Part: 1
Author: desy
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The show 'The Pretender' and all its characters belong to NBC and TNT.
Summarie: (1970)More than half a yearhad past since Mrs. Parker's suicide. By accident young Jarod finds out what the Centre really does with his sims – they kill people. He decides to flee and Miss Parker and Angelo join him on his search for the truth of his/their past.
A/N: This is a 'what if' story: What if Jarod had run away as a child in 1970 with Miss Parker and Angelo in tow?

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Chapter 1

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
November, 1970

A boy went slowly down a grey concrete hallway and stopped in front of a vent entrance. He looked around, verifying that no one saw him. Then he crawled up into the vent and followed the tunnel until a fork came into his sight. There a brown haired girl kneeled and crumbed a sheet of paper. Opposite her a younger boy with brown-blond hair lay flat on his stomach and was happily chewing on chocolate.

When the dark haired boy neared the other children and sat down next to him, only the boy looked up to him and said: "Miss Parker frustrated."

"And why are you frustrated, Miss Parker?" he asked and watched the girl sighing heavily.

"I don't have time, Jarod. I have a paper presentation tomorrow and I have not the least inkling on how to do that." finally Miss Parker looked up. "I wanna have the best presentation in class. Maybe when I get an A on my paper, Daddy would finally speak to me and praise me."

Jarod knew his friend was desperately searching for acceptance by her father, but curiosity won the better of him. "I can help you. What's a paper presentation?"

Miss Parker's gaze met the bright reassuring smile of her best friend and a small smile appeared on her face. If someone else had asked her that question she would had answered 'odd duck' or 'are you kidding me', but she knew that the two boys had never left the Centre and therefore normal things like a 'paper presentation' or 'chocolate' were strange to them. "Really you will help me?" On his nodding she continued. "On a paper presentation you get marks in school. You have to write an essay about some topic and recite it in front of the class."

"And what's your problem?"

"My problem is that I have never done something like this before. Normally Momma would hel- " her voice became a whisper, when the horrible pictures of her dead mother in that elevator flashed in her mind.

Jarod saw the girl's sadness and wanted to change the subject. "What's your topic, Parker?"

"I have to sum up some news paper articles about the most important things that had happened the last week."

"That doesn't sound so hard. Do you have the articles?"

The brunette opened her school bag and retrieved a heap of news papers. She laid them in front of her two friends. "I dunno, what articles are important."

Jarod took the first paper and leafed through it. After some moments he said: "I don't think the story about the dog that saved his owner after a car accident is so important for your paper. Through it's cute. But the one with the current changes in social health care system seems important. It also is in the headlines of the other news paper."

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Two hours had past and Miss Parker was writing down the words and numbers Jarod dictated her, while he was looking into the last news paper, the one from the present-day. Suddenly he stopped and starred on an article on the first site.

"Jarod? What is?"

His gaze still rested on the sheet of paper, when he read aloud. "164 people dead, hundreds injured after terrorist assault with poison gas on city mall."

"Oh, yaeh, that was on the news on the tv. The terrorists used some type of new poison, that was gluing the lungs immediately. That's cruel."

The dark haired boy was analysing the new information and remembered a sim he'd done a year before. Then his order was to develop a new gas for military operations that would kill the other soldiers within few seconds.

Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and his gaze broke away from the headlines.

"What is it, genius?" asked Miss Parker when her friend finally looked into her blue orbs.

After a moment his shocked expression disappeared. "Nothing. We should continue."

The girl exchanged a concerned look with the younger boy Angelo, but then went back to her writing.

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Soon they were finished and Miss Parker was practicing the presentation. After she said the last sentence, Jarod began to applaud and Angelo followed his example.

"Just don't forget to speak slow, but not too slow." He remembered her.

"I won't." A big smile plastered her features and she stepped closer to Jarod and hugged him. "Thank you. I wouldn't know what to do without you."

He was hugging her back and smiled, glad that he could make her happy. After they released each other, he sat next to her and whispered in a low voice. "Miss Parker, would you do me a favour?"

