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June 20th, 2005 Morning
Maggie laid in her bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. She hadn't slept much through the night as something she had said was beginning to eat at her. On her date with Bianca she had been making jokes about how seeing Patrick and Guilia through the viewer had been like watching your parents make out. She was quickly realizing it wasn't as much of a joke as she originally thought.
After their tiresome day of shopping, an evening of fighting with a video camera and figuring out their dating confusion, she had headed to bed expecting to get a good night's rest. As she laid there in the dark, it was like some one had flipped a switch in her brain. She had begun to take inventory of the people in her life. How was each one connected to her? What did they mean to her? Could she count on them if her back was against the wall?
Sadly, she realized that list of people wasn't nearly as large as she would like. Sure, she had friends, but were they the type who would do anything for her, and her in return for them? And worst of all, what of her family? The people who are supposed to support you no matter what? Immediate, or extended, that was a bleak picture.
What also bothered her was the fact that even though she and Bianca had now made peace with their living arrangements, why did she immediately find something else to be upset about? Was there something in her DNA that just made her always look for a problem, even where one might not exist? Why couldn't she just be content with school, a small family to come home to, and a friend who just happened to be able to drive her anywhere in Paris she might want to go, in a limo no less?
Because it still wasn't true 'family' in the stereotypical sense. Everyone in her family had pretty much been a bad seed at some point or another. Frankie, her own twin, had never really been there for her. Leo was probably the closest thing to what family should be like, and her time with him was cut short due to his psycho mother. David had a good run, but that seemed to be an exception to the rule with him.
She was extremely lucky to have the people in her life she did, but it was obvious that at some point she was going to have to work on getting out there more and expanding her circle of friends again. Since arriving in Paris, her world had pretty much been restricted to this apartment, and these people. Perhaps the time was finally approaching where she needed to actually meet some new people?
"Maggie will you come in here please?" Bianca bellowed from the kitchen, interrupting her train of thought. She got up, threw a robe over her boxers and favorite Tigers jersey, and shuffled over to the door. She opened it a crack to look out. "Is he here yet?" was her muffled reply.
"Not yet, but I really need to talk to you before I go!"
Maggie opened the door the rest of the way, and stepped in to the kitchen. "Well, as long as he isn't here yet what do you need?"
"Maggie, you are going to have to eventually face Patrick and just ignore what we saw."
"I'm glad you can erase that mental image " she lowered her eyes to the floor, and bit her lower lip "but I'll talk to him soon. Promise."
Her expression, and response, lacked the humor Bianca expected, and it puzzled her, but she continued. "Good." She said with a smile. "I am probably going to be late tonight. We are working on the acquisition of that Italian clothing company now, and I am sure there will be some late nights for a couple weeks."
Maggie finally looked back up from the floor to address her taller friend. "Not a problem. I have to start on that big paper, so I will be locked up in my room. I will just take Munchkin in there with me."
Bianca looked a bit crestfallen. "Well .looks like we are off to a real good start to dating!"
Maggie smiled. "Well I guess we could have just skipped the date all together then if you feel we're off to a bad start."
Bianca smiled widely, her jaw dropping slightly as she playfully smacked at Maggie's arm. "Not on your life buster!"
Maggie's smile warmed even more. "It's not like we planned for our lives to be this busy Bianca, it's just part of who we are. I'll be done in two weeks and then I will be off for the summer and we will have plenty of time for each other."
"Yeah barring any of the major disasters that seem to follow us everywhere." she said with an eye roll. The buzzer on the intercom went off, indicating Patrick had arrived. Bianca walked over and pushed the reply button. "Good morning Patrick. Could you come up please? I have several boxes of files to bring down today."
"Of course Ma'am."
Maggie turned to walk towards her room. "And that's my cue to get out of here "
"Maggie! You're going to have to face him at some point! Why not just get it out of the way?"
The shorter girl paused in mid-stride and sighed. "I know, I know and you're probably right."
A knocking at the door indicated Patrick had made his way to the top floor. Bianca went to let him in. When she turned her back, Maggie again tried to make for her room, but Bianca just said "Nuh-uh" without ever even turning around to look. Maggie cursed under her breath. "Damn her knowing me so well!"
Bianca walked out to the front hall and opened the door just as Patrick walked out of the elevator. "Good morning." He said with a smile.
"Good morning Patrick." She replied, giving him a quick hug. "The files are in the living room, try not to hurt yourself lifting them, there's a bunch of them."
He placed a hand on his back, rubbing it, "I remember bringing them up here."
"Thank you." She said with a warm smile. As they walked towards the living room, she glanced towards the kitchen, and much to her non-surprise, there was no Maggie in sight. She rolled her eyes, and shook her head. As they walked in to the living room, Bianca got an idea. After Patrick had taken the first load of boxes, she quickly opened a box, pulled out a less important file, made a mental note of which one it was, and stuck it behind a couch cushion. "She only thinks she's escaped." She thought.
