Summary: Blair finally understands what it was she had been needing all this time; and no amount of years or miles were going to stand in her way of getting it.
Disclaimers: The characters do not belong to me, I simply ask them to come play in my story.
Comments are always welcome, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org .March 21, 2013
“Ladies and Gentlemen we have begun our decent into the New York area where we have clear skies and a comfortable seventy-four degrees. It looks like we will be getting to the gate a few minutes ahead of schedule, so sit back, relax and we should be on the ground in about ten minutes. Thank you for flying with us today, all of us in the cockpit and on the flight crew wish you a pleasant journey to your final destination.”
People in the seats all around Blair began gathering up their belongings and making sure their seatbacks and tabletops were in their upright positions. Having never lowered either, Blair continued to stare out the window. Her mind wandering back over the years since she had last lived here, last been an active participant of the family she had found herself in during her school years. A family she thought could never be separated or torn apart, but she had been wrong. The bonds she had formed with her friends while under the care of Edna Garrett had been so strong and tight Blair thought she would never be alone again. She never dreamed she could have been so wrong.
The front door slammed shut as Blair stormed into the living room. Mrs. Garrett and Jo were watching a movie on television and both their heads snapped up to see the irate blonde. Blair took one look at the startled faces and headed for the stairs.
“Blair.” Mrs. Garrett tried to call to her, but the girl never stopped.
Jo was very familiar with Blair's melodramatic entrances and could usually tell what was on her mind, but not this time. Blair seemed to be truly upset. Reaching over to tap the arm of the older woman's chair, Jo stood and started for the stairs. “I got it Mrs. G, Dudley Do Right probably scuffed Blair's new shoes while attempting what he calls dancing.” She picked up her pace once she had gotten up the stairs and entered their room to find Blair sitting on the edge of her bed trying not to give over to the glistening liquid that was beginning to pool in her warm brown eyes.
At the sound of the door opening Blair glanced up to see Jo. She quickly turned away hoping the tough girl had not seen the tears in her eyes. An instant later she felt the weight of another body sit on the mattress next to her.
“Hey, Blair, what's wrong? Did something happen?” Jo asked as an uneasy feeling settled over her. At once a sob broke from Blair's throat and Jo placed a gentle hand on the slightly trembling shoulder. “Come on Blair, did Dofuss do something? Because if he did…” Jo's words were cut off as Blair swiftly turned around and buried her face in Jo's shoulder. The pit of Jo's stomach turned ice cold at the thought of someone hurting Blair and she could not help wonder, and not for the first time, why the beautiful blonde kept going out with so many losers.
Minutes passed as Jo simply held Blair until the upset woman had cried herself out. It took all the control Jo had learned during her time under the patient guidance of Mrs. Garrett not to lose her temper and demand an explanation from Blair. Instead she whispered words of comfort as she stroked the silky golden hair and held Blair in a strong embrace, letting her know she was safe.
Blair was not at all surprised when her tears had stopped to find a tissue being handed to her. She did not even remember Jo letting go of her to get it. After blowing her nose and drying her cheeks, Blair pulled back just enough to look into Jo's worried eyes. She was unwilling to pull away any further, still needing the comfort Jo's strong arms provided. “Why are all guys such jerks Jo?”
Another tear escaped from the corner of a red rimmed eye and Jo brushed it away with the pad of her thumb before gently caressing the tear stained cheek. “Did he hurt you?” With Blair, Jo had learned infinite patience, but if anyone had hurt her in any way, all of Jo's rage would be unleashed on them.
Blair shook her head and golden locks fell across her face. “I'm okay, he didn't hurt me.” She smiled as Jo brushed back her hair in order to look into her eyes. They both knew she could not lie if Jo was looking her directly in the eye. “He didn't get a chance to, I took the opportunity when his hands were full with…” Blair glanced down at her chest and cleared her throat. “Well, I figured if he could feel, so could I.” Jo raised a questioning eyebrow at her friend. “I grabbed his…his…nipple and twisted as hard as I could.” Both of Jo's eyebrows went up impressed at her. “And while he was writhing in pain I ran out.”
“Good for you Blair, he was looking for a good squeeze and you gave him one.”
Only slightly embarrassed Blair admitted. “There may have been some fingernails involved as well. His face turned really red and he didn't seem to be breathing too well.”
Jo could not contain the grin that stretched across her face. “I'm proud of you Blair. You showed him, nobody takes advantage of you and gets away with it.” Of course that's not going to stop me from beating the crap out of him tomorrow she thought to herself.
“Thanks Jo.” Blair rested her head on her friends shoulder again and made small circles on Jo's sleeve. “I just wish…I just wish…I mean, why can't guys be more like…” She had almost said ‘you', but stopped herself in time.
A moment passed before Jo realized Blair was not going to say any more. She rubbed gentle circles on Blair's back and spoke so softly the other girl had to strain to hear her. “I know, it's gonna be okay, and don't you worry, the right person is out there. And when you're ready you're gonna find them.” Using a finger to lift Blair's chin so they could look into each other's eyes again, Jo searched the flushed face in front of her then leaned in a placed a soft kiss on the corner of Blair's mouth. She pulled back and held her breath, waiting for a reaction.
The world seemed to move in slow motion as Blair saw the deep and powerful love in Jo's eyes just before she felt soft warm lips on the edge of her own. A tingle started at that gentle touch and ran through her entire body. It was something Blair enjoyed and feared at the same time. Sitting up a little more she smiled at Jo to take the sting out of her actions. “I should go get cleaned up.” As she stood Blair grabbed the hand that had just been under her chin and pressed it firmly in her own. “Thanks Jo.” Without another word she left and a moment later the shower could be heard running.
Neither of them had ever spoken of that night again. Yet that night was what started it all. Blair and Jo had been best friends almost from the moment they met. Not the gushing enthusiastic friendship she had with other girls, in fact most people did not consider them friends at all. No their friendship had started out as a hostile battleground with each girl trying to impose her view on the other and neither understanding. But very early on despite the arguments and full on verbal assaults, two girls from completely different worlds with completely different views of the world, found in each other a kindred spirit. A fact that both would have vehemently denied if anyone had ever mentioned it.
As they grew older and closer they both began to understand just how important they were to each other and despite trying not to, they found out just how much they needed each other. Which is why that night when they had come too close to the undercurrent of emotions that lay just below the surface of their friendship, they began to pull back from each other. Neither wanted to deal with those emotions so without saying a word, both decided to put a little distance between them. They still continued to be good friends, but the inseparable bond that had been theirs was broken.
Blair filled her days and nights with school and work. She would only engage in light conversation and the occasional playful war of words with Jo. Afraid that she had offended Blair, Jo made herself scarce so Blair would not have to try so hard to avoid her. She started hanging out with her friend Rick more, but she never stopped keeping a watchful eye on Blair, the blonde's safety had always been her number one concern and she would not walk away from that.
