DISCLAIMER: CSI and Cold Case are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't know the names of Lilly's cats, I don't even know if they have names, so I had to make them up.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Collateral Damage
By mirage


"Sara?" Lilly called out for her friend as she opened the door to her home. She cursed under her breath as she tried to balance the plastic bag containing their dinner and the bottle of red wine while retrieving her key from the lock. "I could use some help here."

"No, not you Oliver," she chided her cat and blocked his way with her feet, unbalancing herself even more when he tried to sneak out of the house. With a sigh she gave up, placed the bottle on the ground and scooped the slightly uncooperative cat up onto her now free arm. "Sara?" she once again asked as she entered her home. Lilly frowned when she realized that the lights were still turned off, the only illumination of the living room provided by the bluish glow of a running television set. Still carrying her cat, she got the bottle and her keys and closed the door behind her, making sure to lock it properly for the night.

She switched the light on and read the label of the wine bottle while carrying it and the cat into the kitchen. It had been bought by impulse, a sort of amends even though Sara had affirmed her that none was required. "You think she'll like the wine?" she whispered to the cat, stroking it under its chin. "I have to get on her good side." She still felt guilty for her 'quick' trip to the department. A trip that had taken up more than four hours when new evidence had shown up in one of her cold cases, necessitating to call in their main suspect and questioning him again.

It was the fourth time Sara visited her and the third time she had to shorten their time together because of work. She felt even guiltier as she knew that Sara didn't hold it against her, knowing how much work meant for her. Lilly knew that a bottle of red wine and Burritos weren't much, but she hoped it was at least a small sign of how much Sara meant to her.

"Where is she, Oliver? Upstairs?" She placed the bottle next to the sink and used both hands to hold Oliver in front of her face. "You have to work with me," she admonished him. "Be nice to her and stop scratching her. I want her to come here more often, but to achieve this we need to be nice, all of us." She emphasized her last words, searching the eye of her cat. The one-eyed cat looked back at her unimpressed, mewling when he demanded to be put down.

With a sigh Lilly released him, watching as he went straight for his bowl. "Four weeks of your favorite food if you play nice," she offered, shaking her head with a smile when she realized she tried to make a deal with a cat. "See what you make me do."

The smile vanished when her eyes fell on some crimson red drops close to the bowl. "Oliver." With two strides she was at his side and crouching down to examine the animal. Frantically her hands searched through his fur, the cat hissing in distress. She exhaled slowly when she found him unharmed, but then she remembered who else could be hurt and couldn't breathe at all.

"Sara." Her head snapped to the door. There was more blood on the floor. A steady trail led from the kitchen into the living room and to the front door. It wasn't enough for a deadly wound, but still enough to scare and worry her.

"Sara?" With a few steps Lilly was in her living room, scanning the room for Sara or any signs of a fight.

Nothing, her living room looked like always, the half empty coffee mug and the forensic magazine the only evidence that Sara had been there.

She ran up the stairs, taking two steps at once, searching every room of the upper floor. The bedroom, the bathroom, the guestroom, every room, she even took the small wooden staircase to search the attic.

Still nothing, no sight of Sara, only two irritated cats, swirling around her legs. She nearly tripped over Pete on her way back down, her banister the only thing that saved her from a broken neck. Lilly ignored the short sharp pain in her left ankle and jumped down the last steps, once again calling out for Sara even though she knew her girlfriend wasn't here.

"Fuck, where are you?"

It was difficult do think clear, her experience as a detective giving her enough possible scenarios of what could have happened. She tried to think of an easier, less terrifying explanation, but couldn't find one, her heart hammering too loud in her ears.

That's when she remembered Sara's cell phone; the brunette would never leave without it.

Fortunately she was still wearing her coat, her own cell phone fast retrieved from its pocket and she hit speed dial, waiting for Sara to pick up. Instead she heard the chirping sound of a cell phone close to her.

It came from her couch.

Frantically she turned over every pillow, even searched the cracks, but no phone. She forced herself to slow down and once again listen carefully to the sounds.

They didn't come from her couch, but from beneath.

Lying down onto the floor she saw the cell phone glowing in the dark under her couch and grabbed it.

Blood, there was blood on it.

Sara's blood.

She didn't care if she was overreacting but she would call her colleagues, calling in a few favors.

A knock on her door, interrupted her and she rushed over to yank it open, her hopes of finding Sara behind it once again crushed when her neighbor Mrs. Grant looked at her.

"Whatever it is, I don't have time for it." She spat out, already closing her door again.

"I'm, I'm sorry," stammered the other woman, clearly concussed and even more nervous than before. "It's just your friend."

