DISCLAIMER: ABC Daytime owns all. I just took BAM out to play.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a very, very, very long serial that has been in progress since 2005. So, stick with it, because it's good... it's just lacking regular updates.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By carpesomediem


Part 24

Maggie Stone stood before the full-length mirror. It was a courtesy, of course. Regular prisoners didn't have access to such luxuries, but Erica Kane donated a rather large sum of money to make sure the young girl looked her best for court the next day. The warden was only happy to oblige.

Anna had dropped off the dress earlier in the day. Erica secured the make-up, hair supplies and other necessities needed for Maggie to look fresh. The only thing the warden wouldn't go for included a full body massage, manicure and pedicure. Maggie wasn't complaining, the dress alone was enough to make her feel like a million dollars. Right about now, she thought that was one of the many confidence boosters she needed to nail her testimony.

She wasn't nervous, per se, but seeds of doubt continued to flitter in and out of her mind. She couldn't help but think of everything that could and would go wrong tomorrow. It was in her nature. Despite her upbringing, despite her general attitude on life, her sister's influence on whether the glass was half-empty or half-full shined on.

"Look, Maggie," Frankie crossed her arms, standing on the bridge railing. "It's simple."

"Frankie, get down from there!" Maggie flailed. "You could fall into the river."

"And your point is?" Frankie smirked. "What if I do? What would you do then?"

"I'd jump in and save you," Maggie replied instantly, calming down for a second when she realized the flash in Frankie's eyes wasn't fear or insecurity. It was something else, it was resolve.

"Exactly," Frankie nodded, "I have nothing to worry about as long as we're together."

"And what about when we're not?"

"I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Frankie shrugged, losing balance for just an instant before Maggie surged forward and grabbed her by the wrist. She tugged hard enough to force Frankie forward instead of backward, causing her sister to land with a thud on top of her. "See? Nothing to worry about…"

Maggie recalled the day on the bridge when Frankie seemed to have a death wish. They were about 12 and after witnessing a nasty fight between their mother and their soon-to-be stepfather, they both took off towards the river for a quick swim. However, Frankie had other ideas. She wanted to walk the bridge, dodge the cars and just enjoy the beautiful day for once without worrying about what might happen when they made it home and their mother realized they were missing.

"I have nothing to fear as long as we're together," Maggie said aloud, still looking in the mirror. She closed her eyes momentarily and felt as if Frankie heard her, recalling the same memories, and knew even if her sister wasn't physically there with her in the courtroom tomorrow, she'd be there in spirit. That'd be enough to get her through anything the judge threw her way.

"Jack," Maggie said, positively radiant.

"Wow, Maggie," he said, practically speechless. "Just wow."

"I'll take that as a compliment," she beamed. "Anna got it for me, dropped it off this morning. She thought I could use something a little nicer than normal for this appearance." She shrugged, adding, "Besides, if the appeal's denied, I want to look my best for the paparazzi that will no doubt be storming the gates."

"Now, now, Maggie," he shook his head, "Let's not get our hopes down. This is the best chance we've had, yet."

"I know," Maggie sighed, "But I just can't help but have some sense of doubt. After everything that's happened and just thinking about the possibilities of what could happen…"

"Well, let's focus on what's going on right now," he countered, putting a hand on her shoulder in some way to comfort her. He knew internally she must be more anxious than she was letting on, even if her words betrayed her. "Let's go over what will happen tomorrow."

"All right," Maggie nodded, pulling away to take a seat. She crossed her legs, sat up straight and put her game face on. She only had one chance to get this right, and she knew she'd do whatever it would take to go home with Bianca tomorrow night. "Let's do this."

"Well, you already know how you want to approach this," Jackson began, "So, it's only a matter of how you do this. I can't tell you exactly what to do, because frankly, I think this strategy is a bit crazy. But it's worked so far, so I'm willing to go along with it as long as it doesn't cause more harm than good."

"How do you think it might go wrong?" Maggie asked, genuinely curious. She really hadn't thought about how it might go wrong. She was just elated it'd been enough so far to warrant another appeal.

"It could go wrong in a lot of ways, often times people who are emotional on the stand tend to break down," he explained, "They tend to say things, not necessarily the things they mean but it's the way they come out that cause tension in the courtroom. We want to avoid those types of outbursts, if at all possible."

"I understand," Maggie nodded. Basically, she shouldn't admit she thought about killing Michael Cambias on the plane ride back to the Pine Valley. In fact, she probably should avoid all thoughts on the plane ride over during her recollection of events leading up to showing up at the Valley Inn and doing the deed. "I really do, Jack. I think I can handle this, all of this."

