"Don't wear that tie, it's too distracting."
Fitz turned to see Olivia standing with a standard, deep red tie in her hand. She motioned for him to remove the polka dotted one he'd chosen.
"I picked this out myself."
"And it was a lovely gesture, but polka dots are distracting on TV. Just trust me."
Olivia took the initiative to walk over to him and unknotted the tie that was around this neck, slinging it over one shoulder. She gingerly lifted his collar and looped the deep red tie around his neck. Fitz silently watched her work. He loved every little detail of her face as she set about a task: he loved the gentle curl of her lips, the slight color that entered her cheeks as she realized he was watching her, and the way she titled her head to the side that somehow managed to make her look innocent and young.
"There you go, Governor," she said as she gently smooth down his tie. "Are you all set with your talking points? The Vice President is fifteen minutes out."
The Vice Presidential debate was taking place at The University of Georgia in Athens and the crowd was a mixture of the student body and Athens localss. The sitting Democratic President and Vice President were extremely popular, even in the southern states, but especially in Georgia as the President himself hailed from Macon.
"Yes, Ms. Pope. I have them. Thank you for your concern."
Olivia raised one elegant eyebrow at Fitz's somewhat flippant tone. "What's the matter, Governor?"
"You calling me Governor."
"I call you Governor all the time. What would you like me to call you instead?"
"Same thing you call me when we're in bed together."
Olivia quickly looked around them to insure that there were no Langston/Grant workers nearby.
"We are in a public place, Governor. And you're filing for divorce from your wife of nearly twenty years. You would think perhaps you'd be just a little cautious in public. Your name is going to be appearing on a ballot in November."
Fitz scoffed lightly. "As a tag along, not as the President. People don't care what I do."
"I think you'll find that to be untrue if you have any more scandals arise, Governor."
"God damn it, Olivia, that's enough," he said roughly. He turned towards the curtains that separated them from their audience and took a deep breath. He tensed slightly when he felt a gentle hand on his back.
"What's wrong, Fitz?"
He took another deep breath before he turned towards Olivia again. "I don't want this."
Olivia's eyes grew wide. "What this?"
Fitz cocked his head to the side and observed her for a moment. He slowly watched her hackles rise and her face become an unreadable mask. "To be a Vice President. What did you think I meant?"
"I don't know; that's why I asked."
"Did you think I was talking about us?"
Fitz felt his anger building again, but knew he didn't have the time to go fifteen rounds with her again.
"Governor Grant, we're on in five. Will you please follow me to take your spot at the side of the stage?" The stage manager interrupted further inciting Fitz's anger. He turned from Olivia and followed the stage manager, his entire body radiating and angry heat.
"How'd he lose this debate? The Vice President makes Dan Quayle look like a Mensa candidate. What the hell happened before he went on stage, Liv?"
The debate had gone terribly wrong from almost the first moment. Fitz had appeared listless, then irritated, then annoyed and finally resigned to the fact that he was where he was at that moment in time.
"I don't know, Cy. He's been very short lately; I can only assume it's as a result of the divorce proceedings."
"He needs to get his fucking act together otherwise why the hell are we still here?"
Olivia lifted both hands in surrender and told Cyrus she would handle it. Olivia impatiently waited for the elevator to take her to their floor. Fitz claimed he wasn't feeling well and hasn't come down to the war room. No one questioned or pushed figuring he needed time to lick his wounds.
Olivia knocked on the door: once, twice. The third time she had to knock she decided to use her oft-used room key instead of waiting.
She heard the shower running when she entered the room, so she was satisfied that he wasn't just avoiding her as he had after the debates. He was so angry and she knew it was partially because of her, but he'd been ticking for a while.
Olivia sat at the small desk in the corner of the room. His laptop was open and an email conversation was up. Olivia immediately turned from the screen not wishing to invade his privacy, but was extremely curious. Karen's name had been at the top of the conversation.
While the shower was still running, Olivia turned back towards the screen and read Karen's part of the conversation. She continued to scroll through the ten part conversation between father and daughter and her heart grew heavy as she did. No wonder Fitz was so on edge.
The shower shut off and Olivia quickly moved from the desk to the end of the bed. Fitz emerged from the bathroom with a towel slung low around his waist and one hanging carelessly off his shoulder.
He didn't acknowledge her as he moved to the chest of drawers to pull out a pair of boxers and clean undershirt.
"Are you going to pretend I'm not here?"
