In the half-light by planet p

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

Author's Notes Story Repost. Written in 2006? Catherine/Sydney.

The young woman watched the tiny bead of light slide along the sharp silver, a small smile creasing her perfect matte red lips.

She felt the cold of the metal against the delicate skin of her wrists, felt the anticipation like a longing, the weight of the metal heavy.

She sucked in a deep breath as she dragged the kitchen knife easily across her wrist, warm blood oozing down her frozen flesh, falling to the lime green floor with a tiny 'plop'.

Disappointment shone in her cool blue eyes as a steady puddle of deep red blood began to form by her delicate bare feet.

She dropped the knife as though it had burnt her, ignoring the loud clatter the linoleum managed to almost entirely muffle as the metal hit the floor.

She fell to the lino in a heap, her pretty eyes wild, scratching and scratching and scratching. Her face shone with pain but she never stopped, wouldn't stop. It had to hurt. If it didn't hurt it wouldn't matter. Oh, how it hurt. But she never stopped. She was strong.

Pain was her punishment. He did not love her. She wanted so desperately to love him, sometimes she even thought – or believed – that she did, that she loved him. She was punished for her love. He hit her, he bound her, he insulted her. But none of these things hurt her, as much as her own foolish heart did.

She accepted his abuse, it was the only love she could ever expect from him. She let him do what he would, she loved him too much to deny him that, she wanted him to love her back too much.

Pain was her solace. She knew pain, so well, and it knew her. Sometimes she even thought that she liked it, willed herself to like it. Pain excited her, in some sick, perversed, twisted, demented way – oh, how it excited her. Knowing that it was not him causing that pain, knowing that it was just physical pain, punishment for the pain she felt in her heart, the guilt she felt at knowing that she did not love him as well as she should. But how she wanted to love him. She wanted so badly. A wife should always love her husband. A wife should always cherish her husband.

Then there were times that she thought that she truly could love him, only to, come another night, hate herself for letting him hurt her the way he did, for loving him despite the hurt he caused.

Perhaps it was wrong, but she didn't know very much by that point. She knew that she shouldn't have loved him, yet she did, and she knew that she shouldn't have hated him, but yet again, she did.

She just wanted something in her life to be right, something to be in her power, under control. Pain was that something. For now the pain was her friend… and there was no shame.

Sydney ran a hand across his fevered forehead, his hand shaking terribly. He didn't know why he got to feeling this way, he just woke up some nights, and the feeling was there. Needless to say, he didn't like it, it scared him more than he was willing to admit.

For now, however, he put his fears and feelings aside. He had to find Catherine. For some reason – entirely unexplained – he felt a desperate need to see her, just to know she was okay… or… something like that.

He sighed. He had to get a grip on himself. He was grown up now, besides, it wasn't as if he had ever really had much of a chance at childhood… So why this feeling? And why now?

Again, he told himself he was being foolish, and picked up his pace.

"Oh my God, Cathy! What happened? What have you done?"

Cathy rolled her baby blue eyes flippantly. "It's nothing. I just slipped taking the washing out, scraped my arm on a bit of metal."

Sydney hiccupped again, shocked, gazing down at the piece of ripped material wrapped tightly around her wrist.

Catherine laughed, finding his dramatics rather amusing. "Oh, Sydney, I'm not a little girl anymore, I know how to handle myself. It's just a little scratch-"

Sydney cut her off, his brown eyes overlarge. "You-you d-did this? You c-cut yours-self-f?" He looked up into her eyes, desperately seeking reassurance that his accusations were unfounded.

Catherine's laughter died down. A scowl crossed her pretty face. "Just leave me alone!" she growled, starting for the door. Sydney caught her arm, steering clear of her sore wrist. She spun back to him viscously, her eyes dark and savage. "What's it to you?" she stormed. "Why the Hell do you care? I'm sick of you, Sydney! I'm sick to fucking death of you always acting like you have to protect me from whatever the Hell it is you think I need protecting from! I DON'T NEED YOUR PROTECTION! I DON'T WANT YOUR PROTECTION! And I sure as Hell DON'T want your HELP! So just fuck off! There's the door! GO!"

