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Family


Disclaimer: All of the characters and related Pretender elements belong to NBC. Save for Miky, Margaret, Sara and Robert. They're mine.

Thanks for taking the time to read it. Please send back comments!

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Miss Parker sighed with relief as she pulled in front of the house.

"Finally, a vacation!" she thought. The past few months had been tiring and frustrating. Chasing Jarod had put a lot of unwanted stress on herself. She got out of the car and walked up to the house. She opened the screen door and stepped inside. An older woman, around 50, walked
over to her, a smile on her face.

"Hello, Margaret!" Miss Parker greeted, brushing her hair from her face.

"Miss Parker, so good to see you. How are you?" Margaret asked as she gave Miss Parker a warm hug.

"Fine and very glad for a vacation!" She replied. The two women started to laugh. Margaret and her husband, Robert, were two of the only people who made her feel at ease. They were like the grandparents she never had. Margaret gestured her into the living room, making a fuss about this or that. It made Miss Parker smile more. Margaret was the only person that she let fuss over her. She sat down on the couch, chatting merrily with the older woman.

"Where's Robert?" Miss Parker asked.

"Oh, off helping Miky get ready. You know, that boy hasn't stopped talking about this trip, since you told him about it."

"Really!?!" Miss Parker said her smile growing wider. Miky was going on this vacation with her; he was the only person who made her feel like a person. He made her laugh, cry, made her happy, and feel good about herself. Just then she heard the sound of running feet. She got up and turned around.

"Mommy!" a little boy yelled with joy as he ran into Miss Parker's arms. "I'm so glad you're here! I couldn't wait for you to come and I'm all packed and ready to go. Oh, I'm so happy!" The little boy said chattering endlessly. His little brown eyes shining. Miss Parker brushed her hand over his dark brown hair laughing at his excitement.

Miky who she loved so much, was her 'son.' He was actually the son of her best friend Sara, who had died three years ago of cancer, leaving her one-year-old son in Miss Parker's care. She grew quite attached to Miky, caring for him as if he were her own. Margaret and Robert were
close friends of Sara, who agreed to take care of him, having no family of their own.

No one else knew about the three. A precaution Miss Parker took so none of them would come to harm from the Centre. It was hard to keep them a secret though. She could only come to visit so often and even then it was a great risk. She always had the underlining suspicion that the Centre did know about them and that they were just biding their time
before revealing their knowledge. Margaret and Robert knew of the risks, but they continued to watch Miky. She smiled at them and thought about how wonderful they were.

"And I packed my toys and my clothes. Did'ja know I got new tooth paste?" Miky said still chattering.

"As you can see, he's very excited!" Robert said as he came into the living room holding a suitcase. "He's been talking nonstop about this cruise to Hawaii with you."

"Why am I not surprised!" Miss Parker said as she tossed Miky into the air. Laughter spilling over the room. "So sweetie, you ready to go?"

"Yep!" Miky replied as she put him down. "Let me get my stuff!" He said as he ran out of the room, leaving the three adults laughing.

"Well, you should get going." Margaret said watching as the little boy disappeared.

"Yeah, we need to catch that plane to California to get on the cruise."

"Well, you two have a fun two weeks in Hawaii!" Robert said as he picked up the suitcase walking towards the door. Miky ran in almost knocking Robert over. He mumbled a 'sorry.' He had on a little blue dinosaur book-bag on his back, one arm holding his blankie and a worn lion stuffed animal, his other hand held some flowers, his mouth wide with a smile.

"These are for you, Mommy!" He said handing Miss Parker the white daisies. She smiled and gave him a big hug.

"Thank you!" she replied. Taking his hand she led him to the door. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yep! Bye Nana!" He said as he led Miss Parker out the door and to the car. Robert had put the suitcase in the car. "Bye Pappy!" Miky said as he walked to the car. Robert opened the door and helped Miky into the car seat in the front seat. He placed Miky's things on the floor.

"Bye, Parker!" Robert said after he closed the door. "Have fun!"

"We will! See you when we get back!" Miss Parker replied giving him a quick hug. She got into the car and started it. Waving goodbye to Margaret and Robert as she drove away. In the car Miky was talking away endlessly in his usual cheery self. Miss Parker smiled the whole way,
listening intently to the four-year-old.


