Paint It Black

Title: Paint It Black.
Author: Mandy
Rating: NC-17
Category: S, crossover.
Spoilers: All of Season 4. 
Key words: JMPR, J/O, slash.
Note: Pretender/Now and Again crossover.   
Summary: Jarod is recaptured by Miss Parker and a trade of information
between the Centre and Dr Morris is arranged.  Michael is confronted
with both his ongoing state of captivity and his feelings for a certain
tall, dark and handsome man...
Disclaimer: The characters and their worlds' don't belong to me, the
words and concepts do.

Paint It Black. 
By Mandy.

"Everybody deserves their freedom." His last words to me echo in the
cool night. Perhaps only in my mind. I stamp my feet in the snow and
tuck my jacket around me tighter. Somewhere nearby the Rolling Stones
play, 'Paint It Black'. Reflects how I feel right now. 

"Everybody deserves their freedom." Such sad eyes, watching me from the
other side of the limo. His handcuffed wrists bruised. 

"Everybody deserves their freedom. Even me Miss Parker." 

"Stop it." I mutter to myself, and shiver under the dim halo of the
streetlamp. Snowflakes drift from above. I hate New York in the winter.

"One last favour, before you go. Then you're gone for good, I promise."
Daddy had said. I look back over at the limo, where Jarod sits inside.
Lucky bastard. I'm sure the heating is delicious. Sam cracks the window
with an electronic buzz. 

"Everything ok, Miss P?" he calls. I nod, waving him off. I hear Jarod
say something, then a low grunt of pain as Sam responds. Don't wince
Parker, it didn't hurt you. I stamp my feet again, wishing I had a
cigarette and wishing I had worn pants instead of a skirt. My nylons
aren't much protection against the cold. 

"Hello darkness." A deep voice behind me intones. 

"My old friend." I reply. There is a beat. 

"Who makes this stuff up? James Bond?" A young male voice jokes. I
frown, turning to face the men behind me. 

"Miss Parker, I believe." Says the taller of the two, an elegant black
man with spectacles perched upon his nose. Behind him stands a younger
man in his mid-twenties, indecently attractive and grinning hopefully.
I ignore him. 

"Dr. Morris. Where is the subject?" I ask coolly. The younger man
stiffens angrily. 

"Miss Parker, meet Mr Wiseman... the subject." Morris informs me. I
turn, eyeing Wiseman critically. 

"Why is he not properly restrained?" I ask haltingly. Mr Wiseman stands
with his hands in his pockets, looking very cheerful for a man who is

property. Dr Morris' expression gathers an edge. 

"Mr Wiseman knows the consequences should he attempt to escape." I nod,
still studying the specimen. I realised long ago that part of what made
the hunt for Jarod hard was I viewed him as an old friend. My mistake
was in viewing him as a person in the first place. 

"Shall we adjourn to my limo? We have much to discuss." I say. I didn't
go to Swedish finishing schools for nothing. Carefully I climb inside,
and I send Sam off with instructions to meet us later. He hesitates. 

"Miss Parker, what about Jarod?" he asks. Like I can't handle Jarod. 

"If Jarod runs I'll shoot him. Don't be concerned about Jarod." I
snarl, and Sam hurries off, leaving room for Dr Morris and Mr Wiseman
to climb into the seats opposite. While I wait for them to get
comfortable, I lean over to Jarod. 

"Make a move and the upholstery is ruined, understand?" I hiss, and
settle my gun on my leg, in plain view. Mr Wiseman stares at it in

"Is that a gun on your leg, or are you just happy to see me?" he cracks

nervously. Jarod chuckles in amusement beside me. I elbow him sharply
in the ribs. 

"My apologies, gentleman, the gun is for Jarod's benefit." I cast a
pointed look at Wiseman, sitting free and easy. "We don't want your
labrat giving my labrat any ideas." 

Morris practically bristles at this. As the limo pulls away from the
curb he takes a long moment to study Jarod, noting the bruises on his
wrists and face. I meet his gaze. I will not back down. A few more days
and I am free. Beside him, Wiseman also studies Jarod. Jarod stares at
my legs. I remember why I wore the skirt. 

"I must admit Miss Parker, I was not expecting the Centre to be so open
to a meeting. I look forward to the exchange of information." Morris
begins politely. But I am in no mood for chitchat. 

"Cut the crap Morris. We both know things went bad between the Centre
and the Pentagon long ago. The only reason you and I are sitting here
now is because we want what you've got and you want what we've got, and
neither of us can figure out a way to steal it." Jarod looks up from my
legs, casts a glance at Wiseman, then moves onto staring at my breasts.
Morris smiles without humour. Wiseman watches Jarod. 

"I know what we've got." Wiseman interrupts softly. He looks up to meet
my eyes unflinchingly. "But what have you got?" 

"Mr Wiseman..." Morris murmurs warningly. I will meet his challenge. 

"Mr Wiseman, meet Jarod. Jarod is, without fail, the smartest human
being on the planet. He is a Pretender, able to become anybody he wants
to be." I declare. I always did have a flair for the dramatic. Jarod
frowns beside me, saying nothing. 'Everybody deserves their freedom,'
whispers in my ear again. Get out of my head you freak. 

Wiseman is beginning to look more an more alarmed. He looks at me, then
at Jarod, at Morris and back to me again. 

"Oh no." he mutters. Morris frowns in confusion. "Doc you're not...
after all this time... you're not going to dump me and grab Einstein's
brain here are you?" he cries. Jarod looks up sharply. I really, really
need a smoke. 

"Mr Wiseman, I can assure you... nothing on this earth would convince
us to give up Jarod's brain. It stays put." I murmur. Wiseman looks
more confused than ever. 

"So what is it you two want off each other?" he asks. I smile. 

"The Centre wants something out of your head, actually. The
transmitter. It far surpasses anything we have designed yet. And Dr
Morris here wants a loan of Jarod. To study him for future projects." I
finish. Wiseman stares. 

"So where are we going now?" I smile tightly, letting Morris answer
that one. 