"I have no doubt you can handle it, Maggie," he sat back in the chair briefly before straightening up again, "But sometimes being on the stand, being under that scrutiny changes how you'd normally react under the circumstances."

"Yeah, I get that," Maggie nodded, biting her bottom lip anxiously. "But I still think I have this under control." If only she really believed that.

"Now, you do know that Bianca will be there tomorrow," Jack added, waiting to gauge her reaction.

"Um, yeah, I do," Maggie's head practically snapped to attention. Jack knew then that Maggie wasn't certain if Bianca would be there or not.

"It's important not to focus on her being there so much," Jack said, "She's there to support you, as everybody else in the courtroom will be doing."

"I know," Maggie snapped out of it, nodding and leaned forward slightly to rest her elbows on the edge of the table before her. "I'll be fine, Jack, really."

"I know, sweetheart," he reached out and put a hand over hers. "I'll be there every step of the way." Maggie nodded again, believing his platitudes. Jackson Montgomery was a good lawyer, a good uncle to Bianca and a good man. If anybody could help her through this, it was him and for the first time that day, she truly believed she could do this with him by her side and Frankie's spirit inside.

"Bianca, it's your uncle Jack," he said, his smile shining through the other end of the telephone. "How are you holding up, sweetheart?"

Bianca braced herself for bad news, despite herself. She'd been bracing herself for it since news of Maggie's appeal spread through town. After all, why should she start being optimistic now? It hadn't served either of them over the years they'd known each other. She might as well keep the glass half-empty, at least that way it may not hurt as much if the appeal went south.

"I'm all right," she finally let out a breath. Even though he wasn't in the same room, he knew Bianca must be slowly coming apart on the inside. "What's going on?"

"I just wanted to go over some details for tomorrow's hearing, if you're up for it."

"Why would you need to go over details with me?" Bianca asked, confused. 'Shouldn't he be prepping Maggie for the appeal,' she thought. "I mean, doesn't Maggie need to be ready?"

"She is ready, Bianca," Jack said confidently. It was true. He was more than confident Maggie was ready for tomorrow, as ready as she could be. There meeting earlier that day had provided him with all the confidence he needed. He'd need to do little tomorrow to prove Maggie's honesty during the appeal. "She's more ready than anybody I've ever worked with for an appeal, to be frank. I don't think there's anything more I can do to prepare her."

"Then, why prepare me?" Bianca asked with a little more uncertainty. She was sitting down on the sofa in her living room, Miranda having been put down a little bit prior to her uncle's call.

"Well, you see," Jack took a small breath before continuing. Bianca sensed the hesitation in the action. "Maggie's a very stubborn, very direct individual. She believes the only way to win her appeal is to be completely honest with the judge-"

"-Completely honest? Does that mean she's been hiding something?" Bianca interrupted.

"Let me finish, Bianca," Jack scolded her interruption but smiled. It was moments like this that reminded him just how much Erica Kane was in here genes. "As I was saying, Maggie believes the only way to truly get out of jail free, so to say, is to be brutally honest with the judge. This is going to include how she feels for you."

"How she feels for me? How does that have to do with… With what she did?" Bianca asked uneasily, already knowing the answer but not wanting to admit it.

"Bianca," Jack rubbed his temple with his free hand, "I know you're a highly intelligent young woman. I have no doubt you understand where this is going…"

"I do, uncle Jack," Bianca sighed, "I do. I just wish I didn't-"

"-We all do, Bianca," he interjected quickly, "I just want you to be prepared. I know you and Maggie haven't exactly had the time to sit down and hash things out. I know you haven't really talked it out how you feel for each other. I just want to make sure you are ready for that."

"It doesn't matter if I'm ready for it or not," Bianca admitted sadly. She desperately wanted to hear Maggie say it to her and only her, but if getting her out of jail meant declaring their love for the entire world to see, then so be it. It's a sacrifice she was more than willing to make for things to work out right just once in her life.

"Okay, Bianca," Jack said as steadily as he could. He could hear the timber in her voice change and knew she was as far from okay as one could be. He wished he could each through the phone and wrap his arms around her to make sure she would be okay. "If you're sure…"

"I am, uncle Jack," Bianca lied, "Once we get through tomorrow, hopefully, we'll all be okay."

"Hopefully," Jack agreed, "Listen, Bianca, if you need anything. Absolutely anything at all. You call me, I don't care how late it is."

"I'll be fine, uncle Jack," Bianca stood up now, pacing a bit in place to make sure she could continue to convince him of that. But she was more sure she was trying to convince herself she was really okay. "I will be, I'm going to check on Miranda, then head to bed before tomorrow."

"All right, Bianca," Jack said, "I'll see you tomorrow. I love you."

"I love you, too, uncle Jack. Goodnight."

