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rocketfic | taking leave

Title: Taking Leave by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Olivia/Natalia
Notes: Like many fans, I've been less than thrilled with the latest plot developments in this series. This is how I would fix it, if only they'd let me. Spoilers for late June/early July.

Natalia bolted awake with a small cry, fighting against the tangle of her sheets.

"Whoa, easy, sweetheart. Are you going to be sick again?"

She stopped struggling and looked around, seeing the familiar warm tones of her bedroom. Olivia had pushed herself out of the chair near the window, and was approaching slowly.

"Okay, you might not think so, but this really is an important question," Olivia said, in the tone reserved for injured animals and woozy girlfriends. "Are you gonna be sick again?" She bent and grabbed the bucket on the floor, just in case.

"No?" Natalia whispered. Her voice was rough, unused. "What happened?"

With obvious relief, Olivia dropped the bucket and perched on the edge of the bed. "The Bauer barbecue, remember? Bad potato salad?" She smiled and reached out to smooth Natalia's hair away from her face. "You weren't feeling so hot beforehand, and then the food poisoning really knocked you for a loop. Your fever finally broke last night."

"How long?"

"Three days," Olivia answered, still running gentle fingertips across Natalia's scalp. "I think the stress of the past few weeks just finally caught up with you."

"I'm not... pregnant?"

The other woman blinked in surprise, and flicked her eyes toward Natalia's abdomen. "Um, I really doubt it."

"I thought I..." Natalia trailed off with a pained breath, and pressed her hand to her belly. "I thought..." Finally, the fog began to clear from her brain, and she realized that not much of what she thought had happened had actually happened. "I thought I'd hurt you," she finished miserably.

Olivia scooted closer. "No, of course you didn't. You scared me, especially when Rafe called and told me you were halfway down the driveway with a suitcase muttering about 'Mother Superior.'" She closed her eyes and visibly shook off the remembered terror of that moment. "But you didn't hurt me. We're okay. All of us. Even Father Ray."

Natalia's eyes were wide in confusion.

"Your first victim, at the barbecue. You puked all over his shoes," Olivia explained, with just a tiny hint of glee. "But c'mon - you know he had it coming."

There was a timid knock on the door before Emma peeked in, with a giant white surgical mask obscuring most of her face. "Is Natalia okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine, sweetheart," Natalia replied, with an instant smile.

"Can I come in and give you a hug?"

"Wash your hands first, Doctor Jellybean," Olivia advised, grinning when her daughter immediately ducked out to do as instructed. She met the question in Natalia's eyes with a shrug. "I kinda told her you had swine flu," she admitted. "Thought maybe it would break her of her unfortunate petting zoo habit."

Natalia reached out to deliver a light admonishing slap on her arm, chuckling when Olivia smirked back. The world was slowly righting itself under her, dispelling the vivid imaginings of a fever-addled mind. Now she could remember long hours huddled under her covers, miserably sick and shivering, able only to hear Olivia's voice calling her name, over and over, anchoring her, trying to pull her back.

A moment later, Emma bounded into the room, leaping onto the bed and smothering Natalia with a clumsy, solid embrace. Then she sat back, settling between her two moms like she'd always belonged in exactly that spot.

"So is it really you under there?" Natalia asked, reaching out with a delicate finger to tug the oversized mask down Emma's nose.

Emma giggled. "Of course it's me! We've been taking care of you."

"Well thank you for that," Natalia said. "I'm feeling lots better."

"Good! And when you're all better, can we move back in? So we can be a real family again?"

Hazily, Natalia remembered it had been the first question Emma asked when they'd explained the nature of their new relationship, right before the barbecue. She and Olivia had deferred - again - and said they'd have to discuss it a bit. Now she met Olivia's gaze, and saw the same question there, too. "I think that'd be great, honey," she answered, for the benefit of both Spencers in the room. There was no mistaking the elation on Emma's face, even obscured behind that silly mask. She gratefully accepted another hug, and returned Olivia's tremulous, joyful smile.

"Ma?" called a voice from downstairs. "Olivia? Anybody?"

"Go see if Rafe needs some help with the groceries, okay, kiddo?" Olivia said.

Emma obligingly flung herself off the bed and thumped down the stairs toward her would-be big brother.

"He went shopping to get you clear liquids and stuff," Olivia said. "He said he wanted to make you the thing you always made him when he was sick..."

"... sugarless orange Jell-o with club soda," Natalia said with a chuckle. She fell backwards against her headboard, suddenly exhausted. "Is he okay?"

"He's okay," Olivia replied, judiciously not mentioning the occasional sullen exchange they'd had in regard to his mother's care. "We're getting there." She took a moment to fuss with the covers, using the ministrations as a wholly transparent excuse to touch Natalia, stroking her forearm and eventually settling on tangling their fingers together.

"How was the rest of the barbecue?"

"You mean, before people started spewing potato salad everywhere?" Olivia asked wryly. "Oh, it was great. Rick swore it's the last one he'll ever have."

Natalia chuckled. "But did anyone... you know, react? About us?"

"Actually, I don't think anyone was all that surprised." Olivia paused with a thoughtful scowl. "Which annoys me. I wanted to shock somebody."

"Of course you did." She settled into her pillows and smiled. "Maybe we could drive up to Chicago and introduce you to my mom. You'd get your shock value then."

"Oooh. I love this plan." Olivia bent and pressed a kiss to Natalia's forehead, relieved at the lack of unnatural heat pouring off her skin. "And I love you," she whispered.

"Love you too," Natalia replied, with a sleepy smile.

Unable to resist the pull between then, Olivia dipped again, this time meeting Natalia's lips in a gentle, soft kiss. They were both smiling when they parted.

"That'll be a lot nicer once I've had the chance to brush my teeth," Natalia muttered.

Olivia exhaled a faint laugh. "I bet." With one last tug to settle the blankets, she sat up and pointed at her designated post at the window. "I'll be right over there if you need anything."

Half-asleep already, Natalia could only manage a faint jerk of her head. "No. Stay."

"You sure?"

"Mm," Natalia grunted. She'd latched firmly onto Olivia's hand, clearly not wanting to let her get very far away. In a few moments, Olivia had slipped under the covers and scooted against Natalia's side, smiling as they relaxed into each other.

Hours later, when Natalia woke again in Olivia's embrace, she let herself wonder how her brain could have imagined she would have gone anywhere other than this very spot, with this very woman.

There was nowhere else she ever wanted to be.

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