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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Said It's The Nineties Kid
She changes her outfit twice.
The first a cardigan sweater and Mary Janes make her look like she's in first grade and she only glances at herself for less than two seconds before storming back into the closet. She checks her reflection again and sighs under her breath: in a paisley colored shirt, she looks like a fourth grader.
At least I'm moving up, she says to herself.
She decides on a white, collared shirt, her graywhitebrown vest and some simple black pants.
She hopes she looks like a reporter.
Or, at the very least, older than twelve.
"Oh God, this is ridiculous," she mutters as she grabs her pocketbook, and heads to the door.
She stops herself from opening it three times.
She starts the car three times too (thinks about shutting it off a fourth time) before she even gets out of the driveway.
This is so not a good idea.
"This is so not a good idea," she repeats out loud. The silence in the car answers her; agrees with her. She fumbles with the radio and winces, because it's flashback weekend appropriately.
"All the songs you requested / You're dancing like you're naked / Oh, it's almost like we're sexing (oh yeah) / Yeah boo, I like it." She resists singing along, not wanting to admit that the local R&B station was her late night vice.
The drive feels like nothing and before she even realizes it, she's putting on her blinker and pulling into the hotel parking lot.
"I'm a reporter. I am successful. I'm a reporter. I am successful," she repeats, over and over under her breath. "I'm successful."
She gets to the door and turns around.
"I can't do this," she exclaims as a slim hand wraps around her upper arm, stopping her in the doorway of the door before the grand ballroom.
"We talked about this "
Cindy interrupts. "You talked about this. I said no. You were the one who sent back the RSVP, not me. I wanted to stay home, watch the tube, have a few beers, maybe even see the girls, but no. You thought this would be funny."
"It will be."
The redhead turns so fast some hair ends up sticking to her (clear) lip gloss and she has to take an embarrassing moment to pick the fine pieces off her bottom lip. "No, it won't be. I look ridiculous."
"You look cute."
Cindy frowns and glares out from under her bangs. "Cute? Cute? You're not supposed to say I look cute. You're supposed to say 'Cindy, God, you look hot.' That's what you're supposed to say."
"Well excuse me Ms. Lane, but I'm not prepared to deal with your emotional disaster right now, because oh my God." Cindy turns again slower this time and even she can't help but stare.
"Is that "
"Jack Davis, in the flesh," Deak says under his breath. Cindy watches as Jack the former Glory-boy himself strides past them without even so much as blinking and even she can't stop her eyes from following him as he moves.
"Deak. Deak. Deak." Finally, but only after she elbows him in the side (refusing to admit, even to herself, that she needs to stand on her tip toes in her heels to even reach his ribcage), does he turn around and stares her down all 6'2'' of him.
"What? I can stare, it's a free country." Cindy puts on hand on a jutted hip and swears to God, if Deak wasn't her best friend since high school, she'd leave him here, in the middle of Fresno County without a ride back to San Francisco. But as it was as it is he's her original Will to her Grace and for that she'll always love him even if he can't keep it in his pants metaphorically whenever some blond comes around "strutting his stuff."
"I can," he insists. "Oh, don't do that Doe Eyes."
Cindy blinks, unaware that she even started staring at him like he kicked her puppy.
"So here's the plan: we go in, smile, have a few drinks, and get out of here. If we manage our time well enough, we can even watch the 49ers on the comfort of my own couch," she tells him.
He only scoffs. "Your Cindy-sized couch that I don't fit on?"
"Well then you can sit on the floor."
"Can we just go inside now?" He slings an arm around her shoulders and guides her back towards the door. "And you know what? As soon as I get Jack to admit that he spent four years of high school hopelessly in love with me, we can get out of here."
She snorts and let's herself be moved across the carpeted lobby and through the doors.
And it's a goddamn flashback.
"God, 'Under The Sea' is such a tacky prom theme," she mutters under her breath.
"Yeah, but its prom. It's supposed to be tacky. It's, like, a requirement." Cindy turns to her date a stocky AV guy with his hair parted to one side and a baby blue cummerbund wrapped around his waist. In her mind, she gives him credit for making an attempt to match her navy knee-length dress.
"It's just, we couldn't think of anything else?"
He shrugs. "The class voted."
