Jarod strolled through his apartment door and dropped the previous days ungraded papers on to his coffee table. He had never realized how hard living in one place for an extended period of time could be. He now had bills to pay, a mailing address, a phone number. And on top of everything else, he had neighbors, actual neighbors. This was all so new to him. He felt as though he had moved to Mars over the weekend.

As he walked into his small office and placed the papers on his desk, he heard a sound that years of being on the run had trained his ears to recognize.

The sound of a gun cocking.

"Gotcha." Said a voice from the shadows, "I win." The voice was punctuated by a mad cackle, obviously the voice's owner had snapped. Of course Jarod didn't need to speculate as to who the voice belonged to. "Parker? How in the hell did you-"

"Quiet. I want to drink this in for a moment. You. Helpless. This is just too perfect."

She stepped from the shadows and Jarod felt his breath catch in his throat. Her eyes were bloodshot and sunken low into her head. Her clothes had that rumpled slept in look and her hair had gone unbrushed, she looked wild and untamed. Her skin was a nasty shade of pale making her appear ghost like and frightening.

"Ms. Parker you look terrible." There was that mad cackle again. Jarod could have sworn that he saw her grinding her teeth in-between laughs, a sign of narcotic use. "Are you on speed?"

It was the genuine human concern in his voice that set her off into a fit of rage. "Shut your god damned mouth!" She screamed, her arm shot up to point her gun in his face. The firearm seemed to silently bark and snarl at him in the darkness like a leashed attack dog. He could tell that she really wanted to shoot him.

"You little son of a bitch." Parker was no longer screaming but her voice still had that deadly energy to it, "You thought you could get away? That the game was over? It isn't over until I say its over."

Jarod only felt annoyance when he heard that sentence. She still thought his life was a game, in which it didn't matter if he lived or died. "We weren't playing anything."

This time the laugh was followed by a crazy smile, like the kind seen on a violent mental patient "Bullshit." She whispered, leaning forward, "You are Centre property and it is my job to catch you."

Jarod felt his annoyance slowly boiling into rage but he managed to keep it contained for the moment, "So that's all I am to you? After all the help I've given you? I'm nothing but Centre property they sent you to fetch?"

"You can't confuse me anymore, Jarod." She chuckled darkly, "Everything is clear now."

For a moment, fear was all Jarod could feel. Parker had finally lost her marbles. She was going to kill him and maybe have his skin made into a pair of boots. "You don't have to do this."

"I do what I please, I'm a Parker."

"But you're not a killer." Ms. Parker felt her resolve falter when she heard the unselfishness in his voice. She was pointing a gun at him and all Jarod cared about was what this would do to her. He was being nice to her after all that had happened between them. "Please." She heard him say quietly, "Give me the gun."

Her resolve may have faltered but her rage had not. Parker kept the gun on its target but she felt that some of her previous zeal had left her. Not that she let him see that.

"You sanctimonious ass! Who gave the right to say what I am and I am not?" Her hands began to shake but they still held firm on the handle of the gun, "I've gotten really sick and tired of your little obsession with me."

The anger Jarod had felt earlier returned a thousand fold. "My obsession? Who the hell has been chasing ME? I've done nothing to you!"

"Oh really?" Her voice sounded more like the roar of an angry storm. She was screaming at the top of her lungs with rage, "Who calls me at midnight to taut me with information about my mother? Who decided to choose men for me to date? And who gave me a god damn ulcer?"

"First of all," He started to shoot back, "I was giving you information about your mother as I came a cross it. Secondly, you gave yourself an ulcer with all that drinking and smoking you do. The fact that you blame me for it is yet another example of your friggin obsession with me!"

"And Thomas? Justify him."

"I wanted you to be happy, you frigid ice bitch!"

Parker gritted her teeth and tightened her hold on the gun, re-aiming it at his chest instead of his head. "Oh so now we're resorting to name calling. What's the matter genius, run out of flowery words?"

"No Parker, I'm just wishing I had decided to disappear earlier," He added sarcastically, "Because I'm seeing such a lovely side of you."

"Go to hell!"

"I already am." He wanted to still be angry at her but he didn't realize how sad his next words sounded, "Its hell having a person I used to think was my friend betray me."

