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Story Notes:
This is an entry to Pretenderforsaken's 'Four Season Challenge'


Black for Remembrance



It had taken them almost four months to find Jarod.

Jarod had always made contact to taunt her, but after Carthis there had been few phone calls left between them. The events on Carthis had changed everything. Something had shattered in their connection - however twisted it had always been. The balance from before had vanished and nothing could bring it back. Those pieces couldn't be mended again.

She knew that he had called Sydney more often than her afterwards, but other than the information he had to provide for the hunt, Sydney volunteered no further explanation about the pretender and their talks. She had tried to press the aging psychiatrist but he had always managed to evade her questions, always managed to diffuse her attention to something else.

After a while she had given up and hadn't asked any longer.

So aside of the necessary information for the hunt, she hadn't known anything else.

She still remembered the last time he had called her though. It had been one of their normal 3 am conversations; nothing unusual. As always there had been some taunting on his part and some snide remarks on her part. Still it had been different to the first few years of the hunt; the years before Carthis. There had been a certain awkwardness between them, coupled with anger that flowed between them.

Yet, nothing had indicated the change that had been about to take place.

In the end it had been her Inner Sense that had guided them to the wayward pretender; it had been her Inner Sense that ended the search.

***


"You must find your way alone, Miss Parker"

"Ah, shut up, Jarod. I've always made my way through this strange, twisted thing we call life."

"But was it the right way you chose?"

"Leave that judgment to me, Genius."

"Suit yourself. It's just...," he sighed, "you need to take care of yourself--"

"Knock it of, Pez-head."

"- because no one else can," he went on as if she hadn't interrupted.


***


"Uh, Parker, are you listening to me?" There were several things Lyle hated, and being ignored was one of them - one of those he hated most in fact.

"Not particularly. Have you said anything interesting?" she asked evenly, turning to look at her brother, her face an unwavering mask.

Lyle gritted his teeth. "If your're ready to talk about the project, you know where to find me," he said, then straightened and stalked out of her office, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

The silence didn't last long, it never did. There was rarely silence, the voices taking care of that. Sometimes she found comfort in them, but often she cursed them, hated them and wanted to be rid of them. Still, they were always there, and often guided her now. She also often succumbed to their power and let them draw her along. It was a merely different way of giving in to the powers around her - before, it had been her father, Raines, Lyle, the demands any and each of them made, now it was often the voices that would take control.

Parker got up from her chair and strode out of her office, bumping into Boots on her way out."Oh, Miss Parker. I wanted to talk to you," he said and turned when she didn't stop, falling in stride next to her. "I just got the-"

"Not now, Broots."

"-results back. Just like you suspected Raines had-"

She had stopped abruptly, making Broots bump into her. The tech looked up at her, startled. "I said 'not now'," she snapped harshly and stepped into the elevator, glaring at him.

Broots watched the doors slide close. Several more seconds ticked by before he sighed and went back the way he had come from.

Everything had changed since they had found Jarod.

~~~~~~~


She hadn't made anything out of the silence. She had known the moment she had spoken the words in the limousine and had drawn her hands away from Jarod that it would change everything. She had known that she couldn't take the words back; nor could she make the actions undone... or the hurt both the verbal and physical rejection had inflicted.

She hadn't cared about it. It had been a necessary evil in this new game they played.

She had liked Jarod when they had been children, maybe she had even been in love with him, but that had changed - they had changed. That innocence they had shared, the moments in the darkness of the Centre... those were a lifetime away. Too much had happened between then and now.

Sure, she had seen the hurt in Jarod's features in the limousine but there hadn't been any desire to take the words back, to sooth the worry and hurt away. And after they had gotten out of the plane and Jarod had disappeared again... she had barely picked up where she had left, doing her job. It was just the way it was. It had always been like that and Parker had accepted it. The sooner Jarod did the same, the sooner would they all be able to go on with their lives.

She had known that her words and actions were the reason why Jarod had barely called her in those days but - again - she hadn't been able to bring herself to care. In a way she had even been grateful when she wouldn't be woken by the shrill ringing of her phone in the middle of the night as often as before.

There had only been very few calls and she wasn't worried about it. She also hadn't become worried when Sydney started to get anxious.

The old psychiatrist had been fretting - as always - that something might have happened to the pretender when he hadn't made any contact for a long time. She on the other hand had rather suspected that Jarod had severed all ties to his past and was living some new life somewhere.

And that too had been just fine with her; with Jarod giving up his nomadic lifestyle, she had figured she would stand a better chance of finding him. He would have had to let his guard down some time and she had intended to be there once that happened, to be there and use that one slip to drag his butt back into the Centre.

Sydney had driven her up the walls with his pointed questions or remarks about the pretender at last:
"Did Jarod call you lately?"
"Jarod didn't call in a long time, Miss Parker."
"It's untypical for Jarod to go without contact for that long."

Only when Sydney had gotten more and more agitated, she had pushed the hunt forward more relentlessly. She had ordered Broots to work harder to get them results.

But the tech hadn't been able to provide them with any hints as to the pretender's whereabouts. There was no Jarod 'insert-any-name-here' booked on any flights, train or bus journeys. There were no newspaper articles telling about a mysterious stranger helping those in need. There were no hints coming from the pretender himself to taunt them that they couldn't find him and there were no lairs with waiting red notebooks.

It was just as if Jarod had vanished into thin air.

***


"Don't go there, Miss Parker. It'll only hurt."

"That would require having some kind of feelings. Since I don't have that burden, there will be no problem."

"You know that's not true."

"And you know that's my business."


***


Silence settled upon her, for once not even her constant companions - the voices - filling it any longer. She found herself straining to hear something but there was nothing but complete silence left; and rarely had silence sounded so loudly in her ears than at that moment.

Her mind wandered back to the last lair they had seen months before they had finally found him. He had pretended to be some investigator in a kidnapping scene in some small town in the Midwest. The articles in the red notebook had been the same as usual but there had been a note clipped to the last page of the book.

There had been only a few words on it.

'Find the secrets - find the past'

She had been sure that it was his twisted way of telling her that he had found out something new, something about their pasts. She didn't doubt one second that it included her past as well otherwise he wouldn't have left the clue.

She had waited for a phone call that day and the following days but there had been none. There had been no contact whatsoever.

Only silence.

