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 Four...

Sentimentality wasn't something that Lena fell victim to. Objects were nothing more than objects, they had no hidden meanings or stories behind them. No memories were attached to make her feel as if she should keep them with her always.

That would only tie her down.

Being tied down, committed, was something for the longest time Lena feared more than anything else. It would keep her from achieving her goals... having the life she'd always dreamed of. Then she met Bianca Montgomery and suddenly the dreams she had became empty and worthless.

Nothing mattered but Bianca and Bianca's love. Everything else was shoved into the waiting wings and Lena focused all that she was on loving this girl. Logically, Lena knew this wasn't a safe or even healthy way to live but she couldn't help it.

Lena had never been in love before.

As she looked back at the past year she wondered if perhaps someone was playing a great cosmic joke on her. To finally have love only to lose it... and then, to have it again only to have Michael twist it... rip away the goodness of the act. And now there was this latest chapter in their tale.

Breaking Bianca's heart, lying to Bianca, distancing herself from Bianca completely, in order to keep her family safe. To make sure the woman she loved and the little girl who owned her heart remained safe from those who would hurt them.

From those who would use Lena to hurt them.

Sitting in her mother's room on the comfortable windowsill, Lena split her time by watching Paulina sleep and gazing out the window to watch the long dirt road that led to the nearby town. Releasing a soft sigh and resting the top of her chin on her legs, Lena saw the car approach.


Squeezing her eyes tightly shut, Lena slowly rose to her feet, nails biting into the soft skin of her palms in an attempt to keep her from shaking. Opening her eyes, she headed calmly but carefully downstairs, taking a long and shaky breath then waiting.

The doorbell played the tune of an old Polish folk song, something that Lena didn't care for very much, but all the same it served its purpose. It let her know that they were there. That Bianca was there. Standing on the steps of her door, waiting for Lena to let her in.

But Lena couldn't... in more ways than one.

Pulling the door open, dark eyes that always tugged at her soul, reducing her to emotional rubble pleaded with her. Already, Bianca's chin was quivering and tears were forming. Pressing her nails into her palm, Lena looked over Bianca to lock eyes with Babe. She was unexpected. Lena had anticipated Kendall to be at Bianca's side, playing her role of protective big sister to perfection.

To be honest, Lena almost felt disappointed. Something in her had wanted Kendall to be here... for Kendall to tear into her, to yell at her, to railroad her, to destroy her for hurting Bianca. Though Babe loved Bianca dearly, she was by no means Kendall Hart. She wouldn't give Lena the smallest bit of satisfaction or relief in guilt by venting her own anger. That wasn't Babe's way. No, she would stand quietly to one side and watch...

She would watch Lena with Bianca, how they interacted, what Lena said, their body language and words. This made Babe dangerous to what Lena was trying to achieve. Babe had it in her to figure it out, if she watched them close enough.

Lena had to end this quickly.

"Bianca," stated Lena, her voice carefully played to be detached in nature. As if she was merely making an observation. "Although I had hoped otherwise, part of me knew you would do this. It is in the nature of Kane women to ignore the requests of others in favor of what they want." Turning on her heel and leaving the door open for Bianca and Babe to walk through on their own. When she heard the thump of the heavy wood door closing, Lena turned to face them and folded her arms over her chest. "What is it you want? Or am I wrong in presuming you want something from me?"

"Lena," Bianca's voice shook and was laced with sorrow. Moving carefully forward, she reached out to gently touch Lena's forearm which the older woman arched an eyebrow at in cool observation. "I want to know what's going on. Why you said what you did on the phone. Why you..." Bianca broke off, unable to say the words at first. "Why you said you didn't love me anymore. I know it isn't true, Lena." Though hesitating slightly, Bianca lifted her hands up to gently cup Lena's face in her hands. "I love you, Lena, and I know you love me."

Squashing every bit of joy she felt inside her at Bianca's words, Lena forced her expression to remain cold as she calmly pulled soft hands from her face. Dropping Bianca's hand and taking a precise step backwards, Lena formed a slow smirk.

