THE HUMAN CONDITION
"We cannot command our love, but we can our actions." Sir Arthur Doyle
The airplane rolls to a stop on the tarmac, the heat from the sun above and the tarmac below could already be felt penetrating the inside, and to better able to observe anyone approaching and to allow some air into the plane the pilot opens the hatch. Both he and his prisoner move to the open airway, as a third passenger a young teen sits in the front passenger seat intently observing the other two, he listens to the terse conversation, the tone of controlled anger from one and that of condescension easily rolling from the tongue of the other older man.
"Got to hand it to you capturing the king- inspired. Walking into the Centre to cut your deal – real bold."
"Not bold, prudent, necessity…. You people only understand one thing –Power." Jarod's voice told of the revulsion he always felt around Mr. Parker, the unease and distrust that would never go away. If the old man's actions affected only Jarod himself, those feelings would have remained, but over the years he saw first hand the damage he had done to his own daughter, that revulsion had become more intense mingled with pure unadulterated disgust.
" Whatever it was, it was brilliant. No wonder my people have such a hard time catching up to you." The older man's tone changed, as though he no longer was speaking to the man he had just declared to be brilliant, but the tone indicated he was speaking to someone that could easily be convinced to do another's will by flattery alone, "That's why we want you back- because you're brilliant."
Jarod scuffed at the thought, "I'm not going back, and neither is he." He glanced up to the front passenger seat.
Jarod allowed the conversation to continue on further, he was hoping to get some satisfaction from learning why the older man could think the horrific things he did would ever be justified. Finally, Mr. Parker summed it up, "Survival, given enough incentive man is capable of almost anything."
At that point the sleek dark car carrying his Major Charles and Sydney pulled up to the parked twin-engine plane.
Jarod wasted no time in getting down the steps and greeting his father, and then turning to Sydney he thanked him. Major Charles had taken the keys to unshackle the handcuffs on Mr. Parker as per the agreement. When the loud gunning of another car engine pulling on to the tarmac had caused everyone to stop in alarm. The attention of all those at the plane watched as the lithe figure of Miss Parker in a long white coat and matching pants flew out of the car almost before it had come to a complete stop, her hands up in the air in a gesture of nonconfrontation.
"I told you Sydney comes alone!" Jarod knew there was a good chance she would not listen, she rarely did, Miss Parker followed her own instincts more than anyone he ever knew- Regardless of the consequence.
"Jarod, I had no choice, they're planning on killing my father."
The panic in her voice was enough to convince him, even though he had no idea what she was talking about, "Who?"
At that moment the sound of an approaching helicopter Miss Parker began running to the stairs going up to the plane as her father was descending them, "Daddy get back". She was nearly to him when the shot fired sent her last foot or so into his arms.
Jarod ran to her, his chest constricting at the immediate sight of blood on her back from the wound. He carefully meant to lift her from her father's arms when he noticed Mr. Parker would not relinquish his hold on her while attempting to have them go down the stairs on to the tarmac.
All the while gunshots continued to rain down around them from the hovering helicopter. A quick glance down at the rest of her loving family was all it took for Jarod to make his decision.
In a low urgent whisper Jarod quickly pleaded his case, "If you love her, let me take care of her. I'm brilliant remember! Look down at those vultures you call family. Do you believe for one moment she will be cared for by them? I don't, and I'm the one that is brilliant. You just proved your own words, this must be that incentive the Centre needed,"
The old man glanced down at Brigitte, Sydney and Broots, he then noticed for the first time that Lyle and several sweepers had now joined the group. Broots was the only one making his way to the stairs, the only one with a pained expression of concern.
The old man knew the truth of the matter, and yet how could he explain allowing Jarod to escape again, and with his daughter in tow this time. Jarod took a firmer more controlling hold on Miss Parker's body, leaving her father only a handful of coat to hold on to, Jarod reading the hesitation in Mr. Parker's actions quickly swung sharply to his right giving Mr. Parker one last chance to let his daughter have a chance at living through this. The old man stumbled down the stairs effectively blocking the way up as Jarod entered the already running plane.
Major Charles looked at his son, nodded and began pulling on to the runway. The young passenger ran to the doorway pushed the stairs away and secured the hatch, then followed Jarod's instructions in caring for their injured patient.
The two worked quickly over the patient stemming the flow of blood and checking the extent of the wound. Jarod explained everything as he worked to his young replica. The Major looked back into the plane after they had put some space between the Centre operatives and themselves. "Jarod, I hope you know what you just got yourself into?"
