Fandom: Guiding Light
Archival: P&P, Kimly, and AUSXIP of course. Everyone else, please ask.
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.
A REST AREA ON I-90 BETWEEN MITCHELL, SD AND RAPID CITY, SD
We barely make it to the bench in the playground at the rest area before collapsing with laughter.
"Oh my God! That place was so...so surreal! Have you ever seen anything--"
You shake your head, your dark hair swinging to and fro with the movement. "No! No--I--I had no idea! I mean--the signs! Corn Palace? It sounded, you know, harmless! Educational even!" You giggle and I'm as charmed as I can be without broadcasting it to everyone in a three mile radius.
"I know! Corn, right? Major US commodity. Driving force in US agriculture and the world economy. Who knew they were going to glue it to the outside of the building?" You're hiding your laughter behind your gloved hand and I am not satisfied with that. I push on. "And all those crows! I felt like I was in a remake of Hitchcock's 'The Birds'--except without the protective phone booth covering." I mime the shape of a phone booth and that does the trick; you're laughing out loud now.
"And did you see the--" You gesture with your hands and I know exactly what you're talking about.
"All that bird sh--"
"Eh!" you admonish, raising your hand like a crossing guard. "Language!"
Emma is twenty feet away making herself dizzy on a merry-go-round and is not at all interested in what we're talking about. But okay.
"Poop," I amend. "All that bird poop."
You grin widely, dimples and everything. My heart almost stops.
"You're cute when you say that," you tell me. "Your nose crinkles up and--"
My heart has actually stopped now and I'm desperate to get you off this topic. "Uh huh. Keep talking. You'll see 'cute'..." I mock-threaten, shaking a fist at you weakly. Meanwhile, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from that Christmas special you and Emma love so much is leaping all over my brain, crowing, I'm cute! I'm cute! She thinks I'm cuuuuuuuute!
I don't know if it's the change in my mood or something else that derails us, but our laughter peters out until it dies. You turn to look at Emma, a small frown taking up residence between your eyes. I wonder what that's all about, but I'm too busy telling myself to get a fucking grip to ask.
After a few minutes of silence, with both of us lost in our own heads, you reach into your coat pocket and pull something out. You look down at it--whatever it is--for a long moment. I can tell what you're thinking: Should I or shouldn't I?
You make your decision finally and look up, handing me an Ohio driver's license with my photo on it. My photo and someone else's name.
"It won't fool the police if we get pulled over or...arrested," you say quietly. My eyes are still wide with shock and I look at you. You swallow uneasily and continue. "But it'll be okay for other things, like at the hotels or if you need to show ID to purchase...something..." The unspoken specter of a gun hangs heavily in the frigid air between us. You look down at your hands. "I have one too. I used it yesterday at the hotel."
"Thank you, Ms. Santiago," said the perky blonde at the front desk, handing you the room key. "The elevators are just down the hall on the left. Your room is on the third floor."
There are so many questions running through my head that I feel them as a pounding ache. They tumble over and over one another while you begin to look more and more worried and I pluck one at random, forcing it out of my mouth just to erase that look from your eyes.
"Where did you get them?"
Your panic at my reaction recedes just a hair. "Do you remember Carlos Flores, the dishwasher in housekeeping?" I shake my head. "Oh." You seem a little disappointed by my failure as an employer and I vow, on the spot, that when we get home, I'm going to get to know every goddamn one of my employees. "Well, he got them for me."
"Remind me to give him a raise right before I fire him," I mutter, rubbing one of my aching temples. I always fall back on sarcasm when I don't know what else to say.
"You...sorta already did," you admit, wincing. "I gave him five hundred dollars and a one-way bus ticket to Miami. Then I 'lost' his employee file."
I raise one eyebrow at you. "How very Tony Soprano of you.... Lemme guess--you were raised by a pack of wild mobster ninjas," I deadpan. I expect laughter but instead your face crumples in grief and I not only want to take my words back, I want to cut them from your memory somehow. I reach out to rest my hand on your arm but stop before I do, feeling suddenly as if I don't deserve to comfort you. "I'm sorry," I apologize. "I didn't--"
You close your eyes. "No, it's not you. It was--so long ago. I never thought.... It was over. It was over."
Oh God.... What is it? What happened to you? The look on your face makes my chest ache. I can't stand it--have to stop it.
"Natalia, you don't have to tell me." The words rush from me, all in one breath. "You don't ever have to tell me about any of it--not about the money or The Beacon or Carlos or...or whatever it is that should have been over.... I just-- I don't--" I shake my head, trying to organize my thoughts so I can get at least one coherent sentence out. "I trust you," I say finally and you open your eyes. "I trust you," I repeat, searching your cinnamon cocoa eyes for comprehension of what I'm trying to tell you: that it's okay for you to lock it all away again if that's what you need. "That's all I ever need to know." I hesitate before I take your hands in mine because I'm afraid of how much I need to touch you. But you need the comfort more than I need the illusion of control.
Your eyes fill with tears but you swallow them back before they can fall. "No," you say, your voice steady, strong. "There are things I need to tell you so this--" You turn to watch Emma descend the slide again. "--works," you finish with a sigh. Looking at me again, you add, "And there are other things...about me...that you should know. I'll...I'll do the best I can."
I try to smile in what I hope is an encouraging way. Mostly I just want to take you into my arms and make the whole world disappear until it's just us: you, me, and Emma. We could stay right here, on this playground, in this moment. Together and safe. Forever.
"Start with something easy," I suggest, squeezing your hands briefly.
You nod and take a deep breath. "There's a duffel bag in the van with eleven thousand, seven hundred dollars cash in it."
I blink. I blink again. "That was the easy one?" I blurt, completely flabbergasted. I look at the van to make sure it's still where we parked it. God, if it got stolen...
You ignore me. "There was more. I had to pay back The Beacon with some of it...and Carlos, for the..." You don't finish your thought. You don't need to.
I'm still staring at the van when something occurs to me. Something horrible. I whip around to face you. "Natalia, if you sold your house for this--"
"I didn't! I didn't!" You shake your head violently, trying to convince me you're telling the truth.
"Then where...?" Did you knock over a liquor store or five when you left Springfield or what?
"I called Mr. Ablest in New York and told him that you wanted to buy the ten acre lot next to the farmhouse, that you needed to sell off some of your under-performing stock for the down payment. I had him wire it into a sub-account I created under The Beacon and drove to Cleveland the same day to empty it." You chuckle but it's mirthless. "I drove the speed limit the entire way back to Springfield, terrified that I'd get into some horrible accident and the money would end up fluttering around the wreckage of my car, like in the movies."
I shake my head again, stunned. "We could live on that for six months--a year if we're frugal." Two if we're frugal like you're frugal, I think wryly.
"That's kinda the point," you admit, averting your eyes shyly. "I didn't want you and Emma to...struggle with money when it was within my power to do something about it. You don't need that on your mind, too."
I look at you for a long moment. "Remember that raise I was going to give Carlos?" I ask. You nod. "Double it and give it to yourself. And give yourself an extra week of paid vacation while you're at it."
She's so lucky to have you. Right now, especially. We both are. You're risking everything to protect my child. Without you, she'd be lost. I can't help her. I'm useless. You saw--I was going to give her cookies for breakfast, for Christ's sake! Do you even understand what it means to me that you are here with us? I could spend the rest of my life trying to explain it to you. I'd like to, too...
I have to get my thoughts under control. I can't keep thinking about you like this. You're going to see through me--or I'm going to let something slip and I'll ruin everything. Everything. Emma needs you too much and if I fuck it up for her because I--because of how I feel--
I can't take that chance. I just...can't.
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