Summary: Jo and Blair discover they have feelings for one another, but can those feelings survive the light of day? Or do they only exist hidden in the shadows.

Disclaimers: The characters are not mine, I do not own them, nor do I profit from them, I only borrowed them to come play in my story.

Warning: This story depicts a loving relationship between two women. If this is not your cup of tea, please find another story to enjoy.

Comments are always welcome; please send to .

March 6, 2012



In Shadow And Light

Their friendship started with an insult. In fact friend did not enter their vocabulary for most of the first year of their forced cohabitation. The two were complete opposites with no understanding of where the other one came from, but somewhere between the arguments, the hostile looks and the verbal skirmishes Jo began to see glimpses of Blair. Not the image Blair projected for everyone, but the real girl underneath. It didn't happen often, mostly when Blair thought she was alone, able to relax and enjoy a private moment. Then the blonde heiress would let down her barriers and the truly wonderful person that Blair was could be seen.

It was this Blair that Jo could relate to. Those brief glimpses showed her a girl who was just as unsure and vulnerable as she was. While Blair could easily navigate her way through the rich and snobbish students of Eastland Academy , Jo felt like she was in a foreign land without a roadmap. She had not wanted to come to this school, but her mother had insisted, working over time at two jobs just so they could afford what her scholarship did not cover, so Jo made sure to do her best. The academic part was simple; Jo had always been a good student, gifted her former teachers had said. It was the fitting in that did not come so easy to her.

Meeting Jo had caused Blair's world to turn upside down. And at first she fought it tooth and nail, but as she settled into her new accommodations above the schools cafeteria with her other accomplices of a law/rule breaking spree. And her new position as a worker serving her fellow students, Blair began to feel a sense of accomplishment. She pulled her fair share of the workload, mainly because Jo would not let her get away with anything less. And as the years went by, the close bond she formed with her three other roommates became cherished friendships and the work was somehow fulfilling. No one had ever demanded anything of her before, but being under constant Jo patrol, as Blair liked to think of it, kept her on her toes. Not that Jo could steamroll over Blair. No, growing up a Warner gave the blonde a backbone and fierceness that could rival that of the former Bronx gang member.

By the end of their high school years Jo and Blair were comfortable calling each other friend. And despite the constant bickering and arguing, or perhaps because of it, no two friends had ever been closer. Blair could treat Jo like her personal servant, but if anyone tried to demean the tough talking brunette in any way they would come face to face with Blair's wrath, a quiet and deadly weapon. Jo was more direct with her defense of Blair. Hurt Blair or even insult her and there was a good chance you would walk away with a bloody nose. Which is why going into their freshman year of college Blair set before herself the task of teaching Jo to be a bit more subtle and less aggressive in her retaliations.

One look from Blair was all it took for Jo to learn self control. If Blair only knew how much willpower Jo exercised in their early days of living together she would have been impressed, but Blair always demanded more of Jo than anyone else and Jo always stepped up to the task.

College was exciting, challenging, and seemed to throw life into high gear. With heavy class loads, jobs and a busy social life the two girls were constantly on the go. But Jo would always rearrange her schedule if Blair found some free time for them to go off and do something together. Even though they saw each other everyday; they lived together and worked together and even had a few classes together, somehow it was not enough. So an afternoon at the movies or a drive into the countryside was looked forward to by both of them.

From the moment Jo had met Blair the blonde had gotten under her skin. She had never met anyone like the debutant in her life. Jo found her annoying, conceded, self centered, oblivious, and pompous. But soon she discovered that Blair was also kind, generous, smarter than she would ever let on and beautiful. And sometime just before their high school graduation Jo realized that she was in love with Blair. All the arguing and opposition was her way of keeping Blair unaware of her feelings. She feared what her boy crazy roommate would do if she ever found out. Because no matter how much she was in love with Blair, she cherished their friendship even more. So Jo became content to be the constant in Blair's life. When parents or boyfriends, teachers or the snob sisterhood let Blair down, Jo was there to comfort her and give her the support she needed. They studied together helping each of them earn a spot on the dean's list. They worked together to ensure Edna's Edibles was a successful venture. And they encouraged each other in whatever endeavor each chose to undertake, thus creating a bond that could not be broken.

Normally over summer break Jo would stay and continue working at the shop while picking up extra odd jobs when she could find them. Blair traveled with her mother for at least part of the summer, but she would always find time to stop by after a trip to tell Jo all about her glorious adventures abroad. But at the end of their sophomore year Blair had been whisked away after her last exam to join her mother in Paris . She barely had time to track down Jo and say good-bye. All summer Jo received postcards from one beautiful place after another. It was not until the cards stopped that she wondered where Blair could be. She tried calling Blair's mothers penthouse number in New York , only to got the answering machine. Summer was rapidly coming to an end and Jo could not wait to see her blonde roommate, she had not realized just how much she missed Blair until she stopped hearing from her.

Two days before classes were to start. Jo was stretched out on the sofa while looking over her class schedule that she had picked up the day before. Her younger housemates Natalie and Tootie had arrived the night before and were now in the kitchen fixing snacks to sustain them through unpacking their trunks and getting settled in when the door burst open and the most beautiful sight Jo had ever seen poised herself in the opening announcing her arrival. Jo's head had popped up over the back of the sofa when the door opened and as impossible as it might seem, the moment green eyes met brown Blair's smile became even brighter and Jo could not help smiling back. The moment lasted only a couple of seconds before shrieks of delight erupted from the kitchen door as the two other roommates ran out and engulfed Blair in a group hug.

The sound of squealing was enough to bring Jo to her feet. With both hands over her ears she aimed her best scowl at the others. “Hey, you want to keep it down. The neighbors are going to think we got a bunch of piglets in here.”

Blair pulled away from her two grinning roommates and tried to look chastened, but could not entirely remove the smile from her face. “Hello Jo, it's good to see you.” Blair paused to take in her best friend and was struck at how just one summer apart could have changed Jo into looking so much more mature. Her dark hair, which was usually in a ponytail now hung loose around her shoulders accentuating the brilliance of her green eyes even more than usual, and there was something about the way Jo carried herself, she stood like a person that was entirely comfortable in her own skin. Blair knew that had not been the case before, Jo had always been self conscious about how different she was from other girls. Instead of an angry tomboy standing before her Blair saw a beautiful woman.

“Hey Blair, there are a bunch of packages in your room waiting for you. What did you do, buy out Europe ?” Natalie's excited voice brought Blair's attention back from traveling down a path she was not prepared to take.

“Oh just a few things I saw and had to have.” Blair dismissed the idea of over buying with a wave of her hand.

“Could we watch you open them?” Tootie asked almost bouncing on the balls of her feet at the idea of all the wonderful things Blair had brought back.

“I don't see why not, after all there is a little something in there for each of you.” Blair smiled as if she were offering ice cream to five year olds.

“Well come on, what are we waiting for?” Tootie took the valise out of Blair's hand and tugged on her elbow to move her up the stairs quicker.

Natalie ran to the kitchen informing them she would bring up the snacks, while Jo watched the bustle of activity unable to take her eyes off the beautiful blonde. Blair had returned looking every bit the Princess she was born to be: elegant, graceful, confident and self assured, but she also looked a little tanner, a little leaner and something Jo could not quite name. What ever it was it took Jo's breath away and that is why when Blair stopped on the first step and looked back over her shoulder, her blonde hair cascading down her back with the movement, and asked ‘Jo would you be a dear?' then glanced at the door before continuing up the stairs confident Jo would know what she meant and follow her request. Jo smirked as she dropped her schedule on the table behind the sofa and went to collect the mountain of luggage that sat on the front porch. Jo always collected and carried Blair's luggage, usually grumbling and cursing under her breath the entire time. Not this time, this time she simply shook her head and smiled as she struggled under the weight of so many bags. Blair was home again and that was all that mattered. She was sure she could find something to complain about tomorrow, but for now she was too content to disturb the peace.

