Chapter 51:  Aegis

Fifteen minutes later, Olivia was pulling up the long winding cobblestone driveway of Cabot manor.  Alex was nervously waiting by the window in the foyer.  As soon as Olivia parked, she let go of the curtain and rushed to let her in.


Alex opened the door and immediately burst into tears when she saw Olivia’s cut lip and bruised cheeks.  She ran a finger gingerly over the cut on the side of her forehead.  “Oh, Liv…”  She pulled her into a deep hug and just held her as Olivia’s body wracked with sobs against her.  “Shh, it’s ok, baby.  You’re ok now.  Let it all out.” 


“Why can’t I just have a normal life?” Olivia cried from the depths of her being.  “Why does my mom have to drink?” 


Alex soothingly stroked her hair.  “I love you,” she whispered.


“At least someone does!” Olivia sobbed.


After several minutes, Alex kissed her forehead and said, “Come on, baby.  Let’s go up to my room.”


Olivia nodded.  Alex guided them upstairs.  Olivia squeezed her hand tightly, afraid to let go.


Madeline had been watching unnoticed from around the corner and her heart went out to Olivia.  She’d had no clue that Serena was an alcoholic.  How well do you really know someone? she wondered.  She started to go upstairs and offer support but stopped herself because she didn’t know if Olivia would close up entirely in the presence of an adult.  She hoped that talking to Alex would be therapeutic.  Besides, it was nice to see Alex with such a nurturing side.


Alex led Olivia over to her bed.  She gently pried her fingers out of Olivia’s and said, “I’ll be right back, sweetie.  I need to take care of your cuts.” 


Olivia nodded silently.  After rushing into the bathroom and wetting a washcloth, Alex returned and gently dabbed at the dried blood.  “Now tell me exactly what happened, sweetie.”


“I…I got into a huge fight with my mom.  And when I tell you what about you’re gonna be pretty mad at me, but I can’t say that I’d blame ya.”


Alex gently stroked her face.  “No, sweetie.  There’s nothing that could make me get upset with you now.”


Olivia looked down.  “Don’t be so sure about that.”  She began recounting every painful, horrifying detail for Alex.  “No place like home, huh?” she finished, sniffling.


“It tears me up inside to know that she puts you through so much,” Alex said, placing soft kisses on her cuts.  “No one deserves that, especially someone as great of a person as you.”  She wet a cotton ball with some peroxide and cleaned the cuts.


“I’m really sorry I lied about me…about us,” Olivia said, the shame coloring her cheeks.


Alex pulled her into a deep embrace.  “Baby, don’t worry about that.  She would’ve only hurt you more if you’d told her.  I’d rather you keep it a secret and make it here in one piece than have to visit you unconscious in some hospital bed.”


Olivia lifted her head slowly.  “So you’re not mad at me?”


“No, of course not.”


Alex leaned in to kiss Olivia, who turned her head to the side.  She was self-conscious about the nasty cut on her lip.  “You don’t have to kiss me, Alex.”


Alex understood.  “But I want to.”  She leaned in again and gently captured her lips, careful not to aggravate the cut.


The kiss was so light and tender and was just what Olivia needed.  “Thank you.”


Alex unscrewed the cap on the tube of Neosporin and began dabbing some on the cuts.  “You don’t ever have to thank me for showing you affection or taking care of you.  It’s my job and one I never plan on failing at.”


Olivia smiled at her.  “There are just no words to describe how amazing you are.”  She cuddled up under the covers with Alex.  Her bed was so soft and warm and…safe


Alex pulled her into her arms and kissed the top of her head.  “How are you feeling now?  Does anything hurt?”


“My head kinda hurts from where I hit it,” she admitted.


Alex immediately jumped out of bed and got her two aspirin and a glass of water.  Olivia nodded her thanks and took the medicine.  She put the glass on Alex’s nightstand and then cuddled back up to her.  “What if her violence escalates?”


“I’ll protect you from her,” Alex vowed.


Olivia smiled.  “How do you plan on doing that?”


“Tweety and I will kick her ass if she hurts you again.”


Olivia laughed.  “I can just see the two of you now—fists raised, ready for business.”


“Damn straight,” Alex said.  She tried to keep a straight face but ended up laughing, too.


“And maybe Tweety can peck her to death with his beak,” Olivia joked.  “And baby Tweety can help!”


“Yeah, Tweety’s fierce!”


Olivia laughed harder and kissed Alex on the forehead.  “You are so adorable.”


“Speaking of adorable…” Alex started.  She ran into the bathroom and returned with a small band-aid.  After putting it on the cut on Olivia’s forehead, she asked, “Now who’s adorable?”


