DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is dedicated to rocketchick. I don't know you from Adam, but I adore your Random Acts of Domestic Hotness series, and I got the idea for this story while re-reading The New Normal.
SPOILERS: This story is dedicated to rocketchick. I don't know you from Adam, but I adore your Random Acts of Domestic Hotness series, and I got the idea for this story while re-reading The New Normal.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Filling in the Gaps
By Tinna Karen
"Mmm, this is so good." Olivia moaned, thoroughly enjoying the coffee Natalia had just made her. She spun around from the counter and sat down at the kitchen table. "This is what I miss most about not living here anymore. I keep asking the kitchen to add cinnamon in my coffee, but they never do it right. This, on the other hand..." she took another sip, "heaven."
"This is what you miss most?" Natalia asked, and sat down in front of Olivia with her own cup. "My coffee?" She took her own sip, "sure, it's good but really?"
Olivia grinned around her cup, "well, this and ... " she looked over at Natalia, "other stuff" she finished with a quirk of her eyebrow. She got up from her chair and nodded towards the living room. "Come on, let's watch a movie. I promised Emma I'd stick to the routine even if she bailed out on us to have a sleepover with Jodie."
Natalia let out a half-chuckle and followed the other woman into the living room.
"God, this movie is annoying." Olivia announced, about 30 minutes into the movie. She laid her head on Natalia's shoulder and sighed dramatically. "Why are we watching this?"
Natalia smirked and looked down at the woman next to her, shrugging her shoulder. "You picked it, you tell me."
Olivia looked up at her. "Cheeky." She gave Natalia a quick kiss on the cheek and then leaned forward to grab the remote from the coffee table, "OK, no more Rachel Getting Married. This thing won awards? I don't get it." She pressed stop on the remote and looked back at Natalia. "Do you have anything else?"
Natalia shook her head, "nothing we haven't watched."
"Hmm," Olivia pressed the power button on the remote to turn off the TV, then leaned back and stretched her arms on the back of the couch. "So what do you wanna do instead?" She ran her fingers lightly through Natalia's hair and slowly let her arm drop down on the other woman's shoulders, sliding at the same time closer so their bodies were touching. "Any ideas?"
Natalia chuckled, "you are so smooth."
Olivia smiled innocently. "What?"
Natalia half-turned towards Olivia and pulled her closer, "come here." Olivia sighed happily as their lips touched and eagerly followed Natalia as the younger woman pulled their bodies down into the soft cushions.
It was a little after sunrise when Olivia tip-toed quietly down the steps of the farmhouse, trying not to wake the recently-moved-back-home Rafe. While he had accepted her and Natalia's relationship, it was clear he wasn't very comfortable with it yet, so they tried not to show too much PDA when he was around to help him adjust. It wasn't that his mom was dating another woman that freaked him out the most, he had admitted when he moved back in. It was the fact that she was dating at all! If any one of the inhabitants of the farmhouse should be dating, it was him. 19 and recently out of jail! "Hello!" Not his 36 year old mom. "That shit just ain't fair." Natalia had laughed and cried and welcomed her son back home with open arms and promised him that she would try to spare him from witnessing any make-out sessions between her and Olivia. "Ma!" he had complained, "not helping!" and trudged up to his room with his luggage.
When Olivia had reached the ground floor without any incidents involving creaking steps, she sighed with relief and sat down on the couch to pull on her sneakers. As she did so, she looked around the room and noticed the still-remaining gaps on the walls and shelves where her stuff used to be when she still lived here. And that stuff is now in boxes at the Beacon. Shame. She sighed wistfully, and closed her eyes, reliving some of those happy memories. Then she glanced up at the ceiling and remembering the even happier memory she had just created, smiled widely and jumped up from her seat, bouncing slightly on her feet. As she left the farmhouse she glanced quickly at the empty spot where her 'ridiculous modern art' used to hang (after Natalia allowed her to bring it down from her room) and made a decision.
