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: Thanks to the wonderful mrswoman for the beta.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Cliché Challenge 2007.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Whose Life is It Anyway?
The doors to the emergency room flew open, and Jo raced inside, her eyes scanning the area for a familiar face. Spotting Mrs. Garrett and her friends, she stormed in their direction.
Natalie was the first to push to her feet to relay the tale, her hands gesturing left and right. "Blair was almost to the bottom of the stairs, and I made a teasing remark about her hair. You should've seen it, Jo; it looked like she'd stuck her finger in a light socket. The ends were . . ."
"Nat! What happened?"
"Huh? Oh, um, sorry. Blair turned around to give it to me with both barrels, and she tripped on the bottom step. She fell and hit her head on the floor. I should've waited until she'd made it all the way down the stairs before critiquing her rat's nest." Natalie plopped down in the chair and put her head in her hands. "Oh Jo, it's all my fault. I'd give anything to hear one of her blistering retorts right about now."
"Me, too, Nat." Jo walked over and placed her hand on her friend's back. Turning her gaze on Mrs. Garrett, she asked, "So, Mrs. G, what do the doctor's say? She's going to be okay, right?"
The older woman wrung her hands. "I hope so, Jo. The nurse promised to let us know something the minute the doctor finished his exam, but it's already been an hour. I'm beginning to get a little worried."
"What about her parents? Do they know what's going on?" Jo slid into the vacant seat next to Natalie.
"They're on a cruise." Tootie supplied, "Mr. Warner told Mrs. Garrett to call with the results. Can you believe it? He's basking in the sun while Blair is lying unconscious in a hospital bed."
"Now, Tootie, Blair's parents are in the middle of the ocean; there's nothing they can do." Mrs. Garrett came to the couple's rescue, although, she wasn't very happy with Mr. Warner either. His comment about Blair's hard head hadn't set too well.
A voice from the waiting room door had four heads swiveling towards the speaker.
"Mrs. Garrett?" The nurse from earlier smiled at the foursome who'd immediately stood as one, turning her way expectantly.
"Miss Warner is awake now. The doctor wants to keep her overnight for observation; it's just a precaution though. There doesn't seem to be any physical damage to her skull."
"Oh, thank God." Mrs. Garret placed her hand over her heart and sighed gratefully.
Jo unknowingly uttered Mr. Warner's earlier words. "Good thing Blair has such a hard head."
Tootie and Natalie chuckled, and Mrs. Garrett found herself joining in. Coming from Jo, the statement was more than acceptable.
"Um, there's more." The nurse interjected between the alternating guffaws.
Grinning, Natalie wiped the tears from her eyes. "What? Is she already demanding room service?"
"Yeah, I bet she's asking for her silk pajamas." Tootie bumped hips with Natalie.
"Better yet, she's probably requesting a suite looking out over the city." Jo placed her arm around Natalie as laughter rang out.
After two unsuccessful attempts to explain the rest of the news, the nurse finally resorted to shouting, her voice rising well above the din.
"She has amnesia!"
At once, the laughter died out, and four heads again swiveled towards the nurse. Jo was the first to ask the question that was on everyone's mind.
"Amnesia? What exactly do you mean by amnesia?"
"Why did Mrs. Garrett ask Jo to go with her to get Blair while we're stuck here, straightening and cleaning the room?" Tootie tucked the freshly laundered sheet under the mattress.
"Because Blair's bonded with Jo." Natalie straightened the top of the desk, stacking her books on the far left side. "Who'd have thought she'd latch onto Jo? I can't wait until Blair gets her memory back and finds out Jo was the first one of us she'd listen to."
Tootie grinned. "That is pretty funny. I'm a bit surprised Jo hasn't taken advantage of the situation yet."
"Just wait until they get back home. I bet Jo has Blair doing all her chores." Natalie laughed. "I'm taking pictures, too."
"Good idea, Nat. Blair wouldn't believe us without photographic evidence." Tootie glanced around the room, pleased that they were able to get things in order so quickly. "Whew, I think this is the cleanest this room has ever been."
Natalie moved next to her friend and placed her hands on her hips as she surveyed the results. "You're right, Tootie, it looks great. You've got to hand it to Blair; even with amnesia, she's still making us do all the work."
"Hey, Nat, why do you think the doctor's sending Blair home? Don't you think it would be better if she stayed in the hospital until her memory returns?"
Natalie shrugged. "Familiar surroundings are supposed to help; at least, that's what Mrs. Garrett said."
"Yeah, I bet the minute Blair steps into the house, she's back to her old self." Tootie nodded. "C'mon, let's go downstairs and wait for them. We can watch the instant transformation from the couch."