"Little girl," drawled Lena, the accent Bianca loved so dearly turning horrible and dark with its intent. "You know nothing. The world is not some fanciful fairy story where the Princess rides off with her gallant Prince. There are sacrifices to be made and I have made them, time and time again to get what I deserve." Her lips twitched and then curved upwards in amusement. "I will admit that you did provide quite a lovely distraction for the longest period of time. So much that I thought perhaps your way of life, the drab day to day activities of the suburban mundane were something I would like to achieve. Thankfully, that delusion left me as soon as I returned home."

"Stop it!" screamed Bianca. Her body was shaking and she swung her head to and fro, causing her black hair to fly about in a disarray. Lena thought dismally that she had never looked more beautiful. "Stop lying! Tell me the truth, Lena!"

"I'm not lying and if you presume that anyone who speaks words which you do not wish to hear is a liar then I fear for your future in the world of business," replied Lena coolly. They were silent for a long moment then Lena sighed deeply. Looking away from Bianca, out the far window and at the Polish hillside. "I told you the truth and I would prefer you to leave now. There is nothing you might say that will alter my decision. Just... leave it be, Bianca. This is what is best, for the both of us."

In that moment, Bianca saw the truth and so did Babe. They saw a clear glimpse of the real Lena and they knew something wasn't right. That there was an outside source causing this situation. Which is why Bianca cautiously stepped forward to take Lena's hands in her own and ducked her head down to gaze up into sad brown eyes.

"Lena," whispered Bianca lovingly, lifting elegant hands to her lips and kissing them fiercely. "I love you. Whatever's going on I want you to tell me. We can get through anything if we're together."

"Bianca," the word passed Lena's lips as if it were a prayer and in a way, it was. Bianca was her prayer for happiness and even now it was hard to let her go. "I wish I could tell you but I cannot..."

"It's okay, Lena," soothed Bianca. Her eyes were alight with happiness and hope, pressing into the taller woman. "You don't have to tell me anything. Just let me be here with you. Let me be here for you. That's all that I want." Winding hands up and into soft brown hair, Bianca pulled Lena into her arms. Holding the other woman so close it felt as if they might melt into each other, Bianca murmured, "I love you, Lena. I want to help you."

Pulling away, Lena started to reply only to have Bianca press her finger against her lips and smile quietly. Bianca's hand fell away to rest on Lena's hip as she rose on her tip toes to meet their lips in a kiss. Sweet lips that were softer than anything Lena had ever known captured hers in a slow kiss that pulled, tugged, and forced open everything she felt for Bianca. Words were one thing but this... she couldn't lie about a kiss. It simply wasn't possible.

Bianca knew that Lena loved her.

"Corka? Lena, where are you?" Paulina's frail voice echoed from the top of the stairs and Lena jerked her head upwards in a panic.

"Mama?" Lena called, moving away from Bianca only to pause and look back at her.

"Go to her," said Bianca with a soft smile. She squeezed the elegant hand she held in her own. "I promise that I'll be right here waiting."

Lena's face melted into an expression of pure love and affection before she moved forward with certain ease to press a heartfelt kiss onto Bianca's lips. Then she pulled away to run up the stairs two steps at a time to check on her sick mother. Bianca remained where she was, staring at the space where Lena had been before she released a relieved sob, holding her hand over her lips as she looked at Babe with teary eyes.

"She loves me," Bianca whispered, barely able to believe it. "You heard her... you saw her... didn't you, Babe? Lena loves me. I'm not imagining it. She loves me."

"Sure I heard her," said Babe as she gave a small but genuine smile of support to her friend. "And of course she loves you, Bianca. What's not to love, huh?"

Pushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear, Bianca moved closer to Babe and clasped her hand. "Thank you so much for coming here with me," she began graciously.

Sensing immediately what Bianca needed from her, Babe's lips curved up in a smile and she said, "How about I go on back to our hotel? It's got a nice big bathtub and jacuzzi. I'm thinkin' I should go on and try that baby out, don't you suppose?"

"I have to agree," Bianca nodded and grinned widely. She paused to look at Babe... really look, then she moved forward to wrap her up in a caring embrace. "Thank you so much for being here. I don't know if I could've made this trip alone."

"Hey now," murmured Babe, cupping Bianca's cheek warmly. "I've wanted to do all this, y'know. We're friends. You're probably the best damn friend I've ever had and I want you to be happy. Okay then!" Babe declared and formed a big grin as she clapped her hands together. "I'm outta here. If you need me, you know where to find me Bianca girl."

