Title: Five Moments That Shaped The Strangest Moment Of Francesca Rivera's Young Life
Fandom: Guiding Light
Characters: Olivia Spencer, Natalia Rivera, Emma Spencer, Francesca Rivera, Frank Cooper, Rick Bauer.
Category: Romance, Drama, Humor
Word count: 3, 028
Summary: The five moments that shaped the strangest moment of Francesca Rivera's young life.
Spoilers/Timeline Generally through September '09, though nothing terribly specific I think.
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: I've had this idea for almost a year now. All that to say...even I have no idea where I got this idea from at this point.
Beta: A big thanks to both aimlessla and Rysler for their very different but equally invaluable input about this fic.
Warning: This fic may leave you scratching your head. You may not want to read it if you have a family history of baldness.
"Oh, golly, well it must be nice to know how you feel, must be nice to be so sure!" Olivia yelled the words, hurling them at Natalia's back, her chest heaving and her heart aching even as they left her mouth.
Natalia hesitated, and for a moment, Olivia wasn't even certain if Natalia would turn and look at her. Was this really it? Were they over before they'd even had a chance to begin? Anger had already begun to drain away from her, leaving her scared and shaky.
"I'm not sure about anything," Natalia said, her voice trembling as she dropped her hands and turned to face Olivia. It was clear that she was on the verge of tears.
Just as it always did, the tremble in Natalia's voice, the sound of her despair, crushed Olivia and the rest of her anger departed just as quickly as it had come, leaving behind only hurt and uncertainty.
"Why are we fighting?" Olivia asked in a trembling exhale of breath, wanting Natalia to tell her...something, to help them ease down from this precipice upon which they had found themselves.
"You tell me," Natalia said in a small voice, sounding just as sad and frightened as Olivia felt.
They stood there in silence for a moment staring at each other before Olivia shrugged, summoning an answer. It was hard; she felt vulnerable and flayed open. But anything was preferable to watching Natalia walk away. That was what she clung to.
"Because it's safe," Olivia said with a sigh. "Because if we get along we have to ask what's next." She couldn't quite manage to keep her voice even throughout. It broke several times, revealing just how much she cared, how deeply this affected her.
"Ok," Natalia said with a tiny nod and shrug. "You're probably right," she admitted, pushing her bangs back away from her face.
Olivia swallowed hard. "I don't want to fight with you," she said with with a quick, decisive shake of her head.
"I don't even - I don't either. Can we - could we just start over?" Natalia blurted the words out in a rush, so quickly that they tumbled over themselves.
"Uh-huh," Olivia breathed her agreement out just as quickly, relief starting to flood her that maybe this wasn't the end after all. "I think I know a way," she said, not quite able to meet Natalia's eyes. "I don't know if you're going to be up for it," she added hesitantly, almost stubbing her toe at the carpeting as she finally made herself bring her gaze up to Natalia.
If she thought she had been scared before, this was a whole new level. Her heart raced - why wasn't her pacemaker doing something about that? - and her palms felt sweaty. Natalia flashed her a brief smile and looked nervous. Olivia hoped that she didn't look as sick as she felt.
The nervousness that Natalia was displaying tugged at Olivia's heart. She wanted - but then she was even more terrified of pushing Natalia too far and frightening her away. She opened her mouth to suggest something - anything - besides what she wanted.
The first thing that flashed into her mind was a hike. The ridiculousness of that thought hit her a second later. Natalia would know something was wrong with her suggestion. She wasn't stupid, and she would have to be to fall for something like that. But Olivia had no idea how a kiss would help them deal with their issues - or face their fears about finding out what came next between them.
Most of all, she couldn't stand the thought of Natalia still looking at her like that. Olivia shook her head, tossing her hair.
"You know what? Just forget about it. It was a stupid idea," Olivia said dismissively, dropping her eyes and opening her hand to let her suitcase fall from her grasp. She didn't want to need it.
