A/N For the adventures of Max and the SGC see Reassignment and Other Really Wild Things.

"He's dead?"

"No, worse, a vegetable."

Parker hung up on her father and pinched the bridge of her nose. She didn't care if he sent sweepers after her. He blamed her for Lyle's death of course. Why wouldn't he? She had been working with Jarod and Ben after all.

The fact that Lyle's own actions had brought Ben's vengeance on the Centre resulting in its near annihilation was irrelevant.

She spat into the dusty gravel at her feet and turned to face Broots and Sydney.

"I trust your father's response was...unpleasant?"

"Shut up Syd I'm thinking."

"Uh...Miss Parker, if we're supposed to hunt Jarod uh aren't we done?" Broots said nervously as he glanced at the busy entrance to the government funded hospital currently housing Jarod Charles the coma patient.

"No Broots we're not done, we're never done. We'll have to take him back with us and then we have to find Ben."

"No, no way, that guy is crazy and he's super pissed off still Miss Parker. I'm done."

"You're not done Broots, you're never going to be done. The Centre owns us."

"The Centre barely exists anymore Miss Parker." Sydney said patiently.

"Yeah Syd and the parts that do exist have us under their collective thumbs." She dug a cigarette out of her purse and Sydney deftly snatched it away as she started to light it.

"Your ulcer Miss Parker." He chided and crushed the cigarette under his heel.

"Goddamnit Sydney." She hissed balefully. Syndey shrugged and got back into their rental car. Broots hesitated then joined him leaving Parker fuming and alone in the nearly deserted parking lot.

Parker dropped Sydney and Broots at the hospital. She had an hour drive to the nearest airport and her backup. She trusted Sydney and Broots to keep an eye on Jarod in his current state and didn't trust herself around him.

"I don't get it Sydney. She busts her ass to get back in her father's graces and keep the triumvirate off her ass and now she has Jarod, why is she so pissed?"

"She is complicated woman, she has only recently begun to come to terms with the reality of the Centre and her father's role in her life. She regained her standing in the Centre out of self defense."

"You think so?"

"You don't?"

"Well, after Lyle...uh died...and Jarod ran off what else ...uh...who else did she have?"

"You think she feels the Centre is her home?"

"Isn't it?"

"Perhaps." Sydney mused. They entered the third and top floor of the facility together. At a nurse's station they nodded at the duty nurse who frowned severely at them as they passed and started to rise. Sydeney peeled away from Broots to speak with her. Broots nervously continued to Jarod's room.

Jarod was the only patient in the room, it was an unusually large space, nearly half the size of a basketball court. Jarod sat near a window surrounded by machines, wires, and tubes. The window was closed letting in evening light, yellow and gold as the sun faded away. It lit Jarod's face, gave his flesh the sunset colors.

Broots carefully approached, some part of him not believing that Jarod was really unconscious. The clever man had cheerfully toyed with the Centre operatives countless times in the past. It was impossible that powerful, brilliant, kind Jarod could be laid out like a corpse in waiting.

But he was. As Broots drew nearer he heard the low mechanical hiss of the machinery assisting the big man's breathing. Intravenous feeds ran along both arms, wires snaked out from under his hospital gown and back to monitoring equipment. His hair was ragged and unkempt, streaked with gray at the right temple, his jaw was unshaved several days of stubble coating it.

"Oh Jarod." Broots whispered and felt his strength flag. A chair sat next to the Pretender's bed, shakily Broots sat. He didn't wonder at Parker's uncharacteristic pallor or Sydney's quiet despair now. When the two had first exited the hospital he had believed Jarod must be dead from their expressions. He understood it now though, somehow this was worse than death could ever be. Watching the energetic, eager, and mischievous Pretender reduced to a mass of man-shaped meat was horrifying.

Broots watched the sunset light play across Jarod's face hoping to see some sign of conscious life revealed by it.

