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Jarod woke up early in the night as he saw Mary get up. He stayed quiet as he read her face. Confused. Frightned. Embarrassed. Miss Parker. He couldn't risk calling to her yet. Her mind looked like it remembered everything. Her eyes were darting everywhere, her breathing intensive. Her mind woud be flooded. Mary had no recollection of her mother and father, while Miss Parker had genuine fond memories of her mother. Her father, she had believed she had spent all that time with, that he had taken care of her, and now she realized he had her in The Centre as Mary. All of her days, were a lie. Not to mention, their son. Him. Their time.
It would be boiling in her, confused and enraged. She almost looked like she was ready to cry or throw a screaming fit. She did neither one though. She stayed silent. Her eyes casted over Oliver and then away toward the door. I am giving you time, Parker, don't run. He was hoping he would have more time. There was so much on her mind. All of the memories, living as two beings, now one again. All the treachery that was disguised as love and protection.
She had covered her mouth with her hand, rubbing it and he heard her sigh with a slight stutter. Trying to keep it together. When. He knew her so well, but he'd messed up on Carthis. He moved too fast. She'd gone through too much, he had to be gentle. Slow as a snail if that's what it took. As soon as he touched her, she'd know that he knew. He couldn't let her leave in confusion. He stayed quiet, remained that way a good ten minutes as she continued to stay in the bed. She seemed to be thinking the same thing. Moving would trigger something, and she couldn't just run.
Quiet. Steady rhythmn. Don't move unless she did.
Miss Parker stared ahead of her at the door. My mind is melted fudge in a microwave. Someone's messing with my clocks. Those lines were so vivid in her head. Lyle. Then. Fuzzy, so fuzzy. What she did remember though? Escape, I escaped, I shot at Lyle and Raines. Projector. Movie. Darkness, why was she in darkness? Not alone, the boy next to her. He was there. If I knew what was going on, I would bag Jarod right now, but-! But she didn't feel like she should. She didn't know why she'd been there. She was sleeping, in a bed, with Jarod. Not just with Jarod like some whiskey insane night, there was a boy between them. A boy she had been curled right up next to. A boy that . . . she couldn't . . . she felt like . . .
"Don't run and we can talk."
Miss Parker turned fast to Jarod. He was up? She dug around herself for a gun, but she couldn't find one. She didn't have one. She also didn't want to use it. What is wrong with me?!
"What is the last thing you remember?" Jarod said gently to her.
Gently. He was being gentle. She was in a bed, in some hotel, with a young boy, and Jarod. Being gentle. Now wasn't the time to yell hands up. She didn't speak at first, trying to judge for herself what happened. "Were you playing with my clocks?"
"No. I need to know what the last thing is that you remember," he said again.
Remember. "Broots and Sydney, in the office. Someone was messing with my perception of time by an hour." She had no choice but to share. "Lyle came by. I went to go . . . something. Then a? I shot at someone, in a movie theatre." She looked at the young boy. "With him."
"It's going to come together," Jarod answered her. "Don't run. Please. I won't run either."
"Who is this boy?" She looked straight at him.
"Who do you feel he is?" Jarod asked her back.
Miss Parker looked back toward the boy again. The name Oliver ran over in her head. "Oliver?"
"That's his name," Jarod confirmed.
"Why are you not running away, and why am I not holding a gun on you?" Obvious question that she would love to know the answer to. "What is going on?"
"You already know," he said. "A part of you knows who the boy is."
Impossible. Her instinct. She knew this boy, but . . . "He can't be."
"He's your son." Jarod said it out loud.
"I don't . . ." She didn't have a son. She wouldn't have a son. Why would she ever do that? Right now. Here. Yet. "How?"
"I would answer, but I don't want you to run," Jarod said, once again very gently. "He's your son, DNA confirmed. He knows that. Don't run."
Miss Parker felt her whole chest tighten. "I." What could she say? "Jarod."
"Give it a bit. I want to see if you remember more," Jarod said. "Relax. Breathe deeply. Just remember, don't run. Don't leave your child behind."
She felt a shudder move through her, and not from the temperature. Now it made sense why Jarod was there. He must have discovered Oliver's existence and brought him to me. Jarod cared about family, if he found Oliver, he would take him to his mother, no matter what. That explained why he was there in the hotel. Watching out for The Centre. Was she on her way to a new life with her new son? If I had a son. If they did something because I was a red file, it would have to be The Centre. She couldn't stay there. "The Centre isn't safe."
