DISCLAIMER: Los Hombres De Paco and its characters are the property of Antena 3. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Lola's entire family might be police officers, but she has long been sure she is the most observant of them all. Take, for example, the second time Silvia comes out to her.
"Lola," Silvia says, and there is more than a hint of nervousness in her tone. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
Lola finishes wiping the glass slowly. She turns around to study her baby sister. It's been a long day, and Paco and Sara are covering the night shift for two other officers, and she was looking forward to a hot bath, a glass of wine, and maybe a novel. A peaceful, quiet night topped off by turning in early.
Judging from the look on Silvia's face, though, it's not going to be that quiet. Nor will Lola be getting into bed all that early.
She remembers the last time Silvia came to her with a request like this.
She's rarely seen her sister this nervous. Silvia is fidgeting, talking as if she expects Lola to be judge, jury, executioner, all at once.
Lola isn't sure what Silvia's thinking. She's not their father, after all.
When Silvia confesses she has a thing for Pepa, Lola isn't surprised. Surprised that Silvia is acknowledging it, that she's moving in the realm of dancing with Pepa, maneuvering to get Pepa's hands on her hips, perhaps. But Lola knows her younger sister, has almost been more of a mother to her. She'd seen the beginnings of this when Pepa and Silvia were fifteen, forced to spend more and more time together as Sarita got older. Everyone saw the worshipful way Silvia looked at Pepa, the way she admired her popular, beautiful, athletic "cousin." Lola remains convinced that most of the gray in Don Lorenzo's hair comes from this period.
What not everyone saw was the way Pepa gazed back when Silvia wasn't looking, how she looked at Silvia like Silvia was something she couldn't understand but desperately needed to. The way Pepa came back to school late in the afternoon to walk Silvia home after science club meetings, and the way, whenever Pepa's parents were fighting and it got particularly bad, Pepa was always to be found with Silvia.
She'd seen it in the devastation on Silvia's face when she learned Pepa was gone.
She'd seen it when Silvia married Lucas. Silvia had gotten smashed two nights before the ceremony, absolutely hammered, and in between bouts of being sick had mumbled drunkenly to Lola about how much she missed Pepa, how much she wondered about the other girl, how much she wished Pepa could be here. How beautiful Pepa had been, how alike Pepa and Lucas were. Lola had just held her hair back, let her sister babble. She's certain Silvia doesn't remember the night, and as Silvia had said her vows two days later, Lola hadn't thought much of it at the time.
But it had come roaring back once Pepa returned to Madrid.
She'd seen it at the first family dinner, when Pepa's wink to Silvia (and Silvia's smile, flustered expression) set Don Lorenzo off, and Silvia had spent the rest of the night sending Pepa consoling glances. (Lola is fairly sure her father didn't see Pepa's wide smirk when he ranted about her kiss with Silvia. She's absolutely sure this is a good thing. She likes Pepa alive, after all.) She'd seen it when Silvia fiercely defended the kiss to Don Lorenzo, and the way Pepa had smiled, slow but sincere, at the spirited defense.
She'd seen it while they were filming the commercial, seen the way Pepa was talking to Montoya but her body was angled toward Silvia's, the way Pepa had no time for Montoya's cheesy pick-up lines but all the time in the world for the shy redhead, the way Silvia had blushed when Pepa had gently teased her.
She'd seen it later at Cachi's, again, when Pepa had been brooding after her fight with Silvia. Her sister had come in and tried to make amends in her way; she hadn't been successful. So Silvia had flirted with the brunette until they'd both been laughing, snorting, smiling. When Silvia grabbed Pepa's hand and Pepa gazed into her eyes and Pepa's eyes were shining, Lola realized that Pepa had finally figured it out, that she finally understood what she hadn't ten years ago. That Silvia, despite wanting to run away from it, was coming to understand, too.
That was the moment she knew they were going to happen.
And she had seen it the night they went to the bar. At the time, Lola had been too overwhelmed (her face still burns when she thinks about that stripper and her goosebumps!) and just drunk enough to not pick up on it. But it was so obvious in retrospect, the way that Pepa had at times seemed to be intentionally ignoring them, the way Silvia had been strangely touchy, in a horrible mood the whole night. The way she'd absolutely ran out of there when the stripper had been making a move on Pepa and Pepa had seemed to be relishing it.
The way Pepa had stared after her disappearing sister, a worried expression on her face, and lost all enthusiasm for the lapdance.
(Lola will never tell anyone, but she'd seen all the girls handing their numbers to Pepa at the end of the night, seen the stripper clearly angling to get Pepa in bed. She also saw Pepa's polite but firm rebuffs of the stripper and saw Pepa throw the numbers out the car window while driving home. It's the reason Lola trusts Pepa with her sister.)
It's why she tells Silvia to go for it.
Silvia looks so nervous now, like she wants to cry, and Lola pushes hot chocolate liberally spiked with Bailey's into her hands. They settle down at the table. Silvia opens her mouth several times, but nothing comes out.
