Author's Note: I have more free time at the moment, so I've been writing more on my stories here. Sorry for the delays! :) Thank you to everyone who is still reading and reviewing! Reviews make my day!
Jo sucked in her breath as she pulled the sheet-turned-tourniquet tighter around her chest. With a frown, she decided she was as flat as she was going to get and she tucked the corners into the top. She finished dressing in Laurie's clothes, looked at herself in the mirror and was just about to open the door before it swung open and Laurie popped his head in, eyes closed.
"You ready yet?"
"I think so," Jo said slowly, lips pursed, waiting for his response.
"Huh." Laurie looked her up and down before he grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. "Not bad..." He mussed her hair. "Good thing it's still short."
Jo rolled her eyes. "Oh, now you like my short hair; it wasn't long ago that you called me a 'porcupine'."
Laurie laughed. "Well...it does still look prickly."
"So..." she huffed, "do I look like a boy?"
"A bit effeminate, but yes, you'll pass." He scrutinized her once more as she turned around. "Wait, can't you bind yourself any more than that?"
"No." Jo frowned down at her bodice. "Can you tell?"
"If anyone looks long enough," he started to mutter. "Let's see if we can't get you a little flatter."
Jo blushed furiously. "I tried, this is the best I can do."
"Let me help."
Laurie sighed. "Come on, Jo. It's not a big deal. You'll still be covered. I'll just be able to pull the binding tighter than you can."
Jo looked down at herself, gulped, then gave her quiet agreement. Laurie rose his brows, looking at her expectantly. "What?" she asked, avoiding his gaze.
"Are you going to," he pointed at her shirt and cleared his throat, "unbutton?"
"Uh, yes. Alright." Jo bit her lip as she popped the buttons out of the holes, her fingers trembling the entire time. She froze when Laurie's hand grabbed hers.
"It's alright, Jo," he told her softly.
She brought her eyes to look into his and nodded without a sound. Laurie took her shirt off, letting it drop to the floor. His breath caught as he looked at her bare shoulders. He lightly traced a line from freckle to freckle on her right shoulder.
"Teddy," she whispered and he immediately withdrew his hand.
"Let's...get this done. I need to undo this ending so I can re-wrap it tighter." He began to unwrap the sheet she had wound around her midsection but she stopped him with a yelp.
"Stop," she screeched.
"I'm not going to," he paused with a sigh, "look, I won't go too far. I promise."
"This, this is a mistake."
"It's not, I-"
"No," she cut him off, "I don't mean just right now. This entire trip has been a mistake. Look at us, Teddy. We are, we have been behaving so – it just...it isn't right."
Laurie stared at her. "It's not a mistake." He cupped her cheek with his palm. "It's not a mistake," he whispered. He slowly inched his face towards hers, then tilted his head so he could press his lips to hers.
"Teddy," she started just as their lips met but he 'ssshed' her as he continued to kiss her. He pulled her flush against him, closing the room between them. Her sheet unraveled further and she abruptly broke the kiss, grasping at her cover with one hand and pressing her fingers against her swollen lips with the other.
"Jo," Laurie began, swallowing a lump in his throat as he took in her panicked eyes.
"Just go, please." Her voice quivered.
"Jo," he repeated, taking a step towards her then stopping when she stumbled back. "Fine, I'll go out for a few minutes. Just – stay calm. Everything is fine."
She shook her head, tears sprang to her eyes. "I don't know what I'm doing."
"Nothing. You've done – we've done nothing wrong."
"We've lied to everybody," Jo countered, still out of breath.
"Well, there is that."
"I think we need to...go home." Jo sniffed.
"No, no, we mustn't. Not yet, Jo." Laurie moved to stand beside her and rest his hand on her arm but she flinched at the contact, causing him to take two steps back. "You're doing good here. Your father is happy to see you. You can't leave now."
"Just sit and relax. I'll give you a few minutes to dress. Everything will be fine. Just – don't panic. We're not doing anything wicked, Jo. Remember that. We're here on a good mission." Laurie gave her one last pleading look before he left the room and dashed down the stairs and towards the front desk.
The surly night clerk stared at him. "Yes, sir?"
"Where can I get blancmange?"
The clerk blinked. "Blancmange?"
"Yes, I need to get some. Tonight. Right now."
"It is late."
"I realize that."
"No restaurants are open, sir."
Laurie frowned. "Don't you have a kitchen?"
The clerk stared. "Yes, sir, but it is only open for breakfast and supper."
"Well, can't you make an exception? Does the cook board here?"
"Yes, but as I said, it is late." The clerk tilted his nose in the air as he grudgingly added, "sir."
"The inconvenience is too great."
Laurie rose his brows. "I'll pay as much money as is needed to convince the cook to make it. Money is no object."
The clerk tittered. "Well, it is very unorthodox – however, due to the circumstances I will ask her."
"Thank you." Laurie leaned against the desk as he waited, his gaze kept flicking towards the staircase, fearful that he would see Jo come tumbling down, suitcases in hand. A few moments passed before the clerk returned.
"She said she will make your blancmange, but only for this compensation." The clerk, using his right little finger, delicately pushed a piece of paper towards Laurie with a figure scribbled across the top. Laurie snorted at the ridiculous amount but agreed nonetheless. The clerk sniffed and nodded before he disappeared once more. Laurie sat in one of the lobby chairs, watching the clock for the next fifteen minutes.
