DISCLAIMER: Don't own the pairing, the show, or the music. Not seeking profit from this exercise.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Tanked Muse won't shut the hell up about these two! So, here you go. I'm working on a longer fic with these two but it is getting overhauled and I thought this would tide me over for a while. Unbetaed. All mistakes my own. Thanks: To Destini, for getting me hooked on this pairing. :) You Otalia Pusher, you...
CHALLENGE: Challenge: 1. Pick a character, pairing, or fandom you like. 2. Turn your music player on and turn it on random/shuffle. 3. Write a drabblet/ficlet related to each song that plays. You only have the time frame of the song to finish the drabble; you start when the song starts, and stop when it's over. No lingering afterward! (DiNovia says: Yeah, right. Like I can control that.) 4. Do ten of these, then post them.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In Quarter Time: A Collection of Otalia Drabbles Inspired by Song
1. Walkin' on Sunshine -- KC & the Sunshine Band
The three most senior housekeeping employees of The Beacon noticed it first: Olivia Spencer was humming. She was humming and she was smiling. She was practically effervescing. The extreme strangeness of her behavior caused the three to convene an emergency meeting in the basement laundry, where the sloshing of the industrial washers would muffle their speculations.
They discarded aliens, magic spells, and public drunkenness in the first round.
Then android replacements, antidepressants, and recreational drugs in the second round.
That left only two options: either their boss had become a morning person--seemingly overnight--or she had gotten laid. It was a hard call to make because Olivia Spencer was not known for her discretion yet she had not been connected romantically to any man within a 100 miles of Springfield for over ten months.
Five minutes of heated debate solved nothing so they decided upon a watch-and-wait course of action and dismissed the meeting. They entered the elevator and pressed the button for the seventh floor, intending to get back to work. Their car stopped briefly on the second floor to admit Natalia Rivera, Olivia Spencer's assistant.
She greeted them each by name and turned around to face the doors.
Then they heard it: Natalia Rivera was humming.
She wasn't humming just anything, though. She was humming the same song as their boss had been humming. She was also smiling, but that wasn't particularly noteworthy because she always smiled. However, she, too, seemed to have a little more bounce in her step today.
The car stopped on the sixth floor to let Natalia off and when the doors closed again, the three employees turned to stare at one another.
"Dios Mio," whispered Elena and then she giggled nervously.
Brad grinned lasciviously and Cindy rolled her eyes at him before pressing the B button on the elevator panel.
This was gonna need a little more discussion.
2. Love is a Battlefield -- Pat Benetar
Infuriated. She didn't know with whom--Natalia or herself. Infuriated, though. Desperate for the storm to break, for the aftermath. She picked. She prodded. She pushed and pulled.
I want you to hate me so it will be easier to leave.
The topic? Immaterial. The words? Unforgivable. The result? A screaming match in the kitchen, a broken dish, a slap.
Relieved--her permission slip signed--Olivia turned to go.
"No," said Natalia, hand on her wrist. "You don't get to do this. Not this time. Not to me."
Her kisses bruised. They broke another dish and two tea cups.
The kitchen table would never be the same.
3. The Christmas Song -- Nat King Cole
Natalia hovered around the tree, picking ribbons and tinsel off the floor and straightening Emma's new toys--the ones that hadn't made it up the stairs, that is. Natalia shook her head, wondering just how many dolls and stuffed animals Emma had in bed with her. She made a mental note to check on her before they went to sleep, just to make sure she hadn't suffocated from the crowd. Olivia sat on the couch, watching her lover and smiling over the rim of a mug of mulled cider.
"Natalia, leave it. We'll clean it up tomorrow. Come sit with me."
Never needing a second invitation to cuddle, Natalia abandoned her half-hearted tasks and joined Olivia on the couch. She leaned into the older woman's side, humming softly and closing her eyes when she felt an arm slide around her shoulders.
"No more work tonight," admonished Olivia gently, setting her mug on the coffee table. "I just want to sit here with you and look at the tree. It's so beautiful."
Natalia opened her eyes and gazed upon the twinkling lights, sighing contentedly. "It is beautiful," she agreed.
They sat there, together, for a long moment, each lost in their own ruminations, until Natalia sat up a little and leaned forward.
"What is it?" asked Olivia, her concern evident.
Natalia didn't answer. She rose from the couch slowly, her brows knitted over her eyes. She approached the tree.
"I don't remember this ornament," she said, confused.
"Which ornament?" Olivia hid another smile behind the rim of her mug.
