DISCLAIMER: All My Children is the property of ABC/Disney.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Fumbling Towards Ecstacy
By Alex


Part One: I Love You

"Oh and every time I'm close to you
there's too much I can't say
and you just walk away

and I forgot
to tell you
I love you
and the night's
too long
and cold here
without you
I grieve in my condition
for I cannot find the words to say
I need you so"

~Sarah McLachlan

I Love You

"I'm saying that, for one time in my life, I'm the one pulling back first, ok, Frankie? Have a nice life."

Frankie felt her heart break into a million pieces as Bianca walked out of her door. She stood, staring at the door, cursing herself for not doing something. Finally, she let out a defeated sigh and sunk down onto her bed.

Her thoughts were swimming around her head. She had no idea what to do now. She supposed she should just get out of town, but she knew she couldn't do that- her life depended on it, and she knew it. She had to finish the job she came here to do, no matter how hard it was for her to do it. She hated lying to Bianca, hated not being able to tell her the truth. She hated all of it! Why couldn't she just be left alone?

Angrily, she wiped away the tear that had escaped her eye. She stood up and started pacing. This isn't working She thought. I need some fresh air. Zipping up her sweatshirt, she hurried out of the room.

The fresh air hadn't done as much good as she would have liked. She looked around and noticed where she had ended up. A green sign proclaimed "Rest Stop- Next Right". This was where it all started, this little spot on the side of the road. When she had thrown herself in front of Erica's car, she'd never expected to run into Bianca.

The sign mocked her with the memories it brought. Angrily, she thrust her fist into it. Ignoring the pain, she whirled around and stormed off.

As she walked, her thoughts continued to torment her. She's everywhere...I can't get her out of my head. This has to stop. She sighed. But it won't stop A little voice inside her said. You know what's happening. She tried to quiet the voice, but it kept telling her she had to realize what was going on. I gotta do something.

She stumbled across a corner store on her way back to Opal's and picked up some junk food; cream soda, some chocolate. Maybe it would help her get her mind off of Bianca. She paid for her purchases and left. Damn dirty money...I wish I could just stop...but he won't let me...

Part Two: Possession

"Through this world I've stumbled
so many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
to find the truth enslaved,
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
you speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath,
your words keep me alive"

~Sarah McLachlan


Bianca felt the tears start to flow as she left the room. She had honestly thought something was there, something more... She sighed self-deprecatingly. Of course, that's what always happens, isn't it? Never mind that my mom's always trying to get rid of girls I like...I've got enough problems even without her. She thought as she walked to her car. She got in and sat down behind the steering wheel, but didn't turn the car on yet.

What is it? Why does this keep happening? She searched her mind for something, some reason why no-one wanted to be with her. What am I missing? What's wrong with me? She rested her arms on the steering wheel, and put her head down on top of them. She would have let the tears continue, but she noticed the door to Opal's house opening. Quickly, she started up the car and peeled out.

A quick glance in her rearview mirror told her that it was Frankie who had just left the house. She looked back at the road ahead of her. Something wasn't right. She was beating herself up over this, but something just didn't fit. She parked in the driveway to her house, but she didn't get out.

She replayed their earlier conversation in her mind.

"Frankie, you're going to use Opal and Vanessa as the perfect excuse to leave town when the real reason you're leaving is me."


"No. I asked you some tough questions tonight, and clearly you don't want to answer them for some reason, and that's why you're leaving."

"Bianca, you are making this so much harder than it has to be." She pleaded again.

"Do you have any idea how hard this is for me?" Bianca demanded.

"Yeah, actually, I do." Bianca shook her head.

"No, you don't, Frankie. This is like my usual deja vu. I like someone. They like me, things are going great, and then all of a sudden some kind of alarm goes off in the other person and it's like a neon sign flashing above their head – 'I'm not gay, I'm not gay, I am not gay-- and then they leave."

"Can you please not put words into my mouth and thoughts in my head?"

That was it! The girl had been trying to tell her all night! I knew I couldn't be wrong- I was so sure she had feelings... With a new hope in her heart, she took the keys out of the ignition and walked to the door. Her heart sunk as she realized that although earlier she'd had a chance, she had just blown it by storming out of there like that.

She stepped inside and closed the door, leaning back against it for support. So many conflicting emotions were running through her, and she didn't know what to do with them. When she opened her eyes again, her mother was descending the stairs. She groaned as she realized that another fight was moments away.

I feel just like I'm sinking
and I claw for solid ground
I'm pulled down by the undertow
I never thought I could feel so low
oh darkness I feel like letting go

if all of the strength and all of the courage
come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
full of grace
my love

~Sarah McLachlan

Full of Grace

Frankie sighed as she looked around the room. The junk food hadn't helped; in fact, she'd been so sick with despair over the events of the evening that all she'd been able to keep down was three bottles of cream soda.

Well, she supposed she'd better pack- she did have to be out of there the next day. She got up and started shoving her clothes into her bag, when she saw Opal's manicuring supplies still laid out on the arm chair near the window. Better clean those up for her. She thought as she walked over to it. Her heart clenched as she picked up a bottle of nail polish.

Peach-o-Rama... She thought, tears stinging her eyes once again. Dammit, why does everything have to remind me of her? I've never had this problem before...

That's because you've never met someone you could fall in love with before... A voice in her head told her. Frankie stumbled back to the bed and sank down on it, the tears falling faster. She buried her face in her pillow, her hand still clenching the bottle.

After some time passed, she turned her head and lay there, thinking. Her eyes drifted to the Yellow Pages under the nightstand...Surely the Kanes' number would be in it, right? She decided it was worth a shot.

She pulled the book out and flipped to the K's. Let's see...here we go- Kane, Erica! She pulled her cell out of her bag and dialed the number, practically holding her breath as it rang.

"Yes?" Frankie groaned inwardly. It would have to be Erica answering the phone, wouldn't it? She took a deep breath. She was too anxious to argue.

"It's me, Ms. Kane. Frankie. Can I speak to Bianca, please?" She said all in a rush. At least she got it out. There was silence on the other line as Erica debated whether or not to hang up.

"Please don't hang up. I -- I know it's late, Ms. Kane, but if Bianca's there, could I please speak to her?" Frankie pressed, biting her lip nervously. Erica briefly thought of the possibilities; if she hung up, Bianca would probably find out, and it wouldn't help her cause any. She sighed and held the phone up to Bianca.

"It's for you." Frankie's heart soared. Bianca's heart started pumping overtime as she stepped up to take the phone.

"Hello?" Frankie breathed a sigh of relief.

"Hi, Bianca." Bianca's heart jumped in her throat as she heard the urgent tone in Frankie's voice. "Oh, thank God I got in touch with you. I -- I'm so, so sorry. You know? You know what I'm saying?" Frankie was getting frustrated with herself. She knew what she wanted to say, she just didn't know how to say it.

"Yeah, yeah, I do." Bianca replied. Why is she sorry? "Calm down. Frankie, why are you--" Bianca looked over at her mother. Better not to give her any ammo. "well, what's the matter?" She rephrased. Frankie let out a shaky breath.

