DISCLAIMER: They are not mine, I'm just rubbing them together to see what happens. No money was made and anyway, I have no money, so don't sue...
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Last story in this series! I think that there will be a sequel series however, so watch this space... Thanks for reading with me and for all your comments, feedback and encouragement. It all helped and served to inspire me to write the series instead of just, 'The Divine Miss Parker' itself (the first part of the story). The title for this story is a lyric from a Sheryl Crow song that struck my fancy.
SERIES: This is a Cold Case/Pretender story and the sequel to The Divine Miss Parker, Rush Hour, Get Parker!, Lilly of the Valley, What Fresh Heaven is This?, Tiger Lilly and Midnight.
SPOILERS: Rudimentary show stuff, but nothing specific that I can think of.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Chasing dragons with plastic swords...
By The Raven

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply
gives you courage.
- Lao Tzu

Miss Parker opened her eyes at 5:02 am, or at least that is what the clock on the hotel end table said the time was. Her internal alarm clock working flawlessly as it usually did, important this morning especially when she did not wish to resort to using an alarm clock. It was time to go... If she was efficient and drove fast, she'd get to The Center in good time and most likely would be able to run enough interference so as to deflect any curiosity. The line she had to walk with The Center and her private life, was a thin and as dangerous as a razors edge. Moving quietly Miss Parker gently disengaged herself from Lilly's warm embrace and started to organise, first she'd need to shower, then hair and makeup, dress and double check the room for any stray things that might have been scattered by the activities of the past few days. Hopefully Lilly would remain asleep, it would make leaving easier and at the moment, Miss Parker simply wanted to make things as easy and as painless as possible. With a lingering look at the woman sleeping so deeply in the bed, Miss Parker moved silently to the bathroom, her small makeup bag in tow. She wanted to be out of the hotel room in less than 20 minutes so this morning was going to stretch her morning routine to the max.

With her shower done, Miss Parker towel dried her hair as much as possible, before combing it through and turning on the tiny portable hair dryer in her hand. With ease borne from years of experience, the brunette was able to dry her hair to an acceptable level in about 5 minutes, leaving it slightly damp, not only to save time, but to spare the hair from being burned to a crisp as well. Satisfied with her hair, Miss Parker quickly lotioned her body, her flexibility and long practice allowing her to actually reach all of the skin on her back as she did, applied deodorant and perfume, brushed her teeth and then turned to her face. With hands as steady and as efficient as a surgeon, the layers of her mask were applied, face cream, a light dusting of liquid powder, some blush, eye liner and eye shadow, mascara and lipstick to complete the effect. Satisfied, the dark woman quickly but carefully packed up her things and moved to the main room of the hotel where Lilly was still peacefully asleep. Silently Miss Parker opened her small suitcase, selecting a fresh set of stockings, under garments and a black silk shirt after which she finished packing the suitcase with her laundry from the past few days and makeup bag. The silk underthings and stockings went on smoothly and without a sound and soon Miss Parker was buttoning up her shirt and doing a final check of the hotel room. Satisfied, the dark woman slid her arms into her coat and checked her gun before fishing out her notepad and pen. After a slight pause, she quickly write the blonde woman a somewhat oblique note that she was a little dissatisfied with, but that she did not feel she had time to rewrite. Hopefully, she would have a chance to talk to Lilly soon, but for now, this note was going to have to do...

Miss Parker took once more glance around the room as she stood by the hotel room door, her eyes returning again and again to the sleeping woman who was now sprawling across the bed. Unable, or perhaps just simply unwilling to resist, Miss Parker walked silently to the bed and looked down at Lilly before gently touching the sleeping woman's face. 'Time to go!' Her inner voice said harshly and Miss Parker sighed slightly as she glanced at her watch. It was indeed time to go and with that she turned on her heel and walked to the door, turning back just once before slipping into the silent hotel corridor and walking towards the elevators. She had enough cash to pay the hotel bill and tack on breakfast for Lilly and she would get more before she left the city, once it no longer mattered that The Center might be watching. Wanting to somehow extend her time with the detective, even if it was only in a virtual sense, Miss Parker spent a few precious minutes poring over the room service menu before settling the bill and walking out of the hotel without a backwards glance. It had served its purpose well, but the hotel itself was of no interest to Miss Parker. She was only interested in the blonde Detective who was currently sleeping, (or so Miss Parker hoped) in one of its rooms. Quickly finding her car, Miss Parker threw her suitcase into the backseat and climbed in behind the wheel making a mental checklist as she did. 'Fuel, coffee, food, cigarettes, water and money.' She decided to stop at the first service station she saw ad hoped that it would provide all of these things for her, wanting to get on her way and be on her way without interruption as quickly as possible. As it was still so early, the drive out of Manhattan was completed very efficiently and Miss Parker soon found a service station that did indeed have all of the things that she needed. Somewhat cheered by her good luck, Miss Parker settled into her car and started her long and solitary drive back to The Center.

