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Disclaimer: We dont own then, yada yada yada...

Authors note: Just to let you guys know, the people that were reading By the Grace of God, it has been changed. I am going to remove the orignal version from my page and post the revapmed version here. I hope you like this one as much as you liked the other version. If you want some more of the orignal, let me know and will finish it. As for this one, it was co-written with Jaccione. We both would much appricate any reveiws you guys feel like sending. So read on, enjoy and let us know what you think. Thanks heaps! Onisius

Chapter one...

“Who will it be?”

"It's a guy we want this time."

“Sure, but which one?”

Just as they finished their conversation a man walked past the three people in the dark alley.

“Him?”

“No, no, I didn’t get anything off of him. I'll know him when he draws near. I can feel him, feel the connection.”

They stood in the dark, waiting.

“Him, he’s coming, we have to get this guy!”

A tall man dressed in dark clothing and a leather jacket walked passed the alley, they grabbed him. One hand went over his mouth, smothering the inevitable scream. The other held a gun in it and directed it towards his back.

The unsuspecting man was dragged behind a dumpster. Before he could even register what had happened, they had put duct tape overs his eyes and mouth, cuffed his hands behind his back and bound his feet. This was done with a terrifying efficiency. He was trying to struggle, but it was no use, they finished off with a black hood over the victims head. The kidnappers did not fail to notice their victim's quick shallow breaths once the hood went over his head.

“Get him into the boot.”

Two of them lifted the struggling man into the boot locking him in there. They all got into the Black ’98 sedan, driving off.

The car was just entering the industrial park when it turned into an abandon warehouse. The driver parked the car and the boot was unlocked. It took a great effort to heave the unco-operative man out of the boot.

They placed the kidnapped man on a cold, hard, metal chair. As they tried in vain to re-tie the fighting man to the chair, one of the kidnappers decided enough was enough so the butt of the gun was used to hit him across the face rendering him unconscious.

When the drowsy man came to, he realised he was tied down to the chair. He struggled, testing the bindings, but it was no use. The tape over his mouth and eyes had been removed, leaving only the black, cotton hood.

Jarod had no idea where he was when he woke up but it only took him a moment to realise that he wouldn’t be going anywhere for the moment. He struggled to get loose from the ropes holding him to the chair he was sitting in but gave up when he realised that they would not give. He focused instead on listening to his surroundings, unable to see, he was not sure if he was alone or not. He closed his eyes and concentrated, remaining perfectly still as his breathing evened out again. He was grateful that they had at least removed the tape from his eyes and mouth, but the hood was very upsetting for him and he had to fight his own natural reactions to get control of himself.

Gracie watched him as he stopped his panicking. She listened as the rats scurried about the floor, running over the man's feet. Even though he had tried to hide it, she felt the fear coming off of him in waves and she had to wonder, why her body was telling her she had to get this one, that he was different form the others, that this might be the man work wanted and needed.

Jarod listened intently and heard the small sounds of what he guessed had to be rats, he could not suppress the shiver that ran through him at the thought of it. Once his mind calmed down a little he started to reason that this was probably not the Centre, not if there were rats. The Centre was many things, but it had always been spotlessly clean and in his entire stay there he had not ever seen so much as a single rodent. He guessed even the rats were smart enough to stay away from the evil in that place. He started to relax just a little, reasonably sure that he was not back at the Centre.

Grace walked slowly over to him, her heels clicking softly on the hard concrete floor. They had stripped the man down while he was out of it, only wearing his pants and the hood now. Bare feet, bare chest. She leant over, breathing hot air over his nipples and bare skin. This man would be fun for her to play with before they took him back if he was right. If he was still the wrong one, she would dump him some where and let him go.

Jarod heard the heels and tensed. He tried not to shiver as he felt her breath on him, realising for the first time that he was half-naked. The rats had scurried away at the first sound of her heels on the floor and he moved his head around, trying to locate her. "Parker, take this off me please,” He told her, trying to sound confident. But he was becoming more fearful every moment.

