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 7

Hey girl, I betcha
There's someone out to getcha.
        - Dominic Ierace

"Just keep tabs for me, okay?"

Sara turned onto her stomach, her arm reaching out in search of another warm body.

"Don't worry, I'll call him."

There wasn't one.

"I'll handle it."

She opened her eyes. The other side of the bed was empty. Shit.

"Yeah, I will. Thanks, Deaq."

Soft footsteps padded around the bedroom, causing Sara to groan in protest. "It's too early." She rolled onto her back again, watching through tired eyes as Billie tossed her cell phone onto the bed.

"Time to hit the showers," Billie called out as she disappeared into the bathroom.

Sara propped herself up on her good arm and hollered back, "Is that an invitation?"

The brunette poked her head around the doorway. She held her hand up, fingers splayed as she showed the blonde the flat of her palm. "If we can do it in five minutes." And then she was gone again.

"It'll take me that long just to get my hopes up," Sara muttered as she dropped her head back to the pillow. She pulled at the sheet, catching the faintest hint of Billie's perfume as she gathered it in her hand and tucked it under her chin. Yesterday she'd woken up to the exact same thing. Of course, then it had only served to make her feel miserable.

But, not today.

"What a difference a day makes," she spoke aloud to the empty room. And it had certainly been an eventful twenty-four hours. She and Billie were together.really together this time, and she wasn't even sure exactly how it happened. But, whatever the reason, she couldn't be happier. And she was fairly certain that Billie felt the same way.

"Four minutes," Billie shouted from the bathroom.

"Shit," Sara exclaimed as she threw the covers back and scrambled out of bed. She could hear the water being turned on as she headed toward the bathroom door. "Hey, don't start without me." She walked in to find Billie standing with one foot in the bathtub, and Sara paused, looking over the brunette's naked form. The lightly tanned skin, soft gentle curves, and perfectly toned muscle. The blonde stood motionless as her mind began to imagine all of the things she was going to do to that body.

Billie glanced over at Sara. "What?"

Sara sighed, shaking her head slowly as she fixed her lover with a seductive gaze. "We are gonna be so late."

Deaq looked up as Van walked into Billie's office. "Hey man, where have you been? Or am I the only one who works around here anymore?"

Van dropped into an empty chair. "Where's Billie?"

"M.I.A.," he replied. "Like she's been for the past two days." Deaq pounded on the keyboard of Billie's computer. "And this damn thing."

"I don't think you're supposed to do it like that."

"Hey listen up V. I've gotten three, count `em, three calls from Parish this morning. And he is not a happy man, you know what I'm sayin'?"

Van looked bored. "So, call her cell phone."

"What do you think I am, stupid?"

"No, man, I don't think you're stupid."

"Well, thank you-"

"I think you're grouchy," Van nodded. "Definitely grouchy."

"Well, you would be too if you had that man chewin' yo' ass out for twenty minutes."

"What's he so worked up about?"

Deaq gave the computer one more try before finally throwing his hands up in frustration. "God damn, she's got this thing shut up tighter than a-"

Van leaned forward. "What's the problem?"

"The problem?" Deaq started, "I'll tell you what the problem is. Boss lady is too damn paranoid, that's the problem. All these friggin' encryption codes, security passwords-"

"I'm talkin' about Parish!"

"Oh.yeah." Deaq decided to abandon any hope of getting into the computer and got up from Billie's chair, walking around to the other side of the desk as he took the empty seat next to his partner. He gave Van a sober look. "Seems like downtown's sprung a leak."

Well, now Van had an idea as to why the Captain was so upset. "Someone eyeing the Candy Store?" he questioned.

"No," Deaq answered slowly. "Just the person who runs it."


"That'd be the one."

"They know who?"

"Nope." Deaq gave the other man a sidelong glance. "But, Parish is pissed as all hell. I guess Billie knew about it, but didn't tell anyone."

"Shit," Van muttered. It was so like Billie to keep something like this under wraps. She was always playing it close, even with them. Deaq was dead on about her being too damn paranoid. "They get anything?"

"Nobody's sayin'," Deaq answered. "Hell, I even asked Billie straight up, and all she said was `I'll handle it'."

"So, what the hell are we supposed to do?"

