DISCLAIMER: All My Children is the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The time since "The Guy Kachel Incident", as it came to be known, had passed quickly. Maggie stayed at home, nursing her hand, which had turned all sorts of interesting colors. Bianca had gone back to work full time, but was making it home early each night so she could spend some time with Miranda and Maggie. While Bianca had returned to sleeping in her own bedroom, Bianca and Maggie's "good night" ritual seemed to be lengthening, neither really wishing to part with the other.
Patrick and Guilia had survived their first full day together in ten years, and it seemed to have made Patrick remember how much he truly loved his wife. They were going to be trying, at least for a little bit, to spend more time together. Patrick had also been given a reprieve on having his mobile phone stuffed in an unfortunate place when a compromise had been reached. He could send texts for short communications, but phone calls after 9:30 PM, were now strictly forbidden.
Guy was to be found each morning standing across the street from the Cambias building, taking pictures of Bianca's comings and goings. No one was sure why that was picture worthy, but since they had effectively shut him down from sneaking pictures at the penthouse, there wasn't much else for him to do.
Act I: Ascent
July 10th 10:03 PM
Bianca and Maggie had stayed in for the weekend. Maggie really had not relished the thought of having Bianca have to cut her food for her in public while her right hand was still in bandages. They were quite content though watching movies, playing with Miranda, cuddling on the couch, stealing the odd kiss here or there. There was one thing in all of this that puzzled Bianca, and she was feeling the need for an answer what were they now?
Maggie had started referring to their 'relationship', but there hadn't seemed to be a good time to discuss it yet. Bianca had looked for the right time all weekend to broach the subject, but none had ever presented itself. Even now wasn't good as Maggie walked back in to the kitchen, finishing up a call with Patrick.
"Yeah, that works for me this is so going to rock ok, yeah see you in the morning. Bonne nuit!" Maggie clicked the phone off and looked at Bianca. "What?"
Bianca realized her jaw was slacked a little. "Nothing, I just haven't really heard you so casually slip French into a conversation without your face getting all screwed up in concentration before."
Maggie snorted a laugh as she slipped her phone back in her pocket and walked over to the refrigerator to take a peak inside. "Oh please, I was only saying good night. I hope I can handle at least that much after being here five months."
"Well, it's a step in the right direction," Bianca said with a smile. "So, why are you seeing Patrick in the morning?"
Maggie retrieved a small package of strawberries from the fridge, shut the door, and walked over to the sink to rinse them off. "Well I wanted to talk to you about that. As much as I disliked the shopping trip the other day, I really didn't get to finish and I was hoping the offer was still open to do that." She flicked the faucet on with her left hand, and washed off a couple strawberries, one handed, as she talked. "I also need to see the health center at the Cambias building about getting my hand looked at again."
Bianca smirked. "I thought you didn't like the idea of me buying you all new clothes."
"I'm still not thrilled about the idea, but I kinda got halfway done and I'm going to look pretty funny mixing two distinctly different wardrobes together."
Bianca's smirk softened to a warm smile. "Of course you can continue shopping. Do you want to take Miranda to the office and leave her with me while you're out?"
Maggie shook off the strawberries, put them in a bowl, and shut off the water. "Actually, Guilia said she could come over with Patrick in the morning and watch her. She has tomorrow off and she'd love to see her."
"Good, well, it's all settled then. You can just ride in to work with me." Bianca watched Maggie trying to juggle a bowl of strawberries and the bag to be put away, all in one hand. "Here, you go and sit down; I'll put the strawberries away."
Maggie smiled and let her take the bag from her. She went over and sat down at the butcher block, and picked up a strawberry, biting in to half of it while she watched Bianca bend over into the fridge. She gulped hard and loudly at the sight. As Bianca turned to look at what the sound was, Maggie made a fist with her left hand and hit her chest like she was choking.
"You ok?" she asked, running over to pat her friend on the back.
"Yeah wrong pipe fine now," Maggie said, smiling weakly.
Bianca gave her back one final rub with the palm of her hand and then walked over to the other side of the block to sit down. She picked up the copy of French Vogue she'd been looking at earlier and started flipping through it again while Maggie perused a newspaper and ate her strawberries.
There was an odd domestic comfort to the scene. No one felt a pressure to entertain the other, no one felt the urge to fill the silence with talking, it was just two good friends, relaxing before starting another week.
No matter how comfortable it was, Bianca couldn't stop going over in her head about what to do along the course of asking Maggie what exactly their status was. Was it really that important to know, or could she just go along at this comfortable pace with her? She reached for her glass of wine she had been nursing off-and-on and lifted it to her lips to take a sip. As she did, she peaked over the top of her magazine at Maggie.
