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The Failures of Modern Home Economics For Boys

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“Oh, Jo… I love you.”

Jo’s eyes narrowed in momentary annoyance as she looked down at the blonde hanging off of her like a limpet.

“I do.”

Sensing that Jo didn’t quite believe her, Blair intoned this seriously, offering up a very meaningful nod of the head to punctuate her point.

“Sure ya do,” Jo said with a sigh, her words managing to be both sarcastic and placating at the same time. And then nearly choked, as the arm Blair had slung around her neck tightened without warning.

Blair’s face was suddenly inches away from Jo’s and her eyes conveyed nothing but irritation. “I don’t know why you don’t take me seriously.”

Easing out of Blair’s grip, reattaching the other girl to her side instead of her front, Jo grumbled, “Because you’re high as a kite, that’s why.”

“Firstly, I didn’t mean just at this point in time. You fail to take me seriously at all times. And secondly, I am not,” Blair huffed haughtily, undoing everything Jo had done as she turned in the other girl’s arms, wrapping her own around Jo’s waist. “I have never engaged in illicit substance use and do not anticipate doing so in the future.”

The reconfiguration halted their progression to the car, the waterfront bonfire now only a flickering half-shadow in the distance. “You had refreshments at the party?” Jo asked, though Blair thought the words sounded oddly like an accusation.

“Well, of course,” she answered, as if it were the only obvious option. “It would have been rude to say no, though I do have to admit that wasn’t the best brownie I’ve ever had. It was almost a chore to finish it.”

Slightly disconcerted by both Blair’s proximity and the way she was staring up adoringly, Jo said sharply, “Didn’t ya hear them say they were pot brownies?”

For a second, Blair seemed to drift off into thought. Then, with a dazzling smile, she snapped back. “I know. How absolutely ridiculous is that? They were obviously made in a pan, not a pot. It’s clear that the Bates home economics program isn’t doing its job properly. It was so hideous that I had to wash it down with a cup of the punch, which honestly wasn’t much better.”

Jo had taken one whiff of the punch and quickly passed. The smell alone was strong enough to take down a small horse.

“Oh, for the love of…”

“Me?” Blair interrupted, flashing Jo another dizzyingly white smile.

As Jo had in no way wanted to attend the pre-graduation bonfire thrown for the girls of Eastland by the Bates Academy boys, she decided that of the many reasons why, this was probably one of them. It had been a prescient knowledge that, by the end of the night, Blair would end up being nothing more than a pain in her butt.

Oh, how she’d been right. Not only was Blair her normal annoying self, she was now accidentally high. And, quite possibly, also accidentally drunk. Also, disturbingly affectionate.

“To the car, Princess,” Jo growled, detaching Blair from her with difficulty. With a heave of exertion, she managed to get Blair turned around and headed in the proper direction, though Blair adjusted to her newly detached position by simply reattaching herself to Jo’s side as if they were Siamese twins. She also placed her hand on Jo’s belly – for balance, or so Jo had thought – though Jo did find it disconcerting the way Blair merely left it there, rubbing gentle circles that had the unfortunate side-effect of inching her untucked shirt higher and higher on Jo’s abdomen.

“You will drive my chariot tonight, grand knight,” Blair declared regally as they reached the little red Porsche, tucking her keys into Jo’s front pocket.

The move put Blair in intimately close proximity yet again, and for a breathless and slightly panicky second, Jo thought that the blonde was going to kiss her. As it was, the other girl’s fingers lingered just a fraction too long inside of her pocket and removed themselves with what felt suspiciously like a carress.

“You, uh… you need to get in the car,” Jo said, voice high pitched with confused tension, completely undermining her desire for resolute. The rest of the behavior she could dismiss as a by-product of Blair’s unfortunate hors d’oeuvres choices, but the last little maneuver?

It was almost as if Blair was flirting with her. The very thought made her head hurt.

By the time Jo deposited Blair in the passenger’s seat and made it around to the driver’s side, Blair had somehow managed to arrange herself in a position of carefully posed dishabille, hair a tousled yet artful mess. Jo noted the sultry gaze and the provocative position but studiously ignored it, choosing instead to insert the car key into the ignition.

