AUTHOR: Suki
TITLE: Dancing (sequel to Worlds Collide)
PAIRING: Ellie/OFC, Ellie/CJ(but not really), CJ/OFC
RATING: PG-13 for mature themes and colorful language
FEEDBACK: Love feedback (who doesn't). Constructive feedback as well as what you may have liked is appreciated at suki@ashesofoldlovers.net
SPOILERS: One teeny, tiny one from season two which you may not even see it is so veiled. Other than that, none I can think of. Of course, let's say end of Season Two to be safe.
DISCLAIMERS: For what it's worth....The West Wing and it's characters are the property of Aaron B. Sorkin, Warner Brothers, NBC et al. No copyright infringement for profit is intended. If you recognize them from TV, they are not mine. Everyone else, especially Kira, Sarah, and Britt are figments of my imagination and I am very possessive about them. Please do not use them without asking permission first.
ARCHIVE: I'd be honored, just please ask first and keep my name attached. And, as always, this and my other pieces will be archived at http://www.ashesofoldlovers.net
SERIES: Series as yet untitled. This installment follows Worlds Collide
TEASER: Every morning she stares at this same coffee maker, glowering at the frustratingly slow trickle of coffee, but today she can almost feel her cheeks beginning to ache from the smile she has worn since the night before, maybe even in her sleep.

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Dancing by Suki

She runs the tip of her finger across her bottom lip as she waits for the coffee to brew, trying to remember what that first touch of lips to lips felt like exactly. The memory is overshadowed by the feel of arms around her waist and then the vibration of her moan of response over someone else's tongue. For a moment she is almost siting on that wicker couch again with her knees touching CJ's, lined up like entwined fingers, instead of standing in her kitchen in a ratty Navy sweatshirt and mismatched socks, her hair in a haphazard bun on top of her head. Every morning she stares at this same coffee maker, glowering at the frustratingly slow trickle of coffee, but today she can almost feel her cheeks beginning to ache from the smile she has worn since the night before, maybe even in her sleep. She chuckles to herself, wondering if her facial muscles had atrophied from lack of use these past few years and now are feeling the shock of exertion.

She dances the three steps to the refrigerator, swaying and leaning dramatically to grab the plastic container, pivoting to lean over and pour the desired amount of milk into her coffee, and then swinging back around to put it away. Sitting down at the kitchen table, feet propped up on a chair, three crisp newspapers in front of her just waiting to be devoured, she blows a breath across the top of her mug, watching the coffee ripple, before bringing it to her lips for that first, perfect sip.

"Good morning, sleepyhead," Sarah says walking into the kitchen a few minutes later, kicking off her running shoes as she reaches for her mug and the coffee pot, bringing both to the table before taking a seat across from Ellie. "So, your light was off when I came in last night. Were you actually asleep?"

"No, I heard you come in but I didn't feel like talking," Ellie says with a sheepish grin. "I was sort of surprised to hear you come in at all. You and Leah ok?"

Sarah smiles and nods. "Oh, yeah, but she had an early call and I was dying to know about what happened on the sun porch, so I came home," Sarah says, taking a sip of her coffee. "So?" She asks with a smile.

Ellie grins and her cheeks flush as she takes another long sip of her coffee.

"Ellie, this is so uncool. You were alone for a significant amount of time with a woman you have had a mad crush on for three years and came out looking decidedly more sure of a few things. So, spill it," Sarah says, kicking Ellie's foot on the chair. "When did you realize she was there?"

Ellie holds out her mug and smiles as Sarah tops off the contents of Ellie's mug and reaches behind her to get the milk out of the refrigerator for her. "I saw her come in, but I didn't recognize her until she turned to follow Kira into the kitchen...and that was after I had been siting there staring at her legs and wondering what she would smell like under that soft grey sweater," Ellie says with a self-deprecating smile.