~~~~~~~


It was still dark but the sun would rise soon.

Even though she had only driven this highway once - nearly a year ago - she felt she knew it by heart. There was something guiding her, showing her the way. Just like the last time she had travelled the same road. Her Inner Sense had guided her then; guided her to find the missing pretender; the man who knew many secrets and who had been searching to uncover more; searching for the truth and for his past.

She had been angry at the pretender for keeping some of the secrets he had uncovered. She knew there had been more than those she had found, than those he had led her to find.

I tego arcana dei.

It hadn't been secrets of God Jarod had known but he had held many of the Centre's secrets, many of the secrets she needed to know, had a right to know. He had let her search for the secrets herself, had pointed her towards truth and made seek beyond the lies - screaming and kicking and often entirely against her will.

The headlights of an oncoming car blinded her for a second and she blinked. She would reach her destination soon. She would be there just when the sun was about to come up.

~~~~~~~


She walked the last few steps, stopping at the cliff's edge. Just like she had expected during her drive, the sun was coming up on the other side of the horizon, slowly creeping over the hills in her back. It wasn't powerful enough to warm her, but with the upwards travel of the sun, a certain calm crept into her.

Daybreak didn't offer any promise of a fresh beginning - not for people like her - but she knew it had been his favorite time of the day. It had been one of the more private, honest conversations between them that he had let it slip. How much he liked dawn, liked watching the sun come up.

Jarod hadn't believed in fresh starts either, but watching the first rays of sunlight appear as a faint light on the sky had been something magical to him.

She just stood there on the cliff's edge, watching the water below, the wind brushing through her hair. After a few minutes, she turned and walked to her right. The grass was damp around her feet, dew clinging to it like a coat. The sounds were muffled and being carried away, leaving just the howl of the wind.

Dark rocks lay scattered around and her foot collided with one of them, her eyes following the nearly black object around until it stopped moving once more.

Another memory sparked, another one of their more honest and friendly conversations where she had asked him that personal question. "Why do you always wear black, Jarod?"

There had been a lengthy pause before he had answered and when he did, his voice had been lacking the usual cockiness, the sadness, the confidence, everything that was typically Jarod. She still remembered exactly how he had hesitantly explained that it was for remembrance. He had hated the Centre's grey clothes they made him wear. To him, grey had been another form of indifference, ignorance. Black though, he had explained, meant knowing what he had done and remembering it. It was his way of never letting go, of forever reminding himself of what had been done to him and even more importantly what he felt had been done to others due to him. His way of never forgiving himself.

Maybe it had been his way of coping with what had happened, maybe even his way of never letting himself let his guard down, reminding himself to look over his shoulder.

Her steps slowed when she got closer to her destination but she didn't stop walking.

***


"Where the hell are you, Jarod?"

"You already know that, Miss Parker."


***


Once she had really started looking, the answers had been right inside of her. She had tried to ignore her Inner Sense for days; not willing to believe what she knew was true. He had been right though, she had known. She had felt it for days but she had tried to push it away, ignoring the inevitable.

She had ended up at the same place she found her self walking towards now. Just like today, she had been guided to this destination. Her Inner Sense had guided her.

Slowly, she stopped and knelt down, facing the ocean.

There was no one around. The street behind her was deserted, the damage in the crash barrier long since repaired. There was nothing left to remind of what had happened a year ago at this exact spot.

They hadn't learned until weeks after it had happened. There had been no electrical trails for Broots to pick up, no leads to analyze, just the voices guiding them here.

From what they had been able to gather from the police, it had happened during the early hours of day, more or less around sunrise. The streets had been slippery and he had tried to evade the coyote on the street. The tires of his car had lost contact with the street, racing onward on the small film of humidity that had been coating the street's surface. The car had broken through the crash barrier and shot over the cliff's edge, falling down the two hundred feet and crashing into the ocean below.

There had been nothing anyone could have done. Jarod had died on impact. The rescue workers had been able to retrieve the car and surprisingly, the body hadn't been washed away by the current.

His body had been claimed two days after the accident. There had been no official entry for a John Doe which had been why no one in the Centre had picked up on the accident. They wouldn't have learned about it at all without the voices guiding her.

She didn't know whether it had been Ethan, Major Charles, Margaret, Emily or the boy who had claimed the body but she was sure that one of them had, and in some ways, she was glad that there was a grave somewhere, even though she would never find its exact location.

This place was enough for her. This spot was enough of a place to come to, to pay her respects to a man who had been a worthy adversary; a man who had been a constant in her life despite her struggles to keep him away, who hadn't even fully turned away after her final rejection.

***


"It wasn't your fault."

"We'll never find out, will we?"

"It doesn't matter. It wouldn't have changed anything."

"You can't know that."


***


Even after his death, they were still fighting. She cracked a smile as the voice that had joined the others months ago, faded away for the moment.

Gently stroking the single black lily she had brought along, she carefully put it down to the ground.

Some would have chosen a black flower because it expressed their grief. She had chosen it for a different reason...

Black for remembrance











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