DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Betaed by Melissa. Thank you!
Wash Away My Pain
At night, Lindsay dreamed about ugly black insects crawling over her body. She'd jerk awake, gasping, sitting upright in bed and frantically checking where in fact the seam of her nightgown or a hair had tickled her skin.
Lindsay knew that it was scaring the hell out of Cindy who by proxy, never got any decent sleep either, but she found herself unable to stop it. Out of control.
She remembered the cellar quite clearly... There hadn't been any insects in the tastefully furnished room, only herself and a man who liked to kill children. He didn't mind adult women when available.
These days, Cindy often had to fight the alternating urges to cry and to yell at Lindsay. Both of which gave her a guilty conscience, because this wasn't about her anyway, and knowing what Lindsay had been through, she just didn't think she had the right... But still.
It wasn't fair. The first few weeks after they got together had been like a dream, but the rude awakening had come all too soon. Lindsay hated to be on sick leave, home alone, and she let it show. She didn't rest as often as she should have, hardly ate if Cindy wasn't practically watching over every bite, and the continued pain didn't help the mood at all.
So at times, Cindy was tempted but she'd flush hotly with shame every time she looked at Lindsay's hands, the broken fingernails and torn skin and what they meant.
She owed her life to one rusty nail she'd managed to draw out of the wooden frame of the bed, the only weapon available when it counted.
Thinking about it made Cindy want to cry, but she couldn't because Lindsay had made it clear that the last thing she wanted was sympathy.
The nightmare had once again left her in a cold sweat, and she sat on the side of the bed, nearly shaking with exhaustion hoping she hadn't woken Cindy again. She waited until the nausea that always came with the images subsided, of both the real memory and what her subconscious made of it.
Slowly, she got up and walked out of the room, pausing at the door to look back, smiling at the sight of Cindy snuggled under the covers. There was still some safe space left after all... Not in her sleep, though. She didn't need a shrink to tell her about post traumatic stress. It was her job to hunt down killers - some more evil than others. You wouldn't expect it to be a walk in the park.
She stepped into the bathroom, closing the door after her, grimacing at the feel of the fabric sticking to cold and clammy skin. It had been cold in the room, and while that had been far from being her most serious problem at the time, that cold seemed to have seeped into her bones. She couldn't get rid of it.
Lindsay let the nightgown fall to the floor, now shivering as she stepped into the shower stall, turning on the water. Washing away the dream. Washing away the memory. One of these days, it would actually happen. Because he hadn't won. She had.
She bore the marks to prove it.
Cindy didn't have any clear concept of what she was supposed to do, or even wanted to, but a room apart just seemed too far so she got up to follow Lindsay into the bathroom. Slowly, she opened the stall, sliding the door aside.
There was no hesitation as Lindsay pulled her inside, just like she'd been waiting for her spinning her around until her back was against the cold tiles. There was an intensity, the moment vibrating with it as they stared at each other.
Then it was gone, and Lindsay wrapped her arms around Cindy, holding on for dear life. Cindy held on tight in return, disturbed by the fact that despite the steaming water cascading down on them, Lindsay was still trembling.
"I'm sorry I keep freaking you out."
She wasn't. For example, what really kept freaking her out were those fading bruises, a vivid reminder of Lindsay's ordeal. Or the nightmares. But there was only one person responsible for this, and Cindy didn't want that person with them, here, now. Ever.
"It takes more than that to freak me out," she said, waiting for the warmth of her body to ease the chill out of Lindsay's.
"Then I'm lucky you're this brave." It was said with a smile, but a voice that shook with something else than just gratitude. Regrets, fears.
"No. I'm lucky you are."
"I am... Nothing." Lindsay's frustation was palpable, constantly drawing her back to that place. "He killed her anyway."
"But you stopped him eventually."
"Not soon enough."
"As soon as you could," Cindy said firmly, "Which was sooner than anybody else could." It wasn't the first time they'd had this conversation, and she strongly suspected the subject would come up again.
She wondered if one day, Lindsay would be able to believe her.
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