Summary: Jo and Blair find each other years later after college and Blair has one big mess to clear up, but she can't do it alone.
Disclaimers: The characters are not mine, I do not own them, only borrowed them for a bit to come and play in my world. The story however is mine.
Warning: First I must apologize for any harm I may have done to the French language. It is not my first language (or second) and that high school French class was a loooong time ago. This story depicts loving relationships between women. If this is offensive to you – your on the wrong site, if it is illegal where you live – don't read and consider moving, or if you are under age and your mom checks your computer to see what sites you visit – don't read and change sites you're probably going to be grounded.
Comments are always welcome; please send to email@example.com
August 16, 2010
End of term always filled the air with excitement, tension, relief and the hope of what was yet to come. The seniors were looking forward to ending their college careers and stepping into the real world, facing the challenge of what they had been preparing for their whole lives. Everyone that is except Jo, she was dredging moving on and losing the sense of family and home she had with the girls. The companionship she had once resented for being forced into this then alien world, she now cherished more than anything. She looked back on the laughter and fights, the late night raids on the kitchen with her roommates and the all night study sessions that were as much fun as they were serious, and she knew an important part of her life was coming to a close.
Sitting at her desk in the room she shared with Blair, Jo took a break from studying to look around. Her side of the room was tidy but by no means neat like her roommates. Blair's bed was perfectly made with expensive linens and way too many pillows, her books lined the shelf in alphabetical order, and her desk was laid out with everything in it's place, there were no untidy piles of papers flung about or clothes on the floor, even her closet, should the door be opened, was arranged by color and style. Looking at her side of the room again Jo felt the tiniest pang of guilt, perhaps she should pick up her shoes that were tossed in a corner or hang up the clothes flung across her chair. The guilt was quickly replace by a sly grin as her eye slid over to the bottom drawer of Blair's nightstand. Only two people knew that drawer was Blair's one concession to total disaster, it was crammed with junk and bits of things that the blond just did not know what to do with, but could not bring herself to throw out. Tucked away, but still there was Blair's big mess.
Jo tried to go back to studying, but the thought of Blair had firmly settled into her brain, not that Blair was ever very far from her thoughts. The spoiled little rich girl had gotten under her skin from the moment they had met eight years earlier. Irritation had long ago given way to a battle riddled friendship and for Jo that friendship had turned into a deep love unlike any she had ever known before. Jo had struggled with these feelings and emotions for a long time, which were the underlying cause of some of her greatest fights with Blair. Then one day she stopped fighting with herself and finally accepted how she felt and suddenly her world became a lot more peaceful. She had never said anything to Blair for fear of losing their friendship, and above all their friendship meant everything to Jo. There were times however that just for a moment, a look, a touch, or a word from Blair would make Jo think the blond felt the same for her. Then the moment would pass and she would be left feeling confused and alone again.
It was no use trying to study her mind was consumed with thoughts of Blair. Throwing on a pair of sneakers Jo grabbed her basketball and headed for the door. Perhaps shooting hoops for a while would clear her head, something had to, she still had exams to study for and she was pretty sure the color of Blair's eyes, the tone of her laugh and the curve of her hips were not going to be on the test.
Exams were in full swing and the two roommates were in there room studying. Blair sat at her desk with her papers and books neatly in front of her while Jo sat on the floor with books and papers surrounding her and covering most of the bed. She had chosen this position because she liked to watch Blair concentrate and it provided the best view. She loved the cute way Blair would crinkle her nose when working on a problem or when she would delicately tap her fingers on a page she was committing to memory. Jo found herself completely and utterly distracted, her concentration solely on the golden hair in front of her.
Blair looked across her shoulder to see Jo staring at her. “What?”
“What!?” Jo snapped out of her daydream of those long fingers tapping something other than the pages beneath them.
“You were staring at me.” Blair accused in a simple manner.
“No I wasn't.” Jo snapped back embarrassed to be caught.
“Yes you were.” Blair confirmed.
Jo looked annoyed at being disrupted. “I was concentrating on something Blair.”
The blonde head turned back to its studies. “Well concentrate in that direction” she said waving a hand to the opposite wall, “it's unnerving.”
Jo jumped up and stomped over to the door. “I'm going to get us some drinks.” And with that she was through the door. She was not angry with Blair, but with herself for getting caught unaware that her feelings were on display. Normally she was very good at keeping herself guarded, but lately it was becoming more and more difficult.
Down in the kitchen as she prepared Blair's favorite snack Jo knew that the time had come. She could not go on like this anymore, she had to find out just what Blair's true feelings toward her were. Just as soon as finals were over she would sit Blair down for a long talk.
The timing did not work out quite as Jo planned. She still had two more exams, but Blair had just finished her last one and wanted to celebrate, so Jo took the woman she could refuse nothing to out for dinner.
Blair was having a wonderful time now that all the pressure of the last two weeks were taken off her. She knew she should not be infringing on Jo's study time, but there was no one she would rather celebrate with than her best friend. Jo had seemed to relax through dinner, which made Blair happy. The moody brunette had been so tense lately she was worried something was going to explode.
Jo could not resist the infectious good mood of her best friend, when Blair was happy Jo was happy. Leaving the restaurant Blair curled her arm around Jo's as she often did as they made their way to the car. Jo immediately felt the loss of the warm body pressed against her as she held the door for Blair to get in the car. The drive home was peaceful and content as they each began to wind down. When they got home they found the house unusually empty, Mrs. Garrett was at a dinner party with some friends and Tootie and Natalie must still be at the library studying. Taking advantage of the solitude the two young women curled up on the sofa with ice cream and reflected back on all the years it took them to get to this point, especially the two of them personally. Adversaries upon their first meeting, it had not been too long before they realized they had no greater friend then each other.
Blair moved closer and curled into Jo's side to make it easier to steal spoons of the others rocky road, which was the perfect complement to her own butter pecan. Settling her head on Jo's shoulder Blair sighed, “Jo promise me we will still be this close even when we're not sharing a room.”
“I promise Blair, I won't let anything come between us.” Jo gently lifted Blair's chin with her finger so she could look into those warm brown eyes that held all her dreams. “I love you Blair.” She leaned down and gently kissed the lips she had dreamed of for so long. She had intended it to be a quick friendly kiss, but as she felt Blair respond the kiss became deeper. Jo's mind was reeling at the delicious feel of Blair kissing her back.
Suddenly Blair pulled back realizing what she was doing a look of horror quickly covered her face. “Jo what are you doing?”
“What? Blair, I” She didn't know what to say, what had just happened?
Blair was on her feet, anger quickly taking over when her fear would not let her function. “How dare you, what were you thinking?”
Jo stood facing Blair watching this perfect moment turn into her worst nightmare. “I kissed you because I was thinking I love you and I thought you might feel the same since you kissed me back.”
“I most certainly did not!”
This hurt Jo more than she thought possible and when Jo was hurt she got angry. “I'm pretty sure that was your tongue I felt in my mouth princess.”
The slap happened so fast Jo never saw it coming. Blair could not believe Jo would do this to them. “Don't ever speak to me again, I don't ever want to see you again.”
Steel blue/green eyes flashed as Jo reached up and felt the imprint of Blair's fingers on her cheek. “Don't worry Blair, I'm through with you.” She stormed to the hall table and grabbed her helmet and keys then slammed out the door. Blair ran upstairs and slammed the door to their bedroom, but it did nothing to hide the noise of Jo taking off into the night on her bike.
Jo raced down the dark streets barely seeing the road in front of her. As the city streets gave way to country roads she opened the throttle and sped recklessly into the night. ‘How could she have been so stupid to open up to Blair like that?' she thought as she raced around a curve. ‘How could I think she would love me?' tears obscured her vision as she rounded another curve. The road straightened out again, ‘I've lost her'; she opened the throttle again and moved faster trying to get away from her own pain. Jo never saw the last curve or the truck until it was too late. There was a cacophony of noise, tires squealing, a loud horn, metal twisting, and then nothing. Pain, there was a lot of pain, then nothing.
Back at the house Blair cried until she had nothing left in her. ‘Why had Jo kissed her? Did she think Blair was actually gay?' She could not understand why Jo would throw their eight-year friendship away like that. Suddenly Blair was off the bed and headed for the bathroom. She washed her face and retouched her makeup and hair. Grabbing just two of her suitcases out of the hall closet, she began packing what she considered the bare essentials. She would have the rest of her things sent to her. Her classes were done as well as her exams so there was no good reason for her to stick around and have to share the same space as Jo Polniaczek. She would go home where the world was reasonable and orderly. She would leave a note for the others and simply come back up for graduation. In record time her bags were packed and Blair Warner was on the road to a normal and sane life.
The truck driver called for an ambulance when he checked the body lying bloodied and unmoving off the side of the road. Jo's bike laid twisted under one of the big rigs tires and her helmet was in two pieces from the initial impact of bouncing off the front grill of the truck and hitting the pavement. She was covered in blood from a long gash along the side of her face that happened when she bounced into the guardrail. The truck driver was uninjured but at the sight of so much blood he passed out not far from Jo's limp form.
Three and a half hours of surgery had put Jane Doe back together again. The patient had come in with no ID and had not regained consciousness yet. Six broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken leg, broken arm, broken clavicle, concussion, a cut running from the right temple to the jaw, and more cuts and bruises than could be counted, Jane Doe was lucky to be alive.
Eight hours after surgery Jo woke dazed and confused in a clean white hospital room. Looking around she was completely alone. She was having a hard time remembering what had happened. A nurse came in the room with an all too cheery smile and asked how she was feeling.
Jo found it hard to speak so the nurse gave her a sip of water. Once her throat was sufficiently lubricated Jo tried to put words together. “Kidding right? I feel like I was hit by a semi, what happened?”
“You were hit by a semi.” The nurse said with a sad smile. “You were in an accident, do you remember?”
Jo looked at her in disbelief. She was trying to remember but all she could hear was Blair yelling at her. She started to shake her head but was stopped by the pain such a movement caused.
