DISCLAIMER: Well unfortunately I don't own them. That honor goes to ABC, Agnes Nixon, and other people that certainly aren't me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ok, confession time. I've never written anything outside of primetime drama ficcage. That only includes Buffy, Roswell and Popular. I've been told though that I have a knack for the best friend pairings. So I figured since I've been so caught up in the goodness of BAM lately that I might as well try my hand at it. Fair warning, I tend to write completely in the first person. So please let me know if I'm getting inside Maggie's head deep enough, or if I'm poking around in the wrong places.
CREDITS: Songs used in this fic are credited to Clay Aiken, Celine Dion, Live and LeAnn Rimes, in that order. I’m just borrowing them, being the big ole music nut that I am.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Countdown to Midnight
By Casandra

What are you doing tonight
I wish I could be a fly on your wall
Are you really alone
Still in your dreams
Why can't I bring you into my life
What would it take to make you see that I'm alive

If I was invisible
Then I could just watch you in your room
If I was invisible
I'd make you mine tonight
If hearts were unbreakable
Then I can just tell you where I stand
I would be the smartest man
If I was invisible
(Wait..I already am)

I saw your face in the crowd
I called out your name
You don't hear a sound
I keep tracing your steps
Each move that you make
Wish I could be what goes through your mind
Wish you could touch me with the colors of your life

If I was invisible
Then I could just watch you in your room
If I was invisible
I'd make you mine tonight
If hearts were unbreakable
Then I can just tell you where I stand
I would be the smartest man
If I was invisible
(Wait..I already am)

I reach out
But you don't even see me
Even when I'm screaming
Baby, you don't hear me
I am nothing without you
Just a shadow passing through...

"Oh now that's just perfect!"

I reach up the couple of shelves and angrily turn the radio off. If my mood wasn't bad enough, that stupid DJ just had to play that song, didn't he? If these last couple of weeks haven't been hard enough, I just had to have the radio on. I just needed to calm my nerves didn't I? Story of my life. Bad timing, wrong people, wrong feelings. I've been feeling neglected enough lately, and that song certainly did nothing to make me feel better about this entire situation.

Of course that's assuming that I want to even acknowledge that there is a 'situation', which if I used my head instead of my heart, I would be sitting here not having a care in the world. But nope, I had to let that infamous Stone barrier down. Just enough so that I'm completely miserable right now. Love is hard enough, just normal family love. Or better yet, even friend love. It's when you mix the two together that you end up with a whole big mess of complications. And that's exactly what I've gone and done. I tried so hard, denied myself for so long, but in the end, the heart really does want what it wants. Even me, who was completely determined to never cross that line, has managed to go tumbling head over feet right past it.

I've managed to fall in love with my very best friend. My pregnant, semi romantically involved already, best friend. If I'm completely honest with myself, which seems to be a habit of mine these last few weeks, I can admit that I was already in love with her last winter. Even when I said I wasn't. Maybe if I really want to push it, I didn't exactly lie that day at the boathouse. I never said I wasn't in love with Bianca, I said I loved her a few times in fact. I just *had* to tack on those three incredibly stupid words though. 'I'm into guys'.

Ok sure, I've had relationships with men before. And yeah, my entire history in the romance department has been with the male species. But I have never, ever, felt as connected to anyone as I do to Bianca. It's almost like a force of nature between us, the chemistry, the spark, that I feel everytime I'm in her presence. It's so hard to describe because I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to base it on. But I know it's there, and I know it's real. And I know it's like nothing I've ever experienced before. And it's without a doubt something I'm not willing to give up without a fight. Especially not to someone who started her relationship with Bianca as a con to help her future rapist.

Bitter much? Absolutely. But it goes beyond that, because if I honestly put myself to the test, I'm not good enough for Bianca either. Although I'm of the thinking that no one would be good enough for as pure a soul as her. She radiates goodness, it's like a beacon that shines from her eyes. The warmth and love in her heart is endless. And sometimes I worry that her kindness is going to get her into trouble with the wrong person. Because not everyone appreciates the beauty of Bianca. Case in point, Michael Cambias. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have backed off with that knife at Erica's non wedding. Self defense would have been in the back of my mind. I wanted to make him hurt the way he made my Bianca hurt. But having her standing there terrified, my only thought was to protect her from the immediate danger. And the idea that she would have to witness her best friend commit an act as brutal as what Michael did to her? I don't even want to think about the fallout that would have caused.

It's of no consequence now though, someone made sure of that. I'd like to pretend that I care who murdered that sick bastard, but I don't really. Sure I could make a few guesses, it's easy enough considering how long the suspect list is, but it wouldn't really matter to me who it was. Because as long as Michael Cambias is burning in hell, just like he should be, then I can be at peace with the situation. Bianca on the other hand seems less than satisfied with the investigation. Because she knows that whoever did kill him, more than likely did it for her, to protect her. And again I come to the thought that I wish it *had* been me. Bianca knows I love her, of that I'm sure. After everything that we've been through together the last six months, she absolutely *has* to know that. But there are times that I think if I had been the one to take Michael out of this world, she might understand just how deep my love for her runs.

But that's a completely irrational thought. Because the only thing it would do is cause her to look at me with something akin to disappointment. And that's putting it mildly. Bianca, no matter how much that man hurt her, would never condone a murder. So in the end, I would have lost her for good I think. Which makes me wish sometimes that Lena was the actual murderess. It would be so much easier than actually having to compete with her for Bianca's heart. Because I'm honestly not sure at all where I stand in the grand scheme of chances here. I blew my first chance with Bianca almost a year ago. Blew it because of fear, because of doubt, at this point I'm not even sure myself anymore why I said what I said that day. All I know is that I regret it. And regrets get you nowhere. I've figured that out the entire time I blamed myself for not being there for Bianca while I was all wrapped up trying to prove something with Henry. It doesn't change anything, it doesn't make anything better. And it certainly doesn't take any of the pain away, in fact it can make it all that much worse. So I've stopped regretting the things I've done, and most of all, the things I've prevented myself from doing. If I want to be with Bianca, to prove to her that I love her, that we can be just as great together as she thought we would be last winter, then I'm going to have to be proactive about it. And sitting here listening to the radio and running loops around in my head is not getting me anywhere. It's time to take the Polish fox to task.

I must have fallen asleep on the sofa, because the last thing I remember before passing out is clicking off the radio and coming to a few conclusions in regards to my love life, or lack thereof. I feel a soft tickle on the side of my cheek, and I wonder if that gas explosion blew out a window in the apartment that I hadn't noticed, letting a small draft in here to waft over me. I begrudgingly open my eyes, still half asleep, and mentally exhausted after last night, to the vision of an angel before me.

"Hey there sleepyhead." Bianca is still stroking my cheek as I move to sit up a bit. Well I don't have to worry about that blown out window. Her touch was so soft and gentle it really did feel like wisps of air floating across my face.

"When did you get back?" I try desperately to keep the edge out of my tone. The last time I saw Bianca she was snuggled down on the couch at the Chandler carriage house, making google eyes at Lena. I had about as much as I could stand after an hour, when I told Bianca I was leaving to get a jump start on the cleanup at our apartment. I gave her a quick hug and bolted out of there as fast as my feet would carry me. If I had to bear witness to one more of Lena's adoring looks directed toward Bianca, I knew I would do something stupid. And I did clean almost all of the mess up. Everything is back in it's rightful place, there's just a lot of dirt clinging to things that really needs to be scrubbed. And I really did mean to get to it last night. But Bianca thoughts just kind of ran away with me. That's been happening to me a lot lately. When I study. When I'm in class even. Thank god finals are over, or I'd be in a whole lot of trouble right about now.

"Just now actually. Maggie, you did an amazing job with this place! How late were you up working on all of this, you look completely exhausted!" Bianca scoots my legs more towards the back of the couch so she can sit on the edge next to me. I can feel the heat, the spark, passing between us. It's always the same, every single time our bodies touch. A wave of heat passes from her body to mine. I wonder if she feels it too?

"Nah, I'm fine. It wasn't too late when I must have dozed off. I wanted to make sure everything was as back to normal as I could get it before you got home." The last thing she needs right now, being in her second trimester already, is to come home and have to clean up after an explosion. God, only in Pine Valley.

"Maggie," She pauses to trace the black circles I know have to be under my eyes. "You know you didn't have to do this all alone. I could have helped you today."

"No way Bianca, I wasn't about to let you go traipsing around this apartment picking up after a gas explosion when you're almost 6 months pregnant!" That is something that I was certainly not willing to do, even if it meant she spent all that time with Lena instead. Speaking of that. "What time is it anyway?"

Bianca, who's hand moved from my face to my shoulder sometime during my little outburst, lifts her other hand up and checks her watch. "A little after eleven, but that's besides the point. Maggie, you're not my babysitter, or my bodyguard for that matter. I'm not an invalid, I can still do things that require a little physicality you know."

Well I certainly hope she wasn't busy doing anything physical last night with Lena while I was here busting my butt to get this place fixed up for her. Wonderful, now I have those lovely images running around in my head. Perfect way to start off this day, that's for sure. And I know I may be a bit overprotective of her, but it's only because I love her so much. I don't see her jumping all over Lena when she makes a comment about her health. Yep, there's that familiar pang of jealousy again. God, I'm starting to get way too many of those lately.

"You know I just worry about you Bianca. I'm sorry if I've been all mother hen around you, but you have to take care of yourself. And if that means I get a heavier workload when things happen, then so be it." I pause and lean over, placing my hand gently on her midsection, where I can feel under the material of her shirt, the slight slope of her expanding belly. "I just want to make sure this little bambino and her mommy are in perfect health. Can you understand that?" I glance up to meet her eyes, taking in the glorious depths of her chocolate orbs. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and in this moment, I am a definite believer. There is nothing but pure love and kindness radiating from hers, and that is the epitome of who Bianca is.

I'm so entranced that I barely have time to register what she's doing before I feel her vault herself into my arms for a huge bear hug. We've been very affectionate lately, to the point where we almost always in physical contact when we're together. It's actually something I've come to treasure these last few months. "I understand, I really do. I'm sorry I snapped, it's just been a strange morning already, and with everything that happened yesterday, I feel a little off balance." She pulls back to look me in the eyes again. "I don't know what I'd do without you here with me Maggie. You're my rock, you know that?" And before I even have a chance to acknowledge that I do in fact know, she pulls me back into the hug. Not that I'm complaining of course. Being in Bianca's arms is like heaven on earth to me. There's really nothing like it in the world. Or at least, in MY world. So I'm content to stay here for as long as she allows.

"Oh that reminds me!" I can't imagine what hugging me reminded her of. Now I'm curious. "I talked to Mom this morning before I came home. You know, I bet if I had my cell with me she would have been calling me all night long!" Bianca has a very good point. Although, I might have been doing the same thing, just to make sure Lena wasn't putting the moves on her while she had a concussion. Whoa hey look, there's the little green guy again. Ugh. "Did you know there isn't going to be a Crystal Ball this year?"

"No, how come?" That kind of sucks, because I would have loved to see Bianca all dressed up for a New Years party. Although it would have been rather hard to hide her growing tummy in what I could imagine her wearing.

"Not sure really, but Mom said there's some big party at the Valley Inn instead. Apparently Uncle Jack already asked her to go with him. Isn't that great Maggie!?"

"Wow, so they might just end up together after all. But wait a second, what about David?" As much as I'm not a fan of Erica and my cousin dating, I don't want to see him hurt either. And I know he has a antagonistic relationship with Jackson at best. I'm sure he's not going to be happy when he hears about this.

"Actually, I never thought of that. Sorry Maggie, I was so excited about Mom and Uncle Jack that I didn't even consider where David fit into all this." Aww, now I made her all upset. Can't be having that.

"It's ok, I'm sure he'll be fine. After all, from what I've been told, he's had his share of partying the last few years." Oh boy the stories I've heard about David. And yet, I still love the guy, for as wicked as some of the schemes he's pulled, he's always been right there for me. And for Bianca now too.

"That's for sure!" A giggling Bianca is probably the most precious thing there is. When she laughs she sounds like she's five years old again. Before the cruelty of the last few years had their chance to make their mark on her innocent soul. I hate that she laughs less now, it breaks my heart to think Michael took part of that innocence away from her. "So anyway, I was wondering if you'd be my shopping buddy. I need to find a dress that won't show my little bundle of joy here." She reaches down and mimics my actions from before, gently tracing the contours of her stomach. I guess I will get to see her dressed up for New Years after all.

"Sure, but you know, you ARE Erica Cain's daughter. I wouldn't think you'd need my help picking out clothes."

She rolls her eyes playfully at me. "Maggie, you're coming to the party too." Bianca pauses for a minute. Actually, I didn't realize I was being invited. "You are coming, right? I can't spend New Years without you, especially considering what we've been through together this last year. We have to be together on New Years Eve!" Well now, how can I say no to that? Like I would really want to anyway. Spend the night here alone holed up in front of the TV watching Dick Clark and his wife making out when the ball drops in Times Square. Or spending the evening with Bianca. Tough call, really.

"Well when you say it like that, how can I refuse? Actually, I can't think of a better way to spend the night, just the two of us." Ok, what did I say? Bianca looks incredibly uncomfortable all of a sudden. I thought she wanted me to come?

"Actually Maggie, it won't just be the two of us." Huh? Ok, she's completely lost me here.

"But you just said......."

"I kind of have a date for the party, Lena asked me this morning if she could escort me."

"Oh." Wait a second! This morning! As in Lena spent the entire night with Bianca? Ok, calm down Maggie, maybe she just went back this morning to check on her, like I should have done if I hadn't been snoozing away here on the couch. "So Lena came back to the carriage house this morning then?" That has to be it, right?

"Umm, no, not exactly. Lena actually spent the night with me there."

I can literally feel my heart shattering within my chest. I never realized how close I really was to losing her all over again to Lena, not at least until this very moment. So much for being proactive about winning her heart. It looks like my chance is gone before I even had it.

Ok, I just don't get Maggie lately. One minute we're sitting here on the couch together, next thing I know she's bustling around the kitchen making coffee. I keep getting this strange vibe off of her, and it's the strongest whenever I mention Lena. Or more precisely, anything having to do with mine and Lena's relationship. Maggie gets all nervous, and that's putting it rather mildly. It's like she does anything she can to tune out any and all details when it comes to us. And I just don't get it. I understand that she's not the biggest fan of Lena, but I just assumed that stemmed from her overprotectiveness when it comes to me.

As much as I can get annoyed at the constant hovering, I have to admit that having Maggie all worried about me warms me to the core. Knowing that she's there for me, whenever I need her, and that she loves and cares for me, it's like nothing else in this world. Sure, everyone has been very supportive, Mom, Kendall, Uncle Jack, Lena. But no one has come close to what Maggie has done for me. The only reason I'm still here, still safe and sane, and carrying this baby, is because Maggie supported me. She made all the difference for me these last six months.

So now I can't help but worry because it feels at times that she's pulling away from me again, the same way she did last winter after our talk at the boathouse. Oh how I wish I hadn't pushed her to define our relationship. I've regretted that day ever since it happened. I've always wondered, even when I was with Lena and Maggie was with Henry, if I hadn't pushed her, would things have progressed past friendship between us naturally. There are times, especially in the last few weeks, that I feel like Maggie could want more from me than what we have now. I know she'd never make the first move. After everything that's happened since this summer, if I know anything, it's that Maggie would never take a chance on something that she thinks could ever possibly hurt me.

Of course I'm probably just full of wishful thinking. I'm slowly starting to work towards getting back together with Lena, and all I can seem to think of lately is where Maggie and I stand. I love Lena, I really do. The real question is, am I IN love with her? And is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time. I don't think so, and that's what leads me to believe that while I may love Lena, I can't possibly be in love with her. Considering the fact my heart is still completely owned by my best friend. Who just happens to be avoiding any eye contact with me whatsoever as she putts around the kitchen getting me all my morning vitamins that she insists I take. And of course decaf coffee, can't forget that it's decaf. I spent the first few weeks after Maggie found out I was still pregnant going through caffeine withdrawal because she watched me like a hawk when it came to coffee and soda. I was really quite annoyed with her at the time, but now it's just all that much more endearing that she was taking care of me, and looking after me and my little girl here when I was too overwhelmed by everything to even think about things like that.

I stand up from the couch and head over to the divider between the living room and the kitchen, leaning against it and continue watching her fly about getting everything ready for breakfast. Before she has a chance to actually start cooking something though I stop her. "Coffee is fine Maggie, I already ate."


Again with the single word answers. What is up with her? "Yeah, Lena and I stopped off at BJ's before she dropped me off and we got some pancakes." I look directly at her as I say it, watching for any kind of weird reaction, the type that seem to be happening more and more frequently.