"The blancmange is finished, sir. The cook has set it to solidify over the next few hours. I can send a message to your room when it is ready, if you like."
"Hours?" Laurie sighed. "That's too long. Can't I take it now?"
"Blancmange must set before it can be eaten. It isn't solid."
"Hang it all," Laurie muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck. "That's fine, I'll just take it now."
"I'll have it now. Thank you," Laurie told him firmly, his irritation obvious on his face.
"Very well, sir." The clerk left and when he returned he was carrying a dish with a jiggly cream coloured substance inside.
"Thank you," Laurie took the dish, "I shall have your bank notes tomorrow." He took the stairs two at a time, nearly sprinting his way to their floor, and only stopping when he reached their door. He knocked tentatively before cracking the door open with his free hand. "Can I come in?"
"Yes. I suppose."
Laurie wrinkled his nose at her dejected tone. He hid the blancmange behind his back as he entered and shut the door with his foot, his eyes never leaving her. "I have a peace offering."
"It's no use, I've made up my mind, Teddy. We must leave in the morning." Jo brought her eyes to his, her face seemingly resolved to not break emotion, but her stoniness faltered when she noticed he was hiding something. "What's that you have behind your back?"
"Nothing," Laurie answered playfully.
"It's something. Show me."
"Theodore Lawrence, I demand you show me what's behind your back."
A slow grin took the boy over. "What have you been dreaming about?"
"I've no idea what you're referring to."
"Sure you do," Laurie toyed with her, "it starts with a 'b' and it always makes you blush to think on it."
Jo's eyes widened. "You don't mean-"
Laurie whipped the dish out and thrust it beneath her nose, while slowly enunciating "blanc-mange..."
Jo clasped at her collar. "Where on Earth did you get blancmange at this hour?"
"I have my ways." Laurie leaned towards her, his lips a few inches from her ear, "I always get what I want."
Jo jumped away, flustered. "This doesn't – what does it mean? What I meant to say is – this changes nothing." She licked her lips, looked at Laurie then immediately looked away, backed further away from him until her back hit the wall. "I can't believe you got that just to upset me."
"Upset you?" Laurie put the dish down on the dresser top. "I thought it would make you laugh."
"Well, it didn't." Jo turned from him and stared out the window into the darkness.
"What was the blasted dream about, anyhow?"
"Don't say 'blast'."
"You say 'blast' all of the time. You're starting to sound like Meg."
"I wonder what they're thinking about us? Marmee...she must be so disappointed in me," Jo barely choked out.
"They'll understand. You're lifting your father's spirits. You're the best medicine in the world for him. They'll see that."
Jo remained quiet for awhile longer before she turned around, her gaze resting on the blancmange. "How did you manage to get that?"
Laurie smiled. "I've told you. I shan't give up my secrets."
Jo moved to the dresser and stuck her finger on the liquidly food. "It's not yet done."
"Well, it was short notice," Laurie began to excuse the immediacy of his task until he heard her laughing.
"I can't believe you went to all the trouble just to do this for me." Jo turned her flushed face towards Laurie. "Oh, Teddy. What an adventure we're having. I never want it to end, even though it's wicked. I never want to grow up." She sat on the bed and Laurie moved to sit next to her.
"Even when we're old, we'll always have adventures together, you and me, Jo-girl." He nudged her shoulder with his.
"It won't be the same. You'll grow up and marry some accomplished girl and where will that leave me? The third wheel, the old spinster who talks to her fifty cats, all named Rodrigo," she laughed.
"But you'll be married, too," Laurie began slyly, "you never know, maybe we'll marry each other."
Laurie sulked at her bark. "What's so funny?"
"The thought of you and I getting married. What a lark!" Jo snorted in a way that would make Meg and Amy blush. "Can you imagine such a silly thing?"
Jo's humour instantly fled at Laurie's tone. "I'm much too wild to ever be a Lawrence. You're going to marry a refined, elegant girl who loves parties and socializing," she said in what she meant to be a teasing tone but it fell flat.
"Nah, that's not my type at all. I prefer the hotheaded, flighty, writer types." He winked at her.
"Teddy, please," she whispered but he waved away any further talk.
"I'm only larking, comrade." He hopped from his seat and grabbed the blancmange. "Do we dare try it?"
"It's still setting."
Laurie cocked a brow. "Afraid?"
"Never," Jo insisted, chin stuck out.
"We have no spoons."
"What's this?" Laurie stuck his hand in the air, crooked his forefinger, thrust his finger into the gooey blancmange, then he shoved the dripping food into his mouth. His cheeks sucked in as he tasted the immature food. Jo laughed so hard she nearly fell off the bed. "Good – real good," he managed between twisting his face as he swallowed.
"You're such a fool," she laughed harder when he tried to hand the dish to her.
"Aren't you going to try it?"
"No, not after that. I'll wait until it sets, thank you very much."
"Fine. Coward." Laurie stuck his tongue out at her.
"No, I'm the smart one," she corrected before a yawn escaped her. "Guess it's time to retire."
"I expect you're right. I have one question before we get ready to sleep."
"Tell me what your blancmange dream was about?"
"Never." Jo shot him a sly smile before ordering him out so she could dress in her nightclothes.
Thanks for reading! Review? Please :)