"The boss wants us to do a little surveillance work." Deaq stood up and headed toward the door.

Van pushed himself up from his chair, slowly following behind his partner. "You mean she wants us to sit on our asses, while she gets all the action."

Sara pressed her lips to Billie's neck as her arms snaked around the brunette's waist, pulling her closer. Soap-covered hands slid over the taut stomach, leaving a trail of lather as she continued to explore Billie's wet body.

Billie leaned back against the young blonde, losing herself in those talented hands as they traveled to all the right places, slowly tilting her head back to rest on Sara's shoulder.

"Billie," Sara's soft whisper brushed against the young woman's ear, causing her to shiver, involuntarily. "You're so beautiful." She touched a delicate ear with the tip of her tongue, before taking the lobe between her teeth. Teasing fingers brushed across the brunette's painfully erect nipples, causing Billie to suck in a sharp breath. She couldn't believe how close she was already, and Sara had barely touched her, which just proved the whole quality over quantity theory.

With a soft moan, Billie pulled away, turning her body so she and Sara were face to face. She reached her hands up, pulling the blonde close and down as she captured those sweet, moist lips with her own.

Sara's response was immediate as she wrapped her arms around Billie and held her tightly, enjoying the friction of their breasts pressing against each other. She could feel a hand sliding down her back, coming to rest on the gentle curve of her cheek.

The kiss became more demanding as Billie slowly pressed Sara back until she hit the wall. The hand that had been on the blonde's backside now coursed its way lazily around her hip and up along her side, until finally seeking out her left breast. The brunette massaged it gently at first, her thumb barely grazing the pink bud at it's center as she stared intently into those endless blue eyes.

Sara found herself riveted to that gaze as she felt Billie's other hand slip between her legs. The barest touch caused her to jump slightly, but she couldn't look away. Those ice-blue orbs had her frozen to the spot, and she found herself almost ready to beg the brunette to take her.

For several seconds the two women stood there, their flushed faces and aroused bodies engulfed in steam as the water pelted down on them, neither one able to move or speak, as though woven in a spell of their own design.

Finally, Billie moved in even closer, her fingers seeking out Sara's most intimate place as she once again covered the blonde's wet, swollen lips with her tender mouth. Sara's breathing became labored as she dug her fingers into Billie's back, desperate to get as close to her as possible.

They moved together, hips and hands joined in an exquisite rhythm, as their passion for each other took complete control. Sara could feel herself about to come, and suddenly Billie's hand slowed its movement, causing the blonde to almost cry out in frustration. She tilted her head back as Billie kissed a trail of fire down her neck.

"God.Billie," the blonde's voice came out in a harsh rasp. "I.I need."

A soft, smoky voice spoke into her ear, "What do you need, Sara?" The brunette slowly picked up the pace again as Sara's ragged breaths caressed the side of her face. Her thumb pressed against the blonde's aching clit as she whispered, "Tell me."

"You.uhh.I.aah," the blonde's body was grinding against Billie's hand as she felt the tension building to an almost unbearable level. She forced herself to open her eyes, as she sought out the warm, passionate gaze of her lover. There was no denying the need her body felt for this woman, and she knew wherever her body went, her heart would soon follow. "I.I.need you," she finally gasped.

Billie leaned in and kissed her tenderly, surprising even herself as she admitted, "I need you too, Sara."

The blonde cried out softly as the wave she was riding finally crested, every muscle in her body feeling the ripples of pleasure as they coursed through her. She came for what seemed like an eternity, until finally feeling as if her knees were about to give out and she leaned heavily on Billie to keep from falling.

The brunette slipped her arms around Sara's petite, exhausted body as she waited for the blonde to recover. A pair of sapphire eyes locked on her, and she grinned mischievously. "I think that was more than four minutes."

Sara could feel her frantic heartbeat beginning to slow as she pressed her lips to Billie's cheek.her jaw.her neck. Soft lips closed around a hardened nipple as the brunette moaned softly. The blonde slid her hands along the length of Billie's torso, caressing the smooth skin as she knelt down in the bathtub.

A brief look of disappointment crossed the brunette's face as she felt Sara's mouth leave her breast, followed by a quick gasp as those soft lips reapplied themselves a bit further down. Billie put one hand on the wall and the other grabbed the handle of the shower door as she tilted her head back and moaned, "We are gonna be so late." She looked down at the blonde head nestled between her legs, nearly coming on the spot as Sara glanced up and flashed her a wicked smile.

