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Author's Note: The character’s appearing in this fan fiction are the creation of Donald P Bellisaro, as is the setting of Project Quantum Leap. As a fan of the television series Quantum Leap I have only borrowed them.

My efforts to write this story has placed me in a position where like all fans we may have had similar ideas on how certain situations may be played out. Any similarities between past stories and mine are purely coincidental. I have in no way intended to offend anyone with my story line, simply attempting to add another dimension to the already well established characters. Feed back is more than welcome.



copyright. 1998

by Kerri B.


Part 1 "Reflections"

According to the clock on the dresser it was 4:20am. By his calculations he'd managed a grand total of two and half hours sleep.

The same thing that interrupted his sleep off and on for the last few weeks had disturbed this mornings slumber also. He knew what it meant, the medical officer who had given Al his last physical had suggested that a man of his years may at some stage in the future experience certain symptoms. In which case he was to report them. Yeah right, the odds of him actually doing that were about as remote as him becoming celibate.

Besides he wasn't old, the energetic man he saw each morning in the mirror assured him he was still the same Al Calavicci; pilot, returned P.O.W., astronaut and currently in charge of one of the most advanced top secret projects in the country. He had lived, and survived too much to have something as immaterial as his age slow him down.

Moving soundlessly through familiar surroundings, he stopped en route to the living room long enough to pull the covers over the sleeping figure in his bed. Gently tucking them around the woman's delicate shape before closing the adjourning door silently behind him.

Perched on the edge of his chair, a basic government issue office model. A lit cigar smoldered in the freshly emptied ash tray beside him. One knee bounced nervously as he balanced on the balls of his bare feet. His silk robe removed from it's hook in the bathroom, more for warmth than modesty gaped open. The resulting draft reminded him he should of also rescued his shorts from the bedroom floor. The temperature in his quarters was always far too cold for his liking. Maintenance's inability to regulate atmospheric conditions in staff living quarters to a more acceptable level was an ongoing annoyance to him.

His hands moved swiftly across the computer key board entering yet another command. The information requested appeared on the monitor in front of him. It 'still' didn't satisfy his curiosity, something Sam had done in his last leap must of some how caused his feelings to have changed. It couldn't possibly be anything else. There had to be a reason for his life to become so completely screwed up. Nothing in Ziggy's memory banks indicated any of the interactions that Sam had made, could explain it.

Exasperated Al stood abruptly, the sudden movement sent the office chair skating on it's castors across the low pile carpeted floor behind him. Cursing softly under his breath as he watched helplessly out of reach as it slowed and stopped inches from the living room wall.

Grateful he turned his attention back to the computer. Frustrated by its lack of disclosure, he stabbed at the monitors power switch. The useless data on the screen vanished, along with the only light source he had provided for himself in the process. Allowing his eyes a moment to adjust before retrieving his neglected cigar, he took up a more comfortable position on the sofa.

Drawing deeply on the cigar Al tried unsuccessfully to focus only on the Chivello's tastes and texture. Usually smoking a good cigar settled him, this time it wasn't helping. No longer interested, he stubbed the cigar's burning remains against the base of the ashtray. Then reaching forward he pushed it absently across the surface of the coffee table. It's base sounding a metallic 'clink' as the two objects met, sending another rush of nervous tension through him. Disturbed by his own continued edgy behavior and the events of the past evening, he settled his head back against the supportive shoulder of the sofa. Staring blankly upwards, his gaze met with a shifting gray cloud of smoke, that hung heavily in the stilled room above him. He knew he should get up and turn on the exhaust fan in the kitchen and extract it, as he had done last night. Her obvious distaste for his cigar smoke and its odor lessened marginally when he used the machine to remove the lingering smoke from the room. But the sound of the appliance at the hour would more than likely wake her and he wasn't ready to face her just yet.

Al closed his eyes, breathing evening in through his nose and allowing each breath to escape slowly out his parted lips. Repeating the process several times, before the muscles in his neck and shoulders slowly relaxed as the anxiety subsided. Breathing exercises.

How many times had he reverted to the exercise Beeks had taught him to push away anger and frustration. A lot over the past four and half years. The first lesson he remembered fondly.


