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A Kiss To Build Dreams On

By: BrightFeather

Spoilers: Nah

Rated: PG-13 for K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Disclaimer: The Pretender doesn't belong to me and neither do any of the characters. The story and situation are property of my chocolate and Pez sodden imagination. PS: This is all Mickey's fault.

This is a response to Mickey's L'il List Challenge.

*****

Jarod walked quietly into Parker's house. It had been a month since he had last been there, but from late night calls, he knew that her nightmares were getting worse. He tiptoed up the stairs and entered her bedroom. "Parker?" he called softly.

She sat straight up in bed and looked at him, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "Jarod?" she answered in a quavery voice. She slid out of bed, ran to where he was standing, and threw her arms around him. "I dreamed you were dead," she said, the words tearing from her throat.

"I'm not dead, Melissa," Jarod said softly, using the name he had not uttered in three decades as he brought his arms up around her and caressed her hair gently. He leaned down and brushed a soft kiss on her forehead.

Parker turned her face up to him, silently asking for a kiss to reassure her that he really was still alive. Jarod looked at her for a minute, hesitant to give her what she seemed to want. She was so fragile lately that he was afraid of destroying the newly-rebuilt friendship by starting something that would irrevocably change their relationship forever. Slowly he leaned down and approached her moist lips. He wanted to make her happy; to make her tears go away. Recklessly, he decided to just give her what she was asking for--it was only a kiss, after all.

His lips hovered over hers for a few moments as he brought his hands up to tangle in her long, dark, silky hair. He brushed his lips over hers softly, re-creating, abet from another perspective, their first, innocent, childhood kiss. Parker's arms came up to latch around his neck as her lips covered his, suddenly deepening the kiss. She thrust her tongue into his mouth, pressing closer to him as their tongues began a mutual exploration of unfamiliar territory. Jarod tightened his arms around her, wishing that the moment would never end. Slowly he broke off the kiss, and leaned his forehead against hers.

"Shh. We'll talk about it in the morning, Jarod," she kissed him quickly on the cheek. "Come and keep the nightmares away," she said softly, temporarily leaving his embrace for the warmth of her bed. She scooted over and motioned to him. "Come on, Jarod," she demanded.

Jarod stripped down to his boxer shorts and climbed into bed, smiling as Parker laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. He dropped a gentle kiss on the top of Parker's head and held her close as they drifted to sleep, content in eachother's arms.

"No, NO! " Parker mumbled, thrashing around in her sleep. She could see them coming, and they had him. They'd already killed her son in that damned experiment and now they were after the baby's father. She flinched back from the sight of Raines and Lyle advancing towards him, instruments in hand.

"NO!" came her anguished cry. "Not him," she whispered, anguish in her voice. "Anyone but him--you CAN'T have him!" Parker woke up, screaming as the images of Raines and Lyle attaching wires and leads to Jarod came into her mind. Night after night for the past four months, ever since that fateful day, the dream had come, replaying the horrific images over and over in her mind. Master Parker was dead--accidentally killed in a Centre experiment.

Two days after the funeral, she had found the file that told her the truth. The sweet, little, brown-eyed toddler that loved to run up to her for hugs when she came on her weekly visit was not her brother as they had previously supposed; he was her son, hers and Jarod's. Luckily, he was the only one. Luckily, they had never managed to collect enough of Jarod's sperm to make more than one child. Luckily…

Parker put her hands over her eyes and allowed the tears to flow before remembering who had shown up in her room that night--Jarod. How he had known about the nightmares, she'd never know--she hadn't told anyone. Her fears for his safety were hers alone. Broots had already gotten out when Microsoft had offered him a higher-paying job. As a simple peon, he had been allowed to leave.

Sydney was retiring next month and thinking of moving to Florida. That left her behind to hunt Jarod--and she didn't want to; not anymore. Parker knew that if she left, they'd never stop looking for her--especially if she left with him. It was true that while she was getting older, but there was still a high chance that they could have children, and the Centre would want them. They would want to succeed where they had failed before with Project Progeny, and that involved getting their dirty, slimy, filth-ridden hands on the children of two known pretenders.

Parker laid down again and sighed softly as Jarod's arms came up around her. For the first time in a long while, she felt… safe. It was as if she had finally come home. She knew why--when they were kids, she had snuck into his room more than once through the air vents to sleep in his arms. For almost a year, it had become a nightly ritual and the only way either of them felt safe in an uncertain environment. Jarod and Parker. Parker and Jarod. They had been inseparable in those days.

