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Disclaimer; Now, do you think if we owned these characters we would be writing these stories and not creating real ep's with the real people? What we are trying to say is we do not own them.

Authors note; Sorry for the long wait, thankyou Ann for reminding us to post. I hope you enjoy. As always, this is co-written.
Chapter four...

Gracie moved over to the box, gesturing for Sydney to stay quiet and not to move from where he stood. She moved over to the box and sat in front of the slit, "Good morning Jarod.” She said in a bright, cheery voice, glancing at Sydney, making sure he would behave.

Sydney took a step forward, completely horrified to think that she could have kept him in there, and with that horrific noise going. He forced himself to remain calm, even though it was extremely difficult, imagining what Jarod would be suffering in such a small confined space. He closed his eyes and then opened them again, watching her.

Gracie glared hate and warning at Sydney as he still stepped forward a little. She shook her head, warning him not to move again.

Jarod jumped at the sudden offset of the noise and then at the sound of her voice in the sudden silence. His head was pounding from the continual noise and his entire body felt like one massive cramp. He hadn’t slept, nor been able to relax and he looked through the slit through bleary eyes. His bladder was full and his stomach was empty.

Sydney looked at her for a long moment, fighting his every natural instinct to rush to help Jarod, but he wasn’t sure he might be endangering him further, so did as she told him and remained still.

"Now tell me Jarod, have you leant your lesson yet? Or do I need to leave you for another few hours?” She asked in a nice, calm, polite tone.

Jarod had to force himself not to snap, his patience incredibly thin right now as his body screamed at him to give her what she wanted. After a few moments to calm himself down he said slowly, forcing control of his voice. "Yes Miss Gracie."

"And do you remember what it is you are meant to be learning Jarod?” She asked, looking at his bloodshot eyes and pale face. She kept all concern over his condition out of her voice. He had deserved this, brought it on himself.

"My place and respect Miss Gracie,” He said, sounding remarkably calm compared to how he felt.

Sydney wanted to throttle her, hearing the fatigue in Jarod's voice. He could only imagine how hard it would be for Jarod to remain as calm as he knew he was trying to sound. Sydney knew Jarod's every mood, and he could hear the fragile self-control under the fatigue and pain.

"And why do I get the feeling you are not answering truthfully Jarod?” She could feel him just wanting to snap and yell at her, but at least this time he was controlling the desire so he was on his way to being respectful again.

He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to remain calm. "I don’t know Miss Gracie,” He said softly.

"You think about this for a while Jarod,” She said standing up. She was going to go to Sydney, tell him that she would get some water to give to him before letting him out but stopped as Sydney spoke.

"You can’t leave him there,” Sydney protested, moving forward, unable to help himself any longer. "Jarod,” He called out in worry.

Gracie grabbed his arm, "I thought you would have been smarter. Now out!” She ordered dangerously, stopping him from going further. "Get out of this room right now, before I decide to use some of this equipment on you."

Sydney ripped his arm from her grip. "Jarod, are you alright?” He asked, his concern for Jarod overriding everything. He was not about to stand by and watch while this little girl tortured him.

Grace pulled her phone out and dialled the boys, barking into the phone to get in here right this instant, and to bring weapons. She would not let him disobey her like this.

"Sydney?" Jarod called out, trying to listen to the muffled noises, his ears still ringing. He had thought he had heard Sydney’s voice, but was not sure that he wasn’t hallucinating.

Grace moved to the stereo, all but one sub was still next to the box and turned it back on, listening as the noises blasted loudly once more. Grace knew it was effective, knew it would stop him from concentrating which meant he could not ignore where he was trapped.

Jon hung the phone and rushed to Wil, shaking him awake, "Grace has trouble, grab your gun and let’s go." He dashed out the room. If this man had so much as touched her, he would slice his throat and watch him die. He would not stand for Gracie to get hurt.

Jarod moaned loudly as the noise started again and couldn’t hear anything else. He let his head fall back against the wall of the box in frustration and anger. He screwed his eyes tightly closed and shifted his body marginally and tried to tell himself he was somewhere else.

"What do you think you are doing?” Sydney thundered at her over the noise, moving to the wall to unplug the system.

Wil pulled himself out of bed and checked to see if his gun was loaded and followed Jon.

Grace blocked it. "You disobeyed me, Jarod pays.” She said in a dark tone, her green eyes dark with rage showing Sydney she meant business.

Jon ran through the little hallways and guessed she was in with Jarod. He burst through the door and aimed his gun at the old man. He hadn’t known she had gone out to get him, she was meant to have gone to sleep.

That pulled Sydney up short and he stopped, just staring at her, then swung around to see two men with guns pointed directly at him.

