Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
Author's Note: I hope everyone enjoyed my story, as much as I have writing it. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews and support to: suspensewriter, mfkngst, crazyrussiangal, ICD, Sango2, Brandy, leochick, Zeilfanaat, michelle, and everyone else who read it, but was too shy to leave a review. And again, a million thanks to my Beta reader, Jaccione for all her help. You were a life-saver.
Twenty years in the future.
The tall-distinguished woman walked down the hall in her usual hurried pace. Her attire was elegant, yet businesslike. Her apparel consisted of a burgundy suit with a matching floral scarf, and her long dark hair with a few silver strands was tied back in a ponytail. On several occasions, she had tried to cut her hair and change the style, but her sons had strongly objected, which sadly reminded her how much they resembled their father. Her style had softened with her years and she no longer wore the three inch towering stiletto heels that always announced her approach and terrified more than a few. There had been many changes over the years and even though she still had the gift to intimidate others, she had earned the love and respect of all who worked at the new Centre.
At this late hour on a Friday evening, the halls were virtually empty, except for a few technicians and doctors that remained behind completing their never-ending studies, among them her two sons. She always enjoyed this time of the day to relax and catch up on her reading. She had acquired this habit from her old friend Sydney, after seeing him enjoy this ritual for so many years. Miss Parker entered her tranquil office removed her shoes and prepared herself a mint tea before she would lose herself in the latest mystery novel she had purchased a few days earlier. She lay on her office couch and stretched her aching and tense muscles before indulging herself to a few hours of peaceful reading. She started reading, but for some reason she just could not concentrate on the story and found herself drifting, away in thought. The anniversary of Jarod's death was on her mind. Twenty years had passed since that tragic day, but that dark event would remain vividly engraved in her memory forever. That day had changed all their lives, but with the love and support of her children and friends, she had survived, as Jarod had promised. Miss Parker's thoughts traveled back to all that had transpired since that day.
Soon after they were cleared of all charges, the Centre's power was transferred to her new family name, Parker-Russell, and Catherine's Plan was put into motion.
The first and most important step was to have the support and protection of the law enforcement agencies, before they terminated all the contracts made by the previous regime with the military and other obscure organizations. This alliance was quite a shock and disappointment to the Triumvirate, and they immediately tried to overthrown the New Centre, but the PTB's were faced with bigger problems. The Triumvirate itself was bewildered by its own internal investigations, after the authorities in Europe and Africa had mysteriously received extensive data on their unethical biological experiments and affiliations with terrorists and drug trafficking groups. Slowly the Triumvirate was dissolved and many of their leaders simply vanished.
Once they were free of all outside threats, they could now concentrate on the rebirth of the New Centre. All the sublevels were destroyed and sealed, and new structures above ground were built as needed. She had promised Jarod that no one would work in that underground world again. The shadowy depths of the Centre would cease to hide macabre secrets. Finally, the nightmares and painful memories of those sublevels were buried forever. At Miss Parker's request, the first medical research wing built was dedicated to Jarod.
The New Centre was finally on its way to benefit humanity, as it was originally intended to do many years ago. It now covered all areas behavioral studies from Autism to gifted children, and Biological research on Cancer, Aids, Diabetes and other ailments. The New Centre had the finest researchers and doctors in the country and already had made numerous breakthroughs in medicine and Psychological studies.
Both her sons, Adam and Jarod were doctors and they were in charge of the entire Centre's medical research. Like their father, they had surpassed all others in their field but never abused their power. Among the obvious gifts they had inherited from their parents, their personality was compassionate, strong and mischievous. They both had a bizarre sense of humor that on several occasions had nearly driven Parker to insanity if not for Sydney's interventions and counseling. Miss Parker laughed quietly as she remembered the many times that Adam and Jarod played tricks on Mr. Broots when they were teenagers like the time when they glued Mr. Broots to his keyboard with crazy glue. The poor man nearly lost his fingerprints in the process. Even though Mr. Broots was furious, he could never stay mad at the boys for too long. He loved them like his own.
Angelo, Broots and Sydney had been Parker's lifeline. They have been with her through thick and thin and they had given her the courage to go on. Angelo, her true brother, had remained at her side, protecting her and the boys, as he had promised Jarod. Soon after Jarod's death, Angelo had surrendered all the files and DSA discs he had hidden in his secret world in the vents. Among these files, they found the truth of her brother's identity. Even though, the records gave her the proof of their blood ties, she always knew deep in her heart that this sweet little man was her real brother.
