DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters; I believe P & G or Telenex or someone besides me does. I am only writing this for fun and because TPTB have messed up the storyline.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Erin Bree for being my beta reader, and to my girl Krazy, who inspires me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Love is a Battlefield
Chapter 4 Everyday People (aka We Gotta Live Together) by Sly Stone
"Sweetie, I promise I'll be there when your plane arrives." She could hear the tremble in her oldest daughter's voice. How Olivia wished that she could be there with her, holding her tight. One of the hardest things she had ever had to do was to call Ava and tell her that her father had died. "I love you and I'll see you soon."
Hanging up the phone, she rubbed her temples in a vain attempt the get rid of a headache caused by too much alcohol and a night spent in the drunk tank. How did I let things get that far? She thought, and not for the first time. Damn, Natalia, are you ever coming back? I don't know how much longer I can keep it together. Her thoughts were interrupted by a light rap on the door. She opened the door only to be brought up short by the person standing on the other side.
"Yeah, I know what am I doin' here?" He asked as she motioned him inside.
She watched him nervously shove his hands in his front pockets and stare down at the floor. "Look, I'm not good at this apologizing stuff. But...uh I'm sorry that I went off on you at the wedding. It wasn't the time, ya know?"
Her raised eyebrow made him quickly amend his statement. "I mean not that there's really a good time to uh treat somebody like that. I was still kinda upset about stuff and "
"You took it out on me."
Nodding his head, he replied, "Yeah. I did. I mean I'm still trying to sort stuff out about you and my Ma." The last part was hard for him to say but, after what she had done for him the other night at the bar, well he supposed it was the least that he could do. "That's one of the reasons why I'm here. You said when I was ready to talk "
"And I meant that but right now isn't a good time." Olivia said, as she once again picked up the cordless phone. "I've got to find someone to watch Emma while I go to the airport to pick up Ava."
"Snap I forgot. She's coming in for Jeffery's memorial. He was a good guy. Stood up for me an everythin' even after what I did."
"He knew that was an accident, Rafe. You were hurting because of your dad."
"I'm glad I gotta chance to tell him thanks. And if I don't see Ava, will you tell her I said I'm sorry and, you know, if she wants to talk or something." He shrugged before looking back down.
"She'll appreciate that. Look, I'm sorry that I'm not able to talk right now but, as I've said, I've got to find someone to watch Emma before I can leave, so "
"I'll do it."
"Are you sure? You know she can be a handful." And that was putting it mildly. Although she loved her daughter, Olivia had to admit that sometimes she found the child tough to deal with, unlike Natalia, who seemed to always have the patience needed.
"Yeah, it's the least I could do after you helped Daisy, and me, out the other night. In fact"
"Uh, no need to thank me."
"But..." he tried again.
She cut him off with a wave of her hand. "No, really, let's not talk about it." The last thing Olivia wanted to do was to remember how she had almost cracked when she had seen a dark haired woman, similar in height and build, enter the bar and how, for a second, she had thought it was Natalia. Although thinking back, she should have known that her love wouldn't have worn such a tight dress. Natalia Rivera wore her sexuality understated but, make no mistake, it was there. Shaking her head slightly, she thought about the poor woman she had scared. No wonder the woman ran out the back door. She would have, too, if a half drunk wild-eyed woman had coming screaming after her.
Sensing that she was uncomfortable, Rafe didn't press the issue. Luckily for both of them, Emma chose that moment to burst into the room.
"Rafe!" Hearing his name screamed, he quickly turned around, only to almost be knocked down by Emma running into him. "You're here. Is Natalia with you?"
"Hey, Em. Nah, she's not back yet," he replied, as he dropped down to his hunches so that he'd be eye level with her. "She's sort of on a grownup time out."
Tilting her head to the right a bit, the little girl asked, "Was she bad?"
Laughing lightly he answered, "No. Grownups sometimes just need to go off by themselves and think about things. That's all. But she'll be back soon."
Before she could ask another question like how soon was soon, he asked his own. "So, munchkin, want to spend some time with your big bro while your mom goes and picks up your sister?"
Olivia had been watching the exchange, wondering how Emma would react to having Rafe stay with her, but any doubts were quickly squashed as her daughter started to jump up and down. "Cool! Can we watch the new Hannah Montana movie?"
"Uh maybe later. How about first we watch that movie about the pre-historic squirrel?" Rafe asked with a pleading look.
