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Disclaimer: *Sigh*, I don’t own The Pretender or any of the characters that are herein mentioned (except maybe Penny). The song is Strangers In the Night by Frank Sinatra, but don’t worry it is only in one scene for those of you who hate song fics.

Buttercups and Daffodils
part 2

By: ~*Ashley*~

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::

Jarod stood, his back to her, looking at the rising sun. The view was as incredible as it had been every night of their stay. It was breathtaking; golden rays bounced off the capping waves of the roaring ocean. The steady rumble of water soothed the tense watcher, who was enjoying the scene. Having grown up near the ocean himself, one would think that he would be used to the majestic body of water, but such was not the case. He had been kept the mere distance of a wall from its beauty, knowing it was out there, but never being permitted to see it. Naturally, the first chance he got he had to see it for himself. Its vast quantities of the salty life-giving substance amazed him. Such a thing could surely destroy a civilization as well as it could provide it with the food and energy needed to sustain its people.

“It’s striking, isn’t it?” Miss Parker wrapped her arms around his waist.

“I’ll never get used to it.”

Smiling, she turned him around to face her. She had expected to see him as at ease as herself, but was greeted with the face of a man at conflict, “What is wrong?”

“Sydney, I didn’t say goodbye, he must be so worried.”

“Is that all?” She asked with relief, “Why don’t you call him?”

“Oh the phone? They might have it bugged.”

“Of course on the phone, and they call you a genius. Simply call him at home.”

“What would I do without you?” He kissed her on the lips.

She smiled, knowing that he would be completely lost without her, and that it worked both ways.

He let out a hearty laughter, and gathered her in an embrace. Bending his head down so that it was right next to her ear, he whispered, “I love you.”

After a few minutes he disentangled himself from her arms, walked over to the phone, and picked up the receiver. He nervously glanced back at her and absorbed the strength her presence afforded him. He dialed the number of his old mentor. It rang once, then twice, then three times.

“I don’t think he is home.” He silently mouthed to his companion.

Disappointed, he hung up the phone after five rings.

“You can try again tomorrow.” She attempted to comfort him.

“You’re right. For now lets just enjoy being here, together.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::

The day had passed quickly. They had spent the daylight hours enjoying each other’s company. Walking hand-in-hand along the pristine shores of the ocean, eating lunch at the diner on the pier, gathering colorful shells, the day was perfect.

Now as the sun they had watched rise only a short while ago sank beneath the horizon, they sat in each other’s arms on the wicker loveseat. The shells that had been gathered earlier that day were lined up on the coffee table in front of them, a pleasant reminder of the day’s joy.

She smiled and moved towards the record player stationed in the corner of the living room. Placing the needle on the edge of the record, she merrily let it begin to play. Taking advantage of the brief pause before the music, she moved the wicker coffee table to the side of the sofa, leaving a generous empty space in the middle of the floor.

“What are you doing?” He questioned, amused.

She quickly pressed a single finger to his lips, to silence him. “Listen.”

It was then that the record player began playing the rich tunes of the song they had danced to as children. Her mother had enrolled her in dance lessons as a child, and she had only been too eager to share her new passion with her best friend.

Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wond’ring in the night
What were the Chances we’d be sharing love
Before the night was through.

Expertly, he swept her up in his arms and began to twirl her around the room. He stared intently into her eyes; reveling in the look of complete love and adoration she was giving him at that moment. She too was taken aback by the intense love he openly showed her, and shocked by how vulnerable she herself had become with just a look and a dance.

Something in your eyes was so inviting,
Something in your smile was so exciting,
Something in my heart,
Told me I must have you.

Since running away to this picturesque community by the shore of the Atlantic Ocean she had been happy, truly happy, in a way she hadn’t been in a long time. She would never have guessed that they would end up like this someday, completely in a love and together at last. It was only too good to be true.

Strangers in the night, two lonely people
We were strangers in the night
Up to the moment
When we said our first hello.
Little did we know
Love was just a glance away,
A warm embracing dance away.

Lost in their moment the real world seemed to vanish from view. They forgot that they were being chased by a very determined organization bent on their capture. They forgot their traumatic childhoods. They even forgot the sacrifices they had endured to be together. Only then, when they were truly happy, did all hell break loose.

It started as the rumbling sound of tires on the crushed rock in front of their beach house. Then massive fists began banging with all of their might against the doors and windows. With little effort, the intruders defeated the deadbolt and gained entry. An infantry of well-dressed hunters surrounded them as they stood together in the middle of their dance.

“Time to go home.” The biggest one of them shouted.

Whispering into her ear, so that the sweepers could not hear he reassured her, “This isn’t over. We will be together. I love you.”

Before she had a chance to return the sentiment he was ushering her to the back exit, which it appeared the brutes didn’t have covered. She ran outside and onto the porch; expecting that he had followed her, she was shocked to find herself alone under the moonlight.

Never one to give up without a fight, he struggled to distract the sweepers long enough for her to get away.

“Come and get me boys. Forget the girl, you know it’s me you want.”

One sweeper charged at him with all the rage he could muster. He easily avoided the charge with a calculated move to his right. The sweeper continued headfirst into the wall and slid down it, knocked out.

“One down, fifty to go.” Jarod smiled menacingly.

Realizing that they would not be able to catch the clever man by sheer force, they got into their predetermined positions to carry out the planned attack they had practiced in anticipation of being met by such a worthy adversary.

Like ballet dancers performing an intricate dance, they surrounded Jarod. Their obviously well rehearsed plan caught him off guard. He could tell that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thinking of his love, he conjured up all of the courage he could and braced himself for attack. One sweeper came at him; again he knocked him out with a skillful jab and a swift kick. Another snuck up behind him, and before he could properly recover, they were upon him again. Unable to take on so many large men at one time, he struggled under their strength as they pushed him to the ground. Holding down his arms they injected him with a sedative. After fighting the strong dose for as long as he could, he finally succumbed to its effects and drifted into a world of darkness.

Outside, Miss Parker was having even less luck. Sweepers had quickly surrounded the back exit as soon as they had seen her move towards it, and once she was outside they had her where they wanted her. She was subdued and they administered another injection. Her last thought as she blacked out, was that for all his good intentions it was over, and they would never be together again. “I love you too, Jarod.”

In the background the ironic last verse of their song repeated itself over and over again, the record player had been damaged in the fight.

Ever since that night we’ve been together.
Lovers at first sight, in love forever.
It turned out so right,
For strangers in the night.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
(One week after MP’s arrival at the Cabin)

The mountains surrounding the rustic cabin teemed with life on this particular morning. As the dawn sun rose, the inhabitants, both of land and air began their soothing songs. Chirping, tweeting, and twittering echoed off of the valley walls. As the rays reached the dew soaked greenery below the humid, musty smell that could only be found when one was truly in the boonies swirled through the air. The soft light poured through the sparkling windows, playing fleeting shadows on the faces of the sleeping people. Each person lost in his or her own blissful dream worlds. Not a soul was disturbed by unpleasant thoughts or feelings on this rare morning.

The mood was such when a weary-eyed traveler pulled her car into the gravel driveway. Carefully closing the car door she approached the slumbering house. From the porch she could glimpse the sun rising over the trees. She recalled her father telling her once that this was always her mother’s favorite time of day. He said that it had been her habit to, after checking on her sleeping babes, to sit on the steps in front of their little house enjoying the light. Her mother always told her that the rising of that burning orb signified not only the start of a brand new day, but the chance to make all of your dreams come true. The sun’s second chances had burned away the darkness surrounding the misfortunes of her life far more times than should be necessary in her young lifetime. It was in times like this that she craved her mother’s guidance more than any other. It had been years since her mother’s wise words had graced her ears.

This weary-eyed traveler was only too happy to go inside the secluded mountain cabin and make her way to the warm bed she knew to be awaiting her. Having stayed in this home before, she remembered which room had been designated as her own and headed in that direction. Only thoughts of much needed sleep crossed her mind as she passed one door. Upon seeing the second, she poked her head through the crack and observed that her wounded brother appeared to be on the mend and sleeping like a baby. She was glad to see him at rest, as she was very familiar with the nightmares that usually plagued his dreamland. Then she shuffled to the third door, her own. Without as much as a quick look at her surroundings she sat on the edge of her bed and began to remove the shoes from her tired feet.

“Hmm.” Moaned a sleepy voice from beside her.

She stared down in shock at the raven-haired woman in her bed. Her muffled gasp awoke the lightly slumbering woman, for she bolted straight up in the bed and began feeling for the weapon she was accustomed to sleeping beside. Not finding it, she chose to use her second strongest weapon: her words.

“Who the hell are you?”

Rejuvenated by this startling encounter she smiled, “My name is Emily. You must be Miss Parker.”

