The pact by planet p

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

They'd followed Jarod to a hospital in Virginia on another of his numerous leads, and that was where, for the first time in a long time, he saw her again. She was sick; she was probably even dying; he didn't go in to see her or talk to her, seeing her from the corridor was enough.

He remembered that the first time he'd ever met her, it had been in Virginia, too. He didn't think, after her disappearance, that if she'd been alive, that she would have come back to Virginia, but apparently he'd been wrong. She'd grown up in Virginia, after all. He remembered that from Jimmy's letter.

They'd always planned to go away together, until Jimmy had changed his mind. The unfairness of it didn't matter anymore, it was all so long ago, but Lyle still wondered if it was because he'd just had enough, or because it had scared him that much when Raines had started to come and see him.

He'd always made a big thing out of being the elder, though it was by a few months only, really. It was up to him to work it all out; he was supposed to look out for Bobby, not the other way around.

When he'd found Jimmy's letter in his homework book (he'd never been much of a fan of math homework), he'd tried to tell himself it was a joke, but Jimmy hadn't really been the joking type, not since they'd started high school. Then he'd felt really, really mad. What kind of an idiot did something like that, and then, to make matters worse (so your best friend just decided to kill himself; you'll live, kiddo)… oh, and declare that it was actually something of a good thing (a stroke of luck) and here was the plan.

The plan, Bobby had wanted to shout at him, was that they were going to run away together! The plan wasn't Jimmy getting some disgustingly clever (but horribly, horribly morbid) spark of inspiration and deciding he'd just hang himself and then merrily proceed to outline to his friend in his neatest handwriting how it was a good thing… and, ah, slightly on the less-of-a-good-thing side, some decapitation would be called for, but that wouldn't be a problem, would it, farmer boy?

He wouldn't really be able to get back on his father for all of his shitty treatment over the years (other than that he was going to find himself sonless very soon, and he hoped his mother had the brains to leave the lunatic), but that was okay as long as Bobby did what he told him to because really he'd always hated Bobby's dad and getting him locked up was actually a much 'kinder' punishment than wasting him; killing him would be too easy.

And there was just one thing, and one thing only, minus the decapitation (etc.): he had a sister, a half sister, really, and now that he was gone, she was his sister, too.

'I don't want a sister!' Bobby had wanted to yell at him. 'I want my friend to stop playing stupid games! You know I was working on that doctor, I told you so.' Followed by, 'They'll never buy it that you're me, you loony! You're… you're not fucking me!' Of course, Jimmy had thought of that, too. He was good like that, Bobby reflected later, always thinking ahead. Crazy fucking weirdo!

Still, he'd been his crazy fucking weirdo! Had he told him to Shut the fuck up! when he'd asked about his father's gun? No. He'd told him that his father didn't have it anymore; he'd hated having to shoot his favourite dog when it had got too sick and was in too much pain for a good person to let it go on living, so he'd got rid of the gun before he decided to shoot someone else's dog just for the Hell of it, or his stupid kid who should've been taking better care of the dog.

So he'd lied, but it had been for a good reason. His father hadn't particularly liked shooting his favourite dog, but he hadn't hated it so much as to swear off guns for the rest of his life. Not that he'd dare say that to Jimmy, who, once when they'd gone off to a stadium with their school, had asked if you'd die if you leapt off the top or if you'd just be in a lot of pain, in which case it wasn't really worth it.

Her name was Che Ling, Jimmy had told him in the letter. She was his sister now. She lived in Virginia. That was all he knew about her. Maybe his dad had been in love with her mom, then his mom had had him and he'd fucked that up, maybe that was why his dad had been so shitty to him, but what the fuck, it didn't even matter anymore.

It mattered to Bobby. Jimmy had said, right back when they were nine year olds (and sitting in that awful doctor's clinic waiting for their appointment to come up and Bobby's mother to quit arguing with Jimmy's mom over the price of cough syrup (so embarrassing!)), that even when they did one day meet girls, they'd still always be best friends. 'But, shit no, I am not marrying someone like her!' Jimmy had told him vehemently. 'She can't cook, she can't use a washing machine – and when do you ever see a fucking smile on that woman's face?'

