Note: I have another confession to make and these weekly Minxaholic meetings are a fitting place to be making it. I've been retrobinxing again and the more I watch the more I realise Binx is like thee sweetest woman…she's also pretty hot…umh okay Muse I'll give you that one…remember that bed scene with Lena….shush up now Muse we're Minxaholics we don't need to be thinking about other women…I wasn't I was just comparing it to the one with Minx man those TV bosses back then must have walked around like cowboys to accommodate the pokers they had stuck up their…wow hey shush enough of that! Where was I?…some confession I think…right thanks Muse, my confession is that as hot as a spit firing Binx might be I can see sweetness winning out every time. Would you agree? Maybe? Why not read over this and let me know.

Disclaimer: Given that I've borrowed a scene from the good ole days I feel the need to stick in the usual legal mumbo jumbo; All My Children and its wonderful Minx characters plus a few not so wonderful ones do not belong to me…wow Ela the fun we could have if they did…I know Muse, I know but they don't nor do we...I mean I gain anything but a sappy smile from using them.

Chapter 17

Bianca was pacing the floor of Wildwind's kitchen at 8.15pm the following evening, the girls were in bed and Marissa's dinner was warming in the cooker. The redhead had been distraught last night when she'd called from New York to say she'd reached her friend's safely. Bianca knew her lover had gone to the Chandler mansion, had their roles been reversed it was exactly what she would have done, she just wished that Marissa hadn't had to face that long drive afterwards. Alone and with nothing but her thoughts and tears as company Marissa had worked herself up into a state that had taken Bianca an hour to calm by phone.

The brunette glanced at the digital clock on the cooker; 8.19pm time was moving much too slowly. Bianca had spent a long night worrying about Marissa and AJ; sleep when it had finally come had been disrupted with the usual barrage of nightmares. All day long the brunette's mind was alternating between those nightmares and thoughts of revenge. JR Chandler's unscrupulous antics were of no real surprise to Bianca, she had known the man long enough to know he would go to extremes to get what he wanted. But using AJ, forcing his innocent child into such an unfair and emotionally harmful position, that to Bianca was going beyond unscrupulous. JR had been in that precarious position himself, as had Bianca, both had been innocents caught in the crossfire between warring parents and both had carried the scars from it. But it seemed JR's scars had not cut deep enough, his pain instead of acting as a prophylactic had instead anesthetised him to the effects of causing the same pain upon his own son.

Bianca could feel her anger begin to stir again and she knew that if she let it it would twist and turn inside her until it had built into an inferno of rage. The brunette feared that rage, feared what it would do not only to her but also to her shaken lover. Would Marissa want revenge? Would she be willing to go that extra mile and finally put JR Chandler where he so deservingly belonged? Bianca was finding it harder and harder to remain detached from her emotions; she loved Marissa, loved her with an intensity that could so easily blind Bianca from rationality. She wanted revenge on JR, she wanted him to pay for the hurt he had caused Marissa and AJ, Bianca wanted to become his living breathing nightmare and there was nothing rational in any of it.

The brunette looked again at the clock on the cooker 8.23pm, Marissa would be back soon and Bianca needed to calm down. She took a deep cleansing breath letting air fill her lungs for several seconds before slowly expelling it. As the air exhaled in whooshed the other dominant feeling that always followed Bianca's dark thoughts; guilt. Guilt that her threat to JR had pushed the megalomaniac into using his son as a pawn, guilt that her relationship with Marissa was bringing her lover pain, guilt that anger and revenge were becoming too familiar a feeling. Bianca fluctuated so much between anger and guilt that at times she felt like a pendulum about to swing out of control.

"Hi lady."

Marissa looked exhausted, pale and red around the eyes but she was smiling; a soft smile full of both relief and love. Bianca crossed the kitchen and wrapped the redhead in a hug, as she inhaled the unique smell of Marissa all thoughts of revenge fell away to be replaced by a silent thank you to the powers above for returning her lover in one piece. Marissa sighed feeling the tension drain from her body as Bianca's hands made soothing movements across her back.

"I love you."

The redhead smiled pulling away to kiss Bianca softly.

"Good to know."

The brunette grinned at the teasing note and opened her mouth to respond but Marissa moved in for another kiss, longer and more heated than the last.

"I love you too baby."

Bianca ushered the smaller woman to a stool and busied herself getting Marissa her dinner.