The men were just so much fun to tease like this. The few women she had taken often had families, little children at home and she would always feel extremely bad. She would skip the fun and games, find out whether or not they were what she was looking for before she cut them loose, giving them a bunch of flowers and an apology card. Gracie frowned when she heard the name Parker, it had such a strong sense of power, of fear, of leadership to it. She ran a soft fingernail over his collar bone, wondering if she finally got the right person.

Jarod moved away before he could stop himself, the fear building every second. This was not like Parker at all. She should be gloating by now and he started to wonder if perhaps he was wrong. Also, there was no Chanel, and Jarod could not remember a time when he couldn’t smell that on her. "Where am I? Who are you?” He asked, his voice a little shakier than before. Although if this wasn’t the Centre, perhaps all was not lost just yet.

Gracie leant over to his ear, "I am your new owner, you belong to me.” She whispered to him through the black cotton hood. Her hand on his chest, keeping her from over balancing as she leant into his ear, his finger nails digging in slightly. She loved his fear, could smell it, feel it, taste it.

Jarod tried to shrink from the touch, but was tied too tightly. That was another thing that told him this wasn’t the Centre. It would be cuffs and shackles, not rope. "Who are you?” He asked, trying to ignore her statements about ownership. Information was what he needed right now, and he had precious little of it. "What do you want?"

"You know, I think I finally have the right person,” She whispered to her boys behind her. They had sent her on this mission years ago, and her superiors were growing impatient with her lack of progress. She had found a few suitable people and had sent them in, they had proved to be useful. But she had to find just one, the one. Grace moved to sit on his lap, her legs spread at his crotch. Resting her arms over his shoulders she smiled at the hooded man, "I want your name first. Then I might think about letting you out of the hood."

Jarod shifted as much as he could to accommodate her weight. He frowned, wondering if she thought she had the right person, how she could not know his name? Unless she just wanted to confirm it was really him. He though about a lie, but decided against it. "Jarod,” He said, trying to sound confident, not wanting to show her his weakness.

"Well it’s nice to meet you then Jarod.” She said with genuine happiness. "You answer my questions, and I will answer what I can of yours. How does that sound to you?” She asked, trailing a finger across his naked chest as she talked, happy this one was so far behaving.

He wanted to move away from her very badly, but he needed to keep her talking. He didn’t recognize her voice and if she had been a sweeper, he doubted she would be playing this kind of game. "Sounds reasonable. But I think you may have made a mistake. I don’t know who you are after, but I am not him."

"That very well could be true, we are not sure who we are after either, but that is why you are here, to find out if you are whom we seek.” She was getting such different feelings from him. Hurt, sad, lonely, isolated and wondered if she might just have the right one. If she was feeling right, how lonely had been all his life, she knew how he felt.

"I don’t follow,” He said, wishing she would take the hood off.

"I am sure you don’t. Now Jarod, can you tell us why you were walking the streets in a bad neighbour hood, in the dark?" It was a strange thing for a man to be out alone in a neighbour hood like the one she had gotten him from. She was safe, she had her two boys. And even though this man looked very strong, it was still very dangerous. It made her wonder what he was up to.

Jarod was having trouble making any sense of this at all. If this was just some random kidnapping, he may be able to talk his way out of this without the Centre ever finding him. "I was just passing through,” He told her. He needed to keep her talking, find out as much as he could. There was something terribly wrong about this whole situation and dread was settling on him. If these people were not from the Centre, and so far that seemed to be the case, there was still some hope for him. She didn’t seem to know who he was at all, yet she was definitely looking for somebody specific, his job would be to convince her that she had the wrong man.

"Passing through to where? I want a last name, a job and a place of residency Jarod.” She ordered him in a strict tone. She was in no mood to play these sorts of games.

"Just Jarod,” He said. If she wanted information from him she could take the hood off.

"Then just Jarod, I think you might have confirmed it. If you won’t tell us, then you have something to hide. If you have something to hide, you must be who we seek. I will have to go call my boss now and tell him we are bringing you in, to ready a cell." Grace informed him, hoping it would get him talking. She knew he was hiding something, it was plain as day.

