DISCLAIMER: I don't own The Facts of Life. If I did, it would still be on the air with Jo and Blair still trying to figure out ways to live above Edna's kitchen. No profit made. You know the rest.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a Facts of Life U/A story. It has been years since I've watched the show, so most of what I remember about Jo and Blair is from memory. Needless to say there may be a few inaccuracies. Here comes the WARNING, If you're a Rick/Jo fan run. I've always felt Jo's heart belonged to Blair. This story may seem out of character at first, but I've always felt Jo had a lot of issues underneath the tough exterior and Blair was really the stronger of the two. The women are in their late 20's and if I stayed true with the timeline it would be the early 90's. The good thing about writing a U/A is the free range allowed with the story. So this story takes place now. Just call it time travel. So laptops, cell phones and internet are part of their everyday lives.
THANKS: I would also like to thank my beta reader Rysler. If not for her help, (lots of help) trust me this story would have been painful to read in many ways.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Epic Proportions challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The New Facts of Life
By debs21221




Jo looked at her reflection as she tried on a new pair of jeans. The bruising was almost gone, but she knew chances were new ones would appear in the near future. She didn't get to buy anything new without paying a price but she had to have new jeans. Two pairs were not enough to get though the week and she had to work.

Jo looked at the prices of the two pairs of jeans. Clearance prices. Maybe Rick wouldn't get too mad tonight. Forty dollars for two pair of jeans really was a great price. He himself wouldn't even wear a tie that cost less then fifty dollars. Jo was too distracted worrying about the price of the jeans to notice her old friend walking into the store.

Natalie decided she needed something more casual for the interview she had scheduled later today. Maybe a sweater would work, so she ran into the mall, thinking she could pick something up, maybe change tops and be to her interview with plenty of time to spare.

When she walked into the dressing room, she couldn't believe who was looking at how a pair of baggy jeans looked on her. "Jo, oh my god it's been ages, but Jo those jeans are way big for you, hell they might be too big for me."

Jo turned in shock, realizing some of her bruises were visible. "I like the baggy look."

Natalie walked up to Jo. Where the rest of the girls kept in touch, Jo had all but disappeared from their lives and Natalie was starting to figure out why. Dorothy had run into Jo a few years ago and told Natalie how cute it was that Jo stilled called her Tootie, though everyone else knew she had moved beyond that name years ago. But she also told Natalie how Jo had a pretty nice looking shiner and how Jo laughed it off, saying she got into a fight and "you should see the other person."

But looking at Jo today, Natalie had a feeling the other person probably didn't have a scratch on him. When Jo tried to tell Natalie how she was in a wreck, Natalie was not falling for the story. "Jo, I still see Dorothy regularly and I know you want us to believe you're still the tough girl from the Bronx, but you know in all the years we lived together I can only think of one time you hit another person and that was with Blair, you talked the talk but you never walked the walk. So I don't believe you were in a wreck, no more then I believe the black eye Dorothy said you had was because of a fight. Well, maybe a fight, but I have a feeling only one person was participating."

Jo knew Natalie had figured it out, but she didn't want anything done. She was scared that Natalie with all her nosiness was going to cause her more pain than Natalie could imagine. "Nat, I'm fine. Please don't do anything. I really can take care of myself." Natalie could see the tears in Jo's eyes as Jo continued to beg for her to stay out of it. Natalie wasn't going to push it, but she wasn't going stay out of it either. Natalie didn't know what she was going to do, but she knew somehow she was going to help her old friend. "I'm not sure you can take care of yourself Jo, but if you promise to keep in touch with me I'll drop it for now."

Jo couldn't believe how fast Natalie gave up, but she was relieved. "Sure give me your numbers and I'll call. Maybe we can do lunch." While Natalie was writing both her home and cell numbers down, Jo thought to herself 'Just like Rick told her, nobody really cared. She wasn't worth it.'

Natalie handed her the numbers. "Jo, call me anytime you want to talk, or if you ever decide you need a friend. I'll always be here for you."


Blair had come in early that morning to finish up a few details before starting her vacation. She flipped through the catalog schedule to be released next week. It looked great and though still cold and snowy outside seeing the spring fashion made her excited about the upcoming season. She placed the catalog down, deciding it was time to clean her desk and get ready for her trip to Europe. She hadn't had a vacation in two years while working to get her company off the ground and prove she really was ready to be a CEO of one of her Daddy's companies. She felt comfortable leaving, her company was on firm ground and she had great people working for her. She had no problem taking a long and needed vacation.

Blair told her assistant she was done and leaving to prepare for her vacation. As she was picking up her purse and briefcase to leave, her assistant walked in, closing the door behind her. "Ms. Warner, I hate to bother you but there is a Natalie and Dorothy outside to see you. They insist it's important, do you want me to make an appointment for when you get back or do you want me to send them in?"

Blair was surprised and curious as to what her two old friends could want. They had lunch less than a week ago and she couldn't imagine what the two might have to say that was so important they couldn't just call her on her cell phone, or even wait until she got home that evening. "No Alice, go ahead send them in. I'll always have time for them."

When Natalie and Dorothy walked in, Blair could tell something was bothering them and knew by the looks on their face it was serious. "Ladies, you are scaring me. Is something wrong?" Both Natalie and Dorothy were hoping Blair could help them and more importantly help their friend. They knew when Jo married Rick, Jo and Blair had a knock down drag out fight, with Blair refusing to attend the wedding. Though Miss Garrett and the two of them assumed the two would work it out, this fight never was resolved and as far as the ladies knew, Jo and Blair hadn't spoken since that night.

Blair took her seat behind her desk while Natalie and Dorothy sat down in the two chairs facing the desk. "I feel like I'm suppose to interview you." Blair laughed at her two friends. When neither woman responded, Blair wondered if maybe someone had died.

Natalie looked straight into Blair's eyes. "Blair when was the last time you saw Jo?" All Blair could think was, 'Please God don't let her be dead.' But Blair answered honestly, "You know when the last time I saw or spoke with Jo, the night before her wedding. She said she wanted me out of her life and I did exactly what she asked."

Natalie thought for the first time this might not be as easy as she hoped. She knew Jo and Blair never made up, she knew after getting married Jo only met with her and Dorothy a few times before she started to push them out of her life also. But she knew Blair had a big heart and would give the shirt off her back to a friend. Natalie just hoped Blair still considered Jo as a friend.