The only good thing about Natalia getting a new job - besides the official reason - was that Olivia could leave her own job whenever she wanted, without Natalia wondering where she was going. It's tough being sneaky if she knows about it. And since Natalia's job was a 9 to 5 kinda thing, Olivia also knew with a 98% accuracy whenever Natalia wasn't home. Olivia looked down at the clock on her laptop. 4:07 pm, now is definitely one of those times. She got up from her desk-chair and quickly made her way out of the office, locking it behind her. She used the elevator to go up to her suite and then stood in front of a couple of cardboard boxes full of her life at the farmhouse and tried to choose which item to take first. It has to be something that's impersonal enough so that Rafe doesn't notice, and common enough so that it'll blend in without Natalia seeing it right away. Ah! She picked up an unlit earth-toned scented candle that she had been carrying around with her ever since she left San Cristobel. "Should I take more?" She wondered aloud but shook her head. "Naa, one at a time." Slow and steady wins the race and all that.
Olivia drove quickly to the farmhouse and let herself in with the keys she still had because Natalia refused to take them back. "Keep it for an emergency." she had said and Olivia relented easily. She walked quietly into the living room, not really knowing why she was sneaking around like an idiot when she knew there was no one home anyway, and put the candle back in its old place on the side table next to the couch. "There ya go" she whispered, and patted the candle. "Beats the box any day, right?" She glanced to her left and saw the Virgin Mary statue staring straight at her. "So whaddya think? Feels more like home already, doesn't it? One down, only a few dozen to go." She heard a car pull up outside and looked down at her watch. "5:34. Shit!" She could almost hear the disappointed sigh from the statue. "Oops, sorry. I gotta go. Don't tell Natalia about the candle and I'll put extra in the swear jar, deal? Great!" She ran to the front door and let herself out right as Natalia opened the back door.
"Olivia?" Natalia called out when she entered the kitchen and glanced into the living room. "Anyone here?" Strange. A knock behind her and a "hey you" made her grin and look around. "Olivia! I saw your car outside but when I got in you weren't here and I was like 'where is she' ... and there you are."
Note to self, park the car in a less obvious place the next time. "Yeah. I took a small walk (around your house) while I waited for you to get home."
Natalia walked over to Olivia and wrapped her arms around her. "I missed you."
Olivia returned the hug and took a deep breath, filling herself with her favorite aroma. Natalia. "You saw me less than 10 hours ago," she joked and turned her head to kiss her way from Natalia's neck towards her lips.
"Mmm, 10 hours is way too long."
"I agree," Olivia said and sealed it with a kiss.
The next day Olivia dropped off a small picture frame of Emma feeding the ducks. There were still pictures of Emma around the farmhouse, so she figured she could more easily place those back without anyone noticing. Before she left, she took 10 bucks from her pocket and waved it in front of the Virgin Mary statue, "see, I didn't forget" she said proudly and walked through the kitchen and placed it in the swear jar before taking a seat on the bench outside to wait for Natalia.
And so it went, day after day Olivia would slowly fill in the gaps of the farmhouse, making it feel more and more like the home she remembered. She convinced herself she was being devilishly sneaky and sometimes caught herself grinning ridiculously wide whenever Natalia would walk past one of her returned items without commenting. Natalia only wondered about the grins Olivia was sporting, "What are you smiling at?" Olivia would only shrug, "nothing, I'm just happy" and Natalia would indulge her, but of course she knew. She noticed it the first day when she pulled Olivia towards the couch to have her way with her before Rafe got home, and saw the candle sitting next to the Virgin Mary statue on the side table. She had planned on asking Olivia about it, but lost herself in lips and fingers, and forgot all about it. And then when a new item appeared the next day and the day after that, Natalia decided to allow Olivia to do whatever it is she was doing. She'll tell me when she's ready.
A few weeks later Olivia thought she had been caught. She had brought back a lamp for Natalia's bedroom and Rafe caught her as she lay on the bed idly flicking the lamp on and off, to make sure it was working she told herself. Not because she loved being in Natalia's bed.
"What are you doing?" Olivia looked up and saw Rafe standing in the doorway. It was the first time in weeks where Olivia was actually thrilled instead of frustrated to hear Rafe's voice. Hey! He keeps interrupting happy time. As long as Natalia didn't catch her, she could still finish. She turned the light on and off once more before slowly getting off the bed.
