June 19th – Morning
Bianca Montgomery shuffled through the living room of her large Paris apartment in her old, but cushy robe. She paused briefly, as she passed through the living room, to look up at the Eiffel Tower and smiled at the thought of her date ending up at the top of the famous monument last night.
After a few seconds, she studied the giant glass wall that was in front of her. "I have to remember to look into blinds for that wall." She mumbled to herself as she remembered, Maggie and herself looking through it the night before at Patrick and Guilia. She smiled and continued shuffling her way towards the kitchen, and her ultimate goal, the coffee pot.
As she entered the entrance hall, and approached the archway into the dining room, she heard the most wretched rendition of Barry Manilow's 'Copacabana' known to man; being…well, 'sung' would be a term for it…coming from the kitchen.
Bianca got to the doorway just in time to see Maggie with her back to the door, wearing her Tigers jersey and a pair of boxer shorts, swaying back and forth while singing, 'Music and passion were always the fashion…At the Copa...they fell in love…'. Maggie set down the cereal box as she spun around with a bowl of cereal in her hands. Miranda sat in her high chair, squealing in laughter at the show being put on.
Maggie's eyes were closed as she continued to sing her heart out, until she finally opened them, spotted Bianca, and stopped dead with an obvious look of embarrassment on her face. "Um…good morning." She said as she quickly took a seat at the butcher block.
"Oh don't stop on my account! That was a…what's the word I'm looking for…unique version of the song I must say." Bianca said with a sly grin as she crossed to the coffee pot.
Maggie turned a deeper red, and talked with her mouth full of cereal. "I thought you were still asleep."
"Oh I see. You save your singing talent for when you think you're alone huh?"
"I consider it safer that way, less people get harmed."
"Unless it's a birthday song for a certain little girl?"
Maggie laughed. "Yeah." She raised her spoon to eat another serving of cereal. "You sleep well?"
"Like a baby. I was tired after all that running around, and…" Bianca paused as she opened the door to get the creamer out for her coffee. "What in the world happened to our fridge?"
"First time you looked in it since we got home? Well, from the ones I read, they seem pretty easy."
Every shelf of the refrigerator was filled with pots of varying sizes. Attached to each was a note with reheating instructions both in French and English. "There must be two weeks worth of food in here! How in the world did she do all this last night and still have time to make out with Patrick?"
Maggie shuddered and set down her spoon. "Just had to bring that image back to mind didn't you?"
Bianca smirked, but didn't turn around to let Maggie see her expression. "Sorry about that." She continued looking at all the varying items on the shelves before proclaiming, "Well, I guess we know we won't be going out to eat for a while." She finally spotted her creamer, poured some into her coffee, and closed the fridge door before taking her usual stool at the butcher block.
A palpable silence fell over the room as Maggie went back to eating her cereal. Miranda had even gone quiet and was just sitting in her high chair calmly, feeding herself dry bits of cereal.
Bianca picked up her newspaper that Maggie had brought in for her, but she found it hard to concentrate on what was contained within. The silence that had descended was a strange mix of domestic comfort with a heavy hint of 'my date from last night is sitting across from me' awkwardness. She raised the paper a bit higher than usual to help conceal herself.
Maggie stared at the paper in front of her, trying with all her might to see through the blasted thing to get a read on what Bianca was thinking. "This is weird…" she thought, "normally you don't have morning after jitters except for when you've….yeah…and we didn't…so why does this feel so out of place? Should I ask something? Say something? What the heck do I do?"
She opened her mouth to speak, but at the exact same moment, Bianca lowered her paper and went to speak also. They caught each other and laughed. "You go first." Bianca said.
Maggie stared down into her cereal bowl and moved the last few pieces that remained around in the milk. "Oh, it's nothing. I was just going to ask if you had fun last night."
Bianca smiled broadly. "I was going to ask the same of you, and yes, I did."
"Good…so did I." Maggie said with a sheepish grin. "You know….oh…never mind." she said, moving the cereal around again.
Bianca leaned forward and folded her arms to support herself on the butcher block. "What?"
"It was nothing…it was silly."
