Title: July 5th
Fandom: Guiding Light
Characters: Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, Emma Spencer, Rafe Rivera, Blake Marler, Frank Cooper
Category: Angst, Romance, Drama
Rating: NC-17 eventually, with mostly PG-13 stuff for now.
Word count: 36,471 (total)
Summary: It's the fifth of July. What will Natalia do?
Spoilers/Timeline Spoilers for everything through July 9th. Goes off canon after that.
Disclaimer: All characters (Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, blah blah etc.) and situations belong to Guiding Light, Telenext, Proctor & Gamble, etc. I'm not them.
Author's Note: Um, yeah. I got nothing.
Beta: Many thanks to aimlessla for looking over this massive thing for me, pointing out plot holes and my constant comma issues.
No matter that Olivia had watched Natalia get dressed in her suite at the Beacon - and helped - it was still a little bit surreal to see Natalia stepping out of her car, holding the door for Emma and herding the little girl out in front of her. Even though they had made it to the field after Dinah's last minute call, Olivia still felt like she was waiting, breathless and on tip-toe, for Natalia to change her mind. It didn't help that Bill and Lizzie's plans had been moved up, without warning.
In one way, Olivia supposed it was better - not as much time to stress over what might happen. But on the other hand, there was less time to prepare. Natalia had always hated rapid change, preferring plans and certainties. Still, she didn't look scared, a little nervous maybe, but her smile was bright as she held her hand out to Olivia.
Olivia smiled back as she stepped around the car and took the proffered hand. Natalia twined their fingers together and gave her a little squeeze meant to reassure.
"We're here," Natalia said almost too brightly. It could have been a statement of relief. Getting the three of them there, dressed and ready by the time Dinah had given them over the phone was no small feat, but Olivia knew it was more than that. It was about them as a couple, about standing in front of all of Springfield and declaring themselves just as surely as Bill and Lizzie were going to.
Apparently it was a day for declarations.
"Yes, we are," Olivia agreed, glancing over at Natalia as they strolled across the grass. "And you're okay with that?" she couldn't help but ask.
"I am," Natalia said and Olivia could almost believe her.
Olivia turned away quickly as tears welled in her eyes. She didn't want Natalia to see them. The devastation in her heart when she had finally realized that Natalia wasn't coming to the barbecue was still too fresh. So many things had changed since that day less than a week ago, bad things and wonderful things, but it had all left her feeling a little bit raw and emotional.
"Hey," Natalia said gently, her hand sliding up to Olivia's wrist and tugging her to a stop. "It's okay," she whispered, letting go to cup Olivia's face between her hands and waiting until she could catch her gaze. "I understand."
Olivia sniffed, glancing away. "I should go check on Emma. Make sure Dinah told her what she's doing."
"She's going to be great," Natalia said warmly. "And so are we."
"Don't make me cry," Olivia pleaded, her voice breaking. "It'll ruin my makeup."
A quick grin flitted over Natalia's lips. "Okay," she acceded to Olivia's wishes, knowing that there was only so much her love could take. "But I'll be right here waiting when you're done."
Olivia nodded, squinting into the sun. Natalia knew she was wishing for a pair of sunglasses to hide her eyes behind for more than one reason. Natalia couldn't resist and she couldn't let Olivia walk away like that. Quickly, before Olivia could go, Natalia kissed her. Ordinarily she would have settled for a kiss on the cheek, but she wanted nothing that she did today to be interpreted as merely friendly or platonic. With everything she did, she wanted to prove to Olivia that she was really here and not ashamed of anything about them.
So she kissed Olivia squarely on the lips and pulled back to Olivia's startled expression. Olivia nodded, looking slightly dazed as she walked away. Natalia watched her go for a moment and then started walking again herself, moving toward the groups of people gathered under the trees as Dinah and another woman soldiered things into order.
"Natalia. It's good to see you."
Natalia jumped, startled at the unexpected voice from just behind her. She relaxed almost immediately when she realized it was Phillip. That was another big change, one she couldn't have imagined months ago.
"It's good to be here," Natalia said with a smile. "Congratulations. Bill and Lizzie seem very happy together."
