PAIRING: Andi/Ainsley, hints of Toby/Sam
RATING: PG-13 for mature themes and innuendo
NOTES: This is my answer to the Wing Swing Challenge. I picked Andi and she was paired with Ainsley. At first a daunting pairing, but the ladies got along just fine.
FEEDBACK: Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
SPOILERS: Nothing overt, except there is a veiled reference to Congressman Matt Skinner
ARCHIVE: Please ask first. And, as always, this and all my other pieces in the series are at http://www.ashesofoldlovers.net
Inconvenient by Suki
"Congresswoman," another passing politico says. Andi nods her acknowledgment, sipping her wine as she strains to remember his name for only a minute before she loses interest. She watches him move toward several colleagues and allows herself to appreciate the smooth skin of his wife's shoulders before looking away.
More and more these events have become a challenge, as Andi struggles to remain pleasant and witty and keep her eyes from resting too long on any of the attractive women in the room. It has been too long since she has felt the connection of another person's touch, and the last few women she has gone to bed with have been little more than minor indiscretions. She misses waking up with someone's breath on her neck, someone else's smell lingering on her hands. She misses kissing until her lips are swollen, instead of the quick release of tension she has had to settle for of late.
CJ and Abbey are laughing at something Leo has said, and Andi tilts her head, wondering whether either has ever entertained their same- sex inclinations, because she refuses to believe that neither of these amazing women has ever felt the pull toward soft hands and sweet lips. Abbey has that amazing voice, pronouncing in timbre and pitch that she would be an amazing lover, assertive and thorough and maybe more aggressive than Andi for a change. Her dress tonight is not the most flattering Andi has seen her wear, and she wonders if someone new is helping her choose her clothes. She should never wear that color green, nor the brown they had her in last time Andi saw her. Although, at least all her recent dresses have given a nice view of her lovely breasts.
CJ is wrapped in burgundy, slim straps and a slit up the side giving her and probably most every other so inclined person in the room a nice view of pale skin. She forces her eyes away from CJ and past Abbey, and surveys the room: tuxedoed men and glittering women abound, and she allows her eyes to wander, resting on a wave of hair or bare shoulder or shapely thigh, colors like scattered sea glass, muted greens and blues and blacks, with some sharp, shiny edges thrown in for accent. Margaret looks beautiful in the pale, not- quite-grey dress she is wearing, although she keeps tugging at the strap and waist like she is uncomfortable. Andi wonders if her discomfort is physical or mental, and decides on mental as Margaret's eyes dart around the room quickly like a nervous bride. Ginger and Bonnie, in green and gold, respectively, are flirting with congressional staffers and laughing at their own jokes. Andi silently approves, and applauds that the ladies were allowed to attend for once en masse, instead of drawing straws. Donna is pretty in pink, although a little pale and timid for Andi's taste. Senator Rosen glides in, the pompous ass, and his wife is stuffed into a sequined sheath that Andi seriously hopes doesn't burst at the seams before the night is over. It's a pity, she thinks. Janet was so much more attractive before she started trying so hard.
She shakes herself and downs the remainder of her wine, reaching for another glass from a passing tray. Andi has rarely been casual about sex, at least in the District, but she has never understood why so many deny themselves the pleasure for puritanical reasons. Her last breakup left her jaded and cautious about relationships, but not sex, and she wonders whether leaving Toby was the worst mistake she ever made. They gave each other comfort and security and companionship, with the space and camouflage to pursue their separate sexual identities so long as they were discreet. His ultimatum to be more judicious with the higher stakes of increased profile were reasonable, in retrospect. At the time, though, she felt fenced in and betrayed by his new rules, rules she had never consented to and refused to live by. But after the last one she actually brought home, too young and pretty and demanding by far, there hasn't been anyone in her bed for even a night.
The few stolen kisses she has scored and the upright dancing foreplay have amounted to little more than sleepless frustration, and as she dressed tonight for this boring event, she wondered whether the dress was too good to be wasted on politicking. After two glasses of rich red wine, and a decision not to care too much tonight, she has allowed her eyes and her imagination to wander over the lovely faces, and more, in the room. Now, her eyes momentarily resting on the striking staffer from legislative affairs with the short dark hair, she feels a tingle in her thighs where her own dress brushes against her skin above her pale thigh-high hose. She twirls her drink and glances around, allowing her fingers to brush against the dress, pushing the inner lining against her bare skin again. There is a familiar flutter in her stomach and an almost tremor in her hand as she realizes she is almost hungry with desire tonight. She wants insistent hands in her hair, to lie in the dark with a smooth body against hers, soft fingers on her hip, or her neck. She wants to be kissed until she can't stand it, and then bury her face against the warm, smooth slopes of another's breasts.
