Mind Rain by missparker87
Chapter 15: Waiting by missparker87
Author's Notes:

We already knew he was alive, but we're finally meeting him during this chapter.
The plan J & Parker were trying to accomplish won't go as they've been hoping...
Not an English speaker, blah blah blah. See previous chapters to know the reasons why I'm not really the best writer around here! :)

BLUE COVE

9.00 a.m.

Major Charles was wearing sunglasses as he looked around, checking the area, and taking care that no one had noticed their presence. Next to him, Jesse was nervously biting his nails, a gesture he had developed in total autonomy and in opposition to Jarod, who had never had that bad habit.

“Stop it, son.” the Major kindly chided him.

“I can’t help it, dad. I’m nervous.” he replied.

As they had agreed, Jarod popped up in front of them at that moment, wearing sunglasses just like his father and showing off the most fictitious encouragement smile ever.

“Dad.” he said, holding the Major. His eyes suddenly fell over Jess. His presence wasn’t part of the plan.

“Why did you bring him with you? This could be dangerous.” Jarod noticed.

“I wanted to be here!” the young man complained. “That agent – ”

“Zane?” Jarod asked.

“Yes, she didn’t stop asking questions about The Centre, Mr. Raines, Lyle…it seemed like she never got enough!” Jesse whined.

“Your statement was useful, then?” Jarod asked him, hoping for a positive answer. He hadn’t had any news from his former NSA colleague, yet.

The Major sighed, “They can’t be ready, Jarod. Zane promised she would do anything possible, but – ”

Jarod sighed too, in a way that resembled his father.

“So, how do we play this?” the Major asked, ready for some action.

“First of all, we’re showing up in a public place. Our presence must be justifiable, this can’t be a father-and-sons picnic. I thought we could hit the mark if we showed up at one of the buildings which covers a branch of The Centre. It’ll be enough to appear in the surveillance videos. And Jesse’s presence is going to be helpful.” Jarod explained, realizing that maybe his father had been right to bring him along.

“However, we need to find a safe place for you both right after that, I don’t want you in the middle of the uproar when this begins.” Jarod went on.

“Son, I’m not a little girl, you know I’m going to help you taking your son out of that place.”

“No, dad.” Jarod stopped him. “This time you’ve got Jesse to think about.”

“I can take care of myself.” The boy shouted in answer.

Jarod put an hand through his hair and ruffled it.

“I know, Jes, you’re much stronger than me. But this plan is complicated, too many persons are in danger already, Miss Parker among them. And she would kill me if she knew that I’ve dragged you into this mess, she cares for you very much.” Jarod explained.

Jarod’s mentioning Miss Parker probably did the trick, because Jesse nodded in resignation, if nothing else because he didn’t want to worry a pregnant woman.

“Ok. Let’s get this party started.”




THE CENTRE
In the meantime

Miss Parker and Sydney were waiting for Broots in her office. He was a few minutes late. Parker was pacing back and forth; her eyes sometimes fell on her laptop monitor with Michael’s room surveillance video. That day, the coming and going inside his room was even more frenetic than usual.

“It won’t be easy to take him out, Syd.”

“Have faith, Parker.” he cheered her up.

Broots peeped out from the door, “I’m sorry I’m late.”

“Where the hell have you been?” Miss Parker growled.

“At t-the phone with Debbie, I wanted to make sure that she’s fine.” he mumbled.

Miss Parker closed her mouth and bit the bullet.

“I’m sorry, Broots.”

He nodded tenderly.

Parker stared at those two men who had followed her for so many years like two loyal puppies, without asking for anything in return. She looked at them full with pride and affection, because she knew that in a couple of hours they would risk their lives to help her to save Michael.

“I want you to know something.” she said.

Sydney and Broots hung on her words.

“I never head a family. My mother disappeared so soon, and my so-presumed father was always working and not very involved.

In these last five years I’ve felt close just to a bunch of people. One of them is out there, acting as bait.”

Sydney smiled tenderly, and so did Broots. The reference to Jarod was obvious.

“The second is…somewhere, hidden in an air duct, but he’s going to come around as soon as the time comes.” Parker kept her breath for a few seconds, thinking about how much she felt close to Angelo at that moment.   

