DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Misty Flores
When Jill told her she suspected that Cindy Thomas, the newest addition to their club that wasn't a club, had a crush on her, Lindsay told her she was insane.
Jill, wearing that knowing smirk she liked to put on when she thought she had something on her, simply crossed her arms and deferred to Claire, who at the moment had her hands buried deep into the abdomen of their latest murder victim.
"Oh, it's a complete crush," Claire confirmed, never looking up. "Now shut up, or I'm never going to find this bullet."
"Cindy does not have a crush on me," Lindsay muttered, unprepared to let this go.
"And why would you say that?"
"Because she's..." Raising a finger to brush a black lock of hair out of her face, Lindsay shifted on her booted heels. "Twelve."
"She's twenty-six and that's not a good reason," Jill retorted. When Claire grumbled again, Lindsay took a step back, eyes narrowing as she monitored the progress. "Give me another one."
"A fact that's hardly debated."
"We don't know that for sure."
"Oh for heaven's-" Hands on her hips, Lindsay finally gave her friend her full attention. "Don't go all lawyer on me about this. Cindy does not have a crush on me. She works the crime desk. We have a professional relationship."
"There are plenty of other male homicide detectives who would be more than happy to have a relationship with a hot young reporter." Mouth curling up, Jill crossed her arms in amused contemplation. "Who knows. Maybe it's just sort of misguided hero worship," she mused. "But it could be a crush. And you're blind if you don't see it."
"I don't see it," she snapped, moving closer to Claire to get a better look at the flash of metal coming out of the body between forceps.
"Then you're blind," Claire interjected, lifting her head up. "And stop hovering or you don't get your evidence."
Cindy Thomas, shirt rumpled and vest unbuttoned, abandoned formality around midnight, and now had slunk into Lindsay's couch, one hand buried in Martha's fur as the dog laid his big head on her lap, the other holding her glasses between her fingertips, rubbing at her eyes with the back of her palm.
She didn't look comfortable, but she did look... settled.
At the observation, Lindsay, taking a break from the dozens of badly organized accounting files that she hoped contained proof that her suspect had been paid to kill her victim, felt a tinge of panicked uneasiness.
"You have a boyfriend, right?"
Unsure what to make of the blurted question, Cindy shot her a confused frown. "You mean right now?"
"Sure." Gripping at her wine, Lindsay took a hearty swallow.
Bewildered, her friend tugged on the lapel of her button shirt, squinting as she rubbed her glasses. "It's four am on a Monday morning. You called me and I was actually available to go through your tax receipts. I'm not exactly whoring it up."
"So that's a no."
"That's a no," Cindy confirmed, and looked embarrassed about it. "Why do you ask?" she asked suddenly.
"See, here's the thing," Lindsay began, determined to get this out in the open and nipped in the bud. "Jill has this crazy notion that you have a crush on me."
Despite the fact that Cindy wasn't actually eating or drinking anything, she erupted into a harsh cough, face flushing with exertion as she nearly pushed Martha off the couch. Hacking, Cindy tried to recover, hands on her chest. "I'm sorry?"
"But she's crazy, right?" Lindsay continued. Now that she had put it out there, it sounded really really dumb. Still, it was too late to take it back, and Lindsay always was one to soldier on. "Because if it's true, then we gotta cut that out."
"We do," Cindy repeated, bright eyes dulled, mouth set in a confused frown.
"We do," she repeated firmly, shoving aside Martha and sandwiching the dog between them as she settled on the couch. Bright, brilliant eyes stared at her, and she took a deep breath, trying to keep her head clear. "Because... there's an age difference, first of all. And we work together. We have a working relationship. And... you're twelve, for Chrissake!"
"I'm not twelve."
"-Not to mention the whole we're straight females thing, which I shouldn't take for granted. I mean, I shouldn't assume. Not that I want to pry. You are straight, aren't you?"
Cindy looked down at her hands. "Well, there was this girl in college-"
Wasn't there always?
"Right of course there was, but that doesn't mean that -"
"-that I was with for three years," Cindy finished.
The meaning of that particular revelation was not lost on her, despite the fact that it took a while to sink in. Suddenly unable to come up with a coherent response, Lindsay could only feel the heat on her cheeks as blood rushed to her face in embarrassment.
Searching for something to do, and feeling light headed, she opted for another gulp of wine.
"The correct term is bi-sexual," the little reporter continued, perching her glasses back on her nose, looking vibrant and very much like Lois Lane. "I didn't know if it was appropriate to mention it, what with our new tentative working relationship. Also, the subject never came up."
"And look... whatever Jill picked up on... I would lie if I said there wasn't an attraction, because... hello - I'm not exactly blind and you're ... totally attractive. But my career means a lot to me and I really need this partnership with you. So nothing personal but I would never... I mean... I never even really thought about you and I..."