"Oh, I know," said Bianca solemnly, a grin tugging at her lips. "You'll be busy soaking yourself in a very nice, very posh, very relaxing jacuzzi tub."

"It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it," Babe replied with a wink before she exited the house. In a sort of daze, she walked to the rental car and got inside.

She sat there for seconds that turned into minutes that seemed to turn into hours but it didn't. In reality, Babe sat there for only five minutes and thirty two seconds. She sat and she thought on what had just happened. The proof of Lena's love for Bianca and Bianca's love for Lena. She couldn't dispute it, she couldn't fight it, and she didn't want to. No, not at all.

All she wanted was to have that for herself. For that perfect framed picture of family to change so she could be happy and in turn, be truly happy for Bianca who had found it with Lena. Though she didn't know if that ever would be possible because of the pain she was currently feeling.

Shaking her head, Babe started up the car and turned on the radio. Tuning into several stations until she found what she liked, one that played club music which she found strangely enjoyable despite not being able to understand a word of what they were saying. Driving down the dirt road back to civilization and their hotel, Babe dimly realized she only had a vague idea of where she was going. And she couldn't read the road signs.

This would be interesting.

A funny part of living with Maggie Stone was the fact that although her alarm never seemed to wake her up it always got Jamie ready for the day. That was true for this morning but after he wandered out of the shower, feeling refreshed and happy, it was still ringing. Usually Maggie had turned it off by now, if not at least given it a good throw at the wall.

That poor wall, filled with countless dents, bumps, and holes. It and the hundreds of broken alarm clocks should be awarded purple hearts of courage for their service to Maggie. Too bad inanimate objects never got any sort of proper recognition. Well, unless they were Hollywood actors.

Jamie wondered what a Keanu Reeves alarm clock would look like. He quickly came to the conclusion that it would be too mellow to wake anyone. Woah, what a bummer. Releasing a laugh at his own bad joke, Jamie cautiously pushed the door to Maggie's room open and poked his head inside. Scanning the dark and dungeon like dwelling, he realized after a few seconds that the bed was missing the grumpy Maggie sized lump it usually had in the morning. Taking several large leap and bounds over piles of clothes and books, Jamie finally reached the Marvin the Martian alarm clock to turn it off. Studying the empty room, he couldn't help but be a little curious about where his roommate had disappeared to. Deciding it was too early to come up with any feasible theories, he headed towards the kitchen only to pause to look out the fairly large windows in their living room. The ones that gave them an oh so picturesque view of the parking lot.

Which let him see quite clearly as his missing roommate climbed out of Kendall Hart's two door metallic silver 645Ci BMW Coupe. He wasn't sure what was more shocking, the fact that thanks to JR's influence he could now identify fancy cars on sight or that Maggie was with Kendall.

Temporarily controlled by the genetically induced nosiness he inherited from his parents, Jamie moved closer, whacking his head against the glass of the window and cursing as he did so. Holding his forehead, he watched as Kendall got out of her car and leaned into the back seat to retrieve her baby niece. The two women talked amiably and squinting at them, Jamie almost thought it looked like they were flirting with one another.

But that couldn't be. They were Maggie and Kendall. Straight and straighter. Well... except for Maggie's recent revelation she had a crush on Bianca and could have fallen in love with her best friend if she had just let herself. Other than that she was as straight as a very straight... stick. Yes, straight indeed. Then there was Kendall. She was tall and tall girls are... tall? Ugh. That was a sad statement. Even for him.

Right about now Jamie thought maybe he should try getting more than two hours of sleep a day. It might help things go more smoothly in his life. Like the whole thinking process.

Turning his attention back to the women, Jamie was instantly aware that he had missed something very important. Kendall was laughing uproariously and Maggie was bright red as she held Miranda close to her body. She seemed to be simultaneously begging for Kendall's help and yelling at her.

Squinting more and wondering if he should maybe go see his eye doctor, Jamie tried to figure out what was going on. Then he noticed it. Miranda's tiny lips latched firmly onto Maggie's exposed neck as she sucked away like she was a tinier cuter version of Claudia from Interview With A Vampire.

"Baby lesbians," Jamie muttered in somber observation.

