DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television, no infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By misty flores
"Is Miss Warner expecting you?"
She had been expecting that question.
Fingers knitting together, Jo offered what she hoped was a nice, gentle smile. "Not, really, no. I was kinda hoping to surprise her."
Getting in to see Blair seemed harder than getting to the President. Knowing Blair was avoiding her, Jo had purposely stayed away from Warner Textile Industries. She envisioned her name, blacklisted on some sort of high profile memo, and that frightening receptionist looking at her the very same way the security guard in Blair's expensive apartment building was eyeing her now: as if she was some sort of hooligan. Even though Jo had made an effort to look nice, the skirt and shirt topped with a jean jacket still seemed inadequate.
"Look, I've been here before."
"Miss Warner doesn't take uninvited guests."
It was definitely a far cry from Peekskill, where Jo could just stomp up the stairs and pull Blair out of her bed by her sheets.
"Well, she'll take me."
"You seem awfully sure of that, don't you?" a familiar aggravated voice interjected.
Stiffening, Jo whirled. Blair stood just behind her, clearly dressed for going out, in a stunning low cut black dress and a pair of sinfully high heels.
Suddenly self conscious, Jo found her voice. "Actually, I wasn't," she admitted. "But this guy didn't have to know that."
"Miss Warner, is this young lady a guest of yours?"
Her friend seemed reluctant to break eye contact, and when she did, shifting her gaze to the security guard, Jo dizzily realized she had stopped breathing.
"Yes, Tom. Jo is an old friend."
"I'll make a note of it, Miss Warner."
"Thank you, Tom."
Another guest, one currently carrying a yappy, fluffy little dog, came forward, seeking the guard's attention, forcing Jo to step closer to Blair, away from the counter.
Oddly shy, she exhaled slowly, and dug her hands into her pockets. "You look nice."
"I have a drinks date." This was said stiffly, in an overly formal tone. Typical haughty Blair. In the month they had been apart, Blair's bangs had grown out, and everything was less puffy. She looked elegant and graceful. Grown up. "You've cut your hair."
Suddenly self conscious, Jo's hand drifted to her shorn locks. She still forgot sometimes.
"Uh " she laughed nervously, grabbing a handful of brunette strands, letting go just as quickly. "I kind of had to. They said it was too long."
"Who said it was too long? Not that I don't agree."
Of course she agreed. Blair had once referred to Jo's now defunct perm as a rat's nest.
"My NYPD officer."
"Oh my Lord, you've been to jail and now you're on parole."
"No," she sighed, rolling her eyes at the immediate assumption. "My recruitment officer. I'm joining."
Crossing her arms, Blair absorbed the news. "Come again?"
"I'm joining the NYPD."
Long lashes blinked, before perfectly plump lips parted, then shut just as quickly. "Get upstairs," Blair said finally, all formality gone as she pointed toward the elevator. "Now."
"Upstairs so I can talk to you about this insanity."
"What about your drinks?"
"Tom?" Blair called sweetly.
The security guard straightened immediately from his guest. "Yes, Miss Warner?"
"Please call my assistant Felipe and have him extend my apologies. A last minute appointment turned up and I'm afraid I'll have to reschedule with Edmond."
"Of course, Miss Warner," he said immediately, reaching for the phone.
"Your drinks were with Edmond?" Her question sounded a little more pathetic than she intended, and she was grateful that Blair ignored her in favor of grabbing her by the elbow and shoving her toward the elevator.
Blair's hands seemed to literally shake as she fumbled with her keys. She seemed ridiculously focused on the task, and when Jo offered to help she snapped at her in a way she had never done before.
"You just gotta jimmy it-"
"I know how to work my own door, Jo!"
Sighing in aggravation, Jo stepped up behind her, reaching for the knob. "Look, just let me-"
"Get off," Blair hissed, low and dangerous, jerking back so fast she pounded back into her. Jo suddenly realized she was now inches away from Blair, close enough to smell the perfume wafting, to stare at red lips.