"Okay. But next time I get to pick. No questions asked, right?" Olivia tried not to laugh. Yes, she was definitely her daughter, making deals already at the ripe old age of nine.
Bending to plant a kiss on her daughter's head, Olivia said, "You two work it out." Pausing at the door she looked back, "Thanks. I should be back in about 2 hours."
Once her Mom was gone, Emma was all business. "Come one, Rafe. Let's watch the movie. Can we order room service?" She asked hopefully.
"Hey Em, can I ask you something?" Rafe asked as he sat on the bed.
"Why did you do that presentation that you did for Family Day? The one that you showed me before."
"This one?" She asked as she reached over and pulled it out of the desk drawer. At his nod she sat next to him and opened it.
"Well, our teacher told us to write about our families and why they were special. So, uh, I was gonna write about mommy and daddy, but daddy wasn't here. Then, I tried talking to grandfather, who just kept on saying that family was important, but he really didn't make much sense about why." Emma said.
"Yeah, I know what ya mean; I've had to talk to the old man a time or two myself, and he can be confusing."
She smiled and nodded her head before continuing, "Anyway, the next morning I was eating my breakfast in the kitchen and Natalia was making my lunch. Mommy told Natalia that she had already sent you your medicine so Natalia didn't have to worry about it."
"Well, silly, that's what a Mommy and Daddy do; take care of the kids and stuff. Only it was my Mommy and your Mommy. So..."
"I get it... two Mommies." And he had to admit; it made perfect sense.
"Yep. And that made my family special, 'cause most kids have a Mommy and a Daddy."
"Well... yeah, there are a lot of kids that have two parents, but some have one or maybe not any. Families come in all shapes and sizes."
"Uh huh, I know. Derek has only a Mommy and she says that he can't play with me anymore."
He could tell by the look on her face that she was upset. He wasn't quite sure if he should ask any more questions but then again maybe it would help if she could talk about it with someone closer to her age.
"Yo, why did she say that?"
"Cause she thinks that our family is weird. Mommy says it's just cause she's prej-- prej-u---"
"Yep, that's the word. I think it means that she doesn't like people that are sorta different from her."
Nodding his head, he agreed. "Yeah, Em you're gonna find that there are lots of people like that in the world. See, they can't understand things, like someone whose skin is a different color, or maybe talks differently. It makes them scared and they run away from that person." She was listening very intently, so he went on. "It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with being different. Some people have different families. And, everybody is unique. Take me, for instance; I can't help it that I'm so good looking."
"In your dreams." She laughed.
"Hey, the girls like it." He tickled her ribs. "Seriously, Em, don't let people like Derek's mom stop you from being the person you're meant to be or be ashamed of your family, okay?"
"Okay. Can we watch the movie now?" He knew that she was getting bored, but he needed to ask her one more thing.
"Sure, but can I ask you one more question?"
Sighing, she agreed. "When you showed me this before, you said that people knew that they loved each other and stuff. Why did you say that?"
"Cause, they're BFFs, silly."
"BFFs? I guess I'm not up on the lingo, cause I don't know what that means."
"Boys." She said as she rolled her eyes. "You don't know anything. BFF means Best Friends Forever." And with that, she pushed aside the presentation book and walked over to the TV and turned it on, leaving her brother alone with his thoughts.
Chapter 5 You've Got a Friend
Dang, it seemed that everywhere he went these days, she was there. He knew that Olivia had a right to be here; after all, his father thought of her as a close friend. It was just that he really wasn't in the mood to have a big discussion with her right now. He was still trying to sort things out.
"Hey, sorry I haven't been around, but things have been well a bit tense lately." Olivia began, as she kneeled in front of Gus's grave and placed flowers. "We just had a memorial service for Jeffrey. His plane crashed. He was out looking for Edmund, who everyone thought was dead, which is a story unto itself."
Sighing, she continued as she got up and brushed loose grass off her pants. "Then there's Natalia don't worry, she's not sick or anything. I mean, I guess she isn't, since I haven't heard from her in almost 2 weeks. I thought everything was going so well. She had said that she wanted to stop waiting to be with me because every time we waited it just seemed to make things worse. "
He decided that he really shouldn't be eavesdropping but, as he turned to go back down the path, he thought he heard her mention his name.
