Title: Was I Just Your Habit

Author: Harper

Email: Xfjnky2@yahoo.com

Rating: NC-17. Why? Because of the sex and and a few coarse phrases.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, or anything else of value for that matter. Please don't sue, because I mean no harm or infringement.

A/N: Like I said, there's not a lot of canon worked into this, but I hope you like it anyway. If you'd like to send feedback, I'd love to receive it. You can reach me at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com. I can't imagine that anyone would want to archive this, but if you do, please drop me a line and ask. Not that I'm likely to refuse, but I do so like to go and look upon my works with a dazed sense of overzealous parental pride. Oh, and this is un-beta'd, so please forgive any horribly embarrasing faux pas that you might run across.

It had all started when she popped Blair's cherry, crude as that may sound. Just three short years, yet sometimes she wondered how it could possibly have gone on for so long.

They'd been, amazingly, alone in the house. Both Nat and Tootie had left for the weekend to visit their parents, and Mrs. G had taken the opportunity to go for a long overdue visit to a friend, trusting them to be mature enough to handle things on their own. So, they'd found themselves with an uneasy truce, both deciding that it was easier to call a cease fire than it was to spend what could otherwise be a relaxing weekend caught up in the midst of fighting. It had been working too, with each free to spend time indulging in their hobbies. Blair took the opportunity to sort through her wardrobe, discarding things that had been worn one too many times or that were so insufferably last season that she unconsciously excluded it from the possible pool of outfits that she had to chose from every morning and Jo, well Jo spent the better part of the day on her back, looking up at the guts of her motorcycle, doing little more than tinkering with it, lost in a state of mechanical nirvana.

It was when the day was drawing to a close, and both found themselves bumping into one another in the hallways and shifting uncomfortably on couch seats as the television blared in the background, that all the trouble started. Being that close to one another and not fighting just wasn't natural, didn't feel right at all, and though Jo had enjoyed her day of peace and didn't want to do anything to upset the fragile balance, if something didn't break soon, she knew that she would. Break, that is, no doubt managing to shatter any illusion of camaraderie. As it was, she was barely managing to stay in her seat, wanting nothing more than to jump up, to stalk over to the television and to turn it off of the insipid program that they'd compromised on. The tension in her shoulders was growing, and she fought the urge to turn her head, to throw out some biting remark, just to cut through the air of discomfort surrounding them.

"This is rather awkward." The words drew her out of her thoughts, and with a sigh of relief, she turned to face Blair, noting the other girl's drawn brows, the purse of her lips as her teeth worried the skin inside her mouth.

"Yeah, it is," Jo replied. "I just… it just don't feel right, us sittin' here like this. Not that we always gotta fight, but this… I dunno."

"I could always insult you, if that would make you feel better," Blair offered hopefully, and for a moment, Jo tilted her head, as if in deep concentration.

"Nah, I gotta better idea. How's about we sneak a bottle of Jack Daniels from the stash Mrs. G keeps for makin' fruitcakes," she offered, wiggling her brows conspiratorially.

"And do what, exactly?" Blair asked haughtily, chin raising a fraction of an inch.

"We drink it, Princess." There was a hint of disgust in her voice, as if the answer to that question was painfully clear.

"Oh, well that sounds like loads of fun," the blonde shot back, sarcastically. "We just sit across the table from one another, staring and drinking foul-tasting alcohol. A beautiful plan, Jo. I should have you contact my mother. Perhaps you can help her plan her next big soiree."

"Hey, we can play cards too," Jo replied, indignant. "And I ain't hearing you throwing out any suggestions."

"How exactly are you going to explain away the missing liquor?" Blair asked, softening a bit. She really was bored, and uncomfortable, and this might not be the best plan she'd ever heard of, but at least it was a plan.

"We ain't. A little bit of water, and that bottle'll be just as good as new," Jo smirked, her eyes mischievous.

Blair laughed, Jo's cocky expression bringing a smile to her lips. "Lead on then, my juvenile delinquent friend. Cards and whiskey it is."

After a while spent haggling over which game to play, they finally decided on poker. Or, as Jo had said, "Straight, five cards… twos, fours, and whores wild. Loser downs a shot."