As she is shifting in her heels, moving her legs a little apart in an effort to calm her response to the fantasy in her head, she hears honest, warm laughter and follows the sound to a cluster of White House staff and others directly across the room. As they shift to accommodate another, she sees Sam Seaborn and Ainsley Hayes, and shivers at the sound and look of Ainsley laughing that wonderful, warm sound again. Andi tilts her head and looks at Ainsley's hands, waving in the air as she talks animatedly. She has nice hands: long, graceful fingers Andi thinks, her own fingers stroking the side of her neck. And her arms, bared by her black sheath dress, are toned, but not muscular. Andi hates feeling the ridges of definition and would much prefer the give of smooth, warm flesh around her waist in sleep. She assumes they could never carry on a civil conversation, but the draw of those hands is almost enough to make her forget about all the important things she usually obsesses over.
She feels the air shift next to her as Toby approaches, and marvels that she can still sense his presence, even after all these years apart. "I think that look exceeds the ratings allowed in this room," he says, and she knows he will follow her eyes and quickly looks away from her current craving. She simply smiles in response, used to his teasing about her need for sex, and then rolls her eyes as he widens his eyes in indictment or question.
"You seem in a worse mood than usual tonight," she says, taking another sip of her wine for something to wet her tongue.
He grunts in response and almost sneers at a cluster of Congressmen laughing obnoxiously across the room.
"Aren't you even going to comment on my dress?" She asks teasingly after a few minutes.
He looks at her carefully and then away as he answers. "You look like sex."
"That's what I miss, those sweet gentlemanly comments," she laughs sarcastically, enjoying the verbal wordplay if she isn't going to be getting any foreplay. "Nice would have sufficed, beautiful if you were so inclined."
She watches CJ across the room, talking with her hands, and imagines what those hands would feel like on her shoulders and hips, the inside of her thighs. CJ's hands have always been able to make her a little weak in the knees: Not always a helpful reaction to your husband's best friend who is pretty solidly disinterested and certainly off-limits. It was one of the private vows they agreed on prior to the official ones: I promise to respect your position, and to protect and support your efforts; to never cause anyone to question the sanctity of this union or suspect your secret proclivities; and, I promise never to hit on your friends. And she can hear them in her head, the taste of scotch on her tongue and Toby's hand in her's. They almost made the impossible work.
"Don't you ever take a night off?" He asks, breaking her introspection.
"Toby, I am very clearly not working tonight," she says, a little irritated at the emotions his presence is dredging up.
"That's not what I meant," he says moving a little closer so as to be able to talk almost inaudibly and be heard by her alone.
She looks at him and then smiles at having been caught scoping out the women in the room. "No, then. If that's what you meant, I guess I don't, the looking at least. The question is, why do you?" she asks, raising an eyebrow in challenge.
Toby grunts at her, and when she follows his gaze her eyes come to rest on Sam again, and she realizes he has become able to observe his Deputy *almost* unperceptively. He does this often at events. Without appearing to, he always knows exactly where his Deputy is in the room. Many would interpret the attention, if noticed, as distrust of the younger man's abilities or interest in the conversation. Andi knows better. That look is about deeply buried affection and thinly guarded lust.
"He is lovely, Toby. I am surprised you have been able to restrain yourself," she says, not able to resist the urge to tease him.
Toby seems not to hear her, his eyes still resting on Sam, and then after a moment he utters a simple, quiet response. "Shut up."
She smiles in answer, allowing the quiet to fall between them, both lost to their own demons and desires.
"Seriously, this was fine when you were on city council," Toby says, letting out his breath and looking at her directly, "but now you are a United States Congresswoman for Christ's sake, Andi. And if you aren't careful...you get careless or desperate or caught up in the moment, you are going to make a mistake and get caught."
"Sure, maybe," she says with practiced nonchalance.
