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 Red flags and long nights, for Sha- Jai- that one
ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 18 2012, 11:11 PM


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Group: MALL RATS
Posts: 91
Member No.: 810
Joined: 20-December 11



Houston, Late October, 2012

A year ago, the notion of Alec Parker calling any mall 'home' would have been laughable. The whole concept of 'mall' went against everything Parker valued in his life. With old, stale walls and cookie-cutter shops and cookie-cutter people and endless narcissism, malls were a far cry from the life he'd come to enjoy - the one that was constantly shifting and evolving under his feet as his quarry pulled every trick in the book to evade him. He'd appreciated his (abbreviated) live-in with Laura, if only because the mall was quite happily her domain. She could handle the mall-crawling and leave him to his business and neither of them hurt for it. Vegetarian tuesdays and fridays and tall, skinny caramel macchiatos with breakfast were a small price to pay for being able to avoid the malls like a plague. As much as he'd enjoyed drinking his first cup of real coffee when Laura had hit the road, the next time he'd had to 'pop in' to a store had had him ten shades of nostalgic.

But for all his resentment pre-apocalypse, he had to admit, there was a certain satisfaction in having a place to call home at the end of the day, however unconventional the place might have been in another lifetime. That satisfaction was compounded the longer he'd been away - Parker had always been a light sleeper, but after a couple of nights foraying into the city on a scav-run with a handful of volunteers Parker wasn't certain grasped the idea of taking watch, his body had begun to yearn for a night without the constant nattering in his ear that something might go awry, that if he nodded off properly he might miss something crucial. The mall was a welcome sight, and clearing the accumulated undead from the nearest door was a fitting end to a long couple of days. The foray into the suburbs had been largely successful - many of the houses had been left relatively in tact in the mass exodus of families on z-day, and the supplies hadn't been picked over too harshly by whatever survivors had passed by since. Parker left the group to unload the supplies with help from Magdalena's crew, and headed for the travel agency he'd taken refuge in. It wasn't much, but it was home, and it was a damn sight better than holing up in one of the billion clothing boutiques scattered throughout the mall, and in a nostalgic pinch Parker had come to appreciate the flyers advertising trips to Paris, Venice, New York and beyond. For now, though, little interested him other than the cot set up in the back room that was screaming his name. His gun needed cleaning, he could probably do with a change of clothes, and if he thought too long about it his stomach would probably protest the decision to avoid people and refrain from tracking down some food, but Parker didn't give a damn. Home, bed, sleep. Sweeter words had never been spoken.

He'd made it most of the way inside before he noticed that the shop wasn't as empty as he'd left it. Frowning, all semblance of fatigue fell away as Parker tugged his gun from its holster, thumbing the safety and lifting the barrel as he slowly moved forward, toward the intruder. It was rare for Parker to have visitors in his own shop - rarer to find them lingering there when he wasn't due in. His first instinct said walker - left over, maybe, from the movie-night attack - but the thought died when he glimpsed blonde hair. He'd know that shade anywhere. He'd know that body anywhere. That enigma he'd been fixated on for over half a decade. Parker's lips twitched, flickering between a smile and a frown as he fought with that notion. Either he was more sleep-deprived than he'd thought, or he was seeing ghosts. His lips settled on a half-smirk at the thought, and he shook his head, lowering the gun a fraction, but not taking it off the woman in the shop. He'd always known Houston would be different. He was just running a few months behind schedule. "It's a little late to bring me a birthday present, Shannon," he said, the smile lingering in his voice. "Got to admit, I was hurt you didn't get a cake this year. Was starting to think you really were pissed off at me."

[THIS IS SO LATE AND SO CRAP I APOLOGIZE, BOOSER. <3 Figured we could do the 'holy shit you're alive' thread, and assumed they'd all roll in before November. >_>]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 20 2012, 03:51 PM


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Group: PRICE CHOPPERS
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Member No.: 753
Joined: 28-November 11




A ticking time-bomb was the only apt analogy for her present situation – she was the timer, an intrinsic part of the device primed to detonate with everything else. But, as of yet, there was no way of telling how much time was left on the clock though inevitability made certain that it was not infinite. To one degree of another, Jaimie had some say as to when events were set in motion but, should she dally too long it would be taken entirely from her hands. Every day she pushed back the deadline a little further – that very morning she told herself that she would confess the very moment they arrived in the mall but in the initial excitement she decided to wait until the next day. Of course, she probably wouldn’t admit to everything, and her admission would be more of an ‘I guess I’m not pregnant’ than an actual admission of guilt and deception but surely that would be enough to release Henry from whatever obligation he felt he had to her. She would, obviously, leave out the part of the sordid tale where she drugged him and tricked him into thinking that they had slept together. Admittedly, it hadn’t been one of her finer moments but, as awful as it sounded even in the safety of her own mind, it had been worthwhile – he had safely taken her from Sam’s Club to the mall.

Their arrival had caused quite the commotion – she hadn’t expected to find that many people holed up in the mall but, she supposed, they had the space for it, unlike Sam’s. Henry took it upon himself to ask after her ‘fiancé’, the fictional man named after a man she had sworn to loath until the day she died. The word yes hit her like a brick to the back of the head and, for a good minute or so, it felt like her heart had ceased to beat. A fake smile graced her lips though, behind the mask, panic started to take hold. Jaimie nothing more than to believe that this was some other Alec Parker, another man cursed with dull, ordinary name, but something told her that she just wasn’t that lucky. It was a small mercy that he wasn’t with the group that met them at the entrance. It gave her an opportunity to get to him first before he turned up with that stupid grin of his and brought everything crashing down around her. The things he knew about her, the things that he could tell poor Henry – it didn’t bear thinking about. No, she needed to get to him first and... well, she had tried reasoning with him before and that hadn’t ended well, but now she was desperate, now it was a matter of life and death. Her life and death. She had to make him see reason, or at least, her version of reason.

Once the excitement had died down, she found out where this Alec Parker was staying and was pointed in the direction of a travel agency, of all places. It struck her as somewhat ironic that he would choose such a place to live – all the places across the world that he had chased her he’d always seemed more interested with his job, with catching her, than he had the sights. Jaimie had marched into the store as bold as brass, wanting to catch him on the back foot but, instead, found it empty. With no other plan or idea of how to track the man down, she started to search, a small part of her still hoping that this was the living space of a man who only shared the FBI agents name. With her back towards the door, she couldn’t help but start ever so slightly as an all too familiar voice sounded behind her. Jaimie didn’t need to look to know that all of her worst fears has just been confirmed. Alec Parker was alive. As she turned, her face becoming a smiling mask, she felt that panic again but now there was something else in the mix. Excitement, she was actually thrilled at the thought of seeing him again now that their little game had so drastically altered. If nothing else, Jaimie knew that she could claim a small victory – he hadn’t caught her and now there was nothing he could do, there were no courts, no law left to hold her accountable for past actions. Now he was just a man. A man with a gun.

Is that any way to say hello, Parker?” An eyebrow rose as she gave a nod towards the gun, the smile still on her lips. “I thought I’d stop by the travel agency to see if I could get you a cheap vacation to Disney Land Paris and a belated card. I would’ve gotten around to it sooner, but life’s been a little hectic lately.” Jaimie gave a shrug, eyes fixed on him silently working out the distance between them not fancying her chances of getting passed him to the door. “And, for the record, I’m still pissed off with you.” Emphasis on the word still, showing that she was holding onto a long running feeling of annoyance towards him. He had, after all, cause her to miss her mothers funeral. But, she couldn’t let that irritation steer the conversation, she had an agenda. “But, since I was in the area, I thought I should pay you a visit – you know, to see how you were doing and all. I’m shocked, actually,” she gave a slight shrug and step towards the wall, leaning against it as her arms folded across her chest. “I really didn’t think you’d survived. So, Parker, how have you been?

[[Dear Canada, I am led to believe that you like waffles, so I lovingly crafted you this post by gluing hundreds of waffles together to form a MEGA-HELL-OVA-LOTTA-WAFFLE. Enjoy.]]