The nurse offered her some more water. “Do you remember your name?”
This made Jo wonder just what had happened and how she had gotten there. “Jo, Jo Polniaczek.”
“Okay Jo, you had no ID when you were brought in so we had you down as a Jane Doe. I'll update your chart and let the doctor know you're awake, is there anyone I can call for you?”
“How long have I been here?”
“Well, you were brought into the ER just before midnight last night and it's a little after noon now.” The nurse gave her that sad smile again.
Noon, they must be wondering where she was by now, she was about to give the nurse the number for the house when she remembered Blair's last words to her, ‘I don't ever want to see you again.' Instead she gave her mother's number and information, if no one had bothered to find out why she didn't come home last night, then she wouldn't bother them.
Rose Polniaczek was on the next train to up state New York worrying and wondering what had happened to her daughter. The doctor who had called said she was in stable condition and awake, but this only worried her more. She wondered why Edna had not called her last night when the accident had happened. She had a lot of questions and was going to get answers just as soon as she could see for herself that her baby girl was all right.
All Jo wanted to do was go home, not to the familiar home she had know for the last several years, but to her mother's home, the one she had know before her life had gotten turned upside down by one Blair Warner. She was in a lot of pain and sleep called to her, but she fought to stay awake because every time she closed her eyes she saw the shock and horror in Blair's eyes at being kissed by Jo.
Rose finally arrived and Jo held her hand as she wept at the condition of her baby. She refused to answer any questions about how she had wound up on a country road in the middle of the night. Jo wanted no visitors; she just wanted to go home as soon as possible. Rose sat with her as she slept, listening to the equipment hooked up to her Joanne, she decided she had to call Edna and the girls to find out what had happened.
Tootie ran down the stairs to grab the phone before anyone else could, she was expecting an important call, a possible date. “Hello?”
“Tootie? This is Rose Polniaczek.”
“Oh hi Mrs. Polniaczek, I don't think Jo's home right now, do you want me to leave her a message?” Tootie felt bad that she was rushing Mrs. P. but she was waiting for an important call.
“Tootie, do you know where Jo is? When was the last time you saw her?”
Tootie had to think for a moment, they had breakfast yesterday morning, and then Jo had studied all day in her room. She hadn't given much thought to not seeing Jo today, especially after Blair's note last night that she had gone home to relax after her last final. “Ugh, sometime yesterday, she's been studying for finals.”
“Tootie, where's Edna?”
This was taking way longer than Tootie had wanted it to. “She's at the store, I'll let her know you called, and Jo when I see them.”
“Jo's in the hospital, that's why I'm calling. My daughter was in an accident last night and no one seems to know anything about it.”
“Oh no, is she alright? What happened? I thought she had gone to bed after Blair left last night and then got up early for her exam. Is she okay?”
Rose had to smile a little as she remembered how Tootie could talk without breathing and some of her anger faded away. “She's in bad shape, but she's okay. It's too much to explain on the phone, could you just have Edna come to the hospital as soon as she can, we're in room 214.”
“I'll let her know as soon as she gets back. Are you okay Mrs. P.? Is there anything I can do for you? Is there anything I can do for Jo?”
“I'm fine Tootie, thanks for asking, and don't you worry about Jo, she's tough, she'll be just fine.” Rose had to hang up before she started to cry again. Her Jo was tough and she would be more than just fine, she would see to it.
Tootie hung up the phone as Mrs. Garrett walked in the front door with an armload of groceries. She ran over taking the burden from the older woman. “Mrs. G. there's no time for this, Jo's in the hospital, we've got to go.”
“What!?” The redhead exclaimed as she lost her grip on the bags. Luckily Tootie already had a good grip on them.
Putting the bags down on the nearest table and scribbling a quick note for Nat, Tootie spun Mrs. Garrett around by the elbow and propelled her out the door. “I'll explain on the way.”
By the time Mrs. Garrett and Tootie had arrived at the hospital Jo had gotten into an argument with her mother about not wanting to see anyone, she was so agitated that the nurse had to give her a sedative.
Rose talked to Edna and Tootie in the lounge and discovered that in the hectic pace of finals no one had noticed Jo was missing. With the information she had gotten about Blair's sudden departure and the highly irritated state her daughter got herself into at the mention of the heiresses name she figured out they must have had a fight.
Edna would talk to Jo's professors and see what they could do about her last two finals. She insisted on seeing Jo was okay for herself and since the girl was unconscious, Rose felt it could do no harm. The three quietly entered the room, but when Mrs. G. saw all the bandages and casts and machines hooked up to her Jo, she let out a small cry. She walked over and kissed the pale forehead trying to avoid the bandages on the girls face. She gave her a few choice words about driving late at night on her bike then kissed her again. Tootie lifted away a strand of hair that had fallen over the bandage on the side of Jo's head, tears filled her eyes as she told Jo that she would have the room all to herself so she could heal in peace when she got home. She kissed Jo in the same place Mrs. G. had and they both held Rose in a tight embrace.
Rose was again left alone with her daughter and she wondered just what had happened between Jo and Blair to cause her to be so reckless.
Jo was in the hospital for nine days. She finally consented to seeing her friends, not knowing that they had been visiting her while she slept every day. Everyone stopped by except Blair, when Jo finally got the nerve to ask where the heiress was she was told Blair had left the night of her accident and had not returned. Tootie called Blair to let her know Jo had been in an accident and was in the hospital and that she was okay and they all missed her, but that was as far as she got when the answering machine had cut off. She found it very strange that Blair had never returned her call or come up to see Jo. After all they were as close as two friends could get.
Blair wanted to call about Jo's condition but she was still angry and the message had said she was fine. Anger filled her once again, that she should have to care about Jo and worry over some little accident, how dare Jo do this to her. She would not go running to Jo's side every time something went wrong. Deep down she knew it was more than that, but this was all her conscious would allow her to accept. And with that she put Jo out of her mind. Graduation was not far away and she would see Jo then.
Jo had maintained a 4.0 in the classes she had missed her finals in. After a talk with Mrs. Garrett her professors had agreed to pass Jo without the final exam. Jo would graduate, she would have her diploma, but she would not be able to walk at the ceremony. It was a great disappointment to Rose, but all she truly cared about was that her little girl was alive.
With a great deal of pressure on Jo's part as soon as her lungs were given the all clear she was released from the hospital. She wanted a quiet departure, to simply get in a taxi and leave, because each time her friends came to visit she was acutely aware of the one that was missing.
Rose called from the train station to let them know Jo was leaving and told Edna she would be in touch about picking up Jo's things. She thanked them all for their support and help and promised to see them soon. It was the last time any of them would hear from Jo again. Three days later Jo left New York and her life there behind for good.
Blair showed up at the house the day before graduation expecting to see Jo sitting on the sofa lounging with a book. She was prepared to forget the unfortunate incident and decided they would never speak of it again. When Tootie told her that Jo was gone Blair insisted that even Jo would not miss her own graduation.
“No Blair, she's gone, disappeared. No one knows where she is, not even Rose. She's just gone.” Tootie left a shocked Blair alone as she was still trying to deal with the sudden lose herself.
For a moment Blair couldn't breath. She had lost Jo, really lost her this time. That was not supposed to happen, they were supposed to make up and be friends again, she had made a mess of it this time, a really big mess. She needed Jo, she wanted her friend back, she had missed the grease monkey so much, but now what was she suppose to do.
SEVEN YEARS LATER
The limo was dropping Blair off at her building. Noticing a lot of police activity in and around the lobby the driver asked if she would like for him to escort her in. She quickly dismissed the idea; whatever was going on could have nothing to do with her. But she would certainly be calling the board to find out why such police visibility was happening in her building; didn't they have plain-clothes officers?
Jackson the doorman was not at his usual post, instead the door was held open for her by a young policeman. Inside he asked her to please step over to the side and a detective would be with her in a moment.
Blair waited about half a second then grabbed the nearest officer by the arm. “I'm sorry but I've just come in from a very long day at work and would like to go home could you please tell me what's going on and who's in charge here.”
The officer disentangled his arm. “And you are?”
Smiling as if talking to a simpleton Blair took a deep breath, “I am Blair Warner, I live in the penthouse.”
The officer realized who he had waiting in front of him, “Sorry Ms Warner,” he quickly waved over a tall young man in a cheap grey suit. “Detective Samuels this is Ms Warner, she lives in the other penthouse.”
“Excuse me, there is only one penthouse in this building.” Blair corrected rather abruptly. Her patience was wearing thin, it had been a rough day at the office and all she wanted to do was go soak in a hot tub.
“I'm sorry Ms Warner,” the detective said as he guided Blair away from the officer, “you'll have to forgive Officer Plimpton, architecture is not one of his specialties. If you'll just come this way.” He guided them to some comfortable chairs in the lobby.
Blair could not help noticing all the activity around her elevator. “Could you please tell me what is going on here Detective Samuels?”
“I'm afraid there's been a murder Ms Warner.” Blair looked again at all the investigators going in and out of her elevator. “You live in the penthouse correct?”
Bringing her attention back to the man in front of her, “Yes, I've lived there for four years now.”
“And did you know your neighbor Martha Riley?”
“Martha?” Blair looked back to the elevator, “Oh my god.”
“Ms Warner, did you know Martha Riley?”
Blair turned back to the young man. “Not very well. We would meet each other at the board meetings for the building and occasionally on the elevator, of course she always attended my annual Christmas party, but we were never what you would call friends.”
“That elevator, it services only your penthouse and the executive suite Ms Riley lived in, did you ever see anyone coming or going from Ms Riley's?”
Blair's hands began to shake, “What? I'm sorry what? The elevator?” She turned to look again at her elevator when she noticed two detectives emerging from the bank of elevators that serviced the rest of the building. She could hear the young man still talking to her but she was no longer listening. She was too busy watching a ghost from her past walking out of one elevator and moving over to the other where all the activity was going on. She watched the tall woman with long dark hair as she questioned several of the investigators. “Jo?” she whispered.