"How did your meeting go?"

"So so. I'm not sure they believe I've made enough of a mark to join their ranks but I'll keep hounding them until they do. It's something I believe in, something I feel passionate about so I'm not giving up."

Marissa had been to meet with one of the country's biggest LGBT firms, taking Bianca's case and researching European law had incensed her with a need to make a stand for the legal right of a community she felt part of. Pine Valley wasn't large so Marissa couldn't rely on such cases to pay her rent, family law in general would have to do that but the lawyer hoped she could become an advocate at least.

Bianca sat a plate in front of her lover and watched as the redhead's eyes lit up. It took so little to make the beautiful lawyer happy, something as regular as a home cooked meal could bring a 100 watt smile to that gorgeous face. The thought give Bianca pause, what effect would revenge have on her humble lover?

"This smells good. Have I told you I love you?"

The cheery words made the brunette laugh off her dark thoughts, she poured them both some juice.

"You might have mentioned it once or twice. How was your friend?"

Marissa tucked into the lasagne and baby potatoes with relish, her eyes promising to answer the question as soon as her taste buds had recovered from the delicious overload.

"Whoa this is divine. Have you eaten?"

Bianca didn't answer, she just smiled hoping her lover would breeze on by to the next topic of conversation. The brunette was having trouble eating, her need for food suffering under the weight of her turbulent mind. Marissa took another mouthful, her eyes practically rolling in her head.

"Emm sorry where was I? Oh yeah Una's good, busy with three little ones but good all the same. She'd like us all to get together sometime."

Bianca sat opposite content to watch her lover eat.

"I got talking to her husband about the situation with JR, he's a civil rights lawyer. He thinks I should take the hard line with JR."

The brunette sucked in her top lip, her eyes dropping to the plate of food that was slowly disappearing. Bianca needed to tell Marissa about her conversation with Tad, she needed to admit to her dark thoughts because holding them back was beginning to trouble her as much as the thoughts themselves did.

"You know even before I started kissing those lips I used to watch them fastidiously."

Brown eyes flew back to hazel.

"Pardon?"

Marissa laughed softly.

"Your lips baby, they're expressive in so many ways. Did you know you suck the top one in when you're thinking about something you want to say but aren't sure you should?"

Bianca smiled.

"To borrow a phrase, that's good to know."

Marissa snorted before swallowing another mouthful of food.

"So what do you want to tell me but think you shouldn't?"

This was Bianca's opportunity to come clean, guilt had her gladly taking it.

"I have something on JR, something that could stop him from being such an ass."

Marissa looked more amused than surprised by the admission.

"I very much doubt there is anything that could stop that. What have you got?"

Bianca got to her feet.

"Finish your dinner, I need to go get my laptop."

Marissa watched her lover disappear from the room. She finished eating taking the plate to the sink and rinsing if off before placing it in the dishwasher. When she turned back to the centre island Bianca was back opening the laptop.

"Bianca?"

The brunette beckoned her over.

"You know about the fall that put me in a coma?"

Marissa nodded as Bianca continued to explain.

"Months after I had woken up I started to get flashbacks, of the hotel room mostly so I went back there. I know that Mom and Kendall believed JR was responsible but I couldn't be sure and I wanted to know, to at least remember what had taken place that night. So I flew up to Florida and booked into the hotel, I was out in the forecourt below that balcony on my second afternoon and this guy came up to me. He was shocked to see me, he actually thought I was a ghost."

Bianca slipped a disc into the drive and Marissa listened to it whirr to life.

"He was a sales man, digital cameras and recorders and he always used that hotel when he was in the area. He'd been preparing for a presentation on the evening of my fall and had one of his cameras on a tripod looking out onto the rooms opposite."

"Bianca are you telling me some guy was recording your room?"

Marissa wasn't sure what to make of this conversation; the idea that some man had been watching her lover did not sit well with the lawyer. The screen changed to show a balcony, two figures were stood on it one clearly identifiable as a much younger JR Chandler. It was obvious the two were arguing, JR's arms gesticulating wildly as the second figure tried to pass by him.

"He said he wasn't deliberately recording the room, in fact he didn't realise the recorder was on until weeks later when he'd mixed up some memory cards and had to watch the footage to see what was on them. He came across this."

