Title: All Wet
Author: Misty Flores
Summary: Joanne Jefferson's defined, in control life is turned upside down when she comes across one Maureen Johnson. PRE-RENT
Rating: Will become M eventually.
Notes: Another how-they-met story, focusing on Joanne, trying hard to not get caught up in the hurricane of Maureen.
It wasn't that Joanne Jefferson wanted to fall in love with Maureen.
In fact, clearly outlined, the facts against a relationship with Maureen Johnson gravely outnumbered the facts for it. Joanne was already battling so many prejudices within her career being a black woman, and a lesbian black woman at that. It was the ole' boys network working hard and fast, and though she would never admit it, there was a part deep inside of her that knew that part of the reason doors had opened for her in first place was due to her father.
It was thanks to her ever loving, ever expecting parents that Joanne knew the importance of image. Working in government, becoming a servant of the people, meant adhering to certain rules and placements, and coming out had been quite a hit to her poor parent's campaign aspirations. Until, of course, they discovered the gay platform and its uses, and Joanne became not just 'Our Daughter Joanne, the Civil Rights Lawyer', but 'Our Gay Daughter Joanne, the Civil Rights Lawyer'.
There were times she felt almost bitter about the blatant use of her sexuality to further her parent's career ambitions, until of course, she was reminded of the fact that her parents were loving and supportive and not at all like some of the horror stories that came to her desk in the form of cases, or stories told to her by her fellow female professionals.
Still, lesbian or not, being a Jefferson from the Upper East Side did carry with it certain expectations. While Joanne wasn't expected to marry a well-to-do young man with political aspirations, she was expected to meet and find a young woman (preferably of color, but her parents were proud of their liberal values), with expect ional breeding, a career with a sizable income, and the ability to mingle and socialize with the upper crust of New York society.
Despite herself, Joanne found the idea insufferably boring.
She had an utter fascination for the bourgeois, always had, and although she would never consider herself one of them, she found something raunchy and naughty and real about la vie boheme. Starving artists, hopeless drug addicts, single mothers, and a rising AIDS epidemic were more than just colorful dinner party chatter. She wanted to make a difference, and the problems with New York, the severe divide in class and society and the rising awareness of the squalor of the slums, had her aching to get in deep, dirty.
Her parents, delighted with their do-gooder daughter, only encouraged her aspirations, and for that she was grateful. She was a fighter, scrappy and determined to make a name for herself on her own, and the cases she worked, taking her to the seedier parts of the city, cast a small thrill inside of her, simmering excitement in her veins.
Sometimes she would linger, step into one of the local bars, sit at the counter and order a beer. In her smart, fitted black suit, she would let brown eyes linger over the crowd, the loud teeming mass of bohemians and for a minute, pretend she was one of them.
She always snapped out of it. She always finished her beer and smiled primly at the bartender, leaving a sizable tip before gathering her briefcase and taking her leave, back to reality, back to corporate America. There was mild flirting with some women, but it was always back home alone, and on weekends, back to her blind dates with dull women who only cared about politics or were so type A they frightened even HER.
That was the way of it, until she met Maureen Johnson.
Maureen, from the beginning, was impossible not to notice. Maureen didn't put herself in the way of being ignored. In retrospect, Joanne suspected that was how she had gathered Maureen's attention: by ignoring her.
Deeply involved in a case, she had stopped into a neighborhood café for a cup of coffee, taking a moment to sit and review a deposition before an interview with a pro bono case. It was a chilly, rainy afternoon, and Joanne was in a surly mood, annoyed at her damp hair and wet shoes. She wasn't in the mood for a pick up, for a mild flirtation or even a conversation.
It wasn't love at first sight with Maureen Johnson: it was pure irritation. The woman pushed down into the table beside her, loud, and proceeded to shake the droplets of water out of her wild, brunette mess of curls, and straight onto her paperwork.
Later, Maureen would joke that from the moment they met, she had gotten her wet. "You'll laugh at it someday," she would tell her pointedly, when Joanne could only glare in response.
At the moment, Joanne wasn't laughing. Lifting her head, she heaved an aggravated sigh and cleared her throat with a sharp, distinctive, "Excuse me. Do you mind?"
