AN: I've been researching FOL for my crossover with Law and Order SVU and this came to me. It's an opportunity to combine two of my loves - Shakespeare and Writing in a fanfic context which makes sense. It's my first FOL fic and I'm not American so I hope that I do the show and it's characters justice. I also didn't get to see the show when it was originally on which sucks so some details may not be accurate.
AN2: This story is Femslash, it deals with romantic relationships between female characters so if that's not your thing then this probably isn't for you.
AN3: I in no way condone or approve of any kind of criminal activity. Any which is portrayed here is done merely for dramatic purposes.
Disclaimer: I don't own these guys and girls with the exception of the few original characters which come into play from time to time. I am not doing this for profit but for fun. I also do not own any of the Shakespeare quotes that I use, I simply own copies of his plays and poems because I love them so. The story is unbeta'd so mistakes are my own, I'll do my best to check and change as we go.
The pairing for this fic is Jo/Blair but it's going to take a little while for them to get together, that's part of the fun... Make the setting around their second year of Langley, late in their first semester or thereabouts. My guess is that would make Jo and Blair around 20 while Nat and Tootie would be a little younger 18 and 15 nearly 16 respectively. If I'm wrong about this let me know I'm thinking along the lines of the UK University system to figure this out.
Finally reviews and constructive criticism are much appreciated - they let me know whether I'm steering a true course or not.
Re-defining Shakespeare…or… A Rose…
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss,
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger:
But O, what damnèd minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
William Shakespeare's Othello 1604
Chapter 1: Green Eyes and Motorbikes
It was only when the flowers had started coming that Jo began to lose her cool. Roses, dozens and dozens of them. It wasn't even Valentine's Day yet and the place was like a florist. The fault for this lay squarely with Brock Worthington IV or V or zillionth. He was Blair's latest suitor, he'd been hanging around 'Edna's Edibles' for ages inviting Blair to watch him at football practise, or join him at his frat house. At first Blair had smiled politely but declined his invitations charmingly and Jo had breathed a sigh of relief. The relief however had been short lived.
He hadn't even just sent red roses. Clichéd gestures of romanticism she could handle – there were enough jocks and wannabe tycoons showing an interest in Blair Warner that roses per se didn't bother Jo much anymore. Much to Jo's frustration Mr Perfect had checked into 'symbolism' and so they were in fact yellow roses with red tips… or even worse some were lavender. She hated him with a vengeance. Blair was smitten. The two had been dating for the last three weeks and it seemed doubtful that they were going to break up any time soon. Jo had never felt so miserable.
What made it worse was that Brock Worthington the zillionth was a biker. Despite his perfect 'breeding' and old family background he actually knew his way around a bike. He was down to earth and he was pretty smart too. He had dark hair, wore jeans and leather jackets, he had an athletic build. Basically he was a richer, male version of Jo. He and Jo even had mutual friends – he had been a student at Stone Military Academy, was friends with Buzz, Hank, Chip and Alfred. Buzz in particular sang the guy's praises and it was driving Jo mad. On paper at least the two of them should get along great, they were typecast to be buddies. That was the problem. So when Brock appeared on this particular Saturday afternoon ready to take Blair out for a picnic lunch on his new bike Jo was in a foul mood. Later she would likely try to convince herself that this mood was the reason she did it, that and to prove that she was the better rider. That's exactly what she told herself at this moment while listening to him bragging about a rare event around Peekskill - some street race- while Blair was upstairs getting ready, a street race he intended to watch but had no intention of getting involved in. That just wasn't the high society thing to do was it? Everything about him served to infuriate Jo more than usual today, he was so animated and she could feel her blood boiling at the thought that he was going to be spending the day with her princess, he'd probably even convince Blair to go to this race he was bragging about. Jo immediately zeroed in on his reluctance to race himself, egging him on, knowing full well what the outcome of her taunts would be. Of course it helped that he seemed to hate her just as much as she hated him. In fact that was the thing that made this particular discussion, it couldn't be called an argument since their voices were low the last thing either needed was an upset Blair, so satisfying. It didn't occur to her to ask the reason for his hatred; she was too busy revelling in her own. That was why she issued her challenge.
