DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This takes place in the same Otalia-verse as my first story, Hero Myth, about 10 months after the last part. No Captain Spencer or Princess Natalia in this one, but I hope it's acceptable. I really am going to be now. No beta in the first part, mistakes (of which there are plenty) all mine! Thanks to Wonko for beta-ing the second bit! Also, comments are, indeed, love...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

First Words
By Juri


Part 1

The sky looks surprisingly beautiful from a prone position, the green eyed woman thought to herself as she observed the bright blue heavens, admiring the occasional puffy white cloud that drifted into her limited view. Though her back and leg screamed bloody murder at her, nerve endings seemingly on fire, the hotelier couldn't help but take a moment to appreciate the mundane workings of the atmosphere. Olivia Spencer was having a bad day.

From the moment she had woken up in the morning, she had known something was off. After a few seconds, she realized that she was alone in bed, and it took her another five minutes of wracking her brain before she could remember that Natalia was away for a week on hotel business. She would have gone herself, but had come down with a flu, and while no longer contagious she was still weakened enough that the younger woman had insisted she stay behind. "That explains why I feel like I haven't slept," she muttered to herself, rubbing tired eyes with her fists. She never got good rest when separated from her wife. Eyes darting to the clock, she saw it was 4:30 in the morning; she didn't have to get out of bed yet.

Just as she was drifting back to sleep, a high pitched cry pierced the air, and she snapped up in bed, springing to her feet and dashing out of the room before she knew what was happening. Skidding into the room across the hall, Olivia was suddenly wide awake. Gus stood in his crib, clinging to the bars and screaming, loud and long, obviously in pain. As soon as he spotted her, he raised his arms, chubby face contorted and blotchy, tears steaming down ruddy cheeks. She hurried over and scooped the boy into her arms, checking him over for injury. No obvious wounds, but he was burning with fever, and Olivia felt her heart clench in fear.

"It's okay sweetie, its okay. Mommy's here, you're gonna be fine." She cooed, rocking him gently as she mentally planned the next few hours. She would have to wake Rafe – after a year living with an infant he wasn't primarily responsible for, he had learned to tune the crying out – and have him get Emma ready and take her to school before he went to work. Olivia was going to the emergency room, and would probably be there for quite some time. It would only take her 10 minutes to get dressed and gather any supplies she or the baby would need, assuming everything was were it should be. God, she wished Natalia was here.

Natalia! She would have to call her lover and tell her what was going on; of course this would have to happen when the younger woman was away. Gus had never really been sick before, and Olivia knew her wife would want to be informed of everything that was occurring to their son as it happened. When she got to the ER, she would let her know, the older woman decided. That way she wouldn't have to waste precious time with questions she didn't have the answers for, like 'what's wrong with Gus?' and 'why haven't you seen a doctor yet?'

Moving quickly and embracing the wailing child to her tightly, Olivia made her way into her other son's room. Toeing open the door, she had to stop for a moment and chuckle at the sight of him. Rafe lay on his back, feet on his pillow, long body stretched diagonally across the bed, head lulled off the edge of the bed in what looked like the most uncomfortable position possible. "Ahow, ahow," Gus cried, tiny fists clutching her shirt, and she shook her head, the last of the sleep-haze gone.

"Rafe, wake up," she yelled, not bothering to be subtle, knowing from experience it was pointless. Instantly, the young man sprung up onto his feet, looking around wildly.

"Wha-who-huh?" he slurred, blinking slowly and trying to focus on her.

"Something's wrong with the baby, I'm taking him to the emergency room. You are in charge of getting Em ready and to school today."

"Uh, right, school, emergency room," he repeated, eyes wide but dazed.

"Rafe, focus! I need you to watch your brother while I change."

"Right, watch, you change – wait, watch Gus, you change! Ack!" He amended, shaking his head to clear it, looking vaguely horrified.

"I'll watch him Mom," Emma's voice assured from behind. Turning, Olivia gently deposited the whimpering infant into his sister's waiting arms.

"Thanks Bean, back in a flash."

Olivia set the record time for changing, getting back to her children in less then 5 minutes, purse and baby bag on her shoulders. Her back creaked in protest of so much sudden stop and start motion and she winced as she settled Gus on her hip, biting back a groan of pain. Now was not the time for weakness, now was the time to make sure her little boy was okay. "Okay, I love you guys. Sandwich stuff in the fridge, extra petty cash in the drawer by the sink. I'll text you with news when I have it." She said hurriedly on her way out the door.

