Summary: Exactly what does it take to open your eyes and see the truth? To live a life of honesty is to be honest with yourself as well as others.
Disclaimers: The character are not mine, I do not own them, only borrow them for a bit to come and play in my world and then let them go. The story however is mine.
Warning: No violence (death is not violence, death is a fact of life), no sex (not on the pages anyway), no Velociraptors. What is the point of reading this? Oh yeah, a bit of fun.
Comments are always welcome; please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
August 19, 2012
Let me start of by saying that death is not what you think it is. At least not what I thought it would be. I mean where are the celestial beings, where are the pearly gates, the roads of gold, and where is my choir of angels? For as long as I can remember this is what I was told the afterlife would be like. Instead, what I got was nothing. Darkness, that is what I got, not absolute darkness, but more like a dark grey with just enough defused light to know that I am in the middle of nothing. No matter how far I walk, nothing, and it's a miracle I can walk at all in these heels. And while we are on the subject, who picked out this outfit? I wouldn't be caught dead in it, and yet here I am. Oh laugh it up Polniaczek because all I have to say is paybacks are a bitch.
Polniaczek. Jo, that would be my best friend, although after this little stunt I think we can safely say ex-best friend. Not really. We have gotten through much worse than this before and somehow managed to survive. Of course the big exception here is that I am dead and she's not.
Maybe this is the part where I am suppose to examine my life, you know reflect, make peace, come to terms, count my regrets. Regrets? Blair Warner does not have regrets. Hmmm, well maybe one. Ugh, I really do not want to do this, but I suppose if there is any life to have to look back on mine was a pretty great one.
Growing up I had the best money could buy. I wore designer clothes, was invited to all the best parties, had my own horse on our ranch down in Texas , my own suite in our penthouse in New York and went to the best boarding schools in the country. In fact it was at boarding school that I met my best friend.
The day Jo walked into Eastland was the day my whole world changed. I was being my obnoxious self and this tough talking girl from the Bronx let me know in no uncertain terms that she was neither impressed nor intimidated by me. Which came as a great shock as that was how I treated most people. Within twenty-four hours of her arrival I had been arrested and was in trouble with the school for the first time in my life. Forced into manual labor and giving up my private room to live over the cafeteria with the three other girls in our little crime spree, was the best thing that ever happened to me.
My parents had been very absent in my life, busy with their own lives and leaving me in the capable hands of my teachers. Now Mrs. Garrett, the school nutritionist took a special interest in all four of us since she was now our warden. It was Mrs. Garrett who taught me patience. It did not come right away, but as my warden became my mentor and friend I found her to be an outstanding roll model. In fact all the great lessons in life I learned in those four walls. Natalie taught me humor and how important it was to know myself. Tootie taught me to laugh at myself and that drama belonged on the stage and not in your life. However it was Jo, a poor kid who would not know Gucci from Godiva and who liked to tinker with a greasy old motorcycle that taught me the most. She taught me to see, recognize and understand others, no matter what their background. Jo showed me the world not through rose tinted glasses, but through the plain lens of ordinary everyday life.
Those first few years were a struggle for us both as we butted heads over everything and refused to see the other person for who they really were. We argued, we fought and we became constant companions. We would lay into each other over the smallest thing, but if anyone else dared to slander or hurt one of us they would find themselves facing off with the other.
Jo was always there for me. She battled bullies for me, helped me with my homework, covered for me with Mrs. Garrett if I was late and even threatened to beat up a few guys who had gotten too fresh with me. Under the cover of bravado and an ill temper, Jo was the most caring person I had ever met. And she never let me get away with anything. In the beginning she would bully me into opening my eyes and seeing a situation for what it was or force me to examine myself if I were the one at fault. Later she became much better at cajoling me into rational thought and saving the threats of bodily harm for drastic situations. I like to think I had something to do with that. I worked for years softening and refining those rough edges of hers into something that passes for a decent human being.
Our education at Eastland went far beyond the classroom. The four of us learned the most valuable lesson of all, friendship. We became our own little family that is just as strong and close today as it was when we all lived together. It was when Jo and I left for college that we realized how important our little made up family was and once again found ourselves under the same roof as the people we loved. We all had our own families, but having grown up in boarding schools I was not use to this new dynamic of there being someone there day after day looking out for me and allowing me to become such an intricate part of their daily lives. I believe it was the same for Jo, coming from a single parent household where her mother was hardly ever home because she had to work all the time to support them. Natalie and Tootie came from much more stable and traditional families and perhaps did not need the security of our forged family that Jo and I did. Perhaps it was that as much as the age differences between the two younger girls and us that brought Jo and I together and created such a close and unbreakable bond.