"No wait," Jarod said, starting to panic. He tried to loosen the ropes, but they wouldn’t budge. "Jarod Paterson,” He told her after a moment, using the name he had used on his last sim.

Gracie smiled. "And where do you live and work Mr Paterson?” She asked, her fingers tweaking a nipple as she heard the panic. He was scared of something, and it wasn’t just her.

Jarod hissed in a breath as she touched his sensitive nipple. He could feel his body break out in goose bumps and he tried to remain calm. "I am between jobs, and residences at the moment."

"That is not a good enough answer Mr Paterson. You will tell us your last job and residence then. And do not waste my time about it." Gracie ordered in a harsh, rough voice.

"Doctor, I am a doctor, was a doctor working at Memorial Hospital. What do you want from me?” He still couldn’t figure out why she wanted him to answer these questions. If she was prepared to take him back to a cell in the Centre, then this was really just a waste of time.

"What town and state where you working in? I am getting extremely tired of you not answering me correctly.” She said angrily, slapping his face though the fabric.

His head snapped to the side and he took a moment to gather himself, trying again to loosen the ropes around his wrists. "Locally, the hospital about 15 minutes from where I was taken,” He said slowly, trying to remain calm. He needed to be focused, ready for any opportunity that might present itself. She had not mentioned Raines or Parker or the Centre yet, so he was still hoping to get out of this without any Centre involvement.

Grace listened as she heard the soft taping of keys and knew Wil was checking his background. She stayed in silence, just watching the man she was sitting on. He had such a strong body, but held many scars and she wondered what they were from. Did he do extreme sports and get injured a lot? Or was there something more sinister about the scars? She could have sworn one or two looked like bullet wounds.

"What do you want from me?" Jarod asked again. "I don’t think you have the right man."

"I was waiting to see when your questions would start. I told you I would answer the ones I can. And if you are the right man, you will find out what I want soon enough. But if you are not...” She trailed off.

"If I am not?” He asked her urgently, not liking the sound of that at all. He had been working steadily on the ropes as he had been talking to her and given enough time, he might be able to work them loose.

"Then we deal with that when it comes don’t we?" She wanted him to be frightened, to feel threatened by the current predicament. When scared, they slip up, reveal things they would try to keep secret.

Jarod thought about that for a moment and decided that he wasn’t going to answer any more questions until she took off the hood. Without his sight, he was completely at her mercy.

Wil held the notebook computer up so she could see. He was a ghost, and Wil had been unable to find a single detail on him beyond the fact that up until today he had been a doctor at the hospital for about three weeks, and another hospital for a couple months previous, but before that, he didn’t seem to exist at all.

A few moments later, she saw Wil walk over and show her his results. "Now why Mr Paterson, did you not exist until 2 months ago?” She asked him with raised eyebrows. Funny how he refused to give up information, only for Grace to find out he did not exist.

Jarod sighed, whoever these people were, they were not amateurs. He remained silent, staring into the darkness of the hood, trying to fight off the memories that it conjured up.

Gracie gripped his neck and squeezed it hard. "I am sick of your games boy, you will answer my questions. Why do you not exist?"

Jarod remained still in her grip, trying not to fight her. "They were having trouble with their computers. I guess they still haven’t fixed it yet."

Grace removed her hand and tapped his cheek lightly. "Nice try sweetheart. But my boys aren’t that dumb, they didn’t just check the hospital records. And unless the entire world’s computers seem to not be working, you are lying through your teeth."

Jarod took a deep breath and shut his mouth.

Wil looked at her, wondering what she was she was going to do now. Most of them cracked in no time at all.

She nodded the boys over. "Untie him and fix him up over there.” She looked at the chains hanging down from the ceiling.

Jon moved over to them and waited for Gracie to get off of him before he started to untie his feet, careful not to be kicked while Wil worked on his hands.

Jarod tensed himself ready to move as he felt the ropes coming undone, but before he even finished the thought he felt something cold pressed into his back. "Don’t even think about it, unless you want a new hole in your leg."

