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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, ice cream, 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. Read on to find out what happens.

Nighttime Epiphanies 3/?
by BrightFeather
Rated: PG-13 (just to be safe)
Spoilers: IOTH

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Raines's office
The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
February 2002

Raines sat behind his new desk, watching the surveliance videos of Miss Parker's clone, Morgan. Soon, he could set Lyle the task of breaking the sixteen year old. Soon, he could finally expose her to the darker emotions and begin to make a better profit off of her SIMs. If it weren't for Mr. Parker's soft spot for Morgan's progenitor, the process would have been started long ago.

Lyle would be given free reign to do what ever he pleased short of killing the girl. They needed her completely compliant and subservient to his wishes. After all, being Miss Parker's clone, she surely had the same spirit and determination. Such things could not be allowed to flourish under his watch. Project Doppleganger must be allowed to proceed according to plan. They may have lost Gemini and his sperm, but there would have been quite a risk producing a viable child from two cloned beings anyway.

Luckily, they had managed to extract enough samples from Jarod the last time he had been captured to produce an embryo. It had been done before, after all. At three, Master Parker was only beginning to show his potential. He was well ahead of his age markers, but it would be another year before he would be able to start producing SIMs. And, unfortunately, Mr. Parker had only authorized taking genetic material from his "daughter" once.

Raines chuckled, his version of laughter echoing evilly from the walls of his office. With Mr. Parker out of the way, he had secured the Chairmanship of the Centre. He answered only to the Triumverate and his word was law. He pulled some paperwork towards him and signed the authorization to add enough fertility drugs to Morgan's food so that she would be sure to conceive when they inseminated her with Jarod's seed. Soon, there would be another Pretender joining the ranks of the Centre--and he could begin to fully exploit the one living in the bowels of the Centre the way her original should have been.

If only Catherine hadn't stopped him. It was her fault that Parker hadn't been trained and used as was proper for a pretender. Parker should have been locked in an adjoining cell to Jarod's. If things had gone according to his wishes, Parker and Jarod would still be at the Centre, raising a few litters of little pretenders for him to bend to the Centre's will. Between Catherine's objections, and Mr. Parker backing her up, he hadn't had a chance of following through on his plan. He was glad that both of them were dead, and happier still that he had taken care of Catherine personally.

Morgan Parker would follow in her brother Lyle's footsteps as a completely loyal Centre operative, preferably a mind-controlled, mind-wiped version. Some of Lyle's past actions had been out of control, and he didn't intend to repeat some of the same mistakes. Her childhood had been peaceful--it was her young adulthood that they wanted to proceed with her total corruption in.

The child she produced would be whisked away to live with Master Parker--genetically they would be full siblings, regardless of who were their biological mothers. Keeping the children together would be wiser than separating them; after all, they could always use the threat of hurting one of them to get the other to produce. Raines smiled as he signed yet another authorization form for his new pet project. He would add another purple file, another member of Project Progeny, as soon as his new subject became pregnant…

Then again, with enough fertility drugs added, it was possible that they could produce a child from her with Lyle at the same time and double the Inner Sense that was the inheritance from Catherine. A slow smile began to spread over Raines's face. It was a terrifying sight to behold, one that would send small children running away from him, screaming in terror. Absently, he turned to his keyboard and began to type up notes. It was possible, more than possible--and Lyle would probably want to handle the job of acting as a sperm bank personally; and with much enjoyment.

*****

The Ventilation Ducts

Angelo shuddered as he felt what the Bad Man was planning. Little Sister was in trouble. Little Sister would hurt very soon. He had to warn Daughter, Friend, and Sydney again before the Bad Man could start. Angelo didn't remember much about the Before when he had been Timmy, but he knew that it was the Bad Man's fault that Timmy was gone.

The Bad Man had to be stopped. Friend could do it. Daughter could do it. They could do it together, like they had rescued the Boy. He looked out through the slats of the vent and saw the Bad Man working. Angelo turned and began to scurry towards his hiding place. He had to show Friend, Daughter, and Sydney the Little Sister. They would make her free before the Bad Man could hurt; destroy like Timmy.

He reached his safe place and began to burrow through a box of DSAs, looking for the ones that had the right empathic signature on them. He began to hurry towards the Sydney's office--Daughter was with Friend, so her office wouldn't help Little Sister. Quickly, he opened the vent and dropped two disks on Sydney's desk. He hurried back to the vent, climbed into the shaft, and began to go to another one of his hiding places.

Angelo squatted in front of his computer and downloaded a DSA on to his hard drive. Quickly, he composed another message to Friend and sent it out, attaching the DSA file to it. He sat back on his heels and smiled, satisfied. Friend would tell Daughter, and they would rescue Little Sister now. He'd have to visit Little Sister tonight to make sure that the Bad Man hadn't hurt her yet. Everything would be okay soon enough. He crawled over to his bedding and lay down, exhausted.