She stops pouring sugar in her own coffee for a second and meets my glance. "So I guess you guys are back together again?"

What do I say to that? I know what Lena wants. And we do technically have a date for New Years Eve, one of the most romantic nights of the year. But are we back together? Not quite yet I don't think. And one of the main reasons why not is standing five feet in front of me, looking incredibly vulnerable all of a sudden.

"No, not really. It was just breakfast Maggie, you and I have breakfast almost every morning together." If I stop and think about that, sometimes we remind me of a domesticated married couple. Oh how I wish.

"It must have been more than just breakfast, you said she spent the night with you Bianca." Well now, there was no hiding the irritated tone in her voice that time. What in the world is up with her? Ohhh, wait a second, she thinks Lena and I......that we.....oh boy!

"No! Well I mean yes, Lena did spend the night, but not like you're thinking. We didn't........ she slept in another room, nothing happened." And to be honest, it's really not any of Maggie's business if I got back together with my girlfriend or not. Like I told her before, she's not my keeper. But there's something going on in that beautiful head of hers that makes me want to reassure her. I just wish she'd open up to me and tell me why she's acting the way she is. We used to be able to share everything with each other, no secrets. But the last month or so that's changed. She's guarded around me for some reason.

"Oh." She places my coffee down in front of me as she says it. God, when did she become so monosyllabic?! Enough with this.

"Ok, what in the world is up with you? First you bolt out of the room every time Lena and I are together. Then you just take off last night barely saying goodbye to me before you were out the door."

"I told you I came back here to clean up so you wouldn't have to!" Maggie cuts me off.

I wave my hand in the air to stop her before she can jump into her defensive mode. "I know, and you did an amazing job. But Maggie, it's not just this. Something is going on with you, I can tell. I've known you long enough that I can easily see when something isn't right. And I'm positive it's not the third wheel thing that you keep saying. There's something else going on." I pause and look down a bit, trying to conceal the hurt I know is shining through in my eyes. "We used to be able to tell each other anything, what's changed?"

Maggie puts her coffee down and walks over to me, taking my hands in her own in comfort. "Nothing has changed Bianca. I just, I have a lot of stuff going on inside my head, but it's nothing for you to worry about. I just have to deal with it on my own."

Now that's where she's wrong. After everything we've been through together the last six months, does she really think I'm going to let this go so easily? I need her to know that I am fully capable of helping her handle things, just like she's helped me. "Maggie, I don't want you to have to deal with things on your own. That's what being best friends is all about, I thought I had drilled that into you by now?" I tried to slide a little humor into the conversation, because I'm starting to feel like there is a much deeper issue here, and honestly, I'm not sure either of us is ready to get into something like that now. Not after all the trauma of last night. And if I want to be honest, I still have a bit of a headache from that concussion.

Maggie refuses to meet my gaze and to my disappointment, pulls her hands free from mine. "Look, lets just drop it for now, ok? You were hurt last night, and all this arguing can't be good for your head." Here I didn't realize we were arguing. But she does have a point. The stress is starting to make my headache turn into a bit of a throbbing pain behind my eyes.

"Alright fine. And you're right, my head is starting to bother me a bit." Before I have a chance to even try and rub away the tension, Maggie is pulling me off the stool and guiding me back to the sofa.

"Come on, sit down and let me see." I don't even have a chance to produce a mild protest before she has my head in her lap, massaging my temples and gently running her fingers through my hair. Not that I would have really minded this anyway.

That's one of the things that I absolutely love about living with Maggie. Ever since we moved in together, the lines between us have blurred to the point that we're almost as intimate as any domesticated married couple. Of course with a few exceptions here and there. Exceptions that I have to admit, if included, would make this living arrangement completely perfect. But our relationship has become rock solid. At least I think so. And for that, I couldn't be more thankful, even if the circumstances that brought us here were so painful.

Maggie's magic fingers have me almost lulled into a light sleep when I feel her shift a bit to look me in the eyes. "Does it really mean that much to you if I go to this party or not?" I can't help but smile a bit at the sound of vulnerability in her voice.

I'm tempted to move from my position to face her directly, but I'm just so content to stay where I am, my head cushioned in her lap, that I decide staying right here isn't a problem. "Absolutely. Maggie, you are a huge part of my life." I stop for a moment, trying to decide if I should say what was ready to come out. At this point, it doesn't really matter, because part of me knows, or at least hopes, that she already understands it. "In fact, next to this baby, you're the most important thing to me. You know that right?"

I look into her chocolate orbs and I'm surprised by the silver tears starting to edge their way out. Maggie isn't the biggest crier, so I know when she does that something really must be getting to her. As the tears one by one start to slowly trace a salty track down her cheek, I reach up and gently stroke them away, cupping her face in my palm in the process. "Mags, shhh, don't cry. I didn't mean to make you cry."

She sniffles a bit and reaches up to scrub away the tear streaks. "No, it's ok. It's just, I didn't know that, I didn't realize I was *that* important. But now I do. And you know I without a doubt feel the same way, don't you Bianca? You and this little girl of yours." Now that I did know. She shows it to me in everything she does. And I love her so much for it. For everything.

And it still amuses me how she's completely convinced that I'm having a girl. I don't know why she's got it into her head. Not that I'm complaining, because I'm hoping she's right. I'd love to have a baby girl. Even if I won't be using Maggie's suggestion of Latifah as a name. I have been giving it some thought though, and I'm honestly tempted by Margaret. But I think that might be pushing it. There's only room for one Maggie in my life, besides the fact that it might be rather telling if I named my child after her. I love the idea of Mona as well, I loved my grandmother so much, and honoring her that way would make me feel that much closer to her. Then of course there's Frankie, for a boy or a girl really. Sometimes the guilt sets in though, reminding me of the fact that I fell in love with my dead girlfriend's twin sister. But I know Frankie understands. I also know though that she hated the name Mary Francis, so I'm thinking Frankie would have to be for a boy. I wonder how Maggie would feel if I named my baby Frankie? Other than her joke about Latifah, we've never really discussed names. Maybe she felt it wasn't her place?


Huh? I'm a bit lost here. Although to my own credit, I was off in my own head for who knows how long, so I at least have an excuse. Not a good one, but one just the same.


"I said ok. If it really means that much to you, I'll go to the party." Before she has a chance to continue I throw myself into her arms for a huge bear hug.

"Thank you Maggie! You don't know how happy I am!" I reluctantly break away from the hug to give her a thousand watt smile. "So whaddya say we go shopping this afternoon for dresses? Just the two of us?"

"Not before you go and take a nap to get rid of that headache. Besides the baby, you need to take it easy after last night." I pout a bit, but I suppose she's right, I really don't want to overdo it. And after all, she is the future Doctor Stone, so I guess I really should be listening to her.

"Fine, but as soon as I wake up, we're hitting the shops to look for the perfect dresses. You're going to need to help me make sure that I don't get something that shows I've got a baby on board." The last thing I need is for someone to notice that I'm starting to show at this party. And with Mom and Uncle Jack coming, I know I have to be extra careful. So who better to have with me then Maggie.

:I get up off of the couch to go lay down on my bed, leaning down as I do so to give Maggie a quick peck on the forehead. "Thank you so much Maggie. You'll see, it'll be a great time. The best New Year's yet!"

I don’t know how I let myself get talked into these things. No wait, that’s not true. I know exactly how it happens. Because I just can’t say no to Bianca. Whatever she wants, she gets, at least when it comes to my willpower. So that’s why I’m sitting here in one of the numerous boutiques downtown, waiting to see what Bianca comes up with next for me to wear. Not that I’m all that bored really, because at least I’m getting see her try on different dresses of her own. That’s been really quite fun, I have to admit. If I thought she was gorgeous before, she’s even moreso now, almost six months into her pregnancy. She really is glowing. I wasn’t making that up when I told her that all those weeks ago. And add to the fact that she’s been changing in and out of all sorts of glittery evening gowns, well then, glowing certainly seems like it applies.

"Hello, earth to Maggie. You in there somewhere?" Bianca jolts me out of my daze with a small tap against my forehead.

"What, are you surprised it's not hollow?" I smirk up at her, until of course I get a better look at what she's wearing. My God! She looks phenomenal. Not that she doesn't normally of course, but wow, that dress is just amazing!

"So, what do you think?" For emphasis she does a little twirl to show me the 360 version. Yep, wow, that's about as articulate as I can get right now. This one is definitely the keeper.

"I think that this is definitely the dress you should wear. I mean come on, you look downright hot!" Ok, I did NOT just say that, right? I mean sure I was thinking it, but I do have some self control. At least I used to. The sensor should still be up there, filtering which things I can and cannot tell my incredibly gorgeous best friend.

Bianca blushes a bit, before tucking a small strand of ebony hair behind her ear. She really must be trying to turn me into a puddle of mush here. "Really? You can't tell little Latifah here is on board can you?"

I giggle a bit at that for a moment. I love how we keep referring to her with my little joke after all these months. Poor kid though, really. "Absolutely not, it hugs in all the right places, but it keeps her well hidden. Don't worry about it at all Bianca, you look absolutely stunning." I'm certainly not holding back with the compliments today it seems. But maybe that'll help Bianca to come back out of her shell. It's slowly starting to happen, has been for a while now. But every little bit helps I suppose.

"Maggie......." Again her cheeks turn a sweet shade of pink.

"Binks, come on, that's the one!"

"Ok, if you insist. I just hope Lena likes it."

Ouch. I have to admit, that hurt, it really did. All of this just to make sure Lena likes her outfit? Please. The only person who needs to be comfortable wearing it is Bianca. It shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks. If I would have known she was dressing for Lena, I would have grabbed that gray velvet long sleeved dress. Something my grandmother would have worn. Not what Bianca has on now. Whew boy, there's my little green friend again.

"So, now that we have my dress we need to find one for you. You're so picky Maggie, I swear it'll take us until New Year's just to find something you like." Bianca smacked my arm a bit in playful exasperation.

"Well I'm starving, so no more hunting for the perfect duds until after a big plate of nachos at SOS, what do you say?" I extend my elbow out to her as she picks up her dress bag from the clerk.

"I'd say that I love how your mind works!" Bianca replied looping her arm through mine and pulling me towards the door. Ohh boy, if she could read my mind lately, I'm not so sure she'd be feeling the same way.

We make our way down the block to my car, still walking arm in arm. Just as we reach the curb and I go to unlock the passenger side for her I feel her tug me on the arm to halt me. "Oh wait a second! I left my wallet sitting on the counter in there. I'll be right back Maggie." She goes to walk back to the store when I pull her back towards the car, opening up the door for her and ushering her to sit.

"You wait here and take a load off. You've been on your feet all afternoon, I know they must be killing you by now." She blushes a bit at that, telling me what I already knew. She's just too stubborn to admit that this pregnancy really is starting to affect her day to day life. Two months ago we could have spent all day off at the Jersey shore walking the beach all day. Like we did last year during summer break. Now though, she needs to take it easy. For both her and her daughter's sake. And of course, Aunt Maggie makes sure of it.

I close the door to the car and turn around, trotting back to the dress shop midway down the block. As I walk up to the counter the clerk behind it gives me a small smile, while she bends a bit under the counter to retrieve Bianca's forgotten wallet. "I had a feeling someone might be missing this."

"Yeah, sorry about that. Thanks for putting it in a safe place though."

"Oh no problem miss, it happens more often than you'd think. It was very sweet of you to come get it for your girlfriend though." Well I know it's not the first time that's happened, but it still throws me off whenever someone misinterprets our relationship. One of us usually corrects the person. With Bianca out in the car though, what's the harm, right?

"Anything for my girl." Well now, that certainly isn't denying anything. But really, that's how I feel, even if Binks' isn't technically 'my' girl. Yet.

I thank the sales woman again before hurrying out the door, eager to get back to Bianca. Plus, I really AM pretty starved. Just as the door is closing behind me though I hear it. That unmistakable accent. I turn around slowly, dreading to see who I already know is on the other side of the glass. Lena and I look gazes for a split second. One thing I've always disliked about her most is that I can never seem to read her at all. But I'm not having that trouble right now. Pure green fire is spitting from her eyes, locked onto me like heat seeking missiles. Not wanting to subject myself any longer, I quickly close the distance to my car, hopping into the driver's side and gunning the engine, not even taking the time to hand Bianca back her wallet until I'm safely at least a block away from my previous parking space.

"Maggie?" I glance over to Bianca, handing her back her forgotten wallet in the process.

"Something up Binks?" I knew she was about to ask me if I was ok. So why not beat her to the punch.

"I could ask you the same thing. You came out of that dress shop all freaked out."

Like I can really tell her that her almost-but-not-quite-girlfriend overheard me telling the sales clerk that she's my girl. Yep, that would go over so very well. "Everything is fine, you know how I get when I'm hungry."

"If you're sure..." I can tell Bianca doesn't quite believe me. But now is not the time to go into all of this. I'm sure Lena will have a few words for me next time I see her. Oh boy, this New Year's Eve is certainly going to be interesting. For all of us.

I had just finished applying the final touches to my makeup when I heard Maggie yell for me to hurry it up. For about the tenth time now. I mean really, it's New Year's Eve, a girl has got to look her best. Besides the fact that I have to take extra care to make sure that everything that shouldn't be visible, stays completely hidden under my ensemble. It's times like these that I'm very happy to be the daughter of Erica Kane, the great fashionista. At least it taught me some tricks to her trade.

On my way out of the washroom I grab the wrap I planned to wear tonight. After all, December in Pine Valley has been known to be rather nippy. And the last thing I need is to come down with a cold right now. And if I wouldn't have thought to wear something over my dress, Maggie certainly would have. Nothing seems to get under her radar when it comes to making sure I'm taken care of. Just yet another reason why I love her so much.

"Bianca! It's already almost 10! At the rate we're going we're gonna miss the........." Maggie stops mid sentence as I walk out into the living room to meet her. I never realized how well she can do a fish out of water impersonation. Although I suspect I must be doing a fair good job of that myself. She just looks absolutely stunning!

"Wow, I mean, just wow! Bianca, you look positively gorgeous!" I blush at that, nervously tucking a errant strand of hair behind my right ear. I don't understand, I mean, she was with me when I bought the dress, she's seen me in it before. Why the sudden glassy eyed admiration now? Or period really. Although I can't remember ever seeing Maggie look at me quite the way she is right now. I can feel my heart start to beat a loud cadence within my chest. The look in her eyes as she stares transfixed at me is both un-nerving and incredibly exciting all at the same time.

"Maggie stop, you've seen me in it already. You don't have to lay it on so thick!" I giggle a bit to cover my nervousness. But I suspect she can probably see right through me.

Maggie crosses the distance between us quickly, but once she reaches my side I can see she hesitates a bit. "I'm not exaggerating at all Binks. You look radiant." She reaches up a bit and ever so softly runs the back of her fingers across my cheek. "Lena is the luckiest woman in the world tonight." She pulls her hand away quickly, almost as if she had been singed by our contact. And for the hundredth time in recent weeks I wonder just what is going on between Maggie and Lena. I'm sure they think I don't notice the tension that exists when all three of us are together. But honestly, it's very hard not to. They really don't hide it all that well.

"Well Mags, you don't look so bad yourself." And that's putting it very mildly. I wasn't with Maggie when she got her dress. After our nacho binge I started getting a little tired. And Dr. Stone wouldn't even think of going shopping for her outfit until after I had come home to get some rest. Even though I had slept a bit earlier in the day. She finally convinced me that she'd just go the next day after having lunch with David. Although I was disappointed that I wouldn't get to help her pick, the surprise more than makes up for it.

"You think?" She looks at me questioningly, running her hands over her hips in silent appraisal of herself. Come on, can she not tell that she looks totally amazing?! I never realized how good she looks in purple. Although now that I think about it, I can't remember ever seeing her wear much of the color. The dress itself is a form fitting number, with a deep V cut in the front, revealing her year round tan, not to mention plenty of cleavage. I can't help but concentrate on that fact for a moment. Until I'm pulled out of my rather naughty thoughts by Maggie's insistent perusal of her body. I never thought she was that insecure when it came to how she looked. Well it's time to stop that right now.

"Maggie, you look downright hot!" I reply forcefully, but with a small smirk etching across my lips. Did she really think I'd forget she called me hot in the dress boutique? Besides, it's fun throwing the stuff she teases me with, back at her.

