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: Though I do follow both shows, and just love them to bits and pieces, I don't know enough about the characters or the shows to be completely accurate about anything.
SPOILERS: Rudimentary show stuff, but nothing specific that I can think of.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Divine Miss Parker
By The Raven

To generalize on women is dangerous. To specialize on them is infinitely worse. -- Rudolph Valentino

Detective Lilly Rush looked askance at the folder that was resting upon her desk. It had been there when she had arrived at the beginning of her shift and so far none of her colleagues could tell her of how it had gotten there. Frustrated, Det. Rush fingered the worn cardboard of the folder and idly wondered if the damn thing had simply grown there over night. Musing darkly to herself, she finally gave in and opened the offending article, obviously it was intended for her, so she might as well simply get whatever it was over with. The folder contained a grainy black and white photograph and half a dozen sheets of paper, each containing compact notes written on what looked to be an old fashioned typewriter. Det. Rush ignored the paper and found herself examining the photograph intently. It showed the face of a woman, brunette, striking, probably taken about 20 or so years prior. Sighing minutely, Det. Rush picked up the first piece of paper and started to read, still wondering why on earth this case had landed on her desk and who it was that had put it there.

Elsewhere on the East Coast, Miss Parker was not having a good day, but then again, she could not remember when it was that she had last had a good day. Again irritated by the intrigue and violence that The Center thrived on, she had decided to follow her own nose for a change and had simply taken a company car. The Center's considerable resources were not having any effect, Jarod was still at large, and no attempts to rein him in were having any effect whatsoever. A cryptic note from Jarod, stuck to her front door with a piece of chewing gum, of all things, was leading Miss Parker towards Pennsylvania of all places. Pennsylvania for God's sake! At that thought Miss Parker angrily stubbed out her cigarette and immediately started to look for another one, cursing audibly when she found her pack empty. Now she would have to stop, here, in the middle of nowhere, and hope that someone had her brand of smokes. Any other option would probably end up with her in jail at this point. Philadelphia was still a long way off and Jarod's note, taunting her with how close he was, but how far she was from him, had put her in a foul temper even before her day had started. This had better not be a dead end, she mused as she pulled into a nondescript looking gas station, she was so tired of dead ends and The Center wanted results from her, results that she was unable to give, though not for want of trying.

For the female of the species is more deadly than the male. -- Rudyard Kipling

By the time Det. Lilly Rush had finished reading over the file that had mysteriously sprung up from her desk overnight, she was still quite confused, but had also become very intrigued indeed. The brief sheaf of papers mentioned a woman called Catherine Parker and her involvement with a shadowy organization that had ended up being the end of her, or at least that was what the contents of the folder suggested. The picture of the woman in the folder struck a chord with Det. Rush, she had amazing eyes, obvious even across time and space from the grainy photo, and her face showed the temperament of a kind woman. Det. Rush was confused, because technically, this suspected homicide did not fall into her jurisdiction, but when she had made an inquiry from her Captain, he had told her that she had been authorized and empowered to investigate it. In fact, she had been requested specifically, due to her speciality in solving cold cases, those age old, sad and dusty, but not forgotten files locked away in the basement of the building she worked in. Obviously someone had been paying attention, as though she could not extract from who this special dispensation came from, her Captain had indicated without words that it came from very high up indeed, and who was Det. Rush, or her Captain, to ignore such a summons. With those thoughts, Lilly Rush picked up her phone and started to make the first in a line of phone calls that would probably end up numbering in the dozens. The problem with cold cases, was that they were cold, so memories, people, events and resources had to be stirred up, and often that required a large spoon indeed. Undaunted, Det. Rush begun her quest, this was her passion and her speciality after all.

