Nobody moved, Jo just froze while Blair felt herself sink deeper into her pillow. They could hear someone chuckle.
"Ladies? I know you are still awake. Blair, I can hear you wheezing." Natalie said with a smile.
"What is wrong with you people? Can't a girl breathe without being criticized?" Blair hissed angrily.
"What were you two doing tonight?" Natalie said with a chuckle.
Jo was getting angry, "We were studying, what else would we have been doing?"
Blair sighed and sat up in bed. She waited for a cue from Jo, she was so much better at lying than she was.
"Really, studying in the lounge were you?" Natalie said happily.
"Yeah, Yoda, studying!" Jo replied in a angry whisper.
"Jo Jo Jo ...I was downstairs only half an hour ago to get some milk and I saw no sign of you or Blair. Plus your motorcycle wasn't parked in it's usual place." Natalie sat up and looked over at Jo.
"Mrs. G doesn't keep her cookies in the garage, Nat!" Jo said quietly.
Blair was now watching the two girls verbally spar with each other.
"I admit, I was not just looking for cookies, Jo. I had a sneaky suspicion that you and Blair were up to something, so I snooped. So...?" Natalie said in good humour.
"...so?" Blair chimed in.
Jo looked over at Blair and then Natalie. Shoot, now she had an audience. Thank God Tootie was snoring away in the top bunk over Natalie. She struggled with what she was going to say next.
"Look Nat, Blair and me had some personal stuff to discuss and we decided to go over to the Half Moon Cafe and drink some java, you know have some pie and talk." Jo said quietly. It was almost the whole truth.
Blair liked the explanation and piped in, "It was all innocent, Natalie, really! We just didn't think Mrs. Garrett would allow us to go out on a school night so we fibbed...a little."
Natalie shook her head and smiled, "We have pie and coffee right here...in the cafeteria we work in, Jo. Tell me the truth now, why did you and Blair travel all the way down the I-9 to a sleazy cafe?"
Blair spoke up, "It wasn't that sleazy!"
"Blair, shut it!" Jo responded in annoyance.
"Sorry." Blair said quietly. Sleazy wasn't the word for the Half Moon Cafe, more like, a place of ill repair. She kept quiet.
"So Jo, you guys did go there! Was it like the Chug-A-Lug? Were there boys? Oh right, you two didn't go there for...boys, did you?" Natalie laughed but stopped when she could see the angst in Jo's eyes.
"Okay okay, we drove over there to study. Satisfied, Walter Cronkite?" Jo said finally, feeling deflated and rather tired. It was already 2 am and she was getting sleepy.
"Something has shifted in the time/space continuum here at Eastland and I am going to find out eventually. You both can come clean or leave it like this. I will find out. It's what I do best." Natalie said nonchalantly.
Jo looked over at Blair, and sighed. This was becoming too complicated. Would it scare Blair away, again or bring them closer? She didn't know.
Blair could see Jo's conflicted face, and she yearned to reach out and reassure her friend, but she knew Natalie was watching them both like a Hawk tracking it's prey. It was her call, she could tell by Jo's reluctance to say any more to Nat.
"Natalie, we went to the cafe to be alone. We had important things to discuss and didn't want any interruptions. Can we leave it like that?" Blair said with a slight whine in her voice.
Natalie grinned, "You could easily have gone into the garage for that, or even a walk around the dorm. But you two risked alot going AWOL from Eastland and using your fake ID's again. Spill it, you guys were on a date!"
Jo groaned and covered her eyes with both hands, while Blair just stared at Natalie in awe. Since when did Natalie Green become so damn worldly?
"Yes, we were on a date. Jo and I were on a date. Is that it? Big deal! We date...now. Look Natalie this is very personal and private, and Jo and I hope you can keep it to yourself. I'm not sure how well this would go over with the other girls, our parents and Mrs. Garrett." Blair said, finding the courage that had been alluding her all week with Jo.
Natalie seemed pleased with the truth and she smiled at them both, "The secret is safe with me ladies. But in future, try to use a better stealth techniques. Oh and if I ever need a quote related to homosexuality for an article, can I use you both...anonymously of course."
"Are you effing kidding me?" Jo said louder than she indented.
"Quiet Jo...yes yes...Natalie, we will be your source for all things homosexual, is that all?" Blair said impatiently. She couldn't believe she had actually said that out loud.
"Yeah, that's great. I'm happy for both of you." Natalie said with a yawn. She lay back and got comfortable in her bunk.
Both Jo and Blair also found themselves under their covers and closing their eyes. They'd talk tomorrow about the whole fiasco.
Just as all three were almost asleep, Natalie spoke up, almost as if in a dream state and said, "Took you two long enough to hook up. I mean, really."
Nat then fell soundly asleep while Blair and Jo's eyes popped open in surprise and it took them another twenty minutes to fall asleep.
The next morning, Blair was up before any of them and quickly showered, dressed and was downstairs before the crack of dawn. Jo followed suit and soon they were alone in the kitchen, putting their aprons on at the same time. They were silent as they gathered the morning meal prep together.
Finally Blair let out a sigh and Jo frowned, "Do you have to do that?"
Blair feigned surprise and smiled, "Whatever do you mean?"
That made Jo laugh and soon the ice was broken.
