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Disclaimer. Dont own them, plain and simple.

Authors note: This is co-written by Jaccione and Onisius. Sorry for such a long delay and will try to make the posts alot faster this time. Hope you all enjoy, would love it if you could please R&R.

Gemini-M; Hey Mercy. It is always a pleasure to get something from you :) Thanks.

Sabrina; Thankyou for the reveiw. I am so glad someone likes the new version. I was worried about redoing it. But if you like it,then I am stoked.

Jill; Yes this story was already submitted, but I treid to explain this. The orignal I did not like too much. There were holes in it every where, and it wasnt flowing smoothly. So I scrubbed it and re-wrote it with Jaccione. I am so sorry for the confusion, I must not have made it to clear. Sorry again, and I do hope you enjoy this version.

Annette; No, this story does not take place in Great Britain. I am very well aware of what a boot is called in America, but I am not American. There is a reason for everything, which is explained later on.

Chapter two...

Well if they just simply did as I told and answered my question, there would have been no need for hurting anyone." Gracie replied, pointedly speaking to Jarod.

Jarod snorted loudly as he nursed his injured arm, fighting the urge to take the damned hood off. "I have medical training, I need to look at this." It was throbbing like crazy and he was having trouble not running SIM’s on everything from hepatitis to rabies and numerous other infections he might have gotten from the rodents. "Please,” He added on the end for good measure.

"We all have medical training Jarod. Though mine is pretty basic, Wil is our resident doctor, but he is a bit busy so you are going to have to put up with me. Unless you are willing to offer more information." Gracie asked, sounding every bit disinterested at the moment.

"What kind of information?” He sighed heavily, knowing just how vulnerable he was at the moment. He was terribly confused as to how this woman seemed to know so much and so little at the same time, and he still wasn’t sure it was some part of an elaborate game. Just when he thought he knew how to play it, she did something completely to set him back to square one. Jarod did not like this uncertainty at all, not used to not understanding the situation. He had never had control in the Centre, but he knew what to expect, and could try and prepare himself. After his escape, he was in control, rarely did he enter a situation now that he had not thoroughly researched.

Gracie shrugged as she poured some alcohol over a gauze and started to gently wipe the blood away. "What you were forced to do in the Centre, why you have ran away? I know you didn’t want to do what it was they always made you do."

Jarod hissed in a breath as she started to tend it. "Is the bullet still lodged in there?” He asked. He couldn’t feel it, and he wondered if it had passed right through.

"Answer the question Jarod, do not change subjects." Grace said but started to look for the bullet and was glad she couldn’t find it. Things would have gotten so much more messy if they had to dig a bullet out of his arm. But she knew how good of a shot she was, and she aimed just enough to hurt, not damage.

He forced himself to calm down, closing his eyes and steadied his breathing. "I think you can probably guess why I chose to run away.” He said calmly. She knew some things, but not everything. "I did many things while I was there. You name it and I have probably done it."

"You didn’t like it there, you were scared so much of the time, alone, hurt.” She looked at the wound more clearly and screwed her face marks up at the bites, "This Sydney, you wanted him to hold you, to love you, to be your father, but he always rejected you. So why did you demand to see him?"

Jarod had no idea who this woman was or what she wanted. "Sydney was my mentor, my handler,” He told her, his confusion obvious. He needed to draw her out, find out exactly what she did know and what she didn’t. She had already shown him her capacity for calculated cruelty, but he sensed an underlying conflict in her as well.

She glanced at Wil, happy to see him nodding to her, already on it. "So he knows you pretty well them?" They could use this Sydney person to find out more personal details about Jarod.

"Yes, probably better than anyone, what has this got to do with anything?"

"Are you willing to co-operate with me Jarod? Do as I say, answer what I ask of you?"

"Or what?” He asked, wanting to understand his choices.

"Or what just happened with the rats will seem extremely pleasant for you.” She said simply, putting down the bloody gauze.