Miss Parker had, by this time, reached the outskirts of the city of Philadelphia, armed with a carton of cigarettes, coffee and her platinum American Express card. Thankfully, company cars had excellent fuel economy, so she had been forced to stop only once, her frayed patience and the dual tone HK P2000 .9mm at the small of her back, meant that others would probably also be thankful. The car weaved through traffic easily, Miss Parker's expert driving making quick work of the early rush hour traffic that she found herself in. It was time to find suitable lodging, before she went on this wild goose chase, something discreet and central was in order. A low growl in her stomach, forced her to concede that she would also be needing to attend to her more base needs and she mentally added food to her list of things to do. As she pulled into the driveway of a modest, but still 5 star hotel, she parked the car close to the entrance and alighted from it. Stretching out the kinks in her back, she reached into the backseat, pulling out her black leather jacket and a small suitcase. Miss Parker was not a purse woman, the coat had been a two thousand dollar investment, custom made, but worth every cent. It acted as her 'purse', holding the things she deemed as essential to carry flawlessly in a series of inner pockets that she had ordered made along with the coat itself. It's not like she could not afford the luxury and her life being what it was, she was more than prepared to indulge herself. It helped her put up with the crap that being involved with, or rather maybe, the product of The Center put her through. Her leather pants creaked slightly as she made her way into the hotel lobby, the heels of her leather boots clicking a tattoo on the marble floor as she approached the rather startled looking clerk at the front desk of the hotel. Miss Parker allowed herself an internal smirk when she saw the look on the young man's face, she knew that in her black leather clothing and with her body, she could make the average man quiver in his shoes and the average woman turn green with envy. She also knew that her face and body language carried off her, most often, deadly intent without a hitch. Mentally shaking herself out of her silent musings, she came to a stop at the desk, after hours of driving and this bullshit trip in general, she wanted a room, and she wanted it now. "I need a room, overlooking the street, queen sized bed." Miss Parker was not a 'please and thank you' sort of woman, rather, she was used to getting what she wanted, when she wanted it, using any means that suited her mood, or her needs. Her voice, made even more husky from hours of disuse and cigarettes, was still snappy, and the young man jumped to do her bidding, quickly assigning her a room, and asking her to fill out a form. With an inaudible sigh, she quickly filled in her name, not bothering with putting her address, or for that matter, her first name onto the form. The flash of her American Express card was more than enough to inform the clerk that this was not the time to insist that procedure would be followed. Without another word, Miss Parker took the proffered room card and turned on her heel, ignoring the waiting bell hop, who like the desk clerk, was salivating from the over stimulus her leather and looks was obviously providing. Now she just wanted to go to her room, shower, eat and work out her next step. The people in this hotel, hell, the people in the whole city held no interest to her whatsoever, she had no intention of interacting or mingling with them if she could help it.

Det. Rush, had by this time completed her preliminary phone calls and was working on some new case notes. So far making headway on this case, was like trying to squeeze water out of a rock, just about impossible. The most obvious phone calls and computer databases had provided very scant information about the woman in question and now she was left with working out new angles and hopefully, before too long, she would catch a break of some kind. Lilly Rush glanced at her watch, noting with some surprise that her workday was nearly over. It was not the first time that she had managed to work 8 hours without pause, without even eating, and not notice at all. With a growl of frustration, Det. Rush collected her notes and shoved them and the folder into her shoulder bag, her official work day might be ending, but there were still hours left in her unofficial workday, and with that thought, Lilly Rush suddenly decided that she wanted to go home, at once. A brief goodbye to the remaining Detectives and police officers in the office and she was on her way to her car, and soon was braving the rush hour traffic in an effort to get home. Lilly Rush was a native daughter of this city, so the traffic did not phase her, and with knowing every side road and back alley of the place, it did not slow her down as much as it might have. Once inside her front door, Det. Lilly Rush became simply Lilly and with that she dumped her heavy bag and kicked off her shoes as she made her way to the fridge. A glance inside reminded her that she had not been grocery shopping, again. The inside of the gleaming white appliance had the remains of a six pack of beer, a box of baking soda and an unopened bottle of soda in it. Lilly reached for a beer and as she was opening it, she moved to her phone, examining the half dozen or so takeout menus piled up haphazardly near it. Deciding on Thai food, she quickly placed her order, and then, knowing that she would have enough time to shower and change before the food arrived, she moved towards the bathroom with beer in hand. Mentally she was already preparing herself for a long night of research and though, physically she was just weary, and she knew from experience, that a long, hot shower was just the thing. As she moved through her home, she felt her mind once again, returning to the case, or rather the woman, Catherine Parker, and it was with thoughts of her that Lilly took her long anticipated and well deserved shower.

