I had several requests for another crossover. Poor Wolfpup, who was one of them. I wonder how she's going to post this, since it's a crossover, with a crossover. :) I just couldn't resist. Thanks to Gen and Eugenie, as well, and particular thanks to Kristine, who requested this particular crossover. I'm going to try to have some fun with this one, although I'm also going to do some unkind things, as well. We're going to have an interesting time. At least I hope you have an interesting time with this. You need to have read Doppelganger? And Double Trouble; also Extradition and Seminar, although, this takes place before Gone. That's right. This is a TS/OWW/DS crossover.

You remember the standard disclaimers? Well, they still apply. I don't do this for money, only for fun. The characters belong to their creators and various and sundry corporations.

Double Or Nothing


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He hated extraditions. He hated leaving home. He'd much rather that someone else went. Particularly since it was so far away from the ocean. He sighed, settling back in his seat. Of course, being stuck for nine hours in an airplane didn't endear the chore any, either. Especially when there was a kid behind him kicking the back of his seat. When he heard the brat's parents get up to wander around, he stood up and glared at the little brat, giving his best impression of a vicious monster. The kid stared up at him, his smarmy smirk fading and morphing into a look of fear. He narrowed his eyes and growled, softly. The brat's eyes widened in terror, looking around frantically for help. He stared at the still offending feet, still kicking the seat, then made eye contact again, raising one eyebrow in question. The feet stopped swinging. He nodded, gave one final glare of warning, and resumed his seat. It worked. Even after his parents returned, the kid didn't take up the earlier behavior. Just settled down and went to sleep.

There was a one hour layover at Sea-Tac. If it had been longer, he would have called his friends, but there wasn't enough time. Since the same plane was continuing on to his final destination, he just sat back and closed his eyes, not even bothering to deplane for so short a time.

"Will you look at this?" Jim Ellison asked his partner as they boarded their plane. Blair's face broke out into a broad grin.

"Cool. And we're supposed to sit with him. Cool, man." Bouncing a little in his excitement. "Do you want to wake him up, or should I?"

"Nah, let me." He leaned over the sleeping man. Watching him sleep. He smiled, pleased with how well his friend looked, considering what had happened the last time they had met. "Hey, brudda. What you doin' here?" Mimicking his sleeping friend's inflections.

He shifted in his sleep. Someone was talking to him. A familiar voice. It was too cold, though. There was no way that any of his friends would be where it was so cold...Except... He opened his eyes. Staring up at the mirror image above him; duplicating the smile on his friend's face.

"I know what I'm doing here. But what are you doing here?" He asked.

"Going to Chicago for a trial. They need our testimony on a case we helped on a few months ago when we were there for a seminar. Blair saw the perp beating on a woman. They want us there to nail it down. How about you?"

"Gotta pick up a guy for extradition." He grimaced. "Not my idea of fun, but if you guys are headed that way, it just got a lot more interesting." Blair slid into the middle seat, his partner taking the aisle seat. The people coming on board behind them did double-takes, looking at the identical pair, with the much smaller, long-haired man between them.

"I always wanted to be a Blair sandwich, but I always thought it should be between twin women, not men." Casting an amused glance at the current fellow passenger who stared on their way past. His comment was greeted with identical low rumbling chuckles. Blair shivered, he'd never really get used to there being two of them. At least only one of them had enhanced senses...come to think of it, he'd never tested Mack...Hmmmmmm. He cast a curious glance at the man on his left, wondering.

"How've you been, Mack?" Jim asked.

"Good. Back to about 95%. I guess that's about as good as I'm going to get. I'm back up to benching two-fifty, so that's acceptable. I can't do quite as many reps on anything with the abs, but I'll take what I can get." He was referring to a drug sting operation that had gone bad. He'd been conned into helping some rogue DEA men, gone to Cascade, where two groups of drug runners were gunned down by a third, he'd been badly injured and left for dead. The only thing that had saved him was his resemblance to Jim. The first officers on the scene had mistaken him for the vacationing detective. They'd gone to heroic measures to keep him alive. He'd been several months recovering. When they had last seen him, he had only returned to about 50%, and further recovery was still questionable.

"That's great, Mack." Blair enthused. You at 95% is like anyone else at 125% or more."

"It's a lot better than I expected. I'm back on my board, for which I'm really grateful, well, to tell the truth, I'm grateful to be alive. Thanks to all your people. I'll never to be able to repay you."

"You don't have to. You're part of the group, now." Jim replied. They sat quietly for a while, as the plane readied for take-off and the attendants went through the usual pre-flight announcements.

They talked quietly about work and life, then settled back to doze away some of the hours. While his companions slept, Blair devised some tests. Curious about their friend, whether the resemblance was really more than just physical.

With the five hour flight, even Blair wore down and napped. He was awakened by the announcement that they would be landing soon. He glanced at his companions, who were both blinking sleepily, trying to regain full consciousness.

"What's wrong, guys? It's a lot later here than at home, even later for you Mack. You should both be wide awake, still." Curious.

"Boredom from the travel, Chief." Mack replied.

"Where are you staying, Mack?" Jim asked.

"I've got a room at the Raddison."

Blair started to bounce in excitement. "So do we." He turned to his partner, "Are we renting a car, or are we being picked up?"

"Cab, Chief. I doubt if anyone bothered to tell Ray or Fraser we were coming."

"Well, I called and talked to Ben, I'm sure he told Ray." Blair replied. "But I didn't tell him when we were coming, only that we'd be there for the trial."

"You have friends here?" Mack asked.

"Yeah. Ray's a detective with the twenty-seventh district, and Ben's a Mountie at the Canadian Consulate. We first met them about a year ago. Then again about two or three months ago. We helped them catch a guy beating up his ex-girlfriend. Ben and I saw him hitting her, then Jim, Ray, and Lieutenant Welsh caught the guy." Blair explained.

"How come you only saw it?"

"Blair and Ben were unarmed. Being told to stay back, they climbed a building to a ledge and ran down the alley to see what was going on. While Ray, Welsh and I went down the alley, following the screams of the woman. By the time we got there, the woman was unconscious." He glared at his partner. "Neither man is very good at following instructions."

"But in this instance, it allowed the two of us to actually witness the guy hitting her." Blair countered.

"Well, I've got a rental car, if you want a ride?" Mack offered, changing the subject to avoid any animosity between his friends.

"That'd be great." Jim answered. Willing to drop the subject.

They collected their luggage, Mack checked out his rental car, and they piled in. Jim pulled out the map and navigated for them as they drove into the city to their hotel.

