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.
Five rules Cindy Thomas had to figure out for herself
She so didn't mean for it to happen. She just wanted a better view.
Claire was up to the elbows in some guy's abdomen, rattling off descriptions of the organs and spouting theories. Jill was standing off to the side, mumbling about fresh-cut grass and sea-breezes. Lindsay looked bored. And Cindy just wanted a better view.
So she leaned further over Mr D. Ceased and caught a glimpse of something gross.
"Is it supposed to be so...purple?"
It happened somewhere between the second 'p' and the 'l'. The gum fell out of Cindy's mouth and disappeared into a mass of blood and innards. Claire froze. Lindsay closed her eyes. Cindy covered her mouth, belatedly.
Claire's lips thinned into a stern, scary line. She picked up a pair of tweezers and plucked out the offending object. She pointed at Cindy.
"Don't move. Now I have to swab you and test your DNA and add you to the deviation report and "
She walked away still muttering about all the paperwork that would have to be filled in. Lindsay rolled her eyes and wandered off to call Jacobi to let him know that there would be a delay in the completion of the autopsy. Jill approached Cindy, keeping her eyes firmly away from the part-dissected person on the table.
"Don't worry about it. She'll calm down in a day or two."
"I'm so embarrassed!" Cindy exclaimed, covering her eyes with a hand and peeking out from between her fingers.
Jill tilted her head, as if deciding whether or not to share.
"Well I can sympathise. I once dropped my cell-phone into someone's chest cavity."
Cindy brightened, removing the hand from her face.
"Yep. She threatened to stab me with her scalpel!" At Cindy's alarmed look she quickly followed up the statement. "She didn't though. And even if she'd tried, I'm pretty sure Lindsay would've stopped her. Probably."
She grinned at the young reporter. Cindy smiled back, grateful for the levity.
"So, any hints for making the 'Claire's mad at me' thing go away quicker?"
Jill draped an arm around Cindy's shoulders.
"Bring her chocolate."
Rule #1. Do not chew gum while observing an autopsy
Cindy was perched on the edge of Lindsay's desk, scribbling in a notebook. She wasn't actually taking notes. She was doodling. Little stick figures. One was holding a little stick gun. Another was clutching a tiny pair of scales. A third had a chest-spreader. The fourth one was supposed to be holding a pen and a notebook, but the proportions were all wrong and it turned out looking like a sword and a shield. Which was sort of poetic in a 'pen is mightier' kind of way.
It was a slow week in the homicide department.
A sigh from behind her brought her out of her little stick world. She turned to look over her shoulder. Lindsay was looking up at her.
"Don't you work on the crime desk at the Register."
"You know I do."
"Well, is the desk part of that metaphorical, or do you have an actual desk of your own that you could go and sit at instead of planting your ass on mine all day long?"
Cindy frowned. She opened her mouth to respond but was interrupted by Jill's voice coming from behind her.
"How many times do we have to tell you that it's not a club?"
Cindy turned back around to see Jill storming towards her. She quickly stood up and skipped around the desk so that she was behind a semi-protective barrier. Jill came to a halt and stood with her hand on her hips, glaring at Cindy in that very disturbing, icy manner which Cindy secretly feared even more than Lindsay's 'laser vision'. She was infinitely relieved when Jill's eyes moved to Lindsay.
"Guess what Denise said to me this morning."
Lindsay shrugged, but threw Cindy a 'Uh oh, you're in trouble' glance.
"She asked if we had laminated membership cards and a monthly newsletter."
The cobalt incinerators shifted back to Cindy.
"And she asked if she could download an application form from our website."
Cindy cringed and moved a little behind Lindsay's chair.
"And then she laughed at me. That really horrible, condescending laugh of hers. I would really appreciate it if you didn't use the word 'club' in anywhere in the vicinity of my boss."
And with one final arctic glare, Jill turned and swept away. Cindy ventured out from behind Lindsay and picked up her notepad.
"I think I'm just gonna head on back to the Register."
Lindsay nodded, a definite air of amusement gracing her chiseled features. Cindy turned and walked out of the bullpen.
Rule #2. Do not mention the word 'club' within earshot of Denise Kwon
She had tried using her best puppy-dog eyes on four cops. Three of them averted their eyes immediately. The other one looked torn, but quickly moved on when he realised whose desk she was sitting at.
See, Cindy's hands were behind her back. In handcuffs. And she was seated by Lindsay Boxer's desk. No Uni in his right mind was gonna undo those handcuffs if he valued his balls.
A flash of platinum blonde hair raised her spirits.
"Jill! Oh thank God!"
Jill walked over slowly, shaking her head.
"Sweetie, you are really gonna have to stop pissing her off."