Marissa's eyes were glued to the screen, to the zoomed in close up of JR's angry face.; a face she would recognise anywhere. The second figure whose back remained to the camera tried again to go back inside but JR lashed out pushing at them, the momentum sent the figure stumbling towards the rail. Bianca's horrified expression came into view as she turned trying to catch the rail to stop the fall. Marissa could tell the brunette had been screaming as she went over, the look on Bianca's face would stay with her for a long time. As would the one on JR's as he stood in the window looking out, fear and guilt all over his young face.

"Oh God."

Bianca turned to her paling lover.

"I don't think he meant for that to happen, the rail should have held."

Marissa's eyes glistened.

"You could have died."

Bianca reached for her lover, folding her into her arms.

"But I didn't."

Marissa clung tightly to the brunette as if she needed to reassure herself that Bianca was still there, still alive and breathing.

"He tried to kill you."

Bianca pulled away cupping her lover's face.

"No Marissa he didn't, he tried to stop me taking a baby he loved as his own. He was protecting his daughter. You need to understand that I had taken Bess once before, I was so lost in my grief that I'd taken their daughter believing her to be Miranda….."

"But she was Miranda."

Bianca shook her head refusing to let Marissa dwell on the horror of what had occurred all those years ago.

"Yes but none of us, not even Babe knew that back then. JR had every right to want to stop me from doing that again."

Marissa eyes flashed, she'd talked to Krystal, gotten the whole horrible truth out of her concerning that painful time in Bianca's life.

"No I don't believe that. Mom said Babe had written you all letters, he knew the truth, he knew exactly what he was doing and he just lashed out anyway."

Bianca frowned realising that instead of feeling relieved that Marissa was getting as angry as her, the brunette just felt ashamed. Anger and revenge, rage and volatility none of these were characteristics that either women ever wanted. Surely justice could be sought without them?

"Marissa stop it, this is the past and we can't prove his intentions that day one way or the other. But we can prove he lied, he covered up a crime that he committed. Perverting the course of justice, isn't that what you call it?"

Marissa nodded.

"We can add assault to that too."

Bianca trailed her hands down her lover's body until she was grasping Marissa's hands in hers.

"I spoke with Tad several weeks ago and hinted that I had proof that could bring a world of trouble to JR's door. I wanted him to back off from using AJ to hurt you…"

"Bianca…."

Bianca squeezed her lover's hands.

"I know I should have told you but I'd hoped I wouldn't have to. I honestly thought he'd see sense and know that AJ needs you as much as you need him. I guess that didn't happen."

Marissa shook her head.

"No it didn't but it explains why JR's so keen on keeping AJ away from here and from Miranda. He's gearing towards forcing me to make a choice, you or AJ."

Bianca nodded; she'd known that was where JR was heading it was why she felt so angry with the man. The brunette had tried to reason with JR, albeit it in a more ruthless way than she was accustomed, and instead of trying to work things out the spineless cretin had went on the defensive using his son to strike the blows.

"But I won't chose because I've every right to have you both. We're not going to use this Bianca, putting JR away is only going to hurt AJ more and I don't want that. He's already lost one parent, he doesn't deserve to lose another."

They were like magic words to the brunette, taking away her guilt and anger all at the same time and reminding her that one of things she loved most about Marissa was her compassion.

"How hard was it for you to do that? To go to Tad with a threat?"

Bianca shuddered both at the memory of how despicable she had felt and how volatile her anger had been.

"I've never felt so sickened by my own actions."

Marissa kissed her gently.

"You have to be the nicest person I've ever met. All these years you've had this and you never used it, not even when Kendall nearly died at JR's hands."

"He didn't mean to hurt Kendall, he was in hell back then. And I'm not nice, I was prepared to use this. I was going to make him pay for hurting you, I told him I'd become his living breathing nightmare if he ever hurt you and I meant every word, I would have."

Marissa could see the truth of those words in the dimness that entered Bianca's eyes. JR's antics had hurt more than just herself and AJ, they had hurt the brunette too, made her delve into a side of herself that Marissa knew Bianca feared and hated.

"Baby if you weren't so nice you would have gone ahead and used this, you wouldn't have given yourself time to let second thoughts and guilt creep in."

"And if I hadn't threatened to use it then maybe AJ wouldn't be the one paying the price right now."

The redhead pulled Bianca to her.

"It wasn't your fault."

Bianca knew JR was completely to blame but it didn't stop the guilt assailing her.

"But I didn't help."

