Bodies by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
She'd gotten her driver's license, and now she needed to get away. It wasn't that she wanted to leave the boy – her father, no, William – but she needed space, and difference. (In her mind, he was still her father.)
But they'd be going together.
The first night, they slept in the car. The night after, they took out a caravan in a caravan park. Sometimes, when there wasn't a caravan park, they'd take a room in a motel or hotel.
One of the motels had a swimming pool, and Tiki snuck out after William had gotten off to sleep and sat on the edge of the pool, dangling her feet in the water. She thought of Miyuki, who'd since passed on, and her real parents, and then she thought of Melody and Teddy.
Sometimes, Melody had come to see her, before she'd moved to Oregon, but Teddy had stayed away.
Tiki wondered, if, when she got back, she'd try to make it up with Kristanna. They'd been best friends, and, if she was honest, Tiki missed her a little bit.
It was in Atlanta that it happened, that Tiki met Jarod, her real father. Well, not met, but glimpsed, and she swore that he saw her, too.
She was just down at the supermarket, and apparently he was, too.
But then he'd left, and she hadn't realised who he was until later.
Crap! Oh, crap!
She felt panicked, as though she was a rabbit, or hare, about to be shot, or a deer, as the cliché went, stuck in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle moving at too great a speed to stop before the two came crashing together.
Should she run back? She didn't know. Should she make it back to the motel and tell William? She didn't know what to do. She felt like maybe she was being pulled in half from either side, and that, like the Titanic, she'd just break in two.
She walked back to the motel, her thongs slapping on the road in time to her paces.
She couldn't really tell William, could she? He'd be upset, and… and there was something else, something that niggled at the back of her mind… something she couldn't quite remember, but knew all the same.
And then it came back, and whacked her about with full force. Kristanna's words: "God, tell me he didn't kidnap you from your real parents!" And Melody's words, from all those years ago: "Where'd you snatch this one from, then?" And William, who couldn't be any more upset by the younger woman's angry words than if she'd just produced a gun and shot him, replying: "Tiki is my daughter."
Except, she wasn't.
Her dad was a good man – not William – who would have looked after her much better, and her mom, she didn't even know what to think about her mom anymore. She didn't think it could be true anymore, that her mom had left William for another man, who just happened to be her real father, and, in his anger, William had stolen her from them, but they'd never come looking for her, and they'd never, for one infinitesimal second, suspected her mother's ex-husband.
They would have suspected, if they'd cared.
So maybe they hadn't cared.
She remembered the man – Jarod's – brown eyes, so much like her own brown eyes, and felt herself winding up, like one of those old, old toys, and the tears starting to build.
Her own parents hadn't wanted her, because they'd just let someone kidnap her and they'd never come back for her!
It was too much.
After quite a bit of vodka, William attempted an explanation. Jarod had been stolen from his parents as a child, but he'd not stolen Tiki from anyone; he'd adopted her.
Jarod, her father, and her mother, Nia, had given her up at birth. They'd been too afraid that she would be taken, like he had been, and they'd thought that by giving her anonymity and obscurity that they'd be protecting her, but it hadn't worked that way.
Teddy had found her before anyone else could – Teddy was good at that, finding things, finding people – and William had decided that the best way to keep her safe would be to adopt her, so that way no one would suspect there was anything different about her.
But there was, just like there was with her father, Jarod.
That was why he'd been taken.
Because they company that he, William, had worked for, took children like Jarod, and even though the company didn't exist anymore, now, Jarod hadn't known how soon it would be before the end.
There was no way he could risk his daughter's life like that, or the life of Nia's daughter.
Melody, her friend, had been, for lack of a better word, pursuing Jarod. The company wanted her to bring Jarod back in. And for all of Teddy's abilities at finding things, he'd proven himself understatedly bad at finding Jarod.
But Jarod also wanted to find his family, and, in the past, the company had had no trouble in finding them, though Jarod had drawn up whole years of blanks and dead leads.
He could not keep Kitty, as much as he would want to, and Nia had agreed that it would be for the best.
But now that she was older, and the company wasn't around anymore, yes, it seemed perfectly fine. She could approach Jarod and talk to him, if she wanted, as long as, he asked, that she keep him out of the conversation.
He hadn't been very nice to Jarod whilst he'd been in the care of the company, he hadn't been very nice to him, at all, and he'd been put in charge of Jarod's younger brother, Kyle, who'd later died. But that was a story for another time, and it was more Jarod and Lyle's story than it was his. And, like the company, Lyle didn't exist anymore.
Tiki didn't interrupt as he spoke, she sat and listened. Then she asked, "Teddy made my father's brother go away?"
William gave a shake of his head. "Teddy is newer than Lyle, Lyle was before Teddy's time."
Her answer was a simple nod.
She didn't know if she should hate William or Teddy, or if she should feel angry at Jarod, so she switched on the television and watched cartoons.
She needed time to think.
"Why did they take my father?" she asked eventually.
"To make money for themselves," William replied.
On the television, a cartoon character busted down a door with one kick.
Tiki didn't cry, she didn't feel like busting anything, she just felt empty, and cold.