Jordan sat intensely concentrating on the computer screen. All the data
Major Charles needed to do as Ethan asked was there. There was just one
teeny tiny problem: all the research indicated that that this treatment
was going to be tricky, especially since they couldnt exactly bring
Jarod into a hospital. And he had the feeling there was a lot more going
on which Ethan was neglecting to tell him.
Something wrong, son? the Major asked. Theyd made their
way to this hotel room after Major Charles had agreed to do the simulation
that Ethan suggested. It had given him the cold shivers, though. The idea
that Jarod could be in that much trouble was extremely unpleasant.
I dont know. Jordan sighed. The nightmares have
stopped. But I cant shake the feeling that it isnt a good
thing. Its like things feel too good to be true. And we dont
really know that much about Ethan, do we?
I wish there were a way to test things. Charles replied.
I do trust Ethan, but I dont feel that I understand him. He
spent too much time under Raines' guiding hand for me to know how to reach
Didnt Jarod say some kind of inner voices guided him?
Yeah. He also said the voices drove Ethan nuts, he answered.
He seems pretty okay. Jordan placed his head on his hands
and sighed. It isnt like its possible to be involved
with the Centre and not go just a little bit nuts anyway.
The older man grinned. True. Meanwhile, maybe youd better
show me what youve found on the computer.
The man and boy bent their heads over the computer screen.
Ethan expects me to help with that! the older man exclaimed.
Yeah, Jordan answered. When Jarods feelings had entered
his head, Jordans first reaction was to get them out. He didnt
want any kind of psychic link with his progenitor. It was bad enough to
be a clone, without being a reflection of the real thing. But the lack
of any contact with Jarod by phone or e-mail had made everything pretty
scary. Jordan had come to rely on Jarod and he missed him in ways he couldnt
put into words. Its the only way we can get him back safely.
I can help, but I cant do it.
Major Charles looked at the boy. Are you positive this is the only
answer? This goes a little beyond having been a medic in a few skirmishes,
Jordan nodded. Theres no alternative. All other things aside,
once Jarod is free hell be pursued. We cant run the risk of
his coming into contact with the Centre until all traces of the drug are
gone from his system, or he may very well return to them voluntarily.
Yeah. And Ethan did say he was going to have someone else there
to help, he sighed.
All this would have been a lot easier if hed nursed Jarod through
more than just a few colds as an infant.
* * * * * * * * *
Angelo slipped through the ventilation ducts like a rat through a maze.
He was always moving, always in the shadows. Down and further down he
went, past the sensors. Nobody kept track of what went on in the very
depths of the Centre. In the secret tunnel where hed stored the
boxes and boxes of material hed stolen from the Centres archives,
he removed one file and clutched it to his breast. Rocking back and forth,
he said softly, Dead, shes dead now. Hes dead now. All
* * * * * * * * *
Jarod waited patiently for the shot to take effect. He could steal some
time here and there, right after he was first injected. While he didnt
want the time to plan a physical escape, the part of his brain that was
still Jarod sometimes needed to take a mental escape.
His son, his and Parkers son. As horrified as he had been by the
idea that someone had stolen his genetic material again, the idea of having
a child by Parker fascinated him. He had always wanted family, his family.
He couldnt stop thinking about that. Would the boy have Parkers
temper or his? Would he be a pretender or not? What would he be like?
There was a white ranch house with a picket fence. In the yard, a
little boy played with a plastic airplane. A swing set and sandbox were
also there, with toys in the sandbox as though they had been played with
that day. A woman wearing an apron worked in a garden. She kept a close
eye on the little boy, smiling at his game.
Jarod smiled to himself. Even in his imagination he couldnt quite
see Parker being so passive. Shed always need to be accomplishing
something practical. That was her nature.
A man carrying a doctors bag came up the path and let himself
in through the gate.
Jarod saw that it was himself. Parker reached out and kissed him, with
the familiarity of a customary but still passionate relationship. The
little boy ran to him calling out, Daddy! Jarod picked the
boy up and swung him around. More! the boy exclaimed. Jarod
made airplane noises as he swung his son around.
Dont play forever, you two, Parker said. Dinners
almost ready to be taken out of the oven and I dont want it to get
I wouldnt dream of avoiding your cooking. Well go
in and wash right away, wont we? Jarod said. The little boy
nodded and they went into the house. Parker followed them, and set a pizza
and breadsticks on the table. Jarod came in and helped his son get seated
at the table. Parker cut the pizza and put slices on each of their plates.
