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Jarod walked several blocks away, and waited in his car. He watched as a car sped away. He watched as that same car sped home. Michael had lived in a cul-de-sac, Parker had to come that way. He was the closest one she would want to have a word with. He waited. He left his son with Sydney for now at a safe hotel so he could handle this. Waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . "Gotcha."

He spotted her in the car and took off behind her, honking his horn annoyingly. She had no choice but to stop. She pulled over and he did the same, getting out about the same time.

"Like I can run from you anyhow, I have business to take care of," she insisted to Jarod. "Fifteen minutes."

"No need. Taken care of," Jarod said. "Please get in the car."

"Taken care of?" She asked. "Nothing was taken care of. You don't get it."

"Yes, I do. You were never in college, you knew Michael Patrick in college. Two and two together, I already dealt with him." The look on her face. "Revenge is sort of my thing, Miss Parker."

She looked confused. "What do you mean? What did you do?"

"Michael wasn't a good guy with his wedding vows," Jarod answered. "I made sure the married couple have no more secrets."

Miss Parker stood a little straighter. "That was my personal business, Jarod."

She still didn't yell. "Your personal business, is giving you a reason to run away. Run away from Oliver and run away from me. That's not going to work."

"Not everything is about you," she answered to that.

"I know that," Jarod said. He should be careful. He had already warned Oliver not to tell her about their 'wrestling' or their past. As far as she knew, Oliver was made by The Centre. Not by them willingly. She already had a lot on her mind, he wasn't going to give that up yet. Even when he did, it wasn't going to make her run to him. She'd just want to run away more. So, how should he express this? "I help people who were wronged, Parker. You were wronged. Why wouldn't I want to help?"

"I am not a charity case, I can handle things myself." Still, she wasn't yelling. "Is he getting a divorce?"

"Most likely," Jarod admitted.

"Yeah, well, a bruised bone is better." She snorted softly, trying to hide it behind a yawn. "Fine, whatever." She looked toward his car. "Where's the boy?"

"Oliver I had to leave with Sydney. That's another reason you shouldn't just off and go, he's too young to leave alone."

She didn't answer right away. "If it didn't end his marriage, I'm coming back to take care of him."

Good. "If he doesn't we'll find a better tactic. This is my area of specialty, Parker. Let me handle it or help."

She clearly didn't want to, but she wasn't getting a choice. "One man show can't do it while watching a kid."

"Nope, I can't," Jarod agreed.

She was still bitter. "I can't even believe I'm doing this. Fine, I'll let this go for now."

"Good. When you have all your memories back, that'll be the time to get this done," Jarod agreed. "Until then, let's stay safely away from The Centre with Oliver. He already spent his life in there."

"He can't get caught," she said. "I didn't want him involved, it's too close."

"You're his mother. You can't get too close either or he'll lose you." I'd lose you. "I won't bother you about your mother, your father, or bring up your past working with The Centre to catch me. Not unless it's vitally important."

That reasoning seemed to agree with her. "I smashed his head."

What? "Smashed who's head?"

"Broots. I remember, I know I smashed his head into the side of something."

Ah. "Broots gave you a ride out of The Centre with you and Oliver. When he revealed you worked for it, you got a little testy," Jarod said. "Afterwards, you ran."

"To a theater. A movie theater. Dark, no movie running," She looked at Jarod. "I had the boy with me and a gun."

"Yes." Her memory was getting tighter. "Darkness felt safe for you and Oliver. It's how you lived. It's how we lived," Jarod added. "In complete darkness or complete florescent lighting in an all white room."

Her face. She was struggling with that, realizing that it was the truth. Even if she didn't recall it. "I'll never attend a magic show. They'll make mincemeat of me."

"You can watch." He smiled at her. "Can we get in the car and go get Oliver now? I don't want to leave him there long with Sydney."

"Fine." She moved toward his car. "I don't get it though. Why would I name a boy, Oliver? I've never thought about that name."

Jarod hid his smile as he took off. "You'll find out one day, Miss Parker."


"Where's my ring?"

Jarod turned from the stove and looked at Miss Parker. For two months, she had switched on and off like a light. Oliver understood it, and seemed to know what he should talk about around her. Jarod's clear indication is when she asked his favorite question.

"Where's my ring, Jarod?" Mary asked. "It's missing again."

"It's never missing." Jarod reached in his pocket and gave it to her. "I always have it."

"Right." She smiled and put it on. "My mind doesn't always remember that." She scrunched her nose. "Oliver?" She went toward their son who was coloring on the ground. "How are you doing, Honey?"

Jarod went back to stirring dinner. Mary was back. When Miss Parker's memories only came back, she'd ask what the ring was on her finger, he'd say he didn't know, and he'd take it and keep it safe again.

