For how_i_lie, with grovelling apologies for the delay (and the fact that it's got the depth of a paddling pool). I am possibly the slowest writer on the planet and, yes, therefore rather foolish for volunteering to write back-up. I hope you enjoy it.
Also, thank you to michellek for organising this thing. It's been a lot of fun for me.
TITLE: Getting Women To Like You
PAIRING: Donna/CJ, with peripheral, predatory Abbey
Falling in love with CJ wasn't as big a risk as you normally took in pursuit of happiness. You'd wanted her approval long before you wanted to kiss her neck while she slept.
She'd always been able to hurt you because you'd always wanted to be her friend and you weren't, really. You were around, and she liked you, but you didn't even know her favourite colour. That seemed like an obstacle, at the time.
It wasn't a big leap from wanting to help her pick out dresses to wanting to tear them off her.
Besides, falling in love with CJ was a rite of passage. Everyone had tried it.
You might never get over it.
You spent a lot of time watching her, trying to know her. You'd never been good at getting women to like you.
You observed the differences between her demeanour with Toby, whom she loved, and Will, whom she little more than tolerated since he'd changed.
She wasn't much different from the others in her sober hero-worship of the President.
Her feelings for the First Lady were beyond you, except that in a certain light they looked like your feelings for her. (You wondered if CJ liked how Abbey looked in a red dress too.) CJ was no more sure of Abbey's friendship than you were of hers. She yearned for it just as dearly.
You weren't sure if that was as far as it went.
One day Abbey slammed the door of CJ's office and smiled beatifically at you as she passed. CJ wrenched it back open and stood all her inches high in the doorway, breathing steam. She swabbed at her eye before you could acknowledge the tear.
Dragging her eyes from Abbey's back, she asked you in. You talked about Josh, and the budget, and she was smiling by the time you left.
You thought it strange when CJ hid her bags after Abbey had taken her shopping.
One day, Abbey would be too old to wear a dress like that. One day, you might have the nerve to wear one. You thought you'd rather watch.
She stamped around, greeting everyone, giving them all a good look. Then she entertained in groups that gradually increased as admirers or sycophants pushed towards her. She didn't let them too close.
Later she peeled off a chosen few, one or two at a time, for an audience somewhere darker.
CJ emerged with Abbey from the area of the bullpen. She was fiddling uncomfortably with a clasp on her bodice and staring at her feet. Her shoes were higher than she normally chose and more pointed at the ends, like Abbey's glances and rough corners. They curved up at the sides like Abbey's hips and around her heels, bulged like Abbey's breasts.
They were held in place with delicate straps from which strength and grace seemed to be drawn up her frame. She hunched over as if to deny herself the advantage.
Abbey touched her back before moving on. You certainly weren't expecting her to move on to you.
Backed into a quiet corner by her hands on your waist, you still didn't expect her lips to sweep through the quivering darkness and touch firmly to your face.
She kissed your forehead first, then your cheek, the side of your mouth. She kissed your lips harder.
You kissed back.
"Slower," she breathed against you. You moved your mouth against hers, sucked softly at her lower lip. You waited for her to slide you her tongue, then teased it gently.
It would be rude to pull away, and you didn't really want to.
It was your longest kiss in quite a while.
She stood back. You straightened your dress, though it hadn't been disturbed.
"Just a whim," she said.
You wished her a good night.
Abbey's power rippled through you. It must have passed while she was kissing you.
You followed CJ to her office. You loved to see her surprised - your moment of narcissism when her wide eyes reminded you of yourself.
It wasn't until later that you realised she must have seen the smudge of a darker shade, richer than anything either of you would wear, spoiling your make-up.
You helped her with her clasp. Her softened eyes, crinkling at the edges and glowing in the centre, nudged you on. Undoing the zipper with your teeth gave your lower lip the chance to graze the full length of her back, right down to where it flared out to meet her ass. You couldn't resist a tiny flicker across her skin with your tongue when you let the zipper go.