"I just don't understand you," he sighs, and she hears the fights again in her head, his fear and accusation at her lack of discretion, discretion defined by Toby, for the most part, as celibacy for fear of discovery.
"But what are they going to do, vote me out?" She asks rhetorically. "They may do that anyway. And unless there is documentation there isn't much they can do except gossip," she says shrugging.
Toby takes a sharp breath and then rubs his forehead before pivoting to look at her in exasperation. "Andi, what about--"
"-- you?" She asks, almost annoyed, but not quite. "Don't worry, Toby. I won't blow your cover," she says, her voice only quavering slightly. "You can always say that's why you divorced me," she adds, shrugging, swallowing her smile.
He guffaws in response, turning away from her again and shaking his head. "Yeah, because it would be such a boost for my reputation if I said that we got divorced because I couldn't keep up with you sexually," Toby scoffs.
"Toby, it wasn't like we didn't know going in that we would never--"
"-- I know, but I think the truth would almost be worse," he says, looking around, and she knows he is making sure no one can hear them, despite being removed from the crowd.
"Toby, don't you ever get tired, of pretending, of worrying what everyone would think?" She asks quietly.
"Yeah," he says after a moment and she is surprised by his honesty. "But I wouldn't know how else to be." When she looks at him directly for the first time, he seems to shrug slightly and then rolls his eyes, his voice taking on a false frivolity as he continues. "I mean, I hate show tunes, and abhor patchouli. Don't even start with me about clothes or interior decorating, and I think Cher--"
"-- Ok, ok," Andi laughs.
They stand in silence, both contemplating their drinks and obsessions. Toby glances at her a few minutes later, drawing her attention and she tenses for whatever he will say next. When it becomes clear that he is still worrying over whatever he is considering asking, Andi smiles and takes the lead, as usual.
"Ask away," she says, hiding her smile behind her wine glass.
"What do they say, about me?" He asks, clearly pained.
Andi glances at him and then sighs, leaning closer to him as she speaks. "Many, many things, Toby," she says, crossing her free hand across her body right under her breasts, "and not all of them flattering," she says pointing with her wineglass. "But not even a hint about your sexuality. You cover well."
He nods his acceptance, then looks at his shoes and finally away from her, and she can see the relief he is trying not to show.
"Oh, It's ok, Toby," she sighs and touches his arm.
He nods and then scratches his forehead.
"It's ok," she says again, smiling, knowing without being told that he worries more about discovery than he cares to admit, and her refusal to worry hurts him somewhere elemental. While she is cautious, and may never live fully on her terms, she learned a long time ago that the chastity and forced isolation is something she can't live with. He never understood that, that for her, some of the risk is warranted, maybe even craved.
"So, who were you sizing up when I so rudely interrupted?" He asks, trying to lighten the mood. "I haven't seen that look on your face in a while."
Andi smiles in spite of herself, talking a deep sip of her wine as she allows her eyes to wander over the ladies in the room. Without intention, and almost against her will, they find Ainsley again, now talking with several members of the majority counsel's office.
"No," Toby says, breaking her concentration, and she realizes she was probably studying Ainsley's body, maybe even obviously.
Andi swings her gaze toward Toby and almost laughs at his stern, attempting-to-be-imposing glare.
"No," he says again.
"Excuse me?" She asks, feeling her cheeks flush and her pulse quicken, whether from challenge or irritation she isn't completely sure.
Toby takes a deep breath, rubbing his forehead as he looks at Ainsley, and then let's his breath out in a rush as he looks back at her. "You're kidding me right?" He asks incredulously.
Andi looks back at Ainsley, leaning over to place her empty plate on the table and swinging her hair out of her eyes, and quickly decides on a course of action. "You would prefer I took your best friend CJ home with me, or maybe Ginger, your trusty, but off-limits, assistant?" She asks teasingly but with no smile.
"Andrea," he growls in warning.
"Exactly, so, I think I have been more than considerate of any possible discomfort you may feel at the thought of my having--"
"--Andi, can't you at least restrain yourself from hitting on White House staff?"
"Toby, I am hurt. Seriously, I would never do anything to make you feel uncomfortable in the least," she says, smiling softly and smoothing down his lapel with her fingers. She drains her wine and places the empty glass on a passing tray before grabbing two glasses of champagne. "I'll let Sam know you want him," she says with a wink and a smile as she walks purposely across the ballroom toward Ainsley, knowing Toby is rooted to the floor behind her watching her move, scowling and freaked, fearing she may actually say something to Sam.