"This one--right here!" Natalia pointed to a tiny sleigh with even tinier reindeer. She peered at it closely. It looked...well-loved. The reindeer were missing some antlers, the gold leaf on the sleigh had been rubbed off in some places. Even the tiny Santa's sack in the back seemed misshapen and thread-bare. "Do you know where it came from?"
Olivia shrugged as if to say, "I've never seen it before." Natalia whirled back to the rogue ornament and snatched it from the tree. The sudden motion jarred something loose and it disappeared amongst the detritus of a nine-year-old's Christmas.
"Oh no. Something fell off..." said Natalia, chasing whatever it was under a scrap of wrapping paper.
"I wish you'd be more careful with my grandmother's favorite ornament," groused Olivia, the remark made without an iota of bite. In fact, she looked as self-satisfied and as smug as the cat in the proverbial hat.
Natalia didn't answer. She was too busy staring at the ring in the palm of her hand.
"Is this...?" She looked up at Olivia with tear-filled eyes. "Is it?" she demanded softly.
Olivia suddenly didn't look so sure of herself anymore. She stood. "It--it's your great-grandmother's engagement ring. The one your father had to sell when he brought your family to the United States. I...found it." Found was not exactly the right word but then Natalia didn't really need to know about the three PI firms and the estate auction.
"Oh my God!" Natalia dissolved into sobs and dropped to her knees. Olivia lunged to catch her in her arms.
"I know we can't, legally," she said softly, lifting Natalia's eyes to her own with a finger under her chin. "But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have the ring you've always dreamed of..."
The younger woman held her breath.
"Marry me?" Olivia asked simply, cracking a nervous, crooked smile.
"Yes!" The word exploded from Natalia and she threw her arms around Olivia's neck. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" she cried, punctuating each affirmative with a kiss.
And that was the best Christmas present Olivia Spencer ever received.
4. Push -- Sarah McLachlan
I can't do this. I can't watch you try on dresses or pick out flowers or decide between fondant or butter cream. I just can't.
I wanted to. I wanted to be there for you because you've always been there for me. Scraping me off the floor, holding our lives together...
The truth is, Natalia, you saved me. Beyond the heart stuff; that was just my life. But you also saved me. You saved me from myself and no one has ever done that before.
I want you to be happy, I do. I want you to have everything you've ever wanted out of life because no one deserves it like you do. You're the superhero, remember? The happy ending should be yours. And I'm sorry that I'm too weak to stand beside you now. But I don't trust myself because it should be me, Natalia. I love you. I have always loved you and I think you know that. You've chosen him instead of me and that is absolutely your right. I would have done the same thing, in your shoes. I'm no bargain.
It turns out that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. It turns out that I'm just a coward because I can't watch him take you from me. I can't watch your happy ending, Natalia.
Funny, huh? I finally find the puzzle piece that completes my whole world and I can't have her because she belongs to someone else. God must be trying to tell me something.
I love you, Natalia. I will always love you.
5. Mondo Bongo -- Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros
It was the flower behind her ear, Olivia thought. She could have survived the white bikini with the short, sexy--did she mention short?--wrap around her hips. She could have lived through the haunting curve of her derrière, the tantalizing peek at her belly button, even the shy, pretty smile she wore, complete with dimples. No, none of these things--alone or together--would have undone the vacationing hotel owner.
It was the damned gardenia, white against the obsidian river of Natalia's hair, that made her crazy, Olivia decided. She rose from the lounge chair on the lanai where she'd been waiting, took Natalia's hand, and gently pulled her back inside, closing the door behind them.
At this rate, they were never going to see any more of Hawaii than their stupid cottage.
Not that either of them were complaining.
6. Easy Silence -- Dixie Chicks
Olivia stood in the doorway, sipping tea while watching Natalia scrub the remnants of a fabulous lasagna out of its pan. She was amazing. So amazing and it was getting harder and harder for Olivia to hide what this woman's mere presence did to her.
Still, there was something else, too. Something beyond the butterflies, the breathless anticipation, and the crushing fear of losing their friendship.
There was peace.
It was as if this farmhouse and the lives they lived in it were removed from the world somehow, sacred and apart from the chaos of exes and politics, work and extended family, duties and questions and accidents and arguments that assailed them from all sides. It was a refuge and it was all due to Natalia and her ceaseless efforts to make this a home for them all, a home that protected and comforted and assuaged their fears.
Putting down her mug, Olivia grabbed a dish towel and the newly cleaned lasagna pan and began to dry it.
"Not that I'm complaining," began Natalia, smiling, "but you don't need to help. I've got this under control."
