DISCLAIMER: I don't own The Facts of Life or any of the characters represented in the show. They're owned by someone else who isn't me. No copyright infringement is implied/meant/deliberate in any way, shape or form, and no money is changing hands/no profit is being made, etc.
SEQUEL/SERIES: Submitted for the Christmas Challenge. However, the premise for this plot was started in my earlier Halloween fic You Take the Good, You Take the Bad and continued in the Thanksgiving-themed fic Who Watches The Watch Man?.
CHALLENGE RESPONSE: Submitted for the Passion & Perfection Xmas Challenge 2005
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A (Black and) Blue Christmas
By Del Robertson


"Blair, be careful!" Mrs. Garrett warned. "Don't you dare fall!"

She was sitting in the living room, stringing popcorn to hang on the tree. Natalie was supposed to be helping her, but she had eaten more popcorn than she had managed to get onto the string. Tootie was sitting on the floor between them, wrapping presents to take home to her parents come the end of the week.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Garrett," Blair waved off her concern, "Everything's under control."

Blair was climbing a three-step ladder in the entranceway leading between the dining room and the kitchen. She had a hammer and greenery in one hand. The other hand carried a box of nails. Placing a well-manicured hand on the doorframe, she went up another step. Gingerly gripping the handle of the stepladder, she stretched for the top of the door. Fingertips barely grazed the doorframe.

"Oh, where is Jo when you need her?" Blair murmured.

"You know, she hasn't been around much since about a week before Thanksgiving," observed Tootie.

"Maybe she's got a job," suggested Natalie, popping another bite of popcorn into her mouth.

Tootie reached over, snatched a piece of popcorn out of Natalie's bowl. "Yeah, at the radio station, Nat. Duh!" She threw the kernel at Natalie, hitting her in the nose with it.

"No, Tootie! I meant, maybe she's got another job." At the Yeah, Right look from Tootie, she elaborated. "I mean, Jo doesn't have a lot of money. So, maybe she's working an odd job to pick up extra cash for our Christmas presents."

"Jo's busy with school - and the radio station - and helping out around here," interrupted Blair, "She doesn't have time for another job."

"Oh, I know!" Tootie's eyes got big. She rubbed her hands together, the way she always did when she knew something juicy. "Jo's got a boyfriend!"

"Hah!" Blair laughed, flipped her perfectly styled hair back over her shoulder. "Jo does not have a boyfriend!" Does she? Tootie's right; She hasn't been around much at all. She's not here when I go to bed at night - and she's already gone when I wake up in the mornings. Why, if it wasn't for her dirty laundry in the hamper, I might not even know she'd ever been home!

Frowning, she put one hand out to brace herself against the swinging door and climbed up another step. Carefully, she perched on the top step, attempting to support her weight by pressing her knees against the stepladder's handle. Gingerly, she pulled a nail from the box. Placing the box in her skirt pocket, she balanced the hammer. She held the nail against the wall, lined up the hammer with the head - and barely tapped it. A little ping sound rang out as she hit it again.

"For goodness sakes, Blair, we'll all be old and grey before you get that nail in there!" Natalie shoved her string of popcorn to the side, standing up. She stepped over Tootie and her wrapping paper, coming to stand beside Blair. "You've got to really hit it. I know, pretend it's Muffy and she's just beaten you to the last cashmere sweater on sale at Bloomington's."

"Why, that Muffy -" Blair pulled her hammer back, lining it up with the nail. " - I'll show her!"

Blair flung her arm back, ready to really give that nail a good whack. Just as she brought the hammer forward, the swinging door was pushed from the other side. The door hit Blair solidly in the forearm, the momentum sending her backwards, toppling her ladder, causing her to fall, her backside landing on the hardwood floor with a loud THUD!

Blair lay on the hardwood floor, hand reflexively clutching her lower back. Eyes screwed tightly shut, she attempted to block out the pain. Around her, she heard her friends' voices, asking if she was alright.

