Title: Eleven Weeks of Red Roses
Fandom: Guiding Light
Characters: Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera
Category: Angst, but the good kind. Romance, Drama.
Word count: 2,143
Summary: Olivia can't do this anymore, but Natalia persists.
Spoilers: Generally for everything before 8/19/09 although I don't really think any specifics are mentioned. .
Author's Note: Hehe. Many thanks to both q_wordy13 and ccgirl31 for betaing this. Both of your thoughts were very helpful. And, uh, dude, I'm like ninety percent certain I have the right amount of weeks now....I think.
Disclaimer: All characters (Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, Emma Spencer & Fetus Rivera) and situations belong to Guiding Light, Telenext, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I'm not them.
"I can't do this anymore." Olivia admits in a broken whisper. "I can't."
All Natalia wants to do is go to her and hold her, comfort her and wipe away her tears. But she forfeited the right to be that person to Olivia when she left Springfield, and she's slowly coming to realize that. With it comes the realization of how badly she's hurt Olivia. She would give anything to undo that hurt, but she knows herself well enough to know that if she had chosen differently she wouldn't be here now. She's come back stronger and more determined than before. She needs to use that strength to show Olivia that she won't give up - won't walk away from her again.
"I'm not going anywhere," Natalia tells her. "I will be here for you whenever you need me or want me. Anytime."
"I don't," Olivia says, forcing the words out past the lump in her throat that's choking her. "I don't need you." And then she walks away.
Natalia watches her go. She wipes away a tear, but refuses to give into the sobs that want to burst out of her. "I'm not going anywhere," she repeats, even though she knows that Olivia can't hear her. She walks back to her car with determination in her step.
Three days later Olivia gets the first bouquet of bright red roses. They're sitting on her desk in a large glass vase when she walks into her office on Monday morning. They draw an intrigued smile out of her, and she tilts her head as she goes to examine the card that she can see dangling off one thin stem.
When she turns it over the first thing she notices isn't the words, but Natalia's name signed in big, bold letters, as if to prove she isn't ashamed of putting her name to the contents of the note. Only then does her gaze drift back up to take in the rest of the note.
"I'm not going anywhere. I love you. Forever."
The words hurt, knifing into her already aching heart. Without a second thought, Olivia sweeps the flowers - vase and all - off her desk and into the trash can beside it.
Wracking sobs envelop her again and she's panting so hard, caught up in the grip of emotion, that she can hardly breathe.
"Stop," she chokes out. "Please stop."
When the second dozen arrive a week later, Olivia doesn't look at the note. She resolves to ignore them. She does the same thing for the third week as well.
The fourth week she refuses to come into the office, scheduling meetings that keep her out of the office all day. She leaves a voice mail for Greg and asks him to get rid of them without explanation. Olivia assumes he knows something of what's going on. Her staff is nothing if not curious, but at this point she doesn't even care if he's read Natalia's boldly signed note himself.
She does the same thing the fifth and sixth weeks. The only problem is the thin ring of water that the vase always seems to leave on her desk. Greg never remembers to wipe it up, and it seems to taunt her just as much as the flowers did. She's always forgetting it's there and setting papers in it before she can wipe it up and then cursing when they're ruined.
The first time - two weeks later - that she goes to call out to Natalia in frustration to help her clean up the mess it's created, Olivia blanches and falls back into her desk chair. Her hands clench at her sides, and she runs one hand wildly through her hair before she stands up, quickly grabbing her purse as she heads toward the door.
This has to stop.
"Natalia!" Her car door slams behind her and Olivia flinches as the memory of standing in front of another place that she was barred entrance to and screaming for Natalia resurfaces. This time, however, the door opens for her. Olivia wishes it could have happened the other way around. That might have made a difference. This - this is just pouring salt into the wound that's already eating further and further into her heart.
"Olivia." She can't be blind to the mood that Olivia is in, but Natalia is still smiling and looks glad to see Olivia as she steps out onto the farmhouse porch. Her brow furrows. "Is everything okay?"
"Stop sending me those damn roses."
"Olivia..." Natalia starts toward her, but Olivia backs away again. She can't stand the gentle tone of Natalia's voice, the pitying, pleading, loving note that's driving her insane.
"I mean it," she bites out, and then stomps her way back to the car.
The car spits gravel, she pulls away so quickly, but she has to stop at the end of the driveway as the road in front of her dissolves into a blur. Tears stream down her face, and she beats her hand once, sharply against the steering wheel. It doesn't help.
Neither does the quick glance back into her rear view mirror that reveals Natalia still standing on the porch watching after her.
The next week she tells herself it doesn't matter. She is not interested in whether or not Natalia has sent her more roses. She doesn't care. She simply doesn't want the bother of it any more. It's over.
But she gets to work half an hour early. The vase is sitting on her desk, exactly where it has been for the past nine weeks. When Greg finally comes in fifteen minutes later to take them away, he's surprised to see her already hard at work.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Spencer, I didn't realize..."
"It's okay, Greg." Olivia cuts him off, without looking up from the report she's scrutinizing. "Just leave them."
It's just not worth the effort, she tells herself. And at least this way, she can avoid the damned water ring. Besides, she's Olivia Freakin' Spencer. She's not afraid of some puny flowers.
