DISCLAIMER: All My Children and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
One Moment of Normal
By Susan P
Bianca stepped out into the corridor, intent on heading out of the courtroom the back way. The way they'd come in. With any luck, the reporters would have given up by now and she could avoid any that might be left.
Not that she would tell them anything if she did encounter any. Nothing to say. It was over. The bastard would get away with it. It had all gone to hell and there wouldn't even be a trial. At this point, the only justice she could hope for would be a conviction and a jail sentence on the corporate charges. Unless they could somehow come up with more evidence to support the rape charge.
She walked the corridors almost blindly, barely paying attention to what was going on around her. She didn't want to see any stares that might be directed her way, didn't want to hear any whispers about her--good or bad. She felt... She didn't know how to feel. She just wanted to get the hell out of there. She had to find David. She had to know.
She was so focused on her thoughts that she collided with someone who was apparently as distracted as she was. Someone who smelled, and felt, achingly familiar.
"I'm sorry," they spoke at once, and a strong hand gripped her forearm to steady her.
They stepped back and Lena pulled her hand back as though burned. "Bianca, I-- I'm sorry. I never meant for you to see me; I just had to be here." Lena's eyes were making a thorough study of the pattern on the floor. "I'm sorry. I--I'll just go." She had already turned to leave when Bianca called her back.
"Lena, it's..." she stopped short of saying 'it's okay.' Nothing was okay and nothing would be for a very long time. She sighed, pushed an errant lock of hair behind her ear. "It's not like I could keep you or anyone else from hearing all the gory details." Now it was her turn to stare at the floor. "Might as well put it all on a billboard, now," she muttered.
Bianca saw Lena reach out as if to touch her, and she all but cringed as the hand stopped in mid-motion and fell back to Lena's side.
"No Bianca. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The way you stood up to him. It was amazing, how strong you were. I was so proud of you."
"Oh, really? Is that why you can barely look at me?" Why you can't stand to touch me?
"No," Lena growled as she met Bianca's eyes. "I'm just so afraid of...of saying or...or doing too much, or not enough, or the wrong thing. Bianca, I... I want so much to help you, but I--" her hands fisted at her sides. Lena's frustration was palpable--she almost vibrated with it--and there was such doubt in her eyes. "I don't know how. I don't even know if you want to see me. I couldn't blame you if you didn't. I--"
Lena didn't finish the sentence, but Bianca understood the implication. Everyone who cared about her was trying to do the same thing. They were all trying to blame themselves for what had happened. Everyone, that is, but the one person who was entirely to blame. Bianca was too busy trying to deal with her own feelings of guilt to be much use assuaging anyone else's. So, she didn't even try. She took another approach, instead.
"Lena, tell me something. What do you want to do-- more than anything--right now?"
She saw something dark and dangerous flicker in Lena's eyes for a moment, and she knew what that was all about, too. But it only lasted a moment before being replaced by a look suffused with such love and concern that Bianca almost forgot to breathe.
"To just...hold you."
Bianca held Lena's gaze as she slowly and deliberately invaded her personal space. She slid her arms around the taller woman and sank into the warm comfort of her body. Lena's arms came up slowly to embrace her tentatively, as though afraid of harming or frightening her.
Bianca tightened her hold on her lover, nuzzled against the bare skin left exposed by her open collar, and breathed in Lena's scent. She'd missed this. She'd dreamt of it, whenever the nightmares abated and let her sleep for a while. What surprised her was how much she wanted it. That she could still want it.
"Hold me tighter, Lena."
She felt Lena's arms pull her closer, one arm across her shoulders and one hand resting in the small of her back. But there was still something cautious and uncertain about the embrace--two qualities she'd never associated with Lena Kundera. She didn't like it. She just wanted to feel like everything was normal again, if only for a moment.
"Like you mean it, Lena. I need to feel it."
Lena made a sound that was almost like a sob before pulling Bianca even closer and wrapping her in a strong embrace. Bianca sighed, "yes," before squeezing Lena tighter.