The woman had a too wide mouth, accentuated by red, red lipstick, and dark eyes that were set apart on either side of an almost pointy noise. She was completely inappropriately dressed for the weather, in a skimpy tank top and too tight pants, a wet motorcycle jacket pooling a puddle on the floor. And despite all this, when her eyes fell on Joanne, Joanne could have sworn it was herself being judged.
"Not at all," said the rough voice, a laugh behind it. "Thanks for asking."
And with that, the woman went right back to laughing with table full of bohemians. Joanne was in no mood for a smart ass, nor was she used to being ignored. "You just wet and nearly ruined an entire deposition."
Tilting her head, as if annoyed to be interrupted again, the woman arched a well trimmed eyebrow, taking her in, from the expensive shoes to the manicured fingernails. "I apologize," came the sarcastic tone. "Let me dry it for you."
And with that, her papers were snatched from her hand and rubbed against the chest of the woman, crinkling around the ample bosom in the process.
Hooting and hollering immediately followed, and Joanne's palms clenched into unladylike fists.
"What are you doing!"
"Drying your deposition," the woman replied, practically performing a pole dance around her papers. "After all, it's only fair, I wet it, didn't I?"
"Would you please give me that?"
"No, wait, there's still a couple dry spots." And now the woman was actually LICKING it.
By now there was an entire audience, cheering the woman on (Maureen, she heard), and Joanne, standing alone in the colorful coffee house, was beyond embarrassed. Clearly, this was the other woman's haunt, and in her suit and shiny shoes, Joanne was clearly an Other.
Fuck it. Steve would have to print another deposition. Turning, she gathered her briefcase together and slung her trenchcoat over her shoulder, ignoring the searing heat in her cheeks and making sure to keep her head held high, Joanne exited the cafe, and never looked back.
Until the next week, when once again, she was in the same part of the city, in the same café, on her way back from meeting another pro bono client, taking a coffee break.
Joanne was so absorbed in her work, she was taken completely by surprise when a winkled, worn copy of the deposition from last week was thrown on her table, nearly upsetting her coffee and startling her completely.
"I think that belongs to you."
Standing beside her table was the brunette from before, wearing a smile on her wide mouth, hair pulled back to reveal an attractive face. Stunned, Joanne had no words, and so the other woman merely sat.
"I've been trying to get your attention for about ten minutes, you know that?" she said, as she reached over and plucked a crumb off of Joanne's biscotti, popping it in her mouth. "You left the other day before I could give it back."
Glancing down, Joanne stared at the deposition, wrinkled and curled at the edges. "Maybe I wasn't in the mood to take part in your public flogging."
"God, are you always this sensitive? I gave it back." Straightening, the woman flashed a bright smile, as if it was all forgotten and forgiven. "I'm Maureen."
She stuck her hand out, covered with cheap silver jewelry and black plastic bracelets, red fingernails bright as her lips.
"Uh. Joanne. Jefferson."
"Hi Joanne Jefferson. You know, I've been carrying that thing for a week looking for you to give it back. I finally got so bored I started reading it. How much is this guy getting, anyway?"
Right then and there, Joanne decided the woman was exceedingly attractive, in a bohemian vibrant sort of way, and utterly insane.
"I'm sorry to - I have to go." And so she did, gathering her papers and leaving her biscotti behind, ignoring the irritated look of surprise.
"I have a meeting. It was very nice to have met you, Maureen, and thank you for the…" she noticed a rather glaring coffee stain on the back of the wrinkled stapled deposition. "Paper… but I have to go."
"You're welcome," she heard grumbled as she left, and when Joanne looked back, she could have sworn the woman was pouting. But her eyes caught hers, and there was something in them that made Joanne pause, as Maureen looked intently at her in a way she hadn't ever seen before.
Breaking the gaze, Joanne pushed open the door and exited the café.
Joanne remembered thinking she would probably never see the odd woman again, and was grateful for it, because she honestly did not know what to make of a woman who would molest her deposition and then carry it around until she saw her again to give it back.
It spoke of an intriguing, attractive, insane woman, and no good could come of it.
Maureen proved that entirely too well, when, a week later, she showed up at her office.
- end chapter.