Parker eyed her intruder cautiously, “How would you know that?”

“Oh, Jarod has told me all about you.” Emily replied casually.

Parker raised her eyebrow, “Jarod told his sister all about me?” she thought to herself. She was more intrigued with what he had said about her than with what Emily was doing on her bed, however she chose to inquire about the latter first.

“What are you doing in here?”

Emily cast her an amused look, “This is my room.”

“Oh, “ Parker hesitated. She debated whether to tell this woman to get the heck out of her room, as was her first instinct, or be polite, as she was a guest here. “Um, they told me that it would be all right for me to sleep in here.” She followed the wary path.

“Of course it’s all right. We can always share.”

This concept was quite foreign to Parker. She was raised as an only child, and never had to share a thing in her life. However, the confidence of this quirky young woman beside her assured her that it would not be a problem. The room had two twin beds after all.

Emily was only slightly fazed by the knowledge that this was the woman in charge of tearing apart her family. From the way that Jarod had described it, her domineering father had forced the task on her. The only thing that was bothering her was exactly why this woman was at the cabin with her family. Wouldn’t being there with them without having called the Centre be considered traitorous?

Not wanting to offend Miss Parker, but dieing to know what was going on, Emily decided to ask the woman, “Why are you here?”

Parker blinked once, in an effort to wake herself completely and considered how to explain this to Emily. “Sydney and I received an email from Ethan asking us to come about a week ago, apparently Jarod had asked for us, so we came as quickly as we could.”

“Why would Jarod ask for you? He knows how dangerous that would be for his family.”

Defensively, Parker replied, “He was concerned about something that we had said before the shooting and wanted to talk to me about it.” Parker went silent for a moment remembering the horrors of the past week. “We thought that he was dead.”

“That must have been awful.” Emily put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It was…” Parker faded away, not quite feeling comfortable talking about this with a virtual stranger. Even though everything her father had ever taught her warned against it, she decided to confide in Emily anyway. “I thought that I would never see him again.”

“But he is getting better now, isn’t he?”

Parker smiled happily, “Yes, from what I have seen he has improved greatly. When we first arrived he was practically bedridden, now he is able to walk around.”

Emily smiled back at her, “Good old Jarod. He can’t do anything at a normal pace.”

“Yeah.” Parker got up from the bed and turned to Emily, “I guess, since I am already awake, I’ll go take a shower and watch the sunrise. You go ahead and go to sleep, you look exhausted.”

“Thanks.” Emily called after Parker as she left for the bathroom.

Before she would let the darkness overcome her, Emily considered the situation between her brother and Parker. It was certainly complicated, to say the least. They both had been forced to endure so much, both separately and together, yet they had triumphed over every obstacle. Nothing could stop them from fulfilling their destinies, whatever they might be.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Two Hours Later

When Jarod woke up he went down stairs to get something to eat. On his way to the kitchen he found Parker sitting on the front steps gazing off at the risen sun. She looked so beautiful to him, sitting there in the soft light, unaware of anything around her. Peace seemed to create an aura around her.

“Good morning.”

She turned around to see him standing above her, “Morning Jarod.”

“May I join you?”

“Sure.” She patted the empty space beside her on the step.

He sat a respectful distance from her, studying the sky and enjoying their companionable silence.



“What happened?”

“What do you mean?” She asked quizzically.

“What happened to bring about this drastic change in attitude? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but you seem so…”

“Happy? That’s because I am. After the fight I felt so guilty; I was sure that I went too far, we both went too far. When they told me that you were dead I wouldn’t believe them. To think that you had died not only not knowing how I feel about you, but also believing that I hated you was too much for me. I couldn’t imagine a life without you. Whether I like to admit it or not, you are my everything. I know that it’s been a long time since we were friends, but nothing has changed in the way I feel about you. When I saw that you were here, alive, I promised myself that I would never forget the lesson almost losing you taught me. You are my someone to care about, and when I finally realized that I felt relieved of the burden hiding that from you had put on me. I’m happy because I have you.”

“Well, “ He said wiping a tear from her face, “I’m glad that you feel that way, because after saying that, you are stuck with me.”

She let out a breathy laugh and hugged him tightly, enjoying just being close to him.

“How long can you stay here?” Jarod asked her, bringing her back to reality.

“Daddy gave me a month off before I came here, but realistically I can only stay another couple days before he notices that I left Blue Cove and sends the cavalry after me.”

“Oh.” Jarod said disappointedly. “Well, I am surprised that he gave you any time off at all.”

“I know. Daddy has been acting strangely since you ‘died’. At first I thought that it was just him being caring, but I am starting to wonder if there is something more behind it.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Nothing that has anything to do with the Centre is just as it seems.”

“I guess so.” She looked off into the forest, “How will Major Charles feel about my staying here?”

“I think that he is accepting the idea. By now it must be obvious how much you mean to all of us. Really I am more concerned with how he and Sydney are getting along. He seems to act kind of cold towards him.”

“It sounds like he is jealous of Sydney.”

“Why would he be jealous of Sydney?”

Parker rolled her eyes. Sometimes Jarod was pretty dense. “Did you know that Emily is here?”

Jarod stood up, “Where?” He asked anxiously.

“She was really tired when she arrived, she is sleeping in my room right now.”

“Oh.” He said disappointed.

Deciding to distract him from his want to see his sister she announced, “I’m hungry.”

“Then lets go get something to eat.”

“Good idea Wonder Boy.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Living Room

Sydney and Charles sat in the living room talking at the same time Parker and Jarod were outside talking. The ruckus of Jarod and Parker getting up had awoken them.

“Jarod seems to be getting better quickly.” Charles observed.

“Yes, he always did seem to recover from things more quickly than average children. I think that it has something to do with the Pretender gene.”

Unknowingly Sydney had brought up a point that was very touchy for the Major: Jarod’s childhood. Despite viewing most of the DSAs and asking endless questions, he still felt that he was missing a big part of Jarod. He, on previous occasions, had tried to understand that Sydney knew things about his son that he did not, but seeing them together brought out a jealous streak in him he wasn’t even aware of.

“You and Jarod are quite close.”

“Yes, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I know what it feels like to find out that another man raised your son. You feel like you missed a huge part of his life, and in a way you did, but you have to have faith that he will always be your son.”

“You have a son?”

“His name is Nicholas. I didn’t even know that I had a son until a couple years ago. To protect him from the Centre his mother left me and ran away with Nicholas without even telling me that he existed. It was hard knowing that I had missed so much of his life, but now we are working on making up for lost time. It’s never too late to be a father.”

“I think that Jarod, Nicholas and I should start a club.” Parker walked into the room followed by Jarod, “We all were raised thinking our fathers were someone else.”

“Not me, I knew.” Jarod corrected her.

“Yeah, but he was a father to you just the same…” Parker stopped when Jarod gave her that don’t-go-there look.

“When is Emily coming down?” Jarod changed the subject.

“I don’t know.” Parker admitted, “But she was pretty tired. She’ll probably sleep the day away.”

Charles looked towards the stairs, “Emily is here? How is she?”

“I don’t know. Parker is the only on who talked to her.”

All eyes turned to Parker, “She seemed fine to me. We really didn’t talk much.”

“Well, we can all talk to her more when she gets up.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
5:30 PM

Later that day after everyone, save Emily, was up; Sydney scrutinized Jarod and Parker as they joked. To him, it was so obvious that there was something between the two. Apparently Parker had finally had an epiphany and realized what Sydney had known since they were children. He could not help but feel guilty that he hadn’t told them yet about the experiment and their time together that had been erased from their memories. The longer he waited the more he was reluctant to tell them. They looked so happy, and it seemed that they were going to find their way together with or without knowledge of their past time together. He debated with himself the pros and cons of telling them. Or maybe it was just that he was scared that they wouldn’t forgive him when they found out that he had known without telling him.

“No way, grilled cheese is way better than peanut butter and jelly.” Jarod argued with Parker.

“No, you are way off. PB&J beats grilled cheese anytime.” Parker countered.

Realizing the stupidity of the argument both erupted in a giddy laughter. Neither saw Emily bound down the stairs and into the living room, a smile on her face.

“If you ask me, I think that you both are insane.”

“Emily! You’re up.” Jarod jumped up to hug his sister. “How are you?”

“I’m better now that I am with my family. You look like you are getting better too.” She observed happily.

“Yup. So, tell us about where you have been, what you have been doing.”

“I will, I promise. But first can I say hello to the rest of my family?”

“Of course, I forgot.” Jarod left the room to gather the others.

After reunions with Charles, Josh, and Ethan, and an introduction to Sydney, Emily was finally ready to recount her experiences.

“Where have you been?” Josh asked his sister. “You’ve been gone for way too long. We missed you.”