Gracie smiled, Wil was always such a control freak. When he was done, Gracie grabbed one of his arms as Jon took the other and led him over. "Chain him up.” She ordered, watching as Jon lifted his arms and cuffed them, securing them tightly.

Jarod struggled to keep his panic under control. They had too tight a grip and that gun in his back ensured he would do nothing stupid. His limbs were also not cooperating with him and he found himself cuffed with his arms stretched above him, although not so high as to be terribly uncomfortable. He was terribly vulnerable in this position, but at least the gun was no longer boring a hole in his back. He wished for the hundredth time that he could see. He was fairly sure this wasn’t the Centre, but it could easily be some place just as bad.

"This is the last time I am asking you, why do you not exist Jarod?” She asked in an order.

Jarod closed his eyes and took a deep breath, remaining silent. Whoever these people were, the less he told them the better. If they had no associations to the Centre, he might still get out of this intact. The less they knew about him, the more chance they would not realise his value to certain people. The very last thing he needed was for them to sell him back to the Centre.

"Not a smart move," Wil said softly.

Jon loved this part. He moved to get the car battery and came back. He waited for Grace to give the confirmation nod and turned it on before placing the wet sponge against Jarod's body. They normally gave in after just one shot of the battery, not strong enough to resist them. He loved hearing their blood curdling screams, it just tickled him like nothing else.

Jarod jumped back violently as he felt the wet sponge on his bare chest and stomach. "Lyle,” He hissed, knowing what was coming next. He had played this game before and it had not succeeded with Lyle, and it would not work for them either.

Jon held the sponge against Jarod's stomach as the electricity ran through him, wondering who this Lyle character he was talking about was.

Wil watched him jerking in the chains, trying to move away from it and shook his head. Most of them learned quickly after their first taste of some real pain.

"Enough," Grace ordered and watched as Jon pulled back. "Now I ask you again. Why do you not exist?" Though Grace was somewhat surprised at how well he handled the electricity. She got the strange feeling he had been though this already.

Jarod sagged in the cuffs, breathing heavily. "Don’t know,” He ground out. He had managed not to scream, not wanting to give them the satisfaction. He had not been able to stop himself from jerking helplessly in the cuffs.

“Pigs arse you don’t know.” She placed her hand over his heart and closed her eyes, getting glimpses of his past. She pulled back as if she had been burnt. "They locked you up, away from the sun and rain. They used you." She whispered. That hit too close to home for her. She knew all about being locked up and used.

Jarod's lip curled under the hood as he sneered at her. "This is some kind of game to you?” He asked in disgust.

"You show respect," Wil said thumping him solidly in the back. He would not tolerate any shit from anyone, not when it came to Miss Gracie.

Jarod lurched forward from the blow, grunting loudly.

Gracie smiled at Wil. He always wanted the best for her. She had not gone a day without seeing Jon or Wil her whole life. Jon was more of a big brother figure, Wil more of her protector, guardian, father.

"You were only little, hiding under your covers. They came in for you, covered your mouth, took you out of your bedroom, they put the hood over your head. A hood just like this one." Her eyes were wide, feeling it, watching the glimpses in front of her. He was only very small, a child still. He was terrified, and had been terrified ever since.

Jarod had no idea who she was, but she knew things about his past she could only have known if she worked for the Centre and his heart sunk. He refused to say anything more, he would never cooperate with these people again.

Grace looked at him sadly, "Jon, let him down.” She knew Wil would have his gun ready and would shoot if he tried anything.

Jon did as he was told and un-cuffed him, watching him drop to the ground with a thud.

Jarod fell heavily to the ground and just remained there for a moment as the blood started rushing back to his hands. When he got them moving, he started to fumble with the knot on the hood, needing to get it off.

Jon stepped in and grabbed his wrists, stopping him. He hauled him to his feet, twisting his arm behind his back.

