Disclaimer: Don't own them, won't make any money with them, will put them back once I am done. Promise!
Author's Note: People, this is the first story I have come up with for the better part of two months. My muse just decided to go on strike. I was lucky that the last chapters of "To End The Evil" as well as the follow-up story were already done. Anyway, as I said this story is the first one I was able to write in quite some time. I hope that you'll like it!
Sometimes, fate is cruel
But death is just the beginning
But there's light even in the darkest place
In a world, no being ever left
To gain courage...
... and strength
She sat in complete darkness. No artificial lights illuminated the room. It was night and there was only the dim light of nature flittering through the window.
Her thoughts swivelled round again.
Round and round they went; always in circles; never getting anywhere; a snake eating its own tail.
No, that was not the picture she wanted to have... and yet it popped up in her mind.
A snake, devouring its own tail, tattooed onto a forearm.
It was a picture that appeared every once in a while, leaving her sick; a picture that had burned itself into her consciousness. The implications of what this picture meant only added to the pile her thoughts circled around.
The pile of shattered pieces that was her life.
She grimaced at that thought.
Lately it had been getting harder and harder to move on. Nothing was as it should be. Nothing was as she wished it to be. The pile of shattered pieces grew with every second of her life.
Hopes crashed mercilessly, promises broken without more than the blink of an eye, new people falling from the family tree, new gruesome things revealed from her family's history, new lives destroyed and new bodies added... piling on the pavement.
Parker swallowed and closed her eyes. More pictures invaded her consciousness.
Her mother's (not) dead body stretched out in the elevator, Faith dying in her presence, her young friend's battered body after a simulation with former Dr. Raines, her mother's face – the huge bruise forming on her cheek - after Raines had left their home, Kyle dying in Jarod's arms and Tommy lying - covered in his own blood - on her porch.
Her eyes snapped open and she gasped for air.
There was so much evil in her life and it didn't seem as if that would ever change. Not as long as she stayed in the same environment, and since the Centre was adamant at keeping her – if Tommy's death proved anything, it was that – her environment would never change... and with it, her life would stay the same...
... And the pictures she was forced to endure.
She would forever be forced to hunt her childhood friend, hiding her sympathy for him, hiding her feelings. She would forever be forced to run around the way she did now: arrogant, unfeeling, uncaring and empty. The complete opposite of what she had once hoped for.
But in their world, hopes were there to be shattered and dreams were there to be kept private in order to keep them alive, even if out of reach forever.
It was not a life she wished for anyone... not even her worst enemy.
There was no way to break free from that. She had been born into that environment and she would die in it. The only thing that she might have a hand in would be when and where she died... if she was lucky.
And lately, death had become more and more attractive. Lately she had wondered when she would end it all. She had wondered when the moment would come where she couldn't take it any longer.
Once the pile of shattered pieces, of broken hopes and dead bodies became too much to bear.
She let her eyes wander down to her hands. She could barely see the object that lay in them but she could feel it. The cold metal had a calming effect. Next to the gun lay the promising prospect of salvation; salvation from everything.
She let the fingers of her right hand run over the smooth surface.
A tear escaped her eye.
She didn't wipe it away.
In the darkness of this room she could let it run down her face. She didn't need to put on the mask that was inhibiting her every second she spent in the light. But here in the darkness, no one could see her tears and therefore she could let them fall freely.
She treasured every moment she could be the person she was and not the person she projected. And so she treasured every moment she spent alone in the darkness of her own rooms.
More tears followed the first one. These moments were short and pure. They were everything that kept her remembering her true persona, these moments and those she sometimes experienced during special phone conversations.
But just as short and pure these moments were, they were seldom and well hidden. And the more often she had to hide them, the more unreal they became and the less healing.
The gun in her hand seemed to gain weight.
Maybe this was her last chance to end it, her last chance before she couldn't stop it any longer. Before she would really become the person she despised.
Her fingers closed around the metal firmly. She loosened the safety and slowly raised the gun, tears streaming down her face, blurring her vision but she wouldn't need to see to hit her target.
Cold metal was now resting at the side of her temple, directed by her own hands.
Closing her eyes she tried to suppress the sobs that shook her body.
"What the hell do you think you're doing there?" an angry voice sounded behind her. Before she had the time to turn around, she could hear the fall of footsteps – big, long strides – and then the gun was snatched out of her hands.
She didn't open her eyes but her shoulders sagged.
"I asked you what the hell you thought you were doing here," his voice called out again. She felt herself being turned around by her shoulders.
She lowered her head.
"Parker," he lowered his voice a bit.
Her head was spinning with emotions... relief, sadness, embarrassment.
She felt his hand under her chin, gently urging her to raise her head. "Hey, look at me," he gently pleaded with her. His voice was barely above a whisper now. The sound of concern in his voice caressed her like a soft blanket, spreading out under her, catching her fall.
She opened her eyes for a brief moment, meeting his gaze for no more than a heartbeat and then she let her head fall forward against his shoulder.
Instantly, his arms came around her, encircling her, holding her to him, conveying security with every fibre. His one hand in her hair, his other on her shoulder, he rocked them both back and forth.
She let the tears fall freely. It was too late to pretend they weren't there. He had seen them. Long ago he had already known that they were there and he was not one of the persons she needed to hide them from. She had always hidden them from him just as she had tried to hide them from herself but he had seen them all long.
For a long time neither said a word. The silence was merely interrupted by her soft sobs and sniffling.
With her eyes closed, leaned into the one person she had been introduced to as a simulation, spent a huge amount of time with in her youth, trained to distrust, hate and chase later, she could almost make herself believe that the world was fine.