Detective Samuels was trying to gain Blair's attention again when she shot up and walked over to the crime scene. Quickly rushing after her he called her name as his boss looked up to see what all the commotion was about.
Blair could not believe her eyes, “Jo!” she rushed over to her old friend only to be stopped by two police officers. “Would you take your hands off of me, I have to see Jo.”
Cold blue/green eyes gave Blair a steely look. When Jo had found out whom the owner of the penthouse was she had almost given the case over to someone else. She had been dreading this moment since moving back to New York . Now her worst fear was being played out in front of half the NYPD. She walked over and motioned the two officers away. She stiffened as Blair made a motion as if she were going to hug her.
Seeing Jo's reaction to her Blair stopped her forward motion and just stared at the beautiful woman. Jo was thinner and looked much more sophisticated then Blair remembered.
“Jo, you look great. Nice suit.” Blair could have kicked herself, ‘great Warner you've been waiting for seven years to talk to her and all you can come up with is nice suit!'
“Blair, let's go have a seat.” Jo indicated the chairs the woman had just left. “Thanks Rich, I'll take it from here.” They sat across from each other, an uncomfortable silence falling over them. Finally she cleared her throat, “Blair, I need to ask you some questions about..”
“Martha, I know, I was just tell the nice young man that I really did not know her, we were just passing acquaintances. Oh Jo, where have you been?”
“So you really can't tell us anything about her?” Blair shook her head a little bewildered as to why Jo would not just talk to her. “I'll take you to your apartment, but we'll have to use the main elevators and then the stairs, you don't want to see the inside of your elevator, trust me.”
“It's a penthouse Jo.” Blair corrected automatically.
“Of course it is.” Jo stood and began walking to the bank of elevators without looking back to see if she were being followed. She was a woman use to giving orders and having them carried out.
Blair noticed how different the woman looked, the way she moved with confidence, not that of a tough street kid, but a grown woman who was very sure of herself and in control. And although her face was firmly set with the grim task she had to undertake, her long dark hair hung down around her shoulders and face making her look even more strikingly beautiful.
Once inside the elevator Blair wanted to say something but could not think of how to begin. She watched the stiff profile in front of her as Jo watched the numbers fly by. Finally the doors opened and Jo flew out the door headed for the stairwell at the end of the hall. Blair stood just outside the closing doors and watched her go. At the entrance to the stairs Jo turned to find she was alone, she looked back at Blair. “I am not doing two flights of stairs in these shoes Jo.”
“Well I'm not going to carry you.” Blair walked down the hall in the opposite direction. “Blair where are you going?”
“Freight elevator” Blair said smugly as she whipped out a card and passed it over a scanner set into the wall.
Jo hurried back down the hall as she watched the blonde disappear into the discreetly placed doors. She got to the elevator to see Blair smiling and holding the door for her. “Why didn't the super tell us about this?” She grumbled.
“You probably didn't ask.” Blair said as she punched the button for her floor.
The ride was short and quiet. When they reached the top Blair stepped out opened her door and started in, but Jo did not follow. She stepped back into the hall. “Jo, aren't you coming in?”
“I can't, I just wanted to make sure you got home safely. Good night Blair.”
As Jo started to leave Blair reached out and stopped her by gently taking hold of her arm. “Please Jo, I just want to talk.”
The detective tried not to look into those brown eyes that still haunted her memories. “I'm working here Blair.”
Not one to give up, Blair tried a new tactic. “Well, how can I reach you, if I remember anything about Martha?”
Reluctantly Jo reached inside her jacket and pulled out a card, she handed it over to a smiling Blair.
“Thanks Jo, it really is good to see you again.” She reached up to tuck the dark hair behind an ear so she could get a better look at the face she had missed so much. Blair's movement stopped as she exposed the scar that ran the length of Jo's face. Without thinking she brushed her fingertips down the thin line. “Oh Joey.”
Jo pulled out of Blair's grasp and began to move away. “I've gotta go.” She hit the stairs and took them two at a time until she had reached the lobby of the building.
Blair stood in her open doorway, tears spilling over unblinking eyes as her fingers relived the feel of the soft line down the side of Jo's face. Finally coming to her senses she knew that it was now or never, she had to talk to Jo. She closed her door and raced to the freight elevator, switching over to the passenger cars two stops down. The doors opened just as Jo was walking out of the building. She hurried outside as fast as she could in her stylish heels, catching up to the fast paced detective almost a block away. She reached out and pulled Jo to a stop. “Jo, stop please. I have to know, how did you get that scar?”
Jo looked in disbelief at the person who was in part responsible for said scar. “How do you think Blair?”
“I don't know, that's why I'm asking” Blair shouted a little louder than she had meant to.
Jo shot daggers into the woman who was still holding her arm. “An accident, seven years ago, the night you left.”
Blair was trying to hold back the tears. “I didn't know.”
“You didn't come to the hospital or even call, I guess that said everything huh Blair.” Jo glared at Blair who stood there unable to speak. “Tootie told me she called you, but you just left me there in the hospital alone. You left me Blair.”
“All she said was that you were in an accident but you were fine. I never knew what had happened until graduation and by then you had disappeared.”
Jo took a deep breath, “I did exactly what you asked. I got the hell out of your life.” Even now Jo was having a hard time watching the shocked emotion on Blair's face as she tried to hold back unshed tears. After all the years of pain and anger she still could not bare to see Blair hurting. When Blair cast a spell over you, it lasted forever. It had taken years, but she had finally accepted what happened that night, she could not hold Blair responsible. “The accident was just that, an accident, I was stupid and I got hit by a truck on my bike, but it made me realize that I needed to get away.”
Blair was struck, “From me?”
Jo looked down at the arm still holding her, “Because I do stupid things when I'm around you.” And with that she broke lose from Blair's desperate grip and walked away.
Two days later Blair walked into the homicide area of Jo's prescient. She asked the first person she found where to find the lead detective. She was pointed to a solitary desk at the far end of the room and sitting there deeply engrossed in paper work was Jo, her desk just as messy as ever. Blair had made up her mind that she would talk things out with the moody brunette weather Jo liked it or not. After all Jo never refused her anything, even when she asked her to never speak to her again.
Jo felt a strange sensation come over her that she hadn't felt in years and looked up to see Blair walking her way. She couldn't help noticing how Blair looked like a fashion model making her way down a runway instead of an aisle in a police station. Time had only improved on the blonde's beauty. She remained seated and made the heiress come to her, it was quiet at this end of the room and she didn't want anyone overhearing whatever might fly out of Blair's mouth.
Blair took a seat in the chair by the side of Jo's desk. “Jo we need to talk.”
“Do you have any information about the case?”
“Case? What, oh Martha, no.”
“Then we have nothing to talk about.” Jo went back to her paperwork.
Blair sat there for a moment watching Jo ignore her. “Please Jo, I need to talk to you I can't bare to have things this way between us.”
Jo had stopped writing, but before Blair could speak someone called from the other end of the room. “Hey boss, you've got a visitor.”
Both women looked up to see a young woman with long brown hair walking in holding the hand of a small girl with long golden hair. Jo gave the two a big smile as they approached, as she stood the child broke free and ran across the open space calling out “Mere” and throwing herself into Jo's open arms. She realized immediately that something was wrong and cradled the little girl in her arms as she sat back down in her chair. Blair sat frozen as she watched the scene unfold.
“Lily, what's wrong?” Jo asked as she tried to brush back the long blonde locks to get a good look at the tiny face that was burying itself in her shoulder. She looked up as the young woman stopped beside Blair. “Camille, what happened?”
“I don't know, she was upset when I picked her up from school and all she would say was she needed to see you.”
Jo held the little girl close to her reassuring the child with gentle strokes on her back, “Lily, did something happen at school?” Getting no response she gently lifted the little head to look into upset green eyes. “Qu'est-ce qui est arrive a l'ecole?”
“Jen e retourne jamais la la maman.” The child stated stubbornly.
Jo smiled at the determined little face. “Yes you are going back so you might as well tell me.”
For a moment Blair could see a young angry Jo in the small face, and when the child spoke she had the same intensity as Jo.
“Ils m'ont appele un orphelin parce que je n'ai aucun parent.”
Jo looked shocked, “No parents? Who said you have no parents? What am I chopped liver? Tomorrow you are going to go back there and tell them that you not only have a parent, but if they say anything else I'm going to throw them in jail.” Lily looked doubtful. “Some people like to just be mean Lilybug, they pick on others who are different to make themselves feel important, but they're not. Don't let any one make you feel bad about being who you are, because you are the most fantastique person I know. Vous etes mon monde Lilybug.”
The small face erupted into a big smile. “You're my world too Mere.”
Jo wrapped Lily into her arms and kissed the top of the small head. She looked up at Camille and nodded. “You know what I think, I think Camille could use some ice cream she looks like she's had a stressful afternoon, what do you think?”
Lily gave Camille a careful going over. “Yeah, she looks pretty stressed out to me.”
“Alright, off you go, I'll see you at home later.” Jo said as she picked the little girl up and placed her on her feet.
“Awa, aren't you coming?” the little girl pouted.
“You know I can't, I'm still working.”
Lily gave Blair a side-glance then nodded her head at her mom. “Aimez-vous Mere.” With that Lily turned and grabbed Camille's hand dragging her up the aisle.
“Aimez-vous Lilybug” Jo called after her as she watched the two leave. As soon as they were out of sight Jo tried to drop her cop face into place again, but she didn't fully succeed. “Look Blair I've got a lot of work to do..”
Blair finally snapped out of her shocked state. “You have a child.” She stated as if it were the eleven o'clock news.
“You're very observant Warner, yes I have a child.”
“And you speak French!”
“Nothing gets by you.”
Blair almost faltered, “I, I didn't know you were married.”
Jo bristled at the assumption, “People can have kids without being married Blair.”