He watched for a bit longer as Kendall futilely tried to separate Miranda from Maggie's neck before he shook his head, ran his fingers through gravity defying hair, and walked into the kitchen in order to begin his mighty foraging for food. He was in the middle of his study of the exact nutritional properties of the lone head of brown lettuce in their fridge when Maggie entered the apartment with a slam of the door. On seeing him in the kitchen she looked to him and said in a tired greeting, "Yo."

"Nice hickey," said Jamie with an impish smile. When Maggie glared at him, he raised his hands in defense. "Don't get mad at me. How could I look away when that baby was sexually assaulting you? It was both an enthralling and frightening sight."

"I don't care what Kendall says, there has to be some sort of hostile reasoning behind Miranda's actions," Maggie declared as she walked into the kitchen and pushed him aside so she could look for food. "Why else would she keep doing it? Oh yes, adorable infant hostility is behind all of this, mark my words. I'm putting my money on her not liking the duck jammies I got her."

"She's done this kind of thing before?" asked Jamie, a huge smile forming on his face just at the thought of it. "That's comedy gold! Why didn't I know about this?" Watching Maggie root through their freezer now, he remarked, "Give up already. We have nothing in there but ice."

"And a Hershey bar," replied Maggie who now had half her petite body inside the freezer as she continued her search. "I hid it amongst all the ice so you'd think there was only ice in here. Though in reality, there was a glorious hidden chocolate treasure."

"You hid candy from me?" Jamie was supremely insulted.

"For the good of my own hunger? Yes. Yes, I did," said Maggie. With a whoop of triumph, she located the Hershey bar and held it gently, treating it like the great prize it truly was. "Ah, calorie filled chocolatey goodness. Life is very sweet."

Forgetting temporarily about his angst filled regret over the chocolate, Jamie leaned it to take a close look at the hickey on Maggie's neck. "You know," he began in sly tones, "in my expert opinion this is the work of a professional. I'm starting to think that scene with Miranda was just a cover up for an older member of the Kane family being the actual guilty party."

"Bianca's in Poland," Maggie responded peevishly, rooting through their drawer of utensils.

The Hershey bar had become so utterly frozen she couldn't get the paper off of it. This was a problem that had to be remedied and fast. Before Jamie noticed the chocolate hadn't yet been consumed and stole it from her. Maggie had seen him eat on several frightening occasions and knew a small issue like paper covering his food wouldn't stop him for seeking sustenance. He'd just eat through the paper and comment on the taste.

"You and Bianca?" Jamie frowned at Maggie's comment which threw him off balance. "No, not her. Well... yeah, I guess her but no, since I was talking about--"

"Lily doesn't do that," Maggie muttered. She had finally located a large butcher knife and held it up to the light. It gleamed and made her look scarily dangerous or at least like someone from a Stephen King novel. The good ones, that is. "She hates touching people almost as much as Red Ryan."

"Red Ryan?" asked Jamie, definitely confused.

Concentrating on the historic task of carving the paper off her frozen Hershey bar with a butcher knife, Maggie said in distracted tones, "Lily hates red. Lily hates Ryan. We all decided to combine the two into one great name. Red Ryan. Furthermore, to enforce her feelings for the color and him, the phrase of Red Ryan Bad. Some hope those will be Miranda's first words."

"Oh," mused Jamie before frowning. "But I wasn't talking about Lily."

"Reggie is with that annoying girl," Maggie continued on, convinced she would eventually free her frozen Hershey bar from its paper prison. "And La Kane is way too old."

"Erica?! With you?" exclaimed Jamie, laughing and then releasing a noise of clear disdain at the thought. Rubbing the back of his head, he murmured, "My Mom maybe. This one time I caught them in the pool..." He shuddered. "It was so very disturbing."

Maggie had officially given up on freeing the frozen Hershey bar from the paper that held it. She wondered if microwaving it might help the situation. "Jackson isn't my type," she mumbled around the frozen chocolate treat. She had decided to throw caution to the wind and attempt eating it.

Observing with wary eyes as Maggie gnawed through the paper of the almost fossilized chocolate bar, Jamie speculated on how long it would take before her teeth broke. "I meant you and Kendall. Although I should ask about you and Mimo," Jamie raised an eyebrow. "That scene down there was very Michael Jackson'ish. You aren't going to rename our apartment Neverland are you?"

"Oh yes," said Maggie, her voice filled with derisive humor as she tossed the half gnawed frozen chocolate bar on the counter for Jamie to quickly retrieve. Heading into her room, she began the hunt for the bag of sour cream potato chips she had hidden somewhere in the depths of her underwear drawer. "Because I'm such a smooth criminal."

