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Negotiation

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Her heart was racing as their eyes met across the huge room, and for a moment it was as if the world around her fell away when he grinned and winked right at her.

“Shit,” she breathed under her breath. “Shit shit shit.”

She wasn’t ready for him yet. She was certain she had locked all the exits of the room she had left him in, knowing that he would get out but hoping it would give her some time to be ready.

“Beyond you complete bastard,” she cringed, subtly trying to gesture to him to stay where he was without blowing her own cover.

In the centre of the room between them was her target, a thirty-something year old man that L had identified as the main suspect in a string of child murders through the region. If only the man’s name were known he would surely already be dead and gone, but he had done a very good job of avoiding the mandatory worldwide DNA and fingerprinting that had taken place since Kira had taken control of the new International Criminal Justice Network.

If he had been registered there would have been no need to send her to catch him, and the child he was holding as his hostage would be safe. The boy who lay unconscious but breathing on the cold concrete of the warehouse floor could not have been older than ten and he looked tiny in comparison to the man who loomed over his slight figure. Tiny, and fragile.

Misora couldn’t make her move until the man was further from the boy. Death was not like the movies would have people believe – people rarely dropped to the ground dead the moment they were shot with a bullet. A perfect shot, severing the spine or perfectly targeted in the head, would be enough for that but even a clean shot to the heart would give the man a few seconds, in shock, in which he could pull the trigger of his own gun. Even without aiming and in shock, he could hit the small boy.

Beyond Birthday’s feral, tooth baring grin across the room as he took in the scene made her certain that he was out for blood, and if he gave them away the man might just snatch up the boy and use him as a human shield. Beyond wouldn’t care, and the boy would be killed before Beyond could get close enough with his knives. She gestured more vigorously, pleading with him silently not to do anything stupid.

On the ground the boy was slowly stirring, whatever drugs the killer had used wearing off gradually as the man waited. The child was groaning a little, most likely in pain from bruising already inflicted, and the sick man who stood over him seemed to be appreciating the sounds of pain. She tried to avert her focus from what the man’s hidden hand might be doing beneath the cover of a long coat and instead target her gun at the back of his head.

“Hey dickweasel!” Beyond strode out of hiding, an intimidating machete in either hand. Misora cringed as the man spun to face him, raising his gun to aim at Beyond with his free hand though the other was caught tangled somewhere beneath the coat.

“Serves you right you fucking wanker,” she breathed as she moved, keeping herself hidden by the warehouse’s storage shelves, sure that Beyond could take care of himself. She had to try to get behind where the man would be, try to get between him and the child.

The first gunshot was answered with an animalistic snarl and she picked up the pace, the noise covering her movements. A second was followed almost immediately by a yell from an unfamiliar voice as one of Beyond’s blades must have struck the man, and she vaulted a lower set of shelves that were in her way to emerge to the side of where the men were standing, her gun raised at the murderer’s head.

“Drop it,” she commanded him, her focus on the gun. Beyond glared at her, irritated that she had interfered in the fight. The man was bleeding, but it was superficial, a cut on his upper thigh that was not impairing him in any way. “Drop it or I’ll shoot.”

“Fuck you,” the man answered, and then he did exactly what she had been hoping to avoid. Where the gun was positioned he only needed to pull the trigger and a bullet went straight down – straight into the child’s shoulder. Her own shot was more accurate, catching the murderer right between the eyes and flooring him instantly.

Beyond moved to the body of killer as quickly as she moved to the child to press on the gunshot wound and attempt to stop the bleeding.

“It’s a shame you won’t fucking feel this,” Beyond was snarling at the face of the corpse. Misora knew from past experience that there was a special degree of hatred Beyond afforded to anyone who would hurt a child and had also learned that she was better off not seeing what he was doing. Instead she focused on dialling for backup and an ambulance with one hand whilst keeping pressure on the wound with the other.

“It’ll be alright,” she found herself murmuring to cover the noises of Beyond’s dissection, not sure whether the child was aware of what was going on around him through the haze of drugs and the pain of his injury. “Help is coming. Just hold on… they’re on their way…”

Heavy, panting breathing joined her on the other side of the child before she could hear any sirens and she looked up to Beyond, who had crudely wiped blood from his face but mainly succeeded in spreading the stains further.

“How’s he doing?”

“You’re fucking kidding,” she spat at him. “This is your fault!”

Beyond scowled at her, looking confused and hurt. “If you hadn’t jumped over with that gun…”

“Oh don’t you dare!” she would have slapped him if she could have spared a hand. “Don’t you fucking dare. I had him!”

“Naomi…”

“Don’t you Naomi me!”

“But…”

“Why can’t you ever just think?” she snapped. “You’re meant to be so clever but you never think, you always…”

“Naomi, he wasn’t going to move away,” Beyond spoke in a soothing tone which only served to aggravate her more. “There wasn’t going to be a better moment. If I’d waited any longer he would have had both hands free…”

“Which wouldn’t have mattered to a gun.”

“Naomi…”

“No!” she made the mistake of glancing to the body and fought not to gag. “You were enjoying yourself too much, you just wanted to do it yourself.”

“I like my job,” Beyond didn’t try to deny. “It suits me, but I promise if I thought there had been a way to do this without the kid getting hurt… which, by the way, there might have been if you hadn’t locked me in a room…”

“Hold this.”

Misora’s tone had changed. Fire and fury had cooled, leaving ice in its wake, and Beyond knew better than to question her at that point. His hands replaced hers on the young child’s shoulder, pressing on the wound, and Misora got to her feet. In the sudden silence in the warehouse it was easy to hear faint sirens outside.

“I’m going to flag down the ambulance,” she told him, stepping around something on the floor whilst trying not to look too closely at what it was. “And then I’m going to the hospital with the child. You can deal with… this.”

“Alright,” Beyond demurred cautiously, keeping his gaze downcast. “…do you want me to make dinner…?”

“Don’t touch my kitchen,” she warned, recalling the last time he had made something more complicated than a jam sandwich. Matt’s cleaning service were worth every penny they were paid.

“Will you be home tonight?” he asked just as she was about to step out of the door. She glanced back, over the bloodied floor to meet his eyes.

“I’ll be at the hospital,” she told him. “I won’t be coming home until they’ve fixed your mess.”