DISCLAIMER: Of course, I don't own The Facts of Life or any of the characters represented in the television show. They're owned by some other lucky person. This was written solely for fun. No profit of any kind is being made from this.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

You Take the Good - You Take The Bad
By Del Robertson


"Jo! Blair!" Mrs. Garrett shouted from the dining room. "Hurry up! Your breakfast is getting cold!"

Jo came bounding down the stairs, skipping the last two steps, sliding on the throw rug at the bottom. She turned her slide into a perfect skid and flopped down in her usual chair at the table. She reached across the table, snatching the cornflakes box from Tootie.

"Hey! I wasn't done reading that!" Tootie protested, trying to read the puzzle on the back of the box even as Jo poured.

"Here, I'm done." Jo slid the box back across the table, its contents spilling out on the hardwood.

"Where's Blair?" Mrs. Garrett asked.

"Ah, she's coming." Jo reached for the milk, poured it in her bowl. "She's just talking to Chad on the phone." Big, dumb football playing, Porsche driving, couldn't spell N-e-a-n-d-e-r-t-h-a-l if his life depended on it Chad.

"Chad?" Mrs. Garrett peeked at Jo over the rim of her glasses. "Do I know Chad?"

"Chad Dunot." Natalie paused between bites of her pastry. "Of the New Hampshire Dunot's. Very old money. Just the sort of green that Blair's family likes her to be seen with."

Blair's flirtatious laughter made an appearance long before the heiress herself did. It rang throughout the upstairs and wafted down towards the dining room. Jo visibly cringed, rolled her eyes at the sound.

Whereas Jo had bounded down the stairs in a hurry, Blair took her time. First, came the pose at the top of the staircase. Then, the gradual descent, one step at a time. A little pause for drama's sake on the landing, before gracefully gliding down the remaining stairs.

With a "Morning" and a flourish, she seated herself at the table across from Jo. Daintily, she reached for a half-slice of toast and apple marmalade. Delicately, she used just the tips of her fingers to raise the slice of toast to her lips, gingerly biting. She placed the toast back in her plate, dabbed at her lips with a napkin.

"Jo, will you please pass the milk?"

Said in that sickeningly polite tone. The same tone she uses at home with the servants, I'll bet, thought Jo. Jo picked up the pitcher of milk, used one steady hand to pour Blair's glass half-full.

"That enough for you, Princess?" she asked.

"Yes, thank you, Jo." Blair took a sip, dabbed at her mouth with her napkin again. She addressed the entire group, her eyes sparkling as she did so. "You'll never believe the news. Chad's invited me to go with him to the big Halloween party at Langley Hall."

"The costume party?" Natalie asked, suddenly interested. "That's a VERY big deal."

Blair nodded. "Everyone who's anyone at the college will be there. And, Chad taking me is the same as announcing to everyone that we're an item! Oh, all the sorority girls will be green with envy!"

"Especially Muffy Peterson." Natalie's eyes sparkled with deviousness. "She's always trying to show how much better she is than you because her father owns all those companies."

"Oh, I know." Blair flipped her blonde hair back over her shoulder. If there was one thing she enjoyed talking about, it was money. "Daddy got all his money the old fashioned way - in oil. Muffy's daddy embezzled his."

Blair, Tootie and Natalie all laughed at her clever little joke. Mrs. Garrett feigned interest in her crossword puzzle. Jo ate her cornflakes with barely controlled restraint. Really, all she wanted to do was find a way to shut Princess Warner up.

"Oh, I do wish you could all come to see me in all my glory!"

"I'll be there, Blair." Natalie firmly tapped her spiral notebook. "School reporter, remember? And, believe me, Langley's Halloween Party is the biggest news story we've got going on!"

"I'll be there, too, Blair," Tootie confirmed. "Have to be. Decorations Committee."

Jo looked up from her bowl to see the trio expectantly watching her. "What?" she asked, around a mouthful of cereal.

"Are you going to the big party at Langley Hall?" Natalie pressed.

"Naw, probably not. I think I'm working that night at the college radio station."

