All of her training and field work prepared her for this moment. He was a sick man, acting on his impulses, risking it all just to gain the attention of the woman who ruined his life. Donald McKee chose the wrong target this time. She wasn't a little girl anymore, trying to survive in a dog-eat-dog world. Elle had been born a fighter, and that was how she planned on leaving this earth.
"Let her go, McKee. I wont ask you again," Elle demanded, as she resisted on pulling out the handgun strapped to her inner thigh. She wanted him to think he was still in control. It was the only way Sarah would make it out of this alley alive. The club behind them was filled with grinding bodies dancing to the rhythm of trance music, completely oblivious to the dangerous man that had walked in so freely with one goal in mind; killing whoever he had to, to let his target know he wasn't quite finished destroying her just yet.
"Or what? You'll kill me? Go ahead. I rather die by your hands than go back to prison," Donald answered, the sharp point of his knife holding steady at Sarah's neck. Elle noticed the beads of sweat dripping down his forehead, and the way he winced whenever Sarah tried to pry herself free of his grip. He was in pain. Probably stemming from the leg injury he received in prison. His fellow prison-mates must've figured out what he liked to do to children, and decided to show him what trauma felt like every night in his cell. She'd be lying if she said he didn't deserve it.
"I'm here. This is what you wanted, right?" she asked as she made eye contact with Sarah and used a subtle glance to let Sarah know she could fight him off by aiming at his injured leg if she needed to. Elle had warned her McKee would come back for one final showdown, and that it would most likely involve her. He had no more manpower since Happy Mike had been caught by the police trying to skip town the day he almost beat Carter to death. And now he had one card left to play, which only made him more dangerous.
"Don't come any closer. I'll slit her throat! I swear it!" he threatened nervously as he stepped back and held Sarah closer to him.
"Come on now, Donald. She's not who you want. It's me. It's been me all along," Elle played along and felt her hands itching to reach for her firearm once again. She wanted nothing more than to put a bullet in between his eyes but she knew it would be a quick death. The bastard didn't deserve one.
"Tell me, do you remember what it felt like bashing her brains in with your fists? Did the blood stain your fingertips?" McKee tried to provoke, as he stared down at Sarah, who lowered her gaze down to the floor, shame washing over her face. Elle attempted to ignore the vivid images he was purposely trying to plant in her mind to distract her, but it was too late. Leah's battered and bloody face consumed her thoughts and it almost disabled her from the inside out.
"Elle, focus. Don't let him win," Carter's focused and calm voice stated in the earpiece hidden in her ear, blocked by her naturally wavy hair. Elle took a deep breath and aimed her glare towards the woman he was using as bait. She'd warned her to lay low until he was caught. But she'd chosen to come out tonight, in McKee's hunting ground, where he'd found the other women he killed shortly after. Why?
The answer was as clear as day, right at the tip of her tongue, but Elle refused to believe it. The Leah she'd given her heart to at sixteen would never have agreed to help a criminal. Then again, McKee was good at manipulating people. He had something on Sarah that forced her hand and Elle needed to figure out what it was before this escalated into a bigger tragedy.
"I left you for dead," Elle claimed, holding Sarah's gaze, watching the pair before her carefully for any signs that her instincts were wrong about Sarah being Leah. As soon as McKee began to laugh and Sarah remained quiet, everything started to make sense to her. Why she was helping him, that look on her face as she examined one of the victims on her table, the knowing glances she'd given her on more than one occasion.
The same heart she'd brought life back into had now exploded into a million pieces of burning rage and paralyzing sadness. Many people wondered how a person could be in the middle of sorrow and fury, happiness and guilt and still manage to get out of bed and push through the day. The answer was simple. You needed something to fight for. Something that brought meaning to your life. McKee had tried to take that away from her by using Leah, the root cause of her encasing her heart.
She didn't know how he found out about what she had to done to her but she couldn't let him win. Not because she was stubborn. But because he was the reason she woke up in the morning, to win these endless battles and keep innocent people safe, even when her bones were tired and her mind was fractured from turning into monsters in order to catch them. It wasn't in her nature to back down from a fight, and he was nothing more than a sad man with nothing but revenge holding his brittle body together.
"And there's your answer, my dear. You and I, we're the same. We hunt, we entice, we win. One way or another, we bask in the glory of triumph and this my love, will be mine," Donald ranted, and while she could think of at least six different ways she could kill him in cold blood with her bare hands, she needed to outsmart him, use his behavior against him. That was the only way he'd fall at her feet and lose at his own twisted game.
"You are by far the weakest animal I've ever chased McKee. And I'm sure it's always been that way. Even when you were five years old and the kids at the playground made fun of you for being so weird. Can you still hear them laughing at you, Donald? Can you hear the laughter coming out of all those kids in my old neighborhood, before you abused and traumatized them for life?" Elle antagonized and it worked. She could see the anger in his beady eyes and it was consuming him enough to let his guard down.
"Now!" Elle ordered Sarah, as she reached for the handgun and aimed it at the raging sociopath, who had collapsed onto his back when Sarah bit into his hand and kicked his injured leg. He cursed her name a million times before he tried to get back up and charge at her. But he stopped immediately right after the sound of a gunshot rippled through the air, and blood spilled from his right hand, finally making him drop the knife onto the dirty alley floor.
Carter stood not too far behind him, smoke floating out of his sniper riffle as he stood over the man who'd brought so much grief into their lives. The sound of the sirens heading in their direction made Elle sigh in relief as Carter brought out his handcuffs and handed them over to her.
"Would you like to do the honors?" Carter taunted, giving the asshole one last good kick in the balls before he rolled over in pain. Elle smirked as she hunched down and brought his hands behind his back, slapping on the cuffs tightly.
She didn't expect Captain Hall to believe her story about casually bumping into McKee at the club and witnessing him assaulting Sarah in the alley. But it helped him close the case, which would only serve in his favor.
"On behalf of this precinct, I'd like to offer you your gun and your badge back. Full reinstatement given tonight's events. I think you've learned your lesson," Captain Hall informed her as she finished signing her police statement and handed it back to him.
"Thank you. But I'm going to have to decline," she began, causing him to narrow his eyes at her, "I'm heading back to Minnesota," she added, but he didn't look distraught about her sudden decision. Which she had realized wasn't exactly so sudden. There was a reason why she could never find a place she could call home here. Miami unfortunately, wasn't the place she imagined spending the rest of her life in. Sure, the weather was nice, and there was plenty of work to be done when it came to hunting down criminals. But Carter, her goddaughter Lily, and her best friend Hazel, they were her family now. They're what she always pictured herself having one day and now that she had it, she wouldn't dare let her work get in the way of it. If keeping them safe meant she had to step away from being a profiler for a while, then that's what she was going to do. No questions asked.
"Don't let this life break you down, Dubois. It's never worth it." he advised, signs of remorse evident on his tired face, and she reached to shake his hand as she stood up.
"Thanks, Cap. I'll take your word for it," she claimed, and once he nodded, he gave her a small but paternal smile and closed her file.