Just to prove him wrong, Lyle remembered, he'd got up and walked over to the two glaring women and told Jimmy's mom how much he'd liked her casserole at the school working bee – and she'd smiled.

His mother, however, had scowled and grabbed him by the arm and marched him away from Jimmy's mom to snap at him about chumming up to older women. He was nine, for God's sake! She wasn't having it! If he was having those sorts of ambitions already, she'd just have to get his father to set him straight!

She quickly added that Jimmy's mother was as poor as a church mouse, her husband was the one holding the money in that relationship, and they both knew what he did with it – which didn't mean she was giving him fucking permission to floozy up to him, thank you very much!

Bobby had just laughed, but his mother's look had been deadly serious.

When his mom had let go of his arm, finally, plastering a sickly sweet expression on her face that would have terrified even the most oblivious two year olds, Bobby returned to the seat he'd been sitting in before, beside Jimmy, and explained that his mother had 'slight, very slight' issues.

'Whose doesn't?' had come Jimmy's response, before he'd grabbed a magazine to ostensibly occupy himself with so no further conversation would come up.

He'd found Che Ling in Virginia, tutoring at university. She was smart, a lot like Jimmy, and he'd worried that maybe she would turn out to be suicidal, too, but, surprisingly, she'd actually liked the fact that she was alive and very much wanted to go on living.

Thank goodness for that, he'd thought.

She had tutored Sue and Cindy, he remembered; she'd actually liked the two girls, they'd been making fast friends. Unfortunately, that had come to an end when they'd wound up dead.

He hadn't really been all that keen on telling the police that he had some things to tell them that might help their investigations – they weren't even his things, they were Che Ling's – but it was what Jimmy would have done: Some lunatic is getting around doing in Asian girls – you are seriously not putting my sister in the line of fire by forcing her to tell the police that there's something she knows that might help! She has to do this! They were friends! But I don't want her to. So think of something, get it out of her what she knows and tell her that it'll be safer if it were you who said you'd seen whatever, or heard whatever or suspected whatever.

And, really, if Che Ling ended up dead, too, and there was something he could have done to prevent it, he'd thought, then he'd just feel like he was the worst person ever. First his best friend, then his best friend's half sister.

It was too much!

She was a nice girl, she actually smiled (just not when two of her friends had recently been discovered dead); he'd decided that he was going to be her friend. He'd been the shittiest friend to Jimmy, and he'd really done so well at being a friend to his mom (or even his dad), so he was going to be her friend.

He needed a friend, after all. (Jimmy wasn't available anymore.)

It hadn't been such a good idea, he reflected, then, letting her find out about Jimmy – and it had been even less of a good idea telling her about Jimmy. Pretty much, she'd decided that he'd killed her brother and, what was more, he'd gotten away with it. (But that was years later.)

Maybe she'd even rang the police and told them that he was going to kill her to get back at him for killing her brother; maybe he would have done the same thing.

It wasn't like it mattered, he reflected.

He stood outside, trying to think of something that wasn't just sick people, sick people and more sick people. Good luck, he thought sarcastically. You're standing in a hospital car park. What else is there to think about?

He might have come back with, Jarod. They were, after all, there to catch Jarod.

Instead, he thought, Nurses.

"Are you okay?" Willie's voice startled him out of his thoughts. The Sweeper had suddenly come out of a door somewhere and was standing next to him, looking at him as though he wasn't okay.

'Get lost!' he wanted to say, but only said, "I'm fine."

If Willie believed him or not, he didn't actually care. He'd just remembered that Che Ling had wanted to be a doctor. (When they were eleven, Jimmy had wanted to be just that, too.) And I wanted to be what? he thought, but he'd never really thought about things like that as a kid. He supposed he'd just wanted to be a kid.

Nodding toward the door, he started off in the direction of the hospital again, Willie following after him. They had to find Jarod, after all.

Think about something else, he told himself silently. You've still got Miss Parker; she's alright. Kinda. You've still got Ethan. What have you got to complain about? It was lucky, then, that he just spotted his sister with an angry look on her face, because he didn't have to formulate a response to that. Instead, he smiled.