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 The Gray-haired Avengers


Chapter 2

Jack was sitting in his office, feet on his desk, hands behind his head. The frown on his face was indicative of the content of his thoughts. She tapped hesitantly on the door. "Colonel?"

He looked up. "Hey, Carter."

"Is something wrong?"

"No. Well...I dunno."

Sam couldn’t help but smile. "Need to talk about it?" The pained expression on his face had her chuckling. "Sorry."

"I was going through my files earlier..." He gave a sigh, stretched slightly, dropped his booted feet to the floor. Sat forward, rested his arms on top of the blotter, and linked his fingers together. Took a deep breath. "Casey asked about one of our missions before she joined us..." His voice faded again, his frown deepened. "I pissed him off. I mean, really pissed him off. I didn’t realize it at that moment...or maybe I did," he allowed slowly. "This...thing...just started to settle between us. This...tension..."

"Who did you piss off?" Sam asked gently.

"Daniel. When I killed that robot girl."

"Reese. Her name was Reese," Sam said quietly. Relenting even in memory to the determination that Daniel had shown...that the android be treated as a sentient being, and not just a collection of diodes and electrodes and capacitors and memory chips and fabricated parts. Could still remember the argument she and the archaeologist had had on the subject. She could also recall the moment during that argument when she’d taken a step away from the scientist she was, to view the android as Daniel did. In that moment, Reese had stopped being ‘just a robot’ to her.

"I know," Jack said quietly.

The softly spoken reply let her know just how much his actions had cost him...not just Daniel’s anger, but the taking of that sentient life. SG-1 knew very well how ‘real’ an android could be...had faced the artificially made copies of themselves. Had mourned the 'death' of the android Daniel almost as much as his android teammates had done.

"I didn’t have a choice, Sam," he continued. "She’d lost control of those damned things...I didn’t have a choice."

His eyes were begging for her understanding. The problem, Sam thought, was that she could see the issue from both sides...Jack’s desperation to stop the Replicators before they could replicate further and destroy the SGC, and as a result, the entire planet; Daniel’s desperation to believe in Reese, to offer her the chance to control her creations, to stop the destruction she’d unwittingly started. The chance to redeem herself. "I know," she said softly.

"He started pulling away...from me, from the team," Jack shook his head. "I was just thinking...if we hadn’t taken that wrong turn, if Daniel hadn’t gone to meet Casey, if she hadn’t come here...I don’t think the team would have survived. We were coming apart, and I didn’t know how to fix it." The pain that thought caused was evident in his voice.

Sam closed her eyes for a moment. The two missions that had followed that awful day...during which Jack and Daniel had snapped and snarled at each other whenever their paths had crossed...had been the most tense, uncomfortable missions she could recall. Neither had been particularly dangerous, just standard recon. The feeling of being shoved in the middle...Daniel was one of her best friends, Jack was her CO, and a good friend as well...was entrenched in her memories of those days. As well as those of her attempts at playing peacemaker - which had failed dismally. Teal’c had opted to pull into himself, rather than be dragged into the dispute. No doubt he’d been feeling as conflicted as she had. The tension had been so bad that as soon as her boots had hit the ramp of the SGC, she'd only wanted to escape to her home; to sit in solitude and wonder just what had gone wrong. "We’d have worked it out," she said softly, putting into words the mantra she’d echoed to herself daily...that SG-1 would ‘work out’ whatever had gone so wrong.

"You really think so?" Jack’s voice was plaintive, although the hope was in his eyes.

She lowered her gaze. Even now she shivered when she recalled the nights she’d sat alone on her couch, nearly sick with worry that her world had come apart, and that nothing short of a miracle would fix it. In that moment, standing there in Jack’s office, the fact that they’d found themselves in an alternate reality so soon after the events with Reese did seem, in retrospect, to have been that miracle she’d prayed for. "I’d like to think so."

Jack shook his head. "Best damned thing that happened to us. Getting tossed into that alternate reality," he explained when he noted Sam’s surprised expression. "Helped us find our way back to being the team we’d always been."

The team they’d always been. The team they’d eventually become, after days...weeks...months of struggling to learn to work together. Sam did her best not to laugh out loud. Snorted as she tried to contain her mirth. "Colonel, the first year we worked together, you spent half your time trying not to strangle Daniel, he spent half his time trying to get you to see the world...the universe...in colors, rather than just black and white. Teal’c was doing his best to be worthy of our trust, was desperate for Daniel’s understanding, if not his forgiveness; and I was trying to prove to all of you that I could handle the job."