Sleeping arrangements had changed quite a bit since their younger days in the single room above the cafeteria at Eastland. Now Natalie and Tootie shared a room while Jo and Blair shared a room above the shop in Mrs. Garrett's house. They all still had to share a bathroom, but after years of sharing they had all learned the routine, even Blair. Although occasionally, she still occupied the small space longer than her allotted time.

All four girls were in Jo and Blair's room as Blair began opening her deliveries, some of which she had not seen since the beginning of summer. Jo sat on her bed casually leaning back against the headboard and flipping through an organic gardening magazine. Over the summer Mrs. Garrett agreed to let her plant a small vegetable garden in the back yard and much to the older woman's surprise Jo provided them with fresh produce all through the summer months. To Jo's surprise she had really enjoyed gardening, something about working the earth and tending to her young sprouts until they became mature plants had given the former hoodlum a sense of gratification and pride.

With each ooh or ahh Jo would glance up to see a new blouse emerge from the pile of wrapping, or a dress, jewelry, shoes, a purse, whatever it was her two younger roommates would fawn all over it. She covertly watched the joy on Blair's face as Nat and Tootie approved of her purchases. Whenever brown eyes glanced her way, Jo would quickly avert her eyes back to her magazine, not wanting to seem too interested in what was going on across the room from her. Blair would simply smile and then turn her attention to another package.

Finally Blair got around to giving out the gifts she had bought for her friends. Natalie received a fountain pen set from London to which Blair assured her a great novel was held within its ink. Tootie was actually rendered speechless at the silver makeup mirror from Paris that she received. Blair said the moment she saw it she knew it had to be a part of the aspiring actresses dressing room. And a box containing a silk scarf from Dubai was set aside for Mrs. Garrett for when she returned the following day. After a platitude of thanks Blair started to usher the two younger women out of the room so she could begin the formidable task of unpacking.

Tootie stopped and looked in Jo's direction. “Uh Blair, what about Jo? Didn't you get anything for Jo?” The youngest of them, Tootie had always been the most sensitive of the four and she seemed genuinely concerned that Jo had been left out.

Jo looked up at the mention of her name and was about to shrug off not having gotten anything when Blair got that airhead look on her face that always drove Jo crazy because she knew that Blair was anything but an airhead. “Oh right, Jo, I knew I forgot something.” Before the grin could break out on her lips Blair walked back to her bed and dug around for a small rectangular box. Coming back to Jo's bed she held out the box with an almost shy smile. “Here Jo, I didn't forget you.”

“Thanks Blair, but you didn't have to do this.” Jo said as she accepted the box.

“Aw come on Jo, just open it.” Natalie urged her.

Lifting the lid Jo was surprised to find a pair of black leather racing gloves. She lifted them out of the box enjoying the soft feel of the leather. “These are incredible Blair, thanks.”

“Try them on. When I saw them in Milan I thought of you immediately.” Blair smiled with pride as the gloves easily slid onto Jo's strong hands, a perfect fit. She did not tell her friend how much restraint it took for her not to buy the entire outfit. Jo did not like it when Blair spent a lot of money on her, a concept Blair still struggled to understand, so she held back. But after seeing the outfit Blair could not get the image of how Jo would look in all leather and for some reason that image stayed with her all summer long. Now seeing the gloves flexing on those long fingers the image popped into her head once again. “They are going to go perfect with your motorcycle.” Blair said, trying to dislodge the image of a leather clad Jo from her mind only to be replaced with a leather clad Jo speeding down the road on her motorcycle. A blush began moving up from her chest and she quickly shook her head hoping no one would notice. What was wrong with her she wondered as she moved back to her side of the room? “I'm glad you like them.” Blair said as she picked up her makeup bag and moved to her vanity.

Jo had noticed the flushed color on Blair's face as she turned away and wondered what was going on in that blonde head of hers. Natalie picked up their empty popcorn bowls and soda cans as she and Tootie headed off to their room to begin their own unpleasant task of settling in.

“One good thing about staying here all summer Jo, at least you don't have to unpack.” Tootie said as she walked out the room and closed the door behind her.

Quiet descended on the room once again now that they were alone. Jo slipped off her new gloves and gently placed them back in their box. They were the nicest gloves she had ever owned and was not sure she should risk damaging them by wearing them while riding her motorcycle. But she knew it would hurt Blair's feelings if she did not. Sometimes Blair was a complete mystery to her. The woman took immaculate care of her own things, but when she gave something to Jo she expected it to be worn, used and even damaged by grease or dirt. Jo guessed she was grateful Blair did not impose her own strict standards of upkeep onto her.

Lost in thought Jo did not notice when Blair came over and sat down on the edge of her bed. She looked up when she felt the weight of another person on the mattress. Blair sat looking at her and something about the expression on the blonde's face struck her as almost sad even though Blair was giving her one of her demure smiles.

“How was your summer Jo?”

Jo sat up straight and wrapped her arms around her knees. “Oh you know, busy working and hanging out at the dirt bike track when I had a spare minute.” Blair gave her a knowing smile as she remembered a dirt covered grinning Jo last semester after she won a race. “I really liked all the postcards you sent. I would have written you back, but from the looks of it you didn't stay in one place for very long.”

“No, it was one of Mother's world wind tours. I think we visited every country in Europe and then some.” Suddenly Blair looked tired as she became very interested in trying to find any lint to remove from Jo's comforter. Jo may have worked all summer, but at least she came home to the same bed every night. Blair had spent the last three months living out of a suitcase and had earned enough frequent flyer miles for a free trip around the world. Taking a deep breath Blair looked up into the bright green eyes of her best friend and smiled. “I missed you Jo.”

“I missed you too Blair.” Jo said as she welcomed the hug Blair leaned in for. They held each other for a moment longer than they usually did and Jo began to get worried that maybe something was wrong. Pulling back she held onto Blair's wrists so she could look into the other girls eyes. “You okay Blair?” When all she got was a smile and a nod Jo tried again. “It was great getting a postcard almost every day from you. Then one day they just stopped. Where have you been for the last three weeks?”

Blair looked down at the hands that were now holding hers. “ New York . Mother had me going to a different dinner party every night, if it wasn't a dinner party it was a gala or some other engagement. As if dragging me to every possible event on the European continent wasn't enough. I'm sorry I didn't write once I got back, but between staying out all night and attending ladies luncheons in the afternoons I used whatever free time I had to try and get some sleep.”

“Sounds exhausting, I think out of the two of us I had the better summer.” Jo gave Blair one of her crooked smiles and was relived to see the smile returned.

“It was, I wish classes did not start for another week, I'd spend the whole time sleeping.”

“Come here.” Jo said as she stood up and urged Blair to scoot up onto her bed. “Why don't you just relax for a bit while I clear your bed off then you can get a good nights sleep.” She pulled Blair's designer heels off and sat them on the floor.

As Blair snuggled down into Jo's pillow she looked up at her friend. “Thanks Jo, this feels so good, you always know just what to do.”

Jo moved to the other side of the room and began picking up wrapping paper and discarded boxes. She neatly hung up Blair's new clothes and placed the other items in their rightful place. Living with the heiress as long as she had, Jo knew exactly the way Blair like her things to be kept. When she turned back to her bed to let Blair know she could go to bed now she found the blonde sound asleep. Knowing the demands Monica could put on her daughter Jo could not find it in her heart to wake the sleeping woman. Instead she retrieved an extra blanket from the hall closet and laid it over Blair. She took a moment to kneel beside her bed and just watch Blair sleep. Brushing a lock of hair back from a perfect cheek, Jo let her fingers linger a moment savoring the silky feel of the soft blonde hair. Pulling her hand back Jo prayed for strength not to make a fool of herself. “Oh Blair.” She whispered before turning away and going to finish unpacking Blair's other suitcases.