"I can't believe Natalie sometimes. She is more nosy than Tootie!" Blair said as she cut up the cantaloupe.
Jo nodded as she cut the grapefruit in half, "She's becoming a pain, but we are trapped. Who know's who she'll blab to if we don't play along."
"If she tells anyone, I'll just die!" Blair said as she arranged the cantaloupe on the stainless steel plater.
Jo stopped her slicing and looked up at Blair, "Whadda ya mean, die? Is that how you feel about us now?"
Blair frowned, "Don't be stupid, of course I don't feel that way. It's just we haven't even had 72 hours to ourselves let alone worrying about the whole school knowing our business. Doesn't it scare you?"
Jo shrugged and put her knife down, "I guess that makes sense. But...well...I've had more time to ruminate about it than you, I guess."
Blair looked at Jo and smiled, "How long?"
Jo became annoyed again and threw her hands in the air, "I dunno, a lot of time! Who keeps track."
Blair smiled and picked up the tray of fruit and placed it on the trolly. Once she wrapped it in Saran wrap, she looked over at Jo, "Okay, as long as you've been here at Eastland or before Eastland."
Jo blushed, "Well, it's something I knew about myself, I guess, since I was young but it didn't mean anything until I came here."
"Same here. I mean, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my dates with the men who pursued me, relentlessly, but something just wasn't right. Then you rumbled into town and nothing was the same." Blair said, equally blushing when Jo glanced at her.
The awkward silence was broken by the sounds of Edna Garrett, barking orders to someone in the cafeteria area. Jo walked over to the door to see who she was giving grief to. On tip toes, she spied through the port hole in the door.
"Hey, Blair! She's giving Natalie the what for, come here, quick!" Jo said with a laugh.
Blair ran over and watched over Jo's shoulder as Mrs. Garrett seemed to be yelling at Natalie Green, "That's not like Mrs. Garrett, Jo. I wonder what's going on?"
Jo chuckled, "Whatever, she had it coming."
Suddenly Edna Garrett looked from Natalie to the door where Jo and Blair were peering from. They disappeared quickly, and ran back to their work. They were both busy finishing their work when Edna entered the kitchen.
"Hey Mrs. G!" Jo said with a nervous smile. Blair smiled at Edna then went back to slicing the fruit.
"Hey Jo! Hi Blair. You two are sure up early! I was just coming to work on the fruit plate." Edna Garrett said with a easy smile. Jo sighed in relief, maybe she was chewing Natalie out after all.
"Did you have a good sleep, Mrs. Garrett?" Blair asked tentatively. She still wasn't sure if every thing was normal this morning.
"Oh yes dear, I did. But I don't know what got into Natalie last night." Edna said as she donned her apron and washed her hands.
Jo and Blair looked at Edna like deer in headlights.
"Whadda ya mean, Mrs. G?"' Jo asked with a cringe.
"Oh you know Natalie, she kept trying to go downstairs and bother you girls while you were studying. After the fifth time, I just had it and gave her a lecture. She wasn't too pleased with me this morning either." Edna said with a chuckle.
"What happened this morning?" Blair asked quietly.
"Someone used up all the hot water! She was furious that she had to have a cold shower. I told her that if she had got up early like you girls, she would have had all the hot water to herself. She didn't liken that either. I guess she slept on the wrong side of the bed!" Edna Garrett laughed and started to prepare the oatmeal.
Natalie Green entered the kitchen with a scowl and demanded, "What's so funny?"
Tootie was right behind her and she gave the girls and Mrs. Garrett an easy smile, "Morning all!"
"Well?" Natalie said, staring at Jo and Blair.
"Mrs. G was just telling us a joke, cool it Nat!" Jo said with a warning look. Natalie may have had something over her and Blair, but it wasn't okay with Jo for Mrs. G to be reefed on.
"Right, cool it as in cold shower, huh Blair?" Natalie said with a sore smile.
"Sorry Natalie, I didn't realize how long I was in the shower." Blair said sincerely.
Jo looked over and frowned, "For once, you can blame me for the shower, not Blair."
Natalie's mood shifted and she grinned, "So, you needed a cold shower, huh?"
"Natalie!" Blair yelled, then realizing everyone was looking, she restated her words, "That is, Natalie, don't you know a grease monkey needs more soap and water than the rest of us?"
"Cute, Blair, really mature." Jo said half heartedly. She didn't have it in her right now to be angry with the silly heiress. She was just so relieved that they survived the first hour of the day without bells and whistles going off.
The rest of the breakfast service went without incident, and finally it was over. Jo and Blair washed dishes while Tootie and Natalie bused tables. Soon it was over and they all ran upstairs to quickly regroup, fix their uniforms and get their book bags. After Tootie and Natalie had scrambled down the stairs in front of them, Jo stopped Blair from running down the hallway.
"Get in here, Princess!" Jo whispered from their doorway.
"I'm going to be late for my English class, Jo!" Blair said with uncertainty.
"I didn't give you a good morning kiss yet!" Jo whispered and waggled her eye brows. That made Blair laugh and she leaned in and kissed Jo lightly on the lips before breaking away and running down the stairs towards the outside door. Jo smiled as she watched the blonde run down the stairs. She grabbed her bag and sauntered down the hallway, smiling all the way down the stairs.