Fraying Fabric by Shannon, admin

1. Part 1 by Shannon

2. Part 2 by Shannon

3. Part 3 by Shannon

4. Part 4 by Shannon

5. Part 5 by Shannon

6. Part 6 by Shannon

Part 1 by Shannon
Disclaimer is that I don't own them, just got inspired by the past episode. I want to thank Niceole for reading the rough draft and offering suggestions that were so desperately needed to make the story better. . .I suppose that I will rate this PG-13 some minor language. Enjoy and feedback is welcome after all I'm only 13 3/4
Oh Niceole if you read it again I made a few minor adjustments but nothing totally major and to the question you asked YES!!!!!!!

Fraying Fabric
by Shannon

He sat there on the cold concrete floor, in shackles, his arms heavy from being chained, but his legs were stretched out so that he could at least lean against the wall as he tried to relax the muscles of his neck, shoulders and back. He couldn't open his eyes, the beating from his captors left them swollen shut. His lips were cut and bruised, his tongue was swollen, he must have bitten it, yet his jaw worked when he moved his tongue slowly to moisten his lips. He was weak and under his ribs there was a hollowness, something akin to hunger only harsher, an ache that throbbed from the inside out.

The woman made her way through the maze, stopping, once she located the cell door. Feeling for the lock, she worked the lockpick in to it, casting furitive glances down the corridor as she heard the spring click back. Pushing the heavy metal door open slowly, her eyes adjusting to the darkness, she had twenty minutes, no more. Shaken and sick, the mustiness of the place almost made her retch, there wasn't a window or a cot just dampness, and the cold hard concrete. She scanned the room, and found him huddled in the corner in an upright position.

"Son-of-a-bitch," she muttered.

She tried to wake him, yet he would not respond. Her hands found one broken rib-no two-and when she unbuttoned his shirt, almost every inch of his torso was bruised- ugly purplish-black welts. There was dried blood in the corner of his mouth, which could only mean that one of his ribs had bruised his lung, for if it had been punctured, he'd be dead already. His heartbeat was steady under her hand, but she could hear a wheezing in his breathing. Labored and raspy.

"Jarod, wake up," she said into his ear,"You have to help me by waking up."

He moved, tried to reach out.

"Parker?" he croaked, a hoarseness to his voice, for he had dreamed that he had heard her voice all night.

She placed her lips on his forehead, very tenderly, barely touching him. Feverish. Damn, she thought. He'd been down here too long.

"We need to get you out of here."


"Syd, Broots, Angelo, and me."

"Leave me, please. He wants to catch you here. To show the triumverate that you're the leak. I should never have given you that information, I should have taken care of it myself."

"I needed that information and you know it. You're wasting time."

"I can't see, so just leave."

"You can't see because your eyes are swollen shut. I'll lead. Come on," she extracted the lockpick from her jacket pocket and unlocked the shackles from around his wrists.

"No, Parker. Go home, stay safe, work from the inside, find all the answers for both of us. I'll manage, always have."

"Safe? There is no such thing as safe around here. You won't live much longer down here, not in your condition. He means to see you dead. Angelo warned me."

"So be it!" he mumbled.

"Damn it, Jarod!" her tone angry," I've had enough dead bodies to last a lifetime. I need your help. I need you alive. So get your ass up and let me get you out of here."

Helping him to his feet, she took the brunt of his weight against her body, stumbling slightly, then she gripped him tightly around the waist. As they made their way toward the door, Jarod tried to break away from her grip, tripping over his own two feet causing him to crash into the metal door.

Stopping a few feet from the cell, she adjusted Jarod's body weight as he tried to help her by letting her lead. She could see a shadow of a man at the intersection of the corridor. Hopefully it was Syd, for Jarod was heavier than she had expected but than again he was battered and bruised and manuevering on his own was out of the question, they'd get caught with all the noise he would make.

"Let me walk on my own, Parker," his voice quiet as he tried to feel his way down the corridor, faltering as he went.

"Want to get caught, there's no time," Sydney's arm caught him and Parker continued to support him from the other side, down the corridor to the vent that stood open at the end of it, moving quicker now that Sydney was there to offer assistance. Jarod heard Angelo's soft voice as he was lead into the duct, god the risk they ran to get him out of here. Suddenly he could feel cold, sweet air caress his body and it made him shiver.

"This is were I say good-by," Sydney said, in hushed tones," for now. Broots can only account for the both of us missing for so long."

"Later, Syd," Parker held out her hand to the man, grabbing hold of his, tightly then released it. She watched as he made his way back into the air shaft and disappeared in the darkness.

Surveying the surroundings, she breathed a sigh of relief, at least they had made it outside, yet she dare not risk the open for fear of the sweeper teams that patroled the area. The safest route was to stay close to the edge of the building and get him into her car and then she would return to the Centre and exit from the main door. He only had to stay alone for a matter of minutes, hopefully. As luck would have it, Mother nature was on their side, for the moment the parking area came into sight the clouds that had hung in the night sky suddenly scudded over the moon making it even darker. They took their time, the clouds continuing to darken the night sky and it began to rain, a little.

However, Jarod could feel himself begin to drift again, as he had in the cell, the pain in his ribs a dull grinding and his bruised face sending a bolt through him with every movement. He had not tasted the blood in his mouth for some hours, but now it was there again, jarred loose by the motion of walking. He felt weaker, and his hand tightened its gripped around Parker's waist in order to stay upright. It was a sudden flash of light that caused Parker to pull them into a narrow alcove, their bodies pressed against each other. Parker hoped that the darkness would conceal them from the sweepers making their rounds. She had timed this to the last minute, the sweepers would move on to the other side of the building in the next eight minutes, she had to get him to the car in that timeframe or everything else would be all for naught.

"Parker," he whispered, in her ear, his hot breath sending shivers down her spine, something she had not expected, but the proximity of their bodies didn't help the situation.

"Quiet, do you want us to get caught?" she placed her fingertips to his lips, gently so as not to aggravate them, yet signalling him to listen to her," They sweep this side and then go on to the other side, we have six minutes to make it to my car. It'll be rough going. Can you handle it?"

"Parker?" his lips moved against her finger, it felt like the wind had caressed her skin," Better make it quick, Parker, I'm dizzy as well as nauseous. I really don't want to pass out on you. I really don't have a choice, do I?"

"No, it's my help or back to the cell," she smiled, then realized that he could not see it anyway due to his swollen lids. The light had moved on, Parker cast a glance around the edge of the brick building, watching the sweeper team fade out of sight.