Wil winced at the loud noise, but his gaze didn’t waver from the shrink. He had dug up much information on the old man by now, and he knew that he was mostly placid, but could be dangerous if pushed too far.

"Get him out of here. I don’t care where you put him, just make sure it is secured.” She yelled over the noise, not moving from the stereo system. She was tired, and she was not in the mood for the doctor’s disobedience.

Jon moved forward, gun aim and grabbed his arm. "Let’s go old man.” He placed the gun in his waist band, knowing Wil was covering him.

Sydney looked from the two men that could only be described as sweepers to the box Jarod was in and knew fighting was useless. He shot the girl a dark look as he let the man pull him from the room.

Jon led him through the warehouse. He and Wil had spent numerus hours transforming it into something like a home plus a jail. "You had to go and piss Grace off didn’t you?” He asked, the grip on Sydney's arm a bit too tight.

"What the hell are you doing to him?” Sydney protested as he was pulled along. He guessed these gorillas were her 'boys' and he wondered how many more there might be. He didn’t even bother trying to fight him, knowing that he had no chance at all to overpower him and he would only make matters worse for himself and Jarod by even trying.

"That is none of your concern, you should only be worried about if you will be punished for pissing her off like you did. I kind of hope you do, I so like hurting the newbie’s." Jon said, his voice dangerous as he smirked.

Sydney curled his lip up at him as he was dragged down the hallway. He had been dealing with bullies like this his entire life and he knew that you had to out-think them if you wanted any chance at all.

Wil followed, his gun ready, just in case the old man tried something, but he figured one gut punch and the old coot would be down for the count.

Jon stopped in front of a door to one of their few cells and opened it up, shoving Sydney in roughly, unconcerned as he fell to his knees on the concrete floor. It was the same as Jarod's room. All metal, nothing much in it, and what was in it, was welded down.

Sydney grunted as he fell heavily to the ground and looked around as he picked himself up, only to find he was in a simple cell.

Jon slammed the door shut and locked it, shaking his head, "Stupid old fool. He will learn soon enough. But I wonder what Grace wants with him, she already has one man here."

"I am guessing to use against Jarod, or for info, he probably knows more about Jarod than anybody." Wil said as he looked at the very pissed off old man.

Sydney kept quiet as the door locked, realising too late that he may have just ruined any chance to see Jarod or find out who these people were and what they wanted.

Grace came up behind them. "Boo,” She said, trying to startling them, a grin on her face. She peered thought he reinforced glass into he little window on the door at Sydney before looking back at the boys.

"Well, he is here and not off to a good start," Wil observed dryly.

"No, he is not. I will be fine now boys, maybe you can go make some breakfast and let me know when it is ready please?” She knew Wil wouldn’t like leaving her alone, he rarely did. Normally when she suggested it, he told her flat out no, and prayed this time she would be able to talk to this man by herself.

"You be careful with him, he is an old man, but... just be careful.” He had read the more exciting parts of Sydney's file. He had kept Jarod prisoner and exploited him for over thirty years. He had planted a bomb and was still the number one suspect for attempted murder, and not just anybody either, one of the most highly ranked and senior members. The only reason he was still alive was that they had not been able to prove it conclusively and he was the resident expert on the pretender.

"Well Wil, you go make us breakfast, Jon can stay with me if it makes you fell better?” She asked gently, not wanting to worry him, knowing if she had someone with her, it would ease his fears a great deal.

Wil nodded, feeling much better about that situation if Jon was going to watch over her.

Jon watched as Wil left to prepare breakfast and took his gun and loaded it, "After you my lady.” He said politely, opening the door for her and walking her in.

Sydney looked up as the door opened again as the mere slip of a girl walked in. He kept his mouth shut this time, a little more aware of the possible consequences of acting rashly. He had misjudged her terribly already and he was not about to do it again. Despite her diminutive appearance, she had clearly shown him just how ruthless she could be.

Gracie looked at him as Jon stood guard at the door, gun ready and armed. "I expected more from you doctor. You were meant to be the one able to control yourself." She got such strong feelings from him, knowing he hid them most of the time from the world.

"What do you think you are doing to him?” Sydney asked in outrage.

"Again, I thought you knew how to control yourself. You never use to show this much emotion concerning the project.” She said simply.

Sydney got control of himself and looked at her. "What do you know about what I did or did not do concerning Jarod?"

"I do not see how that is relevant doctor. I know what I need to know and it is of no concern to you." Gracie said in a polite tone. What she knew was the bare facts Jarod had told her, and the few things she saw on the laptop before she left. Everything else she had gotten off of Sydney while in the car. He was a wealth of information.

Sydney shook his head but remained where he was. "You cannot expect me to just stand by while I see Jarod hurt and abused,” He tried to reason with her in his best professional voice, trying to get the emotional distance he so badly needed right now.

