The gravity of things by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
As he breathes, the air is like cold silk; soft, and not cold enough to hurt his teeth. The morning light straining through the frosted glass windows and gauzy pink curtains of the bathroom is weak.
The thin pink stripe in the white toothpaste, alongside the green stripe, remind him of the curtains.
The water is cold when he turns the tap and a stream of water rattles out, freezing the bones in his hand when he goes to put the front of the toothbrush under the water, then turn the tap off, and brush his teeth.
The toothpaste's bubblegum flavour makes him want to pull a face – maybe it's the sweetener – and he squints into the stained, spotty mirror at the spots on his face, soggy-cornflake colour in the tired morning light. He wonders if maybe he's paler than usual, if that's why the spots seem particularly prominent that morning.
He can feel the cold from the floor soaking into the bottom of his slippers, making his feet cold, and he thinks of the kitchen, where he'll put the heater on, and the room will slowly start to heat up, and he'll maybe stand in front of the heater for a long moment whilst he's waiting for his coffee to cool enough to sip, then drinking.
He's looking forward to his morning coffee, but it'll taste like it does every morning right after he's brushed his teeth, lurid and not right, and he wonders why he doesn't have his coffee before he brushes his teeth, that'd make much more sense.
Afterward, at work, he'll always have another coffee – as though he didn't have one earlier – and he'll always look forward to that. If he brushed his teeth after his first coffee of the morning, he thinks that he might look forward to his second coffee less, which he always quite likes.
He counts the rusty spots in the back of the mirror before he has to spit out the toothpaste and wash out his mouth with water that'll set his teeth on edge. He's happy when he's washed most of the toothpaste taste from his mouth, and splashes water on his face with his cupped hands, which makes him wince.
The water is so cold it feels like its pinching his face.
When he breathes, the air hurts his teeth. He thinks of the heater in the kitchen and untangles the cord for the electric shaver and plugs it in at the socket at the wall. After he's shaved, he brushes his hair and leaves the bathroom.
The hall is darkened and dusty compared to the bathroom, and he slows his pace so that he doesn't trip over his own feet and stumble, or wall into an unexpected wall, then he feels the cold handle that opens the kitchen door and pulls on it, and he steps into the kitchen, closing the door after him so that when he switches the heater on the heat stays in the room.
He pauses in front of the door, imagining he can feel the whiteness of the paint at his back, and frowns into the room. It's much warmer in the room than he'd have expected, which he sees, turning his head, is because the heater has already been turned on.
Ethan is up, sitting across the room, as farthest from the heater as he can get without actually leaving the room, on the floor, his back to the cupboards. He's reading something which Jarod can't make out. He'd forgotten that Ethan was here.
He feels dread and embarrassment all mixed up together. He doesn't think it's okay to forget that your half brother's staying with you, or, when you remember, to feel kinda deflated.
He imagines that it's probably cold over where Ethan's sitting, especially on the floor, but he doesn't say so, because he doesn't want to offend Ethan. He's a strange sort, but Jarod has learnt to accept it rather than continually point out his strangeness whenever it seems more evident.
"Coffee should still be warm," Ethan tells him, without looking up from his book, seemingly absorbed with interest, and Jarod realises that the book has no front, at least, that its front cover is bare and white, except for a raised pattern which is hard to make out at distance.
He walks across the room toward Ethan to pour himself a coffee, regretting have to leave the warmth of the end of the room where the heater is situated.
Ethan closes the book once Jarod has poured himself a coffee, and has turned back to the heater. He almost pauses, but Ethan only goes across to the fridge and looks inside it, still holding the book with no cover in his hands.
"You didn't phone Miss Parker last night," Ethan says, more to the fridge than him, though he knows Ethan isn't talking to the fridge; at least, he knows that Ethan is talking to him because out of the fridge and he, he's the only one who could have phoned anyone.
"No," he replied. "Sometimes I don't."
Ethan choses something from the fridge, which turns out to be yoghurt, and shuts the fridge door.
Jarod can almost feel the room start to feel warmer again, without the outpour of cold from the refrigerator. He tries not to think that he regrets Ethan's being with him.
Ethan is looking for a spoon now, and says, "That's okay, I had some things to talk to Robert about."
Jarod feels himself stop against his will, suddenly very cold. He knows who Ethan means, he's been calling his half brother, Lyle, that for a while now, though Jarod doesn't know why he called him, nor what he could possibly have to talk to him about.
"Apparently it's standard for predisposition of the anomaly's expression to be inherited more strongly from the mother's side in cases of non-Convergence," Ethan rattles off, finally finding the spoon he's been looking for, and turning to Jarod.
Jarod shrugs, as though he's not sure what Ethan's telling him, and isn't all that interested in any case.
"I mean, I guess that means Raines wanted me to be like this," Ethan says, without looking up from his yoghurt.
"Like what?" Jarod hears himself ask, though he didn't want to talk at all.
"Loony," Ethan replies easily, as though the topic is off little concern to him, or about someone else.
"Mrs. Parker wasn't loony," Jarod says hotly, wondering again why he'd opened him mouth, and why he is upset by Ethan's presumption that Catherine was mentally ill, and that he, also, is.
Ethan shrugs, his attention on the yoghurt he's eating. "Robert says our father has the Inner Sense, too, same as Cathy. That's what he thinks anyway."
Jarod has never heard Ethan call Catherine Cathy before, and he wonders if Ethan picked it up from Lyle. "'Has'?" he questions.
Ethan frowns a bit, just for a moment. "I mean-"
"Hang on!" Jarod says, louder than before. "'Our' father?" He's almost shouting now, or maybe he is shouting, and he's trying to downplay it in his mind. "You don't have the same father!"
Ethan looks up from his yoghurt, not startled, but frowning. "I see that now," he says, as though only just realising what Jarod has said, and that he'd not picked up on it before.
"Ethan, why are you even talking to him?" Jarod yells, feeling the tingly feeling in his throat. He shouldn't shout at Ethan; he feels bad.
"I don't see why not," Ethan says plainly, and Jarod can hear him thinking, It's not like I'm not already loony, no danger of infection.
Jarod feels suddenly hot; he's angry. "It's not safe!" he shouts angrily, in a sort of grinding voice.
Ethan frowns at him. "He's my brother," he says, as though he forgets that he also shot Kyle, and almost killed Emily.
Ethan cuts his words off, interjecting. "Cathy says I should be allowed to talk to him whenever I want to!" He's angry.
"I don't think-" Jarod begins.
"No, you don't!" Ethan shouts. "You think you're the only one in the whole world who's clever enough to grasp the gravity of things!"
Jarod feels as though he's been slapped.
"Well you're not the only one who I'm related to!" Ethan yells at him coldly, and suddenly he's across the room, and then he's not even in the room, and Jarod feels like maybe he's floating away, to somewhere else, somewhere where maybe things don't matter the same way that they do on Earth.
He puts down his coffee and takes out his cell phone. He rings Sydney.
Lame, yeah. Thanks for reading!