Author's Name: KB
Title: The Cold Comes From Within
Fandom: The Pretender
Rating: G
Warnings: Maybe some spoilers for IOTH
Summary: Just what did happen after that call at the
end of Island of the Haunted?
Disclaimer: Characters - not mine, never were, never will be. *cries*
The Lyric You Chose:

Where do I put this fire.
This bright red feeling,
This tiger lily down my mouth.
Tiger - Paula Cole

As soon as she ended the call, Miss Parker moved into the living room and sat down in front of the fireplace. The house was cold, chilling her to the core, and she bit her lower lip as she struck the match against the side of the box and held it, her fingers trembling slightly, to the crumpled newspaper beneath the wood. A red line of fire travelled along the edge of the paper before moving in, nibbling gently at the lines of black newsprint and then
suddenly producing a ball of fire that singed the wood and made it ignite.

Rocking back on her heels, she stared into the flames that grew in size with every passing second. They blurred and she blinked but didn't move. She could feel the increasing warmth on her skin, but she still felt cold. Even as she gave a violent shiver, she realised that it was because the icy numbness came from within.

Perhaps it wasn't such a surprise when a black coat was slipped around her shoulders. Had she been expecting it? Had she heard the minute creak of the step on the stairs behind her? Heard his breathing as he stood in the doorway, watching? Heard the click of the phone from above her head in the spare room, or the creak of the mattress? Or did it just seem right that he would be there?

"Nothing's changed," she warned him softly.

Jarod chuckled softly as he sat on the floor beside her. "You're so sure," he replied, in a voice that, at any other time and in any other situation, would have been mocking. "I've been checking up on you for years."

That stung and she turned to glare at him. "I can take care of myself."

"Who's denying it?" He held his hands out to the flames, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, a tiny smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "And who says I do it for you?"

She felt the frown fade in spite of herself.  It was almost ridiculous how much this man cared about her, and after a moment's hesitation, she told him so.

The smile broadened, but still he avoided direct eye contact, only glancing slyly at her. "Maybe it is," he agreed. "Maybe I can't help it."

She rolled her eyes and resettled herself, a little further away from him than before. Was this a subconscious or a deliberate act?

At that moment, and with no warning, the lights went out. The only illumination in the room now came from the fireplace, casting a red, flickering glow over the room. She was warmer now.

"Why did you come here?" she finally demanded, becoming impatient with his long silence, suspecting that he was enjoying it. The smile playing about his lips as he watched the fire was a giveaway.

"I thought you might be missing me," he teased lightly, and finally turned his head to look at her. She watched his eyes travel over her face, the hair that trailed over her shoulders and further down to the arms she had clasped around her knees. She reflexively tensed and the dimples appeared briefly in Jarod's cheeks.

"I never knew," he teased softly, "that I had such an impact."

She was still trying to think of a response to this - and really, what could she say that wouldn't encourage him? - when he lifted a hand and placed it lightly on her shin, just below her knee, but above her high boot. There was only a thin layer of stocking to act as any sort of barrier.

His movements were slow and deliberate; his hand slid slowly over her knee and onto her thigh, pushing up her skirt. As he did so, he moved his face slowly closer to hers, bridging the gap she had created between them by her earlier movement. His hand halted just at the top of her leg, his palm warm, but her attention was distracted by his face, which was now so close to hers that she could hear his quick, light breaths. His dark eyes bored into hers, the pupils dilated, studying her features. She let herself lean towards him. Was it a voluntary move or an involuntary one?

A branch, heavily laden with snow, broke outside the window. She started, turning to look, the moment lost.

Rocking back on her heels, Miss Parker stared at the empty grate, the useless box of matches clutched tightly in one hand and the phone in the other. She shivered. And the lights went out.

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