TITLE: Ruthless
AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland [radiant@bluelikethat.com]
URL: http://www.bluelikethat.com/radiance
RATING: R
CODES: CJ/Ann Stark, girlslash
SPOILERS: None. ARCHIVE: Ask, please.
DISCLAIMERS: Like ABS would ever do this?
SUMMARY: "CJ was nobody's easy prey, but everyone has a breaking point."

For Julian, because I can.

*

Ruthless by Ellen Milholland

In California and New York, the two places she had made her home, power had been money, plain and simple. Money equaled better cars, better clothes, better friends, better parties, better liquor. Worth was measured in the number of zeros at the end of a yearly salary, and this was the kind of power she was used to.

When she came to Washington, it didn't take her long to realize that power here had nothing to do with checkbooks and everything to do with persuasion. Power was under-the-table dealing, and who-your-friends- were, and who-you-fucked. It was all a game of who could get closest to the strongest men in town.

So it helped that she was part of the President's inner circle, because she had never been comfortable with being low on the totem pole. She found that rooms would turn towards her, found that crowds would quiet under her glare, found that her height could be used to her advantage.

But other women in Washington had worked their ways to the top, as well, and each in their own way. Not all of them had long legs, or a microphone, or the ear of the President. They had to find power in their own niches, and Ann Stark was no exception.

Ann and CJ met early in Bartlet's administration. Ann was one of Toby's casual friends, and Ann's politics were ambiguous. She was ruthless, he had said with a smile, and Ann had touched CJ's arm and laughed.

"Toby's just flattering me, CJ. I'm not nearly as cold-blooded as he would lead you to believe." But her eyes flashed, and her smile was cool around the edges, and her thumb stroked the outside of CJ's wrist. This was Washington, and sometimes power was communicated in a handshake.

This was a game, and CJ knew that Ann always won. Only months earlier, this might've intimidated her, but that would have been before she realized that she was one of the most influential women in the room. And that she was more powerful than Ann Stark, and that it didn't really matter that Ann's smile seemed chronically condescending.

And so, because she knew all of that, she allowed herself the small pleasure of admiring Ann's sleek shoulders and the curve of her hip. Her dress was all clinging white, and she had a maroon wrap, the same shade as her fingernails, around her shoulders. She was beautiful in much the same way a panther is beautiful, all barely controlled energy and a smile that showed her canines.

Their eyes met, and Ann licked her lips, and just like that, the whole exchange was wrested from CJ's control.

And she hated to admit that some part of her enjoyed it.

So they came to see one another like this, at parties or luncheons, and they shared quiet jokes and friendly gossip, and CJ always suspected that Ann was laughing at her rather than with her.

It didn't take long for them to end up on different sides of the aisle, because Shallick had taken to Ann's manipulative laughter, had recognized the fact that Ann would be useful, that she was tenacious, that she never, ever let herself be bested. And so their meetings became charged on a different level altogether, because Ann was a Republican and CJ was a Democrat, both by proxy.

And their meetings now were at cocktail hours and across conference tables. They were expected to be enemies, and perhaps they always had been, and so putting on this act was not difficult.

Not difficult, perhaps, until Ann smiled and showed her teeth and wore shades of nail polish that CJ knew were directed at her. They had been flirting and eye-fucking across rooms and tables for months, and CJ often wondered if Ann was doing this just to make her crack.

Because Ann craved power more than anything, and she would've given anything to have power over CJ, the only woman who resisted her pull. CJ knew this, of course, and that's why all their hugs were decorous and their chairs were always inches apart. But sometimes CJ would lean in too close when they spoke, and Ann's breath would brush her cheek, and the lithe blonde would grin.

Sometimes Ann bested CJ with nothing but her breath, and this was the small concession CJ allowed her, because she always managed to level the playing field.

She exacted her revenges in small ways like fingers brushing Ann's thighs or drinking from Ann's water glass to leave behind smudges of lipstick or smiling sweetly and avoiding Ann for weeks. This was a game, and CJ wasn't about to let Ann win it so easily as the woman would've liked.

CJ was nobody's easy prey, but everyone has a breaking point, and theirs came over a particularly trying meeting. Their eyes kept finding one another from across the room, and by the time the conference was through, CJ hardly remembered how to breathe.