The next morning Blair slowly awoke. She could feel something scratchy against her skin, but she felt so rested she did not care at the moment. Unwilling to open her eyes to the light that filled the room she stretched and took in a deep breath of a familiar scent. It was sunshine and lavender and springtime, it was comforting and it was completely Jo. Cracking one eye open just a fraction, Blair peeked out to see where she was. Her suspicions were instantly confirmed; she was in Jo's bed. With both eyes open now she looked around only to find herself completely alone in the room, her bed was clear of any mess and neatly made and her suitcases were gone from the middle of the floor. Some of her new purchases were sitting on her dresser and Blair knew if she were to walk over to the closet she would find all her clothes neatly put away. Snuggling down into the pillow once more she took a deep breath of the comforting smell. A smile spread across her face at the thought that once again Jo had come to her rescue. A glance at Jo's alarm clock informed her it was almost noon. And no matter how much she was enjoying being where she was, Blair wanted to go find her best friend and spend what was left of the day with her.

By the time Blair finished showering and dressing and making her way downstairs Jo and Mrs. Garrett were in the full throws of the lunchtime rush. Blair swept into the kitchen immediately spying the elder redhead and rushed over to give the woman, who was more like a mother to her than Monica had ever been, a hug. Mrs. Garrett wrapped her arms around the girl she had known the longest out of all of her charges and welcomed her home.

“Are you feeling better Blair?” Mrs. Garrett asked as she looked the girl up and down.

Blair bestowed her best smile on the shorter woman and gave her another kiss on the cheek. “I'm just fine now that I'm home Mrs. Garrett.”

As Blair was about to release the older woman so she could continue with her work the swinging door that led to the shop flew open and Jo stuck her head in. “We need more of those cheesy-spinach thingies. I don't know what you did Mrs. G, but people are practically climbing over the counter to get them.” Seeing Blair, Jo scowled. “You eat yet?”

Blair just gave the harried woman her most patient smile. “And good morning to you too Jo.”

Ignoring the civility of her friend Jo growled. “Get something to eat then grab an apron, I could use some help out here.”

“I didn't think it was possible for her to get even more bossier.” Blair giggled to Mrs. Garrett, then releasing the older woman she began to make her way to the door. “I am on my way.”

“No.” Jo snapped a little sharper than she meant to. Softening her tone a bit she continued. “You need to eat something, you didn't have any dinner last night. I can manage until your done.” Embarrassed at her own words, Jo growled as she ducked back through the door and was gone.

Mrs. Garrett pulled a plate of egg whites and turkey bacon out of the oven that Jo had made earlier when she heard the shower running, and added one of the cheese-spinach pasties to it. She walked over and handed it to Blair who was still standing staring at the door. “You know sometimes I think Jo is more of a mother hen than I am. Here you go dear, she made this for you and coffee is in the pot. I have to get back to work, but take your time.” And with that the redhead picked up the tray of hot out of the oven pasties and went through the swinging door.

Left alone Blair looked down at her plate, it was her favorite breakfast, smiling she quickly fixed a cup of coffee then sat at the table to eat. She ate as quickly as her good manners would allow, wanting to finish so she could go help Jo. Her mind was filled with thoughts of her moody roommate and she could not stop the one thought that had been running through her mind all summer long. Out of everyone it was Jo that she had written to every day except when her mother tried her best to pair her off with every eligible bachelor in New York . It was Jo she thought of each time she came across something exciting and wanted to share it with her best friend. It was Jo she missed talking to and laughing with. And it was Jo's arms she had wished to be dancing in each night she found herself with some perfectly put together-stuffy-heir to their Daddy's money-pre-law-pre-med-pre-whatever guy. Unwilling to think about what all that meant Blair rushed to put her dish and cup in the sink and headed for the shop.

In her usual militant style Jo was keeping the customers in line serving up their orders, taking their money and barking at them when someone took too long deciding what they wanted. Tying her apron on Blair moved into position to take over the register. The only acknowledgement Jo gave her was to step aside so Blair could pass.

Within the hour the fast pace died down to a sporadic trickle of people and Jo jumped at the chance to clean the tables and help Mrs. G run the pile of dishes through the washer. Blair stayed behind the counter and tidied up the display case and racks that held the pastry trays. She caught herself on several occasion watching Jo from the corner of her eye. The way she seemed to take command and handle whatever task was in front of her never failed to amaze the blonde. Blair had always thought Jo was beautiful, just a little rough around the edges, but today, as if for the first time she really saw Jo, gorgeous caring loving Jo. While At work Jo always had her hair pulled back in its usual ponytail and Blair desperately wanted to loosen the dark locks form their restraint and let them fall around the angular face to create a perfect image. Realizing what she had just thought, Blair shook her head to remove any other stray ideas that should not be there. She quickly turned back to tiding up before anyone could see the slight rise of color on her cheeks.

At two o'clock Natalie and Tootie showed up for their shift to relieve Jo and Blair. Jo quickly ran upstairs to change out of her flour dusted clothes. Back in their room she noticed Blair had put away the blanket and neatly remade her bed and she briefly wondered if when she crawled into it that night if it would still smell of Blair. She moved to her dresser to pull out a new tee shirt and brush out her hair. Blair walked in just as Jo was pulling off her shirt and removing the ponytail holder at the same time. Closing the door behind her, Blair stood absolutely still, unable to take her eyes off Jo's half clad body. As the shirt was pulled over Jo's head her hair fell down around her face just as Blair had pictured it. And before Jo could pick up her clean shirt and put it on Blair was standing behind her.

One hand poised just above a bare shoulder Blair's voice was barely above a whisper. “My God you're beautiful.” Jo had not heard her roommate come in, but instead of jumping at the voice so close behind her she froze. For the first time Blair realized just how much Jo meant to her and how much she was in love with her. She was tired of denying the feelings that had started sliding to the surface over six months ago. This morning she had felt rather confident about Jo's feelings for her, but now standing in front of her she was not so certain of herself anymore. “Jo?” Blair softly begged of the other girls' attention.

Turning slightly, Jo zeroed in on soft brown eyes that held the entire world for her. Slowly she came around to face Blair whose hand was still poised above her shoulder. They never broke eye contact and Jo's breath caught at what she saw staring back at her. Confusion, apprehension, fear, desire and love were all communicated in those warm brown eyes. Unsure what was happening and afraid she was reading too much into the situation, although it was pretty hard to misread the signals Blair was giving, Jo reached up and took the soft hand that seemed lost into her own. She noticed Blair was taking shallow ragged breaths and she could feel her own heart about to pound out of her chest.

“Blair?” Before Jo could blink Blair closed the distance and brought their lips together. Consequences be damned, she had to taste those lips just once.

Something exploded in Jo's brain; she had never felt anything so incredible in her entire life. The woman she had been in love with since high school, the beautiful boy-crazy Blair was kissing her. And what had started out as gentle was quickly becoming more urgent as Blair sought to deepen the kiss. Wrapping one arm around the slim waist that was pressing itself into her, Jo moved her other hand behind Blair's neck and tangled her fingers into the softest hair she had ever felt as she returned the kiss with as much love and passion as she could put into it.

When Jo pulled back slightly for some much needed air, minutes, hours or days could have passed since they started kissing, she was unsure. Their noses only centimeters apart each woman searched the others eyes to reassure themselves that everything was all right. Jo was relived to see Blair was not freaking out. In fact she seemed to be holding the Bronx native even tighter.

“Oh Jo, I've missed you so much. I feel like I've been missing you for quite some time now.” Blair purred in a deep voice that was laden with desire.

“I missed you too Blair, but I'm here now.” Jo smiled softly at her as she ran the back of a finger down Blair's cheek.

Blair closed her eyes for a moment as she savored the feel of Jo touching her in such an intimate way. When she opened her eyes they appeared to be a little darker than usual and she dared to trace a finger along Jo's bare collarbone. “Just like you've always been.” Blair smiled at the sparkling green eyes that looked at her with such love. “I know I can be a little slow at times, but I think I've finally caught up Jo. I can't ignore this any more.” Bringing her hand up to cup Jo's face, Blair's voice was soft and steady. “You are the one I think about day and night, I can't seem to get you out of my head or my heart.”