“I know, I just meant, sorry. She's absolutely adorable, she has your attitude, but she doesn't look much like you.”
Jo knew she couldn't get out of this so she might as well go through it. “No, she looks like her mother.”
Blair stilled, “Oh,” she was trying to put together the pieces Jo was not giving. “So Camille?”
“Blair, Lily looks nothing like Camille, she looks like Ana.”
“Ana,” Blair was getting confused, “so who's Camille?”
Light was slowly dawning at the end of the tunnel. “Ana must be very beautiful.”
Jo looked down at her paperwork again. “Yes, she was.”
And light has dawned at last. “I'm so sorry Jo.”
“She died two years ago, it's been really hard on Lily.” Jo noticed some of the other detectives glancing her way. “Listen Blair I really don't want to have this conversation here.”
Without a thought Blair reached over and put her hand on top of Jo's, “Then lets go for a coffee and you can tell me all about your family.”
Walking until they found a quiet place where Jo was sure none of the other cops would dare be caught in, they ordered coffees and Jo got a big sticky pastry. Blair laughed as the old Jo dug in. “I guess chasing bad guys keeps you thin.”
Jo looked up and grinned, “No, chasing a five year old keeps me thin and in shape and tired.”
“It must be hard on your own. How long were you and Ana together?”
Jo waited as their coffees were served. “Well that kind of gets complicated.” Blair sipped her coffee giving Jo all the time she needed. The detective began picking at her pastry and Blair could tell this was a difficult subject for her. “When I met Ana she was pregnant and had just been beaten up by some creep on the streets where she was living because she had gotten kicked out of her place. She needed a place to stay and a friend and I was running kind of empty in the friend department myself. So she moved in with me and we hit it off right away. She was French and illegally in the country. I had to learn the language,” Jo smiled as she remembered the chatty woman, “Ana didn't leave me much of a choice. When Lily was born, I was so nervous and excited all at the same time. I kept thinking that at anytime Ana would decide she wanted to settle down and leave with Lily, and by then I was pretty stuck on the kid. But she never left and we just worked well together, raising Lily and enjoying life. Then two years ago Ana got sick, it all happened so fast, but I think she knew as soon as she got sick that she wouldn't be around. She asked me to adopt Lily; we went to a lawyer and had him rush it through. Six days after the adoption was final she died.” Jo wiped a tear from her cheek that she hadn't realized had fallen.
Blair was confused again, “So you and Ana were lovers?”
“No.” Jo took a sip of her coffee; she could not bring herself to look at Blair.
“But you loved her?”
“Yes and she loved me, but Ana was not gay, we were friends and we raised a beautiful daughter together for as long as we could.”
Now it was Blair's turn to wipe away the tears. She had pushed her friend away only to have someone else accept Jo the way she couldn't. So much time had been lost and there were so many unanswered questions. “Where were you Jo?”
Looking into the soft brown eyes that had always melted her heart, Jo reached out and wiped away a tear then sat back knowing that the whole story would have to be told. This was Blair after all and she could never keep anything from her forever. “ Seattle . After the accident I needed a lot of recovery time, both mentally and physically. I couldn't stand being in New York knowing you were there and I could never see you again so my mom called my cousin in Seattle and asked if I could spend some time with her. You should have seen me on the flight out there, it looked like one of those mercy flights, but I did get bumped up to first class because I couldn't fit in one of the coach seats with all the casts I had.” Blair chocked back a sob not wanting to interrupt; Jo gave her a small smile. “I don't blame you for what happened, I did at one point, but I am completely responsible for my own actions. I gave myself this scar and I tore our friendship apart. I don't blame you at all Blair, I want you to know that.”
“Then why were you so angry to see me the other day?”
Jo shrugged, “I'm good at anger. Besides seeing you just sort of flooded me with a lot of memories and emotions I thought I had buried.”
Blair had to know the answer to one more question. “Jo, why did you come back to New York ?”
A deep sadness passed over the brunette's face. “Not long after Ana died my mom got sick and I came back to take care of her. She died eight months ago.”
In one swift move Blair moved her chair closer and wrapped Jo in a comforting hug. “Oh Joey, I'm so sorry, Rose was such a wonderful person.” She felt Jo stiffen at her embrace but as she stroked the other woman's back the sobs finally came. She held her once dear friend tight and let her get out the grief she had been holding in for so long.
Jo held tight to Blair as deep sobs wracked her body. She cried for her mother, she cried for Ana, she cried because Lily would never know how wonderful her mother had been, and finally she cried for the friendship she had lost so many years ago.
As the shuddering of the body in her arms slowed and finally stopped Blair found she did not want to let go. She did not want to give up the comfort of a body she knew all to well. A body she had thought about many times over the years.
Jo regained her composure and pulled away from the embrace she had longed for since that fateful night so many years ago. “Well that's it Blair, my life in a nut shell. So what about you, what have you been up to these last seven years?”
Blair looked into the piercing blue/green eyes that she could never lie to. She wiped away an errant tear from Jo's cheek then stood taking one strong hand in her own. “Come with me, I'll tell you everything just, please Joey, come with me right now.”
Something told Jo not to argue, Blair had to do things her own way so you might as well go along with it. It was time to start trusting again so she just nodded her head and allowed Blair to lead them out of the café. They hailed a cab and rode to Blair's penthouse in silence. As they walked into the lobby Jo noticed that Blair was still holding her hand. Instead of going to the penthouse elevator Blair took them up the main lifts and then crossed over to the freight elevator. She knew Blair was the only one using the penthouse lift now that Martha Riley was dead and she also knew Blair would never step foot in the very place Martha was killed.
Blair walked them into the penthouse and lead Jo over to the floor to ceiling windows that looked out over all of Manhattan .
“That's quite the view princess.”
Smiling at the old name Blair sighed and looked across the city. “It's suppose to be, but to me it looks empty.” Jo squeezed the hand in hers and gave the blonde a questioning look. “I took over my dad's company last year, and it feels….empty.”
Jo turned to watch her friends face, “Blair?”
“I didn't always feel this way, I use to be full of life and love and happiness.”
“What's wrong Blair, what's going on?”
Unable to face the one person who was both the cause and answer to her own misery, she continued to look over the city. “I threw it all away. Because of one frightened moment I threw away all the happiness I ever knew.”
Jo moved to block Blair's view and force the woman to look at her. “What do you mean Blair?”
Held in the gaze of piercing blue/green eyes she could only manage a whisper, “I kissed you.”
All of Jo's breath left her and she couldn't stop staring. Gathering her strength Blair tried again, “You kissed me and I kissed you, but then I got so scarred and I just couldn't, I ….”
Before she could completely fall apart Jo slipped a hand around Blair's neck and kissed her. Their bodies melted together, wrapping her arms around Jo's waist Blair kissed back with a vengeance. Seven years of anger, confusion and regret were resolved as nearly fifteen years of longing were finally addressed.
Before the conscious world could slip away Jo pulled back for some much needed air. Still holding Blair by the back of her neck Jo studied the perfect features for a few long moments, she ran her thumb along the bottom edge of the chiseled jawbone.
Blair could barely speak her teasing accusation, “You kissed me.”
Raising one dark brow Jo smirked, “And you kissed me.”
A feral grin spread across Blair's face as she growled in a low husky voice, “Yes I did.” Increasing her grip on Jo's back, she quickly pulled them together in an even more passion driven kiss. They tried consuming each other until the frenzy slowed into deep sensuous kisses.
A heat flooded Blair's body unlike any she had ever known, she remembered the spark that started it seven years ago and now she burned in the fire of her own desire for Jo, her Joey. One hand gently rubbed slow circles on Jo's back as the other found its way under the cotton shirt to settle itself on hot skin of a toned waist. She peppered soft kisses down Jo's jaw, following the curve of a soft neck, as she pressed swollen lips into the dip at the base of Jo's neck and the detective pulled back with a gasp.
“I can't do this Blair,” Jo whispered with some difficulty, “I have to go.”
Blair started to pull away as if she had been slapped, “I'm sorry Jo.” Looking into the blue/green eyes that had darkened with desire to a deep blue she decided to completely open herself up to Jo. She was tired of hiding, of all the secrets and lies she had told herself and everyone else over the years. This woman owned her heart and it would be her decision what to do with it. She stepped closer again, “Actually I'm not sorry,” she cupped one hand on the strong scarred cheek. “I love you Jo Polniaczek, I always have and I can't lose you again.”
Jo took the hand from her face and held it in both of her own. “I can't because Lily's waiting for me.” Slowly Blair's smile returned, as she understood Jo's reason for stopping. “I don't want to make any mistakes this time, we have a lot to talk about.” Blair just nodded dumbly as her smile increased, Jo was actually thinking about this. “I have a daughter now and I have to think about her as well.”
Blair clapped her free hand over Jo's mouth before she could go on. “I know all of that Joey, we'll work it out together. I need you Jo, I don't want to be without you anymore.” She leaned in and gently kissed the worried lips that were just inches away. “Go home and take care of Lily and call me tomorrow, maybe the three of us could have dinner someday soon.”
Unable to speak Jo smiled and gave her old friend a kiss full of passion and promise. She whispered, “Good night princess.” Then headed out the door.
Opening the door to her apartment that night a tiny blond projectile hurled itself into Jo's arms. After wrapping both arms tightly around her daughter, she munched loudly on the tiny ear as peals of laughter rang throughout the apartment. This was one of their favorite greetings and just as Jo was dangling the child upside down by her ankles, causing even more laughter, Camille poked her head around a corner and ordered them both to wash up for dinner. Jo gave her accomplice a thoroughly chastised look then raced her to the bathroom.
Dinner at the Polniaczek household was a spirited event, Lily would tell Jo about her day with all the drama of a Met star. The conversations were always in French since Ana was French and wanted Lily to grow up speaking the language of her homeland. It had been a tradition from the time Jo and Ana had met, dinner was always in French, the rest of the time English was the language of choice, but dinner was always a special time. Jo had been lucky to come across Camille, a French exchange student in need of a job and a place to live. To her it seemed as if Ana had guided her to them.
