AN: Hi folks! I'm really excited that people are actually following this fic, and commenting too. Glad to see the fandom isn't gone. Thanks to all that have read, followed, and especially reviewed. I'm glad you like it. There was a comment from a guest that said the chapters are a bit short. My chapters are short and it is on purpose. Since I don't plan to take years and years and years to update this fic, I try to make them concise. My fics will not contain a lot of technicalities about the fall of the Centre or plots to bring it down. I tend to like simple romance stories, maybe a bit of adventure, but certainly not in this one.
Here is chapter 4, let me know what you all think. Again, thank you for all the reviews. I do respond when I can PM the reviewer back.
Chapter 4: The Reunion And the Confession
Parker's Beach House, Venice Beach, California
Parker's house was quiet when she finally got back from running her errands. She hated grocery shopping, but she had to do it once every couple of weeks, otherwise, she would be eating out every night. Going straight to the kitchen to put her groceries away, she heard a sudden noise. Silently, she put her groceries down and headed for her desk in the corner where she stored her gun. As she was reaching into the drawer, cynical voice stopped her in her tracks.
"You're slipping Parker. In the old days, your 9mm would have been in my face by now."
Instinctively, Parker asked heatedly "Jarod? What the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm just checking up on an old friend." He answered quietly. Parker knew the smile she heard in his voice was real.
"How did you find me?"
"It wasn't easy as first. You had a good head start on me. I didn't even realize you had disappeared until I called Sydney a month ago wondering why all your phone lines were disconnected." He started to say.
Parker smirked to herself. Nice, apparently, I wasn't even missed.
"You look good, Miss Parker. It seems that time away from the Centre agrees with you." He gave her an appreciative once over.
"It's been great not having to chase your ass all over kingdom come." She replied acidly as she picked up her abandoned groceries and went for the kitchen. She went about putting way what needed to be put away.
"I was going to make some tea. Would you care to join me?" She offered.
At his cautious nod of agreement, she started the make tea.
As they settled down on the couch, she asked. "Jarod, I don't like repeating myself, but what are you doing here?"
"I told you, I was just checking up on you. I hadn't seen or talked to you in almost a year. And I have about a million questions I want to ask you but I doubt you would give me a straight answer," he answered wryly.
"I can take care of myself Jarod. I have been taking care of myself for a long time." She said irritably. She had to remind herself that just a few short hours ago, she wanted to be near him. She had to shake this Centre ingrained defensiveness that was in her. This was her friend Jarod, who probably really had no other ulterior motive but concern for his best friend.
"What do you want to talk about?" She asked after taking a deep calming breath.
"A few things; the most pressing of which is Ethan. He found us about a month after we came back from Carthis. He had my mother in tow. He was very evasive as to how he found her; I figured it was the voices, or maybe a phone call from a certain someone who was in London a few days before he found my mother there. Know anything about that?" Jarod asked.
When Parker remained mute, admitting to nothing, Jarod continued. "He doesn't seem to want to stay with us, though he is more than welcome. He's living by himself, but my mother and Emily worry about him. He just seems alone. He shouldn't feel like he has to be alone," Jarod explained. Parker looked into Jarod's intense brown eyes, trying to understand if he had another meaning to his statement.
"I thought maybe you could invite him to stay with you; wherever you decide to settle. He needs to be around family; to have that connection." The set look on Jarod's face told her what he wanted her to do.
"Of course. Ethan is always welcome. I'll probably be heading ho- to Blue Cove in a few weeks. Let him know he can contact me whenever he wants to get away."
Jarod nodded his appreciation of her offer, though noting her hesitancy at the word home.
"Knowing you, you have some place close by that you're staying at for however long you are "checking up" on me. So, do you mind if we continue this conversation a different day? I'm beat, and cranky, and may probably threaten to use my gun on you . . . " Parker hinted.
Jarod acquiesced, drained his tea and headed towards the door. "Lock up behind me."
The next morning, she got up, showered and made her way to the coffee shop as she did every day. She was surprised when she opened her front door and Jarod was standing right there her latte in hand. "Fat Free Latte right?"
"Of course, you're the hottie Molly was talking about." Parker replied motioning for him to come in.