Sarah laughs and chokes on her coffee. "Well, I guess that solves two of our frequently debated questions: yes, she is and no, it's not just a side effect of your news addiction and the fact that she was always nice to you," Sarah says, poking at the unopened papers. "At least you're down to three of these each day. And to think your dad thinks you're the least interested in politics and world events of his daughters."

Ellie smiles, swirling her coffee around the mug. "I thought she would be freaked, and I think on some level she was, but she was really great: understanding, encouraging. She offered the name of a therapist if I want to talk to someone other than her or you," Ellie says looking up uncertainly.

"Ellie, you do not need a therapist. You need to let yourself be touched by someone you actually want to sleep with," Sarah says reaching for the coffee pot again. "Did she suggest a therapist before or after you kissed her, or did she kiss you?"

"Long before I kissed her...and she kissed me back," Ellie laughs and shakes her head, her cheeks pink. "No, it was after I told her I had been trying to be straight for years and was failing miserably, but that I am terrified of what this all means and don't want to be the poster girl for lesbians of America."

"Was she a help?"

"Yes. More than I could have hoped," Ellie says, nodding and sipping her coffee. "My parents know about her, have for a while. And she said they were really great about it, that my Mom even tries to set her up with women. I know it'll be different with their own daughter, but maybe if they could accept CJ with so little fuss they will be able to deal with this eventually."

"Ellie, your mom will be fine. In fact, she will probably be relieved if you finally join the land of the living again. But you know your dad is still going to be confused, right?" Sarah asks gently.

"Oh, yeah, no doubt. He is going to yell, a lot, thinking I am confused or being spiteful or am going through some sort of identity crisis until he makes me shout something way too blunt to make the point. And then he is going to look all disappointed in me and like I have caused him physical pain, and then his Catholic guilt will take over and I'll be lucky if he doesn't drag me off to confession," Ellie says with an attempt at a joke but with sad eyes. "I know he loves me, and I know he'll come around, but there is always going to be this thing between us that I don't think he'll ever get past. I probably haven't helped him by throwing the latest forays into heterosexual experimentation in his face. At least he hated the last one on sight. Maybe women will seem a welcome alternative."

"Ellie, we all want our parents to understand, to be proud of us, everyone does. It's never easy. But your dad loves you and really just wants to know you. You've been pretty closed off to him for a while. So, maybe it's time to let him in," Sarah says with a shrug of her shoulders.

Ellie plays with her mug, looking up and smiling softly. "The kiss was really nice," she says softly.

"And she kissed you back?"

Ellie nods and smiles, looking up under hooded eyes. "Yeah, she kissed me back."

"What precipitated the kiss? I mean, did she start quoting statistics or legislative maneuvers like she does when you lie on the couch and pretend you are not watching CNN just for glimpses of her, and you just threw yourself at her, or what?"

Ellie smiles and rolls her eyes at her friend's teasing before becoming serious again. "She was talking about wanting to be a friend in all this, someone to talk to and that she intended to be my big sister, and all I could think about was how long her fingers looked in my hand, and how smooth her skin was. And I could smell her perfume and I was dying to rub my face against her neck. And then it was time to leave and she just looked so worried about me and, I don't know, tender, and I really wanted to kiss her, but I didn't. She hugged me and I let my face brush against her shoulder and neck and I had to hide my smile before pulling away. Sarah, I wanted to keep holding onto her so much and she seemed so real to me..." Ellie trails off as she bites her bottom lip.

"And?" Sarah prompts, leaning forward.

"Before I walked into the kitchen she told me to stop hiding from myself, that the `Ellie' that I was last night was too interesting to be ignored and she smiled and...I just couldn't leave without kissing her. So I walked back over, told her I was sorry and leaned over and kissed her."

"What did she do?" Sarah asks with a little laugh at her shy roommate's bravery.

"At first, nothing. She just sort of let me kiss her, but then she opened her mouth and pulled me back down to the couch, and then she took over."

"Was it a long kiss?" Sarah asks teasing.

"I have no idea," Ellie laughs. "It could have been ten seconds or an hour. All I know is that when I pulled back because I was afraid I would pass out if I didn't breathe, she sucked on my bottom lip and I felt it in places that I had no idea the nerve endings from my lips went."