Neither Dorothy or Natalie knew what caused the big fight between Jo and Blair, even Mrs. Garrett couldn't get the reason out of Blair, all they knew was the fight was serious and the night before Jo's marriage her maid of honor was refusing to even go to her wedding and nobody could have changed her mind. Dorothy had to ask. It had been almost six years and they were all grown and out of college, it was time for someone to tell them what happen. "Blair what happen between you and Jo? I always figured you two would work it out but you never did. What was so bad that caused the end to an eight-year friendship?"

Blair thought back to that night that she still to this day wished she could go back and change. She would have stood by Jo, rather than fighting with her, she really did think what she did at the time was the right thing. Blair decided it was time to tell her friends what happened that night.


Jo was so happy, she never thought she would find someone that would love her the way Rick did. He treated her like she was a princess, like she was special. At first Jo had a hard time accepting an offer for a date from Rick. He was eleven years older then her and let it be known from their first date that casual dating was not what he was after, he wanted a family but mostly he wanted Jo. He was always there and persistent in his pursuing of Jo. When she got her first job at the Youth Counseling Center he was volunteering almost every night she worked. When he wasn't working with her he was always there when she got off work. He wanted her to move in with him, but she told him how she didn't want to live with someone if she wasn't married to him. So here she was a month later preparing for her marriage the next day.

Where was Blair? Jo kept thinking to herself. Blair was her best friend and she needed her to get home so they could go to the rehearsal together. Rick got mad when Jo first told him, she wanted to spend her last single evening with the girls. But for a change Jo had stood her ground. She knew her life was about to change drastically and she had told Rick this might be the last time she could spend an evening with her three friends. Even though Jo knew deep down what she really wanted to spend it with Blair. Who would have thought Blair Warner would become next to Rick the most important person in her life.

Where the hell was she?

Now Jo was mad, even if Blair walked in right now the most they had time for was for Blair to get ready and then for them to go to the rehearsal. She looked at the necklace she had picked out for her friend, to thank her first of all for being her maid of honor but mostly for being her best friend. She knew now she would only have time to give it to her, so much for a sappy last night with her best friend.

Before Blair entered the bedroom she shared with her best friend she was overcome with a sadness, knowing after tomorrow things were going to change between her and Jo. All she could think was what a mistake Jo was making, didn't she see she was marrying a damn stalker? He always showed up everywhere Jo went. He shows up at her job. Anytime she or the others tried to spend time with Jo, he always seemed to show up where ever they went. He laughed about how he and Jo must be on the same wave length, but Blair always felt Rick was following Jo.

Plus what was it with the comments about Jo's new life, like all her old friends would be something in her past but not in her future? Was he dismissing them? Was he planning that Jo would never see her friends again? Blair watched as he put a wedge between Jo and her parents, convincing her that they were dragging her down, or that they were using her. Blair knew Jo's family and it wasn't her family that were using Jo. Well, she'd had enough. She knew she might make Jo mad tonight but somehow she had to get through her thick hardheaded skull before it was to late.

She looked at the time and realized if she didn't talk to Jo soon, they wouldn't have time and Rick would make sure nobody had time to talk to his "New possession" after the dinner tonight.

As Blair entered, Jo turned toward Blair and asked. "Blair where have you been? We have to leave in a few minutes and I really wanted to spend time with you before the dinner." In her rush to move things along she handed Blair the box that held the necklace she bought for her. "Here, Blair. I wanted to give this to you to thank you for being in my wedding." Then it was like Jo got shy and took a breath before continuing. She looked down at the floor suddenly overcome with her own shyness. "Plus, I wanted to give you something, you know to say thanks for putting up with me. Being my best friend and all that, something to remind you of me when you wear it."

Blair opened the box and could not believe how beautiful the necklace was. Jo had to have spent a lot of money on it. She was overcome with emotion. "Jo we will see each other, but thank you it's beautiful." Then she pulled her friend into a hug, not wanting to let her go. Finally, Jo pulled back from the hug. "Here let's put it on and see how it looks." Blair carefully removed the necklace from the box then put it around her neck. Looking into the mirror she saw how beautiful it really was. "Who would have thought you had such great taste, Jo?" She closed her eyes hating what she was about to tell her friend. "Jo I don't think you should marry Rick…"


Blair looked at her friends after telling them about the fight and how both women said things they didn't mean but neither had been willing to take it back. How her well thought out speech about how certain things about Rick's behavior pointed toward a relationship of abuse, if not physical, at least mental, turned into a personal attack on each other ending with Jo telling Blair she wanted her out of her life and Blair telling Jo how she wasted eight years being her friend.

Natalie couldn't take it anymore she had to step in. She told Blair about the two chance encounters she and Dorothy had and how they were convinced that Jo was in an abusive relationship. Natalie didn't know what to do, but if she had to she would beg. "Blair, please say you'll help us. I don't know why I feel this but I just think if anyone can talk sense into Jo it will be you. I know it's been years but I still believe you both still care for each other. Will you help?"

Blair sat there thinking for a few seconds before she picked up her phone and called Alice. "Alice, cancel my flights for my trip, and would you get William on the phone immediately I need him to do a quick investigation for me." Blair hung up the phone and looked at her two friends. "I'll help but Jo may not want my help, she didn't listen to me six years ago, she may not want to listen now."

After several minutes William finally called Blair. "William I want you to do a quick investigation for me. I want you to find out everything you can about Jo, I mean Joanna Marie Polniaczek Bonner and her husband Rick Bonner. Where they work and live. How much they make everything and if possible pictures of Mrs. Bonner. But William, I need this fast, I want as much as you can find out about them on my desk by 10am tomorrow. I know this isn't a lot of time, but I just feel like I don't have a lot of time to waste with this. Thanks William."

Blair looked at her friends "Can you two be here tomorrow at 10am so we can decide what to do?"


Blair looked at the pictures in horror. She could not believe she was looking at Jo. Jo looked awful, she was way too thin and though the picture were taken from a distance Blair could still make out bruises on both her arms and face. All she could think was why wasn't anyone helping her? It was obvious she was a woman in need.

While Blair was still looking at the information in front of her, Natalie and Dorothy both walked in. Without saying a word she handed the photos to her friends. "This has to stop, and it has to stop today."


