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A New Pretender
Part 3: The Final Say

Jarod's lair
Jarod is sitting in the same position that he was at the end of the last story. However, Katrina does not appear to be around as far as we can see.

Jarod: [aloud] I don't know if you can hear me or not, but I really want you to know this. I never had the nerve to tell you this but you were right. About everything. I did blame you for going - for 'leaving me alone'. I can appreciate that you didn't do it deliberately but, until I talked properly to Syd, I couldn't understand that. I...[a tear slides down his cheek] I do love you. I think you know that. But, now, I understand that why you couldn't do that...

Katrina: [appearing suddenly on the couch, although Jarod cannot see her and we then understand that we have been seeing the room from Jarod's perspective] I know, Jarod...I know. [she then disappears]

Miss Parker's office, the next morning
Miss Parker enters her office and sits down in her chair, careful not to let it slide across the room. She opens the first drawer in her desk and prepares to slam it shut again, but she stops. We see her pick something out of the drawer and flip through it. She drops it on the floor and races out of the room. We hear her calling for Broots as she runs down the corridor. We focus in on the book and see that it is a purple notebook with "M. Parker" written in a childish hand on the front cover. Out of the shadows Katrina appears and, scooping up the book, makes a hasty retreat, although we can see that she is still in the room.

Miss Parker and Broots come into the room, Miss Parker with her gun drawn and looking closely around. Her first action is to go around and collect the notebook. She is stunned when it is not there to be collected. As Miss Parker questions Broots as to its possible location, we see Katrina standing with her arms folded and the purple notebook dangling from her fingers, a grim smile on her face.

Intro Music

Sydney's office
Miss Parker: [worriedly] Syd, I'm telling you, that book was there. It had my name on it, in my handwriting...

Sydney: [firmly] Parker, there is no possible was for that book to have disappeared. It must be still there - if you actually saw it...

Miss Parker: I saw it, touched it...

Sydney: [with a wry smile] Tasted it, smelled it and heard it too, I suppose?

Miss Parker: [angrily] It's not funny!

Sydney: [thoughtfully] Maybe Angelo took it. He likes hoarding things.

Miss Parker: [looking relieved at such a simple solution as she leaves] Maybe he did...

Sydney: [to himself] And maybe he didn't...[aloud] Jarod, I wish I knew what you were playing at...

Jarod: [emerging from a corner under the window] I know nothing about this!

Sydney: [who is visibly shaken at the sound of his voice] I didn't know you were there! I was only talking to myself! You should warn me before you do that!

Jarod: So, who do you suppose is responsible?

Sydney: The only possibility is Angelo...

Hearing voices, Jarod withdraws into the shadows. Miss Parker appears, dragging Angelo after her. Broots trails behind. As the sun comes out from behind a cloud, the light falls on a previously dark corner of the room. The purple notebook is on the floor and we can see that it is at Katrina's feet. Angelo ambles over and picks it up.

Angelo: [picking up vibes from the book] I decide who lives or dies...I decide...[we see Katrina shaking her head in frustration as Sydney, Broots and Miss Parker look at each other in amazement]

Miss Parker, Sydney and Broots: [simultaneously] Kyle?!?!

Angelo: [murmuring] Big brother...big brother...[Katrina looks relieved]

Sydney: [turning pale] Oh my God! Katrina!

Miss Parker and Broots look at Sydney in amazement. Suddenly Miss Parker dives forward and snatches the notebook from Angelo. She flips through it and then tosses it aside.

Miss Parker: [relieved] It's more of Jarod's experiments!

Sydney: [abruptly] We never used books of that color!

Miss Parker is sitting on the couch, staring out of the window. Broots is sitting on a chair with his head in his hands and Sydney is looking at the photo on his desk. Katrina steps forward - still invisible to everyone in the room - and silently flips the pages of the book, which is lying on the floor, until the last page is showing. Then she moves across the room to where Jarod is hiding and silently opens the vent for him. He draws back momentarily before hoisting himself into it and disappears. Katrina reaches into the vent and draws out a package, which, being slightly open, reveal themselves as a pile of video cassettes. She then eases the vent door shut and stands in the corner, leaning against the wall with her arms folded.

Miss Parker: [walking slowly over and picking up the notebook, reading aloud] "The Parker subject..." "Parker subject"? Me...or Lyle?

Sydney: [rising and reading over her shoulder] "The Parker subject will be required to undergo several sessions of re-education so that she can learn about the 'real' events of the past few months." She? Well, it's certainly not Lyle! It has to be you!

Miss Parker: But, I was never a subject! I was only here because of my parents! I never did SIMs! Ever! My father would never have allowed me to be submitted to it!!

Broots: [reading over Miss Parker's other shoulder] "Of necessity, she must gradually be introduced to the world outside the Centre...It may be possible for her to renew her communications..." Well, if it wasn't you then whoever it was is very like you - must even have been here at the same time! There must be some records, somewhere. After all, there's proof of all the others so there must be something about you...[catching Miss Parker's eye]...her!

Sydney: Broots, go and make a complete search, now. We have to find out about this!

Broots leaves and, as Sydney and Miss Parker examine the notebook, we see Katrina move across to the video monitor in the room and put in the first of the cassettes. She starts up both it and the monitor. Sydney and Miss Parker spin around in shock as the first sounds emanate from the monitor.

On the screen, which, in a similar layout to those in Jarod's possession, shows a date and the message "For Centre Use Only", we see a young Miss Parker, sitting at a table, with a series of blocks in front of her. A man, with his back to the camera, is leaning over the desk and gives her a series of instructions. He then spins on his heel and walks out. As we view his face, we see that he is William Raines. The young Miss Parker stares blankly at the blocks for a moment before burying her face in her hands. For several minutes we see her cry and we can see the adult Miss Parker's face work with emotion as she looks at the younger version of herself. Sydney, too, is emotionally affected but we see his face change as the young Miss Parker on the screen straightens herself up and begins to build a house from the blocks. However she only has a few minutes for this before Raines returns and, slamming his fists on the table, obviously in a rage, destroys the fragile structure. As both Miss Parker's sob, the video is suddenly terminated by an unseen hand. In the silence, Miss Parker's gasps are painfully audible. Katrina is once more visible, standing next to the machine with the next tape in her hand. Her grim expression has now been replaced by a softer one. As Sydney comforts Miss Parker, Katrina changes the tapes and plays the one in her hand, which is unlike the others. The scene is as follows.

