An idea that got in my head while watching Boyz Crazy and refused to leave. Please let me know what you think.

April 10th, 1988

Stan floored it, pushing his El Diablo to drive faster than it ever went before, a light groan in the back reminding him of his cargo.

"Hang in there kid! We've gotta get some distance before the cops start sniffing around!"

"Cops?" A bleary voice echoed.

"Long story short, we don't get along." Stan barked, even as his head spun. How the heck did he get himself in this mess? And how on earth was he going to explain his passenger?

February 22nd, 1988

Five years. Five years Stan had spent every night combing over that journal. Five years he'd been haunted by the naked fear he'd last seen in his brother's eyes. Five years, and what had he accomplished? Nothing. Nothing that mattered anyway. Sure, he'd kept Ford from losing his house. Sure, he'd managed to start a business that didn't get him chased out by an angry mob for once. Sure, he had learned more about physics and engineering than he ever had in school, but what did it matter? Ford wasn't back. Ford had missed out on five years of the life he should've had. And with the way Stan's progress was going? Ford was gonna miss a lot more.

Stan rubbed his temples as he willed the dark thoughts to dissipate. So what if he hadn't figured out how to get that godforsaken portal running? He would, he had to, it was just a matter of time. Just a matter of time before he could hold his brother close again. And when Ford saw all he'd done to get him back, he'd be so grateful all Stan's past mistakes would be forgiven. Maybe they wouldn't sail around the world, but this place was nice. He could live with staying.

He took a sip of his coffee and opened the paper. It was a small publication, mostly gossip and ads, but it was a good way of ensuring nobody had caught on to the machine lurking in the basement. Or the basement in general for that matter.

In most dimensions, Stan would flip through the paper, see nothing of interest, and move on with his day. But in this one, an ad towards the back of the paper caught his eye.

'Have you ever wished for the return of a loved one? It might be possible. Contact Dr. Brice Daughtler at 743-555-5437 for more information.'

Stan brought the paper closer to his face, as if somehow the closer inspection could reveal its legitimacy. Either this was for real, it was a scam, or the poor sap who paid for the ad was crazy. But given the circumstances, what did he have to lose? If this Dr. Daughtler was crazy, that was no skin off his back. If it was a scam, Stan was bound to catch on before any cash was on the table. And if it was real? Maybe he wouldn't have to work on the portal anymore. Heck, maybe this Daughtler guy had a portal of his own!

At the very least, it was worth a chance. Any possibility of bringing Ford home was.

He tore the ad from the paper and walked the brief distance to the phone. Holding up the ad, he punched in the number and listened to the low drone of the dial tone.

After a minute or so, he was greeted by an unenthusiastic woman's voice.

"Hello, you've reached Daughtler Labs, what's the purpose for your call?"

Stan cleared his throat before responding. "Hello miss. I'm calling to ask about that ad in the paper? The one about returning loved ones?"

The woman sighed. "I really should've let someone else write that ad. Allow me to clarify, I don't bring back the dead, so don't ask."

"Not dead," Stan corrected. "Just missing."

"Missing?" The woman was quiet for a moment after that. "I can work with that. Who am I speaking to?"

"Stan. Stan Pines."

"Well Stan, I'm Dr. Daughtler. I'm working on a bit of a controversial experiment, and your situation is exactly the sort of thing I've been hoping for. Who are you missing?"

Stan swallowed. "My brother, he's been gone for five years now."

"Younger or older?"

"Older, but not by much, we're twins."

"Twins? That makes things interesting." Daughtler took a deep breath. "Alright Stan, here's what I need you to do. I'm going to send a package to, what's your address?"

Stan frowned. "I'm not telling ya that until you tell me what exactly you're doin'."

"Of course," Daughtler soothed. "I just need a genetic sample from your brother and your signed consent permitting me to use my equipment."

Stan could hardly dare to breathe as that ever painful spark of hope flared to life inside him. "And then you'll bring him back?"

"Stan, you have my personal guarantee."