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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 21 2012, 07:00 PM


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Group: MALL RATS
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Joined: 20-December 11



Hardly two minutes into the conversation, and Shannon was already chastising him like an errant child. Parker's smile widened at the simple pleasure of familiarity - just like that they'd slipped right back into their games of cat and mouse, though as per usual their roles were prone to changing at a whim. As much as most agents sought to be the predator, the hunter, the dominant party, Parker and Shannon had always been playing on a different level. He pursued her, yes, but at the same time she toyed with him and the Bureau like a cat with an injured mouse, letting them think they'd figured out a way to outfox her, then rebuffing their efforts with a deft flick of her hand. And as much as Parker would have liked to be cocky, to know he had the upper hand - he was all too aware that this wasn't the case. Short of dropping her where she stood, he had very little influence over Shannon Dorset anymore. There wasn't an agency to hand her to anymore. Short of the undead outside, there was nothing that could hold her in the mall forever, and no one to hold her accountable for her past transgressions. The game was over. She'd won. But only by luck and a healthy dose of divine intervention.

He shook his head, giving an almost incredulous chuckle at her telling him off, but lowered his weapon nonetheless. She'd never been the type to go out of her way to be violent, not in the past, anyway, and she wasn't visibly armed or threatening. Knowing her, she had a back-up plan in her back pocket, but for now, he was willing to pay ball. He was, after all, reconnecting with an old friend - or the closest thing to a friend he had in Houston these days. Small world. "Can't be too careful," he replied, holstering his sidearm without looking away from the woman. It was surreal, seeing her here of all places. Their face-to-face interactions were rare. To catch her in such a mundane place was unheard of. "Last time we talked, a complete stranger literally tried to take a chunk out of me while you took off the other way." He recalled their previous encounter lightly, the smile never quite dying from his lips, as though they were making comment on the weather. It wasn't quite how Parker remembered it - he'd lost two good agents that day, good men and better friends. But Shannon wasn't the sentimental sort, not like that. She'd pick up on it, remember it, and use it to her advantage the next time they met. "Have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing how you plan to top that. Zombies - I thought of a lot of things you'd try, but I did not see that coming."

He chuckled again at her quip about Disneyland Paris, waving a dismissive hand at her mention of things being hectic. "Don't worry about it," he said, airily as ever, shrugging as though it didn't much matter to him. He'd been worried about her, disproportionately if he took the time to think about it, but she was here now. He'd always guessed she wouldn't take something like the apocalypse as an excuse to lay down and give up. She was tougher than that. He'd bet money she'd at least considered a series of more elaborate cons since last they'd spoken. And he wouldn't be surprised if she'd already pulled them off. "Just seeing your smiling face is enough for me." And wasn't that the biggest crock of shit and the boldest truth, all at once? He'd missed this. He'd missed her. But she was already a pain in his ass - and he had no doubt she wasn't going to let him live in peace after this. It wasn't her style. Some things didn't change, apocalypse or not. Just like her annoyance with him - they were thorns in each others' sides, and stubbornly unwilling to change their tunes.

He chuckled at her open admission if dislike, not at all fazed by it, and moved further into the shop, casting her a look of mild interest before wandering to the front desk and taking a seat on the edge of it. It wouldn't do him any good to corner her - as much as the old, die-hard competitive streak compelled him to 'cuff her there and then. She'd just get more reactive, and Parker wasn't particularly interested in getting into a fistfight with a fugitive from his past. Instead, he leaned back a little on the desk, one foot touching the ground, the other dangling. He folded his arms, mirroring her action, and quirked a brow at her admission. She hadn't expected him to survive? Well, wasn't that a fine thing to say. He chuckled, lifting a hand to rub the hair at his nape, and shook his head. "Ah, you know, can't complain... Been quiet without you. Was thinking the other day, I might actually have to get myself a hobby." He grinned. They both knew well enough that things like 'hobbies' didn't apply to him, not when he was on Shannon's case. She rarely gave him enough time to meet his neighbours, let alone develop any meaningful hobbies. The closest thing he'd come to being a collector was keeping all the parcels, cards and crafts he'd gotten from her. Even that was a full-time job. "But I'm guessing, since you're still" he mirrored her inflection, "pissed off with me, and you're paying me a visit even though you weren't sure I was alive, that you're not here for a social visit." From experience, he'd come to expect her appearances as serving one of three purposes - rubbing it in his face that he still hadn't caught her, a wilful diversion to set him on a false track, or evading danger by putting him (and by extension, the agency) between her and something that hadn't quite gone to plan. He was trusting she hadn't changed her tune since the outbreak, and he doubted she would risk facing him this closely just to brag. Nor did she have any reason to think he'd be pursuing her. That left door number three. "So what've you been up to, Shannon? Still playing the same games? Any angry mobs I should be aware of?"

[...you know my weakness. <3 Waffles. <3 Shan-Jai-Park-Ale- whatever. <3 Booser.]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 22 2012, 04:14 PM


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Group: PRICE CHOPPERS
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Member No.: 753
Joined: 28-November 11




Jaimie had never been one to fit stereotypes – she wasn’t some, supposed, red-blooded American who believed in her right to carry a gun, nor was she some gung-ho criminal that went everywhere tooled up. In actuality, she hated guns, hated every last thing about them and especially hated the sorts of people who tended to carry them – cops and other, less refined, criminals. Once or twice it had been necessary for her to arm herself – purely for protection, of course – but she’d never had to fire a weapon and, even with the world the way it was, she wanted to keep it that way. Parker had no intention of shooting her, he never had and, honestly, she doubted he ever would. That wasn’t how their game worked, he would take the moral high ground even if it, ultimately, resulted in a loss for him. Alec Parker was, though she would never in a million years admit such a thing aloud, a good man. Honest and prone to doing the right thing, all she needed to do was find a way of making it seem like protecting her was the right thing to do – just as she had done with Henry, though she doubted Parker would be as easily manipulated. Moments later, he holstered the gun and she felt somewhat better with the situation.

Jaimie let out a slight but controlled laugh as he implied that the walking dead had all been part of some elaborate escape place. “Oh, I wish I could claim that as one of mine – it makes the actual escape I had planned seem so mundane.” She bit her lower lip in an effort to stop a grin from forming. “But, if you want to see something more impressive, I’d hate to disappoint...” Jaimie didn’t often think about it, but to a casual observer, their rhetoric – that almost humorous back and forth – would probably have seemed odd and rather ill-suited to their situations. By rights they should have hated each other, diametrically opposed and sitting on opposite ends of the spectrum of right and wrong but they didn’t – oh sure, there was, she was certain, a mild disliking and an absolute distrust. But, other than that, they were almost like old friends – in fact, he was probably the closest she had come to having a friend in a very long time. And that was a somewhat depressing thought. Luckily, she enjoyed it, this – whatever it was between them – and the fact that he knew exactly who and what she was. They would make jokes, they would annoy each other and, ultimately, they would try to one-up each other but she knew who and what she was dealing with when it came to him.

Making a joke about his birthday, a small part of her regretted missing it, if only because the look on his face would have been an absolute picture. Getting him a cake delivered during the zombie apocalypse would have been an unsurpassable feat and it would have driven him insane trying to work it out. Her joke was, naturally, countered by one of his own. Jaimie imagined that, under any other circumstance, her seeming to simply walk up to him without even the faintest whiff of a plan would have made his day, would have made him felt like he had won. “Oh, Parker, you always know just the right thing to say.” She said, placing hand on heart as she spoke. “Though, just so you know, for my birthday I’d rather have a pony than a smile, so you should probably start shopping around for a bargain...” Of course, she had no real intention of staying in the mall another seven months but, she had found, the less he knew, the better. Besides, if he wanted to know anything, he’d have to work for it – she was still annoyed with him, about so many things from her old life. None more so than her mothers funeral, it had been the first time he had really hurt her and she was going to make damn certain he wouldn’t get the chance to do it again.

A part of her had been certain that he was dead – it had proved to be a somewhat numbing thought but it was a feeling she had grown used to over the years. It was odd to be faced with him again and, for a moment or two, she had all but forgotten about poor Henry and the mess she had created. As he moved, she watched, ready to react at a moments notice – she had no plan, no weapon, but it simply wasn’t her style to go down without putting up a hell of a fight first. Had it been anyone else, she would have bolted – well, not, actually that was a lie, had it been anyone else she wouldn’t have even put herself in the situation. Odd as it sounded, she felt safe with him, like she knew exactly what to expect. Oh sure, under different circumstances he would have tried to arrest her but that was to be expected. He’d never been cruel to her or particularly threatening, unlike a couple of the agents that had been sent after her before her case had fallen on his desk. All in all, he was probably one of the safest and most predictable people she had ever know – though that perhaps said more about the people in her life than it did about him. “A hobby, really? Planning on hitting the mid-life crisis a few years early?

