AN: It's my first one-shot try so don't go easy on me guys. ;)

Sydney's face twitched in agony as his eyes were searching for the surveillance camera in his cell and wheezed, at first just barely above a whisper:

»Somebody ...«

His strength was leaving him, but it was not his time yet, it couldn't be – not until Jarod reaches him somehow.

»Somebody! I need water ... please.«

He didn't hear the door opening behind him, the amount of radiation he was subjected to left him almost completely deaf. At first he made out merely the outlines of a figure in an anti-radiation suit, carrying a plastic cup with a straw in it. Then the figure knelt beside him and as its face found the only source of light in the room, a monitor by the bed, and moved into its glow, he sighed tiredly: »You're here, I knew you would come.«

Jarod struggled to retain his composure. Here, in front of him, was lying not merely a dying man, but a man who tought him, guided him for most of his life ... as well as participated in taking his identity, his very essence, away from him. But, inspite of everything ... at that moment he felt what he felt all those years ago when Sydney told him his parents died in a plane crash. Perhaps even worse ... Having never before felt such profound helplessness, not even when Damon shot his friend in cold blood, prompting his escape, he murmered under his breath:

»Why Sydney, why haven't you left this hellhole when you've had the chance?«

He didn't hear him and he didn't have to.

»Jarod ... I knew ... I knew this day would come ... sooner rather then later.«


»No, Jarod ... listen ... there is much I need to say to you before I lose myself. It's too late for me, it has been so for a long time, but you ... you ... I have to make this right, I have to try ...« He paused as the pain in his temple was becoming unbearable and Jarod removed his glove and took his hand in his, with a slight tremor as he noticed the red patches and ulcers, caused by radiation, and quickly squeezed it, carefully and gently, for he did not whish to cause him any more suffering. Sydney at last managed to continue, albait he was in a great deal of pain, there was no time to lose.

»You have tried to find your family ... you've been searching for your stolen identity ever since you've escaped ... But ... it's not all that you are, for a man ... is not defined merely by the parameters of his ... origin.«

Jarod stood up and helped him breathe by holding his oxygen mask. He wasn't sure if his legs would hold him anymore, but he did it. Somehow he did it.

»My son ...«

»I could not get him in here, Sydney, I could not get Nicholas. I tried, but ... it just wasn't possible, not with all the security measures and potential for coming in harm's way ...«

»I didn't mean ... Nicholas, Jarod.«

Jarod held his breath and felt himself stiffen as Sydney lifted his head slightly.

»I wasn't allowed to ... I couldn't allow myself to feel it. I'm a scientist ...«

»And I am the pretender.«

»Yes ... yet, despite everything ... you are also my son ... in every real meaning of the word, Jarod.«

He paused and let his words sink in, breathing heavily.

»You are not an empty shell, you are ... a person of principles and compassion. A sensitive boy I raised into an honorable man ... even if I do not necessarily fit into that category.«

As Jarod tilted his head so that Sydney could see through the plastic veneer of the suit, he saw a silent stream of tears slowly rolling down his cheecks.

"You ARE somebody, Jarod ... You see, I am the pretender ... It is I.«