After the Facts by Dede
Summary: Seven months after the train bombing, the smoke finally lifts.
Categories: Post Season 4 Characters: Jarod, Original Character
Genres: General, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: After The Facts Series
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 6906 Read: 3267 Published: 25/06/05 Updated: 25/06/05
After the Facts by Dede
Disclaimer: The characters Miss Parker, Sydney, Jarod, Broots etc. and the fictional Centre, are all property of MTM, TNT and NBC Productions and used without permission. I'm not making any money out of this and no infringement is intended.

Note: I wrote this to appease my mind and deal with some of the issues brought up last season. It is written for an outside first person pov, but the sequel (coming soon) “Life After Death” will be written in third person. Enjoy!



“After the Facts”
By Dede







Walking down the halls of SL 25, I past Samantha (my research assistant) and saw the suspicious excitement spinning in her blue eyes. She stared hard at me, so I would know something was wrong.

“Samantha, have you finished your reports on the remote viewers, yet?” I sternly inquired, looking into her face. She simply nodded.

“Well, then get into the lab with them, now!” I saw her nervousness drift into space and stood there watching as that evergreen skirt of hers disappeared around the doorframe of the office. Turning back around, I continued toward one of my team’s labs only to be greeted by Jonathan, who also seemed close to vomiting up his butterflies. John was one of those clean-cut thirtysomethings with light brown hair and an air of quiet humility about him. He leaned against one of the double doors, allowing me to stride past him into the room. Our work place, which was at the end of the right wing, consisted of three sim or operation rooms, four storage areas, our five offices (which were the doors stretching to the elevator) and two conference rooms. The rest of the wing had the bathrooms, (next to the stairs) a kitchen/ dining area, and of course some holding cells for subjects who needed to stay for more than a few tests.

I entered without a word and remained indifferent to his troubled manner. Jonathan was dressed in his usual black T-shirt and jeans with his distracting blue lab coat hanging just below his knees. He enjoyed jazz and collected rare French art, which made his office tasteful, but not as fun as Carol’s which sang of American rock and the sexuality of the 1960’s. I refused to let the tingling of my spine bother me, so I set down the clipboard, I was carrying, and made note of my time of arrival. He waited for Sam in the doorway and then followed her in. Still, neither mentioned their particular problem. Frustrated with the DSA cameras for the thousandth time, we three suffered in silence.

“Michael late again?” I finally asked breaking with small talk of the projects we were in charge of.

“He’s in storage room D,” Carolyn, our blond chemist, answered as she came through the door. Storage room D, oh well, no wonder my staff was riding the roller coasters of their minds.

“Inventory or is he just searching for his brain?” My tongue has always been sharper than most would care for, however, that never troubled me.

“Lay off him, Dawn. If you want, Sammy and I can go check for you.” Jonathan wasn’t serious; of course, he wanted me down there now, which could only mean one thing. Something happened to our living corpse, as Carol referred to him.

I preferred to stick to his code name PR13J or, for the non-clinical stuff, simply Jarod.

“No, we have to get those chemical samples to compare with our result anyway. They’re in D, right?” I asked. Actually, the results weren’t nearly ready to be checked against samples but they were in the storage area. Sam’s mischievous smirk almost made Carol laugh as she affirmed the chemicals whereabouts.

“Let’s go have a little work intervention for Michael,” I suggested and made a beeline for the door. Thinking on it, I always hated those hallways, so sterile and uninviting. I guess it was suppose to encourage people to get to work, but all I ever wanted was out of there.

Entering the storage room, I moved past the various biological refrigerators, and equipment crates to the back of the room, where Jonathon and Michael had created a small cubical. They had used a separation wall only three inches thick. (We hadn’t needed it after our twins experiments were finished.) The ‘room’ was about ten by six feet and inconspicuous, unless you knew what you were looking for.

Michael was staring at Jarod’s face, when I reached them.

“WHat…?” I remarked. There was no need to finish my question.