Unfortunately, just as she had come to know him, he’d learnt a thing or two about her and, somehow he’d managed to work out that she wasn’t just there to see how he was. This was the point where a lesser person might have cracked and admitted everything and, really, there was a side of her that wanted to. She wanted it all out in the open so he could give her that disapproving look that she knew she deserved. She wanted to break down and cry and scream about the terrible thing she had done with the only person who she thought stood even the slightest chance of understanding. But she didn’t. That would require trust and that was one thing she simply wasn’t capable of giving. Instead the playful smile stayed on her lips masking the self-inflicted inner turmoil. Rolling her eyes, she let out the slightest huff as he used her birth name – something he seemed to delight in doing just to annoy her. “Angry mobs? I feel like I should be offended by that – but you know me, I’m a forgiving sort of person.” She gave a shrug and a grin, uncrossing her arms and forcing her hands into her jean pockets. “Life’s been pretty quiet actually. I’ve been surviving...” And, by surviving, she of course meant lying, cheating and stealing in order to keep herself safe...

[[Long!post is long]]

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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 22 2012, 08:03 PM


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Group: MALL RATS
Posts: 91
Member No.: 810
Joined: 20-December 11



He held in a laugh as she admitted that the zombies weren't her plan, and that they made her original escape plan look mundane by comparison. He didn't doubt she'd had some form of plan when she'd touched down in Houston, but the fact of the matter had been that, except for the 'act of god' they'd experienced, she wouldn't have made it out of the airport out of handcuffs. For once, it didn't matter what strings she'd pulled in preparation of her arrival, she wouldn't have escaped. Parker maintained that notion, in spite of how it had ended up going down. She could claim victory by zombie, but they both knew the game was as good as done before the outbreak. Their timing had just been a little off. "You haven't disappointed yet," he assured her - quite truthfully, too. He'd seen his share of criminals, of lawlessness that churned his stomach. He'd been the victim of it, years ago, when he'd received the news that his father was never coming home. Shannon was different. He disagreed with her methods, but her craft was remarkable, her elusiveness more so. Had it been prudent - and it would never have been, but for the sake of argument, if he'd made an exception - he might have allowed himself to admire her. She was smart. She was talented. And it made it all the more upsetting that she'd fallen out of lawful conduct. But such was life. Without people like her, Parker would have been out of a job. And while her antagonism grated his nerves in the office, Parker had to admit, he loved his job.

Their banter was unconventional, but there had never been anything conventional about her. He'd learned quickly that idle banter and small tokens often held the biggest clues into her character, into her plans. The trick was discerning the clues from the chatting without getting so wrapped up in analysis that he stopped engaging her. She was a brat, and like any bratty child who didn't get their way, if he didn't play her games, she was prone to sulking and refusing to play ball with him at all. He had to laugh at that, if only because her next demand confirmed every suspicion of closet-brat he'd ever had. A pony. Parker rolled his eyes, looking up and adopting a considering look, before shaking his head. "You're not getting a pony," he said, in his best talking-down-a-quarrelling-child voice. "For one thing, you're never home. I'm not going to end up feeding and cleaning up after a damn horse because my fugitive lost interest in it after two weeks." He shook his head, mock-exasperated. They'd argued over less. And he was fairly sure she was just being an evasive ass, not telling him thinly-veiled plans about world domination using ponies. "Besides, Ponies-R-Us shut down months ago. And you never let me get you a gift anyway. I've always wanted to throw you a party, and you're always too busy." Busy evading the law. Mocking him. Forging artwork. Buying him inappropriate birthday cards. Conning unsuspecting civilians. Breaking up his relationships with awkwardly-timed phone calls. She led a busy life.

Part of him was surprised when she didn't bolt as soon as he moved. She didn't strike him as skittish, per se, but definitely cautious, and if he hadn't forgotten the hoops she'd made him jump through, he knew she wouldn't have given up on years' worth of suspicion and mistrust. That was both good and bad in different measures - good, that she was sticking around long enough for him to start trying to figure out what part of this conversation she was going to use to instigate something, bad, that she was desperate enough to allow him this close. Something was up. It was more a matter of wondering when the shit would hit the fan than if it would. He'd skipped over that part of the equation already.

Her jibe prompted another shake of his head, followed by a carefree shrug as he absently jiggled his hanging foot. Staying still for long never had meshed well with Parker. Desk work would have been the death of him. But Shannon gave him something to focus on. He was enjoying himself. "Well, with everything that's happened, I might've missed the chance for a mid-life crisis. Wanted to catch up." He fixed her a smirk in spite of the flash of pessimism. Again, he sensed a hint of brattishness in her. She struck him as the jealous type - the kind of woman who always wanted to be the best, to be without comparison. Her antagonism had seemed to centre mostly on when he'd been busy with other things - as though she was displeased by the lack of attention he'd given her. He suspected Laura was a casualty of that. Jaimie was rarely malicious, but her attentions were often questionably playful. "But... now I know you're here, I guess I can hold off on the decoupage. Unless you really did want that present..."

Their verbal sparring seemed to be getting somewhere, slowly but surely. They'd established that very little had changed between them, and seemed to have settled on an unspoken truce - he didn't come after her and she didn't vanish in the next breath. And that meant that they were getting down to some form of business. She hadn't come just to smile and bandy words with him - of that, Parker was sure. Her response to his query about angry mobs didn't restore an awful lot of his faith in her. She might not have them on her right now, but one of the cardinal rules when pursuing Shannon Dorset was to follow the chaos, or the conspicuous lack thereof. She was what she was, and the woman she was wasn't the type to move through life without causing some form of ripple effect. He raised a brow at her nonchalant stance, looking her up and down and shaking his head again as she said that life had been pretty quiet so far. Her version of survival and his were quiet different, of that he was sure. Hers involved a lot more deceit. "So what you're telling me," he said, his tone matter-of-fact while he laid out the information she was feeding him. "Is that if I go out and talk to people, no one's going to be exalting your virtues or lamenting your existence?" He sorely doubted it, as much as he'd like to believe it. "Why'd you decide to survive in these parts? Seems anywhere but here'd be better than wasting your time talking to me."

[Is all good. Don't feel obligated to match. I feel like our posts always get longer and longer. XDD]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 23 2012, 03:59 PM


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Member No.: 753
Joined: 28-November 11




Truth be told – though, when Jaimie was involved it rarely was – she hadn’t had much of a plan, in fact she hadn’t even known that Parker had been waiting for her at the airport until it was too late. But, she wasn’t about to admit that, to him or herself. She’d gotten herself out of worse situations and was silently certain she would have found a way to escape him. Ultimately, theirs was a battle of the wits and neither was prepared to concede defeat even when confronted with the impossible. There was no way her little slip up at the airport would have been the end of the game. “Flattery will get you nowhere.” She told him with a smirk, despite flattery being one of her own favourite weapons. It wouldn’t work on her, just as she was certain her own charms wouldn’t work on him. Even if either side felt the urge to profess anything genuine it would, no doubt, be disregarded as a lie by the other. They were so entrenched in their game, their utter mistrust of one another, that it begged the question of how they could even stand to be in the same room as each other. Every time he moved, her pulse quickened, but, though her own movements were just as closely watch, she doubted she was having the same effect on him. But she had every reason to be nervous, he was bigger than her and he had a gun.

Sometimes the way he spoke to her, that admonishing tone, made him sound like he was playing the part of an older sibling – someone concerned and put-out by her antics rather than someone sworn to stop her. At least, she imagined it was how an older brother would sound, but, in and of itself, it was a silly notion. No older brother of hers would be a cop, an upstanding and moral individual. Parker wouldn’t have become Parker if he’d grown up with the Dorset family, no, instead he would have been twisted and broken just as she had been by the abuse of her father. Instead he had been spared that and given a father he could respect and emulate and Jaimie couldn’t help but wonder if that was really all it would have taken for things to turn out differently for her. She pouted a little as he told her she couldn’t have a pony and started to list the reasons – though she couldn’t quite suppress the slightest smirk as he referred to her as his fugitive. It was oddly sweet, in a strange and uncomfortable way and, if nothing else, showed he was still just as obsessed with their little game as he had ever been. “Well my schedule has freed up a little, recently.” She offered when he admitted wanting to throw her a party. “But I don’t know what sort of party it would be without ponies, or, in the very least, a petting zoo.” A hand rose to brush a wayward strand of hair behind her ear as she gave a shrug.

