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"The Pretender" and its characters don't belong to me (unfortunately!), they belong to their creators and owners and are being used without permission, but for no profit, just for fun.
Don't sue – you know, I have no money at all!
I came up with this idea while I was re-watching episode 4.09 "'Til Death Do Us Part".
The first time I saw that 'twisted little model of Parker's first meeting with Thomas' and Jarod hidden in the warehouse, dressed up like a clown, I felt like I could cry for days.
I don't know why he would have wanted to hide this secret from Miss Parker.
I guess he was worried about her reaction, and maybe also a bit ashamed. But you know what? I've always thought Tommy was a great guy, and so I started picturing conversation that Jarod and Thomas might have been sharing before the pretender's decision to introduce the man to Miss Parker.
Were they close? Were they friends? Did they often talk about Parker?
You're going to find out by reading this. I hope you like it.
Oh, and last but not least, English is not my native language, so please: be kind.
My total gratitude goes to Danielle SmileyFace, my Beta for this fiction. She's one of the sweetest persons I've ever known on the web and she's always very helpful and patient with me. Thanks a lot!
Mr. Goldsmith was hanging from a rope dangling over the unfinished balcony of the fourteenth floor of the Wellington Hotel, in Dover. When he had first started to construct this building, he would have never imagined that one day it would become the place where he would die.
His screams couldn't be heard anywhere, not from that height, not at that late hour.
"Yell all you want, nobody's going to help you, Patrick!" a voice above him shouted to cover his screaming.
"Help! Please! Jarod, you're crazy, pull me up!"
"Uh-uh. I think I'll let you fall, then I'll take all the money your insurance company is going to pay for your filthy life. That is, if you don't survive. If you have the misfortune to survive the fall, well – let's think about that later!"
Jarod let the rope go loose for a few of seconds, listening to Goldsmith's screams of terror. Beside him, a man was helping to keep the rope steady, waiting for Goldsmith to confess his crime. After letting the man fall for a couple of feet, Jarod and his companion blocked the rope once again. Goldsmith was still dangling, hung by his feet, and crying in despair.
"Jarod! Thomas! Let me go! Please, I'm gonna do anything you want! I'll give you every single penny I have!" Goldsmith yelled, still whining.
"Like you did with Martin Anderson?" Jarod yelled with animosity; he wanted Goldsmith to hear him well. Thomas stared at him, sweating for the pain and fatigue he was experiencing during that weird night. He knew Jarod was doing the right thing: Goldsmith was a liar, an impostor, a greedy man who deserved what was happening to him. And yet, he realized at that moment that maybe Goldsmith was right: Jarod was crazy. That light in his eyes was almost terrifying.
"What are you talking about? Thomas, I know you're my competitor in this business, but please, help me!"
"Sorry Patrick, I'm following Jarod's orders at the moment."
"Oh my God!" Goldsmith shouted.
Jarod glanced at Thomas, who smiled at him in answer. Jarod knew that Goldsmith would be tough to convince, but he had his own methods of persuasion. He grinned back at his friend, then started his longest speech.
"That man lost his legs because you hid his accident from the Insurance Company. You were afraid it would have stopped the work at the hotel, weren't you? Your creditors were already breathing down your neck and you had to open the hotel as soon as possible to pay them back. So, you left Martin alone, facing his destiny on his own, and this cost him both his legs!"
Still crying in desperation, Goldsmith screamed, "I had no choice! I would have lost everything I had, they wanted to take my hotel from me. I – I had no choice!" he repeated.
Thomas was becoming more aware of the situation, so he was the one who answered, "Martin has a little girl. Her name is Sarah; her mother is dead, and her father was working hard to ensure her a future. What is she going to do now?"
Jarod noticed that Thomas was getting emotional, maybe he had personal motives to help him in this, more than he had realized before. The pretender stared at him only for a second, then he focused back on Goldsmith, waiting for his confession.
"Yes. Yes, I did it! God forgives me, yes, I did it! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Please don't let me fall, Jarod!"
"Is that what you would have done?" Jarod's crazy voice came from above.