Then one day Jo announced she was getting married. She had been hanging out with Rick a lot more after that night and when he suggested they should get married, Jo jumped at the chance to make a big change in her life, one that would help her not think about Blair anymore. They were graduating from college and Jo could not think of a reason to stick around when she knew Blair would be going off to graduate school.
The two girls had gotten into a huge argument over Jo's impending nuptials. Jo had been looking for any excuse not to get married, but Blair could not bring herself to give Jo the answer she was looking for. Instead she opted for the lame ‘I just think you are making a huge mistake' answer, which allowed them to move past the fight, and also allowed them to put a little more emotional distance between the two.
Yes, their friendship survived. It even became easier once they had both moved away. Phone calls, letters and the illusive rare visit allowed them to ease back into a comfortable friendship. And once again they could be close friends without having to be close.
Jo had moved with Rick to California in order for him to pursue his music career, but after ten months of trying to be someone she was not, they divorced and Jo moved back to New York . By the time she returned home Blair had completed a masters degree in record time and moved to Milan to work in the European division of Warner Industries. And in the ten years since the only time Blair had seen Jo was when the rest of their little gang had gotten together for a special occasion. And those occasions had been rare, in fact Blair could count them on one hand.
As Blair walked through the airport on her way to baggage claim and customs she remembered one particular trip along this same path. It was a few months after Jo's divorce, she had received a letter from her best friend explaining how she could no longer pretend to be what everyone wanted her to be and she could not be married to Rick because she was gay and not willing to hide it anymore. She hoped Blair could accept this, but would understand if the former debutant could not.
Blair new how much courage and strength it had taken Jo to write that letter and she wanted to show her friend how much she supported her and perhaps get a few answers of her own. She decided not to call, but caught the next plane to New York .
Rushing through the airport, Blair breezed through customs with only her briefcase and a small carry on bag. She still had some things at her mother's condo in the city and as for anything else she would simply buy what she needed.
A porter hailed a cab for her and she gave the driver Jo's address, Blair did not want to let any more time pass without telling Jo that she understood. As the cab drove down the block to Jo's apartment Blair spotted the familiar brunette ponytail. The smile that spread across her entire face quickly fell as she watched another woman rush up from the opposite direction and wrap Jo in a very imitate embrace. She could not take her eyes away as Jo held the beautiful blonde and returned the kiss before clasping the woman's hand and leading her inside. The cab was slowing to stop in front of the apartment building when Blair told him to keep driving. The entire ride across town to her mother's Blair replayed what she had just seen: Jo with another woman, kissing, and looking happy. All of a sudden she felt like an intruder and the city she had once called home was uninviting to her. She gave the cabbie a ridiculously large tip and hurried up to her mother's only to find it empty except for Doris the housekeeper. Blair had forgotten her mother was in Brazil .
That night she wrote Jo a supportive letter and wished her the greatest happiness in her new life. She insisted on ordering in so Doris would not have to cook for her and the next morning caught the first available flight back to Italy . Before getting into the cab to head to the airport she dropped the letter into a corner mailbox.
The two of them had never spoken directly about Jo's coming out, but instead went on as if Jo's being gay had been a part of their lives all along, because in fact it had. So why make a big deal out of it. Over the years it was Natalie or Tootie who would tell Blair when Jo had a new girlfriend, Jo would only let her know when she broke up with someone.
A couple of years before, Monica, Blair's mother, had moved to Monaco to tryout husband number five, or was it six, Blair had lost count. At any rate she was still there which meant Blair had the condo all to herself. Well mostly, Doris had left with Monica, but Blair's little sister was attending Langley and would use the place when she came into the city on weekends. With the exception of Natalie, Bailey was the only person she saw with any kind of regularity. Blair loved her little sister and would fly the girl over whenever the younger one could make it. They spent all their holidays together and yet the time amounted to no more then a few weeks out of the year.
After unpacking Blair relaxed into a large bubble bath hoping to take away some of the tension she had picked up sitting on a plane for so long. Afterwards she would call Natalie and let her know she was in town. The thought of Natalie coming over and plopping down on the sofa to catch up on all the gossip worthy news made Blair smile. Of all her old friends it was Natalie she saw the most. It had always struck her as odd that Tootie, the actress of the bunch, preferred to write long letters to keep in touch and had only stopped over to see her twice. But Natalie, the writer of the group, stopped by at least once a month or more. Natalie had become a respected journalist and worked mainly oversees assignments and always stopped to see Blair when she was anywhere in Europe or the Middle East . But seven months ago she decided to take a leave of absence when her boyfriend of the last few years was killed while reporting on a war in Africa . Natalie had said it was time to take a break and write that novel she had always dreamed of, but Blair knew just how devastated her friend had been over losing Jake.
As for Jo, she would write letters and Blair would call her once a week, but Jo had never visited any of the places Blair had lived. The span of an ocean between them and the constraints of two different time zones had allowed them to relax with each other again. That is as long as the conversations did not touch too deeply on emotions. They still argued about everything under the sun, but the intensity had somehow gone out of their fight.
When Jo had returned to New York she joined the police force, but was not satisfied just walking a beat, so she worked hard, earning citations and awards and becoming a shinning example for the NYPD. For her hard work and exceptional conduct in the field the force offered her a detectives shield in homicide. Jo had jumped at the offer despite Blair's efforts to dissuade her into taking a safer job.
Not long after Blair returned home from her embarrassing trip to New York she learned of Jo's joining the police force. She had called and begged the woman to change her mind, but there was no talking Jo out of it. She had always wanted to make a difference in peoples lives and this was the way she had chosen to do it. Blair was terrified for her friend, even though she never got to see Jo she knew where she was and that she was safe. A worry had settled into her heart that never left. And the day Jo told her she had made detective in homicide Blair exploded. She was sure they had yelled so loud that the telephone was not necessary, but her fear of Jo getting hurt or killed had overwhelmed her. Over the years she had learned to live with it though, because Jo was Jo and once she set her mind on something there was no talking her out of it.
It had been a couple of weeks since the two had spoken, Blair knew Jo was working on some big assignment, but the last few months their conversations had been getting shorter and the letters were less frequent. Sitting alone in her home one night, staring at the pile of paperwork that accompanied her home every evening, Blair had come to a decision. She was tired and lonely and since that night so many years ago no one had ever made her feel as safe and secure and loved as Jo had. And what had once scared her into running away now propelled her into motion once again. Only this time she was not running from something, but to it, and with any luck she would not be too late.
Sitting at her kitchen table Blair stared at the slip of paper she had written Jo's address on. It was the first time she had given it any thought, it was different form the last time she had attempted to surprise Jo. This new place was somewhere in the old manufacturing district of SoHo and Blair could not help wondering just what Jo's daily life was like now.
