DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light belongs to P&G, Telexnet, and CBS. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Prompt courtesy of theholyinnocent. Half of it anyway, I just couldn't bring myself to subject Keats to this rather odd piece of fluff. This fic got out of hand, very out of hand. Thanks to the wonderfully talented Peanuts for the beta! Dedicated to cabenson and finished only because it's her birthday.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Monkey Business
By Ann


The sounds of low-pitched voices engaged in conversation, silverware banging against nearly empty plates, and spoons occasionally clinking against the inside of cups as diners vigorously stirred their coffee went unnoticed by two women who sat across from each other in a corner booth of Company. One of light hair and complexion and the other dark headed with olive skin tuned out the annoying noises and stayed totally focused on their conversation and each other.

"Sock monkeys?" Doris Wolfe asked, her tone a perfect mix of intrigue and amusement. Green eyes narrowed slightly, creasing the skin between her eyebrows into a tiny wrinkle, as she slid the creamer across the table for Natalia to finish doctoring her coffee. "Where'd that come from?"

Natalia sighed heavily and began to stir the thick, white liquid into her black coffee. She watched distractedly as the two colors swirled separately and then slowly came together as one, mixing evenly until there was no sign that there'd ever been two completely different substances in her cup. Opposites blending into one. Just like…

"Natalia?" Doris prodded gently but firmly. She didn't want to rush the younger woman, but with Olivia having been delayed in joining them for breakfast, she didn't want to chance that Olivia might wrap up her meeting early and spoil Doris's opportunity to gain some potential blackmail material against her friend. Olivia already had a sizable lead in that department as far as Doris was concerned, but she figured she may as well try anyway.

"Huh?" Natalia replied, her dark eyes reluctantly shifting from her now tan-colored coffee to light on Doris's interested expression. "Oh, sorry," she said, before readying to answer the resident mayor's question. "It was that stupid Super Bowl commercial's fault. The one with the sock monkey and his friends."

Doris frowned; she remembered that ad. "You mean the car one? With the stuffed toys gallivanting across the country? I liked it." She smiled in memory of the sock monkey riding a mechanical bull, performing jet ski acrobats, making snow angels, and having a 'Mom' tattoo stitched on its arm. The sock monkey had definitely been the star of the group.

"I did, too," Natalie said with a slight nod of her head. "But that was before Olivia became obsessed with sock monkeys."

"Obsessed?" Doris raised her voice in mock concern, a devilish grin belying any worry she may have actually had in regards to Olivia's obsession, however unhealthy it might turn out to be. "How so?" She eased an elbow onto the edge of the table and leaned in closer. This definitely had blackmail potential.

"I don't even know where to begin," Natalia replied with another sigh, this one even heavier than before. Olivia had been like a woman possessed, and Natalia was certain her lover now owned every single item known to man - and monkey, too, for that matter - that had anything to do with the stuffed, sock-sewn primates.

Doris reached across the table and gently grasped Natalia's hand. "Just start at the beginning." She squeezed the younger woman's hand and then let go, hoping the comforting gesture would be enough to push Natalia along.

"Well, I guess it all started with the pajamas Olivia ordered: boxers and a tank top, both decorated with little sock monkeys. I thought they were cute, too… at first," Natalia explained, her memory of the first time she'd seen Olivia decked out in the cute pajamas pleasant, warm even, but that hadn't lasted long.

"At first?" Doris asked pointedly, beginning to wonder if she'd have to prod Natalia through the entire conversation. She glanced at her watch and worried that Natalia wouldn't get to the juicy parts before Olivia showed up.

"Yeah, well," Natalia said, her cheeks turning a light shade of pink as she once again found the color of her coffee fascinating. "She didn't want to take them off."

'Okay,' thought Doris, 'maybe this obsession thing really was serious. If Olivia didn't want to get out of her pajamas, then she'd stop going to work. In fact, she'd stop wanting to get out of the house altogether. This was serious.'

Doris's expression changed to one of true concern and she reached out to comfort Natalia, but she stopped her motion in mid-thought. "Wait a minute. Olivia hasn't missed a day of work in… well, forever. Her wardrobe hasn't exactly included sock monkeys, either."

"Other than her sock monkey briefs, you mean," Natalia muttered softly. "She bought seven pairs of those things and never leaves home without them." And she looked damned sexy in them, too, but Natalia kept that tidbit to herself, not even telling Olivia. No sense feeding an obsession that was already completely out of control.

"American Express would be so proud," Doris replied unthinkingly and cringed right along with Natalia. Now wasn't the time for bad puns or unintended distractions. "Okay," she said, hoping to steer the conversation back to Olivia and her sock monkey obsession. "So, how did you get her to take off her pajamas and go to work?"

