DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Once again, massive thanks go to Mammothluv for beta reading, and especially for correcting my tenses, which were all over the shop.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Quew


She feels like she's been lying on the couch for days, weeks even. The reality of it only having been three hours is lost on her. She tries to will herself to movement, but lassitude grips her limbs, lassitude born of a broken heart.

Hating herself just a little for indulging in her self-defeat but powerless to stop, she continues to simply lie there, staring at a crack in the wall just above the television. There is a drink sitting on the coffee table, along with a book and the remote. All of them seem a million miles away, alien objects almost, as if she could study them but doesn't really know how to make them work.

To her, it feels as if the energy, the sheer vital life is being drained out of her, sliding out through her pores, leaving her limp and breathless. Her vision is colored in shades of gray. Bright vibrant colors have no place in this new half-life she's been thrust into. She feels like she's drowning, like she's slowly sinking into a semi-conscious state, and thinks for a moment that she should call someone, but the phone is on the other side of the room and her legs refuse to uncurl, her muscles refuse to propel her across the open space.

Is this what losing a limb feels like? She wonders, feeling a flicker of self-hatred for comparing her situation to the tragedy of a horrific accident, but deep down she feels like she sees the comparison – she sees how they might be just a little bit similar. She feels like she's lost something so integral, so much a part of her that she doesn't even know how she'll function without it. She can't draw on her previous personality to shout and stomp to get her through this, because without what she's lost she simply isn't that person anymore. She doesn't feel whole, and she can't imagine tailoring her life to these new circumstances; can't imagine working around the loss to come back as any sort of complete human being.

Her breath catches in her throat for just a second, and the tears start to pool, but she doesn't sob. Instead her breath is released in a sigh and the tears simply slide silently out of her eyes, as inexorable and unstoppable as rainfall. She's not hysterical or histrionic, she simply…is this way. She feels her hearing fade, drawing into herself, her eyes half-closed, and just for a second entertains the idea of simply closing her eyes and sleeping forever, keeping this world, this loss at bay. But no. There are a million reasons why she can't do that, a million reasons why, and she knows them all on some level, but right now, in this gray room, in this gray mind, she can't focus on them.

She's sinking deeper and deeper, her mind as slow and steady as her heartbeat, as the tears march across her rigidly still face. She knows that when everything hits her, and it will, then it'll be time for binges and bad behavior and grief. But right now, she can't even bring herself to acknowledge that the world outside of the sofa and the crack in the wall exists.

It does, however, and it imposes itself harshly on her despair. The knocks are quick and light and desperate. Her eyes don't even flicker from the wall and, thinking about it later, she's sure she didn't hear them at all.

She hears, somehow though, someone calling her name, distorted and quiet and very, very far away. She doesn't respond to the first touch, but the second almost brings her round. Someone is wiping at her tears with trembling hands, a little too upset to be gentle. The final thing that brings her back is the accidental scrape of a thumbnail across her cheek, the pain a shock after her numbness.

"Natalia?" She murmurs, struggling to focus.

She may not be sobbing, but the other woman certainly is. She's almost hysterical, crying that Olivia wouldn't move when she called, and that for a moment…just for moment, when she saw her still and unmoving on the sofa with her eyes open, she thought…

Olivia raises a hand, tracing the side of Natalia's face, stopping her mid-wail. The grayness dissipates, disappearing outward where Olivia's fingers touch Natalia's skin, bringing color to Natalia's face – her beautiful, flushed, desperate, angry, agonized face. Olivia is mesmerized, hypnotized, by the way that the other woman brings color back to her world.

"I'm still here," She whispers.

"Don't leave me, please. I don't think I could…" Natalia's words devolve into sobs once more. "Oh I…just…don't leave…"

"Never." She still feels like she isn't fully there, but she feels unreal as opposed to numb; dreamlike instead of blank and despairing. She does the only think she can do, the only thing left to her. She leans forward and kisses Natalia who returns it with a desperate urgency, as if right now the only way to really really prove Olivia is there and alive is with lips and tears and whispered protestations of love and hope and new beginnings in between tear-stained, salty, sob-filled kisses.

With each meeting of their lips, Olivia is more and more herself. More color returns, bright reds, astonishing golds and vivid purples exploding against eyes squeezed shut. Her sobs come, first as hitches of breath transferred into Natalia's mouth, then as gasped pants between kisses. Sobs and promises and apologies from both of them evolve into a grand, glorious cacophony of noise that encompasses everything they ever were and everything they will be.

She almost falls off the couch as she slides off in an effort to get closer still, her lips never leaving the other woman's. There on the floor, the two of them kneeling against each other and barely breathing for kissing and crying, she realizes that this time, they're not letting go of each other without a fight.

The End

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