Disclaimer: The Pretender and all its characters are not mine. They belong to NBC, MTM, TNT, and its Producers. I'm just borrowing these wonderful characters to write this story for entertainment. No infringement intended.
Author's Note: Well, here is the conclusion of my little story. Thank you for your patience and for all the nice words. Each of your reviews meant a world to me. Special thanks to all the devoted readers: AJeff, KatieQ, Teddy78, BlueTigress, Miravisu, VisualIdentificationZeta, Nancy, imag1ne, NYT, Jefinner, Nans, Arica, Pricess of Rivendell, Dark1, harmswife, Miravisu, anamcharalove, magicisagift, Myxale. Thanks again to Jacci for all her help. Mercy
"Love is everything it's cracked up to be...It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for." Erica Jong.
Fifteen minutes later, Parker and Broots made their appearance back at Sydney's home. As soon as the tall woman entered the house, Sydney noticed the concerned look on her face.
"Broots go check the flight schedule and passenger list again before we leave." Parker ordered immediately before even facing the two very anxious men waiting in front of her.
"I take it that you found what you were looking for." Sydney said candidly.
"And much more." Parker replied with disgust.
"So Jarod is dealing with the Triumvirate?" Sydney asked, his voice laced with fear.
"I'm not sure about Jarod yet, but it seems that everyone else was." Parker spat back angrily.
Frowning, Sydney replied, "I don't understand."
"Well it seems that before his death, Mr. Raines was trying to have Lyle removed from the Centre permanently." Parker began. "So he sent the Triumvirate a lengthy account of Lyle's extra curriculum activities and how he was using the Centre resources and projects for his own profit, including the Pretender project."
"So, that was the reason for the summons he received." Sydney added.
"Yes, but that's not all." Parker paused for a moment. "It appears that Lyle was trying to do the same."
"Lyle was squealing on Mr. Raines?" Sam asked baffled.
"No, it gets better...Lyle was poisoning him." Parker said, obtaining a look of shock from both men.
"But how?...Mr. Raines was extremely cautious to the point of paranoia." Sydney replied in disbelief. "Who could have gotten close enough to poison him?"
"The only person Raines trusted in that Hell hole." Parker said with a smirk.
"Willy" Sam replied with repugnance.
"Give the man a cigar." Parker replied.
"But I thought, Raines died from a brain tumor?" Sydney asked confused.
"A brain tumor caused by a cocktail of drugs that were created right there at the Centre a long time ago. And the irony of the whole thing is that Jarod worked on that research project. It was some kind of safety protocol for the interaction of these drugs when used together." Parker paused, pulling from her pocket a memo with the project number and all the instructions. "We found this in Lyle's office...I guess he was in such a hurry to leave that he forgot to clean up after himself."
"But who killed Lyle?" Sydney asked puzzled.
"The Triumvirate." Parker said candidlyobtaining another stunned look from both men. "Broots found a fountain of information in Raines' computer; apparently, The Triumvirate put a Z-3 contract on Lyle as soon as he failed to answer their summons and once again Willy finished the job." Parker finished very serious.
"So let me get this straight, Willy was working for Mr. Raines and Lyle at the same time." Sam replied even more perplexed.
"No, the Son of the Bitch was working for the Triumvirate the whole time...Cleaning house for them." Parker said between clenched teeth.
"Miss Parker we have to find Willy." Sam spoke with determination.
"Don't worry Sam, we already found him. The fink was packing his belongings to make a quick exit, but now he's locked away in a secured cell down in Sub-level 5." Parker remarked calmly.
"Sub-level 5?" Sydney asked bitterly.
"Yes, I locked him up in Jarod's old cell."
"Oh I bet Willy really liked that." Sam laughed sarcastically.
Sydney breathed out a sight of relief, but then his voice suddenly turned serious, "Parker that means that you are in grave danger." Looking into her grey eyes Sydney continued, "The Triumvirate is trying to remove all the Parkers to take over the Centre."
"And Jarod must have found out about their plans." Parker finished softly as a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach made her grow silent. Somehow, Jarod had obtained this information from someone inside the Centre and now the stubborn fool was willing to risk everything to stop The Triumvirate and finally gain her freedom.
Suddenly, the chime of the grandfather clock interrupted the silence that had engulfed the family room. Parker glanced at the clock and shouted, "Broots, let's go, is time to leave."
"Okay, okay Miss Parker; just give me one minute, I'm trying to get the quickest route to both airports." Broots answered from the study.
"Fine, but hurry." Parker replied anxiously.
"What if the Triumvirate is monitoring the Centre and tries to take over while you are gone?" Sydney asked warily.
"Don't worry Syd, I took care of that." Parker said, patting the old man on the shoulder. "I placed the Centre on red alert and no one enters of leaves the facility until this is over."