Maggie starts giggling a bit, but I can still see the touch of pink on her cheeks. Oh yeah, I got her! "Ok, now that we've sufficiently boosted each other's ego's, are you ready?" She extends her elbow out to me, and suddenly I'm flashing back to Prom night. I remember doing the exact same thing to her that night. Maybe it's the formal wear, or maybe it's just the slightly mischievous smile on my best friend's face. But if tonight is anything like that night was, it's sure to be one to remember.

I loop my arm through hers and still attached, turn around to lock the door behind us. "So tell me again why Lena is meeting us there?" Again!? This is at least the fifth time I've explained to Maggie why we're meeting at the Valley Inn instead of the three of us all going together. I swear, each time she asks, she sounds more and more nervous. I'm beginning to wonder if they had an argument that I wasn't privy to.

"Ok, for the absolute last time. She had a job interview down in Philly this afternoon, and instead of making me wait in case she got held up, she told me to just have you take me and we'd meet there." I have to admit, that it was an awfully flimsy excuse. Especially on such short notice. The interview probably didn't just come out of nowhere, so I can't understand why it would have taken her until this morning to let me know about it. Again, I can't help but think that something happened between Maggie and Lena. Between Lena's sudden job prospect and Maggie's incredibly suspicious behavior, you'd have to be blind not to notice that something was up.

"But she IS meeting us there?"

"Yes! Maggie what in the world is going on with you?!" Normally my patience is never-ending, but this is just getting to be too much.

"What? Can't I just be concerned about you? I mean it's not the nicest thing to leave your girlfriend alone on New Year's Eve just for a stupid job." Yikes, could she spew just a tad bit more venom into her words?

"First of all, she is NOT my girlfriend. You know that. Second of all, she did NOT leave me alone! Do I look like I'm alone here?" I glance over at her in the passenger seat of the car, our conversation certainly not speeding us along to the party. So as I argued with her I started making my way to my car. Thankfully she didn't fight me on who got to drive. Otherwise I think we'd still be standing in front of our apartment door. "Maggie come on, would you please tell me what's going on. And I'm not an idiot, so don't even try to dodge around it." I turn to her and gently plead with my eyes, trying to get her to open up to me. It hasn't been this hard in months. Ever since my attack, Maggie and I have been glued to each other's hip, and we've been able to share just about everything with each other. I've never had a more open relationship with anyone, the way I do, or if right now is any indication, did, with Maggie.

"Bianca, it's nothing, really. I just want to make sure that she takes good care of you, that's all." Maggie turns to meet my gaze as I hand the valet my car keys.

I walk around to the passenger side of the car where Maggie is waiting for me, taking both of her hands into my own warm palms. "Maggie, *you* take good care of me. Like no one ever has. Unless of course this is your way of getting out?" With that I drop her hands and head into the lobby of the Valley Inn, leaving Maggie standing out in the cold. If she wants to pull away, then I can do the same thing. I don't like stooping to this level, but it's the only way I can get her to open back up to me. And finally get her to share what's been going on in that gorgeous head of hers these last few weeks.

Oh God! Please don’t let her be thinking that I want to get away from her! That’s the absolute last thing in the world I would ever want. Doesn’t she know that by now?

I guess not, considering that I’ve totally clammed up the last month or so. As well as we know each other, I can’t expect her to be able to read my mind. Well, now that I stop and think about that, I’m certainly glad she can’t. She’d be the one begging to get out of this friendship if that were the case.

“Miss? Miss, it’s awfully cold out here. Maybe you should be heading inside?” I’m broken out of my internal panic by the older gentleman standing inside the valet booth. And I realize that I must look like a complete idiot, standing out here staring into space. I smile slightly and wave my hand to him in thanks, before heading into the lobby, casually glancing around to make sure no one I know saw me making an ass out of myself out front.

:”Maggie!” Oh no, this is the last thing I need right now. Especially if she saw my little show outside.

I turn around to see Erica marching towards me, Jackson in tow. Well at least she’s not scowling at me, that’s a good sign that I’m not in for some tongue lashing. “Erica, what’s up?”

“Maggie, have you seen Bianca? She said something about coming with you and Lena.” I can’t help but smile internally at the way Erica almost chokes out Lena’s name. I guess that’s at least one point in my favor. Erica approves of Lena about as much as I do.

“Yeah, we came together. Lena’s meeting us here. Why, is something the matter?”

“Oh no, nothing’s wrong, I just wanted to know how my baby was doing. I haven’t really gotten to see much of her since Christmas.” I can’t help but feel a little sad for Erica. Bianca has been distancing herself from her mother, moreso now than before. She doesn’t want to take the chance that Erica will notice her ever-growing belly. “Tell me Maggie, is Bianca doing ok? I know she confides in you, and I know that you do everything in your power to make sure she’s looked after.” I glance up at her sharply when she says that. Oh boy, I think Mama Kane might be on to me, if that look is any indication. “It’s not Lena is it? Are they seeing each other again? Is that why she’s been so unreachable lately?” Ok, how do I manage to get myself into situations like this? Oh, that’s right, by getting into a fight with my best friend! Nice going Maggie.

“Really, it’s nothing I’m sure. She’s been doing just fine, I promise.” I glance up and see my salvation making his way into the ballroom. “If you’ll excuse me I see my cousin over there. I’d like to go wish him a Happy New Year.” I smile at the couple before dashing off to catch David before he can get lost in the crowd of party goers. "David!"

"Hey Maggie! Long time no see." He reaches out and grasps me up in a big bear hug. David gives some of the best hugs. Of course maybe that's because he's one of the few people in this world that I know loves me, so that just makes them all that more special to me. But I can't help feeling a bit guilty at his words. I know I've cut him off a bit the last few weeks. I honestly can't say why either, except for the fact that he knows me almost as well as Bianca does. And that worries me because David is probably one of the first people that could figure out that I've managed to fall head over heels in love with my best friend. The interesting thing though, is that I'm starting to feel like maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing anymore. David loves *both* of us, so he might just be the ideal person to talk to about this. He'd have an unbiased opinion, and he can really be insightful when he wants to be.

"I know, I'm sorry. It's just there's been a lot going on lately." Maybe I should have phrased that better, because he immediately gets a panicked look across his face.

He gently ushers us to a much less crowded area of the ballroom, making sure that we're not overheard. "Is not the baby is it? Because I told both you and Bianca, if you need anything, no matter the time or the place, please don't hesitate to call me."

"David, it's not the baby, don't worry." I reassure him before he go off on a tangent. "Besides, you know me. Do you think Bianca could even have a tiny cramp and I wouldn't be waking you up in the middle of the night to get your butt over to our place?" I chuckle a bit at that, trying to lighten the mood. Bianca and David made a point of telling me, repeatedly, that I'm almost like an expectant father when it comes to Binks and the baby. I of course laughed it off, explaining that it was simply because I was doing my best friendly duty. I couldn't possibly tell them that I in fact *do* feel like I should be playing the role of partner to Bianca's pregnancy. I can't help but feel that way. I love Bianca so much, in every conceivable way, and I love this child that she's carrying almost as much. I honestly couldn't think of anything better out of life than raising this child with her, together, as a family. And like a bucket of ice water is thrown onto my head, I catch sight of Bianca sitting at a table across the room, welcoming Lena with a warm hug.

"So Maggie, what is it then?" David's question pulls me out of my rapidly darkening thoughts.

"What's what?" I respond distractedly, still watching Bianca and Lena from my position in front of David. It certainly looks like they're engaging in an intense conversation. Wonderful, they're probably declaring their never-ending love for one another. Happy New Year indeed.

"Ah, I get it now." I remove my gaze from the presumably happy reunited couple to see what David means. But as I do so, I see his eyes are fixed upon them as well. Uh oh, I think I might just be busted.

"What do you get?" Playing coy never hurt anyone, right?

"So you obviously haven't told her yet. Is that what the problem is?"

"Told who what? David, what in the world are you talking about?" Yep, I'm so busted.

"Maggie, don't try to con a con. I can see right through you. Actually, I have for months now. I certainly didn't think it would take you this long though. What in the hell are you waiting for?" Months?! He could have said something! Here I've been agonizing over this, by myself. for so long, and he knew the whole time! Wait a second, how did he know?

"Fine! Just what is it you think you know?" Still doesn't hurt to have him explain it to me. It at least takes the pressure off me to put something into words that I'm not sure there are even enough for.

"Ok kiddo, sit down and talk to me. Why are you acting like it's this big secret that you're in love with Bianca?" Well he's certainly not pulling any punches, and he has me dead to rights really. But hello! It IS a big secret, why is he acting like it's NOT? Oh god! What if it isn't? What if I haven't been hiding it nearly as well as I assumed I was.

"What do you mean it's not a secret? I haven't told anyone that I'm in love with her!"

"Nope, but you just did." David smirks a bit and takes a sip of the scotch he's been holding. That little sneak! Really though, what can I expect from my cousin, always the scoundrel. But I have to admit, it feels good to say it out loud. Really good in fact.

"How did you know?" I whisper to him, feeling like I've just been relieved of the weight of the entire world. I think I have a new appreciation now for what Atlas felt like.

"I've honestly suspected it for a long time now. In fact, I was shocked that after the Prom you guys didn't start dating. I just figured that with all the baggage with Frankie, and then when, well, when Leo died............" David stops a bit, trying to push down the sorrow still so close to the surface over his brother's death. "I thought maybe you two were just taking things slow, not jumping into anything. But I knew something was really wrong when I noticed you and Henry together."

"Yeah, not the best couple of months of my life." I honestly think that Henry helped me on my path to finally admitting to myself that I had much more than friendly feelings for Bianca. The few months I spent with him, even considering all the crap the guy put me through, it made me realize that it wasn't about male or female, gay or straight. The labels just don't apply to me. I honestly don't know what I am really. There's just one thing I'm certain of, that I'm completely and totally in love with Bianca Montgomery.

"I'm not even going to ask why you dated him, when you obviously had feelings for Bianca, even back then. I'm sure I can take a guess."

"Denial, plain and simple. I got scared, Bianca pushed to define our relationship and I just wasn't ready. I liked that zone that we had been in. I didn't want to move out of it until I was absolutely positive of what it was I was feeling. So when she backed me into a corner that day at the boathouse, I did the only thing us Stones are programmed to do, I bailed."

"Wait, you never told me you ran out on her that day."

"Not physically, no. But David, when I shut her down, when I told her I was into guys, God, the look on her face, it broke my heart. It still does. That's one of the main reasons I haven't said anything to her now. How can I expect her to believe me without thinking it's just me being confused because of everything that's happened since her rape?" Great, I'm starting to tear up now. Just the icing on the cake of this New Year's Eve.

"So you dated Henry because you needed to deny that you were falling for your best friend?" Got it in one cousin Dave. I don't see anything but concern and love in his eyes though, nothing anywhere near the disappointment I had expected.

"So how did you know then?" I can't help but be curious.

"Well like I was saying before, the Henry thing threw me off a bit. But after Bianca was attacked it became pretty crystal clear that you were going far beyond the best friend duties. I think the day I knew for certain though was the day of Bianca's first sonogram. Do you remember that?"

"God, how could I ever forget that!" Finally seeing Bianca's little girl, growing inside her, and sharing that with Binks, it has to be up there in my top ten all time most treasured moments. I can't even begin to count how many 'Wow's' came out of my mouth that day.

"That look in your eyes Maggie, the way you looked at the baby on the monitor, but especially the way you looked at Bianca. I just knew. Even a blind man could have seen it." Thankfully it was just the three of us then.

"I love that baby of hers as if it were my own David." I look over his shoulder, too shy to meet his gaze. Bianca isn't at her table anymore, but Lena is still sitting there, delicately sipping champagne with her eyes focused on something on the ballroom dance floor. Not something, rather someone. Erica must have found Bianca, because Jackson has her out there, twirling around on the dance floor. I stare transfixed on the sight of Bianca laughing with her Uncle Jack, as he pulls her in closer when the music changes to a slower song. Not a ballad really, but boy, do the lyrics start to resound within me.

Life, it can twist your heart
Put you in the dark
I was cold and lonely

Doubt, it can close you in
Build the walls within
I let fear control me
And that girl didn't know
Where the answer would be

Right in front of you
Right in front of me
We were looking for it somehow
Somewhere we couldn't see

But the love was always there
It's been around us everywhere
I had to fall to finally see
That you were right in front of me

Bianca knew it all those months ago. And I completely blew it then. I knew it then too, and I just blew it. No other way to describe my boneheaded comment about being 'into guys'.

Faith, it can lift you up
And if you got enough
To reach a new beginning

Love, can withstand strong
In the final hour
We'll find the joy in living

Don't let go
Cause that I know
Pretty soon you will see

Right in front of you
Right in front of me
We were looking for it somehow
Somewhere we couldn't see

But the love was always there
It's been around us everywhere
I had to fall to finally see

That you were right in front of me

I glance closer and concentrate on Bianca's expanding stomach.

You are my tomorrow
There's safety in your arms
Where you'll go I'll follow
'Cause you're the world where I belong

Right in front of you
In front of me
Somehow we couldn't see
Right in front of you

I had to fall to finally see

Right in front of you
Right in front of me
We were looking for it somehow
Somewhere we couldn't see

But the love was always there
Surrounding us everywhere
I had to fall to finally see

Right in front of you
Right in front of me
We were looking for it somehow
Somewhere we couldn't see

But the love was always there
Surrounding us everywhere
I had to fall to finally see
That you were right in front of me

I finally see... yeah
I had to fall to finally see
That you were right in front of me

As the song ends, Bianca kisses her Uncle Jack on the cheek, probably thanking him for the dance. I duck back behind the safety of David's shoulder, making sure Binks doesn't see me. One look at me right now and she'll know that something is most definitely wrong. She's so intuned to my emotions.

"God David, what am I going to do?" I put my head in my hands, completely exhausted with having to keep hiding my feelings from her, and yet totally terrified of putting everything out on the table.

"You're going to go over there to her table, and you're going to ask her to dance. And then you're going to tell her. It's as simple as that."

"It's NOT that simple! Did you happen to miss the fact that Lena is at her table too? You don't think she'd mind me honing in on her date with Bianca. On New Year's Eve no less?!" I can feel my voice going up an octave with each sentence. Is he really that nuts?!

"Let me worry about Lena. You just go and get your girl." David turns around with a sly grin on his face. Oh I so don't want to even know what he has planned for Lena. But it can't be good. He also seems to be forgetting one very important fact here.

"I can't tell her the truth David. She's in love with Lena, and I won't jeopardize our friendship for anything. Even if it means that I have to watch them be happy together. That's all I've ever wanted for Bianca anyway, even if it's not with me." Even though I know my little green monster would be getting quite the workout.

"Maggie, trust me. Tell her. You won't lose her friendship, I guarantee you that." He goes to stand up, grabbing my hand in the process and pulling me up with him. "Now, give me a minute to get Lena out of the way, and then you ask Bianca to dance." He starts to walk in their direction, but stops suddenly and turns around, grasping my shoulders and pulling me into another fierce hug. I can feel my body trembling in his embrace. Both from fear and a strange sense of excitement. "I know you're scared to death right now Mags, but please, trust me. You'll be so much happier once you finally tell her. You can't have this huge pink elephant sitting between you two anymore." He pulls away, but not before he leaves a gentle kiss on my forehead. "It'll be ok, I promise you."

I watch him confidently stroll over to Lena and Bianca's table, leaning down and mirroring the kiss he just gave me, on Bianca. I watch closely as he leans down and whispers something in Lena's ear, grinning broadly he pulls back and offers out his hand to her. I don't think I've ever seen Lena blush, but she is right now. God, I don't even want to imagine what David said to her. I chance a look at Bianca, who's grinning from ear to ear and nodding her head. Lena takes David's hand, letting herself be pulled up out of her seat by my cousin and led to the dance floor. That's his way of 'taking care' of Lena huh? I really don't want to even go near the possibility of Lena and my cousin.

When they're completely engulfed by the large crowd of dancers I decide to make my way over to Bianca, who by this time has a completely clear view of me. It feels like an eternity, but I finally reach her, extending my hand much the same way David did moments before.

"May I have this dance Miss Montgomery?" I try and add a bit of levity to it, so she can't tell that I'm ready to go running for the door, I'm that nervous.

Bianca looks out at the dance floor, I presume wondering where Lena is. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea-------

"Maggie, it's a slow song-----"

"That didn't stop us at your Prom." I remind her. The one and only time I've had the privilege of holding her that close for no other reason than because we were dancing.

"Things were different then."

"Different because you're with Lena now?" I'm really starting to lose my nerve here.

"No, not because of Lena-----"

I crouch down a bit, something that's a big difficult in this dress of mine. I lace my hand with her own that is fidgeting nervously with the strap of her evening bag.