"Talk to Freud lately? How is he?" she asked without delay as they sat on the couch.
"He didn't want me to find you. He said that you might run the other way if you were pushed too soon. But he misses you." Jarod said quietly, his perusing eye never faltering for a second. "How about you?"
"What about me? I'm fine. I love being footloose and fancy free. Not tethered to the Centre anymore. You know what it's like." Parker tried to deflect the conversation from delving into her feelings.
"Yes, I know what it's like. It's lonely without people around that care about you." Jarod replied back, getting right into the heart of the matter.
"Jarod, what do you want from me?" She just wants him to go away so he doesn't keep picking at her feelings. She's wasn't supposed to have any.
"Answers. I want to know why you led everyone to believe including me that you didn't care? You obviously did or you wouldn't have worked with the FBI for five years . . . Why Parker?" Jarod asked.
Her continued silence was his undoing. "Damn it Parker. If you were working with the FBI all along, why did continue to hunt me down like a fugitive for five God damn years?" His was voice getting louder with each word and by the time he finished, he was literally shouting at her.
Jarod had never used that tone of voice with Parker in the past. As he finished, she found herself putting her Ice Queen armor back on. "Why? Because YOU, Boy wonder wouldn't disappear for good! Because YOU insisted on throwing breadcrumbs when we all knew well and good that you could have easily gone under and no one would be the wiser. We had to because of that stupid – ass game of chase YOU insisted on playing, Jarod!" Parker's voice had risen as well, not one to back down from a fight.
Jarod stood up. "So you're saying I wanted to live the life of a fugitive? Looking over my shoulder every ten minutes? It's my fault you kept coming after Centre property?"
"Yes you did Jarod. All those hints, breadcrumbs, false leads? You wouldn't release us from the game. God knows eighty percent of the time we wouldn't have found you if it weren't for your hints and innuendoes. Freud said you always did things for a reason. No matter how perplexing that reason was to us."
With a definite flash in her blue eyes that were quickly becoming a cold grey, Parker stood up as well and crossed her arms. In a voice reinforced with steel, she calmly informed Jarod, "I did it because I had to. Sydney and Broots were along for the ride. Someone had to keep Sydney's 'aid' a secret or would you rather he be buried next to my mother's empty casket? Someone had to protect Broots and Debbie. God knows, they didn't ask for this. The worst thing that could have happened to that dipstick was the day he was hired by the Centre and put on your pursuit team."
"I could have helped you. You put yourself in needless danger when I could have helped you. I should have been a part of it! I should have been there to protect you." Jarod insisted.
"You're upset because I didn't invite you to the party?" she asked incredulously. "I knew what I was doing Jarod. I didn't need or want your help. The best thing you did to help was to go underground, no breadcrumbs, no late night phone calls to Sydney or to me, nothing. That was your contribution. With you out of the way, I had time to figure out how to get Sydney, Broots and Sam away safely. There was nothing left to pursue."
Parker continued on to explain how it was that the Centre was brought to its knees and her part in it. She told him how her journey started five years ago, by trying to find the right agency to approach about the Centre. She found it in the FBI. It took her a year to determine her contact at the FBI was the right one and that he wasn't in the Centre's back pocket. Over the next four years, she continued to feed the FBI information. Of importance was obtaining evidence that needed no additional witness testimony. When they had enough and the support of the Justice Department, she disappeared and they made a move on the Centre.
Softly, she added, "I didn't ask for your help Jarod, because every time you tried to help me, you always ended up getting hurt. I didn't want for you and your family to be caught in the cross hairs. You deserved to move on and try to live as normal a life as you could. Maybe start a family of your own. I did it for you Jarod, for the boy I stole my first kiss from."
Parker was standing on the deck of her beach house looking across the waves, the sound calming her. She had retreated there as soon as she had made her confession. Her mind moved back and forth between her child-hood that was so different than the life she was currently living.
"Doesn't it feel good to admit you care for me?" Jarod asked from behind her. Even though she couldn't see his face, she could imagine the self confident smirk on it.
"Are you happy now, Genius? To be a witness to my humiliation yet again?" She said as she tried to move past him back into the house.