“He’s waking up,” Mike started, running his fingers through his short, sandy hair, while the rest of our team gathered around the body in the hospital bed, “He moved his hand about half an hour ago but I thought I had just imagined it. Then I heard him moan, that’s when I told John and Sammy.”

I gazed down at the figure before me. He didn’t look any different than he had for the last seven months, maybe a little thinner, a little paler, but no really difference. I was beginning to believe it was affecting my staff. Then his jaw opened and closed. My heart nearly leapt out of my mouth. No sound had accompanied the movement, still this was progress from the coma he had been in. The event could have ended then and been a fluke, however, next his eyelids fluttered. As his eyes adjusted to the lights and he caught site of us, our living corpse once again separated his lips, this time he yelled. A loud, achy, animalistic cry from deep inside.

“Calm down!” I said sharply. Calm down? Oh yeah, that was the best thing to say to the guy who’s been in a coma for seven months after a train bombing. Yet even as I chastised myself, he seemed to relax. His eyes searched the room and as I would find out later we were not the five people he was expecting. He had prepared for Lyle’s smugness, Miss Parker’s impatience, Mr. Parker’s indifference, and Broots’ nervousness, but all he saw in our faces was Sydney’s concern. Even though, I’d seen photos nothing gave justice to his eyes. Their color was a simple smooth brown like a buffalo’s skin and their shape of German/ Italian decent, not too large, yet all together masculine in presence. Still a soulfulness existed within them, a depth likened only to the night sky in its vast mysterious knowledge and playful, pure intrigue. He stared at me momentarily, for I was the one who had spoken, then traced the rest of the room with invisible lines of vision. Careful not to miss a detail he seemed to scan and memorize automatically. Memory didn’t appear his purpose, though; he was looking for something.

“No sweepers on this level,” I blurted out, then waited. He thought as if considering what sublevel that would be and finding no answers, gazed back at me; his eyebrow lifted slightly.

“You’re not in the Centre. You’re on SL 25 in the African facility. It’s been seven months since your accident and you’ve been in a coma all that time. I know you must want to escape now, but no one knows you’re here. We just want to help you get better.” Well, none of that made much sense, however, he had the idea, I thought. Jonathon stepped forward to where the IV was inserted in our patient’s left arm. It must have been the sudden movement that startled Jarod, because he jerked back and nearly fell out of the bed.

“Sorry,” John said moving away a few paces, “I just meant to adjust your fluids, so being awake was easier.” The explanation was apparently sufficient. Jarod stretched his arm out to reveal the IV for John to examine. He watched intensely every move the man made, but allowed him to touch his wrist during the process. Yet when Sam shifted her weight from one foot to another, he noticed and glanced at her briefly. Michael and Carol looked at each other awhile having one of their silent conversations, no doubt.

“Jarod, we have some other work to attend to before the suits think something’s up, so we’ll leave you, but don’t worry Carol and I will come back later today,” Michael addressed him. Strangely, Jarod didn’t make any acknowledgement of the statement. I became at once concerned with his hearing. Carol and Michael simply gave me questioning looks and left.

“Can you hear, okay? Is there ringing or something?” I asked sitting on the bed next to his right side. His hand came slowly to mine and he ran his fingers lightly over my knuckles. I took the hint. We stayed there in loose connection for a long time. Jonathon finished his work on the medical equipment but continued to stand by the bed.

“You can’t hear?” I asked again. Jarod untangled my fingers from his and signed something. I was so surprised I didn’t know what to do. His movements were fluid and professional. I cursed myself then for having never learned the language. Sammy had, though.

“What? Sam, Sam come here. What did he say?” I commanded, impatiently. She moved to the end of the bed, gazing at him until she was sure his attention was solely hers. Her hands moved slowly and thoughtfully, as Sam attempted to remember college, which was only three years ago for her. Apparently, she was good at it or she said something ridiculous, because Jarod smiled. And a true wonderful smile it was, full of excitement and childlike enthusiasm. He eagerly signed back.

“Well...” I prompted her.

“Oh... I asked him what he said and he responded, I think anyway, that he wanted to know our names,” she explained.

