On the Run


On the Run
By
Morpheus

When Ethan and Jack are kidnapped from the orphanage by some strange people in dark suits, they manage to escape and go on the run...but not before the boys are given a strange shot which has shocking effects on one of them.

Part 1 of 6
By Morpheus

I sat up straight in my chair and stared at my enemy across the table. Neither of us said a word as we just stared each other in the eyes, waiting for the next move, waiting to see who would flinch and look away first.

Finally it was Jack who blinked and looked away first, while I laughed out, "I win!"

"Darn," Jack sighed as he rubbed at his eyes, "I almost had you too..."

"Did not," I grinned.

Jack just grinned back, "Did too..."

For a moment, I just looked at my best friend Jack, as though I hadn't done that enough during our little staring contest a minute earlier. He was 12 years old, the same age as me, with shaggy brown hair that probably needed to be cut. Jack was my best friend, and had been ever since I had come to the orphanage 5 years earlier.

Then I frowned, not wanting to think about when I'd first come to the orphanage. With one car crash, I'd lost both my mom and dad, as well as everything else in my life. And as if that wasn't bad enough, I'd been sent to the orphanage where the only good thing was that I'd met Jack.

"Hey Ethan," Jack called my name, "You wanna go out and play tag? We can get a couple of the others to play..."

"Sure," I shrugged. It wasn't like we had much else to do.

A few minutes later, we were out in the large yard out back, having easily found a half dozen other kids who were eager for something to do. The game pretty much went as normal, with the two kids who were a little older than us being the fastest, while the kids who were younger than us were easy to catch and avoid.

"You can't catch me," Jack yelled out, taunting one of the older boys, which was ironic because that same boy had tagged him just a short while earlier. And after that, Jack had touched one of the younger kids, who had managed to get the older boy only after he had tripped. "You can't catch me..."

"Quit your yelling and run," I yelled at Jack, laughing as he tried to do just that.

I laughed even more as the older boy continued to chase Jack down, even when there were easier targets. However, with Jack's constant taunting, it was easy to see why he was a favorite target in the game.

Later it was my turn. I was 'it' and trying to find someone to tag. I glanced at Jack, thinking about going for him, but he had already been 'it' more than anyone else. I could have run for one of the smaller kids who weren't as fast, but that seemed almost too easy.

So instead of going for one of the easy targets, I felt ambitious and decided to go for the 'big game'. I wanted one of the older kids. So far the only times that they had been tagged during this game was when one let himself get touched, or when the other had tripped.

At first, I ran for my chosen target, though it soon became obvious that he was too fast. But instead of going after someone slower, I grimaced in determination and 'tripped', falling against a tree and then collapsing to the ground. I didn't move as I lay there, playing 'possum' and pretending that I was unconscious.

"Ethan?" Jack cried out and came rushing over to me.

The others did the same, gathering around me to see if I was all right. And then, out of the corner of my mostly closed eyes, I saw what I had been waiting for and struck. My hand lashed out and grabbed the ankle of one of the older boys.

"Tag," I grinned as I sat up, "You're it..."

"Hey," my victim complained, "That's cheating..."

However, the other older boy just laughed while Jack grinned, "You sneaky bastard..."

Just as I was getting up to continue playing, I noticed a white van parked on the side of the street across from the orphanage. But what really caught my attention was that there were two people standing next to it and watching us play tag. There was a man and a woman, both of whom were wearing dark suits and sunglasses, as well as grim expressions.

But after staring at the two people for a moment, my attention was torn back to the game by Jack's yelling, "Hey...are we playing or what?" And since I didn't want to get tagged back, I immediately gave my full attention to running.

Several hours later, the game of tag had been long over. Most of the kids in the orphanage were either busy with their turns helping to prepare dinner, or goofing around with a game of Monopoly that had been going on for a little while.

Jack and I had helped get dinner set up the night before, so we didn't have to help with those chores again until the next day. And since we had nothing we had to do and a little time to burn until eating, the two of us went out to the yard to play a little catch until called.

"Okay," Jack clutched the worn football, "I'll throw it and you run for a catch..."

"Alright," I agreed, already in motion.

Unfortunately, I dropped the ball, but I was still able to pick it up and start running back towards Jack, while he aimed to catch me before I touched the tree which according to our rules, meant that I won the point. However, I wasn't fast enough this time and Jack was able to grab me.

"Gotcha," Jack laughed as he pulled me to the ground.

"And I've got you both," a man's voice suddenly announced.

Jack and I both jumped to our feet, then froze in surprise as I saw a man standing just a dozen feet away. It was the same man that I'd seen by the van a little earlier. And he opened his jacket enough for us both to get a good look at the gun in his holster.

"Which one," the woman that I'd seen earlier asked as she came closer. She had a gun as well, but hers was in her hand rather than still in it's holster. Fortunately, it wasn't quite pointed at us, but that was small comfort at the moment.

The man stared at Jack and me from behind his dark glasses before responding, "Both of them." Then he patted the bulge in his jacket where the gun was and told us, "Come along quietly. Not a word."

I just stared at the man in fear and confusion, wondering what was going on and what he wanted with us. I quickly glanced at the woman as well, but there were no answers there.

Jack paled and was just about to scream, when the woman quickly put her hand around his mouth and growled, "NOT A SOUND." She glared at me, and all I could do was silently gulp my understanding. "Now MOVE."

With that, we were unceremoniously marched to the white van that I'd seen earlier, pushed and shoved a bit when we weren't going quite fast enough for them. I gulped in terror, glancing back at the building, hoping that someone saw what was going on through the window, though I didn't see anyone looking.

"Oh God," I whispered in fear, unable to believe that I was actually being kidnapped. That Jack and I both were.

"Get in," the man shoved us both inside, then climbed in with us. He pulled out his gun and held it ready, though not actually pointed at us. Still, it was obvious that he meant business.

The woman however put away her gun and quickly climbed in front into the drivers seat. And without a word, she started the engine and we were moving.

I had no idea where we were going, where they were taking us or why they had even kidnapped us in the first place. I wanted to ask but was afraid that they'd get mad and shoot us. Or gag us... Or gag us and then shoot us...

But Jack stammered, "Are...are you going to kill us?"

"Maybe," the man responded with a shrug.

Then the woman snapped back, "Don't scare them... We don't want them shitting their pants while we're in here with them..." The man just grunted but didn't say a word.

Jack and I were both scared, too scared to do anything except glance at each other and draw comfort from the fact that we weren't scared alone. The man didn't say a word either, neither did the woman up front. Instead, she just drove, though I couldn't see to tell where to.

We were moving for what had to be about twenty minutes before the van finally stopped and they gestured for us to get out. I saw that we were in front of an old house that looked like it hadn't been taken care of in years.

"We're at the safe house," the man stated into his cell phone while the woman used her gun to gesture for us to go inside.

I gave Jack a nervous glance, having a bad feeling that things were going to get even worse. And I could tell from his expression that he was thinking the same thing. I was definitely scared enough to fill my pants and it was a near miracle that I hadn't done so already.

Once we were inside, I saw that there was sort of a doctors examination table in the middle of the living room, along with a video camera and a bunch of strange looking machines. I gulped, my heart racing in fear. Fear and confusion.

"It looks like a mad scientists lab," Jack commented weakly, obviously trying to cover his fear with a show of bravery. "Are you guys trying to make Frankenstein?"

"Actually," another voice started, "Frankenstein was the doctor...not the monster." The newcomer was an older man with white hair and wearing a blue turtleneck sweater.

"Who...who are you?" Jack stammered fearfully.

"You may call me Dr. Frankenstein," the older man responded with an almost pleasant smile of amusement. Then he turned to the man and woman who had kidnapped us, "You were supposed to bring one boy."

"We didn't know which one to bring," the man shrugged in embarrassment.

The old man...the self proclaimed Doctor Frankenstein sighed, "It doesn't matter..."

"What are you gonna do?" I asked in fear, then quickly added, "Please let us go... We won't tell..."

However, the Doctor didn't pay any attention to me. Instead, he gestured for the two kidnappers, "Hold them both."

The man held me tightly, ordering, "Don't move."

"It'll be easier if you cooperate," the woman added, holding Jack just as tightly.

Then the Doctor went over to a table and started messing around with something, saying, "Fortunately I have enough for several doses..." As the Doctor turned around, he held up a needle...a syringe that was filled with some sort of bluish liquid. "Hold still," he ordered, "This won't hurt much."

With that, the grip that held me grew even tighter, even as I struggled to get free. However, he was way too strong and held me too tightly. I yelled out as the needle went into my arm, but even though it stung, it wasn't quite as painful as I'd feared.

Once he was done giving me the shot, the Doctor went back and took out a second syringe, which he filled up from a small container. Jack actually started screaming as though they were trying to kill him when they gave him his shot, but for all I knew, maybe they were.

"Lock them in the room," the Doctor told his two Igors as he began to clean up.

A minute later, Jack and I were led to a room and unceremoniously shoved inside. And as the door shut, I could hear the clicking sound of a lock. But even though I already knew that it was locked, I couldn't resist trying the door anyway, finding that I was right.

"They locked us in," I said unnecessarily.

Then I turned and slowly looked around the room. It was a fairly small bedroom, with a single bed against the wall and a dresser next to it. There were windows, but they had bars on them.

"Oh shit," Jack cried out as he sat down on the bed, "what are we gonna do?"

"I don't know," I whispered, sitting down next to him.

"What was in that shot?" Jack demanded, his eyes filled with the very same worry that I felt.
"I don't know," I repeated quietly.

Jack took a deep breath, then blurted out, "Maybe it was poison... Or maybe...maybe it was drugs."

"What?" I blinked at that.

"Maybe they're gonna make us into drug addicts," Jack exclaimed, "Then they'll make us sell drugs for them..."

For a moment, I just stared at Jack, not sure that his suggestions made any real sense, but since I didn't really have anything better, I just grunted.

The two of us just sat there in that room and shook in fear for some time, not sure what was going on or what was going to happen next. However, when they didn't come in for us, we both calmed down a little bit. Not much...but a little.

Since there wasn't anything else to do, I decided to start looking around in the room. I looked under the bed, in the closet and in the dresser. They were all empty. There wasn't even a deck of cards for us to play with.

Eventually, the girl 'Igor' came in and set a plate with a couple plates with sandwiches down on the floor in front of us, along with a couple cans of soda. "In case you're hungry," she said with a shrug before leaving again and locking the door behind her.

"I'll bet the cops are already looking for us," Jack whispered to me, as though he were afraid that they might overhear through the door. "I'll bet they called the cops and told em we were kidnapped right away..."

"Maybe," I responded quietly, then added, "But maybe they just think we ran away from the orphanage..." It certainly wouldn't have been the first time that kids had run away from there. And I didn't think that runaways would be real important to the cops. Not as important as kidnappers at least.

At one point, I heard some voices talking right outside our door, so I moved closer and tried to hear what they were saying. I couldn't get most of it, but I did hear a little.

"Do you know how long this is going to take?" the girl 'Igor' asked.

"No idea," the guy 'Igor' responded. "I just hope it's soon so we can get out of here..."

That was as much as I was able to hear before they'd moved too far away for me to make out anything more. Unfortunately, it didn't really answer any of my questions, only giving me more instead.

Though Jack and I were stuck in that room, our kidnappers were at least nice enough to let us go to the bathroom which was right across the hall from us. Of course, they kept a close eye and wouldn't even let us close the door when we had to go, which made it pretty hard to take a leak. I guess they were afraid that we were gonna try escaping or something. I just wished that we could.

When it was time for bed, Jack and I shared it, neither of us taking off our clothes. It wasn't like we had any clean clothes to put on anyway and I didn't want to take a chance of our kidnappers coming in and catching me in my underwear.

In the morning, I was horrified to wake up and find out that it hadn't just been some bad dream. Jack and I were still prisoners, though we still didn't even know why. The only good thing was that they seemed happy just to leave us locked up in that room.

After they brought in a couple bowls of cereal...without the milk for our breakfast, Jack and I sat back, wondering what was going to happen next. My fear was partly gone as there didn't seem to be any immediate threat other than boredom, though it was still there in the background.

"Think they're gonna give us another shot?" Jack asked me nervously. Then he stood up and in a show of bravado, announced, "If they try it again, I'm gonna kick their butts. I'll break that big guy's nose..."

"Uh huh," I nodded, rolling my eyes. Jack did have a tendency to exaggerate a bit. Sure, I would have loved to beat them up, but I was realistic enough to know that they were all bigger and stronger than the two of us, even that woman. And that wasn't even mentioning their guns...

I frowned and went to the windows, tugging at the bars, though they seemed stuck in there pretty good. That just made me sigh, then wander around the room again, not really sure what I was looking for but looking again anyways.

When I had the empty closet open and was looking in it again, Jack came up beside me and kicked at it angrily. "Stupid room."

I paused as something seemed a little odd... There was something about the sound when Jack had kicked the back of the closet... I frowned and carefully knocked on the back wall.. It sounded hollow...

"Hey," I gasped as I hit it again even harder. It wasn't even a real solid wall either. It looked more like some sort of really thin board or something. "Hey Jack," I grinned excitedly, "Let's see if we can break through..."

Jack and I kicked at the wall and it began to break in. However, it was making a lot of noise so we stopped for the moment in fear that they would come bursting in and catch us. But that didn't stop me as I grabbed for one of the loose edges and began pulling, with Jack quickly joining me.

"It's coming loose," he exclaimed in delight. I had to shush him and remind him that we didn't want THEM to hear us.

Once we had made a hole, I could see through to the other side and realized that it was another close. Jack and I grinned at each other a bit before climbing on through to the other closet, and the room that it was a part of. A room that did NOT have bars on the windows.

"We've got to be quiet," Jack said, a bit unnecessarily and perhaps a bit louder than he should have.

Just a minute later though, we had the window open and slipped on out. We had escaped from the house, and now only had to get far enough away and call the police. I couldn't wait to watch the cops show up and arrest those jerks.

Jack and I were really careful as we made our way around the house, staying down low and hoping that all of the big bushes and stuff would keep them from seeing us. I was terrified, but felt a lot better to at least be doing something rather than just sitting still and waiting for them to do whatever it was that they were going to do.

"Just like hide and seek," I told Jack with a weak smile.

Suddenly, the woman came running out of the house yelling, "Shit shit shit..."

I immediately froze where I was then ducked down in the silent hopes that she wouldn't see me, while Jack did the same.

"What's wrong?" the male Igor demanded as he came up behind her.

"They escaped," the woman spat out furiously. "I just went to check on them and they got through a hole in the closet..." She looked around frantically, obviously trying to find us.

"How long ago?" the man demanded.

"No idea," she shook her head. "Damn..."

There was a moment of silence before the man slowly said, "We'll have someone watch the orphanage in case they return there... And I'll call Murphy and have him watch out in case they try to contact the police..."

"So we're going to have to call in help?" the woman asked not sounding pleased by that at all. "But how long before...?"

"I don't know," he scowled, pulling out his cell phone. "What I do know is that we have to abandon this safe house and start the search for them. We have to get them back unharmed..."