Natalia looked momentarily confused but rebounded quickly. "Oh, I didn't mean that Olivia didn't want to ever get out of her pajamas. I meant that she… um, she… well, she didn't want to take them off for…" Natalia's voice trailed off and her hand flitted nervously back and forth between the two of them. "Er, you know."

Doris stared at the younger woman for several long seconds until understanding finally dawned. Her face lit up. "Oh, you mean sex." Her 'cat that ate the canary' expression fell just as quickly as it had formed when she put the rest of the puzzle together. "You haven't had sex since the Super Bowl?!?" Doris couldn't have put more volume in her whispered tone if she'd tried.

"What?" Natalia glanced around Company in pure mortification that someone may have overheard Doris's accusation. "No!" Her attempt at a whisper spoke louder volumes than Doris's had.

"Then what?" Doris asked in complete and utter confusion. Getting blackmail material really shouldn't take this much effort.

"Olivia and I have sex all the time, Doris, but…" she paused to take a deep breath and to glance around to make sure no one was listening. She lowered her voice just in case. "At night, ever since Olivia got her sock monkey pajamas, she keeps them on when we make love." Natalia's cheeks were so flushed that anyone who noticed would've sworn the young woman had a raging fever.

Doris's face was flushed, too, only hers was due solely to the very large and highly detailed image Natalia had just planted in her head. All thoughts of blackmail had been replaced with various methods Natalia might have used to circumvent the rather interesting obstacle Olivia had placed in their bed. A familiar voice distracted her, however, before she could formulate the more creative of Natalia's possible strategies.

"Hey, sorry I'm late. I really hate last second board meetings and I do mean 'bored'," Olivia apologized as she breezed into the room and the uncomfortable lull in conversation. Sliding into Natalia's side of the booth, she kissed her lover on the cheek and sighed tiredly. "Think it's too early for a drink?"

Natalia quickly reached for her spoon and began to stir her already blended coffee, while Doris fiddled with her napkin. Neither woman was ready to make eye contact with a completely clothed Olivia.

Ever observant, Olivia immediately realized that she'd just interrupted a conversation in which she'd been the main topic and, judging from the pink cheeks and beads of perspiration lining the upper lips of both women, it must have been a doozy. "What? Is something wrong with my clothes?" She pretended to search her black linen jacket, emerald green silk shirt, and black linen pants, knowing full well that her wardrobe was perfectly matched and looked to be tailored especially for her.

Natalia nervously jerked her spoon from her cup and sent droplets of coffee flying toward Doris, who'd looked up just in time to receive a single drop on the end of her nose, another on her right cheek, and the rest on her white blouse. Olivia burst out laughing.

"Bwahahaha," Olivia stopped long enough to take a breath. "Nice shot, hun." She eased into light chuckles. "So, what were you two talking about before I arrived?"

"Your monkeys," Natalia said honestly, shoving a spare napkin across the table.

"The weather," Doris lied in perfect harmony and reached for Natalia's offering, busying herself by daubing her shirt with the paper napkin.

Olivia laughed again. A teasing glint in her eye had both women holding their respective breaths. "What's so interesting about my monkey?" Olivia asked innocently but grinned brashly. The morning was definitely looking up.

"Olivia!" Natalia admonished her lover, although it had only been a few weeks earlier that she'd learned of the slang meaning and, as expected, it had come courtesy of Olivia's sock monkeys. Natalia would never make the mistake of referring to any member of the monkey family, genus, or species in singular terms again.

"What? You said…" Olivia began, rather weakly, to defend herself, but Natalia cut her off in an attempt to put an end to the current topic of conversation before it could get out of hand.

"No, I didn't, and we're not talking about… about that." Natalia's flitting hand motion was back. "We were talking about your obsession with buying so many items with a sock monkey theme."

Doris used the shift in topic to regroup, and even though the shift was actually more in the direction of the very thoughts she was trying to drive away, she sat up in her chair and refocused on her original goal. "I hear you really like your new pajamas," she said with a smirk. This 'obsession intervention' Natalia had suggested when she'd asked Doris to join the two of them for breakfast was the perfect excuse to toss a few barbs at Olivia. She should have known that Olivia wouldn't be fazed in the least by Doris's attempts to fluster her friend.

"Oh, yeah, they're great," Olivia replied, a smug grin planted firmly on her face. She followed up with a saucy wink directed at her lover. "I wake up with a big smile on my face each and every morning." She purposely failed to mention that she'd awakened that way every morning since she and Natalia had started sleeping together. The pajamas really had nothing to do with it.

A penciled eyebrow rose up high on Doris's forehead. "Hmm, maybe I should look into getting a pair then."

