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Disclaimers as usual... Jarod, ZoŽ and Miss Parker belong to Craig and Steve, the others as well, the town of Warbrook belongs to me (at least I hope so... haven't heard of it.) Guess my muse is back....

Title: Darkness
By: Chris
Rated: PG-13
Category: S
Spoilers: None

The handcuffs hurt. With an almost evil grin Parker was standing behind him with her gun loosely in her right hand. She seemed somehow disappointed that this had been all so unspectacular. Just walk in and take him with her. No running away, no chasing him through some weird town. Someone had betrayed Jarod and that someone was on the Centre's payroll. Just a little pill in his dinner and baby boy was sleeping and made no problems when they came to get him.

Two days earlier
"ZoŽ, please hand me the soap," Jarod said while crouching over a basket filled with dirty rugs. She smiled and handed him the soap. Inside the house the phone rang. ZoŽ ran from the barn to the main house. Just in time she reached the phone. When she came back to the barn where Jarod was cleaning the dirty rugs she smiled but didn't say anything.
"Who was it, honey?"
"Just an old friend. We arranged a meeting in Warbrook for tomorrow evening. Do you want to come along?"
"Sure, I always like to meet new people," he said and smiled at his lover. They had rented a small farm near Warbrook, a small town in the Rockies. The Centre had no idea where he was, ZoŽ's health was improving with every day and he enjoyed working with the farm's animals. A life he had always dreamed of. The only dark spot were the calls ZoŽ got every day. She told him those were her friends. Now he had the chance to meet one of them. Maybe there was no problem at all and he was seeing ghosts.

He felt the gun pressing at the small of his back and opened his eyes again.
"Dreaming about ZoŽ, labrat?"
He simply looked at Miss Parker and nodded. She only grinned.
"It was her."
"She was the one who gave you the sleeping pills. She betrayed you, Jarod."
He winced at her words.
"You don't mean it, right? You just say that to hurt me. She won't betray me. I love her."
"Maybe, but does she love you?"
Her voice sounded somehow soft. Not like the ice queen she always pretended to be. Did she feel sorry for him? Did she feel anything at all?
A strange noise made him look up. Parker had heard it too and looked at Jarod.
"What was that? What did you do?"
"I have done nothing. Sounds like the elevator needs some new parts in the not so distant future or it will get stuck some time soon."
He had barely finished his sentence when a loud crack made them both jump. The elevator accelerated and suddenly stopped dead. Jarod and Parker lost their balance and fell to the ground. Jarod could see that Miss Parker's head hit the floor hard then felt a sharp pain when his wrists in the handcuffs hit the floor. Then the lights went off.

One day earlier
He stuffed the bag in the trunk and pushed it close. He sat down beside ZoŽ and closed his eyes. ZoŽ knew the way and she would be driving.
"You sure you want to spend a night in Warbrook? It's not that far. We could easily drive home tonight," Jarod said not happy with the prospect of being in a town again after spending quite a long time on the farm. He didn't like being around people anymore, he enjoyed the serenity of his life in the countryside without anything to worry about. Nobody would be searching for him in a place like this he hoped.
"Jarod, I haven't seen those two in a long time. I want to spend more than two hours with them. If we stay in Warbrook we can have a few drinks together and don't have to worry about driving home."
"I could drive home. I don't need to drink alcohol."
"Jarod, please. You didn't have to come along. It was your choice."

