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Author's Chapter Notes:

Well, this was a long journey, but it's finally over.

I should thank everyone who read this fiction, most of all those of you who reviewed.

So thank you, FANmily, I hope you really enjoyed Mind Rain as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Oh, one last thing: to really understand this chapter make sure you remember Chapter 12. If you don't, go back and read it again :)


(Five Years Later)

Five years had passed since the fall of The Centre, years of great peacefulness for the whole Charles family.

The affection Parker and Jarod harbored for their children increased constantly and exponentially. If Parker had a weakness for Michael, who resembled Jarod more and more with each passing day, the former pretender had a penchant for Clio. Jarod would have never thought he would love someone more than Parker, but he had reached a level of adoration even higher, with Clio.

Jarod loved staying awake to watch her sleep in her crib when she was a newborn; he had been the one to teach her how to walk; her first word had been "daddy" – clearly – and now that she was four years and a half, he was sorry to leave her in the kindergarten teachers' hands until he would fetch her at the end of the day.

Jarod had a special relationship with his first-born, too. They shared an inborn curiosity for all the environment. Jarod often slept in a tent with his boy during summer and he told him tales about his childhood or how he'd helped people when he was on the run. Michael was seven years and a half, by now, and he was showing his cleverness at school. His second grade professors said he could skip steps and attend fourth grade next year, but Jarod and Parker were against it: they wanted Michael to have a normal childhood.

Michael showed the same attitude of his father at that age – he was shy, modest and self-contained. He knew he was smarter than the average kid, but he never gloated. This allowed him to make friends easily, because his classmates loved spending time with Michael, who knew so many interesting things and entertained them with his interesting tales. He also had a fertile imagination: he loved writing sci-fi stories. Seeing his precocity, he had already written tales that could almost rival Isaac Asimov’s novels. His complete bibliography had been gifted from Major Charles to his grandson for his fifth birthday.

Parker and Jarod didn’t like going around. Their life in New Haven was nice because they lived in a relatively small town. 

Parker had decided to return to her first love, music. Remembering how good her daughter was at playing the piano, Catherine suggested Miss Parker to teach piano to the youngest, and she had thought this was a nice idea. 

This job allowed her to pour out the emotional side of hers that too much time had been repressed by her father's cynicism.

Even if he probably played better than her, Jarod loved listening to Parker playing. The former pretender, Clio and Michael often spent time in the living room with Angelo while she performed sonatas from Bach, Beethoven or Chopin, her favorite.

Jarod, instead, had soon realized that he couldn't travel around the country helping the little guy anymore, his face was too recognizable. So, he found another way of fulfilling his wish of saving people’s life: with Zane’s help, he took a real degree in medicine in two years and he started his practice without running the risk of being accused of fraud. He used the money he'd received as indemnity from The Centre to open a clinic of volunteer workers to help patients without health insurance.

Jarod was the doctor who took care of most of the patients, but he also found dozens of colleagues who helped him pro bono when they weren’t working.

Parker was very proud of him, mostly because he always managed to combine the roles he had in their lives. She was still loved and pampered like the first day they had moved in together. At every important anniversary, especially in the day of the year they celebrated The Centre fall, Jarod made her a present old style. Were these pottery statues, origami, mosaics or paints, it didn't matter. Every gift was unique and thought up only for Miss Parker, who had never a gift in exchange. Whenever she made him notice, Jarod answered, ‘You already gave me you heart, Michael and Clio, I don't need anything else from you.

Jarod was also a very present father in his children's lives; he managed to get by through Michael's basketball matches – the boy had joined the neighborhood team to Parker's delight – and Clio's dance recitals, seeing that his daughter had inherited her maternal grandmother's passion.

Lastly, Jarod always found time to go fishing with Sydney every other weekend. Sometimes they went on their own, other times they invited Broots, Major Charles, Nicholas, Ethan and Angelo, too. There were times that also Michael joined them, he enjoyed staying with his grandfathers (biological and adoptive) and all the men he called uncles. During these meetings, Miss Parker, Catherine and Margaret usually stood home with Clio, Emily and Monica, Ethan's girlfriend.

