TITLE: Dominance
AUTHOR: Ellen Milholland [radiant@bluelikethat.com]
URL: http://www.bluelikethat.com/radiance/imagine.html
RATING: strong R
CODES: CJ/Ann Stark girlslash, same series as Ruthless and Sweetness of Small Victories
ARCHIVE: Ask, please.
SUMMARY: "'So, what you mean to say, is that I just really want to be dominated?' 'That is absolutely what I mean to say.'"

With thanks to Marie-Claude for the last minute reassurance.

For Another Juxtaposition, who's possibly becoming a habit.


The sun is brilliant against car windshields and little smudges of oil on the pavement, and the air is sticky in a first-burst-of-summer sort of way. Her feet hit the asphalt, mile-long legs stretched out towards her dark shoes, and she sits there, halfway out of her car, for a long minute before her phone twitters for her attention.

"CJ," she answers abruptly, standing, grabbing her briefcase and throwing her jacket over her arm before closing the door behind her. "Toby, it's seven. Usually, you don't have an attack about me being late until at least seven thirty."

CJ holds her Starbucks' cup close to her chest with one hand as she fumbles with her briefcase and her cellphone with the other. Her shirt is very delicate ivory silk, and finally she rolls her eyes and says, "Look, I'm about to ruin a very expensive blouse-- Yeah, I know I shouldn't drink coffee while I try to talk on the phone."

A cold burst of air hits her as she opens the door to the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. "Have you considered that maybe you shouldn't call while I'm trying to have my morning coffee? And yes, a Starbucks' caramel macchiato absolutely is coffee, no matter what you say. Toby, I'm hanging up now. No, I really am. You know exactly where I am."

She sips at her coffee, adjusting her jacket over her arm and pressing the button to call for the elevator. "If you can't remember, ask Carol. I'm tired of repeating things for you-- Yes, I know you hate Republicans. Yes, I know. I'll be back by noon, unless I figure out something wonderful to do for lunch, in which case, I'll be back by one-- No, don't worry. It's amazing, because I do have the ability to pay attention to my own schedule. See you this afternoon; don't let anything dramatic happen while I'm away."

She flips the phone closed, sighing in relief, and slides it into her pants' pocket. The elevator doors open with a sparkling little flourish and a loud ding, and she steps inside, pressing the button for the seventh floor and sighing against the back wall, her eyes closed. She doesn't want to be here, because it's going to be a bunch of conservative women talking about the right to life, and a bunch of liberal women talking about the right to do whatever women want to do.

And frankly, at this moment, CJ can't muster up the energy to make a good argument for either side. And her coffee is empty, and her nylons are stifling in the humidity.

"Could you press seven for me?" another woman asks as she steps into the elevator.

"It's already press--" CJ's eyes flutter open. "What are you doing here?"

"Ann Stark, chief of staff to the Senate Majority Leader." She parrots the title, and then considers it with a little smirk. "I'd say that qualifies me for a position on the Heritage Foundation's bi-partisan forum for the most powerful women in Washington, wouldn't you say?"

CJ shrugs. "I didn't know you were on the line-up."

"I was penciled in at the last minute," Ann says, and the slow elevator creaks as it rises.

CJ smiles. "I bet you were. Found out I was going to be here and couldn't help but take the opportunity to come drive me crazy?"

"Surely it's too early in the morning for careless flirtation, CJ," Ann looks down at her watch. "Can't start that until at least 9 o'clock."

"You have a little schedule for it? Like, someone walks into your office, and you turn them away with a little, 'no flirting 'til 9'?"

Ann laughs low in her throat. "That makes the assumption that there's a line of people just waiting to come and have their way with me."

CJ arches a brow and runs her eyes slowly up from Ann's ankles, taking in her very-white slacks and her robin's egg blouse. "You say there's not? I've seen how you toy with poor Toby."

"Toby deserves it. But I don't use sex as a weapon--"

"Of course you do," CJ smiles. "Who, exactly, are you trying to fool? Certainly not me," she says, sliding across the elevator towards Ann, until they're standing shoulder to shoulder, watching the floors light up as they pass them. "You know," CJ's voice lowers, "I've yet to see you naked."

"Is that so?" Ann asks, knowing full well that it's true.

"I wonder how you'd look, in this elevator, with all these mirrors."

"What exactly are you suggesting, CJ?" Ann asks, her fingers tightening around her briefcase handle.

"Who says I'm suggesting anything? I was just remarking on how very attractive I was sure you would look with that freshly dry-cleaned suit in a mess on the floor."

"Ah," Ann says as CJ's hip brushes hers.

"It's been weeks, Ann. You've been awfully elusive."

"I thought maybe absence would make the heart grow fonder."

"Somehow, I don't think it's my heart you're after."

"I don't know, I've always found the quickest way to a girl's heart is between her legs." Ann smiles, smoothing her blouse against her stomach.