"No," Natalia said, raising her eyes sharply and taking a step toward Olivia. "I'm sure it wasn't. Tell me?" she requested, flashing Olivia another smile. This one was a little more certain.
It encouraged Olivia to take her own step closer to Natalia. "I - it's actually, I mean," Olivia took a deep breath, and forced herself to stop verbally stumbling around. It wouldn't help either of them if they spent the weekend acting like skittish rabbits. Hadn't they just been talking about being friends before they were anything else?
"What?" Natalia asked again, even more gently.
"Can I?" Olivia whispered.
She saw the uncertainty - and lack of understanding - in Natalia's eyes, but Natalia nodded anyway.
Olivia couldn't help but mimic the gesture back to Natalia. She couldn't believe what she was about to do. She wasn't even breathing as she took another step toward Natalia and then another until she was standing directly in front of her. Tentatively Olivia raised her hand, letting it hang in the air until it didn't look as if Natalia was going to flinch away. Then she brushed the tip of her fingers against Natalia's cheek.
Natalia let out a small gasp and Olivia froze, her eyes flashing up to Natalia's. She wasn't sure what she was was hoping to see but feared revulsion - and there was none.
"Olivia," Natalia breathed her name out, the single word full of uncertainty and something more. Something that gave Olivia hope and made her leave her hand where it was.
Olivia forced herself to swallow, and summoned words. "Yes..."
"What are you..." It seemed like Natalia couldn't complete a thought either.
All Olivia could do was shake her head. Anything could break this spell they were both under and Olivia wasn't ready for this moment to slip away.
"Just... please..." Olivia whispered, not knowing what she was asking for really, but hoping Natalia would trust her anyway.
Olivia felt Natalia relax, not holding herself taunt under Olivia's touch. It eased something inside Olivia, and she gave Natalia a tiny, hopeful smile. Her thumb stroked Natalia's cheek. She marveled briefly at the softness of Natalia's skin. She could get lost in the feel of her, stand here all day and do nothing but this.
It told Olivia just how far she was gone. So many times before, Olivia had thought she was truly in love, but it was nothing like this. She had more to lose than ever before. It was terrifying, even more so when she saw how skittish Natalia was and how easily she could lose all of this. Hadn't she already come so close to walking out in her anger?
"I don't want to be just your friend," Olivia admitted. She could feel the fine tremors in her hand and wondered if Natalia could too.
"Okay," Natalia whispered, sounding more than a little dazed. She hesitated and then bit her lip. "What does that mean-" - for us?
Olivia brushed her thumb across Natalia's lips. She knew the rest of that question and had no more answers to it than Natalia did. There was something else she knew though, that they wouldn't find answers by endlessly questioning. That could only coming from doing - and living.
Olivia gave her head a little shake and then bent down, sweeping her thumb down away from Natalia's lips, just as she covered them with her own. She felt Natalia gasp against her and she stiffened, steeling her heart for Natalia to push her away. It wouldn't be the first time, but the devastation would be worse now - and harder to hide from herself.
But to Olivia's surprise, she wasn't pushed away. It was hard, but Olivia forced herself to stop, holding herself to the softest brush of her lips against Natalia's, tasting briefly what she might someday have, if she were so very lucky, and then making herself pull back, easing away from Natalia. She didn't realize her eyes had fallen shut until she had to open them to look at Natalia.
Natalia, who looked a little wild-eyed. A deer in headlights. Olivia waited for her to explode, to push her away, for the world to end. But none of those things happened. Instead Natalia's hand came up and clutched at her forearm, holding Olivia firmly in place. Then Olivia didn't have time to breathe as Natalia tilted her head and leaned toward Olivia, a hesitant and yet yearning expression on her face. She seemed so uncertain that it broke Olivia's heart.
Their lips met again, and this time it was Olivia who was frozen, letting Natalia dictate the kiss, remaining still as Natalia's lips claimed hers. Then came back for more, tasting Olivia's lips slowly and gently.
