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08 March 2009 @ 11:59 am
Fic: Hide Beside Me, GL, Olivia/Natalia (Chapter 1)  
Title: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 1)
Author: DiNovia
Fandom: Guiding Light
Pairing: Olivia/Natalia
Rating:  Chapter=PG-13/Overall=NC-17
Archival:  P&P, Kimly and AUSXIP, of course.  Everyone else, please ask.
Spoilers:  None
Summary:  Phillip Spaulding has returned to Springfield with a vengeance.  Olivia Spencer, afraid that Phillip will take their daughter Emma from her again, flees Springfield with the help of her assistant, Natalia Rivera.  Can they stay one step ahead of Phillip?  Will they ever be safe again?
Content Disclaimer:  This is an AU story--based on a drabble I posted in February--that splits off from the "I can trust you with my life!" scene on 2/16/09.  All canon after that does not exist in this story.  Also, the Phillip Spaulding that returns in this story is still bat-shit crazy and evil. Graphic depictions of love between two consenting adult women are contained within, obviously, but not for a while.  
Source Disclaimer:  I do not own Guiding Light or the characters therein depicted.  I do not seek to profit from this story. 
A/N:  I tried to remain as close to character as humanly possible but as I have only seen YouTube clips of Otalia and no full episodes, I cannot guarantee the results. 
Thank You:  To mightbefound and bldy_destini for beta-ing this story. 


Emma says "I'm sleepy, Mom," but she says it quietly.  No whine, no dramatics.  I look down and my 8-year-old has purple smudges under her eyes.  Her face is drawn and pale in the horrifying fluorescent light from the street lamp above us.  She's too young to look like I feel and my heart breaks for her.  For both of us.
"I know, Em," I say softly, my eyes darting between her and the empty, darkened street.  I'm still looking, always looking for Phillip even though we've been here a week without incident.  "You can lie down in the laundromat," I tell her.  She looks dubious about that but doesn't argue.  I know it's horrible that I've dragged her out of bed before dawn but I told you that I'd be at a laundromat with a name beginning with S on the tenth day and I want to be there when it opens.  I didn't sleep at all last night.  I'm carrying every piece of clothing Emma and I own at this moment--and the linens from our bed in the motel, too--in four pillow cases, hoping that it will last me at least a few hours.  It's been a long time since I threatened to do the laundry, but I'm reasonably sure that what I have won't take more than two hours.  I wonder how we're going to pass the time until you get here.
If you come.
I can't think like that. 
I've been a wreck for the last week as it is.  With no sleep and nothing but caffeine in my blood stream, the possibility that you won't show makes my heart pound and my hands sweat and, oh God, I think I'm going to throw up again.
I lean against the gray stone wall of an abandoned repair shop and pray for my insides to stop churning.  Emma tugs on my sleeve urgently, asks me if I'm okay.  I take a deep breath and try to reassure her, my voice thick with bile.  I pray she won't notice that I'm about three minutes from a complete fucking breakdown.  I pray you'll have come to your senses and gone on with your life while simultaneously praying you'll have gotten to the laundromat before us and I don't care if that doesn't make any sense.  I pray God will forgive me for what I'm doing and I pray He'll forgive me for loving you the way I do, even now, in spite of everything.
My nausea passes and I shepherd Em around the corner.  Down the street I can see the golden glow from the window of Sunshine Suds.  I sigh with relief.  Almost there.  My steps quicken and Emma tries to keep up but she stumbles and falls into me and I have to bite my lip to keep from saying something sharp to her.  As I get her righted, brushing imaginary dust from her coat, I am overwhelmed with guilt and I kiss her forehead.  It's not her fault that I'm insane and I have to remember that she doesn't really know what's going on, why we're hiding out in a motel in Kansas of all places.  Why we're going to a laundromat before daybreak.  Why we're going to a laundromat at all.  I don't think she's ever been in one.  I wonder, close to panic, if there'll be a snack machine so I can at least feed her.  Something.  Anything.
There's no one in the laundromat except its owner, a fat Armenian man who doesn't smile when we come in.  Disappointment that you're not there nearly swamps me but the place is well lit, warm, and smells of detergent and scorched cotton.  I feel strangely comforted.  It even has a snack machine but I'm suddenly too tired to care.  I herd Emma towards a row of molded plastic chairs but I know they are too rigid and too small to be comfortable.  I drop the pillowcases on a folding table and grab one of the shiny laundry carts parked haphazardly in the middle of the room.  I pull it over to where Emma's sitting, strip off my coat, and lay it in the bottom.  Then I bunch my scarf and hers into a makeshift pillow.

