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A year had passed since Bianca was last in Pine Valley. Family crisis and the odd encouragement from Reese to try and reconnect with her family is why she decided to return. After three months in town she found herself forcibly attending a getaway with Kendall. They were supposed to go with Erica, she had planned the trip, renting a cabin out in the mountains that was part of a larger therapeutic resort where massages and steam rooms were the norm.

At the last minute in an event that seemed suspiciously planned, Erica couldn't make it, she had business to take care of with Adam and they found themselves alone on the Cambias jet flying off to Colorado. The flight was silent and stifling, there was an awkward air that perpetuated all of their time together lately, something that happened ever since Kendall woke up from her coma and discovered the secrets Zach and Bianca had been keeping from her.

Bitter and betrayed, that's how Kendall felt. She continued to feel this way even after Bianca briefly returned with Gabrielle, allowing her daughter's bone marrow to be donated to save Ian. After this happened Kendall was able to let go of her irrational resentment towards Gabrielle, finally acknowledging the child was an innocent in all this but she couldn't rid herself of the bitterness she felt when it came to Bianca and it made her sick, feeling this love that had kept her going through the years, that made her strong, turning out this way and she was relieved when Bianca left with Reese for France. Just because when Bianca wasn't around she could pretend she didn't feel this way, she could push the feelings down.

Then Erica had a heart attack and Bianca came back with Reese and the girls. Together they helped their mother through her recovery and the longer Bianca stayed the more obvious it was that Erica didn't want her to leave and Kendall understood it. Try as she might, Kendall couldn't get over the betrayal she felt and it created this subtle tension whenever they were together. One that caused a sadness to remain in Bianca's dark eyes whenever she was with Kendall, something that hurt Kendall so very much but still, she couldn't let go and she knew that was why Erica planned this trip, tricking them so they would be alone. She wanted her to finally move on, for their relationship to return to how it once was but Kendall didn't know if she could do that.

More than anything, she wanted to move on, Kendall wanted it so very badly because she loved Bianca, she never stopped loving Bianca, and try as she might to pretend that Bianca no longer held that important place in her heart, right after her boys and before the men she was with, she did hold it and nothing would change that. Not even her own denials.

That didn't stop things from being awkward and uncomfortable as they exited the Cambias jet and headed towards their cabin which was strangely small for Erica Kane's usual tastes. Kendall supposed that the small size was part of her plan to force them to spend time together. Although this plan would have worked better if they both didn't have very comfortable private rooms to disappear into. Which is precisely what they did for the first six hours and then Kendall heard a hesitant knock to the door and looking up from her quarterly returns from Fusion that were spread out on the bed in front of her, Kendall called come in and she wondered, she hoped, if now it would finally begin. The forgiveness, the healing, the return to how it once was between them because she wanted that to happen. She wanted it so very much but she didn't know where to start.

"Hey," Bianca said shyly, a hint of a smile on her features. Kendall returned the greeting and Bianca raised an eyebrow at the huge pile of paperwork in front of her on the bed. "I thought this was supposed to be a vacation?"

"I brought this to help me sleep," replied Kendall, lifting up a thick stack of the papers.

There was a lightness, a humor to her voice, that Bianca hadn't experienced in a very long time and it encouraged her to walk over to the bed and sit next to Kendall. The flight had been so quiet, so awkward, and Bianca was afraid this mood would continue throughout all their time together and she couldn't bear the idea of that. She wanted to spend this trip fixing what she had broken with her selfishness, she wanted Kendall to love her again, because these days it didn't seem like she did. Taking the papers, Bianca studied the multitude of graphs and figures, immediately grasping why this would be nap inducing material. "Makes sense to me," she remarked. "I want to go to sleep after looking at this for a few seconds."

"But Binks," Kendall drawled, scooting closer to flip through the pages and land on a brightly colored pie chart. "Check out my pie chart on lipstick sales. It features not only a masterpiece of mauve but also the tackiness of taupe."

"Taupe?" repeated Bianca with a laugh. "When did that become your color of choice?"

"It isn't, I just like how it sounds," admitted Kendall, arching an eyebrow in playful challenge.

Murmuring fondly in response, Bianca gave the papers back to Kendall and watched her with a lidded gaze. "I missed this," she confessed in a hush after a few moments of silence. When Kendall looked up, her blue gray eyes wide, she continued, "I missed us. I know it's my fault, the way things have turned out, and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Kendall. I know how I hurt you."

Looking into Bianca's eyes, seeing the truth there, the silent plea along with the love, the begging for forgiveness, Kendall found herself wanting to give in. She couldn't help it, she still loved Bianca so very much, Bianca held a giant piece of her heart and she always would and Kendall wanted to stop hating that, to give into her love for the younger woman. Vulnerable, she made her feel so very vulnerable, and it stung to be that way around Bianca now, it was a weakness she no longer wanted to reveal, a weakness she no longer trusted in Bianca's hands.

"Forget it," Kendall said quickly, looking away from Bianca and getting off the bed.

In less than a minute, Bianca found herself alone in Kendall's room and she sighed. Things never were easy with Kendall. Difficulty was the unspoken rule and as much as it became exhausting and utterly frustrating at times, it was always worth it because Kendall loved so fiercely and with such loyalty and Bianca knew she betrayed that love with what she did and it was up to her to reclaim their bond along with Kendall's trust. Which is why she pushed herself off the bed and followed after Kendall.

Walking downstairs, she heard Kendall's dismayed shout and rushing down the last few steps, Bianca dashed into the living room to find the older woman standing at the opened front door which had a pile of snow that was several feet tall. The snow started to shift backwards, like it was going to go toppling onto their shiny hardwood floors and Kendall shrieked, slamming the door shut and Bianca winced at the sound of more snow falling, undoubtedly from the force of the door closing. Walking up to the window and peering outside, she noted sardonically that the only visible portion of their car was the top of its roof. "We're snowed in," said Bianca, deciding to state the all too obvious.

Releasing an agitated noise, Kendall waved her hands about and declared, "Great! Please, would someone explain to me why our lives are always so cliché? I mean, mother couldn't have planned this any better, could she? Now we're really forced to spend time together."

Instead of replying, Bianca walked past her and into the kitchen, systematically going through the cupboards and refrigerator. Kendall eventually wandered over, wanting to know what she was doing. Peering up from the vegetable drawer, Bianca replied, "Making sure we have enough food and water to get us through however long we'll be stuck in here."

"Do we?" asked Kendall, suddenly feeling more panicked than before.

"Enough to last a month unless we decide to gorge ourselves out of misery," said Bianca in droll tones.

"Look at me," snorted Kendall, gesturing to her waspishly thin frame. "Do I really look like I eat my feelings?" Waving her hands at Bianca and feeling a familiar wave of envy rising as she eyed the other woman's generous curves which she had always admired and wanted for herself, she remarked, "You're the one who actually has any kind of shape other than a straight line."

"Which naturally means I pig out daily," Bianca's voice remained completely droll but there was a small hint of hurt there too.

"That's not what I meant and you know it," replied Kendall peevishly.

"Actually I don't know anymore and I think that was the point of this trip so we both start learning again," said Bianca plainly. When Kendall looked at her with a surprised expression, she sighed heavily and continued, "We have to fix this, Kendall. We're driving everyone crazy. Mom, Uncle Jack, Reese, Zach when he's around, Ryan, and Greenlee now that she's recovered from her amnesia. I think even the kids sense something is off between us and Miranda…" Bianca's words trailed away and she wasn't sure how to say what was next without sounding cruel.

"What about Miranda?" demanded Kendall, unable to help the sudden panic that swept through her on hearing the little girl's name. She never wanted to hurt the children in this, not her boys, not Bianca's girls, but god, especially not Miranda. Despite her anger at Bianca she had been trying so very hard to hide it from her niece, the child that she always strangely felt was hers as much as she was Bianca's because she was the reason behind Bianca deciding to keep her pregnancy.

"She's six and she understands things more than we think," Bianca said, more to herself than Kendall, her voice distant.

"Did she say something about me?" asked Kendall, moving closer to Bianca, a pleading in her voice. "Bianca, what is it?"

Turning to look at Kendall, an utterly sad light in her dark eyes and a reluctance there as well, one that told Kendall quite clearly Bianca rather not tell her this and Bianca murmured, "She said she wants to go back to France because she thinks us being in Pine Valley hurts you."

"What?" Kendall's voice was barely audible and immediately she felt her eyes began to well up with tears.

"I told her she was wrong, that you loved her, you loved all of us very much but you were upset with me," said Bianca gently as she cautiously made her way over to Kendall. She hesitantly held Kendall's hands, squeezing them softly when the other woman looked at her.

"What did she say when you told her that?" asked Kendall quietly.

"She wanted to know what I did to upset you and I said that I kept a secret from you that I shouldn't have," Bianca said this in a whisper and regret was thick in her voice along with sorrow, it was so palpable and Kendall always knew Bianca was sorry for what she had done but until this moment she hadn't really accepted it because of her own feelings of betrayal. "Miranda said I was silly for doing that, said secrets were bad, that she never keeps them. I told her she was right and she should never do the same thing with Gabrielle. That she should never hurt her own sister that way and then she told me to fix things with you because she knew it was making me just as sad as it was making you and she didn't like that." Studying Kendall's sharp features, how her eyes held that vulnerable light that it always used to have when they were together, talking like this. "Kendall," she said her name in a whisper. "I mean that. I want to fix things, I know what I did was wrong, and I want to make things right again. Please," Bianca's voice was a definite entreaty and Kendall felt her let go of her hands, reaching to touch her cheek softly. Unable to help herself, she allowed Bianca to turn her head so they were looking into each others eyes. "Give me a chance."

Forgiveness was what Bianca wanted and that was what Kendall wanted to give but as much as she wanted to forgive, it scared her, the idea of letting Bianca back in, having the close relationship they once had because what if Bianca betrayed her again? Kendall already knew that she didn't hold the same place in Bianca's heart that the younger woman did in hers, that she wasn't as important to Bianca as Bianca was to her and that was what hurt the most. That was what she couldn't get over.

So Kendall fell back on instinct, on old bad habits, and she pulled away, moving from Bianca's touch and running up towards her room, leaving Bianca and her pleas for forgiveness behind.

It seemed to Bianca she spent a good deal of her life chasing people down. Trying to get them to listen to her and mostly it wore on her nerves because no one ever did the same for her. Not even Reese after their momentary separation. She stayed in Pine Valley, trying to win over her family in attempt to reconcile, but she didn't chase after Bianca. No one did that except for Kendall. Over and over she would run after her, force her to say what was wrong, she would meddle and interfere, and be so frustratingly obvious in her love, in her concern, when she did this that Bianca couldn't ever be anything but grateful.

That was why Bianca wouldn't give up on Kendall now. Why she would chase her down, keep trying until finally the other woman would talk to her and they could begin to heal the rift between them that she created with her secrets. Knocking on Kendall's door, she asked to be let in, she pled her case, she tried to open the locked door, and finally after nearly a half an hour she told Kendall that eventually they had to talk and she would keep trying, that she wouldn't give up, not now and not ever, because she loved her that much and she slid down onto the ground, preparing to sit there as long as it took.

From the other side of the door, her hands pressing up against it, imagining Bianca on the other side, Kendall stood and she listened and she believed but still, no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't let go. No matter how it hurt them both.

---

The next morning, Kendall rolled out of bed, and wandered downstairs in her robe to find the smell of coffee and food cooking greeting her. Bianca stood in front of the stove dressed in her pajamas and preparing a variety of crepes.

Looking up from preparing the batter, Bianca moved over to the coffee pot and poured a cup for Kendall after she added the appropriate amount of cream and sugar. Raising an eyebrow and accepting the drink, Kendall noted, "Aren't we the perfect little housewife."