Olivia toes curled and she swayed slightly, only Natalia's hand on her arm steadying her. It was overwhelming and she couldn't help responding, deepening the kiss, her hand sinking back into Natalia's hair.
Natalia whimpered against her lips but showed no sign of breaking the kiss. She matched each tentative move of Olivia's with growing certainty of her own. Olivia could hardly believe it - overwhelmed and turned on as she was, she could hardly think. A voice in her head screamed at her for them to stop before things went too far. The rest of her just wanted more, more, more of Natalia. Olivia didn't think she could ever get enough of this woman, the softness and warmth of her, the taste and sweetness of her. It was dizzying.
"Olivia," Natalia gasped, wrenching herself away from the kiss. Her lips looked kiss-swollen and her hair fell around her face in a disheveled state.
"Right," Olivia breathed, forcing herself to think and focus. "You're so right. We should stop - right." She had said it as mainly confirmation to herself, that she knew where this was heading. She had already pushed farther than she had intended, but hopefully not too far. Hopefully Natalia wouldn't regret this too much.
Then she saw the flash of bewilderment, the hint of hurt that flickered across Natalia's face.
Olivia weighed her options. Her head screamed at her to not push things and ruin them as she had so many times before. But her heart said something else entirely. Her heart ached and wanted more purely than it ever had before.
"Or not?" Olivia offered. She could hardly believe it when she saw Natalia's tiny nod. Slowly she slid a hand around Natalia's waist and pulled Natalia close. Natalia came without hesitation. Fabric crinkled loudly as they pressed together. Olivia ran her fingers through Natalia's hair gently. She didn't think it was possible but she was more terrified now than she had been before. What if Natalia didn't like it? What if it was bad - really bad? "Are you sure?" her voice quavered.
Natalia nodded, a combination of yes, no, and then a tilt of her head that seemed to say maybe.
"Hey," Olivia said, unable to resist smiling at how cute that was. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to do."
It was Natalia's turn to swallow at that. She shook her head slightly.
"I didn't bring you here to pressure you," Olivia whispered. "All I wanted was a chance to spend time with you, talk to you."
"Me too," Natalia said and for the first time since they had kissed Olivia believed her.
"Then let's talk," Olivia said, leading Natalia over to the couch and folding a leg beneath her as she sat.
Natalia sank down beside her, close enough that their knees touched. Part of Olivia couldn't believe that they were really there, sitting so close.
Olivia tilted her head and waited for Natalia to finish her thought.
"I don't know what to say," Natalia admitted. "I know we have so much to talk about, but..."
"Then tell me how you feel?" Olivia requested with a soft smile.
"Nervous," Natalia said immediately. "Scared. Like I have butterflies in my stomach."
Olivia hadn't expected the part about the butterflies. She reached a hand out to touch Natalia's cheek. "I feel the same way, you know. All those things you said."
"Really?" Natalia sounded more surprised than Olivia had expected. "But you seem so..."
"Hey, this is all new to me too. You make me feel things I've never felt before," Olivia admitted with a shy drop of her chin.
Natalia touched her knee, the warmth of her hand burning through Olivia's thin yoga pants. "Can I..."
"What?" Olivia encouraged.
"Kiss you again?" Natalia requested, speaking so softly Olivia almost couldn't hear her.
"Any time you want."
Olivia stayed still, letting Natalia take the lead. She couldn't help but lean forwards though as Natalia shifted closer, drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
Their lips met again and immediately Olivia felt the difference. Natalia's growing confidence was electric. It hit Olivia in a heady jolt. She moaned into the kiss and realized that she had already fallen too far, too fast. But Natalia showed no desire to relent, deepening the kiss, pulling Olivia closer, slipping her hand beneath Olivia's shirt. She touched bare skin and Olivia shivered. It had been so long since someone had touched her this intimately and to know that it was Natalia touching her this way was almost beyond belief.
"We need to stop," Olivia gasped, pulling away shakily.
"Why?" Natalia asked. "Isn't this what we came here to find out? Whether we fit?"
