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
SATURDAY MORNING PENTHOUSE
Blair loved being awakened by an amorous Jo. It was the best way to start her morning. Glancing at the clock beside the bed, she realized even though Jo was quite persuasive there was no way they had time for what Jo had in mind.
"Jo, we have to get up, sorry sweetie." Blair stated, while trying to slow Jo's advances down.
Jo wasn't going to be detoured, having what she thought was the perfect solution. "We'll just shower together. That will save time."
When she felt Blair laughing at her, she stopped, looking at Blair to see what was so funny. "Blair, this isn't the mood I'm going for."
Blair continued to dislodge herself out of Jo's grip. "Sweetie, when have we ever saved time showering together? Come on Jo, get up, you know the make-up and lighting crew is going to be here in a couple of hours. We have to get ready. Besides after last night "
Jo kissed Blair mid sentence. "Are you sure we don't have time to shower together?"
Blair looked at the clock. "Just shower right?"
Jo couldn't help but smile as she jumped out of the bed, grabbing Blair's hands. "Yeah, just shower."
TWO HOURS LATER
Jo opened the door, letting the first crew in to start preparations for the photo shoot that would take place before the interview.
"Come in, Blair will be out shortly she's running a bit late. I can help you till she comes out, I'm Jo." Jo said while offering her hand to shake.
When Blair finally exited the bedroom, the make-up woman was just finishing with Jo. Jo hating the feeling of having two inches of goop on her face and was more than happy to relinquish the chair to Blair. "Here, Blair, have a seat. I'll go fix you a cup of coffee."
The make-up artist looked at Blair's make-up, realizing other than adding a little powder to help with the shine of the lighting, Blair's makeup was flawless. But she couldn't help but remark to Blair about her previous client. "You know putting make-up on your friend was like having a child in my chair. I've never seen such squirming."
Jo walked up to the two women, handing Blair her coffee. Blair, with a mischievous look in her eyes, smiled at Jo. "You should hear her whine when she really wants something."
Jo felt herself blush slightly, thinking back to a few hours earlier. Jo smiled at Blair, knowing she was the reason for Blair's tardiness. It was a great way to start the morning.
The photo session went well. They took pictures of Jo and Blair in what were supposed to be natural poses, like standing in the kitchen with cups of coffee, or sitting in the den relaxing like most couples. What the photographer was going for was the look of a normal couple at home. They also took pictures of Blair alone with backdrops they provided, knowing she would be on the cover alone. This was a big story for this publication and getting it perfect was everyone's goal.
When Blair and Jo met with Natalie for lunch they told her about Rick and what he had planned. She had suggested they use a celebrity/gossip type magazine. One that was weekly and well respected. Though not the type magazine Blair was used to seeing her name in, she had to agree with Natalie on this one. So when Natalie called her friend at People magazine, they were more than happy to jump at the exclusiveness of a story on the Warner heiress.
The journalist was thrilled at the openness she found in the couple. When Natalie had called asking if she wanted to do an interview of an old school friend of hers, and then finding out it was with Blair Warner, she didn't know what she was expecting. Maybe some rich snob wanting to manipulate the press. What she found instead were two delightful women who before the interview was over had won her over with their story and their charm.
She assured both women this was going to be a coming out story with Blair on the cover and their story being the context of the article. It would lightly mention Jo's troubled marriage, not wanting to appear to be trying the case before it hit the courts, but making it clear about their years of friendship. It would discuss Jo recent decision to end her marriage and how through their friendship and Blair's offer to help, the two finally realized the extent of their feelings. Blair was open about her sexuality, with Jo admitting she was just now coming to terms with hers.
By the time the interview and photos were done, both women could tell this journalist was more than thrilled with the exclusive story she had. Blair and Jo felt she would do them justice with her article.
Jo and Blair sat in the cab on their way to the Bronx. They had decided Jo's old neighborhood wasn't the best part of New York to park a Porsche.
There wasn't much conversation in the cab. Both ladies were coming to grip with the fact that in less than a week their relationship would be out in the open Blair was used to press, being raised in a famous family. Jo was still coming to terms with the fact that her private life was now going to be public information.
Blair was the first to break the silence as she looked out the window of the cab. Blair wasn't used to this side of town. She had accompanied Jo a few times in their youths to visit Jo's mother. But looking at the slums through adult eyes was much different than she remembered as a teen. "Jo, if you'll let me, I can move your mom out of this neighborhood."
Jo reached over and took Blair's hand. "Blair, my mom has lived here all her life, I'm not sure she would want to move. Plus, I think if we start moving my family your dad might have something to say about that."
Blair continued to hold Jo's hand while looking out into the run down part of the city. "I'm only talking about your mom, I don't care what my dad thinks. Can we agree my offer is always open?"
Jo herself was looking around, noticing even more graffiti than she remembered as a child. "Thanks I appreciate that."
Earlier that day Jo had called her mother asking if she could come home and talk to her. Blair smiled, hearing the screams of joy from Jo's mom at the request through the phone line. Jo didn't tell her mother anything. She figured she would fill her mom in on everything when she saw her. But it made Jo happy knowing her mother still wanted to see her, even after the way she had pushed her family out of her life.
When they pulled in front of the complex, it struck both women what sad shape the building was in. The paint on the doors and windows was thick and peeling. Jo knew to Blair this probably looked a little like hell. But she also knew to her mother this was home.
Rose had been watching from her window when Jo's taxi pulled up. She was so excited to see her daughter she didn't even notice who was in the taxi. Blair paid the taxi and before she even had time to catch up with Jo at the top of the stairs, Rose had the communal door to the complex open and Jo in a hug.