As the two women were doing the dishes Camille asked if Jo would be working over the weekend, she had a big statistics exam on Monday and wanted to spend the entire weekend studying. Jo was always happy when she had Lily to herself, it was her chance to try and make up for those times when she had to work late. That night as she tucked Lily into the bed they shared in the tiny two bedroom apartment she wondered how Lily would react to Jo having someone else in her life. As she was contemplating thoughts of Blair back in her life again, tiny hands reached up to trace her eyes. She looked down at the small face deep in thought. “What's up Lilybug?”
“You look different, your eyes look different.”
She quickly leaned down and rubbed noses with the child. “Oh yeah, how do you mean different?”
Lily looked into Jo's eyes for long moments then with the carefree honesty of a child she gave a small smile. “They're not sad anymore.”
“Of course I'm not sad, I have you.”
“No,” Lily looked at her seriously again, “something changed.”
Lily was a smart kid, way beyond her five (almost six) years, she had a deep intensity to her that could unnerve you at times, it was at these times she was most like Ana. “Your right, something has changed.”
“What?” Lily asked in her little girl curious voice.
“Well, someone I thought I had lost forever has come back into my life.”
Lily thought for a moment, “Is it your princess?”
Jo had used many of she and Blair's escapades as bedtime stories for Lily. The little girl loved to hear about Mere and her princess. And holding on to the good memories of Blair had helped her to overcome the bad one. Lily looked over at the three pictures on the bedside table, one was of Rose holding an infant Lily, one was of Ana and Lily on a swing at the park and the last one was of Jo and her princess laughing in front of a tray of cookies. Lily looked back at her Mere, a light dawning in her bright green eyes. “She was the lady at the police station.”
Laughing Jo wrapped an arm around the little body and pulled her close. “You're gonna make a great detective one day kid.”
“Can I meet her Mere?”
“I'd like that Bug. Now it's time to go to sleep.”
Jo reached over and turned out the light. “Sleep.” She growled.
“Okay, but when?” Lily persisted.
Knowing they would get no rest until plans were made Jo relented to her little bug as easily as she had always done with her princess. “Why don't we take Blair on a picnic this weekend?”
“To the castle in the park?” the girl squirmed excitedly.
“Well where else would you take a princess?” Jo smiled into the dark at the thought of the three of them on a little adventure.
“Lily go to sleep, you have school tomorrow. I'll call Blair and see when she's available, now good night.”
Lily wiggled around until she was in a happy little ball pushing her back into Jo's side. “Night Mere.”
Jo relaxed as she listened to the familiar sound of her daughter falling asleep. She lay there thinking back to earlier in the evening and a scorching kiss from her princess. She tried to understand how one kiss could erase all the hurt that she had carried around inside. Sighing she knew there was no understanding it, that was simply Blair. Blair was her destroyer and her savior. That was the way it had always been and would always be. She realized she had been missing half of her soul for the last seven years. The moment she walked away from Blair she lost a part of herself and the kiss earlier had returned it, she was whole once more.
Blair sat looking out over the city as the sun set and the city lights spread out before her like diamonds tossed on black velvet. She could not bring herself to move from the spot where only a short time ago Jo had once again saved her, once again become her hero. As she looked out, a warm feeling filled her, one she had not felt in seven years. She no longer felt empty. For the first time in longer than she could remember she had hope and promise that things would finally be right. Jo had returned. Her Joey had come home.
Pulling a card from her pocket Blair dialed the number listed. Jo picked up her cell phone on the first ring so as not to wake Lily; she was use to getting calls at all hours of the night. “Polniaczek.”
Blair took a deep breath; knowing she should probably give her old friend some time, but the desire to hear that familiar voice again was too great. “Hi Jo.”
“Blair?” Jo was completely awake now, “is everything okay?”
“I know it's late, I'm sorry, I just wanted to say good night.” Blair waited hoping she had not made a mistake.
Smiling Jo relaxed into the pillows again. “That's okay, I'm glad you called.”
Blair smiled as she curled up in her chair cradling the phone. “I don't want to push you Jo, but I want to see you again, we could talk.”
“I'd like that, do you want to meet for lunch tomorrow?”
“Why don't you come by the office, I'll order something in, no crowds, less noise?”
Blair let out a breath she did not know she had been holding. “Do you remember my Dad's office? It's mine now.”
Jo knew the address well; everything about Blair was etched into her memory. “Somehow I just can't see you in David's office.”
Blair laughed, “Well I did have it redecorated. So how about 12:30?”
Jo agreed, “I'll be there.” She grimaced as a small foot kicked her thigh. “Hey, do you have some free time this weekend? Lily and I would like to take you on a picnic.”
“Oh Jo that would be lovely, I have an appointment on Saturday, but I'm free all day Sunday.”
Closing her eyes Jo pictured a bed across the room and it's beautiful blonde occupant. “We'll make plans tomorrow, good night princess.”
Blair closed her eyes to see the dark haired beauty as she had every night for so many years. “Good night Joey.” Contented, she got up and finally made her way to the bedroom.
Jo gently scooted Lily over so she could claim a small amount of bed for herself. Stretching out she quickly fell asleep looking forward to the next day.
The next morning Jo took Lily to school instead of Camille and explained her, and therefore the NYPD's views on bullying in school, to the principal. And how any school thought to endorse bullying by letting it slide by would find themselves under the highest scrutiny every department the city of New York had. Given the woman's pallor when she left Jo felt she had sufficiently made her point.
At 12:30 on the dot Jo stepped off the elevator and up to the receptionist desk of Blair's office. Just as she was about to give the young woman her name a door opened at the end of the hall and Blair swept through smiling at her friends legendary punctuality.
“On time as usual. Some things never change.” Blair stepped forward taking the detectives arm and leading her down the hall. “Lauren, we are not to be disturbed.” Blair called back over her shoulder as she led Jo into her office and closed the door.
Inside Jo looked around and could see Blair's touch in every aspect of the room. Gone were the dark wood panels and oversized furnishings. A French country desk occupied the center of the room with comfortable leather chairs in front, a soft leather chair behind it. A seating area was set up in the corner windows, while two sofas faced each other on the opposite wall. Bookcases line the wall beside the door, filled with trinkets from every corner of the globe. The walls held art and photos from around the world.
Blair led them over to the sofa where there was a small spread of food set out on the coffee table. “I know you are still on duty so we have friesa iced tea.” Blair explained as she handed a glass to Jo. “I wasn't sure what you would want so we have salad, pesto toast points with feta and spinach, and roasted vegetable panini, and fruit salad for dessert.”
“This looks great Blair.” Jo took a sip of her tea then placed the glass on the table. She stared at the food for a moment. Looking up she started to speak. “Blair”
“Jo” Blair started at the same time. They both paused then Blair quickly began again. “Please Jo, I want to apologize. I over reacted and behaved badly. I was so caught up in what everyone else's expectations of my life were that I never considered what I wanted and felt to be valid.”
“No Jo, I made a mess out of everything, the most important relationship of my entire life and …”
Placing a gentle hand over Blair's mouth Jo looked into the warm brown eyes that filled her dreams. “Blair, we both made mistakes and we're both sorry, so lets not waist anymore time on things in the past.” She let her hand fall as tears began to fill the brown pools. “I love you Blair Warner, I always have, even in my deepest anger I never stopped loving you. Ana tried to get me to call you and make amends, but your rejection hurt so bad, I just couldn't risk it. Seeing you again I realize Ana had been right all along, you can't deny your heart. But I don't want to rush things and I want us to get to know each other again and for you to meet my daughter; she's the most important person in my life. So are you, and I don't want to be without you anymore. I'm not the same person you knew. I've grown up a lot in the last seven years thanks to Ana.” Jo noticed the disappointed look on Blair's face and reached up to wipe away the tears that had managed to escape. “Ana was the greatest gift I could have ever asked for,” Blair looked down at her lap to try and hide the pain of knowing that someone else was Jo's greatest gift. “She gave me Lily and taught me to move past my anger. She also taught me that our time here is short and we should make the most of the time we have.” Blair looked up into loving blue/green eyes. “I don't want to waste anymore time and I don't want to live a half life anymore.”
Blair wrapped her arms around Jo's neck. “Oh Jo, I love you, welcome home.”
The next couple of days passed quickly for Jo as she and Lily planned and prepared their outing with Blair. Time did not move at quite the same speed for Blair. Her days were dotted with meetings and paperwork. She tried to arrange another lunch with Jo but the detective was always too busy. Each evening as Blair crawled into bed she would call Jo and they would talk until neither one could stay awake any longer. It had only been three days since they had seen each other, but the excitement of seeing Jo again made Blair feel like she was going on a first date. She woke early on Sunday and went through every piece of clothing in her enormous closet to find just the right outfit. After a long hot shower, Blair put on her most casual pair of designer jeans and a tailored white cotton eyelet blouse. Her usual routine of hair and makeup seemed to take longer as she considered what would make Jo smile in a wanting way. Breakfast was nothing more than a cup of coffee because of the butterflies in her stomach. As she sipped the strong brew she pulled out a special wine cooler she had bought just for today and filled it with a bottle of wine, a bottle of juice and glasses. Double-checking everything to make sure it was perfect she settled down on the sofa to wait for Jo and Lily to pick her up.
At exactly two minutes to eleven the doorman held the door open for a heavily laden Jo and Lily. The security guard immediately came from around his desk to offer assistance. “Detective Polniaczek, we were not expecting to see you today, can I help you with that?”
“It's okay Daniel, Ms Warner is expecting us, could you please let her know Lily and I are here, we'll wait over there.” Jo smiled at the man who had been such an absolute wreck the last time she had seen him. He had discovered the body of Martha Riley in the elevator after it had reached the lobby, opened and no one exited. Jo was now grateful that he had found her; other wise Blair would have come home that evening and found the bloody mess.
