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Note: This idea kept coming back to me and I had to write it down. So I went to my computer and ended up writing 50 pages in two hours! This story is dedicated to Cate aka Tigress Parker and all my fanfic friends (you know I love ya!). J I would love feedback. Thanx! ~Jackie
By Jaclyn Parker
“The past lies
like a nightmare
upon the present.”
They had been coming more frequently now, than ever before, the nightmares. Almost every night since the confrontation with the pretender named Alex. Or Alex the Asshole as she tended to refer to him. But on one cold night in late February, a nightmare started earlier than usual.
There was the single shot, the men rushing around her, and her young screams echoing in the dark hallways. As always, she fought against the men in dark suits with no faces; desperately trying to reach where her mother had been. She finally broke free and raced over to stand in front of the elevator doors, only to draw back in horror at the sight of her mother’s lifeless body.
From nowhere comes a man who thinks he has the authority to take her away from her mother. She fights against him more than she did with the others, now more out of a fear for her mother. She shouldn’t be alone, her young mind races. She needs me. It is then that she realizes the man who is holding her is also holding her gift. How dare he touch her present? She tears it away from him in the midst of her struggle and although she is crying out and still wriggling to be free, she realizes in the back of her mind that she is moving farther away from her mother. With tears streaming down her ten year old face and her voice becoming hoarse with her pleas of fright and desperation, she tries once more to reach her mother.
“Mama, no! Mama, please. No, Mama, no!” her cry echoes once more, only to reach deaf ears of hardened men and a young boy who feels his friend’s pain, but is also being held back.
Miss Parker bolted up straight in her bed; sweat making her satin pajamas stick to her in every place imaginable. Her throat was raw from screaming the words in her dream aloud and the ache in heart was more painful than ever before. But even as she sat there trying to catch her breath she knew that something was different this time.
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and sat there, trying in vain to calm herself down. The fear was beginning to disappear, but as she lovingly stroked the picture of her mother by her bedside, she felt that the hurt would last forever. She knew now that her mother didn’t really die in that elevator and she turned her gaze to one of the other photographs on the night table.
Ethan’s young face and slight smile looked back at her and she couldn’t help but smile herself when she thought of the man with whom she has an undeniable bond. He was gone now, disappeared right after the encounter with Alex. She missed him, which seemed strange to her for she never really knew him to begin with. Without Jarod’s help she would have never known he existed and without Jarod she wouldn’t have the picture she looked at now. Disgusted that the lab rat’s name entered her mind at three o clock in the morning, without him calling her, she looked away from the picture.
Miss Parker got out of the bed and when she stood the air around her gave her a chill, making her shiver. She padded across the room to the bathroom and although it was too early to get ready for work, she decided to take a shower. It would help clear her head and while in there she would try and pin point what exactly was wrong in her nightmare.
Four and a half hours later, she was on her way to the Centre and as confused as ever. Miss Parker entered the Centre and walked briskly up to her office, foregoing the elevator for obvious reasons. On her way she passed the tech lab and Sydney’s office, noting that she was the first of the three to arrive. Of course at eight o’ clock in the morning she wasn’t surprised. It would take Moron and Freud another hour to wander in. She left messages on both desks to come and see her as soon as they got in and continued on her way.
Miss Parker dropped her coat and briefcase on her own desk and immediately poured herself a glass of scotch from the small mini bar in the corner of her office. Before she drank the amber liquid she stared at it through the tiny shot glass, swirling it slightly. She wondered when she had begun to drink first thing in the morning to take some of the ache away. Shrugging, Miss Parker downed the shot and placed the glass back from where it came. She settled into her chair and folded her hands under her chin thinking. She brought one hand down and opened the top right drawer, then hesitated before reaching in and pulling out the printed photograph.
Her mother and Jarod’s mother’s faces stared back at her and she tried desperately to listen to the thousand of little voices that had started chattering in her mind. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to get the hang of her inner sense. She had asked Sydney once more to help her and he had avoided answering her as best he could. There was something he was not telling her and she was determined to find out what it was.
She had barely put the photo back in the drawer when the door to her office opened and Broots ambled in trailed by a smiling Sydney.
“Good morning, Parker.” Sydney said his voice chipper and very irritatingly happy.
She looked up and glared at him. “What’s with you?” she asked giving him a frosty look.
“He went out with Michele again last night.” Broots said grinning at his friend and waggled his eyebrows.
Miss Parker shot him a nasty look as well and Broots immediately stopped. She was happy for Sydney too, but she was also a little envious. Although she would choke on the words rather than admit it to his face. It was kind of like her not wanting to admit that she had been incredibly relieved when Broots had stumbled into her office about a week after everything had gone down. He had hitchhiked back and was tired and confused, but no worse for the wear.
“Okay boys, let’s get our libidos and brains back on track. We still have a lab rat to catch.” she growled and pulled out the notes on Jarod’s last lair.
