DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, Fox does. I'm only taking them out for a test drive.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story contains some adult situations, so be forewarned.
SPOILERS: Strap-on, Ryde or Die

After the Fall
By Sam

Part 3

I once had a girl,
or should I say.she once had me
        - John Lennon

Sara stared out at the ocean, her thin frame leaning casually over the railing of the large deck. The roar of the ocean's waves had a soothing effect on the young woman. Having grown up a relatively poor kid in Los Angeles, she'd seldom had the opportunity to enjoy such splendor.

Noises wafted toward her from within the house, the sounds of Billie moving around the kitchen. She could hear the gentle tinkling of ice cubes falling into glasses, followed by the rush of water from the faucet. There were so few sounds to distract her from her thoughts that she found it a bit.distracting.

Billie stepped through the open door, brandishing two glasses. She walked over to the blonde and held one out to her. "Sorry, but all I have in the house is water."

Sara reached out and took the offered drink. "Thanks." She turned her gaze back toward the shore. "Nice view."

Billie leaned her hip against the railing. "Mmm."

Sara watched the brunette out of the corner of her eye. Instead of admiring the ocean, Billie's icy blue gaze was fixed on the glass she had cradled in her hands. There was something odd in her demeanor since they'd arrived at this place. As beautiful as the beach house was, the blonde got the distinct impression that the other woman didn't like being there.

Billie could feel Sara staring and glanced up, flashing a quick grin. "I should go stock up. There's a grocery store not too far from here. I won't be long." She took a long sip from her glass. "For some reason, the water always tastes better here."

The blonde took a moment to look over the large expanse of house. The side that faced the water was nearly all made of glass. She hadn't had the full tour yet, but she guessed the bedrooms upstairs probably had a spectacular view. "I'm betting everything is better here."

Billie shrugged. "It's just a house."

Sara snorted. "Spoken like someone who grew up rich." She cast a glance at the other woman. "Which begs the question.How can you afford a place like this on a cop's salary?"

"I've got a little money tucked away," Billie stated simply.

"Well, then," Sara joked. "This time you are definitely buying me dinner." She had a smile on her face, until she turned and looked at Billie. The smile faded instantly.

Billie was staring at the blonde, watching as the wind played with her hair, tossing it about her head while the sun cast a beautiful golden light through the errant strands. She emptied the contents of her glass and straightened up, pushing away the thoughts that were screaming in her head. After a brief pause she said, "I better get going. Is there anything you'd like me to pick up for you?"

"A toothbrush might be nice, since I didn't have a chance to pack anything," Sara responded.

"Okay." As Billie started back inside, she stopped and turned back to Sara. "Help yourself to whatever you need. And obviously, I don't need to tell you not to answer the door."

"Yessir, Lieutenant," Sara quipped, still feeling a need to press a few buttons of her own.

Billie frowned. "Sara."

"What?" The blonde asked, keeping her back to the other woman.

"I didn't want to hurt you," Billie admitted, her soft tone barely perceptible over the stiff ocean breeze.

Sara took a deep breath, her response coming out in a soft sigh. "But, you did."

"I know."

The blonde stood there in silence, waiting until she knew Billie had disappeared back into the house. She looked over her shoulder at the empty doorway. "Who are you, Billie Chambers?" Her question was carried away with the wind.

"How difficult can it be to find one lousy cop?"

"Sweetie, why don't you just relax?"

Jill Kistler leaned back against the body seated behind her, her long legs dangling over the edge of the leaf shaped swimming pool. "I can't relax, Felicia, not until I pay that bitch back for what she did." She reached a hand up, wincing as her fingers pressed against the small bandage on her head.

"You've only been out for what, four hours?" The older woman rested her chin on her lover's shoulder. "Just give my people a little time," she soothed, her hands slipping off Jill's shoulders and wrapping around her waist. "I guarantee that by the end of the day, we'll know everything there is to know about Lieutenant Chambers."

Jill sighed. "What about Sara?" She could feel Felicia's body tense up at the mention of her friend's name.

"What about her?" came the cool reply.

"They've probably got her stashed somewhere, now that I'm out on bail."