"You couldn't say it any truer," Jarod said to her. "I am taking you and Oliver from The Centre."
"What's this have to do with the clocks? The time, the missing time?" It had to be connected.
"Oliver was from inside The Centre," Jarod answered. Vaguely. She waited for more. "The time you lost, you became someone named Mary. Mary remembers Oliver, and he gets to visit with Mary. Once a month."
Mary? "What? Are you telling me I have a split personality?"
"No. Miss Mary Parker, you don't," Jarod corrected her. "You have split emotional sides, thanks to The Centre. They've been pulling together though. Mary and Miss Parker, are about to be whole again."
That didn't feel her with lots of joy as she watched his expression. "This isn't going to be a fun thing, is it?"
"No," Jarod admitted. "It's not, but you will get to remember Oliver. You'll remember more things."
"Wait." Huh. "That day that I lost time. Sydney was breathing down my neck about you and your near death," she said, her memory coming back to her even more. "You said I was there." Was she?
"You weren't there, when I was . . . put under," Jarod settled on. "You were there, when I was pulled away, to be put under."
"You aren't kidding?" His look said no. "Do you have any video?"
"Yes," Jarod admitted, "but I'm not showing you yet. I don't want to risk . . ."
"What, risk what?" She asked.
"I don't want to risk you running away from me. Promise you won't run," Jarod said. "I won't run. You won't run."
Running away from him? Taking the boy and escaping would be a bad idea, Jarod must have been the one knowing where they had to go. This isn't just about The Centre. I have a son and little memories of what happened. "I won't run," she agreed.
"Promise me," Jarod said harder. "Swear it, Miss Parker."
Swear it. "I swear I won't run away."
"Okay." He looked over at Oliver and touched his hair gently. "He's got your moppy hair you always tuck under."
Hey. That was hard hair to control, he better not be judging her based on that. She looked at the boy's hair. He did have that same kind of hair. The bangs even grew in his face, about needing to be cut. The original moppy look she had if she didn't keep it under control with hairspray galore. On him, it seemed to fit. He seemed to have familiar features too. From somewhere.
"When he wakes up, you will see beautiful eyes." He kept his attention on her. Fully. "My mother's eyes."
Okay. Jarod liked playing games sometimes. When he first found her in the red files he addressed her as 'sis'. This could be the same thing. Don't jump to conclusions. He'd stop playing and say something. What he really meant.
But he wasn't. He didn't say anything. There was no kidding. No playful look in his eye for his little offset humor.
Oh gaw! She glanced back at him, back to Oliver, back to him, back to Oliver.
"Don't run, you promised," Jarod said.
Well she couldn't, her child was right there! But? Shared with Jarod. " . . . how?"
He wasn't rushing to answer. "The Centre."
Lousy answer, he was hiding things! She wanted to yell to get the answers, when she felt Oliver nestle into her deeper. He was attached to her. He knew her.
And somehow. "I know him."
"Yes, you do."
"Yes, as Mary," Jarod confirmed to her.
Okay. Strange. If I couldn't leave out of frustration I should be tackling him for answers. Why am I not yelling at him? Her heart wasn't beating half as fast. She felt a sense of calm, something she hardly felt.
Jarod seemed to notice it too. "I know it doesn't seem like it? Things are going to get better for you. I will promise you that."
"I don't feel right, I feel . . ." Strange. "I should want to run out right now and go gun down someone at The Centre. Who's responsible for this?" Which one of those ridiculous assholes had decided her and Jarod would make a good child for The Centre?! Someone took her child, in The Centre. Raised it for The Centre.
"There are those in The Centre who play a part in all of this," Jarod said strangely, "but it's not worth gunning donw for you. You feel more relaxed. Calmer, even though you feel everything falling around you."
"Emotional separation, is what made you different from Mary," Jarod reminded her. "You feel like her, but you don't remember her. The Centre is losing it's grip upon that separation. You'll be whole again soon. You'll remember everything."
"When and how?" Miss Parker still didn't see it. "I haven't lost any time, I never had any concussions that lasted long enough for some other part of me to take over." How am I speaking to him so calmly while my world is falling apart? Almost like Carthis.