Sydney finished assuaging the nurse's concerns and readied himself to return to Jarod's room. He had no doubt that the nurse would be on the phone to whoever was funding Jarod's care in the next few minutes. Sydney did not care. He did not care about Parker's angst or Broots' confusion. He had failed Jarod again and for the last time.

He walked slowly into the room. Broots instinctively rose and gave his seat to Sydney. The Belgian barely acknowledged the nervous tech, simply sat and picked up one of Jarod's warm lifeless hands. The warmth was unsettling. He felt callouses on his student's (son's) hand as he held it. Sydney turned Jarod's palm up and studied it in the fading light. The pattern of callouses was familiar but he couldn't place it.

He heard Parker's sharp high-heeled gait in the hallway outside and wait, she didn't enter the room. By the sound she was at the nurse's station. Sydney didn't care. Whatever debt he may have owed Miss Parker had been paid in blood already.

Parker regarded the door to Jarod's final prison with an ashen visage. Her eyes were dull and tired, skin papery and pale. She raised a shaking hand to her suit jacket reaching for the memory of a package of cigarettes. Frustrated by the impulse to an abandoned habit she clenched her fist and leaned against the counter of the nurse's station instead. The sweeper team she had retrieved from the airport had deployed around the building securing it until Jarod could be extracted.

She imagined Jarod down on a revamped SL-27 spread eagle on a steel autopsy table Raines or another ghoul like him leaning over the Pretender with a fresh scalpel at the ready.

"The patient my colleague is seeing...Jarod…does he have any regular visitors?"

"I'm sorry Miss but I can't divulge -"

"Right, of course." She growled and sighed.

"Agent Prentiss?" Emily rose from her crouch and looked over her shoulder. A patrol officer had accompanied her and Rossi to the crime scene.

"There's a call for you at the station."

"Oh, okay can you have them route it to my cell?" She asked and turned back to the scene and Rossi.

"Well, the unsub is clearly disorganized." She sighed.

Rossi nodded and stayed crouched where he was. Blood spatter coated the walls and furniture of the Martha Stewart worthy living room. The victim was a realtor, she had been showing the house to prospective buyers at an open house.

"Remind you of Vincent?" She asked Rossi. He blinked and frowned at her for a moment, looking up from his crouch, then the name settled and he grunted and stood.

"Because of the victim." He said and shook his head.

"Right." She brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face and glanced back at the patrol officer, she was on her radio again.

"Know what that call is about?"

"No idea." Prentiss said and accepted Rossi's extended hand, steadying the older agent as he picked his way through the gore of the scene until he joined her in a clear area.

Her phone rang at her hip and she picked it up. Rossi moved further into the house beyond the horror show in the living room.

"Prentiss." Emily said into her phone.

"Ms. Prentiss, I'm the head on duty nurse at Memorial Long Term -"

"Is Jarod okay?"

"Yes, his condition is unchanged, however, his uh psychiatrist? Dr. Sydney?"

"Listen to me very carefully, no one is to have contact with Jarod without a federal agent present. That man and anyone with him are extremely dangerous."

"Dr. Sydney is with him now...and another man."

"Stay calm, I'm sending help now okay?"

Rossi had returned and caught the more alarming portion of the call. He waited until she ended it, she flashed him an apologetic smile and started a new call.

"Garcia I need you to scramble local police to Jarod's hospital I think the Centre has finally caught up to him. Right, yeah, no I'll stay here."

"Are you sure about that?" Rossi asked as she hung up.


"Staying here while they close in on him?"

"Jarod is…I can't do anything for him."

"I know you're still pissed about...everything but are you really sure about this? If you don't go and those assholes get their hands on him will you be okay with that?"

"At some point that part of my life has to be over Rossi."

"Yeah, sure, of course, but is this that point?"

Parker didn't resist the local P.D. when they finally arrived, she let the newly arrived sweeper team take the heat and watched it go down. They left Sydney with Jarod, apparently trusting the older man or unwilling to pry him away from Jarod's side. Broots didn't resist simply followed at Parker's heels.

The cops brought the Centre personal with the exception of Sydney into the darkened cafeteria and started collecting I.D.s.