"I didn't do anything!"
"You were in the suspect's house, helping him with his laundry."
"It's a tactic. Soften 'em up. Get 'em talking."
"You were helping him wash the clothes he was wearing on the night of the murder."
Cindy rolled her eyes.
"Well, we hadn't started the washer yet. She got her evidence, didn't she?"
"It couldn't just have been that. You've done dumb stuff like this before and not ended up cuffed. What gives?"
Cindy bit her lip. Jill sighed.
"C'mon, Cindy. If I'm gonna get her to let you go, I have to know the whole story."
"I may have embarrassed her in front of her cop buddies."
"Oh no "
"Well, she threatened to arrest me, you know, like she does "
"And I may have scoffed. A little."
"And she had the cuffs on you faster than you could say 'Hey Lindsay, I'm sorry for being an ass!'"
Jill shook her head. Again.
"I might be able to talk her out of keeping you overnight. But you'll owe me. Big time."
Cindy nodded vigorously.
"Anything you want."
Jill's lips twisted slightly, a hint of an evil smirk beginning.
"Well, I might have some fun with that later."
Cindy was slightly confused by the almost flirtatious delivery, but was prevented from probing by the entrance of a very annoyed Inspector Boxer. Lindsay took one look at Jill, who had her head tilted to the side, her chin dipped slightly.
"No. It was obstruction."
"It was obstruction and she dented your ego."
"My ego was not dented. I'm totally fine with the fact that a van full of cops saw a twelve-year old reporter tell me to talk to her hand."
Jill's head whipped around to Cindy, who was cringing noticeably.
"The whole story, huh?" Jill asked, sardonically.
"I forgot that part," Cindy muttered.
"Yeah, and I think I forgot why I said I'd try to get you out of here."
Jill turned to Lindsay.
"Guys " Cindy began, as Lindsay reached for her leather jacket. "Guys come on, you're not gonna leave me here."
"Not here, no," Lindsay said, motioning for a uniformed officer to take Cindy away.
Cindy watched in horror as Jill linked her arm through Lindsay's and the two of them headed out. Jill waved over Lindsay's shoulder. The cop came up and took hold of Cindy's arm.
"You have to come with me, Miss."
"Bu but I'm Lindsay's damn."
Rule #3. Do not call Lindsay Boxer's bluff when she threatens to arrest you
There seemed to be pain, a lot of it, swimming around her body, settling for short periods before moving on to a new location. Her brain felt too large for her head. Her stomach eeeerugh.
After a few moments, she determined that she was lying on a somewhat pliable surface, that she was covered by a thin blanket, and that there was light coming from an indirect source. She also determined that her eyes were glued shut.
Gingerly, she rubbed away encrusted mascara and other sleep associated gunk. Slowly, she opened one eye. And quickly closed it. The light didn't seem to be all that indirect with open eyes. In fact, if someone told her that a particularly malevolent sun god had just taken a shard of light and stabbed it through her pupil, she'd have believed them.
"Well, look who's up!"
Cindy groaned. The unmistakable drawl was not a welcome addition to the pounding hammer in her head. Still with her eyes closed, she attempted to respond to Lindsay's remark, but discovered that her tongue had somehow attached itself to the roof of her mouth and didn't want to let go, meaning that her witty and acerbic comeback turned into a decidedly unattractive smacking sound.
Cindy sighed and opened her eyes. The world was turned on its side. Or her head was. One or the other. Whichever it was, Lindsay Boxer was looming over her, smiling.
"Morning," Cindy managed to croak out.
"Good morning," Lindsay said, too loudly for Cindy's liking.
"What happened to me?"
"What can you remember?"
Cindy closed her eyes again. There was nothing in her head solid enough to be called a 'memory' as such. There were glimpses of the previous evening, fleeting moments. A friendly argument over who was cheating at poker. (It was Jill). Wine. Cocktails. Singing. Icy blue eyes staring at her over the rim of a shot glass. Not much after that except
"God, Lindsay, I'm sorry about your rug!"
Lindsay raised one eyebrow.
"Don't worry about it, you'll be paying for it to be shampooed."
Cindy nodded. She turned to look at Lindsay, needing clarification.
"Did I challenge Jill to a drinking contest?"
"Did I lose?"
"I can remember somebody mentioning tequila "
"Oh, it was more than mentioned. It was before your first shot of tequila that you informed Jill that she would be, and I quote, 'Fucking going down, bitch!'"
Cindy pulled the blanket over her head. Lindsay didn't stop.
"And I believe it was after your fourth shot of tequila that you fell face first into Claire's lap."
Cindy whimpered. And then another voice came into the picture.
"Ah, I see my worthy opponent is awake."