He studied her for a moment. Couldn’t help but grin as memories disturbed from slumber played through his mind. "There were times that only the fact that you and Teal’c would have been witnesses kept me from shooting him."

Her laughter echoed in the room. "I know."

"We’ve sure as hell been through a lot, haven’t we? As a team, I mean."

"Yes, we have," Sam nodded. "Which is why I think that we’d have survived. You and Daniel would have worked everything out, one way or another."

"He’d have forgiven me, or beat the shit out of me, eh?"

She grinned from ear to ear. "Pretty much."

Jack looked at the folders sitting on the corner of his desk. His mission reports for the year before Casey had arrived in Colorado, in their lives. "I guess I was just sitting here thinking that if not for that skinny blonde seer, I might be retired again."

Now it was Sam’s turn to frown. "You really think it would have come to that?"

Jack nodded. "Pretty sure."

She shivered slightly. Contemplated the thought of Jack retiring, Daniel opting to remain on base and working on translations and examining artifacts...she was fairly certain that he wouldn’t have chosen to join another SG team...would he? Would Teal’c have remained on Earth, or would he have joined Bra’tac and the other rebel Jaffa? Could she have continued going through the ‘gate without her teammates? "Thank goodness for that side trip."

"My thoughts, exactly," Jack nodded. His conscience continued to poke at him. He really should talk to Danny about...things. Frowned mentally. He’d be so much happier to just leave well enough alone...

Sensing a need to change the topic, Sam dropped a form in front of him. "I need your signature on this. It’s authorization for me to order parts. For one of the devices the Tegerians gave us schematics for," she explained, when he looked up at her.

"Right. Why am I signing this instead of General Hammond?"

Sam rolled her eyes. "You should really read your email, Colonel. You’re now the person in charge of authorizing purchases for any experiments or equipment that’s built or modified."

Jack’s eyebrows shot up. "Since when?"

She snickered softly. "Two weeks ago. Surely the general discussed this with you."

"Well, yeah, he did," Jack admitted. Although he’d been convinced that it had been some sort of a joke...or a way to spur him into finishing the stack of paperwork that had been waiting on his desk. "I suppose this means there’ll be a steady stream of lab-rats coming in here, wanting something," he muttered.

"Probably. You might have to start staying in your office, sir," Sam teased.

"Carter, bite your tongue!" He scrawled his name on the form. "There ya go. Try not to spend more than we have."

"Right." Sam picked up the form, and with a flutter of her fingers, turned to hurry out the door.

Jack watched for a moment, until he could no longer see her. Shivered slightly from the effects of watching Samantha Carter walking away from him. The problem he’d been contemplating reasserted itself into his thoughts. With a sigh, he pushed himself to his feet. Might as well get it over with.




Casey had reached a point in the database that had left her so frustrated she’d opted to head to the gym. She was, she’d informed Daniel, going to beat the crap out of something, since beating Cupay - Incan god and the Goa’uld who was the focus of her ire at the moment - was out of the question. Daniel had moved to the lab, opting to work on one of the projects there...he would never admit out loud that he’d come to dislike working in his office if his Wife wasn’t at her desk.

Daniel looked up when Jack walked into the lab where he sat, trying to put together what seemed to be three separate tablets. The text was Goa’uld, but he’d noted several marks that appeared to be Ancient...whether they were words that had no equivalent in the Goa’uld language, or there was something more of interest, he wouldn’t know until he could actually read them. And he couldn’t do that until they were in the correct order.

"Hey, Danny."

"Hello, Jack." He watched for a moment. When it seemed that Jack was just going to lean against the doorframe and watch him, he returned his attention to the tablets...or rather, the tablet pieces...in front of him.

He’d never understand how Daniel could sit and stare at rocks for hours at a time. Suppose being able to read ‘em would make a difference. What he had to say, couldn’t just be tossed out. He needed to think of a good way to broach the subject. He stepped into the room. Examined the statuettes on the shelf beside his shoulder. No doubt there was a long...and boring...explanation of just what made these particular bits of clay...which looked sort of like dogs with women’s heads attached...special. And without a doubt Daniel knew every little detail. He moved toward the worktable, and the array of artifacts that covered the surface.

