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rocketfic | somehow we get there

Title: Somehow We Get There by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Olivia/Natalia
Notes: Set amongst spoilers for the week of April 20th, with a couple (hopeful) assumptions about the wedding and a certain Spaulding's ability to avoid the clutches of law enforcement. The title is borrowed from a song by Melissa Ferrick.

They were in the office when it happened, working in tandem just as they had for months.

Side by side at Olivia's desk, they compared layouts for their upcoming sales presentation, until eventually Natalia noticed Olivia's hand at the small of her back. She looked over and found herself pinned by intense green eyes that radiated unmistakable love and desire.

And then she'd stepped away, out of the warm circle of Olivia's grasp.

She saw love fade to hurt in those eyes, feeling it in her gut like a physical blow. In that second, Natalia knew exactly what was going to happen next. She texted Jane and asked her to keep Emma for the evening.

Predictably, like some passive-aggressive Old Faithful, Olivia had sulked through the remaining hours of their day, and was silent the entire ride home. The argument ahead of them brewed like a storm, which finally broke at the dinner table over mashed potatoes and broccoli.

"So, at some point are you actually gonna try to get over all those hang-ups?"

Natalia rolled her eyes. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"All I did was touch you, and you..." Olivia waved in frustration, searching for the word. "You recoiled from me."

"I didn't 'recoil.' I stepped away because it wasn't appropriate behavior in the workplace."

"Well, you could probably take that up with your boss," Olivia said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Oh wait. I bet she's okay with it."

"Anybody could walk into that office at any time," Natalia fired back.


"So?! Someone could have seen us."

Olivia sat back, slowly. "And what would they have seen?"

Natalia's nostrils flared, but she didn't answer. As new as the latest phase of their relationship was, this was already a well-traveled path.

"They might have seen two women who happen to be in love with each other," Olivia said with a diffident shrug. "Or maybe they'd just see someone who's too wrapped up in her own shame to admit..."

"I am not ashamed of how I feel," Natalia snapped.

Olivia leaned forward again. "You could have fooled me," she said, low and dangerous, as she snatched her plate off the table and stood to toss it in the sink.

"There's such a thing as propriety," Natalia countered.

"Screw propriety! Natalia, I love you and I want to shout it from the rooftops. I just think it'd be nice if you felt even remotely the same."

"That's not fair."

"You're right. It's not."

Natalia's jaw set, and she reverted to professional mode to rein in her anger. "Okay. I'm going to go drop off the presentation files at the printer."

"Fine," Olivia spat, throwing a frustrated hand into the air. "You do that."

Professional mode or not, Natalia enjoyed slamming the door behind her.

She finished every tedious work errand she could think of an hour later, but still found her gut burning with frustration. Out of sheer habit she'd headed for Company, remembering almost too late that she did not yet have the nerve to face the collective Coopers. With a sigh, she backtracked to Towers, plunked down in a remote booth and ordered a glass of wine.

She kept her head down, avoiding the curious eyes she could feel aimed at her from all corners of the restaurant, and didn't notice the tall form that sidled up to her table.

"Mind if I join you?"

Natalia looked up to see Phillip Spaulding already settling into the seat across from her. "Uh..."

"It's nice to see you too," he said brightly, waving at the waiter for a drink. "How are you, Natalia?"

"Peachy," she muttered.

"Yeah. I heard you've had a busy week," he said.

"I bet you did."

"So it's true? You ditched Frank Cooper at the altar for Olivia?"

She groaned and buried her face in her hands.

"I thought that looked like Olivia-induced frustration," he said, sounding positively gleeful. "Welcome to the club."

"This isn't funny," she hissed. "The whole town has been whispering about it. They're all staring at me."

"I beg to differ. They're staring at me."

She lifted her head just enough to squint up at him in disbelief.

Phillip loosed a manic grin, which prompted the waiter to drop his drink on the table and flee. "They might think you've turned spontaneously gay, but they think I'm criminally insane. That means I win."

Natalia slowly sat up, realizing he was right, and that he'd sat down with her for exactly that reason. He was using his own status as an outcast to buffer against hers. It was kind of nice, in a weird way. "So, out of curiosity, what do you think?"

He looked off into the distance with a thoughtful expression. "I think I'm tragically misunderstood."

"I meant, about me," she said, exasperated.

"Oh. You're asking if I think you're gay? I'm pretty sure you're the only one who can answer that question."

It was a perfectly reasonable and utterly infuriating answer. She sighed and leaned back in her seat, still tallying the furtive glances pointed their way.

"Mostly, I think you're good for my daughter," he said, speculative. "And regardless of your overall inclinations, I think you're Olivia's match. I've known her a long time, but I've never known her to be at peace like she is now. That's all because of you. And I'm glad, because she deserves it."

She stared at him, trying to detect anything disingenuous about his words and failing.

Phillip made a dismissive gesture encompassing the rest of the people in the room and the town beyond. "Don't bother yourself with the Springfield gossip, Natalia. You and whatever scandalous things are happening at that farmhouse will be old news in a week."

