Realizing the Obvious by Staceysedge
Summary: Umm.. Ok, MP and Jarod are both sent messages from a 'ghost.' Jarod needs MP help. Like I'd have someone else help Jarod, please! Oh, and MP is afraid...!?
Categories: Post IOTH Characters: Alex, Broots, Debbie, Jarod, Lyle, Miss Parker, Original Character, Sydney
Genres: Angst, General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 10 Completed: No Word count: 21353 Read: 43639 Published: 23/06/05 Updated: 23/06/05

1. A Ghost Returns by Staceysedge

2. Mixed Emotions by Staceysedge

3. Too Close! by Staceysedge

4. Breaking Down Her Defenses by Staceysedge

5. Emotions are Fleeting by Staceysedge

6. Good News, and Bad News by Staceysedge

7. Rest by Staceysedge

8. Back to Finish the Job by Staceysedge

9. Idle Hands by Staceysedge

10. Precious Cargo by Staceysedge

A Ghost Returns by Staceysedge
Disclaimer: The proceeding has characters, themes, and phrases borrowed from the television program "The Pretender." I am not using them to make money, only for my enjoyment. In addition, should I be sued for 'borrowing' the shows elements, my defense will be that they are only my opinions, very detailed opinions, that reflect my thoughts on the direction the show should have taken. If they do not reflect that, then they reflect where I would have wanted the show to be taken. Anywayz, I apologize in advance to the writers/owners, and any other person in the category of 'Not knowing a good thing when it jumps up to bite you on the ass', if you're offended by my writing.

Realizing the Obvious.
A Ghost Returns.

"You’ve got mail" interrupted Jarod’s brooding silence. He always left his computer online in case of emergency messages from Angelo, Sydney or any kind of contact from his family. He was eager to see what was in this email.

He positioned himself in front of his laptop and directed the mouse to open the email where he then found a video attachment to be downloaded. The file was rather large, but he altered his computer for superior quality and timely performance, so he had the download in less than thirty seconds. He pushed play.

"Hello Jarod. Did you miss me? I didn’t think so, what with all the trouble I caused you. Oh, don’t be so shocked to see me alive and kicking. No one connected to the Centre ever dies the first time ‘round, especially when no body is recovered. In my case, I survived my second brush with death, Quite an amazing feat when the Centre’s involved.
That, however, dear Pretender, is not what I want to tell you about; it’s not what I want to torment you with. The truth is. You can never see the truth when its staring you straight in the face. It’s one of the reasons you still don’t have the answers to ‘your’ questions. That fact would not be so shocking if the answers weren’t so obvious, and if you weren’t a Pretender. But you are a Pretender and the answers are beyond transparent, so I am thoroughly shocked with your blind naivete regarding the Centre’s secrets and lies.

"You see, you and Miss Parker¾ how is she by the way?¾ are asking the right questions, but you two are not willing to see the answers, the truth, that stares right back in your faces and mocks you. Hell, without confirmation from the person or ‘persons’ who know the truth, it is hard to believe. It is a tragedy that there were only two people who knew the truth, and had your answers. It’s a shame that one of those people is already presumed dead. This goes in the face of everything I’ve already said about never dying the first time around when you’re connected to the Centre, and the fact that a body was never recovered, but I do believe Mr. Parker is dead. I guess we’ll have to call this a gut feeling then since I can offer no proof, if I could I’d flaunt it. That man is almost as despicable to me as you are. Was. That man was…Well, Jarod the fact that he’s dead only means one thing.
It leaves only one person left alive that can answer your burning questions, one person who knows the truth. Oh that’s not to say that I don’t already know everything that has been happening with you and Miss Parker. I even know about the scrolls. How? That’s easy Jarod, I am with that person right now. The last person alive who has the answers, who has seen the scrolls. I bet you can’t guess who. That’s ok, you won’t have to, let’s have a look shall we."

Alex steps aside to reveal a woman sitting tied to a chair behind him. Several strands of her red hair, gray gracefully blended in, fall over her blindfolded face. The woman is Jarod’s mother. Jarod’s self control is starting to deteriorate, an animal urge is prompting him to throw, break, and demolish the computer that is bringing this picture of Alex taunting him with his mother, to him. The only reason he doesn’t is that he knows Alex isn’t finished. This is just the beginning of whatever new game he’s playing and Jarod can’t let him win. He has to stop this soon before Alex becomes desperate, if he’s not already. Better to let Alex think he’s in control. His mother is in danger, he has to stay cool and let his common sense bring him to a solution. Alex moves back into view,

"Aww, Jarod, it’s almost a shame I had to show you your mother on tape. I did so want to see your reaction, but imagining it is quite good in its own right. Ha! I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, no harm will come to her…yet. We are just getting to know each other, discuss recipes, secrets, remedies, and something about scrolls. It seems your mother read the scrolls, can you imagine. She is the only one alive who has all your answers. Granted, there are those who know the truth about 'some' of the Centre's distressing secrets, but none are aware of how to change the future of the Centre. Your mother is. Which mean, if I’m persuasive enough, and you know I can be…I will know everything she knows very soon. Now, in order for you to see your mother again…alive that is, you have to play along. I want to see how on top of your game you really are, how well you can find answers to the all important questions plaguing you and Miss Parker… since, forever. I am going to give you some thought-provoking questions to chew on until I decide to contact you so that this little game that we’ve been playing can come to its merry end.
I learned these things while you thought I was dead... the very first time. I learned what your last name was before you even realized that your real parents were still alive. I wonder if you even know that much about yourself yet, I doubt it. Hope I haven’t hit a nerve yet, because this next thought is supposed to accomplish that, it has to do with your precious Miss Parker. Does she know, do you know for that matter, who her real father is?"
Alex smiles devilishly. "I do. Now for the greatest and most despicable, at least I imagine it is for you, deception of all.
I had almost forgot to mention this, but that is hard to do when it is something that can bring you pains; my number one passion in life. I have to keep your soul, your mind, your body, and your life in a constant state of torment. I will see you broken, and then I can get on with my life, I will feel unfettered by these urges for violence and revenge. Or as you would put it, my insanity. This will leave your stomach in knots when you find out the truth, I am almost positive you don’t know yet. You don’t know who baby Parker’s parents are, do you? Neither does Miss Parker, so don’t expect her to be able to help you in your quandary. Hmm ha ha. That one is still so funny to me, I knew Mr. Parker was a mean old bastard, but this is just so much more like something I would have done. Well, given the opportunity. I will call you in one week. Don’t worry, I have your number."

And on that note, Jarod did destroy the computer, but not before copying the file to a disk. He picked it up and held it above his head before bringing it down with all the force he could muster, resulting in the computer being smashed into hundreds of pieces. The screen, however, remained partially intact, and a picture of Alex was frozen on that shattered piece of screen, mocking Jarod.

Now that the unpleasant awareness of Alex being alive had had time to sink in, he slowly let his rage fade away. It was as if it were never there, the wrecked lap top the only evidence that he had even expressed that emotion externally. He couldn’t let it get a hold of him again; he had to stay focused for his mother. He just didn’t know if he should try to find her or wait for Alex to contact him.

He decided that having the answers to those ‘thought-provoking’ questions that Alex had asked could only benefit him in his search, and it could help him to figure out what motivates Alex. If he could do that, maybe then he could find him...and his mother. But to get those answers he’d need help.

He would need help from her this time; she won't be able to refuse him if she knows it’s about his mother. She told me that she hoped I could find my mother. Helping me in my quest shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for her. I hope.

* * * *

"Miss Parker, are you in here?" Broots asks as he gazes into her office, her seemingly empty office, from the doorway.

"Yeah Broots, I’m here. What do you need?" Her voice reaches him from her behind her desk, the back of her chair the only object between them.

"You’re not going to believe this, but I was checking your email for discrepancies today, and there was a video attachment on one of them." He says with an air of disbelief in his voice. She sits up straighter, and turns her chair around to face him.

He checked everyone’s email transmissions now, ever since Lyle and Raines had found out that Jarod was escaping lately due to tip-offs from inside the Centre. It was required of him to check and make daily reports on incoming and outgoing messages. He didn’t like invading Miss Parker or Sydney’s privacy, but they both said they understood. They were obviously surer then he was that nothing would show up to discredit either of them. He knew in the past there had been contact between Sydney and Jarod, and was worried that Sydney would make the mistake to provide information to Jarod without covering his tracks. He doubted Miss Parker would provide Jarod with any help, but it’s not exactly as if she was an open book. You can never count on her to be predictable when it comes to her feelings about Jarod. If either of them needed to communicate with Jarod, he would help them.

"Who is it from?" It was clear that her voice had already become increasingly more irritable as her day at the Centre dragged on. It never seemed to be over until she got home, and then she was right back here in the morning.

"That’s what you’re not going to believe." Broots waits, leaving Miss Parker in suspense before he lets this new drama unfold. He sees that Miss Parker is about to make a comment about him not being able to bring a point to an ice pick or something to that effect. And, not in the mood for her witty sarcasm, he ends his dramatics and tells her in a hushed whisper; "It’s from Alex."

At the mention of the man who tried to kill her father and her, she snaps her head up and gives him her full attention. "What was on it?"

"I only watched long enough to know that it was from Alex. I just came in here to let you know that you should check it."

"Broots, make sure no one else sees it. As soon as I’m done get rid of it, I don’t want any one to know about this." Broots made his way out the door after saying goodnight and promising to delete any trace of that email. He had no qualms about doing it; maybe if it was from Jarod, but it wasn’t, so he had no obligation to report this communication between Alex and Miss Parker to Raines or Lyle.

What possible reason could Alex have for contacting her? She had thought that Alex had died. Jarod had told her that he fell to his death, but the Centre’s cleanup crew never found a body. That should have been a clue that he was alive. She turned her computer on to see this video email that Alex had sent her.

"Miss Parker, I heard about your father, I’m sorry. Really. It’s a tragedy that I wasn’t the one to cause his death, but at least now, he’s gone. Now I can focus all my energies on torturing Jarod. And with your help, I will finally have Jarod where I want him. Whether you are aware of it or not, you will be helping me get to Jarod. And you won’t even know it, but he will, in the end. He’s going to come to you tonight for help. You will not be able to refuse, whether you believe that you will be his downfall or not, you can't refuse him. I don't believe you ever could, not really, not if it meant he would be in danger. Well, I have to go check on my guest now. Jarod will fill you in on the details. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to talk some time in the near future."

Shocked she stared at the screen as his evil face faded away. How could she be the downfall of Jarod? If there was any credence to what Alex had said was true, then she would have to restrain herself from helping Jarod. She’s caused enough trouble for him already; she couldn’t stand it if he was hurt... or worse. Alex would not be able to get to him through her that’s for sure. What if he was baiting her so that she wouldn’t help Jarod? Great, the man’s already confused the rules and regulations of the damn game for her. She brought her fist down on her desk with a loud thud, and a curse, as pain shot up her hand. Her own fault, maybe. But she was going to blame Alex, regardless. That man is the plague.

* * * *

Another day wasted at the Centre. Another day searching for a man she had no intention of returning to that hell. He did not need to know that, she could barely admit it to herself. If he found out he would never leave her alone. His constant pleading for her to leave the Centre behind would become more insistent, he might even voice his request this time. That would be a change from all the silent ones she had turned down over the years. And if he actually voices his request, she’d be hard-pressed to turn him down. God help her, she would do it, but it just might kill her.