Jo looked forward to her lunch everyday. She would come to the park eat her sack lunch and watch the world go by. It didn't matter if it was kids playing or people and their pets, Jo found this one hour a day to be the best time of her day. She would watch and wonder what it would be like to be happy like so many of the people she watched daily.

It was cold and she wished she had a better coat, but remembering the consequences she received after buying two pairs of jeans, she decided the coat was fine. Plus, spring was right around the corner, so she pulled her coat closer to her body and turned her face to the sun, hoping the bright sun might warm it a little.

She felt someone sit on the bench beside her and her whole body tightened. Rick hadn't bothered her at this job. Her last job he showed up and he pitched such a fit that the manager called the police. Jo had thought maybe with that job she had found a haven, but two days later they fired her, saying they didn't need her services anymore. Rick called her a loser, but promised to stay away from her next job.

She knew he would stay away at first, but it never lasted, so she kept her eyes closed waiting for the explosion. When she felt a hand reach over and squeeze her hand gently she could not imagine who it might be.

When Blair walked up to the park the investigator said was Jo's usual place for lunch she had planned to find Jo and insist she go with her. She didn't care if she had to drag her away kicking and screaming. Jo would never return to that house of horror she called home. But when she spotted Jo on the bench and saw how small and fragile she looked, it broke her heart. No, she wouldn't drag her kicking and screaming, but somehow she would convince this old friend that she was there and she would take care of her.

Jo finally lowered her head and looked over to see a face she thought six years ago she would never see again. She could not help but smile, god it was great to see Blair. She didn't really understand it, but having Blair sitting beside her made her happier than she had felt in years, and in an odd way it was like the last six years had disappeared.

She also noticed that her friend had the necklace she bought her several years ago around her neck. Jo never imagined six years ago that would be the last nice thing she would buy and that Blair would actually wear it.

Jo didn't know what to say, she was speechless. Could she say, "Blair you were right six years ago?" Could she say, "Blair I'm so sorry for everything I said six years ago?" Who would have ever thought that the smart mouth girl from the Bronx Blair met fourteen years earlier wouldn't know what to say.

Blair, too, was having a hard time knowing what to say. She didn't want to bring up that night. She didn't want to do anything but sit there and stare at the woman who probably was the most important person in her life when it came to making her into the person she was today. She knew deep down had she not met Jo, chances were she would have been just like most of her family and peers, a snob who felt privileged but never really experienced true loyalty and friendship.

Blair couldn't help thinking back to the first time she met Jo, seeing her sitting there in a coat that was too thin and too out of date for her good friend to be wearing. She smiled at her friend, hoping she would remember the night they met. "You think you could round us up some fake IDs so we can hit the Chugalug Bar?"

Jo smiled, thinking back to that first night. "I don't know, do you want to be seen with somebody wearing last years jeans?"

Blair had to smile thinking back to her snobbish attitude toward Jo the first time she met her. "I've missed you, Jo."

Jo turned her hand up to grip Blair's hand firmly as she spoke "I've missed you too."

Blair removed her hand from Jo's and pushed the sleeves of Jo's coat and top up to reveal bruises around Jo's wrist, then looked closely at Jo's face, still able to see the bruises neither makeup or sunglasses could hide. "Jo" was all she could say as she felt the tears threaten to fall from her eyes.

Jo looked down ashamed of her situation, ashamed she didn't listen to her friend years ago and wishing the ground would open up and take her at this very moment. "Blair I need to go. I'm OK really, I've made my choices and I have to live with them. You were right and I wished I had listened to you, but we can't change the past and this is my life."

Blair knew at that moment Jo was about to bolt. She had to do something now. "Don't go Jo, please hear me out."

Jo sat back into the bench. She hadn't listen to Blair six years ago, but today she wouldn't do that to her again. Jo didn't think anyone could help her, but she wasn't going to repeat what she did to Blair six years ago. She would listen to what Blair had to say, say what had to be said to make her leave, and return to work.

Blair moved closer to Jo. She felt she needed to touch Jo to have some type of physical contact with her, maybe Jo could feel how much she still cared for her friend. Blair placed one arm around the back of the bench, gently holding on to Jo's shoulder, and once again gently griping Jo's hand with her other hand. "Jo you're right we can't change the past and we both behaved badly the night before your wedding. I would do anything to change that night. I should not have made it personal and stood by your side. Maybe somehow, if I had been a true friend that night, some of this wouldn't have happened. But we can't change it, Jo. But we can change the now and even the future. Jo, I really don't know what's been going on in your life, other than what I see in front of me. I know you have a degree in Social Sciences, yet you're making eight dollars an hour as a debt collector."

Jo looked at Blair. How did she know that? Blair continued with what she had to say. "Dorothy and Nat came to see me. I ran a background check. Sorry, I had to find out what was going on with you. Jo, I also know of two times he has either hit or beaten you, and I'm sure there are probably a lot more. Jo nobody has the right to do that to you, or any other woman. You know that. Why are you letting him do this to you?"

Jo closed her eyes. There was no way Blair would understand. "Blair I bring it on myself. I know what he expects, yet I keep making him mad. I don't have anyone, I haven't talked to my family in years. You guys have all moved on and become successful. You don't have time for me and my problems. I'm fine. I'm doing OK."

Blair reached up and wiped the tears that were threatening to fall from her own eyes, wondering how things had gotten so bad that Jo could think so little of herself and her life. "Jo you're not fine, you're not doing OK. I hate that you think nobody has time or even cares about you. You have no idea how wrong you are. I know for a fact Nat and Dorothy care deeply for you. And Jo, you may not believe this but it's the truth, I still care very deeply for you. You were the most important person in my life for eight years. I know we haven't seen each other in years, but you are still very are important to me. Jo you're more family than my family and I can't let you go back to him. I love you too much to let him kill you one day. Jo, come with me, let me help you."

Jo was openly crying at this point. "I can't. My job." Blair shook her head in disagreement hoping for once Jo would let her help her out. "Jo, you don't need that job, I have enough money to help you out until you get on your feet." Blair waited but there was no refusal of money out of Jo's mouth. She knew Jo was thinking about it. She could tell Jo really wanted to take her up on her offer. Then Blair saw Jo look at her with such fear in her eyes that she had no idea what Jo was about to say next. "Blair, if I try to leave him, I don't even want to think what he might do. He'll never let me go."