"Rafe oh, Gus we ended up hurting him the most, and we didn't mean to. He was so happy that he had found a job after being turned down for the Police Force. Did you know that? That he wanted to be a cop just like you?" she said, as she wiped away the tears now forming in her eyes.
"Anyway, Natalia had planned this picnic celebration for him. We were going to give him a few days to really get settled into his new routine and then tell him. I hadn't even told Ava or Emma. We both felt that Rafe needed to be told first. What we didn't know was that he had seen us earlier. No, not doing that I mean we haven't slept together." Waving her hands around, she said. "I know, hard to believe, right? But, she wanted to wait. And, can you believe it? Me, Olivia Freaking Spencer, was okay with waiting. That's how much I love her."
Crack! Well, now that he had stepped on a fallen branch she knew that he was there, so it was no use hiding.
Stopping a few feet in front of her, he said, "Sorry, I didn't mean to bother you." He shoved his hands in his front pockets, a sign that she was coming to realize was a nervous gesture of his. Sort of like when his mother twirled a strand of her hair around her finger.
"It's okay. I was through." With that, she started to walk away.
He stepped slightly in front of her. "Wait, can I ask you something'?" At her nod he continued. "Why did you push her to Frank?"
She guessed that they were going to have their long awaited talk, after all. "Because I knew that he could give her what she always wanted; the white picket fence, children, and he would make a great dad for you. With me, she'd get none of that. Instead, it would be whispers and stares."
"Yeah I guess I could kinda see that. I mean, we want the people that we care about to be happy, even if it's not with us." By the way he was staring at some unseen point, she guessed the last part wasn't directed at her.
"It's one of life's lessons." She supposed that they both had learned a lot of those in the past year or so.
"Uh I didn't do a good job uh apologizing to you the other day. I shouldn't have said some, well probably most, of the things that I did. It's just that this thing with you two kinda through me for a loop, ya know?"
"Believe or not, I do know." She answered. "Rafe, I know that my reputation is of a wild and crazy uh sexual woman. But this being in love with your mother was a first for me." She took his silence as a nod for her to continue.
"Oh, yeah, so much so that well, let's just say that I almost lived up to that vision that most people have of me. Luckily, I just ended up tipsy playing Guitar Hero with a couple of friends."
"Yo, you? Play Guitar Hero? No way." He was beginning to realize that there was a lot about her that he didn't know.
"Uh, yes way. I play a mean set of drums. Anytime you want to take me on, just let me know." She smiled.
"All right we'll have to have a drum off one day. Maybe me, you, and Emma can form a band or something." He laughed. This light repartee between them reminded her of the banter that she often shared with Natalia.
"Speaking of Emma," she said, as she glanced at her watch. "I gotta get back to the Beacon and help her pack. She's going back to San Francisco with Ava. I think it'll be good for the two of them to spend some time together."
Nodding his head, he agreed. "Yeah, I know that the munchkin loves her big sis. And, it'll give Ava something else to focus on."
Wow, she thought, he is becoming quite the insightful young man. "I thought so, too." She said as she smiled slightly. "Rafe take care." And with a light touch on his arm, she walked away.
"Jeez...could things get any weirder? Not only does she have your heart but...I'm kinda beginning to see what my Ma sees in her. She's one feisty chick. But, with a soft side, too."
Sitting down next to his father's grave, he gave a big sigh before continuing. "I'm still not sure 'bout the whole thing. But thinking back...I haven't seen Ma this happy in a long time. Maybe that's part of it...I came back and she was happy... life went on without me. Stupid, huh? Yeah... I know; I'm a man now and I should start thinking like one. Olivia already told me that...great minds and all that. Speaking of her, I think Olivia needs a little sign or something that everything is going to be okay." And, he thought, so do I.
"So, if you have any pull up there, can you use it?" After asking the question, he stood. "Sorry this visit was so quick, but I gotta stop by the house and check on things. I promise next time I'll stay longer. I miss you, and thanks for listening." With that, he strode away.
The drive to the Farmhouse was long. He had decided not to go straight to Frank's. He knew that his mentor would probably be working late on Edmund's murder, the missing diamonds, or whatever else was happening in Springfield these days. For a small town, it sure had a lot of drama. He had thought that leaving Chi-Town and coming to the burbs would mean fewer hassles but, as the last few years had shown, that was not the case. Plus, he needed to check on things while his mom was gone.