Jarod halted her movement with a hand on her arm. "Parker . . . you know that isn't true. My intention was never, ever to humiliate you. I just wanted to open your eyes. Funny thing is, I didn't realize that you didn't need my help opening them. As for me saying the things I did today, I just wanted you to admit what you felt about me, what I have always, always felt about the woman I love. "
Pulling her arm away from his grasp she asked him in disbelief, "Jarod, how can you still have feelings for me? I have hardly been a friend to you over the past years. I was hunting you down for God sakes."
"Just because we argue and fight, it doesn't mean we don't care about each other." He quietly said in response. "Even people with the longest and happiest of marriages are going to hurt each other once in awhile and they are just going to have to forgive them for that. I never blamed you for what happened to me Parker. The Centre did that to me not you. You were as much a victim of the Centre as I was. You did what you did to survive and to protect Sydney and Broots. I know that little girl that was my best friend was still there, just buried under layers of ice." Moving closer to her, Jarod put his hands on her shoulders, feeling her tense at the contact.
"Jarod, you don't love me. You love the image you've painted of me in your mind. You love the little girl from the Centre. Not the person I am, the person I've become. After everything I've put you through?"
Without looking at Jarod, Parker started pacing. "I'm not that little girl anymore. I've lived through things, and done things that made me into the person I am today. Too much has happened between us. And I won't be able to live up to that expectation you have. That is just setting me up to fail."
"Are you done?"
Without waiting for a reply, Jarod continued, "I never expected you to be someone you're not. Don't you get it Parker? I didn't say I love that little girl, although I did at the time. I said I love you. You, the Miss Parker who chased me for five years but never caught me . . . You, the Miss Parker, who deliberately missed when she had a clear shot at my knee cap or my foot or my ass . . . You, the Miss Parker, who told Ethan where to find my mom . . ."
"How did you . . . " Parker started to ask but was interrupted by Jarod waving it off.
"And I love you, the Miss Parker who helped take down that house of horrors that kept me from my family for thirty years. I love you, the Miss Parker who sacrificed her freedom for mine. I loved that little girl, and I love the woman she became." He moved closer cupped her cheeks in his hands. "I love you, Morgan."
At the mention of the name no one had spoken in so many years, tears began to fall. She saw the truth and sincerity in his eyes. "Jarod," she sighed as she felt him pull her close.
Jarod held on to Parker tightly. It felt wonderful to finally be able to hold her and touch her. "Do you know how long I've waited for this?" He said softly.
Parker let out a breath. It was time to tell him what she had been holding back for so long.
"Oh, I know. The last year without any sort of contact was hell. But it helped me realize how much I needed you in my life. " Admitting this, Parker felt as if a weight had been lifted from her. As if she could breathe easier.
"You need me?" He asked softly.
He felt her nod her head. "Yes. Always. You're my home Jarod; always have been." She replied. "You helped me through some of the toughest times of my life. Without you, I would never have found out the truth about my mother. Without you, I wouldn't have had the strength to make it through Tommy's murder; through finding out Lyle was my twin. I need you Jarod, to keep me in touch with who I was and who I have become." She whispered, reaching up to brush her hand across his cheek, as tears started to pool in his eyes.
Cupping his face, Parker's eyes locked with his. She pulled his head down to hers and gave him a tentative kiss. Their first few kisses were soft and sweet, almost like their first kiss years ago.
"Feels good to finally finish what we started in Scotland." He said quietly not moving any more than necessary to say those words. He leaned back in to continue to kiss her. Their kisses became more demanding and passionate.
"Let's go home Parker. It's time to stop running away and go home."
AN: I know right? Where's the smut? I wanted something relatively easy to follow for my first foray into the Pretender Fandom. I tend to like romances more than I do the ins and outs of the Centre. So let me know. I have an idea for a "series" of fics for MPJ. Nothing earth shattering, but basically something to finish up the MPJ story line Steven Long Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle never finished! Sigh. Let me know what you all think. Thanks for reading and reviewing, I appreciate the time you all took to read and especially to review . . .
If you have any ideas or plot bunnies, I would appreciate hearing from you as well.