She's leaning into me, one arm wrapped around my thigh, and I turn to pick her up, stopping myself just before I do.  I can't even pick up my own child.  My sweet baby girl.  An angry, stinging lump rises in my throat as I stand her up on one of the wobbly turquoise chairs.  She wraps her arms around my neck and lays her head on my shoulder like she used to when she was a toddler.  She's so thin, so fragile in my arms.  It terrifies me. 

"It's okay, baby," I whisper, helping her into the cart.  It's a monstrous bassinet, a perversion of what she needs, and I am fast becoming unglued.  "You can sleep in here while I do the laundry," I tell her, rushing to get the words out before my tears come.  "Mommy's right here."

She says nothing, only nods and curls onto her side.  She's so listless, so lifeless...and I know it's more than exhaustion.  I know I'm doing this to her, but I can't let Phillip have her.  I don't know what's worse for her suddenly--life on the run or a life with her father--and I am desperately holding back sobs when the laundromat owner approaches me, shuffling toward me on perennially sore feet, holding a blanket out to me.

"Is clean," he says, lifting it so I can see.  "Someone left."

I take it and tears start streaming down my cheeks.  It's soft and thick, the color of melted coffee ice cream, and I cover Emma with it, tucking the edges around her just like I used to at the farmhouse.

"Thank you," I tell the man, my voice broken.  I cannot stop my tears.

"Your man...he beat aghjik?"  He gestures at Emma but I'm confused by the word.  He blinks slowly and frowns, converting his language to mine.  "Beat...girl?"  His small eyes are alert, concerned.  "Beat you?"

It's as good a story as any and close enough to what's going on...  I know I won't be able to explain the truth to him and it's better if I don't anyway.  I nod and wipe my face.  He frowns again and I wonder how many versions of this story he's witnessed in this place.  He seems defeated by the confirmation and also vaguely disapproving, as if wondering why we Americans think beating our wives and children is acceptable behavior.  I wish I'd been a good enough person before to wonder the same thing.

"Someone...coming for?"  He gestures at the two of us with a disconcertingly graceful wave.

"Yes," I say, too quickly.  It's the only thing I'll let myself believe at this point.  If you don't come today, I know we'll be lost.  Emma and I, we're not suited for this.  Phillip will find us, take Emma, destroy me, and I'll be powerless to stop him.  You're the superhero, remember?  We're the mere mortals.

The man nods.  "Good," he says, reaching into his pocket.  He presses something into my hand and shuffles away.  I look down to find two butterscotch candies wrapped in crinkly, golden cellophane and I laugh as I cry because now he reminds me of you, of the goodness you find in every situation, of the way you draw angels out of the woodwork just when you need them most.
I remember the last time I saw you: through the driver's side window of my car as Emma and I drove away from the farmhouse nine days ago, going "on vacation" as far as the rest of Springfield knew.  You were smiling, waving.  A brave face for Emma but I could see the worry in your dark eyes.  It matched mine.  Driving away from you--terrified I would never see you again--was the hardest thing I have ever done.  Until the waiting started.  I haven't even told Emma about you coming today because what if you... 

