Uneasy by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own the Pretender or any of its characters.
Author's Notes I wrote this in 2006 during my – short lived – Miss Parker/Jarod phase, and it was one of my first Pretender fanfictions, though it was never posted, and never finished – where it ends is where it ended.
I can safely say that I find this little more than a little disquieting all the more given that it was written as Miss Parker/Jarod.
I have decided, however, to leave this as is, with the exception of a title, disclaimer and these Author's Notes. At the time I had been thinking of giving it the title Waking Nightmare, though I have decided instead to title it Uneasy.
It will be rated M.
A hand ran smoothly along the numb wall until it found a bump. A tiny bing. The room was doused in icy light from the above neon bulb.
Feet tiredly stumbled across the ice cold tiles, shivers up her legs and spine, too cold, too too cold.
A face appeared in the mirror. Picture perfect. Just like her mummy. Blue eyes. Rouged lips. Dark hair. Brown.
She frowned. The hair was scruffy from sleep. The eyes blinked in annoyance at the bright light. The red was fading from the lips. The room was so cold, so so cold.
Miss Parker made a clicking sound in the back of her throat.
It was winter. Winters in Blue Cove were cold, always had been.
She frowned again at her no longer picture perfect face. She would have to fix that.
She swayed a little, still sleepy. She had been working late. Two, three hours tops, she had slept, an uneasy sleep.
The sleep had woken her all of her own, screamed to be terminated. A nightmare.
Miss Parker shivered. Even in her dreams she did not like to lose, losing scared her, so she had woken.
Her eyes closed slowly. She swayed again. Gravity pushed her forward. Her eyes snapped open in time. Her hands gripped the edges of the basin tightly.
She gazed at her wide eyes in the mirror.
She needed to be awake in case anything came up.
She relaxed her hold on the basin.
A whisper caught her ear. She tremored, a familiar tremor.
This had happened before, this feeling, this … A fleeting look of horror crossed her eyes. This time was different, something was wrong, so very wrong.
She shook herself inside.
But this time she could not awake and flee. No, this time she was already awake.
She made to turn but was stopped, frozen to the spot. Cold hands ran across her satin nightdress. She could feel their progress down her stomach. They rested on her hips.
A tremor shot through her spine. This wasn't right. This couldn't be happening. It was just a dream, a silly little dream for a silly little girl.
Hot breath brushed her neck. She slammed her eyes shut, unwilling for any emotion to creep into them unbidden.
A body pressed against her back. She remained cold. Her grip on the basin tightened.
The hands slowly slid along the bones of her hip, down her legs, into her thighs.
No! It isn't real, she screamed to herself silently, it's just a fucking dream. If he were real you would pull out your nine mill' and plaster his brains across the wall. And if Daddy were to ask why his bathroom looked such a mess, you would smile toothily.
'Decorating, Daddy. You like?'
The hands sent tremors up her spine, persistent tremors. Then the hands were pressing against the inside of her legs, and she was so hot.
"Please stop," she whispered in spite of her insistence that it was just a dream. Her voice shook slightly as she said this.
Oh, how she wanted to hurt him so much, how she would make him suffer…
"HE ISN'T REAL!" she screamed back, only this time she had screamed for real. The sound echoed around the tiny bathroom.
The feeling was gone. He was gone. Miss Parker let herself slump, still clutching the basin.
The young woman lit up her cigarette and took a drag, ploughing blindly through the Centre corridors. If anyone got in her way that was their problem, they should have been watching where they were going.
If anyone got in her way they would be sorry. Liability against Miss Parker didn't hold, didn't even exist. You did not cross a Parker, that was simply it.
She took another drag and puffed it out in front of her.
She ran a thumb along the edge of the table. The debrief was so God damn boring! And she was so bloody tired…
Her eyes closed slowly for a moment before she realised. They snapped open instantly. She forced herself to concentrate on a glass jug of water in the middle of the table.
Someone far away was speaking. It definitely wasn't the glass jug.
She made to turn to whoever was speaking. Probably Daddy. Daddy likes speaking. A shiver ran across her back like a lash from a whip. It twined itself around her spine.
Her eyes remained focused on the jug.
No! Not here! Not in front of Daddy… and… the others.
But the dream won out.
The hot breath was once again on her neck, the hands pressed between her legs.
Her blue eyes grew wide.