“I missed you too.” She smiled at him; “I’ve been all over the continent following leads on Mom.”

“Did you find anything?” Charles asked, not really daring to hope that she had.

“No, I had several good leads, but they all turned up empty.”

“That’s alright, Emily.” Jarod attempted to lighten the mood, “We’ll find her.”

“Yeah.” Ethan added, “Josh and I cooked dinner. I was just about to tell you to come and get it when Emily woke up.”

“Uh oh, the boys cooked.” Emily joked.

“I know. This is going to be interesting.” Parker agreed.

“At least Parker didn’t cook.” Jarod added, knowing full well that there was a distinct possibility that that little comment could get him killed.

“Well, my food at least doesn’t contain 99.9 percent sugar.” She playfully punched him in the gut.

Smiling and continuing to taunt each other about their cooking prowess they lead the way into the dining room.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::

At the table, Major Charles and Sydney sat at the heads. On one side were Ethan, Jarod, and Josh. On the other were Emily and Parker. As it turned out, the meal wasn’t as bad as the girls initially supposed that it would be. Everyone complimented Ethan and Josh on their wonderful job. Even Parker admitted it was good.

Emily and Parker were involved deeply in a discussion about their favorite books when Parker decided that she would like another roll. Reaching out to the center of the table where a basket of biscuits were located, she reached for one. Instead of touching the warm surface of a biscuit, she was surprised to find her hand touching that of another. She looked up in surprise just in time to find Jarod staring back at her equally shocked.

It was not the surprise of not touching the rolls that caused the pair such shock, but rather it was the intense feeling that their touch gave them. It was similar to the sensation of electricity they had experienced with their first touch as children.

Hazel eyes meeting blue, the pair stared for what seemed like an eternity. Both relived the feelings that accompanied the all too familiar, yet long missed, touch.

Soon others at the table noticed the bizarre exchange. Their connection was as noticeable as it would be, had it been visible.

Josh, sitting beside Jarod was confused. “What on earth is going on with those two?” He wondered to himself. All of a sudden he was overcome with the urge to sneeze. He failed in attempting to do so silently.

With a great “aachoo!” All eyes turned from Miss Parker and Jarod and were focused on him. The spell that had overcome the table was broken, leaving all to wonder exactly what had transpired.

For their part, Jarod and Parker avoided each other’s gaze for the rest of the dinner, each lost in their own thoughts.

Sydney observed their embarrassed avoidance of each other. He looked on with a knowing attitude, like he had seen something like that before. For all the others knew, perhaps he had.

The others at the table ate in a tense silence, wondering what was going on, but not daring to ask.

Finally all had finished eating and the table was cleared off.

“Who is going to do all of these dishes?” Charles asked.

“I will.” Both Parker and Jarod answered at the same time, then resumed their mutual averting of the eyes.

“Great. Lets leave these two to get started.”

Everyone left for the living room to watch some TV or to talk, leaving Jarod and Parker alone.

“Um, I’ll wash, you dry.” Jarod stated uneasily.

Donning a frilly pink apron, Jarod took his place by the sink and began to fill it up with water and dish soap.

Parker couldn’t help but let out a small giggle at the sight of him, “Nice apron. Pink frills really look great on you.” Her giggle erupted into a full-fledged laugh.

“You think this is funny?” He looked at her, amusement sparkling in his eyes. “How would you like to wear this?” He asked holding up a handful of dish soap bubbles from the sink.

“You wouldn’t dare.” She challenged.

Never one to shy away from a challenge he advanced on her, bubbles in hand.

“Jarod…”She warned, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

With one quick movement the bubbles were all over her face. “Why? What are you going to do?”

“Well, I am going to kick your butt for one thing.” She responded moving away from him.

“You and what army?”

Cleverly, while she had made it appear that she was moving away from him, she was really just moving closer to the sink, “This army!” She yelled, spraying bubbles in his face.

Laughing, he wiped his eyes clear. “That’s it! This is war!”

Soon bubbles were flying everywhere; some ended up on the walls, cupboards, and the floor, but most on the two laughing people.

“What is going on in here?” Major Charles dashed through the kitchen door in time to catch them mid bubble throwing.

“Um, nothing. Everything is fine.” Jarod answered with the most innocent looking face he could compose.

“We were just, um, doing the dishes.” Parker said fluttering her eyelashes like a charming southern belle.

Upon seeing this, Jarod was overcome with another bout of laughter. She soon joined him, and they were laughing so hard that the two were practically rolling all over the bubble-covered floor.

“Uh huh, okay. I’ll let you get back to ‘work’.” Charles smiled at them. It was good to see his son having so much fun, it seemed the tension at dinner had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. He closed the door behind him and hesitated a moment, sure enough the bubble war resumed as soon as he was out of sight. “Kids.” He muttered to himself.

Back in the living room, the rest of the crew awaited his report. “They aren’t killing each other in there are they?”

“It depends on the outcome of the war. I am sure that Jarod would settle for a treaty, but her, I’m not sure.” Charles informed them, only serving to confuse them further.


::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Later that Evening

Seeing Josh starting to yawn, Charles decided that it would probably be best for all to turn in for the night. “I think that it is time for bed, Josh.”

“Aw Dad. Do I have to? I am really not…” He yawned, “…Tired.”

“Yes, son. Or you will be exhausted tomorrow.”

“I think that it is time for me to turn in too.” Sydney backed the Major up.

Then, Parker remembered that she lacked a room, “Emily, is it okay if I share a room with you?”

“Sure, Parker. It’ll be a girls-only sleepover. That is, unless there is someone else you would rather share a room with.” Emily gave her a not so discreet wink.

Jarod, who was listening to the conversation with the others, added a curious, “Who?”

“No one, Jarod.” Parker blushed slightly.

“I don’t get it. Did I miss something?”

“Goodnight, Jarod.” Parker said leaving the room to avoid further questioning.

“Come on, tell me…please?”


“Fine then, goodnight.” He replied, pretending to pout.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Emily/Parker’s Room

Both Emily and Parker lay in their beds, unable to get to sleep. Each had their own concerns, and the day had definitely given them enough to think about.

“Miss Parker?” Emily whispered to the twin bed next to her.


“Are you asleep?”

“Yes, I am.” Parker answered sarcastically.

“Are you still mad at me about that thing in the living room? I said that I was sorry.”

“Of course not. It was a joke. I just have a lot on my mind, that’s all.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“You just did.”

Ignoring the remark, Emily continued, “What is going on with you and my brother?”

“I don’t really know. It is so complicated that at times I don’t even understand it myself. While he was gone, I allowed myself to look at him in a way I hadn’t in years. I didn’t dismiss all the things that annoyed me about him; rather I took them in context with all the things that made him so wonderful. Sometimes it seems like we never stopped being friends, that we never became enemies. It seems like it was just a story someone told me. I keep waiting for my happy ending, but what if it never comes?” Parker answered honestly, glad to be able to talk to someone.

“You have to give it time. Just a week ago you thought that he was dead, remember?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“You REALLY love him?”

“I really do.”

“Then everything will be fine. I predict a happily ever after in your future.” She concluded in her very best Madame Fortuneteller voice.

“I hope so, Emily.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Later That Night
1:00 AM

A rumbling sound awoke Jarod. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he became aware that he was not in his own room any longer. He appeared to be laying on the couch in some living room. As he adjusted his weight on the uncomfortable wicker furniture, the rumbling noise increased. Soon it was joined by the sound of someone banging on the door so hard that it broke the deadbolt that normally held it securely in place.

The next thing that he knew, he was surrounded by men dressed in black suits, “Time to go home.” One of the biggest of the men shouted threateningly, then advanced on the confused man.

With a flash of light, Jarod now stood on a porch overlooking an ocean. Before him two more darkly dressed men were holding down a struggling woman. In the darkness of the night, her face was obscured by shadows but the unmistakable voice of Miss Parker mumbled, “I love you too, Jarod.” As she succumbed to the effects of what appeared to be a sedative.

Jarod bolted up in his bed and looked around his dark room panting. He was no longer in the living room. It was just a dream. Pushing aside his covers, he got out of his bed and made his way down the stairs to the kitchen to get a drink.

Opening the door to the kitchen, he was startled to see that someone else was already down there. “Parker? What are you doing up?” He asked her.

“I had a bad dream, I wanted to get a drink of water. Why are you up so late?”

“Same reason. Want to tell me about it?”

She paused studying her glass, “It was the strangest thing. I woke up in the living room of this beach house, the same living room from my other dream. Soon after it was invaded by what could only be sweepers. You were there. You told me that it wasn’t over, that we would be together, and that you…you loved me. The next thing that I knew, I was watching them hold you down and give you a shot of something.”

Looking up, she saw an expression of disbelief on Jarod’s face. “What is it?”