Olivia was sure that she had broken at least thirty different traffic laws on her way to the hospital, and so she was pissed but not surprised when she was pulled over a block away from her destination. Pulling over, she waited impatiently for the officer to approach. He was unfamiliar to her, and upon closer inspection, she could see the 'State Police' symbol on his patch. Of course it wouldn't be someone who knew them, why should today be at all cooperative. "Look, I know I was speeding, I'm sorry. My son, he's sick, I have to get to the hospital," she explained before the man had a chance to open his mouth. The policeman looked into the back seat, squinting at Gus.

"Doesn't look like you, too dark. How do I know you didn't snatch him?" he commented, almost sounding bored.

"Excuse me?" she asked, incredulous. The policeman shrugged as he towered over her, hand resting on the hood of the car.

"He looks a little dark to be yours, is all." He replied, adding almost conversationally. "Was it an accident?"

"My wife is Hispanic, all right?" she snapped, instantly realizing her mistake when his eyes narrowed at the word 'wife.' "Please…sir, he's sick. I need to get him to a doctor." Hard eyes turned to her, looking her up and down.

"License and registration, ma'am." He demanded sharply, voice cold.

Trembling with fear and suppressed rage, Olivia reached for the requested items. She would love nothing more than to light into the man, show him who was really boss, but Gus hadn't stopped crying since the house, and was looking pale even as he shivered from his fever. Her love for her son won out over her need to command respect, though she mentally took note of his badge number, already planning the scathing complaint she would make to his superiors. "Fuck, fuck, FUCK!" she whispered as he walked back to his car.

In the end, he had given her a ticket for speeding, dragging out the process as long as possible. As soon as he ordered her to move along, she peeled across the street and into the hospital parking lot. She was in the ER within thirty seconds. It would be another half an hour before anyone would see her, despite complaints, threats, and begging.

An ear infection; her baby boy had a severe ear infection. How could she not have seen this, how could she not have noticed something was wrong? The doctor had assured her that it was not uncommon for the symptoms to manifest after the infection was full swing, but guilt gnawed at her insides all the same. Her mind flashed back to the last couple of days, and she struggled to remember if there was any sign. Gus had been moodier than usual, not eating as much and extra cranky at bed and bath times, occasionally tilting his head oddly and pulling on his ear. Glancing at her son in the rearview mirror as he slept, she sighed. She hadn't thought much of it at the time; he went through cycles of irritableness, and she had assumed he was just missing Natalia while she was away. Oh God, Natalia! She had forgotten to call her…

As if summoned by thought, Olivia's phone went off, the special ring-tone she had setup as her partner's filling her with dread. There was really only one reason for Natalia to be calling at 6:30 in the morning, and that was if she already knew. "What's wrong with the baby?!" the younger woman demanded as soon as Olivia answered.

"I'm driving home from the hospital," the older woman began, eyes briefly closing in shame when she heard the other woman choke back a sob. "He's ok, he's going to be fine. He has a bad ear infection, but, the doctor gave us medicine. He should be good as new in a few days." She assured as she parked car at The Beacon's staff lot. Sighing tiredly, she leaned back into her seat, preparing herself for the verbal lashing she would surely be receiving.

"Why didn't you call me?" Natalia asked softly, voice thick with tears; Olivia would have much preferred yelling.

"I-I'm so sorry baby. He wouldn't stop crying, and I got pulled over for speeding, and that damn cop was a racist homophobic prick, and I was just so worried, I completely forgot." She rambled, exhaustion settling into her bones.

"You what?" Natalia's voice was suddenly very even.


"You were speeding with our son in the car." If tones of voice could kill, Olivia would have died instantly, probably turning to stone then shattering into a thousand tiny pieces.

"Natalia, I panicked! He was screaming, he wouldn't stop, I was terrified," she pleaded quietly, trying not to wake the boy.

"Olivia Spencer, I cannot believe you. Our baby is ill while I am away from him and cannot, cannot not matter how much I want to, come back home to him. And instead of calling me and telling me what is going on, you, who I trusted to care for him take him for a fucking high speed joyride and get pulled over by the police?!"

The younger woman never once raised her voice, but Olivia felt like she had screamed at the top of her lungs. The hotel owner felt the anger like blow, wincing at the curse; she could count the number of times she had heard the other woman swear on one hand. Her breath let out in a whoosh and she shivered, heart squeezing painfully; that wasn't fair, she had been trying to get to the hospital. "I can't even hold my baby and make sure he is okay, Olivia," Natalia continued, her voice trembling now, small and frightened. "I'm stuck here until this stupid merger is over. Do you have any idea what that feels like? My baby is sick and I can't even hold him." She trailed off, and Olivia could here her breathing raggedly, obviously crying.

