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Martin turned and saw Diana - no, Hélène - ascending the hillside after him. The young psychiatrist was further down the snow-covered slope from him and was visibly struggling to keep up with Martin. Her recently oxygen-deprived body was obviously still too weak for her to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and it wasn't long before she faltered and crumpled down to fall onto her hands and knees, listing sideways into the snow.

Martin was conflicted, his eyes swiveling back and forth from Hélène to Julian. He couldn't risk letting Julian escape, but he risked everything to get Hélène. He couldn't let her die and let all of this - breaking out Julian, running from the law - be for nothing. But still... he refused to let Julian escape. Not after what he did.

Martin let out a curse as he turned back to Julian, the killer having gained some serious headway in Martin's few moments of indecision. Martin jumped back into action, following the escapee's footprints as he struggled to drag his tired and cold limbs through the thick snow after Julian.

As Martin looked up at the distant form of Julian, he saw that the murderer had now turned to face him, his form framed by the sunlight as the two met eyes. The old and grizzled detective, and the psychotic and manipulative psychopath. For a moment, the world was silent. Nothing existed aside from their silent communication through glared eyes and clenched teeth.

And then Julian pointed a gun at Martin.

"Martin, stay where you are." Julian had turned to look down at him, the gun aimed at Martin's stumbling form. "Stay where you are, please."

"You know I won't let you leave." Martin gritted his chattering teeth together and continued stumbling forward, disregarding the weapon aimed at his head.

"Is she alive?" Julian called out, a soft, cruel smile pulling the corners of his wind-chapped lips upwards, an undescribable emotion sparkling in his eyes.

Martin narrowed his eyes and raised his gun.
A shot rang out, Julian cursed and twisted, a hand raising to clutch his injury as Martin tried to reload his weapon, holding the weapon between his knees as he fumbled through his coat's pockets.

Julian turned back to Martin and quickly and calmly raised his arm, his long fingers confidently wrapped around the gun, pulling on the trigger. Martin tried to move aside in a desperate attempt to avoid what was destined to happen, but his reaction was too late, too slow. Julian had had his weapon already drawn, loaded, and aimed and the first shot rang out, booming across the desolate landscape. The impact of the bullet slammed into Martin's left leg, throwing him backward as a spray of blood coated the ground around him as he crumpled down into the cold snow. Martin groaned and cried out in pain as he landed, face first, against the chill snow.

The layers of fresh powder that had recently fallen from the clouds cushioned his impact, but that was a small mercy. He managed to gather the strength to roll himself over, but he collapsed back onto his back against the ground, his chest heaving as excruciating pain came from his leg.

Martin lay on the cold ground, his eyelids blinking repeatedly to rid his eyelashes of the coating of snowflakes they had collected over the past few moments.

The snowflakes were swiftly falling from the sky, the bright sun shining down upon the growing mounds of brilliantly white snow that lay upon the hillside. It was a shame that this beautiful place was witness to these horrible crimes.

"Shit." Martin groaned, moving to curl onto his side.

As he rolled over, a pair of shined shoes came into view, drops of dark crimson spattered across their surface.

Julian crouched down, a calm look in his eyes as he settled a hand on Martin's shoulder, turning him to be lying on his back, the psychopath looking down at him with a disappointed expression.

"Martin... Martin, Martin, Martin..." Julian chuckled, "You should have listened. You're a little deer in this game of mine, my friend, and I," Julian bared his yellowed teeth in a chilling grin, leaning close as his warm breath ghosted across Martin's ear. "am the starved wolf that is about to make the kill." Julian chuckled. "You made a mistake setting me free. And you will pay for it."

Julian pulled his gun from where he had tucked it into his waistband, and pointed it calmly - confidently - at Martin's heart.

Martin choked out a protest and managed to swing his arm up, knocking the gun away from his heart, but Julian pulled the trigger regardless and the bullet slammed into his side, causing excruciating pain to tear through Martin's body for the second time that day as the loud crack of the gunshot echoed across the hills.

Martin wheezed as he lay winded and grievously wounded on the snow-coated ground, unable to draw in enough air to satiate his need for the precision oxygen, his eyesight flickering as the pain originating from his leg and side flared.

The noise of Martin's surroundings faded out as shock set in and a ringing began to sound in his ears as his beaten and injured body tried to cope with the trauma inflicted by Julian. The pain was excruciating and Martin knew he would pass out soon, and he would be beyond saving soon after. He forced himself to keep his heavy eyelids open as he stared up at the sky that was visible past Julian's shoulder. It was beautiful, soft fluffy clouds dotted the light blue sky as the sun gleamed down on the glowingly white snow that surrounded them. Martin hoped it wouldn't be the last thing he saw, but he couldn't complain if it was.

It was beautiful. 

As the distant sirens - no doubt looking for him and Julian - echoed across the snow-covered hills and gradually grew closer, Julian drew away from Martin, patting him mockingly on the check with a blood-stained hand - leaving a smeared handprint stain behind - before turning and returning his path, quickly disappearing from Martin's view as he moved away from the injured detective. 

Martin coughed - the brilliantly white snow was now spattered with globs of bright red blood. He raised a hand to his mouth and felt warm blood spilling across his lips and down his chin, and as he pulled his hand away he could see that his shaking fingers were stained with his blood. It was brighter than he remembered blood being.

Martin reached into his pocket and felt nothing except for a packet of cigarettes, soaked with blood, the cardboard package soggy and falling apart as his shaking and fumbling fingers pulled it from his pocket, the cigarettes spilling out onto the snow beside his form. His phone. It was with the Maurice, probably in police custody at this point. That left Martin with no ability to call for help.

The world went fuzzy and his vision blackened around the edges, and Martin let his heavy eyelids slip closed, his tense muscles relaxing, letting his limbs sink deeper into the now pink and blood-spattered snow. The calling of the birds and the whistling of the chill winter winds faded into the background as Martin's thudding heartbeat filled his ears.

That would be the last thing he heard.

It really was beautiful. 

He could only hope that Hélène would be rescued in time. She didn't deserve to have suffered the way she had. 

A rattling breath escaped his lungs, and his heaving chest stilled.

The predator had gotten its prey.