"You just had to fuck with a federal witness." One of the cops muttered as he collected the I.D.s and noted them on a datapad.

"Jarod is not a federal witness." Parker scoffed.

"Lady do us all a favor and sit down and shut up." The officer snorted. He was in uniform but clearly outranked the younger officers assisting in rounding up the Centre personnel.

Broots was shocked by Parker's passive reaction to the admonishment. She simply sat and looked around the room.

The ranking cop stepped out of the room with his radio crackling. The other officers kept an eye on the Centre personnel exchanging occasional glances. They had disarmed the sweepers and Parker and secured the weapons in a patrol car's trunk.

"Stand by the FBI is sending a contact." Michael's radio squelched at him. He frowned and keyed it to reply.

"ETA command?"

"Two hours."

"So I have to keep my guys here babysitting these clowns for two hours?"


"Fine but get a double shift approval for the guys still on patrol okay?"

"Will do."

He sighed and started to head back to the cafeteria. Two hours of babysitting leaving the town undermanned and half his guys on mandatory OT, his lieutenant was going to have a litter of kittens.

Rossi and Prentiss were quiet during the flight. The rest of the team had stayed behind to assist in the current case. Technically Jarod was a protected federal witness in the federal case against the Centre. Of course the Centre was a shell of its former self and Jarod was a vegetable so the likelihood of a trial was slim to none. Still he was protected from on high. It was the least they could do for him.

When they arrived Rossi drove, he cast thoughtful glances at Prentiss but didn't push. This was hard for her. She had lost the love of her life to Jarod, it wasn't Jarod's fault but she was still alone and hurting.

Jarod was an innocent party but he was still alive while Methos lay rotting in a grave in Seacouver.

The agents arrived after midnight. None of the Centre personnel had put up a fight or resisted. The officers hadn't booked them, per federal guidance they were content to keep the group secured.

Michael watched them stir listlessly as time dragged on. Stiff from sitting on the hard benches Parker rose, stretched and paced from one end of the room to another. j

Michael watched her. She was undoubtedly beautiful, lithe muscular limbs, a slim dancer's build, sharp crystal clear blue eyes in an angular but attractive face. There was a tension to her movements though, an iron rigidity that belied her dancer's grace.

As he moved to approach her the door the cafeteria opened and two newcomers entered. A male of average height in his fifties or sixties dressed well and reasonably fit for his age accompanied by a tall woman dressed professionally in dark colors, she had straight dark hair and dark eyes. They moved with efficient precision and calculating eyes.

"Agents?" Michael asked as he changed the direction of his stroll.

The couple drew up and greeted him. He got the preliminaries out of the way and updated them on the situation.

"No resistance?" Rossi asked puzzled.

"Not so much as a protest. I think their leader is that woman." Michael pointed at Parker. Emily's expression clouded and her eyes narrowed in hate or suspicion. Rossi put a gentle hand on her elbow and thanked Michael.

"Miss Parker." Emily said icily.

Parker stopped pacing and regarded Emily calmly.

"Agent Prentiss."

"Jarod isn't yours, the Centre doesn't have power anymore. Go back to your handlers and apprise them of the new world order. Jarod is free."

"Free to rot? What happened to him?"

Tumblers fell into place and Emily sighed. This was why Parker was here. She glanced around the room.

"Send your mongrels away, where's Sydney?"

"With him."

"Officer Michael, can you and your men process these suspects for trespassing?"

"Sure, it'll take a few hours."

"Hold her and the little guy back please."

"What about the old guy upstairs?"

"We'll take care of him. Thank you I know this was a pain in the ass in the middle of your week."

"It was, but that's what we're paid for. We'll take care of this lot. Let us know if there's anything else we can assist with."

"We will, thank you." Prentiss said while still staring at Parker.

An hour later the sweepers had been hauled off for processing leaving only Broots, Sydney and Parker with Rossi and Prentiss.

Prentiss lead the group upstairs to Jarod's room where Sydney still sat a lonely vigil.

