It paid to have connections, Jack thought as he entered the usually locked computer room. He had fifteen minutes-no more, and no less, to do a complete backup of the computer system. Normally, this might be a problem, but with the equipment at hand, technology so new as to be just past experimental, he could do it in just under twelve, leaving three for hacking in and cleanup. Fortunately, he had everything he needed to take care of that, so as he quickly attached the portable cable, the external hard drive, and entered the essential information. Seconds later, the machine was humming, taking care of business, while Jack watched his watch and the door. With any luck, his contact, Jake Lowell, would keep the wolves at bay long enough to complete the task, and Jack could rip off what he needed to know.

Just then, his beeper vibrated, silently alerting him to the fact that things could be better, that his escape needed to be hastened. In short it was time to depart. Jack ripped the cable from the computer, catching his rubber glove on the edge of the desk. Stifling a curse, he grabbed the cable and shoved it in his pocket, and tossed the hard drive into the case he'd carried in. He snatched the CD from the drive, and shoved it in with the cable, heedless of the damage that might result, and then, turning off the machine, headed out the door. It was done, and he was home free.

So, why did he feel that there was something wrong? What had he forgotten???

Lucky Spencer awakened to find himself alone, and in the dark. It was kind of scary, he decided after a minute, not that he'd have admitted it to anybody else, so he lay very still, not daring to move. Gingerly, he tested his fingers and toes, then his ankles, and worked his way up his body, surreptitiously making sure that all his parts were in good working order. Moving his head, he blinked, but the darkness remained.

For a moment, he almost panicked, but then, an idea presented itself, A quick push of the light button on his watch, and he sighed with relief. He wasn't blind. Unfortunately, the light wasn't bright enough to do much, but he rose from what appeared to be an oddly constructed narrow bed, and carefully walked forward until he came to a wall. Taking off his watch, he held it in one hand, the light button down, using what little illumination it provided, moving along the wall until he came to a solid object. Careful examination revealed a chest of drawers, and seconds later, he was in possession of a lighter. One flick of his newfound Bic, and he had light! A bit more checking, and he found a candelabra with three candles. After lighting all of them, he held the candleholder out, looking more closely at the bed where he'd been.

Only, it wasn't a bed! To his dawning horror, he realized that he'd been in a coffin, and worse yet, another one rested a few feet away. Unable to stop himself, he ventured closer, bringing the candles to illuminate the face of the occupant.

"What the......??!!" Nikolas Cassidine sat up suddenly as a shocked Lucky Spencer backed away. "What are you doing in my room?"

"Your room?" Lucky asked, indignantly. "Yeah, I'll buy that. I should have known that it would come with twin coffins."

"What?" Nik, realizing that he was in a coffin, jumped out, backing away in disgust. "I don't understand. What's going on?"

"You tell me," Lucky said. Then, half-seriously, he asked, "We're not vampires, are we?"

Shaking his head in disbelief, Nik sighed, "No, you imbecile. We're not vampires."

"Then what's with the coffins?"

"How should I know? Maybe we're in a mortuary, or something."

"That's supposed to make me feel better? How'd we get here?"

"Since I don't know where 'here' is, I can't answer that. The last thing I remember is having milk and cookies in the kitchen."

"Remind me never to eat at your place."

"That won't be a problem, I assure you. What do you remember?"

Lucky paused. "I sort of remember seeing my-that is, our grandmother-in a limousine. I thought maybe Mom was with her."

"Was she?"

"I don't know. Everything gets foggy there."

"Then it appears that we've been kidnapped," Nik observed. "But by whom and why? Ransom?"

"Bad idea," Lucky said. "My Dad isn't gonna like anybody messing with me."

"Nor will Uncle Stefan. But, this makes no sense. Why us? Only a fool would kidnap a Cassidine."

"Yeah, well only a wacko would try anything with me." Lucky held the candle aloft and looked around. "I don't know about you, but I'm getting outta here."

"So am I," Nik agreed, following Lucky to the door which was, naturally, locked.

"Now what?" Lucky asked, looking at the dead bolt lock.

"Now we think," Nik told him. "There's something strangely familiar about this place."

"Makes sense," Lucky jibed. "You grew up in a strange place."

"Give it a rest," Nik ordered. "Our pasts are different, but our present is about the same. Somebody has kidnapped both of us, and has taken us to the same place. I'll be happy to argue with you some other time, but I'd prefer to do it under different circumstances."

"You talking truce?"

"Makes sense," Nik returned the phrase. "Unless you figure that you've been kidnapped by your side, which would worry me, were I you."

"Which fortunately, you're not. You pi**ed off your uncle lately? Or, Helena?"

"I haven't seen Helena for close to two years," Nik told him, "and at that time, we parted on good terms, but it would be unreasonable for the Cassidines to kidnap me. I'm the heir."

"Well, throw you a fish. Okay, Cassidine. Temporary truce. Very temporary."

"Okay. I'll go you one better. I'll swear a truce until we're both back on our home territory."

"That's magnanimous of you."

"And you?"

"Anything you can do, I can do better. I'll swear a truce that I'll watch your back, too."

"Partners?" Nik was skeptical.

"For the moment," Lucky assured him. "Consider this a temporary cease fire until we take care of this common enemy and return to our home bases."

"Done." Nik extended his hand and reluctantly, Lucky took it.


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