Mind Rain by missparker87
Summary:

UPDATED in 2023 for language correction and chapters distribution. Jarod asks Miss Parker to meet to finally get things straight between them. When they confess their love, they realize time has also come to destroy The Centre. It's the beginning of a journey that lead them to discover pieces of lost memories in a spiral mind rainSet after IOTH. Recommended for: MPJ Shippers - People fond of flashbacks. This is a story that begins where we left Miss Parker and Jarod. It's about memories and past, but also present, and future. I hope you enjoy it!


Categories: Post IOTH Characters: All the characters
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges: MP/J - Catherine
Challenges: MP/J - Catherine
Series: None
Chapters: 27 Completed: Yes Word count: 122590 Read: 592602 Published: 30/10/12 Updated: 24/01/23
Story Notes:

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Pretender characters. But I felt free to write a fanfic about them.

First of all, I must say the idea for this fanfiction came to me during a dream. I'm re-watching The Pretender these days, and I ofter dream about tv shows, maybe because of my huge imagination. When I got up, I felt I had to put it down.

This is going to be a long journey, chapter after chapter.
I wish to thank my dear and kind "Miss Parker" (Antoinette) who helped me to translate in English: I could not have done this without her! I'm from Italy, so I hope you are forgiving my lacks in your language.
Feel free to review and rate, even if you think this is terrible!

UPDATED IN 2023: major changes to the language, minor changes to the storyline.

1. Chapter 1: The Future Together by missparker87

2. Chapter 2: Chocolate and Blue Roses by missparker87

3. Chapter 3: The Lost DSAs by missparker87

4. Chapter 4: Zoe's Moan And Revelations by missparker87

5. Chapter 5: You know I hate surprises by missparker87

6. Chapter 6: Don't look back in anger by missparker87

7. Chapter 7: Michael by missparker87

8. Chapter 8: The Scrolls by missparker87

9. Chapter 9: Fatherhood by missparker87

10. Chapter 10: Execution by missparker87

11. Chapter 11: Good Old Times by missparker87

12. Chapter 12: An Ordinary Hero by missparker87

13. Chapter 13: Operation Reset by missparker87

14. Chapter 14: Promises and Choices by missparker87

15. Chapter 15: Waiting by missparker87

16. Chapter 16: Hasani by missparker87

17. Chapter 17: Blackmail by missparker87

18. Chapter 18: Here comes the Cavalry by missparker87

19. Chapter 19: Deja vu by missparker87

20. Chapter 20: Family Grief by missparker87

21. Chapter 21: Wake up by missparker87

22. Chapter 22: Zane's Harangue by missparker87

23. Chapter 23: The Weak and Abused's Reunion by missparker87

24. Chapter 24: No More Missing Pieces by missparker87

25. Chapter 25: Arrangements and Names by missparker87

26. Chapter 26: The Trial by missparker87

27. Chapter 27: Epilogue a.k.a. The Pretender by missparker87

Chapter 1: The Future Together by missparker87

NEW HAVEN HOTEL – NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
9.30 p.m.

 

Jarod had never seen the hotel before, but as soon as he got in, he understood he had chosen the perfect place for such an important meeting. The atmosphere was quiet, and all the employees seemed disinterested with what was happening around them.

The hotel lobby somehow reminded him of the Centre, so he felt almost trapped for a moment.

In the evenings they didn’t usually have check-ins, the hotel usually accommodated business travelers. That very night there was a dentists’ conference, which was taking place in the main hall, on the other side of the lobby.

Jarod breathed deeply and tried to summon his courage, then adjusted the shoulder strap of his traveling suitcase and headed to the reception desk.

A not more than twenty-something year old boy welcomed him with a warm smile.

“Welcome to New Haven Hotel, how may I help you, sir?”   

Jarod didn’t know how to answer: he had scheduled that meeting, but now that he was there, he didn’t know how to behave, maybe for the very first time in his life. Was his guest already there?  

“Well, actually I was waiting for…”

“Oh, I got it! You must be Mr. Jarod!” the receptionist stopped him, and Jarod checked out his badge noticing his name was Christopher.

“How do you figure?” he asked, a bit worried. He was used to be the one surprising his pursuers who typically arrived at a place he had just left only to be recognized because he had talked about them.

“Your wife is waiting in your suite. Room 327. She also told me to give you this – the boy continued and gave him the room key – She said she didn’t want to take the risk of you forgetting your room number.”

Christopher smiled again while Jarod took his key: “My w-wife?” he asked, incredulous.

“Yes sir, and if I’m allowed, that is a woman who knows what she’s doing; it mustn’t be easy to keep your eye on her.”

Jarod smiled for the first time.

“Actually it’s more difficult for her to keep an eye on me, believe me. Thank you, Christopher.” he concluded and gave the boy a tip.


The elevator took him to the third floor, where he started looking for room 327. He walked slowly; his heavy and constant pace hid an interior agony, because he was looking forward to reaching her.

Was she really waiting for him in that room?

When Jarod arrived in front of the door 327, he tightened his suitcase shoulder strap once again. His leather jacket covered his impeccable attire: a blue shirt and a pair of dark jeans. He opened the door in one rapid gesture and got inside the room. He locked the door and lay the suitcase down next to the entrance. He looked around, but there was no trace of her.

Jarod made a few steps inside as his eyes roamed around the room. There was a double bed on the right side, a long leather couch, a glass table with a vase on it and a modern style lamp on the left.

In front of him, a huge window provided a wonderful view of New Haven.    

When he realized that the bathroom had to be at his back, behind the door he had seen while entering the room, he heard her voice.

“Hello, Jarod.” she said.

Jarod turned around and found the person he had to date: Miss Parker.

“Good evening, my lovely…wife?!” he quipped. “It’s with deep regret that I notice you haven’t broken the habit of pointing a weapon at me.” he answered, watching her 9 mm aimed at his chest.

Miss Parker was smiling as lioness who had just caught her pray.

“Such a stupid idea inviting me here, lab rat.”


Miss Parker was talking with Sydney and Broots when she got his e-mail. The sender was anonymous, but the message was written in Jarod’s style. While the two men argued about Raines’ changes since he had become the leader of the Centre, the woman read the mail greedily.  

 

   Miss Parker, it’s time to stop playing games.

   I’m tired of our running and chasing.

   I’ll be waiting for you tonight at New Haven Hotel.

   Come alone.

   If you don’t come, I’ll understand.

 

Without saying another word, Parker took her coat and disappeared bound for Connecticut and leaving Sydney and Broots wondering what had suddenly gotten into her.


Jarod stared at Miss Parker intensely, he wanted her to understand everything. Before, he had never hoped for her not to be so stubborn.

“Your message was almost touching.” She continued, always smiling. “But now, we’re going home.”

“I see you still consider the Centre your home.”

Miss Parker’s expression suddenly changed as she urged him, “I’m tired of chasing you all around United States, I want go back living my life without it passing me by, Jarod.”

“That’s weird.” he stated, making a step forward. “That’s what I’ve wanted since I ran away”.

“Jarod. Don’t make me cuff you. It’s gonna be easier, if you don’t resist.”

“The problem is, Miss Parker…if you shoot me, you won’t go home so unnoticed as you wish.” he suggested, approaching her gradually.

“I’m calling Sam and we’re taking you away together.” She tried and convince herself.

“So thoughtful of you to come without sweepers…I wonder why this doesn’t surprise me at all.” Jarod smirked.

Now he knew that Parker’s behavior was dictated by a unique feeling: fear.

She had come alone, she hadn’t told anyone where she was going, and Jarod knew that for sure.


Sydney answered the phone after a few seconds: “Miss Parker?”

“No, it’s me – Jarod replied – I was looking for her, Sydney. Apparently, she isn’t answering my calls.”

“She left a couple of hours ago without saying where she was going.” Sydney explained.

Jarod smiled, even if he didn’t like lying to his mentor: “I’ll be in touch. I hope nothing happened to her.”

He ended the phone call and went on driving towards New Haven.


Miss Parker took the mobile from her pocket trying to convince Jarod that she was not afraid to call the Centre and let them know that she had caught him. But Jarod was tired of those games. He hadn’t come all that way to waste time, he had something very important to tell her.

The woman dialed Sydney’s number and waited for the psychiatrist to answer.

Jarod looked at her in annoyance and after a few seconds he suddenly moved towards Miss Parker and stole her phone, stopping the call just as Sydney was answering. He threw the device across the room.

Parker was looking at him with worry, her gun was now touching Jarod’s chest.

He looked at her as if he wanted to challenge her to do something.

“You shouldn’t have done that, boy genius.”

“I’m tired of all this, Miss Parker” Jarod started speaking, making a step forward,  with every sentence, forcing Miss Parker to move back towards the wall.

“I’m tired of this stupid relationship between us where you are a hunter and I’m your prey…I’m tired of hiding my real feelings…and I’m so tired of pretending to be running away from you while all I want to do is be with you.”

Parker’s shoulders touched the wall when Jarod got the gun from her hands and threw it on the couch.

He leaned his hands on the wall, encircling her inside his magnetic hold.

Their faces were very close and Parker couldn’t wriggle from his presence.

All she could do was avoiding his eyes because she knew that surrendering to his gaze would mean the end.    

“Look at me, Miss Parker.” he said.

The woman shook her head, without uttering a word.

“Look – at – me.” he repeated, articulating every word.

Parker gave up and raised her eyes. She saw a harsh look on Jarod’s face. It was the same look he had whenever she tried to deny the truth.

But it lasted just a moment; after a few seconds, he had that lost-puppy-look again, as if he was begging her.  

Jarod took his hands off the wall and stood upright, releasing her from his hold. Then he stroked her hair and smiled.

“Jarod…”

“Enough talking.” he concluded.

Then it happened. He pulled her to him and kissed her. It was a kiss with every kind of feeling in it: passion, rage, love, pain, madness, resent and, above all, regret. It had been kept for too long, but now they couldn’t pretend anymore. Parker let herself go completely for a few seconds; she wouldn’t dare stand back. Feeling their desire growing, they moved back across the room, starting to take off their respective jackets.

Suddenly Parker winced and pushed away Jarod, shouting, “No!”    

She tried to reach the couch, looking for the gun he had thrown away a few minutes before, but Jarod stopped her by grabbing her hand.

“You’re not running this time, Miss Parker.” he told her, dragging her to himself, enveloping Miss Parker in a hug.

“Let me go!” she yelled.

“No…That’s not what you really want!” he whispered softly in her ear.

Trying to escape from his held, she forced herself not to flinch when she felt his hands holding her tightly, but gently.

Parker whirled around and slapped him, forcing Jarod to let her go.

Upset for what she had just done, she hid her face with her hands and turned her back to him.

Jarod had expected this kind of reaction. He touched his cheek, almost amused by the situation, but he knew what he needed to say.

Better, he knew what she needed to hear.

“Miss Parker…It’s always been you…since we were kids at the Centre…the only person in my life, it was you…you can’t even imagine how…”

Jarod sighed, trying to convey the perfect words to express his feelings.

Miss Parker was breathing heavily now; she felt she wouldn’t hold back her tears for long.

“I told you if you wouldn’t get here, I’d understand. But here you are…I won’t allow you to spoil this moment, even if it means letting you go, for good.”

Parker was staring at the windows in front of her, but she didn’t have the strength to turn.

Jarod reinforced his message, “This time, I won’t give you clues or leads, I won’t play games to help you find me. I’ll be a ghost, and you won’t have to bear my presence anymore. So, is that what you want?”

Miss Parker couldn’t turn, not yet. Tears were streaming down her face.

Jarod hoped that she would stop him, that she would react and admit her real feelings.

He waited a few seconds, but when he felt that this was a lost cause, he switched to plan B. He knew what to do.

 

Miss Parker squeezed her eyes, trying to find some courage.

Should this end like this? How much would she regret not stopping Jarod from leaving now that she could?

She turned around only to realize that Jarod was gone. The door was ajar, so she ran towards the corridor, calling him out loud, “Jarod! Jarod!”

There was no trace of him.

The elevator was going down, she couldn’t reach him anymore.

She got back inside the room, closing the door behind her, bursting into tears.

“Idiot! What did you expect, that he would wait for you forever?” she shouted at herself.

She dried out her eyes and shrugged, trying to regain control of herself.

Jarod was gone. What was she going to tell Sydney?

She turned around again, and her eyes met Jarod’s.

He was here, in front of her.

She was speechless.

“I needed to know if you were ready.” he whispered, walking towards her. “Now I know.”

He took her hands in his and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Parker smiled and dried her face, with Jarod’s help.

After a tense laugh, she kissed him again. Tenderly, as if she had something to be forgiven for.

“I’m sorry I slapped you” she admitted.

“I know you’re tough…I have a whip and some studs in that suitcase…” he joked, leaning his forehead against hers. Parker laughed comfortably and tightened her arms around his neck.

They stood like that for a few seconds, savoring that moment when everything seemed so easy.

Suddenly, Parker panicked. She stared at him, “What are we gonna do?”

“Let’s think about that tomorrow. Tonight, it’s just us.”

“What did you have in mind?” she asked, teasing him.

Jarod smiled and tripped her, making her fall onto the bed. Parker burst out laughing and so did he, while he lay down next to her. Their laughs became a solemn silence when he started gently caressing her arm.

“Are you nervous?” he asked her.

Even if the answer she had in mind was “yes”, Miss Parker knew she wasn’t nervous at all. That man had always known her, better than anyone else. He had helped her defeating the ghosts from her past and finding out the truth about her family. He had guided her away from the numbness the Centre had forced her to live in for years.  

“No. I’m happy.” she revealed.

Jarod smiled and closed his eyes for a second, afraid that this was just a dream. When he felt ready, he lifted his eyelids.

Parker was still there, her incredible blue eyes staring at him.

And when he saw her smiling and moving close to him to be held, he understood that he had done the right thing.


NEW HAVEN HOTEL – NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

7.45 a.m.

When Miss Parker woke up the morning after, she found herself convinced it all must have been a dream. But when she realized that she was not in her bed and she was completely naked, she remembered.

Jarod.

Them.

It was true.

She stretched her arm to touch the pillow next to her, but he wasn’t there. She rolled over and noticed that the other part of the bed was empty.

Had he left without saying anything?

Then she heard the noise of the shower coming from the bathroom. She stood up and put on a bathrobe, then she glanced at her gun on the couch. She took it just as Jarod came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and another one in his hand, using it to dry his hair.

He looked at her suspiciously, without saying anything. Parker opened the gun and took off the loader, showing him that it was completely empty.

Jarod smiled and put his hands on her arms.

“I took it…just to scare you.” She whispered while he kissed her. “I’d never hurt you; you know that?”

“Sure.” He answered, “But thank you for confessing this, it must have cost you a lot.”

“You have no idea!” she chuckled.

“Why don’t you take a shower? I’m going to inform Sydney and Broots that you’re fine.”

“Ok.” she agreed.

 

While Parker focused on herself, Jarod got dressed, then he called Sydney with Parker’s mobile.

“Parker, thank God! Where are you, everyone’s going crazy!”

“It’s Jarod, Sydney” the pretender introduced himself “And don’t worry, Miss Parker is fine.”

“Jarod, you found her? Where are you? Do you need any help? Something happened?” Sydney asked, sounding very worried.

Jarod smiled for his mentor’s evident affection towards Miss Parker, “We’re just reconciling ourselves with the past…to get ready for the future.”

“What do you mean? Jarod?”

But the communication was over.

Jarod had left Sydney as always: without any precise answers.

Shortly after, he called room service and made sure the florist he had seen the night before on his way to the hotel brought some roses for Parker. He promised a generous tip to get them in ten minutes.

When everything was set, Jarod looked at his artwork on the table. His plan to convince Parker wasn’t over, yet.

This was phase 2: tame her with a superb breakfast.

When he saw the surprise in Miss Parker’s eyes when she came out the bathroom, Jarod realized he had hit the mark. Parker was dressed perfectly in every detail; she had also put on that perfume the pretender adored, even if he hadn’t smelled it often since he had run away from the Centre.

“What is this?” she asked, amused by the situation.

“Breakfast, Miss Parker…By the way, you think I could start calling you by name, sooner or later?”

“No. You made me a promise years ago, remember?” she asked.


“Look what a beautiful calligraphy you have…I like the way you write, Jarod”

Miss Parker and the pretender were sharing one of those rare moments when he had a break from simulations, so they were writing their signatures on papers, trying to involve Angelo too.

“Come on Angelo, that’s not your name!” Jarod said, when he saw the boy writing “Timmy” on the paper.

Miss Parker wrote her entire name, speaking out loud.

“I like your first name.” Jarod said, “Why am I not supposed to call you by your first name?”

“My mother was the only one who called me that…I don’t want anyone to say it anymore. If you really are my friend, promise me you won’t tell anybody what my real name is.”

“I promise, Miss Parker.”


“Ok, I’ll keep calling you Miss Parker.”

“Thank you, Jarod. But only Parker will be just fine.”

“Listen, I need to tell you something…And please, let me finish, because it’s very important that you understand.”

“All right.” she whispered.

Jarod breathed and let her drink some fruit juice, then he started.

“I’ve always known that I was in love with you. Since we were kids at the Centre…The SIMs were dreadful, and I had no friends, except Angelo. They introduced you into my life as another experiment, to see what kind of effect you would have on me…But they didn’t know what I really felt.”

Parker swallowed, holding in a sigh.

“We’ve been through so much pain, back at the Centre…But when you grew up your father sent you to border school in Europe and we got separated and you forgot about me. But I never stopped asking other people about you.”


“Jarod, you must get over it, Miss Parker is not coming back.” Sydney said to a little more than eighteen-year-old Jarod.

“It’s not possible Syd…She must come back…She promised me.”

“By now she won’t even remember who you are, Jarod! She’s living her life and so must you.”

“No, she promised me she would come back, that we would leave the Centre, together.” Jarod answered, thinking about that moment shared with her 5 years before.

“Then you must believe this…” Sydney concluded, giving Jarod a hand-written note. It was Miss Parker’s calligraphy, he knew it.  

 

   You were a good friend to me, Jarod.

   But now you must forget me.

   I’m leaving and I you can’t come with me.

   We won’t meet anymore.

   Goodbye.


“I never wrote that note, Jarod.” she reassured him.

“I know. But at that time, I was convinced that you had abandoned me and that you didn’t care anymore.”

“In a way that’s what actually happened, Jarod.” She answered, feeling her guilt surfacing. “I had a lot of fun in my school years, I had friends, I dated guys…And I forgot everything that ever happened to me when I was a kid at the Centre. I think it was a kind of self-defense that lasted until they called me back to…hunt you.”

Jarod nodded ruefully.

“It was a mistake to forget you, Jarod. I forgot who I really was.” she said.

“The day you came back...” he continued, almost ignoring her explanation. “Sydney told me. He knew I had been tormented by your absence for years, even if eventually managed to get over it.”

Parker followed his speech hanging on every word.

“Maybe you won’t believe me…But you were one of the reasons that pushed me to run away from the Centre. I wanted to see you.”

Parker was incredulous. “Your mother, your father…Your family…”

Jarod shook his head, “Yes, I wanted to find them at any cost, and I started looking for them as soon as I ran…But before, I had to see you…The day after my escape, I came back to Blue Cove looking for you…You were with a couple of friends of yours, later I discovered that they were college mates. You were drinking something in a bar, and you looked so happy.”

Parker focused on that memory. That had been the only night she had gone out with her schoolmates to talk about old times.

One of the most trivial and monotonous nights of her life.

“When you got home, I saw you lying on the couch with a glass of scotch in one hand…and a picture of Catherine in the other.”

Parker couldn’t hold back a tear.

“That was the moment I understood my purpose: not only would I find my family and avenge other people’s injuries…I would also find out who had actually killed Catherine, so that I could regain your trust.”

“Jarod…”

He took her hand from the other side of the table and squeezed it.

“You were so incredibly beautiful, Parker…Even more than I remembered…You’ve had everything, and yet you were still that sad little girl I had met at the Centre. I watched over you for a while, from the window, but I was too intimidated to get in. I was sure that you wouldn’t recognize me. And you know the rest.”

Jarod stood up and walked across the room, his arms folded. Parker reached him and made him turn to face her, “If you had come inside that night to tell me what you just said…We would have been spared these years of chasing, Jarod.”

He seemed skeptical. “You would have never believed me…Your father and Mr. Raines manipulated so well that you started to hunt me.”

“They filled me with lies for years. Believe what they told me is my biggest regret. But now I’m here, and I’m asking you to forgive me for being so selfish, weak and blind.”

“You don’t need my forgiveness if you won’t forgive yourself first.”

“But it can put me on the right track.” she replied, smiling.

“You can’t imagine how much I’ve waited for you, Parker.” he whispered, stroking her hair.

“I hope it’s worth it, Jarod. I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“You won’t. The past is past. Now we stick to the future.”

“Together.” she added.

Jarod kissed her and hugged her. He had finally conquered her heart, now Parker was really his.

“I love you.” he said without letting go of her.

Parker was initially surprised to hear herself answering, “I love you, too”.

But then she understood those words had been hidden inside her for years. Now she wouldn’t have to lie to herself anymore.

The future. Together.

Chapter 2: Chocolate and Blue Roses by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Disclaimer in 1st Chapter.

As usual, thanks to Antoinette, and sorry for the "Castle" quotes ;)

Feel free to review and rate, even if you think this is terrible!

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
Ore 3.17 p.m.

 

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
Ore 3.17 p.m.

After spending the morning talking together, Jarod had decided to do something fun, that afternoon. Even though Miss Parker had no idea where they were going, Jarod seemed to know exactly what he was doing. They were in a rented car, a black sedan with tinted windows, typical Centre style. Jarod was driving at moderate speed, his sunglasses covering his eyes and a very smiling face. Miss Parker sat next to him and sometimes she glanced at him. When Jarod caught her watching him, she diverted her eyes quickly, a bit embarrassed, like a child caught spying on her boyfriend.
Jarod seemed amused by that new and comfortable situation, though; it was the first time they drove together on the same vehicle and he didn’t have his hands cuffed.
The landscape flew outside and became more and more rural. The day was lovely, as if it was a reflection of their good mood.
“Jarod…you’ve been driving for half an hour, where are you taking me?”
“You’ll see.” he answered. Then he took her hand and kissed it gently, obtaining a happy look on Miss Parker’s face in exchange.
The trip went on for a few minutes until Jarod turned right into a dirty road. He slowed down and finally stopped in front of a country red brick manor. It was adorable, surrounded by luxuriant trees and wrapped in an atmosphere of total peace.
Miss Parker breathed deeply, thinking that spring would soon arrive and she would get outside without her leather jacket. The wind messed her hair that was falling heavy on her shoulders. It had grown since the last time she had seen Jarod.
“What’s this place?” she asked, curious.
Jarod took off the sunglasses and closed the car door. “This was the house where your mother used to spend summers before you were born. It was on sale until a few days ago, but not anymore.”
“Who bought it?”
“I did.” Jarod confessed, smiling in amusement. Miss Parker knew that Jarod had lived with the money stolen from the Centre for years. But the fact that he had always used that money to help people probably didn’t give him the right to invest it in buying a house.
“If you’re wondering,” he immediately guessed what she was thinking “I bought it with the money I made all these years with my “honest work”. You may not believe me, but they paid me handsomely whenever I used my so called pretending-talent to find a new job. Well, some better than others.”
Parker smiled, both for his joke and because Jarod, once again, had guessed what she was thinking.
“Catherine used to come here two weeks a year and she always invited an old friend of hers to spend time together.”
“Who?”
“My mother.” he finished, this time with a lump in his throat. He approached her and held Parker from behind, laying his face warmly next to hers and smelling her vanilla hair perfume.
“Can you figure that? Our mothers staying here for days, together?”
“Jarod, how could you possibly know this?” she asked, staring at him and trying to understand how he could always know so many things.
“Because a few days ago, somebody sent me an e-mail with this attached.” he answered honestly, taking a picture from his jacket.
It was a black and white photo portraying Catherine and Margaret in front of that house, together. The manor hadn’t changed since, while the smiles on the two women’s faces had disappeared forever.
Margaret was pregnant, she was probably far a few months.
“March 1959…Jarod, this is a few months before…”
“I was born, exactly.” he concluded her sentence.
“This means Margaret and my mother were friends…They went on holidays together and knew each other before you were kidnapped by The Centre.” Miss Parker whispered, her voice broken by emotion.
“I’m afraid this very friendship marked the fate of my family. I’ve been searching for information for years, but these pictures came out just in the last few months; first, the one taken in front of the Alley Sports Bar, and now this. Both sent to me by an anonymous source, which seems to be always the same. And it is inside The Centre.”
Miss Parker shook her head, thoughtful: “If it was Sydney, he would tell us, he never hid anything from us…”
“And if it was Angelo, he would have sent them to me years ago, he wouldn’t have waited so long.” continued Jarod.
“Not so many people know secrets of our past so well and are eager to confess them. I would not want this to be a trap.” continued Miss Parker. She was looking forward to getting inside the manor, so she made a few steps towards the house door.
“I don’t think this is a trap.” Jarod stopped her, while Parker was turning again “After all…”
He came closer and looked at her, smiling: “Ending on the island of Carthis with you was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Miss Parker snorted. “I don’t think so, Jarod. You certainly had better moments, in your life.”
A second later she regretted what she had just said, realizing that Jarod was an overgrown boy who had spent thirty years of his life locked up in hell. Jarod sighed. Miss Parker had so much to learn about kindness.
“Forgive me, I…”
“It’s impossible to try and be romantic, with you. Maybe you abandoned your huntress instincts, but you did not lose your sarcastic sense of humor.”
Parker smiled, noticing how mad he just got. Jarod was  walking fast towards the manor, with heavy steps.

What was that weird feeling she felt? Rage for fighting with him for the first time since they got together? That wouldn’t be nor the first neither the last time they would quarrel; their relationship had always been like that, anyway. It wasn’t easy to change and she would never be the an easy girl. But she had to admit that she was having fun, living such a moment. Even so, she started following Jarod, who had left her behind.
“Come on, Jarod…I’m sorry, sometimes I forget you lost the 80s!” she shouted, while he was entering the manor, shutting the front door.  
“Jarod!” she screamed, opening the door. As soon as she put a foot inside the antechamber, a hundred pounds of liquid chocolate fell above her and covered her from head to toe.  She couldn’t even yell, such was the surprise. Jarod was laughing next to her and enjoying the show that lasted not more that ten seconds. When the chocolate stopped falling from the bucket on the ceiling, Parker cleaned her eyes and stared at him, dirty in every inch of her body. She licked her lips and found out it was good, that chocolate.
“Swiss imported chocolate, if you were wondering.” Jarod explained, approaching her but keeping a safe distance.
“Yes, that’s what I was wondering…Why, Jarod?” she asked him, shaking some more chocolate from herself.
Jarod made another step. “These are my favorite things.” he said.
“What, your silly mind games that drive me mad?” she yelled, with the tone of the frenetic hunter who always got cheated by his prey.
Jarod tightened his arms around her and kissed her, tasting the sweet taste of her lips.
“Chocolate…and you.”
Parker burst out laughing and kissed him again. “If I had my gun, you’d already have a hole in your foot.”
“I thought that was my knee.” he replied, remembering  what she told him in Bahia Grande years before, when she threatened to shoot him.
“I change my mind easily…” she whispered slowly, smiling artfully.
“I know. I’ve always been good at persuading you to gain your trust.”
When she realized how true those words were, Miss Parker became serious for a while. She proudly looked at Jarod and she put her hands on his shoulders.
“Jarod…Did I ever thank you for everything you’ve done for me all these years?”


Jarod was sitting at the fireplace, next to Miss Parker, and their faces were by now very close.
“The Centre wanted us to believe that finding the truth is a mistake, that looking for answers about who you really are is futile, and finding any kind of…connection” he stopped a second to taste that important word “outside their control is wrong.”
Parker looked elsewhere for just a second.
“I know you don't want to hear this, but you can feel it. You have been a Centre prisoner all these years, just like me. With every discovery you find, you...you are every bit the outcast…” Jarod stopped again, the fire flames reflected in his eyes.
“Just like me.” he finally said.
“Why is it that the one person ...that I have been trained...to distrust, to hate, to capture…is always with me, during the most difficult moments of my life?”
Parker asked this question not only to Jarod, but also to herself.
“Maybe, it's supposed to be that way…” he answered.


When Jarod thought about those moments, he felt like he was on the island again. He actually did not kiss her, that night?
“Yes, you did.” he said, answering the previous question.
Parker looked at him incredulous, sure that she’d never really pronounced the word “thank you” in a honest way, to Jarod. But she knew that he probably had his own reasons to think so.
“Boy genius, I need to take a shower or I’ll be all sticky in a few seconds.”
“Sure, sweetheart, go ahead.”
Miss Parker was now staring at him, simply furious. Sweetheart?
Jarod smiled. “How come you can use ridiculous epithets with me but I can’t call you by first name, neither give you a nickname? Well, I’ll start calling you C…”
Miss Parker stopped him with a kiss. She didn’t want to give in, and Jarod knew she always wanted to have the last word.
She went looking for a bathroom inside the house and found one with a huge shower upstairs.
Jarod, instead, started roaming inside the manor he just bought. He was almost sitting on the couch when he heard Parker shouting from upstairs: “Come on, Mr. Houdini, I’m waiting!”
Jarod stood up and smiled with himself: “What a woman…”


 

After the shower – regenerating for both – the two of them started wandering in the house. They were intrigued by every detail: the yellowed wallpaper, the inlaid bedside tables, the chest in the living room, the rustic styled kitchen. It seemed to have come out of a 50’s furniture catalogue. But the thing that got their attention was the complete absence of décor: no photos on the wall, no low cost ornaments, no mementos of the past.
Parker started wondering if the Centre had cleaned up the house yet, taking all the precious stuff belonging to Catherine and Margaret.
“Jarod you’ve already been here. You didn’t find anything belonging to my mother, did you?”
Jarod shook his head. He was following her in a mysterious way, he seemed to be intent on observing every move she made. Parker, on the other hand, touched almost every object she saw.
“Why buying it, then?” she asked, confused.
“I hoped your inner sense would lead us to solve the mystery hiding between these walls.”
Parker stopped and looked at him seriously. “My inner sense?”
Jarod nodded. They had experienced how much Miss Parker’s intuition had grown. Her capability of feeling sensations, emotions and also having visions was comparable to Jarod’s talent as a pretender. But whereas his one was a rational talent, Parker’s gift was completely irrational and subjective. They complemented each other in a very perfect way.
“Sometimes I wonder…If your mother had foreseen the future that awaits for us.” Jarod said.
Parker touched a marble-topped chest on which stood a Victorian style mirror. Her gaze got lost in her reflection for a second, and a moment later she wasn’t there anymore.


Behind her, two kids sat on the floor and laughed, playing and making pyramids with cubes of various sizes. The boy was dark haired and seemed a little bigger than the girl, who had a thick brunette hair and light blue eyes. Miss Parker saw Catherine and Margaret standing next to the children, intent to admire their babies.
“I’d be glad if they keep such bond even when they get older.” Margaret said.
“Oh, they’ll be even more than this” Catherine whispered, smiling at the babies.     


“Miss Parker.” Jarod shouted.
Realizing that he spoke, Miss Parker understood she might have been absent for a few seconds, while she was having that vision. Her heart was pounding but she couldn’t understand why. After all, she had just seen a moment of her youth she could have remembered even without that vision.
“Jarod…I saw you…” she started to explain, moving towards the exact point where the children were playing until a few seconds before.
“Of course, Parker, I’m here.” he answered, holding her hand.
“No…I’ve just seen you playing here, as a kid…You might have been three…And I was there too, probably two, or two and a half.”
Jarod looked at the floor, but he couldn’t see anything but the parquet, obviously.
“My mother and yours…They were here with us…And they watched us playing together…Do you remember anything of that?”
“No…But I have almost no memories of my life before they kidnapped me…It’s my greatest regret” he explained ruefully.
Parker smiled. “It was wonderful…They wanted us to preserve that bond and be close even when we grew up.”
Suddenly Jarod had a flashback of his childhood, back at the Centre.


“Jarod, I’ve been told you already met my child.” Catherine said, while she was walking with him through The Centre corridors.
“She’s my best friend. I like spending time with her, she’s brave and smart, and sometimes she also makes me laugh. And she’s beautiful as you are, Mrs Parker.”
Catherine, with a strange light in her eyes, lowered and put her hands on his shoulders, “Jarod, how many times do I have to ask you to call me Catherine?”
“Mr. Raines told me not to, Mrs. Parker.”
Catherine tried to smile and invited young Jarod to keep walking.
“You are so smart, my boy…Your mother would be so proud of you…”
Omitting any other formality, Jarod lost his inhibition, “You know my mother?”
Catherine, noticing people walking around them, asked Jarod to be quiet and then let him sit on a bench.
“You know, I cannot talk to you about this, but you have to know something: I’ll do everything possible to protect you and the other children…And that’s why something terrible might happen to me…”
Jarod shook his head, “You must not take risks, I’ve got Sydney who takes care of me. He promised me that my parents will come back and take me away.”
Catherine smiled and held him, touched. “Jarod, promise me that if something happens to me, you’ll take care of my daughter.”
“I don’t want anything to happen to you, Mrs. Parker. You’re good and careful and always treated me with respect.”
Catherine had tears to her eyes, “Jarod…I know you will have to face adversities and obstacles that will take you away from each other. But in this very moment I want you to promise that whatever happens…you’ll always be Charlotte’s best friend.”
Jarod didn’t answer, he couldn’t accept the idea to lose the only woman who reminded him of his mother.
“Promise me Jarod…that you’ll always be close to her, whatever happens, even in the most difficult times of her life, when she needs a guide to make important choices.”
“I promise, Catherine.”
She held him tenderly, then she saw Sydney in the distance and urged Jarod to go back to him.


Jarod had never told Parker about this. And not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t remember this, before.
“I was right. This house can help us remember…” he whispered.
“Did you see something, too?”
“I just remembered something I hadn’t been thinking about since ’69…A conversation with your mother.”
Parker made him understand she wanted to know everything instantly, so Jarod satisfied her and told her with very clear and precise details what he just remembered. Too much clearly and precisely.
Sat on the couch in the huge living room, Jarod described the loving caress he had received from Catherine just before she died. Even if she was a stranger, in his eyes, she had behaved almost like a mother, at least as much as The Centre and Mr. Parker allowed her to.
“She was the one to insist that you were the girl of that sim…The day we met.”
Parker smiled, thinking about that. “Yeah…With that brunette bobbed hair and schoolgirl-dress I must have arouse you pretty well.”
Jarod laughed, “Your presence was enough. I mean, a kid surrounded by men, did you expect me not to get excited for the first girl I met? You were the only female being I’ve thought about for years.”
Miss Parker’s good mood faded as she realized that boy genius had hit a nerve. She often wondered if he had idealized her just because he had never a chance to see other girls. And what he had just said apparently confirmed her fears. She stood up, her arms folded and her face saddened.
“What?” Jarod asked, guessing that her sudden change of mood was due to what he had just said.
“Maybe you don’t love me Jarod, but the idea of you and me together. Maybe you think you love me just because you never found better.”
Since Parker had said this without facing him, she couldn’t see the pleased smile Jarod had on his face.
She was actually considering that an issue? But she didn’t remember what he had said on the car when they were coming back from the isle of Carthis?


“What am I supposed to do, Jarod?”
“Only you can answer that. I'd just hate to see anyone miss a turning point when one is staring them right in the face.”
“And I suppose you're gonna open my eyes?”
“No, you don't need me to do that. Only you can decide for yourself whether or not to take a hard look at your life...the way your mother once did.”
“Leave my mother out of this, okay? I am not her.”
“Then who are you? Your father? Is the Parker legacy what you want to pass on to your children?”
He had stopped for a second and she had looked at his father imposing figure, standing right outside of the car. What Jarod was saying made sense completely.  
“Look, we've been through a lot together, you and me. From when we were kids at the Centre... to the last couple of days. I know that rarely our allegiances are the same but I've always felt- I've always known...that there was something more to our lives than I run and you chase.”
Even if that declaration had shocked her, she had not showed. “Maybe we do what we have to just to get by in this life, Jarod.”
“Maybe we both deserve something more.” He had whispered.
“Just…Just forget what happened on that island. Forget that moment of weakness. Turning points only come when you've got something to turn to.”
When Jarod had taken her hand to hold it inside his, imploring Miss Parker to realize that her turning point had finally arrived, she had suddenly retracted her hand.
“I'm sorry... this isn't the different ending you were looking for. But it's just the way the damn story goes, Jarod.”


“Even if you are such a smart woman, sometimes you talk nonsense, Parker.” he said, holding her from behind her back.
“Is that nonsense?” she asked, turning around to look him in his eyes.
Jarod smiled. “It’s true. I’ve never had to do with other women until I was more than thirty. In my mind there was only you. I was practically obsessed by you, I already told you that. But when I escaped, I met hundreds of people. I can assure you I had to do with other women, and you know that, too…”
Parker thought about that painful moment when she realized she was jealous of the fleeting relationship Jarod had with Nia Pedron. At that time, she defined herself “foolish” and hadn’t told any one what she felt, not even Sydney.
“But I had this umbilical cord that kept me tied to The Centre…it wouldn’t allow me to live my experiences in a “normal” way. Wherever I was, I needed to call you, drive you mad with the mind games I left for you and all the clues, all because I always hoped that you would find me…”
Parker looked at him questioning what he was saying.  
“Did you ever wonder why I didn’t just disappear? A genius like me can cover his own tracks, but I always left them, very evident, to let Broots find out where I was and allow you to reach me. Sometimes you found me too late, sometimes too soon…But my main purpose was always the same, seeing you again, Miss Parker.”
“That’s what I can’t understand, Jarod…You met a lot of women, nicer and more friendly than me, why didn’t you choose one of them?”
“Uh, well, you’re right…Many women knew me, some of them loved me. They were incredible women, and I’ll always remember them with affection. But they all share the same flaw.”
“What, red-hair?” she asked ironically.
“None of them was you.”
Parker blushed slightly and let herself go a little, holding her arms around Jarod’s neck, while he put his hands on her waist.
“I tried so hard to make you open up. I wrote a romantic book about you, I sent you presents to let you understand I remembered every single thing you told me, I tried to regain your trust by helping you find out what happened to Catherine. But I failed…And when I realized you didn’t feel the same things I did for you, I gave somebody else the opportunity to make you happy.”
Here we’re talking about Thomas, Parker thought.
“And believe me, if things have worked out, you would have never received other clues from me. I would have been just a friend to trust whenever you needed to – as I had promised Catherine. Unfortunately, we both know what happened…Tommy’s death was a tragedy for me too. That was the moment I had to come back and annoy you. I needed to distract you and give you an excuse to prevent you from suffering.”
Miss Parker shook her head. After Thomas’s death the only person who really helped her was Jarod. That was the first time she opened her eyes about The Centre, about her life. She had never appreciated Jarod more than the day he had confessed to her that he had met Tommy before she did.
“I was again your toy, I was the thing you hated more in the whole world. And you can’t imagine how much I suffered. In fact, that was the moment I tried to get away from you, when I also met Zoe.”
Parker groaned to let him understand she remembered the woman that competed with her for Jarod’s love.
“But even if it was lasting, with her…” Jarod sighed “One day spent together with you was enough to let me reconsider…We were lost on an island, fighting for our lives, but…I can’t help thinking about Carthis as the major opportunity I’ve ever had to lower your defenses…Believe me, I loved you more and more every time my eyes met yours, that night.”
“Oh, Jarod…”
“Maybe it’s true, if my life was different, if I had a normal childhood, I probably would not love you as much as I do. I wouldn’t have spent my teens obsessed by the memory of that girl who gave me my first kiss. And I wouldn’t have spent my first years of freedom driving you mad because I actually wanted you to find me, sure!”
Parker laughed, this time out loud.
“But of one thing, I’m certain. Even if I had lived with my family, we would have grown up together. Because what you saw a few minutes ago, it was a memory, not a mirage.”
Parker smiled. “You’re right. And it was beautiful, intense…we were so happy, even if so young and innocent.”
“Your mother asked me to be your friend. And that’s what I’ve always done since then. Sometimes it was very hard, because you pushed me away. Other times it was so easy, like that night in Bahia Grande…And you wondered why I saved your life…”
“Well, I’m telling you a secret. Women make questions to test men’s feelings. We love to get flattered with sweet words, I bet you didn’t know this one.”
“That’s why I answered you by mentioning our first kiss, Miss Parker…You see? I know women very well.”
“You know me, for sure. Maybe better than anyone else, because you saw the real Charlotte, the one I forgot when my mother died.”
“I see three different persons inside you. Little Charlotte, my best friend…Miss Parker, the ice-woman who chased me for years, lying to herself…”
He stopped for a second and led her to the mirror in front of which she had stood before.
“And now…my Parker. The one who’s going to join those two personalities to decide if she truly loves me.”
Parker smiled, looking at the reflection of that smart and enigmatic man “You’re always the same Jarod. An overgrown child who must still find his way home.”
“Maybe.” he answered, his face lost inside her brown hair. “But at least now I've found the courage to tell you that I love you, so I’ve made a step forward toward my future.”
Parker nodded and kissed him gently. How could she doubt the strong feelings that bound them now that all the missing pieces of the puzzle were starting to fall into place?
“I’ve always been afraid that I’d…got older alone…chasing you to no avail…Sometimes I imagined myself as a remade-sixty-trigger-happy woman, with a liver crushed by my alcoholic problem.”
Jarod looked at her seriously and then, suddenly, they both started laughing. They went on for a few seconds, so that Parker realized she was even crying with laughter.


“Jarod, tell me a joke!” Miss Parker asked Jarod. They were wandering in the Biodome 28 East Gallery, where there was the internal greenhouse. Sometimes they met there and pretended to be in a London Park, where both of them would have wanted to live, once older.
“What is a joke, Miss Parker?” Jarod asked, because he’d never heard that word before.
Parker came close to a blue rose bush, her favorite. Sometimes she went inside that greenhouse just to steal one and be chased by the botanist, who reproached her for her continual robberies.
“It’s like a funny story…But you must understand it, if you really want to laugh.”
Jarod started to think intensely. He was fourteen, and he had known Miss Parker for a very long time. He was starting to look at her in a different way. They were growing and so were their instincts. Sydney had taught him everything about women courting, and yet he never dared making the first step, with Miss Parker, because she was also his best friend and he couldn’t figure how she would react.
When he saw her staring at the blue roses, he came close and bent to the ground with her.
“Flowers growing down here are not like the ones that live outside, under the sunlight.”
“Why?” she asked, not so convinced.
“Down here, nothing is real. The flower can rise, grow and live. But this will never be a complete existence, not without savoring the wind, the sun, the night.”
Parker looked at him, hung on every word. If only Jarod could understand how much she loved him. He was the only one who said those kind of things, the only one who made her feel fine. After school, she always went to The Centre with her father, who obliged her to spend the entire day imprisoned there. But the truth was…that even if she could have chosen, she would never leave Jarod, nor Angelo. They were her only friends.   
“Perhaps, Jarod. But also buds born inside here can grow and bloom. They just have to find their own way differently…”
Jarod nodded, his face was very serious. “Sydney said you’re leaving for Europe for your studies, soon…He said your father wants to send you away from The Centre.”
“I won’t go, I’m not going to leave you…”
“Would you really stay here because of me?”
Parker smiled. “Of course, but don’t fool yourself!”
Jarod turned red and looked elsewhere. The botanist wasn’t there, so he took a blue rose from the bush, took it with the entire stem, then gave it to Miss Parker, who smiled.
“Promise me one day…we’re leaving…you and I.”
“And where could we possibly go? Do you reckon Mr. Raines and Sydney would allow you to do that?”
Jarod shook his head, “No…But I’ll find a way to get out of here…And then we’ll leave and go very far, we’ll live together and be friends forever.”
“Friends?” she asked, nervously.
Jarod smiled and took her hand. “We’ll be whatever you want us to be…”
“I love you, Jarod.”
“Me too, Miss Parker.”


The echo of those words was still repeating inside her mind, when Miss Parker stopped laughing. A new memory, a new vision…But why just then, and all together? Why hadn’t she thought about those moments for years? There were other details of the past she shared with Jarod that she had never forgotten. Like their first kiss, or Faith’s discovery, or the day they have met. Why those memories instead were resurfacing just then?
Jarod suppressed his last laughter and touched his chest, then he sat on the couch. He was observing Parker with a calm and peaceful look, as if he had never felt happier in his entire life. She responded with a languid glance, when Jarod stretched his arm to invite her sitting next to him.
Parker took his hand and sat so as she could look at his face.
“Jarod…Do you think The Centre might have…taken away…pieces from our memory… deliberately?”
He sighed. “I don’t think there is such a technology, but…with hypnosis and mostly with a great knowledge of our memories…yes, I guess they might have done that. Why are you asking?”
“Because…since we came here I’ve been remembering events that I didn’t even know have happened! And all about us…”
“What did you see, this time?” he asked, curious.
Miss Parker smiled. “Blue roses…And our promise to leave The Centre together.”
Jarod gazed into space and time and a few seconds later he remembered the same thing. How could he possibly forget such a beautiful moment?
Suddenly he realized that he had memories of other events mostly because of the Centre DSAs. His life in Blue Cove had always been monitored and catalogued. The cameras followed him at any time, and they never left him…So where did such important DSAs end up?
“You know, I think someone made a few important moments of our lives vanish from the Centre archives to hide them from further controls.”
“My mother?” she asked.
Jarod shook his head. “Catherine died in 1970, for all we know…The memories we’re talking about go well beyond, at least up to ’75, the year you left…”
“Then who?”
“I don’t know…But I’d love to find out. There may be so many memories to revive, and…to share, too.” he whispered, taking her hand and keeping it close to his face. Parker thought that gesture was incredibly sweet, but she didn’t show.
“Have you really felt something for me, when we were kids?”
“I would have never admitted with a clear mind, but I was the one who broke the ice, if I’m not mistaken!” she answered.
“You said girls mature faster than boys…”
“I was lying, I was just cheeky.” she laughed, opening her eyes, which were immediately hit by the light coming through the window. Jarod kissed her tenderly and, once again, he kept his forehead in touch with hers, in silence and eyes closed. Then he kissed her forehead and stood up, leaving her astonished.
“Jarod, what’s on your mind?”
“If we want this to be forever…it’s time to put an end to The Centre.”
Parker did not expect that sudden change of route. She had hoped that they would take a few days off to talk, stay together, remember.
“Jarod…Why don’t we run? Just the two of us…We may tell Broots and Sydney, they’ll help hide…we’ll leave for Europe, London…Or Haiti, or Thailand, or Siberia…”
Jarod turned around while she was standing up and approaching him.
“Twenty-four hours ago, my life was chasing you…”
“What changed?” he asked.
“Now you are my life. I know this took me too long, and I’m sorry. But I don’t want to risk losing you right now we finally found each other!”
Parker was crying. Jarod felt so protective towards her, that he could not resist watching her like that a second more.
“Parker, the only thing I want right now is to be with you…But my family is out there, somewhere…I can’t let it go. Besides, remember that if The Centre found out about us, Raines wouldn’t hesitate to kill us.”
Parker dried her eyes and nodded rapidly. For a moment, Jarod saw in her that little girl in need of affection he had met at The Centre. He didn’t feel like ending that unexpected solace they’ve found since the night before. For once, he felt the need to be selfish and put his feelings before the others’.
“I’m making a pact with you, Parker. We’re staying here for a few days. Just you and me. After spending some time together you’ll probably get tired of all these sugary words.”
She sniggered. It was the first time she was thinking that it might be good to live just on air and love. What was she, seventeen?
“But then, we get serious. We’ll have to continue the work we started in Carthis, we must find the Triumvirate weaknesses to destroy them, once and for all.”
“Nothing I want more…a holiday week with my prey…This must be my lucky day!” she said, back in a good mood. Jarod smiled.


Jarod and Miss Parker sat in the living room. Even if outside it was hot, they had lighted the fire and eaten a romantic dinner in front of the fireplace. Now she was lying on the couch, while Jarod sat on the floor in front of her, with a glass of red wine in his hand.
“I thought you don’t like wine, but after tonight I must admit I discovered another thing that I didn’t know about you, and that I like.”
Jarod laughed. “I’m not a great drinker, Parker. But I couldn’t give up a glass of good Chianti in such fascinating company.”
Parker started stroking his hair, Jarod kept staring at the flames in the fireplace.
“Tell me something I don’t know.” he asked her, turning around and looking at her with the eyes of a boy asking his mummy to read a bedtime story.
Parker smiled. She had exactly something in her mind that Jarod couldn’t know.


Jarod’s clone was looking at her with the very same eyes her Jarod had. She saw in Gemini the same agonies that had suffocated Jarod during his years as a prisoner of The Centre. The same insecurities. As she felt like an eleven-year-old girl, she tried to explain why she went visiting him.
“When I was your age, I knew a boy just like you. Exactly like you.”
The young pretender couldn’t understand how much that statement was true.
“I felt for him, but I never let him know…”
The boy was listening to her, almost without breathing.
“I saw...pain... in his eyes...but I looked the other way…I see the same pain in your eyes. But I can't look away anymore.”


“How’s the boy, by the way?” she asked, remembering that in the short time she had spent with him, she grew fond of him very much.
“My father named him Jesse, a name deriving from a word that might mean gift.”
“It’s a lovely name…” she murmured.
Jarod smiled, thinking that he hadn’t seen him for such a long time. Was he growing more and more like him?
“I don’t know why I exposed myself so much with him…Maybe I thought that confessing to him I’ve felt something for you…would have silenced my guilt, at least for a while…”
“This side of yours is so sweet…did you actually realize you felt for me, then?”
She nodded slowly, “Yes…and maybe I would have told you, if you hadn’t kidnapped my father.”
Jarod grimaced, not convinced. But it was such a long time before. He’d never really intended to hurt Mr. Parker. The man had eventually caused his own troubles by himself.
“But I made amends…I stayed with you when they shot you, remember?”
“No…I was unconscious…You didn’t run?”
“I helped my father and Jesse to run, but I didn’t leave with them. You were bleeding so damn much…My life with my family was right there, in front of me, and I was so stupid to stay, stroking your hair with your father glaring at me!”
Parker smiled at the thought, she would have wanted to be awake to see it.
“I wanted to take you to the hospital immediately, but Brigitte prevented me from doing it. That was when I tried to run.”
“And you got caught.”
“You know what was the first thing I thought when I got back to The Centre?”
She shook her head.
“That you would have died without knowing the truth about my real feelings for you…They didn’t even tell me if you were dead or alive, when they confined you in that lonely hospital, and I didn’t know if you were safe.”
“Another cruelty to be charged on my lovely brother’s account when it’s time to deal with him…And…Another kiss to put into account on you.” she said leaning and kissing him.

“Thanks.”

Parker yawned. All those conversations had tired her more than the last ten chases of Jarod.
“Wanna go to sleep?”
“No…I like the idea of you and me talking…it’s like…we opened a Pandora’s box. I’d be glad if you told me everything, anything you feel to say, even insults!”
Jarod smiled, reckoning that was the right occasion to play a joke on her. She wanted to know everything? So that was the time to satisfy her.
“Ok, Parker. Well, I must confess, I’ve noticed one thing. You put on some weight, since we went on the island.”
Parker stared at him and opened her mouth. That was true, in the last period she had put on a couple of pounds. The uneasiness for not hearing news from Jarod (not even at the phone) had been remarkable in the last two months, and she had found comfort in food. But she couldn’t have showed!
Parker stood and sat, without saying a word.
“I…”
Jarod secretly enjoyed this, trying to keep a serious face. He wanted to see her mad, to see what she would say.
“Well, Jarod…Then I must admit…you have definitely a few more gray hairs.” she replied.
Jarod smiled, “Oh, do I?”
That said, he got on the couch above her and started to kiss her hungrily, trying not to give in to the instinct to undress her. When his lips left hers, the fire crackles filled the silence in the room. Her beautiful light blue eyes looked again at him in huge desire.  
“Have I already told you…how beautiful you are?”
She nodded.!“You’re too much in love to see my faults, but I’ve got many.”
“No, Parker” he answered, kissing her neck. “You don’t.”
“Mmm…We should have done this five years ago!” she finally said.
Jarod couldn’t do anything but smile.

End Notes:

If you're reading, I hope to have comments too! Even if you want to insult me!

Chapter 3: The Lost DSAs by missparker87
Author's Notes:

As usual, thanks a lot to Antoinette, my Guardian Angel, she's helping me a lot getting through this...I was very looking forward for updating the story. I hope you all forgive my lack of good English, remember it's not my own language ;) I hope I did a good work anyway...

 

CATHERINE PARKER’S MANOR

The day after – 9.07 a.m.

This time it was Jarod who opened his eyes and did not find Parker close to him. At that moment, the only thing he had in his mind was the sublime night he had just spent with the woman he loved.
He had dreamed of it so many times, that now he couldn’t believe it was all true, and yet, it was.

Starting to wonder where Parker was, he called her, without obtaining a response from her. For a terrible moment, he wondered whether she had secretly escaped to get back to the Centre and organize a team of sweepers to take him away. A second later, he hated himself for doubting her. That night, after Parker had gone to sleep, Jarod hadn’t been able to do so. He was so in love that his feelings were above his brains for the first time. And it was also the first time that his first thought wasn’t for his family, for his mother, but for her.
Sure, he had always thought about Miss Parker, he had always admired her during his daydreams, but not as much. Looking at her sleeping right next to him, he realized for the first time that he would never let her go, that she was the most important thing in his life. His only glimmer of hope back at the Centre and now the reason that would push him to the goalof watching the Centre burn from its very foundation.


Sitting in the bed right beside her, he had taken the phone and called the only person he could talk with.
“It’s Sydney.”
“Did I wake you?”
“Jarod!” he answered. “No, I’ve been waiting for your call for hours, I was sure you’d phoned. How’s Parker?”
The pretender glanced at her wonderful silhouette.
“She’s sleeping.”
From his pupil’s voice, it didn’t take long to Sydney to understand that Parker wasn’t just sleeping, but she was sleeping next to him.
“Do you think this is…right?” Jarod asked, almost looking for his blessing.
Sydney smiled. “I think this is the crowning of a journey you’ve started together years ago…and in the last few years I really hoped that you two got where you are now…”
Jarod caressed Parker’s naked shoulder, checking that she was sleeping. Fortunately, she was a heavy sleeper.
“I’ve never felt this way before, Sydney. Even if now I’m stronger…I also feel more…vulnerable.”
“It’s ok, Jarod…Think about how she might feel…I guess it wasn’t easy to convince her to admit her own feelings.”
“Almost like wrestling an alligator.” Jarod answered, grinning.
Sydney waited a few seconds. “You deserve to be happy, Jarod…You two together are the answer to my prayers…Don’t be afraid of loving each other.”
Stunned by those words, Jarod couldn’t say anything but “Thank you.” and hung up.


Jarod was standing up when Miss Parker reached him, beaming with joy. She was curiously wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She probably felt so at ease that she could avoid her classic elegant threatening-look that drove people mad.  
“Good morning, Boy Wonder!”
“Are we back to those epithets from the past?” he asked, a bit amused.
“I wanna show you something…I’ll be waiting for you in the attic!” she explained, kissing him. Then she headed to the door.
“Parker!” he stopped her.
“What?” she asked, turning back.
“I’m sorry…”
She looked at him, astonished, “For what?”
“I…”
Remembering how she had felt the morning before, she guessed why he was apologizing. And she also realized she didn’t care if he had thought that she might have disappeared to reach the Centre and hand him over. It was fair enough if he was afraid, she had decided to change her life just two days before. But she could play this to have some fun.
“You’re right, Jarod, I’m very disappointed…” she said, trying to remain serious and approaching the bed.
“Really? I’m sorry, Parker, I don’t know what…”
“I’m disappointed” she interrupted him, “Because you keep persisting in apologizing! Stop blaming yourself, I know I’ve been your hunter for five years, it’s ok if you’re afraid of me…”
“No, it’s not.” he answered, angry with himself.
“Jarod” she articulated well his name and sat next to him, “I won’t betray your trust. I won’t hunt you anymore, unless it’s fun. I won’t stop loving you. I won’t run away from myself. But you have to trust me…You think you can?”
All doubts Jarod may have had disappeared right then. Parker was resolute, smart, and…also incredibly exciting.
Jarod kissed her with passion, forcing her to contemplate the possibility to let go of the discovery she had just made in the attic. But it was very important, so she tried to depart from Jarod.
“The attic…” she said between a kiss and the other.
“It’ll still be there in half an hour.” he convinced her.
Parker had no option but to agree.


When they reached the attic, Jarod was still wondering what Parker had found. He had inspected it deeply, hoping to find some tracks of Catherine’s past. But much to his regret, there wasn’t anything: no trunk, no desk, no closet. It was completely empty.
This felt weird to him, because usually attics are places to store any kind of objects; but not that one. It was too much empty, even if the house had been put on sale. Maybe the Centre had got there before them? But then why didn’t they keep monitoring the house, in case Jarod showed up?
“Parker, this room is completely empty!” he stated, waving his right arm around.
“Not if you know where to look…” she answered, smiling. Then she moved towards the farther corner and lowered to touch the parquet beams. A second later, she raised one of them and revealed a hidden compartment, containing a metal box.
Jarod approached her, astonished “Come on, you couldn’t get it alone!”
“You’re right, I’ve had a little help from my…inner sense.”


Parker was walking inside the attic when she heard the soft voices guiding he again. She had spent a half an hour rolling in her bed, while she tried to understand where those voices were leading her. Then she had found the stairs that led to the attic and she had entered the room. As if she was in a trance, Jarod’s mother had appeared in front of her, young and frightened.
“I need to hide these!” she was saying, taking an object towards the end of the room. Then Parker had seen her hiding the box under the floor. Margaret then had stood up, crying, she had put the beam to its place, and then she had run out of the room.


“You’re telling me that my mother hid this here?”
Parker nodded.
“What’s inside?” Jarod asked, a bit preoccupied.
“I thought we could open this together…” she answered, realizing that its contents could be very important, to Jarod.
He smiled and then opened the metal box. It wasn’t very big, but its contents were certainly precious. There were a dozen DSAs from the Centre.
Parker and Jarod stared at each other as if they just discovered America. They stood up, the box held in his almost trembling hands.
“These could be…the videos about our lost memories!” she said, excited. “Do you have the equipment to watch them?”
“I never leave it…” he answered, this time with regret.
It was true, his DSA viewer was the most important thing he had stolen from the Centre before disappearing, he couldn’t leave it anywhere and he used it to think about his past sims or to watch moments of his life at the Centre.
They went downstairs and reached the room where Jarod had left his baggage. He took the briefcase and put it on the table, then they turned the computer on.
A DSA was still playing the first kiss Jarod and Miss Parker had shared in the December of ’69. When he saw it, Jarod felt a bit embarrassed and tried to turn it off. But Miss Parker had never watched it before, so she almost moved when she realized the memory she had for that moment was perfect and not at all faded. She kissed Jarod on his cheek, so he felt a bit heartened. Then she took the first DSA from the box and waited for Jarod to put it in the player.
The date was set to 03/15/1974. The video was about the both of them.    


“How’s your studies getting along?” Jarod asked, while he and Miss Parker wandered in his room. It wasn’t filled with all the stuff he would have left at the Centre yet, but it was starting to reflect his personality.
“I don’t wanna talk about it.” she answered, knowing that she would have to leave in a few months “I prefer swimming, lately.”
“You never told me you’re a swimmer!” Jarod said, a bit surprised for the umpteenth revelation that Parker just confided him.  
“My mother was very good at it…So I’ve thought I could follow in her footsteps!”
Jarod then noticed her new wristwatch.
“It’s very beautiful!”
“It was mummy’s…” she explained, taking the watch and showing it to Jarod.
Catherine Parker’s name was printed on it.
Guessing how much that meant to his friend, Jarod gave it back to her.
“A few days ago, I went to the lake with daddy…He was there with me, but he did no more than work…So I took the skip out alone and I went way out into the middle of the lake but…it started taking on water and then it sank.”
“The skip sank?” he shouted out, worried, “How could you save yourself?”
“I swam…I tried to swim to save my life, but the water was so cold, so my legs started cramping and my arms were aching…”
“How did you make it?”
Miss Parker smiled, “The watch…I heard its ticking and I thought about mummy…I thought she used it to time herself and that maybe, if she had still been alive, she would have helped me…It was like my mother’s voice whispering to me…”
Jarod took Miss Parker’s hand and held it.
“Anyway daddy came and rescued me, fortunately…But I’m sure that I would have drowned, if it wasn’t for this watch…It saved my life.”
Jarod looked at her tenderly, stunned by that tale. “I could have lost you…” he whispered to her.
“But I survived.” she answered, smiling.
Jarod tried to approach her, but then Sydney had come inside to call him back to work.
“Let’s go Jarod, your break is over.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Parker…” Jarod said, holding her hand just for another second.
She nodded a bit embarrassed, then she left.  


The DSA was over, but not the emotion felt by them both in watching that video.
“I remembered this one…” Jarod said, thinking that a couple of years ago he had shut Lyle and Parker inside a container to test their will to survive.   
“Well, I didn’t…In fact I’ve asked myself a million times how could you possibly know about my mother’s watch…” she answered.
“You told me.” Jarod whispered.
“Apparently I used to tell you everything…I was such a buttery girl.” she admitted.
“You were sweet, and so you are now.”  
Parker sniffed to make the tears disappear from her eyes, then she radically changed subject, “That container was the worst one, Jarod!”
He burst into laughter, “Even worse than being a hostage in that bank?”
“But you were there with me…That was the first time we’d spent a little time together since you’d escaped.”
“And to think I didn’t plan it…” a mischievous grin appeared on his face.  
Jarod took a new DSA from the box and put it in place of the previous one.
The date was set to 04/13/1970. Another video recorded the day of Catherine’s presumed death.


“Jarod, sweetheart, I must introduce someone to you.”
Catherine’s voice wasn’t as calm as usual. She was holding the hand of a defenseless and frightened boy, who showed few signs of consciousness. Jarod and Miss Parker were looking at him with curiosity. The little girl couldn’t imagine that this would be the last time she saw her mother alive.
“His name is T- … Angelo.” Catherine explained, feigning a smile, but not really able to keep her real feelings under control.
“What happened to him, Mrs. Parker?” Jarod asked, holding his best friend’s hand, seeing that Miss Parker looked frightened and worried by the young stranger’s presence.
“Unfortunately some bad people hurt him, and now he really needs some friends to get better. Angelo is not like other children, he’s…special.”
Jarod looked at Angelo, trying to guess in what exactly he was special. Miss Parker, on the other hand, perceived a huge void when she looked in the boy’s eyes.
“With time, you’ll both learn to know him. Please, keep him close, seeing that I’ve not been able to…”
Catherine couldn’t hold it anymore. She ran away, crying, leaving Angelo, Miss Parker and Jarod on their own.
The girl was shocked; she had never seen her mother so upset.

Angelo was visibly shattered.
“No…more…Timmy.…” they heard him saying.
Jarod and Miss Parker exchanged a very worried look.


When the DSA was over, Jarod sighed. What had happened to Angelo was one of the worst sins he had ever witnessed at the Centre. His angry grew even more when he remembered that he had been so close to provide him a cure, but he had failed, primarily because of Miss Parker.
Unintentionally, he glared at her.
But he didn’t need to blame her more than she did with herself; she was already crying. To see her mother, Angelo…It had just scarred her for life.
Now that she was on the right side of the fight, she could not help but feel a horrible person for helping The Centre.
Her mother had tried to destroy that house of horrors, she had given her life to try and save those children from a terrible destiny.
Feeling that Miss Parker needed his strength, Jarod stopped the DSA and stood up, holding her as if their life depended on it. He held her tight, caressing her head while she sobbed against his chest.
“I’m so sorry…” she said between a tear and the other.
“Shhh…Don’t even say that…It’s not your fault…”
Parker sobbed hard, such was the ardor of her weeping. She decided that, once back at The Centre, she would find Angelo to apologize for the first time.
“Parker…We were manipulated for years. What happened to Angelo is not your fault…Remember? You had made up your mind, you had decided to help him and the boy. It was an accident.”
Parker nodded fast, but she didn’t move her face from Jarod’s warm and comfortable embrace.  
“I don’t blame you, not anymore…In the end, it was Angelo’s choice. Davy is fine, I kept an eye on him; he’s living a nice life, surrounded by his family and friends. And Angelo…well, he is like he used to be, but at least now he knows that inside him, in a deep hidden corner, Timmy still lives.”
Parker finally broke away from the hug and looked at the pretender, her eyes almost swollen with tears.
“This is a burden that will always be with me, Jarod, whatever you say.”
“I understand that.” he continued. “But you made amends. You’re still doing it now. Letting me love you, watching these videos, holding me like you’re doing right now.”
“I cared for Angelo. Why did I have to be so stubborn? I believed my father’s lies, Raines’s, The Centre’s…”
Jarod smiled and caressed her face with his hands, “You were lost, you didn’t know who you really were. Now, you do.”
Parker nodded, this time a bit more convinced, “I need a drink, if we must get through this stuff.”
Jarod smiled. The huntress was back.
“Let’s have a break, some air will do you good, sweetie.”
As soon as he called her that way, he regretted it. But Parker didn’t reproach him, nor she gave any sign of being annoyed by it.
So, Jarod dared more. While she was taking her coat to get out, he called her, “Let’s go, Charlie.”    
Parker glared at him, suddenly in full possession of her mental faculties.
“Now you’re risking your own life.”
Jarod snickered.


The air outside the house was cool and warm at the same time. Parker was walking back and forth, her arms folded and a silent Jarod next to her. He was trying to guess what was going on in her mind, but it wasn’t easy to interpret that bundle of nerves known as Miss Parker.
For Jarod, accepting the truth about The Centre was easy. It was a symbol of enslavement, a horrible place to run from. But for Parker it wasn’t easy at all, it would never be.
Realizing that maybe they have been brainwashed to delete important memories of their past… well, that was the final straw.
Jarod couldn’t stand seeing Miss Parker reduced to a question mark.
They both needed to understand.
“Give me your phone.” he said, with no further explanation.
“Who are you calling, the priest?” she asked, sarcastic as usual, as she handed him her mobile.
“I’ve always had my own personal confessor, down in hell.” Jarod explained.
He waited for Sydney to answer and when he heard his mentor pronouncing his own name to answer the phone, Jarod put it on speaker.
“Sydney, we’ve got something important to ask you.” Jarod said, gravely and seriously. “Both of us.”
Parker cleared her throat, “Hello, Sydney.”
“Parker, it’s a relief to hear your voice…Are you okay?” he asked her, like any father would ask a daughter that he hasn’t seen for a few days and for whom he is worried about.
“No Sydney. I’m not okay. Jarod and I…We’re remembering things. Memories of events and conversations we didn’t even know existed.” she told him, with sorrow.
Sydney seized the opportunity to make some offhand psychoanalysis, “It is understandable, now that you’re together, that your subconscious – ”
“Come on, Sydney!” Jarod interjected him. “This has nothing to do with our childhood traumas, nor with our stolen adolescences. We’re talking about memories extracted from our brain and a box full of DSAs stolen from The Centre by my mother years ago!”
Sydney’s eyes grew wide just when a breathless Broots got inside his office.
“What do you mean?”
“Syd, did they ever make experiments on me to…make me forget things?”
“The only time something like this happened…was when they removed the memory of your conversation with Catherine about Ethan.” Sydney pointed out.
Jarod and Parker looked at each other. Ethan was still missing, somewhere.
He was the first person they needed to find and keep safe, once they left the manor.
“So you assume it’s not possible that they did this for different…memories?” Miss Parker questioned him.
“Not that I know of.”
“Miss Parker!” Broots spoke. “What the hell are you doing with Jarod?! Did I miss something?” he asked, looking at Sydney suspiciously.
“There’s no time for explanations or congratulations, Mr. Broots. But we need you to do us a favor.” Jarod said.
Broots sighed, thinking about all the times that the pretender had helped him. It was because of him that Debbie was entrusted to him and not his ex-wife.
It was because of Jarod if he was still alive.
“Whatever you need.” he agreed.
“Search for any information about The Centre projects focusing on brain manipulation. I think that many answers we’re still looking for could depend on this.”
“And what are you two going to do?” Sydney questioned. “It’s dangerous out there. Miss Parker are you coming back?”
Jarod glanced at his companion who seemed still too upset to talk.
“We’ll try…to remember more.”
Jarod ended the call and gave the mobile back to Parker. She held Jarod tenderly and he stroke her hair.
It felt so reassuring to finally have him by her side.
Everything would be easier, even looking for secrets. No more I help you, if you help me games that they had been playing for years. From that moment on, they would help each other.
“Are you ready to see other videos?”
“No. There are too many terrible things there.” she confessed.
“But there are also beautiful ones. You think that day we spoke about your mother’s watch was terrible?”
“No…” she whispered, “But Angelo…that was…”
Jarod planted a kiss on her forehead, then he took her hand and led her inside the house.
 


Jarod took another chair, to let them both sit in front of the viewer. Holding Parker’s hand, he inserted another DSA inside the computer.
Before playing it, he asked her, “Ready?”
She nodded, trying to smile even if she was terrorized.
The date of the third disk was set to 12/24/1975.


