Fandom: All My Children
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters
Summary: Bianca visits someone she hasn’t seen in a long time, and it changes everything. This takes place after the ABC finale but completely ignores the AMC reboot.
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Bianca carefully tread across the icy snow-tipped grass. It was a bitterly cold afternoon. Far colder than it normally was in Pennsylvania. Yes, they could have snowy winters, but today it felt like the thermometers were dipping far below the freezing point, perhaps even into the negative digits. Her face stung from the biting wind, and her body shivered underneath the layers of wool she’d donned for the short trek out.
She couldn’t even say why she was out here. Every other person in Pine Valley was warmly snuggled indoors, sipping cups of steaming coffee or sitting in front of a roaring fire. Not out traipsing across the frozen tundra. But, something inside of Bianca told her she needed to do this. She had to brave the harsh conditions, temperatures be damned. Cuddled on the couch in her sister’s home, watching Miranda and Gabrielle play with their cousins, the undeniable feeling…no not a feeling, it was more than that…the undeniable need crawled up her spine and dove into her nerve-endings. There was no fighting it. It was an itch that called to be scratched, a craving that would not disappear until it was fulfilled.
It only took a quick shout to Kendall that she needed to step out and if she could watch the girls, and Bianca was out the door, the buttons of her coat only half done up as she turned the ignition in the car and sped off.
The frost crunched beneath her boots with a firm crack. Each step sounded the call. Crack. Crack. Crack. All alone, Bianca listened to the cadence. For a brief moment, her mind turned to rice crispies. Snap. Crackle. Pop. Her youngest daughter loved the cereal. She would giggle every time the milk splashed into the bowl, causing the food to make funny noises. It was Gabrielle’s favorite food. Strangely enough, Miranda wouldn’t eat it. She always made sure to grab a box for her little sister when they went shopping, but she wouldn’t touch the stuff.
For some reason, she would only eat captain crunch.
Bianca shook her head. Her small family had quite differing appetites when it came to breakfast foods. Miranda had a huge sweet tooth, which everyone blamed on Bianca’s tendency to bake. Bianca herself liked a dessert and treat from time to time, but Miranda was working towards spending all her inheritance on future dentist bills. Eclairs, chocolate croissants, ice cream, waffles, if it had sugar, she would ask for it. Gabrielle, on the other hand, rarely ate sweet foods. She would have a piece of cake at a birthday party or a bite of her sister’s sundae at the ice cream parlor, but she never sought out the pastries the way her older sibling did. She was perfectly happy with her glass of milk and a bowl of rice crispy cereal. Sometimes she wanted a small bite of egg or a piece of toast with butter, but other than that, she wasn’t clambering for waffles, while Bianca prepared her coffee, the way Miranda did. Being a single mother and corporate executive, Bianca more than once found her breakfast to be a cup of coffee, and, if she were lucky, the hot beverage would be sipped from a mug in her kitchen instead of in a thermos on the way to the office.
The heel of her left boot clipped a small rock hidden under the white fluff, causing the tall woman to stumble slightly. She swiftly caught her balance, arms spreading out like wings to steady herself. She glanced down, inhaling the glacial air. It burned as it went into her lungs. Burned like the scotch she rarely partook in but kept a bottle of in her office in case she needed to woo a grumbling vice president into following her plan for the company. Not many executives twice her age liked being told what to do by someone they saw as a young American girl with a nice face and nowhere near the experience they had. But, after a few fingers of the amber liquid, they were more amendable to being ordered around, as long as that order was masked behind skillful leadership. Surprisingly, it was a task Bianca was quite good at. Her lips quirked as she recalled her first foray into the business world. When she was just starting college and agreed to help her mother at Enchantment. She didn’t think she would be able to do it. She was nervous and frazzled as could be the night before.
Maggie helped her get through it. She played the role of best friend and helped calm her down.
And she did so by mentioning Frankie. More than once.