Tears welled up in Jo's eyes as she tried to regain her breath. She held tightly to Blair's waist as she searched for her voice. “I've never been able to stop thinking about you.”

Delighted and relieved Blair moved in for another kiss. A mere twenty-four hours ago she had been feeling sad, lonely and confused. Now the world seemed like a perfect place and that was just the way she wanted to keep it, at least until morning.

Their make out session lasted another twenty minutes before Jo put an end to it when things started getting out of control. She had waited so long for Blair that she did not want to rush anything. Because as soon as the lust filled haze lifted she knew Blair would regret having gone too far too fast. So Jo quickly dressed and as she started to pull her hair up into a ponytail again Blair's hand reached out to stop her.

“I love it when you wear your hair down.” Blair smiled seductively and raised an eyebrow. “It's really sexy.”

Tossing the elastic band on the dresser Jo ran a brush through her hair a couple times so she would not look like she had just been ravaged. Grinning, she took Blair by the hand and they left to go buy Blair's books for the new semester. As the two came down the stairs they caught sight of Mrs. Garrett in the living room. Blair quickly dropped Jo's hand and put on her best princess smile, explaining where they were going and that they might not be back for dinner. The matronly woman happily went back to her reading as she waved them good-bye.

In the car on the way to the school bookstore Blair chanced a glance at Jo to see if she was upset by her action. “I'm sorry Jo, I really do want to be with you, I'm just not ready for the world to know about us just yet.”

A worry line had formed on Blair's brow and Jo reached over to brush it away. “It's okay Blair I understand. It's going to take a little time and a lot of adjusting. This is not exactly a conversation I want to be having with my mom anytime soon.”

Blair had not thought about her parents until now and she let out a groan. “I'm not sure I will ever be ready to have that conversation with my parents. They have very specific expectations of me and I don't want to let them down, not yet.” Reaching over she held Jo's hand. “Jo, nothing can change right now, at least outwardly. I can't risk my parents finding out.”

Jo knew it would be too easy just to date Blair like the legion of guys who knocked on their door. So she did what she always did and made things easy for her friend. “It's okay, I know, we continue to live the status quo. As long as you're mine in private, I'll stay back out of sight.”

Pulling into the parking lot Blair turned off the ignition and turned to look into Jo's eyes. “You are always mine Jo.” She rubbed small circles on the back of Jo's hand before letting go and getting out of the car.

So for the next year they continued to bicker and argue even if the barbs were not as sharp as they had once been in the past. But every once in a while they gave their housemates a good blow out just to reassure them that all was as it should be in the Warner Polniaczek world. Jo grumbled about having to do Blair's share of the workload as well as her own. And Blair continued the revolving door of Ken Dolls as Jo referred to her dates. But they always found time for just the two of them. And no one had any clue that the two roommates were a couple.

This arrangement worked fine for the first year, even though Jo would complain about the number of guys Blair dated or when she showed a little too much interest in one. Somehow Blair could always calm her down and reassure her girlfriend that Jo was the most important person in her life. But as their senior year at Langley began Jo had started feeling neglected. Blair had so many people making demands on her time that they rarely saw each other outside their bedroom late at night. And it did not help that Blair's mother had notched up the dating expectations of her daughter. Jo had been patient, never pushing Blair for more than the blonde was willing to give, but something had seemed to change when Blair returned from summer break. She was a little more distant than usual and would only tell Jo the same candy coated version of her summer as she told the others.

A month into the semester Jo started to pull back and withdraw. Had she just been an experiment for the blonde socialite? She threw herself into her work and studies while Blair attended every social gala on campus. Natalie was the first to notice Jo's mood swings seemed to be getting stuck on the grumpy side. And whenever Blair was out on a date Jo seemed to resemble a wounded bear so the whole house steered clear of her. The younger housemate had tried talking to Jo, but was told to mind her own business. This only further strengthened Natalie's suspicions that something more than the normal hostilities were going on between Blair and Jo.

One night during midterms Jo fell asleep waiting for Blair to return from a date, it had been days since they had any time to themselves. Blair got in very late and found her girlfriend sound asleep. She too had been looking forward to the evening, but her date did not want to leave the party at a reasonable hour and now Jo had not waited for her. Deep down Blair knew it was unreasonable to expect Jo to stay up for her, especially given the amount of studying the brunette had been doing lately, but her ego got in the way as she shook Jo's shoulder to wake her.

“Jo, wake up, I thought we were going to spend some time together tonight.” Blair spoke softly but insistently.

Roused from a deep sleep Jo blinked awake to see Blair sitting on the side of her bed sporting a pout. She looked at the alarm clock on her nightstand. “Blair, it's after three in the morning, what are you doing? Are you just getting in?”

“Alex didn't want to leave the party and I didn't have a ride home.” Blair explained a bit stiffly. She felt a tad annoyed. Jo knew the situation, and the charade she had to put on in order for them to be together. “You were supposed to wait up for me Jo.” Blair pouted again.

Propping herself up on her elbows Jo was beginning to get angry. “You are four hours late Blair. Why didn't you call me? I could have come an got you.”

“And what would people say?” Blair protested.

“The same thing they've said every other time I've had to pick you up because your date didn't have the decency to drive you home when you asked.” Jo could see this was quickly turning into a fight and she just did not have the energy for it. “Look Blair, I've got an exam at eight o'clock, I've got to get some sleep.” She saw the hurt look on Blair's face and immediately tried to sooth things over, because if there was one thing she could not stand, it was seeing Blair hurt. “You must be exhausted too.” She wanted to smile as the blonde head gave a single nod. “Why don't you go get your pajamas on and come back here? I'll hold you till you fall asleep.”

Peaking through her golden bangs, Blair gave Jo a smile the other woman had been hoping for. Jumping from the bed she picked up her pajamas and headed for the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later a freshly scrubbed Blair was crawling into bed next to a sleepy Jo. She snuggled down onto Jo's shoulder as strong arms wrapped around her. Blair inhaled deeply of the scent that was Jo and was suddenly able to relax. Snuggling in Jo's arms was the only place she felt really safe and loved.

A week later they had still not had a chance to have any real time together, Blair was always busy and Jo was always working. Jo desperately wanted to talk to Blair and find out what was going on, but had not had the courage to force Blair into a conversation she was not sure she wanted to hear. One day Jo decided to do some studying in the student lounge just to get out of the house. It seemed like every time she turned around Natalie was watching her like a bug under a microscope.

The student lounge was an enormous room in the student center with sofas and overstuffed chairs, coffee tables and leather upholstered benches that were the size of twin beds. Sometimes Jo would go there to read while sinking down in one of the big cushy armchairs that sat deep in one of the quiet corners. As she stepped inside the room a flash of blonde hair caught her eye causing Jo to freeze to the spot she was standing. There in the center of the lounge on one of the benches sat Blair surrounded by her adoring groupies. Jo stood just inside the door watching, unable to hear what was being said, but catching the lilt of familiar laughter. Unable to move, Jo could not help but watch Blair entertain her audience. She remembered the first time she had seen Blair command the attention of a room. Even at such a young age she could see the greatness the blonde possessed. Blair was a natural born leader.

It occurred to Jo as she watched the woman she loved hold court like a Queen that her greatest fear was in fact true. Blair was royalty and she was just a commoner. She would never be good enough for Blair. She would never be the one Blair would take home and introduce to her parents as the person Blair loved. Jo stood there watching as a blonde haired ‘Mr. Perfect' casually draped an arm across Blair's shoulder, clearly illustrating possession to all those who watched. Normally Jo would go over and knock the guys' grubby paw away, but Blair had giggled while leaning back into him and smiled as if she enjoyed it and expected it. It was an action she would never allow Jo to do in public.