"You don’t really know about the Centre do you?” He asked, guessing she knew some, but not very much. He wanted to appeal to her, get to know her as a person. Her voice was young, sometimes he thought it sounded like she was bragging, or trying to show off and he guessed she was new to this, although not new enough to have slipped up yet, he noted sourly to himself.

"Not really. I know of it, I know some of what they do there, but never actually met one of the their projects. And I am eager to see what my boss thinks of you.” She said smiling.

"He isn’t going to think very much if I am dead,” He argued back. "You are making a huge mistake, these people will hunt you down."

"The Centre does not know about me, which I am guessing is a good thing. Jarod, you don’t seem to comprehend this. I may think you might be useful, even the one my bosses had sent me to seek. But I have so far not reported back to them. No one on this planet knows I have you.” She never told her boss when she took people, just in case it didn’t work out. And for this instance, it was going to serve her well.

Jarod closed his eyes and tried to rethink his strategy. He did not know where he was, who these people were. He could detect at least two men besides this woman. He had no idea what she expected from him. "Please can you take this hood off?” He asked in a voice that was strained, but calm.

"Are you going to behave and co-operate Jarod? I know you don’t like hoods.” She said in a gentle voice taking his hands, "I don’t want to hurt you, but I must do it if you do not behave for me, or answer the questions Jarod."

"I will behave,” He said, resenting it terribly. He was not four years old. He forced his voice to remain neutral. He needed her to think she had won, that he had no fight left in him. He had to get her to the stage where she could trust him enough to remove the hood and the handcuffs. That way at least he would stand half a chance.

Gracie nodded and let is hand go, reaching up for the hood. She untied the knot and carefully pulled it from his head. She waited for the look of shock and horror, disgust. She was only 18, she knew she was young, but she knew she was talented. That’s why out of everyone back home, she was chosen for this mission.

Jarod blinked in the light and then looked at the child that was tormenting him. She was beautiful, but she couldn’t have been older than 16 or 17.

"You know how to hide your feelings well Jarod.” She said looking into his eyes. There was only very mild shock peeking out, "But I can still feel it, and I am sorry to have disappointed you, or anything." She bet Jarod thought his captor would have been older. They always did, and when they saw she was only a teenager, they always felt sick at the thought of some one so young would be caught up in kidnapping.

"Who do you work for if not the Centre?” He asked, completely taken aback by her age and the fact that she could be so callous. He was trying to cover his total shock but couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She looked so innocent, and there something in her eyes that he couldn’t quite read.

"Another organisation Jarod, I am not sure if you know it, but it doesn’t matter, I cannot say their name.” She smiled at him for a moment, "I am pleased to finally see your eyes, talk to you normally. The hood depersonalises everything don’t you think?"

He nodded at her and then turned his attention to his throbbing arm and winced at the sight of it. He thought he could overpower her easily, but he doubted he could get past the two goons so easily. "Do you mind if I get off the floor?"

"Yes I do mind,” She said, not allowing him to get up. She held out her hand for him to shake, "I am Miss Grace."

He took it and shook it gently. "Jarod,” He said, although it seemed absurd. "What am I doing here Grace? What are you doing here?” He looked around at the small room he was in for the first time and assessed quickly it was a cell, and that once locked, there would probably be no way to open it from the inside.

"It’s MISS Grace Jarod, please use my name correctly. And I have already explained this to you, I am searching for someone. And it seems you might just be him.” She looked at Jon, "This is Mr Jonathon, and that over there on the laptop is Mr William. You will obey their commands."

Jarod looked at the two men and then back to her. "Lucky me."

"If you do not get on their bad side Jarod, you will not have to worry about anything. They are really sweet, well to me anyway.” She grinned, ignoring the sarcastic tone of voice.

Wil looked up at her and smiled, not stopping his typing for one second, not sparing a second glance at Jarod.

Gracie pushed the first aid kit over to Jarod, "I assume you can look after your own arm? There is also some antibiotics in there, a syringe as well if you want to use it." She offered. She didn’t want his arm getting infected, or him bleeding to death. So she was quite happy to let him fix it up.

