Disclaimer: The Pretender isn't mine so don't sue me. I only have claim to all the other characters (not to mention the plot) that you don't recognize.

PhoenixRae's Notes: I actually wrote this fic back in 2000 and since I didn't know that ff.net existed back then, I just kept it saved in a diskette that I just only recently came across once again. I did some editing to it, but please bear in mind that this fic supposedly took place right around Season 4 of the series.

Summary: Two lost souls on the run from the very place that made their lives hell. Will The Center catch them? Unwanted feelings surfaced. Old feelings reopened. Will one be able to face the truth?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I. Hidden Emotions

"Please, Miss Parker, you have to help me." begged Ameleeiah, the girl abducted by The Centre and who was now in hiding.

Miss Parker found out what Raines and The Center did and managed to spring her former high school friend's daughter out of that place before any damage could be done to her.

"Who are you running away from this time, Ame?" Miss Parker asked, annoyed at the girl, and at the same time, she cares for her as well. She doesn't want any harm to come to the girl.

"Who else but The Centre people." the girl answered without any qualms.

"What?!" Miss Parker could not believe that after their talks, Raines and her father would defy her. "Are you sure?"

"Would I lie to you, Parker?" Ameleeiah asked mockingly.

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow and said, "I guess not." her voice husky and her blue eyes big.

"Look, I wouldn't bother you if this is not urgent, but I don't know who else to turn to. My parents are both dead--or alive, I'm not sure. But whether they're dead or alive, I wouldn't know because when I was first taken from them by those sweepers, I heard some sounds from their bedroom and a gunshot." Ameleeiah shivered as she reminisce the scene that unfold before Raines' men captured her.

Parker looked at the girl and could not help herself but feel sorry for her. She knew what it was like to lose a parent—or both parents in her case. Her father was still alive, but he hardly sees her as his daughter; theirs was a relationship akin to business—no more, no less. It was only her mother who treated her with such love and care that she couldn't believe she was borne from the man who runs The Centre.

Reaching out, she pulled the girl in her arms and soothed her until she was all cried out.

"Broots!"

Broots and Sydney jumped at the angry voice of the woman who made men's knees buckle just by the mere sight of her. Not to mention those piercing blue eyes of hers could cut any men in two.

"Yes, Miss Parker?" Broots asked, afraid that he did something wrong again to make this woman get so mad.

" 'Morning, Miss Parker." Sydney greeted.

Miss Parker merely acknowledged the old man before turning her attention to Broots, the techie expert in their trio. Stopping by the side of his computer desk, the man was forced to look up at the woman responsible to make his heart skip every time he was around her. Even if she was this cold and mean, Broots still liked her. He believes that somewhere inside her heart lies the same little Miss Parker Jarod kept on reminding her off. And he was willing to find out if that same little girl still resides in this Ice Queen's heart.

"Broots..."

"Y-yes, Miss Parker?"

"Broots, I want you to find out who is Raines' latest target this time. I want to know everything and everyone that bastard is after."

Sydney heard the urgency and anger in the young woman's voice. He couldn't stop himself from voicing out his concern.

"Is there something wrong, Miss Parker?"

Miss Parker turned to face the man with an almost grey hair. She raised an eyebrow before saying, "When Raines is concerned, something is always wrong."

Sydney himself, raised an eyebrow. "Something very particular is concerning you, Miss Parker." he cajoled, looking the woman straight in the eye, "You know you can rely on me if ever there's something bothering you." he offered.

Miss Parker merely smirked at the old man, but she kept Sydney's offer in mind. She knew that one day soon she will need his shoulder to cry on, but for now her concern was Ameleeiah, and Jarod.

Damn that man! He always escapes from her!

"Oh-oof!" Ameleeiah was thrown off balance when she collided with the hardest male chest she had ever encountered. Thank goodness the person she collided with grabbed her arms before she fell flat on her behind on the hard, and cold, pavement sidewalk.

"A-are you okay?" a wide-eyed man looking like in his mid-thirties looked down at the girl he just collided with, concern was mirroring in his dark brown eyes.

