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14 March 2009 @ 11:46 am
Fic: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 4), GL, Olivia/Natalia  
Title: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 4)
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.
Style Note:  As some of you have noticed, I am switching POVs for every chapter.  Natalia, Olivia and Emma will tell their stories in their own words, first-person present tense.  Any other exposition needed will happen in third-person past-tense.  This will cover the urgency I need and will also allow for omniscience for exposition with multiple characters.  I am very interested in knowing whether this style works how I have intended it, so let me know.
Thank You:  To mightbefound and bldy_destini for beta-ing this story. 



OMAHA, NE
NATALIA RIVERA

I sit on the edge of my bed in our hotel room, staring into space.  I'm so tired I can't even think.  I feel next to nothing, only a dull ache in my jaw and the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe.  Everything else is just...blank.

I look at the alarm clock on the table between the beds.  I've been up for twenty-seven hours now.  No, twenty-eight.  Time zone change.

You're in the bathroom with Emma, helping her get ready for bed.  I can hear the shower running and Emma's indignant complaint about how you're washing her hair.  You say something low in return--I can't make it out--and Emma goes quiet.  Eventually, you turn the water off and a few seconds later you appear in the main room.  Some of your hair is plastered to the side of your head.  Your jeans and top are splattered with water and you look harried and annoyed.  If I weren't so deeply exhausted, I would laugh.  You look like you've been wrestling a wet pig.

"Her Majesty is brushing her teeth and getting dressed for bed," you announce, arching your eyebrow in that way that makes me so jealous.  I've always wanted eyebrows like yours: so expressive, so...beautiful.  You're smiling and I really want to smile back but I'm not sure I have the energy to do that and talk and we really need to talk while we have these few minutes of relative privacy.  Little pitchers, big ears, right?

"I sold my car today," I blurt, staring at your left shoulder.  Your posture changes from playfully casual to painfully alert in the space of a breath.  You begin to walk toward me, your eyes filled with concern.  I can tell even though I'm not looking at them, refuse to look at them.  "Then I walked ten blocks and bought a new one with the money.  A mini-van.  Blue.  Very domestic.  They threw in a portable GPS because I paid cash."

You're crouching in front of me now, your hands resting lightly on my knees.  "Natalia--"

"Let me finish," I beg, still staring where your shoulder used to be.  "There are things you need to know before I--  I don't know how much longer I can keep my eyes open."

"Okay," you agree, your voice calm, inscrutable.  You begin to take off my shoes and I don't even have the strength to stop you.  You shouldn't be doing that.  I'm supposed to be taking care of you. 

"The five thousand I gave you before you left Springfield came from The Beacon's weekend deposits."  Your hands stop what they're doing.  I know you have that look on your face--the one that's half disbelief, half outrage.  I know you do.  "But I fixed that before I left.  No one will ever know it was gone.  I also fixed it so The Beacon stays yours.  I put it in trust to Emma and left Jeffrey and Ava as co-executors."  I can't look at you.  I know you're going to hate me for what I did, for doing it without your permission, but I had to do it.  I had to keep The Beacon out of Phillip's hands and this was the only way I could make that work.  Tears pool in my eyes and spill down my cheeks.  I can't move, not even to wipe them away.

"I told Jeffrey and Rafe what we're doing, but only them--no one else!"  I feel sobs begin to climb their way up from the pit of my stomach and I try to gulp them down, force them back.  You take me into your arms so gently, though, that I can't hold them back anymore.  They spill out onto your damp shoulder, my tears darkening your top in new patterns. 

"Shhhh...  It's okay," you say softly but I shake my head.

"No, there's more!" 

"Later," you say, rubbing my back in slow circles, rocking me like a child.  "You can tell me later.  And I promise everything's going to be okay.  I won't be mad.  I promise."  You stop rocking me and pull back a little to look directly into my eyes.  "That's why I blackmailed you into working for me...or don't you remember?  'Be my assistant or I'll die right here in front of you.'  Ringing any bells?"  

Your smile is the exactly the salve I need for my ragged emotions and I feel myself return it, though my face is hot and sticky with drying tears.  You cup my cheek with your hand, wipe my tears away with your thumb. 

"We'll talk.  We will talk, Natalia.  And I do need to know everything."  Your eyes are serious and alert and I marvel at our ability to reverse roles so seamlessly...and not for the first time.  How is it that when one of us is in need, the other one is always there?  I don't think I'll ever understand it.  "But it can wait until you've gotten some rest," you continue.  "You've done enough today.  Okay?  Even superheroes need sleep."