Blair knew losing it would be the wrong thing right now. She wanted to scream how if he tried to lay one more finger on her she would make sure he never used that finger again. Blair had money and Blair knew money could buy security in one form or another, but she wasn't going to say that. "Jo, come with me, I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. He won't hurt you anymore." Jo looked at her friend, knowing what she was getting at. "Blair money doesn't fix everything. I can't have you spending your money trying to fix my life."

Blair felt she was starting to lose her again, she had to get through. "No, Jo, it can't fix everything, but it can help. Jo I want you know this, I would spend every bit of my money to make you safe. Please Jo, I'm begging you, come with me. Let me help you help yourself. I am absolutely begging here Jo. Please."

Jo really did want to say yes, she really wanted to think that some how she could get out of this cycle she had found herself in. Maybe she could start fresh. She still hated Blair seeing her like this, but she had hit rock bottom and maybe this would be her way to crawl back up. She looked at Blair and could see all the love and support in her eyes. "All right. I'll go with you. Blair, are you really sure you want to do this?"

Blair was unbelievably happy, she had Jo back, but more importantly she could help Jo out of the life of hell she had found herself in. Blair couldn't help it. She embraced Jo in a hug that had to be smothering for Jo, but at that moment she just felt things in the world were starting to be as they should. "Yes. I really want to help you. Thank you for letting me. Come on Jo, let's go."


Blair looked around the nice apartment that Rick and Jo lived in. It was obvious Rick wanted everything to look as it should. Blair knew from the background check that Rick had done well for himself, yet when she looked at Jo's clothes and possessions it was also obvious he felt she deserved none of this success. "Jo, just get what you need, we can buy everything else."

Blair tried to talk Jo out of returning to her apartment, but Jo said she wanted to get a few things before Rick destroyed them. So here they were with two of her security officers, packing a few items Jo felt she wasn't willing to let go. Blair had to smile at the small stack, realizing most of the items were things from Jo's days at Eastland and Langley.

Jo didn't pack anything of monetary value, just things of sentimental value. Jo picked the box up and looked around her apartment, hoping this was the last time she would ever see this place. "This is it. Let's go."

Blair and Jo walked out of the apartment with the security offices following behind. As they turned the corner, both ladies ran directly into Rick. His reaction was fast, faster than anything Blair would have expected. Before Blair knew what was happening, Rick had Jo's shoulders pinned against the wall and the look in his eyes was nothing less than pure evil. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" In Jo's shock her box fell to the ground. Blair was shocked at what she was seeing and unable to move. She understood why Jo feared this man; he looked like someone who could kill someone else without thinking about it.

About the time Blair started to react, her two security officers rounded the corner and quickly pulled Rick off. One of the men, having seen Jo's face, decided this punk needed a taste of his own medicine and promptly punched him in the stomach. Before he could hit him again, Blair yelled for him to stop. She didn't want this man beaten. She did, but she knew if she let them beat this man there was a chance he might call the police and claim they assaulted him. All Blair wanted was to get Jo and get out of there.

Blair walked up to Rick while the other man was still holding him. She wanted to say this and make sure he understood before they left. "If you ever touch Jo again, I will not stop them. And I will not care what they do to you." After the guard let go of Rick and pushed him away from them toward the apartment, Rick yelled at the exiting group. "Go ahead and leave you dyke. You're not worth the dog shit on the bottom of my shoe, anyway."

Blair at that time wanted to slap Rick. She knew the anger was rolling off her. Jo reached over and placed her hand on Blair's arm. "Blair, let's just go. Please." Blair nodded understanding to Jo as they reached down and placed the items that had fallen back into the box. Jo picked up her box and they all headed toward the cars waiting to drive them away.


Blair was talking 100 miles per hour, telling Jo how mad she was and how dare Rick ever hit Jo. How he had no right to talk to Jo like he had. She told Jo how first thing in the morning they were going to go see her lawyer and file for a divorce and a restraining order. How they would get the best lawyer in town, hell in the whole country, and if Jo wanted, they would wipe Rick out. After about 30 minutes of this, Jo, though she appreciated what Blair was doing, had to slow her down.

Jo's head was hurting, and all she wanted was to be somewhere as far away from all of this as possible. "Blair, please stop. It's over, and hopefully I'll never see him again. I doubt it. Rick doesn't give up easily and tonight we hurt his pride. But for tonight I would like to think I'll never see him again. Blair, I don't want to see a lawyer tomorrow. I promise I will do all those things you just asked, but for the next few days what I really want is to relax and get my head straight. I haven't had a good night of sleep in a long time, can we just go somewhere and let me think for a day or two?"

Blair looked at Jo and it hit her how tired Jo really looked. Blair realized what she needed to do at that moment was take Jo somewhere quiet and far away from the city and all her problems, She reached over and squeezed Jo's hand, thinking of the perfect place. She looked over and smiled at her friend. "I just had a brilliant idea."

Jo laughed and laid her head back on the head rest. She knew Blair would take care of what ever needed to be done.

Jo fell asleep, but she could hear Blair talking on the phone, making arrangements for the place that they would be staying at for the next couple of weeks. She felt Blair shake her so she could ask her a few questions. "Jo, what size are you? I know that's personal, but I'm going to have an assistant pick up some clothes for you. We can go shopping later, but you need something to get started with."

Jo proceeded to tell her everything from her jean size to her shoe size, the whole time thinking how Blair really did think of everything.


It took the rest of the day and a good portion of the evening to drive to their winter home, but Blair was glad she had choose this place for Jo's recovery. It was beautiful and she had forgotten just how beautiful it was.

It was an isolated home up in the mountains, surrounded by trees. She remembered as a child thinking the views were magnificent and loving playing in the snow. She couldn't believe the temperature difference between New York City and here. There still was snow on the ground up in the mountains. Not enough to make driving hard, but enough to make the scenery breathtaking.

Jo had slept through most of the drive. She occasionally woke up and offered to drive, but Blair always insisted she was fine and for Jo just to relax and sleep.

Blair started shaking Jo's arm trying to wake her from her deep sleep. "Jo wake up, come on Sweetie, we're here."

Jo opened one eye and looked at Blair, before smirking at her. "Sweetie."

Blair just smiled back. "Come on, Jo, let me show you this place. I used to love it when I was a kid. We would spend our winter vacations up here."