Miss Parker knew that Jarod cherished the moments he spent with Sydney the most. He wouldn’t admit it, especially with Major Charles, but Sydney was still his mentor, his confident, the person he went to when he needed advice. 

The very first time they'd gone fishing together, as Jarod had promised someday they would, it had really felt like they were father and son. 

Of course, Sydney adored Nicholas, but Jarod was his mirrored-reflection, as Major Charles had once told Sydney. Phillip didn't blame the man, because he knew that Jarod loved him too, in spite of all the years they’d been separated.


One weekend a month they all met at Jarod and Parker's house for the family reunion

The first to arrive were usually Sydney, Michelle and Nicholas, who lived nearby.

Jarod was very fond of Sydney's son, and during the last year he’d noticed that Emily liked him too. His sister had bonded with Miss Parker, to whom she confided her more intimate secrets, and one day she had revealed that she was falling in love with Nicholas.

The fact that they lived in two different states was an obstacle, so Emily was thinking of moving to New Haven. 

Parker had offered her house to help her settle and find an apartment on her own. She would love having Emily around the house: Jarod's little sister's extravagance was fascinating, and the two women were closer even more than Emily was with her two brothers.


Broots and Debbie still lived in Washington. Debbie had become more and more beautiful over the years, and one day Broots had sadly realized that her trips to New Haven were a means to meet Jesse, who wrote mails to his daughter every day. Like Jarod, Jesse was a real gentleman, he would never dare make the first step with Debbie. But their connection began gradually and naturally, during one of the reunions. The two kids had gone to the cinema on their own and they had come back together hand in hand, confessing their parents that they had finally gotten together. 

Major Chales had later agreed to let Jesse move to Washington, seeing that Zane had scheduled his admission to the agency.

Parker was happy for the kids: when she noticed their carefree behavior she had sweet thought about what her life and Jarod's might have been hadn't they been separated all those years. What Jesse and Debbie had wasn't a high school crush. It was a solid bond that had resisted for years against the long distance.

They loved each other. 

When Debbie had asked Miss Parker if she was sorry for the fact that her boyfriend looked like Jarod, Parker had realized that the little girl was looking for her blessing. Knowing Debbie's sensibility, Parker gave it right away, making Debbie understand that this was the greatest thing ever.


Catherine and Ben were still together and they cultivated their relationship more and more each passing day. Parker was glad to see her mother so peaceful; her story had finally become a fairytale, with a happy ending. 

She was sorry not to be able to spend more time with her mother, but they both had their lives. But when Parker, Ethan, and Catherine reunited, it always felt like they could achieve inner peace. 


Ethan had been living with Monica for two years and he'd found out what a caring partner she was, a woman who had also won his relatives' hearts, even Miss Parker's.


Lastly, Margaret and Phillip had decided to exchange their marital vows again on the occasion of their fortieth wedding anniversary. Jarod and Parker had been best man and bridesmaid, and for the very first time they had secretly began to wonder if they had done the right thing, not getting married.

They didn't have the need of feeling more committed. Jarod and Parker were completely devoted to each another; a ring wouldn't change the bond that they shared. Both of them saw marriage almost as an obligation imposed by society. Jarod and Parker loved their children unconditionally, they had their father's family name. No piece of paper would change the fact that they were a family.


21st August 2007

Jarod and Parker had decided to host a family holiday, so they invited their relatives and friends to stay in New Haven for a week.

The couple had settled the bedrooms to accommodate the guests, so they had reduced Michael and Clio's space – they would sleep in the same bedroom for a few days.

Michael loved his little sister; fortunately, Clio's birth hadn't generated any kind of jealousy towards her. They two siblings always played together and their parents were glad that they were so attached to each another.