February 29th, 1988

The package arrived a week after the phone call. Inside was a packet of paper big enough to be a phone book and a fancy-looking container for the genetic sample Daughtler had requested.

Stan attempted to read through the enormous packet, but gave up after the fifth page of nerd words that sounded more like one of Ford's made-up spells from that dice game he liked than anything useful. Based on what little he understood, it seemed Daughtler was legit. Crazy maybe, but not a scammer.

The DNA sample was actually the harder part of the whole ordeal. Stan had done a fair bit of cleaning in the years he'd lived in his brother's house, which meant any dead skin, bloodied bandages, or loose hairs were long gone. The search eventually led him to the attic, where he happened upon some boxes marked in his Ma's distinct handwriting. Stan carefully searched each box, lifting each item as if were made of porcelain and pausing every time he encountered a photo.

How had they changed so much? What did those sun-burnt boys on the beach have that they'd lost along the way to that accursed science fair? Would they ever be that close again? Could they?

An empty jam jar in the bottom of the last box caught his eye. Or more specifically, the little white pebbles jangling around in the bottom did. He pulled the jar out and held it closer, forcing the white lumps into focus. Bingo. At least a dozen baby teeth.

He placed the jar in the fancy container and flipped through the packet one last time to ensure everything was signed. Then he sent the package off, his stomach twisting in a mix of anxiety and excitement. It was just a matter of time now, just a matter of time and he'd have his brother back.

April 10th, 1988

"Stan!" A blonde with a too-wide smile greeted him, her obnoxiously bright pink lab coat flapping behind her. "So nice to finally meet the face to the voice!"

Stan forced a smile as he eyed the modified warehouse behind her. "Dr. Daughtler! You said you've made progress?"

"Some? Why I'm nearly finished! Come see." She grabbed his arm and pulled him to the entrance beneath a cheap-looking placard labeling the building as Daughtler Labs. Stan could only hope the run-down exterior was the result of funding being focused on the equipment and not indicative of Daughtler's overall operation.

The interior of the warehouse was mostly empty, save for about seven fold-out tables covered in various blinking lights and wires, and a large metal cylinder.

"If this is progress, it's depressing." Stan deadpanned, mentally thanking the fact that he hadn't paid for this.

Daughter's smile never wavered. "Oh Stan, haven't you heard about judging a book by its cover? Just look." She gripped his arm and began to lead Stan around to the other side of the cylinder. "Tell me Stan, does the name J. Derek Bromhall mean anything to you?"

Stan pulled his arm from the woman's grasp. "No, and don't manhandle me."

Daughtler didn't even look at him. "Well, that's a shame, especially with you being a twin and all. You see, way back in 1885 the scientific community discovered a little thing called artificial twinning, splitting a single cell to create two genetically identical organisms. They succeeded in twinning a vertebrate in 1902, then discovered how to engineer the twinning of a specific organism using any cell's nucleus in 1958. And then they stopped. That is, until Bromhall came along. He created the first artificially twinned mammalian embryo, but failed to complete the experiment*." Her tone had drifted from chipper to manic.

"But I figured it out, I've completed the final steps to not only mammalian, but human cloning!"

Stan felt like he'd fallen into one of those overdramatic sci-fi flicks he and Ford used to watch. "Cloning?"

Whatever response Daughtler gave rang emptily in his ears as the other side of the cylinder came into view. Floating behind a panel of glass in the midst of a greenish liquid was a tiny version of Ford. A perfect snapshot of his twin as he was in childhood.

Daughtler's hand was on his shoulder now. "I know he's not perfect, not yet. But give me a month to artificially age him and-"

"He still won't be Ford." Stan interrupted. "He'll just be someone who looks like him." Like me, he finished mentally.

Daughtler stared at him blankly. "Isn't that good enough? This way you can teach him to behave how you'd like, dispose of any unsatisfactory behaviors."

For a moment, Stan imagined it, a Ford that wouldn't turn his back on him, who never stopped sharing his dreams. "But that wouldn't be real," he murmured. "It wouldn't be Ford."