"Do you still like scrambled eggs?" Bianca asked, apparently deciding to not rise to Kendall's bait who frowned as she observed the dark circles under the younger woman's eyes. She turned to look at Kendall when she didn't respond and upon seeing the concerned look on her face, Bianca questioned, "What is it?"

"Nothing," Kendall muttered and Bianca looked away, going back to her cooking, and Kendall couldn't help but watch her, studying the exhausted planes of her face. She didn't want to ask but she found the words slipping past her lips before she could help it and she asked, "How long were you outside my door?"

A self-deprecating smile on her lips, Bianca looked at a nearby clock, and replied, "Until about forty minutes ago." Feeling strangely reassured by the look of shock on Kendall's face, she added, "I'm not giving up on us, Kendall. I can't, I won't, and I'm willing to wait as long as it takes until I can finally get you to talk to me because things can't keep up like this."

"Fine," said Kendall in something of a mutter and when Bianca looked at her, clearly surprised that she would give in so easily, she waved her hands about. "Fine!" she repeated, stronger now, clearly exasperated. "After breakfast we'll have your precious talk. But I don't know how it's going to fix anything."

Ignoring the more negative comments on Kendall's part, relieved to get this chance, Bianca turned back to cooking and asked again, her tone much lighter and happier before, "Do you still like scrambled eggs?"

"Yes," Kendall said. Her eyes fixed on Bianca's features, noting how she didn't have that same slump to her shoulders and a good portion of her stress had disappeared as if her agreeing to at least talk with Bianca had made it magically float away, she found herself continuing, speaking more about Bianca then about food as she said, "I love them."

---

Breakfast was a silent affair, they ate and they drank their coffee, and they put the dishes in the washer. Kendall wandered into the living room, sitting in front of the fireplace, absently going through the routine to start a fire. Paper lining the bottom with small sticks on top and a log of wood placed at an angle to give the fire room to breath. She had just gotten it lit when Bianca came to sit next to her, remarking that she could have started a fire if Kendall was cold.

"No thanks, Binks," said Kendall dryly, looking at her sister with a certain tongue-in-cheek humor. "You're a disaster magnet with a history of childhood pyromania, remember? I think I'm the one best suited to start small contained fires only meant for heating purposes."

There wasn't any response, just a sigh on Bianca's part, then she said, "Is this how it's going to be from now on? Because I don't want that, Kendall. I don't want to snipe and insult and belittle."

"What do you want?" asked Kendall, turning to Bianca, trying to keep her voice hard, along with her expression but finding it extremely difficult when faced with Bianca's plaintive features. "I can't just forget what you did, Bianca. Even if I want to."

"So don't forget, I don't want you to forget, I just want you to listen to me," said Bianca desperately and when Kendall looked at her with an expression that wasn't welcoming but all the same told her to continue, she sighed heavily. Running her fingers through her hair, Bianca said, "It's my fault. I knew from the start I should have asked you about Zach being the donor. Honestly, I didn't even plan on asking him, I was drunk when I did and he said no, and somehow Reese convinced him. I don't know if he did it to make up for Michael raping me or to get even because you slept with Aidan like you claim but he helped us and I should have talked to you first but I was scared you would say no and so I didn't. I kept it a secret and the longer I kept that secret the harder it was to tell you. The pregnancy," Bianca looked away from Kendall, her expression constrained, haunted, and Kendall couldn't look away, she hadn't ever seen her sister look like this. "I almost lost Gabrielle more than once. They put me on bed rest for months and when things were finally safe I went to Pine Valley to see you, to tell you, and then the tornado…"

"Wrecked our lives," said Kendall flatly.

"No," Bianca shook her head. "It wasn't the tornado that caused our problems, it was me."

"Well," Kendall drew the word out and gave Bianca a glittering if not totally insincere smile. "Then tell me why you were scared I would say no because I got to tell you, Binks, I thought I had a pretty solid track record of saying yes. Helping you through your rape, covering your pregnancy to Mom, taking the rap for Michael's murder. Yes, yes, yes!"

"I know that, Kendall," said Bianca in truly tormented tones, her eyes filling with tears. "You did so much for me--"

"Why didn't you talk to me about it?" asked Kendall sharply. "Why? That's what I want to know, Bianca. Because, honestly, at this point I don't know what I would have said but I'm guessing that it might have been yes because it was you asking and there's pretty much nothing I wouldn't have done for you back then."

"Back then," Bianca echoed sadly. "But not now."

"Probably not," said Kendall in blunt tones. "You haven't told me why you didn't ask me. That's what I want to know."

"I was afraid you would say no because I knew you would ask why I wanted a second child," said Bianca quietly, ducking her head and looking into the fire. "I knew you would ask me about Reese and how long we had been together. When I told you that it was less than a year, you'd say that I needed to wait, get to know her better before having a second child, and I would have listened to you because I always listen even if I don't follow your advice. That time though… I probably would have and when I did I would've had to face that there were problems in my relationship with Reese. I would've had to face that things weren't as perfect as I made them out to be, that I didn't know her nearly well enough, something that was proven when we first came to Pine Valley."

"I would have burst your bubble," said Kendall in a sardonic observation.

"Yes," Bianca admitted, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "But you would have been right."

Puzzling as it was, almost irrational, Kendall understood where Bianca was coming from. Why she had wanted to stay inside a place that had been safe and warm and perfect. She understood it but it didn't make it hurt any less to discover why she had been kept out of such a very important decision on the part of Bianca and her ex-husband. Especially during a period of time when she considered Bianca to be one of the most important people in her life, just after her boys, and she mistakenly assumed that she held the same position for Bianca. Only to find out she was so very wrong when Gabrielle's conception came to light.

She didn't know how to reply because even if she understood it still hurt and Kendall didn't know if she could forgive. So she stood up and walked away from Bianca, retreating back into her room.

Bianca remained where she was, sitting in front of the fire, staring into the flames, watching them jump and crackle. Holding back her tears as she wondered where to go from here. It was the truth, what she had told Kendall, it was her fear that her sister would point out all the flaws, the problems, in her relationship with Reese that kept her from telling her about their desire for another child and in hindsight it was all so very foolish on her part. It would have saved so much pain and so much heartache on everyone's part if she had just spoken with Kendall because in the end, Kendall would have been right, Kendall would have been protecting her, doing the what was best for her just like she had ever since the rape.

How things got to this point, she didn't know. Just like she didn't know how to fix things. She loved Kendall, she loved her so very much, but Bianca didn't know how she could prove that to her. Nothing seemed to work. Not her actions, not her words, nothing. It was so disheartening, having this knowledge that their relationship which had been so close, so good, was in shambles and it was all her fault and she had no idea how to fix it. Sometimes Bianca wanted to curl up in a little ball and just cry. Everything else finally was right in her life, she had her children, she had a woman who truly loved her and was committed to her in Reese, and their love had survived a such terrible time and at last they were happy but it didn't feel right.

Nothing felt right if she didn't have Kendall and to know she ruined things, that it was her fault this was happening, it hurt more than anything else did in such a long time and Bianca felt helpless and so very lost. Minutes, hours, she didn't know how long she sat in front of the dying fire before she headed up to her room, showering and changing out of her pajamas. Exhausted from her night camping in front of Kendall's room and their talk in the morning, Bianca collapsed on her bed and fell into a fitful sleep.

Wailing alarms and the distinct smell of something burning is what Bianca woke to. Yet again, she rushed downstairs, taking each step two at a time, running into the living room where she found Kendall cursing and attempting to pull the batteries out of the smoke alarm. Bianca poked her head into the smoky kitchen and found the remains of what she believed might have been a chicken stored in the small freezer. The alarms finally stopped and Bianca had just turned on the oven fan in an attempt to get rid of the smoke in the kitchen when Kendall wandered into the room, looking frazzled and thoroughly irritated.

"Don't start," Kendall declared, holding up an index finger.

"What happened?" asked Bianca, picking up a stainless steel spatula and scraping the chicken off of the pan. The poultry landed with a loud clang into the sink and she winced.

Rooting through the drawers and putting on two gloved pot holders, Kendall picked up the charred chicken. "I cooked it at 400 when it should have been at 200? I don't know," Kendall replied petulantly.

Looking over her shoulder at the older woman, Bianca frowned as she watched her walk to the front door. "We're still snowed in, Kendall," she called out, not quite sure what she was up to. "You can't go and get us take out. I'll make you something."

"I'm not trying to get to the Caribou Club, Binks," Kendall drawled, pulling open the front door. "I'm just preparing a burial for our poor twice deceased friend." With that, Kendall hurled the burnt chicken out into the snowy abyss over the portion of the doorway not piled in snow and promptly shut the door with a slam, causing more snow to pile at the front entrance.

Chuckling at this, Bianca inspected the cupboards and seeing some of the key ingredients, she looked to Kendall and asked, "How would you feel about some homemade pizza? I could have one ready in about a half an hour."

"I want pepperoni," Kendall announced.

"Fine by me if we actually have some," said Bianca, pulling open the refrigerator. Going through the drawers, she raised an eyebrow and looked back at Kendall as she held a small package of pepperoni. "You're psychic."

"Psychotic maybe," said Kendall with a snort, taking the pepperoni. She settled herself on a stool at the kitchen counter, watching Bianca prepare the pizza and said, "I actually looked at the mind numbing dullness that is the Weather Channel while you were sleeping. They say no more snow but I have no idea when we'll get dug out of here."

"Did you call the resort?" asked Bianca, trying to keep her tone as gentle as possible, used to the fact after the past few months that if she said something in the wrong way it could lead to Kendall snapping at her.

"They said they're working their way up the mountain and they would call as soon as they knew more," said Kendall grumpily, stealing a slice of pepperoni and popping it into her mouth. "I did the Erica Kane name drop but it didn't do much good."

"Her name can melt snow now?" asked Bianca playfully, kneading the dough. "She gets more powerful every day."

"We have seen her breath fire on a few occasions," remarked Kendall, taking another slice of pepperoni.

"True," said Bianca, laughing and wearing a real smile for the first time since they arrived at the cabin.

Resting her chin in the palm of her hand, Kendall watched Bianca prepare the pizza with a strange sense of calm. When it came to cooking, cleaning, or anything remotely domestic she was completely hapless. There were moments, mostly when Spike asked for a homemade meal from her, that she regretted it but usually she was totally at ease with her lack of talent in this area. Watching Bianca though, it made her wish she was better at it, just because she liked this feeling. This odd relaxation that came from the meal being prepared and it brought back a feeling of warmth, a feeling of home, that Kendall always associated with Bianca. A feeling she had been trying to repress for months because it was dangerous, it made her want to trust, and if she trusted she was vulnerable and every time she allowed herself to be that way she only ended up hurt. Bianca was the best proof of that because Bianca was the one who Kendall trusted most and thanks to this, she was one who caused her the most pain.

Dinner was a silent affair until Kendall could no longer take the silence and she told Bianca that she had called Reese while she was sleeping to let her know they were snowed in. During the phone call she could hear the sound of the children playing in the background and the repeated shout of the word fool. Hearing this, Bianca sighed and remarked wryly, "That was Gabrielle. Her vocabulary expanded recently to include insults and her favorite of which is fool so, naturally, that's what we've all been called multiple times daily. Reese thinks it's hilarious so she encourages it and of course Miranda agrees."

"What has she called mother?" asked Kendall in a humorous drawl. Upon seeing the Bianca's bemused expression, Kendall clapped her hands and wiggled in her seat with glee. "Oh, this has got be good."

"You're enjoying this way too much," accused Bianca, grumbling but a smile forming just because she so happy to see Kendall smiling and laughing with her again. It was something she had missed more than words could say.

"Yeah, yeah," Kendall rolled her eyes. "Spill it already, what did Gabby call Mom?"