"The stuff I said to you -- I didn't mean it. I--" Come on, you can do it girl... "I swear I just didn't mean it. I didn't want to chase you away." That's a start... She looked up at the ceiling. "You know, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say I'm scared." She looked around the room. "And, well, I'm all alone and -- and it's all my fault." Well, that's one way to ask her to come over... She thought as she wiped tears from her cheeks. Bianca's heart was pounding.

"I'll be right there, ok?" She said, waiting for Frankie's faint "okay" before she hung up. Erica was appalled.

"Bianca, you're not leaving this house."

"You can't stop me." Bianca rushed over to the chair that held her jacket and bag. Erica tried again.

"Bianca, I forbid you." Maybe her parental authority would work?

"You know what? I don't care. OK?" Maybe not. Bianca headed out the door, leaving a gaping Erica behind.


hold on tight, hold on fast
this ain't the kind that always lasts

~Sarah McLachlan


Frankie paced back and forth, periodically wiping the tears from her eyes. She stopped in mid-pace as she heard a knock on the door. She all but ran to the door, flinging it open. She saw Bianca, and her arms immediately rose to embrace the taller girl.

"Oh." Bianca said sadly when she saw the girl's face. She wrapped her arms around Frankie's waist, pressing their bodies close together. They were so close she could literally feel the other girl's heart beating next to hers.

Frankie was in heaven. All of her despair had disappeared the minute she and Bianca had touched. She reveled in the feel of the girl's arms around her, the scent of her shampoo. Her breath quickened as she realized how close they were. She felt Bianca's lungs contract and expand against her own with each shaky breath the taller girl took. She feels it too...I know she does. Frankie thought.

This is right. The thought came unbidden to both of them, yet it wasn't unwanted. Neither girl could deny how right it felt, how perfectly they fit into each other's arms.

Bianca let a silent sigh escape her lips. Frankie felt it and pulled back a little, just far enough to look into Bianca's eyes. The heat between them was almost tangible. Frankie's eyes moved from Bianca's eyes down to her lips. The desire to kiss the girl was so strong that it scared her. She shook as she noticed Bianca's head nearing hers. Quickly, she turned away and shook her head, clearing it. Idiot! Why'd you do that? It was so close...


In the arms of the Angel far away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you feel
You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

~Sarah McLachlan


Bianca realized now why Frankie kept pulling away. It should have been so obvious! She's scared...not of me, but of this...

Frankie could feel the tears starting to well up again. Why do I always screw this up? Why can't I do this right? She was broken from her thoughts by Bianca's hand on her shoulder. She turned around to face her.

"Hey," Bianca said gently, wiping a tear from Frankie's cheek. Frankie shivered at the brief touch of Bianca's hand on her face. "Frankie, what's wrong?" The tears ran faster as Frankie crumbled onto the bed.

"I...It's just...I can't..." She struggled. Bianca knelt on the floor in front of Frankie's feet, trying to look up into her face.

"Can't what, Frankie? C'mon, you can tell me." No I can't! That's the problem! Frankie thought. Well, maybe a partial disclosure...I can at least be a little honest with the girl...

"I...I've never felt this way...before." She said slowly through her tears. Bianca's heart skipped a beat.

"Felt what way, Frankie?" Frankie met Bianca's gaze.

"I..." She started. "I don't know...just...the way I'm feeling." Great! Another cop-out!

"Well, listen, Frankie, I'm here...you can talk to me. You know that, right?" Frankie nodded.

"Yeah. Thanks, but...I don't know if I'm ready to talk about it yet." She replied shakily. Bianca nodded.

"Okay. That's okay." Bianca said gently. She stood up, putting her hands on Frankie's knees for balance, then sat down on the bed next to her. She put her arm gently around Frankie's shoulders. Frankie leaned her head on Bianca's shoulder briefly, then stood up.

"Hey, it's really late...maybe we should at least change..." Bianca nodded.

"Okay...here, I'll go in the bathroom...let me know when you're done in here." Frankie nodded back.

"Sure thing." She said with a forced smile. As she started to change, she thought. What am I doing...? I can't keep lying to her, but I can't tell her the truth...I couldn't bear it if I put her in danger... She sunk down onto the bed again and sobbed softly. A few minutes later, Bianca emerged from the bathroom. Immediately, she rushed over to Frankie's side, putting an arm around her.

"Hey, what's wrong now?" She asked softly. Frankie's only reply was to wrap her arms around Bianca's neck, weeping softly into Bianca's t-shirt. Bianca put her other arm around the girl, rocking her back and forth. "Shhh...It'll be okay." She assured the fragile girl.

After a time, she realized that Frankie had fallen asleep. Gently, she lay the girl under the covers. When she started to slide away, she heard the sobs start again. Shrugging, she slipped into bed with Frankie, holding the girl as she drifted off to sleep.

I Love You (Revisited)

I have a smile stretched from ear to ear
I see you walking down the road
We meet at the lights, I stare for a while
The world around us disappears
It's just you and me on my island of hope
A breath between us could be miles
Let me surround you, a sea to your shore
Let me be the calm you seek

~Sarah McLachlan

I Love You (Revisited)

Bianca woke up slowly, and looked down at the beautiful girl still in her arms. Frankie had situated herself so that she was resting almost completely against Bianca's side, her head resting in the crook of her shoulder. Bianca smiled as she examined the sleeping face. She seems so happy, so free when she's asleep. She thought as she reached her free hand over to brush a wisp of hair out of the sleeping girl's face. What could be bad enough to make her so unhappy and scared when she's awake? Her heart ached for this girl, lying so peaceful and content in her arms. Before her brain could tell her not to, she leaned down and kissed the girl's forehead tenderly.

Frankie woke up to the feel of Bianca's lips on her face. She couldn't help but think that this was how she wanted to wake up all the time, not tossing and turning from nightmares of what Proteus could do.

She moved away a little, to look at Bianca's face. She couldn't help but smile at how radiant the brunette looked this morning, she almost seemed to be glowing. Looking into Bianca's eyes, she could tell that she must have a similar glow about her.

"Morning." Bianca said gently. Frankie shivered a little at the sexy just-woke-up tone of Bianca's voice.

"Morning." She said, the smile having never left her face. They lay there, just smiling at each other for what seemed like ages. I wish we could just stay like this forever... Frankie thought. Her bliss died when she realized that she wasn't going to get out...she'd never be able to have this kind of happiness. Bianca noticed Frankie's smile fading, and reached a hand out to touch her cheek.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Frankie wanted to cry at the concern in Bianca's voice. She looked away.

"Uh..no-nothing. I just realized that I have to move out today." Bianca groaned softly.

"Right. I guess that means we should get up, huh?" She said, not entirely convinced that that was what she wanted to do. Frankie nodded.

"Yeah, I guess we'd better." She slipped out of the safety of Bianca's arms and got up.


so much anger so deeply engrained
seemed a burden that was hers alone
she didn't think that there was anything wrong
with wanting a life that she could call her own

~Sarah McLachlan


Frankie watched as Bianca went through her clothes, pulling out a punky muscle t-shirt that Frankie hadn't looked at in ages. Man, I should really look at my clothes more often...what was I thinking?

