DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, rather than focus on the crappy continuity fairy that failed to recognize that Cindy and Jill (and Claire) did not change outfits in two days, I had fun with wanking that discrepancy and running in a different direction. Plus there's a lot of Cindy/Jill interaction unaccounted for in that ep. We can't have that, can we? Plus, when did Jill and Cindy get matching phones?
SPOILERS: Takes place DURING episode 113 'Never Tell'.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Connect The Dots
By Misty Flores
- You're supposed to be home recuperating. It was a gunshot after all.
"You're recuperated?" The dry question lobbed at her, seconds after they were left alone by Lindsay, was accompanied by a disbelieving muted smile and a perfectly arched brow, disappearing underneath the bangs of her adorable looking lawyer friend. "From a gunshot wound. In your chest. In a week."
Resisting the urge to rub at the bandage that was currently wrapped uncomfortably tight around her torso, Cindy felt a slight blush creep up her neck and tint her ears. Jill raised the travel mug to her lips and took another sip.
"Maybe not completely," she hedged, and tore her glance away from the attractive attorney and back to the images splashed across the board. "But medication and adrenaline do work wonders."
"Mmhmm." Jill's eyes were once again on her; in that piercing gaze that Cindy Thomas had seen her fair share of in the last week. "You know that only works on Lindsay because she's blinded by killers and sex, and not on the people who have been staying with you and have actually had to help you bandage that thing."
Fingers came up and gently scratched at Cindy's blouse, just underneath the curve of her breast, forcing an unconscious hitch of breath and the urge to smile like a loon.
"Only twice," she reminded her, glancing around the room despite the fact that she knew damned well the detectives and officers littering the bullpen had more important things to worry about than Jill's damned sexy smirk and her seductive touch. "And what happened to not using my helpless state to your own wily advantage?"
A slow smile worked its way onto the other woman's face. "What happened to taking it easy?"
"This is me taking it easy," Cindy pointed out helpfully, and once again caught herself staring besotted into her friend's scrutinizing gaze. Blushing, she tore her eyes away and once again turned her attention to Lindsay's latest homicide. "I can't stay at home anymore. Junior Crime Reporters only get so much time off before they go from 'recovering' to 'fired'."
"You're lucky you know a lawyer," came the trite response, and once again Jill's blackberry was buzzing. Taking in another sip of coffee, Jill's fingers tapped nimbly at the little keypad. Watching her, Cindy found herself suddenly amused. Jill caught the smile. "What?"
"Happy to see the new phone is working out. Your old model was an antique."
Slipping the phone smoothly back into her pocket, Jill ignored the statement. "Take it easy. I'm serious."
Tipping the mug at her, her temporary roommate circled back on her heels and headed for the stairs.
Only when she exhaled did Cindy realize she had been holding her breath.
"So that's why I'm dizzy," she muttered to herself, and shook her head. "You're acting like a teenager with a crush, Thomas." And really, who could blame her? Shacking up with the hottie ADA heartbreaker because Jill wanted to take care of her was more than enough reason to fantasize.
And there was no doubt that things were changing between them. The past four months had allowed time for friendship for trust. Trust that was almost shattered in the wake of Cindy being unable to stand up to her editor and Jill's guilt complex forcing her to lash out. The shooting and the resulting intimacy that came from the new appreciation for the friendship she had taken for granted before had evolved into something fuzzy.
But there was a killer to worry about.
Cindy's eyes once again dragged to the board, glancing at the images Lindsay pointed out before her phone rattling in her purse forced her attention to her identical gadget.
The text was from Jill: GO HOME, MUNCHKIN.
Glancing up, she discovered the lawyer leaning on the rail, brow arched, smile playing on full lips.
Without a word, Jill pushed away from the railing and disappeared in the direction of her office.
If it were anybody else, Cindy would have sworn they were flirting.
- That's half the fun.
The name caused a physical visceral reaction, and Cindy Thomas abandoned all thoughts of sleep for an all night pow-wow with Claire, Lindsay and Jill, pulling up everything she could on a case she already exhausted for leads and seeing what else she could find.
