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: Huge thanks to darandkerry for all the work with beataing this and for thinking of a title!
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Distinguishing Marks
By sinadino


"Haven't you seen them? They're, they're . . ." Tootie hesitated, searching for the right word. She finally found it. "Frightening. Yeah, that's it, frightening."

"Oh, come on, there must be a perfectly good reason for those marks. I mean – really, we're talking about Jo here."

"But, she's been behaving so strangely lately. You HAVE to admit that."

Reluctantly, Natalie nodded. Sure Jo was her usual charming self, insulting Blair, threatening that girl who kept sneaking around, but just lately things had been different.

Natalie remembered seeing Jo smile at Blair just this morning, and she'd been so nice to her, too.

"Tootie – there's a reason for that, a good reason, a very good reason. I just can't think of it right now, but there is one; I promise you."

"Yeah, someone bit her. Or better yet – something."

"What do you mean, something?"

"Natalie, it's Halloween."

"Tootie, I do own a calendar. I'm perfectly aware of what date it is!"

"Don't you see it? Jo's been transformed."


"A vampire bit her, and now she's changing." The young woman stated matter-of-factly. "You must've noticed it; the rings under her eyes, how pasty her skin has become, and her mood towards everyone has changed so much. It's like she doesn't sleep at all. And, she hasn't been outside all day. And…"

Loud steps coming down the stairs caught Tootie's attention, and she turned to find Jo standing beside them.

"Hey guys, I'm going out tonight. Don't stay up for me!" Jo grinned widely, and Tootie decided to prove a point.

"Jo, have you eaten something today? You know, you really need to eat, and there is that delicious sauce Mrs. Garrett made yesterday."

"You mean that tzaziki? Nah, I don't like the taste of it, too much garlic." With that, she turned around and left. Natalie and Tootie watched her practically skip to the door.

"See what I mean? She waits until it's dark to go out, and she doesn't like garlic. Who doesn't like garlic?" Tootie nodded her head meaningfully, and Natalie swallowed the lump she didn't know she had.

"That doesn't have to mean anything, she could be… allergic." Natalie told her friend hastily, but she didn't even manage to convince herself.

"We need to prepare ourselves, and just to make sure, we need to set a trap. Something so Jo won't turn on us."

"Okay, you make the plan, and I'll try to find out if there's a way to reverse it."

"Reverse it? Nat, there isn't a way to reverse it."

"Then what are we going to do?"

"We'll make sure she won't be able to hurt us, and then we'll see if we can somehow fix the problem."

"Fix it? Tootie, you just told me…?"

"I wonder if we could get her to drink ketchup." Tootie murmured on her way up the stairs.

Natalie just shrugged and followed closely behind.

They'd finally figured out their plan and were as prepared as they could be. If it wasn't so serious, Natalie would've laughed at how Tootie was dressed. She had some fresh garlic fastened to a ribbon around her neck, a wooden cross strapped to some twine and hanging between the cloves of garlic, and two stakes held firmly in her hands.

The web was spun; as soon as Jo entered the house, they would capture her and keep her under control with crosses. Then, the hard part would come where one of them would actually have to get close to the vampire and tie her up so the demon wouldn't be able to harm them.

Natalie looked down at herself. She didn't look any different than she normally did.

"So, what now?"

"Now, we wait until Jo comes back. You take the first shift while I get some sleep, and then you'll wake me and I'll take the next and…"

"Can't we both stay up?"

"No! We don't know when she'll be back – we might both fall asleep."

"Right, but I still don't like this, Tootie."

Something sharp poked her in her left cheek.

"No, stay here, Rick," she mumbled still half asleep.

"Natalie, wake up! I fell asleep during my watch; we have to check the house."

"Tootie!" Natalie raised her voice and jumped up, stalking her friend and forcing Tootie backwards until her knees touched the bed. Tootie fell back into a sitting position. "The one time I dream of Rick Springsteen asking me out, and YOU wake me up!"

"Nat … JO, vampire, remember? We have to make sure she won't bite us!"

"Oh, yes, and she's so much more important than Rick." Natalie moped a bit longer but still followed Tootie out of the room.

"Shhh, I think she's in that pile on the couch; she must've fallen asleep. Lucky for us," Tootie whispered as the two snuck down the stairs.

Carefully, they walked closer to the couch and looked down at the undefinable pile. A blanket covered that strange form, and only a strain of brunette hair, peeking out from underneath, gave them a good idea as to who was underneath.

Tootie and Nat looked at each other – both too frightened to reach out to grab the blanket. Together, they slowly tugged at the woolen cover – revealing the two entwined bodies.

Natalie gulped and drew in a sharp breath. She never heard the clattering sound the stakes made when Tootie let go of them. Grabbing for the blanket, Natalie threw it over the two forms on the couch, reached for Tootie's arm, and ran back upstairs, tugging Tootie behind her.

Safely back in their room, Natalie slumped down on her bunk and grinned. Her eyes wide, Tootie plopped on the bed next to her friend, still reeling from the shock.

"You know, Tootie… I think I've figured out what bit Jo."

Tootie just nodded, vividly remembering the two entangled forms on the sofa. She couldn't believe she hadn't been able to distinguish a hickey from a vampire bite.

The End

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