home / season six / episode fifteen / act IV


Barrow, Alaska

Jordan's head sank slowly forward, then jerked upright as he caught himself dozing off.

"Keep moving," he told himself aloud, rising from the stool where he had been examining a cross section of orchid stem beneath his microscope. He was perspiring in the humid room, and thought a change in scenery might help him stay awake. Stumbling wearily to the door, he left the workstation light on, intending to come back to it when he was refreshed.

As he neared the major's room, he eased off his slippers, feeling the cold from the permafrosted ground beneath the station's foundation seep up into his bare feet. His grandfather would be asleep now, if Jordan's observation of his circadian rhythm was accurate. There were no windows in the station, so it was difficult to tell day from night, but they had been there long enough to have fallen into a regular pattern of waking and sleeping that somewhat reflected the sun's passage through the sky.

Only Jordan had not slept in far too long. He couldn't, his dreams disturbed by savage nightmares that could only have one source. Jarod had not called him in days, and their last conversation had been filled with long pauses and distinct unease.

"I'll be out of touch for a little while, son, but don't worry about me. I'll be all right."

"What's wrong, Dad? I know something's going on. I can feel it. Remember?"

Sharp pain, cutting right into his heart, filled the silence between them.

"I can't talk about it now, Jordan. I have some things to figure out. I'll call when I do."

Then the nightmares had come. At first, Jordan attributed them to the psychology book by John Douglas that he had been reading, but the images were too vivid, too real, and not connected to any of the psychopaths the former FBI profiler detailed in his book. Jordan had given up sleeping after the third night, and now the visions were coming whether he was awake or not.

Sometimes they were just foggy snatches, filled with echoed screams. Sometimes he could smell the blood, feel it on his hands. It didn't seem like anything his father could have experienced, but to have that much detail, to be that clear, Jordan suspected that it was memory rather than imagination.

The thought made him ill. Had Jarod gone off the deep end and gone on a killing spree? The teenager remembered his visit to his grandmother months earlier. Margaret's mind was troubled, so much so that she barely had any hold left on reality, when he had seen her. Could the same thing have happened to his father? Could it be a hereditary weakness to which they would all be prone?

He had tried to call, tried to raise his progenitor via e-mail, but there was no response.

Jordan wandered to the front of the weather station, now a comfortable but isolated home. The anteroom that led to the outside was perpetually chilled, and in his pajama pants and bare feet he felt especially vulnerable. He hugged himself against the frigid air, and closed his eyes.

Men held his arms so hard it hurt. A needle jabbed into his arm, and then the cold came, colder than anything he'd ever felt before. He sucked in a gasping breath and screamed it out as his heart began to slow. He was dying, and he knew it.

Jordan jolted back to wakefulness, and found himself kneeling in the open doorway. In seconds, the arctic cold would freeze his skin if he didn't get back to warmth immediately. He slammed the door and ran back toward his room, bumping blindly into this grandfather in the hallway.

"Jordan! What's wrong? I heard you--"

"Something's wrong with Dad," he sobbed. "We've got to help him, Da. We have to find him." He buried his face against the man's chest, his knees barely able to hold him up. "I think someone's killing him. Oh, God! I don't know what to do!"

The older man wrapped his arms around him in a fierce hug, his face grave with worry. "You're cold as ice, Jordan. Let's get you warmed up, and then we'll see what we can do to help your dad." He all but carried the weeping teenager into his room, got into the bed with him, pulled the covers up around them both, and held him tightly until the boy's shivers subsided and he slid into a troubled sleep.

* * * * * * * * *

Evergreen Park
Kane, PA

Seeing Faith standing over him, Jarod wondered if he had finally gone insane.

"Get rid of her," Kodiak ordered. Then he smiled and raked the woman with his eyes. "Unless you want me to do it. All you have to do is let me take over--"

"No," Jarod snapped. "You leave her alone."