About an hour later, Miss Parker found herself caught in a traffic jam, a huge mess that looked like it went on for miles and that would take miles to clear up. Cursing the abrupt turn in her fortune, Miss Parker resigned herself to a long wait and reached into her leather jacket now draped over the seat back of the passenger seat in her car. She would need to call someone at The Center, probably Sydney, he could be trusted to say the right things to the right people so as to put off the bloodhounds, at least for the time being anyway. As she reached into the pocket for her cell phone, Miss Parker's fingers encountered something unfamiliar blocking her way. Using her fingers, she examined the object carefully before withdrawing it from the pocket and looking down at it quickly. It was a small white cardboard gift box... Miss parker instinctively knew that Lilly must have put it there sometime over the past night, but when had she gotten whatever it was that was inside of the box? Miss Parker's musing were cut short by an angry honk and the sluggish lurch of movement in the traffic around her. Lilly's mystery box would have to wait a little while longer, no doubt the traffic would oblige and grind to a halt in a few dozen feet. Remembering that she still needed to call The Center, Miss Parker reached for her cell phone and then clipped it into the charger that was plugged into her cigarette lighter. She'd do the calling after she had seen what was in the little gift box and not a moment sooner, The Center could wait for all she cared at this moment.

Half an hour later, the traffic ground to a half again, allowing Miss Parker to snatch up the little box from the seat beside her and open it. Inside, there was a soft little wad of white tissue paper which Miss Parker carefully opened, the slight excitement she felt heightened with every moment as she slowly revealed what was inside. When she finally saw what was nestled inside of the little box with its fragile tissue paper, Miss Parker's eyes opened just a fraction wider and she felt her heart clench just a little in her chest. It was pretty obvious by now that Detective Rush had managed to somehow creep into Miss Parker's heart, the idea of which raised very ambivalent feelings in the dark woman. Sparing a brief glance to the traffic that continued to stand still outside of her car, Miss Parker lifted the object from the gift box and examined it carefully in the bright sunlight that was streaming through her car windows. It was very pretty, though simple, small and understated, dangling from a silken black cord that had a simple silver clasp attached to its ends. It would go well with her leather clothes, even her with Rolex and diamond earrings and it was unlikely that anyone would notice it. After a brief glance to the traffic Miss Parker saw that it was unchanged from before, so she quickly put the charm around her neck and tucked it beneath her shirt where it quickly warmed to her body temperature and practically disappeared nicely under her clothes. Smiling slightly, she allowed herself a brief pause to think about the blonde woman, before reaching for her phone and dialing Sydney's number from memory. It was time to take care of business, other things would have to wait, no matter how compelling or sexy they might be.

Much to her surprise, Miss Parker reached The Center at a somewhat decent hour of the day, her traffic jam problem having cleared itself up rather quickly after only about an hour of crawling along the freeway. The rest if her drive had been quick and unremarkable, interspersed by moments of memories that were so vivid that Miss Parker was now a firm believer that sensory overload was a very real phenomena. As she walked through the front doors of The Center, Miss Parker's phone rang, causing her to snatch it up, half expecting it to be Lilly, but still answering the phone with her usual tone, "Parker!" Immediately the familiar tones of a seeming always amused sounding Jarod resonated in her ear. "Miss Parker, how are you this fine day?" The question was asked so casually that Miss Parker almost answered the man before she remembered who she was talking to. "What do you want Jarod?" She asked, not really all that impatient with his call, but needing to keep up the facade of the hunt and pursuit nonetheless. "I just wanted to know how things were between you and the good Detective. I have this feeling that you've just about driven across the country this past week." Miss Parker made a conscious effort to keep her tone neutral and her stride unbroken, after all people were always watching for anything unusual here. "Things are fine. Listen Jarod, as much as I'd love to stay on the line and engage you in some personal chit chat long enough that I could have this call traced, I really do have other things to do and you're going to hang up in a few seconds." Miss Parker made her voice as sarcastic as possible as she spoke, knowing that her sometime adversary, other times ally would understand the necessary tones and gestures she had to make due to where she was and the situation in general. Not that Miss Parker was ever half assed about trying to catch Jarod, she was just always secretly pleased when he managed to slip his head out of the nose each time they went to tighten it. She could not help herself wanting him to escape, anymore than she could help wanting to catch him. Jarod's chuckle filled her ear, half making her wish that each of them had been offered a different path and other burdens for this lifetime. "Well, I won't keep you then, I know how busy you can be trying to find me. I'll keep an eye out for any, how shall I phrase this... unusual interest directed in inappropriate directions. I have to look after my two little lovebirds now don't I?" Before Miss Parker could respond to Jarod's playful jibe, the man hung up the phone gently, leaving Miss Parker with only the dial tone to keep her company. Infuriated as usual by everything that was Jarod, but at the same time relieved that he was indeed looking out for Lilly, Miss Parker shut the phone and slid it away in her jacket. No time to think now, she would have to wait until later to indulge herself in anything else except for the game that was compulsory to play here at The Center.