Sydney looked at Parker and nodded his approval with a smile, suddenly feeling proud for the way she was handling this new threat. She never ceased to amaze him; throughout her entire life this extraordinary woman had dealt with terrible loss, betrayal and loneliness, but with her courage, determination and strength Parker had learned to survive in that vipers pit called the Centre. Now, once again she was faced with another challenge, to locate her childhood friend and find out what kind of deal he had made with The Triumvirate.
"I'm ready Miss Parker!" Broots shouted nervously as he rushed into the room and began giving the maps and directions to Sydney and Sam, along with fake security passes he had quickly made back at the Centre to get them access into the secured areas in the airport.
"Good, let's get this show on the road." Parker said and extended her hand to the old man next to her. "Syd, car keys?"
"But I thought I was going to drive?" Sydney complained softly.
"Sorry Syd, but if I let you drive we'll get there tomorrow."
Sighing heavily, Sydney surrendered his car keys and walked to the wooden coat hanger to gather his coat.
Parker looked at her watch once more before facing Sam, who was anxiously awaiting her orders.
"It's 2:30pm; you and Broots should reach Maryland in less than two hours and Sydney and I should reach New York in about three hours."
"Three hours?" Sydney replied surprised.
Rolling her eyes, Parker ignored Sydney's remark and faced Sam again, "Any questions?"
"What should we do if we spot Jarod?" Sam asked very serious.
"Nothing!" Parker replied louder than she intended. Taking a deep breath she continued in a more subdued tone, "Just monitor his every move and call me right away."
"Yes Ma' am!" Sam said firmly, turned and quickly exited the house with Broots.
When the others have left, Sydney approached Parker and asked softly, "Parker what are you planning to do when we find Jarod?"
"First, I need to find out what the hell boy genius is planning to do for the Triumvirate and then I'll knock some sense into that hard skull of his."
"Parker this is serious." Sydney scolded.
"Yes Syd, I'm aware of that." Parker snapped back dryly, but Sydney could sense the fear in her voice.
No matter how hard Parker had tried to keep her mask in place and hide her true feelings and distress in front of the others, Sydney still could see the anguish and concern in her eyes. After her confrontation with Jarod in the study, he had noticed the pain and sadness in her eyes; almost a mirror image of the loneliness and guilt that was present in the pretender's eyes. Even after all the years of separation and the Centre's manipulations to control their lives, some strange force always brought them back together, like when they were children. Now he hoped, he prayed that this special bond would play an important role in saving their lives and finally reward these two people with the truth they were seeking.
"What if we can't find Jarod on time?" Sydney asked with dread; his voice barely audible.
"We will Syd; we have to." Parker replied softly as she gently attached herself to Sydney's arm and guided him to the front door. "Let's go, we have a long drive ahead."
Three hours later.
The trip to New York had been made in almost complete silence, except for the few times when Sydney read the directions Broots had provided for their journey. Parker was extremely annoyed because the trip had taken longer than she expected, due to a torrential downpour that had caused numerous road closures and detours.
Suddenly, the ringing of Parker's cell phone broke the uncomfortable silence inside the car.
"What?" Parker spat irritably.
She listened attentively to the person at the other end and then asked, "What time does that flight leaves for Morocco?"
She listened again and then ordered, "Make another sweep of the terminal, wait until the flight has departed and then call me back."
As soon as Parker closed her cell phone, Sydney asked concerned, "They didn't find Jarod?"
"Not yet." Parker said simply.
When they finally arrived at the airport parking lot, Parker glanced at her watch again. It was 6:20pm and the first flight for England was scheduled to leave at 8:00pm, which gave them little time to search the huge terminal before the passengers started to board their flight.
"Damn." Parker grumbled as she exited the car.
Sydney wanted to say something to ease her tension, but chose to remain quiet and quickly followed her lead as they rushed towards the airport entrance.
Once inside, Parker immediately ran towards the monitors listing all the flights. When she found the first flight headed for England, she looked at Sydney and announced louder than she intended, "Terminal B, gate 25."
Frantically, Parker rushed through the crowded building as she followed the signs pointing the way towards Terminal B, but completely forgot about her older companion. Sydney had tried desperately to keep up with the younger woman, but found himself stopping a few times to catch his breath. He was getting too old for this cat and mouse game and he prayed that this would be the last time that they had to chase after his protégée.
Finally when she reached Terminal B, Parker stopped suddenly remembering about Sydney. A few minutes later, the older man managed to catch up to her. Looking at her old friend apologetically, she whispered, "I'm sorry Syd, it's just that..."
Sydney held up his hand to silence her and then replied between breaths, "I understand Parker...There is no need...for apologies...Now, let's go find Jarod."
As they were about to continue their search, Parker's phone rang again. Nervously, Parker reached into her pocket, removed the small phone and demanded, "Talk to me."
While listening to the person at the other end, Parker began to pace in front of Sydney.
"Okay, let me think for a moment." Parker replied apprehensively as she pulled the phone away from her ear. After a nerve-racking pause, Parker continued, "Alright Sam, listen carefully...I don't know what we're up against, so I need you here...First, make sure you are not being followed, then You and Broots take the next flight available to New York; meet us in Terminal B...Call me when you arrive."