The next morning Blair's doorbell rang just before eight. Opening the door she found herself completely engulfed by an enthusiastic Natalie.
“At last the prodigal daughter has returned!” Natalie teased as she released Blair from the bear hug. “I brought bagels, I hope you have coffee.”
Pulling the younger woman inside Blair could not help grinning at seeing her old friend. “It's so good to see you Nat. Come on I just brewed a fresh pot.” Taking the bag that Natalie offered Blair kept one arm around her friends shoulder as she led them to the kitchen. She noticed as she held the thinner arm that while Natalie had trimmed down during her years as a reporter, she had lost even more weight since Jake's death. Blair decided right then she would make it her personal mission to see that Natalie was healthy and taking care of herself.
The two fell into old habits as they worked together to prepare breakfast and in a short time they were sitting comfortably eating and talking. It was evident that despite the weight loss Natalie had regained some of her old spark.
Between bites Natalie closely observed her old friend, the woman was as beautiful as ever and while she smiled and laughed at all of Nat's jokes, there was something off about Blair. Unable to put her finger on it, Natalie decided to work her covert journalist skills.
“Blair you look great, Paris must be treating you well. I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to come back and visit us lowly New Yorkers.”
“I do love Paris , the job, the city, the food, what can I say it keeps me busy. Besides I've been back to New York plenty of times. You just weren't here Miss World Trekker.”
Natalie raised both eyebrows in disbelief. “Jo never mentioned your visits.”
Blair took her time sipping her coffee. “That's because I didn't go see Jo.” Seeing the question before Natalie could get it out of her mouth, Blair decided it was time to put her plan into action. “They were just quick trips to see Bailey. Jo was always so busy, but I did manage to see her a few times.”
“A few times in ten years, come on Blair, what happened? You two use to be closer than identical twins.” Nat could see the sadness in Blair's eyes but before she could say anything Blair began to speak.
“I'm not sure Nat. Out of all the fights we had over the years, that last one when Jo announced she was getting married, did something to us and we never really recovered from it. I kept thinking we would make it right again and get back to normal, but things would come up. We both moved then Jo's divorce and work kept me busy in Europe , by the time I could take a break, Jo had moved on. She was a cop and had a girlfriend, her life was doing just fine without me. We keep in touch, but it's not the same.” Looking up at one of her oldest and dearest friends Blair knew she was too tired to try and pretend her situation did not hurt. She knew Nat would be the one person who would understand. “But that's all going to change now. I miss you all, I miss Jo and I want my best friend back. I'm moving back to the states Nat, it's time to be with my family again.”
Realization of what Blair was saying slowly lit up Natalie's face until she was grinning from ear to ear. Jumping up from her seat she wrapped her arms around Blair's shoulders and pulled up out of her chair to give her a proper bear hug. “This is great! We have to call Tootie! And Jo!”
Before Natalie could whip out her cell phone Blair gently calmed the excited woman down. “In time Natalie, but for now I just want you and Bailey to be the only ones who know I'm here. Okay?”
“But why? They'll be so excited to see you.”
“I know, but I have a few things to take care of first.”
Eyeing her friend suspiciously, Natalie agreed. “Okay, Blair what's going on? Oh my God your dying and you've come to make peace.”
“I am not dying and I don't need to make peace with anyone. Nat I just want to do this at my own pace. Can you understand that?”
Smiling at the blonde who was one of the most confident and successful women Natalie had ever known, but was looking a little vulnerable at the moment, she placed a hand over Blair's where it rested on the table. “What ever you need, know that I'm here for you.” She wondered if Blair was finally ready to face what Natalie already knew and what the woman had been running away from since she and Jo met. “It's great to have you home Blair.”
Any tension Blair had been feeling left the room as soon as she saw the old sparkle in her friend's eyes. Relaxing once again, the two spent the rest of the morning catching up and making plans for later in the week. Now that Blair was home an idea sparked in the back of Natalie's mind about how to get their old gang together again and become the tight knit family they had once been.
SoHo had gone through many transitions over the last century. The historic cast iron buildings that were a hub of industry and manufacturing, had once been threatened by a proposed expressway, only to be saved by artists, were once again beginning to see a new life. Looking around at the cafes and shops that were opening up in Jo's neighborhood, she frowned at all the trendy people coming and going. A lot of the artists had moved out, but her building still held out with some of the original bohemians that had moved here in the sixties. The mix of older people who refused to grow old and young who were inspired by their elder neighbors gave the building a unique energy.
Hurrying up the front steps Jo could not help the small smile that threatened to escape the side of her mouth. Mrs. Tandy from the second floor was in the lobby collecting her mail. The woman had to be near eighty years old, and liked to wear long flowing dresses with a silk scarf tied around her head. The moment the older woman saw Jo her eyes lit up and she held her arms up in an exaggerated greeting.
“Jo, my dear child, how are you?” Mrs. Tandy said as she shuffled towards the younger tenant.
Jo walked over and gently tucked one of the wrinkled and skinny arms into her own. “I'm good Mrs. Tandy, how are you today? Looks like your still getting fan mail.” Jo smiled down at the small woman as she slowly helped her neighbor back to her apartment.
The stack of flyers and junk mail clutched in Mrs. Tandy's hand was waved about carelessly. “They've all gone now, but you should have seen me back in the forties. I cut quite the figure Jo.”
“I bet you had fellas lined up around the block Mrs. T.” Jo opened the door on the old fashioned elevator and guided the woman in, she closed the door then pushed the button for the second floor.
“Oh I had more then that.” The older woman said with an air of mystery. She smiled up into the sparkling green eyes that had one eyebrow raised at her then laughed. The elevator came to a stop and Jo opened the door. As she was about to lead Mrs. Tandy out the woman stopped her. “You go on home now dear, I've got it. I've been walking these halls for nearly fifty years.” And with that the small wrinkled woman shuffled out towards her door.
“You have a good night Mrs. T, let me know if you want to go out dancing later.” Jo smiled at the cackle of laughter she got in return and watched until Mrs. Tandy was inside her door before closing the elevator and continuing up to the fifth floor. Mrs. Tandy reminded Jo of a character from one of those old black and white movies she and Blair use to stay up late and watch. Jo knew almost everyone in the building and always kept a protective eye over the older residents. She also found the elder contingent of the building to be the most interesting and in most cases, such as Mrs. Tandy, the most charismatic.
Two years before Mrs. Tandy had been reminiscing about her younger days and going out every night dancing, Jo made a casual remark about taking her out anytime she wanted and was surprised to find the woman at her door later that evening. Mrs. Tandy took Jo to the Rainbow Room where they had a wonderful time dancing to all the old tunes. And just when Jo thought she should take the old lady home, Mrs. Tandy insisted they grab a late night dinner. All in all it was the best date Jo could ever remember going on.