The shorter girl had a strawberry resting between her lips like she had forgotten it was there while reading an article. Her lips were forming a perfect 'O' and she was absentmindedly sucking on it so the strawberry moved up and down ever so slightly. When she did finally take a bite out of it, the bite was long and drawn out, a slight sucking sound as her teeth parted the strawberry in half, her top row of teeth beginning the bite.
Bianca sat there, her wine glass suspended in mid-air, having never quite made it to her lips, her mouth slightly agape, her mind going places that were wholly inappropriate when it came to someone she wasn't even 100% sure was her girlfriend yet. She finally snapped back to reality, shifted on her stool and took a deep gulp from her wine glass.
If she had looked at Maggie while taking the drink, instead of at the ceiling, she might have caught what could be mistaken for a self-satisfied smirk pass over her friend's face.
July 10th 11:00 PM
Bianca was starting to refer to this time of night as "The Awkward Hour". It followed its own little play-like script as they would spend time in the kitchen, do pointless little chores that didn't need to be done right then, if at all, each girl seemingly sizing the other up. Which would give in first and go for a good night kiss? Which girl's defenses would drop first? She kept expecting to find a nature documentary crew camped in the corner of the room, whispering about their mating dance as they filmed it for further study.
Maggie slapped her left palm against the front of her thigh, scanned the kitchen with her eyes, before issuing her nightly proclamation. "Well looks like everything's washed up, guess I'll head to bed " she pointed with her left index finger "and, I'll see you bright and early in the morning to head to the Cambias building."
The taller girl smiled at her warmly. "Are you sure you can pull your behind out of bed that early? You're still on summer vacation after all."
The shorter girl gave a feigned expression of being wounded from the comment and put her left hand flat on her chest. "Are you trying to imply that I, your daughter's care giver, am a lazy ass?"
"It would appear so, yes," she replied with a grin.
Maggie opened her mouth to reply, but found she was actually taken off guard by the honest reply. "Well ok then so long as we have that clear."
Both girls laughed and moved towards each other, their arms open for a hug. It always seemed as if it took some laughter to break the awkward tension of uncertainty between them. The hug certainly lasted longer than one between 'just friends' should, but after they pulled back slightly, their arms were still around one another as they stared into each other's eyes which were quickly darting around, searching for signs of their intentions. Finally satisfied with whatever it is they may have been looking for, they leaned in and shared a lengthy, passionate kiss.
As each girl pulled back, their eyes remained closed, but they had small grins on their faces.
"You taste like strawberries," said Bianca dreamily.
"And you taste like a chardonnay," was Maggie's speedy reply.
As with everything between these ladies, it always seemed to end in someone making a joke. They gave each other one quick last peck on the lips, and parted ways for the night - Bianca pondering when she would finally have the courage to ask Maggie where they were in their relationship, and Maggie wondering why Bianca hadn't questioned her yet.
July 11th 8:45 AM
"Patrick " Bianca said looking up from the folders in her lap, "this isn't the normal route to work."
"Just trying a different route today ma'am," Patrick said through the privacy window of the limo.
Bianca squinted her eyes and looked at Maggie, who was smirking. "Maggie why did you bring your camera today?"
"No reason," she answered while shrugging. "Just thought I'd snap a few pictures."
"Of what?" Bianca asked, her tone betraying her distrust.
"Oh, you know, the architecture, the shops touristy kind of stuff."
"Uh-huh something you haven't done once since we moved here." She closed the folder she had been reading, folded her arms across her chest, and learned back in to the seat. "What are you two up to?"
"Nothing! Can't a girl bring a camera with her and can't Patrick take a new route to work? You're so suspicious." Maggie had to look away for fear of laughing.
"Yeah you two are up to something and I want to know what it is."
Patrick pulled over to the curb of a side street, right next to an alley. "Here you are Maggie."
"Thanks, see you in a few!" Maggie said as she bolted out of the limo's back seat, slammed the door as she stepped out, and took off running down the alley at full speed.
"Oh yeah, you two are totally not up to anything," Bianca said as Patrick pulled back in to traffic and headed towards the Cambias building. Bianca really knew something was out of order when they made a right turn that took them directly past Guy Kachel's usual corner as opposed to avoiding it completely.
The limo swung in to the underground parking garage of the Cambias building and took the first available parking spot. Patrick quickly jumped from the car and ran to open Bianca's door. "Come with me, I think you'll want to see this."
Having no clue what was going on, she followed Patrick up the sloped ramp that led back to street level, and stood in the shadows where he told her to. She could see through the decorative cut-out designs in the wall, Guy was scanning the building with his lens, looking for anything interesting to take pictures of.
Patrick's phone rang, he quickly answered. "Hello? Yes any time now." He clicked it off.
At the corner where Guy stood, Bianca spotted Maggie creeping up slowly from behind him. He was too absorbed in his own camera to notice anything. Maggie positioned herself directly behind Guy and leaped at him suddenly. "A-HA! The infamous Guy Kachel hard at work, being a slime ball."
