about this." Olivia stares at her, and Natalia feels herself breaking inside.
"So, so what happens to us?"
Olivia answers almost before Natalia even gets the question out. "There is no us."
She feels like maybe this is déjà vu.
She's heard these words before, after all.
"There is no us." Olivia's words bounce around the gazebo, hit her in the face a couple of times with the cold air and finally settle in the suddenly empty space where her heart used to be. "You love me, but one day, you're going to hate me for this. I can't live with that. I can't," she whispers.
And Olivia is walking away, again.
God, she thinks, this is getting old.
"Olivia!" The other woman stops, but doesn't turn around. Natalia comes up behind her, but she can't will her arm to reach up and spin the woman she loves around to face her.
"I love you," she finally whispers.
Olivia's shoulders shake for a brief second before they drop completely. "Stop it."
"I love you," she whispers again, a little louder, a little firmer.
"I love you." She moves around Olivia and looks her in the eyes.
She can't believe she didn't see any of this before: the love radiating out of Olivia's eyes, the hurt and the fear of rejection, the hope and the wall that was put up to protect herself.
She'd been so caught up in how she was going to spend the rest of her life with a man she doesn't even remotely love that she forgot about the possibility of spending it with the woman of her dreams.
She's cold and her dress is dragging through the snow and, distantly, she can hear Frank calling out her name, over and over again, but it doesn't matter anymore.
But Natalia rises up on her toes not too far because she's still in her heels and presses her mouth against Olivia's.
It's a fleeting kiss, a promise of what's to come, and it doesn't surprise her when she feels her heart in her throat as she pulls away.
Olivia just blinks. And blinks. And blinks. Until finally, she smiles.
"Can we do that again?"
Natalia can't help the smile that slips onto her face. "Olivia," she says, shaking her head.
"No, seriously, can we do that again? I didn't, you didn't warn me. And I can kiss so much better than that." Olivia's face is serious, her eyes shining.
She feels the laughter bubble up in her throat and it's out before she can stop it, erupting from within her and it suddenly occurs to her hits her hard that she hasn't laughed in days, weeks even, and a weight is lifted off her shoulders.
She can hear Frank getting closer and she feels the sudden urge to run, to hide Olivia behind her bookcase the way she hid Gus Nicky when he snuck into her room that night and told her he loved her.
Instead, she pulls Olivia closer. "I guess one more try wouldn't hurt," she whispers into Olivia's face, her breath coming out in a puff of air.
She lets Olivia kiss her she kisses Olivia in the middle of the park, under the falling snow.
Frank be damned.
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