Doctor Verbena Beeks project shrink' had summoned Admiral Calavicci to her office exactly one month after Sam' first leap. It had not been a friendly invitation as her previous suggested visits had been. It had been an official demand, an underlying threat was attached to it. If he did not attend at the specified time, she as project psychiatrist and the most senior member of the medical staff would file an unfit for duty report and have him removed from his position as project observer. Weather she would do it or not he wasn't sure, the fact was, she could. Which left him with little choice than to show up. She had asked her questions and he had answered them. Her tone and expression never altering, no matter how colorfully he spoke. Inquires regarding his mother and his sexual preference rolled off her tongue in the same manner as if she was asking his name and address. She simply nodded, made her notes and moved on to the next question. He'd convinced himself this would be a waste of time before he walked in the door so her lack of reaction didn't surprise him in the least. But it sure as hell annoyed him. By the time the pointless questions came to an end and she closed the spiral note book she'd been balancing on her knees and rested it and her hands primly in her lap. He was past annoyed and well on his way to furious.

He didn't have time for this, he had a job to do. She had no right to force him to be there or to ask things that were none of her's, or anyone else's business. He was up, almost jumping out of the leather arm chair he'd been sitting in none to patiently in for the best part of an hour. Pacing her office shouting at her of his responsibilities, and her apparent failure to recognize absolutely 'nothing' could be accomplished by just sitting around.

He had just made another sweep of her spacious office and stopped in front of her desk, using one clenched fist he thumped down hard on the furniture piece to emphasis his anger. Which he was directing solely at her, of being kept from more pressing engagements. When he caught sight of her using one elegant ebony finger to press the security extension on her phone.

Suddenly realizing her previous threat had been real, and what her now immediate intentions were. He back peddled, nearly tripping over his own feet in his effort to retake his seat. Sitting nervously at attention he eyed the psychiatrist suspiciously as she spoke casually to the person on the other end of the phone. "Her finger had slipped" she was saying apologetically. "It had been a mistake, there was no emergency and no she didn't require any assistance." And then she carefully replaced the receiver, walked around the side of her desk and sat calmly on one corner. Having finally gained his attention she began to speck. Her tone was firm, her words clear.

She knew exactly what had been causing the usually controlled man she had observed, since her appointment to the project to steadily come apart at the seams. She continued to explain, from the time Sam had stepped prematurely into the accelerator everyone working at Project Quantum Leap had lost a certain amount of control, she had felt the effects of Sam's ill-advised actions herself. No one was against him, they wanted the same things he did. Everyone had been hired for their ability to perform a particular function, however without any one of them, the immense amount of work required to run the project would simply not get done. They had to work together. None of them deserved the treatment he had been regularly inflicting on all around him. If the man hired to keep things running smoothly couldn't control his temper, how long did he think it would take before he started receiving resignations along with his morning mail? Or worse still, what if someone decided to put in a complaint to Washington about his volatile behavior. What good would it do Sam if he lost his job?

So she had demonstrated, and he had watched, it looked ridiculous! But everything she said made sense. He had to do something about his temper. He couldn't keep flying off the handle at who ever got in his way, simply because he wasn't real happy about Sam running off to live out his dream. And he felt like he'd been the one left at home to clean up the mess.


He didn't feel that way now, and hadn't for a long time. Verbena's and his relationship had begun on a purely professional basis. Now her friendship was one of the many he valued. Her always available ear and leveling approach often made the distinction between sanity and insanity more easily defined to many of the permanent, himself included and temporary souls at Project Quantum Leap. As long as she kept any obvious "brain shrinking" to a minimum around him, they got along just fine. She had let slip a couple months ago the casual relationship she was involved in had become more serious. He had decided immediately it had been a slip. She had become increasing more tight lipped about anything of a very personal nature of late, for it to have been any more than that. Which of course was necessary if you didn't want to share it with the rest of the project. With close on two hundred mostly single people living under the same roof or in this case, same desert floor. Discretion was advisable. Gossip was always a major problem.

With a little discrete detective work using whatever resources he could find and with out alerting Ziggy or any one else to what he was up to. He had narrowed the potential party down to someone from research.

