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Disclaimer : I do not own the series or any of the characters, I am just playing.

Author's note : This ficlet is dedicated to Jacci, because she thought it needed to be written.

 


 

"This man killed your parents."

Gemini kept a polite and submissive expression on his face, but inside his mind was racing. The man on the screen was him, he was sure of it, only a technician must have used an advanced software to age his looks by about 20 years.

Slowly, the young Pretender stepped towards the white screen, gazing at the magnified picture, looking for signs of tampering. He had worked on enough computer-related sims to know that any alteration to a digital document left traces... He softly stroked the projected image with his fingertips, as if it could somehow help him find irregularities, but whoever had done the job was an expert... Gem couldn't find any evidence, not even where
he would have left a mark, had this been one of his assignments.

He swallowed and sneaked a glance at Mr Raines who was still declaiming his lies. What did all of this mean? Had they found a better pretender? Were they going to replace him? Was this their last cruel riddle, showing him a glimpse of his future before they terminated him? He knew there was nothing he could do to save himself, not if Mr Raines had decided to get rid of him. Begging only resulted in split lips and black eyes. And, with the realization that he was once again powerless, a sort of numbness seeped into him.

Gemini took a step back. So this was what he would look like in twenty years if they let him live. His face would lose its lingering roundness, his jaw would harden. Only his eyes wouldn't change much... The same thoughtful expression, the same underlying sorrow, the same intelligence.

The same... doubts? A flicker of interest lit up in Gemini when he realized that the man's gaze was haunted by something completely foreign to his own character. He knew fear and pain, frustration and uncertainty, but he had never been given any reason to doubt anything. Things were correct or incorrect. He succeeded or he failed. He was rewarded or punished. White or black.

Intrigued, he looked again at the screen, and suddenly something became obvious, like in the 3D images he had been taught to draw when he was little, where things only came into perspective when you focused on them properly. The man on the picture couldn't be him. No software in the world, no matter how advanced, could paint so many shades of grey in his eyes. But if it wasn't him on the picture then...?

That's when the words of the beautiful woman in red who had visited him once echoed in his mind...

When I was your age, I knew a boy just like you... A boy exactly like you...







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