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 9. 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.
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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To FOLfan[at]ymail.com
9: Blair-y-pie and Allie-kins
Tootie and Natalie snickered and whispered to one another when they saw Blair enter the cafeteria. Blair had taken longer than usual to get dressed that morning, wanting to look her best for Allison's visit. Tootie lifted her eyebrows and smirked at her roommate.
"Don't plan on stealing any strawberries this morning, Blair. I told you that it was rude to take something from Jo's plate and not even eat it."
Blair glanced over to the table where Jo was eating breakfast. Blair often made fun of Jo's table manners, but the sometimes crude brunette didn't normally hover over her plate with her elbows on the table. Jo looked as if she expected a tribe of savages to try to swipe her food.
Blair rolled her eyes at Tootie and Natalie.
'Go ahead and laugh, I'll teach you to make fun of me.'
Blair prepared a waffle and placed a scoop of strawberries on top, and then she sat down beside Jo.
"Good morning, Jo."
Jo leaned forward, protecting her food.
Natalie and Tootie, who had finished breakfast, sat across from their older roommates, curious to see Blair's reaction to being snubbed by Jo.
"Hey, Jo. Look at this."
Jo turned to Blair, her jaw dropping when she saw the plump strawberry Blair was holding and realized it was already on her lips. Blair smiled as she gently pushed the strawberry into Jo's mouth, her fingers lightly grazing Jo's tongue.
"See, I can share, too."
Jo would have attempted to forestall her blush, but breathing seemed more important at the time and it was difficult to breathe with a strawberry lodged in her throat. The startled brunette swallowed hard as she watched Blair lick the juice from her fingertips. Natalie and Tootie were even more dumbfounded than Jo, the amused expressions they had worn earlier were quickly replaced by looks of total bewilderment.
Blair used her sweetest tone as she leaned forward and gazed into Natalie's eyes.
"Would you like one, too, Nat?"
"Uh . . . uh, no, I've already eaten."
"What about you, Tootie? See anything you'd like to try?"
"I'm good, thanks."
Tootie looked at Natalie, hoping her best friend would clue her in to what was happening, but Natalie was already walking toward the kitchen, mumbling.
"Water. I need a drink of water."
Blair giggled as Tootie ran after Natalie.
"Serves them right, the little pests. You know that they've been watching us, right?"
Jo didn't reply, she just sat in her chair staring at Blair.
"You have a little strawberry juice on your chin, Jo. Would you like me to get it with my napkin?"
Jo dropped her utensils on her plate and stared mutely at the napkin Blair was holding. When it looked as if Blair might actually try to wipe Jo's chin, Jo fought frantically to regain the power of speech.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Blair pretended innocence.
"The same thing I've done hundreds of times before. I thought you liked it."
"We were alone when you did that and I can wipe my own damn chin."
Blair leaned forward and whispered.
"Sorry, I thought you might have dribbled a little on purpose. I know you're not as messy an eater as you pretend when we picnic on Cooper's Rock. I always suspected you spilled so much just because you like for me to help you tidy up."
"Geez, Blair. We're in the middle of the cafeteria."
"So? We have another half hour before Mrs. Garrett opens up for the other students. Even if we didn't, no one ever comes for breakfast on the weekends."
"What are Nat and Tootie gonna think?"
Jo put her hands on top of her head and stared at the ceiling.
"Are you going to tell me that I'm crazy again? I thought you got all of that out of your system last night."
"You're supposed to be angry at me."
Blair smiled, amused by Jo disoriented responses.
"No, I was out of line last night. I shouldn't have made you look at my old baby pictures. You were probably bored to tears."
"That's not . . . I mean, I thought you were a cute baby."
Blair's face lit up, her smile spreading to her eyes.
"Thank you, Joey. I'm glad we've made up with one another. Would you like another strawberry?"
"Stop doing that! What's gotten into you? Do you want people to talk about us?"
"What would they say? That Blair Warner shared some of her strawberries with Jo Polniaczek? For someone who's always accusing me of being self-centered, you take the cake. No one is going to alert the media if they see me being nice to you, Jo. I can be nice, you know."
"Then you're not upset with me about last night?"
"I wasn't upset."
"And you really thought my baby pictures were cute?"
Jo quickly scanned the cafeteria even though she knew they were alone.
"Sure. All babies are cute."
Blair clapped her hands together with glee, stood up, and gathered her breakfast tray.
"I knew you felt that way, Joey, I just knew it."
"Huh? The way I feel about what? Wait. What were we talking about?"
When Jo looked down at her plate, she realized that she'd been staring so intently at Blair that she hadn't noticed that Blair had managed to move all of her strawberries onto Jo's waffle.
'What just happened? Why is she so happy? I told her that she was crazy. I distinctly remember telling her that she was crazy. She can't possibly still think that I'd . . . that we'd . . . damn.'
Most girls would be worried sick if their current girlfriend and their former 'almost girlfriend' were going to come face to face with one another within the hour, but Blair Warner wasn't like most girls.
"I don't get it. You invite your friend Allison up here for lunch and she gets a feast. When my friend Darlene comes from the Bronx, all she gets is a Twinkie."
Blair smiled sweetly in response to her girlfriend's complaint, as if the answer was obvious. Allie wasn't just another visitor, she was a former student and friend. Reinforcing Blair's opinion, Natalie attempted to explain the difference to Jo.
"This is an occasion. It's the first time Allison has had a chance to come up and visit since she got married."
Jo rolled her eyes and continued cleaning up the cafeteria as Tootie joined the 'Allison Love Fest'.
"I can't wait to see her baby."
'Great, now Tootie's gonna start in with the baby talk. In my old neighborhood, girls who got knocked up didn't get a party when they came back home to visit.'
"I can't believe one of your stuck up friends actually had a baby. I thought you had people do that for ya."
'Wait until she sees that baby. She'll see how much fun it is to have a cute little baby around the house.'
Blair's mother had taught her that sometimes the best strategy in uncomfortable situations was to say as little as possible so Blair kept her thoughts to herself and smiled, allowing Natalie to carry the conversation.
"Jo, you're gonna love Allison."
'What are you, Blair's life-sized ventriloquist dummy?'
"Remember when Allison used to sneak off to Cooper's Rock just to watch the sunrise? That was so neat."
Blair inwardly cringed upon hearing Tootie's comment. Blair's strategy of saying as little as possible wasn't going to work if her friends kept blurting out information that Jo didn't need to know.
'Please, please, please be on the other side of the room.'
Blair's silent pleas went unanswered and she heard Jo shuffle to a stop beside her. Blair was already figuring out how she was going to explain Allison's fascination with Cooper's Rock when Natalie added her two cents' worth.
"And skinny dipping in the lake, what a pistol."
'I'm going to strangle her. How am I going to explain skinny dipping? If Natalie mentions our camping trip, I'll kill her.'
Blair glanced at Jo, who shrugged apathetically.
"It'll be great having Allison around this afternoon."