Blair had a hard time fighting back the tears that were threatening to fall from her eyes as she watched Jo and her mother standing in the doorway, both crying hard at the relief of seeing each other. She could hear Jo repeat over and over again how sorry she was, all the while Rose continued to repeat how it was O.K., and how happy she was to have her baby girl back.
While Rose was wiping the tears from her eyes, she finally noticed Blair standing at the bottom of the stairs. "Blair?"
Blair made her way up the stairs, hugging Rose. "It's nice to see you Rose, it's been a long time."
Rose didn't really understand why Blair was with Jo, all she knew was her daughter was home and she was grateful. "Thank you, if you had anything to do with this."
She then turned to her daughter, asking. "Jo, how's Rick?"
Jo looked at her mother, hoping for understanding about the failed marriage and everything she was about to tell her. "Mom, I'm divorcing Rick. Can we go upstairs? I have so much to say and tell you."
The first thing Jo noticed when she really looked at her mom was how much her mom had aged in six years. She couldn't help but wonder how much of the aging was caused by her. Her mother had always had a hard life, working numerous jobs to support her after her father left. Then how did Jo thank her? She too like her father had left her mom. Not in the same way her father had, but she had still deserted her.
When Rose left the room to fix everyone a glass of tea, Jo whispered to Blair. "I don't know if I can do this. I've hurt her so much I can't do it again."
Blair looked toward the kitchen, watching for Rose's return. "Jo, you have to. If you don't she'll probably find out next week when the magazine comes out. Jo, you can do this."
Rose having heard Blair's last comment asked. "You can do what, Jo?"
Jo took the two glasses of tea from her mother's hands, handing one to Blair. "Mom this is hard for me to say. Please have a seat while I try to explain everything that has happened in my life. Why I broke off contact and why I never called. I hate I didn't listen to you guys. Had I listened to you and Dad and later Blair, I would have never married Rick. I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I let him convince me that I was better off without my family. I ashamed that I let my pride keep me from coming home years ago when I knew I had made a mistake in marrying Rick. Mom my marriage is over. It's probably been over for years. Now looking back I really wonder if there ever was love in my marriage. I know I don't love him and I think looking back at it now he probably never loved me. I was a possession to him, something to control. Mom my marriage was an abusive marriage and I'm ashamed I let it go as long as I did."
Rose just looked at her daughter, not understanding. "Why didn't you come home? I would have understood. Jo, you knew I didn't have the greatest track record when it came to men."
Jo continued with her explanation. "Mom I wish I could explain it. I was scared. I was deeply ashamed and embarrassed for letting someone destroy my relationship with you and dad. It finally felt like I didn't have a choice. I had made my discussions and had to live with them. I honestly felt nobody cared or loved me anymore."
Rose reached over, pulling Jo into a hug. "Joanna Marie, there is nothing that will ever make me not love you. You're my baby girl. Jo what happened to make you decide to end your marriage?"
Jo reached over and took Blair's hand in hers. "Blair."
Blair gently squeezed Jo's hand in reassurance, knowing she still had more to tell her mother. "Mom you remember Natalie from school?"
Rose nodded positively, thinking about the other two girls from Jo's teen years, that had become so important in her life at the time. "Of course I remember Natalie, I even see her name occasionally in the press."
Jo leaned back into the couch, wanting to feel Blair's warmth beside her as she continued with her story. "Natalie ran to me at the mall one day when I was trying on jeans. She noticed a few bruises on me. I thought she was going to disregard what she saw and let me continue with my life as it was. But what she did instead was she went to Blair and asked Blair to help me. Blair did. Mom just like when we were teenagers, Blair was there for me. She's helped get my life back. She's helped me realize I don't deserve Rick's treatment. She showed me what I had with Rick wasn't love or any bases for a marriage. Now that I know what love is I realize it was something that my marriage never had."
"What do you mean now that you know what real love is?" Rose asked.
Jo looked at Blair, then looked at her mother, hoping she would accept what she was about to be told. "Mom, I know what it feels like to truly be in love. I want to get my life back together so I can have a future and a strong relationship. I want to get rid of the luggage in my life. Make amends to people I've hurt. Get my life right so I can move on. I'm hoping that not only will you forgive me for shutting you out of my life. But you will accept this new relationship in my life. Mom, I'm really in love and want to spend my life with her."
Rose sat there shocked. She had her daughter back. But she was in love with a woman. "Her?"
Jo looked her mom in her eyes, pleading for acceptance. "Blair."
Rose sat there stunned and still somewhat shocked. Shocked more about Blair than Jo. Blair was so feminine, not falling into any of the stereotype of a lesbian she had pictured. She had feared while Jo was growing up, that Jo might have leanings toward becoming gay. She was always so different then most of the girls. Try as she could Rose never got Jo to enjoy most of the things little girls enjoyed. Make-up, dressing up, or even playing with dolls was something Jo never liked. Being labeled as a tomboy was fine with Jo. She liked the title and preferred hanging with the guys anyway. Cars, engines and motorcycles were what she enjoyed growing up.
Rose always felt Jo relationships with boys were always more of a way for Jo to escape from her problems. Jo had a few boyfriends growing up but she always seemed stiff around the boys she dated. Jo never seem to have the infatuation with boys most girls had toward boys. Even with Rick she never felt Jo loved him or understood what love was. With Rick she felt Jo was taken in with his charismatic charm and his overpowering control. But she married him anyway, even with the reservations her family had toward him.
Rose had lit many candles for Jo after Mass hoping she would find the right man, then later that she was happy and would one day find her way back home. But looking at Jo and Blair she didn't think this was what God would want.
