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A Damn Fine Mess
Jane was annoyed with herself. She'd paid for her beer which she had left half-finished on the counter, a flash of guilt keeping her from taking it any further. Now, she was about to leave the bar, none the wiser. She still didn't know what to do.
On the way out, her gaze fell on the woman sitting at a table by the wall, half slumped over it. She was about to slide off the barstool. Briefly, Jane wondered what her reason was. None of her business though.
A few steps later, she turned around once more. Don't do it. It's your evening off. People getting drunk on their time off are none of your concern.
"Oh, for the love of--" She couldn't just walk away, too many scenarios on her mind of where the woman might yet end up tonight. If she couldn't fix her own pathetic life, at least maybe she could help prevent worse than a broken heart from happening here. That's what it had to be, Jane figured, because what else but a man would be the reason for a woman to drink herself into oblivion?
"Hey. Are you okay? Can I call someone for you?"
At the sound of her voice, the woman looked up, blinking. She looked at Jane through bleary eyes that widened in surprise. "Really?"
"Seriously, you're following me all the way to Boston? What did I do wrong now?"
She seemed even younger than Jane had thought, mid-twenties maybe. Her luxurious red hair was disheveled, and she was missing one shoe. Also, she was clearly mistaking Jane for someone else. "Everything's fine," Jane assured her. "I'm a cop."
"I know you are," the woman grumbled. "Leave me alone now."
"Let's call you a cab first."
After a long considering look, she seemed to have decided that it was a good idea after all. Getting off the barstool, she'd nearly ended up on the floor if it hadn't been for Jane's quick intervention. "Whoa," she giggled, holding on tight. "The floor is moving. I'm Cindy, by the way."
"Sounds appropriate. Let's go, Cinderella."
She'd wanted distraction, Jane thought ruefully. It seemed like she got her wish.
Cindy had managed to give her address, a middle class hotel in the city, and was well on her way to fall asleep now. Jane tried to ignore the warm weight against her side as well as the driver's sly looks. She'd just drop her off in her room and then get back home to her own problem. A decision had to be made. She was clueless.
"Have fun, ladies," the driver said when Jane paid him, and she glared at him then gently shook her companion awake.
"Come on. Home sweet home."
A few hours later, Jane stared at the ceiling in the darkened room, wondering what had happened to going home and trying to solve her own mess. Cindy hadn't told her much about hers; she'd had barely sobered up enough to take a shower and dress for the night. And she had said, "Don't go. Please," using those doe eyes to their full effect.
It wasn't any rational, but as long as she stayed here and made sure Cindy wouldn't do anything stupid, the consequences of her own misgivings seemed far away. A treacherous illusion. He hadn't called her back yet, and he wouldn't. And hadn't she known that right away?
Homicides were a lot easier to figure out that human relationships.
Cindy had snuggled under the covers in a whisper of black lace, the combination of alcohol and misery sending her in a deep sleep. Jane had taken the other side, lain down on top of the covers, fully clothed. She'd leave as soon as the younger woman was back to her sober self. Tomorrow.
She closed her eyes, only to have them snap open the moment an arm sneaked around her waist.
"Um... wait." Jane tried to slide out of the grasp without disturbing Cindy's sleep, but she only held on tighter. Then there was the brush of soft lips against her neck. Oh no. It had been the longing for a bit of human touch that had gotten her in trouble in the first place. She wouldn't go there again, even if the kind of trouble she was in was an entirely different story.
Her worries had been premature though; it seemed like curling around a warm body was all that Cindy's subconscious had told her to do. Too close, too intimate, still. But she would survive for the night.
"Lindsay," Cindy whispered.
Jesus. Jane almost laughed. Now this is exactly what my bruised ego needed. Thank you very much.
"Go back to sleep," she said.
Tomorrow would be better.
"Who's Lindsay?" Jane asked when they sat in the hotel's cozy breakfast room.
Cindy blushed a spectacular shade of red. "Tell me I didn't oh no. What exactly did I do? On second thought, don't tell me."
"It's okay. I haven't made particularly brilliant choices lately. I understand."
Taking a sip of her coffee, Cindy sighed. "I'm so embarrassed. Thank you for staying with me though."
"I'm glad I did." To her own surprise, Jane found this to be true. Maybe she'd needed a glimpse of someone else's heartbreak to put things into perspective. Maybe it was because with Cindy, there had been instant liking. Like she was someone Jane could trust with a fact she couldn't bring herself to face yet.
"I'm pregnant," she said, feeling faint shock that she'd actually said it out loud.
Cindy's gaze on her was attentive, and full of concern.
Jane shook her head. "It's not what you he doesn't know."
"Right. Doesn't it suck when the people you care about most won't buy a clue?"
"Yeah," Jane said. "It does." And yet, Cindy was the first person to make her smile, since well, damn it. She'd have to call him after all, get it over with. "Now tell me about Lindsay."
"Inspector Lindsay Boxer? This is Detective Rizzoli. I'm calling from Boston. I was--"
"Boston?" she was interrupted. "Is this about Cindy? What happened?"
Jane smiled to herself, thinking that her instincts had been right. There could be something good coming out of this at all. "She's fine. I just called to--"
"Detective? Which department are you?"
"Will you just listen to me for a second?"
On the other end of the line, at the police department in San Francisco, Lindsay Boxer finally did.
"I'm coming!" Cindy stepped into her shoes, opening the door. A second later, she froze and simply stared. "I'm not drunk this time," she said to herself.
Leaning against the doorway, Lindsay gave her a hesitant smile. "I guess there are some things we should talk about..."
Another ring. Maybe she'd be lucky and it would go to voicemail. She'd helped one happy ending on the way. Her own disillusion could wait, right?
She wasn't that lucky. Or maybe she was. Lucky.
"Gabriel?" she said. "It's Jane. There's something I'll have to tell you."
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