Her bottom lip slipped beneath her teeth, the edges of her pearly whites indenting the pliable flesh. Frankie. How long had it been since she thought of that name? Since she recalled the girl it belonged to? Her mind instantly filled with images. Shielded brown eyes that softened to mush and slowly opened up whenever they landed on her. The street tough voice. Aces. Frankie always liked to say things were aces when it was good. No one else ever said that. No, one person said it. A stray voice in the middle of a carnival Bianca went to when she was still in college and was dating Lena. Bianca had gone with a couple of friends from class and the LGBT group on campus. Standing near the Ferris wheel, waiting for her turn, a voice out in the bustle of people shouted “Aces!” Bianca had spun around so fast she nearly fell. Her eyes scanned the people, but she never saw who said it. It didn’t matter, it couldn’t have been who she thought it was. Frankie was dead.
Didn’t mean her heart didn’t skip a beat when she heard the word.
Bianca chewed on her lip, lost in thought. She didn’t even notice her feet had stopped moving until the loss of crunching snow registered in her ear. Brows knitting, she looked around her.
Her breath caught in her throat as she spotted the granite before her.
She bit down harder on her lip, silently reading the words carved into the rock.
Mary Francis “Frankie” Stone
Her chest rose and fell with a long drawn out breath. This. This was what called out to her. She didn’t even know this was where she was going until she ended up there.
Opening her mouth, no sound came out. She pursed her lips. Her hand, red from the cold, rose to her forehead, rubbing her temple before pushing her long dark locks back. She stared at the stone, reading the name but not really taking it in.
The first tear slid down her cheek with an emotional blink.
It all came back. Hot and fast. The agonizing crippling pain tore at her chest. The ache worse than a heart attack. Worse than a fist ripping into her skin and clawing at her soul. She was paralyzed. Her legs numbed, and her arms were heavier than steel.
“Oh god, Frankie.”
The choked whisper hovered in the air. Frozen.
Yet, it brought Bianca back to life.
She fell to her knees. Snow soaked through the denim of her jeans, but she didn’t care. She didn’t even notice it.
“Frankie,” her unsteady hand reached out. Tenderly, she traced each letter that spelled out her lost lover’s name. A sob lumped in her throat, but it never fought to break out. Another tear cascaded down her cheek, and water dotted her eyelashes, but she didn’t weep.
How could she when the unbearable pain was being replaced by sheer joy?
Sniffling, wobbly lips formed a tiny pure smile, “Hey.” Her hand flattened on the granite. She didn’t even blink at the unnatural warmth that met her palm. The warmth that reminded her of two hands meeting, touching.
She breathed in, smile growing, “Look at you, always messy.” Her other hand swept the snow from the top of the headstone, cleaning it off. There was a small mud stain near the end of Stone, and she licked her thumb, rubbing it off. “You cleaned up really nicely whenever you’d take the time, you know.”
She swallowed thickly, happiness building in her. She was where she needed to be. She needed to be with Frankie. “I am sorry I’ve been away for so long. I…” she paused. What could she say? A light chuckle, “it sounds dumb but I’ve been busy.” She caressed the smooth surface, “You probably already know all about that, don’t you? I bet you’re up in heaven right now watching me, wondering why I’m acting like a nut being out here in the cold while everyone else is inside. Well, I wanted to see you, so you’re going to have to deal with it.”
Bianca scooted a bit closer to the headstone, her body leaning into it, nestling into the hard rock as if it were a welcoming embrace. “Things are finally starting to settle down. Miranda is doing well in school and doesn’t miss Paris as much as she had been. I know she wants to go back, but she is ok if we stay in Pine Valley a bit longer. Gabby is growing up so fast. She’s so smart, just like her sister. I’m pretty sure they’re going to grow up and take over the world.” She exhaled, “I’m single again. It didn’t work out with Marissa.” A smirk crossed her face, “I know what you thought about her, but she was a nice girl. She was really good with the kids…” her eyes rolled as Frankie’s feelings on the subject infused her, “and you thought she was completely boring and that I was playing it safe. I know, Franks, but it’s not like I have that many options and I really did like her.” Her finger trailed down the stone, “It wasn’t all crazy passion and exploding fireworks, but sometimes that’s not what I need. Sometimes I just want…Frankie, come on. I know she’s not the type of person you think I should be with, but it was good while it lasted.”