After gathering her composure, Ameleeiah looked up at the man looking down at her, her gaze locking with his eyes. His warm, chocolate brown eyes that showed every emotion he was feeling. Ameleeiah thought she had just died and gone to heaven having encountered such drop-dead-gorgeously looking creature. She felt her knees caving in beneath her and he must've sensed that she wasn't still stable and hung on to her arms for support.

Oh, my knight in shining armour, she thought demurely.

"Are you okay, Miss?" the handsome stranger asked again.

Ameleeiah was jolted back into reality when the urgency in the man's voice reached her brain.

"Miss?" Jarod asked, worried that he hurt the girl very badly. He swore he didn't see her when he rounded the corner. She just came out of nowhere.

The moment a pair of smouldering hazel eyes looked up at him and in to his eyes, Jarod knew he'd have a hard time if he ever gets involved with whatever was troubling this young woman. And yet...and yet she somehow looked familiar to him. He felt as if he knew her, he just couldn't remember where or when she'd seen her before.

"I'm alright. Thanks for your concern." Ameleeiah replied, avoiding his gaze and doing her best to stand on her own two feet without them going all Jell-O on her. She noticed something crossed his gaze the moment he looked at her. Somehow she felt like he recognized her, and that was something Ameleeiah doesn't want. If what she saw in his eyes was indeed recognition, then she was in big trouble.

Sweeper! That was the first thought that crossed her mind. The one person she was avoiding happened to be the person she ran in to. OK, Lee, keep it cool. Act naturally and keep your fingers crossed that he didn't recognize you. She cajoled herself and slowly pulled away from his tight grip on her arms.

"I—I can get up on my own." she said when the stranger didn't move.

"Are you sure?" Jarod asked, wanting some time with the girl still so that he would be able to remember where he have seen her.

"Yes. Yes, I'm fine, mister." Ameleeiah replied, still avoiding his eyes.

"Alright." Jarod answered then slowly let the young woman go albeit reluctantly of course. She looked so damn familiar to him and yet he couldn't put his finger to where and when he had seen her before. Hell, that's going to bug me for a very long time, he thought irately.

Jarod wasn't the only one having a hard time putting a time and place to the face before him. Ameleeiah felt a pang of recognition when she finally had a good look at her saviour. Sure he was this handsome young man in his mid-thirties who managed to make her heart do some flip-flops, but at the same time he also struck a certain nerve inside her. She tried to hard to wrack her brains, trying to remember when and where she've seen him. Her first instinct told her he was someone from The Center, and maybe she was right. She thought he was one of the numerous sweepers that blasted corporation had, but…

Him! her mind shrieked when she finally remembered where she first saw him and why she had this familiar feeling that they've met before. He was the man at The Centre doing something that concerns a lot of very fancy gadgets when she was first brought there years ago—four years ago to be exact.

Jarod saw the girl's face change. She recognized him too, but how? He wanted to ask her some questions, but before he could do as much as open his mouth, he noticed her eyes widening at catching a sight of something—or someone rather—over his shoulder and hastily made a mad dash away from him.

"Ame?" Miss Parker called shortly after she returned home at the end of the day. "Ameleeiah?" she called again, but Ameleeiah wasn't answering her back.

"Miss Parker."

Miss Parker jumped at the sound of the voice. She turns around slowly, glaring at the man who startled her.

"Syd..." she hissed, closing her eyes to calm herself down. She has been expecting the worse when she came home and finding Ameleeiah gone. "What do you want?" she asked irately.

Sydney stepped out from the shadows and crossed the room to stand face to face with the headstrong young woman.

"Ameleeiah Johnston, or should I say Lee Johnson?"

Miss Parker couldn't understand what Sydney was trying to get at. Shaking her head, she frowned at the older man.

"What are you talking about, Syd?" She feigned innocence, however something akin to alarm was nagging at the back of her head the moment Sydney mentioned Ameleeiah's alias while in hiding from The Center.

Sydney raised an eyebrow. "She is Raines' latest conquest. They are bringing back the Pretender program."

I knew it, Miss Parker thought bitterly, her fists balling tightly at her sides. She already guessed who Raines was after, but she wasn't sure as to what that old crone was up to until now.