"Then why did you stand by for all of those years?” She asked. She had seen glimpses of his past while in the car and it had confused her badly. He was contradicting himself. He said he didn’t want to stand by while Jarod might be hurt and suffering, yet he had done precisely that for over 30 years.

Sydney felt the all too familiar sense of shame and trotted out the same old lie, the one he couldn’t even convince himself of anymore. "I had no choice."

Gracie shook her head and moved over to sit crossed legged on his cot. "I do not believe that.” She knew he was lying, it was radiating from him in waves.

"Neither do I,” He said softly, "Not anymore.” He looked up at her. "Please let me go to him.” He asked earnestly.

"I did let you go to him, but you blew it. All you had to do was stay quiet and where you were. It was not hard orders you know." Even the children back home could manage to obey that order. And yet a grown, aged man couldn’t. She had to wonder if Sydney was really as smart as she thought he was.

Sydney closed his eyes and got his temper under control. "Alright,” He said after a moment. "I am sorry, but please, I need to see him. He could be hurt, in shock, he could be dying in there and you wouldn’t know."

"He is not dying, and Jarod is not in shock. I would know it if he were.” She knew he was uncomfortable and in pain, but nothing too drastic. "Why do you love him Sydney?” She asked in confusion. It had hit her the minute she had seen him. The love was so strong, and she just didn’t understand it.

Sydney blinked at her in shock, moving away a little. He wanted to deny it, but he couldn’t make the words come out of his mouth. "He, I..."

Grace frowned and watched him. “I do not understand." She had never understood that emotion. She had felt for herself all others. Pain, rage, hurt, happiness, pride… but never love.

"I don’t either,” Sydney whispered in shame, "The things I did to him, forced him to do... there has to be some way for me to make it up to him. Please let me go to him.” He pleaded with her one more time.

"Why do people love each other Sydney?” She asked in confusion, watching him intently, her eyes never leaving him.

"It is a basic human need. The need to touch, to care, to be cared for. Nobody can do everything alone. We are not complete as human beings by ourselves. Compassion, love, nurture... all of these things define who we are, without them we are nothing."

"Is that why you love Jarod then? Your need to touch him and care for him?" All these two were doing was bring her life a lot of confusion. She wished she understood more.

"I have known and cared for Jarod, after a fashion, for practically all of his life. I raised him, was his only constant companion. I suppose we grew used to each other.” He closed his eyes for a minute, trying to sort through his emotions, which was difficult while he was so worried about Jarod.

"But that is forbidden. You must never get emotionally involved with your projects, or projects in general." Grace said, almost horrified that he really did care for Jarod. It was against all rules to show or even have feelings for the projects, let alone care for one with such passion as Sydney did for Jarod.

Sydney nodded his head and sighed deeply. "That may well be."

"They why did you allow it to happen doctor? They should have terminated the project instantly over this."

"He was too valuable to us,” He admitted frankly.

"Then why did they never change handlers? It should never have gotten this far, never have gotten personal. You should not love him doctor.” She shook her head, fear in her eyes. It was the worst sin of all for the handlers to care about the projects.

"They never knew, nobody knew."

"I know. This shouldn’t have gone on, I should let someone know. Everyone will be in trouble if you don’t tell them."

"We are a bit past that by now I think. Jarod is no longer a project, after his escape..."

"No, I told you. No papers were signed, no termination order. He is still a project. You shouldn’t love him, and nor him you. It’s not right.” She said, shaking her head frantically. Last person she knew that loved her had been slaughtered in front of her to prove a point. "You can’t. You have to stop right now!"

Sydney snorted laughter at the absurdity of the demand. She might just as well ask him to stop breathing. A lifetime of care and concern, even repressed, could not so easily be thrown away.

She started to breathe a little bit faster and shallower. "They will find out, they will kill you. You have to stop this insanity now Sydney, before you get in trouble.” Her head seemed to continue shaking on her own, her fear clearly in her eyes. Caring for projects only led to pain and death, it mustn’t be done.

Jon looked at her, worried about her behaviour. He wanted these two outta here ASAP, regardless if the boss took them, Jon killed them or they walked free. He did not care. He had never seen Gracie like this before. She had never been so affected by the people they took. And he knew this hit so much closer to home then any of the others.

"What do you care?” Sydney asked her, noticing her reaction, becoming more sure that she had been a 'project' of some description herself, but far more heavily indoctrinated than Jarod ever had been.

"They will kill you!” She said panicky.

"Which by the looks of things here,” He nodded to Jon who was looking at him as if he wanted dead right this very second, the gun never moving from his chest. “You are going to do anyway, so you will save them the trouble."