Sydney and Broots gave each other a knowing look. She was in one of her moods and they knew better than to push her. So they just shrugged, and then helped her in reassessing what the initial reports said.
It was around six o’ clock and they were just beginning to see a pattern when Miss Parker’s phone rang, interrupting them.
“What?” Miss Parker barked into the phone. “I see. Just a second.” She looked at Broots and covered the mouthpiece of the phone. “You had the switchboard transfer your calls to my office because...?” she trailed off icily.
“Well...in case I...wasn’t in my office...and something was...wrong…with D...D...Debbie.” Broots stammered out finally, not liking the look in his boss’s eyes. She sighed, still glaring, and handed him the phone silently. Broots took it with a shaking hand and held it up to his own ear.
“Hello? Yes, this is he. Oh God, is she all right? Uh-huh. I see. Yes, I can pick her up in about 20 minutes. Okay, thank you very much. Bye.” Broots hung up the phone and stood up.
“Is everything okay, Broots?” Sydney asked kindly, folding his hands into his lap.
“Debbie was at school play practice and it seems she felt really sick. They took her to the nurse’s office at the school and it appears Debbie has a very high fever and her glands are swollen. The nurse thinks it’s bronchitis. I need to take her to the doctor’s immediately.” Broots said obviously worried about his daughter. He turned to look at Miss Parker who was staring out her office window. “Miss Parker?” he asked softly.
She nodded and he moved towards the door. “Broots?” Miss Parker’s voice stopped him in his tracks. He turned around and waited. “Tell her I hope she gets well soon.” Miss Parker said and turned to look at him with a soft smile on her lips.
“I will, Miss Parker.” Broots said and left quietly.
Miss Parker turned back to look out the window again and Sydney took this opportunity to study her. Although she had seemed her snappish, irritable self today, there was something different. There had been something different since she, Jarod, Mr. Parker and the pretender named Alex had been trapped in the warehouse. He knew that Alex had told her that Mr. Parker wasn’t really her father and cursed the young man every time he saw her look at the picture on her desk of Mr. Parker and her together. Her face briefly reflected the inner pain he knew she was feeling only to fade into the mask of cold impassiveness once more.
“Is there something you want to talk about, Miss Parker?” Sydney asked her gently hoping she would open up just a little.
“Syd, did you ever feel like there was something you knew, but couldn’t quite grasp in your mind? Something so important that it consumes your every waking moment, but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t remember?” she said softly, watching the birds flutter around on the beach.
“Yes, I have.” Sydney said almost to himself more than to her.
She looked at him with an almost wistful gaze. “Did you ever remember it?” she asked him, her voice sounding like a child asking for reassurance.
“Yes, I did. After a while.” He told her and couldn’t resist going further. “Is there something specific you need help remembering?”
She seemed to snap out of her daze at the question and threw him a look. “Nothing you need to concern yourself with, Freud.” she said using her most common nickname for him, but her eyes softening the insult.
He took the name in stride, then nodded and glanced at his watch. “Miss Parker, I hate to say this, but it’s almost six-thirty and I have to pick up Michele in an hour. Maybe you should call it an early night too and go home. You look tired.”
He glanced over at her and noticed she was looking out the window again. She seemed almost to be searching for something. He wasn’t sure she had even heard him until she gave him a glance and said, “Maybe you’re right. I haven’t been getting that much sleep lately.”
Sydney stood up and walked over to where she was standing and placed his hand on her shoulder. Squeezing slightly, he whispered, “I hope you find what you are searching for.”
Miss Parker looked up into Sydney’s kind face and wished with all her heart that he were her father. She didn’t voice that aloud; she didn’t dare. Instead Miss Parker just smiled at him softly and nodded. “Thank you, Sydney. Have fun tonight.”
He took that as his cue to leave and within seconds of him cleaning up his share of the papers strewn around the office, she found herself alone by the window. Miss Parker watched the sun begin to set and sighed. She glanced on her desk and walked over to lift the picture of her mother holding her as a baby. With it in her hands, Miss Parker wandered over to the black leather couch on the side of the room, then settled herself into the cushions. Her eyes closed and she took deep breaths, trying to see if her inner voice would speak to her. Instead of hearing the voices, Miss Parker fell asleep and soon a dream began.
Catherine Parker held her newborn son, Ethan, in her arms and felt the tears well up in her eyes. She would have to leave him just as she had left her young daughter, his older sister, only months before.
She spoke soft words to him and told him that she loved him. She told him to tell his sister to finish what she had started. Then the wooden doors opened, as if in slow motion. Raines appeared with a nurse by his side, who in turn took Catherine’s small son from her arms. She wandered to the side of the room and Catherine looked up, knowing what was in store for her. A gun was shown, a shot was fired, and it was over. The wound on the side Catherine Parker’s forehead was clearly visible and then all went black.
Once again Miss Parker woke with a sheen of sweat covering her face and parts of her body, hidden by her clothing. She had watched the DSA only twice, yet the images reverberated in her mind constantly. She had watched her mother die, not only once but twice, and could do nothing about it either times.