"You drive fast."

Billie glanced over at Sara, her hair tousled from the wind, and smiled. "I got us here on time, didn't I?" She got out of the car and joined Sara at the curb, her eyes constantly moving about, taking in the myriad of faces around them as they climbed the steps to the courthouse.

"You expecting trouble?"

The brunette smiled to herself. Sara certainly didn't miss a thing. "No, but I try to always be ready for it." As they reached the main doors, the blonde suddenly stopped. Billie gave her a look of concern. "Are you alright?"

No.she wasn't all right. Far from it, in fact. She was about to go inside of this building and betray the best friend she'd ever had. But, she couldn't really explain all of this to Billie and expect the woman to have any sympathy for Jill, not after what had happened between them. Instead, she responded with a simple, "I'm fine."

Billie pulled her badge from her pocket, clutching it in one hand as she took a hold of Sara's hand with the other. "Come on. Let's just get this over with."

They entered through the main doors and stopped at a security check. Billie showed them her badge and ID, then removed her weapon and placed the items on a small conveyor belt. After stepping through the metal detector, she took everything back from the uniformed guard.

"Thanks, Lieutenant."

Billie nodded at the young man as she watched Sara walk slowly through the makeshift doorway, her eyes looking up as though it might sound an alarm at any second. The brunette couldn't help but smirk at her. "The speed of your movement doesn't make any difference you know."

Sara smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, but I have a thing about alarms."

"I can only imagine," Billie replied dryly.

The two women walked up another flight of stairs and headed toward a group of offices at the end of the hall. As they got closer, Sara began slowing her pace as she placed a hand on her stomach. "Umm. Billie?"

"Lieutenant Chambers."

Billie seemed not to hear Sara, instead focusing her attention on the figure that suddenly appeared behind them, the familiar voice and the use of her rank causing her to take notice. As she turned around, a large figure loomed near an open doorway.

"Captain?" Billie didn't bother to hide her surprise at his sudden appearance. "What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you," came the subtle reply.

The brunette put on her game face, not even fully aware she was doing it as she felt a hand touch her arm.

"Billie?" Sara repeated.

"Uhh.yeah," she returned her attention to her boss. "We were just on our way to meet with Williams." She motioned to Sara. "This is Sara Matthews. She's going before the judge today.as a part of her plea agreement."

"I know," Parish confirmed. His gaze remained focused on the young lieutenant. "You still have some time to spare, so why don't we talk for a minute?" His tone indicated that it was not a request.

Judging from Billie's demeanor, Sara assumed this man was probably her boss. She was fairly certain that captains outranked lieutenants, and it seemed as though he had some kind of authority over her.

She continued to hold a hand to her stomach as she took a quick look around, spotting a restroom nearby. If she could just have a moment to herself before the meeting, maybe get a drink of water or something, she thought she'd be all right. She turned to Billie and said, "Why don't I just head down there now and you can catch up?"

Billie was torn for a moment. She didn't want to leave Sara alone, but Williams's office was within sight, and it's not like she was in any real danger at this point. Besides, judging from the look on Parish's face, she highly doubted the man would take no for an answer. "Okay." She watched as Sara started down the hall before turning back to the Captain. "In here?" she asked, pointing to an empty office.

The captain waved a hand. "After you." He gave Sara a parting look as he followed Billie in and closed the door behind him.

Sara cupped her hands together and held them under the faucet, leaning over the sink as she gently splashed some of the cool water on her face. She was still feeling a bit queasy, but it seemed as though the worst of it had passed. The door behind her opened as she bent down again, the quick flash of a uniform catching her eye in the mirror as the woman passed behind her and headed into an empty stall.

Another quick splash of water was all Sara had time for as a pair of arms suddenly wrapped around her from behind, pinning her own arms to her side and slamming her, head first, into the wall. The mirror in front of her cracked under the impact, and she suddenly found herself being pulled back, only to be shoved forward again, the second blow nearly causing her to black out.

She struggled weakly, still dazed as she felt the body behind her pressing down on her, one arm remaining wrapped around her upper body, while a forearm began pushing against the back of her neck, slowly forcing her head down into the sink.