"The Centre and the Pentagon have agreed to a trade. However, I only
get Jarod for forty-eight hours, and a Centre representative must be
with him at all times. We're going back to the townhouse." 


"Nice place. When do you move the rest of the furniture in?" Parker
remarks sarcastically. Wiseman chuckles in appreciation. I shuffle
forward slowly. My chained ankles don't make anything easy. Morris
closes the heavy door and covertly inputs a code into the locking
system. I memorise the numbers.

Parker is right with her observation. The rooms are bare to the point
of looking sterile. A small pool is the focal point of one such room,
and I stare at the inviting water. Oh to be free and float
effortlessly. Two days in captivity and already I miss such things.
Miss Parker nudges me. I look up at her sadly, and she turns away
quickly. She keeps a firm grip of the chain on my handcuffs though. 

"It was agreed that the tests- and the forty-eight hours- shall start
tomorrow?" Dr Morris confirms. Mr Wiseman removes his jacket and hangs
it up carefully, then tosses a quick, reassuring smile at me. I don't
smile back. Miss Parker nods, then turns to me. 

"We will be staying here tonight Jarod." She says slowly, as if I'm a
child. I understand she's trying to keep her distance, but it hurts

"Perhaps you could release Jarod from his restraints and Mr Wiseman
here could show him around." Morris murmurs quietly. Miss Parker
hesitates for a moment, then nods. Thank god for small favours. She
kneels carefully and unlocks my ankle shackles, then uncuff's my
wrists. Wiseman leads me from the room, showing me to a small but
functional bathroom. I watch the ease with which he walks, possessing a
stunningly attractive body that doesn't belong to him. Beautiful
indeed. In the background I can hear Morris and Miss Parker discussing
something with great intensity. 

"I thought you might want to wash up. You can call me Michael, by the
way." Wiseman whispers. 

"Thankyou Mr- thankyou Michael." I whisper back. Gratefully I make use
of the facilities, sighing in bliss as I splash water on my face and
hands. Its been a long two days. I emerge from the bathroom to find
Michael waiting for me. He shows me to the gym, explaining in a warm,
quiet voice that he works out here everyday. I nod. Michael seems
caught in a moral dilemma, he stands on the gym floor hesitating for a
few moments. Eventually, something wins out. 

"Is it true? What she said? Are you the smartest man?" he asks in a low

"Yes. And I suppose its true that they harvested your brain from
another body and put it in this one?" Michael nods and smiles, a
beautiful smile too. 

"We make an odd couple then, don't we? Get some spandex costumes and we
could be superheroes. You can be Captain Brain and I'll be Mr Strong."
he mutters, and laughs at his own joke. I smile sadly. 

"Jarod?" I can hear Miss Parker call. I turn quickly and head for the
sound of her voice. Pissing her off and getting shot isn't very high on
my agenda right now. Michael lopes after me easily, while I walk
somewhat painfully. Sam packs a hell of a punch. 

I find Parker standing beside a double mattress that's obviously been
set up in a bit of a hurry. On the other side of the pool I can see a
similar bed in a raised area, obviously Michael's. Her gun and bag are
no where in sight, and she is wearing rather shapeless red satin
pyjamas. She gazes at me coolly. The Ice Queen cometh. 

"Where's the Doc?" Michael asks. Parker doesn't take her eyes off me. I
check out her legs, just to annoy. 

"Dr Morris left. He will be back at seven tomorrow." She throws me a
bundle of clothes. "Go change." I bow my head, the picture of
submission, and limp off towards the bathroom. 

"And Jarod?" she calls after me. "Don't worry about the door. I had Dr
Morris change the codes before he left." 

Any hope of escape I had dies with her words. The only chance I have
left is Michael... who is just as much a prisoner as I am. I change
quickly, trotting back downstairs in time to see Miss Parker smiling at
something Michael has said. Jealousy flashes through me, hot and
painful. I pause, a few feet away from them, and watch Michael with
suspicious eyes. What if he is one of the enemy after all? The Centre's
conspiracies know no bounds. 

"I should go to bed." Michael says, breaking the uncomfortable silence
that has fallen. He smiles, uncertainly, at both of us in turn, then
turns and jogs up to his own bed. Miss Parker beckons me closer, and
carefully attaches one bracelet of the handcuffs to my wrist and one
bracelet to hers. She tugs, painfully, until I follow. 

"We're... we're sharing?" I ask nervously as we get closer to the bed.
She casts me a disdainful look. 

"Like I'm going to leave you to your own devices." She mutters, and
clambers up onto the bed, pulling me along beside her. She lays down,
turning away from me, leaving only the handcuffed wrist away from her

"Goodnight!" calls Michael. Two minutes later the lights click out.
Silence falls heavy. 

"Go to sleep Jarod." Miss Parker murmurs, her voice a little more

"Even Michael has more freedom than me." I whisper. Miss Parker raises
her head, the coldness is back again. 

"Go to sleep Jarod." 


"I'm going to increase the speed now Jarod. Do you feel comfortable
with that?" Dr Morris asks. Jarod nods, his eyes trained on the far
brick wall as he picks up the pace on the treadmill. Electrodes hang
from his sweat covered body. Miss Parker sits near by, leafing through
a magazine. 

"I wish I had of been in this sort of shape at forty." I mutter, eyeing
Jarod's broad shoulder's and strong arms. 

"And this is all because Jarod maintained the diet we've put you on for
most of his life." Doc mutters to me. Whatever. Still doesn't beat
bacon and eggs. 

"He's forty-one. We think." Miss Parker calls. Jarod's mouth tightens
in anger. The Doc turns around in surprise. 

"You're not sure of his exact age?" he asks. Miss Parker pauses from
her magazine. 

"It was decided that Pretenders should be unaffected by the outside
world. This is included birthdays. Until four years ago, Jarod was
completely free from contamination." She says the last word like it's a
disease. Contamination from what? Other humans? Morris tilts his head
in confusion. 

"Four years? What happened four years ago?" he asks. Something I've
been wondering myself. I have a moment of pity for Jarod, obviously
furious. He triggers something in me. Companionship, perhaps? 

