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Disclaimer: NBC/MTM owns the Pretender, I own the words
Author's Note: Schuyler, thanks for the new title



Double Simulation
By Andrea






Prologue to Double Simulation

* * * * *

Three men were seated in the dingy SL-27, intently watching a conversation between the Chairman and his eighteen-year-old daughter.

"What are the chances of this Project succeeding, Mr. Raines?"

Raines rose from his seat and lit a cigarette. "Extremely high. Most factors count in our favor; breeding, knowledge, experience."


* * * * *


Double Simulation

* * * * *

Sydney searched his pocket for the silver key, and finding it unlocked the door. Pushing the metal entrance open, he bade the figure standing next to him to follow. "Jarod," the psychiatrist said, "I have somebody I'd like you to meet."

At the sound of Syd's voice Jarod whirled in his dark-gray office chair, startled by the sudden entrance.

It took him a full minute to realize that somebody stood beside Sydney, and it wasn't the occasionally cleaner or sweeper, Mr. Parker or Mr. Raines.

It was Miss Parker.

"Jarod?" Sydney questioned, seeing the teenager's shock.

"W-what is she doing h-here?" The prodigy managed to say.

The Triumvirate has decided it is time for her to test her abilities as a potential Pretender." Sydney explained.

"So?"

"As the most successful Pretender, you will teach Miss Parker, and you will work on Simulations together; for a time. She has the apartment next to yours."

Jarod glanced at Miss Parker, who stood easily beside Sydney in a black tunic and pants, similar to the garments that Jarod wore.

"I'll see you both tomorrow," Sydney told the two and left.

"Hello, Miss Parker." Jarod said, waiting for any kind of reaction.

She broke into a smile. "Hi, Jarod. It's been so long, hasn't it?"

"Yes, it has, Miss Parker," the young Pretender said replied respectfully.

"Jay, you don't have to use Miss. You can just call me Parker. But don't ever use my first name," her grin dimmed as she remembered the verbal beating her father had given her when she'd told Jay her name.

Nodding, Jarod told her, "I haven't told anybody since you first told it to me, years ago."

Making her way to the bed and plopping down, the girl once again smiled. "Okay, I'm tired of this polite talk." Propping her chin on her hands, Parker continued, "Tell me all the good stuff, Jarod!"

* * * * *

"You are sure that the project will succeed?"

Mr. Raines nodded. "She has the experience, but he has curiosity."

"Do you think that the girl will produce any SIMs worth selling?"

"It depends how much talent she has, you know that."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


"So, at the end of the week, I came home myself. France...France was wonderful, Jarod. Beyond words for me." The girl neglected to mention Pierre, the gorgeous street artist she'd met, or James, the boyishly cute bouncer at Choix, a popular club.

Jarod sighed morosely. While he'd been sitting in his rooms at the Centre, happy to be given his own pad, Parker had been touring Europe with her father. He'd missed her so much, been so concerned about her. Envious of her experiences, Jarod had begged her to tell him *everything.* Parker had complied happily, loading him with details of the romantic countries.

"Hey, Jay, you got any food 'round here?"

Jarod grimaced at the use of his childhood nickname. Motioning to the cabinets and Formica counter lining one wall, he explained, "Sydney thought it would be best for me to have some independence. So he persuaded the Triumvirate to give me this apartment. I have to cook and clean for myself, though." While taking care of himself was a bother, Jarod was happy, for the agreement had also included the removal of security cameras. For the first time in nearly fifteen years, the Pretender had relative freedom.

Picking herself up off the bed, Parker walked to the cherry cabinets. Riffling through them, she questioned, "So what do you know how to make?"


* * * * *

"This is taking too long," Raines growled to his companions.

"Be patient, dammit," snapped the man to his left, his face hidden in the shadows. "They've been together for less than three hours! You can't expect responsible Jarod to do a damn thing without getting to know her better, and talking about her trip isn't going to do that. Ev-"

The third man cut in. "Are you sure its wise to let him know about the real world? Besides what we tell him, of course."

Angry at being interrupted Maxwell barked, "No, it isn't going to hurt our fragile Pretender. If the Project isn't a success, it will all be wiped from his brain."