For years Jo and Blair had argued, insulted, disagreed and entered into verbal combat with each other yet always remained the closest of friends. Their bond was indefinable and their love a complete mystery. For years Jo had watched one guy after another be paraded around on Blair's arm, but for some reason that she could not explain, watching Blair with this man caused something to suddenly snap.

Perhaps because they had not been spending as much time together or perhaps it was because Blair had seemed to be holding something back. Whatever the reason, Jo felt her eyes were opened for the first time in years. And she had had enough. The struggle and confusion she went through while coming to terms with her feelings for Blair had all been worth it in the end because Blair had loved her in return. But now she doubted if that had ever really happened. How could Blair love her and go out on all those dates. Letting men who probably thought they held the heiresses true affection grope and kiss her. Or perhaps it was Jo who had been kidding herself, after all what did she have to offer Blair.

Jo was tired of playing games, tired of always being uncertain where she fit into Blair's life, in fact she was just plain tired. At that moment Blair looked in her direction and smiled at her best friend, eager for Jo to come join them. Instead what she saw in those dark green eyes was all the hurt and uncertainty she was causing Jo. As her smile wavered she realized that she was seeing the end of Jo's patients and understanding, but more than that she was seeing the moment she lost Jo.

All the words they had not spoken to each other in the last few months could not stop what Jo now knew she had to do. Looking into those beautiful brown eyes, Jo conveyed the only words that mattered, ‘no more'. She saw the comprehension in Blair's eyes then turned and walked out the room. “Enough.” She said as she walked out of the building, because once spoken aloud it strengthened her resolve to keep on walking. All the color drained from Blair's face as she watched Jo go, she wanted to get up and run after her, but found herself unable to move. Whether it was fear or heartbreak Blair was frozen to her seat as the most important person in her life walked away.

By the time Blair made it home later that afternoon Jo's side of the room had been cleared of all her possessions. Blair stood staring at the neatly made bed and empty nightstand. She knew she had screwed things up, but she never thought Jo would leave. Perhaps she should have told Jo about the ultimatum her mother had given her over the summer when Monica found out about the two of them instead of pulling away for no reason. Either way Blair knew she was going to lose. The choice was hers, her family or Jo, and while she thought she had been doing a good job of keeping both sides happy while she tried to figure out a way to keep the woman she loved and still remain a Warner, she failed.

The door slowly opened and Blair looked up expectantly, but it was only Natalie whose head peeked around the edged of the door. Seeing the disappointed look on her friends face Natalie slowly moved into the room. “She left about an hour ago and took all of her stuff with her.”

“Where did she go?” Blair barely managed to squeak out as she fought desperately not to cry.

“I don't know, I think she talked with Mrs. Garrett for a little while. I tried to talk to her, but you know Jo, she wouldn't say a word, then she hugged Tootie and I good-bye and just left.” Natalie watched as tears quietly began spilling out of eyes that could not contain them anymore. “What happened Blair? Did you a Jo have another big fight?”

Blair sat watching one finger worry over another in her lap as the tears she could not stop continued to fall. She felt an arm wrap around her shoulders as Natalie sat next to her on Jo's bed. Barely able to move she shook her head once and whispered. “No, I chose not to fight.” Unable to hold back anymore Blair collapsed on her young friends shoulder and cried until she had nothing left.

Holding on to the uncontrollably sobbing woman Natalie knew that all of her suspicions had been correct. Something had been going on between her two housemates and now it seemed to have fallen apart. She held Blair and tried to sooth her while she let the woman get it all out of her system. When Blair finally calmed down she decided to take a small risk. “Blair, you know Jo, give her some time to cool down and she'll be back.”

Taking a deep breath and sitting up straight Blair pulled herself together in typical Warner fashion. “I don't think so Natalie, I think this is probably for the best.”

Natalie watched as Blair stood and straightened her skirt then headed for the bathroom to wash her face and redo her makeup. Jo's departure had been a crushing blow, but Natalie had a feeling she had just witnessed the only moment Blair was going to let her walls down. The only person Blair had ever let see her hurt this badly was Jo and this time Jo was the cause of the pain. Sitting alone in her friends room Natalie could truly feel the emptiness Jo had left behind and she wondered just what had happened between the two best friends and where Jo had gone.

Jo wasted no time once she left the student lounge. For when Jo made up her mind about something there was no changing it. She hurried straight home and packed her bag, glad now that she was always too poor to have much. Next she found Mrs. Garrett and asked if she could store a couple of boxes in the basement until she could arrange to get them. It was mostly books and old motorcycle parts that Jo would prefer not to part with. The older woman was in shock that Jo was moving out so suddenly before school was over. She could tell that Jo had probably had another fight with Blair, but could it have really been that bad. The younger woman refused to talk about it, only saying that she could no longer live like this. Mrs. Garrett knew how stubborn Jo could be and no amount of talking could convince the girl to stay. The distress Jo was in could clearly be seen on her face and body language; in fact Mrs. Garrett had never seen her like this. It was almost as if something had broken Jo's spirit. She decided not to make too much of a fuss and let Jo go, but not without first extracting a promise that Jo would keep in touch with her.

Jo did not want any long good-byes so after she quickly moved the boxes to the basement she grabbed her gear and headed out, only to be met at the door by Natalie and Tootie. The two younger girls were confused as to what was going on. They could see that Mrs. Garrett was upset, but Jo refused to say anything. Suddenly she hugged both girls and said good-bye and was out the door before anyone could stop her.

Jo's next stop was the purser's office to get information on transferring after the end of the semester. To her surprise she found out that she already had enough credits to graduate so she opted to have her diploma sent to her. She knew her mother would be disappointed at not watching her walk during graduation, but moving on with her life was more important. Rose would just have to watch her walk when she finished her Masters. She called a friend from the dirt bike track and asked if she could crash on his floor until she could make other arrangements. The next day she took the train into the city where she went to Columbia to start the process of starting a semester early. Jo was an honor student at Langley and the prestigious University was only too happy to let her enroll late for the spring term since she had already applied and been accepted as a graduate student for the fall semester.

With only a couple of weeks left in the semester it was easy for Jo to avoid any contact with Blair and the rest of her housemates. Luckily they had no classes together and Jo only spent the minimal amount of time needed on campus to complete her courses. Her friend Jimmy let her stay the entire time on his sofa since she was a better cook then him and she kept the place spotless. Unable to work for Mrs. Garrett anymore Jo picked up extra money working on bikes for people from the dirt bike track.

After her last exam Jo arranged for Jimmy to go over to the house with his truck and pick up the rest of her things. Not willing to face Mrs. Garrett, Natalie and Tootie, Jo took off for the city and her mother's apartment. Jimmy carefully avoided answering any questions about Jo and told the older woman he would let her know everyone was asking about her when he saw her the following weekend.

Rose Polniaczek had worked a double shift and was dead tired when she put her key in the lock of her Bronx apartment. As soon as the door opened she was greeted with an assortment of delicious aromas and was surprised to see her only daughter standing at the stove stirring a big pot of stew. After giving Jo a big hug and kiss, Rose stepped back to look over her daughter with a critical eye and found Jo looking too thin for her liking.

“Jo, what are you doing here?”

“What? I can't fix dinner for my over worked mother every once in a while?” Rose raised an eyebrow at her and Jo broke into a toothy grin. “No, I finished my exams and I wanted to come home and see you. Is that a crime?”

“Not if that's the only reason you're here.” Rose could tell something was up with Jo, she just was not sure what.

“Well, it's not, I have some news for you, but first I want you to go take a hot shower and put on some comfortable clothes then come have dinner with me.”

Rose narrowed her eyes at her daughter while Jo raised an eyebrow at her mother. Knowing she would get nothing out of Jo until the girl was ready, Rose took a deep breath. “Is that bread baking I smell?”

“Yep.” Jo wiggled her eyebrows and smirked.

Moaning with delight Rose turned on her heels and headed for her bedroom. “I won't be five minutes.” She called back over her shoulder.

It had been quite a while since mother and daughter had shared dinner together in their home. They were both enjoying the beef stew and fresh bread so much that they almost forgot to talk.

