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Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters and am just playing around with them. If I am guilty of anything, it’s watching too much television!
Note: This is a crossover for the “Pretender” and “Less Than Perfect“. This is Post IOTH and has some spoilers for the show “Less Than Perfect“, and a reference to “Philly“. Enjoy!
Less Than Pretending
By Madame Estrella
Lydia walked down the hallway to the supply office. She disliked Owen, who ran the place but was in desperate need of Post-Its. She forced her face into the biggest smile she could muster and rounded the corner. She nearly froze but continued on without breaking stride.
Post-Its, I need Post-Its, it wasn’t him, I need Post-Its.
She strode right past a couple of men who were talking in a reception area and took their glances as leering, not looking.
Post-Its, it wasn’t him, Post-Its, he wasn’t looking, I need Post-Its.
She walked into the supply office on the 5th floor and impatiently dinged the bell. Of all the days not to just call and have the little twit bring them up to her and she chose this one. It’s okay though because it wasn’t him.
Owen took his time coming up to the counter and gave her a once over as he did.
“Well, Lydia. You came all the way down here, you must need something important.” He smiled. She fixed a radiant smile on and locked eyes with him.
“No, just Post-Its.” She replied. She was being watched. Don’t turn around just get the Post-Its and get out of here.
“Ly-dia!” Owen chimed and she shook her head.
“What?” She replied.
“Someone must have been day-dreaming. I asked what color?” Owen leered.
“Whatever you have.” She smiled and shifted nervously. Owen took notice of this.
“Are you in a rush, Ly-dia?” He said her voice in a sing-song manner.
“No, I just need Post-Its.” She replied.
“Well, we have yellow Post-Its, and pink Post-Its, and blue Post-Its. We have some with little designs and plain ones and ones that say memo, or phone message...” He drawled on, drawing it out.
“Yellow!” She burst. She took in a breath and regained her composure. “I’m sorry, Owen, but I’m not up for games today.” She said. He screwed his face into a frown and she knew it wasn’t over yet.
“You didn’t have to shout at me, I’m just trying to do my job.” He sniffed. She sighed heavily and reached across the counter and touched his arm gently.
“Hey, Owen, I said I was sorry. How about I make it up to you?” She said sweetly. She was still being watched. Don’t even sneak a peek.
“Um, would you get me a choca mocha supreme?” Owen replied after making drawn out thinking sounds. She beamed and shook her head in agreement.
“Anything you say.” She chimed. Owen’s face perked up.
“It’ll be just a minute on those Post-Its. You did say yellow ones, right?”
“Right.” Then he was gone. She placed her hands on the counter and fixed her gaze on the doorway that Owen had gone through. She wasn’t going to turn around. It wasn’t him.
“Here are your Post-Its, Lydia. Um, sir did you need something? Oh.” Owen stopped at the counter and handed Lydia the Post-Its. “That was strange.”
“What was?” Lydia asked.
“There was a man standing behind you at the door. I guess he must have gotten impatient and left. You’d be surprised how often that happens.” He replied. “Oh, and I know you wanted yellow Post-Its but I thought that the blue ones matched your eyes.” He smiled.
“How thoughtful.” She replied and then turned for the door.
“Don’t forget, Lydia, choca mocha supreme.” He called after her.
In his lap, she thought to herself. A man had been staring at her in the door. She quickly got in the elevator and went up to the 22nd floor. She sat at her desk and took a few deep breaths.
“Miss Parker?” She heard him say behind her in his velvety baritone. Don’t turn around. “Miss Parker?” He repeated. She saw Claudia heading her way.
“Claude!” She shouted and waved. The redhead stopped and looked at her curiously. She rose from her chair and bumped into him. She straightened her shirt and looked up at his face.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you standing there.” She said quickly and then moved toward Claudia. He reached for her arm and held it gently. He studied her eyes and face and she stared at him blankly. “Um, can I help you with something?”
“Miss Parker?” He repeated. She frowned and shook her head.
