TITLE: It's Not the Fall That Kills You
DISCLAIMER: Do I own Red Eye? Why no, I don't. That honor belongs to Carl Ellsworth, Wes Craven, and Dreamworks. Don't sue, mmkay?
RATING: M for langage and general (future) smuttiness

SUMMARY: Jackson escapes from federal custody. Lisa goes on the run. A game of chase begins.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Red Eye came out of nowhere and sunk it's claws into me rather recently. I have no idea why. No, that's not true. Blame it on that blazin' chemistry between Mr. Murphy and Ms. McAdams. All that delicious subtext. Mmmm... subtext... And Wes' insightful DVD commentary. I apologize in advance if updates are slow in coming. Not sure where this is going to end up. I can promise, however, angst and smuttiness. Also, I am beta-less! I am currently looking for an experienced beta! Holla at me if you're interested.

It's Not the Fall That Kills You

I am the tiger.

I lie in wait for you among leaves

broad as ingots

of wet mineral.

The white river grows

beneath the fog. You come.

Naked you submerge.

I wait.

Then in a leap

of fire, blood, teeth,

with a claw slash I tear away

your bosom, your hips.

I drink your blood, I break

your limbs one by one.

And I remain watching

for years in the forest

over your bones, your ashes,

motionless, far

from hatred and anger,

disarmed in your death,

crossed by lianas,

motionless in the rain,

relentless sentinel

of my murderous love.

The Tiger - Pablo Neruda


He caught up with her the first time at a podunk service station in Ochopee, Florida.

Jackson knew she would run as soon as she heard he'd escaped from Miami Federal Corrections' minimum security prison. He imagined Special Agent Reynolds of the FBI had called to deliver the bad news, or maybe Charles Keefe himself. Either way, two hours after his employer facilitated what could only be described as a rather discrete escape from federal custody, Jackson Rippner was watching Lisa Reisert throw a duffle bag in her Toyota Camry and tear out of her apartment complex's parking lot.

"Lisalisalisa," he chanted, "where are you going?" He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel of his charcoal 2005 Audi A8 – just out of storage – and smiled. He had to duck down in the seat as she flew past him. It wouldn't do to be seen quite so early in the game. After a moment, he pulled out and followed her, careful to keep multiple car lengths between them.

She headed west, taking a right on 8th Street and merging onto US-41. At first Jackson though she was running to daddy's house, but she soon passed the exit for Joe's and continued on, heading out of the city proper. They passed Westchester. Fountainbleu. Tamiami. Twenty minutes out of Tamiami, still heading west on US-41, Jackson realized that this very well might not be a little jaunt.

A standard brown park sign announced they were heading into Big Cypress National Preserve, an isolated stretch of road through the Everglades. Jackson huffed and squinted suspiciously at the sign.

"What are you up to, Leese?" he muttered, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel. If this was her idea of self-preservation, then she was an idiot. Jackson had never driven this particular highway, but as he looked out at the passing marshes, he couldn't help but smirk. He couldn't have picked a more perfect environment for a dump site. Between alligators, insects, and other scavengers, a body was not likely to ever be found. Christ, was she trying to make it easy for him?

An hour later, it was dusk and the sun was nothing more than an orange on blue smear out his window. The dial on the gas meter had dipped dangerously low, making him anxious. There was nothing out here. Not a damn thing except an occasional car or shanty house off the main road. If he ran out of gas out here, he would be well and truly screwed. She'd be long gone by the time he'd be able to get back on the road again. He'd lose her. The thought made his throat tighten unpleasantly and his heart rate increase.

Jackson rolled his windows down, allowing a slight breeze coming in off the ocean. As it passed over the swamps, it brought with it the raw, earthy scent of decaying plant material. He took a deep breath; inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. It was too early for mosquitoes, so Jackson was thankful for that. Florida could be a downright miserable state to visit, but this time of year - early spring - it was bearable. The chatter of locusts was overwhelming loud, but he found that he liked it; he'd turned off the radio when the reception on all the stations started getting sketchy. Music was a distraction, anyway. This wasn't some Sunday drive, this was a job. This was The Hunt.

Up ahead, scattered lights were coming up over the horizon. He really hoped there was a service station. Soon enough, a small sign declared they were entering Ochopee, population 128.

"Christ," he muttered. Where the hell was she leading him?

Lisa must have been running low on gas, too. He recognized her white Camry as she signaled, her taillights lighting up when she braked and turned left. As Jackson approached the station, he flipped off his headlights and pulled over onto the shoulder. The gas station was positively ancient, probably built before paved roads came to the area. It looked like something out of a horror movie; run down, some of its windows boarded up. He reasoned it must have been hit hard by one of the frequent tropical storms the area was vulnerable to; that, or nobody cared enough to keep up with repairs.

He sat there, engine idling. He'd have to wait for her to leave before he took his turn at the pump. He leaned over to the glove box and flipped it open. Groping past the SIG Sauer P229R concealed there, Jackson pulled out a pair of binoculars. How familiar this all was, slipping into the role of Watcher. Like slipping into a warm bath, into a pair of comfortable, old shoes. It had been so easy, those eight weeks, watching her putter around the house in her fuzzy slippers, first with binoculars, then after he figured out her schedule, slipping into her modest bungalow with his tech guy, Marshall, and installing the more high-tech surveillance equipment: a tiny camera hidden between two books in her living room, another in her kitchen, the classic bug-in-the-table-lamp... Marshall was a genius at hiding those things. He'd even offered to put a camera in Lisa's shower. "For entertainment, man. Might as well have something nice to look at while you're playing stakeout. This Reisert chick looks like she's got a great rack."

No argument there, but Jesus, he did have some scruples. "Well, that's thoughtful of you, Marsh, but I hope I'll never have to stoop to spying on girls in the shower to get my sexual kicks."

Marshall had sniffed, offended. "Hey, we're not all as pretty as you, Jackie-boy."

He watched her pump her gas. Lisa seemed alert, wary; almost like a deer sensing a predator. Instead of watching the meter, she watched the road, taking a good hard look at each approaching car and it's driver. He grinned when a sudden gust of wind whipped her hair across her face and her skirt up around her thighs.

Lisa. Do you feel me? Do you feel how close I am?

Jackson licked his lips and smiled.