A black screen changes to a series of words: "Life of a Pretender". A figure appears, sitting at a desk similar to Sydney's. As the camera zooms in, we can see that it is Katrina.

Katrina: [firmly] Miss Parker. [the adult Miss Parker spins around in shock, as does Sydney] You will, by now, have viewed several hours of what, I must assure you, is genuine footage. Unfortunately those who could have proved the truth of this footage are now deceased. They are Mr William Raines and Mr Bobby Bowman, a.k.a. Mr Lyle. I must clarify a possible confusion here. Lyle is, after all, the same age as you, however his associations with the Centre and, above all, his close connection with Raines, means that the two of them have attempted, on several occasions to make use of the SIMs which you have not successfully completed. Mr Parker and your father, indeed, knew nothing of these experiments and your mother only became aware of them during the last hours of her life. No proof of your participation in the Pretender program exists outside theses tapes and the purple notebooks which were hidden together with these tapes. Searching in any way for such information would be futile. Raines knew the Centre computer system too well to allow for anything of this sort to be accessible. [Sydney has seated Miss Parker in a chair by this time and is standing behind her. Both stare, open-mouthed, at the screen] During my time at the Centre I was taken into the confidence of not only Mr Raines but also Tower executives and learnt a great deal about the workings of the Centre. I can only assure you that Mr Parker knew nothing about any of the activities in which you participated, believing that you were in the child-care centre in the next block. His daily routine was to bring you with him every morning and hand you over to Raines' henchman. It was his belief that you spent all day there, however they have no record of your existence. None of the "children" you believed were friends of yours at that time actually lived to see their first birthday, all dying of natural causes, and their names were used to convince you of an alternate life. Should you have searched for the names of these children, record of their birth exists but death records have all been completely destroyed. Many of those children were also products of NuGenesis.

Miss Parker, there is no reason for you to reproach Jarod, Sydney, Broots or any others who have been friendly to you for what has occurred. Through close questioning, I have been able to ascertain that neither Sydney nor any of the others knew nothing of what took place. Within the package containing the video cassettes I have enclosed all paperwork necessary to prove these facts to you. I know that you, Jarod, and many others associated with the Centre have all learnt that everything you were told was a lie, however I hope that you will realise that I was never really associated with the Centre and always had an alternative reason for my connection with it. I am not imbued with the common usage of deceit that was habit with those now deceased. I lack the courage to tell you this to your face, particularly because with such a medium as this, you are not able to interrupt. Equally, I was nervous of the possibility of you exposing me for what I am - one of those you seek - a Pretender.

The voice finishes speaking and, almost immediately, the screen fades to black and there is a subdued hum as the tape rewinds itself. Miss Parker sits in the chair where Sydney had placed her, her face pale with shock. She turns to Sydney but her eyes are distracted by a parcel that lies on his desk. Leaping at it, she tears off the brown paper wrapping, disclosing about a dozen videocassettes as well as several sheets of paper. She snatches up the first and reads it aloud.

Miss Parker: "Mmm Parker, Mother: Catherine Jameson, Father: Ben Miller - " [softly] So Jarod was right. Mr Parker [spitting the word] never was my father.

Miss Parker moves to a chair and slowly sinks into it. Sydney remains at the side of the desk. Slowly he extends his hand towards the machine and removes the cassette. We see him mouth the words "Thank you". He places the cassette on top of the existing pile before taking up the original purple notebook and glancing through it.

Sydney: What now?

Miss Parker: [coming out of her reverie] What do you mean "What now"?

Sydney: What are you waiting for? You made the comment after your fa...Mr Parker died that you only needed to know about your mother and you "wouldn't be seen for the dust". What are you waiting for now? [indicating] There's the door...

Miss Parker: I can't leave yet. There's still Jarod...

Sydney: Why are you worrying about him? You know he had nothing to do with anything, and there's your proof. [indicating the papers which Miss Parker has laid on his desk again]

Miss Parker: I have to keep up my end of the deal...

Sydney: Which deal? The one you made with the person who isn't your father and who never told you anything that wasn't a lie? That deal? To be honest, I think you've more than fulfilled your part of the bargain, Parker.

Miss Parker: [as she rises and walks distractedly towards the door, in muted tones] I have to finish the job my mother started...

Sydney: [as he turns away] For goodness sake...

Sydney's house, that evening
Sydney is talking to Jarod on the phone. As the conversation progresses, a split screen shows us the two men in their separate places. Sydney is sitting alone on a love seat on the porch of his house, looking at the stars. Jarod is sitting in front of his computer standing on a table near his bed.

Sydney: She's not leaving.

Jarod: [angrily] Why in God's name not? She's got all the answers she wants or needs! Why can't I have the chance of a normal life now that she knows what hers was like?

Sydney: [quietly] I think that's probably why...

Jarod: What do you mean?

Sydney: [softly] I mean that she probably wants to find out why she was exposed to those situations! You know, she never went into Raines' office after his death and it wasn't out of respect! She's using this idea of misguided loyalty to her mother's husband and using the memory of her mother to protect herself from the idea that she had a role similar to yours.

Jarod: [abruptly] How do you know all this?

Sydney: [reminiscently] Actually, it was something Katrina told me. Of course, she knew all this by the time she was talking to me about it but she made a lot of sense, even without me having the 'inside story', as such.

Jarod: [sadly] She always did make a lot of sense! Is it still all right for me to miss her Sydney? Is that okay?

Sydney: [gently] Jarod, I very much doubt if you will ever stop missing her and there's no harm in that. I miss her too.

Jarod: [abruptly changing the subject] So, what did she say to you about Miss Parker?