It wasn't long before he started hearing the voice that had been murmuring comfort to him for years. His concept of time wasn't good, but he knew that a long time had passed since Timmy died because he had gotten bigger and people he cared about had changed. The voice had been in his head ever since the day that had made Daughter hurt so much; the day that still made her sad. He yawned as the voice started singing him a lullaby--the voice was happy with him helping Friend, Daughter, and Little Sister. He smiled as his eyes began to drift shut and reached for a box of cracker jacks. He held them close like a security blanket and drifted off to sleep.

****

Greenville, SC
Jarod's Apartment

Parker unlocked the door and walked quickly in, shutting and locking it behind her. She tossed her purse and keys on the coffee table and headed over to the bed where she set down the bag from the pharmacy that she was carrying. She dug around inside it, pulled out a thermometer, and an opened the packaging. "It's time to wake up, Jarod," she said softly, reaching out to shake his shoulder.

Jarod rolled over and looked at her with fever-brightened eyes. "Parker?" he said hoarsely.

"Jarod," she began gently, "I need you to hold this in your mouth for me," she finished, running her hand through his soft, dark hair.

"You're not here," he mumbled, his eyes beginning to slide shut. "Parker wants to haul me back into Hell; not to take care of me." A single tear slid down his face. "Want my best friend back," he muttered. "Want her to love me again..."

"Jarod Whatever-your-last-name-is! Sit up and keep this under your tongue, or, so help me, I *will* haul you back to the Centre!" Parker put her hands on her hips and frowned at him in exasperation.

Jarod sat up as he began to cough. The moment the spasm eased, she stuck the thermometer under his tongue. "Hold it there," she ordered. She waited, tapping her foot impatiently, until the device beeped and pulled it out of his mouth. "Shit," she swore softly, looking at the reading. "103.4. We've got to get your fever down, wonderboy." Parker yanked a bottle of Tylenol out of the bag, pulled it out of the packaging, opened it, and shook out two pills. She went into the small kitchenette, found a glass, and filled it with water.

She took the water back to Jarod and handed it to him with the pills. "Take those," she ordered.

Jarod put the pills in his mouth and then spit them out. "They taste awful," he said petulantly.

"Not enough like Pez, rat boy?" Parker groaned and grabbed the bottle of pills. "Why is it," she muttered, "that grown men suddenly start acting like they're five years old whenever they get sick? I can't make it taste like Pez, but I'll see what I can do." She walked over to the fridge, opened it, and brightened when she saw a half-empty jar of strawberry jam in the door--she'd used something like it to get her little brother to take his medicine. She pulled it out and grabbed two spoons out of a drawer. Carefully, she crushed the Tylenol in between the spoons and then mixed the crushed bits with a spoonful of jam. Jarod *would* take his medicine--she'd make sure of that!

Parker walked back to his bedside, carrying the spoonful of jam and medicine, and smoothed Jarod's hair back from his face. "Jarod," she began sweetly, "I've got something for you."

"Wha--?" he opened his eyes and looked at her.

While his mouth was opened, she stuck in the spoon and deposited the jam and medicine mixture in his mouth. "Swallow," she ordered, then handed him the previously spurned glass of water. "Drink it, Jarod," she stood with her hands on her hips, waiting for him to finish. She grabbed the glass from his hand as soon as he finished drinking the water, placed it on the nightstand, pushed him back down in bed, and covered him up again, tucking the blankets around him tightly.

Parker leaned over the bed and felt Jarod's forehead. She frowned, she knew that the medication wouldn't take effect immediately, but she didn't like his fever. Resolutely, she walked into the kitchen, grabbed a bowl, filled it with cool water, and carried back to the bed, snatching up a dish towel on the way. She set the bowl down on the nightstand, folded the towel, and dipped it in. She wrung the excess water out of the towel and began to use it to bathe Jarod's face and neck.

"Mommy," Jarod moaned in a high, child-like voice, beginning to thrash around in the bed. "My tummy hurts." He restlessly pushed the blankets off of himself and started coughing, his breath rattling in his chest.

"Dammit, Jarod, you'd better not be developing pneumonia on me," Parker growled, pulling the blankets back up. "Get better. Don't you dare die on me, ratboy. You do, and I'll bring you back just so I can have the pleasure of killing you myself." Her actions belied her words as she tucked him in yet again and began to gently stroke his hair back from his forehead.

Jarod restlessly turned over on to his stomach. "I want Teddy," he muttered, his right hand groping around him for the toy.

Parker sighed and began to look around for a substitute. She began to smile as she spotted a white teddy bear that had her name embroidered on its foot sitting on the couch. Valentines Day was just around the corner, and it looked like Jarod had already gotten her a present. Parker grabbed the bear and went back over to the bed where she put it under Jarod's seeking hand.

He rolled over again, clutching the toy to his chest. Parker sat down on the side of the bed and began to bathe his face again, wishing she dared wake him up to take off his t-shirt so that she could bathe his chest as well. Jarod opened his eyes and looked at her. "Parker?" he asked hoarsely.

"I'm here, Jarod," she said quietly, leaning down to place a kiss on his stubbly cheek.