Walking into the kitchen, he really looked around and noticed, for the first time, how homey it felt. On the fridge he saw a Spelling Test with a huge red "A" on it, showing that his little sister was doing well in school. Curtains that he was sure his mother had made adorned the window over the sink. He could picture her at the stove, with Emma at the table doing her homework, and Olivia walking through the door after a full day at the Beacon. They would all be smiles; they would be happy. He vowed that if this was truly what his mother wanted, Rafe would make sure that she would have it again.
Chapter 6 I Want You Back
"Frank, I really need to talk to you."
"Natalia, I'm glad that you're back but a lot has happened since you were gone and I'm pretty swamped right now." He said absently as he shifted through papers on his desk.
"You need to make the time." He could hear the steel in her voice. "This can't wait. I've waited too long and I fear that I've ended up hurting people...again."
"Okay. Look I have some time late this afternoon say around 4:00 pm?"
"That's good." Sighing she said, "It'll give me time to talk to Olivia."
"Yeah... about that I know I probably don't have any right to give you advice..." Taking a deep breath he went on, "But if I were you I'd take it slow with her. She's really had a hard time with you being away."
"Rafe briefly told me some of what's been going on with her so your advice is warranted. I'll see you later, Frank." With that she ended the call and began her drive into town to look for the woman she loved.
Funny how she always ended up back here where it all really began. Standing here in this very spot only a few months ago she had finally said it; she loved Natalia. Now, it was finally hitting her that the women she loved could probably care less.
It had been 20 days, 2 hours, and about 2 minutes since the person she loved had simply left without a word as to why. And in that time she had started to die a little each day. However, after her night spent among Springfield's "elite" in the drunk tank at the City Jail, Olivia had decided that was going to change. She had made up her mind; she was through waiting. In fact, she had a date that very night with one very hot ex-husband, Josh "Sexy as Hell" Lewis and, if she played her cards right, there might be others, too. At 42, she still had a rather nice body, if the looks she had gotten from Josh's construction crew were any indication. It was obvious that Natalia didn't really want her, so why not go for it.
Ring! "Olivia Spencer."
"Ms. Spencer? It's me, Greg."
Sighing and pinching her nose, she asked, "Yes, Greg. Is there a problem?" He was no Natalia, that's for sure. She had really tried to give him a chance at Nat's old assistant job, but it wasn't working out. For one thing, he had a hard time making decisions so he was always having to call her.
"I'm I'm not sure. You had a rather strange phone call from Rafe Rivera. "
"Natalia's son? Greg, what did he say?"
"Oh, right uh, that she's back. That's all he said. Do you understand--"
She knew it was rude to she just cut him off by hanging up the phone; however, Olivia needed to get her bearings, and talking to him certainly wasn't going to help.
"Olivia!" Natalia knew that she would find her here. This gazebo was part of the gift Gus had given her when he had had the park renamed for Olivia when he found out how sick she was. It was the place where she had told Olivia that she loved her. And, it was also where she had told Olivia that she was tired of waiting for them to be together. That the woman she loved was here now hopefully meant that they had a chance. And she would take it, no matter how small.
"Jeez," Olivia began, as she turned around. "If I knew it would be that easy I would have just mentioned your name earlier." Her breath caught in her throat as she spied the woman who still held a part of her heart walking towards her. She had to catch herself from running into the dark haired woman's arms. Steady, Olivia. Don't forget she left you alone. "So, you're back."
"Yes, and I missed you."
"Look, what do you want? Cause I sort of have a full day. Meeting with the Assistant DA, running the Beacon " She counted on her fingers not daring to look up.
"Olivia, please look at me. Please "
Olivia hated that Natalia could still get to her but, if she heard her out, maybe then that would be the end. She'd be able to walk away. "You've got 10 minutes. I promised Ava that I'd give you that. She was here for Jeffrey's memorial service. Which you could have attended, but then no one knew how to get a hold of you."
Sneering, Olivia cut her off, "Father Ray? Yep, I'm sure he's the same person that told you to go in the first place, right? Well, see, I tried talking to him when you first left and, as usual, he was his same judgmental self and wouldn't tell me where you were. But then, you didn't want to be found, did you?"
"It's not that simple. I felt such pressure "
"No! Don't you dare try and put this on me. I told you that I was willing to wait. You're the one who decided that you didn't want to wait any longer." Olivia was now only inches from her. If Natalia leaned up slightly, she could catch those pouty lips that she longed to feel again. But she couldn't do that, at least not yet. She had to try and make her understand why she left before they could continue forward.