The blonde could barely think as she caught a brief glimpse of the faucet, and then her face touched the cool porcelain. The water began to pool at the bottom as Sara's head was now serving as a makeshift plug, and within seconds, she realized the water level was rising. Her attacker had successfully managed to leave her without any leverage, and she tried pushing back against them, to no avail.

Hot breath scalded her ear as a woman's voice whispered menacingly, "Forget the deal, Sara."

The water was beginning to cover Sara's face, and her attempts to break free were becoming even more frantic, but the woman held her fast. A few more seconds ticked by, and the blonde gasped as her face was pushed beneath the surface. She tried to hold her breath, but the head and arm were throbbing painfully, which made it more difficult for her to concentrate. Just as she took in a mouthful of water, the arm let up slightly, and Sara sucked in precious air before releasing it again in a violent cough.

More pressure pushed her back under again, and Sara could feel her lungs burning for air. The voice was back in her ear once more, speaking in a soft dangerous tone. "Or the next time it'll be a bullet. One for you.and one for that pretty little fucktoy cop of yours."

Sara was pulled up and shoved forward violently, her head smashing into the wall a final time. The woman took a step back as Sara dropped to the floor bleeding and unconscious, and removed a camera from her pocket. She snapped a couple of shots before tucking it back in her pocket, and then casually headed out the door.

"I'll handle it."

Parish looked at Billie with a somber look. "You are not an island unto yourself, Billie. When you found out about this, you should have called me right away. Your group does not need this kind of scrutiny."

"I realize that," she conceded. "But, it's not like I asked for this."

"That's not exactly true, is it?" the Captain questioned. "You put yourself in the middle of this long after you should have been gone. Remember the agreement we made?"

Billie sighed as she leaned back against an empty desk, her eyes suddenly interested in the floor. "I know."

"Then, why are we having this conversation?" Parish questioned. "Sara Matthews will see the judge today, and the deal is done, which also means your job is done, as well. Period."

"She'll still need protection until the trial," Billie reasoned.

"Which we have an entire police force just waiting to provide," her boss pointed out. "Your priority is to find out where this leak goes and then plug it fast."

"I already have a good idea as to where it goes," the brunette informed him.

Parish nodded. "Good. Then you're halfway there, already."

Billie looked over at him. "I still think-"

The door suddenly opened, effectively silencing them as Warren Colby stood in the doorway. "Lieutenant, you better come quick."

Billie straightened up, her gut tightening as she saw the serious expression on the young lawyer's face. "What is it?"

"Sara Matthews was attacked."

Part 8

And if you live through this with me,
I swear that I would die for you.
        - Courtney Love

Billie stood like a sentry outside the doors of the trauma room, her clothing stained with Sara's blood. It had been over an hour since they'd brought her in, and the doctors and nurses worked on her briefly before whisking her off for some tests. Of course, Billie had followed, always maintaining a respectful distance as the medical personnel did their job, but remaining close enough to keep Sara in view at all times.

As she watched through the window, Billie could see Sara lying on the table as people moved about, leaning over the young woman's prostrate form while they continued to assess her condition. She reached up to rub at her eyes, pausing in mid-air as she caught sight of the blood on her hand. Slowly, she brought her other hand up as well, staring at them as her mind suddenly conjured up the gruesome images she had been trying to push out of her thoughts for the past hour. But, her trained eye wouldn't allow her to forget a thing.

When she first caught sight of Sara's still form lying on that cold tile floor.deep gashes across her forehead, blonde hair matted with blood.there had been a brief second, a flicker of suggestion in the back of her mind that Sara was dead. And when she reached down and felt the young woman's steady pulse, her heart began to beat again. As she knelt there, trying to staunch the flow of blood from the young woman's head wound, Billie had silently vowed that she would stop at nothing to find the person or persons responsible. And of course, she already had a good idea who that was.

She seriously doubted that either Jill or Felicia had perpetrated the attack on Sara directly, but there was no doubt in her mind that they were the ones behind it. And once she knew for certain that Sara was out of danger, she would use everything at her disposal to bring them down.

There would definitely be hell to pay.

"Excuse me, Officer Chambers?"