It didn't take long for Blair to realize that this was a game of chance much more than it was of skill. Her father had taught her to play cards long ago, delighting in the way her scheming little mind worked, the way her face would light up with devilish joy when she knew she was going to win, but when you had nothing to work with but the five original cards dealt, there wasn't much more that you could do than lay them down on the table and hope for the best. Which is why, she supposed, both of them were now rather comfortably drunk.

It had taken her a while to get past the smell and the taste, but after the first two shots, she realized that her taste buds didn't seem to be working properly any more. That helped tremendously, and the next three flowed easily past her lips. Luckily for her, Jo had lost more than she had won, and the other girl, with her admittedly higher tolerance for alcohol, was grinning rather stupidly herself.

"Why do we fight all the time?" Blair slurred, and Jo fought back the urge to curse. If the blonde turned into one of those maudlin drunks, then she might just have to kill her.

"Cuz we don't like each other, Blair," she explained patiently, she sharp slap of cards cutting through the words as she continued to rhythmically shuffle the deck.

"But I don't really dislike you, Jo," Blair replied, scrunching her brows together as if in deep thought. "Its just fun, you know."

"Yeah right," Jo snorted, throwing out the cards for another round. Blair didn't pick hers up though, her gaze focused instead on her companion, brown eyes searching.

"I don't," the heiress protested, pouting. "Do you really not like me?"

With a long-suffering sigh, Jo lay her hand of cards down on the table, rolling her neck, feeling the comforting crack of vertebra loosen her shoulders. "It ain't necessarily that I don't like you," she said slowly, trying to formulate just the right response. "Its just that we're two different kinds of people, you know. I don't understand you."

Blair stood, pulling her chair around the table so that she was sitting beside the slightly irritated brunette. "And is it important that you understand me? Because I don't understand you, Jo, but I certainly don't dislike you."

"Oh yeah," Jo challenged, feeling a little jumpy at the close proximity, "then what do you think about me?"

"I think," Blair replied, cocking her head and looking over her companion with slightly blurry eyes, "that you're really quite interesting. Beautiful underneath that coating of grease that you always wear, though you try to cover up your looks with attitude and an insufferably bad wardrobe. Smarter than you sound with your rough accent. Wonderfully unpretentious, not bound by the constraints or dictates of society. A free spirit, a conundrum, a well-packaged enigma."

"Sounds like you spend a lot of time thinking about this, Princess," Jo said, squirming uncomfortably in her chair. She didn't like the deconstruction of her person, didn't like hearing how she appeared through the eyes of Blair Warner.

"Actually, I do," Blair replied easily, leaning her elbows on the table, brown eyes still watching the play of emotions across Jo's face intently.

"And that's all you came up with?" the brunette scoffed, feeling the heat of a blush course up her cheeks at the thought of Blair thinking about her.

"Well, not entirely. But I suppose it will suffice for now."

"Sometimes I think about you too," Jo said suddenly, a rougher, almost nasty edge to her voice. She felt off-balance, off-center, and she wanted to turn the tables somehow, wanted to right the sudden inequity of power that she felt between them.

"I'm dying to know," Blair drawled, "just what you might think."

"Sometimes I think that I'd like to do this, just ta get you to shut-up." And suddenly she closed the space between them, one hand snaking around the back of Blair's neck to pull her face forward. She found soft lips with her own and pressed a short, hard kiss against them, the trace of her tongue leaving a taste of herself on the other girl's lips as she pulled away. Eyeing the other girl warily, she felt her shoulders tense as she waited for the explosion, the blow, the wrath of an enraged Warner.

For a moment Blair just stared at her, blinking owlishly, then before she knew what was happening, Jo had a lap full of agitated blonde. Those lips were on hers again, a warm tongue slashing across her mouth, asking for entrance, and she gasped, the move opening her to the other girl. Strong fingers were in her hair, holding her in place as Blair moved against her, the warmth of the blonde's body searing into her. She could feel soft breasts against her own, could feel the heat of Blair's body burning through the layers of cloth separating them, and it was far more intense than she ever would have imagined.

"What are you doing, Blair?" she asked, when the other girl broke away, pressing kisses down the length of her jawline, down the curve of her neck.

"Finishing what you started," was the reply, and then those hands were sneaking up under her shirt, teasing the soft skin of her back, and she didn't really want to question it anymore.