“Yes, I know we didn’t last because we didn’t have that sort of spark, but not every relationship has that.” She chuckled, “We had plenty of it to cover a couple relationships, honey.” Her smile softened, “We were young and in love. Nothing will ever be like we were. It’s not like I’m going to meet some con artist because my mom hit her with a car that turns out to be the love of my life again.” Her smile faltered, “You were the love of my life. It might seem crazy saying someone I only knew for a few months when I was a teenager was the one for me, but since it was you, I think you’re ok with me saying it.”
Her shoulder pressed into the granite, “Did you see Gabby and Miranda build that snowman yesterday? I’m sure you were watching. You probably even had a hand in Miranda throwing that snowball. She’s usually so well behaved. They’re growing up so fast. I almost don’t want them to get any older. I don’t even want to think about when they go to high school and start dating. I’ll have to ask their Uncle Reggie to come over and meet whoever they bring home.” She laughed, “I’m sure you would scare potential suitors away easily. Frankie…oh, you were thinking about when we were dating?” Her eyebrow rose playfully, “I know you snuck into my bedroom a couple times late at night. We can’t tell the kids that, though, or they’ll call foul. Of course, if we tell anyone, we’d have to tell them you snuck in because you missed me and wanted to hold me. Do you think anyone would believe it wasn’t so we could make love? That it was you being cuddly? Gosh, Franks, you could be so sweet when you wanted to be.”
“I don’t know if we should stay in Pine Valley or not. We have the house here, and the girls are finally settling in, but I left for a reason. So many things happen here. Life wasn’t perfect in Paris, but it was our life. I haven’t told anyone, but I worry about what life will be like for us here. In Paris, we didn’t think about things like…like JR bringing a gun to a party or…or evil aunts attacking their nieces because they fell in love. Maybe it’s wrong, but I still hate Vanessa for what she did to you and Leo. I never want to hate anyone, but I can’t help it with her.” Bianca leaned her head against the warmth, “You think we should go back to Paris, don’t you? Even though it means we’ll be thousands of miles away from you again. My mother and Uncle Jack and everyone else are here, though. Our family is here.” Bianca listened to the words only she could hear, the words she felt deep inside of her, “I know we were happy in Paris. Yes, Frankie, I also know there are things like telephones and email now. I do miss France. I don’t miss my dating record there, but my record is pretty bad wherever I go.”
Her eyes closed, “Do you think we would have worked out? If you weren’t here, but were still with us? Would the two of us still be together? I…I wonder about that. Not all the time. Less as the years pass. I still can’t help but think about what our lives would be like, though. I think we would have made it. It wouldn’t have been easy. We both would have made mistakes and hurt each other. But, we’d be a couple. We’d be in love. The love we shared, that type of love doesn’t end. I still feel it everyday, and I hate it, Frankie. I hate it, and I love it because it means I still have you. In some small way, I won’t ever be completely without you.” She sniffled, “I think we would have a cozy home. We’d be raising Miranda and Gabby together. You’d teach them all sorts of tricks, but you’d also be protective of them. Like you were protective of me when we were teenagers. I think the first boyfriend or girlfriend Miranda brings home, you’d have a harder time dealing with than I would. I’d hold you at night as we lay in bed together. I’d kiss you and tell you I love you every day. You’d surprise me with impromptu lunches and tickets to my favorite play, but you’d always brush it off like it wasn’t a big deal. You would still get that cute blush though whenever I’d thank you. We would grow old together. We would be happy. We’d defy the odds.”
“You always had a good soul, Franks. You were a good person. You are a good person.” Her eyes slowly opened, “I’m going to come back soon, ok? I’m not going to stay away so long this time. I promise.” She pressed a gentle kiss, “I love you. I wish you were here.”