It was Tuesday, August 21st, and Parker was making breakfast for the family when Jarod popped up in the kitchen, hand in hand with Michael and a giggling Clio sitting on his shoulders. Angelo had moved in with Sydney a few weeks before, so it had been just the four of them living in the house for a while.

"Morning, Mom!" the children chanted in chorus. All three of them.

Parker stared at them with preoccupation, "Why so excited?" she asked, looking at Jarod.

"We were thinking about playing Monopoly while we wait for the others, right kids?"

They both nodded in agreement, then Michael ran across the room and let Parker kiss his cheek, "No way, I won't play Monopoly with you anymore."

Michael glanced at his little sister, they both knew why their mother didn't want to play. She hated to lose, and she'd never won once against Jarod.

"Come on, mom!" Clio begged her while Jarod walked towards her.

"Come on mommy!" Michael reinforced the message.

"Come on, don't make us implore you, mommy." Jarod challenged her, kidding while she took advantage to give her a fast but passionate kiss that made both Michael and Clio giggle.

"Jarod, you always win. There's no satisfaction." Parker explained.

"If you want, I can let you win." he replied slyly.

"Since when did you ever let me do something, boy genius?"

Jarod took Clio from his shoulders and dropped her off, stroking her brown hair and asking, "Honey, will you help Michael setting up the game? And remember, the thimble is mom's."

Parker smiled and thought about the time she'd spoken with Jarod about the memory of playing Monopoly together with her family.

"You know, Jar, I don't like storms."

"Why, Miss Parker?" he asked her, thinking that he'd never seen one, but he would love to.

"They remind me of…nothing, it doesn't matter." she answered, then she stood up. They were talking in the break area, where Jarod used to spend time between sims. Miss Parker was about twelve years old.

"Come on, tell me. You know you can tell me everything." Jarod tempted her.

Miss Parker smiled and came back sitting with him. Even if they didn't know, Angelo was hiding inside one of the air ducts behind them.

"The last time I've done something fun with my parents it was during a big storm. The roads were all closed, so daddy was trapped together at home with mommy and me."

Jarod hung on her words, as he did whenever Miss Parker told him a story about her life outside the Centre.

"I remember that he was very annoyed, because he'd some work to do back at The Centre. Then I found the Monopoly box hidden inside a chest and we started playing."

"Monopoly?" Jarod asked, not understanding the meaning of that word.

Parker smiled, as always, "It's a game based on lands transaction. The first person who makes the others bankrupt wins."

"But it's terrible!" Jarod commented, horrified.

"It's only a game, Jarod." Miss Parker answered, chuckling, "There are different pawns to move on the game board. For example, daddy was the shoe, mommy was the car and I was…the thimble." She sighed and smiled sadly at that memory, "We played all day and into the night, and I won almost every match."

"You must be a very good player, then. You could teach me?"

Parker's face changed and got sad, "Daddy doesn't allow me to bring my games. He thinks it would distract you."

"Oh." Jarod sighed. 

Then, after a few seconds, he got back to his senses, "It means that one day, when we're both away from The Centre, we're going to play together, like a family."

"Deal." she answered, smiling and shaking her hand with his.

Parker felt an immense tenderness when she remembered that day.

Jarod knew how important that memory was to her, he had also brought it up when he had sent Broots, Sydney and Parker on that trip to the "Wonderful World of Oz".

"I promise; I'll try to be good."


"I let you manage the bank." Jarod implored her.

Parker’s face lit up with a beaming smile, "Deal." she murmured, shaking her hand with Jarod, just as she'd done when they were kids. Jarod immediately recognized the gesture and he hugged her eagerly and kissed her again, his lips leaving hers only when he heard the kids' voices calling from the living room. They would have time to be together later.

After losing – again, Parker came back to the kitchen to tidy up before the arrival of the guests. Michael and Clio were playing outside in the garden, and Jarod was watching MTV. An announcer was introducing a group very trending those days, the Muse.