"Because I would have had to tell you everything. You know how hard it is for me to hold things back from you and I I just couldn't deal with this right then." With that, Natalia lowered the purse she had been clutching to her belly and placed Olivia's hand in its place.
"Does he know?" Green eyes gazed into brown ones.
"No, I needed to see you first, because I've hurt you the most. I realized that soon after I left, that you'd be the most affected. That's why I sent you the letter."
"You... sent me a letter? Really? Cause I didn't get it. All I got was some short message from Blake about you not coming to the Bar-B-Que and how you didn't want to talk or see me."
"That's not what I said!" Natalia cried. "I told her to tell you that I couldn't talk to you right then. Not that I didn't want to talk to you."
"Well, maybe if you had left me a note, or maybe even a voicemail, then I would have definitely known that." Olivia said, pulling her hand away and stepping back.
"There wasn't time. The bus for the retreat was leaving in 15 minutes. I barely made it. And once you're there, they won't let you use your cell phone, not that the coverage is good way out there anyway." Moving closer Natalia once again took her hand. "I'm so, so sorry, and I plan on doing everything I can to make it up to you. I know you just can't forgive me, that I have to win back your trust, and I plan on doing just that."
"How?" she asked softly. "You're going to be pretty busy the next few months."
"Don't forget; I have experience doing this. So I know that I can do it now, especially since hopefully I'll have some help. Olivia I want--"
"Yep, I'm sure Frankie will love being there with you and Rafe." Sighing, Olivia continued, "You should have listened to me months ago, and married him. He's able to give you everything that you've ever wanted."
Cupping her hand to Olivia's cheek, she replied, "Not everything; not passion." Before the other woman could respond, Natalia captured her lips with her own. God, they were so soft. Softer than she remembered. The body pressed up against her felt firm yet soft at the same time, if that was possible. Slowly she used her tongue to caress Olivia's bottom lip before taking it into her mouth and gently sucking on it. The older woman moaned and, as her mouth slightly opened, Natalia eased her tongue inside.
Oh my god. She had been married five times, and had had more lovers than she could count on two hands, but Olivia swore that no one had kissed her so deeply and meaningfully as the petite woman now in her arms. She could have gone on forever kissing but, like their last kiss, Natalia pulled away first. However, unlike then, it was she who asked the question, "Why did you do that?"
"Kiss you?" Taking her fingertip and tracing the full lips, she answered her own question, "Because I'm not scared anymore." Looking at her watch, she blew out a frustrating breath. "And I really want to talk to you some more about everything, but I have to go. Although I talked to him on the phone, I haven't even seen Rafe. Know this, Olivia, I love you."
And just like that, she was gone. Leaving a very bewildered Olivia looking after her.
"Was that Natalia I just saw leaving?" Doris asked walking up the steps of the gazebo. "Olivia? Are you all right?"
"Yes... and no." Her friend said softly, as she sank down onto the bench.
Sitting down next to the confused looking woman, Doris gently prodded. "Yes, it was Natalia?" At Liv's nod, she continued, "But you're not okay?"
Shaking her head Olivia answered, "She kissed me."
"Okay... and the problem with that is...?"
Turning swiftly towards her, Olivia hissed, "She fucking just waltzed back into town after three weeks, kisses me, and says that she now knows what she wants!" Now that was more like the "take no shit" woman that she knew: eyes blazing, nostrils flaring.
Turning swiftly towards her, Olivia hissed, "She fucking just waltzed back into town after three weeks, kisses me, and says that she now knows what she wants!" Now that was more like the "take no shit" woman that she knew: eyes blazing, nostrils flaring.
"Well, I take it she wants you... so, I still don't see the problem." And she didn't. Doris would die to have someone like Natalia tell her that she wanted her.
"Doris, she left me! I didn't know where she was or if she was okay!" The older woman was up and pacing. Throwing up her hands, she said, "Oh, and you want a good laugh? To top it off, she's pregnant."
"Did I hear you right?"
"Yep. Care to guess who baby daddy is?" Olivia sneered.
"I see." Was all that Doris answered.
"You see what?"
