Title: One Universe to the Left
Fandom: Guiding Light
Characters: Frank Cooper, Natalia Rivera, Olivia Spencer
Category: Romance, Drama, Humor, Angst
Word count: 4,852
Summary: What if...the world was completely different? What if...one little decision could change everything? Maybe it would be a bizzaro world without shrimp. Maybe...
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: Like the fpreg fic, I've been planning to write this one for about a year now. Just a little under actually. And why you ask would I want to write something like this? As a challenge to myself, to see if I could do it, to see if I could make it believable. So I wrote this for me. Read it or not as you want. I'm not expecting you to like it.
Beta: Beta free on this one, though the usual suspects have read it already.
It was late, far past Emma's bedtime - had she still lived there. Even Rafe would be asleep, wherever he was, staying under the Army's roof, abiding by their rules as he went through basic training. But Natalia was still up, sitting at the table, head in hand, waiting patiently. She had a sleepy smile on her face, lost in thought, though she wasn't thinking of anything in particular, just letting her mind drift.
It had been a good day - but busy. Tomorrow promised to be more of the same, but Natalia didn't mind. She liked her days filled. She had that privilege now, days that were full but didn't exhaust her to her limits and beyond. Natalia was grateful for that, and for so many other things.
And Olivia had been the one to make it all possible. Natalia smiled, just at the thought of her best friend - the one person she knew would always be there for her if she needed it. It had felt like pushing when Olivia had begun to nudge her none-to-gently towards Frank - and it had been. But Olivia only knew how to do things one way - big and splashy. It wasn't the way that Natalia was accustomed to getting things done, but she had slowly grown accustomed to it over the time she had spent working for Olivia. It wasn't the solution all the time, but sometimes...sometimes it worked. And Natalia had ended up married to the man of her dreams, a man she adored and looked forward to coming home to each day.
Natalia touched her rounded belly. And now they were going to have a baby. To say that she had been stunned when she had found out that she was pregnant during the summer was putting it mildly, but once she'd had a chance to think about it, it had seemed so right. Sleeping with Frank after Coop's death hadn't been her best decision; it had been rushed and wrong and not coming from the right place at all. It had taken her a long time and a lot of understanding from Frank to conquer that feeling. But now, as a happily married woman, what could be wrong about bringing a baby into their lives? A baby that they would both love and adore from the moment she was born.
This baby would even have the chance to be surrounded by friends and family from the moment she was born - all the people that would love her the most - Natalia thought it was wonderful.
There was the familiar sound of a key in the lock, the door handle jiggling fitfully and the clatter of the door swinging open. Natalia had to smile. No matter how hard he tried, Frank had yet to master all the small idiosyncrasies of the farmhouse. Sneaking in quietly late it night still wasn't a skill he had acquired.
"Hey, Baby," Frank said, noticing her as he turned back around, after making sure the door was locked back behind him. "What are you still doing up?" he exclaimed, crossing the few feet between them and catching her face in his hands to give her a light, hasty kiss in greeting. His hands were already full; the cool metal of his keys brushed against her cheek. Natalia smiled. This was normalcy.
"I missed you this morning," Natalia said softly. "You were gone before I woke up and I wanted to see you - really see you."
"I'm so sorry, Baby," Frank gushed. "I know I've been working crazy hours, but I'm working on a major case. I've been having to put in a lot of hours; there's no way I'm not finishing this up before our little girl gets here. I want to be able to spend every second with the two of you."
"I know," Natalia said, a gentle smile curving over her lips. "I get it, and I love how important your job is to you. I just wanted to see you tonight, that's all."
Frank grinned back at her. "I'm so glad you did." He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "I've missed you too, you know?"
"Really?" Natalia said in a tiny, cute, impossible to resist voice.
"Here," Natalia said, pulling away from his embrace and stepping across the stove. "I kept dinner warm for you."
Frank's eyes lit up hopefully. "Your chicken and rice? Baby, you shouldn't have - you didn't have to. I could have gotten something when I came in."