Felicia could feel her anger bubbling to the surface. "So?"

"So, I kind of left her in the lurch," Jill explained. "If I jump, that means she'll be left holding the bag." She felt warm hands leave her body as the other woman got to her feet.

"I don't believe you!" Felicia retorted, flinging her long blonde hair over one shoulder in a flourish. When Jill rose to face her, the woman pointed a finger at her. "That little friend of yours sold you out, and you're worried about her?"

"Look, Felicia. You don't understand-"

"The hell I don't!" She reached around the tall brunette and grabbed her robe. "You're in love with her." The last few words came out as a strangled sob.

Jill rolled her eyes at the woman's dramatics. She liked Felicia.a lot. She was beautiful, smart, rich...and fairly easy to manipulate. Definitely a winning combination, given what Jill was going through right now. If she was going to get out of the mess she was in, she needed someone with money. And power. The fact that there was a strong physical attraction made it work all the better.

The only problem was the woman's volatile emotions. She was always flying off the handle over the smallest things. Granted, some of those `small things' were Jill's trysts with other women, but the brunette had always been up front about her desire to keep things casual between them. And at the onset of their affair, Felicia seemed perfectly at ease with that arrangement.

It wasn't until Jill introduced her to Sara that an undercurrent of tension began to develop. Initially, the older woman had been nice enough to her roommate, even going so far as to extend the occasional dinner invitation to the pair. But, it soon became apparent to Jill that what Felicia was really doing was sizing up the competition.

Of course, there was no competition.

Sara and Jill were friends, and that was all. However, the tight partnership they had formed professionally only served to bring them closer on a personal level. The element of risk they engaged in, the chance of being caught, only served to make them more cautious of others, to the point where they depended almost exclusively on each other.

Relationships had never really been a problem. Jill was never involved with any one person for very long, preferring instead to keep her options open. And Sara, well she just had lousy taste in women, plain and simple. She was always taking her lumps, and Jill had lost count as to how many times she'd helped her friend pick up the pieces. The fact that Jill was constantly running to Sara's aid had been one of the things that made Felicia so jealous of her.

And now, Sara was in trouble again. Only this time, the object of her affections was far more dangerous to the both of them than they could ever have imagined. And while Sara had obviously had her eyes opened to the betrayal that might end up costing Jill her freedom, she also knew that her friend was still being manipulated.and by whom.

Billie Chambers.

Jill had turned that name over in her head at least a thousand times in the last twenty-four hours. That conniving little bitch had used Sara, was still using her, to help put Jill away. Unfortunately, the one golden opportunity she'd received to take Chambers down hadn't gone her way. But, the game wasn't over yet.

Jill still had her trump card.

"Felicia, listen to me," Jill pleaded, using all of her patience to placate the woman. "I am not in love with Sara." She reached a hand out and stroked the blonde's cheek. "The only person I'm interested in getting my hands on is Chambers, I swear to you." She took a step closer, feeling the woman's anger beginning to dissipate. "After that, Sara is on her own."

Felicia narrowed her eyes at the younger woman, her suspicious gaze giving way to something else. "You're just saying that so I'll help you," she reasoned, leaning into the brunette's warm, inviting touch.

Jill brought her other hand up, capturing Felicia's face in her hands. She closed the distance between them, leaning in to whisper into the blonde's ear. "You're already helping me." She could feel the other woman shiver as she began to plant light kisses on her neck. "And I want to show you how grateful I am."

Felicia closed her eyes as the young woman's lips pressed against hers. She recognized the gesture for what it was.a diversion. But, she didn't have a problem with that. She didn't harbor any illusions about Jill Kistler. The girl was young and healthy, and definitely pleasing to the eye. But, she was also narcissistic, and given the right circumstances, deadly. And that only made Felicia want her all the more.

"It's not your gratitude I'm after," she whispered, pulling back to catch her breath.

Jill's eyes smoldered with undisguised lust. "Then, what are you after?"

The statuesque blonde took a step back, her manicured nails trailing down the front of Jill's bikini clad body. "Why don't you come inside and I'll show you." She felt a ripple of desire course through her body as the brunette flashed a wicked smile.