Patrick returned from placing the first boxes in the elevator. Bianca noticed as he walked through the entrance hall he was looking through the dining room to the kitchen to see if he could spot Maggie, and looked sad when he didn't see her. "Just these last three?" he asked as he approached.
"Yes, thank you Patrick."
"No problem Ma'am." Patrick paused for a moment as he stacked the boxes. "Ma'am, if I may ask, is everything alright with Maggie? I haven't heard from her since you came home from your date, and normally I at least see her in the morning."
She quickly thought of a cover story for her friend. "Oh, she's fine, we just had a long day of shopping yesterday and I think she's sleeping in."
Patrick seemed to know she was lying, but nodded and carried the boxes out in silence.
Bianca mumbled "Thanks Maggie." as she followed her driver out the door.
June 20th, 2005 Noon
"I'm looking, but I'm not seeing it Bianca." Maggie said in to the phone as she walked around the dining room, looking under the table. "You're sure you read it in here?"
Just then there was a knock on the door. "Oh great! He's here and I haven't found it! Thanks a lot Bianca! I was just going to leave it outside the door for him." She paused to let Bianca speak for a moment. "I know I promised, but that doesn't necessarily mean the same day! If I didn't know better I would say you left this here on purpose!" She clicked her phone off and walked to the front door to open it and find just whom she expected, Patrick. "Hey, come on in, I haven't found it yet."
Patrick walked in quietly, noticing he hadn't received his customary hug. "She told me to look in the den." he said.
Maggie looked at him side ways. "Oh she did, did she?" She stormed off towards the den, Patrick in tow, mumbling about Bianca making up her mind about where it could be. After several minutes of looking in silence, turning up nothing, she stormed off towards the living room without saying a word. Patrick silently followed.
She looked around for a few moments, not seeing anything in plain sight. She got down on her knees, looked under the couch and coffee table, and as she got up, she came to be facing Patrick's chest. She stole a quick look up at his face and looked back down. "Excuse me I need to check the rest of the room."
Maggie looked up at him, anger obvious in her eyes. "Excuse me?"
"I said 'no'."
"And just where do you get off telling me 'no'?"
"I'm saying 'no' because you are going to sit down and talk to me." He said as he put his hands on her shoulders and pushed downward lightly to make her sit on the couch.
Maggie was grateful it wasn't the other couch, but she didn't say anything. She folded her arms, set her jaw, and stared straight ahead. "I don't know what could be so important that it has to be discussed when we're supposed to be looking for Bianca's file."
Patrick sat down on her left and turned to face her. "What is important is us. Something is obviously bothering you. You didn't call me all weekend, which you usually do at least once just to say hello. You didn't come out of your room this morning and now you're hardly talking to me. So it's obvious something is bothering you, now, what is it?"
Maggie continued to stare straight ahead, keeping silent.
Patrick turned and sat back in the couch. "I can play this silent game all day if you want, but I would hope our friendship is strong enough that you would know you can tell me if something is wrong between us."
She paused, made to open her mouth, stopped, then tried again. "The other night, when Bianca and I were on our date, we .we saw you."
Patrick's eyebrows knitted together. "Saw me? I was here all night with Guilia."
"We saw you from up there." She said, making a gesture with her head to indicate the tower.
Patrick looked over his shoulder, still confused. Until finally he realized she meant the Eiffel Tower. "What in the world?"
Maggie closed her eyes, relaxing her jaw and took a deep breath. "We went up to the observation deck, we were playing around with the viewers, and I decided to see if I could see the apartment. Well, I could just a bit better than I expected."
Patrick was puzzled still. "I'm sorry Maggie, I'm still not following."
She took a deep breath. "We saw you and Guilia on the couch " she nodded towards the opposing couch "making out.
Turning slightly red, Patrick chuckled. "Oh, you did. Well and this bothered you?"
"Yes." Maggie paused for a moment, appearing deep in thought before she continued. "You know, at first it was a joke. I told Bianca it was something like seeing your parents make out. You know it's happened at some point, but you just don't want to think about it."
Patrick chuckled. "Of course."
"But " Maggie continued, her brow furrowing, still looking forward as if she was focusing on something very distant, "it wasn't just that, it made me realize just how close I've become to you since we arrived in Paris. Frighteningly close almost."
Patrick placed his hand on her shoulder "And I to you."
"And I think it's made me realize just how few friends and family I have had for a very long time. I have Bianca and Miranda of course, and I can always call Jamie, Reggie, and Dani, but beyond that, family is sparse." She could feel the tears welling up in the corners of her eyes and she wiped at them with the back of her hand. "Sure, Leo and David were family, but Leo died, David became so dark you didn't even want to go near him. Anna left town, and she was the closest thing I had to a mother for a very long time."
The tears started to come for real this time, Patrick pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her as he inched closer to her and put his arm around her to pull her in to his chest.