“I had the same dream, only I was the one watching you being held down and *you* told *me* that you loved me.”

“Why would we have the same dream?”

“Maybe it wasn’t a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we have both had the same dream before about this place, now to have another similar dream about it of sweepers capturing not only me, but you…maybe it was a memory.”

“What?” She asked incredulously, “You mean to say that it could be some sort of repressed memory about a time when you and I were captured by sweepers? Why would sweepers be after us? Were we on the run?”

“Perhaps, the only problem is that you and I never ran away.”

“Or did we?” Parker mused.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Next Morning

Sydney quietly made his way down the stairs to the kitchen in hopes of grabbing a cup of coffee. He had been unable to sleep the night before, he had been sure that he had heard voices from the kitchen.

As he rounded the corner to the living room, through which he had to go to get to the kitchen, he was surprised to find Miss Parker and Jarod asleep on the couch together. He then concluded that the voices he heard must have been theirs. He stood there for a moment observing how right and happy they looked together.

He finally moved towards the kitchen and made himself a pot of coffee.

“Sydney, what are you doing up so early?” Jarod asked as he came into the kitchen followed by Miss Parker.

“Did I wake you?” Sydney asked as he handed the pair a steaming cup of coffee.

“No, I smelled the coffee and when I got up to get some I woke Jarod.” Parker explained.

“Hmm, why were you sleeping on the couch?”

“We both had the same nightmare, it was uncanny.” She explained, sipping her beverage.



“I know that this is going to sound bizarre, but, have we ever run away together from the Centre?”

Sydney didn’t even notice his mug slip from his hand and come crashing to the floor, “You remember.” It wasn’t a question.

“Remember what? Tell us Sydney, we have a right to know.” Jarod demanded.

He sighed and found a towel to wipe up the mess, “When you were about nineteen you had begun to figure out that the Centre was not going to just let you go. Parker had been at college, and her absence had been very hard for the both of you. The summer she got back from her freshman year you ran away. Apparently you were gone a little over a week when you tried to call me. I was away on a consult, I didn’t even know you had gone missing, and the call was intercepted by the Centre and traced. They located you in a small beachside community and brought you back. They used Mr. Raine’s ‘memory eradication method’ to erase the memories of your time away from the Centre and to create a mutual hate between you that would prevent you from running away again.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“Mr. Parker told me himself. When you ‘died’ he was very concerned that the emotional blow would cause Miss Parker to begin to remember, and he did not want that to happen. He asked me to keep an eye on her to make sure that the memories stayed hidden.”

“Why didn’t you tell me when you found out?” Miss Parker asked him accusingly.

“Because I was afraid of what that knowledge would do to you, you were already barely keeping it together as it was.”

“Then why didn’t you tell us after we found out that Jarod wasn’t really dead?”

“I have no excuse for that. I can only assure you that I had both yours and Jarod’s best interests at heart.”

“How could they do that to us? They twisted our feelings into those of hate. I knew that there had to be an explanation why I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason you and I stopped being friends.”

“There is more. Do you remember the experiment where you first met Jarod?”

“Of course.”

“That was more than a sexuality experiment. Your mother, Catherine, had mentioned to Mr. Parker that she sensed that there was something between the two of you before you had even met. Mr. Parker seized the opportunity to create an experiment that would follow you through your lives and follow the development of your relationship. He said that the experiment was about ‘connection’.”

“They have been manipulating our relationship from the beginning?” Jarod asked in disbelief.

“I am afraid so, I am sorry Jarod.” Sydney apologized.

“It’s alright, thank you for telling us the truth, better late than never I suppose.”

“Well, now I guess that I know why Daddy was being so nice to me after we thought that Jarod had died. That SOB, he went too far this time.” Parker ran from the room.

Jarod followed after her. “What is it Parker?” He asked when he saw the tears streaming down her face.

“What right do they think they have to keep messing with our lives? Look at how much time together we have lost.”

He took her hand in one of his and with the other wiped away her tears, “Then we can’t waste a minute, can we.”

She looked down at their intermingled hands. “Jarod, I want you to know that…I…I love you, I’ve loved you since the day we first met.”

Lifting her face to look at him with his free hand he smiled, “I love you too. I have never loved anyone as much as I love you, and no one has ever loved me the way that you do. We have been through so much together. My heart tells me that we are meant to be.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
That Afternoon

Parker sat by Jarod on the couch of the living room, thinking about everything that had happened to them. She felt a relief at the knowledge that her feelings were finally out in the open and that he loved her too, but she couldn’t help but worry that it wouldn’t last. It was the same feeling that she had gotten back at the beach house before she was sedated. There were still so many things that could go wrong. She was very afraid that after spending a large amount of time with her, he would realize that she had changed and decide that it was not for the better. It had been so long since that week at the beach. So many things had happened, and the best things hadn’t even occurred until the past two weeks. In those weeks she had realized her feelings for Jarod, told him, and had them reciprocated.

She loved to watch him with his family. He seemed happier than she had seen him in so very long. He was inches away from completing family he had always dreamed of. Now it seemed, he had incorporated her into that dream. It amazed her that someone would actually want her, and her emotional baggage, the way that he did.

The perfect life seemed, for the first time in her life, possible. She knew that now that they were together, no external force could ever tear them apart. They could be together until the end of time and finally get to live the life that they had started that week by the ocean all of those years ago. They could have their perfect little yellow house with the white picket fence, the golden retriever, and the 2.4 kids

For all the Centre knew, Jarod had died that fateful day in New York City. He was finally free from the chase that had held him as captive as the Centre walls for the past five years. He had the chance to live a normal life, and to never have to look over his shoulder again.

Suddenly a new fear struck her. She had promised to stay at the Centre until Jarod was captured. While they could not expect her to capture Jarod now that he was ‘dead’, she knew that they would simply change the agreement to the capture of his family. If she disappeared, she knew that the Centre would hunt her down; she was just another experiment to them.

If she stayed with Jarod, he would be hunted as well, whether the Centre realized that they were still chasing him or not. Perhaps they could live some semblance of the perfect life, but always lurking in the shadows would be the danger, the fear, of being found.

Her hand snuck over to Jarod’s and firmly took a hold of it, causing him to look over at her. He gently squeezed her hand and gave her a reassuring smile, as if he sensed her worry. She gazed back at him a moment, before breaking into a supportive, yet not overly enthusiastic smile, “Do you realize that you are finally truly and completely free of the Centre?”

His smile turned into a frown, “Not completely. They still have my heart under their control.”

Parker couldn’t help but be swept off her feet by his devotion. For a moment all of her doubts disappeared, he seemed so sure. Unfortunately, soon her insecure side once again voiced her doubts.

“You know that soon they will start to wonder where I am and send a team after me. I could unintentionally lead them right to you.”

“What are you saying?” He asked, confused.

“I’m saying that maybe I should go back. I have a score to settle with a certain adoring father. I could protect you and your family from the inside until it is safe for me to leave without alerting them and we can all disappear forever.” She struggled to make him see her point.

He stared at her as if she had said the most ludicrous thing he had ever heard, “If they ever found out where you were…it would be too dangerous.”

“You know that I can’t stay. I’ll have to leave sooner or later, and I’d rather it be on my own terms than be dragged back in cuffs.”

He shook his head. His mind understood the logic of her reasoning, but he was afraid of what would happen if she went back. There was always the possibility that the Centre could find out that she had betrayed them. They could use her as bait to lure their escapees back, or simply kill her. Then again, if she went back, they would maintain the upper hand through their knowledge of his existence and they would gain valuable inside help. No matter what he thought, she would never be able to let this go until her issues with her father had been resolved.

Seeing that he was lost in thought, she waved her hand in front of his face to gain his attention, “Stop worrying. I’m not going anywhere right now. Right now, it’s just you and me.”

Now back in reality, he conceded, “You’re right. Lets not think about this today.”

Smiling to herself, she let her head rest on his shoulder and moved his arm so that it was around her. “Sounds good to me. There’s always tomorrow.”

As soon as her face was out of his range of view, her smile altered into a grimace of worry. She knew that they only way they would be safe would be for her to return to the Centre until it would be safe for her to leave forever and that to truly be able to move on, she would need some kind of closure with her father.

She didn’t understand why Jarod refused to see her point. Of course he must have been concerned about her betrayal being discovered, but he knew that she was quite capable of taking care of herself. He would never agree to let her return behind enemy lines, but since when did she ask permission? She knew what had to be done and, before she let herself drift to sleep in his arms, she was resolved to do what she knew to be right. He would understand in the end.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::

“What are you doing?” Emily asked, sitting up in her bed watching Miss Parker busily scurry around the room. After watching her throw her belongings in a suitcase, she drew a conclusion, “You’re leaving.”