Unless…She hadn’t stopped thinking about what Alex had said in that video email today. It would be appropriate of him to trick her, so that she would end up leaving Jarod trapped in whatever web Alex was weaving, all because she was afraid that she’d be his downfall. Maybe she could… a sigh escaped her. She dropped herself stomach first onto the couch to lie down. Maybe she should just help Jarod. If Alex was telling the truth about him even wanting her help. She yawned; her eyes felt extra heavy tonight. Better let them rest for a minute before navigating the stairs to her room.
Mixed Emotions by Staceysedge
Mixed Emotions

She woke with a start; she had fallen asleep on the couch. She moved her neck from side to side to work out any kinks before they set in. It was still nighttime, so why did she wake up?

A squeak. A noise had awakened her. It came from inside her house…there it is again. She rolls off the couch into a crouch, squinting to see in the dark. It had come from the kitchen.

Was someone in her fridge getting a snack? The nerve. She was sure she had heard her refrigerator door squeak open. She had no idea how it had developed a squeak, but it had, and she was glad for that right now. It gave her an advantage --as if she needed one-- to know where the intruder was.

Making her way slowly to her linen closet where she keeps an extra gun, it hits her. What criminal in their right mind would make themselves a snack in the middle of committing a felony? She almost laughed.

It had to be Jarod, who else could it be. But that’s not a reason to take a chance, she would have to make sure it was him before she could let her guard down. The email from Alex had left her on edge.

Peeking around the corner into the kitchen, she sees him. He’s crouched down rummaging in her fridge, for God knows what, and in the process providing her with a wonderful opportunity to see his backside… while he’s not running. She grinned, then cocked her gun. "I didn’t know lab-rats could open doors. What are you doing in my fridge?" He spun around dropping the box of ho-ho’s… she had no idea why or how that was even in her fridge.

"Oh goody, a gun pointed at my chest. That will make this meeting of ours so much more distinguishable from all the other times we have been in a room together. Are you always so predictable?" Before she realized it, he was already upon her and removing the gun from her hands. ‘Pay attention’ she chastised herself. He had already disarmed her before they could even start an argument…round one to Jarod.

He grinned when she asked, "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Are you saying that it pleases you when I visit?" The resulting glare from her told him that he should fight the urge to tease her. He bent over to pick up his ho-ho’s. He placed the box back in the fridge after grabbing two of the foil wrapped snacks. He offered her one; she shook her head no.

"What are you doing here Jarod?" Sitting at her table, she watched him wolf down both of the ho-ho’s.

He mumbled something around the food in his mouth and she couldn’t make it out. She got up and got a glass of milk for him. He drained the glass and looked into her eyes. He had a milk-mustache, but despite that, he looked dead serious.

"I need your help."

"I beg your pardon!" She practically screeched.

He just grinned and said, "You don’t have to beg. You just have to help me."

"With what? Why?" She asked skeptically, not wanting him to know she would help him in a heart beat right now, if Alex’s warning wasn’t nagging at her. Maintaining a balanced image of suspicion and stubbornness is something Jarod could handle, so that’s exactly what she did. If she showed any concern other than obligatory interest, he may become suspicious and then she would have to tell him about Alex’s message. And if she told him about that, then he would realize that she did care. A great deal of time and effort had been spent on her part in making sure that he never noticed just how much she cared. ‘Cause if he did…’

"Ultimately, it’s about finding my mother. But, initially I need to find out who your father is, and who your baby brothers real parents are." The way he said it, he sounded hopeful, as if she might actually know the answers already. But why did he need that information, what did it have to do with him and his mother?

"Excuse me? Did I hear you right? How is that going to help you find your mother?"

Her tone was incredulous. Jarod started to worry.

He would need those answers if he was going to stay in this game with Alex. His motivation in life seemed to be to torture Jarod. He was accomplishing that through his mother. Jarod could not really see how any of the answers to the questions Alex had him wondering about could torment him. So, maybe he was motivated by something else. The only way to find out is to uncover the truth. Which brings him back to Miss Parker. He needed her to find out the truth about these two mysteries.

"All right Miss Parker, let me explain. I got a video email from Alex, and he has my mother." He related the whole message to her so that she could understand why those answers were so important to him. Her demeanor changed from outright incredulity to…wait, what emotion is that? It looks like fear, but what does she have to be afraid of? He blinked and, shook his head to clear it. When he opened his eyes to try to read the emotion sparkling back at him, he started. The emotion that was developing was worse than her being afraid.

Maybe he was reading her wrong, he hoped he was reading her wrong. If he wasn’t, then it looked like he would not be getting her assistance after all. He had seen this look before; it was her preparing for an argument she had no intention of losing, her resistance would build slowly. Unlike most other people, instead of breaking her down with sound reasoning as the debate continued, she would become more adamant in her refusal to listen.

He had to know though. "Will you help me find those answers Miss Parker?" As soon as he asked her, her eyes became stony and whatever emotion that had been there before vanished and all that was left was an impassive wall of silence. She cleared her throat to speak.

"I’ll help you find the answers, but that’s it. I don’t want anything more to do with this once you have them. Is that clear?" He nodded. She couldn’t help snapping off that last comment. Being nice and docile towards him was out of the question if she was going to keep them¾ him, out of danger.

Voice gruff with emotion, he looks directly at her. "Thank you Parker, you don’t know how much this means to me." He was silently surprised that she was willing to help, but he was not going to push it and ask why. Fortunately, he didn’t have to.

"I’m not doing this for you. I want to know the truth about my father and my baby brother too. Working with you can only speed up the process." Being hostile was her only line of defense here. How else could she avoid that look of tenderness that he was directing at her? If he looked at her like that much longer, she would not be able to conceal her feelings from him. But she had to. It was the only way to keep him safe. She had to keep her distance. He was already getting too close, getting her to reveal truths to herself that she hadn’t thought possible before. Her feelings for him were too strong now and there was no denying what they were…at least to herself. But to Jarod, she would deny him the truth forever if she had to. She was not about to lose him because she didn’t heed the warning from that sociopath.

"Whatever you say Miss Parker. Can I stay here?" He cocks his head and waits for a response.

"What?" She squeaks out, eyes about to pop out of their sockets.

He heard fear in her voice, he was sure this time that that was the emotion. He did not understand where it was coming from, and he only hoped it didn’t have to do with him. He never wanted her to be afraid of him. He would never hurt her.

‘What is Wonder-boy trying to do here, break down all my walls in one night?’ Parker wondered to herself, fearful of the proximity his staying here would keep them in.

Him staying here would keep them in contact much easier and safer than anything else she could think of would. It would therefore make this task they were undertaking move along much quicker, she reasoned with herself, looking for any rationale that was reasonable enough for her to let him stay. The only real problem she could see was what his presence would do to her. His presence could cause her to lose her focus. If she was going to be responsible for his safety, than it wouldn’t be sound judgement if she let him distract her.

She could not let him stay here. She opened her mouth to tell him but he was already repeating his request.

"Can I stay here? The closer we work together the sooner we should find our answers, and I’d rather not do this over the phone."

His clarification forced her to relent. At least it was the same reason she had come up with, she rationalized.

She was still uneasy about it. Granted, she could keep a more watchful eye on him and make sure he was safe if he was staying here. However, that would mean she would have to remain indifferent and impassive 24 hours a day, for however long he would need to be there. Being this close to him for the weeks time until Alex’s phone call. ‘This is going to be torture.’

"Fine, sure, why not. You can stay in the guest room, I am sure you know where it is. Goodnight." She got up from the table and went straight to her room.

Jarod contemplated whether he should get some sleep. He decided that he would need to figure out a way for Miss Parker to get the information that he would need to uncover the truth instead. In addition, he needed to make sure whatever he would need her to do, that it would not cast any suspicion in her direction. He got started right away.

* * * *

Authors Note: Alright, I was gonna make this part longer, but I’m going to be busy for the next week with finals, so I decided to just put out what I’ve already written. So, let me know if you like it. Because honestly, I spend so much more time writing this than I do writing my papers for school, its not even funny. Please R&R. And I don’t mean rest and relaxation. Not to pressure you or anything. *grins*
Too Close! by Staceysedge
Author's Note: I added a disclaimer to chapter one, apparently I forgot to put one in there.

Too Close!

Two days later they still had not gotten any definitive answers. The only progress he had made so far was in obtaining Baby Parker's DNA. He did not know whom he should try to match it against. It was highly unlikely that Mr. Parker was the father, considering Miss Parker's paternity. Alex seemed to think that they didn't know whom either of the baby's parents were. But, if Brigitte gave birth… he would like to assume she was the mother, but the Centre is capable of many things. A wrong assumption now could be fatal. He would have to check everything.

He would start by determining the baby's blood type and go from there.

* * * *

"Hey, Lab Rat, you ok?" Parker asked as she sat down next to a dazed Jarod.

"What? Yes, yeah, fine. I'm fine." Jarod uncharacteristically ran his words over one another. Something was bothering him.

His hair was standing on end. Jarod looked exhausted and… distressed. In his life, she knows of only one thing that could be the cause of that… the Centre. Since he had answered her, he had fallen back into his daze. She looked around his 'work station' for the piece of information that had him in such a stupor. All he had out in front of him though, were a microscope and a printout. She could not make heads or tails out of the data that Jarod had recorded there.

She turned to her side to face him, but he was still string straight ahead. She snapped her fingers in front of his face. The first time did not work. She did it again. He blinked and swiveled in his chair looking bewildered.

"Miss Parker, when did you get here?" He asked nonchalantly, trying to cover up his surprise at having her sitting right beside him.

Looking down he saw the DNA results in her hands. 'Uh-oh' he thought.

"Wake up Jarod. If I had been a sweeper team, you would be back at the Centre by now, getting up-close and personal with Lyle's instruments of torture. Not only that, but I would be in a whole shit-load of trouble… if you were caught… here -- where it is plainly apparent that you've been staying. This kind of carelessness cannot happen again, Jarod. Jarod, hey are you even listening to me?" She followed his line of vision down to her hands. Jarod's hand that was previously inching its way closer to the papers was quickly withdrawn.

"What is this?" She holds the papers up after taking note of his actions, suspicion raging in full force.

"Nothing for you to worry about." He quickly grabs the papers from her. A sigh of relief escapes him, glad that she had not been able to decipher the genetic codes strewn across the pages. He quickly shuts them inside his Halliburton briefcase by his side.

"Oh no you don't. If that has something to do with the reason for our current, and temporary 'alliance' then I demand to know what it is." She reached around him for the briefcase. As soon as she had a grip on the handle, Jarod quickly reacted to flip the lock on the right side of the briefcase in place. Before he can flip the lock on the left down, she jumps out of the chair and swings the case away from him.

She was really pissed now. Here she is risking her life… possibly his life, which happens to be causing major emotional turmoil within her right now… and her sanity by working with him and he's withholding information. 'Damn it' she thought. 'He's always a pain in the ass, whether he's here or thousands of miles away on the phone.'

Parker took the case with her into the kitchen, and grabbed a screwdriver out of her 'utility' drawer. She set the case down on the counter and inserted the flat head into the unlocked side of the briefcase to try to pry it open. Unfortunately, she only succeeded in bending her previously touted unbreakable screwdriver. She tossed it back in the drawer angrily and stomped back over to Jarod's 'work station' where she left him.

He had only just gotten out of his chair when Parker returned to the room. He eyed her warily. There was no way she could open the Halliburton without the use of a blowtorch, even with one side being unlocked. His only concern right now was to pacify the furiously angry Parker… the dangerous woman that now stood in front of him.

"Parker, calm down…ufgh." She thrust the briefcase into his stomach.