Jarod was in the huge room where they often leave him during breaks from simulations. He sat at a table and he was writing on a piece of paper.
A few seconds after the beginning of the video, a couple of female hands covered Jarod’s face and young Miss Parker, almost fifteen, brought her mouth to Jarod’s ear.
“Guess who?” she asked.
Jarod smiled with happiness. “Miss Parker! I knew you’d come!” he almost yelled, hiding the great excitement he felt in seeing her after so many months.
“You thought I wouldn’t visit you to wish you Merry Christmas?” she asked, sitting next to him.
“How are your studies coming along?”
“Boring” she answered, snorting, “I can’t fit in, yet. They all have a weird accent in London, and everybody’s so serious. Besides, daddy ordered me not to talk about The Centre, so I can’t tell anyone about you.”
Jarod hung on her words, but from the look on his face you couldn’t tell if he was hearing anything of what Miss Parker was saying. He was like into a trance.
“Where’s your father now?” he asked, forcing himself out of his torpor.
The girl shook her head, a bit saddened. “Business trip, as usual. He left me home alone, but I was dying to see you. I came home yesterday for my Christmas holidays, maybe we could spend them together.”
“I’d love to. Sydney’s gone too” Jarod said, “Every Christmas he disappears, and I don’t know where he goes.”
Parker didn’t want to reveal him that maybe his mentor had a family outside The Centre, with whom he probably spent the holidays; she didn’t want to disappoint Jarod.
“I’ve got a present for you, by the way!” she said, taking a little package from her coat.
Jarod couldn’t believe his eyes. So, she thought about him, even if she lived at the other side of the world.
“I’ve got a small gift for you, too.” he answered, handing her the card he’d been writing a few seconds before.
Parker took the paper and read.
It was a poem entitled “To my best friend”.


  You’re far and everything is fading,
  memories endure, but everything’s ending.
  If only I could see your eyes
  at least once again,
  I could lose myself into their deep blue sea.


Jarod blushed a bit while the girl read. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t get a real present for you.”
“Jarod, this is wonderful” she reassured him, her eyes close to crying. She had missed that lovely and naive boy so much.
“Come on, open mine!”

Jarod smiled and unwrapped the package. There was a little twig inside, a plant that he had never seen before.
“What’s this?” he asked, curious. Miss Parker guessed his pretending skills might be at work as he was observing the twig with huge interest.
“It’s called mistletoe, Jarod. It’s a plant used mostly at Christmas; people usually hang it on the ceiling, like this.”
Parker took his hand and leaded him towards the wall, where there was a shelf where she could hang the mistletoe.
“What is it for?” the pretender asked.
Parker came closer to him, “When people meet under the mistletoe…They usually kiss to wish each other Merry Christmas.”
Jarod couldn’t avoid noticing that her voice had just lowered and so had her eyes, that were now looking with discretion at the floor.
Did Miss Parker feel embarrassed?

Jarod, who was higher than her, leaned over Miss Parker and kissed her on the cheek, finding her unprepared.
“Is that right?” he wondered, savoring that new discover immediately.
Miss Parker smiled and stood on her tiptoe, then she dragged him to herself and kissed him again, aiming directly at his lips.
This was their second kiss, but she was older, now. More aware.
She gave him a true kiss, putting her fingers delicately on his face. Jarod, on his hand, responded pleasantly surprised and placed his hands on her hips. When the girl departed from him, she smiled in satisfaction.
Jarod didn’t know what to say.
A few seconds after, his watch stroke midnight.

“Merry Christmas, Jarod.”
“Merry Christmas, Miss Parker.”


The disk faded into black. Miss Parker’s hand was still holding Jarod’s with a considerable pressure, so that he could feel her heart beating fast through her veins.
It was Jarod’s turn to feel upset. He didn’t want her to notice, but he was touched and excited, just like the day they had shared that kiss.
“All these years I’ve believed…that you had left and never looked for me. That you didn’t care anymore – ”
She was stunned, a lump in her throat didn’t allow her to speak.
“I’m going to destroy the people who stole these memories from us. I’ll make them pay, Parker.”



Jarod and Parker went on for hours watching those disks. There were only a bunch of them, but every time they watched a new episode, they needed some time to assimilate it and trying to remember on their own.
Was it a kiss, or a speech; was it a moment of them playing with Angelo, or a fleeting encounter while Parker was studying in London.
All those videos made them realize a basic truth. They had been in love with each other for years, at least until they had finally parted them.
It must have been someone who wanted to separate them not only physically, but also mentally. Someone who knew that the two of them, together, would become a liability for The Centre.
Once Jarod turned seventeen and Parker sixteen, their not-so-secret dates became a real threat and the love they felt for each other had to be deleted just like a file from a computer.
Hypnosis, maybe drugs, or brain inceptions.
Jarod didn’t know, but they had managed to do this, God only knew how.
But they had failed.
Jarod had stolen the Centre DSAs and he hadn’t forgotten that girl who gave him his first kiss.
Just as much as Parker hadn’t forgotten the only friend she’d ever had as a child.
According to Jarod, the job had been accurate and precise, but whoever performed it had damaged only the memories from 1971 onwards.
He couldn’t understand why the previous memories have resisted, yet.
“Maybe it was impossible for them to dismantle all the things we remembered. In the childhood years, the events are imprinted in our memory in a latent state, and that’s why we often think about them when we get older.” Jarod explained to Parker.
“So why did you remember about the watch, while I couldn’t?” she asked him.
“Because I found that watch in one of your mother’s safe deposit boxes, and that must have stimulated my memory to remember that particular event.”
“You mean I should have remembered of our second kiss in front of some mistletoe? Jarod, it’s been so many years, I must have seen some mistletoe, since then.”
“It’s unknown territory for me too, Parker. I’ve never felt so powerless, before.”
There were still two videos in the metallic box.
“Do you feel like watching another one?”
Parker agreed and this time she was the one who put the disk in the viewer.
The date was set to 12/31/1976.
This time, Parker wasn’t surprised: most of those videos happened during Christmas Holidays, the only days of the year that Miss Parker came back from London.  


Jarod was in his room.
He had spent many months wondering about what he would say to Miss Parker when she got back.
Whenever he saw her, he couldn’t find the courage to tell her the truth about his feelings.
Jarod’s door opened and Parker came in in a hurry.

“Hi Jarod! I made it! Daddy is spending New Year’s Eve away, he’ll never know I’m here with you.”
“I’m glad, Miss Parker. The Centre is always empty the last day of the year. It’s few of us and I can’t celebrate with anyone. What do people usually do at New Year’s Eve?” he asked her.
“Well, there are fireworks almost everywhere. And when midnight comes, we usually wish one another happy new year. Some people also make New Year’s resolutions.”
“Resolutions?” he asked, with his usual curiosity.
“It’s like a list of good intentions. For example, I’d love to see you more the next year. What would you wish?”
Jarod tightened his eyes. “I’d love to see my mother and father. Just once.”
“Jarod” she murmured. “They are – ”
“Dead, I know” he interjected her. “But not in my head. I always feel them, even if I can’t remember their faces anymore.”
Parker tried to comfort him “At least you’ve got Sydney. I feel like I don’t even have daddy anymore.”
The sixteen-year-old girl got sad. A few days later she would turn seventeen and she was sure that her father wouldn’t even remember it was her birthday.
“You’ve got me.” Jarod reassured her, holding her hand.
She smiled, blushing a bit; then she looked at her watch. It was 11.59.

“So, Jarod, what do you wish for this New Year?”
Jarod grimaced in embarrassment, “I guess...a kiss, would be the best thing to end the old year and begin the new one.”
Miss Parker looked at him mischievously, “You don’t even need to ask.”
She eagerly dragged Jarod to her and kissed him just as midnight stroke.  
“You know.” she whispered, “There’s an old saying in Europe: what you do at New Year’s Eve, you’ll do it the whole year.”
“It means that you’re staying here, kissing me for the next 365 days?” Jarod asked, forgetting any shame.
“I want to ask daddy…to let me stay.” she said, stroking his hair. “I could find an excuse and get back to Blue Cove. And then I will get you out of here and we will leave, together, like we’ve always wanted.”
Jarod gazed at her with excitement, “You’d do that…for me?”
She nodded gently.
“Why?”
“Because…I’ve been in love with you since the firs time I saw you.”
Jarod kissed her again, and for the first time in his life he felt something different.
How could he define it, desire?
That was not a sim. Those were his real feelings, something he was feeling for a girl, no, a woman. A true woman.
Jarod knew that they were not common people. He knew that by then.
They have been sharing secrets for years and they have grown up too soon.
Now he wanted to prove to himself that adulthood could also be positive, to them.

He took Miss Parker’s hand and led her towards his bed, whispering something to her ear. The girl smiled and nodded, sighing with nervousness.
Jarod smiled too, then he admitted, “But I’ve never…”
Miss Parker neglected any delay and ran towards the door, locking it.
How could she know that they have at least ten cameras on them?

Then she reached Jarod and lay on the bed next to him.
The boy turned off the light. And he became a man.


Parker still had a hand on her mouth when the DSA finished.
Jarod, instead, had his hands on his forehead.
He stood up, feeling the anger pervade him.
He threw the chair to the floor with such strength that he scared Parker.
He was breathing heavily, as a boiler that needed to explode after retaining all the pressure.
He ran towards the kitchen and started to throw everything he could reach. Glasses, cutlery, plates. Parker listened to him complaining and screaming, but she knew she couldn’t do anything to help him. She was feeling as heartbroken as the pretender, and she knew that Jarod just needed to get it off his chest.
When she noticed that the yells have stopped, she reached him in the kitchen. He was leaning on the kitchen counter, keeping his hands on his head to hide it between his arms.
Parker approached him silently and held him from behind, wrapping her arms around his chest.
“All these years…” he finally stated. “All these years…”
“I know.” she agreed. “It hurts.”
Jarod turned around and looked at her. She looked distressed, too.
“You were in love with me. You’ve always cared about me. God, we’ve loved each other for years, how come we don’t remember anything?” he shouted. Parker shook her head. She had no idea.
“Almost twenty years later you came back to The Centre to hunt me. They trained you to hate me, to distrust me, to find me like an animal. It felt like you hadn’t known me at all!” he continued. “They needed to make an even more accurate job with you, rather than me.”
That was what she was thinking, too. She had known this since they had found those damned DSAs.
“We…” Jarod murmured, still thinking about the video.
Parker tried to smile. “I know, isn’t it great?”
Then Jarod chuckled and held her.
He realized how much he needed her, in that moment.
“I propose you a deal. We go upstairs, where I’m going to make love to you until that memory gets back in my mind.”
“To stimulate your memory, clearly.” She replied with irony.
“Then we see the last video, hoping that we didn’t have also a child, back in ’76.” Jarod continued, sarcastically.
Jarod was feeling like he could lay her on that kitchen island not to waste more time to reach the bedroom. He kissed Miss Parker with such passion that he almost bit her lips.
“Come with me, Boy Wonder.” she whispered, leading him towards the bedroom.

End Notes:

If you're reading, I hope to have comments too! Even if you want to insult me! And I'd love to know how does it seem to you and how you feel about it!

Chapter 4: Zoe's Moan And Revelations by missparker87
Author's Notes:

First of all, thanks a lot to Antoinette, my lovely beta reader, she's helping me with the translation... Once again, forgive my lacks with the language! :) I hope I did a good work anyway, and I'd also love to have some opinion from you. This chapter was very fun to write because I do hate the character appearing in the lines you're going to read. So if there's any Zoe fan...Time to go away! :P

CATHERINE PARKER’S MANOR

10.19 p.m.

Even if the memory of their first time at The Centre hadn’t returned immediately after watching the video, Jarod got what he wanted in the end. After a few hours spent together in the bedroom, he was awake, watching Miss Parker sleeping relaxed and satisfied. While he stroked her soft and warm shoulders, he finally remembered everything. Even that night of many years before he had done the very same gesture. He had caressed her without closing his eyes because of the great excitement he had experienced in making love to her.  
Now, instead, he wondered who might have watched those DSAs. They might have been in everyone’s hands, from security technicians assigned to his bedroom to Mr. Raines and Mr. Parker. The only one he could bet on was Sydney, he could have never lied about such an important thing, unless they had brainwashed him too.
Parker opened her eyes, smiling for her companion’s delicate and kind touch.
“Did you remember?” she asked.

“Every detail. Now everything’s back in its right place.”
Parker turned to see him, “It’s more difficult to me. Some moments are deeper than others, anyway.”
Jarod was dying to reveal something to her, but he didn’t know if that was the right moment and place. He feared he could make her jealous. But she was feeling his inner uneasiness.
“Whatever it is, you can tell me.”
He nodded, but he kept his face lowered for the shame.
“You remember the woman I met in Oregon, Nia Pedron?” he whispered, fearing the worst.
She flared up when she listened to the name of another woman, especially that woman.
“I was sure that…well…that I had my first time with her.” he explained, getting that off his chest.
Parker nervously ran a hand on her eyes.  
“Jarod, you don’t owe me any explanation.” she tried to stopped him. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear about this.
“No, I must say this, Parker…I’m sorry I forgot…”
Miss Parker couldn’t believe her ears. Was he really apologizing because he didn’t remember something that had been stolen by him?
“Jarod…What should I say!?”
“What do you mean?”
“Come on, I’m far from being Mother Theresa! We can’t keep hanging on the past, or we’ll get crazy! We both slept with other people, that’s not a secret. But what matters is that now we are here, together. God, you were the one who sent me Tommy, can you realize that?” she asked, a bit upset.
Jarod slowly nodded. “And today I feel ashamed because if I could go back…I wouldn’t.”
Parker slightly winced, “Jarod…You would do it, because back then you couldn’t imagine what we had shared before. The good thing is that we’ve always kept this bond between us, which sometimes took us far from each other, sometimes closer, as if we were connected by an invisible rubber band.”
“You think that if they hadn’t done this to us…You would have really helped me leave The Centre when I was eighteen? You’d have kept your promise to return to Blue Cove…because you loved me?”
“I have no doubt.” She replied with resolution. “Young Miss Parker was a bloody impudent girl. She knew what she wanted and she loved you very much, maybe even more than the Miss Parker you’ve got here now.”
He didn’t seem so convinced.
“Jarod, don’t you see we were unconditionally in love with each other? Think about the watch, the friendship with Angelo, think about the blue rose! You filled me with gifts, and once you grew older you started doing just the same. Sometimes with a pinch of sarcasm, like the time you left me that slide with the flu…”
Jarod smiled at the memory of that prank.
“But other times you were sweet and delicate, like when you sent me the chocolate candy and asked me to be your Valentine. I’ll tell you a secret. I sweated blood not to ask you to run to my house, that night.”  


“They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Do you believe that's true?”
Jarod called Miss Parker, as he often did when it was late at night. He liked to hear her voice before going to sleep, he felt less homesick and less afraid of the future.
“If you're lonely, call a 900 number!” she answered, sarcastic as usual. Jarod hated her manners, but most of the times he ignored her jokes and tried to make her think.
“Did you read my book?”
“I skimmed through it. You paint a pretty sad picture.”
“I just write the way I see it. How did we end up like this?” he asked her, in a whisper.
“Like what?” she answered, guessing what Boy Genius wanted to discuss.
“Alone, searching. It's ironic, because we both want the same things. Someone to care about, someone to care about us.”
Parker was literally melting at Jarod’s words, but she couldn’t and didn’t want to show it. Her relationship with her prey had to be aseptic and impersonal.
“Do you think we'll ever find that kind of love in our lives?” he naively asked her, hoping to receive a sincere answer, for once.
Parker hesitated a second, breathing fast, but with her heart pounding. Her deep inner self wanted to answer that they could look for that answer together, but obviously her reason got the upper hand.  
“What the hell do you want from me Jarod?” she finally answered, pretending to be annoyed.
Jarod shook his face, finding himself facing the wall that woman had raised against him.
“Open the box!” he concluded, with anger.
Then Miss Parker found the “Be my Valentine” candy inside the little container. That was a weird request, but also so clear. Did Jarod still feel something for her?
She didn’t want to think about that. She took the candy and ate it, wondering where he was in that moment.


Jarod laughed and kissed her.
“The point is, forget the past, Jarod. Let’s use the beautiful memories we had the chance to discover as a new beginning. Not everyone is given a second chance.”
Jarod nodded and got quiet for a while, lying down with his head on the pillow, staring at the ceiling.
Parker was burning with curiosity. Since Jarod had mentioned her, she had wanted to ask him what happened between them.
“Jarod…What about Zoe?” she questioned him, leaning on her elbow to hold her head.
Jarod just stared at her, he didn’t flinch. He didn’t feel at ease talking about that with Miss Parker. So he snorted.  
“Come on, you can tell me. I talked to you about Tommy.”
Maybe she was right. He had to tell her the truth. He raised himself to better look at her.
“Zoe was kidnapped by The Centre, you know” he started to tell, noticing that she was nodding. “By Cox and Lyle. They used her to lure me. I’ve been able to set her free just thanks to my dad, because I was too much involved in Ethan’s research.”    
Parker thought about those moments, but she didn’t want to interrupt.
“A few days later, I went looking for Zoe to set matters straight. I was determined to tell her everything about The Centre, the truth about my family, about you. You know, I…felt for her.”
Those words hurt her, but she didn’t show, she didn’t have the right.
“We met a few days before my departure for Carthis. I explained to her what I had found out about our mothers, and I asked her to be patient, because I had to leave for Scotland. I didn’t realize that I was talking about you, too…”


Zoe was sitting on the couch with Jarod and she was listening to him telling all the details about his anomalous relationship with Miss Parker.
“She’s always been my friend, when we were kids. She’s the only connection I have with that place, aside Sydney.”
“A bond…To the person who’s been hunting you for five years?” Zoe asked, a bit perplexed.
Jarod sighed. How could he make her understand the deep affection that tied him to Miss Parker?
Zoe had realized that Jarod’s emotions weren’t the ones a man feels for his playfellow. She felt very jealous, at that moment.
“I help her to discover what happened to her mother. I give her clues to find the truth, to open her eyes about The Centre, but I don’t always succeed…I often call her to talk, to tell her about me, about her, or about our past.”
Zoe licked her lips, feeling the tension growing. So, Jarod often called Miss Parker, but he never found the time to call her?
“Jarod…it seems to me that you overestimate the importance of this woman to you. She always treated you like a fugitive, someone to chase and capture…Her brother kidnapped me, and…”
“She has nothing to do with Lyle!” he shouted, feeling that he had to stand up for Miss Parker. And who knew why. Zoe shut up immediately.    
“Whatever I find out on that island, I’ll have to share…to…”
“Help her, I got it!” she concluded. She stood up and put her hands on her hips. Jarod looked at her without understanding her behavior.
“Jarod…Do you realize you’ve been talking about this woman for half-an-hour, by now?”
“I’m sorry, I thought you wanted to know everything about…”
“You” she stopped him. “About your life, about who you really are. Not about the woman you had a huge crush for when you were a kid!”
Jarod felt something flaring up, inside. Even if he had to admit he felt something for Miss Parker for almost his whole life, Zoe wasn’t allowed to belittle it that way. How could she dare define it a “crush”?
Guessing that she had to change the argument, Zoe turned the conversation, “I want to be with you, Jarod. I want to go with you on that island…”
“No way!” he replied. “It’s too dangerous, and that’s none of your business.”
As soon as he said those words, he regretted them. He knew Zoe was hurt, but he still had a weight on his chest and he wanted to take revenge because she had defined him a teenager with-the-easy-crush.
“I’m sorry, Zoe. But The Centre might be there. I don’t want them to find you with me, they could use you against me. And I care for you too much to see that happening.”
She nodded, a bit cheered up, but also sad because of his lack of trust. She held him and stroked his hair.
“I love you, Jarod.” she confessed him. He didn’t answer, his thoughts fixed on a twelve-year-old girl with brown hair…


“When I left for Carthis, I didn’t regret leaving her at home…You were on that island, and at least I didn’t run the risk to have her kidnapped by The Centre again. Then something changed.”
“What?” she asked, sensing that her moment was coming, but anxious to hear him saying that.
Jarod approached her until they were practically nose to nose, but without touching her. “You almost kissed me.” he whispered.
Parker smiled, and that was one of the first times in her adult life that she flushed as an eleven-year-old girl.
“Once I was back in the States, I started to realize what I was feeling for you. I’d been trying to deny it so many times, mostly because you insisted in not wanting to give us a chance. But after the island, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. You pushed me away…” he stopped, thinking about that conversation inside the car, when Parker had withdrawn her hand from Jarod’s. “And yet, you got on that plane, and by doing so…you saved my life.”
“I needed answers.” she tried to say.
“That’s not all. I persuaded you to make sense of those days, I succeeded in make you realize that the ending of the story was up to you. When you appeared in the aircraft hold, my heart just jumped. I didn’t say anything, we were surrounded by my nemesis, but…in that moment I understood you cared for me too.”
Parker nodded, smiling. That was true: if she had boarded that plane it hadn’t been just to find out who her father really was…She had done it because of Jarod, too.
She stroked his face, almost to thank him for those beautiful words.
“And Zoe?” Miss Parker asked, realizing that she felt almost sorry for her.
“Even if my real feelings had come to the surface, I tried to ignore them for a while. That’s why you haven’t heard from me for months, I needed to take a break from The Centre, from Sydney, from you. I couldn’t accept being in love with the only woman who was forbidden to me, the only one I couldn’t have. So, I decided to try and hang around with Zoe, at least to clear my head.”


She greeted him warmly, kissing him and saying how happy she was that Jarod had seen his mother again, even if for a few seconds.
Jarod told her everything, trying to leave out a little detail; Parker’s presence on the island.
“Jarod, who was there with you? “We” went at Ocee’s, “we” found the ruins of the crypt keeper’s cottage, “we” found the Scrolls. But who’s “we”? Did your father come with you?”   
“I haven’t seen him in a few days…And I don’t believe you really wanna know the answer.” he confessed. But after all, he had to be honest with Zoe, if he wanted it to work.
Zoe quickly realized. “Miss Parker…”
Jarod nodded.
“Zoe, nothing happened!” he lied, to her and to himself. He knew perfectly well that an almost-kiss with Parker meant much more than any other relationship he had ever had with any other woman.
“Of course, a night alone on a desert island and nothing happened!”
“Zoe!” he screamed, upset by the fact she would question his loyalty. But was he really upset? If they hadn’t been interrupted by Ocee, in that special moment…What would have happened?
“Jarod…Can you realize…that you’re in love with this woman?”
Jarod shut up and tried to silence the thing he felt on his whenever someone mentioned Miss Parker. Like when Broots had believed het to be responsible for framing him at the Data Annex and he had stood up for her. Like when, at the bank, he had ordered the thief to let her go. Like when, on the island, they had almost kissed…
“Jarod, I love you…But I can’t share you with another woman, so I need to know. Do you love her?”
Jarod was moving his eyes fast, while dozens of memories filled up his brain. Those of when they were kids at The Centre, but also the ones as adults. Their phone calls. The tense silences full of emotions. The sarcastic jokes that brightened his days. The way Parker got mad when he hid the truth from her and offered it with his one of his games. Those moments when they found themselves forced to be together somewhere. His surprise visits to help her find the truth about Thomas…He couldn’t pretend anymore. That was the only truth.
“I’ve always loved her.” he answered, more himself than Zoe.
She gave an impatient sigh. She was crying.
“Zoe…” he whispered.
“No, Jarod…I don’t want to hear anymore. I can’t be number two, I deserve more!”
He hugged her. “You deserve much more…You deserve a man who loves you for the great strength you communicate.”
“But I wanted you to be that man!” she whined.  
Jarod dried her tears, “I’m sorry Zoe…But I can’t lie to myself anymore: I love Miss Parker.”
That revelation caught him off guard, but he couldn’t help but smile at the idea.  
“How could you love the woman who has been chasing you all this time?” Zoe asked, disappointed.
Jarod grimaced, “She would have never caught me if I hadn’t left her souvenirs everywhere.”
Zoe flared up at the idea. Therefore, Jarod wanted her to follow him on purpose, so that she could find him!
“I love you Zoe, you can always count on me, whatever happens. And promise me you’ll take care of yourself and of your condition.” he asked her, thinking about her cancer.
She nodded, still crying. Then she took her bag and went towards the door.
“What will you do when you tell her you love her…And she’ll take you back to The Centre as an answer?” she asked him, angry.
Jarod contemplated the idea. He wasn’t sure he could make Miss Parker surrender and admit her feelings. And yet, he had to try.
“I’ll go back to run, and she’ll go back to chase” he answered her, winking.


Even if Miss Parker felt like she had just won the lottery, she didn’t want Jarod to think badly of her. After all, Zoe never did anything to her, she just got Jarod’s attention during a moment of their lives when the two of them hadn’t seen each other much. She hade made him happy, for a while. But she could never break the bond between them.
“You miss her?” Parker asked, playing the victim of the situation.
Jarod cunningly looked at her, realizing that she wanted to draw him in a trap to see how he would come out of it.
“I’ll always love her” he answered. “But as a friend. Anyway, I doubt she’ll look for me, she’s too much stubborn to do so.”
“And will you? Maybe one day you’re going to get tired of me and you’ll wish to go back and live all the fun you had with her…”
Jarod got closer, “Never heard a more foolish nonsense. Getting tired of you? If I could, I’d live every second I have losing myself inside your eyes.”
Parker kissed him, “You’re too sweet to me.”
“Just because I love you too damn much. And because you’re wonderful. And lethal!”
“Mmm…the last word is the one I prefer.” she answered, kissing and holding him.
He held her for a while, happy because that embarrassing confession moment was over. Then he came back to their present and what they had to do.
“You realize that The Centre must have had a very good reason to divide us and do that to us?”
She nodded sadly.
“And you realize…that if we were able to be together so much in those years it was just because those videos were used to study my reactions…and maybe even yours?”
“We were two perfect Lab-Rats: the Pretender and the girl with inner sense.” she whispered.
Jarod suddenly was reminded of something.
“Alex told me!” he screamed.
“What?” she asked.


“Jarod, you turned a routine Triumvirate assignment into something wonderfully personal to me…”
Alex was talking through the bars separating him from Jarod, who was hurt and tired for his chasing.
“Luring you was simple. It's that flaw in your character that made it so easy. Always risking your life for somebody who's not important to you world.”
Then Jarod got mad and stood up, charging the iron gate, “The Ambassador is important to the world!” he shouted.
But Alex seemed amused, “Not the world. Your world. The Swedish Ambassador? She's nothing to your world.”
Jarod was laying his head on the wall, shattered and unable to respond, when Alex professed the one truth he considered the most important.
“But Miss Parker is.”
Jarod looked up at him, his eyes might have incinerate Alex with a glance. How could he possibly know about her? Did he have any plans, for her?
“In fact, you have no idea how important to your life she really is…”
Jarod glared at him, more and more worried, wide-eyed for the anger.
“And after today, you'll never know.”
Alex ran away, while Jarod stood up and charged the iron gate calling his name to make him come back.


“So this is why you came to save me?” she asked, shocked by his story.
“Yes. He drove me mad, I couldn’t control myself anymore. When I realized he wanted to use you to hurt me, I couldn’t help but run to find you!”
“Oh, Jarod.” she whispered, realizing how sweet and in love he already was, while she was stupid and arrogant. She thought he deserved a respectable kiss, right then.
“Anyway” he continued, getting away from her and clearing his throat, trying not to fall into the temptation of jumping  her again, “Uhm…Alex knew a lot. He was the one who told me The Centre didn’t want me back just because I’m a pretender. He revealed me how much important you were to me. Maybe that was the moment I really understood.”
“Understood what?”
“That I’d never stopped loving you…even if a few days before you had pointed a knife on me!”
Thinking about the threats to convince him to help her find the lost memory about the conversation he had with Catherine, Parker giggled and put a hand on her forehead.
“Another thing to add to the forgive-me-for-list.” she mumbled.
“You will not believe this, maybe…” he replied, “But I found your attitude incredibly sexy.”


“You look surprised to be here.”
“Well, I'm surprised I'm still alive…”
“Dead men tell no tales.”
Parker had brought Jarod to a safe place, ready to interrogate him about the DSA they had recovered that recorded the meeting he had with Catherine years before.
“I'm assuming, since we're here, this has nothing to do with Centre business…”
“No…”
Then Miss Parker took off a knife and menacingly approached Jarod, pointing the blade to his jaw.
“It's about me. I need your help.”
The blade went down to the prisoner’s chest, securely tied with a rope. The knife movement was slow and almost endearing.
“Tell me what I need to know…and you're outta here…”
“And I should believe you're going to let me just walk away, hmm?” Jarod asked, intensely looking at her. Sydney was watching the scene in silence, not daring to interrupt.
Then Parker cut the rope tying Jarod, willing to gain a bit of his trust.


“A woman with a blade has her charm.” Miss Parker explained.
“Not any woman…My Ice Queen. And yet I have a feeling that if Sydney hadn’t been there with you…you would have jumped on me at any time.”
Parker wanted to dissent, but honestly she couldn’t. Having Jarod tied up, defenseless, in front of her, it had awakened her animal instinct, that day. Perhaps it was also the memories starting to resurface, but she had shut them up when she had cut the rope tying Jarod.
“You looked at me as if you wanted to eat me with your very eyes.” he continued, making fun of her.
“I wasn’t that crazy about you as I am now!”
“No, you weren’t, but there has always been a great tension between us, I felt it under my skin every time we crossed paths, like when we were in that bank, or in Bahia Grande. And you felt it too, you can’t deny it.”
“Jarod…” she started, smiling, “In that bank you were always hanging on my coat-tails.”
“Well…You had such a good perfume, that day. The same you have now.” he explained, smelling her scent almost intoxicating.


“I know it's not easy reading those letters…” Jarod said, while taking care of Fenigor.
“Look, I broke into your father's house, trying to find something about my past, but instead, I found out about yours…”
Miss Parker was still exhausted by reading those letters she had never received before.
“Your mother deserved a better fate than what she got.”
“You're damn right she did.” she interrupted him.
“She used to send me letters on my birthday, holidays. I never knew about these.”
Jarod looked at her, no, he was contemplating her. When that woman was sad, it was a torture for him to look at her. But she was also damned beautiful every time she was touched by Catherine’s memory.
“My father paid me a visit this morning, talking about how you taint the memory of my mother with lies.”
“And you believed him?”


“I hadn’t believed him for a long time, Jarod. But it wasn’t easy to admit it. You were always the only one who helped me find the truth about my past. If I have a bit of peace, I owe it to you.”
He sighed. He’d hoped for years to hear her pronouncing those very words, it was like a liberation for him, the man who had tried to open her eyes in any possible way.  
“Why do you think Fenigor lied to us?”
“You mean about your mother’s murder?” Jarod asked, thinking about the man’s last words, accusing his father of shooting Catherine.
Parker nodded, sadly. After a long talk with Major Charles, she had understood what kind of man he really was. He was exactly like his son; loyal, trustful and honest. He could have never touched a hair to the very one person who was trying to help him rescue Jarod.
“I guess we’ll never know. Who knows what he was thinking, when he told us my father killed your mother…Without counting that Catherine didn’t actually died in that elevator, as we found out later.”
“My mother’s execution by Raines is an indelible memory printed in my mind, one of those I’d love to erase.” she replied.
“And yet…Sometimes I think about what Ocee told us on the island.”
“What?”


“Your mother came to me for herbs.” the old woman explained to Jarod and Miss Parker, referring to Margaret. “Complaining of headaches. But it was easy, even for a blind woman…to see that it was heart that was aching. And that she feared for her life…”
“Ocee, what was my mother searching for?” Jarod asked, worried.
“To find out who you are.”
“What do you mean, who I am?” he answered, not knowing about the Scrolls yet.
“All I know is what she spoke. She and another woman had been trying to discover the truth for a long time. That must have been your mother.” Ocee continued, addressing to Miss Parker.
She couldn’t keep a giggle, “You sure you're blind?”
“Sight may come from one's eyes but the vision comes from one's heart.”


“She was right, you know?” she said. “Since I’ve been learning how to use my inner sense…I’ve been realizing that even more.”
“Ocee spoke with my mother for a long time on the island. Maybe she isn’t alone out there…Maybe…
“My mother’s still alive…” she continued in a whisper.
She hadn’t dared to get to that subject, hoping that Jarod would. But since they went on the Island of Carthis, she had been reminding herself that, in spite of the video of Catherine’s murder after Ethan’s birth, they had never found her body. And most of all she had trusted Raines to run from her father, that filthy worm. May it all have been a plan, may Catherine still be out there, perhaps with Margaret? The voices didn’t talk much, she hadn’t learned to distinguish them yet. But her inner sense showed her the way and she couldn’t ignore it. They had to watch the last DSA.
Miss Parker stood up and got dressed, leaving Jarod dismayed.
“I thought you wanted to wait ‘till morning.”
“I feel the key to all could be in that last DSA, Jarod. We have to watch it now.”
This time he was the one to be reluctant. He didn’t want to find a new wonderful memory lived with Parker that he had forgotten. When she finished putting on her jeans and shirt, she gave him her hand, “Come with me. This time, I’m going to protect you.”
Jarod nodded.


The last DSA was inserted in the viewer by Parker’s trembling hands. As soon as it started, they both realized it was different from the others. It wasn’t The Centre, but the house in the woods where Catherine had given birth to Ethan. The video didn’t have a precise date, so Jarod and Miss Parker couldn’t understand what year it was, at the beginning.
The video was framing an empty couch, suddenly occupied by nothing less than their mothers, Catherine and Margaret.
“My God!” Parker screamed.
“Together!” he echoed her.

“Children” Catherine’s voice said, she took the hand of her friend, who couldn’t help but crying. “If everything went as I’m foreseeing, now you two, our greatest treasures…are together watching this video. You couldn’t have found it, unless you were together.”
Catherine was smiling. There was no doubt: the video had been shot after 1970. She was thinner than when she had delivered their brother, and she seemed emaciated. Margaret, instead, seemed to have suddenly aged, compared to the beautiful picture Jarod had of hers.
“We don’t have much time. We can’t tell you everything now, but it’s the moment for you to know some important things, which will guide you for the future waiting for you.”
Margaret sobbed and held Catherine’s hand.
“Jarod, my boy, I know it won’t be easy for you to understand this, but you must believe me; if we disappeared, we’ve done it for your own good.”
Parker sent her partner a soft look.
“Our common friend at The Centre stole these DSAs before they could end up in the wrong hands and disappear. They’re the last evidence of the great love that always bonded you, since you were kids. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to delete your memories, and we can’t do anything to avoid it, destiny has already been fulfilled.”
“But who did it, Catherine?” Jarod asked, as if the woman could hear him.
“Your connection is too stron…” Catherine went on. “They want to separate you from one another and make you enemies. They’ll send Charlotte far away. They’ll train you to be a hunter. While you, Jarod…you’ll be forced to go on with your simulations for so many years.”
“Oh, my boy.” Margaret whispered. Jarod touched the video tenderly, as if he could feel her mother’s skin.
“When you find this video, I hope you already know about the Scrolls.” Catherine spoke again. This time it was Jarod who stared at Miss Parker, his heart beating wildly.
“They hold the truth about your future, Jarod. But I foresee that you won’t be able to read them soon, because my husband will get in the way between you and truth, as always. I’m sorry darling, but I’ve always had to lie to you about my relationship with your father, because I couldn’t make him discover my big plan.”
“But what plan, Mama?”
“The two of you on your own could never destroy The Centre. But now that you’re together, the time has come. You must continue the project that Margaret and I have started. The Scrolls may reveal your future, but you will have to decide how to make it come true. The Centre destroyed so many lives and it is still so powerful. You’ll have to demolish it piece by piece, by unearthing its trades and discovering all the corrupted people who ruined our lives, starting with your father, honey.”
Miss Parker was crying.
Then Margaret intervened. “I hope you find your brother and sister, Jarod…Catherine and I have moved in shadows for years not to let them discover us. If they found us, they’d kill us. The only way to survive was to fake Catherine’s death and run. But the love I have for your father and my kids, it gives me the strength to go on and fight. Catherine is sure we’ll see each other again.”
The woman smiled, leading Miss Parker to wonder how could she be so strong, after all she had been through.
“You must find your brother, Ethan. I’m sure you’ll do everything possible to help him and with him you’ll be able to find us. We’ll be a family again. And there’s one final thing you should know.”
Margaret squinted, ready for the worst revelation.
“A terrible secret is hidden at The Centre. Something my inner sense cannot foresee yet. It’s like if something born from the two of you lies in the most hidden depth of The Centre.”
Again, Parker and Jarod looked at each other in worry.
“Years will go by, Margaret and I will disappear. Maybe we won’t meet for a very long time.” Catherine said, getting to the conclusion. “But when it happens, it will be to put an end to The Centre, I promise. Until then…Take care of each other, as you’ve always done. Jarod, remember the promise you made me.”
He sighed, thinking about how much he’d always taken care of Miss Parker.
“Darling, be strong and trust your inner sense. It’ll help you finding Ethan. It’ll help you to survive.”
“We have to go.” Margaret said to her, between a sob and the other “We love you very much.”
After that, the women stood up and the camera turned off.


Miss Parker didn’t know what to say. That revelation was far too much. Although her mother didn’t say anything concrete, she had confirmed the suspects of the last few days. Stolen memories, lies, the bond with Jarod. And maybe she was still alive! Now they knew that everything was happening for a reason.
“You saw them?” Jarod asked, happy as a child.   
Parker smiled when she saw him so sweet and vulnerable, “Yeah…Jarod, they’re out there, and they’re waiting for us. We must carry out their work, we’re the only ones who can.”
“How?” he asked. After so many fights, this one seemed impossible to face.
“I’m going back to The Centre.”
Jarod stood up and started to walk fast, back and forth. “No way. You’re coming with me, and we’re taking Sydney and Broots, too!”
Parker giggled. “And how can we find the truth, Jarod?” She stood up too and reached him, but Jarod was avoiding her gaze.
“Listen, Boy Wonder” he couldn’t help but notice her coming back to nicknames. “If Broots, Syd and I are inside, we can do some serious damage. Now that we’re finally on the same side, we won’t investigate separately. It won’t be you-send-me-a-clue to make me discover something, it’s you and me, together, investigating to end this thing!”
“But you’re taking a risk. If they find out we’re cooperating, they will kill you.”
“You once told me that sometimes, the risks we take are worth it.”
“Your father isn’t there to protect you anymore. However I’ve detested him, while he was there I knew that nobody would dare to touch you. Now there are only Lyle…and Raines.” he said, almost growling the last name.
“Well, a brother’s always protective of his twin sister, isn't he?”
“Parker…” he replied, not feeling like joking in that moment.
“Jarod, I can take care of myself. We need to investigate on several fronts. We’re going to try and discover the truth about the Scrolls. We need to monitor the Triumvirate’s movements, I’ll find out if my father – if we want to call him so – is dead or alive, and I’ll find those damned Scrolls.”
“And what should I do, staying out there, pretending to be someone I’m not as if nothing has changed? I haven’t got the strength nor the will to be so selfless. It’s the moment to think about myself, and about us.”
“You’re absolutely right. In fact, I don’t intend to let you run again. I don’t want you to disappear without me following you, Jarod.” she replied, while smiling.
“Meaning?”
“Well, apparently, nothing will have to change. You run, I chase.”
Jarod raised an eyebrow and started to understand what she was talking about. But could that work?
“So let me get this…” he said, getting a few steps far from her, “I’m running as if nothing had changed…leaving clues for you and Sydney all around the States…”
“And the three of us chase you, exactly.”
Jarod came back near her and held her. “With the small difference that now, if you find me, you don’t take me back to The Centre.”
Parker smiled. “You really are a Genius, Jarod. But there’s a fact. I can’t vouch for my brother’s good will, he’s not sleeping with you.”
Jarod laughed. Yes, this might work. If Parker and Sydney helped him from the  inside, with a bit of Broots’s computer skills…
“It might work…”
“It must work. And you can look for Ethan in the meantime…I miss him, I need him.”
“Me too. He’s important to us both, your mother had foreseen that, when she was pregnant…but…”
“But?”
“I also need you. I can’t just run as I’ve always done now that we’ve finally found each other.”
“But you won’t have to run from me, Jarod, just from The Centre. And my door is always open for you. It’s going to be so cool to find you in my house when I’m coming back from a very intense day spent chasing you!”
Jarod imagined for a while Lyle discovering him and Parker hidden inside her house, maybe after his sister had been traveling the States in the hope of finding him.
“I’ll always bring you flowers.” he whispered, kissing her.
“Only if they’re blue roses.” she replied, answering the kiss.
Jarod was feeling his heart breaking, now, because he knew that the moment of goodbyes had come.
He stroked her face and stared at her, trying to fix an indelible image of that moment in his memory. He leaned his forehead against hers again, he just stayed right there for a few seconds, in silence.
“I don’t want to leave you.” he managed to whisper.
“You have to, sweetheart.”
Jarod moved his head and looked at her, smiling. Did she really call him that?
“Be careful.”
Parker smiled, “You’ll be on the run again, hunted by my brother and Raines…And you come and ask me to be careful?”
Jarod grimaced and moved away, not before giving her a pat on her butt, almost to punish her for the joke. He took the stolen DSAs and put them in the box, then he closed the computer inside its suitcase and took it, ready to go. He reached the door and opened it.
“Uh, Jarod!” she stopped him.
He turned around, standing in the doorway. Parker reached him and put a hand on his chest, intensely looking at him in the eyes.
“I had no doubt your pretending skills were so good under the sheets.”
He burst into laugh and kissed her, then he blended into the night. As he had suddenly appeared in her life two days before, now he had disappeared again.

End Notes:

If you're reading, I hope to have comments too! Even if you want to insult me! And I'd love to know how does it seem to you and how you feel about it! Many things are still going to happen!

Chapter 5: You know I hate surprises by missparker87
Author's Notes:

New chapter in record time! This one hasn't got particular developments of the story, but it introduces Jarod's family and some funny phone conversations, as in good old times. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to Antoinette for the usual help in the translation, Luv ya!

CATHERINE PARKER’S MANOR

The day after - 8.17 a.m.

After Jarod’s departure, Sydney had called Miss Parker and they had decided that he would leave with Broots go and get her, as soon as the technician was sure that Debbie was with her baby-sitter.

After the call, she hadn’t been able to sleep. She was trying not to think about the videos, she had focused on nice thoughts about Jarod and the future. 

This was the first time she was finding herself alone after New Haven, and she kept wondering what would become of her, of them. She couldn’t believe she already missed the pretender so much.

A few minutes after eight, her phone rang. Thinking it was Sydney asking for directions, she took her mobile and answered with her usual, “What?”

“For once in my life it would be nice to hear you answering in a different way, Miss Parker.”

She smiled to herself. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one missing him, he was feeling the same, too. Knowing that Jarod was screening his phone calls, she felt safe to talk freely.

“Are you trying to change me?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t dare. I love you for who you are, your grumpy side is the one I prefer.” Jarod confirmed, getting a giggle in response.

It was so good to hear her laugh sincerely.

“I’ve never thought I would ever say this, but…I miss you.”

Jarod remained silent, trying to weigh the importance of that sentence. It must have been hard to admit it, for her.

“Miss you too, Parker. But remember you said it first!”

She chuckled, “Ok, Boy Wonder. Where are you going?” she asked him, knowing that he was driving.

“I must see my family. Catch up on some things…then I’m going to search for Ethan.”

Parker nodded, realizing that Jarod needed to spend some time with his sister and father.

“Sydney and Broots are on their way. They need to know, too.”

“They’re the only ones I trust, except you. But be careful, Parker, don’t show your hand. Prepare a valid excuse for your absence.”

“Oh, haven’t I told you? I’ve already figured that out. I’m going to tell Lyle that you abducted me against my will and that you abused me twenty-three times!”

“I thought it was twenty-two!” he corrected her, amused by her speech.

“You forget the quickie on the bathroom’s floor?”

Jarod smiled, how could he forget?

“Did I mention that I love you, already?” he asked her.

“You’ll get tired of saying that.”

“I don’t think so, Parker. I’ll be in touch.” he ended the call.

Miss Parker put the mobile in her pocket and a few seconds later she heard noises coming from outside. She peeked through the windows in time to see a black sedan parking in front of the house.

Sydney and Broots got out of the vehicle and moved towards the door. They didn’t wait for Parker to open, betraying their impatience to see their colleague to know if she was fine.

“Miss Parker?” Sydney called.

As soon as they got inside, they saw her sitting on the couch.

She took the men by surprise when she got up and ran towards the man who had been like a father to her, holding him with a few tears in her eyes.

Sydney wasn’t prepared for such display of affection, he was gladly surprised when he felt Parker’s arms wrapping his neck.

He held her and stroked her hair, conveying all the feelings he could in that embrace. Pent-up emotions that have lasted for thirty years.

An astonished Broots looked at the scene stunned and worried. What could have happened in those few days that Miss Parker had spent with Jarod?

“Are you all right, Miss Parker?” he asked with trembling voice.

She sniffed, “Yes. Thank you both for coming, I really need you in this moment.”

“Sorry if I ask, but…” Broots intervened, flinching when he realized that she was taking his hand and squeezing it, “- are you on drugs, by any chance?”

She smiled for that remark and shook her head. “I’ve just opened my eyes, Broots.”

She turned her gaze to Sydney, “For good.” She stated with a solemn tone.

The psychiatrist nodded, eager to listen to her tale.


Sydney was shocked by Parker’s story. Not only because of the memories the Centre had erased from her and Jarod’s minds, but also at the realization that his old friend Catherine was still alive, hiding from The Centre.

“This feels like a nightmare.” Broots said, when Parker finished talking. It had taken her an hour to explain all the things she had found out.

“Where are the DSAs?” Sydney asked.

“Jarod took them. He’s keeping them in a safe place. You should have been here with us, Sydney. I think he could really use a conversation with you…about what happened.”

Sydney smiled. “He already called, Miss Parker.”

That was the moment she realized that Sydney knew about them.

He knew that they love each other and that they were now in a…could she call it a relationship?

Sydney’s amused smile betrayed his curiosity. He wanted to know what was going on inside the mind of his so-considered-daughter. He sensed that she was happy for the first time after so many years. Jarod had finally managed to destroy her defenses.

Broots, on the other hand, began to figure something out when he a few glasses on the table in front of the fireplace, some of them still containing some unfinished wine.

Miss Parker wasn’t ready to reveal everything to her friends, but she knew that she had to say something. The time of secrets and lies was over, she didn’t have to be the Ice Queen anymore. She had changed.

“Jarod…He contacted me a few days ago. He wanted to meet.”

“And you went alone, without taking a Sweeper team with you?” Broots asked, more and more convinced that his colleague was under some hallucinogen influence.

“Everything started on Carthis. Jarod and I talked a lot while we were down there and…something changed.” she gave them the short version, willing to avoid more intimate details.

“As soon as we got back,” she went on, “I knew I had to face the situation to make him understand that our temporary truce had been just a moment of weakness, that nothing would ever happen between us. But when I met him in New Haven, I just couldn’t.”

Sydney was enchanted by Miss Parker’s words; Broots was almost heartbroken.

“I guess that if we had was a normal life, we could say that we…fell in love.”

Sydney was grinning, but Broots was smirking in approval, too. He had understood years before that all those gifts sent by Jarod to Miss Parker weren’t just pranks to tease her. He was a genius, if he had really wanted to disappear, why did he always make sure that she found him?

“You think I’m crazy?” she asked Sydney. The old man understood in that very moment that she, like Jarod, was looking for his blessing.

The idea made him proud, because he knew that these two amazing persons trusted him like nobody else.

“Parker…I’ve seen you grow up together, then on your own. I’ve followed Jarod because I was his guardian. I had to push him to do his best, but deep inside I knew that I was wrong. I was indulgent when he met you, or when you spent hours together talking or worse, playing. I never told your father that you were such close friends.”

Parker remembered that in the videos, whenever Jarod was called back to work by Sydney, he practically ignored the fact that Parker was in his room.

“Had I known what they were planning to do, that they would make you enemies, that they would steal that little affection you found in each other…I would have tried to stop them. And believe me, Parker,” he concluded, taking her hands in his, “I’ve never seen you happier than you are now.”

Broots nodded without being seen. A few months before the thought of Miss Parker fooling around with another man would have been unacceptable to him. But Jarod was no other man. Broots knew that the pretender was the only one who could make her happy. He remembered the way Jarod had taken her side when he believed her to be responsible for the whole Damon affair.

 


 

“Listen Jarod, I can’t stay here. I’ve gotta find Debbie, Miss Parker took her.” Broots suddenly felt like he couldn’t trust no one. “In fact, it was Miss Parker who sent me to the Data Annex in the first place.”

Jarod immediately stopped his train of thoughts, “Miss Parker is many things, but she would never do that, especially to you. She doesn’t have it in her heart, or her eyes.”

 


 

Broots had found Jarod’s determination to defend Miss Parker weird, seeing that she was his pursuer. But the look in Jarod’s eyes as he said those words was unmistakable. That was the moment when Broots realized that huntress and prey cared for each other.

“What do you think?” Miss Parker asked Broots.

Broots nodded in approbation. “I think Debbie would be glad to hear that Auntie Miss Parker has finally found someone who makes her happy.”

Miss Parker smiled, feeling much more relaxed. The embarrassing part was over, now they could go back to business.

“Well, none of us will ever have a future, if we don’t find those damned Scrolls, and most of all not until we find a way to destroy The Centre.”

“Where do we start?” Sydney asked.

“From the truth.” she replied. “My mother talked about a secret hidden inside The Centre, something born from me and Jarod. We must find out what it is. We need to know what they did to us and who made us forget.”

“I did some research, but I still haven’t found anything. It’s difficult to dig into a forgotten past, Miss Parker.”

“I know, Broots. But we used hypnosis with Jarod, and it helped him remember that conversation with my mother about Ethan and her project. Well, this is her plan. I must finish her work, I must find a way to make The Centre blow from the inside, something she didn’t have an opportunity to do.”

“It’s going to be dangerous, for all of us.” Sydney looked concerned.

“That’s why I need to know now if you’re up to it. I can’t promise it’s going to be easy, but Jarod and I can’t trust anybody else but the people in this room.”

Sydney nodded. He finally had a chance to get redemption for his past.

Things were more difficult for Broots, he had a daughter to think about. But the thought of Debbie was the one who made him answer, “I want a better world for my daughter. A world where we don’t have to fear The Centre anymore.”

Parker nodded and the three of them stood up and headed straight towards the car.

Broots reached the car first, but Miss Parker stood behind as she closed the door of the manor. That house had meant so much to her in the last few days, that she didn’t really want to leave.

“What are you going to tell Lyle?” Sydney asked her.

“That I was following a track left by Jarod and that our Lab Rat locked me inside a basement for a couple of days, during which I had to wait for you two to find me.”

Sydney raised his eyebrow. That didn’t seem a quite realistic story.

“Well, we’ll work on the details on the way home. Let’s go.” Miss Parker patted the psychiatrist on his back.

 


JACKSONVILLE - Florida

5.36 p.m.

Jarod knew that his father, his sister Emily and young Jesse lived together under the same roof, now. He would love to visit more often, but in the last few months he had been very busy. However, he wanted them to be always guarded. He had used his connections inside the F.B.I. to guarantee them a certain amount of safety, and he always kept informed about The Centre movements to verify that nobody in Blue Cove knew their location.

He didn’t want to say anything, not even to Parker, and she didn’t want to know, anyway.

That was what another thing he loved about her; she understood him with a glance, the sound of his voice was enough. She didn’t ask nothing he wouldn’t answer to.

His father almost passed out when he saw his first son in front of him. He hadn’t seen him since he’d helped him save Zoe from The Centre.

“Jarod!” he shouted, holding him. Then he dragged him inside the house “Emily, Jes, come and see who just got here!”

Jarod’s siblings came running down the stairs. Emily hugged him tightly for a few seconds, savoring every single moment spent with him. Jesse, instead, held out his hand to him in a very polite way.

“Oh, come on Jesse!” Jarod shouted, pushing aside his hand and holding him.

“We missed you, Jarod!” Major Charles said.

“I missed you, too. But I’m here with great news and I’m looking forward to telling you what we found out.”

“We?” Emily asked, without missing her brother’s embarrassed smile.

“Who were you with, son?” Major Charles asked.

He still remembered the relationship that Jarod had built with Zoe. It always felt too artificial. He liked that girl, but she would never really understand his son.

Jesse was the one who broke the ice, “It’s Miss Parker.” he said, with a mischievous grin on his lips. Jarod knew that Jesse would understand. After all, the boy was a younger version of himself.

“Well…It’s a long story.” he tried and divert the conversation.

Major Charles was the only member of Jarod’s family who had truly something to do with Miss Parker. When he had faced her, he had made her doubts about her mother’s assassination disappear, only with the truth. Miss Parker had simply realized that he wasn’t the one who had pulled the trigger.

That woman was fascinating and intelligent, she had spent years with Jarod at The Centre, the Major had seen her in the DSAs his son kept always with him, especially in those disks that were always at hand. As a father, it hadn’t take long to him to realize that their relationship wasn’t the one you’d expect between two enemies chasing each other.

Emily, on the other hand, didn’t know Miss Parker at all. But she was the only one who had spent some years with Margaret, and her mother used to tell her that there was a special connection between her friend Catherine’s daughter and Jarod, there would always be. So, she didn’t struggle to realize that now, finally, that relationship had taken a different turn. Who was she to judge?

“We’ve got time, son.” Major Charles said, urging Jarod to spill his guts.


Jarod didn’t know where to begin, but Carthis was a good start. He explained that he’d seen Margaret, injured (but not seriously), running from the island. He told them Ocee’s story, he revealed the existence of the Scrolls, hoping that this would awaken something inside Emily or the Major’s memories (to no avail).

Then he went on talking about the last two months, how he’d been looking for answers without ever finding them. The dead ends, his broken hopes. Finally, he got to the DSAs they have managed to find because of Miss Parker’s inner sense, and he decided that his family had the right to see the one portraying Catherine and Margaret together.

After what seemed a long hour of confessions, Jarod finally turned off the computer and waited for them to talk.

Emily was the first to speak, “Jarod, I’m sorry but in the few years I spent with Mom, she never told me about Catherine being still alive, neither about the Scrolls.”

Jarod nodded, “I guess she was trying to protect her. And you. She didn’t want you to run the risk of being kidnapped by The Centre, too.”

“This is incredible, son. How can we fight an enemy so smart to delete memories from people like they were computers?”    

Jarod shook his head, “I’ve been fighting them all my life, dad. Now I won’t do that on my own, anymore. We’ve got someone on the inside.”

“Miss Parker? Isn’t it going to be dangerous?” Jesse asked, still feeling a huge affection for that woman who had reassured him when he really need someone to trust.

“Yes, Jes. But she has Sydney and Broots. And me too. In fact, I’m going to keep my eyes open on everything happening at The Centre, from now on.”

“What do you mean with keep your eyes open?” Major Charles asked.

“I’m going back to Blue Cove.”

“Jarod, are you crazy?” Emily screamed with anger, standing up from the couch, “You’re going back to that hell? What if they found you?”

“Precisely because I’ll be so close” he reassured her, stroking her arms “They won’t find me. Every time I was close to The Centre, I was safe. You can’t even imagine how many times I went inside, The Centre.”

Emily couldn’t stand this anymore. She moved towards the garden in silence, upset, and Jarod didn’t stop her. Jesse had known his sister for a while, and he was starting to interpret her silences. She had spent years looking for her family, and she didn’t want to lose it again now that they were together.

“She needs time, Jarod. She’s upset and she misses her mother.”

“I miss her too, but if I’m doing all of this it’s for us, for us to be free.”

The Major nodded and stood up to reach his daughter, but Jarod stopped him “I’ll talk to her.”

“Jes, come with me, let’s make some dinner.”

 


 

Jarod went out in the garden; he found Emily sitting on a swing they had recently bought. The girl loved spending the evenings out there, especially when it wasn’t too hot and there was a gentle breeze coming from the sea.

Jarod sat next to her, waiting for her to speak.

“You’re doing this for her, aren’t you?” she asked him.

Jarod smiled, “Yes, maybe you’re right.”

“How could you love a person who’s chased you for years?”

“It’s the very same thing Zoe asked me.” Jarod explained, and he already knew the answer to that question “Miss Parker would have never found me if it wasn’t for me. I always left her the right clues. Even if I couldn’t admit this back then, I’ve always loved her. I wanted to see her, just as much as I wanted to find you.”

“We’re your family, Jarod! It’s her fault if we got separated! How do you know this isn’t just a trap to lure you and take you back to The Centre?”

“Because I know her.”

“Well, that’s what I think.” She said angrily.

“No, you don’t.” Jarod replied, taking her hand. “Think, Emily. What did Mom tell you about her?”

Emily snorted. “She said…that Miss Parker was a special girl. And she was happy that you had at least one friend, at The Centre.”

Jarod smiled. That was his sister.

“She is special, Emily. All these years, she was a prisoner of The Centre, just like me. They took her away from her mother, she lived almost like an orphan, wandering in the sublevels of that awful place, even if she was technically a normal child. She became my best friend, she gave me strength, we cared for each other and…we loved each other ever since.”

“Why did you forget, then?”

Jarod sighed, “They made us. But now I don’t want to forget anything anymore. I just want to think about our future and that is why I must go back to Blue Cove. I can get close enough to infiltrate The Centre. Parker will protect me, believe me. And so will Sydney.”

Emily didn’t like it when Jarod talked about the man who instructed him to be a pretender. And yet, her father had told her that if it weren’t for Sydney, Jarod would have become a terrible person, not the amazing man who helped people without asking anything in return.

“Trust me, Emily. I need time, but I’ll fix everything. This time I know I can do this.”

Emily looked at him, almost crying, “You’re bringing mom back home?” she begged him.

“I promise.”


After a day spent with his family, Jarod had left. He didn’t want to stay at their place too much in case The Centre was following him. He was outside, looking at the stars, contemplating that moment of happiness. He knew it would last just a few hours and that soon everything would be back to normal.

Chase, run, searching for the truth, desperate need to find answers to questions of a lifetime. At least, now he got one.

It was only a day, but he missed Miss Parker terribly. Emily was right, if he wanted to go back to Blue Cove it was mostly to be with her. He couldn’t stand the idea of being away from her, not even for a day. Something inside him told him that this vulnerability was a weakness, that he couldn’t let it take over him. If being separated meant feeling weak and lost, then they shouldn’t be distant, at all. He took his phone and dialed the number (by heart), then waited for the woman to answer from the other side.


Parker couldn’t sleep, as usual. She turned over in bed, sometimes she took her mobile just to see what time it was. The truth was, she was expecting a phone call from Jarod, she felt it would come. She was dying to talk with him to know what he was doing, how he was, if he missed her.

It wasn’t until two in the morning that she got what she wanted, and her phone started to vibrate. She took it eagerly and opened the communication with a soft, “What.”

Jarod smiled, thinking that his lecture about the way she answered the phone didn’t have the desired effect.

“It’s me.”

“I don’t wonder who’s speaking when the hour is so late, Jarod. I always know it’s you.”

“I’ve seen my father and siblings today. I told them everything, Parker.”

“They also know about us?” she asked, trying to figure out the scene of Jarod talking with Major Charles, his sister and the boy, sitting around a table with an apple-pie. Who knows why, but the thought amused her.

“They do. I couldn’t help but tell them. Does it bother you?”

Parker wondered why it didn’t disturb her at all. The person she had been just two days before would have despised being in such silly situations, but she had promised herself she would change. Besides, hadn’t she confided in Broots and Sydney too? No, it didn’t bother her at all.

“How did they take it?” she answered with another question.

“Jes and my father are happy for the news. Emily was a bit rough.”

Parker asked herself if she would have to fight to have the approval of the one woman who one day might be her sister-in-law.

“But she remembered that my mother used to talk about you. She knew how good and kind you are.”

Parker thought that Margaret, like her mother, might be such a nice woman.

“Sometimes I wonder why she ran when she saw me on the island. She already knew, why didn’t she tell us then?”

“Because we weren’t ready” Jarod said, moving closer to a porch, “We didn’t know anything about the prophecies.”

“They could have told us!” she yelled, a bit upset. It was the first time she thought of her mother with a bit of resentment. Why did she hide everything until that very moment?

“Well, that’s not why I was calling. I wanted to tell you that I’ve decided to go back to Blue Cove.”

Parker almost chocked and stood up from the bed, “What?” she shouted. She was doing everything she could to get far from Jarod so that The Centre wouldn’t suspect them, and now he wanted to go back?

“No way!” she shouted.

“I’ve never been much inclined to listen to you, in the past.” he replied, amused because he had foreseen her reaction perfectly.  

“You can’t go back, Jarod. I won’t let you. It’s too dangerous, and you should be searching for Ethan!”

“Parker.” he went on, with very low voice, while he was getting close to the house door. “I cannot be without you. I’ve realized the distance makes me weaker, I spend my time wondering what you’re doing, if you’re okay, whether I’ll see you again.”

“All of this just after 24 hours?” she asked, turning on the light and moving towards the living room.

“Actually I’ve realized this after five minutes.”

“Jarod, please, don’t come back.” she begged, wandering around the house and looking for something to drink. She passed in front of the door and in that very moment Jarod answered her aloud, “I guess it’s too late.”

Parker turned around immediately, because in addition to the one from the telephone, she was hearing Jarod’s voice also outside the door. She squeezed her eyes, exasperated, and opened the door. Jarod was there, his phone still in his hand. He was smiling and yet he was ready to be scolded for that stunt.

Parker didn’t drop the phone. “Seeing that you never listen to what I say, then I’m going to let the first stranger knocking at my door enter the house!”

Jarod made a step forward, still speaking by the phone, “Is he tall, dark haired, smart, funny.” Another step “…and loves making you surprises even if he knows you hate them?”

Parker didn’t give in. “No, he’s a Lab Rat that has the bad habit of waking me up in my deepest sleep, even if he knows I – hate - it!” she said through clenched teeth and emphasizing each word.

Jarod placed his free hand around her waist. “Then I authorize you to let him in. Provided that you make him sleep on the couch, you know. I can be the bad guy when I’m jealous!”

That said, he closed the phone and started to kiss her neck.

“What would you do if you found out that he just jumped on me and I didn’t even try to stop him?” she mumbled, throwing the mobile on the couch.

Jarod looked at her intensely. “I guess I could become an animal.”

“God, I hope so!” she concluded, kissing and dragging him to herself. He shut the door with a foot and Parker led him towards her bedroom.

 


 

Miss Parker opened her eyes with the weird feeling of being observed. Then she remembered about Jarod’s sudden arrival, and she realized that he was still at her side, stroking her arm.

“You act like a fool.” she reprimanded him, now that she was lucid enough to remember how dangerous the situation was.

“I would have been a fool not to come!” he replied, standing up. It was dawn and the day seemed to be promising.

“Do you realize The Centre is less than five miles from here?”

“You don’t need to remind me; I know The Centre’s location better than anyone else.”

“Jarod.” Parker sat up and wrapped the sheets around herself. “Emily was right, you need to stay far from here. If they found out – ”

“They won’t. I need to stay with you, right now.”

“And to think I was the one begging you to stay, a few hours ago.”

Jarod sat on the bed and took her hands, “Parker. Don’t underestimate the importance of our connection. We need to be together; we don’t have to be on our own anymore! I’ve seen my family and I’m happy I went there. But until The Centre exists, they will be much safer far away from me. And I know I’ll feel much safer if I’m with you. We can carry on Catherine’s project together.”

Parker shook her head. What did he expect? That she accepted the idea of living under the same roof just like that? Wasn’t cohabitation a dangerous step, after so little time?

Then she realized that those would have been the thought of the old Miss Parker, not the new one. And suddenly she heard the voices inviting her to trust him, to let him stay. And she heard one voice, clearer than the others, her mother’s. “You and Jarod. Together.”

“You won’t even notice me.” he begged.

“Like tonight?” she asked, amused. The truth was she didn’t need to put her gun under the pillow when Jarod slept with her. She didn’t feel like it.

“So, let’s say you’re noticing my presence when you want to.” he replied, giving her a soft kiss on her forehead.

Parker looked at the time, and she realized she had to go back to The Centre. It was time to face Lyle.

“I must go to work. I have a fugitive to hunt. I think you’ve heard of him, he’s a naïve guy who decided to crawl inside the bed of his pursuer.”

Jarod smiled. “You have to admit, that was quite a strategy.”

Parker stood up and got dressed, omitting the usual accuracy she demonstrated when she had to choose her work clothes. She took the gun from the drawer, and she checked if it was loaded, then she put it around her waist and moved towards the door.

“Promise me you’re going to be careful. Don’t show up in town, don’t leave this house unless you have to, and most of all…Don’t come to The Centre!”

“I’ve got something for you.” he said, giving her a new phone.

“What, an engagement gift?” she asked, sarcastically.

“These are home made. Not traceable phone calls, and just three numbers. Mine, Sydney’s and Broots’s. Here are their mobiles.” he gave her other two devices.

“With these, we can communicate without being afraid of them listening. But use them only if you have to, don’t make Lyle and Raines suspicious, they’ve kept your phones under control for years.”

Parker stared at him with worry. This meant that every call she had with Jarod had been overheard by them?

He immediately guessed what she was thinking, so he reassured her. “My calls are not subjected to Centre’s protocols. They can’t keep me out, but they can’t get in. And the conversations I had with you…well, those were the ones I used to shield the most. I didn’t want them to find out that I was helping you discovering the truth, I was afraid they would hurt you.”

This new revelation made Jarod almost irresistible to Parker’s eyes. She kissed him, slowly, with passion. Then she put the phones inside her bag and left for The Centre.

End Notes:

Still waiting for reviews ;)

Chapter 6: Don't look back in anger by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Just have typos and misprints checked by my lovely guardian angel, Antoinette!

This chapter features one of my favorite songs. I just thought it fitted very well with J & MP relationship at the beginning of the season.

Of course, lyrics and music are not mine! And so all the characters, as usual.

THE CENTRE
10.03 a.m.

Sydney and Parker spoke about strategy for a couple of hours. When Lyle and Raines summoned Miss Parker, she answered she would go to their office whenever she felt like it.

Broots was tense and busy, he was working at his computer with great diligence without listening to a word his two colleagues were saying.

Before indulging in dangerous conversations, Broots and Sydney had inspected Miss Parker’s office and Sydney’s. They hadn’t found any bugs. The phones didn’t have any recording devices. Apparently, they could talk freely.

“What will you say if they ask you clues on Jarod’s movements?” Sydney asked.

“I could tell them the truth.” she replied, starting to feel the signs of an incoming migraine. “That he’s hidden inside my house and he is located a few miles from here.”

Then she realized she hadn’t previously mentioned this to Sydney and Broots, so she got ready for a change of mood.

“I didn’t ask him to, he came back on his own. He said he feels safer here than anywhere else, he says…”

The thing embarrassed her and she didn’t want to talk in front of Broots. So Sydney sent him a glance and asked him to leave them for a few minutes.

“Uhm, I…I’ve got a meeting with my friend Johnny at internal affairs. We’ll catch up later.”

When Broots left, Sydney invited Parker to sit close to him on the sofa.

“You’re worried.”

“I can’t help it, can I? I’m going to face my brother and Raines everyday, knowing that Jarod is hidden in my own house.”

“Why did he come back?” Sydney demanded her. He already knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it from her.

“Jarod thinks that it could be easier to face this thing together. He says that he feels vulnerable when he’s away from me, that it’s easier when we’re together.”

“And what do you think?”

“I’m not cut out to be the lovely wife, Syd!”

“I guess that’s not Jarod’s intention to make you feel like.” he replied, almost amused.

“Perhaps it’s easier for him, but not for me! I’m the one bringing my sorry ass to this madhouse, pretending that nothing has changed. I’m going to lie to everyone, forge evidence of Jarod’s movements, make Lyle believe that I’m still hunting him…while he’s hidden at my place!” she almost shouted, standing up and gesticulating.

“If anything happens to him, I’d never forgive myself. After all he’s been through because of me.” she concluded, sighing.

“You’ve got the same problem you’ve always had….your guilt come to the surface. Don’t let them come between you and Jarod. You’ve built something good, don’t let the past destroy it.” Sydney suggested.

“But the past still exists, Sydney, it’s a shadow we can’t delete, it sticks.”

“So you must be very good in learning from your mistakes, we all have to.”

“And how are you coping with this?”

“Helping you and Jarod was a good start. I’ll talk with Raines to find out what he did to your memories. At least, you may find some peace.”

Sydney rubbed her arms and then exited the office. Parker sighed and regained her Ice Queen mask. She only had to pretend that everything was like before. After so many years, she had become a Pretender too.


“Sis, we were waiting for you.” Lyle announced, admiring her entering his office with a fierce look.

“I guess you killed time messing around with each other’s fingers.” she quipped. “No more thumbs exchanges, lately?”

Ignoring her, Raines intervened, “Where have you been?”

Parker reviewed the new rules of the game. Be a good liar, you must believe what you’re saying.

“I was following a clue to find Jarod. A personal track, that I had to go through on my own.” she explained, sending Lyle a glare.

“We can’t work well if you start going around the States alone and without sweeper teams. You could at least have taken Sam with you!”

“Jarod lured me in an impasse. I was hoping to find information about my mother’s death, but he cheated on me, as usual. I have been trapped up in a basement for three days. I had to wait for Sydney and Broots to find me.”

Lyle stared at her, not so convinced, “Where were you?”

“New Haven.” she answered, sincerely.

Raines took a worried look at Lyle. Could they both be aware of the existence of Catherine’s manor?

“Jarod…did he tell you anything about our mother?” Lyle asked.

She shook her head, “I never saw the damn Lab Rat, he left me a message to make fun of me.”

“What did it say?”

Parker need to think quick, she tried to get in Jarod’s shoes. After all, she had received his messages for years, she could pretend she actually got a new one.

She slightly spread her legs, her arms folded. She looked at Raines with her blue eyes and said aloud, “Beware of enemies, but even more of friends.”

Lyle rolled his eyes, noticing that Jarod was still trying to gain a bit of his sister’s trust.

“If you don’t mind, Broots and I have work to do. Jarod was seen in Connecticut in the surroundings of the place he imprisoned me in, I must do some digging.”

“No!” Lyle screamed, standing up and following Miss Parker while she was going out.

Parker now was sure that her brother’s nervousness was due to the fact that he knew about Catherine’s house. It couldn’t be otherwise, or he wouldn’t have reacted that way.