"I know," Natalia said with a little shrug. "But I wanted to, to do something for you. You've given me so much, Frank Cooper."
Frank just shook his head. "No, I'm the lucky one."
Natalia wrinkled her nose. "Agree to disagree?"
"Whatever you say," Frank said with a grin, as he sat his plate down and began to dig in. "Did you ever hear back from Rafe today? I know you were worried."
"Oh, he's fine," Natalia said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "He called; we talked." Honestly she wasn't sure what to say beyond that. It had been a five minute conversation; she'd had no idea what to say. There was this distance between them lately that she couldn't seem to bridge. Maybe it was growing up, growing apart. The army was his new dream; he knew she didn't approve. It made him surly, barely respectful. She worried about him every single second. He hated the burden of that too.
They had murmured a few exchanges about what he was doing - it hadn't assuaged Natalia's worries - and she had told him about the baby's most recent antics, kicking and fluttering wildly inside her. He had brightened, coming alive with excitement at being a big brother until those few sentences ran out and they were left with nothing to say once again.
Natalia hated it but she wasn't sure how to change it, not without forcing Rafe's hand and she wasn't ready to do that - yet.
"He's busy," Natalia admitted. This time she couldn't hold back the sniffle. "The army's training him to be a killer. That's the last thing I ever wanted for my baby, Frank. He could, he could..." she shook her head. She hadn't been able to finish that sentence yet, but she knew. And so did Frank and Olivia.
"Natalia, there's no reason to worry yet. He hasn't even made it out of basic training."
Logical, pat, but it didn't make Natalia feel any better.
"He's a grown man, Natalia," Frank said beseechingly. "He has to grow, test his limits, see what he's capable of. And the Army will do that for him. They'll give him a direction."
"They'll get him killed," Natalia said sharply, the words spilling out of her mouth before she could hold them back. She gasped.
"Natalia," Frank said, pushing up from the table and going to hold her. She flinched away from his first touch, but when he touched her hand again, she caved, pressing herself against him. "He'll be fine. You'll see and when he comes home. You'll be so proud of the man he's become."
"I already am proud of him," Natalia said, sniffling again as tears stung her eyes as she tried to blink them back.
"He needs to be proud of himself."
Natalia understood; she really did. It didn't stop her from hating it though, hating the danger her son would be placed in after she had fought and struggled to keep him out of harm's way all his life.
"He has to do this," Natalia said, part-questions, part-statement. She sighed. "I just wish he could have found something safer to do." She touched her belly. "I want him to be here for every second of this little one's life. I don't want him to miss anything."
"And he won't. Rafe's going to be the best big brother," Frank said encouragingly. "You'll see. I'll help. I've got lots of experience with it. I'll show him how it's done."
Natalia couldn't help but let out a small watery laugh. "You're such a proud papa. You just can't wait to show this little one off."
Frank shrugged, looking sheepish and charming. "Can you blame me?"
"No," Natalia said with a gentle shake of her head. "Not as cute as this one is."
Frank grinned and raised a hand to push a strand of hair behind her ear. "She takes after her mama that way."
But Frank just shook his head. "No arguments." Then he dropped his hand to take hers. "C'mon, it's late; time to go to bed. I want to fall asleep holding my pregnant wife and dream about all the things we're gonna do together as a family."
Natalia stared at him and blinked. She couldn't believe she had gotten so lucky. With a smile, Natalia took his hand, shaking her head as she followed him upstairs.
It was dark, with only a hint of moonlight trickling in from behind the curtains. Natalia breathed deeply, steadily. Even though she was tired - almost falling asleep at the table - sleep lingered just out of reach for her. She could feel Frank behind her. He was unnaturally still, trying not to disturb her, she knew.
It was sweet of him, thoughtful, but at the moment all it was doing was making her feel more tense. She rolled over onto her side until she was facing him.
"You awake, baby?" he asked, tilting his head and opening his eyes to look at her.
This time Natalia shrugged.
"Is the baby giving you a hard time?" Frank asked scooting closer. His hands went to the small of her back and began to kneed, massaging the aching muscles there.
