DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. Popular belongs to Ryan Murphy. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The version of Sam used in this story comes from another embarrassingly long Brooke/Sam saga I wrote a while ago called Just a Little Insight. But you donít have to read that to get this. I just used Sam becauseÖ itís Sam. And Carly Pope is hot.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Sneak
By Misty Flores

 

PART II.

Jill Bernhardt had entered law school under the mistaken assumption that being able to logically form arguments and present them would somehow or other deter her from the bad decisions she was so very good at making.

She very quickly discovered that knowing something was a bad idea and actually doing it were not the same thing, and just because she knew that logically her actions were not in her self interest didn't actually deter her from carrying them out.

Which was actually worse, when she thought about it.

Feeling particularly melodramatic, she leaned forward and carefully inhaled on the small white roach occupying her hand, watching as the flame flickering from the aromatic candle on Lindsay's porch burned the edge a bright orange.

"Do you have any idea how incredibly illegal that is?"

Settling back on the wooden porch chair, Jill exhaled, eyes rising to meet the not-entirely-surprised expression on her best friend's face.

"I'm a lawyer," she reminded her with a bitter grimace. "Of course I do. Care to join me?"

Lindsay actually hesitated, before her shoulders slumped and she came forward, boots clomping on the wood as she settled in beside her.

"Nah, I'll just breathe it in." After a moment, Lindsay smiled. "You know, Claire would kill you if she found out you had that stash."

"Why do you think I came over here to smoke it?" With a smirk, Jill blew a puff of tainted air into Lindsay's face.

"Hey!" came the good-natured growl. "Not on the jacket!" Shrugging off the leather, Lindsay put it out of harm's way, taking a moment to close her eyes and concentrate on the atmosphere. The warmth of her arm seeped into Jill's, as Lindsay's head tilted, rested against hers.

It was times like these that Jill was absurdly protective of Lindsay. There were an incredible few that actually got to see Lindsay this vulnerable. When it happened, it felt like Jill was being let in on a cherished secret.

At the present, with the threat of a serial killer hanging over Lindsay's head, it felt more precious.

"Tough day?" she began, whispering to compensate for the sweetness of the moment.

Stirring, Lindsay opened one eye and closed it again, long fingers reaching up to rub against her wrinkled brow. "Yeah," she breathed, voice rough and gravelly. "I just… sometimes that girl really drives me crazy, you know?"

That girl, of course, was Cindy. Glancing away, Jill concentrated on the burning tip of her joint. Lately, that girl had always been Cindy.

Making the adjustment from a trio to a quartet hadn't been easy. Jill wasn't all that great at making friends, particularly those from her own sex. Women, she discovered quite early on, tended to hate her, usually on some suspicions that she was sleeping with their boyfriend or husband. Lindsay and Claire, as always, were the exception, and as long as she had them, Jill told herself she didn't care about anyone else.

She had built up a resistance to her own feelings of inadequacy, but she did discover that there lingered in her a faint resentment, a tendency to be catty. Cindy had seemed determined to invite the attitude, thanks to her complete willingness to stalk Jill's best friend.

Claire was so easy going she took to Cindy like she was a long-lost daughter. When Lindsay had relented, Jill had been surprised, then bothered, then resigned. Cindy was small and cute and Lindsay didn't get her. Lindsay had to understand things, when she didn't, it drove her mad. Driving Lindsay mad invited Lindsay's interest, and it was only a matter of time before Cindy's cuteness and exceptional ability to do her job would morph that interest into affection.

As the rational one (at least in matters that didn't apply directly to her), Jill had been determined to be resistant.

That has lasted maybe… two weeks.

Of course, that didn't stop the cheap pang of jealousy that occurred every time Jill witnessed a stare that lasted too long, a smile that was meant only for Cindy, the absurd fear of being replaced…

She was unprepared for it, she didn't want to prepare for that; not after just losing Luke. It was a selfish impulse, but Jill had trouble divorcing herself from it.

