Chapter 12:  Innocence

Thursday at lunch, Olivia set her tray down and asked excitedly, “Guess what, guys?” 


“What?” everyone asked.


“I made varsity!” she announced, beaming happily.


“That’s great, Liv!” Kathy congratulated her.


“Congrats, Liv,” Elliot said with a huge grin.  “Now if Kathy would just let me try out for wrestling…”


Kathy swatted his arm.  “Hey, swimming is a lot less dangerous than having some 200 pound guy manhandle you.”


“Actually, I think it would probably be me manhandling the 200 pound guy,” Elliot responded confidently.


“Always the tough guy,” Kathy whispered with a smile, squeezing his hand under the table.


“Alex and I made varsity gymnastics, too,” Serena announced proudly.  “But so did Abbie,” she added with an exaggerated roll of her eyes.


“Don’t remind me,” Alex responded dryly.  She looked back at Olivia.  “Everyone, let’s give our school’s star swimmer a big round of applause,” she continued, patting Olivia on the back.  “And since you’re gonna need to keep those muscles in tip-top shape, I think you would get great exercise if you went over and got me some honey mustard.”


Everyone laughed and Olivia rolled her eyes.  “What do I get in return?” she asked.


Alex grinned and leaned over and whispered something sensual in Olivia’s ear.  Olivia hopped up and headed to the condiment station.  When she came back with two paper cups filled with honey mustard, she placed them on Alex’s tray and said, “You better make good on your promise.”


“I’ll have what she’s having,” Casey joked, gesturing at Olivia. 


Serena nudged her.  “You sure about that?  You never know with those two.”


Alex dipped a chicken finger into her sauce and munched happily.  “I love you,” she said, leaning over and leaving a sticky kiss on Olivia’s cheek.


Olivia wiped the honey mustard off with a napkin and smiled.  “I’m sure you do.”


“Ha!  I’d make Serena get her own,” Casey declared.


Serena looked at Casey.  “Oh really?” she asked, folding her arms.  “I want some more honey mustard, too.”


Olivia, Elliot, and Kathy snickered.  Alex looked at Serena and grinned triumphantly.  Casey sighed and responded, “And what’s so wrong with you getting it yourself?”


“Because my gorgeous girlfriend could get it for me.  Or do you not love me as much as Olivia does Alex?” Serena teased.  “Come on…if you had asked me to get you some, I would’ve done it in a heartbeat.”


“All right, all right, I’ll get it,” Casey said, sighing again and standing up.  “This is coercion,” she added before leaving to get Serena some honey mustard.


When Casey returned with Serena’s honey mustard, Alex and Serena high-fived each other.  Casey shook her head.  “You two are unbelievable,” she remarked.


“I love you,” Serena said, leaning over and giving Casey a quick kiss on the lips. 


“Aww,” Alex cooed.  “See what doing nice things for your girl gets you?”


A dopey grin spread across Casey’s face.  She rubbed Serena’s back and told Alex, “Yeah, but she better not make it a habit.”  Serena acted like she was hurt and Casey immediately apologized.  “Baby, I was just playing.  You know I love doing things for you.”


“I know,” Serena responded with a grin.


Olivia turned her attention from Casey and Serena to Alex.  “I bet Kathy doesn’t make Elliot do stuff like that,” she remarked, tearing off a piece of Alex’s chicken and stuffing it into her mouth.


“Ha!” Elliot exclaimed.  “You guys have no idea.”


Kathy shoved Elliot.  “Hey, watch it,” she advised.  Their friends all laughed while Elliot turned beet red.


“It must be even harder as a guy,” Olivia commented.


“I plead the fifth,” Elliot responded, digging into his mashed potatoes and praying for the bell to hurry up and ring.




The girls were driving back to Alex’s house after gymnastics and swim practice when Alex suddenly asked, “Hey Liv, can we stop by the playground?”


Olivia glanced over at Alex, giving her a funny look.  “The playground?  Alex, don’t you think we’re a little too old for that?”


Alex grinned.  “Hey, you’re never too old to have fun.  Come on, Liv.  I know you have an inner child.  Everyone does.”


Olivia sighed.  She couldn’t help but smile at Alex’s willingness to hold on to a small part of her innocence.  “Sure, sweetie.”


As soon as they had parked, Alex jumped out of the car and grabbed Olivia’s hand, pulling her over toward the swings.  “Hurry up, Liv!”


Olivia smirked.  “Sweetie, none of the equipment is going anywhere.”


Alex turned around and quickly planted a kiss on Olivia’s lips.  “I know, babe.  I’m just really excited, is all.”


Olivia grinned.  “I can tell.”


Alex carefully examined the row of swings and finally decided on one at the end.  After sitting down and making herself comfortable, she shouted, “Push me, Liv!”


Olivia chuckled and got behind Alex.  “Hold on tight.”


Alex gripped the chains tightly right under Olivia’s hands and swung her legs back and forth impatiently.  “Come on, Liv!”


Olivia pulled the swing back and remarked, “Baby, you’re so light.”  Alex just smiled.  Olivia then pushed forward strongly and let go as Alex went sailing up into the air.


When Alex swung back, Olivia placed her hands on her back and pushed her forward again.  She continued doing so until Alex had gained enough momentum to swing highly on her own.


Olivia stood beside her and watched as Alex swung higher and higher.  She grinned with pride at the look of sheer, unadulterated happiness etched across Alex’s face and marveled at how the sun caught her golden locks as they flowed freely in the wind.  “Careful, sweetie.  Don’t swing too high.  I don’t want you flying out.”


Alex laughed.  “Thanks, Mom!”


After several minutes, Alex began slowing down.  Olivia grabbed the chains to bring her to a final stop.  “Have fun?”