"As ready as I'll ever be, Parker."

"In the back you go, Jarod. I'll be back in a few minutes, just lay still and wait," she whispered as she carefully draped the dark blanket over him. He curled into a tight fetal position, the movement causing his ribs to ache and drawing a small cough from him. Parker reached out a hand to touch his face and found blood on his lips.


Parker headed toward her office, she needed to gather her belongings, then get the hell out of here before anyone discovered that Jarod was missing. She had to get off Centre grounds before the discovery. Hopefully, Syd had made it back to his office and that Broots had covered from them long enough. Sometimes his nervousness made her nervous. Reaching for the doorknob to her office, she heard voices coming from inside. Damn. Her father, Cox and Lyle. Plastering on a phony smile, she breezed in to the room, waiting for the other musketeer to join the fray.

"Angel," her father said, as he turned along with Mr. Cox to watch her enter the room.

"Daddy," she looked from her father to her brother," Do what do I owe the pleasure of this gathering?"

"Oh, Parker. I'm hurt," Lyle feigned sadness in his features.

"Right," she sneered, then turned toward her father " How's the baby?"

"The baby, oh, ask the nurse? I've been to busy. . .what with Mutumbo's death. We need some one to fill the seat left vacant. Someone loyal, like Lyle, here."

She nearly blanched. Lyle-loyal. God damn it, after everything she had done to protect him and he still continued to lie to her. Well, that was the final straw, her loyalty was elsewhere, now. The door opened and the resident redeemer, Raines, entered the office, followed by Sydney and Broots.

"Oh, goody the gang's all here," Parker cooed sarcasm dripping, as she accepted the file from Broots hand, scanning the contents.

"Miss Parker?" Mr. Cox said with that thin grin that looked like a pleat, only horizontal.

"A lead," Sydney replied to his question, as Miss Parker left the room, followed by himself and Broots.


She pulled the quilts and blankets down from the bed and then lowered Jarod's body onto it carefully. She undressed him, by the soft light that came from the nightstand, cursing the man responsible for this. Then she began to wash him, the warm water touching him, the nerves of his bruised skin coming alive, making his muscles twitch and jump.

His hands were cold, so she held them to her lips and breathed her warm breath on them, rubbing them gently. There were marks on his wrists from the cuffs, threadlike cuts that would leave scars. Parker began to search him with her fingers, feeling for the spot where his ribs were broke. Placing her head to his chest, she listened. A little wheezing, a briused lung that would heal with plenty of rest. She laid a towel filled with ice across his eyes, than packed plastic bags of ice around his bruised chest covering them with a blanket to keep them in place.

Another Parker, in another world, would have left him in the cell and walked away but the business that he had started wasn't completed and the revelations that had come at his expense, made her realize that she couldn't leave him down there. There would be no victory today for her father, she thought as she walked into the kitchen and brewed some herbal tea. Returning with the cup in hand, she tested it with her finger, hot, then placed it on the night table to let it cool. Settling herself against the headboard of the bed, she placed his head in her lap then raised it slightly and let him sip the tea. He coughed, but little blood came up, the cold compresses doing the work that she had intended them to do.

After an hour, he was able to sip more from the cup-though he did not seem awake when she held it to his lips. She changed the compresses and placed oinment to his cuts that marked his wrists. Then she felt him cross over in to a deep slumber, the herbal tea doing what she had brewed it for. Laying next to him, at arm's length, her fingers barely touching his arm, she too slept, for when she woke, streaks of golden daylight came through the window. She sat up to tend to her patient, only to find him awake, as well.

"I've died, right," he mumbled.

"Grim reaper doesn't want you yet, Jarod," she chuckled softly, the sound of it surprising him as well as herself," Open your eyes."

He reached up and removed the wet towel from his eyes, yet his swollen lids remained closed.

"Can't," he said.

"Come on try."

His eyes opened and he looked at her, he did not smile.

"I see you," he whispered, " I know what this cost you, Parker."

She stared at him, wanting to turn away but couldn't, she forgot how he could read her, and see the pain and sadness in her eyes.

"Jarod. . I . .. I had to. . ."

"There's some unfinished business to take care of," he said softly.