With that, the man went back inside while starting to talk to someone on the cell phone, while the woman went back to searching for us around the area. Fortunately, she started off moving away from us, so Jack and I took the opportunity to get further away from the house.

"Oh shit," Jack gasped once we were out of ear shot, "They're waiting for us to go back to the orphanage or call the cops... What are we gonna do?"

"I don't know," I gulped nervously, trying hard not to think about how afraid I was. "I guess we just try to hide for now..."

Since Jack and I didn't know where to go, we just hurried away from that house as fast as we could. All I knew for sure was that I...that we had to get as far away from those people as we could.

We went past some more broken down old houses, then a bunch of old shops and stores as we moved closer to the main part of the city. I didn't even have any idea where the orphanage was at, knowing only that Jack and I were completely and truly lost.

When Jack and I finally stopped, he stammered, "Maybe we can call the orphanage and have them pick us up..."

"But those guys said they were gonna watch the orphanage," I pointed out fearfully. If we went back, those guys might just grab us again. "But if we called the cops..."

"No way," Jack shook his head. "You've seen the movies... Those kind of people always have cops working for them... In fact, the main bad guy is probably the police chief or something."

I just nodded at that, remembering what they had said about someone called Murphy watching in case we went to the police. At the orphanage, they'd always said that if we're in trouble we should go to the cops, but Jack was right... Nearly every movie I'd ever seen said that was a bad idea.

Suddenly I gasped and bent over in pain... It felt like my guts were on fire.. And I felt so cold I was shivering... It had all hit me at once, without warning.

"What's wrong?" Jack asked in concern.

I just bent over and groaned loudly, shivering even more. And as I collapsed to my knees, it all started to go away, just as quickly as it had come.

"Ethan?" Jack asked fearfully, putting a hand on my shoulder.

For a moment I just remained where I was, taking deep breaths and feeling better...but confused. "I felt sick," I told him uncertainly as I got back to my feet, "But now I'm better..."

"I bet it was that shot," Jack told me, scowling deeply.

"Maybe," I frowned back, afraid that he was right.

After several minutes of just standing around, Jack and I decided to start walking again. We still didn't know where to go, at least not until we found a park. That seemed like an okay place to hang out for awhile. They had a bathroom, some bushes to hide in and even a guy who sold hot dogs. It had everything we'd need.

"Maybe we can stay here," Jack grinned at me excitedly, gesturing to a big cluster of trees and bushes. "We can build a tree house to live in and maybe go hunting for food... I'll bet we could do great..."

Somehow, I didn't think that Jack's idea was very realistic, but that didn't mean that I didn't like it. It sounded so cool. And it sounded kinda fun. However, I doubted that we'd be able to keep a tree house secret, and as for hunting...even if we knew how to hunt, I didn't think that there was much around to hunt except for squirrels and pigeons.

But since I didn't want to be left out of all the planning, I pointed out, "Maybe we should build an underground fort instead... I mean, if we dug our own cave or something, no one would be able to find us in it..."

"Sweet," Jack grinned.

With that, Jack and I continued with our 'plans', growing more and more outrageous and unrealistic with each one. It soon got to the point where we were even talking about inventing our own helicopter house and becoming super heroes or something.

Jack and I hung out around the park for hours, but by late afternoon, we were both getting pretty hungry. Unfortunately though, reality had begun to settle in. For the first time, there was no one there to make us dinner. Nor did we have any money to buy anything from the hot dog vendor.

Then things suddenly got worse. I saw THEM. It was the man who'd kidnapped us...the guy Igor, along with some other guy who was wearing a dark suit. And they were walking towards us.

"They're here," I cried out, perhaps a little too loud as one of them looked up at that and suddenly exclaimed, "They're here..."

"RUN," Jack yelled as he grabbed my arm, already in motion himself.

I didn't need any further prompting to run like hell. Jack started running off to one side, but I glanced towards the large cluster of trees and gasped, "In there..." Maybe we could lose them...

My heart raced as two grown man chased after us, though I didn't feel quite as afraid as I thought I should have. Perhaps it was because Jack and I had already been kidnapped and managed to escape from them, but I figured that it was probably because we had a good head start on them and I was confident that we could lose them in the trees.

I hadn't gone very far into the trees when it suddenly hit me again... My insides knotted up and I stumbled, hitting the ground and rolling up in pain. It was just like earlier, with my skin feeling icy cold while I felt like I was burning up in my guts at the same time. I had no way to really explain it, onto to gasp and groan.

But while I was on the ground, my head start had been taken away and it only took a few moments for the guy who'd first kidnapped me to catch up again. I had no idea where the other guy who had been with him was at, but figured that he was probably chasing Jack.

"It's all right," my kidnapper said as he stood above me, "I'm not going to hurt you..."

Of course I didn't believe a word of that with the fact that he'd kidnapped me once already at gunpoint and stood above me right then with a gun clearly visible in it's holster. In fact, he was responsible for my being sick as it was, so there was no way in hell that I was going to trust a word that he said.

The pain quickly began to recede, and though I couldn't do much, I was able to grab a hand full of dirt and then throw it straight into his face as he bent over me.

And just then, Jack suddenly jumped out of nowhere with a big stick in his hands, yelling, "I'll save you..." And with a loud crack, the stick hit the man in the face and knocked him backwards, but that wasn't enough for Jack who immediately started grabbing rocks and throwing them at him. "C'mon...hurry," he told me urgently.

"DAMN," the man groaned as he started getting back up, only to be hit in the head with another small rock.

Jack grabbed my arm and urged, "C'MON," pulling me to my feet.

Since the pain had already receded enough, I just grimaced against the rest of it and ran after Jack. Within a minute, we had completely left him behind and lost them...or at least I hoped that we had. But when we emerged out the other side of the trees a minute after that, we still didn't stop running.

After going about two blocks more, Jack and I were both too tired to keep running. I was breathing so hard that I was half afraid that my lungs were going to stop working. And it was all made worse by the fact that I was still terrified by those people chasing us.

"What if they come after us?" Jack gasped out between breaths. "We've gotta hide..."

I looked around frantically, trying to find any place that would work. Then I looked back in the direction that we had just come from and saw a truck that we had just passed a moment earlier. It was a pickup truck with a flat tire...and a camper shell on the back.

Without saying a word, I went back to the truck and nervously looked around, hoping that no one saw me. And to my delight, I found that the back of it was unlocked.

"We can hide in here," I exclaimed, already climbing inside.

Jack immediately followed me and after we closed the back up and got down as flat as we could so as not to be seen through the back window, we both let out a long sigh of relief. I was sure that they wouldn't find us there.

"What if the owner comes and wants to drive off?" Jack asked me in a quiet voice a minute later.

"It has a flat tire," I pointed out.

That satisfied Jack, and we remained where we were in silence for at least half an hour before we relaxed a little, sure that we had lost them again. But still...there was no reason to take any chances.

"Hey look," Jack finally grinned at me, "I took this from that guy we knocked down..."

With that, Jack held out a leather wallet, looking rather proud of himself. I took it from it and opened it up, smiling as I saw all the money inside. There were a bunch of twenty dollar bills and even a couple fifties. There was several hundred dollars in there.

Then we looked through the rest of the wallet. There were three different drivers licenses, each one giving a different name for that guy who'd been chasing us. The main one...the one in front so you could see it really easily said his name was Martin Jones.

However, after looking through the licenses and credit cards, my attention went right back to the money. I could tell that Jack was staring at it with the same thought that I had. We were both hungry and now we had money to buy food with.

Unfortunately though, Jack and I were both scared that they might find us...too scared to leave the relative safety of our hiding place. So with that, we settled in to where we would end up spending the night.

On the Run
part 2 of 6
By Morpheus

Jack and I had a somewhat uncomfortable, but relatively safe night as we hid in the back of the pickup truck. However, when morning came, we knew that we couldn't stay there any longer. The owner could come back at any time to fix the flat tire, and we didn't want to take the chance of him catching us.

And of course, there was the fact that we were both even more hungry than the night before. Now thanks to the wallet that Jack had 'found', we had enough money to buy breakfast and then some.

After we had stopped off at a 7-Eleven for something to eat, we wandered around, still not sure where to go. We didn't know the way back to the orphanage, and even if we did...those guys were looking for us there. So that was out of the question, just like calling the police.

"It's just us now," I told Jack with a long sigh. There was no one else that we could rely on...that we could trust except for each other.

While we were wandering around without a destination, I saw the white van...or at least I thought that it was there white van, and we had to duck down and hide before they could see us.

"Why are they after us?" Jack had demanded after the van had gone, "They look like the Men in Black or something..." Then his eyes got wide as he nervously asked, "You don't think they're aliens...do you?"

"No," I responded absently.

But Jack wasn't about to let the subject go just yet, "Maybe they are the Men in Black and they think that WE are aliens..."

I didn't say a word to that, though I did absently scratch at my arm as I glanced at Jack. My skin had been itchy off and on since the night before, though fortunately I'd only had one more of those periods where I got all sick and stuff...and that was right after waking up that morning.

"Maybe I should go to the doctor," I told Jack nervously, wondering if it was going to get even worse. Maybe I was getting really sick from whatever they'd given me in that shot, sick enough to die even. Maybe I was allergic to it. "Haven't you been sick at all?"

"No," Jack shook his head, "I feel fine..."

That didn't do much to comfort me since I was a bit envious of Jack feeling fine while I felt like shit. But that just reminded me of that saying about misery loving company. Then again, I was sort of glad that Jack was all right at the same time. I didn't really want him to get all sick and stuff like I was getting.

As we continued walking, we saw several more people who were wearing those dark suits and glasses, who looked sort of like the guys who'd been chasing us. Fortunately, since we knew what to look for, we were able to duck down and hide the moment we saw them.

Unfortunately, our luck didn't hold out forever. We had just been going to a store to buy some supplies at my suggestion, when suddenly a car slammed to a stop in front of us and a man immediately jumped out.

This newcomer didn't look at all like the rest of the guys who'd been after us... They had all been wearing dark suits and stuff, but this guy was wearing a pair of black leather pants and something sort of like an orange Hawaiian shirt. But the one thing that was very much like the other guys was that this one had a gun in his hand and it was pointed straight at us.

"You're the ones," he growled out, quickly glancing between Jack and me.

Then without another word, he pulled the trigger. Somehow, I had managed to jump to the side as soon as he started actually aiming it at me, so he'd missed. But I didn't think that I was going to get that lucky again and yelled, "RUN" to Jack.

Fortunately we were in a parking lot, because I was able to jump behind a car, even as he shot several holes into the other side of it. I gulped and ran behind another, keeping low and silently praying that he wouldn't hit either me or Jack.

"I thought they wanted us alive," Jack gasped in fear as he caught up with me.

"I guess they changed their minds," I whispered back.

"Fucking brats," the man yelled out.

Then he suddenly let out another burst of profanity as he was nearly hit by some car that was tearing around the corner. I glanced at Jack and gestured for him to move, taking advantage of this brief distraction. While the guy chasing us pointed his gun at the driver of the car that had almost hit him, me and Jack slipped off halfway across the parking lot, keeping real low too so that he wouldn't see us.

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Jack gulped, pale and in terror.

I clamped a hand over his mouth and whispered, "Quiet..."

Somehow, even though I was just as terrified as Jack was, I was able to stay a little calmer and kept him from going into panic mode like he was obviously about to do. Instead, I glared in the direction of the man chasing us, feeling fear...but also anger.

Of course the man didn't just give up after losing sight of us. He cursed as he slowly walked across the parking lot, trying to find us. Fortunately, there were a lot of cars to hide behind and he couldn't see us. Still, when he got closer, I gestured for Jack to stay quiet and not scream. He nodded his understanding, though the terror was visible in his eyes.

The two of us climbed under one of the cars and lay flat as the guy with the gun slowly walked right past our car. Then he stopped, just several feet in front of us. I had to put a hand over Jack's mouth to keep him silent.

My heard was racing with fear, fear that he would look down and see us...that we wouldn't even be able to run from where we were at. Losing that option was the price of being able to hide.

Just then, there was a loud noise, followed by cursing from the man. I looked out and saw a bus driving away from the nearby bus stop.

"Fuck," he spat, "Those brats hopped the bus on me..."

It was all that I could do not to let out a sigh of relief at that. He thought that we'd escaped by getting on the bus. Honestly though, I just wished that I'd actually seen the bus at the stop and had thought about that.

But instead of immediately running off, the man made a quick call on his cell phone. "I spotted the targets but they escaped on the city transit..." He paused for a moment, "Of course I'm going to chase them...then terminate them."

I gulped at that, my eyes going wide. It had already been obvious that he wanted to kill us when he started shooting, but now he was saying it out loud. That made it somehow seem even more real...as if the bullets weren't real enough. Now there was no way he could explain those away as mere 'warning shots'.

"Yeah," the man continued on the cell phone, "Two boys...twelve years old..." Then he went on to describe exactly what Jack and I were wearing.

Then before the man had even finished the conversation, he was already walking away from us, causing me to let out a long sigh of relief. He was obviously in a pretty big hurry to catch the bus that he thought we were on. A minute later, he was in his car and gone.

"Is he gone?" Jack asked hopefully.

"I think so," I responded slowly, though I wasn't completely sure.

Just to make sure, I remained where I was for another minute before slowly climbing out from under the car. I looked around nervously, trying to see any sign of that man or the car that he had been driving. But to my intense relief, there was none.

"He's gone," I told Jack, who climbed out from under the car as well.

"Thank God," Jack gulped, his voice shaking, "I thought we were dead... I can't believe he was shooting at us..."

I just nodded at that, feeling intensely relived that he was gone as well, not to mention confused. Those guys had made such a big deal about wanting us alive, and now they were trying to kill us. Maybe they were afraid of witnesses...

While I stood there, just being thankful for our lucky escape, I absently scratched at my arm and adjusted my clothes. They felt a bit uncomfortable...sort of tight. They hadn't been when I'd put them on, though I didn't give that much thought.

"I...I guess we showed him," Jack said, trying to put on a brave face to cover how afraid he had been a couple minutes earlier.

"We sure did," I gave him a weak smile.

It was then that I was hit with another wave of that pain...of the cramping and burning guts and cold shivering skin. Jack gasped and held me, keeping me from falling over and onto the ground.

"You're gonna be all right," Jack told me, the worry clear in his voice. "You've got to go see a doctor..."

But when the pain passed a minute later, I shook my head. "No doctors," I whispered to Jack. That was one thing that I was very sure of, though I couldn't say exactly why.

I stood took several deep breaths to help me regain my balance and tried to figure out what we were going to do next. We had come there to get some supplies, and I guessed we could still do that since the guy with the gun was gone. However, I figured that it would only be a matter of time before they found us again...

"Damn it," I shook in fear, then bit my lip and tried to think of what we could do to get away from those guys.

While I was thinking, or at least trying to, I silently scanned the area, my eyes picking up nearly every detail. Then I froze, my eyes going back to the pair of large metal dumpsters in the corner of the parking lot. They were clothing bins, places where people could drop off clothes that they were going to donate to charity. A lot of that kind of stuff ended up in the orphanage. In fact, the clothes I was currently wearing could have been in one of those bins at one time.

After a moment, I took a deep breath, then slowly told Jack, "I have an idea..."