“No, you must have me confused with someone else. I’m Lydia.” She replied. She could tell he wasn’t satisfied with her answer.
Claudia came over and stood beside Lydia and looked up at the man, and then at Lydia confused.
“Do you, know each other?” She asked.
“No.” Lydia said, breaking her gaze from his and looking at Claudia.
“Um, is there something we can help you with, Mr. ...” Claudia said and left off drawing out the mister.
“Post.” He replied. “Jarod Post. I’m here to see Will Butler.” He said, looking at Lydia one more time and then at Claudia.
“Do you have an appointment?” Claudia asked.
“No, I couldn’t reach his desk before I came up. I’m with the FCC.” He said. Claudia looked nervous and motioned for him to follow her. He turned and looked at Lydia again before following Claudia into Will’s office.”
“I owe you a coffee too.” Lydia said to herself before sitting down in her seat once again, feeling like her legs were about to buckle beneath her. He was on a pretend. She sighed heavily and hoped she could keep up her act.
“Oh my God, Ramona. You had to have seen him!” Claudia squealed with delight as the two women entered the cafeteria.
“Sounds like I Have to see him.” Ramona giggled in response.
“See who?” Owen said as he joined them at the counter.
“The guy who came to the office today to see Will!” Claudia squealed. “He’s from the FCC and his name in Jarod!”
From her seat ten feet away, Lydia choked a little at the sound of his name. Owen quickly zeroed in on her.
“Hey! I thought you were getting me a choca mocha supreme!” He said in dismay. She looked up at him and sighed.
“I didn’t know you meant right then.” Lydia replied. The three of them looked at her and then grabbed their trays and hurried over to her table. Lydia decided it was in her best interest to stay put and weather they’re worst. These people were so giddy it made her sick.
“So, Lydia, you have to tell Ramona about Jarod!” Claudia grinned. Lydia looked at her over her cup of coffee, she needed a scotch right now.
“Jarod who?” Lydia replied.
“The super hot guy who came to the office today! The guy who was calling you, what was it...?” Claudia tilted her head back in thought.
“It’s probably not important anyway.” Lydia muttered.”
“What?” Claudia asked in dismay.
“Yeah, I remember him, so what?”
“So what? He was sooo cute!” Claudia squealed.
“Yeah, and there are millions of cute guys out there.” Lydia replied.
“Miss Parker!” Claudia said.
“What?” Lydia asked.
“He called you Miss Parker.” Claudia smiled.
“He clearly mistook me for someone else.” Lydia replied.
“Oh, how many women out there could look like you?” Owen asked flirtatiously.
“Obviously one, and her name is Miss Parker.” Ramona grunted. She eyed Lydia warily. “So you didn’t think he was cute?” Ramona asked suspiciously.
“I didn’t notice. Excuse me.” Lydia said getting up. She turned to Owen. “I’ll get you all coffee in the morning, what’ll you have?”
They all gave her their drink orders and watched as she disappeared through the cafeteria door.
“Is it just me or did Lydia act like she wanted to crawl out of her skin just then?” Ramona chuckled.
“You know, she acted like that when Jarod grabbed her arm and asked if she was Miss Parker.” Claudia replied.
“Hmm, a gorgeous man and Lydia wants nothing to do with him?” Ramona asked.
Will walked in with Jarod and Will waved at Claudia. Claudia turned around and beamed.
“That’s him!” She whispered. Owen took a look at him.
“Hey, that’s the guy who followed Lydia into the supply office this morning. He thought for a moment. “Something’s up.” Owen said, finally catching on.
Lydia stared at the card that came with her two dozen roses she’d received on Valentine’s Day. From your Secret Admirer. How long had he known she was there? How long had he been watching her. This is how the hunted feels. She sighed.
She’d delivered the coffee’s to Claudia and her friends that morning and they had all regarded her curiously. No, she was just being paranoid. These people are all superficial airheads, there’s no way they could even suspect her ruse.