"Thank you,” He said as he took it gratefully. It was really only a flesh wound, and he didn’t think he would sustain any muscle damage, the bullet passing clean through, but the rats had made a mess of it and he shuddered thinking about it. Whoever or whatever this girl was, she was dangerous. He wondered how one got so twisted so young.

"You're welcome Jarod. As I said, you behave, do as I ask, answer what I question, and you will earn privileges.” She reminded him, watching as he got to work on his arm. "Why did they take you? Out of everyone on earth, why you?"

He didn’t look at her as he worked on his arm, cleaning it thoroughly and gave himself a shot of antibiotics after carefully checking the label, hoping she had not tricked him. He wrapped it up tightly and prayed it would be enough. "I have an anomaly in my blood, a gene that is different."

"And this makes you a pretender?” She asked curiously, she felt his doubt and saw it in his eyes. "Do not worry Jarod, I do not want to drug you, or make you sick. What the label says, is what medicine it is." He seemed so trusting, but so suspicious at the same time.

He nodded, wondering why she could read him so easily. "Yes, we think so,” He told her, although nobody really knew how it worked. Raines' attempts to create a pretender usually ended in disaster and they always said Jarod was the best natural pretender that they had ever seen.

"I wonder if they will breed you then?" Gracie thought out loud. "They would enjoy that very much." If they thought he would be fun to breed, they would force him into intercourse with another suitable project, regardless of how the projects felt. They would sit in front of the glass and watch them.

Jarod stiffened and closed his eyes. He was not some kind of farm animal. "What do you want from me?” He asked again, looking from her to the two men that were in between him and freedom.

"That is for my boss to decide Jarod, for now, I am just seeing if you are suitable enough to take back. But by the sounds of it, you are. If you were taken by the Centre, kept there, a pretender as well. I think my boss would love me if I brought you back.” She was thinking of the privileges she would earn for this.

"Who is your boss?” He asked casually. He had guessed that she probably worked for some kind of rival organisation and from the looks of things were just pulling people in at random from the street. He was just unlucky.

"I am not allowed to say his name, just in case. I will get into a lot more trouble then you are in at the moment if I risk him." And Gracie had found that out the very hard way. She still carried one or two scars from that lesson.

Jon watched him carefully, not liking how he was asking these sorts of questions, more so that Gracie was answering him.

Jarod wondered just who she was and who she could possibly be working for. She was only a child. He nodded at her. "Looks like you do this on a regular basis."

Gracie shrugged, "It is my assignment, and until they are satisfied I have got the person they want, I have to keep doing it."

"And who exactly are you supposed to be looking for?" It was obvious to Jarod now that they had not been looking for him specifically.

Grace shrugged. "Said I would know when I find them. My guess is I was meant to be looking for you. You are what they want, what they try to make, what they search for. And from what you told me, you are a natural, not a test tube."

Jarod narrowed his eyes at her, knowing he could not let her take him back to whoever she was planning to. Even the Centre would be better than allowing even more people to exploit him or try to clone him. And he knew the Centre, knew its weaknesses, knew how to escape.

Jon saw the look Jarod was giving her and stepped forward, hitting him upside the back of his head, "Don’t look at her like that boy. You will respect her."

Jarod made a face as his head snapped forward and tensed to strike at him but restrained himself at the last minute, with no hope of defeating them in such a small space, and he was reluctant to risk hurting the girl.

"Jon," Grace said, standing up and moved over to him. "Can you go get him some water please? And an apple?” She asked quietly, looking at Jarod, who was all but sulking.

"Sure Gracie.” He smiled at her and left to get what she had asked for.

Grace moved to sit back down next to him. "You are a very curious man Jarod. No one has ever asked so many questions before."

"I would imagine anyone in my position would have to be curious as to who you were, what you wanted, what was going to become of them."