Sydney: She said that Miss Parker would never stop resenting you for having done what she couldn't and didn't do. She said that Miss Parker had suppressed those feelings so much that, even when she had the opportunity to leave, she probably wouldn't take it. She would have to make sure first that you have the opportunity to feel what she has been feeling for so long. Katrina also said that Miss Parker would never fully understand what you had gone through unless she could go through it as well. She also talked about the possibility that Miss Parker was jealous of what she would perceive as 'games' that you were always playing...

Jarod: [with a snort] Some games!

Sydney: [quietly] But that's what someone her age would have seen them as. As far as any of us, including herself, knew, she had never had the experience of what you went through. Of course, she could never be involved to the level that you or any of the others were. Raines' notes show us that!

Jarod: [after a pause] I met Miss Parker for the first time when I was ten years old. How long had she been at the Centre?

Sydney: [slowly] Longer than you. She must have been in and around the Centre her whole life. She's only three months younger than you, you know. According to the notebooks, she began doing experiments at about the same time you did.

Jarod: [firmly] Even so, she was lots luckier than any of the rest of us!

Sydney: [quietly] I don't know that I would consider exposure to the kinds of things she has lived through as something to be envious of!

Jarod: [slowly] I'm not jealous of her, but she wasn't a prisoner...

Sydney: Maybe not in the same way, but I believe that she was as much a prisoner as you were. And, in some ways, you're luckier than she is. At least you have a life now!

Jarod: [quietly] Is this a life?

Sydney: [counting off points on his fingers] Miss Parker has never experienced love, she never had any real friends and she is certainly a lot less free that you are, particularly in where she goes!

Jarod: [hesitatingly] Maybe...

Sydney: [firmly] If I had the choice, I'd rather be you!

Jarod: [softly] If I had the choice I wouldn't be either of us! [he hangs up]

Sydney: [into the phone] If wishes were horses, beggars would ride! [he hangs up]

Jarod's lair, the next day
The sun is slanting in through the window and across the bed, where Jarod lies, asleep. We see Kyle and Katrina sitting respectively on the couch and in the basket chair, as they had been previously.

Kyle: What now?

Katrina: [slowly] I suppose you're talking about the people here...?

Kyle: Who else would I be talking about?

Katrina: [ignoring what she rightly perceives to be a rhetorical question] I don't know that they really need to know anything else! [laughing] I have to leave them something else to find out about!

Kyle: [slowly] You...mean...there's more?

Katrina: [patiently] Kyle, with a place like the Centre, there's always more to find out! After all, it's been around for so long...

Kyle: [brutally] So now you're just going to disappear?

Katrina: [surprised] Hey, at least I did what I could! Other people I could mention have done nothing for those left behind!

Kyle: [grinning] That meant for me? What could I have done?

Katrina: [seriously] Got me in contact with Jarod and Sydney earlier, for a start!

Kyle: Well, I suppose it's time to go...[he stands up and stretched himself]

Katrina: [standing also] Wait, just a sec.

Katrina walks over to the bed and leans over it. As she does so, we see Jarod's eyes fly open and he rapidly sits up, bumping his head on her chin as he does so. However he does not seem to register that it should have hurt.

Jarod: [jumping up] Wait!

Katrina: [smiling] What for?

Jarod: [collapsing into a chair which is standing beside the bed] Why do you have to leave?

Katrina: [softly] You no longer need me - us.

Jarod: Like you said, Kyle hasn't done much!

Kyle: [grinning, to Katrina] I never had anything like the influence over him that you did!

Jarod: Why was that anyway?

Kyle: Oh, I was never much use to anyone! I never made that much difference, anyway!

Jarod: So you said to Lyle just before he shot you, but I never believed it!

Katrina: [firmly] Neither did I! We've all made a difference in our own way. But Jarod [turning to him and taking his hands in hers] if we stayed then your influence wouldn't be as great. You need to be just as independent as you ever were and hanging onto the coat-tails of someone in my position is not at all helpful! Anyway, we have to go!

Jarod: [curiously] Why can I see you now when I couldn't do so before?

Katrina: [laughing] Does your head hurt?

Jarod: [wonderingly] What does that have to do with anything?

Katrina: [smiling] If you were actually living this, you would have a very sore head right now!

Kyle: [impatiently] Katrina, we have to go! [facing Jarod, giving him a half-salute] See you later big brother! [he fades away]

Katrina: Ok, I'll be there in one second! [turning to Jarod and kneeling in front of him] Jarod, this conversation will appear as a dream to you. But what I want you to know and always remember is that, although I am not physically with you, I am always inside you! I love you from the bottom of my heart and I am more yours now than when I was alive. Your conversations with Sydney have shown me that you will gradually overcome the events of the past few months and continue to live as you have done before. [the light in the windows have become stronger] Jarod, I have to go but I will be waiting for you when you come to me again! [her voice begins to fade] Jarod - I love you! [she disappears]

Jarod's lair
Jarod is again lying on his bed and his eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. He puts up his hand and rubs the top of his head absent-mindedly with one hand. Suddenly Jarod sits bolt upright and stares across at the couch. His eyes slowly fill with tears as he recalls the conversation and he slowly stretches out his hand for the phone.

Sydney is sitting at his desk at home, looking through the purple notebooks. Suddenly his phone rings.

Sydney: This is Sydney.

Jarod: [sadly] She's gone.

Sydney: [whose mind is still on Miss Parker] Who? Miss Parker?

Jarod: [impatiently] No! Katrina...

Sydney: [patiently and gently] Jarod, she has been gone for weeks. Haven't you realized that?

Jarod: Syd, for God's sake, I know that! I mean that she has gone - moved on! She said it's up to us to find out things now!

Sydney: What do you...

Jarod: I mean that she has really been here helping us, up till now!

Sydney: [stuttering slightly] But Jarod, you said yourself that you had dreamt the conversations you thought she had with Kyle in front of you! There's no physical way she could have been here!

Jarod: [patiently] Syd, you told me about the thing with the videos yourself. How was it possible for that video to start exactly then, particularly considering you told me yourself that you had never seen it before!

Sydney: [firmly] Angelo! And a remote control!

Jarod: [slightly crestfallen] Well, maybe...

