Author's notes: Despite the cutesy, happy ending this is not the end of the story. Things will get a bit harder and everyone—especially Lyle—will have problems adapting to new lives. And there are some new secrets waiting to be uncovered as House wonders why there's no record of Dr. Jarod Laurence.
And, yes, I know I'm messing with the timeline but it just fits better with what I think I'm doing.
Enjoy and review!
Ch. 3 Happily Ever After?
When Broots finally got home late that night, Debbie came up to him and wrapped her arms around him, as if sensing what had happened. "I love you, Daddy."
Broots knelt down and hugged her back, trying to forget what he'd seen. "I love you too, honey. I love you, too."
"You've been crying," Debbie said, looking at her father's face.
"Debbie… something really bad happened today," Broots started as he tried to think of the best way to say it. For some reason after Miss Parker had baby-sat Debbie, the two had quickly become fast friends. "It's about Miss Parker." Then Broots noticed the strangest thing. Debbie had pulled away and was now smiling as though she knew some secret. "Honey?"
Debbie got up and went to her room, coming back with an opened envelope. "She dropped it off this morning."
Confused, Broots stood and looked at the letter written in Miss Parker's handwriting.
I know this will be hard for you to understand, but I have to go away for a long while. I don't know when or if I will be back, but I will always remember our times together.
You're my one real friend and a special young lady. Take care of your daddy for me.
Before Broots could ask his daughter about the note, there was a knock at the door. Debbie opened it to find Sydney standing there, a letter clutched in his hand along with—"Lyle!" Broots exclaimed, shocked
"May we come in, Broots?" Sydney asked, patiently.
"Yeah, sure," Broots said, pocketing Miss Parker's note.
"I, uh… I came to make sure you guys knew what was going on," Lyle said, nervously. "By the way, Broots, when did you last check your home for bugs?"
"Last week," Broots replied. "And I have scramblers set up just in case. Why?"
"Sit down, Broots," Sydney said, calmly.
Broots, Sydney, and Lyle all sat down, Debbie going into the kitchen where she would be out of the way of the adults. "What's going on?" Broots asked, starting to wonder.
"Miss Parker is not dead, dismembered, or anything," Lyle said, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket. "She faked it. Sent me a note the day after Thomas almost got killed. Seems she wanted something so heinous that no one would ever question if she was alive or not."
"You… you helped her?" Broots asked, confused. "Why wouldn't she tell me or Sydney?"
"Because in all likelihood, the two of you would be the ones at her house that day," Lyle explained. "She kept you out of the loop so her plan would go like clockwork. Nice touch with the vomit, by the way, Broots."
"Miss Parker had already gone when the house blew," Broots sighed, relieved.
"There's more, I'm afraid," Lyle went on. "She rigged some computer files to be sent to the FBI after she left. Files on the Centre. We're being shut down."
"It seems Miss Parker wanted to make sure that no one would come after her," Sydney concluded. "Unfortunately, this all means that we will have to be accountable for our actions."
"We won't," Lyle threw in. "Sis made sure to make it look like the three of us and Dad weren't directly implicated. As long as we cooperate we'll be off scot-free."
The next morning, Jarod awoke to someone pounding on his front door. Getting up he headed slowly to the door in case it was a Sweeper team. But to Jarod's surprise and delight, it was a curly, red-haired woman wearing a sleeveless lavender dress and calf-height boots. "Zoe!" Jarod shouted, happily. He stepped aside to let her in, but she hesitated. "What is it?"
"I didn't come alone, Jarod," Zoe said, grinning from ear to ear as she motioned to someone down the hall from Jarod's apartment.
After a few seconds, Jarod got another surprise. "Dad!"
The two men hugged while Zoe waited. "Hello, son," Major Charles said, smiling. "I was coming to see you and I met up with your lovely lady here. We thought we'd surprise you."
"Well, you did," Jarod said, as he let his father and his girlfriend inside. "This is wonderful."
"So is this," Charles said, handing over the morning newspaper. The headline read: 'Delaware Organization Seized by FBI'.
Jarod took the paper slowly, scarcely daring to believe his eyes. "The Centre…"
"Shut down," Charles said, grinning. "In a surprise raid, they seized all the files and data disks. And amazingly, it was helped out by Miss Parker and Lyle."
"Lyle?" Jarod repeated, doubtfully. Why the hell would Lyle help bring down the Centre? Still, what did it matter now? "Um… Dad, could you give Zoe and me an hour to catch up?"
Charles grinned as he let himself out. Zoe looked curious as Jarod quickly got dressed. "What's going on?"
