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Author's Chapter Notes:

Hey boys and girls, mostly girls for some reason (always is in the pretender fandom. Not complaining, not at all. Just wondering). Aaanywho, new chapter.


Each character is written by a different author (well almost, some writers add on a second later in the story), so to help you readers keep it all straight, each character has a different color.

Writer / Character

Jacci - Mr Cox

KatieQ - Miss Parker

Manoline - Broots, Emily

Tinanaz - Jarod, Sam

TLM - Sydney

Whashaza - Lyle, Alex

Check end notes for when the next chapter is scheduled to arrive


“W-where are you going?” Broots asked timidly as she stepped out of the car and started walking towards the woods, everything he had in his pockets now in hers.

“To find a spare key,”

After giving him clear instructions not to go anywhere, though she doubted the fear stricken guy could move even if he wanted to, Emily slowly began walking back into the woods.

There was nothing that could help her in the house, she knew that much, but she still couldn’t believe she was doing this. Then again she could say that about pretty much everything she’d been doing in the past couple of days.

Clicking off the safety she prepared herself for what was coming, and with a sugary sweet voice she greeted him, “Hello Alex.”

“Emily,” Alex said stoically. He was still hazy, his thoughts running at a thousand miles a second. He willed himself to control his pesky neurons, while Jarod’s sister fazed in and out of his vision. He frowned slightly when he thought he noticed Mr Broots’ cowardly shadow behind her. “Wh....” swallowing, he tried again and was a little bit more successful when he managed to say, “Why you still here?”

Following Alex’ gaze she spotted the little man hiding behind her. “Didn’t I tell you to wait by the car?” Apparently no one at the Centre bothered to teach him basic survival skills like not following the person threatening you with a gun.

She turned back to face the somewhat drugged up man, “Bashful over here broke the key. You feel like taking a ride Alex?”

Alex shrugged. “No.”

She tried to look Alex in the eyes, but they were flicking around so much that was next to impossible. “Ok, allow me to rephrase then. You and you,” she turned to face Mr Broots who has slowly started the process of creeping back to the car. “Are going to help me get Jarod away from whoever has him. You” she turned back to face Alex, will make one of the cars start and figure out who is holding him. Now if I need to drug you to make that happen, I will.”

Alex blinked, wondering if he had heard right. Managing to get Broots’ face into focus, he decided that it hadn’t been an illusion. Emily was clearly under the impression that he was going to help her.

“And you think….drugging is going….to help?” he asked incredulously, pleasantly surprised when his found he was less tongue tied than before. Ideas was starting a spark in his brain, letting him know that his intellect was slowly returning over the hill, back from wherever it had decided to go off to.

“Well, I don’t know, I’m not exactly the designated medication expert here.” She looked down at her gun, she knew it had been a crazy idea, but unfortunately crazy was the best she had. The wound on her stomach still hurt like hell and she couldn’t help but flinch a little by a sudden gust of pain that washed over her. "She looked up again, desperation evident in her voice, "Please?"

Alex stared at her for a long time, weighting his options that lay like an open book before him. He had so many choices and this was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Emily was obviously hurt – now that he could finally see better, he had noticed the blood on her shirt - and she had no idea what she was doing.

And he could get Jarod back under his control with the unintended help of his sister.

Now that would be classic.

He could use that fact to break Jarod down even further and to control his sister. He had no doubt that he’d be able to get the gun from her once he was completely rid of the last dregs of the drug she had given. Broots wouldn’t be a problem at all.

Smiling, and without any further adieu, he said, “Okay.”

She looked him in the eyes, trying to determine why exactly he was doing this. It had been a crazy plan, one she hadn’t expected him to agree to, at least not this easily.

A sudden movement in her pocket snapped her from her musings, his phone was ringing. She should know better than to agree to this, but she needed his help. And for now he seemed content sticking to her plan.

If those circumstances changed, she knew how to fire a gun; her father had made sure of that.

She picked the disposable cell out of her pocket and held it out for him, “Here, try to figure out where they’re taking him.” Like her mother always said, trust can kill you or set you free.

The moment he took it she raised her gun, “If I see anything suspicious I won’t hesitate to shoot.”


Jarod leaned into Sydney's hand as it continued to rub circles on his shoulder. The soothing motion helped divert his attention from the ominous needle in the front seat and the meanie holding it. He looked out the window next to Sydney, picking that window so he wouldn't have to look at Lyle, and watched all the cars they were passing. This pastime didn't last long before a deep grumbling growl had everyone looking at him.

"I'm hungry," he stated. "Can we stop for some ice cream?"

No one answered his question and Sydney just started rubbing his shoulder again.

"Hey, I'm hungry!"

