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SPOILERS: The Past Comes Back To Haunt You

Compulsive Interest
The Affects of 'Like Liking' Somebody Part 2

By e-dog


The little jive joint where the four of you take part in greasy food consumption is relatively busy tonight. It's been a very long day and the thought of strawberry milkshakes sounded like a good idea to everyone. The sweet goodness of the frozen drinks is very refreshing (you have to admit) and the company is never bad. Better than being at home. Alone. Regretting that night with Tom and the almost. . . Well, you don't want to think about that, but you have been. Non-stop. For the last few days.

You could've been pregnant. With your ex-husband/boss's child.

"He called you?" Jill's voice brings you back to the ongoing conversation that you've been ignoring.

"Oh, I wouldn't say he called me. It was a text message," Cindy clarifies, but she shrinks in her chair a bit because she's not very good at lying. "Then, yeah, I guess he called. You know? He sounded a little different."

"Different how?" you ask, suddenly very interested. No one has mentioned names, but you know this is about Jamie Galvin and his maybe 'like like. . .like' attracted-ness to Cindy. Not that you care whether or not he actually likes her at all.

Cindy ponders your inquiry a moment, before answering in a way you find both charming and irritating. "Kinda like how a nerdy, prepubescent Dungeons and Dragons player would talk. With that high pitch whine going in and out of their voice. I could almost picture him rubbing his sweaty palms against his blue jeans. A really dismaying image for someone as cute as him. . ."

"Cute?" you repeat, not sure you totally agree with that assessment. Frankly, you don't think you ever agreed with that assessment.

Jill playfully pats your leg. "Oh, c'mon, Lindz. Admit it. He was sorta cute."

"Oh, I don't know about that," you say, smiling a bit. You want to refute this claim of cuteness, but Claire jumps in next.

"I told you. He likes you," Claire says to Cindy, a comment that makes the reporter blush slightly. You glower at Claire, obviously that little talk you had earlier meant not a damn thing. Claire glares back which only prompts you to kick her foot under the table to retaliate. When she jumps a little, surprised you would even have the gall kick her at all, you have to smile. Score points for you.

"I still say 'cute' is a strong word to use," you reiterate, sure to make your opinion known. You don't think Jamie is cute and you most definitely don't think he's someone worth pursuing. "Just forget about him."

"Oh, Lindsay," Claire grins elfishly. "Just because your love life is going nowhere doesn't mean you should rain on Cindy's parade."

That's when you feel a nice, swift kick to your shin that nearly sends you flying out of your seat. You give Claire your best exasperated look, saying through clenched teeth, "Oww, Claire. Way to bruise my ego."

"It's okay, Claire. Lindsay's allowed to have an opinion," Cindy cuts in, not blind to the obvious tension between you and Claire and doing whatever she can to diffuse the situation. Little does Cindy know that taking your side on this matter has only fueled your ambition to be even more childish.

"See, Claire. I can have an opinion," you repeat with a sardonic smile. And you deliver another nice kick to Claire's leg just for good measure.

"Okay, that's it," Claire mutters.

This time, Claire kicks you with all her might. You jump out of your seat, bang your other leg against the table as you do this and then proceed to hop around like a mad rabbit. You grab just below your left knee and cry out, "Claire! Oh my God, seriously?? That really hurt that time!"

"You started it," Claire shrugs, taking a long sip from her milkshake.

"I started it? No, you started it!" you shout, then double over in pain as you exclaim, "Oh my. . .seriously? Are you wearing steel toed boots!? God. . . I can't believe you did that!"

"Lindsay, you've got the whole place staring at you," Claire says placidly. "Sit down and stop making a fuss."

"Ooo, you are so gonna pay for this," you promise.

"Okay, now you're giving her the laser vision. Who started what and are you two okay? You seem a little tense all of a sudden," Cindy says, looking between both you and Claire.

"Yeah, I could swear you two were just playing footsies under the table," Jill says, then adds thoughtfully. "A very violent game of footsies. Which is both cute and weird."

"Jill, not everything can be cute. This," you say, pointing at your wounded knee. "This is not cute. This hurts beyond all reason!"

"Hello! Who started what and when did it start?" Cindy says insistently, waving a hand in the air to call attention to herself.

You fall back into your seat, a slightly irritating pulse of pain throbbing where Claire kicked you. You sigh, shaking your head, "Nothing, Cindy. Just forget about it."

"That's a whole lotta fuss over nothing," Jill remarks.

"Shut-up, Jill," both you and Claire mutter.

An awkward silence immediately follows and you want nothing more than to go home and put ice on your knee. Forget this all ever happened. Forget that Claire even suggested that Jamie liked Cindy. Forget that the thought sends an unbridled fury through your veins.