“Shhh!” Parker warned her, “You’ll wake up the others.”

“Where are you going?”

Parker sighed and stopped what she was doing, “I am going back to the Centre.”

Shocked, Emily gasped, “Why?”

“Because I have some things that I need to take care of.”

“Does Jarod know about this?”

“No, I’m a big girl. I can make decisions for myself.”

“He wouldn’t like this.”

”I know. Why do you think I am sneaking out this early in the morning? He’ll understand why I have to leave, someday.”

“Are you coming back?”

“Of course. I am not about to give up the best thing in my life over this. I’ll only be gone as long as it takes me to take care of my father and to ensure that none of us will ever again be bothered by the Centre.”

“You aren’t going to say goodbye?”

Parker zipped up her suitcase, “I can’t. He’d try to stop me. I’ll talk to him when he calls, as I am sure he will.”

Picking up her luggage, Parker headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs to the front entrance.

What she had not anticipated was that Jarod, the chronic insomniac, would be up at this early hour. As she descended the last step, he emerged from around the corner. Seeing her heading for the door, bags in hand, he immediately called after her.

“Where are you going?”

“Isn’t that the question of the day. I am going back to Blue Cove.”

“I thought that we decided that you weren’t going to go back there.”

“No, Jarod.” She turned to him, “ *You* decided that I wouldn’t be going back there.”

“I thought that you were happy here.”

“That has nothing to do with it. You and I both know that I want to stay, but I can’t until I can do so without having to worry about the Centre on my tail.”

“Yes you can.” He pleaded as he realized that she was serious. “It’s easy, just stay. Everything will work out without you having to go back into danger.”

Parker took a step backwards toward the door. Everything inside of her screamed that she should stay. It would be as easy as he had said; she could simply set down her bags and run back into his waiting arms but, by leaving him, she would guarantee his safety; she would give him his chance to live a normal life. He would never have to look over his shoulder again.

Not so long ago she would have sacrificed her life for one more moment with him, yet now she stood poised to leave him to protect his life. She was about to willingly break her own heart and his.

“I’m sorry Jarod, but I have to leave.” She closed the distance between herself and the door. At that moment she knew that if she lived to be a hundred years old, she’d never be as happy as she had been during her time with him.

“I can’t go back to the way things were. Parker, I love you.” Salty tears cascaded down his drawn features as he begged her to stay.

Taking the brass doorknob in her hand, she pulled the door open. In a way that movement symbolized her decision and sealed her fate. “It’s only for awhile. We’ll be together again soon, and then it will be forever. I love you.”

Before he could say anything more, she forced herself to walk out the door and down the steps to into the pouring rain. The dismal weather suited the occasion. Mini rivers of rain ran through the gravel and mud of the driveway, but as far as Jarod was concerned they were impassible moats.

He stood just outside the door, water mingling with his tears as he watched her climb into the driver’s seat of her rented Taurus.

Parker focused all of her attention on the task of turning her car around and easing it down the rocky dirt road to the main street. She would not allow herself to look back, but she instinctively could feel Jarod blindly making his way down to the middle of the driveway. She could see him, in her mind’s eye, struggle to follow her car halfway to the road as his boots got stuck in the muck with every step. Her heart could hear him calling our her name, even though he must have known that she would not be able to hear him over the roar of the thunder.

There he stood, soaked to the bone at the end of the driveway, watching her car disappear around the corner. He was unaware of how long he stood in the downpour before numbly trudging his way back to the cabin. Each step he took only served to signify the growing distance between himself and Parker, both emotionally and physically.

Once inside the cabin he stood just within the limits of the doorframe, unable to comprehend what had just transpired. Eventually he moved from the doorway to his bedroom. Not even bothering to rid of his saturated clothing or shoes, he climbed into bed and curled himself into a protective ball. Nothing like that mattered to him anymore. The only thing that he registered was that his love had just driven away in a rented Taurus, and along with her, all of his hopes and dreams. He could only hope that she knew what she was doing.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

Parker’s heartbeat quickened as she stood outside of her father’s office trying to collect herself. She knew that once she was in there, there was no getting out. Not easily anyway. For the first time since she drove away from the cabin only hours ago, she began to doubt her decision. Maybe her choice had been too hastily made. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to face her mendacious father, knowing what he had done to her. Could she look him in the eye with the knowledge that he had lied to her, taken away her happiness? His deceit had been far reaching and long going. It would be one of the greatest challenges in her life not to whip out her gun and shoot him right then and there. She hoped that she was up to the challenge.

Taking a deep breath, she grasped the handles on the doors in front of her. With one fluid motion, she threw them to the side and took a stride into the room.

“Angel, you’re back.” Mr. Parker said, unable to suppress a note of surprise in his voice.

“Well, there is no reason to waste time counting our toes when we have fugitives to catch.” She informed him confidently.

Mr. Parker appraised his daughter. She stood, hands on hips, ready to go back at it. Her usual short skirt and blouse were impeccable as usual, and bordering on dangerously revealing. The look on her face was no nonsense all business, not betraying a hint of the woman he had seen fall apart due to the lab rat’s death. Miss Parker was back in full force. He was glad to see that Jarod’s demise had no lasting complications.

“I’m glad that you’re back.” Mr. Parker embraced his daughter.

Miss Parker barely hugged him back, unable to stand being so close to the man she now considered to be a monster. Keeping in character, she gave him a dry smile, “I don’t know what came over me before. You have my guarantee that it won’t ever happen again.”

“That’s my girl.” He would have to remember to inform Mr. Raines that his memory eradication method had been successful after all.

“Where are Lyle and the Wheezer Geezer? Have them send me a report on the events of the chase during my…absence. I want a full update immediately.”

“Of course Angel, I’ll have my secretary inform them at once.”

“Thank you Daddy.” She replied frostily, and then she turned and strode self-assuredly out of the room.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Tech Room

“I want that information now, Mr. Broots!” Lyle screamed at the cowering man. “You may have been allowed to slack off under the supervision of my incompetent sister, but you are working for me now.”

“Glad to hear you missed me.” Miss Parker glared at her little brother from the doorway.

Foot in mouth, Lyle flashed her the most charming smile he could muster. “Sis, I thought you wouldn’t be back for another couple weeks.”

“You think? Since when?” She snapped. “I’m back now Lyle, so why don’t you go eat your secretary or something and stop scaring my technician.”

“Whatever you say.” He held up his hands, “Welcome back.”

As he walked away he could only think that he would have to find out who let her back in the building and have them taken care of. He had assumed that the whole New York thing had permanently decommissioned his dearest sister, but she appeared to be her witchy old self again.

As far as Broots was concerned, he never thought he would be so happy to see her in his life. “M-miss Parker, b-b-boy am I glad you’ve returned.”

“I wish that I could say the same.” She sighed.

“Aren’t you happy to come back to work?”

“Oh yeah, thrilled.” She cynically snapped.

Rather than press the issue, he decided to move to a safer topic, “Have you heard from Sydney? No one had seen or heard from him since he took that time off. Actually, no one had seen or heard from you either until just now.”

“As if it’s any of your business, I was out of town. Sydney, I believe, is visiting some family up north.” It was true that Sydney was visiting family, she just wasn’t going to tell him whose.


“Broots, I need something from you.” She sat on the edge of his desk.

Gulping uncomfortably he questioned, “W-What do you want me to do?”

Miss Parker positioned her body so that it was facing away from the security camera she knew to be hidden inconspicuously in the clock above the door and bent down close to his ear so that he could hear her whisper, “Meet me at my house tonight after Debbie goes to sleep. Make sure that no one follows you.”

He nodded as she stood up and straightened out her jacket. “I’ll be in my office reading the update on the search for the boy.”

“Yes Miss Parker.” Broots tried to focus on his task, but even after she had retreated to her office he could see the urgency in her eyes. Something was going on, and the something was big.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Cabin

“Jarod? Are you going to come out of there?” Emily asked as quietly as she could through Jarod’s heavy bedroom door.

“I just want to be left alone for a while.” Emily relaxed, this was the first thing that she had heard from her brother since Miss Parker had left hours ago.

“Can I come in?”




“Pretty please?”

“I said no!”

“With sugar on top?”

“Argh, Fine. I don’t care.”

Emily smiled triumphantly. The annoying little sister bit worked every time. She knew that she had no right to pry into his business, but as his sister she was very concerned about how he would deal with this. She knew that he needed to talk to someone who would explain this to him the way Miss Parker saw it and make him realize that she had only good intentions.

She carefully opened the door and entered. Jarod sat, his back to her, staring out the window at nothing in particular. “How could she just leave me?”

Emily went to his side and put a hand on his arm, “You don’t understand. She didn’t leave you. She just has some things to take care of before she can be with you.”

