Before you start, this chapter is going to start a slightly higher rating due to the darkness of the content. There is physical abuse to Sarah in this, but just suggested and nothing sexual. I wanted to make sure anyone about to read this knows that before going on..

Chapter 5: Sarah

The food on her tray wasn't all that appealing, and Sarah sighed as she tried to figure out which item she would be able to stand putting in her mouth. As she speared what she supposed was a green bean, a familiar voice said, "I wouldn't eat that if I were you."

Sarah looked up as Jason slid into a seat across from her, and felt her heart flutter just a little bit. He never sat with her during lunch, and with Rebecca still sick, she had been eating by herself. "Well, it's either this or starve." She put her fork down as Jason dug into his backpack and pulled out a plastic container.

"You need to learn to bring your lunch," he said as he pushed the container to her.

Before she could respond, one of his friends grabbed his shoulder and whispered something to him. Jason laughed shaking his head. "Hey, I gotta go, but you can have that," he told her as he stood up and left with his buddy.

For a few moments, she sat staring at the container, wondering why he had sat down her.

"Hey, Sarah, what did Jason say to you?" a girl called Melanie asked.

"Um, he said I shouldn't eat this stuff they are trying to pass off as food and gave me some of his lunch," answered Sarah, as the other girl sat down in the seat he had just vacated.

"He's really nice like that, sometimes. I don't know why he's popular though, because he's always hanging out with Rebecca. But they have been friends since we were all in kindergarten. The other guys haven't ever made fun of him, though… So what did he give you to eat?"

Slightly confused by the sudden attention she was getting, Sarah looked back at the container and opened it up, finding a meat filled sandwich inside. She took it out, and took a bite. "I have no idea, but whoever made this really knows how to cook."

"Well, if you want to, tomorrow you and Rebecca can come sit with us. She usually does, but well, she's been with you, so anyway, bye."

Taking another bite of the sandwich, Sarah tried to figure out if she should take that whole thing as a compliment, or an insult. She figured Rebecca would do what she wanted and was her friend because she wanted to be – not because she felt sorry for her – but maybe that wasn't the case.

Her next class was with Jason, and she wasn't surprised when he didn't sit with her. That act alone got Sarah thinking about lunch and about her worry that both he and Rebecca felt sorry for her, and that they had befriended her for that reason. Sarah got out her sketch pad and her art pencil once Mrs. Martens told them to sketch the bowl of fruit on each of their tables, and began to work on her assignment.

Sketching came easy for her, and it wasn't difficult for Sarah to complete the assignment before the class was over. She took the time to shade in the fruit and give more detail to it, smiling as her teacher stood behind her.

"Sarah, you are doing quite well at this, have you had lessons before?"

"No, I have always liked sketching things," she answered, ignoring the other girls at her table who began to whisper once their teacher had gone. She didn't care what they thought, and was used to being talked about.

On the bus, Jason came to sit beside her once he had gotten Michaela settled with her little friend, and Sarah couldn't help but ask, "Are you my friend because you want to be, or because you feel sorry for me?"

The expression on his face told her all she needed to know and she quickly got up and moved to the seat behind them.

"Sarah, I never felt sorry for you. I mean I…"

She cut him off. "Jason, you don't have to explain it, trust me, I've been through this a whole lot. I have never fit in, and I likely never will, so just do me a favor and leave me alone, and tell Rebecca to do the same."

After that he turned around and Sarah felt for the first time in a long time like crying. Jason didn't say anything to her for the rest of the ride and when she got off the bus and looked at him, he was reading a book. You wanted him to leave you alone; she thought as she got of the bus and walked down the side walk to the city building.

Her father's office was on the top floor, and when she arrived, his secretary Grace smiled and greeted her. "He's in a meeting right now, and said that you needed to have Frank drive you home."

"I figured he would want that," she said softly, as Grace paged for Frank to meet her out front. Once she was back outside, Sarah considered going to the park. It was only five blocks away, but then she knew better. Her father liked things his way, and his way was all that mattered. Once the car had arrived she sat down in the back seat and tried to ignore Frank, who always starred at her through the rearview mirror.

Seated in Richard's old office, Jason was deep in thought over the events of the day. For the life of him, he could not figure out what he had done to make Sarah mad at him, and that was frustrating. He was starting to get frustrated. Why did girls have to be so complicated? Why didn't they come with some sort of book of instructions like the model planes he used to build with Richard? These thoughts kept him from being able to focus on his work, and after staring blankly at a page in his history book, Jason gave up and closed it.