Lindsay's shoulders slumped, and she stared into her glass of wine. "Right," and then winced at the way that sounded. "I mean, that's great. Just so it's all out in the open, and... no crush. Jill's crazy."
"Well, that goes without saying," Cindy agreed, nodding mechanically.
"Claire noticed it too?!"
"But it doesn't matter!" Lindsay interrupted, suddenly hot and flushed all over. "Because you don't have a crush on me. We're ... friends. No sexual tension at all. And you're still twelve."
"Okay, why do you keep saying that?! I'm not twelve!" Cindy snapped, indignant at the infantilization. "I'm twenty-six! I can rent a car!"
"Right. Do you actually remember Drive-Ins?"
Without warning, Lindsay Boxer leaned over Martha and pressed a kiss against the twelve-year-old reporter's mouth.
As first kisses went, it was surprisingly chaste. Lips clung softly, no real sudden movement. Just soft and smooth and nice. Eyes fluttered shut involuntarily.
Cindy squeaked, and then it was over.
Dark eyes burst open. A low, sinking feeling settled into her stomach, and Lindsay looked into a surprised, nearly horrified expression.
"Shit," Lindsay breathed. "Sorry," she managed, into a thick, awful silence.
"You know what? It's late. I should go." Cindy was already gathering her coat and her purse.
"We'll pick this up tomorrow- wait-" There was a tight-lipped smile. "I meant the case. Not the ... you know."
"Yeah, you know... we don't ever have to talk about... that other thing," Lindsay managed, lost in her own miserable embarrassment. "Ever. Again."
Cindy stared at her. "Okay," she said quickly, and then nearly tripped over Martha in her haste to get out of the living room and away from her.
"I hate you," Lindsay affirmed to her best friend, leaning into the Assistant District Attorney's office.
"Nice words for a Monday morning," Jill said, looking up from her desk and offering her a smile. "And how was your weekend?"
"I told Cindy to nip her non-existent crush on me in the bud and then I kissed her. On the mouth."
The grin widened. "I know. She called me. So you're kissing girls now? I thought she was twelve."
"I really do hate you."
"Is this part of your whole 'I'm over Tom' thing or just a rehash of that time you and I got really drunk and made out?"
Oh, God. Eyes rolling up to the ceiling, Lindsay didn't resist the urge to offer her friend a pointed middle finger. "That was a one-time thing. I was miserable because of my failed marriage and that has nothing to do with this. "
"I think she liked it."
"I think you need to stop!" Lindsay growled, "And I want a warrant on this guy-"
"Already on it," Jill confirmed, holding up the requisite paper work. "I need details."
Lindsay flushed deeply. "I need a warrant," she snapped back, and escaped from the office.
A red-head with a purse and glasses was hanging out by her desk, as she tended to do on Monday mornings.
Lindsay told herself that, as always, this was a little annoying, but she was perfectly fine with it.
Cindy offered a tentative smile and a short wave. "Hi, listen - about that thing we're not supposed to discuss-"
"Please tell me we're not discussing it," she said in a low voice, eyes darting around the station as she walked up close to her, cheeks suddenly flaming again. "And you discussed it with Jill?!"
"I panicked!" Cindy insisted, too loud for her liking. "And it wasn't in the rules that I couldn't discuss it with her."
"That's a technicality."
"I'm a reporter. I thrive on technicalities."
Despite the awkwardness of the moment, that at least, managed to get a smile. "What are you doing here?"
"I may have something," Cindy said, and handed her a paper she shrugged out of her bag. "After I left your place I couldn't sleep... obviously," she said, casting a nervous glance in her direction. Lindsay once again felt a hot flush of embarrassment. "But... I was thinking about the case... and... I have a new angle. Paypal."
"Paypal?" she repeated.
"This is the internet age, isn't it?" Cindy confirmed. "You say the guy didn't leave a paper trail? What about an internet trail?"
"I found an ad." Unfolding the paper, she held it open for her to see. "Did you know that there were message boards and chat rooms dedicated to the subtle art of assassination?"
"No, but of course you did," Lindsay breathed, taking the paper from her friend to read quickly through the ad.
"It's a lead, right?" Cindy sounded hopeful and excited and Lindsay hated that it was infectious.
"It's a good lead," she agreed. "I'll get this to Jill. See if we can get a search warrant to go through our guy's computer for this paypal alias."
"Already did," Cindy grinned. "It's fun to be a part of the club."
"Well, it's fun having you," she admitted, and then noticed a blond with short hair making her way through the bullpen, looking entirely too interested in what the two of them were discussing. "Don't you have work to do or something?" she snapped at Cindy, hoping to get her on her way before her nosy friend got to them.
"I am working," Cindy responded, momentarily confused.