Slowly Parker closed her phone and returned it to her jacket pocket.
"I take it that Jarod was not in Maryland" Sydney replied simply.
"No, the 6:30pm flight for Morocco just left, but no sign of Jarod."
"Why did you ask Sam and Broots to come here? Sydney asked cautiously.
"In case we are not alone in this search, plus Jarod might need a little persuasion to change his mind." Parker finished seriously.
"Parker, I don't think that antagonizing him will help the situation." Sydney replied, his voice filled with concern.
"I DON'T WANT TO ANTAGONIZE HIM." Parker put emphasis on each word, then paused taking a deep breath before continuing in a softer tone. "But sometimes Jarod can be stubborn as a mule."
"It takes one to know one." Sydney replied back with a smile.
Parker shot him a venomous glare, but remained quiet. Sydney was right, Jarod and her were similar in many ways and no one knew them better than this kind old man, who had been like a father figure to both since they were children and above all she knew that he cared deeply for both of them. She could see it in the concerned look in his eyes. Suddenly, the sound of an announcement through the speaker system brought Parker back to reality.
"Okay enough talk; let's go find Jarod." Parker said, her voice still edgy, and she began walking rapidly towards the area marked gates 20-30. Once again, Sydney found himself almost running after the tall woman. In all the years of the chase, he still could not figure out how Miss Parker could move so fast in those darn stilettos heels.
When they finally reached the waiting area outside gate 25, Parker and Sydney scanned the area nervously, but there was no sign of the elusive pretender.
"Where the hell is he?" Parker growled.
"Easy Parker, maybe Jarod has not arrived yet." Sydney tried to calm the agitated woman.
Parker looked at her watch again and began, "It's 6:45 and the first flight for England leaves at 8:00pm. That means that they will start boarding in about 45 minutes. He has to be here by now."
"Maybe he went to the restroom." Sydney added.
"Go check." Parker ordered giving Sydney a small push.
A few minutes later, Sydney returned shaking his head negatively.
"Where could he be?" Parker asked out loud more to herself than to the man standing next to her.
"Maybe he's taking a later flight." Sydney replied hopefully.
"Or he's being very cautious and waiting for the last minute to come out in the open." Parker said somewhat annoyed. "I hate playing his little games."
"I don't think Jarod sees this as a game Parker; this is how he survives and has clung to his freedom this long."
"Okay Freud, but this doesn't get us anywhere." Parker spat back angrily. After a short pause, a faint smile began to curl her lips. "I think I know where he is."
"Where?" Sydney asked curiously.
"Follow me." Parker said confidently as she began walking back the same way they had come from a few minutes earlier. At the entrance of Terminal B, Parker had noticed a small cafe among the other food stands and stores, but in their rush to reach the departure gate, she had not thought of checking the place.
Parker entered the small establishment and her eyes immediately found the familiar figure sitting in a small booth at the back of the cafe. Even though the pretender's back was turned to them, she could sense his presence.
Without looking at her old companion standing next to her, Parker replied softly, "Syd, give us a few minutes."
"Alright." Sydney whispered, giving her a soft squeeze on her forearm. "Good Luck."
For a moment, Sydney watched as Parker made her way to the back of the cafe where she had spotted Jarod. Before turning to leave, Sydney said a silent prayer for the two people that meant the world to him. Life had never been kind to them; they cared deeply about each other since they were children, but all the lies and betrayal had nearly shattered that friendship. Now that all the Centre's demons were abolished, he hoped that their wounds would soon heal and Catherine's wish would finally come true.
Tiredly, Sydney walked towards a newsstand across from the cafe and began scanning through the reading material available. He had a feeling that Parker and Jarod's talk was going to take more than a few minutes, so he better find something to occupy his mind with to ease his anxiety.
Feeling her heart racing out of control, Parker moved slowly towards the private booth at the back of the cafe, stopping momentarily a few feet away to regain her ice queen composure and keep those darn emotions in check. This was not the time to fall apart; she had to stay calm and in control.
When Parker was a couple of feet away, she stopped again and watched Jarod attentively. The pretender was completely unaware of her approach and this was somewhat of a surprise and concern to her. His shoulders were slightly slumped forward as he slowly stirred the coffee in front of him; his eyes focused on the dark liquid as if completely lost in thought.
When she finally found the courage, Parker took the last few steps to reach his side, then stood there waiting for Jarod to acknowledge her presence.
Abruptly, the familiar fragrance assaulted him and the pretender stopped all movement; his body tensing instinctively.
Without looking in her direction, Jarod sighed tiredly and said, "Miss Parker; come to finish the job?"
"We need to talk." Parker replied back, ignoring his question.
"I thought that everything that needed to be said was said." Jarod replied quietly.
Angrily, Parker sat down opposite to Jarod, retrieved his letter from her jacket pocket and slammed it on the table. "NOT AFTER I READ THIS."
Jarod just stared at the letter on the table and after a few long minutes he finally met Parker's angry gaze. Exhaling loudly he said, "I'm tired of the game Parker."