Jarod loved British music; he was a true fan of all English contemporary bands: he knew by heart songs by Oasis, Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead, Verve, Blur. Parker always teased him by saying that maybe it was because he'd lost the first British Invasion during the sixties, and now he wanted to enjoy at least the second one.

A rhythmic song was playing, with an eightiesish electronic sound that reminded Parker of the Depeche Mode, a group she'd particularly liked when she was younger.

Fear and panic in the air

I want to be free

From desolation and despair

And I feel like everything I saw

Is being swept away

Well I refuse to let you go

When she listened to the lyrics sung with that perfect English accent that Parker had enjoyed during the years she had spent in London, the woman immediately sensed that Jarod was fascinated not only by the immersive melody. 

The words sounded almost like a mirror of Jarod’s former life.

I can't get it right

Since I met you

Loneliness be over

When will this loneliness be over

"Jarod, honey, it's only a song." Miss Parker observed, noticing his attention to the screen and his blank gaze.

"Yeah, but it's fitting, isn't it?" he asked her, his expression more nostalgic than usual.

Life will flash before my eyes

So scattered and lost

I want to touch the other side

And no one thinks they are to blame

Why can't we see

That when we bleed we bleed the same

I can't get it right

Since I met you

"I thought your life got better, since you met me." Miss Parker joked sarcastically.

"It did. But for a very long time I didn't know how to deal with you. You couldn't see that we were bleeding the same, that we were the same."

Loneliness be over

When will this loneliness be over

Loneliness be over

When will this loneliness be over

"And yet, there's a difference: your loneliness is over, Jar. Don't you think?" she asked him, taking his face between her hands and caressing his cheeks softly.

"I know, Parker. I like this song, I haven’t listened to their last record, yet. Don't you think the atmosphere reminds a bit of the 80s? Did I mention that I miss them?" he asked, changing expression and surrounding Parker’s waist with his arms.

Even after a natural birth, Parker's body was still enviable, in spite of the fact that she was almost fifty. Jarod thought she was getting more and more beautiful each passing day. And knowing the woman's vanity as he did, Jarod didn't miss a chance to remind her how charming she was.

"Let me think about it." Parker answered, putting her arms around his neck and waving right and left. "Horrible fashion, feathered hair and shoulder pads, fluo colors, Duran Duran. Let me tell you, you didn't lose nothing, at all!"

Jarod burst into laughter and kissed her softly.

At that moment, Michael and Clio ran inside the house screaming, "Mom, daddy, grandpa is here!"

"Relax, Michael. Which grandpa?" Jarod asked him, parting from Parker.

"All of them!"

Jarod and Parker exited the house in time to watch Sydney coming along with Michelle, Nicholas and Angelo. They lived in New Haven, so they were the only ones that wouldn’t be sleeping at Jarod's. In fact, they had no suitcases. 

Sydney was looking forwards to tell Parker and Jarod that he wanted to keep Angelo with him, now that Nicholas was moving in with Emily.

Behind them, Margaret and Phillip were getting out from their pick-up truck with Emily, who immediately ran to Nicholas. 

In the meantime, Catherine and Ben were already greeting the others.

"Broots and Debbie aren't here, yet?" Margaret asked.

"They're on their way with Jesse, their flight was late." Parker explained.

While everyone spent some time in catching up, Parker accompanied her guests inside and showed them their accommodations.

"Sometimes I forget how beautiful this house is. You remember when we used to come here, Cat?" Margaret asked her friend.

"I've got beautiful memories of this house, Maggie. Most of them are about our children." she answered, holding Parker.

"Ethan?" she asked her mother.

"He and Monica are on their way, too."

"He called you or you were told by the voices?" her daughter asked.

"Uncle Ethan speaks with me, sometimes!" Clio suddenly commented, taking Parker by surprise. The woman stared at her mother, guessing at once that she had something to confess her.

"It seems that since Clio’s birth, Ethan has been developing his inner sense again. My belief is that the distance works as a catalyst." Catherine explained.