“Can he read lips?” Jarod signed his answer before Sam could ask.

“Yes.” I turned to face him again and spoke,

“Dawn.”

“I’m Samantha,” Sam took her turn happily. The kid was way too high on life.

“John.” Jarod noted the face with the name and returned to his preoccupation with me.

“Do you hear anything?” I asked. He gave me a very mysterious smirk and sighed to Sam.

“He hears everything,” she announced in surprise.

“Why isn’t he talking, then?” I directed the question more to him than her. Suddenly, Sam giggled, drumming her fingers on the bedpost.

“What!” I was losing patience.

“He said, ‘To be difficult.’”

“Well, he IS suppose to have a sense of humor,” John reminded. Oh, of course, the master of angles was amused.

“Any other reason?” I looked at him expectantly.

“He can’t speak. His throat feels strange,” Sam translated his signs.

“That I can deal with,” I said, “Does it hurt anywhere else?”

“No, just general soreness from the coma and sleepiness,” Sam told me.

“Okay, than I’ll examine your throat later, but I’m almost positive it will get better on its own, you haven’t used your body in quite a while.” I patted his arm gently.

“He agrees.” I stood then and John began to walk out.

“Good, get some rest,” I advised Jarod, “and we’ll bring you a light lunch in a few hours.” Sam followed me, but before she reached the corner, she flashed him a smile and said,

“Night, Jarod, I’m glad you came back to us.”

------------

“Hello, again.” I stepped back into Jarod’s room at about 11:30AM with a lunch tray balancing a bowl of soup, crackers, and a glass of grape juice. I was hoping it won’t be too much for his stomach, but then he had probably studied nutrition better than I had.

‘Hello,’ he signed. Well, that much I understood.

“Feeling a bit better?” I asked setting down the tray on his table. Sammy, who had followed me in, seated herself on the other side of the bed, as my official translator.

‘Like the tin man,’ he explained.

“Tin Man?”

‘In the ‘Wizard of Oz.’’

“Oh,” I had forgotten that movie.

‘What fair circumstances brought me to your mercy?’ I don’t know why but I love a man who knows how to speak even if it was only with his hands.

“Nice way to put it,” Sam added commentary.

“You were transported, against doctor’s advisement, to this facility after the train bombing,” I began.

‘Figures,’ Jarod interjected with an expression of contempt.

“Well, they nearly lost you on the plane. You flat lined and in the process of stabilizing, you slipped into a coma. We were told to try everything we could think of to bring you back, but nothing helped. Six months in, despite learning all we could about your life and trying almost all techniques it was determined by the suits you would ever wake up.”

‘What do you mean almost?’ Seven months later, still sharp as a tack, I was enjoying this.

“I thought familiar surroundings or people might bring you out of it, but they refused my request for Dr. Green.” His eyes fell then and he seemed to choke back pain and bury it deep in his heart.

“Anyway, I received instructions to induce a heart attack, making it look like your body just gave out and then burn the remains. I explained this to the team, but we couldn’t do it. Heaven help us, we couldn’t commit murder, even though, John didn’t think you’d wake up either. So we used digitalis that you probably know will create the appearance of death in the right dose, but in reality any experienced doctor can find a quiet heartbeat. Once you were pronounced dead, we put your body in a coffin for the cameras. Then just before we burned the coffin, we took you out and hid you in this storage room. Only the five of us know that I burned an empty coffin.” I remembered he valued honesty, but I was nervous being so blunt about the whole thing. After all, it was HIS body we were lugging around.

‘Thank you,’ Jarod said with one of the few signs I knew.

“You deserve to live, Jarod and I won’t let them take your life from you.” I held his hand again, as if by compulsion and almost marveled at how right it felt. John walked in then and Jarod signed again to Sammy.

‘Thank all of you.’

“We knew you were special, besides, I don’t approve of murder,” John replied.

‘You picked the wrong line of work,’ Jarod joked.

“Tell me about it,” he chuckled. I glanced at my watch and realized why John was here.