"It wasn't that bad, honestly, I mean, compared to fool and moron," said Bianca, defending her daughter's name calling. When Kendall just stared at her expectantly and raised an eyebrow, Bianca sighed heavily and said, "Twerp." Gradually the smile on Kendall's features grew larger until it was a full blown grin and then she burst into laughter which Bianca observed, her gaze fond and face indulgent as she looked at the other woman. When Kendall's laughter died down, she asked how Erica reacted to her new title and Bianca replied with deadpan humor, "She wanted to know if we'd been reading Gabby the tabloids."

"Ahhh," Kendall said knowingly. "They have been after her lately. What with the impending marriage to Adam."

"I doubt they called her a twerp though," said Bianca with a laugh. "Honestly, she took it very well. Though I'm sure it's only because one of her grandchildren was doing the name calling. Lord help us if it had been a random child on the street."

"Age hasn't mellowed her any," agreed Kendall, leaning back in her chair and stretching her arms over her head. "What does Gabby call Zach? He's around enough so I'm sure she's got a name for him, right?"

"Kendall," Bianca said her name softly and there was a contrition her gaze, that constant apology that hadn't left ever since she was told the truth behind Gabrielle's origins. It was a look that Kendall was tired of seeing.

At this point, Kendall was rather irritated by it even though in a way it was relieving to see, to have that constant evidence of Bianca's guilt because it was evidence of her feelings, that she did care for Kendall. That was reassuring as it was bitter since it meant to Kendall that Bianca didn't care enough, not as much as she thought, as she always wanted. "Look," Kendall began, sounding as exhausted as she felt, gazing at the younger woman. "We're going to be stuck in here together for who knows how long and I'd like it be a tolerable experience. So do me a favor and cut down on the guilt and the apologies okay, Binks? I get you're sorry for what went on and I forgive you. Just," trailing off, Kendall dropped her chair down and stood up, pausing to stand briefly at Bianca's side. She had an instinct, a desire to reach out, to touch those sad features and feel the pale skin she knew would be soft like silk but she kept her arms stiff at her sides. "Give me some more time."

Walking into the living room, she heard Bianca's heartfelt and sorrowful concession to her request, and that wall around Kendall's heart, the one that had been created by the belief the person she loved most didn't care for her in the same manner, it started to chip and fall away. Unfortunately, this wasn't something that either woman was aware of.

---

Once the dishes had been washed, the leftover pizza stored away, and she was sure the guilt was gone from her features, Bianca followed Kendall into the living room where she found her fiddling with the television. Fitting the weather outside, the screen was a blur of white and black, similar to a snow storm. Sitting on the couch, she watched Kendall futilely flip through the channels in a hope one of them would get a signal. Heaving an frustrated sigh, Kendall looked back at Bianca and groused, "I can't even get the Weather Channel. You don't think this means more snow, do you?"

"That or a bad cable connection," said Bianca. Nodding at the large wooden drawer that was part of the television stand, she suggested, "Open that. Maybe they have some dvds stocked for guests."

Wearing a skeptical expression, Kendall nevertheless did as Bianca requested and she was met with the sight of twenty or so movies. "Great," she groaned, inspecting the titles.

"What? Nothing there?" asked Bianca, scooting off the couch and kneeling next to Kendall.

"Nothing but a collection of movies that make us both cry," said Kendall in sardonic tones. Looking to Bianca, a clear warning on her sharp features, she declared, "I am not watching Steel Magnolias with you, Binks."

Forming a pout, Bianca looked through the rest of the movies and held up another title, wearing an entreating look on her face. "What about Fried Green Tomatoes? Or do you have something against Mary-Louise Parker?"

"Nothing except the fact she dies in all her movies," replied Kendall with a teasing drawl.

"Two movies she died in, just two," said Bianca huffily, holding up two fingers to further demonstrate her point. "Fried Green Tomatoes and Boys On The Side. Besides, she's busy selling marijuana on Showtime now."

"That's better than dying tragically I suppose," said Kendall who had a grin tugging at the corners of her lips as she observed Bianca's annoyance with her. "All right," Kendall acquiesced, taking the dvd from Bianca and removing it from the case. "I'll watch it with you if you promise not to cry and complain about them neutering the lesbian romance from the original novel version."

"Unfair," Bianca retorted but she nevertheless settled on the couch and watched as Kendall put the dvd into the player. "And since they're women I think saying their romance was spayed is more accurate."

"Huzzah for accuracy," said Kendall humorously. Sitting on the other side of the couch, she pointed a finger at Bianca in a fairly effective warning gesture. "Remember your promise. No crying. If you start crying then I'll start crying and I'm sick of that whole experience. I see even a hint of a tear and I'll eject this movie before Idgie becomes petite, blonde, and totally your type."

"I don't have a type," protested Bianca, looking slightly indignant.

"Oh please," Kendall rolled her eyes again. "You have such a type. Sarah, petite and blonde, Frankie, petite and blonde, Maggie, twin sister of second petite and blonde, Reese, not so petite but definitely blonde."

"You left out Lena," Bianca was quick to point out. "She was neither petite nor blonde. Thus proving I don't have a type."

"Lena was an aberration," said Kendall, waving her hand dismissively. "You were still a teenager and she was a hot Polish fox with a sexy accent and a high level of comfort with her own sexuality. Of course you'd go outside your type for that."

"I was nineteen!" exclaimed Bianca, a bit offended.

"Like I said, a teenager," said Kendall with a snort. "But face it, Binks, you definitely like blondes."

Her face scrunching up and a look of consideration on her features, Bianca released a puff of air then said, "If I have a type then I'm not consciously aware of it. I think it has more to do with personality than looks with me. At least, I hope it does."

"Physical attraction is all instinct and hormones, it's not something you can reason with," Kendall mused, turning away from Bianca to focus on the movie where they had finally gotten past all the advertising previews onto the main screen. Pushing play, she said, "I wish I could just pick who I fell in love with. It would solve a lot of problems."

"Who would you pick?" asked Bianca and when Kendall looked her way, her cheeks heated in a blush. The words slipped past her lips before she could help it but she didn't take the question back because she was genuinely curious about the answer.

"I don't know," said Kendall in contemplative tones. "I mean, all the men I've been with, they seem great at first but something always goes wrong. Except maybe with Aidan. He's always been there for me when I needed him, even if that caused a huge problem in my relationship with Ryan and my marriage to Zach. Not that it matters, Aidan is with Annie now and I'd rather not have her go crazy again by means of me trying to take away the man who helped get her marbles back, you know? Plus they seem happy together which is definitely a rare commodity back home." Tilting her head, Kendall's gaze was lidded as she studied the lines of Bianca's features, pretty and pale and filled with such emotion, such concern for her, and she couldn't help herself, she didn't know why she said it, but she found herself speaking exactly what she thought in that moment. "I've always wanted to be with someone like you. Somebody good and honest, who wouldn't keep secrets, who would put me first. That's what I would pick." Giving a barking laugh, sardonic and bitter, Kendall muttered, "Pathetic, isn't it?"

"No," said Bianca quietly, scooting across the couch to sit next to Kendall. Slowly she reached out, touching her cheek, turning Kendall's head and cupping her face in her hands. Her fingers moved across Kendall's skin in a tender caress and Bianca looked at her with dark eyes that were filled with so much understanding and love that Kendall felt her throat clench at the sight. "Not at all. Kendall," she breathed her name more than said it, moving closer, pulling her into an embrace. Whispering in her ear, voice earnest and sincere, "I know you told me to stop apologizing but I'm sorry for what I did. For keeping Gabrielle a secret and it's not pathetic, wanting someone like that in your life." Pulling away, Bianca held her hand flat against Kendall's cheek, looking at her with eyes shining with unshed tears, there was a hint of wry humor as she said, "I've always wanted the same thing."

"What? To be with yourself?" asked Kendall sardonically, trying to push away her emotions, denying the impact that Bianca's admission truly had to her, afraid of letting Bianca get that close to her again.

"No," Bianca said again, shaking her head, a small smile curling on her lips, one that was filled with affection. "You were the standard bearer, Kendall. Believe it or not but when I met Reese I compared her to you."

"In fashion sense?" asked Kendall, lifting an eyebrow humorously, trying to turn away from Bianca. "I win hands down."

"That's not what I meant and you know it," said Bianca in a gentle recrimination. "After Maggie, I was afraid to trust again. We were so close, best friends, and she cheated on me. I couldn't understand it and when I met Reese, I was scared to let her in but I thought about you, the things I loved about you the most. How you would do anything for your family, the people you love, how you sacrifice and put yourself at risk, all while making sarcastic remarks and pretending you aren't. I looked for things like that in Reese and while she might not have your witty repartee she does have the same devotion to family and that's how I knew I could trust her."

"Is that how you forgave her?" questioned Kendall, it was something she had wondered for a long time. Bianca's forgiveness of Reese, what brought it about, she was certain that after the accident, Reese's blindness, Bianca would come rushing back into town but she didn't and because of the distance in their relationship, she never did find out the details behind the reconciliation.

"Partially," revealed Bianca, her hand falling from Kendall's cheek and into her own lap. Her eyes drifted to the television screen where Idgie was teaching Ruth how to jump onto a train. "Once I left Pine Valley and had some distance from Reese, I stopped being so angry and when that happened I could look at the situation, at Reese, with a better perspective. It still hurt, what she did but when I thought about where she came from, her parents, and how she grew up then I thought about our time together, how she treated me, the girls, and I knew she loved me, that she wanted a life with me. I just wasn't sure if she was ready for that kind of commitment, no matter what she said, because she had been confused and closeted for so long, letting other people tell her who she was, what she thought, but when I came back and I looked into her eyes, I knew it was right. I knew we had to try again, not only for us but for our girls, because I finally saw the same strength that you have in her eyes and I realized she'd never give up on us, she'd never stop loving me, and I just couldn't walk away from that."

"I used to feel that way about Zach," Kendall confessed, her voice far off and drifting, she didn't know why she was telling Bianca this. Maybe to reciprocate, the social contract of give and take in a conversation, along with a deep seeded need to be close to Bianca again but she was talking and now she couldn't seem to stop, her feelings spilling out like water released from a dam. "I thought I would always come first with him. Me and the boys, we were his world, that's what I thought. I was wrong though, he pushed me away, time and time again, he created a distance and Reese," Kendall looked to Bianca, a smile tugging at her lips. "Even when she was blind it was always you, Binks. Always talking about you and the girls and how she would do whatever it took to get you back. I didn't get that from Zach though and I don't know why that hurt so much. It's the norm, after all." Kendall gave a short burst of laughter, caustic and bitter. "Everyone I love lets me down or leaves."

"It doesn't have to be that way," Bianca insisted, taking Kendall's hands, squeezing them softly. "You'll find someone who stays, Kendall. I know you will."

"The eternal optimist," drawled Kendall, tilting her head to one side. She wanted to touch Bianca, feel her skin, her fingertips itched she wanted it so much but she couldn't let herself, she couldn't give into these emotions, let herself get too close, become attached like she once was. That's why she pulled her hands away, folding her arms across her chest and nodding at the television where Idgie was in the process of helping Ruth leave her abusive husband. "Enough of depressing reality, huh? Why not concentrate on depressing fiction for awhile? The kind starring petite blondes you have a thing for."

"I told you, I don't have a type," said Bianca with a slight scowl, poking Kendall in the side. "I appreciate all kinds of women."

"Right," Kendall said with a humorous snort. "Just like I appreciate all kinds of men but only go for tall, dark, and brooding."

Instead of replying, Bianca shook her head and focused on the movie, unaware of Kendall's gaze moving over the lines of her face, taking in Bianca's happiness as if hoping somehow to make it her own, a look of silent affection forming as she did.

---

Through an unspoken consensus it was decided after Kendall's disaster involving the chicken that Bianca would be in charge of any meal preparation that involved a heating implement. Which is what Bianca was busy doing while Kendall was arguing on the phone with the manager of the resort, demanding to know when exactly the road leading to their cabin would be cleared.