"What?" Jack asked.

However, I was already walking towards the clothing bins, my eyes locked clothes that overflowed from the opening, and the several garbage bags of clothes which just sat in front of the too full bins. I stared at the bags in silence, feeling a bit uncomfortable with what I was planning but knowing that it was a good idea.

"They're looking for two boys with clothes like ours," I finally told Jack.

"So we change clothes?" Jack asked.

I shook my head, "Sorta... They're looking for two BOYS." I took a deep breath then blurted out, "But if we dress up like girls..."

Jack just stared at me as if I were crazy. "You're kidding..."

"No," I pointed out, "They're looking for boys, so I think we should disguise ourselves as girls..."

It was obvious that Jack didn't like my idea, but then again, I didn't particularly like it. However, as embarrassing as it might be to dress up in girl's clothes, I figured that it had to be a whole lot better than being shot. And after ten minutes of trying, I was able to convince Jack of that too.

We dug through the clothes, taking most of the loose bags and stuff behind the bin where we wouldn't be easily seen and could get some privacy. Then we began to really look through them.

By the time that we were done, Jack was wearing pair of white pants that were a little too large and a pink hooded sweat shirt with a picture of a big kitten all over the back. And with the red baseball cap that we'd added, he looked a lot like a girl...or at least a tomboy.

Since we only had a limited amount of clothes and it was my idea...I got stuck with the dress. It was a red dress with some white flowers on it that was a little too big for me. However, I was able to pull it up a bit and got it so it was workable. And a red scarf that I found went over my short hair and helped finish the image that I was a girl too.

"Man this is embarrassing," Jack complained. "I'll die if anyone at the orphanage sees me like this..."

"You'll die if those guys see you WITHOUT it," I pointed out, which quieted him down a bit. And then I added, "And how do you think I feel? At least you get to still wear pants..."

I looked down at myself, a bit embarrassed by the clothes but satisfied that I'd probably pass for a girl from a bit of a distance. Of course, we could probably improve our costumes a little better...

"It's just a disguise," I muttered, as much to myself as to Jack. "It's like a Halloween costume..."

"Now what?" Jack grumbled, looking more like he was pouting.

I shrugged, then pointed to the store, "We finish getting our stuff..."

Walking through the store all dressed up like a girl was REALLY embarrassing. There was one woman who gave us both a really odd look, though most of the people didn't pay enough attention to us to notice that we weren't really girls. That was something of a thrill...and a relief since it meant our costumes were working.

The first thing that I did was go to the sporting goods section to pick up a backpack to hold the other stuff in. Them I grabbed a swiss army knife because I thought that might be useful, and a couple other small things.

However, when we went to the food section a couple minutes later, things got a little more complicated. Jack kept grabbing for all the chips and pop, and even though I wanted that stuff too, I figured we should get some more regular food instead.

Then came the toy section... Jack exclaimed, "Cool, I want one of these... And one of these..." He grinned at me, "Now that we're rich, we can buy anything..."

"We're not rich," I pointed out, realizing that maybe a couple hundred dollars might not be quite as much as it had seemed at first. "And besides," I pointed out, "We're not gonna be able to carry that stuff around... And how would we even plug a video game in? We're not at the orphanage..."

It took some convincing, but I managed to talk Jack out of all the toys that he had been interested in, though I had to ignore a few that I really wanted to buy too... That was really hard since I finally had the money to buy that cool new Spybot Man action figure, but I couldn't do it.

It didn't take long before I was really tired of walking around the store, and not just because of all the cool stuff that we couldn't let ourselves buy. But unfortunately, my feet were beginning to hurt... My shoes felt so tight. I guess it was that growth spurt thing again. As much as I hated having to spend money on brand new shoes, I figured that I'd better if I was going to keep walking so much.

On the way to the checkout, I decided to grab just one more thing. I picked up a little bit of makeup, thinking as soon as I saw it that it would really help with our costumes.

"C'mon," I told Jack after I'd paid for everything, gesturing to the customer restrooms that were at the front of the store. "I wanna check out how I look..."

"Sure," Jack grumbled, but as I started for the boys restroom, he reminded me, "Um...we look like girls..."

I blushed at that, "Oh yeah..."

After we had gone inside and made sure that there was no one there, I paused for a moment, feeling really embarrassed. I'd never been in a girls restroom before and it just felt wrong... I had a feeling as though someone were going to come in at any moment and start yelling at me and calling me a weirdo or something.

"Let's see," I reminded myself, going for the makeup that I'd just bought.

"You're not thinking...?" Jack gasped in horror.

"It's like Halloween face paint," I told him with a scowl. "Now stand still and let me put it on you..."

I was really careful while putting the makeup on Jack's face, trying to keep it light enough so that it wouldn't really be noticeable. And when I was finished, I was satisfied that he definitely looked a lot more like a girl.

"Holy shit," Jack exclaimed as he moved to the bathroom mirror and stared at himself. "I do look like a girl..."

But as Jack reached up to touch his face, I warned him, "Don't touch it... You'll mess it up..."

With a nod, Jack just continued to stare at himself, finally asking, "Where'd you learn to put that stuff on so good?"

I just shrugged, "I watched a couple girls at the orphanage playing around with it..." Then at Jack's look of surprise, I blushed, "I was bored..."

It was only then that I turned to really look at myself in the mirror, pausing a moment to blink in surprise. I definitely looked different, and that was without any makeup yet. Even my hair looked darker, though I figured that had to be because it was so dirty. I probably needed a haircut too as it was a little longer than I'd realized.

"I guess it's my turn," I sighed, using the water and paper towels to wash my face and dry it before beginning.

Putting makeup on myself proved to be a bit more difficult than putting it on Jack since I couldn't really see what I was doing other than in the mirror. I grimaced the whole time, feeling pretty embarrassed, but when I was finished, I had to admit that it definitely made me look a lot more like a girl too.

"Ugh," Jack grimaced, "If I didn't know better, I'd think you really were a girl..."

"That's the point," I grumbled with a mixture of pride in my costume and embarrassment.

Since Jack and I were both about as ready as we could be, we left the store and hurried on, deciding that it might be a good idea to get away from there before the guys who were chasing us realized we weren't ever on the bus and came back. I just wished that I'd thought of that earlier rather than hanging around for so long.

Once we were a good ways from the store, we both relaxed a bit, though I was still pretty nervous. And it didn't help when an hour or so later, we saw the white van again...with that Martin guy who's wallet we had in the passenger seat. I gulped at the sight and shook with fear that they would recognize us.

"It's them," Jack squeaked out.

However, the instant that he did, I quickly grabbed his arm and ordered, "Don't run... Don't even look at them..."

I knew that doing either of those things would get their attention, when the smartest thing would be to hope that our costumes worked. Still, I crossed my fingers for luck and finally let out a breath of relief once they'd gone.

"They didn't see us," Jack gasped in obvious relief.

I just nodded in agreement as that had been the whole idea of wearing those stupid girly costumes. And the fact that they'd worked actually made me feel a whole lot less embarrassed about wearing a dress.

After this, Jack and I just wandered around for a bit, and sat around since we were both kind of tired of walking. It was worse since we didn't even know where we could walk to. We pretty much did this for the rest of the day since we didn't have anywhere to go or anything to do, or least anything other than hiding from those guys.

It was pretty late in the afternoon and the two of us had ended up hanging around the bus station. There were a few other kids around there too...though they were a few years older than us and I think that they were homeless. Then again, I guessed that we were too now.

As I looked around those older kids, I suddenly realized that we were going to have to start thinking about what we were going to do for a place to sleep. It wasn't something that either of us had really had to think about before then. Sleeping in the back of that truck the night before had worked pretty good, but it had been kinda uncomfortable and I didn't think that we'd be able to do that again. Then again, I knew that we might have to.

"What are we gonna do?" Jack asked me with the worry clear in his voice. "I mean, we can't go back..." He was beginning to cry, though he tried acting like he wasn't. I knew exactly how he felt.

"I don't know," I whispered in response.

We stood there in silence for a couple minutes, as if waiting for an answer to just drop in our laps, though none came to me. I couldn't think of a thing, except maybe finding another empty truck or something. Maybe we could find an empty car and sleep in the back seat.

But as the two of just stood there, Jack started to look at me with an odd expression. He stared at me, then finally announced, "You look different..."

"Well duh," I rolled my eyes. "I am wearing a costume..."

"No," Jack said slowly, a look of concentration on his face, "It's something else..." Then he abruptly gasped, "You look taller..."

For a moment, I was about to tell Jack that he was being silly, but then I looked at him and had to suddenly think twice. We were standing face to face, and I had to look down a little bit to see his eyes. We'd always been about eye level before...with him being maybe a tiny bit taller than me.

"What?" I blinked, looking down at our feet and seeing that we were standing on even ground and we were both wearing sneakers. I looked back into Jack's face, but there was no doubt. I was taller than him. "Well," I said slowly, feeling a bit confused, "That is a bit weird..."

Jack nodded as he stared at me again, "Yeah, but you still look different..."

I just frowned, not wanting to think about anything like that. It was just too weird... Besides, I was just having a growing spurt was all. Anything else was just my costume and Jack's imagination. They people at the orphanage always said he had an active one.

"So where are we gonna sleep tonight?" Jack asked a few minutes late, sounding pretty worried about that once again. I didn't blame him since I was worried about it too.

"I don't know," I repeated the same answer that I'd given him before.

"Maybe we should go back to the orphanage," Jack whispered, giving me a look as if hoping that I'd say yes.

But as I was sure Jack expected, I shook my head. "You know THEY'LL be there."

"I know," he sighed. "But where are we gonna sleep?"

Suddenly a new voice intruded from behind us. "I couldn't avoid hearing you young ladies saying that you needed a place to stay..."

I jumped and that and turned around, seeing a tall man. He was Hispanic I guessed, with long hair pulled back and a bit of a goatee. His clothes were kind of weird though. They were kind of bright colors and reminded me a little bit of a clown's costume.

"So you two young ladies ran away from an orphanage," he continued with a sympathetic smile. "It must have been a horrible place..."

"Um...sort of," Jack mumbled.

The strange man just smiled more, though something seemed a little wrong with it. "I was just thinking that I might be able to help you two..."

"You can?" I asked cautiously.

"Sure," he grinned at us, "I can give you a place to stay and a couple jobs...just perfect for a couple grown-up ladies like you. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"A place to stay?" Jack started to grin, "Really?"

However, something seemed REALLY wrong about this guy, and the whole situation. I quickly grabbed Jack's wrist and said, "Thanks, but we're not interested..."

"But," Jack started to protest, going silent at my glare.

"Thanks anyway," I smiled at the strange man and pulled Jack away.

"What's you do that for?" Jack demanded, obviously annoyed. "We could have had a place to stay."

"I don't know," I told him with a scowl, "But he was up to something and I know it wasn't anything good..."

Jack continued to complain, but a moment later a girl came up to us. She looked about 15 or so, with dark blonde hair that was mostly hidden under a stocking cap. The older girl was also wearing mostly boy clothes, and kind of old looking ones at that.

"Good thing you didn't go with that sleezebag," the girl told us, gesturing to the man who was giving almost the exact same speech that he'd given us to some 16 year old girl who seemed to have run away too.

"Yeah," I smiled weakly, "I didn't trust him..."

"Good thing," she shrugged, "Miguel likes getting girls hooked and then having them do tricks..."

"Um...okay," I nodded, not sure exactly what she meant but having a bit of an idea, and that idea was not a good one.

"I'm Carrie," the girl introduced herself. Then she gestured to Jack, "Is she your little sister?"

"Little sister?" Jack started in surprise.

"No," I quickly told Carrie, "We're just good friends."

"Well anyway," Carrie continued, "I know a place you can stay." Then she smirked, "And no tricks..."

I hesitated a moment and Jack took the opportunity to exclaim, "Sure..." And after I nodded my agreement, the three of us were off.

On the Run
part 3 of 6
By Morpheus

I felt a little nervous as our new friend Carrie led us down the street and into an alley. I gulped, feeling even more nervous at the sight of the dark alley, but Carrie gave us a reassuring smile and went in first. Jack didn't even hesitate before going after her, so I followed as well.

Carrie went around a dumpster and gestured to some stairs that went down to a door. "A bunch of us runaways crash in the basement..."

And with that, she nearly ran down the stairs and threw open the door, vanishing inside. Jack and I both gave each other a nervous look before going down after her.

The basement was decent sized, though a little smaller than I might have expected. It was also a bit darker than I would have expected, with most of the light coming from several small windows that were up high and opened on to street level. I also saw a coleman lantern sitting in the middle of the room, though it wasn't turned on just yet. With how close it was to sunset, I didn't think that it would be long before it was on.

Of course, the basement wasn't empty either. There were about a dozen kids sitting around, the youngest one being about my age, while the oldest one was about 17. And from the sleeping bags and blankets that were spread out on the floor, it was pretty obvious, even without what Carrie had told us, that they had been staying there.

"We've been crashing here for a month or so," Carrie announced. "Good thing no one's found us down here yet..."

"Cool," Jack grinned.

I grinned back as well, though a little more nervously. "Yeah." Not only would it be a place where we could sleep, but I was pretty sure that those guys who were chasing us wouldn't be able to find us there.

After this, Carrie introduced us to a few of the people, though I didn't really pay much attention to their names. Some of them were pretty strange and I was sure that a couple of them were on drugs or something. But most of the kids in the basement seemed to be all right.

However, when Jack started to talk to one boy, I had to whisper in his ear, "Remember...you're a girl."

Jack glared at me, then gave an understanding nod. I noticed that he did start to act a little more girly again after that, which made me smile. I just wondered how girly I was looking. It would definitely be nice though when we didn't have to wear those stupid costumes anymore.

While Jack was busy making friends, I just sat back by myself, scratching a bit since my skin was still itching. However, now it was itching even more around my chest...and feeling kind of funny there too. And when I poked at my chest, it felt sort of fat and swollen under my dress.

However, I glanced around nervously, feeling a bit embarrassed as I remembered that I was supposed to look like a girl and it would be kind of funny looking for a girl to be poking at her chest like that. With a grimace, I clenched my hands and tried not to think about the itching.

"How long have you been on the street?" Carrie asked as she came back over to me and sat down.

I shrugged, "A couple days..."

"Why'd you leave home?" she asked me, then quickly added, "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to... I had problems with my step dad." She grimaced at that, "He liked me too much and I was afraid of what might happen if I stayed..."

Since Carrie was so honest with me, I felt kinda bad for having to lie to her. "We didn't have any choice," I told her, deciding that this wasn't really a lie.

Carrie looked like she wanted to ask me more but realized that I didn't want to talk about it. So she just nodded, "Okay..."

We sat there for a bit longer and talked, though Carrie did most of the talking. She talked about how bad it was getting at her house and what it was like for her after she'd run away. She told me about 'tricks' that she and other homeless kids used to get food and money, as well as other things that just seemed to come at random.

I listened and did a lot of nodding, thinking that as much as I disliked the idea, some of that stuff could come in really useful. After all, I couldn't go back to the orphanage and had nowhere else to go, so that made Jack and me homeless too.

