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The Long Way Home
By Demeter


When the call came in, Claire and Yuki were standing by my desk, joking about something or other. We were just about to leave for dinner. I listened to the words the man on the other end of the line said to me, and then it was as if my senses simply shut down-

My vision disintegrated, concerned voices from far away.

"Inspector Boxer? You're still there?"

"Lindsay! What happened?"

I couldn't tell them, I couldn't form the words, because if I did, that would make it real.

Joe had died in a car bombing.

"How could that happen!"

I reached for the next thing I could grasp, the file of a case completely unrelated, and slammed it onto my desk, making Yuki wince. "There was enough evidence against him. There were witnesses!"

The man who was now walking away had raped a woman and killed her when she threatened to go to the police. Today, the trial had gone to hell literally, and we were still feeling the whiplash. I was furious, and while it wasn't Yuki's fault alone, she was the first person available to take the brunt of my anger.

"I know, Lindsay. I tried. You were there."

"Why didn't you call the wife on the stand? I had a feeling about her... She knew something."

"I was planning to!" Yuki had slightly raised her voice too. "It's not like you did get anything out of her. We can't turn back the time."

"He killed her, Yuki. And they let him go. It wasn't some accident; he's going to do it again."

"You can't know that."

"I do," I said grimly. I'd been sympathetic with Yuki's bad luck streak, but sympathy was eluding me now. I had seen the guy's smug grin; he knew what he was getting away with and that he could do it again. It wasn't fair to lay all the blame on her, I knew. "Look, I'm sorry."

"You're forgiven." She sighed. "I hate it just as much as you do. But Linds, don't you think... You're not that angry just because of the case. You've changed since Joe died."

Startled by the unwelcome non-sequitur, I looked at her. "Excuse me?" I'd been about to get married. I had hesitated a long time accepted his proposal... too long. Joe was dead. Forgive me if that had changed me. "That has nothing to do with the case."

"Maybe it does?" she ventured. "I tried my best to show he's guilty. I believe he is. I don't think that I overlooked anything, but maybe you did."


"I'd understand. You've been distracted."

I was... stunned. This was not the moment. I wasn't sure if there'd ever be a good moment for this conversation.

"Shouldn't you think about some time off and--"

"That's enough!" Cindy stood in the room, her eyes blazing with anger. "Get out," she told Yuki who stared at her in disbelief.

"You know it's true. I'm just telling it like I see it."

"It's alright," I tried damage control, though inside, I felt all jittery. "Emotions running a little high."

"No, it's not alright. So if you could leave us alone now?"

"Sure," Yuki said with a little eyeroll in Cindy's direction. "See you tomorrow."

"What was that all about?" I asked when she had left.

Cindy sank into the visitor's chair with a sigh. "Sorry about this... I just couldn't stand it. It sucks that we lost the case, but bringing up Joe... That's just not fair."

"Maybe she's got a point," I said ruefully. "I haven't been very focused lately."

"You lost someone you loved. You grieve. But you do your job. This was not your fault."

"I'm not sure about that," I said, avoiding her concerned gaze. I hadn't cried in front of either of them, and I wasn't going to. Still, hearing his name again – it was a blow. I didn't think the feeling would ever go away. One of too many people lost; there was only so much you could recover from; those experiences didn't make you stronger, they made you more vulnerable. I felt the pressure building again.

"I'm sorry," Cindy said, again, softer. "What do you say we leave here, go for a drink, talk? We haven't done that in a while."

Indeed. Not since she'd started a relationsip with my partner. Thinking about how I'd reacted to that, spiteful, jealous, when in fact I'd been engaged to another man, the guilt would start to eat away at me again. So many things had gone out of control. I didn't even know where to start.

"I'd like that." Finally, a relieved smile chased the worried expression from Cindy's face.

I was damn lucky to have her in my life, and yet there were implications I hadn't yet dared to look at.

They were visions of better days. Some day, the pain would stop.

The End

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