DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but my love of Kinks. Yes, yes, I'm riding that sled into hell. Pervy writer and director thank you.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've recently become perversely entertained by AMC and have been watching it nightly on Soapnet. This new fic series is the result. I hope you like.
AUTHOR'S WEBSITE: http://www.dreiser.net/
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

What Happens When Bad Dressers and Drama Queens Fall In Love
By Dreiser

Part Three...

There had been uneasy silence since they had boarded the plane. Normally Babe wasn't the type of person who would take that very well as she loved a good talk but she understood Bianca needed it. And all that mattered to Babe right now was doing whatever Bianca needed from her. Because Babe had to, because what she had said before in Miranda's nursery was the utter truth.

She loved Bianca Montgomery, maybe more than anyone else in her life. This was a fact that had been haunting Babe for some time, ever since she discovered the truth about Miranda and her own lost child. During that time between sleep and dreaming, when she lay half awake in her bed, the one Bianca paid for, Babe would wonder how should could have done it. How she kept such a horrible secret from someone that she loved so very dearly.

Fear was the cause. It was that plain and simple and part of Babe thought maybe that was what was happening with Lena now. But trying to figure out what Lena had to be scared of left Babe feeling totally baffled. The European had everything in the world, she had Bianca and she had Miranda. They were a ready made warm and loving family waiting anxiously for her return to Pine Valley.

Why would she ruin that?

In the effort to remain truthful, Babe was forcing herself to stop and think why. To consider her actions and those of others in a hope of understanding the reasons behind them. Whether those reasons were premeditated or subconscious, wasn't of particular interest to her. Just the why of it was.

Family was the why behind her crime. Longer than she could remember, Babe had always wanted a family like the ones she saw in the movies or on the TV. She wanted it all. The mama, the daddy, the brother, the sister, and most of all she wanted the love.

The person she'd make her own family with. When she met JR, she thought he was that person and for a time he was. Then it all fell apart due to situations Babe could now admit she had caused. Part of her wondered if maybe she wasn't ready for her own family yet.

Though that thought pained her deeply, Babe couldn't really imagine any other explanation. Why else would she have done all that? Done action after action that slowly but surely destroyed her relationship with JR? If she had just told him... told him everything... about Jamie, the marriage to Paul, the crash, Miranda and their baby boy... they would still be whole.

JR said during their first night together he'd been having the same reoccurring dream since he was fourteen years old. One where it started as a memory of his many fishing trips with his father and Uncle Stuart. In the dream, he was alone with his father on their boat, staring out over the peaceful lake and enjoying the sunrise in the distance. When the sun rose fully, painting the area a beautiful red gold his father would turn to him and smile. Then he would say this and this only, "I love you, son."

Once he told her this, he reddened, looking embarrassed and muttered that the dream bothered him. Because he had been having it for so long and he didn't know why. Taking his hand, Babe suggested in a whisper that maybe it was because that was his dream in life. To just have his father love him.

Blue eyes, clear as that lake in his dream, reflected unshed tears and that was what made Babe fall in love with JR Chandler. They had done so much damage to each other, so much hurt and so much pain, Babe wondered if they could ever be at peace with one another again. She didn't know that but she did know she missed the man she met on that night.

The gentle and kind soul who just wanted to be loved.

"This is my first time flying," Babe remarked, speaking mostly because she wanted a distraction from her bittersweet memories of her ex-husband. "I always figured that I'd be scared out of my pants but so far my pants are stayin' in tact. I have to say I'm feelin' proud of myself."

"Oh Babe," Bianca quickly turned in her seat to look at Babe, a worried expression playing on her delicate features. "Why didn't you tell me? I would've--"

"You would've what? Held my hand and comforted me so I wouldn't bawl like a baby?" asked Babe with a teasing smile. Her face alight and lovely in the good nature it was showing.

"Well, yes," said Bianca, who blinked in confusion at Babe's reply.