"Lead the way."

Billie had just gotten out of her car, arms filled with grocery bags, when her cell phone rang. She uttered a small curse word under her breath before dropping an armload into the backseat. She pulled the phone from her pocket and snapped it open, giving the person on the other end of the line a terse "Yeah."

"Billie, it's Oliver." Oliver. From the LAPD computer lab. Oh, shit.

"What's up?" she asked, suddenly wondering how well she'd covered her tracks the last time she'd `visited' the mainframe.

There was a brief pause, and then, "We've had a security breach."

Apparently, she hadn't done a very good job. "Um, what'd they get?" she asked, trying to sound as casual as possible. At the moment, her unit was still persona non grata with IAB, and this would probably not go over well.

"Your file."

Billie furrowed her brow, not sure if she'd heard him correctly. "What?"

"They downloaded some information from your file. We don't think they got it all but-"

"You don't think?" she replied, trying to get her bearings. "Do you know what they did get?" In other words, was this a calculated fact checker, or a fishing expedition?

"Your personal bio, academy records."

"Any of my case files?"


Fishing expedition it is. And she had a good idea who was behind it. "Do me a favor and check the boys' files, just in case-"

"Already done. They're still locked up tight."

"Well, that's a relief," Billie sighed. "Can you hold off notifying the front office for a few?"


"Come on, Ollie," Billie persuaded. "You know they'll make a big deal of it, which means lots of paperwork, hours of boring conversation."

"You have a clue on this?" His tone was cautious.

"Yes, I do," she confirmed.

Another long pause. "I'll give you `till nine tomorrow."

"You're a peach, Ollie. I owe you."

"Just help me plug the leak and I'll be happy."

Billie's lip turned up in a slight smirk. "You got it." She ended the call and tucked her phone away.

It looks like Jill's been a busy girl since she got out, Billie mused. Getting into the LAPD mainframe was no easy task. Even she had a tough time getting what she needed on occasion, and she knew all the back doors. The person who pulled this off was either very good, or very close.

In either case, the motivation would be money. And it didn't take a genius to figure out who bankrolled this little invasion of her privacy.

Billie dropped the remainder of her groceries into the car and pulled out her keys as she climbed back into the driver's seat. It looked as though Sara would have to wait on her dinner a bit longer. She turned the ignition and threw the car into gear, taking out a bit of her anger on the road beneath her as she sped off.

It was time for a meet and greet with Felicia Ralston.

Part 4

Something's comin' over me,
My baby's got a secret.
      - Madonna

Sara walked around the house, her patience beginning to wear a bit thin as she continued to wait for Billie's return. She was still a bit awed at the sheer size of the place, with its cathedral ceilings and large, spacious rooms. It was definitely the kind of place Sara could see herself living in someday. Of course, due to her rather abrupt career change, it may take a bit longer, but she was ambitious enough to keep her eye on the prize.

The large windows facing the shoreline kept the first floor flooded with natural light, and with the liberal use of soft pastels throughout the rooms, the place had a warm comfortable feel to it. It was casual but elegant, exuding a sense of peace and calm.

In a word, it was nothing like its owner.

The blonde shook her head as she tried to imagine Billie living in this place. She glanced up the stairs, noticing the balcony that overlooked the entire living area. She could see a few rooms up there, so she decided to check them out.

Upon reaching the second floor, she headed for the first door on her left, opening it slightly and popping her head inside. It was a bedroom, as she suspected, the pale oak furnishings sparse but functional. Probably a guest bedroom, she decided.

She stepped back into the hall and headed for the next room. As she grabbed the door handle, she made an odd discovery.

The door was locked.

She gave it a few experimental twists, thinking perhaps it was just stuck, but she soon realized her first assumption had been the correct one.

Her first thought was to ignore it and move on, since Billie obviously kept it locked for a reason. But, it didn't take long before her curiosity got the better of her. If there was one thing in this world Sara couldn't resist, it was a locked door, or more accurately, unlocking a locked door.

She immediately made her way downstairs to the kitchen, hoping she might find something she could use to open it. A quick search through several kitchen drawers yielded nothing. Then, she noticed the small writing desk in the adjacent hallway.