“She felt she had to sneak away in the night, that doesn’t exactly sound like a healthy relationship to me.”

“Well, you wouldn’t listen to her.”

“So you’re on her side.”

Exasperated, Emily threw her hands into the air, “There are no sides, Jarod. This isn’t about you and her. This is about her and them.”

“If she had let me, I could have helped her.”

“This is something that she needs to do alone. Imagine being told that the father you would have sacrificed your life for regards you as no more than a possession to be used for profit. She wants to be able to be with you and not have him haunting her for the rest of her life.”

“Don’t you think that I know that? I assumed that this would be something we could deal with together, but apparently she doesn’t trust me enough to even tell me about it.”

“Stop acting like a petulant child and listen to me! There is no way that you could have changed her mind.”

“What can I do then?”

“Be supportive for crying out loud. I don’t know what kind of hero trip you are on right now, but you aren’t going to be the one in tights this time. Let her know that you are behind her on this, and that you’ll be waiting for her to come home.”

Jarod slouched down in his chair, resting his chin on his chest and considering her words. His little sister’s common sense seemed to be more useful than all of his genius. Reason overcame him for the fist time since Parker had left. He raised his head slowly, somewhat embarrassed. “You don’t think that it’s too late for that, do you?”

“This world is full of second chances, Jarod. I’m sure that she’ll give you yours.”

Jarod stood and went over to the mirror above his dresser, “How did you ever become so smart?”

“It’s in the genes.” She smiled.

“Look at me,” Jarod caught a glimpse of his tear streaked reflection, “I better get cleaned up before I go down stairs, I don’t want to worry anyone.”

Nodding, Emily backed out of the room. “One last thing. Call her. She’s waiting.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre
Miss Parker’s Office

Ring Ring.

Parker was seriously considering swearing of phones for life. She pushed away the unnecessarily lengthy report and grabbed the receiver.


In a tone no louder than a whisper, the unnamed caller rattled off a series of numbers, “9035768.” And then hung up the phone on her. The voice was unrecognizable to her, the pitch too soft to identify, but she had a feeling that the caller intended for it to be that way. She didn’t need her inner sense to tell who that mystery caller was. Undoubtedly Jarod had given her the numbers. The only problem, she didn’t know what they meant.

The need to be discreet in contacting her was obvious. At the Centre you never could tell if your phone was being tapped, and if they overheard Jarod calling, any temporary protection that his ‘death’ afforded would be lost. It was surprising that he had contacted her at all, even if they didn’t realize whom the caller was, there would be risk involved.

“He must want to talk to me about something.” She reasoned to herself. “But why did he hang up?”

At the moment the answer became apparent, 9035768 could be interpreted as 903-5768…a phone number. He must have wanted her to call him back on a secure line.

She glanced at the clock, it was only three o’clock, but that didn’t really matter. As the chairman’s daughter she could virtually come and go as she pleased without anyone challenging her. She had some work to do once she got home anyway.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Miss Parker’s House
3:30 PM

As soon as she was in the door she grabbed her phone and was dialing the number.

“903-5768” She repeated to herself. It had been to risky to write the number down, so she had memorized it.

“Hello?” A light feminine voice answered the phone.

“Hey Em, is Jarod there?”

“He sure is.”

“Has he calmed down any?”

“We had a little talk, I think that he is beginning to understand now. He has been waiting for you to call.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“Yeah, he’s right here trying to get the phone away from me…”

Miss Parker could hear a rustle of clothing and a “Hey!” before another voice came on the phone.



“I’m glad that you called back.” He said with a hint of relief. “I am so sorry about the way I reacted, it’s just that I am so worried that you might be in danger…I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“I’m sorry that I just ran off like that. I should have tried to explain it to you better.” She smiled, “You know, we apologize way too much.”

“I agree. So we’re ok?”

“Better than ever.”

“I miss you.”

“I miss you too, but I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Promise me you’ll be careful.”

“Cross my heart.”

“I have to go, Sydney is taking my fishing.”

“Sure, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Great. I love you.”

“Love you too…wow, it feels great to finally be able to say that.”

“I know. So, until later.”

“Right, bye.”


::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Miss Parker’s House
11:00 PM

Miss Parker poured herself a drink from one of her ever-present bottles of scotch. The plan was formulated and, assuming that Broots would come through for her, it would go down in three days time. It hadn’t taken long for her to decide how best to handle the situation. This was something that she had to prepare against during her time in Centre security, so she was well aware of how to perpetrate her plan.

It would consist of three steps. First would be the information gathering. That would be where Broots would come in. She needed to know every dirty little secret that the Centre had shoved in its closets. The identities of every key member of the Centre, the Triumvirate and her father included, would need to be collected and evidence as to what exactly their crime was. Ironically, the Centre’s highly efficient record keeping methods would make this as easy as simply locating the files.

Second, she would present this evidence to the proper authorities. Undoubtedly the government was in cahoots with the Centre, but only the highest officials would be aware of this, and they would not dare protect the Centre after the media discovered all she had to show them. A proper investigation would be conducted and the Centre would be closed. The African Centre would be unable to sustain itself without the resources of its parent and original institution, the one located in Blue Cove, and it would soon go under. The Centre would be gone, and without the Triumvirate, there would be no risk that it could return.

Lastly would be the inexplicable disappearance of Broots, Sydney, Angelo, Jarod, and herself. There was no doubt in her mind that after all the evidence and DSAs and the authorities would find the testimony of Jarod would be useless. She also was unwilling to risk that charges could be brought against Sydney for his role in Jarod’s imprisonment. Everyone would be free to live lives free from the grip of the Centre at last.

She was mulling over the details of her plan when Broot’s timid knock could be heard at her door. She checked to be sure it was him and then opened the door. “Come in quickly. Did anyone see you?”

“I don’t think so.” He looked around her living room nervously.

“Good, I’ll explain this to you quickly. Sydney isn’t visiting his family up north, he is up north with Jarod and Jarod’s family.”

“Up ‘north’?” Broots asked confusedly pointing towards heaven.

Parker rolled her eyes, “No moron, up north as in New York.”

“You mean Jarod is alive?”


“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” She laughed, “I’m pretty sure.”

“Oh my god!”

“I know. Anyway, the abridged version is that I’m in love with Jarod, betrayed by my father, about to bring down the Centre, and planning on ending this nightmare once and for all.”

If Broots was shocked before, now he was having a heart attack. “W-What are you t-talking about? In LOVE with JAROD? You want to b-bring down the C-Centre?”

“Yes, and I need your help to do it.”

“If they find out that I had anything to do with your crazy plan…I have a daughter to think about.”

“I know Broots, but I need you. All you have to do is get me the information and let me do the rest. You are the only one I can trust who has the expertise to do this.”

“What about Jarod? If you are on his side now why doesn’t he help you? Don’t you think that he could do a better job than I could anyway?”

“I’m not going to tell him about this. He may not show it but I know he is still recovering from the shooting and he would never agree to help me put myself in as much danger as I need to pull this off. He already got his panties in a bunch just about my returning.”

Broots closed his eyes and sat down on her couch. He really didn’t want to hear about Jarod’s panties. “When?”

“Tomorrow we collect the information, the day after I go to the authorities, the next day the Centre goes down.”

She let him absorb the information she had just foisted on him while she went to get a folder out of her bedroom.

“This is for you.” She handed him a manila envelope.

He opened it carefully, not sure what to expect to be in it. Inside he discovered papers. After reading them over he looked up, “New identities for me and Debbie?”

“Yes,” She explained, “After we do this you are going to have to disappear. I am the only one who knows what your new identity is.”

“How did you make these? They look so real.”

“Lets just say that after having to examine all of Jarod’s false identities, I picked up on some of his tricks.”


“So are you in?”

He ran a hand through his hair (or what hair was left on his head), and looked up at her. On his face was a determination that she had never seen in him before. “All of the years I have loyally served the Centre I have observed the atrocities they have committed, yet I never said a word. I saw the unspeakable inhumanity that resides within its walls and I told myself that it was all for the good of science. I can’t lie to myself anymore. We both know that this has been coming a long time, and you couldn’t keep me from helping out all that I can. I am in.”

Miss Parker had never been prouder of her techie than she was at that moment. “Thank you Broots. We start tomorrow as soon as we get into work.”

“I’ll be there early.” He stood up to leave, “You and Jarod, huh?”

“Me and Jarod.”

“I knew that there was something more there than you let on. Congratulations.” He hung his head so that she could not see his face, but she knew that there would be a look of disappointment on it, it was no secret that he had a crush on her.

“Hey, Broots?”


“You’ll always be my Puff Daddy.”

He smiled, wondering how she could have possibly found out about that dream he had of the two of them together. When she let her guard down, like she had tonight, she really was a kind person; he could see why Jarod loved her so much. He was honestly happy for them.