I roll my eyes and smirk at you.  "There you go again," I say.  "Using words you don't understand."  I mean it as a joke--to make you laugh--but you don't.  Instead, you look at me with large, unreadable blue eyes.  I think I see longing in them for just a second, but it disappears before I can be sure.  Before I can ask you what's wrong, though, the bathroom door bangs open and Emma bounds into the room, stopping abruptly when she sees us.

"Mommy?" she asks, her eyes round with worry.  I pull away from you and wipe my eyes, my face.  I don't want Emma to see me like this. 

"It's okay, Emma," I say quickly.  "I'm just really tired from the long drive I had last night.  You know how sometimes you get cranky if you're up past your bedtime?"  She nods.  "Well it's even worse for grownups!  And I didn't get any sleep at all last night."

Emma frowns a little, concern beyond her years staining her eyes.  "You should sleep then," she says, matter-of-factly.  You roll your eyes at her.

"We're all going to sleep now," you say wearily.  "Natalia, you take the bathroom first and I'll tuck Dr. Spencer here into bed."

I nod and grab my smaller bag, stealing away while you distract Emma from her curiosity.  I lean against the door after I've closed it, wondering if it's possible to sleep standing up like this.  I can't remember a time when I've been this tired.  Not even when I was working three jobs just so I could afford that little studio I lucked into in Irving Park.  God, I loved that apartment.  But Rafe needed his own room and--

I look into the mirror and shake my head at myself. 

"Do you really have so little to worry about right now that you need to relive worries from another life?"

Another life...

I stare at my reflection, my expression impassive.  I know I'll have to explain more than just what I've been doing for the past week when you and I finally talk.  Just the thought nauseates me.  I haven't thought about that time in my life for so long.  It was all so carefully put away, so deeply buried, that sometimes I wondered if it really happened to me.  I could have made it up, right?  From bad TV when I was little?

But no.  It's all back now.  As if it never ended. 

In some ways, I guess it never has.

I sigh and stuff my worry and fear back inside.  It's not neat but it will have to do for now.  I can't let Emma see me break down again, that's for sure.  She's been worried enough about you as it is.   

I wash up and change quickly, scolding myself for hogging the bathroom.  You need it, too, of course.  Sometimes I'm so oblivious!

I've just spit my toothpaste into the sink when I hear a soft knock.

"Come in?"

You open the door just a crack, hesitant to intrude.  "You okay?" you ask.

"Yeah," I sigh, wiping my mouth with my washcloth.  "I'm sorry--I know you need the bathroom, too.  I'll just--"

You shake your head.  "No.  No, I wasn't worried about that.  I was worried about you."  You're still holding onto the doorknob, leaning your head against the edge of the door.  Your eyes are expressive now, filled with earnest concern and kindness.  There's something else there, too, but it's fleeting...like the longing I thought I saw earlier.  I wonder if you really are angry about what I've done with The Beacon and are just pretending everything is okay.  For my sake.  That worries me a little. 

"I'm fine," I repeat, smiling ruefully.  "Really.  Nothing a good night's sleep won't fix."

You reach out and touch my shoulder, your hand resting there lightly.  Your eyes are hauntingly blue and open and I can't help but gaze into them.  I feel like I'm falling...or flying.  I'm not sure which.  Just before I figure it out, though, you blink and pull your hand away from me.  Quickly, as if stung.  I'm still looking into your eyes but they're different now.  Shuttered.  Darkened.  Their light has gone out.  Or has been put out. 

"Good," you say, grinning a little too wide.  "Then are you done in here?  'Cause I really have to pee..."  

Something...something just happened there.  What was it?  You're being a smart-aleck...because you're uncomfortable.  About what, Olivia?  Did I do something? 

Your eyes are begging me to play along.  I don't know what else to do.  I laugh but it's forced.  "Aha!  You weren't worried about me; you were worried about not making it in time!"  Your grin turns sheepish but it's rehearsed.  I've seen you do this...before.  But never with me.  Why are you doing it with me?  "Well, come on!  It's all yours.  I'll let myself out."  You stick out your tongue as you scoot past me and I shake my head at you, very confused.

I'm still wondering what on Earth that was all about when I turn around.  Emma grins at me from her perch in your bed.

"You feel better, Natalia?" she asks.

No.  I think I'm going a little crazy, actually.  "A little," I reply, not wanting to worry her.  "Still tired though.  I hope I can fall asleep!"

She looks suddenly puzzled.  "Why wouldn't you?" she asks.

I pull down the comforter and sheets on my bed and sit down.  I think about how to answer Emma's question while twisting my hair up into a ponytail.  I'm always careful when I answer her questions.  You don't seem to realize it all the time, but she's quite the listener.  She listens to and watches everything we do--and knows a lot more than we give her credit for.  It won't take her long to figure out something's going on.  If she hasn't already. 