After awhile, I noticed a rough looking 17 year old boy talking to another boy just a bit younger. The younger boy was handing the older one something small, and the older one was giving him some money. I stared a little more carefully and realized that the young boy had given him a credit card.

"I'll try to find more credit cards for you tomorrow," the younger boy said as he eagerly stuffed the money into his pocket.

"Hmmm," I smiled thoughtfully, deciding that this might be good for me. I cautiously went over to the older boy and said, "Um...I saw you buying a credit card from him..."

"That's none of yer business," he growled back at me, obviously not interested in talking.

However, I decided to make him interested by holding up two credit cards that I'd taken out of the wallet Jack had swiped. The older boy's eyes immediately went to them and then to me.

"Will you buy these ones?" I asked, seeing the look on his face.

The boy frowned, "Depends. How old are they?" At my blank look, he sighed, "When did you swipe em?"

"Today," I lied, "About lunch time..."

"Kinda old," the boy frowned, staring at the credit cards. "Might of have been canceled already..." Then he sighed again, "I'll give ya twenty bucks each..."

For a moment, I thought about mentioning that there was still one or two more credit cards in the wallet where they had come from, but I thought that might be a bit much. Instead I nodded my agreement and gave him the cards, smiling as I took the money in return.

When I went back to where I'd been sitting, Jack sat down next to me and asked, "What were you doing?"

"Making some money," I told him with a smug grin.

Jack blinked, "Huh...? How?"

"Nevermind," I grinned at him.

A minute later, I noticed that Jack was staring at me again, and at my asking him why, he told me, "You look...weird." He shook his head. "I don't know. I guess everything is getting weird."

"I know what you mean," I sighed.

With that, I curled up in one of the blankets that some of the others had lend Jack and I for the night. The floor was hard, though still a bit more comfortable than the back of the truck. And with a nervous scratch of my itchy...and swollen chest, I let myself drift off sleep.

--------------------

I woke up a little late in the morning, or at least I assumed that it was late as most of the other kids in the basement were already gone. They had probably gone out to beg or steal, which seemed to be how most of them survived. I was just a little surprised that so many of them had gotten up and left without my having even heard them.

After a minute of just silently looking around, I scratched at my chest again. It was still itching a bit. But when I scratched at it, I paused, gulping as I realized that my chest was bigger. It stuck out further than it should and felt really weird.

"Oh man," I gulped, suddenly feeling quite confused and afraid.

Though I had no idea what was wrong with me, I knew that it had to be that weird shot that those people had given me. I was allergic to it or something. That was the only thing that I could think of that really made any sense. They'd given Jack the same shot, but he was fine while I kept feeling sick.

"Just great, "I grumbled, deciding not to think about it anymore. And with that, I shook Jack, "Wake up..."

"Huh," he groaned as he sat up.

"Time for breakfast," I told him, reaching into my backpack for some of the of the food that we'd bought the day before. However, I immediately noticed that about half our food supply was gone. Obviously someone else in the basement had decided to help themselves while we were asleep.

With a sigh, I began pulling out some breakfast bars, those boring nutritional things that I'd gotten because I figured they would be easy to carry and could last awhile. They tasted horrible, but at least they wouldn't smoosh all over or anything.

However, while I was handing Jack his breakfast bars, I noticed that he was staring at me. There was a strange expression on his face too.

"What is it?" I demanded.

Jack hesitated a moment, then gulped, "You look weird... I mean...weirder." He took a deep breath before slowly telling me, "You look older...more like a girl..."

"You...you're imagining things," I gulped out, more than half afraid that he was right. That shot was doing something to me, and I didn't want to think about what... "You're just wrong..."

"But...," Jack started to respond.

I turned away from him though, not wanting to hear anything about it. I grimaced and began eating my own breakfast. It wasn't nearly as good as Captain Crunch...or even that oat meal they liked giving us in the orphanage, but it was a breakfast.

After this, I got up to go to the bathroom, thankful that they had one in the basement...even if it was all dirty and gross. I didn't think that anyone ever cleaned it at all...even with all the kids who were there using it. Really gross...but if you've got to go..."

I hadn't even gotten to the bathroom on the other side of the basement though when someone stepped in front of my way. It took me a moment to recognize him as the same boy that I'd sold the credit cards to the night before. And from the way he was looking at me, it was pretty obvious that his getting in my way wasn't an accident.

"Hey girl, I didn't get your name last night," the boy said, smirking as he looked me over. For some reason, he kept staring at my chest.

"None of your business," I told him, moving to step around him so that I could go to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, it didn't look like he was going to let me go that easily. "It is my business," he gave me a smug look as he stepped sideways to get into my way again. "I like to know who I do business with..." But again, his eyes went to my chest...

"Just leave me alone," I growled, tensing up.

"I just want to get to know you better," he told me, "A pretty girl like you..."

And with that, the boy grabbed my arm. I didn't even think about it as I instinctively shifted my position, twisting until I had his wrist in my hand, which was followed by a loud crack. It had all happened so fast that I was barely aware of what I'd done, only that the boy was howling in pain and clutching his wrist.

"I told you to leave me alone," I said, not sure of what else I could say.

"My God," Jack gasped as he rushed up next to me, "How'd you do that?"

"I..." I blinked, "I don't know."

Then Jack grinned excitedly, "Well it was kind of cool. You should have done that when Megan Kelly went and beat you up..."

I grimaced at the reminder of how I'd once gotten beat up by a girl. Sure, she was two years older than me and a lot bigger, but she was a girl, and it had taken me a long time to live that down.

"Um...yeah," I muttered, still not sure exactly what it was that I did do.

Since the boy that had been blocking my way no longer seemed interested in me, and was in fact quickly on his way out of the basement, I decided to finish what I'd started trying to do in the first place. Namely, going to the bathroom.

I went into the bathroom and grimaced, wincing at the smell. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I couldn't see everything in a lot of detail as the light bulb was kind of dull and flickering a bit. Still, it was enough light for me to do what I had to do.

But while I was taking a leak, I couldn't help noticing something that made me feel very uncomfortable. My weenie...my penis was smaller... And my nuts were...they were gone. It was all flat underneath.

"Oh man," I whispered, gulping and wondering if maybe I should go to the hospital after all. Whatever was happening, there was no doubt that it was something very wrong. But at the same time, I was pretty sure that there was nothing the doctors could do about it.

Then I poked at my chest again, a bit confused by the way it stuck out. I took off my dress enough to see my chest a bit better and was startled to see that I had two big bumps pushing out. But what was even scarier was the fact that they looked an awful lot like the boobs that some of the older girls in the orphanage had...though I'd only seen one of those girls without her shirt on, and that was completely by accident.

"No way," I gasped, poking at my chest again, feeling a strange mixture of curiosity and confusion. Even my nipples looked a bit bigger.

I stood there for nearly a minute, not sure what to do or what to even think about what was happening to me. I didn't even know what it was that was happening to me. It was only then that I looked up into the mirror and saw another surprise.

With a nervous gulp, I whispered, "My face..."

Somehow, I barely even recognized the reflection that stared back at me. It wasn't the face of a 12 year old boy. In fact, I looked more like a 16 year old girl than a boy of any type. And my hair... My hair had become darker...a real dark brown, and now it was down to my shoulders. I didn't even need a scarf to cover it up anymore. It looked enough like a girl's hair as it was.

"I look like a girl," I said aloud, my voice shaking a bit.

Was that what was happening to me? Was I turning into a girl? As strange as the idea seemed, with everything that I was seeing, that was what it looked like.

"Maybe they shot me full of cooties," I thought aloud. If that was what was in the shot they'd given me, then that would certainly explain how I was changing. "But why isn't Jack changing into a girl too...?"

Of course, the answer was obvious. He must have been given a cooties vaccine before he'd come to the orphanage. I'd always heard that being given a shot full of vaccine would make it so you wouldn't catch that disease. Or maybe Jack was just immune from it. I just wished that I was.

After several more minutes, I finally shook myself out of it a bit and washed my face. The girlness didn't wash off, not that I'd expected it to. It was really strange looking into the mirror and seeing a girl who was years older than I was. But after the last couple of days, I had kind of gotten used to strange things happening.

I let out a sigh and washed my face off, deciding that I didn't really even need to bother with the makeup any more since I looked so much like a girl without it. Well, I might be able to use it to make myself look younger...closer to my own age. But then again, I couldn't help thinking that if I looked even older, that might make my disguise work even better.

When I left the bathroom a minute later, I was still pretty confused about what was happening to me, but determined not to let it get me down. In fact, as I thought about it, I was a little surprised to realize that I didn't feel worse about turning into a girl.

"I guess it's better than being killed," I muttered as I thought about the guy who'd trying shooting us the day before.

With that, I decided to put my attention back to making sure that we didn't get killed. I went to Jack and helped him get his makeup on again, even though he grumbled and complained the entire time. Then I suggested we leave the basement.

"It's getting kind of cramped in here," I told Jack, thankful for the safety that the basement had offered the night before but feeling a bit uncomfortable with all those other kids who'd been hanging around.

"So where are we going?" Jack asked after we'd started walking down the street.

I thought about it for a moment, not having had much of a destination in mind. "How about breakfast?" I shuddered, "I want something better than those nasty breakfast bars..."

Jack grinned, "Sounds good to me..."

Once Jack and I had both found something to eat at a 7-Eleven, we wandered around a bit, though both of us still had sore feet from the day before. Still, it was better than just sitting around that basement all day and it kept us from getting bored.

As we walked, I couldn't help but notice that the dress I was wearing fit me a lot better than it had the day before. It was a little embarrassing, especially since I was even beginning to fill it out up top. Or at least fill it out a little more.

Jack kept staring at me, though he would try and pretend that he wasn't. I couldn't help noticing that he looked just a little shorter to me as well. It was obvious that I was still changing...and growing taller. Though the other changes were a bit embarrassing, that part secretly made me kind of happy.

Finally though, with the way that Jack kept looking at me, and the obvious curiosity in his face, I was forced to tell him what was happening to me and what I'd figured out. He'd already guessed that I was changing into a girl, though I think he was too embarrassed to say anything about it.

"You just keep looking weirder," Jack pointed out, "More...girly."

"Gee, thanks," I rolled my eyes.

"Well you do," Jack kept pushing at it, "You even sound like a girl now..."

I paused to glare at him, "Well you got that shot too so maybe you'll start turning into a girl too..." That got Jack to quiet up real quick.

Around lunch time, or a bit afterwards, Jack and I were hanging around this small park that we'd found. It wasn't nearly as big as the one that we'd been at a couple days earlier, but at least it wasn't completely boring.

Jack was busy playing on the merry-go-round with a couple other kids, while I just sat on the bench and watched. I kind of wished that I could be playing with them, but I looked like a 16...or was that 17 year old girl at the moment and Jack thought it would look funny for me to be on the merry-go-round. And sadly, I had to agree.

"It's not fair," I complained to no one in particular. Then I paused to giggle at that. After being kidnapped, given a shot, being chased, shot at and being turned into a girl...I was upset over not being able to play on the playground.

Since I wasn't able to really play like I wanted to, I twiddled my thumbs for a bit, then decided to go to the bathroom. I glanced at Jack, then went off to the small bathroom that they'd set up at the park.

While relieving myself, I was disgusted to discover that my equipment was even smaller. In fact, it was so small that I actually had to sit down on the toilet like a girl. That was a grim reminder that before long, I might actually BE a girl.

My boy equipment might have shrunk even more, but my girl stuff had gotten even bigger. I felt the boobs that I now had on my chest, hardly able to believe how big they were. It was kind of strange...but they didn't feel nearly as weird on me as I would have thought. In fact, most of the time I hadn't really even noticed that I was growing them.

"Weird," I muttered, "Very weird..." Or maybe it was just weird that it didn't feel that weird. Just thinking about that was enough to get me confused.

When I went back to Jack a few minutes later, I was horrified to see the same man who had been shooting at the two of us the day before. However, I was even more horrified to see that he had Jack pressed up against a tree.

"Oh shit," I gasped, immediately running to help Jack...though I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

As I got closer, I noticed the pink sweater and the hat which were on the ground by the merry-go-round... And with his face dirty and smeared from playing, he didn't look a bit like a girl. His whole disguise was gone... But that wasn't important at the moment.

"Where's the other one?" the man demanded of Jack.

"Right here," I snapped as I punched the man in the side of the neck.

The man gasped and staggered to the side, while I yanked Jack away from the tree. But before we could move, the man had recovered and threw a punch towards my face. Without even thinking about it, I blocked it with my arm, then punched him in the solar plexus... He fell backwards with a gasp, but was still able to pull his gun.

"Bitch," the man snarled.

Jack screamed, "ETHAN!"

But I was already moving on instinct, my foot swinging out and kicking the gun from his hand right before I threw myself forward, slamming my fist into his exposed throat as hard as I could. He let out a strange gurgle as he collapsed to the ground, curling up as he grabbed his neck.

"What'd you do?" Jack gasped in shock.

I was just as surprised at what I'd just done as he was, but it seemed to be working good for me so far so I wasn't about to question it. Especially not when I saw another man running towards us with a gun drawn.

Even as the newcomer fired his first shot, I was already moving, driven entirely on instinct. With a single motion, I shoved Jack to the ground, using the very same movement to push myself back, where I hit the ground, snatched up the gun that the first man had dropped and fired two shots.

There was a scream from our attacker as he was thrown back from the bullet which tore through his shoulder, causing him to drop the gun...and as the second bullet went through his knee cap, which immediately dropped him to the ground.

I was still on automatic, running on some strange new instinct which I didn't understand. With a single glance, I took in everything around us...from the people who were running away in screams, to the tattoo on the arm of the man that I'd just shot. It was a snake tattoo...identical to one on the arm of the first man I'd taken down.

And there was one more thing that I noticed...a running car just a short distance away. The very same car that our first attacker had been driving when he'd come after us the day before.

"Come on," I tugged on Jack's arm, already running towards the car.

"You shot him," Jack gasped out in shock and disbelief as we reached the car. He was staring at me as though I were some sort of stranger. "You...you shot him..."

"And now I'm stealing his car," I snapped impatiently as I slid behind the drivers seat, "Now get in..."

As soon as Jack was inside, and even before he'd finished closing the door, I was already tearing off in the car. I set the gun that I'd still been holding down on the seat beside me, focusing on the road and getting as far away as I could.

"You're driving?" Jack gasped after a minute, staring at me with his mouth open, "But...but you can't drive..." His eyes went even wider, "Where'd you learn to drive?"

"I don't know," I grimaced, not knowing where all this had suddenly come from, but feeling very thankful that it had come. It had saved my life...it has saved BOTH our lives.

After another minute, I glared over at Jack, "You took off your disguise..."

"I..," he cringed down, looking ashamed, "I was hot with it on..."

Though I wanted to yell at Jack, to tell him how stupid it was to take off his costume when we were still trying to hide. However, it was pretty obvious that he knew this already. He'd seen the consequences of his slip-up first hand.

"Maybe they would have found us anyway," I sighed after a few more minutes of tense silence, knowing that I couldn't stay pissed at Jack. The two of us were in this...whatever THIS was together.