Any man who tells you he understands women is either lying or isn't telling the truth. -- Oscar Wilde

Miss Parker was out on the town early the next day, having spent a restless night in her hotel and eager to get whatever this was over with as soon as possible. As usual, Jarod had been cryptic and infuriating in his message, displaying his rather dry sense of humor, and his odd penchant for some kind of payback for the troubles that Miss Parker sometimes caused him. In reality, (though it would never be said, or admitted by either of them) Miss Parker and Jarod were allies from a time that stretched into their respective childhoods. Miss Parker lit a cigarette and examined the piece of paper in her hand... There was a sketch of a building on it, along with a motto written in Latin, Miss Parker had deduced the motto as being for the city of Philadelphia, but now what? She tossed the piece of paper onto the passenger seat beside her and continued driving aimlessly through the city, hoping that she would find the building without having to ask anyone for directions. It was about noon when she gave up, pounding on her steering wheel with frustration and lighting yet another cigarette in a futile attempt to somehow calm the boiling inferno inside of her. As if by some magic, her cell phone rang just at that moment, though predictably the caller id was blank. Miss Parker looked at the display for a moment before answering impatiently, "Parker!" Immediately a man's voice admonished with amused tones, "Now, now Miss Parker, you'll get an ulcer if you are not careful. So much stress, so many cigarettes..." Miss Parker recognised the voice immediately and stubbed out her cigarette, "What do you want Jarod?" She asked in a bored voice. "Well, it seems you've reached a dead end, and since you are so stubborn and won't ask for directions, I thought I'd give you a phone number to call." With those words Jarod reeled off a phone number and hung up in Miss Parker's ear after reminding her to put on her seat belt. Miss Parker looked down at herself, seeing that she was not wearing her seat belt. Damn him, he was within touching distance, but he might as well be on the other side of the planet for all she was concerned. Jarod would only be caught if he wanted to be caught, and even then, it was unlikely that The Center would hold him for long, if they held him at all., there was not saying that he could even be brought to The Center successfully. Miss Parker lit another cigarette and dialed the number that Jarod had given her with some frustration and briefly ground her teeth while she waited for someone to pick up at the other end of the line. The phone rang 3 times before Miss Parker heard a woman answer the phone with the words, "Detective Rush!" There was a pregnant pause while Miss Parker absorbed the information she had just gleaned and decided on what course of action she should take next.

Det. Lilly Rush fumbled slightly with her coffee as her phone rang, however she was able to answer it on the third ring and half barked into it, "Detective Rush!" There was silence on the other end of the line, and Lilly could hear the muted roar of traffic, telling her that she was being called from inside of a car, or the inside of a building from street level. The silence seemed to stretch for hours, but in fact it was just heartbeats and then, finally, a woman's voice spoke. "I was given your phone number by an acquaintance." The rich, burgundy tones spoke of a cultured upbringing, told stories of old money and arrogance, but the voice was intriguing and quite beautiful. Lilly found herself enraptured for a heartbeat or two before she spoke into her phone. "Can we meet somewhere, or would you prefer some other option?" Det. Rush knew that someone would only have given out her phone number for a very specific reason, so it was unlikely that this woman was calling for some bullshit purpose. Never mind that the voice on the other end of the line spoke of a woman who probably did not deal with bullshit on any regular basis. The voice spoke again, sounding quite reserved, "Very well." The short sentence spoke volumes to Lilly Rush and she suppressed an urge to say 'your highness' or 'your majesty', and mentally laughed at her own silliness. Keeping her voice carefully neutral she asked the woman on the line, "Where are you now?" The woman answered immediately, and a slight tinge of impatience coloured her voice prompting Lilly to quickly say, "I can be at The Mütter Museum in half an hour, I will meet you by the entrance. At this time of day in this season it should be just about deserted." The woman on the other end of her phone gave her assent immediately and hung up without saying goodbye. Lilly looked at the display of her phone and was not surprised to see that the called ID of the individual in question had been suppressed. As a police officer, she would have no trouble tracing the call, but that would have to wait until later, now she had to get to the rendezvous place. Moving quickly to her desk, she grabbed her bag and checked the contents, before grabbing her coat and telling her sometime partner Det. Vera, that she had a meeting to go to, and that she might not be back today. The large but kindly man nodded slightly and offered her a brief smile, before he turned back to his work. Lilly walked quickly to her car and within 5 minutes of receiving the phone call, she was on her way to the The Mütter Museum, to meet the person behind the voice.

