A/N: After realising that this fanfic is still being read and favourited (thank you!), I decided to update it. I hope my looong absence can be forgiven with this chapter XD Let me know what you think of Jacknife and any ideas of what might have happened between him and Faith. Happy reading!
Disclaimer: not affiliated with Mirror's Edge.
"This is Hampton Town Access Point. Jacknife ain't far."
The words produced only a slight glimmer of hope. She lifted her head, gazing up at the circle of blue sky encased by the mouth of the storm drain. The sound of water rushing past swallowed every other sound – even that of her blood thudding in her ears. She sucked in a deep breath, mentally prepping her muscles for the ascent. Several balconies lined the drain until the top, interspersed with red pipes. She launched into a run, leaping onto several planks of wood strung through the centre of the drain. The planks quivered as she landed, seesawing as she hopped from the end onto a balcony. As soon as she landed, she moved into a wall run, making for the pipe that would bring her closer to ground level. She hoisted herself up onto the next balcony, glancing around her for the next point of her route. It was a precarious climb, she knew, and a dark, watery death lay below. She put it out of her mind, forcing herself to focus on the way the sky became brighter and the air fresher the more she climbed.
Working methodically, she picked her way through the balconies and pipes until she reached the final balcony. It wasn't high enough though and she stood for a moment, gazing down into the drain and pondering the crane operating system in front of her. The idea dawned on her half formed and she jammed down the button, figuring out what she'd do as the crane jerked into action and the planks below began to rise up from the depth. She leapt off the balcony onto the planks before her, holding her arms out for balance as she waited for the next bundle to rise up. When it was almost level with the one she stood on, she jumped onto the bundle, knowing that this one would take her to the top.
She wanted to enjoy the success of completing such a challenging run in one piece, but the disco whirl of police car lights and the angry shout of officers shattered the moment. She hit the ground running, fleetingly thankful for the hard kiss of concrete on her shoes. Shipping containers were stacked up around the mouth of the drain forming a haphazard barrier between her and the shotgun wielding Blues. Intuitively, she paused behind one container, catching her breath and straining her ears. She could hear footsteps approaching – one officer – he was standing right around the corner. This was her moment. She burst out from behind the container, rushing at the cop who was too slow to the trigger – Faith jammed one foot into his chest, causing him to loosen his grip on the M3 pump-action, dropping it to the floor. She grabbed it swiftly, using the butt of the gun to knock him out. Another officer appeared, racing through the corridor formed by two containers to her left. Faith froze, knowing exactly what she had to do next but fearing it – she was too close to perform evasive manoeuvres – she was no expert, but she could imagine the M3's range included her – and she was too far to disarm him safely. The comm. link was silent. She wished Merc would tell her what to do, or at least say something. She held her breath as she raised the shotgun, aiming for the officer's knee – painful, real painful, but not fatal. The sound of the bullet tore through the air and silence ensued, heavy and ominous. The recoil of the gun was surprising, causing her to reflexively take half a step backwards. The officer shouted in pain, his voice echoing around the loading dock, doubling over and dropping his weapon. Blood was sluicing from his shattered kneecap and Faith felt a pang in her chest – fear, worry…guilt. She couldn't stifle it. She raced past him, trying not to let the weight of the shotgun slow her down. Movement was her only option. She couldn't stop to ponder what she had just done, reminding herself that she had done what was necessary. She spotted the entrance to the Callaghan Construction building ahead, together with the barbed fence that squared it in. The name rung familiar to her – Mayor Elaine Callaghan was CEO of the massive construction company responsible for so many construction projects in the City.
She surprised one cop standing between two loading trucks, knocking him unconscious with the butt of the shotgun. Dropping the heavy gun, she raced to the blue truck parked beside the fence. It was the perfect platform. Scaling the side, she launched over the barbed wire, feeling the air zigzag between the barbs beneath her. She landed roughly, gritting her teeth as she focused her eyes on the entrance. Jacknife was close – very close.
The walls of the corridor inside were painted a nuclear green. The colour was garish and strained her eyes. She spotted an elevator at the end of the corridor and sighed in relief – a moment to rest. As the doors slid open, the comm. link crackled to life.
"Look, Jacknife may know something about Pope's murder, so don't let him wind you up okay. He used to be a pretty decent runner," (this last comment was said reluctantly, Faith noted.) "God knows who he's working for now."
She bit her lip, feeling the anxiety grow worse. Merc was right – Jacknife would try to wind her up, and that's what she dreaded. The elevator doors opened, revealing a short corridor. She walked out slowly, running over in her mind what she would say to him. She hadn't seen him in a long time and she hated that that would change now. The memories of him, vivid and alive, were enough – she remembered everything about him, from the first moment she laid eyes on him years ago. She was young, fresh to the game, impressionable…Now his face was flashing in her mind: the curve of his jaw, the way his tattoos crept up from his chest onto his neck, the smirk of his lips and the slant of his eyes…
She coughed, suddenly embarrassed with herself. The comm. link was suspiciously silent and she realised she hadn't responded to Merc.