When Jo didn't respond, Blair decided to risk further investigation. Despite Jo's currently surly attitude, she had been surprisingly agreeable about Allie's visit, but Blair reasoned that Tootie's mention of Cooper's Rock might spark her girlfriend's imagination.
"If only she wasn't married, she could go on that double date with me tonight."
Instead of the jealous reaction Blair had feared, Jo quickly agreed to back out of the dinner date.
"Hey, if you don't want me to go, I won't go."
Blair, hastily adjusting to Jo's unexpected response, chased after Jo to make sure her girlfriend knew that she wasn't serious about taking Allie to the dinner.
"You can't back out now. It's a charity dinner at the country club and your name is already on your nut cup."
"Can't you find somebody else?"
'No, no, no, no, no!'
"You gave me your word, Jo. Isn't there some kind of code of the Bronx or something?"
Jo made a face, trying to keep from laughing at Blair's assumptions about the often flexible moral compass Jo had developed in the Bronx. A compass Blair seemed to recognize, but failed to comprehend.
'The code of the Bronx, that'll do it. She always falls for that.'
"All right, I'll go, but remember it's a favor not a date, a favor."
Blair obediently nodded, finding Jo's insistence that the evening be reclassified as a favor instead of a date somewhat childish, but relieved that her reckless inquiry hadn't caused Jo to back out of their date altogether.
Allison Baxter checked her makeup one last time before placing her compact into her purse. She took her time gathering her daughter's things, not wanting to enter the cafeteria ahead of schedule and appear too eager. The last thing Allison wanted was for Blair to sense her desperation. It was the first time the young mother had been back to her former school since discovering that she was pregnant. She had taken her carefree lifestyle while attending Eastland for granted and marveled at how different her life had become since marrying David.
Blair had mentioned Eastland's new security system in her most recent letter, but as she had waited for the campus security officer to allow her to enter the campus, Allison had been shocked by the number of security enhancements she noticed.
Allison shook her head as she gazed out the window of her car. When she'd first been told that Blair Warner not only was working in the Eastland cafeteria, but also had been forced to give up her dorm room and share a room with three other students over the cafeteria, Allison had been horrified. She'd immediately written Blair a letter expressing her sympathy. 'I should have known when her response to my letter was so cheerful that something was wrong.'
Subsequent letters, though they were few, had confirmed Allison's suspicions that Blair was infatuated with her new roommate. Allison had gathered more information about Jo Polniaczek from Blair's letters than she had gleaned about Blair. Regardless of the glowing depiction of Jo in Blair's letters, it had never occurred to Allison that Blair might act on an infatuation with someone so inappropriate until after she'd spoken with Sue Ann.
Allison rolled her eyes as she recalled the phone call she had received from Sue Ann shortly after manipulating Blair into inviting her to visit Eastland. Sue Ann was always attempting to represent herself as more socially prominent than she was and Allison felt sure that the hillbilly was only calling her so that she would be able to tell their friends that she had also spoken with Allison, implying a more intimate friendship than the two girls actually shared. Allison had never thought Sue Ann belonged in their circle of friends and had been amazed when Blair introduced the Midwestern hick to Tumpy. Despite Blair's pretense at snobbery, Allison felt Blair was far less discriminating in her selection of friends than she should be.
The good thing about the phone call was that Sue Ann had been a font of information, but Allison wasn't sure she could depend on Sue Ann's perceptions. Sue Ann often exaggerated the truth as much as she exaggerated her cheerfulness. Even if some of the things Sue Ann had told her were embellishments, some rang too true to be doubted. When Sue Ann had told Allison that Margo referred to Jo as Blair's guard dog, she'd laughed, but anyone capable of inciting Margo's jealousy over Blair was someone who could hinder Allison's efforts to renew her special friendship with the heiress.
Allison sighed. In her worst nightmares, she had never imagined that another Eastland student would be brazen enough to proposition Blair. She was certain that Margo was the only one who suspected that Blair would be receptive to overtures from another girl and Allison had been very successful in undermining their friendship by keeping Blair away from Margo. How could Allison have known that a brash Bronx hoodlum would ride into Eastland and be arrogant enough to pursue Blair?
It was only a suspicion, but Allison believed that where there was smoke there was fire, and the smoke surrounding Jo Polniaczek and Blair Warner was suffocating.
Allison gazed lovingly at her baby, admiring the adorable child's features.
"Blair is going to swoon over you, sweetheart. Be good for Mommy, because it's show time."
Most girls would be worried sick if their girlfriend invited her former 'almost girlfriend' to visit her, but Jo Polniaczek wasn't like most girls. Jo sometimes felt as if she'd walked into an alternate universe the day she set foot on Eastland's campus, but nothing in her life had ever felt as real as Blair Warner's steadfast love and affection.
As confident as she was in Blair's commitment to her, Jo couldn't help but feel her stomach roll when Blair's silly friend Allison entered the cafeteria.
'Geez, Louise, could you be any cheesier?'
As Blair and Allison embraced and kissed one another on the cheek, Jo accidentally spoke her thoughts.
"I'm gonna throw up."
Allison was so thrilled to receive a kiss on the cheek from Blair upon her arrival that she almost missed the crude remark made by the girl Allison assumed to be Jo Polniaczek. Going by Blair's letters, Allison had half expected Jo to look like a gorgeous, six foot tall Amazon and was pleased to see that she looked rather ordinary, in Allison's opinion. She was also pleased to note that Sue Ann hadn't overstated Jo's gruff personality.
Jo stood in the background as Mrs. Garrett and all three roommates fawned over Blair's former girlfriend and her baby.
'You'd think that baby was royalty the way they're fussing over it. It's not nearly as cute as Blair's baby pictures.'
Edna Garrett smiled affectionately at the former Eastland student. It had been a long time since Edna had cared for an infant and she couldn't wait to get a closer look at the bundle Allison was carrying.
"Allison, you look wonderful. Let me see that baby."
"Mrs. Garrett, you are not going to believe this, but I have been dreaming about your banana bread."
'Oh yeah, suck up to Blair's mother figure. I'm on to you, Allie-kins.'
"You will not leave here without that recipe today."
Allison was pleased with how well her visit was going. Mrs. Garrett still loved being complimented on her cooking and Blair was still inexplicably attached to the school's nutritionist.
Jo couldn't believe the way Mrs. Garrett catered to Blair's snotty friend. It was one thing to hear Blair's friend trying to ingratiate herself with Mrs. G., but it was something entirely different to watch Mrs. G. fall for the act.
Still taken aback by Mrs. Garrett's behavior, Jo was dealt another surprise, this time by Blair.
"Oh, Emily is beautiful."
'Emily? What the hell?'
Jo wasn't surprised by Blair's enthusiastic admiration of the baby. Blair had been talking non-stop about babies since Allison had called earlier in the week. What caught Jo off guard was the baby's name. One of the first things Jo had discovered about her girlfriend was Blair's love of Emily Dickinson. Jo Polniaczek didn't believe in coincidences and reassessed the girl who she now realized considered herself a rival for Blair's affection.