"Can I wear this today?" Bianca said as she held it up to herself. Frankie snorted.

"I don't think your mother will like it." Bianca smiled.

"Even better." A thought struck Frankie, scaring her back into her insecurities.

"Is that why you're here?" Bianca caught the vulnerability in the question.

"I'm here because you called me." She reassured her. "You said that you were alone and scared, and I thought you needed company." Well, she was right on there.

"I did." But that's the first time in a long time someone's cared.

Bianca smiled.

"Well, so did I. Isn't it amazing the way we connected last night?" Bianca asked. Frankie looked down as Bianca continued to speak. "I mean, all night I've just felt so close to you, like this is home."--Frankie's earlier words haunted her. "I don't have a home." --"And when I woke up today, it's -- I can't even describe it. It's like anything is possible, you know?" Bianca was too overwhelmed by her own feelings to notice that Frankie wasn't in agreement.

"No." Bianca's eyes shot over to her. "God, Bianca, I feel more trapped than ever." Bianca's heart sank. God, I wish anything were possible. I wish I could just stop this horrible mess I've gotten myself into. She almost cried at the thought. I can't bear to hurt her, but it looks like I'm hurting her anyway, by trying not to hurt her...I can't win! Bianca moved to sit next to Frankie on the bed.

"Tell me what you meant when you said that you felt trapped." Frankie sighed.

"I don't know. Just forget it, ok?" She looked down, wishing she hadn't said anything. It was getting harder and harder to lie to her.

"Do I make you feel that way?" Bianca tried again. She held her breath as Frankie's arm reached over her, disappointed when it only retracted with her shirt.

"Look, we're just hanging out. Don't make a big deal out of it." She said coldly, getting up from the bed. Maybe if I can get out of it now... Even as she thought it, she knew it wasn't true.

Bianca was shocked. "It is a big deal -- to me." Frankie stood facing her, her arms wrapped protectively around herself. "I -- you know, I've never stood up to my mother like this before."

"I had nothing to do with that." Frankie protested, her admiration of the girl showing. "That was all you. I just happened to be around when it all happened."

"No, it's more than that." Bianca continued. "It's like -- I love my mother." Frankie smiled.

"I got that."

"And I -- I keep expecting her to accept me for who I am. And then you come along --"

"She freaks."

"And -- and I realize that this is going to keep happening, even though she loves me, too. I'm going to meet somebody, and I'm going to like them--" Frankie's heart skipped a beat. "--and that's going to set her off over and over and over and over again, and it's got to stop. And you made me see that. That's why I feel like I owe you." This is new...someone feeling like they owe me?


Make me a witness
Take me out
Out of darkness
Out of dark...

~Sarah McLachlan


"I didn't do anything." Frankie said as she up and moved over to Bianca. "Listen, if anyone owes anyone anything, I owe you. I needed you last night, and you were here like that. No one would ever do anything like that for me." She felt the words resonate even as she said them.

"I'm not like most people." Bianca replied. Frankie smiled and looked away.

"I'm beginning to see that."

"Neither are you." Bianca stated. Frankie laughed.

"Want to bet?" Bianca continued.

"Most people, if they were lonely or scared, they would've just run away from that. But you didn't. You called me. And I came over, and we made a real connection." Frankie knew she was right.

"I guess." She said softly, wishing she could let this happen...Bianca sighed self-deprecatingly.

"Ok. Maybe I just imagined it because I've been lonely and scared myself." The words sounded casual, but Frankie could tell that her words had hurt Bianca.

"No. I felt a connection, too. It's just -- it's more complicated." Now this Bianca could relate to...at least she thought she could.

"What you're feeling?"

"Everything." Frankie sighed. Almost let it out there...I can't tell her...I know I can't. She looked away, searching for an excuse. "I mean, what you did with your mom -- I mean, that was major." Okay, weak, but it looks like it's holding up... Bianca could tell there was something Frankie wasn't telling her, but she let it slide. She'd tell her when she was ready.

"Well, I told her that I couldn't live there anymore, and I'm not going to back down from that." Frankie was relieved at the change of direction in the conversation. She smiled.

"She'll fight you."

"I'm ready. Are you?" Frankie was taken aback.

"What do you mean?" Bianca took a deep breath before she spoke again.

"I mean I have to live my own life. So, do I do it alone or do I do it with you?" Her heart was pounding a mile a minute as she waited for Frankie's response.

Frankie moved to the floor, leaning her back against the foot of the bed. Bianca adjusted her position, moving to lay on her stomach so she could be closer to Frankie. The smaller girl took a deep breath.

"I'm not really used to this, but I'm kind of scared." She was looking straight ahead, afraid to look at Bianca. Bianca was a little shocked.

"You're scared of me?"

"Not exactly. You're one of the most together people I've ever met." At least that was the complete truth... Bianca laughed.

"I wish thought that." Another deep breath from Frankie.

"You know, and when I'm around you, I feel good about myself." Bianca's heart soared at this revelation, but then she noticed that Frankie's small smile had disappeared.

"Hey." She put her hand on Frankie's bare shoulder. The electricity from the touch of skin on skin shocked Frankie into being more afraid. She got up, moving away from the temptation, and started to pack her clothes. Bianca's eyes followed her, concerned about the fact that Frankie was always pulling away.

"Problem is, well, Opal kicked me out, so we need to find a place to crash." Bianca's earlier thoughts vanished at these words. She smiled widely.

"That sounded good -- we find a place." Frankie grinned back.

"Well, are you ready to rough it?"

"Yeah, I'm ready!" Bianca said as she gracefully spun off of the bed, landing on her feet. She moved over to Frankie, holding her arms out. Frankie smiled and accepted the embrace. Her smile faded as she thought. As good as it feels, it hurts...not being able to give myself up for a second...

Bianca groaned. "I just need to take care of one thing." She said as she pulled away. Frankie panicked inwardly, thinking of the moment last night that Bianca probably wanted to finish- hell, she did too...

"What's that?" She asked nervously. Bianca smiled.

"My mother." Frankie let out a sigh of relief.

"Good luck." She said, looking down. When she raised her head again, she was enthralled by the look in Bianca's sparkling eyes. I already have the best of luck... Bianca thought. I found you.


So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
That you make up for all that you lack

~Sarah McLachlan

Angel (Revisited)

Frankie smiled softly as she looked into Bianca's eyes. She felt the pull of desire, but she fought it back. As much as she wanted to kiss her, to let go of everything Proteus had ever said, she knew she couldn't. To do that would put Bianca in danger, and she couldn't bear that. She cleared her throat as she pulled the punk shirt out of the pile of clothes she had just folded.

"Well, you'd better get going; your mom's probably freaked." She held out the shirt to Bianca. An idea struck her. "Hey, after you get changed, you want me to give you a makeover? I could do your hair and stuff...your mom'll have a cow!" Bianca grinned.