She waited at the doorway as Parker, Broots and Rossi entered. Rossi stood inside the doorway ready to follow Emily's lead.

"He's been like this for almost five years." She said softly.

"What happened?" Parker asked again though this time her voice caught.

"I don't know. Something happened to him, Methos...Ben tried to save him. He died trying and Jarod was left like this." Emily said coldly.

Parker closed her eyes. Sydney didn't stir, Broots wisely hung back moving to join Sydney.

"You spent years hunting and persecuting him, learning all about how demented the Centre was and now it all comes to this. The Centre is finished, Lyle is dead, Kyle is dead, Methos is dead, Jarod's family is lost and Jarod...not bad for a life's work."

Parker tried to hit Prentis but Prentiss was faster, she caught the other woman's wrist and laid her out on the ground. The movement tore Parker's suit and sent a few buttons flying. Prentiss straightened as Rossi moved to her side then helped Parker up.

"He was my husband Parker." Emily said coldly.

Parker's jaw quivered but she stood tall and straightened her clothing

"I lost my father and brother over this mess." She hissed.

"And yet, here you are, at the beck and call of what's left of your precious Centre."

"The only way I could find him was to go back. I don't give a damn about the Centre, it's taken everything from me, my mother, Tommy, even my twisted baby brother. The only good thing it ever did was bring him into my life." Parker said breathlessly.

"So now what Parker?" Emily asked wearily. Broots was standing next to Sydney but watching the women.

"Sydney…" Parker said then caught her breath and glanced at the silent Belgian.

"I am staying with him." Sydney said.

Emily walked to Sydney and stood next to him looking down at Jarod's peaceful face. Broots scooted out of the way and glanced at Rossi.

"He loved you." Prentiss said and put a hand on his shoulder.

"I didn't deserve it." Sydney said softly.

Rossi kept an eye on Parker. She was trembling slightly as she finished straightening her clothing and regained her composure.

"What now Prentiss?" Parker asked.

"You and your minion get out of the state. Sydney can stay. Maybe he can help."

"Uh Agent Prentiss? Uh, if I can stay I...I don't want to go back to the Centre." Broots stammered.

"Rossi, can you ask Garcia to test Mr. Broots' skills? Maybe he'll be useful." Prentiss asked hollowly.

"I don't know that the FBI will be interested in a private gun for hire." Rossi said.

"The Centre...they took my little girl, threatened my life...did worse. I want out, I'll do whatever I have to. They're weaker now but they're still out there still doing...things." Broots said in a rush.

Rossi let him finish and nodded. "I'll make the call but no promises." He pulled out his cellphone and moved toward the doorway.

"Any clemency claims Parker?" Prentiss asked with her hand still on Sydney's shoulder.

"I did what I had to do." Parker said stiffly.

"Even after you knew the truth? Knew what they'd done to you? To your mother? What true heirs to the Parker legacy your father and Lyle were?"

"If I didn't chase Jarod I would have been killed."

"Really? What about when you helped him escape Carthis?"

"They found me. I kept his secret and yours. For years now I've chased shadows and crumbs and done my best to stay alive in the remnants of the Centre hoping I would be able to find him."

Emily was silent.

"It's true agent Prentiss. For what it's worth. Miss Parker was forced to return as I was forced to stay. We searched for any sign of Jarod or Ben, hoping they had made it off of Carthis and stayed free." Sydney's voice sounded rough and broken.

"Your pain is not their fault." Rossi said gently while holding his phone at his side.

Prentiss flinched but stayed next to Sydney.

"Will you testify against what's left of the Centre?" EMily asked.

"Gladly." Parker said hoarsely.

Prentiss nodded and walked toward Rossi. He followed a few paces behind still on the phone. He caught up with her in the gravel covered parking area of the hospital.

"Emily?" Rossi asked carefully.

"I'm sorry Dave you were right. I guess in a way they're victims too." All she could see was Parker holding a weapon in her mind's eye.

