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Legal disclaimer: The recognizable characters of the TV-show 'The Pretender' don't belong to me but to MTM, NBC Television and 20th Century Fox. I just borrowed them. Every other character does belong to me. This story was only written and published for my pleasure and that of other fans. I don't pursue any financial interests whatsoever.

First of all I'd like to thank everybody who supported me (and will in the future, since there's more to come - so brace yourselves ;D). Big thanks to my beta readers, to Nicolette for encouraging me, to Swik for letting me use the name she chose for Miss Parker and to everyone out there who asked for this. Thanks folks!

Spoilers: Up to season 3. Just a few words... Being a Pretender junkie I try to keep up with the latest news and can't resist even the tiniest spoiler. This story, however, is not strictly canon. I left some things out and put others in. But if I were happy with the events and developments up to now I probably wouldn't be writing fan fic...

The story: A 'little' what if story. Miss Parker takes desperate measures, giving an unexpected turn not only to her own life...

Author's note: Unlike the German original the English version of this story will come in six parts so that I'll have some time to keep up with the translation - I'll be grateful for any kind of support! It may take some time for me to translate this story since it's really long and I want this translation to be as good as it can be so that I will capture the mood and the atmosphere of the original. So please be patient with me...

Note: This story is also available in German: Einsichten

Questions, suggestions, criticism, praise,... Don't hesitate! I'm looking forward to any kind of reaction - well, 'almost' any... Please just let me know what you think about this story (maybe that'll persuade me to publish some more ;D). Enjoy!


Part 1

by Miss Bit



The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

11:45 pm

There was a scary combination of sounds in the corridor that led down to a room which Lyle like to call the Hall of Truth. At first there was a low constant squealing that you'd expect to hear from a rarely used, badly oiled door. Mingled with that there was the sound of someone taking wheezing breaths.

Mr. Raines walked down the hall with his typical slow velocity until he reached the room labeled as SL-22-157. He pressed his hand on an inconspicuous square next to the door which slid open silently after that.

Mr. Lyle left his surveying point. He didn't need to follow Raines - he had other means to find out what was happening on the other side of the door. Just a few doors away there was a little chamber that used to be a recreation room for Raines' sweepers. In there Lyle had put up his equipment which enabled him to observe everything that happened in the Hall of Truth.

The Hall of Truth was Raines' private torture chamber, and Lyle had little doubt that this was the first place Jarod would be brought to once Miss Parker had managed to catch him and return him to the Centre. But that was none of his business. He had another reason for being here. And that reason was Mr. Parker.

Lyle had happened to overhear how Raines and his father had agreed on meeting down here. His distinct survival instinct told him that they were planning something, maybe even against him. This time Lyle wanted to be prepared. He turned on the devices and carefully watched the monitor.

"...but a menace to all of us", Raines was just hissing angrily. Old Parker grimaced - hard to tell whether he was annoyed or simply bored.

"She is my daughter after all, Raines."

Oh, this is not about me, Lyle thought somewhat fascinated. Apparently my sister is way up on Raines list. Such a waste.

"Since when are family bonds of any importance to you?"

"I won't give my permission just like this", Parker thundered, clearly angry now. "She will get one last chance - then you may do whatever you think to be appropriate."

"Now that's a reasonable decision", Raines wheezed mockingly, but then he continued angrily. "Your hesitating about Catherine's interference caused us a lot of trouble."

"Something like that won't happen again. You've got my word for that."

"I really hope so."

Raines turned around and walked to the door, while Lyle made an impressed sound. His sister was in a hell of a lot more trouble than he'd assumed. And she didn't even have the slightest idea about it.


Sydney's office

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

10:21 am

"Hello, Sydney. Do you have a minute?"

"Hello, Miss Parker. What can I do for you?"

"There's something I want to ask you. It's about the Red Files."

"So it's got something to do with Jarod", Sydney concluded. Miss Parker grimaced.

"No, not really. Just in an indirect way."

"Miss Parker, you'll have to be a little more precise."

She leaned forward and looked him straight in the eye.

"I want you to help me make a simulation."


SL 7

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

10:25 am

"Miss Parker, this is crazy."

"Thank you so much, Dr. Freud", she shot back at him.

She had known all along that Sydney wouldn't like the idea at all but that was hardly important to her. On the other hand she needed his help to do the simulation.

"You are no pretender so that trying it will be futile."

"The Red Files say something else. Syd, you know as well as I do that every child with a Red File has got a special talent. All I want is to find out if that also goes for me."

Sydney seemed to think about her point, slightly cocking his head.

"Supposing you really do have a special ability... Why has Raines never tried to exploit it?"

"Maybe because my mother protected me. Maybe the talents of the other children just seemed more valuable to him. Who knows what he thinks in that sick mind of his? Ask him, not me." Miss Parker hesitated for a moment. Her voice sounded more urgent as she went on. "Come on, Sydney. I need to be certain about this. Just one simulation. There's not much that could possibly go wrong, is there? It's not as if you were exploiting a child that doesn't even have a clue what it's doing. I'm doing this deliberately."

Sydney's reaction told her that her last remark had hit home. He still felt guilty about Jarod. It took a long while until he finally answered. He sounded frustrated.

"You asked what could go wrong. Not much if you aren't a pretender. But if you possess the gift this will be extremely dangerous. Maybe I won't be able to protect you."

She bridged the distance between them and briefly touched his shoulder.

"That's alright, Sydney. It's my risk, my responsibility. Whatever happens - it won't be your fault. Oh, one more thing. I don't mind the cameras being online, but I don't want anyone, except for you, to learn about this. My life's messed up enough - I don't need Raines to add to that."

Sydney nodded and walked over to one of the cabinets that stood in the simlab. After having opened it he looked over its contents, then took out one of the discs. Hesitantly he went back to Miss Parker. She curiously looked at the DSA in his hand.

"What's on it?" she wanted to know.

"A simulation the government asked us to do. But... the problem solved itself before Jarod had the opportunity to work on it. I guess that's why he left the disc when he escaped from here. It's not quite suitable for a first simulation..."

"Let's begin."

"Miss Parker!" She shot him a surprised look when she heard the angry edge to his voice. Usually he remained calm, even if she tried to provoke him. "This is not a game! Even Jarod needed some preparation and a special training before he could begin to simulate certain situations. This is madness."