Goldsmith rustled up all the strength he still had in his bones. He bent to look at his two persecutors, then he implored them, "Jarod, Thomas, please."
"No!" Jarod shouted.
A glance at Thomas, and then they both let the rope go. Thomas was sure that Jarod would stop it in time, not to let Goldsmith hit the ground. But the more he fell, the more he screamed, and the more he screamed, the more Jarod waited.
"Jarod!" Thomas wanted to catch the rope, but Jarod took him by his arm and stopped him.
"Wait." he said. He seemed calm and conscious of what he was doing while Goldsmith fell. Frightened to death, Thomas leaned over from the balcony and looked at the man. Right then, the rope was blocked by a locking device, and the man's fall stopped around five feet from the ground.
"Sorry, Goldsmith." Jarod intervened, "Not enough rope, I suppose."
Thomas smiled, and Jarod shook his hand.
After spending some time with the authorities, Jarod was already packing his things. All his belongings consisted in his DSAs viewer and a bag containing some clothes and his relatives' pictures. Thomas shook an officer's hand, then he approached Jarod.
"Well, my friend, I'm sure Martin would be very glad to tell you in person, but I'm the one who's going to thank you, for both of us."
Jarod smiled, "You're welcome, buddy."
He loved calling Thomas that, when they talked. Jarod never had a "buddy" companion before, it was a nice feeling. He'd known him just for a couple of weeks, and yet he felt like he'd been his friend for a lifetime.
Thomas was a nice guy, he'd helped him take down Goldsmith, it was because of him if Jarod had been able to save Martin's life and his daughter's, too. It felt good to work with him.
Jarod had immediately realized how much Tommy reminded him of himself. Not the darkest sides of his persona, but the brightest ones. He was funny and smart, and very generous. He couldn't figure how he could possibly not have a girlfriend, yet.
"Jarod, do you really have to go?" Thomas asked him, not for the first time.
"I'm sorry Tommy, but – he sighed - I'm needed somewhere else. And I'm not supposed to stay too long in this part of the world."
"You mean in Dover? Or Blue Cove?"
Jarod smiled, "I've never been very comfortable in Blue Cove. I spent my childhood there and – well, let's just say it wasn't a great experience. I grew up on my own, without ever knowing my family."
"It's terrible, I'm sorry, man."
"Yeah." Jarod hesitated, then he spoke, "Wanna see their pictures?"
They started to walk towards Jarod's car. The pretender put his bag on the car hood, then he took a bunch of photographs from his diary.
"Is this your mother?" Thomas asked, looking at Margaret's picture. Jarod nodded, his heart aching every time he thought about his mother.
"And that's my brother Kyle. He died almost a year ago." he explained, his voice a mere whisper. Thomas sighed.
"You know, my folks died when I was twenty."
"I'm sorry." Jarod answered honestly, he knew too well the feeling of losing someone you love.
"Well, I was so – angry, and hopeless, that I just walked away. I don't have any photos of them."
"It's just a bunch of pictures, but I don't know, they make me feel like – like they're still with me. Like Kyle's never gone, like my mother's watching over me."
Thomas nodded in agreement, "Sometimes I feel so lonely. I would like to – just find someone, you know? Someone who truly understands what it feels like to be – alone."
Jarod sighed. He felt the same way, but he knew he would never find that kind of connection to someone, not unless he got rid of The Centre, first.
Jarod messed up his pictures and a new one came into view.
"Hey, who is she?" Tommy asked.
Jarod glanced at the photos and immediately realized which one had caught Thomas's attention.
He would never admit it, nor with Sydney, neither with her, but he always kept her photo with him. He knew she would shoot him, should she find out, and yet he couldn't help but bring that picture wherever he went.
"That's Miss Parker."
Tommy's eyes were almost sparkling. He'd never seen such beautiful eyes before, not that he remembered. Jarod looked at the picture, his breath getting faster, then he looked back at Thomas.
"Who is she? Your girlfriend?" Tommy asked, secretly hoping for a negative answer.
