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Breaking Down Her Defenses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She shook her head and handed him the file.

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

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

"Who ran the tests?"

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

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

"Does he know?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She nodded her head, agreeing with his reasoning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

It was Alex.

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

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