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26 March 2009 @ 08:45 am
Fic: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 8), GL, Olivia/Natalia  
Title: Hide Beside Me (Chapter 8)
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. 


Well, Mount Rushmore is much smaller than I expected it would be.  But then, it's not like I've never said that about a man before, so why should four dead presidents be any different?

You and Emma are prowling stacks of stately blue "Mount Rushmore" sweatshirts and baskets of tiny stuffed president dolls, respectively.  We've come inside to escape the biting cold.  They keep telling us it's thirty degrees out there and that that's warm for this time of year, but I can't really hear them over my chattering teeth.

The gift shop here is very warm.  It's also massive and I feel rather conflicted about that.  These are government employees--a dozen of them, easily--selling us appalling coffee cups and "authentic Little Chief Fry Bread mix!"  I'm not sure I approve.  But if the social and financial desolation of the small communities we passed on the way here is any indication of the problems facing the entire state, then who am I to complain about twelve or thirteen people making a decent wage by hawking souvenirs to loud tourists with disposable incomes?
I smirk at myself.  You make me think like that, you know.  Two years ago, I would have been a loud tourist with a disposable income and a burning need for an overpriced alabaster carving of a Plains Indian War Pony.  I also wouldn't have acknowledged the gift shop's employees in any way--unless they had pissed me off somehow.  I've changed.  Because of the transplant, yes, but more because of you.  Because of your heart, your capacity for love and forgiveness--even your rock solid faith has made an impression.  You're either a bad influence or the very best influence and either way, I'm screwed.
I peer into the jewelry case beneath my hands, looking at a row of earrings.  There's a pair in the middle of the top row: a delicate loop of oak leaves, one each in silver, yellow gold and Black Hills gold.  They would look amazing on you--autumnal against the backdrop of your long, dark hair--and I'm trying to convince myself not to buy them.  I find I'm not very convincing.
"If you'd like me to take anything out of the case, just let me know," says a woman behind the counter.  I had no idea she was even there.  Phillip could have walked right up to me and I wouldn't have noticed because I'm too busy picking out inappropriate gifts for you.  I have to watch myself better.
Before I can answer the saleswoman, Emma runs up to me, her tiny hands clutching various treasures to her chest.
"Look what I'm getting, Mommy!" she says, splaying them out on the jewelry counter.  There's a Jefferson doll, a stack of post cards, a Mount Rushmore key chain, and a handful of sassafras candy sticks.
I raise my eyebrow at the collection--especially the post cards.  We can't send those but how do I explain that to my eight-year-old who thinks we're on some exciting, unexpected vacation? 

You walk up behind Emma and you know exactly what I'm thinking.  I can see it in your eyes.
"Em and I are starting a scrapbook of our trip," you say brightly, ruffling her hair.  You meet my eyes with your own, radiating serenity and a calmness that soothes my reactionary soul.  "That's what the postcards and the key chain are for," you explain.
Of course they are. 
Your presence of mind astonishes me.  Somehow, once again, you've arranged the universe to suit me, allowing Emma and I both to have our cake and eat it, too.  And all without any screaming or tears. 

Forget about earrings, I muse.  I need to buy you a friggin' cape.

"Would you like a basket for those?" the saleswoman asks Emma, handing her a blue plastic shopping basket from behind the counter.  "That way you won't lose anything!"

Em accepts the basket with a gap-toothed grin.  "Thank you, ma'am," she says politely, carefully scooping her treasures into it.  Then she looks up at me.  "I'm going to look over there," she announces, pointing in the general direction of a pyramid of shot glasses, hand-painted with various Mount Rushmore and Native American designs.  "They have little tiny glasses--for dolls!"

She bounds off and I cover my eyes with one hand.  "It could be worse--" I begin and you finish with me.

"--she could actually know what they're for!"

We both chuckle and our eyes connect for a moment.  I get lost in the subtly shifting color of your big, brown eyes as they change from a dark French Roast to a sun-splashed Corinthian leather, warm and open and...gone.  You look down suddenly.

"I'd better stay with her," you say softly, your eyes now tracking Emma's every move.  "But I wanted to let you know I gave her ten dollars for souvenirs."  You look up at me again and the sunshine has left your gaze but not the openness.  "So don't you give her any money, okay?  Ten is enough."

What the Hell was that?  I don't have the foggiest idea what just happened there but something did, I'm sure of it.  Dammit!

Instead of asking you, though, I smirk at you.  "Yes, 'Mom,'" I drone, and you shake your head at me, smiling shyly.  Just before you turn away, I think I see a hint of rose in your cheeks.

"Your daughter is beautiful," says the saleswoman to me after you've gone.  You catch up with Emma and usher her away from the shot glasses to something more appropriate for her age: a metal tree covered in hand-puppets. You're grinning--a complete, full-on, no-holds-barred grin including those amazing dimples--and it's like a kick to my stomach and the Fourth of July all at once.  I'm having a hard time breathing.

"Thank you," I manage around the swell of adoration rising in me.  Again.  Why can't I get this under control?  Really, is it too much to ask to be able to look at you without having my stomach do its Mary Lou Retton impression?

I glance at her, this friendly woman, this government-subsidized trinket huckster.  She's tall, has a few extra pounds around her middle, but she's not unattractive.  She has kind gray eyes and short blondish hair.  She could be anywhere from thirty to fifty years old; I can't tell.  She smiles at me warmly.

"How long have you two been together?" she asks.  I mistakenly believe she's asking about Emma at first and I think How long do you think we've been together, you moron?  Since her birth! 