Broots had continued working faithfully at her side and now he was the Director of the Computer department. He married one of the Centre's finest researchers and had two sons. His daughter, Debbie was a professor of Literature and now was living in California with her husband. It was difficult to be apart from his little girl, but Broots always made sure that Debbie and her husband would spend the holidays with his Centre family.
Her devoted bodyguard Sam continued to serve at her side. Her two sons adopted him as Uncle Sam. The bulky sweeper always had known that Miss Parker, Sydney and Broots had a soft spot in their heart for the fugitive pretender, and after all the horrors he had witnessed at the Centre, he really could not blame them. It was no surprise that towards the end of the battle, Sam had found himself secretly supporting them as well. As a token of her appreciation and friendship, Parker had appointed Sam as Chief of Security.
Sydney had finally retired after helping Parker in the reconstruction of the New Centre and raising her two sons. He had taken the duty to instruct both boys the same way he had taught their father, but Sydney had promised Parker that he would never train them as pretenders; even though, they were extremely gifted. Sydney had prepared both boys for their entrance to the best universities in the country, and by their early twenties, they both had graduated from medical school with numerous degrees.
Next, Parker was rewarded with the identity of her father. Parker remembered how Jarod had tried to direct her towards the truth once before, but she was blinded by the Centre's lies and refused to trust him. Ben Miller was ecstatic when Parker gave him the proof Jarod had left for them. Ben always hoped that Parker was his daughter, especially since Catherine had been the love of his life, but the fear of losing her as well had kept him from pursuing the truth. Although he wanted to be near his daughter and grandchildren, Ben refused to go near the Centre; the place that had killed the woman he loved and nearly destroyed his daughter. At first, Parker and the boys would spend the weekends at the Inn, but Ben's stubbornness was no mach against Parker's powers of persuasion, and soon she convinced him to visit them in Blue Cove.
Parker was not so successful with Ethan. Her half brother was still a mystery to her and he remained elusive. Deep feelings of guilt for his inability to stop Jarod's death still haunted him, and Jarod's presence around Parker and the boys was something he could not handle. Being apart from Ethan was painful, but somehow whenever she needed him, he would appear, help her and then vanish again. He was like another guardian angel in her life.
On the other hand, Jarod's family had become a constant in her life. The Russell family loved the children and they visit them every chance they had, but they still felt anger and sadness whenever they were close to the place that tore apart their family and took away Jarod's life. Besides Emily and Major Charles, the only person Parker had not seen in a long time was Gemini or Jareth, the new name he had chosen for himself. Soon after Jarod's death, Jareth moved away and started his studies at Harvard. He was studying Law, Business Management, Psychology and other areas of interest. Major Charles and Emily were very proud of Jareth. The young man was giving them the chance to see him grow and thrive; something they never had the chance to do with Jarod.
Five years after Jarod's death, tragedy hit the Russell family again. Major Charles died after a long battle with Cancer. Carrying out their father's last wishes, Emily and Jareth buried the Major next to his wife and sons. Symbolically, not wanting to be away from her family, Emily moved to Arizona with her husband, but Jareth refused to go with her. The Major's death had been a devastating blow for the young man. After Jareth's rescue from the Centre, Major Charles had been like his guiding light. The Major had cared for him, made him part of his family and helped him find his identity. Now with his father gone, he felt lost again, but he was not a child anymore and he needed to find his place in the world. He had the gift of great knowledge and it was up to him to put this gift to use to help others, as his brother had done before him.
Miss Parker smiled as she recalled the day the New Centre team recruited its final member. It had been a grueling day filled with meetings and deadlines and all she wanted to do was to get home and sleep. She was on the phone with Sydney, inviting him to spend the weekend with her and the boys at Ben's Inn, when she heard a soft knock on her office door. Miss Parker was standing facing her panoramic window as she spoke to her old friend on the phone.
"Come in." Miss Parker called casually without turning around.
When the man entered her office, something made the hairs on the back her neck stand-up straight. Her inner sense perceived a presence she had not felt in many years. Miss Parker looked at the reflection on the glass before her and gasped as a scream escaped her throat. Sending the phone to the ground with a crash, she turned hesitantly to face her visitor.
