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Dance With Me

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Bianca Montgomery had been trying to get out of her mother’s office at Enchantment for the last twenty minutes. She should have just called her from the road like she had planned but she already had enough weighing on her and she didn’t need a guilt trip thrown on top.

“Mom I really need to go if I want to get there sometime this century.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. Nine thirty in the morning and she was already exhausted and with a four hour drive ahead of her Kendall would likely have to pull her unconscious body from the car.

“I know sweetie but do you really have to go? I’m sure all of this will just fade away when they have a new story and everything will go back to normal.”

“Yes mom. I need to get out of Pine Valley everyone on campus stares at me like I’m a freak show and I can’t take it anymore.” She ran her hands through long dark locks and sighed.

“I’m going to sue Donald Steele and The Exposer for doing this to you. It’s one thing to come after me but it’s another to go after my sweet baby girl” She cupped Bianca’s cheek “you don’t deserve any of this.”

“Thank you" she placed her hand on top of her mother's "but I don’t want this getting any bigger than it already is please just leave it alone.” She knew her mother meant well but she couldn’t take her joining the pity party with the rest of the town.

“Okay if that’s what you want I will but I’m still worried about you driving by yourself. What if something happens? It would be a very long time before we could get to you and I don’t like the thought of you stranded on the side of the road alone. You just don’t know what kind of people are out there.”

She definitely should’ve skipped saying goodbye in person her mother was going to end up making her cry and she had had enough of that to last her a lifetime.

Her shoulders sagged “Mom I’ll be fine it’s only a four hour drive and I do know how to change a flat tire if I need to. I have a full tank of gas and I have a map just in case the GPS loses its marbles and tries to steer me into a lake. I know where all of the gas stations are, I have all the phone numbers I might need and I have a car charger for my phone.”

“That’s my girl always prepared for anything.” She smiled and stroked her youngest daughter’s hair. What she wouldn’t give to be able to take away her pain. She seemed so small and fragile and she wanted to protect her but she knew that there were just some things that were beyond even her control.

“Mom I really need to go Kendall is expecting me in a few hours.” A sad smile crossed her face. She finally had the time to visit and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. She had been planning for her time with her sister to be happy and fun not depressing.

“Okay honey I don’t mean to keep you I know how anxious you are to spend some time with your sister.”

“I am I love you” She hugged her and started rapidly backing towards the door before the water works started “I’ll call you when I get there.”

“I love you too Bianca and be careful.”

She was already halfway down the hall with her mother’s words floating after her. Her life was not going like she had thought it would. Of all the things she had ever wanted love had been on the top of her list but it seemed it was the one thing she was not destined to have. And to make matters worse her face was now on the cover of The Exposer for all the world to see. All of Pine Valley was now privy to her dysfunctional love life and they were throwing her the pity party of the decade. Poor Bianca’s heart was broken and they all needed to rally around her for support because she’s just so fragile. If one more person asked her how she was holding up she was going to scream.

She rode the elevator to the parking garage her fingers firmly planted in the center of her forehead trying to rub out the mounting headache. She was thankful that no one else had gotten on. Between work and school she didn’t get much time alone and she was looking forward to spending the next four hours in blissful silence. She looked up when the doors opened with a ding and she fished the key fob from her purse to unlock the Mercedes her mother had insisted on buying her. She hated that car it was too flashy and it attracted attention she wasn’t looking for but she never could say no to Erica. She got in with a sigh and started the car. Maybe she would go to Haven Bay and never come back.

She drove away from Pine Valley without so much as a glance in her rearview mirror.

Forty-five minutes later:

“Oh god make it stop, for the love of all that is holy make it stop!” She started mashing buttons in an attempt to make the radio comply with her demand. She stared at it trying to will the love power hour out of existence but the incessant warbling continued undeterred. “I’m a Kane and you will comply with my demand.”

She squinted menacingly at the object for a heartbeat before she reached down and slapped at the off button.

“Ha, showed you whose boss didn’t I?” she gloated over the now dark display “That’s good Bianca you’re talking to inanimate objects now, next thing you know you’ll be acquainted with padded walls and rubber underwear. Or is it rubber walls and padded underwear?” She rolled her eyes at herself.

The love power hour was not what she needed right now. It was almost as if there was some sort of conspiracy to rub her failure in her face. She didn’t want to hear about how great it is and how it’s the most amazing feeling in the world. It hadn’t felt amazing to her it had felt miserable and empty. It had felt like lies and most of them were lies she had told herself just to get through another day. It had only been a month since she had broken it off with Lena; it was all still too fresh in her mind. Love was the very last thing she wanted to hear about, what she wanted was for these next two weeks with Kendall to be free of any talk of love and relationships. She strangled the steering wheel with both hands, she just couldn’t seem to stop with the lies, it was the only thing she wanted to talk about.

She wondered where all the ‘I’m perfectly fine to be alone and I don’t need love to make me happy’ songs were and why they couldn’t have their own hour. She flipped on her blinker to exit the highway as she listened to the sound of the tires on the road and the wind rushing over the car.

Two and a half hours after that:

It turned out that blissful silence wasn’t all that blissful, or silent. “You can take the girl out of Pine Valley but you can’t take Pine Valley out of the girl.” She mumbled as half the town ran amok in her head.

She managed to get through most of her life without major disaster striking every ten minutes so why couldn’t they? And how was it that at twenty two she was more level headed and responsible than people twice her age? She shook her head at herself; she didn’t know why she had even bothered to ask the question when she already knew the answer. Being the daughter of Erica Kane had its perks but it also had its drawbacks and one of them was the constant need to over think everything she said and did. She was only human and she made bad decisions and screwed up just like everyone else. She shouldn’t be expected to adhere to standards that no one else her age was, but then their mistakes didn’t make headlines in the tabloids. Their failures were not the next day’s gossip and she envied their freedom and anonymity.

She was not Erica Kane the cosmetics mogul who adored the attention even when she claimed to hate it. She was Bianca Montgomery the college student who wanted her own life away from the public eye. She loved her mother but she didn’t want to be her. She wanted her private life to be private and not tabloid fodder. Lena was just the latest invasion of her privacy and not even the most painful but it was up there. No, the award for the most painful experience went to being publicly outed which had in turn nearly caused her mother to disown her.

That had been the moment when she knew for certain that she was never going to be truly free. She wasn’t ungrateful for her life, she had more than most people but there were times when she would gladly give it all up. Seeing her own terrified face on the cover of some trashy magazine had been one of those times. She had been on the verge of tears when the flash had gone off and every inch of her had screamed at her to run away from the room full of eyes pinned to her. Eyes she just knew were judging her. And she had run, she ran fast and hard to the only place she felt safe, into the arms of her best friend. She had cried until there was nothing left in her and he had never said a word he just let her cling to him like her life depended on it. She smiled when Jamie’s big goofy grin swam into her thoughts. He had been there for her no matter what people were saying about her. He did his best to cheer her up and make her forget about the hurtful things people were saying to her. She thought she had prepared herself for what she knew was inevitable but at sixteen it’s hard to brush off the hateful words without letting them affect you. And Jamie had been there by her side through all of it defending her and protecting her the best he could.

“Where in the world is James Martin?” She flipped the sun visor down as the car emerged from its cocoon of foliage that had enshrouded her for the last few miles.

They had each other’s backs and they had promised to never hold anything back no matter how painful the truth might be. They both knew what it was like to be lied to because it was for their own good and they swore to never do that to each other. He would tell her she was being too hard on herself or that she was acting like a drama queen and the world did not need two Erica Kane’s. At the time she had shuddered at the thought of being just like her mother but now she would be proud to be even one tenth the woman that she was.

She missed having him in her corner to knock some sense into her. All she could get from anyone now were empty platitudes and a pat on the back. She had been stupid to let him slip away and she regretted it but she understood better than anyone why he had to get out of Pine Valley. He wanted her to go with him, he begged and even tried bribery but she didn’t have the guts to say yes. She couldn’t just say to hell with it and run away even though that’s exactly what she wanted to do. She had responsibilities and obligations that she couldn’t just drop to go explore the world. She had a plan for her life but it seemed now that life had other plans for her.

She reeled in her memories and glanced at the clock with a sigh, another forty-five minutes and she would be in Haven Bay with Kendall. Maybe once she was there she would finally be able to breathe. She couldn’t wait to see her and judging from the screech of glee that had assaulted her ears when she called to tell her she was finally going her sister couldn’t wait either. She wanted to spill her guts but at the same time she wanted to spend the next two weeks in complete denial. Because of course ignoring the problem always made it better. She snorted at herself for even having the thought. The only thing that could stop her from thinking about it was a coma and even that wasn’t a sure bet. She had been going round and round with herself for months, even before the actual break up trying to get to the truth but she didn’t even know what the truth was.

She thought she had loved Lena; it may not have been that all consuming I can’t live without you love she had heard about but she told herself that what she had was good enough. There had been something missing right from the very beginning though; it was something intangible that you couldn’t put into words. You had to feel it. She kept telling herself that if she tried harder and gave it more time she would feel it whatever it was. But she never did, not even a tiny twinge. Maybe it hadn’t even been love at all how was she supposed to know it’s not like she had anything to compare it to. And that’s why she had done the one thing she had told herself she never would, she had settled because she didn’t think anyone else would come along who wanted her.

“Let’s face it” she mumbled to the empty car “there isn’t exactly a line of people waiting to beat down my door, and who can blame them nobody wants to get involved with the daughter of the world’s most famous tabloid cover girl.” Silence overtook the car as she went back to the unending monologue in her head.

It was only a matter of time before any relationship she was in ended up as the cover story for The Exposer. Lena had been the only one to take that risk. That was one of the biggest reasons she had gotten involved with her in the first place. Lena had pursued her and nobody had ever done that before. She had always been on the sidelines watching it happen to everyone but her. It had felt good to know that there was at least one person who wanted her but she felt deep down that something was off. And that’s where she had kept it, buried in denial. From the beginning she had to try so hard to make herself feel something, anything, for the woman who had told her that she knew she was in love within the first thirty seconds of meeting. Lena was intelligent and funny and beautiful but there was no spark, no fire. Maybe her expectations had been too high, maybe she had watched too many movies and listened to too many love songs and equated fiction with reality. Maybe she was trying to find something that didn’t really exist.

“You shouldn’t have to try that hard to love someone.” She sighed “This is ridiculous I don’t even know what I feel anymore.” If it had been love it wasn’t like she had imagined it would be and she didn’t know what was more upsetting, that love hadn’t lived up to the hype or the possibility that something was wrong with her, that she was broken inside.

Here she was with her heart in her hands trying to give it away but it wouldn’t let go. Lena might have been her only chance but she just couldn’t figure out why she had felt nothing more than a passing attraction. And even that hadn’t been that strong. She had been over all of this a million times and she still didn’t have any answers. She felt like the universe had something against her and this was its version of a practical joke. She wasn’t laughing; in fact it had been a very long time since she had laughed. It had been mostly crying for the last six months and she was tired of it. She was tired of all of it and she just didn’t want to feel anything anymore. She wanted to turn herself off and hide from the world until she felt better but that didn’t seem like a possibility at this point.

“I wish my brain had an off switch.” She looked down at the radio and sighed. How was it that nearly every song written in the history of history was about love? Surely there were other things to sing about. Maybe she could find a classical station to zone out to or a news station. She hoped for the best as she reached down to turn the radio back on. She started flipping through her presets and received nothing but static in return. In a fit of frustration she hit the scan button and finally one station came in clear as a bell and a woman’s voice spilled from the speakers.

“Thanks for tuning in to your local golden oldies station; I’m your fantabulous host for, well I’m here for as long as they let me stay. I’ve actually had to be chased from the booth with a broom because I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I love to talk I’m a bit of a chatty Kathy, a motor mouth if you will. I experience frequent bouts of verbal diarrhea, like now. I’m trying to quit but apparently they don’t have a twelve step program for that yet. Can you imagine a support group for people who can’t shut up? I don’t think anyone would actually benefit from that it would just be another place for them to talk incessantly about absolutely nothing kind of like what I’m doing now. Sorry sometimes I don’t know when to stuff a sock in it and those of you that know me are aware of this and a few have even attempted said sock stuffing. Anyway for those of you that don’t know me Frankie Stone’s the name and oldies are my game. We’re going to start off this set with a request from Mary Margaret. She insisted I play this and I never could say no to her, so without further ado let’s jump on in. Here’s Jimmy Ruffin with What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.”

The Deejays’ voice faded out.

As I walk this land of broken dreams

I have visions of many things

But happiness is just an illusion

Filled with sadness and confusion

“Did you just read my mind?” she looked at the radio with wide eyes.

What becomes of the brokenhearted

Who has love that’s now departed

I know I’ve got to find

Some kind of peace of mind, baby

The roots of love grow all around

But for me they come tumbling down

Everyday heartaches grow a little stronger

I can’t stand this pain much longer

“I think we’re in the same boat Mary Margaret.” She mumbled as trees blurred by unseen.

I walk in shadows searching for light

Cold and alone, no comfort in sight

Hoping and praying for someone who’ll care

Always moving and going nowhere

 

What becomes of the brokenhearted

Who has love that’s now departed

I know I’ve got to find

Some kind of peace of mind, help me, please

 

I’m searching though I don’t succeed

But someone look, there’s a growing need

All is lost, there’s no place for beginning

All that’s left is an unhappy ending

 

Now what becomes of the brokenhearted

Who has love that’s now departed

I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind

I’ll be searching everywhere

Just to find someone to care

I’ll be looking everyday

I know I’m gonna find away

Nothing’s gonna stop me now

I’ll find a way somehow

“Thank you Mary Margaret wherever you are that about sums up how I feel. I hope you have better luck finding someone to care.”

The song ended and Frankie’s voice filled the car again.

“I’m gonna switch gears a little here and dedicate this one myself to Mary Margaret. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. And sometimes you have to go through the really bad stuff to get to the really good stuff. It teaches you something about yourself. That you can survive the most horrible things and when the dust clears and you’re surrounded by the ruins you’re still standing there defiantly refusing to be crushed. It can show you that you’re a hell of a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. It shows you what’s worth fighting for and what isn’t worth your time and effort. And most importantly it teaches you that there are things in life worth waiting for, even when you don’t know you’re waiting for it. Sometimes you find it, and sometimes it finds you. I’m all about hope today people, there’s something magical headed this way I can feel it in the air.”

“How about sending a little bit of that magic my way?” That’s what had been missing with Lena, magic.

Frankie faded away again and The Supremes took her place.

I need love, love to ease my mind

I need to find, find someone to call mine

But mama said you can’t hurry love

No you just have to wait

She said love don’t come easy

It’s a game of give and take

You can’t hurry love

No you just have to wait

You gotta trust, give it time

No matter how long it takes

“Like I haven’t heard enough people tell me that now it’s being sung to me?”

But how many heartaches must I stand

Before I find a love to let me live again

Right now the only thing that keeps me hanging on

When I feel my strength, yeah, it’s almost gone

I remember mama said

You can’t hurry love

No you just have to wait

She said love don’t come easy

It’s a game of give and take

“I liked Mary Margaret’s choice. And why can’t I stop talking to myself?”

How long must I wait, how much more can I take

Before loneliness will cause my heart, heart to break

No I can’t bear to live my life alone

I grow impatient for a love to call my own

But when I feel that I, I can’t go on

These precious words keeps me hanging on

I remember mama said

 

You can’t hurry love

No you just have to wait

She said love don’t come easy

It’s a game of give and take

You can’t hurry love

No you just have to wait

You gotta trust, give it time

No matter how long it takes

No love, love don’t come easy

 

But I keep on waiting, anticipating for that

Soft voice to talk to me at night

For some tender arms to hold me tight

I keep waiting, I keep on waiting

But it ain’t easy, it ain’t easy when mama says

 

“I’m so tired of waiting for love when is it my turn to be happy? It seems like everyone else in Pine Valley has someone new to love every other week and all I want is one person for the rest of my life. You would think that wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

She planted her elbow against the window and massaged her temple hoping to ward off the headache she knew was soon to come. She was a patient person but how long was she expected to stand aside and watch everyone else get what she wanted. How many times could she smile and say I’m so happy for you before she snapped. What was the point of waiting for something that she was seriously starting to doubt would ever happen. She was trying not to want it so much but she couldn’t just turn it on and off like a light switch. How was she supposed to stop wanting something that was constantly in her face twenty four hours a day? There were even days when she couldn’t be around her mom and Uncle Jack because they were so happy. Not that she begrudged them that, if anyone deserved to be happy it was the two of them but sometimes she couldn’t help the way she felt. She let out a slow breath trying to calm her mind and pulled her bag into her lap. She searched blindly for the bottle of aspirin, pushing aside the pepper spray Kendall had given her and let out a small growl. She knew it was in there somewhere but it eluded her grasp. The only thing she managed to come up with was her ringing phone.

“So not what I was looking for.” She looked at the caller I.D. and lifted it to her ear “Mom is something wrong?” She couldn’t help it she was a worrier.

“Are you okay? I’ve been trying to call but it kept going straight to voicemail. I called Kendall but she’s not answering either. I keep imagining the most horrible things.”

“Mom I’m fine” If nothing else she had her family “I must have been out of range and I’m sure Kendall is just really busy with work.” She could see the patented Erica Kane hand gestures without even trying and smiled.

“Oh well they should really think about fixing that problem. What if something happened to you how would you call for help?”

“I’m sure someone would be nice enough to stop and offer help or I could walk to the nearest house and use a landline.” She watched the passing scenery. She actually hadn’t seen a house in over ten miles but she wasn’t going to tell her mother that she would just send out the National Guard.

“That doesn’t exactly reassure me. I think I’m going to make a few phone calls later and see what can be done about that. If you choose to see Kendall more often I want to know that you’ll be able to reach one of us if you need to. Really, in this day and age I’m surprised places like that still exist. When I was your age…”

“I guess they just haven’t gotten around to it yet.” She gently cut her off “So was there a reason you were trying to call me?” She was trying to move the conversation along before her mother went on a long rambling tangent about how different it is now compared to when she was her age.

“Oh yes there was. Jack and I have decided to take an impromptu vacation to Paris and I was calling to let you know that we’re leaving tomorrow and probably won’t be home when you get back. I wanted to make sure you had the number for the hotel we’re staying at just in case you can’t reach us on our cell phones.”

“Oh okay well I’m happy that you and Uncle Jack are taking some time for yourselves. You’ve both been wrapped up in work lately and things have been a little tense you deserve a break.”

“Well thank you sweetheart but you’re doing it again.” Erica admonished softly.

She scrunched her brows “Doing what?”

“Thinking of everyone else’s wellbeing ahead of your own. You’ve always done that even when you were little and it’s a wonderful thing but I wish you would put yourself first sometimes. Your Uncle Jack and I have been through a lot yes and you were always there to help us and we both love you so much for that but we want you to concentrate on what you need. I think we’ve done this enough times now to know how to fix the situation.”

“I just want you both to be happy.” She sighed into the phone.

“I know but we want you to be happy and with recent events the last thing we want is for you to worry about us. I’m worried about you.”

“You don’t need to be mom I’ll be fine I just need some time away from all the craziness.” She never thought that at twenty two years old she would have to resort to running away from home just to get a little peace and quiet. It was too bad she couldn’t run away from herself.

“Bianca, I’m your mother it’s my job to worry about you.” She paused “Do you remember when you were little and I would tuck you into bed at night? I told you I would keep you safe and that I would never let anything hurt you. Now I know that I can’t protect you from everything but that won’t stop me from trying. You and Kendall are the most important things in my life and your happiness is my number one priority.”

“Oh mom” she tried to keep the quiver out of her voice “I love you so much.”

“I love you too Bianca and it breaks my heart to see you hurt like this. I wish I could make all of the pain go away.”

“I know you do” she sniffled as tears dropped from her chin.

“Oh I didn’t mean to make you cry sweetheart I’m sorry. I just wanted to make sure you know how loved you are and that I think there are a lot of very foolish girls out there who are passing up one of the most incredible people to ever walk this earth.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re my mother.” She laughed through her tears.

“No I can assure you that I’m not. I’ve seen how amazing you are and how big your heart is with my own two eyes and if you want my opinion you’re too good for all of them.”

She swore she could actually hear her mother smile on the other end. “Mom you thought I was too good for Sesame Street.”

“Well you were” she huffed indignantly “you were a very bright child and that show wasn’t teaching you anything you didn’t already know.”

She loved her mother for saying it but she hated that she still needed to hear those things. There were days when she doubted every decision she made and if she was making the best choices for herself. Even the self assured Bianca Montgomery didn’t believe in herself every second of every day and she was fumbling along in the dark with everyone else just hoping for the best. And she just knew that if she had someone by her side fumbling with her that life wouldn’t seem so overwhelming.

“I’m glad you’re taking time to visit Kendall” she continued when Bianca didn’t say anything “you haven’t seen each other in months and I know how much you’ve missed her. Call me when you get there so I know you arrived safely and tell Kendall I love her when you see her since she isn’t answering my calls. And Bianca, I love you.”

“I will mom, I love you too. I’ll talk to you later, bye.” Through her tears she saw the sign for Haven Bay flash by her. Another thirty miles to go and she could pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist, at least for a little while. She placed the phone on the seat beside her and turned the radio back up in hopes of drowning out her brain.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

Maggie was bent over the fender of the latest car to come into the shop staring at the engine with unseeing eyes. She blinked a few times then glanced up at the clock for what must have been the millionth time in the last twenty minutes and slumped when it told her only five minutes had passed. Time had been dragging from the second she had gotten out of bed and the fact that Jamie was late getting back from lunch wasn’t helping anything. They were already behind schedule and they had customers calling hourly to see if their car was ready yet. It was a good thing she didn’t go out to lunch anymore otherwise nothing would get done at all, not that anything was getting done now. She let out a low frustrated growl and tried to clear her mind of all the crap that was swirling around in there. It was stupid to expect him to run out, grab something and come right back even though that’s what he usually did. And she was not only stupid but selfish for thinking that he would keep doing it day in and day out. And of course she was an idiot to think that he couldn’t come up with something better to do than to spend his lunch break working or someone better to spend it with for that matter. She hadn’t been very good company in a long time and he was probably glad to get away for a while and she couldn’t blame him for that but she really wished he would show up soon.

She rolled her eyes at herself. “Geez Maggie pull it together you can’t expect him to spend every waking second with you. It’s not like you’ve never been left alone before.” She actually hadn’t been alone for more than fifteen minutes at a time in the last six months but still, it counted as alone.

She dragged her attention back under the hood forcing herself to focus on the bolt she was supposed to be loosening but had just been staring at for the last ten minutes. She cranked the ratchet and pulled it free setting it aside with the others and leaned in to pull the valve cover off but it wouldn’t budge. She picked up a wrench and tapped it hoping a gentle nudge would un-stick it from the gasket gluing it to the cylinder head but it was being stubborn. She knocked it a bit harder and kept going until she was just straight up beating on the thing and the clanging of metal echoing through the shop was mixed with the sounds of Frankie’s show.

“Hey what’s with all the banging?” Jamie’s voice boomed over the sound of the clanging and the golden oldies show blaring from the ancient radio propped up on the tool cart behind her.

Her body stiffened and she froze in mid swing, her hand clenched painfully around the wrench. She could feel her nails digging into her palm but her body was on autopilot and she couldn’t stop the reaction no matter how many times she told herself that there was no longer a threat to her safety. She let out a small whimper as her jaw tightened reflexively and her eyes slammed shut so hard she saw spots. And her body waited expectantly for the pain.

“Ya know if you weren’t such a shrimp you would’ve jumped right into that thing.” He pointed to the open hood and laughed as he came around and leaned against the workbench lining the back wall.

She knew logically that she wasn’t in danger but the response was ingrained into her and she had to turn away from him. She needed to get herself under control before she could look at him she didn’t want him to see that he had scared the hell out of her and make him feel bad. She stood with her back to him loosening her death grip on the tool and winced as the herd of bulls stampeding in her chest rammed against her ribcage. She reached over to lower the volume on the radio and The Supremes belting out You Can’t Hurry Love faded to a low warble. He didn’t need to know that on top of everything else she was no longer able to control the way her body reacted. He had already put his life on hold because of what he did know if he knew about all of it things would change between them. She would lose the only person who wasn’t afraid to breathe too hard in her direction because he was afraid she might collapse in on herself. He was her normal and she needed him to stay like that so she tried her best to pretend she was fine.

“Oh where to start with you” She said as she turned back and waved the wrench in his direction “what have I told you about sneaking up on me like that?”

“Whoa Mags, remember what happened the last time you did that?” he asked as his eyes followed the wrench. “Mikey was unconscious for almost two hours and had to get twenty three stitches.” He tapped his head. When she turned around he mentally kicked himself. Compared to her Casper looked like he had a tan. He knew better than to sneak up on her but sometimes it slipped his mind that he couldn’t do things like that anymore. Things were different now and she wasn’t the same person he had met three years ago. The girl who had once chased after a purse snatcher with a potted plant as her weapon of choice was now afraid of her own shadow and he hated it.

“You’re never going to let me live that down are you?” She stood there waving the wrench at him but what she really wanted to do was run away.

He shook his head at her. “Nope not in this lifetime and probably not the next one either.” He crossed his arms over his chest and tucked his hands under them hoping it would keep him from closing the gap and wrapping her up in his arms. He wanted to make her feel safe again but sometimes he wasn’t sure she even wanted to be near him. She was slowly pushing him further and further away and he was completely clueless as to how to stop it.

She put the wrench down and pulled a greasy rag from the back pocket of her jeans and wiped her hands. They were shaking badly and she shoved them in her back pockets hoping he wouldn’t notice. She was trying to put her life back together but she was just so lost and sometimes it was a struggle to even put one foot in front of the other. Some days were harder than others and some days were impossible, she was thankful that so far today was not one of her impossible days. If it had been she probably would have thrown the wrench at Jamie instead of just waving it around at him.

“So I was listening to the radio in the truck, nice song choice, Mary Margaret.” He knew better than to do it. She had told him more than once never to call her by her full name but he couldn’t help himself. It was what he did and he was trying not to be like everyone else and change the way he acted around her. She wanted normal and he was going to do his best to give it to her come hell or high water.

“Don’t call me that you know I hate it, so does Frankie. And two…” She added as an afterthought.

“Two? Where was one?” he laughed. He had learned the first time he asked that question how she always responded to it and it was pure Maggie.

“One” she held up her middle finger “you know not to call me by my full name. Two” she held up her index finger “the comments about my height, I’m not short you’re just a freaky giant. Three, you went to lunch two hours ago don’t think I didn’t notice.”

“Where’s the finger for three?”

She held up her middle finger on the other hand. “Three.” She cocked her head and raised an eyebrow. “You really like being flipped off don’t you?”

He laughed at her again. It had been almost a month since he had seen this side of Maggie, she had become even more closed off than she already was and it was scaring the bejeezus out of him. He didn’t know how he was supposed to reach her if she didn’t want to be reached. He was trying but he was running out of ideas and pretty soon his bag of tricks would be exhausted. He missed the old Maggie and wanted her back but mostly he wanted her to want it too.

“Couldn’t wait to see me huh, careful there or I might think you’re obsessed with me or something.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“Oh gross. Do me a favor and never tell me, I don’t wanna know what perverted things go on in there.” She rolled her eyes at him and turned to dig through a toolbox. She felt guilty for shutting him out and she couldn’t take that wounded look in his eyes. It wasn’t his fault she was a mess but she didn’t know how to explain any of it to him. Half the time she didn’t even know what was happening and talking about it only made it worse so she didn’t. But she was relieved that he was still trying, that he hadn’t given up on her yet.

“Aww come on, you know you’re curious.”

“Curiosity killed the cat James, in very unpleasant ways.” She shuttered.

“Fine, but anytime you wanna know I’m willing to share.” He shrugged.

“I won’t be taking you up on that offer, ever.” She moved to lean back under the hood of the car. “Would you like to help or just stand there slacking off?”

“I guess I could help but slacking off is so much more fun.” He pushed away from the bench and joined her under the hood. “Whatcha got?”

“There’s an oil leak in one of the cylinders in the right bank and it sounds like there’s a bad bearing on the crankshaft. I was in the middle of trying to pull the valve cover off when you came in here yelling like a freaking loon.”

“I thought you had something hard that you needed big strong Jamie for, you can do this blindfolded with both hands tied behind your back. Speaking of which…”

“NO!” she cut him off with a hand in his face “I told you I didn’t wanna know. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.” She put her hand over her mouth and made an exaggerated gagging sound knowing that just the thought of someone upchucking would cause him to toss his cookies.

“Okay, okay, I’m done. I promise.” He held his hands up in surrender trying not to lose his lunch.

“Good, I don’t wanna have to use this on you.” She waved the wrench at him.

He stepped back and quickly threw both arms over his head in panic “That’s not funny Mikey still doesn’t have his sense of smell back.” He pulled his arms apart just far enough to peek through them.

“That was an accident it’s not like I was aiming for him. And if I could do that without trying just imagine what I could do if I were aiming.” She cocked a warning eyebrow at him.

“You’re so cute when you try to be threatening.” He patted her head and laughed.

She swatted his hand away and growled at him. All he did was laugh harder.

“Speaking of threatening” she said when he finally had control over himself. “I need to have a talk with my sister later.” She picked up the ratchet and threw it onto the rolling cart the radio was sitting on and picked up a chisel and rubber mallet.

“Poor Frankie, you know she doesn’t mean anything by it. She loves you. We all love you…” he leaned his crossed arms along the top of the radiator and watched her work.

“And you show it oh so well…” She shot back at him as she wedged the chisel in between the valve cover and cylinder head. She tapped it with the mallet and pried gently.

“Come on Mags, cut her some slack she didn’t really say your name.”

She stopped in mid pry “Jamie calling me Mary Margaret is the same thing. How many Mary Margaret’s do you know?” She sighed. “Look I know I told you both to keep things as normal as possible but I don’t want my name being mentioned in any way on the air. I’ve had my fill of being stared at like a leper. I don’t want them to keep being reminded of it I want them to forget so I can forget.”

It had been an unintentional change in direction on her part she had gotten good at steering clear of anything that might lead to exactly this. She never talked about what happened and he didn’t blame her but he was afraid that if she didn’t get it out she would never get her life back. He had told her more than once that if she needed or wanted to talk he was there whenever she needed him. He was still waiting for her to take him up on that offer.

“I know and if I could make that happen I would and so would Frankie. But Mags I don’t think you’re giving people enough credit here they aren’t trying to make things harder for you.”

“They don’t have to try they just do by knowing. I see it every time anyone looks at me. I’m not me anymore I’m what he made me into.”

“They don’t mean to but you aren’t making it any better by hiding. If you start getting out more and talk to them they’ll start acting normally around you. The only reason they act differently around you is because you act differently around them.”

“When did you get to be so insightful?” she squinted at him. She wanted to slam her head in the hood for saying anything. She really didn’t want to talk about it, ever.

“I’ve been watching old episodes of Dr. Phil. Look you know we just want to help you if you’ll let us.” He stood and leaned in on his hands.

“Jamie your idea of helping would land you in jail and him in the hospital.” Her heart double timed at just the thought of him not being there. She didn’t have any friends left that she could go to, he was it. He and Frankie were all she had because she had pushed everyone else away.

“I’m not seeing a problem with that. It would make me feel better.” He shrugged and watched her. He couldn’t take much more of this. She had never been the kind of person to care what others thought of her she was always going to be herself and to hell with anyone who didn’t like it. He wanted her to stand up for herself like she use to, to be proud of who she is and tell everyone they could take their opinions and shove them up their tailpipe.

With the exception of the last month she had been getting better if only just slightly. She may not have been out painting the town day-glow orange but she was better than she had been. For the first few weeks after she had been discharged from the hospital she hadn’t even left the house to get the mail. When she had finally agreed to go back to work he had come close to running out and buying a cake and balloons. But that spark in her eyes was still missing it was gone and along with it almost every trace of the girl she had once been. The difference between who she was then and the girl in front of him now was like putting a Gremlin next to a Camaro and saying they were the same thing.

“I know it would but it wouldn’t change the past. I’m trying my best to put it behind me and move on.” She was lying to him but the lie was easier to tell than the truth. The truth was that it might be the past but she was far from being able to move on and her constant nightmares attested to that fact. She unconsciously rubbed the scar creasing her left eyebrow. “I wish you and Frankie would let me do that.” She finished.

The movement didn’t go unnoticed by Jamie. She did it a lot and he didn’t think she was even aware she was doing it. He hated that scar. He hated that it was a permanent reminder of the hell she had lived through and he hated that it wasn’t the only one. He hadn’t seen all of them but he knew they were there. He had seen more bandages, splints and casts on her than there were stars on the American flag for almost a year. He had seen her face contort with pain when she moved and he had heard her blow it off as if she had nothing more than a paper cut. He had tried to talk to her, to get her to tell him what was going on, to go to the police but after a while she had closed herself off and shut him out and the only time they saw each other was at work and there wasn't much talking being done. He crossed his arms over his chest and when he spoke again it was a whisper.

“I wish I had never introduced you to Jonathan. If I would’ve known what he was…..” He hung his head unable to meet her eyes.

“James Martin don’t you dare do that.” She moved around the front of the car to stand in front of him. “What he did, who he is, is not your fault. It’s his and his alone.” The thought had never crossed her mind that Jamie thought he was somehow responsible. She pushed him away and refused to talk about it, she had done this. She made him think she blamed him.

He stood there motionless staring at the oil stained concrete. She could tell him that everyday for the rest of their lives and he would never believe it. He had thought Jonathan was a good guy and that he would be perfect for Maggie. He had been wrong and she had paid for his poor judgment of character.

“Jamie please, look at me.” She spoke softly and waited for him to lift his head before she continued. “I don’t blame you for what happened and I don’t want you blaming yourself. He’s responsible for his actions and I’m responsible for mine. If I had said something the first time…” she closed her eyes hoping she could do this. She would do this no matter how much she didn’t want to, for him. She owed him her life it was the least she could do.

“No way Maggie.” He stopped her. “If I’m not allowed to blame myself then you aren’t allowed to either. You didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t ask for what he did to you.” This was his chance to finally say the things he’d had to keep bottled up because she wasn’t ready to hear them. Maybe now she was ready and he had to get them out before she shut down on him again.

“And you didn’t tell him to do it.” She swallowed thickly and willed her voice not to crack “He’s…he’s a monster and I helped him hide it from everyone. I was ashamed of myself for what I let him do to me so I kept my mouth shut.” She wrapped her arms around herself tightly “I didn’t want anyone knowing. If I would’ve just said something it would’ve never gotten to the point it did.” She rubbed the scar again and tried to block out the memories of that night.

It was pointless. She had tried to push them away, to forget all of it but they wouldn’t leave her alone. She could still hear the sound of her own voice screaming in her ears as she tried to run from him. She could still hear herself begging for him to stop, could still hear his voice telling her it was all her fault and that she had made him do this. She could feel his hands around her throat squeezing tighter and tighter and the look in his eyes. He had enjoyed it.

She felt the bile rise in the back of her throat and forced herself to focus on Jamie’s voice. She didn’t want him to know just how screwed up she was, he would really never forgive himself if he did.

“I wish you would’ve talked to me, let me do something I could’ve stopped him.”

“I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell you because I couldn’t say it out loud and when you kept asking me I thought if I shut you out you would stop asking. It would’ve somehow made it more real than it already was because if someone else knew then that meant it was really happening and I had let it.”

“I should’ve done something anyway I knew he was hurting you and I didn’t do a damn thing to stop it.” His voice grew louder “I should’ve gone to the police myself I should’ve dragged you in there kicking and screaming if I had to. And I shouldn’t have let you agree to that plea deal. He nearly killed you and all he got was six months in a psychiatric facility and a year’s probation? And he didn’t even serve the whole six months! The damn legal system gave him a slap on the wrist and then sent him off with a pat on his head and told him to be a good boy and not to do it again. I mean, he’s out there walking around like nothing ever happened!” He threw his arm out in frustration.

He saw her flinch and immediately regretted the action.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry I didn’t mean…I mean I wasn’t thinking it just….just makes me so angry…” This was not the way he thought he would handle this conversation but it was the way he was hoping she would. He wanted her to get angry and scream and yell at least then he would know she was feeling something. Most of the time she either walked around like a zombie or she pretended to be fine when she was anything but fine.

“Jamie, it’s okay. I know you would never hurt me it’s just a natural response I picked up and can’t seem to shake.” She shrugged. “It’s getting better though, I didn’t dive for cover.” But she had wanted to. This was not how she had seen her day going. Her eyes burned like a forest fire with the effort to keep the tears at bay and her mouth felt like someone had poured the Haven beach into it.

“It’ll keep getting better I promise. Like Frankie said something magical is headed our way, it’s in the air and I can feel it too.” He stepped towards her hesitantly and when she didn’t move he put his arms around her. He hoped like hell her sister was right because Maggie could use something like that.

“Not you too.” She mumbled into his chest. “She has corrupted your mind.” She pulled away to stare at him. She wouldn’t have gotten this far without him at her side and she had let him down. She had gotten good at letting people down in the last year and she didn’t blame them for running from her whenever they saw her coming. She would run from herself if she could.

“My mind was already corrupt I didn’t need any help with that.” He laughed. “Come on let’s take a break, get some fresh air or something I think the fumes in here are making me delirious.” He put his arm around her shoulder. “And you can leave the wrench.” He added.

“Really, you can let it go now!”

“I bet Mikey wishes you hadn’t let go. Poor guy, he has trouble adding two plus two now.” He shook his head sadly.

“Ugh, I give up. You’re relentless.” She threw her hands up and moved away from him. This was how things use to be, the two of them trading shots and picking on each other mercilessly. If she could just keep her mind from slipping away this was how they could be again.

“You know you love that about me. Also my charm, and my good looks and my dance moves and that I never argue when you wanna watch chick flicks….” He listed off his good points.

“Speaking of movies are we still on for the drive-inn Saturday night?” She asked grabbing onto the change in subject. When she finally worked up the courage to leave the house going to the movies had become their new Saturday routine. It was the only time she could forget about her own life and get lost in someone else’s. He had told her he didn’t mind changing things up but she knew he missed hanging out at Johnny’s with all their friends and dancing until they were too sore to move.

Going dancing at Jivin’ Johnny’s had been their old Saturday routine and she missed that more than she let herself admit to. Her closet was full of vintage fifties dresses that she couldn’t even look at without thinking of him. He had taken something she loved and turned her against it. She missed going, missed her friends, but most of all she missed dancing. Jonathan had shrunk her world, he made sure that he was the center of her universe and it wasn’t long before dancing at Johnny’s had no longer been allowed. He wouldn’t have her parading around in those low cut dresses like a whore and letting all those men touch her. Like hell anyone was touching his property. He had kept her locked away from everyone and everything she loved and he was still doing it. She couldn’t stand the thought of being out in public where people stared at her like she was a twenty car pile up on the freeway. What she would give to be able to go back and make different choices.

“Umm…actually Mags, I kinda have to break our plans for Saturday. I got a date?” He hadn’t intended for that to sound like a question.

“Oh.” Was all she said as she went back to prying off the valve cover.

“I hate to bail on you but I’ve been trying for weeks to get this girl to go out with me and she finally wilted under the Martin charm.” He felt like an ass now. “I wasn’t thinking and I told her Saturday.”

“It’s okay Jamie, really.” She stopped what she was doing and looked at him. “You need your own life and I don’t expect you to spend every waking second with me. I’m a big girl; I’m perfectly capable of being on my own.” She wasn’t sure she was capable of much anymore. She had let Jonathan poison her mind. He had made her doubt herself, had made her doubt every thought, decision and action. He did something no one had ever been able to do to her before; he had made her hate herself.

“I know, but I still feel bad. You’re my best friend and I’m blowing you off for some girl.”

She didn’t know what she was going to do. She couldn’t be left alone for too long because she knew where her mind would end up and it was a place she didn’t want to go. It was the place that left her curled up in a corner of the room with her arms wrapped around her head trying not to cry. Because crying made it worse, it was a weakness he didn’t tolerate and the more she cried the more he hit her. He didn’t tolerate much of anything, and heaven help her if she embarrassed him in front of anyone or embarrassed herself for that matter. People might think badly of him because he was dating someone who was foolish or incompetent.

“If I were a guy what would you do?” she asked trying to bring herself back from the thoughts that plagued her constantly.

He saw her slip away again to that place he knew Jonathan still held inside of her. He saw it happen a lot and when she came back she always seemed a bit dimmer than she had been before. He hated to imagine the hell she was reliving but he didn’t know how to help her get away from it. He wasn’t sure she ever would, not completely. He would give anything for those memories to not be with her for the rest of her life.

“I would blow you off for the hot chick. No brainer. But you’re not a guy, you’re Maggie.”

“Thank you for reminding me of who I am, I had forgotten for a second there.” She threw a half hearted lopsided smile at him. “Seriously, go have fun. I’ve been leaning on you for too long and I need to learn how to stand on my own again. I need to remember who I was before…”

“If I recall correctly you were a bit of a smartass.” Before Jonathan was what she was going to say. He was gone and her whole world still revolved around him. He’d be dammed if he would let that asshole darken the rest of her life.

She picked the wrench up from where she had left it and pointed it at him. She silently thanked him for not latching back onto the one thing she didn’t want to even think about let alone talk about. But since Jonathan’s release a month ago he was the only thing she thought about. She hadn’t seen him but she knew he was out there and it terrified her. He had come close to killing her once and she knew he was more than capable of finishing what he started.

“Okay, okay!” he said bringing her attention back to him “But if you need anything, call me. Now please put the wrench down.”

“I’ll be fine Jamie; I’m not a five year old I don’t need a babysitter.” She was pretty sure she did.

“Really? Wasn’t it just last week you got your head stuck in the porch railing at home?” He quirked an eyebrow at her.

She smiled at his use of the word home, like it wasn’t just his house but theirs. If it wouldn’t have been for Jamie she wouldn’t have a home. She had given up her apartment to move in with Jonathan and after her life shattered she had nowhere to go. The thought of living with Frankie and her roommates had literally made her throw up and Jamie had a house all to himself. A house with a state of the art security system. She had wanted to find her own place but he had insisted that she stay with him and she didn’t have the strength to argue. She was actually grateful for that lack of strength because she was sure she wouldn’t have made it by herself.

“That was you bonehead. I had to saw you out and you kept yelling at me that I was too close to your hair.” She reached over to muss it up but he had reflexes like a cat and ducked her hand.

“Hey, the hair is a big part of the Martin charm. Girls swoon when I run my hand through it, watch.”

He demonstrated the move and waited for her to actually swoon. It didn’t happen.

“Did you just say swoon?” she asked completely ignoring the move and laughing at him. “Did you pick up some new words while trolling the retirement homes for dates?”

He smiled at her. Now that was a Maggie snark if ever he heard one. This was his Maggie. He would do anything to bring her back, to make things like they were before Jonathan changed her. And he would protect her even if it was from herself. He stepped away from the car and turned the radio back up.

“Dance with me Mags, like old times.” He held out his hand and smiled at her.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we’re kind of working right now.” She moved to the workbench and had to steady herself as the room started to spin violently. She slammed her eyes shut as the memory descended on her like vultures on a rotten carcass.

“When I told you that you weren’t dancing anymore that includes dancing with that loser friend of yours.”

“But it’s his birthday and he wanted to dance I couldn’t tell him no.” she knew that was a mistake the second it came out of her mouth.

“Really? Let’s see just how difficult it is. No. See that wasn’t too hard it’s a one syllable word that even your tiny brain can understand. Try it with me Maggie, no.”

She just stared at him knowing that even if she did as she was told it wouldn’t stop what was coming.

He grabbed her by her hair and pulled her head back forcefully. “You make me do these things because you just don’t learn and you seem to choose the hard way every time.” He threw her into the dresser and picture frames went crashing to the floor.

Her breath left her tiny body with the force of the impact but she somehow managed to stay on her feet. She had felt something snap when she hit the hard edge and now there was a searing pain that threatened to drop her to her knees. She clung to the piece of furniture knowing that if she showed any sign of weakness he wouldn’t stop. She wanted him to stop; she wanted the pain to go away. She wanted to go away and never come back. If she hadn’t been so defiant she could have avoided this. He was right she didn’t learn.

“So tell me Maggie are you going to keep dancing? Because if you are we’ll keep doing this until you obey me. You don’t go out dancing, you don’t dance with that loser friend of yours, you don’t even dance by yourself are we clear?”

Maggie just nodded her head and hoped he would take her to the hospital soon.

She kept her back to Jamie as he kept talking trying to compose herself. That had been the last time she had danced. It didn’t bring her joy the way it use to now it just brought her memories of pain and she didn’t want to remember.

“Umm, that’s the great part about being the owners; we don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for slacking off. Unless you want to yell at yourself, in which case I’ll just be over there deciding whether or not I should call and reserve you a padded room at the nut bar hotel.”

“Maybe another time we really need to get this stuff done.” Her voice was flat even in her own ears “Now that Mikey isn’t here to help we’re falling behind and if we start losing customers this place is going down the toilet.” She turned without looking at him. She couldn’t look him in the eyes he would know; he always knew he just never said anything.

“Boy you sure are a nut buster but since you’re just so adorable and all I guess I could do this thing you call ‘work’.” He made air quotes and sighed over dramatically.

Getting the old Maggie back was proving to be a lot harder than he thought.

<+><+><+><+><+><+><+><+><+><+>

He was slumped down in the seat with his ball cap pulled low over his bloodshot eyes staring at her through the dark tint of the window. He could see her moving around the shop and his fingers instinctively curled around the steering wheel as he remembered the feel of her warm skin against his hands as he squeezed tighter and tighter. She had made a fool of him more than once and in the end had blown his life to hell and she was going to pay for it. He felt the ridges of the gas pedal scrape under his boot and imagined for just an instant pointing the big black car at the garage and putting his foot in the floorboard. But that wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing the life drain from her eyes or listening to her breath hiss from her lungs as she struggled frantically to pry his hands from around her throat. He wouldn’t get to hear her beg and plead for him to stop. That had always been his favorite part and he had spent too much time putting his plan together just to give into an impulse.

“Hi honey I’m home, miss me?” His voice was low and full of gravel. “I sure have missed you.” His lips curled into a sneer as he shifted into drive and took one last look at her before carefully making his way down the street.

Chapter Text

A few minutes after hanging up with her mother she passed the little sign indicating that Haven Bay was fifteen miles ahead and she had to shake her head at herself. This wasn’t how she wanted to do this but at least now she had a reason to go that not even her mother could argue with. Something had always come up that kept her firmly planted where she was, whether it was her mother, school or some random disaster she let it all dictate her life. But she wasn’t letting anyone, not even herself talk her out of leaving Pine Valley this time. And now thanks to The Exposer here she was which was ironic because if it wouldn’t have been for Donald Steele she probably would have let something else get in the way and she would have put it off yet again. She didn’t know whether to send him a fruit basket with a thank you note or a death threat.

“I could just send a fruit basket with a death threat. Oh that’s just great I’ve let him turn me into Greenlee just for that all he’s getting is the death threat. That’s all he deserves anyway for turning my life inside out after it was already upside down.” She slumped down in her seat with an annoyed grunt.

She wasn’t just taking a trip to see Kendall she was running away and she knew it. It was already hard enough trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong but when Steele stuck his nose where it didn’t belong she suddenly had cameras following her everywhere she went and hard turned into impossible. The ending of her relationship became front page news and the reason for it was now the source of intense gossip and she didn’t have a moment’s peace. She was emotionally drained and tired of fending off people who didn’t seem to realize they were talking to an actual human being with actual feelings. A person can only take so much before they snap and she had snapped like Jaws at an all you can eat surfer buffet. That poor airheaded girl from campus had been the last one to say something and she was probably still teetering around the quad in her three inch heels searching for her head. She still couldn’t decide if she was sorry about that or not but it had felt good to let out some of the frustration. Even if all she did was tell the featherbrained ding bat that listening to her talk was like sitting on a cactus, a real pain in the ass. She let out an amused snort, she was rather proud of herself for that one but the satisfaction she had gotten from that little zinger had been short lived. Her amusement took a nosedive when her mother’s words from that day started ringing in her ears. She had had to sit through her well intentioned but extremely unneeded lecture on how she couldn’t do things like that because she wasn’t like everyone else.

“As if I needed to be reminded…Oh my god stop!” She yelled raking a hand through her hair roughly “Why can’t I stop thinking for just five freaking minutes?” She cranked the radio louder and forced herself to focus on Frankie’s voice.

“And that was Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell…”

“I wouldn’t know the real thing if it bit me and I don’t need to have it rubbed in thank you.” She let out a ragged sigh. “Sorry this isn’t your fault it’s not like you’re doing this on purpose but I have to tell you I really wish I could catch something other than your station.”

“If you’re just joining the show welcome, kick up your feet, well unless you’re currently using them to walk on then you probably shouldn’t I tried it once and it didn’t turn out well. Anyway if you are using them to walk then you might as well use them to do a little dalking. Yes that’s a real thing; probably not the name I’m pretty sure the word is just gibberish that I made up but the actual act of dalking is real. I do it all the time. Although depending on the tempo of the song you either get where you’re going so slowly that people will threaten to drag you by your hair caveman style or so fast that suddenly your face is introduced to a refrigerator door. Proceed with caution. I seem to be getting away from myself a bit don’t I? How about I just play the next song I’ll start off with something a little slow to ease you in. I don’t wanna be blamed for any unfortunate refrigerator accidents or people asking how exactly it is the house cat ended up in a cast….yeah, that happened and Gina I’m still really sorry about that. The song, and my feet got away from me, literally. So without further embarrassing ado here’s Jerry Butler with Only the Strong Survive…”

Bianca had to admit that even though she wasn’t a big fan of her song choices she liked this Frankie Stone. She sounded like she was off of her rocker and didn’t care who knew it. There was no pretense; she wasn’t putting on a show for the benefit of others and those were the kind of people she wanted around her. She wished she could be like that and she knew if it weren’t for the fact that she was Erica Kane’s daughter she would be. But because she was her daughter she had to remain level headed at all times because god forbid someone with a cell phone records her doing or saying something ‘inappropriate’ and sells it to the highest bidder. She had enough with the paparazzi she didn’t need random people on the street adding to her misery. She would give anything to find a place where no one knew or cared who she was and she could just live a nice normal life without having to worry. She stabbed at the volume button and it went up a few more notches.

“I’ll be deaf by the time I get there if I keep this up.” She mumbled.

I remember my first love affair

Somehow or another the whole darn thing went wrong

My mama had some great advice

So I thought I’d put it into words of this song

 “Now that’s an understatement if ever I heard one. What was it Jamie use to say FUBAR? Yeah that’s it my relationship was FUBAR.”

I can still hear her sayin’

Boy, oh I see you’re sittin’ out there all alone

Cryin’ your eyes out ‘cause the woman that you love is gone

Oh, there’s gonna be, there’s gonna be a whole lot of trouble in your life

Oh, so listen to me get up off your knees ‘cause only the strong survive

That’s what she said; only the strong survive

 

Only the strong survive

Oh you’ve got to be strong, you’d better hold on

Don’t go all around with your head hung down

Well I wouldn’t let that little girl

No, I wouldn’t let her know that she made me feel like a clown

There’s a whole lot of girls lookin’ for a good man like you

Oh but you’ll never meet ‘em if you give up now

And say your life is through

Then she said only the strong survive

 

Only the strong survive

You’ve gotta be a man, you gotta take a stand

So I’m telling you right now only the strong survive

 

Only the strong survive

Hey, you’ve got to be strong, you’d better hold on

Don’t worry about it, don’t you know that things are gonna change

Oh, but you gotta be a man, you gotta take a stand

Don’t ever feel that, you can make it baby

It was officially a conspiracy. Frankie Stone and her inspirational songs about love and hope were trying to get to her and damn it if it wasn’t working just a little bit. If she didn’t know any better she would think Frankie knew she was listening and was directing all of it straight at her. She was feeding the eternal optimism monster inside of her and she wasn’t thrilled about it. She wanted to give up say to hell with love and focus on other things but she couldn’t get that right either, in fact she couldn’t even get her break up right. In the middle of what should have been a painful, heartbreaking moment Lena had told not to give up on finding love and that had been beyond surreal.

“Lena I need to talk to you about something.” She sighed when the tall Polish woman came into the living room. She had made up her mind and had to do this now before she lost her nerve.

“What is it my love?”

She moved around her outstretched hand and avoided eye contact “Please, sit.” She couldn’t look into those eyes knowing what she was about to do.

“Bianca you’re starting to worry me.” She moved to the couch and did as she was asked.

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately.” She could feel Lena’s eyes following her as she paced around the room. “I don’t know how to do this, any of this. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but I just can’t put it off anymore.”

“Is this about telling your mother you don’t want to run her company?”

“No Lena” she shook her head “this is about me, about us. I’ve tried for so long, and…you’re an amazing woman you really are but…I don’t know” she shrugged completely lost for words.

“Do you not want to be with me?”

She heard the sadness in the question and she felt like the most horrible human being to ever walk the earth “No.” she whispered still unable to look at her “It isn’t you it’s me.” She groaned internally at the use of that phrase but it was the truth. “I…I don’t know how to explain it.”

“You don’t love me.”

It was a statement not a question. She thought she had hidden it well but apparently not as well as she had led herself to believe.

“It’s okay I had a feeling this was coming for quite some time now. I thought my love would be enough for both of us but for the past month you’ve been pulling further away and I really thought this was going to happen much sooner.”

“Why didn’t you say anything?” she finally stopped pacing and looked at her.

“I still had hope for us. I thought maybe you just needed some time to sort through your feelings and that you would realize you loved me but I can see that isn’t the conclusion you came to.”

“No, I’m sorry. I tried I really did but…there’s just this empty hole in me and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to love someone the way I should, the way I want to. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I’m sorry.” She said again.

“You do not have to apologize; perhaps it was just the wrong time. Maybe once you finish school and get settled into your life it will happen.”

“Why aren’t you angry with me? Why aren’t you yelling and screaming and telling me to go to hell?” She sighed and moved to sit next to Lena. This wasn’t how she had expected this to go but she was relieved she didn’t have the energy or the desire to fight.

“Because I know you Bianca and I know you would never do anything to hurt me on purpose. Does it make me sad? Yes it does I won’t lie about that but I also understand that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you want it to. I enjoyed our time together and I truly thought it would last a lifetime but I know that somewhere out there I will find someone…and so will you. I love you Bianca and I wish nothing but happiness for you.”

“Thank you and I know you’ll find an amazing woman who will love you the way you deserve to be loved.”

“So will you and when you find her she will be very lucky to be loved by you.”

She still didn’t understand how Lena could be so…okay with what she had done but she was relieved nonetheless. It would have been a one sided fight anyway she would have stood there and taken whatever was thrown at her without uttering a single word in her own defense. She just didn’t get it, if she couldn’t love someone like Lena who was smart and beautiful and understanding then what chance was there that she could love anyone else. There had to be something wrong with her and she hoped Kendall would be able to help her figure out what it was. Knowing that she would be able to throw herself into her sister’s arms and just let go had been the only thing that kept her sane while she was constantly surrounded by the insanity that had become her life. Kendall wouldn’t try to give her a pep talk or tell her she would be okay and that she just needed to give it more time she would just listen. She moved to shift into fourth gear as she imagined all the crazy rambling Kendall would have to endure but was pulled right back from her thoughts when she realized that nothing was happening. Her sneakered foot pushed the clutch pedal again and it went straight to the floor with no resistance. She tried in vain to get some kind of response from the Mercedes but kept getting the same increasingly infuriating result.

“Oh you have got to be joking. This is a brand new car.” She groaned as she watched the needle on the speedometer drop. “I just can’t catch a break. Does the universe have it out for me? Am I being punished for something? Why the hell am I talking to myself again?” She yelled throwing her hands up before placing them back on the wheel.

She pulled off on the shoulder cranking up on the parking brake a little harder than was necessary and dropped her forehead to the steering wheel in defeat.

“What next, a freak torrential downpour?” She picked her head up and squinted through the windshield.

She saw nothing but clear blue sky and sunshine. She took a long slow breath to calm herself and reached over for her phone before suddenly remembering what her mother had said not that long ago about needing to call for help. She hoped like hell her mother had been wrong she wasn’t up for a long walk in the middle of nowhere. She said a silent prayer before looking to see if she had a signal and mouthed a silent thank you when she saw that all the little bars were lit up. She hit speed dial two and listened to it ring as she waited for Kendall to pick up. Her mother was of course number one on the list. They were the two people she loved and trusted more than anyone else besides her Uncle Jack, he was speed dial three.

“Hey baby sis! Are you almost here? I can’t wait to see you we’re gonna have so much fun!” Kendall answered without bothering with formalities.

“I am but I’m not.” She said leaning back in the seat her head bouncing softly as it made contact with the headrest.

“Huh? Are you stuck between dimensions or time traveling or something? Oh wait, is this like Schrodinger’s Cat? Are you having an existential crisis?” She laughed. She knew better. Bianca was the most grounded human being she had ever known but she couldn’t resist picking at her.

“No, no, no and no. I’m about fifteen miles from town and my car decided to take this opportunity to crap out on me. I think the universe has it out for me it doesn’t want me to be happy for like, more than ten minutes a day and apparently I’ve already hit my limit. I just can’t catch a break lately. Why can’t the universe go pick on someone else for a while and leave me alone?” She let out a frustrated huff.

“Binks I think you might be overreacting. Dial back the Erica impression and breathe. The universe doesn’t have it out for you it just feels like it right now because of all the garbage you’ve been dealing with. Things sound a lot worse than you let on the last time we talked.”

“I know and they are I’m at my wits end here and I don’t know what to do.” She closed her eyes placing her fingertips in the center of her forehead and rubbing. “It just seems to be one thing after another without a break in between. I feel like I’ve come unglued from myself or something. When did my life become a soap opera? And please tell me I didn’t really sound like mom.” She cringed at the thought of going all melodramatic.

“Only in the ‘All of creation revolves around me’ kind of way. But there’s a cure for that and I’m afraid the recommended de-Erica-ing process involves painful things like a stress free environment and large doses of reality.”

“Which reality are we talking about, reality according to mom or reality according to the rest of the human race? Because you know those are two different things. You know what, it doesn’t matter I’m not interested in either one I want to forget all of it. I just want to run away and bury my head in the sand for a little while.”

“Oh this is much worse than I thought. You’ve never run from anything in your life and you’re always telling me that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it better. So I guess it’s my turn to tell you the same thing.”

“I know and I’m gonna deal with it I just don’t have the energy for it right this second.”

“Okay if that’s what you want I’ll call you a tow truck then I’ll go meet you and we can ride back together. You won’t hear a peep out of me about anything until you’re ready. Oh can you hold on a sec Binks.”

She listened as her sister spoke to someone followed by the shuffling of papers. She had forgotten that she was at work and wondered if maybe Kendall would give her a job if she decided to quit school and never go home.

“Sorry about that where were we? Oh right I was gonna go pick you up off the side of the road.”

“Thank you Kendall but you really don’t have to leave work to come out here. I’ll just call you when I get to the garage and you can pick me up there you don’t need to waste your time waiting with me for a tow truck.”

“Are you sure? It’s no problem it won’t take me long to get to you.”

“I’m sure. I know you said you were putting the finishing touches on a really big wedding and that the bride makes Godzilla look like a fluffy toothless puppy.” She knew that if there was one sure way to distract her sister it was to get her talking about work and she wasn’t above doing it right now.

“Ugh I wish I had never taken her on as a client half the time I wanna strangle her the other half I wanna....well…strangle her. She’s got this whole passive-aggressive thing going and I swear she could make a Buddhist monk wanna clock her. If you hear the name Joni Stafford run like you’re being chased by a flock of angry carnivorous emus. Oh and do yourself a favor, don’t ever become a wedding planner. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I decided to do this for a living. If I could go back in time I would slap myself around until the urge left me.”

“You know you love your job.” Bianca smiled at her sister’s ranting. “Didn’t you once tell me you wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world?”

“That was before I met the wicked bitch of Haven Bay. I would rather snuggle up with that bear that tried to eat mom.” She quipped.

Bianca nearly snorted. Her sister was one of the very few people who could make her laugh even when the only thing she wanted to do was cry. She was the most down to earth person she knew and she didn’t let anything faze her, not even the diva herself. Kendall was so put together and sure of herself and she wanted to be just like her when she grew up.

“Finish what you need to do I’ll be fine by myself. Actually I’m not really by myself I’ve got the golden oldies keeping me company.”

“You’re listening to Frankie Stone? I listen to her all the time she cracks me up. You should’ve heard the story about how she was ambushed by the ninja squirrel of death. I’m not joking when I tell you I lost it. I hope you aren’t drinking anything because you will spit it all over your car. You never know what’s gonna come out of her mouth.”

“I kind of got that impression. She sounds real like she couldn’t care less about what anyone thinks of her because she’s perfectly fine to be who she is. Other than you I don’t know anybody like that.”

“Well you know me I could give a rat’s furry butt what other people think of me. My opinion of myself is floating around somewhere in the stratosphere so there isn’t much they could say that would bring me down.” She laughed.

“I wish I could say that but right now my opinion of myself is about six feet under and getting deeper.” She leaned over and rested her head against the window and closed her eyes.

“It’s a good thing you’re coming to visit then because it sounds like you’ve gotten way down on yourself. I’ve never heard you like this Lena must’ve really messed with you.”

“It wasn’t her, absolutely none of this is her fault it’s all me.” She sighed “You’ll hear all about it soon enough.”

“That’s what I’m here for Binks. You can rant and rave and throw an epic temper tantrum that would put mom to shame and I’ll listen that’s what sisters do. When I need someone to talk to you’re always there for me. When you get settled in we can talk about all the crazies in Pine Valley and how most of them should probably be carted off to the booby hatch. It’ll make you feel much better about yourself. Call me when you get into town and I’ll head over there. I’ll make sure you don’t get ripped off by some crook who thinks he can take advantage of you because you’re a woman.”

“Kendall do you know anything about cars other than how to turn them on?”

“No but I’ve picked up a few tricks from Frankenstein’s cranky overbearing bride. I could make it so he pays you just to get rid of me.

“You wouldn’t?” She smiled into the phone at her sister’s over protectiveness.

“I would. Go ahead and let him try to rip you off and I’ll rip something off of him.”

“Kendall!” She sputtered as she bolted upright in her seat.

“What? If I can’t threaten someone’s manhood for my sister then who for?”

Bianca listened to her laugh on the other end of the phone. It was a sound she wasn’t used to hearing much recently, especially coming from herself.

“I’m gonna hang up now so you can call for a tow truck. Please don’t rip any body parts off of anyone; I don’t want to have to bail you out of jail my first day here.” She shook her head but she was smiling. “Oh and Kendall?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too sis. Call me when you get to the garage. I’ll see you soon.”

*

*

*

Kendall hung up and flipped through the phone book looking for a towing service. She scanned through them and chose one based purely on its name. It sounded familiar and yummy and suddenly she was hungry. Kendall entered the number into her cell and placed the call.

“JAM Auto Repair and Towing how can we get you moving today?” A female voice answered.

*

*

*

She hung up the phone and turned the key so she could listen to the radio while she waited. Frankie Stone and her golden oldies were much better company than her own mind. She sat through the commercials for what seemed like an eternity and watched as a big black car blew by her doing what must have been a hundred miles an hour. She watched in the rearview mirror as it swerved dangerously close to the oncoming traffic and shook her head at the reckless driver before returning her attention to the horizon. Kendall was probably on the phone right now with a towing service and she would be rescued like the proverbial damsel in distress. Before Lena she had never thought she needed rescuing she was perfectly capable of rescuing herself and a few others along the way. She was always willing to lend a hand or an ear when people needed it but now she didn’t feel like she was of any use to anyone. She had put everything she had into her relationship and she didn’t think she had much left to offer.

“Why is all of this happening?” she shook her head in bewilderment. “Oh thank you.” She said when she heard Frankie’s voice return.

“We’re nearing the end of the hour of and I just want to thank all of the listeners for tuning in. And a special thank you goes out to Marvin and his son Cameron, the two very nice men who didn’t ask questions when they found me dangling by one leg from a tree yesterday while I was muttering curse words and flipping off thin air. It’s a good thing because I really didn’t want to explain to them that I thought I had spotted the ninja squirrel of death that’s running around town taunting me with a chunk of my own hair. I mean, they might think I’m nuttier than a fruitcake factory if I told them that right?”

She sat there in her car laughing all by herself. That wasn’t what she had expected to hear but then is seemed that Frankie wasn’t the kind of person to do the expected. She had done a few crazy unexpected things but only because she let reason take a flying leap through a window and let Kendall or Jamie talk her into it. She had been talked into more than a few of their harebrained schemes but they turned out to be some of the best times of her life and she wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. She had her own share of insanely funny stories but unlike Frankie she had been sworn to secrecy and only in the event of Jamie’s death was she allowed to divulge them. Not that she would because she didn’t come off looking too good herself in some of them. Frankie actually reminded her a lot of Jamie and maybe that’s why she felt this strange connection to her. She had always been drawn to nut balls who were more interested in laughing than they were in crying and she really needed that right now. She needed to be surrounded by laughter and people who didn’t think every waking second should be spent worrying.

“I think you and Jamie would get along great.” She shook her head at the uncanny resemblance between her friend and the stranger on the radio.

“Now that you all know about my amazing tree climbing abilities let’s get back to the music shall we? Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a pattern with these songs? I just noticed it myself, I don’t know what’s going on, maybe the universe is trying to communicate something and I’m the bullhorn. Maybe my Spidey Sense is tingling. Maybe I’m psychic, who knows. What I do know is that we’ve got a love theme going on here and since I’m in charge we’re just gonna keep the streak alive. Just maybe, love really is in the air and it’s wafting oh so gently in our direction. Would you look at me, I have such a way with words. I get the feeling though that’s not why they let me on the air; come to think of it I don’t know why they let me on the air. They must be gonzo, I sure wouldn’t give myself access to public airwaves because most of the time I don’t even know what’s gonna come spilling out. Or like now I’ll just go rambling off on a tangent and you can all listen to me babble for an hour about absolutely nothing. I’m sure you’re sitting there scratching your heads wondering when I’m gonna finally get back to the music. So before you all end up with a bald spot to match my own here ya go this is the amazing Etta James with At Last….”

At Last

My love has come along

My lonely days are over

And life is like a song

Oh yeah yeah

 

At last

The skies above are blue

My heart was wrapped up in clover

The night I looked at you

 

I found a dream, that I could speak to

A dream that I can call my own

I found a thrill to press my cheek to

A thrill that I have never known

 

Oh yeah yeah

You smiled, you smiled

Oh and the spell was cast

And here we are in heaven

For you are mine

 

At last

“Oh I wish I could find that.” She sniffled as she dug through her bag for a tissue “You sure do know how to mess with a persons emotions don’t you? You play all of these songs about love and make my heart think it just might happen while my brain is telling me the complete opposite.” She said to the disembodied voice as if she could hear her. She wiped at her eyes while the voice continued speaking.

“I love that, a dream you can speak to. Imagine if suddenly you came face to face with your dream and you could speak to it what would you say? Anyway I’m gonna take a short detour, we’ll get back to the music but I’d like to talk about something a little more serious for a minute. She’s probably going to skewer my head for saying this but oh well, suck it up buttercup you aren’t the boss of me, I’m older by three and half minutes. Okay now that the disclaimer is out of the way I know a lot of you out there are aware that domestic violence has touched a member of my family in the recent past and it lit a fire under my backside to do something to help in some small way. So the station is putting on a show to raise funds for the local women’s shelter and I will be your fabulous host for the evening. It’s going to be held at Jivin’ Johnny’s two weeks from Saturday, it’s free to get in but we urge you to donate whatever you can. If you don’t want to attend but wish to donate you can drop by the station and speak to either Mel the station manager or myself. There will be food, drink, a live band and lots of dancing. It’s for a good cause and I hope to see all of you there.”

She dropped her hands into her lap staring at them “And here I am thinking my problems are world shattering” she said quietly, ashamed of herself for being so self involved lately “I can’t imagine what she must have gone through.” Her heart went out to Frankie’s family as an indefinable feeling overtook her. It felt like she was meant to hear Frankie’s words and she was being drawn in, like she was trying to tell her there was something more than just Kendall waiting for her. “Now I think the deejay on the radio is conspiring to get me to Haven Bay I think I need to call my therapist…aaaaannnnd I’m talking to myself again.” She quickly dismissed the conspiracy theory with a shake of her head. “Where is that tow truck?”

And as if summoned by La Kane herself it appeared.

“I must remember to use my powers only for good.” She whispered as she stared wide eyed at the approaching truck.

*

*

*

Frankie Stone turned the airwaves over to a double play and slumped back in her chair. She would be waiting on a phone call from her sister at the end of her shift wanting to know what she had been thinking. She didn’t even know why she had done it. She never mentioned Maggie on the air at all but she had done it twice in less than an hour. She knew better but it had come out of her mouth before she knew what she was saying.

“I’m so gonna be toast.” She mumbled while staring at her phone.

She hadn’t technically said her name the first time but there weren’t a lot of Mary Margaret’s running around Haven Bay and the second time she hadn’t said her name at all. But it didn’t matter they all knew who she was talking about and the evidence photos of her injuries had made it impossible for anyone to forget. The ‘accidentally’ leaked photos had been seared into everyone’s brains and humiliated Maggie to the point that she and Jamie couldn’t get her to go anywhere other than work or the station. She had convinced herself that they didn’t see her anymore all they saw was the poor pathetic girl who let some asshole use her as a punching bag. But Frankie knew better and not a single person who knew them thought any such thing. If anything they were supportive and encouraging. She kept trying to tell Maggie that nobody thought she was pathetic but she wouldn’t listen she just said that they must think that about her because it’s what she thought of herself. Because of those pictures everyone was privy to something that should have remained private unless she decided otherwise. What little control Maggie had left in her life had been ripped away from her and there wasn’t an excuse on earth that would justify the cruelty of the act. Anyone with an ounce of compassion and a soul would never understand how anyone could do something like that to another human being. And that’s how she knew, how they all knew who had done it and why. And it only made it worse that Maggie kept running into her by accident. She swore that the second she ever came across undeniable proof there would be a petty, jealous bottle blonde bitch hobbling around town on two broken legs sucking her lunch through a straw not long after.

She looked out of the big picture window in front of her running a frustrated hand through her dirty blonde hair. She tried not to let her anger get the best of her while she was on the air but sometimes it was hard to rein in when it came to Joni Stafford. She wasn’t a violent person but in this case she would make an exception. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and let it out slowly trying to center herself. When she opened them again she was being waved to by some of the locals passing by and she waved back a smile replacing the frown she had been wearing just seconds ago. She loved being able to see people and being seen by them while she worked it made her feel connected to her invisible audience. It wasn’t just that though, she had to admit that she loved the attention and at one time Maggie had too. Not that they went out of their way to get it but they didn’t mind when they suddenly found themselves in the spotlight either. They loved to be around and interact with people and that positive energy made people want to be around them. She felt a spike of rage and forcefully shoved it back down with a growl. That pull that they had with people was the reason Joni had always been jealous of them. She wasn’t the center of attention and thought she should be and much to her dismay there wasn’t a single thing she could do or say that would change that fact. Everyone loved them and Joni came in at an extremely distant second place. It was as if they had somehow usurped her rightful place as queen and she was fighting a one sided battle to get her crown back. She and Maggie couldn’t care less about her and what she thought she deserved. Joni wasn’t worth the time or effort it would take to explain to her that this was the real world and not her distorted fantasy version of it.

She snorted “She’s less queen and more flying monkey.” She smiled at the image of the Wicked Witch’s monkeys with Joni’s face…on their ass. That made her laugh outright. She quickly grabbed a pen and paper and jotted down ‘photoshop, Joni, monkey asses’ and tucked it away in her messenger bag.

She sat back and ticked her eyes up to the picture that hung on the wall by the booth’s door and just like that the sadness crept back into her heart. It had been the last contest at Johnny’s that Maggie had attended and she was standing triumphantly on the stage with Jamie as they hoisted the trophy above their heads. Maggie had loved to dance and she could draw a crowd like no one else. She had this infectious energy that made you want to get out there with her even when you knew you couldn’t keep up. And it didn’t matter if you could dance like Fred Astaire or if you had two left feet she never refused anyone because for Maggie it wasn’t about how good you were. It was about seeing the way they would light up when they stopped being self conscious and just let the music take them away. It was about joy and happiness and just letting go. She had never seen anyone look as free or happy as Maggie did when she was being twirled and hurled around the floor. But she didn’t dance anymore and she wasn’t looking to have a light shined on her. And that broke Frankie’s heart in ways she didn’t think were even possible. She sighed when the current song started to wind down and forced her mind back from its unpleasant little side trip.

“I hope everyone enjoyed that little tune I know I did” it was a lie. She couldn’t even remember what song it was “I was just sitting here thinking, which for those of you who know,” she went back into Frankie Stone deejay mode “is never a good thing. Or a safe thing for that matter I once blew up a stove because I had been thinking and that poor turkey came to an unfortunate and unspeakable end. Sorry little buddy I’m sure you’re in turkey heaven giving me the finger and muttering about the pint size crazy woman and her amazing ability to kill something that was already dead. What can I say it’s a gift. It’s not quite as impressive as my floor attacking skills though, they never see it coming, actually neither do I. It tends to surprise both of us but never fear I have yet to meet a floor that’s harder than my head. Although I have to admit that concrete puts up a pretty good fight so I suggest that if you plan to hone your floor attacking skills you should start with shag carpeting. Of course you might have to invent a time machine first and take a trip to the seventies.” She wished somebody would so she could go back and make everything turn out differently. “I’ve gotten way off track again….”

Chapter Text

“She is so not right in the head.” She laughed and looked down reluctantly switching off the ignition as the massive flatbed truck backed into place. She felt a twinge of loss and thought she must really need actual human company because this was not normal. It was a little off putting to her that she felt some sort of a connection to a voice on the radio. It wasn’t Frankie Stone specifically but it definitely had something to do with her. It was like she was beckoning her with a crooked finger and saying come here I have something to show you.

“Oh my God what is wrong with me?” She rolled her eyes and rubbed her forehead with her fingertips “Kendall is gonna get a good laugh out of this one. Or she might reserve me a room in the booby hatch with the rest of Pine Valley." She muttered to herself as she watched the driver’s side door of the truck swing open.

She grabbed her bag from the passenger seat digging through it to make sure she had her phone and heard the heavy door slam shut. She glanced up and not seeing anyone looked down at the radio and frowned. She would miss the rest of the show and she didn't like the thought of whatever this was slipping through her fingers. She let out an inarticulate sound and bounced her head against the steering wheel a few times hoping it would knock at least some of her sanity back into place. When she was satisfied that it was having zero effect she picked her head up and found a set of eyes staring at her.

“Holy hell!” Her hand went to her chest and she thought she might have swallowed her tongue.

He was bent over at the waist with his nose pressed to the window and the biggest grin she had ever seen plastered to his face.

She was yelling before she even had the door open “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” She quickly exited the car and slapped at him a few times. "What is wrong with you?!" She slapped a few more times for good measure.

“Is it yell at Jamie day and no one told me?” He blocked her assault “I wish people would warn me about things like this I like to be prepared." When he was sure she was done he put his arms down "Well are you just gonna stand there or do I get a hug?” He stared at her unsure if it was really her or if he was hallucinating, the fumes in the garage had been extra strong.

She tried to contain the smile threatening to split her face but it was useless. She threw herself into his arms wrapped herself around him like a human pretzel and squeezed “I can’t believe you’re here. What are you doing here? I was seriously just thinking about you. Holy crap my power to summon things is stronger than I thought.” She said as she released him and watched him suck in a breath. He had been the last thing she was expecting to find while stranded on the side of the road.

“First hi.” He laughed “Second, I live in Haven Bay now. Third, of course you were I’m on the mind of every woman I’ve ever met at all times. Fourth, are you on medication for that?” He still had that grin spread across his face “What are you doing out here?”

“I’m planning a surprise party for the raccoon who lives in the third tree from the left.” She pointed “Kendall lives in Haven Bay and I was on my way to see her when, would you look at that my car broke down which is why you’re here, duh.”

“I had forgotten how hilarious you are.” He deadpanned.

It had been so long since she had used her sense of humor that she had actually forgotten she had one too. This was by far the strangest coincidence, what were the chances of her brand new car breaking down and Jamie being the tow truck driver? Like one hundred billion to one?

“And when did Kendall move to Haven Bay? It’s not that big you would think I would’ve run into her.” His brows dipped as he tried to get his head around the fact that Kendall was in the same town and he had no clue.

“She moved about six months ago. Now my question is what are you doing out here? The last postcard I got from you was from somewhere in Spain. And then you just disappeared.” She punched him in the shoulder.

“Ow geez when did you get so strong?” he rubbed his shoulder “Sorry about that when I got back to the States I was actually trying to avoid going home then this opportunity…” He gestured to the truck “dropped into my lap and I couldn't pass it up. I saw my chance to make my own life away from Pine Valley and things got kinda hectic quick. I’m a lousy person and I promise to make it up to you.”

“It’s okay trust me I understand the urge and all is forgiven but…” She looked around him and scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. “is tow truck driving such a fast paced industry that you couldn't drop me an e-mail or something?”

“Not really but I don’t just drive the truck” he smiled proudly “You’re looking at the owner of JAM Auto Repair and Towing. I’m like, all respectable now.”

“Ugh you turned into one of those horrible things they call adults. How awful for you.”

“Hey watch it with the name calling. I’m not an adult I’m a man child.” He puffed out his chest and started strutting.

If she could choose the one person to run into randomly it would be James Martin. He knew better than most the burden of being judged based on who you were related to. Although ‘Tad the Cad’ had long ago been reformed people still assumed he was just like his father had been at that age. She knew better. He tried to pretend otherwise but Jamie was a romantic sap just like her. Or at least she had been once upon a time. And even though he had always made a big show of hating romantic comedies he secretly loved them just as much as she did. That’s one of the reasons they had gotten along so well, he protested her choices but they were always half hearted.

“Do you have any idea how much I’ve missed you? Movie night just isn’t the same anymore.”

“I know your life is just so empty and meaningless without me. I’m integral to your existence as a functioning human being.”

“Oh my God you haven’t changed at all.” She huffed and shook her head.

“It’s great isn’t it?!” he threw his arms out wide. Then he remembered where they were when a semi truck blew by them blaring the horn. “Umm maybe we should continue this reunion when we aren’t in danger of being road kill.” He chucked a thumb after the receding big rig.

“Why not James? You mean to tell me you don’t want to be flattened like a pancake? Haven’t you heard it’s the in thing to do now? I have it scheduled for Thursday of next week right after I get my nails done.” She wiggled her fingers at him.

“You know you haven’t changed either. You would get along great with my business partner, snarky and sarcastic. Like two peas in a snarkastic pod. Oooh I so just made up a new word.” He raised his eyebrows surprised by his own genius.” Pass it along maybe it’ll catch on and get in the dictionary.”

Yep, that was the Jamie she remembered and she hoped he never changed. She on the other hand had. She had actually turned into an adult and it was even less fun than she thought it was going to be. College, a serious relationship, her mother’s plans for her to take over Enchantment, having to tell her mother she didn’t want to take over Enchantment, the damn tabloids. They had all pushed fun through a fifth story window and it went whistling to its death. But having him by her side again it was like no time had passed at all. She was surprised by how easily she slipped back into that sixteen year old girl after everything she had just been thinking about. That girl seemed so far away from who she was now and it felt more like fifty years had gone by not five. And if that’s what the last five years felt like she wasn’t looking forward to the next sixty or seventy but right now nothing outside of Haven Bay mattered.