"Come on Maggie…you opened the can of worms, now spill it. What were you going to say?"
"Just…well…I was wondering if you realized what else yesterday was."
Bianca knotted her brows in thought, and looked off into space. "Well…it wasn't anyone's birthday…June 18th…June 18th…" a look of recognition passed over her face. "Oh wow! I had no clue! One year since….."
"Since we played 'I Never'." Maggie said, cutting her off deliberately.
Bianca grinned, knowing that just meant Maggie didn't want her to say that it was also the first time Maggie had said she thought she loved her. She reached across the butcher block and squeezed Maggie's left hand. "Well…now we have two reasons to remember June 18th don't we? It's the day we played 'I Never', and the anniversary of our first date."
"Well, we don't have to so much remember the first part of that." Maggie said, blushing as she remembered how badly that confession of her feelings had gone.
"Yes we do, because it did mean something to me….it meant a lot to me actually. It's just crazy to think how much has changed in a year." Bianca said as she withdrew her hand.
"Ain't that the truth…" Maggie said as she spooned up the last of her cereal. "Some of it good, some of it bad, but it seems to have ended well."
"Very true." Bianca looked over at Miranda who was now speaking her own little language at the two of them. Bianca sighed. "I wish she would start talking. I keep hearing things that sound like a word, but aren't quite there."
"Everyone develops at their own speed Bianca, she'll get there. I think she's about to start walking on her own. She keeps pulling herself up on things, and tries walking, but immediately falls over, but she's getting there." Maggie walked over and washed her bowl out in the sink.
"I had noticed the marks on her knees, and I've seen her do it a few times, but she's so tired by the time I get home, I don't get to see her do much." Bianca said as she picked Miranda out of her high chair. "And see, I'm afraid I'm going to miss everything while I'm at the office."
"I promise you, I will call you the moment anything happens."
"It won't be the same though…" Bianca said, her voice trailing off as she hugged Miranda's head to her cheek. "I want to see it."
"Well, what are your plans for today?"
"Oddly enough, nothing. I am caught up on all the reports I need to read for my meetings this week, so I have the day free."
Maggie flicked the water off her hands into the sink, and then dried them with a towel. "Well, why don't we go buy a camcorder? That way if anything happens while you are gone, I can record it for you. And while we're doing that, we can stop and get Miranda some pants so she won't scrape her knees up so much when she falls."
"Oh a shopping day…just twist my arm why don't you." Bianca said with a giant grin.
"Well…a shopping day for you…some of us have large a restaurant bill to pay off."
Bianca opened her mouth to say something, but Maggie cut her off with a glare. Bianca shrank back and smiled. "Ok…well…I'll go get Miranda and I ready, you want to see if Patrick's busy, or do you just want to take taxi's today?"
"Let's go with the taxi's if you don't mind." Maggie said, while visibly trying to shake off the cooties of remembering what they had seen from the Eiffel Tower the night before.
Bianca rolled her eyes. "Fine…I'll meet you in forty-five minutes."
June 19th – Evening
"Reggie….Reggie….REGGIE! I'll call you back…my hands are full, we just got out of the elevator…I will…promise…ok…ok…I'll call you later!" Bianca hung up her mobile phone. "What's that make….three times he's called today?"
"Four if you count him calling me when I was in the ladies room at the electronics store."
Bianca laughed as she pushed Miranda's stroller through the door, and Maggie held it open. "Gee, I wonder what he's so anxious to talk about."
"Oh, I'm sure I would have no idea there." Maggie said, rolling her eyes as she dropped her keys in the dish on the hallway table, and placed some shopping bags next to that. "Oh well, he's your brother now, you can fill him in. I, on the other hand, am going to go take a shower and start warming up one of our gajillion pre-made dinners, unless you need help with Miranda."
"Thanks, but I think I can handle her. She's pretty tuckered out, so she shouldn't be too much trouble tonight."
Maggie walked through the dinning room arch, removing the clips from her hair as she went. "Ok, see you in a bit then."
