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We've Got Tonight

The cold January wind cut through Parker's jacket like a razor. The air was damp with a dense rain that coated everything, giving each item the illusion of glass. Miss Parker carefully maneuvered over the glossy asphalt of the parking lot to her car. Fumbling with frozen fingers, she unlocked the door and quickly slipped inside. It had been far from a happy new year and all she wanted was to go home and slip into a hot bath. The call had come in just after midnight; telling her that Mr. Parker's body had finally washed ashore just off the coast of Africa and was in route to the Center. She had dressed and departed from her house not ten minutes later. It was hardly the way to welcome the New Year; identifying your dead father's remains, but for Parker it seemed ironically fitting for her life.

She had spent the better part of the morning making all the arrangements for his funeral and most of the afternoon dealing with the ramifications of the announcement of his death. The phone calls had been endless and her ear still tingled from the constant pressure of the receiver pressed against her it. Now here she was still in the parking lot just after seven and all she could think to do was ball like a baby; something she hadn't let herself do all day.

When she finally got control of herself, she contemplated where she was going to go. Home hardly seemed like an option; as the Center could easily reach her there and she was in no mood to deal with anymore questions. A Bar seemed most logical but not entirely temping, as she looked at her smudged mascara. There was always Syd's house but she would have rather shot herself in the foot then to spend the evening being analyzed but the well meaning doctor. Which left her few options at all, then she remembered the clue Sam had presented her with on Jarod's current location. Her hands began to shake. She couldn't, could she?

She glanced out of the corner of her eye at her brief case, which sat on the passenger seat beside her. Her heart started to pound. 'You don't even know if he's still there.' She told herself as she traced the gold clasp with her finger. 'What the hell do you think he is going to do? Wrap his arms around you and make this all go away. Go home Parker, home to where you belong. Don't do something you're going to be sorry for tomorrow. You don't deserve him, not after all the things you've done to him. You deserve this; pain that never leaves, tears that will no one brushes away. You deserve this.' The tears came again in warm, salty rivers down her flushed cheeks. She lifted her hands and buried her face in them, sobbing uncontrollably now.

Minutes passed before she realized that in the midst of all her crying, she had popped the clasp of the brief case and spilled its contents on the seat beside her. She brushed the tears from her cheeks and took the manila folder in her hands. Suddenly a voice echoed in her head, she struggled to understand its whispered message. Then she finally realized that it was telling her to look inside. Her hands trembled as she pulled the folder open and read the first paragraph.

Before she could talk herself out of it, she had read the entire document in front of her. It said that Jarod was last spotted in New York City. Even she had to admit it was a likely spot of him to be on New Year's Eve, with the large celebration and all in Time Square. Her stomach flipped and nausea soon loomed. Was it possible could Jarod still be in New York? And if he was, could she find him? She glanced up to see Lyle approaching her car and without much thought she made up her mind and threw the car into gear, skidding out of the parking lot.

She soon found herself on the highway headed north. She had no idea where she was headed; towards Jarod or simply away from Lyle, but she did know that she was heading away from the Center and Blue Cove. She needed to get away from her life if only for a few hours. She had lost someone, someone she had somehow believed would never really leave her. She needed to get away from that; from everything.

Hours passed and the only thing that changed was the song on the radio. Her tears came and went in tides of sorrow as her mind floated to days passed and memories of a life she had once cherished. Up ahead in the distance, she saw it; the sign she had been waiting for 'Welcome to New York'. She took a deep breath, she was almost there. She kept going never bothering to read the file again. She didn't need it to tell her where to go deep within her she knew; she had always known.

The icy rain pounded on the roof of the car in a steady hypnotic pace, the swishing of the windshield wipers keeping its rhythm. She sat staring at the building before her. She knew he was inside; she wasn't sure how or why she knew only that she did. She could feel the lump in her throat bobbing up and down as she swallowed. Her eyes locked on the brick building in front of her; she couldn't breath. Her heart was pounding and her palms where sweaty.

'What the hell are you doing here Parker?' she scolded herself. 'Do you want to take him in or run away with him? Do you even know?' In truth, in that moment she had no idea what she wanted except to be near him. There was always something about being near Jarod that seemed too make things better and she needed things to be better. She shook her head as if that motion would clear things for her, and then swallowed deeply before reaching for the door handle. Stepping out of the car, she was immediately aware of the freezing rain that poured down from the heavens drenching her. Suddenly her eyes, which had never left the building, spotted Jarod exiting a cab and walking to the door. She couldn't move. There he was just a few yards away and she was paralyzed with the decision she suddenly had to make. Instantly she felt the panic, she had been holding at bay, begin to rise within her. The cold rain mixed with a new bout of warm tears that flowed freely from her eyes. 'How could she have come here?' She tore her eyes from him and grabbed the now ice covered silver door handle of the car. The coldness burned her like fire and she quickly yanked her hand away. 'Damn it Parker. How could you put yourself in this situation?' She screamed at herself as she leaned against the car resting her head on her arms and staring at the ground. Her now soaked clothes clung to her like a second skin, as the bone chilling wind sliced through her like razors. Freezing droplets of rain cascaded down her chestnut tresses and on to her warm face melting as they made contact with her skin and gliding down her neck.

