Title: Pale Dark

Author: Elliott (elliottsilver@hotmail.com)

Visit my Pretender fiction at Elliott’s Pretender Fiction.

Summary: Everything is never quite enough.



Part of her wanted to run to that voice, saturated in that blue tone, to hold it and in return, be held.

The other part held her back, almost against her will, saved her pride, and wondered if he had ever been able to separate pretending from living.

"Knowing," she breathed slowly, "is easy. Saying it out loud is the hard part."


As days went, he'd never had an ordinary one.

Perhaps because there was nothing ordinary about his quest, his life.

Each day was something new, something unexpected.

Something extraordinary.

He reached for the doorknob of their apartment, mentally drafting the contingencies of his latest pretend, his latest mission of justice.


He hadn't expected her to be there, but not quite sure why she shouldn't be.

Surprise, so evident in his voice, like suspicion.

Echoing, almost like guilt.

She was sitting on the edge of the black sofa, dressed in jeans and her leather jacket.


The perfect accessory, to his life. To complement him as well as compliment him.

Never detecting the red edges of her eyes, or the plum-bruised blue circles beneath them, or the lines that creased the corners of her mouth, the mouth he couldn't have said with any certainty the last time he had kissed.

"What's the matter?" he finally asked when she didn't answer and didn't move. He shucked off his coat and shuffled the treacherous stack of papers on the table.

"I'm leaving."
A minute of silence as her words sunk in and drown him, like cold oil, like quicksand.


She was waiting. For him.

Spider, to the fly.

Fox, to the bloodhound.

Snakecharmer, to the cobra.

She'd always had more courage than he could ever hope to have.


He took a seat opposite her, marveling at her composure and for the first time, realizing what a splendid pretender she was.

Better than him.

Always better than him.

"I'm leaving."

Her voice exactly the same, no change in emotion or tone or sound at the repetition both knew was needless.

He looked away from her steady gaze, ran an absent hand through his hair.

Comprehension, lost. Too harsh to regain.

"What are you saying?" he heard himself ask, wondering and not really wanting to know whether this abandonment was permanent.

Her flinch well-masked.

"I'm saying good-bye."

Paralyzed, shell-shocked into suspended animation.

"I can't do this anymore," she said, her explanation a surprise, a trigger to the catatonia she'd induced. "You never needed me. And you don't want me."

In her voice, he heard all the accusations she had repressed, an act of vengeance so unlike the woman he thought he had known, the woman who'd been by his side - free - for two years. He suddenly heard the silences they had left without words and the hurtful words they had wrought out of silence. He heard the nights he had left her alone and the nights he had shared with her without really being there. He heard the days he had abandoned her and the days he shut her out and for the first time wondered if there had been any days besides those.

"It's not true," he protested at last. "I do want you."

She shook her head, her dark hair now long swirling around her. A crescent of a bitter smile. "You want touch. That's all."

She made it sound so simple. So cold.

Each word like Chinese torture, keeping his eyes open when all he wanted was darkness to blot them, and everything else, out.

And realizing he had always known this day would come. From the very beginning.

Fated to be together.

Destined to be apart.

"The more I tried to fix things, the more they fall apart," he said softly, revelation in his voice at the difference between fixing the world and repairing himself, that they were not one and the same.

"Maybe you should let them fall."

Her voice, wise with the cure he could never swallow.

"I can't," he whispered and in her eyes saw that she already knew that.

"You have to."

Her answer all she could leave him with.

What had been extraordinary in his life was not his quest, but her.

"I love you."

Strength in his voice just at saying those words.

But she was silent.

"But that's not enough, is it?"

Darkly realizing the truth he had never wanted to see.

"I'm the past, your past. The one thing you don't want and can never have back." She breathed, a long swift breath of distance and time. "Let me go."

She stood slowly, very pointedly as if almost unsteady, her equilibrium skewed.

Then moved quietly to the door, a Parker he had never known, seemingly tranquilized, of all emotion.

Empty, and blank.


He moved without thinking, comprehending.

Perhaps for the first time, acting without pretending.

He pushed the door shut as she began to open it, the one door he couldn't let her close on him.

Lock behind her.

Because it would leave him alone, alone with the future.

"No," his voice ragged and deep. "Stay. Stay with me." He pulled air into his lungs. "Love me."

It was a prayer, and he was begging.

Her eyes pale dark.

"I can't," she said, pushing his fingers from the doorknob. "I won't."


It was his last resort.

"No, Jarod."

His name as an afterthought, and knowing at last how far it had gone to come to this.

She slipped through the door as she had through his fingers.


Part of her wanted to run to that voice, saturated in that blue tone, to hold it and in return, be held as she had always needed to be held by him.

But the time for that was past.

And it was too late to go back.

Everything was never quite enough.

It was the other part held her back, almost against her will, saved her pride, and wondered if he had ever been able to separate pretending from living.

"Knowing," she breathed slowly as she backed away from the life she had always wanted, "is easy. Saying it out loud is the hard part."



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Everything runs right on time,

Years of practice and design,

Spit and polish til it shines,

He thinks he'll keep her ...

Everything is so benign,

Safest place you'll ever find,

God forbid you change your mind,

He thinks he'll keep her ...

~ Mary Chapin Carpenter



Disclaimer: The characters of "The Pretender" are not mine; they rightfully belong to NBC, MTM, and Pretender Productions, as well as the actors and actresses who give paper and ink a life and a voice. I am making no profit from these writings; imitation is the highest form of flattery.