Taking a deep breath, Doris reached up and pulled Olivia down next to her. "I know you pretty well, Olivia, and the way I see it, you're once again comparing yourself to Frank Cooper and, in your mind, you're coming up short."
Sighing, Olivia put her head in her hands and sobbed out, "He's given her something that I never could...a child."
Gently patting her friend's back, she reminded her, "But she came back for you...not for him. Don't forget that."
"He'll always be a part of our lives now... I'm not sure I can live with that."
"So, let me see if I've gotten this right? You can't live without her, but you also can't live with her if she has Frank's baby? Is that what you're saying?"
"I just don't know... there was already so much to deal with before she left but, at least then I thought we had a plan: no more waiting, and we were going to tell everyone be damned."
Smiling slightly, Doris said, "Honey, if she kissed you out here in public, then I think she's saying that she wants to go with the game plan."
"Yeah, but the game has changed a bit." Sitting up straight, Olivia continued, "I'm moving on."
"Uh, yeah, and I'm straight."
"No, I'm serious. Doris, I waited for her to call me, text me, something, but I never heard from her. Although she claims that she sent me a letter."
"And I'm sure she did. The Natalia that I've come to know would never have just left and not contacted you or her son."
That's true, Olivia thought, although she didn't voice her feelings. One of the first things to draw them so close together was the love of their children. But there was no denying that once again someone she had loved had deserted her, and this time it had almost broke her. She wasn't sure that she could open up her heart again.
"The bottom line is I'm still not sure that I can trust her. And, until I do, I need to stay away from her."
Chapter 7 - Having My Baby ;-)
"Always on time." Natalia muttered as she saw Frank's car pull up in her driveway. She was really hoping that for once he'd be late, so she'd have a few moments to pull herself together. The kiss with Olivia had rattled her, and her body had yet to settle down. She had almost called Frank to cancel, but thought better of it. Placing a slight smile on her face, she opened the front door. "Hey, Frank."
The shock was evident on his face. "Well, I guess I know one of the reasons you went away." She nodded and led him into the living room, sitting on one end of the couch while he sat on the other.
Looking in his eyes, she saw confusion rather than anger. "I want you to know that I was always going to tell you. I... just needed some time to think about and to deal with a lot of things." Holding up her hand to forestall him asking the other question she figured was most on his mind, she answered it for him. "Yes, I want Olivia to be a part of this child's life. I know that will be hard, but some way we'll all have to make it--."
"Okay." He said softly.
"That's it?" Could it really be that simple? She thought that he'd protest Olivia's involvement in their lives. The look on her face must have conveyed her disbelief, as Frank gave her a little laugh.
"I've had a lot of time to think while you were gone." Frank stood up and began pacing. "And although I think that eventually we could have had a good life together, I know now that deep down we didn't love each other enough, to have a great life. Not how you love Olivia and, if I'm really honest with myself, how part of me still loves Eleni."
She had no idea that he was still pining for his former wife. They had really never talked about why his marriage had ended. In contrast, she knew why every one of Olivia's had failed. The lack of communication between Frank and herself was one more thing that cemented, at least for her, the idea that their marriage never would have worked. Well, at least now, maybe as friends, they could talk about it. "Did you ever tell her that? That you still loved her?"
"No." Shaking his head, he went on. "You don't understand. See, I still love the old Eleni. The wife who cooks dinner, makes your lunch, sits by your side at the Policeman's Ball, and who at the very least works from home. Not the big time LA business woman that travels, whom you hear from once in a blue moon."
Smiling a sad smile Natalia nodded. "I reminded you of the Eleni that you fell in love with..."
Coming to sit beside her, he took her hand. "Yes, but trust me when I say that your cookies were much better." With that, he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before rising.
"Thank you, Natalia, for the gift that you're giving me. Whatever you and the baby need... I'm here for you. And, as for Olivia... well, she and I have made our peace. I'm sure she'll tell you about it."
"I'm sure she will." She got up to walk him to the door. "If she ever speaks to me again."
Turning back, Frank said, "Give her time. Seeing you again probably just gave her a bit of a shock."
"You're probably right. Oh, and Frank, I've scheduled a sonogram for Friday at 3:00 pm, if you want to be there." She saw him hesitate, most likely waiting to see if she was going to mention whether or not he could expect Olivia to join them. She gave him credit; he was trying.
"Of course, I'll be there." And with that, she was left with her own thoughts.