"Seriously though," said Jamie through a mouthful of frozen chocolate and paper, "what's up with you and Kendall? Why was she dropping you off? And in the morning at that."

"Remember how I made an off hand comment about Bianca going to Poland? I was visiting Kendall at Fusion when Binks called to ask Kendall if she'd watch Miranda while she was gone. I ended up just crashing there instead of coming home," Maggie replied in the calmest and most logical of tones. One meant to bore Jamie and stop him from asking her questions she couldn't answer. Mostly because she honestly didn't know the answers. "That's that. No story, no scandal, no nothing."

Forcing the last bite of the frozen chocolate paper down, Jamie studied the girl he considered to be his closest friend and knew that wasn't the end of the story. But he wasn't going to force the issue, mostly because he could see how uneasy this conversation was making Maggie. He was a patient guy, so he'd settle for simply watching his friend and using her easily interpreted body language to provide most of the answers.

While Jamie already knew for certain that the changes in his friend revolved around Kendall and Maggie's sudden new relationship with her. Anyone, even a Junior Detective like him, could see that.

Other than her beautiful and brilliant niece, Kendall felt the world's most perfect creation was Burt's Bees Natural Herbal Shampoo. Why did she think this? Well, for a single reason mostly. The fact that Miranda loved, loved, and do I mean loved, grabbing, holding, tugging, and above all, chewing on her Aunt's fantastically curly and gorgeous hair.

And Burt's Bees Natural Herbal Shampoo was non toxic as well as surprisingly tasty. Don't ask how Kendall knew the latter. Lets just say that if she was going to let Miranda chew on the remnants of a beauty product then Kendall felt obligated to test it out herself. Simply to ensure it was truly safe.

The fact that the shampoo was unexpectedly scrumptious was an added bonus.

Part of her knew it was sad that she could hold an internal discourse on the varied benefits of having edible and delicious hair care products. Fortunately for Kendall, it was the part she was paying less attention to as time passed. The part that was responsible for creating an assortment of crazy schemes and a rather selfish outlook on life. Her close and genuinely caring relationships with her family was slowly but surely easing that element of her personality into submission.

Though it was clearly evident that Kendall would never be considered the nice and wholesome girl next door. Mostly because that very phrase made her shudder in utmost repulsion. It was not in her nature. She was a woman of fashion, grace, and style. Fit to walk the glamorous runways of Paris.

With her eight month old niece chewing on her hair the entire time. Much like she was doing now as Kendall exited the elevator to enter the offices of Fusion. Upon her arrival she was met by the stares of Greenlee, Ryan, and Jonathan.

Or what she liked to call the Tiresome Trio.

That wasn't a fair assessment, she knew, as Greenlee was no longer a source of frustration. Since Miranda's return to Bianca they had managed to regain their odd friends and sometimes enemies relationship. Which had occurred simply because Kendall had finally given up on Ryan. Once he was out of the picture, the women realized they had nothing to fight over.

Well, nothing important to fight over. They still enjoyed a good old fashioned verbal battle of the bitches. How could they not? It was such a fun and traditional pastime for them, after all.

In retrospect, Kendall was embarrassed by her actions involving Ryan and Greenlee. She wished she had the gift of foresight since it would have prevented their relationships from descending into such a twisted mess. Along with providing a particularly important piece of knowledge that was this...

Ryan wasn't worth it.

No man was worth it to be perfectly honest. Nobody was worth losing yourself to an overwhelming insecurity so powerful it changed who you really were. Nobody. Kendall had taken that lesson to heart with a ferocious conviction. But that didn't mean the barbs Ryan directed at her didn't hurt.

"You're late," Ryan chose to call attention to this fact in hopes of preventing himself from focusing on the beautiful sight Kendall made when holding her niece. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Especially not with Kendall beaming quietly at Miranda as she shifted the baby in her arms who continued to chew happily on her Aunt's hair. It was also hard to ignore how good she looked in the small sleeveless white shirt she wore and her form fitting v-cut black pants. "Do you have an explanation?"