"You mean that I could start hearing the voices again?" Parker questioned her, curious and a bit hopeful.

"I hope so." Catherine responded, kissing Parker.

"Monica asked us not to tell you, but I can't keep the secret a second more: they decided to get married! They set the date for June 2008." Ben confessed Parker and Jarod, who took Clio in his arms again. 

His hands weren’t able to stay far from his daughter too long.

"I'm glad." Parker commented, glancing nervously at Jarod. He reciprocated, in agreement.

"Mommy, why you and daddy aren’t married?" Michael's soft voice interrupted all the chatter and draw all the attention on the couple.

Jarod and Parker sighed, not knowing what they were supposed to answer their son. Did they still have a valid reason for not being husband and wife – at least officially?

"I wish you were married too." Clio said, slowly.

"Sweetie, mom and dad love each other very much, even if they're not married." Parker reassured her.

"But if you love mommy so much", Clio continued, staring at her father with her lovely and naïf look, "why haven't you ever asked her?"

Sydney was captured by the scene: those kids had an incredible intelligence, they reminded him of little Miss Parker and young Jarod.

"She's right, daddy, why don't you make a formal proposal? Wedding is a reliable and lasting commitment, it's like the job you do at the clinic."

"Scolded by my own son, who's not ten years old, yet. A day to remember!" Jarod joked, putting Clio into Sydney's arms.

Everybody laughed at this and dispersed around the house, but Parker needed to be alone for a while. She went outside and sat on the rocking chair next to the swimming pool – an addition built by Jarod after they'd moved in.

When the former pretender saw her so thoughtful, he joined Parker and bowed in front of her, leaning on a knee.

"Parker, don't worry, they're young, we must get used to this kind of questions."

"Michael is so smart. I should have known that sooner or later he would expect us to get married."

Jarod smiled, "He's as stubborn as you. He wants us to value his opinion, did you notice how well he verbalized it? He's a natural!"

"He's incredible." Parker agreed, shaking her head dreamingly.

Jarod took her hands in his, knowing that something was bothering her, "What's going on? Wanna talk about it?"

Parker didn't know if she should tell him. She didn't want to look vulnerable.

"When we attended your parents' second wedding, it was beautiful. For the first time in my life I've found myself envying a married couple. I started to think that it might be –"

"Natural?" Jarod concluded for her. Parker nodded, with a sigh.

"I know we never talk about it, Jarod, but don't you think it would be right if we – well, if we got married?"

Jarod stared at her. After all those years, she was still able to leave him speechless.

"I've always thought you didn't want to get married, Parker. We never bring up the subject, I never wanted you to feel obliged to do it when you got pregnant. In the end, it’s just a piece of paper, you know?"

He paused for a moment and sat next to her.

"After Clio's birth days became weeks, weeks became years, and you stood by my side, loving me like the first day. Nothing ever changed. The way you behave around me, the way you look at me, the way you kiss me, the way we make love – which reminds me, we should take a vacation, only the two of us, and renew our passion without our little pests around, shouldn't we?"

Parker laughed.

"You gave me everything I needed, for years. I didn’t want to push you to the altar, if that wasn’t what you really wanted."

Parker raised an eyebrow, "Meaning that during these last five years…you wanted to ask me, but you didn't because you were frightened I would say no?"

Jarod nodded slowly, almost blushing, "Well, frightened maybe is a bit too much, but –"

"I already told you once. Sometimes you are very dense, for a genius."

"You mean – that you'll marry me?" he demanded, excited as little a kid. He was feeling as nervous as the first time they had kissed when they were kids.

"On one condition." she stated.

"Anything." Jarod whispered, inhaling her scent as he got closer to her.

Parker smirked mischievously, "No white dress."

Jarod laughed, "That would be dense.”

When they finally went back inside, they found the whole family rejoined in the living room. The newly-arrived Broots, Debbie, Jesse and the couple composed by Ethan and Monica, entered along with Jarod and Parker.

