Disclaimer: The Pretender doesn't belong to me and neither do any of the characters… except for Morgan Parker. She's mine, all mine! Mwahahahaha! The story and situation are also property of my chocolate and Pez sodden imagination.
Clone Challenge. Okay, here's part one of my take on the clone challenge. I changed it a bit to suit myself--I'm saying that the clone of Miss Parker would also be slightly younger than Jarod's clone because Raines would want to keep the approximate age gap the same. [eg] Read on to find out what happens.
Blue Cove, Delaware
SL 26 RM 210A
A young girl huddled on the corner of a cot, her blanket wrapped around her. She sighed quietly as she added one more line to the sketchbook in her lap, completing the portrait of a woman she had seen in only her dreams.
'Hello, my baby girl.' she heard the voice inside her head say.
"Momma?" she whispered.
'Yes, sweetheart. I'm here.' the voice answered.
"Who is this, Momma?" she asked, looking at the picture.
'It's you twin sister, baby,' came the reply.
"But she's older than me!" the girl objected.
'They created you from her, Morgan… you are genetically identical and that makes you twins. You see her in your dreams--and if you concentrate, you can feel what she feels. Try it, baby.'
"Yes, Momma," she said, obediently closing her eyes to concentrate.
Raines checked the security monitors once more, checking on the Parker clone. The Triumverate would be very unhappy if this one managed to escape. After all, no negative emotions were allowed around her. Slowly, he began to smile evilly. This child would be much more biddable than Miss Parker was. After all, Miss Parker's life was just as much of an experiment as Jarod's was. Mr. Parker had been acting under orders when he had hurt her as a child.
Morgan was to be raised without being exposed to negative emotions of any kind for years. Some of the pet scientists thought that the lack of bad experiences would make her inner sense controllable by the Centre. Before Gemini's escape, they had also planned to introduce the two as teenagers and let nature take its course. Any children by the pair were bound to be remarkable... and, given the obvious connection between the originals, it had been theorized that such a connection would exist between the duplicates as well.
Raines chuckled to himself as he observed the child drawing. Soon it would be time to break her to the Centre's will. Her time of peace was almost finished. He walked away, plans for the child's future dancing around his head. In Gemini's absence, perhaps Morgan could be used as a mother for Jarod's child. After all, they still had plenty of sperm left in the storage vaults.
Morgan opened her eyes and stared at the picture. "She's in pain, Momma," she said softly.
'The man she thought was her father died two months ago.'
"But Momma, it's more than that. She doesn't know who she is anymore… and they're making her chase her best friend."
'I know, baby. She's had to chase him for five years and she's never liked it; she's just begun to learn to listen to me.'
"If the man who died isn't our father, Momma; then who is?"
'I can't tell you, sweetie. You're not a Parker, but it's up to your real father and he's not sure if it's true. You will both find out in time. I have to go, darling. I think your sister will come for you, soon.'
"Goodbye, Momma," she whispered.
Angelo peered through the vent. "Sister sad," he said quietly. He pried off the vent cover and lowered himself in the room. "Why sad, Sister?" he asked.
Morgan dropped the blanket and flew across the room to hug Angelo. "Hey, Angelo!" she said, smiling. She sobered for a moment. "Angelo, do you know my sister? Is that why you call me 'sister' because you know her?"
Angelo smiled gleefully. "Know Daughter," he said. "Daughter know about Sister soon." The little man smiled once more before hoisting himself back in the vent. "Be back soon," he said before disappearing.
Morgan sighed and walked back over to her bed. They could come for her soon, so she might as well get some rest. It was impossible to know when they would come, so it was best to be prepared.
Outside Miss Parker's House
Blue Cove, Delaware
"He wasn't really your father, anyway," the words echoed in her head. "You're a Parker, Angel. Act like one. No tears. I never want to hear you mention her again. She's dead. It's over. Life goes on." Parker shivered and pulled her coat closer to herself in the cold rain. It had been two months since her fa-Mr. Parker had committed suicide in front of her by jumping out of the plane. Two months since she had told Jarod that the game would continue as per usual. Two months since Raines had tried to tell her that he, Dr. Lucifer, Nosferatu, was her biological father. Two months since the ground had been pulled out from beneath her feet… her world was now peopled by nightmares.
Parker trudged through the dark, trying to wear herself out so that her frequent nightmares did not return. She knew that she should probably talk to someone-Sydney, perhaps. But the thought of letting anyone in terrified her. Grimly, she mused that her surrogate father had done a very good job turning the little girl he raised into an emotional wreck. She was the Ice Queen, unable to let anyone inside, anyone at all.
Years ago, it had been different. Before her mother's death she had been a different person; before her father had gotten complete control of her. She had spent after-school hours at the Centre, sometimes more than that, until her father was ready to go home. Back then, Jarod had been her best friend; her only friend close to her age besides Angelo.
Parker turned around and began the long walk back toward her house. Deep down, she knew her hostility towards Jarod was mostly for her own protection and his. For years, she had been cut off from him, but at the same time, she never forgot the good memories of sneaking off with her best friend to play. She shivered and stuck her hands further down in her pockets as she remembered how Mr. Parker had tried to convince her that Jarod was someone not to be trusted, that he was to be hated and feared.