Sydney hushed him and in frustration he started kicking the back of the front seats. Then he noticed the evil glares coming from the front of the car and they scared him into stopping. He bounced back in to his seat and crossed his arms, glaring staight out the front window and pouting at how mean they all were.

Then a new sensation made itself known and he started squirming in his seat. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and he poked Sydney on the thigh to get his attention.

"Sydney, I have to go to the bathroom" he announced in a loud whisper.

"You have got to be kidding me..." Parker muttered under her breath as Jarod launched into another childish episode. What the hell Lyle and the idiots from Africa thought they could accomplish with this drug was beyond her. Another five minutes of this behavior and she might be tempted to start using bullets to give her mind a moment's peace. She somehow doubted that even Sydney with his eternal patience could stomach the thought of trying to get the latest Elmo fanatic into sim mode.

Parker's answer to Jarod's pathetic plea was to step even further on the gas.

"What, did Papa Syd forget to pack your pampers?" she asked, glaring at Lyle as she spoke.

There wasn't enough caffeine, nicotine or alcohol in the world to make this situation better.


Alex closed the phone and smiled at Emily. “Change of plans. Jarod is going to Africa tonight.”

Emily frowned, "Why would they - " The look in Alex’ eyes quickly made her conclude this was one Centre secret she was better off not knowing, for now. "Ok, they’re probably going by plane, that’s a fair assumption right?” She had never been very good at leaps of faith, so she felt she could with some certainty say that the pretender gift had skipped a sibling, “So…they’ll be going to an airport. Did your contact tell you were?”

Alex had to stop himself from rolling his eyes at her idiotic questions. He sighed and leaned back against the tree, lifting an eyebrow in expectation of her reaction to his next words.

“So, what exactly are you prepared to give up to save your brother from hell? Because I can promise you this, if he gets in the Africans hands, you’ll never see him again.”

"You of all people should know the answer to that question by now.” She said over confidently. If it came down to it, she had no idea what she might do, looking down at the gun in her hand only strengthened the uncertainty, but for now she would just have to keep believing whatever it was it would be the right thing. She turned her attention to the clearing further ahead, “I assume you can pretend your way into picking a lock Alex, because we’re going to need a car.”

Alex laughed. He found the whole situation amusing. If it wasn’t for the fact that Emily had the gun… speaking of which, “Give me the gun and we’ll see what I can and can’t do.” His eyes cold, the smile gone, he stretched his hand out and waited for her decision.

She instantly clicked off the safety and raised her hand, "I may not know a whole lot about hotwiring, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need bullets to start a car.” Her gaze switched intermittingly between Alex and the trigger, and she continued with a sharp but steady voice, “Now do as the person holding the gun is telling you to and move away. Don’t they teach you guys anything at the Centre?” She cast a quick glance over at Mr. Broots who was currently covering behind a couple of shrubs before looking back up at Alex,

“I will not hesitate to shoot you. If you don’t believe me, then please take a moment and think back to what measures I’ve resorted to since you met me. Then ask yourself, why wouldn’t I fire the gun?” This wasn’t her. Holding a gun, threatening people. She didn’t know what she was capable of anymore, and it scared her more than she liked to admit.

“Then pull the trigger, sweetheart. I’m not going anywhere until you give me the gun.” With that statement done, he tilted his head and gave her an empty smile.

“Get a grip Alex, gaping holes in your vital organs will be no good when you finally go to that airport, and I know you will.” Emily said more confidently than she felt. If he didn’t cooperate now, she would have to shoot, and honestly she would prefer not to.

“Tick tock, darling,” Alex said as he glanced down at his watch. “This is getting old and I think that you’d like to be at the airport before brother dearest boards the plane to the land of no return. If you don’t trust me with the gun then give it to Mr Broots. I’m sure we’ll both trust him not to know how to use it.”

Although she was somewhat weary of leaving her life in the hands of a certain tech, she was glad to rid herself of the gun and the cramp that came with it. It might not have been as good a solution as she’d hoped, but it was far better than what she’d feared. “Fine,” she walked towards Mr. Broots, not turning her back on either of them for a second, “Take it”

“Oh nononono,” Broots shook his hands vigorously, this was definitively not a good idea.

“I said ‘take it’!” She yelled into the little guys ear, closely emulating a drill sergeant. Obviously he was used to that kind of behavior, because he responded immediately, grabbing the gun by the barrel and holding it straight out behind him, as far away from both Emily, Alex and himself as Brootsly possible. And this was the man keeping her from certain death, great.

She returned her attention back to Alex, while still keeping a close eye on the man with the gun, “Now would you please go start a car? Any car, there are plenty to choose from out there.”

Alex rose smartly and smirked. “You ready?” When Emily nodded, he extended an arm and waited for her to lead the way. Broots scrambled past him awkwardly. A moment later he followed the duo.