I have never cared to give it much thought over the years, but for two people who were from such different backgrounds Jo and I are exactly the same. I suppose that could explain so much of the arguing. And for two people who are the same, we are also the complete opposite. Thank goodness.
I was the harvest queen; Jo was on the lacrosse team. I like art and the ballet; Jo likes motorcycles and video games. I wear Versace; Jo wears Levis . My idea of a relaxing evening is a bottle of fine wine with a platter of delectable hors d'oeuvres and the company of my best friend, Jo's is a bottle of beer and a pizza while sprawled out on my sofa. Okay, maybe that last one is pretty close to being the same.
If I look back on what was the one constant in my life it would have to be Jo. She helped me with my schoolwork, taught me that manual labor not only would not kill me, but would make me a more well rounded individual. She checked out all my dates, waited up for me when I went out, comforted me when was disappointed or heartbroken and occasionally threatened the life of a boy who tried to get fresh with me. She showed me I could do anything I set my mind to. It was because of her that I got into law school and it was Jo that let me know it was okay not to become a lawyer when I wanted to become an executive at my fathers company.
At least once a week I have lunch or dinner with Natalie and Tootie, but Jo and I talk everyday and see each other almost every other day. It has always been that way, even when she got married after college.
When Jo told me Rick had asked her to marry him and she said yes I had told her I thought it was a mistake, that it was too soon, but if it was what she really wanted then I would support her in her decision. I was her maid of honor and then stood by and watched as Rick took her away from us. That was probably his second big mistake, the first being asking her to marry him. I cannot blame him entirely, Jo just had not been ready to face herself yet and it was something I could not help her with.
We spoke everyday and I could tell she was not happy like a newlywed should be. She hated the west coast, too much air and sunshine she said. Then seven months after the wedding, after being unhappy and not being able to figure out why, something changed. I heard it in her voice when we spoke that night. She had finally made a friend and it seemed to take some of the pressure off, she was not so lonely anymore. A few weeks later Jo showed up on my doorstep distraught and looking like she was about to crawl out of her skin.
I had only been home from work a short time when the doorbell rang. When I opened the door and saw Jo standing there with a small backpack slung over her shoulder I almost jumped into her arms. Instead I pulled her inside and held tight to her free arm until we were seated on the sofa. I could tell she was upset and wondered if something had happened with Rick.
“Oh Jo, it is so good to see you, I've missed you so much, but what are you doing here?”
Unable to sit still Jo jumped up and began pacing around the room. “Something happened Blair.”
Worry suddenly flooded Blair. “Is Rick alright? Your mother?”
“No, no, they're fine, it's nothing like that.” Jo waved off those thoughts and continued to pace. “I did something and it has kind of opened my eyes to something I should have seen a long time ago.” Jo stopped pacing and stood at the end of the sofa opposite from Blair. “I wanted to talk to you before…well, because I always talk to you before I make any big decisions in my life.”
“Sit down Jo and tell me what happened.”
Jo just shook her head and remained standing as she twisted her fingers together. “Remember I told you I made a new friend, Lisa? Well, she's great and we've been spending a lot of time together and a few days ago she kissed me.” Jo paused, she could not bring herself to look at her friend, she did not want to see Blair's reaction just yet, not until she got everything out. “It shocked me at first, but I didn't stop her. I enjoyed it. I had never felt that way before and things got a little heated… I mean I stopped it before it went too far, but…I didn't want to.” Jo finally looked at Blair, searching brown eyes for what the blonde might be thinking. “Blair, I think I'm gay.”
Blair sat very still and tried to give Jo the support she needed. “Why do you think that Jo?”
“Because I have never felt that way with anyone else. Rick has never been able to make me feel the way one kiss from Lisa did. And when we are together, everything just feel so right and natural. I want her in a way I have never wanted Rick or any guy for that matter.” Jo closed her eyes to fight back the tears. “I thought I had out grown this. I didn't want this Blair, but I can't turn my back on it anymore. I'm sorry Blair, but I had to tell someone.”
Blair had stood and made her way to her friend, she wrapped her arms around Jo and held her tight and whispered in her ear. “It's okay Jo, I love you just the way you are and I always will.” She placed a kiss on Jo's temple then led her back to the sofa where Jo finally gave in to the tears she had held back for so long. Blair simply held the sobbing brunette, rubbing small circles on her back and showing her that their friendship was still the most important thing in her life and she would always be there for Jo. Blair had waited a long time for Jo to finally accept what she had suspected for years and now she hoped her friend could have a truly happy life.