They ate and both of them helped clean off the table. Jarod and the little
boy went to play video games. Parker sat down next to them, and made comments
about his skill and strategy. Later, they both helped put the little boy
Jarods smile grew broader. He wanted to have a family. This was
a good dream. Hed have to try and remember it.
* * * * * * * * *
Our Lady of Refuge Convent
Her lips moved. Jarod, she whispered. The ache inside couldnt
be stifled by drugs. Shed lost her son, her life. Cradling her firstborn,
she had known that her true purpose in life was to be a mother, to care
for her child. That was the most important thing in the world. Her little
boy had been so clever, too, learning his letters and numbers very young.
Hed had a happy, eager curiosity that made him shine brighter than
anything Margaret could imagine. And it was all gone.
Now all she saw was her little boy, all grown up, the way shed
last seen him in Boston, forced to go on the run. And there had been nothing
she could do to protect him. That was the worst of it, to have been close
enough to see him and be unable to touch him, to help him. That had been
She never let her mind touch her other child, the one that had been poisoned
by the Centre. Harriet was her friend and Harriet had been hurt by Kyle.
She couldnt forget that. She couldnt think of that.
Her mind returned to Jarod. Where was he? How was he?
* * * * * * * *
Mr. Parker's office
Mr. Parker was waiting for his daughter to arrive, standing impatiently
near the window. He handed her an envelope when she neared, her stride
purposeful as usual. And her expression, as usual, was unreadable. It
was getting to harder to know what she was thinking these days, and he
needed that insight.
Heres a job we need you to do as head of SIS. Can you go
and audit our other offices, make sure that security is everything it
should be? Mr. Parkers tone left no doubt that he wasnt
going to listen to excuses.
She crossed her arms, envelope tucked beneath one with hardly more than
a glance at its cover. She sighed, considering. Only if I can take
my team. The head of a unit doesnt do the hands-on work, Daddy.
Her tone was appropriately firm. But the break from routine will
be pleasant. And it never hurts to see whats going on elsewhere.
She offered him a small, tight smile.
My thoughts exactly, he returned with a smile of approval.
Take whoever you need, within reason.
Meaning? Miss Parker asked.
It wouldnt be reasonable to take Jarod, but it might not
be a bad idea to take your brother, he answered. Anything to
get those two out from underfoot for a few days, he told himself.
She was frighteningly efficient, getting in the middle of everything,
and Lyle was just a nuisance lately.
Miss Parker controlled her expression, except for one elegantly arched
eyebrow. Do you have some reason for wanting to get Lyle out of
the way? If so, youd better give it to me. Little brother and I
dont exactly play well together.
She was just too good. He frowned at her. Maybe if you spent more
time together, you would.
Actually, I was thinking about taking Sydney. He could be useful
in checking the truthfulness of the interviews. It never hurts to get
a second opinion, Miss Parker answered.
He knew she didnt trust Lyle. She was too smart for that. But he
wanted Lyle out of the way, and she was the best excuse to accomplish
that goal. Sorry, angel. Sydneys work here is too important.
Take someone else from the same unit, if you like.
Very well. Ill leave tomorrow, she answered. Her glance
at the envelope was doubtful, but resigned.
Have a pleasant and profitable trip, Mr. Parker answered,
returning to his desk. She accepted his dismissal, and retreated without
further protest. As an extra precaution, he checked his e-mail. Yes, everything
was ready for his daughters arrival. She should be kept very busy
indeed, which was just what he wanted.
* * * * * * * * *
He used to escape through music, playing the music over and over in his
mind. Now, happy as he was, he found he still wanted to escape further.
It was as though he needed to remember something that was on the tip of
his mind. What was it? What could it be?
Who was missing in his life? Parker, of course. Shed been
a companion throughout his childhood. He made himself think of the adventures
theyd had, the friendship. Perhaps if he found the perfect solution
hed be allowed to see Parker. He couldnt help Parker if he
couldnt see her. Eve, who helped make him happy, would surely want
to help make Parker happy. Parker was, after all, a part of the Centre.
Slowly, Jarod twisted the facts he knew into something that made him
more comfortable. Miss Parker was his friend. She was a good person. The
Centre made him happy. The Centre was good. Parker had to be part of the
Centre. She had to be part of the good things.
He wondered if he dared to ask Eve to see Parker. Then his thoughts returned
to the task at hand. For now, he needed to work on his assignments. A
part of him wanted to pretend the fascination with work was all a pretend.
Then as the drug took control of him, he forgot what he thought of doing,
engrossed in the task that would keep him here in the Centre, working
to get the drug he didnt want to consciously know he needed.