DISCLAIMER: The Facts of Life and its characters are the property of Columbia Pictures Television and Sony Pictures Television, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Iím not sure that this story is exactly in the spirit of the prompt but itís what wanted to be written Ė sorry! Oh, and the other prompt is also underway and I would imagine that it will make an appearance at some point.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Jo closed her eyes and lifted her face up to the sky, enjoying the warmth of the early evening sun. Bubbling laughter drifted by her ear and she opened her eyes to watch a teenage couple running down the beach towards the waves. She smiled as the surf washed over their feet, eliciting a screech from the girl and a hearty laugh from the boy. He caught her wrist as she tried to outrun the next wave and pulled her in for a kiss, the cool water all but forgotten as they lost themselves in youthful passion they believed would last forever.
They parted and continued on down the beach, hand in hand. Jo watched them until they were no more than specks against the dark blue of the pacific. She smiled. Sometimes she had to remind herself that she wasn't a teenager any more. Hadn't been for quite some time, in fact.
It seemed like no time at all since she'd found herself in the tumbling rush of her first real love-affair. And here she was; a thirty-something detective whose youthful passion had turned into something deeper than she'd ever expected.
Sometimes she still found it difficult to believe that she had managed to put up with Blair Warner for all these years. Blair, the bane of Jo's existence as a schoolgirl, the pain in her ass who slowly became a trusted friend, and who finally grew into the woman she wanted to spend her whole life with. Jo shook her head in wonder. Not that she'd change a minute, of course.
She was sitting on the beach in Santa Monica, having opted out of shopping with Blair, Tootie and Natalie. She had accompanied them the first few times, but there was a limit to her tolerance and when the latest trip had been proposed, Blair had noticed the tension in her jaw and had suggested that she take a walk on the beach instead, meeting up with them afterwards for dinner. She hadn't needed much persuasion.
Tootie had invited them all out to visit her in Hollywood on the set of her latest movie. This one was definitely going to be her big break. She wasn't quite the female lead, but she was the female lead's best friend. Jo had made her usual protests about visiting California: land of the blonde and brainless. But she had relented under the onslaught of Blair's puppy-dog eyes. And she had to admit that she had actually enjoyed the trip.
However, somewhere in the pit of her stomach was a gnawing worry. Every time they'd come to California, Blair had hinted that she might like to make a permanent move there some day. Only this time, it had been more than hints. It had been an outright statement.
'Jo, I'd like us to move out here.'
The change wasn't entirely unexpected. It followed on naturally from other conversations they'd been having lately. Conversations which centred around having children and the environment in which they should be brought up. And right at that moment, sitting under a blue sky on a golden beach, breathing in clean, salty air, Jo couldn't think of a compelling argument against a move. Her protests about decent hot-dog vendors and the availability of taxi-cabs seemed to ring hollow when faced with large houses with yards that went on forever, a stone's throw from the beach and an hour's drive from the mountains.
Jo laughed to herself as she thought back to her first trip out West. New York to California by motorcycle. The whole way she'd tried to convince herself that she was looking for a new challenge, a real purpose in life. When in reality, she knew she was running away. She was no heroic prospector, braving the wild frontier. She was a coward. Luckily, Blair was brave enough to run after her, bail her out of trouble and bring her home.
And that was the crux of it. It didn't really matter where she was, as long as she was with Blair, she'd always be OK. With her record she knew she could get a transfer wherever she wanted. And it wasn't like they would never be in New York. Any kid that they had would have enough Grandparents, Step-Grandparents and other assorted friends and relatives that trips back East would be inevitable.
Jo sighed. She had managed to talk herself into moving to California with barely any nagging from Blair. This was surely a sign that she was, as Natalie liked to point out, whipped. But then, she wouldn't have it any other way.
Something made Jo turn around, a smile spreading over her face as she caught sight of Blair making her way across the sand, a pair of expensive sandals dangling from her fingers, white linen skirt blowing in the gentle breeze. Jo checked her watch, they weren't due to meet for another hour. Jo stood and dusted the sand from her pants and started towards Blair.
"Hey!" Jo called.
"I thought I'd find you here," Blair called in return, shielding her eyes from the sun with her free hand.
"Did ya finally run out of stuff to buy in the stores?" Jo enquired, pecking Blair on the cheek and offering her arm to her.
"For your information," Blair began, linking her arm through Jo's, "I was in a very exclusive store, looking at very expensive things, when I had this sudden urge to be with you."
"Jesus, what brought that on?"
"I don't know, but I don't like it and I hope it doesn't become a habit," Blair said, squeezing Jo's arm affectionately.
They walked on down the beach in comfortable silence for a few moments.
"I think we should move out here," Jo said, without warning.
Blair stopped walking, forcing Jo to do the same. She turned so that they were facing one another. Blair was regarding her sceptically.
"Is this some sort of reverse psychology?"
"You're saying what you think I want you to say in the hope that I say the opposite?"
"No. Look, I've been thinkin' about this and you're right."
Blair took a step backwards.
"OK, now I know something's up."
"For Christ's sake, Blair!" Jo said, rubbing the bridge of her nose in frustration. "I'm not sayin' we're movin' to Hollywood Boulevard. In fact, I'm not too keen on L.A. But I was thinkin' maybe San Diego or San Francisco."
Blair rolled her eyes.
"Listen, I don't care, you pick, I'll go wherever you want me to go."
Blair grasped Jo's arms.
"Do you mean that?"
Jo nodded. And she did mean it. She'd go to Hell and back if that's what Blair wanted. Blair's face broke into a radiant smile. She reached up to stroke Jo's cheek with her thumb.
"And I thought I'd have to fight tooth and nail just to get you to consider it," she whispered, tears shining in her eyes.
Jo shrugged as she wrapped her hands around Blair's waist.
"Well, if it makes you feel better, we can wrestle or something later on."
Blair swatted her shoulder.
"Once a barbarian, always a barbarian."
"Yep, and you love it."
Blair tilted her head to the side.
"Yes, I do," she said seriously.
They smiled at each other for a long moment. Jo ran her hand down Blair's arm, snagging her purse and her shoes out of her fingers and dropping them onto the sand. Then she took Blair's hand and started running, dragging Blair behind her. When Blair came to her senses, she realised what Jo was doing.
"Jo Jo, no! Jo!" she protested.
Jo ignored her and kept running until they reached the cold, wet sand of the shore. She came to a gradual halt and turned to pull Blair against her just as the surf washed over their feet. Blair squealed and pressed closer to Jo at the chill of the water. As the wave receded and the drag of the tide made the earth underneath them slide away, they kissed. And they kept on kissing until the sun was nothing but a red glow beyond the horizon.
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