'C'mon Worthington…whatsamatter you scared you're gonna get beaten by a girl?'
'Ain't nobody can beat me…'
'On that heap of junk? Pedestrians are faster…'
'Fifty bucks says I'll wipe the floor with ya…'
She had him then and she knew it. It felt good too, Mr Perfect wasn't so perfect after all and the feeling of satisfaction washed over her like a summer breeze. With his type once a bet was involved it was hard for them to resist. Money after all was their God. He was tempted, it was written in his body language and she waited patiently as he came to his decision.
'No other bikes Polniaczek, it's a straight race between us.'
'Deal. Be at the bridge at midnight. Bring your second.'
It was left unsaid but both knew that Blair would never need to know about this. She certainly wouldn't approve of it. Neither Brock nor Jo wanted to disappoint the blonde beauty. The two shook hands just as Blair flounced downstairs looking as beautiful as ever. She hugged Jo on impulse upon seeing them, believing wholeheartedly that her friend had finally decided to give her new beau the benefit of the doubt. If she felt an ounce of guilt Jo didn't show it. She completely missed the look of disgust that crossed Brock's face at Blair's affectionate gesture. Instead she hugged Blair back, taking a moment to inhale the intoxicating and subtle scent before waving them both off and heading to the phone. She had to make sure she had a second and Nat, Tootie or Mrs G just wouldn't do.
'Buzz…eh how ya doin?'
'Not bad Jo, how you makin out?'
'No complaints. You up for a race tonight?'
'I ain't racin these days pal you know that…'
'I don't wanna race ya, I need a second. I'm racin a buddy of yours tonight…'
'Are ya crazy?' Buzz sounded incredulous.
'Is that a no?'
'I'll always be your second Jo. Just be careful OK?'
'Hey it's me you're talkin to…'
'That's exactly what I mean pal…'
That was all it took. All she had to do now was wait until midnight and then she'd be able to prove that she was the better man, well woman, hell she'd prove that Brock Worthington the zillionth was dust in her tracks. She knew she was being irrational, that she was allowing her jealousy to cloud her judgement and that if they were caught then there would be hell to pay. None of that mattered though, all she could think about was getting one over on that smug, arrogant…he reminded her so much of just why she couldn't allow Blair to catch on to her true feelings. The reason she had to keep the truth of just how much she cared a secret. It really killed her. Had she been thinking about the consequences then she would never have goaded him into a race, it didn't matter that she knew she could beat him, it was the wrong thing to do. That much she was aware of. She also knew just how angry her princess would be if she found out. Then again in her jealousy riddled mind it was worth it, just for that split second of victory when she wiped the smug grin off of Worthington's face. Jo was no stranger to hatred, it was something that she had experienced throughout her life in the Bronx and even on occasion through her time at Eastland, jealousy however was a new entity and it was something she had no control over, she had no way to contain it because she had never experienced it. She knew enough to know it was getting the best of her in this situation but knowing that and doing something about it were two separate things.
With no alternative but to keep her mind occupied she went into the shop, it wasn't her shift yet but she needed to take her mind off of things and studying for once didn't appeal. Besides if she was in Mrs G's good books before tonight then if she got caught the ramifications may not be so bad. She shook her head, it was a ridiculous notion, one that sounded more like her teenaged self than the woman she was now. Sometimes however she wondered if she had really changed all that much.
Sneaking out of their room was harder than Jo had anticipated. Blair was sitting on her bed, sighing over some mushy romance novel; she had been ever since Brock had dropped her off an hour before. Jo knew that Blair had been disappointed that he had cut their date short, well frustratingly it hadn't exactly been a short date but then again usually when Blair was out with him she rarely made it home before 2am. The girls were constantly covering for her with Mrs G and more than once Jo had had to work in the shop alone to make up for Blair's absence. It was yet another reason that Jo detested him. She didn't trust him. Luckily Tootie and Nat were still out at the movies, though if she didn't get a move on Jo wouldn't be out of there before they returned either. She cursed herself for not having had the fore thought to have left earlier but she had wanted so much to spend some time with Blair before the race. Just in case. It was a superstitious thing; she had to make sure that she spent at least half an hour with Blair before any race she undertook. It was something that had started ever since she had arrived at Eastland. Before the first ever race she had gone to in Peekskill, granted it had been a completely legal dirt bike race but it was still a race, she had been forced to spend time with Blair cleaning up the kitchen as part of their enforced responsibilities after the Chug a Lug escapade. She had left half an hour later and creamed her opponents returning with a small engraved medal which had taken pride of place next to her bed ever since. Blair, despite how infuriating she could be, had been Jo's lucky charm ever since even if Jo had never actually told her that she was.