Miss Parker found out shortly after she rescued Ameleeiah from Raines' hands that the girl has a gift, a gift that was just like the one Jarod has. No wonder Raines wanted her so badly. He needed another guinea pig to run his damn tests on.

"I have to put a stop to it, Syd." Miss Parker's eyes suddenly turned ice cold, her glare piercing right through Sydney's head. "Raines mustn't get that damn project off the ground."

"Miss Parker, I know why you are after Raines. Ameleeiah is the girl you rescued before she became another Jarod. But you and I know that we can't put a stop to Raines' madness just like that," he snapped his fingers together, his eyes still locked with the young woman. "You gave Ameleeiah an alias and to let her live a normal life, but you can't be doing that forever."

"But Ameleeiah is a Jarod already, Syd. Even without The Centre's help, she is a born genius." Miss Parker explained. "Raines knew this when he first abducted her. Her IQ was remarkable and her ability to do whatever she wanted to do and become whomever she wanted to be was extraordinarily akin to Jarod's."

"How did you know about this?" Sydney was surprised at how well Miss Parker was aware of the young woman's abilities.

"Because I looked after her after I took her away from that damn place!"

"And you felt responsible for her, is that it?" His tone alarmed Miss Parker that his prior news wasn't the only thing he came here to see her for.

Miss Parker squinted her eyes and looked at Sydney. "Is there something else you want to let me know, Syd?"

Sydney took a few minutes first before opening his mouth. How can he tell her the other thing Broots found out concerning Ameleeiah Johnstson?

Ameleeiah looked around her. This place Jarod was taking her was very filthy—and scary. She was surprised when Jarod followed her after she fled from him. Seeing those men in dark suits sporting dark sunglasses caused her adrenaline to go on overdrive. She fled before she was spotted. She nearly had a heart attack when she stopped at a corner shop café and felt a hand land on her shoulder.

She gave an alarmed shriek and spun around, ready to kick some serious ass when she noticed that the man she collided with moment before had followed her. He introduced himself to her as soon as he reassured her that he was safe. Ameleeiah reassured him that he wasn't the one she was running away from and explained that The Center sweepers were out looking for her. That irked Jarod's curiosity and started asking more about her.

Ameleeiah explained the circumstance of their first meeting. They met briefly during Ameleeiah's short stay at The Centre a few years back, months before Jarod escaped from the place. It was weird to find someone coming from that place, as Ameleeiah loved to call that hellhole.

"Here we are." Jarod finally announced.

Ameleeiah stopped right in the middle of a very shoddy room where a bed, kitchen, dining room, and living room are all clumped together in one place.

"This is where you live?" Ameleeiah couldn't stop herself from sounding so bitchy, but she just couldn't believe that this man, this man, who was as smart as her could tolerate living in a dump like this!

"This is no Beverly Hills mansion, but at least there's electricity and running water." Jarod replied, annoyed at her attitude. "Haven't you lived in a place like this before?" he asked after a while.

Ameleeiah looked at him, "Never." was her quick reply.

No. Since she was a little girl until Miss Parker rescued her, she has never been to any of these places. Never lived in any of these places, as a matter of fact. She was used to living a life of luxury, the one her parents, and then Miss Parker, gave her.

Jarod raised an eyebrow, "Oh really?"

Ameleeiah caught the sarcasm in his voice. She turned to him and glared. "Yes, really." She nodded, reassuring him that she wasn't bluffing.

"And why is that?"

"Because I was raised in a home not like this dingy place you call home!"

"This place may be dingy, but at least I can hide from The Centre sweepers."

At the mention of the place they both don't want to hear about, Ameleeiah started to understand why he chose to hide in this place than somewhere that would draw attention to him.

"I'm sorry for acting so bitchy and snotty. I'm just…well, seeing those guys in suits earlier kinda unravelled my nerves, ya know?" She crossed the tiny room and sat on the edge of the bed. Burying her face in her hands, she took a deep breath and mentally counted one to ten to calm herself down.

"Lee?" Jarod looks at her, studying her shaking form. "Lee, are you—are you alright?" He crossed the room and sat beside her.

