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.

By fraidy bat


You're not used to feeling this powerless. Well, not powerless exactly, but you don't know what else to call it. You are used to being deferred to in all things criminal and dangerous. Jill and Claire know when to argue with you and when to shut the hell up and recognize that you know what you're talking about and they should listen to you. This is something that helps you sleep at night. You know where your friends are and that they are safe because they did what you told them to. You expect compliance, no matter who is receiving your directives. You're a cop. It's what you know.

But when you tell a certain redhead to stay in the car, she gets out. When you tell her to wait for you before going into the abandoned warehouse, she is snooping around before she even gets off the phone with you. When you tell her under no circumstances is she to talk to a person of interest with a rap sheet as long as your right arm, she tracks him down, follows him through a shady area in the dead of night, accidentally ends up alone with him, and has a nice long conversation while he has a switchblade hidden in his sleeve. You have to tackle the guy and cuff him just before he ends up with a murder rap on his already-too-long sheet. You tell her to stay at home and wait for you to call, and she practically marches into a dark alley with a giant target painted on her back.

You tell her one thing, she does the opposite and always more dangerous thing. You have no idea what to do with this new feeling of being totally unable to bend her to your will. You sometimes feel like gaping at her and sputtering like an idiot because you just cannot understand why she never listens to you, why she doesn't understand what can happen to her, what horrible—you can't even continue that thought because of what it does to you. So you yell at her because she infuriates you, makes you feel helpless to keep her safe, and you desperately want her safe. She's incredible at what she does, contributing to your investigations in ways you never think of until she's already done, and she's so goddamn cute that you don't know half the time if you want to punch her in the nose or put your arms around her, but you find yourself wishing like hell that she never peeked over the cubicle and caught you poking around Teresa Woo's desk.

She is one more reason to lie awake at night, one more thing to worry about, one more nagging thought in the back of your cluttered and darkened mind, one more person to feel responsible for, one more friend you fear you might care too much about.

Today, she is sitting in the chair by your desk, chattering away about something, you don't know what. You don't hear words because you're too busy concentrating on not staring at her mouth or looking too long at her eyes or any other part of her body that catches your attention. It wasn't long ago that you both stood here on the day of Tom's wedding, squaring off as usual about her safety, and she told you to shut up and let her be there for you. Any other day, you would have exploded on her, but you found it impossible to do anything but just look at her. Something was terrifyingly different about her after that; she was no longer the frustrating, disobedient kid who tagged along and helped solve cases with seemingly no concept of the kind of trouble she could get into. She was Cindy, and she was going to take care of you if she had to endanger herself to do it.

You couldn't stop looking at her after that. She was different, looked different, felt different, and you wanted to understand. And she looked right back at you, and you know that when her eyes meet yours, it means something to her. It occurs to you that she's always done that, and you wonder if every time you yelled at her, it meant something more to her than just being scolded. If every time you smiled or laughed at her, it meant something you didn't quite grasp yet. Now, you're afraid to look, afraid to touch her or grin at her, or even be alone with her. You want it all to mean something, you want to feel your stomach wrenching itself into knots when she's watching you and thinks you don't know it, you want to grab her by her coat lapels and finally know if her mouth feels as soft as it looks, you want to throw her in lockup so you'll always know where she is, you want to scream and shout at her for risking her neck again and feel how terrified that makes you, and you want to let her take care of you the way she tells you she will whether you agree to it or not.

But you don't want to feel this powerless. You're a cop. You expect compliance. Cindy never gives you the kind you want. She still makes you want to punch her in the nose sometimes. But mostly she makes you feel completely out of control, and as a cop, that is just unacceptable. You want to just be Lindsay with her, but you know you can't. Lindsay might get Cindy killed; Inspector Boxer can keep her safe. So you let her jabber on about some story she's working on, and you just do everything you can to not gaze at her for too long, not to lose your temper, not to take her home with you, and not to lose all semblance of cold, hardened police inspector. It's the only thing keeping both of you out of trouble.

The End

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