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: Common Ground: Chapter 10. Quotes in italics are direct quotes from the Facts of Life Series, Season 3, Episode 3, Baby In The House.
THANKS: To Stacey (aka betapup), for the Beta assistance in story and character development, encouragement, and meticulous attention to detail.
MEDIA LINK: http://www.youtube.com/user/FactsOfLifeMinutes#p/p
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To FOLfan[at]ymail.com

Common Ground
10: Four Teens and A Baby

By Slave2Free


Looking down at Allison's innocent baby, Edna wanted to throttle the former student for doing something so irresponsible. When Allison had attended Eastland, she had been impulsive, but she had never before been so reckless. Like Blair, Natalie, and Tootie, Mrs. Garrett had looked forward to Allison's visit, but the carefree day had turned into a nightmare when Allison left Eastland without taking her daughter with her.

The maternal woman gazed lovingly at the infant who had been entrusted to her care before shaking her head and turning to Jo and Blair.

"I have some phone calls to make. You girls stay with Emily while I go downstairs and look up the numbers. I'll be back soon."

Blair immediately began to panic.

"You can't leave us here all by ourselves!"

Jo groaned at Blair's hysterics and nodded at Mrs. Garrett.

"We'll take good care of Emily until you get back, Mrs. G."

Edna left, hoping to locate Allison's parents or Emily's father. Blair's insecurities began to show as soon as Mrs. Garrett left the room.

"What . . . what if she starts crying?!"

Jo's voice took on an authoritative, matter-of-fact tone.

"Then we'll change her or feed her, whichever one she needs."

"I don't know how to do those things. What do babies eat?"

Jo turned her attention from Emily to Blair and stared at the debutante in disbelief.

"You really don't know anything about anything, do ya?"

"I've never taken care of a baby before."

"Did you think they took care of themselves?"

"I, um, I've never thought much about that. I like thinking about how cute they look."

"Well, they're not all that cute when they're screaming their little heads off so you'd better learn how to change a diaper real quick."

"Diaper? We don't have any diapers."

Jo glanced around the room and spotted Allison's diaper bag.

"Bring me that diaper bag. It probably has some baby formula in it, too."

Blair retrieved the diaper bag and Jo inventoried the contents.

"At least Allison came well prepared."

"Are you going to change the baby's diaper?"

Jo frowned. 'How does she get through life without knowing anything?'

"No, the baby's not wet and she's not crying so I think we should leave her alone. She's happy, see?"

Blair looked into the bassinet from a distance and nodded.

'How does she know so much about babies? There's probably nothing Jo doesn't know about.'

Jo and Blair were staring at Emily, somewhat in awe of the fact that they were suddenly her caretakers, when Natalie and Tootie barged into the room.

"Is it true? Did Allison really abandon her baby?"

Jo shook her head and shrugged.

"It sure looks that way."

Blair spoke up in defense of Allison, still too stunned to believe that her friend had left without her baby.

"I can't believe it. Allison would not abandon her baby. There must be a reasonable explanation."

Jo picked up the note Blair had found in the cafeteria and read it again for Blair.

"Here's your reasonable explanation. 'I'm going away. Please take care of Emily'."

Blair's voice was pleading.

"At least she left a note. I'm sure it's not the way it looks. You don't know Allison."

Natalie, who had no trouble believing that Allison had abandoned her daughter, spoke up.

"But we do. Remember when she and David ducked out of the class picnic?"

Blair considered Natalie's example ridiculous. Abandoning a baby was nothing like skipping a picnic.

"Lots of kids left that picnic."

"For three days?!"

Tootie also remembered Allison's reckless nature.

"She could be halfway to California by now."

Blair turned away, feeling foolish. She'd put up with more childishness from Allison that afternoon than she would ever have allowed from a boy. Blair was not only beginning to question her current friendship with Allie, she was beginning to re-evaluate their prior relationship with a new level of objectivity.

Jo stayed near Emily, staring fondly at the baby.

"Life's a bummer. You go to sleep, you've got a mother. You wake up and you're on your own."

Blair smiled at her girlfriend. Jo's blunt way of stating the truth made her appear gruff, but the tender expression on her face as she looked at Emily conveyed the true gentleness within. When Mrs. Garrett returned to the room, the girls thought that they would go about their regular schedule. Natalie planned to stay at home and study, Tootie was going to the movies, and Blair was looking forward to taking Jo to the charity dinner at the country club. Edna Garrett smiled indulgently as she listened to the teenagers talk about their plans, having no intention of taking care of Allison's baby on her own. After all, she and Jo had already spent the better part of the afternoon caring for the infant.

"Yoo-hoo, just a second. Just what exactly were you girls planning to do about the baby?"

Blair didn't understand the question.


Natalie did understand the question and answered accordingly.

"I said I'd play with her when I finished studying."

"Well, as long as she's in OUR house, she's OUR responsibility. All of us."

Blair's excuse of ignorance had worked on Jo earlier, so she thought she'd try it on Mrs. Garrett as well.

"Mrs. Garrett, I don't have any experience with babies. Even my Tiny Tears dolls were diapered by someone else."

Jo's brain did a somersault.

'She's hopeless. If she thinks I'm going to be changing diapers all day while she's out attending luncheons and charity dinners, she can think again. Lord, what am I doing? Now she's got me thinking about the two of us having babies. Trouble, that's what she is, nothing but trouble. At least I don't have to go to that boring dinner.'

Jo walked over to Blair and wrapped her arm around her clueless girlfriend's shoulders.

"And I was really looking forward to tonight."

Once Jo acknowledged a willingness to change her plans, Natalie and Tootie were quick to follow.

"Well, maybe it'll be fun."

"Yeah. After all, how much trouble can one little baby be?"

The girls decided to take turns caring for Emily, with Jo and Blair taking the first shift. Despite being terrified at the prospect of being alone with the child, Blair hoped to convince Jo that she could take care of a baby as well as anyone. Perhaps if she could demonstrate how easy it was to take care of a baby, she could sway Jo's opinion about having children.

Blair decided to start by getting Emily's diapers ready. She didn't want little Emily to have to wait for someone to sanitize a new diaper once she had soiled an old one. Blair was feeling especially proud of herself when Jo walked into the kitchen, bouncing a very happy baby in her arms.

"You're so good with her, Jo. I don't know why she doesn't like for me to carry her."

"You're too nervous, Blair. All you have to do is relax and she'll relax. Babies can tell if you're anxious."

"How did you learn so much about babies?"

"Didn't your parents have any friends with babies? What about Alex? Didn't you ever hold her when she was little?"

Blair tried to recall her first memories of Alex Cabot.

"I think Alex might have been born already knowing how to take care of herself. She's very independent."

"Give me a break. All babies need the same things."

Blair nodded.

"Yes, changing and feeding. How complicated can it be?"

Jo sighed, handing Emily to Blair.

"Well, they need a little more than that."

"Like what?"

"Like security and love and . . . oh, yeah, lots of cuddling."