"Sydney, I know that. But I've hardly got any time left. For how much longer do you think will the Centre tolerate our letting Jarod escape again and again? Unusual situations call for unusual methods.

Sydney looked at her for a long time before he gave in.

"There are some rules that you should know about before we will begin. Now listen to me closely..."


SL 7

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

03:13 pm

"What do you see?"

"There are... several cars behind me. It's the police!"

"What do you think?"

"I... I don't know. I'm afraid..."

"Miss Parker, you have to concentrate! What do you think?"

She was in the middle of a simulation. The sim had appeared to be simple enough but still it caused her a lot of trouble now. It was about Ruth Stiller, a young woman who had robbed a bank almost twenty years ago. After that she'd taken her spoils and fled from the police across three different states. Apparently the robbery had been more of a spontaneous idea, that fact making her escape more difficult.

"What do you think?"

Sydney's voice entered her thoughts. Miss Parker tried to focus upon Ruth, to get a feeling for her situation as well as she could, but she still refused to open herself up.

"I'm beginning to berate myself. At the same time I'm desperately trying to find a way out of this whole mess. The police cars are closing in! I'm in panic now. I must get out of here. The car's no longer safe."

"What are you doing now?"

After having left the car Ruth had run to a little restaurant, taking several people hostage. For that she'd used the gun that she'd taken off the old safety guard back at the bank. Bit by bit the police had managed to talk her into letting all but two of the hostages go.

"Why don't you let the last two hostages go, too?"

"I'll still need them. If I let them go the police will shoot me. They must stay with me but I won't do them any harm."

"Why do you believe that the police will shoot you if you release your hostages?"

"It's... it's just a feeling."

"Miss Parker, concentrate!"

"Damnit, Sydney, I am concentrated! That's what I'm feeling right now - what she was feeling."

Inwardly she wondered if that was true. Maybe she was only feeling what she believed Ruth must have been feeling. She concentrated on breathing deeply and regularly, just like Sydney had shown her. If she didn't manage to break through the last barrier inside of her she wouldn't be able to find a connection to Ruth.

"What's happening now?"

She took the two bags which resembled the ones in which Ruth had transported her spoils. Out of its own volition her look wandered to the big mirror hanging behind the counter. Something blue flashed in it for a brief moment - and then Miss Parker suddenly lost control. For a split second she stopped being herself and became Ruth. She saw what Ruth had seen, felt what Ruth had felt, knew what Ruth had known.

An unbelievable feeling of panic took hold of her. Led by an inner voice she looked into one of the bags. Instead of money she saw some documents in it. Why had she been given these? She had only demanded the contents of the safe...

Suddenly the sound of a gun being fired broke the silence. One of the hostages screamed. The other hostage had sunk down, lifeless, hit by a lethal bullet. Stunned, Ruth stared down at her gun. Then the door flew open and armed cops stormed into the restaurant. Ruth knew what was going to happen - she had known it all along. She screamed as the first bullets hit her, until a hit right in the head silenced her forever.


Miss Parker screamed and screamed. Sydney was kneeling beside her on the floor, helpless, trying to calm her. Damn, he should have seen it coming! She hadn't reacted to his last questions, then, suddenly, her posture had changed. Completely stunned Sydney had observed the same miracle he'd experienced with Jarod, but the following events had been different from what he'd expected.

At first it hadn't seemed at all as if Miss Parker were letting herself get into the simulation. True, she had tried, but she simply couldn't give up her distance. Sydney had expected that. But now it almost looked like she really was a pretender.

"Miss Parker!"

He had to get through to her as soon as possible or else he might lose her. The same thing had almost happened to Jarod twice. Miss Parker had got too deep into the sim and now it was hard for her to find back into reality. Sydney had to act fast if he didn't want her to take serious harm.

"Miss Parker, listen to my voice. It's over. Calm down."

With growing worry he realized that his efforts showed no success at all. A strong fear took hold of him. He gripped her by the shoulders.

"Miss Parker!"

While calling her name he shook her, gently at first, then harder until he suddenly realized that she had stopped to scream.


Her voice was rough after the overtaxing and shaking slightly.

"Miss Parker, thank God", Sydney said with relief and pulled her into a short embrace. Then he released her, watching her closely. "How do you feel?"

"Ready for an appointment with my shrink, I'd say", she replied, smiling ever so slightly.

He grinned but quickly sobered.

"What's happened?"

"Syd, it was unbelievable. For a moment, just briefly, I was Ruth. I mean, I didn't only feel like being her - I really was her."

"Mhm, it almost looks like you really had the pretender-gene."

Miss Parker breathed out audibly, and suddenly Sydney knew that she hadn't really expected this. She gently shook her head, then, all of a sudden, her eyes narrowed.

"They killed her!"

"Whom?" Sydney asked with some surprise.

"Ruth of course. My god, Sydney, the poor girl."

He watched her, astonished. Her compassion surprised him just as much as the information she had just given him.

"Who killed her?"

"The FBI. So that's why the government suddenly didn't want us to do the sim anymore. When I looked into the mirror I saw something blue - an FBI jacket. There was no money in the bags but documents. Some of them had FBI stamps on them. Of course, where else would explosive documents be safer than in the deposit boxes of some provincial bank which only an idiot would try to rob?"

"And when Ruth asked the clerk to give her the contents of the safe..."

"...he gave her the documents, right. He probably didn't even know what he gave away. Ruth didn't kill the hostage. It was one of the FBI's marksmen. They knew for sure how the police would react to a dead hostage."

"So the government only wanted us to find out if Ruth knew what she was doing, if somebody had hired her."

"They must have noticed their mistake themselves and then of course they tried everything to hush it up. And all of that just for a few documents. Somehow that reminds me of the Centre."

Miss Parker sighed, and Sydney felt with her. He held out his hand to her.

"Come on, we'd better returned to my office before someone starts missing us."


Sydney's office

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

04:44 pm

Miss Parker sat on the couch in Sydney's office, trying to regain control of her emotions. The events down in simlab had shaken her deeply. She sensed that there would be a change. When she looked up she encountered Sydney's gaze. He sat behind his desk, observing her attentively.

"How do you feel, Miss Parker?"