“But if I’m here today, I mostly owe it to the men who are in this room with me. I’ve always considered you like a father and brother, much more than I ever did with Mr. Parker or Lyle. And I know that at times I treated you as doormats, but secretly I’ve always looked for your support.”

Sydney and Broots looked at her, shocked but almost touched by those unexpected words.

“Whatever happens, I will always feel this way.”

Sydney didn’t waste another second before hugging the girl who had turned into the awesome woman in front of himself. Broots stared at the scene with discretion, tears forming at the corner of his eyes.

Sydney took Miss Parker’s face in his hands, “You can always count on us, Miss Parker. Always, no matter what.”

“Always.” Broots confirmed.

She smiled and sniffed, then she regained control of herself. “According to our schedule, we still have half an hour before Jarod’s sighting in Blue Cove. We don’t want them waiting for us, so let’s play our part as planned.”


§§§


“Are you sure this is the place?” the Major asked.
The man didn’t look convinced. His son had explained them that the music shop was a façade for a Centre Data Annex. Years before, when Damon hadn’t come back in Jarod’s life yet, that same structure was hidden behind a curio shop. But after Damon’s massacre, The Centre had to find a new location for the Annex. They had hoped to keep Jarod unaware, but there wasn’t anything that he didn’t know about The Centre branches.
“More than sure.” he answered his father and Jesse, who was looking at him in total awe. He admired his older brother; he was his role model and the thought he would become like him one day filled him with pride. Sometimes it wasn’t fair to be considered like a copy, like a shadow. But Jarod never weighed him with genetics, he’d rather challenge Jesse to show his personal qualities and gifts as a unique individual, to live his existence savoring every little moment the life would offer, was it a taste of a vanilla ice-cream or the love of his beloved ones.
“Let’s go. And remember what we said before…”
“Poker faces.” Jesse repeated, nodding. The Major grinned, noticing how much the boy resembled his older son. Then the three of them moved towards the entrance of the music shop.

Lyle entered Miss Parker’s office without even caring to knock, followed by Mr. Raines and two sweepers.
“Jarod sneaked inside a Data Annex!” he shouted against his sister, glaring at her and Sydney.
“And what the hell should I do about it?” she replied, her fists resting on her hips as she extended her never-ending legs, almost entirely visible because of the miniskirt she was wearing that day.
“Your job is to chase Jarod, and yet he has been seen in Blue Cove twice and you don’t know anything about it!”
Parker had never seen Lyle more furious. Without any doubt his rage derived from the fact that this wasn’t the right day for Jarod sneaking into Centre business.
“Broots, the surveillance videotapes!” Parker shouted.
“Uhm…actually, Miss Parker, I was doing a job for Sydney and – ”
“Now!” she yelled at the technician.
“Y-yes, Miss Parker.” Broots complied.
He sat at his computer, in evident state of agitation, and he started typing codes to get inside the peripheral security system of The Centre. The twins stood behind him along with Sydney and Raines.
Jarod, Major Charles and Jarod’s clone had been recorded while they searched for who-knew-what in a little office filled with computers and data processors.
“But, isn’t that – ” Broots started.
“Gemini.” Raines concluded for him, looking at the boy with a look of absolute lust. He had a chance to find both the pretenders and bring them back to The Centre.
Parker couldn’t stand the idea of hearing Raines calling Jesse with his former project name. But she obviously couldn’t reveal her beloved father that she knew the real name Jarod had given to the individual he considered as a younger brother.
“What the hell were they doing in Blue Cove?” Miss Parker demanded, looking at Sydney.
“Look at the time, sis.” Lyle said, cutting short. “Jarod, his father and the freak were there twenty minutes ago. They could still be around!”
“Jarod is too smart to be caught in such a stupid way.” Sydney replied.   
“Well, let’s move if we want at least to try and to get close, this time.” Miss Parker concluded.
Broots, Sydney and Parker were leaving the office, but Lyle, Raines and the sweepers didn’t move. Parker’s twin was looking at Raines with tension.
Parker glared at him. “I know that Pez-head is always a step ahead of us, but we’ll never catch him if we don’t even try to follow his lead.”
“You go ahead, we can’t.”
“The Africans won’t be here before this afternoon, we have time to go and search for clues. I don’t think the Triumvirate would be glad to know that Jarod’s pursuit was overshadowed by something else.” Parker said.
“You take care of this, sis. After all…, t’s your job to bring Jarod back to The Centre, isn’t it?”
Parker smiled, a bit worried by Lyle’s inquisitive voice. “What do you mean by that?”
“This afternoon you will need much more than Jarod is always a step ahead of us to explain your incessant failures to the Triumvirate.” Lyle whispered, approaching her. He was smiling in satisfaction. And he evidently thought what he was saying, he wouldn’t want to be in her shoes once the Africans would start making questions.
Raines felt that it was the moment to calm tempers when he noticed Miss Parker making a step towards Lyle with a menacing look.
“We don’t have time for family quarrels, now. Parker, go to the Data Annex with Broots and Sydney. Lyle and I must stay back and check on Little Parker.”
Miss Parker tried not to let her agony surface. She upheld Lyle’s gaze for a few seconds more, than she gave up when Sydney put a hand on her shoulder, “Let’s go, Miss Parker.”
“This isn’t over.” she growled through clenched teeth.
“You betcha.” Lyle answered.