Finally, Lola's had enough. She's not a saint, after all, and she can hear that bath calling her name.
"Is it about Pepa, sis?" she asks bluntly, and Silvia rocks back for a moment. She gathers herself.
"Yes, Lola, I we we're together. Girlfriends. I guess I like women, or at least Pepa," Silvia adds in a needless clarification. Lola's heart breaks. Her sister is staring at the wood of the table. Her fists are clenched so tightly the knuckles are white, her eyes are boring into the whorls between her hands, she's not looking up, and she's biting her lip.
She looks like someone braced to take a hard hit.
Lola slides a gentle hand over one of Silvia's, feels her sister's hand relax fractionally.
"Silvia, that's wonderful. Pepa is a beautiful, kind woman. I'm happy for you," she says, and it's sincere, and Silvia looks up, hope flickering in her face. Lola realizes she is smiling for her sister (she is, it wasn't a lie, she's so glad), and Silvia starts to cry. It's partially relief, partially stress, but also partially heartbreak.
"Lola, what am I going to tell our father?" she manages to get out. Lola shuts her eyes, shakes her head slightly. Her stomach aches for her sister.
To that, she has no answer.
So she slides her chair next to Silvia's, pulls her sister into a warm, comforting embrace. Silvia cries in her arms, and Lola rocks her gently, murmurs nonsense to her, just as she used to when Silvia was a child. Silvia quiets, but she's not quite back together when the door opens and Pepa, all sunlight and grace and energy (like a puppy), walks in, slinging her keys and bag on the counter, toeing her sneakers off. Lola swears the room brightens when she enters.
"Hola Lola, Silvia." She starts to toss an adoring smile at Silvia, really notices the tableau. She sees the tear tracks on Silvia's face and her eyes narrow, even as Silvia looks away, embarrassed at being caught crying by her new lover. Lola shakes her head fractionally at Pepa.
Pepa is still clearly worried, but Pepa has always been smarter than she lets on, so instead she turns her back to them, cuts bread and cheese and apples and fills the silence with inconsequential chatter while Silvia composes herself. When Pepa turns around, she has a full platter to munch on and Silvia looks none the worse for wear. Lola gracefully slides back around the table, and Pepa just as gracefully drops beside Silvia. It's natural, unscripted, and Pepa meets Lola's eyes, and they both know Lola knows and Pepa knows she knows. Lola nods, just a little, and Pepa smiles. Her eyes are happy.
Lola doesn't miss the way her sister leans into Pepa. She doesn't miss how Silvia seems to solidify next to Pepa, become sure and comfortable.
Being in love suits her. Being in love with Pepa suits her in a way that being with Lucasthat being with Montoya, that being with any of the other menhad not.
She also doesn't miss the flex of Pepa's arm. She'd bet Cachi's that Pepa has put her hand on Silvia's knee. Lola fights a snicker. She remembers being that young and that in love.
After a moment, Silvia slings an arm around Pepa, curls into her. Pepa barely misses a beat.
" and then Gonzalo said "
They make idle talk for a few more minutes before Lola excuses herself, claiming tiredness. They all stand.
"Are you two staying the night? I can make up the spare bed." She notes with amusement that Silvia blushes at the implication but that Pepa is smirking widely. Pepa throws an arm around Silvia's shoulder, glances at Silvia, and they have a silent conversation as Silvia's arm again slides around Pepa.
(Lola smiles inside. That's the mark of a good marriage. The first time she and Paco did it, despite everything, she knew they were going to last.)
"No thanks, Lola," Silvia turns back to her. "We're going to go to Pepa's. But thanks for the offer."
Lola nods, smiles. "Feel free to stay until you're done eating," she tells Pepa, who has only finished three-quarters of her dinner. Pepa favors her with a pathetically grateful look, and both Silvia and Lola chuckle. Pepa eats like a starving dog and never gains any weight. Lola wishes she had that problem. "Lock the door on your way out and have a good night," she tells them, and heads to the back of the house.
Because she's the observant one, she turns back at the end of the hall. She can barely see into the kitchen through the darkness of the long hallway. But there's enough light to see Pepa and Silvia. They are pressed together, Silvia's arms looped around Pepa's waist. Pepa is cupping Silvia's face in her hands. She must like whatever she finds, because she gives Silvia a quick kiss on the forehead, drops her hands, and their fingers tangle together as they sit back down at the table.
Lola, happily humming, greatly enjoys her bath and her wine and her novel, and drifts off while reading. She sees another First Communion. This time, it's Sara and Lucas causing the scandal, the scamps, and taking First Communion is a little boy with Silvia's hair and Pepa's grin. Her godson.
She wakes up, prepares for bed. She takes a moment, though, tongue sticking out between her teeth, to consider and jot some dates down on a piece of paper before she settles under the covers.
Soon, when everyone knows about Pepa and Silvia and they get the baby itch, she'll start the pool. And because she's the observant one, she'll win.
She chuckles victoriously. She can feel her bank account swelling already.
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