"Always the psychiatrist, aren't you?" she asked, glad that he really seemed to care about her. But she needed some more time to digest her recent experiences. So she decided to divert Sydney's attention by talking about his favorite subject. "Has your work with Jarod been so... unusual as well?"

Of course he saw through her maneuver, still he went into it. His frowning told her that his attention wasn't really focused upon Jarod when he answered her question.

"Yes, it was. But I've rarely seen him react as strongly to a sim as you did. That only happened when the sim reminded him of his own situation."

Miss Parker raised a brow, slightly amused.

"I'm not planning on robbing a bank or taking hostages."

"That's not what I said. Miss Parker, you should really talk to me about all this. It's a drastic event that could change a lot in your life. I..."

A soft knock at the door interrupted him. Annoyed, he turned to face the door.


The door opened, and Lyle entered.

"Ah, here you are. Hello, sis. Why are you so touchy, Sydney?"

"I am not touchy. Is there anything I can do for you?"

His tone made clear that he thought Lyle to be an unwelcome interruption. Miss Parker suppressed a smile.

"I've been searching the two of you for a while. Broots is looking for you, Sydney. And Dad wants to see us, Parker."

She exchanged a long look with Sydney, then rose.

"We'll finish this later, okay, Sydney?"

He nodded slowly.

"Alright, but don't forget it."

"I won't", she promised. "Thanks for your help."

"You're welcome, Miss Parker."

If he was surprised he didn't let it show. She gave him a warm smile, leaving his office to follow Lyle.


Tech room

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

07:07 pm

Miss Parker entered the small room that had served as headquarters and meeting place for her and her team during their search for Jarod for the last two and a half years. Broots sat in front of his computer screen, highly concentrated, just turning around briefly when he heard her coming. Sydney smiled as he saw her.

"Ah, Miss Parker. That was a long talk you had with your father."

"No, Daddy made it brief, but I had to take care of something else. Any news, Broots?"

The technician winced when she addressed him. She gently shook her head.

"N-no, Miss Parker. Up to now we haven't heard a thing from Jarod, and we still have no lead on him."

"Alright, go on. Since there are no urgent matters, I'll be going home now."

Sydney looked as though he wanted to say something but thought better of it and simply nodded.

"Good night, Miss Parker. See you tomorrow."

"Night, Syd, Broots."

Almost reluctantly Miss Parker left the room, wishing she could at least tell Sydney about her plans.


Miss Parker's house

431 Mountain Spring Road

Blue Cove, Delaware

11:11 pm

For the last time she checked her bag. When she was sure she hadn't forgotten anything she looked around the house a final time. Finally she took her bag and went outside. Carefully she locked the door before getting in her car and on the long way to the airport.

During the ride her thoughts mainly revolved around the events of this day. Most of all she thought about the talk she'd had with her father. It wasn't what he'd said but what she'd seen in his office that gripped her attention.

When she and Lyle had entered the office their father had obviously been busy reading something. As soon as he'd noticed them, he'd closed the file lying on his desk. But he'd forgotten a single sheet. Miss Parker had been able to take a brief but informative look at it, before her father had taken care of that sheet as well.

The document had been issued by the Tower, falling under the highest security permission. She'd only learned two things from the sheet, but that had been enough. It had been a name and a country. Apparently the Centre had managed to locate Jarod's father in Great Britain.

In spite of her promise to let the matter rest, Miss Parker now planned to go to Great Britain. But it was no longer revenge she was after. All she wanted were some answers, and she definitely wouldn't get these from a dead man.


Heathrow Airport

London, England

The next day

01:25 am

Miss Parker stretched herself excessively, after finally having left the plane. To her surprise the British weather showed its best side, welcoming her with bright sunlight. Her mood improved immediately. Generously she endured all formalities, then called a cab and eventually reached her hotel. She had to make up for some hours of sleep before she could start her inquiries.


Hotel room

Four Seasons

London, England

04:35 pm

The air condition was humming softly as Miss Parker lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Every now and then her eyes closed but she reopened them every time after just a few instants. There was no way she was going to risk to fall asleep again.

The memory of the nightmare from which she'd woken up covered in sweat still was very vivid. She had dreamed of Ruth. The thing that haunted her most about it was that her dream hadn't had anything to do with the sim. In her dream she'd seen things that only could have come from Ruth Stiller. But how was that possible?

Right after waking up she'd needed a while to find back to reality. This experience had been somewhat frightening and she could do very well without ever repeating it.

After a short shower she'd dressed and laid back on the bed, lost in her musings. Now she regretted not having had any further opportunity to talk to Sydney about the sim. As it was now, she would have to deal with the effects of it all on her own.

Miss Parker glanced at the watch, then she grimaced angrily. She had to stop this brooding. It was absolutely no use to waste her time like this. Determined she rose and walked over to the table where her laptop stood. With a short glance she checked on the silver DSA-case standing next to the closet. A slight smile lit up her features for an instant. Back at the Centre some people probably wouldn't be all that thrilled that she took it with her but that was not her problem.

A little bit calmer she sat down at the table, switching the computer on. If she wanted to anticipate the Centre she had to bring her inquiries to a successful end as soon as possible. How did Jarod do this?

Miss Parker shook her head. She had to find her own way of doing this. Whatever had enabled her to do the sim was different from Jarod's talents, that she was sure of.



Four Seasons

London, England

08:06 pm

The hotel's dining-room was elegantly furnished. At this time of the day there were lots of other guests yet Miss Parker hadn't had any difficulties in getting a table. The head waiter hadn't only succumbed to her charm but also to the generous tip she'd given him in advance.

Usually she enjoyed drawing the attention of most men in the room to her but today she was too preoccupied with her thoughts.

The unexpected problems she'd encountered during her sleep still upset her. Slowly she realized that Sydney had been right. Her life was really changing - and so was she.

Sydney had made the assumption that she'd got the pretender-gene. Maybe it had been activated during the sim, now enabling her to use her unique talents.

Up to now she had often stood in her own way. It had always been hard on her to rely on her feelings but yesterday she had done just that. For the first time in many years she had given up her distance. Because of that she now had the chance to develop new skills. And to finally lead a normal life - no matter how absurd this seemed to be.


Three weeks later

Tech room

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

08:57 am

"Good morning, Broots. Anything on Miss Parker yet?"

Broots turned to face him, worry evident in his face.