"So you decided to go on a suicide mission to put an end to our cat and mouse game?" Parker asked infuriated.
"You don't understand Parker." Jarod murmured. "There is no other way."
"YOU THINK I'M GOING TO STAND BY AND LET YOU TURN YOURSELF IN TO THE TRIUMVIRATE TO SAVE ME?" Parker shouted obtaining a few sharp looks from the other clients in the small cafe. "STOP PLAYING THIS KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR WITH ME JAROD...I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF."
"Miss Parker please calm down." Jarod begged, glancing apologetically at the other patrons. "Please let me explain."
"TALK." Parker said dryly.
Jarod raked a hand through his hair nervously. He never expected for Parker to react in such a way. The woman truly confused him. First, she had tried to kill him back at Sydney's home and now she had come looking for him to stop him from carrying out the plan that would set her free. And on top of everything, she actually sounded concerned for him. He really needed to have a talk with Sydney about women when this was all over.
"Go on!" Parker urged annoyed.
Gazing at his huntress with deep sadness, Jarod began softly, "This was Angelo's idea."
"What?" Parker asked stunned.
Jarod smiled sadly and nodded before continuing.
"For a long time, Angelo had been gathering data about the Centre and the Triumvirate."
"What kind of data?" Parker asked sternly.
Jarod's dark chocolate eyes clashed with Parker's icy blue. The pretender paused for a moment studying the woman's face. Miss Parker had plastered on her ice queen mask and this made things more difficult. He still was not sure were her loyalties lie and if she finally trusted him, but one thing he was sure of, this revelation had shocked her and she wanted the truth.
Taking a deep breath, Jarod continued, "Vital information, from personal records, stocks, bank accounts, special projects and...termination orders." Jarod finished quietly.
"And Angelo sent you all this data." Parker added seriously.
"No, not all of it...At the beginning he only sent me the stocks and bank account information then a few days after his death..." Jarod paused, his voice suddenly thick with emotions. "I received a file in the mail with the termination orders."
With a sick feeling in her stomach, Parker replied, "And one of those orders was for me."
Unable to find his voice, Jarod simply nodded.
Staring numbly, Parker asked, "Angelo knew your address?"
"No, he sent it to a post office box I had in New York." Jarod replied simply.
They sat in silence for several long minutes until the chirping of Parker's phone broke the silence.
Angered by the interruption, Parker reached into her pocket and retrieved her cell phone; with her eyes still fixed on the pretender she answered, "WHAT?"
After listening to the person on the other side of the line for a few minutes, Parker raked her hand through her hair irritably and replied, "ALRIGHT, just call Sydney when you arrive." Saying that, she ended the call.
"Problems?" Jarod inquired.
"Isn't there always?" Parker replied sarcastically and then continued seriously, "So tell me Jarod, what were you planning to do with all that information Angelo sent you?"
"I started phase two of our attack on the Triumvirate." Jarod said simply.
"Our?" Parker said surprised.
"Angelo started his attack on the Triumvirate three months ago and when I heard about his...death." Jarod lowered his eyes in an effort to hide the raw emotions he was still battling over the loss of his friend. After a brief pause, Jarod continues, "I knew it was time to finish this." He finished; his eyes darkening with fury.
"Oh my God!...Do you think this plan got Angelo killed?" Parker asked shocked.
"I don't know." Jarod said sadly. "I should have tried to stop him."
"By getting yourself captured in the process? Parker replied sharply. "Half the time we didn't even know where Angelo was, much less what he was doing?"
Jarod smiled at her odd remark, but chose to remain quiet. This was one side of Parker he never expected to see; His relentless huntress showing concern for him and his ability to keep his freedom. After a long pause he continued tactfully, "Sydney told me that you had ordered an autopsy and that Angelo's death was due to natural causes."
"Yes, that's what they told us, but I still have my doubts...There is no such thing as natural causes at the Centre." Parker replied bitterly. "Maybe after this is over, we can find the truth."
"Yes, we owe it to Angelo." Jarod pledged.
"So tell me Jar, what's your plan?" Parker asked suddenly, obtaining a surprised look from the pretender at the sound of the nickname she had given him when they were children.
"The plan has been put into motion already." Jarod began. "Over the last three months I've been transferring funds from the Triumvirate bank accounts to accounts all over the world. Then on my last trip to Europe, I paid a visit to the stock market there and I used one of my old simulations to manipulate the market; Their loses are now in the billions according to the last time I checked." Jarod smiled proudly.
Parker stared incredulously as the pretender continued to explain Angelo's plan.
"And for the final blow, I infiltrated their headquarters in Africa a few days ago and installed a virus, created by Angelo, in their computer system. In forty-eight hours their main frame will be useless and if they don't comply with our demands all their guarded secrets will be exposed to the world. They will be at our mercy."
"But...but how did you penetrate their compound?" Parker asked astounds.
"Pretty simple, I was the one who designed their security system." Jarod said cockily. "Plus Angelo sent me the blue prints from the entire compound."
