Title: Christmas Wishes
Fandom: Facts of Life
Spoilers: For some episode. I don’t remember which, but the Hallmark channel was showing old FoL eps a while back, and I started a whole bunch of little fics (Jo and Blair are just so freakishly slashy in almost all of them). This is the first one I’ve actually managed to finish, though, and is just a short follow-up to whichever episode it is where Jo’s mother goes down to Florida for Christmas, and Blair tries to trick her into taking a plane ticket so she can go see her. Blair’s folks send her a vacation package and a fur coat instead of spending time with her, and though she initially heads off to Vail, she comes back, choosing to spend Christmas with Jo and Mrs. G.
A/N: It’s out of season, I know… This is un-beta’d, so all mistakes are mine. If you’d like to send feedback, I’d love to hear it. I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com.
“I…. I’m glad you decided to come back.”
For a moment, the words hung awkwardly in the air, disjointed in the darkness, foreign invaders against a backdrop of silence. Once they were out, though, they couldn’t be taken back, and even if they could, Jo wasn’t sure that she would want to do so. She was glad that Blair had skipped her skiing trip in Vail to spend Christmas in Peekskill, and not only because it meant that she wouldn’t be spending the holiday alone with Mrs. Garrett. No, when she’d looked up to see Blair standing there, still wearing the monstrosity of a fur coat that her father had sent in lieu of actually taking an active interest in his daughter’s life, she’d felt her heart skip a beat. Trite, she knew, but that was the way it was. It felt, in that moment, that Blair had come back especially for her, and there was something in the sentiment that made her want to smile without even knowing why.
Jo had even been uncharacteristically bubbly all night, rushing around, being the life of the party so to speak. She’d kept both Blair and Mrs. Garrett in stitches the entire time, recounting every story that she could pull from the recesses of her memory and creatively improvising a few that had gotten fuzzy.
“I’m glad too.”
In reply, Blair’s tone seemed even warmer than usual, if that was possible. Not that Blair didn’t have her share of moody days or depressive fits, but Jo had always found it amusing that the blonde could generally manage to stay upbeat no matter what was happening. It was almost as if she were floating about a foot above the floor, none of the dirty truths of life daring to attach themselves to her flawless hemline. Not that she couldn’t see through all that gaiety on occasion. Brave fronts and smiles without emotion didn’t necessarily add up to equal happy, and Blair had enough of both of those to chip a small crack in her armor. Or, at the very least, she did when other people were watching. When she was alone, Jo had a feeling Blair might just let those walls crumble entirely. Not that she’d ever seen it, of course, but it wasn’t normal to be that infernally perky all the time.
Taking a deep breath, wanting to say what had been on her mind but not happy with the way it drew attention to her faults, Jo mumbled stiffly, “And I wanted to thank you for what you tried to do before, with the ticket and all. It’s just that I don’t do handouts.”
When she’d found out what Blair had done, she’d been torn. Torn between the intense desire to just take the opportunity for what it was and between the thick wall of her pride that said, in no uncertain terms, that Jo Polniaczek wasn’t a charity case. Sure, it would have been nice to fly down to Florida, to spend Christmas with her mother instead of facing the prospect of a lonely holiday in Peekskill with just Mrs. Garrett, but if that meant becoming yet another Warner philanthropic endeavor, then she could do just fine without it.
“I just wanted someone to be able to spend the holidays with their parents,” Blair replied after a few seconds, and this time Jo heard the bitterness that the other girl didn’t even attempt to disguise.
It took a moment, but the confession triggered an awareness in Jo that suddenly left her feeling a little ashamed. Maybe Blair had been doing it all for her, setting up that elaborate scheme just so she could maneuver her way around Jo’s pride, not at all an undaunting task, but maybe she’d been doing it for herself, too. And maybe she’d been a little harsh, refusing her generosity out of hand.
Sitting upright in her bed, searching the darkness for the outline of Blair’s body, Jo nearly yelped in surprise when she realized the other girl was staring right back at her, dark eyes reflecting the low light filtering in through the window.