Jo didn't demonstrate her possessive attitude toward Blair as often as the insecure blonde felt the need to signal the world that she and Jo shared a unique bond, but when Blair wrapped her arm around Allison's waist and gushed that her former friend looked great, Jo's territorial instincts kicked into gear.
'That's enough, Princess. I know you like the attention she's giving you, but you'd better remember that I'm standing right behind you.'
Encouraged by the warmth of Blair's hand on her waist, Allison began to wonder if she'd misinterpreted Blair's relationship with her new roommate. They didn't seem as close as Allison had been led to believe. Jo hadn't even spoken since her initial outburst and seemed to be content to remain in the background.
It was a good thing the other girls and Mrs. Garrett formed a circle around Allison and her baby, freeing Blair from Allison's clutches, otherwise Jo might have blown a fuse. The old Jo, the gang member Jo, would have ripped Allison's head off by now, but the new and improved Jo stood on the sidelines seething, so focused on mentally counting that she only caught fragments of the conversation.
"We missed you, Allison."
'Blair must not have been the only object of one of Natalie's friendship crushes. Next thing, Nat will just fall down and kiss Allie-kins' feet.'
"I'm glad to hear that. I was afraid, out of school, out of mind."
Jo felt dizzy when she heard the sincerity of Blair's soft reply.
"Not you, Allison."
Allison's heart lurched and for the first time in months she felt optimistic about her future. She'd given up too much when she left Eastland and had almost given up hope that she could get some of it back, but her confidence soared under the warmth of Blair's affectionate gaze.
'Give me a break, Blair. You don't even see me standing here, do ya? You muffin-headed, over-privileged, Allie-kins-lovin' traitor. It'll be a cold day in hell before I give you another one of my strawberries.'
Allison watched as Blair played with Emily's feet, gratified by the affectionate way Blair treated her daughter. She hoped Blair would recall the first time they'd kissed, when she had pointed out the goose bumps on her arm to Blair and they'd laughed.
"I'm so excited. You know I actually got goose bumps driving through the Eastland gates."
Jo's anger toward Allison was in full bloom.
'Yeah, and I know who gave you those goose bumps.'
"I just get a rash."
Jo had grown tired of watching her roommates and Mrs. Garrett gawk at Allison and her baby and decided to make her presence known. It was obvious that Blair, who was more likely to forget her name than her manners, wasn't going to introduce her new girlfriend to her old one.
It wasn't the smoothest way to get into the conversation, but Jo was tired of being ignored. Much to Jo's surprise, it was Mrs. Garrett, not Blair, who finally made the introductions.
"Oh, Allison, you haven't met Jo Polniaczek."
Allison presented Jo with her most courteous smile, knowing how much weight Blair attributed to good manners. When Allison politely extended her hand, Jo took it.
"Hi, Jo, Blair's told me all about you."
Jo nodded and smiled, pleased that Blair had referred to Jo in her letters to Allison.
"Nice to meet ya anyway."
Allison had intended for her remark to give Jo the impression that she and Blair were so close that Blair shared everything with her, but Jo's self-deprecating response exuded a confidence which caught Allison off guard. Jo Polniaczek didn't seem at all concerned that she knew less about Allison than Allison knew about her, which could only mean . . . that Blair had confided the details of their relationship to Jo.
As Allison interacted with the other girls, Jo stepped back again, studying the young mother. Like Blair, she was dressed in the latest style. Their tastes were so similar that Allison could have taken her outfit, including the boots, straight out of Blair's closet. Like Blair, her entire ensemble was perfectly coordinated, right down to the ribbons in her hair and the color of her nail polish. Jo could see why Molly thought the two girls were so perfectly matched.
'Shows how much the little redhead knows. Blair could never be happy with a Warner Wannabe.'
Allison thought she had sufficiently prepared herself to meet the already legendary Jo Polniaczek, but she had underestimated the tough Bronx native. It was dawning on Allison that Jo was only content to remain in the background because she didn't feel threatened by Allison. As receptive as Blair seemed to Allison's overtures, Jo didn't appear rattled in the least.
Jo had attempted to prepare herself for Allison's visit, but nothing could have prepared her for the spectacle of 'Blair-y-Pie' and 'Allie-kins'. Allison not only insisted on using the sickeningly cute nickname for Blair, she couldn't seem to keep her hands off of Jo's astonishingly receptive girlfriend.
It wasn't only the physical contact between Blair and Allison that bothered Jo; it was Allison's efforts to demonstrate how close she was with Blair. Allison often took pleasure in completing Blair's sentences, a tactic Jo had seen Blair use on more than one occasion when she wanted one of the many younger students, who sometimes became besotted with Jo, to back away from the popular brunette.
Jo wasn't the kind of girl to let her imagination run away with her, so she had to wonder if anyone else noticed the longing looks Allison kept giving Blair or the constant touching. Sometimes Jo still felt like an imposter at Eastland. She often woke up disoriented, momentarily believing she had never left the Bronx. If Jo had met Allison a year earlier, when Jo had felt more like an interloper, Allison's camaraderie with Blair might have made Jo run away from the wealthy heiress, but Jo and Blair had overcome too many obstacles for Jo to give up so easily.
'If she thinks she can walk in here and dangle that cute little baby in front of Blair and make my princess forget who she's really in love with, then she's more of a ditz than my goofy girlfriend.'
Allison was careful not to appear as if she was complaining when she answered Mrs. Garrett's questions about her husband, David. She didn't want to reveal how much she resented the fact that David hadn't had to put his education and friendships on hold as she had. Everyone, meaning her parents and the Baxters, had agreed that David's education came first, which meant that Allison need not expect to continue her education until David completed medical school. Allison had no intention of putting her life on hold for so long a time for a man who barely tolerated her and her baby.
Jo wondered if Natalie really thought her reference to Tammy Wynette's country classic, Stand By Your Man, was a compliment, as it was presented. Natalie's sense of humor was usually more straightforward, but Jo had noticed that Natalie sometimes disguised sarcasm with humor in situations where she felt unable to express her honest opinions.
Jo was listening to the conversation, but her eyes rarely left Emily. She felt a responsibility to look after the infant, since everyone else seemed too busy focusing on Allison to pay what Jo considered an appropriate amount of attention to the baby.
"Something's wrong with her."
Jo frowned, exasperated that she had to point out to Allison that her baby was being fussy.
"Oh, she's just ready for a nap."
'This girl doesn't know any more about how to take care of a baby than Blair.'
"You're welcome to put her down in my room, Allison."
"Thank you, Mrs. Garrett, that'll be perfect. She can nap while I catch up with Blair . . . and Natalie and Tootie, too, of course."
'Well at least she remembered that Natalie and Tootie were in the room. I'm on to your games, Miss Allie-kins. My girlfriend is a master manipulator and if she can't maneuver me to do what she wants then you don't stand a chance in hell of getting anything over on me.'
Jo grunted loud enough to draw both Blair and Allison's attention. She wasn't about to give Allie-kins the impression that she'd accomplished her goal of inserting a wedge between Jo and Blair.