"What if we don't?" Olivia voiced her most closely held fear. "What if..."
Natalia caught Olivia's hand and brought it to her lips. "I think we do."
"I don't want to scare you," Olivia admitted.
"You won't," Natalia countered. "You love me."
"I really do."
"Then show me," Natalia urged her. "Show me what we can have."
Olivia couldn't resist anymore. She didn't even try. Natalia owned her heart, mind, and soul and Olivia would give her whatever she asked - even this.
They laid side by side in bed, Natalia's head tucked up against Olivia's shoulder. Olivia's hand ran idly up and down Natalia's side. Natalia tried to stifle a shiver - with no success. Olivia raised her head to look at her.
"You okay?" she asked, unwilling to break the silence of the room with even a normal conversational tone, afraid she would ruin this moment they were lingering in.
"Yeah," Natalia leaned back enough that she could meet Olivia's gaze, a smile breaking gentle over her face. She wiggled in Olivia's arms, managing to get closer to her. "That tickled."
"Oh," Olivia said, her own smile growing in return.
Natalia must have seen the mischievous look growing in Olivia's eyes, because she gave a little shriek and jerked back. "Don't you dare," she admonished Olivia.
"What?" Olivia asked, her voice deepening, almost purring as she shifted, pushing herself up on her hands until she was covering Natalia's body with her own, one leg between Natalia's thighs.
Natalia shivered again, but pulled Olivia closer, her arms draped over Olivia's shoulders, fingers intertwined behind Olivia's neck. "Please," Natalia whispered, squirming again, and then deliberately wrapped her legs around Olivia's waist.
Olivia froze, the mischievous grin sliding off her face, to be replaced with a more serious look as she stared down at Natalia. She shifted her weight until she could cup Natalia's cheek with one hand.
"Are you really okay...with this? With us?"
The smile gradually fell away from Natalia's face. "I'm not sure," she said slowly, clearly still thinking as she spoke. Olivia tensed and Natalia caught her biceps, refusing to let her move away. She turned her head and pressed a kiss against Olivia's forearm. "I don't know how to reconcile this with everything I've always believed, but..." She looked up into Olivia's eyes and touched Olivia's face. Immediately Olivia leaned into her. "...what I felt with you was right and sacred. What I always imagined it could be, even if you aren't who I imagined."
"Me?" Olivia asked with a tremulous voice. "Or..."
"A woman," Natalia clarified, with a tiny smile, still keeping contact with Olivia, needing the reassurance as much as Olivia needed to receive it. "You are who I love."
"Yeah?" Olivia said, a smile slipping across her lips and growing by the second.
"You know you are," Natalia said lightly.
Olivia was about to deliver an equally sappy reply but was interrupted by a knock on the door. "Damn. I didn't order anything. Did you?"
"No," Natalia said with an uncertain shake of her head.
Olivia looked down at Natalia and sighed. There was no way she was getting out of this bed. "Go away," she called over her shoulder, loudly enough to be heard outside.
"Olivia," Natalia protested. "It could be important!"
"Then they'll knock again," Olivia countered matter-of-factly. She had barely spoken before the knocking came again.
Natalia gave her a pointed look and Olivia sighed.
"Damn it," she swore again, reluctantly letting herself roll off Natalia and flop onto her back. With surprising energy, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and strode across the room. Natalia watched her retreating form every step of the way.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Natalia called after her.
Olivia looked down, only then remembering that she was naked. She tossed Natalia a sultry smile. "Oh, right." She detoured briefly to the closet pulling out one of the spa provided robes and putting it on, tossing the other one to Natalia. It landed on the end of the bed.
Natalia eyed it for a moment, reluctant to move, but if someone was at the door... She sat up enough to pull it around her and belted it. Just in time. She glanced up to see Emma flying through the door, darting past Olivia and throwing herself straight into Natalia's arms.
"Emma!" Natalia couldn't help but exclaim. "What are you doing here?" Her voice dropped and she took a more serious tone. "Did you run away again?"