DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television. Beauty and the Beast and its characters are the property of Disney. No infringement intended.
BACKGROUND: This deviates from canon around the end of season eight, without Jo moving to LA. A few years have passed, but many events of season nine never happened. The girls are all still roommates, living in the house in Peekskill and nobody is married. There are a few references to previous episodes.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Huge thank you to my beta-reader, CouchCoach (find her on Ao3 and Fanfiction.net, she has a great story called Unexpected).
SPOTIFY PLAYLISTS: Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack: HERE Playlist of Songs mentioned in Chapters 3-5: HERE
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Beauty and the Barbarian
By Birograce


Chapter One: Movie with Bailey

It was a lovely morning. Blair Warner had woken up to sunshine and birds chirping outside the window. As usual, you could hear the faint sounds of activity as her housemates were up and starting their day.

The blonde had slept in a bit longer knowing she would need all her energy for the day ahead. She was spending today with her little sister Bailey. Her mother was due any moment to drop off the six-year-old. Blair fluffed her golden locks and smoothed down her sky blue dress in the mirror before heading downstairs.

As she descended, she was greeted by each member of her eclectic, adopted family.

The person Blair had come to adore most, came jogging up the stairs, obviously back from an early run.

"Morning, Princess." They did a little side-to-side dance trying to get out of each other's way. Finally, Jo took Blair by the shoulders and moved her to the left, before she brushed past. Blair smiled softly at the retreating form, feeling mildly flustered. That happened a lot lately. Jo had become more comfortable with physical proximity and Blair was enjoying it more than she cared to admit.

"Morning, Blair!" Natalie and Tootie shook her from her musings as they greeted her simultaneously. They bustled past the bottom of the stairs heading into the kitchen, gone before Blair could offer a response.

She spotted Beverly Ann and Andy next, as the frazzled caretaker and her charge scrambled out the door. "Good morning, Blair! Don't you look bright-eyed this morning!" observed the ever sociable, yet easily distracted woman.

Andy intervened, "We're headed out. We're already running a late." He directed an impatient look his mother's way. "Bye, Blair!"

As they departed, a large, beefy man sauntered up to the open door. Bensen Wolf; a thorn in Blair's side that seemed to follow her endlessly. He was the new head of security at the law firm where she worked and never failed to use that to his advantage. They had also gone to school together at Langley, where he had been very persistent in pursuing the blonde heiress. Despite his best efforts, she had zero interest in going out with him. Bensen, however, did not seem to understand the word no, or more accurately, refused to accept it.

"Good morning, Blair!" he boomed.

"Bensen, what are you doing here?" She was not at all thrilled about him showing up at her home and blocked him from entering.

"We both have the day off today, so it only makes sense we spend it together," came his forward reply. He invaded her personal space as he leaned against the doorframe with a grin.

"Sorry, I have other plans," Blair informed him.

"Come on, Blair, what could be better than spending the day with me?"

"I can think of several things. A root canal being one of them," she answered curtly. "I've told you numerous times, I'm not interested. Goodbye!" At this point she would have gladly slammed the door in his smug face, but a large beefy hand stubbornly held it open. He showed no sign of leaving and Blair was getting frustrated. The nerve of this guy!

"You're going to give in eventually," he told her brazenly. "You know we're the best looking beings to grace this town in ages. It just makes sense that we get together. Save us all the time and trouble and go out with me today. Everyone knows what a great pair we'll be."

Just then, a softball came flying from above and conked him on the head.

A voice boomed from the landing upstairs, "She said get lost, meathead!"

They both look up to see Jo glaring down.

"Bite me, Polniaczek!" he hissed, rubbing his head. He turned back to Blair, peeved. "Last chance, princess." She recoiled at his use of Jo's nickname for her, finding it repulsive coming from him. She shook her head and rolled her eyes, dismissively. He gave her a disgusted look, muttered, "Your loss, Warner." and finally gave up.

Blair shut the door behind him, relieved. Looking up at Jo, only mildly annoyed, she said, "I could have handled that myself."

"Yeah, but my way was more amusing." Jo laughed as she made her way down the stairs.

"What are you up to today, Jo?" Blair asked.

"I have a morning shift, but the rest of my day is open. Why?"

"I have Bailey today and she was asking if you would be around."

Bailey loved hanging out with Jo, and the feeling was mutual. When she was really little, Jo had been fascinated by the miniature version of Blair, but wasn't sure how to interact with the baby. As soon as she was walking, talking and running around, however, Jo and Bailey became best buddies. Many times when Bailey came to visit, Blair got a reprieve from the little girl's non-stop energy as Jo entertained her.

"Oh yeah! I'll be done by noon. I'll be happy to play with her when I'm back."

"Wonderful! She'll be delighted."

Blair followed Jo to the door and gave her a warm peck on the cheek before she left.

"See ya later, princess."

It was one of the most recent changes in how Jo and Blair interacted: innocent goodbye kisses. Beginning last Christmas, it easily passed as a friendly display of affection, but ultimately had an unspoken significance.

They were leaving to spend the holidays apart for the first time in years, with mixed emotions. As they hugged goodbye, Jo bestowed the initial peck on the cheek. From there, the kisses continued whenever they went separate ways.

A lot had changed about their relationship over the years. They now willingly admitted that they cared for one another, that they were in fact best friends as opposed to rivals. They had matured and so had their friendship. Jo had become a little more comfortable with displays of affection. Gone were the days she would recoil from an embrace. They bickered less. Fights still happened, often over the guys they each dated, but they weren't as nasty and they made up quicker. They had accepted each other as constants in their lives.

Just a few minutes after Jo left, Bailey and Monica arrived.

"Good morning, darling!" her mother greeted.

"Blair! I saw Aunty Jo on her motorcycle!" Bailey started excitedly.

"Did you? She's headed off to work, but she'll be back to play in a little while. She's excited to see you!"

"Well, look at the time! I have got to get going." Monica said. "Thank you for taking her today, dear." She turned to Bailey. "You'll be good for your sister won't you sweetheart? And for Aunty Jo?"

"Yes, I will. Guess what, Blair?"

Realizing that was the most she would be getting out of the little girl now that she had more appealing company, Monica took her leave. Blair smiled and waved bye.

"What?" Blair closed the door as Bailey entered and climbed onto the sofa.

"Beauty and the Beast is playing in the theatre!" The young girl began bouncing on the sofa excitedly. "Can we go see it? Pleeeaase!"

"Yes, I think that's possible, but only if you stop jumping on the furniture."

Bailey plopped down on her bum.

"That's Disney, right?" Blair asked and Bailey nodded enthusiastically. "Have you seen any other Disney movies?"

"Yeah! I seen Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and The Little Mermaid and… and…"

"Ah, you saw all of those?! I'm seeing a trend. You like the princess ones, huh?" Blair smiled at her sister's enthusiastic nod. "Me too."

And so began their day.

"… eight… nine… ten! Ready or not here I come!" Bailey yelled from downstairs as Blair and Jo rushed into the bedroom. They both headed for the closet.

"Hey, no way! This is where I'm hiding." Jo pushed in first and childishly stuck out her tongue.

Blair squeezed in next to her. It was a tight fit. "Nope. This is where I was headed all along."

"That's not how it works, Blair," Jo whispered. "Whoever gets to the hiding place first gets first dibs."

Even with a silly little kids game, the two couldn't help their natural tendency to be competitive with one another.

"Well, it's too late now." Blair murmured back. They were squished in so close their noses were almost touching. Blair felt her pulse quicken. Jo's proximity often made her feel a little fluttery and at the moment they were so very close.

"She always checks the bottom floor first. There's time." As Jo spoke, her breath tickled the blonde's cheek, causing Blair to shiver.

"I'm not... switching." Blair breathlessly stated. Jo's closeness still very much affecting her. At this point, she was fine with the brunette staying put and Bailey never finding them. She shifted her weight and their bodies grazed.

"Would you quit squirming? Why can't you ever stand still?" Jo's hands went to Blair's hips holding them still, but that only made Blair wiggle more. "Ouch! Blair, that's my foot!"

Blair heard footsteps enter the bedroom. She grabbed Jo's head and clamped her hand over her mouth. Jo rolled her eyes.

"Somebody's in the closet!" Bailey called triumphantly before she swung open the door. "Ah ha! Why are you both in here?" She looked at the two, all but hugging, in between all the clothes. "Were you kissing?" she asked suspiciously.

Blair climbed out blushing. "What? Of course not! We were arguing about both wanting to hide in the closet."

To distract the little girl, Jo came out with her arms wide making claws, growling. Bailey squealed and started to run around the room, familiar with the game. Jo chased her. "Mmh, little munchkin! Yum yum!" she growled. "I'm gonna getcha!"

Bailey continued to giggle and run around in circles in the bedroom until finally hiding behind her sister, using Blair as a human shield.

"Ah, the munchkin thinks the princess will protect her?" Jo proceeds to grab Blair around the waist and hoist her over her shoulder with surprising ease.

Blair, of course, shrieks, "Jo! No! Put me down you barbarian!"

"Yeah! Let her go beastie!" Bailey giggled and grabbed at Blair's feet.

