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Cruel Summer
By Demeter


They said she'd never remember, but she does. There are flashes of the private investigator who had been traumatized so severely that the real Celeste Gautier hardly ever leaves her apartment. Still, she couldn't stay away when someone needed her help. Cindy also has a vague memory of the woman who'd booked her for a girl's night out every now and then and the man who had presented her to his parents as the perfect fiance. Her face flushes hotly at the realization what had been part of that deal.

Tanner hadn't known the whole story. John Ashe had, though.

She leans forward, hugging her knees to her chest.

When she feels Lindsay's arms come around her, it's the last crack to her breaking composure.

"Talk to me, please," Lindsay whispers. "What is going on? Do you remember?"

Cindy knows it's probably not a good idea to share this, but she can't lie to her. "Ashe," she just says, feeling Lindsay tense. The way she bolted from the bed moments ago didn't leave much to imagination.

After a moment of simply holding her, Lindsay speaks. "There'll have to be consequences." It sounds more like, 'I'm going to kill the bastard.'

"Don't," Cindy pleads. "I don't want you to get into trouble." It's true, she wants him to pay, but she can't take the risk; she needs Lindsay to be here with her.

"It's no trouble." Lindsay strokes her hair softly. "I'm sure there are more people interested in him."

"Whatever we say in court, people will doubt it."

Cindy knows it's true when there is no protest forthcoming. They are like puzzles being ripped apart and put together again by the same people, the recreation process made under the observant eyes of the law. It's the same law that is by no means prepared for the length to which the Dollhouses went to manipulate the actives' brains and memories.

Jill who is currently on the front line seems to get more sad and frustrated each day, facing the same challenges as her colleagues in L.A., New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Beijing and many other major cities around the world.

"It doesn't mean he's going to get away. I'll talk to Brenda. She knows people in I.A. They're going to find something on him."

Cindy can hear the tears in Lindsay's voice, her own vision turning a blurry mess once more and she wonders how much more either of them can take.

"Just stay here with me for a while, okay?"

Lindsay just tightens her arms in silent response. She is trying hard, but Cindy can't help thinking, guiltily, that a blank slate would be exactly what she'd need right now. No one's ever going to give it to her though, so there's no way but to live with all of that has happened.

She might have left the Dollhouse, but Cindy has to acknowledge that it won't leave her for a long time to come.

The End

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