Jo glanced at the clock. Buzz would be here any minute. They had to get to the bridge before Brock, that way she could be sure he wasn't about to pull a fast one. She was about to open the window when something made her stop. She glanced over to Blair who was snuggled into her pillow, romance novel now lying across her chest. She looked adorable. This was Jo's chance to split before anyone noticed, she wasn't sure what possessed her but instead of opening the window she walked towards her roommate and stood by the bed for a second before placing a gentle kiss on the blonde's forehead. To her credit if Blair, who stirred at the soft kiss, was surprised by the unusual display of affection she didn't show it. Instead she looked sleepily up into green eyes expectantly as if Jo were about to reveal the secrets of the universe. Instead Jo smiled, an odd smile, like one Blair had never seen before and headed back to the window pulling it open and leaning out. A loud owl like whistle below signalled that it was time, Buzz was waiting at the foot of the large oak tree which stood outside their window. Jo whistled back in acknowledgement before climbing out.
'I'll be back in a coupla hours Blair. Cover for me?'
'Be careful Jo…'
'Always…see ya later Princess…'
Blair watched her in a dazed state as she hopped out of the window, helmet in hand, and expertly onto the tree as she had so many times before. Buzz was waiting underneath the tree, looking impatient; he was breaking a curfew of his own to do this. Still Jo had been one of his best pals since their days in the Bronx; he would always have her back just like she had always had his. She jumped from the tree and they made their way stealthily to the garage, she opened it as quietly as possible wheeling her beloved Kawasaki into the street next to Buzz' Chopper. The two mounted their respective bikes carefully before speeding off towards the bridge.
Lady luck is on their side and they manage to arrive at the bridge before Brock. Jo liked to make sure that she was early for a race. Granted it had been a long time since she'd been involved in street racing of any description, not since before she'd arrived at Eastland. In fact her very last street race had been the night before her arrival. It had been a triumph and she had never intended for it to be her last. Truthfully she had figured she'd be expelled before the end of her first week. She had even bragged that she'd be sent home after her first day. She would have been too if it hadn't been for Mrs G, she hadn't counted on the woman who was now a second mother to her sticking her neck out for them all. With Mrs G having done all of that Jo had known that her street racing days were over. Even with that though she wasn't worried about losing this one, she'd done enough legal racing over her years at Eastland and the short time she'd been at Langley respectively to know she was one of the best. She hadn't seen Brock Worthington on the circuit but that was the whole point – he could probably hold his own but there was no way he'd be used to the aggressive style needed in such a situation. Besides with Buzz as her second there was nothing to worry about – he'd make sure BW the zillionth played by the rules. She doubted the rules would be too heavy anyway; they just had a little wager to settle.
'Worthington's late.' Buzz announced as he checked his watch for the tenth time
'He'll be here. He's just tryin to psyche me out…'
Buzz held his hands in the air in mock surrender, he knew better than to push his pal when she was getting ready for a race. Instead he contented himself with lighting a cigarette and leaning against his own bike. He didn't even bother offering one to Jo, at one time he would have without hesitation but since she'd gone to Eastland she'd stopped smoking almost immediately and he respected that. It was probably for the best anyway since those health campaigners were always going on about it.
'I don't think he's gonna show up…'
'Buzz, will ya relax. Of course he's gonna show.'
She was proven right when two Harleys pulled up next to them. Brock, clad in the latest in designer safety gear was flanked by his friend and apparent second Ray Kingston III. Killing their engines and settling they removed their helmets waiting for Jo and Buzz to make their move.