"Dance with me." I look up earnestly into her beautiful chocolate eyes, trying to convince her.

Bianca breaks our gaze to look down at our intertwined fingers. She turns back up to me with a small smile starting to etch it's way across her face. "Ok, Maggie."

I must have had a big goofy smile plastered on my face, because she giggles a bit as I stand up and start to lead her out into the mass of bodies making up the dance floor. I quickly glance around for any sign of David and Lena within our proximity, but I don't see them anywhere. Which isn't saying much considering how crowded it is out here.

I wrap my arm around Bianca's waist, pulling her closer to me so that there is barely any space between us. "I'll lead." I whisper in her ear, eliciting another small laugh. Bianca hasn't been wearing heels at all lately. So now, with my own heels on and her wearing flats, we're just about the same height. To be honest though, that night of the Prom, I don't know which of us led, we just seemed to melt into each other, dancing in more of a constant hug than anything else. I can't remember ever feeling so content than I did in those moments. I just wish it wouldn't have taken me so long to understand why I was feeling that way.

A new song starts playing on the sound system, and as I listen to the familiar lyrics, the hypnotic sensual rhythm, I'm overwhelmed with the need to just hold Bianca as tight as I can, and never let her go. For the rest of our lives.

I was afraid to let you in here
Now I have learned love can’t be made in fear
The walls begin to tumble down
And I can’t even see the ground

I’m falling into you
This dream could come true
And it feels so good falling into you

Falling like a leaf, falling like a star
Finding a belief, falling where you are

Catch me, don’t let me drop
Love me, don’t ever stop

"There's something I need to tell you Bianca----"

So close your eyes and let me kiss you
And while you sleep I will miss you

I’m falling into you
This dream could come true
And it feels so good falling into you

Falling like a leaf, falling like a star
Finding a belief, falling where you are

Falling into you

Falling into you
Falling into you

I'm beginning to think that leaving Maggie just standing out there in the cold December air wasn't my most brilliant idea in the world. Even when we argue, I still feel closer to her than anyone in my entire life. And that sure as heck beats sitting here all by my lonesome waiting for Maggie to come after me, or Lena to arrive.

"Is this seat taken?" There's no mistaking that accent. I turn around and go to stand up and offer Lena a hug, but she places her hand on my shoulder, gently keeping me in my seat. "No need Bianca, I'm sure the less time you're on your feet, the better you'll feel in the morning." Isn't that the truth. Even though I stopped wearing heels weeks ago, my feet still puff up constantly. Just another perk of this pregnancy.

Lena leans down and gently kisses my cheek, causing me to flash a slight shade of pink, and nervously glance around the ballroom. It's not that I'm embarrassed by public displays of affection, although I'm sure my mother very well could have passed out if she witnessed that. It's moreso that I just didn't want Maggie to have to witness yet another example of what she's convinced is her playing third wheel tagalong. Before she straightens back up to her full height, Lena wraps me in a warm hug, still making sure I stay firmly seated in my chair.

"So where's Maggie?" Oh boy, not the same from Lena too! I swear, these two must be absolutely nuts if they think I don't see the tension between them. All I have to do is listen to their inflection when they speak of one another. It's not pretty, that's for sure. Maggie I can somewhat understand. She's extremely protective of me, in all regards. And I know she thinks Lena isn't the right woman for me, even though she's supportive of my choices when it comes to relationships. Aside from that Thanksgiving incident of course. Which I'm still trying to wrap my head around.

Lena on the other hand, I'm not exactly sure where the vitriol is coming from on her side. Sure, I would guess Maggie's constant hovering and protective attitude towards me might be a tad annoying to her. But other than that, I just don't get it.

"I'm actually not sure where Maggie took off to. We got into a bit of an argument on the way over, and I kind of just left her standing out front." I turn around in my chair to glance out towards the lobby of the Valley Inn, hoping to catch a glimpse of my best friend. No such luck though.

"Should I ask what the argument was about, or just leave well enough alone?" Lena looks a bit exasperated. It's not like Maggie and I fight very often. And even when we do, Lena is not the first person I go running to. I don't understand where this attitude is coming from.

"How about you tell me how the job interview went down in Philly this afternoon?" I was actually surprised when she told me she was interviewing for other jobs, considering she's been working with Kendall lately. I assumed she liked it, I'm guessing not.

"I got it."

"Wait, you already know you got the job?" Wow, she must have really impressed them. Not that it surprises me, Lena is far and away one of the most impressive and together people I've ever known.

"Yes, I can start next week if I want to." Lena folds her hands and stares down at the table, refusing to meet my gaze.

"Well that's great news right?" Why doesn't she look excited?

"Bianca, please, stop dodging around this. Why didn't you just tell me?" Ok, huh?

"What are you talking about? Tell you what?"

"About you and Maggie! You know, I could have handled it. I just would have appreciated hearing it from you, instead of overhearing Maggie gushing to that sales clerk in the dress shop."

Ok, I'm completely and utterly confused. Although, some things are starting to fall into place now. First and foremost, why Maggie was acting so strange after she came back from getting my forgotten wallet. I thought she was ready to jump out of her skin for a good half hour after we left. It wasn't until later on that night, over a extra large pizza with jalapeno's that she settled back into her normal Maggie self.

"Ok Lena, I'm completely lost here. Could you please try and fill in some blanks for me?" First and foremost being, me and Maggie what?

Lena reaches over and takes my hand, grasping it tightly and looking earnestly into my eyes. "You know, all I've ever wanted for you was endless happiness. I understand that I've made far too many mistakes to ever expect your complete forgiveness." I try and stop her there, because I have forgiven her, for everything. I know the kind of position she was in, and I know better than just about anyone what kind of bastard Michael Cambias was. She's his victim, the same as I was.

Before I can interrupt her, she places a delicate finger across my lips, silencing my protest. "I know you forgive me, but I also know that no matter what you say, there will always be that level of distrust between us. I've honestly known it all along, I guess I was just letting my false hopes lead me the last few months." She moves her finger away when she's sure I won't interrupt her. It's not even an option for me anymore, I'm too intrigued by this sudden one eighty to say a word. Lena glances to the left for a moment, I follow the direction she's looking to spot Maggie in what seems to be an intense conversation with David.

I stare for a moment longer at my best friend, before drawing Lena's attention back to our conversation. "Lena, please tell me. Where is all of this coming from?"

She turns her gaze back to me, a wistful smile crossing her elegant features. "I never had a chance really. I knew that from the moment I met Maggie. From that moment in the hotel lobby when Maggie came riding in to your rescue. I knew that it was always her. It shouldn't have surprised me when I found out you were finally together."

Oh whoa! Where would she get an idea like that? I mean sure, it always HAS been Maggie, always. I love Lena, I really and truly do. But I know I will never love someone as deeply and completely the way I love Maggie. My baby being the one and only exception. But I also know I've always been upfront with Lena about my situation with Maggie. I would never have led her on.

Besides the fact that Maggie and I are NOT together, as much as I would like that to be the truth it just isn't.

"Lena, I have no idea where you got the impression that Maggie and I are together. And I'm assuming you mean in the romantic sense."

"Bianca, there's no reason to hide the truth any longer, I heard Maggie herself. She said you were her girlfriend."


"She called me that?"

"Yes. She came into the dress boutique down on Penn Street. I was looking through the racks trying to find a gown for this evening when I overheard her talking to the girl behind the counter. Apparently you left your wallet behind, and Maggie came back to retrieve it. If I remember it correctly, the saleswoman assumed you were together, because she's the one that called you Maggie's girlfriend."

"Well see, she was just assuming things Lena." It's happened so many times during the course of my friendship with Maggie, that both of us had gotten to the point where we almost expected people to assume it. I never understood if it was because everyone in Pine Valley knew I was gay, and just figured Maggie was too. Or if it was some kind of vibe the two of us together gave off. I never could figure it out, even to this day. Not that I minded it of course. Especially before our boathouse talk last winter.

"If that's the case, then Maggie made no effort to correct her assumption. In fact, she asserted the fact that you were 'her girl', if I remember the conversation correctly. I apologize for eavesdropping, I truly do. But Maggie certainly wasn't hiding her obvious adoration of you. And no reason she should really. I'm glad that she's proud to be with you. You deserve to have an open relationship." I'm beginning to think that I've lost my mind. Aside from the fact that Lena, of all people, used air quotes when she described her experience at the dress shop, the encounter itself sounds like something right out of one of my dreams. The ones that I had almost every night for a good portion of the year Maggie and I were getting to know each other. Before I had to go and push her into defining our relationship.

"Lena, I'm telling you the truth, Maggie and I are not together. We're not a couple----" I trail off, because if I let my mouth continue where my thoughts were going, I know I'll hurt Lena, and I don't want to do that.

"Well then, it seemed to me that if you aren't in fact together, Maggie certainly wishes you were. Bianca, I realize I don't know her very well, but I've never seen someone light up the way she does, just from talking about you."

"We *are* best friends you know, I mean, sure, we care about each other-----" I glance away from her penetrating gaze, this conversation making me more and more nervous with every moment that passes. And honestly, I'm not exactly sure why.

Lena reaches across the small table and gently grasps my chin, forcing me to return her intense gaze. "Bianca, you obviously don't understand what I'm saying here. Or maybe it's that you don't *want* to understand." She glances back over in the direction where Maggie last was, a small smile starting to etch it's way across her lips. I can't help but follow her glance yet again. Maggie is almost like magnetic north to me. I'm pulled to her inexplicably. Every single time, from day one. "She's in love with you Bianca." Lena turns around to face me now. I'm surprised I'm still sitting upright though, if I heard her correctly. "And moreso, you're just as in love with her. You always have been. And we both know it."

What's the sense in denying it any longer? If Lena has known all along how I feel about Maggie, why should I try and skirt around the issue. At least with her. I numbly shake my head in the affirmative, trying desperately to block out the other part of her confession. I don't have the heart to get my hopes up again, just to have them dashed. Especially not after the last year, it would just hurt far too much. "I love her. I think I've always been in love with her. I'm so sorry Lena."

"Don't apologize Bianca, never apologize for loving someone. I'll always be thankful for the time we had together, and for the strength and courage you've shown me. Watching you, being with you these last months has made me realize how much of my life I've wasted. And how different a person I want to be. All because of you. How can Maggie *not* love you?"


"No Bianca, I have eyes, I know what I see."

I nod my head again, agreeing with her instead of going around in circles arguing over something that I'm sure I know better than she does.

"Good, now that it's settled, I propose we try and enjoy this evening. It is after all, New Year's Eve."

She's right, New Year's is a time to have fun. I can worry about the new beginnings that are heading my way tomorrow. Tonight is all about saying goodbye to the past year. One that I am very thankful is over.

"Why hello there ladies, Happy New Year!" David leans down and kisses my cheek softly, giving my shoulder a squeeze.

"Happy New Year Doctor Hayward." Lena smiles up at him.

"Ms Kundera, please, call me David." Oh my gosh, please tell me Maggie's cousin is not flirting with her!

"David it is then. But please, no Ms. Kundera either, Lena is just fine." And she's flirting right back!

"Bianca, how are you feeling? Any lightheadedness, nausea, cramping?" Maggie certainly takes after David. I think I've answered any variation of those questions at least once a day since Maggie found out I was pregnant. I'm not going to complain though, because it's beyond comforting to know how much they both care about me.

"I'm just fine David. You know Maggie, she'd call you in a heartbeat if something were wrong. In fact, I think she was tempted a couple of times when she felt the baby kick, just to be on the safe side!" That's really not an exaggeration either. Of course once she realized the baby was kicking and not spinning out of control in my womb or something equally disturbing, she was in complete awe, just as I was. It was precious really, that look on her face, and how delicately she kept her hand on my stomach. I felt so cherished and protected in that moment.

"Well my cousin is certainly devoted to you Bianca, I don't think anyone would disagree with that." David turns and shares a look with Lena. Is everyone in on the secret?! Lena gives me a small smile, and I swear, it's an 'I told you so' smirk. David raises one eyebrow at me and then leans down and whispers something into Lena's ear. Wait, is she starting to blush?!

"Why David, I thought you'd never ask." David reaches out and grasps Lena's hand, leading her away towards the crowded dance floor. Leaving me to sit here and wonder what in the world is going on with everyone tonight. I turn back around and reach for my diet caffeine free coke, deciding not to put too much thought into David and Lena's behavior. The last thing I need is to bring on a headache, and I know that's what will happen if I try and dissect the conversation I just had. Before I have the chance to bring the glass to my lips my eyes lock onto Maggie, gazing at me from across the ballroom. As I stare transfixed, she slowly weaves her way through the throngs of partygoers to stand at my side.

"May I have this dance, Miss Montgomery?" She reaches out her hand towards mine, beckoning me to accept. I look nervously out towards the dance floor, watching all the other couples sway to the soft slow song filtering through the sound system. I've never wanted anything more, and I'm scared witless, all at the same time.

"Maggie, it's a slow song----" She interrupts my stall tactic.

"That didn't stop us at your Prom." She reminds me. And no, it certainly didn't. But that was before. Before I confronted her, before I pushed her. The boundaries are there now, no matter how affectionate we've become the last few months, there's no more 'is she or isn't she' doubt floating around. That's what makes this different.

"Things were different then----" I trail off, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

"Different because you're with Lena now?"

"No, not because of Lena----."

Maggie crouches down next to me, lacing her fingers together with mine, that suddenly seemed to find the strap of my purse incredibly interesting. I raise my eyes level with hers, becoming trapped in the warmth of her rich chocolate eyes.

"Dance with me."

I continue to stare, captivated. I want more than anything in this moment to be wrapped up in her warmth, in her love. I break our gaze for a moment, glancing down at our interlocked fingers, before deciding to throw caution to the wind. "Ok Maggie."

I stand up, letting her lead me out onto the crowded dance floor. I swear, I don't think I've ever seen her smile that radiantly before. I can't help but giggle a bit myself. We're acting like two lovesick teenagers out on their first date. She's my best friend, we've done this before, so why the nervousness? It's not like we *are* on a date or anything. Maggie pulls me closer to her, wrapping her arm gently, but firmly around my waist, drawing me into her body, barely any room between us now. "I'll lead." She teasingly whispers into my ear. Sending a shiver of desire down my spine, which I nervously cover with a small laugh.

We sway together to the music, wrapped in each other's arms. I can't remember the last time I really felt this peaceful. Sure, I was nervous, considering things between us seem to be changing. But I always feel safe in Maggie's embrace, no matter what the circumstances are. Now is no different. The song changes, but neither of us makes any kind of move to release the other. I recognize it immediately, having owned the particular album for years now.

"There's something I need to tell you Bianca-----" I pull my head up from Maggie's shoulder and look into her dazzling brown eyes.


No one noticed the solitary man sitting in the corner, rise up from his chair and nonchalantly make his way out of the ballroom. Nor did they notice the way he constantly checked his watch, from the moment he sat down to sip his gin and tonic. Everyone was far too caught up in the festivities of the night, and the tick of the clock signaling that midnight was but a few seconds away. As the man picked up his pace, the clock wound down to the bewitching hour, the end of 2003. No one was aware of the second clock clicking away the seconds right below them in the boiler room of the Valley Inn.



Maggie pulled herself away from Bianca slightly, putting enough distance between them so that she could concentrate on the monumental confession she was about to make. She maneuvered them over towards the bar area, off of the dance floor, but not out of their embrace entirely.



Bianca kept her eyes locked onto Maggie the entire time, trying desperately to have some hint at what was making Maggie so nervous. She could literally feel the older woman trembling slightly in her arms.



Outside in the cold winter air, a man sat across the street on a bench in the park. Lighting up a cigarette and taking a last look towards the lights of the Valley Inn.



He could hear the revelry of the party goers, even from the distance he sat. Taking one last drag before tossing the cigarette butt to the ground, he stood up and without looking back, walked out of the park, in the opposite direction of the party.



"Bianca, you know you mean the world to me. You and that baby growing inside you." Maggie gently reached up and cupped Bianca's cheek, everyone else in the room fading around them, leaving the two young women with only eyes for each other.

"Happy New Year!!!"

Tick Tick Tick

"Maggie, what---" Bianca stopped short when she realized that the room had come to a stand still, everyone looking around trying to figure out where the increasingly loud rumble was coming from.

Outside the entrance to the Pine Valley Park, the man stopped his step and glanced down at his watch.

"Time's up."

The ballroom of the Valley Inn erupted in chaos the moment the first rumble was felt. The entire building started to shake, dust and plaster falling amongst the party goers, covering them in a fine layer of grit. Only seconds passed before the tremors escalated, large pieces of the room now starting to fall on top of it's occupants.