Feedback please :
Part 2 by Shannon
Disclaimer is in part one. Don't own the characters but do like to play with them. . . I want to thank Niceole and Trish for proofing this . . . .you both were right it flows so much better. . . . .Shannon

~~~~~~~~~"All the fabric of my reign, little by little, is beginning to fall."~~~~~~~~
Elizabeth I (1603)


Fraying Fabric
by Shannon

"I see you," he whispered, " I know what this cost you, Parker."

She stared at him, wanting to turn away but couldn't, she forgot how he could read her, and see the pain and sadness in her eyes.

"Jarod. . I . .. I had to. . ."

"There's some unfinished business to take care of," he said softly.

"Right now the only unfinished business is for you to get well," she brushed her hand across his brow, noting that he was warm to her touch, " Go back to sleep, Jarod. Rest, just rest."

The worst is still to come, isn't it Jarod, she thought to herself, solemnly, as she watched him close his eyes. Soon his breathing changed, indicating that he returned to the land of slumber. She sat there and stared at him and thought about everything that led up to this moment. She thought so much that her head started to hurt. The days to come made her fearful, what had he discovered that led him g to getting caught as well as taking the beating he had received. Damn sweepers, they almost killed him. Her father left him down in the deepest cell that only a few even knew existed. If it hadn't been for Angelo, she would still be trying to track him down in the outside world. No one had told her that he was back. She almost wondered if it was so that she didn't leave. What horror had he uncovered to add to her already topsy-turvey life?


Angelo inched his way along the air ventilation duct. Ahead of him on the right was another duct, that one led to the Chairman's office. He headed down it, stopping when he reached to air grate, his computer was already set-up and soon he opened his internet connection.

"He got out," the Chairman snarled," Question is how?"

Mr. Parker sat in the black leather chair and stared hard at the two men that stood on the opposite side of the desk. Each shuffled awkwardly at the question the man just posed.

"He's Jarod, did you except the cell to hold him, even in the bowels of the Centre," the voice belonged to Mr. Lyle, who's cool demeanor betrayed his nervousness at the situation.

"Lyle, besides Mr. Cox, myself and the sweepers that got a little excessive in the force they had to use to bring him in, you were the only other person that knew he was back. My biggest problem is that he didn't have the information on him or if he even accessed it."

"What information would that be?"

"Something that if it fell into the wrong hands could destroy the delicate fabric of the Centre."

"So, you're accusing me of helping the lab rat. Or are you curious if I told anyone that he was here? The answer to that is NO, infactically, NO! I'm not an id . iot. . . . ."

"Mr. Lyle, it seems that a light bulb lit up in that brain of yours. Care to enlighten your father and I," Mr. Cox said, slowly, turning to look at the chairman.

"The Centre idiot. . . .Angfreak. He could have helped him or told Sydney that he was back. He did it the last time when Jarod was back, took Sydney to see him, I mean."

"Or is it possible that your sister helped him escape?" Mr. Cox questioned the man.

"Please be serious, she wants him back safe and sound so that she can leave," Lyle replied," And anyway she was with us when he escaped. Why would she join his side after all this time? Or is there something you're not telling me? Perhaps the information that Jarod has, could it be useful to Parker?"

The two men passed a discreet glance in the others direction, which was lost on Mr. Lyle but not lost on the interloper in the shaft above them.

"Jarod knows truth. Tell daughter. Daughter betrayed by father," whispered the voice, as fingers flew across the computer keyboard.


Turning from the window, she looked over at the slumbering form, her mind wandering down a path that had not been traveled for a long time. Her relationship with Jarod. A relationship more complicated than life, itself.

Not that Jarod wasn't a friend. He had been, a long time ago. And in his eyes, he still was. When she learned of his friendship with Thomas, of his role as matchmaker, it lead to some nasty feelings of ambivalence. Perhaps they were understandable after all if Jarod hadn't sent Thomas into her life, Tommy would still be alive. Restoring homes and hearts, somewhere. On the other hand, she'd never have felt as loved as she had when with Tommy. He had found a piece of her, a piece she had believed died the day her mother did.

So basically, it came down to mixed feelings toward the Centre, which was working to destroy something that destroyed so much of their lives, already. And now. How did she feel about Jarod? How would she feel about whatever truths he had discovered? Here. Today. Truth be told, she was scared. Scared that the life she had led all these years was nothing but a fabrication of someone else's truth.

feedback sent to and remember that I am only 13 3/4
Part 3 by Shannon
Disclaimer is in part one .

Fraying Fabric
by Shannon
( who has since starting this turned 14)

She sat down at the small table where she could see the entire room, especially the person that lay sleeping on the bed. Sipping a cup of herbal tea, she savored the solitude. At the Centre, she had not been allowed such luxuries like peace and quiet. Funny how her current situation had come upon her. Jarod would never let her forget it, but first of all she had to accept it. That was the hard part--accepting the truth something that never came easy for her. Tightening her fingers around the cup, she drained it and continued to watch him sleep. A restless sleep, each move causing his body to protest its every movement. Earlier in the week, he had told her that they had unfinished business. She continued to put off the inevitable, yet she knew that sooner or later she would have to deal with whatever discovery he had made.

"Parker, how long?" his voice was low and gravelly, as if something had permanently constricted his throat.

"Almost a week," she replied, softly.

"Won't they worry about you?" he began to find the strength in his voice returning.

"No, I took care of it," she placed the tea cup on the table, looking straight at him.

"Are you ready to talk, yet? Or do you want to continue to pretend that what I uncovered isn't true?" he said, sharply.

"What are you talking about Jarod?" she said, as she approached the bed, and took a seat on the opposite side of him.

"The end, Parker. The end," he stated, solemnly as he looked her in the

"Of what?"

"The Centre, the chase. . . ."

"Could you be a little more specific?"

"I'm talking about the total erosion of the fabric which holds the Centre together."

"That being?"

"You and me, Parker. It's always been about you and me. Nothing more, nothing less. From the very beginning they threw us together, then watched us grow close, only to rip us apart, then throw us together. . . .time and time again. It's been about us, so ask yourself, why?"

"Okay, genius. . . .Why?"

"We are the Centre, Parker. The rest is window dressing. It's us-they can not function without us, Parker."

"I can understand them wanting you, but me. . . ."

"Parker, they achieved the ultimate goal from their latest project, one your father sanctioned. A combination of both of us. The baby."

"No, he wouldn't do that. He couldn't do that." her eyes wide with not only horror but with shock.

"Wake up, Parker! He sanctioned it. . . .he talked the triumverate into it. . . .all for what . . . .another pretender. One that he could hand over," he struggled to sit up, his hand reaching out to touch her. Pulling back, she rose from the bed, making her way to the foot of it, still processing the information that he's just given her," It's the truth. I've never lied to you and I'm not about to start now."

