I Can Stay

by Susan P.
  Fandom: All My Children      Pairing: Lena/Bianca  
  Rating, etc.: all ages  
  Spoilers: the Lena/Bianca storyline  
  Summary: Timing is everything: set immediately after the big confrontation at Myrtle's boarding house on 6/6/03 and after Lena's "I can stay" line. Hence the title.  
  Author's Notes: I don't know yet if this is will remain a self-contained piece or if it will turn into part one of...something.  
  Disclaimers: The characters, sadly, are not mine.  At the time I wrote this, they were in the hands of ABC Daytime, etc.  
  Permission to Archive: Passion and Perfection. ShatterStorm Productions Anyone else, please ask first.  


"I can stay." My enthusiasm over the news faded a little when I saw the look on Bianca's face. Myrtle barely knew me, and yet she seemed excited for me. Bianca looked as if she might be sick. Maybe she just realized what she had said to her mother in the heat of the moment. It was the first time she had said the word, 'love.' The first time she had said it about me, anyway. I hoped she didn't regret it. I would spend the rest of my life trying to make sure she wouldn't regret loving me.

"That's wonderful news, darlin.' Congratulations." Myrtle looked on me warmly as she squeezed Bianca's hand. Bianca turned to smile at her, and it was lovely, even if it wasn't directed at me. "Well," Myrtle spoke again, "I'm going to leave you two alone. I'm sure you have a lot to talk about." The older woman gave Bianca an entirely conspicuous push in my direction on her way out.

A moment of what looked like panic crossed Bianca's face and I was afraid she might flee, but then she just broke into an embarrassed grin and looked up at me. "Myrtle's not big on subtlety."

"I admire her straightforwardness. It's obvious that she cares about you very much." I hesitated a moment before adding, "as does your mother."

She looked at me, shocked. "You're--You're defending her?"

I took a chance and stepped closer to her, but not too close. "I'm no happier about what she did that you are, but I am hardly in a position to throw stones. And...what she did, she did out of love and a desire to protect you. I can understand that."

"Yeah, well, she needs to learn that she can't protect me from the world forever. And she needs to back off and let me live my life without her constant interference."

"Yes, she does, but... Bianca, you were a little harsh. You hurt her, I think, and you're too good a person not to regret that, eventually."

The slump of her shoulders told me she was already beginning to regret it.

"Bianca, if I have any hope that you can give me a second chance then I can't expect you to do any less for your mother. I just think that, when you're a little less angry, you should go talk to her."

"You're probably right," she relented, "but I just can't be around her right now. I'd probably just make things worse. So, Greenlee offered you a job after all?"

It was obvious Bianca didn't want to talk about her mother any longer, and I was willing to drop the subject for the sake of discussing happier topics.

"Not exactly. She apparently spoke to her grandfather on my behalf. I start at Greenlee Investments in the morning." Then I realized something. "Bianca, I came over here to tell you about my situation with Immigration, and to say goodbye, but...you already knew. How did you find out?"

"You didn't come over here because of my message?"

I looked at my cell phone, which I was still holding, wondering if I had missed a voice-mail from Bianca, when she interrupted my thoughts.

"No, at the hotel. Nevermind. I, uh, walked in on the last of your conversation with Greenlee this morning. After you left, I asked her what it was about and she gave me the whole story."

"Well, perhaps that explains things. I don't know what you said to her, but it must have convinced her to give me another chance. She was so upset with me when I left, I couldn't believe it when she called me."

"I just...pointed out how your situation was similar to Leo's. I don't know that I really convinced her of anything, but we...had an interesting conversation, actually. It made me think" 

"About what?" I asked. I realized, happily, that this was probably the longest, and most civil, conversation Bianca and I had had in weeks.

"Second chances." She seemed to regret saying it as soon as the words left her mouth and changed the subject quickly. "Anyway, I was talking with Boyd, hoping he could come up with some prospects for you so that you could stay in the country, when I realized that my mother was behind the whole thing. So, I called Val and he told me Mom had been looking for me, so I came here. She was trying to get you blacklisted."

I didn't want to add more fuel to Bianca's anger. "I don't know that I would have been more generous to her if our positions had been reversed. Please, could we not discuss Erica any more right now?"

She put up her hands in a gesture of surrender and said, "Deal!"

Then the silence became awkward, neither of us knowing what would be safe to talk about. I was afraid the conversation might end any moment and I would have to leave Bianca. So, while it was hardly a 'safe' topic, there was one question that had been burning in my mind, my heart, since I had heard that wonderful word fall from Bianca's lips.

"Bianca, forgive me, but I have to ask. What you said to your mother, did you mean it? Do you love me?"

"I..." she sighed. She'd been expecting the question. And dreading it, I think. "I--I do." 

She did not look very happy about it, and it wasn't exactly the way I wanted to hear her say it, but hope bloomed in me in spite of all that. Bianca loves me. Loves. Not past tense, not 'I did once,' but 'I do.' I was so excited about it that I almost didn't hear her when she spoke again.

"I don't know what that means, exactly. You hurt me so badly, I don't know if I can just forget all that so easily. But..." 

She never finished the sentence. She had been hurt so much and so often, and I had caused my share of the damage to her heart, but there was something in her eyes that wanted to believe in me, to be able to trust me again. I could see it.

"But it means...something?" I asked, keeping it vague for her sake.

She smiled and took a deep breath. "Yes. I think it does."

I must have been beaming at her, I'm sure. "Good. I will...try not to push you too hard, but you must know how happy that makes me."

She just nodded at me, not yet willing to commit herself. "You know, you should probably call the INS and let them know about the new job."

"Yes," I relented. "And I should probably go and check back into the hotel--again."

She smiled and teased me, "watch out for that bellboy."

I laughed, feeling freer than I had in a long time. "I will."

I can stay.


The end

© June 2003