She turns to look around the room and tries not to roll her eyes. The entire room is bathed in blue light, streamers hanging off the walls and off the ceiling. A giant wooden wave shrouded the stage and behind it, the band the kids who play in the garage a couple houses away from hers strums their guitars like ten-year-olds, like they're just learning their chords.
"Someone stuffed the ballot then," she mutters under her breath.
"Cindy!" Her frown fades as soon as Deak calls her name, and she feels her date groan.
"Hey Deak." She looks behind him. "Where's your date?"
"I figured, Senior Prom? Why not go stag?" Cindy smiles.
"You didn't even ask him, did you, you chicken-shit." He rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest. "My God Deak, you're all talk and no action, aren't you?"
"Cindy can we go sit down now?" Jason's already got his arm around her waist and he's already glaring at Deak. "We're going to lose our spot if we don't."
Cindy raises an eyebrow and then winks at Deak before she slides into Jason's embrace and moves through the throng of people.
It's going to be a long night, she thinks as sits down. A long night.
The room is just like Prom; all blues and waves and it looks like there's a model ship on the punch table.
"Look at that, Jason Duggan is spiking the punch already," Deak points out with amusement in his voice because Jason waited all of five minutes after sitting her down at the table before he sidled over to the punch bowl and dumped a half a bottle of vodka in it. She doesn't bother trying to see, because she's just too short and she doesn't want to make a fool of herself.
"Cindy? Cindy Thomas? Is that you?" Cindy's entire body goes tense at the sound of that voice. She paints on a wide grin and turns, plastic smile in place.
"Pam! How nice to see you!"
"Yeah, right," Deak mutters under his breath.
"Cindy Thomas, look at you. You look adorable!" Pam grabs her by the shoulders and leans in real close and it's all Cindy can do not to gag on the smell of flowery perfume. Pam Clark hasn't aged since high school (Botox, she thinks), which means she looks like a teenager wearing her mother's clothes. "Well, what have you been doing since high school? Oh God, didn't you go to UCSF? What was it like? Did you have a boyfriend? Are you married? Are you dating?" She takes a breath and before Cindy can open her mouth, she starts back up again. "Do you have kids? Do you want kids? Do you know any drag queens? What do you do for a living? What "
"Whoa, calm down Pam." Cindy tries to smile sympathetically. "How 'bout we take it one question at a time, huh?"
"Actually, Cindy and I were just on our way to get something to drink, so we'll meet up with you later, alright Pam?" Deak her savior explains before he all but pushes her in the direction of refreshments.
"Maybe you were right about staying back in San Francisco," Deak mumbles under his breath. "I swear, that girl "
"That girl? She's not a girl, she's a demon stuck in a middle-aged woman's body. She's always been a demon."
Deak smiles widely. "Oh that's right. She made your life a little difficult in high school, didn't she?"
Cindy leans her shoulders back in disgust. "Difficult? Difficult? She made it hell. Absolute, terrible hell. She tortured me and taunted me and had me regretting the day I was born at least four different times over the years."
"Oh come on Cin, it couldn't have been that bad." Cindy' eyebrows shoot upward so high that Deak can't even see them anymore.
"You're right, it wasn't bad. It was awful." She pauses and takes a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. "She kissed me once," she says nonchalantly.
Now Deak is the one pulling back, eyes wide. "Excuse me? She kissed you?! And you didn't tell me? When did this happen? How did this happen?"
Cindy shrugs. "She cornered me after Bio, senior year, and asked me what it was like to kiss a girl, nothing too big."
"Nothing too big? She kissed you!" He shivers with a grimace. "I can't believe that. Gross."
"Tell me about it," she says with a laugh.
"Speaking of girls kissing girls, how's "
Cindy glares at him, cutting him off. "Oh don't you even start with me."
Deak puts his hands up in mock surrender. "I'm just wondering, because you haven't said anything about her. At all."
"Yeah well, there's not much to say. Why do you think I brought you as my date to this thing?"
"I brought you, not the other way around," Deak says, a hand on his hip. "And you still haven't told me why you didn't bring her. I thought that was your plan: bring your delicious lady friend, show her off, and prove once to everyone here that you're not the mousy little redhead from high school. What happened to that?"
"Yeah, well, plans don't always work, do they?" Cindy grabs a cup of punch and downs it quickly, then grabs another.