"Yeah! Just let me get changed. I'll be right back." Frankie sat down on the bed as Bianca shut the door to the bathroom. Why am I leading her on like this? I should just push her away completely, but I can't...am I falling in love with her? She didn't even have to ask the question; she knew the answer. She was broken from her thoughts by her cell phone ringing. She answered it, knowing who was on the other line.

"Yeah?" She said into the receiver. The ever-familiar computer-voice responded.

"You need to get rid of your little girlfriend. I need you to do something."

"What do you want?" She asked, a little shocked at her newly grown nerve.

"I'll call back in five minutes. She'd better be gone." She heard the click, and put the phone away just as Bianca emerged from the bathroom.

"Wow." She can have the shirt. She looks amazing. Bianca blushed.

"So, you ready to give me that makeover?" Frankie thought briefly of what Proteus had said, and considered telling Bianca that she had to go. When she looked into the girl's hopeful eyes, however, she couldn't help herself.

"Okay." They situated themselves so that Frankie had access to Bianca's hair, and Frankie started to work her magic. Bianca's head was tingling from the frequent touches of Frankie's hands. She thought back to when the girl was painting her nails, and she thought, Man, I wouldn't care if she totally sucked at this...I'd want her to do my hair and nails all the time...

Frankie was about halfway through with Bianca's hair, she heard her cell phone ring. She felt her heart sink into her stomach.

"Shouldn't you answer that?" Bianca asked. Oh, Bianca, if you only knew...

"Nah...they'll call back later." They'll be ticked off, too... She shrugged and continued with Bianca's hair.

When she finished her hair, she added the finishing touch: The huge hoop earrings she had received from Proteus. She didn't even know why he thought she'd like them; she wasn't a jewelry person, really...

"There ya go. Good luck with your mom." Bianca smiled.

"Thanks." She said as she pulled Frankie into a final hug. "I'll call you when I'm done dealing with her, ok?" Frankie nodded. "Okay. I'll see ya later then." She smiled, briefly putting her hand on Frankie's shoulder before she exited the room. Precisely when she heard Bianca's car pull away, Frankie heard her phone ring again. It was times like these, when it was obvious Proteus was watching her, that really creeped her out.


can't you see I've got to
live my life the way I feel is
right for me
might not be right for you but it's
right for me..

~Sarah McLachlan


Bianca left Opal's house with a light heart. As she drove home, she thought only wonderful thoughts about her future with Frankie. By the time she got home, she was walking on a cloud. The cloud vanished as she opened the door to find her mother standing in the living room with Opal.

"Uh -- I'll see you two later." Opal said, exiting the house. Erica looked at her newly transformed daughter.

"Bianca, I'm so glad you're home." She went to hug Bianca, but the girl shrugged her away.

"This isn't my home anymore." Erica was shocked.

"Bianca, this will always be your home." Bianca sighed.

"Well, it doesn't feel that way. I just came by to get some stuff and then I'm going." She said coldly.

"Look, I know that we had a big fight last night and -- and we both said some very harsh things to each other, but you know that I would never hurt you on purpose, just like I know that you would never hurt me. So, please, can we just -- can we sit down and talk about this please?" Erica pleaded. Bianca shrugged.

"What do you want to talk about first, Mom? The sleeping arrangements at Opal's?" She asked bitterly.

"Bianca --" Erica started. Bianca cut her off.

"Isn't that why she came over here? To tell you? To fill you in?" She demanded.

"Opal wanted me to know that you were safe." Erica said, defending herself.

"So you're saying that you didn't ask her where I slept?" Bianca asked, wondering if her mom might be coming around. Her mother's answer shot that thought down.

"You don't know -- you don't understand why I want to know." Erica tried.

"I understand, Mom. I understand perfectly. You don't want to see me get hurt." I'm not blind, or stupid.

"Yes, that's true." Erica said. Maybe she really did understand?

"And your solution would be to lock me up for the rest of my life." Or not.

"Oh, no, Honey, of course not." Not exactly...

"Well, that's good, Mom, because I'm not happy here and that's not going to change." Erica was hurt.

"Where would you be happy?" Oh, come on, Mom, you're not stupid either...

"With Frankie. And you can't stop me." With that, Bianca stormed upstairs to pack her bags.

Out of the Shadows

no one calls there in the shadows
there's no end to the dark
but there's one out there,
no one but me the hours pass so slowly,
the life's slipping out of me
no way's the right way. Is there a way out for me?
my life's slipping out

~Sarah Mclachlan

Out of the Shadows

Against her will, Frankie reached for her cell and picked it up. She watched as her finger touched the talk button.

"What do you want?" She asked, choking back her fear.

"You're not taking orders as well anymore, Ms. Stone. What's happened?" This angered her. Like you don't know.

"I'm coming to my senses." She gulped.

"Would Ms. Montgomery have anything to do with that?" I knew he was going to do that!

"You leave her alone! She's not doing anything!" She yelled at the voice desperately. Please.

"I don't believe I'm the one taking the orders, Ms. Stone. Am I correct?" She nodded through her tears.


"Good. I'm glad we agree. I need you to do something."

"What?" She asked apprehensively.

"I need you to test our newest addition. Mateo Santos. He works at a club, SOS. You know where I'm talking about?"

"Yeah. He your new laundry boy?" Frankie asked bitterly.

"Test him. You wouldn't want anything to happen to your girlfriend, would you?"

"She's not my girlfriend." She said, weakly trying to avoid answering the question.

"Test him. I'll be in touch later." The caller hung up. She wiped away her tears as she started to pack her things up. She was almost done when Opal walked in.


"Don't worry. I'll be out of here like yesterday." She replied bitterly as she continued packing.

"Well, I wasn't there checking up on that. I thought maybe you and me could have a -- a little talk." Frankie sighed.

"About what? My Aunt Vanessa and how she's the wicked witch of Pine Valley?"

"Well, for once, your Auntie Vanessa isn't the problem." Opal sighed. Frankie's interest was piqued.

"What is?" Opal walked over to the bed.

"Well, what you were doing with Erica and Bianca." Frankie sighed.

"I'm not doing anything, Opal." She looked back at her clothes.

"Well, maybe not on purpose. But, you know, those two really love each other, and ever since you came on the scene, they just seem to get pulled further and further apart." Great. Another thing that's my fault...

"Oh, so it's my fault?" She asked bitterly.

"Well, I don't know. You tell me. Are you badmouthing Erica to Bianca? Because that's a sacred bond they got. You know, you mess with that, you are hurting Bianca big time." Never! Dammit, I've got enough guilt over stuff I have done, I don't need anyone blaming me for stuff I don't do!

"I'm not trying to hurt Bianca, ok? Why don't you all just get off my back?" She grabbed her bag and hurried out of the room.

Elsewhere (Continued)

can't you see I've got to
live my life the way I feel is
right for me
might not be right for you but it's
right for me..

~Sarah McLachlan

Elsewhere (Continued)

Erica followed her daughter back down the stairs.

"Since you're going to be living with Frankie, do you mind if I ask where?" Bianca sighed as she looked through the desk in the living room.