"Bianca... girl, you know I love you," Babe chuckled affectionately and then she lifted up the hand she had been holding for over an hour now. "But you've been here for me this whole time." Pressing their joined hands against her heart, Babe looked Bianca earnestly in the eyes and murmured, "And I want you to know I'm right here for you. No matter what happens, what you're feelin', please know I'm here and I wanna help. You need me? Well hell," Babe formed a lopsided smile, "in a lickety split I'm there."

The series of emotions that played across Bianca's beautiful face were more stunning than any priceless piece of artwork or even the biggest shiniest diamond ring on the planet. When that dark head lowered and she heard the soft hint of a cry, Babe pushed up the arm rest between them and cupped Bianca's face, lifting it to be met with a vision that would stun her.

Love, gratitude, love, hurt, love, peace, love, fear, love, confusion, love, and pain... overwhelming pain only to return to love again.

Love and trust.

Trust shone from dark eyes that tore at Babe's very soul and wrapping Bianca into a close embrace, she tried with everything in her to soothe the quietly shaking frame in her arms. Wanting nothing more than to take away everything she had just seen and give Bianca her happiness back. To let her have the family she both wanted and sorely deserved.

During this moment, Babe realized something significant. That although she wanted Bianca to have whatever and whoever she needed in order to be happy if Lena was foolish enough to send Bianca away she would have to step in. She would take over and make herself responsible for creating that happiness. Babe would take the precious gift that was Bianca and Miranda's love and she would protect it and love it and hope and pray that the dream she had been having might come true. The one she had been having ever since she found out the truth about Miranda.

A dream that was the perfect picture of family, happiness, and love.

Sitting center on a mantle piece and decorated by an ornate golden frame it was a picture that always contained the same people. Bianca, Miranda, and Babe. The baby in Bianca's arms, Babe's arm around Bianca's waist, Miranda cooing up at the two of them, and their heads resting together in perfect harmony as they gazed lovingly down at her.

That was the family in her heart and Babe knew it. She had known it for months now and that knowledge killed her because of the damage it would cause. So she kept quiet, swearing never to say a word, unable to allow herself to even think about the possibility of having them for herself because they were Lena's. Yes, they were. They belonged to the Lena who loved Bianca and Miranda with a fathomless depth and intensity, to the Lena who Bianca loved more than any other, to the Lena who would and could do anything to protect the ones she loved.

They belonged to the Lena that apparently no longer existed and if that was true then Babe... then Babe could have her dream. She could have her dream if Bianca's heart was broken and crushed, if all she wanted in this world was taken away. That was the horrible reality of the situation. One that made Babe hate herself so completely she refused to think on it.

Bianca was Lena's. Lena was Bianca's. Miranda was theirs.

That was Bianca's perfect picture on a mantle and Babe would make sure she would have it. And once she did, then Babe would try and forget that nagging dream of family which haunted her.

Because she surely did not deserve to have it.

"If you study pictures of the Ancient Egyptians, they present a very striking image of classic beauty. That was the intent as in their culture it was extremely important they both looked and smelled good in accordance to their spiritual beliefs. They believed that their personal appearance was directly related to their level of spirituality and they needed to find ways to ensure they always looked presentable if not utterly fabulous for their Gods."

This was the first thing that Maggie heard when she walked back into Bianca's living room after paying the pizza delivery boy for their dinner. Sitting the large cheese pizza down on the coffee table, Maggie stared at the image of Cindy Crawford on the TV.

"What exactly are you watching?" asked Maggie, feeling rather stupefied as she observed Cindy holding up some sort of old pot that was filled with sticky green goo.

"History Channel's new series," informed Kendall who shifted Miranda in her lap who was sitting comfortably upon the fluffiest of pillows as she leaned back into her Aunt's chest. "Beauty Secrets of the Ancients. Cindy Crawford's the host. It's great."