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, you're certifiable." Parker replied, shaking her head in disbelieve.
Once again silence ruled between them.
"That was a big risk you took Jarod. What if they had recognized you?" Parker asked softly breaking the silence.
"I'm very good with disguises Miss Parker. A while back I did a pretend as a stunt coordinator on a movie studio and I learned all the tricks of the trade. It was very interesting."
Parker just smiled at his explanation. Yes, he was a chameleon in so many ways. A genius who could become anyone he wanted to be and, at the same time, a master of disguises. No wonder her team had such a hard time catching the clever pretender during all the years of his pursuit.
"Ironic isn't it?" Jarod asked suddenly.
"What's ironic?" Parker asked confused.
"All this time, the Triumvirate never realized that while they were creating me, they were planting the seed of their own destruction." Jarod replied seriously.
Slowly, Jarod took a long sip from his now almost cold coffee and looked at his watch.
"Jarod, you know that I cannot let you..." Parker began but was abruptly interrupted by the appearance of a very cheerful waitress. The pretty blonde waitress placed her hand on the pretender's shoulder flirtingly and completely ignoring the woman sitting across from him replied, "Honey, would you like more coffee?"
"No, thank you. I have to leave in a few minutes. Jarod answered with a smile. "Can I have my bill please?"
"Jarod, that's your name right? The waitress continued ignoring his request.
Jarod simply nodded a little concerned when he noticed Parker's eyes suddenly darkened with anger. This was the first time he regretted making friendly talk and giving his name to the sweet waitress that had served him enthusiastically since he walked into the small cafe.
"You told me that you were leaving on the 8:00 o'clock flight for England right?" The blond waitress went on. "Well honey; all the flights leaving from New York have been cancelled due to this freakish hurricane-like weather we're having."
"But I have to be in England by tomorrow." Jarod whispered, his voice laced with disappointment.
"Sorry honey, but it looks like you're spending the night here with us." The waitress replied with sympathy then after a moment of hesitation she continued. "I get off work at 8:00 tonight...if you like...we could get something to eat while you wait for this bad weather to pass."
"Uh...that's very nice of you...uh..." Jarod began and stopped momentarily, unable to recall her name.
"Cindy; please don't tell me that you forgot my name...You're breaking my heart here." The waitress continued flirting giving Jarod a slight push.
"Oh no, is just that...I...Uh." Jarod stammered, suddenly at a lost for words.
Extremely annoyed with the coquettish waitress, Parker rolled her eyes. Unable to stand the situation any longer, Parker plastered on her most charming persona, looked directly into Jarod's eyes and replied in a very seductive voice, "I'm sorry sweetie, but Jarod and I already have plans for the evening." To finish her performance, Parker reached across the table and grabbed Jarod's hands, obtaining a bewildered look from the pretender. "Jarod and I have a lot of catching up to do. Isn't that right Honey?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't know that you were together...I mean a couple." The waitress replied embarrassed. "Coffee is on me and I hope you can catch another flight real soon. Have a good trip." Blushing and disappointed the waitress turned and scurried away in the direction of the kitchen.
"Thank you for rescuing me Miss Parker, but I think that was not necessary. She was just trying to be hospitable." Jarod said quietly looking down at their hands still together.
"Yes, and I'm Mr. Rogers." Parker replied sarcastically as she slowly pulled her hands away from Jarod, crossed her arms and mumbled under her breath, "Miss Barbie, USA was about to show you how neighborly she could be."
Trying to hide his amusement, Jarod looked down, but his lips twitched into a mischievous smile.
"What's so funny?" Parker asked annoyed.
"If I didn't know you better, I would say that you were jealous Miss Parker."
"ME JEALOUS?" Parker released a sarcastic laugh. "Jarod, I think that bump on your head is making you delusional."
"Yes, that must be it." Jarod replied with a sad smile.
After a few long minutes, Parker leaned on the table and asked suddenly, "Jarod...Where did you find the scrolls?"
"They washed up in a deserted beach in Morocco" Jarod said matter-of-factly.
"But how did you obtain them?" Parker insisted.
"That's not important now."
"Do you know if they ever found my fa...Mr. Parker's body? Parker asked eagerly, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to fall.
Exhaling a slow breath, Jarod looked at her and began, "I'm sorry Miss Parker, but I found no police record in Morocco or in the Triumvirate headquarters indicating that they ever recovered his body." It broke his heart not being able to give her some kind of closure to help her deal with her grief.
Before she faced the pretender again, Parker discreetly wiped away an errant tear that had slipped down her cheek.
"So after we crashed in Morocco you went back to search for Mr. Parker and the scrolls?" Parker murmured astonished.
"And my mother, but she was gone." Jarod added, meeting Parker's gaze with deep sadness.
"I'm sorry that you missed your mother again." Parker voice softened as flashbacks from their encounter on that damn island invaded her thoughts. She painfully remembered how she accidentally had stood in his way and prevented the reunion with his mother. To this date, she could not erase from her mind the look of anger and despair she had seen on Jarod's face.