“You look like you belong there,” Blair purred as she brought the car roaring to life. The purr made Jo’s head hurt even more, and her fingers tightened around the wheel until the knuckles were white as she swallowed nervously, watching Blair out of the corner of her eye as she shifted into gear…

…and nearly jumped out of her seat at the feel of Blair’s hand covering her own. “And you shift so decisively," she said, something about the tone of her voice making the words the dirtiest Jo had heard in a long time. Possibly forever.

Not sure what else to do, especially given the way Blair had begun to delicately stroke the back of her hand, Jo snapped sourly, “Just how many of those brownies did you have, anyway?”

“Just the one,” Blair hummed, shifting in her seat so that she was turned fully toward Jo, eyes hooded and unreadable in the darkness as they eased smoothly out onto the main road.

Shooting the other girl a nervous glance, Jo added an irate, “You’re not wearing your seatbelt! What do you think you’re doing?”

Blair seemed to pause at that, head tilting to the side contemplatively. Then, with an oddly incongruous smile, she murmured, “Oh, Jo… I think I’m going to be sick.”

The words were accompanied by a whimper and, without hesitation, Jo immediately swung onto a side road and pulled them to a rocking stop, headlights throwing shafts of outmatched light out into the vast darkness before them. She waited for Blair to bolt out of the car, lest she run the risk of sullying the Porsche’s interior, but the other girl didn’t move.

At all.

Instead, she simply continued to stare at Jo.

Growing increasingly uncomfortable, Jo shifted restlessly in her seat, waiting for something – anything – to happen. Finally unable to take the inaction any longer, she accused, “I thought you were going to be sick?

“Oh no,” Blair replied airily, waving the words away with a flick of her hand, “I just wanted you to stop the car.”

Clicking out of her seat belt so that she could turn to face Blair, Jo crossed her arms over her chest and scowled at the other girl.

“You’re getting on my last nerve,” she said sharply.

Again, Blair tilted her head as if in thought, then smiled. And again, the smile was hard to categorize – a cross between mischievous, seductive, and frighteningly scary. Jo tried to force herself to see only the latter.

“I could get on something else,” Blair said suggestively, eyes narrowing and focusing and one brow arching as if in challenge.

That was definitely flirting, Jo decided uneasily, headache reaching a new level.

“I’m not sure what you’re trying to do here,” she began warily, shifting back nervously as Blair leaned forward, looking up at Jo from beneath her lashes, “but whatever it is, it’s probably a bad idea. It’s probably something you wouldn’t do if you were sober. So, ya know, whatever it is, you probably shouldn’t do it.”

“Probably not,” Blair replied flippantly, nothing in her demeanor indicating that the rational arguments Jo had laid out would in any way affect what she was planning to do. “But I would still want to do it, even if I didn’t.”

That didn’t make Jo feel any better, and she pressed even harder against the Porsche’s door, the handle digging into her lower back in a way that was far from comfortable.

Leaning over even farther to compensate for the distance, hand resting on Jo’s thigh, Blair sighed. “Don’t you see, Jo? It’s the end of our time together at Eastland and we have yet to admit our grand amour.”

“Our what?”

The viciously snapped word came after a moment of utter disbelief, after which Jo was almost too shocked to notice the way Blair’s hand was slowly creeping up her thigh. But, slapping a palm down on the offending digits, she glared at Blair, consciously disregarding the cuteness of the faux innocent look she was receiving. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Blair pouted. “It’s very obvious.”

Jo scowled. “What? Our grand amour?” she echoed dryly, rolling her eyes.

Beaming brightly at the other girl’s dawning understanding, Blair nodded happily. “Exactly!”

“You just had the brownie and the punch?” Jo asked snidely. “Are you sure there wasn’t something else? You’re clearly hallucinating and delusional.”

Pulling back, pout deepening, Blair said, hurt evident in her voice, “I am not. You’re just being stubborn. The evidence is overwhelming, Jo.”

Eyebrows raising in shock, Jo scoffed, “It is?”

“Uh-hmm,” Blair hummed meaningfully. “We’re very close. I’d much rather spend time with you than with anyone else and I’m sure you feel the same way. There’s a certain attraction there, of the opposites attract variety. You’re obviously the Clark Gable to my Claudette Colbert. And all of the fighting? Clearly, it’s unresolved sexual tension,” Blair finished triumphantly.