"OH MY GOD!" Parker stared in shock.
"Jarod?" She asked trembling as tears welled in her eyes.
"No, I'm Jarod's younger...brother, Jareth, but you know me as Gemini. The young man answered timidly. "We met a long time ago."
Parker was still shaking as she made her way back to her desk, forgetting the conversation with Sydney. The man before her was in his mid-twenties and was a carbon copy of a young Jarod.
"I'm sorry, is just that you look so much like...."
"Jarod." He finished for her. "I know, and I'm sorry if I frightened you."
"No...It's OK...Please sit down." Parker waved at the younger man to approach.
Just as Jareth was taking his seat in front of Parker's desk, Sydney entered her office in a panic.
"Parker are you alright?" Sydney asked almost out of breath. "What happened? I heard you scream something and then the line when dead."
Sydney was petrified as he saw the young man stand from his seat and turn to greet him.
"OH MY GOD!" Sydney exclaimed. "It can't be?"
"Is not Jarod." Parker stated sadly. "I know Syd, I made the same mistake."
"Syd are you alright?" Parker rushed to the old man when she noticed his pallid face.
"Sir, are you alright?" Jareth asked with care in his voice.
Parker and Jareth helped Sydney to the nearest couch. All the while, Sydney could not take his eyes off the young man. He was young Jarod.
"I remember you." Jareth looked at Sydney thoughtfully, "You came to visit me and you gave me some tests just before I was to be transferred to Africa, and just before my... father and Jarod rescued me." He was quiet for a moment and then added. "You helped Jarod in my rescue."
"Yes, I couldn't allow the Centre to steal another child's life." Sydney looked away in shame. "I wish I've done the same for Jarod."
"Sydney don't do this to yourself." Miss Parker scolded. "You know that was outside your control, besides if Jarod didn't have you, he would have never survived here or outside."
Sydney softly murmured his thanks to Parker, and then turned his attention to the young man that was staring at him with a concerned look on his face.
"We heard about Major Charles' death. I'm sorry." Sydney said placing a hand on the young man's shoulder.
The young man just nodded his thanks to the old man, and then directed his gaze back to Miss Parker. His eyes held her for a moment and then he stood from the couch. "My father always taught me to follow my heart and to never give-up. At first, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after I finished my studies, but something inside of me kept directing me to this place, to complete something that my brother started." Jareth gave the two people sitting on the couch a questionable glance. "Do you think I could be of any help here?"
Parker and Sydney exchanged a surprised look. "But, I thought you would never want to set foot here again." Parker stated with a raised eyebrow. "What does your family think about your decision?"
"Things have changed." Jareth reply sadly. "My father is gone, Emily has moved away to Arizona and now...I have no one here. I thought that...maybe I could work with all of you to change this place, as my brother wanted.
Parker stood from her place next to Sydney and approached Jareth with her hand extended. "I think that would be a great idea. Welcome to our team Jareth." Parker smiled as she shook his hand. "Now tell me Jareth, what can you do? What kind of degrees do you have?"
Immediately after Jareth explained in detail all his qualifications, Sydney took the young man by the arm and left Parker's office. He wanted to be the first to give Jareth a tour of the new facilities and introduce him to the Centre staff. Sydney was already talking about a study in which they could work together. Parker just smiled at the picture of Sydney bonding with the young man so quickly. It was unavoidable. Sydney's dream had come true. He had Jarod back, and she could almost sense the joy in the old man's heart.
Miss Parker stood from the couch convinced that she would not get any reading done tonight. She walked over to the window and stood silently enjoying the cool breeze from the ocean as the light of the day faded and the first stars began to appear. The sound of the crashing waves on the shore called to her like voices.
The last twenty years had been a journey of discovery and survival for all of them. Both her sons had grown into two wonderful and caring individuals and now they were in charge of the Centre. She and Jarod changed the Parker Legacy and together they abolished the evil that had destroyed so many lives. Her mother's pleas to complete her plan invaded her mind and she could not stop the tears that came with it. They were finally free, but the price she was made to pay had left a wound in her heart that would never heal. She looked up to the darkening sky and softly whispered, "We did it Mom.We completed your plan." Parker looked towards her desk and her eyes rested on Jarod's picture. "I miss you Jarod."