When the two friends walked into the house Jo was in awe of how beautiful it was. The home had large windows all around the house, making it possible to see the mountains. Though it was dark outside, the view was still unbelievable. Jo looked up and could see the stars through the treetops. She could see it had a deck almost completely surrounding the outside and large fireplace in the center of the room. The furniture in this house wasn't stuffy but, warm and inviting. She never pictured Blair's family having something as down to earth as this place. It was huge and expensively furnished, but comforting at the same time.

Blair reached and held her hand, pulling her to see more of the house. "Come on Jo. I'll show you your bedroom and bathroom." Just like the large family room when they first entered the house, the bedroom that Blair said would be hers was just as nice. Jo thought, 'if this is the guestroom, I wonder what the master bedroom looks like.' Jo was shocked to see nice, neat piles of new clothes were already there waiting on the bed when she entered. When she looked at Blair, Blair just shrugged and said Warner Industries had employees everywhere. Jo ran her hands over the new clothes thinking, how it had been years, if ever, since she had things this nice. After putting her clothes away and placing her box of personal items she removed from hers and Rick's apartment in the closet, Jo changed into her pajamas, looking forward to sleeping in the inviting bed in front of her.

After lying down, just before reaching over to turn her light off, she heard a light knocking on her door. "Come in Blair."

Blair walked over to Jo and sat on the edge of the bed. "Jo, is everything OK? Do you need anything before I go to sleep? Some water, more blankets just let me know." Jo watched her friend looking around the room checking to make sure everything was in order. "This was my room when we would visit when I was younger, I have a lot of nice memories in this room and I hope it will be the same for you." She then reached over and moved Jo's hair out of her eyes, still inwardly cringing at the bruises on Jo's face. "Seriously, do you need anything?"

All Jo could think was, how did she get so lucky to have this woman back in her life? This morning she was wishing Rick would just go ahead and kill her. That life couldn't get any worse. Yet here she was, less than twenty-four hours later, thinking how life can't get any better then this. "No, Blair, I'm fine, really. I just want to say thank you. You've done more than I could have ever expected." Looking down, not wanting to look in Blair's eyes, She said, "More than I deserve after how I talked to you that night."

Blair was having nothing of this. She cupped Jo's chin, moving her face upward so she could see her eyes. "Jo, that night was a long time ago and you deserve so much more than this." She then leaned down and kissed Jo on the forehead, before getting up to go into her own room. "Night, Jo."

As Jo reached over to turn off her light, she answered back, "Good night, Blair."


Safe was the feeling Jo was experiencing at this time, as she laid under the covers in her bed. She never wanted to get up. But her bladder and stomach were letting her know that wasn't what they wanted to do. She could smell coffee and something else, so she was pretty sure Blair was cooking.

After using the rest room and brushing her teeth, Jo headed down to the kitchen to see what Blair was trying to cook. In the light of day, Jo could see how beautiful this place was. Windows everywhere and the views were either of large trees or mountains.

Then she looked toward the kitchen at another beautiful view; Blair cooking. "Hey Princess, please tell me you've learned to cook since college." Blair walked to the table placing croissants and jam in the center, before heading back to the kitchen to carry the two cups of coffee to the table. "Jo, I'll have you know I mastered the skill of warming up bread products years ago. Come sit. Let's eat before the croissants get cold."

Jo walked to the table. Picking up her coffee to drink, after taking a sip, she smiled at Blair. "You still remember how I take my coffee?"

Blair just smiled. "You know Jo, you don't live with somebody eight years and forget. Besides that, how could I forget? If we ever ran out of cream we heard about it all day. Nothing worse than grumpy Jo." Blair looked around the table, realizing she had forgotten the butter. As she headed toward the kitchen, she gently squeezed Jo shoulder, "Sometimes I would hide the cream just to see you pout."

Jo laughed at her friend. "I knew you did that. Nat and Tootie said you wouldn't dare, but I knew you did."

Jo turned serious as Blair walked away. "Blair, you know I'm not like the old Jo you knew at school. I'm not that street kid any more. I'm scared more than I'm brave. I used to think I could do anything, but now I don't know anything anymore."

Blair just turned toward her friend, and said "Jo, you still can do anything. You've already taken the first step."

Jo wasn't going to argue with Blair. She knew what she was, and had not Blair walked back into her life, chances were good she would have never taken that first step.


Jo stood, looking at herself in the mirror. She really could look at the bruises in the brightly lit house. She had put on the jeans Blair had sent for her and it felt good to be wearing clothes that fit. When Jo really looked at what Blair had ordered for her to wear, it surprised her how nice everything was, and very much her taste. She half expected the girly type clothes that Blair liked to wear, but instead what she found were jeans, and varying tops and sweaters, several belts and two different colored ankle boots along with one pair of tennis shoes. How was it this old friend knew her better than both her husband and her family?

What she loved the most was the leather jacket Blair had picked out. Black, soft and obviously expensive. She held it to her nose and smelled it for several seconds. She had forgotten how nice leather smelled.

After picking out a dark green sweater to go with her jeans, a brown belt and the brown boots, Jo walked out of her bedroom to rejoin Blair in the den.

Blair looked up from her laptop as Jo entered the room. She couldn't help but see that Jo was looking like Jo again. When she called she specifically ask for the sweater Jo was wearing. She remembered it from their winter clothing line and thought Jo would look great in it. Then again, everything she asked them to send she knew Jo would look good in. She snickered to herself, thinking about all the years she tried dress Jo the way she dressed. But once really given the chance she opted to dress Jo the way she figured Jo would want to dress. She watched Jo the whole time; from when she exited her room until she was standing right in front of her.

Jo was starting to sense that Blair was staring at her. "What? Blair, you're starting to make me nervous."

Blair just walked over and ran her hand up and down Jo's arm. "I must say, I still have great taste. You look great."

Jo blushed a little at the complement. "Thanks, I think." Then she looked up into Blair eyes. "Blair, thank you again for everything."

Blair squeezed Jo's arm reassuringly. "You're welcome again. New rule, Jo. Stop thanking me. Remember, I already know how wonderful I am." Jo smiled toward Blair as she walked off, knowing this was just Blair's way of letting her off the hook.

As Blair entered her bedroom, she didn't hear Jo whisper, "Yeah, but Blair, maybe I'm just now realizing it."




Blair could not believe the ease of living together with Jo. It was like the last six years hadn't happened.

Blair knew both of them had changed. She had become more experienced and less naïve. But it was as if Jo had been sheltered for the last six years. Jo was quieter than she had been in the past, more reflective. The self-sufficient, self-assured Jo had been replaced with a less secure and fearful woman. Blair couldn't even fathom what Jo's life must have been like; horrendous, no doubt.

