Diagnosis Murder
"Double Trouble"
By Lucky_Ladybug


"Hi, Steve!" Amanda greeted the police lieutentant as he entered Community General Hospital. "What's new?"

"Hi, Amanda," Steve returned the greeting. "Well, I'm working on this rather puzzling case about a smuggler and murderer who's been operating in the L.A. area."

"Jewel smuggler?" Amanda asked.

"No, actually, he smuggles government documents," Steve replied. "I figure probably Ben Bradshaw—the murder victim—found the guy's identity and had to be shut up . . . permenantly."

"That's a good possibility," Amanda agreed. "Do you have any suspects?"

Steve sighed. "Not yet. Cheryl and I are investigating the possibility that it was an inside job."

Mark and Jack came along then. "Hi, guys," Amanda greeted them. "Steve was just telling me about his latest case."

"Oh. Any leads?" Mark asked.

Before Steve could answer, his cell phone rang. "Hold on a minute," he said, grabbing the phone. "Sloan here." He listened for a minute. "Okay, stay put, Mr. Winters. I'll be right there." He hung up. "That was some guy from the goverment building where the documents are being stolen. He thinks he may have some information. I've got to get out there on the double."

"Okay, Steve," Amanda said.

"Good luck," Jack added.

Steve nodded. "Thanks." He turned to go.

"Oh, Steve!" Mark called after him. Steve turned back. "Be careful," Mark advised.

Steve smiled. "Don't worry, Dad. I will."
****
When Steve got off the elevator, he noticed Jack outside getting into his car. That's odd, Steve thought. Wonder how he got downstairs so fast? But he had other things to worry about, so he brushed it off.
****
"Hello, Mr. Winters!" Steve called. "Are you here?"

Cheryl came out of a nearby office. "He's gone, Steve," she announced.

"What?" Steve said in disbelief.

Cheryl nodded. "He's not here. It looks like there was some kind of struggle."

Steve sighed. "So Winters was kidnapped."

"It looks that way," Cheryl agreed. She paused. "I found something interesting in his desk, though." She held up a little scrap of paper. "It's got the name 'Stephano Bartolli' on it."

"Stephano Bartolli?" Steve repeated.

"Yup." Cheryl shrugged. "That's all."

Steve took the paper and stared at the name scrawled on it. "We'd better run a check on this guy. He could be the one we're looking for."

As he and Cheryl left the office, neither of them noticed a figure in the shadows with black hair and brown eyes watching them.
****
That evening, Amanda, Jack, and Jesse went over to the Sloans' for dinner.

"What happened with that Winters guy?" Jack asked.

"He was kidnapped," Steve replied.
"Kidnapped?" Jesse repeated. "Whoa."

"Yeah. Probably by the smuggler," Steve said. "Winters may have left a clue as to who it is." He told about the scrap of paper.

"Did you find anything out about this Stephano?" Mark asked.

Steve nodded. "He has a record a mile long. He disappeared about five years ago. He's probably using an assumed name."

Suddenly something soared through the open window.

"Everyone, duck!" Mark yelled.

Everyone flew to the floor as a huge brick flew over the table and crashed on the floor near Jack.

"Hey, there's a message wrapped around it," he announced.

The others came over. "What does it say?" Amanda asked.

"It's addressed to Steve," Jack replied. "It's says, 'Abandon the case or you're dead.'"

Steve jumped up and ran out the door to try to catch whoever had thrown the brick. Seeing a fleeing figure down the beach, he dashed after him. Without warning, the figure shot a couple of bullets at Steve, who ducked and fired his own gun. Suddenly he heard the sound of a car motor and knew the person was making their escape. With a sigh, he turned around and went back to the beachhouse.

"What happened?" Jesse asked when Steve walked in.

"They got away," Steve said. He looked down at the brick again. "This must mean I'm on the right track."
****
The next day, Steve was at the station trying to find out more about Stephano when his phone rang. Impatiently, he picked it up. "Sloan."

"Steve, I'm in trouble!" Jack's voice came on the line.

"What? Jack, where are you?" Steve asked.

"I'm down by the old warehouse at Maple and Bombay," Jack replied.

"What, pray tell, is going on?" Steve demanded.

There were several crashing sounds in the background. "I can't explain over the phone, Steve," Jack said. "I just need you here right away!"

Steve sighed. "Alright. Hold on, Jack. I'm coming."
****
When Steve arrived at the warehouse, he didn't see anyone around. But he spotted Jack's car nearby.

"Jack!" he called. "Where are you?"

Suddenly something hard hit him on the head. Everything went black.
****
When Steve opened his eyes, the first thing he realized was that he was tied to a chair. "Oh, great," he muttered.

"Hello, Steve," a familiar voice said.