As luck would have it, their rooms were across from one another. Blair was bouncing in excitement. He wondered how their friends Ben and Ray would take to Jim's double. He could hardly wait. Unfortunately, it was quite late when they arrived, so the three of them simply ordered room service for dinner and ate peacefully in Jim and Blair's room, after which Mack said his good-nights and retired to his own room.

Mack woke well before dawn, his body still on Honolulu time, he felt like he had slept too long. Stretching carefully, still babying his damaged abdominal muscles which were always tight and stiff in the morning, he then got up and checked the hotel directory, locating the number for the in-house gym. He called and found them open already, even though it was barely five in the morning. He dressed in sweats and, tucking his card-key in a pocket, exited his room to go downstairs. He wasn't surprised to find Jim in the hallway.

Jim looked at him and smiled. "Why aren't I surprised?"

"Great minds think alike?" Mack answered, mirroring the smile. They went to the elevator and rode down to the basement where they found the gym. Each man working out in his own way. Their routines as remarkably similar as they themselves were.

They'd been at it about an hour, when Blair showed up. Both men were working with free weights. He shook his head.

"Aren't you supposed to be using spotters?" He admonished. "Especially, you, Mack. You could hurt yourself, you know."

"That's why I'm only pressing two hundred. I'm trying to build up my reps, so I'm using the lighter weight."

"Lifting your own weight is still too much when you're still healing. How do your abs feel after your workout? Or when you wake up, for that matter?" Concern making him snippy. Jim looked at them in surprise. He hadn't realized...

"Mack?" Finally realizing how hard the man was breathing, noticing the sweat soaking him. Jim put his own barbells back on the rack and stood up to confront their friend. "Hey..." Softly; taking the weights from him and setting them on the rack. "You had better not have been trying to keep up with me, man. It's been less than six months since you were hurt. Take it a little easier on yourself, OK?"

Mack wouldn't look at them. He closed his eyes, as faint tremors wracked his body. He'd known he was overdoing it, risking new injury, but he had been able to do so much more, before... But that was then. Now, he was lucky to even be able to function at all, and he knew it. But he missed the easy strength he'd had. Envied his friend his health and strength. He realized just how much pain he was in and clenched his jaws against it, fighting for control. Felt his friends reach out to him, flinching from them before they could make contact. Blair's eyes narrowed a bit, wondering...

"Mack? Talk to us, man. Please? Let us help you?" Blair's voice barely loud enough for his Sentinel to hear. Jim gave him a puzzled look. Blair's wide eyes answered him with his suspicions. Jim shook his head in denial.

"You can't. This is something I have to do by myself."

"No, you don't. The work, the exercises, yes. But shutting people out isn't the answer, man." Blair replied. "It would be a lot easier if you'd talk about it. Maybe we can help. If you don't ask, you won't know. How about it?"

Mack sighed. "It's OK. I do this once in a while. I forget I can't do what I could before, and I push myself too far. I'm all right." He sat up, still panting a bit. Finally opening his eyes and looking at the concerned faces of his friends. "It's OK, really." He insisted. He forced himself to stand, swaying a little, unable to suppress the soft moan of pain.

"Yeah, you're fine." Jim said softly, reaching out to support the man who looked like his twin. "Easy." Holding him, despite Mack's feeble attempt to pull away. He exchanged troubled looks with his partner. "Come on. Let's try the pool."

"No. I just need a shower. I'll be fine." Jim wasn't letting go, and Blair was closer, as well.

"You need to sit in a Jacuzzi for a while, man. Just relax."

"No. No hot water. Cold. I use ice packs. Heat just makes it worse." Mack replied. "Please. I know I screwed up. Let my head get too far ahead of my body. I'll be fine. Please?" Asking them to let him go. He hated feeling helpless and in need of assistance.

"OK. Let's go back upstairs and take care of you."

"I don't need..." Mack started, frustrated.

"No. Not need. We're just offering, man. Remember us? We're the ones on your side, remember?" Blair spoke softly.

Mack relaxed in Jim's grip, "Yeah. I remember. Sorry. Funny. I hate being coddled, like everyone at work's been doing, but at the same time, when the Captain finally gives me something important to do, I don't want to do it. I shouldn't take it out on you guys, though."

"Hey, depression is a big part of what you have to fight after an injury like yours. You're doing great. Just don't push so hard or so fast, OK? We don't want you to reinjure yourself, OK?" Blair grasped the bigger man's arm and spoke earnestly, maintaining eye contact.

Mack smiled. "Yeah. I know. Thanks." They hadn't told him he couldn't do anything, only that he needed to be more careful. A far cry from how he was treated at home. Everyone acting like he might break if he stubbed his toe. "Come on. Let's get back to our rooms, shower, dress, then I'm buying you guys breakfast." Carefully disengaging himself from Jim's gentle grasp, meeting no resistance. He smiled his gratitude to his double, then led the way back to the elevator.

"Where do you have to go, Mack?" Jim asked over their final cups of coffee.

"The twenty-seventh district. Gotta see a Lieutenant Welsh..." He looked at his friends, puzzled. "Isn't that the guy you were talking about?"

"Sounds like it. Our friend works out of the twenty-seventh." Jim answered.

"Fine. I can give you guys a ride. Check out the status of my prisoner, and go from there."

It was hard to find a parking place anywhere near the district house, but Mack finally found one in the alley. It was even legal. They made their way into the building and found the place a madhouse. There were policemen shouting, suspects screaming, victims howling. Mack shook his head in awe. "How do they do any work here?" He asked softly, not really expecting an answer.

"This is normal for them. Scary, isn't it?" Blair answered. "Come on. The stairs will be saf..faster." He started toward the concrete steps visible across the foyer. They passed the desk sergeant, who never even looked up, he was too busy trying to make some sense out of a drunk who wanted to confess to every crime from Mrs. O'Leary's cow, onward.

Upstairs to the third floor, it was minimally quieter. Phones ringing, voices slightly more subdued. Mack trailed behind his friends, trying to make some sense out of all the racket. He was nearly overwhelmed. Blair grabbed Jim's arm, placing his other hand on Mack's chest, stopping them. He pointed to a desk in a corner. There sat a slender blond, his shoulder holster on over his tee-shirt, no jacket, studiously ignoring the brouhaha going on around him, busily writing, checking his notebook, then transferring the information to a form. They made their way over to him. Jim spoke softly to Mack. "That's Ray. He's a good man. A good cop." Mack nodded in reply. They ranged themselves before the cluttered desk. Jim smiled.