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seated side by side, their faces towards a large, flat LCD screen Jarod and Parker worked on their first simulation together. It was a simple one, as Sims go, with an easy solution. Jarod remembered doing such an exercise when he'd been seven. He guessed that the slow pace was for Parker to learn; not to be overwhelmed.

During the last week Jay had taught Parker the necessary skills of pretending, along with rudimentary bases in many other areas, such as stealth and warfare. She'd learned the violent arts quickly and well; Jarod knew that she was interested in such.

Allowing his mind to wander, Jarod wondered just *why* Parker was suddenly here, in the Centre. He could remember her vivid words years ago, proclaiming that she would *never* work for this place. But here she was, trying her abilities as a Pretender. Jay had to admit to himself that she would never excel, or at least, never exceed him.

Sure, they both had equal intelligence in areas, that much he knew. You don't pretend to be so damn many types of doctors and scientists without picking up *something.*


* * * * *

"This will never work," Maxwell told the three other men standing next to him.

"Oh, but it will." Brosnan stepped from the concealing darkness. He was the fourth and final man of their group, the one who had power over everyone, even Raines. He ran a hand through his thick black hair. Combined with piercing blue eyes and a knife-scar, the hair gave him a rakish, slightly villainous look. Heavens knew he looked better than his other companions did. Raines with his thinning white head; Maxwell tried...well, he tried.

With a wicked grin he revealed, "My plan is falling *perfectly.*


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Quadratic formula."

"X equals negative B plus or minus the square root of B squared minus four times A times C divided by two times A." She recited.

Jarod nodded. "So if A is three, B is 7, and C is 2, what does X equal?"

Thinking fast, Parker did the math in her head. B squared would be forty-nine, take twenty-four from that, get twenty-five. The square root of 25 is five, and negative 7 plus or minus five divided by six would equal..."Negative one third and negative two."

"You got it!"

"Jarod, I don't know why you're so damn happy. I knew that when I was ten."

< Yes, and I learned that formula when I was six. > "That's enough for tonight. Want to watch the movie Syd gave me?"

Parker brushed him off. "I'm tired, I'll see you tomorrow Jarod." She left his room, slamming the door behind her.

< She's angry about something...but what? Can't be too important, though. She's been pretty mad lately. >

* * * * *

Throwing herself on the double bed set against one wall Parker buried her head in her arms and sobbed.

< Why does he keep testing me? Doesn't Jarod know how annoying that gets? >

"What am I going to do about it?" She said aloud.

< There you go, Parker, talking to yourself just like an idiot. You going to start answering yourself next? >

* * * * *

"This isn't supposed to be happening," Brosnan shouted.

Raines nodded his agreement. "By now, six weeks into the Project, the two should be..." He paused, searching for the right word.

"Together."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
They sat stiffly, uncomfortable in each other's company. Their rift the day before had widened somehow, and Parker and Jarod still weren't talking. Neither attempted words, not wanting to set off the other.

Finally, by the end of the day after twelve long hours in front of the Simulation screen Parker broke the silence. "Damn it Jarod, what's wrong?"

He took her words the wrong way. "What's wrong with me? Shouldn't I be asking you the same question?"

"Damn it Jarod, don't start this now. I'm not in the mood..."

"You're never in the 'mood' to talk, Parker. When this first started you and I spent hours together, catching up on what we'd missed during those years apart. What happened?" Jarod questioned, confused.

"You tell me, and I'll tell you," she countered.

"Parker, I don't know," Jarod said softly.

She grinned, and admitted, "Ditto. I was hoping you'd come up with something."

Jarod laughed, and Parker joined in. "Friends?"

"Jinx!"

With a smile on his face Jarod said, "Let's not ever do that again."

Playfully punching him in the shoulder, Parker said, "I agree."

* * * * *

Maxwell turned to the three men seated at the circular table. "I told you they'd make up," he said triumphantly.

"But they still haven't made any advances toward each other."

Raines shook his head. "That will come. Eventually."