Lydia Weston had been born upon her escape from the Centre. Lyle had helped her reinvent herself. Out of what? Pity, love? Lyle had left as well. They had orchestrated their departures together once they’d heard nothing from Jarod for a few months since they’d faced the Triumvirate. Lyle had gone on to Philadelphia to become, of all things, a Judge. She’d come here to be a mere secretary.
She’d been so happy with her life outside of the Centre and now Jarod was here to ruin it for her. Any time she’d thought she was happy, he’d come along and turned her world upside down.
She folded the card closed and placed it in her desk drawer, beside her 9mm Smith and Wesson. She closed her drawer as she heard Claudia clear her throat.
“Um, Lydia?” The redhead smiled nervously and fidgeted with her papers. “Are you alright?”
“Fine, never better.” Lydia replied, faking a smile.
“You know, if something’s bothering you I could take you out for ice-cream?” Claudia smiled raising her eyebrows. He loves ice-cream.
“I said I was fine. Don’t you have something you need to be doing?” Lydia snapped and then returned her paperwork.
“Kipp sent them.” Claudia said quickly.
“What?” Lydia said turning around quickly.
“Kipp sent the roses for Valentine’s Day.” Claudia explained. Lydia smiled with relief and turned back to her work.
Claudia forced a smile and returned to her desk.
“She’s packing heat!” Claudia whispered to Owen and Ramona at lunch.
“What?” Owen said not even looking up from his salad which he was artfully decorating with salad dressing.
“Lydia has a gun in her desk.” Claudia hissed. “And she was acting really funny today, especially when Jarod was around.”
“Hold on! You mean that woman has a gun!” Ramona said, her eyes going wide.
“Yes.” Claudia replied.
“Maybe she’s afraid of him.” Owen said. “She was jumpy in the supply office yesterday. “Maybe he’s bothering her.”
“Or maybe she’s in witness protection!” Ramona said. “That would explain why he called her a different name.”
“Maybe she’s really in the CIA like Chuck Barris and he’s a rival spy or something.“ Owen replied.
“Maybe he’s a crazy ex-boyfriend, or a stalker!” Ramona added. “That’s why she’s not interested in him.
“Whoa, whoa!” Claudia said. “You guys are jumping to conclusions here. It could be nothing at all and she always keeps a gun in her desk.”
“Now why would she keep a gun in her desk? Oh, I get it, she’s going to go postal and shoot up the office. That’s why she’s acting weird.” Owen said. Claudia’s face fell.
“I shouldn’t have said anything. Now you guys are going to act like Lydia is a gun-toting crazy woman.” Claudia replied. “I think I’m going to go to her apartment tonight and talk to her.”
“We should come to, in case she shoots you.” Ramona said. Claudia rolled her eyes and stabbed at her salad.
Lydia tried to close the elevator doors but he got in before they were closed all the way. He straightened his coat and looked at her.
“I like what you’ve done with your hair.” He said. She ignored him, if she responded then he’d know.
“I thought it looked nice before, but the highlights really bring out your skin color. I like how you toned down your make-up too.” He continued. She looked up at him.
“What are you talking about? I look the same as I did yesterday.” She replied.
“My name is Lydia!” She snapped. He sighed and his the emergency stop button.
“Lydia Weston did not exist before 2002.” He said. She cocked her head and waited for him to say something else.
“Is that all?” She asked.
“I saw Lyle in Philly.” He prodded. She reached forward and pulled out the emergency stop and they descended to the lobby. The doors opened and she stepped out, he followed her.
“I’m glad your still alive.” He said. She stopped and turned slightly.
“So am I.” She said and continued outside to the sidewalk.
Lydia jumped when she heard the knock at her door. Had he followed her home too? She looked through the peep-hole and wasn’t much happier that Claudia and friends were there but she opened the door anyway.
“Hello, what do you want?” She said. They all but knocked her over as they came in and she closed the door and locked it.
“We brought French silk pie!” Claudia chimed. “Is that scotch?” Claudia grimaced as she pointed to the glass in Lydia’s hand.
“Yes it is. What do you want?”
“We’re here to do a little, intervention.” Claudia said. Lydia shook her head.