"Open it." She demanded sharply. When he continued to stay slightly bent over from the force with which she shoved the briefcase into him, she added in a low growl, "Now."

He slowly straightened. He moved the case onto the table, one arm covering his abdomen in pain, the other repeatedly clenching and unclenching into a tight fist. He glared at her for a second and then looked away. Jarod continued to ignore her as he walked into the kitchen.

Parker saw that he was in pain, and felt sorry for her actions. Her remorse soon turned to disbelieving anger as he exited the room without a word. Her face fell into a bewildered pose.

"Get back in here Jarod, and open the damn case!" She was ready to explode.

Parker waited a full minute for him to return. When he didn't, she went to the kitchen. She found him there all right. Except he was bent over at the counter, clearly still in pain. The obscenity that she had been preparing to yell at him fell silent before it could pass her lips. She slowly walked towards him, and not wanting to seem too concerned, tried to use the same tone of voice she had been dishing her anger at him in, to ask if he was all right.

He knew it was a bad idea, but he needed to get her mind away from the contents contained inside the briefcase. It wasn’t completely an act. He was in pain. Just not as much as he was going to make her believe. He groaned again after he tried to take a deep breath. With his head resting on the counter, his hair had fallen over his forehead, but he could see out of the corner of his eye. He saw her wince at the 'pain' she had caused him. He heard her voice crack, almost imperceptibly if he hadn't been paying so close attention, when she roughly asked if he was all right.

He looked up at her then. The smile that he felt on his face at her concern would look like a grimace of pain to her. He would feel guilty for this performance later, he was sure of it.

That surety that he was feeling was solidified when she apologized. He probably wasn't supposed to have heard it, it was just above a whisper, and was most likely meant to ease her peace of mind, but he did hear it. Now with his back to her as he walked out of the kitchen, he did smile.

* * * *

"God damn-it!" She viciously whispered to herself. And again in a whisper, she added, "I always end up hurting him." Parker had been lying in bed for an hour now, her mind berating herself repeatedly for causing him pain. If the information he had were important, he would have given it to her. He's never lied to her before, why would he start now. She should not have lost control earlier. However, her options were limited. He would expect previously demonstrated behavioral tendencies from her. Given the fact that she was angered, her reaction was suitable.

Her emotions had been all over the place since he had been there, though. Actually, that’s not true. They weren't all over the place, just in a place that they had not been recently. Except with him, it was all day everyday.

She would see him in the morning…her stomach would tie itself in knots.

Her mind would wonder what Jarod was doing while she was at work… time, thankfully, flew by.

She would leave the Centre --slightly earlier than usual, but they had, uh, important things to work out. When she did get home though… her stomach would untie itself and do flip-flops.

When they sat down together the two previous nights to discuss uncovered information, she had been so close to him… her mind would go blank, only able to concentrate on Jarod, and the energy that emanated from him.

She would breathe in to shake herself of that reverie only to catch his scent… her stomach would tighten, and she would lean in closer.

The closeness would lead to inadvertent brushes of legs, arms, and hands… Parker would hold her breath, hoping to retain that feeling.

Seeing him after he was freshly showered only wearing his towel… her pulse skyrocketed.

The meals they shared, forgetting what their roles were, they had laughed as if they had never stopped being friends. Only his laugh was too infectious, and the grin that went along with it was heart stopping.

"Damn-it!" She whispered again. She had gotten too close.

Authors Note: I'll try to get the next part out in a more timely fashion, but I make no promises. Hope you enjoyed what there was of this installment. I always intend to make them longer, but I never do. I apologize again for writing so slowly. Opinions would be great, thanks.
Breaking Down Her Defenses by Staceysedge
Breaking Down Her Defenses.

Her back was to him as he crept soundlessly into her office. She was speaking in hushed tones with Broots.

Broots looked over her shoulder nervously, his eyes warning Miss Parker of Lyle's presence. She halted mid-sentence and turned around, a fake smile plastered on her face.

"Nice to see you Lyle. What brings you down here this late?"

She was the epitome of calmness and charisma. Had she been rude and sarcastic, he wouldn't have thought twice about it. A preoccupied mind, the culprit of his sister's error. Her attempt at civility had aroused his suspicion. He was going to make a point of retrieving the audio files for her office. His sister did not want him to know about something, and Broots was helping her keep it from him.

"I just came by to give you an update on my pursuit of Jarod. I haven't had any promising leads all week. Dad asked that I come by to see if you had anything more substantial. So Sis, any news on the Lab-rats wanderings?" He aimed his eyes at her; she didn't blink, she just stared right back. He swiveled his neck a hare to look at Broots, who was having troubling holding his head up. His eyes were glued to the floor.

If the tapes were inconclusive... then he was destined to corner Broots for the information. Whether it had to do with Jarod or not; his sister's actions had been the cause of a lot of suffering for him. He was not going to let that happen again. He would not be answering for her actions against the Centre or anyone else.

"No Lyle. Nothing but crumbs. All of my leads have gone cold recently."

"I thought you two were working on a new lead?" Lyle asked questioningly.

"Nice try Lyle, but I make reports on my findings. Reports that you have access to." She replied bitingly, her civility towards her brother wearing thin quickly.

"I'm not following. What exactly are you trying to say?" He had to keep her talking. Even if she didn't let something slip, the computer geek might speak up.

"I'm not trying to…" she paused irritated at having been drawn into this stupid game with him again. "This little impromptu meeting we just had... is over. Buh-bye."

He didn't have enough time to think let alone respond before she had shoved him out, locking the door behind him. Collecting her thoughts and breathing deeply, in and then out, she jumped right back into her conversation with Broots.

"Are you sure? Have you talked to him yet? Do you think he…? " She quickly asked the questions as they came to her, hesitating as the reality of her situation began to seep into her mind. She slowly lowered herself onto her sofa to rest her head in her hands. Her world was changing too much lately.

"I'm positive Miss Parker. I wouldn't have come to you with this if I wasn't. And this time I used a friend of mine from college to run the tests. He knows nothing about the Centre, and the Centre has no reason to know anything about him. I was with him the whole time." He paused to let that sink in. To let her know that this time the answer to her question was conclusive.

"Miss Parker, I, uh, haven't told him. You told me to keep this to myself and I will. It's in your hands now." Reaching behind his back, he pulled out a folder.

He smiled gently as he handed it to her. Her hand was shaking as she took it. Her emotions were mixed and Broots recognized her uncertainty, but was confused with…'oh, so that's what she looks like happy?!' The mixed happiness slowly faded from her face, leaving only uncertainty, as her brain began to think again. The last question she was about to ask floated into his head at that moment, and he attempted to allay her concerns.

"I don't think he knew. And now, he won't know unless you tell him." He quickly said goodnight and wished her luck with whatever she it was she was doing. He headed for his computer to erase the audio from her office before he went home.

Opening the folder, he tried to locate the time interval he wanted erased, but it wasn't there. Well, it was still there, but it was just a reference to the file being accessed. Someone had sloppily copied and then deleted it.

Nervously biting his nails, he resolved himself to cover the tracks for whoever had made a tape of that audio file. When he finished he jumped out of his chair and began walking quickly back to warn Miss Parker. He racked his brain to remember what was said as they spoke about the results on the tests he had run.

When he knocked on her door, she didn't answer. Dropping his hand to the door handle, he applied pressure to turn it, but it was locked. She must have left after he gave her the file.

He cursed himself. Now he would have to deal with her over the phone. For some strange reason, it was harder for him to accept her attitude without her being present. In person, he was able to rectify her misdirected anger at him with the luxury of seeing her stalk madly about him. She was very beautiful when she was angry. He chuckled at that thought, frowned and then gulped as his trembling hand dialed her home number.

No reason to bother her if she's still on the road. After three rings, the machine picked up. He could always leave a message. No exact information though, just that she should give him a call back ASAP.

* * * *

After listening to the man stumble through his message, Jarod went back to the window to peek out again at Miss Parker.

She had been sitting slumped over the steering column now for ten minutes. He wanted to go to her. To find out what was wrong.

The moment he reached for the door to the garage entrance, he heard her car door slam shut. He went to meet her at the front door.

When he saw her tear-stained face, he moved to take her into his arms. With no attempt at sidestepping him, she walked wearily into his embrace, causing him a moment of shock.

The shock quickly abated as he felt her trembling form in his arms. His newfound joy of holding her would have to wait. She needed comforting and he would give it to her, before he relished the fact that she was in his arms.

Pulling back slightly, he eased them into the living room to sit on the sofa. He kept his movements slow and steady; he did not want Parker to realize exactly what she was doing just yet. In her distressed state of mind, she might not be aware that she was being comforted in his arms. Should her behavioral thought process be rekindled… he doubted she would remain where she was.

He sat back on the sofa, and pulled her close to him, hushing her sobs soothingly, while kissing the top of her head.

As her breathing became easier and her sobs less, he began to rub his hand up and down her back slowly. Her leather jacket crinkled and squeaked at the motion, but she didn't stop him.

"Tell me what happened." He asked her softly.

Picking her head up from its resting spot against the crook of his neck, she looked up at him. Shaking her head sadly, she extricated herself from his arms.

"My life." She scoffed bitterly. He just looked at her, his face expressing that he understood very well what she meant.

Not ready to expound on that explanation, Parker began playing with the buttons on her jacket. Jarod, sensing her unwillingness to talk took the time to peel his shirt from his skin where her tears had saturated through the fabric.

"Sorry about that Jarod." He looked up to see her staring intently at him.

"It's fine." He reached for her hand to stop her from fidgeting with her jacket. "Tell me." He whispered soothingly.

She shook her head and handed him the file.

He perused it quickly, and then looked up sharply at her, his mouth open in disbelief.

"Parker, I don't understand. How did this…? Are you sure?" He didn't really need her to answer, by the looks of it, she wasn't going to anyway. The file was self-explanatory. The Centre's lies never stopped.

"Who ran the tests?"

Jarod wanted it to be true, but knew that Miss Parker may not feel the same. He wondered just how reliable the results could be this time.

"Broots. He took it to his friend, kept the Centre in the dark for me. Like he said, he wouldn't have brought this to me if he wasn't sure." She looked away to stare at the pictures on her mantel.

"Does he know?"

"I don't think he does." She whispered.

What Jarod heard though, was 'I hope he doesn't'. She would be disappointed if he had known and didn't tell her, despite any dangers he may have perceived. Hell, he'd be disappointed in him too, if he had known and not told her.

Suddenly Broots name popped back into his head. If he had run the tests, than his phone call to Parker may have been important. From his few encounters with the timid tech, Broots had exhibited his usual paranoid delusions. This may be one of the first times Broots paranoid ramblings could have merit.

"Broots?… Broots, he called here Parker. Right before you got home. He said it was urgent that you call him back."

When she left the room to make her phone call, he checked his email. Five days ago Alex had contacted him. He now knew everything that Alex thought he didn't. Except his last name. He had emailed his father about it, but five days later, and no response.

Hurriedly opening his email accounts, he checked them all for incoming messages from his father. As he scrolled down the screen, he saw it. "Yes!"

Who would have thought that was his last name. Weird.

Now he had two days left to look for his mom, and Alex.


Parker walked quietly into the living room to see Jarod staring off into space. She immediately realized the look, and crept back out of the room so he could concentrate.

After making some sandwiches for them, she reentered the living room just as Jarod was regaining his senses. Holding the plates up for him to see the food, the scowl on his face was replaced by a grin.

"Any luck?" She asked, mumbling around the food in her mouth.

"No." Jarod said forlornly. Sighing in despair, he took a big bite of his sandwich.