Blair's smile swept across her entire face as she nuzzled Emily close to her chest.

"I can do that. I'm great at cuddling."

Jo grinned. 'That's an understatement if I ever heard one.'

"What are you cooking?"

"I'm boiling Emily's diapers."


"I'm disinfecting them. I don't want Emily to get any germs."

Jo smacked herself in the forehead and turned around, swiftly leaving the kitchen for fear of voicing her thoughts out loud.

Jo felt guilty about making Allison appear even more irresponsible in Mrs. Garrett's eyes, but she'd rather fault Allison for not bringing enough diapers than reveal the level of Blair's incompetence. Mrs. Garrett had asked if Jo wanted to go to town with her to pick up more diapers, but Jo declined the offer. Jo didn't place any more confidence in Natalie and Tootie's babysitting abilities than she did in Blair's so she intended to keep a close eye on Emily no matter whose turn it was to watch the defenseless infant.

Once Mrs. Garrett left to buy more supplies, Jo watched as Blair softly sang to the sleeping baby. Jo was pleased to see that whatever Blair lacked in common sense, she seemed to make up for in intuition. After lulling Emily to sleep by singing to the infant, Blair sat by the baby's bassinet and watched her breathe until she opened her eyes again.

Since Jo, Nat, and Tootie loved to listen to Blair read to them at night, the expressive blonde decided to make up fairy tales to keep the baby entertained. The approach worked and Jo enjoyed watching Blair cradle the baby in her arms, using a vast array of voices to represent the various characters in the stories she told. Emily appeared to enjoy pulling at Blair's curls as much as she enjoyed listening to Blair's stories. The baby constantly grabbed Blair's hair, tangling strands of it in her tiny fists.

'That a girl, Emily. It's soft, isn't it? Heh heh, I like doing that, too. You're a smart little girl, aren't ya? You've got as tight a grip on my girlfriend's heart as you have on that strand of hair you're pulling.'

Jo rested her head on her hands; caring for Emily was exhausting and Blair's fairy tales were putting Jo to sleep.

"And so, Prince Charles, the dashing heir to the English throne, left his lovely, but average bride, and married Princess Blair and they lived happily ever after."

Emily had enjoyed Blair's fairy tales, but the baby couldn't ignore an uncomfortable diaper and began crying.

Tootie was feeling left out. They were supposed to take turns watching Emily, but Jo and Blair had been hogging the baby's attention all evening.

"Why don't we play some of my records?"

"Forget it, Tootie. There are some problems even Michael Jackson can't fix."

While Blair tried to calm the baby by making faces and cooing, Tootie thought of more creative ways to stop Emily from crying.

"I know. There's a record that makes sounds a baby hears when it's in its mother's womb."


"It sounds like waves rolling against the shore. It relaxes them."

As Tootie hovered close to Emily and began waving her arms and making wave sounds, Jo groaned.

'It's a good thing I stayed here. This poor baby wouldn't have lasted ten minutes with the three stooges taking care of her.'

Blair wasn't any more impressed with Tootie's antics than Jo.

"Great. Great. Now the baby's crying and seasick."

"Well, maybe it's her diaper."

"That can't be. Mrs. Garrett just changed it an hour ago."

Jo glared at the number one stooge.

"Blair, in baby land an hour is a long time."

Jo decided that it was time to take matters into her own hands, so she knelt before Emily to check her diaper as Natalie entered the lounge with Emily's bottle. The take-charge brunette listened as stooge two and stooge three discussed the proper way to give a baby a bottle.

"Did you check it to make sure it's the right temperature?"

"Trust me, it's fine."

"No, you have to test it on your wrist or you might burn little Emily's tongue."

When Natalie tilted the bottle over her wrist, the cap fell off, soaking both Natalie and the floor with milk.

Jo winced.

'Larry, Curly, and Mo would be proud.'

Blair, otherwise known as Curly, looked questioningly at Jo.

"Well, what's the verdict on the diaper?"

"Guilty as charged."

Blair panicked. They didn't have any diapers.

"Great. Now what are we going to do?"

"Change her."

"How are you going to do that?"

"I'll just have to wing it."

Blair hadn't felt so tingly in Jo's presence since the first night they'd met. Nothing fazed the confident girl from the Bronx. Blair almost blushed as she watched the wheels in Jo's mind forming a solution to their current problem. Jo looked around the room in search of materials she could work with.

"As soon as I find something we can use for a diaper."

Blair's tingling gave way to hysteria when she saw Jo's gaze land on her chinchilla wrap. She quickly yanked the fur from the sofa and carried it a safe distance away from her innovative girlfriend.

"Forget it, Polniaczek!"

Tootie was as incapacitated by Emily's crying as Blair. Eager to get away from the baby, she ran upstairs to look for something Jo could use as a diaper.

"Well, I'll find something."

'Hold tight, Emily. Let's see what Larry, uh, I mean Tootie, comes up with.'

Blair's hysteria was growing, irritating Jo.

"Why isn't Mrs. Garrett here when we need her?"

"Because she's out buying diapers. You ruined the last two that Allison left."

"I thought that they had to be sterilized."

'She doesn't even know how crazy she sounds.'

"Blair, you don't boil Pampers!"

Deciding that Blair needed something to keep her out of the way for a while, Jo handed her Emily's dirty diaper.

"Here, do something with this little care package."

Blair held the diaper as far away from her body as possible, barely gripping the corner with her index finger and thumb. Thankfully, Tootie arrived as Blair was leaving. The only thing she could find large enough to substitute for a real diaper was Natalie's Shaun Cassidy pillow case.

When Jo's makeshift diaper didn't stop Emily from crying and the baby refused another bottle, Jo picked the infant up and began walking back and forth with her. Once again, Blair marveled at Jo's ability to know how to soothe the baby. Blair was more convinced than ever that Jo would be a perfect mother. On the other hand, she was beginning to have serious doubts about her own maternal instincts.

Once Mrs. Garrett returned with a fresh supply of diapers and Emily was sleeping comfortably in the older woman's bedroom, Tootie and Natalie quickly prepared for bed while Jo and Blair went to the kitchen to sterilize Emily's bottles.

As they were cleaning the bottles, Blair suddenly ran from the kitchen in tears. Jo followed the distraught blonde, hoping she hadn't done anything more to upset Blair. Jo felt guilty about being so insistent that Blair stop talking about babies earlier in the evening, especially after watching Blair try so hard to take care of Emily.

When Jo found Blair in the lounge crying, she knelt before the sofa where Blair was sitting and gently took her girlfriend's hand.

"Hey, are you having a hard day?"

"I'm a disaster. How could I have ever thought that I could take care of a baby? I don't know how to do anything."

It was the opportunity Jo had been waiting for, the opportunity she had longed for, but she didn't have it within her to break Blair's heart.

"Oh, you can't think like that. All you need is a little practice."

Blair continued to sniffle.

"No, I'm hopeless. I panicked every time Emily started crying. My maternal instincts are defective."