'Had some things I needed to take care of. What's the hurry?'
'I ain't got all night. Besides when the movie ends there'll be cops all over the damn place.'
The drive in movie theatre was a few streets along holding a movie marathon which was expected to last well into the early hours. On a Saturday night, even in a town like Peekskill, the late show brought patrol cops out of the woodwork. It was where all the teens and young adults hung out – as far as the cops were concerned that marked it out as a possible trouble making spot. Especially where underage drinking was concerned, everyone knew that people sneaked beer in there; it was practically a rite of passage.
'Fair enough. What's our route?'
Buzz flicked his cigarette away and pulled a rolled up street map out of his inside pocket holding it into the streetlight for Ray and Brock to see. The route was simple, it wouldn't take long for them to complete the circuit and end up back at the bridge. Brock looked to Ray who nodded his agreement with Buzz' choice of route. As was their custom Buzz and Jo took a last inventory of her bike before Jo turned to Brock and shook his hand, she may hate the guy but her sportsmanship wouldn't allow her to race without acknowledging him. Buzz made sure her helmet was secure before giving her the thumbs up. They were a well-oiled machine despite the years it had been since either of them had raced. The familiar routine came flooding back. Jo found it comforting, Ray and Brock watched in awe before realising that they'd best get their own act together.
'Remember, if the cops show all bets are off.' Buzz warned them 'You get your asses' outta here and don't look back…'
With that Buzz took off his jacket to use as a makeshift starting flag. It was cold out and it looked like it might rain but that didn't matter. Jo would win this thing and they'd be home and dry before the weather changed he was sure of that. He looked to Ray, waiting for an acknowledgement that Brock was ready to go. Ray gave a slight, almost imperceptible nod of his head and it was on, with a wave of his jacket Jo and Brock surged forward in unison, a blaze of motor oil, screeching tyres and burning rubber…
Jo was in her element as they reached the far side of the bridge, the adrenaline pumping through her body making her feel intensely alive as she moved as one with her bike. She knew she had this in the bag, Brock moved awkwardly compared to her. His bike may be newer, it may be more expensive but she was the better rider. In street races that's what counted. She'd come up against better than him in the past and she'd never lost. Well only once but that had been against Jesse and it didn't count. It had been her first race. Unlike back in the Bronx the roads were surprisingly quiet. They had deliberately chosen the winding country roads that surrounded Langley rather than the more suburban areas of Peekskill figuring they would avoid the majority of the traffic and therefore have a better chance at an uninterrupted race. There would be less chance of cops too. Brock was starting to surge forward just a little but Jo wasn't concerned, she'd predicted as much and knew she would easily over take him on the next turn.
In order to get to the next turn they had to go past the rear of the Langley student union. It wouldn't be so quiet and they would probably attract some attention. That wasn't a concern for Jo either; she was used to racing in front of crowds. It was cold out so she doubted there would be many in the rear parking lot anyway, a few smokers and some students getting busy in the backseat were the most likely candidates, no one that was likely to call up the Dean and make any kind of complaint about the noise. As they neared the corner, just before the union Jo sped up, making light work of overtaking Brock who had started to slow up seeing the union coming into focus. It had been the window of opportunity that Jo had waited for and she powered ahead of him, putting a good few lengths between them. The few students in the car park could just be heard over the roar of the engines as they cheered.
All Jo had to do was pass the lake, feel her way through the winding road and then take another turn towards the bridge. If she could keep her lead which was now pretty solid then she'd win easily just as she had thought she would. Brock was gaining ground all the time though, now that they were passing trees and not buildings his confidence seemed to be growing. For the first time in the whole race Jo was starting to think that he had a shot. Perhaps she had misjudged him; he seemed to know how to handle himself anyway. She was determined however that she wasn't going to let him win, the wind whistled past and the rain was suddenly starting to pour but there was no way she was going to lose now, they were almost at the bridge, almost to the end. She was ahead and she knew she could win; all she had to do was focus. She could feel Brock coming up behind her, hear the roar of his engine and even sense his determination. She just had to time this right, once they were on the straight road of the bridge she could accelerate that final bit, she had been holding back while they were on the winding roads of the countryside but now that was about to change.