"Man. This looks worse than Sandburg's room." The man's head shot up, eyes widening in recognition, then crinkling up from his pleased smile. "Jim. Blair...Jim?" Suddenly confused by the duplicate. "Man, I thought that filling out paperwork in triplicate was bad. They make you fill out your partner in duplicate? Or did you just use the copier?" He asked Blair. His visitors laughed.

"Hardly. Ray Vecchio, this is Mack Wolfe. From Honolulu PD. He's supposed to see the Lieutenant about a prisoner being extradited?"

"Oh, yeah. Uh..." He looked across the room toward his lieutenant's office. "He's still in a meeting." He stood up, grabbing vacant chairs from nearby desks. "Sit down, relax. Let me go see how long he's gonna be. Can I get you anything?"

"No, thanks." Mack replied for them all. Ray shook his head in wonder at how much this guy sounded like his friend. He went off in search of his superior.

"What a zoo." Mack marveled.

"I guess it's all what you're used to." Jim replied. He'd turned down all the dials in order to function. The noise was unbelievable. A young woman with dark hair and a form hugging outfit with a patch that read 'police aide' walked by, then stopped and stared.

"You guys waitin' for Ray?" Unconsciously shifting into a slightly seductive pose. She obviously liked what she saw. Her eyes drifting over each man, in turn. Blinking a little at the twins. "I'm Francesca. Ray's sister." She held out her hand. Mack shook it.

"I'm Mack Wolfe. This is Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. I'm here to see your Lieutenant Welsh, and they're here to..."

A prisoner, his hands uncuffed to put him in a chair suddenly broke free from the men escorting him. Screaming and striking out at everyone close to him, he managed to grab one of his escorts, a slender, dark-haired man who didn't seem to know what to do about the choke hold he found himself in. He was helpless as the suspect managed to get his gun from his belt holster, screaming and threatening everyone.

Most of the people in the room ducked for cover. Two, in particular, did not. Jim and Mack split, circling the hysterical man. Jim started talking.

"Just take it easy. You don't want to do this. Certainly not here. You hurt him and every cop in here is going to use you for target practice."

>From the other side, Mack added: "You don't want that, now, do you?" The man jerked around to see the second man. There was no way he could see them both at once. He had to turn to see each man individually. He knew he was seeing double. He shook his head, violently.

"Get back or he's a dead cop!" His voice softer, more deadly. He froze when he heard the click of a safety being released, right behind him. Felt the muzzle of the gun at the base of his skull.

"Drop the gun. And the cop." Ray's soft voice came from behind him. "You got three seconds, then I'm gonna see what kinda pattern your brains are gonna make all over the place." The man relaxed, just a bit, letting go of his hostage, holding the gun up by the trigger guard. The released officer took back his gun, still pale and shaken.

"Thanks, Ray."

"You're welcome, Dewey." He stood by until the suspect was safely re-chained to his chair. Leaving a lot of extra paperwork for the arresting detectives.

"Vecchio! My office." The lieutenant had returned during the incident. Sighing, Ray crossed the room to the glassed in office.

"Yes, Sir?"

"Good job out there."

"Uh, thank you, Sir. Ellison and Wolfe helped a lot. Kept the perp confused, gave me a chance to get the drop on him." He admitted.

"Ellison...Oh, yeah. The guys here for the trial. I can't believe that jerk pleaded innocent. Probably thought Fraser and, uh, Sandburg? Yeah, Sandburg wouldn't be around to testify. Lucky for us, they came back. I didn't know Ellison had a twin brother?"

"Uh, I don't think they're brothers. The other guy's name is Mack Wolfe. He's here for that extradition to Hawaii. You want I should get 'em for you?"

"Yeah. Why don't you do that. You might also want to rescue them from your sister." He added pointedly, staring through the glass at the bullpen.

Ray looked out, as well. Blushed slightly, and answered. "Uh, yes, Sir. Right away." He was out the door and across the room, before anyone else had a chance to see what was going on.

"Frannie, leave them alone. They're here on business." He gently moved her aside, out of reach of the visitors. She slapped him on the arm, hard.

"Where's your manners? Introduce me." Pushing at her hair with one hand, checking it.

Ray sighed. "Sorry, Guys, this is my sister, Francesca Vecchio. Frannie, these are some visiting cops here for a trial and an extradition. There, you've been introduced. Now, go find something useful to do, and get out of our faces, the lieutenant wants to see them and I don't think he really wants you there, got it? Good." He rushed through without a breath, then motioned the visitors to follow him to the Lieutenant's office. Francesca stood, hands on hips, and glared after them.

Once safely away and before they got to the office, Blair asked, "What was that all about?"

"She's, uh, my sister. She also likes to chase dark-haired guys with blue eyes. If she was a cat, you guy's would be catnip. Got it?"

The three visitors smiled. "Got it." In chorus.

Once in the office, the Lieutenant waved them to seats, not looking up from a file and the telephone conversation he was in the midst of. The three sat on the couch, and Ray brought over a straight-backed, wooden chair to sit in. When he finished yelling into the phone, Welsh turned to address the visitors. And froze, staring at the matched pair. Hell, they were even dressed almost alike in navy chinos and light blue shirts. He shook his head. "Thanks for the assist out there. Now...which one of you is which?" Totally confused.

Ray shook his head. "Sorry, Sir. This is Mack Wolfe," Correctly indicating the man in question, who stood and shook hands with the Lieutenant. "You've met Jim and Blair." Who also stood and shook hands.

"Good to see you again, Sir." Jim said.

Blair smiled and asked, "Had any more classes?" Bouncing at the memories.

Welsh chuckled, a dry, raspy, unused sound. "Not lately. But he pled guilty. I guess he didn't want to go to trial. It would have been a lot worse for him if he had. Thanks for comin' back for the other case. I'm kinda lookin' forward to seein' both you and Big Red up there on the stand." He turned back to the familiar looking stranger, shaking his head in confusion. "You two related?" He asked. Then looked confused when Jim and Blair burst into laughter. "What's so funny?"

"Sorry." Blair managed to get out past his laughter. "Jim and I are cousins. His Mom and my Dad are twins. I have no idea if we're related to Mack or not." Looking up at their friend. "Even if he isn't related by blood, he's still family."

"'Cause he's a cop?" Ray asked.

"Because he's a friend." Jim replied. Then, with a conspiratorial grin at his twin, "Besides, we have a lot of fun together." Which comment was met by a chuckle that matched his own.