It took her less than a minute to locate a couple of paper clips, which she promptly scooped up before running back up the stairs. She immediately set down on one knee in front of the door and went to work.

A few twists here, a few bends there, and Sara slid the now mutilated paper clip into the keyhole. She took the other one and straightened it out as best she could, and began to apply her skill. It was a simple lock, and within seconds, Sara felt the latch give.

A feeling of elation coupled with nervousness washed over her. It was a familiar feeling, one she'd experienced many times when she was entering someone's home without his or her knowledge. She wiped a sweaty palm against her pant leg, and with a flick of her wrist, she opened the door.

"Lieutenant Chambers, LAPD. I'm here to see Mrs. Ralston." Billie spoke the information into a small speaker as she held her ID in front of the camera above it. She was sitting in her car, idling at the gated entrance of Felicia Ralston's well-guarded estate.

"Do you have an appointment," the tinny voice responded.

Billie rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. "No, but I'm fairly certain she's expecting me." She tossed her badge onto the passenger seat and began drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. As of late, patience was not her strong suit.

After a moment, the speaker crackled to life. "Please follow the drive until you reach the main house." With a soft hum, the large iron gates began to open.

"All that's missing is Cerebrus," Billie muttered as she roared through the entrance. Dense woods lined the road she followed, allowing for very little of the afternoon sun to filter through. With the obstructed view, it was difficult to tell how far the property stretched, but it was certainly secluded.

Billie sped up as she got her first peek at the mansion. She was not looking forward to this visit. In truth, she didn't even know what she was hoping to accomplish. Mostly, she just needed to even the playing field, to know what or whom she was up against.

She had quizzed Sara about Felicia Ralston during their ride out to the beach, wanting to know what kind of a relationship she had with Jill. The fact that Kistler now had such a high profile attorney handling her case was discouraging. Sara told her that she didn't really know Felicia that well, just that the two women had been seeing each other for a while and the relationship was a casual one, at least as far as Jill was concerned. But, Felicia Ralston had coughed up fifty thousand dollars to bail Jill out, so Billie could guess that things were probably a lot more serious between them now.

As her car reached the crest of the hill, Billie spotted the house and let out a low whistle. She'd seen plenty of mansions in around LA, but even judging it by those standards, this one was still quite impressive.

She slowed down, pulling her car up along the circular drive before finally stopping as close to the front door as she could. It was probably a bit of paranoia on her part, but she felt better having her wheels within sprinting distance.

As the brunette got out of her car, a woman emerged from the entryway and stood there, apparently waiting for her. By her attire, Billie decided she must be some kind of servant. She headed toward the door and stopped in front of the woman, once again presenting her ID and said, "I'm here to see Mrs. Ralston."

The woman didn't seem to take notice of it as she stretched her arm out, indicating for Billie to go inside. "Please come in, Lieutenant."

Billie pulled her sunglasses down to the edge of her nose, giving the woman a dubious look before lifting them up to rest on the top of her head. She walked inside, slowly, taking in every detail as she scanned the expansive foyer. The sound of her boot heels clacking against the expensive marble floor echoed through the room. The door closed behind her and she turned, expectantly, as the woman stepped forward to address her once more.

"Please follow me. Madam is waiting for you in the parlor."

Billie raised one dark eyebrow at the woman. "Oookay." She continued to marvel at the lush décor as she obediently followed the woman to a pair of large wooden doors to the left of the main staircase. The brunette gave them a cursory look before deciding they were definitely solid mahogany.

The servant, as Billie had come to think of her, pushed the doors open and stood to one side as she announced, "Lieutenant Chambers to see you, Madam."

"Thank you, Sophia."

Billie glanced about as she entered, trying to locate the source of that voice. She couldn't seem to shake the uneasy feeling that had settled in her gut. Her instincts were giving her a warning, and she knew enough to pay attention. As she neared the center of the room, a figure rose from one of the wingback chairs that faced the fireplace.