By the time Miss Parker had been at The Center for half an hour, she was just itching to shoot someone, or if no one suitable showed up, something, preferably an expensive and fragile something. As if the pile of messages had not been enough as it is, at least 6 people, including Mr. Lyle (who was high on her list of people to shoot) had wanted to talk with her at once, each one demanding information and situation reports about Jarod. Once she had cleared the messages and the people out of the way, Broots and then Sydney had come to flutter around her. The former making her nervous because he seemed to have sensed that something was different with her life, the later just making his way up her 'to shoot' list by just being his usual inscrutable self. The only saving grace so far had been that Raines had not wanted to see or talk to her, for which she was thankful. No sense in poking the beast within too much, not when she was so wound up from everything else, not to mention just sheer weight of the sexual tension that seemed to be permanently hovering at the edges of her psyche. The main crux of Miss parker's problem was that she simply did not wish to be at The Center, she wanted to be whisking Lilly away to Paris or something, on a trip that would be filled with sights, sounds and sex and sensations, where she could spend time with the woman, get to know her better, or something. 'Christ, you don't even know her age.' With that thought Miss Parker mentally punched out her inner monologue and turned her attention more fully to the file in front of her all the while resisting the urge to look at her watch, time would not march any faster just because she wanted it to. Her inner musings were not silenced so easily however and it was promising to be a long afternoon indeed as her id declared war on her higher consciousness.

By the time Miss Parker got home in the evening, she had been up for almost 18 hours, a long day by most standards, especially if there was an accrued sleep debt already in play. After tossing her suitcase into her bedroom, the dark woman decided that she would put off checking her house for bugs and simply concentrated on making sure her bedroom was secure. Her only thoughts were 3 fingers of scotch on the rocks and a long hot shower, everything else would have to wait. After putting her cell phone to charge, Miss Parker shed her clothes and went to her bathroom with scotch in hand, deciding to simply shut out the world for a few minutes. It was not to be however, as when Miss Parker turned to look at the mirror in the bathroom she immediately saw the evidence of Lilly on her body. A definite bite mark graced her her right shoulder and Miss Parker could pick out the slight bruises left by Lilly's fingertips on her thighs where the blonde woman had held on with a vice like grip sometime in the past day or so. Miss Parker turned and when she saw the half dozen red scratches across her upper back she could not help the smile that appeared on her face as her mind immediately replayed the moments that had caused the marks to happen. Of course, there was also the charm still hanging from her neck from its silken cord. Miss Parker had forgotten about it completely, so now she moved closer to the mirror to examine it with some interest seeing the detail of it and deciding that she liked how it looked and felt on her body. Obviously, the brunette was not going to be able to remove all thoughts from her mind and with a resigned sigh, she carefully removed the delicate charm from her neck before she turned on the shower and stepped in after waiting for the water to heat up.