* * * * *
Ship Deck

Jarod walked around the deck taking pictures of all the people. He enjoyed being out in the sea on a cruise ship. He wasn't trying to solve anything this time. He was just being a free lance photographer. He liked to try to capture the feelings of people on film, especially kids. He walked over to the rear deck to the railing. He looked out at the blue ocean that surrounded the ship. He heard the laughter of a
little boy and turned around to watch him. The little boy was around the age of four. He had dark brown hair and eyes. He was running across the deck, laughing and yelling "Catch me if you can, Mommy!"

"Slow down Miky or you'll fall and hurt yourself!" A woman yelled laughingly. The voice sounded so familiar, but Jarod couldn't place it. He took a double take when he saw the woman come around the corner. It was Miss Parker! At least he thought it was. Her usual high styled hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She was wearing a white T-shirt
tucked into a pair of blue jeans, wearing a pair of tennis shoes to complete the outfit. It surprised him that she would wear such domestic clothing. What surprised him more was that she had a son. Come to think of it, he knew she was never pregnant. This really perplexed him. He watched the two hoping Miss Parker wouldn't notice him. She came up
behind Miky and swept him up into the air yelling "Gotcha!" The two laughed joyously. Jarod smiled.

Miss Parker looked at Miky as he giggled after being caught. She tossed him into the air thinking how this was turning out to be a good vacation. She spun him around wishing that this were what she could do everyday. Be his mother, play with him and not have to worry about the Centre, Jarod, her father or her mother. She brought the smiling boy to the railing and looked out at the blue sea and feeling the wind go across her face. Miky looked up at his mother and noticed a sad look on
her face.

"Mommy what's the matter? Why are you sad?" He asked concerned, looking up at his mother. She looked down at him and smiled.

"Oh I'm not really sad, honey. I was just thinking."

"About what?"

"How it would be nice if I could be with you all the time." Miss Parker replied softly.

"I would like that too!"

Miss Parker smiled at him. She felt the cool wind blow across the ocean. She used her free hand to undo her ponytail, letting her hair fall into the winds grasp. Miky put his hand in her hair feeling it fly across like silk.

"I like your hair." He said smiling as he buried his face into her shoulder and soon fell asleep. Miss Parker stood there holding him, a small wistful smile on her face. Jarod had watched them. He had never seen this motherly side of Miss Parker before. He felt his heart go out to her as she had whispered her wish to the boy and stood there with a
wistful smile on her face. Her hair was blowing across her face as she rocked back and forth with the sleeping boy.

Miss Parker felt a shiver go down her spine as she realized that someone was watching her. She turned around to see who it was, only to find nothing. She thought that she must have been getting paranoid from working at the Centre to long. She turned and walked back to their cabin suite.

Jarod sighed with relief when he saw Miss Parker go. He was glad that she didn't see him. He had hidden behind one of the benches when he saw that Miss Parker sensed that he was watching her. He got up and started to walk towards his cabin pondering on what he had just saw.

* * * * *

Miss Parker's Cabin

It was six o'clock as Miss Parker walked out of the bathroom in her two-room suite on the ship. She had on a simple lavender dress, though worried a little bit that something might be spilled on it. She found it was better to wear jeans and T-shirt when she was around Miky, although it was still designer brands. He tended to get messy sometimes. Tonight Miky had wanted to go to someplace special on the boat for dinner and she consented. She put on a white sweater over the dress. It was a sleeve-less silk dress that went down to her ankles. It clung closely to her figure, bellowing a little around her legs. She slipped on a pair of white heels, hoping
that she didn't have to chase Miky around the ship. Though it really wasn't a problem, since she's been chasing Jarod continuously in four-inch heels for the past year or two.

She walked out into the little living room area and into the room Miky was staying in. He had wanted to change himself and wanted to see what he picked out. She smiled as she saw him in his little khaki pants and white polo T-shirt. It was the outfit she got him a few months ago, surprisingly it still fit. He smiled as he saw her come in. He ran up to her, arms held out for a hug. She picked him up and threw him into
the air. "You look so beautiful Mommy!" The little boy exclaimed giggling.

"Well, you look really handsome tonight!" She replied. "Ready to go?" She asked as she put him down.

"Yep! Where are we going?" He said as he ran towards the door.

"To the restaurant on the top deck, called 'Star Café.' It has
dancing," Miky gave a disgusted face, causing Miss Parker to laugh, "and I hear it has this sea aquarium playground for the kids up there too!" Miky's eyes glowed with excitement.