Why? Why did this stupid dream have to come back to haunt her?
'But you like it, that's why you invented it,' her mind urged.
'For fuck's sake, I was seventeen! I wasn't thinking straight!'
'You do still like it don't you…?'
The jug in the middle of the table exploded. Shards of glass and water spilt out over the table, the water rushing gratefully to the edges and spilling down onto the floor. Free, free, the water screamed, make for the door!
Miss Parker pulled herself back to reality. The jug was still shattered, the water did not scream.
Daddy was looking disturbed.
No one had touched the jug.
"That was weird," Broots was saying to Sydney.
Enter Miss Parker.
The two men looked up. "Don't you think that was weird?" the youngest queried.
Miss Parker took a drag of her cigarette. "Yeah, an' I'm gonna drop by and thank whichever son-of-a-bitch made those things, bring my friend too, can't have him missing out on the action!"
Broots gazed at her disturbed. Well that was one good thing, she hadn't named 'him' yet.
Sydney pondered Miss Parker's willingness to surrender lead. "That was highly irregular, even you must admit, Miss Parker…" He waited for her reply.
He got her middle finger.
Sydney blinked and turned to Broots who looked as if he had just been slapped.
The door slammed shut. The room lingered with the smell of smoke.
"As I was saying… highly irregular…"
He straightened up and took leave of the younger tech.
She's just having one of those days, he tried unsuccessfully to dissuade himself from confrontation with the Chairman's daughter.
And that's got what to do with me?
Not my problem!
His mind was powerless to object.
The young woman spun on her heel. "Fuck! What do you want now? If you're looking for a head job, that ain't my problem. See Lyle!"
Sydney, nearly choking on his own breath, tried to remain composed.
Miss Parker's eyes widened behind all of that smoke. "Oh, god, did I just say that?" she wasn't sarcastic this time.
"You did," Sydney confirmed.
Miss Parker swore loudly. "Fuck!" She dropped her cigarette and ground it into the floor with her heel, apparently unaware that it was a floor and not the ground.
"If you feel like t-"
"I don't need to fucking talk, I need to find the fucking labrat!"
She swept off.
"I'm always here if you need me…" Sydney trailed off.
'That went well.'
'Oooo! Fussy, fussy, fussy…'
Miss Parker thumped herself down at her desk and slammed her eyes shut.
God damn, Sydney!
Why did he always invite remonstrations?
He's worried that's all, her mind supplied, about you.
'Fuck you! I don't need worrying over. I just need to find the labrat and make him pay!'
'Pay for what?'
She slammed her fist down on the table and gasped. Damn! That hurt.
The voice was close to her ear. The hands did not hesitate.
She opened her eyes, stared into the mirror in horror. Her eyes were so wide, so frightened. She wanted her mummy.
The boy nudged the side of her neck, buried his face in her hair.
She was panting and she hadn't even realised it. Her stomach churned uncomfortably, burning.
The hands were more insistent. They pulled her closer to him. A soft moan escaped her throat.
She needed her mummy.
The hands found the hem of her nightdress.
The girl screamed as she felt cold skin on her own burning flesh. "Jarod, no! I said stop!" She jumped up and down a bit, wobbling all over the place, her bottom lip trembling.
Jarod growled. With one movement he had spun her around and slammed her back into the wall.
Her blue eyes widened impossibly as a gasp escaped her. Her head hurt so bad. The light went all funny and faded. A moment later it was back.
Her head spun. Her stomach felt so bad. Her back was on fire, only, the rash was spreading.
She gazed back into Jarod's cold, wide eyes. "Please stop…"
He looked up from undoing a button on his pants.
And smacked her across the face.
Her head screamed with pain. "Please…" she whimpered, tears sliding down her pale face.
He wasn't listening. He never listened. She didn't know how to stop him.
Mummy was gone.
Miss Parker screamed. Her eyes were open. She was on her feet, redecorating every part of her office she could lay her hands on.
Ripping, tearing, smashing, busting, hurting…
It was no longer a dream.
The silly little girl was frightened and angry and sore… and didn't know what to do.
"Sis, why, what's all this about telling poor old Syd where to go? I heard that y-"
Miss Parker howled savagely and hurled a heavy object at the door which her twin brother had just come through.
Lyle blinked very quickly. She was mad! The office was ruined. She was way too mad for him to still be standing in exactly the same spot he had been not two seconds ago.