He always had been with her during the most difficult moments of her life and he never gave up on her, no matter how many times she pushed him away. "You were as stubborn as they come, Pez head." Miss Parker said to herself with a smile as she remembered the nickname.
Jarod had been correct. They were meant to be together and he had shown her the way to change the story, but the ending had been cruel and unfair. The Parker curse had done its final evil deed by taking away the person she loved the most, and she knew she would never find that kind of love again.
As she was engulfed in her loneliness, the words from Jarod's novel began to flow in her head, "She felt consumed by a great void, a dark and silent abyss as terrifying as the grand palace around her, but somewhere in the chilling blackness, she caught a glimpse of a light. She remember a time; the precocious little girl with the heart full of fire, a soul in flame by passion and a smile that could melt winter into spring, but the light was gone, the flame had died, her past was taken from her by the soldiers of the great palace. She would continue searching, hoping to rekindle the fire, until then, she will always be the saddest little Valentine."
Jarod had been her guiding light and her savior. The grand palace was gone and the dark and silent abyss that was her life was no more. Now her life was filled with family and friends that loved her, but most important of all, she had her two sons and in them, she would always have Jarod alive.
"Mom, are you alright?" Adam's voice startled Miss Parker.
I'm sorry Adam; I was distracted." Parker explained while wiping the tears from her cheeks. "I'm fine son, just remembering."
"You miss him a lot, don't you?" Adam asked with sadness as he noticed his mother holding the picture of their father against her heart.
"Yes I do." Parker caressed her son's face gently. "I guess I just got a little emotional thinking about the anniversary coming up next week.Don't worry, I'm fine."
"Remember, he wants you to be happy." Adam leaned over and gave his mom a soft kiss on the cheek.
"I am happy. I have you and your brother, Jarod. You both are my life." Parker smiled at her son as new tears appeared in her eyes. "I see your father in both of you everyday and that makes me the happiest and proudest mom in the world."
Adam draped his arm over her shoulder and placed another kiss on her forehead. "Have you talked to Grandpa Ben about the trip to Arizona next week?"
"Yes, I spoke to him last night and he said he would love to come with us." Parker sighed and then continued, "Sydney is the one who doesn't want to come. He keeps saying that he is too old and doesn't want to be a burden."
"Don't worry about Grandpa Sydney, I'll send Jareth to talk to him tonight." Adam smiled mischievously. "You know Grandpa can't say no to Jareth."
"Oh you are a sneaky child." Parker reprimanded him as her lips curved into a smile. "That's blackmail"
"I know." Adam replied with a chuckle.
Parker looked at Adam and shook her head smiling, "You are just like your father, clever and sly."
"Where is your brother?" Parker asked while putting Jarod's picture back on her desk.
"Oh Jarod, he left already. He was going to take Elizabeth to dinner." Adam answered casually.
"Really, how long has your brother been seeing this girl?" Parker asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, they've been working together for over a year now, and I think they are getting PRETTY SERIOUS about each other." Adam had noticed the look of surprise on his mother's face and was trying hard not to laugh. "What's wrong Mom; don't you want to be a GRANDMA?"
"WHAT?" Parker almost choked on her words.
"Oh come on Mom, wouldn't you like to have some grandchildren to care for and have them call you GRANDMA?"
"ADAM." Parker warned in a very serious tone.
"Alright, alright; I was just kidding." Adam chuckled as he raised his hands in surrendering gesture. "I'll see you home in about an hour." He leaned forward, kissed his Mom on the cheek again and rushed out of the room giggling.
Parker was still laughing as she returned to her desk to gather her things. "Imagine me a grandmother." She looked at Jarod's picture andsaid, "You know something Jarod? I think being a grandmother is not so bad. If our grandkids are like those two, I will be the happiest and proudest grandma in the world. Jarod, we did OK. Our sons are very bright, happy, strong, and kind-hearted just like you."
Parker lifted Jarod's picture from her desk and gently traced the outline of his face with her fingertips. "I knowyou are watching over us like you promised."
She closed her eyes and imagined she was caressing his face again. She missed him so much that it made her heart ache. Even though her life was finally tranquil and happy, the void that Jarod had left would never be filled. If she was given a wish today, she would ask to see him again in this world; although, she knew that she would be with him again someday. "I love you Jarod and you will always be with me, no matter where I go." Parker wiped the new tears from her face and placed the photo back on her desk.