"You're not wrong to be angry Emily, you don't get to choose how you feel when someone you love dies. You've never really let yourself grieve for him and hell we all kind of thought he would come walking through the front door and declare it was some kind of act. He was a complicated man with a knack for manipulation, being immortal just exacerbated it. Be angry Emily, be angry and sad and hurt and one day maybe you'll wake up and it won't hurt as much."

"Is that...when Caroline died...is that how you've dealt with it?"

"We all grieve differently."

"Do you think that giving them a second chance will help?"

"I don't know. I don't know if a second chance will mean anything to Sydney. It will for Broots he has a daughter, a future. Miss Parker...who knows but I know that you're a just person Emily, you aren't vindictive. You sacrificed yourself to keep a boy you barely knew, a boy who was half grown safe. You won't sleep easy if you don't extend the olive branch."

"Sometimes I wish I had never met him. I wish that I had listened to my common sense and...never followed through. It would be easier to go on without him if I'd never had him in the first place." she said and a tear crept down her cheek. Rossi pulled her into an embrace.

Sydney stayed with Jarod. He was given office space and referred to as Dr. Samuel Beekman by the staff and residents. He didn't leave the grounds, barely left the building. His office was next to Jarod's room and he slept on a cot in it.

His life work had been Jaro and the Pretender program, now he would spend the rest of his life working to bring Jarod back to the world. It was all he had left and all he could do for the man he loved as a son.

So much of his life had been lead in passive pursuit of evil, or half hearted defiance of it, his intellectual pursuits and curiosity allowing him license to turn a blind eye to the crimes of his colleagues. The Centre had paved the way for his crimes as much as it had held a gun to his head to continue them.

Now, the gun was gone and what was left of an old man's courage and determination were to be spent in pursuit of Jarod's recovery.

Parker looked out the hotel room window at the street below and lusted for a cigarette. It had been years since her ulcer had compelled her to attempt to quit, fewer years since she had managed to. She had learned that she never really quit smoking in the years since her last cigarette. The craving and urge were always there, she simply never lit the next cigarette.

She drummed her manicured fingers on the arm of her chair and looked at the digital clock on the nightstand.

In three hours she would meet with a federal prosecutor and officially turn on the Centre. He entire life had been entwined with the fate of that ancient institution. Now she would risk what was left of it to bring it to an end once and for all.

At least in the U.S.

She was under no illusions about the hydra that was the Centre. Crippling it's operations in the U.S. would only curtail it's North American operations for a few years. It's international interests would stay put and gain strength once funds and resources were no longer being funnelled into its wounded facility in Blue Cove.

By the time she was eligible for social security the Centre would be up and running again. She laughed bitterly and closed her eyes.

She thought about Carthis for a heartbeat then slammed her walls down around those memories. Some things shouldn't be dwelled on, particularly if those things were the dark and supernaturally twisted history of your forebears.

Now she wanted a drink too.

Broots studied the entrance to the FBI headquarters complex in Quantico and swallowed hard. It felt weird to be a legitimate version of himself to have an ID badge and not get yelled at or threaten on a daily basis. Debbie would be safe and able to go to a good school, he could tell her about his day without wondering if his house was bugged…

He smiled and readied his badge.

"How are the foundlings working out?" Rossi asked Garcia. They were heading back to the VCU after a long lunch.

"Great, that Broots fella is almost up to my level of amazingness and his little girl is extremely cute and super smart."

"The others?"

"Parker testified to the special prosecutor a month ago and Sydney is still at the hospital."

"Think he'll do it?"

"Wake up Jarod? I don't know boss man, he's the doctor."

"I wonder…"


"His family is gone, Methos is dead, Parker and the others are finished…"

"You think there's nothing for him to come back for?"

"No, of course there is, I just wonder if he believes that. One of his greatest fears was that as an immortal he would be forced to kill. If some part of him believes that becoming a killer is all he'll have to look forward to if he wakes up -"

"Lookit you Dr. Freud. Do you really think that's part of it?"

"I don't know, I'm just a warn out old profiler, but I wonder."