He moved, not wanting to get concussed by his mad sister.
"I see Syd wasn't exaggerating!"
But his voice only seemed to make her madder. She threw a paper weight at him.
He twisted his head to one side as though merely curious.
Her eyes were so wide. And so blue. So angry, he reminded himself.
He scowled. He was the crazy one, it wasn't fair for her to be palming his limelight like this. His scowl turned to a snicker.
Oh, boy, that had to be the Catherine in her. Mr. Parker would never bother with such displays.
Shoot first, torture later.
He smiled again.
"Come now, Angel," he reasoned in a cooing voice – just to spite her – "I'm sure we can figure things out if we talk this through."
Miss Parker wasn't having a bar of it, but her aim was becoming worse and worse by the minute, and he was halfway across the room already… without really knowing why…
"What you've got to understand-"
He didn't finish the sentence.
Miss Parker threw herself to the floor, amongst all the broken things like unwanted, unloved toys, and sobbed.
Lyle had only just realised how much hair she really had. He watched for a moment with no thoughts but as to how pretty his sister was.
Even when she was crying.
Especially when she was crying.
He knelt down beside her and reached for one of her hands buried beneath all that hair.
He found one, only to have her snatch it away again as she pulled away.
But it wasn't savage.
She was losing, and he was winning.
He reached out and pulled her towards him. "Ang, come here! You need a hug, and seeing as there's no one else around," he gazed around, oddly, there wasn't, "I guess that just leaves me. Now quit that moping and give me a hug!" he ordered.
She let him hug her.
Her hair was so nice; even nicer close up… just how he imagined Catherine's to be.
She was trembling. He hugged her closer to him. "It's okay now," he told her, "brother's come to make it all better."
"Incidentally," he added, "I like your redecoration."
She snorted miserably.
Lyle smiled and continued stroking her pretty hair.
Sydney swept around the corner and headed for Miss Parker's office. He had to know what was wrong. He couldn't just leave her like that. He had to help.
Catherine would be mad at him if he didn't.
She wouldn't speak to him again.
He rubbed a hand down his cheek. When did they all grow up so fast? And when did he get so old?
'It was when she left, when Catherine left.'
Her office was coming up soon.
He slowed when he noticed the door was wide open. A book lay disregarded and disorderly in the middle of the corridor.
He frowned and picked up his pace, worried now.
He came to the door. He gazed at all the damage and destruction.
He opened his mouth to speak.
His eyes fell on the two sitting roughly in the centre of the room by the desk.
His frown deepened as he realised what must have happened. His heart caught in his chest…
Lyle looked up from his humming and rocking, still stroking her hair.
He tilted his head at a slight angle as he regarded the old man. A faint smile spread across his lips as he looked back down to his sister and began humming once more.
Sydney stood there and stared. For all his life, he couldn't work it out. It's a dream, a bad dream; you're dreaming, he told himself, but he knew it wasn't true.
He left then, left the children to their nursery rhymes and star dust.
Broots hurried over with a coffee in a phyrostome cup and offered it to the older man who shook his head politely.
Broots shrugged and took a sip himself.
"Did you talk to her? Is she okay? What did she say?"
Sydney sighed. "She's okay."
"And?" the tech urged.
"She didn't say anything. She was asleep."
"In her office?"
Sydney nodded. "In her office," he repeated.
Broots frowned. "You didn't speak to her? You didn't wake her?"
"No. That would have been rude and inconsiderate."
"You just left her there?"
The old man sighed again. The tech reached his office and sat down in front of his computer. "No."
"No? What do you mean 'no'?"
"Lyle was there."
Broots choked on his coffee. "You didn't ask him to wake her, surely?"
"But you told him to get the Hell out of her office, right?"
Broots was utterly beside himself now.
"He's her brother. I can't tell him to get lost if she wants him there."
The tech burst into raucous laughter. "Syd! Get a grip of yourself. You left her there with Lyle! Lyle!"
"Yes, and he's her brother."
"He shot her, don't you remember."
Broots widened his eyes in encouragement. "She's asleep! How can she want him there? If you didn't wake her and ask?"
Sydney shook his head slightly, shutting his mouth momentarily as he frowned. "I don't understand it either. You just had to be there. It was more than a little scary."
Broots jumped out of his seat as though ready for a war.