Olivia picked up Alex’s hand mirror and looked into it.  “You do know that this is the only time you’ll get away with putting Scooby Doo band-aids on me.  And I’m not wearing this to school tomorrow.”


“Hey, they aren’t mine!  Peyton was over one weekend and left them here.”


“Right, blame it on the kid, Alex,” Olivia teased.


“Swear!  Besides, you love Scooby!  Remember when we were at the fair and you won me the big Tweety and yourself the big Scooby?”


Olivia smiled.  “I know.  I’m just messin’ with ya, baby.” 


Alex linked her fingers with Olivia’s and met her soft chocolate eyes.  “I don’t want you going back there.”


Olivia pouted.  “Believe me, I don’t wanna go back.  I should’ve just stayed with you anyway.  Why should I give a damn if she’s ok if she doesn’t give a fuck about me?”


“I know, sweetie.  I know,” Alex responded.  She placed Olivia’s head on her chest and started playing with her hair.


Olivia took tremendous comfort in feeling Alex’s smooth fingers glide through her strands.  “I feel like I’ll never escape her, baby.”


“You already have.”  They lay like that for several minutes in comfortable silence.  Alex thought about how fragile and vulnerable Olivia looked in her arms.  She’d never understand how anyone could want to harm her.  It made her even more determined to protect her.  Just as the aegis had been the shield of Zeus, she would be Olivia’s aegis.


Olivia suddenly let out a large groan and sat up.  “Shit.”


“What’s wrong?”


“I haven’t even done my chem homework.”


Alex smiled.  “You brought your textbook, right?”


Olivia nodded and pulled it out of her bookbag.  “I hope this shit doesn’t take too long.  I’m tired.”


“Well, are any of the answers in the back of the book?”


“Yeah.  But it’s only the odd ones.  And we still have to show our work.”


Alex rubbed her on the back.  “You’ll be fine.  In the meantime, I need to finish this chapter of A Farewell to Arms before I go to sleep.”


Olivia let out another groan.  “Yeah, that reminds me.  After I finish this I have a couple chapters of Frankenstein to read.  Adams is giving us a quiz.  I’m gonna be up all night.”


“Well, if you get too tired, you can always look up the sparknotes.”


“Yeah.”  She opened up her IB chemistry book and started working.  “God, I can’t tell you how much I absolutely loathe functional groups.”


Alex smirked.  “I’m not too fond of Hemingway right now either.”


They worked silently for many minutes.  When Alex finished her chapter, she put the book on her nightstand and laid her head on Olivia’s shoulder.  Trying to stifle a yawn, she asked, “How many more problems do you have to do?”


“Only a couple more.”


“Ok,” Alex replied.  She opened up her laptop.  “I’ll keep you company while you read.”


Olivia smiled at her and put down her pencil.  “Baby, you don’t have to do that.  You’ve done so much for me already tonight.  I don’t wanna keep you up any longer.  Besides, after I finish chem, who knows how long the chapters will be?”


“You’re a fast reader.  And if I stay up, I can motivate you so you don’t fall asleep.”  She grabbed her laptop from the end of the bed.  “I’ll just IM or something while you’re doing that.”


“Is anyone still up?” Olivia asked, starting to write again.


“Let me sign into AIM and check…” Alex responded, trailing off.  “Ok.  Serena’s online.  So is Casey.”


“Yeah, they’re probably cybering with each other.”


Alex laughed heartily.  “Please!  They so do not do that type of stuff.”  She sent Serena an IM. 


A couple minutes later, Olivia closed her chemistry book and put her homework in her notebook.  “What are you guys talkin’ about?”


“Oh, not much.  I’m just teasing her about Casey.  She asked me what I was doing and I told her I was in bed with you and she was like, ‘Wow, is sex with Liv that boring that you have to get online while doing it?’”


“Oh, please!” Olivia said with a dismissive wave of her hand.  “Like that would ever happen.”


“Yeah, I told her you were just spending the night and that there’s never a boring minute when we’re making love.”


“Damn straight,” Olivia agreed, opening Frankenstein.


Alex stretched out flat on her stomach and continued typing.  Olivia tried to focus on her novel, but her eyes kept drifting to her girlfriend’s supple ass, which her pajama pants clung to tightly.  She had read the same paragraph over and over for the past five minutes in futile attempts to retain the details when she finally gave up.  “Alex…” she whined.  “Do you have to wear the sexy jammies?”


Alex looked back over her shoulder.  “Why?”


“Cuz I’m supposed to be reading and all I can think about is how I wanna squeeze your ass!”


Alex burst out laughing.  “Horny much?”


“It’s your fault,” Olivia mumbled, burying her nose in her book again.