"I'm so sorry. I meant to call, I just kinda went to pieces. He's okay, I promise."

"I'm too upset to talk to you right now, okay? I will be back as soon as I possibly can. Please be careful getting home; I couldn't handle it if something happened to either of you."

"Okay, I understand. I'm so sorry. I lo-" the phone disconnected, "ve you…" Hanging up on her end, it took all of Olivia's willpower not to burst into tears.

Initially, she had stopped off at The Beacon to grab paperwork that could be done from home and to inform the acting General Manager that she would be unavailable for the next few days. Cradling her dozing son to her chest with one arm – jeez, he was sure getting heavy, she wouldn't be able to manage him with one arm for much longer – she pushed open the doors to the hotel and stepped into the lobby. The scene before her could be likened to a snapshot of battlefield, chaos and madness with pockets of organized activities. The first thing her mind was able to pick out of the fray was that there was water dripping from everything. "What… the… hell is going on here." She growled.

"Olivia, oh thank God!" Greg all but wailed, rushing up to her, mindful not to slip on the soaked marble floor.

"Shhh!" the woman hissed, signaling to the sleeping child with her chin. "Explain, calmly and quietly." The man nodded, motioning that she follow him. Carefully, they made their way to the employee break room on the first floor, dodging panicking staff.

The sprinkler system had malfunctioned on the ground floor, spectacular torrential indoor rain only stopping when the fire department had shut off the water to the building. Her hotel, full of town residents and rich tourists and influential patrons, completely without water, her son suffering from a massive ear infection, and her wife upset and hundreds of miles away… Olivia couldn't have planned a worse day for herself if there had been a pot of a million dollars as a prize for it.

She spent an hour on the phone with the manufacturer of the sprinkler system, managing to secure a free replacement and upgrade, and another 30 minutes with a cleaning company, ending up paying double for same day service of such a huge undertaking. Gus woke up sometime during the second call and began to whine, demanding in the inarticulate way of ten month old infants to be picked up, with annoyed squeals and grabby hand motions. Olivia had sighed and acquiesced, lower back aching with every step as she held the baby and paced, growling into the phone. She would have given anything for Natalia to just walk in the door, angry or not.

Finally, after a small eternity of barking orders to her staff, and promising her clients that the situation was being handled – how did so many of them have her cell number? – Olivia had a moment to breathe. She sank down onto the bed, laying down and settling her son, who had been dozing fitfully in her arms, onto her chest. Just as her eyes closed, her phone rang again, and her eye began to twitch as she reached out and brought it to her ear. "What?" she snapped, jaw clenched in irritation. If it was another person calling to inform her that they had no water in their room, she would scream.

"Ms. Spencer? This is Miss Young, your daughter Emma's teacher. There's been an… incident; Emma has been suspended from school, and needs to be picked up immediately." It took everything Olivia had not to throw her phone across the room.

The drive back to The Beacon from the junior high school was silent and tense, neither Spencer willing to look at the other. Olivia had entered the Principle's office and collected her daughter without uttering a word, just a quick jerking motion to indicate that the girl should proceed her and that was it. The woman was so angry that she was trembling, and had learned that any reaction in this state would do more damage than good, regardless of the circumstance. Through the buzzing in her head, she also vaguely acknowledged that all this fury wasn't a result of Emma. She would give her right arm for Natalia to be waiting for them at the hotel.

Sadly, she was not; the only thing was waiting for them was a soggy lobby, a frazzled staff, and a room without water. "You will sit on the bed, quietly, until I tell you otherwise. Is that understood young lady."

"Why can't we just go home?" Emma muttered, dropping onto the aforementioned furniture and staring sulkily at the floor. Olivia ran her free hand through her hair, fighting the urge to throw something.

"Because, Emma," the woman ground out through clenched teeth. "I was in the middle of fixing a situation and taking care of your brother, when you decided to set back my schedule. I cannot even begin to tell you how disappointed I am in your behavior. So, you will sit here, until I say otherwise. Am. I. Clear?"

The girl's lower lip trembled, but she glared defiantly at the wall over Olivia's shoulder. "Whatever you say, Mother. Go ahead, take care of Gus, and the hotel, and Rafe, and Mama, and everything else; I'll just sit here and wait." She spat, and for a second, the woman was taken aback by the venom and bitterness directed her way. Pain lanced through her chest, closing her throat. Carefully settling her son into his car seat, Olivia moved to her daughter, bending so that she was kneeling in front of her.

"Baby, I know it's been hard the past year, with the hotel franchise taking off and the new baby. And I know that you feel like Natalia and I are too busy for you. I love you, you are my baby girl, and I'm sorry if I haven't done a good job of showing you how much recently. But you can't get into fights at school because you're mad at me."