"You're not a dream?" he asked before he started coughing again.

"No, ratboy. I'm not a dream; I'm here." She ran her hand through his hair again. "Now, sit up, Jarod." she ordered quietly.

He obeyed and she reached back into the medicine bag to pull out a bottle of Nyquil. Parker poured out a dose and handed it over. "Drink it," she said, reaching for his free hand.

Jarod knocked back the medication with a grimace at its taste and handed the dosage cup back to her. "Stay with me?" he asked, his voice rasping in his throat.

"I came to make sure you get better," she said softly. "Take off your shirt and lay down, Jarod." After he pulled the damp t-shirt off over his head, she pushed him back down gently and pulled the blankets up again. Parker rubbed his back lightly until his eyelids began to drift shut. She stayed at his bedside for a few minutes before getting up to go heat one of the cans of chicken soup she'd seen in the cupboard when she was looking for a bowl. The next time he woke up, she wanted to have some liquids on hand to get into him. Parker glanced over a Jarod before looking away as if she were afraid that he'd notice that she really did care. The next few days would be long ones.

****

Sydney's Office
The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Sydney dropped his briefcase next to his desk and sat down, slumping in his chair. He was worried about Parker. It wasn't like her to take a sudden vacation like this. In fact, Parker even taking a vacation was rare--she was usually at the Centre for up to 16 hours a day. She was a workaholic; it was just one of the many things that Mr. Parker had taught her over the years.

He raised one hand to rub his temples and wished that things could have been different. It just wasn't fair that the happy child he'd known had been forced to turn into the lonely and bitter woman she had become. Sydney sighed as he contemplated the young woman that he considered his daughter. He wished that he could fix things. For all she tried to hide it, she had been terribly wounded yet again by her "father's" suicide. Sydney simply couldn't believe that any father could be so callous as to commit such an act in front of his child, especially this one. She had thought she saw her mother die in the elevator thirty years before; how could her father commit such an unconscionable act that re-opened old wounds by subjecting her to virtually the same thing? He could see it in her eyes--it was a terrible sorrow and a feeling of abandonment. He desperately wanted to hold her the way he had once held her mother when things got tough.

It wasn't possible. Parker hated showing her vulnerability--Mr. Parker had seen to that. Sydney didn't know much of what her "father" had done to her, he just knew that slowly but surely, the happy little girl she had been before her mother's staged "death" in the elevator was replaced by a slightly withdrawn child who only opened up in Jarod's presence. For that alone, he had carefully allowed them to have time alone and did his best to encourage their friendship.

Back then, it had only taken each other's presence to make both Parker and Jarod happy. It took so little to make children happy, he reflected. He wasn't sure what had happened to change their friendship into what it had become. After all, through the years, Parker had continued to sneak out of the Centre apartments to play with her friend. Soon after she was sent away to boarding school, things started to change. On her school vacations, while she still came to visit, she had become colder; more distant; harder to reach. Soon after her graduation, the visits had simply stopped. He had gone to watch all of her graduations, but had stood carefully in the background, unnoticed.

By the next time they had met, soon after Jarod's escape, the transformation had been complete--she had become the slightly promiscuous Ice Queen. He still saw flashes of the lonely little girl that lay underneath the facade. He wished that he could get that little girl to come out more often; her few beautiful smiles only appeared when she let go of the prickly exterior.

Sydney ran his hand through the remains of his silvered hair and began to sort through the paperwork on his desk. He was puzzled to find a silver DSA disk lying under some of the papers. He pulled out his DSA player and put the disk inside it to play, curious as to what it contained.

For Centre Use Only
Morgan
November 16, 2001

A young girl sat at a polished metal table, reading a file in front of her. She looked up from the file. "Amanda, tell me about my parents again, please?"

"Your parents loved you very much, Morgan," Amanda replied. "They both were very special people who worked for the Centre and that's why you were left in our care after the car accident. You were lucky to survive--Morgan, you know this."

"I know," Morgan answered with a small sigh.

"Now, Morgan, back to the simulation--lives are depending on you to try and find the cure to this disease," Amanda redirected the teenager's attention to the file folder. "I'll be escorting you to the lab in a few moments, but you need to concentrate on the available information right now."

Morgan heaved a sigh and began to read again. "Yes, ma'am," she answered.

Sydney drew in a sharp breath as he watched the familiar scene play out in front of him. How many times had he re-enacted a similar scene with Jarod? But this child was an exact replica of a fifteen-year-old Miss Parker. With a slightly trembling hand, he shut off the DSA player and closed it. Could they have done it? After all, a few years ago, they had discovered Gemini--could Morgan be the product of yet another Centre cloning project?

Sydney closed his eyes briefly before turning on his computer. He needed to get word to Jarod and set Broots to look into it. If the Centre had truly cloned Parker, they needed to liberate her clone as well. He waited impatiently for the computer to boot up and then connected to the Centre's LAN. He opened his email program. "You have mail," the computer's annoying voice chimed at him. He slid his mouse over to click on the flashing icon.

****

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