DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In Which Catwoman Gives Robin a Talking To
By Misty Flores
"You're giving me the talk, aren't you?"
Cindy Thomas sitting on the other side of her desk brought up the image of a contrite school girl sent to the principal's office. Auburn hair, curled and mussed, cascaded over her shoulders, and green eyes gleamed at her from underneath long lashes. Objectively, like she was studying a painting, it occurred to Jill that Cindy, hidden beneath that mouth, nosiness, youth and cuteness, actually was an extremely beautiful woman.
Annoyed that she had made that observation, she sighed.
"The talk?" she repeated, knowing that by asking a question, she really was just giving Cindy license to blather away.
"You know 'the talk'." Cindy had now begun to squirm in her seat, and the warm blush that had seeped onto her cheeks was quite adorable. On a normal day, that would have resulted in an indulgent smile from Jill, because as a whole, she rather liked Cindy, in a friendly, affectionate 'pat her on the head' kind of way. Today?
It was also an irritation.
"I mean you must have something to say, because you've never actually called me into your office, like this, and you haven't really said anything to me since walking in on me and Lindsay-"
She fought the impulsive urge to conjure up the image Cindy brought up, and failed.
"Oh, God that IS why you called me in," Cindy breathed, obviously seeing her wince. "Look, Jill-"
"It's none of my business." The way her voice sounded, breathless and choked, she didn't even believe herself.
Cindy seemed to deflate a little, but she could feel those narrowed eyes focused on her, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
They were friendlier than this, usually. The relationship had never grown intentionally, but with Lindsay out doing her job and Cindy always so intent on finding Lindsay, it became habit to see a redhead pop into her office, with a smile and a break on the case. While Claire, thanks to what Jill suspected was some kind of maternal instinct kicking in, gave in rather quickly to the redhead's charms, Jill saw Cindy simply in relation to Lindsay. It was an unacknowledged secret that both would have rather spent time with Lindsay than with each other, but their superhero cop was a busy woman. Waiting for Lindsay was something that was best done together. Of course, that was before Jill gave in to the cuteness, and with that came genuine appreciation for Cindy's company. Now there existed a curious level of trust between the two women.
That was, until, last night, when in a fit of loneliness Jill had showed up on Lindsay's doorstep, let herself in, and walked in on a rather naked, passionate spectacle.
Now there existed a strained sort of awkward silence.
"She's your best friend." The little reporter broke into the silence. "I get that. What happened-"
"I know what happened," Jill snapped, meaner than she intended to sound. "Lindsay told me." Which was technically a lie. Lindsay didn't just tell her, Jill had to pry it out of her with shots of bourbon substituting the pliers. Still, Cindy didn't have to know that.
Cindy also didn't need to know that Lindsay's mouth was like a rusty faucet when she was drunk. Always resistant at first, but if you knew how to work her and just how to manipulate the situation, the words and emotions would pour out in a gushy torrent.
She didn't have to know that Lindsay was falling hard and fast, and was utterly torn up about it. Because if it was the one thing that Lindsay did not need, it was to care about Cindy any more than she did. She had a psycho after her, and he liked to kill women. He was infatuated with Lindsay and if he knew, if anyone knew, that Lindsay had lost the battle to stay platonic with the little nosy reporter who wasn't protected by a badge or a title
In her own, tortured, misguided way, Lindsay, who wasn't strong enough to stay away from Cindy's bed, was still trying to protect her.
And Cindy didn't need to know that either.
"Look, it's just sex," Cindy blurted, and the statement had enough force in it to force Jill to look up, meet nervous, embarrassed eyes. "Okay? I know that. I get that. Lindsay and I are keeping it completely casual, and I'd be stupid to want more."
"Do you want more?"
Ironically, Cindy chose that moment to clam up. "All that matters is I know what the deal is. Lindsay's not going to hurt me because I know what to expect."
Puzzled, Jill cocked her head, eyes squinting. "Do you?"