"Of course, Jo. I knew you probably wouldn't make it. Usually only the popular crowd goes." Blair flashed an evil grin, tossed her blonde hair back over her shoulder in Warner-heiress style.

Jo jumped up from her chair so suddenly that Blair leaned back, afraid the Bronx native meant to punch her. Instead, she grabbed her jacket and motorcycle helmet off the couch. "Since you put it that way, Princess," she gave Blair a meaningful look as she fastened her helmet, "I'll be there."

She left, slamming the door behind her with such force that it rattled on its hinges. In her wake, she left a stunned Blair, mouth open, apple marmalade threatening to run down her chin.

"Close your mouth, Blair, dear. You'll dribble." Mrs. Garrett reached over, gently pushing Blair's mouth closed with a well-placed hand beneath her chin.

Tootie and Natalie were downstairs in the living room with Mrs. Garrett, anxiously awaiting their last minute costume alterations. Tootie was standing on a stool in just her stocking feet while Mrs. Garrett pinned the bottom of her harem-girl outfit. Natalie sat in a plush chair, fiddling with a loose button on her gypsy outfit.

Jo rushed in the front door. She had her motorcycle helmet in one hand, books in another and keys in her mouth. She dropped her books on the couch, hurried to the den.

"Oh, Jo!" called out Mrs. Garrett, around a mouthful of pins. "A nice young man called for you. Nick, I think."

Jo stuck her head around the corner. "It's Rick, Mrs. G. And he's calling because I was supposed to be at the station thirty minutes ago."

Mrs. Garrett adjusted her glasses, looking over the top of her rims at Jo. "Now, Jo, you know how important punctuality is."

"I'm gone," Jo answered. "As soon as I find this CD the station manager wanted me to air." The brunette ducked back into the den.

Blair spun into the room with a twirl and a flourish of her skirts. Her long blonde hair was combed back, a diamond tiara sparkling atop her tresses. She wore a long, shimmering pink gown, jewel inlay decorating the bodice. Her slippers appeared to be made of glass.

"Oh, you look so beautiful, Blair!" Mrs. Garrett made a last minute adjustment, shooed Tootie off her stool. She motioned for Natalie and her button-problem.

"Yeah, Blair. Just like a real princess," Tootie gushed.

Blair blushed a crimson pink. She was used to people complimenting her on her looks, her wardrobe, her talent. That was old-hat for Blair Warner, heiress. But, she still craved the attention. And, when it came from her closest friends, she blushed - because she knew the flattery was sincere.

"Okay girls, all set!" Mrs. Garrett put away her seamstress' tools.

Tootie, Blair and Natalie moved towards the door as one, gathering their coats and talking excitedly about the party. They were just closing the door when the phone rang. Blair pushed the door back open, rushing for the phone.

"I'll get it. It's probably for me, anyway."

"It's probably Chaaaaaddd." Tootie drew out the name, knowing it would irritate Blair.

"Well, Tootie, who else would it be?" Natalie stood in the doorway, hands on her hips. "They've been on the phone with each other all week."

"Yeah, it must be looooooovvvvvveeeeee."

"Hold on a second, Chad." Blair put her hand over the receiver. "You girls go on ahead, I'll catch up with you."

Natalie and Tootie headed out the door. Natalie turned to Tootie, "You know, for someone in college, you aren't very mature about relationships, are you?"

Tootie's reply was muffled by the slamming of the door.

"Now, Chad, where were we?" Blair's flirtatious giggle burst out, her smile was radiant. "I see." Her smile abruptly fell. "No, that's okay. I understand." Without another word, she hung up the phone.

Blair just stood there, staring at the phone for a minute, as if expecting Chad to call back. When it became apparent he wasn't, she shuffled her feet towards the sofa. She was just about to sit down when Mrs. Garrett spoke up.

"Anything wrong, Blair?"

"What? Oh, no, nothing at all, Mrs. Garrett." She put on her best fake smile, the one she used at all the social-climbing, cucumber-eating country club affairs she was forced to attend with grandmother back home. "Just Chad calling to confirm our plans for tonight."