"I do need to help, though," replied Olivia, putting the pan in a cupboard and accepting a dripping plate from Natalia. She glanced at her briefly, her eyes serious. "If for no other reason than to thank you."
"Thank me?" Natalia shook her head, dismissing the thought. "Thank me for what? It's just dishes--"
Olivia put her plate and towel down and pulled Natalia's hands from the dishwater, holding them in her own. "It's not just dishes or dinner or the housework or how you are with Emma. It's not just anything, Natalia. You've taken a ramshackle farmhouse and you've made it into a sanctuary for me and Emma where we are safe and quiet and loved for once. You surround us with love. Every day, without complaint or expectation, you're there for us. Whatever we need." Olivia smiled sadly at the woman she had fallen so hard for, unaware that her feelings were showing completely in her eyes. "The least I can do is thank you for that."
Natalia was torn. The space between them hummed with a buzzing electricity that was harder and harder to deny and yet she just--couldn't. She just couldn't bring herself to cross that last threshold. She knew she was in love with Olivia and that knowledge churned inside her, elating her and dropping her into despair sometimes in the same breath. And here she was, so open once again, her eyes begging for the love she deserved yet--God help her--Natalia just couldn't open up in return. Not...yet.
She took her hands from Olivia's and returned to the dishes, glad to look somewhere else, anywhere else than those beautiful hazel eyes.
"It's okay, Olivia," she said, forcing her voice to be light. "It's my pleasure."
A salty tear dropped into the soapy water and disappeared.
7. Hiperborea (Wavetraxx Mix) -- DJ Donna-Olivia
We're on the run now. I call you 'Laura', you call me 'Janet'. Emma still gets confused about our 'game' and only answers to 'Emily' half the time. She's having the time of her life and if I wasn't so terrified Phillip was around every corner, I would be, too.
"I can't let him have her again," I tell you for the hundredth time, the quiet hours before dawn ticking away in a dingy hotel room in Raleigh, NC. Em is dead asleep in the other bed and I am wrapped around your body, trying to absorb some of your warmth and your strength through our touch. "And now I can't let him have you either."
You kiss me and I wonder if I will ever get used to the shock of it, to the bolt of lightning that accompanies each press of our lips, crying Can this be real?
It is and it isn't. We are not the 'we' we say we are. We are hopelessly in love and it cannot be hidden, cannot be spackled over with lies. Em doesn't seem to notice or maybe it's just what she always thought was going on. It's hard to tell with her. Everyone else sees it immediately.
We weren't lovers yet when we left Springfield. I told you I was taking Emma--leaving town--and you never batted an eye. It was as if you already knew we'd be leaving. You even had a plan.
We left separately, you nine days after us. You quietly explained to Rafe and I quietly stole into Overland Park, KS, reasoning that Phillip wouldn't think to look for us in a town near a federal penitentiary. I was a wreck every one of those nine days, waiting for you. Wondering if you'd come. Wondering if you'd take the easier road, the saner road. Wondering if Phillip would find us first. We couldn't use phones now. Everything got paid for with the cash I raided from my hotel's deposits. There was no contact between us, no way to communicate without making us vulnerable.
I told you before we left that we'd be in a laundromat with a name beginning with the letter 's' on the tenth day; you found us on your first try. We sold your car and bought a new one with the money. Piled Em and enough junk food in the back to last us to Knoxville, TN. You cut your hair the day we got there and I cried like a baby, running my fingers through the ragged ends as if I could grow it back myself. You hushed me, held me to you, told me everything was going to be okay.
It all tumbled out of me, then--in tearful, broken whispers because Em was asleep in the next bed over. That I loved you, that I had for months, that I had never meant to drag you with us, that you should go back, make a good life for yourself with Frank or whoever. I was babbling, you shut me up with a kiss.
I swear to you right now, if I don't get to make love to you soon in a safe place where we can make a little noise, I'm going to gouge someone's eyes out.
We're on our way to Canada. They won't extradite us if they find us there and the Spauldings have limited influence. I'm in a hurry to get there, your cooler head wants to take it slowly, wants to lose Phillip in little burgs and big cities so he won't realize where we're headed until we're already over the border. I adore your cooler head, even with the shorter hair.
"I love you, Natalia," I whisper. It's safe to call you by your name only at these moments, when there is no one in the world but us two.
"Y te quiero, Olivia," you whisper back, your eyes big and round and black in the syrupy gray light before dawn, your hand on my cheek. In that moment, I finally understand why you left it all so willingly.