Grinning, Natalie followed her friend downstairs, but just in case Tootie was wrong, she grabbed her camera on the way out. The pair had just settled on the couch when the front door opened. Natalie focused her camera on the doorway.
"What a beautiful house you have, Mrs. Garrett." Blair stepped over the threshold and into the house, followed closely by Mrs. Garrett. Jo brought up the rear, struggling to get Blair's suitcase through the door. Some things never changed.
"Why thank you, Blair, but this is your house, too. Oh look, there's Tootie and Natalie. You remember them from the hospital, don't you Blair?" Mrs. Garrett held her breath, hoping that Blair's short term memory was still intact.
"Of course I do. Hello again. I can't tell you what a comfort it is, knowing I have such wonderful friends." Blair smiled and moved further into the room. An awkward silence followed her greeting as Natalie and Tootie could only stare.
Mrs. Garrett stepped next to Blair. "Um, Jo? The doctor said Blair needs to take it easy for the rest of the day. Why don't you show her to your room?"
Jo gripped the handle of the suitcase and pasted on a smile. "Sure, Mrs. G. Blair, would you follow me please?"
Blair smiled widely. "I'd love to. Thanks, Jo."
Natalie stared slack jawed as she watched the two climb the stairs and disappear from view. "We're in the twilight zone, Tootie."
A Week Later...
"I'm on my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. Anyone need anything?" Blair stood and stretched her back. She and the others had been studying for hours, and the twinge of pain in her head alerted her to take a break. The doctor had cautioned her about overdoing it, and for once, Blair was following someone else's instructions to the letter.
"A coke would be good." Natalie called out from behind her book while Jo and Tootie assured Blair that they'd get their own refreshment later.
Blair smiled and started for the door, only to be stopped by another request from Natalie. "Oh, and could you bring some of those cookies Mrs. Garrett baked this morning?"
"Sure, Natalie, I'd be happy, too." Blair turned for the door once again.
"Oh, and some chips would be good, too. Sweets always make me crave something salty. It's a vicious cycle, you know; sweet, salty, sweet, salty."
"Okay, coke, chips, and cookies coming right up." Blair made a mental list of the items.
"Oh, and ..."
"Put a sock in it, Nat. Blair can't carry the entire kitchen up here." Jo threw a pillow across the room to make her point. The foam object ricocheted off the side of Natalie's head.
"Hey, there's no need to get violent, Jo. I was just taking Blair up on her offer."
"More like making her your slave," Tootie muttered under her breath, but just loud enough for Natalie to hear.
"What is this? Gang up on Natalie day?"
"If the shoe fits . . ." Jo started, only to be interrupted by an unexpected mediator.
"It's okay, Jo. I don't mind, really I don't. Now, why don't you all get back to studying while I go to get the treats?"
Jo forced a smile Blair's way and nodded, but the minute the blonde left the room, she turned her wrath on Natalie. "I would never have thought I'd say this, Nat, but leave Blair alone."
"What? I just asked her to bring back a few things; what's the harm in that? She did offer, you know."
"Yeah, but Nat, you've been taking advantage of Blair's good nature. Granted, it's weird seeing her so sweet and accommodating, but, to be perfectly honest, I figured Jo would be the one exploiting Blair's amnesia."
"Hey!" Jo glared at Tootie, and the other girl held up her hand in apology.
"Sorry, Jo, but you have to admit, you've been very patient with Blair; not exactly what everyone expected."
"Well, we're all she's got. Her parents didn't even cut their cruise short. It's up to us to help Blair get her memory back."
"I guess I haven't been much help, huh?" Natalie frowned, recalling the past couple of days. Blair had done everything she'd asked of her.
"Ya think?" Tootie shook her head and then sighed. "We know you didn't mean anything by it, Natalie, but maybe you should try to be more helpful instead of using Blair to run your errands for you."
Flopping on the bed, Natalie looked up at the ceiling. "Everything's been so weird since Blair got hurt. We're all being so . . . so nice to her all the time. Maybe if we got back to our occasional bickering, she'd snap out of her 'miss goody two-shoes' personality."
"What are you suggesting? Being mean to Blair?" Tootie couldn't believe Natalie was insinuating that they turn against Blair.
"Just hear me out, Tootie. The doctor said that Blair needed to be in familiar surroundings, right? Well, the last week has been anything but familiar. We're starting to look like the Cleaver family."
"Who're the Cleavers?" Tootie frowned.
"Ward, June, Wally, and Beaver; you know, the Cleavers."
