DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Today's title comes from what Google tells me is a Dutch proverb: Promises make debt, and debt makes promises. Dedicated to the long suffering Jill/Cindy shipper, ralst. Inspired by the_girl_20.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Promises of Debt
By Lesley Mitchell
Central processing on a Saturday evening could very easily be mistaken for one of the lower circles of hell. In her earliest days at the DA's office, Jill had spent many hours under the ancient, flickering fluorescent lights in the windowless room, staring at the grey walls and waiting for time with one criminal or another. Her boss at the time had used it as something of a hazing ritual and, being a raging misogynist, had taken enormous pleasure in scheduling Jill to spend her full quota of out of office hours time there. Jill had merely knuckled down and taken the duty without complaint, and by a fortunate coincidence, it was in this room that she first encountered the Homicide department's newest Inspector, the incomparable Lindsay Boxer.
One of the few things that Denise Kwon had in the favourable column on Jill's mental list was that she had noticed the fledgling friendship between the two women and decided to encourage it for the good of the office. That she had known of Jill's aversion to the grislier side of crime and still pushed her towards becoming the primary liaison with the homicide team, thus forcing her to attend crime scenes and autopsies, had initially pushed her to the top of Jill's shit list. However, these days, Jill would far rather spend time in the relatively quiet and ordered environment of Claire's morgue, even in the presence of a body, than visit the maelstrom that awaited her.
"I really didn't drink enough to do this," she muttered to herself, before resolutely opening the door she stood before.
The noise was intense, like walking into a speaker at a rock gig. But the thing she had truly forgotten, blocked from her mind, was the smell. It had an almost physical presence in the room, and for a moment or two she hesitated, calling on all her techniques for surviving at the most gruesome murder scenes, to keep the bourbon in her stomach, where it belonged. Lindsay owed her big time, for this. And, as for Cindy...
The desk sergeant in his dark blue uniform looked up, wearily, wandering what new trial was about to ruin his evening. However, on spotting the blonde head of the woman before him, his eyes widened in surprise.
"Hey, look who it is?" he cried in the rich baritone that had been one of the few good things about this place. He eased his huge frame from behind the desk, and enveloped Jill in a crushing hug. "Haven't seen you down here in an age, missy. What happened, you got too good for all of us?"
"Never, Herb. How could I possibly tire of your wonderful company." She looked up at the tall man, and batted her eyelashes at him outrageously, causing him lo bellow with laughter. "No, they just switched me to a different beat. I get to go out in the cold and the dark and the rain and look at dead people now."
"Dead people, eh? You working with that lady Inspector, then?"
"Yeah. Lindsay and I seem to make a good team."
"I could have told you that, that very first night. But," he changed directions on seeing the faint blush that Jill sported, "you're not here for a trip down memory lane with Herb are you? At a guess, and I doubt I'd get very long odds on this, you're here for that chit of a reporter, aren't you?"
"Cindy Ann Thomas, arrested on obstruction of justice charges."
"Aye, that's her. A pretty little thing she is too. No match for you, mind."
"Inspector Boxer has had a change of heart, and decided that Ms Thomas was in fact, attempting, in an albeit misguided fashion, to co-operate with the proper authorities and is therefore dropping all charges. I'm here as a representative of the DA's office to explain to Ms Thomas a condition or two that this very generous action comes with."
"Ah, the lawyer speak... you know how that always turns me on! Walk this way, counsellor."
They passed the drunk tanks first; male to the left, female to the right. The smell increased exponentially, and Jill made a quick mental note to drop this suit at the dry cleaners at the earliest convenience.
"I can't go," said Lindsay mulishly. "If I go down there, she'll think she's won. I'll never get any peace."
"If you send me," countered Jill, "she'll know she's won, and that the great Lindsay Boxer is too chicken shit to face the fallout of her own temper."
Lindsay sighed, sipping her cocktail to buy herself thinking time.
"Please," she said eventually, reaching out and placing her hand over one of Jill's. Her voice dropped a semi-tone, and she looked at Jill pleadingly, drawling, "I'll make it worth your while."
Jill held her eyes for as long as possible, before throwing her free hand in the air. "OK! I'll go and rescue the poor thing. She's only been there... a couple of hours. The girls shouldn't have done too much, yet. They know a chicken when they see one."
She gathered her coat and threw the strap of her bag over her shoulder.
"You owe me, though. You owe me big time."
Then she turned on her heal, and headed back to the Hall.
They found Cindy in the farthest corner of the women's general holding cell, chatting happily to a tattooed woman in a fleece edged denim jacket.
"Jill!" Cindy bounced up from her perch and smiled broadly at the blonde DDA. "This is my friend, Mary."
"DA Bernhardt," said the woman, ducking her head.
"Give us your dealer. I'll make sure you get a safe rehab place."
"I... I can't."
"Come on, Mary. Have I ever let you down before?"
"You can trust Jill, Mary," said Cindy, "she's never let me down."
"I dunno, Ms. Bernhardt. He's a mean one."
"Think it over," said Jill. "Ask for me when you decide."
The woman nodded, mutely.
"Good girl. Now, I have to see to this one."
The woman moved away, giving them as close to privacy as they were going to get.
"Lindsay relented. But, really, you're going to have to get a good deal better at knowing when and where to be, what to say and in front of whom, or even I'm not going to be able to keep you out of jail."
"Thank you." For all Cindy's apparent comfort in her surroundings on Jill's arrival, the relief that coloured her voice, now, was palpable.
"Come on. I'm guessing you need a ride."
Cindy had been surprisingly subdued on the drive to her apartment. She had sat quietly in the passenger seat, staring out of the window as the lights of the city flowed past them. On the odd occasions Jill had glanced across, she had seen the reflection of the redhead but had been unable to read her mood.
They drew up outside an older, but well kept, condo in one of the cheaper parts of town, and at last Cindy began to regain some of her usual spirit.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said to Jill as she gathered up her coat and tote with its endless supply of notepads. "How can I ever repay you?"
Jill's blue gaze could be every bit as penetrating as Lindsay's patented laser stare, and Cindy quailed once more under the influence of it, but she held the blonde's eyes and knew Jill had made a decision, a fraction of a second before she spoke.
Her face grave, Jill swept a wayward hair back behind her ear and said, "invite me in, and we can talk terms."
Cindy had babbled nervously from the moment they entered the cosy space. While she offered Jill a drink and suggested she make herself comfortable, while she gave the woman the nickel tour, and even while her guest made use of her bathroom.
In the end, Jill kissed her purely to shut her up for a moment. It should have been quick, just enough to short circuit her mouth for long enough that Jill could excuse herself, and leave gracefully. It should have felt wrong kissing the girl, she was, practically speaking, barely past the age of majority. It should have been chaste, and yet Cindy's tongue demanded entrance, and Jill wasn't up to refusing her.
When they broke apart, the reporter was flushed to the roots of her hair, dark eyes bright. For five blessed seconds, there was silence; Jill counted them off, absent mindedly tuned to the tick of the wall clock behind her. Then, Cindy licked her lips and drew breath.
Jill placed a finger on the moist, slightly swollen lips.
"If you say another word, so help me, I will leave you in jail, next time."
Cindy's eyes widened in shock and protest.
"Hell, I'll prosecute you myself."
Cindy gave a slight shake of her head, which spoke volumes, and Jill felt, once more, the softness of the lips beneath her fingertip. Without a second thought, she reclaimed them for a much higher purpose.
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