“John, Sam stay here and keep him company, will you? I have to finish some reports before five o’clock.” As I stood, Jarod tightened down on my hand.

‘Will you be back?’ he signed.

“Yes, in a little while to check your throat,” I promised and knew the importance of it.

------------

“Sammy been entertaining you?” I entered the room with my doctor’s bag. Jarod sighed something.

‘She’s wonderful.’

“Did he say that or did you?” I asked Sam. Jarod made another silent statement.

‘I did.’ Like that answered my question, but the sly smile on Jarod’s face told me either way, he was in good spirits.

“Let’s get you sitting up and then I’ll examine things.” Sam and I supported him on either side while he struggled to pull himself up. Once Jarod was ready, I began to work, trying to ignore that I was dangerously close to him. His skin was still pale, but it was warm and soft to the touch.

“Well, there doesn’t appear to be any external signs of disruption. Open your mouth,” I instructed. Using a medical flashlight and a tongue depressor, I checked for anything out of the ordinary.

“There seems to be a mild irritation in the back of the throat, nothing that vitamins won’t fix. I could x-ray your neck to be sure or sedate you and send a mini-camera tube down there, but I worry about how your body would react to the sedative,” I explained.

‘Don’t bother, I just have to get used to using my voice again,’ Jarod decided for me.

“Well, you are a doctor...” I joked, just so I could see that gentle smile again.

------------

Over the next week, his voice did get better along with his motor skills. Like everything else about Jarod, it was the fastest, strongest recovery that I ever documented (not that anyone will ever see the paperwork). At the end of the 15th day, he was walking some on his own and I suggested that we move him out of the station and into my home on the coast. Jarod was apprehensive for reasons he never explained, but he came willingly.

It was on the first night home with all five of us there that he asked questions he had probably been afraid to ask while still in the facility. We had dinner, which was chicken parmigian including garlic toast, in my livingroom, because Jarod had been situated on the couch. I would have given him my bed, but not only did he refuse my offer on a matter of manners, but he couldn’t handle stairs very well yet. Recovery is remarkable but it’s also a bitch. My favorite red wine had been poured and we all were celebrating our joint deception.

“You faked records for the Triumvirate, that’s a dangerous undertaking.” Jarod must have complemented us for the sixth time like this, but I suppose he felt guilty because there was a chance something could have gone wrong.

“Easy for the dead man to say,” Carol toasted.

“I’m not your corpse anymore, Carol.” She enjoyed teasing him and he enjoyed it right back.

“No, but to the world, Jarod... The Pretender is very dead. He even has a burial plot,” Michael said in his morbid way.

“...Two,” I corrected mid-drink. Jarod had one at a graveyard near the Centre, requested by Mr. Parker if anyone could believe it, although suspicions pointed to his daughter on that score. The other was noted next to his brother Kyle, paid for by the Major.

“Well, I must thank you all once again,” Jarod raised his glass, “If it weren’t for your conspiracy, I would be gone and forgotten.” He believed it, but I knew he would have been gone perhaps, never forgotten.

“We work for the Triumvirate, conspiracy is in the training manual,” I joked, everyone laughed.

“So now what will you do, Jarod?” John attempted to ask seriously.

“I still have some recovering to do, but then... I guess I’ll see if I can locate my family.” The room became quiet suddenly. It wasn’t that he had said anything wrong or inappropriate, it was just... I don’t know, we didn’t want him to go anywhere.

“Did I miss something?” Jarod reacted to the change.

“No, it’s good, it’s just things change, you know,” Carol replied and took a long drink of her wine.

“Yeah, as far as we know your family is still at large, however, I was thinking, maybe you should try setting yourself up first. Pick a European country. I have a list of the facility locations so you could be safe,” John suggested.

“Not that anyone would look at you and even suspect that it was really JAROD,” Sammy chimed in.

“What happened in the Centre, after the bombing failed?” Oh, no one wanted to field that question.

“Dawn can fill you in, Jarod. As it is, I’ve got the early shift tomorrow, unless you all want to fake my death, I better get home.” Michael stood up.