"I'm gonna work on some things I've been meaning to fix for Mrs. G. in her room. It'll give me a chance to help her out with the baby. I wouldn't want her to feel like she has to spend her whole afternoon being the only one to watch over Allison's little girl."
Jo smiled at Allison.
"Don't worry about Emily. Mrs. G. and I will take good care of her."
Blair almost giggled. She was so impressed with Jo's performance. Of course, she credited her own influence on Jo for Jo's ability to respond to Allie's openly flirtatious behavior with words instead of her fists.
Allison smiled sweetly, but inwardly fumed at the egotistical brunette. She had assumed that Blair's interest in the cocky former gang member was based solely in curiosity. Allison had considered that Blair might have been amused by Jo's lack of manners and intrigued by her edgy background, but it was obviously much more. The phenomenal level of silent communication the two girls shared was depressing, but the trust they apparently placed in one another was what Allison found most troubling.
Sue Ann's description of Jo had been woefully inadequate. She'd implied that the outsider had formed a tight bond with Blair, but she'd also told Allison that Jo had tried to kiss Cindy. While Allison could see the attraction, she had assumed that Jo had approached the other blonde after realizing that Blair was out of her league. Allison had quickly revised her assumption upon meeting Jo. Jo Polniaczek was much too brash to ever settle for second best. Worse, she was not the sort of girl to be with anyone for whom she was second choice.
Blair's behavior, as always, was more difficult to interpret. Blair too often allowed her heart to rule her brain, but Allison believed Eastland's most popular student could still be cunning and masterfully deceptive when she considered her behavior justified.
Allison's heart lurched when Jo nodded to Natalie and Tootie as she left the room, prompting them to give Blair and Allison an opportunity to be alone. Allison was certain by this time that Jo was well aware of the full extent of her relationship with Blair so she was completely baffled by Jo's lack of concern at leaving Blair alone with her old girlfriend.
Just as Allison was about to attribute Jo's blasé attitude to over-confidence, she caught a glimpse of the brunette winking at Blair as she escorted her younger roommates from the cafeteria. There was one piece of Sue Ann's advice that Allison knew she should take. Sue Ann had warned Allison that if she wanted to remain friends with Blair, she could never say anything negative about Jo.
"I can see why you like her so much."
"Jo. I can see why you're so attracted to her."
"I . . . um, it's not like that, Allie."
Despite her denials, Blair's smile had lit the room when Allie complimented Jo.
"Come on, Blair. If you can't tell me, who can you tell? I'm glad you have Jo to keep you company. I'm a little surprised that you're so open about it."
"It's kind of obvious. Surely Margo has noticed."
Blair didn't like the implication and gave Allie a taste of her own medicine.
"Margo is very observant. After all, she noticed your attraction to me."
Blair thought she was delivering new information, but Allie's knowing smirk signaled otherwise.
"Margo Roberts is so in love with you that she can't imagine anyone NOT being attracted to you."
"Margo isn't like that."
"Neither are we, darling. A few innocent kisses doesn't make us gay, but you're playing with fire if you're tapping into that tantalizing new roommate of yours. She's as gay as gay gets."
"The only lesbian around here is me."
Blair almost snickered at the expression on Allie's face; it was the first time she'd ever been able to shock her old friend.
"Blair Warner, don't you dare throw your future away on that girl. I don't care how far you've gone with her, you are not a lesbian. Girls like us are not lesbians, we're just . . . more adventurous than most."
"I'm not ashamed of it, Allie. I've told Mother."
This time Blair did laugh. The look on Allie's face was priceless.
"This is NOT funny, Blair. We are not lesbians!"
"I never said that you were a lesbian, Allie."
"It's implied and you know it. I am perfectly normal. I'm attracted to boys, lots of them."
Blair's mood sobered.
"I'm perfectly normal, too, and what do you mean by 'lots'?"
"I'm just saying that I have lots of proof that I'm not a lesbian."
"It's not an accusation, Allie."
Allison began to pace back and forth.
"Did you really tell Monica?"
Blair had never told Allie about Meg or her subsequent enforced counseling and didn't see the need to share such personal information now.
"Mother is a very progressive thinker."
"Not all of us have the advantage of having a mother whose own sex life is so scandalous that it would be the height of hypocrisy for her to admonish us for anything. My mother would disown me if she thought I was a . . . what you said. Monica won't tell, will she? If she says anything to my parents, I'll die."
Blair was fuming. The only thing Allie cared about was her own reputation.
"She won't say anything, Allie, and if she did no one would fathom that there was ever anything between the two of us."
Allison seemed to calm down.
"It's not that I'm ashamed of it, Blair. I really liked kissing you. I always hoped that we'd . . . always be . . . close friends. I mean, that our friendship would always be . . . something special, no matter who we married."
Blair was stunned.
"You couldn't possibly think that I'd . . . that we'd . . . while we were married to other people!?"
"Grow up, Blair. Sometimes it amazes me that you're Monica Warner's daughter."
"What does that mean?"
"Blair, you can be whoever you want to be when you get behind closed doors, but you can't run around telling people that you're a lesbian. You'll be ostracized. You'll be a social outcast. Even Monica must agree with me on this issue. I'm beginning to think that new girl has brainwashed you."
"Why are you here, Allison?"
Allison touched Blair's shoulder and smiled affectionately into Blair's eyes.
"I'm here to see you, Blair. We've known one another forever. I cared about you long before we ever kissed one another and that hasn't changed. I wanted you to meet Emily and I was hoping that you might want to visit us in New York. Leaving Eastland wasn't easy for me. The only time I ever see any of my old friends is when I run into them accidentally. I didn't get out much when I was pregnant and now I spend most of my time with Emily. I don't want to make the same mistakes with her that my parents made with me. She doesn't even have a nanny. I'm taking care of her all by myself, Blair. I was hoping . . . I just need a friend, someone who wouldn't mind if we spent the day in the park with Emily instead of going to a party. That's all."
Blair drew Allie into her arms and reassured her.
"Of course I'll come visit you, Allie. I had no idea you felt so alone. I love Emily, too."
When Allison turned slightly to kiss Blair, the dazed debutante recovered her senses just in time to turn away.
"Allie, I'm . . . I'm sorry."
"It's her, isn't it? It's Jo. She's the reason you're turning your back on me when I need you the most."
"I'm not turning my back on you, Allie. I'm trying to be a good friend."
"You ARE a good friend, Blair. There's no excuse for my behavior. I've just been . . . so lonely. I miss you. I miss all of my old friends. David gets to see his friends at school, but I spend my days alone with Emily."
"Perhaps we should go upstairs so you can visit with everyone."
"Can you just forget that I tried to kiss you? I came here to sit around talking about clothes and teachers and parties. I want to laugh and have fun and behave like a normal teenager again. Will you do that for me, Blair? Will you give me one more day at Eastland before I have to go back to the city?"
Blair nodded, but didn't want to mislead her friend.
"Allie, you can't try to kiss me again."
