DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Olivia's confession in the cemetery was so heartfelt, I really have a hard time thinking that Natalia would have continued with the wedding of doom. So I've taken it and created my own AU Springfield to play in. The first part is a bit of a recap of the episode, but we move on after that so bear with me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Up to and including April 17, 2009.
FEEDBACK: To Geekgrrl.lurking[at]gmail.com
Whither Thou Goest
Long fingers dragged slowly across her hip, sliding under the hem of her night shirt and finding twitching abs. A low groan escaped Natalia's lips as she felt the roaming hands inch slowly across her overheated skin, finding and squeezing her aching breasts.
"Natalia " Olivia's voice was tickling her ear, low and soft. Natalia's lower body clenched in response and she arched her back needing more contact, thrilling as Olivia's strong leg slipped between her thighs and tucked tight against her center. God, it felt so good to be in her arms, to be surrounded by her.
"Natalia " Full lips nuzzled at her neck, behind her ear, finally sucking and nipping at Natalia's tender earlobe. She couldn't control her hips as she rolled wantonly against Olivia's smooth thigh, her stiff nipples twisted and teased by the older woman. It was almost too much all at once and yet she desperately wanted so much more.
"What!" Natalia sat bolt upright in bed, Emma's shout cutting through the languid haze of her dream like a knife. Blinking her eyes open Natalia finally focused on the small form standing beside her bed.
"I can't find my hat!" Emma was on the verge of tears, her voice wobbling.
Her body still throbbing from her dream, Natalia tried to gather her wits and raging hormones. What was she, sixteen again? Shaking her head she swung her feet out of bed and ran a hand through her hair in frustration. Smiling down at the worried girl, she had more important things to concentrate on right now.
"Don't worry sweetie, I think I saw it last night when we unpacked one of your suitcases."
Hat and the rest of her costume safely tucked into her backpack, Emma happily sat munching her cereal as Natalia sipped at her coffee. She felt tired, probably from tossing and turning all night. Even the thought of food made her stomach roll as she placed her mug down by the sink. She hoped she wasn't coming down with something on top of everything else. Natalia's dream had faded in the morning dash to get Emma ready for school, but the implications had stayed fresh in her mind.
Natalia was devout but she was no prude and while not promiscuous she had had a few lovers over the years. In the end though Rafe had always come first, and various selfish or jealous boyfriends had disappeared quickly enough. Guiltily Natalia knew that Nicky had always been the ideal in her mind, and she had subconsciously, and unfairly, measured each new suitor to him.
Sighing, Natalia turned her thoughts to the here and now and getting the little bundle of energy in her kitchen off to school. Finally herding the girl into her car, Natalia listened idly as Emma practiced her lines a few more times. The snowplows had been out overnight and the roads were clear. The freak snowstorm had been handled wonderfully and the short drive into town passed uneventfully.
Letting her mind wander as she drove, Natalia reasoned that it wasn't even the first time she had had a dream about Olivia, or for that matter thought about them being together that way. It just seemed so much more real and intense now that she knew her feelings were returned.
Stopping at a red light, Natalia watched a Springfield police cruiser drive past, making her think of Frank. There had been another eye opener if she had really let herself think about it. Although it freaked her out a little at the time, Natalia was honest enough with herself to admit that she had fantasized about a woman's hands touching her, stroking her, loving her when she had slept with Frank.
Pulling into traffic, Natalia rolled her eyes at herself. She wasn't going to take the easy route out now, censoring her thoughts at this point. She wasn't that naïve, it had been Olivia she had been thinking of. She had wanted Olivia even then. Frank couldn't get the job done for her and before she realized it she had started imagining Olivia touching her, making love to her. And boy, that had done the trick.
Finally stopping in front of the school, Natalia smiled over at the excited girl. With a quick hug, Emma was out the door and headed inside, fearless and ready for what the day held for her. So like her mother sometimes it warmed Natalia's heart.
Making her way to Cedars Hospital Natalia's mind slid seductively back to the dream. It had seemed so real. And while the intensity of it should have shocked her, it didn't. It just seemed right. Natalia shivered at the memory, and smiled as she realized that someday soon it would come true.
Before she knew it, Natalia found herself pushing the door to Olivia's room open with little preamble, to find Dr. Rick already there.
