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Author's Chapter Notes:
Danke to ICD for indulging my madness.
The hunters located the hunted, surprising him. Fortune had rolled the dice and their numbers had come up .Giving chase immediately, using the element of surprise the hunters had the upper hand, rapidly closing in on the hunted. Fortune rolled the dice, again, their number came up. Fortune was smiling on them kindly after so many failures and near misses, today was going to be their day.

The hunters had the hunted cornered, hunters coming from all directions, closing around him like a rapidly tightening noose. They were so close now, they could feel, smell it, taste it. Adrenaline surged in the hunters, fear exploded in the hunted.

Fortune rolled the dice, their numbers didn’t come up. Their luck had run out.

Jarod was surrounded by Sweepers, he had nowhere to go, no way to avoid the swarming suits. Victory was within the hunter’s grasp… Until a gunshot rang out, piercing through coordinated chaos, sending everything into disarray. Hunters and hunted alike reacted to the gunshot, ducking instinctively, not knowing where it came from, where the bullet was aimed at.

A Sweeper with a slippery trigger finger.

A ricochet.

A wet thwap as the stray piece of searing lead slammed into flesh.

Rising from her hunkered position, an automatic reflex to the unexpected gunshot, Parker looked around; the Sweepers shaking off a similar instinct, chasing after Jarod once more, closing the distance rapidly.

Instead of giving chase, something compelled her to turn around and she saw him. And the ever-increasing scarlet on his white dress-shirt, marking the entry point of the bullet.

She stood there, frozen, watching him in disbelief and denial even as he lifted his head, his gaze meeting with hers. The pain and something akin to surprise in his eyes shook her to her core, but she denied the reality of the situation more vehemently.

Not really happening. Not really bleeding. Not really falling. Not really dying.

"Lyle," she breathed, watching as if in super-slow motion as he crumpled to the ground heavily. The dull thud of his body impacting with the ground broke the spell she was under, the sound echoing in her ears, sending her running forward. When a moment ago time seemed to all but grind to a halt, it was now swinging into the extreme opposite; moving in super-fast motion.

The adrenaline from chasing Jarod gave the strangest sensation to the bullet tearing into his flesh, stumbling backwards at the force of the impact. His hand rose to finger the warmth that was soaking into his shirt, seeing his fingertips come away stained crimson. Lifting his head, his gaze met that of his sister’s, the surprise and numbness beginning to give way to the pain in his chest, the inability to stand any longer. Crumpling down to the hard ground, the pain in his back barely registered when the gunshot wound in his chest exploded in white hot pain.

Rushing towards her wounded twin, her focus narrowing down to nothing but him, Parker dropped down to her knees by his head, ignoring the dust and grime she was getting on the legs of her suit. Lifting Lyle into her lap, her left hand planted firmly on his shoulder, holding him steady while her other hand pressed his hand firmer against the wound on his chest.

Lyle smiled up at her gently, only distantly aware of the pain in his chest. "It isn’t bad, just a flesh wound," he murmured softly, seeing the calm veneer in her eyes falter at the sight of the blood. His blood. He had seen enough of his blood spilt on this battleground to be undisturbed by it.

Parker nodded her head slowly at his words, holding his gaze steadily, feeling her wavering calm restore. The bullet had only knocked him off his feet, it wasn’t bad enough to sever his control. A shadow was cast over them when someone came from behind. "Call an ambulance, Lyle needs help," she spoke calmly, her words only mirroring the calm she felt inside. Lyle was alright, he was looking at her, talking to her, holding her hand.

"Calm and quiet, everything is alright," Lyle whispered, closing his eyes, his hand tightening around hers on the wound on his abdomen, grimacing when a flash of white-hot pain shot through him.

"Calm and quiet," she murmured in agreement, stroking her fingers through his hair, feeling the sheen of sweat on his forehead.

"Panic won't get you anywhere, it leads to destruction. Together we’re strong."

"Together we’re indestructible," she responded, feeling calmness and peace at the familiarity of Lyle’s mantra steel her resolve.

"Nothing to fear Parker, I’m not going anywhere," he murmured, his body tensing, his teeth gritting when a renewed wave of burning pain ripped through him. "What’s happening?" he asked around panted breath, giving them both something to focus on, other than the blood seeping through their entwined fingers.

Parker wiped the sweat away from his face, her fingers resuming their petting through his hair as she looked up. She watched as Sweepers closed in on Jarod, tackling him only for the desperate Pretender to fight them off, scrambling onto his feet to escape. Another wave of Sweepers descended on him, hauling him roughly to the ground. This time Jarod didn’t get up. "We have him," Parker said only after the Sweepers had the handcuffs on Jarod, sealing the deal.

"Don’t let him go. We need him. He is our ticket to our ascension." Lyle smiled despite the pain that was forcing its way to the fore of his mind. He had Parker, he had his Pretender, and soon he would have his corporation. His three most valued possessions we’re in his grasp. Four if he included his car.

"I know, don’t worry, he’ll be locked up securely for the duration of the trip," Parker nodded firmly, refocusing her attention on Lyle in her lap.

"I know I can count on you," he whispered, reopening his eyes, looking up at her, longing to kiss her. He couldn’t, not with so many people around. Damn shame that. "I’ll have to cancel our dinner plans."

"You have a valid excuse to cancel. But don’t go getting yourself shot on a regular basis, or I will think you’re doing it just to get out of dinner," she smiled at him, palming his cheek.

"I have a perfect track record for not standing you up. Unforeseen circumstances and all." He leaned into her hand that was pleasantly cool on the side of his face.

"Just make sure it doesn’t happen again," she told him again, stroking her thumb over his cheekbone. She leaned towards him, leaning her head lightly against his, furthering their closeness.

Sydney could only stand back in mute horror as things went from being tragic to horrific. He watched on helplessly as Sweepers subdued Jarod, powerless to call them off, unable to protect his protégé from returning to the Centre, only for his despair to gain a confused tinge. The sight of Parker comforting the wounded Lyle baffled him. They were talking civilly; Parker was cradling her wounded twin, comforting him until help arrived. To an outsider they would appear to be normal twins, and not the infamous Parker twins whose fights could be heard from the Tower all the way down to SL-27. What on earth was going on?

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