“Hey do you have plans for tonight?” She blurted out.

“I’m free as a bird as far as I know, why? Do you want to have movie night and watch me cry like a chick when Richard Gere climbs up the fire escape to get Julia Roberts?” he raised his eyebrows at her.

“No” she laughed “Maybe next time. I was thinking dinner with me and Kendall at her house. I think that would make the first night of my visit absolutely perfect.”

He looked into those big brown eyes and knew that no matter how much time passed he could never say no. She had him wrapped around every finger on her perfectly manicured hands they both knew it and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Bianca had been his best friend and he knew he wouldn’t have made it through high school without her. They had each others backs and when you messed with one you messed with the other. Nobody would ever suspect that this sweet, innocent looking girl was capable of ripping you a new one if you got on her Kane side. He had seen it a few times and he vowed to himself to never be on the receiving end of that. He was no match when compared to her in Erica mode. Actually he didn’t think Erica held a candle to Bianca when it came to bitch slapping someone. He had seen that too and had been impressed, frightened and nearly in hysterics all at the same time. Only Bianca Montgomery could make you feel so many conflicting emotions in just fifteen seconds.

He walked around to the control panel on the truck and she followed behind him watching him manipulate the controls. This was insane. Jamie lived in Haven Bay. Of all the places Kendall could have moved to she picked the place where Jamie just happened to be. Maybe the universe wasn’t really against her, maybe in its own fumbling way it was trying to tell her something because there was no way this was just chance. Maybe it had been trying and the only way it could get her to listen was to have her relationship fail in spectacular fashion. The flatbed slowly rolled out with a mechanical whine and she smiled at him. Everything happens for a reason right? She thought as he started talking again.

“Tell me when and where and I’ll be there with bells on. ‘Cause you know if there’s one thing I don’t turn down it’s free food.”

“Oh trust me I remember your sixteenth birthday, that all you can eat buffet surprise party was the worst idea ever. Everybody got a surprise that night and they all wanted to give it back.”

“Please don’t ever mention that again.” He held back a gag “I’ve tried very hard to block that from my memory. I can still taste the chicken salad and enchiladas as they came back up.”

“Oh that’s so gross.” She shuttered.

“You think it’s gross to think about you should try the experience for yourself. Everything is going along fine then suddenly your food slams into reverse and exits through your nose. I haven’t eaten either one since that night. So pleeeeease don’t put that on the menu for tonight.”

“Consider them nixed I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat them again either now. How about pizza, extra pepperoni and sausage?”

“A girl after my own heart.” He put both hands on his chest over his heart.

“Hey Jamie?”

“Yeah?”

“You know you’re still my best friend even if I haven’t heard from you in nearly three years.” She held up three fingers to drive home her point.

“I know. I’m terrible. I promise to never let it happen again. Scouts honor.” He said as he got down on the ground and hooked the cable to her car.

“Just so you know if you run I have connections I can hunt you down.”

“I hate to be the one to have to tell you this” he said from under the car “but you aren’t scary enough to pull that off try again but this time with more feeling.”

“I’ll have you know I can be plenty scary when the occasion calls for it. I am the daughter of Erica Kane.” She shrugged.

“Right, you just keep telling yourself that.” He laughed at her when she stuck her tongue at him “yep, terrifying.” He laughed harder. “Come on lets amscray.” He stood and dusted himself off “I’ll show you the shop and you can meet Maggie.”

With the car secured they climbed into the truck and as she slid into the seat she caught sight of the bobble head Batman affixed to the dashboard. She reached over and flicked its head and smirked at Jamie.

“I thought you were a die hard Superman fan.”

“I am Maggie put that there and she used super glue now I can’t get the stupid thing off and it taunts me every time I hit a bump.” He glared at it and it just kept bobbling happily.

“Well I think she’s a genius who has great taste in superheroes.” She watched it nod as if in agreement and her heart started thumping heavily. And for just a second it felt like the world was spinning off its axis. It was unexpected and a little off putting but it wasn’t a bad feeling. Her entire body felt like it was buzzing with anticipation. Maybe she really should call her therapist and see if she was having a mental meltdown.

“So how long are you here for?” He asked as he pulled onto the road bringing her attention back to him.

“Well the plan is for two weeks but that’s not set in stone. I might decide to stay longer.” She paused and debated whether or not to say what she was thinking. It was Jamie so she had a fifty fifty shot at either being understood or being laughed out of the truck. She shrugged and continued. “There’s something about this place but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It feels like there’s something here calling to me.” she looked at him waiting for his reaction.

“I hear that.” He nodded his head “Don’t laugh but the first time I got into town it felt like it was magical or something.”

“Hey I’m not laughing.” She shook her head “I thought you were gonna laugh at me.”

“Do me a favor and don’t ever tell anyone I said that. I’ll deny it and call you a liar to your face. I have a rep to uphold and if anyone found out I’d be the laughing stock of the Haven Bay car club. Those dudes don’t do ‘magical’.” He took his hands off the wheel to make air quotes.

“Your secret is safe with me. I’ll take it to the grave…unless you rat one of my secrets then all bets are off and it’s every man for himself.”

“Fair enough, I accept your terms.” He stuck his hand out to the side and she reached over to shake it.

They rode in silence for a few minutes until Bianca couldn’t resist the urge to reach over and turn the radio on.

“What, you aren’t impressed by my amazing conversational abilities?” he laughed as she searched for the station.

“Actually I was listening to something on the way here and I kinda got hooked on it.” She stopped when she found what she was looking for.

“Frankie’s show. I didn’t know you were into the oldies I thought you were more of a Spice Girls fan. Ugh you had such terrible taste I’m glad to know you’ve evolved since then.”

“Excuse me but I’m almost positive I wasn’t the only one dancing around your room singing Wannabe wearing bedazzled sunglasses and swinging a bright green feather boa. Be nice James, I know things, bad, bad things.”

“Okay I’m adding that to the list of things you are never to tell anyone.”

“You know you were the best girl-friend that a girl could ever ask for.” She broke into hysterical laughter at the horrified look on his face.

“Ya know, I’m really fighting the urge to turn this truck around and take you back to Pine Valley. I think having you here is going to really hurt my respectability as a business man. I mean who’s going to take me seriously if they find out I played dress up with you and I was the one in the dress?”

“Oh my God I had forgotten about that! You looked so pretty in that pink halter neck, but the pale blue strapless dress was so you. You have the perfect shoulders to pull that off.” She wiggled her shoulders at him.

“Shoot me now and put me out of my misery.” He slumped.

He groaned realizing he was way outmatched by her. She had more dirt on him than he could ever hope to have on her and he wanted to introduce her to Maggie? Having here there was clearly affecting his judgment. He was going to end up paying for this. Those two getting together would only result in his demise via flaming fireball of doom. A bedazzled flaming fireball of doom he corrected himself.

“Don’t worry Jamie I only planned to use those pictures in case I ever needed to blackmail you.” She gave him her best evil laugh and stroked the invisible cat in her arms.

“I have only myself to blame for this. This is what I get for embracing my feminine side” He said dejectedly “I have an idea let’s change the subject before I accidentally remind you of any of the other embarrassing things I did. How about sports?”

She stared at him.

“No? Okay nice weather we’re having don’t you think?”

She blinked and raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.

“Come on give me something to work with here.” He whined.

She cocked her head to the side. This was more fun than should be legal.

“You know you’re kinda creepy when you do that. Stop it.”

She widened her eyes as she slowly inched towards him.

“Fine, I didn’t want to do this but you give me no choice. I’ve got a few words that might remind you I know some things you don’t want getting out. Spring break, Cancun, party barge, margaritas, Ashley Michaels.”

“Don’t you dare!” she turned beet red instantly “that was so embarrassing. I stayed home from school for a week after that.”

“That’s right and you should remember that I was there and know all gory details the next time you feel yourself starting to get too big for your britches.” He sat back in his seat with a smug look on his face.

“So…the golden oldies show it’s pretty good don’t you think? That Frankie Stone is a trip.” She said as she casually reached over to turn the volume knob up. “She reminds me so much of you it’s scary.”

That was not a moment in time she was keen to relive. Just the memory was enough to make her want to lock herself in her apartment for a week with five gallons of ice cream. She had been mortified and it hadn’t helped any knowing that it had been immortalized on cell phones and video cameras. That was one of the few times she had been glad to have Erica Kane as her mother. She threatened to sue every single person who even thought about selling it. And Erica Kane did not make idle threats.

“Oh yeah, a real trip.” He said letting her off the hook for now. “You know she’s locked herself in the trunk of her car. Twice. With the keys.”

“You’re joking? How did she manage to do that?”

“She’s never said. All we could get out of her was that it was for research purposes.”

“You know her? Is that story about the ninja squirrel really true?”

“Oh yeah. She had a bald spot where it yanked out her hair; I’m talking a good chunk too.” He laughed “We hang out all the time, well not as much as we use to. Some things have changed and we don’t go out as much.”

She noticed Jamie’s mood change instantly. She had seen it enough when they were in school and she knew it wasn’t something trivial that would just pass over. Jamie had never been serious about anything in his life unless it was life and death. She wanted to ask him about it but didn’t want him to think that she was being nosey. Maybe later after they had spent some time catching up but right now she thought it was too soon to get too deep. Besides whatever it was it wasn’t any of her business so she moved on to a subject that would be less riddled with landmines.

“I have a question.” She said

“Shoot.”

“JAM Auto? Were you hungry when you named the business?” she tapped the door with a knuckle to indicate the logo on the outside and smirked at him.

“No” he laughed “The J stands for Jamie the A is for And, the M is for Maggie. It was a no brainer and it’s easy to remember. Plus it sounds cool, well at least to me and Maggie. We were thinking it’s like, when you jam to music or have to get out of a hairy situation fast, ya know ‘let’s jam’ or when you jam on the gas. We weren’t thinking about the fruit spread.”

“Leave it to you to unintentionally name a serious business after food. So…” she moved along “you and your partner, strictly business or personal?”

“Wow you sure don’t waste any time.” He chuckled quietly.

“Hey I have a lot of catching up to do, think of this like it’s one of the many cram sessions we had in school. Now spill….” She crooked a finger in his direction and gave him the out with it wiggle.

“It’s strictly business but we’re really good friends. She’s kind of like….” He thought for second “she’s kind of like my new you.”

“Ouch, right in the heart.” She pretended to stab herself “Nice to know I’m easily replaced.” It did kind of hurt but she would never tell him that and make him feel bad. He had every right to move on with his life with or without her. She was probably just slightly jealous because she had tried to do the same thing and it didn’t work out as well for her as it seems to have for him.

“Oh stop with the theatrics you know what I mean” He swatted at her “she’s just like you only blonder and a lot shorter. You’re gonna like her, if you don’t I’ll eat my boots.” He pointed at his feet.

This couldn’t be better timing. He was already trying to figure out how to get them together without it looking like he had planned it. Both of them could see right through him so he might have to enlist help and Frankie would know how to make it look spontaneous. If Maggie was going to open up Bianca would be the best person for her to talk to. She had helped him to get through a lot of crap with his family and she never once pushed him or judged him. She was just there letting him talk and acting like a sounding board. She had a way of getting him to figure out the solution for himself without her telling him what to do. He still didn’t know how she did that, it was like some super power or magic. And the best thing was that he didn’t think she realized what she was doing. She was just being herself and in his eyes that made her more special than anyone else he knew. Maggie needed special. She needed Bianca special.

“Are you seeing anyone?” she broke into his thoughts.

“Nothing serious. I’m shopping around. How about you? Any sordid details you’d like to share with your bestest bud in the whole world?” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“First of all never gonna happen, not in this lifetime or the next. I will not be giving you any cheap thrills.” She glared at him pointedly “Second of all that’s a really long story and we can get into later. Right now I just want to forget everything for a while.” She would tell him all about it but later. After all between him and Kendall she had never been, well she had almost never been steered in the wrong direction by their advice.

“Can do boss lady.” He saluted her. “You’ve come to the right person and the right place for that. Haven Bay couldn’t be more different than Pine Valley, we’re a bay they’re a valley.” He grinned at her proudly “I bet you’re pretty astounded by my powers of observation aren’t you? It’s okay you can admit that you’re impressed.”

“I am impressed I didn’t know astounded and observation were printed on the sides of cereal boxes now. You must be eating some pretty high class stuff.”

“Damn I didn’t think it was possible but you may have just out snarked Maggie. The queen has just been dethroned. This is a shocking turn of events. The queen is dead, long live the queen!” he pumped a fist into the air. “When we get out of the truck I’m bowing to you. Seriously.”

It wasn’t long before Jamie was navigating them through the streets of Haven Bay and the anticipation of what lay ahead was eating away at him. With every red light and stop sign they passed they drew closer to JAM Auto and to Maggie.

Chapter Text

“So this is town.” He said as they drove down Main Street “What do you think?” He pulled the handle for the horn and sent a group of kids whooping and hollering down the sidewalk with glee.

“I think it’s beautiful.” She breathed as she watched a man in a nicely tailored suit tip his wide brimmed hat as he held open a door for a woman and her children. She smiled at the gesture and thought that this place didn’t exist in the same world as Pine Valley it seemed to move at its own pace unaware of the reality beyond its borders.

The truck rumbled to a stop at a red light outside of a brick two story building painted in a color she could only describe as holy crap that’s yellow and she thought that whoever had painted it must have been in an exceptionally cheery mood. And it appeared the happy fairy didn’t confine itself to just that block, both sides of the street were lined with that same cheeriness for as far as she could see and every building was adorned with a pretty striped awning to match. The people themselves reflected that brightness, smiling and shouting greetings to each other as they waved. Haven Bay would have been an ideal setting for a Norman Rockwell painting with its wholesome atmosphere and well dressed shoppers. Its sweetness was actually starting to make her a bit uneasy and she was sure she would be picked out as an outsider immediately. Much like that transgendered rock star with the ridiculous name that had descended on Pine Valley like a bad rash. She pushed aside the thought of Barf with a shudder and tried to refocus her thoughts, which really wasn’t that hard. The town that Kendall and Jamie called home now made it almost too easy to forget about the outside world. She was amazed that a place like this still existed in a society ruled by a newer is always better way of thinking. Places like Haven Bay had gone the way of the dinosaur, they were extinct and replaced by the buzz of people hurrying along with cell phones permanently attached to their ears. Jamie blowing the horn again brought her out of her musings with a start.

“Man what a car.” his eyes followed the slow cruising car as it passed under the light with its chrome bumpers glinting in the sunlight.

“That thing was ancient.” She stared at him.

“That thing was a classic Bianca. The fifty seven Pontiac Star Chief is one of the coolest wagons ever made and Maggie helped put it back on the road where it belongs.”

Bianca now noticed that most of the cars that surrounded them were of the ancient variety “Did we go through a time warp or something when we passed the town line?”

“No” he chuckled “it’s just a thing around here. We have a huge car blub and a lot people here are kinda big on the whole fifties thing. It’s kind cool actually don’t worry you’ll get use to it.”

“Well at least I won’t have to parallel park.” She pointed at the array of cars parked along the street.

“Thank God for that because you really sucked at it. I still don’t know how you ever passed drivers ed.” He shook his head in disbelief.

“Bribery.”

His head swiveled so fast she thought it was going to make a complete revolution and pop off. People had a bad habit of underestimating what she was capable of. And what she was willing to do in order to get something she really wanted. If only she could do that with love she thought with a sigh.

“You did what now?!” he pulled away when the light changed.

“I bribed the teacher. No big.” She shrugged as if it was something she did all the time.

“I don’t believe you. You of all people wouldn’t do something like that. Why didn’t you tell me?! I’m your bestest pal in the whole wide world!”

“A girl’s gotta have some secrets.” She inspected her nails.

“What the hell Montgomery, spill, now!”

“Okay, okay geez bossy pants” she huffed good naturedly “Mr. Edwards wife was like, a super fan of mom and I overheard him one day saying that he would do anything if someone could get him an autographed copy of her book signed to her personally. So after I failed the first time I took it upon myself to make that happen. I didn’t even have to retake the test, he just signed my papers and I got myself a pretty new license.” She smiled proudly at herself.

“Oh my God I had no idea you were so…..”

“Industrious. Resourceful. Determined. Enterprising….” She ticked them off on her fingers.

“Devious” He held his hand up and high fived her “Go you! This is a proud moment for me.” He pretended to wipe away a tear.

“That’s just the tip of the ice berg.” She leaned back and winked at him.

“We are so gonna have us a nice long chat later.” He gestured between them.

She just smiled at him. He had been her best friend and confidante for the longest time but there were things she had never told even him. Mostly because she didn’t want to risk him slipping up and spilling the beans. She knew he would never say anything on purpose but sometimes he just didn’t think before words came out of his mouth and he had gotten himself in trouble because of it more than once. But it was different now, those things didn’t matter anymore and she felt it was safe to let him in on the few things she had kept to herself.

“You know this isn’t like any place I’ve ever been before.” Her eyes followed another group of kids with their chuck taylors slapping an out of sync rhythm against the concrete before making a sudden stop and bee lining through the door of The Soda Fountain. Neon signs blinked at her from windows and she chuckled when they drove by a shop called Shoe Me. She took in the scent of freshly baked bread wafting through her window from the bakery on the corner and she could hear music from outdoor speakers playing the golden oldies. She thought she could really get use to living here and understood now why Kendall had chosen this place to set up her business and why Jamie had never gone home. On the next block they pulled up to another red light outside of a flower shop and Bianca suddenly found a face in her window.

“Hey Jamie wanna buy some flowers for the pretty lady?” asked the shaggy haired boy who couldn’t have been any older than either of them. He held out a red rose with a smile.

“Hey Tim I didn’t know you were back.”

“Yeah just got home but I'm only here for a couple of days then I gotta head back. He looked at Bianca “Flower for the lady?”

“Thank you it’s beautiful.” She took it gently and held it to her nose smiling at yet another gesture that seemed so out of place with reality.

“Not as beautiful as you.” He winked.

“Dude you don’t have a chance you’re so not her type.” He threw a wink at Bianca when she snickered and glanced up “Hey lights green we gotta go.”

“Before you take off I wanted to ask…” he cast his eyes downward and fidgeted “how’s Maggie doing?”

Bianca saw a cloud wash across Jamie’s features much like the one she had seen earlier and she wondered what it was that could cause such a look of sadness.

“She’s okay…” he said quietly with a shrug “you should come by and say hi before you leave to go back to school.”

“I thought about it but…I wasn’t sure. Do you think she would be okay with that?”

“Yeah I’ll let her know you’re in town and give you a call if she’s up for it.”

“Okay cool I’ll check ya later.” He hopped from the running board and waved before grabbing another rose to hand to the red head coming across the street.

“He seems nice.” Bianca remarked still breathing in the scent of the rose.

“Yeah he’s a cool dude. Maggie dated him for a while but they decided that it was just too weird because they had known each other for so long.”

“Why was he worried then that Maggie might not want to see him, did it end badly?”

“No they’re still friends it’s…” he couldn’t think of a way to answer her without feeling like he was betraying Maggie in some way. “It’s kind of a private thing I’m sure you’ll hear things but only Maggie can tell you…” he left it that. He hoped Maggie told her but he wasn’t holding his breath on that one.

“Okay.” She was curious now but she wasn’t going to be like the people of Pine Valley and stick her nose into someone else’s business. She had been on the receiving end of that one too many times herself. But Tim’s words and Jamie’s vagueness caused the hair on the back of her neck to stand up. Whatever it was it was something bad and she could feel a knot settle in her stomach. “Can I ask you something?” She needed to change the subject to something less unsettling.

“Sure shoot.” He waited wondering if she was going to ask him something about Maggie. He couldn’t answer those questions for her only Maggie could do that.

“Why is there only one radio station? I tried to find something else but all I could get was Frankie’s station.”

He let go of the breath he had been holding “Frankie has some kind of freakishly powerful transmitter bolted to the roof of the radio station. I think if we hooked a body to it during a lightning storm we could bring the dead back to life. Unless you have satellite or internet radio you won’t catch anything else in town, it swallows everything else up.”

“Isn’t there some kind of law or something to prevent that?”

“If there is nobody's saying anything everybody loves Frankie and they wouldn’t do anything to get her in trouble. Everybody loves both of them.” He knew it was the truth but Maggie couldn’t see beyond Jonathan anymore.

Almost everyone loves them he thought as his fingers curled tightly around the wheel. That soulless bottle blonde bitch was the one exception. He had to try hard to keep the scowl from his face at the thought of that shitty excuse for a human being. One day she was going to get what was coming to her and he had a front row seat reserved for the event.

“Both of who?” Bianca’s brows dipped in confusion.

“Frankie and Maggie” he said pulling himself away from his daydream of Joni burning in the pits of hell “keep up Montgomery you’re supposed to be the smart one of the bunch.”

“You didn’t mention anything about Maggie and what does she have to do with Frankie?” There were times in the past when she had a hard time following along with Jamie’s scattered thoughts and it appeared that wasn’t likely to change, ever.

“Oh right I forgot you don’t know, they’re twins so you’ll eventually get to meet the trip that is Frankie Stone.”

“I’m not sure if I should be excited or slightly frightened by that.”

“I’d go with the second one. You thought me and Kendall could talk you into some crazy things you haven’t seen anything yet.”

“If those stories I heard on the radio are any indication I think it might be best to steer clear. The last thing I need right now is more public exposure.”

“Hey you don’t have to worry about that she wouldn’t say anything about you on the air.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about it’s more like having my picture taken in the middle of some crazy thing I was talked into.”

“I’ll make sure you don’t get talked into dancing around a bonfire naked then.” He laughed. “Maybe I can interest you in something a little tamer like a movie at the drive-in or a tour of the town. There’s this burger place where everyone hangs out and Jivin’ Johnny’s you’ll love that place.”

“Now that I think I can do. You and Kendall can show me around I want to see everything.” They had turned off of Main Street and she was now watching more industrial looking buildings slide by outside of her window.

“Great I can introduce you around you’ll love the people too. This is it.” He slowed the truck and pointed to his right at an old brown brick building. Both bay doors were open and he saw a flash of blonde hair move behind the parting wall between the doors. He squinted into the semi darkness but didn’t see her again. She must be cleaning again he thought with a shake of his head. She did that a lot lately every time he turned around she was cleaning something.

“Are you fixing all of these?” Her eyes roamed the left side of the large lot full of cars.

“Yeah but all of the ancient one’s as you call them belong to friends. That’s what we really wanna do build and restore the classics.” He pulled up to the curb and checked his mirror for traffic “Right now the shop pretty much just pays the bills so the rod shop is gonna be on hold for a while but someday it’ll happen.” He cranked the wheel and swung the truck out into the road and started backing into the lot careful not to hit the giant wall of tires.

“So you’re really not planning on ever going back are you?” The thought made her want to cry at least if she had Jamie Pine Valley would be bearable.

“Not if I can help it. Pine Valley has nothing on this place” he continued as he watched the mirror stopping just short of the big doors. He threw the truck in park and cut the engine “It has something special, you might decide you never wanna leave either. Personally I would be okay with that. It’ll be just like it used to be. Mothers lock up your daughters Martin and Montgomery are back on the prowl. You can lock ‘em up and lock ‘em in but in the end we always win. You can hide ‘em here and hide ‘em there but parents beware…” he held his hand out to her indicating that she was to finish.

“Oh my God why do you remember that?” she put her hand to her forehead “That was childish then and it’s even worse now. I will not participate in nor contribute to your immaturity.”

“You didn’t think it was immature at the time. You came up with it! Come on say it!”

“No” she shook her head “And you can’t make me.”

“I bet I can” he paused took a deep breath and started singing “Thiiiiiiiiiis iiiiiiiiiiiiis the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend, some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend, some people started singing it not knowing what it was…..” he bounced in his seat as he sang at the top of his lungs.

She practically threw herself from the truck and slammed the door in his face.

He threw his arms up in a ‘was it something I said’ gesture and followed her out of the truck. He ran around the front of the rig to cut off her escape and dropped to his knees with his hands clasped in front of him.

“Oh come on Bianca say it, please, please, please for old time’s sake? If you don’t I’ll keep singing.” He took another deep breath.

“Get off your knees before someone thinks you’re proposing.” She hissed while looking to see if anyone was watching.

Someone was watching.

*

*

*

Maggie hung up the phone after leaving Frankie a message to call her when she saw the truck pull up in front. She wasn’t angry with her but she wasn’t happy either. She knew her sister was only trying to help women who had been abused and she loved her for it but she didn’t want the town constantly reminded that she was one of them. She wiped her hands on her jeans and looked around at her handiwork. She had been cleaning since Jamie had left on the call, yet another habit she picked up while she was with Jonathan. He expected a spotless home and even the smallest speck of dust set him off. She shook the thought away and was just about to grab the bush broom when she heard the engine cut off. She was thankful he was back she couldn’t take anymore time alone, she needed him to distract her and chase away the memories and the voices in her head for a while. Now that he was here the rest could wait it wasn’t like he cared what the shop looked like anyway that was all her, or at least what Jonathan had drilled into her. She left the broom where it was and was just about to step outside when she saw the passenger door fly open. She watched with curiosity and a bit of amusement as a beautiful brunette practically launched herself out of the truck before the door was even open. She took two steps back into the shop but made sure she could still see them.

“James Martin strikes again.” She mumbled as she poked her head around the corner and stared at the odd scene in front of her. “Begging her not to call the cops? Nah. Begging her not to tell her very large very overprotective boyfriend what a perv he is. Yep, that’s it.” She peered over the rolling toolbox she found herself behind and watched.

********

“Bianca Montgomery will you make me the happiest man on the face of the planet and marry me!” he shouted at the top of his lungs throwing his arms out.

********

“What the hell?” she sputtered as she sprang up from her hiding place. Not that she had that far to spring.

She looked on in utter confusion as the brunette put her hands on her hips and hung her head. He’s gone for less than an hour, meets some random girl on the side of the road and now he’s proposing. She knew he could be a little nuts but this was like, insanity times a million. Poor girl, this was probably not on her list of things she was expecting to do today. Get gas, pick up milk, get marriage proposal while standing in an oil stained parking lot. Not likely. Of course from what she could see of her see she might very well get proposed to every hour of every day of the week. She touched the scar on her eyebrow self consciously. She was nothing like the tall gorgeous girl in the parking lot. Nobody would want her now and she was sure there wasn’t a single person who would touch her with a ten foot pole. In fact she saw a lot of people run in the other direction when they saw her coming and she didn’t blame them for that. It’s like she was contagious and nobody wanted to catch what she had or let her ruin their lives like she did her own.

She tried to push the thoughts away. She was actually grateful, other than Jamie scaring the crap out of her it had been a pretty quiet day so far. On her bad days the criticism, the put downs and the doubts were so bad that she could barely function. She tried not to listen to them but they were loud and unrelenting. Sometimes she couldn’t even decide what to wear because Jonathan had always told her that what she had on was too revealing or it was a horrible color on her. This made her look like Jabba the Hut and that made her look like a cracked out super model. She shook her head to clear it and forced herself to focus on what was happening in front of her pretending like she was in the middle of a nature documentary and she was the host.

“What will the statuesque beauty do? Will she say yes, or kick him in the face and run away screaming like her hair is on fire. Let’s watch and find out.” She whispered to her imaginary audience as she leaned forward. “Shh, she’s attempting to communicate let’s listen.” She heard the sound of a sweet albeit exasperated voice floating into her ears.

********

“Fine I’ll do it but just this once.” She sighed.

“Hold on. You’ll say it or you’ll marry me?” he squinted at her.

“James!” she huffed. “Do you want me to do this or not?”

“Okay, wait let me start again” he stood up and put his hands on his hips in his best superhero pose “You can lock ‘em up and lock ‘em in but in the end we always win. You can hide ‘em here and hide ‘em there but parents beware….” He raised his eyebrows at her.

And as much as she didn’t want to she just couldn’t help herself. She mirrored his pose and said her line.

“You can’t keep us apart because we are the cat burglars of the heart!” she hung her head again “You know I just realized what complete dorks we were.”

“Yeah but we were cool dorks.” He laughed and put an arm around her shoulder. He pulled her the short distance to the big doors and straight to where Maggie was currently hosting her nature show.

********

She felt a spike of panic as she watched Jamie and the smiling brunette move closer and closer to where she had been eavesdropping. Her eyes bounced around as her brain went in search of an escape route that would take her away from there. She back stepped rapidly and slammed into the big rolling tool box blocking her escape route. “Why the hell do we have so many of these things?” She hissed as she turned and skirted around it heading for the office across the open bay. She tried to keep her pace slow and easy but her legs were having trouble listening and they wanted to sprint for the exit that was so close but seemed so far away. She heard the brunette laugh behind her and took two giant steps placing her hand on the knob just as Jamie’s voice rang out.

“Yo Mags where’s the fire?” He called out before she could disappear through the door. “I want you to meet someone.”

Damn it she thought dropping her hand from the knob, she was so close just a few more seconds and she could have been on the other side of the door pretending to be on the phone with a customer. She took a deep breath and turned slowly trying to make her approach look casual and not like she was walking towards the hangman. Her heart was thudding heavily in her chest and she had to keep wiping her hands on her jeans trying to dry the seemingly unending rivers of sweat. She put a smile on her face or at least what she hoped was a smile and not something that could be mistaken for a grimace of pain because that’s what she was feeling. Her eyes flicked from Jamie to those of the brunette and she could feel them burrowing right into her. She was starting to feel exposed and pulled at her white tee shirt unconsciously trying to make it cover more of her body than it possibly could. The dark haired girl's eyes never wavered as she moved closer and the only thought flooding her mind was that someone had told her, she knows and she’s trying to figure out how a person could be so weak and stupid.

“Hey Maggie this is Bianca, Bianca this is Maggie.” He studied Maggie’s odd behavior trying to figure out what was going on in her head but without her telling him he had no idea. At least not anymore, she learned to hide herself from everyone, including him and trying to get her to open up was like beating his head against a brick wall, painful and useless.

“Hi it’s nice to meet you.” Bianca smiled and held out her hand noticing Maggie hesitate for just the briefest of moments before taking it.

Maggie took the proffered hand seeing the perfectly manicured nails and the slender wrist with what must surely be an expensive gold bracelet dangling from it. She was sure that she wasn’t fit to breath the same air as this girl but then she looked up to see that radiant smile directed at her and she felt, even if only slightly, more at ease. “Nice to meet you too.” She released her hand and had to look away from those eyes that seemed to penetrate into her very soul.

“Me and Bianca went to school together and we haven’t seen each other in like three years and BAM! Here she is how weird is that?”

“Yeah talk about a shock I almost went into heart failure when I saw you attached to my window like a sucker fish. You’re lucky you didn’t get pepper sprayed it would’ve served you right.”

“Oh please you would’ve sprayed me and then been oh my god I’m so sorry are you okay. You don’t fool me Montgomery you’re a big softy who couldn’t hurt a fly without feeling bad. I once saw you cry when you ran over a frog for crying out loud.”

“I felt like I had just run over Kermit it made me feel horrible sue me for thinking all life is precious.”

“Really, even the life of creepy crawly spiders?” he raised his brows daring her to say yes.

“Okay fine, maybe not spiders. What the hell do they need all of those legs and eyes for anyway it’s not natural.” She shuddered at the thought. “But I still don’t want to see them squished it’s not their fault they were born spiders.” She looked over at Maggie who had yet to utter a single word aside from her greeting. She could see something in the blonde’s eyes, they seemed haunted and she wondered if maybe it was her Frankie had been talking about earlier. She let her eyes scan the small girl and thought she was really quite beautiful with her blonde hair and dark eyes that were looking everywhere but at her. Had she done something or was this just how she was with everyone? Maybe she was feeling left out of the conversation, the proverbial third wheel and if nothing else she was a fixer of things. “So Maggie, Jamie tells me you two own this place?”

Maggie was lost in thought and hadn’t really expected to join the conversation so was shocked when the brunette directed the question at her. “Umm” she cleared her throat “yeah for about three years now.” She tried to get a read on Bianca but was finding it difficult to get through the fog that was her own brain. It had been a long time since she had said anything to anyone outside of a polite greeting and she was lost as to what else to say. What she really wanted to do was get out of there as fast as her short legs could carry her but then that would draw questions she didn’t want to answer so she just stood there awkwardly playing with the rag that she hadn’t even noticed was in her hands.

Jamie could feel Maggie’s apprehension rolling off of her and felt bad for putting her into this situation but he had been so excited about introducing them. He should’ve called and warned her first and now he felt like he needed to rescue her but he wasn’t sure how. He looked at Bianca whose brows were furrowed and he wished he could see inside her head, he wished he could see into both of their heads and find some kind of common ground between them but he was coming up empty on all fronts.

“You know” Bianca said trying to catch Maggie’s downturned eyes “I just wanted to tell you that super gluing Batman to the dashboard was genius. You have no idea how many arguments we’ve had over who was better Batman or Superman.”

Maggie’s fidgeting stopped and she looked up with a small smile “I’ve been trying to turn him but he refuses to see reason. Batman is so much better because he’s just a plain old human being with no powers.”

“Exactly!” Bianca exclaimed thrilled to find something that would engage the shorter girl “He’s just like the rest of. Superman’s perfection gets on my nerves and I for one don’t relate to perfection.”

Jamie quirked an eyebrow as he waited to see if Maggie would jump in on one of her favorite subjects.

“I never understood the appeal” Maggie said stuffing the rag into her back pocket “how can you root for someone who you know is going to win every single time? It’s no fun to read page after page of someone overcoming every single obstacle in their way without breaking a sweat that isn’t how it works.” She wiped her hands on her jeans again.

“That’s why Batman is the better of the two he has to fight for every win and you never know if he’s going to make it or not. He’s just as flawed as the rest of us and that’s why I’ll always find him more fascinating he had layers, Superman has no layers, he’s just so….”

“One dimensional” Maggie finished for her “he lives in a world of black and white and Batman lives in the gray areas.”

“Do you see what I’m saying?” Bianca turned to Jamie “She totally gets it and you’re totally clueless. Ugh I’ll never understand you Superman fans.”

“Yeah well I’ll never understand you Batman fans” he shook his head “I’ve always thought there was something so deeply disturbing about you people. How can you prefer Gotham over Metropolis? Hmm dark and dirty or bright and clean?” he put his hands out palm up weighing the options “Seems like a no brainer to me I’ll take Metropolis every time.”

“Well then you’re missing out on what makes life…life.” Bianca glanced at Maggie and thought she would probably agree “It’s not all glitz and glamour and filled with shiny goodness, it can be dark and painful. And I’m not speaking for anyone but myself here but I’ll take Gotham every time because it’s all about rooting for the underdog. It’s about people overcoming their surroundings and situations, it’s about digging themselves out of something they don’t think they’ll ever get beyond and finding strength in themselves that they never knew existed.”

“Wow” Jamie breathed in shock “I thought we were just talking about a comic book I didn’t know you had put that much thought into it.”

Bianca was shocked by the revelation herself “I didn’t either until just now.” She looked at Maggie who wore a similar expression as Jamie “I swear I don’t sit around and analyze comics for deeper meaning all day long.”

Maggie flashed her a crooked grin and she thought she had never met anyone quite as interesting as Bianca. She had this air about her, it screamed prim and proper and high brow yet here they were discussing the finer points of Batman like it was some literary novel. She had to admit that she found the combination intriguing and the girl had a way of putting her at ease like no one else just by simply speaking and she was rather in awe of that ability. Hadn’t she been like that at one time? She really couldn’t remember anymore. “I believe you and personally I’ll take Gotham over Metropolis because perfection does not exist.” She reached up rubbing the scar and that darkness in life Bianca had just been talking about came crashing back in on her. She had tried so hard to be perfect, to do and say the right thing in hopes that this time she would meet his expectations and he wouldn’t get angry with her. But every time she fell immeasurably short and he had no trouble showing his disappointment in her inability to grasp the concept.

“Exactly how many times am I going to have to tell you before you get it right? Sometimes I feel like you just aren’t listening to me. Do you listen to me Maggie?” He turned from his spot in front of the closet “Dress shirts on the left pants on the right, shoes point toe in. Do these look like they’re toe in?”

She shook her head not meeting his eyes “No.” she whispered meekly. She had forgotten again and she would make it a point to remember next time even if she had to tattoo it on her body.

“No. Clearly you see that and yet you continue to put them in wrong, why is that?”

“I’m sorry I’ll fix it, I won’t do it again I promise.” She quickly moved to the closet and knelt down rearranging the shoes toe in and according to type. Dress shoes on the left, sneakers in the middle and boots on the right. She repeated it over and over in her head until she felt his breath on her neck and froze clutching one of the shoes to her chest.

“How many times now have you promised something only to turn around and break it? I think you should really think about the things you say from now on.”

“I will I …” She was going to say I promise “I won’t say anything unless I mean it from now on.”

“Good now why don’t you get up and start making dinner and we can sit down and eat like a civilized couple.”

She put the shoe down where it belonged and stood on shaky legs “Okay.” She took a step towards the door and felt his hand on her back and she knew this wasn’t over yet.

“You know what I think? I think that you won’t remember and maybe you need something that will help to remind you.”

The last thing she remembered was the wall rushing at her at what seemed an impossible speed and then an all consuming blackness.

“Hey Mags you okay?” Jamie stood in front of her staring into her blank eyes. She was looking right at him and she didn’t see him “Maggie.” He whispered looking over his shoulder at Bianca standing there with her arms wrapped around herself unsure of what was going on. They had just been talking and without warning Maggie had gone completely silent. He gave Bianca a small apologetic smile and turned back to Maggie. “Hey Mags can you hear me?” he snapped his fingers in front of her face.

Maggie blinked when she heard a faint sound and tried to focus on its source. She could see eyes and her arms shot out to push the body in front of her away but the grip on her shoulders tightened and she stumbled as her feet tried to carry her away. She could hear a voice calling to her but it sounded like it was at the other end of a long wind filled tunnel and it wasn’t until she saw the face of a frightened looking brunette that she remembered where she was and who the body and voice belonged to. “Jamie?” she moved her eyes from Bianca to him and stopped struggling.

“Maggie are you okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine.” She pulled free feeling hot tears sting her eyes “I…” she choked and watched as Bianca took a tentative step towards her. Those eyes…they could see her and she didn’t want to be seen.

“Don’t do that you aren’t fine, Maggie talk to me what’s wrong.” He whispered trying to keep this moment as private as he could with Bianca standing there.

“I can’t be here I have to go.” She shook her head causing the tears to streak down and started backing up quickly sending a cart full of tools clanging to the concrete. She jumped at the loud unexpected noise her heart ram rodding into her throat and without looking back she ran for the office slamming all of her weight into the door and closing it with a loud bang.

Jamie heard the rear door to the office close with a similar bang and knew she was headed for her car parked in the back lot. His shoulders slumped as he turned to face an utterly bewildered Bianca. “I’m really sorry. It’s my fault I should’ve called her first…”

“Jamie…” she was cut off by the sound of squealing tires followed by a blur of red streaking through the lot. It appeared out of nowhere carrying a little blonde and just as quickly as it had come it was gone. She looked at him, really looked at him and she could see it “Frankie was talking about her wasn’t she?” she looked out to where Maggie had disappeared and for the first time in months her failed relationship was the very last thing on her mind.

Jamie scrubbed roughly at his face and ran them through his hair staring at the same spot as Bianca “Yeah” he said quietly before turning to look at her. He needed her just as much as he was sure Maggie did.

“I’m so sorry Jamie.” She put her arms around him and felt him lay his head on hers. “If there’s anything I can do…”

“Just be her friend.” He hoped that maybe Bianca could work some of her magic and bring Maggie back from the darkness.

“I can try.” She closed her eyes and felt tears slide down her cheeks. She couldn’t begin to imagine what Maggie had been through but she knew one thing, she would do whatever she could to help. In fact she was sure she would do anything the tiny girl asked her to because in just those few minutes and despite the sudden turn of events she had felt something stir inside of her that she had never felt before. Whatever it was was floating just out of her reach and she was sure that if she tried to grab it it would turn to smoke and slip through her fingers. It was there but not there, it was something…intangible.

Chapter Text

Jamie held the phone to his ear listening to it ring. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, on the fifteenth ring she picked up “Frankie…it’s Maggie.” He closed his eyes with a sigh.

“I’ve got it don’t worry.” She hung up grabbed her bag and called out to Mel that she needed someone to take over the rest of her shift. She didn’t wait for an answer she just bolted out of the booth through the front door and went to find her sister.

*

*

*

The memories had made her run and she was sure that right now Jamie’s friend thought she was the world’s biggest mental case. She had made a total fool of herself and knew there was no way she could go back and face her. She hoped she wasn’t planning on staying long. She closed her eyes and scrubbed her face roughly trying to banish the image of those big brown eyes staring at her. They had followed her to the empty parking lot of the drive-in theatre and refused to leave her alone. She threw herself across the bench seat of her Impala and glanced up at the dark clouds passing over. Just what she needed, rain. The top had decided just that morning that it didn’t feel like being cooperative along with the speedometer, the gas gauge and the carburetor. She was amazed that the stupid thing had even started when she made a run for it. She instantly regretted calling it stupid, it wasn’t stupid it was her most cherished possession.

“Sorry.” She whispered as she ran her hand along the cracked and faded dashboard thinking that it would have turned out to be a stunner had her dad lived long enough to restore it. They never even got the chance to start it before he was killed by a drunk driver. It looked exactly the same as it had ten years ago when he rescued it from a barn, faded red paint, black hood, one door was blue and the other white. Jonathan had hated the car and she knew deep down that was partly why she refused his demand. She pulled her hand back closing it into a fist and then extending her fingers watching the scar across her knuckles turn white then pink again. Hate was nowhere near strong enough…

“You’re selling that piece of shit. I don’t want it in front of my house my neighbors are going to think I’m dating trash.” He said as he pulled his gleaming new Lexus into the dark parking lot of the garage.

“Excuse me?” she looked at him dumfounded. What the hell was happening? Who did he think he was giving her orders? “It was my dad’s car and it’s not going anywhere. I’m going to finish it just like he wanted.”

“I don’t care if it’s the damn president’s car you’re getting rid of it, tomorrow. If you don’t sell it I’m taking it to the junk yard and I’m going to have them crush it.” He parked next to the Impala and stared at her.

“The hell you are.” She spit at him. “You don’t touch that car.” She opened the door, got out and slammed it.

“I’ll touch any god damn thing I please” he yelled getting out behind her “and you sure the F**k aren’t going to tell me what I can and can’t do.”

The vehemence in his voice stopped her dead. He had never spoken to her like that before and she had just enough time to wonder if he had multiple personalities before he was on top of her. “What the hell? Let go of me.” She tried to struggle free but his hand was clamped down around her wrist like a vice. “Jonathan you’re hurting me.”

He practically dragged her across the concrete and ripped the keys from her hand. “You sure you don’t want to do as you’re told?” he stuck the key in the trunk lock and opened it. “Because this is going to end one of two ways and one of them isn’t going to be very pleasant for you.”

“What are you doing?” she tried to pull away but he just tightened his hold on her. “Jonathan stop.” This was surreal and thought this must be a dream because there was just no way her Jonathan would be doing this.

“I’m not doing anything, you’re doing this to yourself.” He put her hand down on the outer edge of the trunk, reached up with his right arm and placed his hand on the trunk lid “Are you going to do as you’re told?”

“I’m not getting rid of it.” She knew she should have said yes but she couldn’t make herself do it no matter what the consequences were.

The next few seconds were a blur as he whipped his arm down and metal made contact with bone crushing her hand and sending a rush of pain flooding through her. She tried to stop the scream from escaping but she was powerless to fight it.

He put his weight down pinning her hand “Remember this the next time you get the urge to tell me no.” he released her and walked back to his car leaving her curled up on the concrete cradling her broken, bleeding hand and sobbing in the dark.

“Stop, please…” she whispered putting her hands over her ears trying to block out his voice “Please just stop.” She closed her eyes and sent silent tears streaking down her face.

She rolled over onto her side, curling into a tiny ball and wrapping her arms around herself in an attempt to ward off the past and cried quietly. The sound of tires crunching over the rocky parking lot eased the tears but only just and she pulled her shirt up to wipe them away. She didn’t bother looking to see who it was, she already knew. She glanced up to see a mirror image of herself staring down at her and rubbed the scar above her eye. They had been identical until he came along and now that tiny crease separated them forever.

“Hey pipsqueak.” Frankie said leaning her arms along the top of the door and staring down at her sister. “Come here often?” she flashed her the best Stone grin she could manage given the current state her sister was in.

“Hey runt.” Maggie replied continuing to swipe away the proof of her emotional meltdown. She hated crying in front of people, even her sister it made her feel even weaker than she already did.

“Mind if I join you for a while?”

Maggie shrugged and sat up to make room for her. She wasn’t in the mood to talk but she would never tell her sister no. Frankie pulled the door open and slid across the bench seat noting the exhausted look on Maggie’s face before she turned away.

“Jamie called you.” She said staring off across the lot. She couldn’t look at her sister she didn’t want to see the compassion in her eyes. She had done this to herself and she didn’t deserve it.

“Just like he always does.”

“He shouldn’t have bothered you at work I’m fine.” She mumbled wiping at the tears that continued to fall.

She let the obvious lie slide “He’s just worried about you, we both are. He loves you and he’s just doing what he thinks is best.”

“Well clearly he doesn’t know what’s worth loving and what isn’t because I’m not. I’m a waste of space and I can’t seem to do anything right anymore.”

“I wish you would stop doing that, I hate hearing you put yourself down you’re better than that. Don’t let him keep doing this to you.” She moved closer and placed her hand gently on Maggie’s shoulder and felt her flinch.

She inhaled sharply as her body reacted involuntarily to Frankie’s touch. She felt a surge of anger flood her body and shoved it away forcefully burying it back in its place deep within her. She attempted to keep her voice steady. “I don’t want to talk about him Frankie I told you that a million times already.” It wasn’t fair to take it out on her sister she had done nothing wrong.

“Well I wish you would, I wish you would yell and scream and throw something. Keeping it in isn’t helping.” That asshole had taken so much from her she thought sadly as she pulled her hand back and placed it in her lap.

“I can’t…I don’t want to I just want it all to go away.” She didn’t want to tell her that she was afraid that if she did she might never stop.

“It’s not going to Magpie not until you face it.” Her voice was soft but inside the rage was screaming like a tea kettle left on the stove for too long. If this were a cartoon steam would be coming out of her ears. “Damn it Maggie you can’t keep going like this.” It came out harsher than she intended.

“You don’t think I don’t know that?” her voice wavered and cracked “I don’t know how to fix this, how to fix me, if I did I would have done it a long time ago. Do you really think I like being like this?” She turned red rimmed eyes to her sister.

Frankie backed down “No I don’t and I don’t like seeing you like this. Let me help you, let us help you please….”

“That would mean talking about it…it’ll make it all real again and I can’t let it be real. I can’t go through that…I won’t….” she shook her head and turned back to the empty lot swallowing the sob in her throat. “I wish you would both just let it go and let me be.”

Frankie’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “I just feel like if you don’t I’ll lose you and I can’t….Maggie you’re all I have left...please...can’t you try?” She closed her eyes against the memory…

“Maggie? Are you home?” Frankie dropped her bag on the couch and went into the kitchen. “Magpie?” She peered out the small window over the sink into the empty backyard.

“Maggie?” She stepped back through the door into the living room. She walked a few steps down the hall and pushed the bathroom door open. The medicine cabinet was open and she was startled by her own reflection in the mirror. “Jesus.” She blinked and laughed at herself. “I should be used to that by now.” Her gaze fell to the tile floor and the room started to gray out. There was no air in her lungs and her brain was screaming at her.

It could mean anything she thought as she backed out quickly, she was jumping to conclusions. Her eyes stayed pinned to the contents of the medicine cabinet that lay scattered across the floor. She felt her back hit the wall with a soft thump just as her knees tried to buckle under her. She pushed her shaking hands flat against the wall hoping its solidness would keep her tethered to reality. She moved achingly slow as she turned her head to stare at her sister’s bedroom door. It was closed and her heart started a slow, heavy thud in her chest. This was not happening, it couldn’t be…her Maggie was strong and she wouldn’t…She nearly vomited as the image of her sister sprawled across the bed with blank, unseeing eyes invaded her mind and she wanted to run, anywhere but where she was.

She felt the smooth wall slide under her sweaty palms as her fingers tried to dig in, to keep her from seeing whatever lay behind the door. For all she knew Maggie wasn’t even in there she could be out with Jamie somewhere, yeah there was a better chance that she had been kidnapped by circus bears who needed a getaway driver. Her feet faltered and she stumbled as she inched closer, step by tiny step her mind grasping for a simple explanation. She had cut herself and needed a band-aid, she had a headache, maybe it wasn’t even Maggie, maybe Jamie had been in a bad mood and taken it out on the medicine cabinet. She tried to swallow but her throat had gone dry and her tongue felt like it had been super glued to the roof of her mouth. She paused as she reached Jamie’s door leaning against it trying to find the courage to move her feet, to take those two final steps. She felt a shiver run through her and stepped across the hall placing her hand on the cold metal knob. She turned it, closing her eyes as she pushed the door open with a click that sounded abnormally loud in the silence of the house. She just stood there, her heart beating out an erratic rhythm and she knew that if she opened her eyes she might very well die right there.

“Maggie?” she asked quietly unable to force herself to look. “Maggie…please answer me.” She didn’t get a response and her breathing came in sharp, painful, ragged gasps.

Chapter Text

“Frankie?” Came a small almost childlike voice.

She didn’t know whether to collapse where she stood or to grab a hold of her sister and demand to know what the hell was going on. “Maggie…are you okay?”

She watched her stand and turn, a bottle dropping from her hands, hitting the carpet and rolling silently.

“You didn’t…” her eyes bounced from the bottle to her sister’s swollen eyes.

She shook her head “No…I….I…” she covered her face with both hands and her tiny frame started to shake “I couldn’t….I wanted to but…I couldn’t. I’m such a coward.”

“Oh god no.” she took two giant steps and wrapped herself around her sister “You are anything but a coward, it takes more courage to keep going than it does to…to…” she couldn’t say it. “You’re strong Maggie, stronger than you think you are. You have to hold on, don’t ever give up, please just keep trying it’ll get better I promise…” She held on as they sank to the floor and she held a sobbing Maggie tightly in her arms rocking her and whispering I love you over and over.

She had yet to keep that promise she thought as she looked at Maggie and brushed away a stray tear. She couldn’t make this better, she just didn’t know how. She felt completely and utterly useless. She was failing her sister and she prayed to every god and deity she could think of to bring something good into Maggie’s life. The way she saw it the universe owed her at least that much.

Maggie turned her head to see Frankie staring blankly into the distance “Hey Frankenfurter?” She said dropping her eyes to stare at her fidgeting hands.

“Yeah Magpie?” She tried to blink away the memory but it was always there lurking in the back of her mind, especially at times like this.

“I did it again…” She breathed.

“Did what?” She furrowed her brows forcing herself to focus on the present and not the past.

“I made a fool of myself.”

“So that’s why you’re here. I seriously doubt that’s true I’m sure whatever you did wasn’t as bad as you think.” And it probably wasn’t but Maggie saw everything through Jonathan’s brainwashing now.

She just nodded.

“Okay well tell me what happened and I’ll let you know whether you did or not. We both know I’m the reigning gold medalist in that event.” She quirked an eyebrow and smiled.

She tried to smile back but it was just a twitch “I had the chance to feel normal and I blew it. I screwed it up just like I always do and I’m sure she’s telling Jamie right now to cut his losses and run.”

“We’re all human Maggie we’re allowed to make mistakes and screw up, nobody is perfect.”

“She is….I wish life had a reset button and I could just keep hitting it until I got it right. I really wish I could do it over again.”

“I seriously doubt that whoever she is, is perfect.”

“Her name is Bianca and you didn’t see her…she’s like this tall gorgeous girl with dark hair and dark eyes...next to her I look like road kill.” She picked at a loose thread on her grease stained jeans. She didn’t know what it was about the raven haired beauty…something she had seen in her eyes but what she didn’t know. “We were just talking” She lowered her eyes to her hands again “and then he was there and I was gone…I was just standing there looking like a freak show and she had this look on her face like…like...I don’t know” She shrugged. “I knocked over a cart full of tools and made this god awful noise and it scared me and…and I ran away. She must think I’m a total waste of space.”

“I’m sure she doesn’t think that.”

“Well she should. I’m worthless and nobody will ever want anything to do with me again. I’m broken and who wants something that’s broken…?”

She didn’t know what to do she had said the words over and over again but they just couldn’t get through the impenetrable fortress that Jonathan had built around her. “Why don’t we get out of here, go for a ride. We’ll get away for a while just you and me like we used to.”

“Why, so everyone can point and stare at me when I drive by? No thanks I’ll pass.”

“Please for me?” She turned a pout at her and just for good measure threw in the puppy dog eyes.

“Frankie…” she sighed. “Fine but just a short one I have to get back to work.” She could have told her no until she was blue in the face but her sister wasn’t the kind to give up easily. She was, but not Frankie. She cranked the ignition and it protested before finally sputtering to life. “Where to?”

“I don’t know” she shrugged “wherever the wind takes us.”

Maggie shook her head and shifted into drive.

*

*

*

“Kendall I’m so sorry.” Bianca breathed into the phone while looking at Jamie’s slumped form inside the shop.

“You better be I’ve been trying to call you. I thought you had been kidnapped by a pack of killer clowns from space. What was so important that you forgot to call back the best sister ever to exist?”

“Sorry” she repeated “But you’ll never guess in a million years who I ran into, Jamie.” She said excitedly before Kendall even had a chance to utter a single syllable.

“You’re kidding. The last time I saw him was just before he left for his world adventure what’s he doing in Haven Bay?”

“That tow truck you called for me? It’s his. I mean he owns the place and he was the one who came out to get me. How crazy is that? I haven’t seen or heard from him in forever and here he is!”

“When did he move to Haven Bay and why did I not know?”

“Like three years ago and apparently he had no idea you lived here either.”

“Well this is an interesting turn of events I believe he still owes me fifty bucks from a little bet we had. This doesn’t excuse you from the fact that you didn’t call you know. Oh god I sound like mom. Get over here quick and hit me in the head with something. Preferably something blunt I think there’s a baseball bat around here somewhere. Wait, I’m supposed to be picking you up. I’ll bring it with me and you can hit me when I get there.”

“Kendall you’re nuts, has anyone ever told you that?” she laughed at her sister.

“Actually more times than I can count but I’m a very lovable nut. Or so I’ve been told.”

“Well I agree. Now get over here so you can see Jamie…Oh, one more thing?”

“Leave the bat here?” she laughed.

“Well that goes without saying because I’m so not gonna hit you. But that’s not it, I kind of invited Jamie to have dinner with us tonight. Is that okay?”

“Yeah of course it’ll be nice to have all three of us in the same room together again. Maybe I’ll finally get the story about spring break out of him.”

“Not gonna happen, ever.” Kendall was nothing if not persistent.

“Well I have to at least try don’t I?”

“This is one secret he’s not giving up he’s been threatened enough times to know better. And there’s one more thing?”

“How many ‘one more things’ are there going to be?” she asked.

“Just one. His business partner, is it okay if I invite her too?” Bianca thought about Maggie’s hasty exit and wasn’t sure the little blonde would accept, or even if she would see her again to extend the invitation. But she had to try, there was just something about her.

“Is she cute?”

“Ugh, Kendall why is that the first thing that pops into your head?” She should have known she thought rubbing her temple.

“Because I’m me and you knew I was gonna ask. So is she?”

“Not that it makes any difference but yes she’s cute. Probably the most gorgeous…nevermind.” She said cutting herself off before she could finish the sentence. She didn’t even want to finish the thought and pushed it away. “So is that a yes then?”

“Gorgeous huh? Just how gorgeous?”

“Kendall…”

“Okay, okay I’m done…for now…maybe.” There was a pause “Yeah I’m done go ahead and invite her along the more the merrier I say.”

“Thanks Kendall I love you and I’ll see you in little bit.”

“Love you too baby sis.”

Bianca hung up the phone thinking about how to go about asking Maggie to join them. Maybe if she asked Jamie to ask her she would accept, she really wanted her to.

“So” Jamie said coming up behind her “penny for your thoughts.” He sat down on the rusty bench next to her.

“Hey. I was just thinking…about everything.” She waved a hand around her “How life has a way of turning out so much differently than you thought it would.” It wasn’t exactly a lie but she hadn’t figured out her approach just yet and needed more time.

“I know what you mean. Who knew it was possible for life to get even more complicated than it already was. Is that why you came to visit Kendall?”

“Yeah things kind of went…FUBAR…it’s a long story but the condensed version is that I broke up with my girlfriend and I needed to get away from anything having to do with love and Pine Valley.”

“Ouch, sorry Bianca. I didn’t mean to drag up anything painful.”

“It’s okay you didn’t know.” She leaned into him and put her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arm around her.

“Don’t hate me for saying this but I’m kinda glad because if you were blissfully happy you wouldn’t be here right now and I’m thrilled.”

“I don’t hate you. Everything happens for a reason good or bad right?” Frankie’s words seemed to have really struck something inside of her she thought.

“You sound like Frankie. She said the same thing on her show earlier.”

She smiled to herself. They were still in sync even after being apart for so long. “Do you believe what she said about waiting for something without even knowing you’re waiting for it?”

“Yeah actually. I kept putting off college because I didn’t feel like that was where I was supposed to be. I didn’t know why until this chance came up and it was like I just knew this is what I was meant to do.” He chucked a thumb backwards. “And when everything happened with Maggie that’s when I knew why I was meant to be here." His thoughts landed briefly on the events of that night before continuing "I think all the crap you’re going through right now was meant to bring you here too and at exactly this point in time. I think the universe has a plan and it takes us where we need to go when we need to be there. Oh great I’m starting to sound like Frankie this can’t be good.” He dropped his head back and stared at the gray clouds drifting over.

“Well I think you might be right. If it weren’t for my complete failure at a relationship and love I would still be in Pine Valley and I wouldn’t have found you.” She poked him in the ribs.

“I think you’re being too hard on yourself. It takes two people to make a relationship work if it’s all one sided it’s doomed to fail.”

“It was all one sided. I know she loved me but I couldn’t make myself feel anything for her.” she said quietly. “I tried so hard, I wanted to be in love so badly but I was miserable like all the time and to make it worse I didn’t even think about what I was doing to her. What if there’s something wrong with me Jamie, what if I’m broken? What if I just can’t love someone like that?”

“There’s no way that you of all people can’t love someone. You have the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met and if it didn’t work with her then there’s a reason for that. She wasn’t meant to be your forever. You can’t force yourself to love someone Bianca either you do or you don’t. It could be love at first sight or the kind of love that builds slowly, the kind that sneaks up on you and before you know it you can’t remember life before them or your life without them. Trust me you’ll know it when it happens either way.”

She let his words roll around inside her and hoped he was right. “James Martin you sure do know how to hit a girl right in the heart.” She snuggled into his shoulder. “I think all of those romance movies we watched rubbed off on you in the best way possible. Some girl is gonna owe me huge one day for that one.” She sighed “You see this is what I needed. When I can’t stand to hear any more about how great it is from you I can go to Kendall and she’ll tell me how horrible it is and that I’m better off without it to ruin my life.”

“Glad to know I can be of assistance. But do something for me; don’t ever give up on love. You deserve to have it more than most and whoever captures your heart is going to be the luckiest girl who ever lived in the history of history.”

“I’ll try.” She closed her eyes. “Hey Jamie can we talk about something else I think I’ve had my fill for now.”

He opened his mouth to say something but was cut off by Bianca’s ringing phone. She looked at the caller I.D. a little confused and answered it.

“Kendall?”

“Hey sis I know I’m supposed to be picking you up like right now but bitchy mcbitcherson decided to make a few changes to her completely planned wedding and you just might have to bail me out of jail before this visit is over because I’m seriously considering murder as a viable option to get away from her.” She huffed.

“Whoa, holy run on sentence Batman. Kendall breathe it's okay…. please don’t kill her remember you hate orange and they don't have hair products in prison.”

“That was a close one it's a good thing I have a level headed sister to remind me of these things, I would look like a poodle who stuck a fork in a light socket.”

“Anytime and it’s okay I’m sure Jamie can take me to your place.” She looked at him and he gave her two thumbs up with a big stupid smile. She just shook her head at him and laughed.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

“It’s fine Kendall he doesn’t mind and if even if he did mind he would still do it. I know things about him that he doesn’t want getting out.”

“Blackmail, color me impressed. In that case you have the address and there’s a spare key hidden in a very real looking fake dog crap key holder.”

“That’s just gross you couldn’t do the normal thing and get the fake rock?” she asked

“The fake rock can suck it nobody is gonna touch that thing. Hell, I know it’s fake and I don’t wanna touch it. It’s called thinking outside of the box Binks and I live outside of the box.”

“Do you have any idea how much I love you?” She sighed.

“As much as I love you. Tell your bestie I owe him one and I’m really looking forward to getting that fifty bucks he owes me. Hopefully I’ll see you in about an hour oh and feel free to poke around I don’t have anything to hide except maybe my out of control shoe obsession. Whatever you do don’t open the hall closet unless you want the headline in the paper to read ‘Girl Impaled in Tragic Stiletto Heel Avalanche’”

“Thanks Kendall I’ll make sure to steer clear. I love you.”

“Love you too see ya in a bit.”

Bianca ended the call and shook her head at her sister. She didn’t know what she would do without her or without Jamie for that matter.

“So what’s up?” he asked.

“Kendall is stuck at work for a while longer and she said to tell you she owes you one and she’s looking forward to seeing you.” She would let Kendall tell him about the fifty dollars.

“Sweet I’m owed one. For some reason I’m always the one who owes and it usually doesn’t end well for me. We can go whenever you want my boss doesn’t mind if I leave early he’s cool like that.”

“Oh shut up” she gave him a playful shove on the shoulder “ get your keys oh cool one and we can go check out Kendall’s place oh and stay clear of the hall closet it’s full of pointy things that can kill you.”

“Your sister didn’t turn into a knife wielding psycho did she?”

“No she’s a shoe hoarder.” She laughed when he groaned and rolled his eyes. “Come on Martin get a move on, hop to, chop chop, shoo.”

“Geez I had forgotten how bossy you are. You know this is why I always ended up in a dress whenever we were together.”

“No you ended up in a dress because you wanted to feel pretty now put some pep in your step.” She shooed him with her hands and when he went into the office she couldn’t help but think about what he said about not giving up on love. She was such a mess inside and she didn’t know what to think or feel anymore. It was like she was fighting herself, one side wanted to give up and say to hell with it and the other side just kept holding onto hope and to make it worse she didn’t know which side she wanted to win. What she really needed was to just forget everything and pretend that love didn’t even exist.

“Sorry I had to dig through that trash heap we call a desk to find them.” He spun the key ring around his finger “I’m surprised Maggie hasn’t gone all Mr. Clean on it yet….hey are you okay?” he came around and sat back down next to her.

“I’m fine. I was just thinking and I think I’ve had enough thinking for one day.”

“I think you should stop thinking then because all of your thinking is making me think and it’s making my head hurt.” He laughed at her. “Stay right here my truck is parked around back I can’t wait for you to see it you’re gonna love it.”

He jumped up and disappeared into the shop and the next thing Bianca heard was something that sounded a lot like a fire breathing dragon. When he pulled around it looked a lot like a fire breathing dragon too. He stopped in front of her and she had no words to describe exactly what she felt about it but she was pretty sure love wasn’t it.

“Well? What do you think its rad right?” he asked as he got out and went around to open the door for her. “I just finished it last week it took me over a year to get this thing on the road.”

“What is it exactly?” she was seriously doubting the safety of the thing sitting in front of her.

“Aww don’t listen to her Doris she doesn’t mean anything by it” he patted the truck “this is a classic Bianca. 1956 Ford all steel big block putting out close to five hundred horsepower. She hauls ass and looks good doing it.” He said proudly.

“Well there will be no hauling ass while I’m in it.” She arched a brow and pointed “I like the flames very classy.”

“I thought so” he smiled completely missing her sarcasm and opened the door for her “your chariot milady.” He bowed.

“So chivalrous” she curtsied “I taught you well.”

“Yeah yeah I know without you I would’ve turned out to be a giant heathen who spits, scratches in public and pees on the toilet seat. Get in the truck Ms. Manners so we can go raid your sister’s fridge.”

She had taught him well he thought as they drove out of the lot. Maggie loved that he never peed on the toilet seat and he would have to remember to tell her to thank Bianca for that. He would have to tell her all about Bianca, he knew that if she would just give it a chance they could be friends.

“Hey Jamie?” she said watching the pretty buildings slide by.

“Yo.”

“Maggie?”

“What about her?” he glanced at her.

“What’s she like?” She couldn’t stop thinking about the terrified look in the tiny girls eyes. She had never seen anything like it before and thought that if she ever got her hands on the man…she shook herself. More violence was not the answer.

“Well the answer to that depends.”

“On what?” she looked over at him.

“On whether you mean before Jonathan or after because they aren’t really the same person.” He said quietly.

“I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.” So that was his name she thought, now she knew who to curse into the pits of hell.

“What made you ask?” he glanced at her.

“I don’t know” she shrugged “After what happened earlier I’ve kinda been thinking about her.”

“Okay” he paused for a minute then continued “she’s quiet. She didn’t use to be, she was always the loudest person in the room. She was spontaneous and loved a good adventure, she even called herself Indiana Stone. She had the hat and leather jacket, I don’t know what happened to them I haven’t seen them in a really long time. She liked to dance-”

“What kind?” She cut him off.

“That place I mentioned earlier Jivin’ Johnny’s, it’s this fifties diner with a huge dance floor and every Saturday there’s this theme dance. Everybody gets dressed up and Frankie deejay’s. You should’ve seen her Bianca she could light up the whole place when she was out there. But I haven’t seen her dance in a really long time either.” He said sadly.

“I bet she’s a great dancer she looks like she could float on air. She stopped because of him?” she hadn’t meant to ask it just came out before she could stop it.

“Yeah. She stopped doing a lot of things because of him. I wish you could’ve known her before…” he hung both hands over the wheel and stared ahead. Maybe if he had tried harder to get her to tell him what was going on when she was still with Jonathan she wouldn’t have given up on everything she loved. Maybe she would still be dancing. “Hey Bianca, do you mind if we talk about something else?”

“I’m sorry it’s none of my business.” She turned to look at the kids running up the sidewalk screeching with glee. She sighed when she realized that she couldn’t remember any time in the recent past where she had felt carefree and she didn’t imagine Maggie did either.

“It’s okay. It’s just that Maggie is really private about all of this and it’s not my place.” He wanted to tell her all about Maggie, all about how crazy she was and how funny and loving she was. But he didn’t want Bianca comparing who she was to who she is. He didn’t want her to expect the old Maggie and be disappointed with the one she would get now. He wanted Bianca to see Maggie through her own eyes and not everybody else’s memories of her.

“I understand Jamie. You’ve never been into gossip or spilling other people’s personal business you’ve always been an incredible friend and Maggie is lucky to have you.”

“I knew you would get it because you’re…you. I’m lucky that I have you for a friend and I meant what I said earlier, whoever she is she’ll be one lucky girl.”

“I know you did and thank you but for right now I don’t really wanna talk about love. I’m not ready to even think about trying again until I get some things figured out up here.” She tapped her head.

“So what does your sister do here in Haven Bay?” he changed the subject as he watched the light ahead turn green.

“She’s a wedding plan….” Bianca stopped dead in the middle of her sentence.

As they passed under the light she spotted a big red convertible with the top down stopped at the light on her side. She saw two identical petite blondes sitting inside wave in unison as they rolled by. She jerked her head around to get a better look and slammed her head into the window that she hadn’t bothered to lower first. She sat there stunned for a second before she realized that it had gone very quiet. She looked over to see him laughing so hard he wasn’t making any sound.

“I was uh…just checking to make sure you have solid glass in this thing just in case we get into an accident or something. I think we’re pretty safe” she knocked on the window “You can’t be too careful about these things.”

He just laughed harder. And when she stuck her tongue at him she thought she was going to have to give him CPR.

“You don’t think they saw that do you?” she said rubbing her forehead where it made contact.

“There’s only one way to find out.” He laughed and took his phone out of his shirt pocket.

*

*

*

Maggie pulled the car up to the light drumming her fingers restlessly on the wheel while she waited impatiently for it to turn green. Her heart had started thudding heavily in her chest the second she left the relative safety of the drive-in and she thought maybe she was having a heart attack. If the top would be up it wouldn’t be so bad but she felt exposed and she hated it. She was realizing quickly that this was a huge mistake. Why had she let Frankie talk her into this? She looked to her left trying to think of a way out when she saw Jamie’s truck headed their way. Her heart dropped when a heart shaped face with dark soulful eyes flashed through her mind. She didn’t think she would ever forget them for as long as she lived.

“Hey it’s Jamie.” Frankie pointed out the obvious.

They watched as the truck rolled under the light and they waved. When they did they saw the brunette passenger whip her head around and practically knock herself out cold. They saw her head bounce back with a look of utter shock plastered to her face and Frankie fell over in a heap.

“Was….was that…” she tried to breathe through her hysterical laughter “Oh my god that was the greatest thing….I have ever seen!”

Maggie just stared wide eyed at the truck now headed away from them. That reaction wasn’t what she was expecting but she found it oddly comforting. What the hell was it about her? It was bugging her and deep down she knew there was an answer but it just wouldn’t dislodge itself. And why did she care so much what Bianca thought of her? She didn’t even know why she thought she would be thinking about her she wasn’t worth the brain power. She probably didn’t even register as a blip on her radar.

Frankie glanced at her and her laughter subsided, she knew that expression. She had seen it every time Maggie was so focused on something negative that she was blind to everything positive. What she wouldn’t give to know what was going on in her head right now. She had so many secrets and she felt like she didn’t really know her own sister anymore. If she had known what Jonathan was doing to her she would have killed him long before that night. Before she had gotten that phone call…before she had seen Maggie’s broken body. She was about to ask her if she was okay when her phone started ringing, interrupting her thoughts.

“Hey James how is your passengers head?” she put her phone on speaker keeping an eye on her silent sister. She hoped hearing their voices would pull her back from wherever she had gone.

“I can’t believe that just happened” he said copying Frankie’s action.

“I don’t think she can either you should’ve seen her face she was so surprised.” Frankie said fighting the laughter that wanted to erupt again.

“Oh god. I’m never gonna live this down am I.” Bianca said.

“You know it works better if you put the thing down first before trying to stick your head out of.” Jamie told her.

“Thank you captain obvious for pointing out the obvious. Do I have red mark on my forehead?” she pointed at her head

“Oooohhhh nice one.” He quickly pointed the phone at her and snapped a picture before she realized what he was doing. “Tell me when you get it.”

There was a burst of laughter on the other end.

“Gee you think they got it?” she shot at him.

“It’s such a cute picture isn’t it?” he asked “I think I’m gonna print that bad boy out and frame it.”

“Oh good that’s all I need is a permanent reminder of my stupidity.” She groaned.

Maggie looked at the phone and then at Frankie who was smiling. Maggie smiled back at her sister and it grew wider as she stared at the image on the phone. All the questions and doubts vanished from her mind.

“You know what she said after she rammed her head into the window? She was just checking to make sure the glass was solid, I think maybe I should get you a helmet.” He laughed her.

“Oh bite me Jamie.” Bianca said.

“Where and how hard.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.

“Oh that’s it pull this beast over and let me out I’ll walk to Kendall’s from here.”

“Hey if he tries anything he’ll wake up one morning with a reverse mohawk.” Maggie sat there with wide eyes and her mouth hanging open. She hadn’t planned to say anything, she was just going to listen but then words were coming out of her mouth without her permission. She closed her mouth with an audible snap and looked over at Frankie who was wearing a similar expression.

Bianca quickly snapped a picture of him and then snatched his phone to find the number to send it to.

“Hey what are you doing give that back.” He tried to grab for it but missed.

“Let me know when you get it.” She told them handing his phone back.

Frankie’s phone chimed and she opened the text to find a very frightened, worried looking Jamie staring at her.

“That face” Maggie shook her head “See he knows I’d do it. Don’t worry Bianca I got your back.” Again, words without permission. What was happening to her?

“Thank you Maggie at least someone is on my side” she looked at Jamie and scooted as far from his as she could get “Uh…Maggie…I think we might need to stick close to each other…from the look on his face he’s either plotting something or he’s constipated. I’m not sure which.”

“It’s hard to tell both of those faces look the same.” Did Bianca even remember what she had done back at the shop? She didn’t think it likely that she had forgotten so quickly but she was talking to her like it never happened.

“Hey I resemble that remark!”

“We know!” Bianca and Maggie said laughing at him.

Frankie sat quietly listening to them with a small smile on her face. She didn’t know what was happening or how but for the first time in a long time she could see her sister again. She could see a sliver of light coming through the darkness and she wondered if maybe Jamie’s friend had some kind of…magic.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe I did that.” Bianca shook her head as they pulled up in front of Kendall’s.

“Relax it wasn’t that bad.” He laughed.

“Tell that to my pride. I think it hurts worse than my head right now. This day needs to hurry up and end before I wind up in the hospital. Do you think we could do pizza tomorrow night? I need to decompress and maybe put some ice on my head.”

“Yeah sure no problem do you want me to stay until your sister gets home?”

“No that’s okay I’ll be fine and you should get back to the garage but before you go can you help me find her hidden key?”

“Sure thing what am I looking for?”

“Fake dog crap.” She laughed.

“Your sister is a bit of an oddball isn’t she?”

“Do you not remember Kendall?” She said picking up a stick and poking around in the grass.

“Good point. She never was quite right in the head that’s probably why I liked her so much.”

It wasn’t long before Jamie found, by trial and disgusting error, the key holder and she was letting herself in. She waved as he drove away and stepped inside hoping Kendall would be home sooner rather than later she really needed to talk to her before her head exploded. She sat heavily on the couch and wondered why it was she couldn’t seem to get a grip on herself. It really hadn’t been that bad and it wasn’t like she was the only one who had ever embarrassed herself. Maybe visiting Kendall hadn’t been a good idea after all. Less than a day and she was already exhausted, she wanted off of the emotional rollercoaster. She stretched out and closed her eyes and in no time she was asleep.

When she woke Kendall still wasn't home and the house was excruciatingly silent. Silence had not been a good friend to her and being in the middle of one of Kendall and Greenlee's headache inducing cat fights was preferable. She stood, groaning at herself for even having the thought and looked around the living room for something to distract her. She found it in the form of a stereo tucked into a cabinet and she wondered if Frankie had gone back to the station after getting a good laugh at her expense. She turned it on and sure enough there she was in the middle of one of her long rambling tangents she seemed so fond of.

“So there I was standing in the middle of the fountain with a pigeon on my head and a soggy ham sandwich in my hand. I’m telling you I don’t do these things on purpose they just happen to me. Anyway what was I talking about? Oh right I was wondering if any of you out there believe in magic and I don’t mean the kind where elephants disappear. I’m not even going to try to explain what I mean because there’s a little song that does it so much better than I ever could. If there are any listeners who would like to weigh in or have your own story about magic you’d like to share the lines are open. Meanwhile here are The Platters with Only You.”

Only you can make this world seem right

Only you can make the darkness bright

Only you and you alone

Can thrill me like you do

And fill my heart with love for only you

She started swaying while she went around the room looking at the photos Kendall deemed appropriate enough to hang.

Only you can make this change in me

For it’s true, you are my destiny

When you hold my hand

I understand the magic that you do

You’re my dream come true

My one and only you

“Seriously what is it with you and these songs?” She said staring at the radio “Love and hope and magic…why can’t someone point that in my direction?” She walked to the couch and flopped back down on it. “Why does everything have to be so complicated? Why can’t anything ever be easy?”

“You’re preachin’ to the choir sister.” Came a weary voice from the doorway.

“KENDALL!!” Bianca shrieked and jumped up from the couch to throw herself into her sister’s arms.

“Binks can’t breathe.” Kendall croaked.

“Oh sorry you aren’t the first person I’ve done that to today” she let go of her “I’m just so happy to see you. This feels like it’s been the longest day ever and it’s not even over yet.”

“I know exactly how you feel” she kicked off her heels dropped her bag and left them right in the middle of the floor “I need a drink…or twelve. Do you want anything, water, tea, wine, a beer maybe I can interest you in a nice horse tranquilizer?”

Despite her current mood she laughed “I think I’ll pass on that tranquilizer and you know I swore off alcohol so I’ll take tea.” She followed Kendall into the kitchen and sat at the island.

“Coming right up. So where’s Jamie?” she asked putting a glass in front of Bianca and pouring.

“I asked him if we could do dinner tomorrow night is that okay?”

“Yeah that’s fine.” She set the pitcher down and grabbed a beer from the fridge.

“Today was just so crazy and when you add it to everything else I need some peace and quiet for at least one night.” She spun the glass on the counter top.

“Well you came to the right place because unlike Pine Valley this place isn’t full of whackos, pretentious self involved drama queens, doctors with a God complex, drug lords, blackmailers, gypsies, tramps and thieves.”

“Okay now you’re throwing Cher songs into the mix?” She quirked a brow.

“Sorry I ran out of things.” She laughed.

Bianca got up and Kendall followed her to the couch. Kendall sat and watched her sister for a few minutes. She didn’t want to jump right in on why she was there, smothering her with concern was their mother’s thing. She would leave it up to Bianca to decide whether she wanted to talk or never mention it at all.

“Have you ever just wanted to run away from yourself?” Bianca broke the silence.

Decision made Kendall thought before answering her. “There have been a couple of times” she shrugged “but the thing about that is you always have to come back so there’s really no point. Talk to me Binks what’s going on up there?” she tapped Bianca’s head.

“It’s a giant mess are you sure you wanna get into this now?”

“I’m sure, I hate seeing you like this you’re overloaded. You’ve been trying to deal with all of this by yourself and it’s all turned into a giant tangled up ball of crazy and if there’s anything I can do to help then I want to.”

“How do I untangle it because I don’t even know where to start. I’m not sure I even want to try I just want it all to go away.” She put her glass on the coffee table and sat back.

“Well there’s good news and bad news, the bad news is that it’s not going to just go away the good news is that your big sister is pretty good with this stuff. So tell me what happened to make you feel like you’ve come unglued from yourself.”

“I happened. I was just prolonging my own misery because I couldn’t give up and I never once thought about how it would affect Lena.”

“That doesn’t sound like you you’re one of the most considerate and selfless people I’ve ever known.”

“Well I was selfish this time and it bit me big time. Maybe if I had ended things sooner I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

“And where are you?”

“Lost…confused…” She closed her eyes and blew out a breath.

“Confused about what?”

“Where I’m supposed to go from here. I go back to school get a job then what, spend my life alone and turn into the scary lady with all the cats? I didn’t love Lena I wanted to but I couldn’t make myself no matter how hard I tried and now I’m just going in circles trying to figure out why this happened.”

“You shouldn’t have to force yourself to love someone Binks it should just be there.”

“That’s what Jamie said.”

“He always was a smart guy. What else did he say?”

“That when it happens I’ll know it but how do I know what it feels like if I’ve never felt it? Why does this have to be so complicated?”

“It’s really not you’re just over thinking it. You know what love feels like, you’ve loved and been loved your whole life. The only difference between that and what you’re looking for is the uncontrollable urge to rip someone’s clothes off and have your way with them.”