"I ain't doing this here," she rasped, pushing back against Blair's shoulders until the blonde finally pulled away, her mouth releasing the skin it had been worrying with a pop.

"What?" the blonde asked, soft clouds of hair framing her face as she panted lightly, brown eyes made even darker with arousal.

"Upstairs," Jo ground out, managing to slide the other girl off of her lap. Long fingers tangled with hers as they moved quickly up the stairs, and she consciously turned off the part of her brain that kept asking if this was a good idea. Blair was oh so very willing, and she'd have to be out of her mind to turn down the invitation.

They were a bit awkward, standing in the middle of their room. The intensity from the kitchen hadn't died down, but the impact of what they were planning to do was much more immediate here, in these familiar surroundings.

"You sure you want this?" She had to ask, had to know that in the morning, the blonde wouldn't be able to turn to her with spiteful brown eyes and blame it all on her. If this happened, it happened because they both wanted it.

"Yes. Are you?" Blair asked nervously. She hadn't stopped to think since the first press of those impossibly soft lips on hers earlier. All she knew was that this was Jo, and she wanted her so very badly, and the only thing stopping her was a few words and the easily removed barrier of clothing.

Jo reached over, flipping off the light in reply. Moonlight fell in silver streams through the windows, making it possible for them to just barely see one another. Blair's hands had reached down to the hem of her shirt, inching it slowly up over her torso when Jo batted them away, taking the cloth in her own hands. The fabric between them seemed to melt away, eager hands undoing buttons and tugging down zippers, impatient bodies kicking away shoes, stepping out of the restriction of pants, until they stood before one another wearing nothing. Two sets of eyes, one brown and one blue, widened in appreciation, lingering over curves and valleys as they explored, until looking wasn't enough.

Blair reached out first, her fingers running down the long line of Jo's arm, back up the soft skin of her side to trace over the curve of a breast. A startled gasp was her reward, and she grew bolder. Finally she reached out with a hand, cupping a teasing mound of flesh, feeling the hard poke of a nipple against her palm. It was different, in many ways, from touching herself. The baby soft skin, the puckers of flesh around taut nipples that were darker than her own, the rapid rise and fall of Jo's chest as she struggled to pull in air… all were intoxicating, enchanting her, making her want more.

When her lips found one of those hard nubs, pulling it into her mouth, letting the rough velvet of her tongue rasp across the sensitive skin, strong fingers came up to cup her head, holding her closer, and the echo of a gasp rang through her ears. No longer content with the situation, she pushed forward, lowering herself down easily on top of her companion as they fell to the bed, settling her body in the spread of long thighs. She could feel an enticing hint of moisture smearing across her belly as her lips returned to capture their prize, rough fingers moving to the other breast, teasing the flesh they found there.

"God, Blair," Jo hissed, the sharp edge of teeth burning into her, sending a jolt of arousal down to her core as the blonde experimented, teased. And then that mouth was transferring its attention, biting its way across her chest to claim the other nipple. Distracted by the new sensation, she almost didn't feel the hand teasing down her belly until those fingers were combing through her dark curls. But then they were sliding through her wetness, the scrape of a nail against her clit making her hips buck, and her hands flailed about wildly, looking for something to grab onto. Balling the fabric of the bedsheets up between her fingers, she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth in an effort to keep from crying out.

"May I?" It took her a few minutes to understand what Blair was asking, the tease of fingers dipping into her shallowly before pulling out driving all coherent thought from her mind. Distractedly, she nodded her head, only to be rewarded seconds later with the strong press of two fingers moving into her, parting her. Her one less than satisfying encounter with a boy from back home had been a long time ago, and she was tight, her slick walls gripping Blair's fingers like a warm, velvet glove, and the blonde shivered at the feel of her.