“You know, Lyle, if there’s something I hate more than having you as twin brother, it’s to have someone tell me what I should or shouldn’t do.”

“We already followed Jarod’s tracks, all dead ends. We must wait for him to turn up, chasing him in this very moment wouldn’t be an appropriate strategy.”

Raines looked at him worried.

What did those two have in their mind? Were they hiding something from her?

“Just think about taking care of your stump, let the pros think about Jarod!” she replied, exiting the office that once belonged to her father and now was Raines’s.

She hid behind a wall, hoping to overhear the two of them talking.

“She can’t go back there, if Jarod knows about Catherine’s house, she could find something we might have missed.”

“We already searched the house, and we never found anything, take it easy, son!” Raines answered. “Just try to keep an eye on your sister and focus on our little project, it’s the only way, the only card we still got to play with the Africans.”

“If only they hadn’t found those damned Scrolls!”

“We should thank your father, for that.”

Miss Parker had heard enough. She went back to her office, finding Sydney involved in a deep conversation with Broots.

“Miss Parker, here you are finally! I’ve found something!”

She omitted for a second the conversation between Raines and her brother as she concentrated on Broots’s computer.

“I was trying to find out if The Centre knew anything about the DSAs stolen from Jarod’s mother, I wanted to see if there was a sign of them anywhere…so I started searching inside The Centre archives; all the DSAs have been catalogued by date, year and subject. Needless to say, most of them are about Jarod.”

“Get to the point, Broots!” she yelled with impatience.

“Ok, ok…in the last years, The Centre started a digitalization of all the available DSAs to protect the information for their heritage…There’s also a copy of the disks that Jarod took away.”

Broots played a video with Jarod pretending to find out how President Kennedy was killed.

“Those bastards had already copied everything before Jarod ran…” Parker whispered, in clenched teeth.

“Yeah, if we found out sooner, we would have saved so much time…anyway…some DSAs in the list, on the other hand, had never been converted. They disappeared before the assigned personnel could copy them…”

“Print a list of those DSAs!”

“Already done.” Sydney intervened. “The recording dates match with the ones of the videos you and Jarod found.”

“And The Centre did find out.”

“A couple of years ago, an incessant research started, those DSAs made the guys at the video department get crazy, they couldn’t understand what happened to them, because the disks weren’t among the ones that Jarod stole.”

“Did my father know?” Miss Parker asked.

Broots assented, in silence. Sydney, as usual, had been left out of everything.

“I’ve checked on his correspondence and I found this.” Broots went on, giving Miss Parker a piece of paper. “It’s a letter the Triumvirate sent your father at the beginning of ’77.”

Parker read it greedily.

 

  Project “Mind Rain” must be carried out as soon as possible.

  We won’t tolerate any other delays, and we won’t allow the pretender

  to become a threat for The Centre.

  Doctor Raines will take control of the situation, but the boy’s guardian

  must be kept in the dark, we don’t want any interference.

  Don’t disappoint us again, Mr. Parker.

 

“Project Mind Rain…Have you ever heard about it, Sydney?” she asked.

“No, and it doesn’t sound good. But if it has anything to do with those DSAs…”

“Maybe it’s also what they did to me and Jarod…it does makes sense, the last stolen video was set during New Years Eve ‘76.”

Parker sat down for a moment, she was worried because of that discovery.

“Did you talk with your brother?”

“Yes, and I managed to convince them that my absence was motivated. But I also found out that they’re up to something, a project they don’t want to tell me about. And to them, it seems to be even more important than Jarod’s pursuit!”

Sydney rubbed his chin with his hand. “I doubt Raines wants something more than Jarod’s return.”

“I promise you, Syd…” Parker said finally. “He’s hiding something. And we both know what we should do about it.”

They both turned to Broots, who looked at her scared, “Why do I always get the worst tasks?!”

 


When Miss Parker arrived home that night, she found all lights turned off and a very weird silence. She opened the door, trying not to let him notice her presence, then she locked it. She didn’t turn the lights on at once, starting to look around, hoping to find some sign of his presence.

She made a few steps towards the living room when she suddenly felt two gentle hands touching her shoulders, two hands that knew very well her curves. A second later Jarod’s face was laying next to hers. She didn’t need to hear him talk to recognize him.

“I should install an alarm, almost everyone can enter this house.”

“I’ve been waiting for you for hours, I was getting crazy!”

Parker caught the chance to convince him to disappear, “Why didn’t you leave, then?”

“For the same reason I came. I’m addicted to your hair scent.”

Parker turned around and kissed him, then she turned on the lamp. The light almost annoyed her.

“Tell me you’ve got news.” she asked him, impatient.

Jarod reached his computer and invited Parker to follow him.

“Ethan was hidden with you, before he disappeared. There was no reason for him to leave without telling us, unless something, or someone lured him elsewhere.”

“Do you think Raines and my brother found him while we were chasing that insane sociopath?”

Jarod shook his head, “No, we would have found out. You said Ethan had started a note he never finished, what did it say?”

“Just that he needed to leave, but the note wasn’t very clear. Maybe he was hallucinating again.”

“I don’t think so, he was learning to control the voices, he was following your mother’s voice, mostly…Anyway, he didn’t know that I’ve become a bit possessive towards my family lately, so I’ve injected a subcutaneous transmitter into my father, my sister and Jesse. When I found Ethan, I did the same with him.”

Parker looked at him, surprised by that revelation, “Why can’t you locate him, then?”

“Because it activates only if the subject is at a distance of ten miles from The Centre…A precautionary measure, in case that someone drags a person I love inside that place.”

“So we know from exclusion that Ethan isn’t at The Centre.”

Jarod nodded, “Precisely.”

“Did you inject me, too?” Parker asked, she wanted to know if Jarod took that so called precautionary measure for her, too. But he shook his head in denial, “I would have never violated your privacy in such way, and besides it would have been useless. You always are at The Centre.”

Obviously, Jarod was right.

“I’ve started to think like Ethan, pretending to be him. You came  looking for your father and Alex, Ethan told me where I could find you. Maybe he felt he had to come and search for us, help me save you…”

“But why he didn’t come back later?” Parker asked. She didn’t understand where her brother could possibly be, and she was very worried for him.

“I’ve got an idea. We may try and call him back to Blue Cove. It’s the only way we’ve got to locate him. As soon as my transmitter activates, I can find him in less than one minute.”

“And how can we lure him down here? And at what cost? Jarod, he’s been prisoner of Raines for years! He had the worst childhood, maybe he just wants us to leave him alone.”

“He’s just worried and he probably doesn’t know what to do. Maybe he’s looking for your mother!” Jarod replied, trying to support his point of view.

Parker, as always, kept silent and tried to understand what Jarod was up to. “How can we communicate with him?”

The pretender stood up, glad to notice that Miss Parker was listening to him. “The only one who can is you. You’ve got a connection beyond the material.”

“My inner sense?” she asked with skepticism, knowing that she couldn’t turn it on and off as a lamp.

“You must trust the voices, Parker, they led us here. You must use it to contact Ethan and ask him to come back.”

“I can’t, Jarod.” She answered, standing up.

“You don’t have much of a choice! We need Ethan, and he needs us!”

Parker was moving back and forth, ready to blow up.

“Do it, Miss Parker…” She couldn’t help but notice his return to the Miss. “Talk to him!”

“I can’t!” She screamed. “I don’t even know how this gift works, I can’t activate it whenever I want! You can’t force me to do something I know I can’t do!”

Jarod was visibly disappointed; after everything she had achieved, she didn’t trust herself. He looked at her sitting down again, leaning her head on her hands, then he reached her.

“I trust you…and I can help you do this.”

“How?” she asked him, not convinced at all.

Jarod sighed and smile, “With love.”

He took her hands and squeezed them gently, while she looked at him scared.

“Trust me.” He asked her for the umpteenth time.

Parker sighed, then she closed her eyes. The only thing she could feel was the gentle touch of Jarod’s hands. Then his voice intervened, “Relax, Parker…Think about the last time you’ve seen Ethan…”

Parker thought about her father’s house, the fireplace, the conversation about Catherine.

“Think about Ethan…Call him…” Jarod whispered.

Parker concentrated and heard the voices mumbling. She couldn’t understand what they were saying, they were just rumbling, one over the other.

Two of them, however, seemed to be stronger than the others. She distinguished the first one very well, it was her mother’s.

“Call Ethan, Miss Parker…” Jarod went on.

She slightly moved her face, with her eyes closed and Jarod’s hands tightened on hers.

Now, she could hear also the second voice clearly.

“Ethan.” she whispered.

A second later, she was again in that burning apartment. It seemed that they were destined to meet each other there, the place where Ethan had saved her.

“Ethan!” Miss Parker repeated.

Her brother turned around, he was smiling.

“Hello, Miss Parker.”

“What are we doing here? I don’t understand…”

“You were searching for me…And your inner sense brought us back here, where everything started.”

Parker felt the words  echoing, as if that wasn’t real. But in her mind, that was incredibly real.

“Ethan…You must come back…For me and Jarod. Come back home…” she said.

“Home?” Ethan asked.

We are home…Come home! Please…”

Ethan looked at her, in silence. A moment later, Parker was in her house again, with Jarod holding her hands.

How much time had passed?

“Parker!”

“I saw him, Jarod! I saw Ethan!”

He smiled and held her, glad that his idea had worked. He wanted to push Miss Parker so that the great gift she had inherited from her mother could grow. Jarod was sure that learning how to use it would come in handy.

“You succeeded in communicating with him?”

Parker put her hands on her eyes, “I think so…I’ve asked him to come back.”

Jarod nodded and noticed that she seemed tired and exhausted because of that experience. She was also very hot, her forehead was burning.  

“Are you okay?” he asked her, a bit worried.

“I think these are…effects of…the transfer…”

She stood up and reached the bathroom. She accepted the fact that she wasn’t fine when she found herself throwing up. She rinsed her mouth to recover, but her migraine was still there.

Jarod knocked on the door and she let him in. She was pale and very hot.

“I’m sorry it does this to you…I shouldn’t have pushed you.” he said getting closer and touching her forehead again.

“No, you were right. I just hope that Ethan got the message. Just keep checking his transmitter, will you?”

He nodded. Parker was looking better, but Jarod knew how proud she was. She would never admit being sick.

“You need some rest.”

“Yes, maybe you’re right…”

They went towards the bedroom, and Jarod prepared an infusion for her. He helped her get into bed and sat next to her, holding her hand.

Obviously, none of them wanted to sleep.

“I also have news.”

Jarod looked at her, curious. With all that had happened he hadn’t even asked her how her day at The Centre went.

“Something about your father?”

“Not exactly. I overheard Lyle and Raines talking about a special project. Something they keep hidden from all of us…they said it’s very important, especially now that the Triumvirate has got the Scrolls.”

Jarod opened his eyes wide. So they actually managed to find them. But what had happened to Mr. Parker?

“Broots found some information about a Project Mind Rain.”

That name didn’t ring a bell for Jarod, but Miss Parker had already figured that out. “We believe it’s about what they did to our memories.”

“The name is actually evocative. We must find anything we can about it.” Jarod answered.

“Tomorrow, now I really need some rest.”

Jarod tried to stand up, but she kept him by his hand.

“…Stay here with me?”

When he saw her defenseless as a child, he softened. She was a trigger-happy-hunter but she was still the little girl trying to catch his attention.

“Jarod…”

He looked at her.

“How can you be so…”

“So what?” he asked.

“Good. Fair. Honest. Pick a word. How come you don’t hate Sydney and me for all we’ve done to you? How come you don’t look back in anger?”

That is the question, Jarod thought. Sometimes he had found himself in anger or spite. Like when he had killed Damon. But then he had always felt bad, empty. He lived with that sense of emptiness The Centre had left him with, and he could fill it only when he helped other people. The smiles, the sweet words, the happiness in their eyes. That was what gave him the strength to go on and look at the future without resentment.

“Well, the night I escaped from The Centre, I ended up in Todd Baxter’s car, the man who helped me run away. Between a subject and the other, I heard this song at the radio. That was the very first song I listened to after my escape.”

“Which song?”

“The lyrics are about this main concept, don’t look back in anger.”

Parker smiled. “I know that song. I like it.”

Jarod wondered how could it be possible for them to be talking about such a normal and beautiful thing as music. “Well, I took it as my motto. Remember the chorus, don’t you? It talks about this woman, Sally, whose soul is sliding away because it’s too late. But in the end, don’t look back in anger.”

Parker sang the tune in her head, trying to remember all the words exactly.

“I immediately associated you with Sally. You knew it was too late for us, and you were walking on by. But I didn’t have to look back in anger.”

Unintentionally, Parker squeezed his hand tighter.

“I can’t really explain why I am what I am. Nobody would expect a boy taken from his family, exploited like I was…to grow up…normal.”

“Not a chance.” Parker chuckled.

“But I tried. And once I was out, I followed my instinct and conscience, as Sydney taught me to. At least, I owe him somethin, he gave me the means to distinguish good from bad. And I wanted to be among the good ones.”

Parker smiled. “I wish I had joined you sooner. But for years, too much time…I played on the wrong team.”

Jarod gave her a kiss on her forehead, “Not anymore.”

It didn’t take her long to fall asleep, with her guardian angel by her side.


THE CENTRE

9.47 a.m.

“Miss Parker! You’re here, at last!” Broots said, welcoming her, breathless.

She didn’t look well. Miss Parker was still a pale and nausea sometimes turned up again.

“Are you all right, Parker?” Sydney asked, worried for her health, as usual.

“Never been better.” She replied. “News about the Mind Rain Project?”

Broots shook his head. “I’m looking everywhere, but I haven’t found anything, yet…”

Parker had thought about it. There was still a last thing to try, she hadn’t used Angelo’s faculties yet. He was the only one who could see clearly through it all.

“I know what you’re thinking.” Sydney said. “But I would like to have a chance and speak with Raines, before addressing ourselves to Angelo.”

“Why?” she asked, and she didn’t understand why Sydney was so reluctant to let her see the empathic.

“Maybe I could use the scientific side of the project to…”

“Sydney.” she interrupted him. “The old zombie won’t believe a word coming from your mouth. You helped Jarod run too many times, you also helped him rescue children before Raines could hurt to them. Remember when you pretended you wanted to be Jes - Jarod’s clone trainer? Then you betrayed Raines and let Jarod know where he could find the boy?”

Sydney almost smiled, remembering one of his most heroic acts.

“Miss Parker is right, Raines doesn’t consider us as his subordinates anymore, he sees us as an opponent team…The only one who still enjoys his favor is Lyle.”

Miss Parker nodded. “We need Angelo, Sydney. It’s the only way.”

Sydney sighed and assented. He led Miss Parker and Broots to where they’ve always kept Angelo, the huge dark room where former Timmy could pour out his instincts.

However, they weren’t prepared for the vision they got as soon as they reached the room. Angelo was in a catatonic state, he seemed to be back to the non-conscious moments after Raines had brainwashed him for good.

“What happened to him?” Parker asked, noticing that he was looking at the floor with no signs of life in his eyes.

“He’s been like that since you came back from the island. After helping us to find you, he entered in this absent numbness and didn’t say another word. I’ve been trying to stimulate him for weeks, but to no avail.”

“What did they do to him?” Parker asked, reaching her childhood friend and leaning down to him, with a tear to her eyes. The memory of the video she and Jarod had found was still vivid in her mind.

“Nothing…nobody had anything to do with him, except me. It’s as if…he had gone back to the self he was when you were children.”

“I didn’t think I would ever miss his scribbles and exaggerated reactions when he touched objects.” Broots said, noticing that the empath’s felt-tip pens were all spread chaotically on the floor.

Miss Parker got nearer and looked at Angelo with tenderness. When he didn’t even flinch at her presence, Parker took his hand and squeezed it. When he felt the touch, he suddenly raised his face and stared at her.

“Miss Parker…Danger…” he whispered.

Sydney was wide-eyed. “I can’t believe this! He just talked!”

“Miss Parker…Jarod…Danger!” Angelo went on, squeezing her hand and standing up, starting to speak out loud.

Parker let go of his hand and watched Angelo getting back to his normal self.

“Miss Parker…Jarod…Danger!”

Angelo continuously repeated those words, while Parker looked at him worried and scared at the same time.

“I don’t understand, why now? What’s going on, Angelo? What danger?” Sydney asked him, trying to calm him down.

“Hidden…Secret…Centre!”

Parker goggled her eyes. Angelo was saying the words she had heard in her mother’s video.


“A terrible secret is hidden at The Centre. Something my inner sense cannot foresee yet. It’s like if something born from the two of you lies in the most hidden depth of The Centre.”


“Angelo!” Miss Parker firmly took his face in her hands, asking, “What secret?”

Angelo shook his head, he couldn’t answer.

“Please, Angelo…You must help us.” she went on. Sydney was astonished by her behavior, since she had never really given importance to Angelo’s attacks, all those years.

Angelo moved towards a piece of paper and took a black pencil in his hand, then he started writing something, tracing out the words. When he was finished, he showed Miss Parker the paper, and she read out loud.

 

  Secret

  Sublevel

  19

 

“There are no labs in that sublevel, that I know of. What could there be?” Sydney wondered.

Miss Parker knew exactly what was in that place.

“It’s the place where they keep my father and Brigitte’s son.”


MISS PARKER’S HOUSE

2.29 p.m.

Jarod had been looking for information about Ethan for hours, by now. Sometimes he read F.B.I. top secret files just to be sure that no federal agent was hunting him because of his involvement with the subway explosion.

In spite of his efforts, every hope was vain. There was no trace of Ethan. His brother was covering his tracks and apparently he didn’t want to be found, not even by his own family..

The only hope was the transmitter, but it didn’t show any sign of life, yet.

“Where are you, Ethan?” Jarod whispered, more to the computer than to himself.

His cell phone rang, and from the ID he recognized Miss Parker as the caller.

“How’s your day in Wonderland?”

“Call me Alice, from now on.” she replied “Jarod…I spoke with Angelo.”

Parker was wandering in The Centre corridors, trying to move carefully and breezy.

“Was he helpful?”

“Maybe. It’s too soon to tell, but I believe the danger my mother was referring to in the video is connected to my brother.”

Jarod shook his head. “Lyle is already a risk for us, I do not see why he- ”

“Not that brother…My little brother, my father and Brigitte’s son.”

Jarod came back to reality. He hadn’t thought about that boy for a while, maybe because so many things had happened to him during the last year, that he never stopped a second to ponder about Mr. Parker’s legacy. He considered the child to be of great value, and yet he had disappeared without even mentioning him. Was he thinking about the little boy, when he had jumped from that plane?

“The boy…I almost forgot about him.” Jarod confessed.

“Well, didn’t. I’ve been asking my father and Raines about him for months, but they always wanted me to buy the story about the underdeveloped lungs condition, but I haven’t seen him for weeks.”

“You believe he’s in danger? And what does it have to do with us?” Jarod asked, skeptic.

“I don’t know what to believe. Any news about the fugitive?” she asked, never mentioning names in case somebody was listening.

“No, I’ve almost los- ”

Jarod stopped talking because Ethan’s transmitter just turned on and started to flash.

“What?” Parker muttered.

“That’s it!” Jarod said. “I found him!”

“Wait, I’m coming with you.” she said.

“No!”

Even if the balance of their relationship had changed, Parker didn’t want Jarod to control her and oblige her to do anything.

“He’s also my brother, Jarod!”

“I know that.” he answered, while he loaded a gun, the telephone held between his ear and shoulder. “But you’d raise too many questions if you ran right now, let me take care of it.”

“No way!” she shouted against him, starting to move faster.

“Parker.” Jarod started, his voice back to the old reproachful tone he used before they revealed their love for each other. “Trust me.”

Parker stopped and just thought. Jarod was right, she truly wanted to see Ethan, but she couldn’t risk Lyle finding out. And suddenly she felt the voices, her mother’s more crystal than the others.

Let him go.

“Ok, Jarod.” she gave up.

“I’ll be in touch.”

“Be careful!” she yelled, before he could hang up.

He felt so flattered by those attentions that he smiled to himself. “When did somebody at The Centre ever found me, if you weren’t behind his back?”

He ended the call, leaving Parker almost amused.


Even if he had showed confidence to Parker, Jarod was indeed worried. He never used guns, but that day he felt he should be ready to defend his brother, at any cost. It was too much important to find Ethan, after all that time.

He followed the transmitter signal until he reached a park located a few miles from Miss Parker’s house, and he tried not to attract attention. That afternoon there were not many people around, specifically an old lady walking her dog and a couple of friends jogging and chatting.

Jarod took off his sunglasses and started to look around, hoping to see Ethan somewhere. The transmitter was beeping and Jarod followed it until its sound became more and more frequent. When he reached a huge oak, Jarod looked behind the plant.

“You’ll learn the fine art of hide and seek in time.” he said out loud, leaning over the plant.

His brother was sitting on the ground, leaning against the tree trunk. He had just a small backpack with him, but apart from that item, he looked just as Jarod remembered him.

“Jarod!” he shouted, standing up and holding him. “How did you find me?”

“That’s a long story, I’m telling you later. Now we need to go, this place isn’t safe.”

Ethan shook his head, “We’re safe, for now.”

“The voices?” Jarod asked.

Ethan nodded, smiling.

“Ethan…”

Jarod couldn’t help but hug him again warmly. He missed him so much since he left.

“Where do we start?” he asked him.

“Let’s start from you and my sister.” Ethan replied, smiling again.

Jarod made another embarrassed smile. It wasn’t easy to have those people reading him like a book.


Sydney got back to Miss Parker’s office and found her lying on the sofa. She was holding her head with her hand.

“Any news?” he asked her.

She opened her eyes and awoke, sitting up.

“No, but if there were problems, we’d already know, wouldn’t we?”

Sydney smiled and put a hand on her shoulder, “You sure you’re okay?”

“It’s going to pass…It’s just my ulcer, sometimes it kicks in again.”

He nodded. “What are you going to do with your little brother?”

“The access to SL-19 is forbidden, you can get inside just with a special card that only Raines and Lyle own. I can’t show my hand to them, I must understand what’s going on, before.”

“Maybe I do!” Broots exclaimed, entering hastily.

Miss Parker stood up and looked at him with a victorious gaze, “Found something?”

Broots smiled. “It took me hours, but I was successful in breaching the security system of the cameras in SL-19!”

“Good work, baldy!” she said, patting him on the head. Besides the pet name, Broots was surprised by her statement. He went to her computer to import the videos that he had just downloaded from the archives.

“This is a few days ago, you were still on…holiday, uhm…”


The video showed a corridor of Sublevel 19 in front of Room 47. Lyle and Raines came out of that room.

“It would be a catastrophe if my sister found out about this.”

“Don’t worry about her, she’s not even here. And when she’s back, we must keep her in the dark about it, as usual.” Raines replied.

“I don’t know…Seeing what this is about, I think we should…”

“You’re not authorized to think!” Raines shouted, showing his determination.  “The project is progressing very well, in a couple of years we’ll take it to the next phase. We only have to wait and make the best of it.”

“And what about Jarod?”

Raines grimaced. “We keep hunting him, but it would be a waste of effort. He’s got too many people helping him from the inside. We need to change our goals and get ready for a new pretender. They took Ethan away from me, but they won’t take him.”

Raines moved away. But Lyle wasn’t over yet. “And what about my father?”

Raines turned around and looked at him, smiling. “If he really survived, it’s up to the Triumvirate to show him mercy. But he had agreed with this project, since the very beginning. After all, we’re talking about…his legacy.”


Miss Parker looked at Broots as if she was hoping the video to continue, but it had stopped.

“There’s nothing more, as soon as they discovered I had intercepted this conversation they became more suspicious and blocked everything.” he explained in his defense.

“So it’s true. They want to use the baby, turn him into a pretender at the service of the Triumvirate. Some things never change.” Miss Parker murmured, through clenched teeth. After thirty-five years spent working on Jarod, that circle seemed to have no end. A new generation always led to new pretenders.

“I can’t believe your father agreed to let them take advantage of his son.”

“Well, he was not such a fatherly figure, wasn’t he, Sydney? Not to mention how much he insisted on the fact that the baby was his heir, the one who would continue the Parker’s legacy.”

In that very moment, she remembered the terrible words Mr. Parker had said before jumping off the plane. He had affirmed that the new Parker’s legacy was starting with her. What did he actually mean by that?

“One thing is for certain, we’ve got to rescue that boy. Angelo was right, he’s in danger.”

Miss Parker reached the door.

“Actually,” Sydney stopped her. “Angelo said…That you and Jarod are in danger.” He pointed out.

Parker ignored him and went out. She’d had enough.

End Notes:

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don't you know you might find
A better place to play
You said that you'd never been
All the things that you've seen
Will slowly fade away

So I'll start the revolution from my bed
Cos you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside 'coz summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out

So Sally can wait, she knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away, "But don't look back in anger", I heard you say

Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows if it's night or day
Please don't put your life in the hands
Of a Rock n Roll band
Who'll throw it all away

Gonna start the revolution from my bed
'Coz you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside 'coz summertime's in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face
'Coz you ain't ever gonna burn my heart out

So Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as she's walking on by
My soul slides away
"But don't look back in anger", I heard you say

So Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as we're walking on by
Her soul slides away
"But don't look back in anger", I heard you say

So Sally can wait
She knows it's too late as she's walking on by
My soul slides away
"But don't look back in anger, don't look back in anger"
I heard you say, "At least not today"

[OASIS - DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER - Lyrics & Music by Noel Gallagher]

Chapter 7: Michael by missparker87
Author's Notes:

I love Ethan, you're going to see much of him hereafter. He's a nice character, I think he deserved being much more developed during the real show. I'm doing that for all of you!

As always, comments are really appreciated. And please, forgive my lack of English!

Thanks to Antoinette for the usual help in the translation, Luv ya!

Jarod and Ethan had spent the last half hour catching up. Ethan had listened to everything Jarod told him, since he was feeling that his big brother needed to get out of his system some of his feelings for Miss Parker.

In a normal family, explaining to your brother that you feel something for his sister would be nonsense, but they were no normal family.
They would never be.
Ethan internalized everything with calm. He was a very good listener, and he had perceived every emotion Jarod was feeling while blurting out the last months events. At first, the panic when Jarod had found Miss Parker on the island, then the rage for losing his mother, again. The growing necessity of declaring his affection for the woman who had been chasing him for years, but who was also the only one who understood him. Affection that soon had become desire and, slowly, declared itself to be love; a love born years before.
Ethan had joined Jarod’s laugh when he had told him how he had finally conquered Miss Parker, basically by kissing her by surprise. He had been glad to know that Miss Parker had let herself go and admitted her true feelings; and he had also shared Jarod’s feelings when he had spoken about Catherine’s house and the DSAs they had found in the attic.
“Your mother…she wanted us to find them. And she wanted us to join you again, brother.”
“I know. That’s what she told me every day in the last couple of months.” Ethan explained, closing his eyes, trying to hear her voice.
Jarod understood it was time to switch places. Now, it was the Ethan’s turn to tell him what happened to him and where he had been all that time.
“Why did you run, Ethan? We were so worried about you; your sister was getting crazy for the fear that anything would happen to you.”
Ethan opened his eyes slowly and looked at his older brother solemnly. It wouldn’t be easy to make him understand his point of view.
“Jarod…When we talked for the last time, I realized you would protect my sister with your life, if necessary. But I also knew you were looking for your mother desperately, and that you needed to see her again. I understood that, because of me, the search of Margaret had suffered a setback.”
Jarod shook his head, “It’s not different from any other day of my life. Every time I find a piece of truth, every time your sister and I succeed in answering to one question…ten others come out. That’s how the Centre works.”
Ethan knew what he meant. He was looking for answers, too, and he rarely found them.
“You were one of those secrets, but one of the good ones. I’m sorry you never met my brother, Kyle. I didn’t really get a chance to know him, either. But I loved him, and I miss him very much. It was a gift to find out that I had another brother. A gift from your mother, who was a wonderful woman.”
“This is why I left. You know, Jarod, it wasn’t easy for me to live without knowing who I really was. I wrote a few words to my sister, but I didn’t know what to say. I needed to leave; I had questions, too. And I felt I had to disappear for a while, to let things…evolve.”
Jarod was looking at him uncertain, “What do you mean, evolve?”
Ethan smiled, “Since you and Miss Parker found out about my existence, your relationship changed. She eventually accepted the fact that our mother trusted you and loved you. She found out that she knew Margaret and she started to look at you with a different attitude. To save me, you joined forces and got closer. The voices had already told me. So, I felt that your connection was getting stronger.”
“Actually it wasn’t getting stronger, it just…reignited, again.” Jarod pointed out.
“Precisely! But it had to happen in that very moment, not sooner, nor later. After years of running in circles, you rebuild your relationship and it’s no coincidence if those DSAs came out now. My sister is expanding her inner sense, mostly because of you; you encouraged her, otherwise she’d never had accepted it.”
“You should have stayed, to help her understand it and improve it.”
“She didn’t need me, she just had to follow our mother’s voice.”
Jarod remembered when he had told Miss Parker the very same thing, years before.
Her voice is inside you
Back then, he couldn’t actually know how much those words were true.
“What did you do on your own?”
“I hid and thought, a lot. I tried to follow my mother’s will; she encouraged me to reconcile with my past to face my future. I cannot change what happened when I was younger. Mr. Raines kept me hostage all my life. But I’ve changed, because of you. I can use my gift to help people. I’d love to do help you, too, big bro.”
Jarod smiled, “We will, Ethan!” he said, patting him dearly, “Right now we’ve got to finish a very important work, and we only do it together.”
“My mother’s plan.” Ethan continued, while Jarod nodded.
“Miss Parker and I will work together to destroy The Centre, once and for all. No more secrets, no more pretenders, no more prophecies…”
To the sound of that word, Ethan put a hand to his temple, hearing the voices increasing in intensity. He felt disoriented and started to moan with pain.
“Ethan!”
“It’s…nothing…”
Actually the young man was shivering, and when Jarod touched his forehead, he felt it was burning, just as Miss Parker’s the night before.
Were these just consequences of the inner sense, or was it something else, something more dangerous?
“We’ve gotta get out of here.” Jarod whispered, noticing that people not far from them were looking their way. “Can you walk?”
Ethan nodded with difficulty but kept walking. Jarod headed in the direction of his car, hoping that his brother would make it.



Raines hated Sydney because he had the luck to be Jarod’s trainer, but mostly because he often antagonized him. Sydney was the cause of Gemini’s escape and Raines suspected that he had helped Jarod setting Ethan free, the most precious project he ever had. But this time, Raines knew that Sydney couldn’t interfere anymore; there was no more Mr. Parker to act as a mediator. He had the power in his hands. If Sydney was still breathing, it was just not to lose the feeble connection between Jarod and the Centre, in the hope that one day they would succeed in catching him.
Sydney entered the office of the man who had hampered him the most in the last decades. Sure, the psychiatrist never had a great relation with Mr. Parker, but Raines had always been his nemesis.
The new chairman sat at his desk, contemplating Sydney’s theatrical entry in amazement.
“What brings you to my door, Sydney?” he asked with his hoarse voice, which made him sound like a cartoon-villain.
“I know you and Lyle are up to something, but I’m here for something different. Something involving my children.”
Raines smiled, “Your children?” he asked, laughing. “And when did you start considering yourself as mother hen, Sydney? What about the professional detachment?”
Sydney replied, “You and I…we never stood each other, but you know how much I care about Jarod and Miss Parker. It’s useless to go on and pretend that I don’t.”
Raines would love to answer in kind, but he could not show his hand, yet.
“What do you want?” he asked with arrogance.
“I want to know everything about Project Mind Rain.”
To Raines, that question felt like a ice water bucket over his back. How could Sydney possibly have found out about that project? And why was he bringing it up in after all those years?
“I want to make things easy for you, Raines.” Syd remarked through clenched teeth and bending on his desk. “Tell me what it was and who authorized it…And I’ll avoid persuading Miss Parker to finish the work she started when she discovered Catherine’s murderer.”
Raines didn’t fear Sydney’s threats, and he knew that Miss Parker would never kill him, she didn’t have the guts. But in the end, Mind Rain was a project terminated years before. It wouldn’t hurt if he spoke about it. And most of all, the three stooges would be committed to another hunt throughout the past, instead of the future.


At the same moment, Miss Parker was in the corridor she had been watching through the surveillance video. Broots was at her side and, as usual, he was shivering from head to toe.
“Broots, don’t be a chicken.” she taunted him.
“If they find us, it’s the end, Miss Parker.”
“Then try not to chatter your teeth, or they’ll hear you.”
Hidden behind a wall, they were waiting for their chance to get through the armored door. Broots had created a loop for the cameras, they had ten minutes to act. Sydney was in Raines’s office to distract him, allowing Broots and Parker to look for the baby. Miss Parker couldn’t accept the thought that they were exploiting her little brother, who wasn’t even two years old, yet. Every time she had seen him, before he got secluded, she had felt a strong connection to him. Since she had helped Brigitte giving birth, actually.
The last time she had visited him, they had played, and she had noticed that he had two beautiful brown eyes that reminded her vaguely of Jarod’s, maybe because he also had that lost-puppy look.    
A technician came out of a room and walked to the door, giving Miss Parker the opportunity she was waiting for. She and Broots flattened themselves against the wall, waiting for the man to leave the corridor. As soon as he opened the door, Parker and Broots infiltrated the corridor in silence, trying not to get noticed. When the door closed behind them, Broots dried the sweat from his forehead and sighed in relief, while Miss Parker dragged him with her.    


“I don’t understand why you want to reopen cases buried years ago, Sydney.”
“Indulge me, will you?” he answered, ironically.
“In the end, Mind Rain started because of you, Sydney. We all told you that you were too indulgent, with those children. You always let Miss Parker wander freely inside The Centre to make friends with Jarod, you even allowed them to play together!”
“I wasn’t the one who let the girl in here!” he replied, furious.
“A mistake made by a weak woman and carried out by her husband.” Raines was referring to Catherine. “But I was a witness, too. Children that often escaped our control, sometimes they managed to discover secrets they weren’t supposed to ever find out.”
“Like Faith.” Sydney interrupted him.
“If it were for me, Miss Parker would have never set foot inside The Centre anymore, after her SIM with Jarod. We wanted to find out the effects of a girl on a pretender, but the thing got too serious a few years later.”
“It was the only possibility we had to persuade Jarod to go ahead with his simulations. And we always kept an eye on them, there were cameras everywhere!”
“Yeah” Raines continued, “And the videos were always catalogued and sent to the Triumvirate.”
“They were just kids, Raines. Jarod worked better, after spending some time in Miss Parker’s company.”  
“You have no idea.” Raines said, standing up. “What happened between those kids. You were never around, during Christmas holidays, you needed to be elsewhere, didn’t you?”
Sydney refrained from speaking. Visiting Jacob was the only freedom he took in the golden era of The Centre, when he was in charge of Jarod’s training.
“You never watched those videos. But I did, and Mr. Parker, too.”
“And what did I miss, exactly?” Sydney asked.
Raines was smiling, almost naughtily. “Two young teenagers kissing and cuddling as a couple of school sweethearts. They had to be stopped. The Triumvirate didn’t like the relationship between them, and neither did I. Mr. Parker, on the other hand, had different plans for his daughter, and the more he tried to get her far from The Centre, the less he succeeded. She cared too much for Jarod, and the thing got embarrassing.”


Miss Parker and Broots walked through the corridor, confident that the cameras wouldn’t show them. They overcame the first two doors, beyond the glasses there was anything but empty rooms. They got lucky with the third room. Behind a huge window, there was something that looked like a nursery. And Baby Parker was inside a crib, playing with some cubes.
His sister got excited when she saw him. She immediately realized how much he had grown. It didn’t look like he had mistreated. On the contrary, the boy was smiling.
“Broots, stand guard.” Miss Parker said, opening the door.
As soon as she was inside, her little brother felt her presence and turned his attention to her. She smiled and took him in her arms, noticing again those beautiful brown eyes. She didn’t know why, but something inside her push her to smell the baby’s head. She grimaced, feeling that she was getting spineless.
“Hello!” she told the baby.
“Hi!” he answered. Miss Parker was surprised when she heard him talk, but she knew that, by two years, babies start saying simple words and short sentences. Baby Parker was almost eighteen months old. He had grown so much, since the last time she had taken him in her arms.
“Mmm, you don’t have a name yet, little boy. Would you mind if I call you Michael?” she asked the baby, wondering where the hell that name had come from. Maybe she had always liked it and, unconsciously, she would have always wanted to call her son that. Assuming that she ever had a son.
“Yes!” the baby answered, smiling. Parker couldn’t figure where that lovely smile came from. How could this baby be Brigitte’s son, since he didn’t look like her at all? The more Miss Parker looked at him, the less she recognized any resemblance to Brigitte.
“I won’t allow them to hurt you, kiddo.” she whispered, putting her face next to his soft and hot little head. “You’re my brother, and I’m going to protect you. I promise.”
“Miss Parker, we gotta go!” Broots intervened, realizing that the looping time of the cameras was almost over.
“I will get back to take you away.” she said, giving the baby a kiss as she put him back to his crib.
Then she ran out the room and gave a last glance at Michael, running with Broots towards the exit of SL-19.


“The Triumvirate gave orders.” Raines told. “We had to perform Mind Rain to erase the relationship between Jarod and Miss Parker.”
Sydney thought about the mail that Broots had found.
“But what kind of project was this? Why didn’t you inform me?”
Raines smiled. “And when exactly have we ever revealed our plans for Jarod to you, since we knew that you would never agree?”
Sydney felt his hands itching and had to tighten them not to jump over Raines and punch him.
“You erased their memories, didn’t you?”
Raines wondered how in hell he had guessed, he got silent for a while. Then he continued. “It was one of the most successful experiments in the whole history of the Centre. We used a mixture of hypnosis, hallucinogens, and mental inceptions. One day they were two kids, friends for life; the following day, Miss Parker was removed of her squalid memories connected to her relationship with Jarod. We couldn’t afford getting too deep, because the memories linked to childhood were too much intense, they had to remain to preserve their brains. None of us would risk wrecking Jarod’s skills.”
“Why?” Sydney shouted. “Why did you take those memories away from them?”
“At that time we weren’t authorized to discuss orders. The Triumvirate had good reasons to separate them. In those videos, Miss Parker talked more and more about escaping, about freedom. That was unacceptable for Jarod. She was convincing him that they would run away together, that they would get old together. Their bond was a risk for Jarod’s safety, and most of all for The Centre. We had to destroy it!”
Sydney didn’t waste another second. “You’ve always been a psychopath, Raines. You took the only light Jarod ever had during those years at The Centre.”
“I thought it was the pseudo-paternal relationship with you that gave him strength, wasn’t it, Sydney?” he replied, with a malice that would have destroyed almost anyone, but not Sydney. He always took strength from his connection with Jarod, nobody could break it, not even Raines’s manipulations.
“Anyway, Mind Rain had such a positive outcome that many governments bought it and used it to erase memories from political prisoners, soldiers, troublesome persons. I must say, it was our little masterpiece.”
Sydney wanted to reveal that Jarod and Miss Parker were now remembering everything, and they had found the disks stolen from The Centre. But obviously, he couldn’t betray his pupils’ trust like that. He would have found another time to get revenge. He reached for the door.
“Why are you so interested in discovering things that happened almost thirty years ago?” Raines asked him. He couldn’t understand the man’s will to hurt himself like that.
“As you said, Raines…I’ve always had a flaw in my character. I’ve always been too much indulgent, with those kids. I won’t lie to Jarod. If he’s ever going to ask, I’ll tell him the truth. He’s got the right to know what you did to him. Not only you took his childhood, his family, his identity…You even took the memories of the only friend he ever had.”          
Raines seemed satisfied. “Miss Parker became a skillful huntress, after the training, and she never gave any sign of remembering anything. She always hated Jarod, and as far as we know she still hates him. Mind Rain is portentous.”
Sydney smiled. “So is Jarod. What are you going to do when he finds out?”
“It won’t be necessary for him to know.” Lyle voice intervened, as he got inside the office.
“You knew about this?” Sydney asked.
“This is not the right moment to complain about the past. We just received a tip on Jarod’s whereabouts. Somebody saw him in Blue Cove, he was in a park. We’re going right now, where’s Miss Parker?”
“Somebody asked for me?” she said, materializing in that very moment, followed by Broots. Her glance made Sydney understand that her mission had gone as expected.
“Your prey is waiting, let’s go!” Lyle ordered.
“What do you mean?” she asked, starting to sweat.
“Jarod was seen in a park not far from here. They say he wasn’t alone, we’re going to make a run for it, if we’re lucky, he might still be around.”   
Lyle was reaching for the door, but his colleagues were stuck. Parker couldn’t fight the nausea and she felt like she was fainting. Jarod had been identified. He was in danger.
Recognizing her symptoms, Sydney helped her. “You go ahead, I’ve got some other business here.”
Parker understood that Sydney would stay back and contact Jarod with his new mobile phone, so she regained control of herself. “Broots, let’s go, our lab rat is not likely to waste time as our Dr. Freud!”
While the group exited Raines’s office, Sydney gave him a look full of hate.
“As you see” Raines said through clenched teeth. “Miss Parker seems to be still completely subjugated. Don’t you think the truth would destroy her and make her lose that bit of trust she has in you?”
Sydney wanted to scream that Miss Parker already knew everything, he wanted to say that she had changed her life and was now together with the man they had taken away from her. But he couldn’t do that. He could just feel glad at the realization that Raines was convinced that Mind Rain had been a success.
He couldn’t know that it was becoming his greatest failure.
Sydney pretended to be pondering about his words, then answered. “I won’t tell her. But should she start remembering, one day, I won’t be the one who lies to her. Not to her, nor to Jarod!”
So said, he went out the office.
Sydney couldn’t imagine that Raines was developing a new wish.
He wanted to kill Sydney and get rid of him.
For good.



Jarod was still in the car, driving as fast as he could to reach Miss Parker’s house. Ethan lay on the passenger seat, leaning his head to the window, holding it with both his hands to moderate the ache.
“Hold on, Ethan, we’re not far!”
“Where…are…we going?” he asked him, within a moan and the other.
“Your sister’s home. We’ll be safe, there!”
At that moment Jarod’s phone rang and he took it in a hurry, answering without ceremony, “What?!”
“Jarod, thank God, I got you! Miss Parker is going to the park with Lyle and a sweeper team, somebody spotted you. You found Ethan?”
“Yes.” he answered, giving his brother a glance. “He’s not feeling well, I’m taking him home. He needs some rest.”
“I’ll let Parker know that you’re both safe. In the meantime, don’t go out and keep checking the streets, they could see you!”
“Thanks, Sydney.”


At the same time, Miss Parker was in the car with Lyle, who was driving at a frenetic speed. He was hoping to reach the park before Jarod would disappear, as usual.
Her phone rang, the official one. Miss Parker took it and answered, “What?!”
If he didn’t believe this before, Sydney realized at that precise moment that Jarod and Parker were meant for each other.
“It’s me. The situation is under control.” he said.
“All right, Sydney. We’re taking care of Jarod. I just hope he’s still there. I’m so tired of his Houdini disappearances!”
Sydney smiled to himself, thinking that those years spent at The Centre had transformed her in a very good liar. At least, for once, she was using that talent in the right way.
Miss Parker ended the call and heard her twin brother saying, “Well said, sis!”
Broots gnashed his teeth. Maybe, after all, Miss Parker could handle the situation even better than he thought.


MISS PARKER’S HOUSE
7.45 p.m.


Ethan had been sleeping for a couple of hours, now. His fever had lowered, and Jarod was relieved. For a few seconds, he had feared that it would get so worse that they would need to take Ethan to the hospital, but his brother had explained that this was a common reaction. Fever always got him when his inner sense had to deal with something very important. Jarod was now worried about Miss Parker. It was late and she hadn’t come back, yet. He hadn’t got news from her, nor Sydney.
Around the house there were no movements, Jarod had shut the windows and turned the lights off.
He was checking on Ethan’s temperature, when the entrance door opened, and a breathless Miss Parker entered the living room. Jarod looked at her without uttering a word, waiting to see if they could talk. She locked the door behind her, making him understand that now they were safe. He ran to hold her, and she hugged him tight in response, as she had never done before. That afternoon she had been really worried for him. This fear of losing the pretender felt dramatically new.
“Did you have any problems with Lyle?” Jarod asked, stroking her face rapidly, almost to check on her.
“No, he doesn’t suspect at all. Broots and I were good, Lyle was furious when we got there and we didn’t find you. By the way, where is he?” She asked, impatient to see her brother.
Jarod indicated the couch and Parker reached it, bending close to Ethan.
“What’s the matter with him?”
“I don’t know exactly. He has the same symptoms you had last night, just more intense. A very high fever and headaches.”
“Nausea?” she asked.
“Not that I know of.”
Parker wondered why she was so lucky to throw up, too, but that wasn’t the time to think about her sickness. Now Ethan was the who needed cures.
“We talked for a while.” Jarod explained. “Then he suddenly started to feel sick, the voices became insistent.”
“What were you talking about?” Parker asked, knowing that even a word could stimulate a certain status of trance.
“I was telling him about our plan. We were talking about…uhm, the future, The Centre…”
Jarod thought again about the conversation and then stared at Miss Parker as he recollected the last words he had said.
“The Scrolls…” He whispered.
Parker looked at him worried. So, Ethan’s attack had started when Jarod had mentioned the Scrolls. Surely, that was no coincidence.
“Miss Parker…” Ethan whispered.
She smiled and stroke his face, a teardrop falling from her wonderful eyes. “Ethan…I missed you so much.” she confessed.
“You too, big sister. It’s good to see you, you look beautiful, but I feel you’re also happy.”
She smiled and turned her glance to Jarod. “I reckon you guys gossiped behind my back like two girls.”
Jarod chuckled and so did Ethan. “I missed your sarcasm, Miss Parker. It’s so good to hear a voice so similar to our mother’s. Mostly because it’s not in my head, but it comes from my ears.”
“Ethan, did Jarod tell you that she…”
“Yes, he told me about the videos. Do you really think mama is still alive?”
“I’d love to…what do you feel?” she whispered, hoping in a positive answer. Ethan closed his eyes and listened to the voices, by now calm and quiet.
“It’s so difficult to understand. Her voice guided me since I was a kid, but I’ve never posed myself the question. Now, everything is different…and her voice seems clearer. I don’t know if that’s only suggestion…”
Jarod was listening in silence to that important conversation. He couldn’t interfere because he didn’t have the inner sense that the two siblings shared. But he trusted it, more than any other thing in the world.
“It’s not just suggestion. I hear it too, now.” Parker explained. “I hear it better, I mean.”
Ethan nodded and squeezed his sister’s hand.
“Rest again for a while, will you?” She asked him, with all the affection she had. Ethan smiled and closed his eyes with a nod. Jarod and Miss Parker moved discreetly towards the kitchen, where she hugged him again.
Since she needed desperately to feel his lips on hers, she kissed him.
“Mmm…you taste salty.” He whispered, making her laugh. “I like it.” He said, smiling at her.
“Jarod we need to talk. I’ve got news.”
“I’m listening…” he sighed.
“Broots and I made a visit to my brother down to SL-19. We found out that Raines and Lyle have plans for him, the same they always have.”
“Simulations…training…exploitation.” Jarod said, while a fit of anger went through his spine. Every time The Centre tried to hurt a kid, he felt his will to get vengeance getting stronger.
“Fortunately, he’s still too young. Michael is not even two years old.”
“Michael?” Jarod asked, “That’s what they named him?”
Parker was now a bit embarrassed. “Uhm, no…I thought…it would be nice for him to have a name.”
Jarod smiled at her. “After all, you’re his sister. Who better than you?”
“I was wondering if there is some…legal way to stop all of this. His mother is dead, his father is missing, I’m his only relative. I could adopt him, ask for his custody. You know the law; do I have rights, as his older sister?”
Jarod was touched by her sense of responsibility. But he knew that the problem was not the law, but The Centre.
“Lyle, Raines, the Triumvirate…they know one law, theirs. I’m afraid The Centre doesn’t have to subject itself to official rules, Parker.”
She nodded. “Then we’re doing this the old-fashioned way. We rescue him, as we’ve already done…in the past.” She concluded, glancing at her other brother, the one who was sleeping on her couch.
Jarod nodded, much more determined. “This means a declaration of war to The Centre. There’s no going back.”
Parker felt even more convinced. “We’ve found Ethan, another step forward to the end. Do you remember what my mother said?”
“That with him, we can survive. That he will help us to find them.” Jarod recited, remembering the video by heart.
“Ethan knows much more than he wants us to believe, Jarod. He might have discovered something while he was away.”
“What should we do?” He asked her.
How could they end The Centre, if they didn’t even know what those damned Scrolls said?
“Do you still have contacts at the F.B.I., Jarod?”  
“I know many agents I can trust. People I’ve worked with.” He nodded.
“Fine. It’s time to act. The Centre has powerful friends, but its strength comes from the Triumvirate. Apparently, the Triumvirate power comes from the Scrolls, or at least that’s what they believe.”
“It seems a circle. How can prophecies written hundreds of years ago control our destiny?” He asked her, in rage.
“Do you remember what my father said? The important thing is that they believe. If they found them, if they found my father…Well, then they read them and interpreted the texts.”
Jarod shook his head. “I don’t think we should only be talking about Scrolls and prophecies, but also of real life and sins of The Centre. Do you know how many projects are paid directly from the Government or the Army? We can’t expose the ones behind them, I’ve been trying for years!”
“In fact, the only way we have to destroy them is to make it collapse from the inside, with the help of persons that we can trust.”
Jarod was very proud of Parker. After all the years spent as a chess piece of The Centre, manipulated and lied to, she had finally realized the truth.
“They destroyed our lives, the lives of dozens of families, Jarod. But they made the mistake to underestimate us. We still have proof of their misdeeds, it’s all in your videos. Now, we must get to the Triumvirate, uncover its business. To help us, the F.B.I. must be in the right place at the right time, when we bring everything to light.”
Jarod got more serious. “Have you thought…that those videos could lead to Sydney’s involvement? Without counting all the laws Broots has broken to find me.”
Parker was wordless. She had never considered their pursuit from that point of view.
“Why do you think I’ve never spoken about The Centre to the authorities? Why do you think I never gave those DSAs to the police? I couldn’t allow Syd, Broots, or you…to get hurt. You’re victims of The Centre as much as I am, but the police wouldn’t understand that.”
Parker nodded imperceptibly. “Well, we’re going to think about it when it’s time, Boy Wonder. Now I need some rest, because my head is exploding.”
Suddenly Jarod remembered that she wasn’t feeling well the night before. “Did you have any other nausea attacks, today?”
“A bit, it happens to me every time I see Raines walking across The Centre corridors.”
Jarod stopped her, ignoring her irony for once and taking her chin with his right hand. “Don’t neglect yourself, Parker.”
“I’m fine, Jarod. And now, let’s go to bed. But you must be aware that I have no intention to give you any attention, not with my brother sleeping under our same roof.”
Jarod smiled. “Our brother…” He specified. “Who is a grown-up…” He continued, kissing her neck, and holding her. “…as well as deeply asleep thanks to the gentle sedative I gave him to make him rest better.”
Parker smiled. “You’re an evil genius.” She whispered, letting him kiss her.
“Well, everybody has a dark side. And mine always turns up, when it’s up to you.”

End Notes:

Still waiting for reviews, they help a lot, you know!

Chapter 8: The Scrolls by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Time to know what the Scrolls said...

As always, comments are really appreciated. And please, forgive my lack of English!

Thanks to Antoinette for the usual help in the translation!

The day after, Jarod woke up holding Miss Parker. She was still sleeping and resting peacefully on his body, with her hands in his and their fingers intertwined. His feelings were too difficult to explain; he looked at her with endless love in his eyes. He put his hand on her belly, wondering how beautiful it would be if, one day, there was a baby inside of it. It was the first time in his life he found himself hoping to have a child; he had always been too much busy looking for his family to think about creating a family on his own. But now she was part of the equation; the only wish he had was having a chance of seeing Miss Parker carrying a child. He smiled, wondering what she would say if she actually heard him talking like that. She would think he was crazy and probably make fun of him for hours.

So, Jarod stood up and went downstairs, where he found Ethan in the kitchen, already awake and full of enthusiasm. He was making breakfast for all of them and he seemed to have completely recovered.
“I see you feel better, little bro!”
“Because of you, Jarod. Call my sister, I would like us to eat together, as a real family.”
“We need to talk, Ethan.” The pretender clarified, thinking about the conversation that had been interrupted the day before.
“I know. Pancakes first.” Ethan answered, smiling. Feeling their smell, Jarod couldn’t help but accept his proposal. He ran upstairs to wake up his dream girl. She was still asleep, but he succeeded in making her open her eyes by kissing her forehead, then moving a hair lock behind her ears.
“Ethan cooked for us, Parker. Don’t make him wait.” He whispered to her ear.
“Jarod!” she screamed, jumping to sit in bed.
“What?” he asked, a bit worried.
“I was dreaming.” she said, taking his hand and squeezing it.
“It was a nightmare, Parker. I thought they had disappeared, since we have gotten together.”
“It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a…feeling.” She explained.
“What feeling?” Ethan asked, appearing at the door. Parker was fortunately wearing her petticoat.
“I’ve dreamed of you…and Michael.”
“Michael?” Ethan asked. Then he closed his eyes, listening to the voices. “Your father’s…baby?”
She nodded. Then she continued, looking at Jarod intensely. “The three of us were together, we were smiling.”
“That doesn’t seem such a bad dream, does it?” Jarod asked, stroking her face.
“No. But suddenly everything changed: Michael was taken away from Raines…And I had to make a choice. Losing you or him. And they…took you away!”
Even if Jarod knew that it was just a dream, he felt a bit disappointed at the thought of Parker choosing the baby over him. Then he remembered that this was just her subconscious, so he calmed down.
“It seemed so real…As if it was a…”
“Premonition?” Ethan asked.
Parker nodded. Her brother was the only one who could understand her. Ethan sat on a chair and sighed. The moment to reveal them the secret he had kept for months had finally come.
“I’ve had it too.”
“What?” Jarod asked.
“The same dream. I dreamed of you and a baby, the same choice to make. This is another reason why I left, I feared the baby might be a mental processing and that I was the baby. But it wasn’t me…the baby is a person…it’s your brother…”
The voices overloaded Ethan’s mind, but also Miss Parker’s. They didn’t understand what they were saying, but one thing was certain. He’s not your brother.
Ethan and Miss Parker looked at each other in worry. Jarod couldn’t realize what they were trying to communicate to each other.
Why just then? Parker had held Michael in her arms many times, she had visited him, she had delivered him. Why she hadn’t felt anything, before? Maybe because she didn’t know about her gift yet, she hadn’t felt it grow inside her. In the last months, instead, her inner sense had got the upper hand, starting to guide her in making choices, in finding the answers. And Ethan’s presence surely had increased the gift they shared, inherited from their mother. It was so powerful for Ethan that it was affecting Miss Parker, too, and it made her a more efficient catalyst.
“What’s going on?”
 “Jarod. Michael is not my brother.”
“But how could that be?” he asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to find the truth about that baby. Too much time I’ve asked myself if Mr. Parker was his real father, but now I’m also wondering…if Brigitte was his biological mother.”
“You’re afraid they made an embryo implantation that came from someone else?”
Parker listened to the voices again. “I don’t believe it, I’m sure. And we must know everything about him. He may not be my brother, but that baby is under my duty, now. I won’t abandon him.”
“Neither will I.” Jarod gave her support.
“Count on me.” Ethan whispered.


After Breakfast, Ethan started to do the dishes, as if he wanted to escape his siblings’ inquisitive questions. But Miss Parker hadn’t got time to waste anymore; before going back to The Centre, she needed to know what Ethan knew about the Scrolls.
“Ethan…” she stopped him, taking him by his wrist. “I know this won’t be easy for you, but you must help us.”
The young man sighed, he had known that moment would come all along. He had to tell his siblings the truth. A truth that had been neglected to them for a very long time.
Jarod was looking at him exactly like Miss Parker: They were so waiting for him to spill his guts, but without forcing him to talk, if he didn’t feel like it.
“Let’s sit.” he said to them.
The three siblings sat in the living room, Ethan took place on the armchair, while the couple sat on the couch.
“When I left, I did it because the voices were leading me to do so. I knew our mother wanted me to leave you alone to allow the two of you to get closer again.”
Parker looked at Jarod by her side. They were thinking the same thing: with Ethan around, they would have never left for Carthis. And certainly they would never have the chance to let their real feelings flow as it happened on the island.
“I don’t blame you, it was destiny. And mine was to leave and find out what destiny had in store for us.”
“You’re talking…” Jarod asked, leaning over him. “About the Scrolls?”
Ethan nodded hastily, starting to contrast the voices. He had to hold on and face that conversation once and for all.
“When I heard about your trip to Europe, I did some research on them. I spent hours hacking the secret archives of The Centre, I wanted to discover the exact location of the Triumvirate.”
“No one knows, Ethan.” Miss Parker interrupted him. “Not even my father, neither Raines.”
Ethan shook his head. “I had to find out…Your father jumped from that plane because he knew he was flying over a specific place…”
Jarod tried to remember the excited moments that had taken to that emergency landing.


“Auto-control is down. We're gonna have to fly the rest of way manually. Electronics are gone, which means no gauges and no landing gear!”
Parker gave a worried look at the stricken control panel.
“These are the latest coordinates the flight computer printed out. Use those numbers to find a matching landing area!”
“Got one. Moguai Airport, Morocco…Can you make that?”
“I better…”


“We were flying over Morocco.” Jarod recalled.
Ethan nodded. “Mr. Parker knew that. That’s why he jumped right there. He had a parachute, so I started to convince myself that he could have survived…and that he had premeditated everything.”
Miss Parker fell silent, thinking about the dramatic moment she had seen the man she believed to be her father for the last time.
“You reckon the real Triumvirate station base is in Morocco?”
“The voices led me towards that conclusion.”
Now Jarod couldn’t believe his ears. “You went to Morocco? Alone?”
He almost felt like a big brother giving him a lecture because he had come home too late. But he didn’t really need to: Ethan was a pretender, just like him. And moreover, he had his inner sense, which never abandoned him and protected him from danger.
“A boring trip.” Ethan explained, trying to minimize.
“Why didn’t you call us? We would have come with you.” Parker intervened, a bit resentful for the little trust her brother had demonstrated in her.
“I told you, sis, that wasn’t the right time. I felt I had to do it on my own. And believe me, it was worth it.”
Ethan stood up and took the backpack he never got separated from. Back to his place, he opened it in front of them and took out a satellite picture. It showed what seemed like a fortress in the desert.
Jarod took those papers and looked at them carefully. “How did you find its exact location? I’ve been trying for years!”
“Hours and hours of research…And a good deal of help from mama’s voice.”
Jarod was almost envious of the prodigious gift those two people had. Besides his superior mind, he couldn’t feel like them. Miss Parker guessed immediately his inner conflict, and put an arm on his shoulders. “On the island your pretending skills were enough to make us find the Scrolls, weren’t they?” She said, cheering him up. He was very grateful to her, in that moment.
“The fortress is patrolled night and day by dozens of trained soldiers, they’re mere mercenaries. Inside, there are many sublevels, just like The Centre. And prisons, and torture-rooms.”
Parker winced. “You’re talking like you were still there.”
“Not personally, but when I got inside the fortress, I felt…the pain…the suffering…”
Ethan stopped for a moment, clenching his fists to resist the memories of what he had suffered in Africa. Miss Parker touched his hands and invited him to calm down.
“I had to know what the Scrolls say. The voices kept telling me that they couldn’t be down in the ocean.”
“And you found them?” Jarod asked, at the highest level of curiosity. He was inpatient as a child waiting for his favorite cartoon to air on tv.   
Ethan smiled. He took another sequence of pictures, this time taken by himself. They were photos of the Scrolls, page after page.
“Ethan…How could you possibly do this?” Miss Parker asked him, not believing her brother’s courage – recklessness?
“It was no picnic, believe me.”
Jarod and Parker started looking one picture at time. The Propechies were, in fact, common papyrus rolls not bigger than a normal A4 piece of paper. They were written in English, printed with movable types, with a gothic font.
“The first part expands upon the secrets of human power. They say that power can be gained with control, and that only control can govern a civil and pacific world.” Ethan explained.
“That sound very much like a tyranny.” Miss Parker whispered, not believing what she was reading.
“And in fact…” Jarod echoed her. “Here comes The Centre.”

The Centre shall rise.

A shiver went down Jarod’s spine.
“It describes exactly the birth and rise of the Centre. How your great-grandfather would come to United States to pursue a change in the society, thanks to the foundation of the place that would allow him to gain control.”  
“What kind of sick mind would conceive such a thing?” she asked through clenched teeth. Ethan had thought the same thing, when he had read them.
“Then it expands upon The Centre duties…To raise superior minds…Train genius to lead the purer races.” Jarod read, loath visible on his face.
“Nazism ante litteram” Miss Parker commented sharply.
Jarod suddenly opened his eyes wide.
“What?” She asked.

The Chosen will be found,
a boy named Jarod
will gain absolute power.

“With this we can say goodbye to your inferiority complex towards Ethan!”
Ethan chuckled to himself. He was so proud of his sister, who didn’t show any signs of fear for what she was reading. But she hadn’t seen it all, yet.
“So I should be like…a chosen one, a leader that should take The Centre to…absolute power?!”  
“Jarod…you are.” Ethan explained.
“I don’t have anything to do with The Centre!” he replied, feeling outraged.
“Ethan is right, sweetheart….” and Jarod immediately melted when he felt her hand stroking tenderly his nape and her voice calling him that way. “You were The Centre most valued experiment for years. They obtained power and recognition because of your simulations…”
“They sold what I thought up to make money and kill innocent people!” Jarod shouted.
“I know, but you must admit…” She whispered “that those damn Scrolls…had foreseen it!”
He snorted and came back to his reading. Finally something caught his attention.
“Parker…look…”

The Chosen will escape The Centre.
A girl will be charged with taking him back.  
The Angel will chase, the Chosen will run.

“Well…this explains many things…” she commented, with a tear rolling down her pale cheeks.
Jarod held her tenderly, while Ethan sat in silence and discretion.
“I can’t believe some fanatics bastards who lived centuries ago had foreseen our future…This doesn’t make any sense!”
“Few things in our lives ever made sense, Jarod. That is why I’m here, sitting with my brother and my sister, who are a couple…of lovers…”
Jarod had to admit Ethan was right. He had lived a whole life in mystery, this was just one among the others.
“It’s not over, Jarod…There’s still the last page, the more important…”
Both Parker and the pretender read the last part of the Scrolls.

The Angel will fall for the Chosen  
and they will cooperate to destroy The Centre.
Eventually they will succeed
because without the help of the Angel,
the Chosen won’t prevail.
 
“I don’t know if I should feel cheered up or disgusted.” Jarod commented. The answer came when she squeezed his hand, letting him know the emotion she felt in reading those words. They summarized what they had understood in the very last days: Jarod could never do anything to destroy The Centre on his own. But together, they could be lethal.

The last hope for the Centre
will be their legacy.
Born within The Centre,
final means to make it rise again.

The text was over. There was nothing else.
“Their legacy…” Miss Parker commented. She thought again about her father’s words.


“Daddy, are you just gonna leave me here to die?”
“No, no, you'll be all right. That's not how they say it ends.”
The man had reached the cargo hold door.
“Wait! Daddy, I have to know. Are you my real father?” She had asked him, with the little hope that he finally would say the truth. Jarod was waiting, as curious as her.
“I love you as my daughter. That's all that counts! Don't be sad. The new Parker legacy begins with you. God be with you, Angel…”


“Your father read the Scrolls, I convinced him to. He knew what they said, he knew that you and I would become one thing…he knew we would destroy The Centre.”
“And he probably knew what legacy the prophecies talk about.” She continued, for him.
“A dangerous legacy…” Ethan interrupted.
Miss Parker looked at her brother for the first time after a few minutes. He was right. What could they have left behind at The Centre? A project? Memories?
“A legacy born within The Centre…final means to make it rise again…” Jarod read again, out loud.
“Any idea of what this could mean?” she asked.
“No, but we’ll find out.” he concluded.
“And that’s not all.” Ethan took the floor again. “The Scrolls are not the only thing I’ve found in the fortress: Mr. Parker was there, too.”
Miss Parker couldn’t believe her ears. So he was alive. The man who had wanted to control her fate for years, the man who had caused her mother’s departure, the tyrant that probably had ordered Tommy’s murder…He was still alive.
She didn’t know how to react to the news. She had felt relief, for a moment, when she had realized that Mr. Parker wouldn’t ruin her life anymore. But she was wrong.
“Was he fine?” Jarod asked, indulging her conflicting feelings. He knew that she still cared about that man, deeply inside, and that she feared for his life.
“As far as I could ascertain, yes, he was…I couldn’t set him free, they kept him in a highly controlled room.”
“Well, what an ironical fate for the man who controlled you both for decades.” She commented sarcastically.
Ethan sighed. He knew that he would never want to find himself in the shoes of those who had wronged his sister, for she seemed very vindictive.
“We’ll take care of him later, now the important thing is interpreting the prophecies…And make them come true, at least for the part where they talk about the destruction of the Centre.”
“And what about the last part? We pretend it doesn’t exist?” Parker asked, more and more sarcastically.
Jarod ignored her tone. “We find out all we can about this legacy. If the Triumvirate interpreted the prophecies, they’re going to do all they can to make me go back to The Centre, so that I cannot destroy it. But at the same time, they might want to make you inoffensive.”
“Maybe they don’t know the petname my father gave me!” she replied.
“With Mr. Parker as a prisoner? I don’t think so, Angel.” Jarod teased her.
“Ok.” she stopped him, squeezing her eyes and touching her forehead. “Broots, Sydney and I are getting to work. But in the meantime, you both must leave Blue Cove!”
A choir of not much comprehensible complains arose towards her. None of the men in that room wanted to leave her, now that she needed them so much.
“No way, Parker!”
“I’m not leaving, sis!”
“Jarod, Ethan. It’s too dangerous for you to stay here!”
“So it is for you. You should get away with me, leave The Centre. Guess what they could do, if the Triumvirate really fears the influence you might have on me!”
“At The Centre, nobody knows about us but Sydney and Broots. I won’t allow Lyle or Raines find out! But the more you stay here, the more you put us all in danger!”
Jarod sighed, Ethan fell silent. Miss Parker was right, if The Centre decided to put her under surveillance, it would be the end. They would soon find out that they were cooperating, and maybe they would imprison them, or worse, kill them. Ethan, on the other hand, knew he was a treat that Raines was still hoping to catch. He had unleashed his sweepers all around the country, to find him.    
“It’s a deal. You’re taking Ethan to your family’s house, and until further orders you must stay with them.”
“Parker.” Jarod whispered.
Feeling he was in their way, Ethan cleared his throat. “Uhm…I’ll go pack my things.” he said, giving his siblings some privacy.
Jarod tried to take Parker by her hands, but she pushed him away with a gesture.
“Jarod, please.” she implored him.
“I can’t leave you, not now that we’re so close to finding the truth!”
“It’s necessary, Jarod. If we want those prophecies to come true, if we want that future together to come true…We must part, for now.”
“What am I going to do? I can’t be very helpful far from The Centre!”
“Of course you can. You’re the only one who can penetrate their defenses, you’ve always been able to hit them, even when you were gone.”
“But now it’s different. If anything should happened to you…I could never forgive myself.”
“No, I could never forgive myself, if anything happened to you!” She replied. “I’ve already lost one man I loved because I didn’t send him away in time, Jarod. I won’t make the same mistake again.”
Jarod felt that the situation was completely different from what had happened to Tommy. But was it, really? He was begging Miss Parker to leave with him, just like Thomas. He was imploring her to choose him over The Centre. But the time hadn’t come yet.
“Promise me you’ll call everyday.” He gave up, leaning his forehead against hers.
“Every hour, if it’s necessary.” She answered.
“Promise you’ll be careful.”
“I’ll keep my eyes open.”
“Tell me that when it’s over, we can finally be together.”
“Forever, if it’s up to me, boy Wonder!”
Jarod kissed her, passing on to her on all the rage he was feeling in that moment. He had succeeded in convincing her that he had to come back, and now she was the one convincing him to leave for their own good.
“You’ve got too much ascendancy over me.” He revealed to her.
“Call it payback.” She joked.
Jarod saw Ethan rejoined them, so he understood it was time to say goodbye. His brother hugged Miss Parker, the voices accompanied them both in sweet words of hope. We’ll find each other.
“Be careful, Miss Parker.”
“Take care of him. Lately he has developed the bad habit of giving in to instinct more than rationality.” She softly said to Ethan, but in a way that Jarod could hear her. The pretender smiled sadly.
“I’ll keep in mind.” Ethan agreed.
Miss Parker observed the two most important men of her life going away together, leaving her alone. Again. She couldn’t let them see how weak she felt, she would have wanted to cry. So, she did the only thing she could: she took her jacket and left for The Centre, where she would find comfort in the only two friends she had.

End Notes:

Still waiting for reviews, they help a lot, you know!
What do you think about the Scrolls? ;)

Chapter 9: Fatherhood by missparker87
Author's Notes:
This chapter features secrets to be finally revealed and a confrontation between two siblings. Twin siblings, to be exact.

As always, comments are really appreciated. And please, forgive my lack of English!

Thanks to Antoinette for the usual help in the translation!

THE CENTRE

9.29 a.m.

When Miss Parker entered her office, she found a little circus waiting for her. Broots was working at his computer, as always, while Sydney was following Angelo’s random acts, for he was running around in evident anxiety.

“What’s going on with him?”

“Miss Parker…Jarod…Danger!”

“He’s been repeating those words for an hour, now.”