“That’s not love Kendall that’s lust.” She rolled her eyes at her sister.

“Eh you say tomato I say tohmahto. Besides lust is part of love if there’s no lust at least some of the time then what’s the point? You might as well not exist from the waist down.”

“Oh my god Kendall…” she dropped her head into her hands.

“Sorry but it’s true. Without that what you get is friendship and I know that’s not what you’re after here. You want that I can’t live without you kind of love, the kind where you can’t keep your hands off of each other and the thought of not being with them makes you want to die. That kind of love that when they say they need you, you don’t run screaming for the hills you run to catch them before they fall.”

“She told me she needed me and that’s exactly what part of me wanted to do run for the hills. I actually looked up how much a flight to Timbuktu costs when she asked me to go to dinner with her boss and his wife. Then I realized how insane that was so I gave some serious consideration to finding a big patch of poison ivy and rolling around in it. But I didn’t, I went...and I stayed.” She closed her eyes and dropped her head back on the couch

"Why? There must have been something there..."

“Because she was the first one to show any interest in me, ever. I thought that if I let that go I wouldn’t get another chance so I held onto it as tight as I could even though I was unhappy. I figured unhappy with someone was better than unhappy alone. How pathetic does that make me?”

“You aren’t pathetic Bianca not by a long shot. What you are is human and you just want what every other person wants.” she smiled at her sister when she turned her head to look at her “A lot of people have done the same exact thing so you aren’t alone.”

“I think there’s something wrong with me.” Bianca said.

“What do you mean?” she turned and tucked her legs under her.

“What if I can’t love someone like that? What if I’m just not meant to? I’ve never felt that for anyone. I’ve had crushes and I’ve felt attraction but it’s never gone deeper and when I had the chance I couldn’t let myself go.”

“Binks just because you didn’t feel that for Lena doesn’t mean you can’t feel it for someone else. She just wasn’t the right one.”

“Jamie said that Lena wasn’t my forever. He told me not to give up on love, even Lena told me but I just don’t think I can put myself out there again just to have the same thing happen.”

“Jamie is even smarter than I gave him credit for...did I really just say that?" she glanced through the window to see if the sky was falling and when she was satisfied it wasn't going anywhere she picked up where she left off "you should listen to him.”

“But what if I can’t find someone? Lena was the only one to take a chance…”

“I know that can’t be true. I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who would give their left eyeball to go out with you.”

“Well if there are they sure as hell never said anything so I settled for the first one who did. I wanted so badly to have what everyone else had that I just ignored the fact that we didn’t have very much in common. She barely laughed Kendall. How can you go through life without laughing?”

“I know I couldn’t. If I tried I would go bat shit crazy.”

“I should’ve broken it off when she told me her favorite movie was a documentary on the economic collapse of some foreign country. But I didn’t I just kept trying to make it work, kept banging my head against a wall.”

“I know how much you want to be in love and I was rooting for you and Lena but I really think there’s a reason it didn’t work out. I know this is going to sound crazy coming from me but I think your heart knew that she wasn’t the right one. I think your heart is waiting for its other half and somewhere out there is someone who has it. You might not know it right away but it won’t take long for those two halves to recognize each other and they’ll say, oh there you are I’ve been waiting for you.”

“That does sound crazy coming from you. Who are you and what have you done with my cynical, no-nonsense sister?" She smiled and bumped her shoulder “I really hope you’re right though.”

“I know I am I’m always right. Haven’t you figured that out by now? There’s someone out there for you Binks and she’s waiting just like you are and I know this isn’t what you wanna hear right now but you just have to give it time and be patient.”

“You’re right that isn’t what I want to hear but it’s what I need to hear.”

“Come ‘ere.” Kendall opened her arms and Bianca scooted into them. “I love you baby sister.”

“I love you too Kendall.”

They stayed like that for a while neither of them saying anything but something else was on Bianca’s mind. Not something, someone and she needed to tell Kendall and see what she made of it. She just didn’t exactly know what it was she wanted to say.

“I met Jamie’s business partner today.” She guessed she would figure it out as she went.

“Is this the same one you said was gorgeous?” she sat up and smiled at her eagerly.

“Yes the same one but that’s irrelevant.”

“How is being hot irrelevant?” She couldn’t wrap her mind around that one.

“Because number one, she’s straight, number two I’m not letting myself go there…again…and number three” she didn’t know how to say it “have you heard the name Maggie Stone?”

Kendall furrowed her brows “Maggie Stone…is she related to the deejay? I haven’t lived here long enough to know who's who in Haven Bay.”

“She's Frankie's twin sister.” She recounted the events and what little she knew of Maggie's past and then slumped back on the couch. “Do you know anything about what happened to her?”

She nodded “Just bits and pieces I didn’t move here until long after but I have heard the gossip. It was pretty big news around here. I take it you found out from Jamie?”

“Sort of, it’s not exactly something you bring up in conversation and especially not with the one it happened to.”

“No you’re right. I really don’t know much but from what I’ve heard it was bad...he almost killed her. I think she was in the hospital for over a month. Some asshole passed around copies of the pictures they took for the police report and they’re still floating around. Unfortunately I’ve seen them and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that if I had to pick her out from a crowd based on those photos I couldn’t do it if my life depended on it.”

Kendall looked over at her sister who had silent tears running down her face. “Oh Bianca” she pulled her into her arms.

“What is wrong with me? I literally just met her but I feel like we were meant to meet for some reason…maybe I’m supposed to help her or something. I’ve never felt this before with anyone and...I can’t explain it but the thought of her not being here...it makes me want to curl up and cry for the rest of my life. And I want to hurt him Kendall, I mean like really hurt him for doing that to her.”

“Well then you should go with that feeling and get to know her.” She reached over and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and smiled. She couldn’t be certain but she had a gut feeling there was something more going on here. Sure Bianca has a huge heart she thought but she had never heard her talk this way about Lena at any point in their relationship.

“I’m not sure she’s looking to make new friends and I doubt she would come here if I invited her.” She laid her head on Kendall’s shoulder who reached over and handed her a tissue.

“I might be a little biased being your sister and all but I think she would be missing out on something amazing. I think she could use a little Binks in her life, after all look who she chooses to hang out with that can’t be good for her sanity.” She shook her head gravely.

“I’m glad she had him…I mean I could’ve used him too but what she went through…what she’s going through…she needed him more.”

“She could use you too ya know, you can never have too many people in your corner rooting for you and supporting you.”

“I’m really grateful that I have you, and mom and Uncle Jack too. But what do I do? How do I be that for her?”

“Just be you. You have a way with people I’ve seen it. Maggie would be lucky to have you.” Kendall wrapped her arms around her and held her. She was really hoping that her gut feeling wasn't what she thought it was, Bianca didn't need to have the rug pulled out from under her. Maybe it would be best if she stayed away from Maggie. She looked down to see that she had fallen asleep and smiled sadly.

“Sweet dreams baby sis.” She said as she got up and covered her with a blanket. She hoped her dreams were happy ones because she didn’t seem to get much of that in the waking world and she wished that for her more than anything. She thought the universe had put enough on her shoulders for one lifetime and could cut her a little slack. “Don’t you hurt her.” She whispered looking up at the ceiling and whatever lay beyond it “Don’t you dare put this in front of her and then take it away. You don’t wanna mess with me, I’m a Kane.” She looked back down at her sister and turned off the light enveloping them in darkness and plotting her revenge against the universe...just in case.

*

*

*

“Maggie I’m home.” He shut the door behind him quietly.

Her back went rigid and her heart pounded heavily like someone was banging on a door to get out. He was early. Her eyes bounced around the room wildly to make sure everything was where he wanted it. She had memorized where everything went and when she cleaned it didn’t move more than two inches from its original position. She closed her eyes and hoped she hadn’t missed anything.

“Maggie what is this?” his voice floated from the other room.

He was using his calm voice and that always unnerved her more than the yelling. She didn’t want to know what he was asking about, she didn’t want to walk into the living room and see him standing there but she knew if she wasn’t there within the next thirty seconds he would go find her and that would make things much, much worse. She put one foot in front of the other concentrating on her feet instead of what lay ahead of her. She looked up as she entered the living room and saw him standing with his back to her. She never knew what to say to him anything that came out of her mouth could set him off. If she said ‘you’re home early’ he would get suspicious and want to know if she had been screwing someone else while he was at work. She knew that’s what he did but she didn’t dare mention it.

“Did you have a good day at work?” she asked trying to gauge his mood. That wasn’t the best question to ask him but she had long ago run out of things to say to him.

“I asked you a question.” He turned to look at her.

“I’m sorry I was in the bedroom cleaning I didn’t hear you I’m sorry.”

“Well in that case I’ll ask again, what is this?” he dangled the large jacket from his finger “Who does this belong to?”

“It’s Jamie’s. He let me borrow it when that cold weather came through this morning. I wasn’t expecting it to get as cool as it did so I didn’t bring mine to work.”

“Ah Jamie" he shook his head as if he were amused by something "of course, he’s always so considerate. So tell me again Maggie how you’re just friends and you’re not F**king him.” he sat in the recliner placing his arms on either side and stared at her waiting for her response.

“I swear I’m not I don’t know how many times….” It was a mistake. She took a step back and shook her head “I’m sorry I didn’t…” she backed into the wall. She could feel the panic boiling up, the urge to run, she wanted to run and her legs burned with the effort to stand her ground. Short choppy breaths escaped her as he stood and moved slowly towards her.

“You’re always sorry for something if you would just do things the right way you wouldn’t be so sorry.”

“I know you’re right I’ll do better I promise.” She shut her eyes as he pressed his body against hers pinning her between him and the wall. She tried not to flinch when he dropped his head to whisper in her ear.

“Don’t ever talk to me like that again if you do I promise that lesson will be much worse than this one.”

He stepped away and swung, his backhand connecting solidly with her left cheek. It felt like every bone in her face had shattered and she stumbled from the force landing on her hands and knees on the hardwood floor. She had just polished it and now she would have to clean her own blood from its surface. She lost herself in the thought as he came at her again.

Maggie lay curled up in a ball in the middle of her bed a quiet whimper escaping her lips. Her legs kicked out and she woke to a thundering in her chest and her hands fisted in the sheet beneath her. She slowly eased the death grip and rolled out of bed looking at the clock on the bedside table. The little green numbers told her it was two in the morning, she had managed a whole three hours of sleep and that would be all she got. She walked to her dresser and quietly changed out of her sweat soaked clothes into a pair of cotton sleep pants and tank top before padding into the living room. She searched through the movies and settled on Mamma Mia hoping that its infectious happiness would help her current state of mind. She dropped the disc into the tray and moved to the couch where she sat with her arms wrapped around her legs and her chin resting on her knees. Now there was nothing she could do except wait for the safety of daylight to obscure the nightmares until darkness fell again.

Chapter Text

Bianca woke with a start when she heard a loud bang from the kitchen followed by something that sounded like a long string of curse words. She ran her hands through her sleep tousled hair slightly annoyed that she couldn’t remember the dream she had been having. She made an inarticulate noise and got up from the couch to see what Kendall had done that required such foul language.

“Good morning.” She said as she sat at the kitchen table and watched Kendall.

“Not so much with the good” she said searching through the cabinets “I know there has got to be some in here somewhere.” she slammed another door.

“Lose your mind?” she rested her chin in her palm and watched with amusement.

“You’re not far off there Binks. I can’t find the damn coffee and I need coffee. I can’t function without it and there is none, zero, zip, zilch, nada. How the hell did I forget to buy coffee? Oh right I was practically assaulted in the coffee aisle by that fire breathing dragon of a bride who was bitching about the color of the napkins. Napkins. They were one freakin’ shade off!” she threw her hands up in defeat “There is no coffee! I’d trade my left kidney for coffee right now.” She turned and slumped against the counter.

“Don’t look at me I don’t have any coffee and I’m full up on kidneys.” She laughed at her frazzled sister. If this had been just two days ago she didn't think she would be able to see the humor in this. Even tossing and turning on Kendall's slightly lumpy couch wasn't diminishing the lightness she felt. It had been months, okay a lot of months since she had felt this good and Kendall's Raiders of the Lost Java routine was now endlessly entertaining.

“I am not amused by your amusement.” She huffed “I’ll just have to stop and see if the coffee shop sells it by the trough.” She pushed away from the counter and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge looking at it like it was the most offensive thing she had ever laid eyes on.

“Kendall you’re insane and I love you.”

“Right back at ya” she pulled out a chair and sat across from her sister “So you want to come with me? You can meet psychozilla and her posse of bridesmaids who carpooled from the third layer of hell to be here.”

“Umm, when you put it like that I think I’ll pass. I’ll meet you for lunch though if you can get away.”

“Oh I’ll get away even if I have to gnaw off my own arm to do it.” She glanced at the clock on the microwave and sighed “I should be going but I’m having a hard time making myself actually go. Maybe I can call in sick.”

“Kendall you would have to call yourself.” She laughed.

“Oh right. See, I need coffee.” She paused for a second “Hey Binks I don’t think all your lights have warmed up yet" she tapped her own head "how are you going to meet me? Your car is currently D.O.A.”

“Crap I forgot. I could always call Jamie if I know him he won’t have a problem playing hooky from work. I need to go over there anyway.” She looked down at herself “I don’t know if you noticed but the only thing I have to wear is what I’m wearing right now.”

Kendall just stared at her and blinked.

“Wow you really don’t operate well without caffeine. I left my bags in my car. I didn’t even think to grab them when we left the garage yesterday.” She got up and went to the fridge.

“Oh. Well, then you can use my car. You can drop me off at work and then go get your things” then added under her breath “and maybe see a certain girl.”

“What was that?” she asked turning back to her.

“Nothing I was just trying to figure out something for you to do while I’m at work. I don’t want you getting bored just sitting around here by yourself.”

“I’m sure I can find something to do. Maybe I’ll walk around Main Street it was really pretty.”

“Good thinking there’s a lot of cute little shops and you could spend hours wandering through all of them. I’ll give you a few minutes to look presentable before we go.”

“Do I really look that bad?” she looked down at herself “What is she going to think of me when I show up in the same clothes I was wearing yesterday?” she mumbled trying to smooth the wrinkles from her t-shirt.

“What was that?” Kendall asked not sure if she had heard right.

“I said what is he going to think when I show up at the garage in the same clothes. I just know he’s gonna have some smartass comment about it.”

“Oh.” She forced a smile hoping Bianca didn’t see through it. She watched her head off to the bathroom and glanced up. "Why do I see this ending in heartbreak?" She dropped her elbow on the table and propped her chin in her hand. "Ugghh." She pushed the bottle of water away from her with a look of disgust.

“Any better?” she asked coming into the living room ten minutes later.

“Eh you kinda look like you went for a joyride in a dryer set on ow-ow-ow that hurts but it’ll have to do we don't have time to pretty you up.” She grabbed her purse.

“Gee thanks you really know how to make a girl feel good.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked down at herself again. "Do I really look that bad?

"No I was joking. Sorry, I turn into Bitchy smurf without coffee."

"Are you sure?" she looked at her skeptically.

“Yes I’m sure now come on scoot.” She shooed her sister towards the door

“I can smell the Folgers from here.”

“I’m going I’m going no need to be pushy.”

“You ain’t seen pushy sister.” She planted her hand in her back and stiff armed her to the door.

Bianca just laughed at her as she let Kendall herd her out the door and into the black Toyota sitting in the driveway. It wasn’t long before they were pulling up in front of a brick building with Aisle Be With You stenciled in flowing script on the sign that hung from the roof overhang.

“I’m so proud of you Kendall.” She smiled at her sister. “And I’m happy you found something you love.”

“Thank you, and I know I’ve been bitching about the latest bride to be but I really do love it. Come on I’ll show you around.”

They stepped out of the car and Kendall unlocked the door. “Business has been picking up recently and I’ve been thinking about expanding into the next building and hiring a few extra people.” She flipped a switch and the lights flickered to life above them. “So this is where all the insanity happens.”

Bianca walked in and found herself surrounded by pale pink brick walls and mahogany display shelves covered in sample books. She walked down the racks of wedding dresses that sat against the wall furthest to her right then moved around to sit on the cream colored couch that faced the large picture window.

“I know you sent pictures but they don’t really tell you just how, inviting it is. It’s amazing Kendall and someday when I get married you’re so planning it for me.”

“Oh that’ll be fun me, you and mom there won’t be any conflicts there.” She cocked an eyebrow.

“Well you don’t have to worry I’m sure it’s going to be a very long time before that happens.”

“Oh Binks I didn’t mean…”

“It’s fine Kendall I know what you meant and I’m not really looking forward to it any more than you are but I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.”

Kendall smiled and was about to say something when the little bell above the door signaled that someone had entered. She turned to see who could be there so early thinking it was one of her employees but found instead her current bride to be. She turned back to Bianca and rolled her eyes before turning around fully and plastering a smile in place.

“Joni, what brings you by so early?” she clasped her hands in front of her.

“I just wanted to come by and make sure you double checked the booking for the reception. I know you said everything was fine and I trust you but you never know…” she looked around Kendall to the brunette sitting on the couch. “Another bride to be?” she asked smiling. It better not be she thought this was her moment and she didn’t need her planner distracted with someone else’s wedding.

“Oh no” Kendall shook her head “this is my sister, Bianca. Bianca this is Joni Stafford.”

Bianca got up and shook hands with the too blonde to be real woman. She looked at her and there was just something not quite right hiding behind those big eyes and bright smile. She didn’t like her and she silently chastised herself for making snap decisions about someone.

“It’s nice to meet you.” She looked up at the wall clock and back at Kendall

“I should be going Jamie should be at the garage by now I’ll see you later for lunch.” She kissed her sister on the cheek and nodded to the woman before exiting back onto the street and letting out the shiver she had been holding in. Snap decision or not that girl was not someone she wanted to be in the same room with for very long.

She climbed behind the wheel of Kendall’s car, gave one last look through the door and wished her sister luck before driving off in the direction of JAM Auto. 

*

*

*

Maggie moved around the shop organizing the tools while she waited for Jamie to finish his calls. He had managed to get himself there on time for a change and it was a good thing because yesterday had been insane and now they were behind. Without Mikey they were both working overtime to keep the shop from backing up and it wouldn’t be long before they were both hospitalized for exhaustion. If she could get Jonathan out of her head it wouldn’t be as bad and now Bianca was running around up there too. Everywhere she turned there she was and she couldn’t figure out what it was about the brunette that had her brain so scrambled but she felt like she was being pushed and pulled from every direction.

“Hey you ready to get started?” he asked when he stepped into the shop.

“Yeah whenever you are.” She said distractedly pulling the big rolling toolbox up to Bianca’s car.

“Something on your mind?” He didn’t expect her to tell him but he had to ask.

“Nothing important.” She shrugged.

“Are you sure? If you wanna talk about whatever it is you know I’m here.”

“I know thanks.” She turned to search through the toolbox. How could she talk to him about this if she didn’t understand it herself?

“Well if you change your mind I’ve got two ears and plenty of time.” he turned and watched a black Toyota pull in and park. “Hey we got a customer. I’ll go check it out.”

“You’ll be the first one I come to.” She turned back to him “Go see about the customer I’ve got things covered in here.”

He walked out into the lot and she heard a familiar voice call out to him. She walked over and peered out of the door and saw Bianca smiling at him. Hadn’t she just done this very thing yesterday?

“Hey morning Jamie.” Bianca called to him.

“Morning. What brings you by so early?”

“With all the craziness yesterday I forgot to grab my bags before we left and I don’t really wanna spend the next two weeks in this.” She pulled at her t- shirt.

“Aww you know you don’t have to make excuses to come see me.” He leaned against the car.

“Ha ha. Seriously I can’t spend the next two weeks wearing the same clothes what would my mother think?”

“I can just see it now she’ll keel over in her designer dress and matching heels when she finds out you spent that long in something so unworthy of the Kane name. Come on we just pulled your car in.”

“We?” she looked around him.

Maggie quickly popped her head back in when she saw Bianca look her way. That was all she needed; to have the brunette think she was some kind of weirdo stalker.

“Yeah Maggie is inside getting everything ready so we can attempt to fix your ride.” He scrunched his eyebrows at her. “Are you okay?” It had been a while but she hadn’t changed that much and he always knew when something was going on with her.

“Yeah I’m fine yesterday was just a really long day” she waved a dismissive hand “and what do you mean by attempt?”

“It’s a Mercedes and usually when things go south they require a certified Mercedes mechanic, I’m not. Plus I can guarantee we don’t have parts in stock. So you might be bumming rides for a while. Come on I’ll help you get your bags.” They walked side by side headed into the shop.

“Oh crap.” She squeaked when she saw them headed for her. She back stepped rapidly in an attempt to get back over to Bianca’s car and slammed into the big rolling tool box with an oomph. They had entirely too many of those things she thought as she rolled to her left. It was a straight shot to the car, she could throw herself onto the creeper and slide right under the car but the handle of the push broom stopped her dead. It had somehow managed to get itself wedged, on what she didn’t know and she didn’t have time to stop and investigate.

“Ahhgg damn short legs.” She spit as she stumbled over the handle. She managed to keep her feet under her and moving across the open bay. She looked over her shoulder to see where they were and knew it was a mistake the second she did it. She had a flash of all those horror movies she and Jamie had watched and what always happens to the pretty, dimwitted girls being chased by the axe wielding psycho. This was not going to end well for her.

She felt her foot snag on the transmission she had asked Jamie to move a thousand times and clearly hadn’t bothered with. She wind milled spastically for a second, took two unsteady steps and then went skidding across the floor like she was trying to steal third. She lay there face down sprawled across the floor snow angel style and it was at that moment that one Mary Margaret Stone vowed to murder one James Martin in his sleep.

“Ow” she mumbled into the concrete beneath her “That’s gonna leave a mark. Frankie would be so proud.” She really hoped they hadn’t see any of that. Jamie would never let her live it down and god knows what she would think of her. This was why she avoided being in public as much as she could. She couldn’t stand the thought of making a fool of herself. People already didn't think much of her she didn't need to make it worse. She rolled over onto her back with a grunt to find him staring down at her laughing so hard that he wasn’t making any sound. None. At all. As for Bianca she had her face buried in his back and was at least making an attempt not to laugh, she was failing miserably but at least she was trying. She appreciated the effort.

“Crap.” She dropped her head back onto the floor. She didn’t know where to stick herself but now she understood the allure of car trunks. “I was uh, just checking the temperature of the floor. It’s not too hot or too cold. Just right.” She patted the floor. “One can never be too careful about these things.”

She didn’t think it was possible but he started laughing harder and Bianca finally lost the battle. She watched them crumple to the floor in a heap gasping for air. She had turned into Goldilocks. She had really lost her touch if that was the best she could come up with.

“It’s not that funny.” She said pushing herself into a sitting position trying to retain at least some of her dignity.

Jamie bobbed his head to let her know it was in fact even funnier and tried to speak. “Did…did you see…” he pointed at Maggie with tears streaming down his face.

Bianca tried to mimic the wind milling but her arms wouldn’t cooperate. She hadn’t meant to laugh, had tried hard not to in fact. But the sight of the little blondes’ arms flailing wildly before gravity unceremoniously introduced her to the floor was just too much. She really did feel bad for laughing at a complete stranger but not bad enough to stop.

“She’s Gold…Goldilocks.” She managed to get out through gasps.

Jamie put his hand out feeling the floor then gave Maggie the thumbs up before throwing his head back and cackling.

“Keep yucking it up hair boy and I’ll make good on that mohawk.”

The threat to his hair was enough to calm his laughter down. It did nothing to stop Bianca’s, who was now pointing at Jamie and laughing.

Maggie smirked. Point for me she thought as the brunette turned on him. It had been a long time since she had let go like this. She had let Jonathan’s constant put downs and criticism change her, had let him turn her own mind against her. But something wasn't right. She couldn't hear him. There were no hateful words being spit at her, no fear. She remembered this, it was...her. She was Maggie Stone. He was gone and she could breathe again.

“Turncoat” he shot at Bianca “All these years I thought we were bros. Is there a knife sticking out of it?” he slapped his hands around his back looking for the offending weapon.

“Not bros, gal pals!” she roared at her own joke.

Maggie thought that was the most hilarious thing she had ever heard and collapsed backwards onto the floor. Jamie just stared at them like they had lost their minds but he was loving every second of it. Who needs chicken soup for the soul when you have Bianca Montgomery?

“You’re a gal!” Maggie was in tears now.

“Hey!” he was going to argue but found that he couldn’t and just shrugged in agreement instead. “I might’ve lost this round but Martin isn’t out yet, not by a long shot. You will rue the day you ever tangled with me sisters.” He pointed between them and pushed himself off the floor.

“I’m so scared, what are you gonna do beat me with your feather boa?” Bianca asked wiping the tears from her face.

“We talked about this, you were never to tell anyone about that, especially her.” He jabbed a finger at Maggie.

“Wait, what?” she pushed herself up to lean back on her elbows “Feather boa?”

“And bedazzled sunglasses I’ll have to show you the pictures one day.”

“Spring…break…” he ticked the words off on his fingers and gave her a warning look.

“Truce!” Bianca threw her hands up to stop him from saying another word

“I’m done now, you say another word and you’ll have a reverse Mohawk and no eyebrows.

“Not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot is it?” he laughed as he reached out to help her up. “Come on, you too Yamaguchi. I have to tell ya you really stuck the landing on that one. I give it a 9.8 just for pizzazz.” He reached out for Maggie.

“Who uses the word pizzazz anymore?” Maggie laughed as he pulled her small frame easily from the floor.

“Yours truly that’s who. I’ve been on a roll with the words lately must be my proximity to smarty pants over here.” He gave Bianca a light chuck on the shoulder. “See, I used the word proximity. And I used it correctly.”

“I’m impressed” Maggie said “you know what would impress me even more?”

“What’s that, watching me flex?” he started doing his best Mr. Universe impression.

“Umm that would be a no what is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head as a child?”

Bianca laughed as Maggie threw a lopsided smirk at her and winked. Frankie had been wrong she thought. Magic wasn’t headed to Haven Bay it was in Haven Bay and it was standing in front of her with what was possibly the sexiest little smirk she had ever been witness to. The outside world ceased to exist for her at that second and she was positive that Maggie was indeed magic. Within just a few minutes of being around the tiny blonde she had done what she couldn't do for herself, she made everything better.

“So Mags” he said ignoring her comment “what’s up with your new found interest in acrobatics? Or was that a new dance routine you’re working on? What’s it called look ma I can’t fly?”

He said it with such seriousness that Bianca had to turn away to keep from laughing. But she couldn’t stop her shoulders from convulsing with the repressed laughter and it started Jamie going all over again. They spent a good five minutes laughing hysterically every time they looked at each other until finally they were able to get themselves under control. When they did they found that Maggie had wandered off and was rubbing at her shirt in an attempt to get the skid mark off. They both watched in complete bewilderment as she scrubbed furiously stopping only to glare at it briefly before lifting it to her face and commencing to yell at it for all she was worth. When it appeared her clearly genius plan wasn't working she gave up with a huff and picked her head up.

“Little tip” she said holding out her shirt and pointing at it “don’t believe the hype, shouting it out soooo does not work.” She stared waiting for them to thank her for what she thought was a very helpful piece of advice.

“Oh my god there is something so very wrong with you.” he shook his head at her. “The next time you want to shout out a stain you should try the stuff in the bottle I hear it works better than screaming at your clothes.”

“I thought it was funny.” Bianca laughed trying to ignore the hint of neon pink lace that she had inadvertently caught a glimpse of. And those toned abs. It was suddenly getting very warm and she wondered if it was just her. She pulled at the neck of her shirt trying to get some cool air to circulate over her heated skin. Neither of them seemed to notice that the temperature had just risen by what she was sure was at least a million degrees. Okay so it was just her then.

Maggie smiled at her and noticed her mumble something before her eyes bounced away from her quickly. Everything seemed to be going okay didn’t it? Bianca thought she was funny and wasn’t running like she was being chased by angry beavers or something. Maybe she didn’t really think she was funny and was just humoring her because of Jamie. “Hey…” She started backing up towards the rear entrance. Maybe she had been wrong about just how well this was going. “I gotta go check something…outside.” She turned without giving them a chance to say anything and the door closed behind her with a soft clang.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten

 

“She does that a lot doesn’t she?” Bianca looked from the door to Jamie.

“Yeah, sorry.” He said watching the door hoping she would come back.

“Don’t apologize I know what it’s like to want to run away, hell I did run away. Don’t worry Jamie she’ll find her way back all she needs is some time and her friends.”

And you he thought flicking his eyes to her as she stared at the back door.

*

*

*

"Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid." She bounced her head on the steering wheel gripping her phone. She wanted to call Frankie but what would she say? "Hey that girl I told you about just showed up, I made an ass of myself and then ran away like I was being chased by a giant marshmallow man in a fancy little sailor hat. Oh and when she's around she makes everything better." She groaned "Oh my god there is something wrong with me." She dropped her chin to her chest and took a deep breath before picking her phone up and typing a message.

She let her finger hover over send for a second before closing her eyes and just doing it. She slipped the phone back into the pocket of her faded jeans and got out to make the short walk back into the shop. She didn't know how or why but when Bianca was around she felt more like herself and she didn't want to let that go.

*

*

*

Frankie was sitting at a red light bobbing her head along to the music when her phone chirped at her.

Something's...off, need to talk.

The light turned green and instead of going right she went left. “What the hell does that mean?” she mumbled as her foot pressed a little harder on the gas pedal.

*

*

*

Maggie paused at the bay door watching them. They looked so at ease with each other and she wanted more than anything to feel like that again around…everyone, like she had before. She watched Bianca give him a playful shove before burying herself halfway in the trunk.

*

*

*

Jamie noticed Maggie had been standing just inside the shop for a few minutes now but made no move to show that he was aware of her. He was trying to focus his attention on what Bianca was saying but he was more interested to know exactly what Maggie was staring so intently at. She had a very odd look on her face that he had never seen before and he scrunched his brows following her line of sight and they dipped even further. Couldn’t be he thought, could it? He averted his eyes back to Bianca when he saw her come out.

“Are you listening to me?” Came Bianca’s muffled voice.

“Yeah, dinner, tonight. You want to me to ask…”

“Hey sorry about that.” Maggie said coming up behind them. So far so good she thought she hadn’t shoved her foot into her mouth up to the knee.

Bianca jumped in surprise and knocked her head on the inside lip of the trunk. “Ow.” She extracted herself rubbing the back of her head “Yay I’ll have a matching pair. Maybe I should start wearing a helmet.”

“Sorry I didn’t mean to sneak up on you like that.” Stupid. She was going to end up giving the poor girl a concussion if she kept this up. That’s all she was good at anymore, screwing things up. “I’m really sorry…”

“It’s fine really. I’ll just have to be on my toes whenever you’re around.” She laughed “It’ll keep my reflexes sharp.”

“Well now that you’re here” he turned from Maggie to face Bianca “you can ask her yourself.” She would probably say yes if he asked but he had an inkling that she definitely would if it was coming from Bianca.

“Ask me what?” she looked at Bianca who ducked her head and tucked her long dark hair behind her ear. She seemed nervous to her but what would she have to be nervous about?

"Oh I was just wondering if you wanted to come to dinner tonight” she rubbed the palms of her hands against her jeans “it’s just me, Jamie and my sister and it’s not really dinner it’s just pizza. Kendall isn’t known for her cooking skills, actually neither am I. I tried helping with Thanksgiving dinner once and I think I gave everyone food poisoning. They don’t let me near a kitchen anymore.” She didn’t know what had compelled her to over share but there it was.

Jamie just stared at her and blinked. “Thanks now I know why I spent two days in the bathroom when you suddenly decided to give cooking a try.”

“Umm…actually…” She dropped her eyes to watch her fingers as they made small circles in the dust on Kendall’s car “you remember when I told you there were some things I never told you?”

“What did you do to me?” he crossed his arms over his chest.

She ticked her eyes up at him “I maybe, might have put ex-lax in your food?” she was trying hard not to laugh.

“You did what?” he dropped his arms to his side and he stared wide eyed at her.

“That’s brilliant why didn’t I think of that?” She laughed thinking the dark eyes girl was full of surprises and she found herself curious to know what other surprising things there were to discover.

“I’m so disappointed in you Bianca. I would expect something like that from Maggie here but not you.” He shook his head and walked away.

“Wait Jamie…” Maggie called to his back then turned to face Bianca “I’m so sorry I don’t know why he did that I’ll go talk to him.”

“No” she put her hand on Maggie’s arm to stop her and she felt her skin tingle where it made contact. “Its fine” her breath caught and she reluctantly removed her hand from warm skin. “It won’t last long he’s never stayed mad at me for more than an hour tops.” She wondered if Maggie could hear her heart drumming in her chest because it sure sounded loud to her.

“I don’t know how anyone could ever get mad at you to begin with.” Heat radiated from the spot where Bianca had touched her and she had to make a conscious effort to keep her mind from wondering what the hell that was all about.

Bianca ducked her head and pushed back that same lock of hair “Thank you but I’m sure there are a few people that haven’t exactly been thrilled with me at one time or another.”

“Well then they must have some serious personality issues.” She wondered if Bianca realized how adorable she was when she did that. She blinked and shook her head imperceptibly. There was something very strange going on she was not acting, or thinking like herself.

“Payback is mine Montgomery!!” he yelled as he ran at her with water sloshing out of the bucket in his hands.

“Oh crap.” she squeaked and took off running as fast as her legs would carry her.

“You can’t outrun me forever so you might as well just stand there and take it like a man!” he sped by Maggie.

“I’m not a man!” she yelled as she ran from him.

“I’ll say.” Maggie muttered to herself and then clapped her hands over her mouth. “What the hell was that?” She mumbled as she spun and watched Bianca skid around the pile of old tires with her dark hair flying behind her.

None of them noticed when Frankie pulled in and stopped at the end of the parking lot. She sat completely at a loss for words, which was highly unusual for her, as Jamie paced back and forth holding a bucket while Maggie stared at him with her hands over her mouth.

“I’m really sorry Jamie I promise I’ll never do it again!” she called from behind the tires.

“That was one secret you should’ve kept to yourself.” He stalked her like a lioness.

Frankie put the car in park and wondered what the hell was going on as she watched the scene unfold in front of her.

Maggie dropped her hands and shook her head. Now was not the time to start analyzing herself Bianca needed help. She took two giant steps backwards and took a runner’s position.

“Geronimoooooo!!” she took off and launched herself onto Jamie’s back. “I got him Bianca! I got him! Hold still will you I’m trying to save the damsel in distress.”

“What the hell.” he spun like a dog chasing its tail trying to shake her loose and dropped his bucket.

“What do you mean you got him?” she poked her head around the corner to see what was happening on the other side.

“I think she has that one backwards. Who’s got who here?”

He was standing with his hands on his hips with Maggie firmly planted on his back, her elbow propped on his shoulder and her chin resting in her hand.

“He won’t let me down.” She shrugged “he seems to think this bothers me I actually kind of like it I can see so much from up here. Hey look it’s Frankie come on.” She prodded him with her feet cowboy style.

She smiled down at Bianca who laughed as Jamie huffed and did as he was told.

Now it makes a little more sense she thought when the tall girl magically appeared from behind the tires. She pulled forward to meet them and stared up at them from the car.

“What the crap is going on here? Do you three need parental supervision?” she opened the door and got out. “If I gotta be the adult we are in serious trouble.”

“He started it.” Maggie said as she slid from his back.

“Did not she started it.” He pointed to Bianca who suddenly took an interest in bird watching “she put ex-lax in my food.”

“That was four years ago!” she threw her hands up.

“Yeah but I just found out five minutes ago.” He mimicked her.

“And people think I act like a five year old?” Frankie asked.

“Maggie tell your sister I didn’t start it.”

“Maggie?” Frankie turned to look at her.

“I soooo had you.” She said and walked away.

Jamie and Frankie watched her as she drew even with Bianca who smiled at her and then turned to stick her tongue out at him.

“I see how it is” he called to them “it’s gonna be two against one from now on. Well that’s okay you know why? I’m smarter than the two of you put together. You won’t know when and you won’t know where and that is your only warning!”

“What did I miss? I got a cryptic text from Maggie saying ‘something’s off’.” She air quoted. “I was expecting to find her curled up on the front seat of her car not…whatever this is.”

“I don’t know anything about a text” he shrugged “but since you’re here you can meet Bianca.”

“Yeah about that I wanted to ask you about her. You’ve known her since high school?”

“I’ve known her pretty much my whole life but we didn’t start hanging out until high school. She’s like my sister.”

“What kind of person is she?” she looked over and watched as Maggie helped load luggage into her car.

“She’s one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet in your life. She has this way with people the way she talks to you and treats you, it doesn’t matter who you are she doesn’t judge you. Bianca has this way of making you forget all the crap. She’s had to deal with a lot of things most of us couldn’t even imagine and she hasn’t let any of it change her. If everyone on the planet had someone like her we’d all be better off.”

“Geez all that huh? You sure you’re not a little in love and it’s clouding you’re judgment?” she stared at him.

He laughed and shook his “No I’m absolutely positive I’m not a little in love. I told you she’s like my sister and that would be just so wrong. Man I wanna tell you but I don’t know if I should. I mean it’s not like it’s a big secret or anything but it’s not something she runs around screaming from the top of her lungs. People always treat her differently when they know.”

“She’s been to prison? She’s a nun?”

“Wow talk about extreme ends of the spectrum there. Your mind must be a terrifying place.”

“My mind is a fun place it’s like Disney on acid. And you changed the subject.”

“I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. I needed to buy some time to decide if it would be okay with her if I told you. She would tell you herself eventually so really I’m just saving her the trouble…”

“Will you just spit it out before I climb you like a jungle gym and put you in a choke hold.”

“You promise?” he wiggled his eyebrows.

“Nice try but it’s not getting you out of telling me the big ‘not secret’ secret.”

“Okay, okay. Have you ever heard of Erica Kane?”

“Enchantment Cosmetics Erica Kane?”

“That would be the one.”

“What’s she got to do with anything?” She furrowed her brows not seeing the connection.

“She’s Bianca’s mom.” He waited for her reaction.

“You’re joking.” She laughed. He wasn’t laughing. “You’re not joking.” Her face fell.

He shook his head “Not even a little bit. Erica isn’t someone to joke about.”

“I so didn’t see that coming. But again what does that have to do with anything?”

“I thought you should know just in case….”

“Just in case of what?” her voice dropped.

“Well it’s just that the press tends to hound her and if she’s gonna be hanging out with Maggie...”

“Oh…I see your point. In that case we need to tell her I won’t let her become front page news in one of those trashy rags that’s the last thing she needs.”

“That’s what I was thinking too but maybe we can put it off for a little while? I don't think there's much of a chance that they followed her she's just here to visit her sister, there's nothing interesting to report about that. She should get a chance to know Bianca I really think it could be good for her if we tell her now….”

“She won’t. She’ll run away from her…does Bianca know…about what happened to Maggie?”

Jamie hung his head “Yeah but Maggie doesn’t know she knows and it should stay that way for as long as possible. If she thinks Bianca is clueless maybe she’ll feel like she can be herself around her. I mean you saw what just happened, when was the last time you saw Maggie do anything like that?”

“I can’t remember.” She said sadly.

“Exactly. She’s been acting more like herself since Bianca has been around. Can you just trust me when I tell you that there isn’t a doubt in my mind that this will help Maggie?”

“I don’t really like not telling her about the possibility of ending up in a tabloid but if you think it's safe then okay. Whatever helps Maggie I’m on board.”

“Okay then.” He smiled down at her “Come on I’ll introduce you.” He chucked his head in their direction.

“Hey I don’t think you two have officially met yet.” Jamie said when they joined them

“Frankie this is my friend Bianca, Bianca this is Frankie. I believe you two know each other from the window incident.”

“I know I won’t ever forget no matter how hard I try.” Bianca reached out to shake Frankie’s hand. “Nice to meet you, officially.”

“You too.” Frankie took her hand. She gave her a quick once over and decided that she seemed okay to her. She had Jamie’s stamp of approval so she couldn’t be all that bad.

“So what were we talking about before I ratted myself out? Oh right dinner with my sister will you think about it?” she looked at Maggie trying to keep her emotions in check. She really wanted her to say yes.

“I did, think about it I mean…and if you’re sure you want me there...” She wasn't really all that sure it was a good idea but being around Bianca made the voices fade to a whisper and the memories dim. They were still there but they didn't blind her to everything around her.

“I’m sure.” Bianca cut her off. She winced internally at the overly enthusiastic response.

Frankie glanced at her sister then at Jamie who gave her a we-need-to-talk-later look. She felt hope stabbing at her again. This was not the same Maggie she had talked to just yesterday in the drive-in parking lot. That Maggie would not have said yes.

“You’re more than welcome to come too Frankie” she turned to the other blonde “we can all gang up on Jamie.” She flashed him her best evil smile.

“As much as I would love that I have the late shift at the station but maybe next time.”

“Sure.” She nodded.

“Hey Mags can I talk to you for a second?” Frankie took her arm and pulled her away from the other two “Excuse us we’ll be right back.”

Bianca watched them step away and jumped when she heard Jamie’s voice next to her ear.

“She’s great isn’t she?”

“Yeah she is I mean anyone that tiny trying to tackle you has to be.” She looked up at him and then let her eyes travel to the identical twins but only one of them had her attention. “She really is something isn’t she?” she said to herself with a small smile.

*

*

*

“What was all that about?” Frankie asked.

“Jamie was gonna throw a bucket of water on Bianca. I had to save the damsel in distress.” She shrugged but couldn’t seem to still her fidgeting hands.

“What about that text you sent me? You said something was off, what does that mean exactly?”

She glanced toward the pair who had moved away to give them some privacy and told her sister what had happened. “She just…I don’t know she makes me nervous but at the same time I feel really comfortable around her. Like I can do or say anything and she won’t judge me. It’s the weirdest thing and it kind of scares me.” She shook her hands and started pacing.

“Scares you how?” She asked amazed by the similarity between her words and Jamie’s.

“I don’t know it just…does. This isn’t like me…well this me…it is like the old me and I haven’t been her in a really long time and I don’t know how or why this is happening and it’s scaring the crap out of me. I don’t even know her but…I feel like I’ve known her forever.”

“I’ve read about this kind of thing. It could be a past life connection.”

“You know I don’t believe in that stuff that’s your thing you new agey nutball.” She gave her a gentle good natured shove.

“You don’t have to I believe enough for both of us. But seriously it does happen, the instant connection thing, it happens all the time. A lot of people describe love at first sight that way. If it makes you feel any better I like her.”

“It kinda does actually.” She paused for a second “It’s not just that though…I don’t know what to say to her I mean what do I talk to her about?” She continued pacing. “We probably don’t have anything in common.”

“Whatever you can think of. Maggie you’ve done this before it’s not like you’ve been deprived of human contact your whole life. Talk to her like you talk to me or Jamie or like you use to talk to everyone in town. Man what has gotten into you I’ve never seen you like this before.” She hadn’t actually, not once had she ever seen her calm, go with the flow sister so…frazzled by another human being.

“She seems like a really cool person and I think we could be friends. You and Jamie have told me I need to hang out with other people besides the two of you.” She stopped in front of Frankie. “I don’t think I can go tonight I have a lot of work to do we’re getting backed up…”

“Nuh uh you told them you’re going and that’s exactly what you’re going to do. You can work tomorrow and then come tell me all about it.”

“Frankie I don’t think…”

“Less thinking more doing. Shut your brain off for a little while and have some fun it’ll be good for you. Jamie will be right there with you.”

“I know it’s just been so long since I’ve done this I’m afraid my people skills might be a little rusty.”

“You’re gonna be fine Maggie just be you and you can’t go wrong.”

“Don’t tell me that, being me could make everything go very wrong.” She slumped “I wish you could come with me.”

“You know if you need me you can call me and I’ll talk you through whatever it is.”

“Be on standby then because I’m sure it won’t take long before I either put my foot in my mouth or I start panicking because I think she hates me.”

She placed her hands on Maggie's shoulders and looked her square in the eyes. "She isn’t gonna hate you. I think she’s gonna love you how could she not?”

Frankie looked over and Bianca smiled at them but she noticed that it was Maggie who she had her eyes locked on. She looked at Jamie who smiled then turned back to Maggie who was rubbing her scar. Something big was happening she could feel it all around her but she didn’t know what it was just that it was life altering.

<+><+><+><+><+><+><+><+><

“Who the hell is this now?” His words ground out of him as he stared at the tall brunette who was eyeballing his woman.

Chapter Text

She sat on the couch with her feet tucked under her absently flipping through Kendall’s photo albums while she waited for her sister to finish her shower. She had picked Kendall up for lunch and listened to her threaten to throw a shovel at the bride’s head for almost an hour but a small spitfire of a blonde had never been far from her thoughts. Maggie’s words had kept playing over and over in her head and even now her attempt to ‘rescue the damsel in distress’ made her heart want to jump from her chest and hop into Maggie’s hands. She was more than okay with needing to be rescued as long as it was Maggie who was doing the rescuing.

Kendall had been watching her stare at the photos for a few minutes without the slightest movement. When she saw a smile slip across her face she had a pretty good idea of who put it there and it wasn’t Lena.

“Hey little sis what are you thinking about over there?” she asked from her spot against the door frame.

“Hmm?” she looked up to see Kendall staring at her.

“You haven’t turned the page in that thing in almost five minutes.” She moved to the couch and sat beside her “Must be a really interesting picture.”

“Oh” she put the album on the coffee table “I guess I got a little lost in thought.”

“Anything in particular? Or should I ask anyone?”

There was no point in trying to pretend with Kendall “I can’t stop thinking about her.” She sighed “When I’m around her I don’t want to leave and when I’m not with her she’s all I think about. Kendall I didn’t think about Lena this much and we were in a relationship I don’t even know Maggie.”

“I think you might have a little crush there sis.”

“Of course I do why wouldn’t I? Same thing different girl. Why do I do this to myself?” She groaned and buried her face in her hands.

“We’re gonna have to work on your gaydar I mean how sad is it that mine is better than yours?”

“Very…” she mumbled.

“I don’t want to be the voice of reason here Binks you know how much I hate that, but maybe you shouldn’t spend a lot of time with her. It’s only going to make this harder for you and I don’t want to see you hurt again especially not so soon after Lena.”

“I know but I like her. I mean as a person I like her. She’s funny and smart and it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been around anyone that knows how to have fun? Not since Jamie left on his world tour over three years ago.” She answered before her sister could say anything.

“Are you sure you can separate Maggie the person from Maggie the crush?” she put her hand on Bianca’s and squeezed.

“I’ve had to do it before I can do it again.” She shrugged. “Besides I’m only here for a little while then it’s back home and I’ll get so busy that I’ll forget about her. Right?” she didn’t think it was possible to ever forget Maggie Stone.

“Sure, you’re right. Two weeks then it’s back home to the hectic life of college and mom.” She wasn’t sure her sister wanted to forget Maggie. “So since we’re kind of on the subject what time are they supposed to be here?”

“I told them around seven.” She looked at the clock. It wouldn’t be much longer until she was in the same room with yet another unattainable girl. “I need a drink.”

Kendall just looked at her “I thought you gave up drinking? Something about the most embarrassing thing to ever happen in the history of humanity.”

“I know but if I knew I wouldn’t do something like that again I would.”

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened? We’re sisters we share everything and it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“Maybe it’ll slip out when I’m old and senile.”

“Great by that point I’ll be even more senile than you and won’t be able to remember that you told me.” She laughed. “Okay fine maybe I’ll just get Jamie liquored up when he gets here.”

“Even drunk he won’t tell you I know too much and he knows if he spills I spill. Nice try though.” She stood up and stretched jumping when she heard a car door slam outside. “You don’t think that’s them do you? You don’t think they would show up early? They wouldn’t show up early.” she shook her head.

“Geez relax I’m sure it was just my neighbor getting home from work but I’ll check.” She got up and walked to the window “Yep it’s just him. If you feel the need to have a small freak out before they get here you might want to get it out of your system now. Maybe we should put on some music or something to take your mind off things.” She walked to the radio flipped it on and walked to the kitchen.

“So if you’re a squirrel whisperer or happen to know one please give me a call…”

*

*

*

“What did your crazy sister just say?” he poked his head out of the bathroom with a toothbrush hanging from his mouth.

“She’s looking for a squirrel whisperer.” She slumped back on the couch shaking her head. Listening to her sister’s voice on the radio was the only thing keeping her from freaking out. The more she thought about it the less sure she was about actually doing it but it was too late to back out now. In less than forty five minutes they would be standing in front of Bianca’s sister’s house and she could only hope that she didn’t have a mental melt down.

“One of these days I’m gonna get that squirrel. Oh no I just realized I’ve turned into Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’ve become obsessed. Nix the squirrel whisperer I need a therapist. So if you are one or happen to know one please give me a call so I can work out what this unhealthy fixation on the squirrel is all about. Alrighty now that we’ve established I’m a crazy Russian cartoon character can someone tell me what I was saying before I sidetracked myself? Oh right I was telling you about a friend of mine. I was talking to her earlier today and it got me thinking about that age old question, is it fate or chance that rules our lives. Is it destiny or the luck of the draw? Let’s say your life took an unexpected detour for the worse. You’ve been struggling lately and it’s been hard for you to find your way back. Then out of nowhere someone comes along and just by being there they seem to make everything better. And maybe they don’t even know they’re doing it because that’s just who they are. And that leads me to our next song, you all know this one and we’ve all been on both sides of it at some point in our lives. I give you Bill Withers with Lean on Me…”

Sometimes in our lives

We all have pain, we all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long

‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

“You think she’s given up on the subtle approach?” she asked the radio.

“Does Frankie even know what the word subtle means?” he laughed behind her.

“You’re right I don’t know what I was thinking.”

 

Please, swallow your pride

If I have things you need to borrow

For no one can fill those of your needs

That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand

We all need somebody to lean on

I just might have a problem that you’ll understand

We all need somebody to lean on

“Great song though, you should think about it.”

“Think about what?” as if she didn’t know.

 

Lean on me when you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long

‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand

We all need somebody to lean on

I just might have a problem that you’ll understand

We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load

You have to bear that you can’t carry

I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load

If you just call me

Call me

“Taking its advice. We all need somebody to lean on at some point in our lives and it doesn’t mean we’re weak it just means we’re smart enough to know when we need help. I can’t even count the times I’ve had to lean on Bianca and she was there for me every single time no questions asked.” He left it at that dropped a kiss to the top of her head and went to finish getting ready. He really hoped she got the hint.

She knew what they were doing and she would never tell them but she was glad they were. She knew if it were left up to her she would avoid the brunette at every turn simply because her mind kept telling her she wasn’t good enough to be Bianca’s friend. She needed a good hard shove and constant encouragement kind of like a dog being taught a new trick. But something kept nagging at her in the back of her mind where it was buried so deep she couldn’t get at it. She didn’t know what it was but it scared her and that was enough for her to let it stay buried.

“You almost ready to go?” he asked as he came back down the hall buttoning his shirt. He hoped tonight went smoothly he wasn’t expecting Maggie to have any problems but he was prepared with an excuse to leave just in case.

“Yeah I’m ready whenever you are.” She turned from her spot on the couch to look at him “Am I really doing this? I mean is it a good idea? What if I don’t have anything to say or I spill something or walk into a wall. What if I say something and they think I’m a moron?” She really hoped none of that happened but these days she never knew.

“You’ll be fine Mags try not to over think it. Show up with a smile say hi and we’ll go from there remember I got your back, always.”

“I’ll try my best.”

“Just be you. There’s no pressure, no expectations just try to relax and have a little fun. That’s what tonight is about we’re just four people hanging out getting to know each other.”

“But three of you already know each other. I don’t know either one of them I’m the odd man out.”

He sat down next to her “Think of it as a good thing there won’t be any awkward moments because if we run out of things to talk about Bianca will rat my secrets just for a laugh.”

“Well in that case…” she bumped his shoulder.

“Hey Mags I think your bag is ringing.” He picked it up and handed it to her.

She answered without looking at the I.D. thinking it was probably Frankie.

“Hello.” There was no return greeting. “Hello? Is anyone there? Frankie?”

“Who is it?” Jamie asked looking at her with scrunched brows.

She shrugged at him and pulled the phone from her ear to look at it. “The number is blocked.”

“Probably some kid making crank calls.”

“Probably.” She dropped it back in her bag. She wasn’t sure she believed that but she would rather that explanation than the one she came up with.

“Come on lets hit the road I’m starving.”

“You’re always starving.” She stood walked to the door and opened it “ladies first.”

She laughed when he sashayed through the door then stood by the truck tapping his foot impatiently waiting for her to open his door for him.

“So chivalrous.” He said climbing behind the wheel.

“You are so cracked in the head.” She got in beside him “drive princess or we’re gonna be late.”

*

*

*

“I love that song” Kendall said when Bianca walked into the kitchen.

“Me too.” She stared through the sliding glass door with her arms wrapped around herself. “You know it’s really weird but all of the songs Frankie has been playing have been about not giving up on love or magic. Actually the very first song she played when I found the station was something Maggie requested.” she turned to look at Kendall who was at the sink drying her hands.

“Okay even I’ll admit that’s a little strange.” Hadn't she just heard Frankie saying something about fate? She put the towel down. It all seemed to be connected; her sister’s break up with Lena, Frankie and Maggie, Jamie and Maggie. She rolled her eyes at herself for the insane thought. It was just a really odd string of coincidences.

Everything happens for a reason good and bad.” She mumbled to herself as she stared through the sliding glass door. She wasn’t convinced there was a good reason for any of this. How could having a crush on yet another straight girl end any way but badly for her?

“Don’t worry Binks everything will work itself out the way it’s supposed to. Try not to think about it too much you’ll get all depressed and you don’t want to be a Debbie downer.”

“You’re right no more thinking, at least for tonight. They should be on their way and I want Maggie to have fun.”

“Well I want you to have fun after everything you’ve been through you deserve it.”

“I don’t think that what I’m dealing with compares to what Maggie is dealing with.”

“No you’re right but that doesn’t mean you have to go around pretending your life is perfect. You’re allowed to feel bad and be upset about what happened.”

“I know but when I think about it what happened to me doesn’t mean much when you compare it to being physically abused. I can’t even begin to imagine what she went through and I wish I could make it all go away for her.”

“Do you have any idea what an incredible person you are?” she stood behind Bianca and rested her chin on her shoulder. “I’ve never known anyone with a bigger heart or more compassion and I think she’s one lucky person to have met you.”

“I think I’m the lucky one here because of her I’m starting to feel more like me.”

“Well then you’re both lucky to have found each other.”

*

*

*

Jamie pulled into Kendall’s driveway and turned the truck off. Maggie ran her hands along her legs in an attempt to make them stop the incessant bouncing that had started the second they had left the safety of his house. She stared at the house unsure if she really thought putting herself in this situation was a good idea.

“You ready?”

“Yes.” She shook her head no. “Do I look okay?” she ran shaky hands through dirty blonde hair.

“You look fine, some might even say hot but not me because you’ll slap me upside the head and mess up my hair. Come on this is gonna be fun.” He waited for her to get out of the truck. When she didn’t move he went around and leaned into the open window. “I promise if anything happens we can leave no questions asked.”

She turned to look at him “That’s not fair to you I don’t want you to have to leave because of me.”

“We’re talking about something that probably won’t even happen.” He opened her door and she got out. “We haven’t even gone inside yet give yourself a chance before you start planning for the worst.” He pushed her ahead of him to the front door.

“I just don’t want to mess this up.”

“You won’t mess it up” he put his hands on her shoulders and rested his chin on the top of her head “you can do this now knock.”

She lifted her hand took a deep breath and tapped her knuckles against the door.

*

*

*

“That’s them” she spun around “promise me if I start getting googly eyes you’ll slap some sense into me.”

“I promise now come on we can’t just leave them standing out there they’ll think we’re rude.”

“Oh right I’ll get it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah just be on standby ready to slap away.”

“I’m always ready to slap somebody.” She laughed as she followed behind to go greet their guests.

They walked into the living room and Bianca stopped in front of the door. She wanted tonight to go well and hoped she didn’t do or say anything that would upset Maggie or freak her out. She passed a hand through long dark hair thinking maybe she should have put it up and took a deep breath trying to calm the stampeding elephants in her stomach. The second the door swung open every thought in her head took a nose dive out the window. She was face to face with the blonde and her eyes quickly traveled the length of the small body in front of her, she had never in her life seen anyone make a tee shirt and faded blue jeans look sexier. Her mouth was suddenly dry and she was having difficulty forming a single coherent thought beyond holy hell. Kendall smirked behind her while Jamie noisily cleared his throat to get her attention and Maggie just blinked at her.

Chapter Text

The sound of Jamie trying to cough up a hair ball finally registered in her brain and she looked up to find him staring at her and shaking his head.

“I’m sorry my mind kind of wandered off there.” she laughed awkwardly.

“Come in.” she stepped aside to let them in and hoped neither one noticed the wobble in her legs. She had never thought she would actually go weak in the knees at the sight of someone but Maggie was causing her to do a lot of things she didn't think she ever would.

When she shut the door behind them the smell of strawberries lingered where Maggie had brushed by her and she couldn’t help but wonder if she tasted like them too. She stared at Maggie's backside wrapped lovingly in those jeans and as her eyes traveled up she allowed herself to imagine what it would feel like to be pressed against that body, running her hands along Maggie's arms, dropping gentle kisses to perfect, soft skin, Maggie's hands on her...her heart hit mach three and she pulled at the collar of her tee shirt and contemplated just walking off to the bathroom and standing under an ice cold shower. She didn’t know what she had been thinking she was not going to be able to do this and Kendall’s arm was going to get one hell of a workout.

“Well, well, well look what the cat dragged in James freakin’ Martin in the flesh.” Kendall said with her hands planted on her hips. She cast a sly glance at her sister and caught her practically devouring Maggie with her eyes.

“Miss me?” he smiled and opened his arms.

“Hell yes get over here.” She grabbed him into a hug.

Maggie stood just behind him rubbing the scar self-consciously. A mix of fear and curiosity was gnawing away at her and she fought hard to stand her ground and not bolt for the door. She tried not to stare at Bianca who kept pulling at her shirt collar and mouthing something she couldn't make out. She was starting to wonder if maybe she was a little mentally unbalanced herself. She would have to be if she was volunteering to spend time with her.

“I can’t believe you live here too. If I would’ve known I would’ve dropped by forever ago.” He stepped back.

“Same here.” She smiled.

“Kendall” Bianca said pulling her attention away from Jamie “this is Maggie, Maggie this is my sister Kendall.”

“Hi it’s nice to meet you.” Maggie smiled at the curly headed woman.

“You too Bianca hasn’t stopped talking about you and Jamie since she got here.”

Maggie’s eyes flashed to Bianca who was suddenly examining a spot on her shirt. She squinted at her trying to guess what was going on in her head but she had no clue why she would be saying anything at all about her. Jamie she understood they were friends but she was a stranger, an unbalanced stranger. Then it dawned on her that maybe she was telling her that she thought she was unhinged or something.

“Make your selves at home pizza should be here in about twenty minutes.” She stopped Bianca when she walked by her “Where exactly did your mind go just now?” She whispered before moving to the overstuffed chair.

Maggie followed Jamie and he took the chair facing the one Kendall had just dropped into. That left her to sit on the couch next to Bianca who suddenly looked an awful lot like Rudolph's nose. She couldn’t help but be completely fascinated and slightly intimidated by her at the same time.

“I’m glad you decided to come" she tucked her hair behind an ear and looked at the tiny girl next to her hoping she didn't ask why she was the color of a cherry red popsicle. "you can never have too much back up when you’re with these two.” She was going to need to get that under control if she expected to make it through the night.

“We aren’t that bad are we?” he asked Kendall.

“I never thought so” she shrugged “I have no idea why she would think that we were angels.”

“Yeah right and I’m secretly madly in love with Jamie.” She rolled her eyes.

“Ha I knew it! Finally you admit it. It doesn’t matter who you are the Martin charm cannot be resisted.” He brushed a hand through his hair and winked at Bianca.

She threw her head back and laughed “Boy I didn’t think your ego could get any bigger but it appears I was wrong.”

Maggie barely heard anything that was being said she was far too nervous and all of her attention was focused on what she could possibly say to them. She stole a glance at Bianca out of the corner of her eye and envied how at ease she seemed to be with herself. She couldn't remember the last time she felt at ease about anything. And how lucky was Jamie to have her as a friend? How stupid was he to let her go? The conversation kept moving along while she was busy chasing her thoughts until she realized one of them had asked her a question and the room had gone quiet.

“Hello earth to Maggie.” Jamie waved a hand in front of her with a concerned look.

“What?” she scrunched her eyebrows and looked at him “Sorry I guess it was my turn for my mind to wonder off. I should really put a leash on that thing.” She laughed at herself.

“Never mind” he said making a mental note to ask her about it later “it wasn’t that important what is important is that if I know Kendall she has alcohol and I sure am thirsty.” He smacked his lips.

“Wow you sure don’t get the concept of subtlety do you?” Kendall laughed at him.

He shook his head no with a big grin on his face “Give up the booty. Oh that’s a good title for a song do you see what a genius I am?”

“Wow I didn’t know they had changed the definition of genius” Bianca knitted her brows together. “poodles all over the world will be thrilled I’ll be sure to ask the next one I see what the meaning of life is.”

“Don’t be stupid you don’t speak French how would you know what its saying.” He shook his head at her.

Bianca cocked her head at him and then dropped her chin to her chest “How did we ever end up friends?”

“It was a fateful day in Mr. Kramer’s biology class when a shy wee bit of a lass sat down next to the strapping, ruggedly handsome young man…”

“You were five foot nothing and weighed a hundred twenty pounds soaking wet. You might be able to rewrite history with some people but not with me.” She wiggled a finger at him.

“Please tell me there are pictures of this.” Maggie looked over at him.

Bianca smiled at him with an evil little grin and got up to search through Kendall’s bookcase. She pulled a red photo album from the shelf and held it up in front of her. He just groaned and threw an arm over his eyes.

“I believe the pictures you want to see are in here.” She sat back down next to Maggie and opened the album on the coffee table. “This” she pointed “was taken in ninth grade.”

Maggie scooted to the edge of the couch next to Bianca and looked where her finger was pointed. Her eyes shot up to Jamie and she started laughing hysterically. “You were a pipsqueak and that hair! I guess you didn’t always have that part of the Martin charm going for you now did you?”

“I’m so gonna get you back for this.” He mumbled to Bianca from under his arm.

“If your idea of payback is throwing a bucket of water on me then I’m not really scared.” She smirked.

“Can you make me a copy of this I want to blow it up and have it framed. I can hang it in the living room right across from the front door that way it’ll be the first thing you see when you walk in.”

“Don’t you dare I know where you live.” He threatened.

“Yeah hi I live in the same house you do and this would brighten my day.” She smiled radiantly at him.

“There’s another one, I think you’ll want to buy a special lamp to light it with.” she turned the page. “This was taken when we went to the water park for my sixteenth birthday.”

“Holy crap you look like Casper’s ass.” She tried to focus on Jamie but she couldn’t take her eyes off of the brunette standing next to him in the photo. She was smiling brightly for the camera like she didn’t have a care in the world. Unlike Jamie she hadn’t changed much except to become even more stunning than she had already been.

“That’s what I told him too.” She smiled at Maggie.

“Great this is not how I expected tonight to go. Kendall I really need booze now.”

Kendall laughed at him. She had been sitting back observing the way Bianca and Maggie interacted trying to gauge their reactions to each other. They seemed to somehow fit together, like one was an extension of the other. She wanted to roll her eyes at herself for the very un-Kendall like thought.

“Follow me you old booze hound.” She got up and waved a hand for him to follow her into the kitchen.

*

*

*

Kendall stopped at the fridge and made sure her voice was low so they wouldn’t be overheard. “I wanted to ask you something.” She checked to make sure no one was coming.

“Okay” his eyebrows drooped in puzzlement “Why are we whispering?”

“Because I don’t want them to hear us duh that’s why people whisper.” She shook her head “I think poodles all over the world just started crying their genius status has just been revoked.”

“Ha ha. Just ask me the question.” he huffed.

“How long have you known Maggie?”

“About three years why?”

“Has she always been strictly…stick?” she raised her brows hoping he would get her drift.

“Huh?” he looked at her and quickly remembered just how hard he always had to try to follow her train of thought.

“Geez Martin has she always been into guys or is there some wiggle room?” Drift clearly not gotten she thought with an annoyed sigh.

“Oh!...Well as far as I know she’s always been straight…why have you noticed something?”

“No but I think Bianca might have a crush on her and I don’t want her to get her hopes up only to have them shredded…again.”

“It could be possible I’m not sure it’s likely but you can’t control who you’re attracted to or who you fall in love with right?” He bent backwards to get a look at them. They did look kind of cozy sitting there on the couch, like they belonged.

*

*

*

“And this is senior prom.” Bianca flipped the page and smiled at the picture of her and Jamie all dressed up. She didn’t have to try hard to imagine Maggie in the picture next to her holding her hand.

“You two look amazing.” She moved closer to get a better look and when she did her knee brushed Bianca’s. She felt goose bumps race up her body and she thought for a second that her heart had literally skipped a beat, or fifty.

There were those strawberries again and she had to physically restrain herself from leaning over and burying herself in Maggie’s neck. Where was Kendall she could use a good hard slap right about now. “Thank you.” She tucked her hair with a shy smile.

“I bet you had a lot of fun.” She wished she could have been there to see it in person.

“Only if your idea of fun means the night ends with her swimming in a punch bowl the size of a hot tub.” He said coming back into the room with a cold bottle in his hand.

“It was fun up until that point after that not so much. Turns out alcohol and trying to balance on four inch twigs is not a good combination.”

“Okay I should say that in her defense the punch was spiked with about twenty different kinds of alcohol and she had no clue. But it was hilarious when she was floating around asking me why her pretty new dress was all wet and scooping more punch into her cup.” He flopped back into his chair.

“Did you really?” Maggie looked at her trying not to laugh. This made her rethink her assumption of what she had been telling Kendall because clearly someone who would go swimming in a punch bowl was not going to judge her ill-fated Superman impression.

“What is it about us that makes us embarrass ourselves like that?” she asked groaning at the memory.

“We’re socially incompetent.” He laughed. “Man you should come around more often it’s like I’m absorbing your brain.”

“That would explain why I feel like my I.Q. is dropping.” She deadpanned.

“Holy crap that was a good comeback. Maybe you’re absorbing Maggie’s brain.” he said.

“Wait” Kendall said “that would mean I’m absorbing your brain” she stared and pointed an accusatory finger at Jamie.

“Oh you’re so screwed.” Bianca shot at her.

“And that means Maggie is absorbing Kendall’s.” Jamie looked between all of them.

“Lucky girl.” Kendall beamed. “Does that mean she can take over the wedding I’m planning because that would be great.”

Bianca leaned closer to Maggie her eyes lingering on bee stung lips for probably longer than was appropriate “Kendall threatened to throw a shovel at her so if I were you I would tell her no and run for the hills.”

Maggie laughed “I’m taking Bianca’s advice and saying no, sorry.” She shrugged. Bianca smelled amazing and she would have to ask her what kind of perfume she was wearing, it was intoxicating whatever it was.

“Crap. I’m telling you I should’ve gone into a different profession something less stressful like brain surgeon or something.”

“What about you?” Maggie asked Bianca.

“Oh I work for our mom part time while I’m going to school.” She pulled her legs up to sit cross legged on the couch.

“What are you going to school for?”

“Teaching. My mom wanted me to study business but it never really interested me I don’t have the passion for it like she does.”

“What kind of business does she own?” Maggie looked between the three of them when nobody said anything.

“Who wants to tell her?” Jamie asked.

“Am I missing something?” she scrunched her eyebrows.

“Oh just a tiny insignificant detail.” Kendall held her thumb and finger out just a hair apart.

Bianca bit the bullet “Our mom owns a cosmetics company.”

“Oh okay. What’s the big deal does she own Enchantment or something?” she laughed but nobody else did “Your mom owns Enchantment.” Her eyes grew wide.

“Yep” Kendall said “Our mother is the one and only Erica Kane.” She flipped her hair in the patented Kane fashion.

“Wow.” She breathed then looked at Bianca “you’re just full of surprises aren’t you.” She wondered what other unexpected things there were to learn about this incredibly gorgeous brunette.

“Yeah and oddly enough I’m not really a big fan of them.” She laughed as they were interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Food!” Jamie sat up.

“Haven’t changed a bit have you?” Kendall chuckled getting up and grabbing her purse.

She came back and set the boxes on the coffee table “Hey Binks wanna help me grab the stuff from the kitchen?”

“Yeah.” She got up and followed her out of the room.

When they were gone Jamie leaned in “So are you having fun? Do you like them?”

A smile graced her lips “I do and I’m really glad I decided to come but I have a question I’ve been wanting to ask you.”

“Shoot.”

“How could you be such an idiot?” she shook her head at him.

He looked at her dumbfounded “Maggie what are you talking about?”

“If I had her as a best friend I wouldn’t have left her to go explore the world and I sure as hell wouldn’t have lost contact with her for as long as you did. You’re an idiot.” She poked him in the chest.

“Tell me about it. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking but I’m never letting it happen again.”

Bianca reentered the room with her arms loaded down. “I feel like a pack mule.” She said with glasses and plates in one hand and a pitcher of tea in the other. “Here Jamie Kendall said these are for you.” She tried to wiggle the fingers with a now five pack of beer dangling from them.

“Umm what exactly is Kendall carrying?” he asked.

“I’ve got the napkins.” Kendall laughed coming up behind her sister and waving them.

Maggie jumped up from her place on the couch to help before Bianca lost her grip on something. Jamie would swear until his dying day that when Maggie looked up at Bianca he saw an actual sparkle in her eyes.

Chapter Text

Once they had gotten everything situated and started eating Maggie turned her attention back to Bianca.

“So what level are you planning to teach at?” Maggie asked before taking a bite. The brunette had her complete undivided attention.

“Elementary. I thought about teaching at the high school level but I just couldn’t see myself there. I like the idea that I might have even just a small impact on their lives before they turn into raging hormonal heathens.” She looked pointedly at Jamie.

“What?” he said around the slice of pizza hanging from his mouth. “I wasn’t that bad.”

She crooked an eyebrow at him before turning back to Maggie “What about you, college?” she took a bite.

“I thought about it but when my grandfather told me he was retiring and he wanted me to take over running his garage there was really no point.” She couldn't remember any of her teachers looking like Bianca. Funny how everyone else always seemed to get the hot teacher and she got the old people.

“Is that where you learned to fix cars?” The image of Maggie in that grease covered shirt with the bright red rag hanging from her back pocket flitted through her brain. Had she seen that while driving she would have wrecked her car and she was pretty sure that Maggie Stone should be declared a menace to anyone with a license and eyeballs.

“Yeah I worked there part time during school and after I graduated he hired me full time. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done and the only thing I ever want to do. And when Jamie showed up like a lost puppy that’s the first thing we connected over.” She felt the almost laser gaze of Bianca on her and it was starting to get just a bit warm in the house.

“So that’s how you ended up never coming back to Pine Valley, Maggie charmed you into staying.” She looked at her and smiled “I can’t say that I blame you I wouldn’t have left either.” She froze. “I mean, you know because this place is so much better than Pine Valley and I wouldn’t have wanted to go back either if I didn’t really have to.” She wanted to pull her shirt over her head and pretend that did not just happen.

Kendall hid her smirk behind her glass. She knew what her sister had meant but she had the odd ability to be unintentionally flirtatious and it always made her want to laugh when it sunk into her slightly oblivious sister. Like now. She looked like she was standing in the middle of the freeway about to be mowed down by a Mack truck.

“So” Kendall said pulling the attention from Bianca to herself “Are the three of you up for a little idea I have?”

Now three sets of eyes were staring at her and two of them had trepidation in them.

“Kendall” Bianca squinted at her suspiciously “the last time you said that Jamie ended up in a dress and I ended up in a chicken suit. Not that Jamie in a dress was anything out of the ordinary.” She looked pointedly at her sister to make sure she knew she was eternally grateful for the change of subject.

“Now that was funny as hell” she threw a discreet wink at her “but this time I’m not enlisting you to help me stalk anyone.” She laughed “No I was thinking a walk along the lake, with the full moon it’s absolutely gorgeous. No chicken suit I promise.” She held up her hands.

Bianca shrugged “As long as I’m not dressed like fowl I’m up for it.”

“I’m in, Mags?” Jamie looked at her.

“First yeah I love the lake I used to spend a lot of time there with Frankie when we were little and second” she looked at Bianca “a chicken suit?”

“Hey she can be very persuasive.” She chucked a thumb at her laughing sister. “I’ll tell you all about it sometime if you want to hear it.”

“I really do.” She nodded. She wanted to hear everything.

After the pizza had been demolished they were by the water’s edge under the glow of the moon staring across the glass surface of the water.

“Wow you weren’t lying when you said it was gorgeous.” Bianca breathed.

“It kind of reminds me of Willow Lake.”

“I know that was part of the reason I bought this house. It’s like home but without all the lunatics running loose.”

“You all make Pine Valley sound like a nightmare.” Maggie remarked.

“It’s not far off.” Bianca said into the warm night air.

“Oh it’s not that bad.” Jamie spoke up from Maggie’s left. “I mean if you don’t mind drug lords, people coming back from the dead, evil doppelgangers, amnesiacs, or half the town being drugged with something that turns you into a horn dog.”

“Jamie!” Bianca reached over Maggie and slapped him upside the head.

“What?!” he said fixing his hair “That’s what it did.”

“Remind me never to go with you if you take a trip home.” Maggie said surprised at herself for not flinching at the sudden movement.

“Hey Jamie” Kendall said “I wanna show you something.”

“Suuuuuurrreee you do.” He gave her an exaggerated wink “I know what this is you just want me all to yourself so you can have your way with me.”

“Oh gross.” Bianca shuddered “I will never be able to un-hear that and if I end up with a picture in my head I will never forgive you.”

Maggie laughed at her “I’m glad to know it’s not just me he does that to.”

Jamie stood next to Kendall, offered his arm to her and turned to waggle his eyebrows at the other two.

“I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.” Bianca mumbled as she and Maggie turned and followed slowly behind them.

“I do that a lot when he feels the need to over share. I keep telling him no but he just doesn’t listen. Was he always that hard headed?”

“Uh huh.” She nodded emphatically “But that’s just one of the five million reasons I love him.”

Maggie watched her feet as they walked working up the courage to ask what she had been wondering about all day. “I was going to ask you about that.”

“About what?” Bianca said quietly.

“About you and Jamie. You seem like you would be perfect for each other…” she trailed off.

“Me and Jamie? Oh” realization hit her “Wow okay. I didn’t realize Jamie hadn’t mentioned it but then why would he?” She didn't know why she thought Maggie already knew most people did and it made her life easier to know where they stood.

“Jamie hasn’t really told me anything but then you know Jamie. So umm…did you two ever date?” She didn’t know why but she was really hoping the answer to that would be no.

She stopped and watched the water lap at the shore then turned to look at Maggie. “I hate to just spring this on you but there isn’t really any other way to do it.”

“Don’t tell me you’re a nun.” She laughed.

Bianca laughed with her. “No not even close.” She started walking again slowly. “I’m gay Maggie.” Her head was throbbing with the anticipation of her response to what she was sure the petite girl would feel was a bombshell.

Maggie stopped dead in her trek along the sand and stood silently blinking into the moonlit night. She was not sure she had heard that right. Her brain must be on the fritz.

“Maggie?” her brows furrowed and she slid her palms along her jeans trying to keep her hands from fidgeting. She had no idea what to do she had told her the ball was in her court now.

“Huh?” She had forgotten the brunette was standing there. “I’m sorry, did you just say-“

“That I’m gay? Yeah.” She could feel beads of sweat starting to form. Of all the people she had ever told she never cared about their reaction as much as she did Maggie’s, not even her mother’s.

“Okay….okay.” She bobbed her head. She was at a loss for the appropriate thing to say to this unexpected revelation. “Well…umm…that’s great? Yeah that’s great. I mean…not that being gay is great or that it’s not not great because I’m sure it is…but that…I’m gonna shut up now.” She dropped her head into her hands and could feel her face burning like a three alarm fire in a match factory.

Bianca laughed, she couldn’t help it Maggie was just so adorable. “It’s okay really. That’s probably one of the best reactions I’ve gotten. Pretty much everyone knows but there are a few people I've had to tell and I’ve gotten blank stares and disgusted grunts I’ve been damned to the pits of hell and there were a few of those exaggerated well isn’t that just greats complete with uncomfortable smile.”

She dropped her hands so just her eyes were showing. “Really? Boy some people are jerks aren’t they?”

“That’s putting it nicely you don’t have to be polite around me.”

“Well in that case, bigoted small minded assholes is what I would have gone with.” She dropped her arms to her side “I’m so sorry I just wasn’t expecting that.”

“I told you it’s okay really, I mean that. Everyone reacts differently and so far yours has been my favorite.” She smiled at her trying to reassure her.

“Seriously? I would hate to ask what your least favorite is.”

“You can ask me anything you want I don’t treat any part of my life like it’s some dirty little secret. I couldn’t if I wanted to being the lesbian daughter of Erica Kane tends to put me in the crosshairs of the tabloids.”

“I can’t imagine that’s easy.” She looked up at the brunette’s profile in the moonlight. Every second she spent getting to know her she became more beautiful which seemed impossible to her because she thought Bianca was already absolutely stunning.

“No at times it hasn’t been” she shrugged “but I’m not going to stand here and tell you my life is any harder than anybody else’s. The only difference between me and everyone else is that all of my mistakes and failures are public knowledge. Seriously Google my name and see what you come up with. Oh that sounded conceited I promise you I’m not. I just meant….”

“It’s okay I know what you meant.” She put a hand on Bianca’s forearm to reassure her. “I don’t suppose there’s a picture of you in that chicken suit floating around somewhere on the internet is there?” She threw out her best lopsided grin.

“Honestly?” her breath hitched in her throat and her knees almost gave out, she loved that sexy little grin “there might be but no one would know it was me. Kendall really thought that one out and got the suit with the full head.”

“Aww too bad I bet you looked clucking cute.” She smiled brightly and watched as Bianca tossed her head back with a laugh. She couldn't believe that she was standing there with Erica Kane's daughter and even more unbelievable was the fact that Bianca was laughing with her and not at her. She almost felt like her world was being turned upside down, or maybe it was being turned right side up.

“I am so glad I met you I haven’t laughed this much in a long time. Not since before…” She sighed as the thought of why she was there inserted itself into an otherwise happy moment. “Sorry I had actually forgotten why I came to Haven Bay to begin with.” And it’s in no small part because of you she thought as she stared at her feet.

“Can I ask…I mean is it okay if I ask why it is you came?” She wasn't sure it was fair to ask her personal stuff when she wouldn't be willing to answer personal questions herself but she just wasn't ready.

“Yeah it’s fine. Again it’s not a secret the tabloids saw to that. I broke up with my girlfriend and I just wanted some time to myself to figure things out and here I am.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to drag it up.”

“No it’s not your fault. It’s part of life right? It’s not really the break up that upset me though. I was the one who ended it I just should’ve done it long before I did. I’m afraid I hurt her even though she said she was fine and I feel horrible for that.”

“You shouldn’t. You couldn’t stay with her if you were unhappy right? Someone is always going to get hurt no matter what you do, it’s the fact that you care about her feelings that’s important. If you didn’t feel horrible then you would be an awful person and you certainly don’t seem like an awful person to me.”