Welsh shook his head in wonder. "I knew a couple of guys who looked enough alike to always be mistaken for each other, until one of 'em turned into a murderer and tried to frame the other guy. At least you're cops." Leaving the assumption that they were good ones hanging loudly unspoken. He turned to Mack. "So, you got stuck with the job of taking that squirrel bait back to Hawaii, huh. Lucky you."

"Squirrel bait?" Mack asked, puzzled.

"Yeah. The guy's a nut. Thinks he's some kinda scientist. Specializing in manipulating people out of their money, if you ask me." Mack looked puzzled.

"He's wanted for a string of murders near Waikiki. Kids." At the quick looks from both Blair and Ray, he sanitized it. "You don't want to know what that animal did." Ray and Blair exchanged glances, swallowed in sync, and turned pale.

Jim was watching their reactions. Grimly amused that the pair were as much alike in squeamishness as he and Mack were physically. "So, when's the trial?" Changing the subject for the two younger men.

"Started yesterday. You'll, hopefully, be up tomorrow. If we're really lucky, you should be on your way home within a week." Welsh replied. Turning back to Mack, he asked, "You want to talk to the prisoner?"

"Not especially. Is he fighting extradition?"

"Yeah. He's got another court date this afternoon. I'd love to know how some of these scumbags can afford such expensive lawyers."

"Don't worry. Stella's handling the guy we caught beating up his lady friend. He's just about good as nailed. Who's handling the extradition?" Ray asked.

"Stella's doing that one, too. She's good. Barring any complications, you should have your man in a day or two. Sorry about the mess. He managed to get a lawyer with enough pull to stall it. But only for a day or two." Welsh said.

"Not a problem, sir." Mack responded. "All we're concerned with is getting him back to stand trial."

"Yeah. He's looking at life, there, isn't he?"

"Yes, sir. Hawaii doesn't have a death penalty. Sometimes I wish it were otherwise, but, that's how it is."

"Hey, whatever works. You want to go to the hearing?"

"If you think it will make any difference."

"Hey, they may have questions for you. You do have all the papers in order, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir. Right here." Mack stood and handed a thick envelope to the Lieutenant.

Welsh opened the package and skimmed through the paperwork. He looked at Mack in surprise. "You're a lieutenant?"

"Yes, Sir. Homicide, mostly."

"Impressive." Glancing at the information in the file. "Hell. Looks like an open and shut case from this."

"Pretty much, Sir. At least, we hope so." Mack spoke softly.

Looking at the visitors, Welsh couldn't help asking: "So, where do guys know each other from?"

"We met what, about eight, ten months ago?" Jim asked.

"Well, It's June, and we met last fall; so, yeah. Something like that, the second time was five or six months ago." Mack replied.

"You sure you two aren't related?"

"Not to our knowledge, no, Sir." Jim said.

Welsh looked up to see Stella Kowalski just outside his door. He motioned for her to come on in. Ray and the visitors stood when she entered. She smiled briefly at Ray and looked with great interest at the strangers. Welsh performed the introductions.

"This is Ellison and Sandburg, here for that guy who beat up his girlfriend, and the other one is Wolfe, on the Hawaii extradition."

She shook hands all around. Looking puzzledly at the apparent twins. "Uh, are you two..."

"No, they're not, Stella." Ray interrupted tiredly. She spared him a scathing glance, only to meet his eyes gazing blandly back at her. She blinked in surprise at his reaction.

"Well, do you have your paperwork for the extradition Mr. Wolfe?"

"Yeah. Here." Taking his cue from his friends' reaction to Ms. Kowalski, he kept it coldly impersonal, handing her the envelope he had retrieved from Lt. Welsh. She quickly looked through the documents. Pleased, she looked up.

"This looks to be in order. The hearing is at two o'clock, if you could meet me at the courthouse a little before, we can go over the case and get it all done."

"That's fine. I'll meet you then."

She turned her attention to the other visitors, "You're set to testify, hopefully, tomorrow. Barring any heroic displays from the defense, you should be finished within a week." She smiled, a little surprised when the return smiles were a little distant. She cast a puzzled glance at her ex-husband, but didn't see anything.

"We'll be there." Blair confirmed.

With nothing more to say, she bade them all good-bye and headed out.

"Well, if there's nothing else?" Welsh asked.

"No, Sir." Ray replied, standing. The others following his lead, stood as well and followed him out.

"So, what would you guys like to do?" Ray asked, as they settled back around his desk.

"Well, we're free until we have to meet Ms. Kowalski." Jim replied. Mack looked at him in surprise.

"You want to go to the extradition hearing?"

"Sure." Blair said. "Can you imagine your prisoner's reaction to the two of you?" Bouncing a little, even sitting down. Jim chuckled.

"Some times, Sandburg, you remind me of a kid with a new joke book." Meeting Mack's eyes, he smiled. "Unless you don't want us there?"

"No, no. That's fine." Secretly pleased that he wouldn't be stuck alone in this strange large city.

"Well, I got a couple of victims to interview, so, unless you want to tag along, I'll see you whenever." Ray said, gathering up his notebook and preparing to leave. "I'm taking lunch over to the Consulate, if you want to come. I'm sure Fraser would want to see you." Smiling at Mack as well, to include him in the invitation.

"Well," Jim began, exchanging looks with his friends, who nodded their agreement, "We don't have anything else to do, so why don't we tag along with you? That way, after lunch, you can drop us off at the courthouse."

Ray's brilliant smile was their answer. "Well, then, come on. Let me call Fraser and tell him about the change in plans, then I'll have to check out a car, but that'll only take a couple of minutes." The visitors tagged along with him, amazed at how anything could be accomplished in the seeming chaos of the station. Ray kept up an ongoing patter, keeping his guests amused with tales of the local goings on. Some of the dumber crooks and their antics, as well as faux pas by himself and his fellow officers. His visitors stayed in the car when he went to interview his first victim. He was gone less than fifteen minutes when he returned. The second interviewee, was a construction worker, on the job. They all got out of the car, the three visitors leaning against the car and watching as Ray questioned the man. The man became belligerent, and Ray was forced to defend himself, ducking a wild swing and answering with a beautiful right cross that laid his assailant out cold on the ground. When the man's friends approached to retaliate, Mack, Jim, and Blair moved over to back up the single officer, effectively backing down the approaching construction workers. Ray wound up placing the man under arrest for assaulting a police officer. Jim suggested to him that the man had lied about having been robbed. Ray grinned up at him. Trusting Jim's 'feeling'. Questioning the man further, with the 'twins' behind him to add their size and attitude to his questions, he discovered that the so called 'victim' was actually just trying to make up an excuse for gambling his pay away. Ray called for a patrol unit to take the man into custody.