As soon as they were all there, Jarod lowered the television volume and took the floor.

"We have an announcement" he said, encircling Parker's shoulders with his arm. Without her stilettos, her figure fitted perfectly with Jarod’s, her shoulders reaching right under his.

The people in the room looked at one another anxiously.

"Given our children's persistent request" Jarod commented, pointing at Michael, who smiled in answer, " – we've finally decided to follow their advice and get married."

A chorus of congratulations raised all around the room while everybody stood up to hug Jarod and Miss Parker. Ethan and Monica informed them that they could schedule for the same day, but Jarod didn't agree.

"That will be your day, Ethan. Parker and I were thinking about a more intimate setting, just the present people. Something little, but meaningful."

"When are you getting married, Mom?" Michael asked, approaching his parents so that Parker could take him in her arms. She looked at Jarod, who smiled in return, clearly on cloud 9. 

They were both thinking the same. All the people they loved were already there. They'd waited for such a long time, essentially all their lives. There was no more reason to hesitate.

"How about…" Jarod answered, addressing to all the people in the room "…this weekend?"

Once again, all the voices inside the huge living room started to overlay when their parents, siblings, friends and children shared opinions and began to talk about what they could do for the wedding. 

Parker and Jarod parted from the group just to look at them all, they couldn't believe the luck they had in their lives.

In spite of all the pain, the nightmares that sometimes still harassed them, and the memories of the rough lives they had until a few years before, they felt as if their life couldn't be more perfect, now.

Michael and Clio ran outside in the garden, followed soon by Debbie and Jesse, who were looking forward to dive into the pool and enjoy that summer afternoon.

Michelle, Nicholas and Emily move towards the patio, Margaret and Phillip followed them, holding each other tenderly.

Broots approached the newly engaged couple together with Sydney and Angelo, who was calm and relaxed.

"Miss Parker, Jarod, forever." he said, with a huge grin on his face. Parker smiled at his hint of joy. The others chuckled, then Angelo was invited to go outside with Ethan and Monica, who were in the garden, right next to the pool, with Catherine and Ben.

Listening to his daughter shouting in amusement in Jesse's arms, Broots sighed, "She's grown up so fast. I bet we will attend her wedding, soon."

Jarod put a hand on his shoulder, "You did a wonderful job with her, Broots. Debbie is a wonderful, smart girl, I hope Clio grows up just like her."

"Even if she won’t be so lucky to find her daddy's clone as a boyfriend." Parker replied, glaring at Jarod with a mischievous grin that urged Broots to roll his eyes at their umpteenth kiss. Fortunately, the technician's phone rang.

"Hello? Hey, hi Andie."

Jarod and Parker parted at the same moment and shifted their curiosity towards their friend.

"Andie?" they wondered in unison.

Sydney shrugged, he knew less than them.

"Yes, we've arrived at Jarod and Parker's. Hey, Andrea says hello, guys!"

Parker and Jarod stared and smiled, waving at Broots for saying hello.

"Yep, everything's fine." Broots walked away to get some privacy. "Yes, I'm sorry you couldn't come with us –"

"You're telling me that there's something between Agent Zane and our lovable geek?" Parker demanded, addressing herself to Sydney.

"You think it's odd?" the psychiatrist asked in answer.

"If the Ice Queen was able to catch her prey, maybe even a government agent might catch a hacker, uh?"

Parker beamed at Jarod, then looked back at Sydney, who was exiting, too.

"Sydney." she stopped him, grabbing his arm.

The old man gave her his full attention, sensing her change of attitude. 

Jarod felt he already knew what she was going to ask.

"You will take me to the altar, won't you?" she demanded, bluntly but hopefully. Parker wasn't expecting a "no" for answer, but it had been difficult to ask him that question.

Sydney looked at her seriously, then he grinned like never before in his life. He was full of affection and love, in that moment. His eyes were moving from Parker to Jarod. He took the hand of the woman he'd been calling daughter for years, by now, and kissed it. She blushed a bit, while he replied, "It will be my honor, Miss Parker."