It felt good. Natalia almost moaned as his fingers pressed into her again and again, working to loosen tense muscles. He really was so good to her.
She threw a leg over his waist, squirming as close to him as she could with the swell of her belly between them, running her foot up and down the back of his leg.
"Natalia." Frank dragged her name out into long, laughing syllables of protest. "You're killing me."
She reached down between them, and discovered that he was right, feeling his hardness through the soft knit fabric of his tighty-whiteys. He groaned and his hips twitched, pushing himself against her hand.
"You know, they say it's not a bad thing. It can help induce labor."
"We're still a week away," Frank hissed out through his teeth.
"It's just an estimate." And Natalia felt huge and bloated enough that she was ready for this to be over, ready to see her baby, and hold her - ready to reclaim her own body.
"I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't," Natalia reassured him. "I'm not fragile. I won't break. We'll be just fine. Love me, Frank."
The hands on her back slowed and then eased to a stop, before sliding down her body to come to rest on her hips. Natalia sighed, knowing it meant Frank had given in. She tilted her head up to kiss him, locking her fingers together behind his neck, and losing herself in the taste and feel of him. The faint roughness of stubble against her cheek.
His lips moved as Frank worked his way down her neck, kissing and sucking. One hand trailed up her body to find her breast. He squeezed and she hissed. It was too much for the sensitive state that they were in - pain rather than pleasure.
Frank yanked his hand away. "I'm so sorry, baby. I forgot. They're just so...you look amazing," he whispered into her ear.
"It's okay," Natalia said. "Just...they're pretty tender, Frank."
"Okay, I'm so sorry," he apologized again, bending to press a kiss to her shoulder, and then trailing them across her chest.
She tensed for a moment, afraid he would forget again in his efforts to apologize, but he didn't, skimming past them to kiss her ribs. He worked his way down, using one hand to slip himself down on the bed, the length of his bangs brushing her stomach and making her squirm.
"Frank," she whispered, slipping her fingers into his hair. She needed something to hold onto. She knew the moment he dropped a kiss just below her belly button what his intentions were. A jolt of desire shot through her.
"Oh...oh," she murmured, her grip on his hair tightening as he placed butterfly kisses on the juncture of her thighs and then brought his hands down. He slipped his arms under her legs, then ran his hands down the top of her thighs, spreading her legs so that he could slip comfortably between them.
His head dipped and Natalia gasped at the feeling of his tongue on her. It had surprised her, the first time that he'd offered. She hadn't thought he would be good at it, but he was. Eager to make it last as long as it took for her to come. And he was skilled enough with his tongue that it wasn't long. Not anymore.
Frank found just the right spot and Natalia gasped, her hips arching up off the bed. His hands came up underneath her, supporting her even as he refused to relent, licking and stroking and sucking until she came apart in his arms, shuddering as she fell back onto the bed.
He held her as she came back down, resting his head on her abdomen, slipping on hand up and
down against the back of her thigh. The roughness of his callused fingers against her leg was somehow soothing.
Natalia knew he still had to be ready and waiting, but he was being patient with her, waiting for her to give him some sign that she was ready or willing for him to go ahead. She ran her fingers up the back of his head lightly.
"Come up here," she murmured.
Frank didn't waste any time pushing himself up so that he was laying beside her on the bed. They had discovered that the logistics of him hovering over her didn't work fairly quickly as the baby had made her presence known, increasing the swell of Natalia's abdomen. So now he just lay beside her. Natalia threw her leg over his again. She felt languid and calm, the endorphins triggered by her orgasm, still surging through her. She wanted more, wanted Frank's closeness, and she used her hands - her whole body - to urge him on.
Frank slipped inside her easily, groaning as he sank into her. "God, Natalia, baby."
She smiled, loving the way he sounded, the neediness in his voice. She had done that to him. He had stilled, giving her a moment to adjust after he slid into her, but now Frank had started to move again. Natalia responded, finding his rhythm and matching it, letting him take his fill of her and savoring in every sound, every groan he made until he came, spilling himself into her.