Fitz turned towards her, his face blank of expression. He dropped the towel and pulled on his boxers not turning from Olivia. He whipped his white undershirt over his damp curls and looked at her in a way he never had before.
He threw his hands up in defeat. "You're doing a fine job pretending like there's nothing between us, so why does it matter if I acknowledge you being here or not."
"I'm not pretending-"
"I seem to remember," Fitz interrupted as he moved over the closet to pick a shirt and pair of slacks. "I seem to remember you saying that you loved me. I must have hallucinated that. Or what it just because we were fucking? You just got caught up in the moment?"
Olivia felt like she'd been sucker punched. "You're acting like an asshole."
Fitz shrugged. "You obviously don't think there's something real going on between us so what more is there beyond sex? Is that why you came up here? Did you want a fast fuck before going back to being the perfect fixer?"
"What the hell is your problem, Fitz? I know you're angry with me, but you're taking this too far. I am not your enemy. I am your friend and I care very much about you."
"You care about your friend? That's nice. I don't want to be your friend."
"I think you need one right now."
"No. I need the woman who said she loved me. That's what I need."
"I'm right here. But I'm not going to let your jeopardize your chance at the national stage and I'm not going to let you speak to me like you have been. I want to be your friend. I want to be someone you can talk to. I get that you're upset about what I said, but that doesn't give you the right to speak to me this way."
Olivia got up from the bed and started to move towards the door, but was stopped by two strong arms wrapped around her waist. Fitz buried his face in her neck and she felt wetness on her shoulder.
Olivia quickly turned in his embrace and was stricken by the heartbreak that was written across his face.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm...I'm upset with you, but I'm..."
"Sit down," Olivia commanded, moving him to the edge of the bed. "What's wrong?"
"Karen. My daughter hates me. She's so angry with me."
Olivia's heart hurt for him. As a daddy's girl herself, she knew what an important relationship it was.
"She's just hurt, Fitz. She doesn't hate you."
Fitz looked up at her and then over to his computer. Olivia flushed slightly as she realized he'd put two and two together.
"I should be annoyed, but I'm glad you know. You read it, how can you say she's just upset? She told me he doesn't ever want to speak to me again. My daughter. My baby girl-"
Fitz's voice broke and he set his head in his hands, shoulders shaking as he began to cry. Olivia sat beside him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.
"I don't want to be in this campaign anymore, Olivia. I just want to go out to the ranch with you by my side until we grow old and senile. I just want my daughter to be able to look at me without the utter disdain she does now. It's not the same as when she was young and she was mad for an hour or even a few days. She's not taking any of my calls. Mellie could care less and Jerry has no clue what's going on. He's too busy in law school. How'd everything get so messed up?"
Olivia lightly rubbed his back and listened as he talked about the rift that was growing between him and Karen.
"Does she still call you?" Fitz asked, his eyes rimmed in red.
Olivia nodded and gave a sad sort of half smile.
"That's good, at least I know she's okay."
"Fitz, I didn't know that she wasn't talking to you. Do you want me to stop taking her calls, or..."
"No!" he shouted quickly. "Please don't. Just...tell me how she is every now and then."
"I can do that."
Fitz and Olivia sat quietly for a while. Olivia lent quiet comfort and love until their presence was required for an evening rally in Hiram, Georgia.
"How do I look?" Fitz asked standing with his arms outstretched waiting for Olivia's final inspection.
Olivia smiled and walked over to him. She gently pulled on his shirt to bring him down to her level. She kissed him soundly, not letting go until she wordlessly convinced him that she was in this as much as he was.
Once they parted, he gently trailed a hand down the side of her face and gave her a genuine smile.
The silence was suffocating.
Fitz's gaze moved between Olivia and Karen waiting for either to acknowledge his presence. Olivia refused to meet his gaze and Karen looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
Mason, as the only one in the group without too many pre-conceived notions about, Fitzgerald Grant walked forward with all the good English breeding he possessed. He held out his hand to the man and gave his most charming smile.
"Dr. Grant, it's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Mason Spencer, Karen's fiancé. Would you like to accompany me to the bar for a drink?"
Fitz eyed Olivia and Karen briefly before turning back towards Mason and following him to the bar.
Karen released a deep sigh and slumped slightly. "Mason is so getting laid tonight."
She shrugged and turned towards Olivia. "What? That man is fantastic. Where are you going?"
Olivia drained her glass quickly and handed the empty highball tumbler to Karen. "Outside. It's a beautiful evening."