“Clearly you’ve lost your mind,” Jo muttered derisively, eyes narrowing as she tried to process everything Blair had just said. Which was useless, really, because what Blair had just said was nothing if not ridiculous.

Blair leaned forward again, hand once more resuming its place on Jo’s thigh, though her pout remained. “Jo, I don’t understand why you always have to be so difficult about things.”

“Difficult? I’m not being diff…” she managed incredulously before speech became all but impossible.

Jo landed back against the doorframe with an oomph, eyes going wide as Blair’s lips found hers with more accuracy than she might have expected. Blair had moved fast, using the leverage of the hand on Jo’s thigh to push forward, knees bumping loudly against the gear shift as she veritably launched herself across the car. Hands immediately finding Blair's shoulders, Jo pushed back against them only to be slightly stunned to find that Blair was using all of her body weight to maintain her position and was thus immovable. Further, her subsequent words of protest were muffled against the other girl’s lips as Blair literally threw herself into the kiss, forearms pressing painfully into Jo’s shoulders as she dug her fingers into long, dark hair with an uncharacteristic clumsiness.

There was precious little room in the driver’s seat of the Porsche as it was, and when Blair clambered across the midpoint of the vehicle to situate herself in Jo’s lap, there was even less. Feeling almost lightheaded, eyes opened and focused on the dark drape of Blair’s lashes, Jo decided to let the other girl have her moment of insanity and then extricate herself as delicately as possible. Or, at least, with a minimum of cursing. Or, maybe not.

But then Blair settled herself more comfortably, legs straddling Jo’s hips, and her tongue flicked out to tease along the lush expanse of Jo's bottom lip. Her fingers loosened their death grip in her hair to dip below the collar at the back of Jo’s neck, fingernails lightly scratching the sensitive skin there. It sent a shiver down her spine that landed in a quivering ball in her belly, and, much to her eternal embarrassment, Jo moaned. It was, to her added dismay, a slightly needy moan.

The moan earned a husky, pleased chuckle as Blair softened the kiss, easing back in millimeters as she slowly determined that Jo wasn’t going to dart away. As she felt the death grip ease, Jo did indeed think about pulling her head back and expressing in no uncertain terms just how little she appreciated being manhandled, but she found she’d started to return the kiss almost against her own will and certainly without any conscious thought. She imagined that would only compromise any potential argument illuminating Blair’s disturbing lapse of good sense and judgment that she might make and so, for the moment, decided that the continuation of the kiss wouldn’t do any real damage.

And then Blair decided to move on to new territory, placing a soft line of kisses across Jo’s cheek until her breath was hot in the other girl’s ear. The sensation was distressingly arousing, Jo noted, fingers clutching reflexively into Blair’s hips. “Blair,” she gasped out, “what are you…”

And again she was stopped short, the words lost, disappearing this time in the face of the feel of Blair’s hand pressing firmly against her breast. The touch was nearly scorchingingly hot, despite the layers of cloth separating her skin from Blair’s palm, but it was perhaps the shock of the move that sent her mind reeling.

Blair Warner was feeling her up in the front seat of the Porsche.

She was firmly convinced that she should protest and took a moment to find the words, trying to ignore the distraction of whatever it was that Blair was doing to her left ear that was so thoroughly interrupting her thought processes when the hand removed itself. Sighing in relief at the confrontation she decided had been averted, Jo turned her attention to systematically recalling all of her senses from the various places to which they’d fled so that she would have a clear and calm head when she ripped Blair into pieces for doing whatever it was she was doing.

And then the hand reappeared.

This time it had managed to sneak beneath the hem of her shirt and was sliding up along her side smoothly, fingertips barely brushing the silk of her bra before moving more confidently to reclaim the position it had so recently occupied on the outside of her shirt.

The resulting lack of oxygen left Jo a little woozy.

She’d let Blair Warner get to second base.

Jo realized that fact with terrified surprise before snapping her head back and away from Blair's all too tempting lips in an attempt to reassert sanity into the situation. But, she’d overestimated the amount of force needed, and the back of her head smacked sharply against the glass behind her, earning a pained wince and a rather virulent curse as the pain radiated through her.