Pulling away from the breast that she had been teasing with her mouth, Blair looked up, her brown eyes catching blue as she watched Jo, fingers beginning to thrust slowly into the other girl. The brunette's dark hair was spread wildly on the pillow, her eyes fluttering shut not long after Blair made contact with them, her teeth clamping down hard on her bottom lip. The flare of her nostrils and the involuntary jerk of her head let Blair know when she had found just the right rhythm, just the right spot, and the blonde smiled, watching the muscles in Jo's neck flex as her body tightened, watching the way her shoulders dug involuntarily into the mattress. With a flick of her thumb, she teased the bundle of nerves at the apex of the other girl's thighs once more, letting the soft pad of her finger stroke across the tender flesh with each thrust. At the move, Jo's eyes opened wide, surprise covering her features for a second before her head slammed back into the pillow, her breath hitching loudly, body convulsing as she flew over the edge into climax.

Grinning broadly, Blair continued her movements, keeping Jo locked in that state until the brunette reached down, grabbing her wrist roughly, stilling the motion of Blair's fingers as her body continued to jerk.

"Enough," she rasped, eyes turning away from the blonde's satisfied smirk. Blair pulled her hand away, gratified by the slight hiss that accompanied the move, and when Jo turned around to speak, she was caught short by the sight of a soft pink tongue wrapped around the blonde's fingers, cleaning her essence from the glistening flesh.

With a growl she lunged, her lips capturing that sweet mouth, the teasing hint of herself on the other girl's tongue. It was her turn now, and she rolled over so that her body was covering Blair's soft curves. She could feel the other girl's wetness against her own, the hard push of her hips teasing the other girl, the light scrape of her pubic hair against sensitive flesh sending shivers of arousal through the blonde. Kissing her way roughly down the slim line of a neck, she found soft breasts, hard nipples. Lips and teeth and tongue teased the flesh, arousal making her touch aggressive. Blair didn't seem to mind though, fingers coming up to press her mouth more firmly against that soft flesh, hisses and gasps of pleasure egging on the sharp edge of her teeth, the firm pull of her mouth.

The frenzied squirm of Blair's hips beneath her alerted her to the fact that the blonde was more than ready. Sliding further down her torso, leaving stinging nips on the other girl's abdomen, the soft curve of flesh around her navel, Jo soon felt the tease of soft curls against her chin, and smiled. She could smell Blair's arousal, the hot, heady, slightly musky scent exciting her further. And, with a broad swipe of her tongue, she tasted her as well, taking in the tinge of salt and the spice that was Blair herself.

The blonde gasped loudly at the touch, her back arching, her hips jerking as her eyes slammed shut. It was unlike anything she had ever felt before, the awkward explorations that her own fingers had made in the past paling in comparison. She felt the broad flat of a tongue lapping against her, rasping over the nearly over-sensitive skin of her clit. The added pressure of a single finger, sweeping up to tease against her opening brought a low keen of delight to her lips, and when it pressed forward, joined by another, slowly moving into her tightness, she wondered if she might die from the pleasure of combined sensations.

"Blair?" Jo was suddenly looking at her, blue eyes concerned as she felt the slight barrier blocking her way. A sharp thrust of hips was her only reply, and she felt herself pushing past the thin layer of skin, felt herself swallowed whole by that enticing wetness as the sound of ragged gasps filled her ears, and she moved her lips back to where they had been, teeth teasing at the hard nubbin of flesh they found there.

"Oh God, Jo." Blair's hands were in her hair, holding her in place as her fingers continued to work in and out, and she felt the sharp jerk of the blonde's hips, felt the tightening of muscles in Blair's thighs, heard the other girl repeating her name as if it were a mantra for long seconds before the body beneath her collapsed bonelessly, abdomen twitching as aftershocks coursed through her.

With one final soft kiss, she pulled herself up from her perch, climbing up the blonde's body to press her lips to the sweaty skin of a shoulder. She could feel the rapid beat of the other girl's heart against her breast gradually begin to slow as she looked up, catching soft brown eyes.

"Blair?" It was a question, though what she was really asking wasn't clear to either of them.

"Just go to sleep, Joey," the blonde whispered, pressing her lips to the other girl's temple before shifting slightly, sliding out from under the press of the brunette's body. Turning on her side, she scooted back until the slim column of her spine was pressed against Jo's arm, breath deepening as she drifted off to sleep.

Sleep had been a long time coming from Jo, though. Her tongue would flick out occasionally, catching Blair's taste on her lips, sending her mind racing. She wasn't sure what this was, what this meant, both for herself and for the two of them. That was troubling, because it brought with it uncertainty and that wasn't an emotion Jo was comfortable with.