"I - I don't know," Blair answered, still not opening her eyes. "Give me a second."

"Let us help you up, Blair," she placed the disembodied voice with Tootie, somewhere near her left elbow.

"We shouldn't move her, girls." Blair heard Mrs. Garrett near her ear. "Take your time, Blair. No one's rushing you."

Taking a deep breath, Blair slowly blinked her eyes open. She found a set of vivid blue eyes staring back at her. "Jo?" she managed.

"I'm so sorry, Blair." She felt Jo's hands on her; one at her shoulder, the other at her waist. "I didn't know you were on the other side of the door."

Blair's eyes narrowed to tiny slits. "I should have guessed you were behind this."

"I am sorry, Blair. Are you okay?"

"I think so." Blair's first instinct was to give the other girl hell for being so careless. But, one look at the concerned face and she lost her resolve. "I just want to go to bed."

"I'll take you." Mrs. Garrett and the others stood back as Jo knelt on the floor beside Blair, placing her hands beneath Blair's shoulders and legs. Carefully, Jo lifted, picking Blair up off the floor. Blair instinctively wrapped her arms about Jo's neck. Jo looked at Blair for several long seconds before Mrs. Garrett nudged her. "You all set?" she asked.

Blair nodded. Jo began the climb up the stairs. "What were you doin' on the ladder, anyway, Princess?"

"Hanging the greenery."

Jo cocked her head in the direction of the doorway. There, hanging on a crooked nail above the doorway, at an odd angle, was a little sprig of mistletoe. A big smile spread over Jo's lips. "Oh, Princess; you don't need mistletoe to get kisses."

"I know, Jo. They're lined up around the block." At least that's what I keep telling everyone. Truth is, I haven't dated since the Halloween dance. "I bought the mistletoe for you. I figure you need all the help you can get."

Normally, Jo would have made a sharp retort. But, looking down into Blair's eyes as she carried her up the stairs and into the bedroom, she couldn't make the words come. She could feel Blair's arm wrapped about her neck, her fingernails tickling at the flesh beneath her ponytail. Wonder what she'd do if I kissed her now. Blair subtly shifted in her arms. Jo bit her bottom lip as she felt Blair's breasts pressed firmly against her.

As she lay Blair down on the comforter on her bed, she placed a chaste kiss on the blonde's forehead. "I'm gonna help Mrs. G get those cold compresses ready. You hang loose till I get back, okay?"

"Kay," mumbled Blair, settling down into her bed, her eyes feeling suddenly heavy.

"Oh!" Blair closed her eyes at the sharp pain she felt as she sat down at the table. Exhaling loudly, she gingerly lowered herself the rest of the way into her chair.

"Are you okay, Blair?" Mrs. Garrett looked up from the stack of envelopes she was addressing. Her wire-rimmed glasses slid halfway down her nose as she focused on the Warner heiress.

"I'm – " Blair reached for a stack of the Christmas cards, grimaced in pain. " – fine, Mrs. Garrett. Just a little sore."

"Oh, you poor dear!" Mrs. Garrett bit her bottom lip pensively. "Maybe I should cancel my trip and stay here."

Blair looked up sharply. "No!" At the shocked look from Mrs. Garrett, she quickly amended her sentence. "I mean, you've already made plans to visit your sister for Christmas. You can't cancel on her now. Besides, I'll be leaving for home come the end of the week, anyway."

"That's nice, dear." Mrs. Garrett gathered up the last of her cards, picked her suitcase up from the floor beside the table. "Well, I'm off, then!" She leaned down, kissing Blair firmly on the cheek. "But, you call me if you need me." She frowned, glancing around the house. "Oh, dear. The other girls aren't here."

Blair got up from the table, biting back her instinctive moan as she did so. The last thing she wanted was for Mrs. Garrett to decide she was going to cancel her trip. She walked the elderly woman to the door. Mrs. Garrett paused by the closet, retrieving her coat. She sat her suitcase down by the door, placed her Christmas cards on the telephone stand. Blair helped her as she struggled to put on her full-length winter coat.