Irritated by his change of behaviour she answered with a "What?".

"Do you have any access to news archives?"

"At the library."

Jarod took her pencil and an empty sheet of paper and began writing. "Could you look up following situations and if you find something similar in the news archives, would you write a summary down for me. With date and location."

Now curious, Miss Parker took the instructions. "Yeah. But for what purpose? – What do you have in mind, Jarod?"

"I will tell you. Promise." He smiles reassuring, one of those smiles she couldn't say no.

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The next day

"Jarod! Jarod! I got an A!" Miss Parker was running down the last steps of the catwalk to the area in front of the sim rooms. There the two boys were already waiting for her and as soon as she was near Jarod, she slung her arms around his neck, squeezing him joyfully.

"That's great Miss Parker."

Angelo stood next to the two, watching them for a moment, before he joined their hugging. When Miss Parker and Jarod each felt his hands on their backs, they loosed their grip around eachother and moved their now free arms around the younger boy.

After some moments they moved away from each other and the girl showed the mark to her friends. "Thank you, Jarod. I can't wait to show Daddy."

"Why don't you show it to him now?" asked Jarod and walked to a vent entrance.

"He's in a briefing the whole day. Maybe he'll have time tonight to eat supper with me and then I'll show him." The brunette crawled behind the boys to their secret refuge in the Centre's vent system.

"That's a good idea, Parker." Jarod became serious and spoke again with low voice. "Could you go and search for the things I'd asked for?"

Miss Parker slid nearer to her friend. "I told Mike, the sweeper, who picks me up from school every day, that I have to make some research in the library for another school project."

"Good. And?"

"He drove me to the library and I looked for the stuff you wanted for more than three hours." She paused and an evil smile appeared on her face, when she saw that expectation was tearing her friend up. She slid her hand into her skirt pocket and retrieved some handwritten sheets of paper. "And I found almost everything, you had asked for." She said proud. Her smile faded when his face was pure shock and he took the information out of her hands.

His eyes were scanning the summaries of catastrophes, numbers popping into his eyes – 98; 217; 355; 139; 42 – numbers of the people that died in assaults and plane crashes.

Angelo grasped the sheet of paper in his friend's hand. "Jarod fears the truth."

"What truth, Angelo?" asked the brunette.

"Lies."

Confused Miss Parker concentrated on Jarod. "Jarod? Earth to genius? Are you there?" She moved her hand in front of his eyes and he came back to his senses. "Why did you want to know about these bad incidents? Whence did you know about them at all?"

His brown eyes were finally meeting hers. "I didn't know about them."

"What is it, Jarod? You promised me to tell."

He swallowed and his gaze went to Angelo, then back to the girl next to him. "All those incidents were once sims, I did. I was the one who invented the poison gas that glued the victim's lungs, I was the one, who developed the new explosive, I was th-"His voice cracked and tears ran down his red cheeks." Sydney told me, it was for a good purpose, to save people – not to kill innocents."

Miss Parker was shocked, when she realised what he was saying. She was like frozen – unable to move - to comfort him.

"I didn't want this to happen. You have to believe me. I didn't want this." He sobbed.

Angelo was the first who slung his arms around the older boy's shoulders. Some moments later, Miss Parker did the same.

She held Jarod even closer, when she heard him repeat those words over and over. He sobbed desperately into her shoulder and she ran her hand trough his short brown, almost black hair. "I believe you." She finally announced.

Minutes past and the young pretender calmed down. Miss Parker took out her handkerchief and gave it to him. "Thanks."

Unsure what to say the girl stroke his back. "Are… are you sure?"

He simply nodded.

Angelo moved a little away from his friends. "Only lies. Centre bad. Centre evil. Evil people. Only lies."

"Who orders those sims? Who knows about their purpose?" asked Miss Parker.

Jarod had a hunch on who it might be, but he wanted Miss Parker to hear it with her own ears. "I will ask Sydney. Tomorrow after the sim. Promise me to come and wait for me on front of the sim room. … And listen."

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A/N: Tell me how you liked it. Shall I continue?

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