“This is so good Jo, you really have become quite the cook.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Garrett has taught me a lot. In fact the pie I made for dessert is one of her specialties, when she makes it we can't keep them in stock.” Jo beamed with pride, it was really one of the first times her mother had complimented her on her cooking.

The conversation turned to Jo's other family back in Peekskill . And Jo caught Rose up on how everyone was doing. The success Mrs. Garrett was having at her business, Natalie's inquisitive spirit and Tootie's dramatic endeavors. When asked about Blair she casually said something about ‘when is Blair ever not perfectly fine' and let it go at that. Jo needed to change the subject so she explained to her mother her desire to start at Columbia the next semester because she had been accepted into graduate school there and with the end of this semester also came the end of her undergraduate career.

The news came as quite a shock to Rose; she did not even know Jo had applied to graduate school. She was excited and proud of her daughter, but deep down worried about how they would pay for it. Jo knew her mother too well and reassured her that she would be on a full ride scholarship. Rose was disappointed about Jo not going to her own graduation, but instead she looked to the positive just as her daughter was doing. That being that they could see each other all the time now that Jo had moved home. And she would be doing a lot more cooking for her mother. She planned on getting a part time job and could help out more financially as well.

“What about Edna? Jo aren't you leaving her short handed?” Rose asked, concerned about the woman who had become more than just a friend to the both of them.

“Mrs. G's fine Ma, she's got Nat, Tootie and Blair. Besides we all knew it was only a matter of time before I was leaving. Ma, going to Columbia is a huge opportunity for me, I'm really excited about this.” Jo hoped her mother would understand and not press her for any more information.

Tears welled up in Rose's eyes as she beamed with pride at her daughter. “Oh Jo, I'm so proud of you. Early graduation and a full scholarship, how did I end up with such a smart kid?”

During the Christmas break Jo settled back into living at home with her mother and began preparing for graduate school in the city. She tried her best to avoid thinking about Blair because even the smallest thought about the beautiful blonde was too painful.

Blair had continued on as if nothing had happened, but deep down she thought for sure Jo would have come back before school ended. Days turned into weeks and she had neither seen nor heard from Jo since that moment in the student lounge. Jo was always getting fired up about one thing or another and quite often over reacted, but this time there was no yelling or heated tirades about the injustice of their situation. Instead it had been something much worse, a look. Jo had said nothing to Blair or anyone else about what happened. She simply walked away. As Blair packed for the Christmas break she realized she might have slammed the closet door on Jo one too many times. On the drive to New York she began to get angry. Why was it Jo could not understand her position, she was being unreasonable. Unpacking at her mother's penthouse uncertainty and depression began to set in. Jo fought about and for everything else, why had she not fought for Blair? Wasn't she worth fighting for?

She briefly thought about going up to the Bronx and finding Jo. Blair was certain Jo had gone home and if she could just talk to her and explain everything would be okay again. But had they really been okay? The last four months Blair had been torn between what she wanted and what her family expected of her and as always Blair's wants were secondary to that of her parents. And now she had lost the one person that meant more to her than anyone else in the world. No, what she had told Natalie was right; they were better off this way. For the last few months she had made Jo miserable and forced her to hide who she was. She knew Jo hated hiding and lying, but still Blair had insisted. When she thought about it in those terms she could not blame Jo for walking away.

As much as Blair missed Jo every second of every day she would not beg the other woman to live a lie any longer, not after finally opening her eyes to what all the secrecy had been doing to Jo. And so she continued on as if nothing had happened. Blair kept the fake smiles in place and pretended to be interested in the men her mother approved of. However no matter how hard Blair tried to forget the moody brunette she would see her face at night in the empty bed across from her or hear her voice calling for order when customers would get too rowdy. Her housemates noticed the difference as well. Blair's smile never reached her eyes anymore and her laugh was noticeably hallowed. She was losing weight and the spark that was always such a vital part of who Blair was seemed to just go out. As the semester went by she cut back on dating and almost never left the house except to go to class and functions, that as a Warner she was obliged to attend. She tried to fill the void Jo left at the shop and worked twice as hard so Mrs. Garrett would not suffer for a situation she felt responsible for.

The older woman knew something terrible had happened between her two older girls, but when she tried to talk to Blair about it she got the same wall of silence that she had gotten with Jo. And as the end of semester grew closer and graduation approached Mrs. Garrett felt as if she had lost both her girls the day Jo left.

Just before finals David Warner paid a surprise visit to his daughter. There was a good chance he was not going to be able to make it for graduation so he cleared some time and took Blair out to celebrate a little early. He arrived at the house before Blair had gotten home from class and Mrs. Garrett sat him down with a cup of tea and a plate of her homemade cookies. It was not her policy to interfere with the girls and their parents. For all the love and support she provided they were not her children and she would never overstep that boundary. But she felt a little talk about Blair's well being was in order.

Even with the gentle warning about Blair's recent lack of enthusiasm, David Warner was shocked when his daughter walked in the door. It had been almost five months since he had seen Blair and then she had been a happy and carefree girl, but the woman who stood before him now only vaguely resembled his daughter. She had grown thin and her hair hung down with no shine or bounce, the smile she wore was for show only and she carried herself with a stiff rigid posture that was effective at keeping people at a distance.

David had not truly believed Mrs. Garrett when she told him about the changes in Blair. The woman had not gone into much detail so it was up to him to find out what was bothering his little girl. He felt bad now that he would not be able to attend the graduation and was prepared to smooth it over with Blair, but when he told her, she simply dismissed it as an unimportant event. Her reaction concerned him even more and he knew something was deeply wrong. The state Blair was in he knew he would have to ease information out of her because the walls Blair had put up even he could not get around.

“So, finals are coming up, are you feeling ready for them.” David asked trying to break the silence during dinner.

“I think so, my courses were not that bad this semester.” Blair said as she continued to push more food around her plate than eat it.

“Well, you and Jo always help each other study, I'm sure that will get you ready.” He smiled at her knowing that her best friend could always bring out the best in Blair, quite often the most volatile, but always the best.

At the mention of Jo's name Blair's shoulders stiffened even tighter and any semblance of happiness she had at seeing her father was erased from her face. “Not this time. Jo graduated early, she left at the end of last semester.”

David noticed the change immediately and knew he had stumbled across something. “Graduated? So where is she now?”

Blair tried to take a deep breath and smile but she could not quite achieve it. “I believe Mrs. Garrett said she is attending Columbia .” Blair tried to take another bite but couldn't. “I'm sorry Daddy, would you excuse me for a moment.”

“Of course Princess.” David said as he rose to hold Blair's chair for her. David Warner did not get to where he was by not being able to read people. And while he had been perhaps neglectful of his daughter in the past, he would not just sit by and watch Blair be miserable.

Changing the subject to something Blair felt she did not need to run away from, David was able to find out that aside from Jo no longer being in Blair's life, Monica had been pressuring their daughter into being the social sweetheart of New York. He knew how important it was to his ex wife to marry Blair off to the right family regardless of how Blair felt. It was one of the many reasons for their divorce.

The most important thing in the world to David Warner was his company and his daughter. He had worked hard all his life to take an already successful company that his father started and turn it into a worldwide multi billion-dollar enterprise. In order to do this he sacrificed his marriage and neglected his family, but he did it all for Blair. One day she would be the head of the most successful textile and clothing manufacturing company in the world. But as he sat looking at his daughter he realized that no amount of money could give Blair the one thing he wanted most for her. Happiness. It seemed that for Blair happiness came in the form of a tough talking brunette from the Bronx . He realized that his daughter could possibly be in love with a woman. The idea was a surprise, but did not shock him. It was not the first time he had this thought about his daughter. Blair's strong connection to her rougher classmate had always struck him as unusual, but since Jo seemed to demand that Blair be the best person she could be David never minded. In fact he had a certain amount of respect for the girl who worked so hard for everything she had and would not take anything from anyone. David Warner loved his daughter; it was that simple, and anything that came with that he would deal with. He had already missed getting to know his child during her younger years, he was not going to miss out on the woman Blair had become.

