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Hunter & Prey
"You need a vacation, Detective."
"I know, Sir," Olivia slumped in the chair, gingerly placing the icepack onto her bruised eye. "It's just.."
"That wasn't an observation." Cragen leaned forward in his seat. Hands clasped together. He stared at her sternly. A glare that told her she'd crossed the line and there would be no finagling her way out of it this time. A glare that said she'd take her lumps and like it. "I don't wanna see your face for the next two weeks. And, if I do, I'm putting you on administrative leave."
Her hands were shaking. She clenched them into fists repeatedly, trying to still the tremors. Repeatedly wiped the condensation accumulating on her palms onto her thighs.
The room was adequate enough. Neither too small nor too large. The walls painted a faded cream color. An old sink with rusted pipes. A closet with no doors, several wire clothes hangers hung weakly from a skewed bar. The sun broke through the slats of the windows, painting the room in bands of golden light.
The only sounds came from the streets below and the soft hum of the overhead fan above. It wasn't enough to subdue the stifling heat of the room or dry the sweat sticking to her skin, just maintain a light breeze.
She knelt down onto the floor, pulling the rectangular metal suitcase towards her. Quickly and efficiently assembled the various metal pieces into the tool she'd memorized by heart.
She didn't have any pictures or ID or any of the accruements that one dressed as she was, a tourist, would have. This was her life now. A ghost. A shadow. And as she opened the wooden slats and peered out at the street below, gazing through the crosshairs, wondered if she would ever be the person she used to.
"First time?" the cab driver smiled at Olivia through the rearview mirror.
"Yea," she smiled half-heartedly. The place was, in a word, breathtaking. Crystal clear waters and white beaches that met a lush, tropical green landscape as far as the eye could see. Where the people all smiled and nodded as she walked by. And still, she couldn't relax. Because, it wasn't New York. There was no SVU for her to walk in to. A place where she belonged, where she was needed. For Olivia, it was a vacation in Hell.
"Well, if you need anything," he pulled the car to her hotel, speaking in a thick Caribbean accent Olivia was amazed she could decipher. He turned, giving her his best local smile while handing her his business card. Even in Paradise, commerce ruled. "You call 'ol Buck-Buck. I find anything you need. Take you anywhere you need to go."
Olivia smiled politely, handing him an extra twenty before tucking the card in her breast pocket. No point in turning down a connection.
She slid out of the taxi. Ran a hand through her recently shorn hair before pulling her sunglasses on top of her head. Inhaled deeply, taking in the scents of clean Pacific air filled with tropical fauna as Buck-Buck pulled her luggage from the trunk. It wasn't New York. But, she had to admit, it wasn't bad either.
The Hotel was one of those places Olivia would never have seen herself checking in to. It was a hotel for high society, for the rich and powerful, not a New York Detective on a New York salary. Even now, a limo had arrogantly pulled in front of her modest taxi, blocking the entranceway. Bellboys and the concierge scurried out of the gold gilded glass doors, all white gloves and crisply pressed uniforms. She passively watched the man get out of car. Had seen types like him, all her life. Arrogance and entitlement all rolled into one.
She took one last glance back at her case. At the 5 by 6 photo taped to the open lid. Grayish black hair, brown eyes. She returned her attentions to her scope. Calculated the trajectory, wind speed, humidity, temperature. All the configurations needed to place the tiny piece of metal into the center of her target's head.
She'd told herself she could do this. Repeated the mantra over and over again, willing herself to believe she was the person she'd thought she was.
Her sight on the hotel entrance. She watched as the limo pulled up to the front entrance. Clicked off the safety. Edged her finger towards the trigger.
Olivia normally wouldn't have paid guys like him any mind. But, even in Paradise, something didn't seem right. She thought it was ill ease at being on vacation. At the idea of what had sent her here in the first place.
Then, she saw the unmistakable little red dot inching its way up the man's back.
"Gun!" Olivia shouted. Ran across the pavement, launched herself over the trunk of the limo. Arms outstretched, she practically clothes-lined the man just as glass exploded around them. Someone screamed. The bellboys scattered like a flock of frightened birds.
Just as quickly, Olivia was on her feet. Instinctively reaching for her gun only to remember she hadn't brought it along. "Shit." Her eyes scanned across the landscape. That shot had been close. A flash of light in a window caught her eye.