Rose was torn. Part of her was thrilled to have Jo back. She had prayed for this everyday for years. But she didn't know if she could accept this relationship, it went against everything her church believed. "Jo, I don't want you to disappear again, but I honestly don't know if I can accept this relationship. Honey, you know the church teaches against homosexuality. It's a sin, it's not natural."
Jo felt her insides being torn apart. She wanted her mom's acceptance, but she knew she couldn't live without Blair anymore. She also knew if she had to choose between her family and Blair, Blair would win and her mother once again would be hurt. She just desperately hoped it wouldn't come to that. "Mom, the church also says it's a sin to divorce or live with someone out of wedlock. And I know our family has used birth control through the years or there would be a lot more Polniaczeks running around. Mom I can live with the church's disapproval. I just hope I don't have to live with yours. Mom, I want my mom and dad back in my life."
Both Jo and Blair caught the strange look that crossed Rose's face before she spoke. She turned pale and had a surprise look on her face before she continued to talk to her daughter. "Joanna, I love you period. You are my baby girl, my only child. My love is unconditional no matter what. I want you to understand that. You " she then looked over to Blair. " and Blair will always be welcomed in my home. But don't expect me to give my blessings on this relationship. I can't. It just goes against everything I believe."
Jo couldn't hold back the tears. It hurt that her mom couldn't accept her relationship with Blair. Yet still she was relieved her mother still loved her. "But you still love me?"
Rose pulled Jo into a hug, crying herself at the emotions she too was feeling. "Yes honey, I'll always love you."
Rose and Jo continued to hug each other for several minutes with Jo relaxing into her embrace. Jo felt like a child again, safe and loved. Jo knew she still needed to get things right with her father. She couldn't find him. She and Blair searched the web for his number, checking each state. They found there weren't many Charles Polniaczeks. But each time they called a number it never turned out to be Jo's father. They figured maybe his phone number was unlisted. So Jo had to ask her mother. "Mom, I can't find Dad. Do you know where he is or his phone number?"
Jo could feel her mother grow still. She moved away from her daughter, before reaching down and placing her hands on Jo's hands. Jo could see pain and hurt written all over her mother's face as she looked sympathetically at her daughter. "Jo, I'm so sorry. I thought you knew. We called, but Rick always answered the phone. He told us he would tell you." Rose at this point was starting to cry again.
Blair was sitting up and moving closer to Jo, sensing the news was not going to be good. She feared how much more Jo could take. She already had a feeling she knew what Rose was going to say. She just hoped she was wrong. How much more hurt could Rick cause before they could get him out of their lives?
Jo could feel the tears falling rapidly from her own eyes knowing what was coming next. She wanted to get up and run. She didn't want to hear what her mother had to say. And yet she couldn't help but ask. "Mom, where's Dad?"
Rose pulled herself together knowing she had to do this. "Jo, you father passed away almost two years ago."
Jo sat stunned. "How? He can't be dead. I didn't get to tell him good-bye. That I loved him."
At this point both Blair and Rose were huddle close to Jo. Trying to give her the support she needed to handle the news. Rose's heart was breaking. Rick had convinced them Jo didn't want to attend the funeral. How could she have believed him? She was starting to understand Jo's decisions. If Rick was able to convince her that Jo didn't care about her father's funeral, he was capable of convincing Jo nobody loved her anymore. "Jo, your father had a heart attack. He died suddenly, there was nothing anyone could do for him. Honey, he knew you loved him."
Jo wasn't convinced. "How could he? I haven't talk to him in years. Oh God. Oh God. I can't believe this."
Blair pulled Jo into her arms as the pain in Jo's face and body language became more evident. Blair looked at Rose, her eyes pleading for Rose to say something to help ease the pain that seemed to consuming Jo's whole being.
Rose tried to talk to her daughter, somehow hoping she would believe her. "Jo, your Dad understood. Remember he left your life for several years. But he never stopped loving you. Jo, your Dad knew you loved him. Like me, he was just waiting for you to come home. Don't ever think he didn't know that."
Jo could hear what her mother was saying. She could feel Blair's arm around her trying to give her comfort. But what she heard mostly was her brain telling herself over and over again how this couldn't be true. This had to be a nightmare. Nobody could be so heartless as to not tell someone their father had died.
Jo kept hearing Blair speak to her, but it was as if Blair was miles away. Just an echo in her head asking over and over again if she was OK.
Jo started to focus again as to what was going on around her. She realized the pain she was feeling now was far worse than any pain Rick had caused before. She couldn't breathe. She felt closed in. Trapped. Guilty. She didn't get to say bye to her dad. She didn't get to make it right.
She looked over at Blair. She had to get out. She needed a different reality. She wanted to go with Blair where it was safe. She had to get away. "Blair, I want to go."
Blair looked at Rose, torn. She hated the fact they were leaving like this. Yet she knew if Jo wanted to go that's what they would do. She stood and walked to the small hall, calling for a cab to come pick the two of them up.
Jo looked at her mother with tears streaming down her face. "I'm sorry mom I have to go. I have to think. I really didn't know."
Rose once again pulled her daughter into an embrace as Jo sobbed into her shoulder. "I believe you, Jo, I understand."
Blair watched from the hall knowing if ever Jo needed her mother's embrace it was now. Blair wished there was something she could do to help Jo with this pain, but somehow she instinctively knew deep down this one Jo would have to work through herself. She just hoped that the support she received from Rose and herself would be enough.
The cab ride home was quiet. Jo just stared out the window. Blair would occasionally hear a sniffle out of Jo. But no words were spoken on the ride home.