To say that the next morning was awkward would be an understatement. Well, for Jo at least. The feline stretch of the girl laying beside her, the quick flash of bare skin before the blonde pulled on a robe, the scent of their lovemaking burned into the sheets all combined to put the already jumpy brunette even further on edge. When Blair had turned to her with a soft smile before disappearing into the bathroom, it had taken everything she had to return it, baring her teeth in an attempt to mimic the gesture. The soft splash of water against tile was too much for her image laden mind, and Jo rolled out of the bed, throwing on a pair of loose shorts and a tee shirt before trotting down the stairs, pulling her long hair back as she went, attempting to escape thoughts of Blair, nude in the shower, water coursing down the very skin that she had caressed the night before.

She was standing, one hip propped against the counter as she polished off a piece of toast, when Blair came flouncing down the steps. Her long blonde hair was wet, combed back from a face still beautiful devoid of make-up, wrapped in a soft blue silk robe. With a smile, the heiress began to clean up evidence of the night before, combing scattered cards into a pile, bringing empty glasses over to the sink to wash. Jo watched it all, watched her stow away the remnants of the beginning of their conflagration, and the question that had been burning on the tip of her tongue since she opened her eyes that morning spilled out in a jumble of words.

"What're we doing here, Blair?"

"Well," the blonde replied, tilting her head to the side, "I'm cleaning up the mess that we made last night. You're finishing breakfast."

"That's not what I mean, and you know it," Jo growled unhappily, her brows lowering in agitation.

"Why does it have to be anything?" Blair returned, sighing. Laying the glasses aside, she came to stand before Jo, her body moving easily into the vee created by long legs. "I think we've established that I like you, like touching you, like you touching me. Its also safe to say that you're not opposed to me touching you, to touching me back. That means that we have something rather simple, something wonderfully elemental, and something that I greatly enjoy. We could mess it all up with talk of feelings and fears and the like if you feel it necessary, but I'd prefer to just enjoy it as it is. You and I, pleasure and no complications."

"A one night stand?" Jo grunted.

"That's up to you," the blonde said lightly, her fingers coming up to rest lightly on the other girl's jaw. "If left up to me, then no. But, I'm not the only one involved here, so you'll have to make that decision for yourself."

"So you trying to tell me that you want this ta be a more than one time thing, huh."

It wasn't until Blair surprised her later that week in the laundry room, managing to back Jo up against the dryer as she fell to her knees, pulling eagerly on the button of the brunette's blue jeans, tugging the rough fabric down to her ankles, that Jo had understood exactly what the other girl was talking about. Standing there, one hand buried in soft blonde locks as a surprisingly skilled tongue teased her flesh, watching moments later as a dainty hand cleaned the evidence of her passion from slightly swollen lips and she struggled to catch her breath and bring feeling back into her legs, she'd gotten the picture in full. Secret, rushed, primal… a good fuck from a friend, no strings attached. That's what Blair wanted, and so that's what she gave her. A relationship just like the one they'd had before, with petty arguments and sniping comments, but with one significant difference.

Through the remaining year of high school, through the first two years of college, she'd watched Blair go through a succession of men. She'd spend hours getting ready for their dates, let the poor fellows spend loads of money on her, and always return home to Jo. Not that anyone else knew that was what she was doing. Surprisingly, they'd managed to be discreet enough to avoid detection by Nat, Tootie, and Mrs. G, waiting until everyone was in bed to sneak down to the living room should the mood arise. If they happened to find themselves at home during the day with few chances of interruption, they'd eschew the bed for the floor so that an inopportune squeak of bedsprings wouldn't give them away. Jo had become an expert on clandestine affairs and that made her feel… well, rather dirty, rather used, a rich girl's playtoy who wasn't good enough to be seen in the light of day lest she sully the immaculate Warner name.

That's why she had decided to end it. No more sneaking around, no more lying, no more hiding anything from their friends. It was getting to where her feelings of guilt and shame weren't worth the pleasure derived from the encounters, and an elementary cost/benefits analysis told her that wasn't a good thing. It was beyond time to move on. Now all she had to do was tell Blair, which was actually a bit harder than it sounded.

