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We do not own the pretender, its characters or the settings.

Sam had had just about enough and had to get out before she told her boss just exactly what he could do with his job. It was just so unfair, she worked just as hard as they did, and it wasn’t her fault that some up themselves lawyer had screwed up, and it certainly wasn’t her fault. Yet somehow, she was copping the blame for it and it was bullshit. It was the same all the time, the bigwigs made the mistakes and the soldiers in the trenches paid for it. She made her way down to the park to eat her lunch and try to cool down. If she didn’t, she might just go back up there and say some things she would really regret. She needed this job and it was foolish to let her temper get the best of her. It was a good job, not too far from home, and not bad pay, and it wasn’t as if jobs like this were just there for the taking. Despite that she hated it most days, although it was a lot better than waitressing, or working in retail.


Moving down to her favourite bench, she frowned when she saw a bum sleeping on it. That was just what she needed right now. Ordinarily, she would have just moved somewhere else, but damn it, this was not an ordinary moment and it was her bench. Why couldn’t he just pick one of the other ones? Why hers? It was as if the universe had decided to poke its tongue out at her and rub a little salt into her wounded pride. Since it had not been an ordinary day, and she was tired of being pushed around and treated as if she didn’t matter, she decided to stand up for herself and not take any more shit from anyone today. "Excuse me,” she said loudly, impatience in her tone. It was just a bum after all; it wasn’t like he was going to get too feisty with her.


Jarod groaned softly, stirring as he heard the female voice. Rubbing at his eyes, he opened them and frowned as he looked around. This was not his lair where he had gone to sleep. Sitting up in confusion and a little bit of fear, Jarod looked around in a daze, desperately trying to work out how he got here and where HERE was.


Sam sucked in a breath as she realised how much he looked like one of her favourite actors. It was impossible though, this was some street bum, not a famous person. "Are you alright?” She asked nervously, struck at the striking resemblance. Her rational mind told her it couldn’t be him. Her eyes were telling her something completely different. It looked so much like him,


Rubbing his head, Jarod shook his head no. "Um, you couldn't tell me where I am could you please?” He asked, not recognising this place. It definitely wasn't where he was last. Maybe Lyle had drugged him and moved him some where new instead of taking him straight to the Centre for some unfathomable reason.


"You’re in Central Park,” Sam said, realising he had an American accent. "Are you alright? Did you hit your head or something?" The voice was just right too, adding to the effect and her heart skipped a beat. All of her righteous anger was gone now, replaced with a mixture of excitement and doubts. Of course he wasn’t a famous actor, they didn’t fall asleep on park benches, they had bodyguards and stayed in fancy hotels, with screaming fans stalking them at every move, Paparazzi chasing after them for that money shot. She didn’t read the gossip mags, seeing enough of them at the counter at the supermarket to know that is how it worked.


“New York City?" Jarod asked in shock, jumping to his feet as his eyes darted around. This was too close for comfort.


That made her laugh out loud. “New York? You are kidding me right? Someone put you up to this?" It was her birthday in a few days and she wondered if this was some kind of gift or practical joke. He had to be one of those celebrity look–alikes who did this kind of thing.


Jarod turned to face the woman with a frown and tilting his head. "Where am I then, if not Central Park, New York?" Poor Jarod didn't even have a memory of how he left his latest lair.


"Are you sure you're alright?” She asked, concern growing. "We are in Sydney.” He looked genuinely confused and it worried her. If this was a joke, it was in very bad taste. "Central Park, in Sydney." Her bad day at work forgotten now, as was her lunch as she tried to figure out who he was and what was happening here.


Jarod's eyes swept the park, making sure no sweepers were near him. "How did I get here?” He asked unsurely, backing away a little in case this was a trick. Jarod didn’t know why the Centre might do things this way if they had caught up to him, but they always had a reason for what ever sick torment they decided to do to him.