"Natalie and Tootie called earlier. They're still at the library. And, who knows about Jo. I swear that girl can't stand to be in one place for more than twenty seconds at a time." She could just see the wheels working in Mrs. Garrett's head, probably contemplating how far back she could push her departure. "The weatherman is calling for a freeze this afternoon. If you go now, you'll miss the snow and ice," Blair broke through her reverie.

"Well, then, I need to stay." Mrs. Garrett began struggling, trying to get out of her coat. "Natalie and Tootie will be cold by the time they walk home. Someone should have hot soup waiting for them."

"I'll take care of it." Blair slipped Mrs. Garrett's coat back up her arms.

"And, Jo." Mrs. Garrett's eyes grew wide. She began taking her coat off again. "She's out there on her bike."

"Don't worry." Blair pushed the coat on again. "I'll call Natalie and Tootie at the library and tell them to get home before the weather turns bad." Before Mrs. Garrett could slip the coat off again, she moved around the woman, shooing her hands out of the way, doing up the buttons. "And, I'll call Jo and tell her to be careful." She began nudging the older woman towards the door.

"Maybe I should call her." Mrs. Garrett turned around in the doorway, attempting to get past Blair.

"I'll tell her." Blair pushed Mrs. Garrett out the door, picked up her suitcase, handed it to her all in one move. "Go. Have fun. Don't worry about anything." She picked Mrs. Garrett's car keys up off the telephone stand, thrust them into her hand. Before Mrs. Garrett could protest, Blair had hugged and kissed her, and shut the door in her face.

"Hey!" Jo shouted as she came through the front door. "I'm home!"

She shook the snow off her leather jacket, hung it in the closet. Removing her gloves, she shoved them in both pockets of her jacket. She breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the toasty warm air in the house blow over her cold cheeks. As she briskly rubbed her hands together, Blair came in from the kitchen.

Hands covering her mouth and nose, breathing warm breath into them, she stared at Blair. The Warner heiress was wearing a green turtleneck, an embroidered Christmas-themed vest over the top. Long, blonde hair fell luxuriously over both shoulders. A pair of black slacks and green heels completed the outfit. She held a mug of hot cocoa in her hand, delicately sipping from the cup. "Jo, you're back!"

"Hey, Princess." She caught the slight wince that appeared with each step she took. "You still sore?"

A subtle nod. "And, that's not the worst of it." She placed her mug on the end table near the sofa, moved closer to where Jo still stood beside the hall closet. Jo watched as Blair hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her trousers. Turning around, she pushed down the fabric of her pants. "Just look at that!"

Jo felt her chest tighten, her eyes go wide. Blair was standing there, no more than two feet in front of her, her pants pushed down, leaning forward a slight bit, bum thrust up in the air. A tiny red g-string worked its way up her crack. One of Blair's milky white globes was bruised, a large black and blue area covering the otherwise flawless flesh. "What do you think?" asked Blair, peering at Jo over her shoulder.

"Huh?" Jo expelled the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. "Oh – it's horrible."

"I know," agreed Blair. "And, there's a knot." She saw Jo's eyes dilate as she stared at her buttocks. "Here, feel."

She reached back suddenly, firmly gripping Jo's hand. She placed Jo's cold fingers to her warm flesh, pressing her digits to her right buttock. Jo's fingers rested where Blair had placed them. "Well, move them, silly! You can't feel the knot that way." She turned back around, bent over farther, offering her bottom for Jo's inspection. She gave a little shiver as Jo's cold fingers moved over her hot flesh. The touch was feather-light, tentative at first. Then, her touch became firmer, more familiar. She felt Jo's other hand move to her left buttock.

"See?" she asked, smiling back over her shoulder. "You can definitely feel the difference between the two."

Blair's voice shook Jo out of her trance. Quickly, she removed both hands, turning away from Blair. "Ah, I don't think there'll be any permanent scarring, Warner."