Miss Parker parked her car and looked at the museum's entrance for long moments before alighting from the car. She had driven slowly to the agreed upon destination, wanting to arrive after the Detective did, wanting the advantage of observing the other woman, versus the disadvantage of being observed. She noted idly that the Detective had been perceptive enough to realise that a public and outdoor location was needed for a first contact, but also, that crowds would not be welcomed. Miss Parker checked her jacket before locking the car and moving towards the museum, her sharp eyes searching for the telltale clues that would give away the Cop in Detective Rush's demeanor. Bring a cigarette to her lips, she flicked the silver coloured lighter that had belonged to her mother, one of only a handful of memories she had of the woman. As she inhaled the carcinogens with vicious pleasure, Miss Parker's gaze alighted upon a woman, blonde, intense, with a gaze that seemed to be looking through everything it touched. Miss Parker's skilled eyes then saw the slight bulge on the woman's hip, she had found her Detective, now it was a matter of simply walking up to the woman and making her 'entrance'. Miss Parker carefully calculated her next move, knowing that first impressions were paramount in the human world of games and intrigue. Idly tossing her unfinished cigarette aside, Miss Parker adjusted her gait and moved into the Detective's field of vision, adjusting her gait to exude competence, confidence and coolness. As she watched, the Detective's eyes alighted on her and after a pause, the Detective's mouth fell open. Not the response that Miss Parker was expecting, something which unnerved her slightly. She did not like the unexpected and had mastered the art of thinking ahead at a very young age. Miss Parker saw the Detective visibly gather herself together, collect herself and shake off whatever surprise had caused the reaction Miss Parker had seen. The woman assumed a professional pose and her momentary lapse passed, as the woman waited patiently for Miss Parker to come within earshot.

Detective Lilly Rush, had, as she predicted arrived first to the rendezvous place. It was a more common occurrence that whomever it was she was destined, or assigned to meet, would delay long enough, so that they would arrive last. The Detective glanced at her watch, it was now 3 minutes past the agreed upon time and she felt a slight twinge of impatience, the caller had better show up, or she would trace the call and press some charge, she was not in the mood to be fucked with and the case file she was working on seemed to have made her bag weigh ten pounds more than normal. As if summoned by her errant thoughts, a woman, dressed head to toe in form fitting black leather clothing was approaching. Her eyes were covered by mirrored sunglasses and her every movement giving off the impression of controlled power and confidence. Lilly Rush found herself admiring the woman's obviously fit and beautiful body and as the woman came close enough that Lilly could identify her features, she felt her heart skip a beat and her mouth hang open. The woman was a spitting image of Catherine Parker, just as she had appeared in the photo that Det. Rush had in her bag, it couldn't be, Catherine Parker would be over 50 now, and this woman looked to be in her early 30's, at the very most. Lilly shook herself quickly out of her shock, the woman was now standing in front of her, just over 2 arms lengths away and was regarding her impassively. Lilly Rush got the impression that whoever this woman was, she was not someone to be trifled with, definitely not some bullshit artist. After a moment, Detective Rush spoke, "I am Detective Rush." Lilly extended her hand automatically, which caused the woman to glance down at it for a moment before she spoke, "I don't shake hands." That voice again, the low alto, even more captivating in person, moving like a warm breeze across Lilly's senses, causing her to have to suppress her reaction. This would not do, she was a professional, not a felon fucker... Of course, it was an assumption that this leather clad woman was a felon was a bit much, but Lilly's hopelessly Cop brain was going through automatic motions at this point. Lilly Rush found herself amused by this woman, rather then annoyed at her haughty behavior, so all she said in response was, "Can I at least know your name?" The woman's face changed every so slightly, seeming to reflect an adjustment in the woman's esteem perhaps. "Miss Parker." As the clipped tones annunciated the two words perfectly, Detective Lilly Rush used every ounce of training and self control she had not to react to the name in the way that she wanted to, it would not do to scare off this woman, and she instinctively knew that Miss Parker would not hesitate to turn on her heel and leave at the slightest provocation. However, try as she might, Lilly Rush was not able to control her whole reaction and as her feelings ghosted briefly across her face, she saw Miss Parker's demeanor change from arrogant and dismissive, to one of mild curiosity. Obviously she was interested in why she had effected this woman twice, first with her appearance, and second with her name. Detective Lilly Rush spoke again, "Shall we go somewhere else, or would you like to conduct this business here?"

Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot. -- Groucho Marx

Miss Parker observed Detective Rush react to her name, and now she was very curious. First it had been her appearance, now it was her name, something about her was effecting this woman and Miss Parker wanted to know what it was. When the Detective had suggested that they move their rendezvous somewhere else, Miss Parker decided instantly to agree with the idea. A block down from the museum was a cafe with an outdoor terrace, this would be a good place for them to discuss whatever it was that they needed to discuss. Miss Parker still had no idea why Jarod had directed her to this woman, but if there was anything she knew about Jarod, it was that he always had a reason, and his reasons were always very good. "There is a cafe a block from here. Lets go!" Miss Parker had learned long ago not to turn her back on strangers, but Detective Rush had touched something inside of her immediately, even on the phone earlier, so she spun on her heel and walked away from the other woman, using her body to its full effect and knowing that the Detective would follow, Miss Parker was sure that the other woman was somehow intensely curious about her. Detective Rush had given herself away when she had reacted not once, but twice, so strongly to her. Now it was just a matter of time and she would find out what on earth kind of scheme Jarod was running this time.