"He wasn't trying to hurt her, Broots," Sydney assured him, "no stabbing, no poisoning, no shooting, no nothing, just, a brother and sister."
"You're telling me. I'm going to need permanent therapy for the rest of my life after that one."
"You are a therapist."
"Not the same thing, Broots. Me, them, fine. Me, me, um, not as fine."
"Not really, but anyway. Are you s-"
"Yes, Broots, I'm sure he wasn't trying to kill her."
Sydney sighed. "You said."
She had been gone for so long.
She had been perfect for so long. She hated being perfect: perfect smile, perfect hair, perfect voice, perfect manners, perfect walk, perfect grades… Daddy's perfect little girl.
She wanted to scream so much sometimes. It was all so fake!
When she thought of boys she thought of their eyes on her. Boys liked her. Boys wanted her. But then she thought of that other boy.
The boy she wanted to want her.
Sure, he liked her, he respected her, he wanted to be there for her. They were friends. That's what friends were for. That's what they all said.
But he didn't want her.
Not the way the other boys did.
She could smile and he'd smile back.
She could say his name a billion times and he would never blush.
She could discuss anything with him and he was always patient and understanding. Even other boys.
Why didn't he want her?
Why wasn't he jealous?
Why couldn't he see?
It was all so unfair. She could have anything on Earth that she wanted, anything at all, anything but the love of the boy she loved.
Miss Parker tossed in her bed but didn't wake up.
They sat against the wall under some stairs. She told him about school, about netball, about the boys she had kissed, the boys she had done other things with.
He only listened.
She was blushing so badly but he couldn't see. It was too dark. She thought of all the things she could ask, all the things she could try to explain.
"Do you think I'm pretty."
The boy smiled to the wall. "Yes, very pretty."
"I mean, pretty as in pretty pretty?"
Jarod frowned and shook is head slightly. "I don't… I don't understand."
Miss Parker took a deep breath, ignoring the churning in her stomach. She leant across and whispered in his ear in a slow, dragging voice. "Do you want to touch me?"
He frowned and took up her hands. "Did somebody hurt you? Were they mean to you?"
Her blush deepened. He didn't understand. How can he, she asked herself, how can he if you don't tell him, if you don't show him?
She put on her best sad face and sniffed loudly. Slowly, she nodded.
Jarod took a deep breath but didn't get angry, didn't want to upset her, just wanted her to be okay, to be safe. His eye twitched a bit for a moment but that was all.
"Tell me what they did to you?" he asked in a calm, reassuring voice. Just like Sydney, he thought.
Miss Parker shook her head and blubbed. "Mmm." Tears welled up in her eyes.
Jarod's brown eyes grew wide in fear. He hadn't meant to upset her, to make her cry. He pulled her closer to him. He had to hug her. To show her he wasn't going to hurt her like those others had. "It's okay now, they can't hurt you when you're here. I won't let them."
She nodded miserable, her eyes wet with tears, her bottom lip trembling, and let him hug her.
"I won't make you tell if you don't want," he reassured the girl.
She nodded once more and rested her head on his shoulder. She felt a bit guilty about lying to her best friend but she had to know, she had to know if he loved her or not.
They sat huddled in each others arms for some time until Miss Parker took her head off Jarod's shoulder.
"The other boys touched me," she whispered suddenly, staring down at the floor, ashamed. "I told them not to but they wouldn't listen, they said that's what girls were for. They said I should stop being such a pris! They were so mean! They made me so angry! So I just let them do what they wanted. I didn't want the other girls to pick on me."
Jarod's eyes grew very sad.
Miss Parker wanted to hug him but she wanted to laugh too. She scowled to herself, why do you have to be so mean?
"I don't mind now," she reassured him, shaking her head feverishly, "I really don't."
Jarod frowned, not understanding. He was a little angry with her for not minding when someone hurt her, but he could never stay angry with her long, that was just what she did to him.
She twisted her head about her shoulders. "Kiss me."
His frown deepened. He held a hand up to her head to feel her temperature. She brushed his hand away.
"I'm not sick, Jarod."
He nodded slowly, frowning.
Jarod completely forgot what he was thinking about.
Miss Parker gazed back at him beseechingly, pleading. Very suddenly she looked angry. "Look, nobody hurt me, okay. Nobody touched me; nobody said mean things to me. But you're hurting me, Jarod. You!"