Ameleeiah took a couple more deep breaths, finally getting her nerves to calm down before lifting her head from her hands. She looked beside her and gave Jarod a reassuring smile.

"I'm okay now. I'm just…worried. For a moment there I thought my life would be over. I just…I just want to get away—as far away as possible—from this place and The Center."

"I know what you mean, Lee, I know," Jarod smiled slowly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulled her beside him. "I've been doing that for the past four years now."

"Ame is what?!"

Sydney watched as the woman who was as cool as ice lost her composure. He shouldn't have dropped the bomb like that. He should've been more tactful, but he knew Miss Parker needed to know that very important fact about the girl she took under her care four years ago.

Ameleeiah Johnson wasn't only a very special girl—she was also Miss Parker's half-sister!

"Yes, Parker. Your father sired her while having an ongoing affair with another woman long before your mother's death. He didn't know about the child his lover bore, nor if the baby was stillborn or alive."

Miss Parker stared at Sydney for the longest time. This can't be true. This wasn't happening to her! Ameleeiah was her half-sister?

"But how could she—"

"Her mother was once a Pretender, Parker." Sydney answered before she could finish her question.

"A what?"

"She was one of the first batches of pretenders The Centre had. The woman was in her early twenties when she started having an affair with your father."

Miss Parker's jaw fell. Her father had an affair with a woman younger than him?

"W-what happened to the woman?" Miss Parker was even afraid to ask.

The look Sydney gave her spoke volumes.

"Oh...my...God..." She fell on the couch beside her, her blue eyes wide from disbelieve, her colour disappearing.

"OK, so what's the deal with you?" Lee asked Jarod shortly after they shared a lunch the next day.

"They want me back to do some more sims they could use."

"Some more what?"

Jarod looks at her with a raised brow. "You don't know what a sim is?"

Lee raised an eyebrow herself. "If I knew, then I wouldn't be asking you now, would I?" Was her smart-aleck reply.

Jarod didn't miss the sarcasm in her voice. He couldn't help but grin at the attitude of the young woman. She still reminded him of someone he knew though, but he still couldn't figure out exactly who it was that she reminded him of.

"How long did The Centre keep you anyway?" he asked.

Lee merely shrugged, "Not too long. Miss Parker bailed me out as soon as possible," she explained. "And you still didn't answer my previous question." She reminded him.

Jarod forgot all about her question. His ears perked the mention of the lioness who often led the search to capture him. "Miss Parker?" he echoed.

"You're changing the subject again, Jarod."

Jarod ignored her and asked, "How did you know Miss Parker?"

"I am not going to answer that until you tell me what sims are," she insisted, crossing her arms firmly over her chest.

Jarod made a face at the stubborn young woman. He wouldn't find out any answer from her until she got some answers of her own. He briefly explained to her what sims are then asked again how she got to know Miss Parker.

"She's that nice, sweet lady who rescued me from the clutches of that awful man and her father. I knew her from before those sweepers took me. She and my mother went to school together." she smiled.

This tiny bit of information caught Jarod's attention. Miss Parker soft on this girl?

"How old are you again, Lee?"

"I'll be 22 in a couple of months. Why?"

"Well...for a 21 year old, you're already successful."

"That's because I graduated from college at the age of 18." she informed him.

"18?" Jarod echoed

"Yep." Lee nodded.

"Wow...you must...you must be a genius to be able to graduate from college at the age of 18." Jarod sure was impressed with her. "What did you take in college?"

"Medicine. Actually, I was suppose to be an MD, but then I decided to take Psychology because it's more fun and challenging at the same time because it helps me be the person I am analyzing. My instructors were impressed with me because I can actually act out the person whose life I am analyzing!" She exclaimed unaware that Jarod was now staring at her very intently.

"Lee, did—did you just say that you can be the person you're analyzing? I mean you can be in their shoes?"

Lee frowned. "Yeah. Is there something wrong with that?"

Jarod didn't answer. Now he knew why The Centre wanted this young woman.

"Find out anything, Syd?"

Sydney and Broots looked up at the woman who entered Sydney's office. Sydney was grinning; Broots was worried. He just found out another clue to the identity of Miss Parker's ward's life, and he didn't dare tell Sydney about it.