Blair didn't know what to say to Jo. How do you comfort someone who is hit with this kind of information? Blair wanted to take her in her arms and hold her forever. But the signals she was getting from Jo were those of someone who didn't want to be touched. Blair could tell Jo just wanted to retreat into her head and be as far away from everyone as she could. Blair couldn't help but wonder if Rick had finally managed to completely break Jo.
That night as they laid in bed Blair felt far away from Jo. When she tried to move next to Jo, hoping to give some type of comfort all Jo did was shrug her off moving as far away as she could from Blair. At that moment their bed felt large and lonely, even though only a little bit of space separated the two.
2:30 AM SUNDAY MORNING
Blair opened her eyes and looked over at the clock. 'Would this night end' she thought . When she looked over to the other side of the bed to see how Jo was doing, she noticed Jo had gotten out of bed. She wondered if she should find Jo or just leave her alone, deciding finally to go check. Even though Blair wasn't scared of Jo doing anything to herself, she still worried about Jo's emotional state.
When Blair found Jo, Jo was sitting in a chair staring out at the view of the city. Blair had noticed a pattern with Jo. When Jo wanted to think or escape what was going on with her, this seem to be her favorite spot in their home. Blair didn't want to scare Jo so she made it a point of clearing her throat and letting her presence be known. Jo looked over at Blair, letting her know she knew she was there, and then turned to continue looking out the window.
Blair approached Jo cautiously, still worried. "Jo, sweetie come back to bed." Blair sat down on the arm of the chair beside Jo, reaching over to rub Jo's back in a comforting motion.
Jo shrugged off Blair's touches. "Blair, please leave me alone. I know you want to be here for me. But I'd rather be left alone. Hell, I wish everyone would just leave me the fuck alone."
Blair had to cringe at the language used by Jo. She remembered from their younger days that when pushed Jo could make a sailor blush with her language. But she also knew that Jo had always kept that type language out of their conversations. Jo knew how she hated cussing. How she felt it made a person sound common and uneducated. So even in their worse fights Jo never cussed at her.
Blair didn't know how to handle Jo. She heard what Jo said but she felt Jo really didn't need isolation at the moment. "Jo, I don't want to leave you alone. Please, Jo, come to bed. You'll see, once you get a good night of sleep you'll feel better."
Jo stood up, looking at Blair. "Are you kidding? You think a good night of sleep is going to make me feel better? Bring my Dad back?" Jo started to walked toward the window, still looking out. "Blair, go to bed. Just leave me alone."
"Jo I don't want to leave you alone. I want to help." Blair replied.
"Fuck this." Jo stated as she stomped to the bedroom.
When Blair enter the bedroom behind Jo she wondered what Jo was doing. When she saw that Jo was removing a suitcase from the closet. She had to stop her. "Jo what are you doing?"
Jo placed the suitcase on the bed, then went to her drawer removing her underwear and placing it in the suitcase. "Don't you get it, Blair? I've fucked up everyone's life. My moms, your parents and let's not forget your life " with sarcasms in her voice " Princess."
Jo walked over to the closet removing her clothes then placing them on the bed while removing the hangers. Blair had to stop her. "Jo, stop! Explain to me how you messed up everyone's life. From what I see Rick is the reason for everything that happen to everyone not you."
Jo wasn't about to be deterred. She continued to stuff things in her suitcase. "Blair let's see. Mom has aged twenty years in six years thanks to me. Your family has to worry about press and lawsuits. And let's see how have I screwed things up for you." Once again, Jo was using a sarcastic tone. "You've had to come out to your parents, not because you wanted to but because you were forced. You have a lawsuit hanging over yours and your company's head. You're constantly having to baby-sit me. You know Blair I can see where your life has become so much better since I've come back. All this happiness."
Blair was flabbergasted. "Jo, my life is better with you in it. Why are you leaving me? I don't understand. You stayed with Rick six years, no matter how he
Jo hated what she was doing to Blair. "Blair you'll see, you're better off without me."
Then it snapped. Blair had enough. "Fine Jo, go. Leave, run, let Rick win. Maybe I was wrong thinking you cared about me. That you loved me. You know maybe if you had done this with Rick your life wouldn't be screwed up. Just answer me one question though before you leave."
Jo stopped her packing to see what one question Blair could possibly want answered. "What?"
Blair looked at Jo tears still falling down her face. "Why can you leave me so easily , yet you couldn't Rick?"
Jo looked down not able to look at Blair. "With Rick it was my pain. With you it's both of our pain. I don't want to see you hurt anymore. I don't want anyone to hurt anymore."
Blair stepped beside Jo speaking almost in a whisper. "Then don't leave me. Don't you dare blame anyone other then yourself if you leave me." Blair could feel herself becoming angry, she couldn't help it as she started to raise her voice. "I told you I'm willing to stand by your side no matter what. He is the reason for all the heartache in your life. Yet you're leaving me. Jo, if you leave what will you accomplish other then letting him control you again? It will not change anything. Only thing I see changing if you leave is I'll be hurt, because you didn't have enough faith in me, in us."
Jo sat down on the edge of the bed tired. Tired of fighting, tired of all the pain Rick had caused. "Blair, he didn't tell me my father had died."
Blair looked sympathetically at Jo. "I understand that, Jo. Rick was a bastard. Rick is bastard. But don't let him continue to control the outcome of your life. Jo, do you love me?"
Jo answered honestly. "Yes, with my whole being."
Blair responded back. "Then Jo, don't let the bastard win. Fight. Fight for yourself. Fight for your family. And fight for us. I know you have it in you. Show Rick he can't hurt you any more."
Blair sat beside Jo as Jo reached and pulled Blair into a hug, sobbing, finally letting out all the pain of her father's death. Plus all the anger and hurt caused by Rick.
All Blair could do was hold Jo, comforting her repeating over and over again. "It's OK, we're going to be OK."
