DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: Fourth part of The Script Series.
Fall For Anything
He watches them when they come back to the farmhouse: the way Frank holds her arm just a little too tight, the way the light in his mother's eyes are dim and lost.
That doesn't look anything remotely like love, and even if he's been in prison for a while, he still remembers the way Daisy used to look at him and the way his heart thumped in his chest every time he saw her.
Somehow, he doesn't think his mom's heart thumps with Frank even in the same building.
"Ma?" Frank is outside, at the car getting something, and she's just sitting there, her face buried in her hands, her elbows resting on the table.
She looks a mess and Rafe forever her 'baby' in her eyes just wants to put her back together, just wants to glue the pieces of her heart and soul together and hope they stay that way.
But in the back of his mind, he knows that only one person can do that.
"Rafe." Her head shoots up and she tries to rub the dark circles under her eyes away, but they're too dark and deep he realizes they might never go away.
His mother is achingly beautiful.
And achingly heartbroken.
"It's okay," he whispers, crossing the kitchen in a few steps, pulling her into his arms. "It's okay."
It seems like it's all she needs the permission to collapse, and she does, sinking into his arms with her face buried into his chest, her sobs wracking her entire body. She's shaking and her hot tears are soaking through his dress shirt and it strikes him that this is them, reversed. This is the son comforting the mother; this is his penance.
Ignorance is his sin.
He ignored every sign every time Olivia stood up for him, every time she called him on his shit, every time his mother's eyes crinkled at her name. He ignored every time Frank's name stopped his mother in her tracks; every time he could have said something and he didn't.
There were so many chances, and he never took them.
He just sat inside his prison cell and watched his mother worry over him, over Emma, over Olivia.
"I'm sorry Rafe, I'm so so sorry," she mumbles over and over into his arm.
"Sor Ma. Don't you dare apologize to me. I'm, you're the best thing in my life and you should never apologize to me. For anything," he clarifies.
"But I was going to give you a father "
He can't stop his bark of laughter. "Frank? As my dad?" His pulls away from her a little and just stares at her.
He wonders where or how he ever gave his mother the impression that she wasn't enough.
"I don't need anyone to be my dad. I don't want you to marry someone to devote the rest of your life to them, because of me. I want you to," he stops to take a breath, unsure of how to really tell her this.
Because his mother is a woman set in her ways, but open to love. He just can't remember how open she is. Somehow, he thinks it's more open than before.
"I want you to marry someone who loves you." She opens her mouth to protests, but he stops her, because he knows what she's going to say: "But Frank does love me."
"And someone who you love back. Ma," her tears stop him. "Oh, c'mon Ma. I mean it, no more crying. She loves you, its okay. She loves you and everything will work itself out, alright?"
He doesn't even realize what he said; doesn't even realize that he admitted he knows what's going on.
But his mom heard him. And she's just staring at him with wide eyes.
"I know, Ma, I know." He feels a small smile creep its way onto his face. "You know, I was going to ask you if there was, you know, something going on, but then you brought Frank in and, I guess I sorta figured you guys, I don't know, broke up or something." He shrugs. "I mean, I was disappointed a little, thinking you guys spilt," he rushes to say when her eyes go wide with fear.
"She takes care of you without smothering you, and she fought for me, and she's got Emma, you know? I was looking forward to it." She blinks a few times and he almost laughs as he sees the understanding cross her face.
"Oh, Rafe "
"Frank's a good guy, he is. It's just, he's not her, you know?" By the look in her eyes, his mother knows all too well. "And I was kinda getting used to her," he admits. "Her and her munchkin."
He hears the car door shut and he knows that Frank will be back in any minute. "Feel this?" He presses her hand against his heart. "This is the most important thing. Don't forget that."
She chuckles a little and wipes her eyes. "Rafael Rivera, when did you get so wise?"
He thinks that maybe it was after Olivia called him a 'selfish twit,' but he can't tell his mom that, because he's still a sensitive subject for his mother, still just as fragile as his father's heart in Olivia's body.