Jarod frowned, he didn't understand. "You're the one that lied! How can I be the one hurting you? I didn't lie. I never lied!" He shook his head. How could she lie to him? He didn't understand. Tears welled up in his eyes but he didn't want to cry, not in front of her. He sniffed loudly and backed away.
Miss Parker ripped on her hair and screamed. "Damn you, Jarod! I fucking hate you!"
He continued shaking his head. She was lying again. She didn't really hate him. She was just angry. Why was she angry?
She wrenched herself to her feet and seized the door handle.
Jarod got there first. He pushed her away and stormed off out into the hall, didn't even wait to see if she had hurt herself.
He wanted to go back. He wanted to say sorry. But it wasn't fair. Why was she so angry at him? He hadn't hurt her. He hadn't called her any mean names.
He ran all the way to his room and didn't stop until he was safely in bed.
Miss Parker stayed exactly where she had fallen. She cried for two whole hours and then she got up, brushed herself down, fixed her hair and make up with the things from her bag, and left to tell Daddy she wanted to go back to school now.
The alarm clock on the bedside cabinet woke her at five-thirty. She yawned and sat up.
Rubbing her hands across her cheeks, she noticed that she had been crying.
She seized the still ringing alarm clock and hurled it the wall opposite. The beeping ceased. The clock lay in pieces on the floor, busted and broken.
She started to cry.
She thought he had come to apologise. Why would he do that to her? How could he do that to her?
The alarm started again. She screamed. Hadn't she just smashing that bloody thing?
But this sound was more like a buzzing than a beeping. Shit! Her mobile. She seized her mobile off the cabinet and pressed a button to answer.
"Yeah, Parker speaking? This better not be Lyle or you're dead meat!"
"Glad to hear it wasn't me who woke you this time."
"FUCK YOU!" She slammed her phone down on the bedside cabinet and threw herself back down on her bed, glaring up at the ceiling.
A few moments later, she sat up and picked the phone back up. "What?" she demanded in the calmest voice she could muster.
"Parker, you're giving me bad vibes," he replied, a little annoyed now, but trying to sound amused.
She growled. "It's a phone, genius, phones don't give you bad vibes, they just microwave your brains. Come to think of it, I like that idea. How about you, Wonder boy?"
He muttered something to himself.
"Pardon? I didn't quite catch that last bit?"
"Been taking lessons from our dear sweet brother, Lyle, have we now? How to act a demented bitch in five easy steps?"
Miss Parker rolled her eyes. "Wrong! I got that all from you, honey! Now tell me where you are so I can come there chuck you out of a window, preferably one a little higher than two storey."
"I think the word Sydney used was 'irregular'." She could imagine him shaking his head.
"You fucking rat!"
"Now, now, young ladies should never use such inappropriate language. It reflects badly on their upbringing and family. Daddy wouldn't be very pleased."
"Daddy can wank himself!"
"I beg your pardon, I think it's about time little miss I'm-in-a-bad-mood-today trottled off to fix her hair. Don't want everyone to know you're Medusa, do we now? Boy wonder rather thinks it best to leave any talk of chess out of the conversation, so now we have nothing to talk about. I would ask you what Lyle had done but I'm afraid that might be intruding. Well, tah-tah, then. And happy Halloween."
Miss Parker scowled. She just couldn't pull it together for five bloody minutes could she? Her phone joined the clock at the other end of the room.
Halloween's bloody over!
Miss Parker stood in her office. God, the place looked a bloody mess! She had done all that? It was his fault, he made her do it.
She lashed out and kicked her desk painfully.
It was all his fault!
Jarod sat down on the bed and stared at the floor. Why was she so angry with him? And that strange dream?
He could barely bring himself to remember that dream. But something about it felt wrong.
The whole thing was wrong, but there was something else too.
The same feeling he had gotten when he had rung her earlier.
He snatched the chess board off the bed and chucked it in the trash on his way out. Stupid game!
The young woman turned and regarded the older man in the doorway. "What?"
"Can we talk?"
She ran a hand across her head. "No, go away!"
Sydney smiled grimly and stepped into the room. He couldn't just stand by and do nothing, no matter how much she protested. He was the elder.
She didn't even turn this time. "I said 'go away'. Are you hard of hearing too, old man?"