"Oh but you did. The fact that you were prepared to go this far shows me how much you care, it also proves you're a better person and a better parent by thinking of AJ first."

"He's a kid, an innocent lovable cute as a button kid of course I'm going to put him first. Who wouldn't?"

The answer to that was obvious. Marissa rolled her eyes playfully.

"You're sure you didn't accidentally fall from heaven?"

Bianca pulled the smaller woman to her, her hands travelling to pert hips and squeezing.

"Do you think that's something I learnt in heaven?"

Marissa's laugh was swallowed by a hungry kiss.

/

On Wednesday afternoon Marissa left work early to drive out to Pine Valley Elementary, AJ was surprised to find his Mom waiting for him. Marissa could tell from the guarded expression on her son's face that he didn't know quite how to react to her presence. She held out her arms hoping the gesture would reassure him, the smile it earned her was enough to make tears gather. AJ ran across the yard throwing himself into waiting arms.

"Hi buddy."

"Hi Mom. I thought you were in New York."

Marissa got on honkers to make eye contact.

"I got back late last night, I have something for you."

Little eyes brightened.

"Yeah?"

The redhead nodded.

"It's in the car, you want to catch a ride home with me or go on the bus? We can meet at the mansion."

AJ looked towards the bus where his friends were getting on and then he looked at his mother.

"With you, I can get the bus every other day. Right?"

Marissa laughed.

"Right. Come on then."

The drive to the mansion gave them a chance to catch up with what was going on with AJ at school. He didn't mention Miranda not that Marissa had expected him to; Bianca had told her both kids were ignoring each other. They would have to give them time to mend their broken friendship.

"Can I have my present now please?"

Marissa brought the car to a stop in the forecourt and switched off the ignition. Little eyes widened.

"Are you coming in too?"

The redhead nodded reaching into her bag for a box and handing it to AJ. He unwrapped it quickly, his eyes dimming a little when he seen the silver alarm clock. Marissa grinned.

"Press the left button."

AJ pressed one of several buttons on top of the clock, a neon display of the time settled on the dashboard.

"Cool."

"Now press the second one."

He hit that too and Marissa's voice filled the car.

"Hi buddy it's time to rise and shine. Wakey wakey. I love you AJ. I love you AJ. I love you AJ. I love you AJ. I love you AJ. I love you AJ. I love you AJ."

AJ began to giggle as Marissa's voice continued to repeat the same four words again and again and again.

"Mom!"

Marissa laughed.

"If you want it to stop you've got to turn off your alarm. Hit the same button again."

AJ hit the button and silence returned to the car. Little eyes were smarting with tears as he thanked his mother for the gift.

"See this way you get to hear my voice first thing every morning and I get to tell you I love you at the same time. Cool or what?"

AJ giggled again.

"Yeah Mom it's cool. Thanks."

Marissa climbed out of the car waiting for AJ to follow; the guarded look was back on his face as he shoved his rucksack onto his back and clutched the present in one hand. Marissa draped an arm around his thin shoulder and guided him towards the house.

"You know AJ I like it better when you smile. See when you smile I smile too."

AJ looked up at her with a cute grin.

"You copied me."

Marissa laughed.

"Yeah well you've got brains."

"Like my Mom."

The redhead nodded.

"And your Dad too, he's a pretty smart man you know."

AJ stood on the doorstep looking up at his mother.

"Debbie Macky's Mom and Dad got divorced and she says they are always calling each other names and being bad to each other, how come you're not bad to Dad?"

Marissa smiled.

"Because he's your Dad AJ and he's important to you and you are important to me."

Mia met them in the foyer.

"Mr Chandler's on the phone but he said he'd be right down."

"Thanks Mia, I'll wait with AJ in the parlour."

AJ dropped his rucksack at the door and walked on in to sit on the couch. Marissa took a seat next to him.

"Dad doesn't like that you love Bianca."

Marissa took a breath.

"I know."

AJ frowned.

"I don't get why it's a big deal Mom if he can be with Amanda then why can't you be with Bianca?"

Hazel eyes widened.

"AJ I don't think it's the same. Your Dad works with Amanda, Bianca and I love each other."

AJ's face scrunched up in confusion.

"But I heard Dad say that him and Amanda sleeping together was no big thing and you sleep with Bianca so isn't that the same thing?"

Marissa could hear the sharp intake of breath and knew JR had entered in time to hear the last of his son's conversation. AJ glanced up at his Dad.