He was constantly being reminded by the nozzles in Washington that Project protocols were to be stringently enforced. Well that was fine, as long as someone else did the enforcing. He didn't have the time or the inclination to run around making sure every page of paper work was filled out. Though just lately he was pleased to discover that other's felt responsible to make sure they were. Rosters, time sheets and phone records were a wealth of knowledge if you knew precisely what sort of information to look for.

The only thing he couldn't figure out was who? Of the eight members of the research team only two male. Neither candidate seemed the type capable of putting the smile on Verbena's face, which appeared there each time he inquired on her love life. One of them was just a kid, and she'd made it clear over the years she did not share his own appetite for youthful companionship on a romantic level. The other guy was named Lyle and wore horned rimmed glasses and a hearing aid, definitely not someone the lovely Doctor Beeks would cozy up to.....He was 99% positive the individual involved had to be from the research department. -For a moment he pondered on the only other alternative, it would not be something he would consider for himself. But then again, what did it matter, who ever it was they were obviously making her very happy.

Perhaps that's all the previous night had been. The natural progression of a relationship forged in the shadows of their commitment to what now was the projects ultimate objective. To bring Doctor Sam Beckett home. Just as with Verbena and her mystery lover Sam had brought them all together. - Great, he was making excuses for himself again. It was becoming an all too frequent habit of his to blame Sam for everything that didn't turn out the way he planned. Sam was responsible in part for the cards, that on occasions they were dealt, but he and everyone else were accountable for how they played the hand. He hadn't planned last night, but when it had become apparent during the course of the evening his feelings toward her had steadily changed from mild attraction to undeniable amorous adoration. He hadn't tried 'real' hard to stop it's ensuing conclusion either.

It was true he had briefly once or twice in recent weeks indulged in a daydream where she had played a significant role. On each occasion he had put their materialization down to how much time they spent in each others company. Distracting himself in the direction of more available companionship, he found lessened the effect the unsettling fantasy had on him. She was a woman he regarded as a friend and colleague, a woman he and all her past and current peers respected and revered for her intellectual abilities and dedication. Not just someone you used as a temporary diversion for pent up frustration. In his younger days he could of put his latest indiscretion down to youthful misjudgment. - Some decades past his youth, he really ought to be able to credit himself with a lot more control and common sense. And he should of foreseen its outcome would leave him filled with the confusing array of emotions he now endured.

Guilt and regret were both sensations he had experienced before. Ashamedly he had not suffered from either a few hours ago. Her utterance of his name as he held her tightly in his arms hadn't dissuaded him. Quite the contrary, the sound of the other man's name only served for him to relish her touch more.

Part 2 "Somewhere In The Night."

The quarterly budget report was due. Dreading yet another battle with the air heads in Washington he had put it off as long as possible. Having sort her proposals, along with those of other department heads on the updates they and their immediate staff had felt most essential. He knew her offer of help had been a routine one, one he would usually decline. Now with only days to go before deadline with barely sufficient time remaining for it's completion. Her assistance was gratefully accepted.

With few options left to them, a meeting place and designated hour had been agreed upon. To work outside conventional office hours was detestable, but certainly not out of the norm. Though it was definitely not quite as disagreeable if the company was good. And her presence at work and during a considerable amount of his leisure time, what little of it there was, had become so natural he hadn't given the possible ramifications of a night that he had known would end exclusively in her company a second thought.

Eating dinner together before tackling the report had been part of the agreement, both hated to eat alone. It would save time. Meeting as soon after six as each were able would give them an earlier and more leisurely start to what by any ones standards had proved to be an unenviable task in the past.

Even then, as he sat opposite her discussing Ziggy's latest hypothesis on where Sam was during the period between recorded leaps. He had felt more than his usual attraction for her. The variation between leaps varied substantially. Whilst a seemingly lifeless body in the waiting room remained in it's comotosed state void of normal brain activity. Anything from three hours and up to six days could pass in which time no one, including Sam could explain where his conscious self had been. It remained one of the many unexplained mysteries of his leaps through time.