Sydney: [patiently] Jarod, in my profession there's no room to believe in the supernatural! I have to concentrate on facts and physical evidence, not some dream that you want to believe actually occurred!

Jarod: [sadly] You never did have any imagination...[he hangs up]

Jarod's new profession - an undertaker.
Jarod enters the door of the building and rapidly walks down the hallway. As he passes the doorway leading to the office of his new boss, a voice hails him.

Peter: Jarod? Could you come in here? There's someone I want you to meet.

Jarod: [as he enters the room] Good morning Mr Steele. How are you?

Peter: Very well thanks. Jarod, I'd like you to meet Louise Parkinson. She has just been transferred here from one of our other offices. She will be working with you for a few months. [Louise has until now been standing at the window with sun behind her. As she moves forward to shake hands, Jarod catches his breath. He instantly recognizes the flowing brown hair and the laughing brown eyes] Why don't you two go and get to know each other?

The two walk slowly down the hall towards Jarod's office. Neither have spoken. Jarod looks mystified and Louise's eyes sparkle with mischief. Jarod opens the door and they both enter. Louise takes a seat in front of the desk and Jarod, after closing the door, walks around the desk and sits behind it.

Louise: [before Jarod could speak, still with suppressed mischief in her eyes] You know, you're taller than she said you were. But maybe that's the suit.

Jarod: [confused] Is that your real name?

Louise: [laughing] Do you mean am I actually called Katrina? [serious] No, Jarod. I'm sorry but I'm not her. However she did tell me all about you just before she died.

Jarod: [hesitatingly] Why didn't she tell me about you?

Louise: There seemed such a slight chance that we would meet. We discussed it but decided that, on the off chance that we should ever end up working together, this could be a pleasant surprise for you. She told me a lot about you.

Jarod: Can I trust you?

Louise: Could you trust her? If I didn't betray her then why would I betray you?

Jarod: True. [There is a moment of silence then Louise stands up]

Louise: [brightly] Well, I believe we have work to do. Can you show me to my office?

Jarod: Sure. [they both exit the room]

Sydney's office, the next day
Miss Parker is sitting in Sydney's desk chair and Sydney is pacing around the room. They are discussing Jarod's last phone call. Miss Parker is of the opinion that Jarod has lost his mind due to the pressure he is under, Sydney is less sure. Suddenly Sydney's phone rings. Miss Parker answers it.

Miss Parker: [sharply] What?

Jarod: Sorry, did I ring the wrong number?

Miss Parker: No, Jarod. Actually we were just talking about you.

Jarod: [brightly] Really? My ears weren't burning!

Miss Parker: [not understanding; suspiciously] What have your ears got to do with anything?

Jarod: [lightly] Oh, haven't you heard that saying? Louise here taught it to me. When someone is talking about you, your ears are supposed to burn!

Miss Parker: [impatiently] What are you talking about?

Jarod: Never mind! I hope you weren't saying anything bad about me...?

Miss Parker: [mockingly] Well, if being of the opinion that you are going insane is bad then...

Jarod: Oh, never mind. Miss Parker, do you believe in reincarnation?

Miss Parker: [shocked] You are insane!

Jarod: Actually, I was trying to ask a serious question!

Miss Parker: Interested in my religion, now?

Jarod: [slightly frustrated] Just answer the question!

Miss Parker: [harshly] No! Now are you satisfied?

Jarod: Ask Sydney.

Miss Parker: [with a sigh, to Sydney] Do you believe in reincarnation?

Sydney: [taking the phone] Jarod, why are you asking these questions?

Jarod: [impatiently] Just answer!

Sydney: [slowly] Well, I never really thought about it, but probably not. As I said before - I believe in facts and figures and...

Jarod: [finishing for him] And physical evidence, not dreams! I still say you have no imagination! [he hangs up]

Sydney: [to Miss Parker, with the phone still in his hand] What was all that about?

Jarod's office, a couple of weeks later
Jarod, having successfully completed his Pretend at the mortuary, is packing his things and preparing to leave when Mr Steele calls him in. With a sigh, Jarod walks down the hall to the office.

Peter: Jarod, sorry to disturb you but have you seen Louise today? She hasn't turned up for work and that's not like her!

Jarod: No, sir. Sorry but I haven't spoken to her since yesterday.

Peter: She must be at home, sick or something. Never mind. Look, I have to go and see a client and Mary Brown has gone home. Can you take charge for a few hours? The security staff are floating around, but no-one else is available.

Jarod: No problem.

The hall of the mortuary, two hours later
Jarod is standing at the open doorway which leads to the fire escape. The haliburton case stands on the floor next to him. He is humming while he looks over the city. Suddenly a noise behind him makes his spin around.

Miss Parker: [with her gun drawn and aimed at him] Well Jarod, here we are again! And this time there's no girl to protect you.

As she moves forward and slightly sideways, we can see that Louise is being held by several sweepers. She doesn't struggle but looks directly ahead at Miss Parker. There is a look of peace on her face which changes to frustration as Jarod continues to stand in the doorway.

Louise: [shouting, with urgency] Jarod, go! I'll be fine, just get out of here now!

Jarod takes one more, doubtful look but grabs the case and starts down stairs. Miss Parker moves forward but, before she can fire, Louise throws herself forward and knocks the gun away with her shoulder. As Louise is lying on the ground Miss Parker turns and fires at her. Louise throws her legs up just in time to be shot in the leg and not the stomach. Jarod stands, uncertain, on the steps but Louise faces him and mouths the word "Go". With a final look, he bolts down the staircase. Miss Parker, having turned her attention from Louise, finally realizes that he is gone.

Miss Parker: [rushing to the doorway] Didn't any of you fools see where he went?

Willie: We were all watching you, Miss Parker.

Miss Parker: [when she realizes the fire escape is empty] All right, let's go.

Willie: [Louise is lying on the floor, with her eyes closed. Blood from her leg is now on the chest of her t-shirt and it looks like the bullet went straight through] What about the girl?

Miss Parker: Leave her. She can think about her actions while lying here and bleeding. This is a mortuary, they're used to death!