There was another period of silence as I just focused on driving, while Jack just sat there with a thoughtful...and somewhat fearful expression on his face. Finally, he asked, "Where are we going?"

"I don't know," I repeated the answer which I had been giving far too often lately. "Just as long as it's away from here..."

On the Run
part 4 of 6
By Morpheus

Jack and I were both silent as we drove down the freeway in our stolen car, getting as far away from the people chasing us as possible. I tried to just focus on the driving, though I couldn't help but keep thinking of all the questions that kept coming up. I was getting tired of running away from these people who were chasing us, and even more tired by all these mysteries.

There were so many mysteries...so many unanswered questions. I had no idea why Jack and I had been kidnapped by these people, nor any idea who they even were. I didn't know what was in the shot that they'd given us, why I was changing into a girl, as well as countless other things such as how come I was able to beat up those guys and drive a car when I'd never driven before.

"Too many questions," I whispered to myself.

We had been driving for nearly an hour when Jack abruptly exclaimed, "Hey, look at this..." He held up an envelope that he'd just taken from under the front seat and stared inside, blurting out, "We're RICH!"

"What?" I glanced over, seeing that the envelope Jack was holding was filled with money. And from my quick glance, it seemed to be mostly hundred dollar bills. "Wow," I gasped, my eyes going wide, though I had to force them back to the road. "How much is there?"

Jack flipped through the money as he counted it, finally announcing, "There's three thousand bucks in here..." He grinned broadly as he repeated, "See...I told you we were rich."

"Nice," I grinned, feeling a surge of hope. Now we'd not only gotten away from those guys, but we had money too.

A moment later, Jack pulled out a folder that he'd found under the seat with the envelope and started to look through it. However, he almost immediately let out a loud gasp. Then he held it up for me to see.

I took my eyes from the road and glanced at it for a moment, letting out a gasp myself as I saw that there were several black and white pictures of me and Jack. They were pictures of us being pulled out of the white van and taken into that house when we were first captured. But the pictures looked like they'd been taken from across the street...

"Oh shit," I gulped, snapping my attention back to the road as I nearly hit another car. I grimaced, thinking that I definitely didn't want to crash because I was looking at something else.

However, I still couldn't stop thinking about those pictures... If they'd wanted to take pictures of us after kidnapping us, why take them from across the street from where we were? Why not just take them up close once we were inside the house? Those were just more questions to be added to my list of unanswered ones.

"These guys are serious," Jack whispered, his voice shaking a bit. "I've see a lot of movies and these kind of guys always work for some big bad guy..." Then he looked at me with an almost pleading expression, "How do we get to the main villain?"

"I don't think we do," I grimaced, giving Jack a quick glance, "This isn't the movies..."

"I know," he responded quietly a minute later. "I wish it was though cuz the good guys always win..."

After a minute, Jack asked, "So what are we gonna do now?" He held up the money, "We've got money and can buy stuff now..."

"Good point," I nodded, having thought about that a little bit myself. "I'm tired of running..." Then giving Jack another quick glance, "I think we should find some place where we can stop and rest..." And I was thinking of some place a little better than a basement.

However, in spite of our wanting to stop, we both knew that it wasn't that easy. It was another hour before I decided that we'd finally put enough distance between us and those guys chasing us for us to finally stop.

We ended up at a cheap motel, which I figured would work. And as I glanced down at my new older looking body, I was actually thankful for it for once. After all, a kid couldn't just go in and rent a motel room...but I didn't really look like a kid anymore.

Fortunately, there wasn't any real problem with my renting a room. All that I had to do was pay the guy in front in cash, and he seemed perfectly happy to give me a key. Several minutes later, Jack and I had our temporary home.

But almost as soon as Jack and I were in the room, I looked at him and myself, realizing that we needed more than just a place to sleep for awhile. "We definitely need some new clothes," I pointed out, grimacing at the dress that I was still wearing, in spite of the fact that it had become pretty tight and uncomfortable.

"No more girl clothes," Jack insisted, and from the look on his face I didn't think that this was up for negotiation.

I held out my hand, "Deal." And after we shook on it, we rushed out to the store that I'd seen just down the street a bit.

Jack and I spent more time in the store than I'd ever spent in any store in my life. But I guess we needed a lot of stuff, and now we actually had the money to buy it all. Jack was pretty happy with his new clothes, but I wasn't quite as happy with what I had to get. After all, I couldn't exactly wear boy's clothes anymore and had to get girl's clothes.

I was kind of thankful that I was able to get jeans and T-shirts that would fit me, and some more new shoes. The one's that I'd bought the day before were already too tight and pinching...which was kind of funny because they'd been a bit loose when I'd bought them.

The worst part about my clothes though as the underwear...or specifically, the bras. Though Jack teased me about grabbing a couple bras, something told me that I would need them now that I was turning into a girl. I couldn't explain exactly what that something was though any more than I could explain how come I knew how to drive.

When we left the store awhile later, Jack and I both had a few pairs of new clothes, as well as a bunch of other stuff that I thought we'd need. And it was a lot easier to get everything too since we not only had a LOT more money, but we didn't have to carry it around in a backpack.

Almost as soon as we stepped back into the motel room, I called out, "Dibs on the bathroom..."

And before Jack could argue, I grabbed what I'd need and ran inside, locking the door behind me. Then I wasted no time in taking off my clothes, glad to get rid of them since they were too tight and uncomfortable.

"Finally," I let out a sigh.

Then I turned to myself in the bathroom mirror and let out a faint gasp. I had changed more and now looked like I was 18 or so. But more than that, everything about me had changed and looked girly. There was nothing at all of Ethan in the mirror...just the face of a stranger. A stranger who somehow seemed very familiar looking though.

It was strange, seeing a pretty girl where my own face should be. Even my eyes had changed, being a gray color now instead of their previous light brown. My hair had gotten a little longer and a little darker. It was almost black down.

Though I wasn't an expert like some of the older boys at the orphanage, I thought that my body was pretty nice looking too... I was sort of slender and athletic, but was still a bit curvy. As I'd learned in the store a little earlier, my boobs were now a large B cup, and somehow I was sure that they wouldn't get much larger than that at all.

Once I had finished looking myself over, I shook my head, confused by just how easily I was taking all of that. I didn't even feel all weird and stuff like I would have thought having breasts and everything. Somehow, even with as much as my body had changed, I still felt almost...normal.

With a blink and a shake of my head, I turned away from the mirror and gave my attention to the main reason that I had come in. The bath tub. It had been several days since I'd taken a shower, and I figured that I really REALLY needed one.

As I settled into the bath water, I felt really good, better than I had since the whole mess that Jack and I were in had started. I closed my eyes and just soaked there for long time before I finally got around to actually using some of the shampoo and soap that I'd bought to wash up.

"Hmmm," I mused as I ran a hand over my legs, "I'm going to have to get a razor so I can shave them." Of course, I didn't need it just yet, but it wouldn't hurt to be prepared. Though I'd never shaved my legs before in my life and I had no idea where that thought had come from, it somehow seemed perfectly normal.

I had no idea just how long I remained in the tub, just soaking again after I had finished washing up. But eventually, I got out and began drying off.

When I was finished up in the bathroom and dressed in my new clothes, I went out and found Jack sitting on the edge of one of the two beds in the room and watching cartoons on TV. Without a word, I plopped down and began watching too, laughing a bit since I hadn't been able to watch any TV or cartoons in days. With the cartoons on and Jack right next to me, it was almost like old times.

Several hours later, after Jack had cleaned up too and we'd both had dinner, we were sitting down and watching TV again. There wasn't really anything good on, but that didn't really matter.

Jack had been giving me a couple odd looks again as he sat there, then he finally asked, "What's it like?"

I blinked, "What?"

"What's it like turning into a girl?" He looked a little embarrassed at having asked the question, though curious nonetheless.

"Kinda weird," I told him slowly, "But I don't really FEEL weird if you know what I mean..."

He just shook his head at that, looking a bit confused. Obviously he didn't understand and I wasn't sure how to explain it to him since I didn't really even understand it myself.

"I can't believe how old you're getting," Jack told me a minute later. "You even look like a grown-up now..."

"How old I'm getting?" I repeated with a frown.

Then I gulped, suddenly wondering what I would do if I KEPT getting older. What if it didn't stop? The idea was frightening and became even more so as I thought about it. I could end up as an old man...old woman.

"Oh no," I cried out, and at Jack's blank look, I told him my fears of becoming real old and helpless. "What am I gonna do?" Tears were even beginning to come down my cheeks.

"I don't know," Jack responded, his voice shaky as he tried to tell me, "I'm sure you won't..." Then he moved closer to me, "And if you do, I'll...I'll take care of you."

"But..," I started.

Jack just stood there with a determined expression. "You saved my life and I ain't gonna leave you... We're best friends."

With that, I surprised Jack and my self by giving him a hug. To my further surprise, he didn't try to pull away or even tease me about crying. I guess that was what real friends were for.

Later on I felt kinda embarrassed about breaking down and crying like that, but Jack still hadn't said a thing about that, for which I was thankful. I kind of felt silly too since I didn't think that I was going to get that old and helpless. At least I hoped that I didn't, and figured that my fears were just my overactive imagination.

Eventually we even went to bed, with me feeling nice and comfortable. There was nothing better than a nice bed, especially after sleeping in the back of a truck or on the floor in a basement.

--------------------

I awoke to the sound of the toilet flushing and immediately sat up, feeling wide awake and alert. My eyes darted around until I realized that it had just been Jack using the bathroom. And then I let out a sigh of relief.

As I rubbed my eyes, I frowned, thinking of the strange dream that I had just been woken up from. In fact, I had been having strange dreams all night long, though I couldn't really remember what they were anymore. I had weird dreams the night before too, but not quite that weird.

"I wish I could remember them," I muttered.

It didn't really take me long to get dressed in my new clothes and ready. It felt really nice to be wearing jeans and a T-shirt again, though the bra was a little annoying. I tied my hair back in a pony tail since it was getting long and then put on a little makeup since it seemed the thing to do.

During the night, I had changed a little bit more, though mostly just to get older. Now I looked like I was 23 or so, and my 'johnson' had shrunk away to nothing. My crotch was all different now. I was somehow sure that I didn't have regular girl stuff down there yet, but I had no doubt that it wouldn't be much longer. Not much longer at all.

"Man you're growing older fast," Jack gasped, then quickly shut up and going pale, obviously remembering my reaction to a similar comment the night before.

"I know," I told him with a sigh, feeling much calmer about the idea than the night before. "I'm pretty sure I'm not going to get real old though," I added after a moment, though I couldn't really say why.

Just a few minutes after this, I doubled over in pain as I was struck with another wave of bad cramps in my guts and cold shivering along my skin. I hadn't been hit like that for awhile and had thought that it was over with. Obviously not though.

"Are you all right?" Jack immediately ran over to comfort me.

"Yeah," I grunted as I stood straight again, letting out a sigh of relief that it was already all going away. "Just peachy."

"Well you scared me," Jack told me, looking embarrassed.

"I scared you?" I snorted. "Imagine what I feel like having my guts all go to knots."

After that, we just sat around watching TV for awhile until I finally decided to go out and get a few more supplies...and a little more clothes. Even after all our shopping, we only had a few days worth...unless we went without changing clothes again, which I really didn't want to do.

"I'm gonna be going out," I told Jack, but as he started to get up, I frowned in embarrassment, "I'm gonna get some more clothes for me and other girl stuff..."

"Ugh," Jack gave an exaggerated cringe. "You've barely been a girl and you're already addicted to shopping..."

"Bite me," I stuck my tongue out at him.

But before I left the motel room, I hesitated, then carefully grabbed the gun that I'd stolen. I wasn't sure that I really liked the idea of walking around with a real loaded gun, but something told me that it would be a good idea to have it...just in case.

I felt a little strange as I walked down the street, knowing that everyone who looked at me saw a girl... No, a woman. A grown-up woman. It was strange, realizing that this was how people thought of me, but in an odd way...kind of nice.

"I could get used to this," I thought aloud after a grown man stepped out of my way, gave me a polite smile and even apologized for being in my way in the first place. Then again, I became a little less enthused as I realized that I just might have to.

For the next couple of hours, I went around to different stores, buying a bit more underwear, a little more clothes and certain girl things which I somehow KNEW that I was going to need soon.

"And I think this color would look good on me," I thought as I added a little lipstick to my shopping cart. I didn't know why I knew that, or why I even cared, but I did.

Then as I looked at all the girl stuff that I'd been buying, I shook my head, knowing that I SHOULD feel real embarrassed about it...but I wasn't. It didn't really feel all that embarrassing, though I figured that it would if Jack were there.

When I finally returned to the motel room, I had a couple of heavy bags full of the stuff that I'd bought. I figured that Jack would be a bit jealous, but I'd just point out that it was all clothes and girl stuff.

"I can't believe I spent all that money either," I sighed.

I shook my head, knowing that the money wasn't unlimited. In fact, if we kept spending it like we had been, then we'd be all broke before too long. Somehow, Jack and I were gonna have to find a way to make some more money. I didn't think that we could rely on more of the bad guys just leaving us their wallets.

"Ugh," I muttered just outside the motel door, "I might have to get a job..."

The thought of having to get a job kind of sucked, but I didn't think that we were gonna have much other choice. After all, Jack was still just twelve so couldn't get a job and I looked like I was an adult, which meant that I was the only one of us who could.

"I'm back," I told Jack as I went inside, grunting as I dropped the bags onto the floor.

"Holy shit," Jack gasped, "That's a lot of stuff..."

"Yeah," I smiled innocently at him, "I bought you a bunch more girl clothes for a disguise..."

"WHAT?" Jack gasped, eyes going wide.

I just grinned at that, "Gotcha..."

"You are mean," Jack told me as he stuck out his tongue. "You are so mean..."

"I guess I'm a bitch," I smirked, sticking out my own tongue back at him.

Then I paused, suddenly noticing the Gameboy, one of those small handheld video game systems sitting on the bed beside Jack. And there were two video game cartridges sitting right next to it.

"Where'd you get that?" I asked in surprise, not to mention a little confusion.

Jack grinned up at me, "I bought it..."

"What?" I blinked, feeling even more confused. "With what?" I'd had all the money with me.

"With this," Jack grinned even more as he held up a credit card. "I got it from the wallet I took from that guy in the trees..."

"But how could you use it?" I asked, "Don't you need to some ID or something?"

Jack just shook his head, "I told the guy at the store it was my dad's...and that he was letting me buy whatever I wanted for my birthday..." Then he laughed.

"It was working," I whispered, thinking of the credit card and suddenly feeling VERY alarmed at that. "Shouldn't he have canceled his credit cards by now?" The last was more to myself than to Jack.

For a moment, Jack just stared at me. "What? What's wrong?"

"People cancel their credit cards when they get stolen," I thought aloud, scowling as I did so. Something was definitely wrong with that. Then I gasped, "Oh shit..."

Though it was usually Jack who liked to compare things to movies, I couldn't help suddenly thinking about all the movies I'd seen where they track down people by their credit cards. All the person has to do is use their credit card, and the bad guys or the police know exactly where they are.