She whipped her camera up and started mimicking a paparazzo, which wasn't easy with only one working hand. "Oh yes, Guy, make love to the camera! Show me anger! Show me rage! Come on, the camera loves you!"
Guy was reeling backwards, trying to catch his balance, having been shocked by Maggie appearing from nowhere. He swore at her in a wide range of French words, and then switched to English for her benefit. "Identity theft or not, I am going to get a restraining order against you! Get away from me you little witch!"
"Oh yes! Yes! The camera loves you Guy!"
Guy started to run away, the opposite direction from which Maggie had jumped at him; she chased him a short distance, the entire time screaming "GUY! THE CAMERA LOVES YOU GUY!"
Bianca had tears streaming down her face and had her hands pressed against her stomach she was laughing so hard.
Patrick was grinning from ear-to-ear.
Once Bianca had regained her composure, she muttered "God, I love her," meaning it more for herself than the world. When she turned to look up at Patrick to see if they could go, he was looking down at her with a grin. "Oh you be quiet, like you hadn't figured that out ages ago," she said scowling and turning around to march back down into the depths of the building.
Patrick shoved his hands in his pants pockets and followed her. "Unborn children can figure it out Bianca, but does she know it?"
Bianca stopped and turned to look at him hard. "Have you ever met a woman named Myrtle Fargate?"
"Because you sound just like her." Bianca turned and continued her walk towards the elevators.
"All I'm saying is, what good does it do the two of you if you are the only one to know it for a fact that you love her."
"And I'm saying I think we are still in a stage where we don't even know if we are truly in a relationship yet. If I go dropping the 'L' bomb on her, it could get messy in a hurry."
"True, it would be best to know what you are to each other first."
"Patrick look," Bianca turned towards him having reached the elevator, "I know you care for both of us, and I promise you, as soon as I feel it's the right time, I'll first ask her where we stand and then secondly, and down the road some, I'll make sure she knows exactly how I feel."
"Feel about what?" Maggie asked, running up to them, out of breath.
Bianca looked at her "About you running around getting sweaty before you hit high end boutiques with a Cambias credit card, that's what."
Maggie grinned, holding up her bag she had retrieved from the limo. "See, I may be a Stone, but I'm not as dense as one. I brought a change of clothes with me."
Bianca rolled her eyes skyward in frustration as the elevator dinged, signaling its arrival. Patrick held the door for Maggie and Bianca to get on, and he joined them, ascending towards Bianca's office. "Well, we'll get you changed, get your hand checked on, and then you and Patrick can head out for more shopping."
"Oh good, there's this one shop I really think I want to go back to " Maggie said, smirking.
July 11th 9:30 PM
Bianca walked back in to the kitchen from having just put Miranda to bed. She expected to find Maggie in her usual spot at the butcher block, but she wasn't to be seen. She turned to look; the lights were out in the library and the den and the dining room was clearly empty. Bianca wasn't quite sure where her friend had disappeared to.
"Damn it!" came a muffled, but still audible shout from Maggie's room.
"Well, there's that mystery solved," Bianca said, chuckling, as she walked towards the servant's quarters door. She made a quick rapping on the door. "Maggie? Everything okay in there?"
"Yeah, I .could you come in here for a minute?"
Bianca opened the door and cautiously looked in, not totally sure of what to expect. She saw Maggie standing in front of her armoire, the door open, looking in the full length mirror that hung on the inside portion. She was wearing one of the outfits she had purchased that afternoon, trying, in vain, to button the top.
"Hey could you help me with this?" Maggie asked, addressing Bianca's reflection in the mirror.
Bianca smiled and walked over to her friend. "Of course. Are you heading out somewhere?"
Maggie smiled and turned towards her friend so she could reach the buttons easier. "Oh no, I just wanted to try on some of these clothes I got today."
Bianca eyed the pile of clothes on the bed as she walked by. She was shocked by the muted colors, subtle patterns, and heavier fabrics than she was unused to seeing Maggie wear. Dare she say it? Was she seeing the emergence of a more mature, fashion conscious Maggie Stone? "So, what seems to be the problem here?" Bianca asked with a smile.
"My stupid bandaged hand is the problem! I can't fasten these tiny buttons with this thing on!" she said, holding up her hand for inspection.
Bianca grinned and started fastening the buttons of the blouse for her friend, making sure to pull the blouse away from her skin for fear of 'improper' contact. "They said only for a couple more days and then you can take it off."
"Yeah yeah damn nuisance is what it is."
"And whose fault is that?" Bianca tightened her mouth in to a line of seeming disapproval, while lifting her hands to smooth out the shoulders of Maggie's blouse.
"Mine." Maggie mumbled as she turned to look at herself in the mirror. It was a simple outfit, a loose, floor length khaki skirt, a simple button-up blue top, and an American western style belt that hung low and met at an angle. "So what do you think?"