“It was a nice thing, you know,” the brunette said uncomfortably, blushing even though she knew Blair couldn’t really see her that clearly. “I mean, I don’t think anybody’s ever done anything that nice for me before.”
Blair sighed, a little of the melancholy of the season seeping deeply into her, keeping her hovering on the brink of tears and far closer to emotional susceptibility than she liked to stay. “I thought maybe I could make you happy,” she said softly, lips pursing on a frown when she heard the open vulnerability in the words, and prayed that Jo wouldn’t pick up on it too.
But, she did, legs slithering off the side of the bed as she sat on the edge, now only a few feet away from Blair’s still reclining form. “Are you okay, Blair?” she asked hesitantly, not at all trusting of her ability to comfort anyone experiencing any real form of distress, but bothered by the tinge of fatalism in the other girl’s tone. “You sound kind of… I don’t know. Kind of depressed, maybe.”
Exhaling on another sigh, Blair pushed herself up to a sitting position as well, sliding her legs over the side of her bed so that she was facing Jo, a little unnerved by the sheen of intimacy the darkness added to the scene. “I guess it’s just Christmas. Don’t they say that people get more depressed around the holidays?”
“Maybe it reminds them of what they can’t have, or what they’ve lost,” Jo offered, brows lowering as she felt some of the other girl’s sadness infect her as well, weighing down heavily on her shoulders. It felt odd, this pressing depression, especially in light of the giddy lightness of the hours before. Almost as if she’d been a balloon earlier, buoyant and bouncy, and now she was nothing but a limp, deflated shell.
Shifting uneasily, the mattress creaking gently beneath her, intensely aware of the glittering blue eyes tracing her every move, Blair asked slowly, “Are there things you want that you can’t have, Jo?”
“I guess there are,” the other girl replied after a short pause, mind racing as she thought of all the things she’d ever wanted, almost all of which she didn’t possess. But, most of them had been material things, none really all that important in the long run because as soon as she found one toy to obsess over, a newer and even better one appeared. And, she was destined to always want things. She knew that. It was a part of growing up poor, of living with girls who could have almost anything they wanted with just a nod of the head, and some part of her was ashamed of the way she envied the ease that wealth afforded. But, she’d never had to worry about some of the other things she knew Blair was alluding to. Her Mom might have gone down to Florida, but it wasn’t for a vacation and it wasn’t because she didn’t care enough to want to spend the holidays with her. In fact, it was probably all because of her that her Mom was down there, working long hours to bring in holiday pay, to add a little bit more money to the laughably tiny balance in her savings account. And her Dad, irresponsible as he was, loved her. Not that Blair’s father didn’t love her, but maybe there were a few things he loved more.
None of which, of course, really answered Blair’s question. “I mean, I want a new motorcycle and I want to not have to worry about school and I want a new pair of shoes. But those things are just things, you know, and if I don’t get them, then it doesn’t really matter. What about you? What do you want that you don’t have?”
It was on the tip of her tongue, the desire to be truthful, to lay it all on the line and damn the potential consequences, but despite the fact that the dark hid a multitude of things, it didn’t even begin to touch her fear. So instead, she said bitterly, “Me want something? Of course not. I have everything, don’t I? Plane tickets to Vail, furs, jewels, money… What’s left for me to want?”
It was a statement that normally would have ended the conversation between them, leaving Jo sullen and angry at her spoiled brat counterpart, but this time there was something different. This time there was anger, and disappointment, and the knowledge that Blair wasn’t just being self-indulgently selfish. So, determined that for once she’d ignore the arrogance, Jo said roughly, “Sure there is, Princess. Imagine I could give you anything you wanted. What would you ask for?”
The question drew Blair up short, the temptation of both its unrealized promises and of the girl sitting across from her tugging at her, pushing her beyond the bounds of good sense and reason. “What if you actually could give me what I wanted, Jo?” she asked carefully, inching forward slightly. “What if what I really wanted was in this room and you had it. Would you give it to me?”