They stood like that for several minutes, unmindful of any passersby, immersed only in each other, the real world forgotten for a few precious moments. Bianca listened to the rhythm of Lena's heartbeat, felt the warmth of the skin beneath her cheek, felt the curves of Lena's body, Lena's breath gently ruffling her hair. And she felt the first stirrings of desire she'd experienced since those moments cuddling with Lena in the park. Before everything had gone to hell. It scared her because she knew she wasn't ready to be with Lena yet, but knowing that she could feel this again gave her the first hope for the future she'd had in weeks.
She pulled back a little so she could look Lena in the eye. "I'm going to need time, Lena. Maybe a lot of it."
Lena sighed, "I know. I won't... I'll try not to push you, but if I do, you'll tell me, yes?"
"I won't try to...call you or see you...until I know you're ready. But, I'm not going anywhere, Bianca. I love you, and I want to be with you. In the meantime, though, I will try to be and do...whatever you need of me. You'll just have to help me a little...give me a clue once in a while?"
Bianca grinned and reached up to place a light kiss on Lena's cheek. "I'll do my best."
"I will, too."
"Lena...don't go after him. Don't trade your life or your future for that..." She made the effort to suppress her own anger, knowing it would just upset Lena further. "He's not worth it, Lena. Promise me you'll stay away from him."
"Bianca, I..." Lena's eyes slid away from her, but Bianca wouldn't stand for that. She pulled back a little and gripped Lena's forearms until Lena looked at her again.
"Promise me, Lena. I'm gonna need you, so, don't risk yourself. Not even for me."
Lena blew out a breath, nodded once, then looked into her eyes before answering, "okay. I promise. I won't go after him. But if he comes near you again, I'll..." she stopped, took a deep breath. "I won't let him hurt you again, no matter what."
Bianca knew it was probably the best she was going to get, so she just nodded before stepping back. Lena released her, but reluctantly.
"I...I should go."
"I could...give you a ride home, if you like?"
"No-- Thank you, but no. I have an errand to run before going back home to check on my mother."
"Oh, that's right, I'm sorry. Is Erica all right?"
"She'll be fine, she just needs to get some rest. We all do, I think."
"Bianca..." Lena reached out to take one of Bianca's hands in hers. "You're sure you'll be okay to drive? I could...call you a cab?"
"Yes, I haven't been sleeping well, but I won't pass out at the wheel, if that's what you're asking. And, I really do have something I have to take care of before going home. I wasn't...I wasn't making an excuse to get away from you, Lena. Please, just...try to be patient with me and try not to assume too much. Okay?"
"Okay." Lena grinned that sly grin that had captivated her from the beginning. "You see? We're already making progress. I think you just gave me a clue."
Bianca couldn't help but grin up at her in response. "I think I just did, at that."
"Bianca, I won't ask you to be patient with me, because if I screw up, I need to know it. So, if I do something wrong, or if I'm not giving you something you need--including space--just tell me. Scream it at me, if you need to. Just...don't shut me out altogether? Please?"
She blinked back the tears that were forming in her eyes. "Okay." She squeezed Lena's hand, felt the ring on her finger and resisted the urge to trace its shape with her own. She tried not to wonder whether the promise the ring symbolized would evaporate if she were really... She had to go find David.
"I'm gonna take off. I'll see you later."
It wasn't much of a promise, but Lena's face lit up at hearing it, anyway. "Okay. If you need anything, you'll call? Any time. Even if it's the middle of the night and you can't sleep."
Bianca just smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Lena. For..." she wasn't sure how to express what she was feeling. "For the best ten minutes of my whole day."
"I know exactly what you mean. Hey, ten minutes here, fifteen there... Given enough time, maybe we could work up to an hour," she smiled when her teasing coaxed another small grin out of Bianca. The amusement in Lena's eyes was short-lived, however, replaced quickly by concern. She squeezed Bianca's hand a moment before releasing it. "Be careful."
Bianca continued on her original path, willing herself not to look back. She was afraid she'd find Lena staring after her, or turned away, trying not to cry. She wasn't sure she could bear either at the moment. She only had so much energy to spare in trying to make other people feel better, even Lena.
She made it to her car without having to look at or speak to another human being, which suited her just fine. She rested her head on the steering wheel a moment and took a deep breath before driving away.
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