AUTHOR: Katrina McDonnell
SPOILERS: In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen 2
DISCLAIMER: The West Wing and its characters are the property of
Aaron Sorkin, Warner Brothers, and NBC. No Copyright Infringement
is intended. I will put them back slightly disheveled.
ARCHIVE: Sure, but please ask first.
FEEDBACK: Much appreciated.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: My first definite CJ/Toby story...bit of a change
for me! Just as I was getting into bed around 2.30 one morning, I got
clobbered by images of body parts with quotes scrawled on them. Looked
across the room to spy Toby looking innocent. And this is the result.
THANKS: To Cal and Pene, thank you for the editing and much needed
encouragement. And to Reagan, Jessica, sonnychibagrrl and lprizzo for
their help in quote searching.
SUMMARY: We wear our lives on our skin.
Athenaeum - a library or reading room; from the Greek 'Athenaion',
temple of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom.
She'd always been an open book. Words, phrases, ideas, inspirations,
tattooed her skin, visible to those granted access to her collection.
Her aspiration was emblazoned on her forehead, drawing him in at
their first meeting. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. theme continued,
with 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter' on her left cheek, and 'The ultimate measure of a man...' covering
her neck and collar bones.
A past First Lady adorned her other cheek, 'No one can make you feel
inferior without your consent'. Around her right ankle an ode to her
father, 'A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence
stops'; 'Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history,
she learns she is worth less' on her left. 'The fear of freedom is strong
within us' traced a scar running the length of her lower leg. Virginia
Woolf lived on her right wrist with 'For most of history, Anonymous
was a woman.'
He'd laughed at 'I am woman' circling her nipples, wondering who she
thought she had to convince. He tasted 'Hear me roar' on her tongue.
He agreed completely with the written warning 'Dangerous when wet'
in capital letters just above her auburn curls.
Echoes of previous lovers littered her body. Insipid proclamations
faded into fine white lines on her flesh, barely legible and catalogued
for oblivion. A select few were preserved, Blake's 'Exuberance is Beauty'
on her hip and 'The nakedness of woman is the work of God' across the
top of her backside. Maya Angelou covered the small of her back in
ornate script, proclaiming 'I love to see a young girl go out and grab the
world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.'
He'd added to her tome over the years. In a scotch-induced delirium,
he'd inscribed the lyrics to Peggy Lee's 'Fever' down her impossibly
long right inner thigh. She'd smiled indulgently and shaken her head as
he'd attempted to serenade her.
They'd slammed into each other with quiet desperation the night before
she left for her self-imposed exile to LA. He should have know she'd
walk away. 'Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each
other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then,'
written in bold on her left hand should have been enough to warn him.
Lying next to her sleeping form, he'd felt the need to mark her in some
way. To make her remember him, them; to change her mind.
All he could think of was part of a verse of a Joan Baez song his sister
had played ad nauseam after her first breakup. In the dark, he'd scratched
the lyrics into her left inner thigh:
'And we haven't got too much in common
Except that we're so much alike
And I hate it for though
You're a big part of me
But our time is passing us by.'
She was gone by morning, leaving only a blank piece of paper and a pen.
A number of years and an Andi later, he'd watched as she'd climbed out of
her pool. Her wrap around skirt had clung to her legs, offering a glimpse
of the parchment. His songs were still there.
On the campaign trail, lying on top of threadbare sheets in the Everytown
Motel, he'd retraced his parting message, as her eyes demanded to know
why they were doing this again and her body replied, "Who cares?"
Moving within her, the last verse was recalled. In a cursive script, he'd
completed the song:
'But cast us adrift
And cross a few stars
And I'm good for one more try.'
Diffuse light spread across the bed at dawn. He'd lowered the covers
until the entire length of her body was submerged in the glow. Starting
at the top of her neck, his lips had trailed down her spine. She'd muttered
threats into the pillow, turning into soft sighs as he reached the small of
He never told her about the words he'd burnt into the hollows at the back
of her knees with the first direct rays that struck her skin. She wouldn't
want to hear them.
In a plush hotel room in New York City, he'd written her fortieth birthday
message in the shadows of her breasts. Lying back against the pillows,
one hand in the curls at the back of his neck, she'd asked what it was
about. He'd replied, "You". She ran her foot over his calf and with that
voice he never could resist, told him to read it to her.
"To me, fair friend, you never can be old;
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still."
He'd waited a breath before looking up at her. She was biting her lip,
her face uncertain how to react until their eyes met. A small grin broke
free and her words trembled slightly, "So, I'm your friend?"
He'd pursed his lips and tilted his head. "Possibly."
Her hand stroked his cheek and she'd commanded, "Come here," before
whispering "Thank you," against his mouth.
He never asked about the additions and alterations to her text over the
He didn't query the freshly inked 'Gail' ringing her navel or the stick
figure fish in the crease of her upper thigh, just above 'Fever'. Or
'Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens,' which appeared suddenly on
her wrist after a particularly frustrating Oval Office meeting. He tried
to soothe the scour marks partially obscuring 'Where the press is free
and every man able to read, all is safe,' on her shoulder blade. He wiped
'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' from under
her eyes before it soaked in.
He never said anything, worried his viewing card would be withdrawn.
But now...he was willing to give it up if it meant salvaging her. Her
library was sinking under the weight of her own expectations, battered
by the waves and tides of political reality and media scrutiny.
'I have a dream' was distorted by worry lines. Eleanor and Martin had
already suffered water damage. Jefferson continued to irritate the skin
stretched over her shoulder blade. He hadn't retraced his own inscriptions
All week he'd sent her notes. She'd been experimenting with them on
her forearms, now resembling blotting paper. Thin jagged letters, words
crossed out, interspersed with areas where the ink had bled through her
His own pen rested on a blank piece of paper. The well had run dry, he
had nothing left to tell her.
Except maybe the illuminated manuscript that existed only in the hollows
at the back of her knees. Maybe it was time for those words to be given
Quotes (in order in story):
- 'Our lives begin...', 'The ultimate measure of a man' - Dr. Martin Luther
- 'No one can make you feel inferior...' - Eleanor Roosevelt
- 'A teacher affects...' - Henry Adams
- 'Each time a girl opens...' - Myra Pollack Sadker
- 'The fear of freedom is strong within us.' - Germaine Greer
- 'For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.' - Virginia Woolf
- 'I am woman, hear me roar' - Helen Reddy, 'I am Woman'
- 'Exuberance is Beauty', 'The nakedness of woman...' - William Blake,
Proverbs of Hell, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
- 'I love to see a young girl...' - Maya Angelou
- 'Fever' - Peggy Lee
- 'Sometimes I wonder if men and women...' - Katharine Hepburn
- 'And we've got too much in common...', 'But cast us adrift...' - Joan Baez,
'Time is Passing Us By'
- 'To me, fair friend...' - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 104
- 'Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.' - Jimi Hendrix
- 'Where the press is free...' - Thomas Jefferson
- 'Faithless is he...' - J.R.R. Tolkien
- 'I have a dream' - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.