" I'm serious Olivia. You need to take care of the stress in you life. You need more rest and relaxation for the next little while. Take some time off. Go to a spa or something, okay?" Rick was lecturing her, but Olivia only had eyes for Natalia. Rick turned to see what had so captured her attention.
Natalia wandered into the room and placed a hand on Olivia's leg slowly running along the blanket covering it.
"Hi," Natalia grinned at Olivia, dimples at full force. Olivia's heart did a little flip flop and she couldn't help the smile that flew to her own lips. Natalia slowly turned and looked up at the doctor. "Can I take her home Rick?"
"She's all yours Natalia." Rick absently signed the release form and handed it over to Olivia to sign as well.
Olivia barely concealed her smirk. Oh Rick, you have no idea Tearing her eyes away from the captivating brunette, Olivia quickly signed the document and handed it back.
"Thanks Dr. Rick, for everything. I'll try to work on my stress levels, I promise." Olivia smiled at the handsome doctor as he headed for the door.
"Don't forget our follow up appointment Olivia." Rick paused by the door. "Now get out of here, we need that bed for sick people." The door quietly closed behind him as the two women simply stared at each other for a moment longer.
"So how many bodies do I need to dispose of?" Natalia teased, helping Olivia to her feet as she finally moved to hop out of the hospital bed. Natalia handed her the bag of fresh clothes she'd brought with her.
"Thank you." Olivia murmured, warmed by her thoughtfulness and headed into the bathroom to change. "Ugh, y'know they put all the evil ones on the night shift I swear "
Natalia chuckled and started gathering and folding Olivia's other clothes out of the small closet.
"Although I am tempted to offer Attila the Hun a job at the Beacon. She would scare the bejezus out of some of those lazy banquet servers." Olivia walked out, looking none the worse for wear for her ordeal. She knew Natalia loved that blouse on her and the dark tailored pants set it off nicely. Olivia could almost feel the younger woman's eyes raking over her body, checking her out and she liked it.
She liked it a lot.
Their eyes finally met and Natalia swallowed hard. The desire to touch the exquisite woman standing before her washed over her in a wave. Her eyes dropped to Olivia's mouth, the full moist lips tempting her. This was going to be hard to contain now that she knew Olivia felt the same way too.
"You heard the doctor, I'm all yours." Olivia husked, as she slid her hand along the inside of Natalia's arm, finding her hand and holding it, their fingers entwining.
"Promises, promises " Natalia murmured, her dimples deepening with the saucy grin she treated Olivia with. "Come on Trouble, we have a play to catch "
Frank Cooper pulled his car up to the small farmhouse and turned off the ignition. He really didn't want to do this but he had no choice. Knocking on the back door he quickly opened it and headed into the kitchen. It was warm and cozy, smelling like cleaning products and coffee. It made him smile to think that soon this would be his home too. A movement caught his eye and then he saw Rafe Rivera walk in from the living room.
"Frank! Ma's not here, she went to go pick up Olivia." Rafe stretched and yawned, only recently having dragged himself out of bed. Frank looked down his shoes suddenly very interesting. No he did not enjoy what he was about to do.
"Rafe, I'm sorry buddy. I've got to take you to the half way house. You were released for a special family occasion, and well, that didn't happen so now they want you to go back." Frank glanced up at the young man and watched helplessly as Rafe's smile slowly disappeared and the reality of his life sank in once more.
"Right now?" Rafe watched as Frank just nodded and looked away, obviously not happy about this either. There had been so many things Rafe had wanted to do before going back. Spend some more time with his mom, go to Church like a normal person, and maybe see Daisy.
Rafe ran a hand through his short hair and felt the cold wall drop down to cover his emotions shoving them deep down inside. It was the same wall that he held in place while in prison shielding himself from everything. He could handle this, he had no choice after all.
"Do I at least have time to find Ma and go to Church?" Rafe asked hopefully.
Frank looked up surprised. He knew Natalia was devout but didn't realize how important Rafe's faith was to him as well. He tucked that information away and smiled at the young man.
"Yes, but I have to get you to the half way house by 6 pm at the latest. We should find you're mom and then head out."
Rafe smiled wistfully and looked around the farmhouse kitchen. It was only a temporary set back. He knew that someday he would be coming back to this little home and it would be for good. It was only a matter of time.
"Let me get my gear together and I'll be right down."