Billie was jarred from her thoughts as she noticed one of the doctors leaning out the door to the trauma room. She dropped her hands to her side and said tersely, "It's Lieutenant." She knew she shouldn't get annoyed at the man, but she couldn't seem to help herself. What little patience she may have had under normal circumstances was, by now, completely dissipated due to the fact that it was Sara in there.

"Uhh.sorry, Lieutenant."

Billie nodded. "How is she?"

He pushed the door open further, stepping back to allow her entrance. "Why don't you come in and I'll give you the details." He paused for a moment, giving the hall a cursory look. "Are there any family members here?"

"No," the brunette replied as she walked by him.

Sara still lay quietly in the center of the room. Billie walked closer, turning back to the doctor as her unspoken question was answered.

"It's okay. We're done working on her for now."

The brunette approached the table and reached out for Sara's hand. She clasped the limp fingers, gently, leaning over the blonde as she spoke softly, "I'm here, Sara."

The doctor came up behind her. "She still hasn't regained consciousness, and that's a cause for concern. But, it's not entirely unusual, given the type of injury."

Billie turned her attention to the doctor while still keeping a hold on Sara. "Which is what?"

"Her head CT indicates she has a skull fracture. It's a linear fracture, which means there is no depression of the bone and no fragments to be concerned about. There's also no sign of any bleeding, bruising, or swelling.so far."

"But, there's a chance that could change?"

"With a head trauma, we could expect to see symptoms of that nature within the first ten to twelve hours. Once she makes it beyond that, she should be in good shape." He walked around to the other side of the table and removed a pen from his pocket as he grabbed a pad of paper. "She may also have a concussion, but I'll need to do a few more tests once she regains consciousness." He glanced up from his writing to look at Billie. "Is there anyone we should notify?"

Billie shook her head. "She doesn't have any family." At this point, there wasn't too much about Sara that the young lieutenant didn't know, having had her thoroughly investigated prior to her arrest. At the time, she kept telling herself it was purely a professional interest, of course, but now she knew better. "I have two officers outside that'll be staying with her."

"We'll be transferring her to a room-"

"A private room," Billie interrupted.

"Of course," the doctor replied.

A gentle squeeze of Billie's fingers drew her attention back to the blonde. She leaned in closer, watching as Sara's eyelids fluttered, her lips parting slightly as she tried to speak.

"Sara?" Billie's tone was full of worry. "Sara, can you hear me?"

The blonde let out a small moan as she attempted to move her head. "Billie?" A pair of glazed blue eyes slowly focused on the young brunette and she was quite sure she had never been more relieved to see anything in her life.

"I'm here."

The young woman's eyes seemed to clear a bit more as she took in the mix of emotions on Billie's face. She saw concern there, anxiety, anger.and maybe something else. She tried to offer a smile, but with her head pounding out a rhythm akin to a high school marching band, it quickly turned into a grimace of pain. Another voice sounded to her left.

"Can you tell me your name, Miss?"

Sara remained fixed on the brunette's eyes. "Sara." she cleared her throat and just that tiny bit of exertion caused her to bite back a whimper at the throbbing it caused. "Sara Matthews," a quick smile made it to her lips as she added, "Thief extraordinaire."

Her comment had the desired effect as Billie smiled. "Ex-thief."

"Oh, yeah."

"Miss Matthews," the doctor spoke up. "Do you hear any ringing in your ears?"

The blonde finally glanced at him. "No. What happened? Where am I?"

"You were brought to the emergency room with a head injury," he replied blandly as he looked over at Billie.

"A...a head injury?" Sara looked at the brunette in confusion. "Billie?"

Billie lifted Sara's hand and squeezed it tighter as her expression became more serious. "You were attacked, Sara.in the courthouse. Do you remember?"

The blonde fixed her with a blank stare. "Uhh.no." Billie shot the doctor a look of concern as he brandished a pen light from his pocket, leaning in to shine it in Sara's eyes.

"Memory gaps often occur with this type of injury," he remarked. "It's possible it'll return in time. Can you rate the pain for me? One being the lowest and ten being the highest?"

Sara seemed to consider the question for a moment before replying, "I'd have to say 80." She closed her eyes briefly before repeating her earlier question to Billie. "What happened?"