"They seem to be," Phillip agreed. "They deserve it. They've faced their share of difficulties."
Natalia nodded, not quite sure what to say to that. There was something in Phillip's voice that she couldn't quite place, something that reminded her more of the man she had first met waving a gun at a funeral than Emma's genial father.
"So has Olivia," Phillip said into the silence.
Natalia glanced over at him sharply. "I know." He had been one of those difficulties once, the scariest one she had ever seen Olivia deal with.
"I saw her, the day after you left," Phillip said, not looking at her but staring straight ahead. "She was at the church."
"The church?" Natalia couldn't help herself - she had to ask.
"She was looking for you. She couldn't find you anywhere and she was so scared. She didn't know what she had done wrong. She was afraid you were hurt or scared. All she wanted to do was find you so she could fix it. She called me to come get her, because she was too upset to drive herself home."
Natalia swallowed roughly. Her mouth was dry and she felt stricken by dread and regret at the knowledge of what she had done to Olivia.
"She didn't do anything wrong," Natalia whispered. "I know I hurt her, Phillip, but it won't ever happen again. I'm making it right."
Phillip nodded, his hands tucked into his pockets, looking supremely non-threatening.
"I've hurt her, Natalia. I don't make any excuses for that. But I don't ever want to see her hurt like that again. She's been hurt too many times in her life by people who claim to love her."
Natalia felt her chin tremble at the implicit accusation. She had wanted to be the one who was there for Olivia, who protected her and stood by her, instead of hurting her.
"I do love her."
"I just want her to be happy. She deserves that."
"And I'll make sure she is."
For the first time, Phillip turned toward her. "Today I'm watching my little girl get married. I don't want Emma to have to go through all the things that Lizzie did. I want her to be happy, to have a good childhood. You told me once what was necessary for that to happen. Now you need to know this. Olivia and Emma both need you in their lives, but if you run away from her again, Olivia will never let herself trust you again. Not really." His lips twisted into a bitter, knowing smile. "I should know."
He walked away without another word and left Natalia with a chill that wouldn't go away even under the warmth of a brilliant sun.
Natalia found Olivia standing alone on the edge of the woods. Olivia didn't hear her approach. Natalia touched the back of her elbow lightly, the barest brush of skin against skin. Olivia turned, startled, and Natalia tried to smile for her. The last thing she wanted to do today was worry Olivia more. She wanted - needed, desperately - to make things right with Olivia, to undo as much of the damage as possible.
A welcoming smile lit up Olivia's face. "Hey you," she said, her voice almost a purr.
The knot of guilt that had been tightening in Natalia's chest relaxed at Olivia's words and the obvious happiness in her voice. She wouldn't forget how much she had hurt Olivia, but she would learn how to move on, to put it in the past so that it didn't keep hurting them both. All she wanted was to make Olivia happy, to let them be happy together.
"Hey." Natalia hesitated, then slipped her arm around Olivia's waist. The ever-present urge to touch Olivia hadn't gone away now that she had finally given in to it. If anything it had intensified and left her torn, jonesing like an addict for her next fix but full of fresh uncertainties resurrected by Phillip's reminder. There was no doubt in her mind about what she felt for Olivia, but it was impossible not to wonder how Olivia could ever have forgiven her for the way Natalia had so callously abandoned she and Emma.
She didn't have long to dwell on it, however, as Olivia's arms encircled her and Olivia rested her chin lightly on Natalia's shoulder. There was something about the way Olivia was holding her, Natalia realized. It was just a little bit tentative, and that wasn't like Olivia at all. She stiffened in Olivia's embrace, about to pull away to turn and look at her. Olivia's arms tightened around her. It was just for an instant but long enough that Natalia froze, knowing that Olivia didn't want her to go. Worry made her heart begin to pump harder, but Natalia stayed where she was, waiting as patiently as she could for Olivia.
"Are you okay?"
Natalia frowned. "I was just about to ask you the same thing." She didn't try to step away from Olivia's embrace this time, just leaned back enough that she could see Olivia's face.