"What? Put the princess down?" Jo clomped over to Blair's bed and started to plop her down, but tripped and landed on top of her instead. Blair couldn't help the whimper that escaped at the sudden all encompassing contact. She met Jo's eyes and throughout she recognized the panic and longing she felt mirrored back at her.

Bailey found it hilarious and jumped on Jo's back. "Oooph!" The slight weight kept them in place.

Unbeknownst to the little girl, Jo and Blair were entirely stunned and distracted by the sensation of their bodies firmly pressed together. They both blushed, their hearts raced and they both just lay there, slightly panicked.

Picking up on the shift in her playmates, Bailey leaned over Jo's shoulder, smooshed Jo's face between her hands and pushed it towards Blair. "Now the beastie kisses the princess!"

Both women were still flustered, but Jo made an impulsive decision, lowering her mouth to Blair's. It lasted about four seconds, but it could have been hours to Jo and Blair. The kiss was simple, sweet and momentous. When Jo pulled back, they just looked at each other in amazement, eyes growing wide.

The spell was soon broken, however, when their young charge leaped to her feet and started to jump on the bed. Released from the child's weight, Jo rolled off the bed until she stood upright, panic really starting to set in. Blair attempted to collect herself as her sister bounced.

"Bailey, why don't you go downstairs to find the newspaper, so we can check what time the movie plays?" the blonde suggested when she found her voice.

"Okay! Aunty Jo, will you come with us to see Beauty and the Beast?"

"Uh… yeah, sure kid." Jo answered in a daze.

"Yay!" The little girl jumped off the bed and ran downstairs.

You could hear a pin drop after she left.


"Um… sorry. Your sister… boy, she's pushy, huh?" Jo stuttered and tried to avoid eye contact.

"Don't do that."


"Brush this off. Whatever it is, Bailey had nothing to do with it."

"Look, um, we'll talk about it later, okay? After Bailey goes home?" Jo suggested, giving herself time to come up with an explanation.

"Okay." Blair agreed, but she got up and stood by Jo, resolutely. She reached over, her hand sliding up and around the brunette's neck tenderly. Then she leaned in and kissed Jo on the lips. This kiss was even shorter than the last, but far less hesitant and it thoroughly confirmed that neither were accidental. They parted and Blair walked out of the room leaving Jo, standing there, speechless once again.

"Hurry! Hurry!" Bailey pulled at both the hands she was holding. Jo and Blair tried to keep a handle on the eager child as she bounded down the aisle of the theatre. Bailey found a row she was satisfied with and pushed Blair in ahead of her. "I'm in the middle!"

Jo followed as they all sat in the centre. "Jeez, kid, you need to calm down a bit."

"I can't! It's my favourite." She bounced in her seat. The two women chuckled at her youthful excitement.

The previews ended and the melodic music of the movie began and Bailey watched with wide eyes.

"Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle…."

When Jo was Bailey's age she hadn't been one for princess stories. They had always seemed a little dumb to her. She preferred tales like Robin Hood. This movie wasn't so bad though. She sort of liked the bookish and independent beauty. So far, she had turned down the pompous, presumptuous meathead, she had rescued her father and she had held her own in a shouting match with a beast. She wasn't some shrinking violet like other fairy tale damsels. Belle was stubborn and independent.

As the two main characters on the screen began getting along, Jo strangely started to see aspects of Blair in Belle, and, more reluctantly, herself in the Beast. The turbulent and strained interactions that slowly gave away to understanding and admiration. Jo looked over at her best friend. There was an amused expression on her face as she watched Belle teach the Beast manners, gentleness and kindness.

Blair must have sensed her stare, because she looked over and met Jo's gaze. She smiled at her own gruff barbarian tenderly.

"There's something sweet

And almost kind

But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined

And now he's dear, and so unsure

I wonder why I didn't see it there before"

The slight parallels between the characters and themselves, hadn't escaped either of them.

"She glanced this way

I thought I saw

And when we touched she didn't shudder at my paw

No it can't be, I'll just ignore

But then she's never looked at me that way before"

The song struck a chord, and Jo looked back to the screen. She thought back to their kisses earlier that day. Her feelings for the blonde had evolved so much over the years. There had always been this magnetism between them. When they were younger it drew them into heated arguments. But as time passed, they became better friends than rivals. They still teased one another, but the jabs were more lighthearted. They continued to be drawn to each other, but now more for love and support, spending hours talking rather than arguing.

Lately, Jo had to come to the realization that this magnetism that still lingered was really attraction on her end. Not knowing how to deal with that, and assuming that Blair didn't feel the same, Jo had pushed the revelation aside.

She was starting to discover that perhaps her assumptions had been wrong. More than once, Jo had found Blair gazing her way with strong emotion that she couldn't quite decipher. Longing and curiosity, perhaps? Until today, she had convinced herself it was her own hopeful imagination.

"New and a bit alarming

Who'd have ever thought that this could be?

True that he's no Prince Charming

But there's something in him that I simply didn't see"

Blair continued to watch Jo, the movie having also triggered her to revisit the memory of their encounter earlier that day. She had been feeling so close to Jo over the past months. When Jo had kissed her it had felt so right, so shockingly perfect. She knew that Jo's instinct would be to run, thinking she had made a horrible mistake. In order to reassure and help Jo fight the impulse, Blair had kissed her again. Uncertainty now hung in the air between them, however, and the question of how they would move forward remained unanswered.

"…There may be something there that wasn't there before…"

Bailey sat between them, enthralled by the movie. She had a dreamy look on her face and she watched with her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands. She saw the similarities between the characters and her caregivers too. Her young mind just saw two people in love, not understanding any of the real life complications.

As Belle and the Beast danced, Jo ventured another glance at Blair. She was surprised to see tears in her eyes and a soft smile as she watched the scene. The sight pulled at Jo's heart and she had to fight to keep from shedding tears of her own.

"Tale as old as time

True as it can be

Barely even friends

Then somebody bends


Just a little change

Small to say the least

Both a little scared

Neither one prepared

Beauty and the Beast"

The scene of a wild mob of angry villagers storming the castle brought forth a slew of worries in Jo. If her and Blair acted on their feelings, they would either need to keep them secret or face a lot of scrutiny. How many people in their lives would cast them aside if they knew the truth? How many would be cruel? So many doubts ran through Jo's mind.

As Blair watched the Beast transform, she couldn't help peeking at the object of her emerging affection. Jo had also transformed from a crude and aggressive tomboy to a unique, intelligent and stunning young woman. At the moment, however, Jo sat watching the ending of the movie with her arms crossed and a subtle scowl on her face. Blair tried to contain her amusement. Such a contrast to the sweet little girl between them who swayed and bobbed to the music. Trust Jo to frown at a happy ending. She wondered what her friend was thinking about.

This was part of why Jo found these fairytales so problematic. From an early age, she recognized that 'happy endings' were rare and unrealistic. Believing in them wholeheartedly only set you up for disappointment. Life wasn't that easy. Magic wasn't real. Looking down at Bailey, however, she wished she had some of that confidence and optimism in love overcoming all.

As the credits rolled and the main song played again, Bailey beamed at Jo and Blair in turn. The little girl got up and took each of their hands in hers before joining them together. Proud of herself, Bailey started to dance around to the crooning of the Beauty and the Beast song.

The two women sat bewildered, holding hands. Bailey pulled at their free hands, trying to get them to join her dance. As the last few people exited the theatre, Blair gave in to Bailey's influence. She started to sway to the music and tugged at Jo's hand.

Jo looked around uncomfortable, worried about who would see. As she realized that the theatre was in fact completely empty, save for the three of them, she gave in. She pulled her princess toward her and wrapped her other arm around Blair's waist. Their foreheads pressed together as they slow-danced in the aisle. Bailey twirled around them.


Chapter Two: Mean Words and Private Confessions

The song finished and they reluctantly ended their dance still in a bit of a romantic haze. As they emerged from the theatre into the lobby, they followed a pleased Bailey who skipped along. Caught up in their own world, they forgot about their clasped hands.

Jo and Blair didn't notice the boisterous group of men by the concession. The brood was led by none other than Bensen Wolf. When Blair's admirer spotted the pair hand in hand, he ambushed them.

"Well, well… Now, I guess I know why you refused to go out with me." He approached them with an angry sneer.

Realizing their mistake, Jo and Blair quickly separated. At the sight of the large man Bailey hid behind Jo. Bensen blocked their exit.

"This explains a lot! I always figured Polniaczek was a fucking dyke, but you Blair?"

"Hey! Watch your mouth! There are kids here," Jo growled.

He turned on her. "Don't even talk to me, you filthy lesbo! What did you do to turn her, huh?" He looked at Blair and shook his head. "What a waste of tits!"

"Enough!" Jo thundered.

People around the lobby were giving them dirty looks, either for all the yelling or because they had heard what Bensen had called them. Those not scowling were still staring. Many, many eyes were on them.

Bailey didn't fully know what the mean man was talking about, but she knew he was picking on two people she cared about. She stomped out from behind Jo, right up to the large man and slammed her foot down on his. He flinched, probably more in surprise than in pain, but it stopped his verbal assault.