Jon put the gun in his pants and moved over to them, he glared at Sydney, "Do not presume such things old man.” He hissed at him and grabbed Gracie, holding her tightly. "Calm down Grace, everything is fine, no one is going to kill anyone.” He said, looking pointedly at Sydney.

Grace tried to do as she was told, try to calm her emotions down. Sydney didn’t seem to understand the dangers of loving or caring for a project. "We can’t let our boss know he loves Jarod, or the Centre, they will kill him. It’s not allowed.” She said as Jon held her tightly.

Sydney wondered at his reaction. They were the ones threatening him with a gun, imprisonment and pain, so why should they be upset at the thought of him being killed by them? It made no sense to him whatsoever.

When Jon saw her a bit more calm, he let her go, smiled at her and moved back to the door.

Grace looked at him. "Please Sydney, if you cannot stop caring for that project, please keep it very well hidden."

"And if I don’t, your friend there will kill me?” He asked, shaking his head in confusion.

"No, of course not Sydney. He wouldn’t kill you.” She said frowning at him. She much rather not kill anyone. Only when it was extremely necessary to save her sanity from their whining. But if she had a choice, Sydney nor Jarod would be killed at all.

"No?” Sydney asked sceptically. "Then I will be on my way."

"When we are finished with you, you may leave then. We will take you back to your car." Grace offered him.

"And Jarod?” He pushed gently.

"That depends on if my boss wants him or not. If he is not interested in Jarod, I will let him go. He may be taken back where we got him from, or be allowed to go with you if you want to take him back to the Centre."

"No,” Sydney said far too hastily.

Grace leant back a little at the protest, "You do not want us to let him go? Or you do not want him back at the Centre for you to work on?"

"No, I do not want you to take him and I do not want him to be back at the Centre. Jarod has his own life to live now, his own path to take. Too much has been taken from him already, I will not take any more."

"He never had a life to begin with Sydney, he is the property of who ever owns him. As simple as that, he hasn’t the right to have his own life. But you confirmed for me he is valuable, and chances are my boss would want him anyway." Her boss would find some useful thing for him to be used for. And it was none of her concern. All she was to worried about was finding people for him and finding out if he would want them.

"I am not going to argue with you about this. Will you let me see Jarod or not?” He asked her flatly.

"I don’t know why I should Sydney, you disobeyed me before." Grace knew she would let him, she knew she would have to. But she was trying to prove a point to Sydney. Although it didn’t seem to be working to well.

"Then ask your questions so I can be on my way,” Sydney told her, staring at the floor.

"Why do you not want Jarod in the Centre?"

Sydney felt like he was going around in circles and all he wanted to do was see Jarod, make sure he was alright, negotiate for his release if possible. "He deserves his life."

"But he is nothing more then a project. He does not deserve a life, he is not entitled to one." Why was it these two men did not seem to understand this? Sydney being a handler should know all this, believe it. But he didn’t. They both got screwed up along the way.

"Then we will have to agree to disagree. Did you bring me here to argue ethics and philosophy? We are wasting time."

"We have all the time in the world Sydney, there is no rush.” She could keep them as long as she wanted to. Well as long as it took for either her to contact her boss, or for her boss to contact her.

"Ask your questions then, or let me go to Jarod." Sydney had no patience for power games like this. He would give her what she wanted, hoping to get both himself and Jarod out of there more quickly.

She nodded and stood up, "Please do not be so rude doctor, there is no need for it."

Sydney wanted to talk to her about rude. Rude was being held against your will, being tortured, but he kept his temper and tried a different approach. "I am just worried you might be damaging my property then, I need to establish he is still functioning properly."

Gracie nodded, "Yes of course doctor, it is almost time for breakfast, Wil should have it ready any moment. I need to bring him out anyway." She knew he thought him believing Jarod was his project still would make her let him see Jarod. She played along with it, but was thankful anyway. It made her life so much easier.

"Very good,” He said curtly, surprised at her abrupt change.

Jon readied his gun as they approached the door and opened it. "Do not give me any trouble.” He warned as Grace led the old idiot out of his new room.

Gracie led him again back to the punishment room. She did hope Jarod was more respectful this time. She didn’t want to have to put him back in the box. Stopping at the door, she looked at Sydney, "This time, you will wait until I tell you before you approach him."

Sydney nodded, his heartbeat increasing as he saw the box again. He would force himself to remain impassive this time, not wanting to risk Jarod any further.

Walking over to the stereo, she turned it off, thankful for the noise to stop. It drove her nuts. She sat next to the slit again and watched Jarod for a moment. "How are you feeling Jarod?” She asked gently.

Jarod forced his eyes open, his head pounding so heavily that it felt like his eyeballs would pop out if he left them open for too long. His body was drenched in sweat and the smell of it was overpowering in the tiny space. He could still feel the damned vibrations, even though the silence insisted that they had stopped.