"Thanks." Jarod replied meekly; casting his eyes down in an effort to hide the tears that clouded his vision.
"Sydney told me that your father had contacted you regarding her whereabouts." Parker said softly.
"Yes, I was planning to meet with him in England, but once again destiny is against me." His voice cracked on the last words.
Without thinking, Parker reached out and gently grasped one of his hands and held it between her own. When their eyes met all she saw was pain and sadness in his gaze. Taking a deep breath, she said reassuringly. "Don't worry Jarod, you will see her again. I know this."
"How can you be so sure? Jarod asked quietly; a dispirited expression on his face.
"You once told me to trust my inner sense, remember? Parker replied, a faint smile curling her lips. "Trust me."
Jarod just stared numbly, suddenly feeling as if his heart was going to jump out of his chest, but this was just too weird and confusing. Here she was, his relentless huntress, AKA the Ice Queen, holding his hand and trying to offer him solace instead of pointing a gun to his heart, like she had done a few hours earlier. A mixture of feelings and questions flooded his mind. Why was she acting this way? Was she trying to help him? Maybe her nervous breakdown and rush with death had changed her. Perhaps, she had learned to listen to her inner sense like her mother? On the other hand, this could be just a trick to gain his trust and drag him back to the Centre. Or was she finally ready to take that turning point? He was just too tired to think straight, much less try to simulate what could happen if he placed his trust in the woman that had hunted him like an animal for the past six years.
"Are you alright Jarod?" Parker's soft voice pulled him out of his thoughts.
"Yes, I'm fine." Jarod replied pulling his hand back. Leaning back on his seat, Jarod closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "Just a little tired."
So engulfed in trying to find out what Jarod was up to, she had completely disregarded the deep dark circles under the pretender's eyes and the small bandage on his forehead. Pointing to his forehead, Parker asked softly, "How's your head?"
Copying her action, Jarod touch the bandage and replied with a small smile, "I think I'll live."
After a long pause, Jarod's voice broke the silence, "Miss Parker, I'm sorry for lying to you...and pretending to be that doctor...I had no right to do that, but I was scared that you might..."
"Jarod, you saved my life." Parker interrupted her voice soft and laced with emotion, but then just as quick, her Ice Queen persona reappeared, "You're off the hook this time, but if you ever try that again, you're going to need more than a small bandage."
Jarod looked into her deep blue eyes and a small grin slowly appeared on his lips. No matter how hard Parker tried to hide her true emotions, he could see right through her mask. She had a kind soul and she cared; now he knew that he had not lost his friend.
"I'm not joking Jarod." Parker replied threateningly.
"No, I believe you; you were pretty convincing back at Sydney's home."
"Okay Jarod, putting all jokes aside, what are you planning to do next?" Parker asked sternly.
Jarod leaned forward on his seat, placed both arms on the table and began, "I will give the Triumvirate a couple of days to ponder on their new situation and the conditions I've given them, then I will walk into their headquarters and gather the signed documents I have demanded from them." Jarod explained calmly.
"THAT'S SUICIDE! Have you lost your mind?" Parker exclaimed; her eyes wide with shock.
"Not exactly; I have made it very clear that this time I'm in control and if they refuse my conditions they are doomed." Jarod's face darkened and his eyes narrowed.
"What if they decide to kill you on the spot?" Parker asked, her voice filled with fear.
"That's a chance I will have to take, but then the Triumvirate will have to deal with the chain of events that have been put into motion as we speak." Jarod replied with determination for he knew that, just like the Centre, the Triumvirate days were numbered.
"Jarod, I can't let you do this." Parker replied shaking her head.
"There is no other way...This is the only way to end this deadly game and to free you and my family." Jarod argued softly. "This is Angelo's plan and the plan both our mothers had since the Centre began their affiliation with the Triumvirate and got corrupted."
"BUT YOU'RE GOING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED IN THE PROCESS." Parker spat back, her anger returning.
"I have simmed all the outcomes and that's a possibility." Jarod replied calmly. "But I don't think they want me dead yet."
"YOU THINK? And you expect me to just sit here and let you walk into the Triumvirate headquarters and get yourself captured or killed." Parker growled.
"Yes." Jarod said simply staring into her fear-filled eyes. "You also have a part in this plan Miss Parker. Now it's up to you to carry out your mother's plan."
As Jarod's words flooded her mind, Parker could feel her stomach beginning to twist into knots and she looked at him in stunned silence. Against her true feelings, she had been trained to distrust, to hate and to capture her childhood friend. She had blindly hoped that by following the orders of the powers that be she would obtain her freedom from that hell, but it was all an illusion a lie. Now Jarod was willing to forget her betrayal and risk his own life to save her. It seemed that destiny or that damn Parker curse was about to throw them another sick and twisted turn to keep them apart, but she was not going to allow this to happen again. This time she was going to stand by his side and fight for their freedom. Her mother had died trying to save them. Angelo had also made the ultimate sacrifice to keep her and Jarod safe from the evils that controlled their lives. Now it was up to her to repay them for all their sacrifices and finally complete her mother's plan. Jarod was right; it was time to end the nightmare that had controlled their lives for too long.