"Leave them alone you big meany! You're a BAD MAN like Gaston! You need to go to your ROOM!" the girl screamed with hands on her hips.

Now all the dirty looks were on Bensen, and he recognized as much. After being told off by a six-year-old, he at least had the decency to look mildly embarrassed. There were two tough looking theatre employees headed their way.

Not wanting to make any more of a scene, Jo swooped Bailey up and the three made their escape.

As they were leaving, they heard Bensen's nasty mutter. "Training them young. Disgusting." Apparently, he hadn't learned his lesson.

Once they were outside, Jo whispered to Bailey proudly, "Good girl! You showed him."

The ride home was a quiet one. Even Bailey felt the uneasiness and stayed silent. When they got home, no one knew what to do. Bailey looked between her sister and her friend curiously.

"Bailey, why don't you watch some television? I'll go and make you something to eat before mother arrives to get you." Blair motioned for Jo to join her in the kitchen.

When they were in the other room, they just stood there staring at their feet.

Finally, they made eye contact and Jo spoke. "I'm sorry our outing ended like that. Bensen's an ass."

Blair nodded. "Me too, and yes, he is. But, we are going to have to face the fact that he is an ass who will talk to people, and some of them will believe him."

"Who's gonna believe an idiot like that? Besides, he's got nothing to tell! All he saw was us holding hands."

"He'll spin it differently and people who know us might start to wonder. We've been very close lately. Even Bailey saw what was between us. She was sweet and encouraging, but others may not be," Blair illustrated. "Look, I'm not saying it's the end of the world or anything… or that we shouldn't…" She hesitated to define what was between them. "I'm just pointing out that we need to figure out what we want and how we're going to respond."

"Hell, Blair! How am I supposed to know?" Jo stressed, "This is brand new. We only just… kissed. How're we supposed to explain it to anyone else, if we don't have it figured it out yet ourselves?"

"I don't know. It's not fair," she sighed. "My mother will be here soon to get Bailey. Let me deal with that, then we can talk. Okay?"


Blair started for the fridge.

"Hey…" Jo stopped her for a moment, slipping an arm around Blair's waist. She looked in her eyes to gauge if this was acceptable, then leaned in to kiss her again, like she had wanted to do for hours. Blair's breath hitched as their lips met and pressed together nervously. Her fingers danced on Jo's neck just below her ear. It lasted longer than the first two and they both melted into it, craving more. They parted reluctantly, knowing the kitchen was a high traffic area and neither were ready to explain to their housemates.

"Just wanted a reminder of the good part of today," Jo admitted shyly.

After their last kiss, Jo said goodbye to Bailey and went upstairs to allow Blair to focus on her sister. She sat on her bed looking out the window. So much had happened in just a few hours. Her head was spinning. She had kissed Blair. Blair had kissed her back, multiple times.

What do they do now? Do they start dating? Should she woo Blair like one of her male suitors would? Jo had never wooed anyone before. She was generally the one being wooed.

Or were they past that stage? They had known each other for over a decade now, but any kind of affection had always come slowly to them. Would this be different, now that the type of affection had changed? Do they just continue on as they have been, gradually adding romance to the mix? Or do they jump in head first? What did Blair want? What did she herself want?

With her head swimming with so many unanswered questions, Jo didn't notice when Blair entered the room. Taking advantage of Jo's obliviousness, Blair crept over. When she got close she kneeled on the bed behind her and wrapped her arms around the brunette. Jo startled mildly then melted into her. They were finally alone.

"Guess what the first thing Bailey said to my mother was?" Blair spoke.

"'I showed Gaston who's boss'?" Jo replied laughing.

"Nope. It was 'Blair and Aunty Jo are gonna live happily ever after like Beauty and the Beast!'" Blair said amused, her lips grazing Jo's ear.

Jo, however, turned and gave her a panicked look, alarmed that Bailey had just outed them to Blair's mother.

"Don't worry, mother just brushed it off. 'Of course they will, dear. How lovely!'" Blair did an excellent imitation of her mother. "She won't take anything Bailey says that seriously. She's always dreaming up stories," she reassured.

Blair cuddled up closer to Jo, pressing her body against Jo's back and nuzzling her neck, enjoying this new intimacy between them. She started to place light kisses behind Jo's ear and along her throat and shoulder. Her hands smoothing down Jo's arms. The brunette couldn't help the moan that escaped.

All the questions Jo had been stressing over moments ago, temporarily faded away. They both shifted to face each other, with Blair practically in Jo's lap. She flipped her blonde hair and looked down at Jo, her eyes hooded with desire. They pressed together and their lips danced with each other. It was all so mesmerizing. After all these years they were so familiar with one another, yet they had never touched like this before; they had never been this close before.

They made out for a few minutes, testing the new waters. Jo's hands began to explore and Blair felt a palm smooth over the curve of her hip. In their effort to get closer, Blair's legs hugged Jo's, causing her dress to creep up well past her knees. Jo's movements were eager, but her fingers hesitated at the hem. When they grazed the bare skin on her outer thigh, Blair's breath hitched and she realized they need to take a break.

"Wait," she managed to get out reluctantly. She gently pulled away. Jo whimpered in protest.

Now able to gather her thoughts, Blair explained, "We should really talk before we go any further." She took a deep breath, taking a moment to further clear her head. She looked around their shared bedroom.

It had changed a lot over the years. The room they had once shared with Natalie and Tootie was only shared between the two of them as the younger two had long ago moved into the renovated attic. Two twin beds were eventually replaced by two double beds and a room dividing screen was brought in to give the adult women a bit more privacy. Blair realized that if things progressed between them, many more changes may be on the horizon.

Blair looked at Jo who had lain back on her bed to take deep calming breaths.

"Can we talk now?" she questioned hesitantly. Jo nodded and sat up again. "I'm not sure where to start."

"Tell me bout it!" Jo chuckled. "You know, I had all these questions racing around in my head before you came up here. I can't remember a single one now."

"I guess, the big question is what this all means. What are we now? Where do we go from here?" Blair asked shyly, the questions tumbling forward.

"I dunno. This is new," Jo supplied lamely. "We love each other, right? I mean, that's something we already know. The romantic, intimate part is new, but we've loved each other as friends for years." It showed great growth that Jo could now readily say those words and share her mushy feelings.

Blair nodded her agreement. "But there's an attraction now. How long have you felt it?"

Jo looked away embarrassed for some reason. "It's hard to say… We've always had this fire between us, haven't we?"

"How long have you thought about kissing me?"

"Why do I feel like I'm being interrogated here? What about you? Don't put this all on me," Jo replied defensively.

"Okay… The very first time I ever thought about kissing you… was in college."


"…when you camped out in my dorm room," Blair added.

Jo smiled, surprised. "Really? You were so mad at me about that."

"I was at first, but after a certain point, I was covering," Blair admitted. "We were in this totally new environment and you were all around me, in my room and I got confused. I brushed it off after you moved in here, but the idea would pop up unexpectedly at times… Your turn."

"I don't know exactly…" Jo paused in thought before a particular memory surfaced. "It wasn't the first time, but remember that big fight we had with your whole Helen of Troy thing?" Blair rolled her eyes and and nodded. Jo tried to contain her amusement while also looking a little guilty. "Well…the thought might have come to me a few times during that…uh…ordeal."

Blair whacked her playfully, but Jo leaned forward and kissed her again. Now that she knew she could, she couldn't stop. They were both distracted from their conversation for a moment.

"Oh, wait!" Jo remembered. "Christmas!" Blair looked at her confused. "The Christmas you came back to be with Mrs. Garret and me. That was earlier, right? I thought about kissing you then. I thought for sure you would notice too, cause I couldn't stop looking at your mouth even with Mrs. Garrett right there."

"Have you ever imagined doing more?" Blair asked cautiously. "Actually, I'm realizing I don't really know how far you've actually gone with anyone. You've always been so private and secretive about things like that."

They were both blushing at this point, Jo especially. She stalled by drawing Blair close and laying back together on the bed. It wasn't meant to start anything, just so they could try to relax and get as comfortable as possible for an awkward conversation.

"I've had sex." Jo admitted. It wasn't altogether shocking. They were both twenty-seven and Jo had had a few serious relationships over the years. "I slept with Sam. He was my first."

Blair involuntarily winced. She'd been weary of that relationship. A professor dating a student, even one of age, didn't sit well with her. But up until his kid became involved she had kept any judgement to herself.

"There hasn't been anyone since," Jo continued. "I considered it a few times, but I wasn't really that interested."

"Never anything with another woman?" Blair asked anxiously.

"No," Jo answered simply. "You?"

"Done anything with a woman? No."

Jo looked at her patiently, waiting for her to accept that that wasn't all she was asking. She softly drew figure eights on Blair's back with the hand that had been resting there, hoping to coax her into sharing.

Blair hesitantly continued, "No to all of it. I haven't gone all the way with anybody. I thought about it with Cliff, but the timing never felt right."

"Are you waiting for marriage?" It was a complicated question when same-sex relationships were in the picture. How do you wait for marriage when that may never be an option?