"Well, if Opal kicks us out, then -- we'll get a room at the Pine Cone, at least until we can get jobs and find something better." Erica sighed.

"Look, that girl is going to leave you just as soon as she gets a better offer." God, she didn't even ask me! I ASKED HER! I wonder if she'd even listen if I said it?

"Mom, honestly, would you care if I was being used as long as it was a man using me?" Erica was getting sick of this. She was worried about her daughter!

"I don't want you to be used by anyone, Bianca. I just want you to be happy." Bianca sighed again.

"I am happy. Clearly, you can't stand it." Erica sighed, taking in Bianca's hair and clothes.

"I thought being happy meant being true to yourself."

"Yeah, that's right." Bianca replied, still looking around for her address book.

"Well, this isn't you. The way you're behaving, the way you look -- this is her. It's as if the real Bianca has gone away. I feel like I'm not even looking at my daughter anymore." God, I change my looks for ONE DAY and she can't handle it?

"Maybe you're not. I have an address book somewhere." She gave up and started heading for the door.

"I am still your mother and you are a minor, and you are not going anywhere." Bianca sighed.

"Yeah, I am." She turned again and started walking.

"You take one more step and I swear, I will call the police." Bianca froze as she reached the door. She turned around to look at her mom.

"You can call my bluff, you can walk right through that door, Bianca, but I swear to you, I will call the police." Bianca walked back to her mom, fuming.

"And what are they going to do? They going to drag me back in here?" This is pointless!

"If you don't come back voluntarily." Finally! Something's working!

"I cannot believe that you're threatening me." Bianca said incredulously.

"No, this is not a threat, Bianca. I will do this." This was ticking Bianca off big-time.

"Fine, you -- go ahead." She turned to leave. Erica ran to the phone and started dialing.

"Yes, hello. This is Erica Kane." Bianca heard this and stalked back into the living room.

"You're unbelievable!" She all but screamed. Erica continued.

"May I speak with Lt. Frye, please?"

"Mom, stop it!" I didn't think she'd actually do it! Erica hung up the phone.

"Does that mean you're staying?" Erica challenged. Bianca sighed as she came to a split-second decision.

"I'll sleep here until I'm old enough to move out, but I'm going to spend all my time with Frankie and you cannot stop me." She said with venom in her voice.

"Look, Bianca, I know that you hate me right now, but if that's how I can get through to you--" Bianca cut her off.

"How, by being a bully?"

"Yeah if that's what it takes, I will do it. I will do anything to keep you from being crushed by that girl." This was enough.

"'That girl' is my friend." Bianca said fiercely.

"No, that girl is poison! And you are worth so much more than that." Bianca felt like crying.

"She is NOT poison! Mom, you don't even know her!" Erica sighed.

"Bianca, I don't need to know her. That little gutter snipe is trying to hurt you!" Erica's face stung from the impact of Bianca's hand.

"Don't you dare talk about the woman I love that way!" Bianca was as shocked as her mother.

"You love her? Bianca, how could you?" Bianca, after getting over her admission, knew that what she had said was true.

"Mom, you couldn't possibly know." She said calmly. "And I...I don't need to explain it to you." She turned and walked toward the stairs.

"Bianca, where are you going?" Erica asked. Bianca turned one last time.

"I'm going to my room. Isn't that what you wanted? I'm going to my room, and I'm going to sleep there tonight. Are you happy?" She stormed up to her room, leaving a gaping Erica behind.

Black and White

everybody loves you when you're easy
everybody hates when you're a bore
everyone is waiting for your entrance so
don't disappoint them

~Sarah McLachlan

Black and White

Frankie sighed heavily as she entered SOS. Not for the first time, she wondered how she had gotten herself into this mess. No time for that now... Her business side kicked in. Her eyes scanned the room, finding her target behind the bar, talking to his new "waitress". She smirked. He actually thinks Proteus doesn't know she's a contact... She shrugged and headed over to the bar, taking a seat on one of the stools. When he didn't turn, she casually knocked on the bar to get his attention. He turned.

"Hey, what can I get you?" Frankie cleared her throat.

"That depends. I heard this was a good place to party." She said in a low voice, leaning toward him. Mateo smiled.

"You got ID?" Frankie laughed a little.

"I don't drink." She said, nodding a little to make it clearer.

"All right. Good for you." Mateo said as he turned to wipe the bar down.

"I mean, I'm talking about something stronger." Mateo turned his head sharply.

"Like what?" Frankie sighed. God, this guy's dense!

"I don't know. Herb, weed. So, you going to hook me up, or what?" Come on, man, I just wanna get outta here. Mateo stared back at her for a second before he responded. He walked around the bar and grabbed Frankie's arm.

"Hey, get your hands off me!" She exclaimed as Mateo dragged her out of the club. Once they were in the front, he let her go.

"OK, who sent you?" He demanded angrily. Don't let on Frankie thought, remembering what she had been taught.

"What are you talking about?" She asked, sounding clueless.

"I mean who told you that I was selling drugs?" Mateo asked impatiently.

"Hey man chill out, I was just told this was the place to come to." Mateo grabbed her arm again. She shrugged him off. "Get your hands off of me." Simone suddenly appeared, trying her hand at restraining the girl. Frankie struggled.

"Oh, I will kick your-" Simone held harder.

"Don't start with me, kid." Simone warned. Frankie tore away, getting as far from the club as she could. When she stopped to catch her breath, she wasn't surprised to hear her phone ring.

"Yeah?" She said gruffly into the phone. The mocking electric voice answered her.

"You're slipping." She sighed, putting her hand on her forehead.

"What could I do? He didn't wanna make the sale." She said discreetly, her eyes roaming the area around her.

"You know that's not what I'm talking about." Frankie sighed.

"I got a lot on my mind, okay?"

"If she gets in the way of your work, she'll have to be eliminated." Frankie's eyes widened.

"No! No, that's totally not necessary. It has nothing to do with her, I swear."

"If you say so. Just remember your priorities." She heard the click as Proteus hung up. God, what am I doing? She sighed as she sat down on a bench nearby. It's too late. She realized. I've already gotten her involved, no matter how much I tried not to... She was lost in thoughts of what to do next when her phone rang again. She stared at it for a few seconds before apprehensively reaching for it.



"Yeah?" Frankie answered weakly, wondering what he wanted now.

"Frankie?" Bianca's voice was music to her ears. A relieved smile broke out on her face.

"Bianca!" She exclaimed, unable to hide her relief. "What's up?" She asked anxiously. She held her breath when she heard Bianca sigh.

"I've got bad news." Her heart sank as her mind raced through the possibilities.

"What's that?" She tried her hand at casual, failing miserably.

"My mom threatened to call the police if I left. So...I have to sleep here until I figure something out."

"Oh! Is that all?" Frankie let out the breath she'd been holding. Bianca was confused.

"Well, yeah...it kinda puts a damper on our plans...But don't worry, I'm still going to help you find a place. Where are you right now?" Frankie looked around her.

"Uhm...the park, near SOS." Didn't get far enough...

"Okay, I'll be right there. Give me 10 minutes." Frankie smiled.