"I have had a handful ask one or two questions, most just beg and plead. It is beyond annoying. It is refreshing for someone that is keeping calm, no matter how afraid they are. And it shows how smart you are, trying to be a bit more subtle about getting information, asking questions casually."

Jarod raised his eyebrows at her and shrugged. "If you like I could beg and plead, but I have the distinct feeling it will not do me much good."

Grace laughed a little. "No, it will do you no good, but thank you for being considerate about what I might want.” She grinned, this guy was fun, had a bit of a sense of humour.

"Now we have that settled, since I have entertained you, do you mind if I get off the floor?” He asked again. It was only a small concession, and he wanted to see how adamant she would be, how far he could push her. He sighed when he saw the darkening of her features.

"No, you will stay on the floor Jarod, do not ask again, when you are allowed up, I will tell you. Am I clear?” She asked, her voice sounding a bit harsh.

"It was just a simple question,” He said lightly, trying to brush it off casually. He was going to have to tread very carefully around her. She seemed in charge, but she also seemed to be behaving exactly like a sulky teenager and that was a very dangerous combination.

"I heard you at the start, you called out to Parker to take the hood off. The Parker's run the Centre. You must be pretty high up in the project chain to even be considered to speak with one of the Parker's." Grace stated casually, watching him closely, her green eyes wide and curious for knowledge.

Jarod snorted, "Oh yeah, it’s a real privilege."

"You should not be so disrespectful to your owners Jarod. This Sydney man did not train you very well at all."

"They do not 'own' me and Sydney was not my trainer. I am not some kind of circus animal.” He stated hotly.

"No of course not Jarod, you are a project. And I cannot understand how you can have such a bad attitude towards the people that gave you a home, clothes, food, safety. You should be more thankful and polite."

He looked at her with pure astonishment.

"You should remember your place." She didn’t understand Jarod’s behaviour. If he was really taken at such a young age, he should know how to act. But yet, he was so defiant, so angry at his owners for doing what was best for him.

"My place, as you put it, is living my life and trying to do the right thing."

"Your place is to be with whomever owns you, behaving, doing as you are told. Working on what they give you.” She argued.

He shook his head and sighed deeply. "And I suppose that is meant to be you at the moment?"

Gracie raised her eyebrows as she thought about it, "I guess so, never thought of it like that, I have never been an owner before you know." She was always the thing someone else owned. The one that someone else always bossed around, treated badly, played with. It had never entered her mind that the people she took for her boss were the things she owned. It was going to be sweet to own a project for just a little while.

Jarod looked at her and wondered if she were a 'project' herself. It was clear to him that she had never considered this before and he wondered how she had been raised, and if it was so dissimilar to his own upbringing. She seemed thoroughly indoctrinated in her attitude and genuinely perplexed at his. "Now we have our respective status sorted out, what is the next step?” He wanted her to feel in control, not threatened by him.

"Do you have a girlfriend?” She asked suddenly. He liked someone, she could tell that much from him, but wondered who it was. It always fascinated her how someone could love another. How touching the others body was such a big deal. And for a moment, she wondered if this badly trained pretender could tell her what the fuss was about it.

"No,” He said, startled at the abrupt change in conversation.

"How come? Maybe that is your training. Deep down, you know you are not allowed to have feelings for anyone of the opposite sex."

"My feelings are my own and I do with them as I wish," Jarod said defensively.

"Your feelings are what makes you such a good pretender, isn’t it?” She asked him curiously, trying to work this out.

He thought about it for a while and then shook his head. "No.” He knew that they got in the way of what he was supposed to be doing.

"So then if your feelings and emotions do not make you better at your job, why do you even care about them?"

"Because they are mine,” He explained as if it should be obvious to her.

"But they are no use to you." Gracie stated, clearly confused. Others feelings served her well with her job, she needed them, wanted them. But if they served no purpose to the pretender in making him better at his job, why would he want them?

"Feelings don’t have to be useful, they are just there, they define who you are, they make life worth living."

"You should be living to serve those that own you, that you work for. Not for your feelings Jarod."