“Wow you know I never thought of it like that.” And just like that she didn’t feel half as bad as she had just thirty seconds ago. “You Maggie Stone are quite something you know that?” She bumped her shoulder and smiled at her.

They settled into a comfortable silence with the water softly lapping at their feet. Bianca looked up to see Kendall and Jamie and beyond them a small boathouse. She could hear people laughing and see shadows dancing through the window.

She stopped and put a hand on Maggie’s arm “Do you hear music?” she asked straining her ears. The wind shifted and carried the sound towards them.

Laugh and sing

But while we’re apart

Don’t give your heart

To anyone

But don’t forget who’s taking you home

And in whose arms you’re gonna be

So darlin’

Save the last dance for me

“Oh my god I know this song.” Bianca said excitedly clapping her hands like a little kid. “My dad used to dance to this with my step-mom.” She closed her eyes and started swaying to the distant music with a radiant smile on her face. “I loved to watch them dance and sometimes my dad would put me on his feet and I would hold on squished in between them laughing at how goofy they were.”

Maggie watched her and for an instant thought about taking her in her arms and dancing with her. She stared at Bianca who had a wistful little smile on her face and her heart did a little giddy up in her chest. Bianca was quite possibly the most amazing person she had ever met in her life. No, she thought she absolutely was the most amazing person she had ever met she would have to be to make her even think about dancing again.

Up ahead of them Jamie and Kendall walked along talking quietly.

“So what is it you wanted to show me?” he asked her.

“Actually nothing I just wanted them to have a chance to talk without us hanging around. And…”

“And what?” he stepped around a piece of driftwood.

“And I know a little bit about what happened to Maggie and you know how much Bianca cares about everyone’s wellbeing. I’m just worried that she’s going to put her heart out there only to have it rejected because Maggie doesn’t feel the same way.”

“I know. I’ve kinda been seeing that when they’re together. It’s like watching the whole Ashley Michaels thing all over again. I can tell you that Maggie wouldn’t do anything to purposely hurt Bianca. But you’re right just because she knows Maggie is straight doesn’t mean she can control the way she feels about her. The thing is though, when they’re together Maggie is better and for completely selfish reasons I want them to spend as much time with each other as possible.”

“I get it Jamie I really do.” They walked quietly until Kendall spoke again

“How much has Bianca told you about her relationship with Lena?”

“She told me she doesn’t think she ever loved Lena and that she thinks she’s broken.”

“She told me the same thing, the thing is though I don’t think she is because I’ve seen how Maggie affects her. I mean you should see the way her eyes light up just at the mention of her name and that’s what has me worried. I think it’s already too late.”

“Love at first sight.”

“Yeah that’s what I’m afraid of. I wish just once that Bianca could have this she’s had so much heartbreak already. I just want her to be happy.”

“I want the same thing for Maggie they’ve both been through so much.” They walked a little further each lost in their own thoughts until he spoke again. “So you said you’re planning a wedding is it for a friend or…?”

“No that’s what I do, I own Aisle Be With You which I’m sure you’ve never heard of.”

“Nope sorry that’s not something I’m thinking about right now but you know how much I love a good horror story.”

“Well then have I got a good one for you because my latest bride is every horror story all rolled into one.” She grumped.

“Do tell.” He rubbed his hands together like a little kid.

“Do you know who Joni Stafford is?”

Jamie froze suddenly not in the mood for this particular horror story. “I know her.” He ground through clenched teeth “And I can’t say that I’m a fan.” He debated for about a half a second before deciding he had to tell her. He didn’t want her to be associated with the person who had made Maggie’s life even more of a living hell than it had already been so he laid it all out for her.

“What a horrible…I can’t believe…how could…that bitch!” Kendall finally spit out after Jamie finished his story. “If I would have known I never would have taken the job.”

“I’m sorry I probably shouldn’t have told you. It’s going to make your job harder but I couldn’t not tell you.”

“I know and I’m glad you did but at the same time I’m not. I’m a professional and I’ll do my job but that doesn’t mean I won’t be wishing for terrible things to happen to her, like say a sudden downpour of butcher knives. Does anyone else know?”

“Only Frankie and Maggie. We can’t actually prove it was her that did it and even if we could I’m not sure there’s anything we can do about it.”

“Don’t worry Jamie people like that always get what’s coming to them and if karma needs a little help I’ll be happy to lend her a hand.”

Maggie and Bianca continued to walk in no hurry to catch up to the other two who looked like they were in an intense conversation.

“So how long are you staying in Haven Bay for?”

“Two weeks but like I told Jamie that’s not set in stone.” She smirked when Maggie laughed and it made her heart do a little skip in her chest. “I have one semester left of school before I graduate and I don’t really have to go back until classes start again in just over a month. So really I can stay if I want to without it interrupting anything.”

“I’m sure your sister and Jamie would be thrilled to have you here longer.” She would too but she didn’t say that out loud instead they just continued along the edge of the lake.

“And I would be thrilled to stay longer. Who knows maybe after graduation I’ll move here. Other than my mom and Uncle Jack there isn’t much keeping me there.”

“What about your dad? You mentioned him.”

Bianca smiled sadly “He died when I was sixteen.”

“I’m sorry. My dad died when I was thirteen.”

“It doesn’t get any easier does it?” She didn’t know if it was okay but she threw caution to the wind and took Maggie’s hand in her own.

“No. I miss him just as much now as I did then.” She was surprised by the gesture and even more surprised when she realized that she had actually wanted to do the same thing but just didn’t have the nerve.

“Me too. I wish he was still here there are so many things I wanted to tell him that I never got the chance to. But mostly I just want to tell him that I love him.” she shrugged. “What about your mom?” She couldn’t believe that Maggie was not only okay with it but had taken it upon herself to lace their fingers together. And their hands fit together perfectly, like they were made for each other.

“She’s still around somewhere I’m sure. She took off when me and Frankie were two so I don’t really remember her.” She turned her gaze out to the lake “After our dad died our grandparents took care of us, his mom and dad.”

“Boy Jamie was right, we sure are a pair.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheek laughing at herself.

Maggie brought her eyes back to Bianca and smiled. “Right? If anybody needs to bring their fun party to a screeching halt they can just call us, the doom and gloom girls.”

Bianca laughed through the tears “I don’t remember fun it’s been so long since I’ve had any.”

“Me either and I’m fresh out of ideas but would you settle for crazy.”

Maggie chucked her head in the direction of the water.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, why not?” she gave Bianca her best lopsided grin. They ran hand in hand into the serene lake.

Twenty feet behind them Jamie and Kendall heard splashing followed by laughter and a few curse words.

Kendall turned “What are you two doing?” she yelled from the edge of the lake.

“Having a little bit of crazy.” Maggie yelled back while treading water.

“What?” she looked over at Jamie who just shrugged.

“Well we couldn’t think of anything fun to do so we did something crazy instead.” Bianca said splashing water at Maggie. “Come on in but I have to warn you the water is a lot colder than you would expect.”

“You know what they say, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.” Jamie kicked off his shoes and ran headlong into the water letting out his own string of expletives.

“Well hell you aren’t leaving me out.” Kendall slipped out of her sandals and followed him in. “Come on there’s a floating dock just over there.” She swam off with the other three in tow.

She was the first one there and pulled herself up, dangling her feet in the water waiting for them to join her. “You know” she said when they had hoisted themselves up “I’ve never been out here at night and with the full moon it’s even more beautiful than it is from shore.”

“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life” Bianca whispered glancing to her right at the water logged blonde sitting beside her “I wish I could stay here forever.”

 

Chapter Text

“So” Jamie said coming out of the bathroom drying his hair “that was fun.” He dropped onto the couch next to Maggie and propped his feet up on the table.

“Yeah it was.” She smiled and leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder. They had only left Kendall’s a couple of hours ago but she already couldn’t wait to see them again. She never thought she would feel like this again after Jonathan. Jonathan. She hadn’t thought about him for even a second all night and it had never occurred to her to ask the one question that could change things. “Does…does Bianca know?” Maybe she didn’t want to know, maybe she was better off thinking that Bianca was clueless about her past.

“Know what?” He hung the towel around his neck.

“About Jonathan, what he did. Wait, don’t answer that I don’t think I want to know I think I like not knowing better. No” she shook her head “tell me or I’ll always be waiting for the other shoe to dropkick me in the head.”

“Well…” he didn’t really want to tell her. She was starting to come back to life and he didn't want her to go away again.

“She does doesn’t she?” she cast her eyes down and watched her hands fidget.

“Yeah she kind of put the pieces together she’s like super smart.”

“How long?”

“Since the first day.”

“She’s known this whole time?” she brought surprised eyes up to meet his.

“But, she didn’t act like she knows it was like I was just anyone else.”

“That's because she knows that you're a lot more than just what he did to you. She doesn’t see you as some sort of victim she sees you Maggie and that’s the only way she’ll ever see you. Does her knowing change anything?”

Maggie thought for a second “No, I don’t think so. She didn’t give off that vibe that she was just being polite or something so I wouldn’t break down into tears.” She could still see Bianca’s bright smile and hear that infectious laugh and she smiled herself. She didn’t get the feeling Bianca was the kind to treat anyone like they were broken, even if they were.

“Good I was hoping it wouldn't.” He paused “So, not to change the subject but tomorrow is Saturday, my big date and I was thinking you should call Bianca and see if she and Kendall wanna hang out. You can bring Frankie along, it won’t be the same without me of course but it could still be fun.”

“Do you think they would want to? I mean do you think they liked me enough to want to see me again?” she was still unsure of herself.

“Absolutely” he nodded “what’s not to like, you’re smart and funny and a little bit crazy. I happen to know they love those qualities in a person, if they didn’t they wouldn’t have followed you into the lake. Bianca and Kendall aren’t like most people.”

“I noticed that” she was quiet for a minute then pushed away from Jamie so she could look at him “do you think it’s weird?” she asked.

“Do I think what’s weird?” he looked at her completely clueless as to what she was talking about.

“That I just met Bianca but I feel like we’ve been friends our whole lives? I just mean that since I met her, I don’t know” she shrugged “things feel different when she’s around. I feel different when she’s around.”

“Oh that, no" he shook damp hair "that’s not weird at all. I felt the same way when we really started hanging out. If a friend is what you’re looking for Mags you won’t find a better one than Bianca.” He was starting to wonder if maybe there was more to Maggie’s feelings than even she knew. He would have to run it by Frankie and see what she thought.

“So you really think I should call her?” she settled back against his shoulder.

“Yeah I do.” He leaned his head down to rest on top of hers. “And, I’m just saying, if you need to talk you know, about anything, she’ll listen. She won’t judge you or push you and she’ll never tell anyone what you tell her, not even me or Kendall. You can trust her Maggie with anything and everything I just wanted you to know that.”

She didn’t say anything but she was listening to every word. She couldn’t even bring herself to tell Frankie everything and part of her felt like she would be betraying some sort of unspoken bond between them. But there was just something about the tall brunette that made her feel like she could say things she couldn’t say to anyone else on the planet, including her own sister.

“Good now I don’t know about you but I’m beat I’m gonna head to bed. Hey look at that I rhymed, I’m a poet and didn’t even know it.” He chuckled at himself.

“Yeah me too. I haven’t exerted that much effort on anything in forever.”

Jamie flipped off the lights in the living room and they walked down the hall side by side. He stopped in front of his door directly across from Maggie’s and paused. “Night Mags, sweet dreams.”

“Night Shakespeare, and thanks.” She walked inside and heard her phone vibrating on the nightstand. She closed her door and sat on the edge of the bed staring at the blocked number. She was sure it wasn’t kids, it was him. She picked it up and turned it off before dropping it in the drawer and closing it. “Why even bother?” She whispered to the empty room before padding back into the living room to spend time with her old friend the DVD player.

*

*

*

Bianca woke up the next morning with a giddy little smile. She couldn’t remember the last time she had so much fun and the thought of having to go home brought an ache to her heart. Haven Bay felt more like home to her than Pine Valley ever had. She stretched and pushed the thought away, she still had at least a week and half before she really had to think about it. She climbed from the bed and walked into the kitchen to find Kendall sitting at the table reading the paper and a cup of coffee to her lips.

“Thank god you got some I don’t think I could do caffeine-less Kendall two days in a row.”

“Ha ha you’re such a riot.” She put her cup down “Did you sleep well?”

She sat across from her sister. “Amazingly.” She smiled brightly thinking of the dream she had about dancing with Maggie under the moonlight. The dream had ended with a kiss that made her feel like she had been strapped to a rocket headed for space. “So what are you up to today?”

“I haven’t the slightest clue I thought we would just play it by ear. We could go over to Main Street and walk around a while maybe get some lunch at this cute little café I know. Whatever you wanna do this is your vacation.” She had no doubt that if she could she would spend every waking moment with Maggie and she was both happy and sad about that. She knew if her sister invested anymore of herself she would just get her heart broken in the end but she couldn’t help but be elated to see the life coming back into her eyes.

“I hadn’t really thought about it. You live here so you know better than I do what there is to do and see.”

“Well we could take a drive and I’ll show you around town and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

“That sounds like a pretty good plan to me; first coffee then I’ll go get dressed.”

An hour later Kendall parked on Main Street and they climbed from the car.

“There’s this little bakery down the street that I think you’ll love. They make the most incredible pastries and you could kill yourself eating them. Oh and there’s a boutique on the corner.” She stepped up onto the sidewalk and linked her arm with her sister’s.

“This place really is gorgeous I should’ve come to visit you forever ago.”

“This is what I’ve been saying, see next time you’ll listen to your slightly older much wiser sister when I tell you something.”

*

*

*

Just down and across the street from them Maggie stood in the window of the radio station staring at the Saturday shoppers. “So me and Jamie hung out with Bianca and her sister Kendall last night.” she turned to look at Frankie who was searching through some papers on the small desk in the corner of the booth.

“And how did it go? Have you seen my playlist I know it was here yesterday.”

“No but I’ll help you look.” They switched places and Maggie started going through the desk. “I had fun, a lot of fun actually. Kendall lives right on the lake and after we ate we went for a walk, then me and Bianca decided to go for a swim. I mean I really didn’t think she would because you know, no bathing suits but she was totally up for it.”

Frankie was searching through the piles of folders on the table in front of the window when she glanced up and saw a dark haired girl throw her head back in laughter before turning to go into the antique shop across from them.

“Are you sure it was here because I don’t see it.” She kept talking without turning around. “We got to talk a little, me and Bianca I mean. Did you know her mom is Erica Kane? Crazy right? And she’s going to school to be a teacher, how amazing is that? And she’s here in town because she just broke up with her girlfriend and all of her friends are treating her just like everyone treats me, like I’m gonna break if they say the wrong thing so she knows exactly how it feels and….” She turned around to find her sister staring at her with wide eyes. “What?” her eyebrows dropped.

“I just remembered I need to get something…over there.” She pointed across the street. She had been listening and noticed that there seemed to be a very narrow focus to her sister’s rambling and she just happened to be across the street from them “Come on.” She grabbed Maggie’s hand and practically dragged her out of the station with blonde hair flying behind her.

“You need something in here?” she looked up and shook her head as they passed through the door. Her sister was nuts but she loved her. “Frankie…”

She looked around; the space was bigger than she had thought it would be. She had never in her life ventured into this place she had no use for antiques but there was a first for everything. She craned her neck and finally spotted her near the back of the building inspecting something. She moved slowly with Maggie in tow who was busy looking at the shelves full of old things and when they were close enough she discreetly peeled away.

Maggie didn’t notice when Frankie disappeared, she was too busy staring at a sterling silver chain with a single heart pendant hanging from it.

“I was looking at that earlier, beautiful isn’t it?” Bianca said walking up and standing next to her.

Maggie looked up and smiled “Yeah, beautiful.”

“Ah I see you’ve found our little treasure it just came in this morning. Oh Maggie it’s so nice to see you back in here again Thomas and I have missed you terribly.” The older woman said from behind the counter.

“Hello Mrs. Bell I’ve missed you and Mr. Bell too.” She gave her an unsure smile.

“Hello dear.” She turned a smile to the taller of the girls.

“Oh I’m sorry, Mrs. Bell this is Bianca, Bianca this is Mrs. Bell. Her and her husband were friends with my grandparents.”

“It’s very nice to meet you.” Bianca straightened and smiled at the woman.

“It’s lovely.” She gestured to the pendant.

“A young lady brought it to us. She said her grandmother wanted its magic to bring another couple together.”

“Magic?” Maggie looked up at her then flashed a quick glance at Bianca. That word seemed to be floating around a lot recently and she just now noticed that it hadn't started until Bianca came to town.

“Oh yes, would you like to hear the story she told me?”

They both nodded and waited while she pulled the necklace from beneath the counter and laid it on the glass gently.

“The story goes that they met right here in Haven Bay at the Marina. She was there with her family and he and a small crew had sailed over to meet some friends.” She looked up to see she had their undivided attention “He was at the bar and spotted her across the room and knew in that second that he was madly, head over heels in love with her.”

“Love at first sight.” Bianca breathed.

“Yes” she nodded. “Well she had been hurt terribly by love and was not willing to risk her heart again so no matter how many times he asked she wouldn’t go out with him. She told him they could be friends and he agreed hoping that in time she would come to love him too. He wanted to prove to her that he truly did love her and would do anything for her so he traveled the twenty miles to Haven Bay to see her every week. Now you have to remember that in those days all of the roads around here were unpaved. It was a long, unpleasant drive but he came rain or shine for nearly a year.”

“Now that’s what I call romantic.” Bianca sighed at the thought.

“One day while he was waiting for her he spotted this in a window and he knew that it was meant for him to give to her. He wasn't sure it was a good idea he didn't want to frighten her away but when she approached him he was sure that she was the one for him. So he sat her on a bench under this beautiful old oak tree, pulled the little box from his jacket pocket and put it in her hand. He watched her open it and when she pulled it free he told her that he would wait for as long as she needed, his heart was hers for eternity and if that’s how long he had to wait he would do so happily.”

“What happened?” Maggie asked eagerly. “Did she tell him she loved him too?”

“No” she shook her head “She took it but didn’t say anything except thank you. But he knew that in that small gesture that she loved him but was still afraid.”

“How long did he wait?” Maggie stared at the little silver heart.

“It was months after that when she finally told him that she had loved him from the moment they met she just wouldn’t allow herself to see or feel it. She was still too blinded by the pain but the day he gave her this” she held the chain between her fingers and the little heart swung slowly “she said she could see it in his eyes. He would never hurt her, he would love and protect her for the rest of his life. They were married for sixty years and the young woman told me that his last words to her before he passed were I’ll be waiting for you.” She smiled at the pair in front of her.

“Oh, that’s so amazing.” Bianca sniffled.

“I can see it in your eyes, you believe in that kind of love.” Mrs. Bell smiled kindly at the young woman.

“I did but now I’m not sure.” She shook her head sadly.

“And what about you Maggie?” she turned her gaze to the smaller girl who she knew had suffered through so much.

“I’m with her.” She nodded her head at Bianca “I did but now…” she shrugged. “Do you think any of that’s true?” She looked up to see Bianca wiping away a single tear.

“I hope so. I hope to find love like that one day. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.” She watched as Mrs. Bell settled the heart back on the little velvet pillow under the glass.

“You’re welcome and just as a little bit of history that oak tree is still there as is the bench. I hear it's quite a lovely spot, perhaps you two could take a stroll through Founders Park sometime and let me know if it's true." She failed to mention one thing in her story, the man had proposed to his love on that bench as had her own husband and countless others. "Now if there’s anything you need help with don't hesitate to give me a shout I’ll be around.” She closed the case and wandered away taking one last look over her shoulder at the couple at the counter and smiled before she disappeared into the back.

Maggie looked up and couldn’t for the life of her believe that Bianca hadn’t already found it. All she could think was that the women in Pine Valley must be insane to be passing her over because in her humble opinion the girl with the sparkling eyes was the most amazing person she had ever met.

“Sorry” she laughed “I’m such a sap. You can ask Jamie every time we watched anything even remotely romantic he knew to bring a box of Kleenex.”

“It’s okay. Actually the first time we watched a movie together he did that and at the time it confused me, now I know why he did it. You trained him well.” She laughed.

“Does he do the ‘oh I just got something in my eyes thing with you too?”

“Oh my god yes.” She nodded.

“And when he blows his nose he says his allergies are acting up?” she crooked disbelieving eyebrows.

Maggie laughed hard at that one. “It’s funny that the only time he has allergies is when we’re watching sappy movies.”

Across the store two heads turned to the sound of laughter and smiled.

Kendall turned back to the mirror image of the girl that was currently laughing at something her sister said. “I think it’s safe to say they’re having fun. I know Bianca could use some of that.”

“Yeah Maggie too. I know this is gonna sound corny but I think it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” She smirked when Kendall rolled her eyes and groaned.

“I so understand how you and Maggie ended up with Jamie. What I don’t get is how we’ve never met before I hear you on the radio all the time and I pass by the station almost every day.” She shook her curly hair.

“I guess we just don’t run in the same circle.” She shrugged. “So Jamie told me something yesterday that kind of shocked me…”

“That my sister is gay.” Kendall said before Frankie could finish.

Frankie vaguely remembered the words breakup and girlfriend somewhere in Maggie’s ramble about Bianca “That actually wasn’t it.” She craned her neck at the sound of her sister’s laugh and she squinted in her direction as the wheels in her head started to turn. There was that feeling again, something big was happening. “He told me that her mom, your mom is Erica Kane?” She brought her attention back to the conversation.

“Oh yeah that.” She waved a hand “I love that you’re more shocked by who our mother is than the fact that my sister is gay.”

“Well I’d have to say Erica Kane trumps pretty much, well, everything.” Bianca was turning out to be full of surprises and she wondered if Maggie knew this yet. She heard her again and tried to remember the last time she had heard her laugh like that. That full on, not a care in the world laugh that always came out of her so easily before that asshole had hurt her.

“I was thinking” Kendall said pulling her from her thoughts “We should all get together sometime, the five of us. We could barbeque, well Jamie could I don’t think anyone wants me to give it a try it would end up in sirens and big strapping fire men…hmm maybe I should try it.” She raised her eyebrows.

“Okay now I see why you’re friends with Jamie.” She laughed at the curly headed woman with a happy little smile on her face. Kendall and Bianca seemed like they were exactly the kind of people Maggie needed in her life. She had yet to hear anything about last night unless it was about Bianca but Kendall appeared to be just as cool and she silently thanked whoever was out there that brought all of them together. It was the strangest string of coincidences she had ever seen but then she didn’t believe in coincidence, what she did believe in was fate.

Maggie pulled her eyes away from the brunette and looked around finally realizing Frankie had wondered off “You haven’t seen my sister have you? She dragged me over here saying she needed something and then wandered off. She’s never stepped foot inside this place until now and we’ve lived here our whole lives.”

“Actually I think she’s talking to my sister.” She pointed across the store to their right. “Care to browse with me?”

“Is there anything else in here that will induce tears because if there is we might have to run out to grab some Kleenex first.”

Bianca laughed at her and Maggie felt a flutter in her chest and every time she heard the sound it got stronger. She had never felt a connection like this to anyone in her life before and it kind of scared her. She had no idea what to make of it or why she felt the urge to spill her soul to someone she barely knew but who she felt like she had known her entire life. Whatever it was the power of it was starting to overwhelm her and she didn't want to think about it anymore so she pushed it away and focused on helping Bianca guess the story behind each object.

"I think" Maggie squinted "that this was owned by some evil genius who had plans to take over the world with it."

"Maggie" Bianca laughed at her "it's an antique cappuccino machine."

"Yeah well it screams mustachioed super villain to me." she leaned closer and put her ear to it.

"What are you doing?" She eyed the blonde.

"I'm checking to see if it's ticking duh."

"Oh my god you're nuts." she laughed harder shaking her head. "Where were you when I was growing up because I sure could've used a friend like you."

Maggie smiled grandly at her but then it quickly slipped from her face and she felt like she was about to lose her breakfast.

“It’s all so pretty isn’t it? I love coming in here.”

Bianca turned to see Joni Stafford standing there smiling at them like the cat who had the canary cornered.

Chapter Text

Bianca felt that same shiver run through her and could swear she saw fields of ice in the other girl’s eyes.

“It’s nice to see you again.” She spoke to Bianca “How are you liking our little town so far?” Her eyes gleamed. She knew she had looked familiar when they met but now she knew exactly who Bianca was.

“I like it a lot actually.” She looked over at Maggie and smiled. “How are the wedding plans coming along?”

“Oh just great I think we have almost everything wrapped up. Your sister is just amazing and I’m so glad I decided to go with her instead of someone else.” She turned to Maggie “How are you?” her voice rose to peppy cheerleader level.

“I’m good how are you?” she asked quietly, unconsciously stepping closer to Bianca. She wanted to lash out at the girl standing in front of her, wanted to tell her just exactly what she thought of her and what she had done. She wanted to turn back into the old Maggie, the one who would stand up for herself and show this pit viper that it didn’t matter what anyone thought of her. She used to be proud of who she was but Jonathan had taken that from her and Joni finished the job. So now instead she cowered like a frightened child.

“Oh I’m just great” she gushed “I’m getting married to the most incredibly loving man and I couldn’t be happier. He’s just the sweetest thing ever and I swear he would never hurt a fly.” She looked pointedly at Maggie. “I sure wish you could find someone like my Gavin. He treats me like a princess and I’ve never so much as heard him raise his voice in anger.” She watched Maggie’s face go blank. The poor girl made this much too easy but it was still fun.

“That’s good I’m really happy for you.” She said around the painful lump in her throat. She just couldn’t understand how everything had gotten so screwed up, how this horrible excuse for a person could find happiness and all she found was multiple visits to the E.R. She wanted to let out the tears but it would just give Joni the satisfaction of breaking her, again.

“Thank you so much Maggie and I hope you’ll come to the wedding. I’ll be sending out the invitations in a few weeks maybe you can find someone who wouldn’t mind going with you.” One tear, just one was all she wanted but it seemed Maggie wasn’t going to let it go.

“I’m not sure….” She said weakly.

“I’m so sorry Joni I’m sure Maggie would like to go but we’ve already made plans for that weekend.” Bianca looked over at the small blonde. She had no idea what was going on but her use of the phrase 'wouldn't mind going with you' raised a huge red flag.

“Oh really what do you two have planned?”

“I invited Maggie to stay with me at my penthouse in Pine Valley. Jamie and I told her it would be a great place to open a second shop and since I’m well, let’s face it my mother is Erica Kane and I have plenty of money to invest. So I’m going to give her a tour of town and we can check out some locations. My mother is going to love you and while we’re there we can go on an outrageous shopping spree Pine Valley has the most incredible boutiques.” She watched Joni's eye tick. She had gotten the feeling that she was the materialistic type and it seemed she had chosen right weapon to fight her with.

“Well I'm sure Maggie will love that." She couldn't come up with anything to outdo that one. "Well I’ll let you two get back to your shopping I actually have a few more errands and I’m running late.” This wasn’t how she saw this going at all and she could feel the jealousy boiling just below the surface. How the hell did the human punching bag manage to end up on top, again? She turned around to make a quick exit and found a matching blonde staring at her from a few feet away with a smug grin on her face.

“Can you believe it Joni my sister is going to meet Erica Kane, isn’t she like, your idol or something? And a whole new wardrobe that would put yours to shame to go along with it? Boy I bet you wish you could be Maggie right now don’t you?”

The room crackled around them like someone had stuck a fork in a toaster and it went deathly silent. Kendall looked at Bianca who gave a small confused shake of her head and looked at Maggie who was now standing nearly on top of her. Out of pure instinct she stepped in front of Maggie while urging her gently with a hand to stand behind her. She had no idea what was going on but she knew something was very wrong when Maggie stepped closer and latched onto the back of her shirt. She reached around behind her with her left hand and placed it in the small of Maggie’s back trying to make her feel as safe as she possibly could.

“Hi Kendall” Joni smiled trying to keep her composure. She had no intention of acknowledging Frankie at all. “I would love to stay and chat but I was just on my way out.” She turned back to Bianca and noticed that the taller girl had seemed to move into a protective stance in front of Maggie and she cocked an interested eyebrow. “I hope you have a lovely trip.” She stepped around the still grinning blonde in front of her and retreated hastily through the front door.

“If I could put my hands around her neck and strangle her…” Kendall mumbled under her breath as they made their way to the door.

“Wedding planner huh?” Frankie said as she watched Maggie and Bianca cross the street. That had managed to turn out better than she would have thought.

“Unfortunately and I’m starting to wish I were a horrible person because I would love nothing more than to have it all blow up in her face, literally. Like Wile E. Coyote and some Acme dynamite or maybe an anvil can fall on her I’d pay to see that. If you ever get the urge to I don’t know say, beat the hell out of her in a dark alley give me a call.””

“Jamie will be my first call and you’ll be my second I promise.” She definitely liked Kendall. “I should get back to Maggie but we should hang out sometime, the four of us five if we dare to invite Jamie.”

“That sounds like a really good idea I’ll talk to Bianca about it but I’m sure she would love that.”

“Cool I’ll ask Maggie.” She stepped off the sidewalk waving as she crossed.

“Thank you.” Maggie said as they sat on the bench.

“For what?” Bianca asked.

“For not asking me what was going on or if I was okay or if I wanted to talk about it. And for what you said to her you didn’t have to-”

“I'm sorry if I overstepped but something about her rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like her and if I’m being totally honest I’ve never had the urge to slap a complete stranger before but I wanted to slap the crap out of her.”

“Most people do.” A small smirk graced her lips at the thought of Bianca going all She-Hulk on Joni.

“Yeah well she’s lucky I have more self-control than my mother otherwise she would be sporting a Bianca size handprint across her pretty little face.”

Maggie surprised herself when a laugh erupted from her. Normally after an encounter with Joni she would be curled up in a ball wishing she could just disappear but Bianca made it easier to deal with.

“Think that’s funny do you?” she smiled.

“Uh-huh.” She nodded.

“It might not look like it but if anyone messes with my family or my friends I defend them and I’m not afraid to chip a nail in the process.”

“Would you chip a nail for me?”

“I’d chip all of them for you.” She bumped Maggie’s shoulder. She would take on an army to defend Maggie if she had to. “I’d like to be your friend Maggie if you’ll have me.”

“I’d like that.” She said standing up when Frankie reached them. “I’d like that a lot.”

“Hey Magpie can you run inside and grab my bag for me? I think I left it in the booth.”

“Yeah sure, I’ll be right back.” She took a step back and disappeared through the door.

“Thank you.” Frankie said.

“For what?” she was having déjà vu.

“For what you did in there.”

Bianca shook her head lost as to what Frankie meant. “I didn’t do anything.”

She smiled at the brunette. Bianca had not only one upped Joni on Maggie’s behalf and physically protected her but she had no idea she had done it.

“Yeah, you did and I’ll never forget it.” She stepped away without another word leaving a very confused Bianca on the bench.

“What’s up?” Kendall asked sitting beside her.

“I have no clue.” She shook her head “Frankie thanked me but I don’t know what for. What did I miss?”

“Oh baby sister you’re just so…you.” She put her arm around her and squeezed “Come on let’s get to the bakery before all the good stuff is gone and maybe it’ll dawn on you.” She pulled her up and they walked slowly down the sidewalk arm in arm.

Joni stood on the corner out of sight with her phone practically shoved in her ear. “Trevor this is Joni how would you like to make a little extra money with that camera of yours?” This was far from over and now the gloves were off. If they wanted to take her on she was more than willing to fight and she didn’t have a problem with fighting dirty.

*

*

*

“What’cha thinkin’ about?” Kendall asked walking through the sliding door and joining Bianca on the back porch. She rested her arms on the railing and bumped her sister’s shoulder. She had been quiet the rest of the morning and she had given Bianca her space but now curiosity was eating at her.

“Too much” She stared out into the afternoon sun bouncing off of the lake’s surface. “That girl Joni there’s something off about her and I don’t like the feeling I get around her. Did she do something to Maggie?”

Kendall was quiet for a minute. “Those pictures of Maggie I told you about, the ones the hospital took for the police? They think it was her that leaked them.”

“Oh, Maggie.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “That explains her reaction in the antique shop. I thought she was going to crawl into my arms. I wish I would’ve known I would’ve told her exactly what I thought of her.”

“I think you did a pretty good job she slinked out of there with her tail between her legs. Besides I think you did one better than that you know what they say right? Actions speak louder than words.”

“I don’t understand Kendall I didn’t do anything.”

“God I love it when you’re clueless it makes me feel all smart and stuff.” She laughed at the exasperated look she received. “You went all bodyguard and put yourself between Maggie and what you felt was a threat to her. You willingly became her human shield and that’s why Frankie thanked you. You didn’t even notice you did it.”

“It was just instinct, to protect her I mean.”

“Would you have done that for Lena?” she asked sincerely.

“I’ve never thought about it. I wouldn’t want to see her get hurt but I guess I always thought that her battles were hers to fight and had nothing to do with me.”

“Would you do it for me and mom? For Uncle Jack?”

“Without a second’s hesitation. You’re my family I love you and I would do anything for you.”

“And you did that for Maggie today you had that instinct to protect the one’s you love.” At her sister’s quiet sigh she reached over and covered Bianca’s hands with her own. She knew her sister was gone the second she had mentioned Maggie’s name but she was afraid of what was going to happen, what she knew was inevitable. Bianca’s heart was going to get broken.

“How did this happen Kendall? One day I’m not sure I’m even capable of loving someone and the next, what? I’m in love? It doesn’t happen like that it’s not supposed to happen like that.”

“That’s love it sneaks up and bites you when you least expect it, or want it to.”

“Why of all people did it have to be someone I know I can’t be with? Am I supposed to learn something from this? Because if I am I’m completely lost as to what it is.”

“I don’t know.” She wrapped her arm around her shoulder and pulled her in tighter “We’ll figure this out.” She was at a loss, she had no idea how to make this better. She wasn’t sure it could be made better but she was sure as hell going to try because there was no way she was going to stand aside and watch her sister fall apart.

*

*

*

“Hey Mags which shirt do you think looks better?” Jamie held them up one in each hand.

“The black one.” She said barely looking up from her face down position on her bed. It had been hours since her encounter with Joni but she just couldn’t get it out of her head. And it didn’t really have to do so much with Joni as it did a certain brunette. She grunted and threw herself over onto her back.

“What’s up? Did something happen?” he dropped his arms and moved further into the room.

She stared at the ceiling “I ran into Joni today at the antique shop. I was walking around with Bianca and she came up behind us with that annoying cheery voice and acted like we were friends or something. You know she invited me to her wedding?” She rolled onto her side and curled up into a ball “I wish I had the nerve to tell her off, or hit her. I’d really like to hit her.”

The admission shocked Jamie but he managed to keep the surprise off of his face. Old Maggie would have probably done it this Maggie was more the ignore it and hope it goes away type. Old Maggie was finally starting to fight to get out.

“That’s not really it though. I know whenever Joni is around what’s going to happen and I know how it’s gonna make me feel. It doesn’t make it any easier but at least I know to expect it.” She traced circles in the blanket while she thought about what she wanted to say. “But there’s something that I don’t expect and every time it happens it surprises me.”

“You can talk to me Mags. Whatever it is I’ll do my best to help.” He sat and put his hand over hers stilling her movements.

She looked up into his eyes and pushed herself to speak. “It’s Bianca.” She stared at their hands.

“Okay, what about her?”

“The way she is, the way I am when she’s around. She said she wants to be my friend and I want her to be but it scares me.”

“Why? Bianca is the least scary person I know.”

“Because, she makes me feel…safe and if I feel safe I’ll let my guard down. What if one day I just forget that he’s out there? What if he comes back? What if…” her voice dropped to barely a whisper “What if she gets hurt because of me? He threatened Frankie once and I knew he would go through with it if I didn’t…didn’t do as I was told.”

“Maggie why didn’t you ever tell me that?” He fought to keep his composure and not run off to find Jonathan and put his face through a brick wall.

“I was afraid of what he would do if he knew I said anything. I didn’t want to pull either of you into my nightmare I wanted to keep him as far from the people I love as I could.”

“I wasn’t afraid of him Maggie I could’ve helped. I could have done something.”

“That’s why I didn’t tell you. I know you would’ve done something and you would’ve ended up in jail, or worse. That night…that night he…” she wiped at a stray tear before it hit the bed beneath her “If you wouldn’t have been there that night I wouldn’t be here.”

“Don’t think like that you are here and that’s all that matters. You’re safe Frankie is safe and I don’t think you have to worry about him Mags nobody has seen or heard from him since he got out of the loony bin. If he showed his face around here I can guarantee you he wouldn’t be around for very long. You can’t live the rest of your life afraid you have to take back control and I think being friends with Bianca is a pretty good place to start. Just give it a chance and if you feel like it’s too much just tell her she’ll understand she probably won’t like it but she’ll respect your decision.”

“What do you mean she probably won’t like it? Would she get mad at me?”

“No that’s not what I mean. She’s the kind of person that hates to see people in pain and will do everything and anything she can to help. She’s really smart about this kind of stuff and she always seems to know what to do and what will make things better.”

“I don’t think a time machine and a magic wand could make this better. But I’ll try it never hurts to try right?” she looked up with hopeful eyes.

“Right. Why don’t you call her it’s still early enough maybe you can invite her over and have a sappy movie fest or something. She’s a sucker for those things but if you do make sure you bring the Kleenex she’s a crier just like you.” He winked at her.

“I don’t think I’m really up for that right now I think I’m just gonna call Frankie and see if she wants to come over.”

“Okay.” He stood up “If you need anything call me.”

“I’m not gonna call you while you’re on a date. What if you get lucky I don’t want to hear that.”

“Well I wouldn’t answer I’d wait until after then call you back. Geez what kind of guy do you think I am?”

“A pervy one.” She threw a pillow at him as he walked out of the room laughing.

She picked up her phone and hit 1 on the speed dial and waited for her sister to pick up.

“Okay.” Jamie poked his head into the room a few minutes later. “I’m headed out call me if you need anything, seriously.”

“I’ll be fine Frankie is on her way go have fun.”

“I’ll catch you later.”

“I won’t wait up.”

He smiled and disappeared leaving Maggie alone to wait for Frankie.

*

*

*

From down the street he watched with bloodshot eyes as Jamie backed out of the driveway. “She thinks she can replace me huh? She was probably screwing him the whole time we were together, damn whore. She thinks it was bad before she ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” He put the bottle to his lips and turned it straight up feeling it burn as he swallowed it in gulps. She was going to pay big time for what she had done to him and he was going to enjoy every second of it. He picked up his phone and dialed. She didn’t answer but it didn’t matter, she knew it was him and she knew she couldn’t get away no matter how hard she tried.

Chapter Text

“Hey I brought pizza.” Frankie said as she walked through the door. “I have to tell ya I was surprised you called. I thought you and Jamie had a standing date for the movies on Saturday night.”

“He finally got himself an actual date and I wasn’t going to ask him to cancel. He needs a life outside of me.” She shut the door behind them “So I thought we could hang out it’s been a while since we’ve done this.”

“Well I’m happy you called otherwise I would be spending the evening talking to my plants and I get the impression they don’t much care for my company. I don’t know what it is but they keep giving me the cold shoulder.” She plopped herself on the couch and waited for her sister to join her. “Maggie?” she turned to find that she hadn’t moved from the door.

“I’ve taken so much from him. I’ve been so wrapped up in myself that I haven’t even thought about what I’m doing to him.”

“Whoa let’s not start that. You haven’t done anything to him” she got back up, took her sister’s hand and guided her to the couch. She pushed the pizza box aside and sat on the coffee table in front of Maggie. “Where is this coming from?”

“For the last year he’s put his life on hold to help me and I haven’t done a single thing to make this better. I just keep going in circles and ending up right back where I started. What if I can’t get better? I can’t expect him to take care of me for the rest of his life that isn’t fair but I don’t know how to fix this, how to fix myself. I feel like I’m drowning and every time I get the courage to scream for help all I get is a mouthful of water.” She closed her eyes and dropped her head into her lap. “Frankie?”

“Yeah Magpie?”

“Where do I start?”

“I think this is a pretty good place.” She moved from the table to the couch and rubbed her hand up and down Maggie’s back “I’ll do anything I can to help you, you just say the word.”

“Word.” Maggie mumbled and picked her head up when Frankie laughed at her.

“I have an idea, and, we don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I thought maybe we could get out of here for a little while.”

“I don’t know Frankie…” she stared back into the hopeful eyes of her sister. “Where did you wanna go?”

“I was thinking to the Burger Palace?”

“It’s Saturday night that place is gonna be packed, everyone will be staring at me.”

“Hey I’ll be right there if anyone says anything I’ll take ‘em out at the knees. I’m short I don’t have far to go.” She smiled.

Maggie could only laugh. “Okay but promise me that if I ask to leave we will no questions.”

“I promise. Come on we’ll take your car.”

Maggie grabbed her keys and they headed out the door. She looked at the car wishing the top hadn’t suddenly decided it didn’t want to move. She had fought with it for an hour, pulling and tugging but it refused to budge and had she remembered that fact she wouldn’t have agreed to go in her car. She slid in behind the wheel and backed out of the driveway not quite sure why she had agreed to this little outing.

 Neither one of them noticed when a black car pulled out from down the street and started following them. 

*

*

*

Maggie slowed the car when they reached Burger Palace and stared into the packed parking lot. The car hops skated around what looked like a million people to Maggie as Bill Haley blared out of the sound system. She was already regretting agreeing to this but she pulled into the lot and parked next to a black Toyota. She felt like every set of eyes had turned to her and wanted nothing more than to sink under the dashboard and tell her sister to take them out of there. But then she saw her, through a gap in the crowd sitting with her sister and laughing was the girl who seemed to be occupying her thoughts every second of the day. Maybe this hadn’t been the worst idea her sister had ever had.

Frankie turned her head to say something when she noticed Maggie’s eyes were super glued to something. She spotted Kendall and Bianca sitting at a table under the pavilion not very far from them just as Shake, Rattle and Roll was replaced by I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You. Now the wheels were spinning at ludicrous speed.

You’re too good to be true

Can’t take my eyes off of you

You’d be like heaven to touch

I wanna hold you so much

At long last love has arrived

And I thank God I’m alive

You’re just too good to be true

Can’t take my eyes off of you

It was almost like Maggie was in a trance, sitting forward with her chin resting on the steering wheel and her smile growing wider every time she saw the brunette toss her head back and laugh.

Pardon the way that I stare

There’s nothing else to compare

The sight of you leaves me weak

There are no words left to speak

But if you feel like I feel

Please let me know that it’s real

You’re just too good to be true

Can’t take my eyes off of you

 She could feel eyes on her. Bianca turned from her seat at the table and locked eyes with a tiny smiling blonde.

 I love you baby and if it’s quite all right

I need you baby to warm the lonely nights

I love you baby, trust in me when I say

Oh pretty baby, now that I’ve found you stay

And let me love you baby, let me love you

Frankie watched the completely wordless interaction. If she could capture the electricity flowing around them it would be enough to power a large city for a hundred years. She turned to say something to her sister when the song ended and the whole place erupted into The Twist. She watched as Maggie craned her neck trying to find her in the crowd and the smile slipped from her face when the brunette was no longer in her line of sight. She had been right about that life altering feeling she had gotten at the shop just days ago, this was it and if she sat back and did nothing then the whole universe would be out of whack. There was only one obstacle in her way and it just happened to be sitting two feet to her left. She couldn’t let Maggie miss out on something that was once in a lifetime but she couldn’t push her into this either. Maggie would have to figure this out for herself but that didn’t mean she couldn’t help her along.

“Come on let’s go order while everyone is busy giving themselves leg cramps.” Frankie said just as she saw them slip out of the crowd and head toward them laughing.

Bianca headed right for them the second they emerged from the throng of dancers. “Hey” she said coming up on Maggie’s side “did you see that? I thought things like that only happened in musicals.” She laughed. “I love to watch people dance they look like they’re having so much fun.”

“You don’t like to dance?” Maggie said pulling herself up to sit on the back of the seat.

“No I like to dance I just can’t do that.” She pointed at the crowd “I can sway with the best of them but if I tried it would end up in broken bones and probably not my own.” She shook her head.

“I can teach you if you want it’s a lot easier than it looks.” Maggie’s heart faltered in her chest before picking back up. Had those words really just come out of her mouth?

Behind her Frankie’s eyebrows climbed as high as they could go and tried to keep going.

“Really? Because I’m afraid I’d be just as hopeless at that as I am at cooking.” Hadn’t Jamie told her that Maggie didn’t dance anymore?  

“No one is hopeless and I’ve been told I’m a pretty good teacher.” The words kept coming out of her mouth and she couldn’t stop them. That was the effect Bianca had on her. She was offering to do the one thing she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to do again.

“Only if you’re sure you wanna risk broken toes. And I promise if I break them I’ll make it up to you by playing nurse.” What the hell was it about Maggie that made her keep saying things like that? She didn’t dare turn around because she knew what she would find if she did.

Behind her Kendall’s eyes nearly bugged out of her head and she struggled to keep from pitching over into the gravel. Laughing would not be at all helpful right now. It was a good thing Bianca’s back was to her because she knew that if she could see her sister’s face she would have lost that struggle. Her poor sister, when the flirting was intentional it was painful to watch, when it was unintentional it was hilarious.

“So are you two headed out?” Frankie asked peering around Maggie to a very red faced Bianca. Whether it was as a friend or something more she was sure that Maggie would never find anyone better than the blushing brunette. She would need to come up with a way to test her theory because just asking Maggie outright wasn’t an option. She didn’t seem to be aware of it herself and she wasn’t going to risk pushing her to answer questions she wasn’t ready for. What she needed now was a plan of action and some co-conspirators.

“Actually we were.” Bianca said not really wanting to leave now.

“Why don’t you come back to the house with us?” Maggie threw out the suggestion quickly. She didn’t want them to leave and she really didn’t want to stay there.

“But you just got here goofy, don’t you wanna eat?”

“We really just came to get out of the house for a little bit. There’s an abandoned pizza sitting on the coffee table we can inhale if we get hungry.”

Frankie saw her chance and jumped at it “Come on it’ll be fun, a girl’s night. Jamie is out on a date so we don’t have to worry about hearing any of his pervy fantasies. What do you say?”

“Kendall?” she turned to her sister with hopeful eyes. She wanted to spend time with Maggie but wasn’t sure it was a good idea if they were alone. This way she had chaperones and there was no risk.

“We’ll follow you lead the way.” She broke. She could never tell Bianca no.

“How about I ride with you” Frankie said to Kendall “and Bianca you can ride with Maggie.” She didn’t wait for an answer she was already climbing over the seat and hopping out of the car behind Maggie. She needed to pick Kendall’s brain to see if she had noticed anything between Bianca and her sister.

Well there goes that Bianca thought as she shrugged at Kendall and moved around to slide in beside Maggie. This wasn’t how she was expecting the night to go but she sure wasn’t going to complain about taking a moonlit ride in a convertible with a gorgeous blonde.

The second the door closed behind her Frankie jumped in with both feet. “Does Bianca say things like that a lot because that was funny as hell.”

Kendall backed out of the space and headed for the exit. “Not really, only when she’s…” She closed her mouth unsure if she should say anything or not.

“Attracted to someone?” Frankie finished. “Her face was redder than an albino with sunburn.”

Kendall couldn’t help but laugh at her assessment “Bianca has always had bad gaydar but I promise she won’t make Maggie uncomfortable or make a move on her or anything she isn’t like that.”

“Don’t worry I didn’t think she was.” That was going to make this harder she didn’t think Maggie would either, assuming that her suspicions were right. Short of Bianca planting a kiss on her that set her hair on fire she would never believe she really liked her and therefore would do nothing about it.

“Okay look” Kendall had to tell her “Bianca just got out of a relationship that really messed with her head and I don’t want to see her get hurt all over again but I think it might be too late. I don’t really like the idea of them spending so much time together because Maggie will never be able to love her like she wants. It’s not your sister’s fault it’s not like she can help who’s attracted to her and I’m sure she has no clue that Bianca likes her and I know for a fact she’ll never tell her. She’s the suffer in silence type and no offense but when she goes home I hope she forgets Maggie.”

“No offense taken you’re her sister and you’re just trying to protect her trust me if anyone gets that it’s me. But I feel like I should tell you that since the day they met Maggie hasn’t really been acting like herself.”

“How do you mean?” she glanced at Frankie then turned her attention back to the road.

“She’s more…Maggie.” She shrugged “I know you have no idea what that means but if you would’ve known her before she got involved with that psycho asshole you would notice the difference right away. When she talks about Bianca it’s like everything else just goes away, Jamie told me that she has that effect on people but it’s more than that. Did you know Maggie used to dance? Every Saturday at Johnny’s, she never missed the chance to get out there but after Jonathan she stopped going, stopped dancing at all. When she said she would teach your sister, it was all I could do to not bounce up and down and clap with glee like a little kid who had just been given exactly what she wanted for Christmas.”

“Wow I didn’t know. So this is like a really big deal then. And you think this change in her has something to do with Bianca?”

“I think it has everything to do with her. I’ve never seen anyone affect her the way your sister has and I wish I knew why. This is gonna sound a little off the wall but I’m starting to wonder if, buried deep inside where she isn’t aware of it, that maybe Maggie has a….uh…crush…on Bianca?”

“Are you asking me or telling me?” she cocked an eyebrow at her.

“I’m telling you that I think it’s a possibility. Her head has been screwed up for a long time and she doesn’t see things as clearly as she used to. He put a lot of crap in her head and sometimes I don’t think she knows what’s real and what’s him. I think with Bianca she sees what’s real, she makes it all go away and all that’s left is Maggie.”

“Okay and…” she prodded. She knew there was more to this.

“Aaannnd in order for me to figure out if I’m right or way off base I need to know anything you might have noticed. I’m gonna talk to Jamie as soon as I get the chance and ask him the same thing. I need evidence either confirming or refuting my suspicions and the more information I have the better.”

“So you want to know what I’ve seen. Well…” she paused to think “there was what happened at the antique store.”

“You mean when Bianca was trying to protect her from the bottle blonde bitch?”

“Oh my god is that what you call her? I’ve never heard a more perfect description of anyone in my life. But no that’s not what I’m talking about you must not have noticed. Maggie was practically clinging to her. Is that the kind of stuff you wanna know?”

“Yes and no. I mean it does help because it tells me she feels safe with her but I’m looking more for things that would tell me if she’s…feeling anything more than friendship or gratitude or whatever.”

“Ah you mean longing glances, finding reasons to be near her or touch her. Flirting. Why didn’t you just say that, that I can help you with I’m a professional flirt and can spot it from a mile away. With that said other than last night when they came over I haven’t seen them together enough to be able to give you anything solid or reliable. Why do I suddenly feel like I’m in some cheesy detective show?”

“Because that’s pretty much what we’re doing, we’re detecting.”

“We? When did I get recruited?”

“Just now, consider yourself part of the Scooby gang.”

“Fantastic just so long as I get to be Daphne that whole nerdy thing Velma has going on doesn’t really work for me.”

“Fine Jamie can be Velma.”

Kendall snorted “That’s funny because I don’t think he’s gonna protest.”

“Okay Daphne this is strictly recon. We watch and listen but do not interfere, once we know the target’s intentions then we go in guns blazing.”

“So we’ve gone from detectives to Rambo? Is the goal to blow her up or discover her dormant fondness for boobs?”

“Oh my god I feel like I’m talking to Jamie, focus Kendall.”

“Can we call it Operation Tata’s? Please oh please oh please?” She batted her lashes.

“Ugh only because I know you’re gonna tell Jamie and I’m gonna get out voted. Operation Tata’s is a go.” She groaned when the ridiculous name came out of her mouth. She had a feeling she was going to be hearing it a lot.

*

*

*

“So how long have you and Jamie lived together?” She asked as they exited the parking lot. This was the first time she had really been alone with Maggie and she was having trouble reining in her thoughts. She wanted to slide over and snuggle up on the tiny girls shoulder.

“Almost a year.” She said remembering the day he had basically blackmailed her into saying yes.

“You’re being discharged in a week and you need someone to help you. Why don’t you move in with me until you’re completely healed?”

“Jamie I’ll be fine.” She said grimacing at the pain shooting up her casted arm. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had to do this.”

“I know but it would make me feel better. I don’t like the thought of you being alone.”

She noticed him trying to keep his eyes away from the bandage covering most of the left side of her face. The doctor said there would most likely only be a small scar but it didn’t matter how big or small it was. It would still be there.

“I told you I’ll be fine.” Fine, that was funny. She had been telling him that for a month and she still didn’t believe it. Nothing would ever be fine again.

“Then I’m moving in with you. I’ll rent out the house.”

“Jamie that’s insane. I’m not letting you give up your house to move into a tiny apartment.” She tried to focus on him but her left eye was blurry and she was seeing two of him.

“It’s up to you, you and me in my nice big house with the alarm system or the two of us crammed into a sardine can of an apartment. Either way it’s gonna happen.”

“You’re not gonna take no for an answer are you?”

“Not a chance so which is it?”

“I’m only gonna stay until this thing comes off then I’m finding my own place. Deal?”

“Deal.”

“You and Frankie already moved my stuff didn’t you?”

“Your room is all set up for when you get out.”

“I was only supposed to stay for a little while but after I moved in…” she shrugged and turned a corner.

“You felt safe there.” She finished for her. “I know, I always felt safer when I was with Jamie. Whenever anything bad happened he would wrap me up in his arms and I felt like nothing could get to me as long as he was there.”

“Yeah exactly. If it weren’t for Jamie I” her voice cracked and she swallowed hard forcing herself to say it “I wouldn’t be here.”

Chapter Text

Bianca watched her and her heart broke as she watched the emotions play out on her face under the passing street lights. She waited not wanting to break the silence that had settled over them. She wasn’t going to push her to talk but she would listen if she wanted to.

“I was with him for just over a year and it seemed like the longer we were together the angrier he would get.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “The only time I felt safe was with Jamie but near the end the only time I spent with him was at work and I was so afraid to go home I would find any excuse to have to stay late. But that made Jonathan angry too.”

“You were afraid to stay and you were afraid to go.” She glanced over wishing she could take the memories and pain from her.

“Yeah. You must think I’m weak, for not having the courage to leave him. That’s what everyone thinks.” she didn’t want to look over into Bianca’s eyes, she was sure she would see pity in them.

“No. I think you’re probably the strongest person I’ve ever met. I don’t know very many people who could have gone through that and come out the other side still standing. You didn’t let him break you.”

“But I did. When I look in the mirror I see a stranger staring back at me.” She lifted her hand and smoothed a finger over the line that creased her eyebrow. “I don’t feel like the same person I was before. If you would’ve known me before I met him you would see.”

“I think you know exactly who you are you’re just having trouble getting back to her again. You’re seeing yourself through everyone else’s eyes and not through your own and you feel stuck. You want to be you again but you’re afraid of what people think. When I was sixteen” she started “I was outed in a tabloid. My picture was splashed across the cover and in big white letters it said Erica Kane’s Lesbian Daughter.”

Maggie didn’t speak, just waited for her to continue.

“I was so afraid of what everyone would think of me that for nearly a month I refused to leave my room. I was so sure they would hate me that people would cross the street just so they didn’t have to be near me. I had convinced myself that I knew exactly what everyone thought of me and to some extent I was right. But to the people who truly loved me it didn’t change the way they thought of me or the way they saw me. I was still the same person I had always been.

“What changed?”

“I had a choice, either I let them get to me or I don’t. It was really hard but I had to force myself to stop caring about what everyone else’s opinion of me was. I had to realize that the only thing that mattered is what I thought of myself. If I cared what they all thought I would still be in that room hiding from the world and that’s not a life. You’re still the same person you’ve always been and you should be proud of who you are Maggie. I only know you after Jonathan and I think you’re pretty amazing and there’s not a single thing you could tell me that would make me think otherwise.”

Maggie didn’t say anything as she maneuvered the big car through the streets. Frankie and Jamie still saw her the same way they had before and they did their best to treat her that way. They had both told her the same thing not that long ago but she hadn’t really heard the words. But it wasn’t the same they didn’t understand what it felt like to be exposed and to have people look at them differently. Bianca understood better than anyone else in her life how she felt. She pulled into the driveway, turned the car off and released her seatbelt. She wanted to say something but had no idea what, thank you sounded lame, I’m sorry you had to go through that was even worse. Without putting much thought behind it she leaned over and quickly dropped a kiss on Bianca’s cheek before climbing from the car and practically running for the front door, leaving it open behind her for the taller girl to follow.

“Well that was unexpected.” She put her fingers over where Maggie’s lips had grazed her skin and smiled before getting out and bouncing to the door to join the others inside.

*

*

*

His grip on the bottle tightened when he saw Maggie lean over and kiss the dark haired girl in the car with her. “Friggin’dyke bitch.” He spit before throwing the car into gear and taking off down street. His plan would need to be changed, now he had two that needed to be taught a lesson. Maggie was his and there was no way some rich lesbo was taking her from him. Jamie would have to be taken out of the picture so he could enjoy his time with them he couldn’t have any disruptions while he was educating the slut and her new girlfriend.

*

*

*

Bianca walked in the open door with a smile on her face and closed it behind her “Where’d they go?” she sat next to Kendall who had taken a seat against the arm of the couch.

“They’re in the kitchen they’ll be right back” she pointed to the doorway across from the one Bianca had just come through “So what’s the goofy grin for?” she bumped her sister’s shoulder.

Bianca tucked a lock of hair and felt a small blush creep up her neck “Maggie kissed me.” She kept her voice low and with near reverence put her fingertips on her cheek. It still tingled.

“Bianca.” Kendall admonished softly.

“I know, I know, but I can’t help it and I’m not sure I would stop what I’m feeling even if I could. I know she’s straight Kendall and I’m not expecting her to fall madly in love with me but just for a little while can’t I pretend?”

“It’s your heart Binks and all I can do is tell you to be careful with it. I know how much you want to find love and I want that for you too but I’m just not sure this is the right way to go about this.” She looked into her sister’s eyes and could see a light that until now she hadn’t noticed. Love looked good on her and she was really hoping Maggie turned out to be as queer as a big pink elephant in a rainbow tutu.

*

*

*

“Okay Maggie what was so important that we had to talk about it right now?” Frankie said peering in through the back door that Maggie had practically dragged her through.

“I did something, and I don’t know why I did it but I did and now I’m not sure what to do about it or even if I should do anything about it maybe I should just…”

“Breathe.” she put her hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. “Breathe and tell me what you did.”

Maggie sucked in a breath and let it out slowly “On the way here I told Bianca a little about me and Jonathan. About how afraid I was of him.”

“Wow, Magpie that’s huge.” She said quietly.

“Are you…are you mad at me?” she looked down at her hands which were currently strangling each other.

“Why would I be mad?” she knitted her brows together trying to figure out what was going through her head.

“Because she’s practically a stranger and you’re my sister. I should be talking to you…”

“Magpie...I do want you to talk to me but this isn’t about me it’s about you. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as you talk about it, get it out, it’s the only way you’ll start to heal. But can I ask why her?”

“I don’t know” she shrugged “we were just talking and I told her how I always felt safe with Jamie and she told me she always felt safe with him too and I feel the same way when I’m with her but it’s a different kind of safe and am I making any sense to you because I don’t feel like I’m making much sense to myself.”

“You sure do have a way with the run on sentence don’t you?” she smirked then continued “I think you just have to give it time to work itself out in your head. You’ll figure this all out and I’ll be here to help and so will Jamie.  Come on let’s go back inside we don’t want them to think we’re rude.” She opened the door and let Maggie move ahead of her. It all made perfect sense to her but she was in a better position to see it more clearly and Maggie would need to work through her own feelings until she could see it for herself.  

“Hey” Bianca brightened when they came through the door.

“Hey.” Maggie said quietly shoving her hands in the back pocket of her jeans. She could feel the faint tickle of butterfly wings in her stomach as she stood there and she wondered where they had come from. They hadn’t been there earlier she would have noticed. Okay maybe she wouldn’t have, she’d been so wrapped up in her own head for so long that she didn’t notice much of anything anymore. It was probably just nerves she had just told Bianca things she didn’t tell anybody. She didn’t trust anyone else enough to let them into her private world but Bianca wasn’t just anyone else and she hadn’t been from the moment they shared the same air.

“So” Frankie broke into the deafening silence. Now was as good a time as any to get the ball rolling “do you wanna see exactly what kind of dancing Magpie here wants to teach you? You might change your mind after you do.”

Maggie whipped her head around with panic in her eyes. She had offered but Bianca hadn’t specifically said she wanted to learn and she had hoped she would forget. At the second the words had come out of her mouth she had meant it but in just the little time that had gone by she knew it had been a mistake. She wouldn’t be able to bring herself to dance without thinking of him and she wouldn’t be able to keep the memories at bay. They would take over and she would be lost to them.

Frankie looked at Maggie and knew that she was pushing but she was doing it for her own good. She was okay with Maggie being angry with her as long as it meant she was moving forward and putting the past behind her. She had to deal with it to move beyond it and if this is what it took then so be it. She stood in front of the T.V. and plucked a DVD from the shelf and popped it into the player.

Maggie moved to stand behind the couch where she was out of their direct line of sight. What she really wanted to do was run for the safety of her room but she didn’t want to have to answer the questions she knew would come after her hasty retreat.

“This was during a dance competition at Jivin’ Johnny’s about two years ago.” She looked at Maggie who was half turned like she was preparing to bolt “The last dance and Mags pulled out all the stops and to this day people still talk about.” She pushed play and they watched.

“Ladies and gentlemen” The camera focused on Frankie who was on the stage in front of the turntable. “This is the last dance and we have three couples left fighting for the title of Johnny’s Best. So if I could have them on the floor.”

The crowd erupted into applause and whistles as they made their way into the center of the floor. Two couples stood and waited while the crowd continued to whoop and holler waiting for the third. Then they came, Maggie pulling Jamie in tow who was trying to stuff half a hot dog into his mouth.

“We’re here” she yelled over the noise stopping in the center of the floor with the other couples “Sorry you know how he is when it comes to food. I swear if there was ever a fire he would save the refrigerator before he’d save me.” She let out an exaggerated oomph when he elbowed her in the ribs and the crowd laughed.

There was a sharp intake of breath from the couch when the camera moved around and focused on the last couple to join. Three sets of eyes glanced at her but she was completely oblivious to anything other than the tiny blonde filling the screen. She took in every inch of her, from the coral circle skirt with a white petticoat peeking out to the simple white short sleeve button up separated by a black cinch belt and she thought the nineteen fifties had never looked so good. Her tanned skin was a stark contrast to the whiteness of her shirt and the top two buttons were undone showing just enough to make her wonder just how much skin that tan covered.

“Okay well now that you’re all here how about we get this thing going? The last song of the night will be….” She put her hand into a box and pulled out a scrap of paper. “Oh this is gonna be good, get ready to boogie people.” She moved back to the turntable “Take your positions and get ready ‘cuz here are The Jester’s with Oh Baby...”

The camera moved to the edge of the crowd where it could take in all the action as the quick rhythm of the song beat its way through the speakers.

Bianca was enraptured. A tornado could come along lift the house and drop it in the next county and she wouldn’t notice. She watched as Maggie’s image walked away from Jamie then laughed with unbridled joy as he grabbed her by the waist and spun her around, watched as she twirled away and back again. She had never seen anyone so at ease with themselves or as alive as Maggie did on that dance floor. And what she could finally see was the difference between the girl that she had been before Jonathan and the one she was after him. She could feel her heart shattering in her chest and the familiar ache in her throat as she tried to hold back the tears. They would not help Maggie and she knew that if she turned around to look at the real live thing standing behind her she would lose it.

“Kendall.” she said quietly looking at her with glassy, pleading eyes.

Kendall blinked at her about to ask what was wrong when she saw the unshed tears threatening to spill over. She stood, reached down for her sister and pulled her up. “Go, I’ll figure something out.” She whispered.

Bianca walked to the door holding her arms tightly around herself and stepped out without saying a word.

“I’m sorry” she shook her head and stepped closer to Frankie pulling a business card from her purse “My cell is on there call me tomorrow and I’ll explain. Just trust me when I tell you that this isn’t the best place for her right now. Please make sure Maggie understands that this isn’t a reflection on her Bianca would never forgive herself if she thought she hurt her in anyway.”

Frankie bobbed her head once and watched Kendall walk out the door closing it softly behind her. She turned to look at Maggie who looked even more confused than she felt.

“Now she’s seen who I was. Why did you have to show them that, that girl is gone and nobody wants to be around me the way I am now. They want her and I can’t be her anymore.” She glanced at her own image then turned and walked to her room. She didn’t even have the energy to slam the door it just closed with a barely audible click leaving Frankie alone in the living room with the sound of Maggie laughing behind her.

She turned to the T.V. to see a radiant smile and wondered if there would ever be a time when she would see that again without having to watch a video. She sighed “Maggie you have to stop running.”

Chapter Text

“Maggie?” Frankie knocked on the door “Magpie?” she turned the knob and pushed it open when she got no response.

“She doesn’t want to be friends with me” her back was to the door and Frankie had to strain to hear her “she wants to be friends with her.”

Frankie moved to the edge of the bed and sat “You don’t really think that’s true do you?”

“Why else would she just…leave like that? She didn’t even look at me and I don’t blame her. I would be trying to get as far away from me as possible too if I were her.”

“Maggie.” She sighed. She was just as clueless as her sister about Bianca’s odd exit but Kendall had told her that it wasn’t exactly about Maggie. It was cryptic but she believed her when she said it. “Kendall wanted me to make sure you know that Bianca left because she was…overwhelmed.” It was the only way she could think to say it.

“Overwhelmed?” she turned her head to look over her shoulder at Frankie “By what? Pity, shame, horror?” she turned back to the wall.

Frankie saw something in that split second Maggie had looked at her. It wasn’t the same look she got when she thought others were rejecting her; they didn’t have the ability to affect her this deeply. Bianca had somehow managed to crawl quietly into Maggie’s heart and lodge herself there without her sister noticing.

“It was none of those things. Kendall told me that Bianca…needed some space but it wasn’t exactly because of you. She told me that Bianca would never forgive herself if she thought she had hurt you.” She didn’t know if Kendall wanted her to reveal that but she needed to give her sister some kind of hope to hang onto.

“I’m sure she just didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It was just a polite way to brush me off.” She didn’t understand why the thought of never seeing or speaking to Bianca again hurt so much. She was used to people not wanting to hang around her this should be no different.

“Kendall gave me her number and told me to call her tomorrow and she’ll explain what happened. If it was a brush off she wouldn’t have done that.” She waited but Maggie was silent and she couldn’t stand the thought of her sister’s heart breaking, even if she didn’t know why it was. “Do you want me to stay until Jamie gets back?”

Maggie nodded and Frankie crawled up to lay beside her. Maggie rolled over and wrapped herself around Frankie, burying her head in her shoulder and crying silently.

*

*

*

Bianca sat silently in the passenger seat as Kendall drove the few miles back to her house. This was not how she had seen the evening going but then when it came to Maggie there was a lot she didn’t see. “I’m sorry Kendall but I just couldn’t stay there not with…” she indicated the puffy mess that was now her face “I didn’t know that was going to happen and I didn’t want Maggie to think I was feeling sorry for her.”

“It’s okay I understand but you’re gonna have to explain that to Maggie and sooner rather than later. You left without even saying goodbye she’s gonna think this has something to do with her.”

“It does have something to do with her, it has everything to do with her. You saw her on the video, you saw what he took from her and it broke my heart. Not that she’s changed but that he changed her. He took someone beautiful and vibrant and so full of life and crushed her. He made her afraid to be herself and no one should ever be afraid to be who they are. I know better than most people how that feels. It doesn’t matter to me if she’s that girl we saw in the video or the one she is now because either way she’s special and she should be treated that way. She should be loved and cherished.”

“You should really be telling her this not me.”

“I know but I don’t want her to get weirded out. We don’t really know each other and I don’t want her to think I’m some kind of nut job.”

“I don’t think she’ll think that. And you know I think you should tell her what you just told me.” Kendall stopped the car “We’re here.” She looked up to the house.

“What? We’re…Kendall” she sighed “this isn’t your house.”

“No shit Sherlock” she smirked “you didn’t really think that after the blubber fest I was gonna let this wait until tomorrow. Now get out, knock on the door and explain to the poor girl why you walked away from her without a word.”

“Kendall this is a bad idea. She’s probably sleeping and I don’t wanna wake her up. She’s gonna think I’m a stalker or something.”

“Fiiiiine I’ll do it your way…” she made a show of looking around the car “hey Binks where’s your bag? I don’t remember you taking it in with you.”

“Huh? How did we go from stalker to my bag?”

“Hi have you met me, I have the attention span of a three year old on a sugar high.”

“I really, really don’t know how we’re related sometimes. But fine I’ll play along; I think I left it in Maggie’s car. I’ll be right back.” She got out of the car closing the door as quietly as she could and walked up the short drive to look in the big red boat parked there.

“Sucker!!” Kendall yelled as she pulled away from the curb leaving Bianca standing alone in Maggie’s front yard.

“I’m gonna pull her skinny arms off and beat her with them.” She hung her head.

She had a fairly good idea of where Kendall’s house was but in the dark she wasn’t sure she could find it otherwise she would simply walk away. Instead she turned to face the door. She took two steps and stopped staring at the light coming from what she was sure had to be Maggie’s room. She rubbed her forehead with her fingertips and tried to think of what she was going to say. She took the same two steps backwards and put her hands on her hips. There were words swirling in her head but none of them seemed appropriate to say to someone you’ve only known for three days.

She turned her back to the house and threw her hands up in frustration “Aaaaarrrrrgggg why couldn’t I have a nice normal uncomplicated life?” she asked thin air.

“You know if people see you talking to yourself they might think you’re a whacko and call someone to cart you off to the funny farm.”

“Do you really think so because I could use a vacation from reality.” She turned and smiled softly at Maggie who was standing in the door with her arms wrapped protectively around herself.

“I’m sorry” she sighed and slumped her shoulders “you must think I’m a whacko the way I left…I didn’t mean to just walk out like that.”

“Do…” she tightened her arms around herself “do you wanna come in?”

“Do you want me to come in? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to deal with this…mess of a human being.”

Maggie stepped back through the door into the house “If anyone is a mess it’s me not you.” She turned but left the door open.

Bianca walked on shaky legs while trying to gather her scattered thoughts into something resembling anything near coherent.

*

*

*

Across the street a telephoto lens peeked through an open car window and snapped shots as she went inside. “Joni is gonna love this.” Trevor chuckled to himself as he wrote down a caption to go with the pictures. “Heavenly tryst in Haven Bay. It has a nice ring to it if I do say so myself, I’m gonna be rich.”

*

*

*

“Frankie’s still here?” She asked as she closed the door behind her.

“Yeah she fell asleep in my room and I didn’t see any reason to wake her up.” She shrugged and sat on the couch with her feet tucked under her.

“I thought you would be sleeping too.” She sat facing Maggie.

“I don’t sleep much anymore…nightmares.” She shrugged again then spoke in barely a whisper “why did you come back? I thought maybe you were trying to get away from me because now you know how broken I am.”

“Oh Maggie, I don’t think you’re broken that’s not why I left.” She moved closer and put her hand on Maggie’s knee giving it a small squeeze. What she really wanted to do was wrap herself around the tiny girl and protect her. “I’m not really sure I can explain it without you thinking I really am a whacko.” She smiled when she looked up trying to reassure her.

“I’d never think that about you.”

“Well give it some time you might change your mind.” She laughed in an attempt to put the blonde at ease.

Maggie let a small smile slip through. It somehow seemed so much easier with Bianca than it did with anyone else. “Can you try…to explain it I mean?”

“I’ll certainly do my best but I can’t promise it’ll make much sense. It’s kind of been chaotic up here lately.” She knocked on her head.

“That’s okay I know how that is. It’s like I have two different people running around screaming at me all the time and it scares me. Sometimes there are three of them. He doesn’t scream and that scares me more.”

“If I could I would make him go away. That’s why I left. You were so happy” she stared at the dark T.V. unable to look into Maggie’s eyes “I’ve never seen anyone that happy in my life and it broke my heart because he took that from you and I hate him for it. I hate him for hurting you and making you afraid. I hate him for making you believe that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t special. Because you are, I’ve never known anyone like you.”

“That’s probably a good thing.”

“Actually it is.” She finally turned to face Maggie who was staring at her hands while they picked at a string on the knee of her jeans “That second day, when I went to get my bags, you made me laugh harder than I think I’ve ever laughed in my life. I know you thought it was embarrassing but I thought it was insanely adorable.”

“Really?” she asked without looking up “I didn’t think you would want anything to do with me after that. I mean who wants to be seen with someone who at any second could make a complete fool of herself and you in the process.”

“I do that’s who.”

“You really are a wacko.” She finally raised her head and smiled.

“I told you so. You have to understand that because of who my mother is and who, or rather what I am that I have to be careful with everything I say and do. I don’t get to go out and do something crazy because it’ll be tomorrow’s headlines and I’ve felt suffocated my whole life because of that. I’m so tired of having to be in control all the time I just want to let go and let whatever happens happen.”

“What if you went out in public with me and I did something stupid and people were staring and laughing at you because of me?”

“Do you not remember me telling you I was once dressed up as fowl? What I didn’t tell you was that I got stuck in that thing and I had an appointment with a career counselor that I couldn’t get out of. Yeah you try explaining to someone that you’re dressed like a chicken because you’re crazy sister enlisted you to help her stalk someone and you’re just as crazy because you said yes. Now that was embarrassing and I highly doubt you could top it if you tried.” She raised an eyebrow “Oh go ahead you know you want to.”

Maggie pulled her lips into her mouth and shook her head. “What…what did the counselor say?”

“That maybe I should think about seeing a therapist. I told her I already had one and she suggested that it couldn’t hurt to have a second one on standby.”

“Oh my god!” Maggie threw her head back in a fit of obnoxious laughter. “There is something so wrong with you.”

“Oh you’re one to talk, just what was the temperature of that concrete floor anyway?”

“At least I wasn’t told I needed an army of therapists.”

“Hey she didn’t say an army she just that an extra one wouldn’t be a bad idea. Although I’m pretty sure I heard her mumble something about medication as I was leaving.”

Maggie rolled off the couch with a loud thud. That brought Frankie bursting from the bedroom half asleep with a curling iron clutched in her hands. She may have been slightly out of it but she knew she heard Bianca laugh before she saw her fall backwards off the couch. Frankie dropped her arms to her sides and cautiously approached the couch. She peeked over and found Maggie face down on the floor in silent hysterics and Bianca doing much the same thing as her sister. She rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times to make sure she was actually seeing what she thought she was seeing.

“Well this is a strange turn of events.” She shook her head turned around and went back to the bedroom. Two seconds later she came back out and stood staring down at them “Did you two get into the medicine cabinet or something?”

That just made Maggie laugh harder “She needs….she needs to be…medication!”

“Did I miss something or was that not supposed to make any sense?”

“She was dressed like a chicken, she needs an army of therapists and drugs!” Maggie howled.

“Oh my god you two are completely off your rockers. When the hell did I become the mature, sane adult because I have to tell ya I don’t like it, not one bit. I’m going back to sleep wake me up when you two have found your sanity.” She turned around again and headed back to Maggie’s room. Who cared if it made sense they seemed to think whatever it was was hilarious and that was good enough for her.

“God I hope I never find it sanity is overrated.” Bianca turned her head so she could look at Maggie “I don’t think I can move.”

“Me either I think I’m just gonna stay here for a little while. Except I have to pee now thanks to you.”

“How is your bladder my fault? Oh yes that’s right I forgot my super hero power is the ability to make people pee whenever I want them to.”

She chuckled “Do you use a special ring shaped like a toilet to get them to do your bidding?” Maggie turned her head to face Bianca who was staring at her intensely “What?”

“Shhh I’m trying to see if this works. When I was waiting for that tow truck the other day all I did was think that I really wanted it to show up and there it was. And I had been thinking about Jamie and there he was in the tow truck.”

“So you’re trying to think me into peeing?”

“Is it working?” she scrunched her eyebrows.

“No.” she laughed.

“Damn and here I thought I was special.”

Maggie rolled over on her back to stare at the ceiling “Not special, magic” she whispered and closed her eyes. She heard Bianca move and thought she was probably about to bolt for the door but then she felt warm breath bathing her neck and a soft voice whispering in her ear.

Bianca rolled over onto her back and turned her head to face Maggie “No that’s you. I thought so the first time we met and I was right. Maggie Stone is magic.” She closed her eyes feeling more content and at peace than she had in all her twenty two years of existence. “I’m really glad I met you.”

She felt goose bumps break out all over her body “Me too.” She wasn’t sure she had said the words out loud because she couldn’t hear anything over her heartbeat pounding in her ears. She was suddenly dizzy and the room was spinning and she was grateful for the fact that she was lying down because she was sure her legs wouldn’t have held her up. This was not something she had ever experienced before, it was powerful and overwhelming and completely amazing.

An hour later Jamie pulled into the driveway and parked. He looked at his watch, one a.m. and the living room lights were still on. Maggie must’ve had another nightmare and he silently kicked himself for not getting home sooner. He walked around the truck and passed by Maggie’s car and heard ringing coming from the front seat. He stepped over and reached in to pull out a bag that he knew didn’t belong to Maggie. He put it up to his ear and heard the ringing, he shrugged and dug through the bag until he found the phone.

“Kendall?” he scrunched his brows at the caller I.D. “Hello?” he answered.

“Oh good Jamie. I was starting to worry, I mean I know I did it but I was sure she would have called me to pick her up by now or had Maggie drop her off.”

“Huh? Kendall what did you do?” he started walking to the door.

“Well we ran into Maggie and Frankie at Burger Palace and went back to your place, long story short Bianca got upset and we had to leave but I brought her back because I thought she needed to explain to Maggie what had happened. She wouldn’t get out of the car so I told her she had forgotten her bag and when she got out of the car I took off without her.”

“That was the short version? Remind me never to ask for the long one.” He put his key in the lock and turned it.

“Ha ha Martin. Is my sister there or not? Because if she’s not she’s been kidnapped and we need to call the HBPD to put out an APB A.S.A.P.”

“Hold on geez I just got home I’m not…” he opened the door “inside yet.”

“James!”

“Uh yeah she’s here.” He smiled at the two girls sound asleep on the floor “She’s sleeping.”

“Oh thank god. When she gets up tell her to call me so I can yell at her.”

“Can do I’ll talk to you later night Kendall.”

“Goodnight Jamie.”

He hung up the phone and heard the water in the bathroom running. He looked up to see Frankie stepping out. “You’re here too? What did I miss?” he pointed at the floor.

Frankie looked at him then to where he was pointing and walked over to peek over the couch. “I think they tired themselves out with all that laughing.”

“Okay now I need the long version. I think all of you had a much more interesting night than I did.”

“It’s one in the morning you’re date must have gone well.”

“The date ended at ten I’ve been at Johnny’s hanging out. I would much rather have been here. What happened? Kendall just told me about meeting up at Burger Palace and coming here but other than that…”

“I don’t really know either Kendall said she would explain it to me tomorrow, err later today.”

“Well whatever it was I think it’s safe to say it ended in a good place.”

“I can hear you you know. You two suck at whispering.” Maggie croaked from her place on the floor.

“Sorry we didn’t mean to wake you up.” Jamie said a little quieter.

“What time is it?” she popped open an eye.

“One.”

“Ughh wake me up when the sun comes up.” She closed her eye then popped it back open. “Am I on the living room floor?”

“Uh yeah?”