"Nothing so far." Sydney answered.

"Broots?"

Broots tensed.

"Uh..."

"Well?" the woman demanded.

"Uh...I think you won't like this one I found, Miss Parker."

Miss Parker raised one neatly plucked eyebrow. "Oh really? Look, I am not liking anything so far, so what one more bad news could make, hm?"

"Uh...okay..." Broots nodded, darting a worried glance at the other man in the room with them.

"Well, this is getting really exciting, now spill it, Broots, before I rip your spine out!"

Broots jumped from his seat as the woman's patience burst. "Uh...well...um..." he cleared his throat, "You see, Ameleeiah became a guinea pig to some tests many years ago, and these tests were done by none other than Mr. Raines himself. It seems like Raines heard of the child, Mr. Parker's bastard, and wanted to take the child under his wing since your father didn't know about the pregnancy."

"But she was adopted by the Johnstons!"

"Ameleeiah was adopted after Raines thought that the experiment failed."

"Failed?" Miss Parker echoed angrily, "What do you mean? Just a little over four years ago, Raines abducted her once again!"

"Yes. Yes, he did, but that's because he soon found out that Ameleeiah became a super-genius!" Broots exclaimed.

"What?" Miss Parker asked, almost breathlessly.

Broots nodded.

"Yes, Miss Parker. You see, Ameleeiah already inherited her mother's ability, to become a pretender, but since she only has half of that ability to become one like Jarod, Raines devised something to make her even more knowledgeable than any pretender The Centre ever had."

Jarod watched the sleeping form of the girl he remembered seeing that day, just months before he escaped The Centre. She was being dragged by Raise' sweepers.

"Sydney, why is that girl being dragged like that?" Jarod asked his mentor when he was disrupted from doing yet another one of the numerous sims The Center had in store for him.

Sydney turned to the focus of Jarod's attention at the moment. He frowned then looked down at his ward. "She must have done something wrong and is going to be punished." he explained simply.

Jarod raised an eyebrow, "She doesn't look like she has been here for a long time." he observed.

Jarod remembered Sydney sighing. For some reason, he knew that Sydney agreed with what he just said. Lee was being dragged against her will. For whatever reason, Jarod doesn't know.

Glancing at the sleeping girl occupying his small bunk bed, Jarod sighed and made himself comfortable in the sleeping bag he placed on the other side of the room. Lee never really talked to him about her brief stay at The Center, she only mentioned that it was dreadful and she didn't want to go back there ever again.

Ameleeiah's biological mother was murdered. Her adopted parents were brutally injured. The father died because of a concussion; the mother lived, but is a quadriplegic.

Oh Anna, Miss Parker thought miserably. She remembered her former high school friend confined to a wheelchair after what happened. Miss Parker made sure that she was well taken care off at a very expensive care center and visited her as often as possible to give her updates on her adopted daughter's whereabouts.

Miss Parker read the report Broots gave her earlier. Up until this moment, she was still trying to get it into her system that she has a half sister. She only found out that she has a twin brother and now this? Just how many more skeletons in the closet does her screwed-up family have?

The sudden ringing of her phone beside her startled her. Angrily, she picked it up.

"What?" She demanded.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Miss Parker." a familiar male voice cajoled her.

Miss Parker rolled her eyes heavenward before closing them. Taking one deep breath, she asked, "What do you want, Jarod?"

"Actually, I don't want anything this time, Miss Parker. But, I think I have something—or someone—you want."

This caught Miss Parker's attention.

"Ame? You have Ame?"

Jarod chuckled on the other end of the line, annoying her.

"Now, now, don't go calling the swat team or your ever reliable sweepersm" he warned, "Lee is currently safe and sound—with me."

"What is she doing with you?" And how in the world did their worlds collide and ended up with each other?

Jarod chuckled again before answering, "Like me, she is also hiding from The Centre." And without further warning he disconnected the line.