"I think it is exactly the sort of outfit I was describing to you. I love it!"
Maggie beamed with pride. "Thanks!" She walked over towards the bed, studying the pile of clothes, and flipping through a few of the items at the top. "Hey, if you aren't busy, would you mind helping me with a couple more?"
"Sure!" Bianca walked over and studied the mass of outfits before her. "How about " she flipped through the assortment of clothes for a moment "this one!" It was a dark green, plaid dress, but with a belt, it would almost look like a separate skirt and top.
"Yeah, I liked that one a lot."
"Me too, very subtle, but still fun." She set it down and helped Maggie unbutton the blouse she had on, again being careful of her contact. "Ok, there you go. Let me know when you need help again." And she turned to look away.
There was silence for a moment. "Bianca?"
"Why in the world did you turn away?"
"I just thought you might want some privacy, that's all"
"Oh please, like you haven't seen me change clothes a thousand times."
Bianca could hear the rustling of clothes now as they talked. "I know, but .it almost seems different now somehow."
"Because we've been dating?"
Bianca gulped, not sure if she was quite ready to pursue the conversation that had been weighing on her mind for a while now "I suppose so "
"Bianca look, just because the nature of our relationship has changed, it doesn't mean we stop being two girlie friends that have shared clothes, go shopping, and get all misty eyed watching Casablanca together anymore." There was a slight pause. "Ok, ready, you can turn around."
Bianca had to fight back her gasping breath. This outfit buttoned much further down, she hadn't noticed that when she picked it out for her to try it on. She tentatively reached down and started buttoning the dress. "Look I know we're still friends first and foremost, and I know we've only been on two dates, but I guess I'm just confused about some things."
Maggie leaned down slightly and tipped Bianca's chin up with her left hand so she could look into her eyes. "Like where we stand?"
"Yes like where we stand."
"I wondered when you were going to ask me. Here sit down for a minute." Maggie shoved some of the clothes aside, making a space for them on the edge of the bed. They sat down next to each other; Maggie turned more to her side so she could face Bianca. "Look, it's not like I haven't been thinking about this too, I mean, you have to have noticed all the different terms I've used to describe us. 'Relationship', 'dating', 'couple' I don't know exactly what we are yet, but I think it's safe to assume we're more than just friends, but we aren't up to up to " she was searching for the right word.
Now it was Maggie's turn to blush slightly. "Correct 'lovers'. But short of that, I think it's safe to say we have moved past simple friendship and entered a whole new area, for us at least. Does it really need a term though?"
"No, not necessarily." Now it was Bianca's turn to pause and search for words. She looked down at her hands lying in her lap, her fingers nervously fumbling with each other. "I guess I'm just too organized, I like to categorize everything in my life. Everything clearly labeled, put away properly, and easily accessible."
Maggie instinctively lifted her left hand and bunched together the material on her still open dress at the last portion of that comment. She chuckled, "If only life was always that easy." Bianca said nothing but continued to look down at her lap. Maggie bit her lower lip. "So, you do need to know then?"
"I guess I'm sorry, I know it's silly." She threw her head back and stared at the ceiling, her voice becoming noticeably exasperated. "I mean, really, who has this conversation after two dates?"
"Us. We're not always known for our subtlety, or normalcy, Bianca."
Bianca had to laugh at that. "True."
Maggie sat there, obviously in thought for a moment, Bianca resumed staring at her lap while she waited for Maggie to say something. The shorter girl did open her mouth once, as if about to say something, but then closed it again to reflect some more. "If I had to call us something I would say we're a couple a couple in the early stages of a relationship, where we're still feeling each other out."
Bianca blushed a deep crimson.
"Okay, that had to be the worst choice of words in the history of man!" Maggie said, turning bright red herself and rocking backwards from Bianca while trying to look away.
"It's ok, I get what you're saying .so, I could, if you're ok with it that is, call you my 'girlfriend'?"
Maggie leaned back to her original upright position, and then leaned further forward, putting her face directly in front of Bianca's. Maggie's lopsided, mischievous grin slowly crept across her face as she looked up in to Bianca's dark eyes. "I would be honored for you to call me that."
Bianca grinned sheepishly now, obviously relieved at having finally gotten this subject out of the way. "I'm going to hold you to that you know."
"I hope that you would." She leaned up and gave Bianca a deep kiss. Once done, they sat there, their foreheads touching for a moment. "Now, would you mind helping your girlfriend out with putting her clothes on?"
"Sigh the story of my life the girlfriends always wanting me to help them put their clothes on them instead of taking them off," she said as she stood up.
Maggie's jaw dropped as she stood up. "Why Bianca Christine Montgomery, you dirty thing you .I think I like that side of you!" she said, her lopsided grin once again returning. "Now button me up."
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