“How the hell…” she turned her head to see a sleeping brunette just inches from her face “oh yeah” She smiled and closed her eye again. “On second thought if this is a dream don’t ever wake me up this is way better than reality.” She mumbled and was asleep again in seconds.

“What should we do, just leave them there?” he looked at Frankie.

“Do you think you can move them without waking them up?”

“Yeah maybe. Bianca sleeps like a rock but Maggie; we already woke her up once.”

“Well give it a shot I’ll sleep on the couch.”

He moved Bianca first who didn’t so much as bat an eyelash and then Maggie who surprisingly didn’t bat an eyelash either. He closed the bedroom door then rejoined Frankie in the living room slumping down on the couch beside her.

“What’s wrong?” she pulled her leg up and faced him.

“I just have this horrible vision of somebody getting hurt. I don’t know what you know but I wish I didn’t know what I know.”

“Can you un-Martin that for me?”

“I’m just not sure that having Bianca wake up in bed next to your sister is such a good idea.”

“You mean because she’s gay?”

“She told you?"

“Kendall did. You think Maggie has a problem with it? Because you know she’s not like that.”

“No, I know. It’s not about how Maggie feels it’s about how Bianca feels…about Maggie. I don’t want to see her get her heart broken.”

“I know Kendall told me earlier but it might all work out. We’ve got ourselves a plan because if what I’m thinking turns out to be right on the money then that means Maggie likes her she just doesn’t know it yet. And if I’m right then we have to get her to see that’s what she’s really feeling.”

“Can you un-Stone that for me? It’s late and my brain isn’t up for Frankie logic.”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen the change in Maggie since Bianca got to town? James…Maggie offered to teach her to dance.”

“You’re shitting me?” his eyebrows took off for his hairline like a rocket.

“I shit you not. When I heard it come out of her mouth…I don’t think shock is a strong enough word to describe what I was feeling. I don’t think this is just about friendship, too many coincidences, too much had to go exactly right for this all to happen. There is some powerful stuff at work here.”

“I know we haven’t known each other all our lives but as long as I have known you I’ve never seen her show any interest in women.”

“Well me either but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility. Maybe it’s not women in general maybe it’s one specific woman. Maybe it’s just Bianca.”

“Okay I can buy that one.” he shrugged. Sometimes Frankie logic actually made sense and he liked the idea too much to argue against it. “What do we do? I mean how are we supposed to know if she likes Bianca if she doesn’t even know.”

“I’ll ask you to do the same thing I asked Kendall; watch her you know the way she acts when she’s flirting or into someone. Listen to what she says if it’s in there it’ll get out whether she realizes what’s happening or not.”

“I really hope Maggie is a giant queermo because this would be like, the greatest thing ever. Is that weird for me to say?”

“No, it is an odd way to say it but I’m right there with ya.”

“So now what?”

“Well right now I’m tired and you’re on my bed. We sleep then in the morning we start planning and scheming up ways to get them to spend as much time together as possible. And since I’m not working I think we should get Kendall and the five of us go on a little outing. Somewhere out of town where she can forget that anyone else exists but us, a place that he hasn’t touched…a place where she can start to make new memories, happy memories.”

“Frankie Stone I like the way you think and I know the perfect place. I’ll call Kendall first thing when I get up.” He stood to give Frankie her bed “Get lots of sleep because in the morning this thing is so on.” He crept down the hall and peeked into Maggie’s room to see that Bianca had spooned up behind Maggie and had an arm draped over her. It was all he could do not to break out into a happy dance. He knew it was stupid to get his hopes up but he was doing it anyway, he was taking a page out of Frankie’s book and sending good thoughts and vibes out into the universe. He hoped like hell someone was listening.

Chapter Text

“Daphne it’s Velma.” He whispered into the phone while checking the hallway.

“Jamie it’s Sunday and it’s like six a.m. what’s so important that it can’t wait another hour or two?” she said groggily into the phone.

“Me and Frankie wanted all of us to get together today and times a wastin’.”

“I see she had no problem getting you on the ‘hey let’s see if my sister is a raging homo’ bandwagon.”

“Nope, actually I’m driving that wagon and its full speed ahead. So get up and get dressed because we’ve got some detective work to do.”

“If Bianca gets hurt in all of this…”

“I know and we’ll do our best to keep that from happening but Kendall we’re doing this for a good reason, we want them both to be happy and I think they could be, together.”

“You do know that only happens on the very slim chance that Maggie does actually have more than friendly feelings for my sister.”

“Frankie seems to think she does and I was going over everything I’ve seen and heard and I think she’s right.”

“So you really think there might be something to this?” She was trying so hard not to get her hopes up.

“I think there’s at least a strong possibility and when you see them together you’ll think the same thing. You know me Kendall and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt Bianca or put her in a position where she could be hurt. You just gotta trust me, trust us.”

“You know I do.” She sighed “Did she tell you what the code name is?” she perked up.

“No but she said I was gonna really like it, so what it is?”

“Operation Ta ta’s!”

He threw his head back and laughed “She agreed to that?”

“She didn’t have a choice it would’ve been two against one, majority rules.”

“Man I love you. Hey I gotta go Frankie’s up, I’ll call back in a little while when everything is set on this end.”

“You’re not gonna tell me what you have planned are you?”

“Nope all I’m gonna say is you might wanna bring a swimsuit. Later.”

He hung up the phone when Frankie all but bounced into the kitchen. “Operation Ta ta’s is a go.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“I knew I was gonna regret agreeing to that. So what do you have up your sleeve?”

“I’ll tell you later I have to make a call first to make sure everything is set. Oh swimwear isn’t required but you might wanna think about it.” He rubbed his hands together excitedly “So should we wake them up?”

“Part of me wants to and part of me doesn’t they look so peaceful. Did you notice they fit together perfectly?”

“Yeah I saw that it kinda gives me the warm and fuzzies and if you ever tell anyone I said that I know where to hide a body.”

*

*

*

Maggie slowly opened her eyes and tried to figure out exactly how she had gotten to her bed. She didn’t remember getting up and walking there so Jamie must’ve carried her. And what had her pinned down? She looked to see a hand wrapped around her stomach, it wasn’t her sister’s and it sure as hell wasn’t Jamie’s. She scrunched her eyebrows as the form behind her snuggled impossibly closer. She turned her head just enough to see long chocolate locks cascading over a shoulder, Bianca. Her heart stuttered in her chest before quickly resuming its normal rhythm. She smiled when she realized that her first instinct hadn’t been to go into panic mode at the thought of an unknown person wrapped so tightly around her. She had accidently kneed Jamie in a very sensitive place once because that’s exactly what she had done, panic. She closed her eyes and let out a slow breath, she also realized that she hadn’t had any nightmares and for the first time in over a year she had slept through the night.

“Bianca?” she whispered with her head nestled back in her pillow.

“Hmmm…”

Maggie smiled “I’m stuck and I really gotta pee.”

“Huh?” she opened her eyes to find herself pressed against Maggie “Oh I’m so sorry” she extricated herself “I’m a snuggler.” She said sheepishly wishing they could’ve stayed like that a little while longer.

“I hadn’t noticed” she laughed rolling over onto her back.

“Maggie?”

“Yeah?”

“How did we get here? When I fell asleep we were on the floor in the living room and I’m pretty sure I don’t sleepwalk.”

“I think Jamie carried us it’s the only logical explanation. It’s either that or we have a very considerate ghost in which case, oh ghost could you make me some pancakes and eggs I’m starving.”

“You’re just like Jamie I don’t know how you can even think about food this early.”

“You’re more of a brunch girl aren’t ya?”

“I’m an ‘if I even smell food when I first wake up I’m gonna hurl’ kinda girl.”

“You just rhymed.” She laughed at the brunette who was standing up and stretching.

“It was unintentional I assure you.”

“Wow with the saying of the big words after just waking up. I have trouble stringing together a coherent sentence using two syllable words.”

“You seem to be doing just fine with the sentence making. I thought you had to pee.”

“I do but I don’t wanna get up. Maybe if I just…” she rolled to the edge of the bed and dropped off with a thump “Yep, I’m up now.”

Bianca crawled across the bed and looked over the edge “Really because from what I’m seeing not so much with the up. You need some help there?”

“Please I think I might have bruised my appendix or something.”

“You really have a thing for floors don’t you?” she smiled as she slipped off and reached down to pull Maggie up.

“Well I just kinda feel bad for them everybody is always walking all over them I thought maybe they might need a hug every now and then.” She flashed that crooked grin.

“What are you two doing we heard something fall.” Frankie asked as she rounded the corner into the room.

“Morning!” Maggie jumped and bounded over the bed “I gotta go my bladder is yelling curse words at me that I didn’t think it knew and some of them are in French. You would think after all these years it would’ve told me it was bilingual.” She planted a kiss on Frankie’s cheek.

Bianca laughed at her as she threw a wink at her and disappeared down the hall.

“Jamie made coffee if you want some I think you might need it to keep up with her.” She pointed over her shoulder.

“Take me to your leader.”

“You’re gonna fit in great around here.” Frankie laughed as she led the way to the kitchen.

Maggie was sitting on the edge of the tub staring at her feet when she heard Frankie laugh outside the door. She picked her head up and stared at it wishing she could divine what was going on on the other side. Her foot bounced as she tried to figure out what exactly had just happened. All thought had gone out of her head when she woke up wrapped in Bianca’s arms and she had never felt more like herself. In fact she had never acted more like herself than she did when she was with Bianca. Her foot started to bounce faster and she scrubbed at her face roughly with both hands trying to connect all the elusive dots.

“Think Maggie, what is it about her that has you so turned upside down and inside out? This is stupid I’m talking to myself. Whatever it is doesn’t matter because it won’t last long she’ll go home and I’ll go back to being me.” She stood and stared at herself in the mirror “It’s only a matter of time before she does what everyone else does and runs. I’ll have a complete mental collapse and as nice as she is she isn’t gonna wanna stick around to help pick up the pieces.” She closed her eyes and leaned in until her forehead was resting against the mirror. “I’m so stupid.”

She cracked the door and listened for their voices when she didn’t hear anything she stepped out and slowly made her way into the kitchen. She saw them through the window over the sink sitting in Jamie’s ancient lawn chairs under the big oak and debated on whether to go out and meet them or go hide. She could claim she had to run an errand but both Jamie and Frankie would know better. She could say she had to run by the shop that was at least plausible. She was trying to think of anything to get her out of there but when she heard Bianca laugh she stopped trying to come up with excuses. She stood at the window and watched for a minute and a small smile crept its way onto her face. Leaving would be useless because she would still be thinking about her at least this way she wouldn’t by analyzing it to death. She poured a cup of Jamie’s insanely strong coffee and was about to join them when she heard a phone ringing in the living room. She stepped through the doorway and saw it lying on what she could only assume was Bianca’s bag and peered down to see that it was Kendall calling.

“Hello Bianca’s phone.”

“Is this Maggie or Frankie?”

“Maggie.”

“Hey Maggie is my sister up by any chance?”

“Yeah hold on I’ll get her.” She made her way back through the kitchen into the backyard “It’s your sister.” She handed the phone to Bianca.

“Ugh I forgot to call her, again. Thank you.” She took the phone and went back into the house.

“Well it’s about time!” she huffed.

“Good morning to you too Kendall.”

“Sorry, good morning. It’s a good thing Jamie answered your phone when I called last night I thought you had been kidnapped. I take it everything went okay after I left?”

“Yes it went fine, better than fine actually.” She couldn’t help the giant goofy grin that spread across her face. She turned and started pacing trying to wear off the nervous, excited energy that made her feel like she could run around the world.

“Well good, so do you have something you’d like to say to me?”

She stopped and put her hand on her hip “Yes Kendall” she hung her head in defeat “thank you for tricking me into getting out of the car and then abandoning me.”

“Wow it’s amazing that you can make such a good thing sound so terrible. Anyway I was talking to Jamie just before you called and he wants us all to hang out so I’m headed over there right now.”

“It’s only seven when did he have time to plan something?”

“I’ve already talked to him twice this morning he said he had it all planned all I had to do was show up.”

“Geez it would be nice to be included in stuff like this I could really use a shower and clean clothes.”

“Taken care of I’ve got a bag with everything you’ll need you can shower there. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Kendall hung up before she could say anything else. Something was up and Kendall knew exactly what was going on she just wasn’t saying and that worried her. Jamie and Kendall conspiring without her always ended badly she was after all the voice of reason and sanity. “Why do I think this is going to end in either handcuffs or a visit to the E.R.?” she mumbled as she stared at her phone.

She rejoined the others “Kendall is on her way and she told me you have some sort of grand plan in the works” she looked at Jamie “would you care to fill me in?”

“No can do I don’t wanna ruin the surprise.”

“You know I hate surprises.” She slumped down in her chair.

“You’re gonna love this one trust me. You’re on vacation live a little there aren’t any nosey tabloid reporters around waiting to catch you in a ‘compromising position’.” He made air quotes around the last two words.

“Do I get to know?” Maggie asked sitting in the empty chair next to Bianca.

“Nope” he shook his head “nobody knows except me so I’m driving. When Kendall gets here were gonna load up the Maggie Mobile and hit the road.”

“Don’t bother trying to find out” Frankie said getting up “I’ve been trying for almost two hours and I got zip. Anybody want more coffee?” she shook her own cup at them.

They all declined and Frankie went inside to grab more coffee and wait for Kendall.

She arrived just five minutes later and knocked loudly. She wasn’t sure why she had agreed to this but Jamie always had a way of talking her into things. But then if she were being honest with herself she had talked him into things that, in hindsight, hadn’t been the greatest ideas. She just hoped this didn’t turn out to be a huge mistake because the only one who was going to get hurt was Bianca and she didn’t want to be responsible for that.

“Morning Frankie.” She smiled and stepped through the door.

“Morning. Are you ready for…the thing?”

“You aren’t going to say it are you?” she pouted.

“Not if I don’t have to no, I’ll hear it enough from you and Velma.” She chucked her thumb towards the backyard.

“Did he tell you what he’s up to?”

“Not even a hint.” She lied. He had told her but it was only because he needed to know if she thought it was a good idea. As far as Jamie’s ideas went she thought it was actually pretty good but they wouldn’t know what kind of reaction it would get until they actually got there. “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Well this should be interesting. So where’s everybody at?”

“Out back. Last time I looked Maggie was showing Bianca where she had to cut Jamie out of the railing.”

Kendall cocked an eyebrow and shook her head “I swear he’s worse than a kid sometimes.”

“Just sometimes? More like all the time. Come on you can grab some coffee on the way.”

“Wait” Kendall reached out and stopped her “I told Jamie I trusted that this wouldn’t hurt Bianca and I just wanted your word that you would make sure that doesn’t happen.”

She put her hand over Kendall’s “You have my word that this will in no way hurt your sister. We aren’t actually doing anything just getting them to spend time together with us around so we can watch how they interact.”

“That sounds like a scientific experiment.” She heard laughing coming from the back and glanced up. “What if it turns out it’s not what we think? My sister is gonna get the short end of the stick.”

“Don’t worry Kendall I’m pretty sure it’s exactly what we think it is we just gotta get Maggie out of her own way so she can see it too.”

“And how do you propose we do that?”

“After we get a good look at the situation you, me and Jamie will get together and the next time I talk to Maggie alone I’ll do the whole detective thing. I have to get her to take a really hard look at her own feelings where Bianca is concerned and that’s gonna be the tricky part. If I push too hard she’ll push us all away. She’ll have to process this at her own pace and I know this is the last thing you wanna hear but it could take longer than Bianca will be here for. A lot longer.”

“You’re right that is the last thing I want to hear and if nothing comes out of this little thing Jamie has planned you have to promise me you’ll both drop it.”

“I promise. You won’t hear another word about it but…”

“But what?”

“I just have this feeling that if we don’t do this everything will end up…off balance somehow. Like the universe wants this to happen and we’re supposed to be helping it out. I mean think about all of the things that had to go right, or wrong depending on how you look at it, in order for them to end up together. I really think everything that happened to your sister had to happen to get her here. I mean have you really thought about it?”

“Actually I have and it’s the damndest string of coincidences that I’ve ever seen. Bianca’s break up which led to the tabloids hounding her which then led her to come see me.” she started listing them putting all of her faith in Frankie’s belief in fate “Bianca’s brand new car breaking down, me calling her a tow truck that turned out to be owned by her long lost best friend Jamie who just happens to be Maggie’s business partner. Then there’s you.” She looked at her.

“Me? What did I do?” She had never considered herself a part of the equation.

Your station was the only one she could catch on her drive over here, the very first song she heard was a request by Maggie. And I was listening that day all you were playing were songs about love.” And that’s when it dawned on her “Oh my god you’re right…”

“Holy crap I didn’t know about that….Oh holy shit!” She slapped a palm to her forehead.

“What?! Is there something else?”

“Yes” she nodded quickly “until now I’ve never actually seen destiny at work, I mean I’ve never seen it all come together right in front of me. The universe was using me to talk to your sister and I didn’t even know it! All of the songs I played they were about not giving up on finding love.”

“Okay that’s pretty convincing evidence that even I’m having a hard time dismissing.” It was unlike her to go along with something like this but she couldn’t ignore what was clearly laid out in front of her. “Lead the way Fred.”

They made their way to the backyard where Jamie was demonstrating that his head wasn’t that big and that the spacing of the railing was off.

“If you get stuck again I’m not sawing you out this time I’m gonna call the fire department. You can explain to them how a grown man got his head caught in there.” She wiggled her finger at the porch.

“Please like I’d make that mistake again.” He turned to find Kendall staring at him “Fine I wouldn’t make that mistake a third time. Happy now?”

“Very.” She smiled triumphantly.

“So now that the gangs all here who’s up for breakfast?” he looked around at the four women “I make some really mean chocolate chip pancakes, extra chocolate chips.”

They tried in vain to get their destination out of him as they ate but soon gave up when they realized he wasn’t giving this one up for anything. When they were done they loaded up Maggie’s car and Jamie gave the other members of Operation Ta ta’s a discreet and completely indecipherable baseball signal that he had insisted on using. He pulled an ear, thumbed his nose, rubbed two fingers across his chest, tapped his chin and Kendall just rolled her eyes at him.

“I call shotgun!” She blurted out while he was still in the middle of his super spy routine.

“I’m sitting behind James that way I can kick his seat the whole way there like a three year old.” Frankie laughed when he slumped and dropped his head with a groan.

“That just leaves me and you” Bianca looked at Maggie hoping she didn’t see just how thrilled she was by that “you want middle or behind Kendall?”

Maggie shrugged “Wherever you wanna sit is fine by me.”

“Nope it’s bad enough that you have to ride in the backseat of your own car so you get to at least choose between the last two seats on the Magtanic.”

“The Magtanic?” she laughed at the brunette “Are you trying to tell me you think my car is big?”

“Yep and it doesn’t help when someone so tiny is driving it you’re just so cute, this wee little person in this big giant car.” She winked at her and laughed.

“Oh that’s it you’re riding in the middle I hope you like wiiiind.” She sing-songed.

“Crap.” She muttered and hung her head “I didn’t think of that before I opened my mouth.”

Maggie laughed at her “That’ll teach you to make comments about my height you giraffe.”

Bianca couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled out of her “I gotta give it to you that’s a good one even if it is coming from someone who’s fun size.”

“Oh I know you didn’t just call me fun size. Just for that I should make you ride in the trunk.”

“Hey” Frankie brightened and wiggled her phone “I got Pop-A-Locks number on speed dial just in case you should happen to get stuck. What?” she asked throwing her hands up when they all just stared at her “oh come on like I’m the only person to ever accidentally lock themselves in a trunk?”

“Twice.” They all said in unison.

“Geez rub it in why don’t ya.” She rolled her eyes “Come on let’s get this show on the road.”

Maggie stepped closer to Bianca “I was just kidding about you riding in the middle you really don’t have to.”

“Nuh uh” she shook her head “I walked into that one and I’m woman enough to own up to it. I accept my punishment for calling you vertically challenged.”

“Why you little…”

She leaned in closer “Ah ah I don’t believe you’re in any position to be calling anyone little with you being bite size and all.” She walked away hoping no one noticed the slight buckle in her knees. She had meant for that to be funny but her mind had decided to go another way with it and her body skipped happily along after it. She was just digging that hole deeper and she was sure that her head would pop up in China soon.

“Why…you…how….” She sputtered as she followed behind her.

“Wow she can’t even come up with a good comeback I’m impressed.” Jamie chuckled as he slid in behind the wheel.

“Hey give me time I’ll think of something.” She stabbed a finger into the air and got in the car. She leaned in so her shoulder was pressed against Bianca’s “You win this round” she whispered “but this is far from over I plan to retake my crown and I don’t intend to take it easy on you. When the dust settles I plan to be on top.” She leaned back with a smug look on her face when the brunette was rendered speechless.

Bianca felt goose bumps break out all over her body. She opened her mouth to say something but was unable to come up with a single thing that wouldn’t make her sound like she was either a gibbering idiot or like her mind hadn’t gone someplace very inappropriate. That had come right back to bite her in the backside and suddenly she was in desperate need of a cold shower, while standing in a deep freezer, in the arctic, in the middle of winter.

Kendall got in and pulled out her phone typing a quick message:

Flirt Alert?

Frankie felt her phone vibrate in her pocket and pulled it out reading the message and then sent one back:

Possibly. Didn’t hear what she said did you?

No L But I’ll ask B. when we get wherever the hell it is we’re going.

Think she’ll tell you?

She’s probably dying to right now.

Jamie threw his arm over the seat and turned to back out of the driveway. When he did he noticed that Bianca was breathing a little harder than someone who’s just sitting there should be and Maggie kept glancing at her out of the corner of her eye. He pulled onto the road and turned back with a smirk. Not even out of the driveway yet and his little plan was already producing results. He put the Magtanic in drive and it wasn’t long before they were on a winding, sun dappled road headed toward the bay that had given the town its name.

At least two people were glad that the top was down and the sound of the wind made even attempting to talk pointless.

*

*

*

“Hey it’s me they all piled into Maggie’s car what do you want me to do?”

“Follow them and find out where they’re going when you do call me, and Trevor make sure they don’t see you.”

“No worries this isn’t the first time I’ve done this.” He hung up and pulled onto the road a few cars behind them.

Chapter Text

“We’re lost.” Frankie said from the backseat as they sat on the side of the road while Jamie looked at the map.

“We’re not lost I know exactly where we are. I just had to take a different route otherwise you and Mags would know where we’re going and I want it to be a surprise.”

“How well do you know this route?” Kendall looked sideways at him.

“Actually I’ve never gone this way before but I checked the map and it’s a pretty straightforward drive.”

“The map didn’t happen to mention the ten mile detour did it?” Maggie chimed in and dropped her head back on the seat.

“James you should really join the twenty first century. It’s called GPS and this little thing called the internet. If you would’ve checked it you would’ve known about this.” Kendall waved a hand indicating their middle of nowhere-ness.

“Hey we’re getting back to the roots here they didn’t always have these newfangled doodads. People have navigated with paper maps for a really long time so just sit back and enjoy the scenery.”

Frankie snorted. “This is the kind of scenery that usually ends up as a grisly scene with the bimbo hacked to death by the deranged psycho serial killer with a machete. Sure it’s all pretty and peaceful now but just you wait soon the birds will stop singing and the crickets will stop...cricketing and we’ll all be lunch for a family of cannibals who’ll use our skin as a coat.”

“Holy crap is your mind a terrifying place.” He looked at her in the rearview mirror and shuttered. “I think you should lay off the slasher flicks for a while.”

“How much further is it because you know she’s gonna come up with a thousand and one ways to be murdered in the middle of nowhere.” Maggie warned.

“Flaming arrows shot at us by angry hillbillies who are pissed because someone chased off their goats.”

“See?”

Drunk hillbillies in tinfoil hats who thought they saw aliens while fishing in the middle of the night and think we’re pod people coming to anal probe them and they fill us full of bullet holes.”

Maggie craned her neck around Bianca to look at Frankie “You’ve officially lost your mind.”

“An extra special detour meant to lead unsuspecting travelers into a brick wall painted to look like a tunnel.”

“Okay no more cartoons for you either.” He said as he flipped the map right side up hoping they hadn’t noticed he had it upside down.

Bianca scooted closer to Maggie “Should she be on medication for her condition?”

Maggie laughed at her “Probably but don’t worry she’s not contagious.”

“Satan worshipping cultists using us as human offerings to Mephistopheles in order to turn everyone on the planet into Justin Bieber fans.”

“NOOOOO!!!!” They all shouted.

“Oh my god that’s absolutely terrifying I’m gonna have nightmares now thanks.” Kendall chirped unhappily.

“Ha I got it.” he said “We’re a lot closer than I thought. Okay ladies let’s get it on.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

Four different hands slapped at his head.

“Hey watch the hair!” he yelled as he pulled back onto the road. “Oh and by the way when we get closer you have to close your eyes.”

The car went up in a loud groan and some eye rolling. 

*

*

*

 

“It’s Trevor I think they’re headed for the marina.”

“You think? You better be sure I don’t want to get out there….”

“I’m sure.” He cut her off. “They’re taking the back roads so if you go now you can get there ahead of them. I’m backing off and headed for the main road now I’ll meet you there.” There was a click in his ear. “You’re welcome.” He mumbled.

*

*

*

Thirty minutes a long winding road and three sets of closed eyes later they arrived at Jamie’s secret destination. He headed straight to the back of the lot making sure they were mostly out of sight so Maggie wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. The place was busy and he suddenly doubted his brilliant idea. If Maggie panicked it would be all his fault and with Bianca and Kendall there to see it would make it a hundred times worse for her.

“Okay, you can open your eyes. Surprise?” He flashed an unsure smile that faltered even more when he turned around.

Maggie’s face dropped. They were at the Haven Bay Marina and it was packed. There seemed to be a million people walking through the lot and the thought of all those eyes on her made her stomach toss like a boat in a hurricane. She had just jumped on board without giving a second thought as to where he was taking them and now she was regretting it. She did not want to walk through the parking lot and she most certainly was not going to walk through the boat club where she knew just about every single person. She closed her eyes trying to figure out how she was going to get through this and felt a hand slip into her own and give it a gentle squeeze. When she opened them she found Bianca smiling at her and looked around the car at the others. She had her own oddball little family and just maybe she would be okay.

"Well do we have a verdict? I’ve got a plan b just in case this one tanked.” he looked around the car.

“I think it’s great we haven’t been sailing in forever” Frankie climbed out and turned to walk backwards “come on this is gonna be so much fun.” She really hoped so at least.

“You do know how to drive that thing right?” Kendall asked with just a little bit of skepticism and a dash of trepidation.

“Of course I do I practiced with a little remote control boat at the duck pond yesterday it’s pretty much the same thing.” He shrugged.

“Ha ha if I die I’m coming back and haunting your ass.”

“Ohhh sexy Kendall ghost will you do naughty things to me in my sleep?”

“Ahhhhhhhhh nonononononononono!” Bianca scrambled from the car “Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, gotta think happy thoughts, I got nothing!” she threw her hands up.

Maggie tried to scramble out of the car behind her but the seatbelt snagged her foot stopping her short and causing her to fold over like an omelet. “Ooof.” She dangled half in and half out of the car. “Well hell.” She hung there with her fingertips grazing the pavement and a curtain of hair shielding her from what she knew was happening. “Stop laughing and help a girl out.”

 “Can’t…”

That’s all she heard and she wasn’t even sure who had said it. She pulled her head up and saw Frankie doubled over and Bianca trying to hide behind her hands before letting it drop back with a shake. Hidden under her hair she smiled to herself. That had done the trick perfectly and now Bianca wasn’t thinking about Jamie and his perverted ghost fantasy anymore.

“Are you okay?” Bianca walked over to help her still trying not to laugh.

"Yep fabulous but I’m getting a bit of a head rush. Can I borrow your hand for a second?” She put her own out and wiggled her fingers.

Bianca’s breath hitched and she just knew Maggie Stone’s innocent comments were going to be her undoing. She took hold and helped her into an upright position and hoped they were all too focused on Maggie to be paying any attention to her. She was almost positive that her legs weren’t going to hold up if there were any more comments like that.

“Thanks at least now I know if I get knocked in the head with the boom and go overboard which one of you will save me.” She glared at the others.

“Oh please if one of us would’ve done that you would be on the ground rolling at least we all stayed vertical.” Jamie said as he got out of the car. “Come on let’s get on the water.”

They unloaded the car and Kendall hung back with Bianca as they walked through the parking lot “Hey Binks what happened back at the house?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She checked to make sure they were far enough away that they wouldn’t be heard. She was dying to find out what her sister’s thoughts would be but she couldn’t give in too quickly she didn’t want to seem too eager.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about and if you hold it in much longer your head is going to explode.”

“Fine you’re right; I just don’t know what to make of it. I know what I want it to mean so I’m probably making something out of nothing…”

“Quit rambling and tell me what she said already we aren’t trekking across the desert here.” She motioned with her hand between them and the end of the lot.

“Well it’s just that I know she didn’t mean it like I wanted her to but my mind doesn’t seem to give a crap.” She sighed when Kendall groaned at her “She said she was taking her crown back and she’s not taking it easy on me and that she plans to come out on top. And what popped into my head….”

“Involved straddling.” Kendall cut her off.

“Oh god Kendall I couldn’t help it, she said it and there it was clear as day and now I can’t get rid of it.” It came out a bit whinier than she planned “I thought I could handle this but now I have serious doubts. I don’t think I can keep spending time with her but I don’t want her to think I’m running from her because I think she’s a disaster or something.”

“Maybe if you tell her how you feel she’ll understand. I mean ‘hey I can’t hang out with you because I’m madly in love with you’ is a lot better than ‘hey I can’t hang out with you because you’re a massive mess’.”

“Maybe you’re right I can’t do this to myself or to her. I’ll tell her tomorrow I don’t wanna ruin a perfectly good day and especially not after everything Jamie has done to put this together.”

They traversed the maze of docks in silence while Bianca tried to talk herself into actually telling the tiny blonde about her feelings for her. It wasn’t something she really wanted to do but being around her so much was making it harder to bury them.

They reached the top of the ‘T’ at the end of the dock and Jamie went to his right and dropped his stuff in front of the dark blue sailboat.

“So just how impressed are we supposed to be?” Kendall asked Bianca while glancing longingly at the fancy yacht docked to the other side of the ‘T’ “I don’t know anything about boats so I have no clue if this is a diamond or cubic zirconium.”

“How should I know I think our combined knowledge would amount to less than a sentence, boats go on water the end.”

"It’s a 50 foot yawl built in the mid sixties and almost everyone here has tried to buy it at least once.” Frankie said as she gazed at it. It seemed like a lifetime ago that they had gone sailing and maybe getting out on the water and away from everyone and everything would help Maggie. Maybe it would help clear some of the fog blinding Maggie from the truth where Bianca was concerned.

“So it’s good then, well in that case I’m very impressed.” Kendall nodded her head in approval. “So whose boat is it anyway?”

“It belonged to our grandparents.” Maggie said joining them “Our dad was their only child so after they passed away everything was left to us. Frankie got the house I got the garage and we share the boat.” She stared at it. She hadn’t been out on the boat since she had started dating Jonathan and she was finally starting to realize just how much she had given up because of him.

Frankie stood next to her and bumped her shoulder “The rope is still there” she threw a nod toward the rear of the boat “just in case you wanna do your Jane of the Jungle routine.”

“Hey” Jamie said coming towards them “I’m gonna run into the club and grab a few things anyone wanna come with?” he looked pointedly at Frankie and Kendall.

“I guess somebody has to make sure you don’t stop to talk to every pretty girl in the place otherwise we’ll never get off of dry land.”

“Hey are there any cute single guys?” Kendall asked hopefully.

“You two can hang out for a minute right?” Jamie looked at Bianca then to Maggie “You can show her around.”

“You mean load up the stuff while you’re playing?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Well….yeah.” He smiled “We won’t be long. Come along ladies.” He hooked his elbows out and the three of them walked off arm in arm, in arm.

“I think they might be up to something.” Bianca said squinting at their backs.

“Oh I know they are I just don’t know what it is and really, I’m not sure I wanna know. At least this way we have plausible deniability.”

“Good point let’s not ask if they get arrested they’re gonna need someone to bail them out.”

*

*

*

“Well did you find out?” Frankie asked when they were out of earshot.

“Yep, I knew she wouldn’t be able to hold it in for very long.” She told them what Bianca had told her.

“Huh…” Frankie scrunched her eyebrow together “I’m sure Maggie didn’t mean it that way.”

“What if she did and just doesn’t realize it?” Jamie asked as he led them to an empty table on the deck.

“Subconscious flirting? Definitely possible with everything else in her head she might not realize she’s doing it.” Frankie mused.

“Well that’s great how do we get her to realize that she is doing it?” Kendall all but huffed as she sat back in her chair.

“What if she realizes it and it scares the crap out of her? She’s been straight her whole life I couldn’t even imagine how she would feel if she suddenly realized she was attracted to Bianca.” Frankie wasn’t sure she wanted to keep Operation Ta ta’s going anymore. She didn’t want to push her sister further away than she already was.

“Can we stop using the word realize? How about it dawns on her or she’s suddenly struck with the thought.”

“Fine, what if it dawns on her that what she really wants is to discover the joys of lesbian sex with your sister?” Jamie stared at her with an are you happy now look.

“Then I’ll be the first one to lock them in a room together.” Kendall sat forward and put her elbows on the table “We need to find out if Maggie is heteroflexible PDfreakingQ.”

“No worries there I’ve come up with a few things to test our theory.”

“Why do I see a game of strip poker in our future?” Kendall glared at him. 

*

*

*

“What do you think is taking so long?” Bianca asked as they sat on the dock waiting.

"Jamie was probably distracted by something shiny or something with big boobs.” She said just as her phone started ringing.

“My money is on big boobs.” She laughed. “Do you need to get that I can step away.”

“No it’s no one.” She looked to see that it was a blocked number but she didn’t want to find out who was on the other end. She didn’t want to ruin this day with bad memories.

“So do you know how to sail?” she asked looking at the boat.

“Yeah my dad and grandpa taught me and Frankie—”

“Well isn’t it a small world” a familiar and unwelcome voice greeted them “I sure didn’t expect to see the two of you here. Planning a little getaway?”

They looked up to see Joni coming towards them. Bianca stood and put herself between Maggie and her tormentor. “Actually we’re just about to be on our way.” She had to bite her tongue to keep from saying something nasty if she did it could blow up in Kendall’s face.

“It’s such a lovely day to go sailing isn’t it? That’s my fiancés yacht.” She pointed at the back end of the boat docked just feet away. “We’re throwing a little pre-wedding party next week and I just came to make sure everything will be ready. I just can’t believe how lucky I am to have found such an incredible guy.”

“I’m sure he must be.” She wanted to roll her eyes; he would have to be to put up with her. “Well we don’t want to keep you…”

“Oh nonsense I have plenty of time I don’t have anything pressing to attend to. The mayor is supposed to be coming you know Gavin knows him personally he’s an old friend of the family. You know he loves this boat and if you ever consider selling it money wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t quite understand what he sees in old stuff like this I mean his yacht is state of the art and requires so much less work.” She stepped closer to inspect it and shook her head at the peeling paint.

“I think it’s a beautiful boat and it wears its age well.” It would be so easy to just push her over.

“You’re awfully quiet Maggie you must have a lot on your mind.” She ignored Bianca and looked over at Maggie who was sitting quietly hoping Joni would go away. “I remember when you were the life of the party and everybody just loved to be around you but I guess since that whole” she lowered her voice “unfortunate incident things haven’t been quite the same for you and I am just so sorry.” She put her hand over her heart.

“Thank you.” She mumbled staring at her feet.

Bianca felt the vein in her forehead start to throb and had to fight back the urge to throttle her where she stood. She knew there wasn’t going to be a nice way to get rid of her so she did the only thing she could think of. She suddenly ducked her head and swatted at something.

Maggie watched with curiosity as Bianca danced around the dock like a boxer swinging at something that only she could see.

“What is she doing?” Jamie asked as they made their way down the dock and back to the boat.

“Beats me maybe she’s showing Maggie her groovy dance moves.” Kendall said.

“Oh hell no.” Frankie hissed “Joni is with them if she said anything to upset Maggie...” She stepped away from them.

Jamie put his hand on her arm to stop her. “Whoa hold on I have a feeling I know what the spaztastic moves are all about give it a minute.” He pulled his phone out and started recording knowing he would want to be able to relive the moment a million times.

She was spinning and waving her hands erratically trying to outmaneuver the thing attacking her and bumped hard into something. She saw flailing arms out of the corner of her eye followed by a short scream before a loud splash. She stopped and turned looking down to see what had fallen in and saw Joni treading water, her mascara running and a scowl firmly planted on her face.

Maggie sat flicking her eyes between Bianca and the edge of the dock where Joni went over. It was like a scene from a movie and she was so shocked that she couldn’t even think of something to say let alone actually do something.

Kendall was the first to reach them and she didn’t dare look into the water. “What happened?”

“I thought it was a bee and you know I’m allergic I kind of freaked out.”

Maggie never saw a bee or any other flying insect for that matter.

They all turned when Joni pulled herself onto the dock.

“I am just so sorry.” Bianca said with as much sincerity as she could muster and put her hand over her heart.

Joni didn’t respond she just stalked off dripping her way onto her fiancés yacht.

“Bianca you are not allergic to bees.” Kendall said when the bottle blonde bitch had disappeared from sight.

“I’m not? Oh that’s right it’s shellfish I’m allergic to, I don’t know how I got those two things confused?” She quirked an eyebrow and shook her head at herself.

“Binks as far as I know you aren’t allergic to anything except vindictive blondes with the I.Q. of a slug.”

"You’re right and I’m not sorry I did it.”

“I’m not sorry you did it either.” Jamie laughed and wrapped her in his arms and squeezed.

“Me either, did you see her face?” Frankie added her approval.

“I would have just pushed her but then I don’t have a very firm grasp of what the word subtle means. Not that what you just did was exactly what I would call subtle.” Kendall said with a huge grin.

“Oh trust me I thought about it but I didn’t want to be too obvious. I don’t want it to somehow affect your business otherwise I would’ve just given her a nice hard shove and told her to watch out for that first step.”

“You do know she’s not gonna to let that go right?” Frankie said throwing a nasty look at the yacht.

“Yeah well there are two things Joni will learn fast if she tries anything” Kendall said “you don’t mess with a Kane and you don’t mess with her family. Isn’t that right Binks?” She looked at her sister with a whole new level of respect and awe.

“Don’t poke the bears they’ll chew you up spit you out and use your bones as toothpicks. I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty. Trust me Joni has no idea who she’s messing with.” He clapped Bianca on the shoulder.

Maggie listened to them but didn’t say anything. Even if she could manage to get any words beyond her throat she wouldn’t know what to say.  And now Bianca had a target on her back because her spine had the same consistency as a wet noodle and it didn’t seem to bother her one bit.

“You know she should really look into Enchantment’s waterproof mascara drowned raccoon is not a good look for her.” Bianca said throwing a wink at Maggie.

Maggie finally snapped out of her thoughts and smiled at the brunette “Is it wrong to hope her hair turns green?”

“It always seemed to be her favorite color.” Frankie said. “I think she’s been jealous of us since we were in kindergarten, took better naps than she did.” She explained with a smirk.

“Personally I think this day has gotten off to a good start and it can only get better from here. So what do you say we find some adventure on the high seas?” He swept his arm out to the blue water awaiting them.

“If you start talking like a pirate and calling me a wench I’m jumping overboard and swimming back.” Kendall shot at him as she climbed on board.

“Aww man you take the fun out of everything.” He trudged his way onto the boat.

“I think you just took the wind out of his sails.” Bianca said as she held her hand out to Maggie to pull her from her seat.

“You know he has a pirate outfit in there somewhere.” Maggie said so only she could hear.

Bianca threw her head back and laughed “Kendall has a wench outfit in her closet that she wore for Halloween one year.”

“Oh my god it’s like a match made in hell. Now I’m really worried about what they might be up to.” She shook her head and followed the others. 

*

*

*

“Did they see you?” Joni asked as she sloshed her way onto the yacht.

“Nope I parked in the employee lot and came straight here.”

“Did you get all of that?” she stepped out of her shoes.

“Every second of it.” He put the lens cover back on “What exactly are you planning to do with all of this anyway?”

“Oh don’t you worry your pretty little head about that all you need to know is that you’re getting paid.”

“Works for me.” He shrugged “Now what?”

“Now you go down to Gavin’s speedboat and follow them wherever they’re going. I don’t want them out of your sight and make sure you’ve got enough power for that thing.” She pointed at the digital camera.

“I’ve got it covered. I’ll call you and let you know where they end up.”

“Good. Here are the keys it’s in slip 21.”

He made his way to the speedboat and followed them out of the bay and into open water with his camera ready to snap away.

Chapter Text

“So” Jamie said as Maggie sat next to him at the wheel “on a scale of one to ten how awesome was that?”

“On a scale to a million I’d say it was two million.” She dropped her sunglasses over her eyes and looked out over the water.

“So why aren’t you up there with them reliving the moment?” He nodded towards the bow where the other three were making wild gestures and laughing.

“You looked so lonely I thought you needed some company.” She shrugged.

“Crap, you’re avoiding her. Why?”

“Because she shouldn’t have had to do it. I should’ve done or said something to Joni myself just like I should’ve every other time. I don’t want her to think I’m a coward who can’t stand up for myself.” Her eyes fell to her hands fidgeting in her lap.

“Go talk to her and find out what she thinks.”

“I’m not sure I really wanna know.”

“You should have figured out by now that Bianca likes you why do you think she sent Joni ass over teakettle? She didn’t even think about the consequences, there could be someone out there right now who recorded the whole thing and is just itching to see how much money they can make off of it.”

“I didn’t even think about that. Great now I feel worse thanks Jamie.” She blew out a frustrated breath.

“I’m not trying to make you feel worse I’m trying to prove a point. Protecting you is more important to her than protecting herself and you know with that little stunt she just made an enemy for life. Joni knows as well as we do that it wasn’t an accident and now she also knows that Bianca is clearly on team Maggie.”

“I have a team?” She cocked her head at him.

“Yeah, look around you Mags. You’ve got a team of loony tunes who have no problem doing something crazy for you.” He hoped that was getting through to her. She had to realize by now that she wasn’t alone and it was okay to be herself. “We aren’t him. We aren’t going to get upset or angry if you do something to embarrass us because we’re more likely to embarrass you first. Actually I think we expect you to do or say something off the wall because that’s who you are and we want you to be you.”

“Sorry.” She breathed.

“Don’t apologize just go up there and be yourself nobody on this boat expects you to be perfect. The rest of us sure aren’t. Go on it’ll be about an hour until we get where we’re going.” He waited for her to move. “Go.” He pointed.

“You sure are bossy.” She shook her head.

“I am the captain you know.” He watched her go and hoped all of this worked out the way it was supposed to.

Frankie saw her sister making her way towards them and shot a look at the curly headed woman “Hey Kendall I just remembered I wanted to show you something down below.”

“Oh okay. We’ll be back.” Kendall got up and went with Frankie.

Bianca watched them go “Have a seat.” She patted the wood beneath her.

“What was that about?”

“Got me, sisters are weird.”

“It’s so true.” She sat cross legged next to Bianca. “I’m actually kinda glad they left.”

“Oh, why’s that?” Bianca wasn’t stupid enough to think it was because she wanted to be alone with her but for just an instant the thought swept through her head.

“I kinda wanted to thank you” she said softly “for what you did back at the dock. I froze up and if you wouldn’t have done that she wouldn’t have stopped.”

“It was my pleasure. You know normally I just do my best to talk my way out of things but with people like her talking is pointless. You can be nice or you can yell and scream at them it doesn’t matter because it just doesn’t get through. I don’t think it would matter what you say to her she’ll just keep doing it and the only thing you can do is just walk away from her and pretend it doesn’t bother you. Maybe then she’ll finally leave you alone because then she won’t get any satisfaction out of it.”

“Huh Jamie was actually right for once.”

“Now there’s something you don’t hear every day.” She chuckled. “What was he right about?”

“You’re really smart.”

“I’ve just been around enough to know how to handle certain kinds of people.” She shrugged.

“You know I’ve never met anybody like you.”

“I hope that’s a good thing.” She laughed “I hate to imagine there’s more than one person walking around stalking their sister’s ex-boyfriend dressed like a chicken.”

Maggie laughed “I hope not either that would somehow take the specialness away.”

“Oh yeah special, in the head maybe.” She looked at Maggie like she was a little nutty.

“Haven’t you noticed that everyone on this boat is a little special in the head? My sister is at war with a squirrel.”

“And your friend James has fantasies about being molested by ghosts in his sleep.”

“Hey he was your friend first that doesn’t say much about your ability to judge someone’s character.”

“Touché. You know I’m starting to think that putting the five of us together probably isn’t the best idea in the world very bad things could happen. Remind me to tell you about the time Kendall got into a catfight with her friend Greenlee in the middle of a bridal show.”

“Don’t forget to tell me about the time your sister…”

“Ha ha.”

“You didn’t say when to remind you.”

“Smart ass.” She laughed. “Did I mention that that’s one of my favorite qualities in a person?”

“Well then you’ve come to the right person because my ass is super smart.” She smirked.

“And this is why you’re gonna be stuck with me for life.”

“For better or worse till death do us part stuck?”

Without warning she was struck with the image of Maggie standing at the altar saying those words to her and she was lost. Maybe a nice simple ceremony on the beach with Maggie’s hair blowing in the gentle breeze coming off the water. The dress would have to be something a little off the wall to match her personality.

“Hellooooo earth to Bianca.” Maggie snapped her fingers in front of her face.

“Huh?” she blinked “What?” she asked unsure how long Maggie had been trying to get her attention.

“You do that a lot don’t you?” she laughed.

“Do what?”

“Zone out. Where’d you go?”

“Oh…umm nowhere. I think the water hypnotized me.” She tried to brush it off. She couldn’t very well tell her that she was planning their wedding. “So how about you give me a tour of the boat?”

“Sure, this is the front” she pointed at where they were sitting “that’s the back” she chucked a thumb over her shoulder “and down below is down below.” She smiled at Bianca when she groaned. “Hey you said for better or worse.”

“I did and I’m sticking to it.”

“Even after you go home?” The thought had only gone through her head fleetingly but it finally hit her that Bianca would be leaving at the end of the week. She wanted to tell her not to go. Bianca had affected her in a way she wasn’t prepared for and where would it leave her once she went home to her real life. She didn’t want to go back to the way things were she wanted it to stay like this forever.

“You’ll be getting lots of phone calls, e-mails, texts, and maybe even those old fashioned things called letters.”

“Who are we writing letters to?” Kendall asked coming back to join them “Didn’t anyone tell you that went out of style with the invention of the internet and cell phones? Anyway Jamie wants us all below he said it’s part of the ‘surprise’ and we’re not allowed to peek.”

“He’s starting to get annoying with his ‘surprises’.” Maggie huffed. “Come on then.” She stood and held her hand out to Bianca feeling a spark when they touched. “Well aren’t you just electrifying.” Maggie winked at her. It was an odd thing every time they touched she felt some kind of physical sensation. Sparks, tingling, she was sure that at some point fire would be involved.

“I think that’s you Sparky.” She returned a wink of her own.

Kendall fought against the giddy little dance threatening to take over her body. That was most definitely flirting and Jamie was officially a genius which of course meant she was going to need to have a chat with a poodle. But she would need to find one that spoke English. She rolled her eyes at herself for letting Jamie’s insanity infect her. She followed behind her sister and had to contain that giddy dance again when she saw Maggie put her hand in the small of Bianca’s back to guide her along the deck to the hatch. She knew that if she could hear what was going through her sister’s head at the contact it wouldn’t likely be coherent. 

When Bianca felt Maggie’s hand on her back she was sure that every religion would condemn her to the pits of hell for taking the Lords name in vain in that many ways. The jolt that had run up her spine had nearly sent her to her knees and that was just a friendly touch. She was absolutely positive that if Maggie ever touched her in a way that could be construed as even remotely passionate she would spontaneously combust.

“Welcome to the no-zone” Frankie said as they joined her “No asking questions, no peeking.”

Kendall slid in with her at the small dinette table and bumped her leg giving a discreet nod at the other two. Frankie’s eyes landed on the pair. Maggie had yet to remove her hand from Bianca’s back and from the look on her face she was perfectly fine to have it there until the day she kicked the bucket.

“See you got to go down…inside…of the boat I mean…under the deck.” Suddenly she was flustered and didn’t know where to stick herself and her sister and Kendall weren’t helping. She could only imagine what was going through Bianca’s head.

“Yes we are down, inside, under the deck of the boat” she said trying to help “and it’s much wetter than I thought it would be.” Bianca watched Kendall bury her head in Frankie’s shoulder. She wanted to turn around go back up and throw herself overboard.

They waited down below in silence none of them able to look at each other until Jamie came down to get Frankie fifteen minutes later.

He looked at them quizzically “Did I miss something?”

“You missed everything.” Frankie mumbled as she passed by him.

Another ten minutes and the other three got the all clear. Maggie again placed her hand in the small of Bianca’s back to guide her and Kendall thought she was going to explode from holding in all the giddiness.

“Oh wow.” Bianca breathed when she looked out over the small island they were docked at.

“It’s a private island but a friend of ours owns a house here, well his dad does but he’s not using it this summer and I thought this would be a good place to hang out for the day.”

“You did get permission for this right?” Kendall asked him.

“Of course I did I’m not big on trespassing or breaking and entering.” He looked at Kendall “Fine I’m not anymore, happy now?”

“Yep.” She chirped.

“Didn’t you two do this earlier?” Frankie asked as she stepped onto the dock with the rest in tow.

They took the well-worn path through the woods following its winding route up the gradual incline until they came upon the house. It was only one story but what it lacked in height it made up for in length and width. Bianca eyed the stone fire pit in the center of the deck and couldn’t help but imagine being snuggled up next to it with Maggie.

“Come on I’ll give you the tour then we can either head down to the beach or hang out by the pool out back.”

“The ocean and a pool? Isn’t that a bit redundant?” Kendall asked.

“Yeah well believe it or not the dude that owns the place doesn’t like sand.” He opened the front door and led them inside.

“And he chose to buy a house on an island which is surrounded by sand?”

“He’s a bit of an oddball.” He shrugged.

“Holy crap.” Kendall looked around “This place would give mom’s a run for the money, before it went up in a fireball.”

“The one that psycho burned down or the one I burned down?” Bianca asked staring right along with her.

“Definitely the one the psycho burned down.”

Frankie and Maggie locked eyes then swiveled their heads in unison to stare at the other pair.

Bianca looked at them “Oh I didn’t mention that did I? I bet you’re starting to question my sanity right about now aren’t you?”

“Don’t worry it was an accident.” Kendall told them.

“Hey maybe I wanted them to think I was a bad ass who torches houses for fun.” Bianca slapped her sister on the shoulder.

“Binks nobody in their right mind would think you’re a bad ass. You can’t even open other people’s mail because you think the F.B.I. will descend on you with helicopters and snipers.”

“It is a federal offense you know.” She huffed.

“Yep you’re a real hardened criminal.” She laughed at her.

“If it makes you feel any better I think you’re a bad ass.” Maggie hooked her arm through Bianca’s and they walked off.

“Okay Scooby gang what’s next for Operation Ta-Ta’s?” Kendall whispered.

“We gotta get Bianca in a bikini.”

Kendall slapped him upside his head and glared.

“What? It’s part of the plan just go with me on this I know what I’m doing.”

“Why does that scare the bajeezus out of me?” Frankie asked when he strode off in the direction of Maggie and Bianca.

“Because you have a healthy sense of self preservation.” Kendall watched him go “He’s done pretty good so far I say we throw caution to the wind and hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”

“Hey Magpie where’d you go?” Frankie called out a few minutes later. “Maggie?” She searched through the house and finally found her sitting alone on the back patio. “What are you doing?” she sat down at the table across from her.

“Just thinking.”

"About?” she leaned forward folding her arms in front of her.

“Just stuff.” She shrugged. “What happened back at the marina, how cool Kendall and Bianca are. About how much better I feel when I’m around them, her. She gets it you know? What it’s like to have people stare at you. She was outed in a tabloid when she was sixteen did you know that?”

“No I didn’t know.” She dropped her chin to rest on her arms and waited for her to continue.

“She was afraid of what people would think of her and she locked herself up in her house.” She traced a pattern in the glass table as she spoke.

“Well she’s not there anymore what changed?”

“She did. She said she stopped caring what people thought of her because the only thing that mattered was what she thought of herself.”

“She’s pretty smart huh? She’s right you know it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. Who cares about their opinions they haven’t lived your life and they have no idea what it’s like to be you. But Maggie I can tell you that nobody thinks anything bad about you in fact a lot of people tell me how much they miss you. If I had a dollar for every time I went out and someone asked me if you were coming I would be rich.”

“They can’t possibly want me around, not the way I am now. I don’t want me around half the time and I really don’t see why Bianca does I’m sure she has plenty of friends and none of them are a basket case. You know she’s leaving at the end of the week to go back home.” Her fingers stilled and she flattened her hand against the table top staring at it.

“I know and it’s gonna suck when she goes I really like her.” This looked like it was going to be a lot easier than she thought.

“Yeah me too. I don't know what it is about her but I think that maybe I’m…”

“Hey” Jamie said interrupting them “I had an idea while I was showing them around we should go for a walk. They have some great trails…” he stopped talking when he noticed Frankie giving him a death stare. “Oooookay I’ll be in the house…” he pointed and left without another word.

“A long walk sounds nice actually.” Maggie got up.

“We’ll talk later?” Frankie asked hopefully. She was finally starting to open up just a little bit and now she might not ever know what Maggie was going to say, and it was going to drive her nuts.

*

*

*

“We’re lost.” Frankie muttered “Again.”

“We’re not lost.” Jamie told her.

“We’re gonna have to survive on nuts, berries and tree bark soup.”

“It’s an island you can’t get lost on an island!” Jamie threw his hands out and spun in a circle.

“You love torturing him don’t you?” Kendall asked her laughing.

“Hey everyone needs a hobby right?”

“Guys…” Jamie had stopped spinning and was looking around like he had lost his mind.

They both looked at him.

“Where are Bianca and Maggie?”

“You lost my sister?!” They said in unison.

“I didn’t lose them they wondered off, not my fault.”

“MAGGIE!” Frankie called out and waited for an answer.

“BIANCA!” Kendall tried.

“On the bright side they’re together and that was the whole point of this trip right?”

“Yes but…” Kendall started.

“No buts, they’ll find their way back or we’ll find them and in the mean time they’ll talk. I suggest we don’t look that hard for them for a while.”

“Yeah and what if one of them gets hurt and needs help what then?” Kendall asked him. “We don’t have Lassie to tell us Timmy fell down a well.”

“Oh my god you scare me sometimes.” Jamie turned and walked away shaking his head. “Fine let’s start looking for wells.”

*

*

*

“So do you come here often?” Bianca asked as they walked along the wooded path.

Maggie looked at her and laughed.

“Sorry I couldn’t resist.”

“I used to, before. I had forgotten how peaceful it is well it is when there isn’t a raging party going on.”

“Yeah I don’t remember the last time I heard this much silence. There’s no such thing as peaceful in Pine Valley it’s one drama after another there.”

“You’re not happy there?”

Bianca thought for a second “Yes and no. I spent my childhood with my dad in California so Pine Valley doesn’t really have any sentimental meaning for me. My mom and Uncle Jack are there and a few old family friends but as for the rest of the crazies I could leave them in a heartbeat.”

“What about being close to your sister, don’t you miss her when you’re away?”

“Like crazy, and Jamie too. Being here with both of them again made me remember that all the fun I’ve ever had was with them and the thought of going home kind of depresses me. They were my island of sanity and I think if they had both been there when my relationship fell apart I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself.” She stuck her hands in her pockets.

“I don’t understand. Why would you be hard on yourself?”

“Because I should’ve ended it long before I did.” She shrugged “And if I’m being totally honest I should’ve never gotten involved with her in the first place.”

“Why not was she a horrible person, she hogged the covers didn’t she?” she bumped her shoulder.

Bianca smiled “No she’s a very nice person and smart and beautiful…I just didn’t love her. I wanted to and I thought if I gave it more time it would eventually happen but it just made me more miserable. There was no spark you know? I always thought that when I fell in love it would be that all consuming I can’t live without you kind of love.”

“And you didn’t feel that for her?”

“No.” she shook her head.

“If it makes you feel less alone I’ve never felt that either.”

“It does make me feel less alone but it doesn’t make me feel any better, for either one of us. Aren’t we a pair?” Bianca sighed. “I kept waiting for it, that intangible thing that you can’t put into words. It’s like” she thought about what Jamie had said to her just days ago “when you meet that person you can’t remember what life was like before them and you can’t imagine your life without them. You wanna know what Kendall told me?”

Maggie nodded and waited.

“She told me that my heart knew Lena wasn’t the right one. She thinks my heart is waiting for its other half and somewhere out there is someone who has it.”

“I think she might be right. I mean there are people who fall in love with someone new every other week and there are people who fall in love once and it’s for the rest of their life. I’ve loved people but I’ve never been in love” she lowered her voice to a whisper “not even at the beginning, when I first started dating Jonathan.”

“Do you think you’ll ever find it? Love I mean.”

“I don’t know I can’t even say that I hope I do one day because right now I just...” she trailed off gazing off into the trees lining the path.

“You’re still trying to heal.” She finished for her.

“Yeah. But the thing is that I’m not sure I ever will.”

“You will Maggie” without thinking she reached for Maggie’s hand and laced their fingers together. She wanted to comfort her, to somehow give her strength and courage and she wanted to make sure Maggie knew she was there for her no matter what. “We all deal with things in our own way and we all heal at our own pace. Did I tell you that before I came here I cried every single day for almost six months?”

“No. Does crying help?”

“Not really and it cost me a fortune in Kleenex.”

Maggie laughed at her and held onto her just a bit tighter.

*

*

*

He followed them at a distance the camera lens catching every moment. He didn’t know what Joni wanted with all this but he was making bank and he wasn’t going to question her.

*

*

*

“Has anyone told you that you have a great laugh?” Bianca asked.

“A few but it’s usually some cheesy line that guys use to try to charm me.” She flattened her palm on her chest “Why Ms. Montgomery are you trying to charm me?”

“What? I…umm…wha…uhhh…” Where was a nice dark cave when she needed one?

Maggie laughed at her stammering “I’m joking besides I’m sure you can come up with something more original than that. In fact I bet you’ve charmed the pants off of everyone you’ve ever met just by being you. That whole Jerry Maguire you had me at hello thing.”

“Actually I like yours better, that whole you had me at hey look a concrete floor I think it needs a hug thing.”  She laughed.

Maggie hung her head “That was not one of my finer moments.”

“Well you might not think so but I think it’s the best impression anyone has ever made on me.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Maggie looked at her like she had grown tentacles from her head. “You really are cuckoo for cocoa puffs aren’t you?” She laughed.

“Hey I stole those cocoa puffs from you.” She bumped her shoulder. “Seriously though everyone I know is so uptight and worried about appearances that they go out of their way to make everyone think they’re perfect. They don’t do crazy and unfortunately I have to include myself in that.” She sighed.

“Yeah but that’s understandable. Your mom is famous which makes you a target so you have to be careful.”

“I don’t want to have to be careful though Maggie. I’m far from perfect and I hate having to pretend I am just to keep the tabloids off my back. Being in Haven Bay has been the most free I’ve ever felt in my life except for when I was living with my dad.”

“I’m glad you feel like you can be yourself here.”

“A big part of that is the amazing company I’m in you know. Being here with you and Frankie and Jamie and Kendall has shown me what real life is supposed to be like.”

“I think it’s more them than me.”

“Oh no it’s definitely you. When I’m with you I feel like I can do or say anything because with you the whole world just kind of fades away.” She wasn’t sure she should have said that but it was the truth and since she had come this far she might as well keep going and get it all out there “When I’m with you I don’t care what anyone thinks of me and I’m not worried about the outside world because I feel safe and comfortable with you. I could do something completely stupid and I know you won’t be sitting there judging me. And being around you makes me happy.”

She stopped in her tracks too stunned by the words to move. “Wow, Bianca I…I don’t know what to say.”

She shrugged “I just wanted you to know that because of you I’m starting to feel more like me than I have in a long time.”

“Me too.” She breathed and felt her heart flutter in her chest when she felt Bianca’s hand squeeze hers.

They continued to walk along talking quietly until they found themselves looking out over the sparkling blue ocean. Bianca stared out into the open water her mind drifting off.

“There you go again.” Maggie chuckled at her waving her hand in front of the brunette’s face.

“Oh I’m so sorry.” She said sheepishly. “I was just thinking.”

“About?”

“About how life never seems to go the way you think it will.”

“Tell me about it.” She walked to the edge of the embankment and stared down at the steep drop.

Bianca stared at her back feeling like an idiot for saying anything. “I think” she said walking up beside her “that sometimes we take the wrong path in life thinking it’s the right one or maybe it’s the only one. But eventually we do find the right one and it leads us to exactly where we’re supposed to be.”

“Do you really think so?” she dropped down into the grass and sat hugging her knees to her chest.

Bianca mirrored her position. “I think that everything that happened with my ex was supposed to happen the way it did. If it didn’t I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have found Jamie and I wouldn’t have met you and Frankie. And as crazy as this sounds the pain and misery I’ve been feeling was worth it because now I have two amazing new friends that I wouldn’t trade for all the world.”

“You really wouldn’t change anything?”

“Nope not if it would mean giving up what has so far been the most amazing four days of my life. You’re good for the soul Maggie Stone if I could bottle you up and take you home with me I would.”

“How about a magic lamp instead? I always thought a genie’s lamp would be a cool place to live.”

“And whenever I’m feeling sad I’ll just give it a good rub and you’ll come.” She froze with horror stricken eyes.

Maggie looked over and at her and swore she saw steam rising from her flaming face. She squinted at her as her brain absorbed what she had just said and she suddenly threw her head back laughing so hard tears were streaming down her face. “Oh my god” she heaved “your face is priceless I wish I had a camera!”

“Ugh shoot me now.” She buried her face in her hands listing over onto her side into the grass.

“Not a chance.” Maggie moved to lean over her and pulled her hands away. “Come on it’s not that bad I’ve said way more embarrassing things. 

“Ha I highly doubt it.” She picked at the grass not meeting her eyes.

“You wanna have a contest?” she shifted to where she could lay in the grass facing the distressed brunette. “We’ll see which one of us has the most embarrassing story.”

“Chicken suit.”

“Bad Superman impression.”

“Oops I forgot to roll down the window.”

“The seatbelt monster ate my foot.”

“Child’s play. I have a story that could top all of yours put together.”

“Oh you think so do you? Well do tell.”

“Spring break in Cancun."

"Ooooh I get to hear the spring break story I feel so honored."

"Just don't tell my sister I told you she'll never speak to me again."

"I swear on Jamie's hair." she snorted.

"I went with Jamie and we were out on a friend’s boat and there was just a bit of drinking involved. The girl I had a maddening crush on was on a boat not far from us and my slightly inebriated brain thought it would be a romantic gesture to go to the edge and yell Katarina.”

“Ah drunk brain, a pretty girl and seeing Overboard too many times not a good combination.” She smiled softly.

“Not even. I leaned out too far and over I went when I came back up oops! I lost my bikini top in front of about two hundred people.”

“How many drunk frat guys jumped in to try to save you?” she stifled a chuckle.

“All of them.” She couldn’t help the tiny smile. “Go ahead and laugh Jamie did for two months.”

"Nope I think it’s kind of sweet. Did anyone at least yell back Arturo?”

“No.” She sighed. "I don't think that crowd even got the reference."

"Uncultured heathens." She smiled faintly dropping her eyes from Bianca’s. “I would have.” She put her hand over Bianca’s to still its movement. “Don’t give up your Katarina is out there somewhere just waiting for you.”

Despite her best efforts to keep her heart caged it soared at the simple statement. She didn’t think it was possible for her heart to have found a better match for itself than Maggie. “I’ll try not to.” She said quietly. “I think we should probably get back I’m sure Kendall has gone nuclear by now.”

“Let’s stay for a few more minutes this is nice. It’s peaceful.” She knew what she was feeling had nothing to do with their surroundings. It was the completely amazing girl who was looking at her and actually seeing her and not what Jonathan had done to her. Bianca brought a peace to her soul that she didn’t think she would ever find again and she wasn’t ready to let that go just yet.

“You won’t hear any arguments from me.”

Maggie flicked her eye’s up at the sky. “I think I see Snoopy.” She said bringing her gaze back down.

Bianca looked. “You must be seeing things that is clearly a turtle with a rabbit on its back.”

“How in the world are you getting that?” she rolled onto her back to make a closer inspection.

“Look. “ She rolled over to point. “See there are the rabbit’s ears” she outlined them “and there’s the turtles head.”

“Still not seeing it maybe I’m not at the right angle.”

“Well come here then.” She pulled her so their heads were touching. “See it now?”

Maggie squinted flicking her eyes quickly to Bianca’s heart shaped face then back up. “Yep I see it now totally a turtle with a rabbit on his back.”

*

*

*

Just feet away completely unnoticed by either Trevor sat snapping away trying to stifle his growing glee. Joni was going to give him a small fortune for all the pictures he was getting.

Chapter Text

“Well?” Kendall asked when she met back up with Jamie and Frankie on the back patio.

“No luck.” He shrugged.

“We’re on a frigging island it’s not like they can get very far.” She threw her hands up. Kendall’s head snapped around when she heard a familiar laugh coming towards them. “Crap don’t just stand there look busy.” She hissed at him.

“What?” he looked at her like the last little bit of sanity had finally leaked out of her head.

“If they see us just standing here they’ll think we’re up to something.”

“We are up to something.”

“I know that genius but we don’t want them to know that.” She huffed and rolled her eyes. “What the hell am I supposed to do with you?”

“I can think of a few things.” He raised his brows and wiggled them.

“Not in your dreams Martin now look busy.”

“Okay what am I supposed to be busy doing?”

“I don’t know do I have to think of everything around here?”

Frankie watched them and wanted to laugh but she didn’t think that would be very constructive “Pretend you’re looking for something” she spotted the grill “go look for the stuff that goes in there.” She pointed at it.

“You mean the charcoal?”

“Yeah that stuff, I mean we were planning to use it anyway right? And it just so happens we really don’t know where the stuff is.”

“Finally someone using their brain, good thinking you go” she shooed him away then looked at Frankie “we’re gonna have a seat and pretend to be in deep conversation but make sure we can see them.”

“There” Frankie pointed to the pool “come on.” She kicked her shoes off as she went and plopped herself down on the edge and dropped her feet into the water.

“Genius.” Kendall followed suit and had just dipped her feet into the cool water when they appeared from the edge of the wooded area directly across from them.

Frankie bounced beside Kendall unable to contain her excitement “Look!” she squeaked.

“Why do I find it kind of off putting that you’re so into this?” Kendall asked trying to keep the smile from taking over her face. “They’re just holding hands it doesn’t mean anything.”

“My ass it doesn’t mean anything how often do you hold hands with your ‘friends’?” she air quoted.

“Well okay unless they’re upset and I’m trying to comfort them never I guess.”

“Do either one of them look upset?” she looked from the curly headed woman to the smiling pair headed towards them.

“Nope can’t say that they do, they look really happy actually.”

“Happy Kendall. My sister looks happy do you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen a smile that big on her face?”

“Maybe Bianca is telling her something funny.”

“My god what the hell is wrong with you?”

“Hey somebody has to keep us grounded in reality we can’t all be shipping your sister off into lesbianland. We need to collect more data before we can determine where Maggie falls on the queer for my sister ‘o’ meter.”

“What do you suggest we do?”

"Exactly what we’re doing until we can think of something better.” She turned her head “Hey where did you get off to? We were getting ready to send out a search party.”

“I guess we kind of wandered off didn’t we?” Bianca came around reluctantly letting go of Maggie’s hand to sit next to Kendall. The loss of physical contact made her immediately feel like she had lost part of herself.

“Did you see anything interesting on your walk?” Frankie asked leaning back on her hands.

“Yeah we saw Big Foot having a tea party with the Tooth Fairy and ironically enough the Tooth Fairy is toothless and Big Foot has teeny tiny feet, who knew?!” Maggie shook her head as if the news was shocking.

Bianca laughed at her “Mind sharing those cocoa puffs?” she asked Maggie.

“Not at all.” she peered around the roadblocks keeping her from seeing Bianca and smiled when the brunette did the same thing.

“How kind of you thank you.”

“Hey anything you want you got it.” She winked at her.

“I’m gonna go start getting the stuff for the barbecue.” Kendall got up.

“I’ll show you where everything’s at.” Frankie stood and walked into the house with her and turned to close the sliding glass door. “Hey look.” She pointed.

They watched as Maggie scooted closer to Bianca.

“Well now isn’t that interesting.” Kendall watched curiously “It’s like they were just waiting for us to get out of their way.”

“Am I the only one who has You Got It by Roy Orbison stuck in my head right now?” She squinted into the light outside “Hey Daphne?”

“Yeah Fred?”

“Velma’s plan is working, sort of.”

“How do you mean?” She cocked her head adding this newest event into the mix and trying to decipher what it could all mean.

“Maggie seems better, like she doesn’t have Jonathan running around in her head. You know she told me a few days ago right after they met that Bianca made her forget him and I didn’t think it was really possible but I see it now. When they’re together it’s like they’re the only ones who exist. I’ve never seen her respond to anyone like this before that’s why I think there has to be something more than just friendship between them. What if it’s like, they’re two halves of a whole?”

“If you say they complete each other I’m throwing you in the barbecue pit.” She said “You do know that friends can be halves of a whole. I have a friend like that, well she’s my kinda step sister slash arch nemesis, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her.”

“You seemed to be really on board with this not that long ago what happened?”

“I came back down to earth a little bit.”

“ARRRRRGGGGG!” she threw her hands up and stormed off.

“What? I said a little bit!” she stalked off after her.

Maggie and Bianca both turned their heads at the racket coming from behind them. “What is up with those two?” Bianca asked squinting at the glass door.

“Beats me, maybe they’re secretly in love with each other and don’t realize it.” She laughed at the absurd thought.

*

*

*

“This is seriously the suit you packed for me?” Bianca held up two scraps of cloth to inspect them “I’ve seen Victoria’s Secret models wearing more than this.”

“Live a little Binks there’s no one else here, no sleazy tabloid reporters, no pervy guys…well except Jamie, and there aren’t any cameras.” She flopped down on the bed and looked up at her sister “See what it feels like to be free you never know you might like it and decide to say to hell with expectations.”

“Do you know how hard that is for me Kendall? I’ve lived my whole life this way I can’t just suddenly stop being...me.” She sat and threw herself back onto the bed. “I want to I really do but I just can’t stop thinking about all the what if’s.”

“Okay I have a what if for you, what if you live your life the way you want to and not the way you think everyone else expects you to?”

“What if my picture ends up splashed all over the place…in this” she held up the eensy weensy black bikini “mom will have a stroke.”

“This isn’t mom’s life Binks it’s yours. Stop asking yourself what will mom say if I do this or do that and just do it.”

“Wise words make sure you send a thank you note to Nike for them.”

“I’m being serious here take advantage of it because you know it doesn’t happen often.”

“Well what do you suggest I do Yoda throw caution to the wind and hope for the best?”

“That’s exactly what I suggest” she sat up and waited for Bianca to follow suit before speaking again “look at Maggie she’s afraid of what people think of her. Imagine how much it could help her to see you living your life without constantly questioning every decision you make and wondering what people will think of you for it.”

“That’s not fair Kendall don’t bring Maggie into this our situations aren’t the same.”

“I’m not saying they are but the thought process behind it is. From everything I’ve seen and heard she had a personality that was bigger than life and that scumbag turned her into someone who’s now afraid to be that girl. All those years of mom telling you what is and is not okay to do turned you into someone who’s afraid to live because of what might happen and you know what I say?”

“Tell me oh wise one what do you say?”

“To hell with consequences.” She waved her hands around “So what if you end up in the tabloids wearing this” she waved the bikini in Bianca’s face “I bet it would be the highest selling issue of The Exposer ever.”

“Kendall…” she rubbed the throbbing vein in her forehead “I don’t want to end up in the tabloids that’s the whole point.”

“Well baby sister I think you have to ask yourself at the end of the day are you happy with your life the way it is or do you want more? Because what you’re doing here, this isn’t living. I think it’s about time you decide for yourself what you want out of life and just go for it. I think the last thing you’ll want is to look back at your life one day and think if only…it’ll be too late and you get one shot there aren’t any do over’s.” She stood and walked to the door “At least think about what I said because more than anything I want you to be happy, I want you to love your life and you can’t honestly tell me that you do.” She pulled the door open and disappeared.

Bianca was left clutching the cloth in her hands and Kendall’s words ringing in her ears.

*

*

*

“I’m gonna feel weird.” Maggie looked down at the t shirt and brown board shorts she was currently wearing. “The three of you will be in swimsuits and I’ll be in this.”

“Well I packed your bikini too…just in case. It’s in there.” She pointed to the bag on the dresser.

“Frankie” She said quietly without looking at her “you know I can’t…”

“You can Magpie” she said just as quietly “you’re still not convinced that they don’t feel sorry for you are you?”

She shrugged. She knew they weren’t like everyone else but it had been so long since she had been exposed in that way. “I know they don’t but…”

“No buts I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with but I kinda feel like we’re…family you know?”

“Yeah I do. I kinda feel the same way like I’ve known her forever.”

It didn’t go over her head that Maggie had said her and not them and she hoped she was doing a good job of containing her childlike glee. “So what are you afraid of? You don’t have to worry about anything with them. Just…think about it okay?” Operation Ta-ta’s was proving to be extremely fruitful.

“Yeah okay can you give me a few minutes?” She looked up at her and could see the truth of it in her eyes. She really didn’t have anything to be afraid of except her own mind.

“Yeah I’m gonna go see if everyone else is ready to go, meet us out front when you’re ready and we’ll head down.”

“Okay.” She stood there staring at the bag as her sister made her way out and left her alone with a decision to make. She didn’t know if she was strong enough to fight against her own doubts but Frankie was right, she didn’t have anything to worry about with them.

A few minutes later she walked out of the room still not sure of herself but the choice was hers for better or worse. Bianca had said those words to her not that long ago and she knew the brunette had meant it she didn’t seem like the kind of person to say things she didn’t mean. She walked into the living room with Bianca on her mind and it didn’t register right away that she was the only one there. She walked to the front door to see if they were waiting outside and just as she put her hand on the knob she heard a voice behind her.

“Hey there you are they already headed down” Bianca said coming into the room “I was waiting for you so we could walk down together.”

She turned to face the brunette. “I’m sorry I took so long you should’ve just walked down with them.” She was happy that Bianca had been the one to wait for her it meant she would get to spend a few more minutes learning more about her.

“Don’t be silly I’ll wait for you anytime no matter how long it takes.” Those words actually hurt. She knew there was no chance of anything beyond friendship but if that’s all she could have she would take it.  “Come on munchkin let’s go build some sandcastles.”

“Sandcastles, really?” She looked at her smiling.

She shrugged “I never got to build any when I was little my step mom hated the beach. There are a lot of things I’ve never done and I’ve recently decided that I’m going to do all of them.”

“Oh yeah? Why now?” she opened the door and they stepped into the warm midday sun.

“Because life is too short to let other people dictate how you live it and I’ve let it go on for too long. Now it’s my turn to live for me and not for them and the first order of business is to build castles.”

“Wow you’re really jumping in with both feet aren’t ya, living life on the edge.” She bumped her shoulder as they walked slowly down the path to the beach.

“Hey baby steps I gotta ease my way into it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try jaywalking.”

Maggie threw her head back and laughed “Is jaywalking something you’ve really always wanted to do?”

“Well no…but I’ve never done it because I was worried I would get caught and given a ticket. There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody would see it and next thing you know I was being arrested for public intoxication.”

“I see your point. Well then how about I jaywalk with you and we can be publicly intoxicated together.” She flashed that crooked grin “But just out of curiosity what else is on your list?”

“I don’t know yet but I’ll let you know when I think of something.” She laughed. “Feel free to throw out some suggestions and help a girl out.”

“Oh I think I can come up with a few things but nothing as outrageous as crossing the street in an area not designated for pedestrians.”

They fell into silence as they reached the end of the path and stood there neither making a move to leave the concealment of the foliage. Maggie glanced up at Bianca and could see the hesitation written all over her face and she imagined hers looked much the same.

“You okay?” Maggie asked quietly turning back to stare ahead.

“Yeah I’m fine just…” She sighed and slumped just slightly “I was thinking about something Kendall said to me before we came down. What about you, are you okay?” she glanced over and saw the same expression she was sure she was wearing.

“Yeah great, just thinking about something Frankie said to me.”

“Do you remember that picture I showed you when you came to Kendall’s, the one of me and Jamie at the water park?”

“Yeah.” Without trying the image popped into her head.

“That picture was taken just a few months before The Exposer put the eyes of the world on me. That was the last time I was out in public in a swimsuit and I know we’re the only ones here but the paranoia has become a part of me…”

“You feel exposed like you might as well be parading around naked in front of the cameras.” Her breathing grew shallow and she could feel her body start to shake “I feel the same way…but for a different reason. There are…I have…” her breath hitched in her throat “What Jonathan did…it left scars.”

Bianca instinctually reached out and took Maggie’s hand in hers holding tight. “We don’t have to it’s our choice right? But what Kendall said to me, she’s right I can’t keep going the way I am I have to try to move beyond all of it. She asked me if I was happy and she was right again I can’t honestly say that I am and it’s because I let everything effect the way I live my life. I’m tired of constantly worrying about consequences and I just want to let go.”

“Live in the moment and whatever happens happens.” Maggie said thinking back on how that had always been the way she lived…before.

“Right, I think it’s about time. I’ve got you and the three stooges by my side and I’ve never felt safer to be myself.” She tugged gently at Maggie’s hand still wrapped securely in her own and together they stepped onto the warm sand.

“Daphne they’re holding hands again.” Frankie said when she spotted them headed their way.

“I see that.” Kendall turned to watch them and noticed Bianca was wearing a tank and shorts and not a barely there bikini. She hoped she was wearing it underneath because just once she wanted her sister to do the unexpected.

“What are the three of you up to now?” Maggie asked sitting next to her sister on the lounge chair.

“Why do you automatically think we’re up to something?” Jamie got up reaching into the cooler for a beer. He had seen…something. He wasn’t sure what but there was just something about the two of them together that defied explanation.

“Umm because we know you?” Bianca said taking a seat next to Kendall and across from Maggie.

“She’s got a point.” Kendall shrugged “But we’re not up to anything we were just deciding what time we should head back. Frankie was listening to the weather report and she said there’s a storm coming but they don’t know where exactly it’s gonna hit.”

“Oh…how bad is it supposed to be?” She asked her sister. “I saw that movie, The Perfect Storm and I don’t wanna be the next one they make a ‘based on a true story’ movie about.”

“It’s not gonna get that bad but if you wanna head back just in case we can.” Jamie looked at her hoping she told him no.

“No that’s okay if you say it’ll be fine then that’s good enough for me.”

“Excellent” Frankie clapped her hands “now what do the four of you say we hit the water.”

Jamie was up like a shot and pulling off his tee shirt “Check out these guns” he flexed his biceps “I could be an action star with these pythons.”

“Oh god somebody find a pin so I can pop his head.” Frankie said shoving him towards the water. “You coming Magpie?” She looked at her wondering if all that time she had spent in the room meant she had given some serious thought to what she had said.

