Author's Note: I saw Red Eye yesterday and really enjoyed it. Although character development wasn't a huge part of the movie, Lisa Reisert and Jackson Rippner fascinated me enough that I wanted to explore them a little more. One-shot fic.
This was a lonely, gray place, Lisa Reisert thought as she followed the armed guard down the hallway. Her hands balled up into fists relflexively and she took a deep breath in a futile effort to slow her racing pulse. Just being here, just knowing that he was waiting for her in one of these rooms, brought back a torrent of emotions and memories, ones that she would rather bury and forget. But she couldn't forget, and that was why she was doing this.
Her mind cried out against this foolish plan of action – every instinct screamed at her to run away from the predator, not towards – but Lisa forged on, the click of her high heels on the tile a shrill counterpoint to the steady rhythm of the guard's boots. The institutional architecture dulled all concept of time and distance so much so that Lisa nearly ran into the guard when he suddenly pivoted to face a nondescript door. "Here we are, miss," he rumbled with a smooth bass voice as he drew open the door. It was comforting, Lisa thought, to know that he would be there, standing watch outside the room. "Right through there. Just pick up the phone and you can speak with him."
Lisa nodded her thanks, not trusting her voice at this point, straightened, and then walked into the dimly lit room. The three cinderblock walls were painted gunmetal gray, but on the fourth, there was a wide plexiglass window above a low shelf. A single chair was all there was in the way of interior decoration – that and the phone. Another deep breath carried her across the room and she sank down into the seat, glad for the uncomfortable support. One more moment before I look, she thought as she smoothed the wrinkles out of her wool skirt.
When she raised her eyes, she was immediately caught by that ice-blue gaze. Jackson Rippner's expression was perfectly neutral, his posture casual, as if he was completely unperturbed by his surroundings. Lisa bit her lower lip to keep it from quivering and picked up the phone, waiting until he mimicked her action. She had wanted to start off with some scathing remark, some witty, deprecating comment, but no words came, so Jackson took up the slack with practiced ease.
"Lisa. What a pleasant surprise. And here I was thinking you'd forgotten all about me." His voice was once again urbane without even a hint of a rasp. She thought she could see a raised scar on his throat, but the collar of his orange jumpsuit cast a shadow over the area. Those haunting eyes took her in and left her feeling completely transparent. "You're looking lovely, as always."
She wanted to scream at him, to pound on the plexiglass, anything to rattle him as much as he rattled her with those stupid words of his. She chose instead to play his game. "Why, thank you, Jack." The lightning-fast flash of anger in his eyes was a small victory, but it emboldened Lisa. "How does prison life suit you?"
Jackson leaned forward, his nose scant millimeters away from the barrier that divided them, his voice still light and airy. "Oh, you know – same old, same old. I'm a firm believer in the old adage that you can survive anything if you know it's temporary."
A chill ran down her spine at his words. "I wouldn't think a life sentence could be considered 'temporary.'"
With a careless shrug, Jackson settled back into his chair. "Let's stop playing games, Leese – we both know you didn't come here to discuss my emotional well-being. What do you really want?"
"What if I said I just wanted to see you squirm?" The rancor in her own voice startled Lisa, and sick fear oozed down the back of her throat and coiled in the pit of her stomach. This wasn't going at all how she'd planned.
There was stunned silence, and then Jackson chuckled, that familiar arrogant smirk twisting his lips. "So that's what this is all about," he said in tones laden with smug satisfaction. "You can't sleep, can you? And when you do manage to drift off, it's only to dream of blood and violence and death. It happens to the best of us, Leese – that first kill is always the hardest. You'll get used to it sooner or later – at first, you'll try to compartmentalize it, stuff it in a lockbox in a dark corner of your mind. But it'll get out, despite your best efforts, and then you'll find yourself growing numb to the pain and the horror, and before long? Well, before long, you're caught up in that endless cycle with no way out."
His smile broadened, and he pushed harder. "Poor, sweet Lisa. You came looking for some kind of difference between us, some kind of absolution, perhaps?" Watching the blood drain from Lisa's face brought back echoes of his time with her on the plane, and he thrilled at the feeling of control. She was putty in his hands. "It doesn't matter how hard or fast you run, Lisa – it'll always be there, that knowledge that you are capable of murder. Just like me."
"God, no!" Lisa flung the phone away from her as if it had burned her hand, and she stood up fast enough to knock over the chair. It clattered across the floor and the guard came rushing in to find her staring at Jackson, transfixed by that knowing smile and cold eyes.
"Miss, are you all right?" the man asked, righting the chair and approaching. When she didn't respond, he touched her elbow. Lisa jumped and looked away from Jackson, the connection shattered.
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," she said firmly, concentrating hard to keeping the quaver out of her voice. "I – I think I'm done here, thank you."
The guard looked from Lisa to the prisoner, who had calmy hung up his phone and sat watching them with just a trace of smile. He was a creepy one, all right, and the guard wondered what he had said to the young woman. "Okay, then. If you'll follow me, I'll escort you back to the entrance." Lisa nodded, but couldn't help casting one final glance at her foe.
What she saw there in his eyes chilled her to the core, and she knew she hadn't seen the last of Jackson Rippner.