"I, uh, borrowed this lamp from your mom a few months ago and I was just returning it."
"Okie, and the reason why you were lying in her bed, turning the lamp on and off again and again is?"
"Uhm, testing it." Olivia nodded. "To make sure it was all plugged in right and stuff."
"Right. And practically inhaling my mom's night shirt at the same time was what? Another test?" Rafe tilted his head a bit and there was a hint of teasing in his voice, and it reminded Olivia of Natalia. She does that too, every time she figures me out and calls me on it. She felt a Natalia-by-product type of an affection for Rafe at that moment and decided to come clean.
"Okay, so here's the thing. Have you noticed any other new stuff at the house, like this lamp, just showing up?"
Rafe laughed, "yes, it's hard to miss."
Olivia panicked, "do you think your mom has?"
Yes! We defo' talk about it enough, Rafe answered in his head, but, after seeing Olivia's panicked expression, out loud he said, "uhm, no? No, I don't think she has, she's been distracted by other things lately..."
Olivia breathed a sigh of relief, "oh good."
"...mainly you." Rafe finished quietly.
"Nothing... so what about this stuff?"
"Right, well, you know I used to live here and my stuff was all mixed with your mom's stuff, and then the whole wedding thing happened and I moved out really fast, so I sort of just grabbed what I could and left all these gaps around; on the walls where my pictures used to be, and on the shelves and mantle and your mom never filled any of it up, you know? Well, I thought maybe it would be nice if I brought some of the stuff I took and put it back, one by one."
"Why?" Rafe asked, straight-out.
"Because there are like gaps, and holes, in the house."
"And you wanna fill those gaps?"
Olivia nodded. "Yes."
"Because..." I love her.
"Because?" He prodded.
"Because she deserves it, all right? She deserves a gap-free life!" Olivia was getting annoyed. Why do I have to explain my self? "Because he's Natalia's son", a voice in her head answered.
"And...?" Rafe urged, wanting more from Olivia.
"And?" Olivia frowned, "and what?"
"And because you love her, right?"
Olivia had never actually told Rafe that she loved his mom. Has he been waiting to hear that? She nodded. "Yes, I love her." She took a deep breath. "In fact, I love Natalia with my whole heart, with everything that I am," she confessed sincerely.
Rafe smiled, and admitted softly: "Yeah, I know."
"Of course I do, it comes off you in waves. You might as well be wearing a neon sign or something, 'I heart Natalia'." He laughed.
Olivia gaped. These Riveras are hard to figure sometime. One minute they're being sincere and then wham, they're mocking me.
"Don't look so surprised! I told ya, I'm not stupid. I've done stupid things, but I'm not stupid. Sure, I was a little freaked at first, because, you know, you're 'Olivia Freakin' Spencer', but you're different now. You're better when you're with her."
"I am?" Olivia wondered aloud, and looked at Rafe. Really looked at him. Is he coming around?
"You know you are. Look, I just wanted to hear you say it. If you're gonna be with my mom..." Olivia held her breath "...you're going to have to be able to say it when I'm around, 'cause she deserves to hear it, all right? All the time. We clear?"
Olivia nodded. "We're clear."
Rafe smiled and then nodded towards his room, "Anyway, I'm on my lunch break, so..." he turned and walked towards his room.
Who was that? Olivia wondered. "Wait, Rafe?" She ran towards the doorway and caught him in the hallway.
"Can I ask you a question, and you have to promise not to get mad?"
Rafe squinted, like he was trying to decide if she was setting him up for something. "Sure..." he drawled, "but just this once."
Olivia chuckled, "Deal." How to put this without screwing this up? "Who was that back there? I mean, don't get me wrong, but you've never been much of a confrontational kinda guy... and, no offense to Frank, but I know you didn't learn it from him..." Oh, he doesn't look pleased. Too much? What was it that Natalia said when I had to evaluate an employee? Oh, end on a happy note. Compliment him. "So who else have you been hanging out with lately? 'Cause I gotta say, I like this new you."