"Oh shit," I repeated, thinking that they might have left the credit card working just in case we tried using it... "We've got to get going," I told Jack, who stared at me in surprise. "We've got to get going NOW."

"But why?" Jack started to ask.

I looked up from where I was already starting to gather our stuff, then paused, glancing out the window. Almost as if on cue, I saw a several people in dark suits coming in the direction of the motel.

"They're here," I grimaced, grabbing Jack, "We've got to go..."

"WHAT?" Jack gasped as I was already pulling him towards the door.

However, I paused at the door, peaking out and seeing them coming. They'd definitely see us if we tried going out now. The only thing I could think of was that they probably didn't even know which room we were in, and possibly not even if we were there for certain.

As they passed by our door, I heard one of them...Martin Jones, the same one we'd stolen the wallet from telling the others, "Dr. Peterson is pissed enough that we let them escape..."

Though I'd never heard that name before, it sounded a bit familiar. In fact, I immediately knew that this was the same Dr. Frankenstein that had given Jack and I our shots...

"The target is to be unharmed if at all possible," he continued.

"Tell that to the guys who were shooting at us," I muttered to Jack.

Once the guys in the suits had gone past, I gestured for Jack to follow me as I hurried out the door...and in the opposite direction that they had gone in. Unfortunately, I hadn't thought that they might not have been alone, and almost immediately saw the Igor woman who'd kidnapped us standing on the other side of the road. And she obviously saw us too as she yelled out a warning to her friends.

"Oh shit," I cried out, then told Jack, "RUN."

Jack was already in motion though, and I was running as fast as I could as well, easily catching up to him. The men in the suits were already chasing after us, and I urged Jack to run faster.

Suddenly we were confronted by another man in a suit, standing in front of us. They'd obviously had several people standing around the motel to make sure we didn't slip away until they could find us.

"Freeze," he snapped at me, bringing me and Jack to a brief stop...especially since he had a gun in hand. Then he looked straight at me, catching me by surprise since I didn't look anything like I had when I'd escaped them. But he surprised me even more by growling, "You're coming in for debriefing..."

"What?" I gasped.

The man didn't even look at Jack, acting as though Jack wasn't even worth the attention. Both the gun and his eyes remained locked firmly on me.

But just then, there was a loud squealing as a car suddenly slammed to a stop just a short distance away. And in an instant, three men in a variety of street clothes jumped out, each of them holding what looked like Uzis... My eyes were immediately drawn to the snake tattoos that I could see on all of their arms.

"Damn," the man in front of me gasped as he immediately spun and stared firing at them.

At the same time, the newcomers with the tattoos opened up with their uzis...killing two of the guys in suits immediately and catching another one in the leg. The guys in suits dumped behind cars for cover.

For just a brief instant, I stared at the sight with the realization that these guys were not together... In fact, they were obviously enemies...though that didn't answer why the second group, the guys with the tattoos were after us. But then again, I didn't even know why the guys in the suits were chasing us.

If those two groups...the suits and the tattoos weren't together, that didn't how they had both arrived at the same time. I know that the suits had found us by tracking the credit card, but that didn't explain the tattoos. Not unless they'd either had a low-jack on the car I'd swiped, or more likely, they'd followed the suits.

These thoughts and questions passed through my mind in an instant, and a second later, I was in motion, slapping the gun out of the hand of the man in front of me and then knocking his feet out from under him. My gun was already in my hand...though I hadn't even been aware that I'd pulled it out until then.

"C'mon," I told Jack, "Run..." I pushed him to run, firing several shots at one of the tattoos. There was already no doubt that these guys wanted us dead for some reason.

One of the tattoos went down from my shot, and strangely enough, I not only didn't feel guilty for shooting him, but didn't even give it a second thought as I rushed after Jack. Several shots came out behind me, getting pretty close. It was now obvious that the tattoos were focusing their attention on me.

"Kill the bitch," one of the tattoos yelled out...cutting loose with the Uzi in my direction as he did so.

I hit the ground rolling, letting off several more rounds towards the tattoos. One of them was hit pretty good, though I wasn't sure that it would be lethal. But worse of all was the realization that there were more tattoos... More of those guys had shown up while I was distracted.

"ETHAN," Jack cried out in terror, staring back at me in fear and concern.

After waving Jack off, I fired several more shots, then scrambling to my feet and ran as fast as I could. I even used several more shots to provide cover. And fortunately for me, the suits and the tattoos were so caught up fighting each other that Jack and I were able to slip out the back.

"They won't be able to chase after us while they're shooting at each other," I told Jack to comfort him.

A moment later, we reached the car where I'd had it parked in the back. I grimaced as I fumbled with the keys, knowing that they'd be after us again in just moments. Sooner or later someone would be able to break free from the fighting.

Then as I got the engine started and we raced off down the street, I grabbed Jack's hand and squeezed, simultaneously letting out a sigh of relief.

"We got away again," I gasped.

However, that left the silent statement that we wouldn't be able to get away forever. We'd been lucky this time...and every time before. But our luck was bound to run out.

On the Run
part 5 of 6
By Morpheus

It was the day after Jack and I had made our escape from the motel, slipping away from the suits and the tattoos, and we had both relaxed a little, though not much. I was still pretty nervous and kept glancing behind me.

After we had escaped, we had driven for a good while before finally stopping. At first I had been thinking of ditching the car and using a bus, but I didn't like the idea of being without transportation of our own. So I had gone through the car, looking for any sort of low-jack or tracking device, but finding nothing. It looked like the tattoos had found us by following the suits.

Still, I hadn't been satisfied with leaving things at that, so I'd swapped license plates with another car that was parked nearby, figuring that this might make it a bit more difficult to track us. And I even sprayed a bit of primer and stuff on the car to make it look older and more beat up, thinking that this would help disguise the car pretty good.

Ironically, Jack and I had ended up right back at another cheap motel. I figured that it would be a good place to spend the night and try figuring out what we were going to be doing next, and where we could possibly go.

Of course, there were my changes... My changes had continued through the night until I woke up and found myself where I was right then, standing before a mirror and staring at the face of a very attractive adult woman.

And as I stared at my reflection, I guessed my age to be about 32... Or something inside me seemed to say that I was 32. I was old... Yet strangely enough, I didn't really feel old.

"Dude, you're old enough to be my mom," Jack gasped.

"I know," I answered quietly.

At the same time, I also knew that the changes had finally stopped. All the tingling and itching that I'd been feeling since it had started had finally stopped. But more than that, something inside of me simply said that this was it... That I wasn't going to change any more.

"I'm all girl now," I told Jack, feeling a little sad about that but not horrified or anything. If anything, I felt a sort of calm accepting.

All that Jack could say to that was, "Oh..."

With a faint nod, I turned to look at our stuff. There really wasn't that much of it because we'd had to abandon most of the stuff that we'd bought when we left the motel. Fortunately Jack had thought to grab the backpack, and there were a few things that I'd left in the car...but the rest of it was gone. It still annoyed me that Jack had managed to grab his damn video game but had left most of our clothes.

"Now we'll have to buy more," I complained, thinking of all that money that was wasted. It wasn't like we had an unlimited supply. In fact, we were beginning to get a bit low.

I tried not to think of our lost supplies at the moment, turning back to the mirror instead. I just couldn't get over how familiar that face looked to me... There was nothing of Ethan in that face, which made it even more strange.

"You just had to buy that video game," I grumbled to Jack, trying not to get too mad at him since I knew that it was his fault that they had found us.

"I'm sorry," he cringed, obviously knowing that he was to blame.

But as there was nothing we could do about that now, I decided not to dwell on it. After all, Jack was still my best buddy and he was all that I had...just as I was all that he had.

A short while later, Jack and I started to gather our few belongings so that we could get going. The plan was to just keep driving and hope that we could get far enough away that they'd never be able to find us. I was thinking that it might also be a good idea to look for another car...just in case.

However, the moment that Jack and I left our motel room, we were face to face to three men... There men with snake tattoos. But at the very instant that I saw them, I felt the knife against my throat.

"Don't move," one of the men hissed.

I gulped, my eyes going wide. I didn't dare move, not an inch. They not only had me, but they had Jack as well.

"Kill the bitch," another of the men snapped.

The third growled, "We've been following them since they ran yesterday... And when they stopped, instead of killing them you had us just watch them till now..."

Then the first one, the one who seemed to be their leader just glared at me. "I wanted to catch her by surprise...when she wasn't expecting us."

"So let's kill her," the second one insisted again, pointing his gun at my forehead.

"No," the first one snarled, "This bitch killed Bastion and Kerry might never walk again..." He glanced at his friends, then smiled, though it was not a nice smile. "We're gonna kill her like we were told to... But first...we're gonna make her hurt..."

"And the kid?" the second man asked, pointing his gun at Jack, looking as though he wanted nothing more than to shoot.

"No," I gasped in horror.

The first man scowled, "She cares about him... He might be useful..."

Suddenly one of them swung the butt of their gun and I felt a sharp pain against the back of my head before everything went dark.

--------------------

In the darkness that embraced me, thoughts and images began to seep through. These were the same images which had been haunting me in my dreams for the last few nights. Images which had been not understood and forgotten by morning. But now they seemed much clearer...much stronger.

A thousand thoughts, images and memories began flooding into my mind, as though a gate had just been opened. They wouldn't stop... They were too strong... They were overwhelming me...threatening to drown me in their sheer might.

Then, as my eyes finally fluttered open, two words escaped my lips. "I remember..."

I opened my eyes and looked around, finding that I was in a small empty room and tired up to a chair. I struggled with my hands, but they seemed to be held tight, as were my feet.

As I sat there in the silent empty room, I scowled, trying to make sense of all my confused memories. There were so many of them... But my mind was quickly becoming more clear.

"My name...," I whispered. Then with more force, more conviction, I stated, "My name is Tessa Montclaire..."

With that simple statement, a thousand thoughts and memories crystallized into perfect clarity. All of the answers that I had been searching for over the last few days were suddenly laid bare before me.

My name was Tessa Montclaire and I was a spy and assassin. I worked for a small covert organization that had no official name but was tasked with neutralizing certain kinds of threats against the United States. Specifically, threats from domestic terrorists. Neutralizing them at all costs.

Some time back, we had become aware of a small group who were calling themselves El Serpiente. They had started out smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs, things which did not really concern us. But then they started to move up, specifically smuggling in suspected terrorists and even providing them with forged documentation. El Serpiente really came to our attention when we discovered that they were helping smuggle in sleeper agents for Al Quaida...agents who had something big planned.

We had wanted to infiltrate El Serpiente, to find out more about their organization, specifically the terrorists that they had already smuggled in and where they had ended up. At first, this was a problem as they had little trust of outsiders, but then an opportunity presented itself.

Our people had become aware of a couple...a husband and wife who worked for El Serpiente, providing the accounting and money laundering services. And they had a son...a 7 year old son who had died in an accident while away from them. And there was our chance.

There was a breakthrough which we had learned of...a difficult process which could transform one person into another, though it was somewhat unstable and would work for only one out of ten people. And as I was one of those ten percent, I had volunteered to undergo the process and infiltrate El Serpiente in the most unexpected disguise.

It had taken a week to transform me into a physical duplicate of the boy, and all the while, I had been undergoing extensive hypnosis as well. I had been heavily conditioned to slip into the mindset of a 7 year old boy...to think and act as him so thoroughly that I would be able to fool even his parents. Of course, the real me would remain inside, ready to go active and complete my mission.

I replaced the boy as planned, without his parents ever being aware that their real son had died. I was now deep undercover and the infiltration mission was a go.

Unfortunately, there was a problem. Before I had truly even gotten into El Serpiente, my 'parents' and I had been in a horrible car crash. They had died as a result, while the impact and trauma had caused me to become lost in my own cover. I had somehow become lost in another way as well... Lost to my own people and ending up in the orphanage. And without any trigger to awaken my true self, I had slipped completely into my cover persona...actually BECOMING my cover...becoming Ethan.

As I sat there, I was dazed by the realization. After five years of being lost...I was back. I was Tessa again. But at the same time, I was just as sure that I was Ethan. I could remember my entire life as Tessa...and all five years that I had been at the orphanage as a young boy. They were BOTH ME.

"Confusing," I whispered, shaking my head.

Then I paused, suddenly thinking of the disaster in New York and gulping in horror. Could that have been the result of my mission failing? God, I hoped not.

I grimaced, turning my attention back to back to the last few days. It was obvious that somehow my people had finally located me, but when they had come to retrieve me, they had become confused, not knowing which twelve year old boy was ME. That was why they had taken both of us...and given Jack the antidote as well.

It was also obvious that somehow El Serpiente had somehow discovered my attempt at infiltration and had decided to eliminate what they must think of as not only an enemy, but someone who might potentially know too much of their business.

But now, I was back to normal...or at least back to my old physical self. The antidote had returned my body to exactly as it had been before the transformation, even returning me to the same age of 32. Of course, I realized that after 5 years, I might physically be 32 again, but chronologically I was actually 37.

"Man," I muttered, "Jack is gonna freak when I tell him..."

Then I grimaced as I suddenly remembered that El Serpiente had taken Jack at the same time that they'd grabbed me. And I did not take the fact that he was not in the same room as me as a good sign. In fact, it worried me. It worried me a good deal.

I remained where I was for some time, silent and motionless save my useless attempts to slip my bonds. In the end, I knew that all that I could do was wait...and be ready.

It was about half an hour later before someone finally came into the room. As soon as I heard the door opening, I went slack, pretending to still be unconscious.

"Don't bother," a man snapped as he stepped inside the room, "We saw you moving through the peep hole..."

I gave a silent curse and opened my eyes, never having noticed any peep hold in the door. But as I gave it another look, I finally noticed the small hole in it, causing me to silently curse again.

The man...I recognized him as the leader of the small group who had finally caught me, came in, followed by two more. All three of them had the snake tattoos on their arms, and all three were armed. This didn't do much for my confidence at the moment, though I refused to show them any sign of fear.

"So you're the one we've been sent after," the apparent leader said as he glared down at me. I just glared back, not bothering to respond.

"The bitch doesn't look like much," another of the men commented. I didn't even waste my effort looking at him. He wasn't the real danger at the moment.

Without any warning, their leader suddenly punched me in the face. My head snapped back and I gasped. I'd been hit harder than that, but that certainly hadn't been a light tap. There was probably going to be a pretty good bruise as a result. If I lived long enough for one to form that was.

"How much did you learn while you were spying on us?" he demanded.

"You want me to hurt her Eli?" one of the other two asked the leader.

The leader...Eli shook his head. "Not yet. She's trained to deal with pain." He looked thoughtful for a moment before saying, "Bring in the kid..."

My heart nearly jumped at that, though it was all I could do not to say anything while they brought in Jack. He looked terrified, but not hurt. Not yet at least.

"Give him a chair," Eli said.

The men forced Jack to sit down in a hair, but duct taped his arms to the arm rests rather than behind him as mine were. He looked even more terrified, and his eyes quickly darted to me, as if begging me to help. I only wished that I could.

"How much did you learn?" Eli asked again.

"I don't know what you're talking about," I lied, hoping that I could play ignorant.

"Wrong answer," Eli snapped, giving a gesture to one of his men.