"Doris, you're supposed to be helping," Natalia groaned unhappily and buried her face in her hands. This wasn't turning out at all how she'd imagined it in her head. "I don't think I can handle two of you." Olivia barked out a laugh, Doris grinned wolfishly and, after only a nanosecond's delay, Natalia caught on. Hands left pink cheeks that were quickly turning a deep scarlet. "Wait! That's not what I meant!"

Olivia reached over and took her lover's hand. "We know, sweetie. It was just too good to pass up." She ran her thumb along the back of Natalia's hand. "And I promise not to buy anything else that has a sock monkey theme." It would be an easy promise to keep, too, since she already owned all the sock monkey memorabilia ever made or, at least, all that she'd been able to find on the internet.

"Really, Olivia? You promise?" Natalia forgot about her innocent - but purposely misconstrued by her table-mates - remark. Had her intervention attempt actually worked?

"Yes," Olivia said with complete sincerity. "And to prove it, I won't wear my sock monkey pjs tonight." She smiled sweetly, too sweetly in Natalia's estimation. The younger woman narrowed her eyes and just stared at her lover.

Doris sat back and watched interestedly. It seemed that both her friends had forgotten she was there. Maybe she could learn something that might help her in her own relationships. If not, it should still prove to be quite entertaining.

"Or your sock monkey briefs, either?" Natalia said with a tilt of her head. The negotiations had officially begun.

Olivia continued to smile. "Nope."

"Or your sock monkey socks?" Natalia released her lover's hand, crossed her arms over her chest, and lifted an eyebrow in question. There was no way Olivia could suddenly go cold turkey, not with the way she'd been so completely and totally obsessed.

"No, not even them," Olivia replied with a firm shake of her head. Her smile, however, seemed to widen, and Natalia racked her brain to try to recall any other article of clothing Olivia had purchased.

"That new workout bra?" She settled on the last item Olivia had received in the mail.

Olivia's smile faded for a moment, but she gamely stuck to her guns. "Nope. In fact…" she paused dramatically, as if she were contemplating the words she'd already formulated. Natalia leaned in closer and Doris stared across the table unseeingly, her thoughts instead centered on the very real possibility that two pair of big red monkey lips had been strategically placed in the center of each cup of a sports bra. Olivia really was obsessed.

"I don't think I'll wear anything to bed," Olivia finally said in a low, sexy voice, a voice she usually reserved for the bedroom. She watched with a great sense of pride and pleasure as Natalia appeared to practically melt on the spot. That look – the one Natalia was giving her now – was meant for her and her alone.

"Nothing?" Natalia's voice cracked and she worked to clear her throat. "No clothes at all?"

Olivia very slowly and very thoroughly swept her tongue across her upper lip before replying, "I think it's best if I go all the way, don't you?"

Natalia swallowed hard and breathing suddenly became a chore. Doris seemed to be suffering from the same malady as Natalia, but she managed to force air into her lungs and kept her focus on the couple.

"Um, yeah, that sounds good to me," Natalia stuttered out her answer. Going all the way sounded really good to her.

"You know," Olivia said as she eased out of the booth and pushed to her feet. "Maybe we should try a dress rehearsal now." She held out her hand to her lover in invitation. "Without the dressing bit, of course."

Natalia reached for Olivia's hand but hesitated in taking hold at the last second. "But what about breakfast? I asked Doris to join us." With Olivia's sudden willingness to immediately begin work on 'curing' her sock monkey obsession, Natalia had almost forgotten about inviting Doris to help intervene in forcing Olivia to admit that she had a problem in the first place.

"I'm sure Doris wouldn't mind taking a rain check, right Doris?" Olivia shot a wink at the mayor. "I'll even throw in a homemade dinner for you and a date. Natalia's been wanting to try out a couple of new recipes."

Doris opened her mouth to protest an early end to this rare opportunity to razz Olivia, but her watering taste buds dissolved her complaint before it could fully form. Natalia's cooking was just too good to pass up and besides, in a much more private setting, Doris could pick up the topic of conversation again without fear of interruption.

"Sounds good to me," Doris replied with a slight nod. "I can check on your progress then, too, Olivia," she added with a smug grin. She couldn't resist getting in a little dig at Olivia's expense.

Natalia glanced over at Doris. "I feel bad about leaving. We didn't even get the chance to order breakfast."

"Oh, that's okay. I usually only have coffee," Doris said with a smile. "I'd much rather have one of your home-cooked meals."

"It's settled then," Olivia said, again reaching for Natalia's hand. "Hey hun, why don't you go on ahead? I'll pick up the tab and meet you back at the farmhouse," Olivia offered as she helped her lover from the booth. "It's the least I can do for being so late."