No one had gone home. Jill's worried looks had been quiet, but pointed, and she made a point of ignoring her, staying on the phone and sifting through her contacts until Lindsay gave her a name and Cindy finally had something tangible.
In the hallway of the precinct, after promising Lindsay (and a watchful Jill) a shred of information in the form of her friend the shrink (and at the possible expense of her career), the long day and sleepless night caught up with her.
Her chest ached. Nausea had seemed to settle in the pit of her stomach like a permanent resident, and as she hung up the phone after making her appointment, she visibly winced.
The sudden feel of another body suddenly flush against her, the pressure of fingers slipping around her wrist, turned the wince into a gasp.
Startled brown eyes caught Jill's concerned expression. Apparently the lawyer had followed her from the bullpen. And Cindy hadn't even noticed. Man, she really was off. "Holy-" Cindy managed. "You scared the crap out of me."
"My office," came the soft command, leaving no room for argument. "Now."
She felt herself being pulled, then pushed, Jill's palm moving from her wrist to the small of her back and shoving her lightly in the appropriate direction.
When they arrived, Jill gently shoved her inside, closing the door behind them, waiting just long enough for the lock to audibly click before snapping, "Let's see it."
Feeling clammy, Cindy swallowed, trying her best to be irritated. "Jill come on-"
"Cindy." Firm, almost angry. Jill stepped forward and immediately invaded her personal space, smoothing manicured fingers already at her vest, nimbly pulling the buttons out of their holes. "Medication?"
"I didn't take it," she managed, suddenly exhausted, watching as Jill spread the vest open and curled her palm under her shirt. Her hand spread against her abdomen, warm against her skin. "It's codeine," she argued, when Jill's expression darkened. "I can't work-"
"That's the idea."
"You know that there's no time for that right now." There was more said in the unspoken, because this was Kiss-Me-Not, and everything they had been afraid of since the moment Lindsay got a copy of Cindy's article with her face disfigured with black pen.
She was right. Of course she was right, but from the looks of Jill's furrowed brow, her friend obviously didn't like it.
Lips pressed together, she heard a soft exhalation, felt the breeze of it drift lightly across her nose, before Jill continued smoothing up her torso, until her bandage and the bra chafing against it were revealed.
From the looks of it, her self-appointed nursemaid wasn't pleased. She met Cindy's eyes intensely, thumb tracing just against the skin exposed underneath her bandage, creating a fluttering tickle that nearly suffocated her.
"Promise me," Jill began, "That if you can't do this, you will tell me."
The moment was too intense, and Cindy couldn't help a sudden joke to alleviate that tension. "Why Counselor, I didn't know you cared."
Something flashed in Jill's piercing blue eyes, and her friend regarded her strangely.
Blinking, Cindy felt suddenly self conscious, when Jill broke the stare, fingers falling away, coming down to rest at Jill's side. "I didn't know either." It was so devastatingly honest.
Cindy felt her insides splinter, and her mouth opened, ready to say something, anything, to try and process what it was that had changed between them in the last few months.
An obnoxious ring, Jill's office phone, caused a sudden jump, and the flash of pain from her stitched together wound caused a grimace.
Cindy decided she needed it. She could think of nothing to say.
Carefully, she smoothed out her shirt, and then stood silent when Jill reached for the lapels of her vest and brought them together, rebuttoning her vest.
They stood awkwardly, Jill's hands lingering against her chest, before Cindy flushed and smiled, stepping back and away from the distracting woman, motioning feebly toward the door as the phone continued to bleep at them.
"Take some Advil," Jill advised, finally moving for her desk and Cindy nodded, pulling out her bottle from her purse and shaking it in her direction. "And call me if you need me."
She smiled mutely, and inhaled deeply, lingering for a moment to watch as Jill picked up her phone, before turning and heading for the door.
She had a job to do.
- Cindy called. She says she has something we'll want to see.
Billy Harris was the Kiss-Me-Not killer.
That was the truth. It hit her like a sucker punch, the emotion clogging her throat and nearly forcing her to double over the moment she opened those notebooks and saw his drawings.