Olivia nodded hurriedly, then shrugged. It was an equivocal answer that tried to brush off the fear that hid beneath it. It would have been a poor disguise, even if Natalia hadn't known her so well.
"Tell me," Natalia said in a gentle tone that nonetheless brooked no disagreement.
Olivia rolled her eyes. Natalia didn't back down, her eyes boring calmly, gently into Olivia and refusing to let her slip away. Olivia huffed softly and glanced down.
"You were upset," she said flatly. "When you walked over here. Something happened."
Olivia was scared, Natalia realized. Scared that she wouldn't be able to handle whatever had happened, other people's disapproval. Lying to Olivia wasn't an option, but telling her what Phillip had said wasn't something she wanted to do either.
"Phillip came up after you left."
Olivia stiffened. "If he said anything about us..."
"Relax," Natalia said, putting a hand on Olivia's shoulder. "He didn't. He just wanted to speak to me for a minute. He cares about you and he wanted to make sure I was treating you right." She smiled again, but her lips quivered. She was all too aware of how little she had lived up to that recently.
"He had no right to-"
"Olivia," Natalia cut her off. "It's okay. He didn't say anything that wasn't true."
"What did he say?" Olivia demanded, suddenly realizing what he could have told Natalia. He had witnessed the worst of her breakdown outside the church and been the one to pick her up when she couldn't do it herself. If it had been anyone but Phillip it would have been humiliating, but they had already seen each other at their worst. Still, it stung. Olivia wouldn't pretend differently, and the thought of him telling Natalia what he had witnessed... well, she hated it.
Natalia swallowed, glancing down. "Just that you were looking for me while I was gone," she said it so quietly that Olivia could hardly hear her.
Olivia touched her chin gently, tilting Natalia's chin up until she was facing her again. "I would always go looking for you." She hesitated a beat. "Just please don't make me do it again."
Natalia shook her head, attempting to breathe past the lump in her throat. "Never. I know what I want now and I'm not going anywhere."
Olivia smiled, needing to break the intensity of the moment. "Not even if I wanted to show you the world?"
An answering smile tugged at Natalia's lips. "I guess I could make an exception for that." She squeezed Olivia's hand. "As long as you're with me."
"Not letting you out of my sight," Olivia promised, pulling Natalia closer to her. They lingered that way for several moments, happy to just be together after the trying events of the past week.
"Blake's waving at us," Natalia noted wryly, not making any move to pull herself from Olivia's embrace. She was more than content to remain where she was for the moment.
"She's just hoping that you'll save her."
"Save her?" Natalia asked, twisting her head up to look at Olivia.
"Let's just say I wasn't too happy when she came to tell me that you wouldn't be coming to the barbecue."
"Don't," Olivia said, brushing her thumb over Natalia's lips. "I didn't mean it like that."
"It doesn't matter, because you're here with me now, right?"
"Right," Natalia agreed, pushing back the twinge of guilt to give Olivia the assured and certain response that she needed to hear. For all of Olivia's bravado, Natalia hadn't missed the lingering hint of insecurity in Olivia's question. Natalia knew it would take time to disappear, but she would be there until it did.
"Blake's still waving," Olivia noted with a sigh. "Should we go see what she wants?"
Natalia nodded, considering. "It might be something about work," she said, reluctance coloring her words. She doubted it, but it was an out if Olivia wanted it. "I can just go..." she made a gesture with her hands.
"No," Olivia said, a little bit too quickly. "I'll go with you. I'm sure she just wants to catch up on the latest gossip."
Or see us together. Natalia was aware of the possibility. Part of her disliked it certainly; she wasn't fond of being the center of attention. She never had been. But being with Olivia, it was almost impossible not to be at the focal point in the room, the couple that all eyes found. Not because they were two women together, but simply because Olivia was who she was. She fascinated everyone, drawing their attention indiscriminately, whether they knew her, hated her or had never met her. They couldn't stop watching. Natalia couldn't say she didn't mind it, just a little, but it had nothing to do with being ashamed of them and she was determined to give Olivia no other reason to doubt her.
"The wedding starts soon," Natalia offered it as a consolation.
