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Fic: Spring (The Pretender)(J/MP)

Title: Spring
Pairing: J/MP
Rating: PG

Summary: Future fic. It's been 10 years since the debacle on the Isle of the Haunted and the search for the scrolls. What ever became of Jarod and Miss Parker?





Angela stirred the gently simmering pot as she stared out the kitchen window. It was a rare sunny day in what had been, up till now, a wet and dreary spring. She studied the yard, noting with dismay that there was still a lot of clean-up to do from last fall. As soon as it was warm enough, the hedge would need to be trimmed, and it was just about time to get the garden ready for planting.

She laughed quietly at the thought. Hedges and gardens –she never would have imagined she would be the woman buying tomato seedlings and begonias. Despite the warm tendrils of sunshine angling through the window, there was a lingering chill in the air, and she shivered slightly.
Angela turned her attention back to the pot on the stove. She lifted the spoon to her mouth – the meaty, tomato-rich chili was just right.

"Cathy! Tommy! Dinner's ready!"

She pulled three bowls down from the top shelf and set them on the counter, then grabbed the cheese grater from the cupboard. A young girl came running into the kitchen.

"Will you please set the table, sprite?" she asked as she placed some crusty buns in a wicker basket.

The girl giggled. "Yes, momma!" she answered, taking the buns, napkins and spoons out to the table

Angela grabbed the cheese from the fridge. She ladled chili into each of the bowls and grated some cheddar on top of each one. She dropped the ladle back into the pot and then called up the stairs for the second time.

"Tommy! If you don't get down here for dinner right this instant, you're grounded!"

There was a thud and a yelp and then a voice yelled out, "I’m coming, I’m coming!" It was abruptly followed by what sounded like a herd of elephants charging down the stairs. Seconds later, a young boy came skidding on sock feet into the dining room. "I’m not grounded, right?" he asked, eyes wide as he anxiously chewed on his lower lip.

Angela shook her head with a snort of laughter. "Boys!" she muttered as she reached out to ruffle the unruly shock of dark hair on his head. "Go wash your hands," she ordered, and he scampered off to do so.

"Cathy? Did you wash your hands?" she asked the girl who was setting the table.

"Yes momma," she replied solemnly, holding her hands up for inspection. Angela took a quick look, then nodded. "Let's tuck back your hair so it doesn't get into your food, hmm?"

The girl gave a sigh, but stepped forward. Angela snagged a bright, pink hair elastic from the basket in the front room then moved behind her daughter to fix her long, dark hair.

"Ow!" she complained, trying to wiggle away. "It pulls, momma!"

"Hush now," she admonished as she quickly secured the ponytail in place, then dropped a kiss on her forehead. "All done. Go sit down."

Cathy slid into her chair at the table. Her brother was already seated there, playing with his cutlery

"Momma!" she called out. "Tommy's hanging his spoon on his nose!"

"Shut up, pip squeak!" he said, as he stuck his tongue out at her.

"MOM! Tommy's-"

"That's enough, both of you!" Angela said firmly, placing their bowls in front of them. "Eat your dinner."

Cathy looked around. "But - where's daddy?"

Angela set her bowl down and settled into her chair, then grabbed a bun from the basket in the center of the table. "Daddy called about an hour ago and said he was running late. There was bad traffic from the airport, but he should be home soon."

As the kids dug into their meal, Angela's mind wandered back to the phone call she'd shared with her husband earlier that day, and felt a tendril of fear curl in her stomach.

***

"Where are you, Jarod?" she asked, unable to keep the worry out of her voice. She hated it when was away, but she knew that he needed to do this when he saw an injustice that he felt responsible for. There was no talking him out of it, no reasoning with him. She'd made the decision to live with it 10 years ago, but it never got any easier.

"Things got a little dicey in Chicago," he said, and she could hear the weariness in his voice.

"I had to discard my plans and took a flight to LA instead."
Her breath caught in her throat. "By dicey, you mean…?"

"I mean Lyle isn’t any smarter now that he was 10 years ago, but he is just as rabid. I wouldn’t have thought twice about following my original itinerary before, but – " He trailed off.

But things were different. But he had a family now. But he would never do anything to put the kids in danger. Not that he didn’t put the kids in danger every time he did this, a little angry voice inside reminded her, in danger of losing their father.

She brutally clamped down on the rebellious part. It was something they were going to have to talk about very soon, but now was not the time. "Are you okay?" she asked, setting her worry aside for now.

