Brilliant by planet p

Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.

Definition based on that found in The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Seventh Edition, edited by J. B. Sykes, and published by Oxford, a trademark of Oxford University Press; reprinted 1987.

brilliant a. bright, sparkling; illustrious, striking; highly talented; showy.

He thinks she's brilliant, if not a tad too slim. He wonders how to tell her this – tell her to eat more, it scares him – and thinks how much easier if it would be if Jarod or Ethan just said something.

People say she's cold, just like ice, but the people who say this don't know her. She's not cold at all; she's just easily affected, so she pretends that nothing touches her, so when it hurts she can pretend it doesn't.

Once, she was going to be a mother. When she was twenty-two she had a car accident and the baby died. She doesn't know if it would have been a baby boy or a baby girl. She still thinks about it sometimes. He knows it was a girl. He tried to convince her to stay, but she had already made her mind up, so she left. They said she would never have a baby again.

And so far, she never has. But she is a mother, though she doesn't know it. A boy. She doesn't know what they took, but he does. She was seventeen, he remembers, he was too. He tried to make them stop, they were hurting her, but there were too many.

She is like a mother, to Debbie Broots, who no longer lives with her own mother, and sometimes he thinks, to Ethan, whose adoptive mother and father are dead, and who never got the chance to know his own mother, and to Gemini, who is a clone, so that makes him somehow different to 'normal' humans in people's eyes, even though he has a heart and feelings and a soul just like them.

She is angry and sarcastic, and he doesn't understand how people can still call her 'cold,' because these things are perfectly human.

She was in love once, and then again, and then again. She's loved so many people who have left her or disappointed her, but she still loves again. She can't help it, if she never loved again, it would be like dying, but still being alive; like breathing, but unable to reach out and touch another person. She thought she'd given up on love once – she promised herself, and maybe she did – but she took it back again.

She sometimes wonders what happens to people when they die. Where do they go? What happens to their memories, their experiences? Do they just dissipate across the universe? Or do they go on in some form of spirit or soul? Do they remember the people they once loved? Or hated? She doesn't have answers to these questions, though sometimes she hears her mother's voice in her mind, and maybe that's just the way it goes. Maybe she has to die to find out.

She remembers that she died once. She was fifteen. She was dead for three minutes. She doesn't remember being dead – no blinding white light or tunnel descending from the sky/heavens – just that that was what she was told. Her heart stopped, stayed stopped for approximately three minutes, and was then restarted again.

He remembers. He died too. He hadn't meant for anything to happen to her, but he couldn't stop it. Though she doesn't know it – or believe it, or want to know/believe it – they are connected. Once, before they were even really alive – except that they were, in a way – she saved his life, and sometimes he thinks it made them more connected, or that maybe, if it had never happened, if she had never needed to save him (or whatever) it might have been different.

She cares about a lot of things. She cares about the way the world is going. She cares about the way people are going, and about the way the environment is going. And she cares about a lot of people, even though she pretends she doesn't. Sometimes she is sad when she hears about some battle and how many people died – though they never say how many died on the other side, on the enemy's side (she is sad for them too) – or when she sees something in a magazine or a newspaper, or on the television, about some forest or the ocean or the frogs. She remembers, the best friend who died in the car accident with her baby, had wanted to grow up and save the environment (two things that would never happen).

She doesn't like to talk, but she will listen if someone talks to her (when she's not feeling angry or sarcastic), and sometimes, he thinks, it is harder to listen than to talk.

She acts like she hates him (maybe she does), but he knows she doesn't just hate him, because she's brilliant, after all.

And she is.

(And he thinks she looks real fine in a little sailor-style uniform, and he knows he wasn't the only one who thought so).