Both Jarod and his clone answered together, Jarod smiled; perhaps they did have a common ground with which to begin a relationship.
"How badly do you think she is injured? I don't see any sign of an exit wound."
"The bullet is embedded in the muscle, it looks as thought it may have nicked the shoulder blade, which slowed its momentum into the body." Jarod glanced quickly up at the younger mirror image of himself, seeing reflected there the many questions in his own eyes regarding their relationship, but Miss Parker required all the attention he could focus on her now.
Jarod carefully cut the clothes from Parker's back, pulling a blanket around her to cover all but the wounded area of flesh. Parker's thinness allowed him to trace the path the bullet had taken across the shoulder and make a quick diagnosis. He found her undergarment among the shredded clothing, it too had been cut off and was thoroughly stained with blood, for some reason he found himself glancing to see if Gemini had noticed, when it appeared he had not Jarod stuffed the small delicate piece of material into his pocket to dispose of later. It wasn't as though the young man wouldn't understand the undergarment but Jarod didn't think Parker would appreciate her personal items examined by strangers. Somehow it never dawned on him that she might not appreciate him having it in his possession.
"Dad, we need to set down soon, I can't risk attempting to remove the bullet while we are in motion and take the chance of hitting some turbulence at the wrong time. She'd kill me if I left much scarring, fortunately for us she is all bark and just a little bite, I have removed the teeth." He held up the holstered Smith and Wesson.
The Major turned to look back noting his son's edge of humor, the older weather worn face held a grimaced look it was as close to a smile as he could muster at the moment. He returned forward looking out at the blue sky; in his mind's eye he was still seeing all the blood and yet wondering about the relationship between the two that would allow for that black humor and the risky move his son had taken while all this time caring tenderly for the woman who had hunted him. He had no doubt that there was a world of unknowns that lay beneath even that questionable surface.
Major Charles used the aircraft's radio then turned back to look again at the quick and yet tender movements the two men were taking to save the life of the woman lying unconscious. "Jarod, I am going to land to refuel in 20 minutes. We'll be back in the air in another 2 hours. I'll be checking in with an old friend, I believe I know a place we will all be safe for as long as we need to be. It will take another two hours… give or take... of airtime. Can you stabilize and make her comfortable until then? You need to give me a list of needed supplies so they will be ready for us when we land to refuel."
He watched a genuine smile of gratitude on Jarod's face materialize, "Thanks dad. Any clue as to where we are going?"
Major Charles couldn't help the return smile, "Son this will be my gift to you, I think this is what we need, a bit of isolation and lots of time for Miss Parker to recuperate and plenty of time for all of us to get some r and r and spend time getting reacquainted. I think you will all enjoy it." He looked down at the figure spread out on the floor. "How is she doing?"
"The longer as we can keep her unconscious the better, I don't think the bullet will move if we continue to keep her immobile. She's going to be in a good deal of pain until we get that shoulder and back area taken care of, even then it's going to take some time for her to regain full mobility after it has healed."
He bundled some gauze and covered the wound as Gemini handed him what was left of Miss Parker's shirt to be made into a sling to keep the arm close to the body and the shoulder blade from moving. He carefully wrapped it across her back under the right arm and back around the left arm holding it steady allowing little movement on the left side of her upper body. He cut the other blanket into long pieces and rewrapped over the original wrapping, to strengthen the sling and with the added width the blanket would cover her torso a bit more modestly. Jarod attempted to do all this while giving Gemini the job of holding her so as to shield her front from the boy's eyes. It surprised him to think of himself as being so proprietary toward her in that way; he quickly shelved that thought for another time when he could give it much more focus.
"Son, we are landing in five minutes, do what you can to make it easy on her."
Jarod carefully lifted Miss Parker up off the floor of the plane and cradled her on her right side trying to absorb the impact of the jolt when the wheels touched the ground. She cried out once, in her semi- conscious state.
He whispered gently, "I know just hold on a little longer and we'll get you taken care of." He watched closely to see if she would need anything immediately or if he could wait until they could work on the wound more completely. He didn't want to give her too much of the pain medicine if they were going to anesthetize her soon. The plane soon rolled to a stop.
"How is everyone back there?" The major started back as soon as he had the instruments off, he quickly took in the sight of both sons bracing the wounded woman.
"I think we managed to keep her as immobile as possible, didn't we kid?" Gemini smiled back and nodded at this man he was coming to think of as family.