The first thing Billie took notice of was the woman's height, which she guessed was nearly six feet. A mane of platinum blonde hair surrounded her long narrow face. At first glance, Billie thought her quite beautiful, but like so many rich women in LA, she guessed that some of that beauty had probably come from a knife. She was wearing a simple gray silk blouse over white slacks.and she was barefoot. The brunette raised her eyebrows slightly, trying to imagine this woman in a pair of heels.

"Good Afternoon."

"Are you Mrs. Ralston?" Billie questioned.

"I am," Felicia responded, her piercing, intelligent gaze raking over the Lieutenant with obvious interest. She had seen a few photographs of the attractive brunette, but there was very little you could tell from an image. Her first impression of the young woman was that she definitely had a strong presence. And dressed as she was, all in black from head to toe, Billie Chambers cut quite a formidable figure.

But, it was obvious that there was far more to the young police officer than her dark good looks. There were other things Felicia could sense about the woman as she studied her. Confidence. Power. Danger. All of it emanated from behind those pale blue eyes. Now that she was finally meeting the woman in person, she could certainly understand why Sara Matthews had been so attracted to her.and why Jill was so obviously threatened by her.

Billie remained passive under the woman's scrutiny. "I wanted to speak with you about Jill Kistler."

"I thought as much." The blonde stepped forward, stopping within a few feet of where Billie stood. "Can I offer you something to drink, Lieutenant, or are you strictly here in an official capacity?"

"I just have a few questions," Billie plunged right in, not the least bit interested in idle chatter.

The blonde brushed by her and waved her hand at Sophia. "Please leave us alone." The woman nodded as she pulled the doors closed behind her.

Felicia glided toward a small bar in the corner and began to fix herself a drink. She held out an empty glass toward Billie, who merely shook her head. "My attorney tells me that Sara Matthews has signed a plea agreement with the District Attorney's office."

"That's right," Billie confirmed.

"And you had something to do with that." It was a statement.

The brunette folded her arms across her chest. "It's not uncommon to turn one accomplice against another," she explained. "We're talking about robbery versus attempted murder. I think the robbery charge pales in comparison, don't you?"

Felicia lifted her glass toward Billie in a mock toast. "To the lesser of two evils."

An image of Sara pointing a gun at her suddenly flashed through Billie's mind. She quickly pushed that thought away. "It's not a perfect system, I admit."

"Few things in this life are perfect, my dear." She cast Billie a sly look. "Although, some things do come very close."

Once again, Billie could feel herself being subjected to the woman's intense scrutiny. She dropped her arms to her side and began to walk slowly around the room, taking her time as she paused to admire one thing or another. There were various types of art scattered throughout the room, but it was one piece in particular which drew her attention. A large vase stood alone on a table near the far window. She stopped to study it carefully. "Ming Dynasty...looks like late 15th century." She straightened up and glanced at the blonde. "It's beautiful."

"You have a keen eye."

Billie's shrug was non-committal. "I've seen one or two before."

Felicia smiled as she seated herself on the sofa. Watching the brunette meander about the room gave the woman a chance to consider what she'd learned about the young Lieutenant. What little information her people had been able to compile, thus far, had been extremely vague.

There was a basic list of professional accomplishments: Graduated from UCLA with a degree in criminal psychology at the age of 22, entered the police academy the following winter, served in uniform for 2 years before transferring to vice. There was a brief entry regarding her beginnings as a plain clothes officer, working a few minor undercover operations, most involving either drugs or prostitution.


For nearly two years, there were no entries in her file. No record of a transfer. No mention of a suspension, not even a dismissal. It was as if Officer Wilhemina Chambers had dropped off the face of the earth.

In fact, the only thing her people discovered about the Lieutenant's whereabouts during that time was a brief appearance she made in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she spent several days after the death of her parents. There was a funeral.a burial, and a visit to a lawyer's office. And the details of the young woman's life ended there.

Fast forward to nearly fours years later, and the appearance of Lieutenant Billie Chambers. There had obviously been a promotion during her absence, but the details of her work, even now, were still shrouded in secrecy. She had been somewhat intrigued by the young woman before, mainly due to her ability to go head to head with Jill, which was impressive enough. But, this new turn of events only served to raise her curiosity to even greater heights. She found Billie Chambers to be a very mysterious person, indeed.