Faith knelt down, her hands lightly clasping her knees. For a moment, she just stared, studying him as he lay on his back on the grass. "Who are you talking to, Jarod?" she asked quietly.

He looked up at her, afraid, hardly daring to hope she would understand. "Kodiak Brown," he whispered. "Can you -- can you see him?"

She shook her head slowly. "No. But I feel him, in your soul. He wants out, doesn't he?"

"I said get rid of her," the apparition growled.

Jarod looked beyond Faith to see the figment of his imagination standing with fists clenched, right behind her. He watched Kodiak bend over her, eyes intent and hungry.

"Stop it!" he cried. "I said to leave her alone!"

Faith never flinched, but sat down beside him, taking his hand. "I know how troubled you are. I've been feeling it for days. You're exhausted. When was the last time you slept?"

"Four, five days. Maybe a week. It's kind of hard to keep track."

She nodded. "Then you're probably hallucinating. That would make sense. Are you lucid enough to listen for a few minutes?"

"Hell, yeah. Go for it." His brow furrowed. That was more Kodiak's speech pattern than his own. He forced himself to his feet, bringing her with him and ignoring the debris that began to fall off both of them.

"Did you talk to Sydney recently?"

"I think so. It's… hard to remember."

"He found something. A file, with notes on an experiment Raines and Lyle performed on you shortly before you escaped. They called it Resurrection."

"The cryogenic experiment." Jarod leaned against a tree and closed his eyes. "I've been seeing it everywhere. I can't get away from it, Faith. I don't understand why it won't leave me alone. Why he won't leave me alone."

"Because I'm part of you," replied his nemesis, suddenly leaning against the same tree. "We belong together. She knew that years ago, but I guess she just forgot to say anything. That's a woman for you."

Jarod turned away and began walking, a bit unsteadily. Faith was instantly by his side. "It's the last of your memories from Eclipse, Jarod. That's why it won't go away." She swallowed hard, and sighed as she towed him along. "I never told Raines or anyone else about the wall I built in your mind, but they must have suspected it when the memories never surfaced. They were hoping that, with the trauma of the repeated resurrections, they could revive the darkness they had seen in you that day, and make it permanent."

"They wanted a dark pretender," he said slowly. "Someone with my talent, but without a conscience." He laughed suddenly, but his laughter had an edge of hysteria to it. "And that's exactly what they got. Isn't that rich? Raines succeeded, and he never even knew it."

Images began coming to him, flashing in front of his eyes: snapshots of things he had done, the results of his carefully planned and executed stings. A virologist who believed he was dying of a Level Five virus… a college professor in a coffin of Jarod's own making, being buried alive… a psychiatrist, desperately afraid of water, only seconds from drowning… a kidnapper, nearly choking to death with Jarod's hands wrapped around his throat….

"None of this matters," Kodiak insisted. "You could still be a powerful man, master of your own destiny, if you'd just stop listening to this -- this -- woman…"

"Go away!" Jarod screamed, stopping to lean against another tree and covering his ears. "Just go away!"

Other images came through… a woman on an autopsy table, alive but unable to move… a woman under the influence of a light dose of anesthesia, fearing that some of her skin might be harvested for use on a patient… a woman standing in a pit filling with quick drying cement, terrified that she might be imbedded in it….

That was all his own work. Jarod's, not Kodiak's. Or were they?

Luther Ecksley. That had been a mission of mercy that went horribly awry. Jarod had forcibly removed Ecksley's kidney to benefit his son, and then Luther had died in terrible pain some weeks later.

Jarod stopped suddenly, slipping to the ground and burying his face in his hands. He hadn't understood the source of those stings, hadn't wanted to understand; but the evidence was there. He thought back to the innocent he had been before Eclipse, and knew that man would never have been capable of doing such things to other people, no matter what the provocation. He had been kind, gentle, forgiving, thanks to Sydney's training and his own nature. But after Eclipse, after Jarod escaped from the Centre and went about righting wrongs he saw being covered up, he knew where that need for revenge had originated.