He moved again, and again she found her pulse start to race – he was a good man, she reminded herself but couldn’t help but question how much the end of the world had changed him. Surely not enough to make him even start to consider trying to hurt her. Parker kept his distance, though unconsciously, she shuffled back ever so slightly against the wall, eyes momentarily flitting from him to the door and back again. The banter continued, jokes were made and both seemed to be trying to keep their cards close to their chests – Jaimie because she didn’t want him to know what she had been doing and Parker, she assumed, because he didn’t want to give her anything she could use against him. He was obnoxiously clever like that – some might even call him a smart ass – it was what made him a worthy opponent. Jaimie let out an honest laugh at his next comment. “Decoupage? Really? You live in a mall and that’s the best hobby you could come up with?” Shaking her head, it took a moment for the laughter to subside, then, for a moment paused, eyes narrowing on him in thought. “You know, if you wanted to pick up an arty hobby and get me a present, I know where we can find some lovely Manet’s and Pissarro’s.” An eyebrow rose and a somewhat cheeky expression appeared on her face. Of course, there was no doubt in her mind that the very last thing he’d want to do was help her raid abandoned galleries looking for old paintings that now were truly priceless.

As the conversation continued, it was clear to see what he was up to, trying his damnedest to work out why she was there when, by rights, he should have been one of the very last people she wanted to see. She could have saved them both the time and bother by simply coming clean about everything – perhaps even managed to win some of his respect for being so honest about it – but she couldn’t. Jaimie didn’t know why but, at that moment, seeing the look of disappointment and loathing on his face would have crushed her. Sick as it was, this twisted little game of theirs was the only good thing she had left and she wanted to enjoy it for as long as she could before it all came crashing down. “It’s not my fault that some people like me more than others. Besides, I can take care of myself.” Though, taking care of herself, was usually what landed her in trouble in the first place. Hands firmly in her pockets, she shifted her weight from leg to leg, eyes dropping to the floor for a moment or two before back to him. “I’m just passing through – I had a friend who was heading this way to find his wife, so I thought I’d tag along. And, well, it’s all getting a little too emotional for my liking so I thought I’d get out of the way.” By emotional, she meant that at any minute she expected to hear angry screaming and crying. “I doubt I’ll stay long, probably just a couple of weeks I imagine, so you’ll be able to pick up that hobby after all – you know me, I’m just not the settling down type.” Another shrug and a chuckle to break the seriousness. It was for the best really – she couldn’t very well stay in the mall with Parker and Henry. “And if any angry mobs happen to form while I’m here,” really she should have said when, “I’ll make sure you’re kept out of it.” Yeah right, like that would ever happen. Even if she didn’t want him involved, he’d still find out, still throw himself in the middle of it all and, perhaps, really, that was what she was relying upon...

[[You have no idea how much I was grinning at the decoupage part xDD]]

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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 23 2012, 08:42 PM


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Flattery will get you nowhere. Bold words, given the speaker had spent much of her life flattering her way into and out of people's lives, taking what she wanted, leaving what she didn't, and carrying on without a backward glance. But, he supposed, in this case it was true. All the flattery in the world wouldn't make them trust one another, not after what they'd been through at the expense of each other. It was ingrained in their relationship, was part of what kept Parker on the case in the first place. There was no such thing as an easy day around Shannon Dorset. There wasn't time for him to kick up his feet and relax, to take time off, to think about less important things. She kept him guessing, kept his mind constantly in gear. He didn't risk boredom around her, and that was something that he couldn't say about many other people in his life. Poor Laura hadn't had a chance, not with someone like Jaimie lingering around the peripheral of his attention at all times.

"I can get you a petting zoo," he said, his expression dubious. He scratched his jaw, seeming to go through the options in his head before continuing. "But the local wildlife is a bit... deader... than I think you'd like." Corralling a bunch of zombies wouldn't be the most difficult thing to do. Hell, it wouldn't even count as the strangest thing he'd done in the name of pursuing Shannon "Jaimie" Dorset. Not by a long shot. "Problem is, if people ignore the 'keep fingers out of cage' rule, we'll have worse things than lawsuits on our hands." Zombie bites: ruining birthday parties since 2012. Parker grinned, shrugging with equal nonchalance. "There is a party supply store downstairs. I'm sure we could pick up a pony piñata for you. Maybe pin the tail on the donkey?" He grinned, though he suspected that information was going to come back and bite him in the ass before she took off into the sunset again. He'd have to make sure to lock down the store properly when he left, from now on. He wouldn't put it past her to decorate the whole damn place, if only for the satisfaction of seeing him walk around with glitter all over him and streamers trailing from his shoes the next day. Still, the idea of her coming close enough for him (or any of the other survivors) to blindfold her and spin her around was laughable. He had a feeling that if he tried, he'd fall victim to the piñata bat - probably as a cleverly-disguised 'accident'. Either way, parties were not the kind of thing Parker expected Shannon to join in on. They were too intimate for her, required her to get far too close to people with far too little control over what might happen. For all the risks she took, she was predictable. She wouldn't let another person near her unless she was in complete control - which was part of why this scenario didn't make any sense to Parker. This was out of character. Something had changed, she just hadn't told him what yet.

Her laugh prompted one of his own, but he muted it, grinning and shaking his head at her accusation. "Hey. Decoupage never hurt anyone," he countered, as though it mattered a damn. Her next suggestion sparked another laugh, and this time he succumbed to it, chuckling as he looked at the ground, his fingers pressing against his eyes as though he couldn't quite believe they were discussing stealing paintings, after everything they'd been through. He suspected that was the reaction she'd wanted anyway - and in all honesty, he really couldn't fully believe they were having this conversation at the end of the world. In a mall. In Houston. Damn, how things changed. "To be honest I don't really give a damn about them," he said, lifting his eyes to look at her again, halfway serious now. "I'd rather see something you made with your own hands. Something from your own head." And there, his thoughts spiralled back to the thing that always struck him when he went to sleep at night. It was a shame she hadn't started a legitimate career. She was more talented than a knockoff copycat, however accurate her forgeries were. She owed herself more. But asking her to change her tune was like asking a freight train to stop on a dime - damn near impossible. Neither would listen, no matter who asked them. "If you want a present, I'll get you an art set." And demand a signed painting, for posterity's sake. But he wouldn't say that - it'd boost her ego far too much.

He quirked a brow at her response to his reasoning, taking a moment to dissect her words. He had a funny feeling he'd hit home on that one - she would've avoided his place like the plague if it weren't for something brewing on the horizon. She hadn't seemed surprised to see him, even if she hadn't thought he'd be alive. She was here on purpose. Something was about to erupt. To her claim that she could take care of herself, he said nothing. He couldn't argue with her. She'd looked after herself for a long time - but not necessarily by honourable means. He still has his suspicions about the fate of her father, among other things. When push came to shove, when she was a cornered animal, he believed her capable of violence. When the stakes weren't quite as high, she was good at her games - she was more than capable of fending for herself. But that still left the dilemma - why was she here? The hands in her pockets, the way she shifted her weight back and forth, it all screamed something was amiss. Something was being left unsaid. Uncharacteristically, Parker wanted sorely to grab her by the shoulders and shake the rest of the words out of her. It frustrated him, not being able to piece together her train of thought. But that wasn't the way to handle her. Patience worked much better - and Parker had never been one to manhandle people unless they deserved it. She didn't. Yet.