Lilly Rush bemusedly followed Miss Parker, quickly catching up with the woman, who looked at her briefly but did not say a word until after they had sat down at the cafe, ordered coffee and she had lit a cigarette. Lilly Rush was not a Detective for no reason, she saw the old fashioned silver lighter and the silver cigarette case that the leather clad Miss Parker produced from somewhere in her leather jacket. They looked like heirlooms, which intrigued Lilly Rush, but she was patient, working with old cases had taught her that patience was a key to success, and to sanity. The enigmatic woman looked at her through mirrored sunglasses for some long moments, before an elegant hand reached up and removed them, revealing to Lilly Rush, a pair of eyes that easily matched the woman they belonged to. The eyes were emotionless as they looked at her, but Det. Rush could see great intelligence in them, and she was first to admit, that Miss Parker had beautiful eyes. Miss Parker seemed to come to a decision and finally spoke, "I was given your phone number by an acquaintance. He believes that you have something that I need, something that would help in my search. When I arrived in Philadelphia, I had thought it was to find someone I have been looking for, but now I realise that it might not be so. I do not know, precisely, why I am sitting in a cafe with you." Miss Parker abruptly stopped talking and lit another cigarette, effectively dismissing Det. Rush with her demeanor, leaving her to absorb what she had just said. Lilly Rush trusted her intuition and her intuition was telling her that this woman, Miss Parker, had been directed to her because of the folder that was in her bag. Now it was a matter of bringing that folder to Miss Parker's attention, without chasing her away in the process. Lilly was sure, that if she was not delicate in her approach, Miss Parker's reaction would not be favorable at all. Nope, this was not a woman to fuck with, not in any way whatsoever. Their coffee arrived and the women used the distractions of fussing briefly over the hot drinks to collect their thoughts, and then Lilly Rush made a decision. Moving deliberately and carefully she reached into her bag, seeing that Miss Parker was tracking her carefully. Pulling out the worn manila folder, she pushed it towards Miss Parker slowly, now it was just a matter of seeing what would happen next.

Miss Parker watched the Detective reach into her bag, and tensed herself slightly, her Center training and her life experience still making it almost impossible for her to trust anyone. Even this woman, with her obviously sympathetic intent, and delicately beautiful features, was not above suspicion. The other woman pulled out a very worn looking folder from her bag and looked at Miss Parker for a long moment, before sliding the item slowly over to her. The Detective spoke, the volume of her smooth voice low, "I believe this is why you were given my phone number. This appeared on my desk yesterday, with authorization from very high up, to investigate it. The authorization was more of a thinly veiled order, but you get my meaning." Miss Parker looked at the Detective's mouth as she spoke, finding herself momentarily distracted by it, before she reached and took the folder, wondering what she would find inside and somehow knowing that Jarod was behind the 'thinly veiled order' that Detective Rush had received. Miss Parker was not a timid woman, so she simply opened the folder's worn cover and looked inside, expecting something to do with Jarod, perhaps. Miss Parker stopped, her eyes resting on the grainy photograph that was the first thing in the folder. Miss Parker recognised the women in the picture immediately, it was a picture of her mother... Jarod! Miss Parker felt a series of emotions rush through her. Anger, hatred, sadness, love, gratitude and then nothing. Jarod must have had a reason for bringing this woman into their little game, the one they both played in the endless effort to find the fate of their mothers. Jarod had been torn from his mother as a little boy, Miss Parker's mother had been torn from her, when Miss Parker was a little girl. Miss Parker looked up from the photo into the clear eyes of the Detective sitting before her, seeing intense curiosity, but also quiet empathy reflected back at her. No wonder the Detective had reacted so strongly to her when they had met, and when she had learned her name. Miss Parker was a spitting image of her mother, so in essence, it must have been like seeing a ghost come alive. "This is my mother." Miss Parker said simply, then she finished her coffee and rose abruptly, turning on her heel and walking away, from Detective Lilly Rush, from her mother, from everything.