"Uh huh," said Maggie in skeptical tones. Opening up the pizza box she removed a slice and placed it on one of the two plates in front of them. "I can get why you'd want to watch something like that but why is Mimo involved in this with you?"

"I'm educating her about her cosmetic roots," said Kendall in a wise and all important voice while nodding her head. "She is the heir to a legendary cosmetics conglomerate and she must both know and respect where the business emerged from."

"She's eight months old," said Maggie dryly, taking out another slice of pizza but wearing a small smile. Despite her own argument she did notice Miranda seemed to be having a grand old time sitting on her pillow and resting in her Aunt's arms. In fact, the only reason she was protesting what was on the television was the fact that she knew Kendall would create a cute argument about their viewing choice. "Shouldn't she be watching Teletubbies or some other kind of mind numbing drug induced child programming right now?"

At this comment, Kendall looked horrified. "Mimo is smarter than that! I refuse to allow her to watch things that make no sense and are vaguely disturbing," Kendall shuddered as she thought of the Teletubbies or worse... the Wiggles. "No, it's better for her to watch something with actual educational content. And besides, the only thing that's child related viewing she likes is in Muppet form. She loves the Great Muppet Caper."

Upon hearing the word Muppet pass her Aunt's lips, Miranda squealed happily and began to squirm in Kendall's arms. Looking down at the baby, Kendall frowned lightly. "Great," she said as she pursed her lips, "now she wants to watch it and here I am, dying to know what the Egyptians used to create their ancient eye liner." Sighing with exaggerated effort, Kendall looked down at her niece who beamed happily up at her and smiled softly then pinched her nose fondly. "You're too cute for words, you know that? And because you are, Aunt Kendall is going to learn about Egyptian make up secrets some other day so you can watch Miss Piggy use kung fu to get the baseball diamond."

"I'll put in the dvd," Maggie chuckled and rose to her feet. Studying the huge dvd cabinet that was next to the entertainment center, she then remarked, "I'm surprised they have so many movies here. When I lived with Bianca she never watched this much stuff."

"I think most of it is from Babe's collection," replied Kendall who was bouncing Miranda lightly on her pillow. "She's a big movie buff, I guess. Binks has told me a few stories about waking up late at night and wandering down here for a snack to find Babe camped out in front of the TV going through one of her epic movie marathons."

"Why am I not surprised most of these are sob stories?" said Maggie humorously as she found Miranda's movie of choice while looking at the dvd library. "Beaches, Fried Green Tomatoes, Little Women, Rebecca, Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment. It's like a constant revolving door of death," Maggie laughed, shaking her head and putting the dvd into the player. Looking back at Kendall who was smiling at her, she said, "Why do you think it is that a lot of women, in their free time, choose to watch stories filled with nothing but death and sadness? I just don't get that."

"Maybe because the problems in the movies are much worse than the ones in their own lives and that makes them feel better. Or maybe they have the same problems and seeing that people in movies have them too makes them feel like they aren't really alone," offered Kendall, giving a slight shrug. Suddenly feeling nervous at what she had accidentally revealed about herself, Kendall strategically avoided Maggie by looking to the baby in her arms. Holding Miranda's hand softly, she smiled as tiny fingers wrapped around her in a tight grip. "Not that I would know," Kendall added lamely, trying to form a lighthearted smile. "I'm a closeted fan of low budget horror movies."

Maggie was about to respond when a loud tooting of horns came from the television and Animal appeared on the screen doing a parody of the MGM logo which he then proceeded to eat. Upon seeing this, Miranda squirmed in Kendall's arms and gurgled happily as she lightly slapped her hands onto the arms that continued to hold her close. When a large balloon holding Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo flew into the picture Miranda started to resemble a Mexican jumping bean, she was squirming around so much. Although this didn't seem to bother Kendall, who smiled at her niece and held her gently as the opening song to the movie was cued.

Leaning down to Miranda so their faces were side by side, Kendall sang sweetly, "There'll be spectacle; There'll be fantasy; There'll be daring do; And stuff like you would never see..."