Jarod's grin became a sad smile of resignation, "It's complicated."
He'd lost count of how many times before he'd said something like that, when talking about his relationship with Miss Parker.
"You're not together? Why?"
"Miss Parker was my best friend when we were young. We grew up together, we were – well, kind of one thing."
"Then what happened?" Tommy realized that he was discovering another secret of Jarod's past.
"Things changed. She went away and became a – he sighed – well, let's say she's not the easiest person to get along with, these days."
Tommy smiled, "Wait a second, this is the Miss Parker who lives up on Brier, isn't she?"
Jarod smiled, "Her reputation precedes her."
Tommy laughed, "God, I've heard stories about her, but I never thought she was real."
Jarod was now chuckling in appreciation. A new idea was taking shape in his mind. It seemed so easy. Tommy – and Miss Parker.
I feel so lonely, sometimes.
'That's what he said', Jarod thought. 'Maybe this is crazy, but, what if…'
"So, you know the evil Miss Parker who lives in Blue Cove. The world is small, after all!"
"Miss Parker isn't evil. She's just lost. And she feels lonely, too."
"What do you mean?" Thomas asked, his eyes fixated on her picture.
"She lost her mother when she was a little girl, and she still suffers for her loss. Her father – he never helped her through it."
"But you did." Thomas understood at once.
Jarod smiled, thinking about his childhood and all the nights spent trying to console Miss Parker.
"Yes. Yes, I did." He answered solemnly.
"Then why aren't you guys together? It seems to me that she means a lot to you, doesn't she?"
"Yes, she does. But – Jarod sighed – We're simply not meant to be. It's never gonna happen between us. I already gave up."
"Do you still see her?"
'Yes, whenever she tries to catch me', Jarod thought.
"Not as much as I'd love to. But it really doesn't matter because she hates me."
"Hates you?" Tommy was now confused. How could she possibly hate a man like Jarod?
Jarod realized he had to come out with something, fast. The fairytale about The Centre wanting him back because he was a pretender didn't feel like something he really wanted Tommy to know. Not yet, anyway.
"We had kind of a huge fight a few years ago. I wanted her to confront her father, she didn't, and since then we – we don't talk anymore."
"I'm sorry, Jarod."
"I'm afraid she will never forgive me. But hey, I'm a young, handsome bachelor, there are hundreds of girls ready to make all my wishes come true!"
Tommy chuckled, "Well, if it were me, I'd never let go of a woman like this."
'I totally agree with you, buddy', Jarod thought.
"Well, I hope so, because you're going to meet her."
"What?" Tommy asked him. Now he seemed even more confused than before.
"I want someone to take care of her. And I'm not the man she needs to heal."
"It didn't seem to me that you were willing to share her with someone, a few moments ago."
Jarod grimaced. Tommy understood him well. Too well.
"Listen. I do care for her. A lot." Jarod clarified. "But if I really want one thing, it's to finally see her happy. I've known you for a while, Thomas, but I feel like we met a lifetime ago. I trust you."
Tommy wasn't still understanding where his friend was going with that.
"I trust that you can make her happy. You two would be great together."
Jarod tried to imagine Miss Parker with Thomas. His mind was filled at once with nice thoughts and feelings. Yes, this could work.
"I don't know, Jarod. I don't want to spoil our friendship over this. I mean, she looks amazing, but – Tommy sighed – You're one of the best friends I've ever had, I don't wanna lose that."
Jarod smiled and grabbed his hand, the one in which Thomas was still holding Miss Parker's picture.
"You won't. I promise."
Thomas waited a second, thinking that Jarod was the best person he'd ever met in his whole life. He'd helped him save Martin, and now he was rewarding him with the woman who was likely to be his soul mate.
"If you make her happy, then I'll be the one who's going to be in debt."
Jarod had never been surer of anything in his life. He wanted Thomas to meet Miss Parker. He wanted him to help her.
He knew he could make it.
"Where can I find her?"
Jarod smiled in relief and happiness.
"There's a gas station down in Blue Cove where she always goes…"