He had been feeding a murderer's fantasies with his own twisted desire for justice.

His hands dropped limply to his sides. "I'm a monster, Faith," he whispered hoarsely. "Eclipse made me into one, and there's no turning back."

"No, you're not," she argued. She came down beside him and reached out to touch his face with her hand, her eyes more intense than he's ever seen them. "Listen to me, Jarod. You're could never be a monster. You're a victim of great evil, but you can't let it rule you. You can't let them win. It's a conscious choice you have to make, over and over until it becomes second nature. You can be strong without going too far. You can find justice without hurting others in the process."

"But what about the people I've already hurt?" he asked helplessly. "What about the damage I've already done? There are so many, I can't even count them--"

"Let it go," she said simply. "Understand that it wasn't you who did those things. Put the blame where it belongs, on Kodiak Brown and the Centre. Forgive yourself. Then move on. I realize it won't all happen overnight. But I have faith in you, and I believe you can make it work."

He wasn't sure yet exactly how to go about it, but he recognized the truth in her words. "Yes," he told her with sudden decision, seeing a glow of satisfaction in her eyes at his response. "That's what I want." He sighed, feeling exhaustion sweep in on him. "But I also need to sleep. I need…"

"There's someone you need to see, too. Sydney's in the hospital."

Jarod's head came up. "Why?"

She hesitated, watching his eyes, measuring how much he could take. "He's had a stroke, but he's stable, and the doctors are hopeful that he'll be all right."

Jarod knew the medical details well enough to understand what could happen. The doctors would be giving him blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot that had attacked his brain. The potential for further strokes of a more devastating nature was increased now. He could have a massive one at any time, and die before Jarod could get there.

Things needed to be said between them. Things needed to be finished and laid to rest, and Jarod knew that couldn't happen if Sydney died. He stood, and started walking again in the direction she had been leading him, taking over now, directing her, his soul filled with purpose. A good purpose.

He knew then that Kodiak Brown wasn't coming back anytime soon.

"Come on. We've got to get there, fast."

"I'll drive," she told him brusquely. "You sleep."

He nodded, his mind clearer now than it had been in days. "Take my car," he suggested, pulling the keys out of his jeans pocket. "It'll be better than the junker you brought."

"How do you know it's a junker?" she shot back with half a smile.

"Well, isn't it?" he answered lightly, meeting her eyes.

She sighed resignedly. "Okay, genius. Which car's yours?"

"Dark green Beamer, parked at the Kane Motel." He reached into his hip pocket, pulled out his wallet, extracted a silver credit card and handed it to her. "Keep this. If you ever need gas money, food or a place to spend the night, there will always be money attached to that card."

Faith stared at the Platinum card for a moment as they stepped out of the trees and into a clearing with more level ground. There was relief in her eyes when she turned them back up to him. "Thank you, Jarod. There have been a lot of times I could have used this."

He touched her cheek fondly with his fingertips. "I know, Faith. Same way I knew what kind of car you were driving." He smiled. "Take me to Sydney, old friend. And I promise to get some sleep on the way, if you'll promise not to get a speeding ticket."

She grinned, a twinkle of mischief in her cobalt blue eyes. "No tickets," she promised. "But I can't promise not to speed. You know how I like to drive fast."

He kissed her on the cheek and led the way back to the motel, his attention focused now on someone else in need, rather than on his own troubles. For the moment, at least, he would be all right. And with time, he would find a way to permanently address the issue of good and evil in his own soul.

* * * * * * * * *

Dover Hospital
Dover, Delaware

There was still no answer on Jarod's private number. Morgan left yet another voice mail and headed back to Sydney's room to wait, but just as she turned the corner of his hallway, she spotted Lyle approaching from another direction. She refused to hurry her step, but felt a surge of panic to get there first, even though Kim was still on duty outside the door.