They finished their sandwiches in silence. Jarod took their plates into the kitchen, returning with two bottles of water. He tossed one to Miss Parker, and opened the one in his hands to quench his thirst.

The silent atmosphere they sat in began to grow uncomfortable for Jarod; he wanted to talk to her.

"How are you doing, Parker?" he queried slowly, referring to events from earlier in the day.

Running a hand through her hair, she averted her eyes from him. She held the bottle up to her lips to swallow some water delaying her response.

When she lowered the bottle, she caught Jarod staring at her in concern. His eyes telling her he wouldn't stop asking until she talked about it with him.

"Jarod. I-I don't know. If I said I was ok, would you leave me alone?" He shook his head, and she smiled at the expected response.

"No, I didn't think so." She paused once more to collect her thoughts. " I'm shocked, and a little numb. I can't say that I've never wished that he was my father though." She looked knowingly at him. "You're probably familiar with that feeling."

"Sydney can't help exuding that fatherly aura. That's who he is." Jarod said lovingly. " Earlier you mentioned that he didn’t know, was the Centre involved?" He asked slightly caustic

"I don't know if they had anything to do with it. Occasionally, I have had the feeling that Sydney was closer to my mother than he lets on. Broots searched the Centre's records. He found nothing on file that would point to their involvement. I'm partial to believing my mother had an affair with Sydney."

"If that's true, Sydney must have had his suspicions." Jarod interjected gently.

"I'm sure he did. I can only assume that my mother, or someone else convinced him otherwise. I don't know how, or when, the Centre learned that Sydney was my father. I am curious as to how they knew Broots would check the bodily fluids storage for my, for Mr. Parker's DNA, though."

"I guess the Centre adopted the Boy Scouts motto, "Be Prepared." Jarod quipped. "They must not have been able to collect a sample from Sydney, so they used Jacobs sperm sample in place of Mr. Parker's, in case you ever became curious. His DNA would be a close enough match to yours, and with you believing it was Mr. Parker's, you would conclude that he must be your father, they never expected you to learn that he had a brother. It was just coincidence that Broots found the adoption papers for Raines at the same time." He explained.

She nodded her head, agreeing with his reasoning.

"What did Broots say?" Jarod asked when she said nothing else.

"My office is still bugged, I've gotten tired of removing the annoying things. So, when he brought me the information, our conversation was recorded. When he went to erase the audio files, they had been copied and deleted. He's worried." She smoothed her hand across the cushion and stood.

"Aren't you?" He stood to face her.

"No. I have a right to know who my father is; I shouldn't have to hide it. I don't see how me knowing could hurt the Centre's interests in… anything." She said vehemently.

"There's no reason to flaunt it though. They must have had a reason to keep it from you. Danger lurks around every corner at the Centre, don't let your anger cloud your judgement Miss Parker."

"How can I not be angry, they stole my father from me. I believed that Mr. Parker was my father for so long, look what that has done to me, what they've done to me. Do you think I would have turned out like this with Sydney as my father?"

"Mostly, maybe less… aggressive." He says carefully. "You'd still be you, the Centre wasn't able to corrupt your soul even with Mr. Parker playing father to you."

Thinking he had nothing to lose, he added, "Now you owe the Centre nothing. Mr. Parker was one of, if not the only, reason you allowed yourself to work there. Maybe it's time you walked away."

She threw her hands up. "I can't just walk away now. I want to get to know my father better, and I just don't know how we're going to do that if you're expecting me to leave now, just because 'nothings' keeping me there. You're wrong Jarod. Broots, Sydney, my baby brother," he cringed, "and even Angelo are all keeping me there. I won't leave them."

"Well then, I'll just have to convince them its time for them to leave the Centre behind as well." He was breaking down her defenses.

A smile spread across his face when she didn't respond. He knew then, that that was her only argument for staying. Score one for Jarod!


She awoke on Saturday morning to the phones incessant ringing. Grumbling, she grabbed her robe, and hurried to pick it up.

The phone was off the hook. The answering machine picked up before she could find the handset. She listened intently for the voice that would allow her to ream this person out for waking her so early on her day off.

The phone had also awakened Jarod. His sleep tousled hair and loud yawn distracted Miss Parker from discerning whose voice was speaking on her machine. When Jarod's face went pale in disbelief, she returned her attention to the voice.

It was Alex.

Author's Note: I think I made it a little longer than usual, yay! I know this may not be as timely as some of you may have liked, but what can I say. I'm lazy? 'Cause I am… and I write slowly. Hope you liked it, tell me what you think.
Emotions are Fleeting by Staceysedge
Emotions are Fleeting.

"Will one of you pick up the phone already¡K or do you want me to hang up?" Alex questioned threateningly.

Giving up on the handset, Miss Parker lunged for the machine and hit the speakerphone button. Jarod spoke up first.

"Alex. So nice of you to keep your word. Where's my mother?" He demanded angrily.

"How are you two doing this morning. I know the past week has been a trying time. You must be so emotionally exhausted." Alex taunted them, purposely ignoring Jarod's question.

Upon hearing Alex's voice, Miss Parker flashed back to what he had said to her in that warehouse all those months ago. He had told her that her father knew all the secrets, except Mr. Parker wasn't her father. She suddenly felt very faint, and barely made it to the couch before her legs gave out on her.

"Alex. " Jarod warned menacingly, as he watched Miss Parker collapse onto the couch. He couldn't let Alex continue his speech. He had a feeling it would lead to more heartache for her, and this time some of her anger would undoubtedly be directed at him. And for the first time, her anger towards him would be justified.

"My mother, Alex. Tell me where she is." Jarod crouched down by the speaker and growled.

"Not yet, Pretender. I need to know if you're worthy. I contacted you one week ago giving you secrets to uncover. Tell me what you've learned. Then we'll discuss your mother." Alex waited patiently for Jarod to answer.

"I know my fathers last name and first name are the same, we know about Sydney, and Baby Parker. Now, tell me." He listed quickly and vaguely what they had learned, not wanting Parker to learn about Baby Parker while they were talking to Alex.

"Really, that surprises me. Why haven't I heard from the hot-tempered, quick-tongued Miss Parker then? I doubt she would be so quiet if she knew. Jarod, did you forget to tell her about her son? Tsk, Tsk, Jarod. Secrets are the Centre's forte, I had no idea you were capable of holding secrets too."

The answering machine was rattled when Jarod brought his fist down on the end table it sat on, his temper flaring. He stole a glance at Parker. She held his eyes in a death grip with her own. Standing slowly, she walked menacingly up to him, barely able to control her body from shaking. Jarod looked like an abused dog, afraid its owner was going to kick him again. She crouched down to eye level, where he was crouched by the phone set.

Not able to look her in the eye any longer, he dropped his head. She wouldn't allow this though, and whipped her hand out, grabbing a hold of his chin and yanking it back up in a firm grip.

Her voice unsteady, she pleaded, "Please, tell me he's lying Jarod." She could handle a lie from Alex. But if Alex was telling the truth, then Jarod had lied¡K to her. And with that one lie from Jarod, all the certainty that her life would be fine as long as she had Jarod, would be gone.

Her certainty in her life was that the truth always has a way of finding light from its darkness. Jarod had always been the one to bring things to light for her. If he was the one keeping things in the dark, then she had no truth.

When it became apparent that he wasn't going to answer her, she stood and walked away. Her tears able to make their escape from the pools that had collected in her eyes while she waited for his answer. He was left alone to deal with Alex.


Later that night
"How could you not tell me? You had no right to keep that kind of information from me." She was disappointed. She thought she knew Jarod better than this, evidently she was wrong.

"I was going to tell you Parker, I really was. I was waiting for the right time. I didn¡¦t think you¡¦d be able to just sit idly by and wait. It was hard enough for me to do just that. I am a man of action, you know. I couldn¡¦t take the chance of telling you. I was afraid you¡¦d go off half-cocked and storm the Centre." He desperately tried to calm her down. His explanation had made perfect sense in his head just two seconds ago. Her reaction told him otherwise.

"I am not unreasonable Jarod, I am sure you could have talked me out of my impulse to get my son. I know how much family means to you, and if you had told me it was better to wait to get 'our' son, do you think, just maybe, I would have listened? We¡¦ll never know if I could have trusted in your ability to right this situation though, because you didn't give me that chance. You didn't trust me." She stopped her pacing and wild arm gestures now to look at him. He wasn't even trying to defend himself anymore. Not that there was any way to justify his lying to her. Having him sit there dejectedly, accepting this berating from her because he knew he deserved it, wasn't satisfying her.

"I need some space¡KI." She grabbed her purse, pulled on her jacket, and made a beeline for the front door. Her actions were a little out of the ordinary. Normally she relished in these confrontational situations, but she cared for Jarod. And although she was disappointed in him now, it didn¡¦t mean it would last for too long. It¡¦s hard to keep a good mad going when you have someone like Jarod who is so sincere in his apologies. The verbal and non-verbal kind. Not to mention that he was just trying to do what was best for all of them.

Jarod saw that she was heading out. He knew now that she wasn¡¦t about to whisk their son away from the Centre without a plan. She was right though; he should have trusted her to do the right thing.

She was opening the door. He had no idea where or why she was going. No, he had an idea why, he just didn¡¦t know where. They needed to talk. Now.

He rushed after her and as soon as she had stepped one foot out the door, he squeezed himself out in front of her so he was outside.

"Where do you think you¡¦re going?" He questioned. It was typical of her to walk away without talking about her feelings. Only she had talked to him about Sydney. Maybe he should let her deal with her anger towards him first before he tries to talk with her anymore.

"I¡¦m getting the hell away from you." She lashed out. If she could make him mad¡K It would be so much easier to stay mad at him if he were mad at her.

"We should talk."

"I don¡¦t want to talk about this. You know what I want right now. I¡¦ll tell you. I want to go to a bar, and find a man so that I can forget how utterly disappointed I am in you. I won¡¦t have to think about how you could possibly be so heartless as to not let me know I¡¦m a mother." She knew he wouldn't approve, and had succeeded in raising his anger just a little bit more when he narrowed his eyes at her.

She had no real intentions of finding a man. Removing herself from Jarod¡¦s presence was her only goal. All she wanted was to get away and think. Maybe find a beach to sit on and listen to the waves lapping at the shore. To relax. To tell herself that Jarod¡¦s reasons for keeping that information to himself were good.

The truth was his intentions were always good, and were usually on target. He didn¡¦t need to know that - he can believe what he wants to right now.

"You are not going anywhere." He couldn¡¦t believe what he was hearing. She just finds out that she¡¦s the mother of his child and she wants to go sleep with another man!

"Ohhho, Jarod I don¡¦t think you¡¦re one to be telling me what I can and can¡¦t do right now. The only way I¡¦d accept that kind of treatment from anyone is if I was married to them, and you are so far from being my husband right now, that Broots probably fits the bill better than you." She recognized her mistake immediately. She had said right now. She closed her eyes praying he missed it.

Opening them again she lowered her voice and ground out between clenched teeth and a smile. "Now get out of my way, before I move you myself."

"What about your friend, does he have any say, any influence over your actions?" He asked in reference to himself.

"Yes. Friends don¡¦t let friends drive drunk, Jarod. That¡¦s the extent of influence my friend has over my actions. He doesn¡¦t stop me from going out to get laid." She inched up to him getting ready to shove him aside. When he spoke though she stopped, her jaw dropping as a result of his unexpected proposition.

