DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is not a happy story. Natalia upset me yesterday and so this came to mind as what I would be thinking by now if I were Olivia. Okay, the ending didn't go as I had planned. I didn't particularly want a happy ending, but then, for reasons I won't say, I found myself less irked than yesterday and I forgave Natalia. (Who can stay mad at that face?).
SPOILERS: Mainly the 19 and 20 May eps (though I haven't seen today's episode yet).
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
I Won't Live With That
"What?" Olivia looked at Natalia, wondering if she could have possibly heard wrong.
"I can't work here anymore," Natalia said simply. "You're covering for me in front of the staff. I don't want them thinking
"What?" Olivia interrupted shortly, "that we're lovers?"
"Olivia," Natalia protested, not up for this conversation, yet again. "Can you quit jumping to conclusions for one second please? The fact is that despite everything, you are still my boss. I need you to treat me the same way you would any other employee that screws up."
Olivia narrowed her eyes in the way which generally had Natalia feeling sorry for the recipient. This time she was the recipient and she suddenly felt a chill run through her. "I don't know what you're thinking, Olivia, but "
"I'm thinking that I can't do this anymore," Olivia replied coolly before walking away, Natalia hot on her heels.
"Wait a minute," Natalia called after her. "What are you saying?'
The two women entered the office and Olivia instantly went to sit behind the desk, inexplicably needing a buffer between her and the woman who seemed to have no idea what to do with the heart that Olivia had given her. She watched calmly as Natalia shut the door behind her.
"I'm saying that this isn't working." Olivia was pleased by the almost professional tone of her voice. She was seconds away from falling apart, but she didn't want Natalia to know that.
"I know and I'm sure I can find another job," Natalia said almost desperately, instinctively knowing Olivia wasn't talking about work.
"That's not what I meant," Olivia said, confirming Natalia's fears. "We're not working."
Natalia suddenly knew the pain Olivia had gone through with her heart. Her own felt as if it was being torn from her chest. "How...how can you say that? This is we've only been together a short while."
Olivia snorted. "We've never 'been together', and before you say anything, I'm not talking about sex. The only step we've taken in this so called relationship is for me to tell you I love you and for you to tell me the same. "
"That's everything," Natalia protested. She finally took a seat in front of Olivia, fearing her legs would give out at any second.
"I used to think so," Olivia said. Saying these things to Natalia were hurting her, but not near as much as it killed her to continually be kicked in the teeth every time she let herself feel the slightest bit optimistic about a life with Natalia.
"Olivia, what's going on? Why are you doing this?"
"Because. Because I'm tired of you coming up with excuse after excuse not to be with me. You can't tell Rafe or Emma, you can't live with me, you can't work with me. Hell you can't even kiss me. "
Natalia was wracking her brain trying to figure out what was going on in Olivia's head and how to keep her from giving up on her. "I don't know what when?" She stammered in confusion.
Olivia snorted sarcastically. "I can't describe how wonderful it feels to think you're finally going to get to kiss the woman you've loved for forever, who you've been away from for nearly a week, only to be given the proverbial cheek."
Natalia suddenly remembered that moment on the couch. She had still been reeling from being in Olivia's arms for the first time since they'd admitted their feelings and then from having Olivia say she wanted to move back in. She'd managed to explain her fears of such a commitment and the repercussions if they broke up and returned them back to playful flirty banter. When Olivia leaned in, Natalia knew she was going to kiss her and she panicked. She couldn't help it. Instead she pulled Olivia into her arms.
"I'm sorry, Olivia, I didn't mean to hurt you. I'm just not "
"Ready," Olivia finished for her. She knew that little sentence by rote. She suddenly flashed on an image and started to laugh, though it was filled with very little humor.
"What?" Natalia asked, hoping that maybe whatever had gotten into Olivia had passed.
Olivia considered thoughtfully before saying anything. She loved Natalia, more than could ever remember loving anyone and she didn't want to hurt her, but she was tired of being hurt in return. "I was just thinking about Frank and about how we seem to be more alike than I thought."
Natalia's anxiousness about where Olivia was going was starting to be joined by anger. "I don't even know what that means," she snapped. "What does Frank have to do with this?"
"Everything," Olivia said calmly. "I watched how you were with Frank during your engagement. I've never seen a more unenthusiastic fiancée in my life, yet you let him kiss you, you went along with him because you didn't want to hurt him. Maybe the same way you don't want to hurt me." Olivia paused for a moment as a thought occurred to her. "It's kind of ironic, now that I think about it. You didn't love Frank, yet you let him kiss you. You say you love me, and yet you can barely hold my hand without having an anxiety attack and pulling away."