Sydney took a deep breath, this was almost more than he could take. For Catherine! "Look, Miss Parker, I hate to say this, but you do need to talk."
Miss Parker spun around. Sydney stumbled back. It wasn't the icy glare she was giving him. It was something else. The world spun before him. He closed his eyes, only for a moment. When he opened them again he was greeted by black, nothing but black.
Sydney swayed for a moment. Miss Parker thought he was playing her. Next moment he had collapsed and nothing she did could bring him round.
She couldn't understand why she was so angry all the time. No matter what Jarod had done to her was between Jarod and her. Sydney was just trying to help.
She swore loudly. "Sydney! Sydney, God damn it! Wake up! SYDNEY!"
"Parker, quit hollering, you're giving me the irrits!"
Lyle found his sister kneeled on the floor over Sydney who appeared to be unconscious.
"What's up, sisio?"
Miss Parker looked up at him with pleading eyes. He didn't want to look at those eyes. "He won't wake up…"
Lyle shook his head and knelt down beside her. "Here, let me show you how it's done."
He took Sydney by the shoulders and shook him lightly. Old people creeped him out.
"Syd! We're real amused, but now we got work to do. We've got a lead on Jarod," he lied.
Sydney moaned and opened his eyes.
Lyle was already at the door, half in, half out. He shrugged. "See. Nothing to it!" He disappeared.
Miss Parker turned back to Sydney, who had sat up. "You okay? I'm so sorry. I don't know what came over me. I didn't mean to be so rude."
"That's quite alright," Sydney told her as she helped him to his feet. "We all have our off days."
Miss Parker snorted miserably. "Sydney?"
"Can I talk to you now?"
Miss Parker did not tell him everything, just how she had had that strange hallucination in her bathroom and how angry it had made her.
The young woman blushed. "I used to have that dream w-when I was younger… but i-it was different-t…"
Sydney nodded. "Different? How?"
"I-" She was blushing terribly. Sydney could see how hard it was for her to tell him these things. He didn't mean to be so clinical, it was just how it came out. "I liked the boy."
"The boy exists? You know this boy?"
"Uh… N- maybe. I think so."
Another nod. "You don't have to tell me anymore if you don't want."
Miss Parker shook her head. "No. I have to tell someone. I have to know why."
"Very well. Continue."
"I-I used… used to like… I made the dream up. I don't know why. Well I do but… Stupid thing to do."
"I don't understand? You 'made' the dream up?"
"Mmm. And in this dream, you, um, you were usually co-operate?"
"Yeah. My dream after all." She felt like screaming but was afraid Sydney would faint on her again. She wondered if she should be telling him these things when he was sick. "You are okay, aren't you?"
"Yes, I'm fine. How old were you?"
"You do know these kind of dreams are quite normal for that age?"
She nodded. "Mighta heard that someplace along the way."
Sydney nodded. So it wasn't simply the dream's occurrence she was embarrassed by. "And did this boy and you ever… get together?"
Miss Parker gave a very noticeable shudder then. Sydney, startled by her violent reaction, reached out a hand for her arm in a gesture meant to comfort her.
Tears sprung into her blue eyes. She brushed them away angrily. "No."
"Miss Parker?" Sydney hated himself for asking, but they were so close.
The young woman, so much like Catherine, buried her face in her hands. "It wasn't a dream. I thought he had come to say sorry, but then… but then… I tried to stop him. I really did. I tried. He hit me. It hurt so bad. I didn't want him to hit me again."
Sydney's heart fell. Miss Parker sobbed uselessly while Sydney stood by and watched. He simply couldn't bring himself to comfort her for fear of upsetting her more.
"I'm so sorry…" he mumbled.
"I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHY?"
"I don't know why, I'm so sorry."
Miss Parker swept all of the papers off her desk in anger, finding it hard to control herself. She smacked her fist into the wall helplessly. She hated being so angry.
"I thought he talked to you about everything? Always asking stupid questions about stupid things?" she mumbled to the wall, a giddy edge to her miserable voice.
Sydney stopped breathing. "J- It was Jarod?" he asked in disbelief.
Miss Parker burst into raucous laughter. "Poor little Jarod!"
Sydney flinched. He just couldn't believe it. It made no sense. He had to get out of that room, away from that mad laughter.
Miss Parker sat in the personnel dining hall, prodding her meat with a fork.