"No. Just waiting for the right person and the right moment for me." Blair said truthfully. "I've thought about just going for it, even before we ever met actually. I haven't been a saint. I've done other things with guys…"

"What about with me?" Jo asked still blushing.

Blair purposely misinterpreted in jest. "I haven't secretly done anything salacious with you, no."

"Good to know." Jo smiled, but reiterated her question if somewhat insecurely. "I mean… how do you feel about us? Is it something you might want to do with me?"

Blair didn't answer right away, but instead brought her hands up to gently frame Jo's face, and gazed at her tenderly. "I know I want to do more than just kiss you," she finally admitted.

Jo breath caught in her throat, "… and what about the fact that I'm a woman? Doesn't that bother you at all?"

"No. Should it? Does it bother you?"

"No. People have suspected it about me before and I resented it a bit. Not because I thought there was anything wrong with it, only because I felt stereotyped and judged. It made me question myself, because if several people assumed it then maybe I was missing something. And then, you came along and I slowly started to actually feel that way. I didn't want to admit it, because that would have meant they were right."

"Do you think this means we're gay?" Blair said the word they had both been dancing around. It had a heavy weight to it.

"I don't know, but I think it means we're not entirely straight. I read once that it's a spectrum. That nobody is one hundred percent one or the other or not many people are. It can be about the individual people, rather than gender."

"That makes sense," Blair said thoughtfully. "But I think I might be more gay than straight," she admitted. Jo couldn't help the perplexed look that crossed her face. "I've had the occasional lustful thought about other women before you. I feel more comfortable with women, more myself. Now that might be the influence of an all girls school, but with men I always feel like I'm playing a part or wearing a mask. A part I play very, very well, mind you, and one I generally have enjoyed playing, but always a show. The serious relationships were real and honest, but all the serial dating and flirting… You may have noticed I've slowed down. Part of that is work, part of that is… you, but I also just haven't wanted to play the part as much anymore."

There was a pause. A comfortable moment of silence between them as they contemplated their conversation to this point. They lay together with little space between them. Jo's fingers continued to dance slow figure eights on Blair's back and Blair's hands lightly played with Jo's hair.

"So, in summary," Jo provided, "we love and are attracted to each other; I've had sex, you have not, but would very much like to do more than just kiss me;" she wiggled her eyebrows, "and we're both probably, at least a little bit, gay and cool with it." she recapped humorously. "Good talk."

"We still need to decide how much or how little to tell people." Blair brought up the tricky part. "The family we live with, the family we don't, people at work… and publicly."

"Maybe we just play it by ear? I mean, we really don't know what we are yet, and really, it's nobody's business."

"True, but I think… to have some freedom to be ourselves in our own home, we'll need to tell the ones we live with something, in the near future. Hopefully, they will all accept us and no problems will arise," she said solemnly, hoping this wouldn't separate them from people they loved.

"Yeah, I guess…" Jo agreed with Blair's logic, but the idea was still daunting.

They cuddled and shared a few little kisses. All the excitement of the day caught up with them and they both fell into a deep comfortable sleep.


Chapter Three: Preparation and Anticipation

Author's Note: If you would like a visual representation of the 'date night' outfits that Jo and Blair picked out, I have shared the outfit boards I made for my own visualization. I imagine it's not for everyone, but they have more details than I described in the story and are a fun little added element I created. Here are the links: Jo - https://i.ibb.co/9bC5CrP/B-B-Jo-2.jpg Blair - https://i.ibb.co/mGvF7ZB/B-B-Blair-2.jpg

Song mentioned: https://open.spotify.com/track/5WwqdeavrQrbeAMDxGawse?si=VdSdOJAKQOGd_IoiYaNEhw

Jo woke up with a lovely blonde snuggled up to her. Their positions hadn't changed much since they had drifted off last night. Jo lay on her back slightly angled toward Blair. The blonde had scooted down a bit during the night, her head now pillowed on Jo's breast, her arms curled up around her neck. Throughout the night, Jo's hand had made its way from the small of Blair's back to rest prominently on the curve of her bum. She was in no hurry to remove it. She was also in no rush to wake the sleeping beauty.

It was almost 10am and Jo and Blair were still asleep. Not a peep had been heard from their bedroom all morning, so Natalie was sent to wake them.

"Wakey, wakey! I know it's the weekend, but you guys never sleep in this late," she called as she entered the older girls' bedroom.

The first thing she noticed was Blair's untouched, empty bed.

"Jo, have you…" As she turned to Jo's side of the room, her voice failed in shock. Right there, in Jo's bed lay both women. That in itself wouldn't have been so startling, but the way the two were intertwined certainly was. The location of Jo's hand was quite notable, before it quickly slid up to more innocent territory, but not fast enough.

Blair was still dead to the world, but Natalie met eyes with a fully conscious Jo. Realizing they were caught and there wasn't much she could do about it, Jo simply raised a finger to her mouth to communicate her wish not to wake her bedmate. Still blown away, Natalie nodded and retreated.

Once in the hall outside the door, Natalie's brain caught up with what she had witnessed, and she shook her head in amused wonderment.

"I knew it!" she said out loud to herself.

An idea had started to form in Jo's mind for the day. She wanted to take Blair out on a proper date. While the blonde continued to doze, she mapped out the elements she wanted for their first romantic evening.

Not long after Natalie's intrusion, Blair began to stir. Deep in thought, Jo had resumed the delicate tracing of figure eights on her back. Blair stretched and began placing kisses along Jo's neck.

"Hey," Jo breathed.

"Mmm, hi," Blair purred. Jo was almost ready to forgo her whole game plan just to lay around all day, cuddled and making out with the blonde.

"You've already missed a key development this morning."

"What could possibly have happened before we've even gotten out of bed?" Blair replied skeptically. She stretched again as she sat up with her back to Jo.

"Natalie entered unannounced." Blair's back stiffened. Jo rose and placed her palm between Blair's shoulder blades in a calming gesture. "She looked pretty stunned. I don't know how much she assumed, but I'd bet Tootie has already heard about it."

Blair released the breath she'd been involuntarily holding."I expected to have a little more time before we'd have to explain ourselves."

"Let's just take it one step at a time."

As they got ready for the day, Jo gradually worked up the courage to pose her invitation.

They decided it would be best to emerge for breakfast separately and, as usual, Jo was ready first. Before heading downstairs, she paused and nervously faced Blair.

"Hey… would you go to dinner with me tonight?" The words came out a bit rushed and not nearly as suave as she had hoped.

Blair beamed. "Oh, Jo! I'd love to!"

"Don't dress too fancy… and bring a sweater. Leave around six?" Jo suggested shyly.

Blair came close and kissed Jo on the cheek sweetly. "Can't wait." she whispered enticingly.

They were having a lazy Sunday morning, gathered around the breakfast table. Beverly Ann was puzzled at the unusual awkward silence that filled the room as she puttered around. Andy was off with friends already, Jo was staring intently at her cereal and both Natalie and Tootie were pretending to peruse sections of the newspaper while sneaking glances at their older friend every other minute.

The quiet was interrupted when Blair finally made an appearance. She was positively glowing as she sauntered in.

"Good morning, everyone! What a lovely day! Isn't it a lovely day, Beverly Ann?" Her cheery greeting was just slightly hampered by the mildly weary look she cast toward the other three women. Jo gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head into her cereal. Obviously, the subject of this morning's surprise interruption had not been broached. Tootie shot Natalie a look only they understood.

Natalie reluctantly spoke, "So… How was your day with Bailey yesterday?"

Relieved to have a safe subject to discuss, Blair replied, "Wonderful, as always. She has so much energy. Luckily, Jo was there to help keep her entertained. Between the two of them though, I was so exhausted by the end of the day."

"I bet," Natalie muttered humorously under her breath.

Having heard her, Jo choked on the last bite of her cereal and blushed profusely. She began clearing her bowl, making a clumsy retreat.

Jo mumbled a quick, "Gotta go," and abruptly left the kitchen.

Blair wasn't thrilled at being left alone with the Snoop Sisters.

Tootie's curiosity got the better of her. "So, what are you up to today, Blair? Got a hot date this evening?"

Blair unexpectedly blushed. "Uh… no, not tonight. I think I'll be meeting a friend for dinner though," she answered vaguely.

"Anyone we know?" Tootie asked innocently.

"No, no," Blair lied self-consciously. "Wow, is that the time? I better get going if I want to do some shopping today. Ta-ta!" Blair departed almost as quickly as Jo.

Jo felt a little guilty about leaving Blair alone with their meddlesome housemates, but if she was going to find what she wanted for their date tonight, it had to be done.

Her first stop was the local music store. She doubted she would find what she was looking for at an indie shop, so she went to the only chain music store near Peekskill. She wasn't even entirely sure that what she was looking for even existed. When she asked the teenage store clerk for assistance he gave her an incredulous look.

"It's a gift," she griped at the judgmental dweeb.

When he retrieved the exact item she wanted, she couldn't hide her glee.

"This is perfect!" The teen snorted and she glared. "Just ring it through, will ya?"

Jo made three more stops without any hassle and returned home with enough time to spare. She wanted to finish getting ready herself before Blair began.

After packing a few things in her duffle bag, including the items she had purchased today, and making a couple calls, she went about picking an outfit.