"Goodnight." Jack hung up first, Bianca hanging on the line desperate to say something other than goodbye. She'd said so many goodbyes in the last few years, she was hoping she wouldn't have to say it once more. If tomorrow went right, she was sure she wouldn't have to say goodbye to the one she loved ever again.


Part 25

Erica Kane accompanied Jackson Montgomery to the courthouse. They arrived about two hours before the appeal was set to happen, mostly due to Jackson's nervousness about the proceedings. It was so out of his real, so out of his range of logical client defense, but somehow deep down he knew this was the only way Maggie could appeal her sentence.

Erica wanted to meet up with Bianca and Kendall before the proceeding began, before Maggie arrived. She wanted to be there to support her daughter no matter what the verdict. She couldn't help but feel the nerves in her stomach tighten when they parked in the courthouse lot and headed towards the entrance. The press descended upon them before they even make it to the first steps.

"Miss Kane!"


"Mr. Montgomery!"

They cat-called at the two, Jackson shielding her from their onslaught as they climbed the stairs. Derek Frye was at the top, waiting for them and instructed officers to clear the way so they could make it inside safely. It was like a three ring circus, and once they made it to the top, the young reporter from the Inquisitor's question rang out loud and clear.

"Ms. Kane, what will you tell your younger daughter when the love of her life's appeal is denied again?"

Erica snapped around, tearing away from Jackson Montgomery and glared at the crowd as only the Erica Kane could do. The press became eerily silent, a wave of confusion waving over them as they waited for some sort of statement from the woman. She stood there, solid as a rock as Jackson looked on. Officers were still pushing them back, and they all waited for the snippet they so desperately craved for their outlets, publications and web sites.

"Now, let me tell you something," Erica began, holding her head high, "You may think that this is just another story to put your name on the front page, but there's a lot at stake. Not just for me, my family, my daughter, but for a young woman who did what she thought was right. When everyone else failed my daughter, Maggie Stone did the only thing she could to save her from Michael Cambias. It may have been wrong, it may have been downright murder, but at the end of the day, it was an act of love done in the heat of the motive to protect my daughter. And for that," she tossed her hair and smirked, "I will be forever grateful."

"Erica, that's enough," Jackson grabbed her by the arm, smiled weakly at the press who were furiously scribbling notes while others pulled out cell phones no doubt calling their editors with the statement. "Let's go." Erica merely nodded, letting him lead her into the courtroom with Derek Frye in tow.

"That was a… Colorful statement, Ms. Kane," Derek said following them into a quiet corridor.

"Colorful doesn't even begin to describe it," Jackson said, furiously, "What were you thinking-"

"-Only what everyone else is thinking and not saying!" Erica responded curtly, "We're all standing here like this is going to work out like some fairytale, and chances are it's not, if Maggie's defense is to be honest then I'm not going to lie to the press when they ask me what I think anymore. It hasn't helped so far, it can't hurt now."

Jackson just shook his head incredulously. Sometimes Erica Kane just didn't get it, no matter how obvious it was. His thoughts were interrupted as he opened his mouth to speak. Kendall, Myrtle and Bianca had entered from the side entrance, away from the press and were now heading towards the courtroom where the appeal would take place.

Erica followed his line of sight, as did Derek and watched heavily as the young woman spoke a few words before heading into the room alone. Erica began to take a few steps forward, but Jackson once again stopped her. They met each other's eyes, and Erica knew she had to let Bianca do this alone for now, even though it tore her up inside not to be right there with her.

Bianca Montgomery had entered the courtroom alone, now she was surrounded by familiar faces of family, friends and Pine Valley acquaintances. Kendall and Myrtle had brought her there, but they allowed her the time alone she needed to calm her nerves. Kendall had given a rather nasty little statement to the reporter from the New York Times and was still smirking as Myrtle stopped her from saying much more.

She took a seat in the first row, directly behind where Maggie would be seated during the appeal. She looked at the empty seat and wondered what the day would bring. She'd tried to forget what could go wrong, what might go wrong and instead focused on keeping her spirits up. Kendall took her to breakfast, Miranda coming along for the ride. Then, they stopped by Opal's to drop Miranda off for the day before picking up Myrtle at the boarding house.

Myrtle told Bianca that she needed to be strong, not just for Maggie but for herself. Bianca often lost sight of being strong for herself, because it was so much easier to be strong for everyone else. She was the glue that held the Kane women together; she took that position very seriously. But it was time she was strong for herself, and she understood that now. So, as she sat and reflected on how the day would go, she knew that at the end of it all, Maggie Stone loved her. And no matter what happened, that'd somehow be enough.