She stepped back, uncharacteristically agreeable. "Sorry."
Blair shot her a dark, thoughtful glance, and then suddenly focused again on her entrance, this time having no trouble with her lock, pushing the door open with her shoulder and stepping into her apartment.
Breathless, Jo followed.
"So?" Blair asked, dropping jewelry into a small bowl sitting on an antique desk beside her coat rack. "Explain."
Jo went momentarily dumb. "Explain?" she asked. "You mean, like everything?"
Hands on her hips, Blair looked like an angry school teacher. All haughtiness had been abandoned for furious concern, and that, it seemed, dissolved any lingering awkwardness from their last encounter.
"How about we start with what insanity prompted you to join the Police Academy."
"Oh." Relieved at the easiness of the question, Jo tugged on her ear, breathless. "I just I just wanted to."
"You just wanted to?" Blair repeated, eyes narrowing at the sentence. "Jo, do you realize what on earth you'll be doing?"
"Protecting and serving?"
"I wanted to make a difference."
"What kind of difference will you make wading through Hell's Kitchen kicking bums off puke-infested porch steps!"
She did paint a nice picture.
"That's not all I'll be doing!"
"Well forgive me. You'll also be directing traffic!"
"Stop making it sound like it'll be meaningless."
"I should have expected this," Blair muttered, pacing on her heels. "I was expecting this. I expected the Salvation Army or the Peace Corps I expected Aids Camps in Africa- what am I saying? I'm just giving you ideas!"
Blair's outright indignant concern seemed refreshing. Jo fought the smirk, recognizing the thrill inside of her to be once again in the company of her infuriating friend. "It'll be okay, Blair."
"How will it be okay? Who on earth gave you such a ridiculous idea?"
"Excuse me?" Blair shot her a pointed index finger. "You take that back."
"I'm not taking it back, you bleached Blonde Ditz!" The name-calling did the trick. Blair seemed knocked out of whatever haze she had been under, and Jo shut her mouth, allowing it to sink in before stepping forward, shrugging out of her coat. "Don't you remember? You told me if I wasn't happy, to do something about it."
Blair opened her mouth, ready to deny the accusation, before she thought better of it, shoulders slumping. "I hardly meant taking a job that included an ugly uniform."
A small smile tugged at the corners of her lips. "I won't be wearing that uniform forever. It's the badge I'm after. The recruitment officer told me that I look young. I don't look like a cop. With my background I can do undercover after my 18 month probation. After two years in that, it's an automatic skip up to detective."
"If you manage to live that long."
By this time, she had managed to sneak up on her skittish friend, close enough to place warm palms on her forearms, chuck a beautiful chin gently. "I'm gonna be okay, Blair. Thanks to you."
The intimacy thickened the tension around them, and Jo felt her heart skip a beat when she noticed dark eyes lingering on her face, her lips.
Her heart in her throat, she waited, fingers skimming idly along Blair's bicep.
A beat later, after an audible breath, Blair stepped back.
"And what does Rick have to say about all this?" she began, in an unsteady voice.
She was obviously flustered. Jo took that as a good sign.
"I wouldn't know," she said, as lightly as she could. Inhaling, trying to reserve her strength, she watched Blair intently. "He's in Europe, on tour. We're legally separated."
In the middle of fussing with a wine bottle, Blair glanced up.
Afraid to sound too hopeful, Jo licked her lips, and kept going. "We're getting an annulment. There's this lawyer that Rick got, he says we've got grounds. It should be done by the end of next month. We already got our court date."
Blair's eyes drifted back down to her cork.
"I assumed when I didn't hear from you after the last time "
Jo's chest ached. "You didn't take my call yesterday. I was gonna tell ya-"
"After all this time, the only feasible reason you would call would be to tell me you had worked it out," Blair answered, voice small. She fiddled with the bottle. "I didn't want to hear that. I wasn't ready for it."