"Well, sometimes a person can get so tired that their body can't relax enough to fall asleep," I explain.

This is clearly new and interesting information.  "What do they do then?"

"Sometimes, they just wait to fall asleep...no matter how long it takes.  Some people take medicine to help themselves fall asleep.  Some people count sheep.  Some people read until they fall asleep.  Whatever they find relaxing, I guess."

She's just about to ask me another question when you come out of the bathroom. 

"Em, honey, let poor Natalia go to sleep, okay?"  You've changed into some rose-colored plaid flannel pajamas that I've never seen before.  Or at least, I don't think I have.  For some reason, I always picture you wearing satin nighties to bed.  Blue...but not navy or sky.  Something in between, like the sea.  To match your eyes.

"But Mom--"

"'But Mom' nothing.  Lights out.  We have a long drive tomorrow.  Or have you forgotten about Mount Rushmore?"  Whatever happened in the bathroom is gone; you've washed it away or covered it up.  You're all business now.  And I'm too tired to wonder about it anymore.

I uncurl myself and stand, leaning across the divide between our beds to kiss Emma goodnight.  "I love you, cutie pie," I whisper, nuzzling her.  She smells like hotel shampoo and spun sugar.  "Que sueñes con los angelitos, chiquita."

"Y tu, Natalia," she responds, kissing my cheek.  You watch from your side of the bed, indulgent adoration for your daughter showing plainly in your features.

"Done with all the mushy stuff now?  Can we turn off the lights?"  You raise one perfect eyebrow.

"Almost," she says, reaching over to kiss you goodnight, too.  "I love you, Mommy."

You kiss the top of her head and close your eyes, savoring the moment.  "I love you, too, Em.  Bigger than the sky."  You look up at me and smile and I know you're trying to thank me for being here with the two of you, for helping you keep her safe from Phillip.  I hope you know how important being here for you is to me.  Being here for both of you.

"Lights out," I say and I twist the little knob on the lamp on the bedside table.  After a few seconds of rustling bedclothes and quiet negotiations from your side of the room, everything is quiet.  Unnaturally so.  There's no traffic sounds like in Chicago or house creaks and crickets like at the farmhouse to sing me to sleep.  My skin feels tight and hot, as if I've been hooked up to an electric wire, and my brain will not stop spinning.  There's so much to consider, so much to do.  And you and I need to have a serious talk so that we're on the same page.  Our success depends on that. 

I sigh, reluctantly resigned to another sleepless night, when you whisper, "Em?  Where are you going?"

She doesn't answer you but in the darkness I feel my bed dip slightly with her weight.  "Natalia?" she whispers.  "Are you having trouble sleeping?"

"A little bit, sweetie, but you don't--"

"No, Natalia, I know something that will help!"  And softly, she begins to sing a lullaby that I used to sing to Rafe when he was a baby.  I've sung it to her more recently but I had no idea she remembered it.  Her little girl voice is slightly off-key but it's so sweet and so loving a gesture, my eyes fill immediately with tears.  I pray it's too dark for her to see them.

"A la nanita, nana, nanita ella, nanita ella," she sings, her voice wobbling a little on the high note.  "Mi niña tiene sueño, bendito sea, bendito sea..."  She sings it all the way through for me, gently patting my hair, and I'm trying to pretend to fall asleep despite my tears.  When she finishes, she leans over and kisses the top of my head.  "Sweet dreams, Natalia.  Love you."  Then she slides off the bed and runs back to yours.

"You never sing to me," you whisper to her, mock-hurt.  I can hear the tears in your voice, though, and mine fall harder.

"Oh, Mom," says Emma aggrievedly.  I know she's rolling her eyes at you. 

"I'm just sayin'," you continue as you two get settled again.  I laugh quietly through my own tears and my heart fills up with so much love I feel it might burst.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, I pray, folding my hands together tightly.  Please help me keep my...my family safe.  I love them so much.

And though it's not right, just before I fall asleep, I add And keep that bastard Phillip away from them.

-----

TBC



Comments are love!

DiNovia
 
 
 
Revolos55: Land Before Time - Squeerevolos55 on April 7th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Awesome. Olivia really does have incredibly expressive eyebrows, and I love her referring to Emma as Her Majesty and Dr. Spencer.

Love love love the scene with Olivia and Natalia in the bathroom, the whole thing, Natalia seeing the mushy look of love (even though she doesn't realize that's what it is), understanding that Olivia deflecting...

And Emma singing her a lullaby was too friggin' adorable.