Once the tears stopped Jo pulled back and collapsed against the back of the sofa. “I'm leaving Rick. It's not fair to either of us.” She closed her eyes exhausted after the last few days of inner turmoil she had been going through. When all else had failed she had caught a plane and ran to the one place she had hoped she would feel safe, and as always Blair had not let her down.
“What about Lisa?”
Bright green eyes opened when Jo realized Blair had curled up on the sofa and was leaning back right next to her. She looked again into the soft brown eyes of her best friend and found nothing but love starring back. “I'm not in love with her Blair, she just opened a door for me. That must sound cold, but I just want to come home and try and figure out what my life is suppose to be now.”
Jo flew back to California and ended it with Rick, he did not take it all that well at first, but eventually came around when he realized this was not something he could fix. By the end of the week Jo was back in New York filing for divorce. She moved in with me and announced she was joining the police force. When no amount of begging, pleading, crying and demanding could get her to change her mind I gave in and let it go. But that did not stop me from worrying every time she walked out the door. And once she was on the force and got her own apartment I insisted she call three times a day so I would know she was all right. By the time Jo made detective I had learned to trust her to stay safe.
Jo did seem happier once she came out and was in a job she loved. Having her home again made me happy because I could actually spend time with my best friend again and for the short time she lived with me it was like old times. Just as her love life was starting to pick up mine seemed to fall off. In my opinion the selection of eligible bachelors in New York had taken a turn for the worse. But Jo being Jo was always happy, well at least willing, to fill in when I could not find a respectable date for one of the many functions I am obliged to attend.
No matter if Jo was dating someone at the time or not she would always be there for me. Be it a charity ball, banquet, or just a weekend away when the stress of work was more than I could bare. Jo has always been there for me. As I have for her with her marriage, divorce, coming out, becoming a cop and the string of overbearing women she seems to like dating, mostly blondes. I have not particularly liked any of them, but I tolerate them until Jo loses patience with them and moves on.
Mostly blondes that Jo will drop in a heartbeat if I need her. Oh Jo. I have been a fool.
My dear best friend, why is it you can't seem to find the right woman? I should have told you when you were still living with me, but you had started dating Veronica and you seemed happy and I could not take that away from you after everything you had been through. Besides, you didn't act interested. Jo, I have been in love with you for a long time and I'm sorry I never saw it before, but I think you might be in love with me too. Why did I wait?
Wait a minute, it's getting darker here, no! I don't want to be in the complete dark. Aghh!! What the hell just hit me in the chest? Oh that hurts, I can't breathe. Why can't I breathe? I feel like I'm being blown up like a balloon. No, I don't want to be in the dark!
It was Saturday and Jo had her first weekend off in two weeks. She had planned on sleeping late then going for a jog in the park then kicking back on her sofa with the Times, a pizza and a six pack. Those were her plans, however Blair's plans consisted of a full day of shopping sans the beer and pizza. So Jo was now following Blair around from one store to the next watching her trying on every item of clothing in New York City .
They were now in some high-end store that looked like it was suppose to be a shack in the Hawaiian Islands somewhere. Jo was flipping through a rack of jeans and almost choked when the cheapest ones started at two hundred dollars, they were faded and had holes in them and looked like something she would consider throwing out not spend two hundred dollars on. She was about to point out to Blair that this place was a rip off when from the corner of her eye she saw a blonde head heading for the dressing room with an arm load of clothes. Jo headed in that direction hoping to talk Blair into skipping the Nuevo trash and grabbing some lunch instead. Blair was at the dressing room already and Jo was only halfway across the store when the whole world crashed down around them. She watched as Blair opened the door. Seeing it was dark the blonde looked around for the light switch. She finally found it on the outside of the room behind an open shutter that was supposed to give the illusion of a window. Reaching back Blair flipped the switch and made contact with some wires that were sticking out of the uncovered light switch.
The jolt of electricity that went through Blair knocked her across the small open area and slammed her into the opposite wall. She crumbled to the ground instantly. Jo watched as Blair was thrown across the room and screamed her name. She bolted to Blair's side and tried to revive her. There were burn marks on Blair's fingers and Jo could not find a pulse nor was Blair breathing.
The three staff members along with two other customers came running over to see what the commotion was all about. When they saw the unconscious woman lying on the floor they starred in horror.