When Blair woke up she looked down at Jo. Jo was still holding onto Blair. Blair felt emotionally spent, tired yet relieved Jo had finally let everything out. Blair noticed the clothes still on the bed and the suitcase lying by the bed. After holding Jo until she cried herself to exhaustion she kicked the suitcase to the floor to allow the two to crawl under the clothes covered bedding and fall into a deep sleep.
Jo stirred, feeling the warmth of Blair holding her. She felt safe, loved and for the first time in a long time felt a resolve to take control of her own life.
Yesterday had been an emotional roller coaster. Jo had heard sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can climb back up. Yesterday she had hit the bottom emotionally. Jo knew after the blow about her father there was nothing Rick could do that could hurt her anymore than he had. She wasn't scared of him anymore. She knew he had gone too far.
Jo had her mother back in her life and today in her way she was going to make it right with her dad. But most importantly she had Blair. Jo knew she was going to be OK. She was a survivor, a winner.
Jo looked up at Blair, realizing she was awake, watching her sleep. "Good morning."
Blair brushed Jo's hair out of her face before speaking, wanting to see the emotions behind Jo's green eyes. "Good morning. How are you feeling?"
Jo pulled herself up to face Blair. "Like shit. But I'm doing OK, it still feels like a really bad nightmare about my dad. But I'm really OK. Blair, about last night, I'm really "
Blair stopped Jo by placing her finger over Jo's lips. "Jo, you don't have to apologize. I understand. We're good."
Jo relaxed back into the bed, moving into Blair's arms. "Blair will you go with me today to my dad's grave? I know he's gone, but I just feel like I need to talk to him, set things right. Tell him I love him."
Blair held Jo in her arms. "Of course."
CITY CEMETERY MIDDAY
As Blair's driver drove up to the cemetery, Blair couldn't help but notice how the weather had taken on a cold and wet feeling. New York had found itself in a rare late season cold front and Blair couldn't help but think how appropriate the weather was for the circumstances she and Jo found themselves in.
Blair stood at the car and watched as Jo walked around the gravesites looking for the headstone that signaled where her father was buried. She felt she needed to stand back and give Jo her space to say good-bye, knowing Jo would let her know if her presence was needed or wanted.
Jo had called her mother after getting up that morning to apologize for her quick departure the previous day and to ask for the cemetery where her father was buried.
Rose was quick to accept the apology, asking Jo to please come over later that week for dinner so the two could talk some more, both knowing the other each still longed for the comfort of a mother and daughter relationship,
Rose gave Jo directions to Charles' grave than hung up the phone. She couldn't help but say a prayer of thanks to her God. She thanked him for bringing Jo back and asked him to be with her during this time of hardship. Rose couldn't help but wonder if God really did condemn Jo for the lifestyle she has chosen. How could it be wrong for Jo to be with someone that loved her completely, while on the other hand right to be with a person like Rick who had caused so much hurt for so many people? Rose really didn't know the answers to this, she doubted her priest would give her an answer that satisfied her either. All she knew was she was happy she had her daughter back.
Jo looked down at the headstone that had her father's named carved in it. She wished more than anything instead of a cold stone to look at, she was looking into her father's supportive blue eyes. She knew chances were she was being silly talking to a headstone. She knew in her logical mind her father was gone. She didn't even really believe in an afterlife. She felt once a person died they were gone. But yet for some reason the thought of talking to the gravesite where her father was buried made her feel better. At peace.
Jo couldn't help the tears as they fell as she spoke. "Hi, Dad. I'm really sorry I missed your funeral. Rick didn't tell me. Dad you were right about Rick, though you were wrong about him being able to make a living in music, you were right about him being wrong for me. Hardly a day in our marriage went by that I didn't think about you telling me just before I walked down the aisle how it wasn't to late to turn and leave. How you joked about leaving the keys in the car in case I changed my mind. I don't know if you were joking, but I wished I had taken you up on your offer."
Jo sat down on the ground, finding talking to her dad's headstone made her feel better. "Dad, I'm in love now. I'm happy. I wish you were here so you could see me happy. You'd probably get a kick out of who it is. You know we never talked about how you feel about gays, but I just have a feeling you'd be OK with it. Dad, Blair and I are together and I'm happier than I've ever been. Funny right, me and Blair." Jo thoughts turned more serious. "Dad, I don't know if you can hear me or not, but I'm going to make you proud. I'm going to show you your girl is nobodies punching bag anymore. Like you've said, Polniaczeks are nobody's fools. Well Dad I'm not going to be anyone's fool anymore."
Jo stood to leave, gently touching her father's headstone. "Dad, Mom says you knew I loved you." Tears started to fall from Jo's eyes. "But just in case, I love you Dad."
When Jo returned to the car Blair reached to pull Jo into a hug. She pulled her tight, trying to absorb some of the sorrow from Jo's body. "Are you ready to go home?"
Jo pulled back and looked into Blair's face, realizing for the first time what home meant. It was right there in Blair's caring face. "Yeah, let's go home."
PENTHOUSE SEVERAL WEEKS LATER
Blair was waiting in the living room for Jo to finish getting dressed. Today was the day that all the lawyers and involved parties were to meet to discuss not only Jo's and Rick's divorce, but also the lawsuit against Blair and her company. Blair was hoping that with Tom's help today would be the day they could finally put Jo's marriage behind them and possibly come up with some type of agreement about the lawsuit.
After the article came out about her relationship with Jo, Rick's attempts to discredit them fell flat. One tabloid did carry the pictures of her and Jo, but only used a small copy of the picture in the corner of the cover. Other celebrity marriage breakups were bigger news. Blair and Jo were old news and not worth the main headline.