“For you Michael, we would never FAKE your death. Good night, Jarod, Dawn.” Carol followed Michael to the door.

“We’ll clean the kitchen... won’t we Sammy?” John nudged her.

“Yeah,” she answered. As Sam past Jarod she patted his shoulder. Again his eyes sunk into me.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” Jarod mimicked. His eyes had this way of playing cat and mouse with your thoughts, while his expression remained confident that you would tell him everything.

“What do you want to know about?” I shifted in the armchair.

“Who.... And Parker for starters.” He set down the glass to give me full attention.

“Miss Parker or Mr.?” I stalled.

“Miss Parker.”

“She recovered with minor injuries and is still at the Centre, awaiting further analysis of her four year chase. They want to know where you... your project went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.” Cold, honest, and indifferent, I hoped the approach would work.

“Ethan?” He dismissed the Parker information immediately, probably filing it somewhere for safe keeping.

“He was found, but taken during transport by Major Charles. His whereabouts are unknown. Lyle is hunting him with help from Sydney and Broots, who both still work full time. Your clone is also being pursued by Mr. White and Mr. Cox.” The pain flicked on his face and I knew sometimes he wished he could kill them all.

“Would seem that was two targets moving as one,” Jarod commented evenly.

“Your father and sister are clever,” I complemented.

“Do you know anything about a girl named Zoe?” I could sense he was pleading quietly I did.

“No, but that only means she’s still out there.”

“Thank you.”

--------------

Over the next two weeks we took shifts at my house, like we had at the facility, to avoid suspicion. Between the five of us, we helped Jarod continue his physical therapy and eventually just served as observers to insure he didn’t have any problems which could happen should he move a muscle wrong at this tender stage. All of us got to like it even if it wasn’t necessary anymore. John would talk with Jarod for hours about medical theories and Michael sought counsel for his antisocial problems, which Jarod could easily help him with. I just enjoyed his presence and perspective. He was so.... dynamic, full of irony, and contradiction, yet always honest. Jarod was complete and yet missing so much. Lost but found. Kind to justice, yet cruel to crime.

Carol worked with him mostly on walking and movement in general. The explosion enhanced by a seven month coma had taken its toll on his motor functions. Sammy kept him company in the evenings mostly when I had to attend a meeting, which was almost three times a week. I suppose it was a running joke between them, but no matter where they were, at a diner or a movie, even at home, Jarod and Sammy always spoke to each other in sign language. As paranoid as this sounds, if I was in the room while they were signing and suddenly Jarod laughed, I thought it was about me. I will admit I worried, okay I was jealous, whenever Carol or Sammy were with him. I found myself suspecting one or the other, usually whoever was there at the time, had been fouling around with him. That would be how it started; the idea would cross my mind at a meeting and then the meeting might just as well have been over, because all I could concentrate on was getting home to catch them. Except the only thing I ever caught Carol doing was washing his hair with a special volume enhancer and poor Sammy, to my knowledge, never even touched Jarod. She would have been too nervous, still I got it into my head one night to confront him.

“So what is it that Sammy tells you with those pretty little hands of hers? I’m sure you noticed how delicate and soft and manicured they are. The question is when did you notice when she was signing to you or when she was hugging you? She does hold you I’m sure, innocently right, until your eyes meet... ” I was on a roll, while my anger grew with every second of denial. Although, he didn’t really deny it, he just sat there listening to me intensely, as if I wasn’t yelling at all, but saying something interesting.

“I love you, too,” he said with a quiet little smile amongst my roar. Nothing in the scenario I had in my head, suspected he would say those words. I didn’t even know how to respond, except to stare blankly at him. Apparently, he enjoyed the reaction, because he stood and reached his hand out. I took it mindlessly and allowed him to guide me to the couch.

“What? What did you mean, you love me... too?” I stammered.

“Well, you DO love me, don’t you?” A question for a question, I couldn’t take another word game right then.

“Yes. That doesn’t explain how you know I do.” He leaned back on the cushions, inviting me to do the same.

