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Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Pretender characters. But I felt free to write a fanfic about them.
First of all, I must say the idea for this fanfiction came to me during a dream. I'm re-watching The Pretender these days, and I ofter dream about tv shows, maybe because of my huge imagination. When I got up, I felt I had to put it down.
This is going to be a long journey, chapter after chapter.
I wish to thank my dear and kind "Miss Parker" (Antoinette) who helped me to translate in English: I could not have done this without her! I'm from Italy, so I hope you are forgiving my lacks in your language.
Feel free to review and rate, even if you think this is terrible!
UPDATE IN PROGRESS: major changes to the language, minor changes to the storyline. Currently updated up to Chapter 21.
NEW HAVEN HOTEL – NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
Jarod had never seen the hotel before, but as soon as he got in, he understood he had chosen the perfect place for such an important meeting. The atmosphere was quiet, and all the employees seemed disinterested with what was happening around them.
The hotel lobby somehow reminded him of the Centre, so he felt almost trapped for a moment.
In the evenings they didn’t usually have check-ins, the hotel usually accommodated business travelers. That very night there was a dentists’ conference, which was taking place in the main hall, on the other side of the lobby.
Jarod breathed deeply and tried to summon his courage, then adjusted the shoulder strap of his traveling suitcase and headed to the reception desk.
A not more than twenty-something year old boy welcomed him with a warm smile.
“Welcome to New Haven Hotel, how may I help you, sir?”
Jarod didn’t know how to answer: he had scheduled that meeting, but now that he was there, he didn’t know how to behave, maybe for the very first time in his life. Was his guest already there?
“Well, actually I was waiting for…”
“Oh, I got it! You must be Mr. Jarod!” the receptionist stopped him, and Jarod checked out his badge noticing his name was Christopher.
“How do you figure?” he asked, a bit worried. He was used to be the one surprising his pursuers who typically arrived at a place he had just left only to be recognized because he had talked about them.
“Your wife is waiting in your suite. Room 327. She also told me to give you this – the boy continued and gave him the room key – She said she didn’t want to take the risk of you forgetting your room number.”
Christopher smiled again while Jarod took his key: “My w-wife?” he asked, incredulous.
“Yes sir, and if I’m allowed, that is a woman who knows what she’s doing; it mustn’t be easy to keep your eye on her.”
Jarod smiled for the first time.
“Actually it’s more difficult for her to keep an eye on me, believe me. Thank you, Christopher.” he concluded and gave the boy a tip.
The elevator took him to the third floor, where he started looking for room 327. He walked slowly; his heavy and constant pace hid an interior agony, because he was looking forward to reaching her.
Was she really waiting for him in that room?
When Jarod arrived in front of the door 327, he tightened his suitcase shoulder strap once again. His leather jacket covered his impeccable attire: a blue shirt and a pair of dark jeans. He opened the door in one rapid gesture and got inside the room. He locked the door and lay the suitcase down next to the entrance. He looked around, but there was no trace of her.
Jarod made a few steps inside as his eyes roamed around the room. There was a double bed on the right side, a long leather couch, a glass table with a vase on it and a modern style lamp on the left.
In front of him, a huge window provided a wonderful view of New Haven.
When he realized that the bathroom had to be at his back, behind the door he had seen while entering the room, he heard her voice.
“Hello, Jarod.” she said.
Jarod turned around and found the person he had to date: Miss Parker.
“Good evening, my lovely…wife?!” he quipped. “It’s with deep regret that I notice you haven’t broken the habit of pointing a weapon at me.” he answered, watching her 9 mm aimed at his chest.
Miss Parker was smiling as lioness who had just caught her pray.
“Such a stupid idea inviting me here, lab rat.”
Miss Parker was talking with Sydney and Broots when she got his e-mail. The sender was anonymous, but the message was written in Jarod’s style. While the two men argued about Raines’ changes since he had become the leader of the Centre, the woman read the mail greedily.
Miss Parker, it’s time to stop playing games.
I’m tired of our running and chasing.
I’ll be waiting for you tonight at New Haven Hotel.
If you don’t come, I’ll understand.
Without saying another word, Parker took her coat and disappeared bound for Connecticut and leaving Sydney and Broots wondering what had suddenly gotten into her.
Jarod stared at Miss Parker intensely, he wanted her to understand everything. Before, he had never hoped for her not to be so stubborn.
“Your message was almost touching.” She continued, always smiling. “But now, we’re going home.”
“I see you still consider the Centre your home.”
Miss Parker’s expression suddenly changed as she urged him, “I’m tired of chasing you all around United States, I want go back living my life without it passing me by, Jarod.”
“That’s weird.” he stated, making a step forward. “That’s what I’ve wanted since I ran away”.
“Jarod. Don’t make me cuff you. It’s gonna be easier, if you don’t resist.”