"I'd like to do a few more tests," the doctor commented to Billie. "Would you mind waiting outside?"

"We'll talk in a few minutes." Billie gave the blonde a reassuring smile. "I'll be right outside," she soothed, giving Sara's hand a firm squeeze before letting go with some reluctance. As she headed out of the room, the brunette turned back and pointed her finger at the door for emphasis. "Right outside."

As she exited, a uniformed officer approached her and said, "They just picked her up, Lieutenant."

"Good," Billie replied. "Tell them to hold her until I get there." The man nodded and grabbed his radio as he walked away. She shot a look toward the trauma room and muttered softly, "I'll get them, Sara. I promise."

"You're satisfied?"

Felicia glanced down at the open envelope on the desk, her fingers tapping idly on the corner of a photograph, which lay atop its contents. "I am. Now, what of the other matter we discussed?"

There was a brief pause. "It's taking longer than I expected."

The blonde leaned forward in her chair, holding the picture up to examine it more thoroughly. She hadn't expected it to be so violent, although she wasn't about to complain. As far as she was concerned, the traitorous bitch had gotten exactly what she deserved. "I want information. And I don't like to be kept waiting."

"My source is working on it even as we speak."

"Hey, Ollie!"

Oliver Mason picked his head up from behind a monitor, flashing a quick smile before immediately returning his attention to his computer. The LAPD computer lab had been under intense scrutiny since the breach was discovered, and he had been working around the clock in an attempt to track down the source. Unfortunately, he'd been largely unsuccessful, and this did not cast him or his department in a good light.

A petite redhead made her way to his desk and leaned against the corner, striking a casual pose. It wasn't easy trying to look sexy in such a drab uniform, but she knew the young man sitting in front of her wasn't too particular about such things. "Are we still on for tomorrow night?"


The man had barely acknowledged her presence, and she was beginning to find that annoying. "Ollie?"


"Are you there?" she asked as she reached over and rapped her knuckles against the top of his head.

He finally glanced up, staring at her blankly for a moment. "What?" he asked and then shook his head vigorously. "I'm sorry, Cathy. I've obviously been at this too long."

"What's got you so dazed and confused?" she inquired.

Oliver blew out a breath and leaned back in his chair. "I've just been working on something for Captain Parish, but I'm not really getting anywhere."

Cathy gave him a look of sympathy. "Anything I can help you with?"

"Not unless you know anything about hacking a mainframe," he responded sullenly.

"Sorry, but my expertise is limited to radio dispatch, remember?"

He smiled at her. "I think your level of expertise goes a bit beyond that."

"Why, Mister Mason, what are you suggesting?" she teased, bending lower at the waist as she leaned in closer to him.

"How about lunch?" he suggested, staring at her with hungry eyes, although food was the farthest thing from his mind.

The young woman's reply was soft and seductive. "Well, I am off duty, and my place is only a couple of blocks away. I think we could cook something up pretty quick."

"Not too quick," he countered. "I've been here all night. No one's going to miss me for a while."

The redhead grinned like a Cheshire cat. "Perfect."

"It wasn't Jill."

Billie continued to pace the length of Sara's hospital room, her arms folded across her chest as she contemplated the floor. "I agree. She wouldn't be stupid enough to go to the courthouse herself."

Sara frowned. "That's not what I mean."

The brunette stopped at the foot of the bed, fixing Sara with a stern look. "I know what you mean," she stated. "But, there is no way you're going to convince me that she had nothing to do with this.so don't even try."

"You don't know Jill," the blonde responded as she raised a hand to her forehead. Christ, she had never had a headache like this in her life. "She wouldn't hurt-"

"Your old pal is looking at two counts of attempted murder," Billie's angry retort cut off the young woman's response. "I've got a newsflash for you, Sara. Jill is not a fucking girl scout!"

Sara met the fury in Billie's eyes with a look of defiance. It was obvious that Billie was upset over what happened to her, and while she found that oddly comforting, she also knew that the brunette was clearly focusing her rage on the wrong person. Jill would not hurt her.not like this. Despite everything that had happened in the past week, that was one thing she knew for certain. "If." The blonde could see Billie opening her mouth in response and she quickly held her palm up to silence her lover. "If this had anything to do with Jill. then someone else was behind it." She could tell from the lieutenant's expression that they were thinking the same thing.