Morgan was a step behind Lyle when he stopped at the door, and she pushed past him to put herself between him and Sydney's room. "What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded crossly. "Visitors are the last thing he needs right now."

Lyle sneered. "Well, aren't you the motherly type all of a sudden?" He glanced in the door she had inadvertently opened, and saw Broots sitting by the bed where Sydney lay, then nodded toward the hallway. The tech didn't move, but he did look worried. "I said get out," Lyle snapped.

"I didn't hear anything," Parker shot back.

"Neither did I," Broots echoed. His eyes were afraid, but he held his ground.

"Since when did you grow a backbone?" Lyle asked the tech irritably. He crossed his arms over his chest and glanced at Sydney over Miss Parker's shoulder while the tech's fear melted into something resembling anger.

"We don't need you here," Parker told him in a low growl.

Kim stood by at attention, her face impassive, detached, just doing her job.

"You can't exactly look for Jarod while you're stuck here, either," he reminded Miss Parker brightly. "Put a couple of sweepers on the old man and concentrate on your work, sister." He grinned. "Unless, of course, you want me to take over the hunt while your pal here is indisposed. I'd love to have catching Jarod on my resume, since things are going so well for me at the moment."

She chose not to say anything about his recent rash of successes. It seemed he had Blue Files coming out of the woodwork now, and other projects he'd been piloting were coming to fruition, boosting his prowess in the hierarchy. He had his job in the Tower back, and if she wasn't careful, she knew he'd be angling for the Chairmanship.

"I can handle it," she promised hotly. "As soon as we get a sighting on Jarod, I'll be out of here."

Lyle eased closer to her and whispered in her ear. "You know, it wouldn't do if Sydney spilled his guts to the hospital staff."

She got the unspoken reference to endangered security, and glared at him down her nose. "That's why I'm here," she said between clenched teeth.

"Loose lips sink ships," he reminded her, and drew away. "Keep me posted on his condition, will you? We'll move him to Renewal if it becomes necessary."

"Over my dead body," said Broots as he stood up and ambled slowly toward them, his eyes glowing with anger.

Lyle didn't say a word. He just smiled and nodded, and tugged on his glove. His eyes shifted down the hallway, and he stepped back as Valentine came trotting up, eyes gleaming.

"There's been a sighting," the sweeper told him, slowing to catch his breath. "Not far from here."

"Of Jarod?" Miss Parker shot back, reaching for her pistol.

"Not Jarod," Valentine corrected. "Looking Glass."

Parker stretched her arm across the doorway to prevent either of the men entering. "Faith?" She stared at Lyle, then re-holstered her gun with a wry smile. "This one's all yours, little brother."

Lyle suddenly looked nervous. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a photograph with unsteady fingers, showing it to Kim. "Have you seen this woman recently?"

Kim studied the photo and shook her head. "No, sir. What do you want me to do if I she shows up?"

"Put a bullet between her eyes," Lyle snarled, and quickly headed down the corridor to catch up with Valentine.

Broots stepped out of the room, closing the door firmly behind him as he grinned sheepishly down at Kim and stuffed his hands into his trouser pockets with a nervous shrug. "That went well."

Miss Parker heaved a sigh of relief. "Thanks, Kim. I owe you one."

"No, you don't," the sweeper answered gently. "This one was for Jarod, for helping me find my family." She gave a nod toward the door.

Parker smiled. "We're taking good care of your Uncle Sydney. Don't worry about him." She leaned against the wall beside the other woman. "How long do you think they'll be?"

Kim sighed. "As long as it takes," she replied evenly. "Jarod and Sydney have a lot of ground to cover. All we have to do is give them the time they need to finish the trip."

* * * * * * * * *

Dover Hospital
Room 217

Jarod had come into the hospital in a body bag, courtesy of the Coroner's office, so no one watching the entrances would see his face. From the silence of the morgue, he had stolen into the doctor's lounge and appropriated the necessary scrubs and lab coat. Clipping a previously manufactured ID tag onto his lapel, he checked through Sydney's charts at the nurse's station, made notes for additional medications that he wanted administered, and then headed straight for his room, offering a smile of recognition to Kim, standing guard at the doorway.