Friend. The word struck Parker as odd, coming from Shannon. She didn't have friends, not in the conventional sense of the word. Accomplices? Yes. Friends? No. He hesitated to consider what kind of friends Shannon might be keeping, but then found himself troubled by the second half of the sentence. A man looking for his wife. His thoughts went immediately to Lexi - missing her husband, raising her child alone. From what Parker had heard, Lexi's husband wasn't the sort he would have equated as friends with Shannon. That, and the mention of emotional sent off warning bells in his head. He breathed, looking at Shannon as though her very next action would spell it out for him. He hoped emotional meant positive things. He suspected they didn't. And he suspected that at any moment now, someone was going to be marching down here to rip out someone's throat. He sighed, a weary smile hovering on his lips. He doubted it would last long. "Here I was, just starting to settle in. And you're going to make me move again." He'd complain that it wasn't fair, but if he were honest, he was already anticipating the chase. It was purposeless now, except for the joy of it all, but that was enough. He'd never liked being cooped up for too long. "And see, you say that now," he paused, shaking his head for the umpteenth time (funny, how that was what she reduced him to), and laughing softly to himself. "I'm betting less than three days before you've got me knee deep in shit. And I'll give you fair warning - I'm not going to lie for you. If you're anyone other than Shannon Dorset to them, it's probably best if you steer clear of here." He wouldn't actively sell her out, but he'd be damned if he became an accomplice to her survival strategies.

[The decoupage was my shameless fangirling. Also, this damn thread is like crack to me. I love Jaimie/Parker. Also, one day, Parker's going to surprise her with an actual pony.]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 24 2012, 08:55 AM


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The fascination with animals was a childish one but pets were the one indulgence she had never allowed herself. But Parker was right, she’d never been in a position to look after an animal – that and the fact she still remembered the soul destroying feeling of finding the family dog dead under the trailer a few months before her fourteenth birthday. She managed to pull the old wolfhound out and spent a good few hours crying next to the body before her sister found her and dragged her away. More than anything, she missed the companionship a pet brought, the way that, as long as you loved them, they loved you, regardless of the life you lived. “A zombie petting zoo? You know what, I don’t think you have much of a future in party planning. Sorry Parker, it’s ponies or nothing.” Jaimie wondered if he’d ever even been to a party before – he didn’t exactly strike her as the partying type. Not that she was an especially big fan of parties – oh she loved throwing them, making her something of a Gatsby-esque character, but she only ever really made an appearance to let people know that it was her party. But the idea of a party with him? No, that probably wouldn’t have ended well. “I’m not really a blindfold sort of gal.” She told him with a devious grin as he suggested two party games that involved blindfolds – just because she knew he was an honest man, didn’t mean she’d ever trust him like that.

And she was pretty such she’d never be able to trust a person who did decoupage – or scrap-booking for that matter, all that playing around with glue seemed strange to her. The fact that he could hardly stand still made it even more funny and made her doubt he had the patience for anything even remotely artistic. As for his comment about decoupage never hurting anything, well, she knew what his intention was but she wasn’t going to rise to it. “What about papercuts or all those poor people who end up gluing their fingers together with varnish?” She retorted adopting a serious tone before suggesting he joined her in stealing some fine art. Of course he said no, instead saying he’d rather see something that’s she’d made herself. Jaimie couldn’t help but roll her eyes, letting out an irritated sigh. On some levels it annoyed her, the way he seemed to think she was wasting her talent – she had always wanted to be an artist, that had been the plan, her and Jaimie were going to live in New York, her painting and her sister acting. That door had been cruelly shut on her the moment she killed her father. So for him to make such accusations was like telling a man who’d lost his legs that he used to be good at running. It was a painful reminder of what could have been if only she’d done what she’d done a hundred times before and simply took what her father had to give rather than fighting back. “No thanks, don’t suppose I’ll find any time to make good use of it. Besides, there’s not much call for artwork these days...” In truth, she didn’t really want a present from him – she didn’t want to feel like she owed him anything. It wasn’t how the game worked. When she sent him cards and presents it was with the aim of annoying him, of reminding him that he still hadn’t caught her.

She was starting to wonder why she had even bothered, how she had ever thought that this might be a good idea, he wasn’t going to help her, not in any useful way at least. Mostly, Jaimie supposed, she had just wanted to see if he was really still alive and the conversation that followed was nothing more than a reprieve from the character she had spent the last seven or so months playing. It was the longest she had stayed in one place in years and definitely the longest she had kept up a persona. Regardless of his low opinion of her and the things she had done, it was nice to be herself again. Regretting using the word friend the moment the look on his face changed, Jaimie found herself looking to the floor. No, she didn’t have friends, they both knew that. Maybe one day she might have been able to let people into her life, but he had always been there, always following, getting in the way. He ruined her life and she ruined his. It stood to reason that he wouldn’t help her, despite the world being over and done with, he was still a cop and she knew better than most that, it didn’t really matter what side of the law you were on, you could never trust a cop. She’d known cops growing up, she’d served them in the diner, just as her mother had for years before – they’d seen the bruises, the broken bones and it didn’t take a genius to work out where they were coming from but no one lifted a finger to help or even bothered to even ask about it.

Parker started to speak, again using that annoying tone, now dragging the conversation to a more serious level. “That’s not fair.” She blurted angrily, her composure crumbling in the moment and the smile vanishing from her lips. Biting her lower lip she took a moment to collect herself before starting again. “You know I don’t use that name and I’m not going to start now just because of you.” She responded adamantly. No, Shannon Dorset was dead, Jaimie didn’t want to be the little girl on the run anymore, the little girl who’d killed her father for putting his hands on her. “I don’t see why you have to make such a big deal about it, people change their names all the time. Did you ever think that maybe there’s a reason I don’t want that name anymore?” Suddenly they had gone from fun and playful to utterly frustrating in the amount of time it had taken for him to say that name. For the most part she was more bothered by the principle of the matter than she was about Henry finding out – the shit hitting the fan on that one seem more inevitable with each moment that passed. Moving her hands from her pocket she folded her arms defensively across her chest. “You know what, I’ll just go, find somewhere else to stay. I always did better on my own anyway.” She would have left on that, but he was still between her and the door and Jaimie didn’t like the idea of getting that close to him unless she really had to. Then again, she also didn’t like the idea of having to leave the mall, especially on her own, but she hated the idea of living around people who knew who she really was even more. In that moment she wanted to break down and confess everything, she wanted to cry and scream about the horrible things she had done but even if she could allow herself to cry in front of him, she knew he’d never believe it.

[[Shameless fangirling FTFW. If he gets her a pony she'd be like this or she'd be like this and then this xDD]]

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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 24 2012, 09:46 PM


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If she expected waterworks at her denying him the right to party-plan, she would be sorely disappointed. As much as he didn't have her pegged as a party-girl, he'd never been much interested in the party scene. By the time he'd grown out of attending children's parties, he'd developed the nagging voice of a conscience telling him that the things most of the teenagers in his neighbourhood were doing were wrong. By the time he'd gone through school and training at Quantico he'd waved the party days farewell - a few beers with his partner was as exciting as Parker's weekend got on the rare occasion he took time off at all. He'd never understood the fascination with planning elaborate gatherings, either. He spent enough time on duty organizing people, setting up situations and shipping himself here, there and the other place that the prospect of doing it on his free time was decidedly less than appealing. He pegged that as why he and Laura had got on so well for the short time they were together - she hadn't the guts for adventure, so she was willing to organize the simple, day-to-day niceties Parker didn't indulge in while he did enough high-stakes work for the both of them. Hell, Laura would have been all over organizing Shannon a surprise party, if she were around now. Well no, that was a lie. She'd probably still be nursing a grudge against him and his 'other woman', and would have already taken it out on Parker and Shannon both with the stick intended for the piñata. Come to think of it, Parker was amassing a sticky track record when it came to women... and he'd never even committed one of the unforgivable relationship sins. Such was life, bizarre as it was.

He quirked a brow at her decoupage retort, taking a moment to imagine sitting down and turning on the six-o'clock news to hear about the tragic decoupage accident that had claimed the lives of three people. He huffed a laugh. "Alright, but it's no worse than huffing paint fumes or being crushed by a statue," he countered. There were worse artistic accidents than paper cuts. Hell, even hot glue guns caused more damage than paper cuts. And apparently, so did offhand, somewhat-true comments, judging by the reaction he got to mentioning an original piece from Shannon. As much as he tried to get inside her head from the bits and pieces about her he'd assembled over the years, he'd never understood why a person with so much talent would be content to produce knock-offs of other people's work. He would have guessed, just by the joy she took in being the centre of his attention, that she would have loved to be the 'in' thing, to have people scrambling for her attention. But she didn't, or at least, she'd never seemed to, though part of that likely had to do with having the feds constantly on her tail. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I don't know," he said, feigning nonchalance. "There's a market for damn near anything if you know where to look." And if she put any effort into it, he knew she'd be able to tap into it. She was well practised in that art. But honest work and Shannon Dorset had never really gone hand in hand - he doubted she would start it now.