She smiled and hugged the old man, while Jarod hardly held back his tears. 

Sydney stroke the woman's hair, then his hands ended up on her face. He wiped her tears while they both smile in happiness. Before getting outside, he stopped to make a statement.

"I'm glad that Broots found his soul mate, too." he said, gazing at his friend, who was still talking at the phone.

"Me too.” Jarod agreed. “A man short I should be jealous of." Jarod replied, easing the tension.

Parker turned towards him, offended by his remark, "And why on Earth should you be jealous of a man I consider my brother?"

Jarod grimaced, "What about that night in Vegas?"

Parker complained, "Never mind the fact that we were chasing you, and we only got a usual dead-end; nothing ever happened between the two of us!" she screamed.

Noticing the mood getting warmer, Sydney exited to rejoin with Michelle.

"Oh, come on, Broots was always crazy about you!"

"Yeah, and I've always decently reminded him not to show! And what should I say, will you invite Zoe and Nia to our wedding, too? Or maybe that lovely widow, how was she called, Kristen?" she challenged him, pouring out her repressed jealousy. They were alone inside the house, by now.

Jarod snarled, while she walked away from him, "For the record, it was Kristi. Obviously, of all my aliases, the only ones you mention when you want to pick up a fight are the ones involving women, uh?"

Parker sneered at him, "You watch too much television, monkey boy. You ain’t no Sydney Bristow, you were a pretender, a chameleon who performed his SIMs in a very personal way. I wonder how many whims you satisfied, back then!"

Jarod approached her again, grabbing Parker by her arms, "It’s a shame that every time I had something to do with any of them, I always crawled back to you. And you regularly rejected me, and call me lab rat, or boy wonder, or boy genius, or –"

Parker put a hand through her hair, her patience over, "I did it just because I was jealous! Didn't you ever realize?"

Jarod stopped arguing for a second, thinking about the absurd things they had just said, or better shouted to each another.

"God, you're beautiful when you're angry." He whispered.

"You know, I've been told the same thing by my crazy brother Lyle, twice."

Hearing that name for the first time since a very long time, Jarod hesitated a moment.

Parker, instead, dragged him to herself and kissed him passionately, feeling her husband-to-be surrendering to the irrepressible desire to lift her and bring her up to their bedroom.

"We – have – guests…" she whispered, between a kiss and the other.

"They won't even notice – our absence", he reassured her.

Parker was the first to get back to her senses. She parted from Jarod and pushed him away, without ever stopping to smile. Then her eye fell on the television, MTV was still on.

She took the remote and almost turned it off, but her attention was caught by the image of a huge white enlightening room and a man walking towards a microphone. Behind him there was a big wall painted in red. Full of curiosity, she raised the volume. Immediately, the riff of a mellow guitar with an unmistakable sound permeated the room. A few seconds later, a voice started to sing.

Keep you in the dark

You know they all pretend

Jarod, who was going outside, recognized the voice and its style at once. He stopped in his tracks and approached Parker, intrigued by the video.

Keep you in the dark

And so it all began

"It's Dave!" he shouted, smiling, "I heard that their new EP was to be released, but I didn't know today was the day!" he continued, noticing the word Brand New on the screen.

At that moment, drums began to accompany the melody, changing the initial attitude of the song drastically. Parker rolled her eyes, she couldn't expect anything less from the Foo Fighters.

Send in your skeletons

Sing as their bones go marching in…again

The need you buried deep

The secrets that you keep are ever ready

Are you ready?

I'm finished making sense

Done pleading ignorance

That whole defense

Jarod was totally regressing, he started moving his head in time with the rhythm. The lyrics, as usual, were very significant.

Spinning infinity, boy

The wheel is spinning me

It's never-ending, never-ending

Same old story

Realizing that the verse was leading to an even more violent chorus, Parker grinned. Jarod seemed captivated by the song.