"You're such a coward leaving me here to deal with him on my own."
"You won't be on your own, you'll have Mason. Besides, you need to talk to him. He came all this way for you, not me."
Karen rolled her eyes. "Unlikely, but okay." She turned towards the bar and took a deep breath before moving in her father and her fiancée's direction.
Olivia bolted to the outdoor tent as quickly as her Louboutins would allow. It was the type of day and party people in the Hampton's were accustomed to. The dance floor beneath the sailcloth tent was filled with people gliding across it to the big jazz band.
Olivia fought to keep her memories at bay from her and Fitz's wedding. The sea of black and white before her brought back memories of slow dancing to a similar jazz band with Fitz: she in a perfect white gown and Fitz in the best fitting tux ever seen.
"Champagne, ma'am?" A passing waiter asked holding the tray before him.
Olivia smiled and nodded taking a glass of the fizzy rose-colored drink. She wandered through the crowd for a bit, stopping here and there to make small talk with some familiar faces. She'd stayed away from East Hampton for most of the "season" not being able to bear the big empty house on the beach.
As she reached for her third class of champagne, she turned back towards the house to see Fitz and Karen silhouetted in the doorway and Mason walking in her direction. He had a broad smile on his face and extended a hand towards her.
"Would you like a dance, Olivia?"
Olivia smirked and drained her champagne glass, set it on an unoccupied space at a nearby table, and put her hand in his. With a flourish he pulled her out to the floor and caused Olivia to let out an uncharacteristic bought of girlish laughter.
"What has you so happy?"
"I'm marrying an incredible woman. I'm a very lucky man. That's reason enough to be happy."
Olivia tilted her head and observed his earnestness. "You're a good man, Mason. Take care of her."
Mason dipped Olivia suddenly causing another bout of laughter. "I plan to do just that, Olivia. For as long as she lets me."
Olivia let Mason spin her around for the floor for a bit, enjoying his wry, English sense of humor. He was wickedly funny and disturbingly observant.
"Karen and her father are headed this way," he said softly as they danced to In the Still of the Night. "Did you want scamper off again? Dr. Grant looks awfully determined."
Olivia took a deep breath and shook her head. She knew running from Fitz would be pointless, and at this particular event, cause embarrassment to Karen, which was the last thing Olivia wanted.
"Mind if I cut in?"
Fitz loomed over Mason's shoulder with a determined look on his face. Karen stood wearily beside her father, a sheepish expression clouding her own visage.
Olivia wasn't given a chance to respond as Mason regally kissed the back of her hand and scooped his fiancée into his arms before she could utter a word of protest.
The band began to play You Go to My Head as Fitz and Olivia stared at one another on the dance floor. Neither said a word as Fitz held out his hand to her. Olivia hesitated for a moment, but then gingerly placed her hand in his.
Light and heat shot through her entire body making her shudder. It'd been a long time since she was this close to him.
Fitz placed a warm hand on her hip and pulled her in close to his body; there was hardly any space between them. Olivia's breath grew ragged from both his proximity and her desire to be anywhere else in that particular moment.
She could feel Fitz's gaze, but refused to meet his eyes choosing instead to look around at the other dancing couples. Her eyes met Karen's worried ones for a moment before giving a brief smile and a quick nod to let her know she was okay.
"Are you going to spend this dance ignoring me?" Fitz questioned softly.
Olivia sighed but didn't reply. She moved her gaze to over his shoulder to see Mellie and Jerry dancing. She smiled as Jerry tossed her a wink.
"My kids are much happier to see you than me. Karen seems happy. And Mason seems like a good guy, what little I know of him. Did you know that his aunt was the late Princess Diana?"
Olivia allowed herself to be lulled by his voice. It was even and unhurried, the same voice that used to greet her every morning and put her to sleep every evening.
"Look at me."
Olivia shut her eyes to keep herself from doing just that. She felt him slowing down as the song drew to a close and prayed she'd be able to make her escape.
"Look at me. I'm not letting you go until you do," he said, his voice breaking slightly.
"Let's not make a scene, Fitzgerald. This is your daughter's engagement party."
"Then if you care about Karen, don't make a scene and look at me."
Olivia gritted her teeth and looked up at Fitz. His soulful blue-gray eyes looked heavy. There were more lines around his eyes than she remembered. He looked like he hadn't slept in a very long time, and his eyes looked much too sad, but he was still unbelievably handsome to her.