"He escaped. He was recaptured just two days ago. I myself oversaw his
recovery." Parker responds, and returns to her magazine. Quick as a
flash, Jarod slams his hand down on the emergency stop button, tearing
the wires and

electrodes from his body in fury. He rounds on all of us, his heated
gaze directed at Miss Parker. 

"Damn you Parker, damn you to hell!" he growls, stepping forward.
"Don't treat me like an animal when you're no better than me, than any
of us!" Parker stands, drawing her gun and training it on his heart. 

"Restrain yourself Jarod, or I will do it for you." She tells him.
Jarod laughs bitterly. 

"You wouldn't kill me Parker. You may be a bitch, but you're not a
killer!" he takes another step forward. The Doc casts me a look, like I
should be doing something. I'm having too much fun watching to
interfere though. It's like a soap opera. 

"You're right Jarod, I wouldn't kill you." Miss Parker says menacingly.
Her gun drops lower, trained on his leg. "But I will shoot you if you
don't get your ass back on that treadmill. What will it be, Jarod, your
leg or your pride?" 

"Enough! Miss Parker put away your gun!" the Doc thunders beside me.
Miss Parker gets a stubborn pout on her face. In a way she almost
reminds me of Lisa. A way, way nastier Lisa who carries a gun. Parker
puts away the gun, and Jarod slumps away in defeat, throwing himself on
a bench. The Doc steps forward, calm and collected in Armani. I know
him well enough now to see that underneath the cool demeanour he is

"Mr Wiseman and I are going out to get some lunch for us all. I
suggest, in the meantime, that you two settle your differences. May I
remind you, Miss Parker, that the trade outlined we have use of Jarod
for thirty-six hours. This involves Jarod being fully operational,
having use of all limbs and all vital organs, and being strictly under
*my* control! You two bickering like school children is unacceptable!
Lets go, Mr Wiseman." He storms, and leads the way out. I snare my
jacket on the way, stepping out into the chill air. Outside, the Doc
pauses, taking several deep breathes. 

"You know, their arguments make ours look like lovers quarrels." I
joke. We begin to walk. I see a hotdog stand on the horizon, and start

"I *despise* Centre operatives." Morris mutters beside me. 

"Then why deal with them?" I ask. We turn a corner. The hotdog fantasy
goes out the window. 

"Sometimes it is necessary, if only to keep up good relations. The
Centre is a very dangerous organization, and the government likes to
stay on their good side." There is a pause in the conversation. 

"But how powerful can they be? Why not just send a few CIA or FBI or
NSA- some damn government suits- to knock on their door, how you doing,
wham, bam no more Centre?!" the Doc sighs like the answer is obvious. 

"Because, Mr Wiseman, the American government has two very simple
reasons for leaving them alone. First of all, the Centre, although
dealing with things in a most distasteful manner, has had some
extraordinary results. And second of all," Morris pauses, adjusting his
glasses, "They hold more power than the American government ever

I stop dead in my tracks, trying to ignore the bakery I'm standing next
to. Did he just say what I think he said? The Centre, an organization I
personally have never heard of, has more power than the massive
institution such as the one that created me? The one that spent *three
billion dollars* creating me? Morris continues. 

"You must remember Mr Wiseman, information is power. The government has

information on how to run countries, how to fight wars and feed
millions. This is a big country, we have a lot of information...but we
have knowledge that directly applies to successfully maintaining a
nation. Even you are a part of that, as you help to uphold this nations

"Organizations like the Centre aren't bound by these needs. They gather

information for the sole purpose of gaining power, Mr Wiseman. Our
government supports them to have a little piece of this power. But
that's not the only thing to be worried about. You see, we are but one
nation, allied with others admittedly, but when it comes to most things
we stand alone. The Centre is *global* Mr Wiseman. They have the
support of the American government, the German government, the
Japanese, the Chinese, the Russian, the British, the Australians, every
major player in the world! The American government is massive, and
perhaps eventually that will be a part of their downfall, because
although small, the Centre is infinitely more powerful." 


My favourite labrat is obscenely happy as we head back to the
townhouse. My revelations may have left him shell shocked for a few
minutes, but that passed when I led the way into a McDonalds. I was
feeling kind. I may live to regret it. 

Under my arm is tucked a few paper sacks full of sandwiches, Mr Wiseman
carries a cardboard tray with a few cups of coffee on it. He's grinning
like the proverbial Cheshire cat, having consumed two big Macs and a
chocolate thick shake while I looked the other way. So to speak. I've
never seen a man cram food into his mouth that quickly before. 

"Wanna place bets?" he asks as we mount the shallow steps to the
townhouse door. 

"On what, Mr Wiseman?" I say as coolly as possible. Distance is the

"Which one killed the other?" 

I ignore his comment, opening the door and heading to the gym. We both
stop in shock. This is not at all what I expected. Jarod remains on the
same bench we left him on... but now he is handcuffed there. His arms
are drawn over his head, the muscles in his arms straining... however
he doesn't seem to be complaining. Miss Parker is draped over him, her
gun at his head. And her mouth sealed to his. They're kissing like it's
a dying art. 

"What the...?" Wiseman mutters. My sentiments exactly. Miss Parker
raises her head at the noise, her face flushed and her lips swollen.
Jarod pants under her. She stands, awkwardly, and smooths down her
skirt. Flashes a predatory smile, tucking her gun into the waistband of
her skirt. 

"We, uh, sorted out our differences." She explains, laughing slightly.
Jarod turns his head away in something I could swear is anguish. 

"I'll say." Wiseman ventures. His grin of ecstasy has worn off,
replaced with shock and mild amusement. We cast knowing glances at each
other. I knew there was something else behind the anger. Miss Parker
watches both of us for a moment, then kneels beside Jarod, withdrawing
the key to the handcuffs from somewhere inside her top. Most likely her
bra. She undoes the steel bracelets almost apologetically, helping
Jarod to sit up and smoothing back a stray lock of hair. That almost
looks like tenderness. Perhaps there is a warm heart behind the ice
after all. Jarod, however, looks angry, jerking away from her hand.
Miss Parker sets her mouth in a thin line and turns away. 