Sydney hiccupped. She pulled away from him, her chest heaving terribly, her dark eyes glaring into his as though he were the most loathed person in her world. She looked away from him finally. He hadn't moved an inch. Finally, it seemed he might speak. "I care, Cathy," he looked away from her face, from those hateful eyes, "because I'm your friend."

Catherine snorted. "Fuck you! I don't need a friend!" she spat.

Sydney was taking deep breaths, willing himself not to hiccup. His voice was barely a breath when he spoke, still gazing determinately at the carpeted floor. "But I do…"

The young woman before him burst into raucous, almost maniacal, laughter. "Oooh, now I see! Now I fucking see! Poor old Sydney! All hard done by! Well I ain't fucking buying it!" She turned on him, seizing the front of his clothes and slamming him against the nearest wall, her eyes wide and glazed, her breath on his face. "I HOPE YOU DIE!"

Sydney held his breath for what seemed like an eternity. He didn't hiccup then, didn't even blink. Catherine just kept right on staring into his eyes, stubborn and savage in her revenge.

He had no right caring for her! He had no right interfering in her affairs like that! He had no right to make her feel bad for what she had done! For what she was doing…

Tears sprung to her eyes. Silently she cursed herself. A Plague on you, Catherine Parker, for she who shall show weakness…

She began to sob, the sobbing turned from sniffing to wild, abhorrent, torrents flowing in gutters of dissolved mascara down her polished cheeks. She thumped her head on Sydney's shoulder, hiding her miserable face from him, and felt him relax.

Comforting he was good at, something he was familiar with, all too familiar, he sometimes thought.

"Please help me, Sydney," she sobbed, taking ragged breaths, "I'm going mad. You must help me. I beg you."

She fell hard on her knees before him, grasping her hands together as hot tears continued to roll down her plump cheeks, mingling with the ice of her skin, giving her face a shiny – if not grubby – glaze.

Sydney shook his head slowly. "Cathy, please don't. Get up. Please. You must. You know I could never refuse you anything. I care for you too much to see you in such pain and turn away." Catherine threw her arms around his legs. "Cathy!"

She sobbed quietly to herself. "I can't do it anymore. I just want to die." Her words fell like stars from a stormy ebony sky, like beads from a necklace of pearls.

Sydney slid down the wall before her, taking her hands in his, his eyes tragically sad. He shook his head, but it was all he could do to keep from crying. "You don't mean that…"

"Yes, I do," she replied in a broken voice, the words falling away across the carpet as if they had lost the will to do any more.

He knew she was no longer lying. He took her in his arms once more. She didn't cry. She had done her crying.

P would often wonder about her Mummy and the nice man with the funny voice. Jarrie said his name was Sydney and he was a doctor, and doctors helped people.

P laughed sometimes. "Doctors charge a lot of money," she informed him bossily, "but they don't help you, cos then you wouldn't come back, dah!"

Jarrie frowned, and struggling to find any flaw in this logic, his frown deepened. "Sydney isn't one of those doctors," he told her plainly.

She grinned. That was his 'I'll just pretend I didn't hear that' voice. "Then what kind of a doctor is he? Does he play golf?"

Jarrie shook his head. "He reads books."

P snickered. "My mummy gave him a book."

"What's golf?"

P blinked. "Changed the topic already, sorry, better luck next time." She saw the sad look in his eyes and the way he was prepared to take her word for it, so she just couldn't be bad. "It's some stupid game adults play with a stupid metal stick thingy that's really stupid. It really is stupid, and it really hurts if someone chucks the ball at the back of your head…" she moaned.

Jarrie nodded. "People aren't supposed to hurt other people. At least that's what I reckon, not like anyone listens to me but-"

P opened her mouth and gaped in protest. "I listen!" she retorted. Jarrie gave her a brief dismissive glance before turning back to her scandalised face and laughing. She growled, blushing. "You're so mean!" she blubbed.

"I'm taking lessons."

P sniffed, wiping her eyes, and smacked her hand down on his desk, making him start. "Right then! Right then! Lesson number 3-4-9."

"Does Sydney talk about my mummy?"

"Uh-huh, he calls her Cathy."