"And," Everyone turned to look at the man shrouded in shadows, "What if it doesn't?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The months passed quickly for the two Pretenders, as they were busy with work and each other. One didn't catch up on almost six years in hours, or even days. Parker always had another story, another joke. Jarod, of course, usually had some archaic bit of knowledge or wisdom to share. Even at the young age of nineteen he wanted to help the world in any way he could...that's why he did the Simulations.

Sometimes the pair talked about their families; Jarod often wondered about the parents he had never known. Parker usually kept silent, she had almost no happy memories to share with Jarod.

Other times Jay and Park discussed the outside world. Jarod was curious about the smallest things, from bands to James Bond. The only music he'd ever heard was classical, and Parker filled him in on her favorite artists and groups: Madison Avenue, Beck, Andreas Johnson, Blur, The Corrs. Jarod was amazed that so many bands existed.

Often they spent hours with Timmy, who by then was Angelo. He never said much; it was just comforting to be near him, though.

At times, when they had no work to do, or studying to complete, the two passed the time relaxing easily, happy with each other's company

* * * * *

"Finally, it is working."

Brosnan merely shook his head, and repeated the words he'd oft said, "But they still haven't made any advances toward each other."

Tired of his companion's words, Maxwell sighed angrily. "Do you have any damn patience?" He shouted.

"It's been four damn months, and not a damn thing has happened." Maxwell shot back.

"Not a damn thing?" Brosnan repeated. "They've developed trust. Faith in each other that cannot be formed in any other way. Give them more time, and everything will fall according to plan." He predicted, contradicting his earlier words.

This time, both Raines and Maxwell spoke. "It had better 'fall according to plan,' or the Triumvirate will have our heads."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Jarod, you're going to have to let her try on her own, eventually."

The young Pretender stared at Sydney. "Syd, she's not ready...give me a bit more time with her."

Sydney shook his head. "I can't, Jarod."

* * * * *

"Miss Parker, please come with me," Sydney requested the next morning as he walked into the Sim Lab. She rose from her perch on a table and followed the psychiatrist. "Jarod, I'll be right back with your assignment."

* * * * *
3 days later
* * * * *

Staggering out of the lab after three days of non-stop work, Jarod felt as though he'd been hit with a ton of bricks. The first thing he wanted to do was take a *long* shower, then sleep.

Making his way to his room, Jarod was surprised to see Parker lying on his bed. "What are you doing here," he asked gruffly.

"Sydney told me you'd just finished, so I came to see you," Parker explained.

"Uhm.."

"It's okay, Jay, I know you're tired." Giving him a quick hug, she left the room, and Jarod went to his shower.

* * * * *

The Simulations slowly increased in intensity, until they surpassed what Jarod had been doing before Parker arrived. He'd been grateful for the temporary break, but was happy to be back to work. Most of the time, anyway.

* * * * *

In the dank sub-level Maxwell was ready to explode. "It has been six goddamn months, Brosnan. You said give it time. I did. Look where it got us."

The man in the shadows spoke slowly, "But there is nothing we can do now. The time to interfere passed long ago."

"He's right," Raines conceded. "We could try, but I don't think the results would be worth the risks. We have to hope for the best."

"Hope isn't good enough for the Centre. It had better happen, or else."

"Give it one more month, then discontinue the Project." Four heads turned to look at Mutumbo.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jarod ticked another day off his calendar with a thick red marker. Six months had passed, and Jarod was still no closer to learning *why* Parker was here.

Sydney had explained that she was here to test her skills as a Pretender, but Jarod suspected that wasn't the real reason.

Once Jarod had produced a Simulation on potential Pretenders, and results had showed that the best age for one to be trained was five to ten years old, not eighteen.

< Why is she *really* here? >

* * * * *

The sight that met his eyes was becoming increasingly common, Jarod either reading a book or sketching, while Parker was engaged in war games.

Every day after Sims the two would come back to Jay's room and do this, barely saying a word to each other.

Sydney bit his lip worriedly. Neither Jarod nor Parker knew it, but they were both living a Simulation every second. Nobody had contacted the Centre for this one, no, it had been introduced by Raines. Sydney had only been informed of the barest details, the need-to-know.

"Jarod, could I speak to you for a minute, please?"