Then the man quickly grabbed Jack's hand, and without a moment of hesitation, pulled his pinkie back until it snapped. I could only stare in horror as Jack let out a scream of pain from his broken finger.

"Jack!" I gasped in horror before biting my tongue. I couldn't let them know how much what they had done bothered me as they would use it against us. However, I didn't need to as it was obvious that they already had some idea.

"Don't lie to me Ms. Montclaire," Eli scowled, "I know about the process that this Dr. Peterson used to transform your body so that you could spy on us... Now tell me how much you learned..."

"How could you know that," I gasped.

He had definitely caught me by surprise with that statement, though in retrospect, I realized that it shouldn't have. How could they have known about Dr. Peterson's transformation process.? About my infiltration attempt? And of course, about when and how I would be retrieved and returned to normal? However they knew, they obviously had or they would not have been chasing after us in the first place.

"How could you know?" I repeated, this time more as a demand.

I glanced over at Jack, who was crying in pain, then glared at Eli, silently promising that he and his friends were going to pay for what they had done. They were going to pay very dearly.

One of the men just sat there with pen and paper, taking notes and looking as though he were eager to write down my answers to their questions.

"A second finger," Eli commented, while the man who'd already broken Jack's finger reached over to break a second.

"NO," I gasped.

Just then, the door opened up again and two more people came into the room. Eli frowned while the man who had been about to break Jack's second finger paused and let go, standing back a little.

"Questioning her is a waste of time," the man who had just came in stated, "She never reported back to her people..."

I gasped, wondering how he could possibly know that, but Eli nodded, "I know. I was just having a little fun..."

My eyes immediately locked on the newcomers, widening in recognition of them both. The first was a tall Hispanic man with long hair and a mustache. But unlike everyone else that I had seen in El Serpiente, he was wearing a white suit rather than more casual clothes. And though I had never seen this man in person, I immediately recognized him as Eduardo Caverez, the supposed leader of El Serpiente...or at least he had been five years earlier, and from the other's reactions, it appeared that this was accurate.

Then I stared at the second one, a woman whom I immediately recognized as one of the duo who had kidnapped Jack and I from the orphanage. It was the 'female Igor', a member of the 'suits', my own former organization. And seeing her standing there beside Caverez suddenly explained a lot of things...such as how El Serpiente knew all about me. The organization had a traitor in it.

Caverez glared at me with a look of cool contempt. "You had been ordered to kill her," he told Eli, not bothering to look at him, "So do so. Slowly."

"And the kid?" Eli asked, gesturing towards Jack.

"Kill him," Caverez shrugged.

Jack's eyes went wide at that and he whimpered, while I grimaced, glaring at Caverez and wishing that I could get my hands around his throat.

For a moment, the traitor looked less than happy about the order to kill Jack, though I knew better than to expect any form of help from her. She was too far in now to risk doing anything, even if she did have any inclinations in that direction. And I rather doubted that she did.

"Please...," Jack whimpered.

"I'm sorry," I told him, feeling horribly guilty for getting him involved. It certainly hadn't been my choice, but I was responsible nonetheless.

Eli nodded and pulled out a knife, looking a little too pleased at the prospect of using it. I didn't know which scared me worse, the thought that he was going to go after me with it while I was helpless...or that he would kill Jack right in front of me while I would be unable to do anything.

But before Eli could do anything with his knife, a cell phone started to ring. Caverez pulled out from his pocket and listened for a moment before putting it back away.

"This will have to wait," Caverez stated, glancing at me and Jack. "We have other business to attend to..." And with that, he turned and left the room, with the traitor hesitating only a moment before following.

Eli scowled as he looked at Jack and myself, though that quickly turned to a smirk. "They aren't going anywhere," he told his men, then to me he added, "Cut you later bitch..."

A few seconds later, Eli and his men left the room and locked the door behind them. I heard the bolt slamming shut from the other side. Now it was only Jack and I.

"Why are they doing this?" Jack cried, tears pouring down his cheeks.

I grimaced, feeling my stomach knot up. "I'm so sorry," I told him.

If it hadn't been for me and my failed undercover mission, Jack never would have been kidnapped away from the orphanage and subjected to everything that he had been. He wouldn't have had his finger broken and he wouldn't be facing death.

For several minutes, I just sat there, listening to Jack whimpering from the pain and fear. He had been through so much already, and it wasn't over yet.

With a scowl, I wondered what he would think if he knew that it was my fault that this had happened to him. If he knew that this never would have happened if he'd never met me. And I felt my stomach knot up as I thought about what he might think of if he knew the truth about ME. If he knew that his best friend had secretly been a grown woman.

Of course, I knew that the truth was not only highly unbelievable, but also highly classified. I doubted that even the president of the United States knew of the existence of Dr. Peterson's transformation process.

Then again, as I looked over at Jack, I couldn't help thinking that he was not only a poor little kid who was in desperate need of help...but he was also my best friend. He had been there when I had no one else. And after all that he had been through, he deserved to know the truth.

"Jack," I said quietly, "I have something to tell you..."

On the Run
part 6 of 6
By Morpheus

Jack remained in the chair in which he was tied, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open as he stared at me in absolute shock. He had taken the news of who I really was and how we had ended up in our current situation a little better than I had expected.

After several minutes of silence, Jack gulped, "You're really old..." He stared at me with a look of surprise, his pain apparently forgotten in the moment.

"Not THAT old," I frowned. After all, I was only 32...or 37, depending on how you looked at it.

"I'm sorry that you got involved," I told him, feeling quite guilty for my part in what had happened to him. It certainly hadn't been intentional as I hadn't even remembered the truth until a short while earlier, but I still bore some responsibility.

Then I tore my eyes from Jack and looked at the door, scowling even more as I did so. I pulled where I was duct taped to the chair, though I didn't have enough free movement to do anything.

"I'm scared," Jack admitted, looking at me with tears in his eyes.

"So am I," I admitted, "So am I..."

"But..," he stammered, "You said that you were a spy?"

I let out a long sigh, "I'm rusty..."

"Hi Rusty," Jack gave me a weak smile, "I'm Jack..."

I gave a weak smile back, but only for a moment. My attention went back to the door, and the chairs that Jack and I were still tied up to. I had no idea how much longer until Eli or Caverez came back to kill us. And I definitely didn't want to be sitting there when they did. It was time to stop thinking like a twelve year old boy and start thinking like the highly trained agent that I was.

For a moment, I remained where I was, my mind racing. Then I looked over at where Jack was tied up, taking in the fact that his arms were actually the only thing that held him to the chair. He was tied much less severely than I was, which gave me an idea.

"Jack," I told him, "See if you can stand up in your chair..."

He looked at me blankly but did as I instructed. He couldn't really stand up, but he could certainly do more than I could. He had more mobility.

"Scoot your chair over next to mine," I instructed, and he immediately began to do so. "Now stand like that and lift the chair...especially your arms..." And once he had done so, I told him, "Good. Now hold it there..."

Jack struggled to keep the chair lifted, though it was obviously difficult for him to do in his badly balanced position. However, that was not one of my concerns as I bent forward until my mouth was even with his arms and began to pull on the duct tape with my teeth. And after just a minute, I'd gotten it loose enough that he was able to get his arm out.

To my relief, Jack didn't need any more instructions from this point. He undid the tape around his other arm and immediately began to free me. Within several minutes, both of us were completely freed from the chairs.

Unfortunately though, the door to the room was thick and heavy, not to mention locked tight. There was not even a chance of undoing the hinges as they were heavy, bolted through the door and not about to come loose. I didn't think that we'd be able to get those off without the right tools. And there were no windows either, only heavy walls all the way around.

"We're still stuck here," Jack gasped in terror, "They're gonna kill us..."

"Quiet," I snapped, then immediately softened, "Sorry." I took a long look at him, thinking that he had been handling this very well for a boy of his age. I felt a little guilty for snapping at him like that. "Let's take care of your finger..."

The men who'd tied us up had left the duct tape on a table, next to the pen and paper that the one man had been taking notes with. I tore off a piece of the duct tape and used it to tape Jack's little finger to the one next to it. This would act as a split and keep the broken finger from being bent.

"About all that any doctor would do for it," I told Jack.

He nodded, looking at me fearfully though obviously trying to be brave. "Um...Ethan...?"

"Call me Tessa," I told him. "That's my real name." It did feel a little strange to be using that name again after so long of being 'Ethan'.

"Tessa..." Jack said carefully, as if testing my name. He looked up at me with wide eyes, "How are we gonna get out before they come back?"

"We're not," I told him, scanning the room again and seeing no way out of the room just then. It was pretty tightly sealed so we were going to have to find another way out. "But I do have another idea..."

After this, I sat back down in the chair that I had been tied to, getting into the same position and having Jack do the same to the chair that he had been in. He'd looked at me as if I were crazy when I told him to, but once I reminded him that I was the 'Jane Bond' in the room, he was quite willing to comply.

We waited there for some time, barely moving at all. I kept myself nearly motionless, my eyes locked on the faint spot of light that was the peep hole in the door. And then, I saw it, the shadow that darkened that spot of light, indicating that someone was using it to check on us. I pretended to be dazed, yet tensed myself at the same time.

Then I heard the bolt on the door slide open and quickly hissed to Jack, "Close your eyes... You don't want to see this..."

With that, I was in motion, holding the ink pen that the one man had been using to take notes with firmly in my hand. And as the door opened up, I was already in position, reaching out with one hand to grab the first man through by the wrist, while simultaneously swinging my arm and slamming the ink pen into the throat of the second man, who happened to be Eli.

Eli grasped the pen that was shoved halfway into his throat with a look of horror, gurgling as he staggered against the wall. But while Eli was doing that, I noticed that the man who's wrist I had grabbed to pull inside was the very same man whom had broken Jack's finger. I took a certain pleasure in twisting his wrist until there was a loud snap, then lashing out with my elbow and slamming his face, hearing a crunching sound as his nose was broken.

In an instant, I took in every detail around me, relieved that it was only the two of them coming in at the moment as it made my job easier, but knowing that I couldn't count on that. Nor could I count on Eli and the other man remaining completely disabled just yet. I kicked at Eli, getting him straight in the face, then I gave a second kick...right into his throat.

The man who's wrist and nose I had broken was screaming, and reaching for his gun. I was quick and brutal as I kicked him in the head, punched his groin and grabbed the gun from him. There was little doubt that he was in any condition to hurt anyone at the moment, but it was nothing more than what he'd deserved for breaking the finger of a helpless boy.

"Holy shit," Jack gasped, looking simultaneously horrified and impressed.

Jack stared at me as though I was a stranger, someone whom he'd never seen before in his life. It hurt a little, but on the other hand, in a way I was a stranger.

I paused for a moment to put a hand on his shoulder. "It's going to be all right." Then I looked him in the eyes, "It's still me in here... I remember who I was before...but I'm still Ethan too. I'm still your friend..."

"Okay," Jack responded with a weak grin, glancing at the two men on the floor and gasping, "You kicked their asses..."

"Yeah," I smiled back before grabbing Eli and dragging him...or what was left of him inside. "Get the duct tape..."

Eli was dead, or would be in a minute or so. He was nothing to worry about, and I taped the other man's mouth to keep him from making any noise when he came to...mostly screaming.

Then I gestured to Jack, "Come on...and keep quiet."

Once we were out of that room, I had Jack lock the door behind us while I kept watch. Then I carefully made my way down the hallway, gun in hand, ready to deal with any other members of El Serpiente which we might run into. Jack was close behind me, looking pretty scared but determined. I felt proud of him.

We were silent as we went down the large hallway. From what I could see of it, from it's shear size and the decorations, I knew that we had to be in a very large house. I suspected that we were probably even in a mansion of some sort. Quite likely, El Serpiente's headquarters.

"We need to find our way out of here," I whispered to Jack, who nodded back.

As we went down the hall, I kept my eyes open. There were several doors, including a large cleaning closet which had been left open. But a little further down, I could hear men's voices. And a closer look revealed that there was another room where more than half a dozen members of El Serpiente were gathered around, playing cards and watching TV.

I backed away and told Jack what I'd seen. "We might be able to sneak past without any of them seeing us," I whispered, "But I have something else in mind. We'll need some distractions..."

With that, I went back to the cleaning closet and looked at what was available. I smiled faintly as I saw the recourses available. There were definitely several things that we could use for a distraction...and then some.

"Take these," I handed Jack two gallon jugs of alcohol. He had to struggle to hold one of them in his injured hand, but to his credit, he didn't complain at all. However, he did give me a blank look.

I wasted no time in taking a large container of bleach and pouring it into the empty mop bucket. And I grabbed another container of ammonia before heading down the hall with them, hoping that no one showed up to spoil what I had planned.

"Get ready to hold your breath," I told Jack.

Then I quickly poured the ammonia into the mop bucket with the bleach. I knew that combining those two chemicals would create a nasty poisonous gas. And this was exactly the 'distraction' that I was counting on. Without hesitation, I shoved the mop bucket into the room and pulled the doors closed, wishing that I could lock it from the outside so as to leave those men trapped good. But this would have to do.

"Come on," I gestured to Jack and rushed down the hall, not wanting to breath in any of the gas.

Now Jack and I just had to find our way out of the house. Carrying the alcohol might slow us down a bit, but I wanted to use it to create another distraction if we needed it. I would just need one more thing before then though.

Unfortunately, our good luck in avoiding anyone came to an end, though it had lasted longer than I had hoped. I saw the man coming around the corner, long before he saw me. Still, I hesitated to shoot him with Jack standing there right beside me. But as soon as the man saw me and reached for his gun, I had no choice and fired several shots.

"Fuck," I cursed as the man dropped to the floor. With those gun shots, people were going to be running.

I ran to the man whom I'd dropped, quickly grabbing his gun and slipping it into my belt, then running my hands through his pockets. There was a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Just what I needed. I grabbed both.

"Come on," I gestured to Jack, then cautioned him, "Be careful and get low if you see anyone..."

A few seconds later, several more men came around the corner, guns drawn. This time I didn't hesitate before taking them both down. I might not like shooting people in front of Jack, but it was certainly better off then us both ending up dead.

"These are the bad guys," I reminded Jack. "They want to kill us."

Jack didn't say anything as we ran into a huge living room. There was expensive furniture everywhere. I hesitated, then smiled. There were several large windows and even a door outside. I could see the darkness of night through them.

I ran to the door and made sure that I could open it, then gestured to Jack, "Go... Run and hide. I'll catch up in a minute..."

"But...," he gasped, looking at me fearfully.

After taking the gallons of alcohol from him, I told him, "I'll be creating a distraction. Now RUN..."

As soon as Jack was out the door, I started pouring the alcohol all over several of the couches, and against the wall and drapes. I made sure to soak things pretty well.

However, just then four more people came running into the room, firing before I'd even seen them. Fortunately, I'd seen enough of them from the corner of my eye to dive out of the way before I was hit. I grimaced, pulling out the second gun and then opening up.

"Kill the bitch," someone yelled from the other side of the room. I recognized the voice. It was Caverez. He was coming after me personally.

I took a deep breath, forcing myself to remain calm and focused. A clear mind was my greatest asset. And with that, I waited until one of their shots got close to me and let out a scream of pain. I held still, making a few loud gasping sounds.