Jo looked out the window in thought. "You may have something there, Nat. How can Blair fit back in when there's nothing to fit back into? Maybe it's time we introduced Blair to the real us."
The threesome smiled; it was time to get Blair back.
The Next Day...
"Hey, Blair? Would you hand me a wrench from the toolbox?" Jo lay underneath her motorcycle, staring up at the loose manifold.
"Sure, Jo." Blair smiled and walked over to the metal box, peering inside. After a moment's hesitation, she asked, "Um, what does it look like?"
"You're kidding, right? Don't tell me you don't know what a wrench looks like? Jeez, Blair, it's right in front of your eyes, the large metal object with the opening at the top."
Blair flinched at Jo's rough reply, but she didn't say a word. Instead, she grabbed the first metal object she saw. "Here you go, Jo."
Jo reached for the object and frowned, glancing at the tool to confirm her suspicions.
"That's not a wrench, Blair; it's a pair of pliers. Do I have to do everything myself?" Jo pushed from under the bike and stood, reaching for the rag in her back pocket to wipe the grease from her hands.
Blair was devastated; everyone seemed to have turned against her lately. "I'm sorry, Jo. I just don't remember what anything is anymore."
"Blair, you've probably never seen a wrench in your life. In fact, you wouldn't be caught dead helping me in the garage. You'd rather be shopping."
"Really? Then why'd you ask me?"
Jo shrugged. "I thought you wanted to help."
"Well, I didn't really. I just thought I was supposed to. I don't understand why you led me to believe this was a normal activity for me."
Jo laughed. "One of your normal activities? Oh, that's rich, Blair. And, speaking of rich, that's exactly what you are. A rich snob who thinks she's better than everyone else. Until you hit your head, you've never waited on any of us, expecting us to wait on you instead. Before, if there was work involved, you'd always find some convenient excuse to duck out, claiming to have to go to some important meeting, or having to meet someone for lunch, or explaining that something's come up that demands your attention."
Blair bit down on her quivering lip. "Why are you being so mean, Jo?"
Jo moved into Blair's space. "Because you're not you anymore, Blair. You're just doing what you think others expect of you. You've not done one thing *you've* wanted to do since you were hurt. For once, just do something you want to do!"
The two glared at each other for endless minutes before Blair suddenly pounced, placing her hands firmly on Jo's hips latching onto the nearby lips in a deep kiss. The surprise move almost toppled Jo over, but she regained her balance by grabbing onto Blair's waist and reflexively pulled Blair against her. The moment that had been building since they first laid eyes on each other was finally here, and Jo took advantage of the situation, pushing her tongue into Blair's waiting mouth. Amnesia or not, Jo wasn't about to let this golden opportunity pass her by. After all, Blair was the one who'd initiated the kiss.
Twin moans filled the garage as each held onto the other like a lifeline, neither willing to release the other. It was as if they were frozen in time until Blair seemed to realize what she'd done. Jo immediately sensed the change in the mood and released Blair's lips. Blair in turn, slid her hands around Jo's back and hugged her fiercely.
Jo's question was met with silence.
"Blair, I'm sorry."
Blair moved her head to Jo's shoulder, not releasing her grip. She continued to maintain her silence.
"Listen, Blair. I shouldn't have given in; I should've put an end to it before it began."
"Yeah?" Relieved that Blair had finally responded, Jo relaxed her grip.
"I've wanted to do that for the longest time."
Jo smiled. "Well, I don't think I'd call a week a very long time, Blair."
The silence was back, and suddenly, Jo had a wonderful, yet terrifying, thought. She slowly pulled away and forced Blair to look at her.
Blair smiled meekly. "It's me, Jo. It's really me."
"You're back? For good?"
Blair nodded, and Jo pulled her back into her arms. "That's great, Blair. I've really missed you."
"I've missed you, too, Jo." Blair hugged Jo more tightly.
"So, um, about that kiss?"
"Yeah, about that," Blair began, releasing Jo and taking a step back. "I'm sorry for attacking you like that."
"It's okay. No harm, no foul." Jo smiled to take the sting out of her words; although, she really wasn't certain if she was looking out for Blair or herself.
Blair returned the smile and reached for Jo's hand. "C'mon, let's go tell the others that I'm back."
Jo nodded and allowed Blair to tug her from the garage and away from any reminders of their indiscretion. At least, she'd always have the pleasant memory of her life with Blair during this past week, culminating with the kiss she'd always dreamt of.
Blair squeezed the hand she held and quickened her pace. "We can talk about that kiss later, but just so you know, I knew who I was when I kissed you."
Jo grinned widely and hurried to keep up. Maybe she had a shot with Blair in this life as well.
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