"Yo, Ma? ¿Está aquí?" Rafe hollered, as he started up the stairs in search of his mother.
"Rafe! Hijo, I'm so glad to see you." Natalia said as her son rushed into her arms. "Easy, Sweetie, you're going to crush me."
"Sorry, Ma, but it's just that I've missed you and-- Whoa!!! Are you pregnant?"
It was hard not to laugh at the look on her son's face but, if they were to have a serious discussion, she had to keep a straight face. "Yes, I am."
"Aww... man, if she didn't flip before, Olivia's gonna do it now."
"Okay, just what does that mean? When I called you to tell you that I was on my way back, you said something about how you thought that Olivia was close to 'losing it,' if she hadn't already."
Guiding his mother down the stairs, Rafe began, "Well she's been drinkin' a lot, for one thing. Then, she got arrested. Although I think part of that was my fault."
"Rafael Rivera, just whatwhat did you do??" He hadn't seen her this mad in a long time.
"Ma, calm down. I didn't do anything I mean not really. It's just that I was sort of some place that I shouldn't been, and Olivia saw me and she uh, she helped me out."
"Explain. Now." Natalia said sternly, as she sat on the couch.
Sighing he began. "Ashlee got a call from Daisy. She was drunk and in The Blue Dolphin."
"Of all the places to be " Natalia murmured.
"I know. Anyway, Olivia was there and, Ma, she handcuffed herself to the bar rail and started to shout 'Where is she?' and 'I know you know where she is'. Stuff like that."
"She? She who?"
Sitting next to his mother, he leaned closer and said, "You. I think she was referring to you." At his mother's confused expression, he went on. "See, at first I thought she was just kidding, but at one point I looked at her, right into her eyes, and I think at that point she was dead serious. Like maybe, for a brief moment, she lost it. Ya know what I mean?"
Nodding mutely, his mother got up and walked to the picture window, which looked out over the bench where she and Olivia sat almost every day. "Yes, I know how it is to lose yourself. It's one of the reasons I left. I had forgotten who I was... lost some of who I was... that's why finding out I was pregnant hit me so hard. Instead of a 36 year old woman, I was suddenly a frighten teenager again."
"I just wish you would have told me that, instead of just leaving."
"Everything just hit at once... the baby... facing you after the way I behaved when Daisy was pregnant having to tell Olivia that, once again, we'd have to wait for there to be an us. It was just too much."
"So... you don't want to be with her?" Rafe asked, with a confused look on his face.
"Oh, no, Rafe, I love Olivia, and I plan on being with her. It's just that, at the time, so many emotions were bombarding me that I couldn't see a way that everything would work out."
"But you can now?" If she didn't know better, she would have thought that he sounded hopeful.
"Yes. I know what I want. I want my family back. A big part of that is proving to Olivia that she can trust me again." Looking directly into her son's eyes, she continued. "And, I want you to be a part of that family. I know that may be a bit weird, but I would like for you to try."
"Ma, I want you to be happy, and I realize that Frank isn't the one that can do that. It was... hard... at first when I came back and saw you so happy with Olivia, but I think I get it now."
"You do?" Now it was her turn to be perplexed.
"Yeah, Gus will always be a part of you. I mean, he was your first love. But, at the same time, you can love someone else and be happy. Plus, Olivia and I have talked a bit, and she's not as bad as I thought."
Smiling Natalia cupped his chin, "You're definitely not a boy anymore. You've grown up."
"Well, hopefully, you'll still make this grownup his favorite peanut butter and banana sandwiches?" He asked hopefully.
"Si, mi amour." Getting up from the couch, she started towards the kitchen before turning back towards her son. "Rafe?"
"Yeah, Ma?" He stood up from the couch and walked towards her.
"I love you and I want you to know that I'm so sorry, Rafe, for leaving like I did. However, I hope you know that if Frank, and, Olivia, wouldn't have been here looking out for you, I never would have left. Although," She hastened to add, "I promise, I won't do anything like that again. Okay?"
At the nod of his head, she said one more thing. "And, I hope that you'll consider moving back here at some point."
"Let's take it one step at a time, okay?" He asked, before placing his arm around his mother's shoulders and walking with her into the kitchen.
Translations - Esta aqui? = Are you here?; Si = Yes; mi amour = my love; hijo = son
Chapter 8 - I Will Be Your Hero
Olivia knew that she needed to get lunch, but today was one of those days where she'd be lucky if she left the Beacon by dinner time. At least she didn't have to worry about Emma, since her daughter was still in San Francisco.
