Stray Bullets

They meet while both trying to track down the same serial killer. "Who are you?" she had asked on seeing him. He had smiled and showed his badge and then requested he see hers; she obliged and they got stuck into the case, agreeing to work it together, at least til they had a clearer idea of what was going on.

"It's weird," she told him after awhile. "Usually by now the killer would have messed up with something by this point. You don't often see a killer kill for this long without a mistake."

"Maybe we're just not seein' it," he suggested. His jet black hair and sparkling blue eyes had her mesmerised in the moments in between working and sometimes during work. She tried not to let him affect her in such a way, but she couldn't help it. Professionalism be damned.

She enjoyed working with this man and she enjoyed the way he looked at her and gave her a wink every so often. So what?

They talked and paced and ate doughnuts throughout the next hour. The case was difficult, but it turned out their killer wasn't entirely without a pattern.

"Right," she said. "So I'm thinking we stake out this building here," she said, pointing at a map. "His previous killings suggest that he likes to snipe from the smaller buildings across from the tallest in the city."

"We should send some guys out here too," he agreed, pointing to another building a block away.

"It's all we've got," she said. "Nothing else fits the previous killings. Let's do it."

They did. As they headed out, he asked her, "Coffee after this trash is taken out?"

"You're on."

Only, things didn't turn out so well. They were in the wrong building. It turned out, they had misjudged and gotten the building a few places down from the killer's location. Two people died before they got there. A third died as they climbed the stairs and found the correct room.

He went in first, having been closer to the scene at the time. She had wanted a front row seat in taking this guy down, and so had been at the top floor of the building they suspected was the one they wanted. He'd been on the lower floor. He ran when they learned of the real building's location.

And he'd checked the room, before barging in, but hadn't seen the trip wire. Anyone could have missed it. It was barely visible and signs of a trap were well hidden. He died instantly, a bullet between his eyes.

She found him a few moments later. The killer was gone by then. Her feet pounded the stairs and she yelled into her radio, "Block off all exits. Our guy is on the run. And we've an agent down in room 340."

Silence. And then her radio asked, "Done. How's our agent?"

"No need to rush," she managed and then she stuffed the radio into her pocket and kept running. On her way up she had seen a man with too big eyes, a waiter's outfit and thin lips. He was pushing a cart. She hadn't thought anything of it, but the way he stared at her made her think now that she was wrong to have let him go without questioning.

She caught a glimpse of something ahead. "Stop! Put your hands in the air!"

Whatever it was disappeared from sight and when she rounded the corner into the next hallway it was empty. She slowed to a job. "No visual on the suspect from here." She gave her location. "He might be on his way down."

Static. Then, "Got something down here." A beat. "No, just a waiter."

"That's him!" she called out. She picked up her pace again and headed down, taking the stairs. "Keep him there."

She heard nothing from the radio, but as she neared the lower levels she could hear gunfire. It made her almost jealous. She wanted to be the one to gut this guy after what he did to her would-have-been coffee date. Alas, it didn't work in her favour. She burst out of the staircase doors to the sound of a gunshot and there, beside her, was the 'waiter', a bullet of his own leaving red pooling from his crisp, white shirt.

The contrast was sickly. Red on white. Such a bright red colour. And yet he was still smiling.

"You don't get to smile," she said, and pressed a foot to his chest, just hard enough that she sent shockwaves of pain through him but didn't kill him. "You don't get to die either. You don't deserve death."

The smile remained in place, a sick reminder of everything this man was and had done.

"Take him away," she said to the guys watching on.

"There's an ambulance on the way."

She nodded. And then her attention returned to her partner for the case. He had been smart and kind and funny, and that was while working. She had been looking forward to getting to know him more outside of the job. She was looking forward to that coffee.

And now they would never have it. She felt a pang go through her. She hated that the killer had killed again, and under her watch. That was four people dead, one of whom she felt a personal connection with. She was damn sure that this would be a case she'd follow til the end. Til she knew that the killer was behind bars and even beyond that.

She would keep tabs on him and ensure he never got a "get out of jail" card. It was the least thing she could do.

Meanwhile, she would have to find comfort in the fact that even though people had died, they had put together their resources and found him. They had shot him. He would be in serious pain for at least a few weeks, before he was put in jail. That pain would not be enough to soothe those who had lost loved ones, but it was something.