Jarod, the Major and Jesse were in a motel outside Blue Cove, waiting for Parker’s call. She was a couple of minutes late, and Jarod was starting to worry. He walked back and forth, always stepping on the same tiles of the floor.
“Calm down, son. She’s going to call.” his father cheered him up.  
“What if something happened? What if they found out?” he asked, starting to become a victim of his own maniacal phobias. The thought of the woman he loved at the mercy of her psychopathic brother Lyle didn’t help his mood.
“Miss Parker knows what she’s doing, Jarod. She doesn’t let anyone decide her own fate, not even you.” Jesse smiled.
“You’re definitely right about that.” Jarod answered, smiling to himself, and relaxing a bit.
Right then, his cell phone rang. He ran to take it, while the other two men in the room approached him with expectation.     
“What?” Jarod asked with tension.
From the other hand, the woman answered while she was in the car with Broots and Sydney. The psychiatrist was driving at cruise speed.
“It seems that we’re chasing you to a Centre Data Annex located a few miles from my house, right in the centre of Blue Cove. Any chance that you are a stalker?” she asked him.
Jarod sighed in relief and waited a few more seconds before answering. “Are you all right?”
The woman was a bit surprised by his worried tone, she had excepted the usual joke in answer to her provocation. But maybe this wasn’t the right time for sarcasm.
“Yes, it’s just the three of us, just as you and Ethan predicted. Lyle and Raines stood behind; they’re babysitting our son.”
“I’m not paying them for the extra hours spent taking care of our baby instead of us.”
And now Parker recognized her pretender. She smiled and Sydney noticed her expression with one eye. It was so beautiful to see Miss Parker so quiet despite the circumstances.
“If everything goes as we hope, maybe these will be the last time.”
“I hope so.” Jarod whispered.
Trying to ease the tension and keep away the tears, Parker made a last note to the pretender. “Oh, Jarod, tell Jesse I say hi and that with each passing year he’s getting even more handsome than you were at his age. Maybe I’m going to need an upgrade in a decade.”
Jarod laughed out loud and looked at Jesse, who stared at him in response, without understanding why the focus was suddenly turned to him.
“This isn’t fair, Miss Parker. It took you so much time, with me.”
“But I fell for you when you were around his age. When I see him, it is normal to feel the desire to leave his older version to embark myself on a sordid affair.”
Sydney looked at her with surprise, he couldn’t believe what Parker had just said. It wasn’t for the joke per sé, but because she had confessed her feelings in front of them. Broots was still too shocked to talk when Parker ended the call by saying. “Be careful. See you at the rendezvous.”.
She made a last smile for something Jarod said to her and then she closed the communication and put away the phone.
“Miss Parker, sometimes your humor gives me the creeps.” Broots commented.
“It’s just skirmishes between lovers, Broots, relax. I’m the only person alive who can take advantage of her partner’s clone as a pretext to make him jealous.”
Broots shook his head, but Sydney wanted to know something different.
“What did Jarod say before hanging up?”
Miss Parker turned and looked at him. Even if Sydney wasn’t moving his eyes from the street, he was leaning towards her.
Noticing Broots’ gaze full of expectations, Parker said. “He said that with each passing day I look more and more like my mother and that he’s proud of me for that.”
Sydney smiled. “He’s right, you know? And Catherine will be proud of you, too, when everything’s over.”
“I hope so.” she whispered, turning her gaze towards the window.