Wil watched impassively, his gun at the ready, waiting for further instructions from Grace. This one was a fighter, and he was going to keep a very close eye on him. He should be spilling his guts by now, begging for them to ask him questions so he could provide answers. But the man was not responding in the usual way at all. For most people, just being taken and tied up was enough to break them, the fear and uncertainty too much for them to cope with. But he was different, acting as if being kidnapped wasn’t anything too out of the norm for him. He was far too relaxed and it worried Wil. Also Gracie had reacted a little strangely to this one. He had never known her to stop with the car batteries until she had gotten at least some of what she wanted.

Jarod grunted loudly as his arm was bent up, almost to the point of breaking it. He forced himself to relax a little, knowing that they would as well. He would never have any opportunities while everyone was this tense and watchful.

"Bring him to his new room." Gracie ordered, leading the way. They always had a room set up, made of steel, everything welded down, no way for them to get out. She watched as Jon threw him to the ground. "Don’t touch that hood.” He ordered in a deep voice.

Jarod huffed as he hit the ground. He rubbed his arm, but otherwise remained still after sitting himself up where they had thrown him. He was desperate to get this damned hood off, but he didn’t make any further attempt just yet.

Following him in, the door shutting after them, Grace sat on the metal bed and watched him. "I wish you would co-operate Jarod, things would go a lot smoother."

Wil watched him, wondering who the hell he could be. They were usually screaming bloody murder by now or a sobbing mess. He was a cool one, that was for sure, and dangerous too he suspected.

"Smoother for who?” Jarod asked, not hiding the bitterness in his voice.

"For all of us. We get what we want, you don’t get hurt. It’s that simple Jarod. Things would be pleasant while you are here until we have found out what we need to know." She would rather not hurt anyone. All she wanted was to finish her assignment and go back home where things were safe for her.

"Pleasant?” He asked with a hollow laugh. "I can see how pleasant they have been so far.” His fingers moved of their own volition up to the knot again.

"Leave it Jarod,” She warned. "If you answer my questions, you will earn privileges, such as the hood being removed. So far you haven’t given my anything worthy."

Jarod wondered just what those privileges might entail. He tired to listen to see if the two men were in the room with him, but he couldn’t tell. His imagination was running wild, cooking up all kinds of things. "I want to see Sydney,” He finally declared. If they were at the Centre and this was some kind of mind game, he was not going to play along. If they wanted him talking, he would see Sydney first. He hated that he didn’t know if this was the Centre or not. She seemed to know too much about him for her not to be a Centre operative, but there seemed to be gaping holes as well. Unless of course that was all part of the game.

"Well, if you don’t exist Jarod, then how do I know Sydney does?” She asked him, watching him closely for any moves. She glanced at Wil, making sure he took note of the name for later use.

"I am not saying anything else until you let me see Sydney,"

"Well if you refuse to talk, then I guess I am just going to have to dispose of you. Wil the gun please." She hated when they forced her to get rid of them. But she sensed this one could be very important, so she had all intentions of just screwing with him for now.

Jarod knew she was bluffing and remained stonily silent.

Wil handed her his gun, watching closely. This was one cool customer. He was waiting for him to start begging for his life, pleading to be let go. But the man just sat there in obstinate silence.

Gracie loaded the gun and aimed it at him and fired with out blinking, the bullet searing through his arm before handing the gun back to Wil. "We will let the rats eat him.” She said as she and Jon quickly went about cuffing him to the floor, chains coming out of the bottom of either side of the wall.

She stood back, looking down at the hooded, half naked, bleeding man laying spreadeagled on her floor.

Jarod screamed as the bullet ripped through him and could not even resist as he found himself stretched out and cuffed before he had barely registered the pain. His arms were stretched tightly above his head, and he could feel the blood pumping freely. "You can’t leave me like this, I will bleed to death." He tried to move, but both his arms and legs were too tightly stretched, limiting his ability to move completely.

"Not if the rats don’t kill you first, go get the ones we caught the other day.” She ordered, looking at Jon. She knew Jon wouldn’t let her live this down knowing exactly how scared she was of rats, and how she would act like a girl around them.

He nodded and dashed off, going to get the 15 or so huge rats they caught in the traps.

Gracie sat down on Jarod's stomach, touching the wound. "That had to have hurt.”

