Note: So here we are my lovely readers the final chapter…rub it in Ela why don't you!…folks as you can see Muse isn't taking this very well…you suck Ela…now now Muse no need to get personal…yeah well you do and not in a good way…umh is there ever a good way….course there is when you go dow…..OK let's not go there Muse…then continue this story….we've had this conversation, several times in fact….but you didn't listen. What about Chloe? What about Mimo's knowledge of where she came from? What about marriage? What about someone for Maggie?…what about taking a breath Muse?…don't need it I'm a finger of your imagination…you mean figment…whatever! We're not talking about figs we're talking about continuing Impact please Ela pretty please, pretty pretty pretty with those cherries you like on top please…Muse knock it off I've made the decision and I'm sticking to it….you suck like a bloody plunger…lovely just lovely. Folks I'm leaving you with this before Muse goes completely OTT, this be chapter 35 enjoy!
It's Not A Goodbye It's A See Ya
The Pine Valley Inn's restaurant wasn't a place the Montgomerys frequented all that often. In the past too many family dinners there had ended in disaster so management had taken the decision to ban Erica Kane and her entourage from ever dining in the Pine Valley Inn again. Bianca had been the only Kane family member not included in that blanket ban, the hotel manager deemed the youngest Kane daughter a peacemaker and considered her a delight in comparison to her exasperating mother. But the Kane exclusion meant that there were very few occasions for the brunette to frequent the restaurant so this evenings dinner was as much a treat for Bianca as it was for the rest of the Montgomery Chandler Tasker clan.
They dinning room had round tables; Bianca sat between her youngest and oldest daughters, Marissa was at the other side of Lydia and next to Gabrielle, then AJ, Maggie and back round to Miranda. The seating arrangements were ideal for the family, leaving each to chat with their neighbour and with each other. Bianca watched the scene with a deep smile upon her face, Maggie's departure not troubling her in the slightest. The brunette was content in the knowledge that no matter how many years or how great the distance that might have come between Maggie and her, the doctor was still that same girl who had been Bianca's best friend all those years ago.
Maggie paused in her conversation with AJ and Miranda to glance across at Bianca almost as if she had sensed the brunette's gaze.
"You okay B?"
It was a question asked so many times throughout their early friendship when what held them together was platonic love not the intensity of a romance that might always have been doomed to fail. Too often they had swayed between boundaries neither was sure off; Maggie's journey constantly fraught with indecision, her resistance holding out until they were alone together in France. Bianca smiled remembering those crazy days of "will she, won't she?" They had been a heady mixture of torture and delight, a mixture that had almost prevented Bianca from risking another friendship by taking a chance with Marissa. And now here she was with both women, one her partner in everything she ever wanted from life, the other a friend she hoped always to have. Bianca smiled deeply.
"Yeah I'm okay, are you?"
Maggie glanced around the chattering family then back at her old friend. The doctor had never thought this possible, that she could sit and have a meal with Bianca Montgomery and her family. For years Maggie had resigned herself to believing that Miranda would be the only Montgomery she would ever have a relationship with. She had never considered it a consolation prize, Maggie adored Miranda, loved her like a daughter and always would. But she had missed Bianca, missed the friend she had always been able to talk to, the voice of reason that had always made her challenge herself. Maggie had first come to Pine Valley all those years ago to find answers to the mystery surrounding the death of her twin sister Frankie. When that mystery had been solved and justice somewhat served Maggie had come to realise that in saying goodbye to the only family she had ever truly loved she had in turn found a new family in Bianca Montgomery. Maggie couldn't stop the tears that began to sting her eyes. History seemed to be repeating itself, another death had brought her to Pine Valley to yet again realise that she had family and that it now sat all around her.
"Maggie why you cwying?"
Lydia Montgomery had been resting her head upon the table waiting impatiently for her dessert to come. The opportunity had afforded her a great view of her second favourite doctor. The question silenced the various conversations that had been going on around the table bringing all eyes to Maggie whose pale face began to turn red with embarrassment.
"These are happy tears Lydia, do you know what happy tears are?"
The youngest Montgomery considered the words for several seconds before giving a happy nod.
"Day'aw when Mama gives Mom a big cawd for that funny man's day and she gets what AJ calls all stawwy stawwy eyed. Cept that ders no staws in hewa eyes just wataw."
Maggie's face was a picture as she tried to decipher the words. AJ and Miranda began to laugh, Gabrielle too was grinning at her little sister and of course Marissa and Bianca were lost in gazing at each other.