Billie tore her gaze away from the blonde and resumed her pacing. "On that score, at least, we can agree. There's no way Jill could have pulled this off alone."

Sara closed her eyes for a moment. Following the brunette's constant movement was beginning to make her head feel worse, if that was even possible. The last thing she wanted to do right now was get into an argument with Billie over her former roommate. They would never see eye to eye on that particular subject, so she couldn't even see the point in discussing it.

Hearing the details of her attack from Billie had been enough to shock her into relative silence since she had been brought to her room. It was unnerving to have no memory of such a traumatic event, let alone no knowledge of who had done it. The doctor told her it might come back to her at some point, but in the meantime, she could only sit here and ponder questions to which there were no answers. Of course, if the young woman wearing out the floor in front of her had her way, they would have some soon enough.

"Are you alright?"

A pair of anxious eyes greeted Sara as she looked at Billie, who was now hovering close to the side of her bed. Up to now the brunette had been operating in what Sara had come to think of as `cop mode', trying to keep her cool and remain detached from everything. Under other circumstances, Sara thought that was probably easy for her, having done her job for as long as she had. But, she could see the anger simmering just below the surface, and even though she hadn't known Billie very long, she knew she was the type of person that couldn't sit by and wait for something to happen. She would need to act, despite the consequences, and that single thought frightened Sara more than the idea of her attacker returning to finish what they'd started. She reached out and took a hold of the brunette's hand, gently coaxing her closer. "To tell you the truth, I'm a little worried."

Billie's expression softened. "Don't be. I won't let anyone get in here-"

"About you," Sara stated firmly.

"Me?" Billie questioned.

"I don't want you going off and doing something stupid."

Now it was Billie's turn to hold her hand up. "First of all, I don't do stupid. Second of all, I have a job to do. And part of that job includes looking after law-abiding citizens." She paused, her mouth curling up in a wry grin before adding, "And you."

Sara's expression remained serious. "Just promise me you'll be careful around Felicia Ralston. There's something about her." she trailed off, unable to offer anything concrete to back up her suspicions about the woman, but still feeling a need to warn Billie, nonetheless. She knew there had been some kind of confrontation between the two women, and even though Billie had been vague about the details, Sara was certain that they shared the same concerns.

In an uncharacteristic move, Billie leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Sara's bandaged forehead. "I promise." She pulled back and offered the young blonde a tender smile. "You be careful, too." Her expression suddenly hardened as she reached into her jacket pocket. "And remember, anyone comes in that doesn't belong here, you use this," she held her hand out, producing a small .22 caliber handgun. "It's lightweight, but very accurate at close range."

Sara's eyes widened, slightly, as she reached over and took the proffered weapon. "I.You really think I need this?"

The image of Sara's beaten body lying on that cold, bathroom tile leapt into Billie's head, once again. She looked down into those warm, blue eyes and answered honestly, "I'll feel better if you have some protection. Just don't shoot any of my people.or the hospital staff. They hate that."

A quick knock at the door drew their attention and Sara quickly tucked the gun under the sheets. Billie caught the movement out of the corner of her eye and leaned in, whispering in a conspiratorial tone, "You might want to think of a better hiding place for that or the nurse will find it when she tucks you in later."

"I was hoping you'd be here to do that."

Given the circumstances, Billie was surprised when that soft, smoky voice still sent a shiver down her spine. She glanced over at Sara, catching the smile that was being directed at her, and she couldn't help but smile back.

A uniformed officer entered the room. He nodded briefly at Sara before turning to Billie. "We just got a call from central. They're getting jiggy about her lawyer. I guess he's already making a big stink down there."

"Alright," the brunette sighed. "Tell them I'm on my way."

"Yes, Ma'am."

After he left the room, Billie turned to find Sara grinning at her. "What?"

The blonde lifted her hand in a mock salute and said teasingly, "Yes, Ma'am."

"Hey," Billie retorted. "It beats being called `Sir'." She took a step closer, reaching for Sara's hand as she lamented, "I've got to take off for a while."

"I know." Sara studied Billie's face, noting her troubled expression. "I'll be okay."

The brunette nodded slowly as she fixed the injured young woman with her most serious look. "Just remember what I said."