Reaching the fifth floor Jo let herself into the loft apartment that she shared with two other roommates. They were among the lucky ones to have such a large space. A lot of the lofts had been divided up into smaller apartments as the old tenants moved out. The smaller apartments were rented out while the larger untouched lofts such as hers were all owner occupied.
The loft did not belong to Jo, but her roommate Alyssa, a former girlfriend of Jo's. They had dated for a short time not long after Jo had returned to New York and while the relationship did not last long, their friendship did. When Alyssa inherited the loft from her grandmother four years ago she invited Jo to move in. Jo had jumped at the offer to get out of the dump of an apartment in Hells Kitchen she had been living in. Harriet, Alyssa's old college roommate moved in a few months later after she got a job in New York 's fashion industry.
Originally the historic building had been a sweatshop where young girls sewed men's shirts. The loft still had the original wide plank floors, the worn wood now waxed and polished to a dull gloss. A towering bank of windows ran along one side of the entire space, flooding the apartment with natural light. Most of the space remained open allowing the living room to flow into the dinning room and into the kitchen. Just beyond the kitchen was the bathroom Jo shared with Harriet and next to that was Jo's bedroom on one side and Harriet's on the other. Another large open space that served as a project room for everyone ended at the master bedroom. And since Alyssa owned the place she got the larger bedroom and a small private bath.
Tossing her keys in one of three baskets that sat on an old battered table next to the front door Jo headed for her room, pausing briefly in the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. It was her day off and she had spent the morning at the shooting range and the afternoon shooting hoops with some of the guys from the medical examiners office. Kicking her shoes off, she grabbed her robe and headed for the shower.
Originally only a two-bedroom loft, the fourteen foot high ceilings had allowed Jo to build her own unique room. She built her bed up on a platform and enclosed it with heavy drapes, a ladder like stair led up to the cozy space, which also contained a nightstand and hope chest with extra blankets. Below the platform Jo built a closet and placed a small desk against its outside wall. There was enough space for a chair and dresser where Jo sometimes sat and listened to her radio. Tall tri-fold screens that Jo had found in a salvage yard and brought home for Alyssa to paint colorful designs on surrounded the lower space.
After a long hot shower Jo threw on a pair of old sweat pants and a worn out Langley Lions tee shirt and dropped down on the sofa to flick through channels on the television. Not much was catching her attention so she turned it off and grabbed the paperback murder mystery she kept on the coffee table and stretched out to enjoy some reading. Jo had only read two pages when the front door opened and Alyssa came in carrying a box.
“Hey Jo.” Alyssa said before dropping the box on a chair. It clanked loudly and Alyssa dropped her bag and jacket on top causing it to rattle again. Spinning around she flung herself on the sofa. Jo quickly lifted her feet before they were crushed and as Alyssa sunk into the cushions she pulled Jo's feet into her lap. An irritated pout settled on her lips.
“Bad day?” Jo asked as she closed the book and tucked it beside her in the cushions.
Pulling on Jo's toes Alyssa kept her gaze on the squirming digits. “Sucked, everything sucked.”
Jo tried to pull her feet away, but they were firmly held in place. “Would you stop doing that!” Alyssa stopped tugging and began massaging the tired feet. Jo's eyes momentarily rolled to the back of her head. She loved having her feet rubbed and Alyssa knew just how to do it. Regaining her composure she smirked at the still pouting woman. “You work at the coolest place on earth, how can everything suck?” Alyssa worked for a children's television show building puppets.
“Well not today it wasn't. I spent all day on repairs and didn't get a single moment to work on my new designs. And then to top it off Greg had just a few pieces that I don't think I'm going to be able to use.” Alyssa glanced at the box and frowned.
The puppet maker was passionate about her work, both the characters she made for the show and the marionettes she designed and built in their back room. Her designs ran from the classic doll like figures to the bizarre and unidentifiable and the stringed puppets hung from the old production tracks that crisscrossed the ceiling. It looked like a mass marionette suicide had taken place in their apartment.
Jo flipped around on the sofa so quickly that before Alyssa knew it she had Jo's face in her lap. She looked down at the goofy grin looking back at her and could not help smiling. “You're a fool.”
“Yes, but I'm a loveable fool.” Jo jumped up and grabbed Alyssa's hand pulling her out of her seat. “Come on, I'm going to make lasagna.”
“I don't cook.” Alyssa wined.
“Which is why you are going to take a shower.” Jo ordered as she guided the woman by the shoulders to the back of the apartment. “And then we are going to relax with a bottle of wine while I make a salad and garlic bread and you can show me the useless pieces of junk Greg fobbed off on you.” Alyssa gave her a sharp glare as Jo pushed her through the open bathroom door.
As Jo turned to leave Alyssa grabbed her by the arm. “Jo, thanks.” She gave the brunette a light peck on the lips then slipped into the bathroom.
Satisfied that a foul mood had been diverted Jo made her way into the kitchen and began preparing her mothers famous lasagna. Cooking had become a way of relaxing for Jo and she enjoyed cooking for her roommates. Especially since Alyssa could only make cheese toast and Harriet rarely got home in time to cook. Jo mostly cooked dinner during the week, but on the weekends she got to enjoy Harriet's grand brunches and multi course dinners. They left Alyssa in charge of keeping the wine rack full and beer in the fridge. She thought to herself that Mrs. Garrett would be happy to see the arrangement they had worked out.
Jo had hoped to talk to Alyssa about a new job opportunity she had been looking into. But considering the mood her usually good natured friend was in she thought it best to save that conversation for another day. In the years since Blair had moved away and their friendship had become strained, Jo had turned to Alyssa as her closest friend. She and Blair still talked about everything, but serious conversations were usually avoided since arguing long distance was pointless and expensive.
By the time Alyssa emerged from the bathroom all pink and fresh, Jo had finished the lasagna and salad and the garlic bread was just waiting for the right moment to be put into the oven. Jo grabbed the wine glasses as Alyssa opened a bottle of red and followed her roommate back to the sofa. For the next half hour they sat and dug through an assortment of mechanical bits and pieces while talking about the new marionette Alyssa was building for a show she was going to do at the children's hospital. The woman volunteered there a few times a month doing puppet shows for the kids. This time she was making a mechanical man out of odd parts that really did not belong together. For as crazy as it sounded, the emerging puppet was really cool looking.
Jo always tried to help out when Alyssa did her shows. She even built the portable pipe and drape stage to accommodate Alyssa's five foot ten inch frame. The kids always had a great time and Jo enjoyed seeing the sparkle in her friend's bright blue eyes when she heard their laughter.
Just as they were sitting down to dinner the front door flew open and the diminutive elfin like creature that was their third roommate rushed in like a whirlwind.