"You don¡¦t need to go out and find a stranger for that, you can get laid right here. If that¡¦s what you want." He issued the challenge knowing what her reaction might be. He had narrowed it down to a slap in the face or a punch in the gut. But Miss Parker did neither. She merely cocked her head to the side. He couldn¡¦t believe it; ¡¥it looks as though she¡¦s actually considering it.'

She wasn¡¦t going to let him get away with this. Turning her emotions around on her like that. Yes. She had entertained the idea. Now that that second was over, it was time to turn the tables and get back at him for¡Keverything. Yes it was very immature of her, but he had no right to even suggest it. Time for him to be used. She shrugged out of her jacket and threw her purse on the couch. ¡¥I knew I wouldn¡¦t stay mad at him for long. Damn it.¡¦

"You¡¦re right Jarod, no use in wasting my time searching for a partner, when I¡¦ve got someone ready, willing and able right here."

¡¥Now he¡¦s staring slack-jawed at me, so far so good.¡¦ She grabbed his hand and started leading him on a direct path to her bedroom. "Remember one thing Jarod, this is just sex. It¡¦s just a means to an end; to forget."

At least that¡¦s what she wanted him to believe, she did not intend to actually sleep with him tonight based on that pretense. When they did sleep together, it would be to make love... ¡¥Oh great! Now I¡¦m getting all emotional. That¡¦s another transgression that Jarod will have to pay for.¡¦ Her aim tonight was to leave him aroused and disappointed.

She turned around to gauge his reaction after passing through her bedroom door. He just nodded in agreement with the boundary she had just set, which was somewhat surprising. Jarod didn¡¦t seem like the kind of man to accept sex as a hobby. He always tacked meaning and emotions to everything, why was it different now? And why did it even matter? She shook herself of those thoughts, before slowly unbuttoning her blouse.

She would get him aroused and then leave him wanting more. That was the plan. Never deviate from the plan. Do not even think about deviating from the plan.

He couldn¡¦t believe what she was doing. When did he lose control? He had thought that she was upset with him, and that was why she wanted to get away. He was wrong. Dead wrong if her actions were any indication. She asked him if he understood that this was just sex. He had no clue what she was talking about, he was still trying to figure out her motives, but he nodded his head anyway. By the time his thoughts caught up with his actions, she was already down to her underwear. He couldn¡¦t get his voice to work, so he couldn¡¦t inform her that it could never be just sex between them. He had to try¡K

¡¥Uh-oh! She¡¦s removing my clothes now too!¡¦ Reasoning with her now would take an act of God, because he didn¡¦t think he could form one coherent thought, and he doubted he¡¦d be able to voice it if he did. And if by some chance he could get his voice to work, he doubted that it would entail him wanting her to stop. He would just have to use this fortuitous opportunity to make love to her. To do that he¡¦d need to wrench control away from her. If he didn¡¦t she just might get what she wants from him... and then kick him to the curb.

He was aroused. So far so good. The only problem she saw so far was that he was having an affect on her tooƒnƒ{ and he wasn¡¦t even trying. Now standing there in her underwear, while scrutinizing him in his boxers she almost forgot her game plan. She stepped up to him, slid her hands up his chest to wrap around his neck. She slowly urged his head down for a kiss.

As soon as their lips met, she knew she had lost. He was devouring her, branding her with his tongue. The only thing she could do was respond. And moan. His hands had claimed her butt and were pulling her closer, so that no space was left between them. She had to stop this¡Kshe couldn¡¦t let it be a simple roll in the hay.

Wait. If he was under the impression that this was just casual sex, then maybe he didn¡¦t want it to be anything more. Her anger was back in full force this time.

Growling "Stop!" she shoved at his chest until they were completely separated, dragging in oxygen that their lungs had been deprived of.

"I don¡¦t¡KI.I don¡¦t understand. Miss Park-" He didn¡¦t get to finish because she interrupted.

"Well let me make it perfectly then Jarod. There is nothing and no one on God¡¦s green earth that could convince me to have a casual encounter of the sexual kind, with you." There was no way she could write off sex with Jarod as just sex.

Nevertheless, it looked as if he was prepared to do just that with her. "Get out!" she yelled and shoved him out of her room, before slamming the door on his thoroughly confused face.

Outside Miss Parker¡¦s bedroom door, Jarod asks aloud "What just happened?" A chill crept over his skin reminding him that he¡¦s practically naked. He lopes into the guestroom where he had been sleeping to grab a pair of jeans and a button up shirt. He¡¦d deal with Miss Parker when he¡¦s warm and dressed. And if she opens the door.

Authors Note: I don't know how realistic this particular situation is¡Kbut it came to me when I was writing and I went with it. Hope you like, as usual any comments are great, thanks.
Good News, and Bad News by Staceysedge
Good News, and Bad News.

"Jarod. Will you keep your eyes on the road please? You won't get to see her if we get in an accident." She reminded.

He turned his attention back to the road. They had left in the morning to meet Alex and his mother. The only words Parker and him had exchanged was his relaying of Alex's instructions. Other than that, she had been cold and distant towards him since last night.

Slowing as he approached the warehouse, he glanced out of the corner of his eye to look at her again. Her face was locked on the warehouse looming out of her passenger window; most likely she was remembering the last time she was here.

Jarod cursed himself for not thinking to look here for Alex, the place where he had supposedly died. Pushing open his door, he dropped his left foot to rest on the ground, while the rest of his body remained in the car. He reached around the seat to grab his jacket, and made a move to exit the car.

The warmth of her hand on his arm stopped him; the inch he had moved off his seat soon dissipated. Raking his gaze away from his arm where her hand was resting, he looked into her eyes questioningly.

"What are you doing?"

"You're not going in there Jarod." She answered calmly.

He would have laughed had she not looked so serious.

"Of course I’m going in, he has my mother. I won't leave her." Flicking her hand away from him, he jumped up out of the car angrily slamming his door.

Parker followed his actions and did the same. She hurried to catch up to him, as he was already making his way to the warehouse door.

"Stop, Jarod. Just wait a minute." She called out, still a few yards behind him. She could not match his determined pace.

When he ignored her, she knew she had no other choice.

"Jarod, I said stop." The click of her gun cocking stopped him mid-stride.

He mumbled something to himself, and then turned to look at her.

"Are you kidding me Parker? Do you really expect me to walk away from my mother?" His voice was a low growl.

She walked to him, still training her gun on his chest. Jarod shifted on his feet uncomfortably.

"No I don't expect you to do that. If you would just listen to me instead of jumping to conclusions, I wouldn't have to resort to this." She motioned to her gun, then slowly dropped it to her side, before putting it back in its holster.

"Fine. I'm listening." He crossed his arms over his chest.

She eyed his arms. With that tight black shirt he was wearing, she could see all his muscles straining tightly against the material.

"Alex is expecting both of us. He wants to hurt you, and he has your mother. Now connect the dots, and tell me what's going to happen." She poked him in the chest to emphasize her point.

"H-he's going to hurt her?" He whispered brokenly. He looked her in the eyes after voicing the only conclusion that came to mind.

"Or worse. He wants to hurt you, Jarod. Were you not listening to him? That's what he said his 'purpose' in life was now, breaking you. Hurting you physically is not enough, he wants to hurt you mentally, and if that means using your mother, well, I would guess that is exactly what he is doing. Now go sit in the car like a good little boy, and let me get your mother."

She marched past him with her gun drawn, pointed at the ground.

"No." He had followed directly behind her, and was just inches away.

She spun, with her gun raised.

"Jesus, Jarod, don't sneak up on me! I thought you were going to the car." The adrenaline zipping through her veins, fizzled as she put her hand to her chest, relieved it was just Jarod behind her.

Not about to let her fight his battles for him, he grabbed her by the hand. He dragged her away from the warehouse's door, and out of sight from the only window not boarded up.

"We’re not going to sit here and argue. Alex is most likely watching us. Now, I suggest we go in together, or you can go wait in the car. Make up your mind, because whether you like it or not, I am going in there." Jarod ranted softly for her.

Gritting her teeth, Miss Parker stared over Jarod's shoulder. He had to make the situation more difficult than it needed to be. He always needed to be the hero. Jarod never cared if he got hurt in the process; if he thought he was able to fix something, he would do it.

"Why do you have to be so difficult? You know I'm right Jarod. If you don't want to wait in the car, then wait outside the warehouse, and be discreet about it, ok?"

He contemplated his options for a moment. Parker had a point. Alex would have the upper hand if he went in there, and Parker, unlike him, was a master at hiding her emotional weaknesses, especially in the heat of battle. She would be able to handle anything Alex threw at her. Not only that it would throw Alex's assumption about him off. Alex knew how important family was to him, and was expecting him to personally rescue his mother himself. If Jarod did not show up then Alex's plan would fail.

He was still confused as to why Miss Parker would care what Alex had in store for him. Maybe she sees his mother as the only way to find out what was on the scrolls. He finally nodded his head resignedly.

"I'll wait… for a while. You've got five minutes, and then I'm coming in." Jarod huffed, already being accustomed to waiting. He has been waiting forever to find his mom. What's five more minutes?

When he disappeared around the corner of the warehouse, Miss Parker inched towards the door. The door was unlocked. Not wanting Alex to have caught her off-guard, she kicked the door in, and waited a second before cautiously peering into the room.

Memories of the last time she was here - when Alex had kidnapped Mr. Parker - assaulted her. Pushing those thoughts aside, she looked down the staircase, and saw Margaret, gagged and bound to a chair. When they made eye contact, Jarod's mother gasped.

Not seeing Alex in her sights, she scooted to the edge of the rickety railing and looked over leading with her gun.

Jarod was growing antsy outside. He crept over to the window, hoping he could get a glimpse of his mother inside. Squinting his eyes, he tried to see through the grime coating the window. He hung his head in frustration, looking at his watch to see if the five minutes he allowed Miss Parker was up.

It wasn't.

He started pacing again. Then he heard something that made his heart jump into his throat. It was the sound of a gun firing inside the warehouse. Two… three… four shots. All fired in succession.

He silently hoped that the warehouse made the echo of Parker's 9mm sound like a much bigger gun than it was. If not, then… he swallowed hard as bile began to rise to his throat. He knew it wasn't her gun, he knows what the sounds like. He's had plenty of opportunities in different settings to hear what it sounds like when she fires her gun.

He ran around the corner to the door, unprepared and horrified at what he saw.

Alex was grinning victoriously. When he spotted Jarod, a maniacal laugh erupted from somewhere deep within him as he wiped the drops of blood dotting his forehead with the back of his hand.

"There is some good news, and some bad news Jarod. The good news belongs to me, so I'll just dispense with the bad. She's dead, and now you are as well. It was a pleasure." He grinned evilly.

Jarod became enraged and charged towards him, screaming wildly as his mind conjured images of what must be awaiting him inside the warehouse.

Alex had apparently been expecting his behavior, Jarod thought as the dust that Alex had kicked up from his motorcycle entered his eyes.

He shouldn't have left Parker to handle this by herself, they both knew Alex was a crazy son-of-a-bitch, unpredictable. Now he would never get to know his mother.

Gripping the door handle tightly, he noticed that he hadn't opened it yet. He also noticed that his eyes weren't open. He couldn't stand out here any longer he thought. Maybe Alex was wrong and his mother wasn't dead… he might be able to help her.

Flying down the stairs, he saw his mother. She was tied to a chair and staring at something behind him, to the side of the staircase. Her mouth was still gagged and she had tears streaming down her face.

He hurriedly bent to untie her, not noticing her muffled cries beneath the gag. As soon as the knots were undone, he removed the ropes and gag, and looked for injuries.