Jo chuckled, gaining a glare from her girlfriend.

"There's nothing wrong with your maternal instincts. They just haven't matured yet. You're far too young to be thinking about having a baby. You have lots of time, Blair."

"I can't even change a diaper."

"Heh, don't you Warners have someone to do that kind of thing for you?"

Blair's eyes flashed, surprising Jo with their intensity.

"No one else is going to take care of my baby. If I can't do it myself, then I won't have one."

"Hey, I didn't mean it like that. Listen, David may not help Allison, but that doesn't mean that you won't have any help. It's okay to have help with your kids, Blair. I didn't mean that you would just pawn it off on a nanny."

Blair sighed.

"Even if I had help, there's a lot more to it than I thought. I want to be a mother, Jo, but that's not all I want to be. I've already had to give up one dream. I don't want to have to give up another one."

Jo tilted her head and studied the pensive blonde. If Blair had been giving up on her dreams, Jo figured she should have known about it. After realizing that she'd spent the last few days trying to talk Blair into giving up one dream, Jo could understand why Blair may not have shared other dreams.

"What dream have you given up?"

"Uh, it doesn't matter."


"I don't want to talk about it, Jo."


Blair felt as if everything she'd ever hoped for was slipping through her fingers. She didn't want to bother Jo with more of her drama, but she knew that Jo wouldn't relent.

"Don't laugh."

"I won't."

"I wanted to be an artist."

"Why would I laugh at that?"

"Haven't you ever heard the term, 'starving artist'? There's a reason people say that. It's not easy to eke out an income as an artist."

"Are you telling me that you've given up your dream of being an artist because you don't think you'll make much money at it?"

Blair nodded.

"How much money do you think you'll need? You already own half the planet."

Blair sighed.

"I don't own anything, Jo, my father does."

"Well, it ain't as if he's been stingy with it."

Jo's heart sank when she saw the depth of sadness in Blair's expression. Jo knew what Blair's father was capable of, but she also knew how vehemently Blair usually defended her 'Daddy'. Jo constantly struggled as to how honest she felt she could be about David Warner.

"Oh, call me crazy, but I have a feeling Daddy isn't going to be gung-ho about supporting his lesbian daughter's art career."

Jo had often thought about what she would do if David Warner tried to force his underage daughter back to a clinic or into any type of counseling. She hadn't thought beyond what she considered an immediate threat to Blair's well-being, but obviously Blair's thoughts had been on the long-term impact her sexual orientation would have on her relationship with her father.


"I'm not complaining, Jo. Daddy's always been very generous. I know he loves me, but . . . he can be a little controlling. He wants me to work for him one day, in the fashion department at his company. Don't get me wrong. I love fashion, but not the way I love painting."

Jo was more interested in finding out what had prompted Blair to look so far into the future and abandon her dream of being an artist while she was still so young than in venting her anger toward Blair's father, so she continued to press her girlfriend for information.

"Is that the reason why you decided not to take an art class this year?"

"Part of it."

Jo began nervously picking at her nails. She'd been trying to help Blair to grow up, but the girl in front of her seemed very mature.

"And when did you realize that you can't afford to be an artist without your father's help?"

"When I was in Paris."

Blair had told Jo about the young man she'd befriended in Paris and Jo had been glad that Blair had had someone to talk to, but she hadn't realized the depth of the bond her artist girlfriend had formed with her new friend.

"Hum, did you talk about this with that guy you met?"

Blair nodded.

"Does André's family support him?"

Blair nodded again.

Suddenly, in Jo's mind, André had transformed from being a sounding board for her lonely girlfriend to being a potential rival.

"Who is this guy to you, Blair? What gives him the right to tell you that you can't be an artist? Just because he chooses to live off of his parents doesn't mean that you'd have to do the same."

Blair frowned, not liking the way Jo phrased the questions.

"He's very gifted, Jo. You don't understand the level of commitment it takes to be a successful artist."

"I guess I'm not sophisticated enough to understand."

"That's not what I meant. There are lots of very talented artists in the world. Most of them never sell more than a few paintings. You have to know important people in the art world in order to get galleries to display your work. You don't socialize in those circles unless you . . . have connections."

Jo considered Blair's recent invitation to an upcoming art exhibit as evidence of Blair's desire to include Jo in that part of her life and Jo made a promise to herself to be more supportive of Blair's artistic interests.

"Would you like to know what I think?"

Blair's expression changed dramatically as she smiled affectionately at Jo and nodded.


"I think you're already an artist. Selling a painting or having one of those fancy gallery shows doesn't make you an artist, the paintings that you create, those make you an artist."

Blair's heart swelled. Jo never said anything she didn't believe and it thrilled Blair to learn that Jo considered her to be a real artist.

Seeing her girlfriend's brilliant smile, Jo decided that she should invite Blair to more of the cultural events that Blair enjoyed so much. After all, Blair had invited Jo to an auto show for their first date.

"Thank you, Jo. I know I sound overdramatic. Daddy would never leave me destitute, of course, but I learned from my mother that Daddy's generosity often comes with a price. I don't want to depend on his money. I've dragged you to enough galleries for you to have seen that socializing with the right people is just as important a part of being a successful artist as the quality of the artwork. Even then, there's not going to be a lot of profit in it."

"Blair, you and I both know that your father isn't going to be happy with our relationship. I doubt he'd be receptive to learning that you were with anyone, but if your mother is any indication, he's going to be especially upset that you're with someone like me."

Blair immediately reached for Jo's hand.

"There isn't anyone else like you, Jo. I love you and if they can't see how happy you make me, then that's their problem."

"It's your problem, too, but now that I've figured out that you really are better off with me than without me, we'll deal with it together."

"I'm not afraid of my Daddy anymore, Jo. I know you wouldn't let him lock me away again and I don't think my mother would allow it either, now that she knows more about what happened there."

As abhorrently as David Warner had treated his daughter in the past, money had been the least of Jo's concerns. At times, the protective brunette had considered Blair's father the greatest threat to her girlfriend's safety.

Now that she thought about it, Jo couldn't imagine Blair without money. To Jo's knowledge, Blair's father relished indulging his daughter's every whim. It would be difficult for anyone to walk away from the wealth and privilege that came with being David Warner's daughter. Jo suspected that it would be even more difficult for someone who had taken those advantages for granted for her entire life.

"I'm glad you're not afraid of that anymore, Blair. I guess I was so focused on the worst thing that could happen that I didn't think much about all the other things you could lose. I've seen you drawing in your sketchbook every day this semester, Blair. You're not taking an art class and you're not entering a contest, so why do you keep drawing and painting?"

Blair was visibly surprised by Jo's question.

"I don't know. It's just . . . it's what I do. It's what I've always done. It makes me feel . . . um, I can't explain it. I just know that I feel more like myself when I'm painting than at any other time."

Jo moved onto the sofa and sat beside the forlorn blonde.