“See ya tomorrow.” With a chuckle he closed the door behind him and headed home.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Cabin
3:45 PM

“So, how is Parker?” Sydney asked as he cast out again on to the picturesque lake.

By his side, Jarod was putting another worm on his hook. “She’s fine, although I have a feeling that she has something up her sleeve. I just hope it doesn’t get her into trouble.”

“She can handle herself.”

“I probably know that better than anyone.” Jarod agreed with a smile.

The day was beautiful. The sky a striking blue, the sort of blue that reminded Jarod of Parker’s eyes. There was not a cloud in site and the water was as tranquil as sheet of glass.

Sydney had approached Jarod at lunch that day about going fishing together. Jarod remembered the day that he had asked Sydney to go fishing with him someday. He was surprised that his mentor even remembered, and was touched that he would think of it. It was the sort of father-son thing that they had never been allowed to do at the Centre.

“Thank you for doing this for me.” Jarod said as he reeled in another trout.

“I wanted to do this. We don’t get to spend much time together anymore.”

“Yeah, with me running from you and all.” Jarod replied with good-humored sarcasm.

“Good point. I’m just sorry that we couldn’t have done something like this all those years ago.”

Jarod understood the message that Sydney was trying to get across. This was his way of apologizing for not allowing himself to think of Jarod as a son when he was a child. It was his way of accepting the Father’s Day card.

“Sydney, I want to you know, that despite of everything, well, I never really blamed you for anything that happened to me. You always protected me the best that you could, thank you.”

Sydney smiled, that was all he had ever wanted to hear. To know that he had been forgiven.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre
6:30 AM
The Next Day

”Psst, Broots, Over here.” Miss Parker called from the shadows of the techroom. She handed him a case of zip disks. “Put all of the information you find on these disks. Don’t leave anything out.”

“Sure thing, Miss Parker.”

“Make sure to cover your tracks, and be careful. Is Debbie at her Aunt Sue’s house?”

“Yes, my sister picked her up today. I didn’t want her to be in danger if anything went wrong.”

“Good. I’ll get everything I have the clearance for and put it on the disks I have in my office. Try to act like nothing is going on.”

“No problem.”

“Meet me at my place tonight and we’ll pool our information.”

Just then they could hear footsteps coming. Broots turned his head to see that it was just an intern walking by, when he looked back, she was gone.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre
That Afternoon

Parker sighed in frustration. She had not been able to find anything dating any further back than the eighties. She had not anticipated that the records from before the new system was installed would not have been entered also. There was surely enough evildoings in the past twenty plus years to ensure that justice would be done, but she wanted EVERYTHING to be revealed.

“Daughter, angry.” Came a voice from the air vent behind Miss Parker’s desk.

“Yes, Angelo. I am angry.”

“Angelo help. Follow Angelo.”

Angelo stuck a handmade tool through the grate and loosened the screws. He pushed the grate to the side and gestured for her to follow him. “Angelo help. Follow Angelo.”

Parker wasn’t sure that she should follow him. What could he possibly do to help her that would require her to crawl around the ventilation system? Then again, Angelo often knew about things that she didn’t. Maybe he wanted to show her where she could find the missing files.

“Coming.” She climbed into the small space and followed him as he scooted from corner to corner.

Eventually she could feel a slight downward slope and reasoned that he was taking her into the sublevels.

They came out in an empty, dark corridor. It smelled of must, like no one had been in there for ages.

“Follow Angelo.” He again gestured for her to follow him towards a double door.

“SL-28, RM 03, Archives.” Read a plaque outside of the doors.

The doors were locked, but she easily picked them with a hairpin. Inside looked like a giant library. File cabinets lined the walls along with bookshelves and old computers.

“Jackpot.” Parker exclaimed as she picked up what appeared to be an original expense report. Angelo had led her right to the files that were never supposed to exist. The true accounts of what really went on within these walls.

“Get bad men.” Angelo informed her.

“I will, thanks to you, I will.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Miss Parker’s House
9:00 PM

“A whole room of incriminating files?” Broots asked incredulously.

“Just sitting there waiting for us to come get them.” Parker confirmed.

“How are we going to get them out of there?”

“We don’t. The FBI does when they conduct their raid. We just tell them where to find them.”

“Here are the files. That’s all I could get. I even left the ones about Jarod in there.”

“Good, they won’t ever find him anyway. I’d say we’re ready.”

“You are really going to do this? After tomorrow there is no turning back.”

“I know. This is it. Tomorrow I go to the authorities and let them deal with this.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Miss Parker’s House
10:30 PM


“Did I wake you?” Parker asked as she adjusted the sheets around her body.

“Nope, you know me. I never sleep.” Jarod responded. “How was your day?”

“Better than I expected.”

“Oh really? How do you mean?” Jarod was suspicious and she knew it.

“Lets just say that my plan is going better than I expected.”

“You have a plan? Care to fill me in?”

“Sorry hun, not yet.”

She could imagine that he smiled over the phone, “Hun? That’s new.”

“I’m just in a good mood.”

“Oh, well, I just want you to know that whatever it is that you are planning, I’m behind you.”

“I know Jarod. Thanks.”

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
FBI Delaware Field Office
The Next Day

“May I help you miss?” Asked the young secretary from behind her desk. She tried not to look intimidated by Parker, but it was obvious that between the icy glare she was receiving and the faint outline of a 9mm under her tailored suit, she had every right to be.

“I have some information that I believe your agents would be very interested in seeing.” Parker patted the brief case by her side.

“Um, alright miss. You name is?”

“That isn’t important.”

“Um, ok, please wait a moment.”

Parker began to pace the lobby of the office while she waited for the secretary to return. In Parker’s mind she was taking way too long.

“Agent Penny will see you.” She finally returned, “Down that hall, third door on the left.”

Parker gathered her things from a nearby chair and followed the directions to Agent Penny’s office.

“Come in.” A strong voice resounded when Parker knocked on the door.

She entered with as much confidence as she had every time she entered her father’s office. “I have some information I think that you would be interested in seeing.”

“About a case?” He asked.

“About a place. Have you ever heard of an institution called the Centre?”

At the mention of that name the agent jumped from his desk and closed the door. “Be careful how loudly you say that name.”

“So you have heard of it.”

“I’m in charge of the case.”

“Case?” Parker asked confused. She wasn’t aware of any case.

Agent Penny decided that he needed to know more information before he could reveal any more to this woman. “What is you name?”

“That isn’t important.”

“It is to me and unless you tell me, I suggest you leave.”

Stuck between a rock and a hard spot, Parker conceded, “Miss Parker.”

“You are a Parker?” He asked in amazement. “Miss Parker…the chairman’s daughter?”

Now it was Parker’s turn to be surprised, “You’ve heard of me.”

“It’s my job to know who you people are. If your father sent you, you can tell him that there is no way in hell I am backing off this.”

“My father did not send me. He is not aware that I am even here.”

“Then why are you her?”

“I have some information.”


“The Centre. But first you have to tell me what is going on.” She turned the tables on him.

As she had done before, he decided that the best course of action would be to just come clean. “For the past two years I have been in charge of an investigation into a corporation known only as the Centre. They are rumored to have their hand in everything, from every racket imaginable to fringe scientific research. It’s said that they even kidnap children so that they can perform sick experiments on them. Needless to say that Washington was very interested in this, they sent me to check it out. I’ve been gathering evidence trying to make a case, but they are very good at hiding what they do. I don’t have even close to enough evidence to take them to court.”

“Then you are going to love me. I have all the evidence that you need and more.” From her briefcase Parker produced twenty zip disks. “These are the records of everything that has gone on in the Centre in the past twenty years. All of the torrid little details that aren’t on any official tax return or file. And, there is more where this came from. They have entire rooms of files that aren’t on the computers.”

“Why are you giving these to me? How do I know that this isn’t a set up?”

“Look at them for yourself. I just want them to be stopped so that the nightmare I have lived my entire life can end. So that they can’t take any more children from their parents and so that the children that have already been taken can be free again.”

“And your father?”

“He has never cared for me as anything other than one of his twisted experiments. I don’t care what you do to him.”

“If this is for real, we are going to have to act quickly before they notice that these have been copied.”

“I’d guess that you still have twenty-four to forty-eight hours to make your move. Is that enough time to assemble a team?”

“A team? You’ve really thought this out, haven’t you?”

“You can’t underestimate the Centre, unless you have a death wish.”

“I’ll call Washington and have them examine these. If they agree we’ll go in as soon as we can get the manpower up here. I don’t want to give them the change to flee. For now, you should go back to your work and try to act as normal as possible. If the chairman’s daughter suddenly disappears it could raise questions we don’t need right now.”

