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: Another round of thanks to atfm for graciously giving of her time to look over my ‘lyrics.’
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The Seventh Day of Christmas
"Aw, Nat, why'd you have to go and do that for?" Jo tossed her motorcycle helmet on the sofa and plopped down beside it.
"C'mon, Jo, it's time you got into the Christmas spirit, and decorating the tree is the best place to start." Natalie placed a box of ornaments on the floor next to the Christmas tree.
"I almost threw my back out, dragging that monster in here. The rest of you should be responsible for its decorations. You shouldn't have told Mrs. Garrett that we'd take care of the tree decorating." Jo folded her arms across her chest in defiance.
"Jo, Jo, Jo..." Blair sing-songed, stepping from the kitchen, "it's tradition for the four of us to decorate Mrs. Garrett's tree."
Jo cocked her head towards the newcomer and made a face. "Tradition? Since when?"
"Well, it should be." Blair removed the lid from one of the larger boxes marked 'lighting.' She frowned as she reached inside. "Who was responsible for putting away the lights last year?" A wad of electrical cords hung from her hands.
"Hey, everybody, is it time to decorate the tree?" Tootie bounded down the stairs with a huge smile.
"Tootie!" Natalie placed a hand on her hip and glared at her friend.
Tootie glanced around in confusion. "What? I didn't do anything."
"Yes, you did; you were the one who took the lights off the tree last year. I told you to wrap them around something before you stored them."
"I just thought it would be easier to put them back on if they were still attached together." Tootie shrugged; it'd seemed like a good idea at the time.
Blair walked over and dumped the tangled lights across Tootie's shoulder. "Well then, you get to untangle the strands and put them on the tree. I'll take care of the icicles."
Jo watched the threesome begin their individual chores and briefly wondered if she could sneak out without being noticed. The thought had barely taken shape when Blair issued her a job.
"Jo, why don't you go out to the garage and get the ladder? You can put the angel on top of the tree."
Normally Jo would've had a zinger of a comeback, but getting away for a few minutes sounded absolutely divine. She nodded her head and pushed to her feet, making her escape before Blair could find something else for her to do.
Jo stood on the ladder and held onto the end of Tootie's very long string of lights.
"Tootie, you've strung too many of these together. You're going to blow a fuse." Jo tried to count the number of strands, but with the wires wrapped round and round the tree, she couldn't see where some began and others ended.
"Don't be silly, Jo; they'll be just fine. Besides, the lights always look better when there's not some huge gap between them."
"Alright, but don't expect me to fight my way past all the junk Mrs. G has stored in the basement to change the fuses." Jo continued to move her end of the lights around the tree, trying to keep up with Tootie as she wove her way in a circle.
Intent on spacing the lights evenly apart, Tootie didn't pay any attention to her surroundings; she plowed into Blair, causing the blonde to juggle the silver icicles.
"Hey! Watch where you're going, Tootie; I spent half an hour getting these icicles separated."
Jo rolled her eyes. "Just throw the darn things up in the air and let them land as they may."
"How barbaric," Blair huffed, "An icicle is a delicate decoration, meant to be handled gently. Taking the time to lay each and every one gives the tree the perfect look."
"Jeez, Blair, they're just icicles." Jo made a face. "At the rate you're going, it'll be New Year's before you put the last one on."
"I'm sure Mrs. Garrett doesn't want her tree to look like some Neanderthal decorated it." Blair placed another silver icicle across the branch's edge.
Natalie reached inside the tree and hung the last gold ball. "Girls, girls, girls; you shouldn't be arguing. This is Christmas; we should all just get along."
"Stuff the Christmas spirit, Nat. I'm on the ladder, aren't I?"
"Only because you wanted to be the one to put the angel on the top." Tootie muttered under her breath as she ducked under Blair's arm in her quest to keep the strands connected.
An hour later, the four girls backed away from the tree to critique their work.
"What lovely icicles." Blair smiled.
"The lights look great, don't they?" Tootie grinned from ear to ear.
"Would you just look at those ornaments, what placement, what symmetry, what ..."
"A load of crap." Jo chimed in on the assessments of their decorating skills.
"Hey! That's not a nice thing to say." Natalie turned on Jo.
Blair chuckled. "And you're surprised? Jo rarely compliments anyone." She glanced at Jo. "Even when she knows what a lovely job that someone else has done placing the silver icicles so precisely on the tree."
Tootie smiled and suddenly raced for the tree, her idea overshadowing her need to defend her lighting skills.
"Let's turn out the lights and plug in the tree." Tootie reached for the plug, stopping when Jo called to her.
"Wait! You can't plug all those lights into one socket."
Tootie looked at the plug and then looked at the wall plate. "Why not?"
Natalie moved to the light switch and turned out the lights, plunging the room into darkness.
"Turn those back on," Jo demanded, but Natalie had other plans.
"Go ahead, Tootie."