Natalia wouldn't tell her in a million years, but Olivia's familiar sarcasm was almost reassuring. She squeezed Olivia's hand and together they began to pick their way over the slightly uneven ground toward Blake and the group of people standing with her. Olivia still managed to cross the distance more smoothly than Natalia, even in her ridiculously high heels.
They had already crossed half the distance when Olivia realized that Frank was a part of the small knot of people standing with Blake. She tensed, her grip tightening on Natalia's hand. Natalia looked up and saw him a second later.
"We don't have to-" Olivia started, but Natalia cut her off.
"He's going to have to get used to seeing us together sometime," Natalia said. "He's this baby's father and I am with you. You're going to be a very big part of this baby's life. He's going to see a lot of us together. It might as well start now. Besides," she leaned in to Olivia's shoulder. "I'm not letting you go just because it might make Frank a little unhappy."
Olivia swallowed. "Well look at you, not trying to make everyone happy. I think I've been a bad influence."
Natalia flushed. "You are not a bad influence," she said firmly. "But I won't apologize for what makes me happy anymore."
"Me?" Olivia said with a coy little smile.
"You," Natalia confirmed. She tugged on Olivia's hand, stopping her in the middle of the field and raised her hand to cup Olivia's cheek, stroking the back of her fingers down downy, smooth skin. Natalia leaned in and pressed a sweet, tender kiss to Olivia's lips and then drew back until she was looking Olivia in the eye. "You."
Olivia's arm was wrapped firmly, possessively around her waist. Natalia liked the solid reassurance of it and loved the way Olivia was holding her close into her side. She hadn't missed the way Rick's eyebrows had shot up when he saw them sauntering across the field toward them arm in arm. It probably had more to do with the kiss Natalia had planted firmly on Olivia's lips just before that, but none of it really mattered. Not even the unhappiness at seeing them together that Frank wasn't making any effort to hide.
"Well, look at you two!" Blake said, her broad smile acting as a counter-balance to Frank's dour presence. "I'm so glad Dinah was able to get a hold of everyone. It's a beautiful day, a perfect day to celebrate two people in love, coming together to commit the rest of their lives to one another."
"Weddings," Michelle sighed dreamily, pulled into Blake's blissful romanticism and managing to tear her gaze away from Olivia and Natalia. She had seemed startled to see them together, her gaze flicking from Olivia's arm around Natalia's waist and back over to Olivia as if not quite certain she could believe what her eyes were telling her. Olivia had met her gaze with a steady look that had brought an embarrassed flush to her cheeks and made her look away again just as quickly. "I just miss him," Michelle continued quickly. "I wish Danny was here with me instead of stuck at home with two sick kids. I think I could marry him again."
"Oh, come on," Rick cut in. "You've already married him twenty-seven times or something."
"You can never have too many weddings," Blake cut in, taking Michelle's side. "It's so romantic," she cooed. "I might just have to borrow this for one of my novels."
Frank sighed loudly - pointedly - into the silence and stared out into the distance.
Olivia tensed. Natalia felt it but she was certain that no one else had noticed. Her grip on Olivia tightened, wanting to remind Olivia that she was there and she wasn't going anywhere, no matter how much Frank sighed.
Blake's lips pressed into a thin line and she looked momentarily torn, wanting to say something conciliatory and supportive to Frank but aware of Olivia and Natalia standing there too.
"I know it's hard, Frank," Blake said, reaching out and touching his shoulder. "Sometimes things don't work out. You just have to give it time and you'll find someone who's right for you." She couldn't resist a glance back at Olivia and Natalia, her smile growing a little brighter as it did. "Because sometimes it does work and you find something so special, you can't imagine your life without it." Her gaze grew a little sad and distant. "It was like that with Ross."
Natalia gave Blake a grateful smile. She knew Olivia still had hard feelings toward Blake as the bearer of bad tidings, but Natalia would be forever grateful to the woman for her immediate acceptance of them. She could so easily have reacted disapprovingly or sided with Frank, bestowing on him all the sympathy he certainly seemed to feel he deserved as the wronged party.