Jo rarely considered what Blair thought about her clothes before and she knew she didn't need to impress her now, either. Blair knew who Jo was. All the same, Jo wanted to look good, attractive.

She picked out the usuals: her favourite black jeans and the leather motorcycle jacket her father had recently gifted her. The brunette debated what top to pair with them. She figured, if she added her usual t-shirt, the outfit would be too casual.

Then she remembered the top Blair had given her last Christmas. Jo had received it almost a year ago and had only worn it once or twice. Not that she didn't like it, but it was really nice, probably expensive, and she hadn't wanted to ruin it. She dug into the back of their closet and pulled out the camisole.

It was very pretty and much more delicate than the shirts Jo usually wore. The colour was very close to her eyes, an olive green, and it was an interesting velvety material. She wondered if the style would fit with the rest of the outfit she had chosen.

As she tried it on, she remembered another reason she rarely wore the top. The plain white bra she was currently wearing stuck out like a sore thumb.

It dawned on her that she perhaps should think about the underwear she would wear too. Jo wasn't going to assume that the night would end with Blair seeing her undergarments, but she should consider the possibility and be prepared. She was really just hoping for a repeat of last night: some talking, cuddling and maybe, if she's lucky, some heavy making out.

What Jo initially thought would be a simple task was growing into a conundrum. As she started to stress, she went to her underwear drawer. What had she worn with this top before? Had she gone braless?

Jo sighed in frustration as she dug through the drawer to find the only decent matching set she knew she had. When she found the simple black lace bra and panty set, she looked at it hesitantly. These she had owned for several years, but had yet to wear them once. She had bought them on a whim after Blair had talked her ear off about how one should have proper matching undergarments.

She quickly switched bras and tried the camisole on again. Miraculously it worked. You could see a little bit of the black lace at the top edge, but Jo decided it kind of looked good that way.

She put on the rest of the outfit and took a look in the mirror. Not too bad. Not bad at all actually. The delicate velvet camisole was a nice contrast to the tough leather and denim and softened her look a bit. It gave her almost a sultry vibe. Jo never really thought of herself as sexy. She figured she was decent looking, pretty even, if she put a bit of effort in; looking at herself now, she might actually be hot.

As she assessed her reflection she remembered another gift from last Christmas that might add a nice touch to the ensemble. Natalie had given her a simple onyx necklace with a thin leather cord. Jo didn't wear jewelry often either, but she had worn this many times. It meant a lot to her that Natalie had found it for her taking her style into consideration. It was simple and went well with almost everything she owned.

She added the piece of jewelry and slipped on her Doc Marten style ankle boots, before scribbling a quick note with further instructions for Blair.

At first, when Blair returned from her shopping trip, it looked as though Jo had still not been home. Upon further inspection however, Blair could see the tell tale signs of Jo's earlier presence. On Jo side of the room there was a discarded shirt, their closet was partially open and, Blair noticed suspiciously, there were items sticking out of Jo's underwear drawer. She then also spotted a note on her own pillow.


Pack an overnight bag. Nothing has to happen, I just want us to have privacy.

Hope it's okay if we take your car. Leave the key by the phone? Meet me outside at 6.

Love, J


Here she thought they would be going out for a simple dinner. Jo had plans. Overnight plans. The thought both thrilled and worried her. She had so much more to prepare than she had initially considered.

Pulling a suitcase out from under her bed, Blair sprung into action. Knowing that Jo might be peeved if she presented multiple pieces of luggage, Blair tried to keep her packing lighter than she ever had before. She had to keep telling herself that it was just Jo, who had seen her in every state of dishevelment on multiple occasions. She didn't need to pack scads of makeup or dozens outfit choices.

Once packed, she had two hours remaining to get ready. Blair laid out her new ensemble. She had bought a lovely, sea foam green, floral dress, a chocolate brown cardigan with a tie waist, and some caramel brown, ankle boots with a chunky wood heel. It was a stylish and flattering outfit that accentuated all her best assets while still being casual and understated.

As she often did, she bought a matching combination of undergarments too; a dainty, sea foam, lace set. Thinking back to Jo's note, Blair wondered if she would be revealing them tonight.

"Nothing has to happen, I just want us to have privacy." She remembered the message.

It implied that Jo was ready for something to happen, but thoughtfully wasn't expecting it to be a sure thing. Blair was certainly looking forward to the privacy, especially with what happened this morning. But, was she ready to be fully intimate with Jo?

She trusted Jo implicitly. There was absolutely no worry of being pressured. Jo would follow her lead and listen to her cues and concerns. That was a huge benefit of dating your best friend, she supposed. This new aspect of their relationship was so fresh. Blair's only real apprehension was if this was moving too quickly. On the other hand, they already knew each other so well. It was as if they had been courting for years.

Perhaps listening to the radio while getting ready would help calm her nerves. When she turned on the stereo REO Speedwagon was playing and Blair recognized the song immediately.

"I can't fight this feeling any longer

And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow

What started out as friendship has grown stronger

I only wish I had the strength to let it show


I tell myself that I can't hold out forever

I said there is no reason for my fear

'Cause I feel so secure when we're together

You give my life direction, you make everything so clear"

If there was ever a sign, this was it. Blair sat listening and staring off into space. Music sure was bringing things into focus for them these past couple days.

"And even as I wander, I'm keeping you in sight

You're a candle in the window on a cold dark winter's night

And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might


And I can't fight this feeling anymore

I've forgotten what I started fighting for

It's time to bring this ship into the shore

And throw away the oars, forever


'Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore

I've forgotten what I started fighting for

And if I have to crawl upon the floor

Come crashing through your door

Baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore"


Chapter Four: Date Night

Spotify Playlists:

Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack: https://open.spotify.com/album/3O5p9VNddbwvqWTdYKEqV5?si=ripTAKHVRD6v0YlImkgdAw

Playlist of Songs mentioned in Chapters 3-5: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2xeEPXQCmFfhnlR2Yt7lry?si=p0b_0kNkRN22-GS08k1adA

At six o'clock, Jo was outside by Blair's Porsche, fully expecting the blonde to be a while longer. Jo had already prepped and loaded her supplies for the night into the trunk, and she now patiently waited, ready.

To her pleasant surprise, Blair showed at just five after. Jo heard her date before she saw her. Rushed footsteps could be heard scuttling down the staircase inside. Blair came out apologizing.

"Sorry! Sorry, Jo! I truly intended to be perfectly on time!" She was distractedly juggling a single suitcase, her purse and coat as she closed the door.

Jo smiled and took a brief moment to admire the flustered blonde. She would have waited hours for the sight. Blair was wearing a dress that delicately floated over her curves and was so deliciously feminine. Her golden hair was perfectly done, as always, with the exception of one rebellious strand that clung to the gloss on her lips. Jo couldn't blame it, they looked particularly tempting and she imagined they tasted like strawberry. Feeling a blush creep up, Jo hung her head before she was caught gawking.

When Blair finally looked up, she was caught off guard. Jo looked incredible. She looked so suave and nonchalant as she leaned against the passenger door. The anxiety of her preparation was washed away and Blair stilled.

The object of Blair's admiration, smiled and sprung into action. She reached for Blair's suitcase and stowed it in the trunk. With Blair still in a slight daze, Jo returned and shyly unveiled a single, full red rose.

"No magical curses attached to this one," Jo joked, referencing the ill-fated flower from yesterday's movie with Bailey.

Blair finally broke from her trance and beamed. It was already plainly obvious Jo had put a lot of thought into the details of their evening and was taking the lead. She had already put many of Blair's previous dates to shame in just the first few minutes. The rose was such a perfectly simple romantic reference to the movie yesterday. It also hadn't escaped Blair's notice that Jo was wearing the top she had gifted her and it looked breathtaking. Her eyes were drawn to the tantalizing low cut v of the camisole. Paired with Jo's signature leather jacket that always made Blair's temperature rise just a touch, the entire outfit was delectable.

As Blair accepted the rose and appreciated its scent, Jo gallantly opened the passenger side door.

"Alright if I drive?"

"Of course," Blair agreed. "Where are we off to?" she asked as they started on their way.

"Ah, well, I didn't wanna go too crazy with dinner, so I made us a reservation at The Grove."

Jo received a smile and nod of approval.

The Grove was one of few restaurants that they both agreed on and enjoyed. It was a moderately priced cosy little restaurant, just outside downtown Peekskill, that catered to a variety of tastes. Several secluded, candle-lit booths made it an ideal spot for romantic dates. Mostly frequented by long-time locals, it was one of the town's well kept secrets.

As Jo drove, Blair decided to turn on the radio. Foreigner's Waiting for a Girl Like You played.

"…It feels so right, so warm and true, I need to know if you feel it too…"

Blair felt so content in that moment. She glanced from the rose sitting on the dash to her companion. Not for the first time over the years, Blair admired how comfortable Jo looked behind the wheel. The anticipation of the evening ahead was electrifying.

"…I've been waiting for a girl like you, to come into my life…"

The song brought a faint smile to Jo's face. She chanced a quick peek over to the passenger seat. Their gaze met for a moment and they both felt a

surge of desire.