Grinning, although her friends couldn't see her, Tootie felt along the wall and located the socket. After a near miss or two, she finally managed to hit the plug. The lights on the tree came to life, nearly blinding the onlookers. A second later, everything went black. Four voices sounded in unison.
"What happened to my icicles?"
"I told you that was too many lights."
The sound of someone hitting the edge of the table was followed by a scraping sound. "Ouch, damn it; I can't see a thing." Jo's voice filtered through the room.
"Turn on the lights, Nat." Tootie hugged the wall, afraid to move for fear that she'd knock over the tree.
A clicking noise was heard, but no light was forthcoming. "They don't work."
"Of course, they don't work. Tootie blew a fuse." Jo felt her way along the sofa, shuffling her feet towards the closet once she'd cleared the furniture.
"Do something, Jo." Blair's voice cracked. She hated the dark.
"I'm trying, Princess; just give me a minute." Jo finally grabbed hold of the doorknob and slowly opened the door. Something fell on her head. "Ow!"
"Oh God, something has Jo!" Blair screeched and turned towards where she thought Jo was standing.
"I'm fine, Blair; something fell off the top shelf." Jo felt along the wall and found the side shelf. She grabbed the tall cylindrical object and flipped the switch. The light from the flashlight bounced off the ceiling.
"Good thinking, Jo." Natalie nodded her head, grateful they were no longer in the dark; however, her good humor only lasted a moment.
"Tootie, next time Jo tells you something, you do it. Someone could've been hurt trying to maneuver around in the dark."
"Natalie's right, Tootie; Jo knows about electricity." Blair agreed with her friend, not at all happy with Tootie at the moment either.
Jo rolled her eyes. "Okay, let me shine the light on the couch so that you three can sit safely until I get the fuse changed."
"I'm not staying here in the dark." Blair moved towards the light.
"Blair, you don't know the first thing about changing out a fuse." Jo directed the beam towards the sofa.
Tootie and Natalie eased their way over to the sofa. Blair continued towards the light.
"I'm going with you."
"Fine, just stay out of my way." Jo pointed the light on Tootie. "You, Miss string-too-many-lights-together, stay put."
"I'll keep an eye on her, Jo," Natalie piped up from the other end of the couch.
Blair caught up with Jo and grabbed hold of her belt loop.
"What are you doing, Blair?"
"Jeez." Jo turned and started for the basement with Blair shuffling along behind.
"Watch your step." Jo eased down the first step. Blair didn't bother to reply; she was too busy concentrating on not falling.
Jo didn't seem bothered by the lack of response. "I should've never let Tootie be in charge of the lights."
"You said you didn't want to decorate, remember?" Blair managed to do two things at once, talk and feel for the next step.
"I didn't, but I don't want to be changing fuses either." Jo finally reached ground level. She shone the flashlight in the far corner.
The two slowly made their way through the maze of boxes Mrs. Garrett had stacked around the room. Jo opened the breaker box and peered inside.
"Leave it to Tootie to blow seven fuses."
Blair peered over Jo's shoulder. "Seven?" The number seemed high even to Blair.
Jo chuckled. "Yep; you, me, Natalie, and the four in the box."
"Huh?" Blair frowned, but realization suddenly dawned. "Oh, blowing a fuse, I get it."
"Yeah, well, I need to work on mine; it's been kind of short lately." Jo pulled the blown fuses from the breaker and opened the packages of spare ones Mrs. Garrett kept beside the breaker box.
"Really? I hadn't noticed."
"Yes, you have. Sorry for being so short with you." Jo pushed a new fuse into the box.
"If you weren't, the others would suspect something. We agreed to keep up appearances, remember?" Blair placed her chin on Jo's shoulder as she watched her work.
"Yeah, I know; I just hate keeping things from them."
Blair slid her arms around Jo's waist. "Let's just keep with the plan. We'll be graduating from Langley next year, and then we can find a place of our own. We can tell them then. I just don't want our last year to be uncomfortable for anyone."
Jo slid another fuse into the box. "You think they're going to reject us, don't you?"
"No, I just think it'll be easier for everyone if we keep our relationship to ourselves for the time being. I'd like to believe that our friendship with the others is too strong for anything to damage it." Blair lightly squeezed her lover's middle to reassure her.
"You're right; I guess I just want to share the news." Jo readied to place the last fuse in position.
Blair smiled. "Is that the last one?"
"Yep, give me a second and we'll have lights again."
"So, if you were to wait, let's say a few minutes, everything would still be in darkness, where no one would be able to see what the other is doing, especially the two women in the basement?"
Jo grinned and turned in Blair's arms. "You mean the two people who have the means to control the situation?"
Blair leaned in. "That's exactly what I mean."
Lips gently pressed together with familiarity as hands slowly made their way to each other's hips. Blair smiled, right before she deepened the kiss.
Jo fingered the switch on the flashlight, and everything faded to black.
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