Emma sniffled, a lone tear escaping down her cheek. Olivia reached up to wipe it away, stunned when her daughter flinched. "Hurts," the girl mumbled, and Olivia looked closer, noticing the beginnings of a bruise forming on tender, swollen skin. Her heart ached and she pulled her daughter to her tightly, sighing with quiet relief when small arms wrapped around her neck and an overheated face buried itself in her neck. "I'm sorry, Mommy." Emma whimpered, voice thick and quivering with tears.

"It's okay baby, it's all right."

"Don't be mad, please! I c-couldn't let them say those th-things about you and Mama, I just couldn't! I'm s-s-sorry I disappointed you!" Of course her daughter wouldn't start a fight for no reason, of course she was provoked, she should have known; Olivia Spencer felt like a first class heel.

When Emma calmed down, Olivia ordered all their favorite foods from Company and had them delivered directly to the room. The two Spencer women had curled up on the bed and munched on Buzz Burger's and pie with ice cream floats, spending over an hour just talking and catching up, ignoring the fact that it was the middle of the day, The Beacon was half-functional, and that Emma had been suspended from school. Olivia had missed her little girl, missed spending time just focusing on her daughter, and was grateful that Gus slept soundly and gave them some much needed bonding time. For a few moments, Olivia Spencer was able to forget about the horrible day she was having.

Then the phone rang…


Part 2

"Ms. Spencer?" Olivia held back a groan at the too high, obviously panicky voice on the other end of the phone, wondering if it was too late to cut all her ties and restart her life as a circus gypsy. It would be great, she would be the ring leader and MC, Rafe would juggle, Emma would do trapeze and charm people with her sweet smile, Natalia would be the lion tamer, and Gus would earn them money by being adorable. It was a fool proof.

"Yes Greg?" She could feel the headache starting at the back of her skull, slowly creeping forward.

"Um… the Portland Investors are waiting…" Oh no. She had completely forgotten.

Olivia had invited hotel owners and shareholders she had been courting for more than a year now to stay at The Beacon for a week and entertain business in person. She was supposed to be buttering them up in an effort to add their modest but successful businesses into her fold. Damn. Glancing at her watch, Olivia realized it was almost three in the afternoon… the meeting was scheduled for two… Double damn.

"Please inform them that I was held up in another meeting and will be joining them soon." Olivia winced, knowing how unprofessional that sounded. Sorry, I would be in a meeting with you, but I am currently with someone more important. Thanks for waiting around.

"Of course, right away."

"And if you could make it sound less like I was blowing them off and more like I couldn't get away, that would be good."

"Not a problem."

Hanging up, the exhausted woman inhaled deeply and blew out a noisy breath, scrubbing her face roughly with her hands. Today was just not her day. Feeling a pang of guilt, Olivia turned to her daughter, who was looking at her knowingly, eyes already resigned to whatever instruction she would be given. "Jellybean, I… I'm sorry. I have a meeting that I have to go to. I shouldn't be gone later than five." Emma sighed and nodded.

"I'll watch Gus," she said by way of reply, slipping off the bed walking around it to stand in front of her mother.

"I'm so sorry Emma. I completely forgot about this meeting. I would have cancelled-"

"It's okay mommy," the girl interrupted, reaching out and pulling the seated woman into a hug.

"I'm not mad. I know it's a busy time for the hotel right now. Go to the meeting… just hurry back, okay?"

Fighting back tears, Olivia pulled back and looked at her daughter. "When did you get so grown up, huh?" she asked, brushing loose wisps of ash brown hair behind the girl's ears, frowning at the deep purple bruise that was spreading across one pale cheek and over the bridge of her nose. When she found out who that other kid was, they were dead. Emma rolled her eyes, but looked a bit pleased too.

"Well, I mean, I am twelve Mom; duh." The woman snorted, smirking.

"Oh well, excuse me! I guess it's time for you to start paying me rent then, huh?"


They shared a grin for a long moment before the elder Spencer sighed and the younger moved to the play pen holding her sleeping sibling. Standing, Olivia took a second to look at her daughter, really look at her. God, soon she would be a teenager; soon she wouldn't be waiting for Olivia to come home, it would be the other way around. "I love you Em. You know that, right?"

"I know. Love you too Lady. Go be a corporate shark." Olivia huffed, mock scowling.

"Hey, I am just an honest business woman here."

"You are so totally The Establishment now, you know that right? It would be wrong if I didn't make sure you knew that," Emma teased, sticking out her tongue. The woman could only laugh, shaking her head and shrugging.