"I would like an answer Jarod, do not show me you have not learnt your lesson, or I will be forced to leave you in longer." She threatened him casually.

Jarod nodded, even that small movement sent the pounding in his head cascading again. "Tired,” He said, not sure if he had made any noise or not.

"That’s too bad Jarod. But if you behave, you may be allowed to sleep later if I am not using you.” She moved to the door and pushed the sub away, unlocking it with the key from around her neck. Opening it, she crawled in just enough to reach Jarod. "Come on, you can come out now if you like."

Jarod could not move and just flopped down as she tried to drag him out.

Sydney had to fight the desire to rush to help as she unlocked the door, but a look from Jon convinced him not to.

"Hold on Jarod,” She said as he couldn’t move. She crawled in as far as she could and unlocked the cuffs from his wrists. "You are to heavy for me to just drag Jarod, you have to help me get you out.” She pleaded with him.

Jarod's arms fell limply at his sides and he yelped a little as the blood started flowing back into them, he couldn’t shift his legs at all and he tried to use his lifeless arms to claw his way out.

Sydney was practically dancing on the spot, trying desperately to exude calm professionalism.

"Jon, a little help please!” She called out, not being able to move Jarod, Jarod not being able to move himself much either.

Jon shot a look at the man before moving to Grace and tucking the gun into his pants. Waiting for her to move out the way, he reached in and grabbed Jarod under the arm and just hauled him out, dumping him on the floor when he was fully out the box.

Jarod moaned loudly as his body unfolded finally and he just lay there for a long moment, unable to move. He saw Sydney and looked up at him, seeing the pain in his eyes, and he wondered what the hell he was doing here. Perhaps it really was the Centre after all. "Sydney,” He croaked.

Grace looked at Sydney and nodded, letting him know he was allowed over now. Turning her attention back to Jarod, "We are about to go to breakfast, there will be drinks there for you. Do you think you can hold out on liquid for a little bit longer Jarod?” She asked him, hearing his voice.

"Bathroom,” He said hoarsely.

Sydney moved over to him quickly, crouching down next to him. "Jarod,” He whispered, noticing the fresh bandage that was bloody and the sheen of sweat all over his body.

"Yes alright Jarod, but you are going to have to make your body work so you can get to it.” She said gently, wiping the sweat from his brow gently. He looked so weak, so vulnerable right now. And she had to admit this was the best power rush ever. She had never gotten a chance to play so much with one of her guests before. Always being let go or shipped out before she had a reason to punish them like this. And to do it to Jarod, a pretender. Someone that was worthy of it. It just made her heart flutter.

Jarod nodded as Sydney helped him to his feet. He crumpled as he tried to stand to find Sydney's arm around his waist, supporting him.

"It’s alright Jarod, I have got you,” Sydney said softly.

"Are you alright with him doctor?” She asked, seeing how much strain Jarod was putting on Sydney, and regardless if either man liked it or not, she climbed under his other shoulder to help support his weight. "If you would please walk this way, I will show you to the bathroom.” She said and forced Jarod to walk forward. She could feel his physical pain, felt the tension in his muscles as he forced them forward. Jarod seemed so confused as to why Sydney was here, his tired brain obviously not letting him think about it to much.

Jarod limped along as they both helped, more feeling coming back to his limbs which he knew was a good thing, but extremely unpleasant at the moment.

They got the bathroom, waiting as Jon opened the door and led Jarod in. It was a simple bathroom, a shower, toilet and basin, in white tiles. Plain and useful. She led Jarod over to the toilet and let him go, not moving away or even turning her back so he could have some privacy. He had spent his whole life being watched, even in these most private moments and she knew her would have to get used to it again.

Sydney helped him steady himself, tyring to give him as much privacy as he could while he relived himself.

Jarod sighed in relief and looked at the shower longingly. He could smell his own body and he wanted a shower badly, but didn’t push his luck right now. He also wanted to clean his wound. He flushed the toilet, washed his hands and moved slowly towards the door, his legs finally beginning to work again, although the muscles were protesting at every movement.

"Jarod, it’s alright, you may shower. I do not want you eating while you are this filthy, did the Centre not teach you any better?” She asked, looking at Sydney with raised eyebrows. Sydney should have taught Jarod manners such as this. You should never eat with dirty nails or hands, never eat while there is any dirt on you. It’s not only unhygienic, but bad table manners.

Sydney ignored her and started to take the bandage off.

"Thank you," Jarod muttered, not risking bad manners again. He slipped his pants off as Sydney undid his arm and fussed over the wound.

"This is a gunshot,” Sydney proclaimed hotly.