"I know," she quipped, voice lighter than she was feeling. "It's been kinda fun to watch." And it was. Lindsay flustered was a rare treat, and Jill admired anyone who could bring that out in her. At Lindsay's sudden glare, she continued, "You haven't been that worked up about someone other than Tom for a while."

At the mention of her ex, Lindsay grimaced. "Let's not put them in the same bracket, okay?" There was more said in the unspoken than in Lindsay's actual reply. "I just don't get her, you know? She's known that girl all of what… five minutes and she's already blabbing about our cases? What's the matter with her?"

Bringing the lit roach to her lips, Jill took her time in responding, face screwing together at the taste of the bitter smoke. "A lot of things, but I think the real issue is what's the matter with you."

"Oh what the hell does that mean?" Lindsay growled, seconds before she eyed the wrapped paper between Jill's fingers and reached for it. "Gimme that."

"I just mean that I think you over reacted a little."

"I over reacted." Lindsay snorted her disbelief. "I can't find her all day, and the reason is because she's having lunch? With a reporter? Blabbing? I should have arrested her for obstruction."

"Okay, see? You promised that you wouldn't threaten to charge her with obstruction anymore."

"I know," she grumbled. "But she deserved it." Pausing, Lindsay inhaled a puff of smoke, and coughed, eyes visibly stinging as she handed it back to Jill. "Talking to a reporter. Jesus."

"Oh, come on. Sam seemed harmless."

"Yeah, so did Cindy when I first met her. Just some annoying kid reporter who barely knew her own name. Next thing I know I'm arresting her for breaking and entering before she runs off with …" Lindsay blinked, at a loss. "God-dammit – what was her name?"

Unable to fight the smile that tilted up her lips, Jill answered calmly, "Theresa Woo."

"Right." Lindsay's head fell back against the chair, clearly affected by the drug. "What was I saying?"

"Something about Cindy not being harmless."

"Right. She's not. She's annoying."

"And yet, she's in the club," Jill mused, offering a small smile.

"It's not a club!" Lindsay looked aggravated by the use of the word. "Don't you start calling it that."

"Hey, you're the one that let her in."

"Maybe I'll rescind the invitation."

"You wouldn't do that now, even if you could," Jill replied frankly, stubbing out the roach. It was clear Lindsay had had enough. "You rely on that girl way too much."

At that, Lindsay groaned, palm coming up to slap against her forehead. "I do, don't I? I do. God. I don't… just… how the hell did it get to this? One day you're annoyed and then next you're crawling into her lap-"

"I'm, sorry, WHAT?!" Jill's voice went unnaturally high. Her insides jolted, and with it, went her spine, straightening and nearly knocking the candle off its perch.

Eyes widening, Lindsay's mouth snapped shut.

"No, no, no- you do not get to clam up." Jill's eyes narrowed dangerously, and she felt her blood rushing unnaturally fast, creating a warm blush in her cheeks that made her feel like her skin was burning. "Start talking. You crawled into Cindy's lap?"

Like a child caught stealing, Lindsay slumped into the chair, suddenly meek. "I was drunk."

Breath caught in her throat, Jill studied the frightened, guilty posture.

Exhaling, she swallowed down the unnerving anger and reached again for the pot.

"I think I need to light this again."


"Hey, Bi-Girl."

It was past midnight, which officially made it too late for this kind of crap.

Pushing out a deep, calming breath through her nostrils, Cindy straightened her shoulders and turned her head from the computer screen to the copyright editor with a shit-eating grin on his face.

"Haha," she said dryly. "Yes, it's horribly funny. Cindy is bisexual. That's so original in San Francisco."

"Aw, you don't have to be such a downer about it." Leaning over the cubicle, Gerard Martinez gave a playful pout. "Just wanted to submit my resume, you know, if you're hiring."

"Currently not accepting applications," she shot back, but softened the rejection with a smile. "If there's an opening I'll let you know."

"Cool," he said, nodding his head good-naturedly. "What about that Times girl? She open for business, if you know what I mean?"

