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The Stockholm Syndrome
By Demeter & qbeck


"What are you doing?"

"I'm cleaning out my medicine cabinet. Wouldn't want my sub-let to know I've been using Sponge Bob Band-Aids."

"Cindy, c'mon." Lindsay sighed loudly. "You know what I'm asking." She was leaning on the door frame of Cindy's bathroom watching her toss the contents of the pharmacy into a wastepaper basket. "Sweden? Really? And for a year?"

"Why not Sweden?" Cindy replied matter-of-factly, focusing on her task.

Lindsay shook her head. "Well you could've at least told me yourself. Instead I had to hear it from Denise? Of all people."

"Denise has a big mouth," Cindy grumbled. "I was gonna tell you."

"When? When you landed in Stockholm?"

Cindy closed the door to the medicine cabinet, turned toward Lindsay, but kept her gaze low. "Would you mind?" She asked gesturing with her free hand for Lindsay to move out of her way which she did immediately. Cindy hurried past Lindsay, bumping her lightly as she made her way out of the bathroom. Lindsay tailed her across the length of the hallway past the bedroom and into the kitchen. "Are you leaving because of me?" Cindy scoffed as she set the basket on the kitchen counter. She turned around and finally acknowledged Lindsay.

"Wow you've got some ego, Lindsay Boxer. Not everything in my life revolves around you." Though her actions for the past couple of years spoke to the contrary, at the moment she meant every word of that statement.

"Okay, fine. So why now? What's so great about Sweden?"

"For starters I've always been intrigued by Scandinavian culture…" Before Lindsay could ask since when Cindy went on, "and there's a great career opportunity. I've got a meeting with the editors of an independent, somewhat underground, investigative magazine…"

"A meeting! As in interview?" Lindsay interrupted. "You're leaving your apartment, your job, your friends, and there's not even a job yet?"

"Ah, but there's gonna be a job, don't you worry. I'm good at what I do, remember?"

"Alright. What about Claire and Jill?"

"What about them? They what me to be happy and they know leaving for awhile will be good for me."

"Then…" Lindsay sighed, stepped into Cindy's personal space and grabbed her by the shoulders. "What about me? Don't you know how much I'm gonna miss you?"

Cindy looked up and met her eyes. Lindsay leaned in closer, but Cindy shook herself out of Lindsay's grasp and backed away. "Typical." She muttered.


"That is so typical of you, Lindsay." Cindy repeated. "Why does it always take me getting shot or me moving away for you to recognize your feelings?"

"That's not true. I've always known how much you mean to me. You're one of my best friends."

"Awesome!" Cindy said, the sarcasm practically dripping from her lips.

"I'm sorry I hurt you, Cindy. You'll never know how much. I should never have let things between us go as far as they did, that was my mistake."

"I know. You told me. I'm your big mistake." Cindy returned.

"That is not what I meant…"

"You know what your problem is Lindsay?" Cindy challenged. "You think you're so brave facing the worst of humanity on a daily basis, but you're really not. You're scared all the time. Especially of your own feelings; your true feelings. For me."

"What about you? Huh? Running away to Europe. How brave is that?

"It's not running away if there's nothing to run away from."

Lindsay exhaled loudly she felt defeated. This whole exchange had started on the wrong note, and there seemed to be no way to get it back on track. "I'm sorry my friendship is not enough. Good luck in Sweden."

Cindy watched as Lindsay walked to the front door and exited the apartment. She turned around, her eyes filling with tears, and her heart swelling with pain. With one fell swoop she knocked the basket off the kitchen counter spilling trash all over the floor. She closed her eyes and sobbed.

Her fingers flew over the keyboard, a wry grin appearing on her face as the contents of the laptop's hard drive were finally downloaded to her own computer. It had taken an unusally long time for her to get there, considering this was not the San Francisco PD or the FBI. The woman was good, but in the end not good enough.

Lisbeth Salander lit herself another cigarette, leaned back in her chair and then examined the secrets Cindy Thomas had to protect.

Many files were work-related, though she'd only kept material there that had been made public later. No informants' files, no obvious code names or anything of the kind. Maybe the girl was simply paranoid.

There was some private email, most of them addressed to a Jill Bernhardt who, as Lisbeth had learned earlier, was one of the DDAs. Confirming dinner with Dr. Claire Washburn, the Chief Medical Examiner. Interesting. There had to be a reason why Cindy Thomas had landed some high-profile stories of the break-out journalism kind lately, and it had a lot to do with the company she kept.

Her résumé was pretty much flawless, including being fluent in the Swedish language.

Further investigation showed a couple of movies (The Children's Hour and Fingersmith) and a travel guide to Stockholm. There were a few private pictures, some of them with Bernhardt and Washburn. One particular photograph made Lisbeth stop. It showed Cindy with another woman, outside a restaurant. Tall, dark-haired, confident stance; she reminded Lisbeth of Susanne Linder, the ex-cop she'd worked with at Milton Security.

Cindy's expression revealed more than any of the bits and bytes on her hard drive could have. In her time working for the San Francisco Register, Cindy Thomas had helped exposing a corrupt and murdering doctor and a serial killer, among else. She'd fit in well with the idealistic bunch at Millennium. A career leap might not be her motivation for running away from home, but that, Lisbeth decided, was none of her business.


The End

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