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A/N: Thanks for all the great reviews.  Some of you probably have guessed whats coming next, but remember this is an AU story and hopefully I have twisted things enough to keep you guessing.

Wednesday Afternoon

Mr. Parker’s Office

  

Angelo peered down through the vents and into The Greedy Man’s office.  The Greedy Man was talking to The Monster about Friend.

 

“I don’t…trust…him.”

 

“Sydney has never given me any reason to distrust him, unlike others I could mention.”  Mr. Parker glared pointedly at Raines.  “You just want control of the Pretender.”

 

“If I…were in charge,….the Damon…incident… would not have….been… needed.”

 

“If you had been given the Pretender, he would either be a sociopath like Alex or an idiot like Angelo.”

 

Angelo gave a small smirk at that.  He was no idiot, his brain just worked differently.  No one understood how he thought or knew how smart he really was.  No one, that is, except Friend.  Friend had helped Angelo learn to use his new brain.  Friend knew that Angelo understood everything said, he just couldn’t express his thoughts verbally.  Friend had created the secret code so that they could “talk” together.  Angelo would do anything to protect Friend from The Monster.

 

“Tell you what.  You take the Pretender tonight and see if you can find out anything.  But no drugs, no machines.  Do you understand me?”

 

“But how am I to get the truth out of him, then?”

 

“That’s no my problem.  But you should know that the Pretender doesn’t know how to lie.  Sydney, for all his faults, broke that small habit when the boy was first brought in.  Now, the Tower has important plans for the Pretender in the near future, so no permanent damage.  Understood?”

 

Angelo crept back through the ventilation shaft after witnessing Raines’ reluctant nod of agreement.  He had to get to Friend, had to warn him.

  

SIM Lab

Mid-Morning Wednesday

 

The SIM Jarod was working on required only a small part of his concentration.  The escape plan Sydney asked him to formulate required a lot more thought.  After the initial three sentence note, there was nothing in writing.  Frequent searches by sweepers proved the necessity of that.

 

Sydney had indicated to Jarod that he was to keep up the defeated attitude, but it was starting to wear thin.  Jarod hated being shoved around by those mindless idiots in black suits.  And the anger he felt after Kenny’s murder still filled him.  It would take very little for him to erupt again.

 

Sydney sat at his desk and watched Jarod. He could see the tension that was filling the thin body.  He hoped Jarod wouldn’t do anything foolish, but the minute twitches that most people would miss showed him how close to the edge his pupil was.

 

Raines and his sweepers entered the lab and pulled Jarod away from his desk.  Raines grabbed the file Jarod was working from and started thumbing through it.

 

“Raines, what are you doing?” Sydney demanded.  “These constant interruptions are preventing Jarod from completing the SIM.”

 

“He should…have… completed it…by now.” 

 

Raines walked over to Jarod and pulled his head back by the hair.  “Why haven’t….you finished…it?”

 

Jarod grimaced from the pain.  The sweepers were leaving bruises on his arms and Raines had a handful of short hair.  But the pain he felt now, he knew, was nothing to what he would feel if he didn’t answer correctly.

 

“The SIM is more complex than I thought.”  Jarod tried to answer Raines calmly, but the fury was building again.

 

“Unacceptable…Do you require….another lesson?”

 

“Raines, stop this.  You have no authority in here. Jarod and I do not need or require your constant disruptions.”  Sydney voice proved that he too was growing weary of Raines.

 

Raines glared at Sydney, then nodded to his sweepers.  They didn’t so much release Jarod and fling him away.  Jarod stumbled a couple of steps but soon regained his balance and spun to face the sweepers.  His fists clenched and he actually took a step back towards the black suited men.

 

“Jarod, stop!  Sit down.”  Sydney’s voice grabbed Jarod’s attention and he paused.

 

“Sit Down, Now!”  Jarod slowly complied with Sydney’s order, but his eyes never left the sweepers.

 

“Raines, go!  And know that I am going to report this to the Tower.” 

 

With a contemptuous look at both Sydney and Jarod, Raines and his sweepers left the SIM Lab.

“Jarod, that was not smart.  You know Raines is looking for any excuse to have you transferred to his supervision.”

 

Jarod dropped h is eyes down to his desktop.  He knew Sydney was right, but that didn’t make hearing it any easier.

 

Sydney watched Jarod carefully.  He could see the anger that still filled the young man and  he knew Jarod hadn’t been taught how to deal with such violent emotions.

 

“Let those stitches over your eye teach you a little restraint, Jarod.” 

 

Sydney’s soft, accented voice helped calm Jarod and his rapid breathing slowed.  After several minutes Jarod was able to listen to Sydney and got back to work.

  

Very, Very Early Thursday Morning

Ventilation System

 

Angelo crawled through the vents to Friend’s area.  He had been trapped by Bad Men yesterday and this was his first chance to warn Friend of the Danger.  But to Angelo’s horror, he was too late: Jarod’s bed was empty.

 

“No, NO.  No take Friend,” Angelo muttered to himself as he hurried away from the sleeping area.  Down the shafts he went, all the way down to the Hurting-Area.

  

Earlier that Night

Jarod’s Cell

 

Jarod had been sleeping for a couple of hours when sweepers burst in.  Without a word to Jarod, they yanked him out of bed and down the corridor.  Jarod fought them the best he could, but a few blows to the midriff knocked both the fight and the wind out of him.

 

Minutes later, the pain in his stomach was the least of his concerns.  The sound of Raines’ voice brought terror to his heart.  The sight of Willie standing so smugly next to Raines let Jarod know that his pain-filled night was just beginning.











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