The resulting leer caused an annoyed frown. "You know, 'bi' doesn't mean 'guy'. I may actually still get offended by sexist comments."

"Oh, come on. She's hot."

With a reluctant nod, she agreed. "And very taken."

"Bummer for you," he said, and with a slap against the side of her cubicle frame, headed on his way. "Go home, Thomas!"

"You first!"

He waved his hand, and then once again, Cindy was left alone, with her cup of coffee and blazing white screen.

The article was half written, she had gotten a dozen notes back from the fact checker, she still hadn't had a chance to follow up on helping Lindsay figure out which Li out of the twenty thousand Li's there were in Chinatown was a member of the Joe boys, the gay pride parade was two days away, and all Cindy could concentrate on was the infuriating look on Lindsay's face at the diner.

Cindy was not a mooner. Okay, she was trying not to be a mooner. If she believed in resolutions, hers would be not to wallow away mooning, over analyzing everything.

Lindsay being a complete bitch at the diner was just Lindsay being a bitch, and the correct reciprocating emotion should be righteous indignation, not some petty feeling of validation that somehow, somewhere deep down, Lindsay was jealous at seeing her in the company of a gorgeous, younger brunette.

She suddenly felt very tired.

Reaching for the Styrofoam cup that contained cold coffee, Cindy sipped, then blanched.

The newspaper was a twenty-four hour operation. There was never a time when the place was empty, and Cindy usually never felt alone.

Sure, she was lonely, but it happened when you worked long hours with people who knew you but didn't really…

"I hate late night moments of introspection."

That said, she put down her pen, and began to type, determined to bury her mind in work and away from the cold eyes of a certain dark-haired Inspector.


Talking things out had never worked for her.

Not that holding things in was any better, but it seemed that any time Lindsay Boxer had information dragged out of her, it seemed to make people angry rather than understanding.

There were several instances in her recent past that had proved this: Claire finding out about Tom, for one. Jacobi's verbal assault when he discovered she had been targeted by the Kiss-Me-Not killer still brought a painful ache in her chest that made it hard to breathe and brought stinging tears to her eyes.

From the look on Jill's hooded expression, tonight's revelation about the night-that-wasn't with Cindy, wouldn't yield any better results.

Her best friend didn't look at her, simply stared at the wooden porch floor, every once in a while pausing to stare at the lit roach, watching the tainted smoke disappear into the crisp night air.

Her phone began to buzz, and automatically, grateful for the distraction, Lindsay reached for the gadget and opened it.

It was a text message, from Cindy – the only one of her friends who actually made use of that option.

"No progress tonight," it said, "Will look into Lis tomorrow."

It was a coward's way out of having to actually speak to her, but based on Lindsay's last few interactions with the cub reporter, she couldn't exactly blame her.

"Was that Cindy?" Jill's voice was quiet.

Taking another moment to stare at the message, read it again, Lindsay managed a hard swallow and flipped the phone closed. "Yeah," she began, offering a tired smile. "She says she's got nothing, but she'll try tomorrow."

"Well, if anyone can find one Li out of a million, it would be Cindy." Stubbing out the roach, Jill got to her feet. "I want a beer. Do you want a beer?"

Lindsay eyed her friend gently. "Yeah," she returned gamely. "Lay it on me."

With a small smile, Jill turned on her heel and headed for the door, letting out Martha as she stepped inside.

The beautiful big dog trotted amiably toward her, and gratefully, Lindsay widened her legs and opened her arms, curling her fingers around a strong, furry neck.

"Hey, buddy," she breathed, closing her eyes, allowing herself to take in the simple sensation of a fuzzy friend.

The porch door creaked open, and Lindsay released her dog, in favor of glancing up at Jill, who was holding out a chilled, open bottle of beer.

"Okay," Jill said, as Lindsay silently took the bottle from her. "Here's the deal. I know I have no right to be jealous, but I am. So let's just voice that and get it out of the way."

Brow furrowing, Lindsay felt a frog catch in her throat, making it difficult to rasp anything but a puzzled, "Okay."

