Rating: Mostly PG-13, eventual NC-17 for sex and violence (Not between our girls though…the violence that is…promise. The other? Well…teehee).
Disclaimer: These wonderful ladies and the rest of the town belong to CBS, Telenext, and P&G. I’m just having some fun with them.
Spoilers: I don’t think so. This story picks up at the “no more waiting” gazebo scene and goes off canon.
Summary: Nat gets the shock of her life and it turns Liv’s world upside down.
Warning: Not beta’d so if it sucks, there’s only me to blame.
Links to previous chapters:
Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8 - Chapter 9 - Chapter 10
Josh fell to the floor as the bullet whizzed past his head and embedded into the wall behind him. Olivia heard nothing except the rush of air and crunch of ribs as she barreled into Edmund’s chest, shoulder first. The hard landing he took cushioned her fall and she was instantly straddling him, her hands gripping what she could of his short hair and ramming his head into the concrete beneath him over and over again. She punctuated each crash of his skull into the concrete with curses and incoherent rages. He made a feeble attempt to raise his hand, the gun still gripped tightly in his fist, but Josh came up and kicked it from his hand before he could even turn it on his attacker.
Josh pulled Olivia off of Edmund even as she struggled against him, wanting to make him suffer and feel every bit of pain all of them had experienced.
He struggled to control her, but eventually got her attention the only way he knew how, “Olivia! Olivia, look at me! Where’s Natalia? We have to find Natalia.”
It was like she came back to herself at that moment. The knowledge that they still weren’t sure where Natalia was struck her hard and she may have very well incapacitated or killed the one who knew definitively.
She swallowed and looked down at Edmund, blood coming from his nose and ears, evidence of the force of her attack, “I…I’ll look for her.”
Josh nodded and bent over Edmund, checking for a pulse. It was faint, but with the extent of his head injury, he wasn’t sure if survival was a good outcome for him. His head rest in a thick and widening pool of blood and a gurgling could be heard coming from his throat. He sighed, knowing that wasn’t a good sign. He said a quick prayer over Edmund and waited. When no movement or sound came, he felt again for a pulse. Nothing.
He felt around in Edmund’s pockets and when he found what he was looking for, he stood and went to find Olivia.
Olivia checked every door down the hallway, banging on each, frantically attempting to open them. She had to be here somewhere. Why else would Edmund have even been in this area if she wasn’t? She tried not to think about what she had done to Edmund. It was hard to believe that he was the same man she had played Rock Band with just months ago. What had gone so terribly wrong to make him do this?
She incriminated herself in the painful possibility that she had put the woman she loved and their family and friends at greater risk over her inability to control her anger. She had always been an out of control type of person, but she had never had to consider the pain and danger it put others in until now. One moment of losing control could very well cost Natalia her life.
The tears welled up as she banged relentlessly on doors, “Natalia! Natalia, where are you? Baby, answer me!”
She turned at the end of the hallway and ran her hands shakily through her hair. Josh came toward her, a grim look on her face. He shook his head and she finally let the tears fall.
“Oh God! Josh, what have I done?”
He pulled her to him and allowed her a moment to pull herself together. He didn’t allow her the chance to wallow in her self-pity and recrimination though.
“Any luck finding her?” She shook her head but didn’t answer. He reached into his pocket, “Maybe this will help.”
She pulled back to see him dangling a set of keys from his fingers. A huge smile broke out on her face and she actually started to laugh a little. She took the set and tested each until she found the one that works on the palace doors. She opened the first door and the room was completely empty. She tried the key on the next door and it worked as well. This room only held a small cot.
Door-by-door she worked her way down the hall. They were almost back to where Edmund’s body now rested and Olivia became more concerned that the assumption that Natalia had to be close to where they found Edmund may have been wrong. With each door she opened, she prayed harder.
They were now less than ten feet from where they found Edmund and there were only two doors between them left to check. She looked to Josh, hoping to see some glimmer of optimism, but he only gave her a short nod of acknowledgement as she turned with shaking hands to unlatch the door in front of her. She held her breath for what now felt like the hundredth time today. She knew even if they found her it may not turn out good. She pushed the door and found resistance. She pushed harder and it gave some. Josh stepped up and helped her. Enough light came into the room to see a pair of jean clad legs that Olivia recognized as Rafe’s.
“Oh God, Josh. Push harder, they’re here.” There was a risk of breaking his leg or otherwise hurting him, but they had to get in the room.
