It's been a very long time since I've written any fanfiction, but because of Scandal - and in particular the characters of Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III - I've felt the urge to give it a shot again.
"A mermaid found a swimming lad, Picked him for her own, Pressed her body to his body, Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness That even lovers drown."
- William Butler Yeats
Even Lovers Drown CH 01
How had he forgotten that she would be there? With everything else that was happening, when Cyrus had reminded him about Ella's christening, Fitz had actually looked forward to the ceremony and the small reception to be held afterwards with a sense of relief. It would be a brief escape from every thing, that had been plaguing him. From the lie that had become his life - or the life that had become a lie - and the answer to that was still unknown to him. The search for that truth kept him awake long into the night. The Oval Office had also become a lonely one.
That he had expected; but in the wake of Verna's death, and more importantly, the words she'd spoken before she'd passed, it had also become a dry and arid desert in which he was stranded all alone.
Her words had shattered the foundation of damn near everything he had believed in. Including himself. Everything he had set out to be, including his very sense of self.
Fitz had known that she was sick; he hadn't known the supreme court justice was so close to dying - since in several ways he was still recovering from his own near-death experience. An assassin's bullet had very nearly ended his life and to see death so close again was unsettling.
What she'd had to say had sent his thoughts fragmenting into a million pieces, each one as sharp as mirrored glass. But in each of them,her words, gasped out in a throaty whisper, were all too horribly clear. She pulled her oxygen mask from her voice and began.
"I was the one who sent that woman to assassinate you."
He heard her now, her voice low and gasping but relentless, cleansing her soul even as she burnt his own to the ground.
"Defiance County." she said, answering the question that must have been plain upon his face. "Hollis Doyle rigged the voting machines. We all knew... we all helped cover it up."
Fitz couldn't believe his ears, he couldn't be hearing her right - she had to be losing her mind. "We?" he managed to choke out.
"Don't pretend you don't know..." she reached for her mask again.
Comprehension tinged his words with disbelief. "Mellie? Cyrus?"
Verna did nothing but stare at him, willing him to take that last unconscionable step. "O-Olivia?"
She didn't deny it. A weird satisfaction filled her eyes.
She dragged the oxygen mask away from her face once more; when next she spoke, her voice turned accusatory. "You made us love you! You made us so devoted - with your charm. We believed in you! We sold our souls for you!"
Her eyes never left his, holding him motionless. "Something had to be done!"
"You could have told me - you could have told the press. You didn't have to shoot me and kill an innocent woman..." Fitz's head was pounding with the enormity of her actions. This was treason of the highest order.
But through the pain his mind went to work and comprehension came swiftly. "But then you would have to admit your part - resign from the bench. Lose your grip on power - and watch your legacy turn to ashes."
It was suddenly as though he were watching someone else having this macabre conversation with a dying woman. "Is that really worth my life?"
Her lips twisted in grim humor. "Not anymore."
Everything after that had taken on a mask of unreality. Even as Verna's voice went on and on, flashes of a dozen or more images appeared and reappeared in his mind, like scenes from some old movie.
In some, he confronted his betrayers, shouting his hatred at them, promising to use the full extent of the law against them as revenge; Hollis, Cyrus, Mellie - such humiliation and rage was an ancient thing to him. He hadn't felt such rage since his teenaged years when his father controlled everything about him, had little good to say about him but was quick to point out the tiniest flaws.
It was almost foreign to him. He had been helpless then, so helpless that his father's words were a sickness in his gut that he'd never been able to shake.
But he wasn't powerless now. He was, in fact, the most powerful man in the world. So when a sense of satisfaction rose from somewhere within him - sickly sweet like rancid honey - to engulf him, it was easy to let it fill him unresisting. He was about to let it take him fully - until her face appeared.
Even in his twisting shifting thoughts, Olivia's beauty had the power to steal his breath away. Eyes dark and soft enough to drown in, lips sweet enough to kiss forever. From the first moment when she and he had stood alone, apart from every one and every thing, she'd had a voice, a smile, a touch like nothing else he'd ever known.
In his mind's eye her face kept changing; Fitz saw her in all her many guises. It was as though she were standing before him, eyes wide with unshed tears in one second, the next those same eyes face all misty and aglow with love for him. The next moment he was imagining her like he always did as she must have looked when he called her late at night, with sleep hazing her eyes and the gentlest of smiles on her full lips.
Like pages of a book being flipped, the images flashed before him, dizzying him, building up a tension in him that made his hands clench into fists while his head pounded.
He heard Verna again.
"Not anymore," she was saying. "I'm meeting with a federal prosecutor after you - I - I am coming clean before I die. But - but I wanted you to hear it all first. I owe that to you father."
His father. Those words echoed in his mind; it was the final blow that sent him crumbling inside. Fitz's head exploded in blinding, lightening-white pain. His mind, his heart, his soul, shattered beneath it.