You were on your knees by then. They rested on the fallen remains of her burgundy dress, a crumpling puddle of decadence around her ankles.
You wondered if you were crazy. She shifted her legs, winding up stamping the silk beneath her heels. The material tugged under your knees.
"Go ahead," her murmur reverberating between taut strings of tension stretching from her to you.
You needed your fingers for the bra.
A lot of women didn't like you because they thought you liked men too much.
They wouldn't like you much better if they could see you standing in the changing room, CJ fluffing at the half dozen bras she'd picked up, maximising your cleavage. She loved this game, tangled in the novelty of ribbons that pushed you together and held you up.
She had a pair of panties balled in her hand. "These are the same size as the ones you're wearing?" Testing for accessibility, she slid her fingers underneath.
You hadn't had anyone to play dress-up with when you were little. Nor had she.
It had taken you too long to realise that the clothes had more to do with sex than friendship.
One night she waited for you in her apartment in a green dress that looked black unless the light hit it just right, but even you didn't care about the colour when she took a step, revealing a side glimpse of more leg than you knew how to wrap around you.
She was standing upright on her heels this time.
The dress was lower than anything you'd seen her in before, and more brazen. Her body strained to escape it, a visual invitation for you to assist.
When she admitted that Abbey had talked her into the dress, a flush spread down her neck, pebbling the skin pink down to the new swell of her breasts. Abbey had picked the bra too. "Pneumatic," CJ quoted with a curl of her lip.
She'd deemed it unsuitable to wear outside home. You said it was beautiful, and a shame to waste.
To show how much room the splits gave her to manoeuvre, she spread her legs. You fucked her like that, chest heaving under the mechanics. The dress wasn't wasted on either of you.
But when it was over, you pointed out that you'd been talking about her.
She said that was why she was with you. You didn't know how to take it. You didn't ask.
When she unceremoniously discarded your blouse and skirt, you didn't care.
It was precedent, baby.
After that, you nagged until she stood in front of you and pulled over her head a floral dress you'd bought. It fell down her body, flattering the lines, but not as much as Abbey's. You had parts of her you wanted to keep to yourself.
She looked down at herself and then at you looking at her. You didn't realise how widely you were smiling until she mirrored you, and then you thought your lips might split.
You were crushed when the first dress she ever bought you tore, when you'd wanted to treasure it. Under her greedy fingers, you were consoled.
It escalated. Rolling around the bedroom, you made her wear a trashy black skirt that scarcely covered her pubic hair, and didn't when she sat down. Or lay back. She dressed you up in something her niece had left and painted your face into a porn star.
CJ bought you clothes you couldn't afford, which made you feel a little dirty, which made you feel a little hot.
This time she rejected all the bras, after having run her hands over your shape in each and making you twirl.
She'd rather nothing obscured the you that nature intended, she whispered. You felt strange.
You took her home.
CJ's underwear was pale, and no loss when she rested on her hip and slid them past her curves. Her fingers, hooked under the strip of cotton, brushed over her backside before she wriggled around and pushed them down her legs. She bent her knee to disentangle one leg and, with a casual flick of the ankle, freed the other. It took forever.
She looked at you, all the time. It thrilled you, much more even than her skin.
She raised her hips in invitation and you nearly fell over your feet. There was a rush of blood to the head when you lowered your lips to her body, fuzzing your brain until only your mouth could keep track of the kisses you'd planned to slot one by one in their own secure stores in your memory. Your chest heaved with the magnitude of being like this with her, like that, and a whine escaped her parted lips when you looked up.
She raised her knee between your legs. You tried to concentrate, but you'd have taken a punch in the gut rather than push her away.
"What's your favourite colour?" You thought you needed to know.
She frowned. It was much better when she smiled; her whole face curved up, her teeth peeked out, and you knew she was pleased. She reached up to stroke your breasts.
"Donna, not now."
Her irritation made you tremble with doubt, but the question in your nerves was lit.