“Oh my god you made lasagna! I could smell it from the hallway.” Harriet tossed her satchel and jacket to the floor, while her keys landed in a basket on the table along with the handful of mail she had picked up. Without missing a step she grabbed a plate and glass and was seated at the table before anyone had a chance to say hello.
“You're home early. What happened, the shop burn down?” Jo asked as she pushed a bowl of salad across the table toward Harriet.
Before replying Harriet shoved a forkful of lasagna into her mouth savoring the flavor for a split second. “Calvin's out of town, I worked straight through lunch so I could finish up the new men's shorts line.” Swallowing the food in her mouth, Harriet finally noticed the looks her roommates were giving her. “What! I'm hungry.”
“How can someone so small manage to get that much food in their mouth at one time?” Jo looked at the next forkful that was being pushed into the small mouth.
“That was a rhetorical question, so please swallow before you attempt to speak again.” Alyssa urged as she took another sip of wine.
Greenish brown eyes looked up from under a shock of spiky white blonde hair and narrowed at the tall blonde before sticking her tongue out with a mass of chewed food on it.
A chorus of protest went up from the two dinner companions as napkins and bread were hurled at the offender. And soon the three friends were laughing, glad to be able to leave the stress of their jobs behind and enjoy each other's company.
The week seemed to creep by as she dealt with work from overseas and Blair had still not found the right time to call or visit Jo. Now the weekend was upon her and Bailey had come home. Her little sister had been excited to see her, but when she found out that Blair was considering moving back to New York she held onto Blair and cried in her arms, so happy to have at least one of her family back again. And even better it was her favorite member of the family.
Bailey's reaction to Blair's news had taken the older blonde by surprise, she had not realized how alone her Bailey had been feeling. Now a pang of guilt tugged at Blair. She had told Natalie she was moving back to the states, but what she did not say was where she would move to would depend on Jo's reaction to her return. After spending all day Saturday shopping with her sister, Blair knew she wanted to live near Bailey again as much as the younger blonde wanted her to.
Sunday morning Blair went all out and ordered up the most wonderful brunch to be delivered. It included all of Bailey's favorite dishes and the two of them enjoyed a relaxing morning talking and laughing.
“Can we do this every weekend Blair?” Bailey asked as she packed her bag to go back to school.
“Of course, only next Sunday it will be all my favorite dishes and you won't have to go back to school so early.” Blair hugged her sister once more before waving good-bye and making Bailey promise to call every night. No sooner had the door closed then Blair could feel the quiet pressing in on her. She tried to busy herself cleaning up the kitchen and straightening up Bailey's room, but she couldn't seem to settle down. Going into her room she slowly approached the vanity table where a small piece of folded paper sat. She picked it up and unfolded it to stare at the address she had memorized years ago.
This was it Blair decided; there would never be a good moment to spring herself on Jo. She was encouraged once again after spending time with her sister and found the courage that had bolstered her when she decided to leave Paris . Blair gave a small nervous laugh, what did she have to be afraid of, it was just Jo. She was going to see Jo, just Jo. But that was the rub, it was Jo, and it had never been just Jo. It had always been Jo. That thought was what allowed her to put on her jacket, pick up her handbag and walk out the front door. Because for Blair it had always been Jo, from the very beginning, only she had been a spoiled girl back then and was too stubborn to admit what she knew was the truth. Blair was all grown up now and no longer afraid of what anyone would think of her being in love with a woman, and not just any woman, but a tough talking, motorcycle riding woman from the Bronx .
In the taxi on the ride down town Blair wondered what Jo's reaction would be to seeing her here in New York . The last time they had spoken things had been strained. It was that conversation that had eventually led to Blair's decision to leave Paris . Through the long distance line Blair could feel Jo pulling away from her. Their easy bantering felt forced and Blair knew the time had come to do something or risk losing Jo forever.
She paid the cabbie then turned to stare up at the building where her future awaited. Taking a deep breath and feeling confident that she was doing the right thing, Blair marched herself up the six steps to the front door. Just as she reached the top a nice looking gentleman stepped out the door. Upon seeing the gorgeous blonde, he held the door open and smiled appreciatively at her. Blair graced him with one of her megawatt smiles and strolled into the building with her head held high as if she belonged there. Once the door closed behind her the smiled slid from her lips. Without having to announce her arrival with the front door buzzer Blair knew this would be a real surprise when Jo opened the door. She was just unsure if it would be a good surprise or a bad one.
Much to Blair's relief the building was not a run down shambles like the first apartment Jo had gotten when she moved into the city. It still had a bohemian quality to it, but the hallway and elevator were clean in spite of being old. When the elevator doors opened Blair had to push back the according gate in front of it to enter, then she moved with purpose to the door of her best friend. Standing in front of the door for a few moments the excitement and nerves of seeing Jo again washed over her. Finally she raised a shaky hand and knocked.
As the door opened the smile on Blair's face turned to stunned surprise. Instead of the tall brunette she was expecting she was greeted by a small pixie like woman with short white hair that looked like it had never seen a comb standing in the doorway in just a mans shirt with the sleeves rolled up several times, the collar half turned up and half folded down. Green-brown eyes stared up at Blair with a skeptical look.
“Yeah? What do you want?”
The shock of seeing another woman in Jo's apartment was rapidly causing Blair to lose her confidence in coming here. How could this be happening again? Natalie had not mentioned Jo having a girlfriend. “I'm, I, I'm sorry, I was looking for Jo.” Blair finally managed to stammer. “I'm an old friend.”
“Well don't just stand there, come on in.” Harriet stepped back and waved Blair inside. “I take it she's not expecting you?” Harriet said with a slight twinkle in her eye. She knew Jo did not like unexpected visitors. Heck Jo didn't really like visitors. “How did you get into the building anyway?”
Blair was beginning to feel like she should have called. “A nice man was exiting just as I arrived and he let me in. I was hoping to surprise Jo.”
Before Harriet could question Blair any further Alyssa came walking in from the back room carrying what looked to Blair like a small dolls head. Alyssa had an apron over her tee shirt and jeans that was covered in smears of paint and grime. Seeing the blonde standing in her apartment she stopped on her way to the fridge to get Jo a beer. “Sorry I didn't know you had company. I didn't hear the buzzer.”
“No buzzer.” Harriet quipped as she studied Blair again. “Say's she's an old friend of Jo's and just dropped in.”
Blair was beginning to wonder what she had walked into as she looked from the scantly clad woman who barely reached five feet to the nearly six foot woman with light brown hair who was now twirling the small head in her hand. “I'm sorry I should have called first.”
Something was tugging at Alyssa's subconscious but she could not pin it down. “No, it's fine, we were just fooling around in the back.” Alyssa said as she smiled at the blonde. “I'll just get Jo for you. I'm sorry what did you say your name was?”
At that moment Jo walked into the room unnoticed by the three women. “Blair?”