Standing up right, she attempted to pull her wet coat around her to block out the terrorizing cold wind. She raised her weary head to look at the glowing windows of the building before her. Her body screamed in protest as she stood there dreaming of the warmth nestled inside those illuminated pains of glass.

"Miss are you all right?" a voice called from behind her, startling her with its presence.

"What?" Parker snapped as she spun around, her ice queen defenses immediately in place.

"Are you all right? Is there something I can do to help?" asked an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair.

"I'm fine." Parker retorted.

"Are you sure? I mean this is no place for a lady; such as you, to be alone, especially at this time of night and in this weather. I'd be glad to help you get to where ever it is your trying to go."

"First of all you have no idea what kind of lady I am. Second of all I'm not sure where the hell I am going. So all in all although I am sure you are a nice man and chivalrous to boot. I really am fine and can take of myself, thank you." Parker stated confidently.

The gentleman smiled and tipped his hat before making a quite departure. Parker watched him until he disappeared through the same door that Jarod had sometime earlier. She was torn and the bitterness of the cold only made making a decision more difficult. Her body was shivering as her skin tingled with the numbing rain. Thunder crackled above her drawing her eyes heavenward to dark starless sky. A bolt of lighting flashed, illuminating her face, as the icy droplets of the winter's storm stung her skin in their descent.

A figure in a window of the building caught her attention. It was a woman. Soon a man came to join her, wrapping his arms gently around her waist. Parker felt a pang of jealousy it had been a lifetime since she had been held that way. She tore her eyes from them and locked them back on the door. Something inside her propelling her forward, she maneuvered across the slick icy street to the front steps of the brownstone.

* * *

Jarod pushed the DVD into the player. He was looking forward to a long night of watching old movies. The air was filled with the buttery smell of popcorn popping. He moved down the hall and grabbed a blanket off his bed. He knew that in the morning he would have to depart the city but he wanted to begin the New Year off on his own foot, not the Center. Never had he allowed himself to the luxury of just relaxing for an evening and his resolution this year was to do just that.

The wind outside whistled through the cracks in the window sending a chill through him. Rain beat against the window eluding that the winter's storm was still raging outside. He moved to the fireplace and threw a few more logs in. It was going to be a long cold night and he needed something to keep him warm. Even he could not hide the fact that he was lonely. He had left ZoŰ soon after his time on Carthis. He wasn't in love with her and he realized that staying with her would only hurt them both in the end. It had been difficult to do so close to the holidays but he knew that even though he was lonely he had made the right decision.

Dumping the bag of popcorn into a large bowl, he took his place on the couch and reached for the remote. Once he was comfortably wrapped up in the blanket and positioned his snacks just right he pushed the play button. The movie began. He wasn't sure why this one had been among his choices really, only that it seemed to catch his eye and peek his interest. He was curious to see how one tamed a shrew and to discover what exactly a shrew was.

As he found himself caught up in the world wind romance played out on the screen before him, his mind floated to his own shrew and wondered it she could ever be tamed. His Parker was very similar to the fiery Cat in the movie. Both had that snake like tongue that spat venom at will crushing the hearts of ill suited suitors. Each had a gentler side as well hidden and closely guarded allowed only to be revealed in controlled situation to the lucky who could break through the thick icy walls of their fašade. When it came to Parker he had been among those lucky few, who included mostly family and a few close friends. His mind floated to their time on the Island, how close he had come to getting her to find that little girl locked away inside her. He could still feel her breath; warm and teasing on his lips, from the kiss that never came to be. It had been his biggest regret of the passing year; that he hadn't grabbed her into his arms and kissed her right there before Ocee had interrupted them or perhaps later when they had found themselves alone again.

Regrets where useless he reminded himself. The New Year would be different he would see to that. He would hold on tighter, push harder, and discover the secrets that still evaded him. He would find the truth and free them all. But more than anything he would find those beloved souls he was looking for; his mother and the rest of his family, and more than anyone else that little dark haired girl he had been in love with all his life; those where his resolutions, and in the New Year resolutions where all that really mattered. Regrets were washed away with the ticking of the clock, gone but not forgotten, so one knew not to make the same mistakes twice. A knock at the door brought him back to the moment at hand. He rose to his feet and opened the door.