They forced the door enough for Josh to get his foot in the door and edge Rafe’s legs out of the way, and as they pushed more, they essentially rolled him onto his side. Olivia stuck her head in the door and on the other side, she could see Natalia limp as a ragdoll against the wall and just to her left was Frank.
“Natalia!” She desperately squeezed herself through the opening and when she got in, she slid Rafe out of the way so Josh could open the door all the way. The light spilling into the room highlighted the wretchedness of Natalia’s living conditions. The stench was overwhelming and Olivia felt the urge to throw up.
She crawled over to Natalia, gently running her fingers over her face, “Baby…Natalia…come on, baby, wake up.” She found the place where her pulse would be and felt it, strong and steady. Olivia closed her eyes, “Thank you God.”
She could hear Josh behind her checking on Rafe and Frank, but all she could think of was Natalia. Carefully, she checked her for injuries and couldn’t see anything except for a dark bruise on her cheek. She was hoping this was what had her unconscious and not a head wound. If she’d just wake up, she’d feel a lot more confident about that possibility.
“Olivia,” Josh spoke from behind her and she turned to look at him, “How is she?”
“She’s breathing and her pulse is strong, but she’s out cold. I think he knocked her unconscious.” The thought of Edmund physically hitting Natalia took away a good portion of the guilt she felt over killing him. “I’m afraid to ask about them.”
He sighed, “We have to get out of here right away. There’s no time, Olivia. Rafe’s holding his own but Frank…it’s not good.”
“Okay. Well, there are three of them and two of us. What do we do? I don’t think we can use the main exit. I’m pretty sure that crumbled in the earthquake.”
He nodded his head, thinking of their options, “A couple of the rooms we opened had cots, right?”
“They were really basic though.”
He smiled, “That’s all we need. We can strap two together, and I can pull those. You can get Natalia on the other one.”
“That could work. How are we going to get them over that basin and out the tunnel though?”
“We’re not. We’re going out the front door or whatever is considered the front door now. I really don’t think that Edmund managed to get an unconscious or even struggling woman down that tunnel and around that basin. There has to be another entrance, an easier entrance into the castle.”
She held Natalia’s hand in her own, looking at her peaceful face and realizing that they had no choice. They had to get out of here, “Okay, let’s get started on those cots.”
For the next hour, they pulled three cots out into the hallway and dismantled them so that all was left was the actual bed and two bars on the sides. Josh found a remaining cot in another room and pulled strips of cloth from the padding to make ties to hold the two cots together and also hold their passengers on without sliding and causing further injury.
When they were finished, they carefully moved Frank, then Rafe, and finally Natalia to their respective cots. Natalia was on the single cot that Olivia was pulling to keep the weight distributed evenly on Josh’s load. Once Frank and Rafe were stabilized on the cots, he tested the weight to ensure it would hold. Satisfied with their work and ready to go, he looked at Olivia.
“Show me the way home.”
The progress was slow weaving their way back through the castle. Every few feet, Josh would have to set Frank and Rafe down to move rocks and debris from their path and when they reached a stairwell, Olivia would have to set Natalia down and help Josh get his pair down the narrow and twisting steps. Then they’d have to go back for Natalia.
It seemed like hours before they reached a possible option for getting out. Olivia surveyed the familiarity of the room and it suddenly struck her. It was the room where the ball was held that she had attended as a teenager. The images of that night assaulted her, but instead of letting them paralyze her with the fear it usually instilled, she focused on other memories of that night, most notably how she got to the room in the first place. She backed up her steps from that night and saw a set of large doors opening into the ballroom, before that was a long, wide entryway that led out to a balcony with a long curving staircase on either side that ended at the palace gardens.
Her memory stopped at the end of the garden path, where her life changed forever, but even to this day, she can hear the sound of the surf as it crashed in the not too far distance.
“This way,” she pulled Natalia and her cot over to the doors and tugged at one. It swung open and revealed a long and brightly lit hallway. Olivia sighed and looked back at Josh, his shoulders sagging. “Well, at least we can see where we’re going.”
He looked up at the wide swath of roof that had caved in about halfway down and the large pile of concrete blocking their path. He opened the other side of the double doors and pulled his load through it.
Olivia looked at him, incredulous, “You have a better idea, Olivia? I’d love to hear it.”
She followed behind him, “Exactly how do you plan to get past this?”
“The same way we got up and down the stairs.”