The adrenaline had carried her; helped her explain in breathless whispers to Jill what she had found, taking them to Lindsay, putting together what they had found.
Lindsay got a dead woman in rigor mortis on her bed for their trouble. Her beautiful friend, like always, blamed herself.
They should have worked together. No one wanted to leave Lindsay alone, but Lindsay was Lindsay, too used to doing things her way. Despite the fact that they had pledged to solve this together, she left them.
At top form, maybe Cindy would have gone after her; forced her to really see her, let her in, just like she had the day of Tom's wedding, before Agent Ashe came to her front door and everything else had changed.
She wasn't in top form. She was tired. She was sad.
She had Jill, with a pale and drawn face, coming in behind her, closing the door to Cindy's apartment, neither bothering to turn on the light as they simply stood.
"We shouldn't have left her alone."
A quiet sigh, and then Jill came around her, shoulder brushing hers as she dropped her keys on the small table beside the door and slid her briefcase right beside it. "I know Lindsay," she began, voice flat and tired. "She can't go home. The precinct is where she needs to be. You can't help her when she gets like this."
"That's a little defeatist, isn't it?"
In the shadowed living room, barely illuminated by moonlight, Jill's expression tightened. "You weren't around the last time it got this bad. You haven't seen her really dig herself into something."
You don't know her like I do, was the implied statement, and Cindy swallowed down the lump in her throat, looking away from Lindsay's best friend.
A dead woman with her lips sewn shut.
Hand pressed thoughtlessly to her chest, Cindy moved quietly, sinking down on the couch and closing her eyes, sucking in a wounded, restricted breath.
The couch sunk with Jill's weight, as the other woman settled in beside her. When Cindy glanced up, Jill had elbows on knees, hands clasped together, staring straight ahead.
"I thought it would be better," Cindy began, speaking into the quiet. "When we knew who he was. I thought if we just had a face..."
Beside her, Jill said nothing.
"He's really gonna try and take her from us, isn't he? He killed all those women and he's gonna try and kill her too, and there's nothing we can do."
"We'll do everything we can." The tone was soft, distracted.
"It's not much though." Brown eyes flicked to her side, studied the strong profile of her friend. "This is usually the part where she takes over. When we know who the bad guy is, and she goes in with her guns blazing, saving the world so you can put him away." They each had their part, and this... this was Lindsay's. A painful lump lodged in her throat, and feeling helpless, she rubbed rhythmically at her chest, curiously examining the burn that resulted. She welcomed it. It was a reminder she was alive.
Beside her, Jill was quietly watching the movement. Their eyes met, and Cindy felt her breath catch, suddenly focused on the subtle beauty Jill possessed.
The pressure increased on her chest, forcing the burn, that painful reminder of what they had survived.
The pain flared, and she gasped, hitching in a tortured breath. Jill, eyes like flint, reached forward with quick reflexes, pulling Cindy's hand away, tangling it in hers in a firm grip, keeping her from hurting herself.
"Stop," she whispered, voice choked.
Leaning forward, Cindy muffed the rest of Jill's angry hiss by pressing her open mouth against Jill's.
Frozen, Jill didn't move at first. Then, as Cindy sucked in a sob soaked breath and tilted her head, tongue darting out to flicker against the closed lips, her mouth became pliant, parting and slantingly hotly over Cindy's, taking ownership of the kiss with a wet tongue and a hand fiercely jerking Cindy toward her.
Eyes drifting closed, Cindy groaned, and the burning drifted from her chest further south, forcing a lust-induced shiver as she clawed feebly at Jill's shirt, scrambling underneath it to grab hold of firm breasts encased in lace.
"I don't want to hurt you," Jill breathed against her mouth, but her fingers were already on her vest, tearing at buttons she had been so careful with earlier that day.
"Hurt me," Cindy pleaded, panting with need as she broke the kiss to inhale deeply, breathing in the intoxicating scent of Jill's chin, her cheeks, the pulse that beat so fast against her neck. Her vest shimmied down her shoulders, and she nibbled and sucked against the strong tendon at Jill's throat, feeling the exhilarating tug of Jill's fingers in her hair, pushing and pulling against her. "I need it. I need you."
