Table of Contents [Report This]
Disclaimer: I do not own The Pretender or anything affiliated with it. It is owned by NBC, TNT, and Steve & Craig. No infringement is intended and no profit is being made.
Spoilers: Nothing specific; Lyle's backstory as presented in "Crash".
Time Line: Post-Island of the Haunted. Resides in the same universe as my story, The Remainder. You don't have to read that one first to understand this one.
Characters: Mr. Lyle
Author's Note: Gift!Fic for melanie_anne. She prompted me with: The Pretender, Lyle, sweet and sour. Also fits fanfic100 prompt #024: family. I always wanted to write about Lyle's relationship with his adoptive parents, and now I finally have!
Summary: There's no one left to mourn her except her incarcerated husband and her dead son.
Expecting Sympathy From the Wounded
He gets word of her death in the form of a phone call from the hospital, the doctor's voice soft and soothing, like he's expected to burst into tears at any moment. He doesn't know why it would be expected of him; as far as the doctor knows he's a cousin (dead son) no one has heard from in over ten years. (Fifteen years ago he learned the secret to hiding dead bodies, and his past has a habit of showing up with a pointed finger, shocked eyes, and a mouth hanging limply open.)
As soon as he hangs up the phone rings again, and Mr. White wants to know what arrangements should be made for her funeral. White lilies, simple church service, no wake. There's no one left to mourn her except her incarcerated husband and her dead son.
"Oh, and pack up the house and ship it out here." Later, he'll attribute this request to the alcohol that was already swirling through his system. Now, he'll lock his office door, order his secretary that he's not to be disturbed, sit down on his brown leather couch, and cry.
His mother (the one he knew, and she's the only one that really mattered) just died.
Two days later and four shots into the day, he catches Broots giving him a sympathetic look across the concourse while he talks to Miss Parker. Miss Parker glances at him, then redirects Broots's attention back to her. He thinks it might be the nicest thing she's ever done for him.
It pisses him off. He barges into his office, fully intent on making some project manager somewhere suffer just to make himself feel better. He pulls up short of his desk when he realizes there is someone sitting in the chair across from his desk, and of course it's--
"Sydney," he practically spits out, annoyed that he's going to have to spend the morning and a good buzz having Sydney attempt to shrink his head.
"Good morning, Mr. Lyle," Sydney says genially in that uninterested tone of his that never fails to get underneath Lyle's skin. He drops his briefcase on the couch and tries not to let his urge to throttle the old psychiatrist get the better of him today.
"I suppose you're here to get me to talk about how I feel, and maybe cry on your shoulder? Help the id and the ego work through their pain or whatever? Why don't we just skip ahead to the part where I tell you to fuck off and you actually do fuck off?" He kneads the area where he can still feel the ghost of a thumb lingering, and again regrets giving the thumb back only to have it blown to bits a few months later.
"Actually," Sydney responds, setting a bottle of Lyle's favorite liquor on the desk in front of him, "I was wondering if you would like a drink? No talking, just drinking."
The edge of Lyle's mouth twitches into a smirk, and he nods.
"Lots of drinking," he says, and sits down opposite Sydney.
Eight days later, it's Saturday and far too early for anyone to be ringing his doorbell that incessantly. (He ignores the clock that reads 1:46 pm.) He stumbles out of bed, the pristine bedroom swirling around him as his hangover announces its presence.
The doorbell is still ringing like it's developed a glitch in the wiring and is permanently stuck in a staccato rhythm devised just to drive him insane. (He wouldn't put it past Jarod.) He notices that he never bothered to take off his suit beyond jacket and tie last night (this morning), and finds himself already wishing for the comforting coolness of the bottle wrapped in his fingers.
He makes it to the door, his annoyance and pain growing exponentially with each passing buzz of the doorbell.
"What?" he barks after flinging the door open, leaning on it for support. The light feels like it's burning through his retinas as he squints at the man standing on his stoop.
"We have all the stuff from the house. Where do you want it?" The mover is a greasy man who hasn't bothered to shave in about a week, and it takes all of Lyle's willpower to not throw up at the dull, sickening glow the oil on the man's face exudes. He glances around the disgusting man into the street where there are two large moving trucks sitting.
It's Tuesday evening and he takes a pull from a bottle while contemplating the door to a self-storage unit. Everything his mother had is in there: family heirlooms, scrapbooks, his childhood paintings--the mementos of a life that was never really his.
He considers setting it all on fire.
In the end, he finishes the bottle and walks away, the glass shattering in the moonlight where he threw it.
Wednesday comes and goes in a haze of alcohol and the mindless paperwork that comes with being partly in charge of The Centre, then it's Thursday and he finally has something to look forward to: his dear old daddy (the one still above ground, that is) needs his monthly present sent to him.
That's how he finds himself on the floor in his office, back against the couch, scissors in his right hand, bottle sitting next to him, and paper cut-outs spread around him. Even after the loss of his thumb he still continues to cut out the locks himself, not minding the paper cuts and relishing the mental torture he knows Lyle Bowman suffers because of these locks.
This time is different, though, because he's trying not to think about all the times he sat like this as a child, his mother hovering over him to make sure he didn't cut off one of his fingers with the scissors. (That's a laugh, now) For one blinding moment he remembers being genuinely happy, and the feeling is enough to make his stomach lurch. He drops the scissors and reaches for the bottle, eagerly sucking down the alcohol that's left in it, his throat burning and eyes watering. (He'll blame that on the alcohol, too.)
Then he remembers what always happened next in that memory, when Lyle Bowman would practically fall through the door, reeking of alcohol and looking for someone or something to beat into the ground. He remembers his mother's screams echoing through the small house, the door to his room not enough to do anything more than muffle them slightly.
He attacks the paper cut-outs with renewed vigor, and angrily writes on the back of the one he's sending out in tomorrow's mail.
Congratulations, you've finally killed her.