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rocketfic | off the bench

Title: Off the Bench by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Olivia/Natalia
Notes: Set late in the day after the events on 5/28, with an interpretation of a spoiler for the first week of June.

These days, the farmhouse felt like her own personal gravity well, one she could circle endlessly but never quite escape.

Which was why, long after dropping Emma at her sleepover, Olivia found herself pulling into the driveway for the second time that day. She paced slowly up the sidewalk, absolutely unsurprised to see Natalia sitting on the bench that overlooked the front yard.

"Hi," she said quietly.

"Hi," Natalia replied, favoring her with a warm, if uncertain smile.

Mindful of the extra set of ears lurking about the farmhouse these days, Olivia cast a look toward the barn. "Want to go for a walk?"

"Sure," came the answer, and a pathetically grateful look. Natalia stood, and they ambled down the path in silence.

When safely within the barn and out of sight they alternated between standing too close and not close enough, fighting desire and propriety at the same time.

"I missed you," Natalia said. She laughed at herself. "You know, because it's been hours since I saw you last."

Olivia grinned. "I know what you mean. I missed you, too. How was dinner?"

"Awkward," Natalia replied, with honest frustration. "Things aren't going very well."

Once again they drew closer together, automatically seeking the comfort of proximity. Olivia tried to fight it, to ignore that irresistible pull, but she wasn't sure she'd ever stop falling toward it. With effort she took a step away, tucking her hands into her pockets and kicking at a pebble on the barn floor. "About that... I've been thinking... Maybe I shouldn't be around here, so much. For a while."

"What? Why?"

"Because you need time with your son, and you don't need me pressuring you into telling him more than he's ready to hear."

Natalia stopped to consider that, her face shifting from surprise to resolute denial. "No."

Olivia ignored the objection and kept talking. "I just think it might be best, for everybody..."

"Olivia, I said 'no.'" Natalia shook her head in disbelief. "Why do you keep doing this?"

That caught Olivia's attention. She reared a bit. "Doing what?"

"Stopping us before we even get started. You don't get to decide everything all the time," Natalia declared. Her voice shook with anger. "You don't get to dictate how this goes."

That much was clear, as the conversation was not going remotely as Olivia had expected. "I'm trying to give you space," she said, summoning anger of her own to temper her confusion.

"I don't want space! I want you!" Natalia cried.

"Well, I'm really frustrated right now!" Olivia yelled back.

"You think I'm not?! I've spent the past three days wanting to bean Rafe in the head with that baseball he and Frank have been tossing around. How is that 'mentorship?' And why does he need a mentor, anyway? That judge sat in that courtroom and told me I'm not enough of a role model for my own son. Do you know how that feels?" She lifted her hands helplessly as the words tumbled out of her mouth. "And I'm supposed to be happy right now! This is supposed to be everything I've ever wanted. But I keep wishing you were here instead..." Her face crumpled as she trailed off with a faint sob.

In an instant, Olivia was crying too, and she lurched forward to enfold the other woman in her arms. Natalia clung to her blindly, pressing her open mouth against the soft skin of Olivia's neck.

"I'm a failure," Natalia gasped. "I've failed him."

"No," Olivia said firmly. "You haven't. Not even a little bit."

"He's so withdrawn, and I can't reach him, and I should be able to handle this on my own."

"Says who?"

Natalia pulled away, searching Olivia's face. "Says you - just now."

"Yeah, well, I lied," Olivia fired back, not unkindly. She reached up with gentle hands to wipe away the tears on Natalia's cheeks. "And I'm sorry. The whole 'space' thing sounded like a good idea in my head."

"I definitely don't need space, Olivia. I need your help."

She took a sharp breath, knowing exactly how much that admission cost. "Well, we're a team, right?" She tucked her fingers around Natalia's, anchoring them both. "We're in this together. For us and for our kids. Even if they don't know that, yet."

Natalia shut her eyes, letting her head loll in frustration. "And it would be so much easier if he did know, but I just don't think he's ready..."

"So we don't tell him anything," Olivia said, dismissing the worry. "We'll be discreet. I pretended I wasn't in love with you for a long time. I can do it again."

Against expectation, Natalia burst out laughing as she wiped away the last of the moisture under her eyes. "Right. Cheerleaders with pompoms would have been more discreet."

"Hey!" Olivia said with an outraged scowl. "I kept you in the dark long enough."

"Not nearly as long as you think," Natalia countered, still chuckling.

Olivia glowered, but let it go. Standing here, hand in hand with this woman she loved beyond all good sense, it was hard to feel insecure about what had come before. "Okay," she drawled. "So - ground rules. I can't tackle you in the living room and kiss you for days. For example."

"No, that would probably be bad."

