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All Standard Disclaimers apply. The characters from The Pretender do not belong to me. Yadda yadda yadda. ;)

Alone In The Night

By: BrightFeather

The world is spinning, swirling into a deep, dark abyss. Allof the light in my world has been blotted out, leaving darkness in its stead. I recognize this scenario and cringe in fear for what I know is coming next. I don't want to see it, I would give anything for it not to happen. I cover my face with hands, knowing the gesture is futile in the darkness, but instinctively trying to shield myself from the awful terror. I hold my hand in front of my face, but it might as well not be there. There is no light. I am alone.

The thick, black darkness presses close, suffocating me. Dreading what will come next, I scream in silence, for even sound is muffled. A small point of light appears and begins to expand, showing me images I dread to see. My best friend and I are walking down a dirty, litter-strewn sidewalk when we hear a loud noise. A gunshot! He falls, clutching at his chest while blood gushes from beneath his hands. A steely grasp yanks me from his side. They've hurt him! The faceless images have shot Jarod. They pull me towards a dark car and the cloying, smothering darkness closes in around me once again.

I wake up, a scream tearing from my throat. I push back my sweat soaked hair, bury my face in my hands, and start to cry. The man I have always called my father is dead. The one constant that remains is Jarod, my nemesis, my prey... my best friend. One day they will catch up to him and my dream will become a reality. The last time we spoke, I told him that nothing had changed. It's true--I cannot afford to let anything change between us.

Everyone I care for dies and I couldn't bear it if he did, too. He knows that he is my best friend, I'd like to think that I'm his. I dare not let him see how I really feel, there is much more than simple friendship for him in my heart. The almost kiss on the island was no accident--I would have given anything for it to have happened. Even now, I'd like him to come through my window and kiss me senseless. I can't, though. The risk is too great--I want to stay alive. I shiver and rub my hands up and down my arms to warm them. I wish he were here to drive the nightmare away. I keep dreaming it. One day it just might happen. The thought haunts me. In one moment, they can take away the one person I have left--the only person who really knows me and still gives a damn about what happens to me.

I dash the tears from my eyes and pull the blankets up around me. My phone rings, so I reach over and pick it up off my nightstand. "What?" I say, giving my usual response and hoping that my voice isn't trembling.

"Miss Parker," his familiar voice answers.

"Jarod," I say quietly, thankful to hear his voice.

"Are you okay?" he asks softly.

"I... I don't know," I answer. "I wish you were here," I murmur in spite of myself.

"I can be... give me five minutes," he answers and the line goes dead.

I hang up, wishing I hadn't said the scary words. Briefly, I consider calling the sweepers, but I don't want to. If I call them, the Centre will destroy him--it does that. The Centre has been part of my life for as long as it has been part of Jarod's... and it destroys people. Both of us are walking wounded and it is the Centre's fault. I push back the covers as Jarod enters my room. I didn't know he was close by, but right now I don't care. He opens his arms and I walk silently into them, welcoming the comfort of his embrace.

"The nightmare again?" he asks quietly.

I nod, listening to his voice as it rumbles in his chest.

His arms tighten around me, as if to protect me from the night demons that still lurk in the shadows of my mind. I haven't told him what the nightmare is about--to do that would be to admit to him how I feel and I can't do that. "Stay and hold me tonight?" I ask raggedly. "You can keep the nightmares away," I say, my breath catching in my throat.

"Yes," he answers simply, dropping a kiss into my hair. He leads me over to the bed and slips under the blankets before holding out his arms for me. We've been through this a few times before tonight and he told me that having me to hold on to keeps his bad dreams at bay too. I climb into bed and pull up the bedclothes before settling into his arms. I lay my head on his chest and listen to the steady thrumming of his heart.

In the warm, familiar comfort of his embrace, I am safe at last.