Carefully standing up, jeans a spotty darkened blue from the slush, Bianca crossed her arms. She should get home. Miranda and Gabby would be wondering where she was. Turning around to begin her trek back to the parking lot, she tugged the collar of her coat tighter around her neck. The temperature was plummeting. She hunched in on herself and walked briskly. The crunch of the snow once again hit the air. The wind picked up, swirling and whipping around her like a mini tornado. Snow flicked up around her, and her eyes stung at the biting cold. She had to pause for a moment, unable to even see the wool bunched up beneath her nose. She couldn’t move. Was this a blizzard? As soon as the storm began, it ended. The wind faded away and the snow settled on the ground. The weather became calmer than it had been in days. It even felt like it was warming up a little bit. Not enough to melt the snow, but enough to make a difference. It was as if the sun had finally begun to shine after a long absence. Able to move, Bianca started to walk again, her mind forgetting the random weather and going back to her previous thoughts.
For some odd reason, Bianca felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She missed talking to her old girlfriend. She didn’t know why she had stopped. She used to talk to Frankie whenever she could. Whether to vent about her bad day or giggle over fond memories of the two of them, she would visit the cemetery or slip onto the balcony of her Paris apartment. One day though, sometime around Maggie cheating on her and meeting Zoe, Bianca had quit their conversations. The feeling inside of her, the warmth that engulfed her and let her know exactly what Frankie thought, never left her. It was still there. The more decisions she made, though, the more she ignored it.
She wasn’t ignoring it anymore, though.
After battling her way, like a soldier on a long march, to the asphalt lot, Bianca fumbled with her purse and snatched out the car keys. Half frozen fingers pried the right key free from the jumble attached to the keychain, and she glanced up at the Mercedes.
She crashed to a halt.
Someone was sitting on the hood of her car.
Why was someone sitting on the hood of her car?
Who was it? She couldn’t quite make out the face at this distance, but her car was the only one in the lot. Where had this person come from? Were they lost? She watched as the person seemed to notice her. The figure hopped off the car, and the agile movement struck Bianca as being familiar. She couldn’t place it, but she knew that body. The closer she got, the more the shape took form. The person wasn’t a giant by any means. More petite in size. Their hair was not extremely dark, possibly somewhere between chin and shoulder length, but it was pulled back so she couldn’t exactly get a clear view. The clothing was what looked to be a…was it a brown leather coat? A jacket? It wasn’t warm enough for that, was it? This person had to be cold. Judging by the stamping of feet and the rubbing of hands, she was right in that guess. The person had dark blue jeans on and…it looked like sneakers.
She moved closer. A few seconds later, she was close enough to see the face.
She dropped the car keys.
“W-What?” stuttered out.
“Hey babe, you about ready to get the hell out of here?” the woman walked toward her, palms rubbing together for warmth, “The kid’s been calling nonstop for the past five minutes. I seriously think your sister is about to be abducted and held for ransom if we don’t return with ice cream.” Mirthful eyes, “I think we might accidentally forget to stop by the store on the way home.”
That crooked grin. That velvet voice. It couldn’t be.
“Hey, you alright?” she stepped up to Bianca. Her eyes roamed the taller woman’s face, “Did something happen while you were visiting Myrtle?”
Myrtle? She wasn’t visiting Myrtle she was…
Bianca’s mind went blank as a hand lovingly curled around her hip.
Bianca met worried eyes, “Frankie?”
“Yeah?” Frankie’s eyebrows furrowed. She bent down and scooped up the keys, pressing them into Bianca’s hand. The pale fingers unconsciously closed around the metal.
Bianca looked down to see the ring glinting on Frankie’s left hand. The same glint that sparkled on Bianca’s. This was Frankie. Her wife. She was waiting for her while Bianca visited Myrtle. They were going to bring back dessert and share a meal with Kendall, Zach, and the boys. Her sister and brother-in-law were visiting for the holidays from their yacht, and the two families were enjoying a play-day for the cousins.
“I love you.” Bianca looked back up at Frankie.
Frankie grinned jokingly, “Getting mushy on me, Montgomery?”
“Montgomery-Stone.” Bianca automatically corrected.
