DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. Dollhouse belongs to Joss Whedon and Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Demeter


For a moment, she just stares in mute shock. It isn't like Lindsay hasn't already seen the worst humanity has to offer, greed, rage or simply the pleasure in making another living person suffer. In comparison, the set up looks quite nice, calming and clean. Almost like some holiday resort, if it wasn't for-

"You lock them up in there at night?"

Prisoners on death row have more room to breathe at night.

"It's quite comfortable," the young scientist explains with a nervous grin.

"It's a coffin."

"See, that's not quite true. Everyone's very much alive in there and if you consider that--" She tunes out his chatter, otherwise she might shoot him for real.

Lindsay turns to Echo, her resolve faltering for a second. What is she going to find? And while she's still convinced that the other 'actives', people, locked up for the night deserve freedom just as much as Cindy does, she wonders if they will agree with simply walking out of here.

In the first pod they open, there's a young man whose face has been slashed viciously with something very sharp. Lindsay flinches; is that how they punish them if something goes wrong on their 'engagement?' He opens his eyes and starts screaming.

Lindsay can kind of sympathize.

Echo reacts quickly, putting a hand over his mouth and talking to him. "It's okay," she says. "Everything's all right." To Lindsay's relief, he calms quickly.

"Who did that to him?" she addresses Brink who immediately holds up his hands a bit higher.

"You don't want to know. I mean right now, okay? This is not a good time."

She hates to admit it, but he does have a point. There's a young woman in the next pod. She doesn't scream but her gaze is wary until Echo assures her too. Lindsay sees the look she exchanges with the man, and it takes her breath away for a moment.

Between them, she can feel the same pull, the same emotion that has finally brought her here. It's something that no imprint can ever overcome.

The shiny surface slides aside once more. It's never before been this hard to stay focused, aware of the danger that might still lay ahead. She just stares, feeling her vision blur.

For a person who has lived in the dark for a long time, the first hint of daylight is scary, even painful when at the same time, it's all the person has lived for in that time. She is that person right now.

Lindsay wants to say something, but she can't get any words out. She doesn't have to. As if aware of her presence, Cindy opens her eyes and smiles. "Who are you?" she asks.

In a perfect world, Lindsay would have time now to just give in to the impulse to hold her, to cry all those tears she couldn't before, but there is no time. "I'm a friend," she says, her voice cracking as she reaches out a hand.

Cindy takes it and climbs out of the pod. She's clad in a light green nightgown, of exactly the same style as the one Echo called Sierra is wearing.

Only when she realizes Cindy is looking at her questioningly, Lindsay realizes that she's holding her hand tightly enough to hurt but for the life of her, she can't let go now.

Not even when Brink says, "Thank God," and he surely doesn't mean the reuniting of people who aren't meant to be apart but the arrival of a pair of security guards.

"Trust me," Echo says calmly and Lindsay, reaching for her gun, knows that she has no choice but to do exactly that.

The End

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