“I know, because you’ve said it to me in a million different ways, starting with you saving my life.”

“I didn’t do that because I loved you. WE helped you, because we thought it was wrong to just give up on someone who could do so much and had done such great things.”

“And who you thought would love you or who you would love,” Jarod corrected. The pretender had me figured out.

“Well, do you love me?” I asked impatiently.

“I said I did. I love you, Dawn, in many ways.” He touched my cheek softly and I reached up, taking his hand in mine.

“But not romantically.” I sighed, but then I already knew this truth.

“I need to explain...” Jarod didn’t want to hurt me, I could see it in his eyes.

“No, you don’t. I read and learned everything I could about you. I know about Nia and Zoe and Rachel. I even know about Miss Parker, although, no one else seems to,” I revealed but it didn’t faze him.

“You know the situations, not the truth.”

“Enlighten me, because you are developing the reputation of love ’em and leave ’em.” Okay, that was a cheap shot, but considering I was planning on kissing him in a few minutes, I wanted to hear his defense.

“Yeah, I know. It’s just I love them all but for different reasons, in different ways, and I don’t think I understand how to be IN love with someone,” he explained. Jarod seemed frustrated suddenly and uncomfortable.

“You are or you aren’t. Simple as that.”

“Not when you’ve had your emotions messed with. For the longest time the only love I knew was from two dead parents who couldn’t help me and Sydney who kept me at arms length so the boys in the Tower didn’t think he was getting emotional invested. Then I get out in the real world, where I’m alone with hate at my heels. Any kindness meant so much to me. Nia and I were afraid of our emotions and yet afraid of the loneliness, we connected because someone caring about us was new. And Zoe... she has so much fire in her heart, she came along and reminded me of the wonder of freedom and the excitement of life, but after I helped her, I couldn’t wait around and watch her die. I would have brought the Centre eventually and I didn’t want anything to happen to her... ever. Besides, I knew Zoe would never be alone as long as her family stayed with her. Suddenly, I found myself with Rachel. Rachel, who saw into me, Rachel, who knew I needed a friend, needed someone to hold me. She demanded of me something Zoe never did... answers. She saw I was someone who must tell their story in order to breathe again, but I couldn’t bring myself to explain everything to her. If I had she would have been in danger, more then she already was, so I left. It was only a few weeks later when I was checking Zoe’s medical records that I realized she was going to live. You should have seen her face, opening the door to see me standing there. I thought I could make it work between us and now she will always be in danger because she was foolish enough to love me.” I had no annoying feminist comment for the moment.

“You think it’s your fault the Centre comes after those you care about.”

“If I stay away, then no one gets hurt.” He stood up then and walked with some minor difficulty to the front window.

“Except you,” I whispered, stepping up beside him.

“My heart only knows pain.” Jarod didn’t look at me, he just stared out the window.

“And what of Parker?” A mysterious smile played on his lips.

“The only girl I ever thought I was IN love with.”

“You don’t know, though?” I placed my hands on his shoulder and leaned carefully against him.

“Well, it’s complicated. When I was a boy and she would come by to play, I loved her. She was my best friend, I would have died for her. Then Catherine was killed, or supposedly killed, and Parker was sad inside, I felt it in my chest. If she cried, I held her, because I couldn’t stand it. I had to help her. Until one day, she just left and in a second, my heart exploded, I couldn’t concentrate for days, because all I wanted was her. Slowly, I accepted the facts, but I never forgot her. Not a day passed that I didn’t think of something to tell her, it was just she wasn’t there to hear me. After I escaped, I learned everything about what Parker had done in the years since I’d seen her.” Jarod turned and faced me, resting his back against the wall.

“You see, I don’t just love her. She’s my obsession, my calling, my reason for running, my reason for beginning each day, my reason for living, and probably my cause for dying. I would give up anything and everything for her.”

“WHY? She doesn’t love you.” I was abruptly enraged. I loved him. Why should his heart belong to her?