“Is it still that? You better hurry up and divorce me. No way you’re gonna beat your mom’s record at this rate.”
“I think one marriage is enough for me.” Bianca grabbed Frankie’s hand, leading her to the car.
“So dull. What will the kids think if we stay together and are happy about that?” Frankie opened the passenger door and slid inside. “What kind of childhood are we giving these kids if we don’t get divorced and remarried five times? Think of all those honeymoons you’re missing out on. Think of all the therapy those two won’t need.”
“I think Miranda is too busy wondering how she’s going to get little Brice Smith to be her boyfriend than worrying about how her parents love each other.” Bianca sat down, pulling the driver’s door shut beside her. She put the key in the ignition, “And no, sweetheart, you can’t show Brice your gun and badge. He’s only twelve.” She chuckled as Frankie grumbling put on her seatbelt. Putting her own on, she started the car and backed out of the parking spot. “And you can’t get one of your friends to open an investigation on the poor boy.” Frankie would user her spot as a detective with the PVPD to protect her family – and knowing her, that would likely include scaring off would be suitors for their girls.
Frankie let out an exaggerated sigh, “So demanding.”
“You love it.”
“I did marry you.”
“I thought it was because of the amazing sex.”
Frankie winked at her, “Never said it wasn’t. Speaking of which, I hear the Inn has rooms available for tonight. I’m sure Miranda and Gabby would love to have a sleepover with their cousins.”
“Are you pawning off our children to my sister and brother-in-law so we can have a passionate rendezvous in a hotel room?”
Bianca smiled, “I’ll ask Kendall when we get back.”
“If she says no, remind her how she owes us for getting that dog for Miranda without telling us first.”
Bianca drove out of the parking lot, “She promised to get Miranda a dog during her baby shower. Besides, you love Diego.” Miranda’s birthday gift had been a poodle puppy. The child was ecstatic. She and Gabby named him Diego after a children’s show Gabby liked. The family quickly fell in love with the pet. Family outings became more frequent, the entire clan taking the dog out for his walk or playing fetch at the local dog park. He was the only poodle there who adored the tennis ball.
Frankie watched the road, “Diego ate my files from work. I didn’t even know dogs ate paper.” She smirked, “He also ate my cellphone when my wife texted me to go over to her mom’s yesterday. She had to go by herself. I don’t know what my wife’ll do when she finds out why I didn’t go. She might punish him.”
“I think he might be ok. She likes dogs. If you give her a massage tonight before making love to her, she might even forget all about it.”
“I’ll even throw in some Shakespeare, make a night of it.”
“Can’t help I got a thing for my wife. She’s beautiful. And wild. I won’t even tell you the things she’s done to me in my cop car.” Frankie shrugged, “We getting rocky road or cookie dough?”
Bianca glanced over at Frankie, familiar warmth kindling inside of her. As she moved her eyes back to the road, roughened softness lightly grabbed her hand. She felt Frankie lift it up and brush a kiss to the back of her knuckles. Her voice took on a teasing tone, “Are you trying to get fresh with me, Mrs. Montgomery-Stone?”
“I’m always trying to get fresh with you. Not my fault you’re so damn hot.” Frankie tilted her chin, her words becoming tender, “I love you.”
Bianca cupped her hand around the side of Frankie’s neck, thumb brushing her jaw, “I know, baby. I love you, too.”
It hadn’t always been easy, but she wouldn’t change anything about the life she had now.
It was like a wish come true.
Bianca frowned. She could have sworn someone said her name, but Frankie was only smiling at her. Those comforting lips hadn’t moved.
Was someone saying her name? But who? They were alone in the car.
Something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t Frankie moving? Reacting? Couldn’t she hear that? Where was that coming from?
Her chest began to tighten with anxiousness. What was happening? Heaviness descended upon her shoulders. Unseen bricks pushed down on her, weighing her down.
The image of adoring brown eyes violently ripped away in a swirl of color and sound.
It all went black.
“Bianca, are you awake?”