The group broke and headed for the door, and Ann leaned back against the table as she said, "Hey, CJ. Wait a second."

CJ froze at the door, a small storm of conflict raging inside her chest. Continue forward, ignore the call, silently acknowledge to Ann that this has been a game.

Do that, CJ knew, and Ann would win by default, and CJ would have none of that. She turned and arched an eyebrow. "Ann?" she asked, her voice all business.

Ann responded in kind, motioning towards the door with her head. "Shut that, would you?"

CJ shut the door, and Ann pushed herself up onto the edge of the conference table, her legs crossed and barely touching the floor. "I admire you, CJ. You know that?"

"Of course, but it's heart-warming to hear you say it out loud," CJ replied, hands on her hips.

Ann smiled in just-that-way, and some of CJ's resolve that this would be charged yet chaste crumbled. "Oh, CJ. You're so much fun."

"I'm not a board game, Ann."

"Aw, don't pout," Ann said, pursing her lips. She knew she would win this game, but for some reason, her hands still fidgeted in her lap. CJ noticed.

"Who said I'm pouting? You're right; I am fun," she said and licked her lips.

Ann's breath caught noticeably, and CJ silently relished in her tiny victory. "I like your suit," Ann shrugged.

"I like your nail polish," CJ noted, taking a step forward, and Ann's eyes glistened. This was war. "So," CJ said, standing much too close, "it looks like Shallick likes you quite a bit."

Ann touched a single finger to CJ's waist, and CJ struggled to maintain her carefully constructed composure. "Ah," Ann replied, "yes, I'd say that he does."

"I heard once that you're ruthless," CJ smiled. "I'm not surprised."

"I am ruthless," Ann said as her palm flattened against CJ's hip. "But that's only the most obvious of my weapons."

"You have others?"

"My rapier wit, for one." Ann's fingers were beneath CJ's camisole, dipping into her navel, and CJ's hands were on the table to either side of Ann's legs. There were no windows, just the wide expanse of tabletop and Ann's hot breath near her neck.

Ann's tongue flicked out to brush CJ's throat, and it was at that moment that she realized Ann was going to win, that her triumph had been clear the whole time. Because CJ had made herself the prey, and Ann was a predator that never let one go.

Ann's mouth was at the hollow of CJ's throat, sucking hard, and her hands were smoothly unfastening the closure of CJ's slacks. CJ's agreement to Ann's fingers at her fly came only in the quickening of her breath and the almost imperceptible shudder of her legs.

But of course, Ann felt it, and her smile was feral. "Oh, CJ."

"Ann?"

"We're going to have to stare at one another over tables like these for years," she said lightly, even as her fingers crept between CJ's slightly spread legs. CJ spread them wider, arched towards Ann's hand, took a gulp of air.

"And?" CJ managed, angry with herself for so completely losing her cool.

"I want you to think about this every time we do," Ann said, but her voice was too breathy, and CJ knew that she was not impervious.

"To think of what?" CJ asked, and Ann's fingers were suddenly inside her, lissome and demanding and deep. Their lips touched for the first time, but not the last, their tongues fierce. This wasn't a kiss, but a battle.

CJ refused to allow Ann to see her orgasm until she had proved she wasn't as weak as Ann believed her to be. And so, much to Ann's surprise, there was barely a second between the moment when CJ took a step back, and the moment she was crouching, pushing Ann's skirt and the lacy edges of her panties out the way. CJ's tongue was just as talented as Ann's long fingers.

And when Ann buried her fingers in CJ's hair, and whimpered, and then finally shuddered as she came, CJ knew that this round had been hers, and it was heady when she stood and Ann's tongue was once again in her mouth. Ann's fingers were nimble, and CJ was soon biting her lip to quiet her own small noises. They were even, and this was how CJ liked it.

They straightened their clothes, and Ann reached out to brush a strand of CJ's hair back from her face. And Ann's smile was a challenge when she said, "Until the next conference table."

CJ touched Ann's forearm, brushed her wrist, and her eyes flashed. "I can hardly wait."

-- end. Feedback adored.

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