He walked out of the office and over to his mom's work station. "Mom?"

She was typing and finished with whatever she was doing before she looked at him expectantly.

"Can I go to the park without Michaela?" He already knew she would suggest taking her, but then again Michaela was in an after school program down at the daycare so maybe she wouldn't.

"If you promise to stay at the park," Mom answered.

"I will." He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

She nodded and got back to typing. Jason turned, nearly running into Jimmy. "Whoa, sorry," he said.

"Not your fault, I need to get these uploaded before the Chief has my head."

He didn't stay to talk, and Jason dodged a few other people before on his way to the office where he grabbed his brown jacket before heading for the elevators.

A cool breeze greeted Jason as he walked out of the building. After such a hot summer, it was nice to have it cool enough to wear a jacket. At the curb, he looked across the street and toward the park down the block, remembering that he had just told his mom he would stay there, but he also wanted a chance to talk to Sarah. Since the city building wasn't too far away, Jason turned right and began walking.

It wasn't long before he arrived at the city building and after he entered, taking his hands out of his pockets, Jason took the elevator to the top floor. The doors opened to the Mayor's office and he was greeted by a woman with long, blonde hair. "Hi, I'm Jason Kent. I was just wondering if maybe Sarah was here."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Kent, she has already gone home for the day, but if you want, I can send a message home with her father."

Jason thought about that for a moment, then shook his head. "Nah, I'll just talk to her at school tomorrow."

He turned to leave and heard a door open from behind him. The elevator opened and as he was about to step in Sarah's dad called out, "Wait just a moment, there."

Jason looked back, and faced a man who was almost as tall as his own father. "Sorry, I was just looking for Sarah."

"What business do you have with my daughter, young man?"

For a moment, Jason wasn't sure what to say, or if this guy was for real. "Um, I just wanted to tell her I was sorry, I got her all mad at me is all."

The man standing in front of him furrowed his brows, staring intensely at Jason before saying, "She's got a good head on her shoulders, and I don't need anyone messing that up," he said.

Jason backed up a little and barely made it into the elevator before it closed. "Geez, I thought my mom and dad were bad," he mumbled.

Back outside, Jason made a mental note not to say anything to Sarah about his visit, and made it back to the park in record time. He walked over to the playground and sat down on one of the swings, wondering if her outburst today wasn't a result of her dad. It was hard not to feel sorry for her, but Jason decided to try and make it up to her if he could.

The drip of water and the damp darkness of the room she now occupied used to terrify her. Sarah remembered the first time she had made him angry, and how hard she had cried when he had left her in the basement for an entire night. When her father let her out the next morning, he had hugged her and told her how very important it was for her to do exactly what he wanted.

When she was a little girl that had been fine, but now Sarah was almost a woman, and she had her own opinions. When her dad got home he had burst into her room and grabbed her arm, pulling her up off the bed.

Sarah rubbed her hand over her lip wondering if it was as swollen as it felt. It was too dark to see, and there weren't any mirrors down here, anyway. He hadn't even said why he was angry, and she was sure she would hear about it soon enough.

The sudden turn of a doorknob drew her attention to the sound, and Sarah had to cover her eyes as the light came on.

"I don't want you to talk to any boys at your school; they mean trouble for you, Sarah. One of them came by the office today, what did he do to make you mad at him?"

"Jason," she mumbled softly.


"He said he wanted to be my friend, and he did it because he felt sorry for me." Sarah realized that she could be wrong, but her anger and pain kept her from admitting that. She also knew what her father wanted to hear, and continued. "Don't worry – I'm not going to talk to him anymore."

She looked up at her father as he glared down at her. Sarah looked him in the eye and watched as his expression softened. "Go on and get that lip tended, too. If it's bruised, I want you staying home. I'll call in tomorrow and let them know you have come down with the flu."

Once he had gone, Sarah climbed the steps and walked down the hall into the kitchen where she climbed a second set of steps. In the hallway she turned left and went down to her room. After the door was closed, sat down against it, and drew her legs up hugging her arms around them as she rested her forehead against her knees. It was almost a miracle that her dad had finally allowed her to attend school. Always before, she had tutors educating her. Sarah tried hard to remember the happier times, and sighed. When she was a little girl, making him happy was the most important thing to her. When he was happy he took her places, and he even laughed. Now it was rare that he ever smiled, and she felt somehow responsible.

After she stood up, Sarah walked over to her closet, pulling the door, which sometimes stuck to the frame, open. In the back of her closet she moved some blankets aside and pulled a box from out of the left corner. Once seated on the hardwood floor Sarah pulled the blue and gray striped skirt she had worn to school down over her legs, Sarah opened the box and began to pull out several pictures, most of them brown with age, due to the fact that they had never really been properly stored.