Prentiss re-packed her go bag and checked her phone. Nothing yet. For the last six weeks they had been on back to back critical incidents. As much as she loathed paperwork she was actually looking forward to some low key case reviews for a few days.

She put her phone on ring instead of vibrate and cautiously prepared for a calm relaxing evening. As calm and relaxing as catching up on weeks of mail, laundry, and housework could be.

Her cat yowled at her and she laughed and picked him up.

"Hey Sergio." She said and scratched his chin earning a throaty purr.

She carried him into the kitchen to feed him, no the way she walked past her dresser. It's top was covered in framed photographs. Pictures of her team, her stern faced mother, and him. Her dead love. In one he was laughing and holding a glass of amber beer, condensation beaded along it and bright summer sun lit the scene. She loved that picture best.

Once Sergio was fed she drew a hot bath and hunted down her robe. It wasn't really hers, it had been his. It had ceased to retain his scent long ago but she couldn't, wouldn't let it go. It was a dark rich green and long enough to brush the floor. She hung it on the bathroom door and disrobed to step into the hot water of the tub.

Sergio yowled outside the bathroom door. She laughed, ignored him, and slipped into the water. It was hot enough to sting, her skin reddened and she sighed.

The children she had dreamed of still weren't hers. No adoption agency with any sanity would give her a child, not with the hours she worked. She couldn't bring herself to date again, she had politely declined the few propositions she had encountered in the years since his death. So she had her cat, her team, and her memories.

Her mother, loving and still fundamentally confused by her daughter, had done her best to support Prentiss in her grief. Sending care packages and ensuring Emily's bills were paid. She came for a visit but Emily was quiet, stiff, and overly formal, just like her mother. Her father called and said all the right things and Emily said all the right things back.

It was really her team that saved her. Rossi's silent commiseration, Morgan's affectionate support, Reid's somewhat manic good intentions, Garcia's loving, judgment free cry fests, even Hotch's quiet strength and relentless support. They had pulled her through the black abyss and back to life.

But the life she had once had, even the life she had day dreamed about having, were all gone. She still struggled to find something new, some concept of life she could see living. Something to dream for, something to keep the images she waded through the cruelties she lived second hand every day from overwhelming her.

Sergio meowed again.

Jarod's still face shone pale and waxy in the dawn light. His strangely calloused hands were the only limp and warm. His body, so lean and strong was thin and flaccid. Every day for hours a trained aide would arrive and manipulate his limbs and body to stave off bed sores, ligament and tendon shortening and other maladies of long term immobility.

Sydney would watch this one party dance subtly horrified by the lack of strength and animations in the Pretender's limbs as the aide manipulated Jarod. One thing Jarod had never been was limp, passive, he had always been inquisitive and active in life.

Now we was a marionette.

Sydney did not know how to mourn Jarod, not when there was hope he might be brought back. He used all of his skill and all of his contacts to determine the best and latest treatments for the Pretender.

Nothing was working. Jarod's test results were strange and Sydney could not determine why they were so consistently anomalous. He found himself spending days without sleep attempting to identify the source of the anomalies. Finally he had consulted with an old friend who had recommended he attempt to determine the regularity of the anomalies in order to set a baseline for them, at which point he may be able to modify the treatments.

So he worked day and night but still the results made no sense. He thought back over Jarod's last days of coherence. He needed to talk to the Prentiss woman.

"Agent Prentiss, this is Sydney, please return my call it's regarding Jarod."

Prentiss pinned her hair under a towel as she listened to the message then shrugged her robe closer and called Sydney back.

"This is Prentiss."

"Agent, I've encountered some difficulties with Jarod's treatment. I need to know what happened to him, anything that could help me understand what is wrong with him."

She thought about all the secrets she was holding and then she thought about Jarod and what had been done to him and sacrificed for him.

"We need to meet in person, can you get to D.C.?"

Three days later Sydney met her at her apartment.

She let him in and put away her weapon and credentials. Sergio came out to say hi. Sydney murmured to the cat in Flemish and scratched his chin earning a friend for life.