She had let the man she thought her father think he had won and had spent years sniping at her friend. It was her one solitary gesture of defiance-one single swerve from being the obedient, trusting daughter that Mr. Parker wanted. She took her real feelings for Jarod and hid them where no one could see, covering them with sarcasm and barbed comments. She had known from the beginning of the hunt that she could never really bring him back to the Centre-at least not permanently. He had escaped, and if he remembered their childhood promises at all, he'd eventually help her escape as well.
She turned down her driveway and trudged inside her home. Jarod. The original Lost Boy. The corners of her mouth turned upwards in the hint of a smile. His Peter Pan to her Wendy. They were both getting closer to middle age, but in many ways, he was still the little boy that had been there for her growing up. She walked over to the rabbit hutch, pulled JJ out, walked over to the couch, and sat down, petting her favorite present from her best friend. The feel of JJ's soft fur brought back memories of the rabbits in the Centre lab… and Jarod.
Lately it seemed as if everything in her life led back to him. He was one of the few people who had never lied to her. He had always been there to offer comfort when she most needed it. And even though he irritated the hell out of her sometimes, he was still the person who came to mind when the words 'best friend' surfaced in conversation. She half-closed her eyes and tried to focus on him… it had worked before.
The memories assaulted her.
April 17, 1972
"Angel, Jarod cannot be trusted. He's a psychopath-it's why he's here. He'll kill you in the end. He murdered his whole family, you know."
"But Daddy," her younger self objected. "He's my best friend! He'd never hurt me."
Her father loomed over her, smacking the leather belt against his hand that he'd just pulled from his pants. "Oh, yes he would, Angel. Emotion is weakness. Love brings pain. Or have you forgotten our little 'lessons'? You're a *Parker*, dammit. Act like one,"
Her younger self shrank into the corner, trying desperately to escape what she knew would be coming next.
Parker shuddered and opened her eyes. She thought she had managed to block out most of those memories, but her father's death was bringing it all back. She got up from the couch and put JJ back in his cage. Briefly, she considered going to the liquor cabinet, but she was starting to get tired of being a drunk. Getting smashed right now was the last thing she wanted to do.
Parker shivered and went upstairs to change clothes. She rummaged through the dresser in her room until she found what she was looking for, quickly, she changed into the flannel pajamas, choosing warmth and comfort over style. She climbed into bed and pulled the covers up, wishing for someone to be there for her instead of having to fight this battle alone.
The phone on her nightstand rang, so she reached over to pick it up. "What?" she demanded.
"Hello, Parker," a familiar voice said. "Nice to hear that some things don't change."
"Jarod," she said. "So when are you going to tell me where you are so I can drag your sorry ass back home?"
Jarod chuckled. "Not a chance, Parker. I… just had a feeling that you needed me tonight… that you needed your old best friend."
"Let me set you straight, Labrat. I don't need anybody--especially not a friend I outgrew years ago… Is that clear?"
"Crystal." He chuckled again, but the laugh soon turned into a hacking cough.
"Jarod, are you ok?" she asked, suddenly concerned.
"Fine," he wheezed through the coughing spasms.
"You don't sound too good," she said, noticing the fatigue and horseness in his voice for the first time. Suddenly the line went dead. Parker frowned. Jarod was sick, and she didn't like the idea of letting the game go forward when her best friend was ill. Hell, he probably needed her to take care of him even if he couldn't admit it.
The Ice Queen in her surfaced, reminding her what would happen if the Centre got wind of what she was thinking about doing. She shoved the thought down mercissly. The Centre be damned. She could catch him later--it wasn't like her father was around to be proud of her catching him anymore, anyway.
She slipped out of bed, changed into some casual clothes and started tossing items in a suitcase. She finished packing quickly and picked up the phone to call Sydney. "Syd? I hope this message won't wake you… I just wanted to let you know that I'm taking some time off and I wanted to know if you'd inform Raines and Lyle for me. I'll call them tomorrow, but I really need the time away to sort through some things about my fa-Mr. Parker's death. I'll be back in two weeks. Thanks, Syd," she hung up the phone and headed outside, locking the door to her house behind her.
She tossed her suitcase in the back of her car and climbed in. Parker sat in silence for a moment, closing her eyes to concentrate on her bond with Jarod. She opened her eyes, smiled, started the car, and headed off in the night, sure she knew where he was.
Angelo's hiding place
Angelo finished attaching the last file and typed in his message. He smiled as he added the addresses of the Friend, the Daughter, and the Mentor. It wouldn't be long now before the Sister was rescued…
Greenville, South Carolina
Jarod coughed and wrapped the blanket around him more securely. He was freezing even though he knew he was running a fever. He shivered as he booted up his laptop and downloaded his mail. He opened the first one.
"Project Doppleganger in trouble. Raines start to hurt soon."
Jarod grimaced as another coughing fit overtook him. He doubled over, wishing his cough would go away. He shivered once more, the contents of Angelo's email barely registering on his consciousness. Absently, he saved the attachments to his desktop and shut down the computer before standing up to try and make it to the bed. He swayed back and forth a bit before he staggered over and collapsed into his bed.
Project Doppleganger, whoever it was, would have to wait.