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She stood at the other end of the hall. The red exit sign above her head was the
only light. Matt strode toward her, expensive shoes clicking on the tile floor.
She did not move, even when Matt stopped a few feet in front of her and pointed
his gun at her head.
"About time you got here." The woman admonished.
Matt pursed his lips. She was the criminal; she was in the wrong, but he could
not help but feel that he had let her down by not arriving earlier. "Sorry I'm
late," he spat in the most sarcastic tone he could manage. Matt scanned the
hall. "No tricks this time?" He raised one eyebrow knowing that she would be
able to see it. "Are you all out of ideas?" he mocked, a small smile tugging at
the corner of his mouth.
"Are you smiling, Matt? Sixteen years I've known you, and this is the only time
I have ever seen you smile." The woman's voice sounded amused. "That is an
accomplishment for me, I think."
"Don't congratulate yourself too soon Ann, it's over."
"Perhaps," Ann said in that know it all tone of voice Matt hated. She closed the
space between them in a few quick strides. Before he could stop her she took his
head between both hands and planted a kiss on his forehead. "You're right; it is
time for our little game to end. It's been fun, Matt; you are a worthy
Matt stared at her incredulously. "What do you mean by that? You've ruined my
life, cost me every friend I've ever had, and all you can say is "It's been
"I ruined your life?" Ann stepped back to look him in the eyes, though he still
could not see her's. "You could have given up at any time, signed the case over
to someone else, and lived the life you so sorely miss." Her voice changed from
vindictive to mysterious. "You were ordered to surrender my case a number of
times. Why didn't you?"
"I wanted to catch you-"
"More than you wanted to live." She finished.
"You demanded that I be put back on the case time and again at the cost of
"The new guy was an idiot. No match for me," Ann retorted.
"I have nothing because of you!" Matt screamed, the echo bounced off the walls.
"I have no friends, no one..."
"I am your friend," Ann cut in.
Matt laughed. He sounded close to insanity, even to his own ears. "You my
friend? Isn't that a contradiction of terms?"
Ann pretended to think about it. "Best enemy, then. Come on, who knows you best?
Who do you know best? We are as close as any two human beings can be. If we were
to go by the rules of every novel ever written we should be forbidden lovers, or
at least pine for each other until the death of one brings us together in a
sappy goodbye kiss."
"But you don't follow the rules do you, and truthfully, neither do I."
"Of course not," Ann scoffed.
"So, what happens now?"
"Now," Matt could hear the smile in her voice as she answered, "Now we end this.
On my terms of course, but..."
"Your terms?" Matt interrupted.
"Yes, on my terms. I am used to getting my way, after all, but my terms ensure a
"Are you going soft on me?" Matt couldn't help but smile. It wasn't often he got
a jab in on this admittedly brilliant woman.
"Not a chance." Ann abruptly lunged forward and clamped her hand on Matt's
forearm. He still had the gun in his hand, and Ann moved it to where it was
pointed at her heart. "Shoot me." She commanded.
Matt stared at her in shock. After all the years he had chased her. All the
games she had played, all the close calls, all the taunting that he would never
catch her, and now she stood not three feet from him and demanded to be shoot.
"Come on Matt, this is what you want, to be the hero, to catch the bad girl.
Shoot me now and it's over; you can live your life as you see fit. Kill me now
and you've won."
Matt swallowed hard. The gun in his hand started to shake. He tried to break
Ann's grip, but she held him fast. "I can't shoot you Ann. I'm a cop; I have to
bring you in."
"No, we do this on my terms," She spat into his face. "Kill me or the game goes
on. I will never be taken alive."
Matt stared into the blackness where her blue eyes should be. "I cannot do it."
"Why?" she asked. There was something about that question, a probing.
"It's too easy," he answered truthfully. "I spend years chasing you until you
have pity on me and let me shoot you." Matt laughed. "It would be a sad and
unfulfilling ending to our game if I let you give up." He let go of the gun and
it clattered on the floor between them. "If I'm going to catch you it's going to
be because I can; not because you let me."
Ann laughed; she reached forward once more and gave Matt another peck on the
forehead. "That is so good to hear. I had thought you were getting bored with
me. It's always nice for a man to let a woman know that he still finds her
interesting." Matt couldn't be sure, but he thought she winked at him.
"This was a test." He stated in a flat voice.
"Yes, and you passed." Ann sounded like he had just given her a diamond ring and
asked her to marry him. "Oh, by the way," she went on in an offhanded tone,
"there is a bomb on your left; you have twenty seconds to disarm it. Bye bye.
The last she sang out as she turned to bolt for the door.
"Wait," Matt stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. "I want to ask you a
question." Ann's eyes narrowed. Matt had finally gotten into a position where he
could see her face. "Would you have let me shoot you?"
Ann looked him dead in the eye. "Yes, it would have been an acceptable ending to
our game, but you always did take the high road, and I respect you for that."
She dislodged Matt's hand and ran out the door.
Matt strode over and knelt before the bomb not even sparing a glance at the
closing door. He saw that there were only enough explosives to blow up one
person. The others in the building would be safe if he decided to let the bomb
explode. The timer struck ten seconds.
Matt looked back on his life with Ann. A struggle for dominance.
Stimulating both mind and body.
The overwhelming hopelessness of ever catching her.
He took out the wire cutters he had learned to carry at all times during the
Simple. Too Simple. This was another choice and a message. The choice was
weather to end the game now. The message: that it was now on his terms.
He thought it over quickly; Ann hated slow thinkers. He could give up now, but
he had Ann's respect, the respect of his enemy. You couldn't put a price on
Matt snorted and cut the wire. No need to wait for the last second. He hated
melodrama. All those heroes saving the day with only one second left on the
timer. When he joined the force Matt swore that that would never be him. He was
here for the challenge, not the glory.
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