And if there was one thing Felicia Ralston loved, it was unraveling a mystery.

"I seem to recall you had some questions to ask me."

Billie continued to move about at a leisurely pace. She finally came to a stop directly in front of the other woman, noting the bemused expression that seemed to be fixated on her. "You've been looking into my background. I want to know why you're so interested in me?"

"I'm interested in anyone who threatens the people I care about," Felicia responded with a pointed look. "And it is customary to investigate potential witnesses, is it not?"

Billie couldn't argue with that logic, but this business with her file being hacked was another story. After all of her hard work, she was not about to let anyone step in and ruin what it had taken her years to build. "Someone broke into the LAPD's database," she informed the blonde. "And they were after my file."

"And you think I had something to do with that?"

Billie leaned forward, placing her hand on the arm of the sofa as she deliberately moved into the blonde's personal space. "Yes, I do."

Felicia could see the challenge in those stark, blue eyes. She closed the few remaining inches between them, taking in the scent of mint from the brunette's warm breath. Her voice was soft, but there was no denying the menacing tone that belied it. "Obviously, my lawyer's response to that accusation would be that I have no idea what you're talking about. But, as I said, I make it a point to know my enemies."

"I'm not your enemy." Billie straightened up and took a step back, giving the woman a stern look. "I'm only doing my job."

Felicia stood up, abruptly. "Really? And does part of that job include hopping into bed with your witnesses?"

The blonde's superior height forced Billie to tilt her head up as she spoke. "Jill tried to kill someone, and for that she's going to prison," Billie stated, deftly changing the subject. "Hire all the high-priced legal talent you want, but it won't change a thing. I'll make sure of that." She took another step back as she prepared to make her exit. "I don't understand how you can protect a woman who is capable of shooting someone in cold blood."

The blonde narrowed her dark eyes. "As opposed to protecting a woman who is capable of shooting someone in a fit of rage?"

"You'd be wise to distance yourself from this situation, Mrs. Ralston," Billie warned, as images of both Sara and Jill popped into her head. "You could end up getting hurt."

"I think you underestimate me, Lieutenant," Felicia responded with an edge to her voice.

Billie's ice blue gaze fixed on the blonde. "And I think you overestimate your value, Felicia." She spun on her heel and headed for the door as she spoke to the woman over her shoulder, "Once Jill gets what she wants," Billie reached out and pulled both doors open with a flourish, pausing as she cast a final look over her shoulder. ".you'd better watch your back." And with that, she disappeared into the hallway.

Felicia stared at the open doors for a moment, listening to the sound of Billie's footsteps fading away, until she heard the front door close with a slam. In a sudden burst of anger, she threw her glass across the room, where it hit the wall and shattered into a shower of tiny crystals.

She walked over and picked up the phone, her eyes straying back to the open doorway. "You're wrong, Lieutenant Chambers," she stated softly. "It's you who'd better watch her back."

Awards.A few odds and ends...things of sentimental value.

And pictures.lots of pictures.

These were the things that first caught Sara's eye as she gave the room a cursory look. Expecting to find another bedroom, she was caught off guard when she first entered the previously locked room. There was a small leather couch against the windows, and an oversized chair with an ottoman tucked in the corner. A small cedar chest sat perched in the middle of the room, serving as a makeshift coffee table. The furnishings were so completely different from the rest of the house, that for a moment, Sara thought she had stepped into the Twilight Zone.

But, it was the photographs that told the real story. They were everywhere. Some in frames, some strewn about on the furniture, but most of them were in the stack of photo albums piled on the floor. And everywhere she looked, Sara could see Billie's face staring back at her.

As she moved about the room, Sara touched the pictures, her fingers outlining the contours of Billie's face. She smiled, warmly, as she spotted an image of the brunette as a small child, a favorite doll clutched in her tiny hands. There was another shot of her, a school picture Sara could guess, standing proudly as she clutched a medal hanging around her neck. As she moved it aside, another picture was revealed.

It was Billie dressed in her police uniform. She had her arm wrapped around a fellow officer, a young woman with dark hair. Both were grinning from ear to ear, and the smile Sara had flashed in response, suddenly disappeared. As she looked around, a sense of profound sadness suddenly gripped her.