The moment was fragile, precious.
"I'm sorry," she began, as tenderly as she could, completely aware of how important it was to get this out right. "I should have called sooner. I wanted to. I did. Blair, I knew what I wanted the minute you left me that night."
Blair's hand slipped, she stuck herself on the screw. Hissing, she held up her uninjured hand, keeping Jo from coming to her. "Don't. I'm okay." She pressed the palm of her hand against her mouth. "What did you want?" she asked, a moment later.
That really was the question, wasn't it?
"I want you, Blair." Jo's voice cracked, and she heard herself and couldn't bring herself to care. "But I didn't Blair, it wasn't fair to you. I kept expecting you to come in and fix it all for me, and that wasn't right. I needed to get my head straight. I needed to make sure things were... settled before just before."
Her friend didn't move for what seemed ages. Then she turned, avoiding Jo's eyes, fumbling for the faucet and letting the water rush over her injured hand.
"Blair." The figure didn't move. "I remember what you said. I understand that just because I've figured it out doesn't mean that that you're ready for anything."
The water shut off, and cascading blonde waves moved as Blair glanced back at her, visibly frightened. "What if I'm never ready, Jo?"
Somewhere inside her, Jo hurt at the possibility. For the sake of her friend, she managed as comforting a smile as she could. "Then I'll deal with that."
"Hey," she interrupted gently, coming forward, letting the counter provide the physical barrier Blair needed. "You wanted me to be happy. You were willing to accept whatever that took." Brown eyes flickered away from her. "What kind of friend would I be if I couldn't do the same?"
With a ragged smile, she slid her hands on the counter, taking comfort in the cold seeping up from the textured marble.
She forgot how scared Blair could be, how insecure her friend appeared when she truly let her guard down. How, when there was no one but her looking, Blair seemed to soften in such a way that Jo couldn't help but want to take care of her, and hate every person in the world that made Blair think that without her figure or her fashion or her looks, she wasn't good enough.
Driven by the turmoil of her own personal crisis, by the feelings evoked within her, by her own reaction to the events of the past few months, Jo now understood what that emotion was.
She decided to cherish it.
When Blair smiled, small and careful, at her, she knew at the very least, she had her friend back.
Blair had a high-profile career to worry about. She was living in her father's shadow and learning the hard way what that meant. She was terrified of ending up the way her mother had been divorced over and over and unaware of what it meant to really commit.
Falling for Jo, falling for a woman, just didn't fit into her world there had been no room made for it, and Jo understood that just like what she had dealt with, there would be consequences.
Whether or not to face them was Blair's choice, not hers.
It was Jo's turn to wait.
She was hot. Sweat had trickled down her neck, right under her collar and itched underneath her vest, right where she couldn't reach it.
Thankfully, at the moment she was too pissed to really care.
Her shoes squeaked as she followed the blonde executive into her office, watching as Blair angrily stripped off the expensive blazer she had been so careful of at the damned swanky restaurant Jo had found her in, flinging it on her chair carelessly.
"Joanna Marie Polniaczek! Flashing around a badge and a gun does NOT give you the right to act like a Neanderthal!"
"But it gives you the right to act like... like...a..." Pulling off her cap, Jo sputtered, too unhinged to try and think of an appropriate quip. "Tart?!"
"Yes, a tart! What with the leaning forward and the idiotic giggle - he was trying to cop a feel!"
"He's a consultant!"
"Well, he wanted to CONSULT your ass!"
"Would you QUIT screaming!?" Blair whispered, pushing around her to slam her office door closed. "This is an office! I work here!"
Jo tossed a disbelieving snort. "It's Saturday! We're the only two people in here!"
Blair's eyes only narrowed. That bit of information was apparently not appreciated. "Yes, it's Saturday. It was bad enough I had to work today, but the one moment I stepped out to breathe, to have a decent lunch with a valued co-worker, my best friend comes in to ruin it all by accusing the man of a... a dine and dash!"
