Not anyone by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
The flight, though she'd been seated for the majority of the time, had exhausted her. Coming off the plane and walking through the airport, her legs didn't want to wake up; she felt as though, any moment, she might trip up and pitch forward, thoroughly embarrassing herself, and, if she was lucky, spraining something in the process.
She hummed a Leona Lewis song as she stood in the queue of some airport coffee shop; she tried hard to recall Gary's order, but his words had just seemed to slip her mind as soon as they'd stopped. What did he usually have?
The airport air was too still, making it hard for her to breathe; she waited for a gust of blustery air that wouldn't come. It was a fine day outside; perfectly wind still, probably. She felt trapped in a carpeted, coffee shopped cage. She concentrated on remembering Leona's words, on the melody of the song. She jiggled her shoe on the carpet in time to an imaginary song; her feet felt like murder on heels, but she ignored the pain.
The queue she'd attached herself to lost a person, then another: Won't be long, now, she told herself.
She jerked out of her thoughts; Leona's voice, like a tape recording, was cut off abruptly. A feeling of dread dropped down on her – that hadn't been Gary's voice, she didn't know the voice. A fan, maybe? Did she have a biro on her? With forced calm, she turned about to face the speaker.
For a moment, nothing happened. The man who'd spoken might have been anyone at all. Then, she felt a trickle of cold on the back of her neck, reminding her of the rain from that night. She'd been soaked through; he'd given her a ride to the nearest motel. He'd crept her the Hell out!
He did, still.
"Alan," she greeted brightly, digging the name from her memory with difficulty. She had a strong feeling it wouldn't have been polite to chime, Creep! God, that'd been what – one and a half years ago.
From her peripheral vision, Gary's face floated into her vision, approaching from the table he'd taken for them both. "Who's this?" he asked, concern heavy in his voice.
For a moment, she wondered if she'd just been imagining the menace she'd heard tingeing his voice, but, when she saw him regard the man, she knew she'd heard right.
"Alan," the man replied with an evident Irish accent.
Shannen held back her frown; had he had the same accent a moment ago, or one and a half years ago? In truth, they'd hardly spoken; in truth, she couldn't recall. That just left her name. Had he had the same accent when he'd spoken her name a couple of seconds ago? Come on, she encouraged her memory. How hard could it be; it was mere seconds ago!
"Are you okay with this guy?"
At Gary's question, she snapped back to the airport café. "Yeh," she answered, her delivery clipped. She'd been going for a yeah.
Gary shrugged. She watched him turn and walk away, back to their table.
"It isn't Alan, is it?" she said, looking into the man's blue eyes.
"Alex," he corrected, without the Irish accent.
She felt a chill run over her; she'd almost let herself be convinced. Oh, fuck! She warded off the thought that she found Irish accents adorable; puppy dogs were adorable, not lying bastards! Double fu- Nny bone! I don't think he's adorable! He's one creepy fuckin' weirdo! Just one more! "I never got around to asking the last time," she said in a voice that said that she was perfectly comfortable in his company, "but I did wonder. What is it that you do?"
She smiled, "Nothing? You're…"
"I'm on leave."
"Oh, I wish!" she moaned. She'd kill for a vacation right now! As if reading her thoughts, her little toe twinged painfully in agreement. She grinned wickedly, reaching over to place a hand on his arm, "Let's swap!"
He didn't jerk back from the contact, as she'd somehow envisioned, instead he smiled pleasantly and nodded, "I think that's you."
She turned and saw that the queue had cleared behind her; she was up. She moved forward to make her order, kicking herself for not asking Gary's confirmation on his order when he'd been hanging around.
The smile hadn't left her face – she was a fair actor, thank you – but, when she heard his voice close to her ear, she felt her blood run cold with fear. She went still.
"It wasn't JR, you know," he said, his tone of voice as pleasant as his smile had been, if not slightly amused.
She cursed herself for having been so stupid; she'd been the one to demolish that barrier first, she'd reached out, she'd touched his arm; and, now, undoubtedly, he'd gotten it into his head that that meant that they'd moved past the 'personal space' issue. So stupid! You've just got to act out the dumb bitch persona to a tee! God, get a grip! Fuck, get a life! A jealous cow calls you 'stupid and insensitive' and you've got to take it and run! You're really pathetic!
Paying the bill with her credit card, she moved away to wait for the order to come through and spun about. Across the café, there was Gary, waiting at the table, flipping through a colourful magazine with only a vague interest showing in his gaze. There was no sign of Alex. She had a bad feeling.
There was really no way she could think of that he'd know for sure that she was looking back into the Ursula Cox case; she was in no doubt that that was what he'd been referring to: JR for Ursula's older brother, JR Cox, and the likeliest suspect in her disappearance despite a lack of evidence and a seemingly watertight alibi.
She collected her order, a few sachets of sugar and two stirrers, and made her way over to the table where Gary sat, reading the gossip columns. The coffee was hot; she put it down quickly, passing one cup across the Gary.
She sat down. Suddenly, she didn't feel like coffee; she felt like asking Alex why he was so sure it hadn't been JR. The mediums they'd engaged for the last Ursula Cox special had all agreed; the girl was dead, she'd been murdered by her older brother. What was more, they'd all been Maryland natives; it wasn't as though they'd come from halfway across the world for nothing more than a 'slice of fame;' they'd lived through seeing photographs of Ursula on the television, they'd listened to her parents' impassioned pleas for justice, for closure; they'd been on the in from the get go. And now this guy – Alex, he'd said his name was – thought he knew better! Just who the Hell did he think he was?
She felt a stab of anger. Well, the next time she saw him, he'd sure as Hell better watch out! She didn't take rubbish – or intimidation tactics – from anyone! Not JR, or any of his pals – not anyone!