Although Olivia missed the high-spirited little girl, she was relieved that, with the Natalia now back, Emma wasn't in Springfield. Her daughter had taken her other Mommy's leaving hard. Plus, she'd now have to try and explain about the baby, and how they would never be a family again.
A light tapping at her office door pulled her from her thoughts. "Yes?"
"I don't think I got my full 10 minutes the other day." Natalia announced as she strolled into Olivia's office closing the door behind her.
"You've got nerve; I'll say that for you."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you used to like me a bit more gutsy." By the look on Olivia's face, she knew that she was remembering the same thing; when Natalia pulled the other woman out of her depression by refusing to take no for an answer. At one point Olivia had declared her a freaking super hero.
"A lot has happened since then."
"True. Look, I know you're pressed for time and so am I, since I only have 30 minutes today for lunch. Speaking of which, I have extra sandwiches if you want one." Reaching into the canvas bag hanging from her shoulder, she pulled out a cellophane wrapped sandwich and handed it to Olivia before sitting down.
Starving, Olivia unwrapped the lunch. "I should have known it would be a peanut butter and banana sandwich." Liv shook her head slightly before biting into it.
"Yeah, I made some for Rafe yesterday and I don't know... since then I've sort of been 'craving' them." She shrugged one shoulder before starting to eat her sandwich.
"So... how is the little one?" Olivia asked, using her chin to indicate the slightly swollen belly of the dark-haired beauty across from her. "Everything okay?"
Nodding Natalia answered, "I think so. I've got my first sonogram Friday afternoon." She hoped that Olivia would ask when, but all she did was keep eating her sandwich, which gave Natalia a chance to really look at the slightly older woman.
It was obvious that she hadn't been sleeping well. Dark circles lay under emerald green eyes. And...she just looked... beat. She also noticed something else. "Uh... wait a minute."
Instead of answering, Natalia stood and leaned over and very slowly started to wipe a bit of banana/peanut butter combo from Olivia's bottom lip. It wasn't lost on either woman that just a couple of months ago Olivia had done something similar, the last time she and Natalia had made sandwiches together. With a wicked gleam in her eye, Natalia stopped using her thumb and instead used her tongue to flick off the tiny bit remaining on the corner of the auburn-haired woman's mouth.
Reacting from the sudden contact, Olivia jumped up, saying, "I really have a lot of work to do, so if you could just get to the point."
"Fine. I love you, I want you, and I plan on winning you back." Holding up one finger, she forestalled any comments. "And...even if the latter doesn't happen...I am not now, nor ever, marrying Frank. Yes, he'll be a part of this child's life. I don't think it's right to deny him that."
"But..." Natalia continued as she walked around the desk and took Olivia's hand and held it to her chest. "It's you I want to wake up with every morning. You I want to raise this baby with. You I want to sit next to, and hold hands with, when he or she gives their 'Family Day' presentation in a few years. Not Frank...not anyone else."
"I really want to believe that." Olivia said softly.
"Then I'll just continue to prove it to you. I'd like to invite you to dinner so we can talk some more."
"Ahem... I'm not sure about my schedule...uh...this week." Olivia pulled her hand out of the other woman's and, turning her back, started to look up something on her laptop.
Sensing that she had pushed Olivia as far as she could today, Natalia picked up her purse and started for the door. "That's okay, Liv. I'll check back with you." With her hand on the door knob, she turned back, dimples showing, and said, "Because I can wait for as long as it takes."
After hearing the door close, Olivia cried, "Fuck!" before turning around and scattering the papers across her desk. It was then that she saw it. A pink envelope sat on her desk, her name written on it in Natalia's handwriting.
Sitting back in her chair, she slowly opened it and pulled out a slightly scented greeting card, upon the front of which was a watercolor of a slightly imperfect red rose. Inside was printed: Like this flower, I am not perfect. But as in its imperfection it conveys love, I convey my love to you. Natalia had added at the bottom: Olivia, Sorry doesn't begin to excuse what I did. However, it's a beginning. Hopefully, one that we can build on. Know that I love you with all that I am and that I will always be here for you...for us. Love, Natalia
Trying to hold back the tears that continued to flow at the romantic gesture, Olivia wondered out loud, "What the hell do I do now?
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