"I wish you'd talked to me about this before, Blair. I know how much you love to draw and anyone can see how talented you are, but I didn't know that you had your heart set on being an artist."

Blair sighed.

"I can still paint. It might be better this way. André says that painting for others is not as satisfying as painting for your own enjoyment."

"You spent a lot of time with André, didn't you?"

"He was a good listener, Jo, and I needed someone to talk to. He knows I'm in love with you."

"I know."

Blair's expression turned anxious.

"He won't say anything about us, Jo. I was so lonely in Paris. Don't be angry."

Jo was quick to reassure her girlfriend.

"I told you before, Blair. Any time you need to talk to someone, you don't need my permission. I trust you to know who to trust."

Blair bit her lip, her eyes misting.

"Jo, I'm only seventeen, but I'm already tired of hiding who I am and how I feel. Truthfully, I don't even know if I would want to live like André. I love painting, but I'm bored with art showings and dinner parties and all the socializing that goes with it. It's not as important to me as it once was and there are things I want more."

Jo hung her head; she'd been doing much the same thing as Blair, measuring out the sacrifices she would have to make in order to have the things she couldn't live without.

"You want a family."

Blair nodded.

"I do, but not as much as I want to be with you."

Jo groaned, feeling dreadful.

"I didn't mean to make you think you had to choose, Blair. It's hard for me to talk about the future. What I have right now is more than I ever dreamed possible. I feel like I've already been given more than anyone deserves. I really don't know what I want in the future. Until I met you, I never thought that far ahead."

Jo watched as the light in Blair's eyes brightened.

"You're right, Jo. We have lots of time to think about the future. I guess I got carried away when I saw how great you were with Emily."

Jo shrugged; she'd enjoyed taking care of the infant.

"If you like, I'll teach you how to change a diaper tomorrow."

Blair kissed Jo on the cheek, enjoying the scent of baby powder which still lingered on Jo's clothing.

'And I'll start teaching her how to dream.'

Jo didn't have to wait until the next day to teach Blair to change a diaper. Blair had many opportunities to practice that same night. While Allison's three friends slept, Jo had been the one to leave her bed to check on the baby sleeping next door. Jo had been worried that the infant might be frightened in unfamiliar surroundings without the comfort of her mother.

Jo quietly entered Mrs. Garrett's dimly lit bedroom to check on Emily, but she stumbled in the dark, waking Mrs. Garrett.

"Oh, Mrs. G., I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake ya."

"Is everything all right?"

"Oh, yeah. Everything's fine. I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd check on Emily."

"When my sons were small, I used to wake up four or five times a night just to check on them. I think I stopped when they were about sixteen."

Jo smiled down at the sleeping baby. She knew that she shouldn't indulge herself, but she'd grown attached to the child.

"Y'know, the thing about babies is . . . they're so little."

Jo's protective instincts were in full swing. Emily's vulnerability drew Jo to her like a magnet. Jo lifted Emily and carried her to Mrs. Garrett's bed where the two women gazed lovingly at the beautiful child entrusted to their care.

"Hello, fellow nurse maids."

Jo wasn't surprised to see Blair at Mrs. Garrett's door. She suspected that Blair's 'Jo-dar' had gone off the minute she left their bedroom. Mrs. Garrett, unaware of Blair's 'Jo-dar', was surprised to see the pampered girl up so late.

"Blair, what are you doing up?"

"Well, I had a nightmare. I dreamt that Jo was trying to fit Emily with little, black, motorcycle booties."

Mrs. Garrett chuckled, figuring that Blair's dream wasn't very far-fetched. Jo glared at her girlfriend, wondering where someone could buy little, black, motorcycle booties.

"Hey, I'm really sorry about all this."

Blair sat on the bed beside Jo.

"I've been up all night trying to figure out a reasonable excuse for what Allison did, but there just isn't any."

Blair had already been struggling to understand Allison's actions before the flighty girl abandoned the care of her baby to her former classmates. Blair had always believed that she had been the one to pursue Allison, but looking back at how her relationship with Allie had grown beyond friendship, Blair began to imagine that Allie may have been aware of Blair's attraction to her much earlier than she had indicated and she was also beginning to suspect that Allison had used that knowledge to manipulate Blair.

While Blair was apologizing for Allison, Natalie and Tootie came into the room. When they had realized that Blair and Jo were missing, they worried that something might have happened to Emily. Once Mrs. Garrett reassured the younger girls, Natalie volunteered to heat up Emily's next bottle and Tootie volunteered to test the temperature.

As Blair rose to follow the other two girls from the room, Jo stopped her. It was as good a time as any for Blair to learn how to change a diaper.

"Oh, Blair-y-pie. We've got another little care package here for you."

Seeing that Emily was in good hands, Mrs. Garrett offered to go downstairs and make some cocoa, leaving Blair and Jo in her bedroom alone with Emily.

"Are you sure about this, Jo? Shouldn't I just watch you until I feel comfortable doing it myself?"

"The only way to learn to change a diaper is to practice."

"What if I stick her with a pin or something?"

"Blair, you don't use pins with Pampers. There is no way you can hurt Emily."

Blair pulled out several sanitary baby wipes and cleaned her hands. She made a terrible face when she opened Emily's diaper and the unpleasant odor of baby poop filled her nostrils.

"Get used to it, Princess. People are always talking about how nice babies smell, but that's what they really smell like."

Blair held her nose with one hand and disposed of Emily's diaper with the other. After being cautioned by Jo several times not to use all of the sanitary baby wipes, Blair finally considered Emily clean enough for her new diaper.

Jo felt that Blair did fairly well at her first attempt, especially given that Emily sensed that she was being changed by a rookie and kicked and squirmed throughout the process. When Emily spit up on Blair's expensive silk robe, the heiress merely wiped her shoulder, indifferent to the stain left behind. No matter how cranky the baby acted, Blair continued to soothe, cuddle, and sing to the baby until she calmed.

Jo was overwhelmed. She decided that Blair would be a wonderful mother. Anyone could learn to change a diaper. Blair was gentle and patient with Emily; those were the things that couldn't be taught. Unexpectedly, Jo didn't want Blair to give up her dream of having a family.

"Let me hold her for a while, Blair. I'll show you something."

Blair handed the infant to Jo, who sat on the edge of Mrs. Garrett's bed cooing at the baby.

"Take off my watch and dangle it in front of her. She loves it."

Blair bounced Jo's watch up and down in front of Emily, who giggled with delight.

"Go ahead and give it to her, it doesn't have any small parts."

"Is it waterproof? She keeps trying to stick it in her mouth."

Jo pulled the watch away from Emily, who screwed up her face to demonstrate her disapproval.

"Heh, heh, that's the same face Roger makes when he doesn't get his way. I'm gonna have to tease him about looking like a baby."

"What are you talking about?"

Blair leaned in close to Emily, studying her features as Jo gave the baby the watch and then withdrew it again.

"It's probably my imagination."

Blair sat on the edge of the bed beside Jo, staring blindly ahead.