“Too many reasons to name. For Catherine, for who Parker used to be, for the person I know she is, for the pain I couldn’t protect her from, for the same reasons Romeo killed himself for Juliet, and for a thousand more I can’t explain.” He started to walk away again, but I grabbed his arm.

“What do you want Jarod?” My eyes met his.

“Tonight? I want you.”

-----------

The next morning I woke to the sound of warm, even breathing and the sight of Jarod’s body resting next to me on black, satin sheets and over-stuffed pillows. Relaxing there, so I wouldn’t disturb his sleep, I enjoyed the comfort and entwined his fingers with my own.

Touching him was like feeling destiny, his and mine. I knew then, as I imagine everyone who has ever clung to him knows, that he was to be remembered and cherished, whispered about and immortalized long after his smile faded and his sweet eyes closed for the last time. This man was a legend, a living, breathing, sleeping-right-in-front-of-me legend. And that’s why he was a hero.

He wasn’t prefect. Far from perfect emotionally, mentally, physically, however…. The emotions he handled, the mental capacity he used, and the physical injuries were due to outside sources. Everything was for the most part recoverable.

He stirred, turning his head to gaze at me. Jarod smiled and I smiled back.

“Morning,” he whispered dreamily.

“Morning.”

“What time is it?” He looked around, trying to remember where my alarm clock was.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” I said playfully, snuggling against him.

“You have work,” Jarod cooled my thoughts.

“No.” He hugged me tightly and rolled me onto my back. Unfortunately, Jarod managed to locate the clock at that point.

“Yes,” he argued, looking down at me, “It’s 7:30.”

“I don’t want to move,” I whined, pulling him to my body.

“Then I’ll just have to carry you to the shower,” he offered.

“Oh, no, and risk you having a relapse, no way...” I replied, gently pushing him from me to sit up and stretching, “Ummmm, I’m up.” My feet hit the hard, indifferent floor.

“I didn’t have any muscle problems last night.”

“Ha, true, last night was a good night... with a great guy.” I leaned down and kissed his smirking lips lightly.

“You sure you don’t want company.” Well, wasn’t he adventurous?

“I’ll yell, if I get lonely,” I teased, moving toward the bathroom.

“You do that.”

------------

Getting out of the steamy shower and sliding on my dark blue robe, I found myself staring in the mirror. For 36, I was not a bad catch. My hair was long and brownish-blond with waves rolling down my slightly tanned back. My eyes were a curiously dark blue with a soft green tint mixed in. My height was about Jarod’s and I was proud to still have a figure like Samantha’s, wearing a size six.

Sighing heavily, I finished drying my hair with a towel and wrapped it around my shoulders.

“What are you working on?” I wandered into the study to find him clicking away at his new lap-top.

“I’m checking up on Sydney’s travel records.” ‘Oh, great, that name again, Sydney, Sydney, Syd, Dr. Green, Dr. Sydney Green... who the hell cares what he’s doing?’ I thought, ‘I want you all to myself, but no, the past still binds you to its reel, forever repeating.’

“Why?” I asked casually, digging my fingers into his muscular arms.

“I want to know what I’ll be walking into.” I was afraid of that.

“You can’t go back there,” I declared.

“Why not? They think I’m dead, I can’t let them hurt like that.” Jarod rotated in the desk chair to face me.

“Hurt? They hate you. Okay, Dr. Green liked you, after all you were his great experiment, but Miss Parker hunted you, four years nonstop.”

“She misses me. I just hope when I reveal my survival, they don’t make her stay at the Centre.”

“Why can’t you accept it?! They’ve moved on. They haven’t changed because of your death,” I yelled. He was too stubborn for his own good.

“I don’t believe that,” he defended. Jarod was lying, he felt it in his ever shattered heart. I thought he would either lash out or cry, Jarod surprised me again.

“It doesn’t matter anyway, I have to go back. As long as I’m dead, the Centre won. They fought four years and finally have me under permanent control. However, should I raise like the phoenix undefeatable, then they will never truly win and always have that thorn in their side known as Jarod.” Logic and ethics, damn him and his rationality.

