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Every guy in the universe wishes he could suck his own dick, right? Well, Jamie's one of the lucky ones who can. And without all the bending.

The first time, it was a pent-up, frustrating night like everybody has. Horny (skin-burning, toe-curling, lung-squeezing, half-hard-all-day horny) and his own hand just wasn't doing it. Porn vids, porn downloads, porn mags, porn fantasies complete with sountrack--they all just left him bored on top of turned on. What he wanted was a fuck. Smell of naked skin, arms and legs to wrap in, hot wet tongue stroking his balls, mouth sucking and sliding on his dick.

So, yeah, he did the obvious. Smacked his hand against the wall and just like that, he had another body on the bed. Maybe there were five or ten seconds of manly embarrassment, but then the dupe put a hand on him and Jamie really didn't care anymore.

Problem solved. Being the Multiple Man's a load of crazy sometimes, a giant cargo ship from China full of big steel crates of crazy, so it's only fair to get some benefits.

Not that the sex thing (which isn't sex, really) can't be crazy too. Dupes don't always cooperate. Once, when he was feeling down, the dupe took one look at him and started to cry about how pathetic their lives were, which made Jamie cry too, and so much for orgasms that night. There've been dupes who just wanted to go to sleep, and dupes who wanted to order a pizza, and dupes who insisted they go out and try to pick up girls. And one who turned on the TV and started watching a gardening show, which was a whole new level of strange.

With dupes, though, you don't have to argue. You don't have to sweet-talk them, or listen to their problems, or even go on a date first. Get a weird one, just reabsorb and try again.

If people knew, they'd probably figure Jamie was no different from those losers with blow-up dolls or guys who fuck their dogs. He's got an explanation ready, in the event of a teammate climbing through the window or doing the telepathy thing at a bad moment. Everybody jerks off, he'll say if he has to, and this is just . . . just extra, like chocolate sauce and sprinkles on ice cream.

No way he could explain the rest. The rest is complicated and big, more like a world-record-winning banana split with seventy-five flavors and a hundred toppings, all in the shape of the Empire State Building.

The rest is that the dupes are people. They're him, but with a twist. They're Jamie in a mirror, or Jamie's shadow, or Jamie's voice on somebody's answering machine. They can be surprising. Some of them like it rough, some of them like long sweet kisses, some of them like it standing or kneeling or with clothes on or in the shower. One taught Jamie dirty words in Turkish that he didn't know he'd ever learned.

He used to reabsorb them right away, afterwards, but now sometimes he keeps them around. They can be fun to talk to, and it's nice not having to sleep alone. One dupe, who liked to cook and recited old Monty Python skits, accents and everything, Jamie kept for almost a week. But then Jamie went out drinking with Guido and Rahne, and the dupe wanted to come too, and there was an argument and that was it. Making dupes to learn stuff or do the dangerous jobs, that his friends understand, but he could never explain hanging out with one. Plus, he didn't trust it not to kiss him in front of them.

So, okay, maybe what he does with the dupes really is sex. Maybe he was lying to himself about that--he pretty much can't help lying to himself, can he? Maybe it's damn strange and he needs therapy.

But that's not how it feels. Lying in bed, with a dupe's head on his shoulder, his arms around it, Jamie thinks about love. What people want when they're in love is to fuse with the other person, to squeeze and squeeze until they're one body, one soul.

They can never do it. But Jamie can.