Calling her by her given name was habit for Parker - a tendency he didn't even realize he was doing, but quite suddenly after he used it he was face to face with Shannon - Jaimie - at her most expressive. The few times they'd spoken face to face, he hadn't seen this side of her - the closest comparison he had was the phone call he'd received about her mother's funeral, when he'd told her he wouldn't stay away. He'd felt like a rat bastard after that, and a small part of him felt guilty for inspiring this anger in her, but the majority of him frowned, taking in the miniature explosion with trained indifference. This was Shannon at her most honest - when she wasn't putting on an act, when her foundations were rattled. It was a rare glimpse of her, and just as quickly it was covered up, though she seemed no less upset when she spoke again. Parker's expression remained impassive, but his dangling foot had stopped twitching - a hint that he was acutely focused on her. He didn't respond to her adamant reply - he knew she called herself Jaimie but that was irrelevant to him, her name was Shannon. It was her next statement that earned her a soft snort - a little derisive, not because he thought she didn't have a good reason, but for the fact that she didn't realize why it was a big deal to Parker. A lot of people changed their names - a lot of people weren't Shannon Dorset.

"You haven't said an honest word since you took that name, Shannon," he said, reaching for his gun an tugging it from its holster. He began dissembling it, his eyes on his work, not on the woman sharing the store with him. It wasn't practical - he'd have to get past her to get to his cleaning supplies, and he didn't trust her anywhere near enough to let her be alone with his gun, assembled or otherwise, but it was something to keep his hands busy, and he sorely needed the distraction right now. "You're a better person than most of the people that land on my desk, but no one who knows Jaimie Malack knows the real you, do they?" Jaimie Malack was a mask. A cleverly-constructed mask, a skin that could change colour chameleon-style to fit into her surroundings. But it wasn't who she was. "If you were forging paintings in your basement for the love of the craft I would've been happy to look the other way. But honest people keep getting caught in your crossfire, and I have a problem with that." He took each part of the weapon apart with exaggerated precision, laying it out on the desk next to him in careful formation. He looked up at her. "Look me in the eye and tell me you haven't fucked things up for an innocent person and I'll call you whatever you want." He knew now, from the indignation she'd had when he said he wouldn't lie for her, that she wouldn't be able to do it, not honestly. As much as he admired her for her talents, both artistic and evasive, she used them for her own gain, and good, innocent people were constantly getting hurt in the process. Even Laura, plain, simple Laura, had fallen victim to it, when Jaimie had inadvertently upended that relationship. And that wasn't fair to those she hurt. At her threat to leave, Parker simply fixed her with a stare, then jerked his head toward the door. "Go ahead. I'm not going to fight with you, Shannon. You're a big girl."

[XDDD I had a shield! A red one!]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 04:12 PM


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They could stand around and shoot the shit all day if he wanted, it didn’t bother her, even when she took into consideration the amount of time she had spent hiding from him and the fact that she still wanted to punch him for her mothers funeral. It was better than dealing with the inevitable. Anything was better than what was to come. Her stomach lurched, grumbling and protesting at not having been fed in god only knew how long but, for the time being, she chose to ignore it. Hunger had become her default state of being since this mess started, it was probably her least favourite part of the apocalypse, well, that and not being able to get a hot shower. Years ago she’d made herself a promise that she’d never have to go hungry again after all those years skipping meals just to avoid sitting around the table with her old man and all those times all they had to eat were diner scraps after the families money had gone with the man to a local bar. But none of the promises she had made herself about changing her life had factored in the walking dead and now she was left fending for herself with no goal other than survival.

An eyebrow rose and she resisted the urge to laugh. “Oh, I don’t know, paint fumes can be very inspiring...” Jaimie gave another shrug. While she’d never actively ‘huffed’ paint, she had always enjoyed the smell in much the same way that some people were partial to the smell of old books or new cars. From there on, the conversation started to deteriorate. Although Jaimie never expected him to be able to understand the full weight of what he was saying to her, she couldn’t help but resent his words. To her it felt like he was pointing out what she could have done if she hadn’t so spectacularly fucked up her life. Like a school guidance councillor trying to get her to consider art school, knowing full well that there was no way she’d even be able to afford the supplies let alone the tuition and accommodation. She couldn’t help but wonder what it was like living in his rose-tinted world. His off-handed response only annoyed her more – he’d made the initially comment and now, when the conversation wasn’t going his way, when she wasn’t gushing and giggling at him, he didn’t care anymore. Typical. “Right, because the one thing people need during the apocalypse is something fancy to hang on the wall.” She muttered sarcastically.

It used to be that Jaimie could take anything in her stride. The world had hardened her, made her seemingly indifferent to what people thought about her. After her first couple of years in New York living with Tom, she’d gain the confidence she hadn’t been allowed growing up and a sense of worth that she had previously been denied – she’d become a person in her own right, an individual with no one to answer to but herself. It took a lot to rattle her but, finally, she was starting to crack. Wounded pride wanted to put it down to the fact she hadn’t slept a full night in months and couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten enough to actually feel full. But it wasn’t just that, not anymore. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she was carrying a burdened conscience, an extra weight she could have done without. And it wasn’t the only thing she could have done without. Annoyance seeped to the surface and a part of her was seriously considering marching over to him and simply punching him in the face – not because she thought it would achieve anything useful, just because it’d feel good. As he started to reply, he started to play with the gun not even doing her the courtesy of looking at her. Finally he was being honest with her, he was being the man who didn’t let her go to her mothers funeral, the man who only gave a damn about the case. Not that she'd ever allowed herself to believe otherwise...

You’re so full of shit.” She quickly told him as he tried to make it seem like the reason for change her name was simply to make the lies easier. Lies had always been a massive part of her life and, to some extent, the ones told before taking up her preferred moniker had caused far more damage than the ones after. Lies told to friends, teachers and doctors about mysterious bruises and broken bones, about why her sister was absent from school or why her mother would have to miss work. Her whole childhood had been spent hiding behind lies that protected her father knowing that the truth would cause more damage than good – they would have been taken away, put in foster care and, potentially, split up. So she had lied, endured her fathers drunken rages and, in the end, she still managed to lose her sister. She wasn’t going to go back to being that girl just to appease Alec fucking Parker. “And you do, I suppose?” Jaimie sarcastically asked, already knowing it to be redundant. He didn’t know the real her, clearly he didn’t even know the first thing about her. For a moment she let her eyes close, bracing herself against the wall in as casual a manner as she could managed. Even through the worst of it, she’d never felt like laying down and dying, giving up but now even she wasn’t sure it was worth it anymore. She couldn’t even bring herself to look at him in defiance as he called her out.

Moments later she managed to stand straight again long enough to fold her arms across her chest, stating her intention to leave and, in that moment, she meant every word. “You know, for someone who’s always acting so damn smug, you really are an idiot.” Shaking her head, a hand found the wall again. All that time he’d spent harassing her family, chasing her and ruining any chance she had of being able to settle, he really didn’t know her. Taking a couple of steps, she slowly started towards the door, staying next to the wall, a hand running along it before she had to stop. Turning to face the wall, she placed a palm against the smooth surface and her forehead against the back of her hand, eyes closing again. So much for making a graceful exit. Letting out a sigh, Jaimie resolved to leave, just as soon as she didn’t feel ready to fall over, all the time reminding herself that she could take care of herself and would never play the damsel in distress. Fortunately she was in good company – short of falling down and dying in front of him, Jaimie doubted Parker would care. “Fucking cops, you’re all the same...” She muttered to herself not sure whether her heart was beating fast because she was so suddenly worn out by everything or because she was that pissed off.