Steve looked around. Jack was standing in the doorway.

"Jack? What's going on here?" Steve demanded.

Jack only laughed. Suddenly Steve knew.

"You're not Jack!" he accused. "You're Stephano Bartolli."

"You're quite right." Stephano smirked. "I've been observing you ever since you were put on the case. I knew you were getting close to the truth, and I knew I had to do something, so I imitated your doctor friend." He grinned. "Not a bad resemblance, wouldn't you say?"

"You are only making things worse for yourself, Bartolli," Steve said. "You'll never get away with your plan."

"Oh, I don't know about that." Bartolli continued to smirk.

Suddenly a familiar face appeared in the doorway. Steve gasped. "Carter Sweeney!" he exclaimed.

"Well, so, Sloan, we meet again!" Carter cackled.

"Carter will see to it that everything goes according to plan," Bartolli laughed.

Before Steve could reply, a sharp needle was thrust into his arm. Once again, everything went black.
****
Back at Community General, Jesse, who had been out surfing, noticed Jack and went over to him.

"Hey, Jack, what were you doing out by that warehouse?" Jesse asked curiously.

Jack gave him a funny look. "Huh? I wasn't near any warehouse."

"I saw you," Jesse insisted. "When I was driving here from the beach. I also thought I saw Steve's car."

"Wait a minute!" Jack exclaimed. "How long ago was this?"

"Oh, about an hour or so," Jesse replied.

Jack considered this for all of two seconds, then took off down the hall. "Hey! Where you going?" Jesse called after him. But Jack was already in the elevator.
****
Jack found the nearest phone and called the police station. "I'd like to speak to Lieutenant Steve Sloan," he said.

"Steve isn't here," Cheryl's familiar voice came over the line. "He said he was going off to help one of his buddies. He said his friend called him from a warehouse."

"Which friend?" Jack asked.

"Oh, let's see." Cheryl paused. "I think he said his friend's name was Jack."

"Oh man." Jack said to himself, realizing what must have happened. "Look, Cheryl, this is Jack. I never called Steve."

"Uh oh." Cheryl knew instantly what Jack was thinking. "Steve's in trouble."
****
Jack arrived at the warehouse first. He instantly noticed a car identical to his own and also Steve's car. He crept up to the warehouse and looked in through the window.

Inside, Steve was surrounded by men with guns.

"Well," Bartolli was saying, "I'm afraid, my dear friend, that you know too much."

Steve, still a little groggy from the drug they'd given him, tried to sit up straight. They had partially untied him from the chair, feeling that he wouldn't try to escape before they could get rid of him for good. "I've heard that one before," he said.

"Well, we certainly can't allow you to go," Bartolli continued. Everyone raised their guns. "We might as well get it over with now."

Suddenly the door burst open and Jack rushed in. "Leave Steve alone!" he yelled. He leaped forward and tackled Steve, just as the guns started to fire. The ropes holding Steve to the chair came undone completely and they went tumbling backward and through a door, all the while with gun fire flying around them.

Steve crashed to the floor, hitting his head, and lay there, stunned at what had transpired. Everything had happened so fast. A split-second later, someone fell across Steve and lay still. "Oh no. . . . Jack!" Steve's last thoughts before blacking out were that Jack had died to save him.
****
"Steve! Steve, can you hear me?"

Steve heard the voice from far away. Slowly he opened his eyes and found Amanda looking down at him.

"Amanda? What are you doing here?" Steve asked.

"Cheryl called the hospital and said that you were in trouble," Amanda replied. "Are you okay?"

Steve sighed. "I guess so." Suddenly remembering something, he looked around urgently. "Where's Jack?" he asked. "Is he okay?"

Amanda nodded. "I found him sprawled on the floor. He was shocked unconscious by a stun gun, but he'll be fine."

Just then Mark rushed in. "Steve! Steve! Are you alright?"

"Yeah, Dad. I'm okay." Steve started to sit up, then winced. "I'm a little dizzy, but otherwise fine."

"I was so worried, especially when I heard that Carter Sweeney had escaped from prison!" Mark exclaimed.

"Carter Sweeney?" Amanda repeated.

"Yeah. That was a big shock to me, too," Steve said.

"Thank goodness he's back in jail where he belongs!" a familiar Brooklyn-accented voice declared.

Steve looked up to see Jack standing in the doorway.

"Jack!" Steve exclaimed. "I'm glad you're okay. I thought they'd gotten you."

Jack grinned. "I did, too, actually. How something like a stun gun got in the possession of murderers I'll never know, but I'm glad it did!"

"Thanks for saving my life," Steve said.

"No problem. You'd have done the same for me," Jack replied. "I'm glad we all got of this safely."

Everyone had to agree with that.