Blair felt they had beat Rick at his games. She just hoped before the day was over all parties involved could come to some type of agreement, so everyone could move on with their lives. Blair was still more than willing to do what ever Tom advised, even a small settlement, if this helped get Rick out of their lives quicker. But she was only willing to do this to move things along, not because of fearing anything he might do to her or her reputation.
Blair was surprised at the support she received. If her employees had problems with her sexuality she had yet to see any sign of it. For a few days an A.M. talk radio host suggested boycotting Warner's Industries, mainly BW Fashions. Luckily, it seem most people didn't care. Her company produced a good product and people continued to buy it. If people were boycotting, it didn't show up in sales.
Blair also noticed a change in Jo since finding out about her father and coming out. Jo had found her inner strength. Jo was still Jo but she once again walked with her head up, reminding Blair of the girl she meet at Eastland, confident and ready to face whatever came her way.
Jo had started to work that week, managing to get the job on her own. She nailed the interview.
When Jo emerged from the bedroom, Blair couldn't help but stare. She knew what Jo was going for in her appearance and she had unquestionably accomplished it. Standing in front of Blair wasn't the woman Rick would remember from their marriage. The battered wife was replaced by a woman who looked strong and ready to face anything life threw her way.
Blair was still staring as Jo walked over to her. Jo couldn't help but laugh at Blair's reaction. "Blair, stop staring and close your mouth."
Blair continued to stare. "Jo, you look hot." Then realizing what she just said, she found herself backtracking. "I mean you look great, in a take control kind of way. You know what I mean, Jo, you look great."
Jo leaned over to give Blair a quick kiss. "Thanks."
Blair had to ask. "Why the power look? I have to be honest it's all I can do to keep my hands off you."
Jo was trilled with Blair's response to her outfit. "Blair, I want Rick to see I'm no longer the same woman he remembers. I'm not scared of him, I no longer need to dress down to appease him. I want him to see I'm better off without him. That I'm in control of my life."
Blair once again eyed Jo from head to toe. From her black tie-up boots to her black leather jacket. "Jo your outfit definitely screams you're a woman in control. Are you ready to head down."
Jo couldn't help but take a deep cleansing breath. "More than ready. Let's go."
LAW OFFICES OF DUPNIK, JETTER AND CARTER
Waiting was something Blair Warner had never been good at. After arriving, Tom's court clerk informed them Tom was running a few minutes late. Though their meeting with Rick and his lawyers was only half an hour away, Blair couldn't help but feel her time was being wasted.
Jo, noticing Blair's agitation, decided maybe it was best to give Blair something to do. "Blair, you know if Tom is making us wait, he has to be doing something important. I'll wait here if you want to go get you a cup of coffee or something."
Blair knew she was acting tense, maybe Jo was right she needed some type of distraction. "You're right, I'll go find some coffee, also I think I'll call my office and check in. Would you like me to bring you a cup back?"
Jo waved Blair off, she didn't want anything on her already upset stomach. She was just hoping to give Blair some type of distraction.
What neither Jo or Blair realized was in another waiting room across the hall waited Rick and his lawyer. So when Rick noticed Blair walking by and talking on her cell phone, he couldn't help but wonder where Jo was. Like Jo and Blair, Rick and his lawyer had been asked to wait in this waiting room until time for all parties to meet. Rick decided to seize his moment in hopes of finding Jo alone.
Looking over at his lawyer he made his excuses. "I need to find a men's room. I'll be right back."
When he looked into the waiting room that was across the hall, Rick noticed Jo leafing through a magazine. He couldn't believe his luck. Right here in one of the Warner Towers he was going to get the opportunity to finally get his wife alone.
Before that day he had found accessibility to "his wife" was impossible. Until today he was never able to make it past the security check points. But today his name was on the list of people to let through. All he could figure was someone dropped the ball. Luckily for him after getting through the security point with his lawyer, nobody felt the need to call Blair, Blair's security officers or Blair's attorney.
Rick stood back in the hall out of sight, just watching, wondering when she would feel his presence. He noted how she looked. He felt his anger start to build. He couldn't believe that she would dare dress like that. For a woman no less. She was his and nobody had the right to look at her. If he wanted her to look sexy he would have let her. Jo was his and he still resented the thought of anyone trying to lay claim to what was his.
Rick felt himself get a little excited about the thought of showing Jo how no woman could replace a real man. But he realized that chances were his time was limited. He felt pure adrenaline pump through his body, when Jo finally looked up, seeing the fear briefly in her eyes. He couldn't help but sneer at her, as he watched her looking around the room, weighing her options. "Hello Jo."
When Jo caught someone in the corner of her eye then looked up to see Rick standing there she knew she was in a dangerous situation and needed to think fast. Jo couldn't help but notice the look in Rick's eyes, having seen it many times. There was to be no reasoning with him, he was going to hurt her. "Rick, you need to leave. There is security throughout this building and Blair will be right back." She felt her heart stop when Rick stepped in the room, closing the door behind him.
Rick continued advancing toward Jo. "This shouldn't take long anyway."
Rick had decided the moment Jo stood, that if she wasn't his, she wouldn't belong to anyone. All he could think was how dare she embarrass him. She left him for a fucking woman.
Jo notice the lamp in the corner, wondering briefly if she could get to it and use as a weapon. She would have to go past Rick to get it.
When Rick reached Jo, he grabbed her arm forcefully, whispering in her ear. "Nobody's here to help you. Ironic isn't it." Then he brought her face to his, forcefully trying to kiss her.
When Jo felt Rick try to force his tongue into her mouth, something finally kicked in. She didn't have to take this without a fight. Out of pure reflex she felt her knee make contact with his groin. When he doubled over in pain Jo took her opportunity to make a run to the lamp.