"Uummm, sounds excellent," Sarah says with a devilish grin. "Is this going to be a thing between you two?"

Ellie shakes her head and reaches for the coffee again. "No, she made it clear that she is willing to be a friend and a support, but no more kissing, at least for now. Besides, did you see her and Kira in the kitchen? CJ said they were together a long time ago and I may be a complete novice here, but they seemed to be heading there again."

"Yeah, Leah said that she doesn't really know much except that they were together for almost six years, and then off and on until Kira took the position at Johns Hopkins and moved East. But she said Kira still talks about CJ and there definitely seemed to be something there last night," Sarah says.

"I liked Kira a lot," Ellie says with a small smile. "She'd be good for CJ."

"So, are you still confused?" Sarah asks gently.

Ellie looks down at her coffee and shakes her head. "No," she says, her voice small but strong. "No, I am not confused anymore. I know what I want," she says, looking up at Sarah. "And I am not going to pretend that I don't."

Sarah gets up and pulls her friend into a hug and Ellie wraps her arms around her shoulders. "I am so happy for you, El. Does this mean you are coming dancing with us next time?" Sarah asks as she pulls back.

Ellie nods and smiles. "Yes, I am definitely going. And there are a few things I plan to do this afternoon if you're not busy."

"Like what?" Sarah asks putting the coffee pot and the mugs in the sink.

"Like, I have an appointment for a haircut and I think I should let Rita really cut it?" Ellie says with a grin knowing her friend will be thrilled.

"No way, can I come so I can consult?"

"I was counting on it. And I thought maybe after we could go shopping," Ellie says, starting to walk toward the hall.

Sarah tackles her from behind, wrapping her arms around Ellie's waist. "I am so happy you have decided to live a little. Will you try on whatever I bring you today?"

"Don't press your luck, Sarah. I am still me. No leather, and nothing too flashy. But we are definitely going to be dropping some serious cash. I want to feel wanted. The clothes are the first step."

"Oh, Ellie, if one kiss is getting you out dancing and letting Rita cut your hair, you will be in leather in no time."

"Don't count on it, my friend," Ellie says over her shoulder taking the steps two at a time. "Now, go take a shower, we have to leave in forty-five minutes."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"I just can't get over it," Leah says again, taking a sip of the new drink that the bartender has just placed in front of her.

Sarah rolls her eyes and looks apologetically at Ellie. "Hon, she cut her hair and bought some new clothes. It's not like it was plastic surgery. And you've seen her so many times over the last few weeks. This shouldn't be a shock."

Ellie laughs and stirs her drink as the bartender flashes a smile at her. "Sarah, it's fine. I almost didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror tonight. I guess it's finally putting it all togther, the clothes and makeup and all, or maybe it's just the excitement factor."

"So, you must have put a whole lot of effort into looking nondescript before, because..." Leah trails off, waving at Ellie, who is dressed in well-fitting black pants and a pale blue shirt so fine it gives the illusion of being opaque and has a slightly-scooped neckline showing off her neck and shoulders. Her hair, which is several inches shorter now and angled slightly longer at the sides than in the back, falls in waves around her shoulders and looks somehow sleeker and richer than before.

"Not consciously, but, yes, I think I just wanted to disappear a little until I could figure this out and once I came under scrutiny everything just seemed a little harder," Ellie says with a shrug.

"Hey, all, so sorry I'm late," Stacy says, tossing her jacket onto the back of a chair and tugging down her blouse. "So, what did I miss?" She asks, waving for the bartender.

"Leah talking about Ellie's transformation endlessly," Stacy's girlfriend, Jill, says with a smile.

Stacy turns and looks at Ellie and grins. "It is pretty incredible. If I had known you were hiding that body under those bulky sweaters and jeans I would have hit on you when we first met," Stacy says, dodging Jill's playful slap and tugging on a lock of Ellie's hair. "Jeeze, what do you have to do to get a drink around here?" Stacy asks after the bartender walks past her again.