The project canteen had become so packed with off duty personnel it made it increasingly difficult to continue their conversation without shouting over the racket. Most of the extra tables and chairs that were usually stored in a small utility room adjacent to the large assembly hall had been brought out and arranged amongst the existing ones, forcing them to sit pressed against the tables edge. His outer thigh resting comfortably against hers. The innocent gesture of placing her hand on his knee as she suggested they adjourn to his quarters to finish their discussion, had sent a strange but familiar wave of desire through him. He'd tried to discount the sensation as not uncommon, considering that sitting that close to most beautiful women had the same effect on him. It didn't mean every time it happened he could act on his instincts and in this case, it would be impossible.


The few people they had and who had seen them during the journey from the canteen to his quarters. A newly engaged member of the maintenance crew and a couple of junior office workers from the human resource team hurrying to leave for the weekend. Would have assumed they were absorbed in project business. Which of course, he had reminded himself they were. There was the folder stuffed full of proposals and requests for priority funding wedged securely under his arm as proof. This was project related after hours work, nothing else. But no one seemed interested enough in what the two of them might be doing together on a Friday evening, to even acknowledge either of them.

The mental check list on the condition of his quarters was run as they went. Concluding except perhaps the en suit, which he would rectify as soon as he could, everything else was pretty much presentable. His early wakings had lulled him into a false sense of time yesterday morning. Instead of going to his office and making an early start on the pile of never ending paper work and budget report waiting for him there, he had chosen to return to bed. Sleep since the beginning of Sam's leaps had become more precious to him than he would have thought possible a few years before. Four days had elapsed since they had last made contact with the project absent director. And if Ziggy's predictions were correct, and more often than not they were, some time within the next forty eight hours, Sam's need for his assistance would once again put an end to the possibility of a full night of uninterrupted rest. Having over slept, part of his morning routine was cut short in preference to being any later to his office than he already was.

On their arrival to his fourth level accommodations he had let them both in and switched on the lights in the living room before shutting the door securely behind them. Then reminiscent of every Bond movie he had ever seen, he removed the teal fordora which he had donned before leaving his office for the day and pitched it across the room in the direction of the entertainment unit. A long practiced maneouvre intended to impress. As the felt hat met it's mark and landed softly atop the unit, he glanced side ward to find her smiling indulgently back at him.

'Practice makes perfect' he remembered thinking to himself at the time. 'After all what was the good of a well ocherastrated act without an appreciative audience'. Her smile was always a welcome sight and unquestionably appreciation enough. Tonight it seemed more flattering than usual. Dark sensual eyes he'd seen too many times dulled from sorrow, sparkled now with genuine amusement. Stray raven curls that had escaped from those loosely gathered and swept up, fell at either side of her face, framing her fair almost flawless completion. Each feature was made radiant by her expression.

It was unintentional, but he was flirting with her. She was use to such exhibits of his over active ego in motion and was simply playing along.

Feeling slightly self conscious and a little awkward he offered coffee, his invitation accepted, he busied himself with it's preparation and then excused himself to - you know! Slipping back to the bathroom he discovered it's state was worse then he had first thought. Collecting the abandoned pile of clothing and towels from the bathroom floor, he dumped all but one still damp towel into the laundry hamper.

The familiar image in the mirror stared back at him suspiciously as he used the corner of the towel to wipe over the mirror and the surface of the vanity. Piercing dark eyes questioning his motives. What was all that about out there in the living room and what was he doing now? She didn't care what his bathroom, or for that matter any of the rooms in his quarters looked like. She had come here to work.

Everything ship shape, he returned to find she had made herself at home. Moving with her customary grace towards him with the two completed mugs of steaming coffee in hand. Music emanated softly from the speakers, set at either end of the entertainment unit, her choice from his limited selection did not surprise him, she like most women, lent toward classic movie tunes. The very reason behind it's purchase.

The composure that he'd managed to gain through his house keeping chores and a serious chat with himself in the bathroom wavered tenuously throughout the evening. Keeping his mind on the task set proved more arduous then he first envisioned. Her relaxed disposition and his own wishful and particularly vivid imagination regularly interrupting his concentration.


It was almost midnight before they'd run through all the required information needed for his report. All that needed to be done was to have the information collated and placed in the required presentation format. With any luck Monday afternoon would see the report on board the Projects King Air and well on it's way to Washington a full day ahead of deadline.