"No, no, no," she replied as she turned and left the room, making her way down the hallway to the bathroom. Slamming the door shut, she turned the lock and sat herself down on the countertop, thinking. She heard him walk down the hall with delibrate slowness. His briused ribs making it rather difficult, yet she forgot about that when she heard him take hold of the doorknob. It turned slowly.

"Don't even think it wonder-boy?" she shouted.

"Come on Parker. Out," he said softly," Turning a blind eye to the truth isn't going to make this go away, Parker. Now open the door."


"I'm sorry, truly I am, but . . ."

"He wouldn't do that, he couldn't!"

"Parker, think about who we are talking about. He never even asked you if it was a boy or girl. Why? Because he knew. That envelope that you saw, marked 'Medical records for baby Parker', his agitation when you questioned him? The fact that he gave you the wrong key. . . .shows that he knew that envelope was in that strong box and if you had opened it at the Centre, it wouldn't have been there when you went back to see him. Admit it, Parker. He didn't need the money, he needed the envelope. If it helps to talk about things, I'm listening."

"That's a new one coming from Mr. Hang-up, himself. I'll leave the couch sessions for Sydney."

"Well, the way I see it, Sydney isn't here at the moment, and I am."

She hopped off of the countertop and with an angry flick of her fingers, she reached for the lock on the door, tugging it quickly. She emerged from the bathroom, approached him menacingly, her blue eyes boring into his.

"Want me to re-break those ribs of yours?" she asked, in a low growl.

He opened then closed his mouth, shaking his head in the negative, then shrugged his shoulders, groaning softly.

"Oh, no you don't, Jarod?" You have something else you want to tell me, so why don't you spell it?"

Jarod looked almost miffed.

"Would you listen with an open mind, no more running and locking oneself in the bathroom?" he grimanced, sightly and placed a hand across his chest holding onto his ribcage.

"Do I have a choice? she bit back, eyeing him crictically, realizing suddenly that the trek down the hall bothered him more than he let on.

"You always have a choice, Parker. It's what you do with it once its presented to you," he whispered as he leaned against the wall, his breathing ragged.

"What the hell did you do, Jarod?" she reached out and touch his side, and he pulled back but not before wincing in pain.

"It's nothing," he stated, heading down the hallway toward the bedroom, "I'll be fine, I just need to retape them. No need to concern yourself."

"You arrogant son-of-a-bitch," her blue eyes level with his dark brown ones," I risked everything to get you the hell out, turning my back on my family and you tell me not to concern myself."

"Some family, Parker. A master manipulator and a serial killer," he spat back, then stopped talking when she looked away from him. He suddenly realized something about the both of them, they were like twins born to separate families, both wary, even of their own reflections.

Thanks to Niceole and Trish for suggestions. . . . if there are any errors they are mine and mine alone. . . . .hopefully to be continued.. . . .feedback is welcome. . .


feedback sent to
Part 4 by Shannon
Disclaimer is in part one but this includes all season to the present so if you haven't watched or seen the newest episodes it includes spoiler but they have been twisted to fit my need for this story and do not reflect the writers or producers take on the situation. . . . .i apologize for forgetting to insert the WARNING in part 3.

Fraying Fabric
by Shannon

Parker guided him to the edge of the bed, easing him into a sitting position. Pulling his tee shirt up, she carefully removed the tape from around his mid section, gently. Inhaling deeply as Parker re-taped his ribs, he retreated into himself. It was during this time that she noticed a wheezing to his breathing, for the past week, she had attributed it to the bruised lung, yet it seemed to be worsening. After finishing the task, she pulled his tee shirt down around his torso and began to ease him back against the pillows. Jarod blinked and returned to the world, as he felt the softness of goosedown behind him. Parker pulled the coverlet up around him, her hand brushing the hair from his fevered forehead. Jarod suddenly sat up and sucked in a deep breath, which caused him to cough. A dry, wracking cough. When the spasm passed, she eased him back against the pillows.

"Get him out, Parker. Get our son out," he wheezed.

"I will, with your help," she looked into dark, glassy eyes.

"I won't be of any use to you, Parker. You have to do this on your own."

"Of course, you'll help me. I can't do it on my own."

He shook his head and struggled to sit up, her hands forcing him to stay.

"No, I won't. That's what I haven't told you."


"Was going to take him. Take him away."

"And not tell me. God-damn it, Jarod, I have a right to know," she demanded, fury flashing, briefly.

"After he was safe. I was going to send you to him," he said softly.

"What changed?"

"My last pretend----it went wrong."

"Wrong? You found the killer, I saw the clippings in the notebook," she said still not comprehending what he was trying to tell her.

" Parker," his dark eyes locked on to her blue ones," I'm . . . ." he lasped into a coughing fit. Parker held him close, noticing for the first time since helping him escape that he looked frail. Jarod recovered from the coughing fit, wiped his mouth with his hand and noticed the smear of blood on the backside.

"Rest," she said.

"No," he choked. He motioned for her to come closer to him. Sitting next to him, Parker could barely hear the pretender's words; his broken sentences were interrupted by great gasps for air and fits of coughing.

"You need to go back. Several envelopes will be arriving . . . need to be there to receive the one that's double postmarked. It contains all the information. This damage is permanent. Nothing can help. . . ." His voice died, his eyes closed. She looked at him, just looked. It felt as if someone pinched a loose thread and pulled, unraveling the weave of the material that bound them together. Lifting herself off of the bed, she made her way to the wooden door. Exiting the room, she made her way down the stairs, finding Ben in the kitchen.

"How is he?" the older man asked, looking up from the paper he was reading.

"He's sleeping, fitfully. Look, I need to go back. He sent something to the office before all of this happened and I really need to be there to get it. Do you mind. . . ." she started to ask the question.

"I'll look after him, that is until you return."

" As much as I hate to leave him, he's so weak," she ran a hand through her hair, and glanced back toward the doorway from which she entered," If he worsens, please. . . ."

"You'll be the first one I call."

"Thank you," she mumured, softly," I'd best get back to him and tell him that I'm heading back to the cesspool."


Broots fidgeted while he stood just outside the chairman's office, Sydney uncannily calm at his side. The computer geek wished he could be in front of his computer, actuallly working on anything other than finding Jarod. Across from the two men and down the hallway, were the chairman and Mr. Cox approaching slowly.

"What's with that guy, Syd?" Broots asked in a whisper.

"He's opinionated, recalcitrant, arrogant, and at the moment fearful----"

"What's he got to be fearful of?" Broots inquired.

"The unknown," Sydney replied.


"It's been a week and Jarod hasn't made any contact with them regarding his escape."

"But. . . ."

"I overheard Lyle, they're afraid that the beating the sweepers inflicted did more damage than previously thought. He suggested that perhaps they start canvasing the hospitals and morgues for possible John Does that fit Jarod's description."