"It's not your imagination. Margo has always insisted that David wasn't Emily's father and I wouldn't believe her. I couldn't believe that Allie would lie to me about something like that, much less lie to David."

Jo looked back and forth between Blair and Emily.

"Whoa, Princess. I was only teasing. Don't let your imagination run away with you."

"You don't understand, Jo. Allie told me that the one time she and David had sex was after they broke up. Margo said that David told her that he and Allie had sex while they were still dating one another."

"Why's Margo so interested?"

Blair sighed.

"Because she and David started dating one another after he and Allie broke up. In order for David to be Emily's father, he'd have had to cheat on Margo."

"Um, Margo isn't exactly the poster child for fidelity, Blair."

"I know. That's why I didn't believe her, but she swore that David was different. She told me that he was terribly shy and that she believed him when he told her that Allie was the only girl he'd ever slept with and that they'd only done it once."

"Blair, it wouldn't be the first time a couple got back together after breaking up and then realized it was a mistake."

Blair shook her head, tears forming in her eyes.

"That would make sense if Emily had been born when Allie told everyone she was due, but the baby was late, VERY late."

"That doesn't mean anything. If you think Allison may have lied about who she slept with, then you must think she is capable of lying about how many times she slept with David."

"But David told Margo that he only slept with Allie once."

"Maybe he lied. He was dating Margo at the time."

Blair rolled her eyes.

"If he was trying to impress Margo, he would have told her that he slept with everyone. Everyone knows Margo's reputation."

Jo didn't like Margo, but she respected Margo's ability to recognize a lie.

"Even if David isn't Emily's father, there's no reason to think Roger is the father."

Jo noticed Blair's general discomfort.

"What aren't you telling me?"

"I, um, walked in on Roger and Allie once. It looked like they'd . . . been together, but Allie swore that it wasn't how it looked. They had their clothes on so I just thought it must have been my imagination. Roger begged me not to tell Nancy that he'd been making out with Allie."

"When did this happen?"

Blair exhaled and stared at Emily.

"About nine months before Emily was born."

Jo leaned closer, examining the baby carefully.


Jo felt sick. After her fight with Neil, most of the boys at Bates Academy avoided Jo whenever they crossed her path. The ones who didn't looked at her with contempt. Roger Butler was the only Bates student who seemed to genuinely like Jo. He often joked with Jo and never failed to greet her with a smile or friendly gesture at parties and events. Unlike Blair's other friends, Roger wasn't being nice to Jo because of Blair or even because of Nancy.

Jo knew about Roger's reputation as a philanderer, but she'd never witnessed him doing anything more than flirting with Nancy's friends at parties. Regardless of the constant rumors surrounding his sexual exploits, Roger was unfailingly respectful and attentive toward Nancy. He made no secret of his intention to one day marry his high maintenance girlfriend and put up with relentless teasing from his friends as to how whipped he was. Jo couldn't recall a single instance when Roger hadn't gone along with whatever outrageous request Nancy made of him.

When Jo had first met Roger, Blair told her girlfriend the story of how Roger risked his life during the flood two years earlier in his effort to get to Nancy, who had insisted that he come to Eastland only minutes before the telephone service went down in their area. He arrived at their dorm shortly after Mrs. Garrett had turned down the National Guard's offer to transport the girls to higher ground. Knowing that the danger was only to their property, the feisty redhead felt that the girls would learn a good lesson by filling sand bags and protecting their dorm from the rising waters. The girls worked hard and constructed a decent flood wall, but everyone had been grateful that Roger was there to help.

They'd had to listen to Nancy talk about how her boyfriend had single-handedly saved their dorms for the rest of the school year, but Roger always downplayed his contribution. Any time someone brought up the event, Roger's patent response was to joke about how he intentionally managed to get himself trapped in a dorm full of beautiful Eastland girls.

In the end, it didn't matter how well Roger treated Nancy. Roger's cheating wasn't abuse in the same sense that Jo's mother had been abused, but from Jo's perspective it was still a kind of abuse. She regretted finding out that Roger did more than flirt with other girls, but Jo couldn't turn a blind eye to Roger's actions the way so many of her neighbors had turned a blind eye when Rose was being abused.

If Jo had realized the impact her offhand observation would make, she never would have uttered those words, but every time she looked at Emily she was more convinced that Blair's suspicions were legitimate. Anyone who took the time to look closely could clearly see that Emily Baxter was the spitting image of Roger Butler.

Throughout the night, Mrs. Garrett and the four teenagers took turns watching over their special visitor. Jo and Blair's awareness of one another became more magnified than usual, each of them surreptitiously watching the other interact with the infant. The following morning, five babysitters sleepily gathered in the cafeteria to drink cocoa and nap.

The quiet mood was broken when Allison walked in.

"Hello, everybody."

Edna Garrett rose from the table to greet the young woman who had caused such an uproar.


Allison ignored the older woman, her eyes glued to Blair.

"How's Emily?"

"Emily who?"

Jo glanced briefly at Blair. Blair was the sweetest, kindest girl Jo knew, but when it came to Monica, or any mother for that matter, Blair could be unbearably judgmental toward those she thought had failed their children. Jo answered for her girlfriend.

"She's asleep."

"I knew I left her in good hands."

Mrs. Garrett followed the young woman across the room, her concern matched by her confusion.

"Allison, where have you been all night?"

"Cooper's Rock."

Jo was the only one who knew the blaze of outrage Allison's answer would spark in Blair. Discovering that Allison had spent the night shivering in a ditch somewhere while trying to sort out some terrible emotional trauma might have made Blair somewhat receptive to forgiving her friend's reckless behavior, but finding out that Allison had spent the night on Make Out Mountain was more than Blair's temper could take.

"Cooper's Rock?!"

"I was standing in the hallway, on my way to get Emily . . . and all of a sudden I realized I was alone. For the first time in months, I was alone. The next thing I knew, I was in my car and on my way to . . . I don't know where."

Blair was furious. She could relate to Allison's desire to run away after being rejected; she'd done the same thing when she believed that Jo had rejected her in favor of Eddie, but Allison had a baby, and in Blair Warner's opinion that took away the young mother's prerogative to act impulsively.

Blair's voice barely contained her rage as she stormed toward Allison.

"Oh, that's perfect. You know, Allison, it used to be cute when you'd take off on one of your little adventures. Everybody got a real kick out of it. Well, it isn't cute anymore. It's irresponsible!"

Mrs. Garrett intervened, not because she didn't think Allison deserved a severe scolding, but because she didn't like to see Blair acting as judge and jury.

"Easy, Blair."

Mrs. Garrett's warning fell on deaf ears. Blair was angry at Allison for more than running away. She was angry because she had come to believe that Allison had deceived David into thinking that Emily was his daughter when she wasn't.

"What kind of a mother are you?!"

For the first time, Jo saw that Allison could be as fiery as Blair when provoked.