"It's a dirty job, but someone has to bring home the bacon."

"Ha, that's not conformist at all. Way to set back The Movement Ma." Olivia blinked owlishly at her daughter.

"Where did you pick up that word?"

"What? Conformist, establishment?" The hotelier nodded and Emma raised an eyebrow in classic, haughty-Spencer fashion. "I read Ma." She said dryly, nodding once for emphasis. "Try it, you'll like it." The woman could only gape, like a fish out of water, as her little girl burst into giggles. "Got ya!"

"That's it, no more Golden Girls or Murphy Brown re-runs for you!"

Olivia Spencer loved her job. The classiness of her establishment, the pride she felt when she walked the halls and saw sparkling door knobs, fresh flowers, smiling patrons. She especially loved the part of her job that required her to interact with other professionals, comparing figures, contrasting methods, and ultimately conquering the competition. If there was one thing that would never change about Olivia Spencer it was her love of acquisition and showing off of herself and all the 'pretty things' that she had. She was a wolf amongst sheep, completely in her element in negotiations; she reveled in the hunt. Usually.

Right now, Olivia's thoughts were not focused on absorbing the incoming data about her targets and analyzing them for weaknesses, but instead back in her room with her two younger children, and, if she were honest with herself – which at the moment she was trying hard not to be – a few hundred miles away with a certain raven haired and very upset woman. She would have rather have Natalia here, furious and terrifying as she would be, then have to deal with this day alone for even one more minute.

"…which is why we would be asking for a slightly larger cut of the monthly profits," Mr. Jacobs, the owner of a moderately sized hotel in Maine, was saying, causing Olivia to blink and refocus on the conversation. She didn't have to pay attention to know that her offers where more than fair, and that she would not budge on them for any reason. If the universe wasn't going to be kind, then neither was she. Squaring her shoulders, the hotelier raised an eyebrow, expression slightly amused. She noticed Greg's eyes widen and knew exactly what she looked like; a predator about to tear into the flesh of a helpless baby animal. Emma was right; she was a shark.

"Well-" Before the woman could begin, her phone rang, startling everyone. She had kept it on in case of emergency, and the ringtone indicated that Rafe was calling. Damnit. "Please excuse me for a moment, I have to take this." She apologized, standing and walking to the corner of the room, turning her back to the other people as she answered. "This had better be good Raphael," she snapped quietly, noting subconsciously that she had picked up Natalia's habit of calling her son by his full name when she was angry. She would be amused by that later, she promised herself.

"Olivia? This is Remy. Listen, I'm in the hospital right now. Rafe went into a seizure on the job and had to be rushed into the ER. I was listening to the scanner and got in as soon as I could. I called Natalia, but could only get her voicemail…"

The world stopped turning, its edges going white and blurry. Olivia was aware that the phone was no longer in her hand, and that someone was calling her name, and for the life of her she couldn't seem to care. Her chest felt like it was being weighed down, like something big was sitting on it, but she couldn't be bothered to struggle for breath. Oh God, Rafe. He had a seizure, he was in the hospital. Sweet Jesus. Then it came to her, like lightning striking a large tree. She hadn't reminded him to check the date on his medicine. He was old enough, practically a grown man now, but he never remembered at the end of the month to make sure his insulin was still useable. It almost always was, but Natalia always made sure to have him double check. In all the craziness with Gus, the hotel, then Emma, Olivia hadn't remembered that yesterday was the 'useless after' date. If something had happened to Rafe, it was her fault.

"I-I have to… go," Olivia murmured, turning unseeing eyes back to the room.

"Olivia? What's wrong?" she heard someone ask. Blinking slowly, she tried to focus on the voice – Greg, she was pretty sure it was Greg.

"Rafe… he's in the hospital… Oh God, he's in the hospital!" She suddenly snapped out of her stupor, bending quickly to scoop up her phone. "Remy, you still there?"

"Yeah, I'm here. Are you all right?"

"Never mind me, listen very carefully. I need you to call Buzz and have him come and pick Emma and Gus up from The Beacon, okay? Tell him the baby has a bad ear infection and have him take them back to the farmhouse." Olivia was already moving out of the room, sparing Greg a 'take care of these people' look before hurrying out the door. "I am going to try and get a hold of Natalia; I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

Olivia had been in the car for exactly six minutes before an unmarked police car had latched onto her tail and signaled her to pull over. "What now?!" she muttered angrily, glaring at Frank Cooper as he strode purposefully to her car.

"Get out of the car, Olivia," he said quietly, face very grim.

"I don't have time for this right now Frank. I have to get to the hospital."