As she approaches the cluster, Ainsley looks up and tilts her head to the side, her smile inquisitive, making her eyes crinkle and causing her look instantly older and more shrewd.
"Congresswoman," Sam says, surprised, his voice almost squeaking.
"Hi, Sam," Andi says smiling then glancing toward Ainsley, pleased to see her eyes still squinting slightly in question.
"Congresswoman," the others parrot at differing levels of volume and interest, two peeling away toward the bar with not even a backward glance.
"How is everyone tonight?" Andi asks, sipping from one of the glasses and holding the other casually, hoping that the remaining unfamiliar face will walk away so she can hand the glass to Ainsley with less of an audience.
"Just fine," Sam says, smiling, and then he looks down at his empty glass before looking at the extra drink in Andi's hand. Andi looks deliberately back at Ainsley and smiles, her eyebrow rising slightly in question.
"That is a gorgeous dress," Ainsley drawls, and the descriptive word sounds altogether more sultry and textured than it ever has before.
Andi doesn't immediately answer and keeps her eyes on Ainsley's face, watching her react as she catalogues Andi's body in the slinky dress.
"Is it silk?" Ainlsey asks, reaching across the space between them, past Sam, and pinching a bit of the fabric at Andi's hip between her fingers. Andi instinctively leans toward her touch, feeling the slight pull of the fabric as Ainsley moves it between her fingers. "It is, and imported I'd guess. Nice," she says, smoothing the pinched area down and in the action stroking Andi's hip. Still nodding appreciatively at the dress, Ainsley makes eye contact with Andi again and reaches for the glass of champagne still in Andi's hand without provocation. Ainsley's fingers slide over Andi's for a brief glance of skin against impossibly smooth, cool skin before Andi releases the glass and Ainsley steps back again.
"Thank you," Andi says, although she isn't sure if the response has lingered too long unsaid to be germane.
"You're very welcome," Ainsley says with a brilliant smile. "And thank you," she says, raising the glass of champagne.
"Ok, I'm going to get a drink," Sam says, nodding to each of them. Andi laughs softly as he hurries away.
"Oh, poor, innocent Sam," Ainsley sighs dramatically before raising her glass toward Andi in salute.
They each take a long sip in tandem and Andi slows her swallow to move the liquid down her throat in sync with Ainsley, amazed at the intensity of her attraction for this woman who stands for all she decries in modern politics.
"So, are you here to pick a fight?" Ainsley asks with a grin.
"Excuse me?" Andi asks, almost choking on her next sip of champagne.
"You have been watching me all night, and titling your head like you do when you are spoiling for a fight," Ainsley says, taking a sip and grinning when Andi shakes her head slightly in confusion. "I've seen you take on enough people by now, including Toby on several memorable occasions, to know that look generally means someone is about to be devoured. And you had a rather intense discussion with Toby in which you both stared at me, several times in fact, and so I am wondering which issue you are itching to debate but were loathe to do in front of Sam ?" Ainsley asks, shaking her head and causing her hair to fall away from her face.
Andi takes another sip of champagne while she studies Ainsley, trying to decide whether to be direct, and risk censure and additional exposure, or whether to dodge the challenge.
"Oh, this is good," Ainsley laughs. "The ever direct Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt backing away from a challenge," Ainsley teases and Andi feels a quiver of anticipation ripple up her spine.
"Actually, I came over here to flirt with you in an effort to amuse myself and torment Toby," Andi says, watching Ainsley's eyes for acknowledgment.
"Ahh," Ainsley says studiously, taking another long sip of her champagne as her eyes crinkle again, this time in consideration.
Andi watches her over the rim of her glass and wonders for a moment if she has made a calculated mistake.
"Well?" Ainsley drawls with mock indignation, her eyes wide and her lips sliding into a teasing smile
"Well, what?" Andi asks, smiling, hoping the static in the air between them is sexual energy and not deception.
"Andrea, if this is the best you can do, the rumors are highly exaggerated," Ainsley says, with a small rush of breath.
"Rumors?" Andi asks, getting distracted by a moment of concern.
