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.
One More Time
Cindy braced herself and entered the precinct with her head held high, as the bumbling girl beside her tried to keep up. Papers were falling out of the other girls arms, and she tried to pick them up, but couldn't without dropping everything left in her arms.
"Uh, Cindy. Could you help me, please." With a huff, Cindy turned and shot a glare at the younger woman before gathering the offensive papers with one sweep. The girl gave her a grateful smile, but Cindy was a woman on a mission and she missed it as she plowed through the Monday morning chaos of the precinct. She clutched her purse tighter and her stride grew more confident as she approached Lindsay Boxer's desk. The brunette was sitting at her desk with her feet propped up on the wood tabletop, a coffee in her hand and bags under her eyes. Jill was perched on the edge of the desk, her eyes following the redhead's movements.
"Jill Bernhart, the A.D.A. Yeah." Cindy finished the girl's sentence with a sigh.
"She's..." Cindy cut her off with a glare.
"Pretty awe-inspiring, I know." Jill flashed Cindy a smile and the reporter couldn't help but smile back. Her eyes drifted to Lindsay and Cindy felt her willpower slip a little more with each second they maintained eye contact. She steeled herself, taking a deep breath and the final steps.
"Hey Cindy-Lou," Jill grinned at her own joke. "And company."
"Hey Jill. This is Sarah. She's interning at the paper." Cindy helped Sarah rearrange her pile of papers. "Sarah this is Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt. And that's Inspector Boxer," Cindy said dismissively, waving a hand in the general direction of Lindsay, ignoring Jill's attempt to hide a smirk.
"You can call me Lindsay," the Inspector said with a smile, putting her feet on the floor and extending her hand. The blonde intern at her side was grinning like a fool, blushing profusely.
"You can call me Sarah."
"Sure thing," Lindsay said coolly, giving the intern a wink. Cindy rolled her eyes in Jill's direction, while inside she was ready to break down and take Lindsay into her arms. The lawyer just smiled in return and motioned for the redhead to step aside. Sneaking a look at Sarah, she saw the young girl falling over herself as the raven-haired Inspector engaged her in conversation.
"So, this thing with Lindsay still isn't working out?"
Cindy gave Jill a skeptical look, keeping one eye on the Inspector. Sarah was leaning over the wood desk, staring at something on the computer screen, standing exceptionally close to Lindsay. "I'm not sure what you're talking about. We're getting along fine."
"Word has it that you haven't spoken in a few weeks, not directly at least." Jill leaned in and lowered her voice. "She told me the whole story you know. And for the record, I told her what a first class asshole she was being about everything."
Cindy rolled her eyes. "Thanks for the support Jill." The lawyer pulled back and whacked the reporter softly on the arm, gaining the attention of Sarah. "Ow. Jill."
"Cindy, what time did we need to be back to the Register?" Sarah's annoying pitch cut through the Cindy-And-Jill-Goof-Off haze both the professionals had fallen under. Cindy blinked and racked her brain.
"Uh, twenty minutes why?"
The intern snuck a look at the Inspector lounging on her desk, a smirk etched into her face. "I'm going for coffee then. I'll be back in a few minutes." With that, Sarah turned on her heel and threw a smile in Lindsay's direction. The Inspector pushed off her desk and followed, while Cindy looked on in disgust and horror.
"Are you kidding me? Did you just see that?" Cindy was glad to see that Jill looked just as disgusted as she did.
"That was a pretty low blow," Jill agreed, nodding her head. Cindy dropped to Lindsay's empty chair in defeat and couldn't pull her eyes away from the swinging doors the Inspector had just passed through.
"It's okay you know," Jill said softly. Cindy's head snapped to attention, painfully facing the blonde lawyer.
"Hey, I agree. Whatever Lindsay wants to do is totally her business, even if it is with a two-bit, slut, reporter wanna-be." Cindy's voice rose in intensity at the end of her sentence.
"Well, that wasn't what I was talking about, but I'm glad you feel that way?" Jill raised an eyebrow in amusement. Cindy looked down sheepishly and muttered a greeting to an officer who walked by.
"I was going to say, it's okay that you're in love with her." Cindy looked up sharply, again, and winced.
"I'm not," she demanded hotly, quickly.
The blonde beside her scoffed and tussled her hair. "Sure you aren't honey."
Cindy glared at everything but Jill. "I'm not." She said again, softer.
"Well, I'm not sure if she told you, but she really does feel horrible about everything she did. I mean it too," Jill pressed on when she saw Cindy open her mouth to protest. "She cried you know, all night, after you kicked her out of your apartment."
Ten minutes later, a smirking Sarah came strutting through the double doors, Lindsay behind her. The Inspector had her hands shoved into her pockets and she smiled nervously at her two friends.
Cindy shuddered and stood abruptly. "Later Jill," she said with a small wave. "Lindsay," she added as an afterthought. Sarah gave Lindsay one last smile before dutifully following the firecracker reporter out the precinct doors.
Jill waited ten seconds at most before she turned a glare on her best friend. "If you want to stop being a complete asshole, and you honest-to-god want Cindy to be 'your special friend' or your girlfriend or your I don't know, fuck buddy, then you need go after her, like right now." The brunette glanced wistfully at the double doors. "I'm not kidding. That wasn't a joke."