Miss Parker and the sweepers exit the building. Louise is left lying on the floor.

At a car-producing factory, several weeks later.
Jarod is acting foreman at the factory for a few weeks while the real foreman is ill. On his second day at work he is walking among the workers while discussing her future with his second-in-command.

Jarod: So, tomorrow you're off for two weeks? Sounds like a great holiday.

Heather: [smiling slightly] Well, actually a second honeymoon...

Jarod: [puzzled] What happened to the first one?

Jarod's office, an hour later
Jarod is sitting at his desk, filling out some paperwork. His secretary buzzes him in the intercom.

Secretary: Sir, Heather has brought her temporary fill-in to meet you

Jarod: Show them in.

Jarod's door swings open and Heather comes in, with someone behind her.

Heather: Sorry, sir. I can't stay. I just wanted to bring my temp in to meet you. This is Louise Appleton. [she moves to one side and we can see that it is Louise from the mortuary] Excuse me, sir [she leaves the room]

Jarod: [who hasn't really noticed who it is] Please, sit down.

Louise pulls up and chair and waits for Jarod to recognize her. This happens quickly.

Jarod: [in amazement] Can I have some sort of explanation for what is going on?

Louise: [smiling slightly] No-one dies from a bullet wound to the leg, not with modern medicine.

Jarod: [curiously] What are you doing here now?

Louise: [laughing] I could ask you the same question!

Jarod: [frustrated] You know all about me, but what about you? What are you?

Louise: That's a strange thing for a person like you to ask!

Jarod: [amazed] You're a Pretender...?

Louise: [smiling[ Only part time. I try to hold down a full-time job but Katrina asked me to get in touch with you, so I did!

Jarod: [concerned] But, how did you get away from Miss Parker and her mob?

Louise: After she shot me, I feigned unconsciousness. No-one wants to be seen carrying a body out of a mortuary and so I figured they would leave me there. And I was right! So I waited until Mr Steele returned and then told him that people had come in and started shooting. Also that you had chased them away and hadn't come back. Voila, end of story!

Jarod: But, really, who are you?

Louise: I was one of the children on the original Pretender program. I was in Jacob's care and, one night, he and Miss Parker's mother had me spirited out of the Centre. I wasn't being particularly helpful as far as the simulations went and, instead of telling Raines, Jacob set me free. I suppose he told Raines I'd died or something. Anyway, they've never really pursued me until recently and, anyway, they were trying to get you, not me...

The Centre, several months later
Miss Parker is pacing the roof, smoking one of her cigarettes. Sydney comes out onto the roof.

Sydney: [politely] I'm glad to see you took the WorkCare warning so seriously. I would hate to think that everyone in the building has to die of passive smoking because of you.

Miss Parker: [blowing smoke in his face] Oh, shut up Syd!

Sydney: [coughing gently] Any more news about Jarod?

Miss Parker: [annoyed] No!

Sydney: [with polite interest] Do you think we're any closer to catching him?

Miss Parker: [icily] Syd, you know damn well that whenever we're within grasping range, that bitch comes and spoils everything! She's got more lives than a cat! I must have shot her at least ten times!

Sydney: [grinning] Maybe she's related to Lyle...and you! You can see the similarities!

Jarod's latest lair, a month later
Jarod is sitting at his computer. He picks up a red notebook and glances through it before tossing it back onto the bed with a decided nod. He turns back to the computer but, before he can start typing, he is distracted by thoughts of Louise. He realizes that he doesn't have the feelings for her that he had for Katrina, but he is beginning to depend on her for help and to get him out of difficult situations. He recalls all of the times in the recent months that she had come to his rescue, often only to be injured herself! Of course, the situations didn't only include altercations with Centre personnel, but also those involved in the various Pretends he had enacted. He smiled as he began various searches involved with his current situation. It had always amazed him that she could appear whenever he needed her and also that she could turn up, perfectly all right, immediately afterwards in a new situation. However he had begun to gradually recognize the differences between the two women who meant so much to him. He was often shocked by the childishness Louise often displayed, as well as the games she delighted in. Of the two, he still felt closer to Katrina, but the sting of her death was less painful now than it had been and he had begun to feel that he could get on with his life again, properly.

Jarod moves over to his bed and sits on the edge. He picks up the wedding photo which, somehow, still exists. After looking at it again, he replaces it on the bedside table and lies on his back on the bed. With a sigh he closes his eyes and drifts into the memories.

When somebody begins calling his name, Jarod moves his head uneasily on the pillow. He groans as he feels pain begin throbbing in his head and he can see light on the other side of his closed eyelids. Again he hears a voice insistently calling his name.

Katrina: [quietly] Jarod? [more insistently] Jarod, come on. Time to wake up now. [she shakes him gently] Come on Jarod, open you eyes.

Jarod opens his eyes and, in the dim light, struggles to recognize a familiar face. He tries to sit up but a hand restrains him and he sinks back onto the pillows.

Jarod: Katrina? [he licks his dry lips] What are you doing here? You're supposed to be...[his voice breaks and Katrina holds a glass of water to his lips; he drinks as she supports his head with her hand, in a stronger voice] What's going on? What am I doing here?

Katrina: [gently] Jarod, it's okay. You were having a little adventure, that's all, and got a bit carried away. [she rises from the bed and takes the glass to be refilled]

Sydney: [laughing] And then she saved your life...

Jarod struggles to turn his head, despite the pain that shoots through him, and he sees Sydney standing in the doorway of his room, smiling at him. In instant panic, he strives to get up and flee but is unable to move, except to lift his head and shoulders off the bed. Katrina returns to the bedside and, putting a glass on the table, prevents him from getting up.

Jarod: [in confusion] But, what's going on? I should be far away from here![he realizes the impossibility of what he is about to say and stops himself] What happened?

Sydney: You got a little involved with Miss Parker, that's all.

Jarod: [startled] Miss Parker? She's here? [in panic he again struggles to rise and, as Katrina has briefly left the room again, it is up to Sydney to prevent him from moving] Why are you doing this? Am I back at the Centre?