"Let's say I've got a few things to share with you," Jarod replied as he led Zoe outside and to his convertible. They got in and drove off as Jarod slid a CD into the car's stereo. The sounds of string guitar started filling the air as Keith Urban started playing. It didn't take Zoe long to realize why Jarod wanted to play this particular song at the moment.
'The sun is shinin'
And this road keeps windin'
Through the prettiest country
From Georgia to Tennessee
'And I got the one I love beside me
My troubles behind me
I'm alive and I'm free
Who wouldn't want to be me?'
"You have learned a few things, haven't you?" Zoe asked, tapping her feet to the rhythm. "I have missed you so much, Jarod."
"I've missed you, too," Jarod replied, feeling the sun on his face and the wind through his hair. This was what it felt like to be totally, completely free. It was a wonderful feeling… and the best part was that all that had just happened was only the beginning of a wonderful future for everyone.
A dozen doughnuts and fresh coffee greeted Drs. Eric Foreman, Robert Chase, and Allison Cameron when they entered the Diagnostics office that morning. Cameron went to the coffee pot and took a casual sniff. It wasn't the usual pre-ground and packaged coffee, either. This was fresh ground, premium stuff. "Wow. What did we do that House is treating us so well this morning?" Cameron wondered out loud as she poured coffee for all three of them.
"No idea," Foreman said, taking a maple glazed doughnut. "But I like it."
"House didn't bring the doughnuts and coffee," Jarod said as he entered the office. "I did."
Cameron looked surprised, but took a doughnut. "Thanks. What's the occasion?"
"My dad and girlfriend are visiting from out of state," Jarod replied. "I'm in a good mood so I thought I'd do something for you."
"Sucking up will get you nowhere," House said as he entered the room and headed to the coffee pot.
Jarod grinned as he said, "Shame. And I even went through the trouble of getting a lemon custard filled doughnut with chocolate icing just for you."
House stopped in his tracks and turned to look at Jarod. "Really? Well, it would be a shame to let that go to waste," he replied, filling up his mug and going to the doughnut box to grab his prize. "Sadly, you four will have to entertain yourselves for a while until after I finish clinic duty."
"I'm sure we can think of something," Jarod said, smirking.
"Tommy, I swear it's nothing," Miss Parker protested as she limped into the hospital, her arm around Thomas's shoulder who had his arm around her waist.
"Par—Ellie… that was a pretty bad spill you took down the stairs. I just want to make sure you're okay," Thomas protested as he helped her sit down in the hospital's clinic.
"Okay, who's next?" Dr. House said as he came out of an exam room. Looking at Parker and Thomas, House pointed his cane. "You two… follow me."
Thomas helped Parker up and they followed the doctor into a free room where Thomas picked up his girlfriend and laid her down on the table. "She fell and hurt her ankle. I wanted to make sure it was nothing serious," Thomas explained.
House sat on a nearby stool and slid over to the injured woman. He slid her sock off and gently probed the right ankle.
"Ow!" Parker cried out as her ankle flexed. "Watch it!"
"Congratulations," House said, rolling back. "I'll have to get an x-ray to be sure but I'd say you're now the proud owner of a broken ankle. I'll send a nurse to take you to radiology." Standing up, House left the room and bumped into Jarod who was picking up his latest file. "Laurence… exam room 3. Woman needs an ankle film."
Jarod sighed as he retrieved a wheelchair and headed to the exam room. "Sorry," he said, backing into the room and turning around.
"Jarod?" Parker said, dumbfounded. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm a doctor here," Jarod explained as Thomas helped Parker into the wheelchair and Jarod put the right foot rest up. "It's good to see you again, Miss Parker."
"Look," Parker said as her ankle started throbbing again. "We can talk after I get something for this ankle."
"Okay," Jarod said as he took her upstairs to the radiology department.
An hour later, it was confirmed that Miss Parker's ankle was indeed broken. Jarod admitted her for the night under the name Ellie Thomas and headed back to Diagnostics where he found an even better surprise waiting for him. His mother (Margaret), father (Major Charles), sister (Emily), and 'twin' (technically clone) (Jason) were waiting around the table with Zoe standing to the side holding a cake that said 'Welcome Home, Jarod'. "I don't believe it," Jarod said, amazed.
"Believe it," Zoe said after setting the cake down and giving Jarod a long kiss. "Looks like we both get our fairy tale endings."
"Mmmm… Looks like…" Jarod replied as he wrapped his arms around her, kissing her neck.
"Jarod!" Margaret admonished her oldest son. "There is impressionable youth present!"
"Can't live without them, right?" Zoe said, wiggling out of Jarod's grasp. "Besides," she whispered, a note of seduction in her voice. "We can continue this later."
A/N: Of course this isn't the end! But I wanted to make a 'happy ever after' set up for the rest of the 'fairy tale'.