"… There's no where on earth that I'd rather be, Than holding you, tenderly…"

Dinner was pleasant. It wasn't dissimilar to other times they had dined together at The Grove, with the exception of the veiled yearning rising between them. As secluded as their booth may have been, they were still in a public place and didn't feel free to show affection, which was so damn frustrating. Trying their best to ignore the underlying tension, they fell into their usual friendly dining routine.

There was an unspoken pattern of behavior when they ate together. Instinctively they knew if an item needed to be passed. They would try each other's meal without a word. Blair pilfered Jo's unwanted pickle. It was the choreographed result of years of meals between close friends.

When the check came, however, instead of splitting it like they usually did, Jo quickly snagged it.

"Jo, what are you doing? We'll split it like always," Blair protested.

"Nah, I got it. I asked you out, so I'll pay for everything tonight."

"I hope you know that I don't expect you to play the 'man'," she maintained, adding finger quotes. "You're doing all these gentlemanly things and it's very charming, but also not necessary. I want us to be equal."

"I know, Blair, but I invited you out and planned everything, so I got it covered. Next time, you do the same." Jo gave a shrug and her common half smile. "Besides, I kinda like taking the lead. And it's not about being a guy," she ended defiantly.

Blair conceded and Jo placed several bills with the check. As they left the restaurant, Jo unconsciously guided Blair with a light hand at the small of her back.

It was nearing dusk when they were back in the car and Blair's curiosity once again got the better of her.

"Where to, now?"

"You'll see." Jo outwardly displayed a calm confidence, but her nerves were building inside. Dinner had been relatively easy, not much new to them. Now came the more significant shift to romance and Jo just hoped that Blair would enjoy what she had prepared.

Not for the first time, Jo reflected on how they had gotten here.

There had always been a fire between them, since the beginning. Something that neither of them understood back then, it drove them into heated disputes. Truthfully, they still didn't fully understand it. The differences that had initially spurred rivalries had now become endearing. For over a decade, their relationship had gradually shifted. They had become more and more comfortable with that fire and were slowly lured by it, until now they had become so close, so entwined that they would be broken and lost without the other.

They were still their own people, of course, but a life without one another would somehow be incomplete. That much had become obvious when opportunities to live separately arose and neither could bring themselves to leave. It had taken that long for them to admit their close friendship and concede that they needed each other nearby.

To now accept that it had always been even more, was overwhelming, and somewhat terrifying. Were they risking it all by giving in to these physical desires? It felt so much like this was meant to be, but if they were wrong… Could it totally tear them apart?

By the time they reached the outskirts of Peekskill and began ascending to Sky View Ridge, Jo's anxiety was starting to reveal itself, as her fingers drummed and fidgeted on the steering wheel. Picking up on her date's apprehension and feeling nervous herself, Blair tried to lighten the mood.

"Why, Jo, are you taking me to Makeout Mountain?" she probed flirtatiously. "On the first date?"

It helped. Jo released a tense chuckle.

"Well, not exactly. I know a slightly different spot that I prefer and isn't as popular."

"And with whom did you discover this special spot?" Blair teased.

"No one. All these years of taking my motorcycle out introduced me to a lot of hidden areas around town."

"You'll have to introduce them to me too, then."

Jo wiggled her eyebrows playfully. "I was planning to."

She pulled onto a small unpaved road, practically obscured from view and only several yards long. At the end, the trees and greenery parted for a small ledge that jutted out.

"Wait here," Jo instructed.

Blair sat patiently as the brunette gathered some things from the trunk and took them beyond sight of the car. She waited in suspense until Jo returned a few minutes later empty handed. She opened Blair's door, inviting her to follow. Jo was caught off guard momentarily when Blair grabbed her arm to help keep balance on the rocky path.

As they rounded some bushes, a romantic arrangement came into view. Jo had blankets and small cushions set up, along with a little stereo and a bottle of wine with glasses.

"Jo!" Blair exclaimed in awe.

Just beyond the ledge, the view was spectacular. The sun had just dipped beyond the horizon and left a pink golden glow over the fields and scattered houses below. Way in the distance, you could see downtown Peekskill.

A weak whimper escaped Blair as she struggled to contain the emotions welling up inside. Blair's silence began to worry Jo, and when she noticed tears gathering in the blonde's eyes, she backtracked.

"Hey… is, is it too much?" she asked, her anxiety increasing tenfold. "We can go back?… Just let me grab this stuff."

"Don't you dare!" Blair insisted quickly. "Just give me a minute. I wasn't expecting anything like this. It's… it's…"


Blair laughed, "Good? It's so far beyond good!" She turned to bury her face in Jo's shoulder suddenly and the brunette almost lost her balance before hugging her close.

"Yeah?" Jo looked hopeful. "Should we sit?"

Without parting completely, they clumsily sat down together.

"Oh!" Jo remembered as she spotted the stereo. "I almost forgot." She reached over and pressed the play button. Jo's earlier hunt had triumphantly produced a soundtrack tape from yesterday's movie. Already cued up, the main song from Beauty and the Beast began to play.

"Tale as old as time

True as it can be

Barely even friends

Then somebody bends


Blair's face lit up more and she swooped in to kiss Jo. They fell back deepening the kiss as the music surrounded them.

"Just a little change

Small to say the least

Both a little scared

Neither one prepared

Beauty and the Beast…"

Blair pulled back minutely to look into loving green eyes. "Where did you get this?" she asked as she peppered kisses across Jo's face. "Who knew you could be so romantic?"

The brunette just brushed it off and said, "I couldn't stop thinking about us that whole movie, and Bailey liked it so much too, so I thought it would be nice to have the music. Besides, it wasn't hard to find."

Blair's kisses were becoming more intimate as they moved to Jo's neck and around her ear. Instinctively, Jo's hands roamed over the blonde's body, grazing the sides of her breasts then down around her waist to pull them deeper together. As their lips met again and their bodies pressed together firmly, they became frenzied as the passion between them surged. Jo grew delightedly lightheaded with the blonde over her. Blair slid her leg across and settled her hips down, straddling Jo's. It grew even more heated as Blair started to grind her pelvis against Jo's. Lips parted for a moment and Jo squeezed her eyes shut to will herself not to pass out from sudden over-stimulation.

"You okay?" Blair questioned, peppering kisses over Jo's face and neck again.

"Yeah…" Jo answered breathlessly. "Let's slow down a bit. That was a lot at once. You got me really keyed up."

Blair's lips slowed, her body stilled and rested against her partner's side, but her fingertips drew lazy circles along Jo's chest, teasing the edge of the camisole.

"Isn't that the idea?" Blair replied coyly.

"I wasn't planning for us to go at it up here." Realizing that the song had ended, Jo distracted herself by clumsily switching to the radio.

"No?" Blair questioned a little disappointed.

"Your first time shouldn't be up on Makeout Mountain like some horny teenager," she explained.

"Right now, that doesn't seem bad at all."

"We can do better." Jo looked away and hesitantly added, "Besides, I got us a room."

"A room?" Blair grinned. "I see. You were planning to seduce me."

Jo sat up and reached for the wine, not really wanting to drink it, but needed something else to occupy her hands. God, she was nervous. More nervous than she had been her first time with Sam. She had felt almost outside of her body then though. He took the lead and she almost felt like a pleasant observer. Now, she very much felt inside her body and overwhelmed with sensation.

"You make it sound… I figured we could hold each other, like last night, 'cause that was nice… but without being interrupted… and maybe… only if it felt right… " Jo couldn't seem to articulate properly. Where had her confidence gone? She sounded like a moony adolescent.

On the radio the previous song ended, the DJ quickly rattled off something about love songs, then the first bars of 'Let's Get It On' rang out. Jo blushed at the coincidentally suggestive tune, quickly reaching to switch stations, but was stopped by her date.

Blair was reengaged. She draped herself over Jo from behind and began singing along with the music, softly next to Jo's ear. "…Let's get it on… ooh babe… Let's get it on…"

Jo chuckled a little at the corniness, but at the same time a shiver ran through her. Another thrill shot down low as Blair snaked an arm down her chest, into her top and over her breast, dragging her nails lightly across her sensitive skin. She whispered seductively in Jo's ear, "It looks like it's going to rain."

Jo trembled, "Does it?" She was finding it difficult to focus.

Blair smirked and nibbled at the brunette's ear. "Does it matter?"

"…giving yourself to me can never be wrong, If the love is true, oh baby…"

Jo closed her eyes as Blair continued lightly raking her nails back and forth. "Nn… no," she gasped.

"Let's get it on…" Jo's senses were on overload as the chorus to the song echoed in her ears once more.

"I think we should take our picnic indoors before we get wet," Blair husked.

Jo swallowed thickly, she was already wet… and rain had nothing to do with it. "Let's get outta here!" she decided.

They both eagerly gathered everything and rushed back to the car.