"What is with her? Where is she?" Lilly had to hold herself back, or she would have taken the reluctant woman by her shoulders to shake the answer out of her.

"Oh, so she isn't back then?"

"Back, back from where?"

"I'm really sorry, Hector didn't mean to." at Mrs. Grant's words Lilly' face paled. Hector was her neighbors' dog, the same dog that once had attacked her cats.

Lilly spotted Sara the moment she entered the waiting room. The brunette sat huddled up in a corner and as far away as possible from the constantly coughing old woman to her right, her head resting against the wall to her other side.

"Sara." The brunette looked up when she heard her name, looking even more miserable when she recognized the caller.

"I'm fine."

"If you were fine you wouldn't be here." Lilly snapped, surprising herself and the old woman next to Sara who immediately stopped to cough. The woman paled even more when her gaze fell onto Lilly's service weapon which was still secured to her belt.

"I'm a cop." Lilly pulled her coat back further, revealing her badge. The other woman didn't seem convinced, but Lilly didn't care, at least the woman had stopped to spread her bacteria into the air. She turned her attention back to Sara. "How bad is it?" she asked, her tone concerned this time when she saw the blood stained towel that was wrapped around Sara's right arm, her left one putting pressure on it.

"I'll survive." Sara smiled feebly and looked down at her injured arm. "I ruined your towel."

"I don't care about the towel." She reached out to push some hair out of Sara's face, noticing the clammy feeling under her fingertips. "Why didn't you call me?"

"I lost my cell phone. My fingers." Lilly's gaze went to Sara's hands, covered in blood. "I grabbed my cell phone, but it slipped out of my fingers. I couldn't find it."

"I found in under the couch." Lilly answered. "Ever heard of public phones?"

"I thought I'd be back long before you're home and didn't want to worry you."

"How long have you been waiting?"

Sara shrugged with one shoulder. "Three hours maybe more."

"That's too long." Lilly looked around, her eyes settling on the working nurse at the reception. "I'll be right back." She patted Sara's knee before she headed over to the nurse station.

"Excuse me Ma'am."

The nurse didn't look up from her work at the computer, placing a note pad on the counter. "You need to fill out these forms and pull a number."

"She already has a number, but she's been waiting for three hours now."

Annoyed the nurse stopped her work to look at Lilly. "I'm sorry, but you see the waiting room is full, everyone has to wait and we don't make exceptions."

"I understand and under normal conditions I wouldn't ask this of you, but." She didn't come further as the angry nurse interrupted her.

"Miss." The nurse started.

"Detective." That at least stopped any further interruption from the other woman and just for the effect Lilly placed her badge on the counter. "She's a material witness of an assault and I need to take her to the department to get her testimony, but as long as she hasn't been treated I can't. You would really help me if you could push her up in line."

Lilly could see her resolution fortitude crumble and put on her most persuasive smile which had helped her in many interrogations.

It helped her this time too. "I see what I can do for you." A few clicks in her computer and some shifting of papers and the nurse looked up again. "You can bring her into Examination room 3, the doctor will be with you as soon as he has finished his latest patient."

"Thank you. You saved my life." Lilly thanked the nurse and walked back to Sara.

"You're next."

"What did you do?" Sara asked slowly, obviously suspicious and didn't make a move to stand up.

Lilly looked at the old woman next to Sara who seemed very interested in their conversation. "I tell you later." With grim satisfaction she noticed the disappointed expression on her eavesdropper's face.

As soon as they were out of her earshot Sara asked once again. "Spill it."

"I just explained your situation to the nurse."

Even in pain Sara was able to raise a disapproving eyebrow. "I told her, you're a material witness in a case."

"You lied."

"No, I didn't, I just exaggerated a little bit. But I promise you as soon as you feel better there will be an interrogation."

"Sick leave." Sara groaned as Lilly ushered her into the house. "Grissom's never going to give me time off again."

"Does it still hurt?" Lilly helped Sara out of her jacket, careful not to touch the bandaged arm and hung it next to hers.

The brunette shook her head. "It's still numb." She explained, referring to the anesthetic injection she had gotten before they had stitched her up. As if to proof herself one long finger poked at her bandage; causing her to grimace when she hit a stitch. Frustrated she plopped down onto the couch, cradling her right arm close to her chest, fretting over the two extra days off.

"You need anything?"

Sara shook her head before she leaned back, trying to get comfortable. "I'm fine." Despite her statement she closed her eyes, a deep frown forming on her forehead.

Lilly sat down on the armrest next to Sara and watched her closely, noticing the weariness and distress on her features. "You should lie down." She reached out and started to massage her neck, smiling when Sara relaxed to her touch.

