Title: Now and Then
Fandom: Guiding Light
Characters: Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera
Category: Drama, Romance, Angst
Word count: 2,564
Summary: Deja vu makes for some interesting discussions.
Spoilers: It should be noted that this was written before the spoilers for the recent storyline had come out or the episodes were aired, so I didn't know the reason for Natalia leaving town. They're deliberately left vague in here for just that reason. I don't know. I almost didn't post this now because it kind of feels dated, but well, lbecka was awesome enough to beta this for me, and so I'm posting it. *shrugs*
Author's Note: If you'd like to see it, the scene reference in this fic is this one here.
Disclaimer: All characters (Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera & Emma Spencer) and situations belong to Guiding Light, Telenext, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I'm not them.
Olivia's arm is around her back. Her side is pressed into the line of Olivia's body. She can feel the heat radiating outward from Olivia even through the layers of clothing separating them. It should feel awkward, Natalia thinks. She should be nervous, wary, watching all of the other people in the room and wondering what they're thinking about this little display of affection.
And it is little really. How often does a couple stand together like this? No one blinks an eye or looks twice. It's a common, every day, occurrence beneath the notice of anyone in the room. But for them it is not common. They may as well be shouting from the rooftops that they love each other. For them, it is loud. It screams for people to notice them. Natalia would hate the double standard if she cared at the moment. But right now all she's thinking about is Olivia's arm wrapped around her and how wonderful it feels.
Leaving was hard on them both. It felt as if her heart had been ripped out and she doesn't want to know what she did to Olivia. She knows - she does - but it's not something she likes to think about. It's what makes this moment so special and gives her the strength to stand out here, under the watchful eyes of all these people, staring with their judging eyes. It's what makes her stand tall and unashamed here with Olivia. She won't run anymore. There will be no more giving Olivia reasons to doubt her or her commitment to them.
She, Natalia Rivera, loves Olivia Spencer. It is just that simple and complex.
Natalia feels Olivia stiffen and she is jerked sharply back to the moment. Her attention focuses and she realizes immediately what had made Olivia flinch. Frank is walking toward them. Olivia's arm starts to slide down Natalia's back. She's letting her go. Olivia is always doing this. Always allowing her to stand on her own, but ever a silent presence at her back, willing to be there for her if she's wanted but distant enough if she's not. This time Natalia isn't going to let her get away with it.
Her arm is at the small of Olivia's back. They fit together naturally, as if they've stood together like this in a united front a hundred times before. Natalia isn't letting go. She holds Olivia there with her and looks up at Olivia. Her arm tightens just a little bit around Olivia's waist and their eyes meet. A connection springs up between them immediately. Natalia smiles gently. Her fingers itch to cup Olivia's face and hold her close. She aches to kiss her gently.
She feels Frank's eyes on them though, and she isn't ashamed. She couldn't be, standing here with Olivia, but there is knowledge of how she hurt this man, unintentionally, but undeniably. She loves Olivia, but she won't wound him anymore than necessary either. She owes him that much for breaking his heart.
"Frank," she says giving him a small smile, as she forces herself to look away from Olivia.
She shifts slightly, leaning even closer to Olivia, knowing the other woman's insecurities and wanting nothing more than to reassure her, to remind her that there are no more doubts in her mind about the way she feels about her.
"Natalia, it's good to see you."
He's smiling at her. The smile dims when he looks at Olivia. To her, he nods briefly without comment. The look stings Natalia, and pricks her normally docile temper. She feels a flash of heat across her cheeks. It's just a look. She knows she should be able to let it go. Natalia also knows the power of cutting looks, how deeply the disdain in someone's eyes can cut into your heart. She remembers all too well the looks she got when she was pregnant with Rafe, and even when she was older. It hurt then, that people looked at her that way, with hatred and disgust, because of the most precious thing in her life. It hurts no less now when that look is directed at Olivia.
Her chin comes up sharply, and her eyes narrow. If it wasn't for the thin smile on her face, Natalia would be glaring at him. Despite the anger she's feeling for the pain that Frank is deliberately trying to inflict on the woman that she loves, Natalia doesn't want to glare. She doesn't want what she's trying to convey to be lost in an emotional outburst. She wants to make her point clearly and succinctly. If she has to keep spelling it out for him, how much she loves Olivia, she will keep doing it over and over until he truly understands. It's never a hardship to express her love for this woman. It's always a joy.