Four heads stopped their talking as each heard the distinct sound of the elevator doors hiss open to reveal in regal glory, Miss Parker. She wasn't alone, Lyle was with her, reveiwing a red notebook in his hand, Parker's features hard and drawn as she continued to glare at him. Her hand snaked out and snatched the notebook from his, as she exited the metal cage and approached the others that watched the scene unfold.

"I wasn't done with that," Lyle spat.

"Really, looked done to me, Lyle," she snapped back, then turned her icy eyes toward her father and Cox," So nice of you to inform me that the labrat was caged."She watched the three men cringe at her use of the word caged.

"You haven't learned a thing regarding him, have you," she shook her head, a smile on her face," He doesn't stick around longer than necessary. Oh and as for the beating, he's a pretender or did you forget." She handed the notebook to her father and watched Cox grip it in his bony fingers. Releasing it quickly as though bit by a snake, she turned and started to walk away, pausing only briefly.

"Broots, Sydney, my office now! They can figure it out with out my help."

The trio stepped into the elevator and heavy hung the silence that filled the confined space.

"Diplomacy still isn't your strong suit, is it Miss Parker," Sydney chuckled lowly, as he turned toward the young woman.

She smiled with amusement, then turned to Broots, with that look in her eyes. A look that made Broots want to push the stop button in the car and scramble up the cables to get as far away as possible.

"Broots," she nearly purred.

"Yessss, Miss Parker," he stammered.

"You have connections in the mail room, don't you?"

"Campbell, why?"

The doors to the elevator glided open, and the trio stepped out into the corridor and made their way toward Miss Parker's office. Sydney pushed open the door, and allowed Parker to enter before the men. Sitting on her desk was a legal size envelope, she picked it up and handed it to Sydney.

"From Jarod?" he inquired.

"No, but there's one down in the mail room from him and I need it. Broots."

"OHhhh man, sheeesh," he muttered as he headed out of the office door again leaving the good doctor and Miss Parker standing there.

"Take this one to the boys, Syd. I want to see them have fun playing Hide and Seek," she grinned evilly.

"You're playing a dangerous game, Parker. How is. . . . ."

" I'm not sure Syd. Something's not right, depressed isn't the right word but. . ."


The discussion was interrupted by the return of Broots, who was carrying a couple of manilla envelopes all of them addressed to Miss Parker. Laying them down upon her desk, she rapidly scanned them, singling out the one with the correct postmark; she gathered the others as well and handed them to Sydney.

"Here, take these to," she watched Sydney leave the room, that look of concern written all over his features," Go, Broots."

"But if its from Jarod won't you need me to . . . ." he stopped. She glared at him and pointed toward the door.

"Go!" Her hands gripping the envelope tightly, watching the computer techie head out the door,"Wait!"

"Yes, Miss Parker," he turned around still holding the door open.

"The doctor from Jarod's last pretend. All the information that you can find on him, I want it on my desk," she said.

"I'll get right on it, Miss Parker."

"And Broots, not a word, not one word," she watched the door swing silently shut. Lowering herself into the leather chair behind the desk, she picked up the letter opener from the desk top and slit the envelope open. Out slid three DSA disks, in their protective sleeves, as well as a stack of paper-clipped documents. It was the top document that left her stunned. Quickly she gathered up the three DSA's and the papers; grabbing an envelope from her desk, she placed the documents inside and placed the DSA's in her coat pocket. A quick scrawl on the front of the envelope and it was ready, so with the envelope in hand, Parker left her office. A glance over toward the computer terminal yielded nothing, she'd given him an important task and if that meant rifling through hard copy files, he'd be doing it. And Sydney wasn't back yet, she had time.

Heading down the corridor, her pace faster than normal but trying so hard not to be obvious, Parker stood just outside the room that had been converted over into a nursery for the baby. Inhaling deeply, she pushed open the door and found the nurse walking toward the crib with a bottle in hand. Parker was first to reach the little boy before the nurse and lifted him out, cradling him protectively to her chest.

"I wasn't sure you were going to feed him, today?" the nurse said as she handed her the bottle.

"I would have sent word, if I couldn't make it," Parker replied, sharply, then turned her attention back to the little boy in her arms and watched as eager lips attached themselves to the nipple," Don't you usually take your break about now?"

"Yes, Miss Parker," the woman turned and left the room, anixous to be away from her charge for a brief respite.

" How's my boy?" Parker whispered, saying the words she always said when she visited but feeling so much more this time. He looked up at her with innocent eyes and a small grin broke out from around the bottle's nipple, a sure sign that he knew who held him. She made her way to the rocking chair that was nestled in the corner of the room, and lowered herself into it, adjusting the baby's position in her arms.

A slight shadow caught her attention from the room to her left, she found the good doctor standing just inside the door.

"Stop gawking, Syd. I can tell from the look on your face that you have something to say. So say it."

"They sent Lyle to find him, why did you turn over the information, Parker?"

"Syd, of all people, you, should know me better than that," she smiled," He's going to return empty-handed."

"You were telling me about Jarod before Broots walked in. You said something about depressed. "

"No, I said that wasn't the right word for it. . . .its as though he's given up. He said something about his last pretend going wrong, but Syd, we both know that the Doctor was arrested and convicted of murdering his colleague," she shook her head, confusion clearly written on her features.

"Perhaps there was something that happened that he feels he could have prevented, and its gnawing at him. So until he comes to terms with whatever happened, he's going to exhibit symptoms of depression."

The sudden chiming of a clock on the nurse's desk, startled Parker and her eyes quickly darted toward the door.

"He's not coming, that's why I'm here. He's huddled in his office with Mr. Cox. Talk to me, Parker."


"Whatever Jarod sent you in that envelope."

"Just a thread to follow, Syd," she said and turned her attention back to the baby.

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Part 5 by Shannon
Disclaimer is in part one. . . .this story has taken a different path than originally intended . . . . .Feedback is appreciated.Contains SPOILERS from season 4 so be warned. . . .

Fraying Fabric
par 5
by Shannon

When we are young
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal---
For a limited time.

"And are you going to follow this thread, Miss Parker?" Sydney asked, concern mirrored in his eyes, as he watched her feed her baby brother.

He believed that her concern for her baby brother stemmed from the fact that she was the one that brought him into this world and with the death of Brigette, she had not only accepted the role of big sister but surrogate mother as well. He wondered what would have happened between the two women, if Brigette had lived. Jarod had given her a small part of a very big puzzle that was still missing many of it pieces and for that she was grateful. She had some closure regarding Thomas Gates' death but not all the answers had come out of that revelation. Now it seemed that Jarod was again holding the needle and she had to follow where the thread lead.

"To the very end, Syd," she removed the bottle from the baby's mouth and carefully wiped the small droplets of formula from the corner of his mouth before she placed him over her shoulder, patting his back gently.

"I thought you hated unraveling Jarod's little mysteries," he inquired, walking closer to the rocking chair.

