Title: Eyes Grow Feet
Author: CGB (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Category: f/f slash
Rating: NC - 17
Disclaimer: Do de do de doo, de do de doooo
Acknowledgements: My thanks to the delightful Lil, and the delicious Liz. And much respect to Laura Ellen who owns the genre and planted the seeds.
"I like to pretend..." - The Hummingbirds Eyes Grow Feet
Her fingers are cold on a glass filled with orange liquid. Her hands are cold but her cheeks are warm. Glowing perhaps. She lifts her fingers to her cheek and smoothes them down her face. Condensation has formed on the glass and her fingers leave a wet trail from her cheekbone to her neck.
There is nothing she can do when she feels like this. Her head is swimming and her limbs are buzzing with a heat radiating from a point in her throat that the alcohol has burned.
She straightens her neck and focuses her attention on CJ who is sitting on the other side of the table, laughing and leaning a careless arm on the back of Josh's chair.
CJ catches her eye and she wonders how long she has been staring. She looks away quickly.
What if they can tell, she thinks, what if they can see right through her? What if it's written all over her face?
She's obsessed with the Press Secretary. She's drunk and she's barely able to move and her thoughts keep returning to CJ Cregg who is tall and gracious and always able. So much more able than Ainsley Hayes who has one foot in the White House, one foot in the upper echelons of the Republican Party, and, on occasion, one foot in her mouth.
It's normal - she read that somewhere - quite normal to fantasise about other women and be a normal, heterosexual, god fearing, Republican, only she's pretty sure the "Republican" part is her own addition. Perhaps it is normal, but it's driving her crazy.
How did this happen? Was it CJ's hand grasping hers in her new office as Sam and Josh sang "He is an Englishman?" Was it those long fingers pressed against hers that sent a message to her brain along with a shiver up her spine?
And now the thought is wild, well and truly out of control. She finds herself fantasising about CJ when the night gets too long and the air conditioning in her office is too hot to concentrate. CJ's image sits on her desk and pushes her hair off her face.
"It's so hot," she says and she opens her blouse until her bra is exposed and she fans herself (she's seen this in a movie somewhere). CJ opens the buttons on her blouse and raises her skirt to her hips to remove her stockings revealing long legs and just a hint of the inside of her thigh.
"Much better," she says.
And then, perhaps knowing Ainsley is enjoying the show, she performs something of a strip tease, a languid drawing out of the removal of her skirt and turning her back before removing her bra.
When she was fourteen she had a crush on her high school social studies teacher, Miss Little. She was fourteen, already entering a world of make up, fashion and boys, boys, boys. She has friends who already have boyfriends, who meet after school behind the bus shelter.
And there is Anna whose boyfriend brings a friend who sits next to Ainsley behind the bus shelter. Later he pins her to the ground and tries to put his hand inside her school uniform. She feels his hot breath on her neck and he smells musty - like her brother's room on a Sunday morning.
It isn't pretty. Not like the young couples in the movies with neatly set hair and flawless skin. Not like the pictures in Cosmopolitan or Seventeen of partners with jumpers knotted around their necks, leaning into each other in soft focus.
Not like it is in her imagination, only it is never her in her imagination. It is, rather, Miss little, who is tall, redheaded and bespectacled. It is Miss Little who is undressed by faceless men. It is Miss Little who lies back naked while hands roam her body, pausing over her breast and abdomen.
Years later, the girls' dorm at her college passes around a dog-eared copy of Nancy Friday.
Her roommate peruses it. "Do you fantasise about other women?" she asks.
"No," Ainsley says. "Why?"
"I do." An awkward silence descends. Ainsley is lying on her bed with one knee raised. She focuses on her long legs and remembers Miss Little with long legs and a tight, pencil skirt.
"Really?" she says.
"Yeah. I used to fantasise about my teachers and sometimes friends of my sister's. Always older women."
Ainsley swallows. She feels like she is transparent, exposed for the liar she is.
"But I'm not a lesbian," her roommate says, and then she screws up her nose. "At least, I don't think I am."
They are young Republicans and Ainsley's father is a former Governor. There are no gay people in their world. At least, not that they're aware of.
"I'm drunk," she says to no one in particular.
