There was a small commotion issuing from the direction of the kitchen. Carrie heard it just moments after stepping over the threshold of the penthouse her and Big had called home for the past two years.

"John?" Carrie called out into the air naturally, although as the words departed her mouth she realised John shouldn't be at home at all. He had left for work earlier that day mere minutes before Carrie had set off herself for what would be a breezy and pleasant afternoon, with the usual affair of brunch with the girls and some light shopping. This welcoming day was cut short, however, by demanding work schedules, demanding child schedules and the standard demanding schedules of not being thirty-one anymore. The exception, of course, being Samantha, who simply had a demanding casual sex schedule, and a deadline with an orgasm that had to be met immediately.

And so, Carrie was left trudging home with her little brown Macy's bag, anticipating on finishing the rest of the day sat in front of her Macbook working with some good bad TV blurring in the background. Although whether that idea would come to nothing would depend entirely upon what exactly was causing the disturbance in the kitchen, which, due to the sudden silence that occurred immediately after, was growing more intriguing yet concerning by each step Carrie took toward it.

An odd image met Carrie's eyes when she finally reached the room a few seconds later; John was standing leant against the work top, staring right in her direction, his face etched with obvious traces of apprehension, although Carrie could see he was trying to keep as casual as possible. He couldn't fool her, she knew his face too well.

"Hey, you," Big spoke, his voice as cool as ever.

Carrie glanced around the room hastily before answering; everything was just as she'd left it a couple of hours earlier, but she had the strange and quite frightening feeling something else had just been here; something had just left the room. Like Big's face, she knew this house too well. She played Big's game, however, and tried to keep her attitude as natural as possible, "you're not in work?"

"Oh, I went to work," he began, turning to the work top as if he was continuing something Carrie had just interrupted, but the surface was empty, "but I came back," he turned back to her, ignoring this clear failure of improvisation. "I wanted to surprise you," he leant forward and winked.

Carrie acknowledged the wink with a slight smile and, for a moment, almost believed him... but only for a moment, as a second commotion had abruptly presented itself within the house; not in the kitchen this time but from what appeared to be the hallway, the room Carrie had just left. All pretense at casualness dropped from Big's face in an instant, the mischievous expression he wore a split second before vanished completely to be replaced by fear spreading to every sector of his appearance.

"What was that?" Carrie asked alarmingly, she, too, quitting all intent of appearing natural now.

Big took a breath before speaking, "Carrie...," he began shakily, but he needn't say another word; Carrie already heard enough through his eyes, which were wide, glistening and so unlike Big it was unnerving. She had seen these eyes only a few times before, each time just before her world was about to fall a part. Carrie didn't wait for an answer; she darted out of the room and headed toward the direction of the disturbance without a second thought, her surroundings speeding past in a blur, just like she did before, though this time bearing the disturbing knowledge that there was no possible chance of this being Big. This was somebody else.

"Carrie, hold on..." Big followed Carrie to the hallway, which was empty, although evidently hadn't been for long as the front door had just shut with a floor-vibrating slam.

Ignoring Big's calls behind her, Carrie stepped over the contents of her little brown Macy's bag that were haphazardly strewn across the floor; the intruder had undoubtedly stumbled over the bag in a reckless attempt to escape. She yanked open the door and stepped over the threshold once again so that she was looking down a small corridor, just in time to see a distant figure rounding the corner leading onto the stairwell, a flash of long dark hair tailing behind them and a whipping out of view. Fueled by this image, Carrie now went in full pursuit of her mysterious trespasser, her heart rate increasing to the beat of her heels crashing on the tiles beneath her. She could still hear Big's escalating cries behind her, but she was too absorbed, too consumed with sheer curiosity, in catching the face of the person now descending the steps on the staircase just below.

She was getting rapidly closer by the second; there had to only be a couple of steps between them; Carrie could now see the back of the person in full view when she hastily peered over the bannister. She recognised them for sure as a female; she must've been no less than 5"10"; dressed rather sophisticatedly in a-

The woman had suddenly turned her head up to glance at Carrie in the middle of this hasty analysis. Carrie had to catch her breath quickly, and barely had a split-second to digest what she had just saw before finding herself hurtling face-forward past the remaining steps she had yet to take, and with a sickening smack she hit the cold, hard floor of the small landing below.

Everything was black. Pain seared through her like an axe that had just penetrated the surface of her face. With the hand that was crushed beneath her, Carrie lifted herself up slowly, wincing at the thick blood deriving from her mouth and forming a small pool of crimson on the grey, cement floor. She heard Big cry out her name behind her and, not a few seconds later, felt his firm grip on her arms as he heaved her up from the floor. She staggered on her feet a little and leant against him, feeling hot blood drizzle uncomfortably down her chin. She prepared herself before opening her eyes, which were still tightly shut from the moment before she hit the ground, and prayed that the face she had just saw was a figment of her imagination, perhaps an illusion of the mind caused by the sheer anxiety of the situation. It couldn't be who she thought she had seen, it just couldn't. She opened her eyes slowly, allowing them time to adjust to the dim light of the stairwell, before being immediately proved wrong.

"N-Natasha," Carrie whispered weakly into the air, a drop of blood seeping into her gaping mouth. There, on the next landing below, stood Big's second and estranged wife, staring up at Carrie with a pathetically powerless expression.