"What are we waiting for? Let's go!" He yelled as he ran out the door and towards the stairs. Miss Parker went out after him telling him to wait up.

* * * * *

Stars Café

Jarod walked into the 'Stars Café.' He saw Miss Parker sitting at the table with Miky. Miky was chattering away about something and Miss Parker had an amused expression her face. A hostess walked up to him.

"Sir, how many?" She asked him, her hand ready to pull out some menus.

"Oh, I'm meeting someone here." Jarod replied as he walked over to the Miss Parker's table.

Miky looked at the tall man who was walking over to the table. He had a friendly smile on his face. Miky smiled back at the man. His mother looked at him and was about to turn around to see whom he was smiling at, but stopped when she heard his voice.

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?" Jarod asked. Miss Parker turned around surprised to find Jarod standing behind her.

"What are YOU doing here?" She asked unable to keep the surprise and annoyence out of her voice.

"Oh, I thought I would take a cruise to Hawaii. They say it's a great place to spend a vacation. What are you doing here?" He asked looking at her and then at Miky, who was looking at the two inquisitively.

"On vacation." She replied, unable to figure out what to say or on how to explain Miky. She knew Jarod didn't know about him.

"Really?!? So who is this young man?" Jarod asked as he stuck his hand out to the little boy. Miky took the hand and shook it.

"I'm Miky. Who are you? Are you a friend of my mommy?" He responded his eyes wide with curiosity.

"I'm Jarod and yes I am a friend of your mom's. Though I didn't know she had a son." He said looking back at Miss Parker.

"Well, there are a lot of things you don't know about me." She replied looking down at the table.

"I know more than most. So, is this seat taken?" He said quietly.

"Nope! Can Jarod join us Mommy?" Miky said enthusiastically.

"Uh, sure, honey!" Miss Parker replied, not wanting to ruin Miky's good mood and not knowing what else to say.

"Cool!" replied Miky as Jarod took a seat between the two.

"Have you ordered yet?" Jarod asked.

"No we haven't, we just arrived a few minutes ago." Miss Parker said as she looked at him. He was wearing black pants, a white T-shirt with a black sports jacket over it. She had to admit he looked handsome tonight. As if sensing her thoughts, Jarod looked at her and told her how beautiful she looked, causing her to blush.

"Thanks!" she replied, as her mind filled with questions of why Jarod was there and of how to make him go away.

Miky watched his mom blush and wondered if Jarod was her boyfriend. He knew that older people dated, he learned that from TV. He didn't know if she dated, but he thought that Jarod seemed nice enough for her to date.

"Mommy is Jarod your boyfriend?" He asked his tone very innocent. Miss Parker almost choked on her water. Jarod had a similar reaction, but he recovered quickly with an amused grin.

"Uh, no honey. Jarod is just a friend." She said still coughing.

"But we have kissed." Jarod replied a sly grin on his face. Miss Parker turned looking at him in surprise, but it soon became a look of annoyance. He couldn't resist the urge to get Miss Parker annoyed. "In fact she gave me my first kiss!"

"Really?" Miky asked in surprise.

Miss Parker was getting really mad, it only made it worst when Miky was asking about the whole incident, which Jarod had no qualms telling about. Miss Parker was going to interupt to tell Jarod to go when the waiter came.

"May I take your order?" He asked. Not wanted to cause any scene she ordered for Miky and herself. When it was Jarod's turn to order, she gave him the evil eye, hoping he would get the hint to leave, but he just ordered, giving her sly grin. As soon as the waiter left, Miky and Jarod were back into another conversation. Miky looked so happy and
seemed to like Jarod a lot, so Miss Parker decided she wouldn't say anything.

"But next time when I see him I'm going to give him a piece of mind." She thought.

For the rest of the evening the two guys talked, Miky taking up most of the conversation, causing Miss Parker to laugh. Jarod enjoyed listening to the little boy talk. He had a lot on his mind for someone so young, quite intelligent too for someone who was four. It made him remember when he was that age, but then it wasn't a happy memory. By
the time they had finished dinner, Miky was asking for dessert.

"Oh, I don't know, Miky? Did you finish all of your vegetables?" Miss Parker asked teasingly.

"Yes I did, so can I have some dessert?" Miky said all serious, causing Miss Parker and Jarod to laugh.