She picked up the bag Lily had been carrying and walked the girl over to the comfortable sofas. Lily collapsed with an exaggerated sigh as Jo sat down next to her. “What's the matter kid you tired already?” Jo slid the blanket that Lily had rolled up and tied with a string to carry on her back, over the little blonde head and placed it with her picnic basket.
Lily draped herself across Jo's lap. “I didn't know we were moving to the park, I thought it was just a picnic.” Lily repeated the comment Jo had made earlier over the amount of toys the girl wanted to bring.
“I told you not to pack so much.” Jo brushed away blonde bangs that had fallen in her favorite green eyes.
“I just need a rest, I'll be okay.”
Jo smiled at the little body across her lap and continued to stroke her hair. Daniel appeared and offered them two bottles of cold water. “I thought perhaps…”
Jo gladly accepted the bottles. “Thank you Daniel, that's real nice of you. Lily can you say thank you to Daniel for being so thoughtful?”
Lily sat up taking the bottle that Jo opened for her, “Thank you Daniel for being so thoughtful.” She took a big gulp of water as the two adults tried not to laugh.
“My pleasure, Ms Warner will be right down.” Giving the little girl a wink he turned to go back to his desk.
“Hey Daniel I thought we released the elevator, why's it still closed?” Jo had noticed the sign that blocked off the penthouse elevator.
“Ms Warner is having a new one put in with security cameras and an alarm system, we are also adding extra security cameras throughout the building. I still don't know how someone got in and out without anyone noticing.” The big man looked truly disturbed that a person he was supposed to be protecting was killed.
Once again Jo felt for the guy, she knew all to well what he was going through. No matter how hard you try, you can't save everyone. “Well, extra security is never a bad idea.” Daniel gave her a nod and returned to his desk as the elevator doors on the main bank open and Blair walked out completely capturing Jo's attention. She was as always beautiful. Jo had forgotten how a room would seem to brighten just because Blair had entered it.
A large grin broke out on Blair's face as she spotted her two guests. As she crossed the lobby Jo stood up and got Lily to her feet, the little girl suddenly feeling shy plastered herself to Jo's side. “Hello Jo” Blair said as she gave her friend a hug without crushing Lily. She looked down at the little girl then kneeled down so they were at the same level. “Hi Lily.”
Jo brushed the hairs away from Lily's eyes again, “Lily this is my friend Blair.” Lily managed to croak out ‘hi' as she clutched her water bottle to her chest. “Hey, what's up with you? You're not shy kiddo.”
Lily looked up at her Mere with wide eyes. “I've never met a real princess before.”
Blair glanced up at Jo and her smile seemed to reach out to every part of her body. “Well, I've never met a little girl as pretty as you before, so I guess we are both kind of nervous.” The little blonde head looked between the two women and then gave a small laugh. “Are you ready for a day at the park, because I am.”
The little head bobbed up and down. “I brought games.”
A car pulled up outside the building and Blair noticed her driver step out. “Our car just arrived so why don't we go then.” Noticing the look on Jo's face Blair stood up and held up a hand. “I am not walking to the other side of the park with all this, don't worry Robert will just drop us off and then pick us up later.” She reached out a hand, “You ready Lily?”, the little girl took her hand grinning as they walked out the door leaving Jo to carry all the bags.
Some things never change thought Jo as she scooped up the blanket, bag and picnic basket and followed Blair as she had always done years ago.
Two blondes laughed and cheered each other on in a hearty game of beanbag toss. It was a game Jo had made up to help Lily with her eye hand coordination. Something she quickly figured out Lily needed little help with. She sat watching as her little bug explained to Blair the best technique for tossing the small square bags in order to hit the target every time. Jo was amazed at how quickly Lily had taken to Blair, it was something that went beyond the Blair Warner charm and allure. Her smiled deepened as she realized Blair was not ‘trying' to impress Lily, she was just being herself, a sight few other than Jo had ever seen.
Like Jo herself, Lily had a built in bullshit meter that could detect when someone was being fake. She had heard stories about the princess all her life. When she was very little she found a picture of Blair and asked about the beautiful woman. It had made her Mere very sad, reluctantly she was told about the princess her Mere had grown up with. Lily had become enchanted with the woman in the photo smiling and holding onto Mere and each time Jo had tried to hide the picture Lily would find it until finally Ana framed it and put it on Jo's nightstand. Jo could hide her every emotion from the entire world, but she could never hide anything from Ana and Lily.
A tiny laughing body crashed into Jo shaking her from her thoughts of the past. She fell on her back while lifting the child in the air swaying her back and forth making the girl laugh even harder until she dropped the precious bundle onto her chest and hugged her tight. Blair sat down on the blanket next to the two squirming prone figures. She could not help the smile that lit up her entire face. Watching the two the thought hit her that Jo was a mom, and a good one at that. Lily was a delightful little girl, she was tough and smart, kind and loving, everything she would expect from a child of Jo's. She watched the interaction between mother and daughter and wanted so much to be a part of it. Jo caught her eye at that exact moment and gave her a wink, flipping Lily into her lap as she sat up.
“Mere, I'm hungry.”
“Worked up an appetite did you? So who won?” Jo asked as she cradled her little one.
Blair gave the little girl a suspicious look. “I feel like I've been hustled.” She quickly smiled at the little laugh Lily let out then picked up a plate. “So what would you like Lily?” The little girl climbed her way out of Jo's lap to point out all her favorite dishes. Blair served up the plate and settled Lily between the two women.
Jo watched unable to take her eyes off the woman who haunted her dreams for so many years. “I see you retained some of your skills from Eastland.”
Blair almost blushed at the memory of two girls working side by side at the all girls' school long ago. “And I see your cooking skills have vastly improved.”
“Mere didn't cook this, Camille did.” Lily casually informed Blair as she popped a grilled asparagus in her mouth.
The blush that made it's way up Jo's neck and face did not go unnoticed by Blair. The urge to tease her old friend came as natural as breathing. “So a nanny and a cook, my how the tables have turned, who would have thought that you would be the one to have servants, while I don't have a one.” Blair could not help smirk at the look on Jo's face.
A spark of irritation flashed through Jo, but then she thought about it and gave a small laugh. Long gone were the days of her flash temper. “Trust me, be glad Camille cooked, she's quite the chef. I'm still trying not to burn the burgers.” They both smiled at the memory of a weekend alone years ago when Jo filled the kitchen with smoke attempting to make them a late night meal.
They ate and kept the talk light and easy, growing comfortable with each other again. Blair had not felt this content in seven years and she could not help smiling every time bright green/blue eyes caught hers. At one point Jo reached over and brushed away a stray strand of hair that had blown across perfect cheekbones and Blair's breath caught as an electric current ran through her. Tucking the strand behind a delicate ear Jo let her fingers gently caress the soft milky cheek. Both women were lost in the sensation until a small throat cleared between them. Embarrassed, Jo quickly removed her hand as she looked down to see what Lily needed.
“Is it time to go up to the castle now?” Lily asked looking rather pointedly at her Mere. Seeing the blush on her mothers face she jumped up and grabbed Blair's hand. “Come on princess.”
“Lily.” Jo's tone stopped the girl in mid pull on the other woman's arm. “Blair may not be finished”, she said a little gentler, giving the girl a warning look.
Lily had the good sense to look admonished. She held the delicate hand gently in both her own. “Are you finished eating? We could go see the castle if you are.”
Smiling at the solemn little face Blair squeezed the little hands. “I think a walk would be very nice right now.” She stood up then reached down to the brunette, wanting that contact again. Pulling Jo to her feet the three set off hand in hand for the small castle just up the hill.
They explored the castle inside and out as Blair explained what life would have been like for a princess who had lived in a castle such as this one. The entire time they walked and talked she never let go of Jo's hand. As they headed back down the hill Jo released her long enough to put Lily on her shoulders then reached out once more for her princess. Blair did not disappoint her and quickly took up her place at the brunette's side.
Arriving back at their picnic sight Blair set about dishing up a lovely fruit salad while Jo and Lily played some bizarre Polniaczek version of leapfrog in which Lily ended up hanging by her ankles several times. She watched enchanted with Jo's ease and love for her daughter, she really was a good mother. As she watched their play changed to something involving Jo spinning the little girl around until she would squeal with delight, then toss her in the air until mom's arms grew tired. They had started chasing each other around the area, when Blair noticed Jo was getting a little winded. She called her two companions back and offered them drinks and bowls of fruit.
Two very out of breath individuals flopped down next to the blonde who was holding out bottles of water for each. Lily quickly started gulping her water as Jo sipped at hers.
“Slow down Bug or you'll make yourself sick.” Jo reminded the girl.
“But I'm thirsty.”
“You can have all you want, just drink it slowly, a little at a time.”
Lily made a show of sipping her water as she arranged Jo's knees to be used as a backrest. Leaning back on her hands in order to support them both the detective watched her daughter pick out her favorite bits of fruit out of the bowl Blair handed her. A sense of complete contentment washed over her as she looked over at the beautiful blonde next to her. In the past she had stolen thousands of adoring glances at her roommate, but now she chose to openly watch as Blair brushed some hair from Lily's face, she no longer cared if the blonde saw the love in her eyes. In fact she hoped Blair could see just how much Jo loved her, how much she always had and always will.
Noticing Jo was not eating her fruit because of the position she had settled in to make Lily comfortable, Blair moved closer until their shoulders were touching and began hand feeding her former grease monkey. Quiet settled in as they shared a desert, both unwilling to disturb the moment. Blair observed that today Jo's eyes were more green than blue, some days they were more blue, most days they were a stunning unique combination, but today they almost matched the field that surrounded them. She would let her fingers linger a moment longer after each blueberry or strawberry then quickly bring the same fingers to her own mouth to lick off any juice that might remain. After the third time she noticed how Jo's eyes were darkening with desire. Without a second thought she leaned over and took the soft lips with her own. The sweet taste that was uniquely Jo combined with the fruit drawing a soft moan from Blair. Jo lifted one hand to the back of Blair's neck as she deepened the kiss. Coming up for air they were surprised to find a small stunned face looking up watching.