By the way that Kendall gave a noise of utmost frustration as she came into the kitchen, Bianca assumed the talk didn't go that well. Concentrating on cooking the ground beef for the taco salad she was making for lunch, she held back the urge to ask what the manager had said, deciding to wait for Kendall to eventually vent her emotions.

"Board games," Kendall snapped, sitting on a stool in the kitchen and grabbing one of the baby carrots on the counter. Bianca looked away from the ground beef to lift an eyebrow inquisitively. Biting into the carrot with a crunch, Kendall continued, "He told me we would be stuck here for awhile and when I asked him what he expected us to do he said to play board games."

"They don't have any idea when the road will be cleared?" asked Bianca.

"Not with the weather," said Kendall, rolling her eyes and taking another carrot. "Apparently it might snow again tonight and if it's anywhere near the amount we got last time they'll have to plow the part of the road they just got cleared. He did say that they are halfway up the mountain and if the snowfall is light they should reach us in three days but he couldn't guarantee anything."

Focusing back on the ground beef as it finished cooking, Bianca turned off the burner and removed the taco shells from the oven, placing them on plates. Kendall observed as the younger woman filled the shells with lettuce, cheese, pausing to shred the baby carrots, and she swore there was a tiny gleam of amusement in Bianca's eyes and she couldn't help but ask, "What's so funny?"

"Nothing," Bianca denied swiftly, adding the ground beef to the shells, trying to keep the smile from her lips and failing.

"Yeah right," Kendall snorted, leaning across the counter and poking Bianca in the breast. "Tell me."

"Did you just poke me in the boob?" asked Bianca incredulously, releasing a sputtering laugh.

"Yes, I did, now tell me what's so funny," said Kendall in casual but altogether smug tones.

"I can't believe you poked me in the boob," Bianca muttered, giving a sudden burst of laughter as Kendall leaned forward again and made like she was going to repeat the gesture. Slapping at her hand, Bianca cried out, "Quit that!"

"I'll keep poking you until you tell me what was so funny and I'm not discriminating about body parts," threatened Kendall, a playful light in her eyes that made Bianca laugh and feel so very glad to see it.

"It really is nothing," Bianca insisted, yelping and jumping away as Kendall got off the stool and extended her prime poking finger. Folding her arms over her breasts, she said rather ruefully, "I just think you're cute when you get grumpy and complain about things you can't change. It reminds me of Miranda when she has a cold, she's the exact same way."

"Cute?" echoed Kendall and her nose scrunched up in distaste. "Kendall Hart is not cute."

"Yes, she is," said Bianca warmly, finishing off one of the taco salads and pushing it towards Kendall who was settling in back on the stool in front of the counter. "She's wonderfully cute, just like her niece, whom I'm sure learned it from her favorite aunt."

"Wonderfully cute," Kendall echoed again. Taking her fork, she smashed the shell into small pieces with a focused intent. "That's something I never thought I would hear about myself."

"Well, you are," said Bianca somewhat forcefully, though she wore a warm smile. She sat next to Kendall, breaking up the shell far more carefully as she took the first bite. "I mean it," she said in a soft murmur. "There are times when Miranda reminds me so much of you. Mostly when she gets obsessive about her clothing and hairstyle," Bianca said in teasing tones and Kendall laughed, smiling at her fondly and Bianca took in that smile, incredibly happy to receive it, wanting to memorize this moment when they were getting along and there was an ease to their interaction. "When we were teaching her how to ride a bike she refused to let us put on the training wheels. She said it would make her look like a baby and even though she kept falling over again and again, she never gave up until eventually she could ride the bike on her own. That's just like you, refusing to give up. Focused on your goal and determined to get there. I'm glad," Bianca said, her voice quiet and sincere. "I'm glad Miranda is like you. It makes me happy, seeing things in her that come from you, it always has."

"She's too nice to be completely like me," said Kendall dryly. Pointing her fork at Bianca, a grin tugged at her lips and she drawled, "I think I'll end up having more in common with Gabby if she keeps going around insulting people with no consequence."

Shaking her head and laughing at this, Bianca returned to eating her salad, a mischievous idea emerging as she thought about what the resort manager said and she turned to Kendall who still wore a smile on her face. "I did see an old version of Monopoly out there." On hearing this, Kendall looked at Bianca with an utterly droll expression and Bianca laughed again. "Come on," Bianca cajoled. "It could be fun. You could end up owning all of Boardwalk and maybe even Park Place."

"I want to be the top hat," Kendall said firmly.

"Fine by me, I like the Scottie dog," replied Bianca, laughing and smiling as they returned to eating their lunch.

---

"How did you wind up with everything?" Kendall grumbled, staring at the board that was littered with little red houses claimed by Bianca. She was sure that between the two of them she was the ruthless executive type and the game would be hers but it turned out to be surprisingly the opposite. "I've got six properties and you have thirteen. When did that happen?"

"You own Boardwalk," pointed out Bianca helpfully. "Along with Reading Railroad."

"And you've got the Electric Company!" exclaimed Kendall, waving at the board. Resting her chin in the palm of her hand, she wondered if there was anything she could do to win the game. As much as she hated to admit it, she didn't think there was a way for her to get the edge over Bianca. It was best to cut her losses. Sighing as she contemplated her lack of options, she remarked, "Bianca wins again."

"I don't always win," said Bianca in a quiet protest, helping Kendall clear the board. When Kendall didn't respond and continued clearing away the pieces, her jaw tight, and a dark look in her eyes, she questioned softly, "Kendall?" Jerking her head upwards, Kendall looked at Bianca with wide eyes and the younger woman studied her with a look of concern. "Hey," she said in a hush, her voice soothing as she moved over to the other woman, looking at her worriedly. "You don't believe that, do you?"

"No," Kendall said this with such bravado that Bianca frowned, not really believing the enthusiasm behind it. "Not anymore. Maybe when I was younger." Trailing off, she frowned on seeing the hurt look on Bianca's features. Seeing it pierced her heart in a way she no longer thought was possible and Kendall found herself continuing, "When I first came to Pine Valley, you were just a kid. It really was stupid, how jealous I was of you but it was like you had everything I didn't growing up. Erica and Travis were divorced but it was obvious how much they loved you, how much they wanted you, and I never felt like that."

"I know," said Bianca, gazing at Kendall with wide and understanding eyes. Holding Kendall's hands and squeezing them tenderly, she murmured, "That's why made a promise, remember? That Miranda would never feel the same way, that she would always know she was wanted and loved, right from the very start, and it's a promise that we've kept. You and I together."

"Along with Mom, Jack, Reese, the rest of Pine Valley," said Kendall wryly, thinking of the large number of people who adored her niece, who kept her close to their heart, especially after the horrible circumstances surrounding her birth.

"Miranda does have a lot of people in her corner," admitted Bianca fondly. Cupping Kendall's cheek, her fingers stroked the soft skin and her gaze was dark and affectionate as she said, "But none of them matter as much as you."

She wanted to believe this, she wanted it so badly, because before she had her boys Bianca and Miranda were the people that meant the most to Kendall and there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for them. As hurt as she was by Bianca, that's still how she felt, she couldn't just turn those emotions off, as much as she wanted to for her own protection. Ducking her head, not wanting to show the tears she knew were forming in her eyes, Kendall asked, her voice a rough murmur, "Do you mean that?"

"Of course," said Bianca, lifting Kendall's head, wiping the tears away with her thumbs. "I know as much as I want to keep what Michael did to me from Miranda she's going to have questions and when that time comes, I always thought that I would ask you for help because you would know exactly what she's going through. You would make sure she knew how much I loved her, wanted her, from the start. That she was the one thing, besides you, that helped me survive what he did to me."

"I will," Kendall replied with a serious look on her features. "I'll tell her all of that and I won't let her start hating herself, like I did. Blaming herself for what happened to you. I know that's why I was so horrible to you when I first came to Pine Valley, because I hated myself and I was jealous of you, of how mother looked at you, treated you. She thinks you're perfect, you know?"

"I don't know if she really thinks that but that's what I grew up believing," admitted Bianca, turning away from Kendall to look out the windows at the snow covered landscape. "I was convinced I had to be the person Mom thought I was and that I had to live up to this image she created of me in her mind. That's why I was anorexic. It started with the tabloids, talking about my weight and how I wasn't pretty enough to be the daughter of Erica Kane and I listened and I believed every horrible thing they said about me and I had to be skinnier, I had to be prettier, and I made myself sick over it. All because I was convinced I had to make myself into something I wasn’t so Mom would love me. Kendall," Bianca said with yearning. "I understand. I really do."

"My boys won't ever feel that way," said Kendall strongly. "I won't let them."

"Neither will my girls," said Bianca in a soft promise. "They'll both grow up knowing I love them exactly as they are, that nothing they do could ever change that, and that they're always wanted. That they were never a disappointment, never a burden."

Thinking back to her initial reaction, her months of anger and bitterness, things she couldn't let go until Ian needed his bone marrow transplant, until Gabrielle saved her son's life, Kendall said in quiet self-disgust, "I would have made Gabby feel that way though. If I had kept going on the way I was. I would've made her feel exactly the way I did growing up because of my resentment and anger at you and Zach. Something that had nothing to do with her. She was always an innocent in all this mess."

"Kendall," Bianca said her name as if it were a prayer, holding her face in her hands, touching her gently. "It's okay."

"No," said Kendall and the words, they were caught in her throat. She shook her head fiercely, moving from Bianca's touch, standing up and looking down at the younger woman with tormented and teary eyes. "It's not okay, Bianca. I almost made that little girl live through the same hell that I did because I couldn't let go of the fact that you…" Kendall broke off, not wanting to say it, not wanting to admit the real reason she continued to be so hurt, so upset, by Bianca's actions, by her secrets. Shaking her head again, Kendall muttered, "It's not okay, it will never be okay that I almost did that to her."

Solitary and lonely, that was how Bianca felt, sitting by herself in the living room, staring at the empty Monopoly board, the pieces cleared away and Bianca wondered how it came to this. How this became their life together and she wanted that bond back, that intimacy she used to share with Kendall. Her life wouldn't feel right without it, something would always be missing, something would always be off.

---

Very reluctantly, Kendall stood in the kitchen in front of the stove, learning how to prepare Chicken A La King from Bianca. Though the younger woman was saying this wasn't really the official recipe, just a quick method of cooking it that they had to use due to the limited supplies they had at the cabin.

"First," Bianca drew the word out happily as she moved in back of Kendall, slipping an apron over Kendall's head, and neatly tying it in a bow. "We put on an apron to keep our clothes clean."

"We do, do we?" responded Kendall playfully, arching an eyebrow and looking at Bianca with a sardonic expression.

"We do," murmured Bianca, taking a step closer, hovering behind Kendall.

Tapping Bianca on the nose, Kendall said, "I don't see you wearing one. Are you planning on getting all the food on me?"

"You are prettier, it would look better on you," Bianca remarked, laughing warmly, and taking a step backwards. Putting on her own apron, she set the ingredients onto the counter listing them off as she did this. "Chicken, onion, butter, cream cheese, and pepper. The pepper is just a dash and we add it at the end."

"What's a dash?" asked Kendall, looking at Bianca skeptically.

"Two shakes, maybe three," responded Bianca, not at all phased by Kendall's lack of enthusiasm. "We preheat the oven while we chop up the onion. Opening a drawer she presented Kendall with a knife and said with a smile, "Voila!"

"You're way too enthused about this, Binks," said Kendall with acerbic humor. "How much am I supposed to chop? A dash?"

Laughing again, Bianca took the knife from Kendall and sliced off a small portion of the onion. "Just that much." She placed what was left of the onion into a small tupperware container and put it back into the refrigerator. "Once the oven is heated we add in two tablespoons of butter and the chopped onions and let it cook on low heat until it's tender. Then we'll blend in eight ounces of cream cheese, add that dash of pepper you think is so hilarious, and wait for our Chicken A La King to finish cooking."