She dreaded to open her eyes for everything would come down to the brutal truth... that nothing was fine.
"What were you thinking, Parker?" Jarod heaved a sigh, still not entangling himself from her. "You scared me badly."
"I can't do this any longer. I'm so tired of it," she mumbled.
"And so you want to end your life?" he asked incredulously.
She kept silent.
"Parker, you know better than that," he said and slowly drew her away from him to look her in the eye.
"Do I?" she asked.
"Yes, I believe you do. You know that there is so much in the world that is worth living for. And if this reason is merely having the last laugh," he replied.
Another tear escaped her. "Is having the last laugh worth all the pain we are experiencing?"
He tilted his head and smiled sadly. Slowly he leaned forward and then dropped a feather-light kiss on her forehead. "I believe it is."
Parker closed her eyes again
"I just can't go on. I don't have the strength any longer," she whispered.
"Yes, you can go on. You are a fighter, Parker," he said with determination.
"No, Jarod. That's not who I am. That's who I pretend to be but that's not me," she shook her head and looked at him with pain in her eyes.
He smiled sadly. "That's not true and you know it. You are a fighter otherwise you wouldn't have survived in the Centre that long. You are just as much of a fighter as I am, as we all are."
"I have no strength left to fight," she mumbled.
"You will have to find a reason to go on fighting," he replied in an equally soft voice.
She heaved a sigh. "A life spent in the Centre is not worth fighting for any longer for me."
"Then you will have to leave the Centre," Jarod stated.
"Ha," she scoffed. "Jarod, you know as well as I do that I will never be able to leave the Centre. They won't let me leave."
"Since when do you accept what they want?" he asked pointedly. "Come on. That's not the Parker I know."
"But what can I do?"
He smiled. "You will have to leave the Centre without their consent," his boyish trademark-grin appeared, "there are more people walking around in the outside world that ran away from the Centre than you think."
A frown appeared on her face. "I don't know if I will be able to make it," she admitted.
"Have faith in yourself Miss Parker. I know that you will be able to make it. You are not just a fighter but you are also a pretender. Never forget that," he told her.
"I might have the gene but I'm not a pretender," she shook her head again.
He shrugged. "If you think so. I only know that you are good and I believe that you paid attention to what I have been doing," he winked at her.
She nodded slowly. "Yeah."
He smiled and then drew her towards him once more.
Parker relaxed into his embrace and put her head on his shoulder.
"And you will always have me. Whenever you are in trouble, I will be there," he added in a hushed tone.
Another tear escaped her. Despite all the things that had happened to them, he still promised to be there for her. She had been hunting him, threatened to shoot him, called him names, prevented him from meeting his parents and yet he was here and he would remain close to her.
He stayed with her throughout the night, held her in his arms and reassured her. He told her about his life in the outside world, about his first encounters with 'real' life; how he had first tasted ice-cream, about his insecurities, his fears that everyone would notice his being different. He told her about some of his pretends they had never known about.
She knew that he told her all this to get her feet securely on the ground once more, to get her to see all the good things that were in the world and she had to admit that it worked.
It was only in the morning that he slowly entangled himself from her. Her head still on his shoulder, he looked up.
He gently nudged her shoulder and when he started to get up from his sitting position, he drew her up with him. Steering her out of the room, he grabbed a blanket on the way and manoeuvred her outside. Gently pushing her down so that she came to sit o the porch steps, he lowered himself next to her and wrapped them both in the blanket before his arm encircled her again and drew her close to him once more.
She didn't know what he had intended with this but she let him have his way. Not much later she learned what he had had in mind.
She watched as the first rays of daylight flittered over the horizon, tinting the sky in all kind of colours. Only now did she realize how long it had been since she had last seen a sunrise.
They both watched the changes of colour without speaking for a long while.
"See? That's what I meant when I said that there is so much that is worth living for," he murmured.
She merely nodded, her eyes still firmly fixed on the horizon.
Soon after the first rays of light came across the horizon, the first sounds of awakening reached her ears.
When he looked at her at that, he found a light smile lingering at the edges of her mouth, making him smile as well.
"Will you be ok?"
"I have to believe I will," she sighed.
He looked at her more closely and a bit suspiciously, trying to judge her state of mind. "Do I have to take your gun with me or will you be ok?" he asked once more.
She smiled. "No, you won't need to take it with you."
He smiled and slowly slipped out of the blanket he had wrapped around them both. He stood up and gave her one more calculating and judging glance before he gave her a somewhat satisfied nod. Crouching down in front of her he took her face in his hands and gently caressed her cheeks. Leaning in close he let his forehead come to rest against hers.
"Find your reason to go on," he said. "And never forget: I'll always be there for you if you need me!"
She breathed deeply and closed her eyes.
He slowly let go of her and straightened. Smiling, he made eye contact once more and then turned around and walked away from her.
She watched him go but didn't try to hold him back. As much as she wanted to, she needed to get through this alone.
And she would.
Perhaps not all hopes were there to be shattered and not every dream was out of reach.
Maybe there was a chance for her.
To be continued...
Well? How about feedback?
Ok, about the 'poem' at the beginning of this story. As far as I know it is kind of a Japanese poem. I have it from a friend of mine who is making computer animated films and he had included it into one of those. He had it translated from a friend of his. I found it fitting for this story.
Anyway, to make a long story short:
I don't know if the translation is correct and I don't know if anyone would be angry at me for using it in this story, so I'm stating for the record that just as the characters in the story the poem is not mine either.