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Precious Cargo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parker quickly unlocked the doors. "Get in."

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

He rapped his knuckles on the door.

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

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

"No, go away, asshole!"

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

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

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

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

But he could hear it now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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