"I don't know if it's a left over clingy thing from not having Luke or residuals from that time that you and I… you know…"

"…Okay," she said, nodding obediently, remembering suddenly the feel of her friend's lips pressed against hers, the breathless gasp of Jill, arching above her.

Feeling an uncharacteristic blush steaming onto her face, she glanced away.

"But as your friend, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen this coming."

The flat statement produced a sudden jerk of her head, forcing a bewildered stare. "What?" she shot.

In the middle of a gulping down a drink from her beer, Jill held up a finger, indicating her to be patient.

"Oh, please," Jill said, wiping her mouth as she lowered the bottle, "All that staring and over protective rants? The completely obvious jealousy?"

"The jealousy was obvious?"

Jill shot her an annoyed look, and it cowed her. Shoulders slumping, she opted to stare at her beer.

"I knew there was a reason she had been staying away from you… Hell, I should have put it together."

"Well, don't beat yourself up over it," Lindsay proclaimed dryly.

"I just thought it would be Cindy putting herself out there. You know… grabbing the bull by its horns… not the other way around."

"Because I'm incapable of making the first move?"

"Well, judging by what happened, you're not exactly capable of finishing it."

Lindsay blanched at the statement. "You know – sometimes brutal honesty is over rated."

Jill's eyes bore intriguingly into hers. "You actually crawled into her lap, felt her up, stuck your tongue down her throat, and then kicked her out?"

"It didn't happen exactly like that."

"You gave Cindy blue balls."

Lindsay choked on her swallow of beer. "I did not!" she managed, wiping at the liquid that spilled down her chin.

"That's so mean it's almost brilliant."

"No one got blueballs," Lindsay snapped. "There's more to it than that."

Jill, however, seemed to have found a tangent of this whole mess that actually amused. "Lindsay Boxer is a tease."

"Oh, God, will you shut up?"

But Jill was laughing, overwhelmed by both the situation and the beer and the pot, shoulders shaking with unrepentant mirth.

"You're never going to let this one go, are you?"

It was the kind of ironic tragedy that was infectious, and despite her aching heart and the headache that was beginning to pound into her head, Lindsay felt the corners of her mouth tugging into a reluctant smile.

"I hate you so much right now," she managed, before she erupted in her own set of chuckles, doubling over and collapsing against her friend.

From the corner of her eye, she saw Martha quizzically raise her head, and observe them sagely.


It wasn't jet lag that was the problem. Sam McPherson had taken a two hour flight up from Los Angeles and that meant there was no jet lag.

She wanted to blame it on the jet lag. It made it easier to blame the inability to sleep on something beyond her control, something stable; like the time.

But the truth was something far simpler: It was boredom.

Sam McPherson loathed it. She feared it.

Fear of boredom was her anti-drug.

And she was bored.

It was 2AM, and Sam, after hours of sifting through Paid Advertisements for a 'Work From Home!' pamphlet, South Park reruns, and so many Girls Gone Wild videos it frightened her, was still wide awake.

Rolling over on her stomach, Sam reached for her pillow and punched it roughly, shoving it under her head.

It didn't help.

Giving up, she grabbed hold of the phone charging on the nightstand and flipped open the Sidekick, thumbing through the scroll wheel until she got to the texting menu, punching in her message.

'BORED. HELP. SEND PHONE SEX.'

Her smile widened as she watched the message disappear.

It was a long three minutes, until the phone buzzed in her hand.

"I knew that would get you," Sam breathed, answering immediately.

If Brooke could have seen the smile on her face, her girlfriend would have called her ridiculous.

As it was, she already did.

"You are completely ridiculous," Brooke commented, voice low and resigned.

"So no phone sex?"

"I am in the middle of a place called 'The London Dungeon'. I'm staring at a bunch of rats running through a glass case full of artificial bones."

"Sexy."

"Only to you." She could almost hear the grin on Brooke's voice. "I hate this place. Naturally you would love it. There's an exhibit on every horrible thing that happened to people in London. And it's interactive. Jack the Ripper, The Plague-"

"Sweeney Todd?"