Bianca rolled Miranda's stroller forward to where she could watch Maggie walking to her room. Once her friend was out of sight, Bianca closed her eyes, sighed and thought "And now the fun begins…figuring out just what the two of us are to each other."
Bianca walked into the kitchen carrying a very drowsy Miranda in her arms. Maggie stood at the stove with two pots going on the burners. She turned as she heard the other residents of the apartment approaching. "Hey you two! Oh man she looks out of it."
"I know, but she has to get some dinner in her, and then I can put her to bed. I think shopping was just too much excitement for her."
Bianca put her in her high chair and walked over to prepare some food for her. "Probably. Oh, I called Reggie while I gave Miranda her bath."
"Really…" Maggie said as she stirred some red sauce. "And how did that go?"
"Well, as we suspected, he wanted to know everything about last night."
Maggie smiled, remembering a pep talk Reggie had given her once about how he felt that it would always be Maggie & Bianca in the end. She could picture his enormous, toothy grin, stretching across his face as he listened to Bianca tell the tale of the previous night. "Well, I am sure you told the story just fine." While inside, Maggie was dying to know what impressions her dark-haired friend had relayed to her new step-brother.
"Oh he asked about everything…and critiqued bits of it in that way only Reggie can." Bianca took a seat next to Miranda and tried to squeeze the spoon into the mouth of the half-asleep little girl.
"Critiqued? What in the world was there to critique? If he thinks he can do better, he can just come over here and take you out!"
"Don't worry, it was me he was commenting on." Bianca said laughing. She was trying to not share the information that it was the kiss to Maggie's forehead he was commenting on. He, of course, had wanted a full on good night kiss to have occurred. Bianca had informed him that everything had to come in it's own time, and just going out on a date was a big enough step for one night.
Maggie blushed, realizing what that meant, and continued stirring the sauce to keep it from sticking. "He have any gossip about Pine Valley to share?"
"Nothing much. Mom and Jack are back…Zach seems to be enjoying rubbing it in everyone's face that he married Kendall."
Maggie shook her head. "I still don't get that, business arrangement or not, it's still just darn odd."
"You're telling me. Oh..and Ryan is acting 'whacked' as Reggie put it, but he figures that has to do with the whole..." Bianca paused, realizing she had gone down a road of thought she perhaps shouldn't have.
"You can say his name Bianca. He has no power over me anymore." Maggie said softly, her back still turned to her friend.
"Well…everything that happened with his brothers."
"Understandable, that would bother anyone I think." Maggie tapped the spoon on the side of the pot. "This is just about done. How are things going with the Munchkin?"
"I'm giving up. I think I got two spoonfuls in her. I'll go ahead and take her upstairs." Bianca pulled Miranda out of the high chair to take her to her bed. "Hey…you in the mood for some wine tonight?"
"Sure. I'll get a bottle out while you put her to sleep." Maggie quickly walked over and placed a kiss on top of Miranda's head and reached up with her left hand to stroke her hair. "Good night Munchkin…sweet dreams."
Bianca smiled at her friend, and walked out of the room softly singing to her daughter as she went.
"Oh I see. Just because you can sing, you're allowed to do it without ridicule!"
Bianca's song broke briefly while she laughed at her friend.
Bianca returned from putting Miranda down to find the dinner placed on the dining room table, the wine poured and Maggie coming back from the kitchen with silverware. "Looks like I have good timing." She sat down in her usual chair, across from Maggie and looked at the dinner. "We have got to write a thank you note to Guilia."
"I was thinking the same thing, but can we leave out Mack Daddy?" Maggie asked with a crooked grin.
"Well, that's a step in the right direction, you can at least laugh about it now."
"Well, it's either laugh or cry, so I opted for the laughing."
"Probably a wise choice." Bianca lifted her glass of wine and held it out for Maggie to do the same. Maggie looked surprised, but followed suit.
"What are we toasting?" The shorter girl asked.
"I don't know, just doesn't feel right if we have wine and don't toast."
"Well then…to another lazy day in France!"
"Sounds good to me!"
The girls clinked their glasses, drank deeply and dug into their dinners.
"I thought I would sit down with the video camera after dinner and figure out how to use it. I figure I don't have much time before she does something new and exciting, so I had better be ready for it."