"That's nice."

"Yes." Said with only the slightest hesitation. Blair picked up her coat, edged towards the door. "Well, guess I'll be going, then. The girls will be waiting." The smile was firmly planted on her face once again.

"That's nice, Blair. Well, I guess I'll go to the kitchen - and bake something if no one needs me for anything else." Humming to herself, Mrs. Garrett ushered Blair out the door, locked it and shuffled off to the kitchen.

Jo came from around the corner leading to the den, a CD clutched in her hand. She glanced towards the front door, then the kitchen. Crossing to the telephone stand, she picked up the receiver and dialed. "Hey, Rick. Yeah, it's me, Jo. Listen, I need you to do me a favor."

Blair wished she were dead. She'd lied to Mrs. Garrett. And, she lied to Tootie and Natalie repeatedly when they asked her where Chad was - and each time she said he was on his way. Truth was, he had called at the last minute to blow her off. Something about a family emergency.

To make matters worse, Muffy and her straggly band of sorority friends were making her life a living Hell. They were circling like a pack of dingos that could smell wounded prey. Every so often, one of them would test the waters by questioning her, asking her where her date was and when they could expect him and wasn't it brave of her to come alone to the social event of the year?

The icing on the cake at her pity party, though, was when Chad walked in - with Beverly Cabot on his arm. He was dressed as Prince Charming, looking every bit as regal as she imagined her fairy tale prince to be. Beverly was dressed as Sleeping Beauty. It seemed as if the entire room stopped to stare as they made their entrance.

Never in her life had Blair felt so humiliated, so defeated. She could hear the snickers from Muffy and her cohorts. Taunting her, asking her if she was into threesomes. How else could she explain why her date had brought another princess? Wordlessly, she sat her drink down on a nearby table, worked her way towards the door.

She didn't have that far to go. She had been secretly edging towards the exit all evening. All she had to do was maintain her composure long enough to make it up three carpeted stairs, retrieve her coat from the closet and slip out the front door. She could cry all she wanted on the drive home.

Blair tried to block out the sounds of Muffy and her gang's taunt-fest. Once they realized their prey was attempting to escape, the pack followed her, planning to attack her before she reached the front door. Blair turned from the coat closet - and bumped right into someone.

"Excuse me," Blair managed, looking at her feet, attempting to edge around the person. "I'm sorry."

There was no response. Then again, Blair hadn't really expected one. If it wasn't one of Muffy's cohorts, it was just another rude person come to make her life miserable. Blair attempted to skirt around the person again.

A hand wearing a black leather glove reached out, caught Blair under the chin. Carefully, the finger urged Blair to look up. He was dressed all in black from head to toe. Black, leather boots. Leather pants and a silk shirt. A sword hung by his side. A long cloak was draped over his shoulders. He wore a musketeer's hat. Jet black hair tied in a ponytail. A black mask covered his face, coming down over his cheekbones. All Blair could distinguish was that he had a very proud chin, and a set of full lips.

He bowed low, kissing Blair's hand. "Dance." was the only word he spoke. And, even that was said in a whisper, causing Blair to question whether or not he had really spoken at all.

When he took her by the arm and led her back down the stairs, she realized he must have spoken after all. Holding her head up, she allowed herself to be escorted past Muffy and her gang, their mouths hanging open in dismay. She wanted to be catty and stop long enough to tell Muffy to close her mouth before she attracted flies. But, the lady in her wouldn't allow her to do that.

So, instead, she allowed herself to be led by a perfect stranger to the dance floor. They entered the dance floor with several other couples. Out of the corner of her eye, Blair saw Muffy and crew glaring at her. She also spotted Tootie and Natalie. Chad was dancing with Beverly, but watching her, she noted. She pretended not to see him.

They danced to several fast numbers, then stayed for the slower sets, as well. Finally, gazing into a stranger's blue eyes, Blair no longer could see the other dancers or the spectators about them. She no longer heard the grumbles from her rivals. All she saw, all she knew, was the beautiful stranger that held her in his arms.