THE CENTRE
1.00 p.m.

“Any sign of Jarod?” Lyle asked, seeing Miss Parker entering her office escorted, as always, by Broots and Sydney.
“Nothing that hit the eye brother, just the usual message to make fun of us.” she explained, giving Lyle a piece of paper.

  One step closer to the truth.
  Tell the Zulus I say hi.
  J

“So far for the element of surprise. Our enfant prodige is aware of your important meeting with the Africans. What do you think, is it time to put on the Centre budget an inspection of our security system?”
Lyle grinded his teeth while Sydney and Broots shared an amused look.
“Raines and I are leaving now. We’re waiting for Hasani at the airport. Alert security and put sweepers at every door. I want every window of this damned place hermetically sealed and guarded. We cannot afford intromissions by Jarod today!”
Miss Parker was expecting such a request, but Lyle didn’t know that it wouldn’t be Jarod getting inside, it would be Angelo bringing the baby out. Raines would never know that one of them was helping Jarod from the inside.
“Let’s go!” Lyle shouted, talking with the sweepers with him.
As soon as her brother moved, Parker made a nod to her colleagues. Sydney and Broots followed her to Angelo’s room. The technician had checked it that very morning, isolating them from indiscreet eyes and ears. They could speak freely.
As soon as they reached it, Angelo stood up from the floor and stared at Miss Parker, smiling. “Angelo…help…Michael.”
The woman gifted him with a smile that could have melted a perennial glacier. “Yes, Angelo.”
The empath smiled.
“Broos, test the connections.” she said to her colleague.
Broots sat at his laptop, monitoring the situation. He put an invisible earphone at his right ear, then he opened the communication.
Carrier talking, Rogue do you copy?” Broots said, going back to the codenames they had used for Reset.     

Outside The Centre, Ethan and Jarod were in position. They didn’t have to do anything, this time, only wait. They sat in a car, with Ethan monitoring the sublevel room where Michael was kept. The boy looked calm, but he had been left alone for a while. Weird, Ethan thought.
Oracle and Rogue in position, ready to receive the package, Carrier” Jarod said, giving a look full of affection to the son he hadn’t been able to hold yet.
“Tell Jarod to stop it with this stupid Mission Impossible nicknames, we don’t have time for pranks!” Miss Parker shouted, getting closer to the desk where Broots was sitting.

Ethan cast an amused gaze at his brother, while Jarod smiled in answer. “And you tell Miss Parker that she’s always the party pooper.”

Broots had put Jarod through speakerphone, with the result that even Sydney and the woman had listened to his sarcastic statement. Parker opened her mouth. “Look who’s talking, you have been a pain in my ass for how long, six years? You know how many parties you did spoil, don’t you?”
Jarod smiled. “Just the ones where you were bored to death because you were missing me, Parker.”
Sydney and Broots shared another look. As usual, Jarod had the last word.
Miss Parker was going to answer back, but she desisted. “What can I do, this man knows me too well.” she concluded, taking Angelo by his arm and leaving the room.   

“Do you think they’re gonna make it?” Ethan asked, starting to bite his nails.
“We have plenty of time before Lyle and Raines get back from the airport.” Jarod answered.
“You didn’t answer my question.” Ethan replied, making a nervous smile.
Jarod sighed, looking at his watch. It was 1.15 P.M.
“What do the voices say?” he asked his brother.
Ethan closed his eyes. “Today they aren’t that loquacious. I hear them in turmoil, and yet they don’t say anything about what’s going to happen. It seems that they’re waiting, too.”
“That’s a pity.”
“Why?” Ethan asked. Jarod looked at him and then took a gun from a suitcase next to him. He took it in his hands and loaded it.
“I hoped you’d give me good news.”
Parker and Angelo were walking across The Centre. At the unaware eyes of the personnel, it looked like the woman was dragging the last survivor of the pretender project around the building.
Parker kept pulling Angelo by his arm; he let her, with that almost-worried look that he always had when he found out something about during the first years of the pursuit.
By now, Angelo wasn’t afraid of Miss Parker anymore, and he showed as soon as they got inside the elevator leading them down to SL-19. Angelo changed his expression and stared at Miss Parker, who shared a fleeting look with him. Then the woman smiled, trying to ease the tension while they waited for the elevator to reach the sublevel where they would kidnap her son.
When she noticed that they were getting closer, Parker pressed the blocking button. Angelo looked at her worried, trying to understand what she wanted to do.
Miss Parker turned, her back towards the door.
“Angelo, are you sure you wanna do this? You’ve just been dismissed, you’re still weak and…”
Realizing that she couldn’t express her feelings to Angelo, the woman sighed and squeezed her eyes, banging her heels on the floor.
“God, why is this so difficult?”
Angelo grabbed her hands and looked at her with encouragement.
“Angelo…help…Michael. Miss Parker and Jarod…finally leave…together.”
The woman stared at him intensely, her wonderful blue-grey eyes were drowning inside the ones of her childhood friend.
“I don’t want anything to happen to you, Angelo.” she whispered.
He smiled and and squeezed her hands. Then he reached the keyboards and pressed again the button, allowing the elevator to restart its descent.
Miss Parker sniffed, keeping her tears in her eyes. She needed to have a clear mind, at that moment.
She took a hand to her right ear activating the earphone just as the elevator reached the floor. The doors opened.
“Broots, we’re in position. Loop the cameras. And let’s hope for the best.” she stated.

