Chess, Collar, Grapes
by Te

Summary: Parker on the inside.

Notes: Deb gave me this improv. We love her.

The tableau is as follows: Small, rectangular kitchen with half-tiled
white walls. The kitchen table is an oval slightly too large for the
room, the chairs are somewhat rickety. The stove is scrubbed pristine,
but rust shows through in places.

The curtains are a fluffy white over the tiny window looking out on
nothing but the next building over. Parker remembers the unease that
would come over him whenever his mama took the curtains down to
wash them. The bald darkness that would fall over the room, possibly
even the entire apartment.

Sid has left the curtains there, for him. For a moment the fluff
becomes almost frothy before settling back into normality. Everything
is so perfectly realized it makes Parker's mind hurt, an ache right
through the center of him now, because Parker is dreaming, and Sid is
being clever.

Two hundred serial killers, many, many of whom thought themselves
artists. Many of whom thought themselves in love with Parker, their
enemy, their Nemesis, though most of them had died before Parker
was born. Sid stopped being merely the sum of them, the SID, long
before he'd stepped out into the world.

This arrangement they have has it's quirks. In truth, Sid is now
nothing more than the parasite growing and creeping and breeding
nanoscopically along the pathways of his brain. Feeding on the tiny
chip L.A. County and the state of California had left there, and the
metals Parker has begun to allow into his system again. Iron and
sodium, potassium and magnesium and zinc.

He'd resisted at first, but now often found it hard to remember

Parker doesn't remember what it's like to be alone.

He pulls out a chair, sits down and the items appear: a chessboard, a
bowl of washed white grapes, and a thick black leather collar. The
grapes begin to rot immediately. The wind moves the curtain and
Parker obligingly looks away. What's left is wine, dry white. The only
kind Parker had ever been able to stomach.

"I already know you love me, Sid."
No response from anything, not even a shimmer.

Parker reaches for the collar next, and rich, buttery leather scent
fills the room for a heart-stopping moment before the collar begins
to move. He watches this time, as the collar thins and lengthens
itself to a cord, then a snake, then a simple coil of nothing, moving
up around his false left arm like smoke.

Settling in cold enough it hurts.

He uses his other hand to tug the chessboard close, settles it exactly
parallel to his chest. Pressure and a pull and his left arm has crawled
away, settling opposite him, poised above an achingly realized queen.
His dead wife, his Lisa. She is weeping.

Sid fills himself in across from him, first becoming Parker's
reflection -- had he become so hard? -- before slipping through a
dizzying array of SID, before becoming Sid.

"You still have to fight, even within me?"

"You know that isn't what you want to ask." Husk of a voice, elusive
as a brush of velvet against skin.

And Parker pauses, tests for waking in ways he already knows will be
futile. Stands and stretches and feels the air parting for him, the
ache of his shoulderseam, the comfortably warped kitchen tile beneath
his feet. Sid doesn't rise with him, simply watches.

Still curious even... even though.

"What is my body doing right now, Sid?"

"Hunting. It's been... a long time."

Parker nods, wills every ache away, his shoulder, his heart, his mind.


Beautiful child of killers. "Yes?"

"When the time comes... will you help me?"

"To hide from those who hunt you?"

"To *live*."

And Parker shudders, holds himself with two strong, human arms.
"I will."