He could see that talking with her was getting nowhere. "Then I will keep my feelings to myself."

"So you deceive those that are of more importance than you?"

"It is not a matter of deception,” He tried to explain. "More a matter of good sense."

"Oh." Gracie frowned as she thought about it. "So you hide your feelings from your masters in order to not only protect yourself, but to serve them better?"

"If you like," Jarod agreed.

"Well then that makes sense and is allowed if it will help you serve them more efficiently."

Jarod thought it was just easier to agree, so he nodded at her.

She looked up as Jon entered again and handed her the bottle and piece of fruit. "Thanks Jon.” She smiled and handed them to Jarod, "Thought you might like something to drink and eat."

"Thank you,” He said as he took them from her, taking a long drink before munching on the apple slowly. He didn’t know what to expect here, including his next meal, so it would be prudent to take what he could when he could.

"You're welcome Jarod.” She smiled at him as she stood up and moved to Wil, letting Jon watch over Jarod for now. She sat on the bed next to him, "How is it going?"

"He is good," Wil said, not looking up at her, "But it is only a matter of time. He may be good, but I am better." Wil had hacked many computer systems in his time and the security on this was impressive. He bet the head programmer was a net nerd who lived in his own systems and had no life whatsoever. But he had to admit, he was pretty good.

"Of course you are Wil.” She smiled at him. "I know you can do it, I have never known you to give up."

He shook his head. "He will crumble, just like all the rest,” He looked up and grinned at her.

Jarod thought this guy would have to be pretty good. Broots was hard for even Jarod to get around. Jarod had met few people with his intelligence, well, he had never met anybody to equal his intelligence, but Mr Broots was a worthy adversary for him when it came to the Centre’s mainframe.

"Keep at it, why don’t you go to the lounge or some where more comfortable to work on. No point having you sitting in here on this hard metal cot when there is no need for it."

"Will you be alright with him?" Wil asked, not liking the idea of leaving her alone with him while he was unrestrained. He was one cool customer and he wouldn’t have put it past him to use her to negotiate his release, or hurt her in an escape attempt.

"I will be fine, Jon will stay with me if it eases your fears Wil."

Wil nodded, snapping the notebook shut as he looked at Jarod one more time. "Don’t do anything that will force me to make you sorry."

Jarod just stared at him, chewing on his apple.

"It’s cool Wil, I’ll look after her." Jon reassured him, "We need you to get into the mainframe."

Wil nodded and left the three of them.

Jon shut the door, making sure it was secure.

Gracie looked over at Jarod, "You may get off the floor now Jarod, come sit by me."

Jarod sighed softly and sat on the cot, which wasn’t really all that much of an improvement, but at least his legs were in a more comfortable position.

"Do you have a family some where? You were taken from a bed, from what looked like your bedroom." She couldn’t get the glimpses of his past out of her mind. She kept seeing the kidnapping over and over again. Just how Jarod remembered it.

"How can you possibly know that, yet know so little about me? Or is this some kind of game you are playing?” He asked in frustration.

Grace looked at him innocently, "No, no game being played here at all."

"Then how is it you can know the kind of details that few select Centre personnel can know...” He shook his head. "And yet you didn’t seem to know my name or who I was."

"It’s my little secret.” She said with a shrug of her shoulders.

Jarod looked around the room more carefully. "How long do you propose to keep me here before you hand me over or dispose of me?"

"I will only dispose of you Jarod if you annoy me. When I tell my boss, and if he does not want you, you will be free to go." She had only killed one or two out of the couple of years she had been doing this. They just wouldn’t stop their crying and begging. And proved to be way beyond annoying and she just had to shut them up.

He looked at her sharply, trying to see if she was lying or not. But he doubted they wouldn’t be interested in him, even if for nothing more than to sell to the Centre.

Gracie grabbed his wounded arm and squeezed it hard, a calm look on her face. "Do not look at me like that boy. This is the third time you have been told not to be so damn disrespectful. If it happens one more time, I will be forced to punish you. Am I clear?"