But every now and then when Blair least expected it, bits of the old Jo would appear.

Blair walked over to the window that faced the garage hoping to get a glimpse of the old Jo she was thinking about now.

The second day after they had arrived, Jo came bounding up the stairs, asking if Blair knew anything about the old car stored in the garage. Like Blair knew anything about cars. All she knew about the car was that it was her dad's when he was younger, and unlike most of his cars, her dad just couldn't let go of it. It has been in storage in the garage for years, waiting for the day her dad had time for it.

Jo had looked at Blair dumbfounded, not believing Blair wouldn't understand the worth of the car. Jo told her the car was a classic; a 1969 Mustang. She asked if she could work on it. If she could get it running, Blair could give it to her Dad as a surprise.

That day they spent hours in the town's automotive store. A type of shopping Blair hoped she never had to endure again. Then Jo stayed up that night happily searching the internet for car parts.

This morning, Blair couldn't help but enjoy watching Jo from the window. Jo was in her element, bent over the engine in deep concentration. Determined to get that old car running. Blair had to frown a little at the clothes Jo was wearing. Jo, not wanting to ruin any of her new clothes, had chosen the clothes she was wearing when Blair met her at the park. Blair decided right then and there and she didn't care how mad Jo got. As soon as she had a chance she was burning that outfit. They would buy work clothes. Blair didn't want anything on or near Jo that was from her days with Rick. Though Jo didn't seem to have problems with the clothes Blair did, they had to go.

The other thing Blair had decided was that she needed to work. Though she loved watching and being with Jo, she knew she needed to be doing something else. Her vacation was put on hold indefinitely. Plus deep down she hoped when she did reschedule her trip, Jo would go with her.

Blair called her personal assistant and set it up for her to work from her home. Blair loved and embraced new technologies, thankful that most of her work could be done via the internet. She also made arrangements for one of her most trusted associates to come to her home as necessary with whatever she needed to see or sign in person. Blair knew she was probably being paranoid. She just felt the fewer people that knew where she and Jo were, the better.

Jo hadn't seemed willing to see a lawyer yet. Blair knew it wasn't because Jo was having second thoughts, but more she was still terrified of the possibility of running into Rick. Jo would have to face up to fact that until she divorced Rick, she would never be free of him.

Looking down at her watch, she started to wonder where Helen was. Helen was the one associate that Blair trusted with everything. Not only work, but with most aspects of her personal life.

Blair had met Helen while she was learning the ropes of her Dad's company. She was instantly drawn to her as both a coworker and someone she could unburden her heart to. She had, at that time, lost her best friend, and even her relationship with her parents had taken a strange turn.

Blair thought back to the days that followed Jo's marriage. She was devastated and depressed. She went to mother's home wanting to get away from all the questions Dorothy and Natalie were asking.

At her mother's home she found new questions being asked, not only by her mother, but in what she considered an ambush, by her father when her mother called him. The two of them kept asking questions, she herself didn't really know the answers to at the time.

They couldn't understand why Blair cried for days over the loss of Jo. They had never seen her get this upset over any boy she had ever dated. They tried to tell her she wasn't acting normal, that girls didn't act like this over the loss of a girlfriend. Jo wasn't family and Blair's reaction was inappropriate and bizarre.

Blair herself at the time didn't understand it either, nor did she know how to explain it. She knew what her parents were hinting at. She could see the disappointment all over her mother's face in the accusations.

Blair felt like her heart had been ripped out. Like part of her soul was gone. She didn't want to get out of bed because she knew her world was now a world without Jo. She honestly wondered if she would ever be happy again.

Blair's father suggested she go work at his company as a way to get her mind off Jo. He hoped that by encouraging Blair to work, maybe somehow she would meet a nice young man that would help return life back to how it should be.

Life did return to a somewhat normal existence. Blair excelled in the corporate world. She showed her parents she truly was a Warner. But the days of a different suitor every night were gone. Blair did date an occasional man, mostly to make her parents happy. Mostly she worked and climbed her way to the top.

During this time, she met Helen. Helen was close to her own age and just as ambitious. Like Blair, she never felt the need to use or step on others to make it to the top. One night the two decided to go out and have a few drinks after work. That was when Blair opened up to her about Jo and her relationship with her parents.

After listening to Blair talk, Helen plainly told her. "Blair, you loved your friend and you're heartbroken. That's what your parents don't understand. It's OK, you know to love somebody and miss them. To hurt for the loss. She must have been a very special person for you to have loved her the way you obviously did."

Blair knew at that moment Helen understood her feelings, and from that night on Blair told her everything and knew she had made a trusted friend.

By the time Helen had arrived, Jo had stopped working on the car and was showering. Jo needed to run into town to pick up a few groceries to help with that evening's dinner. She really didn't think Blair would appreciate her meeting Helen covered from head to toe with grease.

Blair had been excited all day at the prospect of Jo and Helen finally meeting. After Helen's arrival, Blair quickly showed Helen the study so she could put her briefcase and laptop down before heading to the den to meet Jo.

When Jo exited her bedroom she was dressed in black from head to toe. With her slim figure and boyish build, she looked great.

Helen just looked at Blair, realizing why Blair had introduced the androgynous line to the Warner Fashions. Even if Blair didn't realize it, Helen had no doubt who was in Blair's subconscious when she helped design that particular line.

After quick introductions, Jo picked up Blair's car keys, excusing herself to run to the store.

Helen couldn't wait. She had to get the scoop about Jo. The last time Jo's name had come up was years ago, and until yesterday she didn't even know Jo was back in Blair's life. So after Jo was out of the house, Helen seized the moment to drill Blair. "Blair, what happened? Why are you and Jo hiding here in the mountain? When did you and Jo make up, and how? And most of all, Blair why didn't you tell me how hot she is? Is she seeing anyone?"

Blair just shook her head at her friend's questions. "Let me see if I can remember and answer all your questions. No, she not seeing anyone, but stay away, she's straight."

Helen just looked at Blair skeptically before responding. "Yeah, and you're totally straight. Please."

Blair just looked at her friend before responding, "Do you want me to continue?" Helen nodded positively. Blair continued. "Yes, Jo is straight. She's just now getting out of an abusive marriage. Some mutual friends came to me when they realized what was going on with Jo. I offered help, Jo accepted. The reason I chose to come up here with her is simple. I felt the remoteness of this house would offer a sanctuary for Jo."

