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9 1/2 Days
By Demeter


When he joins her inside the apartment, Lindsay doesn't offer Ashe a drink. It's quick, down and dirty, up against the wall. The stress relief of two people who have spent all day trying to figure out a man who finds pleasure in the torturing of women.

Distantly, she wonders what her friends would say if they knew. They joke good-naturedly about her lack of dates. Trying to set her up, meaning well, wanting nothing but the best for her. Yet, Lindsay finds herself coming apart under the hands of a man she doesn't even like. They share nothing except that one goal, the need to feel alive in the daily confrontation with death.

Bracing herself against the smooth wood, she bites her lip to hold in the moan, welcoming the pain.

"You're crazy," he says. Coming from him, it's never clear if it's a compliment or an insult.

"Sure. That from a man who spends his workdays in the heads of serial killers. I should be scared."

"But that's the thing, Inspector, you're not scared of anything, are you?"

It's awkward, the two of them in bed together, and the way he's addressing her only makes the fact hit home. "You must know," she mutters, embarrassed. Excited. "Do it already." Clearly, he wasn't joking when he picked up the cuffs from the nightstand.

"Is that okay?" They have no script for this, just curiosity and the need for escapism. The cuffs are too tight, biting into her wrists.

"Yes," she says.

He kisses his way down her body, pulling her into a fever-hot dream, a disturbing kind of fairy tale.

"Where is everybody?"

Lindsay can tell from the way Cindy's face falls that it wasn't the right thing to say when she finds herself alone with her friend, at the usual table at Papa Joe's.

"So I'm nobody?" It's supposed to be a joke, but behind that, Cindy seems honestly offended.

"I'm sorry. I just didn't think... whatever."

"I wanted to talk to you," Cindy confesses. The concern in her gaze is alarming, because Lindsay quickly comes to the realization that said concern is for her, and this is a set-up. "You know, Lindsay, there's no shame in asking for help if you need it."

"What?" Lindsay truly loves Cindy, because she can't help it, practically from the day they've met. That doesn't change the fact that she sometimes doesn't understand her, or doesn't feel threatened by Cindy's ways of getting to her. Lindsay can't let that happen. The only way to protect Cindy, from her own curiosity, from the danger's of Lindsay's job – from Lindsay's want for her – is not to let her get too close. It's getting harder.

"What would I need help for?"

"Linds, I've had a friend once who was in a similar situation. You're one of the most awesome people I know, and I know you can take care of yourself, but you don't have to do it all on your own."

She reaches for Lindsay's hand. Little can she know about the blissful shock the unexpected touch causes, but then she pushes Lindsay's sleeve up just enough to expose the light bruising circling her wrist. Lindsay freezes. Damn Cindy for being so observant.

"You've got it all wrong. I'm not somebody's battered wife."

If she just didn't care, Lindsay could have easily went with the opportunity, lose herself in the promise of Cindy's affection, but she can't. There's a killer to catch, and there'll be another after him. She can't let her be close.

"Then explain it to me," Cindy demands.

"You won't like it."

"Try me."

Lindsay breaks the eye contact as Cindy's intent gaze on her becomes too much, too overwhelming. She's caught between a rock and a hard place now. She could simply flee. Knowing Cindy, she would start an intervention. If Lindsay stays, then she has to explain. And then what? She doesn't want to drive Cindy away completely. She needs her at a safe distance.

"I appreciate what you're trying to do, Cindy. Really." Self-consciously she pulls her sleeve back down. "You know, feeling a little pain can be better than feeling nothing at all."

Cindy considers that for a moment. "How about somebody who really cares for you?"

Lindsay laughs, rolling her eyes at that, wondering why they sting all of a sudden. "I guess I gave up on that? Don't worry, that doesn't mean anything for you. You're still young."

"I love you," Cindy says calmly. "It might not be what you want to hear right now, but I thought you deserve to know. Pain... It doesn't have to be part of the deal."

Lindsay can only stare at her, wondering if she'd heard those words correctly, or just made them up in her mind because she's been longing to hear them so badly.

Cindy sighs and gets up. "You'll know where to find me. If you want to."

She turns to walk away. It isn't until the door falls shut behind her that her words truly sink in, and Lindsay knows what she has to do.

The End

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