It wasn't the farmhouse that was our home; it was each other.
8. St. Teresa -- Joan Osborne
My fingers trace the curve of your spine, your skin silver-gold in the moonlight.
You are heartbreakingly beautiful. I can't stop touching you.
You sigh and my stomach flips. I am trembling. A child before the face of God.
I lift the heavy silk of your hair off your neck and kiss you. The shock of our touch electrifies me and I am engulfed in flames.
I move downward, leaving a rosary of kisses on your skin, every one a prayer...
O God, make me worthy of this woman...
I can't breathe. I shudder with emotion and rest my forehead in the small of your back.
You turn, draw me up to your mouth, open to me. I drown in you.
How can I survive this? My heart is a drum. I'm going to die from you.
"Olivia," you say, your voice a breath and nothing more. "Olivia...I love you so..."
Your body becomes a river of stories and I tell every one.
With my mouth, my fingers, my skin on yours.
Your big brown eyes shimmer in the half-light, your breath catches...
I am deep inside you, so deep I can feel your heartbeat in my fingertips.
You stand at the edge of starlight and supernova and I want to see you fall into me...
"It's always been you," I confess. "Only you..."
You are as taught as a bow until you release my name into the night.
Then you shiver in my arms, hiding your eyes against my throat, and I am undone by the tiny sounds you make.
I entwine my body with yours, falling into your kisses like a woman starved, and it all begins again.
A river of stories, and I tell them all...
9. Family -- Dar Williams
Buzz found her leaning against one of the trellises on the outskirts of the reception, watching. He knew without looking that she was watching Natalia but her smile was so...so indescribably lovely, he had to turn and look as well.
Natalia was with Emma on a tiny makeshift dance floor under one of the canopies, grinning widely as the two of them did an awkward rendition of The Twist. Someone made a comment that he didn't hear and she threw her head back and laughed. She was breathtakingly beautiful.
Buzz tried to imagine what Olivia was feeling, what it was like to see the woman you loved dancing with your child at this moment. He put a hand on her arm.
"Hey, gorgeous," he said softly. "What are you doing out here?"
Olivia jumped at the touch and the voice, not realizing she had company. She'd been so wrapped up in watching Natalia dance with Emma she hadn't noticed anything else around her.
She wiped away the tears gathering in her eyes and answered, "I just needed...a minute. She won't miss me." She glanced at Buzz, smiling. "After all, it's the bride's day, isn't it?"
Buzz shook his head dotingly. Olivia would never change; Natalia would always come first in her eyes. No matter what. "Do I have to remind you that you are the other bride?" he asked gently. "Go on," he added, nudging her away from the trellis. "Go be with your family, Olivia. It's your day, too..."
She laughed a little and kissed him on the cheek in thanks and he realized that she'd been standing out here trying to decide if she were dreaming, trying to hold onto this moment for as long as she could.
He watched her walk onto the dance floor, watched Natalia's eyes light up as she drew the older woman into their circle of love, watched the three of them do an awkward rendition of The Twist through laughter and tears.
He waited for the feeling of exclusion he was afraid he'd feel here. It never came.
10. Butterflies -- David Garza
Emma Spencer fumbled in her backpack for the house key while continuing her conversation. "--and then he changed the exam to open book, which made Heather and I very happy because did we have any time whatsoever to study for it? No. Of course not--not with that paper due that Friday, right?" She finally found the right one and opened the door to the mud room, sighing with contentment as soon as she felt the blast of heat on her reddened cheeks and nose. "Can you believe all this snow?" she asked over her shoulder while she started stripping layers of winter clothing off.
The young man with her looked for a safe place to put their bags while he did the same. "Uh, no. Not really." He was from Savannah and the ability to deal with snows like this was not amongst his people's repertoire of behaviors. He followed Emma's lead, hanging coats and sweaters and scarves all on a line of hooks along the wall. Just when he was starting to feel the chill again, Emma declared them sufficiently undressed enough to proceed into the main part of the house.
The kitchen was warm and smelled heavenly.
"Oh, God!" gushed the nineteen-year-old blonde, running to the stove. "Natalia's baking!" She opened the oven door just a crack and saw three pies just beginning to get a little golden around the edges. "There's a cherry," she announced gleefully, "and...an apple, it looks like. And I hope that one on the bottom is a peach pie because you are going to love her peach pie, I swear!" She glanced up at her boyfriend and treated him to a naughty little grin. "Scrumptious!" she declared, laughing when he blushed. She closed the oven carefully and turned to go into the living room. "Come on, let's go find Mom and Nat. Bring the bags--"
Drew Maitland shook his head at her and hefted the suitcases again, dragging them--and himself--after her. He'd never seen her so excited before and it was very cute. Maybe coming home with her for Thanksgiving wasn't such a bad idea. Except for the part where he was the boyfriend meeting the parents for the first time. That sucked no matter how he looked at it.