Blinking in the harsh lights of her office, she quickly remembered where she was. Glancing at the clock on the wall opposite her sofa, she realized that she had been asleep for almost two hours. She stood and on shaky legs stumbled over to her desk. She opened up the same drawer she had earlier and pulled out the picture again. Something had drawn her to it and she studied the picture intently. She honed in on the bushes in the background and a suddenly the voices began talking a mile a minute. Miss Parker shook her head and tried to single one out and make sense of what they were saying.
“White aster?” she murmured and the instant the words came out of her mouth, the voices stopped. She was confused for a split second, but didn’t have time to dwell on it, for her mind suddenly flashed back to the elevator dream.
She saw her younger self taking the present from the man and the wrapping paper stood out boldly. There were tiny white flowers all over the paper and as soon as she realized they were asters, her mind seemed to flash forward to her other nightmare. Outside the window where her mother had lain on the table was bush and on that bush grew, none other then, white asters.
The flashes stopped at that thought and Miss Parker had to sit down. She dropped the photo on the desk and dropped into her chair, hard. She placed her pounding head in her hands and felt the wetness of tears on her cheeks. She hadn’t even realized she was crying and truth be told, she really didn’t know why.
The ringing of her cell phone interrupted her thought and completely drained of emotion she answered it with a soft “What?” instead of her normal Ice Queen tone.
“Miss Parker?” Jarod’s voice floated over the phone line. “Are you all right?”
“Have you found Ethan?” she asked ignoring his question.
“No,” Jarod said softly, knowing she was as worried as he was about Ethan. “I haven’t, but I also haven’t given up hope. If he was...” Jarod trailed off not even wanting to say it.
“I know.” Miss Parker said, letting him off the hook. “My inner sense would have told me.”
“Right.” Jarod said nodding even though she obviously couldn’t see him.
After a few moments of silence, Miss Parker grew uneasy. “What is it that you wanted, Jarod?” she asked running her finger along the edge of the photograph that she still held in her hand.
“Just to see if you knew anything about Ethan.” Jarod said simply. “Or anything more about my parents.”
Miss Parker knew he was lying; she could sense it. However, she didn’t call him on it. There was more that he wasn’t telling her over the phone. She could only assume that it wasn’t a secure connection and that what he had to say was extremely important. “Well, now you know. Can I go home now?” she asked him trying to sound disinterested.
Jarod knew she had understood his game and played along. “Yes, you can, Miss Parker. Sleep well.” With that he hung up and left Miss Parker to ponder what he had to tell her. Instead of shoving the picture in the drawer again, she placed it into her briefcase and stood up. She cleaned off some of the clutter on her desk, then sighed and decided to forget it. It was useless information anyway. She now knew where Jarod was and it was not in Hopetown, Nevada. She instinctively knew that she was going to get a late night visit from her number one lab rat. Realizing what she had just thought, a frown appeared on his lips. Since when was he her lab rat?
Miss Parker grabbed her jacket and briefcase, flicked off her office light, and locked her office door behind her. Walking to the stairs, she noticed Lyle’s office light was still on and she heard a woman’s giggle through the door. Just as she was considering interrupting his dinner plans the woman burst out of his office, still giggling. She was young and Asian and wore a very gorgeous red and black kimono. The girl hurried to the elevator and as soon as it opened she jumped in.
Miss Parker couldn’t resist any longer and opened Lyle’s door, without knocking. When she stuck her head in she saw him sitting on the couch facing the door. He was frowning and watching it as though expecting it to reopen. His face lit up until he realized it was his sister and not the pretty young secretary.
“Lose your dinner date, Lyle? Poor baby.” she said sarcastically.
“Yeah, looks that way.” Lyle said and gave her a hungry look that made her blood run cold. “You want to join me instead?” He made a biting motion with his mouth and caused a chill to run down Miss Parker’s spine.
Resisting the urge to gag, she glared at him. In an icy tone she said, “Sorry, but I don’t dine with things that slither or crawl.” With that she withdrew her head and closed the door behind her. She briefly pressed her hand to her stomach and took a deep breath.
Moving on she made her way to the infirmary to look in on the man she couldn’t help but still call her father. Old habits die-hard was her only excuse and it was a lame one. The doctor told her there was no change in his condition and she felt a twinge of sorrow. Not for him, but because he had so many answers to the questions she held in her head and her heart. It looked like he was not going to be able to tell her anytime soon. Continuing her way to the garage, she made one last stop to the nursery and looked in on her baby brother, Gabriel.
He lay in his crib, sleeping soundly and hugging a soft blue rabbit to his tiny body. After whispering goodnight to him and kissing his soft cheek, she watched him sleep for a few minutes. It was such a shame that he had to be here. Maybe she could talk the doctors into letting him come live with her until her “father” was out of danger. She brushed a finger over his soft baby hair covered head and left the nursery quietly, then finally made it to the garage and her car.