"Wanna slow down there Champ? We've got a long ride back." Cindy ignores him and downs the second glass.
"She thought that me, trying to prove that I'm better than I was in high school, was childish."
Deak lets out a bark of laughter. "Aww, don't pout. You don't look adorable when you pout."
Cindy's shoulders tense and she grimaces. "Why does everyone use the word adorable to describe me? I'm not adorable. I'm a vixen. I'm grown. I'm old enough to start thinking about a midlife crisis. I'm hot and grown up and I am not childish."
"Touchy subject?" Deak asks with a smirk.
Cindy's head drops. "That obvious?"
"Only to everyone here."
"Yeah, well you should have heard the fight we had. It was loud," Cindy admitted sheepishly.
"Hey Class of '99! It's me, your class President, Josh Tyler, and I'd like to thank you for coming to our 10 year class reunion!" Cindy sighs and rolls her eyes heavily.
"Guess we can't leave now, can we?" Deak only smiles. "The party is just getting started."
"And you know what? She's childish. If I even mention her spending the night at my place in advance, or the other way around, she freaks out and ignores my phone calls for two days. That's why we fought about this this stupid reunion. Because if she came with me, I'd have to introduce her to people, and they would assume she's my girlfriend." Cindy lets out a frustrated sigh. "Which, apparently, she isn't."
"She's not?" Deak asks, one ear focused on Josh "The Titan" Tyler's welcome speech. He suddenly turns. "Wait. She's not?"
Cindy sighs. "No, I guess not. At least, that's what she said when I told her why I wanted her to come. She looked at me and said 'When I went to my 10 year reunion, I didn't bring the girl I was casually sleeping with.'"
"Uh she's what? Class of '92?" Deak thinks hard for a minute. "Didn't you say that's when she was sleeping with tall, dark, and brooding?"
The redhead turns because she'd been drifting her attention to the stage during Deak's silence to look at her best friend with a hard glare. "Yeah. She was," she says tightly.
Cindy waits for more. It doesn't come. "'Hmmm' what?"
"I just thought from the way you talked about her that she meant more to you than that."
" So everyone grab a drink its open bar and slap on your name tags. Let's relive the best four years of our lives!" Josh exclaims, his voice booming over the sound system.
Deak's frown visibly brightens. "Open bar! I knew there was a reason we came here."
"So, Cindy, tell us." Pam stares at her expectantly over her dirty martini.
Cindy only gives a smile and shrugs. "Tell you what exactly?"
"All about," Pam glances around the room quickly before leaning in close. "Living in San Francisco," she finishes in a whisper. "You know, where everyone's gay."
"Oh dear," Deak mutters into his drink.
"Well," Pam says excitedly. "I mean, look at you Deacon Marsden. You're the gayest man I know, and Cindy here, well, did she tell you she kissed me? Oh, she did. In biology one day, she just kissed me and walked away like it was nothing."
"I think you've had one too many martini's," Cindy grumbles.
"Oh, you've grown up so much little Cindy Thomas. I mean, gosh. I remember when Cody Nolan told you that you were just so cute. So cute he couldn't date you!" Pam cocks her head to the left a little. "I don't understand that."
"Oh, and remember how you always carried that Holly Hobbie notebook around with you, and your wrote down everything about everybody? Oh, and you used to wear those cute little sweater vest oh. You still do," Pam says with a giggle.
Cindy thinks that if Pam says "Oh," one more time, someone is going to get a drink tossed in her face.
"She does still wear sweater vests, doesn't she?" Deak repeats with a wide grin in Cindy's direction.
"Well, she always did look adorable in them, you know. She would wear her hair in little pigtails and her glasses she was the cutest thing in the world." Pam swung her drink in the air. "And she was just oh."
That's it, Cindy thinks to herself, half rising out of her seat to give Pam a piece of her mind, but then Deak says "oh" and she can't stop herself from turning around.
Jill smirks at her and pushes her bangs back behind her ear with one slender finger.
"Is that the word of the day or something?" She places one hand on her perfect hip.
"What are you what is I don't what?" Cindy tries to push the words out of her mouth.
And Jill, goddamn her, just smirks even more and ignores that Janet Jackson is blaring as background noise and the Fresno County Class of 1998 is boring a hole into the back of her head.
"I'm assuming the invitation still stands?"