"We could always experiment with implanting memories," Daughtler suggested.

Stan shook his head. "I'm not replacing my brother." He turned to leave, but couldn't shake the image of the little boy from his head.

Come on Stan, that's not Ford, he doesn't even know you! Leave! Get out of here and don't look back, a part of his mind, the part that had helped him through ten years on the streets, shouted.

But he's still just a kid, and this lady's nuts! Do you really wanna leave a kid in a place where he'll be treated like a lab rat? Another voice, this one sounding like a pre-pubescent version of his own.

Stan turned back. "I'll still take the kid."

Daughtler's expression soured. "After your little speech about how "not real" my creation is? I think not. According to page 53, paragraph 6 of the paperwork you signed, if you reject the experiment I have full claim to the results. I gave you the chance Stan, you turned me down."

Stan eyed the tables of equipment, mentally weighing the larger pieces. "And there's nothing I can do to change your mind?"

Daughtler sneered. "You accept the experiment as I intended, or you don't get it at all."

Stan edged towards the nearest table. "Then I won't feel bad about this." He grabbed the closest heavy equipment and threw it in the direction of the glass panel. Shards and liquid flew out in a wild spray, sending Daughtler scrambling for cover. Stan ignored it, feeling the sting of the sharp edges as they bit into his exposed skin. He'd dealt with worse.

The boy now dangled limply from a few wires, all of which were gradually pulling out of his skin without the liquid to support his weight. Gently as possible, Stan removed the wires, wincing when he saw how deeply they were buried in the boy's skin. Wrapping the boy in his jacket, he stood to leave.

"I know where you live," Daughtler snarled from some unseen place in the warehouse. "I'll take him back."

Stan focused on the door, involuntarily gripping the child tighter. "You can try, but who do you think people are more likely to believe? The semi-shady businessman, or the mad scientist? Personally, I wouldn't gamble on it. Find another sucker to clone."

As he exited the warehouse, the boy began to stir.

"Hey there kid," Stan muttered. "I'm gonna get you outta here, but we have to beat it before Daughtler gets the bright idea to bring law enforcement into this."

The boy opened his eyes, squinting the same way Ford would after staying up too late on his newest project. "Who're you?"

That's a good question. Who am I to you? Who do I tell people you are? "We'll talk later, right now I gotta drive."

Still April 10th, 1988

And so here he was, speeding down the highway with his brother's clone resting in the backseat. Thankfully, the boy seemed too drowsy to pester him with questions. Questions Stan needed to have answers to, for both the kid and anyone else who asked. It wasn't like he could tell the truth, no one would believe him. And Ford! How was he supposed to explain the kid when Ford got back? He'd think Stan had tried to replace him! Which, he technically had, but not intentionally!

Stan glanced at the rearview mirror, watching the boy slowly lose the fight to keep his eyes open. He had to keep him, couldn't risk Daughtler getting him back. It wouldn't be hard to pass him off as some sort of relative with how alike they looked.

The kid yawned, still stubbornly refusing to fall asleep.

"Get some shut-eye kid," Stan instructed.

The boy shook his head, rubbing at his eyes. "Not until you tell me who you are."

Stan turned to meet the kid's eyes briefly. "I'm someone who'll keep you safe, and that's all you gotta know right now."

"Who am I?"

Crap. Stan wasn't sure how to answer that. The kid couldn't be more than six from the looks of it, he wouldn't understand the whole clone thing. At the very least Stan needed to give him a name, a not-Ford name. What was the name of that scientist guy Ford had posters of?

"Nicola, you're Nicola."

Nicola gave him a sleepy smile, mumbling the name as his eyes drifted shut.

Stan sighed in relief. Nicola. It was a start.

* This is from my limited research on the history of cloning, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Also, I know Nikola Tesla's name is spelled with a k, but I liked the idea of Stan misspelling it.

Please let me know if this is interesting to you, I'm still not sure if this concept is stupid.