Maggie and Bianca clutched tightly to each other, looking around frantically, trying to figure out what on earth was going on. As Maggie turned toward the bar area, she saw the overhead glass rack shake loose from it's holding. Maggie felt like she was in slow motion as she watched the large piece of wood fall directly towards the two of them. Without hesitation, and without second thought, she pushed Bianca out of the way and onto the floor, taking the full impact of the falling debris.

"Maggie!!" Bianca spun around on the floor, trying to stand but unable to regain her balance. "Maggie!" She managed to crawl her way back over to her best friend, only to find that Maggie was almost completely buried under the remains of the bar. Bianca gently grasped Maggie's visible hand, immediately checking for a pulse. Relieved to find a steady but somewhat weak heartbeat, Bianca started to attempt to remove some of the heavy debris covering the older girl.


"Get that door clear!"

"Where's the damn rescue squads!"

"Oh god! Oh my god! What was THAT?!"

The bomb, attached to the furnace and designed not to blow the building sky high, but rather have it implode in on itself, achieved much of it's desired effect. The ballroom was covered in debris. Tables tossed upside down, pieces of the ceiling scattered across the entire room, dust and grime absolutely everywhere. And among all of it, Pine Valley's best and brightest, some unconscious, some coherent and fighting like hell to help the injured.

"Bianca? Bianca, can you hear me?" David crouched down next to an unconscious Bianca, gently checking over her, trying to see if she had any visible injuries. Lena knelt on the other side of Bianca, gently stroking her arm, offering what little comfort she thought she could.

"Maggie?" Bianca called out, slowly coming back around. The last thing she remembered was seeing the bar fall on top of her best friend.

"No, it's David. Just relax Bianca, we're going to get you out of here." David gently tried to hold her in place, fearing that even though she appeared alright, after the kind of blast they just lived through, who knew what other injuries she may have been suffering from. He gestured to Lena to come and take his place, making sure to keep Bianca from getting up. "Bianca, I'll be right back. I need to go look for Maggie." He started to pick himself up off of the debris covered dance floor when Bianca grabbed his hand. He winced briefly at the contact, looking down and for the first time noticing a large gash across his palm, from the base of his thumb to his ring finger.

"David, she pushed me out of the way. She pushed me out of the way to keep me safe." Bianca cried, tears falling continuously down her cheeks, washing away the dirt from the explosion.

"What? What do you mean, she pushed you out of the way?" David turned and surveyed what he could see of the surrounding area, not noticing anything that could have fallen. Just as he was about to turn back around to Bianca, he realized something was missing. The entire bar was gone. Not exactly gone, but not upright either. David looked to about 10 feet away, where he saw the huge oak cabinetry that must have come crashing down during the explosion. 'Oh god, please don't let Maggie be under THAT.' His medical intuition told him that it would be a miracle for anyone to survive something of that size and weight falling directly on top of them.

"Bianca, shhh, we'll find Maggie. Try and calm down. It's not good for the baby." Lena tried her best to soothe Bianca, who was anything BUT calm. David looked over at the sobbing girl, back to what was left of the bar, and then to Lena, who looked just as hopeless as he imagined he looked himself.

David picked himself up again, and crouched down next to Lena, whispering in her ear, making sure Bianca couldn't hear what he was saying to the older woman. "Lena, you need to make sure she stays as calm as possible. She's well into her second trimester, the stress could make it very easy for her to miscarry." He glanced back over at the ruins of the bar area. "And I'm really afraid that this might just be the beginning. IF Maggie is under there, it'll take a miracle for her to come back to Bianca." He felt he didn't need to mince words with Lena. Before the explosion, during the dance they shared, they had talked all about the mess his cousin and Bianca had found themselves in. He was well aware that Lena knew exactly what the girls were feeling, just like he had been. He also knew Lena could tell the severity of the situation. Her eyes carried the message loud and clear. He knew that Lena loved Bianca, very much so, but he saw the look of sympathy and hopelessness in her brown depths, for the love that Maggie and Bianca might have waited too long to recognize.

"David, find her." Lena grasped his hand for a moment, before turning her attention back to Bianca, who was still trying to fight her way to her feet in search of Maggie. David nodded his head and then turned to start climbing his way through the rubble, pushing aside toppled tables and overturned chairs in his path, slowly making his way to where Bianca had pinpointed she last saw Maggie before everything erupted into chaos. He finally made it over to the area where the bar had stood not more than fifteen minutes ago. All that was left was piles of broken glasses, bottles and splintered pieces of wood. And a huge beamlike block of wood lying at it's center. He hoped to God that his cousin wasn't under there.

"Lena, let me go! I have to help Maggie, she needs me!" Bianca desperately tried to release herself from Lena's strong grip. But no matter which way she moved, the older woman would not let go.

"Bianca, you need to stay still. David will find Maggie for you." Lena never realized how physically strong Bianca was. It took everything in her not to lose the grip she had on her.

"But she needs ME! She would never let someone else look for me and just sit there if I was in trouble!" Lena knew it was true, in fact it was mostly because of Maggie's protectiveness that she slowly came to realize how deeply Maggie's feelings ran for Bianca. But she also knew that Maggie would not want Bianca to do anything to jeopardize the baby she carried. She'd rather die herself than have Bianca lose her child.

"Bianca, listen to me. What Maggie's needs right now is to know that you're ok. You have to take care of yourself, and that baby you're carrying. For Maggie's sake." Lena knew it was a bit underhanded, but she was running out of options, and her grip on Bianca was weakening by the second. She was hoping that using Maggie's love for Bianca's baby would be enough to convince her to let David and the rescue workers concentrate on helping Maggie now. She knew she had succeeded somewhat when she felt Bianca stop fighting so strongly, instead, sagging against her arms and clutching desperately to her own slightly swollen stomach, as if she was holding onto her baby for dear life. Lena tightened the hold she had around Bianca's shoulders, gently rocking her back and forth, trying to be strong for the younger girl, all the while having a sinking feeling that this was just the beginning of what was shaping up to be a torturously long night.

David meanwhile, continued to move around the fallen beams and boards, desperately searching for any sign of his cousin. He could hear sirens in the distance, cursing them under his breath for their tardiness in responding to the explosion. Even if he did find Maggie underneath all of the debris, there was no way he would be able to pull her out from under by himself.

"Bianca!!!" David's head snapped around when he heard Erica frantically calling for her daughter. He looked to the now only partially blocked door of the ballroom, seeing rescue personnel and concerned family members scrambling their way through the opening.

"Bianca!!" Erica screamed again.

"She's over here Ms. Kane." Lena called across the room to Bianca's frightened mother. Bianca herself was starting to slip into a state of shock, curled up into a tight ball in Lena's arms, gently rocking herself and not moving her gaze from where David stood, searching desperately for Maggie.

"Oh my god! Bianca, darling, are you ok?" Erica rushed over to her daughter, expertly climbing over the fallen tables and chairs, letting nothing stand in her way. She reached the two huddled figures and dropped herself to her knees unceremoniously. "Bianca? Please talk to me honey. Are you alright?" Bianca still refused to remove her gaze from the pile of rubble that was the bar of the Valley Inn. And with every moment that passed Erica became more and more frightened that Bianca was seriously injured.

Lena noticed that Erica was about to slip into hysterics. "She's alright Ms. Kane, David already checked her out. As far as he can tell, she's perfectly fine." Lena knew enough not to mention anything regarding the baby Bianca was carrying.

"Well if she's so fine, why won't she answer me?!" Erica couldn't understand what was wrong with her precious daughter.

"Maggie." Lena answered, while motioning her head to where David stood combing through the wreckage.

"Maggie?" Erica questioned, her eyes following to where Lena was directing her. She saw David, starting to become frantic in his pace, pulling through the downed chairs and pieces of paneling and plaster. "Oh dear god!" Erica spun back around to meet Lena's gaze, an unspoken question in her eyes, one she feared she already knew the answer to.

"David asked me to dance, to give Bianca and Maggie some time to talk." Lena began. She was well aware that Erica had always disliked her. She also knew that Erica wasn't blind to the girls' feelings for each other either. "They had followed us onto the dance floor shortly after. Right before the explosion I saw Maggie pull Bianca off towards the side, right in front of the bar." Lena gestured with her eyes over to the pile of rubble David was still searching through. "After everything happened, David and I found Bianca unconscious on the floor, but there was no sign of Maggie. Once Bianca came to, she immediately called out for her. Apparently, when the explosion happened, the bar started to collapse. And Maggie pushed Bianca out of the way." Lena finished sadly.

"Oh god, she saved my baby?" Erica's eyes started to tear up, looking back between Bianca's shaking frame, and the frantic search for her best friend. Jackson, having heard the tail end of Lena's explanation, rushed over to help David.

"Mom?" Lena and Erica both turned to face Bianca, their attention taken away from the chaos they found themselves surrounded by.

Erica moved closer to Bianca, wrapping her arm around her trembling frame. "I'm right here sweetie."

Bianca looked up helplessly into her mother's sympathetic gaze. "Mom, please. You have to help them. You have to help them find her!"

Erica tried to soothe her daughter, stroking her dark chocolate locks. "Honey, your Uncle Jack and David are doing everything they can to find Maggie. And the rescue people are here now too." Erica looked up to meet Lena's gaze, seeing the hopelessness in their dark depths. They both knew, with every minute that passed, the chances of finding Maggie alive were dwindling considerably.

"I need a stretcher over here, NOW!!!" All three woman huddled on the floor amidst the debris and dust looked up sharply when they heard David shout across the room to the EMT squad. Before Erica or Lena could stop her, Bianca was up on her feet and hurrying over to where David and Jackson sat crouched by a large wooden beam.


David looked up to meet Bianca's terrified stare. "It's her Bianca, it's Maggie." Before he could continue, Bianca dropped to her knees in front of the spot where David sat. She could see the upper portion of Maggie's body, from about her ribcage up. Her dirty blonde hair was streaked with plaster bits and dust, the dress she was wearing, torn in numerous places. But what was really worrisome to Bianca was the large gash across her best friend's forehead, the blood caked into her hairline and a few rivulets starting to dry along her temple and down to her chin. Before Bianca could ask David anything about her condition, the EMT's arrived with a stretcher, right behind them a pair of firemen with crowbars and an inflatable air bag to lift the beam off of Maggie's lower body. Bianca watched helplessly as the rescue workers hurried to free her best friend from the wreckage.

After what seemed like an eternity to Bianca, they finally had pulled Maggie free, carefully loading her onto the stretcher, David filling them in the best he could on her vitals. Bianca felt like she was in slow motion as she followed them outside to the waiting ambulance. The EMT crew loaded Maggie gently into the rig, David pulling himself up behind her. "David!" Bianca called out to him, trying to follow him into the ambulance.

"You have to stay here miss." One of the paramedics told her, grasping her arm lightly to prevent her from getting into the ambulance.

"No! I want to go with her!" Bianca protested, trying to remove the man's hand from her arm.

"I'm sorry miss, but we're all full up in there. Doctor Hayward is only allowed to ride with her because he's her physician." The young man tried to be gentle but firm with Bianca, having seen many friends and family members go through the exact same thing in the time he had been on the job.

"No! You don't understand! She needs me! I need to be with her!" Bianca frantically fought to release the man's hands from her person, tears threatening to blind her.

"Bianca, honey, I'll drive you to the hospital. We'll be right behind the ambulance the entire time, I promise you." Jackson pulled Bianca out of the medic's hold, giving the man a withering stare as he did so.

"But Uncle Jack-----" Bianca continued to protest, her gut instincts telling her that she absolutely needed to be in that ambulance, by Maggie's side. No matter how short a ride to the hospital it was.

"Let her ride. I'll meet you at the hospital." David said, climbing his way back out of the rig and coming to Bianca's side. "I think having you there by her side is exactly what Maggie would want." David pulled Bianca into a hug, helping her up and into the back of the ambulance, squeezing her hand gently before letting go to close up the doors. "Talk to her Bianca. Give her something to stay here for." Bianca looked at David one more time, as the doors slammed shut and the ambulance pulled away from the pandemonium of the Valley Inn.

Bianca sat as close to Maggie as she possibly could in the cramped ambulance. She gingerly picked up her best friend's free hand, the other already attached to an IV line and getting some kind of liquid or another. Bianca didn't really care what it was, as long as it would ensure that Maggie stayed with her. Bianca gently stroked the hand she held, watching in an almost daze as the paramedics continued to assess Maggie's injuries.

"Mags, I don't really know if you can hear me or not. But I have to try." Bianca paused to wipe a few tears away. She didn't care if the EMT's were listening in. Maggie was all that mattered right now. Bianca gripped her best friend's hand tighter, trying to transfer some of her strength through their connection. Or maybe it was just to feel Maggie's steady but weak heartbeat, she wasn't really sure.

Bianca paused, trying gather the right words together, hoping that she was at the very least half way intelligible. David had put his faith in her, she needed to make sure Maggie hung on, her words were the only thing she could use now. One of the EMT's, a mid thirty-ish woman whom Bianca vaguely recognized from the clinic during her sonogram, placed her hand gently on Bianca's forearm. "Miss, Dr. Hayward was right, the best thing you can do is talk to her, let your voice be her anchor to this world."

Bianca turned and gave the woman a small smile in appreciation before replying in not more than a bare whisper. "I don't know what to say to her. What could I say to make her stay?" Bianca wiped a few more tears from her eyes, trying to stay as composed as possible.

The paramedic smiled gently at Bianca, turning her gaze to Maggie for a moment and debating whether or not she should share what had been on almost constant repeat in her mind ever since she recognized who it was she was treating at the Valley Inn. She glanced once more between Maggie, who was still non responsive and Bianca, who gripped Maggie's hand in an almost vice like clutch, cradling it against her face and placing feather light kisses upon it. That visual was enough to make up the woman's mind.

"You know, I recognize the both of you. From the day you had your sonogram with Dr. Hayward. I remember this one here, she was running a little late, and you and the Dr. were already in the exam room. And this young lady comes bustling up to me while I was waiting at the nurses station for my partner. She asked me which room she could find Mary Francis in. I had to double take because she was practically bouncing out of her shoes, with the biggest grin on her face. I think the only reason I remember so well is because at that clinic, you very rarely see someone *that* happy, usually it's much the opposite. But she was just beaming away. It wasn't until later, when I went to put your chart away for the nurse on duty that I realized just why she seemed so happy." The woman turned her gaze away from Maggie to look at Bianca, who during the story had placed her and Maggie's joined hands gently against her slightly swollen belly. "If I hadn't known better, I would have thought that *she* was the one expecting."

Bianca couldn't help but smile at that, caressing herself with their clasped hands once more. "Maggie has been absolutely incredible. She makes sure I eat right, I exercise, I get enough sleep. She's certainly getting good practice for being a doctor with me." Bianca gazed lovingly down at her best friend, trying hard to block out the blood splotches and bruises marring Maggie's gorgeous face. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, for both her sake and her unborn child's. "Maggie pushed me out of the way tonight. I should be the one laying here hooked up to all of this stuff, not her. But she protected me, like she always does." Bianca couldn't hold the stream of tears in any longer. She bent her head down, staring at their intertwined fingers, crying softly as the medic watched her compassionately.

"She loves you. It was written all over her face that day." The woman decided that there was no reason NOT to be honest. Especially given how severe the situation was. She checked once again that all the IV's were flowing into Maggie's body and that her heartbeat and blood pressure were remaining as steady as possible. She hoped that Maggie could hear them, hear Bianca.

Bianca looked up sharply at the EMT for a moment before deciding there was no reason to try and defend Maggie's sexuality or their complicated relationship. Not now. Not here.

"I know."

The woman tending to Maggie glanced at Bianca, and then followed her gaze back to Maggie, almost overcome with how strong their connection was, it was completely obvious, even to a total stranger.

"Does she know how much you love her?"

Bianca looked up from her study of their hands to look eyes with the woman treating her best friend. They gazed at each other for a moment, before Bianca bowed her head once more and whispered, "I don't know."

Bianca thought back to their shared dance less than an hour ago. It seemed so much longer than that to her, and yet also, she felt like she could still feel Maggie pressed up against, holding her, breathing with her. She never felt so in sync with anyone the way she had in those few moments tonight with Maggie. She wasn't even sure if she knew herself just how much she loved Maggie, until the chance of her being taken away from Bianca was a very real possibility. Now, now all Bianca could think about was the fact that her best friend would never truly know, never fully understand how deeply her love ran. That thought alone was enough to shatter Bianca's already fragile heart.

Bianca looked desperately at the EMT, begging her to free her from this torture, pleading with her silently to make everything alright. The woman again gently rested her hand atop Bianca's arm, giving her a squeeze of reassurance just as the ambulance finally arrived at Pine Valley Hospital.