Grace moved over and took a look at it, "Yes Sydney, it would seem to be a gunshot." She said with raised eyebrows and a smug look on her face.

Sydney was trying to determine what the rest of the damage might be, but Jarod pulled his arm away and got in the shower.

Gracie stood there watching as he showered. She moved to a cupboard and opened it, pulling out some soap and handed it to Jarod, "Wash yourself Jarod." She sat back down to watch him in the shower. It had no screen so everything was on view to her. She studied him, was fascinated by him. She hadn’t seen a male body naked in real life before that was like this. She never saw Jon or Wil shower, or the one or two other males she had kept long enough to give them a shower.

She guessed Wil and Jon’s body were like Jarod’s. So hard and firmed. They did work out a lot. She saw these bodies in the magazines, but never in real life. The men back home were always big and bulky, but not in this sort of way. They were fat to put it bluntly. Not a toned muscle in sight.

She couldn’t help but to admire his physique. It was toned and hard and perfect. Her eyes drifted down without being able to stop herself and they opened a little wider. She wondered what the other women in his life thought about him. He seemed to be a perfect specimen of the male species.

Gracie watched as he turned his back on her and her eyes focused on his arse. Even with her inexperience with naked bodies, she had to admit he had one cute butt. She wondered how many people liked the backside the best out of the body. She would have to ask Wil or Jon that one day. Her eyes travelled up and she couldn’t help but almost drool over his back. The muscles flexing as he washed his body, the perfect line in the middle going up to his shoulders. She found herself reaching out to trace the line of his spine without realising it, only stopping when Jarod spoke.

"Thank you,” He muttered again, not worrying about demanding some privacy. Although he was not happy with the way she seemed to be staring at him, almost as if she were studying some interesting specimen that had crawled under her microscope unexpectedly.

Grace didn’t look at Sydney as she answered what he was thinking, "It was rats Sydney. His arm.” Her eyes never left Jarod's body as he washed, mesmerised by his soft, fluent moves as he washed his body of the dirt. She knew Sydney wouldn’t understand why it was done, and at this very moment in time, she didn’t care.

Sydney grimaced and had to fight the urge to strangle her again. He did not fail to notice how she was ogling Jarod's body either. But he remained still, not trusting himself to say anything right now.

She waited until Jarod climbed out the shower. "If we go back to your room Jarod, we can dress the wound again and give you something to wear." Gracie offered, her eyes still not leaving his body. She couldn’t stop looking at it. How perfect it was and wondering if he knew how to use it to get what he wanted. She knew how to use her body when she needed to, or was ordered to, and wondered if it was the same for him.

Jarod could feel her eyes on him, and even though he was used to being watched, this was different. He could almost feel her hunger and he wondered if he could use it. “Thank you,” He nodded, taking the towel Sydney offered.

She lead them back to Jarod's room and let them all in, Jon behind them, the gun always aimed and readied. "The first aid kit is under the bed, I left it there last time just in case you needed it again when we brought you back in here. Sydney if you would be so kind, please dress the wound." Jarod's clothes were on his bed, simple black pants and top, shapeless and a bit oversized, but effective. The clothes weren’t made for a fashion statement, but just to be worn as coverage.

"Of course,” Sydney said, sitting down next to him and cleaning it carefully. He wanted to talk to him, but didn’t dare with the other two there and he seemed to get the best response from her if he acted like Jarod's handler, nothing more. "You will be fine Jarod,” He said, standing up when he was done.

Jarod looked at Sydney, wondering at his attitude, knowing he was too tired to think clearly right now. But Sydney seemed colder than usual, and there was no mistaking the tension in his posture, the concern in his eyes and voice. He had to guess that she had lured him here and he cursed himself for giving away all that information.

"I assume you both are hungry and would like to have breakfast?” She asked looking at the two. She was not in the business of starving them to death. She knew what being on the edge of starvation could do to a person and their attitude, but she didn’t think it was fair on them. She would rather get them behaving and acting accordingly through other methods.

"Yes please," Jarod said. He had not eaten since lunch yesterday, assuming only one day had passed, it was a little hard for him to tell. He slipped the clothes on which were very reminiscent of Centre clothing and sighed.

"What’s the matter Jarod?" Grace asked in concern and moved over to him when she heard his sigh. He was almost depressed, definitely sad and she couldn’t quite get why.

She had not given him any shoes, so he remained barefoot, but at least he had a shirt now. "Just reminds me of something,” He said softly.

Sydney felt very badly for him, but ignored it, knowing exactly what he was thinking.

Grace looked between the three men, "Maybe I could make it better? So it doesn’t remind you?” She asked, trying to please him. She didn’t like the sadness vibrating off of him. It was very unpleasant for her to feel.

"How so?" Jarod asked curiously. This girl was a strange mix he could not figure out yet.