Chapter Five: Overnight and Every Night

Spotify Playlists:

Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack: https://open.spotify.com/album/3O5p9VNddbwvqWTdYKEqV5?si=ripTAKHVRD6v0YlImkgdAw

Playlist of Songs mentioned in Chapters 3-5: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2xeEPXQCmFfhnlR2Yt7lry?si=p0b_0kNkRN22-GS08k1adA

Jo probably broke some speed limits on their way to the Fireside Inn. They made it there in record time and zipped through check in. Despite their speedy arrival, by the time they entered their room the mood had shifted again; arousal had mostly waned and nerves resurfaced.

They stood there, awkwardly, for a moment, before Jo dropped their bags on one of the chairs. Avoiding eye contact, they both discarded their coats too. It suddenly hit them that they were alone together in a hotel room. The implications and expectations made the air feel thick. Why did it seem so scandalous?

Jo worked up the courage to break the silence.

"Look, let's… um, just take it slow. We have all night, right? … and we can always come back another night… or not. If we aren't ready or… sure, about… tonight," she finished lamely. Despite every indication that Blair was very interested in being together this way, Jo knew this was a big deal and was adamant about not behaving like one of the many guys that always assumed and expected a date to lead to sex.

Blair nodded and moved to the stereo, fiddling with the nobs. Music had been working well to reassure her over the last two days, so why not try it again? Paul Anka crooned an old love song.

"Put your head on my shoulder

Hold me in your arms, baby

Squeeze me oh-so-tight

Show me that you love me too"

Trying her best to present confidence, Blair swayed back over to Jo.

"Put your lips next next to mine, dear

Won't you kiss me once, baby?

Just a kiss goodnight, maybe

You and I will fall in love (you and I will fall in love)…"

She draped her arms around Jo's neck once again, this time guiding her to move along with her in a slow dance. The sweet 50's love song relieved some of the awkwardness and made it all seem less tawdry. Jo followed her lead and wrapped her arms around Blair's waist in return, placing a kiss on her shoulder.

Warm brown eyes met green ones and they softly smiled together. They kissed gently as the song continued. Their mouths slowly and delicately danced together, trading nose kisses and little nips here and there. The frantic need from earlier had transformed into slow languid caresses. Blair's arms curled around Jo's head and tenderly swept hair from her brow. Jo smoothed her lips along Blair's baby soft skin, inhaling the subtle scent of her soap and perfume. They continued like this for a while, embracing, nuzzling and petting, until Blair met Jo's eyes again with confident desire.

The previous song ended and 'Unchained Melody' began.

"Oh, my love, my darling, I've hungered for your touch…"

In that moment, it was plainly obvious to both of them; they were going to do this. They were going to make love tonight.

Blair made the bold move of lifting Jo's top up and over her head. She fingered the edge of the black lace bra she found underneath.

"This is nice," she complimented softly.

Blair's dress made it impossible to equally mirror the action, but a series of many little buttons ran down the entire front of the garment. Jo peppered little kisses over Blair's collarbone as she worked to undo some of them. When she had them open to the waist, Jo slid her hand around Blair's waist inside the dress. They continued to swing to the song.

"…I've hungered, hungered, for your touch

A long, lonely time

Time goes by by so slowly

And time can do so much

Are you still mine?

… I need your love…. I need your love…"

Their fingertips danced and explored around each other's midsections, back to front, ebbing and flowing, trading slow kisses throughout. Eventually, songs changed and they were too engrossed in each other to recognize it.

Gradually, they crossed the room and found themselves next to the bed. Jo had already kicked off her boots, so Blair perched gracefully on the edge of the bed and raised each of her booted feet for Jo to shed. Jo chuckled at the sassy move and pulled a little more roughly than needed. Blair countered as she suddenly tugged on Jo's belt loops and hooked her heels around Jo's hips, effectively throwing her off balance, and winding her slightly, as she tumbled onto the blonde.

"Oooph! Jeez, Blair." Her attacker just giggled and flipped them, raking her manicured nails along the lace cups of Jo's bra and down her abdomen. The brunette's breath hitched and her hand inched up under Blair's dress, feeling the the soft skin of her thighs and sneaking up to tease the edge of delicate panties.

Needing just a few seconds to catch her breath, Blair extracted herself from their tangle of limbs and stood. For the briefest moment, Jo thought she had gone too far, but quickly realized otherwise. As Jo propped herself up on her elbows, Blair eased her dress off her shoulders seductively and let it slip down her body, pooling at her feet.

Blair was confident in her body; she always had been. Many men had praised her beauty over the years, but the look of utter adoration Jo gave her right now, meant more than all of them combined. It surged her ahead with zero doubts.

She crawled over Jo, her knees bracketing the brunette's denim clad hips. Jo could feel the warmth coming off the blonde's body that matched her own.

The music changed again and "Hungry Eyes" appropriately began to play.

Jo just lay there in awe before her hands came up to stroke the delicate green lace that covered Blair's full bust, fingers trembling slightly.

"…One look at you and I can't disguise… I've got hungry eyes… I feel the magic between you and I…"

Blair started to slowly rock her hips. Tousled hair fell in golden ribbons around her face. Jo traced the outline of her curves as she moved. Blair's eyes were closed in ecstasy as she rubbed against the rough fabric of Jo's jeans. She moaned, then leaned down to find her partner's mouth again.

Jo let her hands follow the lace from Blair's hips down to her centre. She gingerly brushed her thumbs over the covered folds before applying pressure. Blair gasped and her pelvis jerked and leaned into the sensations. Blair's hands gripped Jo's shoulders tightly making little crescent shapes with her nails. Jo felt the heat of her own arousal increasing.

Blair's breath came out in waves that matched the rhythm of her body. It wasn't long before it hitched suddenly and Jo felt her tremble as she reached a crescendo. As she came down from the high, her movements slowed then stopped.

When Blair curled around her, Jo tenderly cradled the blonde in her arms a while.

"Hey? You good?" Jo checked.

She felt rather than heard the blonde snicker. "I'm wonderful," she replied languidly, before shivering.

"Let's get under the covers." Jo shifted their bodies up the bed together. One hand held her partner tightly to her while the other tugged and turned down the covers, struggling mildly. Once underneath, she snuggled in enjoying the slight weight of Blair's body draped over her own. Blair let out a content sigh, curling herself around the brunette.

"Did you?… I mean it seemed like…" Jo wasn't really sure how to delicately ask the question.

"I saw stars," Blair alluded dreamily. "Just give me a minute to come back down to earth."

"Don't worry. Rest. We have all night and I'm not going anywhere."

Jo was a little astounded by how quickly and easily Blair had peaked. The brunette didn't have many sexual experiences, but the few she'd had, had not resulted in orgasm. And, when you shared a room for years, there weren't many opportunities to… explore yourself, either. The few instances when she had the privacy, time and desire to test things out, it had required patience. The vision of Blair in the throws, however, had excited her more than she had expected.

Totally at peace, Jo savoured the calm of the moment. She lazily traced the line of Blair's delicate, feminine shoulder with the tip of her finger and Blair started to stir. Her hand wandered across Jo's body, stopping over the fly on her jeans. Leaving the button for now, Blair lowered the zipper and slipped her hand inside. She shyly faced Jo to see her reaction. When her fingers made contact with the thin lace underneath and stroked a few times, Jo's eyes fluttered closed.

Blair placed a few feather light kisses just under the brunette's jaw.

"You have too many clothes on," she whispered teasingly and made her way down Jo's body.

"Mmm…" was her only response. Blair slid the pants down her hips gradually and nibbled her way back up.

"Are these your usual underthings or did you wear them for me?" Blair flirted. "I was under the impression you still preferred more practical undies." She teased the edges of the lingerie delicately.

"Hm… I do, but someone convinced me I should have a matching pair. I figured tonight might be a good opportunity to put them to use."

"I've taught you well… but they have to go now." Blair walked her fingers up Jo's side until she reached her bra band, before sliding behind to undo the clasp. Meanwhile, she kissed and nipped up Jo's abdomen to her sternum. She placed a lingering kiss between Jo's breasts before they were released from their support. Jo moaned as Blair cupped the mounds in each palm, then teased around her nipples with her fingertips.

Jo could feel herself dampening. Blair was once again straddling Jo, now with only two very thin layers of fabric between them. Jo sat up a bit, shifting their weight and reached behind the blonde to unclasp her bra as well. She struggled a bit, her hands shaking with adrenaline, but the hooks released and Jo slowly guided the lace down Blair's arms.

They joined as their lips met again, embracing. As they met skin to skin for the first time a shiver passed through both of them like electricity. Between kisses their eyes connected; affection, excitement and devotion reflected within them. This was it. More than ten years of bickering, tension, trials and friendship have brought them to this very moment. It had taken time and growth for them to discover what they truly meant to each other and what they ultimately wanted from one another. Where, yesterday, there were questions and hesitation, tonight found clarity and eager anticipation.

In this moment they stilled, wanting to savour the connection. They stayed paused to gather their emotions and ground each other. Foreheads rested together and bare chests pressed close, deep breaths synced.

The weight of full hearts had quelled the passion temporarily. The music that had escaped their consciousness for a while now, came back into focus. As if the universe was conspiring to bring them together, well timed music had spelled out their feelings throughout the night.

"Close your eyes, give me your hand, darling

Do you feel my heart beating

Do you understand?

