DISCLAIMER: Women's Murder Club and its characters are the property of James Patterson, 20th Century Fox Television and ABC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Not totally happy with this one, but Iím going to just go ahead and post it anyway. And I originally planned on this being more obviously Jill/Cindy, but it just didnít quite work out that way. *shrug*
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Cindy shifted her gaze to the ground and stepped a little further out of the streetlight's glare, as she saw Inspector Lindsay Boxer duck under the police tape and stride over towards Tom.
She had hoped that Lindsay wouldn't get called in to this one, but no such luck. Lindsay wouldn't be happy with her. Cindy could already practically hear Lindsay's rant about getting herself into trouble, yet again. This time it SO wasn't her fault, though, and Cindy tried to psych herself up for telling Lindsay just that.
When Cindy hesitantly looked up again, it was to see Jill and Claire arriving at the scene and joining the growing number of various official people standing around the victim. Jill, however, quickly retreated once again, and Cindy just barely managed to hear the attorney's utterance of, "Dear God, that's a lot of blood."
As Jill turned around, Cindy couldn't avoid the eye contact, and she instinctively lurched forward, trying to act as if she had just arrived.
"Jill! Hey," she began awkwardly when she reached the blonde. "What do we got?"
Jill squeezed her eyes shut as she replied, "Blood. We've got lots of blood. More details than that, I couldn't tell ya at the moment."
Claire walked over at that point as well, and without a word, she and Cindy each grabbed one of Jill's arms and gently led her further away from the body. Once sufficiently far away, they released Jill, who took a deep breath, and then appeared to calm down once again.
"Well, I can tell you that our vic has multiple stab wounds to the chest," Claire explained. "Whoever killed him was able to really get up close and personal."
Cindy bit down anxiously on her lower lip as she watched Lindsay approach them, but couldn't help but smirk as Jill jumped at the sudden onset of Lindsay's deep drawl. "Damn, Cindy, that's got to be a new record for you for quickest arrival at a crime scene," Lindsay commented.
Cindy just smiled -- somewhat awkwardly, apparently, since Claire gave her a weird look -- but she didn't say anything.
Lindsay continued, "So, there was a pretty heated argument inside the bar. Unfortunately, though, none of the drunk idiots inside paid any attention when the two guys left. There's supposed to be a witness around here somewhere, though. Y'all stay here, I'll be back in a few."
Cindy opened her mouth to speak, but somehow no words came out before Lindsay was gone, so Cindy just closed her mouth again and grimaced.
Yep, Cindy had a feeling that this really wasn't going to go well.
All too soon, Lindsay returned, and Cindy was at least glad to notice that Lindsay appeared more confused, at this point, than angry.
"That was quick," Jill spoke up. "What did the witness say?"
"Haven't talked to her yet," Lindsay replied, crossing her arms and looking straight at Cindy. "According to O'Leary, the witness is the 'cute red-haired chick standing next to Miss Bernhardt.'"
Silence descended as two more pairs of eyes turned to stare intently at Cindy, who laughed nervously and ran a hand through her hair. "What, did I forget to mention that I was, I don't know, maybe ten feet away from an angry man with a knife tonight?" she asked, shrugging in fake nonchalance.
Not too surprisingly, Lindsay was the first one to start yelling, and Cindy could only hope that they were far enough away from everyone else that no one outside the four of them would hear. "Cindy, what the HELL were you doing? That body was stabbed eight times! Eight! Whoever killed him was a VERY angry man! Did he see you?"
Cindy took a step backwards as Lindsay's voice rose.
"Well, apparently not, or else I probably would have more serious things to worry about than you yelling at me," she answered quietly. "But hey, O'Leary thinks I'm cute? That's cool, which one is he? Can I meet him?" Cindy asked, trying desperately to defuse the situation.
"What the fuck, Cindy, this isn't some kind of joke! You could have been kidnapped -- AGAIN-- or worse, killed tonight! You-"
"Don't you think I already know that?!" Cindy interrupted, raising her own voice. "You don't get to be mad at me this time, Lindsay! This is NOT my fault. I wasn't snooping around somewhere you warned me not to go, I wasn't following some dangerous lead... I was just out, living my life! Without me, you wouldn't have any witnesses, though, so you're actually lucky that I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wasn't looking to get scared out of my mind, Lindsay, so you don't get to be mad at me this time!"
Cindy hadn't quite realized that her hand was shaking until Jill stepped forward and grabbed hold of it, wrapping her other arm around Cindy's shoulders and leading her away from Lindsay. "Hey, it's all right. You're okay," Jill murmured soothingly.
Cindy heard Lindsay start to say something else, but Claire interrupted this time, saying, "Not now, Linds. Come on, just give her some space."
Jill led Cindy to a bench a little ways away, letting Cindy simply sit there quietly. Jill still hadn't let go of Cindy's hand, and Cindy found herself leaning in towards her friend as Jill's free hand stroked slowly up and down Cindy's back.
Cindy imagined that Jill was itching to ask about what had happened, but she appreciated the silence for a little while longer.
"He was so close," Cindy finally whispered, picturing how clearly she had been able to watch everything unfold. Jill had been simply staring straight ahead, but out of the corner of her eye, Cindy saw the blonde's gaze jerk to the side, now watching Cindy's profile.
"I was about to open the door to Maggie when they came outside. They didn't actually say anything. The first guy -- not THAT one..." She nodded towards the spot where the body lay. "He shoved him up against the building. The second guy was able to land one hard punch, knocking the first guy back."
Cindy took a deep breath. "And then..." She shuddered. "It all happened so fast. I saw the glint of the knife, but I couldn't move. I couldn't do ANYTHING." Cindy was quiet for another moment, feeling her throat tighten as she remembered the intensity of her fear. Jill simply held Cindy a little tighter.
"When it was over, the one left standing looked around, and I swear, he looked right at me, but I still couldn't make myself move. He must not have actually seen me, though, 'cause his eyes swept right over me, and then he just ran off. Once he was gone, I was finally able to call 911, and then I just sank down to the ground, where one of the officers found me."
As soon as Cindy stopped talking, Jill pulled her fully into a hug, both of her arms wrapping firmly around the petite redhead. Cindy clung to Jill just as tightly, breathing deeply as she buried her head into the crook of Jill's neck. She could feel Jill's racing pulse, matching her own, as Jill leaned down to whisper softly in Cindy's ear, her voice breaking slightly, "God, Cindy... I'm just so glad you're okay."
Hearing footsteps, they pulled apart again, and Cindy looked up to find Claire and Lindsay approaching. "Cindy," Claire began, "Lindsay has something she wants to tell you."
When the sullen inspector simply frowned, eyes glancing back and forth between Cindy and Jill, Claire nonchalantly -- but with definite force -- elbowed Lindsay in the side.
"Ow! Okay, okay, no need to get violent!" Lindsay paused to scowl at Claire. "I'm sorry, Cindy. I shouldn't have gotten angry with you."
Cindy started to reply, but Claire immediately shushed her. "And...?" she asked, prompting Lindsay to continue.
"And it's just..." Lindsay's expression finally softened. "I just worry about you, you know? I don't want anything to happen."
"I know," Cindy answered, feeling the lump in her throat grow. She was trying SO hard not to cry. "I just wish that you could worry in a way that didn't involve yelling."
Lindsay smiled lightly. "No promises, but I'll see what I can do."
To Be Continued
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