She had hated hurting Frank and she should have stopped the wedding sooner. That had been wrong, not just because of Frank, but because of Olivia and herself. But marrying a man she didn't love wouldn't have solved anything, wouldn't have done anything but made them all miserable. She was glad she hadn't consigned them all to that fate. Natalia just hoped that one day Frank would understand that too; she just didn't expect that day to be today.
"You're right, Blakie," Frank said with a smile that was clearly strained. "It's just harder when you lose somethingthat special."
"Frank." This time Blake's voice was more urgent, both chiding and pleading with him to stop this. It wasn't the time or the place.
But Frank was in no mood to be accommodating. "Don't 'Frank' me, Blake. I'm supposed to stand there and watch the two of them act all happy and couple-y, when she's pregnant with my child."
Michelle gave a little gasp and Rick's eyebrows shot up, but Blake didn't look taken aback at all.
"It was supposed to be us," Frank said, turning to direct his words at Natalia. "We were supposed to be the ones attending this wedding together, getting ready to announce the birth of our first little baby. We could have been so happy if she hadn't interfered."
"She didn't-" Natalia denied quickly, but Frank wasn't paying attention, caught up in his own pain and righteous indignation.
"You don't deserve her," Frank sneered, his focus shifting from Natalia to Olivia. "For God's sake, Olivia, how many of your conquests are at this wedding? You were married to the groom, the groom's uncle and the bride's father and grandfather - not to mention what you did to me and Pop."
"You're right, Frankie," Olivia agreed with a nod, her features inscrutable. "I don't deserve her."
"No," Natalia said, cutting in more forcefully and stepping forward into his space. "You're wrong, Frank." She glanced over at Olivia. "And so are you," she said with a gentler tone. Her hands were shaking, but it was from the intensity of what she was feeling, not fear. "I'm the one who doesn't deserve her, Frank. I'm the one who betrayed her, who left her and came back pregnant with someone else's child. And she took me back into her life, like I had never been gone. No," Natalia corrected herself, "More than that. Better than before. She loves me more than anything else, Frank. She sees me. You never did. You saw who you wanted me to be - this perfect wife and mother that you could adore. But I'm not that person. I have flaws. I ruined a marriage." She stopped abruptly jarred by what she had said, but no less determined. "I did that, Frank, to Gus and Harley. But not us. Olivia didn't make me love her. I already did. Long before I agreed to marry you and that was my fault - not hers. Blame me if you want, but you don't get to blame Olivia - not for this."
"You don't know what she's really like, Natalia. She manipulates people; she uses them, hurts them and throws them away. I don't want that to happen to you."
"You don't know her at all," Natalia countered, her voice shaking. "You don't know anything about Olivia."
"Oh, wake up, Natalia," Frank said, sounding disgusted. "She tried to steal your husband. It's who she is. She doesn't change. She just takes and takes until there's nothing left."
"Takes what, Frank? I have nothing she could want! A teenage son who hates her? A farm? A new baby on the way? I'm a real prize."
"Natalia-" Olivia cut in, unable to stay quiet any longer. "That's not-"
"I know," Natalia said, laying her hand on Olivia's arm reassuringly. "I know that you love the farmhouse, even though it's not a mansion. And my son too, despite the fact that he's been nothing but horrible to you. You'd do anything for him just like Emma and Ava - you already have." Natalia's smile gentled. "And you think this baby is a blessing not a curse. That's why I love you."
Frank shook his head. "You'll find out who she really is one day."
"I already know," Natalia said simply. "All of it, the good and the bad. I just hope one day you can see what I see, Frank."
"I hope you're right," Frank said, but it was clear that he didn't believe it. "For your sake. But I don't think you are. One day she's going to hurt you and you're going to realize I'm right." He took a step closer to Olivia, looming over her. It was a move meant to be intimidating, but Olivia didn't look phased, staring at him just as she had been, her arms crossed over her chest. "But if one of your little schemes ever hurts one hair on my child's head..."
Pain flickered over Olivia's face and was buried in an instant. "I know you don't believe me, Frank, but I would never hurt a child, especially not Natalia's child."
His eyes narrowed and he leaned closer until his face was by her ear. He whispered just one word. "Ava."