"That's because it's different with you," Natalia gritted her teeth, ignoring the 'you say you love me' comment for now.
"Yeah, I know, because I'm a woman," Olivia retorted.
"It's because I'm in love with you. Not Frank. Touching you does things to me that Frank never did. Things I have no idea how to handle. "
Olivia was struck dumb at that, but she stopped the hope that started to rise before it fully formed. "It doesn't matter, Natalia," she said sadly. "Too many times, just as I think you've finally decided to let me fully into your heart, you start with the 'what if's,' and the 'I'm not ready's. I love you. I'm in love with you. You seem to forget this is something that's never happened to me before either, but I believed in and accepted that love and all that goes with it. The more I'm with you, though, the more it seems you just want to cling to what we had before. You want a best friend and a roommate. Not a lover. I can't live with that. I won't live with that."
Natalia's throat closed up at Olivia's use of the past tense. She couldn't be ending things. She couldn't. "That's not true, Olivia. I left Frank at the alter for you. I told Father Ray how I felt about you and that I was happy."
"And I appreciate how hard that must have been for you, I honestly do, but I told you before. I want someone to love me. Really love me. I want someone who wants me and desires me and isn't afraid of or embarrassed by that. I never really thought so before, and maybe in the past it wasn't the case, but I think I deserve to be loved...completely. I think that even I finally deserve at least a little happiness."
Natalia's heart shattered at the truth of that and at the realization of what life for Olivia must have been like, to think she wasn't worthy to be loved. "You do deserve all of that," she pleaded, "and I want to give all of that to you, but you know my history. Sex is "
"I told you, Natalia, this isn't about sex. It's about intimacy and the difference between best friends and lovers."
"I do love you, Olivia," she tried again, silently wondering how the word "love" became so convoluted.
Olivia smiled. It wasn't a bitter smile; it was a true smile that was buried in sadness. "I know you do. The problem is, I don't know how you love me."
Natalia heaved a frustrated sigh. Olivia's walls were back up and Natalia knew she was the one who'd put them there. She had no idea of how to knock them down again. Suddenly she remembered telling Emma that the best way to tell someone something was to just show them. She was afraid. She couldn't help that, but remembering Olivia telling her she was braver than she thought, she gritted her teeth and walked around the desk, stopping beside Olivia's chair.
Olivia, for once, was at a loss for words as she wondered when she'd lost control of the conversation. She needed that control back or she'd never finish her 'let's be friends,' speech.
"Natalia, what are you "
"Be quiet and stand up."
Olivia's lips twitched, fighting a smile as assertive Natalia was making another appearance. "Why?"
Natalia sighed in frustration as she tried to figure out how to deal with this stubborn woman. Suddenly she leaned forward putting her hands on the arms of the chair effectively trapping her.
"Olivia, you are by far the most aggravating, stubborn, complicated woman I've ever met," she looked into Olivia's beautiful eyes which were adorably confused. "You're also the strongest and most passionate. The way you love people, when you allow yourself to, astounds me and takes my breath away."
"I " Olivia's throat closed up as she watched Natalia lift a hand and bring it to her face. Her eyes slid shut as she felt those long warm fingers brush back her hair and then trail down her cheek.
"Look at me," Natalia ordered, lifting Olivia's chin and waiting for those dark lashes to lift. Natalia had never known anyone but Olivia who could turn her into a big blob of jelly with just a look.
"I'm sorry, Olivia," she said quietly. "Hurting you is absolutely the last thing I ever wanted to do. I guess I've been wrapped up in my own fears that I just didn't see what my hesitance was doing to you." She ran her thumb over lips that were starting to speak, quieting the other woman.
"Never, never, doubt that I love you. That I'm in love with you. You're all I think about and just those thoughts have me sighing like a lovesick teenager. I hear your voice and I get butterflies, I look into your eyes and just about forget where I am. I told you before, you're everything to me and all I want is to have you in my life forever. I want to show you every day that you are loved and wanted, just for you. For who you are. And I do want the intimacy that goes with this, but I am afraid, Olivia. I can't help that. No offense, but I don't have the experience you do," she smiled at Olivia's little reluctant smirk. "I'm not sure when I'll be ready for everything, but I " Finally unable to think of anything else to say, Natalia leaned forward and pressed her lips to Olivia's, her eyes clinching tightly at the contact.
"Natalia?" Olivia whispered against the lips pressed against hers.
"Kindly be quiet, Olivia. I'm not finished yet." Barely had the last word left her mouth before she was kissing Olivia like she'd only kissed one other person. It was so different and oh so good. She briefly wondered why she had been so afraid of this, but then Olivia was standing up, taking over and then Natalia couldn't wonder anything else at all.
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