“I agree.” She shook his hand. “It was nice doing business with you.”

“I should be thanking you.”

“I’m just finishing what my mother tried to do thirty years ago.” Miss Parker suddenly realized that this, what she was doing now, was what her mother had been referring to on the DSA. This was her work, to save the children.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Cabin
That Night

Jarod tossed and turned in his bed, unable to sleep. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right with Parker. She had seemed fine on the phone, although she was vague about her ‘plan’. He couldn’t help but wonder if she wouldn’t tell him what it was because she knew that he wouldn’t like it.

He could call her, but he didn’t want to wake her up if she was already asleep. A visit could be possible, if he was very careful not to let anyone know.

Normally he wouldn’t have thought of going to check up on her, but this time he had a feeling that she was in danger. There was no way that he would sit back and let whatever was going to happen, happen.

Quietly he got out of bed and packed some of his belongings into a duffle bag.

He scribbled a note, “Gone to Blue Cove. Will call in the morning. –J” and left it on the table by the telephone.

Ethan’s car was the closest one to the cabin, and still had the keys in it. Jarod hoped that his brother wouldn’t mind that he was going to borrow it, but because it was for Parker he doubted that Ethan would mind.

As Parker had already done, he drove down the long driveway and towards the road that would lead him back to the place he despised most in the world.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre
The Next Morning

Passing by Broot’s desk, Miss Parker took notice that he wasn’t there. The night before he had left to meet Debbie and to begin the life that awaited them. Their farewell had been not been tearful, rather full of hopes for the future and promises to keep in contact. She had assured him that she would write him an email about how it went with the Centre and thanked him for all of his help.

On some level she would miss not having him around to pick on. Maybe she wasn’t always the nicest to him, but he was always a friend to her and she appreciated that. She also respected him for the way he loved Debbie. It was possible that she would miss Debbie even more than her techie. She and Debbie had grown close over the years.

As she entered her office she was surprised to find Lyle sitting in her chair waiting for her.

“What do you want Lyle?” She snapped.

“Dad wants to see you.” Lyle grinned.

Parker could feel her heart constricting in fear, yet she maintained her mask of cool calmness. “Fine.”

“He wants to see you now.” Lyle insisted.

“I’ll be up in a minute.”

“Don’t take too long.” He called as he walked away.

Once she was alone she allowed her self to sink into her chair. She couldn’t stop wondering if he had found out about her betrayal. There had to be some reason behind Lyle’s insane smirk.

Her inner sense was going off like a fire alarm, but she headed towards the elevator anyway. It was ironic that she was riding to her death in the very elevator that her mother staged her own death in.

She didn’t knock when she got to her father’s door, she never did. She just waltzed in and made her presence known.

“You wanted to see me Daddy?” She asked innocently.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
Miss Parker’s House

Jarod pulled Ethan’s car into the brushes beside Miss Parker’s house and out of view of the road. He noticed that he car wasn’t parked in the driveway, but decided to check out her house anyway.

He entered the security code that he had memorized long ago and let himself in. Sitting on the couch in front of him sat Angelo quietly doing a puzzle on the coffee table.

“Angelo? What are you doing here?” He asked, taken aback. For her to be harboring Angelo, something big indeed must be going down.

“Angelo wait for Daughter. Daughter take Angelo far away.” Angelo responded after he had given his old friend a hug.

“Why is Miss Parker going to take you far away?”

“Daughter make Centre go away.”

“Go away? Like go away for good, as in take down the Centre.”

Angelo nodded excitedly.

“By herself?”

“FBI help Daughter. Jarod help Daughter?”

“Yes Angelo, I am going to help Miss Parker.” Jarod informed him, “Stay here until either I or Miss Parker come to get you. Okay? If anyone else comes here I want you to hide.”

“Okay.” Angelo replied.

Jarod just hoped that he had really understood. “Good Angelo. I’ll be right back. I’m going to go help Parker.”

Angelo nodded, “Bye.”

Jarod ran out the door, making sure to secure it behind him, and sped off in his car towards the Centre. He hoped that he wouldn’t be too late.

::::::::::::::* ::::::::::::::
The Centre

“You wanted to see me Daddy?”

“Yes, Angel. I’m afraid that your brother has discovered some disturbing information that I would like you to clear up for us.”

“What kind of information?” She asked, although she already knew.

Lyle stepped forward, “A surveillance team we had staking out the Delaware field office reported seeing you, or someone who fit your description enter the building with a briefcase in hand, and exit a half and hour later with nothing. Care to explain?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Your goons mistook someone else for me.” She rolled her eyes, “You need to better train them. Now are you done wasting my time? I have lab rats to catch.”

“Not so fast. This sure looks like you to me. Don’t you think so dad?” Lyle handed them both a copy of a picture, probably taken by the sweepers who were watching the building.

“This is from the back Lyle. It could be anyone. Is that the best you’ve got?”

“Well…” He began, however he stopped as he heard the sound of approaching sirens. “Dad, you better come and see this.”

Mr. Parker joined Lyle by the picture window. An entire squad of police cars were pulling up to the Centre, and another fleet of FBI issue Ford Taurus’s were following close behind.

Mr. Parker turned towards his daughter, fury in his eyes, “You did this! Do you WANT the Centre to be closed down? After all that it has done for you?”

“After all that it has done TO me. Do you really think that I don’t know about your little experiment involving a certain pretender and me? We were bound to find out sooner or later. This place is going down and you are going down with it.”

If possible, the fury in Mr. Parker’s eyes increased tenfold. He plodded over to his desk and removed a revolver from a locked drawer.

“I always knew that you were too much like your mother for your own good. I tried to raise you the right way, to be a Parker, but it is apparent that I’ve failed. Oh well, I know when to cut my losses.”

With a steady hand he raised the gun so that it was even with Miss Parker’s head.

Parker felt a strange serenity come over her. This was it. The end. She was at peace with herself. Whether she died now or not the Centre was going down. She only had one regret, “Tell him I love him.”

“Who?” Lyle asked, the first interruption he had dared since their father had produced the revolver.

“Me.” Jarod leaped down from an air vent behind Miss Parker, a gun in hand.

“You’re alive!” Lyle asked astonished.

“So it seems, Mr. Lyle. It is so good to see you again.”

“You are with him?” Mr. Parker asked his daughter in disgust.

“Yes.” Miss Parker moved away from her father and closer to Jarod, pulling her own gun out of her holster as she did so.

“I can’t believe this.” Lyle said, although no one was paying much attention to him anymore.

“I should just pull the trigger now for all you have done to me.” Parker said trembling.

Jarod looked over at her. She stood poised to kill her own father. Not that he could really blame her.

“You don’t have the guts to touch me, you’re a weakling. Just like your mother was. I’m just sorry I didn’t have Raines dispose of her sooner.”

That was the last straw for Miss Parker. A tear in her eye for the father she always wanted but never had, she pulled the trigger and unloaded a bullet directly into her father’s chest.

Without so much as a scream of pain the old man fell to the ground, a pool of blood forming around him.

Jarod went over to the body to check for a pulse. He felt a mixture of relief and sorrow when he found none. Relief that now it could finally end, sorrow that Miss Parker had to kill her own father to end it.

From the sidelines Lyle stood in greater shock than before. Without a word he set his gun on the floor and back away, hands in the air.

“FBI, everyone freeze!” Agent Penny burst into the room followed by a group of ten agents. “I heard gunfire. Is everyone alright?”

“He’s not doing to well.” Lyle pointed out.

“Who are you?”

“That is Lyle.” Parker explained, “And this is Jarod.”

“The boy from the DSAs?”

“The one and only.”

“Alright.” Agent Penny directed some agents toward the fallen Mr. Parker and sent others to arrest Lyle.

“It’s nice to meet you Jarod. I’m sorry that we couldn’t get here thirty years ago.” Agent Penny shook Jarod’s hand.

“Better late than never.” He replied.

“Lets get out of here.” Parker said quietly, looking over at the man she just killed.

“Sure, Angelo is waiting for us anyway.” Jarod took her hand and led her out of the office.

All around them Agents and Police Officers were arresting Centre employees and commandeering files and folders. She could see a team coming out of the Tower Elevator, three men in tow. From another elevator boxes and cabinets of files were being carted to awaiting trucks. It was really happening.

Hand in hand Jarod and Miss Parker walked out the front door of the place that had held them both captive for so long. Neither looked back as they began the first leg of their new life, free and together.

Author’s Note: So, what did you think? Does it deserve an epilogue? I know it is not exactly one of my best, but I am having a fanfiction slump. I didn’t initially intend to write one of those end-of-the-Centre stories…it just sort of happened. I hope that you liked the extra dignity I gave Miss Parker after the mess I made her last time. I even gave poor neglected Broots a role

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