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Disclaimer: Pretender characters are property of MTM, TNT, NBC, WB, Steve, Craig and all the others.


The end came upon them like bits of glass, shattered from a window. They landed softly in the grass, next to the countless headstones and roses, tinkling lightly against each other in a prism of colour and sounded not unlike chimes and harps. The wind whistled through them, and they played the grass like fiddles.

She could feel his movements behind her before she felt his hands, rough with dark creases but tender to her like flour and rose petals. His fingertips made rivers down her spine like the tears on her cheeks she often imagined she cried; her eyes were dry.

His hand moved around her shoulder and pulled her to him. She allowed, but did not seek anything further in his presence. She’d always been the strong one. He always said it ran in the family.

She missed him.

More than the freedom she’d had as a child, more than her mother, who she realized now she barely knew. More than her innocence, or her dreams or any other thing she’d had before the truth had settled in upon her. Out of it all, she missed him the most.

If she could bring one person, one fallen back to life, it would be him.

“I know,” he said, from what sounded like miles away. Distance no, time, only partially. But in opinion… might as well have been in different worlds. He said he knew, but, even without looking at him, she knew he didn’t.

He’d always been a bad liar.

Or maybe it was just that she could see through him like no one else could.

He used to say that ran in the family too.

“Is it right?” she asked, her eyes stubbornly ignoring the prick behind them; she hadn’t cried since her mother died, all those years ago. “To miss one more than the other?”

“No,” he answered truthfully. She liked it better when he lied. “But you can miss them differently.”

She missed his laugh, his smile, the way he would hold her up above his head when she was a baby and fly her around the room like an airplane. She missed his cooking, and the rare occasion he would tell her stories.

She never spent a lot of time with either of them, mostly away, traveling from one school to another. Her mother’s idea; she loved the way he stood up for her, numerous times, trying to convince her she was wrong.

She even missed the way they argued.

“They did that a lot,” he noted with a small smile. “Every time they were together…”

“Except for once.”

He looked at her curiously; he had her father’s look, her father’s eyes. She envied him for that.

“You weren’t there,” she explained. “It was Christmas, one year…I can’t remember when. You were off on another valiant attempt to stop it all, and I was stuck, in a small motel room with the two of them, snowed in.

“She bitched for so long… about everything,” she shook her head and sighed, a pained sigh mixed with saddened laughter. “And he just stood there and let her rail and when she was done, with that annoying air he always had- so calm and full of amusement, he said…” she trailed off, the light leaving her voice.


But she didn’t answer, suddenly wanting to leave the moment for herself, and no one else. They weren’t around to cherish it with her anymore; therefore it was her job to protect it. It was selfish; he had a right to know, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell.

He nodded imperceptibly and looked away from her face, back to the headstones.

“You were always closer to them; I envy you for that.”

“Don’t. I wasn’t that close. They kept us away from them as best they could… and it was a good thing, in a way; I suppose.”

“It still hurts.”

She didn’t answer him. Always the strong, stubborn one and if a question arose to close to her guarded heart, she simply ignored it. He was different. He developed the feelings and emotions his father possessed, and while neither had been good at displaying them, he’d always come closer than she.

She’s like their mother.

He’s like their father.

It was right and wrong in so many ways, on so many levels.

“Do you think…” He paused and looked away, letting his hand slide from her shoulder. She waited, and didn’t pry. “Do you think they’re happy?” His voice was nearly lost to the tune the grass was playing.

“No,” she answered truthfully. He liked it better when she lied. “I don’t think they’ll ever be happy. They won’t allow themselves that kind of looseness one needs to be happy.”

“Do you think they’re free?”

“They were always free.”


“Yes.” She looked at him with sturdy eyes. “They made their own bars, and consequentially ones for us as well.” She looked back to the grave. “She made their bars.”

“Why do you do that?”

She blinked lethargically and turned her head to him. His eyes were blue, like their mother’s, but held the soft compassion of their father’s. Her gaze was a replica of that she was silently reproving.

“Why do you hate her so much? She died for you.”

She flinched and looked away sharply, another mimicked movement.

“She loved you, Catherine.”


“Don’t what? Don’t tell you she loved you or call you by your name?”


He sighed, and she elaborated. “Dying for someone and loving them are two different things. “

“Maybe for him; he’d have given his life for anyone. But not her. She didn’t possess that.”

Catherine shook her head again. “This name condemns me,” she whispered.

He turned abruptly and took her chin in his hand, facing her with deep, blue eyes. “You are not her. You are not either of them, or me or even him.”

“I’m all of them, Jacob,” she snapped, pulling away. “And so are you.”

“She died for you,” he reiterated softly.

“You think I don’t know that? You think I don’t think about it every day of my life? She’d be alive today if it weren’t for me-”

“No. She’d never have made it. She was too thick-headed, too stubborn for that. If not you, then she would have killed herself.”

She’d never forget that day, never. It haunted her dreams, her nightmares. When she closed her eyes, she saw the whole thing in slow motion. When she heard the delighted scream of children on playgrounds, her own screams echoed in her ears; she was only ten. When she washed her hands she could still feel the stick of blood coating her fingers and palms as she held her mother, begging, pleading with her not to go.

“Don’t look back,” she’d whispered. “Never look back.”

Catherine swiped the tear from her face in anger, as if its presence was offensive.

“God, it’s so clichéd,” she murmured.

“What is?”

“How little I told her; how little we told each other.”

“She knew.”

“I have to believe that.”

She twisted the silver ring around her index finger, but stopped suddenly when she remembered her mother doing the same. “I always said I liked him better… even told her that repeatedly. But in truth, I think maybe it was because I’m more like her than I want to admit. More than I want to be.”

“I know you’re tired of hearing it, but she was special.”

“I know.”

Jacob followed her gaze to the two white roses placed in front of his grave. “Innocence?”

“I don’t think he ever truly lost his. He was too naïve for that.” Jacob silently agreed.

“The genius of the family…” He sighed. “I miss him too. We talk about her more, because she was there less, but… I miss him just the same.”

“I’m glad he didn’t live so long.” Jacob looked at her in surprise. “To see it end, I mean. Despite what it was, it was still his life. That’s over now.”

“He died when she did.”

“Part of him, anyways.”

There was a pause. “They never really loved each other, did they?”

“They couldn’t. They didn’t know how.”

“They loved us.”

“On some level, yes.”

He sighed, and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “You always make things difficult.”

She didn’t apologize, or say anything else after that and he was just as tight-lipped. They never talked about the past. Partly because they couldn’t remember it all, partly because it was over, but mainly because it just hurt far too much.

“We did it,” she spoke numbly. “It took our lives, theirs and the ones before them, but we did it.” Her eyes rose from the gravestones, past the tree-lined park and up, into the dark windows of the large, coastal building.

The Centre.

It represented nothing now. It had taken three generations of fallen to make it that way, bleak and empty.

“And now… what’s left?”

Stepping closer, he slipped his hand from his pocket and into hers, and without looking at her, knew she was surprised. He grasped gently, a small gesture of comfort he hadn’t done for her since they were children.


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