Blair turned at the familiar voice calling her name. She flashed her million dollar smile at the woman who made nightly appearances in her dreams. Although this Jo was leaner and stronger and her hair was longer, it was still pulled back in a ponytail. “Hello Jo, surprise.” Blair wanted to run over to her friend, but was unsure if she would be welcomed.
Jo was in shock at seeing the heiress that she was trying to distance herself from. She knew she should be saying something, but words escaped her for the moment. Thankfully she had two nosey roommates.
Alyssa was the first to make the connection. “Blair? This is Blair?” She had heard all about Jo's best friend during her school years and knew all too well that she was the reason Jo could never love anyone else completely.
“Blair? Jo's Blair? Of Warner Textiles?” Harriet also knew who Blair was to Jo, but for the moment the fashion designer in her took over. “We use your fabrics in several of our lines.” Blair pulled her eyes away from Jo to give the small woman a questioning look. “I work for Calvin Kline.”
Blair smiled politely. “Oh Calvin, he's such a dear.”
Instinct had Jo jumping to her roommate's defense; she did not want Blair to think Harriet was just a seamstress at the House of Kline. “Harriet's a designer.”
“Really?” Blair was genuinely impressed. “Which line do you work with?”
“Right now I'm working on men's summer apparel.”
Before Blair could get side tracked in the world of fashion, Jo stepped over to stand in front of her, very aware of being carefully watched by Alyssa. “Blair.” She waited for those soft brown eyes to turn and meet her green ones. “It's good to see you.”
The smile that broke out lit up the blonde's whole face. She cautiously wrapped her arms around Jo, intending to give her a brief hug, but as soon as Jo's arms returned the embrace Blair found she was holding on even tighter. Jo felt the slight tremble that was running through Blair's body and pulled back just enough to raise an eyebrow at the blonde. Blair knew what Jo was asking and she shook her head. “I'm just happy to see you.” Reluctantly Blair released the woman she had traveled so far to find.
“I didn't know you were coming to town.” Jo said as she took a step away from the intoxicating all too familiar smell of Blair.
“Yes well, I wanted to surprise everyone.”
Everyone stood awkwardly looking at each other. Harriet looked at her roommates and wondered what had crawled up their backsides. “Blair, why don't you come in and have a seat, I bet you and Jo have a lot of catching up to do.” She noticed the glare she got from the brunette and just smiled sweetly at her. “I'll take your jacket and hang it up for you. I'm making Indian food for dinner. Would you like to stay?”
Handing over her jacket to the small woman Blair's eyes slid over to Jo to see if she was welcome. Jo had a strained but pleasant smile and Blair could not read what was behind her eyes. “I'm not sure I can stay for dinner, but thank you.” She took a seat in one of the chairs next to the sofa and waited for the others to join her.
“Right, well can I get you anything? Coffee, water, soda, wine?” Harriet asked trying to be a good hostess.
“No thank you, I really just came by to see Jo. It's been a while since we've seen each other. I haven't had much of a chance to get back to New York lately.”
“You live in Milan right?” Alyssa asked twirling the puppet head around on her finger.
“ Paris actually.” Blair looked up to answer the tall roommate and noticed for the first time all the marionettes hanging from the ceiling. The sight of the hanging bodies momentarily caught her off guard. “Ugh, um, uh, I moved last year.” She continued to stare at the unusual sight and wondered who had done their decorating.
Seeing the stunned look on Blair's face Jo moved around and took the seat next to her on the sofa. “Alyssa is a puppeteer, she made all these marionettes.”
Recovering from the initial shock of seeing the hanging mass, Blair looked carefully at each puppet. “They really are extraordinary.” She smiled at the woman who was still starring a whole through Blair. “You're very talented.”
“Thank you.” Alyssa answered begrudgingly, she did not want to like Blair, but the woman was beautiful and not anything like the spoiled heiress Jo had spoken of. “Well, I guess I should get back to work.”
“I'll be back in a little while to finish soldering those pieces for you.” Jo called over her shoulder.
“It's okay Jo, I've got it.” Alyssa left just as Harriet was coming back with a beer and bottle of mineral water.
She handed the beer to Jo and the water to Blair. “You don't strike me as a beer person.” Harriet smiled at the two women then left again to see what Alyssa thought about Blair.
“Your roommates are very nice.” Blair said unsure where to begin.
“Yeah, I've known Alyssa a long time and Harriet was her roommate in college.” Jo took a long swig of beer.
“Alyssa…I remember you talking about an Alyssa, she was your…oh…you two are…”
“No. I mean yes. I mean we were.” Jo fumbled over her words and she could have sworn she had seen a look of disappointment in Blair's eyes at the thought of her and Alyssa together. She was not ready to be judged by Blair who she had not seen in almost two years. “Look Blair it's really great to see you, but what are you doing here?”
The courage that had brought Blair to Jo's apartment was beginning to slide. And unwilling to state her case outright, she decided to skirt around the issue. “You haven't returned my last four phone calls.”
Both of Jo's eyebrows shot up as she looked at the blonde as if she had lost her mind. “Are you telling me you flew here from Paris because I haven't called you back?”
“And your last letter was nearly a month ago.”
“I've been busy.” Jo growled. “You're insane Blair. Who flies across an ocean just to say ‘hey, what's up?' Oh right, you do.”
“I did not fly here just to see you Jo.” Blair lied. “There have been some major changes in my life recently.”
Despite the fact that Blair was doing her best to hide her real reason for being there, Jo could sense something was wrong with her friend. Somewhere in the tone of Blair's voice told Jo she was distressed about something. And no matter how much Jo wanted to distance herself from this woman who constantly lurked in her subconscious and was imbedded in her heart, she could not stand the thought of Blair upset or hurt. “What's going on Blair? Is everything alright? Bailey?”
“Bailey's fine. Although I didn't realize how much she missed having her family around until this past weekend. She's not like I am.”
“What are you talking about Blair? She's the spitting image of you.” The smile that quickly came to Blair's lips warmed Jo's heart, she loved Blair's smile.
“We are a lot alike, but Bailey's not as comfortable at being alone as I am.”
The single bark of laughter was accompanied by a look of amusement on Jo's face. “Good one Blair. You're never alone, there's always a gaggle of people around you.”
The long blonde locks tussled as Blair shook her head. “That's only at work. At home there's just me.”
“Blair, you're always going to some function or gala, and you've got a string of men to accompany you.”
The words hurt Blair, she had hoped Jo thought more of her than the society person she use to be. “I only attend functions when I am required to for the company and I go alone. I stopped dating long ago.”
From the moment Blair had walked in nothing had made sense, but now Jo was starting to become concerned. Blair loved being the center of attention and going out with the appropriate arm accessory to show off. The woman was not quiet, shy or a homebody. “What do you mean you stopped dating? What's going on Blair, you're starting to worry me. Something's bothering you, I can tell.”
