Character: Ann Stark
Pairings: Toby/Ann, Toby/Andrea
Author's Notes: Whitman. Song of Myself.
Thanks to soaked_in_stars and 38gnihsurc for looking over the first section. The tragedy that is the end is not their fault.
I'm tired of trying to figure out what's wrong with it. I wash my hands of it.
She bets herself the balance of a drink that if he'd married someone other than Andrea Wyatt, she could have wiled him away. And she orders another bourbon, while he's watching her in the sadly delicious barlight, declaring herself the winner of a silent wager.
"If you'd stayed with Claudia...I'd have had better chances." Her hand falls flat on the table, along with the heavy weight of her words (with her thoughts).
Toby only gives her a masked smile "I doubt it."
"I don't." Ann circles one finger against a knot in the polished wood, knowing he's watching the twist of her wrist. "CJ Cregg would have sent you running at some point. Running in a direction that would have led to me...or to someone else."
"And Andrea doesn't?" He likes this line of questioning, it's mildly satisfying. Even if he knows that she's only saying it to turn his thoughts over and around. He likes that she's trying to know him, that at least she's trying to pretend. Because he doesn't believe that either of them will ever know each other, not really.
Ann gives him a laugh, sounding the fake ring of it through the hotel bar. "She draws you in Toby, she pulls at you so tightly, without even trying."
She leans in when the waiter swings their way, his hip flared toward the table while he flashes a peak down the barely buttoned linen of her shirt and passes along her drink. And Toby wonders at the twinge that jealousy owns in his stomach when he catches her leaning foward. He feels his jaw tighten and he tries to look from her, willing the fisting of his hands away.
He doesn't understand the pang of possession he feels for her. He doesn't know how it fits in his relationship with his wife, or even with CJ (way back when he can't remember how long). He's uncomfortable still being attached to three women, and she knows it as the younger man jaunts away. She's mirroring the exact same displeasure in her fresh (fake) smile and fresh (expensive) bourbon.
She lifts the glass. "She's got you pinned Tobias -- in a way I thought only I could. Congratulations to her."
"You're drunk Ann." The cut in his words grates almost as angrily as the hatred that had laced hers only moments before.
But there's a shine of gray in her eyes that says she's more sober than he'd thought, "That's when I do my best work. In a dark room with exquisite liquor and a second rate speech writer who can't seem to win an election."
He can't do anything more than swallow because she's treading on his version of the truth, tipping the line with her fourth drink and squall colored eyes.
"Come with me." Her voice nips at the base of his skull, enticing and cool on his sweating skin. "I've got a room upstairs."
He shakes his head once, the movement curt and brief. "I'm married now Ann. Let it go."
Her eyes dare him to fight her and he gets tangled in the recognized glance, the memory of movement when she turns and tips her jaw. She's never given in to him, never given up. He thinks it's maybe because he's never tried to buck her authority (she always had all the authority). When she'd wanted his mind, thoughts, body...it hadn't mattered. She had owned him.
Now she's trying her best to claim her possession and he's using the name of another woman to shield himself (he isn't sure it's working). "Andrea is - "
"Andrea Wyatt isn't stupid Toby." There's a sudden spit of frustration to her words. "She knows what you are. Just like I know what you are. We're the same."
"She's nothing like you." He takes her drink from her when he stands, swallowing the last spattering of good alcohol in all of Illinois.
"The two of you? It won't last." She leans back into the chair and he watches her head tip so that she's still holding his glance, blonde hair falling away from him. He can't break from the wisdom she's staring him down with. "You and I, Toby? We're the same."
Her statement forces a wince over his shoulders. He decides that it's the only other concession he'll give her.
She's almost got him an hour later, plied with the best and brightest booze in Chicago, pushed against the jarred door of her hotel room. Her nails digging the worn leather of his belt, (almost) with her mouth against his unshaven jaw.
"No." At first she doesn't think he means it. Because (at first) he doesn't. She only knows because she's memorized the flickers in his words. Every trip and twist of the language he worships. She knows every inflection and intonation of his too soft (too proud) voice.
She tries to ignore him, tries the let the words fall into her hair and stay lost, but he gets louder everytime he says it. "No, Ann."
His palms are tight on her wrists and it's the first time, she thinks, that he's ever truly fought her.
"Damn it Toby." His denial is like an invasion (deliberate and unavoidable) and her pleading voice does nothing to him anymore.
She's seen this moment in the bottom of a glass, like a third rate hustler, telling fortunes. Bet herself that it would happen.
She's done making bets.