"Morning, Sydney. No, nothing yet. I'm sorry."

Sydney frowned.

"I don't like that. No one's been seeing her or even hearing about her for more than three weeks now. Mr. Broots, I think it's time for us to do something."

"Uh, surely. But what?"

"We'll meet at her house tonight. In the meantime I'll talk to her father."


Mr. Parker's office

The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

09:20 am

"Sydney, is there anything I can do for you?"

Mr. Parker looked up from his heavy desk only for an instant. His tone made clear that the last thing he wanted to do was waste his time on Sydney's matters. Sydney felt an anger arise in him that was usually reserved for Raines. He held back this emotion knowing that harsh words wouldn't do any good with Mr. Parker.

"I'm just here to ask you if you have any news about your daughter", he replied, struggling for an easy tone.

"I'm sure that she is perfectly well", Mr. Parker responded calmly, but with a warning edge to his voice. He looked at Sydney, a mixture of cold and disinterest in his gaze. He doesn't know where she is either, Sydney suddenly thought. And that infuriates him. The omniscient Mr. Parker has been betrayed by his own daughter.

A short feeling of triumph accompanied this realization but was quickly replaced by worry. More than anything else Sydney wanted to tell this self-complacent old idiot what he thought of him and his upbringing methods but that would have been to no avail. Besides he hoped that Miss Parker had finally turned her back on the Centre and her father. If that was the case Sydney would only have to take care of Jarod before he could leave this place, too.

"Good. In case you hear anything from her, please let me know, okay?"


With that Mr. Parker returned his attention to the papers on his desk, letting Sydney know that he was discharged. Sydney nodded pensively and walked over to the door. He'd surely be the last person Parker would inform about news on his daughter. So much for that.


Scofield airfield

Scofield, GB

10:00 am

There was hardly any action on the small airfield. Miss Parker determinedly walked over to one of the hangars where a middle-aged man was working on a small airplane.

She held her breath. This had to be him. Her inquiries had led her here. Fortunately she'd been faster than the Centre. While bridging the last meters between them she took off her sunglasses. Two meters behind the man she finally stopped.


Surprised he straightened, bumping his head against one of the wings.

"Ouch, dammit!" he cursed while turning around. When he saw her he froze in his movement, staring at her unbelievingly.

"I see you knew my mother, Major", Miss Parker said softly, observing him more closely. He hardly resembled Jarod. His hair was fairer, his face more angular, and his eyes shining in a bright blue. She liked him immediately and knew that she could trust her feeling. This man hadn't killed her mother.

"You are Catherine's daughter?"


"My god. It's been such a long time..."

The major sat down on a large box.

"Major, I..."

"No one called me that in quite some time, you know", he said, looking at her with a slight smile. Miss Parker returned the smile, stretching her hand out to him.

"I am... Marine Parker", she introduced herself. It simply seemed appropriate for Jarod's father to know her name.

He took her hand.

"And my name's Charles, but I guess you already knew that. Your mother used to call me Charley."


His smile deepened.

"You know, you even sound like her."

"Thank you", Miss Parker said. She was always happy to hear someone compare her to her mother. "I've been searching for you for a long time."

Charles nodded thoughtfully.

"Actually I've never thought I'd see you again. But I have to admit that I'm glad you're here."

"You've met me before?" she asked, completely surprised.

"Oh, yes! Of course you don't remember. You were so young back then. That was before everything began to change..."

He fell silent and Miss Parker could see the pleasant memories being replaced by unpleasant ones. After a short moment he steadied himself.

"You've probably come a long way to see me. Come on, I've got some cold drinks in my office."

She followed him through the small hangar to his office and sat down. Paying regard to her ulcer she decided to have a mineral water - though she would have rather had something stronger.

"Does the name Fenigore ring a bell?" she wanted to know after a while.

The expression on his face said everything.

"You bet it does. Is this bastard still alive?"

Miss Parker slowly let out her breath. Apparently her assumption had been right and Fenigore had betrayed her mother.

"Yes, but it's only a matter of time I guess. The Centre brainwashed him. But I was able to get some information from him beforehand."

Charles shook his head in regret.

"I'm afraid your source is not very reliable. May I ask what he told you?"

"All I wanted to know from him was the name of my mother's murderer. He said she's been killed by Jarod's father." She smiled faintly. "But now I've got reason to doubt his integrity."

The major snorted approvingly.

"He betrayed your mother. Fenigore betrayed all of us, to be more precise. The Centre paid him."

Miss Parker remained silent for a moment, then asked the question that occupied her more than anything else.

"Major, do you know who killed my mother?"

He looked her straight in the eye, and his open glance was answer enough for her.

"I'm sorry, no. When it happened I had already left the States. I swear to you, if only I'd had an idea of the serious danger she was in I never would have left. Catherine insisted on us getting safe. She wanted to rescue the last children all on her own."

Charles stared down on the ground. Miss Parker walked over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

"That's okay. You probably couldn't have changed anything. At least you were able to save your own life."

When he looked up to her she realized that he hesitated to accept her comfort. Yet he seemed to be grateful for her trying.

"I always used to reproach myself with that."

"It wasn't your fault", Miss Parker reassured him with determination. After a short pause she added: "You aren't Jarod's biological father."

"No. We - my wife and me - adopted him when he was baby."

"Fenigore said that Jarod's father killed my mother. I believe that is true. Do you know his biological father?"

Charles shook his head.

"No. I've never tried to find out his name. It never seemed to be important."

Miss Parker sighed disappointedly. This time it was Charles putting his hand on her arm in a comforting gesture.

"Don't be disappointed. I will help you as well as I can. When I heard of Catherine's death I promised myself to settle up with her killer one day. It seems that day has finally come."

Gratitude filled her as she smiled at him, briefly squeezing his hand.

"Thank you, major."

"I'll be glad to do that for you. And please do call me Charley. You used to as a little child." He chuckled. "Well, let's say you tried."

The genuine affection in his eyes surprised her, but at the same time it made her feel a warmth she'd been missing for a long time.

"I wish I could remember that", she said quietly and with genuine regret.

Charles pulled an old crumpled picture out of a pocket in his shirt. Smiling expectantly he handed it over to her.

"Maybe you'll recognize someone..." he said with a wink.