The back doors swung open to reveal a set of white coat clad ER doctors, and two more paramedics, reaching into the rig and pulling Maggie out as gently but efficiently as they could. Bianca knew that time was most certainly of the essence, so she stayed back a bit, waiting to get out of the ambulance until Maggie was being wheeled into the ER entrance, surrounded by medical staff. The female medic that had been talking with her the entire ride turned back towards her and reached a hand up to help her down out of the ambulance, ushering her along through the doors once she was safely on the ground.

As she came inside the frantic ER she could hear all sorts of things being called out around her. Doctors shouting orders out to their frazzled ER staff, EMT's giving the attending physicians the statistics of patients in transit from the site of the Valley Inn explosion. Bianca let herself be led by the woman to the cubicle Maggie had been taken to. As she reached the curtain she could hear the frenetic pace at which the staff where trying to help her best friend.

"Get her hooked up to that monitor ASAP!"

"What do we know so far?"

"Adult female, approximately 22 years old. Trapped under a wooden beam for at least 15 minutes. Pupils are equal and reactive though, but she's been unconscious the entire time."

"Well no wonder, she's still bleeding here at her hairline. Nurse! Pack the wound over her right temple and suture it if necessary."

"Anything else? Where was the beam located precisely at? Were you on scene, do you know?"

"Yes doctor, the beam itself was centered around her lower leg area, but she was almost completely covered in debris."

The doctor stepped towards Maggie's legs and gently but firmly felt around, checking the best he could for any fractures, from her knees lower.

"I don't know how in the hell she managed that, but I'm pretty sure nothing in either of her legs is broken."

He moved back up to her abdomen and felt around, gently pushing in at a few places, trying to determine quickly if there was any chance of severe internal bleeding.

"Nurse, I want a full CT scan of her upper and lower abdomen, a pelvic ultrasound, full X-rays on both of her legs, and a chest X-ray, just to be on the safe side." He leaned down and double checked her breathing, listening for anything that would even remotely alert him to a punctured lung. He breathed a small sigh of relief when he heard no wheezing and no wet sounds. But he was a cautious man by nature. The tests were better to be done then not and have a complication somewhere down the line.

What most concerned him now was the head trauma. She had still not regained consciousness and that worried him, coupled with the amount of blood she seemed to have lost. Even though head wounds bled fiercely, it concerned him with her state of unconsciousness.

"I also want a full CT scan of her head and an MRI as well. This might just be a severe concussion, but the fact that she hasn't even come close to regaining consciousness from what I can tell is making me think there might be some hemorrhaging in her skull. Call up and see if Dr. Grey is on rotation tonight."

"Oh god!"

Dr. Thomas turned for the first time in the direction of the open curtain. He saw the young woman being held tightly by one of the EMT's that had brought Maggie Stone in. If he had realized that she had been so close by he might have used a little more discretion, but it was something he couldn't help now, so he thought the best thing he could do was to try and calm the woman down and give her the facts, as gently as he could.


Bianca turned her attention away from Maggie's prone body laying on the hospital gurney, to the doctor, taking in his gentle brown eyes and warm open expression.

"Bianca, Bianca Montgomery. How's Maggie? Is she going to be ok?"

"How's Maggie? Is she going to be ok?"

The doctor nodded his head and guided Bianca towards the family waiting area in the ER. He ushered Bianca to take a seat and then sat down on the small table right in front of her.

"Miss Montgomery, my name is Doctor Thomas, I'm the senior attending ER physician here."

"Please Dr. Thomas, please, just tell me, is Maggie going to be alright?" Bianca was getting more and more frustrated with each passing second. She appreciated the gentleness of the doctor, but she was beyond the point of caring. She just wanted Maggie.

Dr. Thomas understood the impatience of the woman in front of him. Too often he'd had conversations just like the one he was having now.

"Miss Stone is still unconscious I'm afraid. That's the bad news. The good news is that on my initial examination, other than the head trauma she was relatively in one piece. It's amazing considering I've been told she was found trapped under a wooden beam. There are no apparent broken bones, no internal bleeding in her stomach from what I can tell, and her breath sounds were normal and strong."

"So then why isn't she awake if nothing is wrong?" Bianca asked in a mere whisper, already knowing the answer. The sight of Maggie's face covered in her own blood was something she'd never be able to forget.

"Miss Montgomery, you have to understand, Miss Stone took a severe blow to her head. It's not uncommon for a patient to be unconscious for a significant period of time after a trauma such as hers. I've ordered a complete neurological workup on her, just to be on the safe side. It may just be a severe concussion. But I want to be absolutely sure."

Bianca swallowed the lump forming in her throat. "What else could it be?"

Dr. Thomas sighed, running a hand through his salt and pepper hair. "There's a possibility that she may be bleeding somewhere in her skull. That would be the cause for the continued lack of consciousness. I can't rule anything out until I see the result of her CT scan and MRI."

"Oh God."

"Miss Montgomery, I promise you, we're going to do everything within our power to make sure that your partner is good as new again. We have one of THE best neurologists on the east coast here at PVH, Dr. Maria Grey. She's being briefed of Miss Stone's condition as we speak."

Bianca took small notice of the doctor's assumption of her and Maggie's relationship, but didn't even bother to waste the energy in correcting him. It didn't matter anyway. She did glance up at the second part though.

"Maria is going to be taking care of Maggie?" Bianca felt a small sense of comfort wash over her. Maria was a good friend to her, she knew Maggie would be in the best hands possible.

Dr. Thomas looked a bit startled at Bianca's use of Dr. Grey's first name, but tried to hide it. After all, Pine Valley was a relatively small town, it shouldn't have surprised him that this young woman was an apparent friend of Maria Grey's.

"I take it you're a friend of Dr. Grey's?"

"Something like that." David answered for Bianca as he swept into the waiting room, followed by Jackson, Erica, Lena and surprisingly even Jaime and Babe. Erica headed straight for her daughter, grasping her up in a fierce hug.

Dr. Thomas took in the motley crew of people now standing in front of him, almost all of them covered in dust and grime. He felt compelled to make sure that

they were all ok, since it was obvious they were involved in the explosion as well.

"Did all of you get checked out yet?"

"We're fine, but please, tell us, is Maggie ok?" Jackson decided to intercede and be the voice for the entire group. David was barely holding it together, resisting the strong urge to go and find Maggie and tend to her himself. Erica was holding onto Bianca tightly, trying to will some of her strength into her daughter, who was obviously one tear away from sobbing and not being able to stop. Lena, Jaime and Babe all sat quietly near the door, offering whatever moral support they could.

Dr. Thomas rubbed the bridge of his nose before returning his attention to the tall sandy haired man in front of him. He wondered for a moment just who was who and what relation they had to his patient. He could literally feel the concern and fear radiating off of ALL of them. This was the one part of his job he absolutely hated.

"I'll tell you what I told Miss Montgomery. Miss Stone is still unconscious, and that gives us cause for concern. She took a very harsh blow to her head, so we're doing a full neurological exam on her, to be on the safe side. It could very well be just a concussion, but we aren't taking any chances. As you heard when you came in, Miss Stone's case has been given to Dr. Grey."

Jackson stepped forward and shook Dr. Thomas' hand, the concern still evident in his expression. "Thank you Dr......"

"Thomas. I was the attending ER doctor tonight. Miss Stone was one of the first ones brought in from the explosion." Dr. Thomas paused for a moment, looking Jackson up and down for a moment before pulling him away from the rest a bit. "Tell me Mr......." He paused realizing he had no idea who this man was.

"Jackson Montgomery."

Dr. Thomas nodded his head in acknowledgement. He had thought Jackson looked familiar, but he wasn't sure. It wasn't every day that he spoke with a District Attorney. "Mr. Montgomery. Tell me, just how bad is it over there?"

It took a moment for Jack to understand what the doctor was asking, his mind centered on his niece at the moment. He lowered his head , trying to find a way to describe the scene they had left not more than fifteen minutes ago.

"Chaos. Pure chaos. The entire ballroom of the Valley Inn is in ruins. Ms Kane and I were out in the lobby when the explosion happened and it took at least a few minutes just to get the doors unblocked, there was that much debris. If you could have seen it Dr. Thomas, it would be very hard to imagine how anyone could survive it. But Bianca, David and Lena were all in there with Maggie, and other than a couple of cuts and bruises, they're fine. How Maggie ended up being the odd one out I wish I understood." Jackson rubbed his forehead with the base of his palm, trying to fathom all that had occurred in such a small amount of time. An hour ago he and Erica had been laughing and toasting to the New Year. Now he stood here in the Emergency Room, watching his niece have to suffer yet another crisis. Bianca wasn't the only reason he was there though.

No, he had to admit that Maggie had managed to find a place of her own in his heart. The sheer amount of devotion and love she showed Bianca was enough to make him love her himself, much like another daughter.

"Well, why don't I take you upstairs to the ICU waiting room. That's where they'll be bringing Miss Stone once all her tests are done. I'm afraid I'll have to excuse myself afterwards though, it looks like I'm going to have a very long night."

Once everyone had been situated in the ICU waiting room, Dr. Thomas excused himself to go back down to the emergency room, offering up a silent prayer for both Maggie Stone and her loved ones.

Maria double checked the lab reports one more time before lifting herself out of the chair and heading across the third floor of PVH to the ICU waiting room. Her hand reached for the door knob, but she hesitated a bit before letting herself into the room. As a neurosurgeon, she'd had to do this far too many times for her liking. It was never easy talking to loved ones of a patient. In her line of expertise, the news was very often not of the good variety. And it was twice as hard for her now.

She knew these people, they were her friends.

Maria took one more deep breath and then opened the door, stepping inside the room, feeling the tension and fear palpably. For some reason her gaze zeroed directly in on Bianca, taking in the slumping of her shoulders, her porcelain cheeks blemished with tear tracks, and her eyes almost completely bloodshot from crying.

"Maria?" Maria's attention was drawn away from Bianca when David stepped forward, concern radiating off of him in waves.

She gave him a small sympathetic smile before nodding an acknowledgement to the rest of the occupants in the room. She glanced back around David again to see Bianca at full attention now, sitting anxiously in her seat, Erica holding both of her hands in a vice like grip.

"Why don't we all sit down and I'll update you on what's going on with Maggie." She nodded over David's shoulder for a moment, before making her way to Bianca's side and sitting next to her on the opposite side of Erica.

Bianca looked up at Maria, tears still bubbling over. "Maria, did you get the test results? Is Maggie ok?"

Maria looked compassionately at Bianca for a moment before getting down to the nitty gritty. "I did get the results. We ran a CT scan and an MRI on Maggie. The CT scan came back negative, but on the MRI I noticed a minor area of distorted coloration. I've checked and double checked the charts, and my best diagnosis would be that Maggie has a little swelling in her brain." Maria stopped when she felt Bianca start trembling next to her. She quickly continued. "I'm almost one hundred percent sure that she's not hemorrhaging, and given the severity of the blow she took to her skull, I'm honestly not surprised she's swelling a bit."

"Maria, how much is a bit?" David interrupted her, knowing full well how sugar coated things like this could be when it came to delivering news to family members and loved ones.

Maria looked up at David, understanding the impatience of being a doctor relegated to the sidelines. "Honestly David, the swelling is really quite minor. It could definitely be much worse. But it's the reason that Maggie has yet to regain consciousness. We've started her on a steroidal therapy to try and bring the swelling down. If that works, and I have every confidence that it will, Maggie should be awake and talking within the next twelve to twenty four hours."

Bianca had been sitting there listening in an almost daze. She heard what Maria was telling them, but she felt as if she was floating away from her body. All that kept flashing into her mind was Maggie's face right before the explosion . The dance they shared. It was what she was clinging onto so tightly, afraid that it would be her last piece of Maggie. She had to know.

"Maria, is Maggie going to be alright?"

Maria was almost brought to tears by the lost tone in Bianca's voice. She sounded so broken, so defeated. Maria smiled gently at her, reaching down and squeezing her leg in reassurance.

"Bianca, I won't lie to you. The next twenty four hours are critical for Maggie. But if she can pull through and we can get that swelling to go down, then I think she'll be just fine. Once she wakes up, we'll be in good shape. Until then though, I can't promise you anything, I wish to God I could."

Bianca sat perched on the edge of the hard plastic chair, both hands grasping onto Maggie's free hand, the one not being used to pump what Bianca could only assume were the steroids she had vaguely remembered Maria talking about.

She sat hypnotized by the small drops flowing into the IV machine and making their way down the tube and into Maggie's arm. She wondered how something so small, something so seemingly insignificant, could be responsible for saving someone's life. How each of those tiny little drips of liquid could make all the difference between life and death. It scared her to realize that Maggie's very life could be completely dependant on whether the medicine in that bag above her bed worked the way it was supposed to.

Bianca glanced back down to their clasped hands, gently rubbing the pad of her thumb against the back of Maggie's, feeling the soft smoothness, and trying to will the comfort that touch usually brought, into her incredibly nervous body. The tears started up again before she could even try and stop them. Bianca lowered her head on top of where she held Maggie's hand, gently weeping beside her best friend, praying to God that she wouldn't lose Maggie, not now, not like this.

Even now the world is bleedin'
But feelin' just fine all numb
In our castle where we're always free
To choose never free enough
To find I wish somethin' would break
Cause we're runnin' out of time

And I am overcome
I am overcome
Holy water in my lungs

I am overcome

Lena watched Bianca from the window outside of Maggie's ICU room. There was such a strong part of her that just wanted to sweep in and hold Bianca as tight as she could. To do anything to make the pain go away. But she knew that was no longer her place. And she knew that she more than likely would be of no comfort anyway. The one person that could always make Bianca feel better, even for just a moment, was lying unconscious by Bianca's side.

"God Maggie, if you could see how much this was tearing Bianca apart, I have no doubt you'd move heaven and earth just to wake up and say hi to her." Lena smiled a bit at the visual that came to her mind with that thought. She knew full well that Maggie indeed would probably say something very much like that. Completely unaware that she had scared the life out of not just Bianca, but everyone who loved her.

One of the reasons that Lena couldn't bring herself to hold a grudge against Bianca's best friend was how completely humble the girl was. To a fault she sometimes thought. Lena didn't know much about Maggie's childhood, except for the bare basics that Bianca had told her when explaining their complicated relationship and it's roots that were sprung from Bianca's connection to Frankie. But she wondered if maybe Maggie just had a hard time believing that anyone could care *that* much about her. Lena couldn't help but realize how preposterous the idea was, considering even *she* cared about Maggie. And out of anyone in Pine Valley, she felt she had the most reason to NOT like Bianca's best friend. But yet despite all of it, the fighting, the jealousy, Lena was so very glad that Maggie was in Bianca's life. She only hoped now that their time wasn't about to be cut short, for both Bianca and Maggie's sake.

These women in the street pullin' out their hair
My master's in the yard givin' light to the unaware
This plastic little place is just a step amongst the stairs

And I am overcome, yeah
I am overcome, baby
Holy water in my lungs, yeah
I am overcome

Erica sat kneeling in the hospital chapel, hands clasped together in prayer, eyes shut tightly to ward off the tears threatening. Jackson stood behind her, reaching over and lighting a candle for Maggie. He hated feeling so helpless, seeing Erica trying so hard to be strong for both Bianca and Maggie. After snuffing out the small torch he used to light the prayer candle he reached down and gently squeezed Erica's shoulder in a show of support. She reached up, covering his hand with her own.

"Dear God, please. Please don't take Maggie from us. My daughter has suffered so much in her short life, please don't let her lose Maggie too. I don't think she could survive it." Erica paused in her prayer to wipe away the tears that had managed to escape. "Bianca loves her, she loves her so very much. If she never gets to share that love with Maggie it will kill her. I know it." Jackson squeezed again in comfort, urging Erica to not hold anything back. "I don't think any of us really realized how much we loved Maggie until now. I've known for a long while now that she had my total gratitude and appreciation. She saved Bianca, I believe that down to the very core of my being. But I didn't really understand until now that I wasn't just grateful to her. I love her in my own way as well. She's become a member of my family, a very integral part of it. We can't lose her, not now."

Jackson kneeled down and turned Erica into his embrace, rubbing her back in gentle circles in an attempt at soothing her. As he felt her relax into his arms he looked up at the statue of Christ that hung in front of the chapel.


So drive me out, yeah
Out to that open field
Turn the ignition off
And spin around
Your help is here
But I'm parked in this open space
Blockin' the gates of love

And I am overcome, yeah
I am overcome, baby
Holy water in my lungs, yeah
I am overcome, yeah-yeah

Bianca continued to silently cry into Maggie's hand, feeling the salty drops making both of their palms slick with the moisture. She thought back to what David and the lady paramedic had said. Talk to her. Anchor her here.