“Yeah I’m right behind you.” Her heart was pounding she felt lightheaded and she wanted to throw up. It shouldn’t be like this it was just a swimsuit she wasn’t deciding whether to give someone a kidney.

“Okay but you know the rule...last one in is a rotten egg!” Her voice floated over her shoulder as she ran for the water.

“Binks?” Kendall got up dropping her sunglasses and untying her sarong.

“Me too, I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Her eyes involuntarily darted around looking for intruders.

Kendall shrugged and watched them curiously before turning and making her way through the sand.

“So…” Bianca started “I guess making huge, possibly life altering decisions is a big step.” She rubbed a hand over her face “Because deciding whether to wear a swimsuit to the beach or not is right up there with deciding whether to donate a kidney or not.”

Maggie flicked her eyes up and marveled at the words she had just thought herself. It was almost like she and Bianca were one person who just happened to be in separate bodies. “Maybe not for most people but for us it is.”

“We aren’t most people are we? Well I want to be like most people and if I can’t let go here then there isn’t a chance I can do it anywhere that’s populated. Baby steps right?” She pushed up from the chair and walked out into the sun leaving the shade of the umbrella behind. “I declare this to be step one in the ‘Bianca Montgomery says to hell with what if’s plan’.” She reached down to the hem of her shirt and in one swift movement pulled it up over her head and flung it towards Maggie followed quickly by her shorts.

Maggie’s eyes were glued to the form before her. Seeing it in a picture and seeing it in real life were two very different things and she found herself overcome with dizziness, as if her world had just been knocked from its axis and she was spinning off into space. She blinked unsure if her legs would support her as she moved to stand and in fact they wobbled just a bit before her knees locked and she was walking towards Bianca. Her eyes were pinned to her face searching for something that would tell her what to do. What she found was reassurance in the brunette’s eyes that she would be okay with whatever choice she made.

She saw a big smile engulf Bianca’s face and she stopped looking at her outstretched hand “Baby steps.” She whispered to herself then looked back up “Baby steps.” Her hands moved slowly and pulled at the tee shirt inching it higher until it was free and hanging from her fingers. She could feel the sun warming the newly exposed skin and soaking into her body.

“You’re a big fan of neon orange aren’t you?” She looked down at herself “We look like Halloween next time I vote we coordinate for Christmas.” She let her eyes linger, probably longer than she should have but she couldn’t help it. Without question Maggie was the most beautiful woman she had ever laid eyes on.

Maggie laughed at her and marveled at just how at ease Bianca could make her feel. “It is a bit bright isn’t it?”

“Yep but it still doesn’t compare to the girl wearing it, I don’t think anything could ever outshine you not even the sun itself.”

“I think that might be pushing it.” She laughed.

“Hmmm.” She turned her eyes up pretending to be in deep thought. “Nope I don’t think so and I stand by my words.”

Maggie looked down at herself. “Can you uh…” she cleared her throat. “Can you see them?” she lifted her eyes back to Bianca’s face.

“See what?” she smiled softly. “The only thing I see is someone who is in need of a tan …” she pulled her lips into her mouth.

“Oh you’re one to talk pasty princess!” she pointed her finger up and down Bianca’s body. “Just how long has it been since you had a tan? I’m guessing not in the last decade?”

“Hey people would kill for my skin.” She paused. “Oh god I just creeped myself out. Now all I’m gonna think about is Frankie’s machete wielding cannibals.”

“I think we’re safe here.” She chuckled at the brunette. “But if you see Wile E. Coyote I’d suggest staying away from anything that looks like a tunnel because if you run into a wall face first I’m gonna laugh.”

“And here I thought you were my knight in shining armor who vowed to protect me.” She smirked. “I don’t think the knight would laugh at the damsel in distress.”

“Perhaps not but I don’t think the damsel ever rammed her face into a window without rolling it down first.” She smirked back.

She opened her mouth to say something then snapped it shut. “Crap you got me there.” She hung her head. “I’m never living that one down.” She picked her eyes up. “It was pretty funny though wasn’t it?” A reluctant smile slipped across her lips. “Fine you’re allowed to laugh but…” she held up her index finger. “Only if there’s no blood.”

“Deal.” She stuck her hand out to shake on it.

Bianca took it and heard a snap as electricity sparked between them. “You know that keeps happening.”

“I noticed.” She chuckled. “I guess together we’re just electrifying.” She winked. It was meant to be a joke but the second they touched her insides had turned to the consistency of warm jelly.

“If we keep going like this we’ll set each other on fire.” She laughed letting her eyes linger just a little longer on the tiny blonde. She had no doubt that Maggie would blaze a trail of fire through her and she would gladly let it consume her.

Maggie paused turning serious. “You know I don’t think that would be a bad thing. Maybe if we burn down we can erase the old us and we can start all over again kind of like a phoenix.”

“Oh Maggie that’s…”

“Stupid? Yeah sorry.” She hung her head kicking at the sand.

“No.” she shook her head stepping closer. “I think it’s perfect and fitting. We’ll rise from the ashes of our old lives and be reborn into a new life. Oh I love that.”

“Really?” she asked popping her eyes back up in surprise.

“Yes really.” She took her hand squeezing it gently. “You and me Maggie, we’ll rise stronger than we were before. We’ll show the world that it can knock us down but we’ll just keep picking ourselves back up.”

“Do you think so?”

“I think as long as I have you and those goofballs back there” she chucked her thumb at the water “I can do anything and I want you to feel the same way.”

“I do. I kind of feel like everything that happened to me, everything he did to me is burning away and a brand new me is being born. And it’s because of you and those goofballs. If it weren’t for you and Kendall I wouldn’t be here right now. Frankie and Jamie have been trying so hard and I love them for it but they were there they saw what he did. I guess a part of me couldn’t help but feel like when they looked at me that’s all they saw. But you and Kendall…you didn’t see and when you look at me you don’t see the black eyes and the broken bones all you see is me.”

“That’s because what happens to us isn’t all that we are. It changes us, sometimes in ways that we don’t like but that doesn’t mean we can’t go back and it doesn’t mean that we are what people see. Even if I had seen it I wouldn’t see that when I look at you. What I would see is exactly what I see now an amazingly strong woman who’s bigger than life and so full of love and laughter. He can’t take that from you Maggie it’s who you are at the very core of you and he can never touch that.”

“Do you think I can be her again?”

"I think you already are.” She whispered. “Come on you can help me build my first sandcastle.”

“What about the goofballs?”

"I don’t think they’ll miss us for a bit.”

“In that case you’re so on and you know it just so happens I’m a world renowned sandcastle architect.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before? I was just gonna go for a nice modest castle since it’s my first time but now…” she shook her long chocolate locks “now I’m thinking two stories and moat and maybe a drawbridge. We can build a little town…”

“Whoa” she put her hand out to stop her “let’s not get in over our heads we need to ease you in slowly you’re a newbie.”

“Aww can I at least have the moat? Please, please, please?” she gave her best pout.

“Okay you can have the moat but we’re sticking to one story for now we have to see how you handle this before we try for two.”

“Yay I get a moat.” She bounced and clapped like a five year old.

“Wow it really doesn’t take much to make you happy does it?”

“Nope I’m easy.”

Maggie cocked an eyebrow and tried to hide the smirk.

“You know what I mean.” She huffed and hung her head.

“I think this makes us even with the whole unintentional comment thing.” She laughed. “I’ll get the buckets and shovels.”

Maggie came back carrying the construction equipment and dropped down on her knees next to Bianca “They keep these for the kids when they come for family stuff I guess today we’re the kids.” She laughed.

“I never really got to be a kid I was more of a tiny grown up. I’m doing this all backwards, maybe when I’m fifty I’ll get to be a teenager.” She laughed at herself but it was a sad truth. “What about you? I bet you and Frankie were…precocious.”

“Ha” she snorted “you could say that. We kept our dad on his toes. I remember one time Frankie decided to go ghost hunting and got stuck in the chimney, yeah he wasn’t exactly happy when he had to call the fire department to get her out.”

“So getting stuck in small spaces wasn’t a recent development then.” She laughed.

“No I guess she figures since she’s so small she can fit anywhere. We were playing hide and seek in a construction site near our house once and I found her staring at me from inside one of those plastic tube thingy’s they use for plumbing. I had to roll her home and dad had to cut her out with a sawsall.”

“I bet he wasn’t happy about that one either.” She shook her head “What about you? I don’t imagine you spent your childhood with your nose stuck in a book while Frankie was out getting into sticky situations.”

“I have to confess I was always right there beside her, who else was gonna get her out of all those sticky situations.” She filled a bucket with sand as she spoke.

“So what was your thing swinging from light fixtures?” She laughed at the image of a five year old Maggie hanging from a chandelier.

“Actually…”

“Oh my god you didn’t.”

“It was fun you should try it sometime.” She winked at the laughing brunette.

“I wish I would’ve known you when we were kids I would’ve loved to have a friend like you.”

“I’m sure your friends were great.”

“They were but….they weren’t like you. I never felt like I fit in with them I tried but I always felt out of place of course when I got older I realized why I felt that way.”

“The whole hey I like boobs thing.” She gave her a lopsided grin.

“Yeah” she laughed “I think if I would’ve had you I wouldn’t have felt like I needed to fit in because you would’ve let me be me. Like you wouldn’t expect me to be someone I’m not.”

“I wouldn’t have…and I don’t now. I like you just the way you are.”

“Well I like you just the way you are too.” She flipped a bucket over and pulled it up “Look I did it!” she squeaked happily.

“We’ll make a castle builder out of you yet.” She looked up smiling and ticked her eyes over Bianca’s shoulder “Don’t look now but your sister is headed this way I think our castle building lesson is over.”

“Oh but I was just starting to get the hang of it.”

“Hey” Kendall stopped and squeegee’d the water from her hair “are you coming in or are the two of you planning to build a franchise?”

“Ooooh a franchise” Bianca said “The Montgomery-Stone Castle Company I like it.” She nodded loving the way their names fit together perfectly.

“I like how Montgomery-Stone rolls right off the tongue like it was meant to be.” She smiled happily at the grinning brunette.

Kendall thought that was just one more thing stacking up in the Scooby Gang’s favor. She was about to hand them one of her patented sarcastic comments when she felt arms wrap around her from behind and lift her from the sand. “What the…put me down!” She slapped at Jamie’s arms and kept yelling at him right up until he dropped her in the water.

“Well that was entertaining” Bianca laughed “how long do you think we can get away with this before Jamie comes for us next?”

“Umm…probably about….three….two….” She watched Jamie clear the edge of the water “RUN!!” she took off leaving Jamie to decide on a moving target or easy prey.

Bianca moved but it was too late he grabbed her by the waist from behind and started hauling her to the water. “Sorry Bianca but you didn’t move fast enough.” He laughed triumphantly.

Maggie quickly changed direction throwing sand behind her as she ran full speed and launched herself into the air landing with a soft thud and latching onto Jamie’s leg “Unhand her you fiend!” she yelled as he dragged her through the sand.

“Help damsel in distress!” Bianca yelled still wrapped in Jamie’s arms “Put me down you oaf.” She struggled against him to no avail.

Jamie was not deterred in any way and continued on laughing maniacally “I have the traitors to the throne my queen what shall I do with them?” he asked as he hit the water’s edge and heard Maggie sputter below him.

“Off with their heads!” Kendall yelled back at him.

“As you wish.” He dropped Bianca with a small screech.

Frankie and Kendall just laughed as Bianca splashed spastically and Maggie tried to use Jamie’s trunks to haul herself up. He grabbed at them and started swatting at her hands trying to get her to let go and when he saw her face he realized she had every intention of pantsing him.

“Payback Martin!” she yelled as he dragged her further into the water.

When Bianca finally found her footing she saw Maggie struggling to keep her hold on Jamie’s shorts and decided to lend a hand. She dove in and came up beside her taking a handful of cloth and tugging as hard as she could. In the process Jamie lost his balance went face first into the water and in one swift synchronized motion they both pulled backwards dislodging his trunks and leaving him in his birthday suit. They emerged from the water both holding his shorts above their heads in triumph.

“Oh come on.” He yelled making sure to stay where the water was above his waist “That’s not funny give ‘em back.”

Bianca slid the shorts on. “You mean these? I think they look good on me, what do you think Maggie?”

“Oh yeah definitely you.” She nodded her approval. “Do you think we should give them back now?”

“Let me handle this one.” Bianca said removing the shorts “Hey Jamie you can have ‘em, come and get ‘em.” She called to him and dropped them about ten feet from the water’s edge then turned and walked away.

“Oh he’s gonna kill you for that…but it’s freaking hilarious.” Maggie said as Bianca smiled and gave her best evil villain laugh.

“Shall we?” Bianca hooked her elbow out and they sauntered their way up the beach to their towels.

“Really?” he yelled throwing his hands up.

“Well Jamie are ya gonna go get ‘em or what?” Kendall said as she and Frankie waded by him and out of the water.

When he rushed from the water he was assaulted with cat calls and whistles. “I hate all of you.” He pulled his trunks back on and stalked up the beach “You know” he said shaking his head like a dog trying to dry off “even I have to admit that was a pretty good one but don’t expect that to happen again I’ve got my eyes on you…and you and you and especially you.” He pointed to each of them in turn lingering on Maggie.

“Aww you know we only do it because we love you.” Bianca said sweetly.

“Yeah and I can feel the love scoot over.” He sat next to her and started pushing her.

“Hey get your own chair.” She huffed “This one’s taken.”

“There’s only four and after what you just did I deserve it and I’m claiming yours now shoo.”

"You can share mine Bianca.” Maggie moved over to make room.

She hesitated for just an instant before getting up and moving to sit next to Maggie “Thank you at least someone here has some manners.”

“Like I said anything you want…” she felt a chill run the length of her body when Bianca’s heated skin made contact with her own.

“Are you cold?” She asked grabbing a towel from beside her.

“No I’m fine just caught a chill.”

“Well take it anyway.” She wrapped it around the tiny blonde “We don’t want you getting sick.”

“Thank you.” She pulled the towel tighter around her shoulders. Sparks, tingling, weak knees, dizziness and now chills. That list of unexpected physical reactions to Bianca was growing and she was starting to wonder just exactly what it all meant.

Chapter Text

"Hey guys” Frankie said as she came into the living room. “I was just listening to the weather report again and the storm took a…uh…small turn.”

“How small of a turn?” Jamie asked turning from the refrigerator.

“Umm…it’s headed right for us and if we leave now we’ll get stuck right in the middle of it?”

“Shit.”

“Wait so does this mean we can’t leave?” Kendall’s eyes bounced between Frankie and Jamie.

“Well we could but I wouldn’t take the chance.” He shut the door and moved back to his seat on the couch. “We’re better off staying put so I hope nobody has anything pressing they have to get to early in the morning.”

“Uh does anybody remember the drowned rat?” Kendall said trying to keep her laughter down to a light chuckle “If you think she’s pissed now just wait until she shows up tomorrow morning and I’m not there. Hell hath no fury like an uber bitch stood up by her wedding planner.”

“Can’t we just stuff her in a trunk and ship her off to China or something?” Bianca quipped “Or maybe Siberia…oh how about some remote island populated by headhunters…the moon? Did I mention I don’t like her?” she quirked an eyebrow.

“Naw we couldn’t tell at all you hide it so well. I think next time you should just tar and feather her in the town square I think that might get your point across.”

“Ooooh I hadn’t thought about that now there’s an idea I can run with.”

"Have I told you lately that I love you?” Kendall beamed “Who knew you had it in ya?”

“I did!” Jamie raised his hand “I’ve seen it firsthand and it was pure awesomeness also…a little scary….and a little hot…”

Maggie didn’t say anything but she would have to agree with Jamie’s assessment, she just wasn’t sure which part. “So what do we do?” she asked looking at the faces around her but focusing on one in particular.

Jamie shrugged “We spend the night and hope it clears up by morning not much else we can do.”

“Slumber party?” Kendall raised her eyebrows in question.

“Movie night?” Bianca threw out.

“Oh I’m so in on that one” Jamie stood “there’s a room down the hall and it’s stocked with all the best horror movies.”

“No horror” Maggie shook her head “Frankie is banned remember? How about a nice comedy or something classic?”

“The Toxic Avengers.” Jamie started for the other end of the house and was hit by a barrage of pillows.

“That is not a classic I was thinking something with Carey Grant.”

“Not happening how about The Expendables?”

“No way” Kendall shook her curly head “sorry Jamie but whatever you pick is gonna get voted down, it’s four to one here you don’t stand a chance.” She stood and followed his slumped form with the other three in tow.

“You just wanna make me watch chick flicks.” He said as he flipped on the light. “So make your selection.” He gestured to the wall across from them covered with shelves full of movies. “By the way the king’s throne is mine.” He pointed to the leather recliner.

“There must be a thousand movies here this will take forever.” Bianca’s wide eyes took them in.

“Nope” Maggie said moving to stand in front of a section of wall “they’re all categorized by genre this is the romantic comedy section.” She chucked her thumb over her shoulder. “Over there are the classics” She pointed to the other end “there’s action, horror, drama, science fiction.” She pointed to each section.

The other three gathered around her and started browsing fanning out along the wall. Kendall stayed put hunting for a particular movie while Frankie cruised over to the classics and made her choice immediately. Bianca watched Maggie trying to figure out what movie she would pick while she pulled out a few titles and dismissed them. Maggie moved slowly her eyes moving from title to title but not really seeing them. She wasn’t as interested in what movie to choose as she was the seating arrangement. Jamie had already staked his claim to the recliner which left them to decide who sat where on the couch.

“Everybody set?” Frankie asked.

She pulled her eyes from the couch at the sound of her sister’s voice and reached out to grab something without looking. She lined up in front of Jamie with the other three to reveal his future.

“Go ahead then let me see how much stuff won’t be blowing up in the next oh…eight hours or so.” He grumped.

Kendall flipped hers around first “I give you The Notebook.”

“Oh god shoot me now…” He hung his head shaking it.

Bianca nudged her sister “He’s gonna cry like a baby.” She turned back to find him glaring at her and she laughed.

“My turn” Frankie said “Casablanca, gotta love Bogie.”

“Okay I’ll admit that one’s not bad, Bianca you’re next.”

“I took pity on you and went romantic comedy action, Killers.”

“Not a big Ashton Kutcher fan but at least there’s some gun play and a decent car chase and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Katherine Heigl has a killer rack, pun intended. Mags what ya got?” he watched her flip the movie around and stared at her for a second before speaking “Year One? I thought you hated Jack Black.”

She looked down to see that was indeed what she had in her hands “I’ll admit I’m not a big fan but there’s this one actress, she only has a small role but she’s really good.”

“If you say so.” He clapped his hands “So who’s going first? If I might suggest we start with Kendall and get the sap fest out of the way, then Frankie, Maggie and Bianca. Any objections?”

They all shook their heads and Kendall headed for the DVD player next to the 50 inch T.V.

“Does anybody have Kleenex?” Bianca asked “Jamie’s allergies are gonna start acting up.” She smirked at him and Maggie laughed.

“I call arm!” Frankie said as she moved to dim the lights.

“I call other arm!” Kendall added moving quickly from the T.V. to take her spot.

“Well I guess that settles that.” Maggie mumbled. “I guess it’s you and me in the middle then.” She said when Bianca walked up to stand beside her.

Bianca watched them settle in wondering how she managed to get exactly what she wanted. “Yep looks like it.” She stared at the remaining seats now wondering how in the hell she was going to get through this. She was going to be just inches away from Maggie for the foreseeable future and she highly doubted she would be able to focus on the screen and not the tiny blonde.

“Are you two planning to stand there the whole night or would you care to join us?” Kendall said smirking at Jamie.

Jamie swallowed his laugh as he stretched out in the recliner. “You know one of you could’ve picked something with Schwarzenegger his eighties movies are classics.” He flicked his eyes to the two making their way to the couch silently giving Frankie and Kendall credit for being quick on their feet. And also for their choice of movies epic love stories were exactly what they needed.

“Everybody settled in?” Kendall asked with the remote poised to kick Operation Ta-ta’s into high gear.

“No.” Jamie sulked. “When we get back I’m hanging out with the guys and doing manly things like spit and scratch in public.”

“Oh gross.” Bianca shuttered. “Kendall start the movie so he’ll stop talking.”

“Somebody remind me why we hang out with him.” She said hitting the play button.

Thirty minutes into the movie Bianca’s legs had gone numb but she didn’t dare move. She was too afraid to accidentally touch Maggie and have her mind skip away to Maggieland. A happy little sigh escaped her lungs, screw Disney World she was sure Maggieland was the happiest place on earth. She sank deeper into the cushions allowing herself a few fleeting seconds to imagine what it would be like to hold the petite blonde in her arms.

Maggie glanced over when the breathy sound escaped the brunette’s lips and wondered if it was simply the movie or if she was thinking of someone. She hadn’t mentioned anyone except her ex but that didn’t mean there wasn’t someone she was interested in. She turned her eyes back to the movie but she could feel something scratching around in her brain trying to get out and she wasn’t sure she was quite ready to let it out. She followed Bianca’s movement sinking further down and hooked her toes under the foot stool to pull it closer. She scooted it towards Bianca in silent invitation.

Bianca smiled at the gesture propping her feet next to Maggie’s. She should’ve listened to her sister and stayed away but her heart wouldn’t let her and it would inevitably lead to heartbreak. She pushed the thought away and forced herself to focus on the images on the screen and not the one’s her imagination refused to let go of. To her relief she somehow managed to make it through the rest of the movie with only a few detours into the magical world of Maggieland.

Just as the credits started rolling there was a sneeze from Jamie’s direction.

“Stupid allergies.” He blew his nose. “I’m gonna go raid the fridge anybody wanna come with?” He eyeballed the Scooby Gang.

“I could go for a snack.” Kendall got up.

“Me too they have the fancy stuff none of that off brand crap.”

They exited the room without a peep from the other two occupants of the couch.

“I love that movie” Bianca said quietly when they were gone “I hope I’ll find someone who loves me as much as he loved her.” She sniffled.

Maggie reached over and wiped away Bianca’s tears with a thumb “I have no doubt that someone will love you like that.” She smiled softly.

“Do you really think so?”

“I do and I can’t believe that you haven’t found it already, you’re amazing and it seems to me there sure are a lot of insanely stupid girls in Pine Valley if they can’t see that.”

“Thank you.” She ducked her head and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She was grateful that the lights were so low because she could feel the heat in her face.

“You don’t have to thank me it’s the truth you deserve to be loved like that.”

“So do you, you know you’re an incredible person.”

“I don’t know about that.” She shrugged and played with a loose thread on her shirt.

“I do know. Except for my sister you’re the only person I’ve ever felt totally comfortable with.”

“Really? Why me?”

“Because you get what it’s like to have your life put out there for people to judge. You know what it’s like to have people stare at you and whisper and that there are things that you just can’t tell anyone else. I love Kendall and I trust her more than anyone else but there are things that I haven’t even told her.”

“Because you don’t want her to worry more than she already does.” She rubbed at the tiny scar. “Yeah I get that.”

Minutes passed by as they sat quietly lost in their own thoughts until Bianca’s soft voice broke the silence.

“When I was little my dad would take me outside at night to look at the stars and each night he would show me a new constellation. He would teach me the names and tell me the stories and he would always end them the same way. He would tell me that no matter how far away they were I should always reach for them. He said that if I gave it my very best I might just pull back my hand and find a tiny twinkling star in it.” 

"He sounds like he was an amazing person."

"He was." She swallowed around the lump in her throat. "When he died I felt so lost and I wanted so badly to have him back. But I knew I couldn’t so I….” her heart was thumping in her chest and the room felt like it was closing in on her. “Right after…” she felt fresh tears tracing their way down her cheeks. “I just loved him so much, he was my world and the thought that I would never get to talk to him again or to feel his arms around me when I was scared or feeling alone…”

Maggie took Bianca’s hand in her own and held it gently. “I know how you feel I felt the same way about my dad.” She whispered into the dark. “Sometimes I want to pick up the phone and call him and then I remember he’s not here anymore.”

“Me too. I still have his number in my cell I just can’t make myself…” she shook her head “I know it’s crazy but I feel like I would somehow be erasing him, like I would lose that last little piece of him that I have.”

“Bianca, you’ll never lose him he’s here” she tapped her head “and here.” She placed her hand over Bianca’s heart and could feel it beating almost in sync with her own. “He’s with you everywhere you go and when you want to talk to him just close your eyes and there he’ll be. I talk to my dad all the time and I know it’s not the same but I know he can hear me.”

Bianca closed her eyes and she could see her dad’s smiling face and he nodded as if to say it’s okay, tell her. She opened her eyes to find Maggie looking at her with those brown eyes that held a similar pain. “Right after he died I found a bottle of pain killers in the medicine cabinet and I took them up to my room…” she sucked in a steadying breath “I stared at them for hours thinking that if I took them I would be with my dad and I wouldn’t have this unbearable pain in my heart.”

“Did you?” Maggie asked. That Bianca would even think of taking her own life shocked her down to her core. She couldn’t believe that this amazingly strong girl in front of her had even considered it as an option and the thought of her not being in the world nearly caused her to break down into uncontrollable tears.

“No” she shook her head “I came really close I had them in my hand but then my phone started ringing and We Are Family was playing and I knew it was Kendall. I sat there listening to it and I started thinking about her, my big sister who would do anything for me and I couldn’t not answer it. We talked for hours, well she let me talk for hours. She didn’t try to tell me everything would be okay she just let me be sad and cry. She has no idea but she saved my life if she hadn’t called I’m not sure I would be here. I’ve never told anyone that…until now.”

“Bianca…I…I don’t know what to say, that you would tell me something like that…that I would be the one you confided in…I really don’t know what to say.” She was starting to realize that she shared more in common with the brunette than she would have ever thought possible.

“I feel like, you more than anybody else in my life understands how I feel. I love my family but there are some things I just can’t tell them because they’ll want to help and their way of helping is by trying to get me to talk about it. I appreciate it and I’m grateful but that isn’t always what I want or need.”

“What do you want Bianca?”

“I want them to realize that there are just some things you can’t make better and that all I really need is for them to just be there with me. When I was sad my dad wouldn’t try to get me to talk about it he knew that when I was ready I would. Until then he would just hold me, Maggie…”

“Come ‘ere.” She opened her arms and Bianca snuggled into her shoulder. "Do you remember all the names of the constellations?"

"Yeah every single one he showed me."

"Do you think you could teach me?"

Bianca smiled and burrowed a little deeper into Maggie's protective embrace. "I would love to show you the stars."

Just outside the door Jamie held onto Kendall as she cried silently into his shoulder for the sister she had almost lost. “Shh it’s okay she’s still here.” He whispered into her hair.

“I didn’t have any clue” her voice was muffled “why…” she swallowed a sob “why didn’t she tell me?”

“Because she didn’t want you to worry, you know Bianca she’ll take on everyone else’s pain but she won’t burden them with her own. She’s stronger than all of us put together and we could all stand to be a little more like her. Come on we’ll let them have some time and we can go talk somewhere okay?”

She nodded into his shoulder and he led them back to the living room where Frankie had retreated to give them some privacy.

“Is everything okay?” she asked when she saw Kendall’s puffy eyes.

“Yeah everything is fine” Kendall sat and curled into Jamie when he sank down next to her “I’m just being your typical overly emotional woman.”

“So now that movie night has been cut short what do you wanna do it’s still too early to go to….” Frankie stopped when the power blinked “bed.” She finished staring out the sliding glass door at the darkening sky.

“I think we should find some flashlights and candles and lock this place down just in case it gets bad.”

“Good idea.” Frankie stood just as the power blinked again “I think we should make this snappy.”

“Right behind you” he turned to look at Kendall “are you gonna be okay?”

“I’ll be fine I just need a little time to process but I can do that later we have more pressing matters.” She patted his leg and stood to help Frankie search drawers. “As much as I don’t want to disturb them I think we should get them.”

“On it.” He turned to head back but they were already coming up the hall.

“We seem to be experiencing power interruptus, storm’s coming?”

“Yep the wind is picking…oh shit the boat. Frankie what direction was the storm coming from?” he grabbed his shoes and started pulling them on.

“South to north, hell we gotta get the boat to the other side of the island.” She ran for her own shoes and hopped into them then yanked the front door open with a rush of wind.

“Damn it I should’ve thought to ask we have to go now before it starts getting really bad.”

“I’m coming” Maggie strode toward them “the two of you can’t do it by yourselves.”

“Maggie…” Bianca wanted to stop her from going, she didn’t want any of them going.

“We have to move the boat where it’ll be safer…” she turned and walked back to the brunette “We’ll be fine” she took her hand “back in a jiffy.” She smiled at her but she could see the fear in her eyes “It’s okay Bianca we’ve done this before we won’t be long.”

“Please just be careful.” She couldn’t stop her voice from cracking. She had just found Maggie she couldn’t lose her she didn’t think she would ever come back from that.

“We will I promise.” Before she knew what was happening she found herself engulfed in Bianca’s arms and suddenly she didn’t care if the boat got turned into driftwood if not going meant she could stay right where she was. “Try not to worry too much okay?”

“I can’t help it, it’s what I do.”

Kendall came up behind her sister “If she gets hysterical I’ll just give her a good slap across the face that always seems to do the trick in the movies. Come on Binks they gotta go.” She gently pulled her sister.

“We’ll be back before you know it okay?”

“Okay.” She said quietly and before she could say anything else Maggie had turned and the three of them were through the door headed into the approaching storm.

Chapter Text

“Jamie I need some help over here!” Maggie called over the sound of the hammering rain.

“Frankie take the wheel I gotta go.” He pointed towards Maggie who was wrestling with the lines.

“Go I got it.” She yelled as the boat pitched to the side. She slid along the deck grabbing hold of the wheel spinning it hard to port.

Jamie stumbled his way slowly towards Maggie where she was holding on to the slippery rope for dear life. “I’m coming hold on.” he yelled pushing wet hair out of his eyes.

She turned to shout at him over her shoulder. “We need to get the sail down before the wind rips it off the mast.”

The boat pitched again and Maggie’s sneakered feet squeaked as they slipped across the deck. “Shit!” She dug her feet in as best she could pulling backwards with what little leverage she had. She tightened her fingers around the line just as a strong crosswind caught the sail and ripped the rope from her grasp.

Jamie watched as she lunged for the flailing rope. “Maggie wait!”

The boat rolled and the only thing he saw was the sail as it whipped back around straight at Maggie. Then she just disappeared from sight.

*

*

*

“They’ve been gone for almost an hour Kendall.” Bianca paced the living room staring at the front door with nails between her teeth.

“I’m sure they’re fine it’s not like it’s just a short car ride they have to sail the thing to the other side.” She looked up when a flash of lightning turned the darkness outside to daylight. She was just as scared as her sister but she wasn’t going to let it show they didn’t need both of them to panic.

“I know but still…” she stopped to look through the sliding glass door and watched as the wind kicked over the patio table and sent it scraping across the concrete. “This is crazy I mean did we even think how they were going to get back?” Her eyes went wide at the sudden realization “Oh my Kendall we didn’t think about that. They’re gonna have to walk back in this.” She gestured frantically all around her. She remembered her walk with Maggie not that long ago and the fact that the island was bigger than she had initially thought.

“They probably have some kind of vehicle over on the other side for just this kind of situation. Binks please sit down you’re starting to make me sea sick.” Her eyes bounced in her head trying to keep up with her.

“I can’t not until they’re back and I know they’re safe.” She jumped when thunder cracked and shook the house. She had never been a fan of thunder storms and this was just making her less of one. “Can’t we call them?”

Kendall picked up her phone and looked at it for the tenth time “Service is still out.” She dropped the object back into her lap and rubbed her temples trying not to let her imagination get the best of her. “Have you ever noticed that when you really need those things they basically become really expensive paper weights?”

“Not helping.” Bianca shot at her “I can’t believe this is happening we should’ve left when they wanted to why the hell did they listen to me? I had no idea what I was talking about.”

“Hey Binks this isn’t your fault” she kept her voice soft trying to soothe her sister’s frazzled nerves “Jamie said it probably wouldn’t get that bad how were any of us supposed to know the storm was gonna turn right for us.”

I should’ve known, this is how things work when I’m involved. They go…FUBAR.” She threw her hands out “Story of my life.” She stopped pacing and moved to finally sit but her legs continued to bounce. “If something happens to them…” she didn’t want to think about it but how could she not? They were out there and she wished she were with them at least that way she would know what was going on.

“I’m telling you they’re fine they know what they’re doing.” She really hoped so at least. “You’re really worried about her aren’t you?” She put her arm around her shoulders and rubbed her hand along her arm.

“I’m worried about all of them…but yes I’m really worried about her.” She laid her head on Kendall’s shoulder “Just the thought of anything happening to her I…I don’t know what I would do I can’t imagine her not being here and I think I would die if anything…I wouldn’t want to be here if she’s not. How can I feel like this I don’t even know her that well.”

“I don’t know.” It was lame but she couldn’t very well say because she’s the other half of your heart. Somehow she didn’t think that would help anything.

They both jumped when a loud crash came from just outside the front door which blew open to allow three soaked figures through. “Come on put her on the couch.” Said the small figure holding the door open.

“I’m fine geez.” Maggie said being carried through the door in Jamie’s arms “Put me down will you.”

“Oh my god” Bianca breathed jumping up from her spot to make room for the tiny girl “What happened?”

“It’s the damndest thing.” He shook his head. “I saw the boom swinging straight for her but just as it was about to take her head off she slipped. I’m serious it just missed her by an inch but she still managed to give herself a good crack on the head.” Jamie carried her over and placed her down gently “You might have a concussion and that ankle might be broken. Frankie can you get some ice and see if there’s a first aid kit somewhere?”

“When exactly did you get a medical degree?” She asked as water dripped down her soaking into the cushions beneath her.

“I think you should get out of those clothes before you catch pneumonia.” Bianca made a move to go but was stopped.

“This is all I’ve got.” She pulled at her wet t-shirt. “We didn’t come prepared for an extended stay.”

“Well there has to be something around here I’ll go look.” It was actually an excuse to get out before she exploded in tears in front of an audience. “I’ll be right back.” She left the other three to tend to Maggie even though she didn’t want to leave her side.

“You got this I’m gonna go help her look.” Kendall chucked a thumb in Bianca’s direction.

“Yeah go Doc James can handle one unruly patient.” He glared at Maggie “Are you gonna cooperate?”

“Whatever I told you I’m fine.” She rolled her eyes at him.

Kendall walked down the hall to see where Bianca had gotten off to and found her on the couch in the room where they had started movie night. “Hey are you okay?”

Bianca just shook her head and latched onto Kendall when she sat down beside her. “Shhh it’s okay” she rocked her “I told you they would be fine.”

Bianca just tightened her grip and cried harder. They were fine, she was fine but it could’ve ended so much differently. Maggie could have died and she would never see her again and she would never be able to tell her how she feels. She needed Maggie to know even if she didn’t feel the same way. She would rather be rejected than never get the chance to tell her at all and wonder what if for the rest of her life. She was done with what if’s.

Kendall looked up to see a drowned rat standing awkwardly in the doorway with a concerned look on her face. She gave a small nod of assurance and watched as Maggie hobbled over as best she could.

“Hey Bianca…” She said quietly unsure of what exactly was happening. All she knew was that she needed to be with her.

She let go of Kendall and wiped her eyes before turning to face her “You shouldn’t be up how did you escape Doctor Jamie?”

“The went off to look for a first aid kit and I slipped under the fence. I’m a wily one.” She flashed her a crooked grin hoping to break the tenseness of the situation.

“Sit down I’ll get you a towel.” She stepped over to help her around.

“I’ve got it Binks be right back.” Kendall made a hasty retreat leaving them alone.

“What’s wrong?” Maggie asked when she was settled to drip into yet another couch.

“Nothing” Bianca shook her head “I was just really worried that’s all but now you’re all back safe and mostly unharmed.” She picked up a throw pillow “You should elevate that foot.”

“Why?” she looked from the pillow to Bianca’s fidgeting hands with an amused smile.

“I…I don’t know it’s what they always do on T.V.”

Maggie chuckled “Well in that case Doctor Montgomery I don’t think that thing is gonna do much.” She turned in her spot and placed her injured ankle on the armrest. “You look funny upside down.” She joked as she stared at the brunette from her new position with her head resting on the cushions.

Bianca smiled. “You still look beautiful upside down.” Her heart stopped beating when the whispered words fell from her lips. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud and she didn’t dare look up from where her eyes were glued to her hands fidgeting atop the pillow in her lap.

Maybe it was that hit she took to the head but she could swear she heard Bianca call her beautiful. “Thank you.” She whispered just as quietly. Her heart picked up from a slow trot to a steady gallop and she was sure that they could hear it from the mainland. “So are you….please tell me what’s wrong, why are you crying?”

“Because if something would’ve happened to you…”

“But I’m fine it’s just a bump and a sprained ankle I’ve had worse….” She trailed off waiting for the memories to overshadow this moment but none came. All she saw was Bianca looking down at her with those big brown expressive eyes.  “It takes a lot to keep me down.”

“That’s because you’re strong, stronger than I’ll ever be.” She could feel her heart wailing away in her chest. “I wish I were as strong as you if I were then I could say all the things I’m afraid to say. And do.” She added quietly.

“Like what?” She pulled her leg from the armrest with a slight wince and sat up so she could be face to face with Bianca.

She took a breath trying to will the words from her mouth hoping they didn’t push Maggie away from her. “Like how I feel….”

“How you feel about what?” She moved closer and cupped Bianca’s cheek wiping away a tear with her thumb. “You can tell me anything you know that.”

Bianca smiled sadly leaning into the soft touch. “I know. I was so worried about all of you out there I had no idea if you were okay and if you wouldn’t have come back…” she trailed off getting lost in her thoughts.

“If I wouldn’t have come back what?” she dropped her hand to cover Bianca’s squeezing gently. That thing she had been trying so hard to push away was now banging insistently inside her head and it was now nearly impossible to ignore.

“I…” she shook her head. She needed to do this but the right words didn’t seem to be coming. “I need to tell you…” She lifted her eyes and was caught in Maggie’s intense gaze. She had never seen anyone look at her like that and it stole her breath away.

She closed the distance between them never taking her eyes from Bianca’s. “Bianca what’s-” The words died in her throat and she was unable to look away. She was like a moth caught in the dancing brilliance of a flame and she was powerless to resist. She needed to be close to it, she had to touch it and feel its heat, it was mesmerizing and beautiful and she wanted to be consumed by it.

She was close enough to feel warm breath as it left Maggie’s body but she was sure she hadn’t moved even an inch. “Maggie?”

It was a question that was answered immediately with soft lips melding to her own. It took her by surprise and the little voice in her head was screaming at her to stop, that this couldn’t end any way but badly. But she couldn’t and it was quickly silenced by her body’s desire to be closer to the tiny blonde. Her hands moved to grab at the wet t-shirt clinging to Maggie’s body trying to pull her impossibly closer. She may not have been able to find the words to tell her what was in her heart but she could show her. And if Maggie would let her she would show her for the rest of their lives.

Maggie felt infinite softness as her lips brushed softly against Bianca’s. It was just a feather light touch but it was unlike anything she had ever experienced. In letting herself give in to that one tiny irresistible impulse she saw a glimmer of light seep through the darkness that had become her life. She leaned in slowly increasing the pressure and when she heard the small whimper break free from Bianca all of her senses overloaded. She had never imagined in her wildest dreams that anything could feel like this. Bianca truly was an incandescent flame and at this moment she was more than happy to be enveloped by it.

That is until a loud bang from the living room quickly brought her back to reality. Maggie jumped away with her heart hammering in her chest and the taste of Bianca on her lips.

“What the hell was that?” She asked as she pushed up from the couch in a daze. “I ummm…I’m gonna go see what’s going on.” She hobbled from the room trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.

Bianca wasn’t sure if Maggie was talking about the noise or the kiss but for just the briefest of moments she had everything she had ever wanted. She reluctantly got up and followed Maggie through the door and saw a strange man dripping in the living room.

“What’s going on?” Maggie asked as Bianca came around the corner behind her.

“He got caught in the storm and lucky for him we’re here or he’d be screwed.” Jamie clapped him on the shoulder.

“Hi.” He gave a small wave “I’m Trevor.”

Chapter Text

“Sorry to interrupt but I was out trying to get some pictures of the storm” he patted the water proof camera bag “I guess it snuck up on me. Lucky for me I spotted your boat on the other side of the island. I’ve been wondering around for about an hour hoping I’d find someone.” He hadn’t planned on the storm and the lightning and wind had forced him to make a decision, ride it out and hope something didn’t kill him or make himself known. He wasn’t keen on dying.

“Well you really are lucky someone was here.” Jamie said “My friend’s dad owns the place and I called him last minute to see if we could hang out here for the day.”

“Someone is really watching out for me then.” He brushed his hand through his hair trying to get some of the water out.

“I’ll get you a towel and see if I can find something for all of you.” Kendall said as she went off to search the house again.

“So did you at least get any good shots that would make it worth it?” Jamie asked.

“Honestly by the time I got to where I could get some shots the water was already getting choppy. I decided that pictures weren’t worth my life.” He didn’t need them asking to see the photos.

“Smart man you got some common sense.”

“Hey this is all I could find” She held out some basketball shorts and oversized t-shirts “it’s either this or speedos.” She laughed.

“This works for me thanks.” Trevor said. “Is there a place I can change?”

“Down the hall take a left and it’s the second door on the right.” Frankie directed him.

“Well looks like we have a party crasher.” Maggie said. She was silently thankful for the interruption she really needed time alone to think. “I guess I’ll go dry off.” She took the shirt Kendall held out to her and cast a glance at Bianca as Frankie helped her to the room. She was looking everywhere but at her and she had to wonder what was going through Bianca's head.

“So ladies what now?” Jamie looked at Kendall and Bianca “Should we ask him if he wants to join us for movie night?”

“Actually I’m really tired I think I’m just going to turn in, night Jamie.” Damn it! Was screaming through her head on endless repeat, she had screwed up royally this time.

“Okay I’ll see you in the morning.” He watched Bianca go then turned back to Kendall. “This has been some trip huh?”

“That’s an understatement. I think I’m gonna go check on my sister she seemed a little...off.”

“Okay night Kendall.”

He was left do deal with their guest who looked vaguely familiar to him. He wouldn’t turn the poor guy away but he really wished he had landed on someone else’s island he was killing the plan. He ambled down the hall and met Trevor as he was coming out of the bathroom.

“Hey the girls were all beat but if you want you can hang out and watch some movies with me.”

“Sounds like a plan. So are you from around here?” Might as well use this to his advantage and see if he can find out anything useful to Joni.

“Yeah Haven Bay, you?”

“Just up the road from you, Oakfield.”

They headed off to the media room playing twenty questions.

Maggie pressed her back to the door sliding to the floor slowly. “What the hell?” She stared blankly as images of Bianca assaulted her brain. She kissed Bianca. “What was I thinking?” She grunted scrubbing her hands over her face roughly. “I wasn’t thinking my brain just got confused for a minute. That’s all it was I was just caught up in the moment.”  

She closed her eyes with a sigh pushing herself up and kicking off her shoes as she limped to the bed. “I was just caught up in the moment.” She started to peel the wet t-shirt from her body stopping just as she pulled her head free. Her arms dropped hanging limply at her sides as the shirt slipped from her fingers. “She kissed me back.” It had never crossed her mind that Bianca might be attracted to her. She turned and found herself staring at her reflection in the dresser mirror. “How could she be?” She ran her finger along the scar on her forearm.

There really weren’t that many but to her it seemed like every inch of her skin was tainted. She didn’t know what Bianca saw when she looked at her but it was clear that what she saw wasn’t the same as what she was seeing in the mirror. She was covered in scars, mentally, emotionally and physically.

“How could she like me like this?” she whispered as her eyes dropped to the surgical scar on her stomach. She ran her hand along the raised skin remembering what Jamie had told her when she woke up in the hospital. Emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding. The gash above her eye had required twenty seven stiches. Her spleen was gone and there was another jagged scar running up the back of her right leg that had required even more stitches. They were all a result of that night, one she relived over and over every time she saw them. It haunted her and she knew Frankie and Jamie were right the only way to heal was to start letting it go. She pulled on the dry clothes Kendall had found for her and climbed onto the bed closing her eyes. Within seconds she was asleep with the sound of wind and rain thrashing outside.

"Maggie where are you? I know you’re here you can’t hide from me I always find you.”

She spun around searching the darkness for him but his voice was just a whisper lost in the trees. “Leave me alone!” Her voice echoed in her ears and was answered by a low chuckle.

“Not a chance you’re mine and she can’t take you from me.”

She ran as fast as her legs would carry her but she didn’t know where she was going. It was too dark, she couldn’t see to put one foot in front of the other and it seemed that there was no safe direction. He was everywhere at once but she kept running, until her lungs burned and she could barely lift her feet, she ran like her life depended on it. She could hear him, the low rumble of his laugh following her, pushing her forward. She couldn’t get away she had nothing left in her to give and she dropped to her knees pulling in air trying to keep the world from fading around her.

“Maggie.”

She picked her head up, straining her ears waiting for the faint voice to call her again.

“No, no, no Maggie that’s not a good idea.”

She got back to her feet and took two steps, waiting.

“That’s right, one foot in front of the other, keep going Maggie.”

“Where do you think you’re going? Don’t you dare take another step.”

His voice shook the ground beneath her but she kept moving. Three steps, four and she was running again.

“Come to me Maggie.”

She was sprinting through the tangled undergrowth and rotting trees around her determined to find that voice.

“STOP!”

It was so loud that she thought he was right on top of her but she never slowed, never stopped to look back, never doubted that this was the right direction.

“I’m here Maggie just a little farther.”

She pushed her body harder than she ever had, she would run forever if she had to, as long as her voice called her she would run.

“You see, you’re not listening again. I don’t know why you’re bothering, she isn’t real you won’t find her. There’s nothing here for you except me so why don’t you just stop.”

“No.” she whispered and ran faster. “She’s real I know she is.”

“I’m here Maggie can you see me?”

“Where? It’s so dark.” She slowed.

“Don’t listen to her Maggie, she’ll never love you I made sure no one would ever love you again.”

“Maggie.”

Her voice whispered through her, she could feel her, she was close now.

“She won’t love you.”

His voice was fading away into the darkness behind her and she pushed aside branches moving ahead slowly. “Are you here?”

“I’m here.”

She could see a light, it was faint at first but the closer she got the brighter it became until it was all around her. “Where am I?”

“You’re home Maggie, you found me. You’re safe now and he won’t hurt you again.”

She stepped forward with her hand outstretched and Maggie could finally see her, could finally touch her. She was real. “Bianca.”

Maggie’s eyes fluttered open but she lay still listening to the silence around her. The storm had ended while she slept and the only sound she heard was the beating of her own heart. She slid out of the bed limping her way into the living room and stood staring through the patio doors into the darkness.

“Hey penny for your thoughts.” Came a quiet voice behind her.

Maggie watched her reflection smile sadly. “I’m afraid you’d be asking for your money back.” She said as she turned to face Bianca. She couldn’t tell her about the dream it was much too frightening to think about what it might mean. She liked Bianca and she felt a connection but it couldn’t be more than friendship she was straight.

“You couldn’t sleep either huh?” She knew why she couldn’t sleep and why she would probably never sleep again. She would be comparing everything to that kiss and she knew nothing in the world would ever come close to it.

“No but I’m used to that now.”

“Did you have another nightmare?” She asked sadly.

“Yes and no. This one was different.” She turned back to the darkness beyond the door. “Can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything.” She held her breath waiting for her to ask about the kiss.

“Why do you like me? I didn’t think anyone would want anything to do with me after what he did but here you are. Why?” She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself.

“If you want a list we could be here all night.” She walked up behind her staring at their shared reflection. “There are so many things but just off the top of my head, you’re funny and smart” she moved closer and placed her hands on Maggie’s arms “you’re kind and understanding, spontaneous and you’re just so adorable behind the wheel of the Magtanic that it should be illegal.”

That last one got a small laugh and Bianca smiled at the sound. That was another one she could add to the list she was making in her head. Her laugh, her eyes, those lips that as it turned out made a really good pillow for her own. It was all of those things that she liked, all of those little things that added up to make one Maggie Stone.

“You really get a kick out of that don’t you?” Maggie turned her head to look up at Bianca with an amused smile. She would be lucky to even have a chance with someone like Bianca but it just wasn’t possible.

“I really do.” She nodded with a smile of her own. “I just can’t picture you driving anything else, it’s just so you.” It seemed apparent to her that Maggie was going to avoid talking about that kiss and honestly she was grateful. Maybe she hadn’t screwed up as badly as she had thought.

“You really think so?” She turned back to face the dark again “Jonathan tried to make me get rid of it. I told him no and he…” She held her hand in front of her and traced the faint line across the knuckles of her right hand. “He did this.” She held it up for Bianca to see, she needed to start letting go.

She reached out and took Maggie’s hand gently in her own and rubbed her thumb along the line. She glanced at Maggie’s profile and couldn’t bear to see the anguish on her face. “I hate him Maggie.” She whispered not daring to look up into the reflection. “I’ve never truly hated anyone in my life but I hate him.” She inched closer until no space remained between them and she was pressed softly against Maggie’s back. “I wish I had been here…”

“I don’t.” She said quietly leaning into the comfort that Bianca provided. “I wouldn’t want you to see what he did to me.” She rubbed at the scar above her eye. “Sometimes he just got so angry that he forgot to hit me where I could hide it from people.”

“Maggie you don’t….” She said gently.

“No, I do.” She turned closing her eyes and wrapped her arms around the taller girl. She felt Bianca’s arms slip around holding her tight and for the first time in a long time she felt like she had an anchor, that as long as she stayed right where she was he couldn’t hurt her. “The night that Jamie showed up, he saved my life. If he wouldn’t have been there Jonathan wouldn’t have stopped.”

“Maggie where the hell are you?” he slammed the front door behind him. “Some asshole just told me that he saw you hanging all over some guy at the shop today.”

She stood in the bathroom with her back against the door. She knew when he started in on her the second he came through the door it was going to be bad and nothing she could do or say would make it better.

“Get out here now.” He pushed the bedroom door open.

Two doors away, there was no place she could hide from him.

“Damn it Maggie don’t make this worse than it already is.”

She flipped the lock on the door knowing that it would do no good.

“Uh uh Mags that wasn’t a good idea.” He moved right to the bathroom. “Open up.”

She stood motionless and didn’t so much as breathe.

“Fine but just remember you brought this on yourself.” He took a step back and kicked.

The door frame splintered and despite herself she screamed throwing her arms over her head.

“You might as well come on out because you know I’m getting in.” he kicked again.

She could feel where his boot hit the door and knew that it would only take one more before the door gave in.

“And he huffed and he puffed….” He gave one last kick and the door splintered.

She was sent across the small space into the wall and nearly toppled over into the bathtub.

“There you are. How about a nice kiss hello then you can tell me all about whoever it is you’re screwing behind my back.”

“Jonathan I…”

“Don’t try and talk your way out of this one your words mean nothing.” He pulled her up roughly by her hair. “Get your ass out into the living room where we can do this properly.” He shoved her through the busted door.

“Please don’t.”

He kicked her and she went crashing to the floor with a surprised yelp. “I don’t want you to so much look at another guy do you understand me? You’re mine.” He picked her up again and again kicked her to the floor. “You belong to me.”

She pulled herself up and felt something slam into the back of her head. The room faded out for a split second before coming back into focus. He grabbed her arm and spun her and there was an explosion of pain that raced through her cheek. She flailed trying to keep her balance, to just stay on her feet but she couldn’t tell which way was which and she felt herself falling. She reached out to catch herself but it was too late and she felt the edge of the coffee table as it slid across her skin the rush of blood instantly blinding her right eye.

“Get up.” He commanded. “I said” he reached down and pulled her up like she was nothing but a ragdoll. “get up.”

“Please…” she pleaded in a voice that not even she could hear.

She felt herself being pushed, felt the couch as her body hit it, then she was falling and the wood floor was beneath her. Warm blood continued to seep from the gash above her eye and she knew this was going to be the last time this ever happened, he was going to kill her. She pushed with what little strength she had in her arms and was able to get her knees beneath her but then he was on her again.

“Where do you think you’re going? Don’t tell me you think you can get away from me, you can never get away I’ll always be here” he bent down and whispered “always.”

He latched on and flung her, the wall stopped her as she went hurtling across the room and fire raced up her arm and she wanted to throw up when she heard something snap like twigs under foot. He wasn’t going to stop, not this time, not until her last breath escaped her small broken body. She could see the front door with her one good eye, it was so close if she could just get to it someone would see. She stumbled towards it grasping for anything to hold onto but all she found was him.

“I don’t think so.”

He yanked her away from her escape and she landed hard on her back her head bouncing as it hit the polished wood floor. She could see his lips moving but the ringing in her ears drowned out his voice. She watched him turn and shut the heavy wood door and then he was dragging her across the floor through broken glass, probably what he used to hit her with. She felt it as it ripped the flesh along her leg, more blood seeping from her small body. He released her and moved so he was hovering over her his breath bathing her face with the smell of alcohol. When his hands slipped around her neck she knew, she tried to stop him, she swung blindly with her right hand slapping at his face and for an instant the pressure eased and she did the only thing she could think of, she screamed, with everything she had in her she screamed. She prayed for someone, anyone as he tightened his grip. She grabbed a fistful of his shirt in her tiny hand trying to push him away as the world quickly went black around her.

“That was the last thing I remember.” She said hoarsely. “The doctor said just a few seconds more and…if Jamie wouldn’t have come by…he would have killed me, he almost did. And he was right, he’ll always be here I can’t get away from him. He’s always in my head…except when…” she trailed off.

“Except when?” she asked feeling tears slip down her face into Maggie’s hair.

“He’s gone whenever you’re around. I don’t know how or why but you make him go away. Whenever I’m with you he’s not here anymore it’s just me and it’s finally quiet and I get these…moments where I can see everything so clearly.”

“Well thank you but I don’t think that has anything to do with me, that’s all you Maggie. You’re a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. I mean look at me all I did was breakup with a woman who loved me and I turned into a mess, what you went through…if I were half as strong as you I could survive anything the world throws at me.”

“Do you really think I am?”

“I know you are I see it every time I look at you.” She pulled away and smiled at her. “Like right now, I see it.” She reached up to wipe a tear from Maggie’s cheek. “I think you’re strong and brave and have more courage than all the people I know put together.”

“I’m not so sure about that but thank you for saying it.”

“I said it because I believe it.” She leaned down to catch Maggie’s eyes. “You know you do that a lot, thank me I mean. I haven’t done anything.”

“Yes, you have. You and Kendall are the first people I’ve let into my life since…” she shrugged “you don’t treat me like I’m broken.”

“That’s because you aren’t broken you’re just a little lost. We’ve all been there and it can be a really scary place but if we’re lucky we find our way back with the help of people who love us.”

“I hope I can find my way back.”

“You will you have Frankie and Jamie and me and Kendall. You’re safe now and he won’t hurt you again.”

Maggie’s breath caught in her throat as the words fell from Bianca’s mouth and she stood there blinking at the brunette. That didn’t mean anything it was just a coincidence that those were the exact she had said in her dream. She was never telling Frankie about this.

“Maggie? Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” She breathed then smiled. “I’m much better now thanks." She wiped at the remaining tears.

"And there you go again." she chuckled.

"It's all your fault you know if you weren't so understanding and nice to me I wouldn't be thanking you so much." She hobbled across the floor into the kitchen.

"Oh so this is all my fault sure blame me." she threw her hands into the air shaking her head. "Maybe I should give being mean and rude a shot what do you think?"

"Sorry to break this to you Stretch but I don't think you have it in you." She winked at the gaping brunette before pulling open the freezer door.

"Stretch? How tall are you do you need a boost to get into the freezer?"

"Ha ha you're a riot and Stretch is better than giraffe isn't it?" she laughed. She was amazed yet again at how easy it was to talk to Bianca, how incredibly at ease she felt with her. And how easy it was to go from talking about the most painful thing in her life to picking on each other.

"I kind of like giraffe." She turned dropping onto the couch. "What are you digging for in there buried treasure?"

"Nope something even better." she pushed aside a bag of frozen peas. "Ah ha got it. Lady Luck seems to be shining on us” thunder boomed overhead and she laughed “figuratively speaking.” She shook a carton of rocky road ice cream as she grabbed two spoons. She gingerly made her way back and plopped down on the couch next to Bianca.

“Oh you’re really good at this whole rescuing damsels in distress thing you should really think about a career change.” She scooped up a spoonful “My hero” she smiled before wrapping her lips around the spoon. “Oh my god this is so good. The only thing that could make this better is nachos with extra hot sauce.”

“Oh that sounds like heaven right about now.” She stuck her spoon into the ice cream trying to think of the right way to bring up what was on her mind. “But you wouldn’t be happier with a seven course meal at a five star restaurant?” Her eyes watched the spoon as it traveled delving into the depths of her mouth. The mouth that not that long ago she had explored with her own.

“Are you kidding? That’s my mother’s thing I’d be happy with chicken wings at Hooters.”

“Because that’s why everyone goes to Hooters right, for the chicken wings?” She laughed when Bianca actually turned the color of a fire truck. “So busted.” The thought of Bianca staring at scantily clad women was unpleasant, the thought of her staring at any woman was unpleasant. Was she jealous? She quickly dismissed the crazy thought.

“What they really do have good chicken wings” she dug around the carton and shrugged “everything else is just a little bonus.”

“Was your ex a five star restaurant or a Hooters kinda woman?” She ducked her eyes watching her spoon as it pushed around the ice cream.

She watched the blonde trying to figure out what had brought on the question. “Lena was definitely more of a five star restaurant woman but she would’ve gone to make me happy. She would’ve done anything if it made me happy.”

“She loved you….” She stared at her distorted reflection in the spoon. “Why do you think you didn't love her?” she asked quietly. She was sure that if Bianca was to compare her with her ex she would come out dead last.

“I never really stopped to think about it. Wow.” She sat there just a bit shocked by the revelation. “I spent so much time trying to make it work that I never stopped to think about why it wasn’t working. I knew there was something missing but now I realize that there was a lot missing.”

“Like what?”

“For starters her sense of humor. I just didn’t get it and she didn’t get mine. I want someone I can laugh with every day. And I want someone who doesn’t think that planning ahead is spontaneous, someone who’s full of life and who will do something crazy when I’m sad or upset just to make me laugh."

“I think the perfect girl for you is out there somewhere.” She smiled at the memory of her limp taco impression at the marina. Well there was at least one thing she had over this Lena person.

“What if I think she’s the perfect girl for me but I’m wrong?” She had already met her and she just happened to be sitting next to her holding a carton of ice cream.

“What if you’re right? What if she knows somewhere inside of her that you’re the one but she’s unsure of herself? When you find her you should let her know that you’re standing right there in front of her.”

“I’m afraid I’m not that brave.”

“I think you are and if you don’t say something and just let her go then you’ll never know and you’ll be wondering what if. I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life never knowing what could have been. You deserve to have someone who loves you, someone you can love and laugh with forever.” She sat back and rested her head on Bianca’s shoulder thinking about her own what if’s.

“Now that sounds like heaven.” She said as she yawned and laid her head on Maggie’s.

“Geez I must be stimulating company.” She chuckled at the brunette.

“You tuckered me out you little munchkin.” She closed her eyes, Maggie still smelled like strawberries. 

“Right back at ya you giraffe.”

Bianca laughed and Maggie could feel it vibrate through her whole body. She reached over and took her hand and the last thing she thought before she drifted off to sleep was that she would do anything if it meant she could hear that laugh for the rest of her life. Maybe they could make each other laugh forever.

Trevor clicked the camera off and silently made his way back to where he had left a sleeping Jamie. And they had told him that he would never need the night vision mode, boy were they wrong. A grin stretched across his face. When he got back to the mainland Joni would be throwing wads of money at him and as soon as the sun broke over the horizon he would be out the door and on his way.

*******

“And again I don’t want to wake them up they look so peaceful.” Jamie said as the three of them stood staring at the girls on the couch.

“Me either” Kendall said “but we can’t stay here forever we have to go back to reality. I don’t know if either of you remember but I have a bride who’s over inflated head I’d like to pop with the biggest, sharpest thing I can find. Think they would let me borrow the top of the Empire State Building?”

“You think big I like that.” Frankie laughed at her. “Come on let’s wake up the sleeping beauties.”

“If any of you throw a bucket of water I’ll kill all of you.” Maggie mumbled “I got wet enough last night.”

All three of them bolted for the patio door and exploded into hysterical laughter.

“Was it something I said?” Maggie asked as Bianca snuggled closer.

“Don’t wanna get up” she mumbled from her spot on Maggie’s hip “You make a good pillow.” She tightened her arms around the blonde’s legs.

“Well anytime you need one give me a call I’ll be more than happy to be your pillow.” She sighed content to stay right where she was for the rest of her life. She really wished she could but Bianca would be leaving soon and she didn’t want to say goodbye.

“Do we really have to get up?”

“Yeah unfortunately. Come on I’ll see if I can find some coffee.” She sat up and stretched.

“Bye bye pillow.”

Maggie laughed at her as she walked around the counter into the kitchen. “If you three are done I’m making coffee.” She yelled.

The door slid open and they nearly trampled each other trying to get back in. Frankie stood at the counter watching her as she went about making coffee and she noticed an odd little smile on her sister’s face. Something had happened last night and she was dying to ask her about it but it would have to wait until they were alone.

“Okay coffee’s done.” She set out the mugs and poured.

“I don’t suppose anyone knows where Trevor got off to?” Jamie asked as he lifted the mug to his nose and inhaled deeply.

“Haven’t seen him I guess he left already.” Kendall followed Jamie's lead and took in a lung full of freshly brewed coffee.

“If he would’ve waited we could’ve given him a lift to the other side of the island the truck is right out front.” Jamie gestured with his half empty mug. “We should probably get going too I’d bet a million bucks that the shop phone is ringing off the hook.”

“I hate reality sometimes.” Maggie said dejectedly.

“Me too.” Bianca said as she raised her hand to accept the cup of coffee Maggie had made for her. “Thanks sweetie.” She froze with the cup halfway to her lips.

They all stopped dead in their tracks and three sets of eyes flicked from the brunette on the couch to the stunned looking blonde standing next to her.

Chapter Text

“What the hell?” Kendall hissed as they sat on the bow of the boat “The best you could really come up with was you call everyone sweetie?”

“I panicked what else was I supposed to say it’s not like I had a lot of options. Oh I’m madly in love with you didn’t seem like the right thing to say at the time. And that’s not even the worst of it, did you see the relieved look on Maggie’s face?”

“Binks don’t do this you knew going into this that she’s straight and you said yourself you wouldn’t change how you feel even if you could.”

“That’s just it Kendall, I’m not sure...” She shrugged and shook her head.

“Not sure of what?” she lowered her brows.

“Something kind of happened last night…”

“What? What happened?” She threw her hands out wishing she would just say it already.

“We uh…she kind of kissed me last night and I might have kissed her back and…well she didn’t exactly run away from me in disgust.”

Kendall let out a screech of joy the likes of which had never been heard by human ears. What she heard was that Maggie was in fact as queer as a giant pink elephant in a rainbow tutu. 

*

*

*

Frankie and Maggie lifted their eyes trying to figure out what was making that obnoxious racket above them.

“It wasn’t that bad was it?” Maggie asked returning her eyes to her sister.

“Magpie you looked like someone had just taken back a cancer diagnosis.”

“Oh god.” Her head thudded to the table. “I didn’t mean to do that I really didn’t. I can’t believe I did that. I’m such an idiot. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“It’s okay.”

“It’s far from okay….Frankie I did something last night and I don’t know why I did it.”

“Oh geez Maggie what did you do?”

“I might have, maybe…kissed her?”

“You, you.” She stuttered. "Holy shit." Unlike Kendall she managed to hold in her screech of joy, barely.

“Yeah that's pretty much what I've been thinking since last night.”

“How? I mean was it like oops you tripped and her lips broke your fall?”

“This isn't funny Frankie I have no idea what's going on with me lately. It's like...she showed up and everything started changing and I need to figure out why.”

“It’s okay Mags” she rubbed her back “I’ll help you and so will Jamie. Look on the bright side though at least we know she likes you right?”

“She does doesn’t she?” she turned her head and smiled up at her sister.

Frankie was already planning the wedding to end all weddings and she already had the perfect planner for the job. She was getting ahead of herself, there would need to be a first date then she could start planning. She smiled and made a mental note to thank Jamie for his brilliant idea, in fact she would have to thank him every day for the rest of their lives and also Mother Nature for her perfect timing.

Jamie sat at the wheel trying not to break out into obnoxious cackling at his own brilliance. That squeal of joy could only mean one thing, something happened last night. This little trip couldn’t have turned out any better. He spun the big brass wheel and pointed the boat for the mouth of the marina, back to reality.

“Okay ladies” he called down “time to get to work those sails won’t drop themselves.”

“Did I mention you were bossy?” Maggie said as she cleared the hatch.

“I believe you did and I told you, I’m the captain now shoo and get those sails down.” He flicked his hand at them.

With the boat tied up they made their way up the dock with Bianca and Kendall walking ahead talking quietly. Jamie and Frankie lagged behind helping Maggie up the dock locked in their own conversation but Maggie’s eyes never left Bianca. She smiled when the brunette turned to look back and Frankie felt hope for the first time in what seemed like years.

They rode home in a comfortable silence with Maggie lacing her fingers with Bianca’s somewhere along the way. She figured it would be okay and she found that she actually needed to feel a physical connection, to know that Bianca was more real than anything else in her life.

*

*

*

“Okay spill.” Frankie bounced down on the bed after Kendall and Bianca headed home. “What the hell happened last night?”

“I don’t know.” She paced back and forth as best she could. “When we got back from moving the boat we started talking and she was so upset because she was afraid something was going to happen to me and she was saying how she wished she were brave because then she would be able to say the things she was scared to say and it just kind of happened.”

“Again with the run on sentence how do you get that all out in one breath?” she laughed at her sister. “So you kissed her.”

Maggie nodded her head.

“And she kissed you back?”

Maggie nodded again.

“And then what happened?”

“Then Trevor showed up and I’m kind of glad he did because I was freaking just slightly.”

“Because you kissed her or because she kissed you back?”

“I don’t know.” she paused in mid pace hanging her head and sighing. “It was the last thing I expected but when it happened I don’t know it just felt…right somehow. But how can that be?” she turned her head so she could look at her sister. “I’ve never once questioned my sexuality. Not once Frankie. Don’t you think maybe this would have come up before now?”

“Maybe it’s never come up because you’ve never met a woman you’re attracted to. Are you? Attracted to her I mean?” She watched her closely.

“I don’t know I haven’t exactly given it any thought. I mean she’s absolutely stunning but I think a lot of women are stunning and I’ve never wanted to kiss them.” She sunk onto the bed next to her sister.

“Did you think about kissing her before it actually happened?”

“No.” she shook her head. “But now it’s all I can think about and I don’t know if it’s because I’m still kind of in shock that it happened or because I want to do it again. I don’t know what to think. Or do.” she closed her eyes and her shoulders sagged. “I’ve never felt like this before. I know I like her but I don’t know how I like her. I don’t know if it’s real or if my brain is just really confused like maybe it’s just gratitude or something.”

“Well I think the only way you’re ever going to know is to talk to her.”

“I don’t think that’s the best idea Frankie.”

“Why not?”

“You don’t think that might be a little awkward? I kissed her and we never talked about it what if she wants to talk about it?”

“Has she brought it up?”

“No.” she shook her head.

“Well maybe she’s as confused as you are.”

“She knows she’s gay I don’t think there’s much confusion going on there.”

“Well then maybe she thinks she freaked you out and doesn’t want to make it worse. Maybe she’s relieved that you haven’t said anything about it.”

“Maybe.” She blew out a breath.

“Well you’ll never know if you don’t talk to her so call her.”

“Even if there is something there I’m not good enough for her Frankie she can find someone so much better than me. From what I’ve heard her ex, Lena, was this totally gorgeous, intelligent, put together woman and I’m a disaster. You know, what kind of name is that anyway it sounds like a Russian stripper’s name.”

“First of all watch it you sound a little jealous Magpie and second she doesn’t see that she sees you. She sees how amazing you are, how kind and loving and full of life you are.”

“She said that when we were talking last night…that she wants somebody who’s full of life, but Frankie that’s not me, not anymore it isn’t.”

“But it is when you’re with her that’s exactly who you are. Maggie?”

“Yeah?”

“Does this mean that you definitely feel something for her, something more than friendship?”

“I don’t know.” She scrubbed her hands along her jeans.

“Soooooo, what are you going to do to figure it out?”

“Nothing. None of this matters because I can’t see her again.” She stood abruptly limping to the dresser and started rearranging her jewelry box.

“Wait, what? Back the train up what do you mean you can’t see her again of course you can you have to.”

“No I had forgotten. It was just us away from this place away from the past and I just…. I forgot he’s still out there. I keep getting these calls the number is blocked and I know it’s him. He’ll go after her and he’ll hurt her and I won’t be able to stop him.”

“Well I’m not letting him stop you from finding happiness. If he’s out there and he tries anything I’ll put a bullet in his head.”

“No you won’t because nobody will see him coming and when we do it’ll be too late.”

“Screw him” she stood raising her voice “if I have to I’ll hire twenty four hour bodyguards armed to the teeth with orders to shoot on sight. He won’t touch you, either of you.”

“I can’t take that chance not with her life. If staying away from her means it keeps her safe then that’s what I’m going to do no matter how much it hurts.”

“Maggie please” She placed a hand on her shoulder and turned her gently “don’t do this. What about her? Did you tell her, give her a choice? What if she decides that seeing you is worth the risk? You have to at least tell her because Maggie, I’ve seen the way she looks at you and I’m pretty sure I know what she would do. You can’t make this decision for her.”

“She doesn’t know what he can do what he’s done. If she did she would stay away from me.”

“Call her.”

“Right now?” she looked at the phone as Frankie placed it in her hands.

“Yes right now. You can’t just leave her hanging she’ll think it’s her and I know you don’t want to do that to her.”

“But-”

“No buts just do it.” She left and closed the door behind her.

She sighed as she slid her thumb across the screen and was greeted by a photo of the five of them standing on the beach. They had all squeezed in while Jamie with his freakishly long arms took the picture. Bianca was standing behind her smiling radiantly and she remembered the feeling she had gotten when she felt her arm slip over her shoulder and pull her just a little bit closer, her heart had beat a little faster and she had felt…loved. She smiled as her finger traced Bianca’s face, that perfect heart shaped face and those eyes that were so full of kindness and compassion. They were eyes that she could get lost in and stay there happily for the rest of her life. She threw herself backwards onto the bed.

“What the hell am I doing?” She pushed back into a sitting position. She had to tell her she couldn’t see her again she wasn’t going to let Bianca risk her life for her she wasn’t worth it. She dialed and held her breath as it rang. “Hey Bianca it’s Maggie.” She said when she heard her voice on the other end.

“Hey I was so just thinking about you.” She smiled into the phone. “We must have some kind of psychic connection or something.” She laughed.

Maggie’s heart fluttered at the sound. “You were? Really?” She had to tell her.

“Yeah I was actually thinking about calling you to see if you wanted to hang out later, after work I mean.”

“Oh uh, yeah.” Could she really tell Bianca no?

“I mean you don’t have to we did just spend over twenty four hours straight together so I understand if you need some space to breathe.”

“No!” She rolled her eyes at her own over eager response. “I mean that’s why I was calling you, to see if you wanted to do something.” Clearly no wasn’t an option when it came to the undeniably attractive brunette.

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. I seriously have to go into work and I’m pretty sure I’ll be there all night trying to catch up but maybe we could hang out tomorrow night? I can call you on my lunch break tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

“That’s sounds great I can’t wait.”

“You so just rhymed.” She laughed.

“You must bring out the poet in me.” She laughed with her. “So I guess I’ll talk to you later then.” She didn’t want to hang up they didn’t even need to talk she just liked knowing that Maggie was on the other end.

“Right we’ll talk later.” She didn’t want to end the call so quickly “Sooo, bye then.”

“Yeah, bye.”

Maggie heard Kendall in the background telling her to hang up the phone already that she would see her later.

“I guess you better hang up.” She laughed.

“You heard that.”

Maggie could just see the blush creeping up her neck painting her porcelain skin a bright pink. “Yeah I don’t know if you noticed but your sister has kind of a big mouth.”

“Oh trust me I noticed, I think people in China noticed.”

“Well you better hang up then.”

“Right, this is me, hanging up. I’ll see you later Maggie.”

“Bye Bianca.” She ended the call and felt the nervous energy immediately overtake her. “FRANKIE!!” She yanked the door open and rushed through nearly colliding with her sister.

“What?! What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, everything.” She said in a panic. “I don’t know what to do.”

“About? You’re going to have to clarify things a bit.”

“I’m seeing her tomorrow night and I told her we would just see what happens but what if nothing happens and she’s bored or disappointed and I don’t want to plan anything because she said she likes people who are spontaneous but if I don’t plan anything this could turn into a huge disaster and I really don’t want this to be a disaster.”

“Holy crap that was the mother of all run on sentences. Seriously how do you do that without passing out?”

“Frankie.” She whined “Not helping.”

“Sorry, but wow am I impressed by your lung capacity. I have a feeling Bianca would be impressed too.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Maggie felt the heat spread through her body and her ears started to burn like fire. “Frankie!”

“I want pictures!” Jamie yelled from where he was eavesdropping in the kitchen.

“You told him?” her eyes went wide.

“Magpie” she put her hands on her shoulders. “He already knew, we all did we were just waiting for you to clue in.”

“How could you know if I didn’t know?” She dropped onto the couch.

“Well we didn’t for sure, were just kind of hoping.”

“You were hoping I have feelings for Bianca?” This was officially blowing her mind. “Where the hell have I been?”

“We even had a plan.” Jamie walked into the living room with a glass of orange juice “We called it Operation Ta Ta’s, it was Kendall’s idea and I got to be Velma.”

“Operation Ta Ta’s really? What are you five?” she shook her head at them and that’s when it dawned on her. “That’s what yesterday was about wasn’t it?”

“We wanted to get you away from here.” Frankie told her. “We wanted the two of you to spend some time together without any distractions. You’re not mad are you?”

“No I’m not mad I’m kind of glad you did it, I had a lot of fun…but it also confused me and I’m not really happy about that one.” She looked up at them with honest sincerity. “What if I do, you know…I mean what if I am…I’ve never been a lesbian before." 

Orange juice exploded out of his mouth. “I can’t help you there” He laughed “I’ve never been a lesbian before either.”

Twenty minutes later Maggie walked out behind Jamie with his laughter still ringing in her ears.

“Come on you have to admit it was pretty funny.” He said walking backwards.

“Oh just get in the truck.” She laughed at him when he nearly tripped over his own feet. “Now that was funny.”

*

*

*

"Go ahead and laugh now you won't be doing it for much longer." He pulled away from the curb intent on taking away Maggie’s newfound happiness. She was his and nobody was taking her from him especially not some spoiled rich dyke bitch.

*

*

*

Joni stood behind Trevor watching the printer spit out photo after photo. She pulled one from the stack with a gleam in her eyes. She stared at the glossy image of Bianca pressed oh so intimately against Maggie’s back as they stared at the darkness beyond the door. 

A smile completely devoid of anything human sat perched on her lips as she listened to Trevor sweet talk the paper boy. "Throw enough money at someone and you can get them to do pretty much anything you want. The evening paper is going to make a very big splash." She threw her head back cackling. "Oh Maggie you make it all too easy."

Chapter Text

“KENDALL!” Bianca yelled from her room.

“What?!” she came careening into the room curly hair flying behind her. “What’s wrong?”

“I just realized something…I didn’t bring anything nice to wear. I’ve got jeans and shorts but I don’t want to look like I’m going to a kegger.”

"Aww you’re just so damned cute you know that?” she smirked at her poor sister.

“Not helping. I want to look nice Kendall what’s wrong with that?”

“Not a thing. Tell you what I’ll go in take care of the Gila monster of doom and take the rest of the day off so we can go shopping okay?”

“Okay.” She nodded. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

“A few times.” She laughed “What else are sisters for if not to help you look good for a date.”

“It’s not a date it’s just two friends hanging out, at least I think that’s what it is. Oh god what have I gotten myself into.”

“Binks…”

She was cut off by her ringing phone “That’s probably Cujo right now calling to snarl and bark at me be right back.”

Bianca sighed and crumpled onto the bed. “I’m so screwed.”

“Hello.” Kendall answered cheerily.

“Daphne it’s Fred.”

“Well hey Fred what’s up?”

“Operation Ta Ta’s was a huge success, the target has been confirmed as possibly having a dormant fondness for boobs, well you’re sisters at least.”

“I know!” she said loudly then brought her voice back down “Bianca told me on the boat and now she’s having that whole first date freak out which it totally adorable.”

“Maggie too and I’m loving the hell out of this but…” she paused.

“But what, there’s no buts, this is a but free zone. Frankie Stone don’t you dare rain on this parade.”

“It’s a small hiccup in the plan and one we should’ve thought about before we started this. It goes by the name Jonathan.”

“Shit. You don’t think he’s still around do you? That psychopath is not part of the plan.”

“Honestly I don’t know nobody has seen him but that doesn’t mean he isn’t around. If he is he won’t let this happen he’ll stop her from being happy, from being with anyone but him.”

“Well then we need to find him and it just so happens I know the perfect person for the job. I’ll make some calls and if he can’t find him then he’s swimming with the fishes and if he does find him he’ll wish he was.”

“Kendall?”

“Yeah?”

“I think I love you.”

“I’ve been told that a lot lately.” She laughed trying to lighten the mood. “Don’t worry there’s not a chance he’s getting near her, he won’t get near either one of them and that’s a promise. I’ll call you later after I’ve contacted him.”

“What do we do until they find him for all we know he’s right here under our noses. Maggie said she’s been getting phone calls and she thinks it’s him.”

“Call everyone you know and tell them to keep an eye out for him. With the whole town on psycho watch they should be safe enough until we can find out where he is.”

“Good idea. Hey I gotta go my shift is starting in few minutes call me when you know something.”

“Will do.” She hung up just as Bianca walked in. “Hey baby sis I was just thinking I know the perfect place to find you something to wear. Pick me up at lunch and we’ll go straight there.” There was no way she was going to burden her sister with this.

Bianca couldn’t wait. After she dropped Kendall off she pointed the Toyota towards the shop figuring that checking up on her car was a logical excuse to stop by. Which she reasoned it was, even though she knew for a fact that it was still in the same state it had been on Friday. She pulled up just out of sight thinking that maybe this was a bad idea, they were probably swamped and she would just be distracting them. She pulled a U-turn and headed back to Kendall’s but she knew she would go absolutely stir crazy just sitting there so at the stop sign she went left instead of right never noticing the black car following her.

*

*

*

“Hey Jamie can you turn the radio up I can’t hear it.”

“Sure thing.”