Jarod shook his head, trying to think through the pain. He screamed as she touched the bullet wound, panting heavily. "If you let me die, they will kill you too,” He tried to reason with her.

"Well you see, my boss won’t know I had you. I get so many new people all the time trying to find a certain one. So it makes no difference if you die or not." Gracie said casually, poking around the fresh wound. "And why do you presume to think you are all so important Jarod?"

"What?” He hissed as she prodded it again. How could she know so much about him but not realise the implications if she killed him?

Jon came back with the caged rats. "I hate those things.” She said, climbing off of Jarod and standing on the bed, "Shut the door so they can’t get out and let them out of the cage."

"No, wait," Jarod said, breathing heavily as he heard them.

Jon nodded, "Not a problem.” He put the cage down and opened the door, letting them run out onto the ground. He didn’t fail to notice Wil climbing onto the bed as well.

"Too late Jarod, I gave you a chance, lots of them actually, and unless you tell me right now everything you think is important, I’ll just let them eat at your flesh.” She said coldly, watching them running around, climbing onto Jarod's body.

Jarod thrashed madly as he felt them on him, their tiny feet and whiskers all over him, twitching at the smell of his sweat and blood. "Get them off and I will tell you what you want to know,” He cried out desperately.

"No, you tell us first Jarod, you weren’t behaving, and you now must pay. And until you tell me what you think is important, they stay.” She said watching as they started to sniff around his wound.

Jarod was bucking his body, trying to throw them off, glad now that he couldn’t see. "I don’t exist anywhere except at the Centre,” He almost screamed. She had to know this, so she must have been after something else.

She nodded for Wil to check it up as she talked to Jarod, his laptop still with him. "Why were you at the Centre Jarod? What did they want you for?” She might have the right guy, she knew of the Centre, her work one of their rivals.

Jarod was panting now, his entire body twisting and contorting trying to dislodge them. "Pretender, I’m a pretender,” He screamed, giving in to full blown panic now. Pain was one thing, and he knew how to deal with that, but this was a whole different matter. This woman seemed content to let him die and he again found himself wondering if this was Centre related or not. He couldn’t figure it out, she knew far too much, but she wasn’t acting at all like the usual sweeper or cleaner. If she did work for them, she would already know what and who he was and if she didn’t, she wouldn’t know what it meant, so it mattered little anyway.

Gracie smiled, gotcha. "Get them off him.” She ordered Jon, not moving from where she stood on the bed.

Jon opened the cage and went about slowly, picking one rat up at a time by their tails, dropping them into the cage, not worrying about moving any faster as he saw one starting to nibble at the man’s wound.

Wil didn’t want to go near them and hesitated a moment before getting up. He started kicking them away, not wanting to touch them.

Jarod started to scream as he felt them gnawing on him, beyond any kind of reason now.

"Would you hurry it up? I hate these things." Gracie snapped at Jon. They were filthy and creepy and plain disgusting.

He sighed, he liked playing like this, he laughed as Wil just kicked at them. He got them all, having to pull the one off of Jarod's flesh.

When they were finally gone, Jarod lay there panting, his fists clenched tightly against the fear and the pain. He didn’t even want to look at the damage to his arm, but he would black out soon if he couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Gracie climbed off of the bed and undid him, helping him to sit up. She inspected his arm and grimaced as she saw the bits where the rats had torn his flesh off. She looked at Jon, "Get those things outta here and get me first aid kit,” She turned to Wil, "I need you to do a back ground check on Jarod here."

Wil nodded, sitting back down on the bed and started tapping away. "I will have to hack past some security, might take a while. Their head tech is pretty good."

"That’s ok. Take the time you need. We are in no rush.” She smiled at Wil, he loved doing this stuff.

Jarod half listened, trying to piece together who these people were and what they might want. The more he thought about it, the more confused he became. At the moment all he cared about was fixing up his arm and trying to stop any myriad of infections setting in.

Jon came back in and handed Grace the kit. "We need to stock up on medical supplies too soon. We are starting to run low. Either that, or you gotta stop hurting these people.” Jon said as he shook his head.

TBC











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