"That is why you brought me in here, right?" Cindy was getting angry. That was something Jill hadn't seen directed at her. Usually Cindy afforded more vulnerable emotions: hurt, awkwardness, concern, sadness. Before they could call each other friends, Jill wouldn't resist an occasional barb at the yappy little reporter that followed Lindsay around and wouldn't take a hint, and all she'd get in return would be an evasive, embarrassed smile; sometimes a quip. The anger was new. "To tell me not to get my hopes up? That Lindsay's going to break my heart? That I'm an idiot for getting involved with someone who obviously has no room for an affair?" Somehow Jill got the impression that Cindy had had this conversation with herself a number of times.
"You think she's going to break your heart."
"If she does or not I'm ready for that."
Cindy wasn't, really, but Jill couldn't blame her. Lindsay Boxer was a drug, and Jill had her experience with those types of people. Like a former junkie, she was addicted to those types. She knew what was good for her and what wasn't, and Luke had been good for her. People like Lindsay drew people in because they were broken and complicated and completely captivating. Like those comics books that Luke had liked to read to her, pointing out the pen and ink and explaining what it meant to a man who wanted to saves lives. Jill understood the real life applications: she saw them objectively. Heroes died alone, or with their sidekicks. Jill was never a sidekick. She was the femme fatale the hot flame who burst onto the scene dripping in sultry sex and smoke. She wasn't meant for a happily ever after with the hero because, unlike the sidekick, she carried baggage of her own.
Listening to Lindsay talk that night, plied with liquor and spilling her guts out, Jill saw their roles, fitted neatly before them, as vividly as one of Luke's comic books.
She liked to think of Lindsay as Batman. Dark and magnificent; mourning a lost love, and taking comfort when she could get it. Out to the save the world, prepared to lose herself to do it.
Claire? Maybe Alfred, though she could never tell Claire that, because her friend would take serious offense. "I am NOT THAT OLD," she would hear, and get a furious glare for her trouble.
Jill? She preferred to think of herself as more of a Catwoman. Because the suit was hot, and because it fit. Blasting hot chemistry with Batman, but ultimately unworkable because what drew them together was also what kept them apart.
Cindy was some kind of annoying mix between Robin and Vicki Vale. Sweet and brilliant, and willing to infuriate Lindsay to the point of madness in order to get her story and catch the bad guy. She was good at what she did, and Jill respected the hell out of her (in secret, of course), but her stature and cuteness and job description regulated her to sidekick.
And everyone knew that Batman and Robin were secretly hooking up. It was a matter of time, after all.
"Well," she finally began, sorting it out in her head, and battling the ache that presented. Palms hit the desk and she pushed up. "Then I think it's all been said."
Surprised at getting off so easily, Cindy remained seated. "That's it?"
"Unless you have something to add."
"Uh, no." Cindy scrambled to her feet. "I'm good."
"Great. Head down to the Morgue with me? I feel like stealing some chocolate from Claire's monstrosity of a candy bowl." The smile she gave Cindy was a kind one, because this wasn't her rival. As much as Jill's stinging heart wanted to believe that, she knew, in truth, she was looking at a friend.
Cindy's mouth broke out into a beautifully thankful smile. "I'd love to steal with you."
And still she couldn't resist. "Cindy."
Her friend stopped, frozen to the floor. "What?"
"I'm going to say this once, and you cannot ask me why." Her tone was firm, there was no room for argument. Heels sinking into her carpet, Jill's eyes were cold. "If you hurt her, I will kill you."
Big eyes blinked at her in surprise. "How could I-"
"I said no questions, sidekick."
The mouth snapped shut, and pushing a deep breath out through her nose, Jill pulled open the door and waited pleasantly for Cindy to walk through.
Cindy frowned, a little disgusted. "Sidekick?"
Pushing her through the door, Jill smiled.
Cindy didn't have to know about the superhero analogy.
All Cindy needed to know, was that if she broke Lindsay's heart, the heart she didn't even know she had, Jill was going to go Cat-Woman on her ass.
Well, that and a bottle of bourbon went a long way with Lindsay.
Cindy could figure that one out on her own.
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