"What funny man?"
The doctor's question had the whole family laughing except poor Lydia who was looking around her for that dessert she had been promised.
"St Valentine, Lydia's talking about the card Ma always makes for Mom on St Valentine's Day. Lydia never remembers his name…Ma is St Valentine a man? Saints can be women too right?"
Marissa could see the confusion begin to clear in Maggie's eyes and amusement settle there as the doctor looked across at Gabrielle. No family meal was ever complete without a question from the inquisitive girl. The lawyer turned her attention to her second youngest who was waiting patiently for an answer.
"Yes to both questions honey. St Valentine was a man and there are both male and female saints."
Before Gabrielle could respond with another question Lydia diverted their attention by beginning to clap.
The arrival of more dishes should have put an end to conversation as the kids all dug into their ice cream sundaes but Gabrielle had found something else to ask about.
"Ma why do they call them sundaes when we're having them on a Monday?"
Maggie began to laugh until the happy tears in her eyes rushed down her cheeks, it was enough to get Bianca and Marissa laughing too. Lydia decided she liked happy tears and Gabrielle decided she was never going to get an answer to her question. Miranda and AJ looked at each other; yeah this family dinner had been a brilliant idea.
Lydia was struggling to remain awake as the family gathered in the Pine Valley Inn voyeur to bid farewell to Maggie. The doctor kissed the youngest Montgomery on both cheeks and give her a gentle hug before handing Lydia over to Marissa.
"I think someone is up way past their bedtime."
Lydia snuggled into Marissa's neck closing her eyes to the conversations going on around her. Marissa nodded at Maggie.
"But it was worth it."
"It sure was. Thanks for this guys it was a real treat."
"I always have the best ideas."
AJ mocked his mother by buffing his nails across his shirt. He stepped forward giving Maggie a quick kiss and hug.
"It was really great spending time with you Maggie, maybe I'll see you in France this summer. You never know."
Gabrielle moved closer to her brother and the doctor.
"Are you coming to Paris with Mimo and me? Can we go see Maggie together?"
AJ smiled down at his sister.
"We'd have to talk Mom and Ma into coming with us."
Gabrielle turned a very endearing smile to her bemused parents, she was good at talking them into things; well at least she thought she was good at it, her parents would probably disagree. Said parents were giving AJ some pointed looks that had both Miranda and Maggie smiling knowingly; the family were going to Paris in the summer, they just needed to iron out the finer details of the plan.
Maggie bent to make eye contact with Gabrielle Montgomery.
"So I'll see you in the summer Gabby?"
Gabrielle nodded before reaching out to put her arms around Maggie's neck.
"I like having you as more of my family but I don't like goodbyes."
Maggie hugged the little girl to her.
"I like having you as more of my family too and this isn't goodbye because I don't like them either. Let's call this a "see ya" instead of a goodbye.""
Gabrielle pulled away to smile at the doctor.
"Ok see ya."
Bianca was smiling proudly as her second youngest daughter stepped across to take her hand.
"I'm tired Mom."
"I know you are sweetheart we'll just be another few minutes."
AJ reached for Lydia taking her from his mother's arms.
"I'll take the girls to the car."
Gabrielle followed her brother and sister out waving back at Maggie as she went. Marissa could see the tears gather in Maggie's eyes again.
"Hey enough of that you'll start these two and I can never hold out for long when they start."
Bianca and Miranda stood there already trying to hold back tears, the smile Marissa's words caused was enough to topple Miranda's. Maggie wrapped the crying teen in a hug.
"It's not goodbye Mimo, I promised and you know I never break my promises. I'm going to be waiting for you when you fly to Paris."
Miranda sobbed into Maggie's shoulder.
"I know…I just…I hate goodbyes."
The doctor cast a glance at the two parents; Marissa shrugged in that way that she did.
"I guess it's a family thing, we all hate goodbyes."
"Yeah we do."
The two cousins finally hugged as Miranda reached for a tissue to dry her tears. Marissa's arms tightened around Maggie, her breath warming the doctor's earlobe as she whispered to her.
"Please don't let your grief destroy this, we want you in our lives Maggie not just as a memory."
Maggie give the lawyer a kiss on the cheek and pulled away to look Marissa in the eye.
Bianca watched and worried what was behind the intensity of the look her lover and old friend shared but then Marissa smiled and the worry eased. Maggie turned to her.
"Paris is always so warm in August."
Bianca chuckled moving over to hug the petite woman.