David Haywood and Anna Devane waited outside the Pine Valley courthouse's prisoner entrance for Maggie's arrival. She was due to arrive at any minute, and Derek made sure they weren't bothered and that the press couldn't get to them. Anna had recused herself from duty that day so as not to have any influence on the proceedings, leaving Derek in charge at the PD.

"Shouldn't she be here by now?" David asked, looking at his watch for what had to be the twentieth time in the same span of minutes.

"Calm down, honey," Anna rubbed the small of his back, "Derek assures me they're on time, en route. It'll just be a few more minutes." David merely nodded, lacing his hands behind his head and pacing.

He was at his breaking point. David Haywood had a way of losing everything he cared the most about, he wasn't about to lose Maggie for this. No way, no how. If her appeal didn't go according to plan, he'd do anything in his power to break her out. He hadn't admitted that to anyone, not even Anna, but it was becoming a more frequent plan in his mind. Today would be the day he'd know for sure if he was about plan a prison break.

Maggie Stone sat rigid in the back of the police van. It was procedure, despite the fact that her last trip to court was in the back of a Rolls Royce provided by Erica Kane. Of course, Jack argued that she didn't need that type of detail but the court thought it was only prudent considering the special nature of the case. After all, Maggie was a convicted killer, something they often forgot. But it was something she never forgot herself.

"I think you're the first person we've transported that hasn't asked if we're there, yet," one of the guards said as they pulled into the back of the courthouse. Maggie looked out the tiny back window, smiled sadly.

"I'm from Pine Valley, you know," she replied, "I probably could've told you how to get here quicker next time." As soon as she said it, she regretted it; it created a sense of remorse and sadness in here she'd tried to stay away from the last few hours.

"Hopefully, there won't be a next time, Ms. Stone," the other guard interjected. "We're here." He parked the van, David and Anna staying their distant so as not to cause any problems.

"Hopefully," she said only to herself, "Let's hope." She closed her eyes as the side door was opened, one guard climbing in to undo her from the constraints holding her down in the van.

"This way, Ms. Stone," he said, "Be careful." He helped her out, and that's when Anna made her way to them with David in tow.

"Is that really necessary, officers?" she asked, pointing to the handcuffs.

"She's certainly not a flight risk," David interceded, rolling his eyes at the amount of security surrounding the petite girl.

"David," Anna scolded, "Gentlemen?"

"It's just procedure, ma'am," the driver said.

"Very well," she nodded. "If you don't mind, however…" She trailed off, taking off her pea coat and folding it over her handcuffed hands.

"Thank-you," Maggie said, meeting her eyes and smiling.

"You're more than welcome," Anna said, putting an arm on her shoulder. "Let's get this over with." Maggie merely nodded as David and Anna accompanied her inside, the guards on either side making sure she made it to the courtroom.

"Well, here we go," David said, "You ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," Maggie said confidently. She was ready, she knew she was, she could do this, and she could be free. There was no other way to put it. Today would make or break her, but no matter what, she'd give it her all trying to explain why she wasn't a cold-blooded killer.

"No matter what happens in there, we love you, Maggie," Anna said, "We love you more than the world."

"I know," she replied, "I love you guys, too."

"We have to take it from here, Chief," the bailiff interrupted, having given them a few moments to exchange encouragement. Anna merely nodded, pulling away and David patted her shoulder

Various other Pine Valley residents flitted in and out of the courtroom waiting for the appeal to begin. While the room itself was closed to the press, they filtered around the courthouse waiting for a snippet or news bite from one of the city's residents or even a photo opportunity with a big name player. They were like vultures, waiting to scavenge on the tragedy or elation the day would eventually bring.

Meanwhile, Opal Cortlandt watched the breaking news on her television set, watching little Miranda in her makeshift crib and talking about the events as if the little girl understood what she meant.

"You'll see, child," she drawled, "In just a few hours, you're going to have your whole family again. You just wait and see! I know these things, I can sense them, and I know you're going to have just the most wonderful life with those two girls! Yes, you will!"

In the next few minutes, the reporter began detailing Maggie's arrival, and Opal sent up a silent prayer that this new little family would be reunited by day's end.

A hush fell over the crowd as Maggie Stone was led by the bailiff through the courtroom doors and to her place next to Jackson Montgomery. She kept her eyes focused forward, on the bench, and even though she knew everybody was watching her. She knew Bianca would be sitting behind her, as would Anna and David whom she'd already seen and almost broke her resolve, but she knew the second she'd look in their direction and see Bianca's eyes looking back at her she could lose the confidence she'd built for the day. She couldn't afford to lose that now. Not with what was at stake.

Her freedom wasn't something she could live without at this point. So, for now, pretending the rest of the world didn't exist – including the woman she loved – was the only way she could make it through her appeal as a free woman. Or so she hoped.

Part 26

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