"I am a good mother! Does Emily look unhappy to you? Or mistreated? Who do you think is responsible for her? Who feeds her and bathes her? It certainly isn't David, he has college. It's me!"

Blair wasn't swayed by Allison's argument.

"We all know being a mother isn't easy."

"You don't know, Blair. You don't know anything about it."

Allison walked past Blair and glanced around the room at the other girls.

"Your life is school and friends and dances. Well, I don't have time for school."

Allison paused, looking pointedly at Jo.

"My friends have new friends and I don't see too many dances in my future."

Once Allison realized that she seemed to be speaking directly to Jo, she moved to the center of the room, glancing at the other girls.

"Do you know what I got for my seventeenth birthday? A playpen. It isn't that I wish Emily hadn't been born, I love my daughter. I just wish that she'd been born later."

Mrs. Garrett was sympathetic to the struggles of the young mother.

"I know, honey."

Allison's gaze returned to Blair.

"I guess, seeing you all here, I realized how much I missed . . . things. Dumb things like hanging out in the lounge, gym class, daydreaming about what my life will be."

Allison's voice broke with emotion as she pleaded her case and Jo stared at Blair, knowing that Allison's appeal would strike a chord with Blair. Allison couldn't have found a better way to plead for Blair's understanding.

Mrs. Garrett placed her hands on Allison's shoulders, comforting the young woman.

"Allison, I know that you've taken on a lot of responsibility early, but that doesn't mean you can't still dream. You've got a lot of life ahead of you."

Jo locked eyes with her girlfriend for a moment as they listened to Mrs. Garrett encouraging Allison to dream. Jo's smile communicated her own silent message of encouragement to Blair. Once she was certain that Blair understood, Jo turned back toward Mrs. Garrett and Allison, feeling nothing more than compassion for Blair's former girlfriend.

When Blair extended an olive branch to her friend, Jo nodded her approval.

"Allie, maybe you and Emily could spend the day here."

Mrs. Garrett was thrilled to see Blair behaving more maturely.

"That's a wonderful idea."

"I'd really like to, but I've got a ton of things to do before David gets back. I better get my daughter."

Jo magnanimously volunteered to go get Emily. By the time she returned to the cafeteria, Blair and Allison had obviously resolved their differences.

"Here she is, Allison. Fed, rested, and temporarily dry."

"Hi, sweetheart. I really missed you. I did, you know."

Jo looked wistfully at Emily. She already missed the baby girl. Jo reluctantly gave Allison the diaper bag.

"Oh, here. We laid in a fresh supply of diapers for the road."

"Thank you."

Allison scanned the concerned faces in the room.

"Hey, don't worry about us. We'll be terrific."

Once again locking eyes with Blair, she continued.

"I think I just needed a last look back . . . Blair-y-pie."

Allison approached Blair, carrying Emily. Blair kindly hugged her friend. Although she used her playful nickname for Allison, Blair's voice was laced with sadness.


Blair gently kissed Allison goodbye, grateful for the smile of understanding she received from Jo.

"What's taking you so long?"

"Hello, I was up all night taking care of your girlfriend's baby."

"She's not my girlfriend."

"She wants to be your girlfriend."

Blair waited for Jo to catch up to her. She couldn't wait to be alone with Jo. She'd always imagined what Jo would be like as a mother and now Blair had hundreds of mental pictures to fuel her imagination. From Blair Warner's perspective, the future looked brighter than ever before.

"Well, that's just too bad for Allie because I'm taken."

"You're taken? That sounds serious."

"It is, at least for me."

Jo pulled Blair into her arms, kissing her passionately. Jo's expression held no hint of humor. Her bright green eyes sparkled with intensity as she leaned forward for kiss after kiss.

As Blair breathlessly gazed into her girlfriend's eyes, Jo's mood changed abruptly.

"Race ya to the ledge."

Jo was almost to the large oak tree before Blair regained her equilibrium and started to run after her. When Jo stopped abruptly in front of the tree, Blair wondered if Jo was patronizing her because she was less athletic.

"What the hell is that?"

Once she was close enough to see what had drawn Jo's attention, Blair was shocked to see a note tied to one of the oak's branches. A lavender ribbon was wrapped around the notepaper, leaving no doubt as to who had left the note or for whom it had been written.

"So I guess we know exactly where Allie-kins spent the night and what she was doing here."

Blair groaned.

"Jo, I had no idea."

Jo didn't say anything, but the hurt that shadowed her face for a moment told Blair what Jo was thinking. Blair clutched at Jo's shoulder's forcing the confused brunette to look her in the eyes.

"It's not like that, Jo. I never invited Allie to come here. She followed me up here the day she told me that she was pregnant. It's the only time we were here at the same time. This is our special place, yours and mine."

Jo tilted her head upward, staring at the note, still dangling from the tree limb.

"She must know that you still come here. Why else would she have left a note?"

Blair watched as Jo untied the note from the branch and handed it to Blair.

"She asked me if I did. She didn't ask whether or not I still came alone."

"You don't think she knew that I'd be here with you?"

"I'm sure she noticed something between us."

Jo nervously shuffled her feet.

"I wanted her to know."

"I don't need to read Allie's note if it's going to bother you, Jo. I don't want her to come between us."

Jo gazed deeply into warm, dark eyes. She didn't doubt that Blair would toss the note over the edge of the cliff unread if Jo asked her to do it. Jo really didn't have any cause to be jealous of Allison and she begrudgingly admired Blair for having not brought up Eddie's name at all that weekend.

"You'd better read it. Your friend was a little shaky this morning. She doesn't seem all that stable to me, leaving her kid the way she did."

Blair hesitated, but decided that Jo was right. Blair couldn't risk the possibility that Allie wrote the note as a way of reaching out to Blair for help.

"Is everything okay, Blair? She's not going to hurt herself or anything, is she?"

"What? Uh, no."

"Blair, you're trembling."

Blair seemed to wake up from her trance. As soon as she regained her composure, she drew Jo into her arms and embraced her.

"What I felt for Allie was nothing compared to how I feel about you, Jo. I never knew I could care as much about anyone as I care for you."

Blair laid her head on Jo's shoulder, allowing Jo to tenderly caress her hair.

"Hey, I believe you. You don't have to tell me what's in the note."

Blair looked at the note in her hand and sighed.

"Allie tried to kiss me when we were alone in the cafeteria. At first, I didn't realize what was happening, but I figured it out in time to pull away from her before our lips touched."

Bright green eyes pierced Blair's soul.

"Do you think she ever loved David?"

"No. I know she didn't."

"Why do you think she married him? If she doesn't love him and he's not the father, then why would she want to marry him?"

Blair sighed. For a cynic, Jo could be very naïve.

"David's family is more prominent than Roger's."

"So, you think Roger is Emily's father?"

"I don't know and I don't think Allie would tell me the truth if I asked her."

"What Roger is doing is wrong. It would be different if he just made a mistake, but it sounds like he's sleeping with anyone who'll have him when he's supposed to be with Nancy. It's emotional abuse."