"Oh all right!" She said as she singled the waiter over.

"What can I help you with?" He asked.

"I would like to order one ice cream sundae." Miss Parker replied.

"I would like one too." Jarod said.

"And you miss?"

"Nothing."

"I'll be right back."

"Thank you."

"Yippee, ice cream!" Miky said. Jarod smiled at the boy's enthusiasm. He was also looking forward to having some ice cream; it had become one of his favorite desserts. "Mommy, after I have the ice cream can I go play in the playground?"

"We'll see." Was all that Miss Parker said a smile on her face. She looked up at the sky and saw all the stars shining brightly. After receiving their ice cream, the boys hurriedly ate it all up, making Miss Parker laugh. As soon as he was finished, Miky gave an inquisitive look at Miss Parker.

"Yes you can go, but don't run to much or you'll get a stomach ache!" She replied warningly as she watched the little boy scamper off to the playground. She was glad that there were attendants watching over the kids. She turned back to Jarod, who she was sure was going to start
asking questions.

As if on cue, Jarod asked "How did Miky become your son?"

"Well, I… He was the son of a close friend of mine, Sara." She replied quietly, going on so he wouldn't ask her anymore questions. "Sara died three years ago of cancer giving me sole custody of Miky. He stays with some old friends of hers while I'm at the Centre."

"The Centre doesn't know about him do they?" Jarod asked quietly.

"No, I'm afraid that if they find out about him they would try to hurt him." Miss Parker said quietly looking at him. The two of them sat silently, not knowing what else to say. "You were the one who was watching us today, weren't you?" She asked softly.

"Yeah, I was surprised to see you. More surprised that you were wearing domestic clothes and that you have a son." Jarod replied. Miss Parker laughed.

"It would surprise a lot of people."

"It would." Jarod said laughing with her. He got up and held his hand to her. "Would you care to dance?" He asked tilting his head towards the dance floor. She hesitated and then put her hand in his.

"Sure why not?" She replied. It wouldn't hurt, the Centre wasn't there to stop them. It was just a dance.

He pulled her onto the dance floor the small orchastra was playing a slow waltz. At first they were arms width apart, but soon the notes played on the piano brought them closer. She started to feel a bit breathless as he spun her around. Her mind wondering where he had learned to dance. Jarod looked down at Miss Parker as they danced around the floor. He never felt happier or as light-headed. He liked this, this peace and happiness he had right now. Miss Parker looked up at him, a small smile on her face. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against his shoulder letting the moment take them away.

>From the playground Miky watched his mom and Jarod dance. He smiled. They looked really happy together. Maybe he would get that family he always dreamed about…

* * * * *

Miss Parker's Cabin

Later that evening Miss Parker was putting Miky to bed. She had just finished reading him The Velveteen Rabbit and was going to turn out the lights.

"Mommy, are you SURE that you and Jarod are JUST friends?" He asked a little smile on his face.

"Yes, I'm sure." Miss Parker replied, thinking back to the way she and Jarod had danced that night. "Jarod and I are just friends."

"I think he would make a cool dad." Miky said as he drifted off into sleep. Miss Parker pulled the blanket over him and walked out of the room. She sighed, as she thought about how Jarod would never be his dad.

"The world just doesn't work that way." She whispered quietly as she walked into her room and went to bed.

* * * * *

Jarod's Room

The sun filtered in through the window over Jarod's lying figure. He was on the bed staring at the ceiling thinking about the other night. How good it felt to be with Miss Parker in his arms, how he enjoyed the feeling he had when he was with her and Miky. Almost like a family. Was it like a family? He wasn't sure, since he never felt this way before, but he knew it felt good. Getting up he walked over to the
window and looked at the ocean. The Centre wasn't there to stop him from joining the two, maybe he would.

* * * * *

Ship Deck

Miky ran along the deck laughing as Miss Parker tried to catch him. She was debating who was harder to catch, Miky or Jarod. Just then a figure jumped out from a corner and scooped Miky up.

"Gotcha!" Jarod yelled as he threw the little boy up into the air. Miky giggled and spread his arms out as Jarod spun him around. Miss Parker walked up to them with a breathless smile on her face.

"You know with the two of you, I can always stay fit!" She complained laughingly. Jarod smiled back at her. "What are you doing here?" She asked.

"Thought I would join the two of you today." He replied as he put Miky down.