"Olivia, get out of the fucking car." Whatever tirade she was winding up to deliver was cup abruptly short. Shocked at his language, she found herself complying without conscious thought.

"What is this-" As soon as she had cleared the vehicle, Frank grabbed her arm, roughly spinning her and frisking her before cuffing her, squeezing the metal so that it bit harshly into her skin. "Ow, shit, Christ! What the hell Frank?!"

Forcefully yanking her upright, Frank shoved her in the direction of his car. "Olivia Spencer, you are under arrest for sexual misconduct involving an officer of the law."


"You have the right to remain silent," he continued, ignoring her outburst.

"The HELL I do! What the fuck are you talking about?" she shouted, struggling frantically as he pushed her toward the open back door. She didn't have time for this, she needed to get to the hospital, she needed to make sure her son was okay.

"Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

"Goddamn it Frank! I have to get to the hospital, Rafe had a seizure, Natalia's away. I have to go!"

He stopped for a moment, spinning her around and brusquely grabbing her collar and pinning her to the car. "You should have thought about that when you propositioned an officer of the law to get out of a ticket. A ticket, Olivia," he sounded appalled, and she stared at him, wide eyed with confusion and incredulity.

"Excuse me?" she asked, laughing harshly. He only glared, jaw flexing angrily.

"What the hell is the matter with you, huh? You have children at home, a woman that loves you, for Christ's sake! It's not like you are so hard up for cash that you need to sell yourself to pay off a fine." Gaping at him, she laughed again, the sound almost a sob.

"Are you fucking high?" she whispered, unable to comprehend what was happening.

She was being Punked, she had to be. From the moment she woke up this morning, everything that had happened was all part of some big, sick, twisted elaborate joke. This was the climax, and any minute now someone was going to jump out of the bushes and yell, 'Just Kidding!' Either that, or sometime between falling asleep and waking up, Olivia had fallen into the Twilight Zone, because her day had jumped the shark on bad, and had flown into bizarre and ridiculous. I mean, Jesus, this kind of stuff didn't even happen on daytime television.

Frank pulled her back then slammed her against the car, jarring her already aching head. "She's a good woman, Olivia. The only reason we've never had problems is because I trusted you to love her. But this is just wrong. Throwing yourself at the first random person you see when she's away… you sent her away… was it for this?" He was shaking, eyes wild, showing too much white, and for moment Olivia was afraid. She had forgotten over the past few years just how deeply he had been hurt by what had happened. After a brief freak-out when she and Natalia had first gotten together, Frank had been nothing but supportive, if distant from the Spencer-Rivera household. But now she could see all the damage, plain as day, all the pain he locked away to be a 'good guy.'

"Are you crazy? I would never do that, what the hell is going on? This is such bull; you know me Frank!" His expression reeked of, exactly, I know you, and she winced. Christ, she was never that bad, was she?

"This morning, the State Trooper that caught you speeding. He said you threw yourself at him to get out of a ticket, then got violent when he turned you down."

"WHAT? That psycho homophobe racist cop from this morning?" Frank looked uncertain for a moment, but quickly shook his head and scowled.

"He has the marks to prove it, Olivia. You have the right to an attorney…"

Fidgeting agitatedly, Olivia Spencer paced the small holding cell, snarling under her breath. She had been thrown roughly into it over an hour ago and then promptly left alone to scream and curse fruitlessly to the concrete walls. "I want my FUCKING phone call!" she shouted, slamming her hand against the bars, refusing to acknowledge the throbbing ache the action produced in her already abused appendage. They had taken her phone, and she had told Remy she would be at the hospital within fifteen minutes. Rafe was all alone, in God knew what condition… She was going to strangle Frank Cooper the next time she saw him. If she was going to jail, she was going to damn well earn it!

With a sigh, she flopped down onto the hard wood bench, face dropping into the cradle of her hands. Rafe was in the hospital, Emma had been suspended from school, Gus had an ear infection, and Natalia was over two hundred miles away… Perfect; just perfect. "You know God, paying me back for all the bad I've done is one thing, but messing with my kids…" Karma was a bitch. Really, it couldn't possibly get any worse.

"Interesting predicament you've found yourself in, Spencer," a familiar and often ominous voice purred from outside the glorified cage.

"To what do I owe the pleasure Doris?" Olivia muttered, not bothering to look up. It served her right for that last thought.

"As much as it amuses me to see the great Olivia Spencer humbled behind bars, I'm actually here to help." Now the hotelier looked up, eyeing her sometimes friend, sometimes enemy guardedly.

"What?" Doris Wolfe sighed, rolling her eyes and shrugging.