I am overcome, oh lord
I am overcome, baby
Holy water in my lungs, holy water, holy water
I am overcome

"Maggie, I really hope you can hear me. Because if you can that means that you're still here with us. With me." Bianca paused to try and gather her thoughts before she continued.

"I think I'm finally beginning to understand what you felt like all these months. Watching me drown in all the pain I felt, in all the shame that I was convinced belonged to me." She leaned down to place a delicate kiss on Maggie's hand.

Beautiful drowning
This beautiful drowning
This holy water
This holy water
Is in my lungs

"You saved me Maggie. That day at the Valley Inn, the minute I saw you come sweeping in, I knew. I knew that if I just could tell you that eventually I'd be ok. And I was right. Because Maggie, I'm finally starting to be ok. You did that. You put the broken pieces of my soul back together. I didn't think I could love you more than I had already, but I was wrong."

And I am overcome
I am overcome, yeah-yeah
And I, and I, and I am overcome
I am overcome, lord

Bianca stood up from the uncomfortable chair and ever so gently eased herself onto Maggie's bed, curling up beside her and resting their joined hands lightly on Maggie's stomach.

"You need to wake up Maggie. You need to hear me when I tell you how in love with you I am. I need to see those gorgeous chocolate eyes of yours. I can't imagine going through the rest of my life never seeing them again. I need you Maggie. Our little girl needs you. She IS our little girl, in every single way that matters. You can't leave us. Not now. Not ever." Bianca's tears started anew, stinging her bloodshot eyes. She made sure there wasn't any way she could toss and hurt Maggie even more, before settling and drifting off into a light slumber, holding onto her soulmate, hoping to God and anyone up there that would listen that when she woke up this all would be some terrible nightmare.

The first thing she could feel was pain. Throbbing and pulsing right behind her temples, beating a cadence to some phantom drummer. As she tried in vain to block out the waves of nauseating pain flowing through her skull she became aware of another sensation, this one much more pleasant. With her eyes still closed she tried to concentrate on the wonderful feelings coursing through her, despite the pain in her head. She could feel a warm hand in her own, soft breath on her neck, a gentle head on her shoulder. Without even opening her eyes she knew instinctively that it was Bianca. She breathed in Bianca's scent, lilac perfume with just a small hint of something sweeter. And totally Bianca.

Maggie couldn't help but feel comforted by the presence of her best friend. Her memory was a bit fuzzy, but from the throbbing in her head she knew that whatever had happened had to have landed her in the hospital. She experimentally opened up one eye, trying to adjust to the light of the room without it sending her screaming in pain. All of the lights were turned off, the dim reflections from the street lamps outside her window filtering through being the only source of illumination in the relatively large hospital room. Maggie glanced outside for a moment, seeing the first tendrils of sunshine starting to make their way over the horizon. She quickly looked around for a clock, wondering just how long she had been out of it.

"Mmmm, Maggie?"

The movement was enough to rouse Bianca from her sleep. Maggie turned her attention back to her friend, gripping her hand tighter and curling an arm around her shoulder to make sure that Bianca didn't go flying off the bed when she came completely around.

"Wakey wakey Binks." Maggie stroked the back of Bianca's head, trying to usher her awake.

Bianca stirred some more before stiffening in Maggie's embrace for a moment. Maggie, still worried that she would fall out of the bed, pulled her in as tightly as she could.

"Maggie?" Bianca slowly raised her head up from Maggie's shoulder, daring to hope yet scared to believe what reality was telling her.

Maggie chuckled a bit at the wonderment in Bianca's voice, not understanding the true depth of how scared Bianca had been. "Well look who finally woke up."

Bianca gaped at Maggie, "ME? You're the one that's been out cold for the last how many hours. You scared us half to death!"

Maggie turned a bit to be able to look Bianca in the eyes. It was a little difficult in the relatively small bed, but she managed, just pulling Bianca closer to her as she adjusted herself. She brought her right hand around to gently stroke away the tears that were silently coursing their way down Bianca's alabaster cheek. "Bianca, I'm fine. See, nothing to worry about." Maggie tried to calm her friend down, still not completely comprehending how severely she had been injured.

Bianca reveled in the soft touch of Maggie's fingers on her cheek for a moment before responding, "Nothing to worry about?! Maggie, you were unconscious all night long! I was SO scared!" Bianca couldn't control the new onslaught of tears. She was completely tired of crying, but her supply of tears seemed to be endless. She calmed herself and continued, "Do you even remember what happened?" Bianca couldn't believe that Maggie would be acting so flippant if she understood the entire gravity of what the two of them had gone through the night before.

Maggie racked her brain for a moment, trying to clear up the haze of memories she had floating at the back of her mind. A small smile came to her face as the images of the previous night floated through her head. "I remember coming over to you after Lena and David went onto the dance floor. I asked you to dance with me." Maggie's smile grew even brighter, matched only by the similar one now adorning Bianca's face.

"Glad you at least remember that." Bianca giggled a bit, not worried at all about wearing her heart on her sleeve. After the last six hours, she wasn't about to go back into hiding.

"Of course I remember that, I've wanted to dance with you again ever since we went to the Prom together."

Bianca blushed a bit, tucking an errant strand of dark hair behind her ear. "Maggie......"

Maggie decided to save the teasing for later. "Right, so we were dancing and I was just about to tell you that I...." Maggie stopped herself, not entirely sure whether now was the best time to tell Bianca her truth.

Bianca, picking up on Maggie's hesitancy, decided to try and fill in the gaps for her. Getting Maggie to remember everything about the explosion was her top priority at the moment. "Do you remember the building starting to shake?"

Maggie looked momentarily confused before a look of realization crossed her features. "Oh God! I remember, I remember everything now. We were dancing and I wanted to tell you......something. So I pulled us off of the dance floor and over towards the bar. The last thing I remember is seeing the casing of the bar starting to fall towards us." A look of horror came over Maggie. "Oh my God Bianca, are you ok? Is the baby ok? Oh God!"

Bianca couldn't help but smile. As upset as Maggie was making herself, Bianca felt such a sense of love and safety in that moment. Here Maggie was, lying in a hospital bed with a bandage wrapped completely around her head, having been in a coma all night long. And she was worrying about her. Bianca had to fight the strong urge not to just close the few scant inches between them and kiss Maggie for all she was worth.

She placed a delicate finger to Maggie's lips, effectively shushing her. "I'm fine. And the baby is fine. David checked me out in one of the empty rooms after they brought you up here to ICU, just to be on the safe side."


"I promise you Maggie. Everything is fine." Bianca smiled again, never once removing her finger from Maggie's lips. "Because of you, we're ok." Bianca paused to draw up the image from the previous night into her mind. A small shudder passed through her body at the reminder of just how close she had come to losing Maggie. "The bar started to come down on top of us. I remember looking at you, completely terrified, and then I saw it. This little glimmer when you looked back at me. And I knew that you'd make sure that we were safe. I've never felt more sure of anything." Bianca stopped because the water works had once again turned themselves on.

"You know, I'd do anything to keep you and your little girl safe Bianca." Maggie once again gently wiped away Bianca's tears, continuing to softly caress her cheek.

"Maggie, when we couldn't find you........."

"Shh, it's ok....."

"No, it's NOT ok. Maggie I really thought that I was going to lose you tonight. I sat there in that ambulance, and later on in the waiting room, and all that kept going through my mind was that I was never going to see you again." Bianca paused to bring her left hand up from where it had been resting against Maggie's hip to gently stroke her friend's golden brown locks. "I'd never get to hug you, to see you smile, to feel your touch. Maggie, the thought of that almost killed me."

Maggie sat completely stunned for a moment, relishing the feel of Bianca's fingers cascading through her hair. She couldn't pry her eyes away from Bianca's intense gaze, she was completely enraptured by the beautiful soul mere inches away from her. Without giving anymore thought to it, going completely on instinct and her own pent up emotions, Maggie closed the remaining distance between them and gently captured Bianca's lips with her own in a sweet and loving kiss. Bianca, though taken by surprise at first, was more than willing to reciprocate, trailing her hand to the back of Maggie's neck, mindful still of her head wound, and pulled her closer, completely getting caught up in the sensations of Maggie's lips exploring her own.

When Maggie felt like she was starting to lose complete control she reluctantly pulled back, breaking the embrace. She cautiously opened her eyes to gauge Bianca's reaction, pleasantly surprised to see her smiling, her own eyes still sealed shut.

"You kissed me."

Maggie smiled at the sound of total contentment in Bianca's voice. "You kissed me back."

Simultaneously. "Why?"

Maggie smiled again, mirroring the grin spread across Bianca's face. Bianca sobered for a moment, but still keeping the happiness she was feeling easily visible to Maggie. "Before the explosion, you were about to tell me something. What was it?" Bianca had pretty much figured things out, but she needed to hear Maggie say it. Their relationship was so complex that there needed to be complete honesty and understanding if things were going to move forward in the direction she was pretty confident they were headed.

Maggie's smile softened, as she reached up and gently brushed her fingertips over Bianca's forehead, trying to erase the ever so tiny worry lines that were etched there. She understood the reasons behind the uncertainty, and she was determined to not screw this up. After months, years even, of constantly dancing around things, it was time to be completely open and honest. The night before proved to her that time was indeed precious, and she was tired of wasting it. She wanted the rest of her life to start right now, with Bianca.

"I was about to tell you that I love you. That I can't imagine not having you in my life for even a second. That it makes me so jealous to see you with Lena that I've literally started to see green whenever you're together." Maggie brought her free hand down to gently caress Bianca's slightly swollen stomach. " I want to be there for you every single moment of your pregnancy. I want to hold your hand when you're in labor, kiss your tears away. I want to watch your daughter grow up, watch her take her first steps, be there the first time she says Mommy. I want to make sure that she always knows that no matter who her father is, she is the luckiest girl in the world to be your daughter." Maggie paused to wipe away the tears that had started to track their way down her own cheeks. "And of course, to make sure that once she hits her teens she doesn't start bringing any kind of losers home. Only the best for your daughter."

Bianca giggled a bit through her tears, imagining Maggie standing there next to some six foot teenager, reading him the riot act for bringing their daughter home past curfew.

"Bianca, I want to be there for all of it. Standing by your side, watching her grow up to be just as beautiful, intelligent, loving and compassionate a woman as her mother. I want to be there, as your best friend, your shoulder to lean on, your partner.....your lover. Your everything."

Bianca couldn't hold back anymore. Maggie had just opened herself up completely, laid her whole heart on the line in a moment of pure vulnerability, trust and love. Bianca was completely overcome that the only thing she could even possibly imagine doing was to pull Maggie back to her and capture her in a kiss more heated and more passionate than the first one they had shared.

Hands wound into silky tresses, bodies completely fused together, Bianca and Maggie released all of their pent up emotions into that one single embrace. Clutching each other desperately, both of them wondering in the back of their minds why they were ever so scared of this. It felt so completely right, to both of them.

Bianca suddenly remembered something that she had wanted to tell Maggie. Something that she knew would reassure the blonde that her feelings were entirely reciprocated. Very reluctantly she pulled her lips away from Maggie's, ending the passionate kiss much too soon for her tastes. Bianca leaned her forehead against Maggie's, their lips still lightly brushing up against each other with each breath, she uttered on solitary word.


Maggie, still a bit dazed by the incredible kiss they had just shared, didn't quite catch on to what Bianca was saying. "What?"

Bianca placed a light, delicate kiss on Maggie's slightly swollen lips once more before explaining. "Ours." Kiss. "Our life." Kiss. "Our future." Kiss. "Our daughter."

Erica stood gazing in the small window of Maggie's hospital room, completely unnoticed by the two young women inside. She smiled a rare smile, one full of happiness and contentment for her daughter. For the first time since Bianca had told her she was gay, Erica was completely at peace with it. She knew now that Maggie and Bianca had finally found their way to each other, her daughter would be happy. Maggie did that for her, she always had, even during Bianca's darkest days, Maggie had been the one bright light of hope in her life. She could make her smile, even if it was only for a moment, when no one else in the world could. And Erica would be forever grateful to her for it.

She peered back into the room one last time, seeing Bianca curled up in Maggie's arms on the bed. She had her one leg draped over Maggie's own, her arm tucked firmly around Maggie's waist. And Maggie was holding on as tight as she could it looked to Erica. One arm wrapped securely around Bianca, their foreheads nestled firmly together. Erica chuckled affectionately at the sight, knowing that the second a nurse walked into the room the two of them would be in for one heck of lecture. She also knew her daughter though. Bianca wouldn't move from Maggie's embrace for anything now, let alone some old battleaxe of a nurse.

With one last smile in their direction she turned from the window and started to make her way to the elevator, deciding that a bubble bath was sorely needed after the last twenty four hours. As she stood waiting for the elevator car to reach her floor, she turned once more and glanced back at Maggie's room before clasping her hands together tightly for a moment, raising her head briefly in prayer. "Thank you."

7 Months Later

Growing up I never really thought much about love. I didn’t have it then, so why did I expect to have it when I was older. In my household the only real emotion I ever felt on a constant basis was sadness. My father was gone, and I knew he’d never be coming back. Why would he anyway? There was nothing for him there, that‘s why he left in the first place. My mother was always only half aware, even on her good days. Sometimes I wonder if she even realized Frankie and I were her kids, in her continual haze she probably thought we were just any ordinary person. Nothing special. And growing up for years like that, I learned that maybe we were just that. Nothing special.

Until Bianca.

From the moment I met her, there was something in her eyes that told me that maybe there was something about me that was worthwhile. Of course it was all shadowed by Frankie’s ghost for the first couple of months I spent in Pine Valley. But eventually that fog lifted, and I realized that she was seeing me. And god, what I would have given to see myself through her eyes, just for a moment. Now though, now I can sometimes, even if only for a few seconds. And it’s the most amazing thing in the entire world.

These past seven months have been the most incredible days of my life. Bianca’s love makes me feel indescribable. And the love that I have for her and Miranda is something I never thought I was capable of. That day in the birthing room, seeing Miranda take her first breath, cutting the umbilical cord, holding her and then being able to place her into Bianca’s arms. As long as I live, I don’t think there will be anything that even comes close to the magic of that moment.

Although I’ve decided to try and see if that will hold true. Which is why I’m sitting here, nervously playing around with the small ring box I have hidden inside my jeans pocket. I actually hadn’t planned on proposing so soon, but David had pulled me aside a few days ago, knowing that I already had bought Bianca’s ring, and suggested to me that maybe the summer festival here in the park would be the perfect opportunity. I glance around at all the families sitting out on their blankets and chairs here tonight, waiting anxiously for the fireworks to begin and I know now that he was right.

“Sweetie, are you ok?” I turn back around to look at the love of my life, sitting perched with her back up against the large maple we’re sitting under. She’s cradling Miranda against her, rocking her slightly to put her to sleep before the fireworks begin. We had debated for over an hour on whether or not to bring our daughter along with us, but eventually we both decided that we didn’t want to spend the night out without an integral part of our family. Miranda seems to be quite the heavy sleeper, not to mention that not much seems to faze her. So I’m hoping that she won’t mind the noise too much. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to do what I’m about to do without her in the near vicinity. We’re a family, and I’m hoping to make that permanent very soon. It’s only right that she be here with us.

“How’s she doing?” I inch myself a little closer to Bianca, resting my chin on her shoulder and gazing at the perfect little angel in her arms.

“She’s out like a light. Here’s hoping she stays that way.” Bianca smiles down at her for a moment before turning her attention to me. “Are you sure you’re ok Maggie, you seem awfully distracted tonight.”

For a moment I start to panic. I don't want to do it just yet, but Bianca has always been able to read me like a book. I can't hide anything from her. And usually there's never anything to hide in the first place. The silver band encasing a diamond burning a hole through my pocket right now being the exception. I trail my gaze away from her for a moment, trying to find something, anything, to buy me a few more minutes. Just then I recognize one of my nurses from all those months ago.

"Bianca, is that Michelle over there?" I discreetly point in the direction I saw her.

Bianca turns her inquisitive stare away from me begrudgingly and glances towards where I'm gesturing. I can tell she was moments away from knowing something was definitely up with me. Way to dodge the bullet, Stone.

"Yeah, it does look like her! Oh my gosh." I turn towards my girlfriend, wondering why my spotting of Michelle elicited such a strong reaction from her. She turns to face me again, seeing my perplexed look. "It's not just Michelle honey. You remember the paramedic I told you about? The one who tried to keep me calm in the ambulance that night you were hurt?" I see her try and suppress a small shudder, the same one that seems to come over her every time the memory of New Year's Eve is brought up.