Rick noticed Jo moving toward the lamp. Pumped up with anger and adrenaline he was able to grab her before she reached it.
Jo felt his fist on her face after he grabbed her, pulling her back to him. Briefly her world turned black, thinking about Blair, hoping somehow Blair would survive this if she didn't.
Blair was on the phone with Helen when she had a strange feeling hit her. Something didn't feel right. She looked at her watch, realizing she should have heard something by now about Rick and his lawyer arriving.
Picking up the interoffice phone, she called the security desk, reminding them to let her know when Rick arrived so security could escort him to their meeting.
She felt her world collapse when the officer working the front desk informed her Rick and his lawyer had arrived nearly 15 minutes earlier. Before hanging up the phone she informed him if he cared about his job, he better have security at the waiting room Jo was in in less than one minute.
Blair ran back toward the waiting room. When she rounded the corner she noticed security rounding the other corner. Her heart sank when she noticed the closed door to the waiting room she and Jo had been waiting in.
When Blair opened the door the sight before her took her breath away. Rick had beaten them there.
Jo was standing above Rick with broken lamp in her hand. Blood was running down her nose, her left eye was swollen and red. Blair thought Jo had never looked better in her life.
The security officer walked over to check Rick, then radioed for the paramedics and police.
Tom and Rick's attorney walked in behind the officers and took in the scene in front of them. Seeing security cameras in the corner of the room, Rick's lawyer quickly concluded his commissions just dropped drastically. Turning to leave he told Tom to send him terms of the divorce, he would make sure Rick signed it. Rick would soon be needing his capabilities for his defense in court.
Blair walked over to Jo, shock evident on her face. "What happened?"
Jo stepped back before taking a seat in the corner of the room. Looking down at Rick as the paramedics made their way into the waiting room, Jo said, "Blair, my dad use to say, there are people who get shoved around and there are people who do the shoving." Taking a Kleenex from Blair and wiping the blood from her nose. "I decided it was time to do some shoving back."
Jo entered the penthouse wondering were Blair was. Jo had called Blair from her office asking if she wanted to go out tonight.
Six months ago today Blair had showed up at the park and changed her life completely. Jo was wanting to go out and celebrate what she considered the most important day of her life.
Jo had been stashing away most of her paychecks to buy something special for their anniversary. She knew she was being a total sap, and Blair would probably make fun of her, but she couldn't help it as she opened the box that held a pair of matching earrings to the necklace she bought Blair years ago.
Jo had made reservations at Blair's favorite restaurant, asking for one of their more romantic tables. Jo's plans for the evening were to make this as romantic of an evening as possible. She thought she had everything planned, romantic meal, flowers, gift and after returning home that night she had bought candles for the bedroom hoping to continue with the romance.
Jo had just entered their bedroom to change when she heard Blair enter. "In here, Blair."
Blair walked into the bedroom, placing her briefcase beside the bed. She walked up to Jo, placing her arms around Jo waist. "Happy anniversary."
Jo turned around in Blair's arms, wanting to see her face. "You remembered. I wanted to surprise you."
Blair leaned into Jo, placing their forehead together. "Of course I remembered."
Jo couldn't stand it. She had to give Blair her gift. "I got you something. Wait right there I'll go get it."
Jo returned to the bedroom, handing the small box to Blair.
Blair looked down at the box, "I love gifts in little boxes." After opening the box and seeing the matching diamond earrings, she hardly knew what to say. "Jo, these are gorgeous. Thank you."
Blair pulled Jo into a kiss, letting Jo see how grateful she was.
"Put them on before for we go out. I think they will look great with your outfit." Jo replied.
Blair put the earrings on, then turned to Jo. "Don't think I forgot about you."
Jo looked around Blair seeing if she could see the gift Blair was talking about. "Blair, I don't see any nicely wrapped presents."
Blair kissed Jo on the cheek then whispered in her ear. "I'll give you yours later."
Giving Blair her most suggestive look, Jo replied, "I'll hold you to that."
Dinner that night was just what Jo envisioned great food and very romantic. On the ride up the elevator after returning to their building they found themselves making out like teenagers.
Just before hitting the penthouse floor, Jo pulled away, looking at Blair, overcome with emotions. "I can't believe how much I love you sometimes. It sometimes amazes me how much happiness you have brought into my life."
Blair reached up, gently stroking Jo's face. "I can say the same."
When Blair and Jo entered the penthouse Blair couldn't help but laugh at Jo's insistent pull of her arm toward the bedroom. "Jo, hold on, I want to give you your gift."
"I plan to collect my gift right now." Jo stated, still trying to pull Blair toward the bedroom.
Blair pulled away from Jo laughing. "Come on Jo, I want to give you my gift. Go have a seat on the couch and I'll go get them."
Jo reluctantly moved to the couch, watching Blair enter the bedroom. When Blair returned she had her briefcase. "Jo, I went to see Tom today." Blair opened her briefcase, removing several documents.
Blair then took Jo hands in hers, sensing the importance of the moment. "Jo, if we were a man and a woman, or even in a different country, I would be on my knees right now. But that's not how it works here so I have to work within the legal system."
Blair continued as she picked up the documents. "I know giving someone legal documents to sign may not be the most romantic gift. But Jo, I want to ask you to spend the rest of your life with me, in every sense of the word."
Jo looked at Blair. "Blair, as long as you'll have me I already planned to do that."