"This is one mystery that has me intrigued, Syd. I just have to follow the thread through the maze," she smiled as a burp escaped the baby's lips," What a good boy!"

"You'll tell me when the time is right, won't you?" Sydney said as he turned and headed toward the door. " I'd like to help, in any way that I can."

"If and when, Syd" she leaned her head back in the rocker as she watched the tall figure retreat out of the nursery. Reaching a hand into the pocket of her cranberry jacket, Parker removed a small glass vial that housed what looked like a small plastic toothbrush. With great care, she gently and carefully placed the toothbrush in the baby's mouth and scraped the side of his cheek. Removing the brush, she slide it into the glass vial, capped it and then placed it in her pocket. She then resumed the rocking motion, and cuddled the infant close to her until he fell asleep in her arms. It wasn't until the nurse returned that Miss Parker left the nursery and went in search of Broots.


"And?" she whispered, causing the startled technician to jump.

"Doctor Wallace Cooper was arrested three months ago on murder charges He's at the Alden Falls Correctional Facility serving 30 years."

"He murdered his colleague didn't he," Miss Parker glared at the man," Well?"

"Presley Stuart, was found murdered in her home. Police originally believed that she had come home to find a burglar in the house. Jarod was the one that lead the police to Cooper's doorstep, so to speak. Cooper and Stuart worked for a company called BioTech. It's a medical facility that does research on genetic diseases as well as other projects. Stuart was working on what she hoped would be a breakthrough for CF."

"Get to the point, Broots," she snapped.

"Doctor Cooper was on someone else's payroll. Seems that BioTech is owned by a company, called Genetomics. Stuart discovered that there was more than research going on."

"What Broots? I can't shoot you or I'd never find out."

"Genetomics is the leading facility regarding research on the human genome in the country, Miss Parker and its owned impart by a group that we are very familiar with. . . ." he looked her in the eyes, shaking his head.

"The Centre," she whispered," So that's why Dr. Stuart died, isn't it, Broots?"

"She discovered that Cooper was involved with a classified project for Genetomics, which involved maniuplating the human genome to create designer babies, that's what lead Jarod to BioTech, in the first place. Cooper's speciality before heading into research was obstetrics. He taught at Harvard Medical, until taking the position at BioTech in 1998. "

Miss Parker's head shot up at the mention of Harvard Medical School but didn't say anything and motioned for Broots to continue.

"It was Cooper that set Jarod up, Miss Parker. Cooper knew who Jarod was, how I have no idea but he figured that he would score points with the Centre. Cooper contacted someone here at the Centre and you will never in a million years guess who. . . " he smiled.

"Cox," she whispered, and watched the grin from his face fade.

"When they caught Jarod, though, they left Cooper out in the cold. How did you know? About Cox?"

"Something that he mentioned in passing a few months ago," she replied," So how did they tempt the wonder boy?"

"I'm not sure exactly but whatever information Cox gave to Cooper for Jarod to discover, he not only took it, but dug further, something they figured on. He broke into the Centre's mainframe, downloaded information that only your father and Mr. Cox had access too. Then about a week after that some hard copy files from the archives disappeared.


"Whatever he downloaded is missing from the mainframe."

"Copies, somewhere?" she said questioningly, then realized that she had the only copies, now thanks to Jarod.

"None but that's not the end of it, Miss Parker, " he stopped himself, glanced around the room, leaned closer to her, then continued," He came back."

"Why would he risk coming back to a place he hated?" the voice came from just inside the doorway. Parker looked up and Broots turned around to see Sydney standing there, arms cross, patiently awaiting an explaination.

"That's just it, I think he wanted to get caught," Broots said as he walked over to the DSA reader and inserted a silver disc. She and Sydney watched in fascinated horror as Jarod struggled to get away from the two sweepers, and yet. . . .

"He's taking the beating and not putting up much of a fight," Broots stated.

"Obviously," she snapped, so he had come for the boy.

"Question is why?" Sydney said as he turned and leveled an icy stare at Miss Parker," And you know why he did it, don't you? It has something to do with that envelope he sent you."


A shudder wracked the pretender's frail body, his face twisted in pain, but he did not fall. He closed his eyes, lines of worry and doubt washed over him. He slumped forward, weakly catching hold of the countertop to steady himself. Making his way back to the bed, he slipped under the covers and drifted into a restless sleep.

The dreams came. Jarod felt his lungs seize and his breathing became harder. It was as though he was drowning without the water. Jarod woke to find Ben standing over him, shaking him gently.

"Jarod," the older man said, softly, his hand on his shoulder," I think that I should call her, don't you?"

"No!" he whispered, then began to cough and Ben pulled a chair closer to the bed. His coughing spasm had grown worse, he was exhausted, in obvious pain; his skin burned to the touch.

"Jarod, she'll kill us both, if I don't call her," Ben said again, more forceful than before.

"Sweet release," he murmured.


"Death's road we all must go," Jarod said, somberly.

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Part 6 by Shannon
Fraying Fabric part 6. . . Feedback is nice. . . . .Disclaimer in parts 1-5. . ..spoiler warnings

Fraying Fabric
par 6
by Shannon

Jarod felt a surge of nausea rise up from his stomach and it forced him to stop moving. Checking his breathing, he forced air into his nose, let it fill his lungs and then exhaled from his mouth. The nausea passed.

"You're burning up," Ben said as his hand brushed Jarod's forehead," I have no choice, I have to call her."

"No, you can't," he rasped as he grasped the older man's arm," Wait until tomorrow, please."


"And you know why he came back, don't you? It has something to do with that envelope he sent you," Syd repeated.

"Partly," Parker took a deep breath, then took the seat in her chair; folding her arms on the desktop with her fingers interlaced, palms down, elbows out, "What the hell do you want me to say?"

"The damn truth," Sydney retorted, angrily.

"Then we need to take a trip to Alden Falls Correctional Facility and visit Dr. Wallace Cooper. I'm not even sure what's going on?" she replied as she leaned forward her gaze never leaving Syd's.

"The Genetomics doctor?" Syd responded.

"The one and only. Perhaps he can loosen the knot in the thread," Miss Parker mumured.

"What are you going to tell your father?" Broots said quietly.

"Nothing!" she snapped and headed toward the door, stopping in the middle of the doorway, looking over her shoulder, "Well!"


The evening had gone wrong from minute zero: Broots' caregiver for Debbie was late and so they had to race to the airport, only to learn that take-off was delayed. One hour. Then two. Once in the air, she had planned on Broots to set up his laptop computer, so that they could dig further into Cooper and Cox's relationship.

It didn't happen.

Yo-yo turbulence rode them all the way to Alden Falls making reading the computer screen a nauseating experience. Sydney had tried to doze, but failed, miserably. Then the thunderstorms that delayed them in Delaware forced them in to a holding pattern until the storms passed. Another hour lost, and so was her patience. The trio arrived in Alden Falls, late at night, so they hailed a taxi and found the closest hotel to the prison.