“Angelo…” she said, taking his face between her hands. “I know. We both know. Don’t worry, Jarod and I are ready. But you must stop, because I need you to calm down and be clear-headed!” she said with all the calm she still had. Angelo seemed to melt at her touch, and he grimaced, almost smiling.

“Very good, Angelo.” she whispered, stroking his face.

Sydney and Broots were still staring at her, intrigued by that unusual maternal attitude of hers.

“There are interesting developments. We need to talk!” she said to both of them.

“Talk about what?” a very familiar voice said.

“None of your business, Lyle, get out of my office!” Parker shouted at him. 

Her brother, instead of listening to her, got closer. “I was looking for Angelo. I want to use him for something.”

“He’s not an object!” Sydney complained.

“Come on, Syd, let my brother have fun with our little monster!” she silenced him. Sydney was confused. Why the sudden change of attitude towards Angelo? But the empath didn’t seem to care, instead, he was smiling.

“Take him out of here, and if you find anything tell me. I’ve got some unfinished business with Jarod, and I don’t wanna let him flee for the millionth time!”  

Lyle seemed surprised by the hate his sister put in those words. He had never seen her more determined in the last years. So, he dragged Angelo out of her office and left the Three Little Pigs on their own.

“Would you mind explaining?” Broots asked, still ashamed for her acting. 

Miss Parker sighed and sat on the couch, feeling an incoming nausea attack.

“I had to get rid of him, and he must believe I’m still hunting Jarod…It would be a disaster, should they find out about our relationship.”

When he heard Miss Parker talking openly about a relationship with Jarod, Broots understood how much times had changed. 

“We spoke with Ethan…for a long time…” she started.

“Tell us everything.” Sydney invited her.

The next half hour was spent talking. Miss Parker told them about her brother’s trip to Africa, about the prophecies, about her father surviving to the jump, about Jarod’s departure. She revealed them everything that she had discovered, because they had the right to know, and they were the only ones she could trust, now that Jarod and Ethan had left. When she was over, she noticed astonishment in Broots’s eyes and resignation in Sydney’s. 

“Miss Parker…Are you…a-afraid?” Broots asked her.

“Yes.” She admitted. “But there’s no space for fear. It’s time to find the answers.”

“Where do we start?”

“From Michael’s identity. I know now that he’s not my brother, so I want the truth. I feel responsible for him, even if I don’t know why.”

“Your bond with him probably derives from the fact you helped with his birth, you were close to him before they isolated him. After all, you were sure he was your father and Brigitte’s son.” Sydney explained.

Once again the voices stunned her. He is not your brother.

“Broots, I know I’m asking a lot. But you must run some DNA test on the kid, is it possible?”

Sydney and Broots stared at each other. “When we were looking for information about your biological father, we also found some placenta and cord blood samples from the baby.”

“Great. Nothing better than a prenatal-viscera-cocktail to discover where Michael comes from.”

Even if Sydney thought her connection to the baby was touching, he sensed her anxiety. He knew that little baby meant a lot to her.

“Get to work, Broots, compare the baby’s DNA even to the Pope’s, if necessary.”

“All right, Miss Parker.”

So said, Broots got out. Sydney was looking at her and wondering if this was the right time to tell her about his conversation with Raines.

“I feel you’re hiding something from me.” she said, as if she was reading in his mind.

“Your inner sense is getting better and better.”

“Just intuition.”

Their laugh suddenly faded.

“I spoke to Raines. He told me everything about Mind Rain…It was the Triumvirate that ordered your memories to be deleted and the consequent separation of you and Jarod from one another.”

Parker had tears to her eyes. So, it was true.

“He admitted that they were afraid that your intent to run away together and leave The Centre would come true. You were a risk for The Centre safety. So they…”

“Brainwashed us.” she ended.

“A few hallucinogens, hypnosis and drugs were enough to do the trick…God only knows what they did to induce you to forget everything.”

And then Miss Parker started to smile. “Not really everything…”

Sydney smiled too, and he caressed her arms.


JACKSONVILLE - Florida

6.56 p.m.

Jarod and Ethan had arrived home. Even if the pretender had still difficulty in calling it so, but how could he possibly define the place where his father, sister and little brother lived?

He had thought a lot about the meaning of “home”, lately, and he had realized that maybe Tommy was right when he confessed him that it was only Miss Parker’s eyes, where he felt home. He’d been gone for just a few hours, but he was missing her too damn much. He couldn’t focus, the thought about her absence was consuming him. 

“How is she?” Jesse asked.

“Fine, Jes. Miss Parker is a strong and stubborn woman, she doesn’t fear anything. Or at least she doesn’t show…”

Ethan smiled, thinking that one day the boy in front of him would become a replica of his brother. And yet, he felt he was a very different person. His will to abstract himself from the way the others saw him was leading him into becoming a special and unique individual, very different from Jarod. And that was a very pleasant sensation, for his inner sense.

Major Charles had welcomed Ethan with serenity and affection, commenting that he’d never dreamed to have a third son, it was like a blessing to him. Emily was glad to have finally found the object of her lifetime research. Now, she was feeling that her family was starting to be complete, and Margaret was the only missing piece to finish the puzzle. Jarod left the conversation with the others and moved outside to the garden, where he took his phone. The moment had come to make a very important call. 

“Agent Zane!”

“Agent Andrea Zane! How are you?” Jarod asked, sincerely glad to hear the woman who had been a colleague for a few days while he was hunting Alex.

“Jarod Morse. Was that your last name, in the end?” she asked, sarcastically.

“You haven’t found out yet? I thought you were NSA!”

Andrea laughed again. “To what do I owe this honor, Jarod?”

“I need your help, Zane.”

She sat more comfortably on her chair. “After what you did for us, Jarod, whatever it is that you need, I’m going to help.”

“Are you sitting?”

She smiled. “Yes, I am, why?”

“It’s going to be a long story.”


 

Ethan joined Jarod on the porch. Jarod hadn’t eaten anything, and he had been on his own the whole night. His father explained that his son usually behaved like that; when he needed to think, he retired somewhere, alone with his own thoughts.

“You miss her, don’t you?” he asked.

Jarod smiled sadly, tightening his arms to his chest.

“Me too. But we did the right thing, Jarod. She’s safe, I feel it.”

“You - You’d feel if she needed any help, wouldn’t you?” Jarod asked him, wondering how much the inner sense bonded the siblings.

“I believe so. Even if sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish between her voice and mama’s. They’re almost the same.”

“I know.”

The brothers were silent for a few minutes, then Ethan gave in to his curiosity. “Who did you call before dinner?”

“It was the NSA agent I’ve worked with while I was hunting Alex, Andrea Zane. I know I can count on her.”

“You told her the truth about The Centre?”

Jarod snorted. “I would have sent her a ticket to the madhouse. I just asked her to begin an investigation about a ghost-society set in Delaware, to find its links with the Government and other huge private companies. I sent her some documentation and asked her to take a look at it. I also explained that it is a place the existence of which almost everybody is unaware, and that it has a façade as a research centre.”

“Well, that is the truth, from a certain point of view.” Ethan noticed.

“I know.” Jarod laughed “I told her that I heard rumors about children being kidnapped during the sixties, that there were many unexplainable disappearances in the Blue Cove area. I asked her to open an investigation.”

“Did she accept?”

“She couldn’t help it. She owes me a couple of favors, and the material I sent her will make her understand that she did the right thing. We also need the governmental authorities to investigate about The Centre, Ethan. They must be ready when the moment comes.”

Ethan nodded slowly. But when would the right moment arrive?


 

THE CENTRE

11.34 p.m.

Miss Parker was sleeping on her couch. She kept dreaming about Raines threatening to take Michael away from her, obliging her to choose between him and Jarod. But she felt like if she was missing a puzzle piece. She saw her possibility to choose, but she couldn’t look beyond to understand the implications of her choice.

Sydney came into her office, wondering why she was still there. 

“Miss Parker. Why don’t you go home?”

She shook her head slightly, without answering. Sydney guessed that she was feeling lonely, so he sat next to her.

“I don’t want to…go home…and find it empty, Sydney. I can’t stand loneliness anymore.”

Noticing that she was almost crying, the shrink asked himself how much Jarod had affected his protégée’s behavior.

“It’s ok to miss him, Parker.” he whispered, trying to cheer her up.

“I’ve never relied on anyone, Sydney. And now here I am, looking at my phone in the hope of it ringing. I’m not a fifteen-year-old-teenager in heat, damn it!”

Sydney smiled at her reaction. Were symptoms of love struggle, the ones Parker was feeling?

“Go home.” he suggested.

“I can’t. Broots is still here, he’s running those tests for me…Unfortunately, comparing DNA matches is as easy as to find an Oriental woman that my brother Lyle hasn’t tasted, yet.”

When she realized how macabre that sounded, Parker felt nausea surfacing again. Sydney noticed that and put a hand on her shoulder. “Did you take something, for your ulcer?”

She shook her head. “I’ve never had these symptoms before. I believe it’s stress caused by my inner sense, or at least this is what Jarod thinks.”

Sydney tried to think what kind of illness had nausea as symptoms, but he was stopped when a tired Broots entered the office.

“Miss Parker.” he seemed upset.

“Finally, Broots!” she snapped at him, standing up.

But the computer genius was silent, he was sweating. Evidently he had found out something interesting.

“Were you able to run the DNA tests on Michael’s placenta and cord samples?”

Broots paused for a moment, then he nodded, without uttering a word.

“What’s the matter?” she asked him, a bit upset by his hesitation.

“First, I made a comparison between the baby’s DNA and your father’s, and I noticed at once that he couldn’t be his son at all.”

“Score for me.” she whispered; even if she already knew it, she felt nauseated.

“Then I went to The Centre bodily fluid storage facility. I found Brigitte’s blood. After more tests, I came to the conclusion that she couldn’t be Michael’s mother.”

Now Parker was shivering. Something inside her started to move, and the voices also started to burst. Sydney noticed her change of mood, but didn’t intervene. 

“So he is not my brother. Don’t tell me he’s another clone, please.” Miss Parker whispered, with faint voice. 

Broots rubbed one hand on his bald and sweated forehead. “He’s not a clone…not really…they used Brigitte as surrogate mother, but they implanted an embryo created from the union of an egg fertilized with some liquid-”

“I know where babies come from, Broots! Get to the point!” she lashed out, feeling like flaring up.

“Well…in the bodily fluid storage I also found…a sample of Jarod’s seminal fluid, the one they used to create his clone, Gem-”

“His name is Jesse, Broots!” she stopped him promptly. She didn’t want to hear that boy called in no other way, if not by his name.

“Well…it matches.” Broots cut out.

Sydney sighed.

“Meaning?” Miss Parker, asked, not wanting to understand what her colleague was saying to her.

“Jarod is…Michael’s biological father…they used his fluid to fertilize the egg.”

Parker was disgusted, once again. She didn’t know how to react to that news. How could she possibly tell Jarod that there was another one of his clones around?

“And that’s not all.” Broots continued.

“What could be worse?” she asked.

“The egg…well, you know…Michael’s DNA…it matches exactly to his mother’s…” 

“What an unpredictable discovery!” she replied, almost causing Sydney to laugh. “And who is the fortunate one whose eggs were stolen to inseminate Brigitte?”

Broots squeezed his eyes, uncomfortable, sweating further. 

“I don’t think that…maybe I should run some other tests, just to be sure, you know, I…”

“Broots!” she screamed.

“It’s you, Miss Parker.”

Sydney opened his mouth, but couldn’t say anything because the woman had just fallen to the ground, she had fainted. 


 

When Parker woke up, she was on her sofa, surrounded by Sydney and Broots, who looked very worried.

“Parker! Thank God, you gave us a huge fright.”

She didn’t answer, but she sat up. She had been unconscious for five minutes.

“Do you remember what Broots said to you?” Sydney asked her, stroking her hair in affection.

She nodded, and for the first time she heard the voices saying clearly two words: your son.

Michael was her son. They used her genetic material to create an embryo. 

Michael was her son…and his biological father was Jarod.

These made them…the baby’s parents?!

“Parker, say something, please.”

“What am I supposed to say, Syd?” she whispered, without strength.

“I know this is unacceptable, but – ”

“Sydney, they created my son in a lab!” she snapped at him. “How do you think I should feel?”

“What are you going to do, Miss Parker?” Broots questioned her. 

“I must tell Jarod…” she whispered.

Sydney could hardly imagine how difficult that would be for her.

“Do you want me to take care of it?” he asked her.

She smiled. The offer was tempting, but she couldn’t let Sydney take such a burden upon himself. It was a matter between the two of them, or better, the three.

Michael was their son. 

“No, Sydney. I have to do it.”


 

JACKSONVILLE - Florida

0.07 a.m.

 

Jarod was alone in the garden. He couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to go inside and feel once again like a stranger under his own roof. Ethan, instead, had familiarized with his new surroundings very well and he was sleeping in his room. 

Jarod was playing with his phone and wondering if he should call her. How much would she scoff him if he didn’t resist even one day, before calling her?

Just as he was heading back inside, his mobile started to ring. Could it be her?

Jarod smiled and opened the communication. “What?” he asked, trying to mimic the sound of her voice when she answered the phone.

Miss Parker, on the other side, smiled to herself. She was going to face the most terrible venture of her whole life.

“I intentionally wake you in your deepest sleep phase and all I get is a lifeless “What”?” she quoted the first telephone call Jarod had made after his escape from The Centre.

He laughed. “I knew you were listening.”

“Jarod…” she stopped him, while their laughs faded. “We need to talk.”

The seriousness of her statement worried him. “Did you find out something?”

She opened her eyes wide. “Yes…actually I did.”

Jarod was silent, waiting to know.

“Broots ran some DNA tests to discover Michael’s identity, today.”

Jarod sighed. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the rest.

“Please, tell me he’s not a clone.” he begged her.

“That is what I was hoping too.” she smiled as she realized they both had the same thought.

“So?”

“No, Jarod…he’s not a clone. Michael is a baby born from a surrogate mother, Brigitte, but he was generated by artificial fertilization.”

“And who are his parents?” he asked her, more and more curious.

Parker sighed, a tear wetting her face.

“Parker, you can tell me, come on…” he said to her, wishing he was there with her in that moment.

“The biological father…well, it’s you, Jarod.”

Silence fell. Parker let the dust to settle, she was sure he needed to internalize the huge news he had just found out.

But Jarod didn’t need to hear anything else. He already knew. From Parker’s voice. From her heavy silence. From the way she had revealed him that he was the baby’s father.

“You’re the mother, aren’t you?” he asked her.

She was crying openly now, Jarod could hear her sobbing.

“How could they possibly do it, Jarod?” she asked, between a sob and the other. Jarod squeezed the phone, pulling it far from his ear just for a moment. How could they possibly do it?

“Jarod, I need to know…how you feel…”

Jarod had never seen baby Michael. It was one of the scandals of The Centre that he had ignored, mostly for necessity. Once he had found out that Miss Parker had helped with his birth, he had felt relieved that everything went fine, but his involvement had finished there. Since Parker had showed interest in taking care of him, anyway, everything had changed. Parker’s intention to ask for Michael’s fosterage had become also his. He had started to picture them together, raising the boy. And now, suddenly, Michael was actually their son.

“We have a son.” he whispered.

Listening to Jarod pronouncing that word, Parker finally realized that she wasn’t alone in this. Jarod knew that Michael wasn’t another project of The Centre, they were talking about a human being. A defenseless baby. Their baby.

“Yeah…and you know one thing?” she said, ready to make a huge revelation. “It feels weird, but good.”

Jarod nodded to himself. The thought of having a baby and, most of all, a baby who was biologically connected to the woman he loved, yes, it felt very good. 

“We need to take him away from there, Parker…you were right…you already knew it, didn’t you?”

She tried to think about her inner sense. Didn’t it make her guess that between her and that baby existed a special bond? That kind of bond between a mother and her baby?

“I’m realizing now, that I’ve always known.”

“I promise I’m putting an end to The Centre, Parker…and then we leave with Michael.”

“But when?” she asked, betraying her evident impatience.

“Soon.” he answered, ending the call. He needed to ponder, and he had to do it on his own.


 

THE CENTRE

7.03 a.m.

 

Miss Parker hadn’t slept at all. The thought of being under the same roof of her son without seeing him made her nervous and impatient. She hadn’t recalled Jarod, she had to leave him alone. And she needed to think, too.

Among all the secrets at The Centre, they had just found out the worst one. Her father, Raines, God only knows who…they had used their genetic material to create a new pretender. They scrambled eggs and seminal liquid all together and put it in Brigitte’s uterus, and maybe she didn’t even know about it. Then they had made Parker believe that the baby was her brother. And now they were raising him in isolation, to use him as soon as his abilities would show themselves. Jarod’s pretending skills and her inner sense. Jesse wasn’t as a good result of their genetic manipulation. Not even Ethan.

Sydney had watched over her all night, trying to be close to her without saying anything. He had just held her hand, as he had done after Catherine’s death. He knew that this used to calm her, but that night he hadn’t been very helpful.

After many hours spent in silence, Parker had to face the facts. “I must talk with Raines…I must get the permission to visit Michael!”

“Parker, if Raines finds out that we know the truth about the baby, he will make them take him away, just as he had done with Jesse and Ethan.”

“He’s my son, Syd!” she shouted. “What mother would leave him in that zombie’s clutches?”

“We cannot show our hand, Parker, we must move cautiously…get the chance to deal with Michael without threatening Raines!”

She shook her head. “Jarod is right. I should take the baby, run away and disappear.” she continued, without reasoning.

“So you’d spend your whole life in running, and you deserve much more. You must be patient.”

“I’ve been patient my whole life, Syd. Now I can’t do it anymore.”

“But you have to, Parker.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s your destiny, remember?”

Miss Parker thought about the Prophecies. She had almost forgotten them, after the revelation on Michael’s true identity.

“The Scrolls say…that the Angel and the Chosen will cooperate to destroy The Centre and eventually they will succeed.”

Sydney nodded at her words.

“The last hope for The Centre will be their legacy…born within The Centre…” Miss Parker continued. Now she was understanding the interpretation of those words. Their legacy

“Born within The Centre and final means to make it rise again.” she said. 

Sydney touched his chin. “Do you reckon…it’s Michael we’re talking about?”

The voices became louder, more insistent. Your son. Legacy

“I’m sure. This explains many things…my father jumped in the ocean not to let me find out about my fate, not to let me and Jarod find out about the baby…but he hadn’t considered my inner sense.”

Sydney smiled, proud of the woman’s stubbornness.

“The Triumvirate knows about the secrets of the Scrolls. Do you think they talked about them with Raines and Lyle?”

She shook her head. “No, they didn’t, otherwise I’d be already dead.”

Besides the cynicism showed by Miss Parker, Sydney had to admit that she was probably right.


 

JACKSONVILLE - Florida

Jarod didn’t sleep at all, just as Miss Parker. Unlike the woman, yet, he had spent the whole in night making plans. Plans that, once simulated, proved to be one more disastrous than the other. At first, he thought about getting inside The Centre and take Michael away, but that meant to condemn his son to a life on the run. Then he thought he could kidnap Lyle to convince him and hand Michael over him, but then he remembered that blackmail wasn’t the right strategy with Miss Parker’s brother.

With Raines as headman of The Centre, the situation wasn’t negotiable: there was no more Miss Parker to convince to surrender in exchange for her father’s life, as it had happened years before when he had gained Major Charles’s freedom. 

When Ethan joined his brother, he realized at once that Jarod had a troubled night. The voices suddenly started to whisper a word. Nephew

“Jarod.”    

“Oh, Ethan…” he greeted him carelessly, continuing his wanderings through the computer archives of The Centre in hopes of penetrating their surveillance videos.

“My sister…She found out something, didn’t she?”

Jarod sighed.

“The boy…” Ethan whispered, his eyes closed. “He’s her son.”

Jarod was staring at him, now. “Our, son” he corrected him. Ethan stood in silence, realizing that this was so obvious. Now, the dream he and his sister had for such a long time made much more sense.

“Ethan…The Centre used…” he couldn’t even say this out loud, “They created that baby in a lab, but this doesn’t change the reality. Michael is our son.”

“I know…And he’s the key to everything.”

“You’re talking about the prophecies?” Jarod asked.

Ethan gave him the picture showing the last part of the text. Jarod read it again and memorized it.

“I think that Catherine was referring to Michael, when she advised me and your sister of a danger hidden inside The Centre. She defined it as a terrible secret, born from the two of us…”   

“Do you think Michael could be dangerous because he’s going to fulfill what’s written in the Scrolls?”

Jarod rubbed his face, worried. “I don’t know what to think, by now. I wasn’t prepared for anything like this. Until a few months ago I was just a pretender on the run, today I’m the Chosen, father of a predestined son.”

Ethan came closer and put his arm on his brother’s shoulders. “Big bro, if there’s something I’ve learnt is that nothing is determined. If it weren’t for you and my sister, I wouldn’t be here.”

“But, the Scrolls…”

“Forget it, Jarod. Now you have to think about your free will, which always gave you the chance to choose. You refused to cooperate with The Centre and you escaped. You rose against a reality that deprived you of your family and you’re finding it, piece after piece. For God sakes, you even re-built the lost relationship with my sister!”

“And that was no piece of cake, believe me!” he replied, with a grin.

“My mother will lead us. She paved our way with Margaret. Now we must complete their work and finish this thing.”

Right then, the algorithms Jarod had created to filter the surveillance videos of The Centre started to work. He connected with SL-19 and started skim through the cameras, until he found the one he was looking for. In an almost empty room, inside a crib, Michael was playing with some cubes. Jarod zoomed in to better frame his son’s face.

When he saw him smiling, Jarod started to weep for joy. It has never happened to him, before. He had never felt those kind of emotions for someone he didn’t even know. And yet, that baby was his son. He had never been looking for him, but now he was right in front of his face, smiling, giggling. And the more he looked at him, the more he recognized in those eyes something of his. His smile, instead, was all his mother’s. 

Ethan squeezed Jarod’s shoulder, the pretender was speechless, such was the emotion. It was the first time Ethan saw his nephew, but for Jarod that was the first time he admired his son.

Realizing that he needed a few moments on his own, Ethan went away discreetly. Jarod took his mobile phone and dialed the number by heart. 


 

Parker was still sitting and talking with Sydney, when her phone rang. She ran and took it, then she answered rapidly. 

“What?” she asked, but forgetting her usual imperative tone.

Jarod was still breathing fast, he didn’t know what to say.

“Jarod, is that you?” she asked in a whisper. 

While he was touching the screen, picturing himself actually touching his awesome baby, Jarod answered. “You know, he’s really wonderful…”

Guessing what Jarod was talking about, Parker gave Sydney a look and he understood he was in the way. He left her office just as she reached her computer.

Jarod was sending her a safe link to get access to the video he was looking at. 

When Parker opened it, her son’s beautiful smile appeared to fill her computer’s screen.

“Yeah. I’d love to say that we did good, but we didn’t do anything.”

Jarod guessed her interior conflict, because it was the same he had. “Maybe, for once, The Centre didn’t make a mistake.”

“My father played at being God again, Jarod, he used Brigitte as an incubator. Do you think she knew?”

“Uhm…Judging by the way she was bonded to the baby, I don’t think so. She would have never carried our son in her womb.”

“I’m still wondering…when they…”

“Took your eggs?”

She hushed, finding peace in Michael’s smile.

“Does it matter anymore?”

“You’re right.”

They hushed for a few seconds. Then, suddenly, Michael laughed, and he pronounced two words “Mum…Dad!”

His gaze turned to the camera, with the result that it looked like if he was staring at them. Miss Parker stood up, worried. Jarod felt his heartbeat increasing suddenly. 

“My god.” she whispered, touching her chest. Again that feeling of nausea coming to her. This time, she couldn’t resist. She ran to the bathroom and vomited, yet without closing the call. So, Jarod heard what was happening. 

“Parker! Parker!”

She took the phone again after a couple of minutes, getting back to her desk.

“It happened again?”

“I’ve got stronger attacks, now.”

Jarod snorted, worried.

“I asked you not to neglect yourself.”

“We must think about Michael, first…and The Centre.”

“About this, yesterday I called NSA an old friend of mine, she’s NSA…I sent her some information to convince her to open an investigation.”

“Fine.” Parker said.

“What will you do?”

“We stay here in hell, trying to discover what plans the Triumvirate has for Michael…and for us.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sydney thinks my life is in danger.”

“What makes him think that?”

“Angelo…He’s been blabbing about a danger for you and me…I believed he was talking about the same danger my mother told us about, but I’m not so sure anymore.”

Michael laughed again, so his parents focused on what had happened before.

“Do you think he has my…inner sense?”

“We had proof a few seconds ago.” Jarod answered, convinced.

“This time Raines is going through with it. He won’t miss out on a boy who could potentially be the best pretender The Centre ever had.”

“Over my dead body…I’d die before letting my son live what I’ve been through!” he snarled.

“For once, I agree with you.”

Jarod felt his father’s presence at his shoulders and realized he had to end the conversation.

“I have to go, Parker.”

“I know.”

Ending the call, Jarod turned around towards the Major.

“Jarod, what’s going on?”

Jarod sighed. “Call Emily and Jesse, too.”


 

THE CENTRE

8.47 a.m.

 

Broots entered Miss Parker’s office with the looks of someone who hasn’t slept well. He too, like his two colleagues, had spent the night pondering about what he had discovered and wondering how he could help the person he considered as a sister, now.

“News?” he asked Sydney. She wasn’t there at that moment.

Sydney shook his head. “No, but Jarod sent us a link to access the surveillance cameras. Now we can keep an eye on the baby.”

“One day, he’s going to explain to me how he does these tricks.” Broots replied, surprised by Jarod’s skills in eluding The Centre security mainframe. 

“Where’s Miss Parker?”

“In the devil’s nest.”


 

Raines had summoned Miss Parker urgently. Angelo hadn’t been very helpful, and Jarod had practically disappeared. After his sighting in Blue Cove, his tracks got lost. It seemed like if the pretender had decided not to leave crumbs for them anymore. 

Seeing the conversation he had with Sydney the day before, Raines had to make sure that Miss Parker was still on their side. And most of all, he had to figure out if the woman had found out something she shouldn’t. 

“You wanted to see me?”

“Miss Parker, how is the hunt for Jarod going?”

“Slow and ineffective, as always…our enfant prodige decided he’s not having fun anymore with gifts and presents for us. Maybe he’s taking a break.” she replied, maintaining her consumed-huntress-tone. In the end, she had acted like that for years. 

“The Triumvirate is unhappy. Our research has been pointless for too long, they’re convinced that somebody is helping Jarod from the inside.”

“Don’t look at me, if it were for me, Jarod would have been in an isolated cellar years ago…where he would not be driving me crazy with his damned clues!”

“And yet.” Raines accused her, with a grim look. “It didn’t seem to me that you were thinking about putting him in a cellar, when we found you on that island.”

Parker was really exhausted. How could she convince that man – her father?! – that she wasn’t helping Jarod, while that had been her very occupation for the last few days?

“Listen to me, subspecies of creeping-warm. Jarod is out there, somewhere, and the only connection he always had with this madhouse is his relationship with your colleague Dr. Freud, who does whatever he can to act like a mommy, to him. It’s true, along the way he left me clues and souvenirs and tried to taint the memory of my mother and the name of my father, but all of this just made me much more determined to catch him and bring him back.”

Raines seemed satisfied, now.

“On that island, I just used his abilities to find the Scrolls, and if I’m not wrong, the strategy we adopted had success!”

Raines didn’t need to hear anything more. He recognized the daughter he’d always wanted, in that moment. He felt close to her and decided it was the right time to give her a piece of truth.

Just when she was leaving, he stopped her. “It was true, what you’ve asked us on that plane. Mr. Parker wasn’t your biological father.”

Miss Parker opened her eyes wide and turned around. Was that actually happening?

“By that time, we already knew Mr. Parker couldn’t have any children. He was the one who asked me to allow the artificial insemination of your mother, so that he could have an heir. The Centre experiments were just cutting edge, in those years…we had a good result…”

Parker walked towards him, disturbed by the way that viscid serpent had just revealed to her that he was her biological father. She was so tired of all those genetic revelations.

When she was almost nose by nose with him, she started to whisper nastily, “Even if in my veins there’s your blood, you’ll never have my trust, neither my forgiveness…for killing my mother.”

“If you knew how things happened, you’d change your mind, daughter.”

Miss Parker, disgusted, gave him a provocative look, then reached for the door. She decided to take that chance to obtain something, after that terrible conversation.

“I want to see my little brother…or should I call him…my cousin?!”

Raines wasn’t so convinced he wanted to let her. He was afraid of some foolish act from. But after all, the baby was young, and aside from some routine experiments to stimulate his inner sense and his abilities as a pretender, his real training hadn’t started yet. In the end, it was something he owed his daughter.

“I’m giving you access to Sublevel 19.”

“Am I supposed to thank you, daddy?!” she said with sarcasm.

“Now I’m all that remains of a father figure, for you. Mr. Parker is missing and he won’t come back anymore.”

Parker laughed. She was disgusted by how many lies could come from that man’s mouth. 

“You know, there’s something you don’t understand and neither did my father. I had just one paternal figure, and it’s none of you.”

“The same person who was a mommy to Jarod?” he asked, quoting Parker’s words.

“Sydney was the only adult who stood by me when I was a kid…Jarod has always been right on this, he might be a mentally-disturbed-pretenders babysitter, but he was always there, for us.”

And when she said those words, she realized that she’d always wanted Sydney to be her real father.

“Maybe one day you’ll find out that I would have been much a better father than the one you had, even better than Sydney.” Raines said.

“Don’t – count – on – it!” she concluded, spelling every word in rage.

So said, she exited, leaving Raines alone. The man smiled to himself, thinking that perhaps that conversation could amend the many mistakes he had made in his entire life. 

The first of which was letting Sydney behaving like a father to the girl he had never been able to call daughter. He took his phone and called his loyal sweeper Willie. “I’ve got an assignment for you…there’s someone who’s been a thorn in my side for the last time…”


 

As soon as she got the authorization for Sublevel 19, Miss Parker went to visit Michael, accompanied by Broots..

When she reached the baby’s room, she hurried to get inside to hold him. She couldn’t imagine she would find her brother Lyle.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he screamed, while evaluating some clinical charts. He seemed shocked by her being there.

“Surprised to see me here, brother? Our beloved newfound daddy decided to give me the keys to the kingdom, too.” she replied, showing him her magnetic card.

Lyle snorted. “He shouldn’t have, you’re too emotional, you wouldn’t understand.”

“Understand what? That you’re raising a…a baby…to become a pretender able to substitute the fugitive we’ve been chasing for years?” 

Broots looked at her in total admiration. It was unbelievable how she could keep her nerve in that situation; there she was, in front of her own son, risking to spend his all life at The Centre, and yet she wasn’t batting an eye, keeping her sarcastic façade.

 

What they couldn’t actually know was that there was also somebody else looking at that video. In fact, Jarod was keeping Michael’s room under control. He sat at his computer with Ethan and Jesse, still a bit upset for the umpteenth revelation about The Centre. The three of them hung on Miss Parker’s words, while she was giving Lyle a piece of her mind. 

 

 

“The baby is the key for the future of The Centre. It’s our clients who carry on this rollercoaster, Parker. No sims, no clients, no money…you couldn’t afford your lifestyle anymore…and judging by what you always wear, I’d say you like playing and being snobbish” Lyle blurted.

Parker moved closer to him. “Not as much as you love to seize and torture innocent unlucky Asian girls, Lyle. Even if that is a bad habit that could cost you a lot.”

 

 

Jarod was enraptured. He hadn’t often heard Miss Parker thundering against Lyle. But watching her so furious towards him and listening to her answering that way, made him realize that those years of tricks and clues to make her discover Lyle’s past had been worth it.   

 

 

“He’s just a means, Miss Parker…the boy will grow to become a very good pretender.” Lyle explained.

“What makes you believe that? It doesn’t seem to me that his mother’s IQ was much higher than the one of a burlesque dancer.”

 

 

A smile came out automatically on Jarod’s face, and also on Ethan’s. Jesse had met Brigitte, and he couldn’t help but agreeing with Miss Parker, the woman wasn’t a genius.

Obviously, Lyle couldn’t answer this remark because he couldn’t tell Miss Parker the truth about Michael’s parents. But there was something, Lyle didn’t know that Miss Parker had already found out everything.

 

 

“You just think about Jarod and returning him to The Centre, Raines and I are taking care of the baby…you don’t have to worry about him, it’s not your business.” he concluded, turning around.

Miss Parker clenched her fists and almost attacked her brother, but Broots stopped her.   

 

 

“Don’t do it, Parker!” Jarod shouted while watching the scene. If she let herself go, if she told Lyle the truth, he would discover that the attachment the woman felt for the baby came from elsewhere. He would find out she knew. Jarod was relieved when he saw her calming down. Michael, meanwhile, called her.

“Parker!” he said.    

 

 

Afraid that Michael would call her “mommy” again, she took him in her arms “You’re right, little boy, that’s our last name.” she whispered. 

Lyle noticed the maternal attitude of his sister, and took advantage to make a joke. “You’re spineless, Parker. Emotions are making you soft.”

She was sorely tempted to put the chart he was reading inside his mouth, but obviously she didn’t do it.

“Beware of your emotions.” her brother whispered to her. “If you let yourself go, they can submerge you until you drown.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” she concluded, through clenched teeth.

Lyle exited the room.

 

 

“What a woman…” the three brothers said in perfect unison. 

“Damn it, I’d love to be twenty years older just to be you!” Jesse let out.

Jarod smiled and patted him on his shoulder. “Maybe The Centre cloned her, too.”

“Very funny!” the boy replied.

 

 

Miss Parker was cuddling Michael, while Broots read the charts left by Lyle. Apparently, they were making routine-exams, a lot of character and intelligence tests. They couldn’t speak freely under the cameras, so Miss Parker said goodbye to her baby kissing his forehead and she left when she saw a doctor entering the room. Once back in the safety area, she and Broots stopped.

“You were a-amazing, Miss Parker.” he confessed to her.

The woman, strangely, smiled. “Thank you, Watson. Now, let’s go back to work. We have to catch Jarod, don’t’ we?”

Broots smiled, too.

End Notes:

Hope you're enjoying it! :)

Chapter 10: Execution by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Another chapter, another story. Threats in the shadows and tragic events on our way.

As always, comments are really appreciated.

This time I have to thank to Antoinette, who still helped me through this chapter. And a huge thank to the lovely DanielleSmileyFace, my new Beta Reader for Mind Rain. Thanks a lot! Your help is very much appreciated!

JACKSONVILLE - Florida
5.17 p.m.

Jarod and Ethan had spent the whole day doing some investigation about the Triumvirate. It wasn’t easy to find the names of the members of the organization, neither its sponsors. But at least, now they knew where it was. By controlling the visitors’ movements, they could discover the names of some big shots to give Agent Zane.

 

“It’s impossible.” Ethan complained, after hours of research. Major Charles was helping them, too.

 

“We can’t give up, son.” he said. Jarod agreed with his father.

 

“I created a software to monitor e-mails, a while ago. They’re very good at covering their communications, but they can’t keep them from me. Lately, however, they have been inactive. Now that I think about it, it’s been like that since we got back from the island.”

 

“Since they got the Scrolls.” Ethan corrected him.

 

“When you were down there…” Jarod said, “Did you ever see anyone of them? Would you recognize their faces if you saw them?”

 

Ethan shook his head, “I had to be very careful not to be caught, Jarod. The only person I spotted was Mr. Parker.”

 

Jarod snorted. And at that very moment, his software finally gave some results.

 

“Apparently, our African friends just sent an e-mail to our beloved Raines.”

 


At that very moment, Raines was in his office, reading the Triumvirate’s answer to his request. His madness had reached exaggerated levels, seeing that he had decided to solve an old problem. Sydney had ruined his entire life, both professionally and personally.  He had stolen from him the only valuable pretender The Centre ever ha; he had acted like a father to his biological daughter; he had been involved in Gemini and Ethan’s escape. If he didn’t stop him now, he would soon find out the importance of the bastard that Brigitte had carried in her womb. It was just an experiment, to his eyes. And yet, come to think of it, that baby was his grandson.

 

Willie had been alerted. As soon as Raines gave the order, he would move and eliminate the “problem” once and for all. A well-placed bullet would be enough to close the matter.

 

But Raines knew that he couldn’t act without an official justification, and most of all he couldn’t without the Triumvirate’s permission. Until then, Raines hadn’t said anything to the Africans about Sydney’s involvement with Jarod, since the shrink was the only bond still connecting the Pretender to the Centre. With Sydney dead, Jarod would disappear, and so Raines would say goodbye to all his hopes of ever finding him.

 

But now, the situation was different. The doctor was getting more dangerous, he was asking too many questions. Raines was sure that his questioning about Mind Rain was no coincidence.

 

When he opened the message in his safe mailbox, Raines’s eyes brightened up.

 

“It seems that your lucky days are over, Doctor Freud.”

 

So said, he called Willie, “The time has come, Willie. I want things to be clean, no witnesses, are we clear?”

 

“Yes, Mr. Raines”, he answered, putting the silencer on his gun.


Jarod had intercepted the message, but he hadn’t been able to decipher it yet; sometimes, the Triumvirate codification algorithms were very complex thus he needed to use a different software to crack the code.

 

“What is the notification about?” Ethan asked, a bit worried. The voices were getting louder and more insistent.

 

“I don’t know yet.” Jarod complained.

 


Sydney was in Angelo’s room, trying to discover what Lyle had been up to in the last few days. The empath seemed much more relaxed since his last conversation with Miss Parker. She always had a weird influence on Angelo. Maybe the common baggage of their childhood made them blend.

 

“Angelo, please tell me. What did Mr. Lyle want you to do?”

 

“Find…Jarod…” he answered, smiling, “But Jarod doesn’t want to be found.”

 

Angelo grimaced, it was one of those grins that Sydney had learned to interpret as an expression meant to say, ‘I’m always a step ahead of you and I’m having the time of my life!

 

Sydney smiled in response, “You’re right, Angelo. Our Jarod is very good at throwing us off the scent.”

 

Suddenly, Angelo changed attitude and hit the floor, agonizing in pain.

 

“Danger…danger!” he cried, rolling all over.

 

Sydney thought about Miss Parker. She was still in her office with Broots, they were making up fake leads on Jarod to give The Centre a right impression on the pursuit.

 

“Who’s in danger, Angelo? Is it Jarod?” Sydney asked, worried.

 

Angelo shook his head rapidly.

 


Ethan heard the voices increasing in intensity, but they were overlapping to such an extent that he couldn’t understand what they were saying.

 

“What’s going on, little brother?” Jarod asked him, noticing his internal struggle.

 

“I think…something’s going on…” he murmured, his eyes closed.

 

“Miss Parker?” Jarod asked, frightened.

 

“No, no…it’s someone else.”


 

Angelo was still moving, and Sydney couldn’t help him. Very few times he had seen him so freaked out.

 

“Angelo! Please, calm down!”

 

“No! Danger!” he yelled again, standing up and running out of the room.

 

“Angelo!” Sydney cried. He left all his things in the room, even the encrypted mobile given to him by Jarod. He started chasing Angelo through The Centre corridors.

 


Jarod heard the signal made by his software, indicating a complete translation, so he focused his attention on the Triumvirate’s e-mail.

 

“Object…Execution…That doesn’t look good.”

 

Seeing your frequent warnings about the doctor’s conduct,

we authorize his immediate execution.

We won’t allow him to go on and help the pretender on the run.

Remove Refuge, once and for all.

 

Jarod didn’t need to read more to understand the situation. He took his phone and stood up, starting to pace back and forth with nervousness.

 

“Jarod, what does this mean?” Ethan asked, the voices more and more involved and present in his head.

 

“Come on, Syd, answer…please Sydney!” the pretender said, speaking out loud.

 

The phone was idle for a minute, so Jarod ended the call.

 

“Damn it!” he shouted.

 


Sydney was trying to reach Angelo. He was running towards Sublevel 19, but he couldn’t figure out why.

 

“Angelo, stop! Let me help you!”

 

“No, Sydney…danger!”

 

The doctor didn’t think for a second that Angelo was alluding to the fact that he was the target. He couldn’t have known that Willie has been ordered to follow him and find the most suitable place to kill him.


 

Parker was in her office with Broots. With one eye, she was checking the fake banking movements created for Jarod, with the other she checked on Michael through the surveillance videos on her computer.

 

Aside from the constant coming and going of doctors and nurses, the boy seemed to be healthy, intelligent, and still unaware of his importance.

 

When her new mobile phone rang, she answered rapidly, “What?!”

 

“Miss Parker, I must talk with Sydney, now!” a very worried Jarod spoke to her from the other side.

 

“I haven’t seen him for a couple of hours, he was working with Angelo. What’s going on?”

 

“If we don’t warn him right now, he’s going to die!”

 


 

Angelo had finally reached Sublevel 19, where he wanted to take Sydney to have a chance and save him. He had the distinct feeling of someone controlling that place. Maybe they would see the doctor in time to come protect him.

 

“Angelo, why did you come here? Is the boy in danger?”

 

“No…Sydney…” Angelo answered, finding only the psychiatrist’s dazed gaze and his shortness of breath for the long run.

 


“I’ve just intercepted an e-mail from the Triumvirate, they consented to an immediate execution of Sydney. You must find him, Parker!” Jarod begged her.

 

She didn’t need to be told twice. She took her 9mm from the drawer and checked if it was loaded. While doing this, her eyes fell again on the computer, so she noticed Angelo and Sydney’s presence in one of the four surveillance cameras. 

 

“Move, Broots!” she shouted to the technician.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“Sydney is in danger.” she answered, exiting the office in a rush.

 


Sydney and Angelo were leaning against the wall next to the door that gave access to Sublevel 19. Angelo was breathing fast, still shaken and upset.

 

“Danger…Sydney!” Angelo repeated.

 

Sydney opened his mouth in shock when he finally realized that Angelo was trying to tell him that he was in danger.  

 


Willie hid in the shadows, trying to understand how much Angelo could be considered as a “witness”. Raines had asked him to perform a clean job, without indiscrete eyes watching. But after all, Willie wasn’t sure he could be considered as a person, at all.

 


Jarod opened the surveillance video and, just like Miss Parker had, he found out that Sydney was close to his son’s room, “Sydney!”

 

“He can’t hear you, Jarod.” Ethan reminded his brother.

 

“I must save him!”

 


Meanwhile, Miss Parker and Broots were running like hell to reach Sublevel 19.

 

“D’you think that the person who wants to kill Sydney is going to do it in daylight, under everyone’s eyes?”

 

“With my mother, this wasn’t really an issue, was it?” Parker asked, thinking about Catherine’s murder staged in the main elevator of The Centre. Broots had to admit that she was right.

 


 

Sydney felt something, as if somebody was watching him. Angelo motioned to him to be quiet, putting a finger on his lips. They were hiding behind a wall, but someone was ready to get closer and kill Sydney. Angelo felt he was the only person who had ever taken care of him with respect. He couldn’t allow them to hurt Sydney, even if he wasn’t able to communicate these feelings to him.

 


 

Willie took aim, ready to shoot as soon as Sydney showed up.   

 


Jarod saw the sweeper from another camera. Willie was waiting, aiming with his gun, equipped with a silencer. In another video, Jarod noticed that Angelo was raising his face, almost as if he was looking at his direction.

 

“What is he doing?” Ethan wondered.

 

Angelo was smiling and moving his lips, as if he was trying to say something. 

 

“I don’t understand.” Jarod whispered, desperate. He had learnt to read lips, but he couldn’t understand what Angelo wanted.

 

Ethan closed his eyes, “Lights.” he whispered, guided by the voices.

 

“Of course!” Jarod snapped.

 


Parker and Broots reached the entrance of the main corridor of Sublevel 19; she aimed the gun in front of herself with caution.

 

Broots walked behind her, being careful not to make any noise.

 


 

Angelo really hoped that his friend got the message.

 

“Angelo, what shall we do?” Sydney whispered, worried and powerless in front of uncertain danger.

 

“Lights.” the empath whispered.

 


 

Right then, the sublevel lost its energy, with the result that all lights were turned off and all the zones were left in darkness.

 

Jarod was proudly contemplating his work; the cameras had an infrared visual, so he used it. Willie seemed afraid of that sudden change, he looked frantically around, trying to get his eyes used to darkness.

 

Praying that Parker had her phone with her, Jarod called her.

 


 

Parker took the phone, which she had asked Broots to switch to silent mode. Another little help from her inner sense, or maybe just common sense.

 

“Where are they?” she whispered.

 

“Willie is alone. He’s hiding behind a pillar, 100 feet from where you stand. Sydney and Angelo are at the end of the corridor, now they’re invisible, but I won’t be able to keep the lights off for long. As soon as The Centre notices the voltage drop, they’re going to re-establish the power.” 

 

“Great!” she growled in answer, giving Broots the mobile but without ending the call.

 

Then she moved slowly towards the direction indicated by Jarod. Meanwhile, Willie made a few steps forward, too. Sydney and Angelo were just two, and that was the ideal chance to kill the shrink without anybody else watching him. 

 


 

“Angelo, what shall we do?” Sydney asked again, spying over the wall, and hearing footsteps coming towards them.

 

Angelo didn’t know. He was just praying that Jarod and Miss Parker would help them in time.

 


 

Miss Parker walked slowly, but she couldn’t see anything in front of her. The darkness was absolute.

 

Willie was in the same condition, but he had the advantage of being ahead of her, so it didn’t take long to him to hear Miss Parker’s heels behind him. Without thinking twice, he turned around and shot blindly. Miss Parker was faster, or at least her inner sense was. She threw Broots on the floor and she stepped aside, too, hearing the shots ringing out very close by.

 


 

“Parker! Broots!” Jarod exclaimed into the phone.

 

But the phone, during the jump, had fallen on the floor in the middle of the corridor. Jarod’s voice was echoing in the silence left by the shots.

 

“I know you’re here!” the sweeper said out loud.

 

Sydney was nervous, worried for the fate of those who had come down there to save him and Angelo. He didn’t know why, but he knew he wasn’t the only one risking his life.

 

Miss Parker ordered Broots to stay where he was and leave the phone on the floor. Willie changed his mind and turned back in their direction, intending to eliminate those who had followed him down there.

 

“Parker! Please, answer me!” Jarod’s voice was shouting.

 

Willie seemed much too focused on the phone to realize what was happening behind him. Sydney had decided to act, he couldn’t allow Miss Parker to risk her life to save his.

 

Suddenly, he stood up and ran against Willie, trying to tackle him.

 

“No…Sydney!” Angelo cried.

 

Parker stood up rapidly and tight then all the lights turned on and blinded them. Using his senses, Sydney continued his fight with Willie to seize for his gun, but the sweeper was much stronger than him – and much faster. He threw him on the floor and Sydney collapsed, helpless.

 

While Parker was trying to get used to the light again, she aimed her gun in front of her.

 

“Sydney!” she screamed.

 


Jarod was looking at the scene with fear, he knew that his mentor couldn’t make it against Willie. At the same time, Parker was a much easier target, she had to hurry in getting a hold on herself.

 

“Parker, use your inner sense!” Ethan shouted, trying to concentrate very intensely on his sister.

 


Everything happened in a second. Parker closed her eyes and shot blindly, guided by her desire to prevent Willie from killing the only man who had been a father to her all those years. At the same time, Willie shot in the direction of the man at his feet, placing the bullet the most precisely he could. The two shots came at the very same moment. A second later, two bodies fell.

 


 

Jarod was looking at the scene feeling powerless. Willie had been gunned down from the shot Miss Parker had placed right in his nape.

 

When Parker opened her eyes, she ran over Willie’s still body and she saw Sydney on the floor, right next to Angelo. A pool of blood was expanding beneath them, Sydney had his hands completely soiled of it.  

 

“Sydney!” she screamed, starting to cry.

 

“It’s not mine!” Sydney reassured her.

 

While Raines and Lyle arrived on the scene, Parker realized that Angelo had been shot. She squeezed his hand as blood came out from his chest. Willie had hit him close to his heart.

 

“Angelo…Angelo, please hold up!” she shouted.

 

Sydney was pressing on the wound. Broots reached them, with Miss Parker’s mobile phone in his hands.

 

“Call someone, Broots!” Jarod shouted form the other side, then he closed the communication, terrorized at the idea of losing another brother.

 

Ethan was squeezing his shoulder.

 

Angelo’s eyes were half-closed, his mouth curved into a little smile. “Sydney…Miss Parker…safe…” he said, with sincere joy.

 

“You’re going to be ok, Angelo. You must hang on. Don’t give up, you understand me?” Sydney screamed.

 

Broots was still calling for the doctors, while Sydney pressed on Angelo’s chest with all the strength he had. His blood was still coming out from his wound, the hemorrhage seemed to be unstoppable.

 

“Miss Parker…Jarod…danger…” Angelo whispered. Once again, he was trying to advise the only friends he ever had of the great danger approaching. He felt that somebody would do everything to kill them, as they had just tried with Sydney.

 

Hearing those words, a very angry Raines left the corridor. Lyle didn’t understand what was going on, or why Willie had a hole in his head. He just knew that they couldn’t afford losing Angelo, he was much too important to The Centre.

 

“I’ve called the doctors; they’re looking for a gurney!” Broots shouted.

 

“Fine!” Lyle said, a bit louder than he intended. Parker sent him a questioning look.

 

“Miss Parker…friend…Jarod…friend…” Angelo whispered.

 


 

From the other side of the camera, the pretender couldn’t help but crying at the words of his dying friend.

 

“Angelo…” he whispered, “Hold on, please.”

 

Parker squeezed Angelo’s hand tighter and got closer to his ear, “Don’t you dare die and leave me here alone, do you understand?!”

 

Angelo smiled and closed his eyes; he was now unconscious. Sydney touched his wrist and felt his pulse getting weaker and weaker. At that moment, a doctor and a nurse came from the corridor with a gurney and a defibrillator.

 

They put Angelo on the stretcher and started to move rapidly towards higher Centre levels, where they would reach the hospital wing.

 

Parker was still crying, the gun held in her right hand. The other was completely covered with blood, and so were her clothes and the floor. Sydney was shaken.

 

“I’d better go and call for a cleaning team. Willie’s body must disappear. By the way, nice job, sis-”

 

Parker didn’t let him finish the sentence and silenced him with a look that would incinerate the Antarctic. Lyle disappeared, his mobile still at his ears to call other sweepers. 

 

“Who wants us dead?” Sydney asked her, still astonished.

 

“Not both of you. Just you…Jarod advised me in time, but it wasn’t enough...to save Angelo.”

 

“He put himself in the middle…he got between me and the bullet…. He saved my life.” Sydney revealed Miss Parker.

 

“That’s what happens to all of us at the Centre. We put ourselves between a bullet…and a father.” she admitted with sarcasm.

 

Stunned by her words, Sydney felt guilty. Angelo had tried to save him, the one who had exploited his abilities for years.

 

Miss Parker’s mobile rang, and Broots gave it to her; she held it with sufferance. She didn’t talk, she let him be the first to speak.

 

“Ethan and I are leaving. Be ready for when I get there.”

 

“Ready for what? Your downfall?” she asked, exhausted.

 

“We’re taking our son out of there, Parker. And I swear I’m going to blow up The Centre once and for all.”

 

The communication ended. Parker stared at her phone, a mix of surprise and shock in her eyes.

 

“What did he say?” Sydney asked.

 

“That time has come to stop watching the people we love diying.” she translated Jarod’s feelings.

End Notes:

Hey, still reading? Let me know if you still like it!

Reviews are food for the soul! :)

Chapter 11: Good Old Times by missparker87
Author's Notes:

I know I left you last time with our beloved Angelo almost dying.

I hope you appreciate this new chapter. I couldn't let go such a lovely character. Angelo was one of the things that made The Pretender such a great show, I've always loved him.

And of course it's time for a new surprise. And I guess almost all of you had already seen it coming.

Not an English speaker, blah blah blah.

See previous chapters to know the reasons why I'm not really the best writer around here! :)

And remember to thank my wonderful Beta Readers, Antoinette & DanielleSmileyFace!

MISS PARKER'S HOUSE

10.15 p.m.

Miss Parker spent the rest of the day in the hospital E.R. where Angelo had been brought. Doctors had claimed his situation was critic and that he had lost much, too much blood. Willie's shot had hit him very close to his heart, perforating a lung and sending poor Angelo into a coma. Doctors didn't know if he would survive the night, they couldn't do anything else for him.

When Sydney realized that Miss Parker was exhausted and still manifesting symptoms of nausea and fatigue, he asked Broots to drive her home. She didn't want to leave Angelo's side, but Sydney cheered her up, affirming that this was his duty. Angelo had sacrificed himself to save him, not her.

She insisted on staying, mostly because she was afraid for Sydney's own safety, should he be alone. But he wasn't scared for his life anymore; whoever had given the order to kill him, would now think twice before attempting again.

To prove his resolution, Sydney showed her the item he had picked up from his safe-deposit box: a gun. He was ready to use it in case anyone should attack again.

With all those doctors around him, anyway, Sydney felt pretty safe, at least until Angelo got better.

 

Broots escorted Miss Parker outside her house, then he turned off the engine and made her notice that they had arrived.

"Miss Parker." he called her softly, seeing that she was almost sleeping.

"Uhm." she murmured, opening her eyes.

"You're home."

"Thank you, Broots. Please, go back to the hospital and keep an eye on Sydney for me, will you?"

Broots nodded, thinking that for the umpteenth time he would have to ask the babysitter to stay for the night.

Miss Parker guessed his mood immediately. She took his hand gently, as she had never done before.

"We're doing this for Debbie, too. To give her a better future, without nightmares, without The Centre."

Broots knew that charming and smart woman, with whom he had thought to be in love with for a while, was obviously right. It wasn't fair for Debbie to live in a world of which she needed to be afraid. Miss Parker and Jarod’s main purpose was to change the world they lived in.

"I don't know what I would have done without you and Sydney all these years." she confessed to him.

Broots stared at her, stunned and astonished. Was she really trying to thank him?

"Good night, Miss Parker. Try and take some rest."

"Sure." she scoffed, getting out from the car.

As soon as she entered her living room, Miss Parker heard nothing but silence. She had hoped to be welcomed by Ethan working at his computer and Jarod right next to him, waiting for her to come back. Instead, the house was dark and silent, empty.

Miss Parker turned the light on and dropped her bag on the floor. She was so shocked by what had happened that she hadn't even found the time to wash her hands, still covered with Angelo's clotted blood.

An incontrollable rage took hold of her. Better, anxiety. She ran to the bathroom and started to rub her hands impetuously, trying to make those reddish spots disappear from her palms. The water that came out of the tap got colored of a very bright red as soon as it reached the sink. Parker rubbed and rubbed, but Angelo’s blood never disappeared.

Eventually giving up to all the feelings she had held for too long, she took the soap and threw it against the mirror, screaming and crying in despair. She started to take everything within a range: towels, shower curtain, creams, make-up. She threw everything on the floor or against the wall in a frenzy way, too much upset to stop. Her shouting soon got mixed with her sobs, and her weeping got mixed with her inner voices. She could hear her mother's, inviting her not to give up. She heard Tommy's too, saying that it wasn't her fault.

But mostly she could hear the last words Angelo had told her: almost dying, he had wanted to remind her that she and Jarod were his friends. Friends that have abandoned him to his fate, friends that hadn't been able to protect him.

Crying in despair, Parker collapsed to the floor, leaning on the wall.

She didn’t know how much time had passed, could be minutes, could be hours. But after a while she felt his presence. She didn't need to open her eyes; she just knew. Jarod's face was a few inches from hers, she could feel his slow and warm breath on her skin.

His hand stroked her hair and moved a strand behind her ears, inviting her to lift her face and look at him. When Parker opened her eyes, she saw a devasted pretender. He looked just like her. She had seen him as desperate just once before: when his brother Kyle had died.

"Doctors think that he’s not gonna make it." Parker whispered, sniffing.

Even if the occasion was awful, Jarod couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was and how much her eyes stood out, now that she had cried so much.

He continued caressing her face, in silence.

"I can't go on, Jarod. If Angelo dies…I could never forgive myself."

"It wasn't your fault." he finally spoke, firmly and resolutely. That was the point of the matter: Parker felt guilty, and she was having another breakdown.

"You tried to save them both, and if it weren't for you, Sydney would be dead, and Angelo, too."

"He's innocent."

"You're innocent, too. We all are." Jarod reminded her.

"Where's Ethan?" Parker asked, worried.

"He said he had something to do before getting here. Our brother knows what he’s doing, he's wiser than me…and braver than you."

"I've never felt brave. I'm a coward. I should have put a bomb in Raines’s office years ago."

Jarod smiled, "See? Your humor always protected you. Parker, you must hold on only for a little while. You must do this for me, and for Michael." he begged her.

She suddenly realized that, with all the commotion, she had forgotten about Michael.

"I've asked my father to check on our son. Even if it’s not the most traditional way to become a grandfather, since he found out he has a grandson he has decided to be his guardian angel. He'll advise me if anything happens to him."

She nodded, glad to have one less person she loved to worry about.

"I've never thought about myself as a mother. But when I hold that boy…it's like…" Parker stopped, not so sure she wanted to continue that sentence.

"You and I know much better than anyone else," he reminded her, "that family is not a matter of bloodlines. But this is different because Michael is our son. Maybe we didn’t plan his birth, but this doesn't mean we'll love him less, when we finally get together."

Parker smiled, thinking about her baby, "He has your eyes."

Jarod was smiling, too, "And your smile." he concluded, kissing her.

Her sobs were over, now. Parker was much calmer.

"I don't feel like being alone, tonight. I need you." she whispered at his ear.

"Why do you think I came?"

"From your tone in our last conversation I thought you would get back here and launch a missile to literally blow The Centre up."

"I was very angry, before. But instinct cannot prevail over reason. Had I ever followed my animal instinct, I would have exterminated all the men of the Parker dynasty years ago."

Parker chuckled. Jarod could make her laugh even in the most difficult times; it had always been like that.

"Before I came, I was contacted by the NSA agent I've been in touch with, Andrea Zane."

Parker now was eager to get good news.

"She’d never heard anything like that, before. She said that The Centre covers its business very well, nobody in the agency ever heard anything illegal about it."

"Present company excepted?" she said, sarcastically.

Jarod ignored her. "She told me she will open an investigation, she'll do whatever she can to find the list of the friends of The Centre at the Congress. But she needs some help from the inside, and that's what we must provide her."

"Do you think you can penetrate The Centre defenses without them finding out?"

"I've been doing it for the last six years. It's time use my skills to get justice."

"And what about the Triumvirate?"

"I'm still working on it, but I've collected so much proof over the years that it won't be difficult to frame The Centre for extortion, exploitation of children, kidnap, murder, blackmail…"

"I know, The Centre crimes list is endless." Parker stopped him.

Jarod nodded. Sensing that now she was feeling better, he helped Miss Parker standing up and started to undress her gently. "You need a shower. I want you to relax, and no – " He stopped her before she could ask. "I won't go in with you. I have a call to make, before dedicating myself to you."

Guessing that Jarod wouldn't see reason, Parker obeyed and remained alone in the bathroom while Jarod went back to the bedroom and took his phone.

 

Sydney was holding the gun in one hand and the phone in the other. He was waiting for his call. He knew it would arrive, sooner or later.

"This is Sydney" he said, when his phone finally rang.

"I'm glad to hear your voice." The pretender said.

"So am I to be able to thank you, Jarod. If it hadn’t been for you, maybe…"

They both kept silent a few seconds; the only noise in Angelo's room was the monitor of his vital signs, emitting feeble beeps from time to time.

"Today, for a moment…I feared that I would have lost you. I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to tell you…"

Sydney let his pupil communicate his feelings. He didn't want to interrupt him.

"I've always considered you like a father, Sydney. And even if I've found mine, this is never going to change."

Sydney sighed, secretly thrilled by Jarod’s words, but also knowing that he didn’t deserve them. "I haven’t done anything to earn your love, Jarod. After all you've been through…"

"That we've been through" he corrected Sydney. "And you made amends, Syd. I told you once: you're not a monster. And you'll always be my family."

Sydney smiled to himself. "Thank you, Jarod." He said with tears to his eyes.

"How's Angelo?"

"Stable. Too weak to wake up, too strong to leave us."

"He's a fighter, Sydney. I'd wish I was there with you."

"Angelo knows you love him. Besides, you must take care of Miss Parker, now. She would never admit it, Jarod, but she's sick. She's constantly tired, weak, and those nausea attacks…"

At that moment both Jarod and Sydney had a flash. They both had considered the woman's symptoms, but they were certain that they were side effects due to the uneasiness caused by her inner sense.

"Jarod…" Sydney gasped.

The pretender didn't talk. Years spent pretending to be a doctor, and now that evident symptoms of pregnancy were under his nose, he hadn't recognized them.

"Sydney, it can't be."

Sydney smiled to himself. "Are you sure?" he asked.

When she came out of the bathroom reinvigorated after a long hot shower, Jarod was waiting for Miss Parker on her bed. He was looking at his computer, always synchronized with The Centre cameras. Watching Michael sleeping peacefully gave him a sense of calm that he'd never thought he could experience.

"A glass of wine?" she asked.

"No!" he shouted in answer.

"Hey, calm down boy wonder!"

"I'm sorry, Parker, but I think you shouldn't drink."

"What, you're giving me a talking-to?" she asked him, a bit irritated.

"No, I'm not, it's just."

How could he tell her that he had finally found out what was happening to her? And mostly, was she ready to accept the truth, that she could be pregnant?

Parker seemed to realize the inner turmoil inside Jarod's genius-brain.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"I was wondering about your physical condition."

"Enough of it, I'm fine! Angelo is the one who's dying in a hospital bed, not me!"

"No, listen. Nausea, fatigue, fainting. Do you know what the most obvious answer to those symptoms is?"

Parker thought, but nothing occurred to her. Or perhaps…

She stared at him and suddenly the inner voices turned up strongly, even if she didn't understand what they were saying to her.

Jarod sighed; now she knew, too.

Parker slowly lifted a hand and put it on her stomach. Could she really be pregnant? Sure, she had fainted when Broots had told her about Michael. She thought it was because of the excitement for that revelation, but maybe it wasn't. Maybe…

"How can we be sure?" she asked calmly. Jarod was so proud of her, at that moment.

"A blood test can reveal a pregnancy even a few days after conception." He stated.

"Let's do it now." she concluded. Jarod had already prepared a syringe.

Sydney had a thousand thoughts in his mind. Broots had come back to the hospital to keep him company, he was sleeping on a chair at Angelo's side, now. Sydney on the contrary couldn't sleep at all. And it wasn't for fear of those who wanted to kill him – and he was almost sure that it was Raines.

The acknowledgment that things had changed so much in the last few days kept him awake. The weird departure of Jarod and Miss Parker, Ethan's return, the discovery that Michael was their son, and maybe now Miss Parker being pregnant. He couldn't believe that all he had ever wished for was actually happening. Fast. Too fast. He was afraid that they wouldn't be able to accept the consequences of those news. He feared for Jarod, because he knew that after a life spent running it wouldn't be easy for him to settle down. Or maybe he was just afraid that he would really leave, this time, that he would disappear into nothing and wouldn't show up anymore, now that he was going to build his family.

"Bad thoughts?" a voice at his back asked.

Sydney turned around in time to see Jarod at the door. He was wearing a white coat, probably pretending to be a doctor to get inside and visit Angelo. How he could possibly go unnoticed by a dozen of sweepers outside and inside the hospital, Sydney didn't even want to know.

"Is Miss Parker here with you?"

"No, she's home, resting. I came on my own, I had to run some tests on this blood sample." he explained, showing him a vial.

"Is it Parker's?" Sydney asked.

Jarod just nodded. Then he got closer to his sleeping friend and put a hand on his forehead.

"Angelo…" he whispered. He felt a huge pain watching his gentle friend reduced like that. He took a look at his vital signs, then at his medical record. He sighed, holding on the few hopes he still had.

"Do you think he's gonna make it?" Sydney asked.

"It's too soon to tell, we can just pray.”

"I've never been really good at that.” Sydney revealed.

"Me neither.”

"You risked so much coming here, Jarod. Leave while you can, Lyle could arrive any minute.”

"As soon as I have the test results. We need to know the truth.”

"How do you think she's eventually going to face a pregnancy?" Sydney asked.

At that very moment, Broots let out an incomprehensible sound that startled them both, then he got back to sleep.

"Parker has already accepted the fact that there's a boy of whom we're parents at The Centre. She’s never been afraid, she didn't hesitate, not even a second. She feels that she's his mother, just as I feel I'm his father. Michael is our son.”

"But we're talking about pregnancy. Seeing her physical condition, I wouldn't be surprised if she risked her own life to give birth. And she won’t keep this from The Centre for long!"

Jarod smiled as he imagined for the first time a woman used to wear stilettos, miniskirts and leathered-adherent-trousers finding herself with a big tummy that would oblige her to change her working, food and social habits. The thought was almost funny. He could already picture himself with her, reading a book in front of the fireplace, their baby kicking inside her tummy and maybe Michael playing in his bed. He could imagine himself changing diapers and fetching Michael at the kindergarten. He suddenly realized that he'd never wanted anything else more in his whole life.

"I think Parker is a fighter. And judging by the way she reacted to the news, I have a feeling that she wasn't surprised at all.”

"Meaning?"

"I think she’s always known. Her inner sense does not lie.”

At that moment a nurse appeared at the doorstep, "Doctor Algren?"

Jarod turned around.

"The results of the analysis you've requested."

"Thank you so much.” he answered, taking the medical record.

"So?" Sydney asked, not able to wait a second more.

"Did I miss something?" Broots asked them, suddenly awake and surprised as never before to see Jarod right in front of him.

"I'd say so." The pretender whispered.

Miss Parker sat on her bed, wearing an old sweatshirt and a couple of trousers from a decade before that she used as pajamas when she did laundry.

She continuously touched her belly as if she was in a daze. She didn't even know if she was pregnant for real, but she was almost sure she could feel something inside her. She felt different. And it wasn't just for the physical changes, it was the way she felt. Happy.

She didn’t know why. So many things were still hanging in the balance. Angelo's condition, the Centre, their whole future. Any other person going down that road would feel desperate. But not Miss Parker.

To her, the last eight days had been like the end of nightmare that had lasted too many years. She hadn't been herself for too long, and now she knew it.
If she thought about it, she had been her real self only with him.
Jarod.
The only person who had always encouraged her to find herself. To unravel the secrets of her past. The only one who had accepted her faults and made her understand her strengths. He had protected her; he had loved her.
He'd never given up on her, and in the end, Jarod had given her the greatest present: freedom.
Freedom from lies and, maybe soon, even from The Centre.

Now they had a baby to take care of, and maybe even…a second one coming. She had never thought of herself like a mother, not even when she was with Tommy. And yet, now she kept touching her belly, thinking how exciting it would be to have a baby kicking inside her tummy, how great it would be to have boy wonder's hands touching to hear their baby's movements.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Jarod's return. He moved silently towards her, the hospital record still in his hand.

"How's Angelo?" she asked him at first.

"Stable.” He sighed. “Too soon to know if he's gonna make it."

She nodded and kept silent, even if she was willing to know the results of her blood analysis.

Jarod reached the bed and sat down next to her. He looked serious, almost sorry. That attitude made Miss Parker guessing that either she was pregnant, and he was unhappy with that, or she wasn't pregnant at all.

They didn’t have time to talk about their feelings, before, so she didn’t really know if Jarod wanted this to be real. She got her answer one second later. Jarod put his hands on hers and lifted them both, placing them on Parker’s belly.

"You know what I'd really love?" he asked, whispering.

"What?" she questioned, not understanding, yet. The pretender looked at her right in the eyes. Then he started to smile.

"If it was a girl."

Parker felt her nose itching, realizing she was going to cry. But those were tears of joy, for the first time in a very very long time.

Jarod kissed her forehead and stroked her face.

"You're n-not…angry?" she had the courage to ask.

He smirked, "Yes, I am. I'm very angry – because I didn't realize this before! And they say I'm the genius!" he clarified, making her laugh.

He kissed a couple of her teardrops, finding them deliciously salty. He couldn't stop touching her belly.

"This is ironic. A week ago, I had no stable relationship, no children. Actually, I had no personal life. I just kept chasing an intelligent and arrogant fellow, a bit opinionated, who used to call in the middle of the night to mock me. I wanted to crack his fingers every time he hung up on my face."

Jarod giggled, "And now?"

"Against all odds, I've been involved with a charming evil genius, who seduced me, got me pregnant and, oh, did I mention that we also have another child?"

Jarod kissed gently that wonderful woman's belly, "It won't always be like this. It's going to be over soon, I promise you."

"I don't want our children to live on the run, traveling from one city to the other, hiding from The Centre." she confessed Jarod.

"I know. And I agree with you. But you must trust me, Parker. And we must trust Ethan, Sydney and Broots. Together, we're going to make it."

Parker held him, "I hope so."


 

KENT GENERAL HOSPITAL - DOVER

The day after – 9.00 a.m.

Parker entered Angelo's room to find an exhausted Sydney. It was obvious that he hadn't slept at all, and the strain of it all was having repercussions on his physical and mental health.

"How is he?"

Sydney flinched when he heard her, "Parker."

She tried to excuse herself, putting a hand on his shoulder lovingly.

"Same old. Doctors didn't say anything, yet."

Parker moved closer to her friend's bed and took his hand, squeezing it, "Please, Angelo, wake up." she whispered.

"Miss Parker."

She turned around to look at Sydney; the old man noticed a glimpse of a different light in her eyes. It looked like happiness. He stood up as he took her hand in his.

"Congratulations." he whispered, smiling. Her face enlightened with such a bright smile. Sydney had never seen her more beautiful that at that moment.

"Do you picture me as a mother?" she asked him. His opinion was very important to her.

"Until a few weeks ago, I would have never thought possible that the two of you would find each other and start building a family together."

