DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: April 2nd episode and probably the ones preceding that just to be safe.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Words Not Spoken
"Times like this don't come along everyday," Olivia Spencer announced with a smile that appeared to almost everyone in the room, like the smile of a happy best friend. Only Natalia Rivera heard the slight tremble in the voice, saw the truth in those slightly glazed, piercing eyes and she felt her heart constrict with near panic.
"Olivia, you don't have to give a speech," Natalia said with an anxious laugh. Oh, for the love of all that's good, Olivia, please don't make a speech, she begged silently.
Olivia wasn't a mind reader, so she started to speak. Natalia's knees grew weaker with every kind word that the intoxicated woman was saying and with every crack in the normally self assured voice. It was when Olivia began to reveal what it was she'd never told her that Natalia's coordination faltered completely and she dropped her glass, shattering it. The symbolism in that was almost too much to bear. She didn't know if she dropped the glass in panic, anxiety, or if it was God's way of stopping this situation from growing even worse. She was surprised to discover that at just that moment, she didn't care.
Every the vigilant fiancé, Frank was cleaning up her mess, while Billy and Josh Lewis teased him. All Natalia heard was Olivia's voice breaking, right along with her heart. All she saw was the tears that dampened that hauntingly beautiful face. Always before when Olivia was hurting, either physically or emotionally, Natalia had been the one to prop her up, to comfort her. Now, it was so obvious and had been obvious all evening with every glass of champagne her friend had tossed back, that this party was killing her, but Natalia couldn't help this time. She was the one who was doing it to her.
The scream of frustration stopped just short in Natalia's throat as she felt this situation spinning so far out of control, she didn't know how to stop it. Frank's constant presence was not helping. Should a woman feel so smothered by a man she'd just agreed to marry?
I can do this, the tall, slightly tipsy woman told herself as she watched Frank Cooper hover over Natalia as if afraid she was going to escape. Do it, she prodded the other woman silently. Still, Natalia stayed silent, watching her every move. Watching her every drink. She knew that if Natalia hadn't known how she felt before tonight, she sure as hell did now. Olivia smiled briefly as she thought that perhaps she should have gone with the tactic she used before when she had to explain the ramifications of Emma's essay. That seemed to have worked quite well. Her lips still tingled when she thought about that kiss. And about how long it took for Natalia to pull away from her.
Olivia knew that she was making the younger woman very nervous. Good. She had no intention of blurting out her feelings in front of a room full of people whose business it really wasn't, or in front of Father Ray. She didn't want to embarrass or hurt Natalia. She only wanted to love her.
Finally she gathered up her resolve and started her speech. She was quite proud of the fact that her voice didn't come out slurred at all. She would have appreciated it if the uninvited Lewises had of stopped interrupting her though. This was hard enough without the interruptions.
"You have changed my life forever, with your grace, optimism and your faith and I'm so grateful for that. And I've also never told you how "
Just before she could say what she wasn't even sure she was going to say, Natalia spooked and dropped her glass.
Oh god DAMNIT, Olivia cried out in her mind. On the outside, she just cried. Natalia went from staring at the broken glass as if curious about how it got on the ground, to watching Frank flutter around her as if she were incapable of picking up the mess herself. When her eyes met Olivia's they were a combination of panic and heartbroken, with a dash of sympathy for Olivia's pain thrown in. That last piece almost had Olivia running from the room. She'd told Natalia once before she didn't want her pity. That was still true. More so than ever. She thought she could handle anything but pity from the woman she loved.
She watched and waited as Frank dutifully got his fiancée a new glass of champagne. Natalia's frightened dark eyes met hers, and seemed to be shouting her confusion, but Olivia couldn't help her. This was a choice Natalia was going to have to make by herself.
FINALLY, she was able to finish the speech that seemed to have taken far longer than it should have, and that had drained her to the point of exhaustion. She realized as Frank came back in that she had to change what she was going to say. She just wanted to end it, but she would not let this night pass without telling the other woman how she felt. Even if it had to be buried in a different message.
" She has someone who'll love her as she deserves to be loved." Natalia's knees almost gave out at those words and the look being directed at her. She could sense Frank beaming, believing that those words were about him, but Natalia knew. Olivia had just told her she loved her and Natalia's heart nearly stopped.
Of course she knew Olivia loved her. She'd known for a while, just like she knew she was in love with Olivia. She never thought she'd ever hear it though. Even though it wasn't the personalized way that other people get to say "I love you," Natalia had no doubt that the message was for her and she wanted to cry. She was never so glad in her life as when the guests all left to see Reva. Now if Frank would only leave. She desperately wanted some alone time with Olivia. Nothing would be spoken, of course, but she missed it. She lived for those moments when it was just the two of them, or the two of them with Emma. How was she going to go through with this marriage? How was she going to get out of it?
After what seemed to be the longest night of her life, everyone was finally on their way out the door. Frank, of course, wanted to stay. Then he wanted to take her out. She just wanted him to leave and she hated herself for that. She finally convinced him to go. Suddenly the guilt that she was more than likely going to hurt the nicest man she'd ever known, forced her to call him back. She had to say something.