From where he sat the situation his daughter currently found herself in had Monica's fingerprints all over it. He would deal with his ex-wife later, but for now he would lavished as much love and attention on Blair as he could. Letting her know what a wonderful person she was and how proud he was of her.

Three days later a black limo pulled onto the campus of Columbia University . Jo had gotten a job on campus in the chem. lab cleaning, checking out equipment and keeping the inventory of all the supplies. She was measuring out sulfuric acid into beakers for an afternoon class when the door opened and David Warner walked in wearing a suit that cost more then Jo would make in two months.

To say Jo was surprised to see Blair's father walk in was an understatement. Taking a deep breath she prepared herself for the possible reason David Warner could be seeking her out. “Mr. Warner.”

“Jo.” David said as he took her in with a hard critical stare.

‘So that's where Blair gets it from.' Jo thought. “What can I do for you sir?” Jo was not going to play games, she would never play games with a Warner again. She knew why he was here.

“You can be honest with me.” David made sure he had Jo's attention before he continued. “Do you love my daughter?”

While Jo was ready to find herself buried under Yankee stadium she was not prepared for the heart felt question. “Sir?”

“It's a simple question Jo, do you love my daughter?”

Jo stood a little taller and decided she would admit to someone for the first time how she felt about Blair. “Yes sir, I do.”

“Then go tell her.” David stated simply.

Jo shook her head. “It's not that simple Mr. Warner, Blair chose something else.”

“No Jo, Monica chose something else for Blair.” David took a step closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. “The only thing I have ever wanted for my daughter is to be happy. And right now she's not happy.”

Jo turned away removing the gentle touch. “Yeah, well it's Blair's choice.”

“Do you think it's Blair's choice to go around with her clothes hanging off her because she's not eating anymore, or to have dark circles under her eyes and her hair hanging limp off her shoulders? You know as well as I do that Blair is prideful of her appearance, dare I say vain. She has lost the sparkle in her eyes Jo. I'm asking you, if you love her tell her, give her back her sparkle.” David watched the set of Jo's jaw and thought how alike she was to his daughter. Just when he thought he had not gotten through green eyes turned his way and softened a little. And there it was, his daughter's future lay in what this woman would do. “Be strong for her Jo, and for once make my daughter listen.” He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder once more then turned and left. He had done his best; the rest was up to Jo.

She watched him leave. The most surreal moment of her life had just happened as her ex girlfriend's father had asked her to take his daughter back.

On the day Jo should have graduated from Langley she sat in the audience and watched Blair receive her diploma. She was shocked to see Blair looking so, unBlair like. There was no sparkle behind her eyes and her smile was as fake as the French professors new boobs. Jo's gaze followed Blair as she crossed the stage and then retook her seat. The only time she took her eyes off the beautiful blonde was to look around and spot Mrs. Garret, Tootie and Natalie as they cheered and supported their friend. Monica Warner was also there looking a tad irritated at the whole affair. It probably had more to do with Blair's appearance then the longwinded speeches being given by the facility and administration. As Jo watched Blair patiently sit through the ceremony she knew the time had come for her and Blair to set things right, one way or the other.

Once the ceremony was over Jo slipped off to the side so she would not be seen. Mrs. Garrett and the girls rushed to Blair's side engulfing her in a big group hug. Jo watched from a distance and yearned to be a part of the group again. She watched as Monica stepped up to Blair's side and said something that made Blair stiffen as all the joy left her face. Mrs. Garrett quickly intervened and the girls whisked Blair away before Monica could say anything else. Jo knew without a doubt that Mrs. G had prepared a little celebration back at the house for Blair before the blonde went off to graduation parties with her friends. Ducking out of sight Jo headed for her bike.

Back at the house Blair had changed out of her graduation gown. Her mother had arranged for the two of them to have dinner with Warren and his mother. Blair had been giving Warren the brush off for over a month because he was an absolute bore with bad breath, but her mother had insisted. Mrs. Garrett had prepared a few of Blair's favorite finger foods and a bowl of punch. Natalie was eagerly chatting to Blair about her plans for graduate school while Tootie helped Mrs. Garrett fill four glasses to toast the new graduate.

After the toast there was a knock at the door and Mrs. Garrett hurried to answer it. Blair braced herself to meet her mother, but was rendered speechless when Jo walked in. Mrs. Garrett lunged at Jo wrapping her in a tight hug as Natalie and Tootie rushed over to greet their missing friend. Jo had missed her old housemates and hugged each of them with great enthusiasm. Before Nat and Tootie could barrage her with a lot of questions Jo walked over to where Blair still stood holding her cup of punch.

The moment Blair laid eyes on Jo she found herself unable to move. In fact she was not sure she was even breathing. But as Jo approached her she finally managed to find her voice. “Hello Jo. What are you doing here?” No matter how much she had missed Jo she was not going to allow herself to become distracted. Her mother was due any minute and she had a date to get ready for.

“I came to see you.” Jo said as she stopped a few steps away from Blair.

“Well here I am, you've seen me.” Blair said then turned away and set her cup down before starting upstairs. She could not bear the sad look in Jo's eyes, nor did she trust herself to speak anymore.

“Yeah, and you look like shit Blair.” Jo said a little too sharply. She did not mean for it to come out like that, but when Blair turned to face her there was a glint of fire in her eyes that the brunette suspected had not been there for a while.

Natalie and Tootie were still standing near the front door with their mouths hanging open at Jo's comment. While Mrs. Garrett reprimanded her former charge. “Jo, language.”

“Sorry Mrs. G, but it's the truth.” Jo was not going to tip toe around anything anymore.

“What are you doing here Jo, did you come back just to insult me?” Blair demanded as she turned back from the stairs and took one step forward.

“No. Your father came to see me.” Jo watched as Blair blanched and took a step back. “He asked me for one thing, honesty. I don't owe David Warner anything, but I do owe you.” Jo stepped forward until she could almost touch the other woman. “I'm not going to let you do this, not to yourself, not to us.” Jo reached up and cupped Blair's face with her hands and looked deep into the soft brown eyes she had dreamed about every night. “I love you Blair Warner, it's always been you and it always will be.” Then Jo leaned in and kissed the woman she loved.

Blair stood absolutely still, knowing what Jo was doing and unable or willing to stop her. As soon as Jo's lips met hers, Blair felt her carefully constructed walls of defense crumbling around her. She wrapped her arms around Jo's waist and pulled the woman in closer while deepening the kiss.

Three mouths hung open and six eyes almost popped out of their respective heads as Natalie, Tootie and Mrs. Garrett watched the most romantic and passionate kiss they had ever seen. It was Natalie who snapped out of it first as she grinned at her two friends. “I knew it.” She gushed as she began pushing Tootie out of the room. “Come on lets give them some privacy.” Mrs. Garrett could only nod her head as she allowed Natalie to pull her and Tootie to the kitchen.

Oblivious to anyone else in the house Jo and Blair finally ended the kiss. Blair still held tightly to Jo as tears spilled down her cheeks, she was unwilling to let her go less the brunette walk out again. She could not believe that this amazing person had just come back into her life and demanded she start living again. Because that was what it was like not having Jo with her, she felt like she was not living.

Everything felt right again, but Blair knew it could not last. “Jo…”

“No Blair.” Jo held tight to Blair's shoulders. “I'm sorry I left the way I did, but I couldn't stand by anymore and watch you go out with all those guys. Your dad helped me realize that it was probably Monica who was pressuring you into it.” The look on Blair's face confirmed her suspicion. “I should have talked to you about it, but sometimes I over react.” Blair raised one eyebrow at Jo and for the first time in a long while a true smile crossed her lips. “Okay, I over reacted, but I love you Blair and I am not willing to share you with anyone for any reason.” Jo swallowed a lump that had lodged in her throat. “I have to know, Blair do you still want me?”