Parker massaged the back of her neck as she rode up in the elevator. It was hard to keep her eyes open, and she didn't bother to hide a yawn. Right now she was having trouble remembering her own name. She turned the key over in her hand, then inserted it into the lock, pushed into the room, flicked on the light switch, slammed it behind her and made for the bed.

The first rays of sunlight broke through the vertical blinds casting webs on the far wall, rolling herself out of bed, she headed for the bathroom. Thirty minutes later, she emerged dressed in her black suit, a quick survey of herself in the mirror. Then by slipping her sunglasses on, a small smile graced the corners of her mouth, pleased with the completed look she needed, in order to intimidate Cooper.

She had placed the call to the prison warden before leaving Delaware, setting up the appointment for early this morning. It was during the flight and its many delays, that she realized that taking Sydney and Broots with her to meet with Dr. Cooper may seem like an ambush. She was also unsure of what he had to tell, and if the news was as bad as she thought, then she couldn't risk Sydney's reaction to it. Not yet anyway.

The rental car had been delivered, and the clerk at the front desk gave her the keys and directions to the Correctional Facility. The parking lot was on the south side of the hotel, through a gated entry in the side wall. As she slipped behind the wheel, Parker noted the car was equiped with every gadget known to Detroit. It took her a few seconds to get oriented and a few seconds more before she convinced herself that she wasn't charging headlong into foolishness. She realized that she had to concentrate on the why and hope that the how would follow.

God, how she hoped.

She pulled out into the street and headed east, passing through the town, obilvious to the surroundings. She checked her rearview mirror, twice. Habit. Hour and a half later, she found herself on the paved road that lead to the entrance of the prison. Stopping at the gate, she peered over the rims of her sunglasses, at the guard that greeted her, his clip board in hand.

"Warden Marsden," were the only words spoken as the guard nodded, and pointed her in the direction of the main building. The air conditioning had been shut off. The room was stifling, Parker took a seat in the chair in front of the desk while the warden remained standing. Clive Marsden was tall, lean, and middle-aged. His eyes green, and he bore a scar that ran from left cheek to under his chin.

"Cooper's in the infirmary," he told her.

Her shoulders rose a little at that, but he put her at ease quickly.

"He's assigned there during his stay with us."

"You're kidding!" she said dryly," You make it sound like a vacation."

"No, he's supervised. Ready?"

Parker stood and looked none to subtly at the door.

She followed the warden through a series of corridors, waiting at each end for the guard to open the steel mesh gates. The clanging of the metal began to irritate her and by the time they reached the infirmary, her nerves were frayed. The warden stopped and glanced around the room, his eyes seeking the person that had brought her to this dismal place.

"Cooper," the voice wasn't loud but the authority it commanded caused a man in his late forties, almost as tall as her to turn around. His chin was narrow, a pencil thin mustache rode his upper lip, and steel-gray hair framed his face.

"Yes, Warden Marsden," he walked gracefully toward them and it was then that Parker noticed his eyes. . . .slate gray and devoid of any human emotion.

"You have a visitor," he said," You can use Doctor Thompson's office. I'll wait."

Cooper walked with a certain grace and air of confidence into the small room that the Warden indicated and she followed. She watched as the warden shut the door behind them and Cooper took a seat behind the file cluttered desk. She took the seat opposite him, and sat back, her fingernails tapping on the folder that she held. Looking directly at the man across from her, she swallowed, then handed him the picture that was attached to the front of the folder. He took the picture, studied it carefully, then handed it back.

"Jarod Watson. So?"

"You know him."

"Knew," he replied, as he cleared away some of the clutter then leafed through the desk calendar.

"He's responsible for your being here, isn't he?"


Parker glared at the man opposite her, feeling as though she was pulling at a loose thread that had snagged and was afraid that if she pulled to hard, it would unravel completely.

"Not if I can help it," her tone defiant as she pushed herself out of thechair and leaned across the desk. She spared a brief glance to make sure thewarden's eyes were elsewhere before she grabbed Cooper's shirt collar.

Parker stormed into her hotel room, slammed the door shut behind her, flung the car keys across the room, and began to shake. She dropped down upon the bed, grabbed the pillow and tried to rip it open with her nails, but tossed it aside before she began to sob. Tears streamed down her cheeks, coating her lip with the taste of salt and then dripped down her chin. Sitting around thinking about what was revealed to her wasn't going to accomplish a thing. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hands and leaned forward, elbows to knees. That's when her telephone rang. She had no intention of answering it. Let it ring. It was probably the Centre, wanting a progress report. The hell with them.

When she finally stood, she swayed. Staggering to the bathroom, she caught her reflection in the mirror and gripped the sides of the basin as ripples of nausea and dizziness passed. Wash up, she ordered herself, wash up, change and then find Sydney. It was the one thing that she dreaded. Telling Sydney that . . . .

It wasn't fair.

She threw the towel. Personally, she wanted to break the god damn mirror.

Ten minutes later, she closed the door and was knocking hard on Sydney's door, one heel tapping impatiently.

"You. Me. Breakfast now."

Sydney stepped outside and followed her. He'd seen this look in her eyes before, this sense of determination and knew not to push it. She gestured toward the restaurant. Once at the table, she took a deep breath and . . . .then she told him. She told him that the man they both cared for so much was growing weaker by the day and that soon his days would come to an end. Then she watched as this man who had been like a father to her crumbled. She moved closer and put her hand on his back. His sobs slowed, then stopped when he looked up, his eyes cloudy with tears, his voice cracking as he spoke.

"Sorry, Parker. It's just . . . .I feel . . . "

"I know, " her tone undecipherable. The muffled ringing of Parker's cell phone, interrupted. Reaching behind her back, she removed the device, flicking it open, annoyed at the interruption.

"Wh. . . at?" the familiar reply, withered on her lips the moment she heard the voice on the other end. Sydney watched as her facial features went from annoyed to scared in mere seconds. As Parker snapped the phone shut, Sydney saw her hands tremble, then noticed that her entire frame was beginning to shake.

"Parker," Sydney asked, concern for her evident. She looked up from the tablecloth into kind, sad eyes and started to speak when she was seized with such total panic that she couldn't move. It was at this moment that Parker allowed Sydney to comfort her.

"It's Jarod, isn't it?" his voice breaking. She nodded mutely, tears welling up in her eyes.


A thin sliver of light was visible through the crack under the bottom of the door; he could hear voices, and the light grew bright as the door slowly opened. Parker's eyes flashed as she glanced at Jarod, his face drawn and pale.

Parker knew if she loosened the tight threads she had wrapped around her heart, fear would overwhelm her. Jarod saw the turmoil. She was unusually pale and yet beautiful in the moonlight, and that in itself was timeless. He saw that her jaw was tightly clenched.