I let Mr Wiseman absorb all this. I have my own agenda in bringing
these Centre agents here. Show him how cruel fate could have been. A
subtle message I know he will pick up. Perhaps now he will be more
thankful for my lenience. 

"We brought you some lunch." I say quietly, interrupting the little
scene. Miss Parker nods, taking the paper bags and coffee from us. She
passes a cup and a bag to Jarod, who dives in eagerly, pulling out
sandwiches and devouring them. She takes a peek in the second bag,
throwing it next to Jarod in disgust. A Twinkie tumbles out. I hide a
smile. My treat to Jarod. In the third bag she finds more sandwiches,
and perches on the edge of a chair to nibble at them delicately. Mr
Wiseman eyes the Twinkie that lies beside Jarod. 

"Don't even think about it." I whisper. He pouts beside me. Miss Parker

approaches me warily, half eaten sandwich in hand. 

"Doctor Morris, may I have a word?" I nod, leading her away, towards
the pool. I wait patiently while she fights a losing battle. 

"About... about what you saw... between Jarod and I..." she murmurs.
This hurts her, I can tell, she wants to fight and scream and yell to
get her way.

"Yes?" I encourage. She takes a deep breath. 

"I would appreciate it if... if that little incident did not get back
to anyone else at the Centre." Parker says, and suddenly becomes
fascinated with the ring on her finger. I smile, tight and cruel. 

"Why, scared you'll lose your job?" I'll watch her squirm, I will.
Nobody deserves to be treated the way she treats Jarod. 

"No." She whispers. Didn't think so. She raises her head. And I'm
wrong, I'm horribly wrong. She's crying a bit, a few tears not quite
being shed. 

"I'll lose my life. And Jarod... Jarod would suffer a fate worse than
death." She chokes a little now, fiercely wiping the tears away. She's
strong, Miss Parker. 

"Jarod and I... are complicated. We share a lot of history, and that
can't ever be erased. That's why I'm cruel and callous with his
feelings, Doctor Morris, but he'll suffer more than indignation at the
Centre. I can't let myself be his friend, because I won't watch another
person I care about suffer because of me." She finishes, almost angry,
at me or the world I can't tell. 

"Rest assured, Miss Parker." I say, desperate to comfort this puzzling

"I'll never breathe a word." 


 "I'm going to monitor your reactions to certain stimuli.  Just lean
back and relax, Jarod, I will do the rest." Dr Morris tells Jarod.
Jarod nods slowly, clutching a Twinkie with one hand, an IV hanging out
of his wrist.  I notice Wiseman has got a hold of one of the sweets
too.  Jarod's hooked up to some sort of machine, electrodes hanging
once more from his temples and body. One screen shows the steady rate
of his heartbeat.  He is half reclining in a chair, wearing only the
jeans he came in, facing a big screen. 

"The lights please, Mr Wiseman." Dr Morris instructs.  Jarod casts a
furtive glance over at me.  His eyes are soft and appealing, and as
Wiseman hits the lights they shine at me in the darkness. 

"Pay attention please Jarod." Morris murmurs quietly.  Jarod looks at
the screen.  Mr Wiseman moves to sit beside me, grinning. 

"What are you so happy about, Captain America?" I hiss.  His smile only
gets bigger. 

"This is the most fun I've had in weeks.  Normally I'm bored out of my
brain." He whispers back.  Something flashes on the screen, something I
don't catch, and Jarod flinches.  Morris studies the information that
comes from the graph, its little scribbling pens scratching in the

"I'm glad we're proving to be such great entertainment for you." I
mutter. Wiseman chuckles beside me.  Some sort of mathematical formula
flashes brightly. Jarod frowns. 

"All I'm missing is the popcorn." Wiseman cracks beside me.  I turn to
look at him, and something else flashes on the screen.  Jarod makes a
soft little noise, like a whimper of pain.  Morris is frowning over his
readouts, and I can see Jarod's heart rate speeding up slightly.  The
flashes are giving me a headache. 

"I can guarantee there'll be no making out in the back row of this
Technicolor experience." I mutter back.  Wiseman laughs, interrupted by
Jarod's soft yelp as Hitler appears.  Morris looks up as Jarod begins
to shift with discomfort in his chair. 

"I don't want do this..." he murmurs, almost to himself. 

"Pay attention Jarod!" Dr Morris demands.  Wiseman loses his smile as
Jarod squirms, his gaze locked on the visions that appear.  A bloody
child. Doctors around a patient.  A chained circus elephant. 

"Hey Doc." Wiseman calls in alarm, watching the heart monitor speed up.
Morris ignores him, poring over the readouts.  An EEG, I remember its
name now.  Christ on the cross.  Moslems throwing rocks at tanks.
Pearl Harbour. 

"Doc he's freaking!" Wiseman stands up, and Jarod cries out.  I've seen
this before.  Jarod holds an instant empathy to things he is focused
on, truly focused on, and the feelings he's having are obviously
intensified by whatever drug Dr Morris is pumping into his system.  The
more pain and suffering he sees on the screen above him, the more
sensitised he becomes to it. 

"This is incredible!" Doctor Morris cries, not hearing the things that
are happening around him.  Wiseman dashes towards the projector,
reaching to pull the plug out of the wall.  A picture of Lyle, my most
despised brother, flashes up.  Jarod groans hoarsely, and the room goes

Jarod sobs quietly, and I don't know what to do.  I step forward, my
hands useless as they hover over his body.  I let one settle on his
shoulder, my own attempt at comfort. 

"Kyle.  Kyle!" he whispers, brokenly. 

"You acted prematurely Mr Wiseman." Doctor Morris growls.  Jarod
reaches for me, extending one hand to clasp at mine. 

"The guy was about to have a seizure!" Mr Wiseman yells.  He turns on
the lights, and Jarod sits up, tugging me closer to rest his head on my
hip.  I stare in surprise at him, only half listening to what is
happening behind us. 

"I had it under control!  You simply need to learn a little restraint!"
Morris yells. 

"He killed my brother Parker." Jarod whispers, and I nod, moving my
hand from his back to stroke his neck. 