And Cindy's knees almost buckle. But not quite, because there's still some damaged pride and ego to remember. "What invitation? I don't remember any invitation. Do you Deak? Do you remember an invitation."
Deak has the decency to look awkward. "And that's my cue," he says, grabbing a gawking Pam by the elbow and leading her away.
"Jason Duggan!" Pam calls out.
"Cindy," Jill says in a sigh; her lawyer sigh; the sigh that says "really? are we really going to play these games?"
"Don't you 'Cindy' me Jill Bernhardt. Don't you dare 'Cindy' me."
"If you'd let me explain "
But Cindy cuts her off. "Explain what? How you basically put me back in your 'twelve-year-old' column? How we're 'casually sleeping' with each other? By the way," Cindy asks with a angry smirk. "I've been meaning to ask you, are there some set of rules we have to follow, you know, now that we've established that we're 'casually sleeping' together?"
The redhead grabs the closest bystander Allison Danon, senior class nerd, present day geek and pulls the woman into the conversation area. "Allison, hi. Remember we had Calculus together? Well, anyway. I'd like you to meet Jill Bernhardt. She's an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco and my fuck buddy. Jill, this is Allison. We went to high school together." Cindy smiles brightly.
Recovering first, Jill puts her hand forward gracefully and gives a soft, reassuring smile to Allison. "Pleasure."
Allison nods and before Cindy can stop her, takes enough steps away so that she's out of the other woman's reach.
"Cindy, just listen to "
"I'm sorry; did you need something from me?" Cindy's voice is sugary-sweet.
"How about you let me finish a goddamn sentence?"
"You just did. I'll see you later, okay? I think I'm going to go see what Jason is up to. He was my prom date forever ago, and if I remember correctly, he owes me a little something." Cindy makes it two steps before Jill's hand grabs her bicep and it's a lighter tug than Deak; a smaller hand and more gentle, but a tug nonetheless.
It's enough of a plea to make Cindy stop, but she doesn't turn to face Jill. "I'm sor I'm I I'm "
Cindy throws a glance back at Jill over her shoulder. "You can't even make yourself apologize."
"I'm sorry," the blond says defiantly.
"And what are you apologizing for?" Cindy crosses her arms over her chest and tries her best to channel Denise.
"For being an asshole." Cindy snorts.
"Well, that's specific."
"It's a defense mechanism. You said 'reunion' and all I could picture was being introduced as the girlfriend and, clearly, as demonstrated previously, I don't do commitment well," Jill points out, running one hand through her short hair.
"I wasn't asking for your commitment. I didn't ask you to come with my so I could show you off. I mean," Cindy sighs and tries to ignore the 400 odd people milling around her. "I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't have been fun to show people that 'hey! did you see the hottie Cindy Thomas scored?' because that would actually be something to throw back in a lot of people's faces. But, Jesus Jill, I just wanted you to come with me and make fun of my senior picture and just be my friend."
"It's not like I expect much from you anyway," Cindy mutters under her breath.
"What? You said it yourself, you don't do commitment, it's just who you are," Cindy offers simply.
And for reasons Cindy can't explain, Jill looks pissed-off. "Did you ever maybe think that I just haven't found the right person yet."
Now Cindy lets out a small bark of laughter. "Seriously? Seriously? Jill, get a grip." Cindy steels herself. "Let me tell you how this argument ends: you're going to be offended that I called you on your shit, and you're going to say something snarky maybe how I look all of ten and a half in this outfit, or how I'm secretly pining away after Lindsay, but sleeping with you isn't going to get me closer to her and I'm going to get pissed off about it. Then I'm going to storm off and get in my car and drive back to San Francisco and get drunk and complain to Claire, and you're going to so the same thing, just you're going to complain to Lindsay. After that, we'll ignore each other while working on cases and eventually, I'll end up taking a job offer one of the many that I've been offered in my time and move away and you'll find the next warm body. Rinse and repeat."
"Go to hell Cindy Thomas," Jill says through gritted teeth.
Cindy leans in close and smirks something she's done too much of today. "You and me both, baby."
She doesn't regret everything she said until she gets to her car; until she slides into the driver's seat and presses her forehead to the steering wheel.
"Goddamn. Idiot," she punctuates each word by hitting her head on the wheel.