"Okay, now that it appears Lindsay and Claire are in a fight, I'd say it's time to leave," Jill says. "Besides, I've neglected the boy at home one too many nights in a row now."

"I should go too," Claire agrees. And that only prompts both you and Cindy to agree as well. Walking out, Claire and Jill find their cars immediately and the 'goodnights' are spread around. Both you and Cindy wave goodbye as the two vehicles peel off into the night.

Grateful that this day is finally over, you begin to walk away, but a tentative hand rests on your arm and stops you. You look at the lissom fingers lightly gripping your sleeve and that leads your gaze back to Cindy, who suddenly looks very uneasy. That overprotective feeling you never feel for Cindy surfaces again and you ask softly, "Hey, what's up?"

"You mind walking me to my car?" she asks timidly. She does laugh, though, as if her request is silly. "I'm sorry, it's just after what happened at that crime scene, I can't help but wonder who else is hiding out in the backseat of my car and if . . ."

"I'll walk you, Cindy," you cut her off with a reassuring smile. "Where did you park?"

"A couple of blocks down," she says.

You begin the trek, never imagining two blocks would seem like such a great distance. You feel you should fill the silence with words, even though the noises of the city fill the night air with shouts and clangs, whistles and horns. The noises are unsettling, yes, but so are the sights.

You see every dark alley and corner and you wonder how many more Jamies are out there. Not only the kind of Jamie who seeks out a reporter's help on a case. Oh no, that would be too simple. You see the kind of Jamie that can break into homes, the one that isn't nearly as childlike or lost or innocent. The one that kills and hurts. You wonder about Jamie himself and his maybe liking Cindy. You still don't know why that concerns you so.

Your mouth, nonetheless, utters words before you can stop them. "So, do you agree with Claire?"

"About?" Cindy says, glancing at you briefly.

"You know, about Jamie maybe liking you," you say, hoping to sound only mildly interested.

Cindy, perceptive as always, remarks, "This is what started whatever it was that got started between you and Claire."

Begrudgingly, you concede, "Yeah."

"Are you asking to settle a score, or do you really want to know?" Cindy asks, this time surprising you with her foresightful inquiry.

After a moments contemplation, however, you find it rather comfortable to say, "I really want to know."

"I dunno, maybe," Cindy shrugs. "I mean, I guess him breaking into my car was a bit weird."

"Try reckless and creepy," you correct her.

"Whatever. I know he's a good guy, it's just I don't really know him beyond what the case has already told me," Cindy goes on. "I don't know if I should get to know him better than that. If I should get too involved with the subject of my story."

You can't help but listen to her words with reverence. Again, Claire was right. You were overreacting. Cindy can take care of herself and her judgment is not nearly as impaired as you would like to think it is. You finally reach her car and after a quick look in the backseat, she smiles at you. "Thanks."

"No problem," you nod, stuffing your hands in your back jeans pockets. You take a step back and say, "Goodnight."

"Wait, I feel bad," Cindy says, that ever constant smile on her face. "Now you have to walk back alone."

"I knew that when I agreed to walk you here," you tell her, rocking on your feet. "Besides, I'm a cop. I'll be fine."

Cindy nods as if to say "of course", then opens her car door. You go to leave.

"Uh, Lindsay?"

You turn around, looking at her expectantly. "What?"

"You don't think he 'like likes' me, do you?" she asks thoughtfully.

Your first gut reaction is to shout out "No, no and no!", but you contain yourself. Your second option is reaching for your phone, dialing Claire's number and proclaiming, 'Ha! People do still say 'like like' and it's not just me!', but of course you don't do that either.

There are plenty of other things you could say right now, but saying them could make you sound jealous or overprotective or all those things you never feel for Cindy anyway, so why should you even bother? So you shrug. "I think I already made myself clear back at the diner."

She doesn't say anything for a moment. She just eyes you peculiarly, her lips twitching up into a tiny grin.

"Yeah, I guess you did. Crystal clear," Cindy says with a smile. "Night, Lindz." You don't like that smile or the way she looks at you. It's like she knows something, knows a secret about you. A secret you might not even know of yet.

"Cindy, wait," you go to say, but you're too late. She's already in the car, has started the engine and can't hear your soft plea.

You watch her drive off, taillights immediately meshing with other taillights. When you're most certain you can't see her anymore, an unnatural fear creeps up your belly and into your throat and you almost choke on it.

You run the two blocks back to the diner, to where you parked your car. You've already decided. You'll go to her place, see her and be there for five minutes tops.

That's it.

Just to be sure she's alright.

The End

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