"I just need a minute." Sara moved, resting her head against Lilly's tight, the rest of her body stretching out onto the couch.

"You need some food, your painkillers and sleep." Lilly disagreed.

"All I need is you." Her eyes still closed, Sara reached up to entwine her hand with Lilly's. They stayed in silence for a while and if it hadn't been for the tight grip Sara had on her hand, Lilly would have assumed that she had fallen asleep.

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault." Sara answered without moving or opening her eyes.

"Yes it is. I should have taken action the last time that dog attacked Oliver."

"It wasn't his fault." Sara interrupted her.

"He bit you."

"I was just collateral damage."

Lilly snorted at her girlfriend's self description. "You're not collateral for me."

Sara opened her eyes, her brown orbs piercing into Lilly. "Good to know." Her grip on Lilly's hand tightened and the blonde returned the pressure. "But still it wasn't his fault. Oliver started the fight. That cat has a mean right swing. I should know." Her last words were only mumbled, but Lilly had heard them nonetheless. More than once Sara had been the victim of Oliver's attacks. She started to apologize once again, but decided against it, already knowing what Sara would answer to that. Instead her fingers brushed over Sara's forehead, noticing somewhat relieved that it felt warm and dry to her touch, unlike earlier at the hospital.

"Thank you." She said instead, the small grunt and startle Sara gave as response alarming her, that her girlfriend had fallen asleep on her without her noticing.


"You should lie down upstairs," she repeated her earlier words. "But first you need to eat something." Lilly cursed when she remembered their dinner, still sitting cold and forgotten on the dresser. "The burritos are cold."

"I'm not hungry." Sara murmured, her intact arm covering her eyes.

"But you haven't eaten for hours and the instruction says to take the painkillers with something to eat." Lilly looked around. "I could make something." She offered.

"I pass," Sara lifted her arm high enough to look at the blonde. "I might be on medication, but I'm still not brave enough for one of your experiments."

"Pot, kettle." Lilly muttered, not loud enough for Sara to hear, remembering Sara's own experiments the last time she had visited her. "Take out it is." She announced louder." Pizza or Thai?"

Sara's arm lowered down again. "Pizza."

"Okay, Pizza." Lilly took Sara's arm, removing it from her eyes. "Go up now." She pulled her groggy girlfriend into a sitting position.

"I'll be with you as soon as the dinner is here." She leaned forward, placing a kiss on Sara's forehead. " If you're good, I'll might even feed you." The last comment caused Sara to look up more awake and with a glint in her eyes.

Sara pulled Lilly closer, wrapping her good arm around the blonde's waist. "I'll be very good." She promised with a smirk.

"Good." Lilly leaned down, capturing Sara's lips with her own, feeling her smirk against her kiss. When she broke the kiss and leaned back Sara followed her, unwilling to break the kiss. "Later." The blonde promised and hooked one arm under Sara's shoulder, hoisting her up.

Sara released a small grunt when she was finally standing. "This sucks." She mumbled and Lilly didn't know if she meant being hurt or that she had to wait for her reward.

Lilly watched as Sara slowly went up the stairs; staring at them still long after Sara had vanished into the bedroom. Her injuries would scar over, but other than that she would be fine.

She would be fine.

The blonde started to clean up, glad to have something to occupy her mind with. It worked as long as she didn't think about what it was exactly, she was doing.

She was wiping off Sara's blood from her floor. Her lover was hurt, because she had tried to save her cat, the same cat that hated her.

This could have ended worse, if the dog had hit an artery, if it had rabies or if the wounds became infected. Lilly knew her thoughts were irrational, born out of worry for a person she cared for, she might even……….

With newfound force she continued to wipe off the blood drops, pushing the last thought out of her mind.

Forty minutes later there was nothing else she could do. Her floor was cleaner than it had been in months, the cold burritos had landed in the trash and even the ordered Pizza had arrived. Grabbing the Pizza, she went to join Sara in her bedroom.

Silently she opened the door, not to disturb the resting brunette and slipped into the room. She smiled at the picture in front of her, Sara fast asleep on her side of the bed, probably knocked out by the pain medication she had taken as indicated by the open pill bottle and the half emptied glass of water on the nightstand. She placed the Pizza on her dresser and walked over to Sara's side to crouch down in front of her. Only now she was noticing the third presence in the room.

"She really likes us." Lilly whispered, her gaze wandering to the cat that had settled down next to the brunette. Her hand reached out to scratch Oliver under his chin. "We should keep her."

Oliver's content purring was all the confirmation she needed.

The End

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