"Yeah, this seems so crazy. If Jarod had told me something like that months ago, I would have probably shot him."

"I don't think so, Parker. You never had the intent to kill Jarod, not even in the first months after his escape."

She knew this to be true, but she didn't want to lose her reputation of Ice Queen, at least in her colleagues' eyes.

"Anyway, I’m sure you'll be an amazing mother. And I know this because Catherine was wonderful, and you are just like her." Sydney concluded, answering to her previous question.

She smiled, a few unshed tears forming at the corner of her eyes.

"So. Boy or girl?" Sydney asked her, trying to lighten the mood.

She smiled and listened to the voices. They weren't very clear about that subject, maybe they wanted it to be a surprise.

"G-girl…" a voice murmured at their back.

Parker and Sydney turned around in surprise: Angelo’s eyes were open with their penetrating light-blue staring with interest at the woman that he loved as a sister and the man that he loved as a father.

"Angelo!" Miss Parker shouted, throwing herself on the floor and taking his hands in hers. A huge smile appeared on her face.

"Welcome back, Angelo." Sydney said.

"G-girl!" the empath said again. Parker burst into laughter mixed to happy tears.

"So, Michael is going to have a little sister?" she asked her friend.

Angelo smiled; his teeth clenched. At that moment, the doctors entered the room and threw out the guests, willing to run all the tests on the just-awakened patient. Miss Parker couldn't resist anymore and hugged Sydney in relief, letting herself go with a liberating cry.

Suddenly, Lyle appeared outside Angelo's room with Sam, the sweeper.

"Is he dead?" he asked, noticing her sister's tears.

Parker broke away from Sydney and got serious again, "No, he's not. He's alive and awake. But I'm not surprised that a man like you cannot conceive of tears of joy."

Lyle snorted. "Fine. As soon as he's stable, we take him back to The Centre. Sam is here to check on his transfer, I don't want anyone to try and kidnap Angelo."

"Anyone?" Sydney questioned him.

Lyle smiled sarcastically, "Let's say I wouldn't be surprised if your lovely pretender jumped out at any moment to give that freak what he considered to be freedom.”

Parker had to bite her tongue not to answer. She couldn't reveal herself to him, "As much as I hate to admit it, Lyle is right", she agreed, "Jarod would certainly take the chance to take away our last pretender."

Sydney approved her choice of lying shamelessly to support Lyle's decisions, so that her cover was still intact.

"Actually, he's not the only one…as soon as our brother comes of age, we're starting with simulations. We just have to wait a few months." Lyle concluded, sneering in satisfaction.

As soon as Lyle had gone, Parker looked back at Sydney, confused and angry. At that moment she was flooded by a thousand emotions, but one was prevailing: her wish to get vengeance on that squalid meat-eater that was her brother.

Broots made his appearance after a few minutes, with a wrinkled piece of paper in his hand.

"Is it true that Angelo is awake?" he asked.

Miss Parker nodded, smiling again.

"Thank God." Broots exhaled, happy for the news.

The woman took advantage of that moment to take the paper from his hands in a sudden movement. Broots got almost frightened.

"Uhm…this is the Triumvirate. Ethan forwarded the message to me a few minutes ago." Broots said.

"What is it about?" Sydney asked.

Parker read greedily, "Our chance to win the game."

 

Jarod was at his computer, as always. Since he'd found out that Angelo had woken up, the huge lump on his throat had disappeared. Now he was working again, one eye to the cameras filming Michael, the other to the software he was using to penetrate The Centre archives. Even if he was a genius, he knew that he would need a help from the inside, the kind of help that only Broots could give.

His phone rang and he answered with carelessness, "What?"

"Your tone is getting more and more like my sister's, big bro."

"Ethan!" Jarod yelled, glad to hear his voice, "Where are you?”

"I'm on my way back to Blue Cove, Jarod. I needed to check on some things."

"Check on what, Ethan?"

"I've just sent a mail to Mr. Broots, it’s from the Triumvirate."

"What's it about?"

Ethan smirked with satisfaction, one hand on the steering wheel and the mobile in the other. "They planned a visit to The Centre."

Jarod stood up, amazed by the news, "No way!"

"And yet...The highest members of the Triumvirate are on their way to Delaware. They'll be in Blue Cove in three days."

"You know what this means? We could get them all together. For the first time in many years, they all will be inside the same building."

Ethan smiled to himself, his voices in turmoil, "Yes, brother. It's your biggest chance to take them down."

"Our biggest chance, Ethan.” He corrected him. “Be careful, don't leave any tracks and get rid of the car you rented."

"Hey, I wasn’t born yesterday!" he complained.

Jarod heard his brother hanging up.

And now he is full of himself, he thought.


THE CENTRE

3.12 p.m.

Parker and Sydney had assisted Sam for Angelo's homecoming to the Centre. He wasn’t completely out of danger yet, but Lyle and Raines had insisted to have him back ASAP.

A group of sweepers took his gurney out of the ambulance; the paramedics were sent away quickly and without further explanations, in typical Centre style. Angelo was then transported to his room. Parker was sure it would take him a while to wander through the air conditioning vents again. She had felt a huge relief when she had realizing that her friend was feeling better and that he would almost certainly make it.

Angelo was laid in his bed with a nurse to assist him and two sweepers outside of his door. Parker, Sydney and Broots welcomed him with huge smiles on their faces.

"Miss Parker…happy." Angelo said.

"Yes, Angelo, I'm happy that you're home. I’m happy that you are alive." she told him. But by the grimace on his face, she realized that he knew why she felt so happy. Angelo read her like nobody else, not even Jarod. His faculties made him understand at once that Miss Parker had never been happier than when she had found out that she was pregnant.

She squeezed his hand once more, to make him understand how much she had been afraid of losing him.

"Miss Parker…afraid."

She sighed, and then glanced at Sydney.

Broots cleared his throat, "Uhm…I've got this meeting with a guy who says he's actually seen Jarod working in an Italian restaurant not far from here. Could be another wild goose chase, but...I'd better check it out."

Parker’eyes grew wide at the realization that Broots had become a very good liar. Of course, Angelo’s room was maybe a safe place, but you were never sure enough at the Centre. The needed to keep up appearances to look untouchable to everyone, especially now that they had found out about the Triumvirate's visit.

As soon as Broots left the room, Miss Parker bent to talk with Angelo, "So, you do believe it's going to be a girl?" she whispered. Sydney had never seen her behave like that. The pregnancy suited her.

Angelo smiled, "Little sister."

Parker giggled too. Sydney was almost touched.

"Not over, yet." Angelo went on, "Jarod…Miss Parker…danger."

"Angelo, why are we in danger? You've been saying this for days, who wants to hurt us?"

Angelo sighed in exhaustion; Sydney dragged Miss Parker away from the bed "He needs some rest, now."

"Yeah…I'm going to visit Michael; I want to see how he is."

Right then, Lyle entered the room with a package in his hands. "Where are you going in such a hurry, sis?"

"I want to see my brother to be sure you didn't phagocytize him."

"Very funny, but I think this one is for you."

She took the package, astonished, "What is it?"

"One of Jarod's clues, I guess." Lyle said. Then he stretched his leathered-glove to make it fit better on his thumbless hand.

"This is his umpteenth attempt to give me another ulcer attack." she commented, sarcastically.

When she opened the box, Parker found a little statue representing a witch with her appearance and a broom in its hands; next to the puppet another little statue, a black man lying down. It surely had to be Willie. Together with the two sculptures, there was a card.

 

  Sweeper’s huntress

  Look out for whom you're hunting

  or you might become the prey.

  J

 

Parker would have wanted to laugh, but she kept a glacial look and a furious expression.

All she needed to do was remembering how she felt every time Jarod had sent her messages like that. There difference was that this message wasn’t really intended for her. Most probably, it was a trap for Lyle.

"How could he possibly have discovered about Willie?" he shouted.

"Find out!" she replied, with rage.

Sydney couldn't help but admire her acting skills, "Jarod always knows what happens at The Centre. He's always a step ahead of us."

"Well, we can't afford this right now." Lyle complained.

"Why, is there any news I should be informed of?" Parker asked, facing her brother threateningly. Lyle tried got away from her without answering.

"Be careful, Lyle. I'm keeping an eye on you. And I'm also going to find out who arranged that stunt on our Dr. Freud. Mark my words, he won't get away with it." she growled through clenched teeth.

Lyle left, leaving the two of them with a very sleepy Angelo. Sydney could smile again, "I must admit, Parker, I’m impressed.”

"I've always said I should have taken to acting."

Her official phone rang, and she knew this could be no one else but Jarod.

"What?" she asked, a bit annoyed.

"Welcome back to the good old times, Miss Parker." Jarod chanted.

"I must admit this wasn't one of your more successful presents, lab rat." she replied with frustration.

"Perhaps you're right, but they say, don’t kill the messenger."

"So, tell me, postman, what does that message mean?"

"That nobody's safe at The Centre anymore. Not even the hunters." he answered. He knew that this phone was controlled, he had called that number on purpose, to corroborate appearances. Later, he would make Parker forgive him for this conversation.

"You're saying that I’m a prey, too?" she asked, sarcastically.

"I'm just saying." Jarod took a break filled with tension, "that I'm not the only one who must run from The Centre anymore."

"I’ll keep my eyes open."

"If I were you, I'd watch my back, Miss Parker. Sweepers aren't as…reliable as they used to be."

So said, he hung up. Jarod let put a chuckle he was holding, but Parker had to control her emotions. If she hadn’t known how much in love the damned pretender was with her, and that this phone call was just a façade, she would have spent whole day reflecting on Jarod’s words.

Fortunately, things had changed.

"Good old times, uh?" Sydney asked, smiling. An almost imperceptible grin appeared on her face before while she walked back to her office.

End Notes:

I'm sure you weren't surprised at all.

Let me know! :)

Chapter 12: An Ordinary Hero by missparker87
Author's Notes:

This is going to be a transitional chapter. The story is going on faster, from now on. And it's far from being over!

I'm a huge user of Tumblr. In case you didn't know, this is my account

beerok23/

I usually post photoset from The Pretender. Gifs, Pics, and Quotes.

I love this social network, I feel it was made for people like me!

Anyway, a few months ago I read this post:

"Only a Michael T. Weiss fan knows just how annoying Foo Fighters can be."

I laughed so much, because it's true: when you look for "the pretender" on the web you might find 2 kind of posts.
- those talking about this amazing show
- those talking about Foo Fighters, 'cause their most famous song is called "The Pretender".

Anyway, I laughed because I love them both. I love Foo Fighters so much, I guess as much as I love this show.

So I thought, "Why not using this coincidence in my fanfic?". And so, here it is. This chapter is all about this strange idea I had. I know many of you won't like it, but, hey. It's all in our mind, isn't it?

Not an English speaker, blah blah blah.

See previous chapters to know the reasons why I'm not really the best writer around here! :)

I also want to say Thank You to my wonderful Beta Readers, Antoinette & DanielleSmileyFace!

That evening Jarod was really looking forward for Parker’s return. He had spent the whole afternoon waiting. It wasn’t easy for him to feel like that. He was the one who usually dictated the rules of the game, the one who had the situation under control, the one who decided what to do with others’ lives. His mind games used to be his pursuers’ daily occurrence; his pranks drove them crazy.

Now, everything was different. He had to wait for the others to move a pawn and make the next move, and this was driving him crazy.

 

So, when he finally heard the noise of the keys in the lock, he ran towards the door, careless of the fact that Parker could have been accompanied by a sweeper, or Lyle, or Raines, or anyone else.

 

Jarod stood behind the door and waited for those never-ending legs to walk in. The miniskirt she wore under a silk blue blouse was already causing him shortness of breath.  

 

Careless of the fact that he would scare her to death, he got next to her in silence, he eagerly put his hands around her waist and dragged her to him in a sudden and quick gesture, starting to kiss her neck, smelling her intoxicating scent.

 

Initially, Parker was startled, then she realized that this could only be Jarod, so she let herself go to those wonderful attentions that were already melting her down.

 

“A little birdie told me that you had a verbal confrontation with your prey, this afternoon.”

 

“Yeah, he was really annoying.” she played the game, appreciating more and more the touch of his lips on her neck. “Not only did he say I’m a sweepers’ huntress, but he even dared to hang up on me.”

 

“Such a rude guy. I should teach him some good manners. Nobody should tease such a charming huntress.”

 

Parker smiled, while Jarod stroked her belly, “The two statues were really awful.”

 

Jarod stopped kissing her at once, “Hey! It took me a whole afternoon to shape them, you know?”

 

Parker turned around, an intriguing look on her face, “And when did you find the time to make them? While I was sleeping, or while I was in the shower?”

 

Jarod looked at her in amusement, “They were the main meal of one of the gifts I wanted to send you just in case you…didn’t show up in New Haven.”

 

She nodded, putting her hands on his, still accurately placed on her belly.

 

“You must admit, this was much funnier.” he whispered to her.

 

“I know something that could be even more fun.” she said to his ear.


After a couple of hours spent in bed together, they finally made up their minds and moved back to the living room to spend a quiet night. Parker was drinking an herbal tea that Jarod had recommended to contrast the omnipresent nausea, and she had to admit it was working.

 

Ethan would arrive soon, so they both wanted to wait up for him.  

 

Parker sat on the couch while Jarod kept the fire burning. That new sensation of intimacy, the feeling of sitting there in silence without the need to speak, everything allowed them to feel at peace, even if the war was far from being over. This was how their life could be. Spending time together, just looking at each other, because a glance was enough to understand what they felt. For example, at that moment Parker knew that Jarod was amused, but she couldn’t figure what was making him smile like that.

 

Maybe the simple fact that Angelo was out of danger had put him in a good mood.

 

“What’s with that smile?” she asked him, blowing on her tea. She took a sip of it, then she put the mug on the table.

 

“A couple of years ago, I pretended to be a roadie for a famous rock band. Maybe you’ve heard of them, the leader was the former drummer of Nirvana, which as you know I missed.”

 

“You didn’t miss anything, Jarod.” she disagreed, knowing the history, “Cobain was a chronic depressed guy plagued by mental problems that he probably created on his own. He couldn’t accept the weight of his success and the band died too, when he shot himself. He broke the heart of millions of teenagers all over the world.”      

 

Jarod grimaced, “That’s not how Dave used to tell the story.” he contradicted Miss Parker.

 

She opened her mouth in disbelief. She wasn’t that huge lover of grunge, nor rock, nor any kind of noisy music. She’d never really enjoyed screamers. But she knew Nirvana, and she also knew the group born from their ashes, the Foo Fighters.

 

“You want to me to believe that you went on tour with Dave Grohl?”

 

“He needed a very good roadie, and I was recommended to him as the best.” he said, with a huge smile on his face. Parker grinned, too.

 

“Well, apparently you befriended one of the best drummers ever.”

 

“Dave is a crazy man, but he is also sensitive. We became friends, I particularly loved one of his songs, it felt like it talked about me.”

 

“Which one?”

 

Jarod remembered mechanically the song lyrics.

  Truth or consequence, say it aloud
  Use that evidence, race it around

  There goes my hero
  Watch him as he goes
  There goes my hero
  He’s ordinary

“A song talking about the ordinary nature of heroes. I never felt like a hero, but that song…every time the band performed it, the crowd got crazy, and I couldn’t understand why.”

 

“Kids love shouting and drinking beers at concerts – that might have been a huge shock to you.” she replied, teasing him.

 

Jarod ignored her joke. “That was the first time I felt closer to contemporary music. Everything that Dave writes makes sense, his words…well, they always make me ponder.”

 

“So why were you smiling, before?” she asked, remembering the reason why they were having that conversation.

 

“Because Dave promised me that one day, he’s going to write a song about me.” he concluded, a smile full of triumph on his face.

 

“Oh, stop it.” she mocked him.

 

“I told him the truth, you know? I told him that I’m a pretender. That I can be anyone I want to be.”

 

“And you enchanted him to the point he was inspired to write a song? Knowing his style, it won’t probably be a love ballad.”

 

“Yeah, I don’t think so. But he said that when the moment comes, I’ll notice without the need of a public dedication. He knows I cannot risk being tracked.”

 

By now, Parker was incredulous, “Why did you confide in a stranger? Just because he was a famous singer?”

 

Jarod got closer to Parker, his face as close as possible to hers, “Because he confided in me, too, and it felt good to reciprocate. I spoke to him about you, too.”

 

“And what did you tell him?” she whispered, placing a soft peck on his lips.

 

“That some songs he wrote made me think about an Ice Queen that I rarely saw because we couldn’t be together. But that I kept walking behind her until our hearts would eventually beat in unison.”


  I cannot be without you
  matter of fact
  I’m on your back    

  If you walk out on me
  I’m walking after you

  Another heart cracked
  in two
  I’m on your back

“You’re a poet too, now, Jarod?” she asked him, secretly stunned by those words.

 

“I’m a pretender full of surprises, aren’t I?” he answered, kissing her.

 

They let themselves go to effusions, so Jarod sat down on the couch where she was sitting. In a few seconds they were lying on it, kissing passionately.

 

“Errrrr...” somebody cleared his voice at their back.

 

Jarod broke away from Parker and they both stood up to see their brother amused look. He winked at them, and Parker thought she’d never seen Jarod so embarrassed in his whole life.

 

Ethan rubbed his hands after clapping them one against the other, “So, siblings. It seems to me that you didn’t have any problems in spending your time during the wait.”

 

Parker covered her face with her hands, she wanted to bury herself.

 

Jarod reached his brother and hugged him, glad to see that he was back safe and sound.

 

“So, you two have a couple of news for me, don’t you?”

 

“The voices are irritating sometimes. I had hoped to be the one to tell you.” Miss Parker complained.

 

“Sis…” Ethan smiled, hugging her with tenderness.

 

“It seems that you’re having a niece.” she explained.

 

Ethan wondered how they could already know, seeing that the voices hadn’t been much clear about that.

 

“Angelo says it’s a girl. So, I know it’s going to be a girl.” Parker continued, realizing that it was also the first time she was saying this to Jarod.

 

The glimmer of immense joy she saw in his eyes was enough to fill her up with happiness.


Jarod and Miss Parker were still waiting for Ethan to reveal what he had discovered. His parting had allowed him to recover the intel that members of the Triumvirate were traveling to The Centre, but it couldn’t be just that.

 

“After Adama’s death, The Centre made it look like Jarod was his murderer.”

 

Jarod opened his eyes in shock and stared at Miss Parker in a comical way, as if he had a question mark over his head. She had completely forgotten about this particular piece of information.

 

“Raines convinced them that you broke free on the jet and killed him and his guards, then you parachuted away with the Scrolls.” She recited.

 

“I guess finding Mr. Parker with the Prophecies made them change their minds.” Jarod commented.

 

Ethan nodded, “The new chairman is Adama’s brother, a man named Hasani. He turned out to be very vindictive towards you, until he found Mr. Parker and the Scrolls.”

 

“And he’s getting to Blue Cove?” Jarod asked.

 

Ethan nodded again, “With a big group of guards and his main coworkers. If we take them, we take the whole Triumvirate.”

 

“Great!” Parker almost yelled.

 

“Not really.” Ethan observed.

 

Jarod grimaced, “I knew this was too good to be true. What else?”

 

Ethan sighed, he didn’t know how to tell them, so he thought it was better to show them. He took another paper from his bag and gave it to his siblings.

 

“I didn’t send Mr. Broots this one because I wanted to tell you in person.”

 




Seeing your total inability to find Jarod, I’ve decided to come to The Centre and rearrange the pursuit. Your team never got the desired results, we also believe it might have been compromised. The psychiatrist’s unsuccessful murder is enough proof. I will personally choose new agents to hunt Jarod, we cannot allow Miss Parker to help him destroying what we’ve firmly worked for in the last decades. Until further notice, the Centre only has one goal: find Jarod and take him back.  

 

When we catch him, we can finally eliminate Miss Parker.

 

We’ll then wait for the kid to be ready to take Jarod’s place.

 

Knowing who his parents are, he should become the best pretender we’ve ever had.

 

Our last request concerns Catherine Parker; we know she’s still alive and we are also aware that all your efforts to silence her were inconclusive.

 

She and Margaret Charles will certainly try to make contact with Jarod and Miss Parker to help them finding the truth. Jarod is looking for them, he’ll do whatever he can to reunite with his mother, but we must prevent this.

 

The consequences of a meeting between them would be catastrophic.

 

Don’t disappoint me again, Mr. Raines.

Hasani

 


Miss Parker was shocked, and maybe for the first time in her life she was really afraid. Not only her life was in danger, now, but also Michael’s, and her baby’s. Jarod crumpled up the paper and threw it in the fireplace, Ethan was looking at him with resignation.

 

This is what Angelo was talking about.” Parker finally realized, nodding to herself.

 

“You became expendable, sis. They know what you mean to Jarod, they want to kill you before you help him destroying The Centre.”

 

“And they want to keep our mothers away from us.” Jarod interjected him with scorn and anger.

 

“This mail was addressed to Raines. You really think he’d kill his own daughter, now that he revealed you the truth?” Ethan asked Miss Parker.

 

“Maybe it was just another way to deceive me and distract me while he summoned a hangman for his fork.” she pointed out, sarcastically.

 

“This is not the time for jokes, Parker.” Jarod reproached her. “This is getting serious. I must take you away from here, some place you can hide. Then Ethan and I can plan and make you leave the country. Europe, maybe Australia – ”

 

“Or maybe Mars!” Miss Parker shouted, standing up with indignation. “Jarod, I’m not leaving without a fight! This was just the appetizer, but there are other courses before the dessert. If Hasani is serious, they won’t kill me until they find you, and this won’t happen as long as I’m alive. And they don’t know that we know the truth about Michael. They don’t know you’re already working with the authorities to uncover The Centre dirty trades. And they don’t know that our mothers already left us a message.”

 

Jarod stood up with her. “Parker, you can’t be so stubborn not to realize that we’re talking about your life and also our son and daughter’s.”

 

“You think I don’t know that?” she yelled in response. “I’m the one who’s pregnant!”

 

Jarod snorted, “I know that, and that’s why I want you to go as far as possible from Blue Cove. God only knows when Raines is going to set his sweepers on you, look what just happened with Sydney!”

 

Jarod ran towards the window and started to look through it, with a paranoid attitude that really didn’t suit him.

 

Ethan couldn’t blame him, though. The voices were talking like crazy inside his head.

 

“I leave you two alone, I need to…get some rest.” he informed them, realizing that his siblings needed to decide what to do.

 

Parker mentally excused herself with Ethan, hoping that he would understand what she was feeling for Jarod. She was tired of his continuous attempts to protect her.

 

She approached him at the window and gave him her gun. “Take this.” she said.

 

He stared at the weapon almost in disgust.

 

“You need this, if you want to defend me against my potential killers, don’t you?”

 

Of all the excuses Jarod would have thought she would make, this wasn’t actually on the list.

 

“You can’t protect me if they really want to kill me, Jarod. And you’ve never believed that happiness is a warm gun.” She quoted one of her favorite songs.

 

“People can change!” he answered, but confusion was evident in his eyes. Even if his words told a different story, he was looking at the weapon with disgust.

 

“We both know how this is going to end. I’ll go back to The Centre tomorrow as if nothing happened. And you won’t be able to sleep, so you’ll probably call Sydney in the middle of the night to confess him your fears and ask him to protect me, whatever it takes.”

 

Jarod sighed. Did she know him so well?

 

“He will promise to do anything he can to help me and keep me safe, as he’s done in the last thirty years.”

 

Jarod turned around to look her, “You forgot the part where I get to The Centre in secret to take Michael and we leave to reach the other side of the world.”

 

Miss Parker smiled, she knew he would never do that. Jarod was challenging her, but he knew this was a lost cause.

 

“For a genius, sometimes you say very stupid things.” she mocked him.

 

At that moment, Jarod’s phone rang. Not many people would call at that time. Parker took the chance to put the safety to her gun and take it back in her bedroom.

 

“What?” Jarod answered the phone.

 

Andrea Zane’s voice replied from the other end, “Jarod, I’m it’s late, but I’ve got important news.”

 

“It’s never too late to do the right thing!” he answered, smiling.

 

“You were right about The Centre and its sponsors. We’ve got a long list of children who were kidnapped during the sixties. Even if they came from different countries, the similarities of their disappearances make us think that there was a sofisticated plan behind their abductions.”

 

“Did you discover the children’s names?” Jarod asked, a bit worried.

 

Zane waited a few seconds, “Yeah, the list was sent to us by a very trusted source, a Middle Man who’s been giving intel to F.B.I. and N.S.A. for years, even if we don’t know who he is.”

 

Zane waited a couple of seconds before asking the next question, “Jarod, you were one of those children?”

 

Jarod felt the need to be honest to the woman who was helping him, “It’s complicated. But that’s not important. Did you find anything about the benefactors of The Centre in Africa?”

 

Zane nodded even before answering, “I told you, I still need an access from the inside. They tell me we need a door, not visible to them, but only to us. If they discovered you, it would be dangerous.”

 

“You have no idea.” Jarod agreed.

 

Zane didn’t understand what Jarod had to do with that place, “What’s going on, Jarod? Something tells me that you know much more than you want me to believe. And something tells me that the Alex of that list of kidnapped children is the same chameleon we’ve been chasing together last year.”

 

“Zane, please, try and go on with the investigation without including my name. I will provide you that access from the inside, but you have to trust me.”

 

Zane sighed, “I made the big mistake of not believing you, once. And then I had to change my mind. I really want to trust you, Jarod, but I’m being pressured, too. My boss wanna know where I got the intel.”

 

Jarod had an epiphany. Maybe it was time to involve his family.

 

“Listen, I’ll contact my father. He can meet you and he knows the whole story, he can witness against The Centre.”

Jarod sensed Miss Parker’s presence behind him. She had listened to the last part of the conversation and she look thrilled.

 

Finally, Jarod was going to reveal the truth about The Centre to the authorities, even if that meant putting Broots, Sydney and herself in danger.

 

“Your father? He has information about that place?”

 

“You betcha. He lives with a boy, a kid who was kidnapped by The Centre, we helped him escape just some time ago. He can tell you what happens there, he will explain how they intended to exploit his abilities.”

 

“Jarod – ” Zane wasn’t completely convinced, “There are people, here…they keep asking what happened to you, after the chameleon’s death. Not everybody believes that you were on the right side. I don’t know if I can cover for you for long; sooner or later someone is going to put two and two together and realize that you were the person behind this investigation.”

 

“I just need some more time. Three days tops.” Jarod begged her, while he looked at Miss Parker. Three days and all the vip members of the Triumvirate would be gathered together at The Centre.

 

“Three days.” Zane agreed.

 

“Thanks, Andrea.”

 

After hanging up, Jarod closed the distance between himself and Miss Parker. “We have 48 hours to figure out our counter-offensive. I need Broots to help me open that door; Zane must get that access to The Centre archives.”

 

“Even if the two of you manage to create a connection without being discovered, which I strongly doubt, they couldn’t read the files.” Parker replied.

 

“The Centre’s is split in different databases; the server map was created on the basis of one of my simulations. I know exactly how it works, and I know that you can bypass that.”

 

Parker shook her head, “Those files were split on different Data Annex throughout the States, Jarod. It won’t be easy to access all of them, you should have about…twenty different access codes to penetrate the various databases, and you could decode the documents only with all the keys, because their encryption is switched in about thirty different locations!”

 

“39 different locations.” Jarod specified, reaching for his laptop. “I’ve localized just 38 of them. I’ve never known the actual location of the last Data Annex, that is top secret information, inaccessible.”

 

“A dead end.” Parker commented, looking at the map appearing on Jarod’s computer.

 

“You’re right about this, we can’t do nothing without the last location.” He admitted.

 

At that very moment, Ethan reappeared in the room, wearing a more comfortable shirt and a pair of slight trousers.

 

“You stop fighting, guys?” he asked, ironically.

 

When Ethan looked at the Data Annex map, he recognized it, “I know that.”

 

Jarod and Parker looked at each other, then stared at Ethan. “Meaning?”

 

“Mr. Raines, he made me develop this server-net years ago. He said it was a project to speed up The Centre data transmission, but I never got the specifics.”

 

“Ethan, these 38 stations are the key to gain access to all the secrets of The Centre.” Jarod informed his brother. “All the archives.”

 

“There’s something wrong, though. I planned for 39 of them.” Ethan gently noticed.

 

Jarod couldn’t wait anymore, his voice full of hope. “Do you remember the location of the one that’s missing in this map?”

 

Parker was hanging on his words. Ethan stretched out his hand and indicated a point on the map, “The thirty-ninth had to be in a neuralgic point, Jarod. I’m surprised you didn’t realize on your own.”

 

Jarod smirked, “The Centre.”

 

“Where nobody would expect it to be.” Ethan commented, patting his brother’s shoulder.

 

Jarod grinned, he’d never been happier. Parker chuckled, “You’re a genius, little brother!”

 

“More than Jarod?”

 

Parker hushed for a second, Jarod was staring at her, “Well, if we manage to get the access to the archives, I’ll have to concede Ethan the labrat-of-the-year prize, boy genius.”

 

Jarod smiled, “I can deal with that.”

End Notes:

Reviews would be very appreciated! :)


Here are the lyrics to the songs mentioned in this chapter.

"My Hero"


Too alarming now to talk about
Take your pictures down and shake it out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

Don't the best of them bleed it out
While the rest of them peter out
Truth or consequence, say it aloud
Use that evidence, race it around

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

Kudos, my hero
Leaving all the best
You know my hero
The one that's on

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary
There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
He's ordinary

"Walking After You"

Tonight I'm tangled in my blanket of clouds
dreaming aloud
things just won't do without you
matter of fact
I'm on your back

if you walk out on me
I'm walking after you

if you'd accept surrender
I'll give up some more
weren't you adored
I cannot be without you
matter of fact
I'm on your back

if you walk out on me
I'm walking after you

another heart cracked
in two
I'm on your back

[MUSIC & LYRICS BY FOO FIGHTERS]

Chapter 13: Operation Reset by missparker87
Author's Notes:

As I told you before, things are going to get faster from now on. 

Chapter 13 has some action, finally! The boys are making a step forward to destroy The Centre.

It's written a bit in an Alias style, because that's my favorite tv show.

Oh, and I love Agent Zane. I've always thought she has something irresistible. She seems nice and tough at the same time :)

If you don't like the code names I chose, well...Next time write your own story!

And as usual thank to my wonderful Beta Readers, Antoinette & DanielleSmileyFace!

THE CENTRE

Two days later – 9.47 a.m.

It had taken Jarod, Miss Parker, Sydney, Broots and Ethan a whole day to project their plan to get inside The Centre archives. Seeing the importance of the mission, all of them had to be at the right place at the right time, with no exception.

Seeing Broots and Jarod’s computer skills, they would be the ones to penetrate The Centre security system, while Ethan would process data during the download to decipher them in real time. Jarod feared that there might be more safety precautions arranged by The Centre, which could lead to data cancellation in case of archives hacking. He couldn’t risk losing such a good chance.

Agent Zane had been alerted, she was waiting for their transmission to start, helped by a crowd of the more skilled N.S.A. computer-technicians; should everything go well, she would have enough evidence to organize a raid to The Centre the following day, along with F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents, trusted persons whom Jarod had worked with over the years.

The plan was easy; Broots and Parker would inform Lyle that Jarod had been seen elsewhere, making him leave the Centre for just enough time to allow Jarod and Ethan to break into the server room. Unfortunately, to make it more believable, Miss Parker would need to get away with her twin. Her staying at The Centre could arouse suspicion.

Broots and Sydney, on the contrary, wouldn’t go. The psychiatrist had the excuse for staying back because he wanted to watch over Angelo during his recovery therapy. Actually, Sydney’s assignment was to check on Raines’s movements.

Angelo was feeling better and better and he was eventually out of danger. He had also stopped repeating that Miss Parker and Jarod were in danger; now, he seemed much more interested in the baby the woman was carrying. The day before he had given Parker a drawing portraying her with a very huge tummy. To the unaware eye, the portrait would remind them of Catherine while she was pregnant.

Miss Parker was a bit anxious because she was afraid that Angelo would unintentionally reveal something to Lyle or Raines. But he removed all doubts from her when he told her, “Your baby is a secret. Miss Parker is finally happy, and Angelo, too.”

Maybe for the first time in her life, she had given her childhood friend a huge and honest hug, realizing how much she cared for him. 


That morning Parker had broken into Lyle’s office with Broots, ready to play her part.

“Looks like St. Nick came sooner – or later, depending on the point of view.”

“What do you want, sis?” Lyle asked her, a bit annoyed by her intrusion in his office. He was writing to Hasani, and Miss Parker was the very last person he wanted around while communicating with the Triumvirate.

“Our favorite fugitive made a false move, Lyle. Jarod is in New York, and if we hurry, we might get him, this time.”

Lyle seemed torn between the hunt and the mail he was writing. He knew how important it was to capture Jarod, but so was what he was doing. The message included the details for Hasani’s arrival at The Centre, and it had to be perfect.

“Sis, why don’t you go on your own?”

Parker felt a shiver down her spine. A refusal from Lyle was not expected, she had to convince him to leave.

“Well, if you want me to take the whole credit for Jarod’s capture, you just have to ask, Lyle. I thought you were wiser than that. You’re making this so simple for me.” She chuckled. so said she went towards the door, followed by a very nervous Broots.

Miss Parker was almost sweating, but she had to be resolute.

“Parker!” Lyle called out, after a long fight with himself, “Can’t you give me an hour?”

“As you know, the lab rat sniffs our smell even before we set foot out of here, so this seems a question that doesn’t deserve an answer. Well, come to think about it, the fact that you’re anchored to that chair would make us less recognizable to Jarod’s nose.”

Parker hit the mark; Lyle stood up, in a visible fury, and reached her, “Let’s go.”

As soon as he went out, Parker sent Broots a knowing glance and after a nod, he ran away. Parker let Lyle walk a few meters in front of her, then she took Jarod’s safe cell phone.

“It seems that Lyle and I are chasing you, together, like good little siblings.” she whispered, while walking through The Centre corridors.  

“Fine. Be careful when you get there; I’ve left a very special surprise for Lyle in the lair.”

“What kind of surprise?” she smiled to herself.

“Let’s just say that you should let Lyle be the first one to enter.”

“Who were you pretending to be, this time?”

“A sewer worker.” he answered from the other side, smiling.

“You said you hoped you’d never have to do it.” she said, laughing. She remembered what Jarod had told her after being held hostages at the Dover Town Bank.

“And in fact I didn’t, I just…pretend I did!”

Parker sighed, “Be careful.”

“You too.”

Jarod hung up.

Parker looked at her brother, moving in the distance, then she sighed. She didn’t need to be careful because she would be far from there, while the people she loved the most in the world would be at The Centre, risking their lives. She’d never felt less useful before, even if her inner sense was saying that she was doing the right thing.


Broots was counting the minutes that still separated him from 10.00, the time when “Operation Reset” would start, as Jarod and Ethan had named it.

Still three minutes to go, he had to stay calm. He was ready at his laptop, while Sydney was in Angelo’s room, pretending to assist him during his healing, but as much ready as Broots to intervene, should it be necessary. Jarod and Ethan were already positioned at the entrance of The Centre air ducts, waiting for Broots’s sign to start crawling their way inside the building. They would enter as Jarod always did: in the very same way he had escaped the first time.

Carrier, do you copy?” Jarod asked, testing the earphone he had borrowed from the Agency.

“Loud and clear, Rogue.”   

Jarod looked at Ethan with satisfaction. They had chosen code names even to avoid anyone discovering that he and his brother were getting into The Centre, in case should they ever find out.

Keeper, do you copy?” Jarod continued.

“Here we go, Rogue. Ready to move should it be necessary.” Sydney commented, looking at Angelo who had recently started to walk again and seemed rather tense.

Zed, do you copy, too?”

Agent Zane was at the other side of that transmission, listening to the whole conversation in her office; her technicians were ready to download the data that Jarod and Broots would send at any moment.

“Everything’s packed and ready here at base camp. Good luck.” she commented.

We’re going to need it, Jarod thought.

“It’ll be fine.” Ethan cheered him up.

“Do the voices think so?” he asked.

“Nope, this time it’s just me, hoping for the best.” his brother confessed.

Ten o’clock. Jarod gave Ethan a look and then spoke, “Carrier, we’re moving.”

§

Broots started to upload the looped images of all The Centre surveillance videos. Jarod and Ethan had to reach Sublevel 23, where Broots had verified the presence of Server 39 at The Centre.

“I’ve never even noticed, but a huge data amount converges in one room only, which is located in SL-23. It seems that it is an abandoned area, where nobody ever goes, but I’m pretty sure that it shields the access to The Centre’s main net.” Broots explained to Miss Parker and Sydney.

“What makes you so sure?” the woman asked.

“Well, every computer net must have a main hub, and in that room the levels of used power are always at the highest, which makes me think that – ”

“There’s always an active data storage,” Parker concluded his explanation.

“Well, they couldn’t keep such a huge net alive without a large amount of power, and that’s The Centre location that uses the largest amount of electricity.”

“Great job, Broots.” Sydney commented.

Jarod and Ethan were crawling inside the ducts. They had been able to work out the shortest way to reach SL-23 with Angelo’s help, seeing that he knew those tunnels better than anyone else.

“You haven’t told me yet, what you would like to name my niece?” Ethan whispered, while the two siblings crawled across a rather narrow duct.

“Well,” Jarod answered, a bit strained, “I’ve always loved Cassandra’s myth, the Greek priestess with the ability to foresee the future.”

“You know what happened to Cassandra, don’t you?” Ethan asked Jarod, with uncertainty.

“Of course, but you asked me what name I liked and I told you the first one that came to my mind.”

“If you like mythology, why don’t you look at the Muses? I’ve always loved Clio.”

Jarod kept silence, without ceasing to crawl. If he ever got out of that situation, he would have to ask Parker if she liked the idea of naming their daughter after the Muse of History, whose symbol were…Scrolls.

“Where are we?” Ethan asked, always whispering.

“We need to turn right, here.” Jarod commented, looking at the GPS map that he had at his wrist.

§

Agent Zane was tense, pacing back and forth. She was afraid that Jarod and his men, whom she didn’t know anything about, would be discovered. But it was too important for them to get that access, and Jarod was ready to give his life to make her download the data. She wouldn’t waste a second to use them to destroy that abysmal place.

“Any news?” she asked her men.

“There’s no contact yet, agent Zane. They’ll be in touch.” one of them reassured her.

§

Parker was on the plane with Lyle and she couldn’t avoid looking at her mother’s watch. Remembering that Jarod was the one who had given it back to her made her sweat. At that very moment, he could be signing his warrant as an eternal prisoner of The Centre.

“Are you okay, sis?” Lyle asked her, seeing her so nervous and quiet.

“I just hope this time he won’t escape.” she commented. “I hate watching him running away under my nose, it makes me feel like an idiot.”

Amused by his sister’s confession, Lyle answered, “It’ll be very delightful to pay him back with the same currency when we eventually bring him back to The Centre.”

Miss Parker could only imagine what tortures Lyle had in his mind for Jarod, should he ever come back to the Centre. She hoped with all her heart she would never find out.

§

Jarod stopped in front of a grate above a corridor, “Here we are. Carrier, we’re in position.” he said at the earphone.

“Okay, Rogue. Is Oracle with you?”

“Yes, I am.” Ethan confirmed.

“Fine. Cameras are in loop and I will be able to keep them like that for fifteen minutes, we don’t have much time.” Broots informed them.

Keeper, are there any movements at the upper floors?” Jarod asked.

Sydney was now walking in the corridor of the management offices, where he was controlling Raines’s position. At that moment, he was in his office, unaware of what was happening a few feet beneath him. 

“The way is safe for the time being, Rogue.”

Jarod looked at Ethan, nodding in agreement, “Are there any sweepers beneath us, Carrier?”

Broots checked the real cameras of the sublevel. There was no trace of sweepers, they had accurately chosen the time of the day when the guards shifted. Moreover, there were no men inside the main server room. Its own safety was due precisely to the lack of sweepers. The computer could protect itself, thanks to all its defense mechanisms, unconsciously created by Jarod and Ethan while pretending for The Centre.

Jarod took an electric screwdriver to open the grate, then he got out of the duct, making way for his brother to get down, too. They both had a backpack with computer equipment. Jarod put the grate back at its place, without closing it. The two pretenders moved across the SL-23 corridor, which was dark and aseptic, much like all the other Centre hidden sublevels.     

“This isn’t definitely a Sunday picnic,” Jarod stated.   

“Neither the cocktail party for a book presentation.” Ethan said while they walked towards the control room. Jarod was following Broots’s direction, “The power backlog is right at the end of this corridor, in a room guarded with an Alpha Code opening, the highest authorization level.”

“And how do we get inside without the code?” Jarod asked, sure that Broots had thought about that, too. The two of them had reached the metal door, it would open only if they typed the right password.  

“The code changes every thirty seconds.” Broots explained, “Plug in the USB that I gave you, I’ll get the signal and I’ll try to bypass it from here.”

“And what if you don’t find it in thirty seconds?” Ethan asked.

“Well, then you have to run out of there as fast as you can.” Broots informed them.

Jarod took the key provided by Broots from his backpack and plugged it to the device. Immediately, a list of characters changing randomly and very fast appeared on it. The code would be ready as soon as Broots deciphered it.

“Twenty seconds, Carrier.” Jarod stated, noticing that the code was appearing too slowly.

“No pressure, Ja…Rogue.”

Jarod and Ethan saw the code forming on the device and when it was complete, Jarod typed it on the keyboard as fast as he could. The door opened with a dull noise and the two of them slipped through it without any problems. They both breathed a sigh of relief. Now, the main control room was in front of them, one more step and all the information of The Centre database would be in their possession.  

Jarod and Ethan prepared their respective laptops and Jarod connected with the main hub. More or less, it didn’t look much different than any other computer, but its importance was evident, at that moment. Jarod started to work on his terminal and he reached the point when he needed the access passwords.

“Here we go, Carrier…It’s time to do some magic. Keeper, now it’s your turn.”    

§

When he heard his name, Sydney walked towards Raines’s office and entered without knocking.

“What the hell do you want?” the chairman asked.

“I thought you’d be glad to know that Parker and Lyle left after a sighting of Jarod in New York.” Sydney said.

“Why did you stay?” Raines inquired him, a bit suspicious.

“Angelo worries me. I want you to help me understand what’s going on with him. Since he got hurt, he doesn’t act the same as before.”

Sydney knew it wouldn’t be easy to make Raines take the bait. But he had always showed a soft spot for Angelo; he had been his main project, his first failed experiment that had later proved to be useful for The Centre.     

“What do you mean?” Raines asked, standing up.

“It seems to me that he isn’t as receptive as before…” Sydney lied, while reaching the desk. Between his hands, he had a sampler that he needed to put next to Raines’s computer without being seen. He leaned his arms on the desk, while Raines moved next to him. He could sense the huge disgust he felt for him. That was the moment when Sydney realized that Raines had certainly been the instigator of his murder.

“Did you take him to the room where we keep all Jarod’s stuff?” he asked him.

Sydney turned around and let the sampler slip next to the computer.

§

“That’s it! Oracle, Rogue, in a minute we’re going to have access to the computer and we’ll be able to download the passwords!” Broots yelled, starting to copy the information from Raines’s computer.

Jarod had waited for that moment for years, and now that he was actually living it, he couldn’t believe it.

§

“What are you going to do with Angelo?” Raines asked, while Sydney covered the sampler on the desk with his own body.

“I don’t know. This aggression shook him very much. As if he didn’t want anything to do with anybody anymore. I don’t think he’s going to be useful to The Centre anymore.”

“Are you suggesting we should eliminate him?” Raines asked, in a sadistic way.

Sydney stared at him, furious, “I was thinking about a relocation! Spending time outside would do him good. Maybe in a psychiatric clinic, he’d like it.”

Raines chuckled, “In all the years we’ve been working together I’ve never heard you say anything more ridiculous, Sydney. Now leave, I’ve got work to do.”

Keeper, we need twenty seconds, I’m not over yet.” Broots almost shouted in the earphone.

Sydney leaned and took Raines by his collar. “By the way…” he said through clenched teeth, “I know everything about your attempt to kill me. I know you ordered Willie to murder me. And I know that the fact you didn’t manage to reach your goal is driving you mad.”

Raines was looking at him in fathomless anger. 

“Rest assured, I will – not - allow you to harm anybody anymore, neither Angelo, nor Miss Parker!” he enunciated every word.

Jarod was very proud of Sydney, but he also realized that he had just bitten off more than he could chew; Raines wasn’t aware of the fact that they knew that Miss Parker was in danger, seeing that the Triumvirate had decided to eliminate her.

“Why should I hurt my daughter?” Raines asked him.

“When have you not?” Sydney replied, recovering from the previous slip up.

Keeper, we have the package. You can leave.” Broots said in the earphone.

Sydney let go of Raines’s jacket and put his hands behind his back, then he silently recovered the sampler while his rival got back to the desk that had once belonged to Mr. Parker. He didn’t seem to have noticed anything.

“It’s not over, Raines.” Sydney commented.

“You bet, Sydney.” the other whispered, grinding his teeth into a smirk which looked like a satisfied smile.

§

Jarod received the passwords from Broots and started to insert them mechanically and fast, without daring to breathe, such was the excitement. When he was over, he had to wait a few seconds; if everything went as he hoped, the server would start to show the 38 locations names and the files would all be downloaded.

“The longest ten seconds of my life.” Jarod murmured.

Broots was holding his breath, and so was Ethan.

The server gave a positive message and began to list all the locations, transferring all the data through the door opened by Jarod and Ethan.

“Bingo!” the pretender shouted, smiling.

Carrier, open communication with Zed!” Ethan said.

§

“Agent Zane, Jarod opened the communication door, he’s trasnferring all the data!”

“Be ready to close it as soon as we got everything!” Zane shouted in answer. 

§

Oracle, are you decoding?” Jarod asked.

“The software is working in real time, Rogue, we are going to need…four minutes!” Ethan communicated.

Oracle, we don’t have four minutes. The cameras loop will be over in two, after which you’ll be seen by the sweepers!” Broots shouted. In the meantime, he was controlling the movements of the sweepers, everything seemed normal.

“Find a way to keep them busy, Carrier, your job is over up there.” Jarod screamed, still typing codes at his keyboard.  

“How?” Broots asked.

“Think of something!” Jarod replied, angry.

§

Ethan was decoding all the files. As he processed them, he sent them through the door they had opened with the N.S.A. a few minutes before. 

“We’re at the twentieth location,” Jarod explained.

Ethan nodded, his eyes running over the command lines he was setting. At that moment, Jarod realized his fears had been well-founded; a few precautions set by The Centre became active, the system would delete the files in a matter of minutes. 

“No…No, no, no!” Jarod screamed.

“What’s going on?”

“The database had identified the external access, it activated a virus that’s going to delete all data!”

“How much time do we have?” Ethan asked, worried.

§

Broots entered the control room where a gorilla was checking all the screens in front of himself.

In one of them, Broots recognized the SL-23 room where Jarod and Ethan were in that very moment. In a few seconds, they would appear on the video.

“Uhm…I need help!” Broots shouted, capturing the man’s attention.

“What’s going on?” he asked, turning around.

§

“Damn it, we’re never gonna make it!” Jarod shouted.

“How many left?” Ethan asked.

“Four! And without those four we’ll never have the total data decryption! We’re going to miss some parts and we won’t be able to rebuild anything! Zed, are you downloading?” Jarod asked, opening communication.

“Yes, we are, the situation is under control here at base camp!” she said.

“Well, here it isn’t, we have a virus ready to come into operation and if we don’t stop it, all of this will be a useless waste of time!” Jarod explained.

“We can try and slow it down from our side. If we send some data through the communication door, maybe the system will see it as secondary access and it’ll take more time to activate the virus!” one of Zane’s technicians said.

“Do it!” she shouted, “Jarod, we’re trying to help you from our side.”    

“Great…” he commented, not very convinced.

“You’re not the only genius in the ocean, you know?” Ethan said in amusement.

“I certainly hope not.” Jarod stated.

§

“I’ve got a problem with my terminal, it appears that I’m running out of memory and I cannot work!” Broots told the sweeper.

“Call for a technician!” he answered, he didn’t look like an informatics engineer, just a careful observer of the control screens.

Right then, Broots saw Jarod and Ethan appearing on the video and he winced, because the man was turning around again. Feeling cornered, Broots took the man by his jacket and turned him towards himself.

“But you must help me! It seems that I’m the only one who can do things, here, but you don’t know how difficult it is to have the reputation of the one who must solve all the problems!” he shouted, pretending that he was complaining.

§

“We’re at the last location, Zed! Oracle, how much time for the decryption?”

“Thirty seconds, Rogue!”

“Unbelievable, it seems that your intervention actually slowed down the virus! I think we can make it…”

“Even here at the N.S.A. we have resources, Rogue!” Zane commented.

Jarod smiled while the server showed the message of data download complete. He unplugged his laptop quickly, but Ethan still needed a few seconds.

§

“Listen, geek, I don’t have time to waste!” the sweeper replied, standing up and showing Broots all his height.

Broots let his eye fall on the video; Jarod and Ethan were still there.

“Hey, I’m just asking for ten minutes to help me restore my terminal!” Broots begged, more and more afraid of the situation.

§

“We’re over! The files are deciphered, Zed did you receive the package?” Ethan asked.

The N.S.A. technician raised his thumb towards Agent Zane, then she smiled, “We got it, Oracle. Go home.”

Ethan unplugged the laptop and all the cables, then he threw them inside the backpack. He and Jarod ran out of the room and the door snapped behind them. The way was still free.

§

“Get out of here, if you don’t want me to kick you out!” the sweeper shouted, starting to cracking his fingers.

Broots noticed that Ethan and Jarod had just exited the room, so that camera was under control again. The next one showed them running towards the duct.

“Buddy…erm…I don’t want to fight…” Broots commented, retreating while the sweeper pushed him towards the door using his weight to terrorize him.

Meanwhile, he saw Jarod hoisting Ethan inside the duct, and a few seconds later the pretender disappeared, too, and the grate was back at its place.

“All right, man, I’m leaving. I’ll look for somebody else to help me.” Broots retreated.

The man looked at him menacingly while he exited, then he got back to his place. Everything seemed normal on the videos.

§

Carrier, we’re going out, we delivered the package. You did an awesome job!”

“Speak for yourself, I almost had a heart attack! You should see how big the surveillance technician was…” Broots explained to Jarod.

“Did you make it?” Sydney’s voice asked, he had been silent all that time, even if he had been listening to everything happening in SL-23.

“It’s not over yet, but the system didn’t activate the virus, all the data were downloaded. Carrier, close the door we created for the N.S.A.”

“Done.” Broots commented, back at his desk. It was unbelievable, they had really made it. And nobody seemed to have noticed.

“It was easy.” Ethan commented.

“Maybe too easy.” Jarod pointed out, while they were exiting the tunnel from which they had entered.

“I think the imminent visit of the Triumvirate lowered Raines’s level of caution. But be sure, they’re going to discover the intrusion.” Broots explained.

“Not if a very good tech gets rid of all the traces we left behind us…Starting from the surveillance video that shows us during the escape.” Jarod said.

At that moment the communication ended and Broots took off the earphone.

Always the worst jobs for me, he thought.

End Notes:

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews! :)

Chapter 14: Promises and Choices by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Chapter 14, wow I think we're going somewhere here. This part is about decisions, planning, and promises. There's fear for the future, but also hope.

And since in the last couple of days our twitter accounts are getting full of amazing news about this incredible show (thank to its creators, Steve and Craig), I'm full of hope too. We really want closure, and maybe we're going to have it, "soon". In a whole "brand new way", they said.

But, for now, let me go on with this story, because I feel it needs closure too :) My English is going to be full of typos and misprints. Maybe also wrong verbs and spelling. But, please, forgive me, as usual.

THE CENTRE
5.49 p.m.

Miss Parker was exhausted for the trip to New York. Not only had she spent many hours in her detestable brother’s company, but she had also found herself not allowed to laugh when she had seen the little surprise Jarod had prepared for Lyle.   
Sydney welcomed the woman along with Broots and Angelo; they all looked very glad to see her.
“Parker! You’re finally back, where’s Lyle?” Sydney asked, reaching her and stroking her arm in a very paternal way. She smiled at him, betraying her secret relief of being home with the people she truly cared about.
“I guess he’s having a series of hot showers, at the moment.” she explained, putting her gun inside her desk drawer.
“Showers?” Broots asked, while he was checking on Angelo who was playing with the puppets Jarod had sent.
“Boy Wonder didn’t tell you what he left in New York?”
Right then, Parker’s “official” phone rang and she hurried to answer, then she sat at her desk. She knew she had to keep her Ice Queen façade, when she spoke through that device.
“What!” she pretended to be annoyed and put in speakerphone so that Syd and Broots could also hear.
“I’ve been told that Lyle found himself enveloped by what looks most like him, Miss Parker.”
Sydney looked at her questioningly, she was smiling, and her voice was betraying her amused expression. “I imagine I should thank my lucky star that my cannibal-brother entered your lair before I did, Jarod. Where did all that rubbish come from?”
Broots couldn’t help but figuring the scene of Lyle immersed under a mountain of crap.
“You wouldn’t believe how many things you can find down in the sewers, Miss Parker, even the most hidden secrets.”
Parker had found a message addressed to her, in Jarod’s lair. She showed it to Sydney and Broots, who looked at it with curiosity.

Be careful about the waste you throw away.

After that sentence, Jarod had put the mail from the Triumvirate which had given Raines the confirmation for Sydney’s death sentence order. The doctor wasn’t that amazed, he had already realized on his own that his forever-rival might have been the one giving the order. But to Lyle and Raines, that message would look like the umpteenth trail to follow left by Jarod to his pursuers; they couldn’t imagine that Sydney and Parker both already knew everything and have been collaborating with Jarod for days.
“Where are you going with this, Jarod? Do you think that you’re going to put us against each other? I’ve got news for you: I don’t need your little mental games to doubt Raines.”
At the other side of the device, Jarod realized again what an exceptional woman she was. Parker was playing her part in a sublime way, she wasn’t the same woman that would come back home that night and find him and Ethan waiting for her.
“No, Miss Parker, I know that our bald friend is not among your faves. But we all need someone we can trust, and you keep doing this with the wrong people.” he commented.
“And I assume we’re supposed to trust you, instead?!” she replied, pretending to sound mean.
Sydney and Broots couldn’t help but smile. If that conversation was really overheard, nobody would doubt Miss Parker. Angelo was grinning with satisfaction: he felt how much that woman was carefully choosing every word, even if, deep inside, she felt nothing but unconditional love, for Jarod.
“I don’t think you’ll ever be able to do that, but maybe you should start trust someone else.”
“Who?” she asked, in a whisper.
“Yourself.”
So said, he hung up. Miss Parker smirked.
“Astonishing.” Broots commented.
Parker smiled and regained control on herself. That night, probably, she wouldn’t easily let go of that conversation. She wanted to understand Jarod’s point of view better. In bed, obviously.
“What about “Reset”?” Parker asked.
“Our carriers tracks were all erased by Broots. There aren’t any signs of their presence. The whole operation was a success, and the package was delivered.” Sydney explained. Parker nodded in satisfaction.
“But - if we’re really safe, and if we checked that there aren’t any bugs in this room, why do we keep speaking in code?” Broots asked.
“At the Centre, even walls have ears.” Parker commented.



One hour later, Lyle was back at The Centre and he entered Parker’s office full of rage. Behind him, Raines was following.
“It seems that our beloved Jarod had left that lair at least a month ago, our trail was a bit old, wasn’t it?”
Parker smiled in an almost wicked way, “Maybe he wanted to let the rubbish rot so that you could find it even more putrid once we got there, Lyle!”
He completely ignored her comment. That wasn’t the reason he was there.
“There’s something very important we must tell you. We didn’t want to inform you before; we were afraid that the information might leak out and Jarod would find out.” Lyle said, glaring at Sydney.
“What is it about? We’re having a party for your first six months without homicides?” she asked, a devilish smile on her lips.
“The Triumvirate members are getting here, tomorrow.”
Parker shut up. So, they were finally telling her the “truth”. Of course, all the people in that office already knew, but they had to pretend to be unaware. Maybe, even pretend to be a bit tense.
“Why?” Sydney asked, “In many years they’ve never bothered to come here.”
“You’re forgetting the time when Matumbo took his sorry ass here to take Jarod’s clone away with him.” Miss Parker interjected him.
“Things change.” Raines stated with his soar voice. “Hasani, Adama’s brother, wants to get here to check our work.”
“Why should this interest us?” Parker asked.
“Because Hasani is mostly interested in the way you’re leading Jarod’s pursuit. In Africa, they’re all very upset for the failures of the last six years and a half, they’re looking for someone to blame.” Lyle explained.
Parker grinded her teeth and got next to her brother, “It’s not my fault if that lab rat does nothing but slip away like a molting snake.”
Sydney agreed with Parker’s metaphor, “What is it that they really want?”
“Jarod is never coming back to The Centre, and the Africans are starting to realize that. Not to mention that his pretending skills might be useless, should he come back against his will and should we force him…to cooperate.”
Parker had to contain another attack of nausea. The mere thought of Jarod trapped in a cell at The Centre, drugged and hurt by her brother to make him work on simulations, made her feel sick.
“But we have a new project to offer.” Raines continued. “Your little brother is the key for our future, your father always knew; he’s going to be trained to follow Jarod’s footsteps.”
Sydney sensed the woman’s motion of anger when she heard them talking about her son like an object. Angelo, who was still sitting on the floor, reached Miss Parker’s side, unnoticed. Feeling his near presence, the woman felt a bit reassured. Even her voices were inviting her to keep a straight face.
“Your plans for the baby are to exploit him for all his life, as you did with Jarod, Kyle, Angelo, Alex…they’re all perfect and successful experiments, aren’t they? What does the Triumvirate think about this”
Raines looked at her furiously, “The baby will be a very good pretender, he has it in his blood!”
“My father and Brigitte’s son? And how could it be? If he took it from his mother, he wont even know how to add two and two!” Miss Parker replied, wanting to understand how far Raines would go. She was sure he would never tell her the truth.
“Your sense of humor is not appreciated by the Triumvirate; try and be careful what you say, tomorrow.” Lyle changed the subject. Then the two men headed for the exit.
“What are they going to do with the baby?” Sydney asked, already knowing the answer but not wanting to hear it.
“Hasani’s plans are clear: they don’t have Alex anymore, and Jarod is untraceable. As soon as Baby Parker is ready, he’s going to be transferred to Africa.” Lyle said.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t have a soft skin, or he won’t be able to stay under the sun for long.” Parker replied, sarcastically.
Lyle and Raines exited, while the woman let herself go to some desperate sighs. When she almost fainted and collapsed to the floor, Sydney sustained her.
“Miss Parker!”
Broots helped Sydney to drag Miss Parker on the couch, Angelo reached her and took her hand tenderly.
“Miss Parker…Jarod…danger.” he said for the umpteenth time, with a more resigned tone, almost subdued. She was looking at him with tears in her eyes.
“Angelo…save…Michael.”
Parker stared at him, finally knowing what they had to do. Angelo was right, and the voices were confirming it.
Angelo will help you.
“What are we going to do?” Broots asked her.
“We need to save my son, no matter the cost.” she answered, still sighing. “And Angelo will help me.”
The empath looked at her, smiling.


MISS PARKER’S HOUSE
8.33 p.m.

“I must admit, Jarod, Reset was really a success.”
“It’s all going to be useless if you don’t set up an indictment and a warrant for a blitz by tomorrow.” Jarod complained.
Zane sighed. Her technicians had been working along with C.I.A. and F.B.I for hours, reading the data downloaded by Jarod and Ethan; they were discovering the weirdest things. A secret organization stealing children, exploiting their minds to make experiments well beyond the edge of legality to obtain contracts worth millions of dollars.
“The Centre is a well-oiled machine, Jarod; if we move too fast too soon, we might risk cutting off an arm of the monster. We could hurt it, yes, but to stop it, we must kill it!”
Jarod thought the metaphor was fitting like a glove. That was the reason why it was important for the N.S.A. to intervene the day after, when all the highest exponents of the Triumvirate would be at The Centre.
“Zane, you read those files. My brother and I have been working on them for hours. There are names, contracts, tests results, medical charts…all the evidence you need to bring the curtain down on The Centre for good.” he replied, angry.
In the meantime, Ethan was working at his laptop and selecting data and names to match with real people so that they could be charged with different crimes such as corruption, blackmail, extortion, kidnap, and even murder.  
“Jarod, there are hundreds of names, maybe thousands of connections to The Centre. That organization has been financing research with laundered money since the cold war, it’s not easy to find all those matches.”
“I don’t care if you cannot find the key to the problem!” Jarod almost growled. “You must move tomorrow, because the greatest Centre financiers, the Africans of the Triumvirate, will be there. You read about them; those people have no conscience. The money that the Centre gained illegally was also used to finance hundreds of conflicts in Africa, maybe even genocides!”
Jarod thought about the simulations he and Alex had performed; a few of them might have inspired the Ruanda genocide of 1994. One of the many sins he would never forgive himself for.
Zane didn’t know what to say, “I know it’s personal to you, Jarod.”
“Personal is a euphemism, agent Zane. My whole life was manipulated by people working in that place. It’s time for them to end up in the place they most belong to, behind bars!”
“Your father’s deposition was useful.” she commented changing subject.
“And what about the boy?” he asked, thinking about Jesse.
“I’m still wondering how is it possible that he looks exactly like the boy I saw in some of those videos of the 70’s…A boy who was trained by a man named Sydney.”
Jarod felt his blood almost freezing in his veins; Ethan sensed immediately his feelings of discouragement.
“You – you saw those videos?”
Jarod didn’t know that there was still a copy of his DSAs in The Centre database.
“Weird coincidence, his name is Jarod too, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not a very common name.”
“No. No, it’s not.” he whispered, getting quiet.
Zane understood she hit the mark. But she didn’t need anything else, because now she knew that the little boy grown up in captivity, far from his family, deserved that his kidnappers were punished.
“Jarod, I’ll do everything in my power to put together a team tomorrow. I’ll be in touch, but I can’t make promises.”
Jarod’s expression changed again as he started to smile. “Thank you, Zane. I knew I could trust you. And believe me, this will be payback for Eddie, too.”
Zane nodded to herself, thinking about her colleague and how much she still missed him.
“If I don’t hear from you in the next twelve hours, I’m getting there, with or without you.” Jarod said.
“You won’t have coverage, you must get inside at your own risk.”
“That’s why I still hope to hear from you in twelve hours.”
Jarod ended the call and looked at Ethan, then he sat next to him and rubbed his eyes. He was tired, but it wasn’t for the physical effort.
He was tired of being a fugitive. He wanted it to end. And now that he really had the chance to stop the Centre, he almost couldn’t believe it.
“She’s coming.” Ethan whispered.
Jarod lifted his eyes and looked at his brother expectantly, “You think so? What do the voices say?”
Ethan smiled, “That the prophecies will come true.”
“I hope only the part concerning us, little brother.” a voice behind them said.
It was Parker, she had entered the house silently to catch them by surprise, for once. Jarod stood up and hugged her with passion; Ethan looked at them with discretion and felt the usual sense of delight that Jarod and Parker emanated when they were together.
The kiss they shared was longer than usual, then she left his lips and gave him a punch on his arm. Jarod shouted and looked at her in amusement, “What was that for? The crap or the phone call?”
Parker looked at him furious, “For both! What did you mean? It didn’t seem to me that you were pretending at the phone!”
Ethan felt the air around them was so thick that he could cut it, so he stood up and moved away. “Er – I’m going to my bedroom to – ”
“Sit!” Miss Parker yelled, stopping her brother who sat again, terrorized.
“Parker, that was just a game, as we used to do before.”
“You had arranged it, hadn’t you?” she asked him, a bit hurt by the revelation. “You left that place a couple of months ago, that’s what Lyle said. If I hadn’t come to New Haven, you would have sent me there, wouldn’t you?”
Jarod smiled. “I would have done many other things if you hadn’t showed up. Certainly, I wouldn’t have done this.”
He approached her with caution and took her hand, placing a soft kiss on her palm. Ethan smiled for his brother’s shrewdness.
Miss Parker seemed to melt down a bit, “The Triumvirate mail, however, has been put there recently.”
Ethan coughed. “Er…I put it there the other day.” he explained, feeling he had to give her an explanation.
Parker giggled, “You two are going to drive me crazy.”
Jarod felt that she had calmed down, so he dragged her towards him. “Did you like my lair in New York?”
“I’ve enjoyed watching Lyle submerged by crap.” she answered, sincerely. “But I would have expected rats, too.”
Jarod looked at her, pretending to be disappointed, “Parker! Do you think I would endanger yours and our baby’s health by sending you inside a place filled with diseased mice?”
“Well, you shouldn’t let me go to The Centre every single day.” she teased in answer.
All three of them laughed, and Jarod kissed her again.
“Now, let’s go back to business.” she continued. “Hasani’s arrival is planned for tomorrow, 2 o’ clock P.M.; my brother is going to fetch him with an escort of sweepers like I’ve never seen before.”
“I’m not afraid of them. All muscles, no brains.”
“Wait, Dorothy.” she interrupted him. “Lyle informed me of a few things, today. It seems that Hasani’s trip has two main goals. The first is to verify the job of the most disastrous pursuit team in history.”
“Which is the three of you?” Ethan asked, not understanding his sister’s sarcasm completely. Jarod, instead, understood it immediately.
Miss Parker ignored his question. “Hasani is here to take Michael to Africa, just as they did with Alex.”
“When?” Jarod almost screamed.
“As soon as he’s old enough to start his simulations.” she explained.
“Years?” Ethan asked.
“Months.” Jarod commented. “A boy with our son’s skills will start to fully develop his inner sense soon. And with our pretender gene, I’m afraid he’s going to be more efficient than me. Even more than you, Ethan.”
Parker looked exhausted. Staring at his two siblings, Ethan realized they were both feeling apprehension.
“We need to take him away from there tomorrow.” Jarod stated.
“Do we have Zane’s cover?” Parker asked.
Jarod shrugged and sighed deeply, “I don’t know.”
The woman had heard the pretender answering with such disenchantment just once before. They were at the phone, as usual, and he had sincerely confessed to Miss Parker that he didn’t know who had murdered Tommy. She had yelled at him, even if she felt the honesty in his voice.
“We cannot move without the authorities, Jarod.”
“Parker, we won’t have an opportunity like this anymore.” he replied.
“I don’t care!” she screamed, standing up in rage. “Getting inside The Centre to kidnap the baby would be a suicide. Today you made it because Broots was there to help you, but tomorrow we’ll be busy following the Triumvirate in a panoramic tour of the Madhouse!”
“Sis, we don’t have any other choice. Michael is in danger and the prophecies are clear about it. The Triumvirate knows them and worse, they believe them. The only way to survive is to take Michael away and turn him the best pretender they ever had. If they succeeded, The Centre would thrive.”
Parker snorted. The idea of Jarod and Ethan in danger drove her crazy.
“If you don’t want to listen to me, then listen to Ethan, Parker. He’s the only one rational.”
“We’re talking about his nephew; how in hell is he supposed to be rational?!” Miss Parker shouted, noticing that her brother was smiling. Ethan found their quarrels to be challenging.  
“So, you have a better idea?” Jarod asked, feeling cornered for the first time in his life.
Parker kept silence for a few moments, her voices were starting to talk turbulently in her head.
“I’ll take care of Michael.”
“What?” Ethan and Jarod screamed together.
“I’m bringing him out. I don’t want Hasani to lay eyes on him, let alone touch him.”
Jarod was furious. “Let me get this straight. It is too dangerous for us both to get inside The Centre, despite the fact we made it successfully today, but it’s ok for you to kidnap our son while all the cameras of the Centre are actually on you?!”
Parker could hear resentment in his words, but it couldn’t be in any other way. Truth was, Michael was Jarod’s son. But this was something she had to do on her own.
Because their kid had been carried by the woman who had killed Tommy.
Because her father had pretended that he was her brother, not a fruit of her own flesh and blood.
Because Michael trusted her.
Because she preferred risking her own life, instead of the ones of the two people she loved the most in the whole world.
“Parker, just for a moment try and remember that you’re pregnant.” Jarod commented.
“Do you think I don’t know that?” she shouted. “I’m the one dragging her ass in the Centre corridors every day, trying to control my daily nausea! It doesn’t seem to me that you’re getting around throwing up like crazy.”    
There she is, again, Ethan thought, smiling.
“All right.” Jarod gave up “Do you have a plan?”
“We must find a way to distract Hasani and his goons while I bring Michael outside. And I know the right person to help me. Someone who’s always been able to get wherever he wanted without being noticed by the cameras.”
“Angelo.” Ethan agreed, glancing at Jarod.
Parker nodded. She knew she was asking much to her friend, especially since he was still recovering from the terrible wound that had almost killed him. But he was the only one who could save her son through the air ducts. He could get out undisturbed.
“We’re endangering him too, Parker.” Jarod pointed out.
“I know, but he was the one suggesting this. A few hours ago, he asked me to let him help; he was the one who made me understand that this was the only way to save Michael out.”
Jarod believed Miss Parker, but he still didn’t like the thought.
“If Zane shows up, I’m coming along with NSA.” Jarod announced.
“And what if Zane can’t make it?” Ethan asked.
“You have to find a way to take us away from the Centre before Hasani realizes that we were the ones who made Michael disappear.” Parker answered.
At that moment, she remembered again. The dream that was haunting her. Raines was threatening her: she had to choose between Michael and Jarod. And she didn’t know what to do.
And this time, Ethan saw it too, Miss Parker could feel it.
Jarod, anyway, didn’t notice the glance the two siblings secretly exchanged. Parker thought a few words in the hope that her brother would hear her.
I need to talk to you.
Ethan felt the connection and nodded imperceptibly.
“I’m going to take a shower.” Jarod said, needing some relax and some alone time. He approached Parker and stroked her belly, then he walked away.
As soon as the woman and Ethan heard the water running, they got closer to each other and moved towards the kitchen, as far as possible from Jarod’s ears.
“Ethan, I need to understand what that damned dream means.” she whispered, trying to make him understand how much annoyed she was by that vision she couldn’t comprehend.
“I’m seeing it continuously, sis. I see you at the mercy of destiny, Raines obliging you to make a choice between Jarod and Michael.”
“I don’t want to be forced to choose between the man I love and our son.” she replied, furiously.
“You cannot run from fate, Miss Parker.”
“Why can’t I see beyond my choice? Why must everything be so complicated? Why the voices don’t help me understand?”
Miss Parker was heartbroken and hurt for what was waiting for her. Ethan wanted to cheer her up, but he couldn’t. He didn’t know where the vision would lead, and yet he felt something horrible might happen. He had a gut feeling, like an omen.
An omen of death.
“You feel it too, don’t you?”
Ethan nodded. “The voices get quiet anytime I try and ask them about tomorrow. As if they don’t want to anticipate anything, as if for the first time they are leaving me alone, facing my future.”
“Ethan, do you think…do you really believe that something could happen to Jarod or Michael tomorrow?”
Ethan sighed. He didn’t want to, but he knew his inner sense. They couldn’t expect anything good from the arrival of the Triumvirate.
Miss Parker turned around; her arms folded in tension. The only thought she had didn’t convince her, but she didn’t have any other choice.
“And if I asked you…” she said to her brother, turning around again. “To keep Jarod away from The Centre, at any cost, whatever happens.”
Ethan stared at her, questioningly.
“If I asked you to force him to run away with our son, even if I wasn’t with them.”
Ethan shook his head fast. “No, no, no!” he said. “I’m not letting anything happen to you. No one must sacrifice himself. I’m not interested in destroying The Centre tomorrow, if it means we can’t be safe. We’re taking Michael, and then we’re leaving that place. All of us!”
Parker smiled, she thought her beloved little brother was very naïve, at times. “Ethan, promise me. If I must sacrifice myself, please promise me that you will drag him away with our son.”
Ethan shook his head again, he didn’t want to listen to her.
“Promise me, little brother.”
Ethan stared at her. He had never seen her more resolute.
Ethan sighed. In the end, nothing would happen. Miss Parker’s dream could be just a dream. Maybe she wouldn’t needed to make any choice. Maybe everything would be fine.
“I promise you.” Ethan heard his voice promising his sister.