“The problem is, Miss Parker…if you shoot me, you won’t go home so unnoticed as you wish.” he suggested, approaching her gradually.
“I’m calling Sam and we’re taking you away together.” She tried and convince herself.
“So thoughtful of you to come without sweepers…I wonder why this doesn’t surprise me at all.” Jarod smirked.
Now he knew that Parker’s behavior was dictated by a unique feeling: fear.
She had come alone, she hadn’t told anyone where she was going, and Jarod knew that for sure.
Sydney answered the phone after a few seconds: “Miss Parker?”
“No, it’s me – Jarod replied – I was looking for her, Sydney. Apparently, she isn’t answering my calls.”
“She left a couple of hours ago without saying where she was going.” Sydney explained.
Jarod smiled, even if he didn’t like lying to his mentor: “I’ll be in touch. I hope nothing happened to her.”
He ended the phone call and went on driving towards New Haven.
Miss Parker took the mobile from her pocket trying to convince Jarod that she was not afraid to call the Centre and let them know that she had caught him. But Jarod was tired of those games. He hadn’t come all that way to waste time, he had something very important to tell her.
The woman dialed Sydney’s number and waited for the psychiatrist to answer.
Jarod looked at her in annoyance and after a few seconds he suddenly moved towards Miss Parker and stole her phone, stopping the call just as Sydney was answering. He threw the device across the room.
Parker was looking at him with worry, her gun was now touching Jarod’s chest.
He looked at her as if he wanted to challenge her to do something.
“You shouldn’t have done that, boy genius.”
“I’m tired of all this, Miss Parker” Jarod started speaking, making a step forward, with every sentence, forcing Miss Parker to move back towards the wall.
“I’m tired of this stupid relationship between us where you are a hunter and I’m your prey…I’m tired of hiding my real feelings…and I’m so tired of pretending to be running away from you while all I want to do is be with you.”
Parker’s shoulders touched the wall when Jarod got the gun from her hands and threw it on the couch.
He leaned his hands on the wall, encircling her inside his magnetic hold.
Their faces were very close and Parker couldn’t wriggle from his presence.
All she could do was avoiding his eyes because she knew that surrendering to his gaze would mean the end.
“Look at me, Miss Parker.” he said.
The woman shook her head, without uttering a word.
“Look – at – me.” he repeated, articulating every word.
Parker gave up and raised her eyes. She saw a harsh look on Jarod’s face. It was the same look he had whenever she tried to deny the truth.
But it lasted just a moment; after a few seconds, he had that lost-puppy-look again, as if he was begging her.
Jarod took his hands off the wall and stood upright, releasing her from his hold. Then he stroked her hair and smiled.
“Enough talking.” he concluded.
Then it happened. He pulled her to him and kissed her. It was a kiss with every kind of feeling in it: passion, rage, love, pain, madness, resent and, above all, regret. It had been kept for too long, but now they couldn’t pretend anymore. Parker let herself go completely for a few seconds; she wouldn’t dare stand back. Feeling their desire growing, they moved back across the room, starting to take off their respective jackets.
Suddenly Parker winced and pushed away Jarod, shouting, “No!”
She tried to reach the couch, looking for the gun he had thrown away a few minutes before, but Jarod stopped her by grabbing her hand.
“You’re not running this time, Miss Parker.” he told her, dragging her to himself, enveloping Miss Parker in a hug.
“Let me go!” she yelled.
“No…That’s not what you really want!” he whispered softly in her ear.
Trying to escape from his held, she forced herself not to flinch when she felt his hands holding her tightly, but gently.
Parker whirled around and slapped him, forcing Jarod to let her go.
Upset for what she had just done, she hid her face with her hands and turned her back to him.
Jarod had expected this kind of reaction. He touched his cheek, almost amused by the situation, but he knew what he needed to say.
Better, he knew what she needed to hear.
“Miss Parker…It’s always been you…since we were kids at the Centre…the only person in my life, it was you…you can’t even imagine how…”
Jarod sighed, trying to convey the perfect words to express his feelings.
Miss Parker was breathing heavily now; she felt she wouldn’t hold back her tears for long.
“I told you if you wouldn’t get here, I’d understand. But here you are…I won’t allow you to spoil this moment, even if it means letting you go, for good.”
Parker was staring at the windows in front of her, but she didn’t have the strength to turn.
Jarod reinforced his message, “This time, I won’t give you clues or leads, I won’t play games to help you find me. I’ll be a ghost, and you won’t have to bear my presence anymore. So, is that what you want?”
Miss Parker couldn’t turn, not yet. Tears were streaming down her face.
Jarod hoped that she would stop him, that she would react and admit her real feelings.
He waited a few seconds, but when he felt that this was a lost cause, he switched to plan B. He knew what to do.
Miss Parker squeezed her eyes, trying to find some courage.