Of course I remembered that though. We had been laying together on my hospital bed, just relaxing in each other's arms while I waited for Maria to give me the clean bill of health. We had actually been really lucky, the nurses thankfully had incredible timing, because they never once came in while Bianca had climbed up into bed with me. Which was kind of amazing considering throughout my three day stay at PVU last winter, she was curled up against me 75 percent of the time. The nurses always seemed to pop in just after Bianca had left. Even if it was just for a bathroom break, they never once managed to find us snuggled up together.

Except for that last day. We had been laying there, both of us right on the edges of morpheus when the door to my room gently opened and a short heavy set woman came walking in. I remember at first I froze completely, thinking that we were so busted. The nurse looked like she wouldn't take any kind of bull from anyone. The closer she came though the more I realized that maybe my assumptions were off. She had a twinkle in her eye and a slight mischievous smirk crossing her lips.

"So Miss Stone, I see Miss Montgomery has been keeping you company. I assume you're comfortable?" The smirk had never left her face and when she said that it only intensified.

I blushed a bit, but I didn't attempt to remove myself from Bianca's embrace. Before I had a chance to respond, Bianca beat me to it.

"Well I'm not getting a crink in my shoulder for no reason. At least I better not be Maggie." She turned away from the nurse's amused gaze to wink at me, sticking her tongue out in the process.

I pulled my arm around her and brought it up to her shoulder, massaging it gently for a moment. "My poor baby, does that feel any better?" I returned her wink before turning my attention back to the nurse, her smirk had disappeared to be replaced by a gentle smile. "Sorry, was there something you needed?" I wasn't really sorry. She was the one that had disrupted our nice and peaceful afternoon of snuggling. But I saw no reason to be impolite.

She laughed a bit before responding. "Sure you are kiddo." I flashed her an impish grin, unconsciously running my hand up and down Bianca's arm. "I actually just came in to give you your release papers. Dr. Grey got tied up with an emergency they brought in, and she didn't want you having to wait until she got free." I smiled gratefully, not wanting to be stuck in this place any longer than necessary.

"Thank you!" I glance over at Bianca who's smiling up at me, her enthusiasm at having some actual *real* alone time matching my own.

The nurse watched our exchange with a grin before continuing. "Now Miss Stone, you're going to have to take it easy the next week or so, at the very least until your scheduled checkup with Dr. Grey on the tenth." She glanced at Bianca before looking back at me. I was pretty sure I knew exactly what she was getting at. Before I could even begin to think of a response she continued. "Dr Grey also wanted me to remind you that it would be best if you stayed with someone for the next day or two, just to make sure you don't have any complications."

"Don't worry, we live together. I got it covered." Bianca jumped in, tightening her hold on me a bit.

The nurse gave us both a small smirk again before taking the now signed papers back from my grasp. "OK, well just remember Miss Stone, rest, and lots of it. Although I do believe you'll be in good hands with Miss Montgomery here." She smiled one more time in our direction before turning and heading towards the door.

"Thank you........." I fumbled, realizing I hadn't even bothered to catch her name.

She stopped and turned back around when she reached the door. "Michelle. And you're welcome." She went to head out but paused and turned to look at us again. I could see the hesitation in her body language and I wondered what the problem was. "You know, you two are the talk of the floor the last few days." I locked eyes with Bianca for a moment before turning back to Michelle with a puzzled look. "Dr. Grey and Dr. Hayward had both given all us nurses strict orders not to reprimand you two for the snuggling." I buried my head in the crook of Bianca's neck, I could feel my face turning crimson already. Where we that obvious?

"Is it that uncommon?" Bianca was trying not to laugh, I could just tell by the tone of her voice.

"Actually, considering how small the beds are, it is kind of unusual. Even when it does happen, most of the nurses, especially on this floor, are quick to put a stop to it. But I don't think we've ever had any attending physician give us orders NOT to do anything about it. Let alone two separate doctors." She gave us an amused smile before continuing. "You two really seemed to have gotten a lot of panties in a twist, especially the older nurses here." Bianca and I both blushed. "Personally though, I think it's just adorable." She smiled at us one last time before walking through the door. "Take good care of each other." floated back into us from the hallway.

"Well that was interesting." I giggled a bit, turning to look at Bianca who's eyes were still fixated on the closed door to my room. "Bianca?"

"Sorry baby, she just reminded me of someone."

I grinned a bit, "Baby?"

Bianca blushed, realizing what she had said. Not that I minded at all of course, but I couldn't help but tease her. She looks so cute flustered.

"Shush you." She playfully swatted me on the arm before sobering a bit. "Is it ok, what I called you I mean?"

I pulled myself up a bit in her embrace before softly brushing my lips against her own. "It's more than ok." I smiled and tucked an errant strand of dark hair behind her ear. "So tell me, who did she remind you of?"

That was when she told me about what I know now must have been an awful fifteen minute ambulance ride. I pulled myself out of the memory and lifted myself away from Bianca. "I think I'm gonna go over and say hi, see if she remembers me."

"Ok sweetie, I'm going to stay here, I don't want to wake Miranda up, the fireworks are going to start soon."

I leaned down and gave her a quick kiss before I made my way over to where Michelle and the other woman were standing in line for a cone of cotton candy. As nonchalantly as I could, I filed into line behind them. Bianca loves cotton candy anyway, might as well grab us a snack in the process.

"Well if it isn't Miss Stone. Or is it Montgomery now?" I glance up from fumbling around with my wallet and lock my gaze with the playful one of Michelle. My mind catches up a few seconds later, registering what she said. Of course I can immediately feel my cheeks redden. If she only knew. I briefly glance back at Bianca, who gives us a quick wave, making sure not to jostle Miranda too much.

Michelle returns the gesture before raising her eyebrow pointedly at me. "So?"

I smirk a bit, "You're awfully nosy for someone who barely knows us." I make sure my tone isn't at all hostile, just playful. For some reason I can't bring myself to be at all annoyed by her insinuations. There's just something so laid back about her entire presence, it makes me feel completely at ease too.

The eyebrow never lowers itself, but a small smirk now joins it. "I didn't hear a denial."

I lower my head for a moment, trying to hide the blush that's returning to my cheeks. "Oh honey, look at that, I was right!" Michelle leans over and kisses the other woman on the cheek, smiling in triumph. "Maggie, this is..."

"Amber" I cut her off, extending my hand out.

"Wait, how did you know that?" Michelle looks completely lost, which I have to admit, is rather amusing. The shoe is definitely on the other foot now.

Amber and I share a small private smile before I elaborate a bit. "Bianca's told me a lot about what happened that night. Thank you."

"Honey, how do you know Bianca?" Michelle is still totally confused.

"Don't you remember, I was working New Year's Eve?" Amber gives her partner a pointed look. I think I can literally see the wheels turning in her head.

"Wait, Maggie and Bianca were the two you told me about? How come you never said anything, you knew Maggie was my patient."

"Honestly, I don't really know. I'm sorry sweetie." Amber leans over and gently pecks Michelle on the lips, trying to soothe her. Not at all caring that I'm standing not more than two feet away from them.

I turn my head away, not wanting to intrude in on their intimate moment. "So you never answered me. Stone or Montgomery?"

I glance back, both of them now grinning conspiratorially at me. I shoot a quick look over to the blanket where Bianca is, noticing that she's completely pre-occupied with Miranda in her bassinet. I purposely turn my back to her and guide them to stand in front of me.

"Well, I'm thinking Stone-Montgomery." I discreetly pull the velvet box out of my pocket and open it up to reveal the pear cut silver diamond ring.

"Oh my god! You're going to propose TONIGHT?" I quickly tried to shush her, Michelle was practically screaming it.

"I guess I can't hide it that well, since you nailed it on the head the second you saw me." I smirked.

Michelle lowered her head a bit in what I could have sworn looked almost like a blush. "Well actually I was just teasing you. I had no idea."

"Well lets hope Bianca is as clueless as you were." I wink at both of them before quickly shutting the ring box and slip it back into my pocket. "Anyway, I better get back to her before she starts getting any ideas."

Amber reaches over and gives me an impulsive hug, whispering in my ear. "She's all yours Maggie. Trust me. I saw it with my own eyes that night." She pulls back from the hug and gives me a radiant smile. "Congratulations!"

"Well she hasn't said yes yet!"

Amber gives me a pointed look before pulling on Michelle's hand and guiding her away. "Come on baby, let Maggie get back to her girl."

"Good luck Maggie!" Michelle surreptitiously gives me a thumbs up as we head in opposite directions. I'm halfway back to our blanket before I remember the cotton candy.

A quick jog back to the stand and 3 dollars later I'm back by Bianca's side, once again peering over her shoulder to watch our daughter counting the sheep in dreamland.

“So what’s the scoop with them?” Bianca asks me, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.

“I never knew you were such a gossip hound honey,” I tease her.

“Well another gay couple, that we actually know, isn’t the most common thing around here Mags,”

I settle myself behind Bianca, wrapping my arms around her waist as she picks at the cone of pink cotton candy. “So you caught that little smooch too huh?”

Bianca wordlessly offers me a bite from her cone, making sure to let her fingers linger just long enough between my lips to tease me. “Kinda hard to miss.”

“Wasn’t it nice though? Seeing two people that much in love, letting themselves have the freedom to express it whenever and wherever they want?” I sigh in contentment, realizing that’s exactly what my life is like now. Thank god I finally wised up enough to own up to my feelings for the gorgeous brunette in my arms. I can’t even imagine where I would be at this exact moment if I hadn’t.

Bianca turns around in my embrace, reaching up to gently stroke my cheek before placing her sugar coated lips against my own in a soft, loving kiss. After a few moments in pure heaven she pulls back a bit to give me a gentle smile, “I can certainly relate.”

We‘re broken from our reverie by the announcement over the intercom system in the park. “Ladies and gentleman, the fireworks are set to begin momentarily. On behalf of the Pine Valley Chamber of Commerce we’d like to welcome you. This year we decided to change things up a bit for the show, so please put your hands together for Candy Cane, our resident DJ for the evening!”

I glance down curiously at Bianca who has returned to her previous position, curled up in my lap with her hands resting over my own wrapped around her waist. “Candy Cane? Please tell me your mother doesn’t have some long lost sister that I don’t know about.”

Bianca giggles a bit, “God I hope not. I’m not sure if I can take anymore unknown relatives popping up out of the woodwork. Greenlee’s performance last year alone was enough to last me a lifetime.”

I wince a bit at that, remembering the circumstances of the great wedding interruptus as David had called it. I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep myself together that day. I felt like curling into a ball and sobbing until my eyes swelled shut. And knowing the pain I felt *for* Bianca, I can’t even begin to imagine how she got through it having actually experienced it herself. Her strength and bravery continues to astound me, day in and day out.

Bianca must have felt me cringe because she tightens the hold she has on our interlocked hands resting at her waist. “Don’t go there baby. It’s in the past. I just want to concentrate on the future. Our future.”

I snuggle into the crook of her neck from behind. “Together.”

We sit together in contented silence for a few minutes, waiting for the fireworks to start when a familiar song starts to float through the air. It’s one I’ve become rather familiar with over the last few months, having listened to it on repeat quite a few times. I’m pulled out of my thoughts as I hear Bianca gently singing the lyrics to me.

‘Daytime I'm fine, everything is back normal. Last night I thought that I would die. I had nightmares, I was so scared. Thank god that you are by my side, to hold me when I cry.’

I tighten my hold on her as I pick up the next verse, singing softly into her ear.

‘I wanna be strong but I don't want to be alone tonight. I wanna believe that I can save the world, and make it right , but I'm only human. And you've got a hero's face, right here in your arms is the safest place. The safest place.’

Before I can continue, Bianca’s angelic voice once again whispers the words to me and me alone.

‘It feels so real, you showed me I can trust you, with emotions I had locked away. It was your touch, your words, they heal the deepest part of me, that only you can see.’

As the last few words ghost past her lips she turns around to face me, ever so gently reaching up to cup my cheek in her delicate hand, a few tears misting at the edges of her perfect chocolate orbs.

‘As long as I am with you. As long as I can feel you. That's all I need to keep me going, on and on and on and on…’

She trails off, emotion taking away her voice for the moment. I lean in and place a heartfelt kiss against her rose colored lips, resting my forehead against her own as I pull away. Looking deeply into her eyes, into her soul, I finish the chorus of the song I know so well by heart.

Right here in your arms is the safest place.’

Deciding that there possibly could never be a more perfect moment than the one we’ve found ourselves in right now, I reach into the pocket of my jeans and pull out the velvet encased ring. Pulling back a small bit from our embrace, brushing an errant strand of silky hair away from Bianca’s eyes in the process. “I love you so much Bianca.” Without waiting for the reciprocation I knew would come, I bring the small box up into her line of vision, opening it up with one hand, hoping in the process I wouldn’t end up making an idiot of myself by dropping it. But taking my other hand away from the small of my girlfriend‘s, hopefully soon to be fiancée, back, was not something I was willing to do.

“Oh God!” Bianca’s hand flies up to cover her mouth in shock. The tears that were edging their way to the surface moments ago have burst through the dam and are now flowing down her alabaster cheeks unchecked.

“I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about this Bianca. I mean God, anything I could have possibly ever come up with would never have been good enough for you. And then you go and serenade me like you just did and it all fell into place.” I grin up at her, my own tears almost blinding me. “I don’t know how you do it baby, how you can just make everything ok. Better than ok, perfect. But I want to spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out. I want us to raise your daughter together, to have a family, to give Miranda a couple of little brothers or sisters.” The tears come even harder, from both of us. “I never want us to be apart ever again. For the rest of our lives. Nothing in this world could ever make me happier than you do. Bianca, will you marry me?”

As I’m waiting with bated breath for her answer, the first rocket lights up the summer sky, bathing Bianca in it’s heavenly glow.


Please tell me I heard her right. “Yes?”

“Yes! A thousand times yes! Maggie! I love you! God how I love you!” She launches herself into my arms, pulling me to her in the most passionate kiss we’ve ever shared. I trailed my tongue against her bottom lip, requesting entrance into her own wet cavern. She parted her mouth without hesitation, inviting me in and instantly seeking my own tongue out. They hugged together, embracing like lovers, dueling, neither one of us demanding control, just relaxing in the intimacy of the action. Before either one of us got so caught up that we gave a show to the rest of the families situated around us I pulled away ever so reluctantly. Just enough to reach around and pull the ring out of its box.

“May I?” I reach for her left hand, holding the silver encased diamond band on the tip of finger waiting for permission.

Tears continued to pour from her eyes, her cheeks completely saturated with their salty residue. Her voice stolen with emotion she instead nodded her head vigorously. I could feel the smile widen itself immeasurably as I slid the ring down onto her finger. I brought her hand up to my lips and placed a delicate kiss on it just to convince myself that it was really resting there. Together we gazed down at the sparkling diamond for a moment, matching grins adorning our faces.

Bianca reached in and kissed me one more time, a sweet and loving kiss, a promise of a lifetime more to come. As the fireworks continue to go off above our heads I hear Miranda gurgle a bit in her bassinet. Bianca reluctantly releases my lips from her own to check on our daughter. Content that Miranda is still asleep, she curls back up into my lap, resting her head against my shoulder and sighing in perfect contentment. “So, just how many brothers and sisters were you thinking?”

I chuckle a bit, “Well lets see, three maybe. Gotta have at least an even number. So I was thinking, another little girl and maybe twin boys. You do know it tends to run in the family.”

“Wow, how could I have missed that.” Bianca teases me back.

I snuggle myself back into the crook of her neck, placing a delicate kiss there as I do so. “I don’t care how many we have. As long as they all take after you I couldn’t be happier.”


“Shh, lets just have the most fabulous wedding. And honeymoon, don’t forget the honeymoon.” I grin mischievously, getting an embarrassed giggle from my fiancée in the process. “After that, we can argue all you want about Miranda’s siblings.”

“Well then, does that mean we can argue over where to go on our honeymoon now?”

“Anywhere you want honey.” I reply, kissing the nape of her neck.




Oh, I like that one! “Definitely!”




What?! “NO!”

Bianca bursts into uncontrollable fits of giggles. “Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.”

“Way to kill the mood Binks.” I pout, not all that grumpy, just not willing to admit she had definitely got me there for a minute.

“Let me make it up to you.” She turns towards me and pulls me forward into another steamy kiss, one hand reaching up into my hair to bring us closer together. After a few minutes of complete and utter bliss Bianca pulls away and goes back to watching the light show above us. “So, Hawaii?”


The End

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