Taken slightly aback by the intensity in the other girl’s tone, Jo nodded. “Yeah, sure. I mean, I don’t know what I have you could want, but it’s yours. Just take it…”
But before she was even finished, Blair was there, surging across the space that separated them to wrap one hand around the back of Jo’s neck, plastering their lips together. Startled, Jo didn’t move, back stiffening as Blair’s mouth slid over hers, as the other girl’s tongue flicked out briefly to trace along her bottom lip. And then Blair was gone, back on her bed, breathing heavily and looking at her with wide, scared eyes.
“Oh, my God. I’m so sorry,” the blonde said breathlessly, words jumbled together in a rush at the sight of Jo’s stunned silence. “I swear I’ll never do it again.”
Shaking her head to clear away the haze of confusion that had settled over her without warning, Jo cleared her throat, trying to find just the right words. “What was that?” was all that came out instead, tense and a little choked, immediately creating a wall of tension.
Burying her face in her hands, Blair merely groaned. “I’m sorry, Jo. Just… just forget it happened. Please,” she added, voice pleading, body hunched over protectively.
“Forget it happened?” Jo echoed, voice sounding strangely distant. “Blair, you kissed me.”
“And I shouldn’t have,” Blair shot back caustically, turning her head to the side, body taut. “Obviously I was in the wrong, and I apologize.”
Still caught up in a fog of disbelief, Jo muttered, “Out of all the things in the world, that’s the one you wanted?”
“Well, I didn’t think you could bring about world peace single-handedly, so it seemed like the more viable option,” Blair snapped, embarrassment finally slipping over into anger. “I’m going to go now, probably down to the living room, so don’t worry that I’ll molest you in the middle of the night. And, if you could manage, somehow, to keep this to yourself, I would appreciate it.”
Jolted out of her inertia by the animosity in the other girl’s tone, Jo looked up, one arm snaking out to snag Blair’s wrist, pulling her to a standstill. “I don’t think so, Princess,” she said, voice low. “You can’t just do something like that then run away. You’re staying right here.”
Tugging her wrist free with a hard jerk, Blair looked down at Jo, chin tilted upwards and eyes narrowed. “Why? So you can make fun of me? I think not,” she said archly, then turned on her heel, resuming her march toward the door.
Frustrated, Jo nearly growled, “What’s your problem? Did I say I didn’t like it?”
Coming to a halt so quickly she almost fell over, Blair took a second before turning slowly, eyes distrustful. “What do you mean by that?” she asked warily, her nervousness betraying itself in the grip her teeth had on her lower lip.
Suddenly on the spot and not at all comfortable with it, Jo shrugged her shoulders uneasily, eyes flickering down to study the carpet. “What did you mean when you did it?” she challenged, looking up briefly, eyes oddly vulnerable.
Feeling the balance of power between them shift fluidly, Blair eased her way back toward Jo, a small smile teasing at her lips. “What if I told you I did it because I lo… like you a lot,” she rushed to amend, blushing furiously as Jo looked up quickly, smirking.
“Like me, like me?” the brunette teased, taking a small step forward.
Licking her lower lip nervously, Blair nodded. “Maybe,” she hedged, smiling shyly.
“Maybe I like you a lot too,” Jo said softly, suddenly a little more serious, the import of the situation hitting her fully for the first time.
Intensely delighted at the admission, Blair closed the space between until they were standing mere inches apart, both studying the other’s lips with anxious apprehension. “Maybe we should try it again,” she suggested, unable to suppress a grin. “Just to make sure.”
“Make sure of what?” Jo asked distractedly, breathing in deeply, taking in the comforting, familiar scent of her companion.
Leaning in infinitesimally closer, Blair breathed, “Does it really matter?”
As their lips met again, this time with full cooperation on both parts and with much more dedicated, and quite delicious, intent, Jo decided it didn’t.
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