"Miss Parker. I have the answer to about everything you want," Jarod revealed. "I'm not being mean, but . . . it won't be easy to hear it all at once."
"I'm the kind who rips the band-aid off and deals with the consequences," she told him. "Don't pitter patter around me, tell me." He sighed, a slight annoyance, meaning she knew he would tell her something.
"Mary didn't know either," Jarod revealed to her. "You both had different lives and she didn't know how." He was quiet. "College."
"What about it?"
"You never went."
What? "Last time I checked, I did."
"You didn't," Jarod said again, "and your sarcastic remark, you should try doing. Your college doesn't exist. Neither did your position in corporate."
"You were Mary, flipped. The Centre controlled what you said and you did. When she remembers, she remembers it differently. She remembers the truth."
What?! "I don't understand. I? What are you saying, that I never?" Never left The Centre? "I was, why, hypnotized? You can't believe that."
Jarod glanced at the boy, then back at her. "You're something of a pretender. A Lesser Pretender is the phrase you used for you and Oliver."
"Lesser Pretender?" What the heck? "The hell is that?"
"The power that I have to become anyone I want to be," Jarod answered. "You . . don't get that. You are whatever they choose you to be. Calm. Docile. Easy to manipulate for The Centre's deeds, but that isn't you."
"You got that damn right."
"And that other side of you, it rebelled. They named it 'Miss Parker'," Jarod confirmed. "The more they separated you from what they were turning you into, the more you became distant from the truth. You and Mary were hypnotized to do whatever they wanted."
Miss Parker took a few minutes. Strange visions of . . . wheatgrass. Tomato juice was in front of her, with Jarod sitting in front of her. Eating with her. In his Centre clothes.
"Miss Parker?" He asked lightly, but she wasn't answering back yet. "Are you okay?"
"I've been hypnotized to believe . . ." She didn't want to believe it. She shouldn't. "I want to talk to Sydney." He would have a phone that could call.
He didn't look like he was going to fork it over. "There is a lot involved into this, Miss Parker. Information is not what you need. Relax and let the memories flow. It's the easiest way. Don't involve The Centre."
"I want to hear, from Sydney or Broots, from their own voices," she declared.
Jarod seemed disappointed. "I would never lie to you. But. I get it." He brought out the phone and gave it to her. "Don't stay on long."
She dialed Sydney's number. "Syd?" She asked. "I'm in a hotel room with Jarod and a kid I have been told is mine. Is all of it true?" Yes. "Did I ever leave The Centre?" Jarod was right. She hung up.
Somehow, she had never left The Centre. Not until later, when she was chasing Jarod. She rubbed her temple as Jarod took the phone back. "Now what?"
"Now, you stay away from The Centre." Jarod answered her obvious rhetorical question. "With me and Oliver. There's no choice this time. The Centre can't have Oliver, and you can't take him from me. He's mine too."
Weird. Jarod would never let his boy go, and she couldn't just leave her son.
"Get some rest," Jarod insisted. "The running is over."
She couldn't do anything. She couldn't say anything to that. She laid back down as the boy nestled closer to her again. She took a deep breath. Strangely, it wasn't hard to actually fall asleep.
Meeting Place with Sydney.
Sydney handed the ring to Jarod. "Miss Parker is back in control," he warned Jarod. "Are you sure you still want that? What did you say about this meeting"
Jarod looked at the ring. It looked like his craftsmanship made with what material he would have at the time. He pocketed it. "Just a rendezvous meeting to see what's going on at The Centre." One day, that ring would be on her finger again. "She isn't the same, Sydney. Like Mary had Parker's fury, Miss Parker didn't run or threaten to kill me. She relaxed and even slept last night." He felt the ring in her pocket. "Part of Mary is there."
"Mary with Parker. Parker with Mary. It won't be long before she remembers," Sydney warned him. "I hope Parker can stay calm enough as she pulls it all together."
"Well, she can't return to The Centre. She knows that now, completely," Jarod said to him. "She won't run away with Oliver, she knows she can't outrun The Centre." She'd stay. She'd stay and they could have their chance finally. "Thanks for the ring."
"When she comes back together, Jarod?" Sydney asked. "Will she be more Mary or Parker?"
"She'll be both." Just like she always should have been.
"Perhaps I should put it a different way," Sydney said. "Mary is obedient. Parker isn't. When she discovers the truth of what happened to her in College?"