"True," Natalia teased lightly. "And you probably should see about ordering something to go. You have to keep up your strength," she said with a saucy wink before turning her attention back to Doris. "Check your calendar and let me know what night is good for you. I'll even let you choose the cuisine." With a final nod and an added spring in her step, Natalia headed for the door and a sock-monkey-free bed.

"You are one lucky woman, Olivia Spencer," Doris said, her tone colored green with envy. She wondered if she'd ever find a love as deep and as pure as her friend's. "And if you're smart, there won't be any sock monkey paraphernalia within 100 feet of your bed. Think you'll be able to manage that?" Doris knew she'd be able to, especially if Natalia was her reward.

Olivia grinned devilishly and reached into the pocket of her jacket, removing a white business card. "I've taken care of the sock monkey problem." She gripped the card between her thumb and index finger and then tossed it over to Doris. "I highly recommend Sheila." She waited for Doris to pick up the card and hold it out at arm's length to read.

"Custom Tattoos?" Doris looked up at Olivia in alarm. At first, she'd thought Olivia had sought out professional help for her problem, but after reading the name of the business, she'd known exactly what her friend had done. "Olivia! Please tell me you didn't risk your health to get some idiotic sock monkey tattoo."

"I'm not stupid, Doris," Olivia said, half-peeved and half-pleased at her friend's obvious concern. "It's henna. Sheila does good work, and she's fast, too."

If Doris had been looking at the Olivia of old, she'd have suspected that Sheila's work had gone well beyond just drawing a henna tattoo on Olivia's bare skin. "How have you kept it from Natalia until now?"

"I didn't have a business meeting this morning. I had a business appointment instead... monkey business." Olivia smirked and Doris groaned as if in pain.

Leaning over, Olivia whispered a parting remark in Doris's ear, and with a lilting laugh, she turned and walked away, an exaggerated swing in her hips. Doris zoomed in on Olivia's right hip as she watched her friend leave, but no matter how hard she squinted, she still couldn't see through the black denim material that, according to Olivia, hid a very colorful henna sock monkey tattoo.

Doris fingered the card absentmindedly before she finally looked down at the printed information. With a growing smile, she reached for her cell phone. She bet the henna artist could do a mean Tasmanian devil and maybe, just maybe, she'd show Doris her own personal collection of tattoos.

Light from the mid-afternoon sun filtered into an upper floor window of a secluded farmhouse. A quilted, wildflower print comforter lay forgotten in a small pool on the floor at the end of a king-size bed, while desert sand colored sheets bunched up in different places, tangled and twisted around bare feet and ankles. Two women slept entwined together, their naked skin covered with a light sheen of perspiration, just enough to make them glisten in the room's soft light.

Natalia shifted in her sleep, a smile forming at the feel of her lover pressed against her, skin-on-skin, no barrier of any kind. No sock monkey pajamas, no sock monkey briefs, no sock monkey sports bra, no sock monkey socks, no sock monkey obstacle, period. Tucking the hand she clutched closer to her heated skin, she eased their joined hands higher until they rested between her breasts. With a soft sigh of contentment, Natalia settled in her position once again and fell into a deeper sleep.

Olivia waited until Natalia's breathing evened out; she looked past a cute pink ear and dark hair still damp from their heated lovemaking to focus on the clock on Natalia's nightstand: 1:30 p.m. They still had two hours before they had to pick Emma up from her school field trip. Plenty of time for them to get in a restful nap.

Gently easing a leg over her lover's, Olivia winced slightly at the pain on her right hip near her tattoo. One of the very positive aspects of getting a henna tattoo – other than it would be incredibly stupid on Olivia's part to risk any kind of disease or infection a needle pricking her skin could cause – was the lack of pain or discomfort that came with the procedure. The brochure hadn't mentioned, however, the possible reactions one's lover might have when she discovered the colorful ink, such as intense anger at believing the tattoo was real, immense relief at discovering that it wasn't, fascination to the point of slowly tracing a finger around its edges until the skin - and person – surrounding it had become highly sensitive to the touch and beyond aroused, and back to anger when all focus finally centered on the actual image itself.

It had taken a few inventive moves on Olivia's part to distract her lover, and she'd have to remember to thank Emma for talking her and Natalia into watching WWF wrestling last week, although Olivia was quite certain the wrestlers were also directly responsible for the bite mark she now sported on her hip. Olivia eased her hand to the sore spot and rubbed gently. At least Natalia hadn't nailed her monkey…

Her sock monkey, anyway.

Chuckling lightly, Olivia snuggled into her lover's back and closed her eyes. Tomorrow, she'd call Sheila and schedule her next appointment. She didn't dare risk the tattoo fading away.

The End

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