Allison smiled good-naturedly.
"You can't blame a girl for trying, can you?"
Blair rolled her eyes.
"Just don't forget that you're not a lesbian."'
"Oh, Blair-y-pie, I have missed you so much. Please don't ever change."
"No more flirting, either."
Allison crossed her heart with her finger, smiling.
"Don't worry, I won't do anything to annoy your non-lesbian roommate."
Jo checked her watch so often while watching over Emily that the baby decided it was a toy and insisted on holding it. As the afternoon progressed, uncertainties began to gnaw at Jo. It wasn't in Jo's nature to trust anyone, but she trusted Blair. Glancing at her watch one last time, Jo decided that she had given Allison and Blair enough time to talk about whatever they needed to discuss.
'This is stupid. Why should I stay in here taking care of her baby while she's in my bedroom trying to move in on my girl? I fought snakes for Blair. I wrote poetry, for crying out loud. I'll be damned if I'm gonna let some prissy ex-girlfriend waltz in here and try to steal my princess.'
Pretending that she needed to get something from her tool chest, Jo strode purposefully into her bedroom. Blair and Allison were sitting on the floor at the foot of Jo's bed. Jo's eyes were immediately accosted by the sight of Allison once again touching Blair's forearm as they laughed about some stunt they had once pulled off in science class.
Blair quickly pulled her legs beneath her just as Jo stretched in order to step over Allison and Blair's feet on her way to the other side of the room.
Natalie had had a glorious morning, but her fun was spoiled when Jo had disappeared into Mrs. Garrett's room. She was bubbling over when Jo entered their bedroom, especially in light of how closely Allison had snuggled next to Blair.
"Hey, Jo, you're really missing it."
Jo grunted in response.
It was Allison who made an extra effort to draw Jo into the conversation. She was hoping to convince Blair that she wasn't trying to come between Blair and Jo.
"Is Emily behaving herself?"
'Now she remembers that she has a kid.'
"Oh yeah, she's having a great time. Mrs. Garrett is teaching her the school song, in baby talk."
Blair gathered two of the dresses she and Allison had been holding and walked to the full length mirror. Since Jo was constantly criticizing Blair for her extravagant wardrobe, the fashion-minded beauty thought she'd let her girlfriend see that other girls appreciated her efforts to dress attractively.
"Okay, Allie. Which dress would I look more devastating in?"
"What's the theme of the evening?"
'What the hell kind of question is that? I'll give her a theme.'
Blair smiled at Jo. She would have been disappointed if Jo hadn't shown any hint of jealousy. Blair's mood changed dramatically, though, when Allison wrapped her arms around her waist as they looked at each other in the mirror. Allie had kept to her promise not to flirt as long as Jo had been out of the room, but it hadn't taken her long to break her deal with Blair once Jo joined them.
Teasing Jo was fun, but Blair had no intention of allowing Allie to taunt the brooding brunette. Blair followed Jo across the room as she spoke, demonstrating her exclusive attitude toward Jo.
"Jo's going along."
When Blair got close enough to her girlfriend, she gently touched Jo's arm, sending a clear signal to Allie to back off. Allie already suspected that Jo was Blair's girlfriend and Blair was tired of hiding it.
"As a favor, a favor."
Blair knew instantly that Jo was trying to hide the fact that Allie's flagrant flirting was beginning to upset her, prompting Blair to try to alleviate Jo's discomfort. It didn't help matters that Natalie was bobbing up and down on her bunk bed like a kid watching a Christmas parade.
Blair was shocked when Allie became even more determined to flaunt her prior relationship with Blair in front of Jo.
"Hey, remember the time we went on a double date with those two townies?"
When Allie walked over to Blair and casually draped her arm over the nervous blonde's shoulder, Blair placed her hand in her pocket, making sure she didn't accidentally come into greater contact with Allie.
Jo noticed Blair's attempt to unobtrusively pull away from Allison, but that only fueled Jo's temper. It was one thing for Allison to touch Blair when Blair was receptive, but Jo seethed at the audacity of anyone to paw her girlfriend when Blair so obviously wasn't interested.
Blair kept her tone casual, but the mere fact that she was disagreeing with Allison's portrayal of their double date should have alerted her old friend that Blair wasn't happy.
"I remember mine wasn't so bad. A little unpolished maybe."
Allison was growing weary of pretending to be nice to Jo Polniaczek. She'd learned from Sue Ann that Blair had often referred to Jo as a Neanderthal when they had first met and she hoped that by using the term herself, she could make Jo think that Blair had picked up the phrase from Allison. Nothing would please Allison more than if Jo thought of Allison every time Blair called Jo a Neanderthal. Blair may no longer be interested in her as more than a friend, but Allison would be damned if she'd let a nobody ruin Blair's life.
"Unpolished, try Neanderthal."
'If she doesn't get her stinking hand off of Blair's shoulder in the next five seconds, she's going to meet a real Neanderthal.'
Blair Warner was not a novice in socially awkward situations. If Tootie and Natalie had not been present, she would have been able to alter Allison's behavior with one forceful glare, but she didn't dare make a scene in front of her audience.
"You are so lucky you don't have to worry about dating anymore, it's such a hassle."
With one comment, Blair had reminded Allison of her husband and openly admitted that Blair considered dating a hassle. The insinuation that Blair also felt free from dating worries was subtle enough to be lost on most listeners, but Blair felt certain that Allie would get it.
While Tootie didn't seem to consider Blair's statement out of character, Jo noticed Natalie's attentive expression and reminded herself to be more careful around her observant friend. If Blair kept feeding Jo strawberries and complaining about dating, Natalie Greene was sure to sniff out the reason.
Tootie, who wasn't normally so mushy about guys, seemed as stuck on Allison's husband as she was on Eddie Brennan.
"Yeah, Allison. We can only dream of Mr. Right, but you've already found him."
"Well, when you've got it, you've got it."
Blair's laughter in the wake of Allison's haughty response was a little too loud, a little too overdone to conceal her insincerity.
'Give me a break. You got it all right, but it ain't what you want, is it? I'm on to you, Allie-kins. You didn't come back here to stroll down memory lane. You came expecting to find Blair pining away for you. Well, you didn't count on me, did ya? You can look all you want, but you'll have to go through me to get to Blair Warner again.'
Jo Polniaczek, who could still be very intimidating when she wanted to be, locked eyes with Allison, leveling her most threatening gaze on the ridiculously obvious girl.
"Oh look, it's after six, I'd better start back."
"Allie, you just got here."
Jo, who had been sitting on her bed, stood up and placed her hands on her hips as Allison continued to make her excuses.
"But you're going out soon. Besides, David doesn't like for me to drive after dark."
'David doesn't LET her drive after dark. Give me a break.'
"Come on, Allie, we'll walk you down to your car."
Natalie put her arm around Allison's waist and Blair wrapped her arm around her friend's shoulders, both of them trying to pull Allison along with them.
"No. Listen, you've got to get ready. You know how I am about goodbyes."