"Restraint?  I *know* restraint!  I know restraint every time I walk
away from my wife, my daughter!" Wiseman yells.  I look over at him in
surprise. The subject has a family? 

"My baby brother." Jarod mutters. 

"And that restraint fails you every time I let you off your leash.
Always remember, Mr Wiseman, I am in control!" Morris says quietly,
dangerously.  I realise now is the time I must intervene. 

"You're wrong, Doctor Morris.  Jarod is Centre property, and as the
Centre's representative I say what goes.  It is my responsibility to
return Jarod undamaged, and that includes damage of the psychological
variety. Showing Jarod pictures of his brothers killer and my twin is
not helpful.  Testing in this vein shall halt immediately or we shall
withdraw from the trade." I state coldly.  I must look a sight, saying
such frozen words whilst clutching a distraught Pretender to my hip. 

It seems for a moment that Morris will challenge my words.  He glances
back and forth between me, Jarod and Wiseman, who's expression has
turned appealing. 

"My apologies, Miss Parker, Jarod.  I was out of line.  I'm afraid I
got caught up in the excitement of the test results and was blind to
how upset Jarod was." 

He pauses, swallowing his pride with difficulty.  "Perhaps we should
take a small interval." He suggests.  I nod, slowly.  Mr Wiseman sighs,
walking away, and Dr Morris watches him go. 

"Once again, my apologies.  I would not wish to endanger our trade." He
murmurs again before leaving, perhaps to soothe Wiseman's pride.  Or
his own. 

I look down at Jarod, who stares vacantly at the floor.  I realise once
again I've moved on his behalf, to spare his feelings, to spare him
pain. Perhaps I'm getting soft.  God knows this afternoon was an
unfailing example.  I felt like a Grade A bitch making that comment
when the Doctor and Mr Wiseman walked in.  I'm always trying to protect
myself, making people believe I have no feelings. I don't understand
what made me kiss him in the first place.  One moment we were fighting
and I was threatening him, forcing him into submission with my gun and
the handcuffs.  And then I was kissing him.  A passionate kiss, truly,
but I still can't understand what drove me to it.  This will only make
it all the more harder to leave him behind.  'Everybody deserves their
freedom' whispers in my ear. 

I kneel down beside Jarod, and he draws away from me with tearful eyes.
He reminds me of a child at times like these.  Gently I peel the
electrodes from his face and body, ignoring the humming machines around
us.  Jarod sniffs, swiping his hand across his eyes.  I must protect
myself once more. 

"Get up Jarod, you're ruining my suit." I say, but softly, gently,
letting him know that the moment is over.  He smiles a bit and pulls on
his shirt, turning his back on me.  Embarrassed most likely.  I study
the tears in his shirt.  Sam was a little rough on him.  These are the
same clothes Jarod was captured in, and asides from the sweats I
brought for him to sleep in, he's been wearing the same clothes for
three days now.  Showering and soap can only help so much when there's
nothing else to wear. 

"Come Jarod.  We're going on an excursion, my treat." 


"I like the black." I state defiantly.  Miss Parker rolls her eyes. 

"I like the red.  Seems as I'm paying, you don't have much choice in
the matter." She replies, flinging a wool knit sweater, red, over my
arm, atop the growing pile of clothes.  I jiggle my hand, causing the
chain of the handcuffs to rattle together.  A woman next to us looks
up.  Parker frowns, but I'm still feeling the warm effects of the

To anyone else we look like a normal couple shopping together.  In
reality we're handcuffed together, and we've either been holding hands
and standing very close, or I'd tuck both of our joined hands into the
wool lined jacket I borrowed from Michael.  Miss Parker brought me to
39th street, a small boutique called Arkans, to get new clothes. 

"It's no Gucci but it'll do." She'd told me.  I feel like a Ken doll,
the way she's going to be dressing me up.  The handcuffs make trying
anything on an impossibility. 

"Won't Dr Morris be upset that we're out during his forty-eight hours?
I remind her bitterly.  Miss Parker pauses from a cashmere scarf. "Last
I checked he was happy going over that blood sample he drew this

He should be fine until tonight." I frown as she adds the scarf to the
items balanced over my arm. 

"What's tonight?" I ask.  She sighs.  That's a signal.  It means I-
won't-tell-you-find-out-for-yourself.  End of conversation.  I squeeze
her hand in the warmth of my jacket.  She elbows me in the ribs.  I

"This will have to do." She announces, leading the way to a service
desk.  The girl serving smiles winningly at us, seeing the range of
expensive clothing we're buying.  Parker digs in her purse one-handed,
her fingers hovering over a few different credit cards.  I read the
name on the American Express she gives the girl.  Miss J Lee.  Not
bloody likely. 

Stepping outside into the cool twilight, Miss Parker opens a bag.  She
twirls the grey cashmere scarf around my neck. 

"When we get back you can put on the hipsters." I stare at her blankly.

"The pants.  They should look good on you." I nod dumbly.  She thinks
about what would look good on me? 

"I think its way past time you got over that black obsession." I tune
out here. Hearing Parker's opinions on fashion has never been a great
ambition for me.  I watch the people around us instead, clutching
Parker's hand to me.  We head for the subway, a few blocks down. 

Snow drifts down in tiny flakes, little powdery specks landing on the
people around me and making them sparkle.  I smile to myself.  And then
I see it.  See him. Oh-no-oh-no-oh-no!  I push Parker into a doorway,
using my back to shelter both her and my face. 

"What the hell are you doing!" she hisses, yanking her cuffed hand out
of my pocket. 

"Standing on the other side of the street, coming over.  Joe Jawad, I
had him put away two years ago.  He was sending hate mail to the police
station I had been operating out of for six months, looking for me.
He's insane, the jury should have put him in an asylum." I whisper.  I
lower my head, nuzzling her neck like a lover so she can see over my

"Dark hair, black eyes in the leather jacket?" she asks, letting the
bags in her hand drop to the ground.  She puts her hand on my shoulder,
moving her mouth close to my ear. 