Alex jumped out of the swing and threw her arms around Olivia’s neck.  “Yes!  Now let’s go over to the slide!”


Olivia laughed and shook her head.  “Oh, Alex.  What am I ever gonna do with you?”


Alex turned around and winked at her.  “Well…for starters you could slide down with me.”


Olivia shrugged.  “Ok.  But if you repeat this to any of our friends, I swear I’ll deny it.”


Alex climbed up the tall ladder to the slide with Olivia following closely behind her.  She moved over a little when they reached the top so Olivia could sit down and stretch out her legs.  Alex then sat down in her lap.  After Olivia had wrapped her arms around Alex’s waist, they slid down together.


“Wasn’t that fun, Liv?” Alex asked excitedly when they reached the bottom.


Olivia grinned.  “I guess it was.”


Alex took Olivia’s hand and ran over to the monkey bars.  She grabbed onto one of the bars and brought her legs up.  When they were wrapped tightly around it, she let her hands go and hung comfortably upside down.  Smiling up at Olivia and crossing her arms over her chest, she said, “Hey Liv, you look hot even upside down!”


Olivia smiled and uncrossed Alex’s arms, taking her hands into her own and linking their fingers.  “My little gymnast.”  She bent down and kissed her on the lips.


Alex giggled.  “My little swimmer.”


“Come on, let’s get you down before all the blood rushes to your head and makes you faint,” Olivia said as she gathered Alex’s limber body into her arms and lifted her off the monkey bars. 


When Alex was flat on the ground again, she wrapped her arms around Olivia’s waist and teased, “Aww, it’s so cute when you get worried about me.”


Olivia leaned in and pressed her lips against hers.  “I just always want to make sure you’re safe and sound.”


Alex sighed and laid her head on Olivia’s shoulder.  “I always will be as long as I’m with you.”


Olivia took Alex’s hand and led her back over to the end of the slide.  She sat down and pulled Alex into her lap. 


“Liv…we’re blocking the slide!”


“Come on, Al.  Do you actually see any other kids around?”


Alex looked around.  “Well…no.  But what if they come and wanna slide?”


“Then we’ll move,” Olivia said matter-of-factly.  “In the meantime, I just wanna hold you.”


“That’s sweet, Liv.”  Alex paused for a few seconds before continuing with what had been on her mind off and on all day.  “Since you and your mom have a better relationship now, do you think she would be accepting of you being gay?”


Olivia sighed deeply.  “Well…I dunno.  I would hope so.”


“What’s your worst fear?”


“That our parents won’t accept the love we have for each other,” Olivia answered.


“What happens to us if they don’t?” Alex asked nervously.


“Nothing,” Olivia said with a smile.  “I’m not letting anything or anyone keep you away from me.”


Alex’s whole face lit up into a smile.  “You really mean that?”


“With everything inside me,” Olivia replied with conviction.


Holding hands, they got up and began to walk around the playground.  Even though the weather was cold, it was a pleasant day and the sun was shining brightly.  They each took comfort in the other’s presence and in the peaceful solitude provided by an empty playground.  Although Olivia had initially agreed on coming to the playground to see Alex reconnect with her innocence, she found that she was re-experiencing elements of her own forgotten innocence as well.  She loved that Alex could make her rediscover parts of herself that she had long given up on.  She felt that their relationship held a certain level of innocence as well, and she wanted to preserve that for as long as she could.


“Liv…do you remember our first date?” Alex asked, kicking a pebble out of her path.


Olivia smiled.  “Yep.  I also remember we had our first kiss that night.  But if you had asked me to be your girlfriend at the lake, I would’ve said yes.”


Alex stopped and grinned.  “Really?”


“Yes.  And in my mind, we were already an item even before we made it official that Monday.”


Alex wrapped Olivia in a warm hug.  “I’m so glad we found each other,” she whispered in her ear.


Olivia kissed Alex’s cheek and lightly stroked her hair.  “Me, too.  I love you so much, Alex.  I don’t know what I’d do without you.”


“Aww, Liv.  I feel the same way.”


They began walking again, swinging their interlinked hands back and forth slowly.  “Do you think Serena and Casey have done the deed yet?” Alex asked suddenly when they had reached the slide again.


Olivia looked at Alex in amusement.  “I can honestly say I haven’t given it much thought.  Why?” she asked, taking a seat.


Alex shrugged and sat down in her lap again.  “I was just wondering.  They just seem to have gotten closer.”


Olivia smiled and gave Alex another little kiss on the cheek.  “That tends to happen when you’re with someone you love.”


Alex giggled and rubbed her hands up and down her arms for warmth.  “Liv…it’s getting cold.”


Olivia took off her leather jacket and threw it over Alex’s head.  “Liv, I have on a coat already!  And I can’t see!” Alex protested.


Olivia giggled and lay back against the slide, pulling Alex down on top of her.  She pulled the jacket over both their heads and began to kiss her under it.  When they broke away from the kiss, she asked Alex, “There.  Now did that warm you up some?”


Alex grinned.  “More than you can imagine.”  She admired how Olivia’s mahogany tresses had fanned out around her head against the metal slide.  It had a graceful air to it and made her seem even more beautiful than she already was.


Olivia sat up again and smiled.  “Good.  I do aim to please.”


Alex looked at her watch.  “Come on.  We should get back.  Serena and Casey are supposed to meet us at my place in half an hour.”


Olivia offered her hand to Alex and they started walking toward the car together.  “Girls night is gonna be pretty interesting.”


“Yeah, maybe I can make them spill some juicy details about their relationship.”


Olivia laughed and shook her head.  “Always the little inquisitor.”


Alex shrugged.  “Hey, it’s just nice to see two girls in love.”


Olivia smiled and opened the passenger side door for Alex.  “I wholeheartedly agree.”