It's the following Monday when she walks into the office and notices the sudden absence of her nemesis. She tells herself that she doesn't miss them, that she's glad that they're gone. It's about time that Natalia finally realized that they were really through. But she can't dismiss the ache in her chest that never leaves.
She's happier than she's ever been to escape her office at the end of the day and Olivia doesn't think much of her decision to stop by Company on the way home to pick up dinner for she and Emma. She's been avoiding it since Natalia returned. She doesn't particularly want to face the judging stares - or worse - see Natalia and the Coopers acting like some big happy family.
She isn't really surprised when she sees Natalia sitting at the counter talking to Blake.
"Olivia," Blake sounds happy to see her. "What can I get you?"
Olivia smiles back. Maybe they can pretend this happens all the time. Nothing unusual here. Move right along. She can't help the way her eyes keep sliding from Blake's questioning face to Natalia's swollen abdomen. It's masochism, that's what it is, Olivia decides. It's not that she cares. Because she doesn't. Clearly.
"Two Buzz Burgers, with the works, with french fries and sundaes, Blake. I want to surprise Emma."
"How is she?" Natalia asks.
"Don't." Olivia snaps. "You don't get to ask about her. Not if you can't even manage to send a lousy weekly bouquet of flowers." She abandons the food, pivoting on her heel and walking out the door without giving Natalia a chance to respond.
She berates herself all the way back to the car. Isn't Natalia giving up what she's wanted all along? It was inevitable, wasn't it? She's just been proven right at last. So why isn't she happy about it?
With Emma safely ensconced at a sleepover that night, Olivia is rattling around in her Beacon suite alone. She considers and discards the idea of going to Towers for a drink. Oblivion is tempting, but she's been making the effort to pull herself together for her daughters, and going and getting drunk is directly against Rick's best medical advice.
The knock on her door startles her. She hasn't ordered room service. Olivia yanks the door open without looking. At this point, anyone is a welcome distraction.
Anyone except Natalia.
"The florist's delivery truck broke down. They called me ten minutes after you left Company."
Olivia stares blankly at the obviously smaller bouquet of flowers in Natalia's hand. She's still reeling from Natalia's presence and her matter of fact delivery.
"There's five of them."
Natalia grimaces. "I'm sorry." The heartfelt depth of apology in her tone is far more than is necessary for a deficit of roses. "I went all over town looking for roses. These were all I could find." She bites her lips. "I stopped everywhere I could think of looking for them, but I wanted you to have these."
"You shouldn't be out. It's ten o'clock at night. You're pregnant."
"I know, but it's important to me for you to know that I haven't quit. I'm not going anywhere, Olivia."
I love you. Forever.
The words hang between them, unspoken. By now, both know them by heart. Olivia bites at her quivering lip to make it stop. She can't do this.
"You promise?" It is half-plea, and half-command.
"I swear to God, Olivia, that I will never leave you again." Natalia means it with every ounce of her being. That day, months ago, she couldn't stand before God in His church and make her vows to Frank because it would have been a lie. Here and now, she makes a vow to Him, and hopes Olivia will realize and understand the seriousness of what she's promising. The Church will never marry them, but she doesn't need the Church to bind herself to this woman for the rest of their lives.
In front of her tears began to leak out of Olivia's eyes and then they begin to stream down her face faster and faster, until Olivia is sobbing. She curls in on herself, her hands going around her waist. Natalia reaches out slowly, one hand cupping Olivia's cheek and the other going to her shoulder. Slowly, she brings Olivia closer to her and holds her as she sobs out all of her heartache.
A month later
There's a dozen red roses sitting on Olivia's desk when she walks into her office on Monday morning. She laughs and shakes her head as she walks over to them. She flips the card open and runs her fingers over the bold lettering of Natalia's name with a reverent caress. Above it is the same familiar note. Today it only makes her smile grow as she walks around her desk and takes a seat.
"Hello?" Natalia sounds slightly breathless when she answers the phone, and Olivia wonders what she's been doing, and if it's on the Doctor's list of approved activities. It seems Natalia is almost as stubbornly resisting the restrictions placed on her as Olivia was when her heart was still healing. Well, turnabout is more than fair play as far as Olivia is concerned and she's doing more than her best to ensure that Natalia isn't overdoing it.
"Hey. I was just looking at some pretty flowers sitting on my desk."
"You wouldn't happen to know anything about how they came to be here, would you?" Olivia asks with a knowing smile as she leans back in her chair.
"I didn't want you to forget." Natalia admits seriously. "I mean it, Olivia. Every word it says on that card, and every promise I've made to you. I mean it."
"I know," Olivia says simply. "I believe you." There's silence and then she hears the unmistakable sound of Natalia crying. "Please don't," she pleads. "I hate it when you cry. We've both cried enough."
Natalia sniffs, and then sniffs again. "I'm sorry. I just...I never thought I would get to hear you say that to me."
"It's okay." Olivia hesitates and makes a decision. "I'm going to take the rest of the day off. Can you meet me for lunch?"
"S-sure," Natalia agrees. "I would love that."
"Good." Olivia leans into the phone as if it will bring her closer to Natalia somehow. "I want to see you. Last night was everything to me.
"Me too." Natalia says gently. "Me too." There's a pause. "Do we have to wait for lunch? Can I come pick you up from the Beacon?"
"I would love that." Olivia smiles tenderly. "I love you."