Sydney: [firmly], you're not. This is Katrina's house, in Australia, and I'm the only Centre personnel within an eighteen hour plane journey. [smiling] So, for heaven's sake stop struggling or Katrina will give you more of that potent medication you've been enjoying for the past few weeks!

Jarod: [in amazement] What do you mean?

Sydney: [shocked] You don't remember?

Jarod: [drily] Humor me.

Jarod's room, the next day
Jarod is asleep on the bed when Katrina walks in and begins to open the curtains

Katrina: [brightly] Good morning sleepy-head! Time to rise and shine!

Jarod: [yawning and sleepily rolling over] What time is it?

Katrina: Twenty past ten! More than time for you to be getting up! You aren't actually sick any more, you know! And I won't treat you as though you are. The shower is through there [pointing through a half-open doorway] and there are clean towels on the rail. Breakfast in half an hour!

She leaves the room and Jarod gradually pulls himself out of bed. He moves towards the window and looks out. It is not the landscape he remembers from his last lair in the US but a view of a pool in a back garden remembers well. With a sigh of relief he moves towards the shower.

Katrina's kitchen
Sydney and Katrina are sitting at the table, with a sumptuous breakfast spread out around them. Sydney is looking through the paper.

Sydney: [folding the newspaper with a luxurious sigh] It's lucky you got rid of them now!

Katrina: [quietly] You've forgotten something really important...

Sydney: [quickly] What's that?

Katrina: [sitting back in her chair] Just the date their Visas expired. Those dates are actually pretty easy to change - if you know the right people!

Sydney: [suspiciously] What about mine?

Katrina: [laughing] You have an Australian niece. You figure it out. [as Jarod walks through the door] Hello again. You look better than you did yesterday. In fact, you look almost human again!

Sydney: [concerned] How do you feel?

Jarod: [brightly] Fantastic! Like I've been asleep for weeks [Sydney and Katrina exchange amused glances] and I'm back firing on all cylinders again. [Katrina looks relieved as she begins to serve out breakfast for herself]

Sydney: [catching Katrina's glace] Is that good?

Katrina: [brusquely, as she begins to eat] Better than I could have hoped for!

Jarod: [suspiciously] What are you talking about?

Katrina: [lightly] Just that you need to be kept under fairly close medical attention for the next few weeks to make sure that no permanent damage was caused...[as Jarod is still standing] You can sit down. It's as cheap as standing. You can also eat if you want. My prices aren't too exorbitant! Ask Syd. He's been living off me for the last...little while.

Sydney: [as he begins to eat; to Jarod who pulls out a chair and sits down] She's a great cook!

Jarod: [with a full plate but before he starts eating] Right! Who's going to be the first person to tell me what I've missed! It's obviously important and everyone seems to be in the know except poor little me!

Katrina: [firmly] After breakfast. First eat, then talk!

Katrina's lounge room, where she and Jarod shared the drink
Sydney is sitting in an armchair and Jarod is lying on the couch as Katrina takes his blood pressure and pulse. She records the figures on a chart and sits in the other armchair with the papers on her lap.

Jarod: So, who's going first? [Katrina and Sydney exchange glances, Sydney nods]

Sydney: [teasingly] I think we should get to ask the first question, don't you Kat?

Katrina: [laughing] I think that's fair!

Jarod: [impatiently] Hold on here! I've obviously missed some time here and there's some great joke that I know nothing about and you think you should get to ask the first question? [sarcastically] That's really fair!

Sydney: [laughing] You're outnumbered Jarod! Two to one!

Jarod: [resignedly] Okay, shoot!

Sydney: What do you remember of the...recent events?

Jarod: [rolling his eyes] You mean before or after Miss Parker stuck her gun in my neck?

Sydney: [looking slightly startled] Um...after.

Jarod: [looking at the ceiling] I could hear everything that was being said but I didn't have the energy or the will to actually look around. Eventually somebody picked me up and I...I don't remember anything else.

Katrina: [with a sigh] Yes, that's normal for this type of thing!

Jarod: My turn! [looking at Katrina] Who...what are you? I mean, one minute you're talking to me about dying from cancer and - I have to admit - looking pretty convincing and the next you're acting like a fully trained heart surgeon! You're acting's pretty good but...

Katrina: [with a smile] That wasn't acting! I believe the proper psychological term is Pretending - with a capital "P"!

Jarod: [stunned] You're not...!

Katrina: [demanding] Do you have a better explanation?

Jarod: Well no...[turning to Sydney] And where do you fit into this equation?

Sydney: [teasingly] That sounds like a supplementary question to me - but I'll answer it because I'm just such a nice guy! [seriously] I'm Kat's uncle! I had an older brother...

Jarod: [finishing]...that was born before your parents got married and was adopted, right? [Sydney and Katrina look stunned] It's just a guess really. I had the weirdest dreams! [to Katrina] I don't suppose we're related too?

Katrina: [shocked] God, no! What on earth makes you think that?

Jarod: [mumbling] Just an idea I had. [having a sudden thought] So, what's wrong with you anyway? Are you really sick? [as Katrina shakes her head and grins] So why say you are?

Katrina: [laughing] It was another Pretend I was involved in and, because Michael - you remember him? - was involved, I had to keep up the facade.

Jarod: [stunned] Then that faint was...?

Katrina: [grinning] Well, actually...yes… But Dr Harrison really did recognize you and I figured out pretty quickly who you were. I met a lot of really, genuinely sick people when I in the hospitals - people who really could be helped by you. I've tried but I'm not nearly as good it as you seemed to be! [smiling, but seriousness] You must really have a gift that way!

Sydney: [in tones of suppressed mirth] Or is he just Pretending? [he explodes into laughter]

Jarod: [confused] But what actually happened after you showed up at the hotel - how did you manage that, by the way?

Katrina: [surprised] What, to know what was going on? I have lots of little toys which tell me what's going on and the phone is only one of them! When you called, I simply kept the call connected and traced it to your hotel with my laptop. Then I marshaled my little troop of security guards and stormed the building. We gathered the sweepers together outside and then went into your apartment. That's where we found you!

Sydney: [grinning] And gave me the fright of my life!