"So don't tell me what you wouldn't do, Olivia. I know your dirty little secrets."
"No, I don't want to hear it. Just...don't do what you do best. Don't mess this up, Olivia, because I will bury you if something happens to my child because of you." He spun on his heel and walked away, every line of his body taut and stiff with anger.
Olivia sniffed, turning away from the group still standing there, turning away from even Natalia. She couldn't face the comfort Natalia would want to offer, not right now. She strode past Blake and Rick and Michelle, who all looked a little stunned and refused to meet her eyes as she went by.
"Olivia, wait," Natalia called after her.
Her step slowed, but she didn't stop. She couldn't stop, not with this fear and rage choking her. What could she say to Frank? He had been there. He knew well enough what had gone on with Ava and she couldn't deny that she had once hired a hitman to kill her daughter. But she also couldn't forget the terror and utter desolation she'd felt when she had realized that Ava was the little baby she had given up and that she was responsible for her death. Even now it was like a stabbing pain in her heart. Olivia faltered, gasping, and reached out to a tree to steady herself.
"Olivia?" Natalia's cry was breathless and worried. She touched Olivia's back hesitantly and when Olivia didn't jerk away from her touch, let it linger. "Can you talk to me?"
Olivia shook her head. She didn't know what to say. She couldn't bear it now if Natalia realized that Frank was right.
"Okay," Natalia said softly, stepping closer, her hand slipping up over Olivia's shoulder until she was pressed up against Olivia from behind, enfolding her in an embrace. "It's okay. You don't have to say anything." She kissed her neck. "I love you."
Olivia shook in her arms, trembling violently. Rough bark bit into her palm. It was an odd thing to focus on but she needed something, that and the solid strength of Natalia, holding on to her tightly, were all that was keeping her from falling apart completely.
"You know that I would never do anything to hurt this baby, don't you?" Olivia asked, trying to choke back the emotions that were overwhelming her, as she turned to face Natalia, the tips of her fingers reaching out to brush the barely visible swell of Natalia's abdomen.
"Of course I know that!" Natalia exclaimed. She cupped Olivia's face in her hand. "I know you, Olivia Spencer. I know your good and your bad." A smile tugged at Natalia's lips. "I see all of you and I love it. I'm not going anywhere."
"How?" Olivia whispered. "How can you love me? I've done horrible things, Natalia - to you."
Natalia nodded. "We both have, in the name of desperation, of what we thought we couldn't live without. But you've done some amazing things for me too. It's not some great cosmic ledger, where your good deeds have to outweigh the bad."
Olivia arched an eyebrow, even in her current state unable to contain her skepticism at that.
"It's about love," Natalia countered. "And you love me. You prove that every day. So don't doubt yourself, because I don't doubt you."
The hesitance that was plain on Olivia's face was almost enough to break Natalia's heart.
"Frank's wrong. I hurt him and hurt his pride when I chose you. I hate that I wasn't strong enough to stop it before it got that far..." Natalia took a shaky breath. "But I would do it again - right now - to be with you. I wouldn't change a thing. And one day Frank will realize just how wrong he is. He'll see that you're a good mother. Emma is so lucky to have you and so is this baby."
Olivia sagged, her head dropping down to rest on Natalia's shoulder, her arms wrapping tightly around her, finally returning Natalia's embrace. "I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Well, lucky for you, you're never going to find out."
"I am lucky," Olivia agreed. "Luckier than I ever imagined." She clung to Natalia for a moment longer, refusing to let her go - not that Natalia was trying. Finally, she straightened, swiping at the moisture that had built up under her lashes, careful not to smear her makeup, and said, "We should get back."
Natalia nodded. Surely it was almost time for the ceremony to start. She glanced up and looked straight into her son's eyes.
"Rafe!" Natalia's exclamation came out in a gasp of surprise. She hadn't heard him approach and she had no idea how long he had been standing there. The confrontation with Frank had left her feeling drained, but there was no way she was going to allow him to take his temper out on Olivia, not after the damage Frank had already done.
"Ma." He bit his lip and folded his arms over his chest in a gesture so familiar, it made Natalia's heart ache. She missed her son. Not this angry man, but the kind boy she had raised. "You told Frank she'd done things, you know, for me." He wouldn't meet her eyes, staring down at the ground.