"Jarod, no…I'm fine, he… oh God Jarod, she's…" She cried.

His mother pointed to the spot by the staircase she had been staring at and covered her mouth in effort of stopping the sobs.

He couldn't understand what she was trying to say through her broken sobs, so he pulled her close to hug her. He would have to thank Parker for keeping his mother alive.

Where was she anyway?

He snapped his head up in stunning realization, and pulled his mother away, holding her forearms.

"Where is she?" Jarod asked.

His eyes watered as he followed his mothers stare to the side of the stairs.

So, this is what Alex meant when he said that he was dead as well.
Rest by Staceysedge

He's going to sit there and sulk until I apologize, isn't he?

Yup, that's what he's going to do.

I have the foresight to actually have a plan to go in there with, and he gets mad because I failed to inform him. He never informs me of his schemes either. I am not going to apologize.

"I'm sorry." Damn, I thought I could pull that off. He just keeps looking at me, and his eyes are so sad, I have to make him feel better.

He brought me and his mother to a little house not five miles from my place, never would have guessed it was there. It's very secluded, only accessed through many twisting back roads. Margaret went to go clean herself up and sleep off her ordeal. Leaving me alone with Jarod.

"Did you think I would go in there unprepared?" I asked him.

He shrugged and looked away.

What's up his butt? I did him a favor here. I rescued his mother. Alex is no longer a problem… at least for the time being. No one got hurt in the process, save the three bruises now splotching my chest, and the new hole in my arm.

"You could have told me. Instead, you let me think…" He shook his head sadly. He thought he had lost her.

His mother said that after Alex shot her, she fell over the railing and hit her head on the edge of a chair. 'Fortunately, she's hardheaded' he thought. When he gathered her body to him, she was still and unconscious. That fact pushed him to believing that Alex had killed her. He prolonged his own agony even more by not even bothering to check for a pulse.

The longer he rocked her, the harder he cried. When he heard his name being whispered, he thought he was imagining things. She said it louder, more forcefully, and told him to stop rocking… that she was getting dizzy.

All the blood that had pooled around her had come from her arm as it lay across her chest he realized slowly. The three other bullets found their target in her 'kevlar' vest… the one he did not know she was wearing.

He had gone in there thinking he had lost his mother and would never get to know her. Except, his mother was fine, and it was Miss Parker that was hurt… and that was even worse. He wasn't sure why, but he definitely knew it was.

It was an oversight on his part not to see Alex's intention the whole time. When Alex was spewing all that nonsense about killing someone important to his world, he had been confused. The second Alex said her name though it all made sense. It was stupid of him to think that Alex would just give up on his promise to take her from his world. She is the most important person in his world and he almost lost her.

The happiest grin he could manage through his tears appeared as soon as he knew he wasn't just hearing her voice in his head. It was her, she was alive… and complaining, always a good sign.

After being yelled at by Miss Parker to stop squeezing the life out of her, he released her to thoroughly check her injuries. She had a lump on her head from hitting the chair, and the wound in her arm had bled quite a bit at first but was now just trickling. He knew that under that vest she would have painful bruises.

As soon as he reached his house, he made sure there was no internal injuries caused by the force of the bullets. He removed the bullet that was lodged in her arm and bandaged it up. But not before complying with her demands for "more drugs."

He had to detach himself from the situation so as not to react to her painful cries as he stitched her arm up. Then when he was done, he couldn't bring himself to discuss what he was feeling. Every time he would try, he'd look at her reclining in his lazy boy and the words would escape him. He could picture her here with him everyday… except in the picture she was sitting on his lap while he reclined in the chair. But those are just details. Details Jarod wasn't sure Miss Parker would be happy with if he chose to share his thoughts.

"Jarod, if you don't want to talk to me, I'm going home." Miss Parker received no response.

Jarod wanted to talk to her about his feelings, but he didn't know where to begin, and even if he did, Miss Parker could very well break his heart if inspired to sarcasm. Since his prior conversations with her were heavily laden with that very ingredient, he wasn't sure he was ready to take that chance. Maybe if she gave some kind of sign that she would not rebuff him…

Cradling her left arm to her chest with the help of a sling, Parker grabbed her now ruined jacket and stood.

"Call me when you know how we should rescue 'our' son. Goodbye, Jarod."

He was grinning stupidly, his cheeks locked in an upward position at the emphasis she used to say 'our' son. He would take that as a sign any day of the week.

"You're heavily medicated Parker, and your arm is inoperable at the moment. I'll let my mother know I'm going to take you home." He had already reached out for a piece of paper and a pen and was scribbling furiously.

Miss Parker didn't argue with him. She wasn't feeling very awake. Jarod was right; it was not a good idea to drive all drugged up.

"Fine, let's go. And remember, just because I'm giving you permission to drive my car now, that does not mean you can have any future joy rides. This is a one time deal buddy."

He grinned again. Not only had she called him buddy, but she was smiling when she said it.

A problem arose a split second later as he realized he wasn't sure if she was kidding, or if she was dead serious. Her smile definitely threw him off with that one. He'd over analyze that later, now he had to take her home to rest. Jarod helped her into the passenger seat and leaned across to buckle her.

'God, why does he have to smell so good' she thought drowsily. Unaware of what she was doing, she smiled and took a deep breath while he was still in close proximity.

He froze when she inhaled. Turning his head slightly he was delighted to see a sleepy smile appear on her face.

* * * *

Easing into her garage, he came to a slow stop so as not to jerk her awake. Shutting the car off, he took a couple minutes to study her face while she continued to rest peacefully.

Wanting to get her inside so she could sleep more comfortably, he nudged her uninjured arm lightly to wake her.

Her head was turned facing her window. When Jarod had touched her arm, her head drooped over to the side to look at him through half-closed eyelids.

"What?" She had slept with her mouth open. Her throat was dry and so the question came out gravelly.

"We're home. Let me help you get settled inside." He moved around to her door, draping his arm around her when her head found a resting spot on his shoulder. They slowly made it to the door that leads from the garage to the house. Once inside he asked if she'd like him to make her something to eat. She declined stating that she wanted to go to bed and sleep around the clock.

Still holding her drowsy form up with his body, he moved them to her room and deposited her on her bed.

She sat up slowly, eyes now closed, removing the rest of the shirt that Jarod had already cut up when sewing her back together. When she had divested herself of that now ruined material she also kicked her shoes off, and began squirming to slip out of her pants.

Jarod cleared his throat nervously to alert her to the fact that he was still there. He averted his eyes and quickly scanned the room for something else to focus on. He looked at her dresser hoping to find a picture on top to distract him. Maybe one of her and her mother; she was always so happy in those.

Unfortunately, an open drawer caught his eye. It was just his luck that it was her underwear drawer. He stared for a second and then blinked rapidly, looking back to see that Miss Parker had crawled, and was now huddled under the blankets.

"Jarod, c'mere." Miss Parker demanded sleepily, voice still raspy.

Inching closer to the bed, Jarod's heart pounded quicker in his chest until he thought it might leap out.

"What?" He whispered.

"Closer." She reached a hand out, and used her finger to motion him closer.

He asked again, "What?"

Grabbing his hand, she pulled him so that he sat on the edge of the bed. Using her good arm, she propped herself up. Sensing Jarod's discomfort, she pulled the blankets more tightly around her in an effort to cover herself.

She craned her neck up and pulled Jarod's head down to give him a tender kiss on the cheek, and whispered passionately, "Thank you."

Jarod wasn't expecting her offering of thanks, but gratefully accepted. He would have to thank her as well for all the work she did in getting his mother back. Not now, of course! He'd wait for her to be awake. Watching her eyes blink shut and struggle to open again, he urged her to lie back down and get some sleep. He brushed his lips across her forehead before standing up to leave. Again, he caught a sleepy smile spread across her face. Just like in the car. Rubbing his thumb over his chin, he cocked his head and smiled. If he wasn't mistaken, then his presence was having an affect on her. 'Interesting.' Things were definitely looking up.

He practically skipped into her living room. He pulled out his cell phone and called his friend to come pick him up. While he waited, he rummaged in her cabinets for some kind of snack. Frowning, he opened the fridge to see if that was as un-stocked as her cupboard shelves. He sighed when he saw that the condition of her fridge was even worse. There was only a carton of milk and some other drinks, mostly juices. He didn't consider the low-fat yogurt to be very filling either. 'What did this woman ever eat?' he questioned himself.

Opening one of the two drawers on the bottom, he was happy to see that that was at least filled with assorted veggies. The other drawer contained fruits, one of which was an apple. He picked one out, and rinsed it before biting into it.

He heard a horn honking outside and quickly made his way out after tossing the apple core in the trash. He was still hungry, but there was a nice big chocolate cake -- and ice cream -- waiting for him at home.

Sinking into the plush leather seats, he just closed his eyes and leaned his head back. There was still a lot to be done on his part. He had to rescue his son. His and Parker's son.

"Hey Jarod, you look exhausted. Rough day?" His new friend Steven asked looking curiously at him, while keeping an eye out for a tail as instructed by Jarod. "Is Parker giving you a hard time? I'll give her a real work out next time I see her if you like. I know how difficult she can be."

Steven had been Miss Parker's personal trainer before she was pulled from Corporate to chase Jarod down. He had learned that information just a couple months ago when he had followed her to a gym. When she went inside, she met up with this guy. At first Jarod despised him because he was meeting and spending time with Parker, and… it was very disconcerting for him when Steven helped her to stretch. That was a very unpleasant picture. Actually, he frowned, it still is.

He shook his head slightly side to side to clear the image from his mind. After her workout that day, he caught up with this Steven character to see what he was all about. And to his dismay, he genuinely liked the guy. So, he went for it and asked him how long he'd known Parker. That is how he learned that Steven had been her personal trainer.

Jarod asked Steven more questions about his life, and was extremely gleeful to find that he was married and had two kids. He had even whipped out his wallet to show a happy family picture.

"No Steve, Parker was helping me out today. We found my mother. She had to go and get herself shot in the process." Jarod grumbled the last part still upset that she had not informed him of her plan.

Steven gasped and looking alarmed asked, "Is she ok?"

"Would I have left her if she wasn't?" Jarod asked teasingly to ease his friend's fear.

Another good thing about Steven was Jarod could confide in him and had confided in him numerous times about his feelings for Parker. He had already checked the guy out, and he was well below the Centre's radar having never worked for them. While Parker was in Corporate, the Centre did not pay as much attention to the comings and goings of her acquaintances. And since she no longer contracted him as her personal trainer, the Centre had no idea that she would meet up with him at the gym. Sometimes they would have lunch, and occasionally she would discreetly visit him at his home. Apparently, Jarod discovered that Steve's wife Linda, and Miss Parker herself, loved to share recipes. Odd, considering the lack of ingredients Miss Parker keeps available at her house.

While Jarod was lost in thought, Steven continued to drive. In no time, they had reached Jarod's house.

"Would you like to have some cake with me?" Jarod asked over the roof of the car as they both had exited the vehicle.

"A small slice, you know I don't eat junk food often."

Walking into the house, Jarod found his mother tidying up the kitchen. He looked on in horror as he saw his chocolate cake lying face down on the floor.

"Oh you're back Jarod. I hope Miss Parker is going to be all right. Oh, who's this?" She offered her hand to Steven, and let the slack-jawed pretender introduce them.

Then sighing exasperatedly Jarod bent down to clean up the fallen cake.

"Oh, I'm sorry about that Jarod, but I saw a mouse on the floor. When I climbed on the chair I must have bumped into the table." Margaret smiled apologetically at her son.