"Shit. Shit. Shit." How could she have missed? How could she have been so stupid? She'd been seen. That much she knew. By whom, she couldn't say. Shocked at the near miss, she'd stayed in position too long. Quickly, her hands disassembled the rifle, placing it perfectly back into its case. She had an escape plan. Her mind unable to wrap itself around the idea that she'd actually need to use it.
Heart in throat. Legs pumping beneath her, Olivia ran. Down tourist crawled streets. Past duty free shop selling perfume, liquor, cigarettes and cheap t-shirts. Past bright pastel colored buildings with colonial French décor. She cut through a tight alleyway, taking her towards the back of Tourist row. Towards where she saw the shooters building. Heard the unmistakable screech of tires on pavement. Someone was leaving in a hurry.
She took off towards the vehicle. Caught a glimpse of a red Jeep skidding tightly around a corner.
"What the Hell was that?" Buck Buck, dreads hanging out his window, gaped at Olivia.
"Buck Buck," she dashed around the car, sliding into the passenger's side. "I'll give you a hundred bucks to follow that car."
The words every cab driver loved to hear, even in paradise.
"Yes ma'am." The car lurched forward in a fit of black smoke and an even worse sound sputtering from the engine.
The suspect had a good lead. A speck of red, wheels barely gripping the twisted one-lane road, leading the up the winding island hills.
"Where the Hell's he going?" Olivia asked. "We're on an island."
"There's an airstrip on the other side."
"Another one? How many damn airports does one island need?"
"I said airstrip," he replied in his thick accent. "Hold on."
He jerked the steering column hard, avoiding an on coming car. The driver honked furiously as they passed. She felt her stomach drop somewhere around her ankles. The island was small but the hills were steep. As Buck Buck maintained control of the car, she dared a glimpse at the steep drop off just inches from the road. Another wrong move and she'd be seeing the bottom of it, real quick.
She watched as the Jeep disappeared around another hairpin turn. Grit her teeth at losing sight of the suspect. Although, she wasn't exactly sure what she'd do once they caught up. She didn't have her gun. Didn't have any authority. Which put her at a slight disadvantage.
They turned the corner, Buck Buck immediately slammed on the brakes. Olivia planted her hands on the dashboard to keep from flying through the front window.
A car blocked the road. The front smashed into a tree, the engine spewing thick white smoke.
The two hurried out of the car. Olivia was the first to the driver's side door. The airbag had activated. The driver holding his head.
"Where's the other driver?"
He pointed with his finger. Towards the embankment. Olivia followed the black tire marks scratched on the road. At the precise cut in the trees. And down below, an overturned red Jeep, its wheels still spinning. Suddenly, she caught the sight of movement in the thick brush and realized the suspect was on the move.
She launched herself down the embankment. Slip sliding over the foliage as it crushed beneath her feet. Branches whipped at her face, her arms, her legs. This time, she had the advantage. She wasn't the one who'd just rolled her vehicle asshole over elbows down an embankment. Gaining ground, she could see the suspect ahead of her. Noted the slight limp in his run. The trees blocked her view, but she could see him nonetheless. A few more feet. Just a few more feet.
The suspect turned to the left, disappearing behind a thick patch of bushes. Olivia grinned. He'd made his first mistake. Was attempting to cut back up the hill, towards the airstrip. She took the angle, hoping to gain ground in front of him.
A shake of a bush and Olivia threw herself into the trees. Grabbed shoulder and shirt and flesh, hung on for dear life. But her speed was too fast, inertia, gravity took the two of them backwards, down the hill. The suspect fighting her the entire way down, arms flailing, legs kicking, Olivia locked on like a pitbull. Even as the ground repeatedly battered her body, Olivia maintained her grip.
They landed heavily on a level piece of ground. Olivia the first to regain her composure as she flopped onto the suspects back. He was smaller than she'd realized. Slight, rail thin with a wiry strength.
"It's over," she growled, grabbing him by the shoulder and flipping him over. Except, it wasn't a 'him' at all. Her body froze. Eyes snapped wide in shock. Below her wasn't a man at all.
It was Alex.
The hair was slightly shorter. Her skin tan from the sun. But, there was no mistaking the eyes, or the lips, or the feel of her body beneath Olivia's.
Alex took the brief moment, the moment when Olivia looked at her in shock and her muscles relaxed just slightly, took the moment to rear her hand back, curl it into a fist and punched Olivia solidly across the jaw.
After that, all Olivia saw was black.
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