"Sounds easy," remarked Kendall though the manner she said this left some doubt as to how much she actually believed what she was saying. Replaying Bianca's words, she studied her pale features, looking for some kernel of truth to them and she said, "You don't mean that do you? That I'm prettier."

Blinking and looking to Kendall with a surprised expression, Bianca's face softened into a look of utter affection, her dark eyes warm and loving as she said, "Why wouldn't I mean it? You are prettier. Always have been."

No response, she didn't know how to respond, because she could see it, the truth behind these words. Bianca did think she was prettier, believed she was more attractive, and though it flattered and boosted her confidence, it hurt in a strange way because she didn't want Bianca doubting herself like she did when she was younger, in the way that led to her anorexia. "If I'm pretty then you're beautiful," Kendall said this in a whisper, just barely discernable, but Bianca heard it all the same and she looked to Kendall with wide eyes that were soon shining with tears that Kendall mimicked, blinking them away when she heard Bianca say thank you.

The beep from the oven sounded, signaling it was heated at the proper temperature and Bianca smiled, moving over to the chicken and adding in the butter and the onion Kendall just finished chopping. Placing the chicken into the oven, she set the timer to let them know when to add in the cream cheese and pepper then looked to Kendall thoughtfully. "Do you remember when Mom tried to cook us dinner right before I first left for France?" asked Bianca, a comical look on her features. "To this day I have no idea what possessed her. I mean, Miranda wasn't even on solids yet and she was trying to get her to eat some of that food."

"My charred chicken was a masterpiece next to that meal," noted Kendall dryly. "I think she didn't know how to deal with you being so far away and was attempting to provide as many motherly moments as possible before you left."

"Maybe," said Bianca, an entertained look on her face. "It was still a disaster though. Uncle Jack was sick for how long?"

"Two days," said Kendall, grinning and shaking her head. "Poor Jack, he puts up with a lot in his love for Mom. He's still trying to convince her Adam is the devil and the world will descend into hellfire and brimstone if they get married again."

"She told me that she thinks Adam is perfect for her," said Bianca, sighing deeply. "I reminded her how much she loves Uncle Jack, how much he loves her, and she said even if that's true they're too different and Adam accepts her as she is."

"Adam doesn't judge bad behavior, that's for sure," Kendall observed, hopping up to sit on the counter. "As long as the bad behavior doesn't effect him or his family. JR is the same way."

"I guess that's good for us considering we'll be family soon?" questioned Bianca, an ironic tinge to her voice.

"I'd say so," drawled Kendall, a grin playing on her lips. "I feel for Jack, don't get me wrong, but it's handy to have the Chandlers in your corner when the chips are down. They usually come through."

"Reese likes Adam, she has ever since he took her in after our wedding," said Bianca, a bit bemused as she thought about the bond between her wife and the patriarch of the Chandler clan. "And I almost think that he decided to revamp the headquarters of Chandler Enterprises just to spend more time with her. It's weird, they have this father daughter thing going on."

"Colby is away at college, maybe he's missing her?" suggested Kendall.

"Maybe," Bianca murmured, appearing to mull this over. The oven beeped and Bianca jumped, opening it and reaching for the pan only to cry out in pain as she touched its heated surface. Immediately Kendall was at her side, looking at her hand which was burnt just slightly and moving her over to the sink where she turned on the cold water. Allowing Kendall to gently place her hand under the water, she said in self-deprecating tones, "Some cooking teacher, huh? I injured myself on the job."

"You were distracted," corrected Kendall, her fingertips light and soothing on Bianca's skin, moving over the reddened area, wincing at how painful it looked when compared to the naturally pale hue. "Are you that worried about Adam and Reese? He doesn't have a lot of morals but I do think he loves Mom and that thing before, it was all Zach, you know Reese loves you."

Staring at Kendall rather dimly, Bianca blinked then burst into laughter, her burnt hand no longer hurting, and she said, "You think I'm worried about Adam and Reese being together? Oh god, Kendall," Bianca broke out into full on laughter. "I'm not that bad."

"Then what is it?" asked Kendall, confused but unable to help grinning in the face of Bianca's infectious amusement. Because it was pretty hilarious, the idea of the much younger and very lesbian Reese Williams with an old fox like Adam Chandler.

"I don't know," said Bianca with a frustrated sigh, allowing Kendall to hold her hand higher up, the cool water hitting it from a different angle. "Something is going on with Adam. It has been ever since Reese's mom came into town and we had that dinner for her. They spent time together before that, sure, but since that dinner it seems like Adam is always over at our house and it's like he's trying to find out as much about Reese as possible. If Reese didn't seem happy with it, I'd honestly be disturbed." She looked to Kendall with a bemused gaze, a grin playing on her features. "My hand doesn't hurt anymore, you can let it go."

"Oh?" Kendall arched an eyebrow playfully. "What if I don't want to let it go? What happens then?"

"We hold hands as I add the cream cheese and a dash of pepper," said Bianca primly, causing Kendall to laugh.

Pulling Bianca's hand up to her lips and kissing the top of it, Kendall murmured, "Fine by me."

"Flatterer," Bianca accused fondly, picking up a pot holder and removing the chicken from the oven, Kendall still holding onto her hand as she did so. Looking at the older woman with a wry expression, she said, "You weren't joking, were you?"

"I never joke about holding hands," said Kendall, smirking.

"Right," said Bianca, rolling her eyes and going along with Kendall's game as she added the last ingredients to their meal. When she was finished, she looked to Kendall and said, "Will you help me put it back in the oven? It just needs to cook for another thirty minutes and then dinner will be ready."

"Of course," said Kendall oh so helpfully, putting the chicken back into the oven, and grinning as Bianca rolled her eyes. Once the chicken was cooking, she tilted her head to one side and asked, "Didn't you say they gave us some bottles of wine?"

"Five of them, actually," said Bianca brightly and since Kendall wouldn't release her hand, she swung them together while she walked over to a nearby wine rack. Studying the selection, she gazed up at a Kendall, a twinkle in her eyes as she asked, "What would you like to have? The Merryvale Vignette or the Carmenet Sauvignon Blanc Semillon?"

"I have no idea what you just said," said Kendall in droll tones. "But lets go for the one that will get me drunker."

"Carmenet Sauvignon," Bianca announced decisively, taking the bottle from the rack and handing it to Kendall. "Though I'm not reassured by the desperate need to get drunk. Is my company that bad?"

"It's not desperate and your company is the best, I'm just in the mood to get tipsy," Kendall confided, pulling Bianca after her into the kitchen, where she searched the drawers for a corkscrew. "Don't you ever feel that way, Binks?"

"Sometimes," revealed Bianca quietly, watching Kendall with a lidded gaze, thinking that this was one of those times.

Dinner was a more boisterous affair thanks to the wine, they ate their chicken which Kendall claimed got its deliciousness entirely from her chopped onions. Bianca let her take the credit with a quiet amusement and a soft affection, delighted that Kendall was in a better mood, and they moved into the living room, finishing off the bottle of wine as Kendall started a fire.

Wearing a lazy smile as she observed Bianca, taking in her effervescent expression and glossy look in her dark eyes, making her gaze that much more compelling, Kendall remarked, "I wanted to get tipsy but you've got me beat. I thought drinking wine was a lifestyle over in France. Shouldn't you be able to hold your alcohol a little better?"

"Please," Bianca said dismissively, gesturing with her wine glass, and taking another drink. "Everyone can out drink me. You, Reese, Maggie. I could spend the rest of my life in France imbibing wine and people would still mock my lightweight drinking abilities."

"That's because you're a girly girl and everyone you just listed, including me, is more butch than you," said Kendall, finishing off her wine and grinning at Bianca's offended expression.

"You can't be more butch than me, I'm the lesbian!" exclaimed Bianca, glowering at Kendall.

"Being a lesbian automatically makes you butch?" asked Kendall, laughing. "Binks, look at you." Placing her wine glass down, she outlined Bianca's curvaceous frame with her hands and drawled, "You're practically made of girly. Where do you think Mimo gets it from?"

"Mom? I don't know," Bianca replied with mild exasperation.

"Well," said Kendall smugly, looking absurdly proud of herself. "I am totally more butch than you. When have you ever strapped a knife to your thigh and knocked a guy out because I did that during a mission with Aidan once. Also," Kendall drew the word out while smiling triumphantly. "I dressed in camouflage."

"I don't care, I still say lesbian beats straight woman in butchness," said Bianca stubbornly, wearing something of a pout which caused Kendall to chuckle on seeing it. "And please don't tell me you experimented in college because that so doesn't count."

"Wrong," said Kendall in sing song tones. "It was high school."

Tilting her head to one side, Bianca looked at Kendall blearily, her dark eyes narrowed and she could see the truth there, that although it had been said as a joke, Kendall wasn't lying. Some strange part of her wanted to ask for details. Who was the girl, how much did Kendall do with her, was she pretty, did Kendall like it? But she couldn't, even though she was tipsy, just like Kendall said, she wasn't tipsy enough to ask that. Bianca wanted to know all those things, she wanted desperately, and there was this strange sort of antagonism she felt for the nameless people Kendall had been with, just like the hostility she had towards the men who broke Kendall's heart but Bianca repressed it, she buried it away because it wasn't appropriate.

Instead Bianca drank the last of her wine and declared, "Still doesn't count."

"Oh?" asked Kendall, arching an eyebrow, a grin quirking on her lips. "What counts then?"

"I don't know," Bianca shrugged, looking away from Kendall, knowing if she gazed at her she would want to question, she would want details, and she couldn't ask, not when things were finally getting good between them again. "But not a one night stand."

Seconds, minutes, hours passed, Bianca wasn't sure how long it was when she moved her head just a little but it was enough to catch Kendall's gaze and their eyes locked. Time seemed to slow as they looked at one another and Bianca swore that there was something there, something in Kendall's eyes that she hadn't seen before. A spark, a passion, was there that she had seen directed at others but never at her and with it, she could feel another barrier break down between them.

In this moment, that scared her as much as it relieved her, because things were changing in this cabin. They were telling each other things they had always kept secret and they were always close but this was different. This was dangerous, it was instinct that told Bianca this and even though she knew she was right she didn't want to stop it. Not if it kept her from Kendall.

---

They couldn't sleep.

Earlier in the day, another harassing phone call from Kendall to the resort manager provided the news that the snow plow had cleared more of the road up the mountain but was still nowhere near their cabin. The snow had been light enough that the newest flakes melted away and while they were glad for the reprieve in bad weather they remained trapped and grasping for ways to entertain themselves. Mostly they spent the day padding about the cabin, going through all the rooms, inspecting knick knacks, rooting through the drawers, and Kendall was greatly amused by her discovery of a Harlequin romance novel apparently from their Nascar series.

After much wheedling from Kendall, they settled into the living room where Bianca agreed to read the novel aloud and acting out of sheer impishness and a desire to be close, Kendall rested her head in Bianca's lap, peering expectantly up at her. Gazing down at the older woman, Bianca said drolly, "You are enjoying this way too much."

"I don't hear reading," Kendall chastised, shaking her index finger at Bianca who caught it in her grip with a grin.

"Fine," Bianca rolled her eyes, clearing her throat as she focused on the paperback book in her hand. "Full Throttle by Wendy Etherington." Upon hearing the title, Kendall burst into laughter and Bianca stared at her indulgently. "Are you really sure you want me to read this? I mean, you don't even know what it's about."

"Read me the description then," encouraged Kendall, wiggling on the couch, her head shifting in Bianca's lap. "Go on," she said, waving her hands at Bianca who rolled her eyes and turned the book over to read the plot synopses printed there.