"He's coming over... he's talking to somebody, not ten feet away." She
whispers. I place the bags I hold onto the ground, using my free hand
to draw her closer. "They seem to be arguing." Miss Parker informs me. 
I nod, absent-mindedly drawing circles on her ribs.  I keep my face in
her neck, using my extra height and the width of my shoulders to shield
us both from view.  The doorway is deep, leaving us mostly in shadow,
the people walking by oblivious to our actions. Two lovers, they should

"He looks very angry." Comments Parker.  "What did he do, exactly?" she
asks. "Little girls.  He 'did' little girls.  A lot of evidence was
suppressed though, he only got a short sentence.  The DA's fault." I
mutter, frowning at the memory.    I slide my hand to her hip, then
lower, sneaking it round so my hand rests on her butt.  Parker gasps
quietly, her fingers tightening on my shoulder. 

"Where was this?" her voice is a little breathy.  It seems I have an
effect on her after all.  I squeeze. 

"Philly.  God knows what he is doing in New York."  Her breathing is a
little erratic as I fondle her ass, giving me courage.  I lick her
neck.  She grunts in surprise, curling her fingers into the hair at the
base of my neck.  I hold my breath, sliding my hand up her back to the
waistline of her skirt.  She stiffens as I grip her gun, slowly
withdrawing it from its holster. 

"You bastard!" she hisses, dropping her hand from my neck to between
us, attempting to struggle away from me.  I bring the gun between our
bodies.  "You probably don't even know the man!" 

"Don't be a fool!" I growl.  I press the gun into her hand and she
looks up at me in surprise.  "If I were to attempt to get away now,
he'd see me with you.  I wouldn't put you in danger like that..." she
stares into my face for a moment or two, a look of utter shock on her
face.  She is distracted by something behind me, and tugs me close

"Duck your head!  They've moved closer!" she murmurs urgently.  I press
my face back into her neck, and she buries her face in my shoulder.
She slides the hand with the gun under my jacket, holding it flat
against my lower back.  I can actually hear the muted voices of Joey
and his companion behind us.  I push us further into the corner,
thrusting my knee between Miss Parker's legs. I put my hand back on her
ribs, tucking her body into the arch of mine.  Our bodies are fused
together intimately, and despite the danger of the situation, I'm
becoming aroused. 

As my erection begins to press against Parker's belly, I hold my
breath, waiting for her reaction.  I know she is just as turned on as I
am.  The voices behind us grow quieter, signalling Joey and his pal
have moved away.  I wait, tense. She surprises me, pulling me closer as
she rests against the wall behind her. Then she grinds herself against
my leg.  I release my breath in a ragged sigh, pressing our bodies even
closer.  Miss Parker is breathing short, shallow breaths, rocking her
hips, thrusting her pelvis against my thigh.  Her skirt is riding high
on her legs, creeping up. 

I take another step, cupping her breast in my hand.  I squeeze, perhaps
a little too hard, but she seems to like it.  A little cry escapes her
parted lips, muffled on my shoulder.  I tug on her nipple with my thumb
and finger, then soothe it with my palm. 

"Jarod..." she whispers, almost inaudibly.  I squeeze her breast again
and she whimpers. 

"What?" I whisper back.  Her skin is hot against my face, and I suck
gently at her pulse. 

"Fuck me..." she begins.  I gulp, shocked. 

"Here?" Parker sighs again. 

"...With your fingers." She finishes.  I still for a moment, and she
rubs sensuously against my erection.  I let my hand skitter across her
breastbone, sliding down her muscled stomach.  I pause with my fingers
tucked at the waistline of her skirt. 

"The zip, at the side..." Parker hints.  I nod, undoing it halfway.
Then I take a deep breath.  Now or never. 

She's wearing some little scrap of silk for panties, and must be
wearing a thigh high stockings.  I slide my hand down further, feeling
the wetness there. Parker hums against my shoulder and shifts against
my hand, bringing me into closer contact with her silky skin.  I slide
my fingers down, almost quivering with excitement.  I bring my thumb
around, finding the hard little nub of her clitoris and rubbing gently,
and Parker mewls against me. 

"Don't stop." She whispers, and I nod, biting at the skin on her neck
then soothing it with my tongue.  I thrust one finger inside of her and
she sighs, tilting her hips for better access.  She's panting now, her
breath hot and heavy.  I continue to stroke with my thumb, adding
another finger to the one that thrusts inside of her. 

Parker is close, I know, and I speed up the rhythmic motions of my
hand.  Her body rocks in time, helping her to achieve her own pleasure.
She's wet and warm and tight, and I can feel my hard on straining
against my jeans.  Her cuffed hand clutches at my chest and she
suddenly bites down hard on my shoulder, and I can feel little spasms
ripple through her body.  She tenses, her body arching and shuddering
as her orgasm rips through her. 

I support Parker as she collapses against me, ignoring the ache in my
shoulder where she bit me as I withdraw my fingers.  Fumbling, I do up
the zip on her skirt.  She peeks up at me as I carefully lick my
fingers clean, savouring the taste of her body.  She chuckles slightly.
Flushed, she backs away from me, tucking her gun back in her holster. 

"Joey, is he...?" I begin anxiously.  Parker smiles wryly. 

"Left five minutes ago." She confesses.  I smile a little, and she
smiles back.  

Just like old times.  Except with a bonus. 

"We'd better get back." She mutters, and I help her straighten her
clothes, doing up my borrowed jacket to hide the evidence of my still
burning arousal.  

Together we walk down the street towards the subway.  To anyone else I
look like a normal man with his girlfriends hand tucked in his jacket
pocket and their shopping hanging from his hand.  A normal man who just
got his lover off in a dark little doorway in the middle of Manhattan. 
I smile again.  Parker catches my pleased smile. 

"Who knows Jarod..." she murmurs, staring off into the distance,
"Perhaps,*one* day, *if* you're lucky, I just *might* return the


"You did it on purpose, didn't you?" I ask, and I can tell I'm on the

"Did what, Mr Wiseman?" the Doc pauses from his task to ask.  He's
doing something with a few laptops, and I can see more electrodes ready
for use. 

