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By Miss Pamela


Jo was tired by the time she got back to the store. Not from walking - nah, could handle a little walk - but brain-tired from cramming for a goddamned Macro exam.

She didn't figure on anybody being up. God knew Mrs. Garrett went to bed at sunset and the other girls were all out at some fundraiser thing. The night had turned cold and Jo shivered a little, burrowing deeper into her leather jacket.

To her surprise, there was a light on at the house. Blair stood out back, her head thrown back, looking up at the stars, an earnest scowl creasing her beautiful face. The scowl didn't make her any less pretty, of course. The worst thing about Blair's ego was that she was right. Jo hated her for that sometimes.

Whatever it was that Blair was thinking about, she must have been thinking about it hard enough to hurt herself, because she didn't hear Jo until she was practically on top of her. "Goodness!" Blair yelped and whirled around. "Oh, my!" She patted at her bosom, pearly pink nails scrabbling across her purple silk blouse.

Jo could tell the second that Blair recognized her because she relaxed and an irritated expression flitted across her face. "Oh, it's you."

"Nah, it's Santa Claus. Making his rounds in September." Jo rolled her shoulders and stood next to Blair. Squinting up at the stars in the pitch-black sky, Jo asked, "So, what's so interesting up there anyway?"

"Poetry," declared Blair. "Or at least there's supposed to be." She buffed her nails on her blouse. "Frankly, all I'm getting out of it are chapped lips and a desperate need for a masseuse."

"Explain?" Jo leaned against a nearby tree. Her leather jacket made a satisfying scraping sound against the bark.

"Professer Davenport is insisting that we write poetry 'inspired by the natural world'," Blair huffed. "I'm not getting it."

"Blair, you're ten feet from the house," Jo said. "That's not exactly the great outdoors."

Stabbing one finger at the offending objects around her, Blair declared, "Tree. Dirt. Stars. This is nature, sweetie." She wrapped her arms around herself, and asked, "So where did you sneak up from? You scared me," she laughed suddenly, a soft titter that meant she was uncomfortable. "I thought you were a dangerous young man."

"You thought I was a what?" Jo stiffened. If Blondie was going to make one more crack about her being too manly...that was hitting too goddamned close to home for Jo right now.

"Well, you know." Blair flapped one hand around airily. "You looked like the quintessential dashing and dangerous young man, lurking about in your leather jacket." She grinned, showing a glint of flawless white teeth. "That was almost poetry, wasn't it?"

Jo snorted. "Yeah, real poetic. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were flirting with me. Oh, wait," Jo eased up from the tree and walked closer to Blair, getting in her face a little, teasing, "You flirt with everybody."

"I do not!" Blair swatted at Jo's shoulder, but she ducked out of the way.

"The mailman, your professors, your hairdresser..."

"Jacques is a genius. I was merely showing my appreciation for his art! Besides," she added, reaching up to check if Jacques' handiwork was still flawless. "You're a girl. Girls don't flirt with other girls."

"Blair, you're an idiot," Jo said. After the new-student orientation, Kara handing her a pamphlet, Jo's thudding heart, fumbling, stumbling out an "I -- I'm not..." Kara turning red, Jo's gut clenching; the wet and bedraggled pamphlet hastily shoved beneath her socks.

"Whatever do you mean?" Blair had caught the serious, edgy tone in Jo's voice. Her face was genuinely puzzled.

"You're an idiot," Jo repeated quietly. She scuffed up some dirt with her boot, wanting to leave some physical mark on the ground, like, here stood Jo Polniaczek on the day she lost her ever-lovin' mind.

"Girls...girls do that?" Blair cocked her head. Jo could see the wheels turning. Don't hurt yourself there, Blondie, she thought. "I mean, I know men, well, Daddy always called Jacques 'sensitive,' but I knew what he meant."

Jo didn't answer. God, she'd just wanted to joke with Blair, tease her a little, and all this just had to come out now, didn't it? But then, Blair had always been a pro at getting under Jo's skin, even when she wasn't trying. Especially when she wasn't trying.

"Jo? Are you okay?" Blair asked. "God, you're being positively melancholy--"

"Are you sure I'm not being 'sensitive'?" Jo's skin started to prickle and her cheeks grew hot. The world dipped a little. She really didn't know when her life started getting this out of control.

"Are you...?" Blair let the question trail off, hanging in space.

And really, Jo was sick of that question: sick of it from the girls at school, sick of it from her asshole uncle, sick of it from herself. She wanted the asking to stop; just give me the answer already, so she walked up to Blair, braced her hands on the house behind her, and kissed her.

Blair's mouth was sticky from her candy-pink lip gloss, and she tasted a little like strawberries. She was soft, softer than anything Jo had ever felt in her life, and, even though Jo knew her own lips were the same type, she couldn't picture anything about herself being that soft. She wondered if she was. Whatever she felt like, it must not have been too terrible for Blair, because she opened her mouth with a gasp and stood oddly still, not fighting, but letting Jo do whatever she wanted.

It wasn't like kissing boys, which was a lot like fighting. This was like falling. Like sinking down into a warm quilt on a cold day. Like eating juicy, ripe fruit. Like walking through the front door of Eastland, an alien world that felt like home.

Jo pulled away. Blair was still standing very straight and not moving a muscle. Her eyes were closed. Jo froze. This stupid little experiment could cost her, and Jo was an idiot to forget that.

"Jo..." Blair touched her own lips absently. "What was that?"

"It was stupid. Forget it." Jo turned sharply to go inside.

"Jo, wait." Blair grabbed her arm. "I don't know...I don't know about this. But you're still my friend, no matter what." She smiled brightly. "Even when you wear that disgusting jacket."

"Thanks," Jo said. "I'll remember that."

"If you ever want to talk," Blair said, softly. "I'm here."

"Yeah." Jo glanced up at the stars one last time and thought of the pamphlet in her drawer. Maybe she would call Kara on Monday. Because, the thing was, even if Blair didn't know what she wanted, that was fine.

Because now, for the first time in her life, Jo knew exactly what she wanted.

The End

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