"And as silly as it sounds" she said between muffled sobs "that whole silly thing up in the tower made me realize just how alone I am .how my family always seems to end up abandoning me in some way. Either by dying, trying to kill me, or just turning in to complete asses."
Patrick let her cry for a moment before he said anything. "Do you remember how I told you once that I knew of Jonathon from his crossover with Bianca?" Maggie nodded. "Well, after that I got more curious about your past, and as I could tell there was a lot of pain there, I looked up very basic facts on you, nothing too personal, just your basic family information."
Maggie choked out a laugh as she wiped her nose. "Oh there was some good reading I bet."
"Maggie the fact you can get out of bed every day is a wonder."
"I'm serious Maggie. Between your Aunt Vanessa's manipulations when you first got to Pine Valley "
Maggie winced at what all that implied, but stayed silent.
" to what happened with Jonathon, and everything in between, you are an amazingly strong woman. And you are not alone, as you said, you have Bianca and Miranda, you have the friends back in Pine Valley you mentioned, and I hope you would count Guilia and I amongst those friends."
"Of course I do!" she said, pulling away from him slightly so she could turn and look at him.
"Good, because as you said you thought of us as parents when you saw us the other night, we do think of you and Bianca as daughters. And as such, there is nothing I wouldn't do for either of you."
"But it just feels so weird you know?" She said, her crying subsiding. "We've only known each other four months, but I feel like I've connected with you more than I've connected with my own family. And I almost have to wonder if everything that's happened since I got here is even real. Everyone I get close to something always seems to go wrong. And I'm almost as afraid of that happening again as having no one around in my life."
"It is most certainly real Maggie, that I know for sure. As for the rest of the world, you feel you are damned if you do and damned if you don't."
"Basically. People are slow to warm up to me, you either love me or hate me for some reason, and even when they do love me, it always seems to end up badly."
"I would think it difficult for anyone to resist warming to you." He said with a large grin.
Her mouth dropped open with a hint of a smile. "And just what does that mean?"
"Let's just say, when you enter a room you're a 'presence' that can not be ignored."
"Whatever that means!" she said with a chuckle as she turned and fell back against his arm again. Her face went serious as she continued. "All kidding aside, I'm sorry for this little outburst, and avoiding you this weekend."
Patrick smiled down at the top of her head. "There is nothing to apologize for. You've had a lot of new things to deal with, moving to a new country, dating Bianca, going back to school, emotions are to be expected."
"Yeah, I suppose. I just would have never thought the sight of you kissing your wife would do it!"
"It wasn't that, I don't think. It was that made you think about your relationships to everyone."
"I just wish I knew why I keep doing this to myself." She said, her voice sounding exasperated.
"Because you don't think you're worthy of being loved." He said in a calm voice.
Maggie paused, looked at him, studying to see what he knew. "Did Bianca say something to you about that?"
"No she did not, but it is just basic human nature Maggie. Until you feel you are worthy, you will always look for the bad in your life. You will always be waiting for the hammer to fall. And the first step to conquering those feelings is to learn to be happy with who you are."
"You're probably right, heck, I know you're right, but who knows when that part will happen. I just would like some time to actually enjoy life though, without all of the constant worrying I seem to do."
"It'll come, just give it time."
Silence fell over them, nothing awkward, just the kind that signifies that a conversation has reached it's natural conclusion, and to go any further would be just to rehash what had already been said. Maggie smiled as she absent-mindedly played with the handkerchief in her hand. "Just to be safe, could you restrict making out with your wife to your own apartment?" she said as she looked up at him with a smirk.
"I don't know could you restrict your use of viewing platforms to looking at the things tourists should look at?" he said back with a grin.
"Hey! It is our apartment after all, we had a right to look!"
"Fine, fine. Truce?"
"Truce." She said as she turned and hugged him around the neck. "Thanks Patrick, I don't know what I would do without you."
"Nor what I would do without you." He said as he returned the hug.
Maggie stood up, wiped her face one more time, went to hand him back his handkerchief, but stopped, and shoved it in her pocket. "Yeah think I'll run that through the laundry for you first."
He laughed as he stood up. "No rush."
"Ok we have got to get back to finding this file!"
Patrick pulled out his mobile. "Give me a moment, I think I can take care of that quickly." He dialed a number. "Ms. Montgomery? We talked, now fess up where you hid the file." Patrick stood there for a moment, he then leaned over, moved the couch cushion, and pulled out the file as Maggie shook her head. "Yes, it's here. I am sure you really did need the third quarter profit reports of the ice cream factory immediately, no doubt in my mind. I'll see you in a few minutes." And he hung up his phone and shoved it back in his pocket.
"Did you know she planned this all along?"
"No, but it became obvious as soon as we talked."
Maggie stared at him for a moment as if she was assessing him. "You know, you scare me just a teeny, tiny bit sometimes."
"Only a teeny bit? I'll have to try harder in the future." He said with an enormous grin.
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