Broots and Sydney had received a coded message at the same moment. The text was very clear. They had to go to Miss Parker’s house at three o’ clock A.M., not a second before, not a second after.
That afternoon, Miss Parker had asked Broots to make Debbie leave and go visit her mother. He hadn’t explained her why, but the girl hadn’t complained. Jarod had managed to put an F.B.I. patrol permanently assigned to Debbie’s mother’s house. Zane hadn’t objected when Jarod had said that they were at risk because they were involved with Broots. The same was done for Michelle and Nicholas, who had been informed by Sydney that he would disappear for a while for some unresolved issues with The Centre. Michelle had guessed that the man she had been in love with for so many years was finally finding some closure, but she hadn’t asked him to reveal details that could put her in any danger.
Sydney and Broots arrived at Miss Parker’s house and got inside from the back, as they had been told to do. Once inside, they were welcomed by a very soft light, almost imperceptible, which came from the living room. On the couch, Jarod, Ethan and Parker were waiting for them. Jarod had a serious expression on his face. Parker, instead, looked tired.  
“Thanks for coming.” Jarod said.
“Jarod.” Sydney smiled. Realizing that he hadn’t seen his mentor in a very long time, Jarod stood up to hold him.
Broots was a bit amazed when Jarod held him too; he stuttered, “H-hello, J-Jarod.”
“We all know why we are here. I’m waiting for news from Agent Zane, she should guarantee us coverage for tomorrow. If everything goes as I expect, dozens of federal agents will break inside The Centre and arrest the members of the Tower, as well as the technicians who cooperated with them all these years.”
Silence fell dramatically, and nobody dared to speak.
“Needless to say, I don’t want none of you behind bars. Zane already knows about your involvement, I hope they’re going to guarantee you the so-called informer-status, so that you don’t have to spend more than one or two nights at house arrest.”
Broots sighed, a bit relieved. He couldn’t afford ending up in prison with a daughter.
“Yet, we have a problem. Zane hasn’t called yet, and I’m not sure she’s going to. Parker told me about Michael and the plan the Triumvirate has for him. I won’t let my son suffer the same fate I had to endure, Sydney.”    
“Meaning?” Sydney asked, guessing where he was going with that.
“Jarod wants to take Michael away from The Centre, tomorrow.” Ethan explained.
“This is crazy, Jarod! Tomorrow I won’t be able to help you with all those Africans around. Lyle already told us that we must do whatever they ask, we can’t afford making a false move.” Broots explained.
“He already knows that, Broots. Boy Genius already got a telling-off by myself.” Parker interrupted him.
“A quiet Miss Parker never meant anything good.” Sydney noticed.
Jarod looked at the woman, and so did Ethan. “I’m taking care of Michael with Angelo’s help.”
“You’re reffering to what Angelo said this afternoon, aren’t you?” the psychiatrist asked her.

“Angelo…save…Michael.”

“I know he’s the key to take our boy outside. I completely trust Angelo; I would entrust him with my own life.”
“Me too.” Jarod whispered.
“Me too.” Sydney replied. He was the one who had already tested the importance of trusting Angelo. “But I don’t want to put his life in danger after what he’s been through, he’s still recovering.”
“It wasn’t our choice, it was his.” Jarod explained, showing Sydney a mail that his friend had sent him a few hours before.

  Save Michael
     C.J.

Sydney sighed and gave Broots the piece of paper.
Angelo was going to help Jarod and Parker despite everything that had happened to him.
“What’s the plan?” Broots asked.
“Hasani and his goons will be there at two, Lyle is going to fetch them with an escort and he’s bringing them to The Centre. This gives us time to act undisturbed while they are outside.”     
“Raines will be there, and I’m sure he’s going to keep Little Park – Michael under surveillance.” Broots interrupted him.
“Yes, but Raines must leave to welcome Hasani and he’s going to act like a good puppy, at least for a couple of minutes, before taking him down to the sublevels. This gives us a sufficient margin.”
“A sufficient margin? Aren’t we riding a tightrope?” Sydney asked, not at all convinced.
“Jarod and Ethan will wait for him outside the building. Angelo and I are going to take Michael from his room, and he will bring him outside to Jarod.” Parker continued.
“And what about the cameras?” Broots asked again.
Jarod smiled. “Like we did today.”
Broots sighed. He didn’t like the idea of risking his skin under the nose of the Triumvirate.
“Broots, I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t so important. Ethan will check the security from the outside, he’s going to help you to stop the cameras.” Parker whispered, stroking gently his arm to make him feel all the affection she felt for him. Broots remembered that his daughter was under the F.B.I. protection because of Jarod. He couldn’t refuse to help him save his son.
“Once Michael is out, everything’s going to be even more complicated. Nobody must suspect that you were the ones acting against The Centre. It must look like I was the getting inside to take the boy with the help of my family. That’s why I’ve asked my father to reach me in Blue Cove. To help me corroborating the appearances, we’re going to show up not far from here tomorrow morning.”
“With everything he’s up to, Lyle won’t waste time following such a fleeting lead, so he will probably leave the pursuit to the three of us.” Parker pointed out. “Obviously, we won’t chase Jarod.”
“Obviously, you wouldn’t get me even if you had me under your nose.”
Parker pinched the pretender who faked to be hurt; Sydney smiled for their banter.
“And then there’s only one more thing to do; waiting for F.B.I. and N.S.A., hoping that Zane manages to convince her bosses to organize the fastest blitz in the whole history.”
Sydney shook his head. “I don’t know Jarod; this seems too simple.”
Ethan agreed with the psychiatrist. His sense of anxiety was manifesting itself continuously.
“We don’t have any other choice, Syd. I can’t lose my son to the Triumvirate.” Miss Parker replied.
“And what if anything goes wrong?”
“Even today we took some calculated risks, but Reset was a success. In the past, I’ve been discovered by the Centre because I didn’t have someone helping me from the inside. Now it’s different. Lyle and Raines aren’t expecting such a sudden betrayal from you, they don’t know we’ve been cooperating for days.”
“And they don’t know that Miss Parker actually stopped chasing you years ago.” Sydney remarked.
Parker blushed, taken aback from Sydney’s revelation.
But wasn’t it true that since Tommy’s death her will to hunt and catch Jarod had faded? Not to mention that when she had found out about Jesse’s existence, she had opened her eyes about the feelings she always had for the pretender.
In the last years, Parker hadn’t chased Jarod to find him, but to be sure that no one else would find him before she could – as usual – let him escape. Jarod took her hand and squeezed. Every new revelation about that woman’s feelings was making him prouder of her.
“Tomorrow it’s out chance, Syd. I’m taking my son and they won’t even know how it happened.”
Ethan and Parker had the same flash at the same time.
Raines, holding Michael.
“You must choose, Miss Parker.”
The two brothers gasped, and this time their reaction didn’t go unnoticed.
“Are you okay?” Jarod asked them both.
“Yes.” she whispered.
“Yes, big brother. Sometimes our voices are too much intrusive.” Ethan lied. Then he gave her sister a meaningful look.
“Now let’s go to sleep. Tomorrow’s gonna be a long day. I’ll be in touch by using your safe lines.”
Sydney and Broots nodded and reached the back door.
Jarod followed them, and his mentor stopped a few seconds to look at him. “You know, Jarod, I would have wanted to find the courage to tell you this before, but…I’m proud of you. Of what you became.”
Jarod felt the emotion and the well-known lump in his throat growing together with tears of pure joy. For years he had wished to hear those words coming from the man he considered like a father.
“Thank you, Sydney.”
“It’s going to be okay.” The older man commented, giving him a cheering look.
Jarod nodded and closed the door behind him.
I hope so, Sydney.

End Notes:

Reviews would be very much appreciated!

Chapter 15: Waiting by missparker87
Author's Notes:

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

BLUE COVE

9.00 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Zane?” Jarod asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jarod put an hand through his hair and ruffled it.

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

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

“Ok. Let’s get this party started.”




THE CENTRE
In the meantime

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miss Parker closed her mouth and bit the bullet.

“I’m sorry, Broots.”

He nodded tenderly.

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

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

Sydney and Broots hung on her words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Always.” Broots confirmed.

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


§§§


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

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

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

THE CENTRE
1.00 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

End Notes:

Remember this chapter hasn't been revised yet, so forgive typos and misprints! And, as usual, my poor English :)

And please: if you're reading, take some time to review.

Chapter 16: Hasani by missparker87
Author's Notes:

It's time for confessions, truth, surprises and revelations.
I like this chapter, is like the end of a journey. A still long journey.
Please, welcome a new character: Mr. Hasani.
I'm sure you'll find him evil and merciless in the most delicious way.

Jarod tested once again the communications and realized that nobody was answering on the other side. Even their mobiles were mute, probably because whoever had found the earphones had taken the mobiles, too, forcing his friends to turn the devices off.

Scrolling the videos of the surveillance cameras, Ethan finally found the corridors of SL-19. He and Jarod both couldn’t believe their eyes.
“Mr. Parker?” Jarod exhaled, turning the computer screen towards himself.
“And that man over there is Hasani. They tricked us, Jarod. They lured us into a trap and we took the bait like a bunch of amateurs.” Ethan commented, realizing how naïf they had been to believe the Triumvirate and Lyle’s words.
Jarod swallowed the bitter bite, too worried and guilty to say anything.

§§§

In the meantime, Sydney and Broots had been taken down to SL-19 to complete the family reunion. Two sweepers pushed them next to Miss Parker and Angelo, clearly dividing the present people in two factions.
On one side the three stooges and poor Angelo, still holding Michael; fortunately, the kid didn’t seem to have notice the growing confusion.    
On the other side Raines, Lyle and Mr. Parker, who seemed to have never been happier and more satisfied.
Hasani was standing next to him, smiling, pleased by the way things have just turned.
“They had these.” Raines said, showing Hasani the earphone that Broots and Sydney used to communicate with Parker and Jarod.
“Miss Parker?” Hasani asked, reaching out his hand towards her. Unwillingly, she had to deliver her own device, finally revealing her true faction.
Time had come to drop the act.


§§§

 “They have been exposed…I must get inside!” Jarod shouted.
“No!” Ethan stopped his brother, pushing him against the driver’s seat.
Jarod wasn’t thinking straight, whole the rationality he was best known for was completely forgotten. All he knew was that the only people he had ever cared for were in that building.
Sydney, the man he considered a father.
Angelo, his childhood playfellow and friend.
Broots, the goofy technician that once saved his life.
But most of all, Miss Parker. His best friend. The woman he had fallen in love with when he was a kid. The mother of a son that he hadn’t been able to hold, yet and who was pregnant with his unborn child.
He couldn’t let anything happen to them.
He’d rather die than see someone hurting them.      
“Ethan, let go of me!” he shouted again, trying to escape from his held.
“I can’t, big brother!” Ethan yelled, struggling to keep Jarod from running.
“They need me!”
“I promised my sister I wouldn’t let you inside the Centre for anything in the world, and I always keep my promises!”
“Not at the expense of her life! Ethan, nobody’s going to help them! They only have us!” Jarod growled, trying to reason with his younger brother.
“Let’s wait and try to understand what’s going on!” Ethan shouted more than Jarod had ever heard him. The pretender waited a few seconds, then he nodded in agreement.

 §§§

 “Angel, I’m very disappointed.” Mr. Parker said.
“Then it’s two of us.” she replied, a lashing tone in her voice.
For months she had been worried for this man, but now she was finally realizing that Mr. Parker had deceived her.
Again.
He had survived - god only knew how; he had managed to get back in the Triumvirate’s good graces.
As always, he was saving his butt, even in spite of his daughter’s life.
“Hand over the child.” Hasani said.
Parker’s lips turned into a frozen smiled, the one that she usually aimed at the people she hated the most. And now, Hasani was at the top of the list.
She took her weapon and aimed towards him, causing a turmoil among the sweepers who immediately rose their guns.
The fact that she was still alive made her understand that they had probably received the order not to shoot.
“Come on, Hasani. I hope you didn’t come all this way to throw such a ridiculous request on my face.”
Hasani couldn’t help smiling at her, “I’ve no intention to leave this place without a pretender. The baby is too young to take part to high level simulations, but we can wait a few months.”

 §§§

 Jarod and Ethan’s eyes were glued to the video. Ethan’s inner sense was tickling. He had a very weird feeling, but he didn’t want to say anything to his brother.
Jarod, on his hand, didn’t need the inner sense to get the feeling that something terrible was going to happen.

 §§§

 “Let’s hear Plan B.” Parker commented, ignoring Hasani’s request.
“I could forget the boy, if Jarod surrendered spontaneously and came along with us, without resistance.”
Sydney opened his mouth, but Miss Parker interrupted him before he could talk.
“Yeah, let’s move on to Plan C, because this one cannot work either. Your favorite Lab Rat is lost hell-knows-where. You’ve probably lost the previously on this show that mentioned the fact that Jarod has been on the run for the last five years or so.”

§§§

For a moment, Jarod believed he was having hallucinations, because something really weird and unlikely was happening.
Mr. Raines, Lyle and Mr. Parker were laughing with the sweepers and Hasani.

§§§

“Miss Parker, we’ve warned you to be careful when you joke with the Africans.” Lyle commented, evidently entertained by that situation.
Parker squeezed her eyes with a quizzical look.
“We’ve known for a while that you are secretly cooperating with Jarod. We’ve been following all your movements and we are perfectly aware of your dirty – how should we call it, affair?” Lyle asked.
Parker opened her eyes wide. They had been so careful, how could the Centre know about her and Jarod?
Mr. Parker decided that some explanation was in order, “Since my arrival in Africa, I’ve suggested Hasani to have you followed by new sweepers. And it wasn’t hard for Lyle to put a special untraceable bug on the only object you always keep with you.”
Parker lowered her gaze on her gun, her fabulous Smith and Wesson.
A satisfied smile appeared on Mr. Parker’s face.

§§§

“Damn them, they kept us under control since the beginning. They’ve always been a step ahead of us.” Jarod commented, realizing how stupid they had been.
“You couldn’t know, Jarod.” Ethan tried and console him.

§§§

Sydney approached Miss Parker, trying to make her feel his protective presence. She was speechless.
“So you know – ”
“Everything, yes.” Mr. Parker confirmed. “After fetching you and Jarod on the Island of Carthis, I noticed the strange way you behaved.”



Jarod was being dragged away by two sweepers while Parker was getting out from the parked limousine to talk to her father, a fake smile on her face. Clearly thinking that their conversation wasn’t over, yet, Jarod stopped next to her to say some last words.  
“That's the wonderful thing about life, Miss Parker.”
She turned her face towards the pretender and looked at him intensely, as never before in her life.
“If you change the story, the ending is up to you.” he sentenced, before disappearing on the plane.



 “I knew that look. It was the same way your mother looked at me. The look of a woman in love” Mr. Parker sighed. “I understood that Jarod had finally managed to obtain what I had desperately tried to avoid. He was turning you against me.”

§§§

“Miserable coward!” Jarod commented, full of rage.
Ethan just gave him a look of agreement.

§§§

“I tried to keep you off that flight, but you got on the plane. And then I realized that it was over. You and Jarod together could become an unfathomable threat for The Centre. Apparently you were still my beloved daughter, but I knew that it was just a matter of time before you accepted Jarod’s lies as your truth.”
“The only lies I’ve been told my entire life were yours, daddy.” she reacted.
Miss Parker was proud to have finally been able to tell him what she had wanted to confess years before.
And Sydney was proud of her, too, at that moment. He looked at her almost in admiration.
Just like Jarod was doing outside, in the car.
A bit shocked by her remark, Mr. Parker suffered the blow, but he kept talking. “When Jarod convinced me to read the Prophecies, I discovered that I had to find a way to separate you. You couldn’t read them, at any cost. I wouldn’t allow you to destroy the Centre, like the Scrolls said!”
“That’s what Mom wanted, too!” Miss Parker yelled, hoping to move something inside is father by mentioning Catherine.
“Your mother was weak and blind; she couldn’t see beyond the children’s sufferance. She never understood the future scenarios of our research.”
“What scenarios are you talking about?” Sydney asked, feeling that this was the right moment for him to intervene. “Kidnapping and exploit children prodigies to satisfy your lust for money and power?”
His eyes fell almost involuntary on Raines who was looking at his rival in anger.
Mr. Parker ignored the psychiatrist’s question, “The only way to keep the status quo was to make you and Jarod surrender to The Centre. But I couldn’t lure him without using a tasty bait. That’s when I realized I had to let things happen, just as the Prophecies say. You two had to join forces, you needed to get together.”
Lyle and Raines exchanged a knowing look.
“You struggled so much to brake the bond between Jarod and me that you needed to create Mind Rain and make us forget everything. Why did you want us to become friends again?”

§§§

Jarod wanted, no, he needed to know the answer to that question just as much as Miss Parker. All this didn’t make any sense. Why did the Centre split them up years before, only to let them reconcile, now?

§§§

“We knew the only way to convince Jarod to come back was to put you in danger, but I wasn’t sure he wanted to risk his own life for his pursuer, and the Triumvirate wanted a real leverage. When he read the Prophecies, Hasani realized that you and Jarod were connected by something more special than being childhood friends. They understood that Mind Rain had been successful, but only on the outside. Suddenly, all your failures during Jarod’s pursuit had an explanation.”
“We’ve always wondered why a professional hunter like you couldn’t manage to bring back one single man to the Centre.” Hasani kept talking. “When we read the Scrolls, everything finally made sense. There was a basic flaw that you both had in your character. Something that bonded you like magnets.”
Parker grinded her teeth, looking at Hasani, “And what was that?”
“Love.” Mr. Parker concluded. “Love was the only means to lure Jarod back. He’s always cared for you, even a couple of years ago, when you got injured at that flight school and he gave up his freedom to try and save your life. What a fool.” The old man smirked along with Raines and Lyle.
Miss Parker was suddenly brought back to a few years before, to the surreal conversation she had with Jarod when he revealed that he’d known Tommy long before her.



“You listen to me, Jarod. The rules that you and I have been playing by- my indentured servitude to this house of horrors, you shaking your family tree- you just throw those the hell out the window when it comes to Thomas! He is not a game!”
“I would never treat him like one.” Jarod tried and defense himself from Parker’s verbal attack. “Deception was never my goal with you and Thomas.”
“Your goal? What goal?” she asked, incredulous.
Jarod sighed. “Love. Putting you two together was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
And he really meant it.
“Putting us together? You’re a liar. We had a chance meeting in Blue Cove at a gas stat – ” Miss Parker looked at the model of her first meeting with Thomas and she suddenly realized. 
“You didn’t meet him after I did. You knew him before?” she asked, tears forming at the corner of her eyes.
“The way you felt about each other had nothing to do with me. I just- I just lit the torch.”


Love. A simple word that had made understand how much Jarod really cared about her happiness. Pushing Tommy to meet her had been one of his greatest gifts.
And now her father.
In his mouth, the same word had the power to evoke the worst nightmares.
It made her realize that Mr. Parker really was a monster.

§§§

Jarod clenched his fists, remembering that moment like it was the day before. How naïf he might have looked, behaving like that.
And yet, Mr. Parker was right. He hadn’t left her behind that day, nor in any other moments she had really needed him. The pretender had always been there lying in the shadows, unconscious to the fact that he’d never stopped being in love with her.
Ethan could feel his brother’s emotions and he tried to hold them off, convinced that Jarod soon would try again to get inside The Centre.

§§§

Miss Parker didn’t know what her father knew that she knew. So, she tried and lie again.
“And yet, the Scrolls disappeared with you. Jarod and I never got a chance to put our hands on them.”
That wasn’t really a lie, maybe a tiny omission of truth.
But once again, Hasani and Mr. Parker exchanged a wicked smile.
“We know that Ethan broke into the Triumvirate fortress. How do you think he was able to get away with it all on his own?” Mr. Parker asked.
The woman felt her breath getting faster again, but she tried not to show how terrified she actually was.
Ethan was in danger too, they knew that he was working with them.
“We made sure that your dearest brother discovered the Scrolls and told you everything about them. Mr. Parker even volunteered and pretended to be a prisoner in a cellar.” Hasani explained.
“While all this time I’ve been welcomed by the well-known African hospitality.” Mr. Parker concluded, almost bowing towards Hasani, who looked very satisfied.

§§§

It was Ethan’s turn to be furious for being manipulated. He also felt betrayed by his inner sense, he didn’t understand why the voices hadn’t warned him.
But of course, his voices just sent him omens, guided him along the way and usually warned him from danger. They couldn’t help him against lies and deceit.

§§§

“Enough with the gossip.” Lyle exclaimed. “We have work to do.”
Using the hand that still had a thumb, Lyle snapped his fingers and a couple of sweepers moved closer to Angelo, intending to take the boy from his arms.
But Miss Parker aimed her gun towards them both.
“Over my dead body.”
Mr. Parker smirked at his daughter’s reaction, “Then it’s true, you know.”
Miss Parker gave herself away when she exhaled with resignation.
“You know how we did it?”
Miss Parker stared at him, full of disgust, “What I know is that you’re a monster. I don’t give a damn about the sordid details connected to my baby’s conception.”
“Brigitte was a compliant human incubator. She was oblivious, very committed when she found out she would be a mother.” Mr. Parker explained, finding Lyle’s agreement.
And yet, Parker wanted to know at least one thing, “When did you, t-take my –”
Mr. Parker grimaced, “When you got hospitalized for your ulcer, remember?”
Miss Parker thought about those terrible moments when she had thought she was going to die and Faith had saved her.
A few days later, she had discovered that Jarod had been through a very similar situation when his plane had crashed on a mountain and he almost got frostbite.
Her father had taken advantage of her physical condition to steel a part of her, the most intimate part of a woman.
Nothing easier, with her fighting between life and dead and in such a precarious condition. With the chaos of all the scars after the operation, she hadn’t even noticed.
Lyle took advantage of this moment of shock to run towards Miss Parker and rapidly steel her weapon.

§§§

When he heard complaining, Jarod couldn’t stand it anymore. He ran outside the car. Ethan throw the laptop and ran after his brother, trying to stop him.
“Jarod, that’s what they want!” he yelled.
“Ethan, I know that you promised, but I’m not staying here just to watch them die!” he shouted in answer.

§§§

While Angelo fought back and Miss Parker wriggled and screamed between her twin brother’s arms, two sweepers took Michael and delivered him to Mr. Parker.
“Here’s my boy.” he said.
“He – is – not – YOURS!” Miss Parker lashed out, while Michael began crying.


§§§

“Ethan, let go of me.” Jarod almost growled, trying to free himself from his brother’s grip.
“I’m sorry, big brother, but I can’t!” Ethan struggled.
Then he was forced to do something he thought he’d never done; he punched Jarod and knock him down, paralyzing him temporarily.

§§§

“Angel, you amaze me. I’ve never thought you were the maternal type, not after your carpenter’s death.”
“You, damn – bastard!” Miss Parker snapped, still trying to extricate herself from Lyle’s clutches.
“Miss Parker, calm down.” Sydney whispered, looking inside her eyes and searching for her gaze to try and soothe her, “Think about your daughter!”
Lyle opened his eyes wide and loosened the grip, allowing his sister to throw herself into Sydney’s arms, tearful.
The general chaos quieted down for a few seconds until Hasani asked, “Daughter?”


§§§


"Brother, forgive me.” Ethan gasped, reaching his hand towards Jarod, who was still lying on the ground, “but you can’t go there, you’d be captured and then you’d be of no use to anyone!”
“Ethan…” Jarod whispered, stunned and exhausted, “I can’t lose them!”
Ethan got back to the car to look at his computer, trying to realize what was going on.

§§§

Sydney understood at once the huge mistake he’d made. The questioning looks of the other people in that corridor did not leave any doubt; the bug inside Parker’s gun had revealed almost everything, but not that information.
They hadn’t known that she was pregnant, until now.
She sighed against the chest of the man she would have loved to be her father, crying in desperation.
“Daughter?!” Hasani asked again.
“What do you mean?” Lyle asked, sending a questioning look at Raines.
Angelo was terrorized; his eyes were running from one side of the room to the other.
Broots kept sweating, aware of the enormous danger Miss Parker would be in, from now on.
“Angel, you’re telling me that we may expect another grand-child? A girl?” Mr. Parker asked, faking paternal joy, “Congratulations, this is – ” he turned his look at Hasani, “  - the most pleasant surprise.”
Hasani looked as pleased as Mr. Parker. He was staring at the woman as if she was a precious piece of jewelry.
Mr. Parker put Michael in Raines’s arms and the doctor tried to stop his crying, to no avail.
“Well, this really is good news. We were planning to get rid of you once we captured Jarod, but…this changes everything.” Hasani commented, approaching the woman who was looking at him full of scorn.
Sydney held Miss Parker tight, trying to make her understand how sorry he felt for letting slip such an information.
She looked at the psychiatrist with affection, knowing that in spite of his mistake, she needed Sydney more than ever.
“Tell me, Miss Parker.” Hasani said. “Are you ready to reconsider my proposal?”
“W-what proposal?” she asked, looking at the African.
“You lure Jarod here, he’s certainly coming to rescue the woman he loves and his children. In return, I’m going to set this – beautiful boy free.” He caressed Michael’s face and Parker started to tremble.
“How did you named him, again? Michael?” Raines asked, smirking and looking at the boy between his arms.
Mr. Parker was observing the scene in amusement, while Sydney, on the contrary, was disgusted.

§§§

“My god, what can we do?” Ethan wondered.
But when he turned around, his brother had disappeared.
“Jarod? Jarod!” he yelled, noticing that the pretender had by then entered the tunnel that took inside The Centre.
“Jarod!” he shouted again, receiving no answer.
Ethan ruffled his air in resignation, then he looked back at his screen.
He couldn’t wait no longer, Jarod was gone and he hadn’t kept his promise.
For the first time in a while, his voices were suggesting an alternate plan.
He could hear them distinctly, as if they were guiding him to his next step.
The path to follow became crystal clear.
Ethan had kept one last secret to his siblings, for a very long time. Now, he couldn’t keep it to himself anymore.
“I must help them, but I can’t do it alone!” he said to himself and to the voices.
Then he anxiously shut the laptop and took his mobile, “I must call them, Jarod and Parker need them!”
Ethan typed  frantically a number on the phone.
“Come on, come on, answer me, damn it!” he screamed.
A few seconds later, somebody answered the call. “It’s Ethan…The situation is dramatic, we need your help…yes…I think it’s time…I know…I know it’s dangerous, I don’t need you to remind me…then don’t waste time, dad!”

Chapter 17: Blackmail by missparker87
Author's Notes:

I added this chapter because I felt the previous one was too long.
I hope you enjoy ;)

“What are you going to do, Miss Parker? It’s a simple offer. You’d rather save Jarod…or you want your son to have a nice happy life, far from the Centre?”

Parker really wanted to kill Hasani. Hadn’t she got a life to protect inside of herself, she would have jumped him to strangle the man. 

Her gaze fell on Raines, who looked satisfied like never before in his entire life. And then she realized she was eventually living the dream that had frightened her for many nights. 

She was right in front of a choice that she couldn’t give an answer to. 

She had to choose between Jarod and their son. 

And if the nightmare was real, she knew what would happen in the end. 

So it hasn’t been a dream, but a premonition. 

Again.

“So, what’s it gonna be, Miss Parker?” Raines’s voice asked, while Michael had finally stopped crying. Sydney and Broots were hanging on her words as much as all the others.

 

“Were you talking about me?!” someone asked at their backs. 

A voice that sounded clear and dark at the same time. 

With an unmistakable sarcastic tone. 

A voice they all knew too well.

“Jarod! No!” Miss Parker shouted.

“Take him!” Hasani growled, willing to make the pretender pay for his brother’s death more than anything else.

Two sweepers surrounded Jarod at once and dragged him towards Hasani, he didn’t even make an attempt to resist.

“I’m here, Hasani. I surrender, as you’ve asked. You didn’t even need to wait, right?” Jarod’s voice betrayed all his tension and fear. 

Parker knew hi, though; she had never heard Jarod express his emotions like that. His voice was fast and worried. 

He was scared to death, but not for his life. 

He was afraid of losing them

Raines and Mr. Parker were looking at him like a smoker looks at a cigarette a couple of days after quitting smoking.  

“Live up to your end of the deal and let him go!” Jarod shouted, squirming. 

Hasani looked at Mr. Parker, then they both smiled maliciously.

“Let – go – of – him.” Jarod repeated, spelling the words slowly while he started squeezing his fists. 

Miss Parker couldn’t utter a word. 

Her nightmare was real. 

And she couldn’t do anything about it.

“And why should we keep just one pretender…when we can have two? We just need to wait his inborn qualities to show. Just like his father…and his mother.” Lyle explained, with a mocking grin.

Jarod tried to escape from the sweepers held, “Lyle, you bastard! I’m here, you proposed a deal! Let them go, all of them! I’ll stay, I’m doing anything you want, you won’t have to oblige me. I’ll cooperate.” Jarod lashed out.

“You should know more than anyone…The Centre never makes deals.” Hasani clarified, approaching the pretender threateningly. 

Then he punched Jarod in the stomach, obliging him to bend over in pain.  

“This is for Adama.” he whispered, so that only Jarod could hear him. 

Above all things that Jarod hated, to be accused of something he hadn’t done really drove him crazy. At that moment, though, the pain in his chest was piercing and he had no strength to retort.

He was dragged closer to Miss Parker and his friends, left on the floor right next to the woman.

“J-jarod…I’m s-sorry.” She whispered between a sob and the other.

He looked at her with trying to pass onto her all the love he felt. “You must be strong, for Michael…and Clio.” He murmured, regaining some of his strength.

Parker looked at him questioningly.

“I know we haven’t talked about it yet, but…our brother suggested this name and I liked it so much that I started to think about our daughter as Clio. You like it?”

Miss Parker tried to smile, “Clio is perfect.” she whispered, while the sweepers moved away from Jarod. The woman bended, putting her fingers on his cheeks, tenderly.

“Aren’t you a picture? The happy family reunited!” Lyle commented sarcastically.

Miss Parker threw him a look full of hate. She had never despised her family name as much as then.

“It’ll be nice to see your children growing up at the Centre, Jarod. They’ll have the great honor to become the most promising experiment in the whole Centre history.” Hasani revealed.

Leaving Jarod on the floor, Miss Parker stood up and moved towards the man, with the sweepers now aiming the weapons against her. 

“You’ll never – have – our children.” she whispered, threateningly.

Raines was still holding Michael in his arms, while Mr. Parker looked at his daughter with newfound admiration.

“You know, obtaining Ethan from your mother was so hard. We had to convince her, inseminate her, keep everything a secret. But with you…you did it all on your own, Angel. Thank you.”

Miss Parker couldn’t stand it anymore; she wildly slapped the man she once used to call father. 

He couldn’t block the blow, so her hand collided with his cheek in a sudden hurtful movement. 

Mr. Parker felt confused as his daughter looked at him with hatred.

Angelo swallowed and felt all the hate growing inside his friend. 

Jarod, by now, could breathe regularly again, so he stood up, with Sydney’s help.

“Talking about Ethan, if Jarod was listening, he might be close, too. We can’t let him escape, we won’t have such a chance to capture him again.” Raines interrupted.

“What Raines, two pretenders aren’t enough?” Jarod asked, his sarcastic tone fully recovered.

“Jarod.” the doctor replied, looking at the boy in his hands with affection. “Why be satisfied with what you have, when you can have it all?”

Sydney took that moment to try and regain a bit of authority, “If Jarod is really starting to make sims, I want to be his tutor again.”

Hasani and Mr. Parker laughed, “I didn’t know you were a comedian, Sydney.”

Jarod looked at his mentor with terror, then his eyes fell on Broots. 

At that moment he realized that, among all those persons, the two of them were the only expandable. He needed to figure out a way to save Broots and Sydney, fast.

But Hasani decided it was his turn to talk, again.

“We know that all the failures of your pursuit were mostly due to Miss Parker. I’ll never forget how she let Jarod escape when they were stuck together in Bahia Grande. What did the mission report say?” Hasani interrupted himself to emphasize the suspense. “Oh, yes, now I remember. When you tried to shoot at the helicopter that Jarod was using to escape, you realized your gun was unloaded.”

Jarod took a step towards Miss Parker to let her feel his reassuring presence. They knew how much it had meant to be stuck together in that hell, for them both. Parker hadn’t found the courage to stop Jarod while he was escaping with Simone.

“If I’m not mistaken” Hasani went on. “Something similar happened almost a year later, when Jarod managed to escape with Davey Simpkins.”


Miss Parker was dragging Jarod from the limousine to the plane that would take them back to The Centre. He had never been more furious, ever. Once again, she was surrendering to her father’s will, instead of following her instinct. 

“It doesn't have to be this way.”

She ignored him, but his words were hitting the mark.

“New blood for the Centre. Your mother would be so proud of you!”

“Save it!” she lashed out, at the limit of her tolerance. 

Jarod suddenly turned around and took off his sunglasses, so that she could see the anger in his eyes.

“I saw your face when Angelo gave up his last treatment for Davey!”

“Keep moving!” she replied, silencing him as she pushed him.

“Let’s go!” Gar shouted.

Right then, Angelo bended and started to moan, faking sufferance. 

“Angelo, are you all right?” Jarod asked.

“What's wrong with him?” Miss Parker asked, worried.

Then Angelo took a hidden syringe and used it to hit Willie, starting a tussle that allowed Jarod to run away with Davey.

“Get off of me! Jarod! Jarod!” Parker shouted, running after him with a gun aimed towards the pretender.

“Save Davey!” Angelo pleaded her.

She shook her head slowly, his words hitting the mark, “Angelo…”

In spite of everything, she stopped and didn’t do anything. Jarod started the plane engine and lifted off, bringing Davey far from that place and leaving Miss Parker with nothing. 

The woman put her gun down. She couldn’t believe she actually let him escape.

But maybe it was for the best. At least Davey was safe.

“Guess your gun jammed huh?” Gar asked, almost teasing her.

She sighed and bended her head backwards, accepting that moment of defeat but also aware that Jarod’s escape meant that she had to start chase him, again.

“Davey free.” Angelo told her, glad.

“Miss Parker still in hell.” she complained.


“Gar the sweeper swore that your gun might have jammed, because only a blind man might have missed such a simple target.”

Miss Parker grinned maliciously in answer, glad that she could reply sincerely to Hasani. “Consider it my moment of glory. Knowing that I’ve spared pain at least to one of those boys helps me sleep at night.” She confessed.

She echanged a knowing glance with Jarod, he stared at her full of pride. 

He’d always known she had secretly been glad to watch him escape, that day, even if she never admitted. 

He had known even when she had shot at him a few hours later, when Fenigor had confessed that Major Charles had killed Catherine.

“Anyway, that wasn’t my point, Miss Parker.” Hasani continued, interrupting that moment of tenderness between former huntress and prey.

“I was trying to explain Dr. Sydney, here, that even if the Triumvirate has always known about the reality of your bond with Jarod, which prevented you to chase him objectively and without being involved, we also knew that there was another weak link in the chain.”

Everybody looked at Sydney.

“Sydney had nothing to do with my escapes!” Jarod lied to protect him. “He always tried to lure me back, he only used words of discouragement, he tried to make me face the reality of the cruel world I was knowing for the first time!”

Hasani smiled again, “Your attempt to protect your mentor is praiseworthy Jarod, but futile. We know the good doctor often helped you staying away from the Centre, all these years.”

Jarod sighed, and so did Miss Parker. 

And what could they reply to that?

It was simply the truth. Sydney had developed a huge sense of guilt since Jarod had escaped, even more when the pretender had obliged him to face their crimes. Jarod’s escape had changed him deeply; it had helped him become the man he should have always been. 

Miss Parker was sure that if Sydney had then been the man he was now, he would have certainly helped Jarod escape. 

The pretender peeked at the sweeper standing next to him. The whole situation was so distracting that by now his gun was almost aiming at the floor. 

Jarod needed to take it, at any cost.

“Jarod never needed our help, he was always a step ahead of us!” Broots surprisingly intervened, feeling he’d been silent for too long. “Whenever we got closer, when we thought we had caught him, he always managed to escape right under our noses!”

“You’re right, Mr. Broots” Hasani replied. “The pretender always showed his best magician’s tricks. Alas, even the greatest wizard leaves the stage, sooner or later.”

Jarod made another silent step towards the closer sweeper. If only they could distract Hasani for just a few seconds. 

When Angelo noticed his friend’s movements, guessing what he was trying to do, he started moving his gaze from Jarod to the sweeper, careful not to be noticed by nobody else. 

“What do you have in mind for us?” Broots asked, worried for his daughter’s safety.

“You were very useful, Broots.” Lyle intervened. “If we were able to track Jarod’s movements, it’s only because of you.”

Miss Parker scoffed with indignation, she couldn’t believe her ears. The same Lyle who once tried to get rid of Broots like a piece of garbage was now praising the technician. 

Lyle would have been glad to see those people hurt, but he had to admit that Broots had been useful. He could be spared. 

Also, he was too chicken to do anything against The Centre, too afraid for his daughter’s life.

“We can’t say the same about you, Sydney.” Raines went on. “Your complicity in this affair was the last straw. If Willie had succeeded, you wouldn’t even be here.”

Jarod squeezed his fists, bearing with Raines’s words, he only needed just a few other seconds.

But Parker, unaware of Jarod’s plan, chose that moment to do the wrong thing: she put herself in front of Sydney and Broots and covered them with her body.

“You won’t lift a finger on them.” she stated solemnly. 

Her expression was worth a thousand words.

 

Right then, Michael moved between Raines’s arms to turn around and face Miss Parker, like he’d been called back from numbness after hearing his mother’s voice.

“Mom, they take me?” he asked.

Jarod moved as fast as he could. Taking advantage of the moment of distraction due to Michael’s comment, he attacked the sweeper and stole his gun. Now he was back to his previous position, watched clearly by all his enemies. 

Parker smiled for his move, ready to taste his words when he would threaten Hasani, but she was wrong. 

As soon as she noticed Jarod’s hand aiming the gun to his own temple, Parker immediately stopped smiling.

“Jarod, what the hell are you doing?” she yelled, approaching him. 

A gesture from Jarod’s free hand was enough to silence her and made her understand that he was serious.

Hasani chuckled sarcastically, but Mr. Parker looked worried.

“This is just a huge waste of time.” the African stated.

“You’re absolutely right.” Jarod agreed. “That’s why I’m going to tell you this right straight: Parker, Angelo, Broots and Sydney mustn’t be touched. I want your word that if I work with you again, you let them go, along with my son.”

Mr. Parker looked at Lyle and then at Raines. 

This hadn’t been expected.

“Jarod, put that gun down, now.” Miss Parker pleaded him.

“I’m waiting for an answer, Hasani.” The pretender continued, ignoring her.

Jarod knew that this was the only way to save them all. 

He just had to understand how much The Centre cared for his own safety. 

If he shot, he would deprive them of their most talented pretender for good. 

He’d pull the trigger to make sure that they would spare the lives of the people he loved. 

He was ready to die.

“You’d never do that.” Lyle stated, thinking he knew Jarod better than that.

Jarod clenched his teeth and loaded the gun, “Test me. Please.” He hissed back at him.

Lyle shut up, realizing that Jarod wasn’t pretending

“Jarod, please.” Parker begged him again.

He was going through a considerable inner conflict. 

Parker’s voice, so feeble and worried, made him realize that he didn’t have the courage to leave her. But at the same time, it was for this vulnerability that he needed to save her. She had to live to think about their children. And if he had to take his own life to assure her a future, he would.

“You have five seconds, then I’m pulling the trigger. I think the remains of this smart-pretender-brain will stick around on these walls for a very long time.”

Sydney cringed at the thought, and so did Miss Parker.

Hasani burst into a nervous laughter which took Jarod unprepared, but he didn’t flinch.

“I must admit, you’ve got guts, Jarod. Sacrifice your own life to –” he interrupted his words for a moment “– save your pursuers.” so said, he started to laugh louder and louder, and with him also the sweepers. 

But Jarod didn’t feel like laughing, at all.

Hasani calmed down and stifled his laughter, then he looked at Jarod intensely. 

“The boy will be ready to take your place soon.”

“But it’ll take you years to train him, while I’m an experienced pretender, ready to serve you unconditionally, if you let them go.”

“Mmm…” Hasani had an almost crazy look, by now. He approached one of his sweepers and took his gun. “I’ve got a better idea.”

In two seconds he shot straight to Sydney’s left leg and the psychiatrist collapsed to the floor, starting to hold his hurt leg between his hands, struggling in a terrible pain. The blood started to flow copiously from the wound.

“No!” Jarod shouted, bending slightly towards him, but Hasani anticipated him and aimed the gun towards the pretender.

“This ends now, Jarod, or I will shoot at every arm of your friends until you put the gun down.”

So said, Hasani shot at Miss Parker’s left shoulder and she also fell to the floor only to be approached by Angelo, who started to moan because he could sense the same pain his friends were in. 

“You damn bastard!” Jarod snapped at the man.

Jarod gave up, realizing that his attempt at blackmailing Hasani was over. Sydney was losing too much blood and he needed to get immediate medical care. Miss Parker’s wound, fortunately, didn’t look as serious as Sydney’s.

“Jarod, please.” Miss Parker whispered, holding her shoulder.

“Jarod, he’s losing too much blood, he needs a doctor, now.” Broots explained, checking on the wound.

Jarod glimpsed at Hasani with pleading eyes. 

“He will receive medical care immediately. We don’t want your beloved mentor to die now that you get to work together again, do we?”

Jarod lowered his gun in disgust and threw it to the sweeper he had taken it from, then he bended over Sydney to check his wound. 

The bullet had severed an artery. 

“How are you, Parker?” he asked the woman, not taking his eyes off from Sydney’s leg. 

She sighed in answer, “You have a backup question?”

Jarod admired the fact she wasn’t losing her humor even in such situation, “The bullet went in and out, it’s nothing.” she stated, doing her best to reassure Jarod. 

“Hey, Sydney…how are you?” Jarod asked the old man, trying to keep him awake.

“It s-seems that in the end…t-they manage to knock me d-down.” he answered.

Parker approached them both, taking Sydney’s hand and squeezing it for dear life. She brought his hand to her mouth while Jarod ripped an edge of his shirt to tighten it around the man’s thigh.

“He must go to the infirmary, now!” he yelled, looking at Hasani full of hatred.

“Grandpa.” Michael suddenly said, pointing at the man on the floor, his eyes filled with shock. 

Jarod exchanged a look with Parker. Not only Michael had understood that Sydney was risking his life, but he had also realized how much he meant to both his parents. 

“It’s all right, kiddo.” Parker tried and smile at the boy.

“Sydney’s going to be okay, Michael. It’s just a…scratch.” Jarod told his little boy, lying to himself and noticing that this had been the first time he’d spoken to his son.

“He’ll be taken care of. But now it’s time to go.” Lyle said, noticing Hasani’s apprehension.

“Yes, Africa’s waiting for us.” Hasani said.

Jarod lifted his gaze, worried more than ever, “You never mentioned Africa.”

“You never asked.” Hasani smirked. “I think your son will like Africa. It’s hot and sunny, nothing like this place.” Hasani commented.

“Don’t!” Michael screamed, as if he had understood.

Jarod felt like a stupid. So this was their plan since the beginning. 

They would take Michael to Africa, far from his parents. 

“Jarod…” Miss Parker claimed the pretender’s attention.

Sydney was losing consciousness, he had lost too much blood for a man of his age. He was very pale.

Jarod couldn’t define priorities anymore. 

Sydney was lying in front of him, dying. Miss Parker, hurt and defeated, looked like a mess. Broots and Angelo were worried and powerless.

And Hasani was leaving with his son.

“Please, somebody help us.” Jarod murmured, closing in eyes with resignation. 

Hold on, we’re coming, Parker suddenly heard the voices in her head.

“Let’s go.” Hasani concluded.

 

“Nobody’s going anywhere!” a voice behind them all shouted.

When all of them turned around, no one could believe their eyes. 

Shock spread all around, because nobody would have ever expected to see those people at that moment. 

The speaking voice belonged to Major Charles, who had a shotgun in his hands aiming straight to Mr. Parker.

Next to him, his recently-found sons, Ethan and Jesse. 

Raines’s eyes almost sparkled in wonder when he saw his two most successful experiments standing right in front of him. 

He felt like a proud father, but he had to rethink his emotions when he noticed that Ethan was aiming a gun against him.

But Ethan, Jesse and Major Charles hadn’t been the ones to cause such confusion. 

Two other figures were capturing all the attention. 

The looked older and shattered by all the years spent in jeopardy, running together. But here they were.

Margaret and Catherine.

End Notes:

 

Forgive typos and misprints! And, as usual, my poor English :)

And please: if you're reading, take some time to review.

 

Chapter 18: Here comes the Cavalry by missparker87
Author's Notes:

So, Catherine is back. Surprise, she's still alive!

I know you have lots of questions, but the most important one is: How?

Also, if you were wondering, 'Where the hell is Agent Zane?', well, you’ll find out in this chapter.

Mr. Parker almost fainted when he saw his wife. Of course, he always suspected that she was still alive, but he’d never hoped he would see her again, for real. He was sure she would rather die than get back to The Centre. Hasani, on the other hand, couldn’t believe his luck: that was easily becoming the more amazing day of his life, seeing that the persons he had been searching for during the last few years were unexpectedly showing up in front of him. 

 

Even if he was starting to feel numb, Sydney had noticed the changes on Miss Parker and Jarod’s expressions. Their faces had been lightened up by innocent childlike smiles. Maybe he was dying, still he realized that just one thing would cause such a relief. The sight of their mothers.

“Mom.” Jarod whispered, unable to keep his eyes away from her. “Catherine!” he screamed, standing up from his position at Sydney’s side.

“Mom!” Miss Parker uttered, fighting the urge to move towards the woman, who was smiling and hardly keeping her tears. 

“Sweetheart…Jarod.” Catherine answered to both of them.

They  wanted to run and hug them, but the guns that the two parties were mutually aiming against each other dissuaded Jarod and Parker from doing it.

Raines smiled in satisfaction, “I knew my plan to lure you here would work, Catherine.”

The woman smiled slyly, “It’s a pity I wasn’t the only one dragged here, William.”

 

At that moment they all heard a loud roar coming from the superior sublevels and for a couple of seconds the light went off, leaving them in darkness. Then The Centre general alarm started to resonate in all the corridors.

Angelo smiled and squeezed Sydney’s hand.

“Others…arrived.” he whispered. The wounded man managed to ask, “Who?”

“Zane.” Jarod sighed in relief as his formerly panicked expression turned into a victorious grin.

“What the hell is going on, Parker?” Hasani screamed, addressing himself to the man against whom Major Charles was still aiming his shotgun.

“This is your last stop, gentlemen.” Jarod stated, giving a look of encouragement to his brother Ethan, who nodded at answer, guessing that the authorities have finally joined the party.

 


“I want you to split into little groups, this place is full of sublevels. Every team must check every single room, every hole, every cellar, every air duct that you’re going to find in the subterranean labyrinths of this building!”

Zane was giving orders to the agents that were entering the building with her. There were at least a hundred of them, belonging to every known government agency: NSA, FBI, CIA… Jarod had contacts almost everywhere and many of these men had specifically volunteered to help an old friend that had done so much to solve mysteries, unresolved cases, kidnaps, homicides. Zane hadn’t needed to struggle to convince her bosses to give authorization for this blitz, which had the main goal to destroy The Centre for good. 

“Somewhere down there, you will also find Agent Jarod Morse and his family. Obviously, we don’t want anything bad to happen to them, are we clear?” she asked her agents. 

“Yes, Agent Zane!” different answers could be heard.

“The majority of the people working here don’t know squat about the dirty business of the Centre. Take them prisoners, don’t hurt them.”

Zane stopped for a moment, taking something form a man beside her.

“And now the cool part. You don’t want to get out from this building before finding these three men.”

So said, she raised three pictures that portrayed Jarod’s lifelong nemesis.

“This is Mr. Parker, he’s the chairman of this place by heritage. First one who brings me his head – possibly still attached to his neck – gains an instant promotion.”

A few laughs arose while the commando kept walking towards the corridors that leaded to the first sublevels - they had already stepped triumphantly through the office corridors in the upper area. Worried secretaries and unaware employers were being dragged away, terrorized, and afraid for their own destiny.

“This is Mr. Parker’s son, they called him Mr. Lyle, but friends just know him as Bobby. He’s guilty of many crimes but he was cleared up for each of them, even for a few murderer accusations. After today, I’ve got the feeling that a few cold cases will be reopened.”

Again, Zane’s men laughed for her joke while they were reaching the elevators area.

“This is Dr. William Raines, The Mengele of the Centre.” Zane continued. “He ruined dozens of children’s lives; he guided all the worst experiments carried out in this place. He also destroyed Agent Morse’s family firsthand.” 

Zane interrupted her speech for a second, weighing her last words.

“Our superiors want us to catch Dr. Raines, they intend to prosecute him as major responsible for everything that ever happened at the Centre. Our official directive is to catch him alive, at any cost.”

At this revelation, many agents that had worked with Jarod before, people who believed he was a hero for saving the Swedish ambassador at the Opera House a few months before, started to mumble in dissent.

“Off the record, should you be forced to choose between Jarod and Raines’s life, you can walk over the S.O.B. dead body.”

The agents shouted with joy, approving every single word of Zane’s speech.

“Good hunting, gentlemen!” she concluded.

 


“What the hell is going on up there?” Lyle shouted.

Jarod was so excited to finally have intel that his enemies didn’t have, that he smirked with satisfaction, “Well, Lyle dearest. Despite all your attempts to put us against one another in the last – how many years have passed, Parker?” Jarod asked, looking at her, pretending to be serious.

“Thirty-nine, Jarod. Counting since the day they kidnapped you, obviously.” She replied, in an equal sardonic way. 

“Obviously. So, after thirty-nine years, The Centre era is eventually coming to an end.”

Again, rumble of explosions and cries of people could be heard from the upper floors. 

Jarod tasted Hasani’s look of terror, “But you should have known, Hasani. You read the Prophecies; isn’t it because of those Scrolls if The Centre exist in the first place?”

 

Margaret and Catherine observed their children with pride. 

To them, Jarod looked smart and brave, like he had no flaws. Parker, instead, was a fierce and stubborn woman, but she clearly hid a tender side that only very fortunate ones were allowed to see. 

Catherine could see it in the way she was still squeezing Sydney’s hand.

“If it’s true, there’s no time, we must leave at once.” Lyle whispered to his father’s ear.

Ethan approached Lyle and put the gun on his chest, “Nobody goes anywhere. Not until we get what we came for.”

“And what is it?”

“Truth.” Jarod said.

 


“Sublevel 1 clear!”

“Sublevel 2 clear!”

“Sublevel 3, one loss.”

Zane was listening to the team leaders reporting the progress of their mission. Even if she was very nervous, she tried not to show. 

Jarod, I hope you know what you’re doing, she thought.

 


“How did you find us?” Jarod asked Catherine and Margaret, looking at them with a questioning look.

“Ethan.” Catherine said, her eyes fixated on her son.

“Remember when I disappeared?” Ethan senses it was time to reveal his siblings the truth. “Well, not only I was searching the Triumvirate, but I also found Mom. The voices guided me to her and Margaret.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Miss Parker asked, feeling betrayed by her brother’s distrust.

“I’ve asked him not to, Sweetie. We needed to stay hidden, we couldn’t risk being found before you and Jarod were ready.” Catherine explained.

“Ready for what?” Jarod questioned.

“To fulfill your destiny, just like the Scrolls said you would.”

“The Scrolls became reality because of our intervention!” Mr. Parker complained.

Miss Parker took that moment to try and approach Raines; she wanted Michael, but a couple of sweepers aimed their guns at her obliging her to desist. 

“We’re clearly at an impasse.” she commented, sarcastically.

“Where have you been all this time?” Jarod asked his mother.

“In a safe place. Only Ethan and your father knew where we were.”

Jarod looked at Major Charles with shock, he couldn’t believe this.

“I’m sorry, son. Your mother’s orders, I’ve never been very good at disobeying her.” He said with a playful tone.

Margaret gazed back at him lovingly.

“Like father, like son.” Parker commented. 

Jarod’s trademark approval grin appeared on his face as soon as he heard this. Parker had always been so good at one-liners.

“Who sent us that picture outside the Alley Sports Bar? It was you?” Jarod asked.

“Actually, that was me.” Raines said, his voice sounding hoarser than ever.

“You?” Parker asked, incredulous.

“At that moment, it seemed the best bait to lure Catherine and Margaret. I knew that picture would mean something to you. But I couldn’t imagine that Jarod would start a crusade that would bring him on the Island of Carthis.”

“Raines, it might sound farfetched” Jarod said with a smirk. “But I’m pretty sure that sending that picture was the only good thing you’ve done in your pathetic excuse for a life.”

“You also sent him the one taken outside the manor in New Haven?” Parker asked.

Raines nodded, “I wanted to be ahead of times, I wanted Jarod to find Catherine and Margaret for us. And I was right, because that’s what brought them here today.”

Jarod was very good at judging people, he’s whole life as a pretender was determined by his opinion. But for the first time ever, he couldn’t interpret Raines’s expressions. 

His eyes looked different. 

He looked almost – sorry.

And the mad doctor was actually feeling that way. 

After so many years he had achieved his own goal, but he would never benefit behind bars.

Miss Parker had at least a thousand questions in mind, but there was one that needed an immediate answer.

“Mom. How could you –”

“Survive?” Catherine interjected her daughter. Miss Parked nodded.

“Raines had taken me to that safe house to give birth; Ethan was his biggest project, but also his biggest secret.” She turned her face to Raines. “I trusted you, William. I couldn’t imagine that you’d betray me.” she lashed out against him.

“If I helped you faking your death in that elevator, it was just because I wanted Ethan.” He confessed.

At these words, Ethan changed his target, aiming his gun towards Raines and leaving to Jesse the task of keeping Lyle at gun point. 

“You had me for too many years. If it hadn’t been for Jarod, I’d still be your puppet!” he groaned. Jarod had never seen his brother so furious.

“William shot me in the chest, but fortunately it wasn’t a fatal injury.”

“But – t-the videos –” Parker stuttered.

“You couldn’t see me in those videos when he shot, could you?”

Parker remembered those terrible images; she had assumed that Raines had executed Catherine, that he had shot her in the head, but evidently he didn’t. 

“It was my biggest mistake, believing you dead and leaving you alone in that room.” Raines admitted.

“Margaret had infiltrated among the nurses. Raines never knew, but she was there to save me. As soon as she had the chance, she took me out of there.” 

“Raines found out about her disappearance long after the birth, he was too busy checking on Ethan. After performing all the tests on his newborn pretender, he finally got back to Catherine’s room and found it empty.” Margaret continued.

“Finally a Centre story that I like.” Jarod stated, smiling at his mother.

A noise came from behind him, catching his attention; Sydney’s condition was worsening. Jarod felt guilty at the realization that his mother’s appearance had distracted him considerably.

“J-jarod –”

“Sydney…bad.” Angelo murmured.

“He’s still losing blood.” Broots explained, worried like never before.

“D-don’t t-think about me, go away.” Sydney told the pretender.

Jarod looked at his mentor with affection. When he stroked his face, he felt it cold. 

Seeing this, Major Charles felt a tinge of envy. He was sadly aware of the fact that Jarod would never love him as much he loved that man. He had known since the moment he had spoken with Sydney on the route to the flight school, the day he had left with Jesse.  

“It’s going to be okay, Sydney.” Miss Parker whispered to him, bended again next to him.

“Reunion time is over, I need to take Sydney to a hospital.” Jarod decided, standing up again.

Hasani aimed the gun against him. “You’re not going anywhere, Jarod. We’re leaving, and you come along with us, together with your son. And seeing that they were so kind to show up unexpected, your little brothers will join us, too.”

Jarod gritted his teeth, “In case you hadn’t noticed, in less than five minutes a bunch of government agents will seize this sublevel to arrest you. You can’t use your Get Out of Jail Free card.”

Lyle smiled, “Well, Angelo taught us that The Centre air ducts always lead somewhere, Jarod. And you got in and out many times by using those holes, didn’t you?”

“I won’t go with you.” the pretender sentenced.

Parker suddenly smelled trouble.

Hasani sighed. “I thought I made my point clear, before.” He aimed his gun threateningly towards Miss Parker. 

Jarod rapidly simulated the situation, deciding to change tactics and put himself in front of her, shielding Parker with his own body.

“Now it’s my turn to tell the truth, Hasani. I didn’t kill Adama. That was –” Jarod sighed with disgust. “…one of the many lies they have told you all these years.” 

While saying this, he made a nod at the direction of Lyle, Raines, and Mr. Parker.

Jarod noticed uncertainty appearing on African’s face, then he continued. 

“I’m not a vindicative man. But if you touch her, I swear to God I’m going to kill you.” he promised.

Watching Jarod’s eyes as he threatened Hasani, Broots realized that yes, he would. Because now Jarod had it in his eyes.

 


 

“Sublevel 17 clear!”

“Sublevel 18 clear!” another agent screamed.

Zane smiled. It wouldn’t be long; Jarod had said the sublevels were 27. But they hadn’t found him, yet.

 


 

Noises became more insistent and closer; the agents should be there in a few minutes.

“You don’t have a choice, Hasani. Deliver Michael to me and surrender if you want to save yourself.” Jarod said.

Ethan pressed his weapon against Raines’s back, so the doctor decided to let Michael go. In a few seconds, the boy was in his grandmother Catherine’s hands. Parker felt like she could breathe again.

“Hasani, we can still make it.” Lyle stated, starting to be afraid of ending up in a prison for real, this time.

“Leave them. Let’s go. We make a new plan once we’re back to Africa.” Mr. Parker showed Hasani his hand.

Noticing their cowardice, this time it was Jarod’s turn to say, “Like father, like son.”

“But he’s not his father.” Parker interrupted him. “Not that his real father is much better.” she whined.

“That’s too bad it’s also yours!” Jarod quipped.

“I’ve had enough of you both!” Lyle snapped at them.

 


 

“Agent Zane, we’ve got some movement here! We have a glimpse on a group of armed guards and two groups of people involved in a conversation. It looks like they are teamed up, and with them – yes, that’s Agent Morse!” the nameless agent shouted in the earphone with excitement.

“Nice work, Braff! All units, we need cover at Sublevel 19, we found Morse!”

“It’s not just him, Agent Zane. Raines and the Parkers. They’re all here, together with a group of Africans. Just as you thought they would. How could you know?” Agent Braff asked her.

Yeah, how did you know, Jarod?’ Zane wondered. Then she headed towards Sublevel 19, too.

 


 

“Enough!” Hasani silenced everyone.

Jarod and Miss Parker shared a knowing glance. 

They were both thinking the same thing. 

Their only chance to survive was using words as a weapon against them. 

Words were always the leverage. 

With words, Jarod had convinced Miss Parker to discover the truth about her mother’s pretended suicide.

With words Parker had offended the pretender in every possible and imaginable way.

With words Jarod had made her realize that her father had feed her with lies for years. 

With words they had been able to reconcile, find each other, fall in love again. 

And now words would save them from that dangerous situation.

Jarod knew that he had found Hasani’s weakest point. 

It was the same Achille’s heel that he also had: family.

The memory of his brother Kyle, murdered by Lyle, was one of the most painful regrets he had to live with.

If he cared so much to get to Delaware to find vengeance, maybe the same could be said for Hasani, too.

“What, you can’t handle the truth?” Jarod spoke again. “It was them. Raines and Lyle killed your brother on that plane! And it was Mr. Parker who organized the escape plan in every detail. Adama’s death had been planned since the beginning!”

“No, you shot him!” Hasani snapped at Jarod, full of rage, but more and more confused.

Ethan sensed that Jarod was hitting the mark; Hasani was giving up.

“I was there, too. Raines shot your brother.” Miss Parker validated Jarod’s tale, approaching Hasani to emphasize her words. “He killed him mercilessly, and he made you believe that Jarod had done it in a fit of madness.”

Lyle moved his hand to his weapon slowly. He glimpsed at Raines, both realizing that the situation was getting worse by the second. 

Hasani’s sweepers, feeling the shift of trust, lowered their guns only to direct them against the three leaders of The Centre.

Hasani tried to deny the truth, again. “No. I’ve been told –”

“You’re an intelligent man, Hasani. Think about it” Jarod challenged him. “Adama was interfering with The Centre plans, he had to be killed. Maybe they would have reserved you the same treatment!” Jarod pointed out.

 


 

Zane reached her men, who had been waiting for her orders outside the corridor.

“What’s going on in there?”

“It looks like they’re still talking, sir.”

“Wait, who are those women. God, there’s a little boy! I don’t wanna go home with casualties, are we clear?” Zane said in the earphone.

“Just call it, sir!”

Come on Jarod, give me a sign, because I don’t know what to do.

 


 

“Don’t listen to them, Hasani. I’ve worked with you for the last few, remember? I gave you the Prophecies!” Mr. Parker intervened, smiling to encourage his listener. 

Miss Parker chuckled, “You really are unbelievable, daddy.” 

“You haven’t changed, James.” Catherine noticed, disappointed.

Everybody turned to her; Catherine’s presence was still a miracle that nobody could really believe to.

“You’ve ruined our family, our daughter and Jarod’s lives. You never stopped lying. Just like you did when you swore that the insemination you were going to subject me to was with your semen, while you used your brother’s, instead.” she concluded, glancing at Raines.

“When did you find out?” Mr. Parker asked his wife.  

“The night of Thanksgiving of ’69.”

Miss Parker and Jarod shared a quick look, both surprised by that umpteenth revelation.

“That’s why Raines –” Miss Parker murmured.

Catherine just nodded, “I would have never wanted you to see me like that, sweetheart.”

“Let me see this straight.” Jarod recapped. “You hit your daughter’s mother, forcing her to go to the hospital with multiple fractures…just because she had discovered the identity of her child’s father?”

Raines grimaced, “I don’t expect you to understand.” he stated, bitterly.  

“God forbid!” Miss Parker replied, sarcastically. 

“A man who touches a woman even with a finger doesn’t deserve to live.” Jarod sentenced. Accidentally, both Jarod and Parker’s eyes fell on Lyle.

Catherine spoke again to Mr. Parker, “I ignored it for a year. It looked like you really cared about our daughter.”

“I’ve always loved her more than anything else in this world!” he shouted in answer.

“You have weird ways to show love to your child.” Margaret interjected. “Erasing her memories and make her forget the only beautiful things happened to her after her mother’s disappearance.”

Jarod and Miss Parker exchanged another knowing look. Mind Rain was something these men needed to pay for.

Hasani was speechless. 

Apparently, everything Jarod had said was true: Mr. Parker had told lies for years. To Mutumbo, then to Adama, and lastly, to himself.

“I’m just sorry that I trusted Raines when I should have followed my instinct and disappear with Margaret. Forgive me, sweetie, I would have spared you so much pain.”

“It’s okay, Mom.” Miss Parker reassured her. 

“The important thing is that we’re together, now.” Ethan agreed. 

“We’ll be fine, Mom. I found a family, in the end. And Ethan is the only brother I really care about.”

Catherine tightened her hold on Michael while she gave Lyle a disappointed look. She had been saddened when she had been told what kind of man her son had turned out to be in her absence.

“What do you want, Mommy? Not all of us were lucky enough to grow up with a friend like Saint Jarod.”

Jarod heard Sydney moaning behind him. His time was running out.

“So, what are you going to do, Hasani?” the pretender spoke again, looking at his mentor giving up and passing out. 

Angelo and Broots both looked terrorized.

“I don’t think he can hold on any longer!” the technician said.

Jarod approached the African, “You can still do the right thing. They didn’t give your brother the time to act, but you can still honor his memory. Adama would have ended the Centre, he would have taken the Scrolls back to Africa, he would have taken all the powers from Mr. Parker. The Centre would have disappeared for good. That’s why he had to die.”

Hasani started to shake his head, “Stop it.”

“ – so they could continue with this madness –”

“Stop it.”

“– so they could carry on their experiments, their crimes –”

“Enough!” the African shouted, silencing Jarod for good. 

The pretender obeyed and stopped talking, he was almost breathless for his speech.

“The only thing I want…” Hasani whispered. “ – is vengeance.”

“That won’t give you your brother back. Believe me, I’ve been there.” Miss Parker informed him.

Hasani smiled. “We finally agree on something, Miss Parker.”

She looked at Jarod, who was so proud of her for learning such an important lesson. She had really grown since Thomas’s death.

Hasani sighed. “Now I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago. I’m sorry, Jarod.”

Jarod and Parker closed their eyes while the bang of a shot filled the air.

End Notes:

Reviews would be much appreciated. And remember that my mistakes and errors and typos are all caused by my "not-being-English" :)

Chapter 19: Deja vu by missparker87
Author's Notes:

This is a chapter dealing with death. Well lots of deaths.

Sorry, no more spoilers.

Hasani shot. Jarod kept his eyes closed but he immediately realized that he wasn’t feeling any harm. 

When he lifted his eyelids, he saw that Hasani had deliberately shot somebody else.

The scene before Jarod’s eyes was surreal. Raines moved a hand to his chest, covering the wound that Hasani had just provoked. 

It was only a matter of seconds, because after what felt like an infinite amount of time, the doctor raised rolled in eyes in his orbit and fell. 

The bullet had struck straight through his heart. 

He was dead.

 

After Raines’s body touched the floor, everything happened so fast that Jarod couldn’t almost figure it out. 

Lyle took his gun and aimed it against Hasani’s men. 

Jarod looked at his father, shouting to take cover; in the meantime, the Centre sweepers began a gunfight against the Africans. 

Three Africans and four of Lyle’s best subordinates looked for repair behind the columns, the doors, the tables. 

Bullets were flying everywhere.

Jarod grabbed Parker to walk her away from the firing line, throwing her to the floor behind a wall. He then positioned himself right next to her, covering his partner with his body and yelling at Angelo and Broots to look for cover, too. Broots and the empath and dragged Sydney far; following Angelo’s suggestion, the three of them ended up inside an air duct. 

Major Charles, Ethan, Jesse and the two mothers were trying to get away without being involved in the shooting, taking Michael with them.


§§§


“They opened fire!” Agent Braff shouted.

“Move!” Zane shouted in her earphone.

All the agents immediately follower her order and rushed through the corridor, aiming their guns at all the sweepers. 

One of them recognized Jarod and reached him, “Agent Morse!”

“There’s an injured man down there, you must take him to the hospital right now or he will bleed to death!” Jarod shouted, trying to speak over the sound of the shots, pointing at the air duct where Broots and Angelo were hiding along with a still unconscious Sydney.

The agent didn’t waste time: he called for a colleague, and they went looking for Sydney together. 

Jarod observed carefully while they reached the three men and he sighed in relief when he saw Sydney being taken away.

Angelo and Broots hadn’t been hurt, and that was the first good news of that day.

Parker was holding herself tight, frightened like never before in her life.

She wasn’t worried for the safety, but for her daughter’s.

The problem was that she needed to take care of herself, if she wanted to save the life growing inside her womb. 

 

Meanwhile, three Africans and three sweepers died under the fire. 

Mr. Parker was hiding behind a column, protected by Lyle. 

Hasani was the first to be reached by Zane’s agents and to be handcuffed. 

The woman recognized him as one of the members of the African section of The Centre.

Jarod leaned over to observe that atypical Mexican standoff: hidden inside a room there were Margaret, Major Charles, Ethan, and Catherine, who was still holding little Michael. The kid was probably terrified. 