"If it doesn't carry a badge or a bedpan, shoot it."

"Right," Billie smirked. "Oh, I almost forgot." She grabbed another item from her pocket and handed it to Sara. "Keep my cell phone. I have a spare in my car." She pressed a couple of buttons as she held it up to the blonde's face. "Just hit the one and you'll get me."

Sara took the cell phone and dropped it in her lap, grasping Billie's other hand as she gently pulled the brunette don to her. She closed her eyes as a pair of warm, soft lips pressed against her own. Hesitating for a brief moment, she fixed her lover with a pointed look. "Watch yourself."

Billie flashed a quick smile. "Yes Ma'am." She let go of Sara's hands and headed for the door, pausing as she grabbed the handle. "Get some rest. I'll be as quick as I can."

"Which is how quick?" Sara asked good-humoredly.

"Faster than a speeding bullet." Billie gave her a quick wink and walked out the door.

Sara frowned, furrowing her brow as she continued to stare at the empty space Billie had occupied a second before, a faint echo of something suddenly touching her mind.


The word continued to ring out as she attempted to gather her fragmented thoughts. There was something there.and if her goddamn head would stop pounding for just a second, she might be able to figure out what it was, maybe put the pieces together.

A bullet.next time.

It started as a series of brief flashes. Water. Someone's voice. A mirror. She hit the mirror, but not before she caught a glimpse of. something. What was it?

A uniform.

"Oh shit," Sara muttered, feeling the bile rising into her throat as the attack came back in a rush of images, each one fitting together like pieces of a puzzle. In a matter of minutes, she could recall nearly every detail. "It was a cop?" She voiced the question to the empty room, the accusation hanging in the air as a feeling of utter panic seized her. "Oh, God."

The blonde immediately snatched up the phone to call Billie, but even as she started to press the buttons, she found herself slowly lowering it as she realized the magnitude of the threat that had been made.

This wasn't just about her. The woman had threatened them both, and had made it perfectly clear why she was doing so.and on whose behalf.

No, Sara chided herself. There was no way Jill could be behind this. She refused to believe that, which left only one other possibility. And if Felicia had somehow engineered this whole thing, then she was certain the woman had done it without Jill's knowledge.or her consent.

So, what now? She had to tell Billie. They were both in danger, maybe Billie even more so, given the fact that her attacker could likely be someone the lieutenant worked with, maybe even someone she knew.

Of course, Sara could just do as she was told and back out of the agreement. But, would that really keep them safe? And what would happen if she did? The D.A. would probably see to it that she served some time if she refused to testify. Unlike Jill, she didn't have some big badass lawyer in her corner.

Her other choice would be to seek protection from the LAPD. But, with the possibility of a bad cop in the mix, was that really a viable option? And that might help to keep her safe for the time being, but what about Billie?

Sara held the phone tightly in her hand as a number of scenarios played out in her head. But, no matter what plan she came up with, she always ended up in the same place, facing the same horrible realization.

She couldn't protect Billie.

A feeling of helplessness welled up within her, nearly causing her to cry out in frustration as she stared at the phone, her finger poised over the call button. Her attacker's warning had had the desired effect; she was in fear for her life.and Billie's. And now, she was completely unsure of what to do.

As she sat there, frozen in place, another thought suddenly occurred to her. She couldn't protect Billie, but maybe someone else could. It was a long shot, she knew, but she was getting desperate. After a few seconds of consideration, she pressed the number two on the cell phone, holding her breath as the line began to ring.

"Yeah?" A man's voice.

"Umm...are you a friend of Billie's?" Sara's voice came out haltingly.

"Who is this?"

The blonde closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Sara."

When the voice responded there was a definite note of concern. "Is she alright?"

"Yes...she's fine." She could hear a sigh of relief on the other end. "Do you know who I am?"

"Sara Matthews."

Sara laid her head back on the pillow, feeling a small sense of victory. If this person knew of her, she could only assume they must be someone Billie trusted. "Are you a cop?"

"Yeah. What the hell is goin' on?"

"I need your help," Sara pleaded. "I.I didn't know what else to do."

"Well, why don't you start by tellin' me why you called?"

The blonde hesitated for a brief second before asking, "What's your name?"

"Call me Deaq."

Part 9

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