[This is a rather perverse little story that started out as a single drabble. Then a couple more drabbles occurred, and then suddenly the end wrote itself, rather longer than a drabble. After the end, I thought of a completely different direction the story could take itself, so I wrote an alternate ending.

It's disjointed and peculiar, but I do plan to write it out completely into a full, multi-chapter story...sometime. Don't miss the two alternate endings.]

The original drabble:

Use them

Jarod learned to use them. Once he'd thought his only way out of the Centre was to escape. Now he knew better. His only way out was to become the Centre. His greatest Pretend. So he used them. Sydney's affection—that was easy. Sydney would do anything for him. Mr. Raines' anger and hatred—so easy to turn back on him. Most of all the simulations. He learned more through the simulations than they learned from him, and he used his knowledge. Blackmail. "Give me what I want, and I'll give you your results." He gained power. Until one day he was the Centre. And he didn't want out.