Blair continued, reaching up and touching Jo's cheek, loving the fact that Jo still after all these months was leaning toward her touch. "Jo." Blair wanted to get this right. "I want us to have the type of commitment others dream about. I want everything that's mine to be yours and everything that's yours to be mine. I want the through sickness and health. Richer and poorer. I want the joined together for life in front of family and friends. I want everyone to know you're mine and I'm yours. Two halves that are one."
Jo was stunned, Blair was proposing. "We already have that."
Blair reached and picked up the legal documents, handing them to Jo to read. "Jo, If something happens to me I want to make sure you're always taken care of. Or if I'm ever sick or unable to make decisions for myself I want you to make them for me. I went to Tom a few days ago and asked him to draw up whatever papers needed to filled out so you have power of attorney of my estate and anything related to me if something ever happens to me. I made sure that in these papers it states everything goes to you if something happens to me. By signing these papers it means everything I own, you own and visa versa. An equal partnership. I know we can't legally get married, but this is as close as I can make it."
Blair then reached into her briefcase, pulling out a ring box, opening it, revealing two simple diamond bands. "I want us to commit to each other in front of everyone, letting everyone know this is a lifetime commitment. I want the white dress, to be walked down the aisle by my father with the person I love waiting at the end. Jo, will you be that person waiting for me? Will you let us make this an equal partnership, two halves joined together for life? I want to commit myself to you for life. Will you be my partner for life?"
Jo looked at the documents, looked at Blair. "Blair this is too much." Jo couldn't believe that Blair would do this. She thought about Blair's dad and what he said. Then she looked at Blair, seeing the love and trust in her eyes. 'To hell with everyone else.' Jo knew she would never hurt Blair or take advantage of her money. How could she say no?
Jo knew she loved Blair, she knew Blair loved her. As tears started to fall from her eyes, Jo could only say what she knew would make both of them happy. "Yes."
Blair removed Jo's ring placing it on her left ring finger. Then Jo took the matching ring and placed it on Blair's ring finger. "I will love you forever," Jo said before leaning in and kissing Blair. Sealing the deal.
TWO MONTHS LATER
Jo looked out into the crowd that showed up for the commitment ceremony. Mrs. Garrett was there, wheeled in by her sister Beverly Ann. When hearing about her two girls she let Blair know there was no way she would miss it. Andy and his family were there. The thought of Andy as a dad still seemed odd to Jo, but watching him with his kids it was obvious he was a natural.
Dorothy and Natalie stood in the front with Jo, acting as duel bridesmaids for both women.
Jo stood in front of the crowd dressed in a very simple but classic black dress. Blair loved Jo in black, so when Blair suggested this dress while shopping for Natalie and Dorothy's dresses, there was no way Jo could say no. Though dresses weren't Jo usual style, she had to admit Blair had picked out the perfect dress for her on this occasion.
Jo couldn't wait to see what Blair had picked out for herself. Though Jo joked at the silliness of Blair not wanting her to see her dress, Blair wouldn't give in, Jo had to wait to see it.
Jo was disappointed when she scanned the group again, hoping to see her mother. But she understood this service went against everything her mother's church stood for. Rose and Jo had talked last night on the phone and even though Rose said she wouldn't attend the service, Blair and Jo were always welcome into her home.
After firming up the upcoming holidays plans, Jo couldn't help but be disappointed that her mother couldn't see past outdated views to be part of this service. Jo knew this would be her last wedding. She hated her mother wasn't here.
Jo swallowed a lump in her throat when she noticed David Warner making his way down the aisle. Briefly she wondered if Blair had changed her mind.
David walked over to Jo, smiling at her noticeable nervousness. "Don't worry she's still in the dressing area. Nothing or nobody would be able stop her today. Jo, my daughter is happy. And you're the reason. I wanted to come tell you before the service starts, welcome to the family."
Jo hugged David Warner, before asking, "So do I get to call you Dad."
David laughed knowing Jo was joking with him. "Anything Jo, except Mr. Warner."
David reached in his pocket handing Jo a small box. When Jo opened it, inside was the key to the Mustang she had spent so much time working on at the winter home. "It's a wedding gift. I have a feeling you'll take very good care of it, along with my daughter. It's parked outside ready for you and Blair after the service."
Jo handed the key to Natalie to hold, then looked at David, thankful for his acceptance of her into their family. "Thank you, I promise I'll do my best to not let you down."
David smiled at Jo, he really did like his daughter's choice in a partner. "Well Jo, I have a very beautiful woman waiting for me to escort her down the aisle. I think I'll go find her."
Blair was standing in the hall, waiting for her dad to return, when the back door opened and Rose rushed in. "Good I haven't missed it. When does the service start?"
Relief and joy washed over Blair. "Not for a few minutes."
Rose straightened her dress, then took a deep breath. "You know Blair, I went to Jo's wedding to Rick, even though I knew it was wrong. I knew when she married him she was in for a life of unhappiness, yet I went and supported the wedding. I was sitting at home this morning thinking about how happy my daughter is with you. Then it hit me this isn't about me, or my beliefs. This is about my daughter and her happiness. I supported a union that was wrong, and made my daughter unhappy. Maybe it's time I support a union that's right, and makes her happy."
Blair couldn't help it as she felt the tears of happiness build in her eyes. "Thanks, I think your decision to come will make Jo very happy."
Blair stood back and watched as realization hit Jo that her mother was there. David handed Blair his handkerchief to wipe her eyes as they watched mother and daughter hug, before Rose took her seat in the front row of the friends and family.
When the music started Jo turned to see David and Blair walked down the aisle. Jo was glad Blair made her wait. Blair was beautiful. Her dress was white and cut to fit her perfectly and like Blair, pure class. Jo thought about their dresses, black and white, opposites yet perfect together. Just like them.
The princess and the pauper riding off together in their steed to live happily ever after.
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