"Well, I should hope not! It would be a crime to mar something so flawless!" Blair stood there, seemingly in no hurry to pull her trousers up. She turned around, flashing the front of her g-string before covering herself.

Feeling suddenly awkward, Jo thrust both hands into her pockets. She yanked out her keys, tossing them onto the telephone stand. "What's this?" she asked, picking up a stack of envelopes.

"Mrs. Garrett's letters!" Blair cringed. "I was in a hurry to get her out the door to her sister's. She must have left them." She brushed past Jo, moving towards the closet. "The mailman's already come. I'll have to drive them to the post office."

"No big deal," Jo shrugged. "It can wait till tomorrow."

"No, Jo. Today's the last day to post the cards so they'll arrive by Christmas. Everyone knows that."

"Everyone who reads Emily Post's Etiquette Books, maybe."

Blair shot Jo a disparaging look. "I'll just take them myself." She slipped on her coat, buttoning it. Wrapping her scarf around her neck, she grabbed her purse and car keys from the telephone stand. "There's hot soup on the stove. Save some for Nat and Toot. I'll be back soon."

Jo was in the kitchen, adding seasoning to the large soup pot on the stove. A dozen soup cans in assorted flavors lined the counter, metal lids pried off. A soup-stained towel was tossed haphazardly on the marble countertop. Carefully, Jo brought a wooden spoon of soup out of the pot. Blowing on it, she gingerly tasted. Grimacing, she put the spoon back in the pot, reached for more seasoning. Poor Blair; I know the girl tries, but she just doesn't belong anywhere near a kitchen!

Hearing the front door slam, Jo assumed it was Natalie and Tootie back from the library. Wiping her hands, she went into the front room to tell them soup was on. She was shocked to see Blair. She was carrying her car keys and envelopes in one hand. She clutched her purse in the other. Her cheeks were ruddy and her blonde hair was wind-tossed.

"You forget something?" Jo asked.

"No, my car won't start. It just hasn't run right ever since I took it to Dawson's Garage after it broke down last month. And, Daddy's mechanic extended his honeymoon through the holidays." She tossed the envelopes onto the table. "Mrs. Garrett will be so disappointed when she realizes we couldn't get her cards mailed in time."

"I'll take them," offered Jo, moving past Blair to the closet. As she slid by Blair, she inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of her perfume. She smiled. Elegant and stylish, the scent was classic Blair.

"You can't." Jo paused with her arms halfway in her jacket sleeves, frowning at Blair. "I mean, it's nice of you to offer, but Mrs. Garrett didn't want you out on your bike in the bad weather."

"It's hardly even snowing." Jo dismissed Blair's concern with a wave of her hand. "I'll be back before the weather turns too nasty."

"I promised Mrs. Garrett." Blair bit her bottom lip, pensively. Jo waited expectantly. Finally, with a deep sigh, Blair relented. "On one condition; I go with you."

"That way we can both die a mangled death. Good idea, Warner."

"That's it, Polniachek. Either I go with you, or neither of us goes."

Jo folded her arms across her chest, staring Blair in the eye. Neither moved. Neither blinked. Jo glanced towards the telephone table where her keys were. Blair's gaze followed hers. Jo made a grab for the keys. Blair was a split second quicker. She held them triumphantly in her grasp.

"Okay, you can go." Jo acquiesced. "Just let me go get the spare helmet."

"I'll go," volunteered Blair. She started to leave the keys with Jo, but then thought better of it. Keys firmly clutched in her fist, she raced up the stairs to the bedroom.

Jo waited by the front door for Blair. While she waited, she fingered the box that was firmly tucked inside the interior pocket of her leather jacket. She thought back to how disappointed Blair was when she realized that the Rolex she was going to buy at half-price wasn't legit. It had surprised her when Blair confided that Daddy had restricted Blair's spending habits. She was even more surprised to learn that Blair couldn't afford the watch if it wasn't on sale. Jo had worked out a deal with the store manager behind Blair's back. She agreed to work at his store everyday after she got out of class until the Christmas season was over. In exchange, he sold her the watch at cost.