"Funny girl. Look after yourself Maggie and call me, often and at any time of the day or night."
Maggie chuckled too.
"Do you think that's wise given the time difference?"
"I don't care about time differences I care about you."
The doctor's eyes were smarting with tears as she pulled away.
"Thank you, God B thank you so much for not turning me away."
Bianca wiped a falling tear from her friend's cheek.
"I could never turn you away Maggie, you're family."
Maggie looked at the three women standing with her in the voyeur. Bianca, Marissa and Miranda each offered lopsided smiles their eyes all bright with tears.
"You are all amazing women, amazing people and I'm so glad I got this chance with each of you. I won't forget it. And I will stay in touch so in touch you'll each want to thump me."
Miranda was crying again huddled between Bianca and Marissa who each had an arm wrapped around her. Maggie leaned in giving her surrogate daughter a kiss on the cheek.
"I love you Mimo now get out of here before you start me crying again."
Marissa turned them towards the door conscious of the sob she could hear from her partner.
"See ya's in the summer."
Maggie stood for a long time staring after the trio. The scene would be forever imprinted in her mind just like the visit to Pine Valley would. The doctor had come to say a final goodbye and had instead said hello to something she had thought she would never have again - a family.
Bianca found her oldest daughter curled up in a ball upon her bed heavy sobs shaking through her rigid form; a few quick steps and Bianca was pulling the crying teen to her.
"Ah Mimo sweetheart don't cry, you'll see her soon."
Miranda tried to respond but it came out as another gurgled sob rather than anything coherent. A soothing hand began a gentle stroke upon the teenager's head.
"Maggie adores you Mimo, she'd hate to see you this upset."
The teenager moved her head in a motion that might have been a nod.
"What can I do to make this better baby?"
Miranda turned bloodshot eyes to her mother, tears still streaming down her pale face. In the dim light from the bedside lamp she could see the glisten of tears in Bianca's eyes.
Bianca smiled tenderly at the huddled form in her lap; it was so like her oldest to forget that she herself was crying if someone else was doing it too.
"Right back at ya."
The choked sound that Miranda emitted was a cross between a sob and a laugh, Bianca wiped tears from her daughter's cheek.
"Summer will be here before you know it and then you'll be seeing Maggie again."
Miranda nodded but tears continued to fall, Bianca wiped them away again only for more to trail in their wake.
Bianca grabbed a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at the cascading flow.
"Then don't, sometimes our body knows more than our mind. So if you can't stop then don't try to, let them out and I'll happily sit here and wipe them all away."
A wobbly smile formed on Miranda's lips.
"You…might…be here…a while."
Bianca dropped a kiss upon her daughter's brow.
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be."
Miranda looked up into eyes that everyone said were exactly like hers but they weren't; her mother's eyes were deeper and there was an abundance of love in them that always made Miranda feel like there was nothing her mother wouldn't do for her. And she knew it was true, she knew her mother would stay with her until she felt better, that there was nothing this amazing woman wouldn't do for the people she loved. Miranda thought of her origins, thought of the man who had hurt her mother and knew without ever having been told that Bianca had killed him to protect her unborn child; to protect Miranda.
"I don't…need to know."
Bianca frowned in confusion.
"You don't need to know what sweetheart?"
Miranda found that her tears were beginning to ease and that she could speak without a sob interrupting her.
"I don't need to know anything about the man who hurt you. I might have his DNA but I'm all yours Mom, you made me and protected me and loved me."
Bianca's eyes were bright with tears.
"And I always will, always."
Miranda sat up and give her mother a full smile for the first time all evening.
"I love you Mom."
Maggie had treated herself to a business class ticket figuring she might as well stretch out and sleep as they crossed the Atlantic. She moved through the cabin in search of her seat thinking that a few hours sleep would help her brace a new day in a different continent, it would also stop her dwelling on the new family she was leaving behind in Pine Valley. Having found her allocated seat Maggie was putting her hand luggage in the compartment above when she heard the exclamation.
The doctor turned to see a woman come toppling towards her a look of shock and humiliation plastered to an otherwise pretty face. Maggie braced herself for the oncoming impact, her hands going out in the hope that she might prevent the poor woman from falling to the floor of the plane.
"Hey wow I got you I got you."
Maggie managed to catch the woman in time, hands sliding up to slender shoulders to steady the stranger. With the fall prevented, the woman gathered herself enough to stand steady. Colour rushed across her sallow skin as she offered a tentative smile of gratitude.