"Bianca's in Poland," said Kendall, her eyes leveling him with their solemnity and strength. "She needed to be with Lena and I wanted to be there for her. I wanted to help her. Which is why I've been blessed with the incredible chance of watching Mimo until she and Babe get back. That," Kendall pronounced the word in tones that drowned in contempt, "is why I'm late. And if you ask me, in fact I think if you ask anyone with a heart, it's a very good reason. I'm only here to pick up a few things since I plan on working from Bianca's house until she gets back." Arching an eyebrow, Kendall drawled, "If I have permission from the great King Ryan, that is."

His face twisted into a dark scowl and Ryan opened his mouth to reply when Greenlee grabbed his arm and said, "Of course it's okay, Kendall. In fact, don't worry about collecting your things. If you really want to work from Bianca's house, I can bring you everything you need." Nodding at Miranda who was still busy in her habit of hair chewing, Greenlee smiled. "Besides, it looks like you'd have a hard time balancing Mimo and all that tedious piles of paperwork."

"She can be a handful," a smooth and charming voice declared.

Turning around, both Kendall and Miranda formed immediate smiles on seeing the figure of JR Chandler. Though many felt his actions involving Babe were unforgivable Kendall knew where JR was coming from. She understood him because in a lot of ways, she was him. That anger, that fear, that vulnerability. It took a lot to get them to trust someone and even more to love them and if that was betrayed? The person responsible had better pray for God's help because that was the only being with the ability to stop them when their minds were made up.

"JR," Kendall couldn't help but say his name with relief. Other than Zach Slater, more commonly known as Alex Cambias Junior, he was the person most adept at shutting Ryan up. He wasn't scared of Ryan in the least and wasn't shy in letting the other man know so. A trait that helped Kendall quite a bit in recent days. "It's good to see you."

"I could say the same thing," murmured JR, taking a step forward to tilt his head and smile softly at Miranda. "How are you doing, Princess?" On saying this, his voice lowered into a gentle and loving tone. "You behaving for your Aunt? I bet you are, just because I know it's nearly impossible for you to do otherwise." At this, Miranda finally released her iron grip on Kendall's hair and squealed before grabbing JR's hand that was tenderly resting on her cheek. Forming a heart breaking smile, he shifted his attention to Kendall. "You're watching her?"

"Lena's having something of a crisis in Poland," Kendall said rather hesitantly. She didn't like lying to JR but all the same she wasn't sure how much her sister would want revealed. Especially since her relationship with JR had been up in the air ever since she and Babe had made amends. "Babe wanted to go with Bianca for support so I got the lucky task of reporting for Mimo duty."

"Ah," said JR wisely. He smiled and dipped his head as Miranda pulled his thumb into her mouth to suck on. "That is lucky, isn't it?" Looking at Kendall with blue eyes that had a quiet plea held in them, JR murmured, "Do you think I could convince you lovely ladies into having breakfast with me?"

"Now wait just a minute," Ryan began obstinately.

Directing blue eyes that went from gentle to hard as steel, JR formed the trademark smirk he'd borrowed from his father. "I'm sure you're well aware that the personal decisions of your coworkers has nothing to do with you, Lavery," JR said his name derisively. "I know you consider yourself the champion of anything with feminine chromosomes but I can assure you that isn't the case. You're merely a sad excuse for a businessman. One I don't have time to deal with right now. Not when I have a chance to spend time with two of the best ladies in Pine Valley."

Whether in agreement with JR's words or maybe feeling the need to end tense mood in the room, Miranda reacted with a loud squeal and happy gurgle. On hearing it, JR's face turned back into a mask of gentle caring and Kendall smiled. No matter what he did, she knew one thing for certain about JR Chandler. He truly did love her niece and he loved her with the devotion of a father that any little girl would be lucky to have.

"I think that's an endorsement for breakfast," said Kendall, shifting Miranda in her arms as the baby returned to the task of chewing on her hair. "How about the Pine Valley Inn?"

"You read my mind," replied JR, smiling happily. He watched Kendall walk toward the elevator with Miranda before turning to face Ryan and the others. "I'll return later to have our discussion about your mismanagement of Chandler while it was in your control, Lavery. Use the time I've given you to prepare yourself because you have a hell of a lot to answer for."

Having said that, JR turned on his heel and walked into the elevator to join Kendall and Miranda. Rubbing her niece's back, Kendall said in understated observation, "You sure tore into Ryan pretty good back there. Was that about him or just the need to do that to someone?"