There was enough light from her room for her to see the photos. The one she loved most she held up, tracing her right index finger over the faded image. She shut her eyes, and tried to remember that time, and the woman who held her in her arms. Talking about her mom was the thing that always got her into the most trouble with her father. He said that her mother had left them not long after she turned three and that they were much better off alone. Now that she was getting older, and more independent, Sarah wondered if her dad was telling the truth.

After looking at the picture for another few minutes, Sarah put it, along with the other pictures, back in the box and got up. Once she had pushed it back into the corner, Sarah placed the blankets back on and around it. "If he found out," she whispered, as she shook her head, causing her long, blonde hair fall down around her face.

"What about over there?" Jason pointed to the right corner of the puzzle he and Michaela had been working on since they arrived home from The Planet.

She was sitting on his lap with her head tilted slightly to the right. "Ohh," she said as she leaned forward and put the piece in her hands into place. "Jason, how did you get to be so smart?" Michaela tilted her head back and he grinned at her as he kissed her forehead.

"I'm not that smart. I guess it's because I've been in school for a long time."

Seemingly satisfied with his answer, Michaela went back to looking at the puzzle and Jason sighed and shut his eyes. He had volunteered to watch her while their parents went for a walk outside. Jason had hoped that keeping his little sister occupied would take his mind of Sarah and the annoyance and anger he felt about what had happened today, but so far it wasn't working.

"We're back," he heard their dad call out.

In an instant Jason was alone, and he listened as his sister began talking about building the puzzle. Idly, Jason wondered if Michaela would be fickle like Sarah, and sometimes Rebecca. He hoped that if he spent enough time with her he could teach her not to be so strange when it came to being around the other guys… then again, Michaela didn't need to think about boys, ever.

After standing up and stretching, Jason walked out of the family room to the kitchen and past where his parents were sitting at the table listening to Michaela. He was glad that she was keeping them occupied. Up in his room he sat on his bed for a moment, thinking about what he could say to Sarah tomorrow to make it up to her. It was then that his anger flared. Jason grasped his hands into fists and shut his eyes. "What do I have to apologize for? I gave her my lunch and she goes all loopy!"

"Jason, the phone is for you," his mom called out.

He hadn't even heard it ring. He hoped it was one of the guys – to his relief, it was Mike. "He's coming back?" Jason asked. He shut the door once his mom had gone back downstairs.

"Yeah, he's all healed up now… and madder than a snake."

"Why do I get the feeling that I just made things worse?"

"No, no, it's not like that. See he's mad because all of his friends have been calling him, poking fun at the fact that an 11 year old beat the crap out of him."

"I'm almost twelve," Jason defended.

"Yeah, whatever. See, now he can't do anything that won't make the other guys in his class laugh and I just think that's awesome, man."

Jason thought back to his visit to the Fortress and back to that day when Michaela had seen what he had done. In spite of how bad he had felt then and even at the Fortress, it felt good to him that Preston was finally getting payback for all the times he had been a prick. "So, what do the other guys think?" Jason asked as he began to feel a little better.

Morning's arrival was usually something Sarah welcomed. It meant she could get away from the house and the threat of doing something her father didn't like to a place she really enjoyed; only now she wasn't so sure. As she yawned, Sarah felt a stab of pain in her lower lip and remembered last night all too well. She hadn't looked in the mirror then, but now as she stood in front of her vanity with the light on the left end glowing softly she could see the bruise and the puffiness.

Without warning, her door opened and she turned to face her father, who was dressed in a grey pinstriped suit. "You won't being going to school today. I've already taken care of getting Frank to get your assignments at least for today and if not the next couple. Go downstairs and put some ice on that, and no TV. You can go out to the barn if you want, but no riding today."

Before she could say a word he was gone and Sarah hung her head, feeling her heart pound heavily in her chest. Going back to sit on her bed, the young girl thought very seriously about running away. That thought had been with her more and more, along with the thoughts that somewhere out in the world she had a mother who wanted and loved her.

With the knowledge that her dad would be gone for most of the day, Sarah decided that perhaps it was time to do some digging and see if she could find out something about her mother, and in turn find a way out of this hell her father had created for her.

AN: I want to thank htbthomas for her superb editing skills. Also thank each and everyone one of you who are continuing to follow Jason's adventures. If you would take the time to write a review as small or as large as you want, those always help and I value your opinions.