“Lily” Blair started as she looked down wondering what to say.
Lily looked to her Mere. “Vous avez ete baiser de la princesse.
Jo watched her daughter very closely. “Yes Lilybug, I was kissing the princess.”
“Mais vous n'avez jamais embrasse la maman, qui signifet-t-elle que vous l'aimez plus que la maman?” Lily asked a little confused and unsure.
Jo reached over and stroked the golden head that reminded her so much of Ana. “No, I never kissed your maman like that. Baby, I loved your mommy very much, but it wasn't the same way I love Blair. I have been in love with Blair almost my whole life. Mommy knew about Blair and always told me I needed to find her again and I think she would be very happy right now. But I want to know how you feel about this.”
Lily looked back and forth between the two adults considering this new development. She knew Mere always spoke lovingly about the woman who looked over her from the picture on their nightstand. And now that Mere had found her she seemed happy-happy instead of sad-happy all the time. “Mais vous n'avez jamais aime personne, mais moi et la maman.”
Jo reached down and scooped the girl into her lap as Blair tried to move away and give them a moment. With a gentle hand on Blair's thigh Jo held her in place.
“Come here both of you. Lily you know I have loved a lot of people other than you and your maman and I am capable of loving even more. You are the most important person in my life and my loving Blair will not change how much I love you. But I do love her, she makes me happy in a way I can't explain to you.”
Lily looked at Blair as if she were studying a painting. Blair could not help smile at the serious little face. She hoped that as soon as the girl got over the shock of seeing them kiss she would be okay. She wanted to tell the child how much she and Jo meant to her and that she was not trying to replace her mommy. “J'amie votre mere de tout mon Coeur le Lily, j'ai toujours, je l'ai juste attendue d'aller a maison. Et je ne peux pas vous dire comment heureux je suis qu'elle est allee a la ma avec vous. Je regretted que je ne connaisse pas votre maman, mais de que Jo met dit, connaitre c'est la connaitre. Pourriez-vous etre pas mal avec moi vous aimant et votre parce que je voudrais vraiment vous avoir dans ma vie.”
The little head whipped around to Jo shocked at this new revelation. “She knows French, she must be one of us.” She turned to Blair serious once more, “Will you not hurt Mere and always love us?”
Tears sprang to the brown eyes as they sought green/blue to convey the sincerity of her words. “I promise.” She watched as the green brightened again in the eyes she wanted to spend the rest of her life looking into.
Lily threw herself at Blair and wrapped her small arms around the blond head. “Okay, I like that and I like you too princess.”
Watching the two loves of her life, Jo was over come with emotion and quickly wiped at the tears that had sprung up. She smiled at how Blair had opened her heart to a five year old and asked to be let in, she professed her love to Jo while still making Lily feel good about her own mommy. She did not want to replace Ana, but to find a place of her own in the child's heart. She watched as Blair held and rocked Lily, they were whispering in each other's ear, and then Blair began humming softly as she cradled the child to her. After a while the little head dropped down asleep. Jo sat watching them and knew she was a lucky woman. A few moments later she reached over and placed the small body on the blanket. She kissed the golden locks then turned and kissed the deeper golden head of the woman she loved. At last Jo felt she could truly be happy.
“Jo? Why does Lily only speak French sometimes?”
“She'll do it when she's upset, we speak French at dinner, something Ana always insisted on. I think it's her connection to Ana, a part of her mom that's always with her.”
“So is it okay that I…”
Jo smiled affectionately at the hesitation Blair was having. “Lily sort of thinks of it as being in a secret club and you just became a member.”
They watched Lily sleep for a few moments then Jo pulled Blair down onto her shoulder as she laid them back on the blanket. Blair had never felt so safe and loved until being wrapped in Jo's arms. She lay there taking in the scent that was still familiar to her after all these years. Jo idly stroked the soft hair that cascaded over her shoulder and entwined the fingers of their free hand together gently rubbing Blair's soft knuckles with her thumb. “Thank you” she whispered so softly that had Blair's ear not been next to the detective's mouth she would not have heard it. The blonde smiled and gave a small squeeze to the hand that held hers.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and playing. Robert returned in the late afternoon to take them back to the penthouse. Blair had insisted on making dinner for Jo and Lily, and of course no was not an option.
Lily had never seen anything like Blair's home. It was massive compared to their little two-bedroom apartment and the view made her feel like she was flying. “You have a castle in the sky and it's bigger than my school.”
Blair laughed at the wide-eyed expression looking up at her. “Would you like to watch a movie while I make dinner?” Lily looked around the living room for a television. Blair looked to Jo to make sure it was okay then held out a hand to Lily. “Come with me.” She led the little girl to her home theatre where one entire wall was filled by a screen. Sofa's and comfortable chairs filled the room. Lily ran and jumped on the soft leather sofa as Blair went to a sliding panel in the back of the room to select something suitable to watch.
Walking over to her daughter Jo looked around at the impressive suite. “This is something Blair.”
The lights began to dim as Blair joined her. “If you need anything Lily, we are just down the hall.” The little girl nodded her head as she waved them away. The opening sequence for the Silly Symphonies was just starting. Blair took Jo's hand and whispered in her ear as she led them from the room. “Old movies are still my favorite.” They both smiled remembering the many nights they had spent curled up next to each other on the sofa at Mrs. Garrett's watching old black and whites.
Jo watched as Blair moved around the kitchen with the ease of an expert. “You look like you know what your doing there Warner.”
“Once I was on my own I discovered there was an art to cooking and it was something I love doing. After a long hard day, I come home, take a hot shower then come to the kitchen to relax, it's cathartic.”
“That's not the Blair Warner I remember.”
Tossing chopped vegetables into the hot wok Blair gazed into green/blue eyes to see if this was a good thing. “Your not the only one who grew up Jo.”
Blair flicked her wrist tossing the veggies and spices together. Jo could not help admire the confident way the blond moved, so sure of herself, so sexy. Once Blair had removed the wok from the fire Jo moved up from behind and captured her in strong arms, she nuzzled the graceful neck and delivered tender kisses to a sensitive ear. “You have no idea how glad I am we are all grown up now.” She whispered as she felt shivers run through the warm body she held.
Blair melted into the arms that held her for just a moment then reached back and swatted Jo on the rear. “You are going to make me ruin dinner.” As Jo reluctantly let go and began moving away, Blair grabbed her, giving her detective a passionate kiss. “This will be continued later.” Grinning she pushed Jo away and continued with her cooking. “You and Lily wash up, dinner will be ready in five minutes.”
Inconceivable as it was, Jo felt herself falling in love with Blair all over again. There was nothing she could pin point as a defining reason, but as she watched the woman she had known longer than almost everyone in her life, her heart seemed to skip a beat. And she was filled once again with the greatest love she had ever known.
Dinner was casual and relaxing, everyone laughed recounting the fun they all had that day. For Blair this was something new, having a family dinner that was not a formal affair with at least a dozen people. She watched as Jo filled a lettuce wrap for Lily while they talked about how high Lily thought she had climb in the castle. Such a simple gesture and conservation, and Blair wanted to be apart of it so bad. As if the child could hear her thoughts Lily looked over to her and smiled. “Blair, how high did we climb today, I bet we climbed the highest, can we do it again?”
Moisture filled the brown eyes but did not spill over. “Any time you want sweetie.” Blair looked over at Jo who was giving her the biggest smile she had ever seen cross the woman's face.
After dinner Jo and Lily helped clean up and put away the dishes. All three retired to the home theatre to watch old cartoons. Lily was draped across one of the large overstuffed leather chairs while Blair snuggled into Jo's shoulder, a comforting arm wrapped around her.
“You are a really good mom and you have an amazing daughter.”
“Oh yeah, what makes her so amazing?”
“She's just like you.” Jo kissed the golden head and then the pink lips that were brought up to meet her own. “Stay with me Joey.”
Brushing back a strand that had fallen over the soft brown eyes that had grown dark with desire Jo groaned as she cupped the soft cheek. “I can't, Lily has school and I've gotta work.”
“You could call Camille, have her pack you a bag, and I'll send Robert over for it.” Blair ached with her need for this woman; she didn't want to think of letting go of her tonight.
“I can't Blair, I can't have Camille pack a bag for me.”
Blair was hurt and could not look into the dark green eyes anymore. “Why not? I thought…”
“Blair,” Jo lifted Blair's chin until their eyes met again, she needed her princess to see what was in her heart, “I am the only one with a key to the safe.” Blair looked confused, “No one can access my gun except me. I want to stay here with you more than anything, but I have other responsibilities right now. Besides, Lily and I have never slept apart since her mother died, except for when I'm on a stake out. And I'd like to talk to her first, I need to make sure she's okay.”
Mention of a gun sobered Blair instantly as she thought about the reasons Jo had to carry one. Jo risked her life to insure others were safe and protected. She looked into the deep green eyes and realized that to expect anything less it would not be Jo. No matter how much thought of her beautiful grease monkey carrying a gun disturbed Blair she had complete trust in the woman to keep herself safe. She looked over at the little girl who had captured her heart. The child had fallen asleep sprawled over the arms of the chair as only a child can; the sight brought such joy to her heart. Reaching up she caressed her love's face. “You better take her home so you can both get some rest. I'll call Robert, he'll meet you down stairs.”
“You don't have to do that Blair.”
“I know, but please let me do this so I know you are safe.” She pulled Jo's head down until their lips met in a deep kiss. After a few moments she released a very flustered Jo and got up to go make the call.
Three days had passed without a word from Jo and Blair was beginning to panic. The morning after their picnic she had gotten a message saying that Jo was going under cover and could not have any communication, she would call when she could. Blair had called Camille and Lily every day to see if there was any news. Jo had a system in place via one of her co-workers to keep Camille informed daily so Lily would not worry too much. Camille assured her everything was fine and Lily chattered on about her day telling Blair everything she would normally tell her Mere. The two younger women took the silence and unknown in stride, they were accustom to it, Blair Warner was not.