"It's good to be back, Frank." She looks over at Olivia again, and lets the tenderness and love that she feels in her heart show on her face as she says, "I've really missed Springfield." She emphasizes the last word carefully so that he can't mistake her meaning. Beside her Olivia is fairly glowing at her words. She tears her gaze away from Olivia and looks back to Frank.
He's still smiling, but now he also looks like he's been sucking on a particularly sour lemon.
"Rafe's been going good. Maybe you could come over for dinner sometime."
Natalia nods gently. "We've been talking. He's going to come out to the farmhouse for lunch with Olivia and I after Mass on Sunday. But thank you for the offer."
"Oh, well, that's good." Frank looks surprised, and a little sad at the gentle reproof. "I, uh, guess I'll let you two ladies get back to your evening."
"Good night, Frank," Olivia says, addressing him for the first time. It's not mean or dismissive, but she's clearly no longer paying attention to him either.
Her gaze is solidly back on Natalia, watching her as she also bids Frank good night.
When Natalia looks back at her, her gaze is adoring. One hand comes up to cup Natalia's cheek. She leans over and presses a brief kiss to her lips - barely more than a peck.
"Have I told you lately how glad I am that you came back?"
Natalia smiles and tries to ignore the twinge of guilt in her heart for causing Olivia anymore pain. "Not in the last five minutes."
"Oh, good," Olivia quips. "I wouldn't want to be redundant."
Natalia leans into her hand. "I could never get tired of hearing how glad you are to have me around."
"Oh really? I guess you'll just have to get used to hearing that all the time, Ms. Rivera."
Natalia laughs. "I think I could get used to that, Ms. Spencer. In fact, I think I would love that."
"I love you," Olivia says with complete sincerity, the gentle teasing of moments before gone from her voice.
"And I love you too," Natalia whispers, caught in this woman's gaze, caught in this moment and never wanting to be anywhere else. "Never doubt that."
Olivia nods slowly, her eyes bright with emotion, agreeing to do just that - or to try, at least. It will be a difficult agreement for her to keep, Natalia knows. She's been hurt so many times. Even Natalia has inflicted her own wounds on Olivia's heart. She can't promise that she won't cause more in the future, but for now she just wants Olivia to know how much she loves her, and that she will never stop loving her. She wants Olivia to believe it, but she knows that some things take time. She is more than willing to take this time.
As she's looking at Olivia, something in her expression shifts. The way that she's looking at her is full of tenderness and love. A shiver runs down Natalia's spine. She's seen that look before. It's more than that, though. It's a feeling of 'deja vu', as if she's been in this exact moment before. For a moment, the memory is just out of reach and she's struggling to recall it. Then it comes back to her in an instant. Olivia holding her just like this, looking at her with this same expression, and saying things about her - beautiful things really - to the mothers' of two of Emma's schoolmates. At the time, she had thought it was just Olivia being Olivia, provoking a fight just because something had set her off. Now she wonders - could it have been? Had Olivia really felt that way about her then? She's certainly looking at her the same way now.
"Hey, you okay?" Olivia asks, breaking into her thoughts. Her other arm comes up and wraps around Natalia's waist in a loose hug. "Are you cold?"
Natalia shakes her head. Olivia must have felt her shiver. "No, I'm fine." Her arms drift up around Olivia's neck. There may as well have been no one else in the room.
"You meant it," Natalia breathes. "Back then. You really meant it." The revelation hits suddenly and knocks her world off its axis. She has known that Olivia loved her long before either of them spoke. She knows how long she has felt this way, but she had no idea that back then - that long ago - Olivia had felt this way.
"I really meant what?"
"What you said - in Towers. That day with those two mothers from Emma's class."
Olivia's brow furrows and she takes a little step back, startled by the sudden change of subject. "Of course I meant what I said to them. The way they were staring at us, making it into something it wasn't..."
"It wasn't?" Natalia pounces on her words, suddenly wondering if her thoughts moments before were wrong.