[[Peasants had their backs flayed for looking at me funny. It was brutal, but it worked! <33 … I think I’m having Hal withdrawl… ]]


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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 10:25 PM


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Joined: 20-December 11



"So I've heard," he said, faintly amused at the implication of her words. If he hadn't been much of a partier, he'd certainly never been much of a recreational drug user. His conscience wouldn't have let him if he wanted to. Oddly, Parker suspected she had never used her paint as 'inspiration' before either. Her trade required immaculate control of the senses. While a high might have sparked her creative juices, he doubted it'd do much good when it came to exactly mirroring a work of art. He gave her an almost quizzical stare when she shot back a sarcastic comment on his suggestion - apparently not seeing the compliment buried in his faith in her work. For all the hours he'd put into poring over her file, he failed to see the barb in mentioning a legitimate lifestyle, but that could have been put down to his own upbringing. 'Can't' was not a word Parker had grown up with. It was one of his father's nuggets of wisdom that Parker had taken to heart when he died - there is always a way, no matter the odds. Some things were more difficult than others, but it came down to persistence. It was that determination that had driven him to pursue a career with the FBI and that dedication that made his several-year pursuit of Shannon Dorset worthwhile. It was that motto that made it difficult for Parker to reconcile the fact that Shannon had had two opportunities in her life to shed the past and create an identity she could be proud of, but was still so desperately clinging to her masks.

It had opened a new channel in their conversation now, one that was raw and probably as unfiltered as they'd ever been with one another. Parker rarely went into conversations under false pretences, but he was well aware that Shannon did. To see her this way, visibly rattled, noticeably unsettled, was remarkable. Remarkable, and a tad dangerous. He'd never experienced this first-hand. He wasn't positive what she was capable of when she was riled up. He had his suspicions about certain circumstances, but her behaviour had never been out of character again. Here and now, being dead straight with her was to paddle in uncharted waters - only safe if there weren't monsters lurking just beneath the surface. But Parker didn't have another filter, and strangely, he trusted her not to bash his brains in then and there. Shannon was untrustworthy as all hell, but she didn't strike him as the kind of woman who would go out of her way to cause misery on another person unless they truly deserved it. While that still technically put him at risk, at least he could guess the depths of these waters with some degree of accuracy. Revenge later was a distinct possibility, but for now that was the least of his worries.

He fixed her with a blank stare as she told him he was full of shit, waiting to hear a better story he was sure would never come. He suspected he hadn't actually been that far off. While no one would come out and say exactly what had gone on between Shannon and her father and the rest of the family, there was enough implied that Parker could guess at her upbringing. She'd lived in a very small world back then, and small worlds had a way of swallowing people whole. He could sympathize with that, could try and understand what that did to a person, but then Jaimie Malack had been born. When she'd adopted that moniker, she'd gone from being a victim of circumstance to a perpetrator. It wasn't until she'd taken her new name that she'd become someone to whom deception was almost a game as much as a way of life. Shannon was a victim who could be understood and, hopefully, helped. Jaimie was an entity who thrived off deceiving others. That was the distinction in Parker's mind.

"I know about you," he replied, shrugging his shoulders as he dismantled the gun. "That's a damn sight more than them." And by them, he meant the mall's population. The friend she'd come with. The people she'd undoubtedly conned since the outbreak. He knew enough about her to not trust her as far as he could throw her. And from the distinct lack of protest over him calling her out on hurting honest people, he had a feeling he was doing a lot better than the poor bastard she'd arrived with. He'd be hearing about this sooner or later. As per usual, Shannon's arrival would be amongst chaos. As per usual, it would be Parker who had to coordinate the clean-up efforts. And he'd been having such a nice day...

At that point, her threatening to walk out on him wasn't exactly the worst thing he could think of. He was tired. He wasn't in the mood to deal with this shit. He needed sleep, he needed personal space, and he needed to clean his gun before he would be even remotely in the right mood to deal with her. Unfortunately, things weren't quite that easy. She gave him a double-barrelled insult, and he gave a grunt of acknowledgement in return, otherwise refusing to play ball with the insult-fest she was brewing. Yeah, he was the smug idiot. That sounded about right. She started to leave, and Parker watched her go from under a downturned brow, noting the hesitation, the way she stopped and folded against the wall as though overwhelmed. His guard was up immediately. She'd have to be crazy or stupid to think he'd so willingly trip over himself to rush into a con. Her muttered comment was very nearly lost on him - would most certainly have been if he'd not been paying close attention to her, and he sighed through his nose, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at her. "Cold-hearted, donut-eating pigs?" Amongst other things in her mind, he was sure. He shook his head, slowly, his eyes not leaving her now as he tried to figure out her newest game. "How deep in the shit are you, that you had to come to me to get it sorted?"

[And now we have this!? Halception! You cannot escape him and his babbling.]

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JAIMIE MALACK
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 02:47 PM


30 | CABOOSE
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Group: PRICE CHOPPERS
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Member No.: 753
Joined: 28-November 11




It didn’t take a genius to realise that, sooner or later, the conversation was going to take a turn. They weren’t old friends who got to laugh and joke as they caught up with each other, they were opposing forces, soldiers from different sides of the battle. The banter was fine to begin with but, really, it had only been a matter of time before each was reminded why they were on opposite sides to begin with. Jaimie didn’t like conflict, never had, it wasn’t something that suited the way she was. She was a thinker, a schemer and a charmer and although she possessed an ample supply of wit and stubborn streak a mile wide, she much preferred to talk her way out of hot water. The problem was that, this time, it wasn’t going to work – there were no words to convince Henry that what she had done was right, to explain to him that, really, no harm had been done beyond a bruised ego – though perhaps that was making light of the suffering she had inflicted upon him. She was up shit-creek without a paddle, and not for the first time in her life. So she had gone to look for Parker, though, for the life of her she could decide exactly why. On the one hand she had wanted to find another man there, confirming once and for all that the agent was dead but, on the other, she simply wanted to spend five minutes around someone who knew exactly what she was.

And there was option three, the idea that there was someway she could convince him to help her, or in the very least convince Henry not to kill her, but as the conversation progressed she found herself more adamant that she could never take help from him. From almost the start, she had wanted to do the right thing and tell the truth but now it felt like she was being pushed into it – either she could tell Henry, or Parker would reveal all. Right, and she was supposed to be the evil criminal of the pair. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as he managed to best her at her own game. Jaimie allowed herself to wonder just how it was he managed to see things in only black and white – was that what a normal upbringing did to a person? It was frustrating, among other things, that no matter what she did, no matter what she said she’d never be able to convince him that there was no other way for her to live her life. She had tried to do the honest thing and get a job but no one wanted a seventeen year old high school drop-out with no employment history and a fake name – everything she had done had been to survive, more or less. Admittedly, she could have stopped once she had enough money, but that was a different matter, by then it was too late.

She didn’t even know why she wanted him to understand – maybe she wanted to prove him wrong, maybe she just wanted to wipe that grin from his face. But no matter what she told him, Parker would still always thing that he knew best when, really, he didn’t know anything at all. He was full of shit. “Oh, you know about me?” She let out a weak laugh, ignoring his obvious threat. “No, you don’t, you just think you do because you’ve spent years putting together files on me based on crimes I’ve committed and stories you’ve managed to harass out of my family. Did my mom ever tell you about the great family thanksgivings we used to have?” The question was a sarcastic one, implying that most if not all that her family had told him were lies – she didn’t know if they were, but she liked to believe her mother and sister wouldn’t sell her out. Jaimie shook her head, pausing for a moment as her heart continued to pound in her chest. She’d never been the type to get worked up and stressed but everything was changing and the water was rising around her and, seeing how she had never learnt to swim, it was causing her a few issues. “Face it, you wasted all those years and you still don’t know squat about me. Must piss you off knowing you could have spent that time doing something worthwhile...

The fact was he had spent all that time trying to figure her out and get in her head and this was the result – he’d never believe her, but he really didn’t know her at all. It was likely that he had his suspicions about her fathers death and it was reasonable to assume that he’d figured out that the man hadn’t exactly been father of the year material. But it was the one thing he didn’t know that had made her who she was, that one little thing that drove her to become Jaimie Malack. There was a part of her that yearned for understanding and wanted him, or anyone for that matter, to know. Her father had tried to rape her. It wasn’t an excuse, she knew that, hundred of girls suffered similar fates and worse but still managed to live ordinary lives. But she couldn’t help what it had turned her into any more than he could help the way the death of his father had spurred him into a law enforcement career. He was too stubborn to admit that he didn’t know her, and she had too much pride – not to mention an inability to trust anyone – to tell him about what had happened to her all those years ago.