Ellie turns and looks for the bartender and when she catches the blond's eye Ellie smiles and the woman walks right over. "What did you want, Stacy?" Ellie asks, turning to look at her and missing the bartender's appraising look at her chest.

Stacy places her order with a knowing grin and they all burst out laughing as Ellie turns back around in her chair when the bartender walks to the other end of the bar to get Stacy's drink. "What?" Ellie asks with an awkward smile.

"Shit, girl. Nothing except that she was practically feeling you up with her eyes there," Stacy says as she steps over and hugs Ellie around the shoulders.

"Really?" Ellie asks in surprise as she turns to look at the bartender again, who smiles as she makes Stacy's drink, before looking back at her friends grinning from ear to ear.

"Oh, Lord, I think we are in big trouble here," Jill laughs. "Come on, Tiger, let's go dance. If you are going to flirt with the bartenders we are going to have to find something better to call you than `Ellie' or this will leak pretty damn fast," Jill says, taking Ellie's hand and leading her toward the dance floor.

Sarah, Leah, and Stacy join them on the dance floor while the others stay at the bar. When the music slows, Jill smiles at Stacy and then takes Ellie's hand and pulls her close to her. Ellie tenses at the contact and takes a deep breath.

"Relax, Stacy doesn't care," Jill says, slipping her arms around Ellie's shoulders. "You ok with this?" She asks as Ellie hesitates for a moment.

"Yeah...I just..." Ellie can't find the words for how embarrassed she is and feels herself blushing as she looks down at Jill's shoulder, tentatively placing her hands on Jill's hips. She feels Jill push her hair off her face and her breath near her cheek.

"You've never danced with a woman before have you?" Jill asks softly and Ellie shakes her head, feeling her eyes well up in mortification. "Ellie, I know you have been a little nervous about dancing close with someone even though you so clearly wanted to, so I just thought maybe you'd like to dance with someone safe. And given that my girlfriend is right there, I am as safe as they come right now. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Do you want to sit down?" She asks softly.

"No," Ellie says, finally looking up. "I want to dance with you. I just feel like an idiot. I don't want you all to think I am playing at this. I just really have never allowed myself to--"

"Ellie, you do not have to apologize or explain. Is this ok?" Jill asks with a smile as she rests her hand in the center of Ellie's back.

Ellie smiles and nods and lets her hands slide along Jill's waist to meet on the small of her back. "More than ok. Thanks, Jill."

"No problem. I just figure someone else is going to ask you to dance here at some point and you need to be comfortable with that. And if you want some space, I'm sure Stacy'll lend me to you as cover as long as we behave," Jill says with a teasing grin.

"Thanks, I'll keep it in mind," Ellie says as she sways with Jill to the music. As they dance, Jill talks to Ellie about the bar scene, and about their group of friends and makes her laugh with stories about Stacy and Katherine and even Kira. She points out some of the women around them and which are there all the time and which never go home with the same woman twice. She gives a running commentary on at least three relationships beginning and ending around them, pointing out the signs of desire and distress.

When the music picks up again Stacy is right there with them and she leans over to make the same offer Jill did and Ellie laughs, hugging her tightly before she shakes her head `no.' When the music slows again, Leah, Sarah and Ellie walk back over to the bar to cool off and get a drink, noticing that the bar has become rather crowded while they have been out dancing.

"I really need a drink," Sara says, wiping at her face and fanning herself. "Ellie, will you lean in and see if you can get the bartender's attention, please?" Sarah asks with a grin. Leah looks questioningly at her girlfriend before Ellie smiles and presses through the crowd to lean over the bar.

"Hey," the bartender says with a smile as she walks past carrying a couple drinks. "I'll be right back."

Ellie smiles and shivers at the ripple of excitement running through her. She figures the blond behind the bar is about thirty and she has a very nice body, soft, curvy, but definitely in shape. It feels sort of decadent and liberating to be watching the way this woman moves, flirting even, and Ellie can hear CJ's words of warning in her head about being careful but pushes away the urge to hide. "What can I get you?" The blond asks with a smile as she tucks her hair behind her ear.