"We got her boss," someone called out.

I remained motionless, listening to the footsteps as they cautiously came closer. Then I shifted position and fired several shots. One of them caught a bullet in the chest, while I got Caverez right in the middle of his face. There was a splatter of blood and brains as he went down.

"Just like the shooting games in the arcade," I muttered.

"FUCK," another of the men screamed, providing the perfect target for me to fire a shot and catch him in the shoulder.

While they were distracted, I shifted position again, glancing over to where the remaining men were taking cover, smiling as I did so. "Perfect."

I pulled out the pack of cigarettes and calmly put one between my lips, lighting it and taking a deep drag. It was a bit rough going down, but then again, it had been years since I'd last had a smoke. Then as I stared at the cigarette, it occurred to me that it had been five years since I'd had a cigarette. Five years. And it suddenly struck me that after that much time, it might be a good idea not to pick that particular habit up again.

With that, I took a second and final drag from my cigarette before flipping it into the puddle of alcohol that I'd left. The liquid immediately caught fire and spread...flashing across the floor and everywhere that I'd poured it. That included the bar in the corner that they were taking cover behind.

"Gotcha," I grinned as the whole bar was suddenly engulfed in flames.

One of the men screamed and jumped into the open, his whole body becoming covered in flames. He had apparently been kneeling right in the alcohol that I'd poured. The second man followed a mere moment later. And two bullets later, neither of them would feel the fire.

The whole room was quickly becoming covered in flames, as I had expected when I'd set my little diversion. All the furniture was going up, as were the drapes which were spreading the fire to the main structure. They'd be lucky if they didn't lose the whole house, but then again, with Caverez dead, that probably didn't even matter.

I took one look at my handiwork, seriously doubting that any more of El Serpiente would be coming after me through that. And with a faint smile, I turned and ran out the door after Jack.

Once I got into the darkness outside though, I realized that it might be rather hard to see where Jack had gone. Fortunately, he called to me, having stayed close enough to see me coming out. I just hoped that he hadn't seen what was going on inside.

"Did you do that?" Jack gasped as I joined him. "Everything's on fire..."

"Yep," I grinned proudly, feeling kind of childish as I did so. However, I didn't let that stop me. Being childish was something that I'd gotten rather used to over the last few years.

Just then, I paused as I noticed something else. There were some lights coming from the other side of the mansion. I gestured for Jack go get down low as I scanned the scenery, then smiled as I realized what was happening.

"It's the suits," I told Jack, my own former organization.

Jack stared at me for a moment in the darkness. "You said that you were one of them..." He sounded extremely nervous about that, obviously remembering how they'd kidnapped and chased us. "Are we going to go with them...?" He definitely sounded as if he'd rather not.

I shook my head, "No..." I wasn't about to forget their actions towards us either. Not at the moment. "Besides," I frowned thoughtfully, "they're not hear for us. They're raiding El Serpiente..."

"Oh," Jack responded.

After looking at the mansion for just another few seconds, I tugged on Jack's shoulder, "C'mon... Let's get out of here..."

And with that, Jack and I quietly slipped away while both groups of our pursuers were distracted.

--------------------

With my memory returned, it proved a simple task for Jack and I to escape any possible pursuit. For with the return of my memory, I also regained my knowledge and skills in such matters, as well as the memory of certain recourses which Jack and I had been lacking until then.

It had taken Jack and I just over a day to reach a safe house which I knew of. It was a summer retreat that an old acquaintance of mine had kept in his family for many years, and which was almost always empty. This was a fact which I had been counting on, and had not been disappointed by.

Jack and I had both almost immediately rushed for a bath upon arrival, and then settled down to rest in some nice comfortable beds. It was only once we had arrived there that I had begun to relax...and to think about the future.

At the moment, Jack and I were both safe and secure. No one knew where we were at and no one had followed us there. I had made very sure of that. Of course, we could not stay there indefinitely, but that could be taken care of as well.

Money was certainly no problem either as I had stashed away fairly large amounts of money some years earlier, just in case. All that I had to do was retrieve it, and some of that could be done from our current location and by phone.

Jack and I had been at the safe house for more than a day, neither of us saying much to each other was we rested up and thought about all that we had been through. There had been quite a bit for us to think about...especially for Jack. I could only imagine how hard it was for him to discover that his best friend was someone else entirely...a complete stranger. I was just happy that he hadn't turned his back on me or run away.

Finally though, after Jack and I had eaten breakfast on our second day there, I thought that it was time for us to talk. And there was so much to talk about.

"I truly am sorry that I got you involved in this," I told him sincerely.

"It's not your fault," he smiled.

I nodded at that, feeling a little better with that, though knowing that there were still things that we would have to deal with. And things that I wanted to deal with.

"I know that I look different now," I told Jack slowly, "I act different and think different. I am different. We've been together for years without you even knowing my real name." Then I gave a wry smile as I added, "Even I didn't know my real name..."

"Your amnesia," Jack nodded his head in understanding.

"In spite of that," I continued with a smiled, "I still remember every bit of our time together. I still remember when you chased Cody away when he was trying to beat me up... I remember when you lied and said that you were the one who broke that lamp to keep me from getting in trouble." Then I took a deep breath and looked Jack straight in the eyes. "I may be different than the boy you knew...but Ethan is still a very large part of me. I still think of you as my best friend..."

"Wow," Jack gasped as he stared at me, finally responding with a smile, "You're still my best friend..."

"Thank you," I told him, then surprising both Jack and myself by giving him a hug.

"No mushy stuff," Jack protested after I'd finished hugging him, though I'd noticed that he hadn't tried pulling away at all.

I grinned at that. "Hey," I shrugged, "I'm a girl. I'm supposed to do that mushy stuff..." That earned another big grin from him.

It was another minute later that I broached the next subject. "Jack...," I gave him a serious look, "You have a choice now..." He gave me a blank look and I explained, "They were never really after you. If you want, I can get you back to the orphanage and things can go back to normal..."

"Oh," Jack gulped, "Or what...?"

I took a deep breath at that, suddenly feeling extremely nervous and afraid. For a moment, I just stared at Jack, who simultaneously a little boy who needed taking care of...and my best and closest friend. Both of these were equally real to me.

"Or," I said quietly, "You can stay with me. For good." I took another deep breath and blurted out, "I want to adopt you..."

I paused, staring at Jack hopefully, my heart racing. I could face down dozens of gunmen without a problem, but facing down this fear of rejection was the hardest thing that I'd ever done.

Jack just sat there with a look of stunned disbelief on his face. He gulped, "I..." He looked up at me, then gave me a nervous smile. "The orphanage wouldn't be the same without Ethan...without you..." Then he stared at me with tears in his eyed, "I...I want to stay with you. I want to be adopted..."

This time it was Jack who started the hug, and we sat there that way for a minute. I think that I was even crying a bit from happiness, though it seemed a bit silly.

But afterwards, Jack nervously asked, "But what about THEM?"

"Which them?" I asked him. "El Serpiente...the guys with the tattoos won't be coming after us again. I think I can promise that."

No, El Serpiente wouldn't be any kind of a problem for us...or much of anyone else again. I'd killed their leader, not to mention a number of their members, as well as having burned down their headquarters. And with the 'suits', my former agency raiding their mansion while they were in such disarray, I could be pretty positive that El Serpiente was history.

"But what about those other guys?" Jack asked. "You said that you used to work for them... Can't you just tell them to leave us alone?"

I just sat there for a few seconds before carefully responding, "It's a little more complicated than that... They don't like to let people quit..." But after a moment of thinking, I told him, "But that's actually not such a bad idea..." I gave Jack a grin, "I'll just have to hand in my resignation in person..."

--------------------

The Senator was a powerful man, and a man who was not to be trifled with lightly. He was also secretly the head of my agency, and I felt that if I was going to hand in my 'resignation' this way, I should go all the way to the top with it.

"Greetings Senator," I said as he turned on the light and stepped into the room.

I had been sitting there, waiting for him in his office. His home office. I sat behind his desk with my feet up on it and my gun in hand. It was already pointed at him and I put a finger to my lips to indicate that he should be quiet.

"Please close the door and don't call for help," I told him calmly, "I just want to talk..."

"Who are you?" he demanded, doing as I had instructed since I had the gun on him.

Once he'd closed the door and come inside, I sat up and gently set the gun down on the desk in front of me, making sure that the barrel was still pointed in his general direction. Sometimes those little symbols could be worth quite a bit.

"I think you know who I am," I told him, having seen the glint of recognition in his eyes as he'd seen me.

"Tessa Montclaire," he responded, "The missing agent that our agents were ordered to retrieve..."

"Missing," I shook my head. "How in the world you managed to misplace an agent, I'll never know. But I spent five years living as a little boy in an orphanage as a result..."

The Senator didn't look to pleased at his agents having 'misplaced' me five years ago, nor of the fact that I'd been able to elude them so well even after I'd been found. Come to think of it, I was somewhat surprised that I'd been able to do that as a twelve year old myself.

"Well you have been found now," the Senator told me in a cold voice. "You have to be debriefed..."

"I don't think so," I shook my head. "I'm here to offer my resignation."

The Senator gave a bit of a snort at that. "You know that it doesn't work like that. You know too much."

"Do I?" I snapped. "I've been away for five years. All the codes and passwords have changed. Safe houses and technologies have changed. Even the agents have changed. I didn't even recognize most of the ones who were chasing after me. I've been out of the loop for a long time and don't know that much anymore."

"You must come in for debriefing," the Senator insisted, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that I had a gun on him just moments before.

"You know," I commented, "kidnapping several children from an orphanage isn't an intelligent way to do business. And for that matter, neither is keeping them scared and confused, or letting them slip away so easily..."

The Senator just glared at me. Those decisions had obviously been made by lower level operatives, but it was still amusing to rub those in his face.

"Oh by the way," I smiled, "Congratulations on the El Serpiente raid."

"We acquired the locations of dozens of terrorist sleeper agents," the Senator admitted. His eyes narrowed, "I believe that you had something to do with removing most of the obstacles before our agents even arrived..."

I just shrugged. "I was just completing my last mission to tear them apart." Then I gave a cold smile, "Besides, they really pissed me off."

Then another thought suddenly struck me. "Did you find your agent during the raid?"

"We found one of our agents that they had captured," the Senator admitted.

I just smiled at how cooperative the Senator was being about answering my questions. But he was probably sure that I would never make it from his home without being caught.

"She wasn't captured," I pointed out, remembering the that the traitor had been standing beside Caverez. "She was a traitor. I don't know if she was paid, blackmailed or whatever....nor do I care. But I can tell you with certainty that she was helping them and feeding them information of her own will..."

The Senator looked surprised at that, though only for a brief moment. He quickly covered it up, and I knew that he would have the traitor dealt with within a very short time.

With that, I stood up, acting as though I were about to leave. Then I paused, "Oh yes, I guess that I do know too much after all..."

"Oh," the Senator stared at me suspiciously.

I gave him a cold smile and said, "I happen to know some things that I am sure you would prefer to be kept out of the public. Such as agents doing things to American citizens which were worse than those done to certain Iraqi prisoners. And you know the outrage that caused... Of course, there are other things...people being eliminated and the like."

Then I paused for a moment, giving the Senator a fake smile. "You see, I kept certain...souvenirs during my time as an agent... For insurance purposes." Then I leaned forward, hissing, "So consider this my resignation. I have no interest of remaining in this business any longer. You will order the agents to leave me alone. I don't want to see a singe glimpse of anyone... I don't want your people near me. If I catch so much as a single glance of an agent...a single hint that you are having me followed or watched, my little insurance package will be on the front page."

The Senator glared at me, "You wouldn't dare..."

"But I would," I told him grimly. "In fact, if I don't walk out of here within a certain time and make a phone call...this evidence will be on the front page anyway..."

"You're bluffing," he snapped, though I could see the doubt of that in his eyes.

"Not in the least," I told him grimly. "And just to raise the stakes..."

With that, I slapped a folder down in front of him, making sure that it opened so that he could see the contents. I nearly smiled as I saw the look on his face as he looked over the pictures which filled it. Pictures of him and an attractive teenage girl."

"Unless I miss my guess," I told him, "that isn't your wife. And I believe it also falls under the category of statutory rape..."

"How...?" the Senator gasped, unable to take his eyes from the photos.

I had taken the pictures myself some years earlier and had them put away for safe keeping. As with the other things, this had been in case I ever needed insurance. I always thought that if I'd been a boy...or at least a boy the first time around, I would have been a great Boy Scout. I always believed in being prepared.

"Somehow, I don't think that your wife would approve at all," I told the stunned Senator. I knew his wife...at least by reputation, and knew that this was something of an understatement. He paled as he obviously thought about how she would react to seeing those pictures. "And then of course, there's the police..."

"What...do...you...want?" he asked me in defeat.

I just smiled at that. "I already told you. This is my resignation. I'm out. I'm retired and don't want anything to do with the agency after this. If anyone bothers me, copies of these pictures immediately go to the police...and of course...your wife."

"Damn you," the Senator spat.

He was obviously more upset with the thought of his wife seeing those pictures than the police. The police could be dealt with using a little influence in the right place and some high priced lawyers. But his wife... If she found out, he would probably wish that he were dead.

I just nodded slightly, picked up my gun and slipped it into it's holster. Then, I gave my former employer a 'polite' smile and said, "Have a nice day," before calmly walking out of his office.

--------------------

Four months later, things had changed quite a bit for Jack and I. And for once, things had actually changed for the better. At times, I found it hard to believe just how much things had changed, and how drastically. Jack and I both found it somewhat strange to think of the way things had been, that just months before we had BOTH been boys at an orphanage.

But now...now I was certainly no boy. I even had the periods back to prove it. After five years, I was Tessa Montclaire again. Yet there was absolutely no doubt that Ethan remained inside of me...remained a large part of who I now was. And I knew that 'he' would remain so for the rest of my life.

It was great to no longer be on the run, to have a home again. And our new home wasn't an orphanage, a cheap motel or a safe house. It was a real house...a house that I had bought with some of the money that I'd had stashed away. It was a real home. It was the first real home that either of us had had in a VERY long time.

To my pleasure, though not surprise, there had been no signs at all of our former pursuers. El Serpiente was done for, thanks partly to my taking out their leader. And as for my former agency, I doubted if I'd ever see or hear from them again. My little talk with the Senator had ensured that.

Though I had 'retired' from the old spy and assassination business, I still needed an income, as well a productive way to spend my time. Because of that, I had started my own private detective business. Instead of being a spy, I was a private eye. Most of my clients just wanted snoop jobs on spouses and the like, but as I had proven years earlier with the Senator, that was something I was quite capable of doing. It was easy work though, and a lot less dangerous than my old profession.

Of course, the best thing that had happened since the orphanage was Jack, my best friend and newly adopted son. I'd had to pull a few strings and grease a few palms in order to cut through all of the red tape and make the adoption possible, but it had been well worth it.

Yes, things had gone very well for Jack and myself. We had a home, security and most importantly, each other. We were not just best friends anymore...but family. And in a way, it was our very own happily ever after...

THE END



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