"Probably a good idea. And knowing how slow you are to pick things up…"
"Watch it Montgomery!" Maggie threatened as she picked up dinner knife for emphasis.
"Ooooh! Scary!" Bianca said while laughing.
As the laughter trailed off, silence fell across the table as it had during breakfast. Here they were again. Was this a dinner between two friends? Between two women who had just started a romantic relationship? Or was it something so totally new that neither of them could really put their finger on it?
There were sheepish grins, blushes and uncomfortable clearings of the throat throughout the rest of dinner. The bottle of wine quickly disappeared and the girls sped through the remainder of the meal. Bianca offered to clean up if Maggie wanted to go start playing with the camera. Honestly, she had to admit she was looking for a few minutes by herself to collect her thoughts.
Maggie sat down in the middle of the den's couch, clicked on the TV to the English language news channel, and placed the video camera on the coffee table. She could hear the sounds of Bianca clearing the dishes from dinner. "This has got to stop." she thought to herself. "We're the exact same people we were two days ago, nothing's changed except we went on a date. People go on dates all the time, so why should it change anything between us?"
She began unpacking the video camera from its Styrofoam coffin, cables spilling out on to her lap, and located an instruction book…all in French. "Oh nice…didn't think about that part idiot." she mumbled to herself.
As she fiddled with the parts, figuring out what went where, she silently pondered her predicament with Bianca more. "It can't be like this every day and night, we'll go nuts, but how do we find a happy medium between being just friends and…well…I guess being a couple. We aren't a couple yet though…are we? One date doesn't make two people a couple….man, here I go again! Why can't I just have a non-confusing moment with her? Just once…that's all I ask!"
Back in the kitchen, Bianca rinsed the dishes before placing them in the washer. "No, dinner wasn't awkward at all." she thought to herself sarcastically. "How can I look across that table every night now without thinking of her romantically? Last night was wonderful…it was everything I had ever wished for from our first date, but the oddity of our living arrangements is an even bigger factor than I thought it would be."
Bianca finished loading the dishwasher and added the detergent that was stored under the sink. She closed it up, turned on the cycle and leaned back against the counter, folding her arms in front of her as she stared off into space, continuing her thoughts. "I think it's clear we both want a second date, but the line between home life and date seems so blurry for some reason. If it's this bad now, what's it going to be like after a few more dates?"
She heaved a sigh and got a glass out of the cupboard and filled it from the faucet. She took a sip, squared her shoulders, and turned to start heading towards the den. "Back into the fray." she thought as she walked through the apartment.
When she got to the den, she was faced with a new problem in that Maggie had sat down in the middle of the couch to use the coffee table to work on while she played with the video camera. She paused briefly, thinking that sitting on the couch would bring them to close together and even more of the awkwardness that already hung in the air. She instead chose to take the seat in the opposite corner of the room so she could at least face her friend. She sat down and rested her glass of water in her lap, unsure of what else to do with it.
Maggie glanced up at her, smiled, and looked back down at the spaghetti of cables in her lap. "You know….I don't bite."
Bianca cocked her head to the side and looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"You can't see the TV from over there. You can sit next to me. I won't bite."
Bianca blushed. "I know that, I just felt like sitting over here and giving you room to work….and I wanted to admire Portia."
Maggie continued to look down. "As for admiring Portia…I prefer to forget she's up there since you said you would move her months ago. Bianca…in the entire time we have lived here, that is the first time you have ever sat in that chair…ever."
"I know, but I…just didn't want to crowd you."
"In the physical or emotional sense?"
Bianca swallowed hard enough to be heard. She paused before she dryly whispered, "Both." She raised her glass and took a sip of the water.
Maggie leaned back on the couch and stared at the ceiling for a moment. "Is this what it's going to be like from now on? We went on a date, good for us. We discussed going on a second date, again, good for us. If it means we are going to live in constant fear of each others boundaries, then, what's the point?"
Bianca stared at Maggie for a moment. "You've been giving this some thought haven't you?"
"All day…ever since breakfast."