"Jack, something on your mind?" Daniel asked, feeling surprisingly patient with the colonel as he picked up or touched everything within reach.

"Not really. Well...sorta."

He leaned back, crossed his arms over his chest. Smiled slightly "Okay. What is it?"

"I’m sorry."

"Hmm. Sorry for what?"

"I really didn’t know...you couldn’t be sure...even now, I don’t think you can look me in the eye and tell me that you know...or knew, with one hundred percent assurance, that she was shutting them down." The words were out before Jack had time to more carefully consider what he wanted to say.

Even though it had happened over two-and-a-half years earlier, he knew in an instant what Jack was referring to...

The sound of gunfire...Reese going down, gaping holes in her body..."You stupid son-of-bitch!"

Daniel found himself back in the ‘gate room, trying to get Reese to trust him...to shut down the Replicators. It was their one chance to learn how the Replicators worked, so they could learn how to destroy the damned things. And possibly save the life of an android with the heart of a child. "She was. I know she was," Daniel replied, his voice low.

"Do you? Do you really know that?"

"Yes, damn it, I know that!" Daniel responded hotly...loudly. "She was shutting them down! She was gonna to go to sleep! I’d already promised her I’d be the one to wake her up as soon as we found a way to fix her."

"I didn’t know," Jack rasped. "I couldn’t take that risk!"

Daniel took his glasses off, tossed them onto his desk. Rubbed his hands over his face. "I know."

"I’m sorry."

"I know that, too."

"It’s not always easy, having to be second-in-command. To put the needs of others before the needs...the desires...of my team," Jack said quietly.

For the first time since the incident, Daniel faced the realization that, in that one moment, as Jack took aim and shot Reese, he was doing what was expected of him. Doing his duty. Whether or not he wanted to, whether or not he believed Daniel could get through to Reese, could get her to stop the Replicators before it was too late, Jack had been thrust into the position of having to make a decision. A split-second decision that could have brought on a world-wide catastrophe if he’d made the wrong choice. "I suppose it’s not," Daniel replied, just as quietly.

"I do trust you, Daniel. I’ve always trusted you. Well, since Abydos," he said, giving a small smile. "I trusted you that day."

"Damned strange way to show it," Daniel retorted.

"I trusted you. I didn’t trust her."

The admission shifted his view of the events slightly. Hearing the words...knowing that Jack trusted him...eased the bitterness that he’d felt; still harbored, however deeply it had been hidden...over the entire situation. "If you trusted me-"

"Daniel, if anyone could have convinced her...Reese...to shut down the bugs, it woulda been you. Never had a doubt about that. What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t take a chance on, was that she’d tell you what you wanted to hear, that she’d lie to you," Jack said.

Would Reese have lied to him? Was she even capable of lying to him? Daniel found that he wasn’t eager to examine those questions too closely. For fear of finding answers he didn’t want.

"Daniel, are we...um...well..."

His smile was genuine. "We’re fine, Jack. You’re my best friend. You’re an idiot at times. A pain-in-the-ass most of the time. But you’re my best friend."

The relief that Jack felt to hear the words was visible in his stance, and in his eyes. "Thanks, Danny."

Daniel nodded.

Jack glanced at his watch...tapped it twice. It gave him something to do, besides standing there feeling ridiculously sappy. "Hey, it’s after one. Feel like grabbing some lunch?"

"I promised Casey I’d take her to Sonic for lunch." That promise had been made when one of his meetings had been rescheduled for later in the week.

"We’ll take my truck. I’ll find Carter and Rocco. You find Radar."

The smile morphed into a grin. "Meet you topside in fifteen."

"Right." Jack shoved his hands into his pockets and sauntered out the door, whistling softly.

He’d done his best to push the entire incident from his mind. Grimaced mentally when he recalled the way he and Jack had avoided each other as much as possible after that...showdown. How it had seemed as if it were impossible for them to even be civil to one another off world. He’d been so damned angry...so certain that Jack had shot first, simply because that was his way. Shoot first, ask questions later. Just as he’d been certain that Reese had been shutting down those Replicators.

Now...what if Jack was right...what if the android...that frightened child, had changed her mind at the last moment? If she’d wanted to, Daniel thought, shuddering slightly, Reese could have easily killed him; she’d thrown him into a wall and nearly broken his wrist shortly after her ‘awakening’, and those wounds had been inflicted before he’d confronted her about her deadly creations. Had Jack’s actions saved his life? That question certainly changed his perspective of the situation...a realization he reluctantly admitted to himself.