“Sorry, but my whole life has been controlled by people who thought they knew what was best for me.” Lydia said taking a drink.
“Was Jarod one of them?” Ramona asked. Lydia sized her up.
“What would make you think that?” Lydia asked.
“Oh, you acting funny around him and keeping a gun in your desk.” Claudia said.
“I’m a little put off by anyone who insists that I am someone who I am not, and I keep a gun for protection.” Lydia replied.
“Don’t bother asking any more questions, she already has answers for them.” A man said from behind them. They all jumped and whirled around to face Jarod in the inside hallway.
“How the hell did you get in?” Lydia grumbled.
“Fire escape.” Jarod replied smugly.
“What are you doing here anyway, Jarod?” Lydia snarled, pouring another glass of scotch.
“Do you want us to kick his butt?” Owen asked, curling his hands into fists and making an awkward boxer’s pose. Jarod regarded him curiously.
“No, that’s not necessary.” Lydia replied, saving Owen some shame.
“I was here on a pretend, I saw you getting office supplies.” Jarod replied.
“Of course, random chance! I don’t believe you Jarod! You’ve been tormenting me for years and when I think I’ve finally escaped all of the Centre’s madness, you reappear to make my life Hell once again.” Lydia snapped.
“Might I remind you that you were the one chasing me?” Jarod asked.
“I stopped, didn’t I?” Lydia replied.
“Yes, I suppose you did.” Jarod sighed.
“Turning points.” Lydia said looking into her glass. Jarod walked over and turned her toward him and lifted her chin with his fingers to look at her face.
“You don’t have to stay here, in this job, this life. You cold come with me and we’d disappear.” He said softly.
“Is your pretend finished?” Lydia asked.
“Mine isn’t. I’m happy here, I finally have a life of my choosing.” Lydia replied.
“We could do anything you want, go anywhere you want.” Jarod replied.
“Not now. The Centre is still chasing you, and if they find out we’re together...” She stopped and a tear fell from her eye. Jarod wiped it away with his thumb.
“When you’re ready, I’ll come for you.” He replied softly. He leaned forward and kissed her. She slid her arms around his neck and they pulled each other close and kissed for a long time. Claudia and Ramona but awed sweetly behind them but they ignored it.
They broke their embrace and Jarod squeezed her hand before he walked out the door. She closed it gently behind him and stared at it for a moment.
“He never even said goodbye.” Owen said sadly. Lydia turned around and smiled sadly.
“We never say goodbye.” Lydia said. Claudia and Ramona awed again and rushed over to give Lydia hugs. Lydia smiled at them and then looked serious.
“If you tell anyone what happened here, I’ll shoot you.” Lydia said.
They all nodded rapidly and then sat down to eat the pie Claudia brought.
Lydia signed for the flowers that came and sat them on her desk. Gardenias. Claudia came over and grinned at Lydia.
“Oh, those are pretty! Who sent them?” Claudia asked. Lydia pulled the card off it’s stem and read it. From your Secret Admirer. Lydia smiled and replaced the card and smelled the flowers.
“Gardenias are my favorite.” Lydia said. Claudia smelled them and saw the daggers Lydia were giving her. “Those are mine, find your own Secret Admirer.”
Claudia backed off and walked over to Kipp.
“I can’t believe you knew what her favorite flower was.” Claudia said, ribbing Kipp.
“I didn’t send those!” Kipp protested. Claudia gave him a knowing smile.
“No, I sent them!” Claudia replied. Kipp looked at her seriously.
“No, I really didn’t send them this time. I sent her roses but I don’t know what Lydia likes or doesn’t like.” Claudia made a face.
“Oh.” She said and walked back to her desk. She looked back at Lydia who looked at the flowers and looked happy and sad at the same time. Claudia thought for a moment and then the realization struck her.
“Jarod.” She whispered to herself. “Well! I’m just going to keep my big mouth to myself this time!” She said cheerfully as she started typing something for Will.
The End. Feedback is Welcome!