Lyle sat down next to her. "Sis? Hey, look at me?"
She edged away from him, further along the bench.
"Why won't you talk to me, huh? I'm going crazy here! You can't believe how crazy it is for me not to want to torture anyone. In fact, care to explain this strange concept of talking? When did that happen?"
She gave him a filthy glare.
He resigned. "All I'm saying is, you wanna talk, you'll talk to me, huh?"
Miss Parker mumbled something incoherent.
Lyle stood up and patted her shoulder before sweeping off, wondering what in the Hell his sister was doing eating in the personnel dining hall, and all alone.
She's a mystery, that one.
Damn straight, Lyle old boy.
God, you're not British.
Did you just say 'God'?
Old age getting to me.
Not right now. Not in front of sis.
Ukkk. Too much British.
Miss Parker sat on the couch and watched the television absent-mindedly. Some sport was on. Rugby or the sort.
She tried to concentrate on what was going on on the screen. She turned the volume up to full.
It was dark when she woke again. The television was off now. She gazed at its blank screen for a long while before she realised that it hadn't been her who had turned it off.
She sat up and found her gun right where it always was. She stood swiftly and crossed the lounge.
The kitchen light was on. She frowned. Daddy was out of town.
She relaxed when she realised who it must be, but this logic confused her even more.
Her idiot brother.
"Lyle?" she half-roared.
She stepped into the kitchen.
But it wasn't Lyle. Jarod looked up from the floor. Miss Parker screamed and trained her gun on him.
And then she saw the floor and screamed all over again.
"Jarod?" she said in a dangerous voice.
He frowned and got a very sad puppy dog look that told her he was feeling a little guilty for drawing his algorithms for God knows what all over her Daddy's kitchen floor.
"I didn't mean to. I swear." He looked up at the ceiling and then around the rest of the room.
"You are crazy, aren't you?"
He looked back to the ceiling fidgeting with the texta marker in his hands.
That was so not a permanent marker?
He dropped the texta to the floor and stood up straight just like Sydney had taught him, hands behind his back. He twisted his head to one side and then slouched again.
"Maybe I should just shoot you now then."
"Cathy wanna play soldiers? War bad. War not good."
Miss Parker rolled her eyes. Cathy? Her eyes widened. Catherine. Her mother.
Jarod looked at the ceiling again. "Is P better now? Sydney said she'd be better."
"P the schmee." He blew his non-existant fringe up. "The bossy one," he told her as if this fact was completely logical.
"Jarod, quit acting crazy right now!"
Jarod straightened instantly and saluted her. "Ma'am, yes, ma'me." He shook his head a bit. "I'm bored."
"Funnily enough, you said the same thing not two minutes ago."
Jarod nodded. "Sydney says I should sleep. I don't wanna sleep. Man, he is so bossy." He smiled mischeviously all of a sudden. "Do you like him?"
Miss Parker blinked. "Who?"
"P says you do."
"And you believe that?"
"P is so, like, the goss queen," he shook his head again and returned to staring at the ceiling, "that's what she says anyways… anyway. Anyway. Yep. Who says 'anyways', n' me. Nuh-ah! No, ma'am."
"Damn it, Jarod!"
He looked guiltily back to the floor. "I's for P, to make her better."
Jarod bent down and picked up the texta and turned it around in his hands. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Mr. Raines? Why is he called Mr. Raines?" He tilted his head onto his shoulder, twisting from side to side. "Does he like rain? I like rain." His eyes widened. "I like puddles," he told her in a low voice as though sharing a secret.
He started squirming again. "I'm still bored. I canna believe how bored I am." He blew his imaginary fringe up in exasperation. "Sydney gonna be mad at me for drawing on his floor." He pointed shyly to one of the walls. "There too. Mamma Mia! Big big trouble."
He started humming to himself. "NO HUMMING! Sir, yes, sir! No humming, sir. Humming distracting, sir."
He stretched and scruffed up his hair. "Can you read me a book? Why canna I visit P? I pwomised. She'll be real mad. She'll scream at me, man! And she'll can me 'man'. I ain't a twee-hugger. She is so bossy. It's like 'stop being so bossy'. NO. 'Young lady, now fank you.' I'LL SCREAM AT YOU AGAIN! So I's always letting her boss me round. She's too bossy, man."