"It wasn't something salacious or wrong. There was nothing for them to stare at and judge. We were just out being a family."
Air leaves Natalia's lungs in a rush, letting out the breath she hadn't even realized she was holding. Relief floods through her. Olivia is still giving her a slightly confused look, although now it's tempered with remembered anger.
"What made you think of that?" Olivia asks.
"The way you were looking at me, just now." Natalia smiles and continues. "It was the same way - the exact same way you were looking at me that day when you were talking to those two women. I thought you were lying to them, but you weren't, were you?"
"Lying to them?"
"About what you said." For the first time Natalia stumbles. It's too much. "About me." She adds quietly, looking down.
Olivia still looks a little bit lost, but understanding is beginning to dawn in her expressive features. Olivia's thumb and forefinger find Natalia's chin and tilt it up so that she is looking at her again.
"When I said that I was happier than I'd ever been in my life, I meant it. When I said that you were an amazing mother, that you were smart and funny and absolutely gorgeous, I was being completely honest. I wasn't lying about a single thing. That was exactly how I felt - how I feel - about you."
Natalia sniffles at the words, and is as thrown by them now as she had been then. She knows that Olivia loves her and has loved her for sometime. Even if she can't pin it down to a precise moment, she's aware that her love for Olivia stretches back just as far. There are days when it seems like she's always been in love with Olivia, even when she remembers the arguments that they had and the horrible things that they said to one another. She can't imagine her life without Olivia, but hearing this confession of emotion makes it as real as the first time that she heard those words come from Olivia at Gus's memorial.
Another fragment of the memory pricks her consciousness and Natalia frowns.
"You called me a hottie."
Olivia laughs. "What can I say? You are."
Natalia frowns and pulls back slightly. "I didn't like it."
She feels Olivia stiffen under her hands. "Because I said it, right? If it had been Frank or some other guy it would have been just fine." Her voice is low and mocking, and Natalia hates it.
"No," Natalia says immediately, cutting off Olivia's train of thought before it can get any further. She frowns and then reconsiders. "Well, maybe. If it had been Frank or some guy who had said it, I would have expected it. I didn't expect it from you."
"Because I'm a woman."
"No, because of who you are. You challenge me to be more than I am, and right then you sounded like every guy who had ever hit on me in some bar where I was waitressing when all I wanted was to make it through one more shift and get home to Rafe." She shrugs. "And I really didn't like it."
Olivia pales so rapidly that Natalia catches her shoulder to steady her. She's seen Olivia faint too many times.
"Are you okay? Let's sit down." She pushes Olivia into a chair, disregarding the rest of the party-goers, and kneels down in front of Olivia's chair. "What's wrong?"
Olivia reaches shakily for Natalia's hand and clasps it between both of her own, holding them to her chest. "I never, never meant to make you feel that way."
"That's why you looked like you were about to pass out?"
"I hate hurting you. I never meant to do that. I was just so angry with those women - the way they were looking at us, like there was something wrong with us. I wanted to hurt them for that. I wanted to hurt them for looking at you and Emma that way. All I ended up doing was hurting you."
"You didn't hurt me. You stood up for us." Natalia shrugs. "I would have preferred that you didn't do it that way, but you are who you are and that's why I love you."
"Because of you. Just the way you look at me tells me how much you love me and that makes me feel so special."
"You are special. You're a-"
"A superhero, I know." Natalia wrinkles her nose a light blush brushing over her cheeks. "Where do you come up with these things?"
Olivia lets out a startled laugh. "I have an excellent imagination."
The low purr of her voice catches Natalia's attention with an unmistakeble jolt of arousal.
"You just wanted to see me in one of those skimpy little outfits they have to wear."
"Who me?" Olivia counters innocently. "I would never objectify you like that." The sincerity of her words is matched by the apology in her eyes.
Natalia smiles, as she pushes herself to her feet and holds out her hand to Olivia. "C'mon. What do you say we get out of here?"
Olivia accepts her hand and uses it to pull Natalia close as she stands. "Does this mean I get to have my way with you when we get home?"
When Natalia smile's it's full of mischief and promise. "Not if I have my way with you first."