“Oh, Jo!” Blair cried, dismayed, fingers immediately winding into Jo's hair again, this time much more gently, as she began to search for any swelling. “Are you okay?”

“Okay?” Jo echoed, dazed. “Am I okay? Blair, you just… You just…”

“Do you think we should go to a hospital?” Blair interrupted, voice earnest and eyes darkening with worry. “That sounded painful. You could have a concussion.”

“I don’t have a concussion,” Jo snapped, blinking wearily. Then, in a more aggressive though still confused tone, she added, “You attacked me!”

Panic momentarily forgotten, Blair rolled her eyes, clucking her tongue. “I did no such thing.”

“Then what do you call all this?” Jo asked, outraged, hand gesturing wildly between the two of them.

Shrugging her shoulders blithely, eyes innocent, Blair offered, “Making a move?”

“Then you’re a damn fast mover,” Jo grumbled, managing to cross her arms over her chest defensively despite the lack of space between them. “Were ya planning on consummating this so called grand amour of yours in the front seat of your car?”

“Of course not,” Blair replied, affronted. “Just what kind of girl do you think I am?”

“The kind of girl who just had her hand on my…”

“Language!” Blair nearly shrieked, eyes wide.

“What?” Jo scoffed. “You can put your hand there but I can’t even say it?”

“I don’t think I want to hear what you would have chosen to say,” Jo said primly, then frowned. “Gracious, it’s hot in here.”

“Yeah, with you fogging up the windows.”

Blair glared, clearly not amused. “I feel the need to point out that you kissed me back.”

Not quite sure how to deal with that observation, Jo merely returned the glare.

Breaking under the pressure of the stalemate after only a few seconds, Blair sighed, reaching out to run her fingers along the sharp cut of Jo’s cheek. “It might have taken the accidental ingestion of a few intoxicants to prod me into doing this, Jo, but I don’t regret it. Do you hate me?”

The last part was said almost shyly, Blair’s chin dipping down to hide her cringing, apologetic grimace, but Jo saw it anyway.

For a moment, she thought about answering the other girl’s question with a resounding yes. After all, Blair had to be one of the most infuriating, self-involved, shallow, narcissistic, thoughtless…

“No,” Jo sighed, shaking her head in bemusement. “I don’t hate you.”

At that, Blair perked up slightly. “Does that mean we can continue with our earlier activities?” she asked hopefully.

“The two things aren’t necessarily connected,” Jo said wryly. Then, “Would you mind returning to your side of the car? This isn’t exactly comfortable.”

Despite her earlier chagrin, Blair looked offended at the mere suggestion. “Jo,” she began, aghast, “are you spurning my advances?”

“Spurning your advances?” Jo echoed drolly. “Are you talking about your ever so subtle attempt to have your way with me in the front seat of your car?”

“Please,” Blair scoffed. “As if anyone could have their way with you.”

Jo wasn’t sure whether or not to be offended by that. And so, “Hey!” she protested, choosing offended.

Rolling her eyes and settling back so that she was resting back against the steering wheel, Blair said sarcastically, “Don’t tell me that the bad girl image is all bark and no bite. I would expect you’d be able to take care of yourself in any such situations. At least, that’s what you try to make us all believe.”

“Of course I can,” Jo defended angrily, jaw clenching at the apparent slight to her overall level of toughness. “Do you need a demonstration?”

“None of which addresses the issue at hand,” Blair pointed out, completely ignoring Jo’s small fit of vanity.

Still scowling, Jo said archly, “Oh, there was a point to this?”

Eyes narrowing in frustration, Blair said bluntly, “Did you or did you not enjoy kissing me and do you or do you not plan to do so again?”

“You kissed me,” Jo stipulated.

Hands clenching into fists as she tried not to groan out, or unleash in an uncharacteristically violent physical display, her anger, Blair managed a tight, “The instigator is irrelevant. Please answer the question.”

Jo stared at her for a moment before laughing wryly. “This is ridiculous. You’re not even going to remember this in the morning.”

A single blonde brow arched imperiously. “Do I seem that impaired to you?”

Despite her very ardent wish that the reverse was true, Jo allowed a gruff, “No. Not really.”

“So?” Blair prodded.