Sitting together on the two seater sofa he shuffled together all the paper work and returned it to the manila folder. Placing the folder on top of a pile of outdated magazines he'd earlier stacked neatly to one corner of his glass top coffee table. Watching her affectionately as she gathered her discarded shoes from underneath. And then reluctantly escorting her to the door, she'd hung off his arm expressing her satisfaction, their 'mission accomplished'. "He would now have the entire weekend to relax and catch up on some sleep. He was looking tired. Who was keeping him from his rest?" She added smiling quizzically at him. He had wanted to say it was her, but that wasn't completely true. No matter how much he wished it was. Instead he'd chosen to return her smile with one of his best looks of perplexed innocence.

Gentle finger tips ran down his face, soft lips pressed briefly against his cheek. "Sure Al!" she teased. Before he'd had a chance to say anything she'd turned away, she was leaving. Her hand, the same hand she'd just used to caress his cheek was reaching for the electronic key pad positioned on the wall beside the exit.

His intensifying desires, ultimately betrayed him as at that moment all reserved restraint had been lost. Pulling her back so she faced him, he'd held her small wrist firmly with one hand. Registering and at the same time ignoring her look of utter astonishment as he drew the woman intently closer and kissed her passionately on the mouth.

More forceful, far more desperate and hungry than he had intended. Fear and remorse suddenly erasing the all consuming passion he had felt seconds before. And immediately expecting she would tear herself away from his hold., he released her.

An instant later a blanket of silence had enveloped the room and divided them simultaneously. It's suffocating grip tightening with each passing moment. He could just stand there, dread growing within and wait for what he anticipated she would do next. Demand he explain his conduct. He had to say something.

Summoning the courage to speak again, his hasty attempt to do just that had come more in the form of a plea rather than an explanation. 'He was sorry, he hadn't meant to frighten her, or hurt her. He would rather die than hurt her. Surely she knew that. He loved her.' - no sooner had the declaration slipped from his lips than it's gravity sobered him to his plight. He did love her, had quite platonically for years. He had no right to be initiating a more intimate level of their relationship. Why he felt so compelled to do so now, he honestly did not know. The fantasy's were no excuse. She had kissed him before he couldn't just say he'd gotten carried away with the moment. God if he couldn't comprehend what had made him behave in such a way. How on earth did he think he could make her understand.

One thing he had known, was positive of, he had to at least try. A series of jumbled near desperate statements had poured out. With each he'd prayed he wasn't making the situation worse and what little regard she still may hold for him was not being completely destroyed in the process.

Finally his panicked speech had come to an end. And the illusion he had created in his own mind had ended with it. There was no point denying it any longer, his feelings for her had changed. When he had admitted to himself he had struggled to justify why he had chosen now to tell her. Oh and lets not forget how he'd tried to tell her. God he didn't even want to think about that. But that's what this was all about, that's why he stood there, his feet anchored to the floor, too afraid to move. Terrified that at any moment she'd think she'd heard enough and she'd turn around and walk out the door. Because he'd lost his mind, he must of, temporary insanity that was it. Why else would he have risked everything they'd built up and shared over the years.

It had occurred to him about then, as he stood waiting for her response, expecting the worst. That maybe it would of been wiser if he'd sent flowers and a note, anonymous of course. She'd have told him about it, and he'd have known from her reaction how she felt about such attention. 'how she felt' it was that line of thinking that had gotten him into all this trouble in the first place. She'd probably guess it was him anyway and think it was just his way of making her feel special. And she wouldn't say a word about it to him, certain he'd deny it or be too afraid it would embarrass him if she did. No, she wouldn't tell him, she'd tell Verbena and Verbena would see right through him. Regard him with contempt for even thinking such a thing let alone actually expressing it. And if she knew about what he'd just done she'd find his conduct abhorrent and most likely have him shot.

Common sense told him it was only his imagination, and not a premonition of things to come. It was just that the image of himself, clad in his dress white uniform standing in the middle of the desert under the noon day sun, facing a firing squad lead by Verbena Beeks seemed very real. Recovering slowly as he pushed the distorted vision away, promptly becoming aware of his surroundings again as it seeped further and further back in his mind.

She hadn't moved or tried to flee, her head had remained poised against his trembling shoulder. Allowing him to speak uninterrupted. Relief for those small gifts was steadily replaced with hope that he'd managed to somehow salvage a tiny part of the friendship.