All he had to do now was scare Mr Broots to death with one of his glares and he’d have the gun back. He could wait for was the moment when Jarod was back in his care before he did that.

Yup, things were definitely looking good.


Jarod's squirming in the back seat was getting worse and his stomach was growling louder than Miss Parker was. He was ignoring Sydney's alternating attempts at both game playing and at asking him to settle down.

"I want some ice cream," he mumbled only loud enough for Sydney and Sam to hear him. "Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream."

"OWWWW! You hit me! Meanie! Sydney, he hit me!" Jarod started sobbing, but looked at Sydney from the corner of his eye."

Jarod was going to get louder, but then he saw Miss Parker glare at him from the rear view mirror and Lyle turning towards him, syringe in hand.

He slouched down into his seat and folded his arms as best as he could in pure frustrated anger.

The car was absolutely silent for the next fifteen minutes, but then Jarod caught sight of something that truly terrified him. The car sped through a curve in the road and there straight in front of them loomed the Centre. The little bit of grown up still accessible in Jarod's mind started screaming and the two year old controlling his body followed along. His screams pierced the silence in the car and his attempts to get out of the moving vehicle made his earlier tries seem like a minor inconvience. Somehow, during his struggles, he was turned sideways on the seat and he used that to his advantage. He repeatedly kicked at Sam, trying to push him out of the way. His struggles were causing the handcuffs to cut into his wrists and the blood was spraying across the interior of the car. But all that Jarod could see was the beige fortress growing in front of him.



Broots readjusted his seatbelt to keep it from sawing into his stomach while silently wowing to never complain about Miss Parker's driving ever again. Maybe she didn't slow down an awful lot before a turn, but unlike Alex, at least she didn't hit the throttle.

The carsickness Broots had heard Jarod had been suffering from obviously didn't run in the family because since the moment Emily discovered there was food in the glove compartment she'd been happily chewing away on his precious funions, it looked as if she hadn't eaten in days.

Broots was glad Alex had picked Sydney's car to hotwire. Ever since the Lyle's license plate had been returned in the mail Broots had been hearing rumors of some sort of voice recognizing based booby trap for cars that was being developed down in SL23, and he wasn't terribly eager to find out whether or not that rumor had been true. Besides, if they were going to drive for a long time it might get a little nippy, and then he could simply grab a jacket from his luggage in the back, he couldn't do that in Lyle's car.

He was a little insulted that no one at the Centre had bothered to as much as call to see that he was ok, they were after all well aware that they had dumped him in the woods while someone was inside Sydney's cabin. For all they knew it could have been a crazy axe murderer, actually that wasn't too far from the truth. But he supposed they did have a pretty good excuse, after all they weren't very used to actually catching Jarod, maybe they were having trouble figuring out where to put him.

So he decided not to think about that anymore and instead use his time more productively in coming up with an escape plan of his own, which he eventually did, one he was rather proud of actually. Sure, it might not be something Miss Parker would have done, but then again most things he was comfortable with wasn't. His plan was as following: For now he would do exactly what they told him to, then as soon as anyone from the Centre arrived and the inevitable showdown started he would simply slide onto the other side and hide behind Miss Parker, before the shooting started of course. Yes, with a little luck it could be that simple, and he was way overdue for a little luck.

And from what he could detect from the hushed arguing coming from the front seat it would be about half an hour before they reached their destination, a small Centre owned airport about a half an hour away from their current location.

He rubbed his wrist, he was starting to understand why Emily had been so cranky earlier, holding a gun was very stressful. He constantly had to make sure his finger wasn't on the trigger so that he didn't shoot anything without meaning to, and he had to keep pushing back in place the loose thing on the bottom so it didn't fall out completely, "the clip" Miss Parker used to call it, but like everything else on a gun he had no idea if it even served a purpose. Maybe it was a little gun-appendix.

On top of that he had to stay alert at all times so that no one, like Alex, tried to grab the gun from him and shoot him in the head with it. Or the knee. The knee would probably be just as bad except that Debbie would still have a father, that was if he didn't bleed to death.

Broots was snapped out of his train of depressive thoughts as Alex' wild driving reached new heights. While not letting go of the gas pedal for even a second he made what could only be described as a V-turn, leaving the car hovering ever so slightly in the brisk air. By the time it landed on the unpaved dirt road they just pulled into, Broots found himself sitting with the loose piece on the gun in one hand, and the rest of the weapon in the other.

Alex and Emily were in the middle of a heated discussion, so Broots didn't really dare putting the loose piece back in it's hole, afraid that if it made a sound it might infuse the situation further or make Alex to turn his current rage on him instead of Emily. So instead he put it in his right pant pocket before readjusting the belt one more time.

All he had to do was slide and hide, and this nightmare would be over once and for all.

Chapter End Notes:
New chapter: Saturday I believe

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