He turned to look at her and her guilt quadrupled as she knew what he was hoping she would say.
"I'm a lucky woman to be so loved," was all she was able to manage. She did mean that. Any woman would be lucky to have such a man love her. But her words were only for Olivia, who she knew full well was standing in the doorway. She'd always known when the charismatic woman was near. It was the best way she knew how to tell the other woman. She couldn't say "I love you," because Frank would believe that it was for him and she wouldn't couldn't do that to him. She only hoped Olivia understood, as she had understood Olivia.
Olivia had reached the kitchen just in time to see Natalia kiss Frank. Well, just kick me while I'm down, why don't you? She thought bitterly. Wondering why she felt the constant need to torture herself, she watched the goodbye.
"Frank? I'm a lucky woman to be so loved."
It took a moment for those words to make their way through the champagne clouding her mind, but eventually the words sank in.
She didn't say "I love you," Olivia thought numbly. She didn't say 'I love you,' she thought again. It seemed important that a newly engaged woman, sending her fiancé home after their engagement party, couldn't say those three little words. Suddenly she considered Natalia's choice of words. Oh my god. She knows I'm here. Those words were for me. Those two realizations caused a small ray of hope to fill her and that resulted in the first, if somewhat tiny, true smile she'd had all night.
After Frank had left, Natalia turned and finally acknowledged Olivia standing there.
"Hey," she offered with the nervous smile she'd been wearing all night.
"Um, I'm going to start cleaning up the living room." And she ran. As always, she ran away. Olivia couldn't find it in herself to be upset. Natalia was nothing if not consistent. That was one of the things she loved about her. But Olivia was tired of chasing. She grabbed a broom and headed to the living room.
Natalia immediately protested Olivia doing any cleaning, saying that she'd done enough.
Not near enough, Olivia thought, feeling the flicker of her old determined self starting to reappear. They battled over the broom for a few moments and then Natalia grabbed her hand. Olivia nearly collapsed on the spot.
"Let go," she said with a laugh, let go, before I do something incredibly stupid.
When Natalia started to thank her for the speech, Olivia had to stop her. She knew that neither of them could handle this particular discussion right then.
"I just want you to be happy," she said sincerely. And though it was painful to say the next part, she had to. For Natalia's peace of mind. "I'd never do anything to interfere with that. Ever."
She turned and walked toward the stairs where she began to sweep. She felt Natalia's eyes on her and she began to tremble. Oh please go away, she whispered in her mind. She was about two seconds away from saying to hell with Frank, friendship and everything else and kissing Natalia until she realized what she was throwing away.
The tentative voice caused a low whimper from Olivia's parched throat. Where was a champagne glass when she needed it?
"Hm?" She didn't look up from where she was sweeping. She saw Natalia's feet before she realized the other woman had even moved.
"Look at me," came the soft order. Olivia remembered the last time she'd said that. Olivia had been so damned close to telling her everything then. Why didn't she? Why didn't she do it? Then they wouldn't be in this mess.
Lost in her thoughts, she jumped when she felt warm long fingers on her chin, pulling her face up to meet Natalia's intent gaze. Her eyes slid shut as the fingers moved until the full hand was cupping her cheek, just like once before. This time, Olivia allowed herself to enjoy it.
"Don't do this to me, Natalia. I can't take it." She despised the pleading tone in her voice. Olivia Spencer never begged.
"I can't either, Olivia. I need you."
So many times, Olivia had been the one to say it. Now it was Natalia's turn.
"You can't. You're engaged, unless you've suffered a sudden memory loss," Olivia said with a little smirk.
Natalia frowned. Olivia had retreated to sarcasm. That meant she was about to retreat and Natalia had endured enough torment for the evening.
"What?" Olivia snapped in desperation. "What do you want from me?" She'd thought she'd cried about as much as she could earlier, but here she was crying again.
"Excuse me?" she asked through her tears.
Natalia couldn't help it, she smiled. Olivia was a formidable woman and was always so cute when she was befuddled.
"I need you to kiss me. I need to know that what we're feeling is real and not just a result of circumstances."
"Then what?" Olivia asked, already moving closer.
"Then, we'll deal with it then. Yes?"
Olivia shuddered. The emotions were running rampant through her now. She denied Natalia once before. She denied herself. She'd be damned if she'd do it again.
"Yes," she whispered. As before, she put her hands on Natalia's face and pulled her toward her. This time she was far more gentle, knowing that the younger woman wouldn't pull away. Aside from their brief little kiss a few months earlier, neither Natalia nor Olivia had ever kissed a woman before, but it seemed to come so naturally. When their lips met and tongues began to explore, both women knew that their world would never be the same again. It would be better.
No one has ever kissed me like Olivia, was the only thing Natalia could think after Olivia let her up for air.
They stared at each other for a long, honest moment and then without another word, Natalia's arms went around the taller woman's shoulders and held the back of her head, almost afraid Olivia would run again.
"I love you, Natalia," Olivia whispered simply.
Natalia's eyes watered at the pure emotion in the strong woman's voice. "I love you, too."
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