Grinning widely, Maggie decided to join in with her own charming but definitely off key vocal stylings. Sitting down on the couch, she scooted closer to Kendall, leaving barely any room between them as they sang together, "There'll be crooks and cops; There'll be villainy; But with us on call; We'll fix it all real easily." Their eyes met and a giddy feeling took over Maggie on seeing the affection in Kendall's gaze as she looked at her. "Hey, a movie; Wow, it's gonna be terrific; Starring everybody; And me!"

When the song finished and the movie moved onto the next scene which featured Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo being chewed out by the Editor in Chief of their newspaper, Miranda released a loud gurgling squeal of approval. Though whether this was for the actual performers in the movie or for Kendall and Maggie's personal rendition of the song was unknown.

"You'll have to excuse my singing," Maggie chuckled before taking a bite of her pizza. "I'm very aware of the fact I suck but hey, it's the Muppets. I had to sing along."

"I don't know," said Kendall fondly, rubbing Miranda's belly while the baby remained enraptured with the movie. "I think the two of us sounded pretty good. Next time we should sing Movin' Right Along, although that's more of a road trip song."

"Road trips are the best," said Maggie emphatically. Finishing off her first piece of pizza she reached for another but stopped as she realized Kendall hadn't eaten anything yet. "Aren't you hungry?"

As if replying to Maggie for her, Kendall's stomach rumbled and she looked sheepish. "That answers that, huh?" she laughed. "I am hungry but I can wait until later."

"Why?" asked Maggie, confused at this decision.

To answer this question, Kendall slowly pulled her hands away from their place holding Miranda gently. For a few seconds, her niece didn't appear to notice their absence then her chin began to quiver and her nose scrunched up as she formed the face of a very upset little girl. Seeing this, Kendall's hands were back in an instant, holding her tenderly and all signs of unhappiness left Miranda as she returned her attention to the Muppets.

Kissing the head of thick and curly dark hair, Kendall smiled at Miranda and looked to Maggie. "She likes being held," Kendall explained. "It's not a big deal. According to my acute sense of Mimo time, she'll start to get sleepy in about an hour. I think my stomach can hold off imploding until then."

"I think I have a better idea," said Maggie who rose to her feet and walked into the kitchen. In a few moments, she was back again but this time with a fork and knife. Seeing the unspoken question in Kendall's eyes, Maggie grinned. "Just watch."

Resting a pillow then a plate with a slice of pizza onto her lap, Maggie started the task of cutting the food into small pieces. When she was finished, she then speared a piece with the fork and held it up for Kendall's consumption. "Say ahhh," Maggie teased, making Kendall smirk at her antics.

"Cute," drawled Kendall sardonically.

Nevertheless, the taller woman leaned forward to take the pizza into her mouth, smiling around the fork and thinking back to their lunch when Maggie had done this herself. Swallowing the pizza, blue gray eyes glowed with amusement and arching an eyebrow, she said with slow pleasure, "Yummy."

"Pizza always is," said Maggie, grinning widely before spearing another piece and holding it up for Kendall to eat. A devilish look seized her features and she said in overly saccharine sing song tones, "Here comes the choo choo train!"

"You want to get hurt, don't you?" Kendall chuckled before taking the pizza into her mouth and eating it. "I knew you had to have a fatal flaw... and it turns out to be masochism. That is so very kinky, Miss Stone. So very kinky indeed."

"Whip and chain me, baby," Maggie snickered.

"You know," Kendall murmured while chewing the fourth piece of pizza she had been fed by Maggie. "Isn't it a little wrong of us to talk about that sort of thing while Mimo watches the Muppets?"

"Nah," said Maggie easily. "If you think about it, the Muppets really aren't that innocent. They do promote inter-species dating." Raising an eyebrow and forming a convincing look of horror, Maggie continued, "Pigs and frogs living together, mass hysteria!"

"You are a dork," said Kendall as a fond smile tugged at her features.