Just as he stepped inside, Miss Parker had gone out to distract any pursuit that might have been coming, and Broots had given him the last bit of cover he needed as he hid behind the door while Lyle was in the hallway. Jarod turned his full attention to the man in the bed, confident that the trio outside would keep them safe as long as they could. The sight of Sydney lying there, hooked up to various tubes and monitors, had shocked Jarod a little. The man looked older somehow, weary and worn.

"Hello, Sydney," he said softly, as soon as he saw that the older man was awake.

The Belgian jerked his head toward the sound of the familiar voice, his eyes wide with alarm. "Jarod! What are you doing here? You'll be caught!"

He grinned. "Not with Miss Parker fielding the goons for me," he assured the older man.

That seemed to calm Sydney somewhat, and he relaxed against the pillows. "She said she couldn't reach you. How did you know to come here?"

"Faith found me," Jarod answered simply. "She has a habit of doing that. We had a long talk, about a lot of things. He smiled. "And then she brought me here to see you."

Sydney's expression softened. "She loves you, you know."

"I know," the younger man agreed fondly. "I'm one of the few positive connections in her past." He changed the subject. "Looks like you're doing all right, considering."

Sydney shifted uncomfortably on the bed. "From outside my body, I suppose you could say that. However, looking at things from my vantage point, I can assure you that I'm not doing well at all." He held up his left arm, his hand still crooked and cramped. "I'm to start physical therapy in a few hours, to try to repair the damage from the stroke." He sighed and let his arm drop. "But I really don't want to. I'm tired. I just want to rest."

"Now, Sydney, listen to your doctors," Jarod chided. "You have to obey them if you're going to get better."

Sydney turned away slightly, pretending to watch the television. "Maybe I don't want to get better."

Jarod moved to the chair Broots had so recently vacated, and lowered the rail on the side of the bed so he could get closer. "Maybe not. But there are a lot of people who depend on you. Trying to recover is something you do for them, as much as for yourself. Sometimes even more for them than for you." He hesitated. "I saw Kim out there."

Smiling, Sydney shook his head. "She has her father's stubbornness about her. At first, I couldn't convince her to leave the Centre. Now she won't leave the hospital." He sighed, and his smile faded. "You look terrible, Jarod. What have you been up to?"

"Wrestling with the devil," Jarod replied honestly. He rubbed his face wearily. "I've been thinking a lot lately, especially on the way here, about what happened between us. I've walked in your shoes now and then, and I know how hard it was for you, doing what you did. I know, now, how you shielded me from… bad things, as much as you could."

Sydney's brown eyes darkened with pain, more mental than physical. "But not as much as I wanted, Jarod. You were special. You should have…" He shook his head and looked away. "I wasn't there when it was most important."

"I don't blame you for Eclipse, Sydney," Jarod assured him. "They told you it was just another simulation, didn't they?"

"I wasn't told about the drug they'd given you, or about Kodiak Brown. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated simulation, nothing more."

Jarod nodded. "I figured as much." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a DSA disc. "I know the truth about my addiction. Miss Parker made me a copy of your disc." His voice became almost tearful. "You insisted that they put you on the same drug regimen they gave me to enhance my intelligence. You went through the withdrawal on your own, all by yourself, while I had help. That's why you weren't there for me then. Because you couldn't be."

"You were just a boy," Sydney murmured gruffly. "You couldn't have done it alone."

"But you did, Sydney."

"I had to, Jarod. Don't you see? I had to beat it, so I could go back to protecting you."

Jarod nodded. "I know." He smiled then, almost happy with his discovery. Almost.

"There's something you need to see," his mentor told him gently. "Something else you need to know. Look under the bed, Jarod."