Turning around after dumping the rest of the cake in the garbage, Jarod smiled, "You're scared of mice?"

"My reaction to that mouse is a resounding yes!" She stated laughingly. "Those beady little eyes give me the shivers."

Jarod laughed too and hugged his mother. When he released her, he opened the freezer so they could at least have some ice cream. Thank god, that wasn't ruined, he thought.

Steven, who had been chuckling quietly sat at the table and accepted the bowl of vanilla ice cream Jarod served him.
Back to Finish the Job by Staceysedge
Back to Finish the Job

"What?" A groggy Parker picked up the handset.

Sydney smiled on the other end, glad that he had finally reached her. This was the third time he had tried phoning her this morning.

"Miss Parker, you're late for work. Is everything alright?" Sydney's smooth, calming voice carried over the phone line and was causing Miss Parker to become sleepy again.

Glancing at her alarm clock, she saw that it was 10 am.

"Everything's fine Syd," she paused to yawn, "although, I'm not feeling very well this morning. I can't seem to wake up either. I'm thinking of just taking the day off."

"That sounds like a good idea Miss Parker. You do sound worn out."

"Gee, thanks, you sure know how to brighten my day."

Sydney chuckled at the friendly manner in which she responded.

"Call me if anything important comes up." She added before hanging up.

He sighed as she, like Jarod, hung up on him without saying goodbye.

Quickly resettling the phone into its cradle he pushed himself up and headed outside to use his cell-phone. He intended to inform Jarod of Miss Parker's behavior today.

The hot spray of the shower cascaded down around her body. Her chest felt like it was being pricked by dozens of little bruises where the water was hitting the bruises. The shower head was on a light mist, but it didn't help, it was still painful this way. Ignoring Jarod's orders not to get her wound wet, she had carelessly flung the sling off and dropped it somewhere in her room.

If Sydney was as predictable as she knew he was, then Jarod would know she didn't go to work today by now. And if Jarod knew and was as predictable as she hoped he was, then he just might show up here himself. He could re-bandage her arm and help her put the sling back on.

She smiled at the thought and started to shampoo her hair. The task was turning out to be very difficult with only the use of one arm. Not to mention every time she unconsciously brought her injured limb up to help massage her scalp, a hot slice of pain would hit, bringing a grimace of pain to her face.

After rinsing and toweling off, she got dressed. Getting her jeans on was no problem, but she had trouble getting the T-shirt on, and had elicited several groans of pain before she was finished.

Now with her hair toweled up in a turban, she ventured into the kitchen for some coffee. Passing through the living room first, she was able to grab a quick shot of vodka to chase down the vicodin Jarod had so kindly offered her.

Grabbing a box of Frosted Flakes -- the ones that Jarod had insisted she buy -- she poured a bowl and doused it with milk.

She eyed the coffee maker as she ate her cereal, wondering how much longer she would have to wait for it to percolate. Meanwhile, she ate the cereal in silence, secretly appreciative that Jarod suggested she get the frosted breakfast. It was delicious!

Her coffee maker beeped.

'Finally!' she thought, 'the coffee is done.' With the coffeepot in hand, she filled her mug with the black liquid.

A loud knock at the door rudely interrupted her first sip. The mug was halfway to her parted lips as she paused to consider her options. Slightly shrugging her shoulders, she tipped the mug back and took a mighty swig.

She was expecting a visitor -- a very special visitor -- and so didn't bother to look through the peephole. She swung open her door, mouth dropping slightly in surprise. Quickly gathering her wits, she flung her still scalding coffee at the man and attempted to close the door.

He covered his eyes, and screamed in pain from the burning sensation her coffee had created. Unfortunately, he had the foresight to use his foot as a jam, and grabbed for her arm before she tried to run.

"You bitch!" He screamed, and tightened his grip as she struggled. He closed the door and shoved her farther into the house.

Parker's mind raced for an escape route, or some way to defend herself. Her gun was on her dresser, the spare was in the hall closet, and Alex just moved her towards the fireplace. Ah ha! She inched towards the poker, and sliding her hand down behind her back reached for it. He was pacing in front of her, rubbing at his face to make the pain go away. He was off guard now, and at her mercy. Closing her fist around the handle, she closed her eyes in thanks, and then lightning quick brought it forward, grabbed it with her injured arm as well, and swung for the fences.

The thump of his body hitting the ground, and the blood splatters on the carpet were gruesome, and she had a sudden urge to toss her cookies. She wouldn't, of course, but she felt like she could.

His hand snaked around her ankle, startling her. Expecting him to be unconscious was too much to ask for. She pulled with all her might so he would release her. He did, and she stumbled and fell on her backside. He was crawling to his hands and knees, getting closer to her. She had to get up and run, go for her gun, do something.

But she couldn't, he was already on her.

"Get off me you freak." She screamed and struggled.

He locked her arms to her sides and used the rest of his body to stop her from kicking out.

"Miss Parker, you really should calm down. Nothing is going to happen…yet." He spoke menacingly, but quietly.

She stopped squirming beneath him. He was right, she needed to stay calm and keep her head clear. She could handle this. Dealing with psychos and Sociopath's was no new thing for her. Parker was used to dealing with Lyle everyday.

"How did you know?" She asked.

Alex saw that she wasn't going to fight any more right now, so he stood and pulled her up with him.

"I didn't at first. But I called your brother to gloat, and well, he didn't believe me. Lyle said that he had just spoken to Sydney about you. You took the day off."

He fingered the back of his head, and felt a baseball sized welt springing up.

"Needless to say, I was disappointed and now I'm here to finish what I started."

He pushed her back at arms length, spun her around by her arm and wrenched it up her back. He pulled her body close to his and whispered,

"Now, I know this will be painful for you, but it will be even more so for Jarod. This time, you will die. Jarod won't be able to save you, and you won't be able to save yourself." He pushed her towards the back door to his waiting Jeep, and spoke again,

"We're going to take a little drive to a more secluded area. Then I'll call Jarod, and we can get this party started."

Miss Parker was beginning to lose hope of finding a way out of this. She held back as long as she could, but Alex grew impatient and began pushing her forcefully forward. When he reached the passenger door, he released her arm and shoved her inside, closing the door.

Miss Parker tried desperately to open it while he paraded around to the driver's side, but the handle was gone on her side. She kicked and pushed the door, but to no avail. Knowing Alex's door was the only one that was going to be opening any time soon, she lunged when he opened it. They both went flying and fell to the grass.

Miss Parker knocked the air out of herself, but got up nonetheless and ran back to the house. Alex got up half a second later, and followed. She slammed the door right when he reached it. He banged on it with his fists. The glass panes shattered and Parker ran to grab her gun.

She waited in the hall for him. When five minutes passed and he didn't show up, she cautiously made her way to the door. The glass crunched under her feet, but he had never entered. She grabbed the piece of cloth that hung over the window, her gun ready; she peeled it back to look outside.

The Jeep was still there, but so was another car. It was Jarod's car, the one she saw at his house yesterday. She opened the door and stepped out looking for Jarod. She didn't see him, she went to the car, and tried to see in through the tinted windows. It didn't feel like anyone was in there, and Jarod wouldn't hide from her. 'Well, then where's Jarod?' she thought.

Looking closer, she noticed that the tires made long tracks from the around the corner into her backyard, as if he was speeding and had to brake quickly. Closing her eyes in horror, she knew he had gone after Alex. Her backyard ran on into thickly covered woods and even further down to a lake.

The keys were still inside Jarod's four-by-four, and she hopped in, hoping to catch up with them. Driving slowly and carefully around the big trees that kept popping up, she saw a glimpse of black to her left. She steered the vehicle in that direction, watching for movement. She rolled the window down to listen as well.

She heard muttering and cursing coming from an unlikely source. Jarod! He was trudging back up a weed and bush infested path. She threw the car in neutral and pressed on the gas, alerting him to her presence.

He sighed with relief. Chasing after Alex had been instinctive, he had had no time to check on Parker. Jarod had assumed since Alex was still trying to get in, that Parker must have been ok.

Parker couldn't get the car any closer to Jarod, there were trees and rocks everywhere, so she waited patiently for him to make it to her. He approached her open window and smiled in response to her greeting,

"Hey stranger, need a lift?" Parker's grin quickly faded into a confused frown when Jarod opened her door.

"What are you doing?"

He reached across to unbuckle her. "I'm driving." He said, and then added for her benefit, "You're still injured."

He grabbed her hand and tugged gently to help her out of the car.

Miss Parker resisted, Jarod looked up surprised.

"Jarod, I can make it back just fine. I drove all the way down here, dodging treacherous dandelions, didn't I?" Parker argued back sarcastically.

Jarod leaned in closer, and Parker backed up in response to his nearness.

"Don't argue with me, I'm the doctor. You shouldn’t be driving, and your arm should still be in a sling. Plus you used a pain killer this morning. Now, get in the passengers seat." He commanded softly.

Sighing dramatically, Parker placed her hand on Jarod's chest and shoved him back, before stepping out of the vehicle.

"Fine, Jarod, you win."

The drive back was made at a crawling pace as Jarod meticulously avoided driving over any shrubbery he deemed important. Jarod finally came to a stop beside Alex's Jeep and turned off the car.

He fidgeted in his seat for a second before asking, "You're ok?"

Parker nodded. "I'm ok." She said.

Jarod expelled a breath.

"What happened to Alex, Jarod?" Parker asked slowly.

Dejectedly Jarod answered, "He got away…again."

Authors Note: I know I take forever to write these things, but that’s just how it is. Please tell me what you think of this chapter. I was planning on doing something different, but this came to me when I actually sat down to write it, which means I have to alter my plans for later chapters. So, R&R please, thanks!
Idle Hands by Staceysedge
Idle Hands

Three weeks! It had been three weeks since Alex had fled from Jarod through her back yard.

It had been two weeks since she has heard from Jarod.

No one at the Centre, namely Lyle, had questioned her absence three weeks ago. Lyle had not even bothered to hassle her about her lack of interest and determination in catching Jarod. Either he was planning to catch Jarod his own way and needed her to be at a disadvantage, or he was finally accepting that they would only have leads when Jarod wanted them to.

Right now, Jarod did not want them to. She had a feeling it had to do with him getting reacquainted with his mother, and devising a plan to get their son out from behind Centre walls.

Now, sitting on her couch after work, contemplating driving out to Jarod's house, someone knocked at her door. Refusing to be bombarded again, she grabbed her gun and approached the peephole uneasily.

Parker resumed breathing as she opened the door, her gun securely tucked away.

"Steve, come in!" She greeted warmly with a hug. She ushered him in while suspiciously eyeing the stuffed manila envelope he held.

After exchanging pleasantries and catching each other up on their lives, Parker asked the one question that was burning in the back of her mind.

"What are you doing here?" It wasn't like him to drop in so unexpectedly on her. Usually, because she was unwilling to attract attention, she would initiate any contact.

"I have a package for you." Steven held up the envelope.

"From?" Parker asked skeptically. Why couldn't he just mail it to her?

"A friend."

"What is it?" Parker wanted to clarify what friend they might have in common. If she knew what it was then maybe she could determine whom it was from.

"A package." Steven replied simply again.

Parker struggled to remain calm. Only Jarod had ever gotten away with withholding the answers to her questions by being cryptically sneaky. Steven had never before been so vague with her. She had told him plenty of times how much that irritated her.

Now wait just a minute, she thought. There could not be any actual connection between Jarod and Steven; her thoughts just led her down a coincidental road. Steven only knew about Jarod from her, and as far as she knew, Jarod was clueless about Steven.