Jesse had somehow been left behind and he was covering up behind a column not far from Lyle and Mr. Parker. 

On the other side, Zane and her men had ceased fire, mostly because there were just Lyle and Mr. Parker who were facing them, by now. 

 

Lyle glanced at his father and gave him a gun. 

They couldn’t afford being captured, or that would have really been the end.

When Agent Zane asked Lyle to surrender, he looked for alternatives around him. When he noticed Jesse, Lyle ran towards him with a sudden movement, taking everyone by surprise.

He dragged the kid to himself, aiming his gun to his head. 

“Let him go, Lyle!” Zane screamed at him. 

Even if she had never seen them before, she felt like she had always known those men. Their reputation preceded them, and Jarod had given her some horrifying information about Lyle. She couldn’t underestimate his madness.

“Jesse!” Miss Parker screamed, standing up and running towards her twin brother.

The room suddenly became quiet. 

Jarod took a weapon from the floor and joined Parker, who was already aiming a gun at Lyle and Mr. Parker.  

“Let him go, Lyle” Jarod said. “This is between you and me, he’s got nothing to do with it!”

“Oh, but he is you, and you are him.” He replied with a fanatic look in his eyes. “So, this is about both of you.”

“Lyle, it’s over, just give up.” Parker begged him. 

She couldn’t just help herself: whenever she looked at Jesse, she saw the young Jarod she had left behind.

Memories of their uncommon childhood surfaced through her mind and Miss Parker realized that she couldn’t let them hurt him again. 

She wasn’t crazy. She knew that Jesse was his very own person. 

And she cared for him, maybe as much as she had cared for Jarod when they were kids. 

He was vulnerable and powerless; she had to help him, at any cost, if she wanted to silence her guilt once and for all.

This was her absolution.

“Take me!” Parker cried, taking everyone by surprise.

“Parker!” Jarod screamed back at her, incredulous.

“Miss Parker, don’t!” Jesse asked, wriggling through Lyle’s arms like a mouse.

The woman proved her will by walking towards Lyle with slow and heavy steps. Then she threw her gun and widened her arms in surrender, “Take me, instead.”

“Parker, come back here, now!” Jarod lashed out, attempting a move towards her; but when he saw Lyle tightening his grip around Jesse’s neck, he had to reconsider. 

Jarod stored Jesse’s frightened expression in his memory. Even if he wanted to be considered an adult, he was only an innocent kid.

He sent him an encouragement look, but he couldn’t help remembering when he was the one with that look on his face. 

Something inside Jarod died, at that moment. 

Lyle licked his lips, tasting the decision he had been asked to make. 

He could finally have the thing he’d always wanted: his sister at his mercy. 

Most of all, by choosing her, he would benefit of the situation. Jarod would never fight him, if it meant putting Miss Parker and the little bastard’s life in danger.

Lyle tightened the grip on his weapon, he truly wanted to shoot Jesse. 

If he couldn’t kill Jarod, he would at least get revenge by killing a Jarod. 

He eventually changed his mind when he saw Parker approaching him a bit more. He rapidly pushed Jesse away from himself and took his sister between his arms, tightening his arms around her.

Jesse took the opportunity to run and join Ethan, who checked on him.  

Jarod, Parker, and Lyle were catapulted back in time, in Dry River.

“Damn it, Parker!” Jarod snorted, he could feel the longing desire to use his gun against Lyle surfacing from his inner self.

“Well, now we’re going to make a nice trip. It’s gonna be me, daddy, and my lovely sister. A nice family reunion. Mom, care to join us?” Lyle quipped at Catherine, stepping backwards. 

“Son, please, do the right thing.” Catherine begged, walking out from the room she had been hiding into.

Michael was now in Margaret’s arms; she was trying to cheer him up and make him stop crying.

Not even his own mother’s voice dissuaded Lyle from being the man he had always been. 

There was no room left for conscience, inside him.

 

“What do we do, sir?” a couple of her agents asked Zane.

“Put your guns down or I promise I’m going to place a bullet inside my twin sister’s wonderful skull.”

While the agents obeyed and put their guns to the floor, following Zane’s example, Jarod made a step forward, without even thinking about lowering his gun.

“That’s enough, Lyle. What do you wanna do?” Mr. Parker asked him, noticing that it was over for them. “How could we possibly run? For heaven’s sake, let her go!”

“Shut up, dad, we can still make it. It’s all about leverage, am I right Jarod?”

“What the hell do you want, Lyle?” the pretender snapped at him in answer.

Parker was strangely silent and submissive, like nobody had ever seen her before.

“I want to see what happens when I kill someone important to your world, Jarod.” Lyle told him.

Jarod opened his eyes wide, remembering the words that Alex had said to him a long time before.

 

I want to see what happens when I kill someone important to your world.

 

So, it was true. 

Lyle had been called to Africa to train the pretender, but he couldn’t because Alex was too unstable. And yet, he had left an indelible mark, turning him into a sociopath. Just like Raines had done with Bobby Bowman.

“It’s not too late, Lyle.” Jarod said. “You’re the result of a sick mind. Raines turned you in something you would have never been, if Catherine had been there.”

Mr. Parker had never seen his family reunited in the same room. 

His wife, daughter and son were all there with him. 

Of course, his children were a result of his brother’s semen, but Catherine was right at least about one thing: he’d always loved his daughter. 

He had lied to protect her, to keep her by his side; he had manipulated and betrayed her more than once. 

But he did love her. Maybe he never really showed, but he did. 

Mr. Parker couldn’t accept the idea of something happening to his Angel, let alone if Lyle was the one hurting her. Sure, he was his son, but he had come to the picture only in the last few years and covering his affairs to protect the Centre had always been hard.

“You talk to me as if I had a conscience, but you should know by now, that I don’t have one.” Lyle told his father, while he kept moving towards the SL-19 elevators area. 

All the people in the room were following the Parkers, pushing them against the wall. The elevator doors were opened, and Lyle knew how important it was to get inside with Miss Parker as a hostage.

“Jarod is right, Lyle. You must stop.” Mr. Parker said, trying to convince him.

Lyle glared at him. “You’ve always loved her more than me, uh, daddy? You let Raines take me away as soon as I was born!” he yelled with resentment.

“He said you were dead! He told me the truth only years later.”

“We didn’t know you were alive, son.” Catherine gave support to her husband, knowing that for once he was telling the truth.

“Not much of a loss.” Parker joked, sarcastically.

“Damn it, would you please stop it, Parker?” Jarod reproached her, afraid for her safety. Then he addressed himself to his nemesis. “Lyle, I’ll do anything. Please, let her go.”

Lyle smiled, pleased of seeing Jarod begging him.

“No, Jarod.” He smirked. “She dies, you lose, I win.”

 

Mr. Parker suddenly remembered that he was still holding the gun given to him by Lyle. 

He looked at the weapon and then at his family.

He thought about Catherine, a beloved wife who had spent years on the run to hide from the Centre. 

He thought about Raines, a brother who’d been turned down by their parents only because he was the weakest link of the chain. 

He thought about his Angel, his daughter Charlotte, who was now at the mercy of his son’s hereditary madness. 

If he looked carefully at Lyle’s expression, he could see the same insanity that had filled his grandfather’s eyes.

Was this really the legacy he wanted to pass on to his children?

It was the end, and Mr. Parker was finally realizing that all the important people of his life had abandoned him, he was alone. Alone with his demons and sins, for which he would have to respond, sooner or later.

“You’re surrounded Lyle, my agents are waiting for you in the upper sublevels.  There’s nowhere you can run.” Zane intervened.

Lyle chuckled like a mad man, “Well, then my sister and I are going to go out in style.” 

Parker opened her eyes wide; she’d been closer to death before, but this was the first time she was really terrorized of dying.

“That’s a pity” Lyle spoke again. “I would have been a great uncle.”

 

Parker seized the moment.

She took advantage of Lyle’s hesitation to give him an elbow to the gut and she towards Jarod.

groaning in pain, Lyle rose his arm and shot in their direction, his desire to kill his sister had never been so burning.

Mr. Parker lifted his arm and did the same thing, but he shot his son.

Acting like in slow motion, Jarod put himself in the line of fire to protect Miss Parker, hit by a bullet which had her name written all over it. 

A second later, he was lying at her feet.

“Jarod!” Parker yelled, kneeling to check on him.

“Lyle!” Mr. Parker began shooting at his son and he hit his shoulder.

Zane took advantage of that moment to run towards Lyle along with another agent, but she didn’t make it in time because Lyle shot another bullet, this time against his father. 

“James!” Catherine shouted, feeling powerless in front of the terrible scene in front of her. Father and son fighting against each other. 

She ran to reach her husband.

Even if she had noticed her father being hurt, Miss Parker only had eyes for the pretender.

“P-parker…” Jarod moaned. 

She noticed that the bullet had hit his back, probably puncturing his lung.

Lyle looked at her in hatred while Zane reached him with cuffs in her hands.

Miss Parker reciprocated Lyle’s look full or scorn. 

She couldn’t take it anymore.

Looking at the hideous man whom Jarod had always warned her from, she took the gun left by Jarod’s hand, she lifted her arm, and she shot Lyle precisely to hit his head.

Her brother fell before Zane could do anything to intervene.

Lyle was dead.

“Jarod!” Major Charles shouted, relieved that he could finally run towards his son to check his wound. He was soon joined by Ethan, Margaret, and Jesse, who was already crying.

“M-mom.” Jarod managed to say. 

His eyes betrayed the huge emotion he was feeling in seeing his mother so close to him, even if the pretender was afraid he wouldn’t have time to tell her how much he’d miss her.   

“I’m here, son.” she said, taking his hand and kissing it. “I’m here. We’re together.”

“I wanted to say…so…many things.” he moaned again, his blood running from the wound.

“You’ll tell her, Jarod. Hold on, help is on the way!” Ethan interrupted him, even if he wasn’t sure of what he supposed to say to his brother.

“Y-you were amazing, little brother.” he said to Ethan, who nodded, sighing in tension.

Jesse was still crying silently, wishing he could hide it.

“I t-told you once.” Jarod reassured him. “It’s okay to cry.”

Jesse nodded, sniffing.

“Even if – It makes you look like a girl.” Jarod joked, trying to smile. 

For a moment, he had really been afraid of reliving Kyle’s death. He thought he’d lose another brother.

But they were all safe. 

His family was safe.

She was safe.

“E-Ethan, take care of her and the babies, ok?” Jarod said, coughing.

“Stop with the nonsense, ok?” Miss Parker took his collar. “You won’t die. Don’t you dare die on me now that you’ve managed to blow up this damned place, are we clear?”

“Doctors are on their way!” Zane screamed after receiving the communication from the medical squad.

At that moment, Broots and Angelo reappeared behind them: now that everything was quiet, the agents had let them back to SL-19 to assist their friends.

Broots sighed in relief when he saw Miss Parker; but the relief soon turned into anguish when he realized that Jarod was lying at the floor in a pool of blood and, not far from him, Mr. Parker was dying. 

“Jarod!” Broots shouted.

“Jarod…pain.” Angelo whispered, kneeling next to his friend.

“Broots – H-how is Sydney?” Jarod asked him.

“He’s on his way to the hospital. He woke up and keeps asking about you. He’s gonna be fine, Jarod.” Broots reassured him. 

It was Parker’s turn to sigh in relief. 

At least one of the most important men of her life would get better.

“Dad, call Emily, she must be g-getting crazy at home, alone.” Jarod coughed again.

“Would you stop talking? Think about yourself, for once!” Parker lashed out.

Jarod tried to smile, “You know, P-parker. I hope our daughter has…your strength…and your smile…and most of all…your…eyes…” 

He half-closed his eyelids while Miss Parker burst into tears, “Jarod.”

“Jarod!” Major Charles shouted.

But it was useless to call him, he had lost consciousness. 

At that moment, the doctors entered the room dragging a gurney. 

They took the pretender outside, while the major part of the family followed.  

 

Parker was unable to move.

When her tears finally stopped streaming down her face, she realized that her mother and father were still behind her, so she joined them. 

Catherine was holding her husband’s hand, for he seemed to have just a few minutes to live. The doctor next to him looked at Miss Parker and shook his head.

“Dad, we should take you to the hospital…”

“No!” Mr. Parker replied to his daughter. “It’s supposed to be that way. Just leave me here.”

“Oh, James.” Catherine murmured. She was trying to feel indifferent in front of her husband’s death, but she was failing.

“Dad.” Parker said. “Why did you do that?”

“I d-didn’t want to leave t-this world before deserving your forgiveness. I’m sorry Catherine, I should have been…a better husband.”

The woman sighed. She had dreamed of hearing those words hundreds of times. She had prayed for him, she had hoped that one day, eventually, he would repent. She couldn’t know that this would happen on his deathbed. 

“I forgive you, James. You saved Charlotte.”

“Our Angel.” He smiled at her. “Forgive me if you can.”

Miss Parker couldn’t say anything. She didn’t feel like to forgive that man, she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction to know that she was grateful because he had showed her some affection, at least in the last seconds of his life. 

While he exhaled his last breath, Parker bended and gave him a kiss. 

When she saw him giving up, she looked at her mother with intensity.

The doctor touched his wrist and announced, “He’s gone.”

The two women held each other while Catherine stroked her daughter’s hair like she used to when she was a little girl. 

Parker was sobbing.

“You can’t imagine…how much I missed you, M-mom.” she managed to say, through a sob and the other.

“I missed you too, honey. But I promise, we’re making up for lost time. We will put these thirty years of sufferance behind us.”

Parker nodded, without raising her head from her mother’s tender held. 

She had so many things to say, thousands of questions to ask. 

Her father was dead, now her mother was the last key to find inner peace. 

Even if Miss Parker knew that Catherine was right there in front of her, she couldn’t feel happy for this reunion.

Jarod was dying. 

She could hardly imagine her life without him.

Fate was playing a dirty hand with them: now that they could finally be together, they were destined to be apart, maybe forever. 

The two women stood in that embrace for a couple of minutes and nobody around them tried to separate them.

Andrea Zane was the one who interrupted that intense moment when she approached Miss Parker to say, “We’re heading to the hospital, we may escort you there.”

Parker lifted from her mother’s hold, “Thank you, Agent Zane. For everything. Jarod would have never made it without you.”

“We’re the ones that must be grateful. It’s just because of Jarod if today we put an end to The Centre. The building was turned upside down like a sock, all the men who were directly involved with the pretender project are dead or under arrest. Our colleagues in Africa reported that the mission against the Triumvirate fortress was successful. All the senior members of the Triumvirate surrendered without resistance, in hope that they might get less severe punishment for their cooperation.”

Parker looked incredulous. 

She didn’t know that the NSA and other American agencies had planned an attack to the Triumvirate power base.

Zane smiled, “This should have been a surprise.”

“Jarod would have loved it.” Parker replied, realizing that she was already using the past to talk about him. 

God, why didn’t the voices guide her, tell her that everything would be fine? 

“He’ll be glad to know this, when he wakes up.” Catherine corrected her.

Parker watched a group of agents taking away Raines and Lyle’s corpses. 

Her mother looked the scene with shock. 

How could Miss Parker make her understand what a man Lyle had turned out to be? How Raines had manipulated him, creating a twisted mind?

“He’s never been my brother.” she explained to Catherine “The only lesson I’ve learned at The Centre, the most important thing that Jarod taught me is…that it’s not blood that binds.”

“I know, sweetie. Lyle has never been my son. If only had I been a mother to him, like I was for you during your childhood…”

“It wasn’t your fault, Mom.” Parker cheered her up.

While a huge sadness took possession of mother and daughter, the only survivors of the Parker family, Catherine looked at a very disappointed Agent Zane. 

“I wanted them to go to trial. They could have confessed everything we wanted to know about this place.” Zane commented.

“We’ll take care of it, agent.” Catherine cheered her up. “Don’t worry.”

Noticing Zane looking at Lyle’s dead body with a preoccupied expression, Miss Parker felt the need to justify her actions. “Lyle had it coming. If Jarod doesn’t make it, this will be the only satisfaction I got.”

Zane pretended she hadn’t heard her. 

She knew that she would need to hide many things with the department to save those persons’ lives. 

Yet, strangely, that didn’t bother her at all.

End Notes:

If you're still reading and enjoying this story, just let me know ;)

Chapter 20: Family Grief by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Previously, on Mind Rain.

Catherine is still alive and is finally reunited with her daughter.

Jarod was shot by Lyle. 

Mr. Parker died and so did Lyle. 

Is Jarod going to make it?

KENT GENERAL HOSPITAL - DOVER
7.17 p.m.
Broots was pushing Sydney on a wheelchair to reach the room where he would finally meet the others.

The psychiatrist had two main whishes: seeing Jarod and holding Miss Parker.

The doctors had taken care of Sydney as soon as he’d reached the hospital, where they had stopped the bleeding and performed a blood transfusion.

Jarod’s condition had crashed down rapidly, instead. 

When Broots had told Sydney that the man he loved like a son was now in a coma, the technician had feared that this would worsen his health again.  

Sydney felt guilty for his protégées.

First Angelo had saved his life and almost died in the process; and now Jarod had destroyed The Centre and freed them all from the place that had kept them prisoners for decades only to get shot by the same crazy man who’d killed his brother.

Michelle and Nicholas had arrived as soon as Miss Parker had contacted them. The woman had proved to be interested in staying with Sydney for the time it would take for him to heal, and so had promised Nicholas. 

The acknowledgment of being finally free from the threats of The Centre made Michelle realize that she wanted to visit Sydney more, if he was still interested in spending some quality time with her. 

The man couldn’t help but being glad of that decision, also in the hope that Nicholas would like to spend some time with him too, now that he wouldn’t need to be afraid of The Centre.


Broots had immediately called Debbie and asked her mother to let her come back home. Needless to say, the woman had been very happy to get rid of her daughter, who would be escorted To Blue Cove by FBI.

Broots was still incredulous. For the first time in his life he was facing a scenario where he didn’t have a purpose anymore. His only objective had been to oblige to The Centre and Miss Parker’s orders for years. What would he do now? Could he adapt himself to a normal life?


While both Sydney and Broots were lost in thoughts, they reached Jarod’s room. All the people who cared for him were outside of his door.
Agent Zane had managed to postpone their statements, in hope that Jarod would wake up in the meantime. 

Major Charles had fetched Emily from the airport and taken her to the hospital, while Parker and Catherine had rejoined Ethan. 
Jesse stood by himself, still too shocked for what had happened a few hours before. 

Angelo, instead, looked calm and peaceful, as he had never been before in his life. As if, with the end of the Centre, his mind had been freed from a nightmare that had haunted the empath since Timmy had turned into Angelo.

Margaret sat beside Jarod, holding his hand. In spite of all these people’s presence, the pretender hadn’t given signs of recovery and the doctors weren’t very positive about his chances to wake up.

But they had noticed the large number of people who wanted to stay close to the patient, so they had required Jarod’s relatives to enter the room one at a time. 

All of them had taken turns in spending time with Jarod. 

Surprisingly, the only person who hadn’t found the courage to get inside his room was Miss Parker.

The former Centre operative had been obliged to get a checkup to evaluate her condition and her pregnancy. The doctor confirmed that the baby was fine.

But since then, she had witnessed the parade of people going in and out of Jarod’s room in the background.


As soon as she saw Sydney and Broots showing up from around the corner, Parker excused herself with the others and ran towards her colleagues. 

She hugged Broots first, shocking him with that sudden demonstration of affection.

“Debbie?” she asked him.

“She’s on a flight, she’ll be here tonight.” he explained her, venturing a smile.

“Good.” she nodded in response.

Then her gaze fell on Sydney; sure, he was on a wheelchair, but his skin was back to his normal tone and he looked more lively than the last time she had seen him.

“Parker.” Sydney sobbed. 

She squeezed his hand as hard as she could and bended above him to look at him. In his eyes, she noticed the huge abyss that was growing inside of herself, too.

Jarod was surrounded by his family: his father, his mother, his brothers, his sister. And yet, they were the two persons in that corridor who were connected to him the most, the only ones who truly understand him, the only ones that knew who the pretender really was and what he had achieved in his amazing life. They both felt that Jarod needed them, but they didn’t know what to do; they felt powerless and useless in front of the ineffability of Jarod’s fate.

“It wasn’t your fault.” Miss Parker acknowledged.     

Sydney smiled, “It wasn’t yours either, Parker.”

Miss Parker smiled with tears at the corner of her eyes, noticing again how she and Sydney needed just a look to understand each other.

“Have your heard about Lyle and my father?” she demanded the psychiatrist.

“Broots told me. I must say, I wasn’t very upset for their untimely death.”

“Ditto.” she agreed.

“How is he?” he asked, hitting a nerve. 

Parker sighed, her look back on the others, “Stable, comatose. His condition is worse than Angelo’s was, the doctors don’t talk, but you can see they aren’t very confident about him waking up.”

While a tear streamed down that brave woman’s beautiful face, Sydney squeezed her hand, “He’s gonna make it, we must have faith.”

Parker sniffed and shook her head, “I can’t.”

Sydney used his other hand to touch Parker’s belly delicately, “You got to be strong, for her.”

Parker smiled, finding that touch comforting. 

Her daughter would love to call Sydney Grandpa.

“Uhm, where is Michael?” Broots asked her, interrupting their tender moment.

“He’s upstairs, at the nursery. I don’t want his first memories about his father to be of him lying in an hospital bed.”

“What did they say about the kid?” Sydney asked.

“He probably won’t remember about the Centre, he’s too young.”

“That’s good news.” Sydney thought out loud.

“Yeah…” Miss Parker agreed. “Wanna see him?” she asked, knowing that Sydney couldn’t think about anything but Jarod.

The psychiatrist sighed and nodded.



When Sydney entered Jarod’s room his eyes immediately fixated on his beloved pretender who was sleeping with Margaret at his side.

“Sydney.” she stuttered, almost surprised by his arrival.

“Should I come back later?” he asked.

“No, please, stay.” Margaret pleaded him. Sydney nodded and pushed the wheels of the chair so that he could reach for the bed.

“He looks so helpless. He reminds me of when he was a kid.” Sydney confessed, glancing with one eye at Margaret as he smiled for that tender memory. 

The woman just sighed.

“Maybe I won’t have another chance to say this to you, so I’d rather to do it now that you’re both here.”

Margaret looked up, giving Sydney her attention.

“It’s very unfair that I got to spend so much time with Jarod while you and Phillip weren’t able to see him grow up.”

“Sydney, don’t – ”

“No, let me finish.”

Margaret nodded.

“He was an extremely intelligent and sensible boy, he asked about you almost everyday. The Centre lied to me; they made me believe that you were both dead in a plane crash. I didn’t want to see the truth, even if my brother Jacob tried to convince me that there was something wrong in our jobs.”

Margaret was speechless.

“Even after my brother’s accident, I kept serving my master. I never asked the right questions. I was blind.”

Margaret shook her head. “Jarod was lucky enough to be assigned to you. You’re a good man, you shaped him in your own image, and you gave him the means to distinguish good from evil.”

Sydney stared at her with curiosity.

“Phillip told me everything about your relationship with our son, Sydney. It's nobody’s fault if extraordinary circumstances produced this weird situation. You’re a father figure to him, you’re the man who’s always guided and advised him.”

“Surely, Major Charles –”

Margaret interrupted Sydney, “That level of confidence will never exist between Phillip and Jarod. The trust you both have in each other is unmatched.”

Sydney half-closed his eyes, remembered a conversation with Jarod of little more than a year before. He was struggling with the tormented relationship with his mentor because he had just found out about the drugs experiments that Raines had performed on him. 



Alone in a phone booth, Jarod dialed the number and waited for Sydney to answer.

He wasn’t sure he would find him at the office, but he had to give it a try. He really needed to speak with him.

“Sydney.” he answered, knowing that only Jarod could call at such late hour.

“I didn’t think you’d still be working.” Jarod muttered. 

“Good of you to call. I was getting really worried.” the psychiatrist admitted.

Jarod was very upset, so he let his resentment surface without stopping it. “Because you thought I might have slipped back into my childhood drug addiction? Just tell me why. Why did you let them do that to me?”

Sydney didn’t know where to start “Jarod – ”

“You’re the only person that I trusted. You were like a –”

Pronouncing the word out loud would have been too painful, at that moment. 

Jarod’s heart was broken because he was sure that Sydney, the only person he could trust back then, had betrayed him.

He'd left him to Raines, a lab rat ready for his experiments. 

“You should have stopped them, Sydney!” Jarod had a huge lump in his throat that made tears appear in his eyes. The overgrown and scared child that still was inside him took over, at that moment.   

“Jarod, I couldn’t.” Sydney explained.

“Why not?” the other demanded, incredulous and upset.

“Because –” now it was Sydney’s turn to get angry. “I was a test subject myself!”

Jarod stood in silence for a few seconds, “What are you talking about?”

Sydney sighed, “I asked Raines, rather, I demanded…that you be left out of the drug testing and that they use me instead, and Raines agreed. It was only when I came out of detox that I realized what had happened, that he’d lied.”

Jarod couldn’t believe his ears. 

So, Sydney hadn’t really abandoned him.

“So you sacrificed yourself to protect me.” he almost stuttered.

Sydney shook his head, he would have never wanted to be obliged to reveal Jarod that piece of information. 

The pretender, on the other hand, felt the lump in his throat getting more and more oppressive.

“Why didn’t you ever tell me that?” Jarod asked, sure that many things would have been different, had Sydney found the courage to tell him the truth before. 

“I never wanted you to feel obligated to stay here at the Centre, if you had a chance to get away. I’m sorry, Jarod. I’m really sorry.”

So said, the psychiatrist hung up. For the first time in his life, he’d been the to interrupt the communication.

Jarod would have loved to say many other things. He wanted to confess how much he loved Sydney, how much he appreciated that paternal affection that he almost never showed while they were at The Centre. 

Instead, he found himself alone and dejected. As usual.



“We’re grateful that he had you, Sydney.” Margaret continued. “Kyle wasn’t as lucky. My poor son.” Margaret sighed, thinking about the boy she never even had the chance to know.

Sydney felt he could ease the pain of that woman, “Jarod once told me that Kyle repented for what he had done. He didn’t want you to know what Raines had turned him into. His last act was saving Jarod. Eventually, his heart saved somebody else’s life.”

“I know.” Margaret replied, almost smiling, “And I’m very proud of him. But now I-I can’t stand the idea of losing another son before having the chance to know him! You were right. This isn’t fair!” she cried her eyes out.

Sydney looked at Jarod, lying in his bed unaware of what was happening around him.

“Nothing in Jarod’s life has ever been fair, Margaret.” Sydney concluded.



When the Major got back to the hospital with Emily a few hours later, she finally had the chance to speak with the woman who had pursued his brother for years.

At the beginning, Emily tried to keep her distance from that femme fatale. She sat next to Jesse, oddly the brother she had the strongest relationship with.

It didn’t take the kid long to tell his sister how Miss Parker had risked her own life to save him, how she had offered herself as hostage to protect him. 

At that moment, Emily realized that maybe Jarod and her father were right about Miss Parker. She was special.

While said woman kept watching the man that she loved from behind the glass, Emily approached her in silence. They were alone because the others were elsewhere. The major and Sydney were having a coffee, Jesse, Angelo and Ethan were taking some air, Broots was fetching his daughter.

“Jesse told me what you did for him. Thank you for saving him. I guess it wasn’t to stand up against your own brother.”

Parker grimaced, “Lyle was just a mad psychopath. You should know, seeing that he tried to kill you once.”

“I thought you were twins – ” 

“Just because we came from the same womb, it doesn’t mean that we have anything in common. I’ve never had a relationship with him. The day Jarod told me that Lyle could be my twin brother was one of the most terrible of my life.”


“I've narrowed your brother's identity down to these two files.”

Jarod was showing the red files to Miss Parker, who had found them with Davey Simpkins. The boy was still afflicted by the effects of Raines’s torture.

Parker was dying of curiosity, but at the same time she was afraid to know. Among those files, there was also Jarod’s. This meant that he could actually be her brother?

“One of those belong to you?” she asked him, hiding her anguish.

For a moment, Jarod contemplated the possibility to lie, or to make her struggle to discover the truth. But he couldn’t treat such an important information like they were playing a game. Their childhood was based on a tender friendship that had even leaded to their first kiss. They had unfinished business to clarify, feelings that none of them could give a collocation to. Not yet.

Parker was worried. She looked at Jarod with anxiety, hoping not to hear a positive answer to her question. Why was she hoping? 

Because they had trained her to hate Jarod, to capture him and bringing him back to The Centre, or because…she knew that, deeply inside, she still felt strong feelings for him? 

Conflicting feelings, yes, but feelings. 

Affection, camaraderie, even passion. 

Angelo observed the scene in silence, his mind still clear and aware of what was going on.

Jarod, eventually, smirked. “No. I'm not your brother.”

Parker sighed in relief. She couldn’t help but showing her joy for removing the doubt that she had felt, that she was still feeling…something…for her brother.

But when she realized that she was showing her weakness, she put on the mask of the Ice Queen.

“But one of these files does belong to him.” Jarod continued, nodding at Angelo.

“Him?” she asked, surprised and incredulous.

“And the other to a boy named Bobby. But you know him better as…Mr. Lyle.”

This was too much, even for Miss Parker. 

She burst into laughter. 

As he watched her letting go of her tension with a sarcastic laugh, Jarod realized how beautiful she was. 

He hadn’t been the receiver of Miss Parker’s laughs for years and it was a sight to behold.

“So you're telling me that my brother is either a psychotic killer or Mush Head?”

“It's unmistakable.” Jarod concluded, ignoring her comment about Angelo.

Parker tightened her held on the gun while she kept holding the red file given to her by Jarod. 

She felt like she could pass out at any moment.

“I need a drink” She complained. “A big one.”



Emily smiled after listening to Miss Parker’s tale. 

Parker immediately noticed how that smirk made her look like Jarod.

“I really wanted Angelo to be my brother.” she continued, looking at the empath that was coming back with Ethan and Jesse. 

Noticing that she was getting sad again, Emily changed the topic. “You’ve been through a lot together, I mean, you and Jarod. You met him often, even if he tried his best to run from you.”

“When we actually met it was usually because the genius set me up.” she explained. Catherine and Margaret chose that moment to come back from Jarod’s room and approach their respective daughters.

“One time…” Parker told them all, smiling at the memory. “He dragged me to a bank to meet Mr. Fenigor. Five minutes that we are together in that building and two thugs get in for a robbery. We got stuck for hours!”

“But you also saved the day, or so I’ve been told.” Margaret intervened.

Parker continued her list, “What about that hurricane in Bahia Grande?”

Catherine smiled, eager to know where her daughter was going with that.

Emily waved her hands in the air, “But there wasn’t always a natural catastrophe when you two met. Was it?”

“I don’t know, Em –” and Jarod’s sister appreciated the abbreviation used by Miss Parker. “When we got on the Island of Carthis the devil’s storm almost killed us.” 

Emily, Margaret, and Catherine burst into laughter, which was absurd, given the circumstances.

Parker sighed. “Whenever we were together something huge happened. Even explosions!” she continued, thinking about the time they almost died in SL-27 or in the subway.

Emily was becoming more aware of the reason why her brother had fallen in love with that woman. She was strong, intelligent, charismatic, and surprisingly funny. Emily felt bewitched by Miss Parker’s words. 

Any man would fall at her feet. 

“Mom.” Parker changed the subject. “Fenigor told us that Major Charles killed you. Why?”

Catherine sighed, “Fenigor never knew that I faked my own death. Raines was the only one to know, back then. The only thing he saw that day was Phillip’s weapon on the floor next to the elevator; he knew that I was trying to save Jarod. He drew a conclusion and he probably convinced himself that Phillip had shot me.”

Parker grimaced, “I’m so ashamed that I believed him. It was just another Centre lie. Jarod tried to warn me, and yet I chased him. I tried to shoot him!”



“Jarod!”

Parker was aiming her gun against the pretender; she had chased him through the SL-27 corridors. At that moment, all the anger she felt was directed to Jarod, even if he had nothing to do with her mother’s death.

“Looks like another dead end!” he snarled at her, furious.

“I know all I need to know.” Parker responded; her hand tightened on her gun.

“Do you? After all the deceit and all the betrayal we've both experienced how do you know what the truth is?”

“Fenigor had no reason to lie.” and she truly believed that.

That man was dying, why would he need to waste his last breath in lies? 

No, Jarod’s father had murdered Catherine, maybe in an attempt to save his son. 

Thus, it was Jarod’s fault, too.

“Then you're going to have to shoot me, because I'm going to find out the truth!” Jarod challenged her.



“That was the only time I actually wasted a whole cartridge on him.”

Margaret and Emily looked at her with shock, at least until she said, “I did it just because I knew I couldn’t get him; he was running, and my shots carefully missed the spot.” she reassured them.

“For such a long time I’ve been convinced that Major Charles actually shot you. I wanted revenge.”

“But why blaming Jarod?” Emily asked.


Parker smiled with sorrow in her eyes. She shrugged.

How many times had she blame Jarod during the years of the pursuit? 

She looked again through the glass door.

“Because hating Jarod gave me an outlet. He was like a human punching bag. Jarod always managed to concentrate all my anger against himself. 

He sent me stupid presents and puzzling clues, he put me on his trail with subtle hints and at the same time he helped me discover the truth with his annoying mind games.”

“Why do you think he did it?” Margaret questioned Miss Parker, curious about that extravagant side of her son.

“To allow me to survive. Jarod knew that my job was to catch him. The deal with my father was that I could go back to corporate, once I
brought him back.”

“He also knew…” Sydney stepped-in at their backs, “that neither Parker nor I had the guts to do it. We had more than once chance to capture Jarod, but we never succeeded.”

“What do you mean that he helped you survive by being hated by you?” Emily asked her, totally confused.
Sydney smirked. As a very good psychiatrist, he had understood Jarod and Parker’s rules of the game since the first day of that six-years-odyssey.  

“With every new piece of truth, I distrusted Mr. Parker a bit more. I realized what kind of man he really was. Should I have trusted my instinct, I would have stopped chasing Jarod after a few months. I wouldn’t have been able to work in a place that had exploited brilliant minds for power and money.”

“Jarod made Parker blame him.” Sydney went on. “And that’s what saved her. She kept hunting him because Jarod made her believe that the reason why she was chasing was that she hated the pretender so much that she really wanted to bring him back to The Centre. Her father and Raines were satisfied because she kept pursuing her prey. So, she didn’t run the risk of becoming a target for the Tower or the Triumvirate.”

“I’m getting a headache.” Emily complained, not understanding the twisted relationship among those three people.

Sydney smiled, glad to use his psychiatric skill, “Jarod’s plan failed just on one occasion.”

Parker sighed, “Tommy.”

Catherine and Margaret looked at each other. None of them knew who they were talking about, and Emily didn’t know much either. She had just overheard Jarod talking about that man with his father, once.

“Jarod had decided that if we couldn’t be together, maybe he could give me another way out. He asked a man named Tommy to meet me, he put him on my way. We fell in love so easily.”

Sydney was relieved to notice that Miss Parker could talk about Thomas Gates so easily; she had never done that before.

“Tommy and I had planned to move to Oregon.” she explained, looking at her mother, who nodded. “But daddy ordered him killed so that I couldn’t leave The Centre. Brigitte was the one who actually shot Thomas, she was daddy’s –”

“Second wife, I know.” Catherine informed her.

Parker nodded, sighing. 

Even if time had passed and that wound didn’t hurt like before, her father’s betrayal still did.

“Did you ever get evidence that Mr. Parker was the one who ordered Thomas’s murder?” Emily asked her.

Parker scoffed, “I didn’t need it. I’ve always known it was him. And Jarod helped me exposing him. Even in such a grievous moment, he stood by my side, like nobody else did. He helped me discovering who was responsible for his death.”



Parker had just finished her toast above Thomas’s grave; she was putting her sunglasses on when she heard a familiar voice behind her.

“Beautiful words.”

When she turned around, she saw Jarod. 

He was wearing a long black coat. She hadn’t been at his presence in a while, and she noticed that his hair had grown a bit. 

He wanted to place a bouquet on the grave, but Parker was still mad at him for the model of her first meeting with Thomas. 

She took him by the collar and pull him to herself with rage.

“What, no confetti gongs, joy buzzers, squirting flowers?!”

“None of this is a laughing matter.” he replied, feeling six feet under. He missed Thomas very much; he had been a good friend. Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell Miss Parker, yet. She wouldn’t understand.

“Yeah. No, you really caught me in a mood, today.”

Parker pointed her finger at him and then took her gun, aiming it straight to Jarod’s chest.

“I'm real tempted to put a cap in you, wipe the slate clean on my life and take off without ever looking back!”

Jarod was disappointed and pained by her reaction. 

All he wanted was to share his pain with her, to help her overcome it. 

But Parker never lowered her guard with him. 

So, he gave her what she needed: someone to blame. 

Once again, he had to be what she hated the most, what allowed her to go on, to survive.

“Your gun won't work.” he challenged her, slightly amused.

Parker took off her sunglasses, looking at him angrily.

“I took the firing pin out last night.”

Parker sneered, with incredulity, “I sleep with this under my pillow.”

“And you drool out of the left corner of your mouth.” he mocked her, moving his finger around his mouth.

Parker lowered her gun and tried to shoot at the ground, realizing that Jarod was telling the truth.

As always, the genius was a step ahead. He had expected her reaction and he had taken the only thing she could threaten him with. 
But she wasn’t in the mood for that either.

“What the hell are you doing here, Jarod?!” she huffed, now very close to tears.

“It's time to take care of some unfinished business.” Jarod stated solemnly, then he glanced at Tommy’s grave. “To find out who killed the man you loved and why, and to pay respects to a man like Thomas Gates, because he deserves it.”

Jarod tried to place his flowers on the grave again, but Miss Parker stole them from his hands, and she replied to the pretender with a rage. 

She wasn’t really angry at him, but she needed to pour out on someone, and Jarod was always the perfect target.

“Just because you're a genius doesn't mean you know what he deserves.”

Parker stopped, feeling tears coming again. She couldn’t breathe well. 

Noticing her despair, Jarod felt like he was dying inside and understood that was the moment to disappear, if he didn’t want to show her all his vulnerability. 

At that moment, the only thing he would love to do was hugging and console her, but he knew she would never allow him to. 

She hated him, after all.

“Why are you tormenting me, Jarod? Why do you even c –” 

Parker suddenly turned around, waving the bouquet in the air, but Jarod had already disappeared. She made a few steps “ – care?”

As always, Jarod had vanished with a coup de theatre. 

But he had left something behind: Tommy’s business card, which reported the words, “Rumor 58259”.



“Good Jarod. He just wanted to help me coming to terms with it…but I treated him so bad.” she explained to her listeners.

“And how was that different from any other day?” Sydney asked, easing the tension and making all the women chuckle, even Parker.

After a few seconds of silence, their expressions got tense and serious.

“Miss Parker, I still have one thing to ask you.” Margaret intervened, grabbing her hand.

“What?” she questioned.

“Why don’t you go in there?”

Parker sighed, and she cried her heart out, smiling while tears streamed down her face. Sydney put a hand on her back.

“Because it’s my fault if he’s in there.”

Parker was sobbing. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the moment when Jarod had gotten in the way between Lyle’s bullet and herself. 

He had saved her, but now he was dying, all because of her.

A weeping Emily took Miss Parker in surprise and held her like a sister. 

Margaret looked at the scene, touched. 

“Jarod needs to feel your presence, sweetheart.” Catherine cheered her up.

“Cat is right.” Margaret agreed. “I haven’t known my son for long, but there’s one thing I’m certain of: you, Michael and your unborn child are the most important thing, to him.”

Parker touched her belly, remembering the happiness Jarod had showed when he had found out that she was pregnant. 

She thought about Michael, still entrusted to the care of the upstairs nurses.

“Syd, would you come with me?” she asked, desperate for the older man to be by her side.

“Of course, Parker.” he answered, his eyes filled with unshed tears.
End Notes:

Sorry for the typos, mistakes, errors, misprints, grammatical disasters. But if you like the story, please let me know.

Chapter 21: Wake up by missparker87
Author's Notes:

This is gonna be sappy, but…Hey, I couldn't just let him go, could I?

When Parker entered Jarod’s room, the weirdest thought came to her mind. She realized that for the first time in her life she would be able to talk to him and have the last word.

All the doctors agreed on the fact that if Jarod wouldn’t wake up in the next few hours, his recovery would be uncertain. 

Parker couldn’t stand watching a man who usually buzzed with life, vigor and dynamism forced to lie in a hospital bed. 

“He seems so defenseless.” she observed.     

“Yeah.” Sydney exhaled. 

Miss Parker walked crossed the and stopped in front of the windows, then she sat in the chair that had been occupied by Margaret until a few minutes before. She took Jarod’s left hand in hers, bringing it to her mouth.

Unwillingly, she wetted it with her tears.

“I can’t do this, Syd.”

“You can, and you must, Parker. He needs us. We got to be strong, for once. Think about everything he did for us. Think about your children!” Sydney tried and encouraged her. 

“I’m never gonna make it without him, Sydney. I can’t live without him!” she responded, angry with herself for causing this and for her own vulnerability, too. 

How did she end up like this? 

A few weeks before she was an independent and unattached woman. 

Sure, her future was a dead-end, but that was just a tiny detail.

Mow she was a mom-to-be, worse, she risked becoming the youngest widow in Blue Cove. And that wasn’t the destiny she would have chosen for herself either.

Sydney was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t notice that he was chuckling out loud. 

Parker looked at him, uncomfortably. How could he possibly find that situation amusing?

“Remember that time when Jarod met Bartlett in Georgia? How we used Angelo’s faculties to understand who wanted to kill him?”

“Yes.” she replied, feeling angry. Whenever someone mentioned that animal’s name, she felt like she couldn’t distinguish what was right and what was wrong. Should she see Bartlett again, she’d probably kill him.

“I knew that you were hiding something. The way you made efforts to get to Jarod in time…I knew you didn’t want Bartlett to hurt him.”

“It was just because I wanted to catch him before him.” she retorted, her old huntress tone surfacing again, from time to time.

Sydney kept on chuckling, “Are you sure, Parker?”

The woman was reminded of the moments she had spent waiting for Angelo to tell them what person from Jarod’s past wanted to kill him.



“Bartlett, Angelo! Is he the one who’s going to kill Jarod?”

Angelo was at the floor when Sydney finally found out the name of the man Angelo was afraid of. 

The empath dragged himself out from the net Jarod had built for Bartlett and approached Syd, nodding with conviction.

“Bartlett! Must stop Bartlett. Bartlett hates Jarod, hates everyone!”

Sydney stared at him in apprehension.

“Bartlett wants to kill—wants to kill Jarod! Sydney, help Jarod now!” Angelo cried.

Syd didn’t want to waste another second, “Parker, we have to do something!”

The Centre operative, who still didn’t want to show her real feelings, was secretly as tense as they were.

“Broots, call the Florida Bureau of Prisons, see if Bartlett is still in custody!”

“Okay” the technician answered, running away.

Parker made a few steps towards Angelo and Sydney, “Bartlett is a racist sleazebag who would kill his own mother.”

Angelo, in the meantime, was exhausted by the pain he had felt empathizing Jarod’s emotions. Sydney stood up and listened to her.

“Syd, we have to find him. If Bartlett finds Jarod first, he will kill him.”

Sydney suddenly glanced at Parker, she was staring at him intensely. 

Her expression showed all her concern, at that moment. 

The psychiatrist couldn’t help but notice the irony of that situation. The most assiduous among Jarod’s pursuers was afraid for his own safety and wanted to find him to save his life – not to take him back to the Centre. 

Was Miss Parker starting to realize what Sydney had understood a long time before? That between huntress and prey there was more than just pranks and mind games? That they were connected by an intimate bond?

Parker knew she had to get back to her senses and put on the Ice Queen façade, so after a few moments of embarrassment, she said, “ – and ruin my chance.”

But Sydney didn’t miss the way she shrugged to try and disguise her fear, for he had seen her growing up and he knew every single mannerism of hers.

“Let’s just pray we’re not too late.” he concluded, finding tacit inner agreement with Miss Parker.



“Ok, maybe that day I kept remembering what he told me when Bartlett tied us together in Bahia Grande.”

Sydney was intrigued: neither Miss Parker nor Jarod had ever mentioned anything about what they had said to each other in that occasion.

“When I managed to get free from the rope, I thought I could handle Bartlett, but he was stronger than me. Jarod freed himself too and saved my life.”

“And then he ran?”

“No, he tied me up first.” Sydney grinned. “But I asked him why he saved my life. He said that he still remembered the little girl who gave him his first kiss.”

Sydney gasped in astonishment as his psychiatrist skills kicked in. 

So Jarod had been in love with Parker even at the beginning of the pursuit?

“I was terribly worried, I was afraid I would lose Jarod before being able to understand.”

“Understand what?”

Parker smiled and kissed Jarod’s hand again. “Something I already knew in my heart, but that I still wasn’t ready to admit.”

Sydney watched her while she stroked Jarod’s forehead; the pretender didn’t show any signs of recovery, yet.

“That I’ve always loved him.”

Sydney smiled again. It was so good to hear Miss Parker speaking so openly about her feelings.

“You know what he said to me, some time ago?” she grinned as she recalled another funny story. Sydney shook his head, indulging her.

“When we went to Pastor Jones’s church to ask about Jarod, we thought he had already left. But he was still there, right under our nose. He was enjoying the chorus sitting on the church roof.”

The psychiatrist couldn’t resist and burst into laughter again, “No way!”

Parker chuckled too, “I can almost picture him, a guardian angel! You are crazy, Jarod.” She sighed.

Their laughs faded, and Sydney understood that was the signal for him to leave. He patted on Jarod’s arm once more and then he pushed his wheelchair outside, leaving Miss Parker alone with him.



“Jarod, there are so many things – things I never told you, things I would have wanted to tell you, things I should have –” 

She interrupted her speech, trying to hold back the tears.

Obviously, Jarod didn’t move. 

Parker sighed deeply, ready to talk again. “Jarod, you remember what you told me after Michael’s birth, that day I confided to you that I’d never told Tommy that I loved him?”



“I thought that getting revenge for Tommy's death would somehow bring me peace. But even if I had been able to, I know now it wouldn't have.”

She didn’t actually know why she was confiding in Jarod. Maybe because he had helped her discovering the truth about Thomas. 

She couldn’t figure why, but Jarod was always with her during the most difficult moments of her life.

She chased him every day, her whole life revolved around bringing the pretender back to the place he was running from. 

And yet, Jarod still cared for her, he still treated her like his childhood friend. Parker would never admit this out loud, but his constant presence in her life was crucial to her survival. Jarod was her rock, and she was realizing this more and more each passing day.

“That isn't the unfinished business that needs finishing.” he replied to her, walking with no destination in a totally different place. 

He would have loved to be by her side, but he knew she needed to confront the pain on her own. 

“You said the other day that you wish you had told him. Told him what?” he asked her, curious. 

“I never – I never told Tommy that I loved him.” she finally confessed, relieved by the fact that she was confiding this secret to someone. And not just to any someone. To Jarod. 

“And now your heart and your mind are raging a war against each other.”

That was the reason why Parker loved speaking with him: the pretender understood her without needing to say things out loud. 

He knew her better than anyone else.

“I would trade everything for one minute with him, just to say those words and have him hear them.”

“Tell him.” Jarod concluded “Let your heart win the war.”



Parker squeezed Jarod’s hand stronger.

“You were the one who taught me not to underestimate the importance of expressing our feelings for the persons we love. I don’t want to miss my chance with you, too.”

She looked miserably at him, almost hoping that he would wake up at that very moment. 

“I’ve never been an easy person to deal with. Since I was a child, I had no friends outside of the Centre, nobody really got along with me. You were the only one who understood the real me, you – you knew that something had broken inside me after my mother’s death. And you stood by my side, you cared for me, and you have me the most precious gift: our friendship.”

Parker pondered on all those times that they had wandered across The Centre corridors as kids and got into trouble. 

She remembered that time when Sydney had found them playing hide and seek down in SL-12; the psychiatrist had admonished them not to scare him like that anymore, seeing that he had been looking for them for hours and Jarod had been scheduled for a SIM. 

Good old Sydney, she thought.

“Then my father, he – he turned me into a hopeless bitch, he trained me to close the IT security gaps of The Centre and later he charged me with your pursuit. He was so sure that Mind Rain had been successful that he didn’t even think about the skeletons I would discover having to deal with you night and day. Mostly night.”

She chuckled at this thought. After a long pause, she kept talking.

“I don’t blame you for hating me. I don’t blame you for trying to forget me I made your life a living hell for so long…The more you tried to show me the truth, the more I tried to get some distance from you. I couldn’t believe that my father was such a monster.”

Parker placed Jarod’s hand on the bed again, then she stood up and turned her back to him, her eyes fixated on the outside.   

“Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t met on Carthis. Would you give up on us? Maybe you’d finally realized that I was a lost cause, and you wouldn’t have tried anymore.”

She sighed, “Fortunately, we both know you’re an obstinate S.O.B.” she chuckled. “You pushed me to face that turning point. That night on the island I finally let go and realized I still loved you. I probably never stopped. And I’m sorry that I couldn’t figure it out sooner, Jarod, but I was a fool. I’ve been blind, irritating, cynic, arrogant. I must thank you for not giving up on us.”

Miss Parker burst into tears, so out of character that she couldn’t believe feeling so weak.

“I won’t ever thank you enough for everything you’ve ever done for me.”

Parker was still crying.

“D-did you actually s-say thank you?” 

Parker turned around with a rapid movement, sure that she must have been dreaming. 

But she wasn’t. 

Jarod’s eyes were open, and he was looking at her, waiting for a reaction.

“Jarod! Oh my god! Doctor!” she shouted, pressing the button to call the nurses. Then she ran outside.

“He’s awake!” she yelled.

A mass of people ran into Jarod’s room, but Miss Parker didn’t. 

She remained behind; she needed to stay back and recover. 

Doctors and nurses did a complete check-up on Jarod immediately; they monitored his vital signs and talk about a “miracle”, seen the few chances he had to survive.

Inside the room, dozens of voices could be heard talking one above the other.

Miss Parker was trying to distinguish the words of the doctors when Broots and Debbie peeped from the corridor with Angelo, noticing by the turmoil that something must have happened.

When the technician saw Parker crying, he assumed the worst.

“I-is h-he –”

“Broots, he woke up!” Sydney grinned, smiling to his friend as he came out of the room.

Broots chuckled with joy and Angelo began swinging back and forth, sensing all the positive emotions emanating from that room. 

“Can I –” Broots asked for permission.

“Get in, moron, everyone else is inside.” Parker smiled.

Sydney stood behind with her; they patiently waited for the doctors’ consult to come to an end. 

Later, they heard a nurse who snarled in annoyance. “That’s enough, everybody out! We must check on the patient’s condition!”

Even if all of them complained about that request, they started to exit the room one by one, leaving only Margaret inside. 

Miss Parker noticed Jarod’s mother listening to her son as he asked her something, then she got out.

“He asked of you.” Margaret whispered.  

Feeling emotional for that request, Miss Parker gazed at Margaret full of affection, then she stared at Ethan. “Would please go and fetch Michael? I think his father would love to see him.”

“Of course, sis.” He smiled in return. 



Parker approached Jarod in time to hear the doctor say, “It’s unbelievable, but it looks like the worst part is over, Jarod. You’re a fighter.”

When Miss Parker noticed the relief in the doctor’s eyes, she got the weird sensation that the two knew each other. She was sure of it when she heard Jarod replying, “Thanks, Jeff.”

“Ok, let’s give them some space, Rose.” he said, addressing himself to the last nurse who was still in the room.

Parker walked to Jarod’s side. She slowly sat on the chair and bended so that her face was a few inches from his. The pretender was still lying on his side after the doctor had checked his wound.

“How’s Michael?” Jarod immediately asked her.

Parker couldn’t help but smirk for his innate sense of altruism. 

She shook her head slightly and gave him a soft peck. 

She had missed those lips. She had been afraid of not being able to taste them anymore.

“What did I miss?” he asked.

“My father’s dead. So is Lyle.”

Jarod didn’t need two options to guess that Parker probably been the person who had killed his twin.

“How?” he asked, nevertheless. 

“It – it doesn’t matter, let’s just say he won’t annoy us anymore.”

“Are you all right?”

Parker chuckled, “You are the one who was dying and you ask if I am fine?”

“I’m not the one who’s carrying a life in her womb, Parker. Is the baby all right?”

She nodded, lifting a hand, and caressing his face. He half-closed his eyes and enjoyed that soft and lovely touch.

“We’ll have time to talk later, now you need some rest.”

He opened his eyes suddenly, “No! Stay.” he pleaded her.

She scoffed, “You really are a child. Are you sure you don’t want your mom?” she asked.

Jarod smiled and coughed, “Before, I woke up in time to hear you saying that you’ve been blind, irritating, cynic, arrogant. You forgot merciless.”

Parker burst into laughter, “Ok, then merciless, too.” she agreed, taking his hand in hers. 

“We made it, Parker.”

You made it.” she corrected him. “You won’t need to watch your back from now on. Nobody’s gonna hunt you anymore, Jarod.”

“I was hoping that you would, still.” he admitted. 

Now that The Centre was out of the picture, he was almost scared of losing her. 

Scared that their existences had already fulfilled their purpose, just like the Prophecies said.

“I won’t chase you anymore, Jarod.” she stated with his eyes fixated on hers. “I won’t have to stay a step behind you. From now on, we’ll walk together, side by side. Huntress and prey finally reunited.”

Jarod chuckled and coughed again, “This seems a perfect ending for a novel.”

Parker laughed again, “Maybe I should start writing. I mean, I’m unemployed!”

“I’m sorry! I never thought about that side of the coin. I must help you finding a new job, then.”

“I have the feeling that The Centre ensured us a final buyout, Jarod.”

“Buyout?” he asked, not understanding what Parker was talking about. 

He obviously couldn’t know that Broots had provided them with a very generous severance pay.

“Let’s call it damage refund. That money should allow you to keep helping the little guy, if that’s what you want.”

“The only person I wanna help right now is me. I need some balance in my life. I want to make up for lost time with my family – and with you. That’s the only thing that matters.”

“Yeah.” she agreed. “I guess the next nine months will be a whole new experience for you, too. You’re gonna spend your time indulging the cravings of the pregnant Ice Queen.”

Jarod grinned at the thought. “I’ll keep a gun for the bad days.” he replied, causing her to laugh again. 

Parker wondered again how he could manage to make her feel so peaceful.

“God, I must renew my wardrobe.” she complained, kissing him again.
End Notes:

Let me know what you think :)

Chapter 22: Zane's Harangue by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Maybe you didn’t particularly like the sappy turn of events of the last chapter.

But things won't get easier for the 'Three Stooges', from now on. 

KENT GENERAL HOSPITAL - DOVER

Three days later

When Sydney was discharged, he moved in at Broots's along with Angelo. 

Michelle and Nicholas were still staying in a hotel, and they often met with the psychiatrist. The matter of a hypothetical relocation hadn’t been properly discussed, yet. But Sydney thought about it almost every waking hour. 

He was glad of having a chance to spend some time with Michelle and his biological son; but knowing that Phillip and Margaret’s house was in Florida, he was sure that Jarod would decide to stay close to his family in Jacksonville.

He hadn’t found the courage to ask the pretender and Parker what they would do. And if he listened to his heart, he knew that he wanted to be with his them, too. He couldn’t leave Angelo behind. And he couldn’t imagine his life without Jarod or Miss Parker in it. 

 

 

Jarod was recovering fast, and everyone was very grateful to see him regaining his usual carefree attitude. 

His relatives visited in little groups not to drive the hospital personnel crazy.

In the meantime, Zane was sorting out the paperwork about The Centre case. The interrogations of the people directly involved had unraveled years of crimes. Not having the opportunity to prosecute Mr. Parker, Raines and Lyle had left the smart agent with the feeling she had achieved a bitter victory. 

The department wanted a scapegoat, they needed someone to pay, a culprit to splash on the front pages. 

The blitz at the Centre had been covered by the media, with the result that people all around America were wondering what had really happened.

Conspiracy theories were already circulating on the internet, and they couldn’t do anything about it.

 

 

Jarod had been expecting Andrea’s visit, so he wasn’t surprised when he saw the NSA operative knocking at his door.

Parker sat next to him, holding Michael. Jarod was entertaining the kid by moving a toy car on the bed, and Michael laughed at every single funny face or noise made by his father. Even Parker chuckled at Jarod’s absurd expressions, at times.

“I’ve always thought you have peculiar aesthetics, Jarod” she mocked him, kissing Michael’s head. 

Jarod took his son's hand, staring at him with a content smile plastered on his face.

Andrea Zane coughed to clear her throat and let them notice her presence.

Jarod and Parker looked up.

“Agent Zane.” Miss Parker greeted her.

Andrea made a little smile, and she approached the patient; Jarod was visibly getting better by the day.

“I guess this ain’t no social call, Zane.” Jarod stated.

“Not really.” she confirmed. “First of all, I’ve been sent to inform you that as soon as you fully recover there’s a job waiting for you at NSA.” 

Jarod and Parker exchanged a questioning look. 

“The department wants to hire you, for real.” Zane said.

Parker knew that something like this would happen. Of course, the NSA didn’t want to lose someone like Jarod.

“The agency never had an operative with your skills; they are ready to do literally anything to have you. Money won’t be an issue.”

Jarod was speechless. It was the first time that someone wanted to give him a job for showing his true self.

“It’s a big opportunity, Jarod.” Parker softened. 

But the pretender didn’t seem convinced, “I’ll think about it, Andrea. I can’t take such a decision light-heartedly. I must talk about it with my family.”

“Take all the time you need.” Zane nodded.

After a few moments spent in silence, Jarod spoke again, “I think you didn’t come all this way just to offer me a job, uh?”

Zane smiled, appreciating the pretender’s typical intuition.

“My superiors are pushing me. I’ve tried to hide the names of those who were directly involved with the Centre, but it’s no longer possible.”

Parker’s attention was diverted from Michael. She knew that Zane was talking about something that interested her personally. 

Jarod’s expression darkened. He was deep in thought.

“We tried to keep the intel as confidential, but you know how these things work. The names came up, that’s all the tabloid and the tv news talk about. Everyone in this damned country is wondering what happened to the team in charge of your pursuit.”

Jarod glanced at Parker with worry in his eyes.

“With all due respect, I think they’ve got a point.” Zane admitted.

Parker chuckled, “I bet you do.” 

“Parker, please.” Jarod stopped her while Zane rolled her eyes in astonishment. This woman really was something.  

“We’ve been over this, Zane. They’re not guilty.” Jarod explained for the umpteenth time. “I’m going to testify on their behalf, my word should be enough to vouch for their innocence.”

“It’s not that simple, Jarod.” Zane shook her head. “My superiors need someone to put on the prosecution table. The three main suspects are dead, so the case falls on the three of them.”

Jarod fidgeted in his bed, “I won’t allow you to charge them with crimes they never committed!”

Parker was anguished, but she didn’t want to show. She knew that her team would bear the consequences of their actions. 

Sydney would certainly pay more than everyone else, given that his main job at the Centre could be considered child endangerment and exploitation.   

Zane took a file from her bag and opened it, starting to read.

“Doctor Sydney Mertens –” noticing Jarod and Parker’s looks of surprise, she challenged them, ironically. “Oh, yeah, we know his family name.” 

“The psychiatrist is charged with child endangerment and exploitation in scientific experimentation. We’re talking about years of prison, Jarod.”

“I was raise by Sydney, he never – ”

Zane interrupted the pretender, reading from another file, “John Broots committed every possible cyber-crime in the attempt to keep up with your movements.” 

Parker’s annoyance was growing by the second, she felt her cranky attitude coming to the surface, “What’s written in your files about me, uh?”

“Parker.” Jarod tried to stop her again, sighing in exasperation when he recognized her you-run-I-chase tone.

“Don’t hush me Jarod, I want to know!”

Zane couldn’t help herself, “Charlotte Catherine Parker, your name conveniently disappeared from the archives of the Centre main computer.”

Jarod looked at the woman he loved with the huge smirk ever on his face.

Payback felt – oh, so good. 

Miss Parker was astonished, how could Jarod possibly have deleted information about her, the chairman’s daughter?

Jarod had revealed this detail to Zane a few hours before the blitz, when he had called to confess that his brother had selected for deletion all the files about Miss Parker, the woman helping them from the inside. He’d mentioned Operation Reset would have never worked, without her.

“When, I mean – how –” she stuttered, too surprise to put together a coherent thought.

“Ethan was amazing. He filtered all the data to delete every hint of your job as leader of the team that was hunting me. Reports, contacts, checks, receipts, everything. In this new version of the Centre, you are Lyle’s twin sister; you were sent away to Europe to complete your studies and you found yourself involved in the blitz just because you were coming home to visit your family.”

“And what about the hole in Lyle’s skull?” she challenged him, almost angry for the fact that she’d been lifted from the responsibility of killing her brother.

“My agents were well cooked. To them, Mr. Lyle died during the gunshot. There is no mention of the threats to you and Jesse Charles in our records. Lyle shot Jarod, and then one of the Africans shot him, end of story.”

Parker was confused.

“I told Jarod that the role of the martyr wouldn’t suit.” Zane smiled, causing a little smirk on Miss Parker’s face, too.

“We’ve thought this through, Parker. We’ll teach you well before your deposition. I didn’t want you to be exposed to the fatigue of a trial during the pregnancy.”

“Since when you worry about your huntress, boy genius?” she asked.

“I’ve always made this mistake, Miss Parker.” He quipped.

Zane didn’t completely understand that banter, but when she saw them smiling at each other and sharing an affection look, she realized they were joking.

“And what about Sydney and Broots?” Miss Parker asked, staring at the agent.

Zane sighed, glancing at Jarod; he was betraying his uneasiness with his typical lost-puppy-look.

“We could pretend that Mr. Broots's was an undercover agent working with us during the last four years.” Zane exhaled, knowing that she would get in trouble for this.

“Sounds good!” Jarod exclaimed. “And what about Sydney?”

“Sydney will take responsibility.” a voice at their backs suddenly declared. 

The psychiatrist was entering the room with his crutches. He reached for Jarod’s bed and looked at him with a soft smile on his lips.

Parker approached the old man and kissed his cheek; she hadn’t seen Sydney for two days.

“Are you feeling better?” she asked, checking his leg.

“Yeah. It’s not the physical pain I’m worried about.”

“Syd” Jarod spoke. “I don’t want you to spend the rest of your life in prison. My deposition will maybe reduce your punishment, but it will never save you, you know that.”

“Let’s face it, Syd. The fact that Jarod grew up under your scrutiny will make the jury think that you probably manipulated his mind so that he saw you like a father figure. Well, like mother hen, too.” Parker stated sarcastically. 

“There’s nothing to joke about, Parker. This is a serious matter.”

Zane interrupted them, she couldn’t stand a second more of their banter. 

“We may have a plan. It could work pretty well, but it would definitely raise some ethical issues.”

We?” Parker demanded, curious.

“This was Jesse Charles’s idea.” She told them.

Jarod and Parker exchanged another questioning look. 

What had Jesse really been up to during the hours spent in a room at the NSA?

Jarod grimaced, “Ethics was never contemplated at the Centre, Zane. Go on and tell us.”

Parker placed a sound asleep Michael in Jarod’s arms, making attention not to wake him up.

“The boy knows how much you care for Sydney, so he suggested that – uhm – that we could fake his own death.”

Jarod’s face took on a worried expression as he gazed at his mentor.

Sydney looked as much astonished as the pretender was, “Meaning?” he asked.

“Jesse also mentioned that you had a twin brother.”

“Yeah, Jacob.” Sydney replied, with a nod, still not understanding where the NSA operative was getting with this.

Parker, instead, understood everything at once. “God, that boy is smarter than you, Jarod!”

Zane couldn’t help but agree with her: Jesse Charles was brilliant. 

“That’s why it could work: Dr. Mertens commits suicide in a crisis of conscience. A gas leak triggers an explosion in his own house. We find his corpse disfigured by the fire.”

Parker closed her eyes, not willing to picture the scene in her mind. 

Sydney was shocked. 

For years, Jacob had been the only family he had. 

Knowing that he could rest in peace was the only thing that alleviated his guilt for his death.

The psychiatrist opened his eyes wide, “You want to use my brother’s remains – to save me?”

“There’s no other choice.” Zane stated.

Sydney yelled, “Jarod, this is insane!”

“Syd, please –”

“No!” Jarod was interrupted. “I’m not listening to this! I won’t exhume my brother to save my neck!”

In spite of the chaos, Michael didn’t move. Sleeping in Jarod’s arms had become his favorite hobby.

Sydney walked towards the exit, the noise made by the crutches on the floor only remarked his disappointment.

Zane stared at Jarod, almost looking for advice. 

The pretender looked at Miss Parker, who immediately caught on his intention.

“And what about us?” she screamed.

The psychiatrist stopped, avoiding turning around not to face her stare.

Parker was searching for the right words to say. 

She had never told Sydney how much she cared for him, but she knew the time had come to put aside the past and do it.

“Jarod needs you. Angelo needs you!”

Sydney listened, without uttering a word. 

Parker approached the man, making him turn around so that he could look straight into her eyes and feel her emotions.

I need you.”

Miss Parker’s wonderful eyes were filled with tears, “You’ve been the only father I ever had, Sydney. You were there during the special occasions, and you supported me at difficult times. You remember what my father told me at my graduation?”

“No.” he answered honestly.

Jarod hung on her words.

“Nothing, because he wasn’t there.” Miss Parker talked on, revealing the umpteenth bad memory she had about Mr. Parker, “But you were there, Sydney. And I will never forget what you said to me.”

Sydney smiled sadly, “I told you that I was very proud of my Little Miss Parker.”

She was crying and smiling at the same time. 

For Jarod, that was something new about her past. He suddenly realized he would love discovering all these little things, once they started living together.

“In my life, I always had two constants. The first one was a naïve kid that wetted his pants whenever we ended up in a Centre corridor we hadn’t explored before.”

“Hey!” Jarod complained, faking disappointment. 

Parker ignored him, she could make fun of him later.

“You were my second rock. Remember what I told you the day you found Dr. Krieg?” Sydney nodded. “I really felt like that.”

Sydney shook his head slowly, still not convinced.

“Please, don’t leave me now that I need you the most. Jacob would have done the same thing to save the kids. He died because he wanted to subvert the order of The Centre; he wanted to unveil the truth behind the lies. Please, don’t let his sacrifice go to waste.”

Sydney didn’t know what to say, at that moment. 

For years, he’d hoped to hear such words from Miss Parker.

He also thought fleetly of Michelle and Nicholas. Now that they were finally free from The Centre, they could spend time together as a family. 

Who was he to deny them this happiness? 

Parker was right: Jacob would have done the same thing. 

The psychiatrist sighed and smiled, leaning to hug Miss Parker, who couldn’t help but crying silently. Enveloped in his chest. 

Zane was really touched, but she tried not to show. She was finally beginning to understand the twisted, intimate relationship that these three people had. 

“So, I must assume that we have a deal?” she asked.

Sydney nodded, ruefully. But he’d made up his mind. 

He approached the bed, looking at his enfant prodige and the boy who would probably call him grandpa, from then on. 

Jarod took his mentor’s hand and squeezed it, making him realize how glad his was that he had made the right decision.

End Notes:

...And I hope you're going to tell me, if you still like the story! :)

Chapter 23: The Weak and Abused's Reunion by missparker87
Author's Notes:

I didn't know how I would end this fiction, while I was writing it. 

But I did know one thing: Jarod’s altruism saved many lives during his journey. So I thought, maybe those who have been lucky enough to meet him on the road would come to his side, should he need help.

And that's where this chapter comes from.

Ethan and Jesse were waiting impatiently outside the hospital. 

It was a sunny warm day. A gentle breeze was blowing and many people walked across the yard to accompany the patients for a walk out in the air. 

Broots suddenly appeared, almost running towards them.

He had just come back from a long examination at the NSA; Zane and her agents had trained him properly to build an alibi that would justify his years at The Centre. Zane had also given him the good news that a job was already waiting for him in Washington, and this time he would work for the good guys. He was also thrilled by the fact he would earn more money than at The Centre. 

Debbie had been excited to know that they would live in D.C., even if this would mean leaving a pregnant Miss Parker. 

The girl was still very fond of her; she saw her like an Aunt on whom she could always count. Parker had promised Debbie that they would see each other at least once a month so that they could still have their own women’s day to which, soon, they would be joined by Clio.  

“They’re not here, yet?” Broots asked Ethan, interrupting his conversation with Jesse.

“They should be here any minute. Zoe promised they would get here together.”

“I hope so, it would be hard to find them all.”

“Relax, Zoe knows what she’s doing. She’s a force of nature.” Jesse explained.

At that moment, the hospital parking lot was invaded by a motorcade.

The cars drivers parked the cars in order, one next to the other.

The first of the parade was clearly Zoe’s red convertible. 

The woman jumped out of the driver seat like a cat, then she ran towards Ethan and Jesse, hugging them both with joy.

“I’m so happy to see you again, guys!” she exclaimed, excited.

“Is everybody here?”

Zoe nodded in satisfaction, “All the ones we called that could make it in time. We should look for half of the United States, if we really wanted every person helped by Jarod to get here.”

Broots smiled at the woman’s statement. He had never had anything to do with Zoe, but he immediately realized how charming and funny she was; now he understood why Jarod had fancied her in the past.

Miss Parker joined the group right then, without noticing Zoe’s presence. Behind her, Angelo was following his friend like a trustful puppy.

“Ethan, Jarod wanted to see you for – what’s going on here?” her expression changed as soon as she noticed the reddish curly hair in front of her. 

Parker, obviously, knew Zoe. 

She had looked at her file pictures for hours, back at The Centre. Sometimes she even dreamed of her, even if she would never admit it.