"Don't you have to work or something?"

"Nope, I was being a free lance photographer. Anyway I need a vacation! It's not everyday that I get a break from running." Jarod replied giving her a cocky grin. She just shook her head, trying to hide the smile on her face.

"You're just lucky I'm on vacation." She said as Miky took her hand and Jarod's. He pulled the two towards the forward deck.

"I want to go do something!" He said. "I want to go play in the playground!"

The two adults allowed themselves to be pulled to the playground. They smiled at each other.


* * * * *
Ship Deck

As they were on deck watching the sunset, Miky was falling asleep in Miss Parker's arms. Jarod watched the two and noticed that Miss Parker looked a little tired herself.

"Wore you out?" He asked.

"You could say that. I don't know who is worse to chase around you or him." Miss Parker replied as she shifted Miky in her arms. Jarod smiled.

"It looks like it'll be another clear evening." Jarod said as he looked at the colorful sky that melted into the blue ocean.

"Jarod why are you here?" Miss Parker asked.

"I'm being a free lance photographer."

"I know that, what I meant was why are you here with Miky and me today?"

"No real reason, except that it feels right." He replied looking into her eyes. She looked back and found herself lost in them. "Why did you let me stay with you guys?"

"Because… because it feels right." She answered looking down, not really wanting to admit that she enjoyed his company. She couldn't believe how she let herself be this way with him. Usually she would be yelling at him, but then she was with Miky. He was the only person who let her be herself, maybe that was why she let Jarod be with them. She was being her real self, the same person who had once snuck down into a dark room to kiss a boy. The boy that was now the man standing beside her. She sighed. Jarod moved closer to her and placed his arms around her. Miss Parker leaned her head against his shoulder and let all
thoughts of reality go.


* * * * *
Hawaii

The next day the ship docked in Hawaii. Miss Parker and Miky parted from Jarod. He realized that Miss Parker needed some time alone with Miky. He was sorry that he couldn't spend more time with them, but he knew it was best. He went off on his own little adventure. On the flight back to Maine, Miss Parker could not stop thinking about the few
days she spent with Jarod and Miky. It seemed so much like the family that she always wanted. She closed her eyes and thought about that precious time, letting her mind dream of when it would always be like that.

* * * * *

Miky's House

Miky watched sadly as his mommy drove away from the house. He didn't get to spend a lot of time with her and when he did it always went by to fast. He knew that she had an important job that kept her away from him, but still he wished that she were always there with him. He smiled at the memory of this last trip. He really enjoyed spending it with his
mommy and Jarod, who he hoped would one day be his daddy. He looked up into the sky and wished that it would come true.

* * * * *

Centre

Miss Parker walked into the Centre in her no nonsense attitude.

"How was your vacation?" Sydney asked when she walked into her office.

"Relaxing." She said in her usual tone of voice. "Makes me want to take another one."

"Well, while you were gone this came for you." Sydney said as he held out a package. "It's from Jarod."

Miss Parker opened it and found a CD. She looked at it puzzled and saw a note attached to it. The note was addressed to her.

* * * * *

Miss Parker,

I hope we can find that time when everything feels right again. I will always cherish the precious days that we had our family. I don't know if this changes anything between us as hunter and the hunted. Though I know now what it is that I really want.

Jarod


* * * * *

Miss Parker folded the note and put it in her pocket. She turned to Sydney. He looked at her curiously as he saw a tear fall from her eye.

"Is everything alright?" He asked with a quiet concerned voice.

"Nothing you need to worry about. Has Broots found out where Jarod is?" She asked as she brushed the tear away.

"Nothing yet." Sydney replied.

"Well then tell him to get on it!" Miss Parker ordered. Sydney looked at her for a minute and walked out of the office.

Miss Parker took the CD out and placed it in her CD player. She pressed play and heard the soft notes of the piano and orchestra fill her office. It was the song they had danced too. She smiled. Inside the CD was a note to look at the bottom of the box. She looked at it and found a wrapped package. She opened it up and found that it was pictures of her and Miky. It captured all of the joy and love they felt.
There was even one with the three of them together. Jarod's arm was around Miss Parker, who was holding Miky in between them. They all stood closely together smiling. Miss Parker smiled.

"The family I always wanted." She whispered wistfully as she let her mind drift back to the memories of those precious days.


THE END

Please read the sequel: A Pretender's Rage











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