After a month and a half, she'd saved enough to pay for the watch. She couldn't wait to see the expression on Blair's face when she gave it to her. I was hoping to do it while Natalie and Tootie weren't here. No reason to embarrass Blair in front of them by letting them in on her little secret. Maybe when we get back from the post office.

She'd never seen Blair so eager to go anywhere. Well, except maybe an after-Thanksgiving sale. But, she'd never imagined Blair being so eager to ride on her motorcycle. Once she'd gotten over her initial fear, she'd ridden everywhere with Jo while her car was in the shop. Obviously, she enjoyed it if she remembered Jo kept the extra helmet beneath her bed.

"Blair, what's taking you so - " Jo's words died in her throat. A sinking sensation settled in the pit of her stomach. "Oh - no." The words came out as a breathless whisper.

Jo raced to the staircase, bounding up the stairs three at a time. She raced to the end of the hall to their bedroom. She slid around the corner, hand bracing herself on the doorframe. She rushed into the room -

- And then froze. Blair was standing by her bed, the motorcycle helmet laying on the mattress. Her mouth was open, a shocked expression on her face. In her hand, she held a piece of black cloth. As Jo approached, Blair's mouth slammed shut, lips tightened. Eyes narrowed to tiny slits as she glared at Jo.

"Blair," Jo approached with both hands up, in what she hoped was a non-threatening gesture, "I can explain."

"You can explain?" Blair wadded up the Halloween mask, threw it in Jo's face. "Okay, fine! Explain to me what that's doing here!"

"It's- "

"It's yours, isn't it?" Blair didn't wait for an answer. "You were my mystery date at the Halloween Dance, weren't you?"

Jo nodded. "Blair - "

"You kissed me!" Blair's hand stole to her lips as images of that night flashed into her mind. Jo dancing with her, holding her tightly in her arms, Jo's lips tenderly caressing hers. Just one kiss, but it had left her dreaming, yearning for another kiss for over a month. "What the Hell were you thinking?"

"I was thinking that you were hurt and I didn't want everyone making fun of you when Chad showed up with someone else."

"You knew?" The words were spat out with vehemence.

"I heard you on the phone with him. When I realized you weren't going to have a date, I got Rick to cover my shift and I - " Jo shrugged, letting her sentence trail off.

"You what; kissed me? Made a fool of me? Took advantage of me?"

"I never intended to do any of those things, Blair." Jo stepped forward, placing both hands on Blair's shoulders. She reached out, cupping Blair beneath the chin, forcing her to meet her gaze. "I only wanted to protect you. I only wanted to show you how I feel about you." She leaned in, capturing Blair's lips in a kiss. It started out tender, then became firmer. When she encountered no resistance, she increased the pressure. Gently, she pulled back, ending the kiss. Her gaze locked with Blair's. "I know you want me, too, Blair. I can see it, I can feel it every time you look at me."

Blair took a step back, eyes still locked with Jo's. She stared into the vivid blue orbs, lost in Jo's gaze. Fingertips tenderly stroked Jo's cheek. Blue eyes blinked at the touch. Blair drew back, suddenly slapping Jo across the face.

"How dare you?" she yelled. "What gives you the right?"

"Blair, please - "

"No! Get out!" She shoved Jo towards the bedroom door. "Just get out! I don't want to see you!"

"Blair!" Jo advanced towards Blair. Blair picked the motorcycle helmet up off the bed, threw it as hard as she could at Jo. It missed by a foot, solidly bouncing off the hardwood floor. Frustrated, she grabbed Jo's keys, throwing them as hard as she could.

The keys hit Jo squarely in the chest, bouncing off, landing on the floor. With a growl, Jo bent over, retrieving them. As she came up, she briefly thought about taking Blair by both arms and shaking some sense into her. She took a menacing step towards Blair, saw the frightened look in the blonde's eyes. With a sharp growl, she ran out of the room, down the stairs.