"Long story short, Frank's an idiot and you're not under arrest. Longer story, that State Trooper that accused you has a history of prejudiced behavior, and is under review."

"But-but there were marks, Frank said…"

Now Olivia was lost, confused, all the nervous energy seeping out of her, leaving her drained and raw. Doris looked down at her, eyes filled with guarded sympathy. "Look, Frank's an idiot, the marks were from a brawl the officer had broken up the previous evening, all written out in his reports. And if Detective Cooper had been paying closer attention, he would have seen the red flag and investigated the man's history and MO before arresting you… Needless to say, Mr. Cooper and I are going to have a long talk. As for you," the woman reached forward, producing a key and unlocking the door. "Get out of my jailhouse, you're raising the property values." Olivia Spencer burst into tears.

"Aw crap, Olivia…" Doris whined, grumbling for a moment as the taller woman lunged forward and attached herself to the politician's favorite jacket. "You do not pay me enough for this." Olivia only cried harder, sucking in huge, shuddering breaths and coughing wetly into the well loved fabric.

"I-I am n-not having t-the best day ever," she sobbed, and the Mayor sighed, rolling her eyes before wrapping her friend in a hug.

"I heard about Emma and Rafe. Let's get you out of here and to the hospital." The hotelier could only nod gratefully and allow herself to be led out of the station. "And for God's sake, woman, stop blubbering! You'll ruin both our images," Doris admonished, clearly teasing despite being uncomfortable with the show of vulnerability from the usually calculating woman. She'd never known what to do with crying women, but she was especially at a loss with this one. Olivia Spencer was her equal in most things, and if she was bawling, the situation was bad. The Mayor of Springfield really wished Natalia was around…

A perfect end to a perfect day, Olivia thought sourly to herself, eyes squeezed shut against waves of pain that started at her left ankle and her right hip and rolled upward, crashing against every nerve ending in her body relentlessly. She had fallen, Olivia Spencer had tripped and fallen while running. She had been less than 20 feet from the entrance to the hospital, dashing as fast as was humanly possible, consumed only with the immediate need to see Rafe, to touch his face and make sure her son was all right, when the heel of her shoe had caught on a loose path stone. As she fell she had twisted and heard a crack, similar to the sound of a thick twig being snapped over a knee, or dry wood popping in a hot fire. The pain hadn't hit her until her hip had slammed into the ground, pulling the shoe loose of the walkway. Then, pure, screaming agony.

"Why won't I pass out?" the woman whimpered after long, misery-filled minutes, trying force her lungs to take in air as her chest clenched tight. Anything to escape this day, anything for a reprieve. "Please, please let me pass out," she begged, screaming again when she felt someone move her leg and probe her foot. "FUCK that hurts! Argh, stop that!" she demanded, glaring at the offending person through tear-blurred vision.

"Yup, that's definitely broken," a masculine voice chuckled; it was Rick.

"Where did you get your medical degree, a cracker jack box?" she growled, collapsing back onto the ground and panting. She could feel the sweet unconsciousness at the edges of her body, weighing her down, and she surrendered to it gratefully. Just as she went under, she forced her eyes open. "Rafe?" she slurred, managing to sound authoritative despite her near delirium.

"He's okay; tired and in recovery, but fine." She nodded once, then let the darkness take her.

When Olivia woke, the first thing she noticed was that she was in a bed. It was firm, unyielding to her body, and the sheets were scratchy – a world away from the obscenely high thread count Egyptian cotton she insisted on at home – but it was warm, and the fact that she was lying down and semi-relaxed for the first time in what seemed like forever made it feel like heaven. On the heels of the realization that she was in bed came the realization that she was in bed! Shit, Rafe, and Emma, and Gus! They needed her, Natalia was counting on her to make sure that everyone was taken care of while she was away. How did the other woman do this?!

The woman's limbs felt weak, heavy, and Olivia thought vaguely that she might have been sedated. Struggling against the sheet, Olivia began to sob in frustration, too tired to even really open her eyes let alone get out of bed. Her ankle began to throb, the ache coming from deep in the bone, and she only cried harder, shivering despite feeling feverishly hot. Why was nothing going her way?

A cool hand came to rest on her brow, stilling her immediately. She knew that touch, that smell of lavender and vanilla-sugar anywhere. "Natalia," she breathed, the word a prayer of relief. Green orbs struggled open, meeting dark brown with the intense desperation of a drowning woman gasping for air. Hot tears leaked from grateful eyes. "You're back," she breathed.