Then when Mary's memories kicked in, he would always here 'Where's my ring?'. They never seemed to remember that he had it or he took it. He was getting used to it.

At first, he tried not to act any differently either between the two of them, but it wasn't easy to treat the side of her that remembered Miss Parker the same as Mary. As Miss Parker, she was still a great mother. She was becoming greater, and it was almost impossible to tell the difference when she was with Oliver. Both sides were wonderful and patient with him.

But with Jarod, there was always a difference. Like?

He hugged her and stole a kiss on her cheek. "Suppertime."

That would always lead to a real kiss between them afterward. He always stopped it before it could go further. Stealing a kiss was one thing, anything else when she was still working her memories out was a no. One day though.

"Come on Oliver," Mary said as she held Oliver's hand. "Let's eat."

"What are we having?" Oliver asked.

"Anything but wheatgrass and tomato juice and that's all that matters," Mary said as she helped him sit down.

As Jarod served them food, he sat between Oliver and Mary. It was nice to have dinner with them. It was nice with the Miss Parker side too, although she was still awkward around him, she wasn't as bad. "Butter?"

"You want butter, Oliver?" Mary asked their son.

Usually Oliver answered right away. "Oliver?" Jarod asked. "Son, are you okay?"

Oliver stared at Jarod, then whispered to him. "Mom changed again."

Again? She was just the memories of Mary. Jarod didn't catch it yet, but Oliver had his grandma Catherine Parker's gift. "Miss Parker, do you want any salt?"

"No." Oliver was right. She noticed the ring on her hand. "Where'd this come from?"

Jarod reached for it again. Two minutes. These memories were getting closer together. "Here, let me see."

"Wait, no." She held her hand away. "No. I know it's mine. And?" She looked at Jarod in a funny way. "I've said that before and you've taken it before. It's back on my hand."

Oh, that was a great sign. She remembered at the edge of coming back.

"This looks different," Oliver said.

Jarod left his attention on Parker for Oliver. "Yep, we are near the ocean. I thought we should try seafood." He grabbed a crab leg and cracked it.

As soon as he cracked it, he heard a shatter. He looked back toward Miss Parker. "Parker?" He put down the crab.

Her fork and her plate had fallen to the ground along with her. Jarod got down to attend to her but she just screamed. "Parker? Mary? Miss Parker?" Which one now? "I'm here. It's Jarod, I'm here." He watched Oliver come from the other side.

Oliver was crying now. "She's hurt." He pounded his little chest. "She's hurting here. It hurts bad." He wiped his eyes. "Momma."

Jarod pulled her closer, trying to settle her down. He pulled Oliver closer too. "It's okay." Oliver's gift allowed him to feel his mother's pain. Just like he felt her presence. "We are safe and sound and secure. We aren't in The Centre. We are okay." He risked it and kissed the top of her forehead, not knowing which one it had been. He just wanted to make her better. "It's okay."

"It cracked!" She yelled in Jarod's arms. "It cracked and so did I." The fighting energy seemed to die away as she melted into Jarod's embrace. "Faith."

Jarod waited. She had rested against him so easy like Mary, but Mary went through this. Could it be? "Miss Parker?"

She looked toward him. "I couldn't," she said to him. She shook her head. "Not after that, not after that." She looked toward Oliver. "I thought I couldn't. Damn you, Jarod."

Jarod smiled, a thin smile. He knew she was emotional and her memories hit hard but that? That 'Damn you, Jarod'. "I love you too."

"You know you should have said something," she started to criticize him.

"I told you he was mine," Jarod said in defense.

"Nah, Mister, don't even." She didn't back away though. "I guess I wouldn't have known what to do if I knew Oliver wasn't some Centre experiment." She looked back at him and shook her head. She looked back toward her ring. "It's not the latest thing from Europe but I can't complain. It's all you had at the time."

He smiled, and watched her finally smile back.

"I've been jumping back and forth in my emotions. It rolled my memories into two different forms." She touched Oliver. "Sorry if momma drove you crazy."

Jarod couldn't help it as he stole a hug. She was there. Able to roll through both sets of emotions, letting her experience all of her memories. The Centre could never control her again. Knowing he had to try, he gave her a kiss.

He felt Mary's gentle lips on his. As he pulled back away, he felt a playful rub against his nose. That was new. "Your free, Mary Parker."

"Mary. Miss Parker," she groaned. "At this rate, maybe I should just go by LM again." She pulled Oliver closer to her. "It's nice though. I'm not missing anything of you anymore."

Oliver smiled at her. "Are you glad I'm here after all?"