Jill's fingers fisted into her curls and yanked, jerking Cindy roughly away from her neck so Jill could once again plant a heated kiss against her lips, growling her approval when Cindy found the clasp of her bra and fumbled it free.
Her heart pounded inside her chest, exploding against her wound, pain mingling with desire, and it was exactly what she needed. What they needed.
There was a dead woman in Lindsay's bed, but they were alive.
Yanking Jill's shirt over her head, Cindy waited only for Jill to do the same with hers before she lowered her head and began planting wet, desperate kisses against the arch of Jill's neck, drifting down to the gorgeous breasts waiting in her palms.
Fuck Kiss-Me-Not, they were alive.
- I saw Cindy and Jill in Jill's office.
Cindy didn't want to be such a girl about it, especially now, but she couldn't stop herself from drifting to her friend's office, knocking gently to hear a distracted "Come in."
Carefully, she peeked in, feeling bashful and a little insecure, as blue eyes glanced up from mounds of paperwork and discovered her.
She heard a sigh, and the pen Jill was holding came down, a barely present smile quirking at her lips before a tiny bob of her head indicated she should come in.
With a relieved, wobbly smile, she snuck in, letting the door shut with her weight leaned against it.
Oddly enough, in the wake of what they had done, she discovered she was speechless.
"You were gone before I woke up." Forced to focus, Cindy processed the sentence, and discovered Jill studying her with an almost amused look on her face.
At least Jill hadn't taken it personally.
"Right," she breathed, and realizing she must have looked like a scared child, forced herself to push away from the door. "That uh I'm sorry about that."
Jill didn't move, but the smile on her face widened a bit. "Did you want to talk about it?"
Her tentative steps toward her friend faltered. "Only if you do," she managed, conflicted, and shook her head at her own dishonesty. "I mean, I do. I do want to talk about it. But if you don't, I completely understand- you have one night stands all the time so-"
"Cindy." Palms flattened on the desk and Jill rose, slipping hands into her slacks as she regarded her with that strangely affectionate gaze. "I don't have one night stands with my friends."
An undeniable flash of heat tremored down her spine. "Right. Me neither."
Jill's gaze was magnetic. "I'd like to talk about it."
"You mean whether or not we're gonna do it again?"
Jill blinked, and Cindy winced. Of all the stupid things to- "Forget it that's probably not the best idea if we don't even know what last night was, and not that last night wasn't fantastic, but "
"But it was about feeling alive," Jill answered, and once again managed to stupefy her with her dark gaze and gorgeous lips. "Being there for each other."
"As friends?" she couldn't help but ask.
Jill considered that, before her gaze slipped to the ground and she ambled slowly around her desk, coming to stop in front of it, the physical barrier of the wood now no longer an obstruction. Cindy felt her throat bob in a gulp.
"I guess that's the question, isn't it?"
Somehow, she was now even closer to the other woman, just a few feet away. Dizzily, Cindy wondered how that had happened. Her feet felt like lead.
"Jill-" Cindy jumped, whirling and nearly choking in surprise when she saw Lindsay duck her head in. "Oh. Hey, Cindy."
She could feel the heat radiating off her face. "Hey," she managed, tossing a little wave in her friend's direction. "How are you?"
If Lindsay, usually sharp-eyed and eternally observant, noticed anything strange about the tight, strained expression on her face, Cindy wouldn't know it.
Then again, Lindsay had more important things to worry about. It was open and honest in the strained smile she sent her way. "Oh, you know - insane. I gotta take a walk before I meet Tom, do you want anything from the coffee cart?"
Jill's gaze burned into her, before she responded with eerie calm, "I think I'm good. Cindy?"
Her grin was tight. "I'm okay."
Lindsay waited a moment, making sure, before nodding. "Okay. I'll keep you posted."
"Sure," Jill said evenly.
"See ya," Cindy managed, before Lindsay shut the door.