Stopping at the deli to pick up lunch, The four men were laughing and joking. Mack fitting in very well with the others. Arriving at the consulate, Ray led the way to the conference room where they usually had lunch. Both Turnbull and the inspector were a little nonplused upon seeing Jim's double.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Leftenant Wolfe." Turnbull smiled while shaking the visitor's hand. "You bear a remarkable resemblance to Detective Ellison. Are you by any chance, related?"

"Not that we know of." Mack replied, smiling at the odd young man. The inspector seemed unable to tear her eyes away from comparing the pair.

"It's a remarkable resemblance. Do most people have difficulty telling the two of you apart?"

"Yes, ma'am." Mack replied. "Although, Blair doesn't have any trouble, nor, apparently, does Ray."

"That's only because you haven't tried to trick me, yet." Ray replied with a smile. "You're so much alike, even your laugh is the same. It's kinda eerie, ya know?"

"That must be very disconcerting." Thatcher agreed.

"I apologize for my tardiness." Ben Fraser said as he entered the room, taking his usual place at the conference table. He sat down, reaching for his sandwich. Looking up, he froze. "Ah, Jim?" Very tentatively.

The others had watched in amusement, his reaction to the duplicate of his friend. Diefenbaker was carefully sniffing the pair, deciding for himself who was who. Blair and Ray exchanged delighted grins. Ray finally let his partner off the hook. "Jim's the one on your right. This guy, is Mack Wolfe, from Hawaii. He's here for an extradition. You shoulda seen the lieutenant's face when he saw them." He chuckled. Glancing slyly at his partner, "Not to mention Francesca." Smirking when Ben flinched.

Once the shock wore off, lunch was its usual success. The Canadians amused by the antics of the Americans. The Americans confused by the very dry wit of the Canadians, particularly Turnbull's apparent stupidity.

Drawing Fraser aside, Mack whispered, "Please, tell me he's not really as dumb as he acts."

Ben looked at him, sadly. "No. Worse." Mack just stared at him in disbelief.

After lunch, they headed for the courthouse. Stella was pleased to see them so early. They sat in the hallway outside the courtroom, waiting for the doors to be unlocked for the afternoon session. She started to brief Mack on what would happen. She had spent the morning going over his documentation, and could see no reason for the judge to deny extradition. When the doors opened, they all filed in, taking their seats behind Ms. Kowalski.

It went down exactly as she said it would. When the prisoner was remanded into custody to await the flight out, he suddenly exploded into action, leaping up and throwing his lawyer's briefcase at the bailiff, snatching the man's revolver from his holster and threatening the spectators; grabbing Stella for a shield. They were caught flat footed. Jim and Mack were totally unprepared, by the time they reached for their guns, their perp already had Stella in a headlock, the gun waving between the doubles, not sure which way to go. Ray was lost in the background. He had his glasses on, for a change, as he had been quietly playing a pencil game with Blair during the hearing. He carefully moved to the side, while the prisoner was screaming about how he wouldn't go back. He kept threatening Stella. Ray couldn't help himself. Drifting further to the side, he finally had a good angle on the man. Drawing his pistol, he released the safety, aimed, and fired. Stella suddenly found herself free, as her captor slumped to the floor.

Pandemonium broke out as bailiffs and court officials ran about screaming. For Ray everything moved in slow motion. Ray saw the bullet hit the man, his arms thrown back from the impact, his gun sailing away as he lost his grip. Turning shocked eyes on Ray's, he blinked, then seemed to realize what had happened as he fell, bouncing slightly when he hit the floor, his head rolling loosely on his neck, his eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Stella, turning and screaming at the sight of the dead man. Jim and Mack grabbing Stella away from her fallen assailant. Blair coming towards him, reaching out to grab his shoulder, saying something, but he couldn't hear, the roaring in his ears from the report of his single shot, echoing. He couldn't really focus on anything but the sightless eyes staring up at him from the man he had just killed...

"Ray! Ray! It's OK, man. Come on, Ray. Talk to me. Look at me, Ray. It's OK. You did fine, man." Finally, Blair's voice broke through the fog he found himself in. He looked at the smaller man, then back at the body on the floor. Body. He had just killed this man. He...

He managed to pull away from Blair before regurgitating his recently eaten lunch onto the tile floor. Blair was right there with him, holding him, supporting him as he retched. Murmuring soft reassurances as Ray struggled to regain his composure and control. Blair's soothing, Guide-voice finally reaching him. Helping hands guiding him over to a chair, pushing him down, telling him to take deep, slow breaths. Finally reaching him. He sat there, gasping, holding his sore abdomen, caused by the bout of dry heaves after he lost his lunch. Blair was rubbing his shoulders and back, talking in a soothing tone of voice. Telling him to take it easy, to relax. Finally, he was able to take stock of what was going on around him. Stella sat nearby, pale and trembling. Almost as shaky as he was. Their eyes met. His, shocked and horrified. Hers, surprised and relieved.

"Thank you, Ray." She whispered.

"You're welcome." Ray whispered back. Turning away and refusing to meet her eyes any more. Trembling at the horror of what he had done.

"Good job, Ray. Mack told him softly, as he sat beside the trembling younger man. "Hey, you OK?" Reaching out a hand to grip the slender shoulder.

"No." Ray managed to choke out. "I'm not." He was staring at the body, again. Mack looked in consternation at the others, his expression questioning. Jim was the only one to recognize the symptoms.

"Shit." He mumbled. "Ray?" He came over and sat close beside the stricken man. Placing one arm around the thin, trembling shoulders, he began to speak in a soft, penetrating voice. "First time, huh? Tough, isn't it." He kept talking, not expecting any answer. "I remember every one. It's something that happens. I'm sorry it had to happen to you, kid. It's OK, Ray. It's all right if you want to lose it. If you can hold on for a while, we can go someplace private. It's OK, man. I understand." He pulled the shocky younger man closer, nearly enveloping him in his embrace. "Shhh, It's going to be all right. Poor Stella. She came real close to getting killed, didn't she. Good thing you were here. He was so focused on Mack and me that he never even looked at you. Good thing you were here. I wish I could say that everything was going to be all right, Ray, but I can't. Nothing will ever be the same again. You did your job. You did what you had to, to save an innocent life. If I could have done it, I would have, Ray. I'd have prevented you having to do this if I could have. Easy. Easy..." Holding him as he suffered another bout of dry heaves. Rubbing the bony shoulders and back, trying to soothe the tormented soul of the slighter man. Understanding that there really wasn't a whole lot he could do to help. Wishing that there was...