"Jarod? Jarod?!" Miss Parker kept on calling his name, but the line was already dead. "Damn the bastard!" She hissed before disconnecting herself. But at least she knew Ameleeiah was safe. She was with Jarod and Miss Parker knew no matter how much Jarod hated The Center, he wouldn't turn his back on yet another lost soul whose life had been ripped away by the very place she worked for—and loathed.

Jarod was grinning shortly after he disconnected the line while talking to Miss Parker. Tucking his cell phone in the breast pocket of his shirt, he looked at the still sleeping girl on the bed. Walking towards her, he stood on the side of the bed and just watched her.

He started memorizing every bit of her face. He doesn't know why he was doing that, but he just did. Somehow he has this gut feeling that this meeting of hers with Lee Johnson won't last...

Sydney's office phone started ringing. Glancing at his wristwatch, Sydney frowned. Who would be calling him at this ungodly hour of the morning?

He picked up the phone and curtly answered, "Sydney."

"Syd."

Sydney quickly recognized the drawl of that male voice. A smile crossed his face.

"Jarod...it's so nice to hear from you."

"Same here."

"So, to what do I expect this phone call for?"

"I have her, Syd."

Sydney frowned, unsure what his former ward was talking about. "You have who, Jarod?"

Jarod snorted. "The girl. Remember, the one the sweepers were taking to Raines' office months before I escaped from The Centre?"

Ameleeiah Johnston. "How did you two meet?"

"By chance, actually. Almost didn't recognize the girl."

"Oh? And where is she now?"

"She's safe—with me."

Sydney smiled. "That's nice to hear."

"Yeah, that's nice," Jarod agreed. "But Syd, I think I'd be needing your help. The Centre wants Lee, and I have already learned things about her to figure out why Raines wants her back."

"What kind of help, Jarod?"

"Find out why she was abducted before—four years ago."

"Jarod—" He was about to protest, but Jarod didn't give him the chance.

"Syd, please. The girl is scared to death. I want to know why Raines wants her. I'll call you." He didn't wait for a reply he just hung up

Ameleeiah woke up with a start. She reoriented herself with her surroundings. Something was awfully wrong. Where was Jarod? Why was she alone?

"Jarod?" She called out, getting out of the bed. "Jarod, are you here?" She crossed the makeshift bedroom and stepped outside to where the small dingy place holds the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

"Jarod?" She looked around the small place. No sign of Jarod anywhere. She was beginning to worry. What if, while she was asleep, The Centre abducted Jarod? What would she do now?

"Jarod?" She called out again, and this time waited a little while longer for a reply, but none came.

Ameleeiah waited for Jarod until mid-morning. Shortly after 10:30, she started fixing the small place while still waiting for Jarod to come back. If by 12 noon he still hasn't come back, no matter what she promised him, she will go out and look for him!

She was keeping a close eye on her watch; only half an hour to go before she sets out and looks for him. At exactly five to 12, Ameleeiah was ready to leave this dingy place and search for Jarod. Just as she was about to step out of the door, she collided with something once more. After recovering her balance, Ameleeiah slowly raked her gaze upward and stared right into a pair of warm, chocolate brown eyes.

"You!" She said with a catch in her voice, "Jarod, we have to stop meeting like this!" She hissed, getting her composure back.

Jarod grinned cheekily. "I'm sorry," he apologized, stepping inside. "I wasn't expecting you storming out of here."

Ameleeiah's eyebrow rose. "Well, I wouldn't have, but I woke up this morning without any sight of you!"

"And you were worried?"

"No...yes...whatever!" She raised her arms in frustration before turning her back to him.

Jarod caught her arm before she could walk away for him, "Why were you heading out?"

"Let go of me, Jarod."

"Not until you answer my question."

"There is nothing for me to explain. I was worried that you left or were abducted by The Centre people which doesn't sits well with me because...why am I even explaining this to you? I am here, am I not? So quit fussing about it! You were back safe and sound." She wriggled her arm from his grip then and succeeded.

"You are here because I got back before you left. Did you even think about what could have happened if I hadn't come back as soon as I did? You would have left this place and only God knows what could happen to you!"

Ameleeiah heard the alarm in his voice. She didn't mean to alarm him, but damn him for making her worry like that!