When reality returned, Fitz was gripping Verna's hands. He blinked as he struggle to refocus. His eyes darted to her face, dreading see her expression. He'd never known that she hated him so.
But there was no expression on Verna's face, no expression at all. Only a gaze that looked beyond him into infinity. Shock ran through Fitz as he realized that he was gripping her hands and that she was no longer breathing.
Dread filled him as he realized that he couldn't remember what had happened in the last few minutes. Fitz scrambled up from her bedside, shouting for help, but knew even as he did it, that was too late.
Verna Thorton, newest member of the Supreme Court of the United States, was dead.
And at her funeral a few days later, he had severed all ties with Olivia.
He wanted to hate her - hate her like he'd hated Verna in the last moments of her life. He had every right to hate her and when next he saw her in the church just before he gave Verna's eulogy - he had taken a sick delight in using his words as a weapon. To give her the merest taste of the pain she'd given him.
"Don't wait for me."
"What?" her voice stayed low but he could hear the shock in it. Hear the tremble that shook it as though she could not believe what she was hearing.
He was proud of himself, that his voice could stay so level and calm even as he turned to face her. "I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, screwing your mistress was one thing, but marrying her? That's political suicide."
Fitz ignored the growing disbelief and pain in her eyes. "I mean, you believe in my presidency is more important than anything else, right? And after all, you worked so hard to put me here." He stared at her a moment longer, all emotion buried inside of him where nothing would ever be able to touch it again.
Comprehension began to awaken in her face.
It was, he realize, what he had been waiting for. He stared at her a moment more, then simply turned and walked away.
He told himself that Olivia deserved no less. His mind knew that -even if his heart did not. The solution was easy - never let his heart be touched by anyone else ever again.
He could do that.
But Fitz had somehow forgotten that when Cyrus and James had asked him to stand as god-father, they had also asked Olivia to stand as god-mother. So when he turned and saw her walking up the aisle of the church to join the baptismal party, he was stunned for about half a breath.
She was as beautiful as only Olivia could be, dressed in a cool pastel green dress and jacket that reminded him of Jackie O - outwardly as serene as the Virgin Mary - classic, classy and untouchable. Seemingly innocent of her ultra-feminine appeal. Innocent and unknowing of all the brilliance and depth that lay beneath her lying, duplicitous and all-too-beautiful facade.
Another lie, Fitz told himself, even as his blood kindled at the sight of her; a fresh wave of anger rose in its wake, hazing his sight. Reality shifted for a split second - once again he heard Verna's words echoing within him, reminding him of her treachery, her betrayal. The throbbing that started in his temples didn't go away, not even when they faced one another, their hands linked together as they held little Ella between them while the bishop spoke the blessings over her.
She had no right to stand there, not with this tiny life cradled in their hands as the priest's words of blessings flowed over and around them. That her fingers were icy cold to the touch meant nothing to him - at least that is what he told himself.
There had been a time when he'd allowed himself the daydream that one day a day like this would be theirs, a child of their love to consummate what they felt for one another. But she'd destroyed any possibility; so she had no right to the hurt that filled her eyes. She had been the cause of his pain - the burn and unending ache that had followed him every day and every hour of the night that had followed after Verna's deathbed confession and all he wanted - all he could think of - was to pay her back.
There were questions unasked in her eyes, pleading with him wordlessly as though he was supposed to know - or care - what it was she was asking for. He didn't, he told himself again and again, even while at the same time, he couldn't tear his eyes away from hers.
His father had been right; weakness was and had always been the flaw in him that nothing could erase.
She didn't deserve - what? The right to look at him as if she had ever really cared? That his silence and his distance since he'd learned the truth about her betrayal actually hurt her as much as it had hurt him?
The storms that had become his emotions crashed through him, making it almost impossible to think. He could feel the blood in his temples pounding and it was only with a greatest of effort that he kept his fingers from trembling. And it was all because of the touch of her fingers against his. All her fault again.
Fitz couldn't imagine what she wanted from him. He hadn't allowed himself to think of what it was he wanted from her, because even the thought of her was too painful to handle.
Now, even he found himself unable to tear his gaze from hers, he forced himself to the task. What did he want? Did he want to scream his rage of her betrayal in her face? Did he want to demand explanations? Did he want her begging for forgiveness? Worse still, did he want to hold onto her like a drowning man clinging to a life-jacket in the middle of an endless sea of pain and never let her go?
Never. Fitz shut that last thought down with the force of a nuclear bomb. Their actions had shown him that not one of his supposed inner circle had thought him strong enough to do the job. Not ruthless enough - not enough of his father. Even Verna had said so on her deathbed. She was telling him all of this for his father. But she had been wrong. They all had been wrong.
By all that was holy, he would prove it to each and every one of them.