Helen couldn't help but think what nice simple answers Blair had for everything. But Helen had to ask the most important question of all. "Blair, are you still in love with Jo?"

Blair stood back slightly stupefied before answering this question. "I'm not in love with Jo. I love Jo, but I'm not in love."

Helen just shook her head in disbelief. "Blair, remember the first six months of our friendship, you were crying on my shoulder about this Jo person not being in your life. How you couldn't see your life without her in it. I've listened to you recant date after date. Yet I can't think of one other person you've had the passion toward, like you did when you talked about Jo. I don't know anything about Jo, but I do feel I know you. Maybe it's time you really examine your feelings toward this woman."


Jo strolled up and down the aisles of the grocery store, trying to figure out what they were going to have for dessert. She had the main course figured out, but dessert for some reason was harder for her to come up with. Jo knew how important it was to Blair for tonight to go well.

All morning Blair went on and on about how she couldn't wait for her two friends to meet. Jo wanted to make sure this night was perfect. She looked at the time and realized she needed to get moving. Blair and Helen probably would be finishing up with business soon and would be ready to start cooking tonight's meal.

'Cheesecake'. Jo thought, 'you can't go wrong with cheesecake'.

While Jo was driving home she couldn't help but think back to her days in Eastland. She remembered the first time she met Blair, thinking what a snob she was.

Then, as the years past she felt herself constantly drawn to Blair but not able to let go of her own animosity toward Blair's money. She remembered how anytime Blair tired to help her, she always accused Blair of throwing her money around. Trying to buy her or other people.

Thinking about it now, Jo realized it wasn't Blair trying to buy people off, or even her trying to buy her love or friendship. It was simply, Blair cared. Blair really wanted to help Jo out in their younger days. She wasn't trying to show off. Or trying to make Jo look inferior to everyone else. She was just trying to be a friend. Jo wondered now why couldn't she see that then. Looking back at it now she wondered who the real snob was.

Why didn't she listen to Blair that night?

It didn't take long after Jo married Rick for her to realize she had made a mistake. Their honeymoon was a disaster. Try as she could, she couldn't shake her fight with Blair.

Saying Rick was unsympathetic was an understatement.

The first time he hit her was while they were on their honeymoon. He apologized profusely, promising it would never happen again. But he pointed out how had Jo not been so upset about her fight with Blair. Had she put him first like a wife should, he would have never hit her. So even though Rick had hit Jo, Jo felt it was her fault and pledged she would do what ever she had to, to be a good wife. She would learn to put her husband first and work to make their marriage work.

As the marriage progressed, so did the beatings. Jo found herself embarrassed. She used all her energy hiding what was going on in her marriage. Later she found herself friendless and out of touch with her family. She realized then had she listened to her family and Blair, she wouldn't be in the mess she was in. As much as she hated it, her decisions and hardheadedness had been the cause of her problems. She had to learn to live with it. Jo didn't see a way out. Her only consolation was the fact she and Rick didn't have any kids.

Then one day out of nowhere Blair showed up in her life. Just like the first day she met Blair at Eastland, Blair had once again turned her world upside down.

As Jo pulled up to the house she couldn't help closing her eyes thanking God or whatever higher power there was out there. Thanking him for bringing Blair back into her life.


Jo had to admit she liked Blair's friend on principle. Helen wasn't anything like the debutantes Jo remembered Blair constantly hanging around with at Eastland or Langley. No, Helen was nice. She was down to earth. Helen exuded class similarly to Blair. She was a person Jo could see herself maybe becoming friends with.

Jo only had one problem with Helen. Blair. She didn't understand it. Jo knew she was being unreasonable. But every time the two women would laugh at some inside joke, Jo could feel her insides cringe. Not at being left out of the joke but the fact this woman had inside jokes with Blair. Anytime Helen would touch Blair, Jo didn't care if it was Helen holding Blair's arm while the two laughed at Blair's attempts at cooking before Jo ran her out of the kitchen. Or Helen patting Blair's hand in reassurance when discussions became more serious. Jo didn't want that woman touching Blair.

Jo didn't understand her own feelings. Never in her life had she been possessive of her friends. She hated that bitchiness that women sometimes got into, when they felt their friends were only suppose to be best friends with each other. But she was feeling that way now, she wanted that women to go home. Go far away and never come back.

Jo did her best to keep her feelings to herself. Being married to Rick had made her a pro at hiding feelings. Jo just hoped when Helen announced it was time for her to head home, Blair didn't pick up the joyous relief in Jo's attitude.

Blair, for her part, was clue free about Jo's feelings. Helen, on the other hand, picked up on the attitude pretty quickly. Helen even encouraged it, by cozying up to Blair a little more than usual. Helen hoped Blair would pick up on the signals. But of course Blair, being Blair, was clue free the entire evening. Blair was just happy having her two friends together.

Blair walked Helen to her car. She wanted to say goodnight and thank her for a lovely evening. Helen decided maybe she should step in and give her friend a push in the direction she could see was inevitable. "Blair, I don't think Jo cares too much for me."

Blair looked shocked. "Don't be silly. Jo likes you. Why do you feel like she doesn't?"

Helen reached over to hug Blair goodnight, whispering in her ear. "Let me put it this way, she might like me if we met anywhere but here. I have a feeling Jo wants to be that person that's always closest to you. I was intruding into her territory."

Blair was still questioning what Helen was referring to. "I am close to Jo, she's my oldest and dearest friend. She knows that."

Helen proceeded to get into her car. "You two are so clueless. Night Blair."

Blair stopped on the porch and sat down. She needed to think about the day. Think about what Helen had said about examining her feelings toward Jo. She thought back to the evening with Jo and Helen. Blair was starting to comprehend what Helen was saying about Jo. Jo really was overly friendly. Jo's actions were very similar to hers when she had to meet clients she was trying to make deals with. Very controlled, always laughing at the right time, always saying the perfect thing to make everyone happy. Perfect but false.

Blair had to smile, finally realizing something. She was in love with Jo Polniaczek and maybe Jo loved her. Blair's problem now was how to find out what Jo's feelings really were.

Blair walked into the house just as Jo was loading the last of the dishes in the dishwasher. Jo smiled up toward her friend before speaking. "Ah, I see some things will always stay the same. Great timing, Blair."