He hesitated for a moment. "Minor damage," he finally said.

She could feel the anger and worry ratchet up again, despite her efforts to remain calm. "What?" she demanded, and he responded with a chuckle.

"For just a minute there, you reminded me a lot of the woman I used to call up at odd hours of the night to ask crazy questions about pop culture references or the meaning of life."

She felt the warmth and affection in his tone, love that had grown, against all odds, into a future and a family together. Suddenly her eyes pricked with tears and her arms ached to hold him.

"You’re lucky I’m a damn sight more patient and understanding than that woman you used to know," she snapped back in a rare flash of pure Miss Parker style. She softened her tone, voice growing quiet. "Just – come home soon. We miss you. I miss you."

"I know," came the choked reply. "I miss you all, so much. I love you."

***

"Aww, but mom-"

"Dishes first, Wii after. You know the rules."

Tommy glared at her, then turned on heel to stomp into the kitchen. She watched with a smile as he started to rinse off dishes and place them in the dishwasher. He was so much like his father – curious and smart, sweet and loving – and stubborn as a mule. There was no doubt that between herself and Jarod, Tommy had a double helping of the stubborn gene. It was a good thing that he generally had a cheerful disposition and wasn't yet showing any signs of growing up into an evil genius bent on world domination.

"Momma?"

She looked over her shoulder to where Cathy sat on the sofa. "Yes, honey?"

"Would you help me with my homework?" she asked plaintively.

Angela walked over to settle down beside her. "Sure. What have you got there?" she asked, looking at the notebook Cathy had laying open on the coffee table. There was a paragraph with blanks in it and a word bank at the bottom.

"It’s a story about science. We gotta find the right words for solids an’ liquids an' gasses." Cathy looked up at her with sad eyes. "I was gonna ask daddy, cuz he’s so smart about science stuff. When will daddy be home, momma?"

Angela pulled her daughter in for a hug. "I know you miss him, baby. I do too. He would have loved to help you with this." She pulled back far enough to look down into Cathy’s face, then reached down to wipe away the stray tear that was trickling down her cheek. "Let me help, and when daddy gets home you can show him all your hard work. He’ll be very proud."

Cathy gave her another quick squeeze and then the two of them bend over the story, heads together, to work on the assignment.

***



Cathy laughed as Tommy flailed about running and jumping on the balance board.

"Keep your feet on the board, Tommy," Angela advised as she caught her breath from her turn on the Wii. "That’s better," she said as his movements steadied as he became more confident.

"You’re doing great."

Her head snapped around at the sound of the front door opening, and she tensed, ready to run. The chances of it being anyone but Jarod were virtually nil – there were at least a half dozen different earl y warning alarms built into their home should anyone ever try to break in – perimeter alarms, bullet proof glass, decorative metal lattice work on all the windows, and an emergency exit in the basement that went into the city sewer system. They’d never had to use it. They’d never even come close – Jarod had always kept the Center and his pretends far away from their home. But they both knew that something could go wrong, that all it would take was one mistake and it could all come crashing down, so they had prepared for that eventuality.
A second later, she heard his voice. "I’m home!"

"DADDY!" Cathy shrieked and tore across the room, just about knocking her brother off the balance board as she went.

"Hey!" he complained, arms wind milling as he regained his balance. "Watch it, pip squeak!" he said as he focused once again on his game. "Hi dad!" he called out, not breaking eye contact with the screen.

Jarod came into the room, carrying his daughter, her little arms wrapped tight around his neck. Angela rose from her place on the sofa and walked over to wrap and arm around his waist. He leaned in to kiss her, a deep, soulful kiss that said, "I love you" and "I missed you" and "I’m sorry for scaring you".

"Eeewwww!" whined Cathy, covering her eyes with one hand. "Do you hafta do that?"

"I know!" agreed her brother, huffing from in front of his game. "That’s so gross!"

Jarod looked over at his son and cocked an eyebrow before looking back at Angela. "I wasn’t sure he really knew I was here."

She laughed. "He missed you."

"I’m sure."

"Daddy, daddy! Come look at my homework! I wanted you to help, but mommy helped! It’s about science!"

Jarod kissed the top of her head and set her back on the floor. "I want to hear all about it, baby doll. But can I have some dinner first?"


Angela leaned back against the headboard with her book in her lap, but she only had eyes for her husband. There was silver in his hair now, and laugh lines around his eyes, but as far as she was concerned, he was every bit as handsome as he'd been 10 years ago.