"He was gonna stiff you with the bill!"
"I OFFERED TO PAY!" Blair screeched, apparently forgetting her own concern about noise level around her work place.
Disgusted, Jo nearly spit. Her hand settled on the butt of her standard issue revolver, and then, considering she was hot and angry and annoyed as all hell, thought better of it.
Too much temptation.
"Jo, I am tired of this."
She glanced up, eyes on her friend as Blair leaned over her desk, reaching for a tissue, face blotchy with anger. Jo's eyes narrowed as she took in the slim cut skirt, the ass displayed prominently to her. When Blair straightened up, she glanced down at the cleavage, tantalizingly and cleverly revealed because there wasn't a button where there should have been.
She jerked up, feeling suddenly like she had been caught stealing a cookie. "What?!"
Blair snapped her fingers in front of her, face tight with frustration. "My eyes are up here," she enunciated, pointing to her face.
"I know where the hell your face is, Blair. But you wouldn't notice it what with the girls on parade, there."
Blair glanced down at her bosom. "This is the fashion."
"For the oldest profession, I'm sure."
"God-dammit, Jo!" Blair snapped, and pivoted on her heel, flopping in her chair, pressing her palms to her face. "You're driving me crazy!"
"Likewise, I'm sure."
"Listen to me!" Blair snapped, but she crossed her legs then, and Blair really did have awesome legs. Jo was seeing everything that Jimbo was seeing, and who the hell was Blair kidding, anyway? This was OFFICE ATTIRE? "Being a police officer does NOT entitle you to act like some sort of jealous-JO LOOK AT MY FACE!"
Her eyes snapped up, and she felt the slightest bit ashamed. "What? I'm not doing anything."
"This is what I'm talking about!" Blair wheezed. "I can't have you ... doing this! We are NOT dating! We are friends. You have absolutely no claim over me."
Her face suddenly flaming, Jo stepped back, feeling idiotically hurt. "I know that."
"If I want to have lunch with a nice young man-"
"Jimbo is not a nice-"
"His name is JAMES, and he IS a nice young man. And if I want to have lunch with him - A BUSINESS lunch, or any kind of lunch, I would like to think I can do that without my rookie cop best friend threatening to arrest him."
"I had grounds!"
"You had nothing!" Blair snapped.
Wasn't that the truth.
Jo took in a deep breath, felt her cheeks burning with miserable embarrassment, and dragged her eyes away from Blair's angry face.
Blair was right. She had been right for a frickin' year. Jo was just a friend. An increasingly jealous best friend with no grounds for anything because Blair had never said anything to the contrary.
But there were looks. Long smoldering looks and shivers and eye contact, and Blair turning into a snotty bitch every time Jo even looked at another girl and that all had to mean something, right?
She shuddered, her heart throbbed, and too afraid to carry on the conversation, Jo preferred to stay angry.
"Fine! I have nothing. You know what? Good riddance, Blair. Date Jimbo!"
"Who cares!" Jo snarled. "You're tired of this? Me too. You're free. You got your best friend jealousy free!"
"Oh, we'll see how long THAT lasts," Blair snipped, brown eyes cold and dark.
"Long enough to get myself down to that club tonight and find that girl that's been hounding me."
Blair knew exactly which one, and Jo felt a thrill of validation at the flash she saw briefly spark in Blair's expression.
"Well, then I hope you don't contract something."
Turning on her squeaky shoes, Jo strode to the door, head held high.
The feeling of angry resolution dissolved exactly five steps from Blair's door, before Jo's heart tumbled down into her stomach, and her furious emotion faded in the favor of lovesick resignation.
"God-DAMMIT," she breathed to herself in the empty hallway, and swiveled, peeling off her cap once again to head back, ready to grovel. "Listen, Blair-"
Hard wood nearly exploded before her, and Jo barely had a second to blink before she registered Blair standing in the doorway, caught in the midst of running after her.