"I was about to leave in search of you because you left me without a note. You left me with nothing to let me know where you were! That's why I decided to search for you on my own because if...because if something—something happens to you, I don't...I wouldn't...just be happy that I'm here, OK?" God, why was she feeling this way? Sure she woke up alone and was alarmed that Jarod wasn't around fussing about this or that. But he was back now and why were they even having this argument? She promised him she wouldn't leave this place unless she was with him. She nearly broke that promise because of him.

Jarod staggered backwards after her explanation. Does this mean that she cares? No, she was just worried. She couldn't possibly care for him enough to worry about that, and yet...

He remembered seeing her being dragged towards Raines' office a few years back. Their eyes held for the longest time, until she was out of sight from him. He remembered the pleading in those pair of hazel eyes looking at him, asking him for help. He noticed disappointment, too, after she was reeled away and into Raise' office because he didn't help her.

Ameleeiah slowly walked away from Jarod, controlling all her emotions inside. Dammit, she can't be experiencing these feelings for Jarod. Not right now!

"Broots!" Miss Parker called angrily.

Broots jumped from his seat, pouring hot coffee on his lap. "Dammit," he hissed, glaring at the coffee spilled on his lap.

"Broots," Miss Parker stood beside him, arms crossed and eyebrow raised. She was not in a good mood. "Have you found Jarod's latest lair?"

"Uh...n-no, Miss Parker."

"No? What do you mean no? You have been working on it day-in, day-out and still you've come up with nothing? Dammit, Broots!"

Broots was running out of excuses to give his boss, thank God Sydney showed-up when he did or else he'd be hanged. With the way Miss Parker was looking and acting right now, she can kill anybody who crossed her way!

"Miss Parker." Sydney said, wanting to catch the woman's attention, which he did.

Without turning to look at her, she snapped an angry, "What?" at him.

"Jarod spoke to you last night." It wasn't a question but a statement.

Miss Parker turned to look at the man after this statement.

"Boy Wonder spoke to you as well?"

Sydney crossed his arms over his chest as well, looking at the woman straight in the eye. "He has her, Parker."

Miss Parker raised an eyebrow, "So the bastard told you."

"He wants my help, Parker."

The woman raised an eyebrow at him this time, "And why are you telling me this if Boy Wonder asked for your help?"

"Because I wouldn't be able to help Jarod without your help, Parker." Sydney crossed the small space between them, "You know the girl more than anyone else around here. If I'm the one who knows Jarod well, then you are the one who knows Ameleeiah more than anyone else. We don't know where Jarod will be taking Ameleeiah or what he has planned with her. All I know is that Jarod will keep Ameleeiah with him until he is sure that she is clear off everything that concerns this place."

Miss Parker only looked at the man straight in the eye. Sydney was not joking. Jarod will keep Ame under his care until he finds out a way on how to rescue the girl. But Jarod and Ameleeiah together? God, she was fearing the worse! She remembered Ame confiding in her about the man she saw inside The Centre while she was being dragged into Raise' room.

She said Jarod was handsome! Miss Parker remembered her young charge having a big crush on him. She doesn't know if Ameleeiah still felt slightly attracted to Jarod, but God only knows what goes on in that girl's mind!

"Jarod, if you don't mind me asking, why are we heading north?"

Jarod looked at his young companion, "Because nobody would look for us there. Once we're established in Canada, we can start thinking of a plan to foil The Centre people," he explained

"What if they track us there?" she asked worriedly.

"We'll have to chance it. But for now, our main concern is to escape from those people and hide somewhere in Canada."

Lee wasn't happy with his reply, but she'll just have to settle with it—for now. She knew that she would be safe with Jarod, even though the two of them could easily fall into an argument; but he was the closest to sanctuary that she had right now. She'd take her chances with him than by herself. He had been dodging The Center for years now; he must've learned a couple or so tricks while he was out and hiding.

Jarod and Ameeliah headed up north to Canada in a black sports utility vehicle. Neither spoke, but both were weary about this new quest of theirs. Whatever lies for them in Canada, they must be willing to face it, if they don't want to be captured by The Centre.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

to be continued...

A/N: So, what do you think of the first chapter so far? Feedbacks are appreciated.