Miss Parker moved so fast, that Detective Lilly Rush had to scramble to collect the folder and her bag before she headed after the leather clad woman. Lilly was not shocked by Miss Parker's reaction, but it had still been somewhat unexpected, seeing as how the woman exuded such a self contained presence. Miss Parker had only made it a block before she had stopped to wait for the Detective to catch up with her and Lilly was again a little taken aback at how well Miss Parker seemed to read people and predict what they might do next. The Detective approached Miss Parker carefully, aware that the other woman must have felt quite vulnerable at a time like this, and not wanting to send her over the edge. Miss Parker looked like she could be very deadly indeed, something that Det. Rush was not eager to find out first hand. Seeming to sense the Detective, Miss Parker started walking as soon as the other woman was abreast with her and they walked for a while in silence before Miss Parker turned to face her, showing mirrored sunglasses and an expressionless face. Lilly Rush watched as Miss Parker fished into her coat, withdrawing a small note pad and a silver coloured pen, then wrote something quickly, before handing the Detective the torn off slip of paper. Without further comment, the leather clad woman walked to a car parked nearby and drove away without a backward glance. Lilly Rush looked at the sliver of paper, onto which the name of a Hotel along with a room number was scribbled. It was a clear invitation for the Detective to see Miss Parker again, obviously they still had things that they needed to talk about and the other woman wanted to do it in a more private and intimate environment. Lilly decided that she wanted to go home, grab a shower and change, maybe eat something, before she went out to seek Miss Parker again. Idly wondering why she wanted to do this, she walked to her car and allowed herself to think about the other woman as she drove home.

Every man is wise when attacked by a mad dog; fewer when pursued by a mad woman; only the wisest survive when attacked by a mad notion. -- Robertson Davies

Miss Parker drove like a mad woman for a good hour before finally calming down enough to think. The women Detective would probably come and see her, and this time, she needed to be ready, somehow. Miss Parker was not a stupid woman, she knew that it was best not to look a gift horse in the mouth. With that thought in mind, she pulled the car over near a liquor store, sashaying in to restock her cigarettes and while she was at it, she bought a bottle of bourbon. No point in being miserable, she thought as she drove towards her hotel and 3 fingers of bourbon and a nice hot bath were just what she needed to get herself ready for the guest she was anticipating. The hotel room was untouched, save for the change of linens and Miss Parker gratefully shucked off her leather jacket and shoes as soon as she entered. Immediately turning to the bathroom, she started the bath water running as she prepared her drink and sought out a classical music station on the radio. Miss Parker was enough of a woman to realise that her Detective guest would probably go home before she came to the hotel. That would give Miss Parker at least two hours to get ready, something which pleased her, as this time, she intended to have all her ducks lined up in a row and was not anticipating any more shocking surprises. With those thoughts, she finished undressing and lowered herself into the steaming bubble bath, allowing the hot water to take the weight of her tense muscles and letting the experience wipe her mind clean for a little while. Miss Parker found her mind wandering however, to the good Detective, but this time her thoughts were focused on the woman herself, and not her job. Bringing up a mental picture of her, Miss Parker found herself oddly charmed by the other woman and with that rare and happy thought, she rose from her bath to shower herself, taking extra care with the whole procedure, as it was one of the things that truly relaxed her. After allowing the rinse water to run off her naked skin, Miss Parker stepped out of the shower and grabbed a fluffy towel from the rack in the bathroom, idly drying herself and mentally planning her preparation. She needed to make sure there was ice, should probably eat something, make up, fill her cigarette case, check her gun, the list went on as Miss Parker dried her hair with the hotel's complimentary hair dryer. She had no intention of staying in Philadelphia much longer, so whatever business she and Det. Rush had, would need to be conducted as quickly as possible.

Lilly Rush regarded herself in the mirror of her steamed up bathroom, her mind occupied with thoughts of Miss Parker and her mother. Idly wondering why she was making such an effort for Miss Parker, but there was something about the woman that made her want to sit straighter. Miss Parker was definitely a woman to behold, all sleek lines and hidden curves, dangerous lines and eyes that could spell violence one moment, and amusement the next. Though she and her mother looked like a pair of twins just about, Lilly Rush could tell that they were very different people indeed. Lilly suspected that losing a mother so young, had probably profoundly effected Miss Parker, and add to that, it was possible that whatever had killed her mother, had also had a strong hold over the little girl, and finally the woman she had become. Lilly moved towards her kitchen, where a salad she had hastily bought from a deli awaited her attentions while the coffee pot finished percolating. As she ate and drank coffee, Lilly checked off her mental list of things she needed to do, all the while watching the clock. She would need to step it up a pace in order to get to the Hotel before 4 pm, which was what she wanted to do. She suspected that Miss Parker was a little like water, hard to hold and eager to flow to another destination, so regardless of anything, the mysterious woman would be rearing to leave Philadelphia. It was time to move fast, but to remain efficient all the same... With that thought, Lilly locked her front door and moved to her car, mentally plotting out her destination as she she opened the driver's side door. Briefly glancing around, as her Cop brain demanded that she do, she tossed her bag into the passenger seat and got in, slamming the door behind her. Now all that remained was to get to the hotel and see what would happen next.