Blair stood at the window, arms wrapped tightly about herself as she stared down at the driveway below. The snow was falling harder, a light powder sticking to the ground. Impassively, she stared as Jo wheeled her motorcycle to the end of the driveway. Snow fell on her head and shoulders, caking her leather jacket. Even from this distance, every action, every movement screamed out Don't Fuck With Me!

Jo glanced up at the window, saw Blair staring down at her, hands folded defensively over her chest. Her expression was neutral, unfathomable. I guess the Ice Princess wants to make sure I'm leaving. Jo straddled her bike, turning on the ignition. She revved the engine, knowing that Blair hated the sound when she did that. So, she revved it some more. Glancing up at the window to make sure she was still watching, Jo gunned it, racing to the end of the drive. Without so much as a quick glance for traffic, she pulled out onto the street.

Pressing down hard on the accelerator, Jo sped off towards the freeway. She briefly thought about driving up to Mrs. Garrett's sister's house, but then thought better of it. She didn't want to run crying to Mrs. G. Besides, what would she say; Blair was mad because I kissed her. So, I kissed her again!

Her mind flashed back to that kiss. Halloween night had been magical. She had come to Blair's rescue, appearing as the mysterious, dashing musketeer. Her costume had been flawless. The loose material had hidden her feminine traits; the mask had disguised her features. No one had a clue it was her.

Including Blair. That's why she looked at you that way, you idiot! Like she was her hero, her knight in shining armor come to save the day. She had looked at her with such trust, such adoration. And, as they danced the night away and the other party-goers disappeared one by one, they continued their dance. They needed no words; their eyes communicated without the need for spoken language.

Stupid! What were her eyes saying tonight? That she hated you - she couldn't stand the sight of you - she told you to go away . . . that she never wanted to see you again! Unbidden, tears sprang to her eyes, blurring her vision. She felt her hot tears quickly turn cold as they ran unchecked down her cheeks.

The yellow line marking her lane blurred, disappearing with each falling snowflake. She angrily swiped at her tears with the sleeve of her leather jacket. The caution sign marking the upcoming S-curve was covered with a mixture of snow and ice. Blinking red-rimmed, bleary eyes, she barreled past the caution sign.

As she sped into the beginning of the curve, Jo felt her bike lose traction. She fishtailed as she went into the second curve, her rear-end sliding into the next lane. She tightened her grip on the handlebars, fighting to keep from laying her bike down. Dimly, she heard a horn sounding. She glanced up, eyes widening as she saw an eighteen-wheeler barreling down on her.

Groaning, Jo slowly took inventory of every bone in her body. She started with her left foot, wiggling each toe. She gave up by the time she reached her knee, deciding everything hurt too much to move. As her senses returned, she realized she was lying on her back on something soft. Hospital bed?

She slowly pried both eyes open. Bleary eyesight focused on darkness. Gradually, she realized that it wasn't only darkness. It was night. Scattered stars lined the sky above her. Wriggling hands and feet, she realized she was laying in a large snowdrift, partially covered in snow. Raising up her head a half inch, she was able to spot her motorcycle laying some ten feet distant, left side on the ground, the framework partially covered by snow.

She rolled her head, glancing to the left and right. She was able to see the road. Unfortunately, she couldn't see any headlights coming from either direction. Have to get up! Struggling, she made it to her knees. Taking a deep breath, Jo pushed off with her left foot, attempting to stand. As she made it up, her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she fell face first into the thick snowbank.

The next time she awoke, she knew she was definitely in a hospital bed. She was decidedly warm - and comfortable. Her head lolled to one side, bleary eyes focusing. A nurse was standing beside the bed, adjusting her IV drip. Jo tried to speak, found she couldn't. Her tongue instinctively darted out, wetting her dry, cracked lips.

"Here, try this." The nurse handed Jo a glass of water. Helping her into a sitting position, she held the cup as Jo tentatively took a swallow. Gingerly, she lowered Jo's head back onto her pillow.