Cindy slowly lowered the blanket in time to see Jill curl up at the other end of the couch. She was wearing a faded S.F.P.D. sweatshirt and a pair of boy-short underwear. If Cindy hadn't been so unwell she would have been embarrassed. Or intrigued. Or aroused. Or something. Jill's hair was damp, obviously recently washed. And she was smiling.
Lindsay walked over and handed Jill a cup of coffee. Cindy felt her stomach protest at the very thought.
"Where's Claire?" she asked, mostly as a distraction from her stomach.
"She headed home after we tucked you up for the night," Lindsay explained.
Cindy snuck a glance at Jill. An idle thought in the 'reporter' part of her brain wondered where Jill had slept. Jill was still smiling.
"How can you be so not like me right now?"
"I can handle my liquor, kid."
Cindy closed her eyes again, willing her body to feel better.
"What was it Cindy was mumbling about when we were putting her to bed last night, Jill?"
"Why Lindsay, I believe she was demanding a rematch. Tonight, if I remember rightly."
Without opening her eyes, Cindy held her hand out in Lindsay's direction.
"Gimme your gun."
Rule #4. Do not, ever, challenge Jill Bernhardt to any sort of alcohol related contest.
They'd spent hours reading through old books with yellowed, brittle pages. Cindy was tired and scared and bored and frustrated. She looked over at Claire. She had drifted off to sleep, her head resting against the arm of the couch, a book open on her lap. Cindy smiled.
Quietly she stood and stretched. Lindsay and Jill had taken a break and gone out onto the porch for some fresh air. Cindy decided to put on another pot of coffee. Nobody had said anything about calling it a night and she sure as hell wasn't going to be the first one.
She padded through to the kitchen and busied herself with the coffee-maker. Once it was happily dripping away, she set out four cups. Claire had no caramel syrup so she added an extra spoonful of sugar to Lindsay's. When she came to Jill's she paused. She couldn't remember how Jill took her coffee. Something told her it was black but she wasn't sure.
Oh well, easy remedy. She placed the spoon softly next to Jill's cup and headed to the backdoor, easing it open and peeking out. She was going to call Jill's name, but the sight that met her stole the words from her tongue.
Lindsay was leaning against the wall of the house. And Jill was leaning into Lindsay. Kissing her, actually. On the mouth. With vigour. One of Lindsay's hands moved to Jill's backside, her long fingers slipping into the pocket of Jill's tight jeans. The other hand was pushing the oversized shirt that Jill was wearing up her back until Lindsay's whole hand was splayed across translucent skin. Jill's hands were on Lindsay's face. Gentle and comforting. Tracing the strong jawbones and stroking dark eyebrows.
Cindy logged all of these details dispassionately, as if making notes for an article. It all felt like an out-of-body experience.
Jill pulled back slightly, rubbing her thumb across Lindsay's lower lip to compensate for the loss of contact. She leaned her forehead against Lindsay's.
"Nothing is gonna happen to you," Jill whispered, fiercely.
Lindsay's eyes closed. Cindy felt tears prickle at the back of her eyes.
"I won't let anything happen to you."
Lindsay nuzzled her face into Jill's neck. Jill turned so that she was speaking directly into Lindsay's ear.
"I love you."
Cindy decided that it was time to withdraw. She eased the door closed and tip-toed into the kitchen. She almost screamed when she saw Claire pouring the coffee.
"Sorry, I just I was just I uh "
Claire raised her eyebrows.
"They were kissin', huh?"
Cindy nodded mutely. Claire shook her head.
"I told them not to do that in my backyard. I got a teenager whose tiny mind would implode if he saw that in the flesh."
"Oh so it's not new?" Cindy asked, her voice a little higher than she would have liked it to be.
"No honey, not new."
Cindy nodded, a strange, empty feeling settling in her chest. She had no time to analyse it because the door opened and Jill and Lindsay came in. Cindy offered them her brightest smile.
Lindsay raised an eyebrow.
"You saw us."
Cindy did her best to look confused.
"Saw you? Saw you what?"
Jill shook her head, accepting the cup of coffee Claire offered her.
"Worst liar ever."
Cindy's mouth dropped open.
"But I didn't even say anything."
Claire and Lindsay headed back into the living-room. Jill rolled her eyes.
"You didn't have to. You suck."
Cindy started back towards the living-room but stopped when Jill put a hand on her shoulder. She turned to face the taller woman.
"Hey listen I'm sorry," Jill said, haltingly. She squeezed Cindy's shoulder and walked away, leaving Cindy alone in the dark kitchen. She smiled sadly.
"Yeah. Me too."
Rule #5. When Jill and Lindsay go out for some 'fresh air', do not follow.
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