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Friday

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Joan snapped shut the clasp of her red handbag and smoothed down her dress over her thighs. Olive green silk. She'd splurged two months of her paycheck on it, scrimping on the groceries and cigarettes for two more in order to pay for it. But it was all made worthwhile by the look on Greg's face when she first wore it. He'd tried that night, he really did, she had to give him credit. But you'd think a doctor would have a better grasp of anatomy. She sighed.

She straightened her spine, lifted her chin and made her way to Don's office.

"I'm leaving for the night. Is there anything you need?" she said as she stood in the doorway.

Don looked up from the papers on his desk, leaning back in his chair. He gave Joan an assessing look as he stuck a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. He watched the acrid smoke curl up into the room before his eyes cut back to Joan waiting patiently. She'd perfected a method of projecting patient anticipation while waiting for the men in her life to do something already, goddamnit.

"Oh, I'm sorry, would you like one?" Don rose as he shook a cigarette partially out of the pack and offered it to Joan.

"Sure," said Joan, "why not?" her mouth quirked to one side. She took the cigarette and settled herself carefully on the edge of the sofa, crossing one elegant leg over her knee, the silk slipping against the nylon of her hose. As Don leaned down to light her cigarette, their fingers brushed slightly, and Joan quickly glanced up at Don's face. He looked back blandly. She blew the smoke to the side, lips pursed to control the direction, noticing the literally five o'clock shadow darkening his jaw. An expectant smile settled on her lips.

"So...plans for the weekend?" she asked.

Don wandered over to the window, gazing out at the darkening city, a patchwork of greys punctuated by brassy neon. "Betty's planning a dinner party, having a few neighbors over."

Joan joined him, hip cocked and cigarette held aloft. "Ah. I'm planning on sleeping in, having breakfast in bed, and unplugging the phone." She drew on the cigarette, lipstick leaving a carmine stain on its tip.

They smoked quietly for a few moments, looking out at the serried rows of glowing windows marching upwards in the dark. It was companionable, this silence unwinding into the coming weekend, the work week falling away into the shadows, watching the night spark to life on the streets lit by sodium orange.

Joan's eye wandered over the still bright office building across the way, the occasional executive pondering paperwork or on the phone, a girl making copies for a late deadline...a man and a woman embracing. She did a double take as she noticed the way they were moving - a slow, lazy movement with the unmistakable rhythm of fucking. The man was wearing a blue shirt, sleeves rolled up, his bare forearms on either side of his partner, bracing the desk on which the woman perched in a red dress rucked up to her waist. Her head leaned against his shoulder and she gripped his ass. His grey dress trousers had fallen down his thighs, and his belt buckle flapped heavily with each plunge forward, dark hair loosened from its normal slicked-down state and curling wantonly over his forehead. The woman's legs were wrapped around the back of his thighs and Joan could see the upward thrust of her hips each time the man pushed into her. One black high-heeled shoe hung off one of her feet. Two glasses half full of brown liquor were abandoned on the desk.

She stiffened, her attention riveted on the scene and brought the cigarette to her lips once again, taking a deep lungful of smoke. She shot a sideways glance at Don; inscrutable as always. Before returning her gaze out the window, she caught a subtle change of expression on his features, a slight upturn of his mouth and quick exhale, his eyes slightly crinkling at the edges.

He looked at her and their gazes caught for a moment in acknowledgement. She glanced back at the rutting pair, who'd collapsed onto each other, wilting into the desk. She looked back at Don and her mouth spread uncontrollably into a grin. He smiled too and she felt a giggle dance up her throat and sneak out in a little titter. She tried to smother it with another puff on her cigarette, but then Don let out a little chuckle and she snorted. That made him guffaw and soon they were both bent over laughing in hysterics.

When they regained some control, Don stumbled over to the side board, still cracking up.

"Would you like a drink?" he asked, holding up a bottle.

"Don't mind if I do," said Joan, sauntering over. She stubbed out her cigarette and leaned her hip against the side board.

"Martini OK?" Don asked, deftly pouring some gin into a jigger.

"Perfect," Joan purred with a small smile.

Don handed her a glass and she sipped, feeling the heat of the liquor roll through her. He picked up his own drink and took a step forward, just inches from Joan, and placed a large, warm hand on her hip.

"Here's to the weekend," he said, clinking their glasses together and leaning closer. She could smell his aftershave and pomade, the cigarette and gin on his breath. His lips closed on hers and her hands slid up to his shoulders, the muscle firm under the smooth cotton of his shirt.

The weekend had officially begun.