Listening to that comment in his earphone and realizing that the most determined and brave woman he’d ever met was afraid, Jarod felt the need to speak.
“We’re right here, Parker. If anything goes wrong, Ethan and I are ready to get in.” he said, giving his brother a look. Strangely, Ethan didn’t give him one of his silent nods, but a worried and absorbed expression. Jarod wondered what he was considering. He couldn’t know that his brother was remembering the conversation he had with Miss Parker just a few hours before.

“Ethan, promise me. If I must sacrifice myself, please promise me that you will drag him away with our son.”
Ethan shook his head again, he didn’t want to listen to her.
“Promise me, little brother.”
“I promise you.”

“You must go over my dead body before stepping a foot inside the Centre.” Miss Parker snapped, exiting the elevator with Angelo at her heels.
“Loop is ready.” Broots said from Angelo’s room.
“I won’t let you down there if something goes wrong!” Jarod reminded her.
“Don’t you dare get close to this place, Jarod, do you understand?” she replied, her whispers becoming like silent screams.
“We won’t need to go that far!” Ethan interrupted them. Jarod stared at him and decided that he was right, this wasn’t the moment to pick up a fight. Parker, on her hand, realized that her brother was keeping his promise. Jarod would be safe if Ethan was with him.
“Let’s go, Angelo.” she whispered.

The steps towards Michael’s room were as silent as possible. Despite the 12 inches stilettos that were raising Miss Parker from the floor, the woman could move as furtively as a cat. Jarod had always appreciated this skill, mostly because it usually allowed him to enjoy the spectacular view of his pursuer’s legs.
Angelo was leading the way towards Michael’s room. When they reached it, they realized that the sublevel was oddly silent and desert, not as they had seen it that morning. There were no sweepers controlling the corridors or the room. This didn’t feel right. Parker sensed another gut feeling. And yet, looking around, she couldn’t see anything threatening.

“My son?” Jarod asked his brother.
Ethan was looking at the video, almost enchanted. “Everything’s okay.”

Angelo got next to the door and opened it, entering the room with a calm out of character. He looked different, more normal. As if, for a moment, the memory of former Timmy was prevailing.
Parker reached her son’s crib. The surveillance team formed by Broots and Ethan could see Michael playing placidly in his bed.
The woman bended towards the boy and smiled. “Hello, Michael.”
Parker reached out her arms and the boy stood up, going right between them “Mom.” he simply said.
Parker sighed and felt the first teardrop falling from her eyes. She gazed at the camera, letting understand the ones who were watching (especially Jarod) that this moment had been so special, to her.

Jarod, on his hand, squeezed Ethan’s arm strong enough to almost hurt him.

“Come here, kiddo, we’re going away.” she told her son.
“Daddy?” he asked. He did was smart, as much as you would expect from a predestined boy.
“Of course, sweetie. Your daddy is waiting for you.” she said, without stopping crying and smiling at the same time.
Michael let her hold him and looked at his mother, putting his little hand over her hair.
“Mom with dad?”