"Please make yourself at home, would you like a drink?"

"Water please."

She made coffee and filled a glass of water then returned to her living room where Sydney sat.

"You have information that could help Jarod?" Sydney asked.

"I'm going to tell you some things that you won't believe. I want you to understand that it's not my job to convince you and I don't care if you do. These are facts they may help you they may not but … I'm tired of keeping secrets."

She laid everything out for him. Jarod's Pretender abilities and Methos' own, Jarod's artificial immortality, his disappearance on another world, his feral violence when he was finally recovered, Methos' sacrifice and the end result.

She swapped from coffee to Scotch partway through.

"You're right, it's an absurd story. Immortal gods, aliens, magic. I have no reason to believe it, except for the facts that you have no reason to lie and Jarod will not awaken or respond normally to treatment. Thank you Agent Prentiss."

He sat on her couch with his glass of water while she sipped scotch and simply thought.

"Do you believe it?"

"I don't know."

"Good answer. Look, I know Jarod is...special, Methos thought he was worth dying for. I don't hate him I just...want answers. So if there's anything I can do to help you..help him, please let me know."

"I will, thank you for trusting me with this."

"Do you think you can do it? Bring him back?"

"Honestly, I do not know. But I will die before I give up."

"You never met Methos."

"Only in passing, during the chase. He was a very clever man."

"He was a Pretender...as well as an immortal. Apparently he was the oldest known living immortal."

"I see...yes an immortal Pretender would have quite an advantage."

"Do you need a place to stay?"

"No, I'm taking the red eye back."

"Why did you do it?"

"The Pretender program?" He asked stalling. She smiled wanly at him.

"At the time I genuinely thought it would do humanity good, I thought Jarod was a gifted orphan and together we could do great things."

"You survived the camps and you truly thought that?"

He winced and looked away then sighed heavily. "Yes, I did, to some degree. Of course once Jarod escaped and the raw truth of what I had facilitated came to light….I felt a fool and a monster."

"We all make mistakes."

"Most of us don't live them body and soul for thirty years."

"I can't hate you, if that's what you're afraid of, the only person with that right loved you."

"To be honest I really don't know that much about the Centre, what Methos uncovered, some of what Garcia found, but I never discussed what we found with Jarod. If you're afraid I'm going to uncover some other secret you can relax. As far as I'm concerned I'm done with the Centre, I wish you and Jarod well and will help in any way I can but I don't care about the rest. I'm too tired to care."

"I don't fear your judgment, perhaps I should. Someone in your position has more right to judge human depravity than most but ...I don't. I think that, as you've said, the only person that can has. I don't mean that I have found absolution, or that I am at peace with stealing Jarod's life and family from him. Just that…of all the things I fear and regret judgment is not among them."

"Well, that's one way to live I suppose."

"Do you believe the story you relayed to me?"

She didn't answer right away. She sipped the liquor, pausing to view it in firlight from the candles she had lit while fixing the first glass of scotch.

"I was there for half of it. Even so...sometimes, when I'm alone at night and I'm looking at the city, or reviewing a file, I wonder." She picked up a photograph that sat on an end table. J.J. had taken it after Prentiss' miraculous recovery from death. She and Methos were standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he had his arms around her shoulders and was laughing into the camera, she was grinning and looking up at him, half over her shoulder. It was cheese and perfect.

"This is who I lost to save Jarod." She said softly and handed the photo to Sydney.

He accepted it and studied it closely. The man looked to be younger than her by ten years or so. He had an intelligent face and a wide easy grin through his laughter. His eyes were light colored, possibly green though it was hard to say, dark hair covered by a knit cap. She looked younger, he suspected the photo was not that old but grief had aged her. Her grin was loving and natural.

"Why do you think he did it?" He asked handing the image back to her. She held it for a moment then set it back in its place.

"I think he felt that he owed the world a debt and saving Jarod was a way to help balance the scales. Which...It's hard to explain how unlike him that is, unless you knew him. He was pragmatic, calculated, vicious and cunning when he needed to be. He lived for over five thousand years on his wits, charm, and ruthlessness. But...he wasn't a villain. Is that believable?"