Huffing in frustration, Jo slumped back against the door, trying unsuccessfully to hide her wince as the back of her head once again came into contact with the window. “This is kinda sudden and not really something I was expecting to happen tonight.”

“Tonight?”

“Any night."

Sudden very serious, Blair murmured, “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.”

"About jumping me?”

“Jo,” Blair whined, exasperated. “Attempt to take this seriously.”

“Take what seriously?”

Bottom lip trembling and eyes glittering, hints of unshed tears catching the scant light available, Blair said weakly, “I hate you.”

Blair realized belatedly that she’d gotten herself into a position with no graceful exit. Though she desperately wanted to remove herself from Jo’s lap and find a new location that was, possibly, several hundred miles away, she was trapped. She couldn’t climb back over the gear shift into the passenger’s seat, at least not in a way that would preserve her dignity, and she couldn’t exit through the driver’s side door. Jo was still lounging against it, arms crossed across her chest, disbelief etched into her features.

“Oh, come on,” Jo sighed, shaking her head briefly. “You don’t hate me. You don’t hate anybody. I thought it was one of your rules.”

Blair sniffed. “Then I greatly dislike you.”

“What happened to our grand amour?”

“Apparently,” Blair replied, voice icy, “I imagined it.”

Then, deciding that she couldn’t take it anymore, Blair made a split second decision. She lunged forward, hand grappling behind Jo’s back to find the door handle and the support Jo had been enjoying vanished in a second, sending her sputtering and tumbling out onto the rough asphalt as Blair scampered out after her, not even bothering to stop as she began to stalk resolutely back the way they’d come.

“Hey,” Jo shouted, pushing up on the palms of her hands and wincing, the sharp pull of the skin at her left elbow letting her know that she’d suffered some collateral damage from Blair’s sudden exit, “where are you going?”

“Home,” Blair shouted back, not pausing.

Pushing up with a sigh, Jo climbed to her feet. She paused a moment to brush the dust off of her jeans and take a look at her elbow, wincing at the red slick of blood she could see starting just below the bend. “I’m bleeding here,” she grumbled, as much to herself as anything.

“Don’t be a baby.” This time Blair’s shout was a little less certain, and she wavered for a moment, half turning back toward Jo.

“I’m not being a baby,” Jo protested grouchily, twisting and turning her arm to get a better idea of how extensive the scrape was.

After a moment’s deliberation and with a huff of exasperation, Blair retraced her steps. “Well,” she demanded, “let’s see it.”

“It’s no big deal.”

Blair merely looked at the other girl expectantly until Jo gave in, holding out her arm with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Jo responded by grabbing her hand, pulling Jo around until they were standing in front of the car, the headlights illuminating them as brightly as if it were day.

“Oh, Jo,” she murmured, dismayed. A patch of skin had conceded the battle to asphalt, leaving a nasty scrape behind. It was a couple of inches long, though not very wide, and had already left a trail of blood down Jo’s arm. “This is all my fault. I’m so sorry.”

She looked up, eyes wide and full of concern. “Stay right here.”

Blair reached into the driver’s side, popping the Porsche’s tiny trunk and then disappeared behind the car for a moment before reappearing, a long, flat leather case in hand. “Emergency kit,” she said by way of explanation, laying the case down on the hood of the car and popping it open. Jo noted that it contained a wide variety of things, each nestled into its own special spot. There were jumper cables and tire patch kits alongside flares and a small bag of medical supplies.

“Do you even know how to use these things?” she asked in disbelief, picking up one end of the jumper cables.

“Of course not,” Blair said dismissively, “but I have them on hand if I ever need them. Besides, I’m sure you know what to do with them.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Blair winced. “Not that I would need you to help me with my car. Or, with anything else for that matter.”

For reasons she didn’t quite understand, Jo decided to remain silent.

“Now, let’s see your arm.” Blair voice had hit a higher register and was nearly quivering with nerves.

Dutifully, Jo held her arm out again.

Looking up apologetically, Blair murmured, “This is going to sting.”

The first touch of the alcohol pad against her abraded flesh made Jo jump back, calves hitting the Porsche’s bumper. “Jesus,” she yelped, cradling her arm to her chest protectively.