Miss Parker slouched. He was out of his mind. P? That's me, she thought, P.
Miss Parker held her hands over her ears. "Jarod!"
He rolled his eyes. "Geez, man, chill. P talks funny, you know?"
"So do you."
"Ace, innit? P taught me. She says growin-up language is soooo b-oring!" He dashed over and grabbed her arm. "Quick, Mrs. Parker, we gotta hide, Sydney's gonna be so mad."
Miss Parker pulled away from him. "I don't see any Sydney."
Jarod dived under the table, snatching the text from the floor and scrabbling back under the table. "If he arks, you ain't never seen no kid by name of Jarod. No Jarod here, sir… Sydney, darling!" He giggled and clapped a hand over his mouth.
"Miss Parker? Miss Parker?"
Miss Parker started and spun around.
Sydney walked in, looking relieved to see her. "The phone's not working?"
"I unplugged it."
"I see. And your mobile?"
"Sink. An accident, I swear."
"You're okay, aren't you?"
She nodded. "Yeah."
Sydney nodded. "That's g-" His eyes landed on the floor and he looked up at her wildly.
Miss Parker pointed to the table.
"Jarod?" Sydney tried in a cautious voice.
Jarod screamed and dived out from under the table. "Cathy, you towwwlllld!" he whined.
She shook her head. "You hear me say anything?"
Jarod rolled his eyes and skipped over and past them into the lounge. "Sydney… darling…" He squealed and dashed off.
Sydney shook his head and sighed. "Catherine never called me that, I promise."
Jarod appeared from behind the couch. He shook his head. "Nuh-ah. You kissed him." He nodded now, making himself dizzy. "Even arks P. She saw-es too. Uh-huh. Yep, yep, yep. P says, 'Mummy drink too much and see what she does.' P made up a song too, but I is not gonna sing it. Oh no. P is so mean. I not that mean, mostly."
Jarod ran his hands along the carpet. "I like pet."
"Car-pet. I like car-pet." He clapped a hand over his mouth. "I practice proper speak, I did, I did."
Sydney frowned. "Jarod!"
"JAROD! JAROD! JAROD!" His eyes darted around the room, serious all of a sudden. He growled. "P?" he screamed at the top of his voice and made a dash for the front door.
Miss Parker caught his arm. "Jarod!"
"They're hurting her. They're hurting P." He started rocking back and forth. "Make them stop! Make it stop!"
Sydney's eyes grew wide. "No! Jarod, look at me. No!"
Jarod shook his head. "P? I want P. P? Not hurt P!"
A moment later he fell to the floor and started shaking as though in a fit. "Jarod," Sydney yelled, "It's not real. It's just a memory! Jarod, stop it. Come back to us!"
"What's wrong with him?"
"It's you, Miss Parker. I don't know how but you two were… I don't know. Connected in a way… I guess." Sydney shook Jarod trying to snap him out of his trance.
"I… What was wrong with me?"
"You had to have an operation of some sort. I don't know what or why." He slapped Jarod hard across the face. "JAROD!"
"I feel sick."
Sydney stroked his hair. "You're better now, I promise."
Jarod sniffed and sat up. "She hates me, doesn't she?"
"Who hates you, Jarod?"
"P. Miss… miss… miss Par- Parker. Miss Parker."
"I don't know. I honestly don't."
Jarod mumbled to himself. "I didn't want to, I swear. But she made me. She always bosses me around. I didn't want to. She said not to. She was crying and I couldn't hug her. I wanted to hug her."
"Jarod? Who made you?"
Sydney frowned. Miss Parker scowled. "Miss Parker made you hurt her? How did she do that?"
"Voices. Voices in my head. Pain. So much pain. Too much. Too much pain. Why does P want me to hurt her? I never wanna hurt her? I didn't mean to push her. I wanted to say sorry. Why did she go?"
Miss Parker stormed over and wrenched Jarod up by his arm. "You're crazy, you know that?"
She pointed the gun at his head.
"That's not funny P! Why did you want me to hurt you?"
"I didn't… I don't… I couldn't. Arrrrghhhh!" She shoved him away from her and stormed off to the kitchen.
"She can't control it. And I made it come back. It's my fault."
Sydney shook his head. "Jarod, you must explain this to me, I do not understand."
"Genius doesn't mean I know everything, just means someone else thinks I do."
"Jarod, that isn't funny."