Blair knew all too well how Allie felt about goodbyes. She had walked away from Eastland within hours of telling Blair that she was pregnant.
Allison gave Natalie a quick hug before turning to Blair and presenting the socialite with a dazzling smile while holding open her arms.
When the two girls embraced for what seemed to Jo to be the hundredth time, Jo defensively crossed her arms and blew out the last of the breath she'd been holding for fear of the string of profanity that might spew out if she opened her mouth.
Allison didn't want to release Blair. She knew that Blair was angry with her, yet her tender-hearted friend had shown her more compassion and forgiveness in the past few hours than her parents and new husband had shown in the past year. The comfort she felt in Blair's arms didn't mean anything more than that. It couldn't.
"It was great seeing you guys again. Bye bye."
Allison stood outside the door to Blair's bedroom for what seemed like hours. The last thing she wanted to do was to take her daughter back to an empty apartment. Empty, that was the perfect description of Allison's marriage. 'How did I wind up in such a mess?'
"Wow, I can't believe how nice it was to see Allison again. It was as if she never left Eastland, except for the fact that she has a baby now."
Natalie chuckled with her best friend.
"I feel the same way, Tootie."
Blair glanced nervously at Jo, who was pretending to clean her tools. The anxious blonde turned to Natalie and raised her eyebrows pleadingly.
"Weren't you going to ask Tootie to take pictures of the winner of this afternoon's chess competition?"
Facing away from Jo and Tootie, Blair pressed her hands together, silently begging Natalie to go along.
"Right. Thanks for reminding me. Come on, Tootie. If we hurry, we should get there just in time to interview the winner and take a photo."
As soon as Natalie and Tootie left the room, Blair carefully approached Jo.
"What have you been working on?"
Jo continued to wipe her tools with a cloth, not looking at Blair.
"Mrs. G.'s lamp had a short in the wire and I replaced it for her. I'm going back later to tighten her window latch. I wouldn't want anyone to be able to slip in through her window at night."
"Have you thought about what you're going to wear to the dinner tonight?"
Jo put away her tools and stood before Blair.
"Don't worry. I won't embarrass you."
"I know that. I was just thinking about how nice you look in your gray blouse. I have a fur that would look great with it."
"I'm not wearing one of your dead animals, Blair."
Blair teasingly tugged at the hem of Jo's t-shirt.
"You'd look fantastic in it, Jo. Everyone at the dinner will wish they were sitting with you."
Jo's eyes narrowed.
"What's up, Blair? If I didn't know you better, I'd think you were trying to undress me."
Blair dropped her hands and extended her lower lip, insulted. For the millionth time, Blair had to remind herself that the tactics she commonly used on boyfriends in order to get her way did not work on Jo.
"Are you angry with me?"
"I'm not mad at you, I just don't understand you. Allison had her hands all over you today and you seemed to like it."
Blair placed her hands on hips, angry at the insinuation.
"For your information, I asked Allie to stop flirting with me."
"When we were in the cafeteria, before we joined Nat and Tootie in our room."
Blair could see the vein in Jo's neck begin to pulse.
"What did she do?"
"Um, you saw her, Jo. She was being a little flirtatious."
"Don't forget who you're talking to, Blair. You've got more ways of signaling a suitor that you aren't interested than Houdini had of escaping handcuffs. If you had to tell that twit to stop flirting with you, it's because she was out of line."
Blair was caught. She busied herself gathering her wardrobe for the evening. Not telling all of the truth wasn't like telling a lie.
"She said something about regretting the way things turned out between us. I told her that things had worked out for the best and that I was happier than I've ever been. Do you like these earrings? I'm thinking of wearing them tonight."
"Isn't she happy . . . with David?"
"He's not very helpful. She, um, asked about you. I didn't confirm anything, but I'm sure she knows that you're the reason I'm so happy. I didn't tell her anything, Jo, but she's not blind."
Jo nodded. If Allison knew that Jo and Blair were a couple, it was as much Jo's fault as Blair's. The jealous brunette had done very little to disguise her territorial feelings during Allison's visit.
"Look, I'm not mad at you."
Blair continued to fidget, looking everywhere except at her girlfriend.
"Emily's a good baby, don't you think?"
"You hardly spent five minutes with her, Blair. I don't think you know anything about her."
Blair was stunned by Jo's gruff response.
"You are angry with me."
"No, I'm not. I just don't want to listen to any more babbling about babies."
"Haven't you ever thought about having a baby, Jo?"
Jo didn't want to be harsh, but she felt Blair deserved an honest answer.
"Yeah. Before I met you, I thought I'd marry Eddie one day and that we'd have kids."
"You wanted to have Eddie's children, but not mine?"
Jo slumped, weary of explaining herself to Blair.
"I didn't mean it to sound like that, Blair. You asked if I'd ever thought about having babies and I told ya. I had this idea in my head of what a family looked like and Eddie fit the picture, but I never wanted to have his baby."
Tears began to well in Blair's eyes. The one thing her parents had never given her was a proper family and it was her greatest hope for the future.
"I know it wouldn't be easy, but I'm not going to give up on all of my dreams without at least trying to make some of them come true."
Blair had found a chink in Jo's armor and Jo was fighting hard to keep Blair from digging into her heart any deeper. Caring for Emily had brought up feelings that Jo didn't want to acknowledge. Feelings she refused to recognize.
"The truth is that I don't know if I want kids. Maybe I'm happy with what I already have. Maybe just being with you is enough for me."
Blair's mind was racing. She didn't want to give Jo the impression that she wasn't completely happy with Jo.
"I guess . . . I could be happy without children. If you decided that you didn't want them."
"Why can't you drop this, Blair? You're talking as if we're a married couple."
Blair was flustered and embarrassed.
"I'm sorry. You don't have to get so grumpy about it. You're still going to go to the charity dinner with me, right?"
Seeing all the joy sapped from the once bubbly blonde was breaking Jo's resolve. She tried to lighten the mood.
"Yeah, I'll go eat a tiny piece of dried up chicken, but I might want to go somewhere and pick up some real food when it's over. My treat."
"Whatever you want, Jo. What are you really going to wear?"
"I'll wear a skirt. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
Blair tried to smile.
"And you'll wear your gray blouse?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Seeing a small advantage, Blair pushed.
"And you'll wear my fur?"
"Not that again."
Blair's mood seemed to brighten. She looked at Jo appraisingly, wondering if Jo felt bad enough to let Blair curl her hair and paint her fingernails.
"Come on, we'll ask Mrs. Garrett what she thinks. She'll tell you that you can't go to a charity dinner at the country club dressed like a bohemian."
"Bohemian, heh? I'm moving up in the world."
Blair had pulled Jo into the hallway, hoping Mrs. Garrett could convince her girlfriend to allow Blair to doll her up for the charity dinner. Keeping one hand on Jo's arm, to keep her skittish girlfriend from bolting, Blair stopped outside of Mrs. Garrett's door.
"Forget it, Blair. I am not wearing that . . . thing."
"This . . . thing . . . is genuine chinchilla."