Cautiously she took the picture from him. It was on old black and white photograph showing three persons. Miss Parker immediately identified the woman in the middle as her mother. The man to her right had to be Charles and the man on her other side looked like...

"Is that Sydney?" she asked with surprise, but the major only shook his head.

"No, but it was a close guess."

"Jacob", she whispered. This time Charles nodded.

"Back then he used to work closely together with us. Until this terrible accident happened and he fell into a coma."

Miss Parker slightly cocked her head while watching Sydney's twin brother.

"He's dead. Jacob died last year. But before he died he briefly awoke from his coma so that Sydney could finally find some piece."

The major nodded sadly.

"I know. In spite of my exile I try to keep informed about the events back in the States. Especially if they involve old friends of mine."

"Who took this picture?" Miss Parker asked to divert Charles' attention from this painful subject for a while.

"Oh, it was Fenigore. He didn't want to be on it. Thinking back to it I almost believe he didn't want to leave any proof of his connection to us", Charles explained, more than just a trace of bitterness coloring his voice.

Miss Parker briefly looked up to him to make sure he was alright, then refocused her attention upon the picture. She was of course especially interested in her mother. There was no aura of sadness surrounding Catherine on this picture unlike most of the others Miss Parker had seen. Her eyes lacked the usual seriousness and desperation.

"She almost looks happy", Miss Parker murmured pensively.

"Because she was", Charles assured her. "The picture was taken in May."

She knew immediately what he was up to.

"After her visit to Ben Miller."

"You know of that?"

"Yes, but to be honest... I'm a little surprised that you know, too."

Charles looked at her openly.

"We hardly kept any secrets from each other. In this special case that would have hardly been possible, anyway. The difference in her mood when she returned from Maine was unmistakable. Though she did try to hide it. You know", Charles said smiling, "we almost were something like the three musketeers. You don't find a friendship like that very often in your life."

"I'd love to hear more about that", Miss Parker replied, her voice almost sounding yearning. "I know so little about my mother, about who she really was."

"I'll be glad to tell you more, Miss Parker. But there's one thing I can already tell you right now. You are very much like her. Forgive my bluntness, but it's a good thing you don't take after your father, even though he brought you up."

Miss Parker winced hardly noticeable.

"You barely know me", she reminded him.

"But I really do know human nature. My knowledge only failed me once, and I'm absolutely sure about you."

"Thank you so much, Charley."

He smiled at her using his nickname.

"Why don't you come over to my place for dinner tonight? Then I'll tell you everything about your mother you want to know."

"That sounds wonderful."

"So that's a fix. I'll expect you at seven. You already know my address, don't you?" he answered with another wink. She laughed and didn't even try to deny his assumption.

"See you tonight", she said warmly.

"I'm looking forward to it", he replied, taking her hand to say goodbye. When Miss Parker left the airfield a moment later she felt better than she had in a long time.


Miss Parker's house

431 Mountain Spring Road

Blue Cove, Delaware

06:20 pm

"I don't know, Syd. We can't break into her house just like that. If she ever learns about that she'll kill us."

"Firstly she wouldn't kill us for worrying about her. Secondly we simply won't tell her about it. Thirdly", Sydney said calmly, drawing something out of his pocket, "I've got a key to the house. So we're not breaking in." And fourthly, Sydney added in thought, Mr. Parker hasn't been much of a help.

Broots didn't seem to be convinced, raising his eyebrows in surprise when he saw the key.

"She gave you the key to her house?" he asked incredulously.

Sydney already worked on the lock as he answered.

"I didn't say that. This key belonged to Catherine to be precise. It's not my fault that Miss Parker never had the lock replaced. On the other hand that comes in quite handy now. That's it - after you."

The door swung open, and Sydney pointed inside, smiling invitingly. With a sigh Broots went past him, entering Miss Parker's house. Behind him Sydney closed the door again, then turned on the lights.

"Have you ever been here?" he asked Broots. The technician only shook his head, curiously looking around.

"No", Broots said after a short moment, turning to face Sydney. "Uh, what are we looking for?"

Sydney's gaze wandered through the living room, inspecting it closely, and he shook his head ever so slightly.

"I don't know, Mr. Broots. We're looking for something unusual that might tell us where Miss Parker went. Traces, hints... Basically the same things we're always looking for in Jarod's lairs. Just keep your eyes open, alright?"

"Okay. Syd, do you think anything happened to her? I mean what if the Centre... But Mr. Parker would never let that happen, would he? She is his daughter after all."

Sydney shot him a short, pensive glance.

"Yes, she is. But I keep asking myself if he remembers that."


Broots tried to get rid of the uneasy feeling he'd had ever since Sydney and he had entered Miss Parker's house. No matter what Sydney said Miss Parker wouldn't be happy at all if she knew they were here. He felt like a burglar, wincing at any unexpected sound.

With a sigh he stopped in the hall, right in front of a mirror. After having taken a few deep breaths he became a little calmer. Then, suddenly, he heard a noise from the kitchen and stumbled one step backwards.

"Sydney?" he asked in a low voice.

He remembered that Sydney still was in the living room and couldn't have possibly gone to another part of the house without getting past him. But what had he heard from the kitchen then? Had the Centre sent someone here?

Frantically Broots looked for something he could use for defending himself, but he couldn't find anything. Backwards he went back to the living room, always keeping an eye on the kitchen door.

"Sydney?" he asked again, this time merely whispering.

"What is it, Broots?"

Broots spun around, suppressing a startled cry, when all of a sudden Sydney appeared behind him.

"Oh god, Sydney. I... I think there's someone in Miss Parker's kitchen."

"Are you sure?"

"Well, I only heard some noises", Broots admitted, but Sydney smiled leniently.

"We should have a look anyway."

"Uhm, alright."


Sydney went into the hall, stopping for a moment to listen closely. Eventually he shrugged his shoulders to indicate he hadn't heard anything. Broots made a face, yet followed the older man. In front of the kitchen door they stopped again.

"Can you hear anything?" Broots whispered so softly that Sydney could barely understand him.

"No, nothing. It will be best to just take a look."

Without waiting for an answer Sydney opened the door slightly. There was light inside, so Broots must have been right, cause none of them had been in the kitchen yet. Sydney took a deep breath, then opened the door entirely. There was indeed someone else in the house, and Sydney realized with relief that he knew the other 'burglar'.