Katrina: [apologetically] Yeah. Sorry Syd, but I couldn't do it any other way! Anyway, then Miss Parker and Broots were arrested and you were brought back here. You've been here about two weeks...

Jarod: [shocked] You mean I've been asleep for two weeks?!

Katrina: There was no other way to reverse the drug! I don't know if you remember from the time in you apartment but that drug has a negative effect on the heart and that's why it's banned in Australia. To help your heart recover, I had to give it complete rest - you must understand that!

Jarod: I see...So what else happened?

Sydney: [thoughtfully] Hmmm....Miss Parker, Broots and the others are just a little bit angry because Katrina here had them extradited...

Katrina: [smirking] And strip-searched!

Jarod: [reminiscently] Miss Parker seems to make a habit of it!

Sydney: [laughing] Yes, now she can hate you both equally!

Katrina: What...Oh, that's right! I remember now!

Jarod: [quickly] You were there?

Katrina: [looking at him] Where - the Centre? For a little while. How else would I have known to contact you? It's always nice to meet people who are similar to you in some way and so I got a job there, that's all. That's also how we were able to capture all of the sweepers - I have a pretty good idea of the orders they would have been given - having been one myself!

Jarod starts up, terror beginning to show in his eyes

Jarod: [anxiously] What is this then? An ambush?

Katrina: [rolling her eyes up to heaven] Oh, for...Absolutely not! If it were, do you think we'd be sitting here in this civilized manner, chatting like this?

Sydney: [as Jarod begins to relax] She's right Jarod. There is no danger of that sort. Here [handing him the paper] read this. Aloud, if you like.

Jarod: [reading] "Police smash American drug raid - gang extradited to the US" - Miss Parker a drug dealer?

Katrina: Well, the drug she used on you was illegal and besides, after a little persuasion, the judge agreed that extradition would be the safest option.

Jarod: [laughing] You do like to do things thoroughly, don't you?

Katrina: Well, we would hardly have been safe if she was still here, would we?

Jarod: [curiously] So what happens now?

Katrina: That's largely up to you. We keep you under 'medical supervision' - a.k.a. me - for the next few weeks until we're sure that the drug has had no long-lasting adverse affects and then you go back to the States and continue the complex game of cat-and-mouse with the Centre for the rest of your life. I stay here and play the game my way, without Centre interference. Pretty simple, huh?

Jarod: [looking at Sydney] And what about you?

Sydney: Once you're physically recovered, I go back to the US, and my work.

Jarod: [frustrated] But why? I mean, you could stay here and get a job doing child psychology in a safe environment, instead of going back to the Centre.

Sydney: [patiently] Jarod, there are other children under my care now, and, besides, I don't think I want the Centre chasing me and hunting me down because I don't return.

Jarod: [with a sad smile] Oh, I don't know. Sometimes it can be fun!

The beach, several months later
Jarod and Katrina are sitting on the sand, talking when Sydney walks up to them

Sydney: I thought I might find you both here.

Katrina: [cheerfully] Hey Syd.

Jarod: [curiously] What time does the flight leave?

Sydney: [sadly] Eleven o'clock tomorrow morning. By tomorrow night I'll be back home.

Katrina: Is that good or bad?

Sydney: [sitting down] I haven't quite decided.

Jarod: [jumping up] Do I hear the bell of a Mr Whippy ice-cream van? I'll be right back! [he runs off and Katrina and Sydney laugh]

Sydney: So what are your plans now?

Katrina: [stretching and yawning] I'm waiting for summons to the embassy in Germany which should come within the next few weeks and then I suppose we'll be off.

Sydney: [shaking his head] I still can't believe you wouldn't have a big wedding.

Katrina: [with an amused smile] Well, it certainly wasn't as big as the one Jarod dreamt of.

They both laugh as Jarod comes back and sits down. He gives Katrina one of the two ice-creams in his hand and begins on the other. Sydney looks at him distastefully.

Sydney: [distastefully] I still don't know how you can eat that stuff - either of you! It's disgusting!

Katrina: [in between mouthfuls] And I don't know how you can live without it!

Sydney: [wrinkling up his nose] But it melts all over your hands and gets onto your clothes and...

Jarod: [in serious tones, although his eyes are twinkling] You know, you're right! [handing his ice-cream to Katrina] Here, hold this. [he stands and strips off his t-shirt before sitting down again] There. [taking back the ice-cream; to Katrina] Thank-you. End of the problem and if it drips I'll just go for a swim and wash it off!

Sydney: [laughing] You baby! You are so childish sometimes! I never taught you to behave like that!

Jarod: True, but there are some other excellent teachers in the world [looking slyly at Katrina] and they taught me a lot as well!

Sydney: [as he stands up and stretches himself] Well, I have to go and pack.

Katrina: Come to dinner tonight at home, will you? [smiling] Then we can talk without Jarod making a pig of himself. [Sydney nods in agreement before walking off, laughing]

Sydney's office, the Centre, a year later
Sydney is sitting at his desk, looking at an email that has arrived for him.

Refuge. Syd, I'm writing to announce the arrival of two bouncing baby girls on Feb 14. at 15.20. Margaret Elizabeth - 6 pound 2oz and Emily Louise - 6 pound 1 oz. Mother and girls doing well. Happy Valentines Day. Love Jarod and Katrina.

Sydney smiles at the screen before answering the message.

Refuge. Jarod, my warmest congratulations. I must come and see them when I next get a break - and when I can find out exactly where you are! Notebook circulations are keeping everyone busy here! Miss Parker more frustrated than ever. Love Sydney.

Jarod and Katrina's room in the early morning, nine years later
Katrina is in bed, cradling the latest addition to the family and Jarod, Margaret and Emily, with their three brothers - Sydney, Jacob and Kyle - are sitting in various spots in the room. Everyone is talking together. Suddenly the sound of a doorbell echoes through the house.

Katrina: [tenderly] Kyle, liebling, answer the door. Come back up if it is important and your father can go down and deal with it.

Kyle: [standing up] Ja, Mamma. [he leaves the room but is back within a few minutes] Mamma, I think it is Sydney.