Finally hitting the straightest part of the road and getting level with the bridge both she and Brock let loose with everything they had, he was almost level with her but she kept the nose of her bike just that little bit ahead. She was almost home free; she could see Buzz in the distance. There was no way she was going to lose tonight and they both knew it. The rain was hitting against her helmet now, the road was becoming more slippery with each movement of their tyres, yet both of them were determined. Jo could feel the rain running down the collar of her leather jacket, her jeans were soaked already and her gloves were losing their grip slightly. Brock wouldn't be as badly affected by the weather she knew – he had much better designed clothing for it but it was only going to be a matter of moments and it would be over. She could see Buzz, he and Ray were both on their feet now whooping and hollering as they approached the last few feet. At the last minute she catches sight of it as Brock's bike slips slightly almost knocking Jo to the ground. She doesn't even have time to wonder why he was so close to her. Managing to regain control and her lead just about the danger is suddenly very real, there's nothing she can do as Brock uses his weight to push into the side of her Kawasaki sending her into a spin which knocks her into a terrifying skid, ending with a deafening impact with the bridge railing. Buzz is immediately by her side, removing her helmet and checking her over for any sign of injury. It's over.
'Jo! Pal? Speak to me…'
'There ain't nothing… wrong wit me Buzz… just lemme up eh?'
Buzz shakes his head in response, not trusting his voice to work as he can see her biting back tears of pain. Jo realises she's lucky, somehow knows there's nothing broken but her skin feels on fire beneath her clothes, her head aches more than it ever has and she can taste blood in her mouth, she must have bitten her lip or something. It's hard to motivate herself to stand, she knows how much pain that will cause so instead she remains on the ground.
'Pal…you're bleedin, I gotta get ya to hospital…'
'Did I win?' her words are uncertain, as if perhaps her recollection of moments before is no longer accurate.
When Buzz remains silent it occurs to her that Brock pulled that stunt on purpose, but for now she's in too much agony to confront him about it. She turns her head enough to see Brock and Ray standing close by, uncertainty in their posture. Brock has his helmet off now his expression is nothing short of fear, she feels some satisfaction as he smoothes his hand through his dark hair and she sees his hand shaking. Her original suspicion that he hit her purposely begins to subside slightly, for now at any rate. It's so hard to concentrate on anything right now. Come the morning she knows she'll be rethinking her assessment of the situation. She reaches up her hand to Buzz who reluctantly helps her up and manages to make it look much less arduous for her than it in fact is. She winces at the effort, dizziness hits as does a wave of impossible nausea, and there's no hiding the fresh blood mixed with rain that has seeped through her now ripped blue jeans. The rain is so heavy that it's wiping the blood from her lip which has already started to swell. There'll be no hiding her injuries when she gets home. If Buzz weren't holding her up right now she knows that Worthington would not be standing never mind speaking to her.
'Will you be alright Jo?' his baritone voice is full of false concern
'Yeah…I'll be fine.' It occurs to her she should ask if he's alright too, since they're playing charades, but she can't bring herself to.
'I'm sorry…I…' again the false tone rings through.
'Don't sweat it Worthington, I've had worse…' this said through clenched teeth but almost convincing.
Her tone forces him to cut back on the false words of regret and sympathy. With a final look of concern Brock reluctantly picks up his bike leaving with Ray who has remained in stunned silence the entire time. With them gone Jo allows herself to lean more heavily on Buzz, he lowers her to the concrete kerb, concern etched deeply in his handsome face.
'We should get ya ta the hospital kid…'
'I ain't goin ta the hospital…Just gotta get home before Mrs G…misses me…'
'You ain't gonna be OK to ride'
Jo gives her friend a look which says exactly what she thinks of that 'unhelpful' statement before snatching her helmet from the ground and upon the third attempt picking up her bike. On wobbly legs she inspects it for damage carefully, it's going to take some work to get it back in shape but it's still good to go. The paint work is scratched to hell and she knows that she'll need to replace the front wheel but it's drivable, everything else can wait.