"I'll be waiting." Bianca smiled to herself.

"I'll be there."

"Okay, seeya." Bianca smiled into the receiver.


Erica heard the click as Bianca hung up the phone. She stood outside Bianca's door and waited for her daughter to come out. Bianca emerged from her room with a big smile on her face.

"Well you look better." Erica pointed out. Bianca's face fell a little when she saw her mother.

"I feel better after talking to Frankie." She said, trying to make her mother see what she knew deep inside.

"Well, that won't last long." Erica said surely. Bianca sighed, disgusted.

"I'm out of here." She brushed past her mother, heading downstairs. Erica turned to follow her.

"Where are you going?"

"Out. With Frankie." Bianca said shortly as she reached the door.

"Well, aren't you going to apologize?" Erica asked, indignant. Bianca turned to face her in shock.

"Apologize? For what?"

"Well, you hit me, Bianca. That's certainly not something you usually do." Bianca sighed.

"Look, I'm sorry I hit you. I overreacted. But I don't want you to keep talking about her that way. She's a good person, Mom. You just have to get to know her." With that, Bianca left to go to her car.

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

All the fear has left me now
I'm not frightened anymore
It's my heart that pounds beneath my flesh
it's my mouth that pushes out this breath

~Sarah McLachlan

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Bianca sighed as she sat down on the park bench, looking over at Frankie.

"Well, we've come full circle." She said, disappointed. "I'm sorry, Frankie. I really thought we'd have better luck." She looked down at the ground, her thoughts drifting to her earlier confession to her mother. Frankie put her hand on Bianca's shoulder.

"Hey, don't be sorry. You've been such a big help to me...I'll find somewhere to sleep. Don't worry about me..." How can I not? Bianca thought with a dry laugh. Frankie pulled Bianca's chin up so she could look her in the eyes.

"Bianca, are you okay?" Bianca averted her eyes.

"I'm fine." She said rather unconvincingly.

"You've been weird all afternoon." <I<DAMN!< I>Bianca thought. I need to control my thoughts better. I can't be around her if all I'm going to be thinking about is how much I... She sighed again.

"Look, I'm sorry. It's just...my mom and I had a really big argument, and...well...I overreacted a little bit." She said guiltily. Frankie looked at her with curiousity.

"What'd you do?" The smaller girl asked. Bianca took a deep breath.

"I slapped her." Frankie was taken aback.

"Whoa...why'd you do that?" She asked with a little nervous laugh.

"Um...she was talking about you." Frankie's heart warmed even as she was becoming angry with Erica. "She said you were poison, and you were a gutter snipe...I couldn't handle it. I told her I..." Bianca trailed off as she realized where her words were going.

"You told her you what?" Frankie pressed. Bianca took another deep breath. Well, she's gotta know by now, right? It's pretty obvious..

"I told her I...like you." That's a start... She felt her pulse quicken as she awaited Frankie's response.

"You like...like me?" Frankie stumbled over the words. It was fairly obvious to her that Bianca didn't mean just as a friend. Bianca nodded, swallowing anxiously. Frankie couldn't contain her joy at this confession. She'd known, obviously; she wasn't stupid, but hearing it...it elated her! She smiled widely at Bianca, then Proteus' words came back to her. If she interferes with your work...she'll have to be eliminated. She looked down at the ground.

"Look, Frankie, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have told you. It's...it's not fair of me to expect anything, but I hope this doesn't change things between us." Bianca's heart was breaking with every second Frankie was silent, deep in thought. Finally, she spoke.

"Oh, it's going to change things." She said, still looking at the ground, but smiling. She looked up at Bianca, saw how vulnerable she looked. Her heart broke to see Bianca looking so hurt. She put her arms around the younger girl, pulling her close. She breathed her scent in deeply, recognizing how comfortable it felt to be here in Bianca's arms. To Bianca, it felt like a goodbye. Frankie felt the warm wetness of a tear running down Bianca's cheek. She pulled away slightly, brushing the tear aside.

As she smiled softly up at Bianca, she noticed the taller girl's face softening, growing happier. She felt a familiar heat creep up her body as her eyes met Bianca's, then drifted lower to examine her lips. She'd been here before, in this place where she could practically breathe the taller girl's breath, and she'd shied away. Not this time She thought as she twined her arms around Bianca's neck and pulled the girl's head down toward hers.

When their lips met, it was pure bliss. Bianca thought her heart would explode from so much feeling. As their lips danced together, each girl was thinking how everything seemed to be clicking into place. And when they parted, Frankie smiled broadly up at her, matching her own wide grin.

"Definitely going to change things."

Angel (Revisited-Again)

You're in the arms of the Angel
May you find some comfort here

~Sarah McLachlan

Angel (Revisited- Again)

Bianca sighed happily as she sat down on the bench, grabbing Frankie's hand and pulling her down to sit next to her. She leaned back.

"Wow." Bianca said, amazed. "I...I didn't expect that." Frankie smiled.

"Neither did I." She said with a little laugh, looking up into Bianca's eyes. The sparkle she had loved to see before had intensified. I did that? She thought. How did I make her that happy? She looked down, starting to lose her confidence. I shouldn't be doing this. I can't do this to her. Conflicting feelings tore through Frankie, and a tear slipped out of her eye. She sniffed and wiped it away. Bianca didn't overlook this, and gave the girl's hand a little squeeze.

"Hey, what's wrong?" The sound of Bianca's voice made the tears flow faster. Frankie felt her guilt and self-loathing rush over her, and she gulped back a sob. Bianca let go of Frankie's hand so she could pull the fragile girl into her arms. Frankie curled around Bianca, desperately clinging to her strength. Bianca rocked her back and forth a little, kissed the top of her head. I wish you would tell me what's wrong, Frankie...I can't help if I don't know what's wrong. Frankie pulled away slowly.

"I'm sorry, I just... " She started, wiping her face with her hands. Bianca cut her off with a finger on her lips.

"Shh. Don't be sorry. Never be sorry for sharing yourself with me." She assured. Frankie sighed.

"This is new for me, having someone care about me, like this. I'm not used to it." She admitted.

"Well, you're going to get used to it." Bianca said with conviction. "I do care about you, Frankie, a lot. No matter what, I care about you. Remember that, okay?" Bianca said, turning Frankie's face towards hers so she could look at her. Frankie managed a weak smile, although Bianca's certainty almost brought more tears to her eyes.

"Thank you, Bianca. You don't know how much that means to me." She said, her voice still shaky. Bianca brushed a lock of hair out of Frankie's face, and was struck, not for the first time, by the beauty of the older girl. Even after the minutes of crying, the girl had a glow about her. She let her hand stroke the girl's cheek, caressing the soft damp skin. She was mesmerized by what she saw in Frankie's eyes; the vulnerability, the pain, but most of all, the trust. This girl was trusting her with so much, could she rise to the challenge? One look in her eyes was all it took for her to know that she could.

Bianca's eyes drifted to her soft, slightly swollen lips. She leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on Frankie's lips, reassuring the girl that she was there.

"Look, I really hate to do this, but..." Bianca started. Frankie smiled.