It took a few more seconds before Lindsay came to life, once again pushing off the desk, faster this time, and hurrying after Cindy. She came to the Lobby of the Hall and searched frantically for the redhead who was exiting the building.
"Cindy!" Not caring who was watching her, she took the steps down two at a time. "Hey! Cindy."
But the redhead only glanced over her shoulder and rolled her eyes, because a slim hand landed on Lindsay's shoulder, stopping her in her tracks.
"Sarah, I have to " but the blonde just tightened her grip and the Inspector had no choice but to stop and watch as Cindy disappeared in the crowd of the bustling street. "What?" she asked, her voice far harsher than she intended.
"You shouldn't go after her. If she doesn't want to listen to what you have to say, she's clearly not worth " but Lindsay cut her off with a glare, because it hit her as Sarah's words registered in her brain Cindy is worth it. She's more than worth it.
But when Lindsay finally got outside, she couldn't see Cindy anywhere and she sighed, dropping to the marble steps with her head in her hands. The last month ran through her mind: the drinks, the kissing, the sex, the fighting, the ignoring.
"You didn't go after her?" Lindsay looked up at Jill, using a hand to block out the sun. "I thought I told you to go after her?"
"I tried," is all Lindsay said, glancing wistfully in the direction she'd seen Cindy go.
"Not hard enough apparently," Jill chimed in.
Lindsay opened her mouth, ready to tell Jill to stick it where the sun don't shine, but her words were cut off by a rat, tat, tat sound a sound she was too familiar with. Jill looked up at her with wide eyes and Lindsay was two steps behind the blonde as she took off the Hall steps, heels clacking in time with the thud of Lindsay's heavy boots.
That's when she saw it, and she screamed.
Or maybe it was Jill who screamed.
Sarah groaned and rolled over, breathing heavy, jammed her hand into her lower leg and tried to stop her leg from bleeding. Another man cradled his arm. A young boy bled from the forehead, the gun still wrapped in his hand.
But Cindy was in a heap on the sidewalk, her feet bunched up under her body. And she didn't move she didn't groan or curse God or scream at Lindsay to get help. She laid there and Lindsay could see the sidewalk had turned red under her crumpled body. Jill's hand latched into Lindsay's arm and squeezed so tight that the lawyer's knuckles turned white, to match the white of her face.
"Jill!" Lindsay yelled the blonde's name but Jill kept her grip on the Inspector. "Jill! Call 911!"
Sarah inched her way toward Cindy, her youthful face filled with fear. "Cindy? Cindy, wake up. Cindy, wake up!" But the reporter laid prone, her mouth open just a little and her tiny hand wrapped around her cell phone. "Cindy wake up!"
Sarah's cracking voice snapped Lindsay out of her stupor and she dropped to her knees at the redhead's side while her fingers probed the young woman's body, as she tried to find where the all the blood was coming from.
"No, no, no. You don't get to do this, do you understand me?" Her voice cracked as she found the tear in the reporter's skin then found another. "You don't get to do this, because I don't think I " Her tears clouded her vision, but Lindsay pressed harder against Cindy's sternum while her hands started to turn red. "I need you Cindy Thomas and you do not get to leave me just when I need you. It's not don't you dare."
Another hand appeared out of nowhere and Lindsay turned to her left to see Jill kneeling at her side, her eyes bright with tears. Her other hand was pressed against Sarah's leg and Lindsay felt the dam in her heart break.
"Jill I "
"I know. She's going to get through this," was all that Jill said as she focused her efforts on trying to keep Cindy from losing too much blood. In the distance, the two friends could hear sirens ringing through the streets and before Lindsay could blink, an ambulance barreled up onto the sidewalk and screeched to a halt.
"What have we got?" Lindsay felt herself shift into "cop mode" even as she pressed harder against the blood flowing between her fingers.
"One shot to the sternum " she choked on her words. "High loss of blood. Another shot to the left bicep, minimal blood loss." With her head held up, she motioned towards the other victims. "He's dead," she nodded towards the boy with the gun. "That guy got shot in the arm, and Sarah Sarah was shot in the left calf." She nodded at the blond woman on the ground. "Lindsay Boxer," she added. "S.F.P.D."
"Yeah, we figured." One of the attendants said as he made busy work of his hands, lifting Cindy in a cradle before he placed her down on a gurney. He checked her pulse and Lindsay suddenly remembered that she hadn't done that before she tried to stop the blood.
"Shit. Did she have a pulse before?" Lindsay blinked hard. "What was her pulse before we got here?" Jill's hand gripped Lindsay's wrist, but Lindsay hadn't remembered to check Cindy's pulse.
"We don't have time. We've got to go. Now!"
Lindsay stood in the middle of the street as the ambulance pulled away, and she felt like she couldn't breathe. She hadn't bothered to check for a pulse, because she thought that Cindy was invincible.
She knew that if she had just got over herself, then Cindy would have never sprinted away from her; Cindy would have never ignored her; Cindy would have probably kissed her goodbye instead of throwing a hard glare and a sullen "Lindsay" over her shoulder when she left.
Lindsay felt herself fall into Jill and then into the pavement and all she could was watch the ambulance drive away, carrying Cindy away from her.
She cried in the street and tried to remember what Cindy has been wearing.
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