"So fine…." Maggie now looked directly at Bianca, "what do we do about it?"
"We just need to establish some rules of what is and is not a date."
Maggie looked down at the jumbled pile of video camera cables. "I would say this qualifies as not a date."
Bianca finally cracked a smile. "Yeah, I would agree with you there, but what about like at dinner tonight? That was extremely awkward."
"No doubt, but, again, what do we do about it?"
"I think I have an idea, but I'm not sure what you are going to think about it."
"At this point, I'm willing to try anything, because one day of this was plenty for me."
Bianca stood up and turned to the shelves in the room. On one of the shelves at eye-level was a little wooden box. She opened it and took something out that Maggie could not see. She turned around to face Maggie, but whatever she had retrieved was hidden in her fist. "Promise you won't laugh."
"You know me….I can not make a guarantee like that." Maggie said with a wry smile.
Bianca's eyebrows went up and she looked pleadingly at her friend. "Promise! It's either promise, or…or we live like this forever."
"Ok, ok, I promise not to laugh."
Bianca walked over and sat down next to Maggie on the couch. Maggie rotated herself to the left, drawing her left leg up on to the couch with her so she could face Bianca. Bianca did the same by turning to her right. For just a moment, Bianca had a very vivid flashback to Maggie's confession of love on another couch a year and a day ago.
She lifted her hands brushed wisps of hair behind her ears, but kept her right hand clenched, holding onto whatever it was she had retrieved from the box. Lowering her hands to her lap, she tilted her head and stared down at her hands. They sat in silence for a few seconds while Bianca pondered how to start the conversation. "After…..after you asked me out I started to think about what would happen to us when the date was over."
"You and me both." said Maggie.
"And I knew it would be awkward, but I wasn't sure just how awkward. So, I got to thinking we needed to do something that drew a clear line between a date and when we are just sitting around being friends." She swallowed hard. "So, I did something about it, but then I thought maybe I shouldn't bring it up in case there wasn't a second date, but I think we made it pretty clear last night there will be."
Maggie grinned a tight-lipped smile. "Yeah, I think so too." she added reassuringly.
"So….with that in mind, maybe I had better bring this up, but…I still think you are going to laugh at me."
Maggie reached over and placed Bianca's clenched right fist between her palms. "Bianca, whatever it is, I promise not to laugh. You obviously put a lot of thought into this, and that means a lot, so I wouldn't laugh at something that I can tell you fretted over."
Bianca smiled. "Ok." she said softly. Maggie retracted her hands and Bianca turned her fist over so it was palm up and released her grip on what it was she was holding. Pooled in the cup of her hand were two silver necklaces, each with a pendant that resembled a rose on them.
"Wow…they're gorgeous." Maggie said.
"I had them made at a jewelry store over by the offices. I thought that whenever we were on a date, we could wear them and that would help us tell the difference better. Necklace on means we are on a date, necklace off means we are just Bianca and Maggie, best friends and roommates."
Maggie reached for one, and paused to look Bianca in the eyes. "May I?"
"Of course! They are exactly the same so take either one."
Maggie pulled one of them from Bianca's hand and held it in mid-air, draped over her index finger to examine it.
"So….what do you think?" Bianca asked, with obvious concern of ridicule in her voice.
"I think….I have a very bright friend who has excellent taste in jewelry." she said with a big, toothy grin. "I also think it is a fantastic idea, at least for these early stages while we try to figure everything out, and later on down the road, when we are more comfortable, we can see what happens without them."
Bianca let out a sigh of relief. "Ok, so wear them, only when it's a date…agreed?"
"Agreed." Maggie shifted the necklace to her left hand, and stuck out her right to shake on it. Bianca giggled and did the same, sealing the pact.
Maggie set the necklace on the table and turned to face the pile of electronics in front of her. "Now…how about my 'friend' helps me with these instructions so I can figure this thing out!"
Bianca smiled, rotated on the couch also and picked up the instruction book. "Your 'friend' would be more than happy to help you with that." she said, leaning to the right to bump shoulders with Maggie.
Both girls smiled and sat back to flip through the instruction book.