"Is that how you see it, what Roger is doing, what my mother does?"

Jo hadn't been thinking of Monica Warner's reputation. Roger was cheating on his girlfriend, but Blair's mother repeatedly cheated on her husbands, including Blair's father.

"I would never say anything bad about your mother, Blair."

"But it's true. Daddy was so angry with her when he found out, I was afraid he might . . . it was terrible."

This time it was Jo who reached for Blair and drew her troubled girlfriend into another embrace.

"He didn't hurt her, did he?"

"No, but it was still frightening. He was so hurt. I would never hurt anyone like that, Jo. Never."

"I know, Princess. I know."

Blair pulled away, leaving her hands on Jo's shoulders while Jo continued to rest her hands on Blair's waist.

"I should have told Nancy when I found Roger and Allie together."

"Are you going to say anything now?"

"Why? Nancy already knows that Roger cheats on her. I've tried to get her to dump him before, but she won't budge."

"Yeah, talking to my mom never did any good, either. What about Roger? I mean, what he's doing to Nancy is terrible, but what Allison did is worse. He should know that Emily might be his kid."

"We don't know that. If Roger had sex with Allie nine months before Emily was born, he should already know that he might be the father. What if we say something to Roger and it turns out that he didn't even sleep with Allison?"

"What a mess."

"I guess you think I'm pathetic, falling for a girl like Allie."

Jo grinned.

"I've kissed worse."

Blair squeezed her eyes shut in disgust.

"I don't want to know.

Jo chuckled, relieved that the tension had been broken, while allowing Blair to continue.

"I have a feeling that David must have figured out that Allie slept with someone else because he's not the kind of guy to ignore his own baby the way Allie says he ignores Emily."

"Is Allison planning to leave David?"

"No. I mean, she didn't say that."

"Then why the hell did she try to kiss you? Did she expect you to make out with her and then send her home to her family?"

Tears welled in Blair's eyes as she handed the note to Jo, who scanned the letter briefly.

"She's going to stay with a man she doesn't love and pretend that she's someone she isn't. She apologized for trying to kiss me. Oh, Jo, she's made such a mess of things."

Jo frowned as she read Allie's letter.

"Not everyone is as brave as you are, Blair."

Blair shook her head.

"No. I'm just fortunate enough to have more to gain by being true to myself than I have to lose."


"You, Jo. I'm talking about you."

Jo grinned.

"Oh, yeah. 'Cause I'm gonna rock your world, right?"

Blair leaned forward and kissed her girlfriend passionately.


Post Series Flash Forward: Tootie Returns to Peekskill

Blair noticed Jo's slight limp as they walked the short distance from Bailey's bedroom to their own, making her realize how stressful the day had been for her partner. Blair had been with Jo during every physical therapy session after the resilient brunette was injured. Jo's supportive partner had also enrolled in massage therapy classes and read every article written related to spinal fractures so she was well aware of the pain Jo dealt with and concealed on a regular basis. The only time Jo subconsciously let down her guard and displayed any level of impairment was when she was under emotional strain or stress.

"Why don't you get out of that wet swimsuit while I run some water into the tub, Jo? It's been a long time since you were on the back of a horse."

Jo grunted, but nodded her agreement. She watched as Blair walked back and forth from the closet to the tub and smiled when she saw that Blair had placed two thick bathrobes beside the tub instead of one.

"Thank you for not saying 'I told you so'. I know E.J. would have been just as happy if I'd stayed by the fence and watched her, but I didn't want to be left behind when the rest of you rode out. It really wasn't that bad."

Blair gave Jo her 'I know better' look and Jo shrugged.

"Okay, wheels provide a much smoother ride, but everything I've done hurt worse when I first started."

Blair stopped in front of her lover, holding a bottle of bath oil in one hand and a towel in the other.

"I don't know why you insist on arguing with me when all I did was ask if you wanted to take a bath instead of a shower."

"Well, you looked at me."

"I looked at you?"


Blair walked over to their whirlpool bath, checked the water temperature and turned on the jets.

"Get your argumentative ass into this tub so that I can help work some of the soreness out of your back. I thought you were going to swim laps in the pool tonight to stretch out those muscles."

"Hello, dripping wet swimsuit?"

"Throwing our daughter and Marie into the air as if they were pool toys is not the kind of exercise you needed."

Jo eased into the water, grateful for the warmth.

"Nag, nag, nag."

"Shut up and lean forward or I'll look at you again."

Jo obediently leaned forward and allowed Blair to knead the spot where all her tension normally gathered.

"God, that feels good."

"You're not as tight as I thought you might be. How does your leg feel?"

Jo worked hard to prevent others from noticing her injuries, but she'd given up trying to spare Blair the truth.

"It hurts, but I don't regret the ride."

"Good. I miss riding with you. Perhaps we can schedule a few short rides over the next couple of months. Short rides. I don't want you doing anything as taxing as what we did today."

"Mmm, that'd be nice."

Even as Blair pampered Jo with a massage, she knew how important it was that she encourage Jo to push the boundaries of her abilities. Blair knew Jo's limitations as well as Jo, probably better, and she'd learned that Jo needed to have her confidence boosted more than she needed coddling.

"Want some company?"

"Heh, I thought you'd never ask."

Blair slipped into the water behind Jo and resumed the task of massaging Jo's back and neck.

"Are you ready to tell me why you've been avoiding Dorothy this week?"

"I haven't been avoiding her. I've been around her as much as you have."

"She's been trying to catch you alone since she first arrived. Don't you remember how anxious she was to talk to you by the pool that first night?"

"I'm not going to apologize for calling you over. She was leading up to asking me a bunch of personal questions. She never asked me any personal questions when we lived together. I don't understand why she waited fifteen years to get curious about us."

Blair laughed.

"She's always been curious, she's just been too afraid to ask you anything."

Jo groaned.

"I must be getting soft, then, because she wouldn't shut up about Eddie this afternoon."

"Is that why you left her in the kitchen by herself, because she was asking personal questions?"

Jo snorted her disapproval of their conversation, but was enjoying the massage too much to sound convincing.

"She's obsessed with Eddie. It's irritating as hell."

Blair giggled and nuzzled the back of Jo's neck before placing a tender kiss below the grumpy brunette's earlobe.

"Finally, someone agrees with me. Jo, Dorothy has been irritatingly lovesick over Eddie Brennan since she first laid eyes on his photograph. If she hadn't already been married to Jeff when Eddie divorced, I swear I would have tried to set them up on a date."


"I'm just agreeing with you that her adoration of Eddie is and was irritating."

"Well, I didn't tell her anything about Eddie and me back then and I don't plan to tell her anything now."

Blair leaned close to Jo's ear and whispered.

"I loved him, too. Anyone would understand why she thinks you made the wrong choice, Jo."

Jo's words might have sounded combative if her voice hadn't equaled Blair's in its gentle softness.

"It wasn't a choice, Blair. You owned my heart the moment we met."