After her shower, Miss Parker wandered back into her bedroom feeling much refreshed and somewhat hungry, so she decided to order in some food and spent the time it took to have it delivered unpacking and repacking her suitcase. Always ready for everything, that was how she tried to live, but nothing could have gotten her ready for Lilly Rush. It had happened the moment the two had met and now Miss Parker no longer felt like she had much control at all over the situation or her own feelings for that matter. What did the detective mean to her? What did Miss Parker want from the blonde woman? Her Thai food held no answers and soon Miss Parker found herself dropping off slightly after she had finished eating. It was too early to sleep and she still some things she wanted to do so Miss Parker quickly got up from the couch and moved to the kitchen to make some coffee. She needed to make a list for her housekeeper, not to mention the ever present possibility that Lilly might call. As if summoned by her thoughts, Miss Parker heard the shrill chirp of her cell phone and quickly moved back to the bedroom to snatch it from the bedside charger, "Parker!". Her voice rang with the steel it contained, one just never knew who would be calling as half the people who called her did so from private numbers that did not show up on her phone's display. "Hello." It was Lilly, Miss Parker felt her heart soar just at the sound of the other woman's voice and the feeling was immediately followed by a slight mental frown and many long moments of silence before she said, "Did you get home all right? I got stuck in the motherfuck of all clusterfucks in New Jersey." Miss Parker allowed the smile to creep into her voice as she laid back in her bed and stared at the wall aimlessly. "Yes, I got home just fine. Thanks for breakfast by the way and some day you are going to let me pay for the hotel right?" Lilly's voice wrapped itself around Miss Parker causing a slight shiver to travel up her spine. "Maybe next time it won't be a hotel." The words slipped past Miss Parker's lips before she could stop herself. "I'd like that." Came Lilly's soft reply, barely audible over the phone lines, then the woman spoke louder. "So, what do we do now?" Miss Parker thought about her reply before saying, "I really don't know. Any suggestions?" Miss Parker lit a cigarette while she waited for Lilly to reply. In reality, the raven haired woman had no practical ideas as to what they could do about their situation, so maybe the good Detective had come up with something that was feasible to their lives all things considered. Unhappy at the thought of somehow trying to control this thing that she shared with Lilly, Miss Parker took a long drag of her cigarette before sighing out a long plume of smoke towards her ceiling. "I don't know, at least not in any practical way. Neither of us live a life that allows us much personal freedom, schedules, people, obligations and duty tie us down. I don't want to lose the spontaneity we have, or the passion, we don't seem to smother eachother. Whatever this is, I want it and I am prepared to go to great lengths to keep it." Lilly's words came out in a rush and then there was silence while Miss Parker finished her cigarette. "Well, I don't think either of us is much for conventional romance or the sort of relationship where someone is always underfoot. However, I don't tend to do casual sex, or at least I am not doing casual sex with you. You're more than just a fuck buddy to me Detective." Miss Parker rose from the bed as she said this and walked over to her closet and opened it. Her wardrobe did include such things like jeans and skirts, cocktail dresses and tee shirts, evening gowns and sweats, but mainly it was silk, leather and lace. Idly reaching into her closet, Miss Parker grabbed a fresh set of undergarments and a royal blue silk shirt to wear under her leather pants and jacket and tossed them onto the bed before she turned and walked towards the bathroom. Lilly had not spoken since Miss Parker had finished, but there again, their relationship did not involve much in the way of idle chit chat so Miss Parker was more than content to wait. She had all night after all, hell, she had the rest of her life if she so chose.

Morning came slowly but with it the sunlight crept across the room, touching shadowed corners as it did. Eventually it settled upon the sleeping woman who lay sprawled across the center of the bed causing a low moan to bubble up from an elegant throat and out of the luscious lips before the woman rolled over in protest at the gentle caress of light. The sun was persistent however and would not take now for an answer and continued its ministrations until finally blue eyes opened and a loud sigh was heard as the woman awoke completely. It was time to get up, a fact that the sunlight and the clock on the dresser announced succinctly, 7 am. The day was unlikely to wait much longer and as if to announce its protest at the woman's delay at raising out of her bed, the alarm went up, permanently jarring the peace of the morning and forcing the woman to stand and stretch out her long supple body before she wandered over to the dresser and slapped the clock shut. Yawning sleepily but not at all displeased to be awake, the woman wandered to the bathroom as naked as the day she was born, her thoughts filled with ideas of coffee, dressing and driving to work and with the near constant erotic imagery that had been part of her life now for nearly a week. Now however, it was time to put her face on... The great big world with its expectations and ready made conclusions awaited, not very patiently either for that matter.

Half an hour later, dressed, coiffed, brushed and deodorized, her impatient wait for the coffee machine to finish percolating was interrupted by a sharp knock on the door. 'Who the hell..?' Her mind asked rather sharply, not very pleased with the idea of an interruption or delay in her morning routine. She only had another forty five minutes before she was expected at work and everything had to run like clockwork in order for her to get there on time. Automatically checking her gun as she walked towards the front door and also giving the entrance way of her home a cursory glance as she moved, the woman heard the sharp, if not impatient knock repeated again. Now irritated for real, the woman did not bother even to look through the peep hole before opening the door abruptly, hoping to startle her visitor and not really expecting any trouble anyway. Her annoyance immediately evaporated when she saw just who it was standing on her doorstep in the early morning sunlight. In fact, her whole brain stopped from shock for several long moments as her mind attempted to process this new information much faster than it could without coffee and at this time of day. There was a brief flash of white teeth her visitor finally spoke, "Well, aren't you going to let me in Detective?" Still dumbfounded, the blonde woman stood aside to let Miss Parker in, who, as ever, looked equal parts deadly and sexy in her leather and silk. Slowly shutting the door, Lilly turned towards the dark woman and just stared at her, her eyes broadcasting a million questions but not really expecting any answers. Finally Lilly snapped out of her daze and managed to stutter out, "Wh.. what..?" In answer to the incomplete question, Miss Parker simply moved to the blonde woman and enfolded her in a leather clad embrace. "I love you too.." Miss Parker whispered into the perfect shell of Lilly's ear, smiling into Lilly's hair when she felt the blonde woman stop breathing for a second and then tighten her embrace until it was almost crushing. No further words were spoken as the two woman stood in the morning sunlight that was streaming through the windows, no further words were needed...

The End

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