Then why was Steve doing something that he knew irritated her; that she only lets Jarod get away with?

'Because Jarod has obviously befriended my friend.' She thought sourly, and from the smile on Steven's face, he knew she had just figured it out.

* * * *

The plan was very simple. All she had to do was drive. Jarod was going to handle the retrieval of their son. He had also contacted Sydney and Broots and convinced them to leave the Centre the night his plan was to go into action. He had taken care of everything and she had no say in the matter. Great! The only upside of that was if anything went wrong… she could place all the blame on him.

Broots had been enlisted to loop the video feed to Baby Parker's room, and then he would head home, collect Debbie and leave. Jarod was able to coerce Sydney by informing him that Angelo would be going with them. No shock there.

Since she learned he was her father, she had begun to avoid him. She was unsure of how to approach the relationship when she may be the only one aware of the change. Any attempt on his part to start a conversation with her was torn to shreds.

Not only that, but Parker was still cradling doubts about Sydney's knowledge of her paternity. Alex had said on more than one occasion that her father knew all the answers.

Her musings were interrupted when Lyle barged into her office. He plopped uninvited into the chair opposite her and crossed his leg over his knee.

"I just spoke with our father."

Parker stared hard at him and waited for him to continue. Knowing that Sydney was her father made her want to hurl whenever Raines was referred to as her parent. Lyle continued to sit there not saying anything else.

"And?" She prompted him.

"He says there still haven't been any leads on Jarod in three weeks. Wasn't it three weeks ago that you missed work?" Lyle challenged her.

"How the hell would Raines know about our leads on Jarod? He hasn't received the report yet." Parker replied unfazed by Lyle's suspicion.

"Who's talking about Raines?" Lyle answered slyly.

Parker's heart dropped. Of course! The tape from her office, Lyle must have copied it.

Then she remembered that the recorded conversation between she and Broots about her paternity had taken place in her office over three weeks ago. Lyle had had the information for a long time. What exactly did he do with it?

"I guess no one is." She replied calmly despite her hearts attempt to leap out of her chest in apprehension. There was no telling what Lyle could have set in motion. He had the information for a tremendously long time; he would not have just sat idly by with that knowledge at his fingertips.

It does make Sydney his father too though. Unless he preferred Raines as his father, would he really devise a plan that threatened her life; that threatened Sydney's? She couldn't assume anything though; Lyle was a loose cannon as far as she was concerned.

It was a good thing that they were all leaving today. As soon as she was in her car after she got off, she would meet Jarod, Angelo and her son at a pre-determined spot. An access tunnel leading to the Centre's underground generator.

"Well then, since you seem so reserved today Parker, I'll go find someone else to occupy my time." Lyle, after revealing his knowledge about their father and thus fulfilling his purpose for entering her office, walked out through the two glass doors.
Precious Cargo by Staceysedge
Precious Cargo

Miss Parker exited the vehicle with a flashlight as the minutes ticked relentlessly by. The humming of the car's engine was lost on her as she cast the beam in the direction she knew the access tunnel to be in. Jarod was late, and her worry had long ago set in. What if they were caught? Or hurt? Or worse?

Foolishly, and against Jarod's orders, Parker approached the tunnel's entrance. She pried open the access hatch with a sturdy metal rod that was conveniently within her reach. She cast the beam of her light inside the tunnel and was able to see the gentle slope that extended down towards the bowels of the Centre.

Luckily, there wasn't a great effort to fix the substandard design of the access tunnel. A slip-shod assignment had landed the end of the tunnel outside the perimeter of the Centre allowing anyone with the knowledge of its existence free reign to enter and exit the facility from this underground route. Once inside, it would lead to the room that stored the Centre's backup generator. From there, Jarod said that it was a matter of crawling through the right vents to get to their son.

The beam of her flashlight was gradually losing its power as she crept through the otherwise dark passage. When her batteries worked no longer, she had to grope along the wall to continue moving.

A bouncing light was making its way up the tunnel and was growing bigger every second. Miss Parker instinctively shrunk back against the wall to avoid detection.

The closer the light came, the louder her breathing sounded to her. Her pulse too, was quickening. Then when the beam flashed across her face, it skyrocketed.

A harshly whispered "Parker" brought her eyes snapping open to see Angelo and Jarod standing in front of her…without her son.

Jarod sternly grabbed her arm to drag her to the exit. He placed the hatch over the tunnel securely, and spun angrily towards her.

"You were supposed to wait in the car." His voice had risen slightly above a whisper now, but didn't carry beyond them.

Parker ignored his harsh reprimand. "Where is my son?" She demanded.

Jarod's broken sigh tore at Parker's heart but she remained distant. She crossed to the running vehicle and saw Angelo happily locking and unlocking his seat belt in the back seat. For an empath, he didn't seem to grasp the severity of her sadness, Parker thought with a frown.

A loud click signaled the doors were now locked and Angelo whimpered behind her, "Not friend's fault."

Parker rolled her window down and addressed Jarod. "I'll let you in the car when you are able to put my son in that car seat." She flicked her wrist to point towards the backseat.

Jarod stuck his hand on the window to prevent her from rolling it up. "He's not there Parker." He informed her morosely and dropped to his knees to rest his head on her door. "I'm so sorry." His whispery voice cracked with emotion.

A rustling in the bushes, and a dozen beams of light alerted them to the presence of Sweepers making a path towards the car.

Parker quickly unlocked the doors. "Get in."

Only one of Jarod's legs was safely in the vehicle before she took off.

* * * *

Lyle wasn't sure where to go once he left the Centre with his precious cargo. He wasn't sure why he did it, but he was tired of doing what people expected of him. This needed to be done. Since he found out the truth, his insides had been doing strange flip-flops whenever he was around one of his family members. It was this feeling that had prompted him to do what he did just a few short hours ago at the Centre.

Slowing down, he stopped at a red light, and spared a look when he heard a loud yawn from the back seat. His cargo was waking up. He needed to figure out what to do. He hadn't really planned anything after removing the baby from the Centre's facilities. Food was essential, so he made a quick stop at a grocery store and asked the clerk what kind of food to buy for the baby.

"Well, how old's the baby?" The short, middle-aged, male grocery clerk asked.

Lyle had left Baby Parker in his car and now had to recall when Brigitte had given birth. A light went on in his head when he remembered that it was around the anniversary of Thomas Gates' murder. Slightly ironic he thought and shrugged to himself to shake off the feeling of sympathy that popped up for his sister. He answered the clerk and was quickly on his way… somewhere.

* * * *

Sydney, Broots, Debbie, and Angelo were all safely delivered to Jarod's safe-house in Blue cove. Four of the five reasons why Parker continued to work for the Centre were accounted for.

The minute Miss Parker had opened her mouth to speak, Jarod, anticipating the direction her mind was taking, immediately interrupted. He would not allow Parker to go back to her house. The Sweepers that had been closing in on their location earlier would report her betrayal to the Centre. Although he wasn't sure if they had been identified, he still felt it was best to err on the side of caution. She could never go back. She wasn't supposed to even think about going back, and if his plan hadn't failed, she wouldn't be fighting so hard against him.

They could not find any information on their son. It was reported that he was missing from the Centre as well. Parker hadn't taken that news very well. She knew the Centre, and they would never harm their investment…to an extent. But they were clueless as to who - other than them - would steal the baby from the Centre. They had no idea what that person - or persons - motives were and had no idea how to find them.

So, while everyone else was getting acquainted downstairs, Jarod ventured upstairs to see how Miss Parker was doing now that she'd had time to calm down. Convincing her that storming back to the Centre was a bad idea, took over two hours of arguing to pound into her. During one of her many tirades she had yawned, physically and emotionally exhausted. Miss Parker, of course, claimed she wouldn't be able to sleep until she knew where her son was. After ordering her to get some rest, he took her hand and led her to what he would now consider her bedroom. Jarod tried to follow her through the door but she slammed it in his face. That was only fifteen minutes ago and he wanted to make sure she was ok before he went to sleep.

He rapped his knuckles on the door.

"Miss Parker, can I come in?" He called through the door.

Listening closely for a response, he detected a muffled and teary Miss Parker say,

"No, go away, asshole!"

He dropped his hand in disappointment but called out to her one more time. When he heard a dull thump and no further response from her, worry began to claw at his belly. Maybe she fell and hit her head. Whatever happened, he would make sure she was all right above all else. Twisting the knob and stepping forward, he discovered that she had locked the door.

Jarod was slightly annoyed and his first thought was to pick the lock. He quickly remembered he had keys to all the doors in the house. He found that instead and announced that he was coming in.

Her bed was neat and her window open. Jarod clenched his jaw at her audacity. Storming through the house, he slammed through the front door and made his way to the side where her window was located. The light spilling out from the window lit up the path she used. Obviously, he should have placed her in a room that was not easily escapable. Her second story window opened right onto the roof of the first floor. From the roof, she could just hop right off. The moon was full tonight and she could have easily picked her way through the bushes and ruts in the ground to get to her… to her car.

Growling at this turn of events, he perked his ears up. Tearing his gaze from her window, Jarod swung his eyes around to the front yard where her car was parked. He wasn't surprised when he didn't find it. It was amazing that he hadn't heard her start it. He's usually more aware of those kinds of things.

But he could hear it now.

Broots and Sydney, who had followed him outside, tracked Jarod's gaze that was narrowed at the window again.

Debbie had silently crept out and stood behind her father. "Where's Miss Parker?" The three adults looked at her, and Broots kneeled down to answer.

"It looks like Miss Parker had some other business to take care of first, Sweet Pea. She'll be back soon I'm sure." Broots looked up to glance at Jarod, but he was already retreating into the house.

"Jarod, wait up!" Broots called to him, Sydney and Debbie following Jarod and Broots back inside. "Do you think she went back?" He pulled Jarod aside to ask out of his daughters hearing range. He had long since told her about the Centre, and although the events he had described to her were despicable in their own right, he had left out the much more harrowing details. If she knew that Miss Parker went back there, it would only upset her.

Jarod ignored him and shrugged his hand off his shoulder as he started packing his bag. His jaw had developed an angry tick, and the grinding noise his teeth were making was not a pleasant sound. It was just like nails on a chalkboard. Broots cringed and looked to Sydney for help.

"Jarod, what are you planning to do?" asked Sydney.

Resolutely, he swung the bag over his arm. "Find her and knock some sense into that thick skull of hers." Jarod replied and let the door slam shut behind him.

* * * *

Miss Parker hated having to steal away in the night like that, but Jarod left her little choice. She knew she couldn't go back to the Centre, and she shouldn't even be attempting to go to her house right now, but something had led her there. Jarod didn't want to listen to anything she had to say. He was adamant on the fact that she was not to go anywhere. He should know better than to order her around she thought wryly. It was very risky to leave with him right outside her door, but she sensed an urgency to get moving.

Now sitting across the street, she caught sight of a light inside her living room window. She knew with surprising certainty that it wasn't a Sweeper team. Cautiously crossing the street while keeping one eye on the light in the window, Miss Parker was ready to see who had paid her a visit.

Sliding her hand behind her back, she kicked her front door in and pulled her weapon.

Author's Note: I was gonna mention the actual date for Thomas Gates murder, but I somehow forgot and didn't feel like watching my tapes right then to figure it out. Baby Parker was born around the anniversary of Thomas Gates' murder, right? Does anyone know if it was the day of, the day after, or even what day Baby Parker was born? I am horrible with remembering dates… I don't even know my parent's birthdays! So, anyway, read and review please. Thanks!
This story archived at