"I left after I called you, I couldn't stand being away. I'm sorry for what I said on the phone," the younger woman said, gently stroking Olivia's cheek with the pad of her thumb. The injured woman shook her head, reaching up and grasping the hand, holding it against her face.

"You're home," she said simply, sighing and closing her eyes, falling into a much more peaceful sleep.

When Olivia woke the second time she was much more alert, blinking groggily for a few moments before clearing the cobwebs out of her head with a large yawn. "Hey, welcome back Lady," a voice rumbled, amused, as she got her bearings. Rafe sat in one of the two uncomfortable chairs beside Olivia's bed, Gus squirming and whining on his lap.

"Hey," the woman rasped, coughing to clear her throat. "How do you feel?" she asked, reaching out a hand to rest on his arm. He seemed to blush at the question.

"Considering what an idiot I am, pretty good," he allowed, rolling his eyes at himself. She took a deep breath, guilt sitting like a cold stone in her stomach.

"I'm sorry I forgot to remind you to check your meds," she whispered, looking away in shame.

"What? Oh, no Olivia, it wasn't even like that. I checked them, they were good. I was just stupid today and forgot to bring them with me to work. And there was a party… with cake… and I didn't realize I had left it 'til it was too late… yeah, I was dumb."

Closing her eyes, Olivia took a deep, shuddering breath. He was okay. That was all that really mattered; she'd leave any yelling needed to Natalia. She let the relief wash over her, aware dimly that she was trembling. "Hey, look, 'Liv, I'm fine okay? I know it's been a long day, but everyone is fine, all right?" Rafe promised, and she heard him get up, the sound of the plastic scuffing the floor tile grounding her. He sat on the edge of the bed, waiting until she looked at him again. "I'm sorry about you having to cut your meeting short. You shouldn't have, really, but I'm still sorry; I know this was an important one." She reached up a shaky hand, fingertips coming to rest on his scruffy cheek.

"It was just a meeting; I had to make sure you were okay. I know we don't always get along, but… I love you Rafe, you're family. Business always comes second," she whispered, and his eyes became suspiciously shiny.

Deciding to take pity and save both of their dignity – what was left of either anyway – she dropped her hand to Gus's head, stroking soft hair gently. "Where's Emma? And your mother, for that matter?" she asked, smiling when her youngest pitched forward, trying to force his way to her against his brother's hold. He was such a mama's boy, and Olivia secretly loved it. She gently took the baby from the man and settled him on her chest. Immediately he quieted, pressing his good ear against her, above her heart, little fingers tangling themselves in her hospital gown, murmuring contented gibberish.

"She took Emma to meet with her teacher and some other parent. Apparently little sister got into a brawl defending you guys' honor." He sounded amused and proud, and she grinned up at him. "That kid is going to be so much trouble when she gets to high school, you know that right?"

"She is my daughter, what else would you expect?" She replied haughtily, and Rafe laughed, shaking his head.

"I don't even want to imagine the hell you raised as a teenager, Ma," he teased, mock-shuddering at the thought, both of them choosing to ignore his slip of the tongue, though Olivia felt her heart swell with pride and warmth.

A tender look entered his eyes and he took her free hand. "I am going to go get a doctor and convince them to let us go home, all right? Seriously, please don't move, with the way your day has been going, the floor might cave if you get out of bed without someone around." He stood, squeezing her hand softly before letting it go and making his way to the door. Turning back for a moment, he regarded her seriously. "I love you too, okay?" And then he was gone.

It started as a sniffle and an itching of the eyes, but within moments Olivia was crying again, this time – thankfully – from happiness. Hugging her son to her chest, she buried her face against his soft skin. Maybe today wasn't such a bad day after all. She felt tiny hands pushing against her and she pulled back immediately, concerned that she had been holding on too tightly. Wise brown eyes looked at her, and Gus brought his fists to her face, leaning down with pursed lips for a kiss. She chuckled, amused that her son took after his sister in that way; her baby girl had started begging for kisses when she was about six months old, and had obviously trained her brother well.

She kissed his mouth, then his nose and forehead and he giggled, charming her completely. "Love you too little man," she cooed, eyes widening when he gibbered back.

"Of oo ommy." She held him back from her, disbelieving.

"What did you say?" she asked, feeling ridiculous asking a ten month old to repeat himself.

"Ommy, of ommy." He giggled, showing off his dimples and gently grabbing at her face and trying to pull himself back. Did he just say…

"You love mommy?" she asked, voice catching in her throat.

"Of mommy!" he agreed, bouncing excitedly, seemingly very pleased at being understood.

She changed her mind; Olivia Spencer was having a great day.

The End

Return to Guiding Light Fiction

Return to Main Page