"Well if you tell me what is wrong, I can try to fix it for you." Grace said, talking about why he had sighed so heavily. She didn’t understand why she felt so connected to him. She knew it didn’t phase her to punish him, try to have him understand his place, be cruel to him in order for her to do her work. But seeing him so sad was hurting her.

Jarod looked at her, wondering how she could lock him in that box after shooting him and letting rats eat at him and then care because he sighed. "The uniform, reminds me of the Centre,” He said, not looking at Sydney.

Sydney shifted a little uncomfortably, knowing Jarod had worn that same styled outfit nearly his entire life.

"Oh.” She frowned, "And you do not like it?” She asked curiously. Grace wanted to tell him it was not a uniform here, at home it was, but not here.

"I like my own clothes better,” He said.

"That is not what I asked Jarod.” She scolded him gently.

Sydney hid a small smile at that. Jarod seemed to almost have established his own uniform, which was not so very different from what he was wearing now. Black jeans, black shirt.

"No, I don’t like it,” He confirmed.

"How come?” She had never minded these clothes, even right now, she would wear a pair to bed. She found them extremely comfortable.

"They have no... individuality." Jarod struggled to put into words what he felt. Nobody had ever asked him these kinds of questions before.

"But you are not an individual Jarod, you are a project." She told him for what seemed like the millionth time.

Jarod shrugged and waited for them to move out.

"I can give you one item of your clothing to wear if you like? I cannot support your twisted view of individuality, but one item will not hurt I am sure. Just make you more comfortable." Gracie said trying to please him a little.

Jarod nodded. "Thank you, I appreciate that.” He thought for a moment about what he should choose. His boots would be the most practical if he attempted an escape, and the floor was cold. "My boots please Miss Gracie,” He asked in his most friendly voice, and he smiled at her timidly.

She stole a quick look at Jon who shook his head no. Gracie knew why he had said no. Security reasons and she was not about to argue with him. She turned to Jarod sadly, "No boots Jarod.” She looked at the ground as if she would get reprimanded for it, "Your top or pants?” She asked him, feeling bad now.

"Jeans please,” He asked her. At least he wouldn’t feel like he was wearing pyjamas anymore.

She nodded. "I will get them as we have breakfast. I wish I could allow you your top as well, but that would make you think you aren’t a project still when you are. And then I would get into trouble if I reinforced your beliefs."

"I understand," Jarod said, at this stage too tired and sore really to care all that much.

"Come Jarod, let’s not keep them waiting any longer.” Sydney instructed.

Grace walked out, leading the way while Jon trailed behind them, watching them carefully. Getting to the backdoor, she opened it and led them inside the house section of the warehouse. She knew Jarod would like this, carpeted floor. His feet wouldn’t freeze.

Jarod did a double take at the abrupt change, but stumbled forward as Sydney gently urged him to keep moving.

When they got the kitchen, the smells of Wil's cooking assaulted her and her stomach grumbled. "Wil, I guess food is up?” She asked, seeing the plates set on the table.

"In a sec it will be,” He said, almost ready to serve the rest of the food.

Gracie sat down after ducking into her room to get Jarod’s jeans and handed them to him. She watched Jon place the gun next to his plate as he sat down too. She took a sip of the juice while she waited for her food.

Jarod sat down gratefully at an empty seat and watched as Sydney sat next to him, looking at Grace to wait for his cue to eat.

When Wil had finished serving the food up and sat down she looked at Jarod, "You will have to wait until your handler gives you permission to eat. You might not want to be respectful to your owners anymore, but at this table and in my home, you will be."

Sydney rolled his eyes, but played along. "It’s alright Jarod, you have permission to eat."

Jarod shot Sydney a look that told him clearly what he thought of this whole situation, but then forced a smile and said a grudging, “Thank you." He supposed it could be worse, it could be the green slop.

Grace grinned at the pair, "See, isn’t it better with your handler here to tell you what to do?" Gracie asked, really believing he would think it were better.

Wil kept a careful eye on Jarod and the shrink, not liking having the two of them here at the same time, made it harder to cope with if one or both of them tried anything, but he would not question Grace.

"Yes Miss Gracie," Jarod said softly, trying to avoid another confrontation.

Grace grin grew bigger. "Your project does learn quickly when he wants to Sydney."

"He is clever,” Sydney said in agreement.

"What exactly does a pretender do?” She asked as she picked at her food. Even though she was starving, she wasn’t interested in it right now. So many times Wil would tell her off for not eating, Jon sending her bad looks. But she just got too caught up in her work.

"Anything and everything,” Sydney answered for him so Jarod could eat. He looked like he needed it.

"I bet he can’t do what I do.” She said, knowing chances are he couldn’t. She had a gift, just like he did.