Jarod gripped her wrist to stop her, hissing in a breath.

"You will let me go this instant boy." Gracie warned, watching Jon take a step closer just in case. She gripped his wrist with her free hand and twisted it until he let her go and held onto both the wounded arm and the wrist twisted back unnaturally.

Jarod could overpower her easily, but he grimaced as he forced himself to relax, knowing that he was not going to be able to overcome Jon as well and they had already showed him how willing they were to hurt or even kill him.

Gracie let him go. "Get to your feet.” She ordered, wiping her bloody hand clean on his bare chest as she stood herself and moved over to Jon. He needed to learn his place again, needed to learn how to be respectful and behave correctly.

Jarod climbed to his feet, becoming fully aware of his half-nakedness for the first time and felt absurdly embarrassed. "What did you do with my clothes?” He asked her.

"That is not of your concern." Grace said, her voice turning cold once more. Just like it was when he had first come around.

Jarod thought it was pretty much his concern, but kept that to himself.

Jon moved forward and spun Jarod around, quickly snapping on a pair of handcuffs, tightening them as much as he dared.

Jarod sighed as the cuffs went on, far tighter than was really necessary. He turned back around to face her, waiting patiently.

"Out,” She barked as Jon opened the door for him before gripping Jarod's bicep. Gracie slipped the hood back on as they moved out of the room. Being out of the hood was a privilege, and he would have to earn it back again now.

Jarod submitted meekly as the hood went back on, helpless to do much of anything else. He had been hoping to catch a glimpse of where they were, start formulating some kind of escape plan. The key was the girl. She seemed too young to be doing this, and her responses were programmed, but she was erratic too. He needed to appeal to her, get her to relax.

Gracie led them to a room. Chains hanging from the roof, tools of pain on the walls. But what she wanted from this right now was a metal box. It was the size of a medium dog cage. Solid lead, a slit on the side for fresh air. Bending down, she opened the box door and let Jon bend Jarod down and shove him in. Jarod was a big man and had to curl into a small ball to fit somewhat comfortably.

Jarod resisted whatever they were trying to do, but found himself wedged into what could only be some kind of box. He could hardly move and he started to try and fight. "No, what is this?” He demanded.

Gracie removed the hood from him before crawling out a little and squatting near the door. "This should help you remember respect." It always worked. People panicked when they were locked into something so small. And when they panicked, they learnt their lesson a lot faster.

Jarod turned his head to face her voice as he felt around the tiny space he found himself in. "You can’t leave me in here,” He protested firmly. But with his hands locked behind his back and his legs folded up, there was nothing he could do.

"I can and I will. I will come back for you when I think you have learnt your lesson. And pray to god you do learn quick.” She said, slamming the door shut and locking him in.

He was plummeted into complete and absolute darkness and silence, the only sound was his own heart beating and his heavy breathing. He could feel a full blown panic attack coming on and so forced himself into some meditations that Sydney had taught him when the SIM’s got too intense.

Grace sent Jon to go to Wil, as she sat next to the strip in the side of the box, listening to Jarod's breathing. The room was always dark, hardly ever were the lights turned on and she wished she could see the man.

Jarod listened but could hear nothing and so let himself relax, clearing his mind and slipped into a trance, almost like self hypnosis. He had used this type of escape many times over the years and it had served him well.

After a few hours hand passed, Gracie got up silently and walked to the door and switched the light on, illuminating the place up. The light would shine through the slit in the box and would let Jarod know someone was here.

Jarod blinked in the sudden and unexpected light through the tiny slit that was letting in enough air to keep him from suffocating.

Moving to sit back in her spot, she looked at Jarod, "What have you leant?"

Jarod thought about what he wanted to say and what she wanted to hear. "To respect you Miss Gracie."

Gracie nodded, "That’s right, and try to actually learn it Jarod, not just how to say it like you have learnt it." Jarod and his emotions were making her job so much easier. He may be able to hide them physically, but they stood out like a neon sign to her.

TBC...











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