"Robert what can a do for you?" Jarod asked the man.

"I'm sorry to disturb you at such a late hour Jarod. It's just that there is a woman outside, she has been standing out there for sometime and is soaked to the born. I attempted to help her but she seemed a bit weary of me. I was hoping that perhaps you could reach her. I'm worried that if she stays out there much longer she'll freeze to death."

"Where is she?" Jarod asked slipping his shoes on his feet.

"In the parking lot just across the street, she seems to be very upset."

"I'll go see if I can talk to her." Jarod said patting the man on the shoulder.

"Good luck." The man called as Jarod disappeared down the stairs.

* * *

After what seemed like forever Parker had managed to make her way up the icy steps to the door. She wasn't sure what it was she thought she was going to do once he answered, but she had made it this far and going back seemed liked an impossibility. She raised her trembling hand and held it just inches from the door. The cold metal of her 9mm on her back a constant reminder of who she was; his huntress, the woman he had spent years running from. She lowered her hand. She had no right to be there. Turning around, she felt the tears come again in a tidal wave of emotion that rocked her frozen body.

Suddenly her shaking body was illuminated with light and warmth as she heard the door behind her being pulled opened. She raised her head and turned to find herself caught in the gaze in two pools of liquid brown.

Jarod drew in his breath at the sight before him; Parker's drenched, freezing body. She looked a mess; her face was tired and tearstained, her eyes red and swollen from crying, deepened by the dark smudges of makeup beneath them. She was trembling but he wasn't sure if it was from the cold or the sadness that radiated in those crystal pools of blue he had cherished all his life. He wanted to speak, to ask her what had happened to her, but words failed him. All he could think was to get to her, to wrap his arms around her and shelter her from the freezing cold of the winter's rage. She too found her voice stolen, held hostage by the site of Jarod before her. She wanted to tell him that it had been a mistake to come. She wanted to turn and run, but she remained caught in the warmth of his eyes, in the closeness of his body. It had taken her a lifetime to get to this point; when the cold metal pressed against her back remained in its holster. She watched helplessly as he stepped forward never saying a word. The warmth of his arms burned like fire on her frozen skin, as he lifted her gently into his embrace. She was exhausted, too exhausted to fight him or protest his actions. Instead she found herself resting against him, grateful for his strength.

Jarod moved carefully up the stairs behind him to his apartment door, as he cradled Parker's frozen body against him. His heart pounded in his chest at her closeness. He could see the vulnerability in her eyes and feel her weariness of her body. He just wanted to hold her, to banish all the pain that seemed to consume her. When he finally reached his door, he fumbled to turn the knob without having to put her down, afraid that she would run from him, from the closeness. At last he was successful and was able to bring her inside. He moved over to the couch and placed her gently down, pulling the cover up around her shivering body.

Parker remained silent taking in the room around her. It was softly lit with a small lamp by the window and a raging fire. The air smelled of popcorn and caramel. The coffee table was piled high with DVDs and videos. The TV was playing faintly across from her some old movie she had seen sometime before. It was cozy and warm just as she had imagined it when she was outside. Jarod's back was to her as he placed a few more logs on the fire and a part of her wished she had the strength to leave while he wasn't looking. It would have been easier that way she was sure, but exhaustion and wanting kept her snuggled beneath the blanket that encompassed her. It was warm and smelled like Jarod; its scent more intoxicating and warming than a shot the shot of Scotch she was suddenly craving.

Finally Jarod turned to face her, his eyes filled with a million questions and concerns he seemed unable to ask. He cleared his throat attempting to find the voice that had been evading him. Shaking his head and wringing his hands, he said nothing but simply walked away from her disappearing down the hall. A few moments later the sound of the shower could be heard, and he reappeared before her.

"You need to get out of those wet clothes. I started a hot shower and left something for you to put on in the bathroom." Jarod said softly unsure exactly what she was doing there or how she would respond.

A hot shower sounded like heaven and Parker pushed herself up to a standing position. She wanted to say thank you but found biting her bottom lip the only response she could give before she headed down the hall. Slipping into the hot steamy bathroom, she peeled her clothes from her body and stepped into the hot spray of the shower. It felt more wonderful than she had imagined.

When she had finished she stepped out and dried off with a soft towel. Folded neatly on the toilet seat were a large flannel pajama top and a pair of flannel boxers. She recognized immediately that the shirt matched the pair of flannel bottoms Jarod adorned and as she slipped it over her head she knew that he must have been wearing it at some point because it smelled like him. The boxers were a few sizes to big but had conveniently come with a draw string waist, which she synched tightly around her own slender midriff. Glancing in the mirror, she couldn't help but see how swollen and red her eyes where and when she remembered why the tears came again. She unrolled the towel from her hair allowing the damp wavy treadles to fall gracefully about her shoulders.