His choice. It hat been his choice to go to Warbrook. Now he was lying in the darkness of a Centre elevator straining to hear Miss Parker's breath.
"Miss Parker? Parker, can you hear me?"
He got no answer and with some acrobatic exercises he climbed over his arms to have his hands in front of him. He trailed his fingers along the ground until he felt her. It was her arm he felt. He searched his way up to her neck to feel her pulse. It was weak but it was there. Her breath was shallow and when he carefully touched her face he felt something warm and liquid. Blood.
He slapped her in the face.
"Parker, can you hear me?"
She groaned.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to get you conscious again. Does your head hurt?"
"Yes. Where's my gun?"
"I don't know. Somewhere in the elevator. Do you have a torch?"
"Do you expect me to carry a torch with me just in case the elevator gets stuck? Someone will notice that the elevator's stuck and will come to get us. Sit down with your back to the wall and don't move. I can hear you. I will search my gun."
Jarod made his way to the wall. When he sat down he felt her gun right under his hands. He closed his fingers around it and tried not to make a sound. Parker didn't seem to realize that his hands were in front of him not cuffed behind his back. They were still in handcuffs but as long as they were in front of him he didn't care. If he didn't have the gun in his hands and if Parker hadn't ordered him not to move he would have made a little Houdini trick to free his hands but so he had to wait for an opportunity to get out of here.
"Have you found your gun?"
"No. Shut up."
"We could try to get out of the elevator through the trap door in the ceiling. There should be light in the elevator shaft."
I told you to shut up, Jarod."
"Just trying to help."
"Are you getting nervous, Parker?"
"No, I'm just-. Hand me the gun Jarod."
"Hand me the gun you're holding in your hands. And I know that your hands are in front of you."
Jarod had no idea how she could see all this in the pitch black darkness all around them but he held the gun away from himself and felt it being grabbed by Parker.
"Now you stand up and open the trap door in the ceiling. Stretch your hands out."
He stretched his hands out and felt Parker unlock the handcuffs.
"Now you help me to get out of here."
"How are you able to see in the darkness?"
"I am not seeing, I hear it and you should be able to do the same. You're the pretender."
"You have the inner sense, Parker, that's about the same."
Jarod stretched himself and pushed the trapdoor open. A pale light shone into the elevator cabin and he could see Parker's face. Drying blood was all over the left side of her face and as far as he could tell she was pale.
"How do you feel? You don't look very good?"
"My head hurts but I'm fine."
"You have a bad wound on your forehead that needs treatment. You should report to sickbay later."
"Of course Doctor Jarod", she said in a mocking tone, "Don't tell me what to do. Just help me out of here."
"What about me? Am I going with you or do I have to stay here?"
"You're coming with me of course. I'm not leaving you here all on your own. I know what you can do and I'm sure you will use all your skills to escape the Centre once more. But I don't want to be the one who's to blame for leaving you alone in an elevator. We're climbing up to the next level and exit through the doors. Do you help me now or do you want to keep staring at me?"
He shook his head and helped her through the door. Then he jumped up and pulled himself through the door. parker didn't help him. She was standing on the elevator and pointed her gun at him.
"You climb first," she said.
When he wanted to grab the first rung of the ladder the elevator cabin squeaked in its foundation and slid down a few more meters. Both of them fell to their knees and Jarod caught Parker just in time before she fell through the trap door. She breathed heavily when she came up again.
"Thank you," she said between gritted teeth and looked up at him.
"You are bleeding again. Take this piece of cloth and press it against your forehead for a few minutes."
"Where did you get it?"
"Out of my pocket. It's an unused hanky. We have to hurry. I don't know how long the elevator will stay in this place. When we're on the ladder we will be safer."
"I'm not sure I can climb," Parker admitted, "My foot hurts and my head feels like exploding."
"You go first then. If you fall I might be able to catch you."
"You might be able to? What's that supposed to mean?"
"I'm not sure I can hold both of us. If I fail we will both fall. If I won't we're save."
"Nice. Very nice. Let's go. I don't want to be sitting here when the elevator starts its descent."
Jarod only nodded and helped Parker to stand up.
"You might want to take off your high heel shoes. They're not very suitable for climbing."
She didn't even protest. She just took them off and started to climb up the ladder at the wall. The way up to the next level seemed miles long. In a normal building it would have been three to four meters but the Centre wasn't a normal building. The next level was about 10 or more meters above them and when the elevator would start to go down again there would be a heavy wind. They had to hurry. And it wasn't for sure that they would be able to open the first door they reached. They started climbing. Parker had put the gun at the small of her back not bothering that Jarod could easily reach for it and point it at her. Below them the elevator started making noises again and Jarod didn't bother to look down.
"Press yourself against the wall. The elevator will go down any second."
She did like he told her and he pressed himself against her to protect her. Suddenly he felt her going weak.
"Parker? Stay with me. Don't you dare loosing consciousness right now!?"
"I'm still here," she mumbled and tried to steady herself against the wall. She didn't say anything for a few more moment but Jarod felt her struggling against unconsciousness. And she lost. He felt her body collapse in his arms. Normally he would have shaken her or something like that but all he could do right now was wait for her to regain consciousness and call her by her name. His arms hurt and he was about to lose the fight against gravity when Parker slowly opened her eyes.
"Welcome back," he was able to say before the elevator went down.
"Press yourself against the wall!" he yelled and hoped that Parker heard him.
She seemed to have understand it. She pressed herself against the wall and Jarod pressed himself against her. His arms and legs hurt badly but all he could think about was saving Miss Parker's life. He wondered if she would have done the same for him. He guessed not. She wouldn't even thank him this time even though he had saved her life once more.
The elevator stopped a few level further down and there seemed to be a dead silence in the shaft.. In the dim light he could see the doors for a sublevel a few meters up ahead.
"We have to get up there and out of the shaft. I can't hold to the ladder much longer. If you fall unconscious again I won't be able to hold both of us. Can you climb?"
"Yes. Thank you Jarod. Why did you do it once more?"
"I had to, Parker." She had thanked him. She had shown some emotions. "I once told you I loved you. I can't just forget that and let you fall."
"You could have."
"But I didn't."
"Even though it means that you're spending the rest of your life in the Centre?"
"Maybe. Go on. I don't have much strength left. Is there a mechanism to open the elevator doors from in here? We don't have anything to pry them open."
"There should be. I'm no technician. Maybe we can phone Broots and ask him to open the door from the other side."
"You can try but I don't think it will work."
"The phone is working."
She looked at him and put the phone back into the pocket.
"Is there another way out of here?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is there a way out of the elevator shaft except through the doors?"
"Sure. On the top floor is a ventilation shaft."
"How far is it to the top floor?"
"This elevator ends somewhere in the grass outside the main Centre building. I don't know how far down we are. Can you see the number at the doors above you?"
"SL 8."
"Should be about 9 or 10 floors. Why do you ask all those questions?"
"Listen to me, Jarod and don't ask any questions. How long would it take to get up there?"
"Depends. About 10 minutes. Another 10 or 15 minutes to get through the ventilation shaft."
"Would it be possible for you to climb up the latter without me?"
"Sure. Parker, what is this all about?"
"Don't you realize that I want to let you go? You saved my life more than once. I want to do you one favor in return."
"You are letting me go?"
"Yes, I'm trying to tell you that. I'm giving you ten minutes before I call Broots. Do whatever you think is best for you."
"Thank you Parker. And Parker - I still love you," he said, kissed her and was gone. He climbed up the ladder as if Parker wasn't there, didn't even touch her. All sore muscles forgotten the only thing that counted now was his freedom at the end of the shaft.