"What is it precisely that you do do Miss Gracie?” Sydney asked her carefully.

Gracie looked at Wil and Jon nervously before Sydney again, "I am not really meant to say.” She said back softly. It was not her right to tell others what she could do.

"I understand,” Sydney said, eating some toast and sipping on his coffee. "I wouldn’t want to intrude on somebody else's project, wouldn’t be professional."

Jarod had to cover his smile by gulping down some juice.

Grace shook her head, "No, it would make them mad.” She was tired from not sleeping, and the emotions running through her from these two had worn her out to exhaustion and she wasn’t really thinking clearly.

"Of course,” Sydney conceded. "You must understand what a very difficult position I am in as well then. You can appreciate that I have the same concerns and difficulties talking about my project." He knew how much Jarod would hate him for that, but he thought this was the wisest way to play the game at the moment.

"Yes I know, but it is what must be done. You will have to talk to me about him when I ask it of you."

Sydney could not believe how completely hypocritical she was being, but he just nodded in agreement.

"I am sorry if you find me asking about your project rude Sydney, but if I do not find out what I need to, I will get into trouble. I have to call my boss very soon to let him know I have someone that might be of value to him." She apologised sincerely.

Sydney didn’t think she was sorry at all. He put his fork down and looked at her. "I understand, we all have our superiors we must be held accountable to."

She nodded, glad he was understanding her position. "I like Jarod, and you too. It would be a shame if I have to hand him over." She knew once her boss knew, she had no say in anything. He wanted him, she would have to give him over. If her boss told her to kill them, she would have to do it.

"Yes a shame indeed,” Sydney said, noticing how Jarod tensed.

Jarod listened in silence as they talked about him as if he was some new piece of equipment they were thinking about buying or trading, but he kept his mouth clamped firmly shut. He had already run a SIM on going for the gun which seemed casually left on the table and he figured that there was only about a 10 chance of getting out of this room without any casualties. Then he was faced with the problem of not having any idea where he was or how to get out. He had already checked his jeans pockets, and they were completely empty and they had not given him back his belt either.

"I would like you to show me what he can do after breakfast." Gracie asked as she pushed her uneaten plate aside ad sipped on her juice.

Wil saw that she hadn’t eaten anything, but would not chide her about it in front of the others, but he was not happy.

Jarod almost protested that he would not run a SIM for them, but clamped his mouth shut again, knowing he was in no condition for another one of her 'punishments’. He had sealed his fate when he had screamed out he was a Pretender when the rats were attacking him. If he had only kept his big mouth shut, none of this would be happening now. He deserved whatever he got for his own weakness and cowardice. The rats had terrified him beyond reason, but that was no excuse. He chastised himself bitterly, it wasn’t enough for him to create this mess for himself, but now Sydney had been dragged into it too.

Jon looked at Wil then her and simply pushed the plate back in front of her, trying to tell her to eat. He knew Wil would tell her off if she didn’t eat.

Grace sighed and took a bite of her eggs before pushing the plate away, looking at both men as she did so. "Jarod, after you show me what you can do, I will allow you to sleep for a little while."

"Miss Gracie?” Sydney asked her politely.

She looked up at Sydney, "Yes doctor?"

"What Jarod does requires great concentration and at the moment he is... he is not at his best. Perhaps you could let him rest for a few hours first, then we could do a demonstration, and in the mean time, I could answer your questions."

Jarod looked up at Sydney grateful for trying, although he didn’t think she would go for it.

She looked at Sydney then at Jarod and studied him for a long time. She turned back to the doctor, "He seems fine to me."

"Very well then, I am sure Jarod will try and do his best, as he always does."

Jarod was in no mood for this kind of game, but the throbbing in his arm reminded him to keep his 'place’.

Gracie smiled and nodded, "I hope so.” She looked at Jarod before getting up and grabbing some painkillers. Walking over to him, she handed the tablets to him and refilled his coffee. "It might help with your arm and your headache I am sure you have.” She said kindly and smiled a little at the man.

Jarod nodded and took them with a genuine smile. "Thank you,” He said to her, looking up at her. The food and coffee were already helping, but nowhere near enough. He doubted that the painkillers would take off anything more than the edge of his pain, but at the moment, he would take what he could get.

Grace smiled back and brushed his hair from his brow, "You are welcome Jarod. You just let me know if you need any more for your arm, ok?" As she looked down on him right in this moment, he reminded her of a small boy. Upset and hurt, needing to be looked after.

"Yes Miss Gracie,” He said, careful to mind his manners.

"Are either of you two hungry still? Do you want anymore food? Coffee?” She asked as she sat back down.

Sydney shook his head, knowing what Jarod needed more than anything right now was rest.

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