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TITLE: A Father's Words
AUTHOR: Jackie
SPOILERS: Set after 'Island of the Haunted'
DISCLAIMER: A Yahoo! Groups challenge response to Cas' envelope challenge. I don't own 'em, I'm just borrowing 'em. Enjoy!

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Jarod handed over the mail slip and held his breath, glancing around anxiously as the postal clerk went into the back. A few moments later he let his breath out slowly as the postal clerk came back, holding a small envelope in his hands. Up until that point, the pretender hadn’t been sure if it the mail slip had really been from his father, or if it was a cleverly thought out Centre trap, but seeing the envelope - a real envelope - made him relax considerably.

“Here you go, sir,” the clerk said, handing the envelope over to Jarod.

“Thank you,” Jarod replied, taking it with shaking hands. Holding it tightly, he hurried out to his car and got in. He locked the doors and held the envelope in his hands. There was nothing special about it - it was plain, white, with a fake forwarding address on it - but it meant the world to Jarod. He carefully broke the seal and pulled out the single, handwritten note inside. He slowly opened it and read it to himself, trying hard to ‘hear’ his father’s words:

Dear Son,

I hope that this letter finds you in good health and good spirits, and that you and Ethan both managed to get out of the subway unscathed. I wish for anything that I could be with you instead of having this letter in my place, but for our family’s sake, I cannot. I know there are many questions that you have about me, the boy, your sister, and Zoe, among others, and I will try to answer them as best and as thoroughly as I can.

First of all, your sister, the boy, Zoe, and myself are fine. After rescuing Zoe from Lyle and Cox, we went back and got your sister. We left to where I had been keeping the boy - I’ve decided to called him Jeremy Joseph, JJ for short - and all of us left for a location that I cannot reveal to you. We stayed there until your sister was well enough to travel, then we left. However, Zoe was concerned about her family, so arrangements were made for her and her family to be taken care of and guarded. I know you worry about her, son, but in order to keep her safe, you can’t go looking for her - not just yet.

I wish I could give you some good news about your mother, but I can’t. It seems like every time I get close to finding out where she is, the Centre keeps stepping in and separating us - just like it was with you. I only hope that someday your mother will be found, and we will all be together one day, and we can be a family and leave the Centre behind us.

I know that I don’t know you well enough to call you son, and I know even less about Ethan, but I do want you both to know that I love you both very much, and I am very proud of both of you. We have all been through some horrific things in our lives, and I wish I could turn back the hands of time and stop it from ever happening, but I can have some peace in knowing that none of us - you, Emily, JJ, your mother, Ethan, or myself - have allowed ourselves to be swept away by the darkness, and for that, I am thankful.

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

Godspeed, my son,

Your father

Jarod had tried to keep his composure as he read the note, but he couldn’t hide his tears any longer; he broke, crying as he rested his head on the steering wheel. He was grateful that his father, brother, sister, and Zoe were safe. He was upset because he couldn’t find his mother or Ethan, and he had no idea if they were hurt or scared. And he was mad - mad at the Centre for causing him all this pain. He didn’t care if anyone saw him; it was the first time since Kyle had died that he allowed himself to weep so openly.

After what seemed like an eternity, Jarod could cry no more; he had no tears left. He carefully put the note back in the torn envelope and tucked it in his duffel sitting on the passenger’s seat. He wiped his cheeks, smoothed his hair, and straightened his shirt, then he started the engine. He still had a lot of pain inside him, pain that would take years to go away, but the last thing he was going to do was give up and allow that pain to control him. With a renewed spirit and a determination that came deep within his soul, Jarod pulled out of the parking lot and headed west.


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