"You pushed Jarod that far on purpose.  To get to me." I state.  I nod,
I'm definitely right. 

"Not everything revolves around you Mr Wiseman." He says mildly, and
returns to tapping at his keyboard.  I smile wryly.  Son of a gun. 

"But this did.  A little lesson to show me how truly hospitable the
great American government has been.  You know, letting me run around
like a good little superhero while he suffers." He's smiling, I think. 

"Whatever you wish to believe, Mr Wiseman." He murmurs.  I turn to head
back to the gym, to finish my workout. 

"Hey Doc?" I ask, hearing the door downstairs open.  Miss Parker has
the code apparently. 

"Yes Mr Wiseman?" 

"Thanks." This time I know he's smiling. 

I begin lifting weights, grinning as Miss Parker and Jarod enter. Jarod
has this dark little smile on his face, almost smug.  Miss Parker is
also looking very satisfied with herself.  These two have obviously
been having fun. They both place their bags on the ground and Parker
fumbles around until she finds the key to the handcuffs.  Jarod seems
reluctant to let her go, but rubs his wrists nonetheless.  Slowly he
rests two of his fingers on his lips, thinking I'm not looking, and
licks them.  Parker flushes a deep shade of crimson and turns to bury
herself in a few of the shopping bags.  Jarod watches her ass with a
sleepy sort of appreciation. 

"Here.  Go change.  You're starting to smell." She growls, thrusting
some clothes at him.  He winks at her and bounds up to the bathroom to
change.  His limp from the day before is gone. 

He's left the bathroom door open, and I can see him dragging the shirt
off his body in the mirror.  He drops his pants and I look away.  He's
probably not even aware that I can see him.  He's very tanned, and
muscular too.  Broad shoulders. I look up again and he's pulled on a
pair of pants, his chest still bare.  He looks up into the mirror,
catches my eye.  And winks at me.  I almost drop the weights.  I look
away, mortified.  He knew I was watching him! 

"He's a very beautiful specimen, isn't he?" Miss Parker whispers into
my ear.  I jump, not realising she had been so close.  She's smiles a
little predatory smile at me. 

"He is, of course, unbiased by society.  He's sees no difference
between loving a woman and loving a man.  Sexually ambiguous, you might
say." She murmurs.  I shake my head, not quite sure what she is

"I'm not... I mean, I have a wife and child..." I begin, and she laughs
at this. 

"But the body doesn't always believe what the mind says.  Tell me, Mr
Wiseman, when you wake up in the morning, do you find yourself
confronted with a vision of beauty you cannot resist?  This man,
although it seems wrong, spellbinds you, causes your heart to race,
your breath to quicken..." I cast a quick look over at the Doc,
confused.  She laughs again. 

"And this man... does he not wear the same expression as you?  Your
reflection, Mr Wiseman.  Any other man and this might seem egotistical,
but you are in the unique position of inhabiting a body that is not
your own... you look in the mirror and you find yourself
yourself." I place the weights down, staring at her in surprise.  Was I
too obvious in the mirror this morning? 

"But you and Jarod..." I offer helplessly, I'm not quite sure what
she's suggesting.  Her smile turns bitter. 

"Jarod and I barely have a past together, let alone a future.  We have
both learnt to grab life with two hands, Mr Wiseman.  Never let a
moment, an

opportunity, slip you by.  You just might never see it again." She
walks off, her hips swinging. 

I throw another look at the bathroom.  Jarod is leaning in to the
mirror, borrowed razor in hand.  For a moment my vision is filled with
Lisa, and I am filled with guilt.  But all through the years, Lisa
never begrudged me the right to be attracted to other women... she'd
roll her eyes and frown and I'd grin cheekily.  I remember once, in the
early years of our marriage, being fascinated by the enticing curve of
some young woman's neck.  Quite unusual, but I was fascinated
nonetheless.  And Lisa had caught me staring, poked me gently in the
ribs and said 'I know you love me'. 

But a man?  It is hard not to be attracted to my own gender in these
modern times, when fashion makes the men as pretty as the women.  Jarod
splashes water on his face, clearing the last of the shaving cream.  He
picks up a bottle of my aftershave.  A moment, an opportunity, Miss
Parker had said.  Grabbing life with two hands.  I risk a glance at
Miss Parker, deep in discussion with the Doc. I've never kissed a man
before.  I creep up to my bedroom, hesitating outside the bathroom
door.  Jarod's enthusiastically slapping aftershave on his face. His
pants are charcoal grey, hanging low on his hips.  A deep blue long
sleeved top clings to his muscular arms and chest. 

"You're staring." I look up at the sound of his voice.  He's watching
me in the mirror. 

"So were you." I respond, taking a wild guess.  He blushes, proving me

"I go soon.  Back to Centre.  Back to Hell." He adds, almost as an
afterthought. I nod silently, and he turns to face me, advancing
slowly.  He's both nervous and full of intent, and snaps off the
bathroom light.  We stand in darkness, the only light from the nearby
window.  Jarod reaches out and puts his hand on my hip.  I breathe
deeply.  I've got the rush of a forbidden thrill. 

And then we kiss.  Jarod initiates and I follow, leaning into him and
pressing our lips together.  It's like kissing should be, kissing
anybody, male or female, new and surprising and offering thrilling
pleasure.  Like kissing a woman but harder, firmer, perhaps more
passionate than the kisses I learnt over a lifetime with Lisa.  And
then our mouths are opening and tongues touching. Jarod pulls me closer
and our chests bump, he puts his hand on my shoulder and I cling to his
waist.  He twines his tongue with mine and thrusts it in my mouth,
imitating something far more erotic. 

We part, panting for breath, and I realise the faint hum of
conversation in the background has stopped.  Jarod is staring intensely
into my eyes.  I am aware, quite suddenly, that we are no longer alone.
I turn my head.  There stands Miss Parker, eyes glittering, quite
obviously aroused. 

"Nice show.  If you two ever decide to make a movie give me a call."
She mutters snidely.  She smiles darkly and moves off.  Jarod lets his
hands drop from my body.  I take a little longer to do the same.  The
window shutters begin to slide shut, signalling the lights will be cut
in another half an hour. Must be later than I thought. 