“I’m not wearing any undies either.”


Olivia put her book down again and gave her a look.  “You’re not helping the situation.”


Alex giggled.  “I know.”  She went back to typing.


Olivia rolled her eyes and forced herself to continue reading.  About ten minutes later, she was finally done.  She threw the book in her bookbag and said, “Now I can get some sleep.”


Alex signed offline and closed her laptop.  “Cuddle?”


“You betcha,” Olivia said.  She stared into Alex’s eyes and asked, “I’m not wearing out my welcome, am I?”


Alex smiled.  “Of course not, silly.  You can stay here as long as you like.  If your mom has a problem with you being here and pitches a fit, I’ll just explain the situation to Mom and we’ll handle it.” 


“Hell, she probably won’t remember a thing that happened tonight.  She was so wasted.  She’ll most likely drag herself to bed and just pass out.”


“Yeah,” Alex hoped, reaching over and turning off the lamp.  She rubbed Olivia’s side gently before leaning in and giving her a goodnight kiss.  “Sleep tight, angel.”


“You, too,” Olivia said, closing her eyes contently and holding onto Alex.




Abbie saw the cuts on Olivia’s lip and forehead the next morning outside Dr. Olivet’s room.  Smirking, she asked, “Did you and Alex get into a fight last night?”


Alex glared at her.  “No, we did not.  Olivia’s face is not your concern anyway.”


Abbie ignored her.  “So how did you get that lovely gash on the side of your forehead, Liv?”


Olivia,” Olivia said through gritted teeth.  “And none of your damn business.”


“Star light, star bright, who got their ass beat last night?” Abbie taunted.


Olivia let out an animalistic growl and lunged at Abbie but Elliot grabbed her before she could do any damage.  “Whoa, whoa, Liv, just calm down,” he said, holding her by the arm cautiously.  “She’s not worth getting suspended.”


“Get off me, El!” Olivia yelled, trying to free herself.


“You’ll live to regret this, Abbie,” Alex vowed, taking a menacing step closer to her.


Dr. Olivet came out into the hall.  “Excuse me, but is there a problem here?”


Alex stared Abbie down for a few seconds longer before turning to Dr. Olivet and answering, “No, ma’am.”


“If you girls cannot behave yourselves, then don’t even bother coming into my classroom.  Just go to the office and I’ll send a student with your write-up slips.  I will not stand for this immature feuding in my classroom today.”


“We’re fine,” Olivia grumbled.


“Good.  Now get inside before the bell rings,” Dr. Olivet ordered.


“Think about what I said, Liv,” Elliot said, giving her a sympathetic pat on the back before running down the hall to get to class.


Alex flashed Olivia a smile and whispered, “Don’t worry about her.  If she says anything else to you, I’ll go after her.”


“Not if I get her first,” Olivia muttered, following Alex inside the classroom.




When they walked into Alex’s house that afternoon, Madeline was waiting for them in the living room.  “Girls, I need to have a word with you.”


Alex and Olivia looked at each other nervously.  Alex slowly turned to her mother and asked, “What’s going on?”


Madeline gestured toward the sofa across from her.  The girls took a seat and tried to calm their nerves.  Madeline looked directly at Olivia.  “Olivia, your mother came by about an hour ago.  She expressed numerous concerns about your behavior and your presence here.  She wants you to return home.”


“What?” Olivia asked, trying to contain her anger.


“No!” Alex yelled.


“Alexandra, I am not Olivia’s mother.  If her mother demands that she come home, I have no authority to object.”  She turned to Olivia again.  “I’m sorry, sweetheart.  My hands are tied.”


“Untie them then, Mom!” Alex protested, jumping up off the sofa.  “You can’t do this!”  She wildly gestured at the cuts on Olivia’s face.  “Look at what she did to her last night!  If you force Olivia to go back there, she’ll just hurt her again!  She’s a drunk!  The only legitimate concern she has is that she won’t have a punching bag if Liv’s not there!”


“Alexandra, please,” Madeline replied.


“Mom, you and dad know people!  You can say that you have proof that Olivia’s mom is an alcoholic who abuses her and that it’s not a safe environment.”


“Do you want Olivia to spend the night in a shelter?  Do you want her to end up in foster care?” Madeline queried.


“Use our connections with the DA’s office to make sure that doesn’t happen!  See if you can get temporary guardianship!”


“Alexandra, you don’t understand,” Madeline began.


“Yes, I do!  If anyone here is gonna help Liv, it’ll have to be me!  I’m calling Uncle Bill right now!” Alex retorted, storming over to the phone.  She dialed the number and said, “Judge Harriman, please.”