Nearly crying in dismay, not quite sure how things could have gone so wrong, Blair said pitifully, “I’m sorry, Jo. Let’s just wrap it up in a bandage and get you home. I’m sure Ms. Garrett will know what to do.”

Blair looked so bereft, shoulders hunched in and eyes downcast, that Jo felt like a boor. “No,” she said, trying to ignore the pinprick of tears the sting had elicited, “just finish what you were doing.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Blair bent to the task again, this time her touch so gentle it was almost nonexistent. “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” she said mournfully, leaning forward to blow lightly on the scrape, hoping to take some of the sting away.

Hissing, Jo managed a tight, “It’s okay.” Then, after a beat, followed it up with a seemingly blasé, “So, you’ve been thinking about it for a long time?”

The question was almost so cryptic as to miss its mark, but Blair found she unfortunately understood exactly what was being asked.

“I don’t think we should talk about that,” she said hesitantly, a hint of sadness in her tone. Unable to meet Jo’s eyes, she instead turned her attention to the emergency kit. Pulling free a tube of antibiotic ointment, some gauze and a bandage, she busied herself with tending to the scrape.

The smear of antibiotic ointment against Jo’s skin was cool. “That’s not the way this is going to work, Princess,” the brunette said gruffly. “You can’t round second base on me and then refuse to talk about it.”

Blair frowned, gently smoothing the small square of gauze into place. “Don’t be crude,” she scolded, then began to unroll the ace bandage she’d pulled from the kit. Jo watched as Blair focused on what she was doing with an almost unnatural intensity, slowly securing the bandage and fastening it carefully in place with two small silver butterfly clips.

“Don’t avoid the subject,” Jo tossed back.

With the task of tending to Jo’s injured elbow finished, Blair turned her attention to repacking the emergency kit. “I thought you’d made your thoughts on that subject quite clear.”

The Porsche was still running, the fine vibration of the motor rumbling through Jo as she struggled to make sense of the emotions coursing through her.

Unable to do so with any level of success, she sighed, running the palm of her good hand over the top of her head. Then, deciding that she really didn’t know what to say anyway, Jo snaked an arm around Blair’s waist, pulling her forward so that they were pressed together, Jo's hands resting lightly on her shoulders.

“Maybe my thoughts aren’t all that clear,” she husked, meeting Blair’s eyes for a second before looking away nervously.

Shyly and cautiously optimistic, Blair attempted to inject the moment with a hint of levity. “Did you have one of the brownies, too, or is it just the head injury?”

Jo’s surprised laugh was sharp. “No. My best friend just made out with me in the front seat of her car and now everything’s a little screwy.”

“I guess I shouldn’t have done that,” Blair admitted with a small, sad smile.

Taking the chance to ask the question again, Jo murmured, “But you’ve been thinking about it for a long time?”

Blair’s nod in the affirmative was shallow and shy.

Striving for nonchalant, Jo confessed gruffly, “Maybe I’ve thought about it too.”

Blair’s pleased smile was almost bright enough to blind. “Oh, Jo. Really?”

Desperate to divert the other girl’s attention, Jo snorted, “Obviously not with as much erotic detail as you.”

Blair sighed, one of her customary put upon drama queen sighs. The return to normal immediately put Jo at ease. “Yet another area in which I must expand your horizons.”

Unable to help feeling affronted, Jo growled an only mildly irritated, “We’ll see who expands whose horizons.”

Blair found Jo’s pout to be adorably cute. Daring to lean in for a soft stolen kiss, she pulled back with a smile. “Well, won’t this be a story to tell our grandchildren.”

“Grandchildren?” Jo barked, alarmed, her momentary sense of ease immediately deserting her. “Slow it down there, blondie. What do you say we go on a few dates first?”

“We’ve already been unofficially dating for years,” Blair pointed out, aggrieved, her look clearly intimating that Jo was operating at less than full brain capacity for not having realized that herself. “I think we can give the formalities a passing wave and move along.”

“I want the full wave,” Jo protested, feeling a hint of panic start to re-emerge. “I want official dates. I want no further talk of progeny or grand-progeny for a long time. Possibly forever.”

Blair’s smirk was positively triumphant. “We’ll see.”

Jo would have protested further, but once again Blair managed to steal the words.