All characters belong to Aaron Sorkin & ABC. Standard disclaimers apply. Please send feedback. I Don't Like Mondays Cinnamon & Violet
Some women taste like a freshly opened oyster. Some women taste like metal and rain. Natalie remembers this as her tongue is between Dana's thighs. Their bodies are twined together like vines on a trellis, snaking and winding but with mouths and fingers and hips that fit together like lock and key.
Dana's toenails are painted dark, a shade somewhere between chocolate cherry and black currant. The window is open and her feet are cold against Natalie's arms, so Natalie palms them to keep them warm. Dana doesn't make a lot of noise, which doesn't surprise Natalie, but then Dana's thighs shake and her hips arch up and she cries out as she pushes herself against Natalie's mouth. There's liquid, just a little, and Natalie kisses it from Dana's skin.
Dana rolls her chair back, pulls her panties up and her skirt down. Natalie stands up, realizing the carpet has rubbed a run into the left knee of her stocking. She watches Dana's chest heave less and less as her breathing returns to normal.
"It was never this cold in Texas," Dana says, fiddling with a drying leaf on one of her plants. Her fingernails are a lighter shade than her toenails, closer to a pure crimson.
Natalie hangs onto the edge of Dana's desk, feeling pen-scratches on the wood under her hands. She tilts her head back so that her hair will fall out of her eyes. Her lips stick together as if she'd glossed them too heavily. Her voice is dry. "Our floor wasn't this high in Texas either."
Dana bites her lip and rubs her upper arms to make the blood circulate. "We'll be long in the forties."
"Of course," Dana says. She stops touching herself suddenly and decisively and pushes at the window with both hands. It gives, and shuts with a resounding thud. Natalie lets go of Dana's desk, turns on her heels that are just a little too high for comfort, and drifts out of the office and back into the world.
There are chocolate chip cookies in a basket on Natalie's desk, Chips Ahoy and Famous Amos, Mrs. Fields and homemade. A red ribbon curls around the handle, hiding the card until Natalie roots around for it. The edges of the paper are scalloped and the calligraphy on it says that the cookies are from Dana. Natalie picks up one of the smaller cookies and breaks off a small piece. She bites and she chews, but she can't taste anything over the pain and disappointment on the roof of her mouth.
She's surprised, or at least as surprised as she gets anymore, for a lot of reasons. The idea of a basket of cookies sitting untouched in the middle of the newsroom sets her head spinning. If Dan and Casey and Jeremy aren't taking things from her, if her chest isn't torn open for them to feed upon, she's afraid she won't be able to make her feet find the ground. Then Dave walks by with crumbs on his shirt and her heart begins to beat again.
"I think there's something wrong with the heat," Dana says behind her. Dana's nipples are hard against her blouse.
"You should talk to somebody about that."
"I don't think I've ever been this cold."
Natalie wants to take Dana's hands in her own and press them against her stomach. She wants to fall asleep with Dana's head on her chest and wake up the same way. "Thank you for these."
Dana's skin is pale beneath her makeup. "Do you like them?"
"They're nice, Dana."
"I'm glad." She looks at Natalie. They look at each other. And then she walks away.
Sometime later, the throb in Natalie's head gives way to nausea. Her eyes roll back in her head as she's over the bowl, and she can still smell Dana's perfume in her hair.
In Texas Natalie had been sure it was about curves and long eyelashes, about being soft, about being bruised.
She only thinks of Dana's boyfriend from those days as the Fucking Bastard. He wasn't worthy of a name. The Fucking Bastard was a college ball scout but he had acted like a movie cowboy, tall beer cans and heavy boots. His smile showed too many teeth and it had been Casey that first said it: "He's a fucking bastard." First Natalie put it down to Casey's jealousy, knowing he was sick of Lisa and weary of Charlie's terrible twos. Then Dana wore sweaters when it was too warm, instinctively pushed up her sleeves and Natalie saw the fingerprints.
"It was just an argument," Dana said, but her eyes slid away like rain off a roof. "Just, just. We were drinking."
"There are so many ways to reply to that," Natalie said. "I could say bullshit, or--no, wait, that's the only way."
"We were drinking."
Natalie's mouth was open but Dana closed the door and she stood there in the hall, alone, saying 'shit' to herself over and over. But two weeks later Dana came to work late, her right eye blackened and puffed shut. She wasn't wearing makeup or sunglasses over it.
"I'll kill him," Dan said, and Casey said, and Natalie didn't doubt they would have, but for the way Dana shook her head.
"It's over," Dana said, and she never told them what she'd done or how she was sure. But there were times when her face was iron.
Two days later she was helping Dana clear the Fucking Bastard's garbage out of her apartment. It was a hundred degrees and the whole state seemed bake. Natalie's skin wanted to crack and bleed. Dana took her shirt off in the middle of the narrow hall that led to the bathroom. There was a bruise on her sternum the size of a sunflower.
"Does it hurt?"
"Only when I breathe." Dana looked at her like hell had frozen over. When they walked slowly to the bedroom it was about bruises, and not being men. Natalie's eyes hurt and she kept blinking, trapping Dana's face in frames as she parted Dana's legs carefully. Their sweat mixed like rain into a puddle, enough to combat the dryness, to open flowers. Later Dana needed to hold Natalie down, to press her shoulder blades, to capture Natalie's nipple with her tongue, like sucking on a pencil eraser while she went over a rundown. Much, much later they called Danny, made him come over and help them carry out the trash.
Natalie looks at the ginger ale in Kim's hand and leans her back against the toilet. "I hate that stuff."
"Just sip it." She squats down, holding one hand against the bottom of her skirt so she doesn't flash Natalie. "You don't want to drink it too fast."
Natalie's mouth burns, and the tiny bursts of carbon don't help. She tries three times before she can make herself swallow the mouthful of soda. "Thanks." She pulls herself to her feet by flattening her hand against the toilet paper dispenser.
Kim stands up at the same time, backing out of the stall. "One of those days, huh? One of those Mondays."
"Mmm," Natalie says. She walks over to the sink. "We're going to be long in the forties. And Tampa Bay--"
"You're not sick about Tampa Bay, are you?" Kim guesses abruptly.
Natalie pushes the knob to turn the water on and works some of the cheap pink hand soap into a lather. "I have a phobia of buccaneers. Is that weird?"
"I think it's the mustaches."
Kim folds her arms. "You're scared of mustaches."
"Sam Donovan's left me practically paralytic."
"It'll blow over."
"I think he's going to have to shave it off."
"With Jeremy, I meant, and you knew. And Dana."
Natalie turns around, quickly. "What about Dana?"
"The stuff with Casey."
"Oh." She breathes deeply and reaches for the paper towels. They're thin and rough against her skin. "You really think so?"
Kim nods. "Sure. Why not?"
"Maybe it's a mistake."
"All of it. Everything." Natalie leaves the paper towels on the counter next to the ginger ale. "None of us know what we want. We're all liars."
"If I didn't think it was true, Natalie, I wouldn't say it."
Natalie notices that Kim's lips are painted in the same shade as Dana's toenails. "Ignore me, if you want." She opens the door and steps into the hall. "I don't like Mondays."