The Pretender wordlessly rose from his spot on the bed, and followed Sydney to his office. "Jarod, I've noticed that you have not been working to full extent of your abilities. You do your Sims sloppily, hurriedly. What's wrong?" Sydney finished.

"I don't know," he mumbled, staring at his hands, folded in his lap.

* * * * *

"Parker, how 'bout taking a break?" Jarod stood behind Parker, watching as she single-mindedly massacred NPCs on the brutal game.

"After." She insisted, not even turning to look at him.

Sighing, Jarod took a minute to mentally count to ten. Sometimes, Miss Parker could act like *such* a child.

"No, Parker. Not after. *Now* You've been playing this damn game for weeks, non-stop!" Reaching out a hand, he flicked the computer off.

Parker stood up from the chair, and almost fell over. Jarod caught her. "When's the last time you ate," he asked suspiciously.

"Yesterday, maybe. Could have been the day before." She answered weakly, fainting.

* * * * *

"Who got her addicted to those damn games?" Brosnan thundered, obviously infuriated.

"I did." Raines stepped forward.

"What the hell did you do that for?"

Clearing his throat Raines explained, "She could be useful for particularly violent Sims, the ones that Jarod hates and consequently does terrible in With her history of violence, she would be ideal for those types of Simulations."

"Since when do we care what Jarod hates?" Maxwell asked.

Raines ignored the question and spoke again. "Even if *this* Project doesn't work, what she learns now from the games will help her later in life while working for us."

"All your idea did, Raines, was turn her into an addict of those damn games," Brosnan repeated, still angry. "She hasn't eaten for days, so she'll end up spending time in bed, unable to work. All your 'idea' did was cause more trouble."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

She was so beautiful, even in the mandatory dark tunic and pants. He could stare at her for hours, lost in thoughts of would could be, what might be. What he wanted to happen.

Yet Jarod knew that his wishes had almost no chance of coming true. No matter how much he willed and hoped for his fondest dreams to become reality, nothing would happen. There was no chance.

"Jarod," Parker's voice broke into his thoughts, startling him out his reverie. "What's wrong? You've been staring at me."

Mentally kicking himself he replied, "Nothing. I was just thinking."

"That I could see. About what?"

"Nothing really. I'm bored, how bout you?" He said, trying to change the subject.

* * * * *

The latest Sim results were terrible. Sydney studied the results with a grim face. Both Parker and Jarod's scores had plummeted, for no apparent reason. They were talking, nothing was wrong between the two.

< What is the Triumvirate going to do when they see these solutions? They are not going to be happy, that is certain. >

* * * * *

"Miss Parker, could I see you for a minute or two?" Sydney requested, leaning against the cool steal doorframe.

"Sure, just a second Syd." Saving her progress, she walked with the psychiatrist to his office.

"The Triumvirate recently reviewed your latest work, Miss Parker. They *are* not happy with the quality of your Simulations. Needless to say, either is your father. Is something wrong?"

Shaking her head Parker answered, "No, Sydney. I thought everything was okay..."

Sydney cleared his throat. "But everything *isn't* okay. "I know you can do better, Miss Parker."

* * * * *

"Hey, Park, wanna watch a movie? I begged Sydney for another James Bond."

When no response reached his ears Jarod looked up. Parker was lying on his bed, her face buried in her arms. Silent sobs racked her body.

Sitting next to her Jarod gently touched her shoulder. "Parker, its okay, whatever it is."

"Jarod, how can you say that when you don't even know what's wrong." she snapped.

"Well, why don't you tell me? Maybe I can help," he said softly, not wanting to spark her anger again.

"Sydney told me the Triumvirate wasn't happy with my Simulations. Oh, Jarod, I don't know what to do...I try as hard as I can..."

Her words brought a chill to the Pretender, who had been waiting for this to happen...

* * * * *

"At least she isn't occupied by those damn games 99% of the time," Maxwell said, trying to find a bright point.

Raines didn't bother to enlighten the others to the fact that 'those damn games' had actually been more Simulations, contracted by the Iranian military.

"But she isn't producing high quality Sims. She has the potential, but...it just isn't there."