The younger man lifted the blanket hanging off the side of the bed, and pulled out a silver metal box. He set it on his lap and lifted the lid. Stacks of drawings, plastic toys, and other items greeted him, all familiar reminders of the years that had passed between the two men. At the top of the stack was the Father's Day card he had made and given to Sydney as the only father he had known.

"You kept it," he whispered, lost in wonder and confusion. "You kept them all." He picked up one paper, slightly crumpled from when Sydney had crushed it and thrown it in the trash. Tears misted his eyes. He couldn't hope, didn't dare. "I thought you threw it away."

"I couldn't. Nor could I let you know I kept it. It wasn't my place to give you that."

"But it was!" Jarod insisted, grasping the other man's hand, careful of the IV tubes. "You were all I had, Sydney. You knew how important you were to me, how I needed you." He blinked back the tears suddenly blurring his vision, desperate not to lose sight of the older man's face. "You said you never thought about being my father, but this…" He glanced at the lovingly preserved card. "What does it mean, Sydney? Help me understand."

For a moment, the Belgian was silent, considering. "It was a necessary lie, Jarod. If anyone knew you felt that way about me, we'd have been torn apart -- you'd have been reassigned to someone who could keep their objectivity. I couldn't afford to let you know the truth for both our sakes. I've always regretted that."

Jarod's voice hitched. "Then tell it to me now. Please. I need to hear it."

Sydney swallowed hard, and a single tear escaped to stroll slowly down his cheek. "I have two sons, Jarod. I have always loved you, and always thought of you as my own."

The Pretender's last vestige of reserve broke. He put his head down against the blankets, and wept. His shoulders shook, and he clutched at the blankets with both hands, squeezing until his knuckles turned white.

Sydney reached out with his right hand, intravenous line plugged into the back of his wrist, and gently stroked the young man's dark hair, offering what comfort he could.

"It's all right, son," Sydney assured him warmly.

Jarod made no attempt to stop his tears, letting his emotions flow freely. When he had exhausted his tears, he wearily lifted his head and tried to smile. "I love you, Sydney. I always have."

Carefully, Sydney stroked the backs of his fingers across the young man's cheek, wiping away the tears. "You have always been a source of great pride and pleasure in my life, Jarod," Sydney assured him. "Especially since you've been out on your own. I… have envied Major Charles his place in your life, though I had no right to."

"You had every right," Jarod told him fervently. "You raised me. You made me who I am." A painful memory flashed across his mind. "Well, mostly. You gave me all the good things I can claim."

Sydney frowned slightly and gently shook his head. "That was already in you, dear boy. I just helped it along."

Jarod grasped his hand and rose, setting the box aside as he stood and leaned over the bed. Carefully, gently, he touched Sydney's forehead with his lips. His heart felt like it might explode. "Get well, Sydney. Please?" He sniffed. "You have to be okay, because I still need you. I'll always need you."

Sydney caught at Jarod's hand, held it to his chest. "You have your real father, now, Jarod. You don't need me anymore."

Jarod held onto Sydney's hand and brought it to his lips. "You have always been my father, in my heart. Now I have two fathers, just as you have two sons. I need you both."

"Take care, son," the older man said softly.

"I'll be all right now, Sydney. I promise."

He headed for the door and opened it a crack. Miss Parker gave him a nod, and he slipped out into the hallway, and was away in minutes, back on the road and driving down the road to a safer place in the next town. He stopped at a service station to fill his car with gas, and pulled an envelope out of his pocket that Faith had given him before zipping him up in the body bag that had been his entry into the Dover hospital.

He opened it, and began to read.

If I'd told you what we were planning, you wouldn't have gone along with it, and I knew how badly you and Sydney needed to see each other. A distraction was required to keep the sweepers busy, so I chose to be the bait to lead the hounds away. Don't worry about me, though. I'm a survivor, just like you are. I'll be fine.


Jarod lifted his eyes to the horizon, hoping she was right. And then he remembered Sydney's words.

