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Does Familiarity Breed Contempt?

Jarod stood, shocked, as Miss Parker and several sweepers burst into his room. Miss Parker wore a satisfied smirk as she rounded him up, letting no one else touch him. This would show her father just how important his son had been in the capture. Finally, after the long months she had had to endure, working with her new-found twin brother, she had won! The sense of triumph was all the greater because of the knowledge that Lyle, presently, was a long way away - too far away to interfere.

The group maneuvered out into the hall and Miss Parker’s smile dropped from her face. Somehow Lyle had returned and now stood, flanked by several more sweepers, blocking the stairs to the roof, where the Centre helicopter was stationed. He leered at her.

"Hello, Sis. Thought you might need some help with Grease-Boy here. " He turned to Jarod. "Always slipping through our fingers, weren’t you? Well, that ends right now!"

"Who sent you? I thought you were - well I didn’t really worry but how did you -"

"Tut, tut Sis. Daddy sent me. For some strange reason he has doubts as to your abilities to keep a tight hold on our runaway. So I came to make sure you didn’t stuff up again."

"Well it was very nice of you to care and all that but I’ve got him now so if you’ll just get out of the way…"

"Sorry Sis. No can do. Daddy’s orders." Lyle moved towards Miss Parker and stood between her and Jarod. The argument was so intense that all of the sweepers had moved back behind Miss Parker and now stood silently as the twins faced each other. Jarod, on the other hand, was taking advantage of the tense atmosphere to try to edge away. As he reached the stairs leading to the roof, Miss Parker finally noticed him.

With a yell of fury, she lunged forward and aimed at him. Lyle moved to try and restrain her, reaching for his own weapon at the same time. However, during the course of the day, his gun holster had moved around his waist and, in trying to get his gun, he was thrown off balance. As Miss Parker pulled the trigger, Lyle stumbled into the path of the bullet.

At the same time Willie the sweeper aimed at Jarod’s retreating back and also fired. However the movement of another sweeper behind him knocked him off balance and he stumbled and fell. The bullet from Willie’s gun entered Miss Parker’s left lower leg as a red flower of blood appeared on Lyle’s chest. They both collapsed on the ground, Lyle silently and Miss Parker with a scream of pain. In the following momentary silence a helicopter could be heard taking off from the roof overhead.

One sweeper ran towards the roof while the others went to help Miss Parker and Lyle. However it was quickly obvious that little could be done for Lyle. He was covered in a sheet from Jarod’s bed and taken up to the other Centre helicopter, which had brought Lyle and the others to the lair in the first place. After almost half an hour Miss Parker, having been bandaged up, was also carried out to the waiting helicopter. She was laid on one of the three rows of seats and the chopper lifted off the roof.

That night Jarod called Sydney at his home.

"How is she?"

"She’s fine now but she needed a blood transfusion by the time they got her to the infirmary. The sweepers had no idea how to treat the wound and bandaged it too loosely. She was unconscious by the time they arrived. Do you know…Lyle’s dead?"

"Of course. Who do you think is doing the autopsy?"

"Jarod, for God’s…how did you weasel your way into that one?"

"I’m a Pretender, remember? Anyway, you always taught me to believe that I could do anything I wanted to. Besides, I had some things I wanted to find out. You’re in for some surprises soon. Enjoy."

Sydney was left holding the phone in stunned amazement as Jarod hung up on him.

It was midnight when Jarod entered the infirmary. Dressed in a white medical gown, the nurse on duty saw no reason to question him after asking him to sign the register. He complied and moved towards Miss Parker’s private room. She lay in the high, white bed. Although her eyes were closed, Jarod could tell that she was not asleep. He entered the room with his head bowed but her eyes flew open as he walked across the threshold and closed the door.

"You’ve got nerve, coming here like this" she hissed at him as he sat down beside her.

"I always have a reason for coming back and, tonight, my reason is you" he stated quietly.

"What do you mean?"

"Of course, you know Lyle’s dead."

"Well, I know I shot my brother, if that’s what you’re suggesting. But I feel absolutely no remorse. Anyway, it’s your fault! If you hadn’t been trying to escape, I wouldn’t have shot him."

"If you’re trying to find someone to blame then you do feel remorse. It’s a classic symptom. But you didn’t listen to me. I didn’t say you shot your brother. I said you shot Mr Lyle. They are not necessarily synonymous, you know."

"What do you…"

"This week I’m a coroner. I performed the autopsy on ‘your brother’. I also happen to know that your blood type," Jarod moved to the end of the bed and pulled out Miss Parker’s medical file, "is B positive. Lyle’s, on the other hand, is A negative. Consequently…"

"We’re not…" In her excitement Miss Parker tried to sit bolt upright in bed but was firmly restrained by Jarod.

"Sudden movements are not healthy to a person in your state. Yes, Lyle is not your brother."

"Then does that mean…?"

Jarod spoke quietly. "Angelo…Timmy…is your twin brother."

Miss Parker sat silent for a moment, absorbing the information. Jarod once more took the seat beside the bed and waited for her to speak . The silence was eventually broken by Miss Parker.

"Were the tests wrong?"

"No. Not wrong. Tampered with. Lyle, wanting to get involved with the bigwigs from the Centre and have a regular source of income, got one of the many connections he has…had…here to make the swap. He needed money to pay of the Yakuza and, as he has tried to do in the past, wanted to sponge off the Centre. And so he got his foot in the door. The rest, as they say, is history." Jarod stood and moved towards the door. Then he turned and tossed a folder onto Miss Parker’s bed.

"There’s your proof. By the way, I wouldn’t show that to ‘Daddy’ without making a few copies if I were you. The information might suddenly ‘disappear’ before you can use it. ‘Daddy’s’ planning a big funeral to commemorate the wonderful life his ‘son’ lived."

Jarod slipped through the door and down the hallway before Miss Parker could think of a response. She lay back against the pillows and thought over what he had told her. Somehow it didn’t occur to her to question him - she accepted the information automatically. Carefully stowing the information into the only lockable drawer in the room over which she had control, she returned the key to its hiding place and lay down. Although she had doubted the possibility, sleep came quickly and she slept, undisturbed, until the breakfast trays rattled down the hall.

The next morning Miss Parker sat and stared out of the window. Her good leg was bent up under the bandaged one but painkillers prevented her from feeling the discomfort this caused her. A tap at the door made her turn fearfully to it and she sighed with relief when Sydney’s familiar face appeared above the large bunch of flowers he held. He smiled at her and, grateful not to see her father, she smiled back. Sydney walked into the room and placed the flowers on the tray over the bed. Then he sat on the seat which, the previous night, Jarod had occupied. The memory of that conversation made Miss Parker fidget uneasily in the bed.

"Good morning. How’s the patient today?"

"Good, Syd. How are you?"

"I’m well. How did you sleep, okay?"

"When I finally did sleep, really well. Syd, I have something to show you. Can you shut - and lock - the door?"

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