The knock on her hotel room door was strong, but not pounding, then there was silence that seemed to be very patient, though quite expectant. Miss Parker had been on the balcony of the hotel room when the knock came, so in the moments it took her to cross the space between doors, she composed herself carefully, not bothering to check the peep hole. She knew who was on the other side of the door... Detective Rush lifted her eyes to meet Miss Parker's and gave a brief smile as the other woman waved her into the spacious room. "Have a seat if you want.' Miss Parker said as she lit another cigarette and looked at the Detective. The woman was wearing black jeans and a white button down shirt under her black leather jacket, her skin showing the flush of a recent shower and her eyes were bright and alert. Miss Parker smiled internally, at least she was spending time with someone who was easy on the eyes, it would at least make this evening easier. "I have bourbon." Miss Parker said as she stubbed out her cigarette and moved towards the hotel's mini fridge. Unexpectedly, the Detective said, "Thank you, I'd love one." Evidently, the good Detective was not considering herself as being on duty, something which pleased Miss Parker to no end. The last thing she had wanted to do with her time, was spend the evening with an uptight cop. Pouring 3 fingers of the bourbon into glasses by sound alone, Miss Parker scooped ice from the small ice bucket in the fridge into the glasses and turned back towards the Detective, handing one of the glasses over, before draping herself over the second easy chair in the room and waiting. The ball was in Lilly Rush's court, now it just remained to see what the woman would or could do with it.

Miss Parker served an excellent bourbon, and it had not escaped Lilly that she had poured it with expert hands. The woman wore form fitting leather pants with a black button down shirt tucked into them, the cloth of the shirt shimmering in a way that told the Detective that it was made of fine silk. When she had turned to get the bourbon, Lilly had seen the compact .9 mm at the small of the other woman's back, nestled in a kevlar holster, obviously custom to the pants that she wore. Detective Rush surprised herself by not feeling concerned about the gun, something about the casual ease that Miss Parker displayed with it. It would have been easy for her to conceal the weapon from the detective, but she had not bothered. The footfalls of her leather boots were silent as she walked towards the Detective bourbon in hand and Lilly took the time to examine Miss Parker's hands. No rings of bracelets adorned them, but a Rolex was peeking out of her left shirt sleeve, and it led Lilly to conclude that the diamonds studs the woman wore in her ears were also real. Old money, Miss Parker wore her opulence in such an understated and casual way, and her cultured accent, left Lilly with no doubt on the matter. Miss Parker sat down and lit yet another cigarette and seemed to wait for Lilly to begin, whatever it was that they were going to do. Lilly found herself studying the fine lines of the beautiful face before her, and as she did, she became aware of something else. Something completely unrelated to the situation or the circumstances, but something that seemed to fit them nonetheless. She was attracted to this mysterious woman in black, with her .9 mm and casual menace. The woman's hard, yet fragile beauty had struck a chord in her, and all of a sudden, Detective Lilly Rush could think of nothing, except what it might feel like to kiss those lips, to touch that body, to have those hands on her own body. This would not do, Lilly decided, she was here to work on the case, not to get it on with a complete stranger. Lilly refocused on Miss Parker and lifted the folder regarding her mother to the low table between them. As she lifted her eyes to meet Miss Parker's, she realised something instantly, Miss Parker had picked up on her attraction, and from the look on her face, even though it was guarded and closed, the attention was not unwelcome. Lilly felt her fingers grow slack on the folder and had to stop her hand from simply falling off to the side of her chair. Now what? Did they ignore this, or did they not ignore this?