"Yes. Yes, you are."
She propped herself up on her elbow and her knees started to creep back together. Her own insecurities crept in whenever she stopped moving.
You still had her attention.
"I know nothing personal about you. We're barely even friends."
"And you'll feel better if… It's not something I've put a lot of thought into!"
"I like red," you said.
She relaxed; nudged you with her knee. "And you look sensational in it." She glanced to your dress and matching underwear, meshed together in crazy patterns on her neutral carpet.
"That's my favourite colour," CJ decided. You thought she might be trying to please you and, behind your ribs, your heart moved. "Something that looks good for the cameras. Anything I feel great in."
You buried your face in her neck and were conscious of your hair dragging across her nipples. They were hard.
She turned her face to you and whispered, "Donna. In the first week of high school I got in a fight with someone who made fun of my dad. I kicked her ass and promptly found myself on the wrong side of the meanest group of girls in the school. The next few years were hell and half the reason I was strong academically is because I thought if I got a ticket out of there, nothing would ever be wrong with my world."
Her laugh was dry amidst the humidity of the room. Her breath brushed your face and deepened its flush, pinpricks of need tingling to the surface of your skin.
"What else… two boyfriends in a row left me and that was all it took to convince me it was easier to dance around people than to actually get involved. And yet, and yet you're here."
She sighed long and low, with a chuckle at the end. "There, now you know some things. Can I go down on you now?"
You wiped tears against the hollow above her collarbone. The dream of friendship had always looked implausible, and now you knew you were in love.
The two of you took a walk in the park, branches overhead reaching out to each other in imitation of your embraces. Leaves winked at each other in the wind.
Nobody would have thought anything of it.
Your ponytail bounced at your shoulder blades. Hers was falling down, not enough hair and too few clips. She looked amazing in blue jeans, and though yours were older, more faded and failing to hang quite right over your hips, her eyes all over you and the shiny glimpse of teeth let you know you looked amazing too.
The eyes of the beholder had rarely been flattering to you – an unhappy fit between the girl who was always ready to please and the pattern of what was looked for. You seldom matched.
Most of your partners had been excuses to drown your doubts in the quest to love them. CJ was the first to make your skin prickle and your face light in awareness of yourself.
You liked the way CJ beheld you.
You found a bench and curled your legs under you. She leaned back and let hers swing, making sneaker-scuffs in the gravel. You were weightless, a sense of life swirling inside you and stretching to the ends of your fingers and toes, where it lifted and made them wave. You knew better than to touch her, but perhaps you shaped her body in the air.
She laughed at you in the giddy way she had when the pleasure took her by surprise. Her chin disappeared; her mouth became huge. You squeezed her shoulders to steady them when they erupted.
She gasped once or twice before you could make out, "I love the way you make me feel." She pushed hair out of her face so you could feel the gratitude radiate.
From anyone else you'd have taken it as a brush-off, an avoidance of compressing the eight words into three.
You'd always wanted to please her and she was more or less calling you her favourite colour.
As with every new piece of herself she showed you, you found yourself wanting more. But you didn't resist the thrill that flooded you when she looked at you like that.
Her cell rang. You reached for yours. Josh might call.
You didn't relax when she turned away and muttered the First Lady's name into the phone.
Something sounded great but another day would be better. A sigh. An apology.
CJ reached behind her to pat your arm apologetically. She hit your knee instead. You pushed it off – just in case someone was watching.
Another sigh, harsher, and juddering in her throat where she'd hidden it.
Next she tensed and the sound in her throat jumped to the point where it sounded almost like a choked laugh.
She finished with a, "Yes, ma'am."
Her knees nudged yours when she turned back to face you. "She wants to know if you'll join us for tea."
Amy would be jealous, at least.
You never found out whether CJ and Abbey were other than friends.
You never figured out how to get women to like you.
CJ paid attention to your fashion advice and told you half her secrets.
It was enough.
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