"Jarod," she whispered, sitting beside him, she looked into his thin, pale face as he continued to stare at her," Are you all right?" Sweat beaded on his forehead, his hands trembled, his breathing wheezed, and he began to cough. Feeling guilty for causing pain, Parker flushed. He reached up to touch her hair, but pulled back, afraid of rejection. She was aware he moved slightly. She reached out and touched his cheek, her other hand on his chest. She could feel his heartbeat.

"It's all right. It's not your fault that I'm . . . ." he whispered soothingly, feeling her tremble. She didn't speak, only shook her head as she closed her eyes. Jarod began to choke and gag, gasping for air. Parker watched, helpless, until the spasm passed and he lay quiet.

"No, I. . .we won't let you. . ." she said softly after a moment. Jarod tried to laugh, but it turned into a cough, his body twisted from the pain. Rolling to his side, he staggered to his feet and off the bed. He made his way down the hall to the bathroom, where he retched. He leaned back weakly, his lips stained with blood, his hands shaking. His breathing was shallow and fast, his body wracked by another coughing spasm.

Parker, who had followed, stared at him helplessly.

"There's a cure for whatever he did to you, isn't there? I won't have you dying on me, Jarod. Isn't there something someone can do?" she asked softly, not daring to touch him.

For a moment neither spoke. Finally, he lifted a trembling hand from the chill floor and motioned Parker toward him. She bent near him. Reaching up, he touched her cheek, drawing her closer. His breath warm on her skin. He gasped inaudibly. She couldn't understand him, as she took a towel and wiped the blood away that stained his lips. Jarod smiled, then closed his eyes.

"Let's get you back to bed. You need to regain your strength." Opening his eyes. he looked up at Parker and she could see deep within their brown depths. His spirit burned low, giving the eyes a soft warmth much different from the raging fire she had always seen in them before. Helping him to his feet, they made their way back to the bedroom, and she eased him onto the bed.

"Parker. . . ." He breathed," I. . .am going. . .to lose consciousness. . .You . . ." His eyes closed, but his grasp on Parker's hand tightened, as though using her to cling to reality. With a struggle, he opened his eyes again to look directly into her blue ones.

"Get him out, Parker!" he mouthed, then his eyes rolled back in his head.

"Jarod!" she called, grasping his hand in both of her hands and resting her cheek against it. "Jarod, please, I need help. Your help!" she whispered, cringing at the touch of his cold flesh. "I can't do what you ask! I can't do it alone!"

His eyes opened. They were as nearly as dark as the night. Moving his hand, the hand she held, he placed it directly over her heart. Then the hand went limp, his head turned to its side. Jarod awoke from a deep slumber to the sound of voices----

How long had it been since he dreamed he saw her? Months. Yet it seemed to him that he'd been suffering like this all his life. Lifting his hands up in front of his face, examining the bones, veins, and sinew. Suddenly he began to cough uncontrollably, the spasms shaking and convulsing him like a marionette.

Breathing slowly, Jarod forced himself to relax. His eyes closed. His breath refused to enter his lungs. He felt himself begin to lose consciousness, again.

The door opened slowly, and someone entered to room, noiselessly, coming to stop at the foot of the bed. His health was shattered or so it seemed to Sydney, as he watched the young man that he had come to love as a son. His body thin, barely skin and bones. He coughed persistently. Sydney wondered if Jarod would draw breath after each spasm. Sydney watched him toss and turn. He reached for the bedcovers that had been kicked off the pretender's body and tucked them up around Jarod, then made for the door. A glance back at the figure on the bed caused the older man to sag against the door for support, but only briefly. Sydney straightened himself, his reslove returning and exited the room.

Jarod knew he was dreaming, and the dream horrified him----he'd dreamed it for weeks, now. He made his way through the mist that swirled at his feet, obscuring his footing.

Jarod left the clinic just before dark; he was exhausted but the closer he got to home, the closer he got to his wife and their little boy; the faster he found himself going. After all, it was only last year that he was alone and dying.And now, it was their first anniversary together, he'd managed to buy a few more presents; they weren't fancy, just last minute thoughts. He'd finally finished the ring for Parker, and he was already simming the look on her face when he gave it to her, the way her eyes smiled and it gave him the warmest feeling.

For Jacob, he'd bought the cutest, softest teddy bear. It was almost as big as the baby, himself. He reached the house and stepped inside, calling.


No answer.

He frowned and moved forward down the darkened hall, feeling for the lightswitch, his fingers finding it and the lights came on, and he looked into the living room.



A soft sound from the kitchen caught his attention, like something was banging against the cupboards. Jarod felt the fear clambering up his spine. He made his way toward the kitchen, slowly, when his foot encountered a hard object. Reaching down quickly, his hand wrapped around Parker's gun. Pushing himself against the wall, he made for the dark corner of the kitchen. Peeking around the corner, his stomach lurched upward.

Parker lay on the floor, a pool of blood, a gash to her temple. He said her name, without realizing it, and he was on his knees and at her side, putting his arms around her and praying that she was still breathing, that her heart was still beating. He lifted her slightly, but she made a pained whimper, and he pulled his hands away. They were covered in blood, her blood. He'd felt the torn fabric of her shirt at her back, the rough edges of her skin where the blade had entered.

Pushing her hair away from her face, he keep repeating her name over and over.

"Parker, Parker, oh God, don't leave, don't do this. . . . "

Her eyes opened and her mouth moved. He couldn't understand what she was saying, that is until he put his ear by her lips.

She whispered.

"Jacob. . . . "

Suddenly Brooots was there, and Sydney and then Broots was on the phone, calling for help, telling someone on the other end that someone was hurt bad. Sydney crouched, checking Parker's wounds, using his jacket as a bandage, trying to staunch the flow of blood.

Jarod just sat there on the floor, watching as the woman who had made the impossible possible, fade away before his eyes.

Forcing himself to wake, he mustered the strength to thrust off the bedcovers, shivered in the cool air, then literally crawled out of bed. That is how Sydney and Miss Parker found him, standing in front of the window, staring out at the starry night. He coughed, struggled for breath, then smiled weakly at the pair.

"When I die," he said, between breaths," promise. . . ." He was suddenly seized with pain. Agony ran through his body like fiery coals. The stars began to dance in his vision. Doubling over, Jarod collapsed into Sydney's arms. With a firm grip on the pretender's limp body, Syndey carried him back to the bed. Jarod's face was pinched, the lips blue. He had ceased to breath.

She moved to the window, finding comfort in the shadows. The darkness soothed and shaded, softening edges. She heard Sydney's voice, telling her that Jarod had resumed breathing. Leaning against the pane of cool glass, she watched the shadows shift. What was certain in the light became suspect in the dark. The darkness mirrored her life. Like the shadows with which she so indentified, her life was a patchwork of frayed ends and loose threads that invited refitting and mending. She had reinvented herself, over and over to become more inscrutable to those who might try to unravel who she really was, but there was one that she could not deceive. Herself.


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