Should this end like this? How much would she regret not stopping Jarod from leaving now that she could?
She turned around only to realize that Jarod was gone. The door was ajar, so she ran towards the corridor, calling him out loud, “Jarod! Jarod!”
There was no trace of him.
The elevator was going down, she couldn’t reach him anymore.
She got back inside the room, closing the door behind her, bursting into tears.
“Idiot! What did you expect, that he would wait for you forever?” she shouted at herself.
She dried out her eyes and shrugged, trying to regain control of herself.
Jarod was gone. What was she going to tell Sydney?
She turned around again, and her eyes met Jarod’s.
He was here, in front of her.
She was speechless.
“I needed to know if you were ready.” he whispered, walking towards her. “Now I know.”
He took her hands in his and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Parker smiled and dried her face, with Jarod’s help.
After a tense laugh, she kissed him again. Tenderly, as if she had something to be forgiven for.
“I’m sorry I slapped you” she admitted.
“I know you’re tough…I have a whip and some studs in that suitcase…” he joked, leaning his forehead against hers. Parker laughed comfortably and tightened her arms around his neck.
They stood like that for a few seconds, savoring that moment when everything seemed so easy.
Suddenly, Parker panicked. She stared at him, “What are we gonna do?”
“Let’s think about that tomorrow. Tonight, it’s just us.”
“What did you have in mind?” she asked, teasing him.
Jarod smiled and tripped her, making her fall onto the bed. Parker burst out laughing and so did he, while he lay down next to her. Their laughs became a solemn silence when he started gently caressing her arm.
“Are you nervous?” he asked her.
Even if the answer she had in mind was “yes”, Miss Parker knew she wasn’t nervous at all. That man had always known her, better than anyone else. He had helped her defeating the ghosts from her past and finding out the truth about her family. He had guided her away from the numbness the Centre had forced her to live in for years.
“No. I’m happy.” she revealed.
Jarod smiled and closed his eyes for a second, afraid that this was just a dream. When he felt ready, he lifted his eyelids.
Parker was still there, her incredible blue eyes staring at him.
And when he saw her smiling and moving close to him to be held, he understood that he had done the right thing.
NEW HAVEN HOTEL – NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
When Miss Parker woke up the morning after, she found herself convinced it all must have been a dream. But when she realized that she was not in her bed and she was completely naked, she remembered.
It was true.
She stretched her arm to touch the pillow next to her, but he wasn’t there. She rolled over and noticed that the other part of the bed was empty.
Had he left without saying anything?
Then she heard the noise of the shower coming from the bathroom. She stood up and put on a bathrobe, then she glanced at her gun on the couch. She took it just as Jarod came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and another one in his hand, using it to dry his hair.
He looked at her suspiciously, without saying anything. Parker opened the gun and took off the loader, showing him that it was completely empty.
Jarod smiled and put his hands on her arms.
“I took it…just to scare you.” She whispered while he kissed her. “I’d never hurt you; you know that?”
“Sure.” He answered, “But thank you for confessing this, it must have cost you a lot.”
“You have no idea!” she chuckled.
“Why don’t you take a shower? I’m going to inform Sydney and Broots that you’re fine.”
“Ok.” she agreed.
While Parker focused on herself, Jarod got dressed, then he called Sydney with Parker’s mobile.
“Parker, thank God! Where are you, everyone’s going crazy!”
“It’s Jarod, Sydney” the pretender introduced himself “And don’t worry, Miss Parker is fine.”
“Jarod, you found her? Where are you? Do you need any help? Something happened?” Sydney asked, sounding very worried.
Jarod smiled for his mentor’s evident affection towards Miss Parker, “We’re just reconciling ourselves with the past…to get ready for the future.”
“What do you mean? Jarod?”
But the communication was over.
Jarod had left Sydney as always: without any precise answers.
Shortly after, he called room service and made sure the florist he had seen the night before on his way to the hotel brought some roses for Parker. He promised a generous tip to get them in ten minutes.
When everything was set, Jarod looked at his artwork on the table. His plan to convince Parker wasn’t over, yet.
This was phase 2: tame her with a superb breakfast.
When he saw the surprise in Miss Parker’s eyes when she came out the bathroom, Jarod realized he had hit the mark. Parker was dressed perfectly in every detail; she had also put on that perfume the pretender adored, even if he hadn’t smelled it often since he had run away from the Centre.
“What is this?” she asked, amused by the situation.
“Breakfast, Miss Parker…By the way, you think I could start calling you by name, sooner or later?”
“No. You made me a promise years ago, remember?” she asked.
“Look what a beautiful calligraphy you have…I like the way you write, Jarod”
Miss Parker and the pretender were sharing one of those rare moments when he had a break from simulations, so they were writing their signatures on papers, trying to involve Angelo too.
“Come on Angelo, that’s not your name!” Jarod said, when he saw the boy writing “Timmy” on the paper.