Her voice, as gentle and soothing as her touch had been, whispered her own confusion concerning their changing relationship. He had listened, incapable of doing anything else as the division between them eroded rapidly with each startling admission. Her words though shrouded in mature modesty echoed his every thought and feeling, and then they'd just died away as if something guarded had escaped and she realized too late that it had.

What had driven him to that point was simple if you wiped away all the pretense, it had remained the whole time strong and unrelenting in the back of his mind. And as silence settled in the room again and she backed away from him slightly, he had begun to suspect it was her own inner recognition of the same thing that had brought her to a sudden stop. - She had rationalized his behavior by comparing it to her own personal turmoil, by doing so she had revealed more than she intended or perhaps actually realized before. And now neither could pretend they hadn't heard or didn't understand it's meaning.

Watching her closely as she fidgeted thoughtfully with the fringe of her shawl. He wondered at her strength and ability to remain calm. Recognizing the internal evaluation transpire as he'd waited. Each of her own words and the emotions they had invoked subjected to a re-clarification process and then meticulously assessed, for what he could only guess. Weight, value and perhaps their capacity to comfort. - Often the words spoken aloud will alone supply enough of a release that no more is required.

There was more than that, a lot more and he'd understood. If she wanted his help or support in any way he was willing to give it. But perhaps he'd already done too much as it was and he had known she would wish the responsibility for what ever was to come from all of this to be solely hers. Even if he'd felt he was certainly equally if not entirely to be blamed for her dilemma.

For what had seemed like a long time he'd just watched and waited. Certain if she had a request of him what ever it may be, it was unlikely she would voice it without careful consideration. Her head was bowed slightly and he could see even though she had stopped the ritual twisting of the tassels on her shawl, she was still staring blankly at the space of floor between them. The door closed behind her was almost the same distance away, a small step in either direction would make the difference.

Waiting patiently was not something he'd ever learnt to do well. He had so many questions. The few that came consciously to mind he knew only scratched the surface of the many he had wanted to ask. Did her continued presence mean she had come to a decision of how she wished their relationship to proceed? She had made no attempt to leave at all and she hadn't spoken a word since revealing her own unmistakable feelings for him. Did she want to forget anything at all had been said? That of course would of been the wisest path for them to take. To bid one another good night and never speak of what had happened. Or did she want to stay? Her hesitation to leave suggested she did.

Eventually he'd drawn one hand gingerly from it's place at his side, both had remained frozen there since the moment after he had released her. He still wasn't totally convinced what he had in mind was the best way of going about finding out what he needed to know. But believing actions speak louder than words, he'd taken half a step closer and cautiously ran his hand around her slender waist to her back. Gently drawing her toward him. All the time remaining watchful for any signs his touch was unwelcome. Promising himself whatever her reaction he would respect and abide by her wishes. Trusting she would acknowledge, he had to be sure. As if on cue she had shifted her position and relaxed into the embrace, titlting her head towards his. One more revelation, the answer to his unspoken questions was to what had become the next predestined stage. No more had been promised, no more had been expected only an understanding that each had wished it.


It was more than he could have imagined, there had been no prompting or need of guidance, without a single word they had both known empathatically how the other would respond, almost as if they had always been together and not exploring their first physical encounter.........oh boy.

Sitting alone in the darkened room the cold realisation of why, was suddenly clear. The changes he'd earlier feared Sam had caused, were not as recent as his last leap. Could it be that they were the final impact of a ripple he'd set in motion over six months ago? When for a short time they had traded places with one another, and Sam had returned home for twelve hours to his waiting friend's and wife.

A small part of their individual personalities had merged with the other. The result of leaping together. For the first time he'd known what it was like to see life through Sam Becketts straight laced eyes and had felt the same fears and confusion of being caught in time. And Sam in turn had learnt what it was to be the observer, able only to advice, unseen by onyone but Al. And as he remembered, behaved not at all like his prudish self. In the end Sam had reentered the accelerator chamber risking his own fate to save Al's life, only to be lost one more.

Dragging himself out of the chair, Al moved hesitantly back through his quarters. Turning the bathroom light on and adjusting the door so as to shield most of the bright glare and not disturb the woman sleeping peacefully in his bed.