"Hello, Jarod", he said, just as the pretender turned into his direction. Slight surprise was evident in Jarod's face, besides he seemed to be angry. "Everything's alright, Broots. Jarod's here", he added into Broots' direction, who was still waiting on the other side of the door.

Broots stuck his head into the kitchen, obviously relieved as well.

"Hello, Sydney. Mr. Broots."

"H-hello", Broots replied, still feeling slightly uncomfortable in Jarod's presence. "Uhm, I'll have another look around the house, okay?"

He didn't wait for an answer, but left Sydney and Jarod alone. Jarod leant against the fridge, watching Sydney.

"So, what are you two doing here?", he then asked, and Sydney was almost sure now that Jarod was angry about something.

"I could ask you the very same thing", Sydney responded instead of answering Jarod's question.

"Miss Parker seems to have disappeared, so I wanted to take this opportunity and have a good look at everything."

Sydney guessed that this explanation was only halfway true.

"Broots and I were searching for any clues that might tell us where she is - or why she's gone. Did you find anything, Jarod?"

The pretender made a disparaging sound.

"If there existed any clues, they're no longer here."

Sorrow and confusion flashed over Jarod's face for an instant. "At first I thought Miss Parker had left the Centre - until I came here today. Unfortunately I wasn't the first one to have this idea. A short while ago a team of cleaners was here. Either they were getting rid of clues or searching for them just like us."

Sydney took a deep breath.

"Do you believe the Centre..."

"No", Jarod answered immediately. "I'm sure that no one at the Centre knows where she is. The question is what Miss Parker is up to. I could follow her trace to Great Britain, London to be more precise. But two weeks ago I lost her. She made a damn good job of blurring her traces.

"Is that all you could find out?"

"Nothing concrete up to now, just a few ideas. Everything will become clearer once Miss Parker returns."

"If she returns", Sydney murmured. Jarod looked at him rather surprised.

"When she returns", he then said with determination.

"What makes you so sure?"

"Just call it a feeling."

Sydney closely observed his former protégé.

"What's wrong, Jarod? Something's bothering you."

Jarod sighed.

"I don't wanna talk about it, alright? It just would make everything even more difficult."

He steadily returned Sydney's gaze, but just for an instant before he turned and walked over to the backdoor.

"I'll be leaving now. There's no more to find here. You should leave as well. Good night, Syd."

Without a further word Jarod opened the door, went outside and was swallowed by the beginning darkness only instants later. Sydney gazed after him, feeling worried and confused. Jarod's behavior was inexplicable to him at the moment. He hoped that Jarod would make up his mind and talk to him after all.

Eventually Sydney closed the door and left the kitchen to search Broots. If Jarod was right they were only wasting their time here. On the other hand that might be better than just sit and wait.


Langton Cottage

Scofield, GB

06:55 pm

"Miss Parker, you're early", Major Charles said laughingly as he opened the door for her.

"Oh, but just five minutes. I don't like to be late", she replied with a smile. Charles invited her in, and she followed him into his house which mirrored his friendly character clearly visible to the outside.

"You look really adorable, if you'll allow me to say that."

"Thank you."

In spite of his opposite declarations the major had already finished all preparations and served a delicious meal. During dinner their conversation was mainly about superficial issues like the astonishingly good weather and some of the things Miss Parker had encountered during her previous stay in England.

"That was really delicious", Miss Parker complimented after they had finished their desserts. "I didn't expect you to be such a talented cook to be honest."

"Thanks a lot. Unfortunately I rarely have guests to test my cooking skills on. Come on, we'll be more comfortable in the living room. There we can have a nice little talk."

She helped him to clear the table, then followed him into the living room.

"For how much longer do you plan to stay in England, Miss Parker?" Charles wanted to know.

"Just a few more days. It's about time for me to get back to the States."

"I thought so. That's a pity. I hoped you'd stay for a little longer."

"It's not that I don't want to... But back home there surely is a big pile of work waiting for me", she said with a regretful sigh.

He smiled compassionately, then leaned forward a bit.

"You mentioned Jarod this morning..."

"You surely want to know how he's doing. I'm sorry, I should have thought of it earlier."

"No need to apologize. But I'm really curious. It's been a long time since I've last seen him."

Miss Parker said nothing. She had no idea where to begin. Suddenly she felt like a betrayer. After all she was hunting Jarod, as an employee of the Centre. Feeling guilty she looked down, before raising her head determinedly to encounter the major's understanding gaze.

"I told you this morning that you barely know me", she finally started. "There was a reason for doing that. You see, I... am working for the Centre."

The friendly expression on the major's face didn't falter. His eyes even seemed to smile at her slightly friendlier than before.

"I know", he answered simply.

Puzzled, she looked at him.

"I've told you I try to stay informed."

He leaned forward, gently touching her hand.

"And now I know that I was right this morning. You are so much like your mother."

"But...", she began, her voice eventually trailing off. "What do you know?" she then asked softly.

"Enough. I've observed Jarod's development as closely as I could. The same goes for you. I'd like to tell you something: I understand you. And I'm not blaming you for anything. Your not responsible for your father, and in spite of all his faults you grew up to be a remarkable young woman you're mother would have been more than proud of."

He paused for an instant, gently squeezing her hand.

"Granted, Catherine and I had a different future in mind for our children but you still exceeded all her expectations."

Miss Parker didn't know what to say. Tears were burning in her eyes.

"During the past three years I've been chasing Jarod for the Centre, ever since he managed to escape."

"But you've never brought him back, though you could have more than once."

She shook her head. Charles increased the pressure of his hand on hers.

"Miss Parker, don't reproach yourself with this. You are a victim of your past, just like Jarod. What's most important is that you've finally freed yourself from it. Believe me, you're on your way back to yourself; I can see that in your eyes."

"I don't know what to say. Thank you, Charley", she whispered.

"You're very welcome. Why don't you tell me something about Jarod", he suggested. She laughed softly.

"The last time I saw him he was working as a professor at a college. He's enjoying his life in freedom very much and is getting along rather fine considering the circumstances he grew up under. But to be honest... We don't get along very well."

"Perhaps you simply haven't had any chance to do so, yet. When you were kids you were inseparable."

"Hard to imagine", Miss Parker said skeptically, and Charles chuckled softly. "May I asked you something?"