She loves you, Jarod.

He considered that simple statement, and how casually he had answered it. He thought about Morgan, and the wall she had put up between them. He knew it would never come down, no matter how he tried to find a way around it. Maybe there was such a thing as Fate, after all. But if that was true, what comfort did life offer him down the road? Would he always be alone?

He glanced down at the neat handwriting with big loops and an even slant, unconsciously analyzing the style. He had never seen an indication of anything more from her than the bond they had developed as children, yet she always seemed to be there when he was in greatest need. Still, he couldn't bring himself to hope that it was anything more than that. His heart had been through too much lately to deal with new questions such as this, and he needed time to heal.

Jarod folded the letter away, tucked it into his jacket pocket, and finished filling the tank so he could continue on his way.

Once on the road again, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed a familiar number.

"Hi, Dad. How's Jordan?" He yanked the phone away from his ear at the shouted chastisement he had been dreading, and prepared himself for a long, but necessary conversation with his father and his son.

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Parker's house

Miss Parker sighed and smiled as she lay down on her bed. She snuggled the pillow close and whispered, "I missed you." Pulling the covers up over her, she settled into place and closed her eyes, ready for her first good night's sleep in days.

The phone rang, and with a growl she tossed the pillow off the bed, swinging her arm around in an arc to land hard on the phone and jerk it to her ear. "What?" she demanded in a frustrated roar.

"How's Sydney?" asked Jarod calmly in her ear.

She could almost see him smiling, and that annoyed her further, but she answered the question honestly. "Much better. He'll be going home soon, and I've arranged for Kim to stay with him as bodyguard and nurse during his recovery. It'll be good for both of them. And apart from a slight limp and some weakness in his left hand, they think he'll be okay." She pushed the hair back from her face and sighed heavily, calming down. This was information Jarod needed to know, and she shouldn't resent keeping him informed. But she was damned tired of him calling her at the most inopportune moments. "He might never be quite the same again, Jarod. He's going to need help getting around, at least for a while, and will be doing physical therapy, which he hates. But he'll be okay."

"That's good to know."

She remembered how Jarod had looked the last time she'd seen him. "How about you? How are you doing?"

"I'll be okay. In time."

She hoped he would have the time he needed. "We didn't have a chance to talk."

"I know. Maybe soon. We should get together again soon."

She closed her eyes and thought of Barrow, of a man both sinfully beautiful and innocently sexy at the same time. Then she remembered something else, another dear face that had been haunted, blue eyes filled with shared pain that Morgan knew she would never feel.

"How's Faith?"

"Got away clean. She's a smart lady."

Morgan sighed, swallowed, and let the words come out effortlessly. "She loves you, you know."

"I know. She loves us both. And Angelo, too. We're all the past she has."

Her throat closed up. She couldn't go any farther with that, couldn't push him any closer. He didn't see it yet, but perhaps in time. And when he did, she had to be ready to let him go.

She just wasn't sure she had it in her to do that. Jarod had already laid claim to her heart when they were children, but the Centre had come between them and damaged them both beyond repair, possibly beyond even love's capacity to heal. He had given Tommy to her as a gift of love, to help her in a way he couldn't manage himself. He had been wise enough to see it even then, living on the run as he did.

But now that he had slowed down, now that she wasn't really chasing him, he had lost sight of the shadow that lay between them, and was trying to pretend it wasn't there. He was a Pretender, after all. He was good at that sort of thing. Only she couldn't ignore the truth.

Maybe, one day, in a more perfect world where the Centre didn't exist, she could learn to trust him again. If she couldn't, though, she had to be prepared to be as generous with him as he had been with her. And out there somewhere was someone she thought might just be able to heal his wounded heart.

She snuggled back down to her pillow, wished him a soft good night and set the phone gently back into the cradle. Then she pulled the covers back over her, closed her eyes, and let the emotional storm of the past few days wash over her.

End of Episode

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