"We know." Sam says. Sam invited her. He feels sorry for her, she's sure of it. She feels sorry for herself sometimes. All alone in the basement - the White House pariah.
"Me too," says Josh, and he leans his head on the table.
"What is this?" Ainsley holds up her drink.
"A Mai Tai," says CJ. "I'd pass if I were you."
Something about CJ's voice makes her drink it in defiance. Better to be sick than to be thought of as an alcoholic lightweight.
Later she thinks that such sentiment is best left to the abstract. She is in the bathroom holding her hair behind her neck and dry retching into the bowl. She reaches for the toilet paper and pats the sweat on her forehead.
"Oh god... " she says out loud.
"Something you ate?"
She turns her head to see CJ standing behind her with a glass of water. She takes it.
"I warned you."
Ainsley stands, brushing her hair back from her face with her free hand.
"I really...I really can't hold my liquor."
CJ steps out of the cubicle and into the light of the too bright bathroom. She leans a hand on the bench by the mirror, and fingers a stray hair for a moment.
"Ainsley, why do you think you have to prove you can?"
"I mean, you run around with this chip on your shoulder so large, I'm surprised you can get through doorways. You think we'll somehow hold you in low esteem if you can't match us drink for drink?"
"You think I'm a prude."
"Well, yes, but that doesn't mean we don't like you."
Ainsley looks at herself in the mirror. Next to CJ she is a small and frail girl. She lacks the presence awarded an older and taller woman.
"I wish I were tall."
"Oh!" CJ rolls her eyes. "No you don't. You wouldn't believe the trouble I've had finding pants that fit - and shoes! And I can't even begin to tell you about the number of men who are intimidated by tall women."
Ainsley looks at the ground.
"I think I'm going to be sick again..."
CJ takes her arm and steers her toward the exit.
"Come on, let's get you some fresh air."
Outside Ainsley leans against the rough brick and forms mist with her breath. CJ leans next to her, their arms brushing from time to time. Ainsley closes her eyes and thinks the night is beautiful. Freezing, but beautiful.
CJ tells her about playing drinking games in the dorms at Berkeley where she first learnt to drink like a stalwart. Her voice is a warm blanket, shielding them from the wind and the cold. Ainsley listens while making futile attempts to banish thoughts of CJ playing strip poker and teasingly removing her bra. She really has to stop.
She shakes herself.
"Are you cold?" CJ says.
"No," she says quickly. Too quickly. CJ raises an eyebrow.
CJ positions herself in front of her and begins vigorously rubbing her arms. Ainsley laughs nervously.
"What are you doing?"
CJ stops and leans her head to one side. "My mother used to rub my arms when I was cold."
She feels the wind against her still burning cheeks. It clears her head and stops the world from spinning. She closes her eyes and thinks she could fall asleep right here, against this wall, and the night would be perfectly ended.
And then she thinks about running. Running down the street and throwing her arms out to the world and screaming. She wants to burst.
She's drunk. Drunk and full of bravado and her heart is pounding so hard in her chest she's sure CJ can hear it too.
She opens her eyes. CJ is staring at her as if she is a puzzle.
"You know, you really are pretty," CJ says.
"So are you." Her voice is a whisper.
The night hangs on the edge of a precipice, dangling precariously over the edge. And then it teeters and falls as CJ leans in to kiss her. All sense flies from her head as she kisses her back, madly.
CJ uses her hold on Ainsley's arms to push her into the wall, their bodies pressed against each other. Her hands slide under CJ's jacket and tugs at her blouse, which is tucked into her pants.
CJ's skin is a revelation, soft and smooth with perhaps the finest hint of hair. She can't stop touching it, running her fingers across a rib, the dip in her back, the slight rise of her belly. CJ breathes hard and kisses Ainsley's neck just below the ear.
CJ's breasts are covered by satiny material. Ainsley's hand slides into the cup and she brushes her fingers back and forth across the nipple.
And then CJ's hand drops to Ainsley's thigh to lift her skirt. There's a moment where their eyes meet.
Her voice is pleading in her head; No words, not now. Not now as CJ's hands are inside her panties, inside her, rubbing against her clitoris and bringing her to the edge of orgasm. Not now as CJ is moaning into her hair as her fingers pinch her nipples. Not now as CJ's fingers move inside her, pushing her open as she comes.