The results of that horrible afternoon, however, couldn’t be changed; the bitter memories would always haunt him. Three weeks, almost to the day, of that afternoon, they’d been on their way to Ravanna, to meet with Jacob Carter about some mission the Tok’ra had wanted him to go on. He still didn’t know why Jack had insisted that the entire team go, when the message had been for him. Daniel had always assumed that it was Jack’s way of letting him know that the trust that they’d had was gone, that the military man didn’t believe he was capable of doing anything related to the SGC without supervision. Maybe, Daniel thought, he’d ask Jack for the answer to that question. Considering what he’d just learned, no doubt the answer would be surprising. Or, Daniel sighed mentally...maybe it wouldn’t be surprising at all.

He closed his eyes. Remembered walking up the ramp. The feelings of exasperation...wishing that Jack would just stay out of his way, and out of his life; of curiosity, eager to learn just what the Tok’ra had planned. Stepping into the event horizon, expecting to see Jacob Carter, to at least get the answers to his questions about the mission, even if he had given up on saving what was left of his friendship with Jack. Except, they’d wound up in a different reality. When it seemed as if they’d reached the end of the road...when they were certain they were doomed to die in a reality not their own, Jack had sought him out. That act alone had been a form of apology, Daniel thought. They hadn’t really said much. Just sat together in the briefing room of that alternate SGC. Then...then because his counterpart had been The Chosen One, he and his teammates had returned to their own reality. Safe and sound. Well, mostly. They’d been exhausted, and they’d all been feeling the physical strain of being in the wrong reality...thankfully they hadn’t experienced full blown ECF seizures. But they’d spent a day and half in the infirmary. Sleeping, mostly.

When they’d all finally woken up, and Janet had released them from the infirmary, they’d wound up going to O’Malley’s. He hadn’t questioned the shift back to ‘normal’...none of them had. They were, he supposed, all too happy to be back together to care about the how’s and why’s.

He smiled. The day after that, Jack had talked him into following his heart. Daniel had found his world turned upside down by the love of a beautiful blonde seer. And the bonds that had been there...that held the teammates together, were there once again. Warm and strong. The team...he and Jack...were like they had been before the tension had begun building between them.

It was atypical of Jack to address an issue, especially an emotional one, so long after the fact. At the same time, it was typical of him to want to make certain the ‘air was cleared’ between them. He smiled at the complex and seemingly contradictory man Jack O’Neill truly was. No wonder he’d never been broken. No captor in the world, in the universe, could ever figure out what made Colonel Jonathan J. O’Neill tick.

When Daniel left his office a few minutes later, he was whistling as well.




The first box to be dropped off was on Baldwin Street. Bob glanced down at the address. It was only a few blocks from the second drop, which in turn was only six blocks from the lovely old brick house, once the home of a wealthy Colorado Springs banker, now the location of a discreet fertility clinic. Couldn’t ask for an easier route, he thought, turning off Baker and onto 21st Street.

He frowned slightly as he gave another glance at the instructions for the first drop...nothing to indicate whether the homeowner was going to be there or not. Well, if no one was there, he’d leave the box somewhere in the back, and put a note on the front door telling the customer where it was located. He’d learned the hard way that too often equipment, even in nondescript brown boxes, turned up missing from front porches, especially if the public sidewalk was too near said porch. Better to take the box to the back, and let the customer know where to look. Saved him from having to explain the fact that his sheet recorded a drop when the customer called and asked where their new equipment was. So far, it had only happened twice, and the boss hadn’t made him pay for the missing items from his own pocket. Nope, not going to take any chances.

Pulling into the driveway of the gray bungalow with its crisp white trim, he couldn’t help but take a deep breath; the lilacs that lined the driveway were in full bloom.

He bounded up the steps of the porch. Rang the doorbell. Waited...waited...rang again. It seemed that no one was home. Poking his head around the side of the house, he was able to get a glimpse of what looked like a deck at the back. A very good place to leave the box.

Upon investigation, the cable repairman decided to put the box on the far side of the brick firebox and chimney...where it couldn’t be easily seen from the driveway. No telling if kids...he always suspected that missing equipment wound up missing because of kids too curious to leave things alone, and too undisciplined to understand that what they were doing was stealing...would wander up the driveway or not. He was getting ready to write a note when he noticed that the French door didn’t seem to be shut tight. He gave a push, and the door opened.