"You mean some animal was actually killed to make that?"
"Of course not! Can't you see it's gray? It died of old age."
Blair giggled at her joke while Jo rolled her eyes. Jo didn't want to encourage Blair's attempts to wrap her in fur, but she was secretly happy that Blair felt like joking again.
Mrs. Garrett opened the door to her bedroom just as Blair was about to knock on her door.
"Mrs. Garrett, I'm attempting to formalize Jo's ensemble for tonight."
Blair wrapped the fur around Jo's shoulders, firmly embracing the unresponsive brunette.
"What do you think?"
Mrs. Garrett was somewhat surprised by Blair's overtly possessive behavior, but didn't take time to consider the reasons behind it, she was more concerned with Allison's whereabouts.
Blair was too busy fantasizing about how Jo would look wearing her chinchilla wrap to hear the anxiety in the older woman's voice, but Jo noticed Mrs. Garrett's concern.
"About an hour ago."
Blair continued to keep a firm grip on Jo's shoulder, happy that Jo wasn't trying to wiggle away from her embrace. She pulled the grumpy brunette closer as she questioned Mrs. Garrett.
"What's the matter? Did she forget to get her banana bread recipe?"
"Yeah, and she forgot something else."
Mrs. Garrett opened the door to her bedroom to reveal that Allison's baby was still inside.
Blair refused to believe that Allie had left without her baby.
"Maybe she's downstairs looking for the banana bread recipe."
"Right, Blair. Allison hasn't abandoned her baby. She's spent the last hour looking for a banana bread recipe."
Mrs. Garrett groaned.
"You girls go look for Allison. Maybe Blair's right. Allison wouldn't forget Emily."
Blair and Jo began searching the house to see if Allison had decided to stay without telling anyone. While Jo checked the lounge, Blair ran into the cafeteria, where she found a note.
"I'm going away. Please take care of Emily."
Jo walked up behind Blair and picked up the note, which Blair had dropped.
Blair sat down, her legs feeling weak.
"Come on, Blair. We should show this to Mrs. G. She's gonna have a heart attack."
Blair looked up at Jo, tears in her eyes.
"Jo, how could she do this? How could anyone abandon their baby?"
Post Series Flash Forward: Tootie Returns to Peekskill
Dorothy, Jeff, Beverly, and Edna sat on the veranda watching Jo, E.J., and Marie playing in the pool. The two young girls squealed with delight every time E.J.'s mom disappeared under water to grab one of the girls by the ankles and propel her into the air.
Dorothy had been watching Jo carefully since their conversation earlier that afternoon. Dorothy didn't understand it, but Jo did seem to enjoy her life.
"I don't think I've ever seen Jo so happy."
Edna smiled at Dorothy, gratified that all four of her girls had found happiness as adults. One of Edna's greatest pleasures was watching Jo, Blair, and Natalie horseplay with Jo and Blair's children. Her only disappointment was that Alex and Natalie hadn't settled down with one another early enough to give her more grandchildren. Edna felt she couldn't complain, however; she was content to call Jo and Blair's kids her grandchildren. Edna could see the depth of emotion in Dorothy's face as she watched Marie and recalled how attached the youngest roommate had been to the young girl's handsome father.
"I always knew that Jo would be a wonderful mother."
Sensing the sensitive nature of the conversation, Blair and Bailey were unusually quiet as they walked onto the veranda. The sun had recently set, but it was a warm evening and everyone had decided to stay outside. It should have been a tender moment shared by friends, but Jeff's next comment ignited a firestorm.
"It's too bad Jo never had any children."
The hairs on the back of Edna Gains' neck tingled, making it unnecessary for her to turn around in order to know that Jeff's words had been overheard.
"Just who the hell do you think is in the swimming pool with Mom? There are three of us, in case you're having trouble counting."
Blair placed her arm around Bailey's waist, hoping to soothe the fiery temper Jo had acknowledged earlier in the day. Unfortunately, Beverly's parents didn't take steps to cool their daughter's temperament.
"You can't talk to my father like that. He was only saying that Jo doesn't have any kids of her own. She's not your real mom, is she?"
Jeff cleared his throat while glaring at his daughter.
"I, uh, didn't mean it like that, Bailey."
Frowning at Beverly, he continued.
"Beverly, you should apologize to Bailey. Not every child has both a mother and a father who love them."
Bailey, like her mom, would rather be insulted than pitied, especially by an arrogant buffoon and his twit of a daughter.
"Screw you, bastard."
Like many parents, Jo's ears came equipped with special radar in regards to her children. Jo, still dripping wet, was almost to the veranda, ready to scold her daughter when Beverly lashed back at Bailey.
"He's not the bastard, you are. No wonder your mother wanted an abortion."
Dorothy, who had been stunned into silence until that point, leapt to her feet and toward her daughter. Edna, seeing E.J. and Marie headed in their direction, left the table to gather the younger girls and take them into the house. Blair felt like she was having a bad dream as Bailey turned to her. It took a lot to rattle Bailey Polniaczek, but Blair could instantly see how shaken her daughter was by Beverly's revelation.
Jo had gotten close enough to the veranda to hear the last of the argument as well and immediately went to Bailey, who was staring back and forth between her parents, monitoring their expressions. Blair could see the exact moment Bailey determined that Beverly was telling the truth, just before Bailey spun and stormed into their home.
Jo would have chased her daughter if Blair hadn't looked so pale. Ignoring the Williams family, Jo went to her partner and took her hand.
"Come with me, Blair; once we explain things to her, Bailey will feel better."
As Blair and Jo followed Bailey into the house, Dorothy forcefully pulled Beverly to her feet. Beverly couldn't recall ever seeing her mother so furious.
"Why would you say something like that, Bev? I've taught you better."
Before Beverly could respond, Jeff came to his daughter's defense.
"It wasn't all Beverly's fault, Dorothy. You heard how Bailey was talking to me. That girl has a mouth on her as bad as Jo's."
Dorothy didn't break eye contact with her daughter. She was past caring about what Jeff thought. Beverly was her primary concern.
"I want you to answer me, Bev. Why would you intentionally try to hurt anyone like that? We talked about this earlier today after you took that horse without permission."
"Leave her alone, Dorothy. Beverly had no way of knowing that Bailey was unaware of the situation with her mother."
Although Dorothy was much shorter than her husband, she nearly knocked him over when she lunged toward him.
"If this is the attitude you've been taking with Beverly, it's no wonder she behaves like an insensitive bully."
Turning back to her daughter, Dorothy took her hand and pulled Beverly toward Edna Gains' home, where she had seen Edna take E.J. and Marie. Dorothy was determined to get through to her daughter and if there was anyone in the world she could depend upon to help her, it was Edna Gains.
"You and I will talk later, Jeff. Beverly and I are going to have a private discussion and for once in her life, she's going to take responsibility for her actions."
Jo stopped outside Bailey's bedroom, concerned as much for Blair as for their daughter. Jo had never forgotten the forlorn sound of Blair's voice years earlier when Monica told Blair that she intended to terminate her pregnancy. At the time, Blair had begun to question if her mother would have preferred to end her first pregnancy as well.