“What happened?” The store manager demanded in an anxious voice.
“I don't know she reached back there to turn on the light and the next thing she was flying across the room.” Jo yelled as she indicated the shutter and began trying to take Blair's pulse. “I got no pulse. Call an ambulance.” Jo began unbuttoning Blair's top and straightened the woman out on the floor so she could begin CPR. Counting between compressions and breathing into Blair's mouth she could hear one of the employees on the phone with the police. “Tell them Detective Polniaczek is on the scene and I need an ambulance now!”
The manager went over to the shutter and pulled it forward, seeing the exposed wires and missing switch plate. He had just had the electrician in that morning working on the dressing room light which had been going off on it's own lately. The man said he would be back this afternoon to finish the job. The manager never thought to check to see if wires would have been left exposed. He quickly replaced the shutter and hoped the woman was not dead. As he approached the small group that had formed around the deathly still woman he heard one of the costumers whisper ‘Isn't that Blair Warner?' Great he thought, there goes the store and my career.
Jo was trying not to panic and had switched into work mode as soon as she reached Blair's side and began desperately to save her. How could this have happened? One moment she was bored out of her mind looking at clothes and the next Blair was lying here not breathing and with no heartbeat.
“Come on Blair, do not do this to me.” Jo pleaded as she continued the chest compressions. “Just wake up and I will let you dress me in anything you want for your next charity ball.” She stopped the compressions and pinched Blair's nose then began blowing into her mouth. ‘This is not what I had in mind for our first kiss.' Jo thought to herself as she continued breathing air into Blair's lungs.
Time seemed to screech to a halt as Jo worked on trying to revive Blair. She felt like she had been doing CPR forever and was wondering where the damn ambulance was when after her third round of compressions she stopped to breathe into Blair's mouth, she felt the lips that hers were pressed to respond. She quickly pulled back and Blair took a ragged breath. Jo pressed her ear to the Blair's heart and let a tear escape when she heard a resounding thump thump thump.
“Jo…” Blair could barely whisper, but then suddenly her view went from dark hair covering her face to the beautiful face and bright green eyes she loved so much.
“It's okay Blair an ambulance is on its way. Just lay still till they get here.” Jo cupped one side of Blair's face and held her uninjured hand with the other.
“What happened?” Blair's voice was shaky and very low, but she never took her eyes away from Jo's.
Tears threatened to spill over and down Jo's cheeks, but she held them back. “I don't know sweetie, but do me a favor and don't move, I want the paramedics to look at you first.” She kept brushing Blair's cheek with the pad of her thumb; grateful she was looking into those soft brown eyes once more. Jo could hear the siren now and knew help was almost there. “It won't be long now.”
“Jo…come closer.” Blair remembered her last thought before she felt the pull of life bringing her back. She watched Jo lean down close to her face. “Closer.” When Jo was almost touching her nose she looked deep into Jo's eyes trying to show her how much she meant what she was about to say. “I love you Jo.” Then she tilted her head up a bit and captured Jo's lips in a soft but intense kiss. She smiled as she felt Jo respond and when Jo pulled back and Blair she could see the tears that had made their escape streaming down Jo's face.
“I love you too Blair. Don't you ever leave me again.” Jo could hear the paramedics rushing into the store so she moved back just enough to give them room to work, but she still held onto Blair's hand.
They worked quickly and had her on a gurney and headed out the door within fifteen minutes. The cops that showed up behind the ambulance just happened to be some of the uni's Jo knew. They waited for the medics to finish up before talking to her and started with the other people in the store.
Jo walked out to the ambulance still holding Blair's hand. As they began loading the gurney she had to let go. “No Jo, please don't leave me alone.” Blair pleaded.
“It's okay Blair I'll be right behind you in the squad car, I'll see you inside the emergency room.” She watched the doors close and the ambulance pull away before heading back inside. Once Blair was gone and Jo knew she was being taken care of by professionals she dropped her detectives mask into place and headed straight for the back of the store. When she reached the shutter she flipped it over and saw the wires that Blair had come into contact with. Before she could tear the manager from limb to limb one of the uni's pulled her aside and offered her a ride to the hospital. It was the memory of Blair's frightened face that forced her out the door. On the ride over she learned about the repair work that was being done and how the electrician had been irresponsible. The manager had known nothing about the exposed wires. It meant nothing to Jo, only that there were now two people on her list of who would pay for what happened to Blair, and she was not interested in money.