"Daddy calls her Cathy." P and Jarrie looked around at each other before shaking their heads as though confused. "Growin'-ups!" P concluded in tones of accentuated exasperation.

Jarrie was twirling his too short hair in his fingers, leant against the wall, sitting beside his very-best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-Centre.

P gazed up at the ceiling absently. "Mummy kissed him once."

"Your daddy?"

P snorted. "No! Your doctor."

Jarrie grinned. "Sydney?"

P sighed, breathing in and out through her nose. "That's right. I saw them."


"Shut up!"

Jarrie laughed quietly, grinning to himself.

"Do you think Mummy likes him?" the younger girl mused.

"I don't think so. Maybe they were just playing cos they knowed you would see," Jarod stated knowledgeably.

P frowned. "Um, why?"

"Cos maybe they reckon you're a buzzy bee."

"Busy body!" P burst out.

"Busy body," Jarod corrected lamely.

P narrowed her blue eyes at him. "I don't think they were pretending."

"Why's that?" Jarod asked, feigning disinterest.

P turned to him and held out her little finger. "Pinky promise."

The older boy scrunched up his nose at her girly habits. After a long moment, in which he conceded he was becoming thoroughly bored of his friend's mock hateful glaring, he stuck out his little finger and they shook on it.

P settled back against the cold hard wall, satisfied. "You had to be there…" she began, falling short with a soft sigh. Jarrie rolled his eyes. P moaned, annoyed perhaps that he couldn't – for all his supposed genius – read minds. "People – adults, that is to say – don't kiss on tables, and not mean it."

"I dunno, that sounds pretty uncomfortable to me. I dunno if I'd wanna kiss no girl on no table."

P snorted. "You don't know any girls!" she scorned mockingly.

He blinked. "I see." P sat back against the wall, snickering to herself, a terribly smug smile written all over her face. "You see, I always thought you were a girl, but if you say you're not, I'll take your word for it. You would know, after all."

P's blue eyes grew as wide as orbs. "What?" she demanded gruffly in a slightly higher voice than usual. Her 'I can't believe what you just said' voice.

It was Jarrie's turn to smirk. "You said I didn't know any girls," he told her smugly.

P growled stubbornly. "Rrrr!"

Jarrie sighed and gazed up at the ceiling. After some time, both of them having been staring at the ceiling in apparent boredom (or wonderment on Jarrie's behalf, as he found absolutely everything liable for wonderment, much to P's absolute annoyance), he looked back down and blinked at his hands. "Why would anyone wanna kiss on a table?"

"How the heck should I know?" P replied despondently. Jarrie sighed again. "Quit it!" the tiny brunette snapped.

Jarrie rolled his brown eyes. "What kind of a book?"

P blinked, and then remembering their earlier conversation, shrugged. "Rhymes."

"Like poems," Jarrie suggested delicately. P didn't like to be shown up. She liked to be right, more often than not.

"Poems!" she announced raucously as though he hadn't spoken.

Jarrie nodded. "I like poetry. Sydney read me some once."

P frowned, her brow creasing slightly. "Mummy's poetry?"

"I don't think so."


P sniffed, and then she remembered the reason she had come after all, the reason she had gone to see her mummy before she had walked in on her kissing Jarrie's doctor.

She blinked back tears.

Jarrie turned to her suddenly as though sensing her sadness. "P?"

"Timmy's gone away…" she told him in the bravest voice she could.

The little boy froze. "Home?"

Noisy tears slid down the girl's unbroken face. "No." He didn't hug her. She would just biff him across the head and scowl loudly in his ear. "He's not coming back…"


P burst into all out sobs, chucking herself on her friend and crying her eyes out. "The bad doctor put him back in the naughty chair…"

Jarrie shivered, hugging his friend closer to him. He knew she really meant to say Timmy was dead. He rubbed at his eyes furiously. He couldn't cry in front of P, it would make her angry! Besides, he didn't want to cry. Crying meant giving up, and he wasn't one for giving up easily. Once you gave up, once you got used to having less, then they made you give up again and you didn't object cos you thought it was okay, to only give up a little, and then you would have nothing left, and you wouldn't even wonder.

A tear slid down his cheek but he didn't care. People weren't supposed to hurt each other… that didn't mean they didn't.