"I have no idea,” She said, wondering who he was, much less certain of herself now. "You're not…” She started hesitantly, embarrassed now and feeling foolish. Clearly he wasn’t Michael T Weiss, that was impossible, despite just how much he looked like him, even sounded like him too. Although of course, she had no real idea what he sounded like in real life, for all she knew he could be using an accent in the show. Or maybe it was him and he was some kind of junkie and was coming out of a 5 day party–binge.


"I'm not drunk," Jarod defended himself, looking around in disorientation. How the hell did he get to Sydney without waking? He must have been drugged. He needed a phone to call Sydney, he needed to find out what stunt the Centre was pulling and why and what they had given him to knock him out long enough to send him here.


"I meant, you're not... Michael by any chance?” She asked, trying not to behave like a 12 year old star struck girl. He even had that mole, it had to be him. The voice too, and the mannerisms were spot on. It was weird, as she KNEW it wasn’t him, yet she still had to ask. If it was him, she wasn’t going to miss this chance, after all, how often did you run into your idols?


"Michael?" Jarod frowned and shook his head, “No sorry, my name is Jarod, you must be confusing me with someone.” He looked at her in confusion, wondering who this Michael was.


"Right,” She burst out laughing, knowing it was a joke now. "Who put you up to this Jarod?" It was funny and she felt pretty dumb for falling so completely for it.


He cocked his head to the side, “Put me up to what? I'm sorry Miss, I really have to go. Sydney?” He asked again, terrified at the blank in his memory, so much so his hands were trembling a little.


"You're good, I'll tell you that much.” She chuckled, "I hope they paid you well for this.” She had to admit, they had really set her up well. Niggling in the back of her mind was the fact that she couldn't think of who would go to so much trouble for her, pay out this kind of money. Nobody at the office, that was for certain, and she had lost contact with most of her friends from school years ago. It didn’t make much sense.


"I'm sorry?” He whispered, having no idea where he was. “Do you have a cell phone I could borrow?” He really needed Sydney; this was very, very bad.


"Sure,” She said fishing out her mobile for him. "Here, but I don't have a scrambler on it.” She said with a grin, her bad mood forgotten now. He was very good looking, and he seemed to have the expressions just perfect and she wondered if there really was an industry for look–a–likes to do this kind of thing. Playing the role perfectly, Sam watched him in fascination.


Jarod took it quickly and stepped back from her further; wondering if this was a very bad set up. His eyes darted around again, getting very jumpy as he pressed in the area code for America then dialled the number. Hearing the woman's voice saying the number didn't exist, Jarod frowned deeper and tried his office, his home, Parker's home, cell and office and even Broots. "What's going on?” He whispered to himself, terrified now. He was in a different country, with no memory, all of the retrieval teams phones didn't exist; his eyes darted around again as he began to visibly tremble. Add to that, the woman's strange comment about the scrambler and Jarod did not want to be here.


"Hey, are you alright?” She asked in concern again, seeing how pale he had become. "Look, why don't you sit down for a moment.” She was trying to tell if he had maybe fell and bumped his head, or maybe he had been mugged. He had no phone, no bag, nothing. Maybe this wasn’t some elaborate set up after all, he really did look upset. With her certainty beginning to waver, she was becoming nervous again, after all, he could be hurt internally, a concussion or something, or just be some total–whack–job too, using his looks to get to unsuspecting girls.


Jarod shook his head and stepped further away. "Who are you? Do you work for them?" Jarod asked suspiciously. She didn't look like a sweeper or sound like one, and hadn't made a move on him yet, but she had asked about the scrambler and that was not a normal comment to a friend, family or a stranger.


"Who is 'them'?" She asked, no longer thinking this was funny at all. He was clearly distressed now and it worried her. This was way out of her range of experience and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.


"You know who they are.” He whispered, wondering why he was still here at all.


"I have no clue who they are, but maybe we should call a doctor or something, you don't look well.” She said in worry. Maybe the police would be a better choice, he might be dangerous. Good looking didn’t mean safe.