By the time she reached the emergency room the burns on Blair's fingers had already been treated and they were about to take her for tests on her heart. Jo stepped into the room and went straight to Blair's side. She brushed a few strands of hair off the pale forehead. “I'll be right here when you come out Blair.”
The frightened look disappeared from Blair's face the moment Jo walked into the room. She knew they were about to take her away again, but just knowing Jo was here waiting for her to return gave her the strength to give the woman she loved a small smile.
To be on the safe side they kept Blair in the hospital for two days just to make sure there were no latent effects of being electrocuted and having her heart stop then restarted again moments later. She mostly caught up on sleep while Jo filed the paperwork on her case and personally saw to it that the clothing shop was shut down until complete renovations could be undertaken according to every building code in New York .
Jo would stop by before and after work and they would talk about nothing in particular. The stark and sterile hospital made Jo uncomfortable and she found herself not wanting to talk about what had happened at the store.
The moment Blair was released Jo picked her up and took her home. She took the rest of the day off to make sure Blair was comfortable and had everything she needed. After a run to the grocery store Jo was fussing in the kitchen trying to figure out meals to make so Blair could just heat them up in the microwave. She knew she was trying to buy herself some time before she and Blair had ‘the talk' about the kiss. Now that Blair was not in danger she wondered if Blair had really meant what she said or if it was the near death experience talking. With her head ducked down in the fridge she heard her name quietly called from the living room and knew the time had come.
Jo entered the room where Blair was reclining on the sofa and offered the blonde a bottle of water. As she started to move to the chair beside the sofa Blair grabbed her hand and gave it a little tug causing her to sit down next to the woman. Blair sat up a little and held onto Jo's hand, she searched the green eyes that held her own and found uncertainty.
“Jo, I want to talk about what happened.”
“Yeah, I think that's a good idea.”
Blair took a deep breath, she wanted to get it all out in the open and she needed to know how Jo felt, not only about what she was about to say, but about her. “I was electrocuted and died and you saved my life.”
“You didn't die Blair, you just stopped breathing for a little while.” Jo did not want Blair to have to think about those things.
“My heart stopped Jo and you started it again. And yes I did die. I remember it quite clearly.”
“What do you mean you remember it?”
“I was in this dark place, but it wasn't completely dark, there was nothing there, no matter where I went, nothing. I figured I was suppose to contemplate my life, you know reflect?” Jo sat very still and urged Blair to go on with her eyes, whatever Blair needed to say she wanted to hear it. “I thought back over my life and the one thing that kept coming up was you. Then I asked myself if I had any regrets and the only one that I could think of was that I had not told you the truth, that I love you, am in love with you and have been for a very long time. But Jo I don't want to live with regrets anymore. I love you Jo and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Blair sat watching for any reaction from the woman who meant everything to her.
Swallowing, Jo looked at the delicate hand holding hers. She lifted it to her lips and kissed each finger then looked up into the strong and reassuring face of her best friend and soon to be lover. “Blair, I've always loved you, I just didn't know what to do about it. We've been dancing around this for a long time. My heart belongs to you and when yours stopped on that floor so did mine. I don't want to be without you anymore.”
The smile that erupted on Blair's lips was quickly lost as she pulled the brunette to her and kissed the love of her life as if her life depended on it, because in fact it did.
Several hours later Jo and Blair lay in each other's arms in Blair's king sized bed, both exhausted and happier then either had ever imagined possible. Jo's head rested on Blair's chest listening to her heart rate calm down to a normal rhythm, satisfied that Blair was alive and well and in her arms. Just as she was drifting off to sleep Blair spoke.
“And Jo, when I do die I am to be buried in my Eve St. Laurent dress. If you put me in that Canal Street sidewalk special I will come back and haunt you for the rest of your life.” As Jo's head popped up from her chest with a raised eyebrow and confusion in her eyes, Blair gave her a steely looked that said there would be no discussion about this then smiled and closed her eyes as she continued to stroke the silky hair on Jo's head.
Jo continued to stare at her lover for a few moments then gave over to the sensation of Blair's fingers in her hair and she allowed sleep to take her. She was exactly where she wanted to be with the only person she had ever truly wanted to be with. And in the morning they would start a whole new life together. One a lot like the old one only this time with their love for each other at the forefront of their relationship.
As Jo's breaths evened out into the rhythm of sleep, Blair opened her eyes again and looked down at the sleeping face of her best friend and lover. She smiled and breathed a contented sigh. She had known this woman most of her life, and now finally because of the courage of both of them she could start living. Blair closed her eyes and joined Jo in peaceful sleep.
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