"You need to get home to your mom." She finished. Bianca smiled back.

"Yeah. I'm worried about what she might do. Besides, I have some calls to make tonight." She took Frankie's hand again. "Are you going to be okay?" Bianca asked, concerned. Frankie nodded.

"I'll be fine, don't worry." Bianca scoffed.

"I'm going to worry, but I'll try not to do it too much." She smiled as she stood, pulling Frankie up with her. "Do you want to call me tomorrow morning? We could grab breakfast together, and try again for a place to stay."

"Okay." Frankie smiled. She moved closer to Bianca. "I'll talk to you tomorrow." She said, leaning up for one last kiss before the girl left. When it ended, she kissed Bianca on the hand. "Now go home. Your mom'll be worried." Bianca smiled back before heading to her car. Frankie watched her with a lightening heart, her lips still tingling from the contact.



Bianca sat in SOS, reading a book and waiting for Frankie to call. She looked at her watch. What's going on? She was supposed to call... A waiter noticed her sitting alone.
"Hey, can I get your order?"

"Can I just wait a little while longer? Somebody's supposed to meet me." If she ever calls...

"No problem. Just give me a shout when you're ready."

"Ok, thanks." She smiled weakly, turning back to her book. The words blurred together and all she could think about was Frankie, and what had happened that caused her not to call when she said she would. She was really starting to worry. She was startled from her thoughts as she heard her phone ring. She snatched it off of the table and quickly pressed the "talk" button.

"Frankie?" Frankie let out a little laugh.

"How'd you guess?" She was relaxing in the armchair in her room at Opal's.

"How'd I guess? You were supposed to call me an hour ago." Frankie bit her lip. She couldn't tell Bianca where she really was...

"I'm really sorry. I kind of overslept." This piqued Bianca's interest.

"Where did you sleep?" She asked, a little worried about the answer.

"Oh, Opal took pity on me. I'm still at her place. But, you know, I really got to get out of here before she thinks I'm taking advantage." Bianca smiled. She knew Opal was too nice to just let her sleep on the street...

"Ok, well, come to SOS And meet me. We'll figure something out." Frankie bit her lip. How do I pull this one off?

"SOS? I don't think so." Bianca was curious.

"What's wrong with SOS?" Frankie sighed.

"Not important. Long story."

"Ok, well -- I don't know what to tell you. Come meet me at the courthouse, then." Frankie was taken aback.

"The courthouse? What? Come on. Suing me over breakfast?" She joked. Bianca laughed.

"Frankie, look, we're running late, and I can see you and the lawyer I'm supposed to talk to as well." Bianca explained. Frankie didn't like where this was going.

"The lawyer? About what?" She asked apprehensively.

"Do you really care?" She asked, smiling.

"Yeah, I do really care." Frankie said. Isn't it obvious?

"Well, let's just say my mom only thinks she's won." Bianca said mysteriously. Right after she said this, she noticed her mother standing behind her. She sighed.

"I'll catch up with you later." She said, hanging up.



Bianca sighed as she entered the courthouse. Her mother had proven once again that she just couldn't handle the thought of her being with Frankie. And she doesn't even know the nature of our relationship! All she sees is what she wants to see... She quelled her thoughts as she walked into the courtroom where her lawyer sat.

"Ms. Rader?"

"Ms. Montgomery?"

"Hi. Thank you so much for seeing me so soon." The lawyer moved a chair over for Bianca to sit on.

"Like I told you on the phone, I have to plead a case in about 15 minutes, but let's go over what you need." Bianca took a deep breath as she sat down.

"Ok, well, I guess I won't tell you the long version of the story, but what I want is to legally establish my independence."

"How old are you now?"

"I'm 17." Bianca replied She rushed on. "And I know it can be done because I looked it up on the Internet. What I want is a legal declaration as an emancipated minor."

"My first question is, why? You'll be 18 in a few months." Bianca sighed.

"Well, I'm ready to make my own life decisions now." Ms. Rader sighed.

"Your mother is Erica Kane." Bianca nodded. "And you two have had some sort of falling-out."

"It's been building." Bianca said defensively.

"I know your background, Bianca. I mean, you're the daughter of a very wealthy and famous woman, and I've read about you." The lawyer hinted. Bianca sighed.

"You mean you've heard I'm gay." Ms. Rader smiled.

"Yes." Bianca looked down.

"My mother doesn't want me to be, but she doesn't understand that I can't really control that. So, you see, we actually have a pretty big problem here. She's trying to control my life."

"I understand this is difficult for you, Bianca. But I have to tell you, mothers have been trying to control their daughters' lives since the beginning of time. That doesn't mean you get to divorce them just because--" Bianca looked up as Frankie entered the room. "-- can we help you?" Bianca smiled.

"Frankie." The smaller girl was pissed.

"Bianca, what are you doing?" Bianca was taken aback.

"The only thing I can do to be myself." Ms. Rader was a little uncomfortable at the intimate feeling of the conversation. She cut in.

"Is this your girlfriend?" She inquired. Both girls blushed. Am I? Frankie thought, a little panicked. That IS where we're heading, isn't it? Damn...how'd I get myself into this mess?

"Does that matter?" Bianca said, smiling. Frankie cut in again.

"You're suing your mother because she hates me?" She said incredulously.

"No, Frankie, this doesn't have anything to do with you. This has been going on in my life since last year." Bianca insisted. Frankie sighed.

"Bianca, don't you get it? You're only going to make things so much worse."

"No, it's ok." Bianca said, trying to calm Frankie down.

"No, it's not ok, Bianca, because your mother is going to have me thrown into jail. She's going to have me arrested." Bianca was taken aback. Why on earth would she think that?

"What?" Ms. Rader leaned forward. There was so much going on here that she didn't know about.

"No, no, that's not going to happen." Bianca insisted, getting up from her chair. "Frankie, you didn't do anything wrong. And you're not going to talk me out of this, ok? My mother cannot take over my life and tell me what to feel and who to feel it for." Bianca said strongly, looking Frankie in the eye. Frankie wanted to cry. She sighed, and looked back at Bianca, shaking her head.

"I'm not worth it."

"Yes, you are." Bianca insisted. Frankie sighed. No, I'm really not...

Home (Revisited)

so much anger so deeply engrained
seemed a burden that was hers alone
she didn't think that there was anything wrong
with wanting a life that she could call her own

~Sarah McLachlan

Home (Revisited)

Ms. Rader was eager to get back to business, as she had to leave pretty soon to be in court.

"So, having the court to declare the emancipation of a minor is no easy task." Bianca turned back to the lawyer.

"Well, tell me what I need to do on my end." Frankie was still unsure.

"Bianca, are you sure?" I don't want you to do this all because of me...

"Yeah." She said gently to Frankie. She turned back to the lawyer. "Please."

"First, you'd have to prove that you can support yourself."

"Well, I can. I told you that my father died last year. He left me a lot of money." Frankie took in this new information. They'd talked, but she obviously didn't know as much about Bianca as she'd thought. Her heart ached for the girl, for how much pain she knew the Bianca had gone through. She turned back to the conversation between Bianca and the lawyer.