"Jarod?" I hear the Doc call.  Jarod hesitates, looking down towards
the gym then back at me.  He leans forward and presses a quick, hard
kiss against my lips, then smiles. 

"Thankyou Michael." He whispers, the dashes off.  I watch silently as
Miss Parker, miraculously changed into pyjamas, handcuffs herself to
Jarod again.  I hear him ask about getting changed and she rolls her
eyes.  You just got changed, she tells him.  He shrugs, and strips of
his shoes and pants to stand in boxer shorts and sweater.  He grins,
then climbs into bed with her, and the Doc begins placing electrodes
across his forehead, to monitor his sleep


"Goodnight Mr Wiseman." The Doc calls as he leaves.  I change, and the
lights flick out. 

When I climb out of bed after spending too many hours pretending to
sleep, I see both Miss Parker and Jarod are out cold.  Miss Parker is
curled into Jarod's side, and one of his hands rests comfortably on her
stomach.  The lights from the laptop, little flashes of information
about Jarod's brain I don't understand, reflect eerie patterns on their
skin.  I smile sadly. 

Hello darkness, my old friend. 


Something is going on.  Other than the usual.  Jarod and Miss Parker
have been sending each other somewhat intense looks all day, and when
Jarod thinks nobody is watching he'll lick or suck on two of his
fingers.  This I understand, after what I witnessed in the gym
yesterday.  Although the finger thing is puzzling, the imagination
doesn't have to stretch very far.  What I don't understand are the
intense, slightly confused looks Jarod and Mr Wiseman are sharing. 

Occasional little secret, tender smiles, too. 

Right now Jarod watches the passing streets, his ankles shackled on his
hands cuffed.  The later afternoon sunshine reflects off passing
buildings. My tests are almost complete.  As per our agreement, I am
taking Jarod for his implant before I have done everything I wish to.
Security, the Centre had said.  A little tracking device, so Miss
Parker will always know where he is.  I smile grimly, thinking of what
Miss Parker and I discussed last night.  A nice idea, this little
implant theory.  If we ever get it into his head in the first place.
Miss Parker meets my eyes.  Time to begin. 

I lean forward, very carefully placing a small piece of thin metal on
Jarod's leg, close to his hands.  A paper clip, twisted out of shape.
Mr Wiseman's eyes widen, and Miss Parker stares straight ahead.  Jarod
looks extremely confused, staring back and forth between Miss Parker
and myself.  Parker's expression remains calm and serene.  Jarod picks
up the piece of metal.  Miss Parker takes out her gun, and Jarod

"Don't try to get out of those shackles Jarod, or I'll have to shoot
you." She's says quietly, then removes the clip.  She places it on the
seat between her and Jarod.  He stares at it suspiciously. 

She lays the gun flat on her leg, fingers lightly resting on the butt.
Wiseman smiles, brilliantly.  Jarod twists the metal slowly, angling it
into the lock on his handcuffs.  Miss Parker continues to stare
straight ahead.  The lock gives with a soft click.  He removes the
other bracelet with the same efficiency.  He casts another wary glance
at Miss Parker, then me.  I smile.  He smiles back, and leans forward
to undo the ankle shackles.  When these are gone I tap on the dividing
window in the limo.  Right on cue the driver runs up the end of another
car.  A distraction.  Mr Wiseman smiles again. 

"I'll go see what that was, will I?" he says quietly, and steps out of
the car. He leaves the door open, the one closest to Jarod.  I hear the
driver also get out.  Jarod looks at the open door, then back at Miss
Parker and myself. 

"Why?" he whispers urgently.  Miss Parker smiles gently. 

"Everybody deserves their freedom Jarod, even you." She says quietly.
She thinks for a moment.  "And how will I ever return the favour on the
inside, with all those damn cameras?" she adds.  Jarod chuckles a
little.  I don't want to think on that one too long.  He leans over and
kisses her on the cheek, and whispers in her ear.  She grins, and
passes him a duffel bag full of the clothes she bought for him.  He
sits back, then shrugs a bit and leans over to kiss me on the cheek as
well.   Then he gets out of the car. 

Miss Parker follows him, sliding the clip back into her gun.  I step
out of the car as Mr Wiseman and Jarod gaze at each other for a moment.
There is definitely something going on here.  The driver is exchanging
details with a cabbie.  Jarod looks at me. 

"What about your tests?" he asks. 

"I have enough information to last months.  Good luck Jarod." I say.
Miss Parker clicks the safety off on her gun.  Jarod nods, and turns
around, facing an alleyway. 

"Goodbye." She whispers, and raises her gun.  Jarod begins to run. 

"Stop or I'll shoot!"  Miss Parker calls.  She counts to three under
her breath, then shoots a dumpster a few times.  She turns to Mr
Wiseman. "You shouldn't have knocked me.  I might have got him." She
says calmly.  Jarod disappears from sight around the corner.  Mr
Wiseman looks confused. 

"What was that little display about?" he asks.  Miss Parker puts away
her gun. 

"Sweeper's.  They'll be here later to check out my story.  I need for
them to find bullets somewhere."  She explains carelessly.  She climbs
back in the car and we all follow. 

"You can drop me off at the Hilton." She murmurs, gathering her bags
and Jarod's restraints.  I nod slowly. 

"Miss Parker?" Mr Wiseman says suddenly.  She looks up. 

"Yes?" he smiles. 

"It was a pleasure to meet you." 

When she is gone, I smile with satisfaction.  Mr Wiseman looks at me
questioningly.  I sigh deeply. 

"You know that balance of power I was talking about yesterday?" I ask.
He nods. 

"The scales just tipped a little more in our direction.  I have a
feeling we haven't seen the last of those two." I say.  Mr Wiseman
grins, and opens his mouth.  I wait for something witty and intelligent
that will sum up the whole situation. 

"Can we stop for hotdogs?" 

I should have known better. 
I see a red door and I want it painted black 
No colours any more I want them to turn black 
I see the girls walk by in their summer clothes 
I have to turn my head until the darkness goes...   


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