Jo turned her head and looked at her partner, thinking how surprised Tootie would be at the many ways Blair catered to her seemingly stronger partner.

"It makes me mad when she asks ignorant questions. She should know better. I know she hasn't seen us in a long time, but sometimes she acts like she only found out that we were lesbians a couple of weeks ago. I don't ask her personal questions."

Blair nudged Jo's chin in the opposite direction so that she could properly massage Jo's neck.

"You don't ask anyone personal questions, Jo. It's one of your most wonderful and most irritating qualities. It's admirable that you have no interest in hearing or spreading gossip, but sometimes people can get the impression that you aren't interested in them if you don't ask them about what's going on in their lives. Maybe you should ask Dorothy some personal questions just so she'll know that you care."

"Well, if I was going to ask her some personal questions, which I'm not promising that I'm going to do, what would you like to know?"

Blair pulled Jo backwards until the highly relaxed brunette was lying in her arms.

"I'd like to know if she took the time to talk to her daughter about homosexuality before bringing her into our home."

"Huh? If you're talking about Beverly's rude behavior, I don't see a connection. You and I work with teenagers. You know how cruel they can be at that age. What happened tonight was inexcusable, but —."

"Jo, Beverly wasn't rude to Tiffany. She was respectful toward Nancy and Roger. She's incredibly polite toward Edna and Beverly Ann. The only people she's insulted are members of our family. She's repeatedly referred to Eastland as Rainbow Academy, which I know isn't very original and I'm sure our children have heard it before, but I don't like it. That child is not angry in general, she's angry at us."

Jo thought quietly while Blair lightly ran her fingers up and down Jo's arms, giving her partner time to consider what she'd said.

"You'd have been a great detective, Blair."

"Hmm, I learned from the best."

"Okay, Nancy Drew, what else has Beverly been doing that I don't know about?"

"Well, you know how E.J. and Marie like to hold hands when they're walking?"

Blair didn't need to say more, she could see Jo's jaw working and predicted that she was going to have to give Jo another rubdown before bed.

"You don't think that . . . Tootie —? I mean, I just figured all that talk about Eddie was because she was so infatuated with him. Now that he's gone, she's bound to remember him in an even rosier light."

"Of course not. Tootie doesn't have a homophobic bone in her body. I'm wondering what Beverly may have learned from her father."

"Jeff? He didn't seem to have a problem having lesbian bridesmaids in his wedding."

Blair laughed.

"He wanted to marry Tootie Ramsey and he would certainly have known that she'd have dumped him in a heartbeat if he had rejected her best friends."


"Yes, really. Tootie loves you, Jo. She loves me, too, but she sometimes doesn't like me very much."

Blair stopped teasing Jo's arms and began playing with her lover's fingers.

"Do you remember the first time we met Raymond Garrett?"


"Before we were scheduled to meet him, Edna called me at Langley and asked if she could tell him about us, that we were a couple. She wanted to know how he felt about lesbians and she wanted to tell him what she thought before she introduced us to him."

"He never said anything to me."

"He didn't need to, Jo. Our sexual orientation was irrelevant to him. The point is that Edna's son was an adult and she still considered it a good idea to talk to him privately about us before potentially exposing us and him to an awkward situation. She talked to Alex, too. Even though he'd already met us she wanted to have a conversation with him before throwing us all together again once you and I were open about our relationship."

"Well, obviously Beverly knows that we're lesbians."

"That's what I don't understand. It's as if she's been given a lot of facts without any explanations. Why does Beverly know things about my mother that I haven't even shared with my own children? Why does she think that she can tease E.J. about having inherited lesbianism, steal Bailey's horse, and disrespect us in general without being reprimanded by either of her parents? Does that not strike you as odd? That child has some strange ideas about us and I'm sure she didn't get them from Tootie."

Jo gripped Blair's fingers and held them still, turning her head enough to lock eyes with her partner.

"I'll talk to Tootie, Blair. I'll talk to Jeff and Beverly, too, if I think it's necessary. Okay?"

"Maybe I'll find out more tomorrow. You haven't forgotten that we're all scheduled to work at Edna's Edibles."

Jo groaned.

"What's the theme?"


"Is Garrett going?"

"I didn't give him a choice. We're ALL going."

"Sorry, Princess. I have to go to the motorcycle shop. I'm being sued."


"Yeah, I'll bring you the paperwork tomorrow night. It's a good thing I'm shacking up with a lawyer, given the amount of legal fees I'd otherwise rack up."

"I'll miss you tomorrow. I like seeing you in your tropical shirt and shorts."

"Heh, did you get outfits for Tootie and Beverly, too?"

"Beverly is going into the city with Jeff, but Tootie and Natalie will both be working. I know you hate these things, Jo, but if you can get away for a little while I'm sure Edna would love to see all four of us working in her shop again."

"I'll try to stop by the shop and I'll try to talk to Tootie sometime before she leaves."

"Thanks, Jo. I have this terrible feeling that if Tootie leaves Peekskill this coming weekend and things are still like they are now . . . we'll never see her again."

"I don't want to lose Tootie's friendship, either. I'll ask her every personal question I can think of, Princess. I'll answer her questions, too, no matter how uncomfortable they make me feel."

Blair's kiss was all the incentive Jo needed to overcome her reluctance to speak privately with Tootie.

"Y'know, Natalie called me an emotional chicken when I had a heart-to-heart talk with her."

Blair giggled.

"She told me. I think she also accused you of being wishy-washy."

"I'm still mad at you for leaving me alone with her the weekend she lost her virginity. It was terrible. She kept asking me what I thought about Snake and about sex and when I knew I was in love for the first time. It was awful."

"How was I supposed to know she was going to sleep with Snake that weekend? She told me that you said, and I quote, "sex does weird things to people sometimes". I'm surprised she didn't hit you over the head with something. I wish I had been there. I'd have tracked Snake down, marched his ass up to Natalie's room, and locked them inside until they figured things out. I'm still not sure why you didn't do something."

"It wasn't my place. Natalie was a grown woman. I'm not gonna go sticking my nose into other people's business."



"Do you want to sample my new bath oil or not?"

"That depends on what you plan to do with it."

"I was planning to massage it into your back. Did you have something else in mind?"


Blair leaned forward, taking a sidelong look at Jo's face.

"You're blushing."

"I am not, the water's too hot."

Blair pinched her lover.

"Are you sure it's the water that's too hot?"

"If I admit that you're hot, will you finish my back massage in bed? The water is turning me into a prune."

"On one condition."


"When Edna makes me put a basket of fruit on my head tomorrow, you can't laugh."

"Can I quietly snicker, just a little?"

"You're going to laugh your head off, aren't you?"

Jo chuckled.

"Probably, but you'll be the hottest fruit salad in town."

"I have a picture of you dressed in a bunny suit at my twenty-first birthday party."

Jo moaned.

"Okay, I promise not to laugh at your fruit hat."

Part 11

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