The fire in her eyes seemed to fade a little and Jarod could feel her begin to waiver a little more.

"That was a long time ago." She muttered, "I was different then."

"Only on the outside."

"On all sides." She whispered, "That's why I have to kill you Jarod. Because if I don't, I'll always be reminded of what I used to be." The gun in Parker's hand faltered again as she found herself pulled back into the world of memory. When her trip was complete, she refocused her eyes into Jarod's. "I'll be reminded of how many years I've been chasing you."

"It hasn't been that long." He said, realizing he'd never had this much eye contact with her before.

She laughed and Jarod was relieved to hear it had returned to the soft melody and not the harsh cackle. "You may have been running from me for four years but I've been chasing you my entire life." She her body shook with a deep sigh, "I remember that time we kissed in the Sim Lab. How my body felt older and stronger afterwards. You made me a woman with one kiss Jarod." She said quietly, "No ones ever kissed me like that since then. Not even Tommy. Do you know what kind of boys I dated when I was younger? They weren't football players or rich boys; they were honor students and chess players. I dated geniuses, Jarod. You and your fucking kisses from god made me chase after you." The gun hand shook again, "But when I became Head of Security at the Centre, I purged myself of my feelings. I fell out of love with you Jarod. You have to believe me when I say that."

He nodded slightly, not answering.

"I don't love you."

"I know."

"Sydney said that I was chasing you because you were the only man who I ever really cared about." She felt the last of her anger and drug induced numbness get replaced by pain, "I slapped him when he said that because deep down I knew he was right."

"Ms. Parker I…"

"Do you remember…" She interrupted him as though he had never spoken at all, "…When we were sixteen and I asked you if you wanted a girlfriend?"

Jarod nodded absently, "I said that you already were my girlfriend."

Parker laughed softly at his words, "I was really angry when I realized that what you meant was that I was your friend and that I happened to be a girl." She kept laughing sadly, "You were always playing with my heart like that."

"I wasn't. I just didn't understand the concept of romance."

"You were a little boy in a man's body." He nodded in response, smiling a little. "Do you understand it now?"

Jarod paused. He knew that his next answer had to be phrased very carefully. After failing to come up with an appropriate response he just decided to go with the direct approach. "Give me the gun and we'll talk." He was expecting her to snap at him angrily but instead her eyes began to fill with tears

"Parker, please don't cry." Jarod said as he watched her gun arm began to waiver and shake, until it finally dropped completely, "You don't want me to see you falling apart like this."

"I don't care anymore," Parker sobbed as the gun clattered to the floor, "I'm so tired." The hot tears streaming down her face made it impossible for her too see anything but her pain. It was like she was all alone in the world, that no one cared anymore. She had wasted her life. She knew that now. Parker had let some of the most despicable people in the world use her like a weapon and in the process, turned her against the man she had pined for. After a lifetime of serving in hell, there was nothing left to give to heaven.

Suddenly, she felt a strong pair of arms encircling her. Jarod was holding her. After everything she'd done or tried to do, he was still willing to hold her.

Losing herself in his arms, Parker realized how much she had missed being near her old friend. He was so safe, so kind, and so very handsome. As she squeezed him tighter, Parker felt familiar warmth pass through her body that seemed to wash away all her insecurities and pain and she knew in that moment that this was where she belonged.

"Jarod. I'm so sorry for…" She felt his fingers moved to her lips to quiet her.

"Parker." He whispered, "You don't ever have to be sorry for anything." She felt him delicately run his hand through her hair, brushing it out of her face.

For a moment there was fear in her, "I-I don't love you." she stuttered nervously as her eyes became pasted to her feet.

He smiled, "Liar."

Stepping away from him for just a moment, Parker found herself looking deeply into his eyes. She slowly moved closer towards him until their faces were only inches apart. And then…

…they kissed.


A few months later, Sydney sorted casually through his mail and sipped a small glass of wine. He stopped sorting when he saw a small postcard from Ohio. On the back were these words:

* Dear Sydney,

Game over.


MP *

The old doctor broke into a wide grin. "Well, they certainly took their sweet time, didn't they." He said chuckling.