“Alexandra, just wait a minute,” Madeline ordered, quickly walking over to her.  “You could end up doing more damage than good.  I need time to decide an appropriate course of action and I need to do it alone.”


Alex put the receiver down.  “Fine, but just remember that Olivia’s life and future are at stake.”


Her mother frowned at her.  “Lose that belligerent tone, young lady.  I am well aware of the seriousness of the situation.  Now you and Olivia go upstairs and let me handle things.”


Olivia paced back and forth across Alex’s room.  “I need to face it.  I have to go back home.”


“No, baby,” Alex said, crossing over to her.  “You won’t.  Maybe you can get emancipated.”


Olivia took a seat on the edge of Alex’s bed.  “Yeah, but how would I be able to support myself?  I could get a part-time job but that won’t cover rent and food…and even if it would, I’d have to give up sports because I’d have no time to practice or compete.  Or even worse, I’d have to drop out of school entirely to support myself and just end up getting my GED.”


“Liv, you can stay here,” Alex said, taking her hands into her own.


Olivia looked into her eyes.  “But for how long?  Until your mom gets tired of me?  Until your dad finds out about us?  I’d have two options—wing it out on the streets or go back home.”


“Well if it came down to that, I’d give you money.  I’d pay all your bills and your rent so you wouldn’t have to give up the things you love.”


Olivia shook her head.  “I can’t ask you to do that, sweetie.  That’s too generous and you are not my meal ticket.  Besides, it’s not like your parents can’t take away your credit cards and deny you access to your bank accounts.”


“Well, my grandfather set up a trust for me before he died.  My parents aren’t allowed to touch it.”


“And neither are you until you’re 18.”


Alex smiled slyly.  “My grandfather gave permission for me to access it at 16.  And guess who just had a birthday?”


“I still don’t want you doing that,” Olivia said.


“I’m just saying that we do have a way out if things get rough.  Ok?”


“This is my problem, Alex.”


Alex shook her head.  “No.  This is our problem.  And we’ll get through it together.”


Olivia smiled for the first time since they’d come home.  She pulled Alex into a deep hug.  “Thanks for standing by me.”


Several moments later, Madeline walked in.  “Well, I tried to talk amicably with Serena…and it didn’t work.”


“What happened?” Olivia asked, terrified.


Madeline turned to her.  “I ended up giving her an ultimatum.  I told her that the emotional and physical abuse is enough to have you removed from her custody and that if she goes to court, she will most definitely lose.  She accused me of trying to force her hand with my money and influence in the community.  But she reluctantly agreed to let you stay here until she at least has been going to AA on a regular basis.” 


Olivia shook her head.  “She’s been in AA before.  Things are all right for a little while and then she’s back to the same ol’ person.”


Alex hugged Olivia.  “This is good news, baby!  Be happy!”


“You didn’t mention that Alex and I were dating, did you?” Olivia asked nervously.


“No, I did not,” Madeline answered.  “But she said that if I was smart, I’d keep my eye on you two because there may be something more than friendship going on.  I told her I resented the implication she was making.”


Alex put her hand to her chest and sighed in relief.  “Thanks for covering for us, Mom.”


Madeline looked at her and pursed her lips.  “You haven’t been affectionate around her, have you?”


“No, Mom!  Of course not.”


“Good,” Madeline replied.  “Now you kids behave yourselves.”  As she was taking her leave, she looked over her shoulder and said, “And remember, Olivia.  You are to sleep in the other room.”


Alex jumped up and ran to her mother’s side.  “Mom…Liv has been through so much in the past day.  She may have nightmares or something.  Can’t she just spend the night here in my room like old times?  Pretty please?” she asked, standing on her tiptoes.


Madeline sighed.  “All right.  But this will not be a regular thing.  And I trust that you two will have enough respect for me in my house to not engage in certain activities.”


Olivia smiled.  “We promise, Madeline.”  She gave her a hug.  “Thanks so much for everything.”


“You’re welcome, dear.  And before I forget,” Madeline began.  She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket.  “Here’s the number for Alateen.  You might also want to look into talking to a counselor at school.”


Olivia took the piece of paper from her.  “Thank you.”


After Madeline left, Alex said, “If you want, I can go with you to an Alateen meeting.”


“I’d like that a lot.  I’m a little nervous about going, though, I’ll admit.  I don’t know what to expect.”


“Well, whenever you’re ready, we’ll go.  No rush, ok?” Alex said, rubbing her gently on the back.


“Ok.”  She pulled her into a hug again.  “God, Alex.  I’m so glad I have you.  You’ve changed my life so much.”


Wrapping her arms tighter around her, Alex let out a happy sigh and replied, “And you’ve changed mine.”