Miss Calliope Jennings stood by the stage and looked up as the door opened and two more parents came in. Smiling to herself she once more let her mind wander away from her to do list. She simply could not believe that Olivia Spencer and her "good friend" Ms. Rivera were not together. She had met enough of her brother's friends to see the tell tale signs. Hell a blind man could see the signs. Standing too close, finishing each others sentences, touching each other way more often than normal friends would, as if the staring longingly at each other didn't give them away. Her gaydar had been pinging on these two even before Emma's My Two Mommies presentation and she didn't care what they said. Actions spoke louder than words and these two women were more of a couple than a lot of the married parents she met these days.
Callie watched as the two women wandered into the small room with the other parents there for the play and found their seats. With the Mayor's damned Families First committee breathing down her neck, Callie knew exactly who she needed to speak to for help. After all she was the one suffering here because of Emma's presentation, the least Ms. Spencer could do was listen.
"Natalia, will you stop it. I'm fine." Olivia grumbled. She had been poked and prodded all night and she'd about had enough of it all. The look on Natalia's face though quickly made her regret her words. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that to be as sharp as it came out. It's just "
"No, it's okay. I've been hovering over Rafe too. It seems to be what I do to irritate people lately." Natalia shrugged and looked away. Suddenly she felt long fingers wrap around her own hand and squeeze. Glancing up she met concerned green eyes, the silent communication between them seeming to speak directly to something buried deep inside, easing an ache Natalia wasn't even aware was there. She almost forgot to breathe for a minute.
"No. It just means you care and I'm sorry." Olivia's eyes spoke volumes more and Natalia melted just a little bit from what she saw there. A discreet cough came from behind them.
"Um, sorry to interrupt but " Miss Jennings tried really hard not to smirk at the tender scene playing out before her. Seriously, if they weren't together she would eat Emma's hat. "I was wondering if I could speak with you after the play today Ms. Spencer."
"Is there a problem with Emma?" Olivia frowned, concerned.
"No, no, nothing like that. I just wanted to talk to you about something I hope you can help me with." Callie smiled at the two women before some movement caught her eye, looking up as she saw some students fiddling with something they were not supposed to be near. God, retirement was so far away.
"Ok " Olivia agreed, a little confused but happy to help if she could. It might be good to focus on someone else's problems for a change.
Natalia jumped slightly as her phone rang. Excusing herself she pulled her slim black cell phone from her purse and noted that it her home number before moving away to answer the call.
"Natalia, where are you baby?" Frank's voice came clearly through the line. Natalia rolled her eyes, she wished he wouldn't call her that. And then her stomach dropped once again with guilt. She needed to end it with him as soon as possible.
"I'm at Emma's play with Olivia. What are you doing at my house?"
"Rafe and I are heading into town. I have to take him back to the halfway house "
"Today? But " Natalia's eyes locked with Olivia's, who suddenly stood and made her way through the chairs towards her obviously realizing she was upset by the news. "Frank, we haven't had a chance to "
"He was released for the wedding Natalia. With no family event they want him back. Now." Frank quietly let that sink in before he continued. "Rafe wants to go to Church before I take him in. We'll meet you there. It's going to be ok sweetie."
The line went dead and Natalia slid her phone into her pocket, tears starting to well. She felt Olivia by her side, her warm hand gently rubbing her lower back, taking comfort in the soothing gesture.
"What's going on?" Olivia murmured, concerned.
"Rafe has to go back. Frank is taking him to the halfway house now, but first they are stopping at the Church "
"Go on Natalia. Be with Rafe, I'll stay here for Emma's play and explain what's going on. Then we'll meet up with you at Company. Ok?" Their eyes locked and Olivia tried to reassure her with a soft smile.
Natalia resisted the urge to kiss Olivia, instead pulling her into a much needed hug.
"Thank God I have you." Natalia whispered softly before pulling away, tears shining in her eyes.
"I think you've got that backwards. Now go and we'll see you in a little while." With a final squeeze to her hands, Olivia watched as Natalia turned and dashed out of the room. Sighing she made her way back to her seat.
The heavy oak door swung open with the touch of her hand as Natalia stepped into the small church. She often thought that this little Church was missing some of the ornate decoration that she was used to in a Catholic building, but its simplicity was what appealed to her. The place soothed her in her most trying times.