And then they are still.
CJ says something that she doesn't hear. It doesn't seem to matter. They straighten their clothing without meeting each other's eyes. Her thoughts turn to their colleagues inside; should they cross check excuses? Should they enter separately? Her head spins and she realises she's probably still quite drunk. She should go home. She feels an overwhelming need to be far away.
"I'm um... I've got to..." CJ leans her head to the side indicating the door.
"Yeah." She nods. She bites her lips and turns her head to look down the alleyway. There are bins. They made out next to bins.
She follows CJ back inside.
Ainsley turns the fan on. They fixed the air conditioning in her office weeks ago but today she's hot. She puts a hand to her forehead. Perhaps she has a temperature?
Last night's sleep was fraught with dreams about walking through deserts, and wandering through empty houses looking for water. When she woke up her mouth was dry and her throat hurt. She dispensed two soluble aspirins into water before breakfast, and then added a third as an afterthought.
Her head swims all morning. In her mind she replays scenes from the night before and she can't tell whether she shivers from arousal or embarrassment.
When she stands she feels dizzy. Earlier today she resolved not to leave office and now she thinks she might not be able to leave her desk.
But it's all irrelevant when CJ Cregg appears in her doorway.
"Can I come in?" She says.
"No!" Ainsley jumps in her chair. She shakes her head. "I mean yes... of course, you can come in."
CJ enters. She shifts her weight nervously from foot to foot and looks at the floor. Ainsley thinks she's never seem her like this and the knowledge that it could be her who unsettles CJ Cregg is somehow delighting.
"So...they fixed the air conditioning?"
"How long did it take?"
Ainsley shrugs. "Six months?"
"I wanted to apologise for last night. I was..."
"Yes, but um... not as drunk as you."
"You know, Ainsley, I didn't know you were..."
Ainsley's eyes go round.
CJ looks taken aback. "So this was the first time?"
CJ nods. "Me too."
"Ummm.. with a Republican that is."
Ainsley lets her breath out.
"CJ, I think it's best, and I know you'll agree, that we forget this happened and focus our attention on our work. I wouldn't want this to affect our working relationship: I know you're under substantial pressure right now..."
CJ holds up a hand. "Ainsley..."
Ainsley stops. CJ's hand lifts to her head and she rubs her forehead. "You talk to much."
CJ shakes herself and then sighs. "These things, Ainsley, they happen. I wish they wouldn't, but if wishing could make it so... Well, suffice to say, I'm not about to spend too much time thinking about whether it was the wrong thing to do, so would it be OK with you if we just..." She pauses and looks away, briefly. There's a look in her eyes that Ainsley can't read. "If we just shook hands and moved on."
"You want to shake hands?"
"Yeah." CJ holds out her hand. Ainsley leans across the desk and grasps it. Later when she thinks of the exchange she remembers this, and that they had sweaty palms.
"Thank you." CJ turns to leave and then turns back again. "Ainsley?"
She jumps. "Yes?"
"It was...nice." She nods and looks at the floor, thoughtfully. "Well... I'll see you at the thing."
She leaves and Ainsley contemplates the empty office in her wake. After a while she shifts in her seat and thinks about going for lunch, only this is one time when she doesn't feel hungry.
She slips her coat over her shoulders and picks up her bag.
Against the backdrop of events that are monumental, such small occurrences are inconsequential and perhaps forgettable. And who knows what will remain in two weeks let alone two months - two years?
She tells herself that as she walks through the West Wing, as she walks past CJ's office and Sam's and Toby's, as she walks through the foyer of the White House and out the security gates.
She tells herself that this is fantasy, never meant to be real, and if fantasy invades reality then normality must and will be restored soon enough.
The woman in the apartment next to hers fumbles with her keys before they fall to the floor. She bends over to pick them up and Ainsley's eyes are drawn to pale pink underwear peaking out from beneath bone coloured satin. The woman straightens and smiles at Ainsley before sliding the key in the lock and disappearing into her apartment.
She has long dark hair and Ainsley remembers the birthmark just above her collarbone for days later.
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