Mouth downturned, Bianca blinked her eyes slowly. Where was she? What was going on? Where did Frankie go? Her gaze darted around. This wasn’t the car. She was in a house. On a couch. With a blanket draped over her legs. A house? A blanket? But how? She was just in the car with Frankie. They were going back to Kendall’s.
Pressing her fingertips to her forehead, Bianca startled as a warm hand landed on her shoulder. Jerking her head around, she expected to see Frankie’s twinkling face.
Instead, she was met with reddish brown hair and a pleasant smile.
“I’m sorry to wake you, but we need to get going if we’re going to make it to your sister’s on time.”
“W-What?” the stuttered word choked out of a suddenly dry throat.
The woman rubbed Bianca’s shoulder, “Come on, lazy bones.”
Where? Who? What?
Then, she remembered.
She remembered all of it.
The random TV movie she’d flipped on about a teenager having issues with her mother to pass the time before they were going to Kendall’s for Christmas. Her eyelids getting heavy.
She’d fallen asleep.
This was her house. Her couch. The house and couch she shared with her ex-girlfriend turned best friend and their children.
Marissa was already walking toward the kitchen, “I packed a couple healthy snacks and bottle of wine to take over while you napped. Can you make sure AJ puts on his nice shoes while I grab that stuff?”
Bianca nodded, her old lover already in the next room.
Marissa. She lived with Marissa. They weren’t together anymore, but they remained best friends. Nothing changed much from before, except they didn’t share a bed now. It was a sign how they were always better as friends than lovers. They were raising Miranda, Gabrielle, and AJ together. This was the house they bought together.
Frankie was dead.
Bianca hadn’t visited her grave since before the first time she flew to Paris so long ago.
She hadn’t even thought about her in years.
Why was the charming scamp invading her dreams? Why now? Why after so long? Bianca rubbed her forehead. Her stomach twisted in a painful knot at the realization. She had forgotten about Frankie. It’d been so long since they were together. She forgot Frankie was ever there to begin with.
She forgot Frankie.
The knot grew and a lump formed in her throat.
Gentle, passionate, brave Frankie. Bianca loved her once. Loved her more than anything.
Loved her enough to let life take its course and let the faded memories dissipate into nothingness.
“Bianca, everything ok?” Marissa entered the room, a worried tinge in her look.
Bianca carefully stood up, legs unsteady with sudden emotion. The blanket fell to the floor, and she tripped over it as she stumbled toward the front door.
Bianca peeked at her as she clumsily snatched her coat from the hook near the door, “I…I have to go. I’ll be back. I promise. I just have to…”
She could only shake her head while she opened the door and strode out of it, shutting it behind her.
The drive felt both new and familiar at the same time. She couldn’t recall the snow covered trees or the crisp asphalt beneath the tires, but hints of remembrance teased her mind. She’d been here before, had taken these roads.
The roads that led her to the local cemetery.
It took her longer than it should to find the headstone. She wasn’t sure which path was the correct one to take or which direction was best, but she still went forward. She didn’t falter until she found it.
It was tucked away from most of the other plots. A small plain headstone. Nothing fancy. Nothing to denote grandeur or importance. Snow piled up in front of it, blocking out some of the letters. Dirt streaked the rock and twig scraped top. There was a jagged crack wrapping around the side to the front. While other memorials had footsteps around them or were lovingly swept clean and maintained, this one wasn’t. It looked as if no one had been there for a long time.
Frankie was left alone, by herself, with no one to keep her company. No one visited. No one cared.
Her heart splintered at the revelation.
Staggering to it, Bianca dropped to her knees, not caring about the cold wet ground. She roughly swiped at the snow and twigs, dusting off the marker the best she could.
She gasped when the front was fully revealed.
Mary Francis “Frankie” Stone
Wetness stung the corners of her eyes. With a shuddering breath, her palm flattened beside the carved name, “Hi.”
No voice, real or phantom, answered back.
She couldn’t remember what Frankie would even say.
She didn’t know what her voice sounded like.
It’d been there, during the dream, but now it was gone.
Just like the girl it belonged to.