"I'm fine, I have to get out of here." Only problem was he had no money, no ID, not even his fake ones, he didn't even... "Where's my Halliburton? Where did you put it?” He became angry, knowing now she was working for the Centre. That’s why they did this, some how it had allowed them to get him and his DSA’s.


"Look, this has been fun, but I have to go back to work. You can stop pretending now." This situation was beginning to scare her and she just wanted to get back to the safety and normalcy of her little booth.


Jarod reached behind to grab the gun that was there when he fell asleep and realised it wasn't there, “Don't even bother telling the Centre, I won't be here when your reinforcements come." Jarod warned slowly backing away from her to run.


"Look, whoever you are, this is not funny anymore. I think you should maybe see a doctor." If this was a joke, she was getting angry that he was now upsetting her. If this was real, the poor guy clearly had no idea about reality and was living in some fantasy world where he really believed he was Jarod. Maybe he was some kind of stalker with a Jarod–complex, if such a thing existed. Maybe he got told so many times he looked like him, he started to believe it. Stranger things had happened she supposed.


"I'm not sick," Jarod whispered, still slowly backing away, as if he did it slowly enough, she wouldn't react. "Tell your boss to get onto my huntress and tell her the phone isn't working, any of them."


"My boss is an asshole, and if I don't get back I am going to lose this lousy job. You had your fun with me, and it is over now, okay?” She said, becoming a little frightened now for her own safety.


"Oh trust me, this is no fun. Nothing is right.” He whispered, just as worried and frightened as she seemed to be.


"I really think you should call someone, Jarod,” She said, using the name he had picked, not wanting to upset him any further.


For some reason, hearing his name calmed him slightly, as if to confirm at least he was real in this weird dream. "I tried, none of the phones worked.” He whispered, his confusion growing once more, but he had stopped stepping away for now.


"You have to have somewhere you can go?” She asked, beginning to believe he was mentally unstable now.


Jarod shook his head, the only place he could go, he refused to, ever. "If you have a spare five dollars, I can get...” He trailed off, he could get a photo and make some fake ID to get to his money and back to the USA.


"Can get what?” She asked, but was reaching for her purse anyway. God, he looked so lost, so much like Jarod from the show. It had to just be a coincidence, surely. Whatever it was, she felt sorry for him, and afraid of him too.


"To the other money,” He said softly. If he couldn't get his ID working, he could pay for some internet time and hack into the Centre's funds again. At least that way he could work out why all the phones were disconnected, check to see what this sick joke was about.


"You sure you don't want me to put you in a cab?” She asked, handing him a $20 note, guessing he needed it more than she did right now and it didn’t feel right to not give it to him, even if it was a con.


Jarod looked at it as he slowly reached for it. "This is too much.” He whispered, unable to accept this much, no longer believing she was an enemy.


"That is all I have on me right now, take it, please.” She said hesitantly, not knowing what to think about this at all now. She found herself wanting very badly to believe him though, even as part of her mind was screaming con-job and he had probably run this scam a hundred times before.


"I'm sorry, I can't." Jarod handed it back to her, "I can't take the only money you have. Thank you though, I appreciate it." Jarod whispered, trying to think how he would get home. If he could get to a computer he would have no problem, only he didn't have one, any ID badges to get into a building that did, or money for the internet.


"Look I work just over there, do you want to come and I can call someone for you?” She asked, nodding to her office building. There were plenty of people there, security guards, cameras, it should be safe enough and he did look so pathetically lost.


Jarod debated it for a moment before nodding, trusting this stranger not to turn him into the Centre. The comment about the scrambler and pretending to be Jarod had stuck with him though. His gut was telling him something was seriously wrong, his mind was screaming out at him this WAS wrong, but what was he to do?


“Come on,” She said, holding out her hand for him, seeing how completely lost he looked, which made him even more adorable. Dangerous or not, he was damned cute and he looked SO much like Jarod that she threw caution to the wind.


Jarod slowly took the hand, his whole being calming down at a gentle touch from another human, something he still rarely got. Even if she did turn out to be the enemy that single touch was enough to calm him a little and reassure him all was not lost.

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