"Yup," Maggie said the word with the same pronounced pop as she had done earlier in the day.

She held up another piece of pizza for Kendall to eat and when the other woman leaned in, their eyes locked and Maggie felt a wave of affection wash over her. One that only grew stronger at the feel of Kendall cupping her cheek after pushing a stray lock of hair from her face. The two women smiled at each other in comfortable silence, delighting in the ease of their interaction.

"Sleep tight," Kendall whispered into Miranda's ear then kissed her dark head as the baby shifted slightly in her crib. Pulling back, she smiled at the sensation of Maggie resting her hand lightly on the small of her back. "I love them so much," the words were being said before Kendall really knew why she was even saying them. "Miranda and Bianca are everything I've dreamed of having in a family. They know me... they accept me..."

"They get you," supplied Maggie quietly, moving forward and wrapping an arm around Kendall's waist to lean into her. They watched over the sleeping Miranda together now. "It's kind of sad how something that simple is so hard to find."

"People are a pain in the ass," observed Kendall with dry humor, taking Maggie's hand in her own and leading the shorter woman out of the room.

Chuckling softly, Maggie closed the door and replied, "Curt and to the point but entirely correct." They remained in the hallway and Maggie started to ask a question but stopped upon seeing Kendall attempt to hide a yawn. "It's bedtime for you, young lady," said Maggie in her best take charge voice. "C'mon, I'll make sure the guest room is set up for you then I'll exit stage right."

Kendall felt inexplicably sad upon hearing this and at once she wanted the sensation to leave her and quickly at that. Looking up at the clock in the hallway and she saw she had been a bit off in her Mimo time clock predictions. It was just past midnight. Biting her lip and hoping she didn't sound desperate, she said, "I drove you here, remember? How are you going to get home?"

"Phone a friend, taxi, or the sad reality of public transport," said Maggie with a chuckle which soon faded on seeing Kendall's face. "Kendall?" she asked, looking concerned. "What's up?"

"Stay here with me," Kendall blurted out.

Blinking at this statement, Maggie tilted her head and studied the older woman who blushed and averted her gaze. "All right," said Maggie in soft agreement. "I'll stay."

There was a long moment of quiet perfection and acceptance. One where Kendall and Maggie looked at each other and saw... truly saw the other person and it was just right. So of course that moment couldn't last. Especially not with Kendall, who was the poster child for self doubt and personal recrimination about showing the least sign of weakness to others.

"I don't know why I asked you that," said Kendall, sounding thoroughly dismayed with herself while she hurried downstairs and away from Maggie. "Ignore it, okay? I'm just being... I don't know what I'm being but don't worry, I'm fine. You should get going. There's an early class tomorrow, right?"

"Kendall," Maggie called out in a slight panic, hurrying after the taller woman. "What are you doing? I want to stay with you. I'm not sure what has you freaked out but we're friends..."

Maggie found Kendall in the guest room standing in front of the bed that was covered in a pink afghan. "We're friends?" she echoed Maggie's words in vague disbelief.

"Yeah," said Maggie, now feeling more than a little bit worried for her companion. Pausing to stand behind Kendall, she hesitated then gently touched Kendall's waist. The taller woman tensed at this but didn't move away and Maggie pressed closer, leaning into Kendall's back and wrapping her arms around the thin waist in front of her. Resting her cheek against the curve of Kendall's shoulder blade, she said in a reassuring murmur, "We're friends."

In a slow movement, Kendall dropped her hands down to cover Maggie's which remained around her waist, holding her close. "I've never done this with friends before," she admitted shyly.

"Me either," Maggie said in muffled tones, hiding her face in Kendall's back and breathing in the intoxicating scent of exotic perfume she had about her.

"What about Bianca?" asked Kendall softly. She truly had no idea what was happening between her and Maggie. Whether they really were just friends or if she was feeling something more but she did know she wanted to find out. As long as the other woman felt the same way and it wouldn't hurt her sister. "You've never done this with her?"