"Hi Dad do you want to see the cool present Mom got me in New York?"

JR's face was crimson red and taunt with tension but he managed to give his son a smile.

"Can we do that later AJ your Mom and I need to talk first?"

AJ's shrugged his shoulders.

"Sure. I'll go show Asher. Bye Mom."

Marissa accepted the hug her little boy gave.

"Bye sweetie."

Both parents watched as he ran from the room. Marissa didn't say a word as her ex-husband came on in to stand by the fireplace.

"About what AJ said….."

Marissa held up her hand.

"Who you sleep with is none of my business JR, we're not together. I'm here to talk about AJ."

JR's eyes narrowed.

"So you won't use this against me?"

Marissa sighed.

"Despite what may have come and gone between us I have no intention of playing dirty, I know Bianca went to see Tad, I know you didn't take that very well. She didn't take doing it very well either. JR I want our son to grow up with two parents who love him and who regardless of their feelings for each other will always put him first. That's why I'm here, not to talk about Amanda or Bianca or anyone else. Just AJ."

JR nodded.

"Ok I can do that."

"Good so can we agree to no more bullying? He's so conflicted he's lashing out again, it's not healthy JR."

JR nodded again.

"No more bullying."

Marissa got to her feet.

"I think maybe we need to consider getting him some help to deal with his reaction to things…."

"What? No way my son does not need help."

"Our son JR, our son. Did you talk to him about hitting Miranda?"

JR shook his head.

"He said he got so hot inside that it just burst and he lashed out. That's not a healthy reaction to dealing with his emotions. Violence has never been something I understood, I've never felt like he has, I don't want to hit someone when they upset or insult me. So I don't know how to help him deal with that. I can tell him it's wrong but that's not helping him JR."

JR sighed.

"Maybe I can help, I understand how that feels."

"But can you help him stop feeling like that? You and Scott still have a history of throwing punches."

"Yeah well that was a waste of time wasn't it?"

Marissa bit back a terse remark at the obvious innuendo in his words.

"JR if you can't help him then we need to consider getting him to talk to someone who can."

"I don't want my son seeing a shrink."

"It doesn't have to be a shrink, there are counsellors in school who can help. Look this is probably pretty normal for a seven year old so it's not like they're going to label him."

"I guess Saint Bianca's kids don't do this."

Marissa had to fight not to roll her eyes at his immaturity.

"JR."

The blonde man tensed his jaw muscles.

"I heard what he said to you the other night."

Marissa's eyebrows furrowed in confusion.

"He's worried you'll be their Mom too isn't he?"

"No he isn't worried about it, he just thought it meant I'd love him less."

"Where does it leave him?"

Marissa frowned.

"It doesn't leave him anywhere. JR I love him. Just because we aren't together and that I'm in love with someone else that doesn't change anything between AJ and I. He's always going to be my son."

JR's eyes bore into her.

"But he isn't though Marissa is he? You adopted him and that makes things different. He's my flesh and blood."

Marissa shook her head.

"He's mine too remember, Babe was my twin. JR just because I didn't give birth to him doesn't mean that what I feel for him is any different than how Babe felt. I'd die for the kid, you know I would."

JR's eyes glistened.

"I wanted us to be a family, I thought you wanted that too."

"There are all kinds of family JR."

The man closed his eyes his face a mask of pain.

"But Bianca, of all people why Bianca?"

Marissa smiled, the brunette's name had that effect on her.

"Because she is who she is. I know this is hard for you JR, it killed me when you were with Annie so I know how you're feeling right now. But think about who I'm with, think about the kind of person she is and what she wouldn't do for someone she loves. Because she loves AJ, she always has right back before Babe give birth to him Bianca loved that little boy. Because he was Babe's and yours, her friends."

JR's eyes opened and he looked across at his ex.

"I can't be that man Marissa, I want to be but I can't."

Marissa nodded.

"I know but maybe some day when it doesn't hurt so much you can see how much AJ has to gain from this and that will be enough."

JR blew out a breath not hopeful that that day would come anytime soon.

"I'll have a talk to him about the hurting people. If it doesn't help then we'll discuss counselling."

Marissa smiled.

"Thank you."

The redhead made towards the door only to stop when JR called her name, she turned to meet his eye.

"We should probably agree on some regular visiting."

Marissa smiled.