"Thank you so much. I'm not sure how I tripped but you just saved me from a nasty fall."
Maggie smiled back at the statuesque brunette.
"You're welcome. Glad I could help. I'm sure the airline will be here any moment to thank me too for saving them from a law suit."
The brunette's dark eyes narrowed momentarily.
"Do we know each other?"
Maggie was good with remembering faces, names didn't always stay with her but faces did and the woman in front of her had a face not easily forgotten. It was serene, with a slender nose, cherubic cheek bones, smoky dark brown eyes and a mouth that Maggie imagined smiled more than it frowned. Ebony hair fell in loose ringlets to either side and had the doctor not caught the woman mid fall she could easily imagine the stranger having walked straight out of a hair salon.
"No I'm pretty sure we don't."
The stranger gazed at Maggie in consternation sure that there was something about the petite woman and certainly her words but she brushed it off with a smile.
"The law suit quip I guess it made me wonder."
An impatient voice interrupted and the women stepped to the side to allow a harried man in a suit to pass them. Maggie watched as the other woman dropped a briefcase into the seat adjacent to hers before hefting a larger bag into the overhead compartment. The doctor settled herself into her own seat debating whether to question the woman's last words.
"Ok I'll bite what did I make you wonder? Whether we've yet to move beyond the sue culture we live in?"
The stranger who was now sitting on the other end of the aisle turned to Maggie with a smile.
"No I imagine it will be a long time before we reach that kind of utopia and I'm sure there are a lot in my profession who hope we never do. I'm a lawyer, your words had me thinking that maybe you already knew that."
"No I didn't. So are you one of those lawyers that hope we continue to sue each other?"
The other woman let out a soft sensuous laugh.
"No definitely not. I work in family law."
Maggie instantly thought of Marissa and the smile she had been wearing began to slide as she remembered the redhead's earlier tears.
"Let me clarify a common misconception, family law is not always synonymous with divorce. You're giving me the kind of look that thoughts of divorce generally garner."
The doctor shook her head.
"I was thinking of my cousin she's a lawyer too."
The stranger's face softened.
"And thinking of her made you sad?"
"Yes. I've just said goodbye to her and her family and we're not very good with goodbyes."
"No I guess not."
The lawyer smiled thinking she might like to spend her flight trying to cheer her rescuer up, it was the least she could do.
"I'm Sienna by the way."
AJ knocked on Miranda's bedroom door having waited until he'd heard his parents go back downstairs. There was no response to his knock so he tried again.
There was a soft sniffle and then a clearing of the throat.
"Come in AJ."
The teen pushed open the door a little apprehensive of what he might find. Miranda had cried the whole way home in the car, nothing their parents said seemed to comfort her.
Miranda give him an unconvincing nod and then shook her head when he continued to gaze at her.
"Is there anything I can do?"
The brunette sighed.
"No not this time but thanks."
AJ didn't retreat instead he sauntered on over to the bed and dropped down onto the edge of it. Miranda sniffled into a very damp tissue.
"I wanted to ask you something."
The blonde teen had come prepared with a wad of tissues which he offered to his sister, the gesture earned him a smile.
"No probs so I was sorta thinking about what happened in the canteen earlier."
Brown eyes began to focus a little more.
AJ nodded, he'd been trying to think of something that would distract his sister from thinking about Maggie, soccer was their usual topic but it was out of the question since it would risk a reminder of the other emotional minefield in Miranda's life so the best he could come up with was Chloe Maguire.
"Yeah when I came over to talk to you it was hard not to notice the glare Chloe was giving me. It's not the first time either, she was the same last week too. What's going on? Did I do something to piss her off?"
Miranda tried to remember what had happened last week but that seemed like a lifetime ago now so instead she focused on earlier today. She remembered Chloe's words in the canteen and the way it had felt to have the blonde's breath flutter across her skin.
"Wow Mimo what's that about?"
AJ watched in amusement as his sister began to blush and then the penny dropped.
"You and Chloe?"
Miranda felt the blush travel further down her face and neck but she didn't look away as AJ began to grin like a Cheshire cat.
"Wow! Okay well we definitely don't have the same taste in women because that girl scares me."