Blair and Mack exchanged horrified looks at the realization that Ray had never killed anyone, before. Blair moved closer to his distraught friend, adding his own arm around the thin, trembling body, offering his comfort, as well. They let the court officials handle the rest of the situation. The three visitors concentrated their attention on their friend.

When Lieutenant Welsh arrived, he took one look at the scene and told Huey that he'd take care of Ray, personally. Huey nodded, Dewey began to protest, but was pulled away by his larger partner.

"How is he?" Welsh asked Mack.

Mack gave him a sad smile. "About as well as can be expected, considering he just killed his first man. He didn't have much of a choice. The guy heard the judge say he was going back to Honolulu with me and went ballistic. He managed to get the bailiff's gun, grabbed the State's Attorney, and threatened everyone, using her as a shield. Fortunately, he was so focused on Jim and me, that he didn't even notice Ray. Ray got to where he had a safe shot, and one was all it took." He looked into the older man's eyes, "After he was sure Ms. Kowalski was safe, he lost it. I remember what that was like."

"Yeah. So do I. Even after twenty-five years. This sucks." Looking sadly at his distraught detective. He moved closer to the huddled group. "Good job, Vecchio." He said gruffly, but not unkindly. Gently reaching out to touch the younger man. Jim raised his head to look at his friend's superior. They exchanged nods of understanding and acceptance. "Look, take the rest of the day off, Ray. Go someplace with your friends and relax. OK?"

Ray didn't acknowledge him, but Jim smiled and nodded. Welsh went back to supervising the clean-up operation. "Take care of him, guys. I don't want to lose him over this." Were his parting words.

Once the body was covered, they managed to get Ray to move, keeping closed ranks around him, protecting him from any and all who might want to talk to him. They led him from the courthouse and out to his car. Mack got behind the wheel, Jim and Ray in the back seat, Blair in the front passenger seat. Mack looked at Blair and then met Jim's eyes in the rear view mirror.

"So. Where should we go?"

"The consulate?" Blair suggested.

"No. I don't want to go there." Ray gasped. It was bad enough that he was crying, he certainly didn't need Fraser or the others to see him like this. He huddled in the corner of the back seat, trying to shrink down and away from everyone and everything. The tears silently tracking down his face. He thought he might die from terminal embarrassment.

"Let's go to the hotel. We can talk there." Jim decided. He reached for Ray, but Ray was trying to distance himself.

"Talk to us, Ray." Jim coaxed. "Mack and I have been where you are. We know how hard it is."

"But you got over it, right?" Ray was in one of the chairs in Jim and Blair's room. Trying very hard to keep himself together.

"Not really." Mack replied. "It's never easy. I've never gotten used to it. I hope I never do."

"But you don't bawl your eyes out or toss your cookies, either." Ray insisted.

"That just shows how callus and unfeeling we've become." Jim said, softly.

Blair looked at his three miserable friends. "Hey, guys? I think that the fact that you feel bad for Ray says a lot for how feeling you are. I've never gotten used to seeing dead people, I've certainly never been in the position you're in, Ray. But I've seen you. You're a good cop, man. A good person. The fact that you're hurting over what you had to do shows how good a man you are. What would have happened if you hadn't done what you had to? Some innocent person could have been hurt, or worse, killed. I saw how you looked at Stella. How you still feel about her. He could have killed her so easily. You'd feel a whole lot worse if anything had happened to her, or if anyone else had been hurt. You did good, man. It's OK to hurt and be sick about it." He looked at his partner and his double, asking them to help reassure their stricken friend.

"Blair's right, Ray." Jim began. He abruptly turned toward the door, a puzzled look on his face. Blair, seeing it, went to open the door, revealing Stella Kowalski on the other side, still debating whether or not she should knock.

"Ray's here, Ms. Kowalski." Blair informed her.

"Oh, um, I, well, I asked the lieutenant where Ray was, and he suggested he might be..." Realizing that her question had already been answered, she blushed. "How is he?"

"Pretty upset, still. Come on in. We were just talking to him about it." Moving out of the way so she could enter. She looked worriedly at her ex-husband, finally approaching and crouching in front of him, looking up into his face.

"Ray? Are you going to be all right?" She asked, softly.

"Sure. I'll be just fine. Thanks." Wanting nothing more than to be held by this woman he still loved. She reached out and touched his cheek. "OK, well, I just wanted to check on you. Make sure you were going to be all right."

"Yeah. Thanks." Still not meeting her eyes. Helpless to help him, and a little frustrated, she rose to leave.

"Thank you, all, for today." She wanted to say more, but didn't know what or how to say it. Smiling a little sadly, she left.

Mack was confused. "That didn't make a whole lot of sense to me." He murmured, softly.

"That's because you didn't know that she's Ray's ex-wife." Blair informed him.

"Ouch." Mack whispered, hoping the distraught detective wouldn't hear him.

They kept physical contact with Ray, constantly speaking soothingly, encouragingly. Trying their best to comfort and bolster the anguished detective.

Blair ordered food in, but Ray was too upset to be able to eat. It was early evening when the phone rang. Jim, being closest, answered it.


"Uh, hi. Is Ray there?" Came the tentative female voice.

"Who is this?"

"Uh, Francesca. Vecchio. His, uh, sister?"

"Oh," His voice softening. "Yeah. He's here. Do you want to talk to him?"

"Well, Ma wants to know if he's coming over tonight? We heard about what happened, and, well, we remember when Ray...shit." Silencing herself.

"It's all right, Ms. Vecchio. Blair and I know. Let me ask him." He turned to the quiet, withdrawn younger man. "Ray? Francesca wants to know if you're going to your mom's?"


Jim waited for anything else forthcoming, then turned back to the phone. "He said no."

"Yeah. I figured he would. Look, Ma's made somethin' special; would it be OK for me to bring it by? There's plenty for all of you, I just thought that, well, maybe..."

"Sure. Come on by. It couldn't hurt. You might even be able to help."

It was nearly an hour later when Francesca arrived with a pan of stuffed manicotti, as well as plates and utensils. She set the steaming hot dish on the table, and served everyone, chatting inanely about nothing in particular. Mack, Blair and Jim sniffed appreciatively at the wonderful food, watching in hope as she took a plate to her 'brother'. Ray hadn't even looked up once, he was so wrapped up in his own misery.

"Ray?" She knelt before him, holding the plateful of manicotti practically under his nose.

"I'm not hungry." He whispered.