Broots grinned, sensing trouble. That was a scene he didn’t want to miss.

“You must be Miss Parker.” Zoe greeted her, smiling with bitterness at her direction. 

“My reputation precedes me.” Parker challenged her, ignoring Zoe’s stretched hand, which was soon retracted.

Zoe smirked, noticing her style. She knew that this situation was embarrassing for them both, “Well, no small talk. Where is Jarod? Don’t tell me the couch potato is still in bed!”

Ethan and Jesse sniggered, Broots’s mouth was wide opened in shock. He couldn’t figure how Zoe would save herself from such impudence.

Parker might as well have fulminated her, “Because of his wound, he was in a coma for many hours and he almost had to put an end to his pretender career. The doctors decided to hospitalize him for a couple of days, you might forgive their caution.”

Zoe smiled through clenched teeth, realizing that Miss Parker was a bitch. 

They would probably always hate each other, there couldn’t be any other kind of relationship between two strong women who had shared the same man.

A stranger’s voice softened the tension. It was a voice that none of them ever heard in person, but to Jarod had always meant bad luck. 

In more than one occasion.

“Hey!” Argyle yelled, approaching the group with his father Benny. 

“Argyle, am I right?” Miss Parker asked him.

“You betcha, Ma’am!” he answered, grabbing her hand and kissing its back. Parker retracted it in disgust.

“Touch me again, and that’s the last thing you do.” she hissed back at him with a deadly smile on her lips.

With her surprise, Argyle and Benny burst into laughter, “You must be Miss Parker.” the older man recognized.

“Enchanted.” she answered, ironically.

“Jarod told us about you, and you’re just like he said: charming, biting, lethal.”

Parker grinned, she thought later she would talk about this with Jarod. 

On the other hand, Zoe felt a pang in her heart when she realized how much Jarod cared for Miss Parker, if he spoke to his friends about her.

“Hey, Miss Parker, remember me?” another voice said. This time it was the voice of a man she had met in the past. Bernie Baxley, who hadn’t broken the habit of going around dressed up like Elvis even when he wasn’t working, was walking towards her. He looked fine, he had even lost some weight since the last time Miss Parker had seen him, a few years before.

“I see still have the bad habit of gallivanting around dressed up like a buffoon.” Parker mocked him, even if this time she was sharing a smile with Baxley, who had been a part of Jarod’s life for long.

“Your usual kindness catches me off guard, Miss Parker.” he answered, smiling charmingly at her.

Noticing that many other persons were arriving, Parker questioningly stared at Broots and Ethan.

“Anybody care to explain what the hell is going on here? What’s this, the losers club reunion?”

Broots muttered, “When we noticed that Jarod wasn’t waking up, Ethan and I thought that maybe it would be time for – for his people to take care of him.”

Parker opened her mouth wide, then Ethan talked on, “We used The Centre database to find the names of the persons that Jarod helped in the last few years- We called almost everyone, we wanted them to come and offer their support.”

“Zoe helped us finding them, Miss Parker.” Jesse concluded.

Parker, who really wanted to retort something, changed her mind and closed her mouth. A second later she opened it again just to admit, “Great idea, boys. This is going to be huge.”

Zoe smiled to herself, noticing that it was true that the infamous Ice Queen Miss Parker melted down whenever it came to her Jarod. 

“Hello, Miss Parker.” Anna, the woman who had pretended to be helping Mr. Lee while she was actually double-crossing him, greeted her. 

Next to her, she saw J.R. and his mother, Marilyin. Parker was particularly fond of that kid; she had been really impressed when she had discovered that Jarod had donated Kyle’s heart to save the boy’s life. She held him, realizing how much he had grown.

“Angelo!” the voice of a boy running beside his parents shouted. It belonged to Davey Simpkins’s, who had never forgotten what Angelo had done for him. The empath was so shocked of seeing Davey hugging him that, for a moment, he sensed Timmy inside of himself. 

 


 

Parker was touched as never before in her life. 

All these people were here for Jarod. 

They weren’t statistics, they weren’t witnesses to be interrogated to find out how Jarod had helped them. 

They were real, they had come to pay their respects to the man who had made save them, in any possible way.

The group of people in the yard was getting bigger and bigger, so Miss Parker decided to go and get Jarod. She wondered if the doctors would allow him to exit.

Catherine and Margaret were in the room with him along with Sydney, probably sharing memories of Jarod’s past, seeing that they were all laughing. Phillip and Emily had left to fetch Mike Bodie, Jarod’s Indian friend who year before had talked with Jarod about the Major’s past.

When she saw Jarod’s doctor in the corridor, Parker took the chance to ask him permission to take Jarod outside for a surprise. He agreed, knowing that fresh air could only improve Jarod’s condition; but he also recommended not to tire him out.

Parker entered the room with a huge smile on her face.

“There you are, sweetie.” Jarod greeted her.

Parker stopped, losing her smile at once, “Call me that again, I make a hole in your healthy lung.”

Sydney smiled, recognizing his protégées' verbal skirmishes.

“Are you up for a ride?” Parker asked, while an intrigued expression appeared on Jarod’s face.

 


 

Simone was talking with Shawn. Next to them were Pat, who had become the girl’s legal guardian after Jarod had saved her in Bahia Grande, and Scotty, Shawn’s father, the ex-convict that Jarod had helped getting rid of the robber Nick Avani. The two kids were telling each other about their lives, getting along very well.

Along with them were also Nicky Parks, the kid Jarod had saved so that he could witness in the case of homicide of a DEA agent, and his mother Carla, who was quietly talking with Emma Barrett and Kim Chen, two women that, as much as her son, had deposed against hideous crimes committed against their beloved ones. Kim Chen had no more sight problems after bringing to justice Col. Chen Thon, and Emma Barrett had found peace for her son’s death as soon as she had reached the witness stand.   

Broots couldn’t help but looking at this heterogeneous group of people, getting more and more numerous by the minute. They were coming from everywhere; the technician knew them by sight, every time Jarod had left one of his red notebooks, he had studied their cases. So he wasn’t surprised to see Deborah Clark and her son popping up; she had lost her husband because of two students who had wanted to perpetuate the perfect murder.

With them, the Bracken, father and daughter, who had rebuilt their relationship after the girl had been involved with the creek of Hawk, a so-pretended-telepath who had almost killed her because she had discovered his tricks. 

And again, the photographer Rachel Newton, blinded by a bomber attack; Jarod had helped her remembering the culprit’s identity.

Billie Dupree and her uncle Earl were chatting amiably with Jenna McGann and her daughter Cassie. The wonderful Billie was telling about Jarod’s achievements in playing pool and how fast he had become a pro. 

Argyle interrupted, pointing out that he had taught Jarod playing golf in just one afternoon. 

Jenna, the agent that had worked undercover as Roland Pritchard’s fiancé, chuckled with her daughter, both entertained by Argyle’s silly jokes.

Angelo was communicating with Violet and Doctor Anne Sulvane; the young girl who had spent an entire life as a wild child, was now more accustomed to people. Anne had helped her learning to talk, close to her in every phase of her late education. Angelo understood Violet’s softness like no one else; her story was clearly a lot like his own.

Ethan was listening to Wendy Dawson and her children Rebecca and Ryan’s story; they had been helped by Jarod running away from her ex-husband. The children had believed Wendy dead for a very long time, before Jarod found them, and Ethan felt he shared the same background. 

Peter Hale was there with his son, too; he was another man who had made people believe he was dead. Jarod had helped him setting a trap for Craig Winston, allowing his family to reunite.

Two women were confiding each other their most intimate and unpronounceable secrets. They were Melissa Blass, the sex therapist who had been assaulted by her colleague Paul Arnett, and Jill Arnold, whom Jarod had helped recovering from a serious drug addiction to repay her for when her father had done the same for him, at The Centre.

Rachel was here, the former M2 secret agent whom Jarod had met by chance and helped to rejoin her kidnapped children. 

Jarod had chosen that incredible woman as an example for Miss Parker when he had asked her to trust her heart and don’t let the Centre take away her happiness. 

With her stood Neil Roberts, the radio WLNJ DJ who was still interested in unresolved mysteries, remarking the importance of people like “Middle Man” – the nickname Jarod had assumed when speaking with him at the radio – men who uncovered the powers to be.

 


 

They were all there, ready to greet Jarod with open arms.

“Really, would you mind tell me what’s going on or you want me to beg?” Jarod pleaded Miss Parker.

She was pushing the wheelchair and behind her followed Margaret, Sydney and Catherine. All three of them already knew about the boys’ big plan. 

Not far from them, Jeff – the doctor – and one of the nurses were looking at Jarod, monitoring that everything was fine.

“As much as I’d love to see you begging, boy wonder –” Parker replied, waiting for the automatic doors to open in front of them, “You won’t need to.”

Jarod stared in disbelief when he saw the huge crowd in the yard. 

These were the pretender’s people. His people. 

All smiling, just like Jarod remembered leaving them.

He gasped, excited and speechless.

His old-time friend Argyle was the first who approached him, “Well, Big-J, ‘t seems to me that this time we really left you speechless.”

“Argyle.” he whispered, shaking his hand.

Jarod looked at Jeff, imploring the doctor, “May I?”

Jeff nodded with a smile.

 


 

Parker approached her mother and Margaret, all secretly enjoying the greetings among Jarod and these people. He had words for everyone, he was eager to know how they were. 

Parker had to admit she’d never seen the pretender more satisfied.

For a while, Jarod forgot what he had been through the last few days. He forgot about the Centre, the Scrolls, his family, his mother. Even about Parker.

He felt the need to be alone with his friends, who had come a long way just to be by his side.

Parker didn’t want her mother to see her crying, but she knew better. 

Catherine smiled, holding her in a tender embrace, just like she did when she was younger. In her arms, she felt so safe, like she was her little girl again. 

“Your son is amazing, Margaret.” She told Jarod’s mother.

The woman nodded, her hands joined almost in a sign of prayer, “It’s so comforting to see how many people he helped, in spite of what he had to endured all his life. It looks like it’s almost worth it, if this is the result.”

Parker agreed with her. She kept wondering what would have been of these people, if Jarod hadn’t been there.

“It’s even more. Jarod is so generous, I can’t possibly fathom why I’m so lucky to have him in my life.”

Feeling his nape itching, almost if he knew that they were talking about him, Jarod turned around and glanced with affection at the women of his life. 

His recently-found-mother.

Catherine, the woman who had tried to save him and protected him when he was a boy. 

And last but not least, the woman who had stolen his heart many years before, when she had appeared in front of him like an angel on the other side of a glass. Parker smiled, nodded slowly to make him understand that he had all the time in the world.

 


 

Later, others who hadn’t failed to respond appeared in sight: Major Charles and Emily came back with Mike Bodie, who hugged Jarod like a brother. Behind them, other three important people were walking towards Miss Parker.

The first one was Harriet Tashman, Margaret’s old friend, who had helped Maggie and her husband when they needed refuge from The Centre. Harriet ran to hold Maggie and they stood like that for a long time, making up for the lost time.

Father Moore walked towards Catherine shocked at the realization that his faithful friend was still very much alive. 

Finally, Ben Miller. He stood in front of Catherine and Miss Parker with a sincere, trying to keep emotion at bay. 

Catherine felt speechless, when she saw him.

“Ben.” she whispered.

Parker observed the scene in awe, wondering if her mother still loved the man that had allowed her to escape from The Centre, even if only for a little while.

“Cat.” he said, lifting a hand to caress her face. The way Catherine closed her eyes at that contact would remind everybody of one of her daughter’s typical mannerisms. 

Now that he could watch them together, Ben realized how they truly look alike. “There are so many things to say –”

“Shh, we have time.” Ben interrupted her, holding Catherine in his arms.

Parker couldn’t believe this. 

This wasn’t a dream; this wasn’t a pretend. 

For the first time in her life, everything she’d ever hoped for was actually happening. When Sydney squeezed her shoulder in sign of affection, she simply smiled at him.

 


 

Half an hour later, Miss Parker noticed that Jarod was chatting with Zoe, so she walked slowly towards them, her legs guided more by instinct than by reason, at that moment.

They were clearly talking nonsense and laughing about it, they seemed very in tune with each another.

“You helped my brothers to plan all of this. You really are incredible, Zoe.”

“Thank you, Jarod. This was the least I could do to repay you.” she replied, realizing by the minute how much she would love to be still his. 

However, she couldn’t detect any more passion for her in Jarod’s eyes. His expression betrayed the strong affection he still felt for her, maybe Zoe meant to him more than all these other people, but still, it wasn’t that kind of love. 

The heat between them had now completely worn off. 

And all because of a brunette with breathtaking legs who was standing not far from them. Clearly eavesdropping, Zoe thought.

Zoe made a nod at her rival’s direction, “So, that is Miss Parker.”

Jarod turned around and glanced at her, sighing. For the first time during that day, he noticed how beautiful Parker was. 

The short dress she was wearing allowed anyone to have a glimpse on every detail of her legs, even more uplifted by the stilettos that so many times had echoed behind Jarod while she was chasing him.

“Yes, that’s my Parker.” Jarod answered, looking at Zoe. 

Zoe tried not show how annoyed she was for the fact that Jarod addressed his former huntress as belonging to him.

“You found what you were looking for, then?”

Jarod smiled, guessing he owed her an explanation, “I’ve spent years running from her, trying to discover who I really was. I hadn’t realized that it was just a way to deny that I already knew who I was, I simply couldn’t admit it.”

Zoe intercepted Miss Parker’s eyes.

“That’s why I could never detach myself completely; deep inside, I’ve always known that we were destined –” Jarod stopped, sighing again.

“ – to end up together?” Zoe finished his sentence.

Jarod nodded. 

Parker approached them at that moment, standing behind Jarod but trying not to noticed by him. Jarod felt her presence anyway, and pretended not to.

“We are both the twisted result of a place that ruined our lives. But at least one good thing happened to me while I was at The Centre.” 

“What?” Zoe asked, aware that Miss Parker was waiting for an answer too.

Jarod made a sweet smile, “I met her.” he concluded, with a dreaming look.

Zoe nodded, smiling in turn. 

Jarod and Miss Parker were meant for each other; she couldn’t get in the way of such an important bond.

Parker reached out to the pretender and kissed his cheek, inducing a slight blush on his face. She enjoyed his expression of pure love for her for a couple of seconds, then she walked away, leaving him alone with his friends again.

Jarod smiled in satisfaction.

End Notes:

Review would be very much appreciated! :)

Chapter 24: No More Missing Pieces by missparker87
Author's Notes:

It's almost over. But not yet.

Time to clear things up.

When the last guest left, the doctor accompanied Jarod to his room with his relatives in tow. Parker, Ethan, and Catherine took advantage of that moment of calm to clear things up.

For Miss Parker, one question needed an answer more than any other.

“Mom.” Parker whispered, enjoying the cool breeze in her hair. “Ethan and I had time to talk about it and we – we noticed that we don’t hear the voices anymore.”

Catherine smiled, “I’m not surprised.”

“Do you – do you still have the gift? You can still hear them?” Ethan asked.

Catherine waited a moment before answering, almost dryly but tenderly, “Yes.”

“Why we can’t?” Parker demanded, she was already missing her inner sense.

“It’s just an assumption, but I believe that since you fulfilled your destiny your inner sense have no reason to exist anymore. Especially after we met.”

“It was your voice we heard inside us.” Ethan stated.

Catherine nodded with a smile, “As a matter of fact, I’ve tried to guide you as much as I could, all these years. I tried to communicate with you, even if sometimes it was impossible. Now you don’t need my voice in your head because I’m here with you, again.”

Parker smiled in affection, “Yes.” she took her hand and kissed it. “You came back.”

Catherine nodded, getting emotional for the love her children were demonstrating her. She felt she didn’t deserve it. 

Catherine cried silently.

“There are so many things to say, still.” Parker gasped, this time with some resent in her voice.

“I know, Sweetie.” her mother replied. “You’ve got at least a million questions, and I’ll answer, even to Jarod’s ones. We’ve got all the time in the world now that the Centre is not a threat anymore.”

Miss Parker nodded, glad that her mother understood her urge to know the truth, once and for all.

Ethan, instead, seemed a bit upset. The voices had been a part of him for many years, and now, suddenly, he had found out he would live without them. 

Would he feel alone?

Almost as if she was reading his mind, Parker said, “We’re sticking together from now on. We take care of a few things and then we find a nice place to settle. Nobody will get in our way, ever. Promise?” she asked, this time addressing herself to both.

“Deal.” Catherine answered.

“Deal.” Ethan concluded, hugging his sister.


So much was said in the next couple of hours.

Catherine told them about their births, how Mr. Parker had decided to inseminate her with Raines’s semen. She revealed her feelings when she had discovered that Raines was her brother-in-law – and she’d never known. 

She explained how difficult it had been for her to leave Ethan at Raines’s mercy, knowing that he would exploit him just as the Centre was doing with Jarod.

She told them why she’d never tried to contact them all those years.

During the conversation, there were hard moments. Like Parker acknowledging that her mother abandoned them to a terrible destiny without even trying to get back and save them. Catherine asked for their forgiveness, she wanted her daughter to understand that faking her death had been the right thing to do to protect not only her children, but Jarod and Angelo, too.

Catherine told them about the struggles of being on the run; at first, hiding on her own, and then with Margaret. 

The two women had traveled a lot, they had been to Africa, they had landed many times on Carthis, too. Margaret had decided to go on the island on her own just a few days before Parker and Jarod did.

Catherine clarified that only after Jarod’s escape they had decided it was time to move. It had taken them almost seven years, but they had eventually paved a secret path to help Miss Parker, Jarod, and Ethan make a plan to destroy the Centre. Catherine always kept an eye on Ethan and Parker’s life, just like Margaret followed Jarod’s pretends, even if she knew she couldn’t get in touch to protect him from the Centre.

One day, Ethan popped up like a magician, guided by his inner sense to find them in a flat on the outskirts of New York. He had escorted the two friends to Major Charles’s, so that his father could hide them while Jarod and Parker’s plan to destroy The Centre began. 

Glad of being finally reunited with their family, Margaret had begged the Major, Emily and Jesse not to tell anything to Jarod.      

Catherine almost passed out when she met Jesse, witnessing the madness behind Project Gemini. She had felt like travelling back in time when an adolescent Jarod sat by her side. But talking with Jesse had made her realize that he was different from Jarod in so many ways. He was his own person.

More sociable, more peaceful, mostly because he had been freed from The Centre much sooner than the pretender. 

And yet, he shared the same cleverness, the same ironic sparkle and, of course, the same voice that belonged to her little Jarod.

Parker didn’t blame Catherine, Margaret and Ethan for not telling her the truth. She understood the women’s motives. 

And yet, she couldn’t help but feeling left out; she would have deserved more trust from her mother. The same trust she was struggling to accord her, now.

“You’ll learn to trust me again, eventually, Charlotte.”

Parker grimaced when she heard her name, “Mom, nobody had called me by name since you disappeared. Ever. To everybody I’ve always been Miss Parker.”

The woman nodded, “I know. But to me, you’ll always be my little Charlotte. The daughter I abandoned even if I never wanted to. You hate me for that?”

Parker sighed. It wasn’t easy to leave it all behind.

Now that she had time to ponder about this, her pride was surfacing from the inside.

“I don’t hate you, Mom. I love you with all my heart. But it’ll take some time before I can trust you again. I hope you understand.”

“I deserve this, sweetie. Your love has always kept me going. It will always be enough.”


Parker had left her mother and brother with a kiss to get back inside the hospital. 

In the corridor outside Jarod’s room, Broots and Debbie were chatting with Angelo and Zoe, the only outsider who was still there. 

Parker couldn’t believe the incredible progress made by Angelo since getting out of The Centre. He seemed able to socialize more with people, he could also exchange more senseless sentences than before.

And once again, Michael had fallen asleep in his arms. Angelo seemed to be the perfect babysitter for her son.

She stopped in front of the little group and all of them went quiet when they noticed her serious expression.

“Broots, would you do me a big favor and take Angelo and Michael back at my place? I’m going to reach you in a while.”

Realizing that Parker trusted Angelo enough to leave him alone with Michael, Broots smiled for how much things had changed.

Miss Parker was the same in her looks and in her sarcastic remarks, but she was finally conceding to her emotional side, too. She really had a heart.

“Of course, Miss Parker. Let’s go Debbie, it’s been a very long day.”

Zoe knew that this woman had something to tell her, so she stood back, ready to challenge her.

Miss Parker began, “Nobody would ever expect us to get along. And you ain’t no woman I’d make a Thelma-and-Louise trip on the road with.”

Zoe smirked.

Miss Parker was good with words and boy, she went straight to the point.

“You’re everything I never was. You’re enticing, you are fun, and you really care for people around you. You were there for him when I couldn’t.”

“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?” Zoe corrected her.

It was Parker’s turn to smirk, “Touché.”

Zoe smiled in return, glad for causing such reaction in her opponent.

“I know it would mean the world to Jarod –” Parker sighed, it was so difficult to say these words “- If we could be civil. He loves you, he won’t exclude you from his life.”

“Maybe it’s weird” Zoe nodded. “But I agree.”

Then she stretched her hand, looking for a handshake to seal the deal with this strong, confident woman. Parker, reluctantly, conceded.

Zoe walked away, but Parker stopped her, “Zoe.”

The red-headed turned around while Parker did the same thing. 

The former Centre operative approached Zoe, walking until her face was only a few inches from the other woman’s. 

Her quintessential intimidating tone made Zoe shiver when Miss Parker threatened, “Try get in the way between us, and I kill you.”

Zoe waited a few seconds, then she grimaced, “See ya, Miss Parker.”

Parker stared at her leaving the hospital with contentment.


Margaret, Major Charles and Sydney were still in Jarod’s room. When the pretender saw Miss Parker, his face lit up. 

They’d been parted for only a few hours, but he’d missed her. This complete dependency scared Jarod at times. On the run, he had gotten used not to depend on anyone, to live in complete loneliness. And yet that day, when all those people had surrounded him with love and affection, he had realized that it felt good to be able to count on someone.

And sure, Parker was still threatening as a sharp blade, but Jarod had always known that he could trust her. Even in the darkest hour, when she was his hunter. There was always a weird connection between them, a bond that Jarod had never been able to cut. 

He wouldn’t want it any other way. 

“Miss Parker! Jarod was telling us about the bank in Dover,” Phillip explained her.

“Remember how we wreck them?” Jarod asked.

We?” Parker grimaced, in fake disbelief, “If it wasn’t for me, Jarod would be still there, trying to negotiate with them.”

Everybody laughed and Jarod thought that, for how sharp they were, her remarks always made his life better.

Parker amused him, even if he would never laugh openly to her jokes. She made him laugh inside, she enlightened his dark soul. She always was, since when they were kids and she invented nicknames for Mr. Raines.

“Well, it’s late, we’re leaving now, son.” Margaret kissed her boy goodbye and exited the room with Major Charles.

“Bye, big bro.” Emily hugged Jarod before following her parents outside.

 

It was only the three of them. 

Alone, again.

Everything had begun with them, and everything would end with them.

“What did Zane tell you?” Jarod demanded, glad that he could finally speak freely.

“Everything’s ready.” Sydney replied. “Tomorrow, I’ll be dead.”

Jarod nodded in silence and Parker squeezed her putative father’s hand, trying to show her affection.

“I’d like Angelo to settle in with me.” she said “At least until we figure out what our lives are going to be.”

Sydney nodded. He had decided to move in with Michelle and Nicholas, and even if the idea of departing from Angelo hurt him, the psychiatrist knew that there wasn’t place for him in their lives, at that moment.

“He’s a good babysitter.” Parker talked on, trying to lift Sydney’s mood.

“I don’t want to leave you.” he confessed, to both his children.

Jarod and the woman exchanged a look, they didn’t need words to express their feelings.

“How can I go on without you?” Sydney asked, squeezing Miss Parker’s hand more tightly. He had been with her everyday, for years, and now he didn’t know how to say goodbye.

“We can meet every day, if you want to.” She proposed.

“And I’m going to call you every night to annoy you. I don’t have my favorite huntress to torment anymore, but I couldn’t cope without my mentor’s advice!” Jarod reinforced the message.

Sydney nodded, a tear streaming down his face.

“Angelo might need me.”

“We’ll take care of him, Sydney. Everything’s going to be fine.” Parker held him, she’d never seen him so vulnerable, not even when she had shot him by mistake in that basement.

Jarod decided that was the right moment to reveal a few things to the people he loved the most.

“Sydney, I’ve spoken with Michelle. She agreed to move down here with Nicholas. He already found a job in New Haven, and I already purchased a home that would suit you all.”

“New Haven?” Sydney asked, with curiosity.

Parker was stunned by that revelation, too. Jarod didn’t want to live in Jacksonville, then?

“I’m not going to accept Zane’s offer. I want to enjoy my family, my children, my life. I guess I just need it, after so many years of unfinished business.”

“You won’t go to Washington?” Parker asked, her heart beating faster.

“No, Parker. Ben told me that he wants to ask Catherine to live with him in Maine, and Ethan would love to spend some time with his mother. He’d be glad if you were there, as well.”

Parker shook her head.

“Parker” Jarod interrupted her train of thoughts. “You need to be with your mother, now. You must make up for lost time.”

“So, why don’t you settle in Jacksonville, with your parents? I can already picture this, Oh, hello Mom, I’m Clio, where is daddy? Sorry love, he lives a thousand miles from here!

Sydney smiled for the first time since a few minutes, Jarod sighed in exasperation.

“Parker, let me fin – ”

“No! Do you realize that in eight months I’m going to pop out your daughter, and I’m gonna need you more than ever? How can you possibly even think of leaving me alone in such a moment?” she yelled.

“Parker, let me –”

“Save your half apologies, I’m not leaving you, ok? Not even if –”

“Charlotte!”

When she heard her name, she almost shivered. 

If they had been alone, she would have probably jumped on the bed, biting every inch of Jarod’s skin.

“I’m coming with you, too.”

Parker opened her mouth in astonishment, “But…you just said –”

“No, you said!” Jarod scoffed in amusement, “Have you ever noticed, Sydney, that she never let you finish a sentence?”

“Yes, I noticed once or twice.” he replied, smiling.

Jarod raised his hand to put a lock of Parke’s hair behind her ear. She looked almost…emabarassed?!

“Sydney, would you mind leave us for a few minutes?” Jarod asked.

The old man nodded and exited the room using with his crutches.

 

“I hate it when you deliberately embarrass me, Jarod.” Miss Parker confessed, visibly annoyed.

“No, you don’t.” he replied, dragging her towards him. “This was our twisted game for years, our relationship was always a tit for tat, we looked like an old married couple, constantly fighting.”

Parker giggled, “You’ve no idea how many of those conversations Sydney and Broots overheard. They probably cursed the speakerphone for years.”

Jarod laughed, “That was just - skirmishes between lovers. Like when we got stuck in the Keys.”

“Mmm, I don’t remember.” she teased him.

Jarod sat in his bed and bended to meet her face, keeping the same dangerous distance of that night, after he had tied her up.

“You know, what I’ve always wondered?” he asked.

“Uhm?” she asked, wistful. 

“I was a coward, that night. I reminded you of our first kiss instead of kissing you.”

Parker just smirked and stared at him.

“What would you have done? If had kissed you, I mean.”

“Well, at first I would have bang heads with you.” she replied, making him laugh. “Then…”

Parker reached out and kissed him passionately, then she bit his inferior lip, pushing him back. She licked her lips, tasting Jarod’s blood.

Jarod gasped, “Message received. No more mind games.”

“You’d better, boy wonder.”

“Back to business. I spoke with my parents and they’re ready to move to Maine. They’d be close enough to visit often. And Jesse needs me. And even if you wouldn’t believe it, I think you should be a part of his life, too. You’re one of the few people he totally trusts.”

“Ah, what have I ever done to both of you, Jarod!” she mocked him, ironically.

“I admit you have a certain influence on us both.” Then he got serious again. “When Clio is born we can get back to New Haven. I’ve bought that house hoping that one day we would live there, together. It’s huge, Angelo will have his own space and our children will grow up in a safe place, surrounded by trees. And they will be close to our families.”

“You had the time to think about this, uh?”

“Broots will be in Washington, close enough to take a flight and visit with Debbie. Sydney will be there, too. You saw how much he still needs you.”

“He needs you.” she added, more and more convinced that Sydney would be incomplete, without Jarod, who nodded in agreement.

“And about us…well, I want to make up for every second I wasted pretending to be running from you.”

Parker took the chance to clarify a couple of things, “Even the time you spent in Zoe’s company?”

“Parker.” Jarod almost reproached her.

“Tell me the truth, you had more fun with her.” she challenged him, a bit hurt by that thought.

Jarod let her talk herself, he already knew what to say to have the last word.

“I suppose that in your estate plan there’s a place for Zoe, too!” while saying so, she didn’t even notice Jarod caressing her belly lovingly, completely ignoring her while he realized he couldn’t wait to meet their daughter. 

God, he wanted her to be as beautiful and as deliciously arrogant as her mother.

“You’re jealous.” he said, shortly.

Parker gave him a nasty look, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Jarod dragged her to him and kissed her again, afraid that she would bite him again to get revenge for his remark.

When they finally parted, breathing on each other’s face, he repeated, “You’re jealous.”

“You'd like that, wouldn't you?” but her tone betrayed the fact that she had been caught red-handed.

“Admit it, and I’ll tell you where I hid that time we played hide and seek at The Centre and you couldn’t find me for two hours.”

Parker stared at him in astonishment, too curious to let this go. 

She had always wondered how Jarod had managed to disappear for such a long time; she had looked for him everywhere. Then, he had suddenly appeared to home base and won that match. This always happened when they played hide and seek.

“Where?” she questioned.

“In your father’s office.” he replied, with the satisfied smirk that always make women fall at his feet.

“No way!”

“I swear. If I think about it now, I was really incautious, but the adrenaline of that day lasted for a while!”

Parker chuckled and decided that Jarod deserved his prize. “Ok, Pez-Head, I was jealous. Tell me who wouldn’t be. I’m in love with a genius whose IQ is far above the average, who’s charming, amusing, generous, passionate, and – incredibly sexy.”

“Were you talking about someone?” he smirked again.

“God, that thing is going to kill me one day.” she concluded, jumping on the bed next to him and lying down, rocked in his tender hold. 

“Parker, there’s one last thing I need to ask you, and then I promise we won’t talk about it anymore.”

She nodded, noticing his sudden seriousness.

“Are you happy with me? I mean…” he paused, in apprehension, “happy as you were with Thomas?”

Parker was taken by surprise. Why was he coming up with such a ridiculous question, now? 

Parker had thought about this many times. How her life would have been, if Thomas hadn’t been killed. If they had managed to leave. If they had gotten married.

But that was just a list of endless “ifs”. 

Thomas was a good man, they would have been happy together, sure. 

However, Tommy was even tremendously honest and maybe, one day, he would have told Miss Parker that he actually knew Jarod. 

Parker answered the pretender’s request with another question.

“What do you think my reaction would have been, had I found out that you knew Tommy? That you’d been the one who allowed me to meet him?”

“At that time, I did because – ” 

“Because you love me.” she interrupted him, cutting him short.

Jarod sighed.

“You always had. You wanted me to be happy, and if I couldn’t be happy with you, then I might as well have been with a wonderful man like Tommy. And believe me, I loved him very much, Jarod. I wanted to try and give him all myself.”

“I told you once, if you had moved to Oregon, I would have disappeared from your life. I was the one pushing you to give him a chance, remember?”

Parker smiled, “You told me not to let them take away my happiness.” 

Still one of the most beautiful things he ever told her.

“And later, when you didn’t want to leave with him, I encouraged you to go, I pleaded you to go.”

“And I said, You'd like that wouldn't you?” she chuckled.

Jarod ignored her, “I really meant it, Parker. I wanted you safe and happy, with Tommy.” 

“I know, Jarod. But answer me, now. What do you think I would have done if one day, by chance, Tommy had told me the truth about your friendship?”

Jarod didn’t know what to say; he also didn’t know what to expect from Parker.

“You think I would have said, 'Oh, that’s great, so you and Jarod knew each other; Tommy, you know that we used to play doctor together, when we were kids at The Centre?'”

Jarod sighed in exasperation.

“I would have hated both of you for manipulating me, just like my father, Lyle and Raines. I would have thought that our relationship was just your mis-en-scene, a way to control me and keep me away so that I wouldn’t chase you anymore.”

“It wasn’t like that!” Jarod complained.

Parker patted him, “Shut up, let me finish! Then I would have come back to Delaware. You would have appeared out of nowhere; you would have called to confess everything, like you did one year after Tommy’s death. That you lit the torch. I would have realized, in any case.”

“Realize what, exactly?” he wasn’t following her.

“That you really cared for me. That you wanted my happiness, that you loved me, even if we didn’t want to say it out loud.”

“I wasn’t that explicit when I called you that day. You were upset, you were thinking just about Tommy, certainly not about what I felt for you!” he responded, a bit offended.

“Jarod, he’d been dead for a year! You know what anniversaries do to me, are you blaming me for that?”

“Of course not, Parker. I was the one who helped you discovering who murdered him.”

“Yes, you were, and I’ve never appreciated you more. I must have realized that I was still in love you, back then. I didn’t want to run the risk of ending up not telling you, at least once.”

Jarod sensed she was over, but he said, “You didn’t answer my question.”

Parker knew she couldn’t lie to Jarod. She couldn’t cheat, with him.

He wanted a real answer.

“I would have been happy with Tommy, yes. But sooner or later I would have realized that it was just a fallback. Running from my past, far from the man I was truly in love with. Tommy was smart, he would have understood, too. Maybe I would have hurt him, had I left him to go back chasing you.”

“You think so?”

Parker nodded, “I’m so happy with you, Jarod. We’ll be happy together. And we’ll be free, finally.”

Jarod smiled and kissed her forehead.

“And what about you, Jar? Are you happy now?”

“I once asked Sydney if I would ever feel whole. I’m the happiest man in the world, now that the last missing piece of the puzzle went to its place.”

Parker smiled to herself, sensing what was coming next.

“You are that last piece.”

They didn’t talk more. 

They lied down, wrapped with each other, until they both fell asleep. 

They didn’t need anything else, that day.

That day, they had everything one might want from life.

End Notes:

Reviews for the last chapters would be appreciated :)

Chapter 25: Arrangements and Names by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Not far from the end. I promise.

After Jarod’s full recovery, they followed his plan. They spent nine months with Catherine and Ben, supported by Ethan and Angelo’s closeness.

During Parker’s pregnancy, Jarod satisfied every wish, every tiniest whim that Miss Parker manifested. Needless to say, she clearly took advantage of his unconditioned submission, especially after the doctors evaluated her pregnancy as high-risk and obliged Parker to spend the last three months before Clio’s birth in total rest.

Jarod and Ethan went the extra mile to help her. Sometimes they were also yelled at with sharp retorts, or hit by objects she threw at them, mostly when Parker’s hormones turned her in an evil witch.

Nonetheless, those nine months were the happiest of their lives. Catherine, Margaret, and Sydney competed for making presents to the couple and the to-be-born-baby. Moreover, the two parents were having the time of their lives with Michael, who immediately became his mama and papa’s boy. 

Pampered by everyone, the kid had forged a special bond with Angelo, who had become his playfellow since the moving. They enjoyed each other’s presence: Angelo got more and more sociable and his extreme empathy attacks had almost disappeared; Michael learned how to feel the others’ emotions at a higher level.

It didn’t take long to Parker and Jarod to find out how smart Michael was. He had inherited a maniacal curiosity for what surrounded him from his father. And he had also been gifted with his mother’s inner sense, which allowed him to feel the world around him.

Jarod and Parker spent almost every moment with Michael, they wanted to create a special connection with him, mostly to make him forget the fact that they hadn’t been together in the first few years of his younger life – for obvious reasons. Michael felt loved and safe, and by now he remembered almost nothing about his life at The Centre.

As for Parker and Jarod, they still had difficulties at sleeping at night. 

In the middle of the night, when the pretender woke up sweating and shouting for the nightmares that afflicted him, Parker was the one who reassured him and hugged him tenderly until he got back to sleep.

Sometimes, instead, it was her turn to have bad dreams; her insomnia was typically caused by her father, her brother, Raines. At times like those, words were useless; Jarod held her, whispering soothing words in her ears, usually the ones he had said to her in another occasion.

Trust your heart Miss Parker. Don't let them take away your happiness.

And every time he said this, Parker’s weeping turned into tears of contentment. After a few months of cohabitation, she still wondered how she could have possibly lived without Jarod all those years. They’d wasted so much time running that now she almost feared that the life they were building was just a dream from which she would wake up.


Miss Parker’s relationship with Ben and Catherine had never been better. They told tales about the past, which got even richer in details when Maggie and Phillip came visiting. Jarod’s parents sometimes told them about the few years they had spent with Jarod and Kyle. Emily still suffered at the thought of her dead brother, but that emptiness was filled by Ethan and Jesse, to whom she felt more and more connected day after day.

It wasn’t easy for the former pretender to share the horrors of his past with his family. Jarod and Parker talked about as little as possible, but Jarod had sporadic shrink sessions with Sydney, who wanted to help him getting rid of the most terrible memories. In spite of the psychiatrist’s emotional involvement, Jarod felt better and his tortured soul began a healing process that would evidently take long.


After the experience with Lyle, Jesse was promised a job in her team by Agent Zane – as soon as he would reach the right age to take the tests. Zane felt like that she would have Jarod, in one way or another.

The boy felt enthusiastic at the idea, even if the Major and Maggie had admonished him to complete his studies, because his superior cleverness had to be assisted by general culture. Jarod agreed with his parents, who were very indulgent towards Jesse, but not about his education. They wanted him to enjoy a normal life, like every other kid. 

They didn’t need to worry, though, because Jesse blended in with people much better than Jarod, and when they all met for the monthly family reunion, he found himself spending more and more time with Debbie. Broots always checked on his daughter, he couldn’t believe she was charmed by Jarod’s clone, among all. That felt like another blow, because the two most important women of his life had both fell in love with Jarod. And yet, after spending time with Jesse, Broots couldn’t help but notice how amusing and carefree the kid was. He didn’t have Jarod’s mysterious-crazy-aura. And Broots was grateful, because Debbie was bonding with Jesse more and more each passing day.


Ethan had discovered a new peacefulness state of mind. Together with Ben and his mother, they used to take long walks, they talked about everything. He had found a job as social worker, he loved being helpful to boys in need, he understood them like no one else.

It didn’t take him long to find love, too. The day Ethan introduced Monica to his siblings, Miss Parker was at her eighth month of pregnancy. Maybe it was her former Ice Queen self, maybe her hormones, but she found herself shouting that Monica had to pass over her dead body to get out with her brother. But a second later, she had burst into tears, she had hugged the girl, saying that she was incredibly glad to have her as sister-in-law. 

Monica was terrified, she thought that Miss Parker was crazy, but Ethan had warned her about her mood swings. Jarod, on the other hand, introduced her to the family with joy. He knew that Ethan had told Monica the truth about his life and his origins, and he was happy that his little brother had found a person who understood and accepted him.


When the time came, the doctors decided for a caesarean section, advising Miss Parker against the natural childbirth. Even if she resisted the idea at the beginning, Jarod managed to convince her that a C-section was the best solution. That wouldn’t be a picnic, but at least she would avoid the majority of the risks.

Parker trusted Jarod’s opinion blindly, so she listened to his begs when he asked her to let the doctors operate her. She agreed, provided that he was in the OR during the operation. So, Jarod pretended for the first time after a whole year, taking the place of another surgeon a few days before Parker’s birth.

He didn’t want to be involved, he didn’t feel like it, but he kept his promise and stood in the OR during his daughter’s birth.

The operation wasn’t easy, there were moments of panic when a hemorrhage almost made the doctors perform a urgent hysterectomy. Fortunately, everything went fine, and both mother and daughter came out of the operation strong and healthy.

Jarod couldn’t believe Clio’s beauty. She had light blue eyes, just as Parker’s, and she also had her slightly arched nose. Her smile, though, was like his, and Jarod could mirror himself in his daughter’s funny faces. As soon as he hugged her, he fell in love with her unconditionally, just as it had happened to him when he had seen Miss Parker for the first time.


They chose Clio Faith Charles as her full name, in memory of Parker’s little adoptive sister who had meant so much to both of them.

When they asked Father Moore to baptize the baby at all the relatives’ presence, they took the opportunity to do the same with Michael. 

Their son was baptized as Michael Kyle Charles. 

By doing so, the siblings they had lost would always be remembered. This was their legacy.

Angelo was chosen as Michael’s godfather and Ethan was asked the same for Clio. They owed Ethan much of their happiness, and he would be the greatest advisor for Clio, should she manifest Catherine’s inner sense, one day.

End Notes:

Hope you're still enjoying this :)

 

Chapter 26: The Trial by missparker87
Author's Notes:

I'm pretty sure that Jarod would be pursued according to law, if they caught him.

He's like F. Abagnale Jr., even if Jarod is a 'good boy'. He commits fraud, but for good.

He's like a Robin Hood of our time.

This is the second to last chapter. And I love it, it's something quite unique in a pretender fiction. I think this "trial" idea is genuinely mine.

The first few months of Clio’s life were unfortunately marked by the beginning of the trial against The Centre. 

All the main culprits were dead, so the defense lawyer did everything in his power to blacken the Parkers name.

Zane’s plan to fake Sydney’s death had worked well. When Jacob’s remains were identified as the psychiatrist’s ones, Sydney was declared dead. 

During the trial, his name often popped up; he was accused and charged with every conceivable crime. Jarod begged Sydney to ignore newspapers and television until the end of the trial.

Many members of the Charles family were called to witness: Jesse, Margaret, Phillip, Ethan and, of course, Jarod. His deposition immediately became the highlight of the trial. The pretender had been in the court of public opinion since the fall of the Centre, seeing that he was considered the hero who had managed to take the place down.

Jarod’s testimony was divided into three different days. Parker had decided to leave Clio and Michael with Sydney and Angelo to turn up at the court with Ethan and Broots. The technician had basically sublet his house to the siblings during those crucial days of the trial.

Broots still remembered with guilt all the lies he had said during his deposition, though his situation had been ascertained. The jury evidently believed him when he confessed that he’d been an infiltrated agent of the NSA since Jarod’s escape. They accepted his version of the facts: his cooperation with Sydney, pretending to be looking for the fugitive while, in reality, he was working with Jarod to obtain evidence about The Centre – that could be true, on some level. 

 

When Jarod’s turn came, his family represented a large amount of the audience in the large courtroom and he felt stronger because of their presence. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to deal with the situation.

Standing accused at the defendant’s bench were Hasani and a few other members of the Tower, people that Jarod had never nothing to do with. He knew them hearsay, but the manipulation he’d been forced to endure in his life had been caused by others. 

The real defendants, the men of the Parker family, were all dead.

 

During the first two days, the prosecutor had asked Jarod to recognize the accused and the atrocities they were charged with. Jarod had told the whole story of The Centre, it had taken him an hour to explain the Court and the Jury what growing inside that place had meant to him.

Jarod had carefully refrained from mentioning Miss Parker, but he couldn’t avoid talking about Sydney, his trainer, the only person who had taken care of him even if his main goal was developing his potential.

Jarod had a hard time when the defense made him notice that his beloved mentor was also the one who had pushed him to perform simulations that had cost hundreds of people’s lives. Jarod had tried to keep his nerve; he didn’t want Sydney to be remembered as a crazy maniac who had exploited a little boy for profit. And yet, Jarod knew very well that this was the picture that would stick. 

Parker knew.

And so did Sydney. 

Zane had been right: faking his death had saved him from a life sentence.


After two days of emotional tales, that had often made the women of the Jury gasp, the defense had taken the floor.

The defense attorney, Adam Prentiss, was as old as Jarod. The former pretender had read about him, finding out that he was called the devil’s advocate, because he always handled the defense of the worst criminals knocking at his door. As soon as he introduced his first questions, Jarod realized his reputation was deserved.

“Jarod Charles. The national hero who freed the United States from a conspicuous stain on its record. The N.S.A. agents you worked with adore you, they are ready to do anything they can for you.”

“Objection, Your Honor, the defense judgment are intended to influence the jury?” the prosecutor screamed.

Jarod grinned when the judge answered, “Objection sustained, and I suggest you to ask questions without being involved with your assisted opinions, advocate.”

“Well, Your Honor, I’ll rephrase my question. Mr. Charles, is it right to assume that the opinion of the N.S.A. is misplaced for a man who pretended to be an agent to pursue his own personal vengeance?”

“Objection, Your Honor!”

“I don’t need that, I’ll answer the defense questions.” Jarod replied. “I can defend myself, advocate, thank you.” Jarod reassured the prosecutor.

“Yes, you can, because you’re a genius who can be anything he wanna be, even an advocate, uh?”

Jarod ignored Prentiss’s jab, “To answer your previous question, my position was already cleared with the NSA. I was contacted by Agent Zane as an undercover agent, she guaranteed for me. The men I’ve worked with are colleagues, they saw me in action, they helped me to find and stop a terrorist.” he explained, his thoughts on Alex, “Later, I’ve worked with Agent Zane, who helped me planning the blitz to The Centre archives net.”

“We already know, Mr. Charles. Your story is so fascinating that it may become a perfect subject for an action B-movie.”

A few chuckles were heard inside the courtroom, but Parker and Broots looked at each other, preoccupied. Jarod held Prentiss’s gaze nonchalantly.

“What I really would like to know is how you spent your time during the years on the run from The Centre.”

“I enjoyed every second. I discovered almost everything I’d lost during my imprisonment, starting from the bands of the 60s. Do you know I can tell you in which and how many songs of the Beatles you may find a random word chosen in the dictionary, and it doesn’t take me more than ten seconds! I’m afraid I cannot say the same for the Beach Boys because, alas, they aren’t comparable to the musical genius of the Fab Four.” 

The audience laughed for Jarod’s slyness. Parker smiled, she was remembering a very particular phone call during which Jarod had told her about his discovery of the Village People. That had been the first time he’d called her at home, she was particularly fond of that memory.


“What?”

“Oh, I intentionally wake you in your deepest sleep phase and all I get is a lifeless, What?!” Jarod asked her. 

Miss Parker couldn’t know that at that very moment Jarod was painting the portrait he would send her home a couple of days later.

“Oh. If you want wit, read Noel Coward.” she answered him, in the hope that Jarod wouldn’t understand that quotation. But she was wrong, the pretender knew the playwright, so he laughed at her joke, appreciating Parker’s sarcasm. 

He hadn’t spoken with her in years. And even if he hadn’t yet realized the importance she would have in his life later on, Jarod had missed her terribly. He still remembered the smiles he could steal from her when they were kids at The Centre. At that moment, he wondered if she remembered, too.

“What time is it where you are?” Parker questioned him.

Jarod thought she really was incredible, “Cute. Not funny, but cute.”

“You're making house calls now. I'm honored.” she commented, rising from under the sheets.

“Well, I was feeling a little guilty about my virtual phone game.” he explained, remembering the way he was deceiving Mr. Broots.

“You know, I should really tape this to replay at the Christmas party. You'll be there, you know. You can rest assured.”

“I'm not resting much at all these days.”

“Breaking my heart.”

Jarod didn’t like the indifference in her voice. He couldn’t interpret the woman’s behavior. He could almost see her, lighting her cigarette and saying, “So, Jarod, why the Y.M.C.A.?”

Jarod tasted his answer, he’d prepared it before, just in case that she’d asked him the right question.

“I was watching retro night on VH1. And they were doing the 70s, which as you know I missed. There was this singing group that was extolling the virtues of staying at the Y. So here – I – am.”

Parker giggled, trying not to make Jarod hear her through the phone. She hadn’t laughed for such a brilliant joke for a very long time.

“Cute, not funny, but cute.”


Back to her senses, parker stared in amusement at Jarod. She was sure he was thinking about the same conversation, and she was certain when he winked imperceptibly at her.

“The jury isn’t interested in your musical taste, Mr. Charles. As for how you spent your years of newfound freedom, how did you maintain yourself? How could you be traveling around the States without ever working? How did you make a living?”

Jarod knew exactly where Prentiss was going with this. He wanted to hear him admit that he’d been pretending for years, so that he could charge him with aggravated fraud. But he was too smart to confess something like that, and he’d always been very careful. There weren’t any pictures or tapes portraying him. None of the culprits that ever mentioned him while complaining for a forced confession could actually demonstrate his existence. 

He was the invisible man.

“I’ve done a little this, a little that. You know, I didn’t need much money, I spent all the time trying to figure out people. And looking for my family.”

“Did your pilgrimage ever lead you to make some criminals go to jail?”

Jarod had a flash of the hundreds of people ended up behind bars because of his intervention. 

Then he answered, “I’ve never really been interested in solving crimes, Attorney Prentiss. I spent thirty years as a prisoner, you think I would waste time wandering around to avenge my lost childhood at the thugs and murderers?”   

Parker and Broots exchanged a knowing look. They had wacthed Jarod doing what he had just said for five years. Fortunately, his behavior was only imprinted in the mind of the citizens he had helped.

The members of the Jury glared at Prentiss, who wanted to find Jarod at fault and make him nervous.

He opted for a change of strategy, “You strenuously defended your so-called mentor figure, Dr. Sydney Mertens. Don’t you think you may still be under the influence of a man who exploited you, made you believe he cared about you, even by filling your head with inaccurate information about his superiors?”

Jarod grimaced. Prentiss was really getting on his nerves, “Sydney was like a father to me. I’ll never forget the affection he showed me at The Centre. He worked on the “pretender project” for years, but he never hurt a soul.”

“Until he committed suicide, right?”

Jarod hardly kept his composure. He looked at his fists while he squeezed them unnoticed by others, then he glared at Prentiss, “Whatever reason he had, I believe his guilt got the better of him, eventually. I don’t blame Sydney Mertens more than I blame myself for what I’ve done with my skills.”  

The Jury members nodded in consent, and Jarod realized that he was winning; Prentiss’s strategy wasn’t working.

“Let’s talk about the Terrible Three, as they’ve been nicknamed by national press. Mr. Parker, Bobby “Lyle” Bowman and Dr. William Raines. Isn’t it very convenient that they were the only victims during The Centre blitz?”

Victim is not a fitting term for my torturers, Mr. Prentiss.”

“Objection, Your Honor!”

“Objection sustained. I suggest you both to moderate terms, sirs.” the judge commented.

“I’m sorry, Your Honor. They were the main responsible for what was going on at The Centre, so they were the first to fall.”

“You’d consider a shot in your chest like a fall?” Prentiss demanded.

“If you’re indirectly asking if I’m sorry for their deaths, well, my answer is absolutely no. If you’re asking me if I have anything to do with the holes in their corpses – which, by the way, were examined by three different coroners, then the answer is no, again. Mr. Raines was killed by your assisted, Mr. Hasani.” Ross pointed at the man sitting at the dock. “Mr. Parker and Mr. Lyle were involved in a domestic dispute that leaded them to shoot one another.”

“I read the report written by the N.S.A., Mr. Charles. I’m just curious, what pushed father and son into a fight that drove them to aim guns against each other?”

“The men of the Parker dynasty have always wanted one thing: power. Lyle wasn’t willing to renounce to his share of the pie.”      

“And so, Mr. Parker shot his son because…?”

Jarod sighed, aware that the moment to lie had finally come, “I can only assume that he had a crisis of conscience when his son shot me. He hit Lyle’s shoulder and later one of the agents killed Lyle, he really had gone nuts.”

Prentiss smiled in satisfaction, “You know, it’s weird that you talk only about the men of the Parker dynasty.”

Miss Parker felt a familiar lump in her throat, and Ethan squeezed her hand tenderly, trying to protect her for what was coming next.

Prentiss reached his table and took a file, “The NSA agents declared that Mr. Parker’s daughter was there during the gunshot. Apparently, she was visiting her father that very day, wasn’t she?”

Jarod felt waves of adrenaline pervading him. He couldn’t tell if it was for tension or fear.

“I had the great pleasure to see an old childhood friend of mine, that day. I hadn’t seen Charlotte Parker in ages. It’s a pity that the circumstances of our encounter were so tragic.”

Parker clenched her teeth; she didn’t like seeing Jarod lying. But she knew it was for their good, she had done it, too. 

This was the tale they had thought up for the Jury: the defense wanted to exploit their connection to unravel the skeletons in their closet, so they had to pretend, very well

The story was easy to remember: They had met again that day at The Centre, and later they had fallen in love while Jarod recovered after the terrible weeks that had followed the gunshot.

Prentiss sneered, “A few Centre employees have swearing under oath that they usually saw Doctor Mertens and Mr. Broots working with a woman whose description fits Charlotte Parker’s, did you know?”

Jarod faked an amused grimace, “I’ve followed the trial, I don’t need an abstract, Mr. Prentiss.”

“A surveillance technician, Keith Connors, swore that he worked more than once for a woman that everybody called Miss Parker. He said – and I quote – that she walked around at The Centre as if that damned place was hers.”

“Knowing my actual cohabitant’s temper, she could definitely be capable of such a behavior.” Jarod replied sarcastically, causing laughter among the Jury and the audience. “– but here’s the thing, Connors is charged with aiding and abetting. He was assigned to controlling The Centre surveillance system while Charlotte Parker spent her time drinking tequilas in European resorts, squandering her father’s money, completely unaware of what was actually going on in Blue Cove.”

Miss Parker smiled in satisfaction, thinking that Jarod had painted a perfect picture for her fake self.

“And I assume the fact that Miss Parker is your actual partner, as well as your children’s mother, is not damaging your judgment about her position.”

“Objection!” the prosecutor shouted.

“Sustained. Attorney Prentiss, this topic was dealt with during Miss Parker’s interrogation, comprehensively, in my opinion.” The judge said.  

“I beg your pardon, Your Honor. I was just wondering if they didn’t perform some kind of mental torture on Mr. Charles to make him lose his memory.”

Jarod winced for a moment. Did Prentiss know anything about Mind Rain

No, he couldn’t, they had deleted it from The Centre archives before the beginning of the trial.

“Unfortunately, many mementos of my past were stolen from me, it’s true. But I still have memories of moments spent with Miss Parker. She was my sparkle in the dark, when we were kids.” 

Jarod’s eyes were now evidently set on Parker. The majority of the audience, the Jury and the judge, turned towards her to watch her reaction. She was visibly touched by Jarod’s words.

“When Mr. Parker sent her abroad, I suffered a lot.” Jarod kept talking. “They made me believe she wasn’t interested in my friendship anymore, so I forgot her, after a while. After I woke up in my hospital bed, I found her there. And then we…reconnect.”

The women of the Jury sighed together with Jarod at the end of this sentence. Parker opened her eyes to try and withhold tears not show her weakness, but Prentiss wasn’t satisfied, yet.

“When Doctor Mertens and Mr. Broots flied around the States, they always used a private jet. But there were times when they used commercial flights. They always booked for three persons and they always reserved three single rooms. Who was the third person traveling with them? Many flight attendants and hotel keepers remember a woman, tall, brunette, with very long legs and light blue eyes with an icy stare.”

Jarod smirked, thinking that the description was unmistakable. 

That was his Ice Queen.

“How would you explain it?” Prentiss questioned him, turning around to watch Miss Parker. The woman answered with one of her notorious glacial looks.

“Mr. Broots was always very cautious when he contacted me. He constantly related about Sydney’s movements, that is why I was always able to run from The Centre whenever they got too close. He always warned me in the same way: he booked one room for himself and one for the good doctor, but he also reserved a third room for a woman – that never showed up. He later used it to let notes and every kind of evidence he had acquired about The Centre.”

“Clever.” Prentiss stated sarcastically.

“Indeed.” Jarod mocked him, ironically. 

The women of the Jury, fascinated by Jarod’s charm, smiled at him. 

Broots gazed at Miss Parker with a smirk on his face. He would surely come out well, after this trial. He would be considered much more important than he had actually been. 

Parker laughed to herself, thinking about all the sleepless nights spent in those dumps all around the States in the vain hope of ever catching Jarod. 

Empty room my ass, she thought.

Prentiss licked his lips, he had left the best at the end.

“Mr. Hasani and my other assisted swore that Miss Parker was heading the pursuit team hunting you. The infamous Miss Parker was called back at The Centre with the assignment of capturing you, without ever being able to succeed because of her clouded judgment.”

“I’ve heard that.” Jarod replied, without losing his temper. 

“The Centre postman also affirmed, the pretender sent packages to Sydney and Miss Parker almost weekly, and the boxes usually contained presents of personal nature.”

“I’ve sent a couple of gifts, I can’t deny it. I loved the idea of torturing my former mentor, God rest his soul.”

Parker couldn’t help but admire Jarod’s style. He was pretending to be a trustful witness, even if he was lying. That role surprisingly fitted him like a glove.

“Talking about Miss Parker’s presents, that was another means of communicating with Mr. Broots. Sydney always thought that I was showing signs of madness, so I let him believe I was crazy, that I was still looking for my long-gone childhood friend.”

“Didn’t you say you’d forgotten her, a few moments ago?”

Jarod found himself into trouble for the first time, and he stopped breathing for a second, frantically thinking about the best answer. Realizing that truth might get the desired effect – at least on the women of the Jury – he said, “Yes, I’m sorry, I lied. I’ve never forgotten Miss Parker, she was my first love, as everybody knows by now.” Jarod looked at the Jury. “Our story is so fascinating that all the tabloids are asking us exclusive interviews. Whenever they call, I reply that Parker is thinking about writing a book, she would like to turn our story into a romance novel.”

He’d done it again, the audience was laughing. 

Parker felt so ashamed that she probably blushed.

“The Jury is not interested in the romantic facets of your relationship. What we want to know is what role this woman had inside the structure built by her great-grandfather. Can you honestly affirm – and I remind you that you’re under oath – that Miss Charlotte Parker –” Prentiss pointed at Miss Parker. “Wasn’t in charge with the pursuit team getting after you, as my assisted declared?”

Everybody in the courtroom waited in silence, and Jarod pondered for a few seconds before answering. He breathed in and out slowly, without giving in to the panic gnawing him.

What was he supposed to say? 

He had sworn. 

He didn’t feel like perjuring, but he couldn’t tell the whole truth. 

He saw his mother’s face lost in the see of faces, she was hanging on his words. Margaret shook her head, letting him understand that he couldn’t surrender now.

“I’ve been on the run for seven years. All I wished was that the woman I had once known and loved would remember the bond we had shared. The fact that she was a Parker didn’t make any difference, she’s always been the one.”

Jarod paused for effect, while everybody held their breaths.

“You want to hear me say that Miss Parker is guilty of something. Well, I’ll tell you the truth: she is. We’re all responsible for what happened at The Centre.” Jarod admitted. “But our crime was unawareness. I didn’t know what my simulations were used for and Miss Parker didn’t know what was really happening inside that damned place while she enjoyed her life. When I told her everything, when I confessed the truth, her world fell apart.”

Parker noticed Jarod’s expertise in the use of times in his speech. He hadn’t lied, he had just omitted that he’d been sending her clues to find the truth for years. After his speech, one might think that he had explained everything to her after his coma. 

“You want somebody’s head on a silver plate?” Jarod talked on. “The only heads that would have fitted had already been decapitated, I’m sorry. Now you only have the defendants, and believe me, every word coming from their mouths to blacken Charlotte Parker’s name is a lie.”

“Why? Because you sleep with her?” 

"Objection!" the prosecutor shouted. 

Jarod stood up, squeezing his fists. Parker glared at him hard, a nod was enough to admonish him. He interpreted her glance as a ‘stop behave like Prince Charming’ remark.

"Sustained. Attorney Prentiss, I suggest you again to moderate your words." the judge reproached him, making the attorney realize who had his favor between him and Jarod. 

"Despite her pregnancy, Charlotte Parker cooperated with the authorities during the last months, even if she was finalizing the request for her brother Michael Parker's formal adoption. I see no reason to accuse her again, seeing that she's already been interrogated, for long. Now, if you don't have any other questions, I would please the witness to leave."

Prentiss accepted the fact that the judge had already chosen his verdict. 

Not even the infamous Adam Prentiss could do anything to help his assisted, this time. The Centre was a lost cause. 

Jarod Charles's story was rotten to the core and full of holes. But even if Prentiss had reasonable doubt, who was he to help these men?

These people had kidnapped, tortured and exploited innocent children for years. Maybe Jarod Charles had defrauded different institutions by pretending to have degrees that he actually didn't have, but the former fugitive always acted to do some good and to get revenge on individuals who deserved it.

He'd acted as a Vigilante defending the weak and abused, he'd saved lives and solved cold cases. And he'd managed to do all of this with The Centre at his heels.

And at some point of the chase, Charlotte Parker had eventually regained her senses, just in time to help Jarod and to save herself from the sinking ship.

Who was he to deny Jarod Charles some justice?

Who was he to get in the way? 

And not to mention, of course, that the public opinion saw the genius like a national hero who had revived those ideals of freedom and independence from the powers to be. 

Surely, when the judge would declare the final punishment for the defendants, the citizens interested in the trial would stand up, feeling a bit prouder of being American. 

Everyone sympathized for Jarod, all the kids wanted to be like him. 

The man who had destroyed the theatre of horror that was The Centre.

"One last question, Your Honor." He finally stated.

The Judge sighed, not understanding why this deposition was lasting so long. Jarod Charles wasn't a defendant, he was the main witness, the victim. 

And yet, Prentiss was trying to subdue him as if he was guilty of something.

Prentiss knew that he had lost. 

His strategy to make other main characters of that story take the blame to divert the attention from his assisted hadn't worked. Hasani and the other members of the Tower would spend decades in prison, and he couldn't avoid it. What he could do was ending that trial so that his reputation was still safe. The Tower and Hasani would pay not only for their own decisions, but even for every order given by Mr. Parker, for every experiment done by William Raines, for all the women and men Mr. Lyle had killed.

The big names inside the Government and the Army that had approved The Centre research finalized to the construction of weapons and plans had already cleared their status. They were unaware of how The Centre obtained its results. So, they'd gotten away with just with a bunch of bad publicity. 

Maybe a couple of senators wouldn't be elected again, but that was a fair sacrifice for their own freedom.

Prentiss had all these thoughts in his mind, when he asked, "Mr. Charles, I know it mustn't have been easy for you to live in segregation and loneliness almost all your entire life. And yet, it seems to me that you came out pretty well from it. Without evident psychological or physical harm. How do you explain that?"

"Meaning?"

"Well, if the tortures you had to endure were so unsustainable and distressing, how come that you're are the good boy, the hero, the man who became famous for exposing an illegal corporation with contacts all over the world.”

Jarod was speechless.

“A man with an IQ far above the average, also blessed with such good fortune to get a woman that every single man in the States would die for."

Jarod grinned for his last remark, "As you premised, Attorney Prentiss, I am a pretender. When I ran away from my prison, I felt obliged to pretend to be happy. But if tomorrow those men are getting the punishment they deserve –” Jarod sighed heavily. “Well, then I can finally stop pretending, because I will be happy."

Prentiss nodded in acceptance. The devil's advocate had been overruled that day.

"Did I answer your question, Adam?" Jarod demanded, sighing in tiredness.

Prentiss nodded, "No more questions, Your Honor."

"The witness is pleased to leave. Thank you, Mr. Charles."

"My pleasure, Your Honor." Jarod replied.

Jarod walked away from the witness stand while the judge updated the session to the following day. 

The Jury would reach a verdict by the following morning.


That night, Jarod and Parker video-called Sydney to say hi to Clio. Needless to say, the psychiatrist took the chance to talk about the trial, even if Jarod was beginning him to let go.

"Verdicts are tomorrow, uh?" Sydney asked, with Clio tenderly asleep in his arms.

"Sydney." Jarod admonished him.

"I'm sure the jury will sentence to remove my name from the register. Maybe they will also revoke my American citizenship."

"Why are hurting yourself like this?" Parker demanded him.

"I'm don’t want people to think I am a fraud. But this is what I deserve for all the years I’ve worked at The Centre…without saying a word."

Jarod sighed, they'd talked about it hundreds of times, "Sydney, how many times do I have to repeat you that you already made amends? You were a victim of the circumstances, like me. I thank God every day that you were trainer and not Raines."

"Kyle wasn't that lucky." Parker reminded them, finding Jarod's agreement.

"But everybody will think –"

"I don't care what other people think, Sydney, and neither should you!" Jarod yelled. "You've been a father to me, you taught me what was good and what was bad. It's only because of your education if I was able to help so many people. Remember this, always!" Jarod cheered him up.

"If Jarod is an irreverent, annoying, national hero –" Parker intervened, "with a charming partner and two children that soon may become prodigies like him, he owes it to you, Sydney!"

"Oh, do I?" Jarod pinched her and Sydney chuckled.

Jarod gazed at Parker, feigning annoyance for her sarcastic comment. She stared back at him seriously and the pretender didn't wait another second to steal a kiss from her. Miss Parker turned back to the screen with a pleased grin on her face.

"Thank you. Both of you.” Sydney stated. “I'd better be going; Clio is waking up."

"Take care of her, Sydney." Parker asked him.

"She couldn't be in better hands." Jarod reminded her (and Sydney). He was very glad to notice that his mentor looked more peaceful, now. 

Syd waved at them and closed the communication.


The following day, Sydney's fears proved to be unfounded. 

Believing that Dr. Sydney Mertens had chosen a path of redemption when he’d decided to kill himself, the Jury proposed a note of merit based on Jarod's deposition about Sydney's education and for helping the pretender while he was on the run.

Jarod had also mentioned the terrible bond between Sydney and Dr. Krieg, the Nazi doctor who made experiments in Dachau. He had revealed Sydney’s involvement in bringing the mad doctor to justice – Parker's name was never mentioned, for obvious reasons.

This had definitely turned the Jury in Sydney’s favor; the tortures he'd endured in Dachau when he was younger had been considered mitigating circumstances. 

Jarod was content with the bulletin the Jury made for the press; somehow, it made Sydney's character less guilty at the eyes of the public opinion. The psychiatrist would be very glad.

The Tower, Hasani and all the other members of the councils of the Centre and the Triumvirate were given years, even decades to be spent in prison, without possibility of parole with good behavior. 

Indemnities of different kind were provided to the families of the kids kidnapped or killed by The Centre, as well as for all the people that had been exploited for experiments. 

Unfortunately, Angelo's parents weren’t on the list. Jarod had found out that they had died in a car accident staged by the Centre soon after Angelo’s kidnap.

Hasani hadn’t spoken for the whole trial. He looked already submitted to the idea of ending up in prison, even if they'd served him a couple of years for acting against Mr. Raines. 

Jarod had tried to explain to the Jury how that had felt like an act of late redemption, but his statement wasn't enough to save Hasani from jail. 

The only man missing at the trial was Mr. Cox. He had been found in the Triumvirate African fortress while he was trying to escape. 

He was one of the few who might have been able to confess the crimes of the terrible three, but he had died during a gunshot. 

Jarod and Miss Parker weren’t shocked by the news. 

She still remembered the glacial coldness Mr. Cox had showed when he'd inspected Brigitte's corpse; and Jarod still remembered how he had planned Zoe's abduction. After all, he just got what he deserved.


As soon as the Jury communicated the verdicts, applauses and shouts exploded in the courtroom. Dozens of reporters were taking pictures of Miss Parker and Jarod's reactions, as well as those of the other people involved in the trial. 

But Jarod and Parker weren't interested in celebrity, they just wanted to start living a normal life. Still, all the tabloids were in completion to publish the best pictures of that famous couple. A bunch of photographers took pictures of Parker and Jarod holding each other in satisfaction; others managed to catch a kiss. 

Should the press ever find out that Jarod had written a romance novel inspired by their lives, they would probably pay millions to get the copyright.

When Jarod and Parker exited the court surrounded by Ethan, Broots and Jarod's parents, they looked happier than ever. 

They were both wearing sunglasses and leather jackets; Parker had her trademark stilettos (back on her feet after the months of abstinence due to her pregnancy), a silky light blue blouse and her never-missing miniskirt. 

Jarod wore a classic black jeans and a form-fitted red shirt. They looked positively amazing.

They never conceded interviews, no newspaper had the honor to hear their voices after the trial.

And one day later, just as they had appeared from nothing, they vanished. Police, newspapers, tv channels and radios tried looked for them for months. Nobody ever knew what had happened to the American Fiancées, as they'd been called. 

From time to time, someone would claim to have seen them outside a shop or a service station.

Somebody also spotted them at Disney World, buying cotton candy with the boy they had adopted while watching their daughter on the carousel.

Within the years, the interest in Jarod and Miss Parker decreased, until they became a faint memory of an incident that, for some time, had shocked the American collective imagination.

End Notes:

So, the story is almost over.

Get ready for the Epilogue.

Chapter 27: Epilogue a.k.a. The Pretender by missparker87
Author's Notes:

Well, this was a long journey, but it's finally over.

I should thank everyone who read this fiction, most of all those of you who reviewed.

So thank you, FANmily, I hope you really enjoyed Mind Rain as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Oh, one last thing: to really understand this chapter make sure you remember Chapter 12. If you don't, go back and read it again :)

EPILOGUE

(Five Years Later)

Five years had passed since the fall of The Centre, years of great peacefulness for the whole Charles family.

The affection Parker and Jarod harbored for their children increased constantly and exponentially. If Parker had a weakness for Michael, who resembled Jarod more and more with each passing day, the former pretender had a penchant for Clio. Jarod would have never thought he would love someone more than Parker, but he had reached a level of adoration even higher, with Clio.

Jarod loved staying awake to watch her sleep in her crib when she was a newborn; he had been the one to teach her how to walk; her first word had been "daddy" – clearly – and now that she was four years and a half, he was sorry to leave her in the kindergarten teachers' hands until he would fetch her at the end of the day.

Jarod had a special relationship with his first-born, too. They shared an inborn curiosity for all the environment. Jarod often slept in a tent with his boy during summer and he told hi