That night Blair could not sleep for the worrying sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. When her phone rang at a little past two in the morning she grabbed it before the second ring. “Hello.”
“Hiya princess, I'm sorry to wake you.”
Relief washed over her at hearing the tired voice on the other end. “Jo! Oh Jo, I've been so worried, where are you, are you okay?”
“I know it's late, but could I come up?”
“Of course you can, are you downstairs?”
“In front of the building.”
“I'll be right down.”
Jo walked into the lobby and made her way over to the security desk. “No. I'll come up, see you in a minute.”
Daniel had gotten to his feet as the detective approached. Her disheveled appearance and weary features had concerned him. “Detective Polniaczek are you okay, is everything all right?”
“I'm going up to see Ms Warner, she's expecting me. I just wanted to let you know we caught him.” There was no need to explain whom they had caught. She gave the man a sympathetic look. “I don't think there was anything you could have done.” She watched as the shock of that statement sunk in. Martha Riley had gotten involved with the wrong people and had paid the ultimate price. Giving the man a nod of reassurance she turned and headed for the elevators.
“Detective.” Jo stopped and turned to him once more. He pointed to the penthouse elevator. “The new elevator is open now.” She gave him a small smile and headed for the penthouse.
When Jo stepped out of the elevator Blair was waiting at her door. The sight of Blair in a soft flimsy nightie made her pause before continuing on. Blair gasped at the sight of Jo and ran to her. “Oh my god Jo, you're bleeding!”
“It's not my blood, I'm okay.” Jo tried to hold Blair off her not wanting to get her dirty or worst getting some dirt bags blood on her. Even thought it had all dried Jo could not stand the idea of Blair coming into contact with the worst part of her job. She was beginning to think coming over had not been such a good idea after all. But she needed to see this woman, to hold her and know the world had true good in it.
Blair could see Jo's face cloud over so she pushed her own fears aside. Right now taking care of Jo was all that mattered. “Come on, let's get you in a nice hot shower.” She took Jo's hand and led her into the master bath. She let Jo undress herself as she prepared the shower.
“I need to throw away my shirt, but I don't want you to touch it.”
Blair turned to find a mostly naked Jo holding the bloody garment. Blood had seeped through and stained the white bra as well, but Jo still had it on. Dirt and blood where everywhere except for a bright white bandage on Jo's left forearm. “You're hurt.” Blair ran over to examine the injury, giving the embarrassed woman a writhing glare.
“It's just a scratch,” she took a delicate hand in her own before it could start searching for more injuries, “honest.” She turned their hands so Blair could see an old scar on the back of her hand. “I've had worst cuts doing the dishes.” She smiled and placed a gentle kiss on the worried forehead. “I should get in the shower.”
Searching the dull blue/green eyes for the truth Blair finally let go to retrieve a trash bag from a nearby cabinet. She handed the bag over and began to head for the door. “I'll find you something clean to wear.”
The hot water pounded away at the stress in Jo's tired muscles. She scrubbed at the grime and blood, but as hard as she tried, the memories of that night could not be washed away. She did not know how long she had just stood there letting the water wash over her. All her thoughts for the last two hours since the shoot out had been about seeing Blair and having that sense of security that holding the blonde gave her. Now she was unsure of what to say or do. The last thing she wanted was to bring the horrible parts of her work into Blair's life.
As she toweled off the bandage peeled away revealing a nasty red groove in her skin where a bullet had grazed her arm. She would not tell Lily how she got the graze in her skin, but she dreaded Blair's reaction to it. Looking around she found all her clothes gone including the trash bag and laid out on the settee were clean shorts and a tee shirt. No sooner had she pulled the shirt over her head, Blair opened the door and walked in.
Brown eyes smiled softly at the sight before her. Without a word she walked over and guided Jo to the bench at her vanity. Grabbing a clean towel Blair squeezed some of the water out of the long dark hair then began combing it. Jo watched the reflection of the woman she loved taking care of her and it felt, right. Blair pulled out a first aid kit and after examining the cut and seeing for herself it was nothing major she gently put a new bandage on. Taking Jo by the hand she led them both to her king size bed and pulled Jo under the covers with her.
“Blair, I'm sorry.”
Blair stroked her fingers down the side of the most beautiful face she had ever known. “Shhh, you need to sleep Joey.”
Jo took the hand on her face and kissed it. “No Blair, I need you. Nothing else matters except you.”
The love and desire in Jo's voice was all Blair needed to hear to know that after seven long painful years she would finally be able to show the woman she loved just how much she loved her. “I love you Jo, I always have.” She kissed Jo with a hunger she did not know she possessed.
Rolling them over until Jo could lay atop of the length of Blair she looked down into the brown pools that had always set her on fire and was surprised to find a desire that matched her own staring back.
As the sun began to illuminate a small opening in the curtains Jo's eyes finally fluttered shut. The warm body of her lover wrapped tightly in her arms also succumbing to the need for sleep.
Sometime past noon Jo woke to a sore pain in her arm. She looked down to see Blair sleeping on her shoulder, one arm wrapped securely around her waist. Her injured arm was pinned under the blonde's shoulders. Slowly and ever so gently she managed to move Blair onto her other side so Jo could slip out of the bed without waking her. She made her way to the bathroom and found some toothpaste and mouthwash. After freshening up she quietly moved into the kitchen to make coffee.
A half hour later a sleepy Blair found Jo in the living room cradling a cold cup of coffee and staring out over the cityscape. She called to Jo as she entered but the brunette was so lost in her own thoughts she did not hear her. As Blair walked over she continued to gently call to Jo hoping not to startle her. The brooding features of the detective were almost overwhelming considering the night of passion the two had just spent together. Blair knew Jo had to be thinking about what had happened before she showed up on Blair's doorstep.
Jo had been going over and over again how fast everything had gone bad when they moved in on their suspect. A lucky break had given them a name in the Riley case and after three days of tracking they found their guy. Unfortunately he seemed to be a part of a small time up and coming Ukrainian mob. One nervous trigger finger from one of the lackeys had erupted in the seedy bar into the ok corral. Three injured cops, five arrested mobsters and two dead Ukrainians including their guy. After the first shot was fired Jo had ducked behind a pool table and made her way to the other side of the room. As she came around the corner of the table the first thing she saw was the wrong end of a gun. She tried to knock it away and roll to the side, but the bullet grazed her arm. From the floor she had no choice but to fire as the gun was once again pointed in her direction. The man fell on top of her, dead before he hit the ground.
Something seemed to be calling to Jo, someone. She brought her attention back to the present and a worried Blair kneeling before her. “Jo can you hear me?”
Jo attempted to give her lover a smile, but it came out more like a grimace. “Sorry, I was thinking about work.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“You know you can talk to me about anything Joey, I'm a really good listener.”
A dark cloud passed over Jo's features. “Not this.”
Blair brushed her fingers over the troubled brow. “I'm always here for you, no matter what. Now how about I get you a fresh cup of coffee.”
As the blonde stood Jo grabbed her hand. “I'm sorry Blair, my work is not very pleasant sometimes, a lot of the time. Know that just being with you is comfort enough.”
Bending down Blair gently kissed the worried lips in front of her. “Whatever you need, I'm here. Now I'm going to fix us some breakfast and call the office to let them know I have not disappeared and then we are going to go get Lily.” Stealing one more kiss she made her way to the kitchen.
Jo sat a while longer as her dark mood drained away. She was truly lucky to have found Blair again. Blair, who had always understood and allowed her to be herself. She watched the woman who held her heart and felt like she had finally come home.
SIX WEEKS LATER
Jo helped Camille carry boxes into her new room. She paused at the open door of her daughter's new bedroom, watching as Lily and Blair unpacked toys and clothes. She could not help quietly laughing when Blair showed Lily a special section of her new closet where the little girl could put all the things she did not know what to do with. Just like Blair, Lily now had her very own messy cabinet. Jo did not have the heart to tell her princess that one cabinet could not contain the mess her little Lily would make. Leaning against the doorframe she watched her two girls having fun as they decided where each doll and stuffed animal would live. Blair was going to make a great mom, she adored Lily and the child loved the blonde with all her heart.
Blair pulled three framed pictures out of the little suitcase and arranged them on Lily's nightstand just as they had been in her old bedroom. She noticed a movement in the doorway and looked up to catch bright green eyes smiling back at her with love. She returned the smile then went to help Lily who was having trouble reaching a high shelf.
Jo continued down the hall and deposited her box in Camille's room, glad the young French woman had agreed to move to Blair's with them. She had been a part of their lives almost since returning to New York and was family as far as Jo and Lily were concerned. When Blair had asked Jo to move in she had included Camille as well. The women had become good friends over the last few weeks as the two of them would take command of the kitchen and create the most incredible food Jo had ever eaten.
Jo moved back into the living room to look out over the city. Leaving her old place had been a little difficult. At first she felt she would be losing some of her independence, but as she looked out over the city that held such harshness and beauty and cruelty Jo knew just how lucky she was. She had a family and a home where all the people she loved were together. As these thoughts occupied her mind she felt a warm familiar body come up behind her and two beautiful arms wrapped around her waist.
“Having second thoughts?”
Jo turned in Blair's arms and draped her wrists over the blonde's shoulders. “Just wondering why we didn't do this sooner.” Jo brushed a stray strand of hair from her lover's cheek. She looked deep into warm brown eyes and tried to convey with her own the depth of her love for this woman.
A spark of electricity seemed to flow from Jo's body into Blair. “Stay with me forever Joey?”
Moving closer so their lips were almost touching Jo whispered, “And then some.” Gently she brought their lips together, as the kiss deepened they held each other even tighter. Only the need for air forced their lips to pull apart. Jo held on to the woman she loved with all her heart, the woman she had always loved.
Blair nestled her head on Jo's shoulder. She never thought she could be this happy.
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