But then I realize she's talking about you--as in 'How long have you two been a couple?'  My first instinct is to launch into my now-patented "We're not gay!" speech and I nervously jam my hands into my coat pockets.  Unexpectedly, I feel the plastic edge of the fake ID you gave me yesterday, snuggled where I left it.
I finger it thoughtfully, a dangerous shiver shimmering up my spine.
I'm no longer Olivia Spencer and you're no longer Natalia Rivera, I realize.  We're no longer boss and employee, no longer friends who share a house with my daughter and the giant awkward elephant that is my love for you.  Now we're Melissa Anderson and Laura Santiago and we're blank pages. 

I can tell whatever story I want.

And what I want is a different story.  For just five minutes, I want...us.

"Hmm...seven years," I say, clearing my throat.  "In June." 

My eyes must still show hesitance because she rests her hand on my forearm and says, "Don't worry.  I'm not one of those crazy religious zealots with their heads stuck up their asses."  She laughs and I smile with her.  "My brother, Danny, and his partner, Bill, just celebrated their 21st anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  They've been together longer than both of my marriages combined."  She laughs again.

"I've had a few of those," I say ruefully, rolling my eyes with the ridiculousness of it all.

She looks surprised.  "Marriages?"

I nod, searching out my daughter amidst the crowds of tourists, smiling wistfully at her and at you as you run pennies through the penny-stamping machine.  Are you guys going to play with everything in the store or what? 

"Em was the one and only good thing to come from the last one.  My sweet miracle baby...." 
Remembering her birth and the year I kept her secret from her father, I'm suddenly lost in the terror of Phillip again, staring off into space, my body tensing.  The cold grip of dread begins to squeeze my heart and my blood pounds in my ears.  The woman senses the dark turn in my mood and gently brings me back to the present.

"Where did you meet...um..."  She glances at you across the room and I realize she's waiting for a name.

"Laura," I say.  The name feels strange in my mouth but at least I don't mangle it.  Not bad for the first time.  "I'm sorry...I'm Melissa."  Two for two.  So far, so good. 

"Robin," she says, glancing at her name tag.  "So, where did you meet Laura?"

"At work.  I was the boss.  So cliché, right?"

Robin grins.  "Was it love at first sight?" she teases.

I shake my head firmly, laughing.  "Oh hell no!  We hated each other.  It was...it was bad.  I was so awful to her!  And she was...well, she didn't like me much but she was always civil."  I remember a few of the less civil conversations we had and amend my assessment.  "Well, mostly."

I should be more worried about how easily this lie is tumbling from my lips, but it feels so good to talk about us the way I imagine it, the way I hope it could be.  I know it's selfish and stupid and probably a thousand other really disturbing things, but I can't help it.  I glance at you, intending to make sure you're far enough away that you won't overhear me, and I see you and Emma standing behind a novelty photograph stand with the two middle heads of Mount Rushmore cut out to allow for grinning tourist faces.  You catch me watching you and you whisper something to Emma.  Then suddenly you both wave at me, calling, "Hi, Mommy!" 
My heart melts.  Right there.  One big sloshy puddle between my lungs. 
I wave back weakly.

"But then I got sick," I whisper.  "And she was the only person who seemed to care what happened to me."  Inevitable tears sting my eyes.  I blink them away.  "She fought for me.  I'd given up but she wouldn't let me.  She wouldn't let me throw away the second chance I'd been given.  It was that, more than anything, that made me realize...." 
I still can't say it. 

"That you'd fallen in love with her?" prompts Robin. 
Yeah.  That.

I nod.  "It took us a while to work things out," I say, somewhat cryptically.

"Well, it's clear you did.  She adores you--that much is obvious."

I am...thunderstruck.  I look from her to you and back to her, my eyes probably as large as the decorative plates this woman is peddling.  I forget myself and the lie and squeak, "It is?"

Robin laughs again.  "Um, hello?  Have you looked at her recently?"  She shakes her head at me again, then looks down at the jewelry counter.  "You should get the earrings you were debating about.  A little romantic gift?"  She waggles her eyebrows at me.  "Maybe you'll get lucky tonight...."
I'll be lucky if I don't die of a heart attack right this fucking second, I think to myself, gaping at the woman.  Blood rushes to my cheeks--and to other locations--as my disobedient brain conjures too many vividly detailed images of what I've been trying not to imagine for the last month. 

Your head thrown back....  My fingers wound in your long, dark hair....  Your body beneath mine.... 

God help me.

"Seven years and you still blush like a newlywed?"  Robin whistles.  "You've got it bad."  She reaches into the case and retrieves the pair of earrings I was looking at earlier.  "Why don't I just wrap these up for you?" she crows as she heads to the cash register, inordinately pleased with herself.

I nod weakly and hold onto the edge of the counter as if my life depends on it.

Which, at the moment, it does.


Comments are love!

Revolos55: Land Before Time - Squeerevolos55 on April 7th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Opening line is fantastic. The lines about the cape and the shotglasses are great too.

The part about Natalia also having shifting looks was cool, and hooray for dimple mentions.

Also loved the bit where Olivia realizes she can make up a whole new story and goes for it whole hog.

"Well, it's clear you did. She adores you--that much is obvious." - Fucking squee, right there. I just about died. Love love love.
seftiri: Olivia Spencer Sweet Smileseftiri on April 8th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
This chapter does seem to be a popular one. I want each of the women to have a pivotal conversation with a stranger. Olivia's just happened to come first. :)