“This isn’t fair to us. We need you here, dead,” I pleaded.

“I’ve escaped worse, I already have everything worked out. No one will suspect you.” He was cold now. I had threatened his life long dream of family.

“That isn’t what I’m talking about. You have a family here, Jarod, or are we just to tide you over?”

“Of course not, I really care about all of you, but this isn’t my life,” he tried to explain, pulling me forward, almost into his lap.

“You’re right, it’s your death. Do you have any idea what we went through to save you? Do you even know why?” I let him take my hands, but refused to get any closer to him.

“I just assumed you knew the difference between right and wrong.” Sometimes, he was such a child.

“It isn’t that simple. You were our sleeping prince, Jarod. You represented everything we expected in a hero.”

“I know....” he began.

“No, you don’t,” I whirled around and stepped away, “because you are all those heroes we were told about when we were little.”

“No, I’m not..” Jarod stood up.

“Yes, you...”

“NO! I’m not!” he finally shouted, “I’m just a guy. A guy who wants what everyone on this earth wants: love, family, and to make a difference.” His eyes reflected so much heartbreak. This decision was eating him inside out, but it was the right one.

“You can do so much with your life.” I walked up and ran the back of my hand down his jaw.

“Yes, but to do any of it, I have to LIVE my life.” Jarod took my hand in his and kissed my knuckles.

“When?”

“I don’t know.” He avoided my eyes. Jarod did know. He knew when he was leaving, but it wasn’t soon. He would have told me if it was soon.

------------

A week and a half later, I returned home and entered the livingroom to see Carol and Jarod standing near the entertainment center, I had installed into the wall. He was wearing a black suit and Carol was in one of her beautiful evening gowns. I suddenly felt under dressed in my simple short, navy dress and boots.

“Carol and I have a surprise for you,” Jarod informed me. I set down my coat and briefcase, taking in the light from the tall, white candles they had placed all around the room.

“You do?” I smiled nervously. I never liked surprises, especially Carol’s.

“Yeah,” Carol replied, hurrying over to me.

“Well, I can’t wait. What is it?” My tone was fading in and out of seriousness.

“May I have this dance?” Jarod offered his hand as music started to come from the CD player.

“What...?” I was shocked. I knew his legs were almost back to their original strength, but dancing?

“We practiced almost everyday last week,” Carol proclaimed as Jarod whirled me around the carpet.

“It shows.” I nearly lost myself in his eyes. The candle light was playing games with the shadows and electrifying his features.

“Thank you, Carol,” I dismissed her and she took the hint. Probably, smiling the whole way home.

“And what about me?” Jarod asked.

“Just dance with me,” I whispered.

“I gotta take a little time, a little time to
think things over
I better read between the lines, in case I need it
when I'm older

Now this mountain I must climb, feels like the world
upon my shoulders
Through the clouds I see love shine, it keeps me warm as
life grows colder

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far, to change
this lonely life

I want to know what love is, I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is, I know you can
show me

I'm gonna take a little time, a little time to look around me
I've got nowhere left to hide, it looks like love has
finally found me

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far, to change
this lonely life

I want to know what love is, I want you to show me...........”

(“I Want to Know What Love Is.” Performed by Foreigner.)

------------

He was my prince and he was leaving. The sharp pain in my stomach told me before he did. I had never been able to argue successfully with him, least of all about the people dreamt of in his troubled sleep.

“I have to go back, soon,” Jarod remarked one night after stepping out onto the bedroom’s balcony where I waited for him.

“I know.” What else does one say when fate is calling and time will not stay awhile at the door?

And so my prince left me. Traveling on foot off my porch and into the chilly night air, he was on his way back from the dead. A martyr, a memory for now, soon he would come alive to all those he survived for and begin his struggle again, only to become a memory in me. His soul will thrive around my heart on days when I have no hope and love grinds my spirit into bits. His honesty, his pain, his love cuts everyone he meets. No matter how fleeting his steps or how light his words, the scars will remain to teach and comfort me. For these gifts, I am grateful.


The End
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