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The Baker's Dozen
By Ann


"Blair, Nat, come quick. Jo fell out of the tree. She was trying to climb down from her bedroom."

Tootie ran into the den, hoping to enlist the help of her friends to get Jo inside before Mrs. Garrett came home. The older woman would more than likely ground Jo for at least a month for this particular stunt.

Natalie immediately jumped from the couch and started for the door as Blair followed at a more sedate pace, clearly upset with her roommate.

"Just because Jo sees a ray of sunshine, she thinks it's safe to try to climb down that damn tree. She conveniently forgets that it'd been raining for hours before the sun finally came out."

Tootie walked beside her friend, nodding her head in agreement.

"You know Jo, Blair. She's just like a cat, thinking she can climb anything, and I'm pretty sure she's already on the fourth of her nine lives."

"Well, maybe next time, she'll remain in her bedroom, or, at least, use the stairs."

The two girls exited the kitchen door and headed towards the big oak. Rounding the corner, Blair spotted her injured friend and increased her stride, wondering just how high off the ground Jo had been when she fell.

The tomboy was lying on her back holding her ankle; her raven locks flowed as she shook her head from side to side in obvious pain.

Natalie looked up at the tree limb and whistled in awe. "Well, spank me and call me skinny. I can't believe you tried to jump off that limb, Jo."

"Yeah, Jo. I'm with Blair and Nat on this one. Next time you get a case of wanderlust, use the front door, please."

Jo glared at her friends, not at all amused with their attempts to point out how stupid it was of her to try to slide down the tree. Supporting her ankle as best she could, the brunette held out her hand for one of her friends to take.

"Would you guys just knock it off and help me to my room before Mrs. G comes home and kills me?"

Blair offered her hand while Natalie and Tootie moved to either side of Jo, hoping to catch her should the socialite let go of the brunette's hand. Jo appeared to have really hurt herself this time, and both girls were genuinely worried about their friend. It definitely wasn't a time for Blair to suddenly decide to be playful.

The blonde successfully pulled Jo from the ground and placed a supporting arm around the other girl's waist. Natalie quickly slid in on the opposite side and mimicked Blair's actions. In a rare moment, Blair offered some comfort to the brunette.

"C'mon, Jo. Let's get you upstairs and put some ice on that ankle."

Groaning, Jo gamely kept up with her two friends. "Can I have some tomato juice, too?"

Natalie immediately expressed her displeasure. "Yuck, Jo. Tomato juice? Who came up with the idea of making juice from tomatoes anyway? Wouldn't you rather have a hot fudge sundae? I know that's what I'd want if I were injured."

Tootie snorted, saying, "Nat, you've never needed a special occasion to eat ice cream. It doesn't matter if you're free from injury or even if it's not your birthday, you always find a reason to make yourself a sundae."

"Hey, Nat? I think you deserve a hot fudge sundae for helping me to my room." Jo quickly chimed in before Natalie got ticked off. She certainly didn't need one of her crutches to suddenly decide to stomp away in anger.

Smiling, Natalie stuck her tongue out at Tootie as the girls finally made it inside the house.

Managing the stairs proved to be extremely difficult, but the trio successfully arrived at Jo and Blair's room. They'd left Tootie downstairs with strict orders to warn them should Mrs. Garrett return early from her meeting.

While Blair retrieved her pillow to put under Jo's ankle, Natalie quickly ran downstairs to get a bag of ice.

"Um, Blair? I really appreciate you helping me out. Mrs. G has warned me dozens of times to quit climbing up and down that tree, but I've done fine until now. I really don't want to have to eat my words, you know?"

Gently lifting the brunette's ankle, Blair placed the pillow underneath and then lowered the injured limb just as gently.

"I know, Jo, but I really wish you'd be more careful. I hate it when you get hurt."

"I'm sorry, princess. I promise to be more careful next time."

"Careful? You mean careful as in using the door instead of the tree, right?"

"Huh? Oh yeah, that's exactly what I meant."

Natalie returned with the ice and promptly handed it to Blair, not wanting Jo to yell at her when the cold hit the swollen ankle.

As expected, Jo hissed at the contact, but she held her tongue. Natalie watched in amazement as Blair fluffed the pillow behind Jo's back and gently moved a raven lock behind the other girl's ear.

Just as Natalie turned to head towards her sundae, a cry was heard from downstairs.

"Tally ho!"

"What the hell was that?" Jo asked, almost falling from the bed.

Blair rolled her eyes and told Natalie to close the door.

"Evidently, Mrs. Garrett is home."

Right on cue, Tootie burst into the room and quickly shut the door behind her.

"Everybody hide, Mrs. G is here."

Natalie grabbed her friend's hand and opened the door.

"Oh, for God's sake, Tootie. Tally ho? That's your warning signal? Jeez. C'mon, let's go distract Mrs. G."

Pulling the protesting girl from the room, Natalie closed the door as they exited, leaving a chuckling Jo and Blair behind.

"You rest, Jo, and I'll go get your tomato juice."

"Thanks, Blair. I really mean it."

"No problem. I'll be right back."

Winking, Blair headed towards the door, and Jo lay back against the pillow and closed her eyes, a brilliant smile forming on her face. Forget the tomato juice. Blair had winked at her. Falling out of that tree had been the best thing that had ever happened to her.

The End

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