In the ensuing silence, she tried to summon the courage to look her friend in the eyes. When she did, she discovered Jill's smile gone, her expression devastatingly serious, blue eyes not on her own dark orbs, but on her lips.
Breathless, her lips parted.
That was invitation enough. Jill's head dipped, and a moan ripped out of Cindy's throat when Jill's lips began to move hungrily against hers, open and wet, and full of unrelenting desire.
Unable to be hesitant, Cindy slid fingers up a smooth, silky nape and pulled down, bringing her in deeper, tighter, and grateful that for once, she didn't have the words.
This said it better than any conversation ever could.
- Okay, you know what? You people have absolutely no faith in romance or two people who care about each other.
In a hospital waiting room, they waited with Lindsay. Claire couldn't stay too long; her children and her husband needed her, and they had been neglected in lieu of Kiss-Me-Not far too much this week.
She and Jill rested in uncomfortable plastic chairs, sitting side by side as their friend paced, boots producing a dull clicking sound that had begun a pattern in Cindy's head. She had started to wait for it - clock. Click. Clock-clock. Click. Swivel. Click. Clock-clock. Click.
It was oddly soothing, and still weak from her own stay in the hallowed hospital halls, she felt herself drifting, until her eyes had closed and her head had sunk against the reassuring strength of Jill's shoulder. The pressure of a warm hand enveloped her fingers, and as digits tangled, she felt an affectionate squeeze.
"You guys don't have to stay."
She lifted her head up with a sleepy jerk, blinking when she discovered Lindsay's eyes on her, dark gaze moving from Jill's shoulder to their entwined fingers.
"Lindsay, we're staying." Jill's tone was firm. Rubbing at her eyes with her free hand, Cindy nodded, resolved if not a little tired.
"Look at Cindy."
"What?" she asked, self conscious. "I'm okay."
"You're exhausted, Cindy." In the wake of Kiss-Me-Not vanquished and Pete headed overseas, it appeared some of Lindsay's astute concern had returned. Cindy's mouth trembled, and it occurred to her that she had missed Lindsay's frustrating over-protective urges. "You're recovering from a chest wound. You should be in bed."
"Yeah, I keep telling her that, but she keeps not listening to me," Jill added conversationally.
Cindy tossed her an even glare before glancing up at Lindsay.
"I can live without sleep," she answered flatly, and to prove her point, straightened away from the warmth of Jill's shoulder. "And I'm not leaving."
Considering she really was recovering from a gunshot wound, it was dumb. It was also the truth. Lindsay's father was in critical condition, close to dying, and Cindy knew what that felt like.
No matter how estranged Lindsay was from her old man, a dad was a dad.
Lindsay threw her hands up, no doubt frustrated, and shook her head, distracted when she saw a nurse, headed in her direction.
"We're discussing this later," she said, pointing an accusing finger, before turning to head off the nurse.
"You know, she's right. You're recovering. I can stay with her."
Jill's voice was soft, and just the sound of it caused an instinctive reaction, the urge to once again drift her forehead to the nape of the other woman, and inhale deeply.
Shifting, she felt Jill's arm come around her, bringing her in tighter.
"I know what it's like to lose a dad," Cindy explained quietly. "I'm not leaving."
A moment, and Jill shifted. Cindy heard an audible pop as Jill's spine cracked and they sunk further into each other. "Think she can make it work with Pete?"
The change in conversation could have easily been a distraction, a rest before Jill brought up making her leave yet again. "I dunno," she answered as sincerely as she could. "I don't think so. Long distance relationships don't work. Then again, I tend to also suck at the short distance ones."
Fingers traced idly on her bicep, an invisible pattern that made her sigh.
"Yeah," Jill replied, voice low. "Me too."
She was too tired to feel anything but sleepy resignation. "Does this freak you out?"
"A little," Jill answered honestly and Cindy felt the vibrations of speech through Jill's throat. "But maybe I just have no faith in romance or two people who care about each other."
Nice. Cindy's mouth twitched. "We should work on that."
Jill chuckled gently. Cindy felt the pressure of a kiss pressed against her forehead. "I plan to."
Return to Women's Murder Club Fiction
Return to Main Page