They danced every dance until the music stopped. The lights blinked on and off several times, then were lowered. For the first time, Blair glanced around. Langley Hall was practically deserted. Most of the partygoers had long since departed. Natalie sat at a table, writing in her notebook while eating a slice of red velvet cake. Tootie was seated next to her, a crepe paper ribbon twirled about her neck. Most of the decorations were already down. The remainder could be accomplished in the morning - later in the morning, Blair amended, looking at her watch, realizing it was after two a.m. already.

Blair looked back at her escort. He was standing there, patiently looking at her. "Thank you so much," she said. "You somehow came along just when I needed you most. I don't know how you knew, but thank you. I wish I could do something for you in return."

The Musketeer shook his head, silenced Blair with a solitary finger to her lips. Blue eyes looked almost sad.

"I know," Blair continued. "You wouldn't be my hero if I was able to repay you." She was rambling. She knew she was, but couldn't help herself. They hadn't spoken three words the whole evening and now she felt like she had so much to say before this magical night was over. "I just wish I could do something - give you something."

The Musketeer stared at her for long moments, as if contemplating the secrets of the universe. Then, removing his hat in a gallant gesture, he leaned in, covering Blair's lips with his. It was a small kiss. Barely a touching of lips. Then, it grew into something bigger. There was just a hint of tongue - a promise of things to come - and then it was gone. A kiss ended quickly, but not hurriedly. A kiss to be thought about for days, nights, weeks, months to come. A kiss to be relived in her mind over and over and over again.

"And, when I opened my eyes, he was gone."

Blair lounged on the couch in her pajamas, feet curled up beneath her. Tootie and Natalie sat in plush chairs near the fireplace. Mrs. Garrett hovered nearby with a cup of cocoa. Costumes had long since been replaced by pajamas and tales of the big night.

"Yeah, Mrs. G. You should have seen it. Muffy and her friends were all hateful and stuff - especially when Chad showed up with that slut Beverly," Tootie gushed. "But, then Blair shut them all up when her mystery date arrived."

"I think you had it planned all along, Warner." Natalie tapped her notebook with her pencil. "You're telling me a handsome stranger comes along and rescues you just when you're facing imminent danger. Well, as much danger as you can face as a social outcast in Peekskill. He sweeps you off your feet, only wants a single kiss, and disappears into the night. I couldn't pass that plot off to my English professor."

"No, Natalie. Seriously, I've never met him before in my life."

"And he only spoke one word to you the whole night?" prodded Tootie. She was curled up in her chair with her pillow. She was near sleep, but she was still eager to hear more about Blair's dashing hero.

"Yes," Blair confirmed. She sat lost in thought for several seconds, a dreamy cast to her eyes. "He was perfect. The height, the build. His manners. The way he danced. Everything about him - "

Blair cut off her sentence as the front door opened. Jo came in, motorcycle helmet tucked beneath her arm. She wore her brown leather jacket over a pair of faded jeans and scuffed boots. She looked surprised as she closed and locked the door.

"What are you all doing up at five in the morning?" she asked, dropping her keys on the telephone stand.

"Reliving the party," Natalie supplied, "And Blair's hot date!"

Jo looked quizzically at Blair, cocked her head to one side. Blair had the decency to blush a scarlet red. "Well, he was fantastic!"

"Glad you had a good time, Princess. I'm gonna grab a shower and some z's. Anyone gotta go?"

At a brisk shaking of heads and refusals, Jo started up the stairs. She just had her hand on the banister, her foot on the second stair when Mrs. Garrett called out to her.

"Oh, Jo!" Mrs. Garrett bent over, picked up something off the stairs, discreetly passed it to Jo. "I'm afraid I used all the hot water - you'll have to make do with the cold."

Blushing beet red, Jo merely nodded, bounded up the stairs as fast as she could. She stopped by her room just long enough to grab some clean clothes and to hide the mask Mrs. G. had returned to her beneath her mattress.

The End

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