"Ma told me to hold you down and force feed you if necessary. It's not good for you to miss out on one of Ma's best dishes, you know." Resting her elbows on his thighs. One hand holding up the plate, the other reaching out to gently stroke his tear-streaked cheek. "C'mon Ray. Please? You don't want me to get into trouble with Ma, now, do you?" Cajoling and wheedling, she finally convinced him to at least try a bite, holding up a forkful in offer to him, feeding him.

When his stomach didn't rebel immediately, he took another bite, allowing her to feed him. After several bites, he glanced around for something to drink. Blair handed him a glass of milk, shrugging at the puzzled expression Ray gave him.

Sipping the ice-cold milk, he looked at Francesca's worried face, hovering over him. "I'm OK, Frannie."

"Yeah. Sure you are." She said softly in reply. "But you will be. You're tough. You've been through worse than this." She encouraged him. Sitting on the floor beside him, leaning against his leg, she again offered him a bite of the stuffed pasta. Blushing, he accepted it. Jim, Blair, and Mack faded quietly into the background, watching the interchange.

Mack was confused. Glancing at the engrossed couple, he quietly asked his friends "I thought she was his sister?"

Blair grinned at him. "Well," He glanced over to Ray and then exchanged a questioning look with Jim, who shrugged, noncommittally. Deciding, Blair explained. "He's really Ray Kowalski, he's pretending to be Ray Vecchio, who is deep under cover with the mob, working some kind of sting with the Feds. He's done a pretty good job, from what we've heard. Up to and including some pretty awful stuff when there was a question about whether or not he was really Ray Vecchio. He survived, and the bad guys stayed convinced that he's really Ray. Most of the time, I guess, they really do act like siblings, but..." He shrugged.

"Yeah. I understand." He looked at the engrossed couple and smiled at his friends. "Looks like they're becoming more than just brother and sister."

"Well, Considering how his ex treats him, I'm all for it." Jim muttered.

"Hey, just because your marriage didn't work out..." Blair began.

"Hey, mine didn't, either."

"Oh, no." Blair moaned. "Don't tell me you were married for just a couple of years, too?"

"Well, yeah. It was about six, or seven years ago. She's a reporter. It didn't work out. She got everything."

"Figures." Blair shook his head in disbelief. "Are you friendly?"

"No way."

"Oh, good. At least Jim and Carolyn still like each other." Blair sighed with relief. "I don't know if I could handle you two being that identical."

The pair chuckled, softly. Looking at each other with matching smirks. Then, Jim looked serious. "So, what's going to happen when you go back empty handed?"

Mack shrugged. "I don't see a problem. Personally, I think dead is better than spending twenty or thirty years behind bars at the taxpayer's expense."

"I hear that." Jim agreed.

It was no real surprise when Francesca eventually convinced Ray to go home with her. She kept an arm around him the entire time they were saying their good-byes; showing her support and concern for Ray. They agreed to take the car back to the station in the morning for him and pick up Mack's rental car then.

Blair was smiling when the couple left, hand in hand. She had brought a bag to take the dishes home in, which Ray insisted on carrying for her, while she carried the leftovers.

"Sometimes, it's like he's younger than you are, Chief." Jim said softly to his partner.

"Yeah." Mack agreed. "They make a cute couple, though."

"They do at that." Blair agreed.

"Well, I'm going to hit the rack. I'll see you guys tomorrow?" Mack said.

"Meet you in the gym?" Jim smiled.

"Yeah." Casting a calculating glance at Blair, "I promise not to overdo it again."

"Good." Blair replied, with a smile.

"Good night."

Ray was back at work when they arrived the next morning to exchange cars. He looked tired, like he hadn't slept very well. But he smiled upon seeing them.

"Hey, guys. How's it goin'?" he greeted them.

"Good. We brought back your car." Mack said, handing him the keys. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired. I didn't sleep very well, last night."

"Here, Ray." Francesca said, handing him a cafe mocha. She smiled at the visitors, who noted that she had obviously not slept well the night before, either.

"Good morning Ms. Vecchio." Jim said, as the three men all smiled at her, exchanging knowing glances.

"Francesca, or Frannie, please." She smiled up at them, but they all noticed that she added none of the body language she had so unconsciously performed the previous day. Obviously, she had lost interest.

"Well, we need to get to court. Maybe we'll see you later, Ray?" Blair asked.

"Sure. I'll be here all day. I got desk duty until the head hunters clear me."

"That's not going to be a problem, Ray." Francesca insisted.

"I know. I just want it over with." Ray replied. "I also gotta be cleared by the department shrink."

"Still don't see a problem, Ray. It was a righteous shoot. With enough witnesses to earn you a medal." Mack insisted.

"I'll just be glad when it's over. Fraser's gonna be in court today, too. You guys want to go out for lunch?" his tone hopeful.

"Sounds good to me." Mack agreed, with Jim and Blair nodding their agreement.

Stella smiled warmly at them as they approached her outside the courtroom. Constable Fraser was dressed in his formal red serge, for the occasion. They all sat together, waiting to be called.

As the arresting officer, Ray was called first, his testimony was quietly and confidently given, with no hesitation. The defense lawyer had only one question.

"Detective Vecchio, what prompted your search for the defendant?"

"Constable Fraser and Detective Ellison heard the victim screaming for help."

"From down the cul de sac, around a corner into the alley, around another corner and down the street. How far away would you say you were?"

"Maybe a couple hundred feet."

"There was traffic?"


"Yet, when they indicated that they heard someone scream, you followed them blindly?"

"No, sir. I followed them knowing that their hearing is better than average. That they are both dedicated to their professions as police officers, and that neither man would lie to me."

The lawyer had no response to that.

"Tell me, Mr. Sandburg, you heard the woman scream?"

"Yes, sir."

"When was that?"

"When we reached the alley. There was one long scream, which was stopped abruptly. Constable Fraser and I were admonished to stay behind the others, as we were both unarmed. We spotted a ledge on the long building on the left of the alley, with an easily accessible fire escape ladder leading up to it. We climbed up and ran down the ledge, getting to the area opposite the cul de sac, where we, I saw the defendant hitting the woman. She was still struggling, weakly, and I could hear her begging him to stop."

"How far away were you from this?"

"Maybe sixty feet."

"Don't you wear glasses Mr. Sandburg?"

"Only for reading."

There was no shaking his testimony. Next called, was Fraser, who basically repeated Blair's testimony, except for one slight difference.

"How do you explain your ability to hear the victim from such a distance, when others were not able to?"