What if you don't?
I can't think like that. 
I distract myself by remembering the day you told me Phillip Spaulding was back in town.  As if that will help.
I'd just spouted off some ridiculous plan--something about getting a gun, leaving the country--and I was crying and you were holding my hands, trying to hold me together, but just seeing that concern, that caring in your eyes was almost too much for me.
"You can't make right decisions right now, you just--you can't think straight.  So I'll do it," you said crisply, business-like.  It was so different from your normal way of dealing with the world that I wondered--briefly--if you'd learned it from me.  "Give me a minute to think."  You brushed hair out of my eyes and told me to take a deep breath.  When I had done as you asked, you let go of me and walked to the window. 
"Is there somewhere you go when you need a break?  Somewhere where they know you and Emma, where it's normal for you to show up for a few days of away time?"
I tried to think around the panic about Phillip and a sudden, intense need to kiss you, something that I'd been experiencing more and more lately, and said, "The Briarwood, up at the lake.  Emma skis and I..."  I drink and flirt shamelessly with the ski instructor of the week, but there was no way in Hell I was going to tell you that.  "It's been a while, though.  Since before..."  Since before the transplant, but I wouldn't say that out loud either.  I'd painted myself into a conversational corner.  You graciously ignored it.
"Perfect.  Frank is arresting Phillip now so we can count on him being in jail for at least 48 hours.  Tonight, go down to Towers or to the Beacon.  Or both, actually.  Tell everyone you're taking Emma up to the lake to ski for a few days, until the dust with Phillip settles.  Be confident that Phillip will remain in jail.  Tell everyone where you're going but be vague about when you might be back.  Say things like 'a few days' or 'maybe a week'.  Then head up there tomorrow.  I'll make the reservations.  Ski, have fun, make sure people see you."  You said the last few sentences absently, almost rote, still deep in thought.
"How is this supposed to help?" I barked, not believing what I was hearing.  This was Phillip Spaulding we were talking about!  A couple of days of skiing was not going to make this problem go away.  But you weren't listening to me anymore.  It's possible you were receiving instructions directly from God at that point--knowing you--but you ignored my question and went on.
"After two days at the resort, leave.  Tell them you've decided to show Emma a little of the countryside or something.  A big adventure.  Then go...I don't know.  Go somewhere where Phillip would never think to look."  I came back into your world then and you turned toward me.  "Where, Olivia?  Where wouldn't he look?" 
"Anywhere near a prison," I said darkly, "but Natalia, I--you're not making sense--"

You grasped my hands in yours again and looked up at me with those big, brown eyes.  "I am making sense, I promise.  And I'll explain how I know that...someday.  But for right now, do you trust me?"

"With my life," I whispered, not even needing to think about it.  "With Emma's life.  You know that." 

"I'm not going to let anything happen to your little girl.  Not ever.  Just trust me a little while longer, okay?"

Three hours later, Emma and I had reservations at the Briarwood, you and I had a plan, and I was at the bar at Towers telling Remy and Christina--and anyone else who asked--that Emma and I just really needed to get away for a few days, to let the police do their job without us getting in the way.

The next morning you helped us put our bags in the car, gave me five thousand dollars in cash that you refused to answer questions about, and stood on the porch, waving as we drove away.
I haven't seen you or spoken to you since but that realization doesn't penetrate the frozen numbness that is the only thing holding me together at the moment.  What if something happened?  What if you're not coming because Phillip, that paranoid, suspicious bastard, figured out what we were doing and he has you and you're--

I squeeze my eyes shut against the images of your frightened eyes, of Phillip--enraged--towering over you, of all the twisted things he's capable of doing...

I can't think like that!

I force my eyes open.  The light of the laundromat is garish and painful.  I force myself to breathe, force my jaw to unclench.  I force the images of you from my mind.

Eventually I look up at the clock.  We haven't even been here an hour.  Both loads of our laundry are already in dryers and I am counting Emma's breaths to keep myself from looking at the damned door every three seconds.  A black woman in cinnamon-colored scrubs is doing her laundry in the corner.  Every once in a while she steals a look at us, pushing her braids out of her eyes.  I can tell she's weighing whether or not she should do something but it's clear neither one of us knows what.  There's a packet of lemon cookies from the snack machine in front of me.  I don't know why I bought them; I can't even think about food.  I tell myself I'm saving them for Emma for when she wakes up even as I methodically crush one under my thumb.  Lemon cookies are healthy, right?

There's a smudge of gilded haze outside and I realize that it's the sun rising.  I don't want to look because there's a hollow ache in my chest where you should be and I don't want to see the sun rise on this day if it means you're not coming.

But I lift my head and look anyway...

Right into your eyes.



Comments are love!

Revolos55revolos55 on April 7th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Ooh, very cool. I read the drabble, and I'm looking forward to downing 12 chapters of this at once.
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Paper Heartseftiri on April 8th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you're enjoying the story! I may not be able to reply to all your comments, though. I'll reply to the ones with questions for sure!

Thank you for commenting though!
Revolos55revolos55 on April 8th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, definitely enjoying, and will eagerly await each chapter like a kid at Xmas.

Didn't mean to spam your inbox. I just have a habit of making a list of the things I find shiny in any fic I read. No worries about commenting on all of them.