"Don't worry," Ainsley says with a dismissive wave of her hand, "all unsubstantiated, so in all actuality meaningless gossip. However, if what I have heard is even remotely accurate, I should be at least a little flushed by now if not fully swept off my feet," Ainsley says seriously, but her eyes wrinkle in amusement again. "So?"
Andi laughs loudly, allowing her head to tilt back, enjoying the release of tension it provokes. "Well, you are direct aren't you?" Andi asks, allowing her arm to cross her ribs and support the arm holding the drink, fully entertained for the first time all evening.
"Not always, but when I respect my adversary, then yes, usually. It really is a gorgeous dress, and I am intrigued by the fact that my fingers didn't detect anything between that dress and your hip," Ainsley says with an inclined eyebrow.
"Ms. Hayes, are you flirting with me? Andi asks.
"If you can't tell, then I am doing a lousy job, aren't I," Ainsley asks, her accent drawing out lousy into another word altogether.
"You're doing fine," Andi says after a beat, taking a sip from her wine as she tilts her head. "Is this just for amusement?"
"Now, Andrea, what kind of question is that? What has that slanderous ex-husband of yours been saying to you about me, impugning my credibility and making you question the sincerity of my words," Ainsley teases, her eyes downcast at the end of the sentence but her lips curving up.
"You certainly talk pretty," Andi says, ignoring the question.
"Well, yes, my tongue has been known to turn a phrase nicely," Ainsley says with a smile.
Andi tilts her head, never one to back away from a challenge. "Well, it seems I won't have to work as hard as I thought."
"For?" Ainsley asks in amusement.
"To find out if that accent thickens when you are aroused," Andi says, brushing imaginary lint off Ainsley's shoulder.
"It does," Ainsley says with a grin before draining her glass. "Can't you tell?"
"I think I might need a more private demonstration," Andi says, unsure if she is going too far and feeling the fear curl in her stomach.
"That could be arranged," Ainsley says smiling.
"And to think I came over here mostly to irritate Toby," Andi laughs.
"If the scowl on his face is any indication, mission accomplished," Ainsley laughs in response, looking past Andi and across the room.
"What is he doing?" Andi asks, loving the mischievous look on Ainsley's face.
"He is giving himself whiplash trying to keep tabs on us and Sam all at the same time," Ainsley says conspiratorially.
"Really," Andi asks, trying not to give anything away in her response.
"Yeah, he always pays extra attention to Sam when he is talking with Congressman Skinner. Jealous maybe?" Ainsley asks with a raised eyebrow and Andi tenses her fingers around her glass, hoping her face has remained blank despite her panic for Toby.
"Oh, don't worry, I don't think anyone else notices. He is good at covering and *so* doesn't fit the profile. It's just, well, I have watched them work, almost like one mind at times. Sam is oblivious I think, but there are these times when Toby's eyes give him away," Ainsley says thoughtfully, looking toward Toby again. "He just lets his guard fall for a moment, and it's all there, in his eyes."
Andi let's out her held breath in a rush, daring to glance at Toby finally to make sure he is ok. "It's ok," Ainsley says with a warm and comforting smile as she touches Andi's arm with her fingers. "So long as Josh and Sam appear as close as they are, they will be plenty of cover for Toby. Nothing like a good ole fashioned red herring."
Andi glances at the fingers on her arm and then up the smooth, pale arm until she looks into Ainsley's eyes.
"You don't need to say anything," Ainsley says softly. "But it's ok, we all do what we have to, to be able to breathe."
Andi nods gently and smiles, shivering slightly under Ainsley's touch. " I know," she says softly, taking a gulp of champagne.
"So, should we drop this conversation, or simply take it somewhere more private?" Ainsley asks.
Before Andi can answer, a decidedly male voice rises over Andi's shoulder and she turns to see a handsome, sandy-haired man, about her height, the slightly useless look of privilege hanging about him. "Excuse me, Congresswoman. Ainsley, could I steal you away for a bit?" He asks with a charming smile. Andi forces herself not to look at Ainsley, knowing that it would be less than cautious to decline and beg off.
"For you, Randy, always. Will you excuse me Congresswoman Wyatt? I'll keep our conversation in mind and hope we can continue it very soon," Ainsley says, her words business-like but her look anything but.
"Have a good evening," Andi says, smiling and turning as Ainsley extends her hand to Randy.