Natalia stepped down the aisle, listening to the floor boards creaking under her feet. It suddenly hit her just how close had she come to making one of the biggest mistakes of her life. Sliding into a pew, Natalia ducked her head and made the sign on the cross before starting to pray. But the old familiar prayers did not come to mind. Her mind was blank, clean as a slate, as if waiting for something more to come to her, to rise to the surface and explain it all. She laughed at her own wishful thinking. Nothing is ever that simple.
Sitting quietly she noticed the scent of incense and candles burning. Natalia decided she would light a candle for Rafe, her baby who was a man now, struggling in a man's world. She knew he would have to return to that harsh world, but didn't think it would be so soon. She had screwed that up for him too.
Natalia was hurting so many people, for her own selfish reasons. Frank was a grown man, who would be wounded deeply, but would eventually move on and be fine. Rafe, Emma and eventually Ava were another level of worry for her. Whether they reacted well or not would directly influence both Olivia and her own happiness.
Natalia looked up at the plain wooden cross hanging above the altar and prayed for guidance.
"Natalia? I thought that was you." Father Ray smiled down at the troubled looking woman. "Are you okay? I'm sorry about not being available for the wedding yesterday." He slid down into the pew beside her.
"Don't be Father. I'm so glad now that we didn't go through with it." Natalia sighed, the weight of her troubles needing to be shared. She looked over at the priest and wondered just how badly this was going to go.
"I don't love Frank."
Father Ray looked down at his hands resting on the pew in front of them and nodded, unsurprised.
"Does Olivia know about your feelings for her?"
The burn of shock washed over Natalia followed by the cool calm of relief, of being able to finally talk about her conflicted feelings.
"How did "
"It's a small town." Father Ray shrugged a shoulder and smiled at the stunned woman. "I hear a lot of stuff. The Two Mommies presentation and the Mayor's Families First committee was quite a topic of conversation there for a while."
Natalia sighed and looked back up at the wooden cross.
"Yes she knows. She loves me too."
Father Ray absorbed that news and stared up at the cross as well.
"You know I must follow the dictates of the Church, Natalia. Homosexuality is not condoned, as it runs contrary to the natural law." Father Ray's words delivered softly still hit hard. Natalia ducked her head, knowing that it was coming didn't make it any easier to hear. "In fact most churches are not very supportive of this alternate lifestyle "
"Why to straight people have lives and gay people have lifestyles? Its not like I chose to fall in love with Olivia, it just happened." Natalia snapped at the man, finally getting angry at how unfair it all was.
How could this love be so wrong? God was love wasn't he? It was the small minds of mankind that were the problem. Natalia ran a hand through her hair and sighed, trying to release her frustration before speaking again.
"Father, I've tried for so long to ignore it, hoping it would go away, pouring my emotions into Frank, focusing on Rafe and what's best for all of us. But she just has to smile or look at me and I'm gone again, like my heart has taken flight "
Father Ray looked down at his hands, fighting with his personal feelings and his duty to the Church.
"Natalia, while I must uphold the rules of the Church, I care about you and your happiness. I knew there was something not right between you and Frank when we spoke yesterday and was deeply concerned. I have to say a part of me was relieved to hear the wedding had been postponed." Their eyes locked and Natalia nodded, waiting for him to continue.
"And I've also seen you with Olivia and her daughter, the family that you have built. She is at heart a good woman who believes in you and loves you. Some people search their entire lives and never find that. I'll pray that you find the path that is right for you and for the strength to follow it." The priest put his hand over Natalia's and squeezed. She swallowed hard and smiled.
"Thank you Father." Natalia whispered, feeling as if a little of the weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She knew his hands were tied and still he had found a way to be there for her. They both looked up as they heard the main church door open and footsteps coming their way.
"That's probably Rafe. He's returning to prison and wanted to come to church before Frank took him back. I haven't told him yet about "
"Don't worry. What you say to me in confidence, stays that way." Father Ray smiled sadly. This would not be an easy road for the woman to travel, but he would not add to her worries.
Natalia nodded and they both stood. It had been a long day and it wasn't even noon yet. Natalia sighed and moved to go light a candle as Father Ray went to greet her son. They would all need strength to walk this different path. Watching the smoke from the match float up in lazy swirls and the bright flame flare to life on the small candle gave Natalia comfort. Somehow she and Olivia would find their way together. Everything else would work itself out.
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