It had taken her a long time to find the right opportunity, but here it was. The day was sunny, and when Blair had tugged her along professing a desire for fresh air, the others had declined, choosing to stay inside where it was air conditioned and cool. That left them alone, walking along behind the house close to the wall. If Blair touched her here, pushed her up against the stone and let her hand sneak down to unbutton and unzip tight jeans, it wouldn't be the first time. As it was, they were lucky the neighbors hadn't caught sight of their activities yet.

"Joey," she was saying in that sing-song voice that the brunette recognized well, her thumb tracing broad circles on the back of the other girl's hand.

"I ain't gonna do this no more." There, it was out, and she felt Blair pull to a stop, their joined hands bringing her to a halt as well.

"Aren't going to do what anymore?" Blair had been waiting for this day to come, had felt for a long time that her partner was growing uneasy with the situation. But she'd hoped that she was reading the signs incorrectly, that she wouldn't have to have this conversation.

"This," Jo spat, waving her hand between them. "I'm tired of all this sneaking around, all this lying, of always just gettin' the fringe of your particular benefits. Its over, Blair."

The blonde felt tears spring to her eyes at the words. If pressed, she wouldn't have been able to explain their arrangement. She'd spent long months admiring Jo before that first night, spent long nights coming to grips with her growing attraction to the brunette. She didn't like what it stood for, what it meant for her, but when they'd slept together that first time, she thought that she'd hit upon the perfect solution. She could have Jo in her bed and a normal life everywhere else. A normal life, of course, meant the parade of boys that she'd gone through over the years, of chatting about the attributes of various television hunks and star athletes, of being introduced to all the potential future husband candidates by unsuspecting parents. All of that backed up by the comfort of knowing that what she really wanted, her secret desire, was waiting for her in the person of one blue-eyed brunette that most people thought she couldn't stand. She could wash away the lingering remnants of her date's goodnight kiss with a press of those soft lips on hers, with the taste of that skin against her tongue. The knowledge that her bank account was often more attractive than she was to potential suitors would be swept away by knowing fingers, and she didn't have to brand herself as anything other than what she purported to be, as anything other than what people saw and expected, to get it. That made her infinitely happy.

What made her unhappy was a pair of serious blue eyes, the stubborn jut of a strong chin, and the words that had the power to rip her carefully constructed lie to shreds.

"You can't mean that," she spluttered, fingers wrapping even more tightly around the long digits she still clung to.

"Yeah, I do. Playtime's over, Princess," Jo replied, her voice bitter as she disentangled her fingers from the death grip the blonde had on them.

"But… but you can't leave me, Jo. I love you," Blair protested, throwing out the words easily.

The brunette snorted, her eyes running over Blair's figure appraisingly. "You sure got a hell of a way of showing it, if its even true. Which, by the way, I doubt. Anyways, it don't matter. I've made up my mind."

"But Jo…" Blair started, only to be cut off by a slash of the brunette's hand.

"But nothing, Blair. That's the way it is." And with that she turned and walked away, leaving Blair standing there, tears streaming down her face.

Okay, this was bad. She'd anticipated this, knowing that one day Jo would grow tired of their arrangement, but she'd always planned on coming up with some sort of compromise when that happened. What she hadn't expected at all was for the brunette to leave, to scoff at her words and walk away. She also hadn't planned on the aftermath, of the disconcerting coldness of the other girl's eyes when she saw her now, of the flatness of her voice and her refusal to argue. In one fell swoop, she'd lost not only her lover but also her friend, and that was more than distressing.

She didn't know what to do now, and wasn't sure where to go for help. Nat and Tootie had looked at her a bit strangely when she asked what they would expect from a boy after a fight, but they'd finally agreed that the best way someone could get back into their hearts after causing some damage would be a dozen roses and a nice, candlelit romantic dinner. Somehow she didn't think that Jo would be quite so appreciative of that particular offering, but she was going to resort to it soon if nothing else sprang to mind. Mrs. G hadn't been any help at all either. She'd just smiled a little smile, telling Blair that she didn't need expensive flowers or fancy dinners. All she needed, the older woman said, was the truth. But Blair knew that she had tried the truth, well part of it, and it hadn't worked at all.