"Maybe," the shadow man said, "It is time to quit this Project. Nothing has happened according to the plan we drew up before we started. We gained a few more Sims, nothing more."

Protesting, Raines said, "But they should be attracted to each other! By now it should be impossible to separate them."

"Raines," Brosnan said, knowing that the older man would defend the Project with everything he had, "Quit."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

< "Parker, I've always loved you." Jarod said quietly, gazing into her blue eyes. Putting his lips to hers, he kissed her... >

*Beeeeeeeeeeeeep*

Groaning loudly as his alarm clock woke him, Jarod slapped the large snooze button.

< Why do I always wake up at that part? >

Untangling himself from the linen sheets Jarod started to get up. Only to jump back in bed when the door opened.

"Did I wake you?" Parker questioned innocently.

"Uhm, no," He replied, knowing how *stupid* his answer was.

She laughed. "It sure doesn't look that way...Well, since you are *still* in bed..."

* * * * *

Brosnan snickered wickedly. "See what patience gets you?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Mr. Parker stood outside the entrance to his daughter's room at the Centre, waiting for her to come back from the Simulation Lab.

"We need to talk."

* * * * *

"You slept with that damn Pretender, didn't you?"

"Answer me, damnit!"

Silence met his ears, which only served to fuel his rage.

* * * * *

Miss Parker was sprawled on her bed, lying face down. Jarod rushed over and sat down on the cot. "Parker, what's wrong?" He asked, repeating the words he had said only days ago.

"Nothing," came her muffled reply.

"Aww, comon, you can't hide it from me." Jarod told her, his voice light.

Slowly she pushed herself up and turned over.

Jarod gasped when he saw the gash on her face, the black eye, tear-streaked cheeks. "What happened?" He said, concerned.

"Daddy."

* * * * *

Brosnan paced the sub level, his anger visible on his face. "What the hell did you do that for, Mr. Parker?" he inquired coldly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"This will be unlike any Simulation you have done before, Miss Parker. I suggest that you do your best, as your father has claimed it as your chance to redeem yourself." Sydney leaned against the computer desk, and crossed his arms.

Jarod's face was worried, he knew all about strenuous Sims. He'd gone through quite a few. Meanwhile, Parker seemed almost elated, happy that her father was giving her a second chance. Her grin looked out of place on her face, the remnants of the black eye from Mr. Parker's fist still visible.

Sydney had heard bout the 'talk' from the Chairman himself, who had ordered Sydney to show no compassion.

* * * * *

'The girl is almost an adult, she can make her own decisions, and face the consequences of her actions.'

'That still doesn't give you a reason to hit her!' Sydney had defended.

Parker had shaken his head. 'She needed incentive.'

* * * * *

"Are you ready?"

* * * * *

Neither Sydney's nor Jarod's words had prepared her for this...this *hell.* The Sim reminded Parker of the games she had once been inseparable from, only this was a horrifying reality, not the virtual world of a computer game.

She'd been shoved in the already prepared lab, but Parker hadn't protested. This was her last opportunity to prove herself...

Finding a gun resting on a stainless steel table, she had picked it up. The grip had felt oddly familiar in her hand, reminding her of the 9mm her father had given her three years ago.

Twenty seconds later and the lights began flashing off and on, like a blinking probe. The bright flashes assailed her eyes, even as sounds screams for help assaulted her ears.

< I can handle this...I don't have a choice... >

* * * * *

"How long do we leave her in there?"

"Couple hours...maybe longer." Raines answered.

Maxwell removed a silver and black cigar case. Lighting one, he asked, "And what, exactly, does this gain us?"

"Yes, Raines, what does this Simulation provide *us*? " Brosnan echoed, still angry.

Calmly, he explained, "As you know, the results proved negative on the special tests. So there is no chance for the second part of this Project to work. Therefore, the last six and a half months will be erased from the Pretender's memory, leaving no trace of the time he spent with Miss Parker."

"In turn, the events of the past months will also be taken from her brain, leaving only specifically picked memories behind. Example: She will remember the Simulation she is experiencing now, but she will not know why it happened."

"Hopefully, it will also re-open the rift between the two."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *











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