"Honey? Give that one up. I have it on good authority that he looked nothing like Johnny Depp."

"You're such a bubble burster."

"And you're a child. You've been in San Francisco … like… a day."

"Okay, yes, but the most exciting thing that has happened to me is getting chewed out by this hot lady Inspector for daring to talk to her chick."

"Her chick?"

"Yeah, my babysitter, Cindy Thomas." Flopping back on her back, Sam sighed. "She's cute. For a redhead."

"So you're saying that not only do I have worry about every gay woman at the Pride Parade throwing herself at you but now there's a red-head? Do we remember I don't like red-heads?"

And there was a very good reason. Sam's first girlfriend, the girlfriend Sam had left to be with Brooke all those years ago, was a red-head. A naughty smile grew on her face. "If I remember correctly, they don't like you either, baby."

"Uh-huh. Just hope that I don't run into Lena Headey over here."

Sucking in her breath, Sam pouted good-naturedly. "Brooke, that's just mean. We agreed if that were to happen it would happen as a threesome. Or that I could at the very least watch."

A gorgeous chuckle floated down the line, into Sam's ear, and she felt a twinge of loving warmness as a result. "Seriously," Brooke replied, steering the banter. "You can't be bored already. That's the Pride Parade. It's supposed to be awesome."

"Blech."

"It's supposed to be inspiring."

"Gag."

"There's supposed to be hot chicks there."

"Okay, well the hot chick I'm after is in some sort of icky dungeon in London. Try harder, please."

"I suppose appealing to your GLAAD happy self would be too much?"

"I'm a person, not a bill board," she quoted amiably. "Though that Cindy girl? There is something interesting there. She's part of some sort of thing."

"A thing?"

"Well… when I was having coffee with her that crazy hot Inspector came in, with, get this, a District Attorney, and a Medical Examiner. They were her friends. And from what she was saying before they got there, they were trying to solve some sort of murder together."

"What, like a club or a gang or something?"

"That's weird, right?" she agreed, sitting up. "I mean, Inspector Boxer lady practically flipped out when she realized Cindy had talked to me about it. If it would have helped I think she would have peed on her."

"Nice. Hold on." She heard some buzzing, and what appeared to be muffled speaking, before Brooke came back on the line, "And on THAT nice bit of imagery, I gotta sign off. Looks like we're ready to shoot."

It was never long enough.

"Fine," Sam said, good-naturedly resigned. "Call me later, okay?"

"Let's hope you get some sleep before then. Love you, Sam."

"Backatcha."

She waited until she heard the click of the line, disconnecting the call, before she closed the phone, and stared up at the ceiling.

Bored. Bored. BORED.


The laughter had subsided, and left behind was a curious sort of intimacy. Arm wrapped around Jill, Lindsay was grateful for the warmness of her friend cuddled into her side.

The night was remarkably clear.

"So what were you afraid of?" Jill's statement broke the silence.

Swallowing, Lindsay didn't move. "I don't know… everything?"

Fingers trailed down her forearms, until they tangled with hers, holding on tightly. "You know, she could be good for you."

Her insides twisted, and Lindsay fought the reprehensible urge to suddenly cry. "Yeah… sometimes I think so too."

"So what's the problem?"

"I don't know." Lindsay licked her lips, overtaken with the memory of fingers buried in red hair, a hungry mouth panting against hers. She shivered. "It's not a good time."

She felt Jill's head lift off her shoulder. "Linds, you're a homicide Investigator. There's never a good time."

She knew that.

"It didn't stop you from marrying Tom."

"And look at how that turned out."

She could feel Jill staring at her. Lindsay waited it out and finally heard a long sigh, before a warm head once again settled against her.

"Okay," Jill said simply. "But what happens when she finds someone else?"

The image of a gorgeous brunette, head tilting down toward Cindy, flashed in her memory.

"Linds? Can you handle that?"

Lost in the unexpected pain, Lindsay lifted the bottle to her lips with her free hand.

"Don't have much of a choice, do I?"

Part 3

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