"Two ciders and a gin and tonic?" Ellie aks as if for permission, smiling and leaning a little on the bar.

"Sure," the blond says as she grabs the cider bottles. As she looks up at Ellie they both smile again, almost in unison, and the blond tilts her head to the side a little and rests her hands on the bar for a moment. "I've seen your friends, but I haven't seen you in here before," she says as she opens the cider bottles and reaches behind her for a towel to dry them off.

"I've been here once or twice. I guess maybe you weren't around," Ellie says with a small smile.

"I would have remembered," she says shaking her head and squinting her eyes slightly as if thinking as she reaches for the gin. "I'm Britt."

"Ellie," she says with only a moment's hesitation, deciding in that split second not to lie.

"Well, Ellie, I hope you come around more often," Britt says as she places the drinks in front of her. "We'll see," Ellie says with a grin. "What do I owe you?"

"A dance later," Britt says leaning over the bar slightly, her voice subtly changed and smooth. "Right before last call Sandy'll cover the bar. Ok?"

Ellie grins and nods. "Assuming my friends haven't dragged me out of here before then, you're on. And thanks," Ellie says with a small smile as she tucks her money back into her pocket and reaches for the drinks.

As Ellie reaches the table Leah and Sarah have commandeered, she leans over to place the drinks on the table and catches the movement of one of the agents inside the bar.

"Everything Ok?" Sarah asks noticing Ellie's stare.

"Yeah, I think so. Beth looked on alert there for a minute but she is seated again so I am going to assume all is fine. I really wish they would have just stayed outside," Ellie says with a sigh. "I am really thinking about limiting my protection. I have the damn panic button. There is no reason they can't wait outside."

"Ellie, just work with them," Sarah says softly. "No need to do anything drastic."

"Here," Leah says handing Ellie some money for the drinks.

"Not necessary," Ellie says with a small smile as she flops down into one of the chairs.

Sarah laughs as she watches Ellie sip her drink and then holds out her hand for a little high-five, looking over Ellie's shoulder toward the bar. "She's hot. Gonna go back and talk to her?"

"Nah, I'll just talk to her when we dance later," Ellie says with a crooked smile as Leah and Sarah laugh.

Ellie is leaning on the bar talking to Stacy when she feels a hand on her arm and she looks over to see Britt standing there smiling at her. "It slowed down so Sandy said she had it under control. Can I take you up on that dance now?"

Ellie can see Stacy smiling at her out of the corner of her eye and flushes a little as she nods her head and holds out her hand to allow Britt to lead her onto the dance floor. Their fingers slide together and Britt touches her knuckles with her thumb as she leads her steadily across the floor to the far corner of the dance floor. Ellie watches her move in front of her, dying to touch the curve of her hip and ass, so nicely outlined in worn jeans, and she bites her lip as she feels her body temperature rise. When Britt turns and pulls Ellie close, she slides one hand along Ellie's waist and back as she pulls her much closer than Jill did and her other hand slides up to rest between Ellie's shoulder blades. They dance in silence for most of the first song, Britt's hands restless and gentle on Ellie's back, pulling her marginally closer with each touch until their bodies are pressed together, arms loosely draped around each other. Ellie can feel Britt's breath against her cheek and hair, and her breasts pressing against her, and she wonders if the woman stroking the curve of her hip can feel her nipples tightening as they dance. When the second slow song starts Ellie gets the feeling that Britt arranged a suitably long dance and she leans away slightly and smiles as Britt reaches up and pushes Ellie's hair off her shoulder, her hand staying near Ellie's neck.

"I sort of cut a deal. They'll be a couple more slow ones. Ok?" She says, hesitant and hopeful.

"It's fine." Ellie's fingers move against the waistband of Britt's jeans and the edge of her shirt.

"What's Ellie short for?" Britt asks, her eyes inquisitive.