"Sure, go on."

"Why didn't you stay with your family? With your wife and Jarod's sister?"

He sighed heavily.

"For security reasons. I didn't want to put them in danger. The Centre was only interested in me, not in them. It was incredibly hard on me to leave them behind, but it was the best thing for them. I only wish I had been able to keep in closer contact to them. Back then everything had to happen very fast. Your mother wanted to rescue Jarod and then go to Europe with you, but as you know that never happened."

Miss Parker nodded.

"I'm sorry."

A smile drove the sadness from his face.

"Don't be. None of it can be changed anymore. But you came here to hear about your mother and the past."


The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

SL 7


"Charley, you're daydreaming again."

Catherine's gentle, amused voice startled him out of his thoughts. Feeling guilty he looked up at her.

"I was just thinking", he claimed weakly. She gave him one of her unique smiles, looking at him with an amused sparkle in her eyes.

"Of course you were", she then replied. He laughed softly, happy to hear her join him. Her laughter was at least as pleasant as her smile, but lately he'd been severely missing both.

"Ah, the first happy faces I see today", Jacob said as he entered the room. With a heavy sigh he sank down on one of the chairs. At once the worried expression returned to Catherine's face.

"Is everything alright, Jacob?" she asked with concern. Jacob tried to smile reassuringly.

"Oh, it's just Sydney. I wish he would finally listen to me but he simply refuses to do so."

"Just give him some more time", Catherine admonished calmly. "Sooner or later he will realize what's happening here and then he'll make the right decision."

This time Jacob's smile came from the heart.

"I wish I had some of your patience." Curiously he looked around. "Where's Fenigore? He said he'd come, didn't he?"

Catherine shook her head.

"Fenigore has something else to do. It'll only be the three of us tonight."

Charles didn't even try to hide his relief. He'd never made his dislike for Fenigore a secret but for Catherine's sake he worked together with him. Jacob slightly cocked his head.

"Then let's get straight to the point. For once I've got good news. As far as I know Raines doesn't have any new projects at the moment, leaving us some time on our own to make some plans - or whatever."

Though Charles didn't completely share Jacob's optimism, he still was glad about this development. They all desperately needed some leisure time. A short glance at Catherine told him that she was happy about the positive news as well, yet the concern hadn't vanished completely from her features. Charles understood her all too well.

"As I know Raines he won't keep quiet for long", he said thoughtfully. "But we should use the extra time at hand. Some free time won't hurt us. How about leaving to think about everything and then meeting again in two days?"

Jacob nodded at once.

"Sounds great. Sydney will skin me alive if I let him work alone on yet another experiment."

"Catherine?" Charles asked in a low voice. This time she was the one whose thoughts were miles away. When she looked at him the look in her eyes immediately told him who she'd been thinking about.

"Your daughter will surely be very happy to spend a whole day with you", he said gently. He could see how much she was looking forward to this opportunity, but there was also compassion in her eyes. In a reassuring gesture he put his hand on her arm. "It's alright", he then said softly. She shook her head.

"No, it's not", she replied sadly. The fact that he didn't have the chance to spend a day with his son seemed to make her just as sad as him. But then her face lit up a bit. "Charles, please accompany us tomorrow. I know it's not the same, but..."

"Are you sure?" Charles made sure, though he already knew her answer. She nodded, the hint of a smile in her eyes. That alone was enough to break any resistance in him. "Then it will be my pleasure", he answered softly.

On the other side of the table Jacob rose.

"I'll get back to work now", he announced. "Otherwise Sydney might end up sending a search party after me."

Catherine rose as well.

"I'll accompany you, Jacob. There's something about which I'd like to talk to Sydney. Do you think he'll be able to spare some time?"

Jacob chuckled.

"For you always, Catherine. Take care, Charley. See you in two days."

"Until then, Jacob. And we'll be meeting tomorrow, Catherine."

"I'm looking forward to it, Charley", she assured him with a smile. She gently touched his shoulder in farewell, then left the room together with Jacob. Charles watched them go, wondering what Catherine might be up to. He knew this particular expression in her eyes perfectly well, but for now it seemed he had no other choice but wait.


The Centre

Blue Cove, Delaware

SL 7


Charles sat impatiently in the little room that the small group around Catherine Parker used as a meeting place. For the hundredth time he wondered why on earth she wanted to meet him here. Yesterday he had of course assumed that they'd spend the day outside the Centre, especially since Catherine's little daughter would accompany them.

When the door finally opened Charles looked up in expectation. But it wasn't Catherine who entered the room first. The sweetest little girl that he'd ever seen cautiously came down the few steps, then smiled at him. She had her mother's smile, and Charles couldn't help but return it.

"Hello, Marine", he said softly. Her smile deepened when she heard her name.

"Hello", the little girl replied cheerfully. Charles thought for a moment. She had to be about four years old now. One year younger than Jarod, he thought sorrowfully, but his chagrin vanished when he looked at the beaming little face of Catherine's daughter. Suddenly he wondered what she would be like as a young woman. Surely at least equally as beautiful and charming as her mother... Already now she managed effortlessly to take every heart by storm.

"Marine?" Catherine stuck her head into the room, smiling with relief at the sight of her daughter. The girl immediately turned her head into her direction.

"Mama", she said happily and went to meet her mother in order to be embraced. Charles held his breath as he saw the happy, loving expression on Catherine's face while she was holding her daughter in her arms. She seemed reluctant to let go of her daughter again. Eventually she came over to Charles and sat down next to him at the table.

"Hello, Charley", she greeted him. "She's so full of energy. Besides she's now getting into the phase where she wants to explore literally everything. Sometimes I can hardly keep up with her pace", Catherine explained laughingly, lovingly observing her daughter exploring the room. Charles smiled. He was glad to see her so happy.

"Then she resembles her mother", he responded, but she shook her head smilingly.

"It's way too early to say that."

"Oh, I don't know", Charles said ambiguously. A knock at the door hindered him from saying more. Startled, he looked up, but Catherine put an assuring hand on his arm.

"It's Sydney", she explained and rose to go to the door. She opened it slowly.

"Hello, Sydney."

"I'm still not sure that I'm doing the right thing, Catherine", Sydney replied instead of a greeting. "Neither your husband nor Dr. Raines would be very glad if they knew about this."