"What happened to car chief Lexie Mercer's star driver?" Bianca began, sighing as Kendall started giggling again, and she unconsciously slipped into her story teller voice she used with Miranda and Gabrielle, emphasizing the more dramatic pieces of the synopses. "Kane Jackson used to be an untamed force. A winner. Now he's calm, composed and apathetic. She can't even pick a fight with him anymore. What's worse, his lackluster mood is affecting his racing. Then Kane does the unthinkable. He kisses Lexie, giving into months of pent up desire. How could this happen?"

"Oh no, how could it happen," Kendall echoed and she looked suitably shocked.

"Hush," commanded Bianca, lightly tangling her fingers into Kendall's curly brown hair and gently shaking her head, causing Kendall to chuckle and grin even wider. "Lexie is bossy, brainy, and exactly the woman to ignite his lost passion for winning. But Lexie knows Kane's got to stay focused on racing, despite his insistence that one night together will get her out of his system and into victory lane. It won't work. It can't work. Can it?"

Silence and then laughter, loud, uproarious laughter, and Kendall squirmed in Bianca's lap, smiling bright and brilliant watching as Bianca leaned over, her laughter coming in gasps and Kendall grabbed the paperback from her. "Who writes this stuff?" she asked in sardonic tones. "I could come up with a better plot in my sleep."

"Miranda too," said Bianca wryly. "She had to write a story for a class assignment recently. I've been meaning to show it to you because it's so obviously influenced by our less than normal lives. You're in the story."

"Yeah?" asked Kendall, looking up at Bianca curiously. "What's my role? Lovable scoundrel?"

"I'm not really sure but you're impervious to explosions and walls falling on you," Bianca remarked with a laugh. "I think she made us into superheroes, that's the only thing that makes sense. Though you do have a habit of structures collapsing on you."

"The world wants to crush me," Kendall noted somberly.

"The world is stupid," said Bianca softly, pushing a lock of hair from Kendall's eyes, smiling when the other woman took her hand and squeezed it gently. "Miranda misses you. I think that's why she put you in her story."

"I hate that I've hurt her with how I've been acting," said Kendall, staring up at the ceiling, her gaze distant and sad. "I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to hurt any of you, I just needed time to work everything out. I'm still doing that," she admitted quietly.

"It's okay," Bianca reassured, cupping Kendall's cheek and smiling sweetly. "Miranda will understand."

"I hope so," said Kendall and there was a worried light in her eyes, a clear concern, and she looked up at Bianca, her expression forlorn and almost lost. "I've always thought of her…" Kendall made herself stop, her words dying as she gazed into those dark eyes so kind and full of understanding and she didn't think she should tell Bianca this, to let her know the depth of her attachment, how much they both meant to her. She tried so hard to keep it from her because she knew, she knew she had issues, problems in how she related to people and how she dealt with relationships and it wasn't healthy, how much she needed Bianca, how much she relied on her and she kept those feelings to herself because she didn't want Bianca to know but she had been about to tell her and she wanted to tell her, especially as she looked into those dark eyes that were so supportive and caring. Bianca was saying her name and stroking her cheek, coaxing her to speak, to continue what she was going to say and Kendall knew she shouldn't, she knew she should keep her secrets but all the same, she found herself saying, "I've always felt like Miranda was ours somehow. I don't know why, maybe because you decided to have her thanks to me, maybe because I was with you all that time during the pregnancy, lamaze classes, your tests, and the hospital, but I felt like she was our baby. Yours and mine."

No response and Kendall started to sit up, to move away, and Bianca was suddenly there, holding her close. Her breath was warm on Kendall's skin and she felt the wet drop of Bianca's tears as she said, her voice rough and raw with emotion, "I wish she was yours. I don’t want to tell her who her father is but one day I'm going to have to and I wish that wasn't true. I wish I could tell her she was ours because he's not the reason I have her, you are, and that’s what really counts."

"I had all these plans for when she was born," divulged Kendall, forming a shaky smile as Bianca gazed at her. "Including a way for me to sneakily move in with you to help take care of her."

"Sneakily move in?" repeated Bianca, laughing. "How does that work?"

"Well," Kendall drawled, shifting in Bianca's lap and grinning up at her. "The first step is to constantly sleep over on babysitting jobs or just because you want some quality Binks and Mimo time, then slowly bring your belongings with you one by one until suddenly all of your worldly goods happen to be in that house you keep visiting so wouldn't it just be easier to move in?"

"Very clever," complimented Bianca, a twinkle in her eyes.

"And sneaky," added Kendall, looking pleased with herself and her long forgotten plan. Looking at Bianca, she thought back to that time, when she was frantic and couldn't find Bianca, discovering her car had been swept up in the flood. She was sure she would die if she lost Bianca and Miranda and when Ryan came into that hospital with the broken incubator and she thought that Miranda was gone and she knew she had to tell Bianca, it was the worst moment in her life, only eclipsed by Spike's kidnapping, when she didn't know where her little boy was and if she would ever see him again. Countless times Kendall wished she had never left Bianca alone, that she stayed with her, taken care of her, made sure she never got into that car with Babe. These thoughts consuming her, Kendall murmured, "I should have been there to keep you safe."

"Kendall," Bianca whispered her name, looking at her with dark and worried eyes. "It's not your fault."

"If I was with you none of it would have happened," said Kendall fiercely and her jaw set into a hard line. "You never would have lost Miranda for all those months, trying to live with the thought your baby was dead. In the end, I tried to get along with Babe and I did for the most part but I don’t think I ever stopped hating her for what she did."

Bianca didn't respond, she simply looked at Kendall, a quiet understanding in her gaze and her fingers stretched out, across Kendall's cheek, caressing it lightly and she said in a far off confession, "I'm still afraid sometimes. That she'll be taken away, her and Gabrielle. I hate myself for taking them from Reese when we had our problems but I needed space, time to think, to stop being so angry with her so I could see things clearly and she couldn't be there for that. I still hate myself though because I know what that feels like, having your child taken from you, it's the most awful feeling in the world and it never goes away. Not even when you have them back because you're constantly worried, in the back of your mind, that it could happen again."

In a smooth movement, Kendall adjusted into a sitting position, not a space between her and Bianca and she reached out, placing her hand at the elegant line of Bianca's neck, feeling the pulse beneath her thumb, her fingertips tangling into wavy dark hair. "I'd do anything to take that feeling away," said Kendall soft and solemn.

"I know," said Bianca, a wan smile forming on her features, her head dipping down, forehead resting against Kendall's as they looked into each others eyes. Finding a strength there, a reassurance, she sighed and repeated, "I know."

---

Kendall had managed to snag the larger and more comfortable bed which is why they settled into her room after breakfast. They both embraced a definite lazy ease together, remaining in their pajamas, and Kendall was snuggled underneath her fluffy covers as she flipped through yet another romance novel she had found lying about the cabin. Apparently whoever rented it last was a fan of the genre and not particularly attentive to their personal belongings.

Knight Moves by Jamaica Layne was a disaster of a book, enough that Bianca was actively protesting her sister's torturous need to read parts of it to her but Kendall was far too amused by the horrible writing to stop and Bianca, despite her complaints, didn't even contemplate simply leaving Kendall's room to cease being exposed to the terrible literature. To be honest, the thought never entered her mind, she was having such fun taking in the cheerful smile and the clear delight on Kendall's features that made it worthwhile even if the book was painfully bad on a level she hadn't experienced before.

Wandering over to the large bay windows, Bianca kneeled on the window seat and peered outside, she noted, "I can actually see the snow plow. Maybe you should call your best friend at the resort and find out if the road will be cleared by tomorrow."

"I already tried and got his voicemail. I think he's avoiding my phone calls," Kendall said in laconic tones. "Oh god, Binks," she burst into laughter, scooting over to the edge of the bed and lying on her stomach. "I don't care what you say, this book is so bad it's brilliant. I'm taking it with me when we leave. I have to show it to Greenlee."

"I'm sure she'll appreciate that," said Bianca wryly. "She just gets her memory back and you torment her with bad romance."

"Trust me, Greenlee loves this kind of thing," insisted Kendall.

"If you say so," replied Bianca skeptically. She turned to look at Kendall who was gazing at her with puppy dog eyes all too similar to the ones Miranda formed when she wanted something and she sighed heavily. It was awful, really it was, she could never say no to that look and she just knew it had to have been inherited. "Go ahead," she said, sitting down on the window seat and looking at Kendall with an doting expression filled with quiet affection. "I know you want to read it."

Grinning triumphantly, Kendall cleared her throat then read, barely able to contain her own amusement, "The walls of my vag vibrate and pulse at warp speed, and my labia are so swollen, they pound out a drumbeat as they slap up and down against the length of Lord Verdigris’ cock." Putting the book down, Kendall stared expectantly at Bianca who stared right back then blinked, causing Kendall to burst into laughter as she said, "It's the most unappealing sex description ever, isn't it?"

"It certainly isn't attractive," said Bianca, forming a look of distaste. "I thought erotica was supposed to be erotic?"

"Apparently not always," Kendall remarked, going back to flipping through the book.

After a few minutes, her eyes went wide and Bianca gave an internal noise of resignation, knowing she was about to hear another horrible excerpt. Deciding she should at least be warm as she was being tortured, Bianca stood up and walked over to the bed, slipping under the covers and lying next to Kendall. "What did you find now?" Bianca asked. "Don't tell me they're using ye olde sex toys?"

"He kidnapped her using a time traveling toilet, Binks, I'm sure they have modern toys," Kendall scoffed and Bianca rolled her eyes. "Nope," she drawled, pushing the book towards Bianca. "I've found the obligatory lesbian sex scene."

"Wonderful," said Bianca dryly, her eyes going over the passage. A snort of laughter escaping her, Bianca felt compelled to share, knowing Kendall would appreciate the gesture. "Just when I think it can’t get any more intense, Mabel plunges her arm into me well past her wrist… I’ve got ladyfingers stuck up both ends. And I’m loving it." Turning to Kendall whose smile was crooked and growing larger by the second, Bianca said drolly, "That is not representative of any lesbian sex I've ever had. Something I find myself grateful for."

"No ladyfingers plunged up any ends for Reese, huh?" asked Kendall, squealing when Bianca grabbed a nearby pillow and whapped her on the head with it. Reaching for a pillow of her own, Kendall returned the favor and they descended into an all out pillow fight which ended when Kendall gleefully piled three pillows onto a protesting Bianca as she sat on her stomach. She stayed in this position, looking down at the younger woman whose cheeks were flushed in a most attractive manner and a great swell of affection seized her. Pushing a lock of hair out of Bianca's eyes, Kendall said quietly, "I don't think I ever did that before."

"What?" asked Bianca. "Had a pillow fight? Didn't you ever have sleepovers?"

"No," said Kendall, her eyes clouding over as she recalled it. "I never really had any girlfriends growing up. After elementary school all the girls seemed to hate me," Kendall admitted. "Greenlee was the first real female friend I've ever had."

"They were jealous," said Bianca firmly, entwining her fingers with Kendall's.

"Maybe," said Kendall though she didn't really believe this. Even as a child she had been too abrasive, too confident, just too everything. She knew she should try and pull back, to restrain herself a little, but it was so hard. Her instinct was to pursue whatever she wanted in life with everything she had until she achieved her goal even if this put people off or made them dislike her because if they did, they weren't worth her time anyway. Doing this drove so many people away, that and her insecurity, her constant need to test the people she was with to find out if they really loved her and she did it to everyone. Even Bianca, she was doing it to her now and she knew it was wrong, it wasn't healthy but she couldn't seem to stop. Sliding off of the younger woman, Kendall lay down on her back, staring up at the ceiling, her gaze contemplative. "What should we do once they dig us out?"

"I don't know," said Bianca thoughtfully. "I haven't even looked at the brochure."

Turning her head to study Bianca's pale features, Kendall murmured, "I kind of like what we've been doing."