"Eleanore," Ellie says softly, her stomach tightening in fear.

"Anyone ever call you Nora?" She asks, her fingers stroking Ellie's neck under her thick hair.

"No," Ellie says with a dramatic sigh. "My sister stuck me with Ellie early on and I haven't been able to shake it. I tried to get everyone to call me Sabrina for a while in grade school, but my mother pretty much put an end to that. And Britt?"

Britt smiles and pushes her own hair off her face, taking a breath before answering. "Brittania, it's my middle name. My first name is Sophia. Thank God my brother refused to call me anything but Britt growing up."

"It suits you," Ellie says shyly at the shared moment.

"Your eyes crinkle when you smile," Britt says, pushing subtly on Ellie's neck to bring her closer. "I bet they get all warm and hooded when you are content and sleepy," she says as her lips brush Ellie's ear, her hands sliding down to touch the small of Ellie's back and the slope of her rear. Ellie instinctively pulls her closer and turns her face to rest against Britt's neck, inhaling the softly floral scent of her skin under the smell of fabric softener, alcohol and sweat. They dance close, both their hands wandering to touch the swell of a hip or cheek, the peek of skin between waist and hem, and when Britt's lips and then tongue touch Ellie's neck and ear at the beginning of the fourth song, Ellie lets her fingers rest obviously just under the edge of Britt's shirt and murmurs softly at the stroking contact against bare skin.

As the dance is ending Ellie nuzzles her face against Britt's neck, feeling Britt's hand slide into her hair at the gesture, and then she pulls slightly away and looks at Britt with a small smile and flushed cheeks, wondering what's next. Britt grins mischievously at her and takes her hand, inclining her head toward the corner. Ellie follows but allows her eyes to dart across the room until she can make eye contact with an agent and almost unperceptively waves them away. In a small alcove not quite another room, Britt leans her body against Ellie's, pushing her against the wall. Britt's thigh eases between Ellie's knees as she leans against her with her hand on Ellie's hip and her fingers stroking outer slope of her ass. She leans her elbow against the wall near Ellie's shoulder and brushes Ellie's hair away with gentle fingers.

"I've wanted to kiss you since you walked in tonight. You looked all flushed and excited but just a little unsure," Britt says softly, leaning forward. "It was so sweet and sexy. Watching you talk and laugh with your friends, and then dance, I wanted to know what you were saying and what you were thinking about when you play with your hair. And every time I was handing you a drink I was imagining what your mouth would taste like after."

Ellie's breath catches and she looks up at Britt, tilting her head slightly to the side and knowing her eyes must look a little scared. Before she can think of anything to say, Britt smiles softly and leans forward brushing her lips against Ellie's, her hand sliding fully onto Ellie's ass. Ellie open's her mouth without any coaxing and her knees tremble when Britt's tongue slides possessively into her mouth, tangling with her own after sweeping around to taste her. Ellie allows Britt to control the kiss, to taste her and tease her until they are almost breathless. After a breath, Ellie pushes her tongue into Britt's mouth, darting against the underside of her tongue and then tangling with it once again as she pulls Britt closer until both her hands are on Ellie's rear and her knuckles tented from pressing her finger tips into the soft flesh under the tailored black pants.

Somewhere in the back of her mind Ellie marvels at the feel of breasts pressed against hers and bra straps under her fingers as she is being thoroughly kissed, Britt now sucking on her tongue and pushing her thigh higher between Ellie's legs. They have broken for air twice now and both times Britt has dropped her lips to Ellie's neck to suck at the soft skin near her shoulder while they catch their breath, and Ellie is sure she will have a mark tomorrow and smiles with something close to pride at the thought as she threads her hand through Britt's hair, encouraging her. As their lips meet again, light floods the space and Ellie jumps at the suddenness of it and tries not to think about how in that first instant she thought it was the flash of a camera. Britt smiles at her and then lowers her head to Ellie's shoulder for a moment, still not removing her arms from around Ellie's waist.