Miss Parker wrote her entire name, speaking out loud.
“I like your first name.” Jarod said, “Why am I not supposed to call you by your first name?”
“My mother was the only one who called me that…I don’t want anyone to say it anymore. If you really are my friend, promise me you won’t tell anybody what my real name is.”
“I promise, Miss Parker.”
“Ok, I’ll keep calling you Miss Parker.”
“Thank you, Jarod. But only Parker will be just fine.”
“Listen, I need to tell you something…And please, let me finish, because it’s very important that you understand.”
“All right.” she whispered.
Jarod breathed and let her drink some fruit juice, then he started.
“I’ve always known that I was in love with you. Since we were kids at the Centre…The SIMs were dreadful, and I had no friends, except Angelo. They introduced you into my life as another experiment, to see what kind of effect you would have on me…But they didn’t know what I really felt.”
Parker swallowed, holding in a sigh.
“We’ve been through so much pain, back at the Centre…But when you grew up your father sent you to border school in Europe and we got separated and you forgot about me. But I never stopped asking other people about you.”
“Jarod, you must get over it, Miss Parker is not coming back.” Sydney said to a little more than eighteen-year-old Jarod.
“It’s not possible Syd…She must come back…She promised me.”
“By now she won’t even remember who you are, Jarod! She’s living her life and so must you.”
“No, she promised me she would come back, that we would leave the Centre, together.” Jarod answered, thinking about that moment shared with her 5 years before.
“Then you must believe this…” Sydney concluded, giving Jarod a hand-written note. It was Miss Parker’s calligraphy, he knew it.
You were a good friend to me, Jarod.
But now you must forget me.
I’m leaving and I you can’t come with me.
We won’t meet anymore.
“I never wrote that note, Jarod.” she reassured him.
“I know. But at that time, I was convinced that you had abandoned me and that you didn’t care anymore.”
“In a way that’s what actually happened, Jarod.” She answered, feeling her guilt surfacing. “I had a lot of fun in my school years, I had friends, I dated guys…And I forgot everything that ever happened to me when I was a kid at the Centre. I think it was a kind of self-defense that lasted until they called me back to…hunt you.”
Jarod nodded ruefully.
“It was a mistake to forget you, Jarod. I forgot who I really was.” she said.
“The day you came back...” he continued, almost ignoring her explanation. “Sydney told me. He knew I had been tormented by your absence for years, even if eventually managed to get over it.”
Parker followed his speech hanging on every word.
“Maybe you won’t believe me…But you were one of the reasons that pushed me to run away from the Centre. I wanted to see you.”
Parker was incredulous. “Your mother, your father…Your family…”
Jarod shook his head, “Yes, I wanted to find them at any cost, and I started looking for them as soon as I ran…But before, I had to see you…The day after my escape, I came back to Blue Cove looking for you…You were with a couple of friends of yours, later I discovered that they were college mates. You were drinking something in a bar, and you looked so happy.”
Parker focused on that memory. That had been the only night she had gone out with her schoolmates to talk about old times.
One of the most trivial and monotonous nights of her life.
“When you got home, I saw you lying on the couch with a glass of scotch in one hand…and a picture of Catherine in the other.”
Parker couldn’t hold back a tear.
“That was the moment I understood my purpose: not only would I find my family and avenge other people’s injuries…I would also find out who had actually killed Catherine, so that I could regain your trust.”
He took her hand from the other side of the table and squeezed it.
“You were so incredibly beautiful, Parker…Even more than I remembered…You’ve had everything, and yet you were still that sad little girl I had met at the Centre. I watched over you for a while, from the window, but I was too intimidated to get in. I was sure that you wouldn’t recognize me. And you know the rest.”
Jarod stood up and walked across the room, his arms folded. Parker reached him and made him turn to face her, “If you had come inside that night to tell me what you just said…We would have been spared these years of chasing, Jarod.”
He seemed skeptical. “You would have never believed me…Your father and Mr. Raines manipulated so well that you started to hunt me.”
“They filled me with lies for years. Believe what they told me is my biggest regret. But now I’m here, and I’m asking you to forgive me for being so selfish, weak and blind.”
“You don’t need my forgiveness if you won’t forgive yourself first.”
“But it can put me on the right track.” she replied, smiling.
“You can’t imagine how much I’ve waited for you, Parker.” he whispered, stroking her hair.
“I hope it’s worth it, Jarod. I don’t want to disappoint you.”
“You won’t. The past is past. Now we stick to the future.”
“Together.” she added.
Jarod kissed her and hugged her. He had finally conquered her heart, now Parker was really his.
“I love you.” he said without letting go of her.
Parker was initially surprised to hear herself answering, “I love you, too”.
But then she understood those words had been hidden inside her for years. Now she wouldn’t have to lie to herself anymore.
The future. Together.