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Why They Fight
By Della Street


"Don't try to excuse it," Blair said. She moved out from beneath Brent's arm and closer to the passenger door to punish him.

"I just don't see what you're mad about, Babe," he said smoothly. "So she called you Princess."

"In front of the entire student body!"

"I call you Princess."

Of course he did. "Every man calls me Princess," Blair said, adding quickly, "I mean, they used to."

She didn't see other men any more. Not since she found the perfect one. That's right, Polniaczek – find something wrong with this one.

"But when Jo says 'Princess,' she actually means 'Spoiled Rich Airbrain,'" she explained.

"Why do you guys live together if you can't stand each other?"

Not again. Why did all her dates ask her that? "She can barely afford the rent as it is," Blair replied. "It's not like I can just move out."

"Couldn't she just find another roommate?"

Bored with the conversation, Blair looked out at the passing scenery, occasionally returning a wave from other students returning from the same pep rally-slash-scoreboard unveiling that had officially launched Langley's football season an hour ago.

"How about a movie tonight?" Brent asked. "I was going to work on the car this afternoon, but I could pick you up after that." He arched an eyebrow at her. "Or I could skip the car . . . ."

Blair's heart swelled with pride. Working on his car, with his own two hands. How about that, Ms. Goodwrench? Handsome, athletic, the right pedigree, and mechanically inclined! It had to be driving Jo insane.

"Are you going to–" she tried to recall what Jo had said last week – "adjust a carburetor or something?"

He seemed a bit surprised by the question. "Um, no, I'm just going to wash it."

Well, he probably could adjust a carburetor if he wanted to, Blair reassured herself. He was very practical. Jo herself had said it: "He seems slightly more useful than most of your toys." The perfect man! Finally, after all these years.

"Tell you what," he said. "Why don't I put it off til tomorrow? Let's catch a matinee, then dinner, and then . . . whatever you're in the mood for."

She knew what that meant: he hoped she would be in the mood for making out with him in his fraternity room. And maybe she would. Just the knowledge that she had found The One, a man that even an ex-Young Diablo couldn't pick apart, sparked Blair's interest.

"All right," she agreed. "We can–oh, no!"

Up ahead of them, on the east side of the highway, was a mother duck and several young ducklings, waddling determinedly down the white line that marked the edge of the road.

"They'll be killed!" Blair exclaimed. Traffic was worse than usual for a Saturday, with hundreds of Lion fans all leaving the stadium at the same time.

Where had they come from? Then she saw it: one section of a dilapidated fence between the paved surface and a neighboring field had been knocked over, either by Father Time or, more likely, bored teenagers.

Fearfully, she said, "We've got to do something!"

"Are you kidding?" He spared the birds a glance as the car sped past.

She clutched at his arm. "Brent!" she said, "what are you doing? We've got to do something!"

"There's no way, Blair. Not in this traffic." He pointed out, "There's no shoulder."

Yes, the traffic was bad, but those poor babies! "Turn the car around," she begged.

"Blair . . . ."

"There!" She gestured toward a little-used intersection a few hundred yards up. "I want to go back."

"There's nothing we can do," he said patiently. "We stop, we get creamed. I feel bad for them, too, but that's life."

If there was one thing that Blair Warner knew how to do, it was to persuade men that acceding to her wishes was in their own best interests. "Brent . . . ," she warned.

Knowing better than to refuse, he slowed the car and turned onto Stuyvesant, following the narrow back road until it met up again with the highway about a mile before the downed fence.

"Up there," Blair said. "Past the Phil's sign."

She was almost afraid to look, but as they rounded the curve, she didn't see what she feared. Instead–

"She's frigging insane!"

Normally it excited Blair a little when Brent swore (although she still chastised him), but on this occasion she ignored him.

"She's nuts!" he declared. "No wonder you two don't get along."

A familiar motorcycle lay on its side on the side of the road, deposited there without the normal care that its owner bestowed upon the love of her life. Blair watched as her roommate scooped something up off the ground and stuffed it into her blouse, which she was holding up with her other hand to form a makeshift carrier.

Traffic had slowed a little as people merged – swerved – to avoid the woman occupying part of the right lane. Jo hurried over to the fence, squeezed through the opening, then knelt and unfurled her shirt, unloading its contents onto the grass.

The Porsche eased into the next lane behind a Datsun sporting a yellow Lion on Board sign in the rear window. "Wait!" Blair pleaded, but they were already emerging from the bottleneck. Swinging her head around, she watched anxiously as Jo returned to the roadway to chase after the mother duck, dropping to her knees as she grappled with it. Another car filled the space between them, and she lost sight of her.

"Nuts," Brent opined again.

Blair studied her companion for a moment and then said, with a sigh, "Take me home, Brent."

"Home?" he replied. "But I thought–"

"Just take me home."

She had been unusually quiet since her return, Nat and Tootie remarked, but she brushed it off. The front door finally opened, and the younger girls greeted their other roommate.

"Blair beat you by fifteen minutes," Tootie said. "What took you so long?"

With a shrug, Jo said, "Eh, traffic."

From the far end of the sofa, Blair watched her walk over to the desk and pick up a small notebook to read her messages.

"Where's golden boy?" Jo said without looking up. When there was no immediate response, she set down the pad and walked over to the couch. "Where's Mr. Perfect?"

The front of Jo's shirt, reasonably close to white this morning, was now covered with the tracks of little webbed feet. Anger inexplicably surged through Blair, propelling her to her feet. "Why do you have to be the way you are?" she shouted.

Instinctively, Jo countered, "Why do you?"

Every time, Blair mused as she sat on her bed upstairs. Every time she found someone who might be the one, Jo had to find some way to ruin it. She glanced over at the bed next to hers, picturing Jo's head on the pillow, scowling while she slept.

She really should get her own place, Blair told herself again. She would never find Mr. Right if she continued to live with Jo. But Jo could barely afford the rent as it was. It wasn't as if Blair could just move out .. . . .

The End

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