Imitating the gesture, a sweet smile forming on her face, Bianca replied, "Me too."

"I've never wanted to go flying down a hill on two tiny sticks," Kendall said humorously. "I'm crazy but not suicidal."

"Skiing does seem a bit on the death sport side," Bianca laughed warmly. "Kendall," she said her name softly, scooting closer and moving to touch her face lightly. "I'm glad we came here. I've missed being with you. Life doesn't seem right without you there."

These admissions, they came so easily from Bianca, that was why Kendall loved her. Bianca was everything she wasn't, she was sweet and she was trusting and she was kind. She represented everything Kendall wished she could be and once upon a time that made her jealous, that made her resentful, that made her hate but now she just loved her for it. Loved her with an ardor that frightened her at times because she knew her attachment to her sister wasn't healthy but she couldn't rid herself of it all the same, no matter how hard she tried. A year passed since she found out about Gabrielle and all that time she'd been attempting to eradicate those feelings and only succeeded in making herself and Bianca miserable in the process. Kendall was trying to fight it, trying to hold back, to keep herself safe, to protect herself from this love that had hurt her so very badly, worse than anything else before, but she couldn't and she honestly wasn't sure that she really wanted to in the first place.

"I missed you too," Kendall said in a hush, covering Bianca's hand with her own. "So much."

---

Bianca wanted to ask her something, Kendall knew this. She could tell by the way Bianca kept looking up at her every few minutes with those dark eyes that were careful and cautious as if she was trying to figure out some way to silently discover the answer without having to ever voice question. Ten then fifteen minutes passed and Kendall came to the conclusion that Bianca wasn't going to say anything so she would have to do it herself. Saying Bianca's name, she couldn't help the wave of affection she felt on seeing those dark eyes go wide with surprise. A grin tugging at her lips, she murmured, "Just ask me."

"How did you know?" questioned Bianca, frowning lightly, genuinely confused as to how Kendall knew she wanted to ask her something. This was an odd ability those closest to her seemed to have. Her mother, Kendall, Reese. It was perplexing.

"You're not good at hiding things, Binks," said Kendall fondly. "What did you want to ask?"

"I didn't want to ask anything really," said Bianca slowly. "I just wanted to… I mean," Bianca paused, studying Kendall with an imploring gaze that to Kendall seemed to beg, looking at her hopefully. "I think we're back to where we used to be. Before I ruined things, made you stop trusting me. I just wanted to know if you think the same thing."

Back to where they used to be, the words echoed in her mind, and Kendall felt a sense of panic grab her because she realized that Bianca was right. That was happening, they were going in that direction, they had been ever since the snowstorm, when she had been forced to spend time with Bianca because she had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and Kendall somehow knew it would happen, that's why she distanced herself from Bianca and avoided contact with her. It was impossible for Kendall to stay angry with Bianca when she was with her, not when she could see her sorrow and regret, and witness the love in her eyes. There was no way for her to hold onto the anger with that confronting her daily but the hurt still lurked beneath the surface along with the fear of this happening again, believing in Bianca, having faith in her, only to find herself crushed by it.

"Kendall," Bianca said her name worriedly. "What's wrong?"

"We'll talk after dinner," said Kendall, her jaw setting and her gaze veiled.

What did Kendall want to talk about? That was what occupied Bianca's thoughts they finished dinner. She was positive all their problems came from the issue of Zach being the donor for Gabrielle. How she kept it from Kendall, how she didn't consider her feelings or just outright ignored them due to her own selfishness. These past few days they bonded again, talked about feelings they kept hidden and secret and it made Bianca feel so very good because it reminded her of how they used to be. Kendall was the person dearest to her, she had been ever since the rape, and it hurt so very badly to lose the bond she had with her and know she was the one responsible. Bianca didn't know what Kendall wanted to tell her, she feared that she was going to say she didn't feel the same, that she would tell her once again their connection was forever broken by what she did, that their relationship could never recover and if she said this Bianca didn't know what she would do or how she would cope.

For over a year now, ever since she became pregnant with Gabrielle, she had this guilt that wouldn't go away. This sense of loathing that she couldn't rid herself of because of what she did, of what she kept from Kendall, someone who had done so much for her, who had taken care of her so well, and loved her endlessly. Bianca hated that she hurt her out of selfishness she would do anything, anything, to make it right but first Kendall had to tell her how she could do this.

It probably wasn't the smartest thing but Bianca got one of the bottles of wine and they shared it over dinner. When they were done eating, Kendall promptly found another bottle, and soon it was half empty as they made their way back into the living room. Her dark eyes lidded and anxious, she watched Kendall set the glass of wine down and start another fire. Slowly she approached the older woman, sitting next to her at the fireplace. Silence except for the crackling of the fire and Bianca sat and she waited and she watched and she wondered what was going to be said and her stomach felt as if it was tied up in knots.

"When I woke up from my coma, I felt like everything changed," Kendall said distantly, staring into the fire and taking another drink of wine. "Everything was different and I was the same. Finding out about Gabrielle, how you didn't tell me, it didn't make sense to me, it wasn't something I thought you could do. I blamed Zach, I blamed Reese, I blamed everyone but you because I didn't want it to be your fault. I didn't want it to be you who did that to me."

"Kendall," Bianca said her name so brokenly and Kendall turned to her, tilting her head to one side, inspecting her with an almost curious gaze as if she was trying to discern the emotions she was witnessing. "I'm so sorry."

"I know you are," said Kendall, giving a sad hint of a smile. "That's not the thing that hurts though. Don't get me wrong," Kendall snorted and gave a dry laugh, drinking more of the wine. "It hurt to know that my sister would use my husband's sperm to get pregnant and not bother to give me a, 'Hey, what's up? Would this bug you?' over the whole thing but I know I could have eventually gotten past it. Hell, I am past it. Especially after you brought Gabby back to save Ian."

"Then why…" the words died in Bianca's throat. She couldn't say them, she couldn't ask why it seemed like Kendall didn't love her anymore, why their relationship was in shambles. If it wasn't because of the secret she kept, Gabrielle's conception, what else was it? Throughout all the snark and the snipes and the insults she could see how very much Kendall was hurt and she thought it was because of the secret she kept, the lack of consideration she showed, her downright selfishness, but now Kendall was telling her there was something else, something worse than this and Bianca was lost as to what it could be. What else she could have done that would hurt Kendall this badly?

"Why am I so angry? Why did I make anytime we spent together a living hell?" Kendall shot off, one after the other, her voice agitated and clipped. Finishing off the glass of wine in one easy gulp, Kendall set it down on the fireplace and began to pace about the room. "Maybe because I felt betrayed, not really over the secretly use my husband's sperm to create a baby without asking me thing, though that didn't do a whole lot of good, but mostly over the fact that you not telling me makes it pretty obvious the importance I hold in your life. Not that I should be surprised, right?" Laughing bitterly and gesturing at Bianca who remained sitting, staring at her with wide dark eyes, she continued, "I never come first with anyone. Not with mother, not with Zach, not with Ryan, not with anyone. For awhile though," Kendall shook her finger at Bianca, a twisted smile on her face. "For awhile I thought I came first with you, Binks. I was sure of it. I mean, we'd gone through so much together. The rape, your pregnancy, the murder trial, and when we thought we lost Miranda, god, it nearly killed us both, didn't it? I sure as hell went insane for awhile."

This wasn't what Bianca expected if she expected anything at all but it made sense. It was awful, horrible, it made her sick to hear it but it made sense. She finally understood why Kendall remained angry, even after Gabrielle's bone marrow saved Ian and she accepted the bond that existed between Gabrielle and Zach, why she stayed angry after her divorce, why she couldn't move on and why they couldn't return to how they once were. Kendall had put her faith, her trust, in their relationship and her importance to Bianca and she betrayed that and that's what hurt her so much.

"When I found out I was adopted, it clicked," Kendall continued to walk about the room, inspecting the little knick knacks, and avoiding Bianca's gaze. "Why I never felt right with the Harts and then I went to see Erica. I don't know what I expected, maybe to be accepted, to finally feel like I belonged somewhere with someone? But it didn't happen and then I learned where I came from, that Richard Fields had raped our mother and I was the wonderful result. I hated myself." Turning to look at Bianca, her eyes hard and flinty, Kendall repeated, "I hated myself for years and I wondered what was the point of me even being alive? I caused nothing but trouble, I was a source of constant pain, and then I brought Michael into town. It started all over again, the legacy of rape and it was because of me, it was my fault, I brought him into Pine Valley but you didn't blame me. You loved me and you loved your baby and you kept that baby because of me and I loved you so much for that, Bianca. I would have done anything for you because you were the first person to really accept me, who loved me no matter what, and I put you ahead of everyone until I had Spike and Ian because I thought you would always be there for me. I was sure you would put me first just like I had done for you. Obviously," Kendall released a bark of laughter and shook her head. "That isn't the case."

"You are so important to me," Bianca insisted and her body was at last able to move, she had been inexplicably frozen while Kendall was speaking, unable to get past the pain in the other woman's voice. "Kendall, you stood by me during the worst time in my life, you put me back together again, and I love you so much. I trust you with things that I don't think I could with anyone else and I know I hurt you--"

"It's not that," interrupted Kendall, shaking her head again. "You don't get it, Binks. You made a mistake, you hurt me, fine, I can deal and I can get over it. I've made plenty of mistakes in my own time but it's the fact that this whole thing with Gabby and how she was conceived proves you don't love me like I love you. Before all this, if I had to choose between you and Zach, I would have gone with you, every time. Always you over anyone I was with because I loved you absolutely and I thought you felt the same about me, that's why I felt safe with you, why I trusted you more than anyone. But you keeping that secret from me just to keep up your illusion of a perfect life with Reese, that tells me you care for her more. That she's your priority and you know what? Fine!" Kendall exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air and pacing agitatedly. "That's how it should be, right? You should care the most about the person you're with romantically, not your sister, you have it right and I have it wrong just like always and I accept that. There's nothing wrong with it but I can't help that it hurts me, okay? And I can't let go of that no matter how much I want to because it just hurts too much to know I never come first, not even with you."

Everything was wrong, it was so very wrong, and Bianca didn't know how to make it right. She didn't know how her priorities were supposed to line up. Should she love Reese more than Kendall? Put her first? If she should, she knew she didn't. When Kendall woke up from her coma, when Reese was having all those difficulties with her family, Bianca chose Kendall over Reese again and again. Reese thought it came from her feeling guilty over keeping Gabrielle's conception a secret but Bianca knew better, some of it was guilt but mostly it was love for Kendall. People constantly let her down, all of her partners romantically had done something at some time to hurt her, whether they intended to or not, and Kendall was always there to pick up the pieces. Kendall always stood by her and Bianca knew she loved her more than anyone save her own children. How Kendall felt for her was the same as how she felt for Kendall and to know she damaged their relationship to the point where Kendall no longer believed this, had faith in her, in her love, was devastating to Bianca.

Tears were blurring her vision and she couldn't see, Bianca could barely make out Kendall's frame as she walked over to the other woman. "Kendall," she said her name in a soft sob, a desperate plea. "That's not true. You do come first with me, I know I hurt you, I know I was selfish, and it doesn't seem like that's the truth but it is. You're so important to me, more important than anyone, and I would do anything to fix this. Please," Bianca was pleading, standing at Kendall's side. "What do I need to do?" Shaking her head, Kendall was shaking her head again, and she started to exit the room but Bianca wouldn't let allow this, her hand flew out, clasping the taller woman's arm, preventing her escape and she repeated, "What do I need to do to prove it?"

There was a rushing in her ears, like the sound of a tidal wave falling, and Kendall knew she wasn't in control. Countless times throughout the years she had this sensation, where her emotions took hold, and it was her heart over her mind and it never led to anything good, anything sane, on her part but she never could contain herself when this happened. It was like having an out of body experience in a way because Kendall could see herself acting like she was an outside party there to observe but helpless to do anything to stop her own actions.