"Mom?" asked Emma, walking into the living room. It was empty even though there was a fire crackling in the fireplace. She walked towards it, humming appreciatively while holding her hands out to warm them. She held them there for a moment, glancing at the family photos on the mantle and grinning again. She was so happy to be home. "Mom!" she called, turning her gaze to the ceiling, wondering if they were up there doing laundry or something. She headed for the foot of the stairs, calling for her mother again, when Olivia Spencer appeared on the landing, clutching a robe around herself.
"Emma! Sweetheart!" Her voice was two shades too cheerful. "You're here! We thought you were coming in at three!"
Emma ignored the words and focused on her mother. The older woman's cheeks were flushed and she seemed a little...out of it. "Mom? Are you feeling okay? Is something wrong?" If her mother was sick again and Natalia hadn't told her about it, she would never forgive--
"Nothing's wrong, honey," Olivia reassured her daughter, taking a moment to tie off her robe. "I was just upstairs--uh--resting. Had a long day at the hotel yesterday, all that." She dismissed Emma's concern with a wave of her hand. "I thought I had a couple of hours for a nap since you weren't supposed to be here until three..."
"We got a head start this morning so we decided to come earlier," explained Emma absently, still peering at her mother suspiciously. Then she remembered Drew and her manners. "Oh! Mom, this is Drew. Drew, this is my mother, Olivia. Mom? Where's Nat?"
Olivia descended the stairs and stuck her hand out to Drew. "Drew, it's so nice to finally meet you," she said graciously, taking his hand. "I've heard so much about you." To her daughter, she said, "Natalia's upstairs, honey. She'll be down--"
"No, here I am!" came a voice from the landing. "Here I am," repeated the smaller woman, bounding down the stairs. "Sorry! I was upstairs--uh--doing laundry. I didn't hear you come in! Sorry!" She came to the bottom of the stairs and took a deep breath, smiling widely and homing in on Drew. "You must be Drew," she said, reaching out to shake his hand. "I'm Natalia, Emma's other mother. So nice to meet you!"
The intensity of Emma's gaze shifted suddenly from Olivia to Natalia, recognizing a tone of voice she used to call the Ice Cream Miracle--used on occasion to distract Emma from some activity or question that her mothers either disapproved of or couldn't answer. It was often accompanied by a rare bowl of ice cream or some other sweet treat and it had only worked on her until she was about twelve. She examined Natalia closely. Her cheeks were ruddy and there was a slight sheen to her skin, as if she were overheated. Otherwise she looked perfectly normal in her usual knock-around-home outfit of jeans and a--
Emma cocked her head to the side. "Nat? Your sweater's inside out," she pointed out helpfully, looking confused.
Her two mothers froze where they stood, both of them looking like deer caught in headlights. Happy to have the spotlight off himself for the moment, Drew began to chuckle softly.
Olivia closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, mightily aggrieved. "Great," she snapped. "Terrific. We get caught because you can't manage to get dressed by yourself."
Natalia looked scandalized. "Me?!" Her cheeks blazed crimson. "It wasn't me who-- I wasn't the one-- I mean, you're in your--" She gestured to Olivia's robe with flailing hands. Then her eyes hardened to two glittering shards of obsidian. "You are not blaming this on me, Olivia Spencer! This was--"
"HOLD IT!" shouted Emma, intent on stopping this train before it became an all-too-familiar train wreck. "Will somebody please explain to me what I'm missing here?" She pinned her mothers with an expectant gaze.
When neither of them came forward, Drew cleared his throat and leaned down, whispering into his girlfriend's ear his interpretation of recent events. Emma's eyes grew wider and her cheeks grew hotter with every word.
"Oh EWW!" she cried. "You two are--are--impossible!" She pushed past her mothers and fled upstairs. A few seconds later they heard the slamming of a door.
Two heartbeats passed quietly while everyone still in the living room competed for the World Heavyweight Blushing title. Finally, Natalia's innate hostess kicked in.
"So, Drew..." she said, her voice cracking ever-so-slightly. "Can I interest you in some pie?"
Neither Olivia nor Natalia ever did figure out why that question was so funny...
But just to be on the safe side, the following Thanksgiving, Natalia served cobbler.
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