Do you feel the same

Am I only dreaming

Is this burning an eternal flame…"

The gravity of this new stage of their relationship, forever shifted, struck both of them.

"Jo… I love you." It was timid, but sure. Tears welled up in Jo's eyes. She cursed how easily they often surfaced, no matter how much she fought them.

"Crap, now I'm freakin' crying…" Blair smiled at her response and waited for the brunette to gather herself. "… you have no idea how much I'm in love with you." Jo said reverently.

"… I don't want to lose this feeling, oh…"

As tears broke free, Blair lovingly kissed them away and smoothed Jo's hair back tenderly. Jo grasped her thighs, pulling her in, trying to get as close as humanly possible to this woman she had come to adore.

Blair sighed, content. She was so glad she had waited. This was perfect and she felt so incredibly lucky.

Feeling the heat of their centres so close, they ached for each other again. As Jo fingered the sides of Blair's delicate panties, Blair reluctantly withdrew to allow for their removal. She leaned back and lifted her hips for her lover to inch the fabric down her legs. The scent of their shared arousal hung in the air around them faintly. Blair went to remove Jo's final piece of clothing as well. Two sets of eyes shyly skimmed over newly exposed areas.

"Now what?" Blair asked self-consciously. They had far surpassed any encounter she'd had previously. She sought out instruction from her slightly more experienced partner.

"What do you want?" Jo offered. Blair had been so confident moments ago, she was surprised by this sudden shyness. Her faith in her own ability wasn't much better, but their instincts had served them well so far. "Come here." she whispered softly.

They embraced for the first time without a single scrap of fabric between them. Jo cocooned them within the bed covers, their limbs entwined. She experimentally reached between them, her fingers sliding through light curls until she reached soft, sleek folds. Blair whimpered faintly and matched the action. Jo made gentle movements, bringing forth short moans and mews from her partner, Blair mimicked the motions in return. Even through her own increasing stimulation she watched and learned Jo's reactions and adjusted her ministrations accordingly. Jo's attentions faltered a bit as the waves of her own arousal consumed her. When Blair slid a finger inside wet folds, hitting a particularly sensitive spot, it sent the brunette over the edge. She buried her face in the crook of Blair's neck as her orgasm shook through her.

When the ripples subsided, Jo looked stunned.

"Was that alright?" Blair ventured. Jo just nodded. "Is something wrong?" she questioned, thrown by Jo's bewildered reaction. But Jo shook her head.

"It… um, just came faster than I expected," Jo finally explained.

"Oh… should I have tried to prolong it?" Blair questioned.

"No, no, it was great! Perfect." Jo realized Blair's insecurity and attempted to explain, "I can't usually… it's usually a lot more difficult… for me… to reach…" she said stumbling over her own embarrassment, but Blair seemed to understand.

She decided to show Blair her appreciation by peppering kisses down her chest. She nipped and kissed her way to one of Blair's rosy nipples. Her tongue came out and circled it experimentally before blowing on it gently. It puckered and hardened. Jo looked up at Blair to see her reaction and found eyes hooded with arousal. Blair's little mews and sighs reemerged and she squirmed subtly, clenching and releasing Jo's hair. Encouraged, Jo continued her attention, suckling and soothing the hard nub, then moved on to its mate. Once satisfied she had given each their share of attention, she ventured lower, the tip of her tongue dipping into Blair's navel along the way. Blair shivered and her hands grasped the sheets.

When Jo reached the patch of sandy blonde curls, she glanced back up at her lover. With her arms curled around Blair's trim thighs and her mouth poised above her core, Jo checked in with her paramour.

"Is this okay? Can I?"

"Yesss… pleeeease." Blair whimpered.

Responding to her plea, Jo descended on Blair's lower lips. She traced her opening and around swollen bundle of nerves. She softly teased the folds and drew in the tender bud, working the blonde into a frenzy. Blair's moans got louder and her wriggling increased. Every noise Blair made sent thrills down to Jo's own still pulsing core.

"Oh!…. mmm… more…inside?" Blair implored.

Without hesitation, Jo brought a finger to her entrance and eased it in very slowly. Knowing Blair might need a moment to adjust, she lapped at her swollen bundle of nerves. Gradually, she began to glide her digit in and out, in time with the movements of her mouth. Blair's hips started to roll with Jo's soft thrusts. Much like earlier, Blair's whimpers and breaths hitched and Jo felt tremors flow through her lover.

As the ripples died down, Jo removed her finger, but continued to place warm kisses over the bud and folds of Blair's sex.

"Ohh… wow!" Blair eventually vocalized, breathless and content. "Jo?"

"Uh huh…" Jo crawled back up, curling into Blair's waiting arms.

"That was… miraculous. Better than I could have even dreamed." she enthused, still dazed.

"Yeah?" Jo wondered. "It looked amazing… you're gorgeous."

They snuggled close and dolled out lazy kisses all over each other's faces, necks and shoulders. Soon they both easily fell into a peacefully sleep, satiated.

In the wee hours of the morning, Jo was roused by the hazy recognition of gentle touches across her body accompanied by delightful movement and friction down south. Her newly appointed lover had awoken and was moving and wiggling her body enticingly along Jo's. They were a mess of tangled limbs and damp skin but their cores had come together. Jo found Blair's hands and entwined their fingers as Blair raised her upper body to angle their hips better. Their joint hands anchored them as they rubbed and rocked against each other. Jo was in awe as her release came again in time with Blair's.

When her brain caught up, Jo revelled in the new knowledge that all her body had needed was the right touch from the right person or perhaps even just the right inspiration. She swiftly flipped their positions, then came down to meet Blair in a searing kiss, their hands still clasped and arms outstretched.

Jo enthusiastically showered the blonde with many more kisses as she spoke, "Hi… I want to wake up… like this… every morning."

Blair giggled merrily. "We're going to need locks for our bedroom… or maybe it's time we moved out?"

"Blair Warner, are you asking me to move in with you?" Jo grinned. "I know… you just want uninterrupted time with your love slave," she teased.

"Maybe…" Blair smiled. "Can you blame me?"

"Absolutely… not."

"But for real, it's something we may want to consider… " Her body hummed beneath Jo's worship. "… later."

They dozed in and out between bouts of love making until the sun came out.

Several hours later, they arrived back home in excellent spirits. Without thinking, they entered the house together, smiling at each other. Tootie and Natalie were each about to head out, but were waylaid by the return of their friends, who had been mysteriously absent since last night.

"And where have you two been all night?" Tootie asked with attitude.

Both looked a bit like deer caught in headlights, but Blair quickly covered, "Oh, uh, we needed to let off some steam, so went out partying… a bit of a club crawl," she lied. "We just had breakfast and we're terribly exhausted."

Jo just nodded along with the story, despite how far fetched and unlike them it sounded.

Their friends looked at them suspiciously, not buying it. "Nuh uh, you don't look like you've been out all night," Tootie accused. She narrowed her eyes at the two. "You both seem different though."

Natalie's investigative eye seemed to grasp something and she gasped, "Oh. My. God! You guys had sex!" She looked back and forth between them. "With each other!"

Jo had turned beet red and Blair feigned indignation.

"Haven't they done that already?" Tootie asked, confused but strangely unsurprised. "You said you found them 'intimately' in bed together yesterday morning."

With her head bowed, Jo angrily muttered something that sounded vaguely like "blabber mouth."

"Yeah, but they were fully clothed! It was cute." Natalie gasped again, pointing. "Jo has a hickey on her chest!"

"What?! I do not!" Jo pulled her jacket tightly around her and turned away in frustrated embarrassment, unprepared to be outed so soon.

Blair sighed in concession, "We might as well tell them." She took the surly brunette's hand and faced their friends. "As you seem to have deduced

somehow, Jo's and my relationship has… evolved. We're an item now."

"And where have you been all night?" Natalie pried, now gleefully curious.

"On a date, okay? That's all you're getting," Jo answered defensively, before pulling Blair along up the stairs.

"Hey!" Tootie called, pausing their ascent. She smiled at the pair. "Congratulations."

Natalie also beamed at them. "Yeah, congrats! Glad you guys finally figured it out."

Blair glowed proudly, slipping a hand around Jo's neck to place a peck on her cheek. Still blushing, but also relieved, Jo responded by placing a quick peck of her own on Blair's lips.

"Woah, woah, we better get going, Tootie, before they start making out in the living room," Natalie joked, as the friends took their leave.

"And knock from now on!" Jo called after them accusingly.

Once up in their bedroom, Blair joyfully flung herself into Jo's arms, almost bowling her over.

"Hey, woah there, princess," said Jo surprised.

"Isn't that wonderful?"

"What? That Nat and Tootie know about us? I could've gone a little while longer without that."

"No, their reaction to finding out! Two of the most important people in our lives accept us and are truly happy for us," Blair explained and repeated, "Isn't that wonderful?"

Jo smiled and nodded in understanding, "Yeah, it is pretty great."

"I know there will be others who won't react as positively, but their support straight away makes me optimistic." She cradled Jo's face in her hands. "I'm so deliriously happy right now, Jo!"

"Me too, princess. Me too."

Tale as old as time

Song as old as rhyme

Beauty and the Beast

The End

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