"Do you feel like sitting up?" she asked. At Jo's meek nod, she adjusted the controls of the bed, moving Jo into an upright position.

The nurse moved to the windows, opening the blinds. Jo blinked against the harsh sunlight. One hand shielding her face, she turned her head the other direction. There were several flower arrangements and get-well balloons and cards scattered throughout the room. Her eyes swept to the open door, the hallway beyond. She dimly thought she heard Elvis singing Christmas carols.

"Nurse?" she croaked out. "Is there anyone - Do I have any visitors?"

"Oh, sure, honey." The nurse came to stand beside Jo, leaned over her, fluffed her pillow. "There were tons of people for the first day or so." At the puzzled look, she continued. "You were out for three days, sugar. Slept all the way straight through to Christmas."

"Christmas?" Jo asked.

"Yeah. Not all that unusual for patients suffering from concussions. Broken collarbone, four broken ribs, dislocated shoulder." She picked Jo's chart up from the end of the bed, flipping through it. "You got off lucky, considering you tangling with an eighteen-wheeler and all. Anybody ever tell you not to ride a motorcycle during a snowstorm?"

"My visitors," Jo persisted. "Did you get their names? Was there a Blair?"

The nurse paused, staring at Jo, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "Cute blonde, good dresser, hazel eyes?" she asked. "Yeah, she came around once or twice." Jo watched as she moved to the table containing several arrangements and stuffed animals. "I think she left a - Ah, here it is!" she shouted triumphantly, holding it up like a prize won at the carnival. "Said to give it to you when you woke up."

Jo reached out, taking the card from the nurse. On the front of the envelope, scrawled in Blair's distinctive handwriting was simply Joey. Jo flipped the card over, tearing open the back flap of the envelope. She had the envelope open, the card halfway out when she looked up to see the nurse still staring at her. Pointedly, Jo lowered the card to her lap.

She patiently waited until the nurse got the hint and moved on. "If you need anything, just press this little button," she instructed, pointing at one of the buttons located on the bed's handrail. "This one brings your bed up, this one works the television."

At Jo's nod, she fluffed her pillows once more. She moved to the door, lightly closing it behind her. Jo could still make out the sounds of Elvis singing somewhere down the hall. Sighing, she yanked the card from the envelope, opening it. Her eyes fell on Blair's distinctive scrawl.


We've been waiting all week for you to wake up. Ever since - Well, Tootie and Natalie wanted to cancel their Christmas plans to stay at the hospital with you. I finally convinced them to go home for the holidays.

Thank you for the Rolex. The EMS people found it in your jacket pocket when you were brought in. I called the manager at the jewelry store and he explained that you'd been working there to buy it for me. Words can not express how thoughtful that was of you. It's suddenly occurred to me that you are always doing thoughtful things for others. And, we never stop to take the time to realize all you do. Me, especially.

I don't know what to do. I'm sorry that you're in the hospital. I want you to wake up. I also want to slap you. First, you deceive me and cover it up - then when I confront you with the lie - you intentionally pick a fight with me and leave. Then, you end up in a near-fatal accident.

Maybe I do love you. I don't know, yet. But, I do know I don't like you very much right now. And, I'm not sure if I can ever forgive you. I'm leaving for the airport, and it's doubtful you'll be awake before I go. I think it's only fair to warn you that I may not be back after the Christmas holidays.

Merry Christmas,


P.S. - Mrs. Garrett is still at her sister's. We didn't want to worry her needlessly. I'm sure she'll be happy to come back to Peekskill if you call.

Tears rolling down her face, Jo reread the last part of the letter. I'm not sure if I can ever forgive you. Her sobs came openly now, tears falling onto the card, distorting the ink from Blair's fountain pen. With a sudden, pain-filled growl, Jo crumpled the card in her grasp. And, as she lay there alone, crying over what she had lost, she heard Elvis clearly singing the haunting ballad of I'll Have A Blue Christmas Without You.

The End

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