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Midnight Spell
By Demeter


Cindy writes.

It's almost a day in the life if it wasn't for the fact that it's 4:30 in the morning and her hands are trembling from a near overdose of caffeine.

"I'm sorry I woke you," she says without looking up, the clicking of keys continuing.

Lindsay has never found the sound so irritating but maybe that's because she's never felt this jittery before, not even on the day when she and Echo set out to bring down the Dollhouse. "I wasn't sleeping." She sits in front of Cindy on the carpet. In the light of the laptop screen, Cindy's face is pale, dark circles under her eyes. She's been at it since she has reclaimed her old job, pleading with her editor, yelling at him, in the end, succeeding.

The paper's on his mind foremost, and he had to realize that Echo-Cindy isn't going to come back, and the Dollhouse is still the biggest story of the moment. When he'd asked Cindy if she was still able to write it, she had hung up on him with vehemence. You couldn't get any more inside information than that.

Everyone in L.A., even Ashe, have been helpful. Lindsay would use another word. She doesn't want to hear anything about this place, ever again but it's everywhere. The SFPD is currently dealing with the house shut down in the city.

Cindy writes.

It seems that to her, it's the only thing that keeps her from breaking down. Writing to her is what Cindy is to Lindsay, and sometimes she thinks that there is something wrong with this equation. They should be moving on, shouldn't stand so close to the slope still.

"Why don't you take a break, get some rest?" Lindsay asks softly, feeling uncomfortably like an intruder.

Cindy stills her hands, tensing as if Lindsay has just threatened to confiscate the laptop. Truth be told, she's thought of it. Whenever Cindy is not writing, she seems to be on the phone, scheduling interviews with former actives and other people involved with the Dollhouse.

"I'm fine."

"No, you're not."

"Excuse me?" There's a flash of anger in Cindy's tired face.

"You're not fine. You don't sleep, you barely eat and whenever you leave these four walls it's for some Goddamn Dollhouse interview, I wouldn't call that fine."

"It's my job," Cindy stresses on the last word. "The one I had to fight really hard for getting it back, remember?"

For sure, Lindsay does and she's had a moment of guilt hoping that maybe it would all turn out differently. "Is that how you're leaving it behind?"

"It's the only way I can leave it behind. Don't you dare take this away from me."

Martha whines and trots out of the room. For a moment, Lindsay thinks back to how she instantly liked Echo when she was harboring Cindy's mind but was wary of Libra.

"Knock yourself out. Maybe you need this... I don't."

She lies awake for a long time, the sound of the keys haunting her. She wants to apologize but can't bring herself to it. She wants to make that damn story go away, because it's where it all began.

Lindsay has had nightmares about the pod and finding it empty before, but tonight it's worse. The plexiglass she draws back is stained with red this time, bloody cuts crisscrossing Cindy's face. "Isn't she pretty?" Ashe asks.

Bolting upright in her bed, she touches her hand to her face, her fingers coming away wet, her heart beating painfully hard against her ribcage.

In the living room, oblivious, Cindy writes.

The End

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