“Okay, Josh, I know I’ve been acting crazy, but this is truly insane. If one of those rocks slip, we could all be crushed beneath the avalanche.”
He didn’t listen to her as he set Rafe and Frank down a safe distance from the rocks and began to climb over them, testing for their sturdiness as he went. His foot slipped on a small piece of rubble and Olivia cringed, ready to cover Natalia with her body to protect her. When he reached the top, he turned back and smiled at her.
“Daylight, baby. I see the way out!”
“You do?” In spite of the anxiety of climbing the treacherous pile with their precious cargo, she wanted more than anything to get them all out of there and to safety as quickly as possible.
Josh scrambled back down and picked his end of the cots up, “Let’s go.”
The strain of climbing and holding up two grown men took its toll on Olivia. The first few rocks she climbed weren’t too bad but once they were more than halfway over the debris, her arms started to ache and her back began to knot up. Below she heard a low moan come from Natalia and she nearly dropped Frank and Rafe in her panic.
“Olivia! Come on, the faster we get them over, the faster we can get her over. Let’s go.”
With renewed strength, she pushed up and over the rocks. The path down was easier since the rocks had settled mostly to one side and were more leveled out. They managed to get Rafe and Frank down fairly quickly, and Olivia barely took a breath before heading back over to Natalia. When she reached the top and started her descent back, Natalia let out a scream and thrashed against her restraints. Olivia jumped down the remaining distance and scrambled to her side.
She took Natalia’s hand and ran soothing fingers through her long dark hair, now matted with sweat and dirt, “Natalia, it’s okay. Relax, baby, I’m right here. It’s okay, you’re safe.” She leaned close and whispered in her ear, continuing to run gentle caresses through her hair and over her face. Eventually, Natalia calmed and her breathing settled.
Josh squatted down beside them, “I think she had a small seizure.”
“No.” Olivia didn’t want to hear that. Seizures were not a good thing, and she didn’t want to think about the possibility.
“Either she has a head injury or it’s complications from the diabetes, but no matter what, we have to get her out of here. Let’s keep going.”
Olivia swiped at the tears covering her face and resolutely picked up the bottom half of the cot and followed Josh quietly over the rocks. They made quicker time with a lighter load and within a half hour they were moving out of the entryway into the sunlight.
The heat of the mid-afternoon sun had never been so welcome to Olivia. She literally breathed a sigh of relief as she and Josh passed under the large archway leading into the ballroom. The grounds now overrun with a variety of tropical plants at one time had been a breathtaking garden that led out to the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean. Above them the four-story castle sported a long balcony that ran half the length of the castle providing a fabulous bedside view of the ocean for several members of the royal family.
To each side of the balcony, turrets rose up high into the sky lending protection from invaders. Olivia recalled one particular turret with a spectacular view of the full moon sparkling over the ocean as music played in the ballroom below. She had been enchanted that night, but now the castle they moved away from carrying their cargo down and around the grounds to the side where their boat was moored, only held sadness and regret.
Josh sought a line toward the beach that had the most shade to protect their friends on the cots. When they finally reached the point where they had come ashore, he turned to a tired and concerned looking Olivia.
“Stay here with them. I’ll swim out to the boat and put in a call to the mainland to have them send two rescue helicopters.”
While she wouldn’t say it, she was thankful for the chance to rest and check on Natalia. While Josh dove into the crystal blue water, she checked Frank and Rafe. Rafe was still clammy and feverish, but his breathing was heavy and his heartbeat was strong. She didn’t have to get close to Frank though to know he was in trouble. His wound was already infected, a garish looking ooze and stench emanating from it. She checked his pulse anyway. It was slow and his breathing was shallow.
She gave his hand a squeeze, “Thank you. I know you love her too, and I know this has been hard for you but we wouldn’t have gotten this far without you. Hell, I’d probably be at the bottom of that basin if you hadn’t pulled me up. You’re not just my friend, Frank. You’re my hero.”
She leaned over and gave him a light kiss on the forehead, “Now hang in there, okay? I want the chance to say all of that to your face.”
In the distance, she heard the motor of the boat turn over and knew it would be at least another half hour before Josh got back. She crawled through the sand to Natalia’s side and curled up beside her as best she could, letting her fingers lazily trace the contours of her face. Even in her condition, dirt and grime causing her beautiful dark hair to stick together in clumps and the near week she had spent without a bath or basic hygiene, Olivia still thought she was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. Put her in a skimpy little pirate outfit and she would have looked like she had walked off the set of Pirates of the Caribbean, with her exotic looks and smudged and dirty face.