Katrina: [smiling] Wonderful! Jarod, dear, will you go and tell him I'll be down in a few minutes.

Jarod: [getting up] Sure thing. Kids, wait here and come down with your mother. [Jarod leaves the room and Katrina begins to get up]

Katrina: Girls, take Clare into her room and change her for me, will you? I must get dressed. Boys, you can also go and get dressed please, and then come back here! Don't go downstairs yet, please.

The hallway of the house
Sydney is standing by the front door and laughs as Jarod runs down the stairs, two at a time, from the upper level of the house. The two men embrace.

Sydney: You haven't changed at all! Even after ten years, I would have known you anywhere!

Jarod: [as he ushers Sydney into the lounge room where a bright fire keeps out the winter chill] And just why haven't you been to visit us before now, I'd like to know!

Sydney: Oh, I wanted to wait until the family was complete and now, with five children, [Jarod smiles slightly] I figured this would be a good time.

Jarod: [abruptly changing the subject] So, how's work?

Sydney: [brightly] It's great. You know, don't you, that three years ago we got a new head who took over from the Triumvirate and transformed the place?

Jarod: You said something about it at the time but you didn't give us many details.

Sydney: The place has been changed into a family planning clinic full-time. No more experiments or attempts at international dealings. [smiling] By the way, you two have been very successful at preventing those. The Triumvirate was furious the last time you interfered.

Jarod: [sarcastically] Well, we have to do something to maintain this exorbitant lifestyle, you know.

Sydney: [equally sarcastically] You know, I was always of the opinion that the Germans were the best-paid people in the world! [seriously] But, to continue. The search for Pretenders - and that includes you - has been totally abandoned. Miss Parker has left the Centre totally and, I believe, joined the navy.

Jarod: [chortling] Ah, so she found a use for some of that exorbitant energy, at last.

The two men laugh again and, as Katrina comes down the stairs with the members of the family clinging nervously to her skirts, she calls across the hall.

Katrina: What's so funny? [the two men leap to their feet as she appears in the doorway] Did I miss something good?

Sydney: [doing a rapid head count] Three...four ...five...six? Why wasn't I told?

Katrina: Because number six is only a week and two days old and hasn't even been christened yet. We always waited until that had happened before we told you. Anyway [placing Clare in Sydney's arms] this is Clare Katrina. [sitting down in a chair and pulling the boys to her; the girls are clustered around their father] Jarod has charge of the oldest of the family.

Jarod: This is Meg - otherwise Margaret - and this is Em - or Emily. [the two girls perform short bob-like curtsies in typical European fashion] Girls, go and say hello to Sydney. He's a great friend of ours.

The two girls go and kiss Sydney on his right cheek. He takes and kisses the back of the two small hands, which wriggle in his grip.

Katrina: And these are my three boys. Sydney Charles, Jacob Angelo and Kyle Nicholas. They're almost six. Boys, go and say hello. [the boys go and shake Sydney's hand] All right kids, you can go and play now. Ask Marie to give you some bread and milk for Früstuck. Run away and play!

Sydney: [watching as they leave the room] Twins and then triplets! You must be busy! But they're beautiful children!

Jarod: [tenderly] They take after their mother! [Katrina laughs] Really, they do!

Sydney: I find it so hard to believe that you actually have six children! I mean, Jarod anything you did was always done thoroughly but, even so...

Katrina: That's ok Syd. I still find it difficult to believe - and I should be able to realize it if anyone can! Would you like a coffee or something?

Sydney: That would be great. [Katrina stands and pulls on a bell near the fireplace] What's that for?

Katrina: [laughing] Calling for refreshments! You don't suppose that I can run this house - with six children - and hold down full-time Pretends too, do you?

Sydney: You still do that?

Jarod: [warmly] We both do! It's immensely satisfying!

Katrina: [to a maid who has entered the room] A large pot of tea, one of coffee, and some of the cake platter please Anna.

Anna: Ja, Madame. [she leaves the room]

Sydney: She's German?

Katrina: [laughing] Well, Syd we are in Germany and it's nice to employ the locals!

Sydney: [to Jarod] Can you speak German?

Jarod: [laughing] It's not exactly difficult for me to learn a language!

Sydney: [as refreshments are brought in] You know, I never imagined you two living in one spot - and with such a large family! [holding out Clare] What do I do with this one?

Katrina: [taking her] I'll send her upstairs. [a woman appears and takes the baby out of the room]

Sydney: Where did the name Clare come from? I mean it's a beautiful name but I recognize all of the others!

Katrina: [smiling] It's my favorite girls name. [with a tender look] Jarod chose most of the others.

Sydney: What are you two doing now, anyway?

Katrina: I'm still in the embassy three days each week. The other days I devote to - whatever needs doing.

Jarod: I spend some of my time at home and a few days each month traveling around doing pretty much the same type of thing I always did!

Sydney: [with a sigh] Sounds like the perfect lifestyle!

Katrina: [curiously] Syd, why haven't you ever married?

Sydney: [firmly] The threat of the Centre

Katrina: But since then? I mean it's three years since you told us about the changes that were taking place. Three years is plenty of time to get to know people! [exchanging looks with Jarod]

Sydney: I don't know really! I guess I'm just too busy.

Katrina and Jarod exchange glances again, one asking the question and the other answering it. Katrina raises her eyebrows as the matter is settled and Jarod answers with a nod and a laugh.

Katrina: Syd, we have a proposal for you. We have a large wing of the house which we never use. It has about eight rooms in total, including a self-contained kitchen and bathroom. If you were interested, we would love it if you would consider using it.

Jarod: Right now I'm working at a school for highly developed children. I'm positive that I could get you a position there. Equally, in a few years, we'll need someone who knows how to train the six potential Pretenders that are scampering about the house. If you’d be interested...

Katrina: [finishing for him]...we'd love to have you here - permanently.

There is a moment of silence. Sydney looks from one eager face to the other. He considers what he would be leaving behind and the new opportunities he would have, not the least of which is the chance to have a proper family again. Slowly a smile breaks across his face.

Sydney: [reaching out a hand to each] I'd love to!

The End

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