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No one was quite sure how Miss Parker had fallen ill, or when for that matter, but the morning Sydney found her in her office, looking near death, was ingrained in all of the involved people's memories. She was tossing, turning, mumbling and crying, yet still sleeping. Her brow was furrowed in confusion, and her skin was cold, but clammy. Miss Parker's face was pressed halfway into the cushion of the leather couch, her screams muffled by the almost-plush cushions.
Sydney arrived at seven, whether propelled by an undeniable force of kinship or Angelo, who watched from the air bent above, only he knew. He shook her shoulder, watching with concern as her eyes flew open and she whispered, "Sydney?" It was more of a croak, her voice choked by pain and tears. She seemed to breathe a bit easier than before, maybe because she'd been released from her dream, or maybe because she was no longer alone.
Miss Parker stared at him with fuzzy but alert eyes, and could tell he was worried, nearing terrified. Yet her helplessness impeded any effort she could make to calm him. He lay a hand over her forehead, and could feel the heat rising through his fingers. Parker's eyes were hot, her body fevered, and tears poured as a small relief.
"Parker," he breathed, his accent heavy, "what's wrong?"
With all of the sarcasm she could muster, Miss Parker replied, "Gee Syd, I think that's kind of an obvious one. I have a killer flu. What's it look like?"
His frown only deepened when she punctuated her sentence with a cough. "You didn't react quite so badly to Jarod's concoction of the flu," he reminded her. Had she been someone else, Parker might've actually found his concern touching, as it was, she could barely stand it. He placed a gentle hand in her own, and sighed when she flinched.
A minute and another sigh later, he removed it and whispered, "I'll be back." Turning with his back to the desk, he picked up his phone, dialing a familiar number, and whispering in conspiratorial tones to the person on the other end. Only later did Parker learn he was calling Jarod.
The last person she wanted to see. Because he could realize what was wrong, and that wasn't a risk she was ready to take. Yet.
For an older man, Sydney was balanced and strong, but sometimes immature. He lifted Miss Parker from the sofa, and carried her from the Centre in the most discrete way he could think of.
When she found herself at home, the woman decided that he most likely understood long before she wanted him too. The illness the only surviving Parker woman suffered was one her mother never endured. Yet, it was a result of the gift of the voices they shared. Unlike Catherine Parker, her daughter had an additional ability, another reason she was a Red File. Another reason she was suffering so listlessly. She could feel them.
An empath Parker was not. Yet, she could feel the pain they suffered.
Her sickness was the antithesis of physical. Sydney Green, Psychiatrist, would state that the symptoms were the physical manifestations of emotional turmoil the young woman was afraid to face and could not bury. Sydney Green, friend and sometimes confidante, could only wonder what had finally pushed his almost-protege over the edge.
"Let it out, Parker. You'll be... better, because of it, tell me what's wrong!"
The pain came in waves, causing her body to shake and heart to clench. Tears fell in response, and she gasped the words she'd been afraid to say. They were not what Sydney needed to hear, wanted to hear, but they were something just the same.
In a scream, the words erupted, alerting the person above the stairs that time was running out, "Nikolas! Tell... father! Save... girl!" Another wave of pain overtook her, and she fell into the welcomed darkness.