Miss Parker wasn't a timid woman, and she was also the kind of woman who knew what she wanted, and would take it if she felt like it. Detective Rush was more than an attractive woman, and something had clicked between them, something that the brief conversation they had engaged in could not do. It was something deeper... Miss Parker set aside her drink and rose from her chair, moving to the window, which put her closer to Detective Rush. If the other woman made any move now, Miss Parker would escalate the situation, but first, she wanted to know if Lilly Rush had the balls to make a move. Miss Parker wasn't interested in timid, or small people, strong wills, stubborn personalities and attitude problems caught her interest. Miss Parker did not hear Lilly approach her, so the feel of the other woman wrapping her arms around her waist came as a slight surprise to her, but through years of practice, she did not jump, rather she slowly laid her hands onto the Detective's own and allowed herself to simply stop and absorb the sensation of another person touching her. It had been so long... Idly, she wondered if Jarod had somehow perceived that she would develop this mysterious and instant connection with the Detective who was not resting her head gently on Miss Parker's back. It was as likely as anything else, Miss Parker had more power and resources available to her than Lilly Rush did, so aside from a new perspective, Miss Parker was unsure of what exactly the Detective could do for her. When she felt the other woman place a gentle kiss between her shoulder blades and start to gently turn her around, Miss Parker cast aside her mother and the intrigue surrounding her death, and allowed herself to become lost in sensation. Sending a silent thank you to Jarod, Miss Parker turned around and wrapped her long arms around Lilly's waist. "What is your name?" Lilly asked quietly, as she gazed into Miss Parker's eyes...

As Lilly gazed into the raven haired woman's fathomless eyes, she half expected Miss Parker not to answer her question. However, a genuine smile graced the beautiful, patrician face only inches from her own, and Miss Parker leaved closer, whispering her name into Lilly's ear. Pulling away slightly, Miss Parker said softly, "No telling anyone Detective." With those words, Miss Parker closed the distance between them and kissed Lilly, the first touch was tentative, searching, but soon they were kissing with all engulfing, desperate passion. Lilly felt the bottom fall out of her stomach as Miss Parker's arms tightened, pulling their bodies together tightly, and when she heard Miss Parker moan, Lilly knew that she was lost. The need for oxygen eventually forced them to part and Lilly looked into Miss Parker's eyes, seeing them for an unguarded moment, seeing the woman within the woman that she was holding within the circle of her arms. Perhaps tomorrow, Miss Parker would disappear from her life, perhaps permanently, but there was today, tonight, and Lilly was going to make the most of it. She moved her hands up to Miss Parker's hair, running her fingers through the coveted locks, wrapping her hands around the finely formed head and brought their lips together again. This time the moan that she heard was her own...

It was much later when Miss Parker woke up, the feeling of satisfaction very evident in her lethargic limbs. Her Detective (as she had started to think of Lilly Rush being) was asleep beside her in the bed. Miss Parker allowed herself long moments of primal satisfaction as she watched the other woman sleep, and then placed a gentle kiss on her shoulder before rising out of the bed. She felt her head spin briefly as she stood, and as she became more awake, she was even more aware of how she felt. Alive, that was how she felt, alive... Moving quickly, Miss Parker packed and dressed, checking for any stray items, before stuffing Lilly's case folder into her suitcase. Miss Parker wanted the other woman's help, but was loathe to embroil her in The Center's dirty and dangerous affairs. A slight moan caused Miss Parker to look towards the bed only to see that Lilly had turned over and was no asleep on her back with her upper body glorious and naked, a feast for Miss Parker's eyes. Miss Parker allowed herself more long moments to admire the body of the woman in her bed, before she reached into her jacket, once more bringing out her notepad and pen. After a moment's thought, she wrote her cell phone number down, and a brief note, explaining cryptically why she had left and taken the file with her. Closing with something more heartfelt, Miss Parker initialed the note and pressed her lips to it, leaving the indelible mark of her lipstick on the paper. After taking a deep breath to steel herself against the sudden aching in her chest, Miss Parker put the note on the pillow beside the beautiful Detective's head, before firmly bringing her mask into place and quietly leaving the hotel room. Quickly paying her bill, and adding breakfast to the tab, she walked out to her car and angrily threw her suitcase in just as her cell phone rang. Miss Parker answered at once, half expecting it to be Lilly, however it was Jarod, his teasing lilt grating on Miss Parker's nerves as he spoke. "I was right wasn't I? I thought so... You deserve some love Miss Parker, and you know, she won't stop searching for answers about your mother. She never even met me, and she has not stopped searching for my mother..." Jarod did not give Miss Parker the opportunity to answer, instead she heard the phone call end gently and she was left simply staring at her phone for many heartbeats. Cursing volubly, she got into her car and drove out of Philadelphia, thinking as she went, that one day she would make a point of coming back here, now she had a very real reason, versus the bubble gum one Jarod had left on her door only a short lifetime ago. Actually, Miss Parker thought as she drove, she decided to make a promise with herself to come back here, like Jarod had said, she deserved a little love...

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. -- Robert Frost

The End

Sequel Rush Hour

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