"Broots, where are you? And why the hell hasn't anybody noticed that the elevator's stuck?"
"You're not using the main elevator Miss Parker. It's not equipped with a warning system and is not connected to the main system."
"Stop your lecture Broots and get me out of here. I'm right behind the doors of SL 8. Get some men and open those doors."
"Yes, Miss Parker."

"Jarod, can you hear me?"
"I can still hear you, yes. And I'm sure the surveillance cameras can see me as well."
"There are no surveillance cameras in the shaft Broots said on the phone. That's why nobody noticed the elevator's stuck."
"Stop talking Parker. Please. Or did you change your mind about letting me go?"
"No. I just wanted to say that I love you", she whispered and closed her eyes. She heard him crawling into the ventilation shaft and heard someone at the elevator doors. The doors opened and Sam grabbed her at her arms and pulled her onto the ground where she collapsed. She hoped this would give Jarod enough time to escape and her an excuse for not being able to guard him even inside the Centre.
Sam lifted her up and carried her towards sickbay. Broots cast a glance into the elevator shaft and shuddered. When he was about to turn away the cabin loosened and fell to the very ground where it nearly exploded. There was a heavy noise and flames and smoke everywhere. Because the shaft wasn't connected to the main surveillance system he pushed the fire alarm button and hurried after Sam, Miss Parker and the others. Nobody had asked about Jarod.

He was crawling through the shaft when he heard the noises from the crashed elevator and hurried. But it would divert attention from his escape. His freedom was near. He could already see the end of the shaft even though it was dark outside. He must have been unconscious for quite a while when ZoŽ had put the sleeping pills into his food. It must have been in his dinner. From Warbrook to Blue Cove it was a ride of about 6 hours. Maybe they had gone by plane which meant he had to hurry if he wanted to get out of the Centre area in the darkness. It was either early morning or already evening. He believed it was early morning so he had to hurry before the sun went up and spoiled his escape. He smelled the fresh air coming through the shaft and in his mind thanked Parker once more. He pushed the lid away and peered outside. Everything was calm and nobody was around. He crawled out of the shaft, put the lid back on and was on his way back into freedom - without ZoŽ by his side.

Parker slowly opened her eyes. She hoped Jarod would be gone by now. Sydney was leaning over her and smiled. She saw her father and Lyle as well. She wanted to sit up but Sydney held her back.
"What happened? And where's Jarod?" Lyle asked.
"I don't quite remember. I was in the elevator with Jarod and then it went down very fast. When it stopped again the lights went off. I was searching for my gun when Jarod knocked me out. I don't know what happened then. When I woke again he was gone. The trap door on the elevator's ceiling was open so I guess he escaped through there. I went after him. Then I called Broots to help me. Then you came and I woke here."
"He knocked you out? He'll pay for that," her father said.
"Send every sweeper you can find to search the Centre grounds and the adjoining lands for Jarod. He can't be far," Lyle said to Sam who hurried out of the room. Lyle followed so did his father after kissing his daughter on the cheek. Only Broots and Sydney remained. Parker sat up and looked at Sydney.
"You knew, why didn't you say anything?" she whispered.
"It was your decision to let him go who am I to interfere?" Sydney whispered back.
"He said he loved me. Do you think it's true?"
"If he said so? What did you answer?"
"I'm afraid I said the same."
"Why are you afraid?"
"Because it's true."


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