"Right…going out onto the roof now."
"Got it," he said quickly, his voice strained. Faith noted absently that Merc sounded as nervous as she felt. She wanted to smile, but couldn't. She felt overwhelmed. She approached the door to the roof, pushing it open slowly, the cool of the air rushing in hungrily. As it swung open, she saw him standing on the edge of the building, the teal of his shirt as bright as the sky. He was grinning, like a wolf, as always, and his spiky hair didn't help the image.
"Hello Faith," he drawled, his voice smooth and controlled. Then in a flash, he pivoted expertly on his heel and raced away, grabbing hold of a zip line and launching off the edge of the roof. Her heart was in her throat as she followed him– she couldn't stop to consider how much she hated using zip lines and how high up she was and how crazy it all was – she just had to follow, to keep up with the task at hand. She followed him onto the next roof, sliding under a pipe that stood in her way. He had already launched onto the next roof and was moving into a roll. He moved like water, graceful and smooth. He was playing with her, she knew, like a cat with a mouse. She could picture his smirk as he fluidly monkey vaulted over obstacles. She raced after him for what felt like an eternity, hopping from roof to roof until her muscles screamed for respite, though he showed no signs of slowing, or fatiguing.
"Damn it," she hissed as he grabbed another zip line. She reached it seconds later, feeling the air whip violently in her short hair. Landing roughly on the roof, she heard Merc's anxious voice:
"Faith, you're losing him!"
He was right – she couldn't see him any more, though she had memorised his steps. She raced down towards an entrance to the building he had slipped through moments earlier. As she sped down the hallway, she was confronted by two elevators, one whose doors were sliding closed. Jacknife was inside, his grin so wide it infuriated her. He was waving too as the door shut. She growled angrily, hopping into the next elevator.
The trip up felt so slow she was sure he had already escaped. But when she burst out the door onto the roof, he was there. She caught his eye for a second before he had started running again, making for a ramp. She set off after him but felt like she was lagging behind – her muscles were filling with acid and her lungs felt like they were going to burst.
"Come on Faith," Merc whispered. She pumped her feet harder, watching Jacknife launch off the ramp. She stopped at the edge in time – he made to grab for a pole that hung down, but was too heavy, toppling the pole and landing in a heap on the roof. Faith felt her heart stop. Jacknife wasn't moving – he was just lying there.
She turned to her left, knowing she would have to take the long way around, though the idea of leaving him lying there, possibly severely injured, nagged at her. The trip took a few minutes – she knew she couldn't rush it and make a mistake like he did. When she had finally rounded her way to him, he was getting to his feet, the cocky expression still plastered to his face. A mixture of relief and regret bubbled up in her.
"I know what you're here for Faith," he said, smiling widely, his eyes dancing, the innuendo dripping from his words. She grit her teeth, wondering how she had ever found him bearable, let alone likeable…
"Just tell me what Icarus has to do with Pope's murder Jack," she demanded, her voice rising. He scoffed, shuffling restlessly on his feet.
"I heard a cop did it."
"You heard wrong."
His expression hardened now and the passage of years was clear on his face.
"You a wrestling fan Faith?" he asked nonchalantly, glancing around. She didn't respond, wary as he hopped onto the edge of the roof.
"Pope was a wrestling fan. He even employed an ex-wrestler to handle his security." He had turned to face her, the black of his jacket contrasting with the orange billboard behind him that read Burfield.
"Travis Burfield," he said, motioning grandly with his hand to the sign, "Used to go by the name of Ropeburn."
She was getting impatient, feeling disoriented with the information he was providing.
"Is this going somewhere?"
"Ropeburn…well he's really just a thug who got lucky." Jacknife hopped off the edge of the roof and sauntered back towards her. "Sometimes people are too ignorant to see their place." His voice had become menacing. "Always want to swim in the big pond, never see the bigger fish." He was staring intently at her now and her heart thudded unevenly. "If I were you, I'd start with that glorified slab of meat." He leant a little closer, brushing his hand along her arm. "Happy hunting Faithy." The mention of the old nickname stung her, letting loose a flood of memories. She suddenly felt unsafe. He saluted her with a grin and jogged off. The sound of Merc's voice in her ear drew her back, like a warm drink in the cold.
"Listen I don't know about going to Ropeburn straight away." He sounded worried.
"I'm not," Faith said slowly. "I'm gonna see Miller."
"Ah Faith, what are ya doin'? You gonna tell him about Jacknife?"
"Not yet. He's still a cop. No matter what Kate says." The fact that her loyalty still lay with Jacknife, an ex-runner, bothered her. But she knew at that moment she had no choice. He was still one of them.