As soon as his SIMs were finished and she could ditch her tutors, they would be together. To find one was to find the other. It was the one Centre experiment that had yielded positive results. Parker laid her head on his chest and began to nuzzle his neck gently. He was there. Jarod was safe and he was with her.

She ran her hand over his chest, feeling his warm skin and the springy hair that grew there. She curled herself around him and began to stroke his hair. "Stay safe, Jarod," she whispered, over and over, like a mantra. "Don't let them catch you; stay free." Finally, lulled by the sound of his heartbeat and his soft breathing, she drifted off to sleep.

****

Jarod woke to the sound of Parker screaming. He wanted to comfort her, but knew that if he let her know that he was awake to witness her breakdown, she might never forgive him. As she began to cry, he embarked upon the hardest Pretend of his life--pretending to be asleep while she was in pain.

As her sobs quieted and her breathing evened out, he tightened his hold on her and hugged her gently. They had managed to rescue almost everyone they cared about--even Angelo. He was now getting treatment in a private hospital in Vancouver, courtesy of Centre funds. He could live without the rest of his answers, but he couldn't live without her.

She had been his constant for thirty years--how could he ever leave her behind? It would be akin to cutting off his right arm. He needed her. He wanted her. He just hoped that she needed him just as much. Jarod closed his eyes contentedly and drifted off into the first dreamless sleep he could ever remember having. In her arms, he felt… safe.

****

Parker opened her eyes to find Jarod simply looking at her. "Good morning, beautiful," he said huskily, leaning over to brush a kiss on her forehead.

"Jarod. Don't," she said, closing her eyes.

"Don't tell me that you don't want this, don't want us," he growled. "I know you do. What's the matter, Melissa?" he asked, gentler now.

Parker ran her hand through her thick, sleep-tousled hair. "Did you know," she asked softly, changing the subject. "That Master Parker was our son?"

"He was?" Jarod asked, shock on his face.

Parker nodded slowly. "And they killed him--Raines swears it was an accident, but I think they were trying the same damned experiment on him that they used on Angelo." Slow tears began to trickle out from beneath closed eyelids.

She opened her eyes and looked at him. "I swear to you, Jarod. If I'd have known the truth and what they were planning, they never would have had the chance."

Jarod pulled her into his arms, rocking her slightly and letting her cry on his shoulder. He was still a little shocked, but underneath lay a slow, simmering anger. "Come with me, Melissa," he murmured. "Help me destroy them--and stay with me."

"I--can't," she said, sobbing into his chest. "They'll kill both of us."

Jarod stroked her hair and murmured soothing nonsense words into her ear. "No they won't," he insisted. "I've been collecting evidence, and everyone we care about is safe--I even have a few memos that point to Sydney being innocent."

"But the Triumvirate--"

"Will be brought down. I can send documents in to Interpol to take care of them. Come with me, Melissa Catherine Parker."

"Jarod--" she began, only to be interrupted.

"Missy, I love you," he paused for a moment. "Marry me. I've loved you for thirty years--you were my only light in that dark place. Be my light for the rest of our lives. Marry me."

"Jarod…" not knowing what to say, Parker laced her hands behind his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. She probed her tongue insistently past his lips and began to explore his mouth.

The kiss broke off slowly and Jarod grinned. "Was that a yes?" he asked, his eyes twinkling mischievously.

Parker grabbed a pillow and whacked him upside the head with it. "I have a horrific family legacy," she warned.

Jarod shrugged. "So? We'll build a new one."

"I can be a real bitch at times," she said.

He shrugged again. "I know. I love you anyway."

"Your family probably hates my guts," she stated sadly.

"Let 'em. I've got you--what more could a guy want?" A small smile played around his lips.

"But you've been searching for them for six years, Jarod!"

He shrugged again. "If they want rid of me for marrying the girl who's had my heart for thirty years, then I'm better off without them." He frowned slightly. "It's not like they didn't know where to find me, after all. Marry me."

Parker sighed and leaned back into his chest. "Yes," she whispered softly. "I love you, too, Jarod. I always have."

Pure joy sufficed Jarod's face as he leaned down to kiss her slowly. The last thought that entered into Parker's mind as Jarod tugged her closer to him was that this was truly a kiss to build dreams on--dreams that now had a chance of coming true.

The End.