DISCLAIMER: CSI and Cold Case are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Next part in the ‘Love me or Leave me’ series, sequel to “A Phone Call Away”.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By mirage


"Coffee?" startled Lilly's head snapped up surprised to find Vera standing in front of her desk, two coffees in his hands. She cursed herself for being too occupied to hear him approach. The room was silent, Vera and her being the only occupants at these late hours, she should have heard him.

Registering the fat grin he was spotting, she realized that he had sneaked up on her on purpose.

"I'm not interrupting, am I?" His grin grew even bigger and Lilly could have sworn he even wiggled his eyebrows before his eyes rested on her cell phone.

She snapped it shut and kept it in her hand secured. "No, no nothing." Even she knew that she sounded way too cheery and un-Lilly like and Vera knew it as well.

He still grinned at her, his hand still outstretched holding the offered coffee. "Coffee."

"Thanks." Lilly blushed as she took the offered mug and took a sip to dodge Vera's gaze. She looked up again, when she realized that Vera wouldn't just leave her alone.


The bulky man shrugged. "Just wondering." He said and drank from his own coffee before he cleared his throat. "It's Saturday night." Vera said like it would explain everything.

"And?" Lilly asked, her back straightening up. She already knew what he was indicating.

"Only old and lonely guys like me should be at work on a Saturday night."

Her expression softened and they shared a sad smile.

"It's complicated." Lilly finally answered, surprising them both that she was opening up enough to confess as much.

"You don't say." He obvious waited for her to reveal more, tapping back and forth, but Lilly Rush wasn't that easy to crack.

After a while he finally cleared his throat. "I should go back to work."

"Yeah, you definitely should." Lilly affirmed.

She waited till he had returned to his desk and sat down. His grin never left his face as he began to write his report, taking a bite from his donut every now and then. Only when she was sure that he was concentrating on his work she opened her cell phone again and continued to write her message. It wasn't much, just a town's name and a short reason.

Neillsville, Wisconsin.

World's largest replica cheese.

A triumphant smile graced her lips as she hit the send button and leaned back in her chair, slowly swinging it from side to side.

They had played that little game of theirs for nearly two months now, ever since she had suggested to take a vacation together. Till now they hadn't been able to put their plan into action. Not a day after their conversation Sara was called in, her overtime suddenly not important anymore when a high profile case came in and every hand was needed. After that a cold case showed up at her desk, one she couldn't pass to her colleagues.

Lilly wasn't sure they would have made this trip even if their work hadn't interfered, but it was fun to make plans and it gave her the possibility to stay in contact with Sara, to fix what she had nearly destroyed. They had started making plans, first serious and ordinary, places they always wanted to see. Lilly didn't remember who had started it, but suddenly this had turned into a playful competition in finding the most abstruse destination.

Sara's last suggestion had been Disneyland and she had laughed out loud when she had read it, earning worried glances from her colleagues.

It had been a hard one, but Lilly was pleased with herself for finding the largest replica cheese. No real cheese, but the replica of the world's largest cheese. "Top that!"

Her cell phone beeped, announcing the arriving of a text message. Automatically her hand reached for her cell phone, secured in the pocket of her coat, but she stopped herself, settling for a short squeeze through the fabric.

"You're not going to answer that?" Vera asked and she turned to the man on the passenger seat.

"It's not work related." She answered, her gaze returning back to the house they were observing.

"I don't mind."

"It can wait, it's not important." Lilly pulled her coat tighter around her body and turned up the collar to shield herself from the cold that had seeped into the car.

"Here." Vera handed her a cup of steaming coffee.

"Thanks." Grateful she laid both of her hands around the cup, cherishing the warmth it provided. She blew over the surface before she took the first sip from the dark liquid.

"What?" she asked when she noticed the amused gaze Vera was giving her.

"I detect a pattern here." His finger pointed from him to her and back.

Lily stared blankly at him, not understanding a word he said.

"I offer you coffee and you tell me about your private life." He elaborated.

"I didn't and I won't tell you anything," Lilly growled, sinking deeper into her seat. The possibility that she was stuck with Vera for an indefinite time was growing more and more unpleasant with ever passing minute.

In a gesture of defense the cop raised his hands. "I just try to stir up some conversation." His hand went to his neck, rubbing it. "I'm bored."

The confession elicited a short laugh from Lilly. "Next time bring the People magazine with you."

He tuned in. "I like gossip."

"It's my life, not gossip." They stayed silent after that, both nursing their coffees, gazes fixed at the house on the other side of the street.

Lilly had her hand in her pocket, fingering the cell phone and wondering what Sara might have texted.

"I won't peek." Her head snapped around the second time this afternoon at loss about the meaning of Vera's words.

"Read your message, I won't peek." Vera furrowed his brows, his gaze still directed at the house. "Or ask," he added.

Lilly waited a moment, the grip on her cell phone already tightened and finally she gave in, the curiosity winning. A smile formed on her lips when she read Sara's message.

"Good news?"

"Very good news." Lilly nodded her gaze once again settling on her cell phone.

Once again she read Sara's message.

It only contained one word.


Sara had topped her easily.

The End

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