CJ laughs. "You're hot when you're arrogant, Annette." There's another ding, and the doors open onto the seventh floor. "We could have lunch," CJ suggests under her breath. "I was looking for something to do, but someone would be even better." They do not appear in public like this, as friends or lovers, but sometimes they eat breakfast or have coffee under the pretense of unfortunate political business.

"Oh, Claudia, you're so suave. Really, I'm impressed," Ann says, pushing past her and smiling at the small, dark-haired woman who turns to greet them.

"I'm a quick study. We can pretend to discuss politics, if you'd like," CJ replies with the same smile, extending her hand. "Joanne, it's so good to see you." And then they are two intelligent, casual women, sitting at a long table in front of fifty or sixty young women and members of the press, debating campaign finance reform and abortion and the definition and role of family values in the 21st century.

Ann manages somehow to be cruel and gracious simultaneously, throwing meaningful glances towards CJ, taking everything her liberal counterparts say with a smirk and a shake of her head. "While I'm sure that the current administration would love to hear you say that, Andrea, the American people--"

"The American people," Andi Wyatt says, exasperated, "are in support of finance reform. The American people are not against abortion. The American people are not against the principles of the ERA. The American people believe women should be guaranteed the same rights that every man is granted--"

"Andrea," Kirsten Robinson, one of the editors of Blueprint Magazine, says, "I somehow doubt that here, at a table with ten other adult women, Ann would really suggest that women should stay at home, where they belong."

Ann raises her eyebrows towards Andi, and then smiles beatifically at Kirsten. "Kirsten's right, Andrea. I wouldn't even suggest that a woman's place is in the home. Look at me, I'm not exactly held back by the yoke of male oppression. Neither, might I add, are any of you."

"But conservative ideology, the very ideology you've become so adept at throwing back at us," says a woman named Janice, from the Department of the Interior, "would probably frown on your husband-less, child-less state, Ann."

CJ clears her throat. "I mean, to the conservatives, a woman who's not under a man is no woman at all."

"Sexual positions aside, CJ," Ann smirks, "I really don't think there's a single conservative position on this. We're not talking seen-and-not- heard here; we're not talking barefoot-and-pregnant."

"But," Andi counters, "we're not talking feminism, lesbianism, the ERA- -"

"You want to talk feminism?" Ann smiles. "We'll talk feminism. And we'll talk teenage mothers, welfare dependency, the prevalence of divorce and prostitution. We'll talk lesbianism, and we'll talk sexually transmitted diseases, same-sex marriages, the fall of the nuclear family. Let's talk."

"You don't have to get all riled up, Ann. Nobody's accusing you of being a feminist or a lesbian, we promise," CJ says from behind her water glass, avoiding Ann's sharp glare. "We're merely pointing out the fact that there's no need to have a bi-partisan forum for the most powerful men in Washington. They wouldn't know who to invite, there'd be so many men on the list."

"CJ, only you could find an invitation to a benign panel offensive," Ann says.

"Personally," Kirsten says, "I'm just glad they invited us radical, lesbian, vegan Democrats to the party at all."

"Well, unfortunately it appears that that is all the time we have for today," Joanne says smoothly, keeping anyone from getting in another word. "It's been a real pleasure to have these women here today," she says, but she hardly sounds like she believes it. "If you'd like to stick around for a few minutes, the panelists will be taking individual questions in the lobby until 11:30."

There is a polite smattering of applause from the audience, and CJ stands and leaves the dais without throwing a spare glance in Ann's direction.

Half an hour later, Ann appears as CJ is discussing the benefits and shortcomings of a career in public relations, and the crossover from the private sector into the federal government. "Could I steal Ms. Cregg from you?" Ann asks the young woman CJ's conversing with, a bright-eyed, dishwater blonde with a thick Southern accent.

"Of course, Ms. Stark," the girl nods. "Of course. I'm sure y'all are both very busy people. Thank you, CJ." And then she slips away, her ponytail and yellow tank top disappearing towards the stairwell.

"Let's get lunch," Ann says, her voice low. "I'm famished."

"Where are you taking me? I mean, if this is our first date-- whatever am I going to wear?" CJ smiles.

"Clothing optional," Ann shrugs. "Hell, food optional."

"Oh, no. You are absolutely paying to feed me something decadent. I like chocolate mousse. If we're going to indulge in the hopeless immorality of lesbianism, I'm going to require chocolate."

Ann seems to consider the prospect. "Well, how can I argue with that?"

"You're sexy when you're indignant about the downfall of America," CJ says as they wait for the elevator.

"I'm sexy all the time, CJ. You just secretly love the idea that I could wipe the floor with you."

"Is that so, Dr. Stark? I'll have to remember that one. What I really want is a woman who could defeat me and destroy my sense of self- worth."

"Who said anything about destroying your sense of self-worth?"

The doors open, and they step inside, pressing the 'door close' button to block anyone else from joining them.

"So, what you mean to say is that I just really want to be dominated?" CJ asks, raising an eyebrow, and setting a hand on her hip.