"I can't believe I just necked through last call. I am never going to hear the end of this," she says as she raises her face to look at Ellie, her eyes bright and shining. "I never do this, pick up customers. I know it sounds like a line, but I don't. I just wanted you to know that," Britt says as she leans in for one more gentle kiss. "Can I call you? Maybe we can get dinner or coffee or something?"

Ellie bites her lip to quell the urge to giggle at the `or something' and nods softly. "I'd like that, but let me call you," Ellie says with a smile.

Britt nods and touches Ellie's hair before pulling away and becoming all business. "Call me here. I practically live here and it's just easier. Now, I need to go, but I mean it. Don't make me wait for your call. I'll be sitting here tomorrow obsessing until I hear from you. I am generally in by 10:30 a.m."

And before Ellie can react she's gone and Ellie shivers in the chill, missing the warmth of Britt's body pressed against hers.

At home, Ellie strips out of her clothes, pausing to touch her hips where Britt's hands rested when they kissed and to smell her shirt to see if she could smell any trace of the blond there. In the bathroom she washes her face clean of the makeup and the sweat of dancing, and then stares at the red mark, almost a brand against the pale skin of her neck. The girls gave her a fair amount of teasing as they left the bar and the agents a restrained but furious lecture in the car about taking unnecessary chances. She sighs as she crawls into bed, reaching for the phone. She knows it's late but banks on the fact that CJ never seems to sleep.

"Hello?" CJ answers, her voice tense but not obviously groggy as if she had been asleep.

"CJ, hi, it's Ellie. I am so sorry to call you this late but--"

"What happened? Are you OK?" CJ asks, the tension increasing in her voice.

"CJ, relax, I am fine. I just got in and I told you I would call when I figured out the name thing and the public thing and thought now was as good a time as any," Ellie says laughing slightly.

"And?" CJ asks, but Ellie can hear her smile.

"I'm not going to lie. And I'm not going to hide. I'm not. So it means that I guess you should know and be ready," Ellie says after a moment.

"Are you sure?" CJ asks softly.

"Yeah. CJ, this is going to come out eventually, and when it does, I am not going to hide from it and I don't want to feel ashamed about who I am. The last thing I should be doing is using an alias or lurking around. I don't want any statements or press releases, but I am not going to hide for the next five years."

"I am very proud of you, El," CJ says and Ellie feels her eyes unexpectedly fill with tears. "When are you going to break it to the family so we can prep the senior staff," CJ asks.

"I already told Zoey, and I should tell Mom and Dad in person so, I guess when I am there in two weeks. I'll save Liz for last," Ellie says with a sigh.

"What did Zoey say?" CJ asks.

"I didn't really intend to just spring it on her, but she was sort of blown away by the hair cut and clothes and asked what had come over me, and I just sort of blurted it out. But she took it fine, asked some real questions, asked about telling Mom and Dad. All in all she was great."

"Good," CJ says and Ellie can hear movement over the phone.

"Am I interrupting anything?" Ellie asks with a grin.

"No, no. I am getting ready for bed. I just got home a little while ago. In fact, hold on and let me grab my pajama top."

Ellie lays back in her bed and touches the mark she can almost feel and knows is there on the side of her neck, waiting for CJ to come back on the line. "OK, I am back," CJ says. "So, did you actually go out dancing?"

"Yes, I actually went out dancing. And I had a great time."

"Did you actually dance, you know, slowly? I know you were sort of reluctant when you had gone out before--"

"Jill dragged me out there and let me get used to it," Ellie laughs, feeling herself blush even though CJ can't see her. "And I think I owe her a huge thank you, because it did freak me out a little but it was her and she knew, so I was ok."

"Didn't know what to do with your hands did you?" CJ teases.

"Very funny, CJ. I have seen women dance before. No, I tensed up because I was sure it would feel weird, you know? But it didn't, not at all. Once I relaxed and forgot that everyone was watching me like we were at some strange little debutante ball or something, it was fun. And I danced with someone else later, and that was excellent."