Brown eyes bore into hers, and then suddenly Blair lunged forward, mouth pressing against hers.
A different kind of heat flushed through her, and starved for this, the shock faded fast. Palms slid around Blair possessively, and she wasted no time in plunging her tongue deeply into Blair's mouth, tasting her intimately.
Blair didn't care to be delicate. She moaned loudly in her mouth and then Jo felt long fingers scratching at her collar, her arms, doing everything she could to pull her back into her office.
Kissing her wetly, sloppily, Jo followed immediately, arms wrapping around Blair's waist, supporting her friend when she slipped on her heels, adjusting for the drop in height when Blair kicked them off awkwardly.
"I don't want James," Blair breathed against her mouth, chest heaving against hers, fingers tangling in the loose bun at Jo's nape.
"I know," Jo answered, and stole another kiss, smoothing palms against Blair's back, curving over Blair's ass, skin tight against that fucking skirt.
"I want you," Blair groaned, the last word muffled by Jo's tongue in her mouth.
They stumbled into a chair. Jo kicked it away.
Blair's lips tore from hers, and arms wrapped tightly around her, hips pushing against hers as Blair's mouth latched onto her lobe.
"I like it when you look at me."
"Shut up, Blair," she ordered, and kissed her again, fingers sliding under the skirt, smoothing up Blair's thighs. Arms already around her shoulders, Blair didn't need the encouragement. Her thighs slid up, wrapping around Jo's waist as Jo carried her, running into the desk.
A stapler and an inbox crashed to the floor, and then hands began to scramble, fumbling with buttons.
Jo was overtaken. When Blair whimpered in her ear, she spread palms over thighs and buried her mouth into Blair's, pulling Blair further into her.
She had fantasized about her first time with Blair. It was always ridiculously sentimental, candles and soft sheets, and some sort of cheesy music playing. She pictured awkward fumbling and delicate words and a lot of reassurances and 'it's okays', because they were both virgins and it was special. She thought it would take all night.
Passion and an explosion of lust gave them a different reality. They had an abandoned office and a desk and Blair's legs wrapped around her waist. They had Blair fighting with her Kevlar and then giving up when Jo much more easily hooked fingers into underwear, and slid effortlessly into moist heat. Blair's arms flailed and then landed around her shoulders once again. Long fingernails scratched down the sides of Jo's neck and Blair moved against her, begging Jo for more.
She had wanted to be gentle.
She wasn't. She was a slave to Blair's will, and Blair wanted more and she wanted it harder, faster.
Blair bit her, on the side of her neck, and it made her wince, but only tightened her grip. Held Blair as close as she could with her free hand, frozen suddenly when Blair began to shudder, mouth latched to the skin just underneath her ear.
In the moments that followed, Jo began to notice things. The feel of her fingers, slick and wet and tightly encircled with Blair. The sting of the welts of the scratches on her neck. The hot pants of Blair, moist breath puffing against a saliva soaked spot on her neck. The way her heart seemed to bang against her ribs. The way Blair clutched onto her, as if they had just been through a fire and only managed to come out alive.
Slowly, slowly, Blair leaned back, and met her eyes with wide-eyed, frightened wonder.
Raspily, she began, "Did we just " Blair, still recovering, offered only the slightest hint of a nod. "On your desk?"
"In my office," Blair managed, but didn't stop stroking back the bangs that fell into Jo's face, a fall out from her destroyed bun.
"But I've never-"
She was still inside Blair. It had really
Heart pounding, she shifted her fingers, and felt her friend spasm as a result, crumpling against her as she groaned.
"Jo," Blair gasp, reaching between them to stop her. "I'm still "
Blair's head jerked up. "What?"
Suddenly, she was upset, ready to cry. "I wanted it to be different. I wanted I wanted to woo you."
