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Alternate Ending #2, Part 1

Manipulate them

            “Jarod,” Sydney said, “I want you to do something for me.”

            “Why, Syd, you know I would do nearly anything for you.” Jarod smiled easily. His smile rarely reached his eyes these days.

            Nearly, Sydney thought. “It’s nearly Christmas, Jarod. Do you remember the present I gave you once? The snow globe?”

            For a moment Jarod’s face lightened, grew younger, almost became the face of the young man Sydney had once known.

            “Yes, I do, Sydney. It had the Empire State Building in it.”

            “Do you remember the Christmas you asked me to take you out to see the snow?”

            His eyes darkened again. “I remember you refused, and when I found it on my own, you sent sweepers to drag me back inside.”

            “Yes, and you’ve never once been outside since then. You have never left the Centre, though you have had the authority to do so for a long time now. Why?”

            “I don’t need anything outside the Centre, Sydney. There is nothing out there I want…anymore.”

            “I want you to go to the Mount Pleasant Home with me this Christmas to see my brother.”

            “Jacob? Why do you want me to go see Jacob?”

            “The two of you are my family. All I have. Jacob doesn’t have long left to live, Jarod. A month at most. If you were there with me…”

            Sometimes he thought there really was some affection for him left in Jarod, unless he was Pretending, manipulating, as he did so well. Jarod leaned forward across Mr. Parker’s desk. “Alright, Sydney. I’ll go. On Christmas.”

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