Which was why, in frustration, she'd ordered enough long-stemmed roses to completely fill an entire room in the house. Dark red buds sat on every available surface in the living room, a single white card with Jo's name on it resting on the front table. Nat, Tootie, and Mrs. G had all been waiting nervously for the brunette to arrive, eager to see not only the girl's reaction to this abundance, but also to try and ferret out some hint of who had sent them. Nat had pictured a gallant, dashing millionaire, who had fallen desperately in love with Jo at first sight but whose attentions she had spurned for some reason or the other. Blair had almost smiled at that, wondering if the would be writer would change the gallant and dashing parts if she found out it was her.

"Jo's here." It was Tootie, standing breathlessly in the doorway. She'd caught sight of their erstwhile roommate walking up the front steps, giving the rest of the girls ample time to cluster together in front of the entrance to the living room. Well, all of the girl's except Blair, who hung back, now a little afraid.

"What's that smell?" It was the first thing the brunette asked, her nose screwing up as the overpowering fragrance of over twenty dozen roses assailed her.

"Roses," Nat said, her eyes tilted skyward, a romantic expression on her face. "For you. Took them over an hour to cart them all in. A whole truckful. Who's your secret admirer, Jo?"

"Huh? I ain't got no secret admirer," Jo scoffed, moving to push past them when Tootie reached out, handing her the envelope. Her brows lowering, Jo pulled out the small white florist's card, glancing at it for a moment before tucking it back in place, sliding the bits of paper into her back pocket.

"Forgive me. Love, Blair," it had read, and it was all she could do to keep from walking over to the blonde and strangling her where she stood, nervous brown eyes watching her anxiously from the base of the stairs.

"So who was it?" Blair asked quietly, her eyes daring Jo to reply, to bring the silence to an end.

"An ex… makin' a useless gesture," the other girl said coldly, ignoring Nat and Tootie's twittering in the background, her eyes narrowing as she looked at Blair. It was so utterly like the other girl to try and smooth things over by throwing a show of money at her. It left a foul taste in her mouth, and as she brushed past Blair, she refused to meet the other girl's hopeful eyes.

Blair stood there for a moment, listening to the clomp of boots going up the stairs, until she couldn't take it anymore. Whirling, her feet flying as she climbed upwards, she ran after Jo, not stopping until she had followed her into their communal room. Slamming the door behind her, she turned, chest heaving as she met cool blue eyes.

"Tell me what I have to do," she said, leaning back against the hard wood. "Tell me what you want, and I'll do it."

"I want you ta leave me alone," Jo said, her voice icy. She couldn't let Blair pull her back into this, couldn't let the repentant brown eyes and the grandiose gestures woo her into thinking that things might change.

"It'll be different this time, Jo. I swear it. No more hiding, no more sneaking around. We'll do things your way," Blair pleaded, refusing to be swayed by the other girl's determined countenance, by her harsh words.

"Look, I've been your dirty little secret for too long, Blair. I ain't going back ta that," Jo replied, sighing. Sinking down on the bed, letting her head fall down to her cupped hands, she growled out her frustration.

"But it won't be like that this time. I swear it." And then Blair was on her knees in front of the brooding girl, soft fingers coming up to wrap around her wrists, pulling her hands away from her face. As Jo looked into those soft brown eyes, she could feel her resolve crumbling.

"So what you saying here, Blair? You gonna go down there and tell Nat and Tootie and Mrs. G that it was you who sent those flowers? You gonna be my girl, no going out with all those pansy-assed sissy boys that've been prancing through here for the past three years? When people ask you who you're dating, you gonna tell them me? Cuz I ain't settling for second place no more." Blue eyes looked down at her seriously out of a suddenly somber face, and Blair found herself drawn by the stark emotion she saw there.

The prospect of being with Jo the way she had described was daunting. As much as she wanted it all, she wasn't sure that she could do it, that she could make those sacrifices. There would be talk, speculation, and eventually she'd have to explain things to her parents that she couldn't even really explain to herself. She didn't know why she was so drawn to Jo, this girl who was so different from herself. The barriers didn't just lie in their gender, but in everything that made up who they were. It was doubtful that more complete opposites could be found anywhere. The ivory tower heiress and the rough girl from the wrong side of town, brought together in a strange bastardization of the classic love story. They had little in common beyond a shared antagonism and a definite compatibility between the sheets. But, she found herself nodding, found herself remembering how painful it had been to be separated those few short days, and couldn't ignore all those little voices deep within whispering for her to not blow this, for her to grab on to this second chance for the brass ring that it was.