Allowing the tears to be brushed from her cheeks, the heir to the Warner fortune realized that the one person she had been trying to hide from was the one person she should have trusted all along. Her father had sought out Jo and given his approval of the two of them. Her greatest fear dissolved, as she stood wrapped in Jo's strong arms and smiled up into bright green eyes. “You and only you. I love you Jo.” She leaned in and gave Jo a kiss full of promise and love. “And I'm sorry I treated you so unfairly, it's just my mother… and I just got so scared…and…”

Placing a finger on Blair's lips to silence her, Jo smiled. “That doesn't matter now, the only thing that matters from here on out is you and me. And if you get worried or scared lean on me, I'll protect you.”

Wrapping her arms around Jo's waist even tighter Blair buried her face in the strong shoulder that had always made her feel safe. “I don't ever want to be that weak again, I want to be someone you can be proud of Jo.” Looking up into bright blue eyes Blair knew that her faith in Jo could give her all the strength needed to face whatever the future held for the two of them. Narrowing her eyes Blair's voice showed just how strong her will could be. “If you ever leave me again just because I was being stupid I'll wring your neck.”

Jo laughed and placed a kiss on top of the blonde head. “Deal.”

At that moment the front door opened and Blair's mother walked in. Seeing her daughter in the arms of Jo caused her blood pressure to instantly rise. “Take your hands off my daughter this instant.”

Blair's head snapped up as Jo turned to see the enraged older woman. Jo kept one arm around Blair's shoulder and waited to see what Blair would do. She felt one arm still wrapped around her waist and knew Blair was ready to stand up for the two of them.


“Blair, get over here. We have had this discussion, this is inappropriate behavior and I will not tolerate it.”

The kitchen door opened as Mrs. Garrett, Natalie and Tootie stepped into the room, shocked at the scene before them. Each had their own suspicions about Jo and Blair's relationship for years and just wanted to see their friends happy. Now it looked like Blair's mother was going to make trouble for them again.

“Mother, Jo and I love each other and I will not deny that any more.” Blair said with a growing strength in her voice.

“Blair Warner you will stop this at once. When your father finds out he will disown you.” Monica threatened.

Jo released Blair's shoulder and took a step forward. No one was going to threaten Blair and get away with it, not even her mother. “Actually he already knows and is okay with it. As a matter of fact I believe he had a few thing he wanted to talk to you about.” Monica paled and Jo could see that David had already spoken to her about staying out of Blair's love life. But Monica thought she could control Blair enough so she would not be an embarrassment to her social circle.

Blair stepped up to Jo's side. “Mother I believe you have a dinner date to attend. Enjoy your evening, Jo and I are celebrating here with our friends.”

Furious for being out maneuvered Monica turned on her heels and left. Jo could feel Blair trembling where their shoulder touched. She quickly wrapped her arms around the shaken woman. “Are you okay?”

A quick nod of the blonde head and a flash of white teeth let Jo know Blair was going to be just fine. “I am now.” Blair smiled up at Jo.

A soft ‘awe' came from the trio standing just inside the doorway. Jo and Blair looked over at the people they considered family and wondered what their friends would think of this new information. They did not have long to wait or worry as they were quickly enveloped in a group hug.

“One big happy family once more.” Natalie quipped.

“Welcome back girls.” Mrs. Garrett sang out as she squeezed them even tighter.

For the first time in months Jo finally felt like she was home. Sitting next to Blair on the sofa she looked around at her closest friends who were excitedly talking about the upcoming summer. With only a few questions and no judgment they accepted Blair and Jo together. Whether there were any reservations on their part or not they chose to let it go for now. Natalie had said it best. ‘Jo and Blair together again, everything is as it should be.'

Being a romantic at heart, Natalie could not resist wanting to know how this love affair would continue. “So Blair, are you going to go down to the city on the weekends from Boston ?”

Blair took a sip of her punch. “Oh I'm not going to Boston .”

“What do you mean not going? That's where Harvard is Blair, in Boston .” Natalie quipped.

Snuggling into Jo's side Blair smiled at the green eyes that looked at her uncertainly. “I hear Columbia has a very good MBA program.”

Jo's forehead creased into worry lines. “Are you sure Blair, Harvard is the best.”

“No Jo, you're the best. I might have to see if Daddy can pull a few strings, but I plan on being there in the fall with you. That is if you want me there.” The smile that erupted on Jo's face was so big it was blinding. “And now that it looks like I won't be spending my summer with mother, I have enough time to find an apartment.”

The next day Blair moved into her father's place in New York since she and her mother were not on speaking terms at the moment. It would not last long, but the peace and pressure free atmosphere of her dad's was a welcome relief. One week later Jo found herself invited to David Warner's penthouse for dinner with he and his daughter.

A very enthusiastic Blair greeted Jo at the door and ushered her in to greet the man who was responsible for getting them back together. David Warner's money did not impress Jo, nor did it intimidate her, it was one of the things he liked best about the woman. To earn her respect you had to respect others and David found this to be a good quality in the person who held his daughter's heart.

Much to Jo's surprise the evening turned out to be surprisingly pleasant and David showed a genuine interest in Jo's studies. He could easily see Jo working in some capacity in the field of justice. And while he did admit to being a little disappointed at Blair for not attending Harvard, he was glad she would be closer to home so they could spend more time together.

Blair was start work at Warner Industries while attending school, learning the business and the company she would one day inherit. And Jo found out that as a graduation present David gave Blair a high-rise condo in The Warner Building, which just happened to be the same building he lived in, only about ten floors down.

After dinner Blair took Jo down to show her the new place, eager to see what her girlfriend thought of it. The painters were due to start in a couple of days so there were no furnishings in the place, but the view was very impressive. Jo liked it, with the modern fixtures and oversized master bath, she could see Blair living there in the spacious two-bedroom apartment. They sat on the floor in front of the large picture window overlooking the city. Blair sat between Jo's legs as she leaned back against Jo's chest. Warm arms loosely wrapped around her making Blair feel safe and loved.

“Jo, I know you are living with your mom right now, but do you think you could see yourself living here some day?”

Jo shifted slightly in order to see Blair's face. “Are you asking me to move in with you Blair?”

Turning in the arms that held her, Blair laced her fingers behind Jo's neck. “You and I have lived together for the last eight years, it doesn't feel like home without you there. I want to spend the rest of my life with you Jo and when you are ready for that journey to begin I want you to know that you can come home whenever you want.”

Since graduation day Blair had returned to being the strong and courageous person Jo had always known her to be. So when she looked into those warm eyes for any signs of doubt all she found was strength, commitment and love. She pulled Blair into a deep and passionate kiss as her way of thanking the woman for believing in them.

In that moment Blair found that all the years of loving Jo, desiring her and wanting her had finally come to a breaking point. Blair no longer wanted to hold back, she had nothing left to wait for, Jo was hers now and forever. Overcome with desire Blair was finally ready to show Jo the full extent of her passion. And while the floor of an empty apartment was not the place Jo would have chosen for their first time making love, she was completely incapable of stopping the overwhelming desire Blair brought out in her.

Still, Jo had to pause. All the years that Jo had loved Blair and wanted her, she had always held back out of respect for Blair's beliefs that sex should not happen outside of marriage. She searched Blair's face. “Are you sure Blair?” Jo asked barely able to contain her own needs.

Dark brown eyes bore into her soul. “I want you Jo, now and always. Do you…”

“Always.” Jo breathed as she captured the eagerly awaiting lips once again.

Sometime before sunrise Jo looked down on the face of the woman she knew she would spend the rest of her life with and smiled. She wondered how she had gotten so lucky. She had fallen in love with her best friend and Blair loved her in return. Holding the sleeping beauty in her arms a little tighter, Jo finally felt completely at peace. As she closed her eyes Blair snuggle a little closer into her side and she knew that no matter where they lived home would always be by Blair's side.

The End


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