"Don't you worry about that, Sydney. You're doing the right thing, believe me. Thank you so much."

"I'll pick him up in an hour", Jacob's twin brother made clear. "And if I get the feeling that all this harms him in any way it won't happen again."

"Thank you, Sydney", Catherine repeated. "This will do him no harm, you'll see."

"One hour, Catherine", he reminded her, stepping back from the door.

Charles wondered what was going on. He craned his neck in order to see something but Catherine stood in his sight. She bent down.

"Hello, Jarod", she then said and Charles thought his heart would stop beating any second now. Had he really just heard this? Up to now he'd never managed to see his son, no matter how hard he'd tried. Catherine straightened again and stepped aside.

Petrified Charles stared at the boy who stood in the doorway and looked down into the room undecidedly. When he remained motionless, Catherine gently touched him at the shoulders.

"Here's someone who'd like to see you", she said softly.

"Jarod", Charles whispered when he finally regained control over his voice. He knew that it was impossible for Jarod to remember him, but at the moment that was not important. Together with Catherine he came down the steps, stopping in front of Charles. His dark eyes looked up at him questioningly.

Without thinking about it, Charles kneeled down and embraced his son. He felt tears running down his face but it didn't matter to him. All that counted in this moment was Jarod. With a deep feeling of gratitude Charles looked up into Catherine's eyes.

"Thank you", he whispered. She was crying as well but they were tears of joy in spite of her knowing that this meeting wouldn't last long.

Reluctantly Charles released Jarod and came to a decision. He wouldn't tell him that he was his father. That would only mean additional hurt for Jarod. Jarod was still looking at him inquiringly.

"Who are you?" he finally wanted to know.

Charles swallowed but held on to his decision.

"My name is Charles. I... am a friend", he managed to utter. For a moment Jarod seemed to think about that, then he nodded and smiled. There was genuine trust in his gaze and Charles promised himself never to disappoint this trust.

"Mama", Catherine's little daughter suddenly said with an urgency that made Charles smile. Marine stood next to her mother, briefly tugging at her skirt to get her attention. The try was an immediate success, and Catherine lifted her little daughter up on her arm. Jarod watched the scene completely fascinated.

"What's it, my heart?" Catherine asked. But Marine had apparently already obtained her goal, smiling contentedly and kissing her mother on the cheek. Catherine chuckled. "Oh, I see." She kissed her daughter on the forehead, hugged her tightly and then put her back on the ground. The girl chuckled with joy, then all of a sudden turned towards Jarod to look at him with her big blue eyes.

"Hi", she then said, giving him her irresistible smile. As could be expected, Jarod returned her smile. Charles realized that for the first time since he'd arrived his son had lost his unnatural seriousness and looked like a completely normal child.

"Hi", Jarod replied almost timidly and suddenly Charles was reminded of the day when he had met Catherine for the first time. Just like her mother Marine managed easily to disperse any feeling of shyness. A single glance was all it took for her. Next thing she grabbed Jarod by the arm and pulled him away with her to show him the contents of the bag she'd brought with her.

With some amusement Catherine observed the events and then looked at Charles who felt happier than he had in years. He took her hand, thanking her again. She shook her head ever so slightly.

"I wish there was more I could do for you", she said softly. Charles squeezed her hand.

"Now stop it, Catherine. You made me very happy today. And now let's enjoy our day off."

He took a seat next to her at the table, and for a while they just sat in silence and watched the children.

"Just look at them", Charles said. Fascinated, he watched Marine explaining something to her new friend. Jarod listened to her, open-mouthed, his gaze fixed upon her eyes.

"They're almost like siblings", Catherine whispered back. "I hope they'll be just as happy when they're grown."

"I'm sure they'll be", Charles assured her with determination. "We'll take care of that. And if we don't manage to, they'll do it themselves."

The hour was over way too fast. When Sydney came back to pick up Jarod Charles found it hard to accept. He said goodbye to Jarod who seemed to take their parting just as hard as Charles did.

"Can I come back?" he asked, shortly before he reached the stairs. Catherine put a hand on his head.

"I'll do what I can", she promised the boy while accompanying him to Sydney. Charles knew that could rely on her.


With a smile Charles looked up from the papers lying on the table in front of him. For a long while his gaze rested on Catherine's daughter who was sitting on the floor, playing just a few feet away from him and Jacob. Together with Jacob he babysat Marine, and this job was a pleasure to both of them. During the last few weeks they'd spent a lot of time with Marine and had taken her into their hearts as if she were their own child.

Catherine had kept her promise, arranging further meetings with Jarod. Charles had managed to establish profound relations to his son, and he was infinitely grateful for what Catherine had done for them.


Langton Cottage

Scofield, GB

11:20 pm

When Charles looked at his watch he twisted his face in surprise.

"Oh dear, I've been talking for more than three hours now."

Miss Parker looked at him in astonishment.


He chuckled.

"I guess that kind of thing will happen if you only have rare opportunity to talk about the past. Though there's hardly a day that I don't think back to the old times", he admitted.

Miss Parker took his hand, squeezing it gently.

"Thank you so much, Charley. You have no idea just how much this means to me."

"Maybe I do, Miss Parker."

She was smiling, and in her eyes he could see the very same charm and the warmth that used to be there so many years ago. With an elegant movement she rose.

"I know there's much more to say and even more to tell but for today I've already wasted too much of your time", she stated with determination, but also with audible regret.

Charles rose as well.

"Please promise to come back and visit me before you'll leave England, Miss Parker", he asked her, his emotions coloring his voice.

"Marine", she corrected him. "And I'll be glad to come here again. Thank you for the wonderful evening, Charley."

"It was my pleasure, Marine", he replied. "Have a safe journey home."


On her way back home Miss Parker's thoughts revolved for a long time around her conversation with Jarod's father. Only a tiny bit of her attention was focused upon the street. But suddenly something hit her eye.

It was a sign that diverted her attention from the past for a moment. 'Pendleton Heights', she read while driving by, the headlights of her car illuminating the sign for an instant. The sign triggered something within her she couldn't find an explanation for yet, but she still wouldn't ignore it. During the last few weeks she'd learned to trust her feelings.

Since it was too late to start an investigation anyway, she decided to come back the next day and find out what this was about.

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