"Hi, guys!" Coming between them, Jill's smile only grew wider. "Watcha doing?"
"Doing our jobs," Lindsay growled. "Wanna do yours?"
Crossing her arms, Jill's head moved back and forth between them. "I am," she said smugly, holding up the warrant. "Here you go."
"Great," Lindsay growled, plucking it from her hands. "Thanks."
Eyes darting from her to Cindy and back again, Jill only nodded. "Of course. And what are we talking about?"
The moment invited strained silence.
"Well, I'm going to get going," Cindy announced, and Lindsay sighed in relief, watching as Cindy shouldered her bag and backed away from the desk. "I'll talk to you both later."
Against her will, Lindsay watched her go, until she was jostled by a bony shoulder. "So, how'd it go?"
"Don't start," she said automatically, and began to walk away, making sure to head in the opposite direction. "Don't follow me!" she tossed over her head, and of course she was ignored.
"So? Did you talk about it? Did she tell you she liked it? Because she told me she liked it," Jill chirped, falling into an easy pace behind her, like an annoying puppy.
Sometimes, she hated working in the same building as her best friend.
It was midnight, and Lindsay was exhausted. Her shirt was rusted red with blood, her jeans were stained with grease and she smelled of sweat, thanks to an impromptu sting that had gone bad when their suspect had decided to try to take himself and the entire police squad out rather than give himself up.
Jacobi had suffered a burn on his arm, but it was their suspect who had gotten the worst of it: in the form of Lindsay's complete loss of self control, as she launched on top of him.
Ambulance sirens ringing in her ears, she found she was limping slightly as she approached her car, and discovered a nosy red-head reporter standing with a note pad waiting for her beside it.
Step's faltering, Lindsay was disconcerted to realize she actually cared she was stinky and dirty and smelly.
"I didn't want to distract you," Cindy offered, in the quiet that followed. "You and Jill and Claire looked pretty busy-"
"Since when has that stopped you?" she noted, and Cindy's lips quirked in response, head bowing in acceptance.
"Can I run the story?" she asked, not subtle at all.
Lindsay sighed, and regarded her. "Yes, you can run the story." Eyes locked, and when she felt the shiver run down her back, Lindsay glanced away, groaning to herself. "Look about that thing we're not mentioning."
"Yeah." Cindy sounded breathless.
"I don't usually I don't make a habit of sexually harassing my contacts," she began, and when Cindy's eyelid's lowered, her shoulders slumped. "Or my friends," she added, gentler now. An obscure expression flicked on Cindy's face, and Lindsay thought she saw a hint of a smile. "I'm sorry."
Apologizing was always tough for her. She wasn't used to doing it, and somehow, she knew Cindy sensed it. And even enjoyed it a little.
"Well okay then." Cindy finally sighed, fingering a loose bang and pushing it behind her ear. She nodded mechanically. "I should write my story now."
"Yeah. I should take a shower," Boxer said, to herself more than anyone, when she realized with some horror and a wrinkling nose that there really was a putrid odor in the air and it was her.
Her friend continued to stare at her, lower lip held in place by gleaming white teeth.
"As long as we're not discussing it " One, two steps towards her and Lindsay still didn't believe Cindy would actually do it, until small fingers reached up and latched to the back of her neck, and pulled down.
When firm lips clung to her mouth, she gasped in surprise, and then the swipe of a cool tongue brushed against her teeth, sinking deeper. Her reaction was instinctive, as her head tilted and her eyes closed, mouth opening against the gentle assault of lips and tongue and teeth, and arms closing around the other woman's waist, pulling her in closer.
When the soft, willing mouth finally parted from hers, she felt hot breath against her lips, heard the short, excited pants, and felt the rise and fall of breasts settled just below her. It was heightened sensation; it was all desirable, and she wanted more of it. Her mind swum with the implications.
Eyes locking intensely with her own, Cindy offered her a crooked grin. "Figured that as long as we weren't talking about it I could get away with that."
"Well as long as we're not talking about it," she agreed, and smiled against her better judgment.
"Well I should write my story. And you really need to shower," Cindy remarked, squeezing her shoulder with her free hand, before they untangled slowly. "Thanks again for the scoop."
Fingers lingered, shoulders brushed against each other and then Cindy was on her way, offering one parting smile before she disappeared into the darkness of the parking lot.
Breathless, Lindsay closed her eyes and tried to shake her dizzying thoughts back into place.
"Ahem." The foreign voice interjected into the silent moment caused her to jerk her head up, to discover two friends standing side by side, stepping out of the shadows to smirk grandly at her. "I thought she was twelve," Claire finished.
Beside Claire, Jill wore the biggest shit-eating grin she had ever seen.
Slumping against the car, Lindsay slapped her palm to her face.
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