"Never regret a day," she said confidently. "Never will. Don't say it." She looked back at Jarod. Then, she smiled. "Nevermind, Jarod. Say it."

"We're a whole family now!" He could barely contain himself. He wanted to hug his son, and kiss Miss Mary Parker. LM. "I love both of you so much."

"I know touchy feely genius," She said, but let him cuddle her. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Jarod," she admitted. "Honest to goodness, I've never had anything on your family."

"I know." He knew that. "I'll find all of them one day, but now, I have both of you." He hugged them again. "And I'm sorry too," he said to her. "I promised if I ever escaped I would take you with me."

"We'll call it even then." She smiled at him as he stole another kiss.

"She's feeling better," Oliver said to his dad. "Can we go back to the food now?"

"In a second." Jarod moved back to Oliver and lifted him up to go back to the table. Then, as LM was getting up, he grabbed her too. Bridal style in his arms by surprise.

"Jarod!" she complained to him.

He ignored it as he set her down into her chair. A hot fire and a gentle passion. "Enjoy the food, Little Miss."

"I said LM," she corrected him. "I don't want anymore dissonance between my emotions, not even with names."

"It won't happen again. The Centre we'll never get you back," he said with confidence. "Little Miss."

She stopped to look back toward him, debating. "In private, not public."

Of course. Jarod looked at his watch. "Two more hours until you have to get to bed. Should probably get to eating this food."

"I used to stay up much later," Oliver said. "No worries."

Oh no. He was going to bed at a decent time. Tonight.

LM casted a glance his way too as she popped a bit of shrimp in her mouth.

Nope, nine. Oliver was going down at nine.


Morning

Oliver got up and crawled out of his bed. He looked in the little mirror the rental had. He waved in it. It was a nice home for a little while. He got dressed and went outside his bedroom. Usually his dad was up fixing breakfast but he wasn't there. His mom was usually somewhere near too, she didn't sleep real late. Seeing neither one, he went to his parents room and knocked on the door. He could tell she was in there. When he knocked he waited a few minutes before his dad opened the door. "Good morning, Dad."

"Good morning." Jarod had the brightest grin on his face he'd ever seen. He looked at his watch. "It's late." He chuckled. "Sorry. Busy. Cereal fine?"

"Uh huh."

"Okay. Give me a little bit," Jarod insisted. "Give your mom a little bit too."

Yep. "Were you wrestling again, like in the hotel when you first got us?" Oliver asked. "I heard all kinds of noises."

"Don't answer that, Jarod!" Oliver heard his mother's voice through the other side of the door.

"I can't apparently answer that." Still, Jarod didn't seem anymore down. "Don't worry about the noise. They were . . . happy noises." He smirked. "Five minutes and I will get you some cereal. Then we are going to be heading out soon."

"To where?" Oliver asked.

"Big City. We are going to play a little pretend. Just, a little pretending," Jarod said to him. "I don't need you getting stuck in one."

He grinned. "I'll be okay. I'm a Lesser Pretender, I know what I'm doing." He headed away toward the kitchen, waiting for his dad now.

When his dad came out, so did his mom. She was dressed more in a casual form, but she also wore the fancy high heels. A combination he hadn't seen, but he understood. She was learning to balance herself. It's what his dad was probably helping her with last night. As Jarod got him cereal, he watched between the two of them. His dad was pouring her cereal and he was kissing her. A lot. Geez.

Parents were nice but they were also kind of gross. Still, they loved each other. It was what lovey people did, he knew that. He went ahead and concentrated on his cereal. "Dad says we are leaving today on a little pretend."

"Yep," his mom answered him. "I know you'll be fine. Jarod's occupation and last names will change, but that's about it."

"But it's time," Jarod confirmed as he looked at Oliver but held his mother's hand. "It's time to move on again and bring you each with me."

"Hm. No more Centre," his mother said to Oliver. "Ever again."

Ever? His mom had never said that before. "Really?"

"I've been on the other side of this." She scooped more cereal on her spoon. "No one can catch your Dad. No one ever could."

"Only when your mother was in trouble," his dad corrected her. "I never could leave you in trouble." He smiled at her. "Even for my freedom."

She just smiled back at him. "Easy there, not here at the table."

Not what at the table? Eh. Oliver just ate his cereal. No more Centre. From his own mom's mouth.

He really liked the sound of that. He also just noticed something else.

His dad was holding onto his mom's hand again while he was eating cereal. The ring she always asked about was on that hand, instead of the other hand she used to keep it on.

Oliver wasn't nearly as smart as his dad, but he knew what that ring meant because of where it had moved now. "So what is going to be my new last name?"

His dad didn't answer, but just smiled back.

THE END












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