“Don’t you dare leave me now. We’re just getting started. We have so much left to do, so much left to see and experience together. I’ve waited all my life for you, for a love like this.” She took Natalia’s hand in her own, and nestled against her, “I love you…always.”
When Josh came ashore again, he saw Olivia asleep and curled up against Natalia, her arm draped across her stomach. The rescue crew would be there shortly but he didn’t wake her and allowed her every moment of peace she could get. He knew she had to be exhausted and the long trek back would be tough on all of them, not to mention the unknown of Natalia’s condition, so any rest she could get now would help her later on. So he let her rest as he leaned against a palm tree and waited.
He watched Olivia sleep and marveled at the woman she had become. She wasn’t the Olivia Spencer he had known and loved. She had become more, probably more than she ever imagined she could, because of Natalia’s love. Old Olivia would have never risked her life for anyone. She never would have considered the safety of anyone but herself, but he had seen her fight, cry, and breakdown over Rafe’s insistence on joining them. If anything happened to him, he knew that Olivia would be irrevocably damaged by it and it concerned him what would happen to Olivia and Natalia’s relationship if that did happen. All he could do was pray that Rafe and Natalia would both make it through this with as few lasting scars as possible. If not for their own sake, then for Olivia’s.
Frank was his biggest concern. Every moment that passed, he became more pessimistic about his survival. Anyone else would have been dead now, but something had him hanging on, fighting for each breath. He shook his head. Frank’s misplaced heroism, whether he realized it or not, in the hopes of winning Natalia’s affections, may have very well got him killed.
The gentle lapping of the waves against the shore had lulled Josh to sleep, but the steady thwacking of helicopter blades and the sting of flying sand hitting his face woke him up with a start. He shielded his eyes and found his way over to Frank and Rafe, covering them as best he could to keep the sand out of their wounds.
Olivia rolled herself further onto Natalia and covered their heads with her arms, until the helicopter came to rest on a level part of the beach about a hundred yards away. She glanced up to see a swarm of medical personnel scurry out of the belly of the helicopter like rats and race toward them carrying equipment and supplies. Further down the beach a second helicopter came in for a landing.
In a whirlwind, IV bags were hooked up, pulses were checked, and conditions were radioed in to the hospital on the mainland. The small laceration on Olivia’s head that Edmund had given her was cleaned and bandaged quickly and she was ushered into the helicopter with Natalia. On the flight back, her vitals were checked and she was given a bottle of water to rehydrate.
The questions seemed to be never-ending and it was wearing her patience thin. She just wanted them to look after Natalia, not interrogate her. She knew there would be time for that, but now she wasn’t humored by it.
The trip back to the mainland seemed to be taking forever, but in reality, they made better time getting back than when they had first flown down. The helicopter with Frank and Rafe landed first, followed by Olivia and Natalia. They were quickly whisked into the emergency room. Olivia fought it, but they insisted on separating them so her own injuries could be assessed. It took a lot of convincing and struggle, but Josh finally talked her into letting them do a scan to ensure she didn’t have any brain injuries. She only agreed to it though if Josh swore on Reva’s life that he’d find her as soon as he heard anything. When the doctor’s determined that Olivia was fine, except for some minor cuts and bruises, she was released but still not allowed to see Natalia. In the waiting room, she paced back and forth in front of Josh until he grabbed her hand and made her sit.
“You’re making me dizzy. Sit.”
Olivia plunked down heavily in the seat next to him, her feet and legs still moving in spite of her stationary position. He glanced sidelong at her and she looked back.
“What, Josh? I’m worried, okay? They need to come out and tell us something. They’ve been in there forever.”
He took her hand, “They haven’t even been in there an hour.”
He shook his head and she leaned back in her chair defeated. He let go of her hand and wrapped his arm around her, and she gratefully sank into the comfort.
“Thank you. For everything. Not many men would do this for their ex-wife.”
He smiled a little then, “You’re not just any ex-wife, Olivia. You’re a friend too.” He kissed the top of her head, “She’s going to be fine. You’ll see.”
Josh didn’t need to see her face to know she was crying. He could feel the quiver in her shoulders as she tried to hold it in. He simply pulled her closer in response and she curled a little closer into him, “I don’t know what I’ll do without her.”
Josh wondered that himself but wouldn’t let himself believe she’d ever have to face it, “You’ll never have to know, Olivia. She’ll be fine.”