Miranda snorted. AJ was being melodramatic, Chloe Maguire was one of the gentlest people she knew. The brunette was sure her shy intelligent friend liked AJ, sometimes she feared Chloe might like her brother a little too much. But then that wouldn't explain the glares AJ was talking about, Miranda tried to think why Chloe would have glared at her brother like that because it was just so unlike the blonde. And then the memory of that warm breath on her skin hit her again and Miranda thought maybe, just maybe Chloe had been miffed with AJ for interrupting a moment that had thrilled the beautiful blonde as much as it had Miranda. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. AJ cleared his throat reminding Miranda they were in the middle of a conversation.
"Chloe thinks you're sweet AJ, she doesn't have a problem with you. And anyway she wouldn't harm a fly."
AJ didn't agree, he knew Chloe's older brothers and they were big into martial arts chances were Chloe was too. He wasn't going to be crossing the blonde anytime soon. But that was getting off point and he was sort of enjoying the way Miranda's eyes lit up at the mention of the other girl's name.
"So are you two together or what?"
AJ was obviously missing something because Miranda's eyes told him she liked Chloe.
"But you like her?"
"And she likes you?"
The brunette's reaction was more a roll of the head in all directions rather than a nod. AJ was stomped.
"Is that a yes or a no?"
"It's a I don't know, I think so but I really don't know."
AJ knew that feeling a little too well, girls could be so hard to read, their signals sometimes so mixed that they left him rolling his head too.
"Okay well now we've got us a mission."
Miranda's eyes widened in alarm; she knew all about AJ's missions and they rarely ended well, his skipping out to Llanview High was a prime example.
"No we don't."
AJ got to his feet.
"Oh yeah we do. Go to sleep Mimo for tomorrow we embark on Operation Chloe."
"AJ we're not…
"Night night sis."
Miranda tried calling out again but her brother sauntered out of the room ignoring her. The brunette buried her head in her pillow in resignation; knowing Miranda's luck AJ was going to do something stupid like play matchmaker.
Bianca crawled into bed feeling completely exhausted; her first day back at work combined with the emotional turmoil of Maggie's departure had taken their toll. Tears sprang forth again at the thought of the doctor. Marissa heard the hitch in her partner's breath and rolled over to pull Bianca into her arms.
"Baby she's going to be fine. We all are."
Bianca nuzzled her lover's neck inhaling the comforting scent that was so distinctly Marissa, a scent that would always mean home.
Marissa kissed her partner's forehead.
"Good now how about you close those eyes and stop thinking about how good I smell?"
"I wasn't thinking about that."
Marissa smiled knowingly.
Bianca began to giggle, the sound warming the redhead in a way no heat ever could.
"I was thinking you smelt like home."
"And that doesn't smell good?"
Marissa's teasing tone had Bianca smiling.
"Good is so mediocre and definitely not the adjective I'd use."
Marissa tried not to laugh at the haughty tone in Bianca's voice but she couldn't help it. Bianca huddled closer allowing the vibration of that laugh to seep into her.
"I love you."
The redhead grinned.
"I love you right back."
"Promise me Paris won't break us."
Marissa pulled away so that she could look into tired eyes.
"I promise you nothing will break us especially not Paris. You're my whole wowld and no city is ever going to change that."
"And you're my everything, my absolute everything and I'll go to the ends of the earth if that is what you want."
Marissa gazed into liquid brown eyes and wondered again about marriage; if she told Bianca that getting married was something she wanted would the brunette want it too? Marissa knew she needed to revisit that conversation and she would, but not right now, right now she needed to convince her superstitious lover that nothing would break them.
"All I want is to make you happy Bianca, I don't care where we are as long as you're happy that's all that matters to me."
Bianca kissed her lover.
"Well I guess that's sorted because you are what makes me happy."
"So if I go to Paris you will obviously have to come with me to remain happy."
Bianca giggled again and returned her head to Marissa's shoulder inhaling that wonderful scent.
"Stop thinking about how good home smells and go to sleep."
"I was thinking about how good you smell."
Marissa shivered as lips began to tease her neck.
"Baby you need sleep…"
Bianca disagreed, her lips trailed up to Marissa's.
"No I need you."
Marissa's response was to return the heady kiss with an intensity that told Bianca sleep was the last thing either of them was going to get anytime soon. And that was fine by Bianca, that was more than fine because nowhere and nothing could ever compare to being loved by Marissa Tasker.
A/N: I couldn't help but slip a final "impact" in there with that airplane scene. Ok folks that's it for a bit - yep I just made a rhyme - go me! A follow-up to this story is underway so bear with me it might take a week or three to get it ready for posting. Thanks to all you wonderful reviewers out there, it has been my pleasure both to write for you and to read you.