What if I say I'm not like the others?

What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?

You're the pretender

What if I say I will never surrender?

As soon as they heard that magic word, Parker and Jarod exchanged a look of amazement, both with opened mouths. It didn't take long before they started to laugh.

"He did it!" she yelled.

"He kept his promise! He truly wrote a song about me!" he screamed, as happy as a little boy.

Parker couldn't believe this. Maybe it was just a coincidence, and yet Jarod had influenced so many lives that who knew, perhaps.

Parker took advantage of the instrumental part to talk, "He was right, Jarod. You noticed without the need of a public dedication."

"And you were right when you said that it wouldn't be a love ballad." he answered, smiling and holding her from behind. In spite of the music rhythm, Parker found his gesture terribly romantic.

In time or so I'm told

I'm just another soul for sale…oh, well

The page is out of print

We are not permanent

We're temporary, temporary

Same old story

The video changed when a group of armed soldiers appeared in front of the band playing the song. Parker and Jarod couldn't help but thinking about The Centre sweepers.

What if I say I'm not like the others?

What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?

You're the pretender

What if I say I will never surrender?

The guitar solo began again, Dave Grohl was still moving on the screen. Parker thought he was very attracting, though she would never say that out loud.

"The best is yet to come." Jarod sentenced.

"How do you know?" she asked, smiling.

"I know." he silenced her.

I'm the voice inside your head

You refuse to hear

I'm the face that you have to face

Mirrored in your stare

I'm what's left, I'm what's right

I'm the enemy

I'm the hand that will take you down

Bring you to your knees

So who are you?

Yeah, who are you?

The armed soldiers of the video started to charge, while the guitar repeated the soft and intriguing melody the song had begun with.

Keep you in the dark

You know they all pretend

A sudden break, and then the song picked up from the chorus in an explosive way; in the video, the red wall turned into a rain of paint falling over the soldiers, terribly recalling the color of blood.

What if I say I'm not like the others?

(Keep you in the dark)

What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?

(You know they all... pretend)

You're the pretender

What if I say I will never surrender?

So who are you?

Yeah, who are you?

Parker and Jarod watched the video until the very last second, captivated by the melody and the determination of the band. As soon as it was over, Parker turned off the tv and looked back at Jarod intensely, surrounding his neck with her arms.

"So, who are you, Jarod?" she asked him, her eyes losing inside the chocolate ones of the man she'd been in love with her whole life.

From the outside, their friends' were shouting to join them and enjoy that extraordinary sunny day. Jarod smiled and kissed her, tenderly this time.

"I'm the pretender."

Parker smiled, and she tried to show any kind of emotion to him. Love, affection, friendship. And mostly, trust.

Jarod couldn't help but burst into laughter. He took her by the hand, dragging Parker outside where the others were waiting.

When he saw his children in the pool, Jarod did something he'd never done before: he walked and dragged Parker until he managed to push her inside completely dressed. While doing so, however, he fell inside with her, and when they resurfaced, they started to laugh, approaching each other to kiss.

"God, I love you, boy genius." she said, between a laugh and the other.

"I love you too, Ice Queen."

A second later, Michael and Clio swam close to their parents, splashing them. Jarod and Parker weren’t annoyed by the water. Rather, she caught Michael while Jarod embraced Clio to put her on his shoulders.

The sound of laughter in the house didn't disappear until late night. And only then, when all the guests were sound asleep, Jarod and Parker went outside in the garden to lay under the stars, both contemplating that marvelous August sky. They fell asleep in a tender embrace, already tasting how beautiful it would be to have other days like these, in the future.

They would always be together, no more you run, I chase, no more late night phone calls, no more clues to solve.

Truth had won.

And the mind rain that had permeated their lives for years, was finally over.

For good.

Chapter End Notes:

The End

Songs quoted in this chapter are

Map of the Problematique by Muse (EP: Black Holes and Revelations)

The Pretender by Foo Fighters (EP: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace)

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