DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had just finished typing this when I read Wonko's wonderful story. I changed some things that I thought looked similar but early apologies if it seems like I copied.
SPOILERS: Week of April 13th especially Friday's episode.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
End the Dance
Natalia flinched as she saw the "Congratulations" banner hanging over the fireplace, but her eyes were dry. She had no more tears left to shed. She looked around at the presents, only briefly giving thought to when she was going to have to return them.
She sat down on the couch, waiting for the numbness to go away. Feeling weighed down by the trappings of her wedding attire, she ripped the little headband off her head and threw it almost angrily onto the couch. Her eyes fell on the bride and groom figures sitting on the coffee table that seemed to be taunting her and she picked them up. She knew she should be worried about Frank and how badly she'd hurt him, but instead she found her attention drawn to the bride. Inexplicably, the cold little plastic figure reminded her of Olivia and how she'd left things at the gazebo.
Natalia frowned as she wondered how something that had started so right had blown up in her face. The moment she'd finally told Olivia that she loved her, it was like her life had finally just begun. The restrained, but hardly disguised, look of hope and happiness on her maid of honor's face touched her heart and made everything that preceded it almost worthwhile.
Olivia had been so relieved that she could finally express the feelings that she'd been hiding so poorly over the last months and Natalia had to smile a little when Olivia had been surprised to find out that her declaration to Natalia had hardly been a shock. She apparently had no idea of how expressive her face could be.
Then Natalia had to go and keep talking. She and Olivia had always been able to talk honestly about anything and she thought this wouldn't be any different. But it was. After several minutes of painful honesty, Olivia wound up blaming herself for the aborted wedding and promised to fix it. Natalia had tried to tell her it wasn't her fault, she had only told the truth, something that Natalia had been too afraid to do. She was trying to tell Olivia how much she admired her bravery, though she suspected she had fallen short. Unfortunately Frank, whose timing seemed to be almost perversely horrific, showed up before she could explain what she was trying to say. The word 'damnit' longed to pass her lips in a frustrated shout, but she managed, just, to keep it together.
She talked to Frank, trying to ignore the presence of the woman standing on the other side of her. Frank wanted to know what happened. He deserved to know what happened. Natalia had wanted to tell him everything. She wanted to tell him that she couldn't give her heart to him because it belonged to the woman waiting almost expectantly beside her. The words wouldn't come. Despite how she longed for them to, they just wouldn't come. She managed to admit to having 'feelings' but couldn't say the word love. Even as she prevaricated, she felt Olivia putting up those damned walls again. She knew she was hurting the woman she loved with every second that past, but she couldn't seem to stop herself.
Finally Olivia blurted out a lie about her not being over Gus. That nearly ripped Natalia's heart out and she didn't know why. She had every intention of refuting that claim, but Olivia just talked over her, giving Natalia an unwanted out. The nearly emotionless tone in Olivia's voice as she lied made Natalia afraid.
Frank, poor trusting Frank, bought it though. His gentle understanding nearly broke her, because he still thought he had a chance. This deception went against everything she was but she couldn't seem to do anything else. She couldn't drag her mind off the woman who had gradually lost the optimistic sparkle that Natalia's earlier declaration had given her.
When Frank kissed her, she knew Olivia was watching and it ate at her that she let him do it, but she just wanted him to leave so she could clear things up with Olivia.
Finally he was gone and she still she couldn't leave it alone. She watched him walk away sadly and then wondered aloud how she could lie to Frank like that. Why did she keep pushing? Did she want to drive Olivia away?
Olivia's words to her in response, that she knew Natalia would rather die than have people know she loved her, hurt more than anything that had gone on over the last hour. It wasn't even remotely true and she could only imagine what it did to Olivia to believe Natalia was ashamed of her. When she uttered the words, "there is no us," Natalia knew for sure. There was no pain in Olivia's voice as she made that pronouncement. There was no sense of doing what was best for Natalia. Not like there was at Gus's memorial. This time, there was just a sad, fatalistic resignation. Then she was gone, and Natalia realized exactly what her fear and confusion had just cost her.
Now as she sat there in the accusing silence, the numbness finally began to fade, only to be replaced with anger, frustration and a determination she didn't know she had. In her final little speech, Olivia had been right about only one thing. It was time for the dance to end. She was going to change clothes and go show Olivia exactly how not ashamed she was. She was going to claim the kiss that had been waiting for her in the gazebo before Frank interrupted. She was for once, going to take control over her own life.
"You said it once before, Olivia," she muttered as she climbed the stairs with a determined smile on her face. "You created a monster."
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