Suddenly the chirping of her cell phone pulled her from her thoughts. Parker pulled the phone from her pocket and answered somewhat distracted, "Hello."
Jarod frowned at her change in demeanor.
After listening carefully to the person on the other side of the line, Parker replied softly, "Syd give me a little more time...You, Broots and Sam get something to eat, but don't leave yet. I'll call you back."
Restaurant across from the Cafe.
Sydney disconnected the call and faced the two bewildered and tired men in front of him.
"Well? What are we supposed to do now?" Sam asked eagerly.
"We sit and wait." Sydney replied plainly as he found a table outside the small restaurant, were they could still keep a close watch on the Cafe on the other side of the terminal.
"What about Jarod?" Sam asked annoyed.
"I suppose that Parker is still talking to him." Sydney answered seriously.
"Why can we drag his butt back to the Centre and then Miss Parker can interrogate him all day and night if she wants." Sam mumbled angrily.
"That's not for us to decide Sam." Sydney said dryly. "We have to be patient. Besides, now things are different. The Centre and all those involved are at a very vulnerable state and soon there's going to be many changes."
"What changes?" Sam asked intrigued.
"I don't know, but that's what Miss Parker is trying to find out. I fear that's the reason why Jarod is dealing with the Triumvirate...I just pray that he lives through this." Sydney finished quietly.
After a short pause Sam looked at Sydney inquisitively and asked, "I don't understand why Jarod would risk his life to help Miss Parker after she hunted the guy for over six years?
"That's a long story Sam." Sydney replied with a sad smile. "I'll tell it to you someday."
"I'm starving." Broots interrupted. "Sydney, can I order something to eat?"
"Yes Broots, go right ahead. I think we are going to be here a little while longer."
Not wanting to waste any time, Broots called a waiter and began to place his order. Just before the waiter left their table, Broots looked at the two men that were busy talking and replied, "Are you guys going to order anything?"
"No thank you Broots." Sydney said quietly, while Sam just shook his head negatively.
Back at the Cafe
After Parker disconnected the call, silence had ruled between them for a few long minutes until Jarod interrupted softly, "I'm sorry; I forgot to ask you if you would like some coffee or something to eat?"
"No thanks Jarod, I can't eat anything right now."
Slowly Jarod pulled some cash from his pocket and placed it on the table to cover for the coffee and the tip. Looking at his watch again, Jarod replied cautiously, "Miss Parker, I need to go check with the airline to see about getting another flight to England."
"Alright, but we are not done talking." Parker said standing from her seat.
Jarod followed silently, grabbing the backpack that was sitting next to him on the seat.
Frowning Parker asked, "Is that all your luggage?"
"I've learn to travel light." Jarod said simply.
Parker looked away as she suddenly felt a sense of guilt, for she knew that she like the other Centre operatives had forced Jarod into this fugitive life.
A few minutes later, Parker and Jarod walked out of the Cafe and headed toward one of the airline ticket counters.
When Sam saw the pretender and Miss Parker walking out of the small cafe, he jumped to his feet and whispered to the others, "Their on the move, let's go."
"What? I just started to eat my sandwich." Broots complained while trying to swallow a mouthful of his food.
Sam reached into his pocket and threw enough money on the table to cover for Broots' order. Before Broots had a chance to complain again, he grabbed the techie by the arm and pulled him out of his chair, "Let's go Broots!"
"This is ridicules." Broots grumbled. "Can't a man eat his food in peace anymore?"
"Sam, Miss Parker wanted us to wait here." Sydney complained.
"I don't care, I'm responsible for Miss Parker's safety and I'm not going to leave her alone with that lunatic." Sam said adamantly and continued to push Broots.
Sydney sighted tiredly and proceeded to follow the two men as they began to pursue Jarod and Miss Parker amongst the crowds in the terminal.
When they reached the airline counter, Miss Parker waited a few feet away as Jarod spoke to the ticket agent.
A few minutes later, Jarod approached Parker and said disappointed, "All flights have been cancelled."
"Then we'll have to wait until tomorrow to take another flight." Parker replied softly.
With a quizzical look, Jarod replied, "We?"
"I told you that I can't let you do this alone." Her voice softened with concern.
"But Miss Parker..." Jarod began, but was interrupted when Parker raised a hand to stop him.
"Jarod, you once told me that we were two pieces of the same puzzle, remember?...Well, the only way we can win against the Triumvirate is if we unite, plus I'm not going to accept any excuses from you." Parker replied staring hard and unyielding.
Slowly Jarod walked to one of the huge glass windows, placed his backpack on the floor and stood there staring at the darkness outside.
When Parker approached him, Jarod spoke, concern filling his voice, "But what if something happens to you?"
