Chapter 11 – Stand-off

A/n: Woohoo! Thank you for all your lovely reviews : )Tomorrow I am going to Spain so this is a bit of a rush. Hope everyone else enjoys their holidays. On with the action…

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Ana watched the stand-off below, frozen with apprehension, heart pounding. The silence stretched on, and on, until it seemed like the scene was nothing more than a tableau, a freeze-frame, a museum-piece in confrontation. Niobe was braced in a fighting stance, but it was clear that she was resting nearly all of her weight on one leg. She was trapped, unable to move.

As Ana looked down, she could see every detail - Niobe's cornrows, gathering her unruly black hair into submission; the malicious glint of Smith's sunglasses and the unnaturally straight parting of his slicked-down hair ; the curl of Niobe's slender brown fingers as she aimed her gun unwaveringly at Smith. Smith, too, held a gun, but his aim seemed decidedly lax, conveying his sense of complete superiority. Ana realised that the glowing 'auras' around them were gradually intensifying, yet neither combatant had commented on this strange phenomenon, or given any indication that they could see them. Niobe was now surrounded by a deep red haze, Smith shimmered green.

Finally the silence broke. "Miss Garcia, I must express my pleasure at our unexpected meeting." Smith's tone was positively dripping with sarcasm. To Ana, every feature of his face conveyed disdain and mockery.

"No, really, the pleasure is all mine", Niobe responded dryly, the sarcasm in her lilting voice echoing Smith's. She had not moved her gun, but the slight tightening of her face betrayed the pain she was in.

Ana shifted her position slightly, endeavouring to gain a clearer view of Niobe's leg. She was careful to make no sound, but suddenly both heads flicked up to pinpoint the rooftop where she was hiding. Swiftly Ana ducked her head down, but she knew it was too late. They must have seen her, with the superhuman senses that they seemed to possess. Her body was overtaken by a rush of ice as she waited for the shout and the inevitable discovery. But the expected shout did not come, and after several moments of complete terror that seemed to stretch into eternity, she dared to look again. Once again, the man and woman were facing each other, seemingly oblivious to all else. Ana let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding. Her left leg was filled with darting cramps, but she dared not move again.

"Miss Garcia, why the pretence? We both know that your death is both imminent and inevitable."

Niobe did not stir. Although her eyes were shielded by sunglasses, Ana could tell they were fixed directly on Smith, waiting for him to move. Why had he not fired the gun yet?

Smith flicked his left hand in a dismissive gesture.

"Yes, I know of your so-called reputation. Supposed to have killed an Agent, no less."

His smile was slow and malevolent.

"I care nothing for false rumours and inflated human pride."

He spat the word human as though it was an indecent and filthy word. He left a pause. For dramatic effect? wondered Ana. He certainly seemed to have a talent for drama.

"But you will die, Miss Garcia. Just like the rest of them. For all your grand ideas, you are nothing more than animals. So let me put you out of your misery."

Time seemed to slow as he raised his gun, his cuff shifting back to expose a sliver of pale arm.

Suddenly, Trinity appeared in the alley entrance, skidding to a halt as she took in the situation in a millisecond. With a torn scream she launched herself at Smith, although she already knew it was too late.

But Ana had already acted on the burning, all-encompassing impulse that had guided her to this place.

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A/n: Sorry it was short! I will try and write more when I get back. Please review.