"Yes," she said, her voice shaky, hesitant. "If you want me do that, I will."

"Its not about what I want you ta do, Blair," Jo bit out, her brows knitting together. "You've got ta want to do those things, got ta want to have everything that being with me brings with it, or this is just going ta end up like it did before. Whether or not we say good-bye here or whether we give it another go depends on you. Like I said Blair, if we try again, it ain't gonna be nothing like last time. I gotta know goin' in that you can handle it, that you want it."

"I know I want to be with you, Jo. Isn't that enough?"

"It wasn't enough last time, and if that's all you can give me, then its not enough this time either," Jo said stiffly, pulling her wrists away from Blair's tight grasp. She had to make the other girl understand, had to make her realize that the rules that they had been playing by were obsolete. If she was going to risk herself again, then it was going to be on her terms this time. What that meant was a real relationship, one that she could be proud of. It wasn't as if all this didn't come at a price for her as well. She couldn't imagine her traditional Polish family being too happy to learn that she had a girlfriend, that she wasn't going to find some nice boy to settle down with and raise grandbabies for everyone to coo over. As if that was something she would have been comfortable with anyway. She wasn't that kind of girl, wasn't the homemaker type, and though the thought of kids was attractive in the abstract, she wasn't sure that the reality of a few rug rats underfoot would be nearly as pleasant.

"I am… willing to try," Blair said slowly, hoping that Jo would understand. "I can't promise you that it will be easy for me, and I can't promise that I will always be good at it, but I will promise to try. Can you accept that?"

"I… yeah, I can accept that," Jo said, sighing in relief. It would have been too much to hope for to have Blair assure her that she could do this with no problems. Actually, she was glad that the other girl hadn't said that, that she hadn't made any promises that she didn't know if she could keep. What she had now was the assurance that Blair was willing to try, was willing to give it a shot and work through the issues that came up, and for right now, that was enough.

"So, are you going to tell the others, or shall I?" Blair asked, a hint of tease in her voice. If the other girls and Mrs. G hadn't had their curiosity piqued by the arrival of the virtual green house currently resting in their living room, then no doubt the fact that Blair had chased Jo up the stairs and locked them together in their room would raise a few suspicions.

"I don't think they need ta know everything," Jo replied, grinning rakishly. She felt free suddenly, lighter with the knowledge that things might just work out.

"So you're saying that I shouldn't tell them about the numerous times that I've ravished you on the couch?" Blair teased, reaching up with gentle fingers to tuck a lock of jet black hair behind the fragile shell of an ear.

"Ravished me?" Jo protested, her face breaking into a wide grin. "I'll have you know that I remember it bein' the other way around."

"Choose to believe what you will," Blair said blithely before pausing, turning her face upward, catching laughing blue eyes with suddenly hesitant brown. "Jo, I don't know much about making relationships work. What if I'm not good at this? What if you're not happy with me?"

"Ah, doncha go wrecking things before we even get started," Jo sighed, not wanting to seem insensitive, but not wanting to find herself reluctantly wrangled into a self-pity party. "Nobody's got any guarentees that anything'll work out. But, if you starting doubting when there ain't no need yet, then it'll surely all fall apart."

"You know, I'm a pretty high maintenance woman," the blonde replied brightly, realizing that she needed to do something to counteract the negativity that she'd suddenly interjected into the conversation, "Think you can handle me, Joey?"

"I've been handling you quite well for some time now," Jo could resist saying, leering slightly at the words.

"That's not what I meant," Blair said, blushing.

"Maybe not, but I'm not adverse to giving a demonstration should you need reminding." Long fingers were tracing a path down Blair's neck, dipping into the collar of her shirt and teasing suddenly hypersensitive flesh.

"I think that sounds like a wonderful plan," the blonde husked, reaching forward to catch soft lips with her own.

And somehow, Nat, Tootie, and Mrs. G found out the true nature of things all on their own.

The End

Harper Facts of Life Main Index