The moment had come and Blair could wait no longer. Years of waiting and wanting all came down to this moment and Blair was afraid she would blow the whole thing. “Jo, I have made a lot of changes in my life, some for the better, some I have reservations about.”
“Like moving to another country.” Jo had not meant to sound bitter, but it slipped out anyway.
“Yes, like moving away and leaving my dearest friends behind. I thought I was doing what was right for my career, I never gave a thought to it being right for me personally.” Warm brown eyes searched the green ones that looked back at her with confusion. “Once I left, I took some time to examine my life, and take a hard look at myself. You wrote me a letter around that time saying you were leaving Rick to be the person you really were, no more hiding. I was so proud of you for being honest with yourself that I jumped the first plane I could to New York .”
“What are you talking about Blair, you never came to New York after I got back.”
“As my cab was pulling up to your apartment, you were walking down the sidewalk and a blonde headed woman ran into your arms. You looked so happy at that moment. I told the driver to keep going, I suddenly felt like an intruder.” Blair looked down at her hands resting in her lap, the pain of remembering that day filling her once again.
Anger began to boil up in Jo as she listened to her best friend whom had physically distanced herself, causing so much pain for the brunette. “Let me get this straight, you flew across an ocean to see me then turned around without so much as a hello the minute you saw me with a woman? You really are a nut case Blair. I guess you being proud of me was only in theory.”
Blonde hair flew back as Blair snapped her head up to look into Jo's angry green eyes. She either spoke the truth now or lose her friend forever. “Yes I left because I could not stand to see you in the arms of another woman, any other woman that was not me, but at the same time I couldn't interfere with your happiness.” Leaning forward Blair quickly closed the distance between them and captured Jo's lips with her own. It was not a passionate kiss, but a kiss of love. She pulled back just enough to see Jo's face and search her eyes for understanding. “I love you Jo, I think I always have, but I was not ready. I was not as brave as you are. Please forgive me.”
Breathing had become difficult for Jo and she was taking in shallow short breaths once she started breathing again after Blair's lips were removed from hers. She thought she must be in some kind of dream because here was the woman she had been in love with since high school telling her that she returned those feelings. “I'm suppose to forgive you for kissing me?” Jo was feeling very confused and needed time to process what was happening.
“I am not apologizing for that. I am sorry for taking so long to come to my senses, for wasting so much time.” Blair searched the face that she knew so well and could see Jo was having a hard time understanding. Taking one of Jo's hands in her own she decided to make things very clear for her friend. “I lied earlier Jo, I did come back just to see you. And I am not going away again and I will be here for as long as it takes for you to realize that we belong together, so take all the time you need. I can wait.”
Pulling her hand free, Jo stood and took a step back. Green eyes narrowed as Jo shook her head. “No, you can't just show up here out of the blue and drop a bomb like that. I can't be your latest plaything just because you want to take a walk on the other side of the tracks.” Quickly looking away, Jo felt like the world had just pitched under her. Blair, the one woman Jo had loved her entire life but could never have, was sitting in her living room telling her the words she had always wanted to hear. No Jo thought, it was just another one of Blair's flights of fancy. Whatever had sent Blair running off on her latest hair-brained scheme would right itself and then she would be off again. And Jo, she would be destroyed. Before emotions could overtake her Jo turned and fled to the back of the apartment.
Blair sat stunned. She had gone over several scenarios of how Jo would react, but she had not prepared for complete rejection. Tears silently fell as she watched Jo leave, all hope and excitement that she had felt just moments before were gone and so was Jo. Blair sat for a moment trying to comprehend what had just happened when Alyssa came charging into the room.
Crossing the area with a few great strides Alyssa towered over the seated blonde. “What the hell did you do to Jo?” She was so angry with Blair, the one person who could truly hurt Jo, that her hands were shaking.
Blair did not really notice the threaten gleam in Alyssa's eyes as she stared out into the void of all she had hoped for. “I made a mistake.” Blair barely managed to speak above a whisper.
Grabbing Blair's arm, Alyssa roughly pulled her up off the sofa and growled in her face. “Not good enough lady. Nobody hurts Jo and gets away with it, not if I can help it. Now what did you say to her?” Alyssa watched the tears slowly stop as Blair began pulling herself together. She let go of the woman's arm as she watched all the pain on Blair's face get pushed down and tucked away. And she could have sworn she heard the woman whisper ‘I waited too long' before completely pulling herself together.
“I'm sorry, I think perhaps I should not have come.” Blair looked apologetically at the tall woman. “I should go.”
Alyssa made a move to block Blair's path. She saw before her the same pain she had just left in her bedroom as Jo crumbled on her bed. “Just tell me what you said, I can't help Jo if I don't know what you did to her.”
Blair looked up into blue eyes that were not quite as angry as they had been a moment ago. “I simply told her that I love her.” Swallowing around the lump in her throat Blair continued. “But she made it clear she does not want me.”
An exasperated sigh escaped Alyssa's throat. Great she thought, Jo had spent years trying to get over Blair and just when it seemed she had moved on in swoops the woman herself and stirs it all up again. Blair began to step around Alyssa only to be stopped this time with a much gentler touch. “Blair, you can't just come in here after all this time and hit Jo with something like that. I know you know her better than anyone, so you should know Jo doesn't like change and you just pulled the rug out from under her.”
“That's why I told her I would wait, but you didn't see her eyes.” Blair felt she was beginning to weaken again and she just wanted to get out of there.
A sad and knowing smile etched Alyssa's lips. “Oh I know those eyes. They can pierce you like daggers, another weapon in her vast arsenal to keep her safe. They are the first drawn when Jo feels danger.”
“Danger? I was not threatening her.” Blair pleaded, unsure what this woman was saying.
“Sure you were, you threatened everything Jo put in place to protect herself.”
“Protect herself from what?”
“You.” Alyssa watched as the color drained from Blair's face and she dropped to the sofa, no longer able to stand. “You are the one Jo compares every woman she has ever met with, and none have measured up, including me.” Blair sat shocked listening to Alyssa. “Because Blair you are the only one Jo has ever really loved. And you never wanted her.”
The tears began to fall again and this time Blair did nothing to hold them back. She sat watching as she rubbed one hand with the other in her lap. “No. I just never told her.” She looked up as Alyssa took a seat next to her. “I couldn't. It was not the Warner way. I had an obligation to my family to be their perfect little girl.”
“Yeah, and how'd that work out for you?” Alyssa smirked feeling she now understood where Blair was coming from.
Blair tried to give her a weak smile but failed. “I made a choice to give up what I wanted for what my parents wanted for me, but in the end it's made no one happy.”