This was too much for Jarod, who was now crying, too. A few times in his life he had expressed his true feelings so clearly. But to see his son talking about him without even know him took him by surprise. He would never forget that moment, one of the most amazing of his amazing life.

Broots and Sydney were staring at the scene in religious silence, they were too much touched to say anything. They were so caught by the moment that they didn’t notice the man approaching behind them.    

“You’re going with Angelo, Michael.” Miss Parker explained.
Noticing that the boy was looking at Angelo with fear, Parker cheered him up.
“He’s a friend of Mom and Daddy, Michael. You can trust him. You must do whatever he ask you, ok?”
The boy nodded and looked at Angelo with those big brown eyes that resembled so much his father’s. The man smiled and took the baby in his hands.

Jarod and Ethan had their eyes almost glued to the screen. The active camera was the one in Michael’s room, none of them had a view over the ones in the corridor. They knew that the situation was constantly monitored by Broots, though.

Sydney was the first to turn around. His eyes widened up and so did his mouth when he realized that he was facing someone who shouldn’t be there at all. Someone who would destroy that moment and their plan.
“What…” Sydney said.
Broots turned around while the man began to grin.
“It’s useless to try and advise them. We’ve interrupted your radio communications.” Mr. Raines’s husky and malignant voice announced them.

Miss Parker approached Angelo and gave a kiss to her baby’s soft forehead.
“He’s going to take you to your dad. And then we are going to be together, I promise you.”

Jarod was looking at the scene, touched, and so was Ethan. Suddenly, however, the voices in his head exploded in a choir of screams.
While his brother cried for the pain, Jarod got closer to him, “Ethan!”

At the same moment, Angelo opened his eyes wide and held the baby tight, looking very worried at Miss Parker.
“Run…now!” he shouted, running outside the room.
“Angelo!” she screamed.
While the empath exited Michael’s room with the baby in his arms, Miss Parker followed her friend, trying to stay close to his crazy rush. She didn’t need to hold on for long, anyway, because Angelo stopped after a few feet, his way blocked by a group of men.

“Jarod! Miss Parker is in danger!” Ethan shouted, regaining control on himself.
“What do you mean? Carrier, do you copy?” but Jarod didn’t get an answer. “Parker!” he shouted through the earphone.
Broots couldn’t hear Jarod’s voice because Raines had ordered a couple of sweepers to drag him and Sydney down to SL-19.

Miss Parker, on the other hand, placed herself in front of Angelo and Michael, shielding them with her own body. In front of her there were five sweepers, three of them she had never seen before. Behind the little group, Lyle and a black man who terribly resembled Adama were walking towards her. Miss Parker immediately knew that he was Hasani.
Angelo was in turmoil; he took a glance to every exit next to him. He couldn’t reach any air duct, from where he was. They were trapped.
Miss Parker realized that trying to call for help would be useless, at that point. Without counting the risk for Jarod. And she didn’t want to put his life in danger, not even if that meant sacrificing her own freedom.
One thing was for certain, anyway: to get Michael, Hasani would have to pass over her dead body, indeed.
“Are you taking the boy to a picnic, sis?” Lyle asked, with a triumphant expression.
Parker just snorted ironically, her heart beating like crazy inside her chest. She had no idea how much those men knew, but one thing was evident: if they were here and if their schedule hadn’t been followed as Lyle had announced, this was a setup. Brilliantly constructed, she had to admit it.
She didn’t overreach, trying to keep what remained of her cover.
“I thought you wouldn’t get here before past two, Lyle.” she stated.
“Change of plans, Miss Parker.” Hasani explained, with a marked non-American accent.
“Angelo and I were taking my brother to get some air. I wanted to let him see a different place than the hole he had been isolated in.”
Hasani approached her, threateningly. “And what should this different place be, Miss Parker? Maybe Jarod’s last lair?”
Parker stared at him, trying to guess how much the man actually knew.
“Let me be the one to take care of my Angel, Hasani.” a voice announced from behind the sweepers, who were all aiming a gun against the two fugitives and the boy.
Miss Parker stared at him with disbelief while a teardrop fell from her eyes. Even Angelo looked stunned.
“Daddy.” Miss Parker whispered.
“Did you miss me?” he asked, getting under the lights, so that the woman who had believed him to be her biological father could finally recognize him.

 



This story archived at http://www.pretendercentre.com/missingpieces/viewstory.php?sid=5568