CJ laughs as she responds. "Sounds it. How excellent?"

"She was really great and I may have dinner with her," Ellie says after a moment.

"Who is she? How did you meet her?"

"She's one of the bartenders and we sort of flirted all night and then she asked me for a dance. And don't lecture me, the girls already did. I know it probably isn't a good idea to pick up the bartender, that she probably picks up women all the time and is not nearly as discreet as I need, but I really like her CJ. I like her a lot. So, just, you know, let me have this moment, ok?" Ellie says, her voice almost plaintive.

"Just be careful and protect yourself. How'd the agents do?"

"They were pretty pissed I waved them off and let myself be taken into an alcove, but they'll deal."

"You what?" CJ asks, her voice rising.

"It's not a big deal. Kim could still see me and there was no exit from the little side room. It was just a little more private, which I would think you would be happy about considering I was getting pretty thoroughly kissed."

"The bartender?" CJ asks and Ellie can almost here her smirk.

"I am going to ignore the derogatory tone of your voice and just say yes." CJ sighs on her end and Ellie can almost hear the questions running through her head. "CJ, can you just let me enjoy this? Someone who I was attracted to actually pursued me, danced with me, and then kissed me. And she wants to see me again. This is a big night for me."

"I know. And I am happy for you. But in my role as big sister I am allowed to worry. So the kiss was good?"

"The kiss was amazing," Ellie says with a grin, remembering her conversations with Sarah about kissing CJ.

"Well, good then. What's she like?"

"I guess she's about thirty, a couple inches taller than me, shoulder- length blond hair, brown eyes, a really nice smile, curvy. She's beautiful. And she smelled incredible. And she has gentle hands," Ellie says, her voice getting softer as she goes. "And when she kissed me it was beyond anything I expected."

"Well, now I am feeling hurt," CJ says, grinning on her end.

"Oh, CJ, no, I didn't mean--"

CJ's laughter cuts off Ellie's mortified ramblings. "Honey, it's fine. I am glad you had fun. How did the agents work this out? Did they all stay outside except for Kim?"

"Kim and Beth were both inside. The others were outside in the cars at front and back. You should have seen Beth. Gina dressed her and gave them a pep-talk on lesbian bars. I was rolling on the floor listening to Kim and Beth retell it."

"What did Beth wear?"

"Oh, just tight jeans, a black tee shirt and a leather jacket. But you know how sort of, I don't know, fussy she usually looks? Well, Gina slicked her hair back a little and gave her a talk on acting butch to ward off advances given she really had to sit there and watch me without looking obvious. Kim hung with us near the bar and I think Katherine hit on her when she came in without knowing she was on detail."

"And I see a new agent training course in the works," CJ jokes. "Are you ready for all that may happen if this gets out?" CJ asks gently.

Ellie pauses as she stares at the ceiling for a moment. "I don't know if I'll ever be ok about it, but I am ready. The detail has even worked out a quick exit strategy in case this breaks and I need to get to DC and tell my parents. So, if you hear anything before I do--"

"I'll call and they'll get you on the phone."

"Have you seen Kira lately?" Ellie asks, trying to keep her voice neutral on her end despite the smile.

"Yes," CJ says with a warning tone.

"And?" Ellie prompts in true little sister fashion.

"And, what? I've seen her. It's casual. Don't make a big thing out of it."

"So, I can assume you'll be at her dinner next weekend? Maybe playing hostess?"

"Yes, smartass, I will be there. If I don't talk to you mid-week, I'll see you Saturday. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, CJ."

After she has hung up the phone Ellie turns off the light and rolls over onto her side, her hand going once again to her neck. She smiles a small smile in the dark and can remember every nuance of touching Britt: how her hands first felt on Ellie's back and in her hair, the first touch of their lips and more so the last, how her knees and hands had trembled when Britt sucked at her neck and the feel of Britt holding her up with her hands and body. She'll call her tomorrow and accept the offer of dinner. And maybe she'll dream of her tonight, if she's lucky.

To be Continued

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