Finding Bobby: The Coming Storm by planet p

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

10 years later

Jarod smiled at the staff, and at the patients, of the facility as he passed through hallways and wards, but inside, he was not smiling. He felt trapped, and upset.

It wasn't the same exactly, but it was similar enough to hurt. Once, he'd been trapped like this. Once, he'd been the one contained.

Inside the Center, he had been able to reach his full potential, he heard invisible voices saying. Inside this facility, the patients could reach their full potential, get help, be who they truly were inside, not the distorted, unwanted image the illness showed to the outside world.

He might have been outside, but inside – inside him – he was still what he'd been then, when he'd been inside, he was still a Pretender. And now, the image that he presented to the outside world was the distorted one. Maybe not unwanted – at least by those who were not the Center, nor knew of it – but distorted nonetheless, stunted.

Sometimes, he wondered if it hurt him, too, to be away from that place, in some crazy, crazy way, to be away from people who wanted him to reach his full potential, no matter the reasons or means.

If he was of a firm opinion against everything that they stood for, then could it still hurt him? Could it hurt him simply because it was unfulfilling to his potential, because he had so much more inside?

The thought was laughable, and painful, and ridiculous, and he grew mad with it, every time he thought it. The Center had stopped him from reaching his full potential – by deciding what it was his potential was in the first place, by implanting false pretences and false reasons and false… everything!

He'd never been able to reach his full potential as a feeling person – as a son, a brother, a friend, a lover, a father – because the Center had decided he would be better suited as a thinking person – purely – had decided he would be better suited to their purposes as one half of a person!

They'd never thought of what he might want, or need, or require, damn it!

They'd never thought that he needed to be more than just half of a person, needed to be more than just a fragment, a splinter in the side of a world that had incorrectly – or correctly – been led to believe that it did not want him, as much as he did not want it!

But he had not known that he could want it!

And it had not known that it could want him!

He forcibly pushed the thoughts from his mind; his heart was beating too fast in his chest. He needed to remain alert, in case the Center discovered word of his whereabouts, he did not need to be so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he walked right into one of them and, as they both realised who the other was, began scrambling and running and praying that the other did not succeed.

That was one of the things he liked least about the Center, that he always had to make other people fail at what they were trying to do to be able to succeed at what he was. That was one of the things that always sucked! Misinformation and deceit!

He didn't want to hurt people, or cause other people to bring harm upon them, but the Center didn't car about what he wanted, they only saw what they wanted, fuelled by more misinformation, and more deceit!

Sometimes he thought, they were the same, all painfully mislead, all painfully suffering for it, but unable to change – totally incapable of change because that was the way it was, and would always be!

Maybe it was frightening, to think of it being otherwise!

Maybe it was stupid, when other people did it, other people got away with it!

Maybe he was ill – and stupid – for not allowing the indoctrination and lies to sink in, to stick, quite as much as those others, though he was sure, in his own way, that he was no less indoctrinated, no less corrupted, than any other being on this Earth.

No, the one thing that the Center failed to grasp, was that he was still human!

Just like they were!

Just like all the other people on this planet were!

And that they were a part of each other, whether they liked it or not!

Not for the second time that day, he pushed his now unwanted thoughts away, infuriated. He did not want them now! What was the use? He'd face them later! He wasn't sending them away for good – that was too like the Center's style – he was putting them away for a time when he could look at them and see some sense in them, see something that was not I hate everything! And I hate everyone in it!

What a ridiculous thought!

He had to race, out of breath, to catch up with himself before he began analysing that, too. It was what he did when he was agitated or upset, he knew. He began analysing things, as though he had some problem, and could not stop.

It was beyond upsetting. It reminded him of the Center, and why he'd once been sent – taken, really – there. It made him turn, start to think like them, Look at you! You'd be perfect, can't you see that? It made him angry!

It made him scared! Maybe I'm mad? Maybe that's it!

Which brought him back to the facility he was now striding through, toward the visitor's rooms, like an intruder to a cool, cosy – sometimes stifling, suffocating – nest, like someone who stole children from their beds at night, and from their comfortably, familiar lives, and thrust them into Hell, into worlds they hadn't even known to have existed!

It wasn't Sydney's fault! he thought quickly. At least you got to meet Sydney! If he'd never come – been brought – to the Center, then it was likely that he'd never have met Sydney, either. And he could not think about that. He did not think anyone could, about someone they cared for.

Everything else just seemed to melt away, sometimes, to become so little as to be inconsequential. It hurt, too, but it wasn't the same hurt. It wasn't the same, because he wasn't trying to run away from this hurt, he welcomed it. It was his – and they couldn't stop him from feeling it, they couldn't, no matter how hard they tried, ever take it away from him!

It would be his until the day he died and left this world for that next great adventure!

Sometimes he hated it! But sometimes he loved it, too! And that was okay! It was his to love or hate as he wished, or, sometimes, both love it and hate it at the same time!

As he entered the visitor's room, Bobby was sitting at the table, staring at nothing.

The title sucks! If you're interested in seeing this series continue, I'd like to know, because I think it's getting nowhere fast! Rrr! * annoyed at self * Thanks for reading!