That's exactly how it felt when she kissed Bianca, like someone else was doing it. This shouldn't feel good, this shouldn't feel natural, that's what Kendall was thinking as the kiss went on but it did, it felt so effortless and there was that lack of control, that tide of emotion falling over her. Then she heard Bianca moan, low and in the back of her throat, as the kiss became more fervent and she felt cool hands slip around her waist, pulling her closer. Was this what she wanted? What she needed? Was this the proof of Bianca's love she needed so very much? Certainly it felt like it, especially as Bianca's tongue slipped out to meet hers, tasting deep and Kendall sighed, no longer caring if anyone thought this was wrong because it felt so very right.

Until they separated, Bianca's breath coming in harsh gasps and Kendall felt that rushing sound drift away and her mind was her own and she looked at her sister, horrified at what she had done. For Kendall it felt so good, so right, but Bianca, what was it for her? She forced it on her didn't she? Forced her just like Michael had and nausea swept through Kendall and she covered her mouth with her hand as she backed away, looking at Bianca with eyes filled with apology and self-hatred.

"Bianca," Kendall said her name in a whisper, dropping her hand from her mouth, shaking her head in a frantic denial, her expression wounded and voice laced with regret. "I'm sorry… I'm sorry!"

Kendall was running again and Bianca was too shocked to run after her. She watched her sister flee the room and she didn't know what went on at first. The kiss, it happened so suddenly, and she didn't know what to think, what it meant, but she did know that look on Kendall's face all too well. It was Kendall blaming herself, hating herself, and Bianca couldn't let that continue, not when she didn't think it was warranted. No one had kissed her like that before, not Frankie, not Lena, not Maggie, not Reese, no one. There was such desperation, like the love couldn't be repressed any longer and it all came spilling out and Bianca accepted it whole heartedly, just like she accepted it was what Kendall needed and it was what Bianca wanted to give her.

Up the stairs, knocking on the door, calling Kendall's name, begging for her to open the door, but no response, nothing, her voice rising, kicking at the door and cursing as a sharp pain emerged in her foot. That's when the door opened and she was hopping, holding her foot and Kendall was in front of her, eyes wide on seeing her and she was down on her knees, holding Bianca's foot in her hand and looking up at her with a wry but concerned expression.

"What the hell did you do to yourself?" asked Kendall, rubbing Bianca's foot and gingerly placing it on the floor.

"You wouldn't open the door so I kicked it," said Bianca, feeling altogether foolish, a blush heating her cheeks. Sinking down on the floor with the older woman, she reached out to her, touching her cheek as she murmured, "Kendall--"

"I'm sorry," Kendall cut her off, avoiding Bianca's gaze, her tones filled with a loathing Bianca couldn't bear hearing.

Before Kendall could say anything more, Bianca surged forward, capturing her lips for another kiss, this one was slow and sweet, and filled with such love and acceptance that Kendall wanted to cry at it, she never experienced anything like this before. She felt Bianca's hands at her waist, pulling her forward and she was in the younger woman's lap and Bianca was kissing her with such detail and devotion that Kendall became lost in it the sensation, in the sheer emotion, of the moment and she was crying, tears falling down her face when they parted, tears that Bianca wiped away with a look of concern.

"Don't cry," Bianca said anxiously in a pleading hush. "Please, don't cry. I didn't mean to upset you."

"You didn't," said Kendall, shaking her head, tears reflected in her voice and shining in her eyes. Looking away from Bianca, wearing an ashamed expression on her features, Kendall said, "It's me… I forced you and now you're doing this and it's not because you want to it's because you think you have to so I'll forgive you and I do forgive you, Binks. You don't need to do this to fix things between us so lets just forget it ever happened, okay?" Kendall said this last part with such strength, beseeching Bianca to understand and Bianca did understand, she knew where this was coming from, she just didn't agree.

"No," Bianca breathed as she held Kendall's face in her hands, tenderly stroking her cheeks with the pads of her thumbs. "I don't want to forget this, Kendall. What I want is this."

They were kissing again, one kiss leading into another, each kiss was stronger than the last, full of more intensity and more emotion, and Kendall felt herself swept up in it again and she knew it shouldn't feel this good. She knew it shouldn't but it did and there wasn't anything she could do to stop it, she could push Bianca away but she didn't want to do that, she wanted to keep this feeling, yield to this sensation, give into the emotions sweeping through her. Emotions that Bianca had caused in her for years now, emotions she denied, pushed away, and Kendall finally surrendered to them, returning these kisses, moving closer to Bianca, her fingers tangling in wavy black hair. On and on it went and they were standing, Kendall pulling Bianca to her feet, still kissing while they moved into her bedroom, backwards they fell onto the bed, not a space between their bodies.

A dream or a daze, that's what it seemed like they were in, some other worldly place Kendall couldn't quite comprehend nor explain and normally this would have frightened her, put her on edge, made her defensive but this was Bianca and despite her anger and her hurt, she couldn't help trusting Bianca. It was like second nature to her, instinct, and she yielded to it along with the tide of emotions Bianca's touch created. Piece by piece, their clothing was removed and they were naked, skin on skin, and Kendall gasped at the feeling, it was so much, almost too much, but it was comforting all the same and she had this feeling that this was right, this was how they were meant to be, that continued on as Bianca nudged a leg in between hers, capturing her lips in another kiss that was slow and sweet and utterly perfect.

Bianca was so very gentle with her, every touch, every kiss, was tender and Kendall could feel the love that Bianca had for her, she could feel it as a pale hand slipped down, playing at the outside of her pussy. She gasped, arching into the younger woman as Bianca slipped her fingers inside, her thumb pressing lightly on her clit, moving in circles as her fingers moved in a steady rhythm and Kendall squeezed her eyes shut. Why did it feel this good? It shouldn't feel this good, it shouldn't be better than the men she was with, it shouldn't but it was and Kendall knew that she should feel guilty, she should hate herself for it, for wanting this so much, for enjoying it so much, but she couldn't, she just couldn't, not when it felt this good.

Sharp and fast, that was how her first orgasm struck, and Kendall was trembling in Bianca's arms, moaning when nimble fingers moved from her pussy and she felt Bianca's hair, soft and silken on her thigh as her head moved down. Soft and teasing, that was how Bianca sucked on her clit then she flattened her tongue for a long lick at Kendall's pussy. She took her time to taste and explore and Kendall moaned, her fingers tangling in Bianca's hair, encouraging her on, pushing her closer, and another orgasm seized her, body shaking and she felt melted on the inside, as if everything was perfect in the world because in this moment, for Kendall, it was perfect. How long had she wanted this, Kendall wondered, smiling as Bianca slid up her body, pulling the other woman forward and capturing her lips in a fierce kiss. It wasn't anything she had been consciously aware of but she must have wanted it for a very long time by the way she was reacting, how there wasn't any hesitation, any doubt, in her mind. Just an overpowering need to be close to Bianca, to show her how much she loved her in every way possible.

Their eyes locked and she could see it, she could finally see the truth of it there, that Bianca did love her the same way and it made her want to cry to realize that she did come first with someone. She came first with Bianca which was all that Kendall ever wanted, all she ever needed, and kissing her again, tears falling down her face, Kendall murmured against her lips, "I love you."

Those words, they were whispered back, Kendall felt them, she felt them formed against her lips just she felt Bianca's smile and heard her laugh and took in her sighs and the way she moved into her touch and it was perfect, so very perfect. Moving on instinct and desire, Kendall slid her hand down, and she asked Bianca if it was all right, asked what she wanted, and she heard the other woman say the word you and no one had ever said that to her before. No one had ever said that she was all they wanted, but Bianca had and Kendall believed it and she couldn't stop crying, not even as she moaned at the slick feeling of Bianca's pussy around her fingers, surrounding her in warmth and desire. Slowly she thrust her fingers in and out, leaning forward, kissing Bianca hard, taking in her gasps and moans for her own, delighting in them because they were further proof of the love they shared.

Somehow time lost all meaning and Kendall didn't know how many minutes, hours, passed when Bianca climaxed, her back raised off the bed as she came, body taut and trembling, and when she relaxed, lowering onto the bed, she wrapped her arms around Kendall, holding her close, not a space in between them as they drifted into unconsciousness.

---

The next day the road was cleared and Bianca woke up to an empty bed.

Utterly numb was how Bianca felt as she wandered throughout the cabin, each empty room bringing back memories of the time she spent with Kendall and she wondered if things were completely ruined. Wrecked beyond all comprehension because of what she did. What possessed her, she honestly didn't know but when Kendall kissed her, when she saw that all encompassing need in her eyes, that broken desire for acceptance, Bianca knew she had to respond. It was twisted, she knew that, but it felt so right in that moment and she thought it was what Kendall wanted, what she needed, but now she was gone and it was clear to Bianca she was wrong in her assumptions and thanks to that she had lost her sister.

Going through the motions after she confirmed that she was alone, that Kendall had left her, Bianca showered and dressed, walking downstairs and sitting at the fireplace where they had spent so much of their time. She didn't try to make a fire, that was what Kendall always did, her special job at the cabin since she didn't exactly enjoy cooking nor had the best luck at it. Staring at the ashes, Bianca thought with a grim sort of humor it was like their relationship now, burnt to a cinder.

It shouldn't have felt right, Bianca knew that. She knew what people would think if they knew what happened. How their mother would be disgusted and horrified to know what they had done but despite that it had felt right. Hearing Kendall's moans, responding to her kisses, feeling her touch, all of it felt right and Bianca knew it shouldn't be like that but it was and she knew she cheated on Reese but it didn't feel that way when she was with Kendall.

People held different positions in your life, places in your heart, and Bianca felt the same as Kendall, that her sister was above the people she was with romantically because she was always there for her no matter what. The entire reason she kept her plan to have a second child with Reese a secret was the lurking sense of Kendall's disapproval and she would have followed her advice and it would have taken her from that perfect dream world she had in France and Bianca didn't want that. So she kept quiet, she kept a secret from her sister, from the person she loved best and it nearly destroyed their relationship.

Things seemed like they were coming back together in this cabin though and then last night, Bianca finally learned the truth, why Kendall had been so angry, so hurt, for so very long and she understood it. She understood because she felt the same way and it crushed her to know she caused so much unnecessary pain for Kendall out of her own selfishness. Maybe that's why Kendall left, maybe last night was just another selfish act on her part, trying to force that bond onto Kendall again with sex to deepen the connection. That's not how it felt at the time but maybe that's what she had been doing.

A creaking sound, like something out of a horror movie removed Bianca from her daze and she was on her feet, standing in the center of the room as Kendall walked into the cabin, snowflakes covering her head and coat and clumps of snow falling from her boots onto the floor. She set her suitcase down and reached backwards, shutting the door behind her. Quiet, it was so very quiet as Kendall walked forward and Bianca dimly wondered if she was going to slap her, certainly she felt like she deserved it.

"I couldn't leave," Kendall said in a whisper. "I couldn't leave you. Not like that."

"Kendall," Bianca said her name brokenly, tears shining her eyes, apologies on her lips.

"Shhh," Kendall hushed and she was standing in front of Bianca, looking at her with a tormented gaze. "I know you probably hate me for what happened but I wanted you to know I don't regret it." Her hand shook like a leaf as it lifted, cupping Bianca's cheek, caressing her skin and Kendall murmured, "Everyone else would say it wasn't right, what happened, what we did, but it felt right to me and I know you probably don't feel the same way but--"

Unable to hear anymore recriminations and doubts, Bianca rose up, interrupting with a kiss, her fingers tangling in Kendall's curly brown hair and her body pressing up against the taller woman's. Kendall felt tears prick at her eyes because she could feel that same acceptance, that same love, from last night and with it she knew that for once she was finally first.

End