"It's different with Bianca," said Maggie hoarsely, thinking of her confusing and almost rollercoaster nature of the relationship with her best friend. "She wanted me but I was too scared and now she has Lena," Kendall snorted at this and Maggie formed a hint of a smile on hearing it. "I love Bianca but as a friend. Maybe we could've been more but that train has sailed."


Then soft pleasing laughter and Kendall's frame shaking in her arms and Maggie started to ask what was wrong when the taller woman spun around to hug her close. "That ship has sailed," Kendall laughed, ruffling Maggie's hair before wrapping her arms around her waist. "Trains travel on tracks and ships are the ones that sail."

"Oh yeah," said Maggie dimly, only aware of the sensation of Kendall's arms holding her close and the scent of her perfume. "Ships sail and trains track."

"Such a dork," Kendall accused fondly. She pulled back and cupped Maggie's cheek as the smaller woman looked blankly up at her. "You ready for bed now?"

"Definitely," Maggie nodded.

"Then I'll get the fixins," announced Kendall forcefully then quickly exiting the room looking as if she was on a mission. Maggie watched her for a moment then shook her head and moved to the closet which she pulled open to look for a spare pillow.

"Fixins," chuckled Maggie, poking around the closet and sadly finding nothing but hangers and an impressive collection of shoes. Apparently Erica wasn't the only member of the Kane family with a shoe fetish. "What exactly is a fixin?"

The whap of soft cotton hit Maggie in the back of the head as Kendall staged her first pajama assault. Pulling the blue jogging pants from her face, Maggie eyed Kendall and scowled slightly. Kendall formed an expression of beguiling innocence and stuck out her tongue.

"Don't mock fixins," declared Kendall, pointing at Maggie. "Especially after I managed to find clothing that might come close to fitting your teensy weensy body type."

"Oh no, you didn't," Maggie snorted, holding up a hand while she walked past Kendall who laughed and started to set up the baby monitor she'd also retrieved.

When Maggie returned to the room a few minutes later, she immediately burst into laughter upon seeing Kendall in a pair of pants and a shirt that were way too short for her. The black cotton pajama bottoms went a little past Kendall's knees as if they were capri pants but they looked nowhere as comfortable or as good as capris. And the shirt? Maggie wondered if maybe it was meant for Miranda it looked so small on Kendall. Though she really shouldn't be laughing so hard since the jogging pants she was wearing had to be rolled up four times so she wouldn't trip and kill herself while trying to walk in them.

"This sucks," Kendall remarked dryly. Pulling back the covers on the bed, she sighed and said, "I'm going to have to root through my mess of boxes tomorrow and bring some actual clothing over here. There's no way I can stand wearing this two nights in a row, that's for sure."

"Why is your stuff in boxes?" asked Maggie, frowning.

Pausing in her quest to pull the sheets from their very tight bindings under the bed, Kendall looked to Maggie. "Because I'm moving out of the condo. I've been wanting to do it for awhile. It's nothing but bad memories and I don't want Bianca to have to visit me there. Especially now with Mimo, it just doesn't seem right," finished Kendall softly.

"That's sweet of you, Kendall," said Maggie with a quiet smile.

"Yeah, yeah," Kendall rolled her eyes and released a noise of triumph as she got the blankets completely free. "I swear, I love Binks but what is with her and army corners? So annoying!" She then slipped under the covers and sat up, looking at Maggie who was standing in the same place since she'd returned. "Well? What are you waiting for?" Kendall teased, pulling back the blankets. "Get in here. I want to get to bed already."

1.549 seconds passed and then Maggie turned redder than the reddest fire engine and Kendall's amusement grew to epic proportions.