She watches Ainsley walk across the ballroom with him out of the corner of her eye as she heads to the bar. Toby is standing just to the right of the bar, rocking on his heels, watching her with a scowl. He waits until she takes a long swallow of a newly acquired glass of rich, dark wine before he approaches again.
"Are you satisfied?" Toby asks with a grunt as he places his hand on her back and nods at the passing staffer.
Andi laughs sardonically. "Oh, far from it, Pokey." She laughs again at Toby's mumbled curse and then shakes her head and moves away from the hand on her back.
"Very funny," he says gruffly, moving with her, and Andi understands he doesn't yet understand that it was more than a conversation, more than a device to irritate him.
"I'd like to get out of here," she says suddenly. "Walk me through the West Wing so I can sneak out the staff exit," she commands, already moving confidently toward the side exit.
He follows her wordlessly and she sees the agent at the door glance at Toby for confirmation before allowing Andi, who is still a couple steps ahead, to pass.
"What were you two so deep in conversation about?" he asks, catching up a few feet down the quiet and deserted hall.
"Wouldn't you like to know," Andi answers cryptically, causing Toby to sigh loudly and with inflection meant to broadcast his disapproval. "You underestimate her, Toby," Andi says after a distance, smacking his arm. "And you need to watch how you look at your Deputy. You were glaring at Skinner tonight, and the poor man was doing no more than talking to Sam."
"Yeah," Toby sighs in defeat after a moment, rubbing his forehead.
"So maybe you need to stop paying so much attention to my appearances and start paying more to your own?" Andi asks gently, but with warning.
When they reach his office, he unties his bow tie as she sits down on the arm of his couch, rubbing her arms in the climate controlled chill.
He shrugs out of his tuxedo jacket and tosses it on his chair as he glances at his computer, and she can see his eyes moving over the messages stored there, or maybe his email, in the dim glow it gives off. Andi smiles at the ever-present little pink ball on his desk, wondering why his penchant for stroking the smooth pink toys hasn't tipped anyone off to his sexual presence in and off itself.
"Tired?" he asks suddenly, and she looks up, noticing his concerned look.
"Yeah, in more ways than one," she says with a smile and then sighs, allowing her shoulders to droop.
"Ok, let's go," Toby says after a moment, sighing and walking away from his desk.
"You don't have to drop me home, Toby. I'll call a car," she says wearily.
"You're coming home with me," he says, causing her to look up sharply. " I know that look," he says, raising an eyebrow.
"And what look is that?" She asks, partly amused, partly irritated.
"The look that usually precedes your heading to a bar to see who you can attract," he says honestly but without malice.
"I'm hurt," Andi says with mock indignation, feeling the tremor in her stomach at the knowledge he is probably right. She is getting too old to flirt in bars for sport.
"Yeah, well, I am going to save you from yourself by taking you home and feeding you and tucking you in for the night until the thrill of the hunt wears off," he says, standing in front of her, tucking her hair behind her ear.
"Aren't you worried about wagging tongues?" She asks with a smile, leaning toward his fingers.
"Nah, I trust you can stay on your own side of the bed," he says sarcastically and with an open smile.
Andi laughs loud and hard until her eyes tear. Her laughter fades but she feels the tears threaten to continue, all the laughter gone, and dips her head not to look at him as she breathes and prays for control.
"Come on, if you start feeling sorry for yourself, how the hell am I supposed to feel," he says seriously.
She smiles and wipes her eyes, allowing his hands on her shoulders to guide her up off the arm of the couch and into his tuxedo jacket.
"Besides, this kind of gossip would probably be good for my reputation," he says quietly, and only half kidding.
"What about my reputation?" She asks, tucking her hand into the crook of his offered arm.
"After your very obvious flirting in there, this you worry about vis a vis your reputation?" He asks.
"No, not really," she says, nodding to the guards at the door as they cross into the cooler night. "Will you make me some eggs when we get to the apartment? Like I like them?" She asks, a little unnerved by how plaintive her voice sounds.
"Of course," he says quietly.
"Ok," she sighs, leaning closer to him. He is lost in thought beside her, and she remembers vividly and almost with a jolt why she left. You can only feel lonely while in the same room as your husband so many times before it becomes too much to bear, before the uncertainty and fear of discovery, of maybe growing old alone, are more comforting than the silent anguish of affection and platonic love, without passion or need.
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