"Woo me?" Blair repeated.
"With candles and chocolates I wanted to take you to dinner and I wanted " Blair's fingers pressed against her cheek. Jo's moistened eyes searched hers beseechingly. "I wanted it to be nice."
The words broke her, but Blair gently took hold of her fingers and eased them out of her. Without hesitation, fingers slipped over her shoulders, reeled her in. With a duck of her head, Blair's lips landed on hers.
The kiss had lost some of the initial passion, but it was sweeter, more loving, more sure than any kiss she had ever received from Blair.
"We can have nice," Blair began gently, as their heads drifted apart. "And we can have this too."
"I don't want you to have to regret this."
The words came from fear, because more than anything, that was what Jo was afraid of. Blair giving in, and then forgetting, regretting, taking it all away from her.
A sharp burst of static coming from her hip cut into any response Blair might have made. "Polniaczek, where the hell are you?"
"Shit." With an apologetic glance to Blair, she looked down at her hands, and twisted so that she could grab the radio with her clean hand. "Yeah, I'm here."
"GET THE HELL DOWN HERE, ROOKIE. Argue with the girlfriend another time. We got a call."
A faint blush tinged Blair's cheeks, but her friend stayed oddly silent.
"Hold your horses, will ya? I'm on my way." She put down the radio, and stared regretfully into a beautiful, insecure expression. "I gotta go." She ached with apology. "I don't want to-"
"Miss Warner!" The door flew open, and Blair's fingers flexed instinctively against her sleeves when Felipe stepped in. "I got your message and "
Words died in his throat as he surveyed the scene, and realized exactly what he had walked into. "Oh, God. I'm sorry. I'll just- at my desk-" Fumbling, he backpedaled fast, nearly tripping over his feet.
The door closed to horrified silence.
"POLNIACZEK!" Jo turned the knob of the radio, lowering the booming to an irritating moan.
"You need to go," Blair said quietly, and pushed her gently away, scooting off the desk and smoothing down her skirt.
Jo watched her actions with an odd lump in her throat. "Are you going to be okay?"
"Felipe is discreet. For obvious reasons." Leaning forward, Blair carefully wiped at Jo's cheek. "You should stop by the bathroom before you go. You look ravished."
"Maybe because I was."
"I feel like it was the other way around."
Jo's fingers fisted together, and she felt the stickiness of Blair.
She didn't want to leave it. Not like this. "Blair."
"Come by to my apartment tonight," Blair suggested, buttoning Jo's shirt back up, smoothing the collar, like a housewife. "And we'll work on 'nice'."
After all this time, it seemed too simple. "No regrets?" Jo asked, just to be sure.
An exasperated eyeroll was her response. "All the time. Every day, with you."
She knew Blair, and she knew what Blair meant, with that half-hearted insult.
Her heart suddenly threatened to explode, right through her bulletproof vest, and suddenly giddy, she lunged forward, hauled her best friend up against her, and pressed a hard kiss against Blair's mouth. Releasing her just as quickly, she straightened her cuffs and moved toward the door, ready to face Felipe with a stern warning and an idle threat. "Fix your shirt. I think I snapped a button."
She wanted nice.
What she got that night wasn't nice. It was more like what happened at the office, except this time it was against a wall next to the cabinet with Blair and Jo's pictures in it. This time, Blair finally got through the Kevlar, and didn't care that she had to break a nail to do it.
This time, Blair told her she loved her.
It was a far cry from a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a dog.
There was a helluva lot of uncertainty and conflicting careers, and parents and bigots to worry about.
Nothing about the way she took Blair that night, with Blair's teeth sinking into her shoulder, and naked bodies slipping and sliding against each other, causing heated friction that burned through them both, could be categorized as 'nice'.
Jo didn't mind.
Nice didn't seem to really compare anymore.
Rick was nice. Her marriage was nice.
This was so much more.
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