"I thought I was sleeping on the couch," Maggie managed to stammer, looking away from Kendall and to the door. "I'm cool with the couch as long as I have a pillow. I like couches and I've slept on a bunch of them because of Frankie--"

"I'm sure that you like couches," said Kendall as she laughed. "Who doesn't really? But Binks couch isn't really made for sleeping and this bed is big enough for two people." A mischievous smirk played on her features and she drawled, "Especially when one of the two is as miniature as you are."

"I'm not that miniature," said Maggie, scowling now.

"So you say," Kendall arched an eyebrow and laughed. Pulling back the blankets some more and patting the mattress in a friendly gesture, she said in wheedling tones, "Come on, you can do it. One step, two step, three step..." Forming an over the top menancing expression, Kendall said, "Don't make me get up and drag you into bed. I'm feeling lazy and lethargic."

Click and darkness. Kendall had taken initiative and turned off the lights, not leaving Maggie with much of a choice.

"Fine," Maggie's voice echoed in the dark of the room as she slowly made her way over to the bed only to stub her toe on the bed frame. Releasing a hissing noise of discomfort, Maggie scowled again on hearing Kendall's snicker. "Be quiet."

Then she was on the bed, sliding underneath the blankets, and resting rather stiffly on the admittedly very comfortable mattress. Several minutes of awkward silence passed with only the sound of their breathing. That was when Maggie began her periodic bout of shifting, twisting, and turning. One which slowly drove Kendall insane.

"What the hell are you doing?" asked Kendall irritably.

"I can't get comfortable," Maggie responded in something that closely resembled a whine but somehow wasn't. Probably due to the genial tone of her voice. "I wanted to sleep on the couch because I can only go to bed if I'm holding something. Usually I sleep with three pillows, right? Two to rest on and one to hold. We only have two pillows here."

"Is that all?" Kendall said, sounding exasperated. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I was embarrassed," revealed Maggie, her voice muffled while she rolled over again, pressing her face into the pillow. "It's stupid, isn't it? That I can only sleep that way?"

"No, it's not stupid at all," murmured Kendall. Suddenly, Maggie felt gentle yet strong arms wrap around her and pull her close. In mere seconds, her head was resting on Kendall's chest and her arm was firmly placed around the other woman's waist. "Is that better?" she asked and Maggie shivered on feeling Kendall's warm breath on her skin.

"Yeah," Maggie said in the barest of whispers, "much better."

Tapered fingers moved down Maggie's back, caressing her lightly and Kendall said wistfully, "I haven't held someone like this in a long time. I've missed it."

"No one's ever held me like this," said Maggie faintly, her voice tinged with shame. Wrapped in the safety of Kendall's embrace, Maggie felt her emotional defenses start to crumble. Suddenly she found herself telling Kendall things she kept so private that not even Bianca knew of them. "That's pretty sad, I guess. I mean, I'm twenty two years old. I should have done this by now."

"It's not sad, it just is," answered Kendall, continuing to caress Maggie's back and the younger woman relaxed at this. "Don't you think it's strange how we create a timeline for certain events in our life? We should date by age 16, we should drink by age 18, we should have sex somewhere in between. I wish sometimes I hadn't paid attention to that timeline... that I had done things when I felt they were right for me. Instead of just doing what I thought was expected of me."

No response came immediately from Maggie and silence hung heavily in the air. Finally, Maggie shifted in Kendall's embrace, burying her face in the crook of the taller woman's neck. The feeling of Maggie's breath tickling her skin made Kendall shiver in a delightful manner. They remained that way as a sense of tranquility overtook them during the still of the night.

"Kendall?" Maggie said her name tentatively, as if to confirm the other woman was really there with her. "Can I tell you something?"

Skilled hands moved upward, carefully combing through Maggie's hair to then tenderly massage her scalp. "Of course, you can," Kendall comforted her.

"This feels right for me," said Maggie in a stark confession.

"I'm glad," replied Kendall, her voice echoing of a subdued happiness. Kendall's arms, which were draped over Maggie's body, gently pulled her closer while velvety lips pressed softly onto the top of her head. "Because this feels right for me too."

Part 4

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