"It'll be a long week," she muttered.

He chuckled, then gave her a shrug. "I suspect the end result is worth it."

Natalia watched him for a moment, realizing that the "end result" was the exasperating, wonderful woman waiting for her at home. In an abrupt flurry of motion, she ripped open her purse, threw some bills on the table, and slid out of the booth. "I have to go," she announced.

"I'm sure you do," Phillip replied. He grinned and sipped at his drink.

She paused, eyeing him uncertainly. "You know, I don't get you," she said.

He lifted his glass in a mock toast. "Like I said - 'tragically misunderstood.'"

"I don't understand your motivations. And I don't trust that you have Emma's best interests at heart. Yet."

Phillip waited, studying her resolve.

"But thank you."

"You're welcome, Natalia," he said with a smile.

It seemed awfully genuine. She nodded and left.

She braced herself as she strode up the sidewalk to the house, unsurprised to see Olivia seated on the porch bench. They stared at each other as she drew closer, trying to feel out their respective moods.

When she was just a couple steps away, Natalia took a deep breath and dove in. "Look. I was a good Catholic girl who got knocked up at the age of sixteen with no means of supporting myself or my child," she said. Her voice shook just a little. "I know shame. But loving you? That is not something I will ever be ashamed of."

Tears immediately sprung to Olivia's eyes. "Okay," she whispered.

"What I am is scared. And not really sure who I am anymore. And I'm not ready to be a poster child for an alternative lifestyle."

"Okay," Olivia said again.

"I want some time to understand 'us' before I have to explain it to anyone else. And I need my best friend to support me while I figure it all out."

"Always," the friend in question vowed.

Natalia nodded, then turned and sat on the bench. She took Olivia's hand and lifted it across her own shoulder in a half-hug. Olivia immediately pulled her closer, leaning over to press a kiss to Natalia's dark hair.

"So maybe we could find a 'starter' rooftop for me to shout from? Something low to the ground?" She looked over as Olivia chuckled. "With one of those nets firefighters use?"

"You don't have to do any of that," Olivia said. "I'm sorry for pushing you."

"You didn't, not really. I've just been hearing people talk, like they always do... And this isn't the first time I've wished I had your confidence." Natalia exhaled a sad sigh. "But you know, when I look back at all you were willing to sacrifice, all for the sake of my happiness... Olivia, you've been shouting all along. I'm sorry I didn't hear you."

"You did when it mattered," Olivia whispered.

Natalia sniffled back tears, and looked into Olivia's eyes. "I really do love you," she said with a tremulous smile.

"I love you," Olivia replied, shaky but sure.

It was hard to reconcile the resulting tug of pure joy with the weight of guilt she still bore, but as Olivia nuzzled against her neck, Natalia suspected joy was eventually going to win this round. "I'll be glad when Spring finally shows up," she said idly. "It would be nice to have meaningful conversations on this bench when it's a bit warmer. And then we can watch the baby birds learn to fly."

Olivia smiled and pulled back a bit. "And in the summer we can count fireflies," she murmured, cherishing the dreamy, reflective smile that brought out Natalia's dimples. "And make Emma rake leaves in the fall."

Natalia laughed and elbowed her. "We'll buy a leaf blower."

"Or make Rafe do it," they said together, laughing.

Ahead of them stretched out dozens of seasons, all beautiful, all shared with in this home with their children. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once, and Olivia was loathe to break the spell with the mundanity of real life. "So... now's probably not the best time to tell you this," she began. "But there was a teeny incident with the washing machine, earlier."

Natalia's eyebrows shot up as she peered sideways at Olivia, not sure she wanted to know more. "How 'teeny?'"

"It's kind of... Bubble Armageddon in the laundry room right now."

Natalia shut her eyes, and let her head loll backwards.

"I was letting them die down a bit before I go back and start bailing."

At that, Natalia snorted in laughter, and Olivia joined in. The lingering worries between them dissolved as giggles in the twilight.

"I probably shouldn't be left to my own devices," Olivia said, dabbing at stray moisture in her eyes.

"No, you really shouldn't. Why were you doing laundry, anyway?"

The other woman winced. "I thought maybe you'd think it was cute and you'd stop being mad at me." She caught Natalia's amused look and shrugged. "I'm new at this too, okay?"

Natalia shook her head in her trademark What on earth am I going to do with you? way, then stood up. "I'm not mad at you," she said, offering a hand down to her friend. "And you are pretty cute. Let's go save my laundry room."

With a triumphant grin, Olivia grabbed the outstretched hand and let herself be pulled to her feet. "You think I'm cute?"

"God, Olivia," Natalia said, exasperated. She tugged the front door open. "'Bubble Armageddon?'"

"I was going to go with 'Soapy Shock and Awe,' but that seemed a bit tacky."

"You think?" Natalia fired back, as the door shut behind them.

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