Sydney thought of the man in the image.

"Yes, I suppose it is. We're not two dimensional caricatures."

"When I was younger I didn't believe that people changed much. I figured you hit twenty-five and that was it for life. Of course, that's not true, but it's not entirely wrong either. Certain aspects of a person are set by adulthood, they can change but almost never do. Other things change as easily as a haircut. But Methos...he could change everything about himself in a matter of weeks if he needed to. But not with me. He never really changed with me, I knew he could even if he didn't. No matter what he did or said, how much everything else changed he was always the man I loved. Maybe that was naive but… I don't think so. I need Jarod to live Sydney because my life ended when Methos' did, the only comfort I have is stopping killers and maybe Jarod waking up one day and getting a life of his own."

"He sounds like a remarkable person."

"I'm drunk and rambling, I should call you a cab."

"Agent Prentiss...I am a trained psychiatrist. I am happy to speak with you. I feel it is the least I can do. It is...intriguing to discover a stranger's observations of Jarod and the Centre."

"Still, I'll call you that cab."

She did, and he left. She cleaned up and thought about their discussion. The next week she found herself calling him again, and the week after. Soon they were exchanging calls twice a week. Something about their semi-anonymous not-friends but-friendly relationship provided an outlet for both of them. She could talk to him about her grief and the gruesome detritus of her job while he could talk to her about Jarod and his work.

Dreams came and went. Looping and whirling through reality. Snatches of memory twisted with fantasies and the darkest fears.

Sydney laughing out loud, chortling while bright blood sprayed across his face.

Miss Parker sighing in post coital satisfaction, a cigarette dangling from her lower lip.

Broots sobbing over a small lifeless body.

Miss Parker smiling that ice queen smile as smoke drifted from a gun barrel.

Raines grinning and wielding a scalpel.

On and on they went swirling and churning in clouds of chaos. Then memory began to overwhelm the fear.

Sydney smiling with satisfaction as Jarod completed a particularly difficult simulation.

Young Miss Parker's smile and her soft lips brushing his child's cheek.

The grateful tears of one of the many people he had helped since escaping.

The snarl of dogs pursuing him as he fled.

Kyle's face, twisted in pain and grief as he breathed his last in Jarod's arms.

His mother sobbing and fleeing to a cab with his sister Emily as the Centre's sweepers tried to capture them all.

Joy and pain at war.

Sydney stirred from his restless slumber and sat up. Jarod lay utterly still as usual. Nonetheless Sydney checked his vitals and the machinery readouts. As he returned to his seat he heard a soft noise. Instinctively he looked around the room then back to Jarod. The noise came again Sydney's eyes flickered to Jarod. The big man's lips were slightly parted, the noise, a soft uncomfortable moan, was coming from Jarod.

Sydney sprang into action at once.

Prentiss opened her eyes and silently prayed she hadn't heard her phone ring at the ungodly hour of 0330. She had. It rang again, a blaring intrusive braying sound that drove nails into her exhausted body.

She sighed and rolled over, picked up the phone and without reading the screen answered it.


"He's waking up."

She blinked and coughed turned on the bedside lamp and tried to place the voice.


"Jarod is waking up, he should be fully awake in a few hours."

"Oh my god, that's incredible, what caused it?"

"I don't know."

"Should I be there?"

"If you like, but I don't think it's necessary."

"I...look, don't tell him about Methos, not right away. I'll try to be there by the weekend."

"Good I will keep you apprised."

"Have you told Miss Parker? Or Broots?"

"No, I...I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate."

"Parker might be hard to get ahold of but Broots is federal now. Look if you're asking me if it's a good idea to let them know...yeah. I think, especially, for Miss Parker."

"I concur, I'll call if there are any changes."

They said goodbye. Before putting the phone down she sent a text to Hotch, Garcia and Rossi it simply read: "Per S. Jarod Waking Up. More News Soon."