Rafe wanted to object but he knew he couldn't. It was true, he had never really stood up for anything in his life, apart from Gus's reputation and on occasion his mom, but it was always half-assed and never worked out the way he intended. Case in point: Jail.
And if he was truly honest with himself, there were only two people he could account for this recent change, and Frank definitely wasn't one of them.
"I've been hanging out with my mom a lot lately..." he admitted with a shrug. Olivia smiled widely at the admission. "I'm glad... your mom's the best." She turned around to leave, but froze when she heard Rafe mumble behind her back, "...and I've also been hanging around you."
She turned slowly to face him, but he was gone into his room and the door was closed.
"Are you sure this is okay?" Olivia asked Natalia as they turned down the bed. She was referring to the fact that only a few minutes earlier Natalia had announced to Rafe that they were going to bed, and pulled an unsuspecting Olivia with her up the stairs.
Rafe had only chuckled and said "good night ma'", and then a few seconds later, "good night Olivia".
"You heard him, he said 'good night Olivia'. It's perfectly fine," Natalia said, and took the two decorative pillows off the bed and placed them by the foot of the bed.
"Yeah, I'm still not sure if he actually said it, or if I imagined it." Olivia admitted, and pulled down the covers.
"Well, then we both imagined it, either way, you're staying the night. The whole night."
"Yay!" Olivia said softly and laid down on her side of the bed. I have my own side! It was still a little unbelievable to her how quickly their relationship had progressed after Natalia came back from her 'vacation'.
"Yay!" Natalia echoed, and laid down beside Olivia, curling herself around her and laying her head on Olivia's shoulder.
Olivia pulled her closer and placed a soft kiss on Natalia's forehead. "So does this mean that I don't have to set my phone alarm at an ungodly hour just so I can sneak out before Rafe wakes up?"
Natalia lifted her head and gave Olivia an incredulous look, "You set it at six in the morning, mine is set at 6:30."
Olivia gave her a quick kiss, "like I said, an ungodly hour."
"You're weird sometimes."
"All part of my charm, right?"
Natalia nodded, no point in lying. "Mmm, ready for bed?" She asked, as she turned off the lamp by her side of the bed.
"Sure, let me just..." Olivia said and turned to reach for the lamp on the nightstand. She froze when she saw Natalia's old lamp on her nightstand. That's definitely not the lamp I left earlier today. She looked over at the nightstand across the bed, and sure enough, there stood her lamp. She looked down at Natalia who was looking right back at her, a hint of a smile tugging at her mouth. "You switched them," Olivia said matter-of-factly and finally reached over to turn off the old lamp. The room was cast in darkness, but there was enough moonlight coming in through the window so they could still see each other easily. Natalia moved back to her place on Olivia's shoulder when she returned, "yeah, I like yours better," she said and hugged Olivia tighter.
She knows right? Or maybe she thinks I just brought that one lamp? "I just, ah, you know, brought the lamp because my side was missing one, and I wasn't using this one at the hotel. You can have it by the way, it's all yours."
Natalia nodded and squeezed Olivia tighter, "all mine."
"Yours." Phew, dodged that bullet.
They lay silent for a moment, both lost in their own thoughts. Then Natalia remembered the reason Olivia was here in the first place. "So Emma will stay with Phillip one day a week?" Olivia had mentioned it only briefly when she arrived at the farmhouse that night, she had been so nervous about leaving her little girl with her father, and needed Natalia-induced-kisses to distract her. Which Natalia, of course, promptly delivered.
"Yup, it's like a trial period, we'll see how she likes it after a month. It's up to her, if she doesn't like it, we'll figure something else out. But, I gotta tell ya, I miss her like crazy when she's gone."
"Me too. You know, I'm really proud of you for going along with this. Emma loves her dad."
Olivia smiled and pulled Natalia almost on top of her. "What can I say, there's a slight chance that your kindness is rubbing off on me," she leaned up a little to meet Natalia in a soft kiss, "plus, there's the added bonus of getting to spend the night here with you instead of alone at the Beacon."
Natalia was secretly thrilled by that answer, but rolled her eyes anyway. She had a rep to keep. "Well, I hope the main reason you are doing this is because it'll be good for Emma to get to know her dad."