She watched as he moved about the room, hanging his suit jacket in the closet, tossing soiled clothes in the hamper - she smiled as she remembered how he'd been a typical guy when they first got together, leaving dirty clothes laying where he dropped them. There had been a few loud arguments about *that* before he'd learned better. She came back to the present to realize he was standing at the foot of the bed, sock in one hand, tooth brush in the other, head titled to one side as he gazed fondly at her.

She blushed. "What?" she asked, smiling and looking down at her book.

"You're gorgeous."

She looked up at him over the edge of her reading glasses and tried to glare, but failed miserably as she felt her mouth curling up into a smile. "I think *you're* the one who needs the glasses," she commented ruefully. She wasn't quite used to wearing them yet, and she certainly didn't feel all the attractive in them.

He tossed the socks in the hamper as well then walked into the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. A moment later, she heard the water go off and he came over and crawled into bed. He snatched the book off her lap.

"Hey!" she protested, but he tossed it on the night stand and then pulled her over into his lap. She squirmed for a moment before settling as his strong arms wrapped around her.

"Hi," he said as he leaned in for a kiss, and she melted into him feeling right for the first time since he'd left for Chicago 6 days earlier. He tasted of peppermint as he warm mouth settled on hers, and suddenly all of her frustration, her fear and her relief came pouring out at once. She snaked one arm around his waist and pulled him tight against her as she wrapped the other around his shoulder. She slid her hand into his hair, gripping tightly to hold him in place as she kissed him. She kissed him like he might vanish, like something might invade their home and steal him away. She kissed him like this might be the last time she ever could. He was trying to say something, but she just kept kissing him until she felt his warm hands on her face, forcing her back.

"Angela!" He sounded worried, frantic even. "Angela, it's okay, I'm here, nothing's going to happen baby, it's going to be okay!"

And then she realized that she hadn't just been thinking, she'd been babbling all those things out loud, and her face with wet with tears that he was gently kissing away.

"Jarod-" her voice cracked, and she broke into a sob. He just gathered her in his arms and rocked her gently as she cried. Finally, after a long while, the tears ceased and she lay exhausted in his arms.

He spoke quietly. "Why didn’t you tell me it was hurting you like this?"

She drew a deep, shuddering breath. "I knew, when we got together, that this was who you were. That you would never be able to sit by while injustices were being perpetrated by the Center. I know you feel obligated to be the modern day Robin Hood, and I can’t ask you to stop being who you are. I just never realized that it would get harder-" Her voice caught, and she stopped for a moment. Jarod gently rubbed her back, and then she continued. "I worry when I hear the phone ring that it might be the hospital calling to tell me that you’re dead, but I worry even more that it might be Lyle telling me that you're not and that there are sweepers surrounding the house, and I don't want to ask you to change, but I don't know… I don't know if I can live with it anymore."

He froze, and she held her breath, not moving, terrified of what would happen. A second passed, two, then he his fingers resumed their gentle stroking.

"Clearly, there is only solution to this problem," he said, tone decisive. She looked up at him eyes wide, stomach in knots. He smiled at her and pulled her into a hug. "It stops now, Angela," he whispered into her hair. "My family comes first. YOU come first. I knew you didn't like when I went, but I never meant to hurt you like this. It's over for good."

"Really? Are you sure?" She could hardly believe it. He nodded, his face pressed up against hers.

"I am absolutely sure," he said, and she could hear the determination in his voice that said he'd made up his mind. She squeezed him tight, muttering, "oh thank god," into his skin.

"I love you," he said simply. "But you realize this means now I'll be hanging around the house, underfoot all next week," he warned her, his tone playful.

She pulled back just far enough to look up at him with an impish smile. "It just so happens there's a lot of yard work to be done before I can put the garden in.

He ran his thumb along her bottom lip. "That sounds perfect," he replied. As he kissed her, it felt like the sunshine had finally chased away the last bit of chill and spring had come at last.

Comments

enigmaticblues
Mar. 11th, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
I do really like this. I love that they got their happy ending, and I see it as a possible future for them.
shaddyr
Mar. 15th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm happy that you enjoyed it.

I'm not sure I really believe there could be anything but pain and angst for these two, BUT...

IF Parker got some counseling;

IF Jarod was able to forgive her;

Yeah. It's possible.

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shaddyr
Shaddyr

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