This was Billie. The real Billie. The one she didn't know.

"What are you doing in here?"

The voice startled Sara, causing her to jump to her feet. The photograph fell from her hand as she spotted Billie's angry visage standing in the open doorway. She stood, unmoving, as the brunette started toward her.

"This door was locked when I left," she commented. After a moment, she laughed, although there was no humor in it. "Look who I'm talking to, a woman who has no concept of preserving someone else's privacy."

Sara opened her mouth to apologize, but snapped it shut as the other woman reached down and picked up the picture she'd dropped.

Billie held it between her fingers, looking at it intently. "Where the hell are you when I need you?"

The blonde caught a brief flash of pain in those blue eyes. She was at a loss, not fully understanding what was going on. "I'm-"

"Don't apologize," Billie cut her off with a wave of her hand. "I asked for it." She turned and left the room, still clutching the picture, tightly.

"Billie, wait!" Sara called out as she followed the brunette into the hallway. She reached out and clutched Billie's arm. "Look, I.I was just curious, okay?"

"Fine." With a quick tug, Billie was in motion once again. She moved swiftly down the stairs and disappeared into the kitchen.

Sara stood silently, looking down over the living area. What the hell was going on? Why had Billie reacted that way over a few pictures? Hell, it wasn't like Sara was robbing her or anything. Truthfully, she didn't even understand why the room was locked in the first place. "This is ridiculous," the blonde muttered as she trotted down the stairs.

She came around the corner and cautiously poked her head into the kitchen, not entirely certain that the brunette wouldn't knock her flat on her ass. She certainly seemed mad enough to do it a moment ago. "Billie?"

"Sara, please just leave me alone."

Sara spotted the young woman sitting on a stool, the photograph now lying on the counter in front of her. She came forward, slowly. "I'm sorry if I've `invaded you privacy'," she said, her tone a bit more flippant than she meant it to be.

Billie looked up at her, her gaze unreadable. "That's the least of what you've accomplished."

Sara looked puzzled. "What does that mean?"

The brunette let out a long breath. "It means.I." She got up and began to pace, her arms waving about as she struggled to put her feelings into words. Being expressive when it came to anything other than her job was just not easy for her. "I can't do this." She stopped and stared at Sara, causing the blonde to fidget under the weight of her intense gaze. "I'll protect you.I promise you that. But, I can't.I can't."

"You can't what?" Sara nearly shouted in frustration.

"I can't get attached to you," Billie finally said.

Sara stood there, stunned. That was certainly the last thing she had expected to hear from this woman. She cleared her throat and said softly, "I didn't realize you wanted to." Her heart began to beat faster.

"I didn't either.until two days ago." The breath suddenly fled from Billie's lungs as she looked at Sara's face. There was such a chaotic mix of emotions there. Hurt. Anger. Want. She understood them all, because she felt them too.

"If this is about what happened upstairs."

"No," Billie stated emphatically. "That has nothing to do with this. or you." She looked away from those simmering blue eyes, certain her resolve would crumble if she didn't.

Sara found herself moving before she even realized what she was doing. Allowing her emotions to rule her was how she'd gotten taken in so easily in the first place, and if she had half a brain, she would put as much distance between her and Billie Chambers as she could. But, she simply could not stand to look at that hurt, wounded expression on Billie's face any longer.

There was a brief moment when Billie knew that if she kissed those lips, she would be lost. And in truth, a part of her desired nothing more than to let Sara Matthews swallow her up and make her disappear. She wanted it, craved it, with an intensity that scared her to her very core. If she allowed Sara in, gave her access to the places where no one else had been, it would change her. She was certain of that. The only thing she didn't know is whether that change would be for good or bad.

Two warm hands cupped Billie's face and she closed her eyes, giving herself over to the woman who was poised to kill her only yesterday. She could feel the heat of that body getting closer, and she gently parted her lips, waiting to die.

"Kill me slowly, Sara."

Sara's body went rigid as she froze in place. "What?"

Billie opened her eyes, and the moment was gone.

Part 5

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