“Well hello to all of you listeners out there, sorry about the repeats but I was out of town and got stuck in that storm and what a fantastic storm it was. It’s a lot like life, the clouds roll in and it gets dark and you think this is terrible, the patio furniture is visiting the neighbors down the street and the dog is going for a leisurely swim in what used to be your front yard. But then the rain stops, the clouds fade away and you’ve never seen the sky look so clear, everything has been washed clean and you get a fresh start. At least that’s the way I see it. Anyway I had the pleasure to be stuck with some great people and isn’t that what makes life worth living? Having people around who you can depend on and laugh with, people you love who love you without conditions? I know it’s corny but love is what makes the world go round, well that and the sun’s gravity but I think it’s mostly love because without love what do you have? Love lifts us up and that brings me to one of my favorite songs love keeps lifting you Higher and Higher, I give you the one and only Jackie Wilson…”

Your love, lifting me higher

Then I’ve ever been lifted before

So keep it up

Quench my desire

And I’ll be at your side forever more

Jamie watched her as she stood at the workbench reassembling a clutch. She hadn’t stopped smiling all morning and that caused him to walk around looking like a loon because he couldn’t stop either. And he imagined there was a particular brunette somewhere in Haven Bay doing the same thing. He ducked his head under the hood tapping his foot with the beat wondering if this meant that maybe sometime soon she would start dancing again.

“Jamie” she yelled over to him “crank it up!”

He smiled even bigger and maxed out the volume. “Don’t you just love this song?” he shouted to her.

Now once, I was downhearted

Disappointment was my closest friend

But then you came and he soon departed

And you know he never

Showed his face again.

He caught her out of the corner of his eye. It started as just an absent foot tapping as she concentrated on her task but now she had her shoulders into it and he could see her lips moving as she sang along. He was tempted to stop what he was doing and go ask her to dance but he thought her first dance belonged to one person and he wasn’t going to take that away from either of them.

I’m so glad, I’ve finally found you

Yes that one in a million girl

And I whip my loving arms around you

I can stand up and face the world

*

*

*

“Well hello dear, it’s nice to see you again.”

“Hello Mrs. Bell.” She smiled at the kind woman.

“What brings you back? Maybe you saw something you’d like to buy for someone special?” she said with a knowing little smile.

Bianca looked at her puzzled. “Actually…yes…maybe…I’m not sure.” She slumped.

“Well I say that you came in here with the intention to buy something very specific and I think you should follow your heart, go after the thing you most desire. If you don’t you might regret it.” She reached under the glass counter.

Bianca watched her as she placed the silver heart on the glass. “How?” she looked up at her with surprise.

“Dear I’ve been in this business a long time and have seen many people come through that door, I know what love looks like when I see it.” She winked and then laughed at the shocked expression on Bianca’s face. “Don’t worry you did a fairly good job of hiding it, I’ve just had a lot of time to learn the signs.”

Bianca let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. “So…umm, how much is it?”

Mrs. Bell smiled warmly. “For you and for who I know you intend to give it to, consider it a gift.”

“Oh no I couldn’t…” she shook her head.

“Yes, you can and you will. Call me selfish but I was thinking this could be more of a gift for me and for all of the people who love Maggie. You take this and you give it to her, I just know that something magical will happen.”

She nestled the heart into a little red velvet box almost lovingly and placed it in Bianca’s hand.

“I don’t know what to say.” She said quietly as she stared at it. “Thank you.”

“Thank you.” She reached over to pat her hand. “Now you go after your heart’s desire dear and don’t let anything stand in your way.”

Bianca walked from the little shop clutching the box to her chest vowing to never let it leave her possession until she gave it to Maggie…if she managed to find the courage to actually do it. She drove around aimlessly for twenty minutes catching herself more than once headed in the direction of JAM Auto before she made herself pull over at a small park. Maybe she could take a few laps around and work off some energy.

“It can’t hurt to try.” She sighed climbing from the car with her fingers wrapped securely around the red box. “This is insane.” She breathed as she stepped into the small tree filled park.

She wasn’t even sure exactly where she was. She didn’t remember seeing the park on any of her trips through town and her surrounding didn’t look familiar but it was still beautiful. She walked along the small path listening as the birds chirped in the large oak trees around her and she had to laugh at herself. She was starting to feel like she was in a fairytale she just hoped it wasn’t Little Red Riding Hood and that the wolf wasn’t waiting around the next bend.

*

*

*

“Oh you can’t be serious?” Bianca said as she rounded the car and came face to face with a flat tire. “I don’t have time for this.” Her shoulders sagged in defeat.

“Need some help?” A voice called from across the street.

She looked up to see a tall man in a baseball cap smiling at her. Normally she would just call someone but she didn’t have time to wait, she was desperate. “You wouldn’t mind?”

“No, not at all.” He smiled as he dropped the box of nails and hammer in the trunk. “I’m a pretty good tire changer and you look like you’re in kind of a hurry.” He strode across the street checking for anybody who might recognize him.

“I am, I’m supposed to be picking my sister up from work in like fifteen minutes.”

“Well let’s see if we can’t get you there on time.” He reached in and pulled the lever for the trunk. “That must be something special there.” He nodded to the box in her hand. “You’ve got quite a grip.” He laughed outwardly but he knew who it was for and he was going to make sure she never got it.

“Oh” she looked at her hand “yeah, maybe. I’m not sure yet.” She scrunched her brows at the object.

“So I haven’t seen you around here before are you new in town?” he pulled the spare from the trunk.

“I’m visiting my sister for a little while.”

“Did you have to come far?” he looked up at her with the lug wrench in his hand. It would be just so easy to swing it and end it right here and now. Instead he settled it over the lug nuts and started cranking.

“Not really, just a few hours away.” She didn’t know what it was but something about him didn’t sit right with her. He seemed polite enough but there was something lurking behind those blue eyes and it scared her.

“Do you like Haven Bay so far?” he jacked the car up with more force than was necessary.

“I do, it’s beautiful here and the people are really friendly.”

“You must be from a city am I right?” She should have stayed there she may have lived to see old age.

“Sort of, it’s not really a city but it’s a lot bigger than this place.” She wasn’t telling this man where she lived, if she had to she would lie.

“I grew up in the city, I only moved here about five years ago and it’s like night and day but I like it here better.” She was being evasive, or maybe just precautious. She was pretty good at saying a lot without saying much of anything but her attempts were pointless, he did his research and knew everything there was to know about her. “Have you checked out Jivin’ Johnny’s yet? That place is great and Burger Palace has the best nachos, my girlfriend loves them with extra hot sauce.” He flashed his best charming smile as he pulled the flat off and replaced it with the spare.

“I haven’t been to Johnny’s yet but I’m hoping to go with a friend of mine.” There was something so off about him and what he was saying that it was actually frightening her.

“You should you’ll love it. Okay well you’re all set, good as new.” He let the car down off the jack.

“You weren’t joking when you said you were good at this.” She tried to smile at him but it was stiff. “Thank you.”

“I’ve done my share.” He dusted his hands on his jeans. “Glad I could help.” He tipped his hat and strode back across the street.

Bianca watched him go before getting in the car. She had seen that car earlier, when she was debating on whether or not to pull into the garage but there had to be a million of those things on the road. She pulled away from the curb headed for her sister and hopefully far away from that man.

*

*

*

“So Mags what have you got planned for tomorrow night?” he asked around a mouthful of cheeseburger. “If you decide to go for another late night swim might I suggest you go clothing optional?”

Maggie nearly choked on her ham sandwich. “What the hell Jamie!” she coughed.

“What? I’m just trying to help out.” He took another bite to hide his grin.

“I don’t need any suggestions from the pervy peanut gallery thanks.” She put her sandwich down. “Jamie?”

“Yo.”

“I’m scared.” She looked over at him.

He put his burger down. “Scared of what?”

“That he’s still out there and he’ll do something to her. I told Frankie I couldn’t see her again it’s the only way I know to keep her safe. She told me to tell her and give her a choice but I can’t let her put her life at risk, not for me.”

“What if she thinks the risk is worth it? Don’t you think it should be her choice?”

“Frankie said the same thing.”

“Then you tell her and let her make up her own mind. You can’t make this choice for her it’s not fair to her.” He took another bite “So what else, I know that’s not all of it.”

“No” she dropped her sandwich “Say he is gone and I never have to worry again that just leaves me to ruin this all by myself. What if I screw this up? What if I freak out I don’t want to hurt her, either of us. She’ll be leaving in what, like four days? What then?”

“Okay” he put an arm around her “here’s what I think you should do ready for this one?” he watched her nod “Don’t think, thinking gets in the way and it’s overrated anyway. Do what feels right does that help?”

“I must be off my rocker because that actually does help. I don’t know if I can do it but I’ll try.” She shrugged and picked her sandwich back up. “Thanks Jamie you’re seriously the best friend a human being could ask for.”

*

*

*

“Hey Magpie what brings you by?” Frankie spun in her chair to face her very distraught looking sister. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing….yet.” she sat heavily at the desk. “Possibly everything really soon.”

“Don’t do this, don’t get down on yourself.” She stood. “Is this about tonight?”

“What else would it be about? We talked about Jonathan and I covered the possibility of screwing this all up with Jamie but there’s one other thing.”

“What’s left to worry about?” she knelt in front of her sister and took her hands.

“After everything…” she paused and took a breath “with Jonathan, the way people look at me. Frankie what will they say now?”

“Oooooh, you mean what if you’re a rainbow flag flying vagitarian.”

“FRANKIE!” she turned three different shades of red.

She laughed “Maggie if you love Bianca and she loves you do you really care what anyone else thinks? Even if you’re not in love with her and you’re just friends will you care what people think when they see you together?” She stood and walked to stand in front of the window. “Come here.” She motioned with her hand.

Maggie got up and stood next to Frankie.

“Look out there. You see those people?”

Maggie nodded “Yeah.” She watched them as they walked, waved to a few who waved at them.

“You’ve known those people your whole life and they know you. They love you and no matter what, or who, you are that won’t change, not ever because you’ll still be you.”

“I guess.” She shrugged.

“There’s no I guess about it, it’s the truth. Look at them, really look. They haven’t been judging you, they haven’t been thinking you’re weak or a coward that was all the shit he put in your head. Everything has been him trying to break you and you wouldn’t let him, you’re still here, you still have a life you just have to take it back. Show him how much stronger you are than him. If Bianca is who your heart wants then go after her, if not then there’s someone else out there, male or female it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you’re happy.” She looked at her and squeezed her hand.

“Hey Frankenfurter do you have any idea how much I love you right now?”

“I’m thinking a whole lot.” She smiled. “Okay now that we have that out of the way how about you tell me what you have planned for your evening with the jaw-dropping gorgeous Bianca?”

*

*

*

“Kendall come on it’ll be fun just try it.” She begged.

“No way, nuh uh.” She shook her head curls swinging wildly. “There’s not a snowballs chance in hell I’m gonna let you throw me around. This house is full of expensive things…and I just had my nails done!” she added.

“Kendall really. I’m not going to throw you around I promise that at all times your feet will be firmly planted on the floor.”

Kendall quirked her brows trying to think of something, anything to get her out of this. She saw the determination in her sister’s eyes and thought harder. She wondered if there was smoke billowing from her ears and suddenly a light bulb went off. “I’ve got this terrible in grown toe nail and it really, really hurts. Ow, ow, ow, see?” she said limping for effect.

“You’re wearing three inch heels, I don’t think so try again.” Bianca cocked her head and planted her hands on her hips.

“Damn it!” she threw her hands up “I can’t do it! I tried once and it didn’t turn out well for either of us. Okay? Are you happy now?” she slumped in defeat.

“Kendall” she said calmly “it couldn’t have been that bad it’s just dancing.”

Kendall’s face turned red at just the thought of it and Bianca raised her brows in question. “Let’s just say it involved a ceiling fan and a trip to the hospital.” She rubbed her head at the memory.

Bianca busted out laughing and the appalled look on her sister’s face only made her laugh harder.

“Oh my god I can’t believe you’re laughing! It was the most embarrassing day of my life!”

“Worse than the time you dove into the pool in the middle of your high school graduation and came back up without-“

“No!” she put a hand up to stop her from finishing that sentence. “We aren’t going there. I think there are still pictures floating around out there and it’s why I refuse to go to any reunions.”

Bianca brought it down to a light chuckle as she stared at her mortified sister. “I’m sorry I know it must have terrible but look at it this way at least now you know not to dive into a pool in a strapless dress.”

“It’s okay I’m fine I’m a big girl and I dealt with this a long time ago…by leaving the country for two months.” She flopped onto the couch.

“Oh see! If you wouldn’t have popped your top you wouldn’t have left and if you wouldn’t have left you would’ve never-“

“Jean Paul.” Kendall said dreamily.

“Uh huh Jean Paul, tall dark and dumb as a box of rocks.” She sat beside her sister.

“Agreed but boy was he a gorgeous dumb box of rocks.” She smiled at the memory. “You know that’s one of the things I love about you, you were always a silver lining kind of person. I’m really glad to see that again.”

“I feel like I’m starting to remember who I am and it’s not just that I think I’m learning who I really am. I’ve never felt more like me, Kendall…Maggie makes me happy.”

“Well I’m happy for you, both of you because I think that goes both ways and if you really want to do this I will. But only because you’re you and I never could tell you no.”

“Oh thank you” she pounced on Kendall “thank you, thank you, thank you you’re the best sister who ever lived!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah but if I end up in a ceiling fan I’m leaving the country again. I don’t think I want to have to explain that twice in one lifetime.”

Bianca choked back a laugh not wanting Kendall to change her mind about helping her learn to dance. Maggie had said she would teach her but she didn’t want to look totally incompetent. “I promise no unfortunate ceiling fan accidents.”

“Good.” Kendall said “I sure hope Maggie appreciates this.” She said under her breath as she stood to help Bianca move the furniture.

*****

“Wait, wait, wait, you gotta, no, no, the other way, hey, ouch watch it!” Kendall rubbed her shin.

“Sorry, sorry, oh that’s gonna bruise. Maybe we should try this without shoes?”

“Good idea, lose the shoes less bruises more stubbed toes.”

*****

“Okay, now, kick your feet that way and then spin me this way.” Bianca said “I saw them do it in a movie once.”

“Right.” Kendall nodded.

“No left.”

“No I meant right as in okay not the opposite of left.”

“Oh, right.” Bianca bobbed her head.

“I thought left.”

“No it’s left, you know what just say okay for right.”

“Right I mean okay.”

“Right then.”

Kendall raised her brows and rolled her eyes in exasperation. It had only been ten minutes and already it wasn’t going well. “I really think you should just let Maggie do this at least she knows what she’s doing.”

“I just want to get the basics down now, spin me left then grab my hand and spin me behind you.”

“Okay” she took hold of Bianca’s hand “ready?”

“Yep, spin away.”

*****

“Aggg, Ken…Kend…can’…brea…”

“Ohhh sorry, sorry.”

Bianca disentangled herself from Kendall’s arms rubbing her neck. “It’s okay maybe we should stop before one of us gets hurt.” She dropped onto the couch.

“I told you this was a bad idea.” She flopped next to Bianca in exhaustion “I see flashing red lights and a siren going woo, woo, woo in our future.” She said spinning her finger in the air.

“They make it look so easy and I think I hate them for that.”

“Yeah well they’ve had years of practice and most likely professional lessons. We’re just a couple of bumbling fools spinning around my living room.”

“I just really don’t want to look like a clueless idiot.”

“Well as far as that goes I think Maggie has you beat.”

“How do you mean?”

“She’s never been with a woman before how clueless do you think she feels?”

*

*

*

“Seriously Frankie…stop laughing this is not funny.”

She bobbed her head and gasped for air. “Mag…” she sucked in a breath “I’m sure it’s not that much different and I’m also sure that she would have no problem playing teacher, I mean she already promised to play nurse.”

“I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.” She turned and walked into the office, mostly to hide the insanely bright blush that had enveloped her entire body.

“I saw that!” Frankie yelled after her.

“Hey Mags” Jamie said coming to lean against the open door “that’s a great color what do you call it hot for Bianca?” he laughed when she turned on a dime and stalked out the front door into the lot.

“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGG!” she turned and walked back in.

“You know I bet Bianca could think of a few ways to help you release some of that pent up frustration.” He smirked at her.

She growled at him grabbed her keys from the key plaque and stalked right back out the front door.

“Was it something I said?” he turned his eyes to Frankie who was in silent hysterics with tears streaming down her face.

*

*

*

“Why did I think they would be any help?” Maggie mumbled as she wandered down an aisle. “I must’ve had a massive brain fart or something.” She stopped and stared hard at the wall of cereal before plucking a box of Lucky Charms from the shelf and then stared at that. She let her mind wonder off into a daydream as the happy little leprechaun smiled at her from the box.

“Hey you.” She said coming up behind Maggie. “That’s an excellent choice.” She peeked over the shorter girl’s shoulder.

A smile spread across her face as she turned to see Bianca smiling radiantly back at her. “Big fan of Lucky Charms are you?”

“Oh yes but only the marshmallows, I like things that are tiny and sweet.” She winked.

“Oh really now? What other things do you like that are tiny and sweet?” She cocked an eyebrow in question.

“Well let me see” she put a finger on her chin and tapped “there’s strawberries and there’s kisses.”

“Uh huh.” She licked her lips her gaze falling to Bianca’s. “What else?” she asked quietly.

“And….” She stepped closer “there’s you and I think you’re the sweetest of all.”

They stood there staring at each other inching closer. Maggie reached up and tucked a lock of hair behind Bianca’s ear and traced her thumb along a perfectly sculpted cheekbone down to a heart shaped mouth. Bianca covered Maggie’s hand with her own and pressed a soft kiss to the inside of her wrist. Slowly she leaned down as Maggie pushed herself up onto her toes….

“Fancy meeting you here that’s an excellent choice by the way.”

“Huh?” she squeaked squeezing the box with her heart jammed in her throat. At this point she was pretty sure her brain wasn’t nearly as confused as she might have thought. Not that it made this any easier.

“Your cereal choice.” She pointed at the box with a curious expression. “Are you okay?”

“Oh uh…yeah I’m fine. I guess I just drifted off there. So uh what are you doing here?”

“Kendall needed me to pick some things up.”

“Oh.” She shuffled her feet dropping her head to stare at them. She knew it was crazy but she thought if she looked into those eye’s Bianca would know what she had just been thinking about.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” she tried to catch her eyes.

“Yeah I just have a lot on my mind I guess.” She picked her head up just in time to catch a woman staring at them as she pushed her shopping cart down the aisle shaking her head. She blinked in confusion at the woman’s back before turning her attention back to Bianca.

“So how’s work?”

“Swamped. I just came to grab some sugar filled snacks to keep us going. Maybe we should just eat spoonful’s of sugar and eat coffee beans.”

“It’s after six is it that bad?”

“Almost but we’ll get it done.” She shrugged.

“I have no doubt. Well not about you but I’m not sure about Jamie. He was always really good at finding ways to get out of his school work so I have a feeling actual work isn’t any different.”

“Ah so he’s always been a lazy ass.” She laughed.

“Stone!”

She jumped clutching her chest with her heart jammed up in her throat. “Tim you scared the crap out of me.” Clearly her instinctual response to loud, unexpected voices was one of those things that would take a long time to reverse.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you I guess I got a little excited.” He smiled sheepishly.

“It’s okay just try not to give me a heart attack next time.” She tried to reign in her raging heart.

“Can do.” he looked at the brunette “It’s nice to see you again.”

“You too.” She smiled at him. “Give away any more flowers to pretty ladies?”

“Oh plenty but none matched your beauty.” He winked at her.

“Oh you’re good.” She laughed at him.

“I learned from the best didn’t I Stone?”

Maggie blinked and wondered if she had just entered the twilight zone. “How do you know each other?” she looked between them.

“Actually Jamie’s manners were lacking I don’t think we were ever properly introduced.” Bianca looked at him.

“I’m Tim and you are…”

“Bianca.” She held out her hand.

He took it. “Well it’s nice to meet you Bianca.”

“When-”

Maggie was cut off by what sounded like the official fangirl squee only it was coming out of what looked like a boy who had to be at least as old as her.

“Oh my god!” He rushed up and immediately dropped to his knees kissing Bianca’s hand like she was royalty.

“Do you get this a lot?” Maggie laughed forgetting what she was about to ask.

“Nope this is a first.” She laughed with the blonde.

“Get off the floor Darren before you start attracting attention.” Tim pulled him up looking around to find a few curious onlookers. He had seen the paper or rather what was in it and his cousin was only drawing more attention to them. Maggie didn’t seem to notice. Or she just didn’t care. He looked at Bianca’s smiling face. He wouldn’t care either if he were lucky enough to have her attention.

“I’m so sorry but I’m a big fan.” He gushed.

“Of me? Usually it’s my mother.” She shook her head in disbelief.

“Oh I love your mother too I mean she’s Erica Kane but you, I can’t tell you…that interview with Tempo had me in tears and yelling you go girl all at the same time.”

“Before you go spilling your soul to her how about I introduce everyone first?” Tim laughed at him.

“Oh yes please do and then I can tell everyone that I know Bianca Montgomery. They’re all just gonna die from jealousy.”

“Right well Bianca, Maggie this is my cousin Darren, Darren this is Bianca and my friend Maggie.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” Maggie said.

“Oh I know who you are too, I’ve seen you dance at Johnny’s and might I say you are A-maze-ing. My boyfriend just loves you he says you have spunk, you actually danced with him once but I’m sure you don’t remember. His name is Steven he’s a hair under six feet, broad shoulders, bright green eyes and a smile to die for.”

“Oh I remember him” she laughed “I felt like one of snow white’s dwarves next to him.”

“You feel like a dwarf next to me.” Bianca rocked up on her toes.

“Oh please you don’t have that much on me.”

“Ha just you wait until I put heels on.”

Maggie cocked an eyebrow at her. “If you wear heels I’m wearing stilts.”

Bianca threw her head back and laughed. “Now that I have to see.”

“Hey I know people I can make that happen.”

“Don’t you dare I will not stand by and watch you hurt yourself.”

“Aww you never let me do anything fun.” She pouted.

“Fine if you insist on doing something crazy I’m….I’m….making you a suit out of bubble wrap.”

“Ohhhh that’s not a good idea I can pretty much guarantee that if you do the first thing I’m gonna do is throw myself down the nearest set of stairs just so I can hear them pop.”

“Oh my god there is something so wrong with you.” She hung her head.

“Yep but you love me anyway.” She smiled brightly. “It’s the Stone charm nobody can resist it.”

“I wouldn’t even want to try.” She let her gaze linger until she heard someone clear their throat.

“Well we’ll let you two get back to your shopping me and Darren here have to get over to Hazel’s to have our suits fitted for the benefit Saturday. Will we see you there?”

“I was thinking about it.”

“Well I hope you come, you and Bianca.” His eyes flicked between them.

“It was nice meeting you both.” Darren said as Tim led him away. “You know” he said to his cousin “except for me and Steven I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more adorable couple. They’re just so…perfect together.”

“Do you think they are? I’ve known Maggie my whole life and last time I checked Maggie was straight.”

“That doesn’t mean a thing Timmy the heart wants what it wants and your friend’s heart wants Bianca Montgomery any fool can see it.”

“So” Bianca hooked her arm through Maggie’s “are we still hanging out tomorrow night?”

“That depends.”

“On what.” She lowered her brows.

“On whether you’re wearing heels you giraffe.” She smirked at her.

“I won’t wear heels as long as you promise I won’t find you lurching about on stilts.”

“No stilts Scouts honor.”

“No heels but...only this time. I can’t promise I’ll never wear them.”

“Then we’re still on for tomorrow but…I can’t promise you won’t ever find me lurching about on stilts.”

“You should come with a label that says requires adult supervision.”

Maggie’s laugh echoed through the small store and Tim smiled when it reached his ears. He knew that laugh well and it had been far too long since he had heard it.

Chapter Text

“Ummm…Bianca?” Kendall said when her sister walked through the door.

“What’s wrong?” she stopped in the open door. “You hardly ever call me anything but Binks unless it’s serious.”

“I don’t know how to tell you this. You might want to sit down.”

“I don’t think I want to know.” She put the grocery bag down on the coffee table and sat. “Just tell me and get it over with.”

“There was something in the paper this afternoon.”

“Something? Something about what? What could they possibly be saying that would upset me?”

“They didn’t say anything there was uh….something inside.”

“What kind of something? Kendall please just spit it out.”

“This.” She pulled the photo from under the paper but didn’t hand it to her right away. “Before I let you see it I want to tell you that I just got off the phone with Jamie and Frankie and they assured me Maggie hasn’t seen it yet. They’re going to do their best to keep her from finding out for as long as possible but eventually…” she trailed off with a sigh. “I’m so sorry.” She handed it to her.

“Oh my god.” Her hand flew to her mouth. “Kendall how….who?” She stared at what had been a very private moment between them now out there for the whole town to see.

“It could only be that guy on the island, Trevor. The one who said he was taking pictures of the storm. I think someone put him up to it.” She waited for it to click in her sister’s head and then almost instantly she saw it. The wrath of a Kane woman.

She photo crinkled in her hands as her fingers clamped down into fists and she could feel it. This was so far beyond angry that a word didn’t exist to describe what she was feeling. “Kendall.” She said calmly.

Alarm sirens wailed in Kendall’s head. She had seen this before…in herself. “Bianca whatever you’re thinking don’t do it I guarantee you’ll regret it.”

“No. I won’t. Where does she live?”

“Oh no. No, no, no you aren’t going to see her.” She shook her curly head vehemently.

“If you don’t tell me I’ll call Jamie or Frankie they won’t hesitate to tell me. In fact I’m positive they’d volunteer to pick me up and take me there and I’m sure you know that will just make things worse. I’m just going to have a little chat with her.”

“Chat my ass I know better little sister.”

“I’m calling Jamie.”

“Oh god why do I have a feeling I’m going to end up having to bail you of jail and then calling mom to explain why her innocent baby girl was there.”

“Option A; I go alone and talk to her as calmly as I can muster at this point or option B; I bring Jamie and Frankie and that blonde bitch gets her ass kicked so hard she won’t be able to sit for the next ten years.”

“Or option C; nobody goes and we leave this alone to blow over.” She couldn’t for the life of her figure out how she had become the voice of reason.

“Not happening.”

“Fine but I’m coming with you we need at least one rational person there.”

She stood and walked out the door without another word.

Kendall drove as slowly as she could hoping the extra time would be enough to let cooler heads prevail. It didn’t work. They pulled up outside of the large house and Bianca threw her door open not bothering to shut it and practically stormed the front lawn like she was taking Normandy Beach.

“Oh yeah this is going to end well.” She rolled her eyes and followed her.

Bianca knocked and waited. The door swung open and she was greeted by Joni’s smiling face.

“Well hello there to what do I owe the surprise?” she chirped airily.

Bianca felt her jaw clamp down painfully and she couldn’t, no matter how hard she might have tried, stop her gut reaction. It all happened so quickly, her hand balled into a fist, her arm cocked back and then rocketed forward. Her knuckles collided solidly with Joni’s nose and the smile slipped immediately from her face as she stumbled back landing hard on the floor.

“Oh holy shit!” Kendall gasped in surprise. She wasn’t sure whether to drag her sister away or laugh so she just went with standing there gaping like a fish.

“You…” her eyes were watering and there was an almighty pain pounding through her head. “You bitch you broke my nose.” She pulled her hands away to stare at the blood.

She was unaffected by the words. She stood there staring coldly at the girl bleeding all over herself. “If you ever so much as breathe in Maggie’s direction again I swear I will end you. I’m a Kane sweetheart and I don’t make idle threats.” She turned on her heels storming back down the lawn with Kendall chasing after her.

When they were back in the car Kendall cranked the ignition and turned to look at her sister with a smirk. “If that’s your version of a chat I’d hate to see your version of a fight.” She laughed as she pulled away from the curb.

“Do me a favor and don’t ever tell anyone about this.”

“Oh baby sister I won’t have to. Her royal bitchness will shout it from the highest building claiming she was viciously attacked for no reason.”

“Shit.” She spit the word out.

“It’s okay I got your back. Nobody knows we were there except the three of us so it’s her word against ours and who’s going to believe that Saint Bianca hit her?”

*

*

*

“You really shouldn’t have done that.” She muttered as she sat in front of the security monitor. “Bianca my dear you should have just left well enough alone I was only interested in Maggie. Now I’m afraid this is going to get so much bigger than just Haven Bay.”

She picked up her phone and searched for the address for The Exposer. By noon tomorrow they would get a nice little package in the mail and then all hell would break loose in Haven Bay. She couldn’t have planned this any better herself.

*

*

*

“How the hell are we supposed to keep her from finding out about this?” Frankie whispered harshly shaking the photo at him.

He slumped down in his lawn chair. “Maybe it’ll be like the other ones and everybody will have the sense not to bring it up to her. Remember it was Joni who had said something all we have to do is keep her away.”

“You know for a fact that bottle blonde bitch will be on her like a bloodhound.” She seethed. She wanted to hit something. No not something, someone.

“She’s getting better Frankie we just need a little more time after that I don’t think Maggie will care what Joni does or says.”

“You’re gonna have to play blocker then you don’t let anyone near her at work. If she needs anything we’ll get it for her we can’t let this drag her right back to square one.”

“I know and trust me if anyone gets close enough to talk to her I’ll take care of it.”

“And if I see that bitch I’m gonna hit her so hard she’ll be shitting teeth.”

*

*

*

“How’s your hand?” Kendall sat next to her sister.

“You know they make it look like it’s nothing in the movies but this hurts like hell.”

“Do you want some more ice?” she moved to get back up.

“No it’ll be okay just as long as I don’t move it. Her head is really hard.” She cradled her throbbing hand against her stomach.

Kendall laughed. “Yeah well I could have told you that I think she has concrete for brains.”

“I can’t believe I hit her.”

“Binks you’ve hit people before and out of those few that harpy from hell deserved it the most.”

“No Kendall I’ve slapped people I hit her.”

“Do you regret it?” she looked at her closely checking for all the usual signs.

“Not a chance. You’re right she deserved it and if I had it to do all over again I wouldn’t do it any differently.”

“Good because I enjoyed the hell out of that.” She laughed. “I’m just sorry the rest of the gang missed it they’ll never forgive us for not inviting them.”

“Kendall, really?” she looked at her with a cocked eyebrow.

“Oh please don’t sit there and pretend that you wouldn’t have loved for Maggie to see you put that soul sucking leech on her ass. You could prove your love and stuff and then she’d be like” she put on her best Disney princess voice and fluttered her lashes “oh my hero!”

“Seriously are you sure we’re related?” she shook her head with a bemused smile. “I don’t know how you can joke about this.”

“Because it’s either that or I drive right back over there and threaten to shove something pointy in a very unpleasant place.”

“As much as I would love for you to do that it doesn’t solve anything and neither did hitting her. I’m pretty sure I just made things worse.” She let out a ragged breath. “She’s hell bent on tearing Maggie’s life apart and I think the only one that can finally put a stop to her is Maggie.”

“Give her time Binks it’ll happen. She’s gotta get her legs back under her first. You know you gotta walk before you can run. Come on it’s late and I think it’s about time to put this day to bed. We’ll see just how bad things look in the morning.”

She stood pulling Bianca up with her. She knew it was going to hit the fan she just didn’t know how or when.

*

*

*

Maggie’s eyes roamed over the large space filled with the sound of music and people laughing. She caught Jamie in the corner stuffing his face with a hot dog and laughed shaking her head at him as he threw his hands up in a ‘what’ gesture. Her eyes moved along and saw Tim on the floor dancing badly as usual but it didn’t matter as long as he was having fun. Frankie was up on the stage doing her thing and Kendall was there making the rounds like a curly headed whirling dervish.

They all looked like they were having so much fun but something seemed to be missing. It wasn’t quite perfect yet. She let her eyes roam back over the room. Nothing appeared to be different from any other Saturday night. Lots of laughing, dancing people. All the same people that were always there. She moved away from the table weaving between bodies her eyes searching.

The dancers parted suddenly and for just an instant she caught a glimpse of dark hair before they melded back together. She craned her neck trying to spot her through the wall of people but there was no sign. She pushed her way through dodging flying arms and legs as the dancers hurled each other around. And she heard a familiar laugh from just behind her. She smiled turning to lock her eyes on a heart shaped face with a bright, happy smile.

“There you are I’ve been looking for you.” Now she knew what had been missing to make everything perfect. The way it was supposed to be.

“All your life?”

Maggie couldn’t tear her gaze away from the tall brunette. “Yeah.” she breathed “I think so.”

She held her hand out. “Dance with me Maggie.”

 I bless the day I found you

I want to stay around you

And so I beg you

Let it be me

Maggie looked down staring at the long slender fingers waiting for her own to entwine with them.

Don’t take this heaven from one

If you must cling to someone

Now and forever

Let it be me

Slowly she lifted her eyes and the crowd had disappeared leaving just the two of them.

Each time we meet, love

I find complete love

Without your sweet love

What would life be?

She was lost in the brown orbs shining back at her.

So never leave me lonely

Tell me you love me only

And that you’ll always

Let it be me

Slowly her hand rose slipping into the one offered to her, moving closer to pull Bianca’s body into hers, her other arm encircling a slender waist.

Each time we meet, love

I find complete love

Without your sweet love

What would life be?

And suddenly they were floating around the dance floor.

So never leave me lonely

Tell me you love me only

And that you’ll always

Let it be me

“Perfect.” She whispered feeling Bianca’s heart beat against her own.

Maggie rolled over clutching the pillow tightly to her chest humming in her sleep

Chapter Text

Maggie opened her eyes then closed them again with a groan. “Stupid alarm clock.” She grumbled as she slapped blindly at the snooze button. “I was right in the middle of a dream.” Her eyes popped back open as her heart hammered in her chest. “Bianca.”

She could almost feel Bianca in her arms, pressed against her body as they moved together around the dance floor, could feel her lips as they brushed softly against her own. But that hadn’t been a dream. She had held her in her arms and she knew exactly how it felt when Bianca’s lips were against hers. It had felt perfect. And that was terrifying.

*

*

*

“Good morning oh sister of mine.” Kendall chirped from her spot in front of the coffee maker. “How’s the bitch buster?” she turned with two cups in hand.

“It really kind of hurts but I’ll live.” She flexed her fingers letting out a groan. “It’s you I’m worried about.”

“Me? Why me?” she walked over setting the cups down.

“You do remember what happened last night don’t you?”

“The single most romantic thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously that whole ‘don’t even breath in her direction or I’ll end you’ thing was friggin awesome and I totally believe you’d do it.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever said anything I meant more. I would do anything to protect her Kendall from everything and everyone but what I did…I kind of broke your client. I put your job in danger.”

“Honestly I don’t care let her fire me I’ll gladly refund all of her money and tell her to shove it up her ass.” She sat shrugging. “It’ll be a relief because I’m tired of putting up with Cruella I have a hard time keeping my comments to myself. Also I really hope her nose swells to the size of a grapefruit.”

“I was thinking more like the size of a small moon but a grapefruit will do.”

“You better watch it sis you’re starting to sound more and more like me.”

“I could think of worse things than being more like my amazing big sister.” She smiled at her. “You were right Kendall it’s time I let things go and start living my life consequences be damned. If I end up in the tabloids so be it but that leaves me with one tiny problem.”

“And that would be?” she looked at her over the rim of her cup as she took a sip.

“Maggie. After everything she’s been through…” she trailed off sighing “even if nothing happens between us just being friends with me will always put a spotlight on her.  I can’t do that to her.” She shook her head sadly.

“So what are you saying here Binks?” After everything she couldn’t possibly be saying what she thought she was hearing.

“I have to make sure she understands what she would be getting into and let her decide if she’s willing to risk her privacy. I don’t expect that she will and I won’t push her to do something she doesn’t want to.” She dropped her head back to stare at the ceiling. “I don’t think my heart will be able to take that Kendall I think it’ll break me.”

“Hey now” she moved to kneel in front of her and took her hands “don’t go assuming things you don’t know what she’ll say until she says it.”

“Do you really think she won’t care that people will be hounding her to get the details of her private life? That she won’t care that her picture might end up in one of those rags?”

“Binks” she sighed “there’s a big difference between this and what happened with Jonathan. With him there are painful memories and regrets and misplaced shame with you there’s joy and laughter and love. If I were Maggie I wouldn’t want people knowing about what happened with him either but I would be telling the world about you.” She squeezed her hands. “Big difference little sister.”

“Maybe.” She looked down at her hands. “I hope so.”

*

*

*

“Tim I owe you huge for this. Tonight at eight….yeah that’s the one….you think she’ll like it?....Yeah I know it’s great but not everyone is a fan…okay I’ll see you later.” She hung up the phone and immediately went to her dresser. “No…nuh uh…oh hell no….” clothes went flying everywhere as she emptied its contents. “What the hell was I thinking when I bought this? No, no, no, no. Oh my god really?! There has got to be one outfit in here that doesn’t scream I’ve given up on life!”

She turned going through the mountain of clothes on her bed. She wanted to look nice but she was sure her idea of nice and Bianca's were not the same thing. "Looks like it's just you and you." she held up a pair of faded jeans in one hand and a light gray t-shirt in the other. "It'll just have to do." she sighed.

*

*

*

“Yes I know.” Jamie spoke quietly into the phone as he craned his neck around the doorway. “I’ll tackle anybody that tries to get near her.”

“I’m coming by at lunch to keep her occupied and fend off anyone that might show up.”

“Frankie what happens if we get a call and I gotta leave?”

“Shit I didn’t think of that umm…we’ll call Bianca she can go hang out with her. She knows what to do right?”

“Yeah I called to make sure and they’re both on board with Operation Kill Anything That Gets Within a Hundred Feet of Her.”

“Oh yay a new code name at least this one isn’t a nickname for female body parts.”

“Give me some time I’m sure I can come up with something oh crap I gotta go she’s coming.” He quickly hung up, shoved the phone in his pocket and picked up his glass of orange juice.

“You aren’t planning on spitting that everywhere are you?” she eyed him warily.

“That depends on what comes out of your mouth.” He smiled when she groaned.

“You aren’t going to ever let that one go are you?”

“Not on your life.” He shook his head. “So are we ready to wade back into the huge mess that is our business?”

“No.” her shoulders slumped. “We really need to start looking for a new mechanic we can’t keep going like this.”

“Hey I got a list of names I can start making calls you just say when.”

“When. Come on let’s get this over with.”

“Come on Mags keep your eyes on the prize.” He threw an arm around her shoulder.

“And what prize is that?”

“You got a date with a smokin’ hot chick tonight.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“James it’s not a date.”

“Well then what would you call it?”

“We’re just hanging out.”

“And you were in there yelling at your clothes because what, they were plotting against you? Are you bringing her flowers?” his voice rose and he batted his eyelashes.

“Why would I bring her flowers? Flowers are for dates and say it with me, This. Is. Not. A. Date.”

“Fine we’ll just call it a ‘not a date’ date then.”

“Because that makes it better?”

“It’s all in the wording my stubby little friend.” He pushed her through the living room and out the front door to his truck.

“Do you uh…” She cleared her throat. “Do you think I should bring her flowers?”

He just laughed at her.

*

*

*

Jamie launched himself at the ringing phone nearly sliding across the top and over the side. “JAM Auto how can we get you moving today?” he shrugged at Maggie when she squinted at him suspiciously. “Yeah we’re working on it right now it should be done just before noon and you can pick it up….no problem I’ll see you later.” He hung up.

“What is up with you today you’re actually working.”

“Maybe I’m finally turning into one of those horrible adult things next thing you know I’ll be paying bills on time. That was Chuck by the way he’s coming later to pick up his car so I think we should get back to work.”

“Ooooookay.” She turned her back with raised eyebrows. “It’s gonna snow I just know it.” She mumbled as she exited the office.

*

*

*

“So Magpie are you gonna let me in on what you have planned for tonight?” she swung her legs as they sat on the tool bench eating lunch.

“Just a movie.” She shrugged. “Jamie said I should bring her flowers.” She glanced over for her sister’s reaction taking a bite of her sandwich.

“Hmm well I guess that depends on whether you see this as a date and whether you want Bianca to see this as a date. So do you?” her legs stopped swinging and she put her own sandwich aside.

“I don’t know what I see it as.” She sighed slumping her shoulders.

“Well I have a way to help you figure it out just ask yourself one question, how do you want it to end?”

“What do you mean?” she looked over at her taking another bite.

“Don’t play dumb with me you know exactly what I mean. Option A is a nice friendly hug and a see you later option B is I want to rip all of your clothes off and have my way with you right here right now.” She wiggled her eyebrows and laughed at her when she started banging herself on the chest.

“Okay that’s it I can’t eat when I’m around you and Jamie I’m gonna choke and die.”

“You aren’t getting off that easy answer the question.” She crossed her arms waiting expectantly.

She stared hard at the sandwich in her hands throwing it on the bench and running her hands through her hair. “I just don’t know.”

“Well then here’s what you do wait until the last minute to decide. Whatever your gut instinct is do it. If you pass by the flower shop and you get this overwhelming urge to buy flowers do it if not just keep driving.”

“Please don’t tell me that’s how you make life decisions.” She laughed.

“Only when I’m having trouble making them. I just don’t think about it until I absolutely have to. It’s like when you’re at an intersection and you know which way you have to go to get where you're going but something is telling you that you should go left instead if right. Your gut knows something you don’t and you later find out that there was some huge accident right where you would have been had you not gone left instead.”

“I guess that makes sense.” She let the idea roll around her head. “So just don’t think about what I want it to be until I actually get in the car to pick her up.”

“Exactly listen to your gut sometimes it knows things your head doesn’t."

*

*

*

“Kendall I promised her no heels now she’s going to run off and find a set of stilts and I’m gonna have to bubble wrap her.”

Kendall made a face at her. “I’m guessing I missed out on something because that made you sound like you should be on medication.”

“I’ll tell you about it later right now we need to focus.”

“Okay you need to take a deep breath and relax before you pop that vein in your forehead. You said you wanted to look nice and it’s been proven that heels take you from nice to smokin’ hot. Which one of those do you prefer?”

She hung her head. “Smokin’ hot.” She mumbled. “But this isn’t a date.”

“Maybe, maybe not but you’re going to treat it like it is. You’re mission, should you choose to accept it is to pull out all the stops and go for broke. This night ends in one of two ways, fireworks or flames.”

“I don’t like the flames, no flames I’d like to at least keep her as a friend.”

“I don’t mean sink the battleship Binks but give it a good test run, find out if it’s seaworthy or permanently docked. Oh god I’ve been hanging out with Jamie and Frankie too much.”

“I think I have too because I totally got that and you’re right. I have to find out one way or the other because this is eventually going to drive me insane. So how do I look?” she turned to face the full length mirror.

“Baby sis” she stood behind her “you look smokin’ hot.”

*

*

*

Maggie pulled up in Kendall’s driveway just after seven thirty and sat in the car trying desperately not to hyperventilate. “Okay it’s fine, everything is fine.” She took a breath and looked at herself in the rearview mirror. “Geez get it together Stone.” She pushed the door open. “Here we go I can do this.” She got out walked up to the door and knocked.

“I’m coming hold on a sec.” Kendall threw the dishrag in the sink and went to the door. “Hey Maggie Bianca will be right out she’s on the phone with our mom come on in.”

“Thanks.” She shut the door behind her.

“Have a seat I’ll tell her you’re here.” She disappeared down the hall.

Maggie sat and flipped open the photo album that was still sitting on the table. Her hands just wouldn’t stop shaking and she grunted at her inability to control her own body. She turned the pages smiling at the pictures of Bianca and Jamie and a few with Kendall stopping when she came across a picture of just her. She looked like she couldn’t have been more than five or six and she was kneeling in front of a frost lined window staring into the dark.

“I was waiting for Santa.” Bianca laughed softly from over her shoulder. “My dad took that I remember I was so disappointed because I fell asleep and didn’t get to see him.”

“Aww that’s so cute.”

“You think that’s cute you should see the one where I decided that I was going to be the Christmas tree. My parents were surprised when they walked into the living room and found me wrapped in lights and wearing the tinsel like a shiny wig. Go ahead flip the page.”

Maggie turned it and sure enough there she was all decked out. “You are officially adorable.” She laughed.

“You know you’ve seen mine I think it’s only fair I see yours.”

Kendall turned herself around and went right back down the hall laughing. They both turned to see what was going on and that’s when Maggie finally saw her.

“Holy Jesus.” She muttered as she took in the image in front of her. She let her eyes roam over the body burning itself into her memory. “You…” her throat had turned to sandpaper.

Bianca smoothed a hand over the outfit Kendall had picked out for her. She wasn’t sure if it was too much or not enough and she was suddenly self-conscious. She looked down at herself studying the combination and was curious to know what Maggie was thinking.

She wasn’t thinking. Her brain had gone on overload and shorted out somewhere between the low rise jeans and the black leather jacket. Although if she could form a coherent thought she would admit that her eyes had chosen to glue themselves to the abundance of cleavage not so subtly concealed beneath the white tank top.

“Maggie?”

Her eyes quickly bounced up to meet Bianca’s and by the smirk on her face she knew she had been caught. “Do you uh…do you remember what I said about you not wearing heels?”

“Yeah I told-”

“Yeah forget it I take it back because they really work for you.”

“I’m gonna hold you to that you know.”

“You can hold me to whatever you want.” Against her will her eyes dropped back to Bianca’s chest.

“I’m gonna go tell Kendall we’re leaving and then we can go okay.”

“Uh huh.” She nodded.

Bianca turned to go down the hall and Maggie’s eyes followed her. When she was out of sight she picked a magazine off the coffee table and immediately started fanning herself.  “Why in the hell is it so hot in here?”

Bianca entered the room smiling grandly and found Kendall doing an actual happy dance. “You heard all of that didn’t you?”

Kendall let out a small screech of surprise and turned around with her hands clamped to her chest. “Jesus you almost gave me a heart attack, and yes I heard that. What” she said at her sisters head shake “is it too early to celebrate?”

“Just a little, but” that huge smile slipped back into place “I think it had the desired effect, I owe you one.” She turned and caught one last glimpse of Kendall’s happy dance before rejoining Maggie.

She paused in the doorway watching Maggie pace and fan herself. She let her eyes trail up and down the small blonde's frame taking in the perfect curve of her backside in those jeans and she suddenly felt the need to shove her head in the freezer. She stepped backwards a few paces on wobbly legs before calling out to give them both a second to collect themselves.

“I’m ready whenever you are.”

“Well then your chariot awaits milady.” She hooked her arm through Bianca’s when she offered it and led them to the door.

They stepped out and Bianca turned to close the door behind them.

“Oh can you wait right here for a second?” Maggie backed away, went to the car and came back. “I uh…” she reached up to scratch at an imaginary itch on her neck. “I got these for you.” She pulled her hand from behind her back.

“Oh Maggie they’re beautiful.” She took the bouquet of wild flowers pulling them to her nose. “Thank you.” She said quietly hiding her smile behind the colorful arrangement.

*

*

*

“Maggie? What are we doing here isn’t it closed?”

“I know a guy.” She opened her door. “I think Frankie is on the air if you want to turn her show on I’ll be right back.”

Bianca reached over and flipped the radio on and heard that now familiar voice.

“So there was this one time, you know what I don’t think that story is appropriate this is a family show after all. Anyway the benefit at Johnny’s is just around the corner and I sure hope to see everyone there. I know there’s one person in particular everyone would just love to see and if you should happen to run in to her let her know. Okay next song up is….hold on…sorry I made this playlist like two weeks ago and I just don’t remember what I put on the thing…ah there you are, it’s The Monkees with I’m A Believer.”

 

I thought love was only true in fairy tales

Meant for someone else but not for me

Love was out to get me

That’s the way it seemed

Disappointment haunted all my dreams

 

Maggie pulled the door open to the small concession lobby and saw Tim dancing away behind the counter.

 

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer

Not a trace of doubt in my mind

I’m in love, I’m a believer

I couldn’t leave her if I tried

 

“Really Frankie?” She mumbled rolling her eyes. “I see you haven’t lost you’re moves.” She said to his back.

He turned and smiled at her. “Not a chance Stone girls dig guys who can dance. Speaking of, are you and gorgeous coming to Johnny’s Saturday?”

“Gorgeous huh? You do know you’re not her type right?”

“I was informed earlier but I have to tell you even without her life story it was obvious.”

"What do you mean obvious you could tell by looking at her that she's gay?" She unconsciously pulled at her collar glancing down at herself."

"No." He shook his head smiling softly. “We’ve known each other our whole lives and we know everything there is to know right?”

“Yeah.”

“So can I ask…is there something going on between you and Bianca? The only reason I’m asking is because you seem happy and I get the feeling it has everything to do with her.”

She slumped on the counter. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want there to be?”

“Maybe, I think so” she turned to stare out into the dark lot “but what if something does happen there’s a lot to think about. What will people be saying about me when this gets out, what will her family think of me? I don’t want her friends and family to know that I’m a lowly grease monkey they’ll all look down on me and tell her that I’m not good enough for her.”

“You know you told me something once after I had been dating Madison for a while. I was so worried that I wasn’t good enough for her and you told me that it didn’t matter if I thought I was good enough all that mattered was that she thought I was good enough.”

“I remember.”

“Yeah well you were right. I started to see myself through her eyes, I started to see what she saw and it made me a better person, a better version of myself. See yourself through her eyes Stone and what you find just might surprise you.”

“Where was I when everyone turned into Yoda?”

“Waiting for you a pretty girl there is.” He said in a bad imitation. “Do something for me, ask the old Maggie Stone what she would do and then do it. Screw what anyone else thinks the only thing that matters is you and her.”

She stepped away from the counter and walked to the door. “Hey Tim?” she turned to look at him. “Madison is one lucky girl.”

“Hey Stone if Bianca is who your heart wants I say go for it. Now go on the movie starts in five.”

She pushed through the door and walked along the gravel lot. The old Maggie Stone wouldn’t hesitate to go after something she wanted, the old Maggie Stone really wouldn’t care what anyone thought and that was who she wanted to be. It was who she was when she was with Bianca, who she was because of Bianca.

“Hey you the movie should be starting in a few minutes.” She stopped to stare at Bianca. “Whatcha looking at?”

“The stars they’re so beautiful. My dad loved them. I gave him a star for his birthday one year and whenever I want to talk to him I just look up and find it.”

Maggie slid in and mirrored her position. “Which one is it?”

“That one right there see it?” She pointed straight up.

“Yeah, what was his name?” She flicked her eyes to the brunette. She really was, in her humble opinion, the most stunning woman she had ever seen.

“Travis.” She turned her head to look at Maggie. “You aren’t planning to take a nap are you?” she laughed quietly when Maggie closed her eyes.

“Nope.” She shook her head. “I just wanted to tell him what an amazing daughter he raised and how much better the world is because you’re in it.” She turned her head to look at Bianca.

“Your dad didn’t do such a bad job either I think he would be really proud of you.”

“I hope so.” She turned her face back up to the sky wondering what her dad would really think. The only thing she was sure of was that he would really like Bianca.

“So what movie are we watching?”

“His Girl Friday I love this movie I think I’ve seen it at least a hundred times. Have you ever seen it?”

“No but if you love it I know I will too.”

The screen flickered to life in front of them and as the opening credits started rolling Maggie glanced over at Bianca. What would the old Maggie do? The old Maggie had never been a lesbian before either but if she had been and this was an official date…she slid across the seat closer to Bianca.

“I’m short I can’t see over the steering wheel.” She tossed her a lopsided grin.

Bianca laughed at her. “Well we can’t have that come here short stack.”

“You’re going to find five million ways to call me tiny aren’t you?” 

“You better believe it peanut.”

“Skyscraper.”

“Lil bit.”

“Just exactly how tall are you with those heels on?”

“Somewhere around five nine.”

“I bet you have some sexy power suit that goes with those heels right? You must have them drooling around behind you everywhere you go.”

“Hardly. I don’t know if they’re afraid of me because of my mother or if I’m just hideous.”

“Bianca you are far from hideous you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and you’re heart makes you even more beautiful.”

She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Thank you.” She smiled. “I was actually thinking the same thing about you.”

“I don’t know about that.” She dropped her eyes running a finger along her brow.

“Well I do. You Maggie Stone are an amazing person and I consider myself lucky to know you. This is going to sound crazy but I think we were supposed to meet.”

“You know I’m pretty sure if you told Frankie she would agree with you and then draw you a chart to prove it.” She smiled. “I always rolled my eyes when she started talking about that new agey stuff but I’m kind of starting to think it’s not as off the wall as I thought. Can I ask you something?”

“Anything you want.”

“If you hadn’t come here what would you be doing right now?”

“Oh it would be very exciting. I would be sitting in my tiny apartment watching sappy romance movies wondering how everything had gone so wrong and crying into my popcorn. All I’ve ever wanted is to find someone to love who will love me back that’s not asking too much is it?” she turned her eyes to Maggie.

“No.” she shook her head. “I think you’ll find it really soon.” She was quiet for a moment. “Can I ask you something else?”

“You know you don’t have to ask every time, you can just ask.” She chuckled at the blonde who had snuggled into her shoulder.

“Okay. When did you know you were gay?”

Bianca raised a brow at the out of the blue question. “Well…if I had to pinpoint it I guess I would have to say it was on my fifteenth birthday and my wish was to be able to kiss this girl in my class and have her fall madly in love with me. Obviously that didn’t happen.”

“Who was your first kiss?”

“Ah her name was Rain.”

“Rain, really?” She picked her head up to stare at Bianca.

“I know I know but her parents were hippies. Do you wanna know what her brother’s name is?”

“Please don’t tell me it’s Forest.”

“It’s Forest.”

Maggie cackled. “Oh my god those poor kids. I would never do something like that to my kids.”

“How many?”

“Definitely more than one I think only children miss out on so much. I couldn’t imagine what my life would have been like without Frankie.” She laid her head back on Bianca’s shoulder.

“I can’t imagine my life without Kendall either.”

“What about you?”

“More than one but less than a baseball team.”

Maggie laughed at her. “Agreed.”

“I can just see you with kids they’re going to absolutely adore you. You’re going to be a great mother.”

They sat silently watching the movie on the screen but not really seeing it.

“Bianca?” Maggie whispered after a little while.

“Hmm?”

“We haven’t talked about what happened on the island.”

Bianca’s heart hit light speed. That was the last thing she had expected Maggie to bring up and she hadn’t prepared for it. “I…” her brain fumbled for words. “Well…”

“It’s okay we don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” She should’ve kept her mouth shut. Bianca probably didn't even like her like that.

“No I want to it’s just that…you haven’t said anything about it so I thought it was best to just not mention it. I kind of screwed up and I was afraid…”

“What do you mean screwed up?” She picked her head up to look at her.

“I shouldn’t have kissed you back I should’ve stopped it.”

“Oh…” She turned her eyes to the screen. Her heart actually hurt.

“I need to tell you something.” She paused to gather her courage. “I like you Maggie more than I should and I don’t want to lose this friendship because it’s special to me. I didn’t want to screw it up by telling you how I feel because I knew that you would never feel the same way. But then the storm happened and I was so worried about you and all I could think about was what if I never saw you again. I was going to tell you that night.” She finished quietly.

“That’s what you meant about having the courage to say all the things you wanted to say.”

“Yeah but I was worried that I would scare you away.”

“And then I kissed you.”

“And I wasn’t sure what to think. You didn’t bring it up so I thought you were pretending that it didn’t happen that you thought it was a huge mistake. You were just caught up in the moment or something.”

“Honestly it all kind of caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to think either.” She breathed staring at her hands in her lap. “I’m still not sure what to think but I know it wasn’t a mistake.”

“You don’t?” She asked quietly.

“No.” She shook her head. “I think somewhere in the back of my mind it was there I just wasn’t ready to face it. I don’t know if you know this but I’ve been a little messed up for a while.” She glanced at her with a small smile. “But then I met you and I could feel things start to change. I started feeling more like me and I thought maybe I was just a little confused like maybe it was just because you were so nice to me. But I know that isn’t it because when I’m not with you you’re all I can think about and when I am with you I never want to leave you.”

“Really?” she whispered as tears started forming in her eyes.

“Really.” Her hands fidgeted uncontrollably. “I’ve never felt anything like this before and it scares me but it’s a good kind of scared. It’s like when you’re on a rollercoaster headed for the first drop. You know it’s coming and you’re completely terrified and the closer you get the worse the butterflies get. Then you hit the top and suddenly you’re falling and it’s the most exhilarating thing you’ve ever felt and you never want it to end. That’s what I feel all the time when I’m with you…I feel it even when I’m not with you.” She chanced a look at Bianca when she didn’t respond. “Why are you crying? Please don’t cry I know comparing love to a rollercoaster isn’t the most romantic thing but I’m a little out of practice.” She gave her a lopsided grin that earned a small smile in return.

“No it’s perfect.” She smiled wiping away a tear. “It’s perfect because it came from your heart, because it is uniquely Maggie Stone and I happen to think she’s incredibly special.”

“I know you said I didn’t have to ask every time I had a question but I was wondering if maybe I could…can I uh…” She had never been so nervous in her life, nervous and excited.

“If you’re about to ask what I think you are then the answer is yes every single time.” She smiled.

“Well that’ll cut down on the awkwardness.” She laughed. “So anytime I want then?”

“Maggie” she said shaking her head “just kiss me already.”

“Jamie was right you are bossy and I kind of like it.” She leaned in pressing her lips firmly against Bianca’s. Every inch of her came alive and she could feel the blood as it rushed through her veins. “Wow.” She breathed. “You should come with a warning sign that says flammable because I’m pretty sure I just caught on fire.”

Bianca laughed. “If anyone else would have said that to me I would’ve rolled my eyes and walked away but somehow it makes me want to kiss you more.”

“It’s the Stone charm I could say anything and it’ll make you want to rip my clothes off and have your way with me.”

“Oh you think so do you? By all means give it your best shot then.”

“A challenge.” She smirked sliding closer and lowering her voice. “There are four cycles in an internal combustion engine the first is intake followed by compression then combustion-”

She pulled Maggie back to her. “Combustion sounds like fun I think we should try that.”

“But that was only three cyc-” she was cut off by a pair of soft lips. She smiled into the kiss feeling like her world had just been righted after being upside down for too long. It was terrifying and exhilarating and she never wanted it to end.

Chapter Text

“I hope you don’t mind” Maggie said as she drove the familiar route from the drive-in “but Frankie and Jamie said they had a surprise waiting at the house. I was told not to take you home until after we saw it.”

“Well orders are orders right?” she smiled. She wasn’t ready to go home anyway.

She turned down the street and into the driveway. “Why do I feel like I’m about to stick my head into the mouth of a hungry lion?”

“Because their idea of a surprise is probably something that would give us heart failure. Seriously if there’s a lion I’m out of here.”

“I’ll be right behind you.” She opened her door. “Let’s go find out what Itchy and Scratchy were up to.”

They walked side by side up the driveway and Maggie unlatched the gate to the backyard. When it swung open they were both rendered speechless by what greeted them.

Strings of white lights were strung all across the yard creating a soft glow that illuminated a small table set in the center of the patio. Two candles sat at the center and sprinkled all around were red and white rose pedals. Off to the side where it went almost unnoticed was an old CD player with a note attached. Maggie walked over and opened it immediately recognizing her sister’s handwriting.

Magpie,

I know this isn’t officially a date but sue me for getting my hopes up. Whatever happens remember that I love you, oh and Jamie too, he told me to make sure I wrote that. Do me a favor and follow your heart on this one no matter how much it might scare you I have a feeling Bianca will be there to catch you if you fall.

P.S. Press play I’ve already got it cued up, sit back, relax and enjoy.

Love always your older by three and a half minutes sister

Frankenfurter

She reached out and pushed play letting the music fill the space and shook her head at the song Frankie had cued up to play first.

 

When the night has come and the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we see

No, I won’t be afraid, oh, I won’t be afraid

Just as long as you stand, stand by me

 

“A dollar for your thoughts.” Bianca walked up quietly to stand next to her.

“What happened to the penny?”

“You’re worth way more than that.”

“Some days I’m not sure I’m worth even that. It’s so hard, I remember who I used to be and I look at myself now and it’s like I’m not even the same person. I’m sorry.” she turned to face Bianca.

 

So darling, darling stand by me, oh stand by me

Oh, stand, stand by me, stand by me

 

“Don’t apologize for being human Maggie.” She slid her hand into Maggie’s and gave it a gentle squeeze. “Do you remember what I said, that I only know you after Jonathan?” she walked them to the table and they sat across from each other.

“Yeah.” Her hands fidgeted in her lap as she stared down at them.

“I would love to have known you before but don’t you dare think that the person sitting in front of me is any less amazing. I won’t have anyone thinking that you’re somehow worth less now than you were then.” She clutched the small bag that held her heart inside. “Maggie you are absolutely the most incredible person I have ever met.”

“But why? I’m sure you know a lot of people that are worth a hundred of me, a thousand.”

“I do know a lot of people and not one of them is even in the same galaxy as you. Sometimes I’m not even sure I really know them because they only show you what they want you to see. You aren’t like that, you’re just you and you don’t pretend to be anything else, I wish everyone were like that. I wish I was.”

“But you are.” She leaned forward and placed her hands over Bianca’s. “I think that’s one of the reasons I feel like it’s okay to be myself around you. You don’t tell me that everything will be okay because it’s what you’re supposed to say, you say it because you really believe it. And you don’t run away when things start to get messy you stay because that’s just who you are. Even if I hadn’t pushed everyone away I’m not sure they would have put up with me for very long. They only want happy, put together Maggie not scared, disaster Maggie. I can’t pretend to be okay when I’m not.”

“I don’t want you to pretend, I want you to be you no matter how big of a disaster you think you are, which by the way you aren’t. What you are is human and I don’t expect you to have the world’s greatest day every waking second. We all have bad days, some of us have bad months and others bad years, you’re allowed that. We all are. Sometimes our own expectations of ourselves are the hardest to live up to and when we don’t it makes us-”

“Feel like a worthless sack of crap?” she cut her off.

Bianca laughed “Exactly, and personally I’m tired of expectations from here on out this is my life and whoever doesn’t like it can take a long walk off a short peer.”

“Into shark invested water.” She added.

“With a big bucket of chum.”

Maggie laughed at her. “Do you think it’s that easy?”

“No but I’m going to give it my best damn shot. What do you say? Let’s just forget about everyone else and do what makes us happy and to hell with the consequences and what anyone else thinks of us.”

“But there will be consequences.” She didn’t want to bring it up but she had to. “Jonathan…if he finds out about you…I’m afraid he’ll try to hurt you. I won’t let you risk your life, not for me.”

“And I won’t let him scare me away from you. Maggie I’m not letting you go unless it’s what you want.”

“I don’t want you to.” She said quietly not meeting her eyes. “But you don’t know you didn’t see what he’s capable of.”

“I’m not afraid of him Maggie” she stood and went around to kneel in front of her “I don’t give a damn if he’s ten feet tall and breaths fire I won’t give him the power to control my life and my decisions.”

“But what if-”

“Nope” she shook her head “no what if’s. I’ve played that game my whole life and what has it gotten me? I’ve never lived Maggie and I want to live and I won’t let him stop me from doing it and neither should you, not anymore. You can’t live the rest of your life looking over your shoulder waiting for him to pop out of some dark corner to get you. If you want we can take a self-defense class that way if he should happen to try anything we’ll both be prepared. You and me together he won’t know what hit him and if that doesn’t work we’ll sic Kendall on him she’s like a rabid dog when you piss her off.”

Maggie couldn’t help but smile at her. She somehow always knew exactly what she needed to hear to make everything better. “Would you really do that? Take a self-defense class I mean not sic Kendall on him.”

“Yes…to both of them.” She laughed. “I’ll start looking as soon as you drop me off.”

It was a small thing but it still managed to ease some of her worry even if it was only temporarily. “Do you really think it’s that easy?”

“No I think we’re both going to have to work hard to change and to let the past go but if you try I’ll try.”

“Okay then we’ll try.”

“Deal. And in honor of this occasion I’m going to find a crosswalk and not use it.”

Maggie busted out laughing. “Going for broke, I like that. I don’t think I’ll do anything so wild and crazy but maybe…”

“Maybe what? What grand statement will you make to honor this momentous decision?”

“Well, you heard about the benefit at Jivin’ Johnny’s Saturday, I haven’t been there in a long time. I was afraid of being stared at like a freak, plus I don’t dance anymore. Maybe I’ll go, if I don’t chicken out.”

“If you need, I mean if you want I can go with you, you know if you need someone to lean on until you get your legs under you.”

“I think having you there would really help a lot, but I’d just be going to say hi to everyone. Baby steps. Just going would be really huge for me.” She sighed. “I’m sorry we were having such a nice time and I went and ruined it.”

“You haven’t ruined anything. I love that you feel like you can talk to me it means a lot to me. You know I haven’t thanked you for what was the most amazing night of my life.”

“Even the part where I brought the night to a screeching halt?”

“Even that part.” She laughed.

“In that case you’re welcome and I hope you’ll have more of them.”

“As long as I’m with you I know I will.” Bianca stood bringing Maggie up with her. “So what now?”

“Well there just happens to be music playing and I know Frankie probably put a lot of thought into every song.”

“And I do recall an offer to teach me to dance.” She smiled shyly.

“I did didn’t I? Well in that case this might work better if you to come down to my level you Jolly Green Giant.” She smirked at her.

Bianca laughed at her and kicked off her heels. “Better?”

“Much. Come’ere.” She pulled Bianca closer staring up into dark eyes. “You know I’m really glad I met you.” She said quietly.

“Me too.” She breathed leaning in closer. “You know I really can’t imagine my life without you in it.”

“Me either.” She pushed herself up on her toes until she was just an inch away from soft lips. “I think I’m fall-”

And that’s when the world came crashing down on them. The yard erupted into a hailstorm of flashes as reporters trampled each other yelling questions from every direction.

“Bianca are you and Ms. Stone in a relationship?” Came one voice.

“Ms. Stone is this your first lesbian relationship?” Came another.

Maggie clutched Bianca as they tried to shield their eyes from the blinding strobes of light.

“Bianca does your ex know that you’ve moved on so quickly?”

“Has Jonathan Lavery contacted you since his release from the mental institution?”

A shock of panic ran through her body. She pushed away from Bianca and attempted to run for the gate but her path was blocked. She spun searching frantically for an exit and her eyes spotted a gap that led to the back door. She sprinted for it entering the house through the back and just as quickly barreling through the front door for her car leaving a shocked brunette standing there with a million questions being launched at her.

“Maggie wait!” she pushed through the reporters running down the driveway and into the middle of the street watching the taillights recede into the dark. She stood there with bare feet in the middle of the road yelling with cameras snapping away and she didn’t give a damn about anything they might print about her. What she did give a damn about was what they had just done to Maggie. What she had just done to Maggie and she would never forgive herself for it as long as she lived.

Chapter Text

“Ms. Montgomery would you like to make a comment? Is Ms. Stone ashamed of her newfound lesbianism?”

She knew that voice and when she turned she found Donald Steele standing there with a satisfied grin on his face. “You.” She said in a low growl. “Do you have any idea what you and your pack of vultures have just done? No of course you don’t, you don’t care about anyone but yourselves. You have no idea what she’s been through.” Maggie’s terrified face flashed in her mind and she could feel her nails digging into her palms.

“Now now Bianca you know we go where the story is and you and Ms. Stone are the story everyone will be dying to read about.” He smiled a smug little smile.

“No” she shook her head “I’m the story everyone will be dying to read about.” She balled her hand into a fist and without so much as a thought of what people would be saying she pulled back and swung releasing everything she had bottled up since she was sixteen.

Blood immediately erupted from his nose as he stumbled backwards and fell flat on his back. “You” he looked at her with shocked eyes “you broke my nose.”

“If you go anywhere near her again I’ll break every bone in your scrawny, pathetic, soulless body.” She turned to face the flashing cameras “You want a statement? How’s this, I’m done. I don’t give a damn anymore print whatever the hell you want I refuse to let the fear rule my life anymore. So go ahead tell the world I lost my mind and snapped because I just don’t care. Oh and here’s a picture to go with that statement.” She flipped up one well-manicured finger. “Print that.”

She strode across the lawn and through the open front door shutting it behind her. She leaned against it sighing as she tried to keep the tears at bay. This was not how she thought the night would end. Maggie had disappeared into the dark and she was stranded with the hounds barking outside the door. She stuck her hands into her pockets and sighed again as she pushed away from the door and padded silently into the kitchen to stare into the backyard.

“Of course it is.” She muttered as she stared at her purse sitting on the patio table. She shook her head pulling the door open and stepped onto the back deck.

She walked silently to the small table picked up her purse and heels turned to go back inside and stopped. The music was still playing and for just an instant she could feel Maggie against her as they swayed together. It had been the happiest she could ever remember being and it had been snatched right out of her hands and she had no one to blame but herself. The sight of Maggie’s terrified eyes had broken her heart and shredded any remaining self-control she had left but she was more than willing to pay the price for her actions if it meant they would leave the small blonde alone. She slowly made her way back into the house sitting heavily on the couch as she replayed it over and over again. Her hands moved on auto pilot opening her purse and reaching in for her phone. What she wrapped her fingers around was a small velvet box.

“Oh Maggie.” She breathed as she let the tears fall. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” She opened the box tracing her thumb over the heart. “This was supposed to have a happy ending.” She placed it gently back in her purse, pulled out her phone and hit speed dial. “Hey.” She said when Kendall answered. “I need you to come get me.”

“Did something happen? Did Maggie say something-”

“No” she croaked closing her eyes against the sting of the tears “the press showed up and Maggie ran off.”

“Hell. I’m on my way I’ll call Frankie and Jamie sit tight.”

Ten minutes later Bianca heard yelling and then a pissed off Kendall came barging through the door. “Get lost or I’ll put my foot so far up your ass you’ll be tasting shoe leather.” She slammed the door. “What the hell happened?”

“I don’t know Kendall, I don’t know how they found out about Maggie.”

“I’ll give you three guesses, you’ll only need one and by this time tomorrow she’s gonna look like she hit a moose with her face at sixty miles an hour.”

Bianca jumped up from the couch and stormed towards the door “I’ll kill her, I’m going to put my hands around her throat-”

“Whoa there Binks you don’t want to give them any more ammo.” She pulled at her sister’s arm.

“I don’t care anymore let them write whatever the hell they want, besides after what I did they already have one hell of a story.”

“Bianca…” She lowered her brows staring. “what did you do?”

Bianca held up her now swollen hand. “I may or may not have broken someone else’s nose?”

“Geez Binks you have just a tiny bit of pent up anger don’t you? So who was it this time?”

“Donald Steele. Oh and I might have flipped of the reporters.”

“Oh my god I freaking love you!” Kendall grabbed her up in a bear hug squealing with glee. “Mom is gonna have a heart attack but I am so damn proud of you baby sister. Come on let’s see if they have some ice for that hand it’s getting one hell of a workout.” She pulled her into the kitchen and closed the shade over the sink.

“I don’t need ice I need to find Maggie, or at least know she’s okay.”

“I called Frankie on my way over she said she knew where to find her, I’m sure she’s with her right now.” She pulled the ice try out dropped the cubes into a big pitcher and filled it with water. “Come on we can talk while we wait to hear from them.”

“Talk about what, this is a disaster the end.” She sat and eased her hand into the frigid water in front of her. “She’ll never speak to me again after this.”

“Did you try calling her?”

“No I didn’t think she’d answer, not if she knows it’s me. I did this, I knew it would happen but I didn’t think it would be so fast.”

“This isn’t your fault Binks and I’m sure she knows that.”

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, it would have always happened I was just really hoping we would have more time. I hoped I could find just a tiny bit of peace and some privacy here but I was wrong and now I’ve dragged Maggie into this insanity. I didn’t think Kendall-”

“No you didn’t, what you did was feel.”

“And where did that get me? Now not only will they know about Jonathan but she’ll have to deal with the same thing I did, her face on the cover of that trash with the word lesbian printed next to it for all the world to see. That nearly destroyed me Kendall what will it do to her she’s already been through so much.”

*

*

*

“Magpie?” Frankie walked quietly towards the car not wanting to startle her. “Maggie, Kendall called and told me-”

“They had no right Frankie.”

“I know.”

“No.” she said harshly. “You have no idea. They’re going to put it out there for the whole world to read about and it’s nobody’s damn business. I know Joni did this and when I see her I swear I’m going to ram her teeth down her throat. What the hell did I ever do to her to make her hate me so much?”

Frankie took a step back. She hadn’t heard Maggie get angry in a long time and the vehemence in her voice was shocking. “Maggie?”

“I’m so tired of this Frankie.” She slumped and closed her eyes. “When is it going to stop? It’s bad enough that everyone here knows I don’t need the whole world to know and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Poor girl nearly beaten to death by abusive boyfriend and I’m sure they’ll print those horrible pictures. And if that isn’t bad enough I’ll have to deal with them sticking their noses into my relationship with Bianca. The whole world will be at my door.”

“Who cares what they think they don’t know what happened they don’t know what you lived through and you did. You survived him and you should be proud of that.” she paused. “Just think Magpie, all of those women out there who are dealing with this right now and don’t think they’re strong enough. Maybe reading about your story will help them find the strength they didn’t think they had. They’ll see that you were able to move beyond it and find happiness, just think of the hope you might give people.”

“I…” she looked over at her sister who had moved to stand by the door “I wouldn’t have a story if I would have left him the first time he hit me I wouldn’t be here right now, if it wouldn’t be for Joni those photos would have never gotten out, if, if, if.” She slammed her hand against the steering wheel with each word.

“Don’t do this Magpie the what if’s will eat you alive. It is what it is and the only thing you can do is move forward, keep going. Things will get better they have to, the universe owes it to you.”

“I left her there you know.” She said not really talking to Frankie “I ran away and just left her standing there with all of those cameras flashing in her face. And I…I can’t go back and face her. I really am a coward.”

“You aren’t and you don’t have to, not tonight but eventually…you have to tell her something even if it’s to say you can’t be around her right now.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to I just…I need space to think. Where do you go when there’s no place to go?”

“I don’t know Magpie maybe we should crash at a motel for a few days, you me and Jamie. I’ll call Kendall and Bianca and let them know you’re okay and where we’ll be.”

“No. They’ll just hunt us down. This won’t end not now and at the very least I won’t let them chase me out of my own home.”

*

*

*

“That was Frankie” Kendall hung up the phone “They’re headed back this way. She’s going to stay with Maggie and hope the assholes get bored and go home.”

“Fat chance. They have themselves one hell of a story and they aren’t easily deterred.”

“We’ll see about that.” She put her arm around her and led her to the door. “You want to wait for them, maybe talk to Maggie?”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea I think we should just go.”

“Are you sure?” she put a hand on Bianca’s arm.

“Yeah.” She looked at her and nodded. “I don’t want to make things worse for her. If she wants to see me again it’ll have to be her choice not mine but I need a minute I’ll be right back.” She picked up her purse and headed for Maggie’s room.

Kendall paced the living room while she waited. She could easily slip back into bitch mode and take Joni down a few pegs but she knew it wasn’t her place. Even though she would love nothing more than to dig up every dirty little secret and shout it from the rooftops. She stopped when she heard Bianca shut the door quietly.

“Ready to go?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“You always have a choice, come on.” She held out her hand looking at her sadly. When she had her sister’s hand firmly in hers she pulled the door open to flashing cameras and shouts. They barreled through without a word shutting themselves in the car.

“See? Not easily deterred. The only way to get them out of Haven Bay is to go home and that’s the last place I want to be.” She stared through the window watching the town she had grown to love slide by and away from her.

*

*

*

“Oh god.” Kendall mumbled as she sat at the kitchen table reading the stack of tabloids the next morning. “Oh god, this is bad, bad, really bad.” She picked up the next one. “Even worse.”

“Kendall.” Bianca stood in the kitchen doorway “Exactly how many covers did I make?”

“Umm…all of them. This one though” she dug through and picked one out “This one I’m having framed.” She held it up with a huge grin.

Her eyes bounced between the photos, one of her standing over a bleeding Donald Steele and the other flipping off the cameras and for just a second she had to laugh. “If only I could tell you just how good that felt.”

“I bet it did, remind me never to piss you off Ali.”

She sat heavily at the table with her grinning sister “I wouldn’t take it back but I don’t think it helped anything, I think I just made it worse and you know I have to leave like, yesterday.”

“You aren’t going anywhere not until you have a long heart to heart with a certain blonde. You owe it to yourself and to her to find out where you stand because if you just leave you’ll never know if you have something worth fighting for.”

“I’m absolutely positive it’s worth fighting for I just hope she thinks so too.” She slumped staring at her now bandaged hand. “Remind me next time I want to hit someone how much it hurts.”

Kendall smirked at her as she reached for her ringing phone. “I don’t think it would stop you.” She hit the answer button. “Hello.” She looked at her sister shaking her head. “Yes, right. Okay good I’ll be right there.” She hung up. “Sorry I’ve been waiting for that call.”

“Important wedding stuff?” she rolled her eyes at the thought.

“Yeah the bridesmaid dresses are being delivered today and I don’t want to give Satan’s wife a reason to do something that would cause me to kill her.” As far as lies went she thought that one was completely believable. “You don’t mind hanging out here by yourself for a little while do you?”

“I hadn’t planned on leaving the house unless maybe Maggie wanted to see me.” She flicked her eyes to the papers “Which I seriously doubt she will.”

“Give her some time Binks she’ll come around you’ve dealt with this your whole life this is new for her. Call Jamie I’m sure you could use him right about now.”

“Yeah maybe.”

“I shouldn’t be gone long as soon as I’m done I’ll be right back here.” She stood and dropped a kiss to Bianca’s forehead “Don’t worry it’ll all work out trust your big sister on this one.”

Bianca smiled at her and watched her walk out the front door yelling rude comments about the reporter’s mothers as she shut the door.

“I really hope you’re right.” She said to the empty house.

*

*

*

He strangled the paper in his hand. “That bitch.” He growled slamming it onto the desk and staring at the photo of Maggie with her hands all over that whore. “You really shouldn’t have done that.” He swiped his keys from the heavy wood surface and stormed out of the cabin. “You really shouldn’t have done that.”

*

*

*

“Who was that?” Maggie asked from her curled up position on the couch when Jamie came back from his call.

“It was Bianca. She wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Is she…did she sound like she was angry with me?”

“No Mags she’s worried about you.”

The front door opened and Frankie walked through casually turning back to the reporters “I wasn’t aiming for you I was aiming for the squirrel what are you gonna do have me arrested for attempted squirrel-ocide? I’d like to see you make that one stick.” She closed the door and turned to face two perplexed expressions. “What? I thought I saw the ninja squirrel of death and was gonna take him out once for all but they got in my way.” She shrugged.

“Where did you go?” Maggie asked wanting to laugh and cry at the same time.

“To the station.” she pulled the messenger bag over her head and set it down “I had to run down and make a statement about all of this before people started talking.”

“Oh god.” Maggie dropped her head into her hands. “I’ll never be able to show my face again.”

“Come on Mags it’s not that bad this will all blow over before you know it.” He really hoped so at least. She had been so close to finding happiness but of course it would all somehow manage to implode.

“Yeah the way it all blew over with Jonathan?” she stared at him skeptically. “I don’t know how Bianca deals with this every day.”

“Why don’t you zone out for a while watch some trashy T.V. and turn your brain to pudding.” Frankie picked up the remote and flipped it on. “See there it’s one of those tabloid shows. Watching how celebrities have royally screwed up their lives will always make you feel better about yourself.”

“I don’t want to watch T.V. Frankie I want to find a nice dark hole and crawl into it.”

Frankie turned the volume up. “Just a few minutes maybe someone got arrested and they’ll show a really horrible mugshot those are always fun.”

“And now for our Exposer exclusive concerning the cosmetics world’s most famous lesbian Bianca Montgomery.”

All of their heads turned in unison to stare at the woman on the T.V.