"It's time you got to be happy," he says instead.
Frank glides through the back door and he watches the way his mother's shoulder's drop.
"Frank," he hears her say as he leaves the kitchen, re-exploring the house. "We need to talk."
She's eight, she gets that. People don't tell her much, but she knows the most out of all of them.
Like how Buzz was so sad after Grady never came back to Springfield.
Like how Gus always kept one eye on her mom and one eye on the door.
Like how her mommy got sick and everyone acted like everything was alright.
Like how Natalia was worried that her mommy would never get better.
Like how Frank always finished Natalia's sentences with the wrong words.
Like how Mommy always finished them with the right ones.
She sees things; from her waist-level perch she can see everything and right now she can see her mommy, sitting in the desk chair in their room at the Beacon, staring out the window.
Her mommy looks so sad.
Sadder than Buzz. And sadder than Natalia when Mommy got sick again, or when Rafe went to jail.
She looks sad like she did before, when her mommy told her that they were moving out of the farmhouse, so that Natalia could marry Frank.
She likes Frank, she thinks. He doesn't play with her like Natalia does and he'd probably never take her shopping for a Halloween costume, or make cookies with her, but she thinks she likes him. Or, she thought she liked him, until he made Natalia leave them.
She nods to herself: she definitely doesn't think Frank is a good guy anymore.
No good guy would take Natalia away from her and her mommy.
Nobody nice does that.
"Emma?" Her mommy looks at her with a sad smile Mommy always looks sad now, she can't help but think.
Her mommy sighs. "Did you want to get some food from the kitchen? Are you hungry?"
She nods a couple of times, but when her mommy reaches for the phone, she stops her. "Can't we go see Natalia and have dinner with her?"
"No," is the sharp response. It's said so loud and hard that Emma flinches away from her mommy's outstretched hand.
She can't remember the last time Mommy got mad.
She hates it.
"Oh, God, baby " Mommy reaches for her slowly and Emma lets herself be pulled forward into her mommy's arms. "I'm sorry. I'm, Mommy didn't mean to scare you Jellybean. Mommy didn't mean to scare you," she whispers again.
Emma presses her face into where Natalia says her mommy's heart is. She can hear the heavy thump, thump, thump and it makes her smile.
"You still have your heart," she tells her mommy.
Olivia looks down at her daughter with shock in her eyes and her mouth wide. "What do you mean 'I still have my heart?'"
Emma stares up into her mommy's face, trying to memorize each little piece of it her eyes and her mouth and her nose and the lines on her forehead and the dark under her eyes.
"I was afraid that it was going to break again because Natalia didn't want us back," she whispers.
Her mommy's eyes start to fill with tears and Emma just wraps her tiny arms around her mommy's neck and buries her face in the crook of her neck.
"Baby I was afraid of the same thing," Olivia ends up whispering back. "But it's still there, isn't it?"
Emma nods, but her smile fades. "Why didn't Natalia want you?"
"You mean us, Jellybean."
She shakes her little head. "No. You. Why didn't she want you? I thought you were going to be her knight."
In that moment, Olivia wishes Natalia hadn't read "Sleeping Beauty" to Emma.
"I, I guess I'm not her knight."
"Yes you are!" Her mommy hands shake in hers. "You have to be," Emma whispers. "She loves you, remember?"
"Emma, I need you to listen to me right "
"No. You need to fix this. I like the farmhouse and Rafe and Natalia and I don't like Frank, so you need to make her take us back." Her mommy just stares at her and blinks. And blinks.
"Fix it," the little girl demands.
Her mommy gets up, staring down at her like she's never seen her before, and heads to the telephone.
"'Spaulding' my ass," she hears her mommy mutter. "That girl is a Spencer."
Emma doesn't leave the room in search of Jodi until she hears her mommy pick up the phone and dial the farmhouse.
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