"I have very good hearing. I have been trained to ignore normal, everyday sounds and focus on the out of the ordinary, the out of place sounds. I may sleep through a thunder storm, but will awaken at the cry of a child in the next apartment. I've learned to tune out the normal city noises and therefore am able to hear the abnormal."

When asked to demonstrate, Fraser suggested that the two lawyers approach the judge, whisper something, and he would then repeat it to them. When he had done so, the trial was as good as over.

It went quickly after that. The jury didn't take very long to bring back their guilty verdict. They didn't even break for lunch. By two p.m., the verdict was in and they were through. Stella thanked them all.

"Thank you, gentlemen. That went much faster than I thought it would. She was smiling. She gently touched Ray's arm. "You OK, Ray?"

"I'm gettin' there. Thanks." He smiled at her, she noticed that it wasn't his usual, wistful, smile. She wondered if he was finally getting over her, finding herself a little hurt at the idea. She shook everyone's hand and bid them good-bye, thanking them one last time, before she turned and walked away.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starved." Mack stated.

"Me, too." Jim agreed.

"I could eat." Blair added. "Ben?"

"Sounds like an excellent idea. Ray?"

"What kind of food are you interested in?"

The general consensus came down to Chicago style pizza.

Ray took them to his favorite pizza parlor, and ended up ordering two pizzas. One extra-large combination, and one Hawaiian, with Canadian Bacon and Pineapple. Jim shuddered at the thought, much to the other's amusement. Ray and Mack thoroughly enjoyed their pizza, as did the others, theirs.

They discussed the trial, Mack showing a great interest in Fraser's exceptional hearing. Carrying on a discussion of Ben's ability to tune out normal sounds and pick out the unusual. He didn't seem to have any difficulty in accepting the idea.

Blair was giving his partner a rather pointed look. Mack caught it.

"What? What's wrong?" Concerned.

"Just how well do you hear, Mack?" Blair asked as softly as he could.

"I don't know. Average, I guess." Shrugging.

"Uh huh. How good is your eyesight?"

"Oh, that. I test at 20/10. Like that astronaut? Why?" Curious, now.

Blair was starting to bounce. "What about your other senses?"

"I don't know. Normal, I suppose, why?"

"What's normal? Can you tell what's in food from the smell or taste?"

"Well, sure. Some things. Like tomato and salt and stuff. Nothing unusual, I assure you."

"So, you only have enhanced sight and hearing?" Disappointment in his voice.

"Well, yeah, I guess. Why? What's this all about?"

The other members of the group were exchanging interested looks. Wondering the same thing Blair was. Understanding what Blair was really looking for.

"Oh, my studies. I'm always on the lookout for people with enhanced senses, for my diss."

"I thought you were studying closed societies, focusing on the police?" Confusion mounting.

"Oh, uh, well, that, too. This is personal." Casting a panicked glance at his partner for guidance. Jim sighed.

"He's really studying sentinels. Genetically predisposed people with five enhanced senses." Jim admitted, coming to his partner's rescue.

Mack stared at them both for a moment. Calculatingly. "Like you." It was a statement, not a question.

"Like me." Jim admitted. "Also, like Ben, here. Blair's my guide. He helps me control my senses. Ray provides the same function for Ben, well, not quite. Ben doesn't suffer from the zone-out factor like I do. Ray basically helps him by training him to use his senses, stretching and expanding his abilities."

"Zone-out factor? What's that?" They settled in, ordering another pitcher of beer, realizing that this could take a while.

"When Jim concentrates on one sense too hard, he 'zones out', loses contact with the outside world. Even stops breathing, sometimes. Part of my job as his guide is to bring him back from zones, or better yet, help prevent them."

"That's why you're always touching each other?" Trying to understand.

"Well, part of it, yeah." Blair agreed. "Touch; sound, talking to him to give him something else to distract him from total concentration on, sight for example. Jim can read a license plate from a quarter of a mile away." He added proudly.

"So?" Mack asked, not understanding the specialness of the ability.

"So? So, I can read a license plate from, maybe fifty feet, as can most people. How far can you read a plate from?"

"Two, three blocks, usually. It kind of depends."

"That's great, man! Working with Jim, we've been able to develop his abilities and refine them until he can spot a gun at half a mile, hear it cocked or chambered, and piggy-back his sight on his hearing to find the shooter. He's like a forensics lab with a brain. Finding evidence that the regular forensics people don't, or can't find, like the smell of a flower that they can't even detect. Or, or.." Trying to think up more examples, Jim interrupted him.

"Calm down, Darwin." Turning to his double. "It's apparently genetic. We recently found out that my mom and his dad are twins. From what we've found out so far, is that all members of the family exhibit either sentinel or guide abilities. When we leave here, we're going to a family reunion to meet everyone."

"You haven't met them, yet?" Confused.

"No. My mother left when I was seven, Blair only met his dad a few months ago. It was something of a shock to all of us." Jim admitted.

Mack stared at the two of them. "I can imagine." He grinned. "So, what are you thinking about it all?"

"It's exciting, and scary." Blair replied, Jim nodding his concurrence. "We're both looking forward to it, but we're not real sure about the rest of them." He grinned. "In fact, my dad didn't even know about me until after we met the second time."

"Say, what?" Mack asked, surprised.

"Yeah. It was pretty interesting. Anyway, we're headed for Ohio when we leave here, going to spend Independence Day with them. I get to test them for Sentinel and Guide abilities. I'm so stoked, but kind of nervous, too. I mean, there's so many of them." Smiling and bouncing excitedly in his seat. "This could give me enough data to keep writing and stuff for the rest of my life."

Ben and Ray smiled at their excited friend.

Mack glanced at Jim, reading the resignation on his friend's face. "So, Jim. How do you feel about it?"

"A little strange. Not so much about the Sentinel/Guide thing, just the confusion brought about by suddenly finding all those relatives. It's a little disconcerting, if you know what I mean."

"Yeah. I can imagine." Mack replied, just a little wistful.

"What about your family, Mack?" Blair asked.

"I have no idea. I was adopted. I'm originally from New Jersey..."

"Really? That's where I was born, too."

"Oh, man. This is too weird, guys. Please, don't have the same birth date." Blair pleaded.

The doubles looked at each other, brows furrowed in matching confusion. "Fort Monmouth." Jim whispered.

"July thirtieth." Mack whispered back.

"Oh, no. No. Nonononononono." Blair moaned.

"Oh, dear." Fraser added.

"You're kidding." Ray whispered.

"How?" Jim asked.

"Why?" Mack wondered.

"Noooooooooooooooooooooo." Blair wailed.

Blame the ending on Toby. She's the one who made this particular suggestion. The little imp.


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