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


In the video that was a couple of years old, the young woman smiled into the camera. "I want to make a difference," she said. It had been made after she'd covered the story of the notorious Kiss Me Not Killer.

"Cindy Thomas, age 29," Boyd informed his boss. "Works for the San Francisco Register. She arrived in L.A. two weeks ago, has been asking around. She also met with the agent."

Adelle observed the woman on the screen carefully. "Just keep an eye on her for now."

"Ms. DeWitt, I think the fact that she has ties to the SFPD could present-"

"I'll keep that in mind. Thank you, Boyd."

"You can't just sit in your ivory tower and try to tell me it's all for the greater good!"

Cindy starts to pace again, clinging to the comfort of anger and frustration. It's all the more better than the rising fear, choking her from the inside. While the room isn't overtly dark or small, she feels like the walls are closing in on her.


"You're young. And idealistic. " The other woman remains unfazed. "I don't expect you to understand all of it. The point is, we can do something about your situation. You will not face charges for illegally obtaining information." She smiles wryly. "Breaking and entering actually. Five years from now, you'll walk away with a lot of money and no memory of what happened in that time. No regrets."

"Right," Cindy scoffs. "Sounds pretty. What if I care more about the truth than about the money?"

All of her rage and accusations seem to roll off the woman; she just doesn't care, because the results will be the same in the end. The thought comes to Cindy's mind that she must have had many conversations like this.

"I believe you," Adelle DeWitt says calmly. "Ms. Thomas, we are aware of your situation. And I think there's something – someone – you care about even more than truth."

As she lays the black and white photograph on the table, Cindy stills her frantic motion. Her mind seems to have come to a halt as well. "You're not only getting people raped, you get them killed, too?" Her voice doesn't sound like her own, a cloud of denial beginning to wrap her mind.

"Oh no, that's not what I meant. All I'm saying is you should remember we have... Associates... In the SFPD as well. So you can be helpful – or the opposite."

Cindy sits back down, sinking into the chair with the body language of a person defeated, her last defenses shattered. She reaches out to touch the picture in an almost caress, her vision blurring. Then she looks up again, gathering the last shreds of resolve. It isn't much, but enough to keep her voice steady as she said, "You won't get away with this. I promise you."

The other woman pours some tea into tiny cups and sets one of them in front of Cindy, not at all impressed. She has reason to be calm.

"Someone will tell the story. If it's not me, it's going to be somebody else."

"The story is already out there," DeWitt tells her not without satisfaction. "The Dollhouse is an urban legend. It's for the best if it stays that way."

Cindy stares hard at the words on the contract, the dotted line. She picks up the pen.

Fleeting images come and go, of a home yet to be lived in, and a pair of rings still in the jewelry store.

She feels sick, but yet there's no choice. None at all. Her gaze wanders back to the picture. "I wanted to make a difference," she says, trying to laugh at the irony of it, embarrassed when it sounds more like a sob.

"Don't we all," Adelle DeWitt says, and Cindy is thinking that she probably imagined that trace of regret in her voice. None of them actually knows the meaning of regret. Or shame.

Gripping the pen tighter, she signs her name on the bottom of the page.

"Hello, Libra."

She felt slightly dizzy as the chair was raised and her body being moved into a sitting position in the process. As the haze cleared, she turned her gaze in the direction of the voice, seeing the blond young man looking at her expectantly.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Did I fall asleep?" she wondered.

He smiled. "For a little while."

The End

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