He stepped inside, put the box on the large coffee table beside an impressive chess set. Wrote out a hasty note explaining about the door, and that he would double check to make certain it was locked when he left. Tucking the note beneath the box, he wiggled the door handle to make sure the latch had caught. It had. He tugged the door firmly closed behind him.

Whistling softly, his mind given over to thoughts of fatherhood, and the hope that this clinic would have the answer than he and Sherrie were hoping for, he crawled into the sedan and went on his way.

It wouldn’t be long before he realized his presence at the house had been noted...and misconstrued...




The conversation had wandered, as happens when questions and observations are interjected, time passing swiftly as the three elderly women continued to talk. The coffeecake had been consumed. Then a break for lunch had been taken, the women enjoying the fresh vegetables from Emma’s garden...talk focusing on the food and the benefits of a garden.

Janelle took a deep breath. "Well, after that, Gary said he..." she said. She began to finish the story she’d begun hours earlier.

"Oh, that poor thing," Muriel sighed, wiping tears from her eyes when Janelle had finally finished. "Died of a broken heart, if you ask me."

"I totally agree," Janelle said. "And I feel so dag-gumb guilty! If only I’d paid closer attention to Gary’s letters to me at the time, I know I’d have put two and two together." She huffed a sigh of self-recrimination.

Emma patted the other woman’s arm. "You don’t know that for certain. Unless Gary had told you flat out what was going on, you couldn’t have been expected to know."

"Well, knowing that Casey suffered as a result of her adoption-" Janelle stopped short.

"I know about some of what Casey went through," Muriel said softly. "Daniel told me that she was abused."

"Heard some of it on the news, at least about the woman who adopted her," Janelle said.

"Me, too," Emma piped up. "I’ve never mentioned it. I figure if Casey or Daniel want to talk about it, they will."

Janelle nodded. "Gary is about beside himself dealing with the guilt...over what Brenda went through, and what Casey went through. If nothing else, if he’d at least have known about Casey, or been told about her, he could have contested the adoption and brought her home, raised her himself. He’d have done a fine job, too," she sighed.

"They’d have real memories," Muriel said softly, sighing as well. It had almost broken her heart, listening to the two as they ‘created’ memories to share...‘memories’ of the childhood Casey should have had.

Emma sniffed softly, her thoughts mirroring those of her companion, then rose to her feet, her intention to fill the carafe with water for a fresh pot of coffee. Situated as the houses were, her kitchen window had a view of the backyard of the Jackson’s home; as well as most of the driveway, up to the garage, which itself was setting in a back corner. She frowned when she saw the strange car in the Jackson’s driveway. "Muriel, did Daniel or Casey mention that they were expecting visitors today?"

"No, why?"

Janelle was on her feet, stood behind Emma, who was a good foot shorter than she. "Just what is he doing?"

The comment had Muriel on her feet, and peeking out the window as well. "Now I was just certain I locked that door!"

The three gray-haired friends watched with curiosity, and not a small amount of indignation, as the stranger stepped into the house, a small box in his hand.

"He left the box," Muriel noted, as the man came back out.

"Keep watching," Emma commanded, hurrying toward her telephone.

"He’s leaving!" Janelle announced.

Emma glanced at the phone. Then toward the window. Her decision was made in a flash. "Can you see the license plate number?"

Two pairs of eyes, with vision far less clear and sharp than either owner would admit to, swung toward her.

"Right. Can you at least tell what make of car it is?"

"Honda," Janelle said immediately. "My neighbor has a car exactly like it. Same color, too."

"Let’s go," Emma said, reaching for the purse she kept beside the back door. She opened the lid to the old, yellow cookie jar. Hoped that the keys she’d hidden from Caroline were still there. She reached inside, her fingers wrapped around the small pieces of metal. "We’ll follow him, find out where he’s going, and get a tag number."

"Whatever for?" Muriel asked, wide-eyed.

"Well, don’t tell anyone I’m telling you this, but General Hammond asked me to keep an eye on the kids’ house when they’re away. To let him know if there was any suspicious activity that he should know about."

"So we should call him," Muriel replied.

"And tell him what?" Emma demanded. "I need more information if what I tell the general is going to be of any use. Just telling him some strange man left a box in Daniel and Casey’s house isn’t much to go on."

