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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Anon


"Come on Jo, I need that book for my paper. Couldn't you just hop on your little bike there and pick it up for me?"

"No Blair, I have my own paper to write. You should have thought of that before you loaned it to Bootsy or whoever."

"It's Mitsy. And I forgot to get it from her earlier. Come on Jo. It'll be after nine before Mrs. Garrett is back with the car – which means I won't be able to get my paper started before ten. I'll be up all night. And you know I need my beauty sleep."



"Alright. Alright already. I'll get your book. You'll just keep me up all night with you if I don't."

"Thanks Jo."

"Yeah yeah…"

The memory faded into jumbled images. She tried to piece them together: the rumbling of her bike beneath her, her headlight cutting a swath through the darkness, something in her peripheral vision, and then sudden bone-jarring impact. Pain. Darkness. And now this.

Everything hurt. This time she remembered to breathe only shallowly, remembered not to move. She thought she had been awake before but had taken a breath, and that pain had sent her spiraling into darkness again. Maybe it was only a dream but she was careful with the thought. She couldn't be sure, everything was hazy but she knew she didn't want to pass out again. Breathing hurt. God. Where was she?

It was dark. She wasn't sure about up or down, but it felt like something wet was sliding down her cheek toward her ear. Okay, she was on her side. Something was pressing against her back, and something else against her chest. Her legs were pinned. She smelled gasoline. She tasted blood. Her bike. Shit. Sudden clarity. She'd been hit by a car. She could see it now, a distant memory only half a second long but somehow crystal clear. The car hadn't stopped at the stop sign on the S-bend, didn't even have its headlights on. She'd just caught a glimpse of reflected light on chrome and then she'd been airborne, over the handlebars. She remembered hitting the pavement, feeling every ounce of air leave her lungs. Something else hit her even as she skidded and tumbled and everything went black. She couldn't remember coming to rest.

"You're a bit of a mess, aren't you?"

Jo was startled awake at the unexpected voice. She gasped at the new wave of pain that swept through her at the movement and then concentrated on her breathing again. She blinked and sure enough found the source of the voice she knew so well. There was Blair Warner, standing not ten feet away from her. It was funny that she could see her but barely make out the outlines of the bike that pinned her against the guardrail. Last time she'd been awake she'd tried to move the bike but had failed, and had passed out again from the effort. This time she didn't even bother. What had Blair asked a moment ago? Right.

"Yeah." The word hurt. Her voice sounded wrong, her tongue felt strange in her mouth. "What are you doing here?"

"Keeping you company." Blair came closer, moved to sit on the gravel then thought better of it. She reached into a pocket and brought out a handkerchief which she spread out delicately before settling on the ground, not three feet in front of her.


"Because you look like you need company." Blair watched Jo for a moment, then reached over and touched Jo's jacket sleeve gently. "They're coming for you, don't worry. Just stay awake a little while longer." The gentleness in the words surprised Jo – she found herself trying not to cry. Shit, she must really be hurt if Blair being nice could make her cry. She couldn't move her head to look away so she settled for closing her eyes for a moment. The last person she wanted to see her in a mess like this was Blair.

"Why is that do you think?" Jo opened her eyes at that, could see Blair's expression curiously intent.

"I don't know." Blair's head tipped up slightly and her expression was unreadable - then she touched Jo's arm lightly.

"I don't believe you. But it's okay." The words bothered Jo vaguely but she was too fuzzy headed to figure out why. She thought about trying to move again, but the memory of the spiraling darkness from the last time was vivid and unpleasant. The bike's weight on top of her was oppressive, her helmet was claustrophobic. If she could just move the bike, or at least get her helmet off maybe she could breathe easier.

"You shouldn't move Jo. Just stay still a little longer." Shit. She didn't want to ask for help, not from anyone, but particularly not from Blair. Blair's expression changed almost imperceptibly, as if she knew what Jo was thinking. Shit. Okay so maybe that was stupid.

"Could you help me take my helmet off? Please." Help was an understatement. She vaguely remembered her arms were pinned awkwardly or something was broken – either way she hadn't been able to bring her hand to her face before.

"Maybe you should keep it on."

"Hard to breathe."

"I know. Just relax Jo. You'll be fine."

"How do you know?"

"Trust me." Trust. That was a tough one. Jo closed her eyes again just to clear her head for a moment. Everything seemed so distant and unreal; flashes of light, colour, sound, fading warmth, metallic taste, the feeling of coarse gravel pressing into her shoulder and side. Pain. Blair again but different somehow.

"Jo, can you hear me?" Blair was harder to see now, her voice a little more urgent. Jo wondered if she'd passed out again, she concentrated on the question. What had she asked? Right.

"I hear you."

Blair blinked out of focus and then back again – for a moment Jo could swear Mrs. G was there too. She must have been – a moment later the painful weight of the bike was shifting, and then gone. Relieved Jo tried to pull in a lungful of air but quickly froze as blackness spiraled in her peripheral vision. God that hurt. Something was messed up inside. She stilled herself and concentrated on the shallow breaths she knew she'd been able to manage before. When she was sure she wouldn't pass out she widened her focus, realized Blair was draping her coat over her. It was heavy and warm and probably wool. No thin, utilitarian coat for the Princess. Jo realized it may have cost more than her bike – and that right now it was probably getting dirty with blood, and gasoline and dirt. She also realized Blair was speaking but she'd missed what she was saying.

"… what to do." Focus Jo. Everything was muffled. If she could just get…

"My helmet."

"You want me to take off your helmet?"

"Yes please." Blair hesitated – for a moment Jo thought she would say no again – but no, this time she leaned closer. Jo felt hands on her shoulders, lightly sliding around her collarbone and to her back. Fortunately there wasn't anything particularly painful about it and apparently satisfied Blair gently eased the helmet from her head. That was better, less claustrophobic. God, she was a mess. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe. She couldn't even lift her hands, couldn't turn her head. She was scared. She hardly wanted to admit it but she was glad Blair was sitting with her – it somehow made the whole situation less frightening.

"Thank you Blair." Her voice still didn't sound right – her jaw hurt, her tongue felt too big for her mouth, but Blair seemed to understand the words though she seemed puzzled.

"For what Jo?"

"Staying with me." Jo took a breath, realized how unfair she had been before even as she heard Blair's voice, quiet in the darkness.

"Jo…" Blair's voice had slipped into a soft cadence – Jo recognized it from the very few times Blair stepped out from behind her brash uppity front. And then Blair exhaled slowly. "You're my friend Jo." The simple words sounded so honest Jo wondered why they spent so much of their time fighting. Then again she had her own brash front, didn't she.

The End

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