“Just a few months ago The Exposer broke the news of Ms. Montgomery’s breakup with her girlfriend of nearly a year and now we have an update to the story. She recently retreated to a small town where her sister Kendall Hart resides and while visiting she met a young woman. From the information we received the two formed a bond very quickly and it may have left Ms. Montgomery with the wrong impression. It has been brought to our attention that she in fact may have been rejected and given her already fragile emotional state she may be on the verge of a complete breakdown.”

“Oh this isn’t going to be good.” Jamie mumbled as he sunk onto the couch next to Maggie.

“We have some video footage that shows Ms. Montgomery’s alarming progression towards that end. Now we are warning you that some of what you are about to see contains violence. This first clip was shot by an anonymous source at the Haven Bay Marina where the odd behavior seems to have begun.”

They watched as an overhead view of the dock came into focus and showed Bianca dancing around like a lunatic until she sent Joni over.

“That was just funny.” Jamie laughed shaking his head at the antics.

“That was the scene Sunday morning and the young woman who has been identified as a Haven Bay local, Joni Stafford was contacted and stated that she had thought at the time it was a simple accident. But then Ms. Montgomery showed up at Ms. Stafford’s home and she began to suspect that she had been targeted for unknown reasons.”

The image of a dark yard replaced the reporter.

“What the hell?” Frankie muttered squinting at the black and white video as a figure stalked into view.

“When did this happen and why did no one tell us about it?” Jamie asked the girls who didn’t respond.

They watched as Kendall followed her into the frame and they approached the door. They saw Bianca knock and the door open, they stared with their mouths hanging open as she pulled back and let Joni have it full force right in the face.

“HOLY SHIT!” Jamie yelled. “That bitch went down hard!”

“Hold on…” the reporter paused. “My producer is telling me that we received yet another video just moments ago and yes…we’re going to show it to you unedited. Here is exclusive footage of the normally calm and collected Ms. Montgomery losing her temper and lashing out at our very own Donald Steele.”

They sat staring at the screen and watched as a very pissed off looking Bianca reeled back and hammered Donald Steele into the ground.

“YES!” Jamie threw both arms above his head.

“SHHHHH!” Frankie and Maggie hissed at him. “It’s not over.”

“That twin thing scares me sometimes.” He muttered to himself as he listened to Bianca.

“If you go anywhere near her again I’ll break every bone in your scrawny, pathetic, soulless body.”

Her image turned towards the cameras flashing in her face.

“You want a statement? How’s this, I’m done. I don’t give a damn anymore print whatever the hell you want I refuse to let the fear rule my life anymore. So go ahead tell the world I lost my mind and snapped because I just don’t care. Oh and here’s a picture to go with that statement.” She flipped up one well-manicured finger. “Print that.”

They watched her stride for the door with her back straight and her head held high and then the video cut back to the reporter.

“That occurred last night and is just the most recent event in what appears to be Ms. Montgomery’s rapidly deteriorating mental state.”

Frankie turned the T.V. off and just blinked at it. “That’s one hell of a woman.”

Jamie grinned proudly. “That’s my best friend.”

That” Frankie said “is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“I can’t believe she did that.” Maggie’s brows dropped. “I don’t…why would she do that? She’s tried so hard to keep something like that from happening.”

“Oh boy.” Jamie muttered hanging his head. “There’s something you should probably know that would explain everything.” He walked to his room and came back holding the photo they had kept from her. “This was in the paper yesterday.”

Maggie stood backing away from him shaking her head. “Jamie…” her eyes bounced up from the thing in his hand to his face. “She did it again didn’t she?”

“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you Mags but you know it was because we were trying to protect you. We’re pretty sure that guy that showed up at the island was Joni’s hired goon. I’d be willing to bet that Joni sent them a care package and that’s why the media circus showed up suddenly.”

“Just….just let me see it.” She held out a quaking hand.

He cast sad eyes down to look at it before holding it out to her.

She took it staring up at the ceiling to try and prepare herself before dropping her eyes. “This…we were just talking she was trying to comfort me.” She whispered. “I told her about that night, the night Jonathan almost killed me. He…she…is nothing sacred?” her voice cracked and tears started tracing their way down her cheeks.

“I’m so sorry Magpie.” Frankie wrapped her arms around her from behind resting her chin on her sister’s shoulder. “But this doesn’t have to change anything between you and Bianca. I mean did you see what she did for you?”

“She’s right.” Jamie nodded in agreement “I’ve never her seen her do anything like that for anyone, not even herself. She must really love you because she just kind of threw herself under the bus.”

“I don’t get it.” She said quietly.

“She hit that asshole Steele to focus their attention on her. She made sure her ‘mental collapse’ was bigger news than who she might be dating. Did you notice they barely mentioned her love life and they didn’t show this at all.” He tapped the photo. “She did it to protect you Mags.”

“And I let her do it god what is wrong with me? I should’ve stood by her side how could I do that to her?”

“It’s not your fault Magpie you were ambushed anybody else would’ve done the same thing.”

“You wouldn’t have.”

“No but you know me I love the spotlight and the brighter the better. And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t blame you.”

“You can’t know that.”

“Well you can’t either unless you talk to her.”

“I can’t.” she shook her head stepping out of Frankie’s embrace. “I can’t.” she turned and ran for the safety of her room.

“This is a total clusterF**k.” Jamie heaved and thudded into the couch cushions. “We have to find a way to fix this.”

“We need a plan.”

“We need Daphne.”

“Well Velma let’s get her skinny behind on the phone and see what she has rattling around in that head of hers.”

*

*

*

Maggie paced the floor of her room chewing on her nails. Of all the ways she had seen her near future going this wasn’t one of them. She had planned to spend more time with Bianca but now that was a pipe dream. They weren’t going to leave them alone and she couldn’t face that every day. She stopped and looked at herself in the dresser mirror.

“Why can’t I do anything right anymore?” she asked her reflection. She dropped her gaze and her eyes landed on a little red velvet box. She squinted at it stepping closer and reaching out for folded paper beneath it with her name written in beautiful flowing script. She set the box aside gently and picked up the note not wanting to see what it held inside until she read the words that went with it.

Maggie,

I know you probably don’t want to hear anything I have to say right now but please don’t throw this away until you’ve read it. I’m so sorry about tonight I should have known this would happen. I forget about the expectations and that the sometimes judgmental eyes of the world are on me and now I’ve dragged you into something you shouldn’t have to deal with. But that’s what happens when I’m with you, I forget. You make me feel like I’ve never felt in my life, like any other normal girl and for that alone I love you. But it isn’t just that, you make me laugh and you make me think and you make me feel something I didn’t think I could. Until you came along I thought I was broken, that I didn’t possess the ability to love. That all-consuming I can’t live without you love. The kind where I can’t remember what my life was like before you and I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I love you Mary Margaret Stone, you have my heart and I’ll wait for you.

Yours for eternity,

Bianca

Maggie watched her hand move as if it were in slow motion, achingly slow until she felt the soft fabric beneath her fingers, until she felt that it was real and she wasn’t imagining it, until she knew that her heart had belonged to Bianca the very first second she had laid eyes on her. She wrapped her small hand around it and brought it closer, gently lifting the lid until it snapped open. She caressed the heart as if it were the most precious thing in the world, Bianca’s heart.

Chapter Text

“Hello to all of you listeners on this rainy afternoon I hope you’re all staying dry because it is pouring out there. I’m telling you if it keeps going we might all be paddling home. Anyway I have the perfect song for all this unpleasantness and I don’t just mean the rain here’s Etta James with Stormy Weather…”

 

Don’t know why

There’s no sun up in the sky

Stormy weather

Since my man and I ain’t together

Keeps raining all of the time

 

Oh yeah, life is bare

Gloom and misery everywhere

Stormy weather, stormy weather

And I just can’t get my poor self together

Oh, I’m weary all of the time

So weary all of the time

 

Maggie listened to the rain as the wind whipped it against the roll up doors. No matter how much time had passed storms always brought back the nightmare she had barely survived. She remembered every punch, every kick, every push that caused blood to seep and bones to break and without Bianca to chase him away the memories flooded her mind. She turned away closing her eyes trying to stop the onslaught but it was pointless. Now it was only a matter of time before he came back for her the tabloids had made sure of that. He was out there somewhere and he would come but not just for her he would come for Bianca too and the only way she could think of to keep her safe was to cut off contact. It hurt, every second she couldn’t see or talk to her was killing her and the only thing she wanted was the one thing she couldn’t have.

*

*

*

 

When he went away

The blues walked in and met me

Oh yeah, if he stays away

Old rockin’ chair is gonna get me

All I do is pray, the Lord will let me

Walk in the sun once more

 

Bianca stared through the sliding door into the whitewash that was Kendall’s backyard. Everything had been going so well and then the press turned up, Maggie ran off and now it was almost like there was a complete breakdown in communication. The world had gone silent and nobody was letting her in on whatever the plan was. She had wanted to call Maggie a million times in the last two days but she wouldn’t push she would let her figure this all out in her own way and her own time.

“Hey Binks.” Kendall came into the kitchen. “Jamie said he tried to call you but you must not have heard your phone.”

She turned quickly with hope shining in her eyes. “Did he say anything about Maggie?”

“No, sorry.” She said hating to stomp on her sister’s hope. “He just wanted to tell you that your car is ready and you can pick it up anytime.”

“Oh.” She turned back to the rain. “That’s probably a good thing I think it’s time for me to go home and try to get back into something resembling real life.”

“Come on Binks give her some time I know you remember what it was like the first time you made headlines.” She rubbed her back in an attempt to soothe her.

“Yeah and do you remember I didn’t come out of my room for a month? No matter what I’m eventually going to have to go home I just don’t want to leave things the way they are. I need to talk to her face to face, I need for her to tell me whether there’s still a chance for us.”

“Well you have to go to the garage to pick up your car and she does happen to own the place.”

“I’m not sure forcing the conversation on her is the best idea she’ll just close herself off even more than she already has.”

“Either way you have to go so grab an umbrella I’ll drop you off on my way to work.”

*

*

*

“Hey Mags we got a call.” He moved around the cluttered shop to meet her. “Some guy is stuck out on Old River Road. I bet he thought the water wasn’t that deep and tried to make it through I’ll probably have to pull him so I’ll be gone a while.”

“Okay.” Her voice was flat.

“Are you good here by yourself?” he tried to catch her eyes.

“Yeah I’m fine go.” She turned away unable to meet his eyes.

“Call me if something comes up, you will call me right?” He knew she wouldn’t. She was shutting down again and this time there was a real chance she wouldn’t come back.

“Of course. You can count on good old Maggie to always need you to come running to her rescue because she can’t do anything right.”

“Maggie don’t-” He stepped towards her.

“Go Jamie I’ll be fine that poor guy is probably up to his neck by now.”

“Okay I’ll try to get back as soon as I can and if you want we can talk.”

“Yeah when you get back we’ll talk.”

She watched him walk out throwing a concerned glance over his shoulder just before he disappeared through the office door. He had only been gone ten minutes when she heard the outer door open with a bang and she nearly jumped out of her skin clutching tightly to the hammer in her hand.

“Who’s there?!” she held the hammer ready to swing.

“Hey.” She poked her head around. “It’s just me Jamie called and said my car was ready.”

“Oh, hi.” She dropped the hammer to her side. “Yeah we finished it last night.”

“That’s good.” She nodded awkwardly. “So uh…how have you been?” she stepped into the bay.

“Okay.” She shrugged turning her back. “You?”

“Not so okay I’ve wanted to call you…” she let it hang.

“Me too.” She said quietly. “I saw the picture that Joni put in the paper. Is that….” She looked up to lock eyes with the girl who was trying so hard to protect her. “Is that why you hit her?”

“You saw the video didn’t you?” She placed her bag on the trunk of her car and took a step closer. “I know I should have handled that better but when I saw her I just…I wish I could say I was sorry I did it but I’m not and I would do it again. You aren’t upset with me are you?”

“You did it to protect me how could I be mad at you for that. I think Frankie and Jamie might be a little upset though.” She gave a half-hearted smirk. “You didn’t invite them along.”

“Gee where are my manners.” She chuckled but sobered quickly. “I’ll do anything I have to to protect you Maggie. Anything.” She looked at her with all the love she had in her heart for the tiny blonde. “Even if that means letting the world think I’ve gone off the deep end and lost all my marbles.”

Maggie believed her. She believed Bianca really would do anything to keep her safe and that frightened her because she knew that would mean she would try to protect her from Jonathan. “When all of those reporters started yelling questions…I don’t want you to think I ran away because I’m ashamed of people knowing we’re…” she shook her head. “I ran because now, now he’ll know.”

“Jonathan. Maggie I didn’t think god I’m such an idiot.”

“You can’t protect me from him no one can he’s too strong and he’ll hurt you.”

“I won’t let him keep doing this to you. I won’t let him loom over your life and breathe down your neck for the rest of your life. I’ll be damned if I let him take one more second of happiness from you. I promise that as long as I’m breathing Maggie I won’t ever let him hurt you again.”

“Well now” he stepped in through the back door brushing the water out of his hair. “That’s a pretty big promise from an awfully tiny girl. Would you care to see if she means it Maggie?” He turned his gaze to her.

“Jonathan.” Maggie’s heart thudded painfully in her chest as she reached out for Bianca. It felt like all of the air had been sucked violently from her lungs and she was gasping so hard her vision started to gray out. “I can’t…” she tried to pull in a breath.

“It’s nice to know I still take your breath away.” He shook the rain from his jacket. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your new friend?” the last word was a low growl.

“No.” she said meekly shaking her head. “No.”

“I see you still haven’t learned that particular lesson. Don’t you remember what happens when you tell me no?” he stalked slowly around the shop.

Bianca watched him as she felt nails digging into her arm. “Get out.” She turned making sure to keep herself between Maggie and her tormentor.

“You know” he said picking up a crowbar and inspecting it. “I didn’t really expect you to move on, I mean who would want you? But this” he gestured between the two girls “this is just so…perverted. Really Maggie, getting it on with another woman?” He tsked shaking his head.

His arm jerked suddenly and the crowbar went whipping across the shop. It clanged off the wall behind them and Maggie yelped clinging tighter to Bianca.

“You don’t scare me.” She looked him right in the eyes.

“Don’t I?” He moved around to stand in front of her, using his size to intimidate her. “Think you can stop me from doing anything I damn well please?”  

“I’ll die trying.” She stated evenly never taking her eyes off of his.

“You know something, I kind of like you. You really aren’t afraid are you? You would really die for this dumb bitch.”

“Don’t you dare.” She tried to take a step towards him but Maggie’s grip only tightened urging her to stay away.

“Bianca, please, don’t.” she begged.

“I won’t let him talk about you like that Maggie, I won’t let him do anything to you ever again.”

He laughed but there was no humor in it, there was no soul in it. “Oh this is just so much fun but I think we should get down to business, Maggie I know you’re an old pro at this so I’ll start with her.” He swung his eyes to Bianca.

“You aren’t going to do anything Jamie will be back any minute.”

“Bianca?” Maggie said quietly trying to pull her away and keep some distance between them and him.

“Hope is such a terrible thing it makes you believe in things that will never happen. This isn’t the movies no one is going to show up just in the nick of time to save you. So why don’t you two say a nice goodbye to each other because pretty soon the only thing you’ll be doing is screaming for your mommy.”

“Screw you.” She spit.

“Maggie you better tell your bitch to watch what she says to me.”

“I think the only bitch in here is you.” She watched his eyes narrow and the veins in his neck start to throb. She knew she was taking a chance with their lives but either way he was right this situation was hopeless.

“Boy you got a mouth on you why don’t we see what we can do about that.” He stepped closer balling his hands.

“Bianca don’t.” Maggie begged.

“You know you’ll never get away with this my mother is Erica Kane.” She circled to put the bay doors at their back her eyes looking for anything she could use to defend them.

“Is that supposed to be some kind of threat?” He laughed like it was the funniest thing he had ever heard.

“No it’s a warning. If you hurt either one of us she’ll have everyone from the local police to the F.B.I. looking for you and they won’t stop hunting you.”

“I have to tell you sweetheart that doesn’t really scare me and as for Jamie he won’t be disturbing us. I believe you had a call, something about a car stuck on Old River Road?”

“You.” Maggie breathed with wide eyes.

“That’s right sweetie so you see no one is coming to your rescue so I suggest you just give up any hope you might have of getting out of this. Now what was I saying? Oh that’s right I was going to start with you” he looked at Bianca “how about an introductory lesson in how to keep your hands to yourself. I think I’ll start with the right hand we’ll go one finger at a time nice and slow. I can’t wait to hear you scream.”

He looked at Bianca who didn’t so much as flinch. Maybe his first assessment had been wrong, maybe she wasn’t a screamer, oh no this one was a fighter and they were always so much more fun to break.

Bianca moved putting the rolling tool cart between them and him. “What are you gonna do huh? Are you gonna prove what a big man you are and hit two defenseless women? Does that make you feel all big and bad? Tell me Jonathan what shortcomings are you trying to make up for?”

“You fucking bitch you don’t talk to me like that.”

“Bianca don’t make him angry.” Maggie whispered trying to pull them further from Jonathan’s looming figure.

She ignored Maggie’s words and stared him down. “I’ll talk to you any way I please and there’s not a damn thing you can do to stop me. You think you scare me? You think you can come here and insult me and threaten me and what, I’ll cower in fear because you think you’re such a badass? Well I have news for you, you aren’t a badass what you are is a sad, pathetic little man who probably has daddy issues and the only way he can feel like a real man is to beat on people smaller than him.”

Maggie watched the muscles in his jaw clench and his hands curl into fists. “Bianca.” Her voice shook. She didn’t know why Bianca was provoking him it would only make it that much worse.

“Did your parents raise you to be an asshole or is this just something you picked up along the way?”

He bellowed lunging towards them and when he was within arm’s reach Bianca kicked out at the tool cart sending it crashing into his legs. It took him by surprise and dropped him to his knees. Bianca backed them up quickly reaching for her bag and fumbling around in it.

He watched her laughing. “I suppose you’re planning to call someone for help? By the time anyone gets here it’ll be too late.” He pushed himself to his feet. “It’ll all be so very tragic I can just see the headlines.” He limped forward. “Young love cut down too soon.”

Bianca’s hand wrapped around what she had been searching for. “What would you know about love you have to have a heart to love. What you have is a black hole where your heart should be. You don’t deserve her and she’s worth a million of you, a billion.”

“Wow she has really got you pussy whipped doesn’t she?” he shook his head kicking at the scattered tools. “Let me tell you something it’s not that good definitely not worth dying for and she’ll just whore herself out when she gets bored. Did she tell you how she was screwing Jamie while we were together?” he cocked his head to look at Maggie.

“That was you who was screwing around.” She shot back her eyes widening in surprise at the words.

“Oh I see you found a little bit of backbone bravo for you.” He clapped slowly. “Now that you’ve found your voice is there anything else you would like to say to me while you have your little protector here?”

She shook her head.

“Come now I know you must be dying to say something. Or maybe you would just like me to finish what I started so long ago?”

“You touch her-”

“And you’ll what?” he sneered at her. “You might be able to take out that blonde bimbo and that scrawny rat faced reporter but I don’t think you’re much of a match for me. I can snap you like a twig without even trying little girl.”

“You can try.” She challenged him.

“That’s it I’ve really had enough of this.” He reached out with lightning speed grabbing hold of her arm and dragging her to him.

Bianca threw her hand up releasing half the bottle of pepper spray right in his eyes. He yelled out in surprise and pain releasing her and quickly wiping at his eyes.

“Maggie run!” She spun pushing her towards the office door.

“You’ll pay for that bitch.” He ground out lunging for her blurry form and just catching her shirt. He jerked her back forcefully wrapping his arms around her and picking her up off the floor.

“Bianca!” She reached out to grab her. “Let her go!”

“She brought this on herself.” He threw her like a rag doll and watched her skid and roll along the concrete floor. “She’ll pay for that one.” He stood over the brunette and looked over his shoulder at Maggie before drawing his leg back and kicking.

She screamed and somewhere beyond her own voice she could hear Maggie’s scream mixing with hers. Maggie, he was going to hurt Maggie and any amount of pain she was suffering right now would be nothing compared to what it would feel like to see Maggie in pain.

His lips pulled back into a menacing smile and he turned stalking back towards Maggie. “See now we’re having fun.” He yelled throwing his hands up into the air. “You know I had a lot of time to think while I was being ‘rehabilitated’ and I came up with some new things I’d like to try. The standard lessons I was using didn’t seem to get through that thick head of yours so we’ll see how these work out.”

He pulled her to his chest and stroked her hair. “You know this could have all been avoided had you just obeyed me. Everything I did was for your own good but you just couldn’t see that.”

“Please let me go.” Her voice was pleading, childlike.

“I’m afraid I can-”

“Let her go or I swear to God I will end you.” She stood clutching at her side.

“Well now aren’t we the brave little soldier.” He turned back to face a wheezing Bianca. “Gee that looks kind of painful, having some trouble breathing?”

“Maggie run.” Bianca’s eyes burrowed into hers.

“Bianca.” She flicked terrified eyes between her and Jonathan. “I’m not leaving you.”

“Go Maggie please.” She listed to her right falling among the scattered parts and tools from the overturned cart.

“You really love her don’t you? Well let me tell you she isn’t worth it.”

“I told you I would die for her.” She tried to stand but she was almost positive that at least one of her ribs was broken.

He wheeled around to face Maggie. “Are you going to let her? Are you going to stand there and watch me hurt your precious Bianca? How much do you love her? If I told you I would leave her alone if you came with me would you? Would you sacrifice yourself for her?” He held his hand out to her.

Maggie watched Bianca struggle to stand. “Yes.” She whispered. “I would.”

“Maggie, no.” she croaked.

“It’s okay Bianca.” She locked her eyes on the brunette’s. “You promised to protect me and you have but I can’t let him hurt you. Tell Frankie and Jamie that I love them.”

“That’s my girl.” He smiled. “We can pick up where we left off.” He wrapped his arms around her possessively not looking at the brunette on the floor behind him. “Say goodbye Bianca it’s the last time you’ll ever see Maggie.”

Her jaw hardened and her eyes went cold. “You aren’t going anywhere with her.”

“Damn you’re stubborn just say goodbye.”

“Goodbye…Jonathan.” She whispered from behind him.

“Boy you sure don’t-”

He turned and Bianca swung the large wrench upwards connecting solidly with his head. He crumpled to the floor and she dropped the wrench with a loud clang staring at his still form.

“Out. Now.” Bianca ground through clenched teeth.

Maggie’s shocked eyes stared at Bianca as she wobbled on unsteady legs. She reached out taking hold of Bianca and helped her towards the office but just feet from the exit Bianca felt a hand grab onto her shirt, pull her back roughly and whip her around. The last thing she saw before her world blurred and went dark was the back end of her own car rushing at her.

“She’s got balls.” he ground out holding his bleeding head. “I’ll give her that.”

Maggie wanted to go to her but he was standing between them and all she could do was watch as the blood seeped from a gash on her head. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.” She whispered staring at the still form on the dirty floor.

“And how” he stood to his full height “was it supposed to happen Maggie? Did you think the two of you would just ride off into the sunset on a rainbow horse? Hmm? Did you picture a little house with a white picket fence and kids playing in the front yard? Did you really think you were worthy of that?” he stepped closer. “Come on now, you know you aren’t good enough, you don’t deserve that.”

“Yes, I do.” She looked up at him with tears streaking down her face. “I do deserve that.” Her voice grew just a little louder.

“Aww did the little lesbo instill some self confidence in you? Tell you how great you are and how much she loves you?”

Maggie shook her head imperceptibly.

“She hasn’t said those three little magical words? Did it ever occur to you that she’s just trying to get into your pants?” he moved closer to her.

Her eyes flicked from Bianca to Jonathan and she straightened to her full height. “She didn’t have to, I know she loves me…and I love her.” Her voice grew stronger with each word. “She was right you’re just a sad pathetic man with a black soul and you don’t have the first clue what love really is. All you did was tear me down and beat me into submission and I let you. But you know what? You don’t have that power over me anymore I won’t let you.”

“We’ll see about that.” His arm swung up arcing back down and stopped just inches from her face when she flinched. “I’ve got all the power Maggie I always have and I always will.” He pulled his arm back again and this time didn’t stop its momentum.

She staggered backwards but stayed on her feet. “You have nothing.” She straightened back up. “All you do is make people afraid of you that isn’t power that’s cowardice. Real power comes from love and that means I’m more powerful than you could ever imagine. So go ahead, scream at me, tell me how worthless I am and how useless I am because you know what I’ll never believe you.”

“You don’t really think you’re hurting my feelings do you? That’s just so cute.” He shoved her hard into the wall.

She pushed away standing in front of him. He pushed her again and again she came right back to him. “Hit me. Do it. HIT ME!” she screamed at him as tears started flowing. “Put your hands around my throat just like you did that night and squeeze the life out of me. At least I’ll die knowing that someone loved me so much that she would die for me and me for her.”

Maggie’s eyes went wide as his hands closed around her throat. She could feel the pressure as he squeezed but this time it was different this time she wasn’t going to let him hurt her. With as much force as she could she brought her knee up hard into his groin and as he stumbled backwards she brought her foot up a second time. He fell to his knees his face red eyes bulging and she reached out for the nearest object swinging it with all her might. The oil pan made a dull clang as it bounced off of his head and he fell unconscious to the floor. She watched him for a few seconds ready to swing again if he so much as twitched but there was no movement.

“Bianca.” Her eyes darted to her and she moved quickly. “Bianca get up we have to go.” She shook her gently. “Oh god Bianca wake up you have to wake up I’m tiny I can’t carry you.” She hoped maybe she could hear her and would open her eyes with a smile but she never moved. “I’m so sorry I never wanted you to get caught up in this.” She pushed the hair from her face.

She picked her eyes up noticing a small movement from Jonathan’s crumpled form. She stood running for the roll up door and yanking on the chain as fast as her arms would let her. “Come on come on.” She watched the door inch upwards casting her eyes to a now groaning Jonathan. “Jesus come on!”

“He won’t help you now.” He pushed himself up to his knees staring at her through the blood in his eyes. “No one can help you now and I’m going to make sure this is very, very painful.” He wobbled to his feet taking a few stuttering steps towards her. “Let’s play you and me.”

He lunged at her before she could react and his hands were around her throat again. She waited for his hands to tighten but he just stood there without saying a word. She saw the color drain from his face and he sucked in a lung full of air just as his jaw went slack. His hands fell from her throat and he staggered backwards turning to stare with wide eyes. It took her brain a few seconds to register what she was seeing, the same crowbar he had hurled across the bay was now sticking out of his back. He dropped to his knees and his body was no longer blocking her view. Bianca stood there blood staining her porcelain skin one arm wrapped around herself and her eyes full of unrestrained rage.

He turned his eyes up to stare at the only woman who was truly not afraid of him. “You…” he gurgled. “Bitch.” He collapsed onto his side breathing shallowly.

“I told you…” her breath rattled in her throat. “I would die for her…I would also kill…to protect her. I told you….” She heaved “I won’t let you hurt her.” She lifted her gaze. “Maggie….” Her knees buckled and she felt arms wrap around her before she could hit the floor.

“I’ve got you.” Maggie spoke quietly.

“I’ve got you too.” She tried to smile but it hurt too much. “I’m so…proud of you…Maggie. You…did it.”

“Come on we gotta get out of here.” She held onto her looking around. “Bianca I don’t think I can carry you to Jamie's truck.”

“My car.” She pointed struggling to keep her eyes open. “Spare key…in my bag.”

“Right. Good thing I can drive stick, hey did I ever tell you that I think it’s totally hot that you can drive stick.” She tried for a smirk but knew it came off as more of a grimace.

She opened the door and helped Bianca in. “I have to go finish opening the bay door I’ll be right back.”

“Okay.” She whispered.

Her eyes never left Jonathan’s still form as she cranked on the chain. Wind and rain ripped through the shop soaking her instantly and she darted back to the car as soon as the door locked in place. She slid behind the wheel and cranked the ignition backing out at breakneck speed and spinning the wheel. The car slid around and she hammered the gas the tires sliding on the wet concrete until they found purchase and they were launched through the lot into the road.

“Maggie…did I kill him?” she felt hot tears start to fall.

“I don’t know honey but I’m pretty sure he won’t be getting up anytime soon.” She glanced over to a pale Bianca.

“Okay. Maggie…” Her head fell to look at the blonde beside her.

“Yeah?”

“I do you know.”

“Do what?” She shifted gear.

“Love you.” She whispered before her world went dark again.

Chapter Text

“Any word from your guy about Jonathan?” Frankie spun in her chair to face the curly headed woman. “With all those damn roaches crawling around plastering this all over the country it’s only a matter of time before he shows up.”

“I talked to him yesterday he said he was tracking down a lead.”

“Is that it? I would think he would’ve found him by now.” She slumped staring at the rain beyond the station window.

“Me too but apparently when he was released he just disappeared, poof he’s a ghost.”

“Yeah well if I see him he will be a ghost.”

*

*

*

Maggie leaned on the horn as she raced to the hospital. “Bianca, Bianca please wake up.” She pleaded as the accelerator inched closer to the floorboard. She fumbled with her phone not sure who to call first. “Who do I call? Bianca please wake up and tell me who to call.” She yelped when her phone rang and she didn’t bother to see who it was before she answered. “Hello, hello, who is this please I need help.”

“Maggie what the hell is going on? Bianca isn’t answering her phone.”

“Oh my god Kendall you have to call the police Jonathan is at the garage or he might be I’m not sure Bianca might have killed him he came after us and he hit her and she’s bleeding really bad but I’m on the way to the hospital with her right now but she’s not awake and you need to call Frankie and Jamie and let them know.”

“What?!”

“Just call the police Kendall!” She stabbed at the end button and dropped it into the console. She didn’t mean to yell but she didn’t have time to explain right that second. She yanked hard on the wheel and bounced over the sidewalk slamming to a stop at the Emergency Room entrance. “Help!” she ran around to open Bianca’s door. “Somebody help me!”

The doors slid open with a whoosh of air and people swarmed through. One of the nurses immediately recognized Maggie and went to her. “What happened?”

“Please.” She latched onto the nurse’s arm with a death grip. “You have to help her.”

Maggie watched as they pulled her limp body from the car and put her on a gurney.

“Blunt trauma to the head looks like there’s some blood loss get her inside cubicle two. Let’s go move, move, move!"

“Maggie what happened?” the nurse asked gently.

“Jonathan…he was going to…and she stopped him. She told him she would die trying to protect me. Please” she dragged her eyes away from the door and her voice broke “please, you have to save her, I can’t lose her now I just found her.”

*

*

*

“Can’t you drive any faster?!” Kendall was trying to hold it together and doing a poor job of it.

“What do you want me to do I can’t just barrel through red lights!” Frankie yelled at her. “We’ll all be in the hospital!”

“Don’t you have some illegal cop lights you stole or something? Stick your head out the window and go woo woo woo!”

“Will you stop yelling you aren’t making this better!”

“Frankie if you don’t put your foot in the floor I’ll push you out of the car and drive myself. Now I don’t care how many traffic violations you make just get me to the damn hospital!”

Frankie flipped on the flashers leaned on the horn and put her foot in the floorboard.

*

*

*

“Maggie?” Frankie rushed into the emergency room skidding to a stop at the nurse’s station. “Hey have you seen a girl she looks exactly like me.”

“I think I saw her down the hall but….”

Frankie didn’t wait for the ‘you can’t go in there’ speech she was already gone with Kendall right on her heels. “Magpie?!” Hospital rules be damned.

“Frankie…”

She stepped around the corner and found her with her knees curled into her chest looking for all the world like a lost little girl. “Oh my god Maggie are you okay? What happened?” she dropped down in front of her and immediately found herself with Maggie wrapped tightly around her sobbing into her shoulder. “It’s okay.” She soothed as she held her close.

“Maggie.” Kendall knelt down beside them “What happened?”

She turned red rimmed eyes to Kendall. “Jonathan. Jonathan happened.”

“Maggie?!” came a shout from down the hall.

“That’s Jamie.” Frankie stood and stepped back around the corner. “Over here.”

He sprinted down the hall. “What happened all I got was a bunch of yelling and the word hospital.”

“Jonathan.” Maggie repeated. “He was at the shop and he tried…he hurt her and they wouldn’t let me go in because I’m not family.” She pointed down the hall to a set of double doors

“The hell you aren’t.” Kendall snapped and strode towards the nurses station at the end of the hall.

“Come on.” Jamie helped Maggie up and they followed Kendall.

“Where’s my sister?” Kendall demanded.

“What’s her name?” the nurse sat with her fingers poised over the keyboard.

“Bianca Montgomery, she was brought in about fifteen minutes ago.”

She typed the name in. “She’s being examined right now if you’d like there’s a waiting room through the doors down the hall take a left.” She looked up “But only family is allowed.”

“They’re her family too.”

The nurse buzzed the door open and they hurried through. They slowed when they reached the room and Kendall took Maggie’s hand as they pushed the door open and stepped inside. The only sound was the steady beep, beep, beep of the heart monitor.

“Are you relatives?” The tall, graying man asked without looking up.

“I’m her sister and this…” she looked over at a distraught Maggie “this is her girlfriend. Is she okay?” she stepped closer.

He picked his head up the surprise registering in his eyes. “She’s a very lucky girl it looks much worse than it actually is. She has a deep laceration above her left eye and there was some blood loss and I'm afraid she may end up with a small scar."

Maggie's hand instinctively went to her eyebrow where she could feel her own scar. "What else?" she whispered never taking her eyes off of the brunette. 

"Two fractured ribs, they'll take some time to heal and there will be some lingering pain but she should be just fine. She’ll be out for a few hours but you’re free to stay if you’d like.” His eyes flicked to the relieved looking blonde as he came around the bed. “She’ll be fine Maggie you should have someone look at that.” He gestured to the quickly swelling bruise on her cheek.

“Thank you Doctor Scott and I’ll be fine. I survived much worse.”

“I think she’s as strong as you are.” He gave her a small smile.

“It takes a hell of a lot to keep a Kane woman down.” Kendall said blinking away tears as she stared at her sister’s still form.

“She woke up for just a few seconds and all she wanted to know was if you were okay. That’s a pretty incredible girlfriend you have there Maggie.” He squeezed her shoulder gently.

“You have no idea.” She breathed.

“If you’d like I can pull some strings the nurses will look the other way if you want to stay with her tonight.”

“Yes, thank you so much.”

“Of course.” He smiled again and exited the room.

“You know him?” Kendall asked.

“Yeah, he was my doctor when…”

Kendall squeezed her hand and they moved to stand beside the bed. “Oh Binks.” She took a delicate hand in her own and leaned over “You really are the most amazing person and I’m the proudest big sister who ever lived.” She placed a kiss on the bandage wrapped around her head. “I think you should stay with her I’ll let Frankie and Jamie know she’s going to be okay.”

“No, Kendall you’re her sister.”

“And you’re the woman she loves. You know the first thing she’ll want to know is if you’re okay and I think when she wakes up your face should be the first one she sees.”

*

*

*

“Did they get him?” Kendall asked when Jamie hung up the phone.

“Yeah he was right where Maggie said he was bleeding all over the shop floor. I always knew Bianca was strong but she’s seriously like Wonder Woman Jonathan is a big guy and she took him down.”

“I always knew she was. Did they say where he is now?”

“The cops brought him here.”

“He’s here?!” she screeched. “How the hell could they put him in the same hospital with the two people he just tried to kill?!”

“Kendall…” he put his hands on her shoulders. “He’s under guard and this time he won’t get out of it he’s done.”

“Yeah well I hope some big burly bald guy makes him his bitch.” She mumbled.

“There’s my girl.” He chuckled wrapping his arms around her. “It’s all over now they can get they’re happily ever after and that’s the greatest thing ever.”

“It is isn’t it?” she smiled against his chest. “My sister finally gets the girl.”

*

*

*

“Mmmmm.” She took a deep breath. “Oh my god my head is killing me.” She croaked.

“Bianca?” Maggie picked her head up from the bed.

“Maggie?” she peeled an eye open. “Hey you.” She smiled. “Wait, is Frankie with you because I’m seeing two of you.”

Maggie chuckled. “No it’s just me. How do you feel?”

“Like someone used my head as a piñata. Ohhh they didn’t have to shave my head did they? I don’t think I’d look good bald.”

Now she just outright laughed. “Baby I think you’d look good with a hot pink Mohawk.”

“Ow don’t make me laugh.” She smiled and held her side.

“Does it hurt I can get the doctor.” She went to stand up.

“No.” she pulled her back down into the chair. “I’m fine or at least I will be. Oh Maggie.” She looked at her with concerned eyes and reached out to cup her bruised cheek.

“I’m fine.” She reassured her taking her hand and holding it between her own. “You saved me. You did exactly what you promised you would do you protected me.”

“And I will for the rest of my life.” She yawned. “What do they have me hooked up to sleeping potion?”

“I think some pretty good pain killers. You should try to sleep.” She pulled the blanket up to cover her.

“Will you be here when I wake up?”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“Okay good.” She closed her eyes. “Love you.” She whispered before drifting off.

“I love you too.” She placed a soft kiss to the bandage on Bianca’s forehead. "I love you so much." She breathed as tears fell silently on the blanket. 

When her eyes opened again the lights in the room were dim and it was dark beyond the window. She turned her head and saw Maggie curled up in the chair sleeping in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. She smiled at the small blonde, her heart, and closed her eyes again and was quickly consumed by sleep.

*

*

*

Maggie’s eye’s opened slowly and she blinked a few times before remembering where she was and how they had gotten there. She sat for a second to watch Bianca as she slept then turned her eye’s upward mouthing a silent thank you to the universe.  

“Great minds think alike huh?” Kendall said quietly from the other corner of the room. “I’ve been doing the same thing all morning.”

“Hey.” She smiled. “What time is it?”

“Almost eight suns up.” She pointed out the window behind Maggie. “If you want to stretch your legs or get something to eat I’ll stay with her.”

Maggie hesitated turning her eyes back to Bianca. “I don’t…I can’t…”

“It’s okay I promise I won’t leave her and I won’t let anything happen to her. If anyone tries they’ll have to get through the other two body guards in the hall first.”

“How long have you all been here?”

“We never left.” She stood moving to sit next to the bed. “We just looked at each other and knew none of us were leaving. Doctor Scott pulled more strings and had some chairs brought over. It’s a good thing he understood because let me tell you the only way I was leaving here was kicking and screaming and wearing some shiny silver bracelets.” She smiled at Maggie’s chuckle.

“She’s really lucky to have you.”

“Nope I’m lucky to have her.”

“Me too.” She said quietly. “I’m gonna go get some air.” She moved to the bed placing a kiss on Bianca’s forehead. “I love you.”

Kendall smiled at her reaching out to squeeze her hand as she passed by. “She’s lucky to have you too and if she were awake she would tell you that herself.”

“Thanks Kendall.”

When she stepped out she found Jamie asleep in his chair with his mouth hanging open. “Yep lucky to have you too.”

He bolted upright in his chair his eyes bouncing around. “What who where?”

“Spaz.” She laughed shaking her head.

“Oh hey Mags.” He brushed his hand through his hair. “I was just uh…”

“Drooling a moat to keep people away?” she smirked and sat beside him. “Thanks for keeping guard.”

“No problem.” He shrugged. “How is she?”

“I think she's okay she's still sleeping. The doc said she would be in some pain but she'll be fine.”

“How about you, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay too.” She paused looking at the closed door. “Actually I’m better than I have been in a long time which sounds crazy considering how close I came to dying…again.”

“It doesn’t sound crazy to me.” He put his arm around her pulling her close. “It’s over Mags he’s gone for good. You get your life back and you get to be with her.” He nodded at the door. “That’s the best damn reason to feel better I’ve ever heard.”

“I really think everything is going to be okay now.”

“I know it is and I think the first thing we should do-” he stopped swiveling his head at the sound of sneakers squeaking rapidly down the hall.

“What?” Maggie turned her head to follow his stare.

Frankie came around the corner sprinting as fast as her legs would carry her and squeaked to a stop. “She’s….here….there…” She pointed behind her. “She’s coming…holy crap…” she heaved doubling over with her hands on her knees.

“Uh who?” Maggie lowered her brows.

“Erica...Kane.” She straightened trying to catch her breath. “I just saw her marching down the hall hair flying behind her and her heels doing that click clack click clack thing. I have to tell you that sound is much more terrifying than you would think.”

“And you were running to tell us this why? Is she armed and dangerous?” Maggie laughed at her harried sister but sobered quickly at the sound of a woman’s voice carrying down the halls.

“What are you doing? Why aren’t you guarding my daughter? Do you know what she’s just been through and you’re here chatting up the nurses is this what you get paid for?”

“Oh boy.” Jamie muttered as they watched an officer run-jog down the hall towards them. “You might want to brace yourself there’s going to be a lot of hand waving and hair tossing.”

“Uh right…okay.” She bobbed her head. “Right I’ll just…” she pointed and quick stepped through the door.

Kendall was already on her feet. “Did I just hear…?”

She bobbed her head again. “I think she scared the cop he looked like he had just run into an angry yeti.”

“Yeah that’s her.”

“What do I do?”

“Stand your ground and don’t show fear she can smell it.”

“Great got any perfume? Like maybe a couple dozen gallons?”

“Relax she isn’t going to blame you for any of this.”

“Oh really because it’s my psycho ex who did this how could she not blame me? Maybe I should go we can do the whole meet and greet thing when she isn’t doing her best impression of a fire breathing dragon.”

“Sit.” She pointed to the chair by the bed.

“Hey what’s going on?” Bianca asked opening her eyes.

“Moms here. Maggie go sit next to your girlfriend I’ll take care of this.” She stepped out into the hall leaving them alone.

“Hey you.” Bianca smiled at her. “Did you get any sleep?”

“A little.” She shrugged. “How do you feel? Do you need anything? Another blanket, some water an extra pillow?”

“Actually what I need is for you to kiss me good morning.” She smiled shyly.

“Oh well that I can definitely do.” She leaned forward pressing her lips gently against Bianca’s. “Good morning.” She smiled.

“Mmmm best morning ever.” She breathed with her eyes still closed.

Erica cleared her throat from the doorway and over her shoulder Kendall was smiling grandly.

“Hi mom come in I want you to meet Maggie.” She looked up at her and smiled. "My girlfriend."

Maggie stood to her full height which was still two inches shorter than Erica in her heels.

“Mom this is Maggie, Maggie this is my mom.” 

“Hi Ms. Kane it’s nice to meet you.” She stepped around the bed and held her hand out.

“So this is her?” Erica asked no one in particular.

Maggie’s hand dropped and so did her face. “Ms. Kane-” she started but was cut off by Erica’s hand.

“Maggie please don’t.” she shook her head. “I've been filled in on everything that's been happening." She moved to the bed taking Bianca's hand. "I know what you’ve been through, what both of you have been through you don’t have to pretend everything is okay just because I'm here.” She let go of Bianca's hand and wrapped her arms around a surprised Maggie. “The two of you are just so incredibly brave.”

Kendall’s smile grew even wider and she mouthed an I told you so to Maggie. “I called her last night after I knew you would be okay and told her the actual truth.”

“I can’t believe that…that vile man was ever let out. They should have buried him under the prison and if I have anything to do with it I’ll make sure that’s exactly where he ends up.”

“Mom.” Kendall said in her most calming voice.

“Right let’s not worry about that right now. The first thing we need to do is-” Now she was cut off by the sound of voices in the hallway.

“Oh hell no.” Kendall whirled but Maggie was already in front of her yanking the door open.

“You bitch.” She spit and swung at the unsuspecting blonde.

Joni's head snapped back and when she righted herself she stared at Maggie in shock. "You hit me. I can't believe you hit me." She cradled her eye.

“Get out.” She ground through clenched teeth. “Get out now and I don’t mean out of the hospital I mean out of town. Pack your shit and leave because if I ever see you again I swear to god I will break every single bone in your body wait for them to heal and break them all again.”

“What the hell is wrong with all of you people?” Her eyes bounced around the faces watching silently. “Aren’t you going to do something?” She stared at the officer.

He shrugged. “About what I didn’t see anything.”

“Oh you can’t be serious why does everyone treat her like she’s the golden girl? I am so tired of everyone thinking you're little miss perfect and can do no wrong. I mean you've managed to screw up how many lives with this insane situation you created and yet I'm the one who keeps getting hit?!"”

“You…you….I….” Maggie's face turned red as she stuttered through her anger. “I can’t even…you did this! You did all of this! You publicly humiliated me with those pictures because you’re a petty, spiteful bitch. You just couldn’t wait to show everyone what he did to me and for what? What did I ever do to you that would make you want to hurt me like that? You embarrassed me you made me feel ashamed and I cut everyone out of my life because of it. And as if that wasn’t enough you go and do this?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think maybe you should talk to someone because I think you may need professional help. You're blaming me for something you caused I think you should probably be heavily medicated.”

“Does it even register in your tiny little self-involved brain that you’ve done actual harm here? My girlfriend is lying in a hospital bed with two fractured ribs and stitches because you’re a jealous shithole of a human being! You don’t think about anybody but yourself and if someone dies then what, oh well? If she would’ve…if she…what Jonathan did to me wouldn’t compare to what I would’ve done to you.”

“Oh and you better believe that goes double for me.” Kendall said.

“Ladies.” Erica stepped from the room. “Is there a problem?”

“No Joni was just leaving weren’t you Joni.” Frankie glared at her.

“Actually I was being physically and verbally assaulted for no reason at all.” She prodded her swelling eye.

“No reason…why you little…” Frankie lunged but Jamie’s hands kept her from putting her own around Joni’s neck.

"Do you see what I mean?" she threw her arms out wide. "The whole group of you have lost your minds."

"Ah screw it." Jamie let Frankie go.

"My turn." she swung catching Joni in the other eye. "That's for what you did to Maggie." She swung again. "And that's for Bianca. And the next time you get the urge to hurt one of them I won't stop until my arms fall off then I'll start kicking."

"And when she's done you get to deal with me." Kendall leveled a glare at her. "And I fight dirty."

“Ladies please let me. Joni is it?” Erica turned her eyes. “Yes I recognize your name from the papers and Kendall has told me all about you. I think we should take a walk and we can discuss this situation somewhere more appropriate. We are after all in a hospital and I think the patients have been put through quite enough already. Please, won’t you come with me.” She indicated for Joni to precede her.

The small group watched them until they disappeared around the corner.

“Hello what’s going on out there? If someone doesn’t come in here and tell me I’m going out there.”

“Your girlfriend just gave Voldemort a black eye to go with her grapefruit size nose.” Kendall laughed. “And then your future sister-in-law got in a few licks. Is it wrong that I get a weird thrill out of watching her get hit in the face?”

“We could make a game out of it punch-a-bitch, you know kind of like whack-a-mole only more fun!” Frankie said. “Come on James maybe if we hurry we can listen in on the threat fest.” She pulled him down the hall.

“Wait up I’m not missing this.” Kendall hurried after them. "I have a feeling she's going to get hit in the face some more." She chirped gleefully.

Maggie shook her head walking back into the room. “What do you think your mom is going to do?”

“Knowing her I think there’s a trip to Siberia in Joni’s future…in the cargo hold…of a rickety plane.”

“I’ll send her a farewell basket…of dog crap…on fire.”

Bianca laughed. “Ow, ow, ow.” She held her side.

“Oh sorry I forgot.” She went to her. “I’ll try not to make you laugh until you’re better.”

“Don’t you dare stop they say laughter is the best medicine. With you around I’ll be back on my feet by tomorrow. Now come here and kiss me before they all come back.”

“Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life, you ordering me to kiss you?” she gave her a lopsided grin.

“Will that be a problem?”

“Can I think about it?” She laughed at Bianca’s pout and leaned in. “You don’t have to worry about that because I want to kiss you every second of every day.”

“Sweet talker.”

“Mmm hmm.” She hummed capturing Bianca’s lips. “I can’t wait until you’re all better and we can do this properly.”

“Oh look at that I think I’m all better your lips must be magic.”

“I think we must both be magic because I’m all better too.” She smiled softly.

“Have you ever loved someone so much that no matter how hard you tried you couldn’t come up with the words to express it? It’s like all you want is to consume and be consumed by that person and…all you want is to wrap yourself around them and stay there forever.”

Maggie thought about their first kiss on the island not that long ago and smiled. “Yeah I’ve loved someone exactly like that and if it’s okay with her I’d like to crawl into the bed and wrap myself around her.”

“I think she would love that.” She whispered.

Maggie climbed into the bed carefully molding her body to the brunette’s and resting her head on Bianca’s shoulder. “We fit together perfectly.”

“Perfect.” She closed her eyes with a sigh. “I'm never leaving you.” She mumbled as she drifted off.

“And I’m never letting go.” She snuggled closer and drifted off with her.

Chapter Text

“Okay Ms. Stafford I’ve heard one side of the story would you care to fill me in on yours?”

“Ms. Kane I don’t know what you’ve been told but I can assure that there must have been some sort of miscommunication along the line.”

“Yes, I’m sure.” She bobbed her head watching her with a shrewd look. “Things like that tend to happen. After many years I’ve come to realize that there are always more than two sides to a story. People feed into each other until the facts become so distorted that no one is sure what the truth is anymore.”

“Exactly.” She knew Erica Kane was a smart woman and would see through Maggie like she had. “Honestly I’m not sure why Maggie and Frankie dislike me so much. I've never done anything to warrant such feelings.”

“Do you believe they could perhaps be jealous of you?”

"It's possible. They didn't have very much growing up and well, we can't help the families we're born into. Some of us just get lucky I suppose."

"Yes and it's a pity when others want to take what we have. It's quite sad don't you think?"

“Oh yes ma'am I do.” She nodded enthusiastically thrilled to have the great Erica Kane on her side. "I noticed it almost immediately." Joni stepped closer. “From the moment your daughter arrived they became inseparable." She lowered her voice to a whisper. “And I think they may have been planning this since news of Bianca’s terrible heartbreak. They must have known it was only a matter of time before she would come to see Kendall.”

Erica lowered her voice to match Joni’s. “Do you believe this is some kind of scam?” She watched her closely. She knew all it would take was some gentle coaxing to get Joni to show herself for the snake she was.

“Just between me and you I would watch out for Maggie Stone. I don't know what kind of ideas they put into her head but Bianca seems like a very sweet and trusting person and they used that to their advantage. I think Maggie is just playing the sympathy card and using poor Bianca to get something.”

“Oh is that so? What exactly do you think she’s after?”

“Well I happen to know that she and Jamie have been talking about opening some kind of business but neither of them have the money. I think she may be using Bianca to get it.”

“Really, I was unaware of this.” Erica lowered her eyes as if in thought then turned. “Jamie could you come out here please.” She waited then called again. “Mr. Martin I know you’re there get out here right this instant.”

Jamie reluctantly stepped out of his hiding spot bringing the other two in tow. “Yes ma’am?” He kept his eyes on his shoes. Erica still scared him sometimes, like now.

“Ms. Stafford has just informed me that you and Maggie have plans to open some sort of business.”

“Yes ma’am, a custom hot rod shop.”

“She has also told me that you don’t have the money and that perhaps Maggie is using Bianca as a means to an end.”

“She what?” His head popped up and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Erica I promise you it’s not like that at all.”

She held a hand up. “Jamie I’ve known you for nearly your entire life and I know what kind of people you surround yourself with.”

Joni was smiling like she had just hammered the final nail into the coffin.

“Ms. Kane my sister would never do something like that Joni is just a…just a…” she struggled to call her something she hadn’t already been called.

“A worthless sack of shit?” Kendall tried to help.

“Kendall please you're an adult and should be above name calling.” She tried to hide her smile and addressed Jamie. “Just so I’m prepared for the inevitable how much is the going price for such a venture?”

“I…really don’t know." He shuffled his feet. "We did some math and we figure to rent a small building and buy all the tools and supplies we would need to get started probably close to seventy thousand. I was thinking about getting a loan from the bank and Frankie said she would put her house up as collateral.”

“I see.” Erica nodded and spoke to Frankie. “Kendall has told me a great deal about you and Maggie and now that I’ve witnessed for myself what you’re both capable of I feel this is only right.”

Joni raised her eyebrows waiting for Erica to rip them a new one for trying to swindle her family.

“Jamie, I don’t know Maggie so I’m going to put my trust in you to handle this the right way. If Ms. Stone brings up the subject of money I would very much like for you to inform her that I'm aware of her plan and not to bother.”

“But Erica-” he tried.

“No Jamie let me finish. I’m going to make sure that she gets exactly what she deserves and that sum you mentioned, well that just isn’t in the realm of possibility. I’m afraid that I just can’t let you rent some second rate building and let some slumlord gouge you on the price oh no” she waved a finger flashing a dazzling smile “what you’re going to do is find the perfect building to suit your needs. When you do that you’re going to call me and I’m going to purchase that building for you and Maggie.” 

If Jamie, Kendall and Frankie had grinned any wider their faces would have cracked open and swallowed the earth. Joni’s on the other hand had fallen so far they could probably feel the weight of it in the southern hemisphere.

“I can’t believe this, they’ve suckered Erica Kane and to think I looked up to you.” Joni’s mouth ran away from her. “Maggie is nothing but a lying, gold digging bitch and you're a fool for falling for it just like your pathetic, love starve-”

Erica whirled on her so fast that Joni never saw it coming, the patented Erica Kane slap stopped the blonde dead in the middle of her rant. “I think Ms. Stafford that you should take that as your one and only warning. You’ve been threatened once by a Kane and it seems you didn’t take her seriously, I don’t think you want to underestimate this one.”

Kendall nearly squealed with glee. “I knew there would be more face hitting.”

“I suggest that you start looking for living arrangements outside of the state or I’ll have to have another chat with your friend Trevor. You do remember Trevor don’t you? He told me quite the story and even had evidence to back up his claims. I hate to imagine what that kind of information would do to your reputation if it ever got out.”

“I’m not going to stand here and let you threaten me. If this gets out I can sue you for slander, libel, defamation of character and whatever else my lawyer can think of. Just because you think you’re above the rest of us doesn’t mean you are. You can’t do as you please and get away with it just because you’re the great Erica Kane, you aren’t any better than the rest of us and you aren’t above the law.”

“Ms. Stafford it might help you to think of yourself as a hunter and me as a lioness. You may think you have the upper hand, you may think you’re smarter and more cunning than I am but” she stepped into her personal space lowering her voice “I assure you that if you threaten my family there is not a thing in this world that will stop me from running you down. I will rip your throat out and disembowel you and I will leave your rotting carcass for the scavengers. So I would highly suggest you turn around and start running because, Ms. Stafford, I feel like my cubs are being threatened. And if I so much as smell you within three hundred miles of them I promise you I can destroy you in many, many ways, most of them legal.”

Joni looked into the eyes of the shorter woman and saw the terrifying truth in them. She had no doubt that this woman could make her disappear if she felt so inclined. She swallowed audibly and took a step back. Then another and another until she was well clear of the building and quickly making a phone call to her fiancé about a sudden whim to get on his yacht and see the world.

“Have I told you lately just how much I love you mother?” Kendall beamed at her.

“Yes well one can never hear that enough.” She smiled. “And I can see why you all enjoy hitting her that was very satisfying. Now Jamie I’ll need you and Maggie to get some information together so I can present it to my accountant.”

“Oh no Erica you don’t have to do that. Just seeing the look on her face when you offered was more than enough.”

“Jamie I’ve always considered you family and I know Bianca does as well. And now Maggie and Frankie are family and I do whatever I can to help my family. I was being sincere with the offer and I fully expect you to take me up on it and if you refuse I’ll just give Bianca the money and she can do with it as she pleases.”

“Well when you put it like that I guess I don’t really have a choice do I?” He smiled rubbing the back of his neck.

“No I’m afraid you don’t.” she laughed.

“I can’t wait to tell Maggie she's gonna be so psyched but you do know she’ll want to repay you for every cent.”

“I expect no such thing and I’ll just have to refuse.”

"She won't take no for an answer she's my sister trust me on this one." Frankie said.

“Well why don’t we just tell her that Jamie had a rich relative that croaked and left him an ass load of cash? She can’t say no to that right?” This time Kendall was sure she was being helpful.

“We can work with that.” Frankie smiled.

*

*

*

“Maggie are you sure you want to do this?”

“I’m sure.” She nodded. “I need him to see that he didn’t win. I need him to see that he didn’t break me.”

“Are you ready?” The officer asked.

She nodded again her hands shaking. She wasn’t ready but she was doing it anyway. “Okay let’s do this.” She squeezed Bianca's hand hoping some of her strength would pass into her.

“Remember I’ll be right there the whole time and stay at least three feet away from the prisoner.” He pushed the door open. “Lavery you have a visitor.”

He stepped further in with Maggie just behind him.

Jonathan sneered. “Just couldn’t stay away from me huh? Where’s that bitch that stabbed me, locked up for trying to kill me?”

“Actually.” Maggie picked her eyes up and looked right at him. “She’s waiting outside for me. They aren’t pressing charges against her, just you.”

His eyes flashed. “She F**king sticks me with a crowbar and they aren’t going to do a damn thing to her?! I want my lawyer I’m going to sue her for every god damn red cent she has!” He pulled at the cuffs keeping him confined to the bed.

“You tried to kill us she was trying to save our lives!” She waved her hands erratically as if this should be obvious to him.

“Oh that’s the story you’re telling everyone?” He pushed himself up in the bed. “How about I walked in the door and you tried to seduce me? You were distracting me so your dyke girlfriend could kill me? I was just defending my life.”

“Do you hear yourself?” Maggie squinted trying to wrap her mind around his insanity. "You're a monster."

"If you loved a monster what does that make you?" He glared at her. "Come on Maggie what does that make you? Answer me!" He bellowed.

"Nothing." she cocked her head. "I didn’t love you, I never loved you. You used fear to keep me from leaving, you threatened my friends and my family and I believed you would do it.” She was possessed with something she had never thought she would be where Jonathan was concerned. Courage. “There was a time when all you had to do was breath and I would cower in fear.” She stepped closer. “Not anymore. I’m taking back everything you took from me, I'm taking back the life you stole from me and you will never have it again.”

"You just don't get it. You had to be taught how to obey and respect me. I saw what was happening out there and I wasn't going to be one of those pathetic men that just sat there and took the shit their girlfriend gave them. I did it because you were just like those women and you had to learn."

“You did it because it was fun for you. You got some sick thrill out of throwing me around, making me bleed and breaking my bones. You did it because you’re a twisted, F**ked up human being and you know what? I pity you. You’ll always be exactly what you are and this will eat at you for the rest of your life. You'll be in that tiny cell obsessing over me, where am I, what am I doing and who am I doing it with and it will consume you. But me?” she jabbed a finger in her chest. “The second they lock you behind bars you won’t even be a memory to me you’ll be gone just like that.” She snapped her fingers. “It’ll be like you never even existed.”

“You won’t ever forget me Maggie I made sure of that." He sneered at her flicking his eyes to the scar above her eye. "I'm branded on your skin and every time you look in a mirror you'll see me.”

“You’re wrong Jonathan.” She shook her head smiling at him. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life loving the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. She showed me what real love is, she showed me how big and powerful it is and she was right. You don’t have a heart it’s just a black pit of hate and you’re going to drown in it and the sad thing is, is that you don’t have anyone to save you like she saved me.”

“And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.” Bianca said quietly from the doorway. “Come on we have a great big love filled life to get on with and I don't want us to waste any of it on him.” She held her hand out for Maggie.

Maggie smiled at her turning her eyes back to Jonathan. “You’ll never know what it’s like to have someone love you like she loves me and that makes me sad for you. Goodbye Jonathan.” She spun leaving the room without a backwards glance.

“You bitch come back here we aren’t done yet! We’ll never be done you’ll never stop thinking about me! I’m going to haunt your nightmares!”

They laced their fingers together smiling at each other as his voice followed them down the hall but neither one heard him.

“So I’m getting sprung from this joint today and I was thinking we should celebrate.”

“I was thinking the same thing and I know exactly when, where, and how…”

Chapter Text

“Frankie are you sure about this you don’t think this is a bit much??” she asked as she slid her arms into the white suit jacket. She had worn it for the turnaround dance at Johnny’s and it was tailored perfectly for her small frame.

“Trust me will ya?” She loosened the matching white tie around her sister’s neck. “There, perfect.” She inspected her handiwork “Maybe we should go with a black shirt instead of the red?” she straightened Maggie’s collar and undid the top two buttons then shook her head. “Nah.

“Do you think she’ll like it?” she asked still unsure.

“Magpie I’m straight and even I think a woman in a suit is hot. Seriously if you showed up dressed like a rodeo clown she would tell you that you look amazing.”

“That’s true isn’t it?” She smoothed her shaking hands down the front of her jacket.

“Nervous?” Frankie stood behind her watching her reflection in the mirror.

“Yeah a little bit I just want this to go perfectly.”

“Magpie she’d think the zombie apocalypse is perfect as long as you’re there.” She smirked at her.

“Frankie.” She turned her head to look over her shoulder. “I’ve never loved anyone so much in my life and sometimes it takes my breath away knowing that she loves me just as much.”

“Well if you ever pass out I’m sure she would be more than happy to give you mouth to mouth.” She laughed. “But seriously I’m so happy for you Magpie you deserve this more than anyone. Now let’s get you over to Kendall’s so you can pick her up and make your grand entrance together at Johnny’s.”

*

*

*

“Kendall are you sure this outfit was a good idea?” she looked at herself in the full length mirror. The vintage black wiggle dress Kendall had picked out had a slit higher than she would normally wear but she had to admit that it hugged her body perfectly. “You don’t think it’s too low cut do you?” She stared at the neckline and ran her hand across the expanse of skin then along the red accent that traveled the length of the dress.

“Not a chance this is absolutely perfect.”

“Do you think she’ll like it?”

“Please Binks she’d think you’re totally gorgeous in one of those ugly Christmas sweaters and bad eighties hair. Besides if nothing else you can distract her with those torpedoes. I mean with the height difference she’s right there and those babies aren’t exactly hard to notice.” She looked down at herself. “You know I think I got the short end of the stick.” She frowned.

Bianca laughed at her crazy sister “Well you make up for it with everything else.”

“I do don’t I?” she chirped. “And the fabulous hair doesn’t hurt anything.” She tossed curly locks over her shoulder with some flare.

“I don’t know what I would do without you.” She pulled her into a hug.

“Well I don’t know what I would do without you either.” She squeezed her tight but then pulled back when there was a knock on the door.

“Oh god Kendall, she’s here. Do I look okay?”

“You look amazing Binks relax. I’ll go get the door while you find a paper bag to hyperventilate into.” She chuckled.

“No I’ll get the door.” She gave herself one last look and with Kendall’s help went to the front door to greet Maggie.

“You got it from here?” She asked quietly.

“Yeah I’m okay thanks Kendall you really are the best.”

“I know.” She shrugged with a smile. “I’ll make myself scarce and I’ll see you at Johnny’s.” she kissed her on the cheek and made her way back to her room. Well not quite to her room.

She took a breath and winced just a little before reaching out to pull the door open. Her knees wobbled and she had to hold on for dear life. “Holy sexy suit Batman.” She uttered as her eyes raked over the small blonde and committed every inch of her to memory.

Maggie tried not to but she couldn’t help the smirk that refused to be stopped. Then she got an eyeful of the woman standing in front of her. “Holy shit.” She breathed. “I…uh…” Maggie’s brain sputtered. “I…you…wow.” she finally managed to get out.

Bianca looked down at herself then at Maggie. “Thank you.” She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “Did I ummm…” she felt her face blazing like a furnace “Did I say what I said in my head or was that out loud?”

“I heard, and thank you.” She rubbed her hands along her pants hoping to dry them. She was pretty sure her complexion now matched Bianca’s. “So, uh shall we?”

“Yes oh wait I forgot my bag let me go grab it and I’ll be right back.” She turned and wiggled her way back to Kendall’s room and swore she could actually feel Maggie’s eye’s on her backside. She smiled grandly as she entered the room and found Kendall doing her happy dance again. “You have really got to stop eavesdropping.” She shook her head at her sister.

Kendall screeched in surprise and turned around with her hands clamped to her chest. “Jesus you have got to stop sneaking up on me like that.”

“Serves you right.” She grabbed her purse from the dresser. “And you were right again. I think she likes the dress.”

“Told you so.” She stuck her tongue at her.

“Thank you big sister.”

“Anytime little sister. Now go your date is waiting for you I’ll see you later.”

She walked back into the living room to find Maggie fanning herself but this time she didn’t bother announcing herself first. “I look that good huh?” she said playfully.

“Even better.” She tossed the magazine to the couch.

“Yeah well I feel I should tell you that I have a thing for women in suits and you” she leaned down to whisper in her ear “are the sexiest thing I have ever laid eyes on.”

Maggie let out an inarticulate squeak as her knees gave a small wobble. “If you keep doing things like that you might have to hold me up.”

Bianca let out a breathy chuckle. “If you keep looking like that you might have to hold me up.”

“I guess we’ll just have to hold each other up.” She flashed her a lopsided grin. “Come on gorgeous I have to go show off my girlfriend and make all the boys jealous.” She winked holding out her hand.

She wrapped her hand around Maggie’s and pulled her. “God I love you.” She planted a quick but searing kiss on those irresistible lips. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get enough of that.”

“Huh?” Maggie said in a daze her eyes unfocused. “What was…there was a uh…and then…with the thing…and stuff…”

“Oh my god you’ve actually kissed her stupid.” Kendall laughed as she breezed through the living room and into the kitchen.

“Come on sexy.” Bianca giggled at the small flustered blonde pulling her towards the door. “Let’s see if we can’t jump start your brain.”

“Function not braining.” She mumbled incoherently as she let Bianca lead her out of the house.

“Yeah I got that.” Bianca laughed at her. “I think I might have found a new super power.”

“I like that super power feel free to use it on me anytime you want.” She said as she stumbled through the door with a goofy smile plastered to her face.

“Oh I already planned on it.” She purred.

*

*

*

They stood in the parking lot hands wrapped around each other as Maggie stared at the brightly lit building.

“Ready?” Bianca asked her.

She looked up at her date. “Yes but first I want to make sure that this hasn’t all been some crazy dream. We aren’t still on my living room floor are we?”

“I can assure you Maggie that this is very real but just to prove it to you.” She leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. “Did that feel like a dream?”

“Mmm hmm.” She said with her eyes still closed.

Bianca smiled at her. “Come on you have a lot of people waiting for their dance.”

“Not yet.” She held her in place listening as the music rolled across the parking lot. She turned so she was face to face with the most amazing human being she had ever had the privilege to know. “Bianca, I haven’t danced in a really long time and before we go in there and they tear me away from you I kind of wanted you to be my first. Will you dance with me?”

“It would be my honor Maggie of course I’ll dance with you.” She smiled sweetly.

Maggie pulled her closer wrapping her arms her neck. Bianca slid hers around Maggie’s waist holding her tight. Together they swayed slowly…

 

You ask me if there’ll come a time

When I grow tired of you

Never my love

Never my love

 

Bianca held her tighter. “I love you Maggie and I’ll love you for the rest of my life.”

 

You wonder if this heart of mine

Will lose its desire for you

Never my love

Never my love

 

“I think I’ve loved you my whole life.”

 

What makes you think love will end

When you know that my whole life depends on you

On you

Never my love

Never my love

 

They let the soft lull of the music wash over them continuing to move slowly as if they were one being.

 

You say you fear I’ll change my mind

And I won’t require you

Never my love

Never my love

 

Maggie stopped them staring into depth-less pools and tucking a lock of dark hair behind Bianca’s ear. She reached down into her jacket pocket and pulled out a small red box holding it between them. “Will you put it on me?”

Tears sprang to her eyes as she stared at the precious thing held so tenderly in that small hand. Slowly she reached for the box and pulled out the little silver heart. Maggie turned and Bianca brushed her hair aside and fastened the clasp placing a soft kiss on her neck before she turned back to her.

 

How can you think love will end

When I’ve asked you to spend your whole life

With me

 

“My heart.” Bianca whispered placing her hand over the shiny pendant that was so much more than just a piece of jewelry.

Maggie placed her hand over Bianca’s and looked up into her eyes. “My heart.” She whispered back as her other hand gently wiped a tear from Bianca’s cheek.

“Will you dance with me Maggie?”

“I’ll dance with you forever Bianca.” She sealed her vow with a kiss as they swayed together wrapped in each other’s arms. “I’ll never stop dancing with you and I’ll never stop loving you.”

“I’m going to hold you to that.” She smiled down at her.

She flicked her eyes to the copious amount of cleavage with a wicked grin. “Feel free to hold me to anything you want.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Bianca just shook her head. “You know it’s strange but the fact that you just kind of ruined a super romantic moment by cracking a joke just makes me want to kiss you like there’s no tomorrow.”

“Well then by the time we’re old and gray I imagine you’re going to be attached to me like a sucker fish.” She smiled brightly at herself for that rather snappy comeback.

Bianca laughed at her. “I think you might be right about that.”

Maggie stepped closer lowering her voice. “Seriously Bianca I think what Kendall said was right. I think both of our hearts were just waiting for its other half and I know that they finally found each other. You’re not just the other half of my heart but the other half of my soul.”

Without saying a word Bianca pulled Maggie into her arms and kissed her like there was no tomorrow. She let every ounce of love she had pour out of her body showing Maggie just how madly in love she was. Her hands clung possessively to the small blonde as they staggered backwards their momentum stopped only by the Magtanic. Maggie’s fingers dug into Bianca’s back as lights exploded behind her eyelids and before she knew what was happening she was sitting on the hood of her car with her legs wrapped around Bianca. She groaned in protest when suddenly those amazing lips weren’t attached to hers anymore.

“I think...” Bianca got out through heaving breaths. “That we should go in before I decide to just take you home and have my way with you. Because I have to tell you I’m seriously considering it right now.”

“I’m okay with that.” She nodded dazedly. “I’m really, really okay with that.” She attempted to reattach her lips to the brunette’s.

“Maggie.” She chuckled at her. “You can’t just leave you’re the reason they’re all here.”

She sighed. “I know.” She dropped her head to Bianca’s shoulder. “You’re right but I think I need a minute I’m not sure I can walk right now. I think your super power has gotten stronger. I think when you have your way with me I’m going to end up a spineless puddle of goo.”

“That’s kind of the plan my love.” She winked.

“Great what a pair we’ll make, the puddle of goo and the sucker fish.”

“Well come on goo.” She laughed pulling Maggie from the hood of the car. “Your adoring fans are waiting for you.”

“Okay but only if you promise to sucker fish me when we get home.”

“Oh you don't have to worry about that it's definitely going to happen.”

They made their way through the parking lot arm in arm laughing obnoxiously at each other until they reached the door.

Maggie laced her fingers with Bianca’s. “This is it the moment of truth.”

Bianca squeezed her hand gently. “Ready for this?”

She looked up into those big brown eyes a sense of peace settling over her and she smiled. “I’m ready for anything as long as you’re by my side.”

“This is where I belong and there’s no place I would rather be.” She pulled the outer door open and they were enveloped in a bright cascade of light. “Welcome home Maggie.”

They stepped over the threshold hand in hand one door closing quietly behind them while another opened in front of them revealing an even brighter light. 

Chapter Text

“Okay everyone can I have your attention.” Frankie’s voice came through the speakers. “I’d like to welcome everyone to the fifth annual Haven Bay Carnival.” She paused as the crowd cheered and applauded. “Last year was our biggest one yet raising twenty-five thousand dollars to help victims of abuse get back on their feet and it’s all because of you so give yourselves a hand.” She paused again. “This whole thing was the brainchild of my sister so I’d like to bring her on stage to say a few words.”

Maggie strolled across the stage taking the mic from her sister. “Thanks Frankie I’ll make this short and sweet like me.” She laughed and the audience laughed with her. “I just want to thank all of you for making this so successful. Every year what started out as a small event gets bigger and bigger and I’d like to once again thank Erica Kane for footing the bill so every cent we make goes directly to those that need it.” She paused as the audience cheered. “As of an hour ago we left last year’s number eating dust and it just keeps climbing so it looks like next year we’ll have to consider expanding to a three day event.”

"Make a hole!" A voice rose up  from the crowd. That voice was quickly followed by a frantic curly headed woman rushing the stage. “We gotta go.” She heaved.

“Ladies and gentleman I believe you all know Kendall.” She swept her arm towards her.

“No time, gotta go.” She waved her hand for Maggie to follow.

“I’m kind of in the middle of something here crazy lady.” She shook her head in amusement.

Kendall stalked towards her and spoke into the mic. “Your wife is in labor we need to go now.”

“She, what, now?” Her eyebrows shot up. “Sorry everyone I have to go we’re having a baby!” she tossed the mic over her shoulder to Frankie as she ran off stage with a raucous cheer following her.

“Wait!” Frankie yelled after them. “Uh folks have fun, spend a lot of money it’s for a good cause I’m gonna be an aunt!” she tossed the mic over her own shoulder running to catch them as the crowd continued to cheer.

*

*

*

Maggie swore she could feel bones rearranging themselves in her hand. “Breathe baby, breathe I’m right here.”

“I am breathing you breathe.” She snapped. “The next one is all you.” She ground out through clenched teeth.

“Uh yeah.” Maggie looked on warily. “How about we adopt the next one?”

“Do you really think now is a good time for jokes?” She glared at her wife.

“Sorry.” Her face contorted as Bianca’s vice grip tightened. “Yep I deserved that.” She squeaked.

“Okay Bianca we just need one more big push.” The doctor looked at her. “Ready?”

“No.” she shook her head. “I don’t know how any woman does this more than once.”

“Okay here we go big push.” The doctor urged.

Outside in the hall Kendall, Frankie and Jamie stopped as the half grunt half scream ripped through the door. It was quickly followed by the loud cry of a newborn baby.

“If I ever want kids I’m adopting.” Frankie echoed her sister’s words with a grimace.

Maggie burst through the door with a huge slightly deranged smile. “She’s here I’m officially a mom! Someone go get me a doctor I think my hand is broken!” She quickly disappeared back through the door.

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” Kendall said. “I think she might be delirious.”

“I’m pretty sure she lost her marbles somewhere between hours twelve and thirteen.” Frankie laughed.

An hour later Bianca laid in bed cradling the newest addition to the family. “She’s just so perfect.” She whispered.

Maggie placed a soft kiss on Bianca’s forehead. “Just like you.”

“Hey you up for company?” Kendall asked as she poked her head in.

“Come on in and meet Miranda.” Maggie stood carefully taking the baby in her arms. “Miranda this your Aunt Kendall, and that’s Aunt Frankie and Uncle Jamie. They’re going to get you in a lot of trouble when you’re older.” She chuckled.

“Oh she’s so beautiful.” Kendall stared at her niece with tears in her eyes. “Can I hold her?”

“Of course you can.”

“Hey there little one.” She smiled as Maggie placed the baby in her arms. “You are the luckiest little girl ever. You might have been born into a family of crazy people but no one will ever love you more.”

“You got that right.” Frankie said. “I can’t believe my sister is a mom this is so weird.”

“I guess this is the beginning of a new era.” Jamie smiled down at the baby. “Who knows maybe I’ll settle down one day and have one of my own. Think about it all of our kids will grow up together, the next generation of the Scooby Gang.”

“That’s actually kind of scary.” Bianca laughed. “I see a lot of trips to talk to the school principal about how your kids are a bad influence on mine.”

Jamie opened his mouth and shut it. “I hate to say it but you’re probably right.” He shrugged. “But little Miranda here will be the voice of reason she’ll talk them out of the crazier things they come up with just like her mother always did.”

“I wouldn’t count on that.” Frankie smirked. “She going to have terrible influences all around her.” She draped her arm around Maggie’s shoulder. “Two crazy aunts a crazy uncle and a crazy mom.”

“Great our child is going to be a delinquent.” Bianca yawned then gave Maggie an exhausted smile. “I feel like I could sleep for a week.”

“You should get as much as you can because neither one of us is going to be sleeping for at least the next year.”

“I think you should get some sleep too.” Kendall set Miranda in Bianca’s arms. “You look like you’re about to keel over.”

“Yeah I’ve been thinking the floor looks lonely and could use a nice long hug.” She threw Bianca a wink when she laughed.

“Sleep because our mother is going to be here tomorrow and you know she won’t be coming alone.”

“Ah Erica and the entire town of Pine Valley just what you want after eighteen hours of labor.” Maggie sighed.

“Hey I was the one who gave birth to a small planet here if anyone gets to say that it’s me.”

“Yeah but I’m pretty sure you broke my hand and I had to run after my head more than once.”

“Who knew Bianca could swear like a sailor.” Frankie shook her head.

Jamie raised his hand with a smirk. “Tenth grade she slammed her hand in a car door and she strung together what has to be the most epic sentence of curse words I’ve ever heard. I was really impressed.”

“And my hand was purple for a week.” She yawned again.

“Okay I think that’s our cue.” Kendall kissed Bianca on the forehead and then Miranda. “Goodnight little one we’ll see you tomorrow.”

Jamie and Frankie followed suit and were soon out the door leaving the three alone.

“I can’t believe she’s really here.” Bianca said quietly staring at her daughter. “I didn’t think it was possible to love someone so much.”

“Me either.” Maggie slid onto the bed taking care not to jostle Bianca or the baby. “You know it didn’t seem real. It’s like I knew there was this little person growing inside of you but it didn’t hit me that I was actually a mom until I heard her cry. And I knew from that second on I would do everything in my power to keep her safe and make sure she knows how much I love her.”

Bianca turned her head to look at her wife with adoring eyes. “This is the second greatest day of my life.”

“What could possibly top this one?” A soft smile played on her lips.

“The day I met you.”

“That was a pretty good day for you wasn’t it?” she laughed quietly. “Sometimes I close my eyes and I can see it just as clearly as if it had all happened yesterday. And then I open my eyes and I see everything I have now. You changed my life so completely that day and now you’ve done it again.” She stroked a tiny cheek.

"And you changed mine and now she's going to change ours. I can't wait to watch her grow up and see what kind of person she's going to be." She smiled down at her daughter. "She's going to be amazing Maggie. She'll be funny and spontaneous like you."

"And she'll be kind and smart like you. She'll have your eyes and big heart and she'll be as gorgeous as you are. You mark my words she's going to have everyone falling in love with her aren't you munchkin?"

Bianca's chin quivered. "I changed my mind I don't want her to grow up. I want her to stay just like this because before you know it she's going to be driving off to college and falling in love and we'll wake up and wonder where all the time has gone."  

Maggie had to suppress a chuckle. “I think you’re hormones just took a detour into wackyville. She's not even a day old yet and you're already sending her down the aisle. I’m just looking forward to the day when her smile is actually a smile and not gas.”

Bianca shook her head at herself. "What would I do without you?”

“You'll never have to find out.” She winked. "Why don't you get some rest before you have us in the old folks home gumming our dinner."

“Now there's something to look forward to." She smiled as her eyes drooped. “Hey Maggie?”

“Hmmm?”

“Do I get a goodnight kiss?”

Maggie leaned in. “Like you even have to ask?” She captured soft lips in a gentle kiss.

“Mmm you’re still magic.” She whispered with a contented smile. “You and Miranda are my whole world.”

“And you’re mine.” She whispered back as she gently took the sleeping baby from Bianca’s arms. “And I’m the luckiest person on the planet because I get to spend the rest of my life loving you.”

“I think that makes us the lucky ones.” She closed her eyes and was quickly consumed by sleep.

Maggie rocked Miranda as she watched Bianca noticing that even in sleep she had a smile on her face. “Oh what a future we’re going to have munchkin.” She closed her eyes a smile coming to her lips as she started to sing softly. “You ask me if there’ll come a time when I grow tired of you never my love, never my love…”

The Beginning…