Since the conversation had started to rapidly deteriorate into an argument she didn’t want to be having, Jaimie decided that it was best to leave only, things weren’t that simple. There was no way of telling why she suddenly felt light-headed – at least no any reasons that she would want to own up to like panic and stress – but whatever it was, it made getting to the door difficult. Leaning against the wall, she was acutely aware that she now had her back to him, something that under usual circumstances she would never allow but comforted herself with the idea that should he go near her, he’d be getting kneed somewhere unpleasant. “Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant.” She muttered sarcastically. Of course, he’d think she was making a comment about cops being fat, lazy fascists. She wasn’t. Cops were all the same because none of them believed that people, criminals, were capable of change. For all he knew, she could have been there trying to do the right thing for once – which, in a roundabout way, she was – but he’d never see that, he’d only ever see the criminal, the con artist. Jaimie managed to turn to face him, her back pressing heavily against the wall as she half- fell, half-slid down it. “I don’t need your help.” It was a wonder she could say the words and keep a straight face given her current situation. It was a lie, probably one of the biggest she’d ever told. She might not have wanted his help but, at this point, she was pretty certain that she would need it – whether or not she would admit it before someone killed her or she managed to tear herself apart with whatever this feeling was, was anyone’s guess. “Things would be so much easier if one of us were dead...” She grumbled, burying her face in a hand, while the other arm pulled her knees to her chest.


[[Ummm... wait... why would I want to escape Hal and his glorious babbling? I love his babbling! Also, this post if effin' long - this is what happens when I try to write while watching Phantom and trying to paint all at the same time... Also, this note is getting long, like the post and the thread and the one question left to ask is; why is Parker still wearing trousers?! xDD (I'm also having serious Haven withdrawal)]]

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ALEC PARKER
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 10:02 PM


32 | GG
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Group: MALL RATS
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Joined: 20-December 11



She could protest as much as she wanted, telling him he didn't know a thing about her, that he'd wasted his time tracking her down, but the jibes rolled off him like water over a duck's back. The fact was, she had a point, he didn't know her as a person. He didn't know every quirk like a friend would. He hadn't had time to pick up on every nuance, every stance and gesture, every motivation behind her actions. His experience with her was textbook, like a historian poring over tomes about a long-dead history-maker. He knew names and dates, facts and figures, but he didn't know her completely. Still, what he'd picked up on had been enough to get the job done, enough to understand and predict what she'd do, where she'd go, when she'd move, who she'd contact. His business was presenting her to the proper authorities, it wasn't to build bridges and foster trust. As much as he'd grown fond of the chase, as much as he'd enjoyed their back-and-forths, the surprises, the twists, the game as a whole, he could never afford to know her better than that. He would still have had to hand her over when the time came, and getting chummy with her wouldn't have eased his conscience. She could resent it as much as she wanted, but she was responsible for her own actions, for making his distancing necessary in the first place. Such was life in his line of work.

"Your mother told me a lot of things," he said, world-weary. He didn't bother looking at her, his focus still on the gun as he dissembled it. "Mostly to 'get fucked.' " Here, his speech was punctuated with a nostalgic smile. He'd been given the runaround by her entire family as one point or another. He'd been supplicated, antagonized, yelled at, ordered out, had doors slammed in his face... he and Shannon's mother hadn't ever really gotten along, but Jaimie - the real one, not the alias - had eventually allowed him in with tight-lipped, grudging tolerance. Even that, he suspected, was only because it gave her the chance to mock him. She enjoyed holding out information on him, and more than once he'd thought he'd caught her stifling a triumphant smile while he examined the slew of postcards on the mantle, all mementos from a certain fugitive. Like Shannon, the lady Dorsets were strong in their own ways, and stubborn to the bitter end. None of them had been particularly cooperative. Most of his concrete information had come from school and medical records, and verbatim from the people who'd known her when she was younger. The most he got from her family were a few maybe-true stories about the one who got away, and a damn good idea of how ornery the family could be when they dug their heels in.

But had he wasted his time? No. Not entirely. Years spent in pursuit of a fugitive he'd never had the chance to put away might have been fruitless in terms of a career, but it saved him from being so easily bought by her deception. He wouldn't call that a waste. He paused, mid-action, to fix her with a half-amused smile as she speculated on how he must've felt about the course of events, but only offered a halfhearted shrug before returning his attention to his firearm. "Not any more than it must piss you off to have your whole body of work reduced to kindling." Same with the money in her bank account - though he suspected money wasn't her primary motivation. At least not constantly. No, Shannon took pride in her work beyond pocketing the cash, or she would have taken up an easier trade than art forgery. Either way, neither of them had invested in a bomb-shelter-cum-zombie-survival-fortress, so neither of them could say they'd won out over the other, really. Zombies were the great equalizer. They didn't give a damn about which side of the law you were on, how much money you had, what colour your skin was. Everyone tasted pretty much the same on the inside.

The conversation had deteriorated to the point where he was pretty much only receiving sarcastic feedback from her. Parker didn't rise to the bait, didn't get snippy back. It wasn't worth it, and he never did have the patience to fight for long periods of time. If she wanted to talk, she could talk like a normal adult. It was well within her ability. He wasn't playing the out-snark game, not today. That said, in spite of her lack of verbal messages, she was sending out some strong physical ones. She'd showed her back to him, either a sign of defiance or of world-weariness that trumped her seeming paranoia that he'd lunge at her at any moment. His job was to lunge. He should probably have done it on principle, but she wasn't harming anyone right this second. He wasn't that obsessed with her capture.

He bit his tongue to restrain the exasperated sigh that threatened to slip out when she maintained that she didn't need his help. He knew the lie. He'd spotted it a long way off. But she wasn't asking very nicely - he wasn't particularly inclined to play ball. "And yet you're still here," he said, as flatly as he could manage. It would be lovely to throw her out on her ear then and there, but strangely, as much as he distrusted her, he didn't want her far out of his sight, either. Friends close, enemies closer. He still wasn't inclined to help her, but he wouldn't throw her out to the wolves, either. Not until she really did put a foot wrong. Not until he could assess the damage she'd done to her 'friend' firsthand. Parker regarded her curiously as she sat there against the wall, looking small and helpless as ever, and couldn't help but wonder who else had seen her looking unassuming and meek and had fallen hook, line and sinker for it. He didn't believe it, not entirely, but at the same time, she was stuck here, she was seeking him out of her own volition. Something was truly wrong, as light as she tried to be about it. That in and of itself was cause for concern.

"Not like you to want things easy," he said, slowly, as she covered her face and brought her knees to her chest. She could just as easily have been snickering behind her hand, but against his better judgment, Parker heaved a sigh and got to his feet, giving Shannon a flat look and muttering, "don't make me regret this." He pulled out the small knot of keys that, along with his badge, his gun and his handcuffs, never left his side, shot her another look, and with an air of resignation moved to the front of the shop, closing and locking up with practised ease. He was going to regret this. He knew he was. He half expected her to come flying at him now, frenzied at the perception of being cornered. He hoped she had more self-control than that. Lingering at the door, he fiddled with the keys, working one off the loop and turning back to Shannon, tossing it lightly toward her and pocketing the rest. "You've got twenty-four hours," he said, moving back toward the desk to retrieve the components of his gun. "To get your story straight, before I tell them." That was, by Parker's standards, remarkably generous. If he'd been in a different mood, he might have already been spreading the word, giving the mall rats fair warning. "I'll throw you a pillow and a blanket if you want. You can sleep between me and the door. Get out if you want. I don't give a damn." If she was gone by morning, it'd be one less thing on his conscience. Right? Parker shoved those thoughts aside. "Far as I'm concerned, you're out of my jurisdiction. But if you make me regret this, I will come after you, Shannon. Clear?" He wasn't in the mood for negotiation. He wasn't in the mood for charity, either, but he'd do this once, for old time's sake, and be grateful that he was a light sleeper. One more mostly-conscious night wouldn't kill him. Unless the fugitive he was harbouring smothered him with his own pillow - which, really, was looking more and more like a distinct possibility.

[Parker will remove his trousers if it means he gets a quiet night. But I doubt that's what would happen. So... yeah... Also this is long and I apologize. I feel like this is a constant problem between us. XD But at least Parker's not being 100% douche? 75%, tops.]

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