It's not that Jill is her first girlfriend or whatever they are were it's just that she meant the most so far. And it hurt.
She puts the car in drive and gets back on the highway, listening only to the silence and the rush of the cars coming at her. When she pulls up in front of her apartment building, she can't help but be a little disappointed that Jill didn't race to get here; race to save whatever it was they had.
She remembers what she told Jill: "I'll end up taking a job offer and move away and you'll find the next warm body."
Jill will probably find someone else; she'll probably move.
Her phone rings in the middle of the night and she doesn't know what it is at first. Deak whose taken to sleeping on her couch since the reunion, because he's afraid she's going to cry herself to sleep (not that she hasn't gotten good at silently bawling into her pillow) snores loudly in the background, but she manages to fumble with the tiny piece of metal before pulling it to her ear.
"What?" she barks into the mouthpiece.
"How many job offers did you get?" It takes Cindy more than a moment to get oriented and to realize that Jill who she hasn't even looked at in two weeks is calling her at three seventeen in the morning.
"How many job offers did you get?" Jill repeats, slowly and clearly.
"Uh seven. And one start-up job." She rolls over to stare at the ceiling. "It's three in the morning."
"Did you say 'yes' to any of them?"
Cindy sighs and lets her eyes droop shut. "Jill "
"Because I've been sleeping alone for two weeks now, and I was wondering, if you're not going to take any of those jobs, why you're still not here." The blond sounds like a little kid who doesn't understand why she can't have something, just because she wants it. And Cindy almost wants to kiss her for that.
"We're fighting, that's why."
"Well, can we stop?"
Cindy sighs again and she can picture Jill sitting up in bed, rolling her eyes. Jill always rolls her eyes; always makes her feel like she's incompetent.
But then she kisses Cindy's frown away and then
Cindy shakes her head. "No."
There's a pause and Cindy can only imagine that Jill is staring at the phone, like she does sometimes after Denise calls and says something absolutely ridiculous.
"I'm waiting for the punch line," Jill says after too much silence.
"There isn't one."
She feels the gust of wind before she realizes anyone is in the house, because the nights haven been cool lately and the hallways of her apartment building are drafty. Jill's silhouette blocks some of the light streaming into her living room/kitchenette from the outside world, and Cindy just sits in bed, holding the phone to her ear dumbly, just staring at Jill standing in her doorway; Jill, who broke into her apartment.
"What did you say?" Cindy hears herself asking.
Jill huffs and takes a step into the room. "I said that you were being ridiculous, not to be confused with childish, and that you should move over so that I can get under the covers, because it's seriously freezing in this room, and I'm not appropriately dressed."
"I don't sleep on floors."
"Don't you have a bed, in your own apartment?" Jill just continues to stand in front of the doorway, not saying anything until, finally, Cindy sighs and lifts the corner of the comforter just slightly. She barely blinks before Jill's lithe body is nestled next to hers and for a brief second she forgets to be angry and wonders why she didn't have Jill in her bed earlier than this, because it's much warmer with another body beside her.
Jill wraps her limbs around Cindy's frame and presses her face into the back of Cindy's neck, placing butterfly kisses on the smooth skin. Cindy lets herself get lost for a minute before she turns and puts her hand against Jill's mouth, stopping her.
"We're still fighting."
"Uh huh," Jill mumbles, burrowing further into the mattress.
"And I'm still pissed at you."
"So don't think that I've forgiven you."
Jill smirks. "Wouldn't dream of it."
"I just wanted to make sure you knew that."
"Trust me, I've got it."
"And you shouldn't expect "
"Cindy." This time its Jill putting her entire hand over Cindy's mouth, stopping the redhead's words in her throat. "Could you just go to sleep now?"
Cindy clears her throat when Jill lets her go and shrugs, trying for nonchalant. "Whatever you want Jill."
Silence settles upon them and Cindy can only focus hyper-aware on the way Jill's breath moves in a wisp across her cheek. She feels uncomfortable, lying stock-still in her own bed, and then Jill's arm moves casually to loop around her waist, and Jill's breath is moving over her entire face now and it just feels
Right. It feels right.
"Forgive me yet?" Jill asks, her voice light with amusement.
Cindy scoffs dramatically and turns over so that her back is to Jill but it's really only so that Jill can wrap both arms around her better and smirks to herself.
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