As she turned around to leave, the figure standing at her door startle her.
"Oh my God! Jareth, you scared me half to death."
Parker tried to give him an angry look, but failed. She was very fond of Jareth and like Sydney she could never be mad at him. He was Jarod in the flesh, and his mannerisms and personality were so like Jarod's it was uncanny. She looked at him and smiled, "Hey, do you have any special plans for your 40th birthday next Friday?"
"Not really." He replied casually.
"Then we'll have dinner at my house with the whole family and I will not accept any excuses."
"OK Parker, you're the boss." He replied with his crooked smile.
"Oh by the way, did Adam talk to you about Sydney...." Parker began.
"Yes, and don't worry, Sydney will be there. I know he won't let me down." He finished for her.
"Thank you Jareth. I really appreciate you talking to Sydney." Parker spoke over her shoulder as she gathered her files and briefcase from her desk. "Jareth, I know I don't say this often enough, but I'm very happy that you came to work with us here. Your help has been a blessing for the boys and me and of course Sydney. He treasures your friendship immensely." Parker paused for a moment. "We're all very lucky to have you with us."
When Parker turned around, Jareth was gone. "Jareth?" She swiftly walked across the room to the door and looked outside, but the hall was deserted. "I can't believe this, here I am giving you a piece of my soul and you go and disappear on me!" Parker growled. "This little disappearing trick is definitely in the Russell genes."
Frustrated and somewhat annoyed, Parker grabbed her briefcase and headed for the elevator. All she wanted to do right now was to get home and relax. She would make a mental note to ask Jareth about his strange behavior the next time she saw him.
When Parker reached the main lobby, she saw Jareth entering the building and heading in her direction. Jareth looked at Parker and said very cheerfully, "Hi Miss Parker, finally going home for the weekend?"
Parker stared at Jareth as if the man had grown a secondhead. "What?...When...did you cha...change your clothes?" Parker stuttered. "But...but...I just saw you a...a few minutes ago and...you were wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a leather jacket."
Frowning and very confused, Jareth said, "I didn't change my clothes. I have been out all day in meetings with lawyers and I just got back, but I can't wait to get out of this suit." He looked at Parker while pulling off his tie. "Are you alright Miss Parker?"
Parker gasped as she felt a warm sensation radiate through her body and she realized what had just happened. "That wasn't you...that was...I'll explain later." Parker said as she brought herself out of the shock and raced back to the elevators, yelling over her shoulder. "Have a great weekend Jareth."
"And I thought I was strange." Jareth said to himself as he watched Miss Parker push her way into the elevator pass a surprised group of Centre employees.
When the elevator reached her floor, Parker rushed out and dropped her briefcase on her receptionist's desk before entering her office once again. Her hands were shaking and she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She slowly opened the door and switched the light on. Anxiously, her eyes scanned the whole room, but to her disappointment, it was empty. Everything looked the way she had left it. She walked to the window and looked out at the darkness beyond. Had she imagined the whole thing or did she really see him and talked to him? Parker closed her eyes and ran her hand through her hair frustrated, and confused. "Definitely, when I get back from Arizona I'm taking a vacation."
When she walked pass her desk to exit her office, something on her desk caught her attention. Parker approached her desk in a daze, and when the item came into focus, she released a breath she was not aware she was holding. She laughed nervously as the tears began to flow again. There in the middle of her desk stood the Bugs Bunny Pez dispenser her son had left for his father on their first visit. She picked up the special gift and whispered, "Thank you Jarod." Parker walked to the door and stopped just before leaving. She looked around the empty room once more as she held the Pez dispenser next to her trembling lips, "Jarod, I have always known that you were here with us." She paused wishing that she could see him again. "You are the reason I'm still alive and you taught me to love again without fear." She closed her eyes and whispered, "Jarod, you were my light and my strength and I will always love you."
She slowly closed the door and headed home to her family. A blissful smile adorned her face. She felt engulfed with a sense of euphoria, hope and peace. Once again, Jarod had proved to her that love transcends death and deep in her heart, she knew that she would see him again. Her life had been a difficult journey filled with obstacles and pain, but she had survived and with his love and determination, they had changed the ending of the story. Now she understood her purpose. This was Jarod's plan and it was her Destiny.