Ohhh. "She won't run away for good."
"Why would she run away, Dad?"
Jarod looked down at Oliver. "You're supposed to stay in the car with your mom."
"Mom told me to come to you," Oliver answered. "She said she had a message."
Parker! "What message?"
"You'll eventually find her, whatever, she's got bullies to deal with in the meantime."
Ah! "No, no." Her memories. "Bullies." Raines? Lyle? No, she'd want to stay away from The Centre. Who was near there? Jarod looked back at Sydney. "College?"
"I believe that would be a good start," Sydney said. "Remember Jarod. She won't run away to The Centre, but she does take care of grudges. She'll come back."
Oh no. Jarod wasn't waiting on that.
Michael Patrick's Home
"Get to the car, Son," Michael said to his boy. His wife and daughter were out shopping and his son and him were getting groceries. They would meet up for lunch afterwards.
"Can I get an extra bag of chips?" His son asked. "They disappeared in like a day."
"Fine," his father said as his son ran to the car. He locked the door of the house, but when he turned back around.
Impossible. The Pretender was standing right next to his son as he went past him to the car. The Pretender glanced back to the boy, then at him. Michael found himself taking a step back. What was he doing at his personal home? He hadn't even been on the pretender thing in years! It was a short stunt, what was he doing there?
"Michael Patrick." He was right there in front of him, on his front porch. He gestured to the back. "Going somewhere with your son?" Michael nodded. "Groceries?" He nodded again. "That's good. It's important for family to get time together." He leaned in closer. "Not that I should know that, right?"
"What do you want?" What was he doing there? He looked back toward his son again. The Pretender on his private property, right next to his personal home, this wasn't right.
"I've come to ask some general questions," he answered. "Do you remember me?"
Should he say yes.
"I remember you. I never forget a face." The Pretender smiled at him. "My names Jarod. Do you remember me now?"
Michael nodded, it wouldn't be good to lie. If he just had a gun or a phone. His cell, it was too far away to reach at that distance. Not to mention, Jarod picked it right out of his coat pocket.
"Let's make sure this is just a casual meeting," Jarod said to him. "Now, a couple of questions, and then you and your boy can do that all important grocery shopping. Have you seen Miss Parker?"
"Parker?" Oh, her. "Not since we last seen each other." Parker, the best thing about that whole time. Well, until afterwards. Ouch.
"Great answer. Glad to hear it." Jarod smiled at him. "Second? When did you first meet Parker?"
Parker. "Back in college."
"Really?" Jarod didn't smile anymore. "Funny." He pulled some things out of his own coat. College memorabilia."I got this, and this, and this. All of this is a different alma matter. Different colors. Different everything." Jarod dropped it all to the ground. "Give me proof you went to college with her."
Oh, Jarod had his college things that were from his own house. Jarod had been in his house?! Worry was getting deeper now.
"Dad!" His son called out. "Are we getting closer?"
"Are we getting closer, Dad?" Jarod said, stealing his son's words. "To the truth?"
Okay. Jarod knew, it was obvious. "I didn't hurt her, it was up to Mister Parker that we meet." Jarod wasn't backing down, The Pretender wanted more. "I never did anything against her will. Even when I went back a few years ago, I never forced her to be with me. She came to me."
"She came to you like a moth to a flame, are you saying that?" Jarod asked. "There's a reason why, though. She was psychologically drawn to you, because you were there, at The Centre, when you pretended she was at College!"
"Yes, fine!" He admitted to Jarod. "She believed she was in College. I was up and coming, we were the same age, it seemed like I would be a good match. I haven't seen her in years though, I haven't made any mistakes, and I haven't come after you at all." So why was he there? Why did he just want to know about his past with Parker?
Jarod adjusted his coat, pulling it closer around himself. "Thanks for answering the couple of questions. Go on, you go enjoy your time with your son. With family." He leaned forward again. "It's important." Jarod turned away.
Michael heard his phone ring.
"By the way, you know what else is important?" Jarod asked as he turned around to look at Michael Patrick. "Wedding vows, which you broke, and I think your wife's calling to say a little something to you about that second escapade with Parker." Jarod turned back around.
Michael continued to stare at his phone. He glanced toward his son. He watched Jarod start to walk off, flipping a pair of keys in the air.