Blair continued to walk toward the kitchen, feeling a little feral, her prey in sight. "Jo, Helen doesn't think you like her." Jo stopped her cleaning to look directly at Blair. "I like her OK, she's your friend so it doesn't matter what I think, anyway."

'Helen was right', thought Blair. Then Blair, feeling brave, asked. "You're not a little jealous of our friendship are you?"

Jo felt a little trapped and a little unnerved by both the line of questions and the way Blair was looking at her. Blair never took her eyes off of Jo. Jo felt she was watching every reaction, gauging her answers. "No Blair I'm not jealous, you can have friends. Look, I'm going to go to bed. I'll see you in the morning." 'God please let me get to my room so we can end this conversation'. Thought Jo.

Before Jo could make her exit, Blair had walked over to Jo, invading her personal space. Blair gently stroked Jo's cheek, feeling Jo involuntarily leaning toward her hand. Jo closed her eyes at the closeness of Blair. Blair whispered in to Jo's ear. "You are the most important person in my life."

Then it was over. Jo watched as Blair turned and exited toward her bedroom.

Jo just stood there, her heart beating 100mph. She briefly wandered if her legs would support her if she were to walk to her own bedroom.

Blair, before entering her bedroom, stole a look at Jo. Blair could see she had caused Jo to become a little off balanced. She enjoyed the reaction she was seeing. 'I can still leave them wondering. Even Jo.' she thought as she entered her bedroom.

That night, as Jo laid in bed, all she could do was look up toward the ceiling, thinking. Never in her life had she been as confused as she was at that moment. Part of her wanted to go into Blair's room and ask what she meant by what she said. Part of her wanted to run. Run from these feelings she was becoming acutely aware of.

She had always been hypersensitive as far as Blair was concerned. An internal tug of war. Jo remembered fighting with Blair, yet still wanting to be close to her. She thought back to how they fought, and at times even saying hateful things to each other. That was OK. But let anyone else say anything about Blair and they received the full wrath of Jo. She always figured it was because they had become more like sisters. But thinking back, she never was that way about Natalie or Tootie. She knew she loved her two younger roommates like sisters. But somehow her relationship with Blair was different.

Maybe that's why Blair disapproval of her marriage hurt so bad. She couldn't handle the thought of Blair not approving something so important in her life. When she thought she had finally pushed Blair completely out, she just gave up and accepted what she felt was the hand she had dealt herself.

Jo remembered having crushes on women, but she figured it was being at an all girl school that brought those feelings out. Plus she had read that a lot of girls experiment when they are younger. So she just pushed those feelings aside. She was already different than most of the girls in her school, she sure didn't need to add that, making her stand out even more.

Jo hated to admit it even now. Everyone thought Jo marched to the beat of her own drummer, that she didn't care what others thought. In actuality, she was just like every other girl, wanting to fit in, to be liked. Any feelings she might have had toward girls she pushed aside, trying to fit into the norm as much as possible.

What bothered Jo tonight with Blair was that her little stunt in kitchen had sent electricity through her body like she had never felt with a guy.

When Jo had married she was relatively inexperienced with men. Yes, she had dated. But she never let the guys take it too far. Light petting on their side, but very little from her. High school boys always seemed fine with that. In college she just let the guys know she was waiting for marriage. They either moved on or treated her like she was the one they might bring home to meet their mothers.

Then she married Rick. Sex with Rick had always been awful. She even rationalized that as another reason she deserved the treatment she received from Rick. She had to force herself to touch him. Touching him always felt foreign for her. She did it, always chanting in her head, do it and it will be over soon. But she hated it.

At the end of their relationship, Rick would just come in, do what he had to do to satisfy himself, then usually fall asleep without even saying anything. Jo preferred it that way. She didn't have to participate. Just be there.

So lying here in her bed, Jo couldn't figure out, or maybe she didn't want to face up to the fact that all she wanted to do at that moment was touch Blair. Jo wanted to hold Blair and she wanted Blair to hold her. Jo never thought of herself as gay, but tonight the only person she could see herself with was Blair. She just hoped and prayed she was reading Blair correctly and maybe Blair wanted the same thing.


Blair sat at the kitchen table enjoying her coffee. She could hear Jo stomping around in her bedroom. Jo was mad, which in a perverted way made Blair happy. The old Jo was slowly coming back.

Silly as it sounded, Blair was glad to see Jo's temper. She felt the temper tantrum being thrown by Jo was a sign that Jo was feeling secure enough to let her true feelings out. Blair was just waiting for the verbal tantrum she was hoping would follow.

Jo was in her bedroom realizing Blair had done something with her work clothes. Jo had planned to get up early and spend the day working on the car. She wanted some time away from Blair to think. But hell no, she couldn't. Blair had done something with her clothes.

Jo had checked the laundry room first, thinking maybe Blair had washed them for her. Then thinking about the ludicrousness of that, she went back to her room once again checking through her dirty clothes.

Jo knew she was slamming things around, and she hoped Blair knew she was mad. Blair once again was butting in where she didn't need to. Now she would have to run into town and buy some jeans and a t-shirt before she could even start her day. Damnit, she wanted to strangle Blair.

Jo finally decided it was time to ask Blair. This was not the conversation she thought she would be having today with Blair. As a matter of fact her plans were to avoid Blair this morning.

When Jo walked into the kitchen she could see the smug look on Blair's face. Jo asked calmly, "Blair, where are my clothes?"

Blair decided to act like she didn't know what Jo was talking about. "In your closet, maybe in your bureau."

Jo remained calm. "Let me reword my question. Blair, where are my work clothes?"

Blair couldn't help it, she found this deliciously fun. She reverted back to her as Jo called it, Princess mood. "Oh those dreadful things. I burned them."

Jo just stood there, not believing what she was hearing. "You burned my clothes. Why would you burn my work clothes Blair? I can't believe you burned my work clothes."

Blair just shrugged her shoulders, turning her attention back to her coffee. "They were ugly, plus they did nothing to show off that sexy body of yours."

Jo could feel herself blushing. She didn't know how to respond to that. Blair had won this one.

She walked over to the counter picking up Blair's car keys, and her wallet. Mumbling under her breath, but loud enough for Blair to hear. "Work clothes aren't supposed to be sexy. Geez."

As Jo closed the door Blair had to smile, that was just way too much fun.

Part 3

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