"She has," Natalia agreed.
"Yeah?" He asked, his voice harsh. "Like what?"
Natalia tensed, anger stealing back over her that he would chose this time - now - to take another shot at Olivia. She drew herself up, preparing to let him have it too, when she saw the slight stoop of his shoulders and noticed the way he scuffed at the ground with his shoe. He wasn't angry; he was shaken. His view of the world had suddenly shifted, leaving him reeling and he was looking for something to hold on to, something besides his anger with the world and everyone he thought had hurt him. Natalia could deal with that. She could give him the foundation to build on, starting with the knowledge that he needed about Olivia.
"She got you put in a better prison - one where you wouldn't get hurt."
Rafe was already shaking his head. "No, you did that. With the house."
"Which we wouldn't have had if she hadn't paid down the mortgage. I couldn't afford it, Rafe." Natalia sighed. "Making a deal with the Governor wouldn't even have been a possibility if it hadn't been for Olivia." It was her turn to glance down. "I never even finished paying her what was owed on it. I used the money to fly to Europe - to find you. And when I sold the house, she never asked for what I owed her either."
Natalia's hand clenched, an outward manifestation of her inward flash of anger at her ungrateful son. "No. She didn't turn you in when you came back to Springfield - and she could have. You had been nothing but disrespectful and hateful to her."
"She tried to steal Gus away from you," Rafe said indignantly, as if that justified everything.
Natalia shook her head. "I won't discuss that with you. Olivia and I made our peace about loving him a long time ago. It's time you do the same."
"Ma," he protested, but she stood firm.
"You want to know what she did for you?" Natalia didn't wait for him to respond. "She loved you when you hated her. She brought you your insulin in prison when I had forgotten it. She let her daughter love you, when she could have cut you out of her life like Alan did. She fought for you and for me. Who else has ever done that for us?"
The answer - no one - hung unspoken in the air.
Rafe still couldn't look up, but he nodded once. "I, uh, this thing with you and my Ma," he glanced at Olivia to see if she was listening. Their eyes met briefly and his gaze dropped. "I'm not, I can't...yet. But, you didn't have to do any of that stuff. I don't know why you did, but I guess I should say thank you. So..." He shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "Thank you." He took a step back. "I think Ash was waiting on me. I need to-" he gestured over his shoulder and fled.
"Huh." It was the last thing Olivia had expected from Rafe, today of all days.
"It's a start," Natalia said, leaning into Olivia. "It can only get better from here. He's not stubborn enough to keep holding onto this now that he realized he was wrong. He'll come around."
For the first time Olivia believed her. "I'm so happy for you," Olivia said softly. "I know how much it hurt you that he didn't approve of us."
"I'm happy for us," Natalia corrected her. "We're a family and that's all that matters."
Olivia smiled, letting herself hope tentatively. "I like the sound of that."
In the distance, they heard Dinah calling to everyone to take a seat so the wedding could begin.
"Sounds like it's time," Olivia said, holding her hand out to Natalia.
Together they crossed the field hand in hand, sharing a smile when their gazes met. A thought struck Olivia and she almost stumbled, steadying herself when Natalia's hand tugged on hers, gently restoring her balance. The little gesture, subconsciously done, only made Olivia more certain. The doubts that had been lingering inside her all day, pushed to the forefront by Frank and Rafe, made her heart race at the thought of what she was about to do though.
Olivia risked a glance over at Natalia. "We should do this some day, you know?"
"What's that?" Natalia asked a little distractedly, slowing down as she glanced back at Olivia.
"This," Olivia said, spreading her arms to take in everything around them. "A beautiful day, our family and friends, everyone we care about - and us - telling everyone how we feel about each other." She hesitated, almost holding her breath, waiting to see how Natalia would respond. "Someday. When we're ready."
Natalia's smile was beatific and showed off both her dimples to full effect. "I would like that very much."
"Yeah?" Olivia asked. Giddy with relief, she could finally breathe again.
"I wouldn't do it with anyone else."