The two women sat there for a moment weighing the issues of revelation. Then Alyssa reached over and laid a hand over Blair's fidgeting ones. “I just have one thing to ask you Blair.” She waited until she had the undivided attention of those watery brown eyes. “Do you love Jo?”
“Yes, more than anything in this life.” Blair did not hesitate to answer.
“Then don't just tell her, show her. Be here, don't give up and prove to her that you are serious and you are not going to walk out on her again. Because if you can't do that then you need to walk out that door and never come back.”
All the hope and love that had filled Blair and pushed her to leave Paris suddenly came back to her and she knew that the words she had spoken to Jo were true. She would wait for as long as it took and she would never stop proving to Jo just how much she loved the woman. Blair took a deep cleansing breath and wiped away the last of her tears, she had never backed down from a challenge and Jo had always been the greatest challenge in her life, so she would stand strong for as long as it took. “I will never walk away from Jo again.”
Before Alyssa could suggest ways Blair could gently woo her friend a small squeak came from across the room. Both she and Blair looked up to see a delighted Harriet standing in the opening to the hallway and standing next to her was a shell shocked Jo. Silence fell as Blair took in the condition of the woman she loved. She looked for signs of the anger that had been there before but did not see any. Not finding any hostility, Blair rose and took a few tentative steps toward her best friend.
“Jo, I'm sorry if I upset you. I should not have just showed up after so many years and sprung this on you, but I want you to know I meant every word I said. If that's too much for you right now, I understand and I hope we can still be friends, because above all you are my oldest and dearest friend and I could not bare to lose that relationship.” Blair wondered just how long Jo had been standing there listening to she and Alyssa's conversation. Time seemed to stretch on as Jo just stared at her.
Jo stood rooted to the spot trying to process everything she had just heard. When Alyssa did not immediately return she had gotten up thinking she would have to keep the tall woman from throwing Blair out a window, but as she made her way down the hall she could hear the two talking so she stopped just inside the opening and listened. It was the despair and anguish in Blair's voice that had stopped her and kept her from moving.
After years of watching Blair go through men like a deck of cards. Each toyed with and manipulated until she no longer had a use for them and then she cast them aside. Years of loving Blair and repressing it and having to play witness to the heiresses social life left Jo with a certain knowledge that Blair could never love her. But could she have been wrong? Could Blair's rolodex style speed dating have been her way of denying something much deeper?
Taking a step into the room, Jo was hesitant. “Blair…” She paused to search the beautiful face she knew so well. Taking a few more steps Jo stopped just short of Blair's personal space. “Look Blair, I may have over reacted… but it was kind of a shock just seeing you much less you saying…saying…”
“Saying I love you.” Blair gave Jo a small smile, not wanting to scare her again.
Jo looked at her feet for a moment and bit her lip. It was wonderful and scary hearing those words coming out of Blair's mouth. “Yeah. Look you can't just go around saying that, you don't really know me anymore, so enough of that.”
Blair shook her head slightly as she took a step closer. “You're wrong Jo. I know you, I know everything about you, a few years separation does not change us.”
“Apparently it does because the boy crazy Blair I know just told me she's in love with a woman.” Jo said in her own defense.
“Yes, and it is because of this woman and my feelings for her that I tried to run so hard and so fast in the opposite direction. Jo I don't want to overwhelm you, but I will never stop telling you that I love you because I never want to deny that part of myself again. I know I have shocked you and you have this need to be cautious, but Jo I realized just how much I loved you that night you kissed me right here.” A delicate finger landed on the corner of Blair's mouth showing she had not forgotten. “And it scared me so much that I hid myself away for fear of acting on those feelings, but I'm not scared anymore Jo. And if you will let me, if I'm not too late, I would like to prove it to you.”
Jo took a deep shuddering breath. She could understand fear, it was what had driven her into Rick's arms. But now here was Blair and the years were falling away as well as the fear and there was nothing left but the love they had for one another. Taking a step closer, Jo reached out and took both Blair's hands into her own. “Blair I have been in love with you since almost the day we met, but a lot has happened since then. I need to take this slow. Maybe start with dinner first. No rushing, because I don't want to get this wrong.”
A bright smile eased onto Blair's features. “Jo, you and I together could never be wrong.” She leaned forward and captured Jo's lips once again. The kiss was not too long, but just right. Pulling back, Blair had a huge grin. “So did you just ask me out to dinner?”
Jo could not help but smile, here was the Blair she knew, had always known and with any luck would always know. “Yeah, I guess I did.” She could feel where Blair's arms had snaked around her waist and it felt wonderful. They had a lot of things to talk about but that could all wait. Right now Jo had a date with her favorite girl. She pulled Blair into a tight hug and whispered into her ear. “Welcome home Blair.”
Another squeal penetrated the air and Jo turned to find her two roommates standing in the kitchen. Harriet looked like she had just been asked to stand in Princess Di's wedding and Alyssa was coolly eyeing Blair. Jo pulled back away from Blair to scowl at her friends.
“This aint a peep show. Don't you guys have something you should be doing?” Getting no response other than a giggle from Harriet, Jo turned back to Blair and could see that she too was remembering what it was like to have two nosey roommates. “Let me just grab my jacket and we can go for a walk, give us some time to decide where to go for dinner.” Jo rolled her eyes at her roommates before heading to her room.
Feeling like an art exhibit, Blair looked around for where Harriet had put her coat. She went back to the sofa to retrieve her purse then turned to find the small woman standing there with her coat. “Thank you Harriet, I'm sorry if I have disrupted your evening.”
The grin that covered Harriet's face made her look even more elfish. “I think our evenings need more disruptions like that. I hope you'll come back soon.”
Taking her coat and slipping it on Blair gave the woman a sincere smile. “I'd like that, I would love to hear your ideas about fashion.” The smaller woman seemed to skip away, grinning even more if that were possible. And now Blair found herself face to face with the tall and daunting looking Alyssa. “Alyssa, I want to thank you.”
Looking down at Blair, Alyssa spoke very quietly. “If you hurt her again, I will kill you.”
Blair looked into serious blue eyes and could see the love that this woman had for Jo. “Good. Jo deserves a friend like you.”
The threat immediately fell from Alyssa's face as she gave Blair a look of respect. It had not been the response she had expected, but one she was glad to have gotten.
At that moment Jo returned to see Alyssa towering over Blair. “Everything okay in here?” Not wanting to have her best friend and her oldest friend going at each other, Jo was prepared to step in. She was relieved therefore when the two women smiled at each other. Moving across the room Jo quickly propelled Blair towards the door. “I'll see you later tonight.” Jo nodded to Alyssa as she opened the door.
“You kids have fun.” Alyssa teased as she watched Jo walking towards something good for once.
One year later, friends and family gathered to celebrate the wedding of Jo Polniaczek and Blair Warner. It had been a long time in the making but finally Jo and Blair stood together as living proof that love will always triumph.
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