Jarod poured the hot coffee he had been preparing into a large mug and turned to glance for the third time down the hall. He wanted to knock on the door ask if she was okay, but resisted the urge wanting to give her a little space. When he heard the creaking of the bathroom door, he turned abruptly almost spilling the hot coffee in his hand. His heart was racing as he waited to see which Parker would emerge; his huntress or his childhood friend. The soft padded footsteps seemed to take a lifetime to reach the end of the hall. He sucked in his breath and turned slowly to face her.

The site before him was breath taking and he sighed heavily with relief as his eyes met the soft, crystal, blue pools; he had fallen in love with some twenty years earlier. He offered her a small half smile and held out the steaming mug in his hands to her. She reached out to take it brushing her fingers softly over his hands. A wave of electricity sparked between them and each pulled back quietly at its power.

Parker maneuvered back over to the couch and sat down draping the blanket over her bare legs for warmth. Jarod followed sitting not quiet next to her and reached for the remote. He wanted to ask if she was all right but knew she wasn't. He wanted to ask what happened but knew she was in no state to tell him and was sure when she was ready she would. He stole a sideways glance at her before pressing the play button on the remote.

Just as the movie had begun to play, the soft sound of music filtered through the air vent from the apartment above.

I know it's late,I know you're weary

I know your plans don't include me

Still here we are, both of us lonely

Longing for shelter from all that we see

Why should we worry, no one will care

Look at the stars so far away

We've got tonight

Who needs tomorrow?

We've got tonight

Why don't you stay?

"I'm sorry." Jarod said, softly. "My neighbor tends to play her music a bit loud. I'll turn up the TV. It usually drowns out the sound."

"No don't." Parker said reaching for his hand. "I like this song."

"Me too." Was all he could say as her hand remained clasped gently around his.

Deep in my soul, I've been so lonely

All of my hopes, fading away

I've longed for love, like everyone else does

I know I'll keep searching, even after today

So that there it is

We've got it all now

And here we are

What do you say?

We've got tonight

Who needs tomorrow?

We've got tonight

Why don't you stay?

Before he could convince himself otherwise, Jarod opened his arms to her. He didn't want to rush her. He didn't want to scare her away, he just wanted to hold her, to chase away the demons that haunted her. His eyes held her gaze pleading silently for her to accept his offer of comfort.

Parker's eyes shifted silently back and forth between his compassionate, soft, brown eyes and the open offering of his arms. Her mind screamed that it wasn't too late to end this mistake and leave, but her heart, although quieter in its request, seemed to be the one leading her. She shifted her weight and slid her body into the comforting strength of his arms, resting her head gently beneath his chin on his chest.

I know it's late, I know you're weary

I know your plans don't include me

Still here we are, both of us lonely

Both of us lonely

We've got tonight

Who needs tomorrow?

Let's make it last

Let's find a way

Turn out the light

Come take my hand now

We've got tonight

Why don't you stay?

Why don't you stay?

The rain outside quieted, as it turned to snow, covering the world in blanket of white. The dark sky cleared allowing the abundance of stars to sparkle brightly in the heavens. The wind, which was once angry and unforgiving, danced gracefully outside whistling along with the song that filled the air.

Parker closed her eyes allowing Jarod's warmth and tenderness to wash away the day's harsh cold from her body. He hadn't been able to change the events that brought her there but he had managed to make them bearable. The way he always could in the past, the way she knew he would always be able to forever. She wanted to tell him everything, what had happened and how she loved him, but she didn't say a word knowing somehow by his embrace that there was no need. Just her being there spoke volumes. They both knew that.

Jarod closed his eyes cherishing the time she had allowed them. There were things to be said, feeling to be dealt with, but not tonight. Tonight there would be no talk of the future or the past. There would been no grand professions of love and devotion. Tonight there was just them; a little boy and a little girl who had been kept apart far too long and had finally found their way home.

Outside the air was bitter with cold. The glassy streets sparkled under the watchful eye of the moon. From a window in the city a warm yellow light glowed fore telling of warmth and comfort, and nestled inside two forms lay bundled beneath a blanket wrapped in each other's embrace. Their contented faces illuminated by the old movie playing on the telle before them. The air smelled of coffee and popcorn.

The End.

Authors Note: This one is for Jasie (as Mickey calls her) who issued the challenge that brought these images to mind. "We've Got Tonight" (Ronan Keating & Jeannette) is the song used.

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