"I'm assuming he left this money in trust for you."

"Yes. My uncle, his brother, looks after it for me."

"And he'd give you access to that money?" Ms. Rader was skeptical.

"I can ask him." Bianca tried. The lawyer sighed.

"Bianca, without his consent --" Bianca cut her off.

"Ok, well, if he doesn't give his consent, then I will get a job or something." She was determined to do this. Frankie was confused.

"Wait. I don't get this. If he left the money for her because he wanted her to have it, I mean, why can't she just have it?" I may not want her to do this, but I also don't want her to get cheated out of something that's rightfully hers... Frankie's thoughts were interrupted by Erica storming into the courtroom.

"That's right. That's exactly right, Frankie." The girl groaned. "Bianca's father left that money to her, not to you." You won't get my daughter's money, or anything else from her. Ms. Rader looked at her watch.

"I'm due in court." She said, standing up. "Bianca, if you still want my help, call me." Erica jumped on her words.

"Oh, she won't be needing your help. Thank you." Ms. Rader turned to leave, giving Bianca a last look that said the offer still stood. Erica watched the lawyer leave, then turned as Bianca walked toward her.

"Well, I clearly underestimated the severity of this problem." She said soberly. She turned to Frankie. "Frankie, how very predictable of you to try to get Bianca to access her trust fund." Bianca cut in.

"Frankie had nothing to do with it, and it is not about money." She defended.

"Oh, really?" Erica replied. "What is it about, Bianca?" She asked skeptically.

"Getting away from you." Bianca said calmly, her voice full of conviction. "You treat me like a child." Erica scoffed.

"You are my child!"

"I don't belong to you." Bianca pointed out.

"Who do you belong to? Her?" God, Mother, why can't you get it? I belong to ME, not you, not Frankie, not anyone else. ME! "My God, Bianca, you're a very intelligent girl! Open your eyes!"

"Open my eyes to what? Your paranoia? Your homophobia?" She challenged.

"No, to what is clear! Could it be any clearer that Frankie is trying to get to you and your trust fund?" Bianca shook her head. Her mother just did not have a clue. "I have been telling you this from day one -- she's after you and your money!" She sighed.

"Are you happy being alone, Mother?" Is that what this is about? You don't have a love life to speak of, so you try to sabotage mine?

"Oh, don't you dare, Bianca." Bianca continued.

"Do you ever think that maybe you are so wrapped up in your own cynicism that nobody wants to be near you?" She asked, disgusted. Frankie advanced on the two so she could be closer to Bianca.

"Wait, wait, wait. Just hold on a second." Jack said as he walked into the room. Erica stopped him.

"You know what, Jack? No, no. Please, let her finish." She turned back to Bianca.

"I trust Frankie with my life." Bianca herself was shocked by the statement, as was everyone else in the room. Frankie felt a mixture of intense joy and intense dread fill her. Could she handle such a responsibility? Erica was shocked and hurt.

"But you can't trust me?" Bianca sighed as she looked back and forth between her mother and Frankie.

"It didn't have to be a choice. You're the one who made it a choice, and I don't choose you. You know what? You don't really want me anyway." Frankie felt ready to cry. Bianca was so ready to give up everything for her. How could she make the girl see that she didn't even have a future to share with Bianca? Erica felt the words cut her like a knife through her heart.

"What are you talking about? How could you say that?" Erica said, tears ready to fall. Bianca could see how much her mother was hurting, but she couldn't back down from this without hurting herself.

"You don't want me as I am -- independent and grown up and gay."

"All right. Can I please talk --" Jack tried to cut in. Erica interrupted.

"You have no idea how fierce my love for you is." Erica said desperately. Bianca stayed cold.

"It's not something that I want or need anymore, Mother." Erica was heartbroken, and Jack could see it. He reached his arm out to Bianca.

"Let's go." Bianca looked at Frankie, concerned about leaving her alone with Erica. Frankie ushered her away, putting her hand on the small of Bianca's back to point her in the right direction.

"I'll be fine. Go." Both Frankie and Erica watched Bianca leave sadly, and, surprisingly, for very similar reasons. Frankie took in a deep breath as Erica turned back to her, fire in her eyes.


There are two of us
talking in circles
and one of us who wants to leave

~Sarah McLachlan


Erica spun on Frankie, hatred blazing in her eyes.

"Well, I have to say something to you. You're good. Hmm. You're very good. But I promise you one thing -- I'm much better." Frankie raised her eyebrows. Is she for real?

"You are so dead wrong about me." Frankie said, rather amused in spite of the circumstances. She started to walk out of the courtroom, but Erica's voice stopped her.

"You're lying. You've done nothing but lie about everything. Ever since that first night when you deliberately threw yourself in front of my car, you've been after money --" Frankie laughed as she cut Erica off.

"Oh, here we go again!" She exclaimed, exasperated. Erica continued, unruffled by the girl's outburst.

"And somebody taught you very well -- from a very early age, I would suspect." Frankie stood there, shaking slightly with her anger and disbelief of this woman. "And you did your homework because my daughter's life -- my poor daughter's life has been fodder for the tabloids, and you studied every little detail, and now you are exploiting her with those details." Frankie sighed. I REALLY don't have to take this from her. I would never hurt Bianca! Not on purpose, at least.. She leaned forward so Erica would get her point.

"Bianca likes me." She stated, hiding the elation she felt at saying that out loud. "I did not make that happen. And she likes me for me." She said proudly, knowing she spoke the truth. For the first time in her life, she knew someone liked her for who she was. Erica was disgusted.

"Likes you? My daughter could never like you." Erica knew the words were false even as she said them, so she struck out. "You're somebody with no soul." The words cut Frankie deep, to the core of her being. She did have a soul! If she didn't she'd have been out of this mess a long time ago. That was what Proteus preyed on, humanity. He couldn't function without the fear and humanity of his cronies.

"You don't know anything about me." Frankie said angrily. Erica nodded.

"You're right. I don't know anything about who you are and how you got the way you are, and I frankly couldn't care less. But I certainly care about my daughter. I care about my daughter more than you could ever imagine." And so do I! Frankie sighed.

"You know what? You are just wasting your breath." She said bitterly as she exited the courtroom. Erica followed, still on her tirade.

"I know exactly what has happened." Frankie spun around to face Erica again. "My daughter has opened her heart to you, and you have taken it because that's who you are. You are a taker and you are a user." Frankie was disliking the woman more and more. An idea struck her.

"Has it ever occurred to you that Bianca and I are just friends? You know, we're just real friends?" Sure, we're not really...but surely it's crossed her mind?

"Never." Erica replied. She is unbelievable! Frankie thought. Erica continued. "Not once. And let me make myself perfectly clear to you." Bianca and Jack walked up just in time to hear Erica's last sentence. "If you do anything -- anything to hurt Bianca, I swear to you on my mother's grave, I will kill you." Frankie was taken aback. This woman was more psychotic than she'd thought! Even Jack was shocked.

"Oh, my God." Bianca said, horrified.

To Be Continued

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