Discarding Pretenses (Dawn Summers/Jarod)
Disclaimer - Do not own characters from Buffyverse or The Pretender
Jarod started and stared at the blue-eyed brunette. His heart ached as he was reminded of another blue-eyed brunette who was as different from this one as night was from day.
"Stop clinging to the past Jarod!"
Jarod looked away. "I don't know what you mean Dawn."
Dawn Summers glared. "You know exactly what I mean Jarod. You are thinking of that Parker bitch."
Jarod started "A bitch is a female dog."
"A bitch is also someone who enjoys other people suffering. She could have very easily walk away from The Centre. Her mother is dead. Her father is an adult who has chosen his path long ago. She chose to stay."
Jarod shook his head. "You don't understand--."
"I understand just fine Jarod! She is deluding herself. She says she took the job hunting you down like an animal because they promised to let her go. Does that sound like The Centre Jarod? When have they ever kept their word? Held up their end of a bargain?"
Jarod went cold. The Centre specialized in double-crosses. Machiavellian games-within-games. "Never."
"Exactly. You have the excuse of being inexperienced, trusting, and naive. She has been brought up within that backstabbing environment. She's played the game long enough to know they won't keep their word." Dawn flashed a cynical smile. "Not unless she got them to sign a Wolfram and Hart contract."
Jarod smiled faintly. Then it faded. "She is the only one from my past..."
Dawn leaned over and squeezed The Pretenders hand. "She might. But she doesn't have to be. You have other pasts, more recent pasts. You have us. Don't cling so hard to what has been lost that you do not see what is in front of you."
"But my family..."
"We will find them Jarod. We will find them together. You do not have to go to the Centre digging for information. You know we have much more than mundane resources and means. You are not alone. Not any more."
Jarod nodded and squeezed back tentatively.
Dawn stared at him hard and nodded as though reassured by what she saw. It had taken a great deal of effort to win Jarods trust. It required continuous persistence and reminders to keep him from falling into his old patterns of poking at the Centre, stirring up controversy to uncover messes, and running. "Good. Remember we are family here. If the Centre messes with one of us they mess with all of us."
Jarod stared at the young woman. She was so young but in some ways so much wiser than those older than her. Ruthlessly practical and fiercely territorial and protective of her loved ones.
"You really mean it, don't you."
Dawn met dark eyes squarely. "Of course. Strictly speaking I should not exist. I am a magical clone, a construct, but Buffy believes I am worthy of being loved and protected. She died to protect me. I will not let anyone spit on that sacrifice by giving in to my human fears and weakness. That is what you do when you love someone.
"If you allow Parker to catch you, you are spitting on your parents who love you, who struggled to bring you into this world and protect you however they could. You are failing those who helped you in the past, who you will help in the future.
"Now tell me Jarod, are you a quitter?"
Jarod thought long and hard. "No."
"Good. Now help me with this translation. Viv needs it to pinpoint the sacrifice location in Houston. She's been hustling for leads but no one has been flapping their tongues down there. Whoever is orchestrating this has a good grip on any possible leaks."