"Blair, don't worry."
"We have to be completely honest with her, Jo."
"But we can't make it seem like Mother didn't want to be inconvenienced."
"We have to explain that we wanted her from the very first moment we learned that Mother was pregnant, but it can't seem like it was difficult to talk Mother into going through with the pregnancy."
Jo allowed Blair to ramble, hoping she'd calm down before they faced their daughter.
"Are you ready?"
Blair nodded and tightly held Jo's hand. Bailey's suitcase was on the bed and the angry young woman was hastily throwing clothes into it when her parents entered the bedroom. Blair went to her daughter and touched her arm, trying to get her to stop packing, but Bailey jerked away from her.
"Leave me alone. I need a little time to myself."
Jo stepped between Bailey and her luggage, effectively preventing her from adding more clothing.
"That's not what you need, Bailey."
"Well, I don't need more lies."
Jo was stunned when she felt Blair's hand on her back, pushing her forward and signaling Jo to answer Bailey's accusation. In their family, Blair always acted as the communicator in emotionally charged situations. Apparently, Blair had decided it was best to trust Jo to delicately explain Monica Warner's initial reaction to the news that she was pregnant.
"Bailey, uh, your mother and I have never lied to you."
"You never told me that Monica wanted an abortion. Withholding the truth is the same as lying, that's what you taught me. It's bad enough that she dumped me on you when I was a kid, now I find out that Monica hated me so much that she never wanted me to be born."
Blair closed her eyes and sat on the edge of Bailey's bed, once again looking pale and fragile. Jo nervously glanced at her mate before cautiously continuing.
"If you're serious about wanting the truth, then you'll sit down and hear the whole truth."
Jo waited while Bailey considered her options. After several minutes of staring mutely at the floor, the young woman sat down on her bed. When Bailey sat down beside her, Blair wrapped her arm around her daughter's waist and smiled at Jo when Bailey didn't pull away. Jo knelt on the floor in front of them, staring up into two sets of sad brown eyes.
"Monica was forty-two years old and already divorced from Steve when she found out that she was pregnant. Yes, she thought about terminating the pregnancy because she knew how much she'd have to sacrifice, but after sorting things out in her mind she decided that she wanted to keep you."
"She must have thought about it a lot for all of your friends to know."
"Tootie and Natalie overheard a private conversation. Your mother and I would never have intentionally told anyone, even our best friends, about anything so personal."
Bailey wiped at her eyes and shrugged her shoulders.
"It doesn't matter. I've always known that Monica didn't really want me. I'm surprised she kept me around as long as she did."
Jo ignored the puddles of water forming around her knees and proceeded to tell Bailey about the weekend Monica came to Peekskill to tell Blair that she was pregnant.
"Monica loved you, Bailey. She never would have left you with Blair and me if she hadn't known how much we wanted you. She thought you'd be better off with us. I'm not sure about that, but I can promise you that we are better off with you. Having you come to live with us was one of the best things that ever happened to us."
"You didn't have much of a choice."
Jo took Bailey's hands and stared into her eyes.
"Blair asked Monica to let her raise you before you were born, Bailey. She was younger than you are when she made that commitment. We were still in school and had no idea how to take care of a baby, but your mother was determined not to lose you."
Bailey looked over at her mother, who nodded as tears filled her eyes.
"I'm glad somebody wanted me."
Jo moved to the bed, sitting on the other side of Bailey as Blair stroked their daughter's hair.
"Wanted you? Oh, it was so much more than that. This may sound weird, but looking back it seems like Blair must have intuitively known that one day you'd wind up with us. She took care of Monica throughout her pregnancy. Do you know that your mother rode the train into New York twice a week in order to attend birthing classes with Monica? And you know how much your mother hates public transportation."
Bailey laughed, squeezing Blair.
"She'd get back to Peekskill late at night, exhausted, but she never missed a class. She was the most prepared birthing coach on the planet. She read every book ever written about prenatal care. She made sure Monica ate the right foods and took the right vitamins. Your mother was with Monica every step of the way throughout her pregnancy."
"In other words, she was a real pain in the ass."
"You got that right. She did it all for you, Bailey. She'd do anything for you. No one ever wanted a child more than your mother wanted you."
Bailey turned to Blair and stared into watery eyes. Blair's voice trembled as she kissed Bailey's cheek and whispered.
"Mother told me that the very first thing she felt when Dr. Simpson told her that she was pregnant was joy. She let her fears overrule her heart for a short time, Bailey, but she loved you from the very beginning."
"Did she really say that?"
"Pure joy. Those were her exact words."
Bailey fell into Blair's arms, sniffling back tears.
"I can't believe I let that twit do this to me. I'm such a fuckin' crybaby."
Jo chuckled as she grabbed Bailey from behind and pulled all three of them onto the bed. Bailey rolled her eyes at Blair.
"Mother, she's ruining my mattress. It'll take forever to dry."
Jo looked down at her wet swimsuit and grinned.
"Heh, how many times do you think you wet my mattress, little girl?"
Jo groaned as she stood up, shaking her hair to spray Bailey and Blair with more water. Smiling through droplets of water clinging to her face, Blair squeezed Bailey's hand.
"We never meant to hide anything from you, Bailey. Are you still angry with us?"
"No. It wasn't a total surprise, not really. It was just a bit of a shock to hear it said out loud like that."
Jo's jaw clenched.
"I'm sorry that happened."
"It's not your fault."
"All the same, I keep thinking that I should have seen something like that coming."
Bailey wiped the water from her face and gave her parents a brilliant smile.
"Oh, you don't have to worry about me. I know how to take care of myself."
Blair bit her lower lip and looked anxiously at Jo as they left their daughter's room.
"Should we caution her not to do anything too drastic?"
Jo smirked at her partner.
"I think we've kept Bailey in check long enough. It's not a fair fight if we tie our daughter's hands."
"Beverly is only sixteen."
"It's not as if Bailey would do anything to cause permanent damage."
"Garrett, come to my room. I need your help."
"What's in it for me?"
"My undying gratitude, you twerp."
Garrett rolled his eyes and followed his sister into her room, where he found Bailey's mattress leaning against the side of her bed.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to switch my mattress for the one in the guest room down the hall, but it's too heavy for me to move it on my own."
"Why do you want to switch?"
"Because mine is wet, if you must know."
"Give me a break. I didn't get it wet. Mom did."
"Just help me. Please."
Garrett lifted one end of the mattress and followed Bailey down the hallway. When Bailey stopped outside the guest room assigned to Beverly Williams, Garrett lifted his eyebrows in true Warner fashion and suspiciously eyed his sister.
"Mother will not be amused."
"Mother will not know."
Garrett chuckled as he hoisted the mattress onto its side in order to maneuver it into the guest room.
"Tomorrow morning's breakfast conversation is sure to be entertaining."
Bailey waggled her eyebrows at her brother.
"You don't know the half of it."
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