She decided she wasn't imagining the wistfulness in Natalia's voice, and risked tilting a little farther toward an admission of shameless desire. "And... I can't push you up against the counter during breakfast and have my way with you."

"N-no. That's definitely out." Natalia swallowed, hard.

With a predatory grin, Olivia drifted closer, feeling their combined heat mingle in the air between them. "How about we just make out when we're alone in the barn in the middle of the night? That work for you?"

Natalia smiled and cast a speculative look at their surroundings. "That could work, yeah."

The kiss that followed was sweet and tender, and eventually they parted with a shared sigh.

"I'm here. I'm with you," Olivia said. "You don't have to do this on your own."

"Because we're a team," Natalia said, making it sound like a vow. "Even when you overreact and try to be all noble and self-sacrificing for my sake."

Olivia shrugged. "Yeah, it wasn't my best plan," she admitted. "Points for trying?"

"I suppose." She smiled and leaned forward to press her lips to Olivia's cheek, all too briefly.

They indulged in a moment of gazing goofily at each other before Olivia cocked her head toward the door. "C'mon, teammate. I'll walk you back before Rafe misses you."

In a fit of daring, they held hands all the way to the door, and floated within each other's personal space all the way to the foot of the stairs. Finally they bade each other goodnight, and Olivia watched Natalia slowly climb the stairs.

She stayed there a full minute, digging her fingers into the rail. She knew she should go. She should go back to the Beacon, count tonight as a victory, and leave well enough alone.

Eventually she heaved a sigh, ceding to gravity once more. This time the pull tugged her up the stairs, to Rafe's closed door. She let herself in softly and looked him over for a moment as he slept before aiming a stiletto heel at the edge of the bed in a nice, sharp kick.

Rafe sat up in a panic. "Jesus! What the fuck?"

"Watch your language," she barked.


She stepped forward, and twisted her fingers into the collar of his ratty tshirt to get a good grip. "Shut up and listen, kid. You've sulked around here long enough."

"What the hell are you doing in my room?"

"You think you've had it so tough. You think you deserve understanding and pity. That's bullshit. You have your mother, which is more than you deserve. She has given you everything she's ever had, for your entire life. You don't get to piss on that because you think you're having ex-con angst."

He looked up at her in utter confusion, clawing at his covers in a bid to get away. "Huh?"

"You're gonna get a job. You're gonna go to school. You're gonna make something of yourself for her sake, because she deserves better than your self-indulgent sniveling. Got it?"

"Olivia..." he breathed, half-laughing in disbelief.

"She and I will help you when you need it, but you will man up and give her the respect she's earned. That starts with eating your goddamned breakfast in the morning, 'cause she loves you enough to make it. Have I made myself clear?"

He looked away, trying to summon the defiance that had gotten him past the bullies in prison. He didn't get the chance, as the grip on his collar tightened and shook him a little. "Yes, okay? Yes. You're clear," he sputtered. "Jesus."

"Good." She released her hold on his clothing and smoothed the shirt back down. She could feel his gaze on her as she stepped back to the door. "And you'd better get used to me and my daughter being around," she continued. "A lot. I'm still a rent-paying tenant of this place, and we're not going anywhere." She could see the challenge that rose in his eyes, the fire so like his mother's, and she stared it back down.

"Fine," he spat, with grudging respect.

"Then I'll see you in the morning. It's pancake day."

His mouth worked in restrained anger. "I love pancakes," he ground out at last.

"Good answer." She smiled, just a little, then slipped out of the room and closed the door behind her. Down the hall, Natalia had her head poked out of her own bedroom, watching Olivia with a mixture of awe, hope, and disbelief.

"So Rafe's all excited about pancake day," Olivia announced wryly as she stepped closer. "Mind if I bring Emma by?"

"Of course not," Natalia murmured, fighting tears.

"Great." Olivia snuck a peek over her shoulder to make sure Rafe's door was still safely closed, then lifted a hand to Natalia's cheek for a brief caress. "Good night," she whispered, before breaking contact and leaving once and for all.

She couldn't restrain a self-satisfied smirk as she let herself out and hopped back into her car. She felt lighter and more sure of herself than she had since that tearful confession in a frigid graveyard so many weeks ago.

Upon reflection, noble self-sacrifice had never really fit her properly. It rankled, making her guts itch, and she'd only worn it for Natalia's sake.

Brazen, bossy confidence, on the other hand, fit like a glove. And right now, her family - her team - needed exactly that.

She could do this. For the first time, she was sure of it. She was back in the game.

A passing glance in the rearview revealed Natalia's familiar silhouette in her bedroom window, watching her drive away.

Olivia grinned. They could do this.

"Go team," she whispered, as she turned onto the dark road at the end of the drive.

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