"I trust you Jarod. This time I'm listening to my inner sense and we are going to complete my mother's plan." Parker spoke softly, no longer bothering to suppress her tears.
Jarod reached out and wipes away the tears that had made trails down her cheek. Instinctively, Parker reached out and grabbing his hand in hers she whispered, "Jarod, I read the scrolls. They said that we will fight this evil and win. Jarod you are the chosen one and together we'll destroy all this evil and raise the new Centre like our mothers wanted.
"NO, I WILL NEVER SET FOOT IN THAT PLACE AGAIN!" Jarod replies, the muscles of his jaw tightening with anger.
"I would never make you, I promise." Parker replied smiling through her tears. "After all the secrets have been revealed, the old Centre will be demolished and buried and then we will start a new Centre away from this place."
After a long pause, Jarod looked into her eyes and begged, "Please understand, I cannot risk your life. You have to stay here to carry out your mother's plan in case something goes wrong."
"NO JAROD, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!" Parker shouted back, but her animosity and anger was gone. "I need to do this for my mother, for Angelo, for me, for us. Besides, I also have a plan of my own." Parker said with determination as a conspirator smile curled her lips. Before he was able to protest, Parker pulled her cell phone from her pocket, pressed the speed dial and waited for an answer.
Jarod just stood there stunned by her words. Her Ice Queen persona was melting away and in her eyes he only saw the same compassion and courage that shone in her mother's eyes. The little girl that had stolen his heart and gave him his first kiss was back.
"Syd let me talk to Sam." Parker demanded.
"Sam listen carefully, go to our office here in New York and get three of the best sweepers you know and trust then take the first flight you can get to Morocco. When you arrive call me, and Jarod will explain the rest of the plan to you."
Parker stopped momentarily to listen to Sam's questions.
"Tell Broots to please stay with Sydney until this is over. I going to need his help when we return...No, Jarod is with me. We are hoping to take another flight to England tomorrow."
After listening again, Parker replied calmly, "No Sam, I'm alright, don't worry. I'll see you soon." Saying that Parker disconnected the call.
When Jarod finally found his voice, he asked softly, "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I'm also tired of the game Jarod; I want to wipe the slate clean and start anew as friends...And because we both deserve something more." Parker whispered, unable to raise her voice any louder. "Jarod, this time I'm changing the story, but the ending is not up to me alone. I need you." Parker choked on her words.
Finally, Jarod met her eyes and smiled sadly, his eyes shimmering with unshed tears.
"I often wondered what would have happened that stormy night back at the Island if Ocee had not walked in on us." Parker said softly.
Once again, Jarod was speechless, every muscle in his body paralyzed, but his heart raced out of control inside his chest.
Parker caressed his stubble covered cheek for a moment, and then her face began to move slowly towards his until their lips met in a tender but passionate kiss. It was like deja' vu, recreating the moment that was stolen from them a few months earlier.
When they pulled apart, tears were streaming down her face. Parker looked into his eyes and whispered, "Welcome home Jarod."
Gently Jarod wiped away the tears from her face and pulled her into a hug. He whispered into her ear the secret name she had shared with him almost thirty years earlier and then he added, "I've missed you."
"Me too." Was her simple reply.
When they finally released each other, Parker tucked her hand into Jarod's elbow and replied laughing, "We better find a place to stay tonight and get some rest and tomorrow we start our new legacy."
"Yes Ma' am!" Jarod replied smiling and reached for his backpack.
"Like I told your friendly waitress, we have a lot of catching up to do Honey." Parker said with a soft chuckle as they began walking towards the terminal exit; their laughter echoing in the air.
A short distance away, Broots and Sam stood staring at the departing couple in utter disbelieve and shock, but Sydney's face displayed a content smile. He knew that his feelings about these two special people had been right all along. Since they were children, Jarod and Parker had formed a bond that had survived years of betrayal, lies and pain and no matter how hard others had tried to destroy that friendship, they had obviously failed. Even though, the evil that had ruled the Centre was gone, they still had dangerous challenges ahead, but Sydney was confident that together with their special gifts and kind souls they would conquer anything. He and Catherine always known that one day Jarod and Miss Parker would find each other again and change their destiny. Life had come full circle.
"Sydney what's going on?" Broots whispered, bringing Sydney out of his reverie.
"Destiny, my dear friend." Sydney replied candidly; a soft smile curling his lips.
After a short pause, Sydney looked from one face to the other and replied, "Gentlemen, we better get on our way, Broots and I have a long drive and Sam you have work to do."
When the three men began walking towards the garage, Sam turned to Sydney and demanded seriously, "Doctor, I think is time for you to tell us that long story, because I'm confused as hell."
"Well, let me see." Sydney began, immediately obtaining both men undivided attention. "As I remember, this story began in a Sim Lab back on October 7th, 1969. That was the very first time that Jarod met Miss Parker...We were working on a simulation about human sexuality and the moment they saw each other, I sensed that a very special friendship was born. From that day, Jarod and Miss Parker were inseparable. I remember when..."