"A bit of both," JR confessed wryly. Leaning against the back wall of the elevator with a thump, he sighed. "I've been so lost since..." He trailed off as he looked at Miranda who wore a big infectious smile even with Kendall's hair in her mouth. JR's blue eyes glowed with affection for her and he continued, "Since I found out she wasn't mine and my little boy was gone."

"Then you're positive about that?" asked Kendall tentatively. She hadn't spoken with JR in quite awhile but the last time she had he was convinced Paul Cramer held the true information on what had happened to his child.

"Yeah," muttered JR hoarsely, squeezing his eyes shut. "Dad and I tore that town apart looking for the truth but nothing could be done without the Cramers and that baby."

"No one's been able to locate them and Ace?" Kendall frowned, thinking of the son of Kevin Buchanan, who was the last piece in the puzzle. Kelly and Paul disappeared with him into the night and with them gone, finding the truth was impossible.

"We've got people looking and so do the Buchanans," JR released an empty laugh and rubbed his eyes as they exited the elevator and walked to the parking lot. "It's strange, but Kevin and I are really good friends now. I guess we both have gone through the same things and we just... understand. But I have to tell you, Kendall, it's a war zone when you get his Mom and my Dad in the same room. Not to mention with that Dorian lady who's related to Paul and Kelly. That turns it into a royal disaster."

"Sounds like a close imitation of a Kane family Christmas," said Kendall, a smile tugging at her lips. Seeing JR wear the same look of sadness, she touched his arm and when his eyes lifted to meet hers, Kendall reached down to hold his hand. "Things will turn out all right," she reassured softly. "I know that may sound incredibly naive but after everything I've gone through I know life has a way of working itself out. And working out in a way that really is best for everyone involved."

Stopping by his car, JR rested his chin on the roof and fondly observed Kendall and Miranda. "You're probably right," he said, a smile forming on his face. "Even I can see that now." Then he leaned down to open his car door only to bring his head quickly up, the smile of his face increasing in huge proportions. "Oh! I forgot... I have something in here for her..." JR then disappeared into the car, leaning into it and searching the back seat while Kendall looked on. "I know it's in here somewhere. I got it for her a pretty long time ago but I kept forgetting to give it to Bianca..."

"JR, you don't have to give us anything," reassured Kendall. Despite her fairly weak protests, Kendall had to admit that JR's mood always improved with Miranda's presence. Then again, she could argue that about most anyone in Pine Valley.

"Found it!" said JR, sounding very triumphant. His blonde head popped out of his car and he held up a pink long sleeved shirt that said in sparkly cursive letters: Diaper Diva. "Well?" JR wore a silly smile and wiggled his eyebrows humorously. "Go on, try and tell me this isn't a shirt meant for the youngest generation of Kane women. Go on, I dare you."

"That," Kendall managed in between her boisterous laughter, "is truly hilarious. I have to put that on Mimo before seeing my Mother. I just know she'll be horrified. It's great, JR."

"Yes, I am great indeed," said JR, solemnly nodding his head and holding the t-shirt up against Miranda. "And just look how it complements her eyes. She's model worthy in it." In response to his words, Miranda cooed at him and chubby hands waved about before finally capturing the pink shirt in her hands. JR gave Kendall a knowing look and remarked, "Oh yeah. She's definitely a Kane woman. We just witnessed proof that she knows what's hers and exactly how to get it."

Fondly reaching out to hold his hand again, Kendall said, "Want to help me get her settled in the car seat?" Looking at Miranda who was wildly waving her new fashion item excitedly about, she laughed. "I think you got her a little riled up."

"Couture is always good for thrills," replied JR smoothly. Bowing halfway and holding his arm out, he declared, "Beautiful ladies first! Especially the ones with new fancy new clothing."

"Thank you kind sir," said Kendall, giving an exaggerated curtsy and heading to her car, laughing as JR ran to catch up to them. She was truly happy to be spending time with him again. They had so much in common and they honestly understood each other. Which gave Kendall a glimmer of hope.

Maybe their connection meant that JR could possibly explain her new and confusing feelings for Maggie. Something that Kendall found herself totally unable to do since they began. If he could then perhaps Kendall could decide what to do about them. Since as of right now, she had no idea.

And that unsettled her greatly.

Part 5

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