Fitz moved the hand that gripped her waist slowly up her body. He gentle brushed aside a wayward strand of hair and glided his finger over her cheekbone to her bottom lip and back up again.
"I miss you so much. I love you, so much."
"No. You need to know. I love you. I can't stop loving you. And, I'm not going to give up on getting you to know that again."
"This is neither the time, nor the place to discuss this."
"When can we?"
"Never. I have nothing left to say to you, Fitz."
"Good, that means you can shut and listen."
Olivia opened her to reply, but paused as Jerry and Mellie sidled up next to them.
"Fitzgerald," Mellie began at once. "Need I remind you I asked you to do one thing for this party." Mellie turned to Olivia and gave her a terse smile. "You don't mind if I cut in, do you?"
"No." Olivia replied.
Jerry smiled and led Olivia off the dance floor towards the bar. He smoothly ordered two whiskey neat's and handed one to Olivia.
Olivia took a healthy sip of her drink. She was entering that perfect place between tipsy and drunk. "How's married life, Jer?"
"Fantastic. So happy I didn't have to put on this horse and pony show though. I'm proud of Karen for taking one for the team."
"Hmm... I don't think your mother will ever forgive you for eloping and gypping her out of throwing a party."
"Look at this, Liv. It's not a party; it's a circus. This isn't the least bit me. Or Karen, but Karen is marrying an Earl. There's no way she'd be allowed to elope."
The band finished playing their song and announced they would be taking a fifteen-minute break. Olivia drained the rest of her glass and pulled Jerry close for a kiss on the cheek.
"Take care, Jerry. Give Megan my best."
"You're going? The night it still young, and you haven't even dance with me. There's tennis and brunch in the morning. Will you be there?"
"Rain check on the dance and tennis? I'm probably going to head back to the city in the morning."
"Liv come on, please don't go. Karen will be crushed and I never get to see you. Please?"
"What is it with you Grants?"
Jerry smirked. "We're irresistible."
"Fine, I'll stay for brunch and tennis, but I am going to go now. I'll see you in the morning."
Olivia kicked off her heels and took her time walking the beach between the Rothschild mini mansion and her modest by comparison beach house.
Dingy darkness surrounded her, but the crashing of the waves was calming for Olivia's currently frazzled state of mind.
She replayed his words again and again in her head. How dare he show up and try to wreck all the work she'd done in trying to shield her heart from him.
She made it up the stairs towards the back of the house and her favorite swinging chair. The house didn't have the same kind of feeling as it did years ago when she and Fitz first purchased it. It'd been their hope to fill it mini-versions of themselves, family, and friends on the weekends and holidays. It was meant to be their respite.
"So many things gone."
"Still your favorite place, I see."
Olivia shook her head wearily. Of course he found her. Of course he was here invading her privacy and her mind and heart.
"Go home, Fitz."
"This is my home."
"It was your home. Now it's my home."
Fitz shoved his hands in his pockets and walked the rest of the way up the stairs to where the swing sat idling.
"We had something real, you and I."
Fitz swallowed and his jaw tightened. "You can be as angry with me as you'd like to be, but that doesn't change what we had. I've never stopped loving you."
Olivia stood up to walk into the house, but was stopped by Fitz in her path. "Stop, Fitz. Enough is enough. We were destroying one another. You may have loved me, but you didn't love me enough not cheat. You didn't love me enough not to stop working long hours with your paralegal who couldn't wait to get in your pants. You didn't love me enough to have an actual conversation about adopting once we couldn't—"
Olivia took a deep breath and look out towards the raging sea. The air was charged and the pressure started to drop. A storm was coming. How appropriate.
"Like I said, what more do we possibly have to say to one another. What more can we possibly have to talk about?"
Fitz crowded her space, took her face firmly between his hands and kissed her. Olivia struggled initially, but soon the feeling of familiarity and warmth and completeness took hold of all her good sense.
Fitz moved his hands around her waist and pulled her into him. He slanted his lips over hers relishing the feel of her plump, soft lips against his own. He slid his tongue across her lips until she opened her mouth and let him in.
They stood for a while taking one another in, barely separating except when air was absolutely necessary.
Fitz pulled back and traced kisses along her jaw, down her neck and to the top of her décolletage.
"Invite me in."
Olivia shook her head and tried to pull away from him, but he wasn't about to let her go and let this go.
"Invite me in."
Olivia looked up into his determined face and felt her heart beating triple time. There was no turning back from this if they went there.