"That is absolutely what I mean to say," Ann says on a purr. "And forget men. You'd much rather be dominated by a beautiful woman."

CJ slaps her hand against the 'stop' button, and the elevator groans to a halt. "That's what I want, huh?"

Ann smiles slightly. "Ah, such a cunning move, there, CJ. I would never have thought of something so, so cliché." Her voice is thick and taunting.

"You are such a bitch," CJ laughs. "And I've got no idea why I put up with you, beautiful woman or not."

"Because you want to be dominated by me," Ann says slowly, as if explaining to a young child. Her eyes glitter like the little diamond studs at her ears, and she trails a finger down CJ's stomach, dipping into her navel through her thin blouse.

And then CJ is upon her, pushing her up against the mirrored wall, kissing her, open-mouthed and brutal. Her hands are pushing Ann's briefcase and jacket to the floor, pulling off her silk camisole and tossing it against the opposite wall. And Ann's breath catches, and she tries to grab at CJ, to push her away or perhaps to pull her closer, but CJ twists Ann's arms above her head, pinning them to the mirror.

"Stop that," CJ says, and her tone is mocking. "I'm busy trying to be dominated, here. Don't move," she warns, and she lets Ann's hands go. Ann leaves them above her head, and CJ dips her head to suck at one of Ann's nipples through her bra, her fingers working open the button at Ann's fly.

"You don't have to do this to prove yourself to me," Ann pants. "Not, of course, that I mind."

"I know," CJ says, pushing Ann's slacks to the floor where Ann steps from them. CJ's hands are on Ann's breasts, on her stomach, on her bare thighs. She brushes against Ann's hip, and Ann lets out a sharp breath.

"Don't be a tease."

"Shut up," CJ breathes in her ear, and Ann laughs a little, low and hoarse. "I think we've all heard quite enough out of you today, Annette. And as much as I love to hear your voice..." She brushes fingers against the inside of Ann's thigh.

"CJ," Ann says, "CJ."

"You don't listen very well, do you?" CJ clucks her tongue, kissing the spot just below Ann's ear. "You know what I think you should do? You know how you could make up two weeks without even a phone call or an irate email, Ann?"

"I have a feeling you're going to tell me," Ann sighs, arching her hips towards CJ's touch.

And then, very low, more a breath than a command, CJ says, "Touch yourself," and Ann makes a sound of indignation.

"The camera!"

"Hey, don't try to blame this on me, Ann, or make excuses," CJ murmurs, laughter in her tone. "This is your own doing. You heard me. In the spirit of dominance."

And then one of Ann's hands is sliding down CJ's side, to her hip and her thigh, and then dropping to slip between her own legs. "I'm going to get you back for this," Ann mutters. "Keep that in mind."

"I'm counting on it." And CJ takes a step back, so she can watch. Ann bites her lip, closes her eyes, almost whimpers, and CJ says, "I just want you to come for me."

"And if I don't?" Ann asks breathlessly.

"Then I'll be forced to devise some horrible, horrible retribution. And it won't be nearly as much fun as your current punishment, I guarantee." Her tone is lighter and brighter than her words suggest, and Ann is smiling.

They are playing this game, playing it with each other, because they are not permitted to play it with anyone else. There is too much at stake, too many prying eyes and guiltless consciences that wouldn't have a single qualm about exploiting every moment of vulnerability either of these women would choose to show.

And it is the weakness that Ann will only show in the quickness of her breath and the flush on her shoulders, the weakness she will never discuss or give name to, that makes CJ's breath catch.

"You're beautiful, you know that?" CJ says without realizing.

"I know it," Ann says, breathless, and her image reflects off of all the mirrors, and it's intimate and public and then CJ is touching her again, sucking at Ann's earlobes and fingering her nipples.

And a long moment later, Ann sighs through her teeth and grabs CJ's arms hard enough to bruise her, shuddering silently, and then saying, "God, CJ."

CJ just says, "Perfect," and kisses the juncture between Ann's shoulder and neck. "Put your clothes on; I'm hungry."

Ann lunges at CJ's mouth, kissing her too fiercely and biting at her lip and tongue almost hard enough to make them bleed. It's too much, too much for this confined little space, too much for this thing that they can't admit to themselves or to one another. CJ's fingers are in Ann's hair, pulling hard, tilting her head back, and Ann's mouth is sticky like orange juice.

They break apart, finally and reluctantly, and Ann refastens her slacks. "I'm starved," is all she says, and CJ smiles, briefly and brilliantly. "And lunch is on me."

"There was never a question of that, Ann. You are the dominant one, here, after all."

Ann picks up her jacket from the floor, shakes it out, presses the button on the elevator console, and the elevator begins to move. "Yes. Yes, I am," she says, but the words between the lines say, 'I need this.'

"So, feed me, Master. I'm at your command," CJ says, but what she's really saying is, 'I know.'

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