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Late Night Confessions

by BrightFeather

Spoilers: IOTH

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. This is the sequel to Alone In The Night.

Jarod sat in the semi-darkness of his apartment, staring at the telephone. He wanted to call Miss Parker--her nightmares were just as frequent as his were nowadays. She needed him right now, and he had never been able to sit by and watch while she was hurting. Jarod sighed, reached over, picked up the phone, and started to dial the familiar number from memory.

"What?" came the response from the other end of the phone.

"It's me," he said quietly. "I just wanted to know if you're okay."

"I'm," her voice answered hesitantly, "all right."

"No, you're not," he returned softly, " C'mon, Parker. I know you better than anyone... and you're not okay right now. More nightmares again?"

"Yeah," she answered, trying to hold back the tears.

"Want me to come over?" he asked.

"Jarod, if they catch you here..."

"I know. But they won't," he insisted.

"I could call them," she threatened half-heartedly.

Jarod chuckled. "I know you too well--you won't call them because you want me there to keep your nightmares from coming back... and mine disappear when I'm with you."

"So that's what this is about," she said haltingly, trying to tease him. "You've been hanging around here so that you can get a decent night's sleep, labrat."

"There is that," he acknowledged. "Despite everything, you're still my best friend, Parker. You always have been and you always will be."

"Please, then?" she whispered.

"I'll be right over," he said quietly, disconnecting the call. He had never thought that he'd see the day where she would be so... fragile. Mr. Parker's death had hit her harder then she would admit to anyone. Except him. He knew that he was one of the few people in the world with whom she felt like she didn't have to hide. They were more alike than they cared to admit.

Jarod picked up his coat and headed towards the concealed door of his apartment. He had probably stuck around Blue Cove longer than he should have, but as long as he took extra precautions, it was highly unlikely that Lyle or Raines would catch him. He closed the door behind him, slipped out of the warehouse, and strode over to a nearby clump of bushes that concealed his car.

He climbed into the vehicle headed over to Miss Parker's house, watching carefully for anyone who might be following him. He parked the car behind a concealing stand of trees and carefully slipped into the house and upstairs to Parker's room. "Hi," Jarod said softly, walking over to the bed to sit next to her.

Parker looked up at him, tears brimming in her eyes. "Damn it," she swore softly, "He lied to me my whole life, he hit Momma more than once, and he wasn't really even my father... why do I even still care?"

Jarod reached out and pulled her into his arms, knowing that she wouldn't resist. "Because you loved him," he said softly, "I've watched you struggle, trying to get his approval... his love for years."

She looked up at him as a single tear escaped and began to trail down her cheek. "He never even really loved me... I should be glad that he's gone," she said bitterly. "He separated us... lied about everything, he wouldn't let me see you, and then after you escaped, he made me hunt you by promising that I could leave the Centre after I brought you back." Parker scooted closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder. "If he really loved me, he wouldn't have done any of that."

The tears began to fall faster as Jarod gathered her close to him, wordlessly offering comfort. Her words began to come faster. "If he really loved me he wouldn't have forced me to take my mother's place," she said slowly as a sob caught in her throat. "He wouldn't have come into my room night after night," Parker buried her face in Jarod's shoulder and let her tears flow freely.

"Shhh," Jarod said softly, "it's okay." He tightened his grip on her and caressed her hair gently. He had long suspected something like this--after all, some of her behavior fit the profile of an abuse victim. His mouth tightened in anger against Mr. Parker and he sincerely hoped that wherever he was, he was paying for what he had done to her. "It wasn't your fault," he murmured softly.

Parked laughed a bit hysterically through her tears. "That's just what you said all those years ago when you found me covered in bruises because he found a test that I only got a 97 on... and then he only hit me more when I cried."

"It was true then M--Parker, and it is now," he affirmed softly. "It's the Centre. Neither of us would be stuck with nightmares of what happened to us if it weren't for the Centre." He pulled back from her for a minute, pulled a tissue from his pocket, and gently wiped away the last of her tears as she took comfort from his presence. "I can help you hide, too," he said softly, changing the subject to a familiar argument. "I don't want to see *them* hurt you anymore... I don't want to see you not being allowed to be human."

Parker burrowed closer to him. "I can't leave... not yet, anyway."

She looked up at him pleadingly. "Jarod," she whispered, "Until the rest of our questions are answered, and until we can get Sydney, Broots, Debbie, Angelo, and my baby brother out, I have to stay. You know that... I can't leave the Centre until all the people I care about are safe--and they can't know how close you've been staying to me these past few weeks." Her mouth twisted into a grimace; she knew what would happen if Lyle and Raines knew where Jarod had been spending his nights lately.

"I know," he said with a soft sigh. "I just want you to be safe... and I don't worry as much when I'm here with you." It was a discussion that they had had often in the last two nights. He couldn't help it--not only was she his best friend, but he had long since admitted, at least to himself, that he was more than a little in love with her. As long as the Centre existed, however, exploring anything deeper than friendship was suicidal. Hell, if the powers that be found out about their friendship, both of their lives would be forfeit.

"I understand, but..." she looked up at him, pleading in her soft gray-blue eyes. "It still *has* to be you run and I chase," She smiled at him before leaning back on his shoulder. "I don't want you back in the Centre, so I won't chase very hard," she said with a slightly wobbly smile.

He smiled and started stroking her hair once more. Their relationship had changed again and he would really miss some of the games that he used to play with her. It was like... pulling her pigtails to get her attention. "I could stop leaving clues," he offered quietly. "After a while, they'd call off the search."

Parker tightened her grip on him. "No... please... I don't want to lose you, too! I lose everybody I care about," she said as the tears began to slide silently down her face.

Jarod kicked off his shoes and scooted closer to her on the bed. "You'll never lose me," he promised softly. "You were the only friend I had for a long time and I care about you."

"Jarod," she began, looking at him with tears still shining in her yes, "Hold me tonight?"

"As long as we can keep each other's nightmares from coming back to haunt us, that's what I'm here for," he said, a hint of his usual mischief glinting in his eyes as he stripped off his jeans and socks and climbed into bed beside her. Jarod held out his arms and smiled as she snuggled into his embrace gratefully.

"Thank you," she whispered, laying her head on his chest. "You're my best friend, too. Jarod... will you call me by my first name?" she asked quietly. "You're the only person who really remembers it anymore anyway."

"If you want me to, Meagan," he answered quietly. She wiped her face on his shirt.

"Only where no one from the Centre can hear," she looked up at him, a slight smile on her face. "I have a reputation to maintain, Wonderboy."

"I wouldn't dream of it, Meagan," he said with a chuckle. She laid her head back on his chest, taking comfort from the sound of his laughter rumbling in his chest. She threw her arm around his waist, happy that they had called a truce--at least at night.

Jarod caressed her hair lightly and smiled as her breathing evened out and she fell asleep. He knew that he'd have to leave early and it was long past time for him to leave Delaware. After all, there were more people who needed justice, more pretends to get involved in... and he still had to find his mother. After she was safe with the rest of his family and they'd had a chance to get to know one another, perhaps he could come back and rescue the rest of his 'family'. After all, family wasn't just people you were related to by blood. Before he could finish the rest of his train of thought, he joined Miss Parker in slumber.

Finis.