The thought that that fact alone would warrant the arrival of an entire squad of Air Force Security personnel never crossed the minds of the three women.

"The police have those computers in their cars, I’m certain the Air Force can probably access the same...um...data...er...database," Janelle added.

"Well, if it’s anything like NCIS, I’m betting they have more access to secret information than the police would have. Daniel and Casey are involved in national security," Muriel said slowly, not quite as eager to become a detective as her new friends seemed to be.

"We’d better get a move on before we lose him," Emma said, already opening the door.

"We don’t have a car!" Janelle objected.

Emma grinned from ear to ear. "Oh, yes we do!"

"Do you have a license to drive it?" Janelle asked, grabbing her purse.

Muriel reached for her own handbag, and followed her companions out the back door.

"Nope. Do you?" Emma inquired. A licensed driver would certainly be more practical, particularly if any of Silver Spring’s finest decided to be over-vigilant. She’d already had a ‘run-in’ with the local police. It had been three years ago...the last time she’d driven the car, now that she thought about it. Still, she had no doubt they’d recognize her...or at least the vehicle she was driving. Not that she was about to mention any of this to her guests...no, they were new friends...and she still wasn’t going to mention any possible...difficulties.

"No. Darned doctor, anyway," Janelle muttered. She turned to look at Muriel. "Do you drive?"

"I never learned how," Muriel admitted. A fact that she now suspected was just one more ‘small’ way that Marvin had kept her totally dependant upon him, and under his control.

"Well, this is a matter of national security," Emma declared. Marching with the efficiency of a soldier going into battle, she made her way to the detached garage beside her home. And unlocked the side door. Hoped that the garage door opener wouldn’t decide to be temperamental...she was in a hurry!

The door swung up, and revealed a shiny red car. In fact, the Dodge Charger looked to be in showroom condition.

"Oh, my!" Janelle said.

Emma beamed. "This was my Henry’s pride and joy. We had one years ago...it was the first brand new car we’d ever owned. When he found this one, he restored it, made it exactly the way it had looked in 1966. He took such good care of it. Washed and waxed it every week. He had an old Ford truck he drove most of the time, but every week, on Saturday, we’d take a nice ride."

"It’s certainly bigger than the newer cars," Muriel mused, walking around to the side and peering into the interior.

"They don’t make ‘em like this any more, Henry always said," Emma nodded. "This car has a 426-cubic-inch displacement, four barrel carb in a V-8 HEMI, and a TorqueFlite transmission."

Janelle and Muriel continued to examine the car. "What does all that mean?" Janelle asked.

Emma frowned. "You know, I haven’t got the faintest idea. But it must be important, because Henry told everyone about it. As I recall, he had a bit of trouble finding some of the parts..." She glanced around. "We don’t have time to stand here yapping about the car. We have to find that punk and figure out just what he’s up to!"

The three elderly women piled into the car, Muriel automatically sliding into the backseat, Janelle into the passenger seat, and Emma behind the steering wheel.

"Have you driven this car before?" Janelle asked, as Emma reached for the ignition.

"Yep." Mentally crossed her fingers that they...more specifically the car...wouldn’t be noticed. Emma didn’t realize that the fact that she was driving a classic ‘Muscle Car’ would be certain to draw the attention of everyone they passed. She turned the key...the HEMI roared to life. With a satisfied nod, the woman checked the gas gauge. Good...still had half a tank from the last time it had been taken out. That had been last summer, if her memory wasn’t failing her, when Caroline and her husband Pete had taken it to a car show in Denver. Grinding the gears as she shifted from neutral into reverse, Emma looked over her shoulder. "Let’s get that punk!"

Leaves that had gathered in the driveway whirled skyward as the car bounded from the garage toward the street. Tires screeched against the pavement when the octogenarian stomped on the brake pedal to avoid hitting the Nissan parked across the street. The tires squealed again as Emma turned the steering wheel, shifted into first gear, and pushed the gas pedal almost to the floor; the car fishtailing slightly as she aimed it for the cross-street that connected Chapman and Baldwin Street.

"There he is!" Janelle yelled, pointing toward the intersection.

Muriel put both hands on the roof of the car, doing her best to remain in place as Emma whipped the Charger around the corner, in pursuit of the silver Honda Accord, grinding gears again as she shifted into second.

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