DISCLAIMER: I do not own Guiding Light or the characters therein depicted. I do not seek to profit from this story.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I tried to remain as close to character as humanly possible but as I have only seen YouTube clips of Otalia and no full episodes, I cannot guarantee the results. Also, I am halfway done with Chapter 14 of HBM, so I figured you all wouldn't mind if I took a little break to write this one shot. It was the only way I could make myself feel better about next week. Un-betaed. All mistakes cheerfully made by me! :) Oh my God, is it really 2am?? I'm suffering from Otomnia again.... AU based upon speculation about the Wedding of Doom.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Breathe. Just breathe.
I can't see. I can't hear. Everything's too bright, too loud. There's this whooshing sound in my ears. What is it? What is it?
It sounds like all my chances at happiness passing me by....
Left foot. Right foot. Breathe.
This is the longest walk ever. Why doesn't it end?
Why don't I end it?
Why don't I?
She.... She said she loved me. She said she was in love with me.
Olivia loves me.
My knees go weak and my stomach drops out from under me. I stumble and Rafe--my darling boy--stops us, his hand strong at my elbow. The organist stops playing.
"Ma?" he asks, his eyes--Nicky's eyes--filled with worry. "Ma? You okay?"
I look at him. I really look at him. He's...not happy. He's been released from prison early, he's at his mother's wedding and he's not happy. He should be happy. He should be leaping with joy! What's wrong?
I suddenly feel other eyes on me. I turn to look back at them and it's as if a veil has been lifted.
Nobody is happy. Beyond the worry, the questions in their eyes, no one is really happy to be here.
Buzz looks like he's at an amateur piano recital--proud of his child but feeling guilty, too. The discordance makes him wince and he can't hide it no matter how hard he tries.
Phillip, Josh, Jeffrey, Bill.... They all seem so...resigned. Even Alan looks disconcerted, but I suspect it's for entirely different reasons.
Marina, Mallet, Mel, Remy, Christina.... All cheerless. Miserable. Even Doris looks vaguely green, like she wishes she could discreetly vomit into one of the flower arrangements.
Father Ray at the altar and Sister Anne in the first pew would look more appropriate at a funeral mass than at this wedding mass right now.
Even Frank can no longer hide his doubts from me. His shoulders sag in his brown suit and the smile slowly fades from his face as he realizes I'm not going to finish this journey I started. I can't.
I can't hurt them anymore than I already have.
Emma, my baby....
I look at her and she stares back at me, her wide, blue eyes somber instead of sunny, grave instead of gleeful. Emma, my little girl who loves princesses and fairytales and happily-ever-afters--who has been talking non-stop about this wedding for days--seems to have aged years in the moments since we began this walk, since she discovered the truth about what this wedding would mean. Moving out of the farmhouse. Leaving her room and her storytimes, her ducks and her Christmases, her maple-sugar-oatmeal-breakfasts and her homework-after-dinners behind. It hits me then--I'm killing her innocence. Every step I take toward Frank in this church is one more step I take away from my true family and it's killing my baby's childhood in ways I never contemplated, never suspected possible. And if I'm killing her--
I find your eyes and gasp at the raw, naked pain in them.
I'm murdering you. As surely as if I reached into your chest and squeezed your heart--your heart--with every ounce of strength I possess.
I drop my bouquet.
My fingers ache, flexing at my sides with the hunger of my need. I need to touch you. I need to wipe the stain of what I've done from your eyes, from your heart. I need to stand up....
That thought sings through me and strength suddenly flows back into my body, stiffening my spine, filling me with a feeling of power like I've never felt before.
I need to make a stand. I need to defend my right to love you and to protect the family we've made together. I need to show you, once and for all time, that it's you I choose. You and you alone.
A smile, a real one--the first in what seems like ages--bubbles up from inside of me and it feels like Spring sunshine after a long, dreary Winter. I can do this. I can save my family. You always said I was stronger than I thought I was. You were right.
Someone--I don't know who; Buzz maybe?--has the presence of mind to lead Frank away from the altar and out of the church. He doesn't make a sound and I know I'm going to have to explain to him what happened. From the beginning. Every step that led us to today. And I will. I owe him that much at least. He's a good man and he'll make a good husband. But not to me.
As soon as Frank leaves, the other guests begin to drift away as well, guided out by Josh, Jeffrey and a smug Doris Wolfe...until there's only the four of us left: me, you, Emma, Rafe. I feel a pang of regret that Ava isn't here with the rest of us. She should be here for this. For you. She's part of this family, too. I say a prayer that she'll forgive me for not being able to wait.
Emma, unsure of what's going on, retreats to your side and takes your hand.
Rafe leans into me and says quietly, "Go ahead, Ma. Tell her. She needs to hear it. Us, too."
The tears come then. I laugh and cry at the same time, a sunshower of emotion.
"It was you all along," I whisper. "You make me happy, Olivia Spencer. You lift me up, you're the light in all my darkest nights. You're the one who taught me the joy of a single breath, who showed me that the whole world would lay at my feet if only I believed in myself, in us. You held me in your heart and then you let me go, selflessly, believing it was for my happiness. You'd be standing there right now, suffering silently, smiling while your soul bled if I hadn't stopped this." I shake my head at you, grinning. "You silly, stupid woman."
You laugh through your tears and I realize how far away from you I still am, how your bouquet trembles because you're clutching it too hard.
I take two steps toward you, pause, then take the rest in a rush.... You meet me half way and suddenly we're in each other's arms and I'm winding my fingers in your hair. I press my lips against your eyelids and your cheeks, murmuring apologies and promises to you while you wrap yourself around me, your bouquet falling to the floor with mine. And then we're finally still, entwined with one another, gazing at each other as if for the first time, our hearts beating as one.
There is no one else in the world but you.
"I love you," I whisper and I can feel my heart in my eyes. "All I want is you, Olivia. You and our family. Safe and together in our home."
You close your eyes and tears slip down your cheeks from beneath long lashes. When you finally open them again, they're crystalline with longing and the totality of your love for me, and you gaze at me so deeply, so freely that it takes my breath away.
"Our home," you repeat, and I realize that those words from your mouth are an answer to a prayer...one I've been praying for what seems like forever.
You brush the backs of your fingers over my cheek and I lean into you. Slowly, so very slowly, you lower your mouth to mine and I realize that this...this melting softness of lips and tongues and time and tenderness is our first real kiss.
Here, in this church where I was supposed to marry Frank but where I married you instead.
In front of God and our children....
When our kiss ends and you pull away, I brush a few errant strands of hair out of your eyes. "Ready to go home, sweetheart?" I ask, smiling at you softly. Then I realize how that sounded, how naturally it fell from my lips, and I blush. Laughing nervously, I mumble, "I sound like somebody's wife...."
"Yeah," you agree, your eyes twinkling. Your voice catches and breaks a little. "Mine."
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