"Of course I am, I'm just saying. Seeing Phillip is good for Emma, seeing you is good for me, everyone wins. Now, less talking, more kissing please."
Natalia rolled her eyes again.
Three boxes and 46 items later Olivia was putting up her last and most conspicuous item. When she was done, she walked slowly around the farmhouse and admired her handiwork. Her stuff was all over the house now, even in the bathroom, in the shape of small scented soaps and tiny shampoo bottles from the hotel. She ended her tour in Natalia's bedroom and lay down in the bed, wrapping her arms around one of the pillows. It smelled like Natalia and she sighed. The farmhouse felt like home now more than ever and she felt a deep twinge of sadness when she thought about having to go back to the Beacon. I hate leaving. She glanced at the alarm clock by the bed and noticed the time. She'll be home soon. She went back to the living room and stood in the middle of the room, looking at her modern artwork hanging on the wall.
"There's no way she's not going to notice this."
"Ahh!" Olivia spun around and noticed Natalia standing in the kitchen doorway. She put her hand over her chest to steady her breathing. "Gawd, you scared me."
"What will I notice?" Natalia asked again, and smirked when Olivia's eyes widened and she bit her lip. She looked at the artwork that Olivia had just finished hanging up half an hour ago. "What did you do?"
"Uhh..." Divert. Distract. Do something! Olivia strode towards Natalia and pulled her into a deep kiss. Natalia pulled away after a few seconds, "Olivia, wha- mmph". Olivia kissed her again. "Shh, just kiss me."
Natalia decided to let Olivia off the hook as she thoroughly enjoyed the feel of Olivia's tongue against her own. Olivia then moved her mouth to Natalia's neck and kissed and nibbled and sucked along her pulse point. So good. Need more. Natalia's head moved back to give the other woman more room to cover and that's when Olivia's artwork flashed before her eyes. That's the last one, right? Finally! She pulled back with great difficulty and held Olivia back with her arms. Olivia whimpered and ... is that a pout? So cute. "Ok, we need to talk." Natalia said and pulled Olivia towards the couch. "Sit." Olivia sat.
Natalia let her eyes wander around the living room and saw that Olivia had filled in every single gap in her house. And my life, if I'm honest. She sat down next to Olivia and took her hand. She smiled when Olivia immediately interlaced their fingers. It's time.
"So," she started, and looked at Olivia, "should we make it official?" Natalia almost surprised herself. Wow, am I always this direct? Hmm.
Olivia gave her a confused look, "what?"
Natalia smiled, "your moving in silly".
"What...uh..." Natalia swept her hand around the room, and pointed to all of Olivia's things in the process. The light went on in Olivia's head. "Oh, you noticed that?" And then she really lit up. "You mean?"
Natalia nodded, "I want you here, with me. Always. Not just once a week when Emma is away, or during the occasional sleepover. Always. And I want Emma here. Rafe wants Emma here. Heck, Rafe wants you here."
Olivia laughed, "whaaat?"
"I know! Can you believe it. He told me the other day, just came straight out and said: 'Ma, you should ask Olivia to move back in. She'll save a whole lot in gas since she'll no longer hafta drive over here 4 times a day. And with the economy as it is, we gotta save money where we can, you know?' I was like, 'uhh, okie, if that's what you want honey.'"
Olivia couldn't believe what she was hearing.
Natalia didn't mention the last bit Rafe had said that convinced her he was ready and really wanted this for her. "And ma? I don't think you're going to hell. I'm really sorry I said that." -"You don't?" -"No, God doesn't punish us for loving someone this much."
Natalia blinked away a few tears, "So anyway," she continued, "You wanna go pick up Emma so we can tell her together?"
"Yes!" Olivia nodded frantically. "Uh, I mean..." she scrambled to get up, almost knocking the coffee table over and ran out the door. Natalia guffawed. Five seconds later Olivia came back and almost leapt over the coffee table to give a surprised Natalia a quick kiss. "Love you! Be right back." And then she ran back out.
Natalia shook her head and smiled. Adorkable.
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