Jarod had never been able to say no to Parker. When they were children and she'd wanted to "find the body" he'd been incapable of resisting, dissapointing her, but God alone knew how many disappointments she'd suffered already by her eleventh birthday.
Against his better judgement he'd performed numerous acts for her, gone to astounding lengths to make her smile, held her while she cried on his shoulder. The years and lies and pain hadn't changed either of them as much as an outsider might want to believe, and he'd helped her discover Thomas' murderer, and her mother's murderer, and hundreds of other questions that would still be unanswered if not for Jarod.
After Carthis he feared he'd never see her again. The closeness, the weakness, frightened her. She couldn't be the daughter her father wanted her to be and be the woman that loved The Pretender, not at the same time, not in the same lifetime, regardless of how much she wanted to balance duty and love.
She truly feared Jarod would slam the door in her face when she had the audacity to turn to him for help, but when she knocked he invited her inside as if he were the weak one and she his true weakness.
"This might not be safe," she said with a look over her shoulder. "Do you have a car?"
"This way," he replied, pulling the door shut, and jogging to the street. "Do you want to fill me in?"
"Can you just drive for a little while, please?" Parker pleaded.
After a little while Parker was still reluctant to speak. "I just want to feel normal for a few more minutes."
"And, what, you can't feel normal anymore after you tell me-"
"I'm pregnant," she stammered. "See? No more normal. You're never going to look at me the same way again."
"You're," Jarod said. "Oh. Oh my god. I take it that this isn't welcome news, and that I shouldn't inquire about the happy father."
"Good guess. They're trying to do it again. The Centre. They think I don't know, and I wouldn't know if Angelo hadn't shown me what they've done."
"What did they do?" Jarod asked. "Don't omit any detail."
"Lyle burst into my office with his sweepers while I was working late, forced me into the infirmary at gunpoint. They.. they held me down. Hard restraints. Needle. I was. impregnated while I was unconscious. Raines. I was going to take care of this in Finland, but they followed me there so I had keep up the ruse that I was vacationing. They would have killed people, and locked me up until... until.." Parker sobbed, struggled to compose herself. "They've tagged my accounts, and are monitoring my calls, my mail, following me. I don't want this. I can't." Parker sobbed again.
Jarod, certain no one was following, pulled into a parking lot and shut the car off. "Take a breath, all right," Jarod instructed. "And think about this. Think. Breathe," he whispered a moment later, adding gently, "and then tell me what you want."
"I want to not be pregnant."
"Do you know if," he asked gently, and watched her eyes, red-rimmed and swollen, meet his. "You do know," he said. He knew, too, suddenly, and didn't even have to ask. "They used my sperm, didn't they?"
"Does that matter?" Parker asked. "We don't have time for this anyway. They are following me. I don't know how. Can't we go? Can't you help me?"
"I will, but please just tell me the truth," Jarod said.
"I don't want this," Parker cried. "I never will."
"Tell me the truth," Jarod said again. "If you want my help you have to trust me."
"I shouldn't have.." Parker stammered shaking her head, and pulling the door handle. When the door didn't open, Parker began making little panicked noises in her throat, and yanking madly on the handle.
"Sorry," Jarod said in a stony, calm voice. "But that door won't open from the inside. It's an old police cruiser. How far along are you? Two months or three?"
"Please, Jarod, let me out?" Parker screamed, desperate and terrified, punching the glass with fists and kicking at the door, her body and voice quivering. "Please don't do this to me, Jarod!"
"I'm sorry. I can't let you out right now. They used my sperm, didn't they? Please answer the question," Jarod said, reaching over and grasping Parker's arms and pulling her to look at him. Parker yelped and growled, trying to escape him, and Jarod released her, apologizing. "After what they did to you you don't want to be touched. I understand that. I understand everything, except why you don't trust me. Breathe, okay? Take a deep breathe, count to three, release it. Another. I need you to stay calm for me, okay, and I won't touch you if you'll do that. I promise. Now, I need you to tell me why you're afraid of me. What are you afraid of?"
"If they used your..." Parker retched, covered her mouth, took a breath. "Morning sickness. If they used yours... you'll want it, you'll .."
Jarod sighed heavily. "If you're going to say that I'll lock you away and force you to stay pregnant I'd rather you say nothing at all, because I'd never do that to anyone."
Parker clamped her lips closed, and averted her eyes from the tears in Jarod's eyes.
"They used my sperm, didn't they?"
"Yes, they used your..." Parker retched, vomited in the floor of the car, covered her lips, took a deep breath. "Sorry. Morning sickness," she said lamely, trying to catch her breath.
"That's nice of you, but you don't have to spare my feelings," Jarod said, reaching into the back seat for a raincoat and dropping the coat on the puddle at Parker's feet. "It's not just morning sickness. If it is.. we're both experiencing it. I know someone who can help you, someone discreet. I'll pay for everything, in cash, and you can stay with me until...until this," Jarod said with a brief look at her body, "is over. But afterwards, we're going to have a long talk about what happens next.