The subdued lighting cast a soft warm glow over her, the passing years had done very little demage to Donna Elesee. He knew how old she was, closer to his own age than most of the women he found himself waking up next to perhaps but still remarkably beautiful.

Her hair, loosened from its usual drawn up style cascaded freely over bare shoulders and down her back, gently brushing the black silk aside as he sat carefully down beside her. Studying her profile the sense that he knew more about her than he should was obvious. During the hours Sam had come home, they had made love.

Closing his eyes he could see her face as it had been after that leap when Sam had not been retrieved. Not yet completely recovered himself, he had gone to her trying to simply carry on. Her eyes so full of tears he'd had to turn away from her, so ashamed he was reason behind her pain.

Sam had left her alone. Nothing, anyone of them, working with her at the project did could fill the void his absence caused. Not any amount of support or her own continued efforts to bring him home could replace the emptiness Al knew she felt. Had Sam inadvertently reached back through time and allowed him to fill that emptiness?

Part 3 "Somewhere In The Night":-

Truthfully Al had known from the moment he’d walked supported by Beeks and Tina down the ramp from the imagining chamber, that the simo-leap with Sam had left him with more than just the mother of all headaches and a bunch of clouded memories. Until now he hadn’t believed refusing to address the new feelings when they had first surfaced was a mistake. At the time it had been his only viable option. They, mixed with guilt for what Sam's actions had cost him. The undeniable relief for his own survival and more guilt for feeling the reprieve had been more than enough to deal with. Asking Verbena for help was never going to be high on his agenda of favorite pastimes. That would always remain ranked right up there with his yearly psychical, budget reports and having teeth pulled and he had decided it wasn’t really necessary. They were simply a post leap residual effect, similar to what he had experienced during the leap and they would disappear.

After years of practice he was a master of denial and had kept the unwanted feelings successfully hidden until they faded. And sure enough they had. Almost as quickly as their initial hopes for using the updates to the retrieval program already made by Sam as a directional reference. If Ziggy could pin point and complete what Sam had begun it may enable them to increase the odds to a more promising percentage. But it was not to be.

Wiping one calming hand over his face Al glanced down again at the women beside him. His gaze lingering over her apologetically. Resisting the temptation to reach out and touch her. To offer solace for a time rarely spoken of any more. Within days of Sam's departure their hopes had completely dissolved after tireless attempts to retrieve him continued to prove futile.

Shaking off the despondent emotions the memories of that time produced he moved watchfully as he stood. Pausing a moment to make sure his close presence and the movement of the mattress under her hadn’t caused her to wake. Satisfied neither had, he backed away. The solitary arm chair in the corner of the sombre lit room was presently covered with various articles of clothing. Not bothering to relocate any of them he sat down. The expense of the dry cleaning was the very least of his problems at the moment.

The first few weeks that followed that leap when Sam was there were difficult for everyone. Fatigue and frustration took its toll to some extent on all members of staff who had worked around the clock during that time. Sam's renewed absence filled all those he’d left behind with restored feelings of loss. Without doubt Donna’s loss was immeasurable in comparison to the rest of them.

Verbena had used the usual methods, plus a few new ones to assist with debriefing. Sequestering one of the larger conference rooms to work from. Group discussions, she explained were less threatening that singling out individuals. Working as a team is what they do best. Used to, used to do best he had reminded her. Each morning since his return he had faced the assembly of dismal, despondent and argumentative human beings that barely resembled the men and women he’d come to depend on when there was very little else he could.

If something wasn’t done soon he’d have an all out mutiny on his hands. And with out Sam here to help him he wasn’t completely convinced he could handle it on his own. Verbena’s idea had sounded an awful like brain shrinking on a grand scale to him at the time. Something he knew that would have her undoubtedly in her element. Skeptical he’d agreed, making himself crystal clear he wanted results and he expected them a s a p.

The changes in morale were almost immediate it seemed. Credit where credit was due Verbena knew her vocation and the workers at the project exceptionally well, her plan had worked. Towards the end of the week she dropped by his office. Expecting the usual banter of, she was right and he should be more trusting. He had waved her to the chair opposite his own and prepared. It was a game, one he’d come to enjoy, almost. That day there had been no playful finger waving and I told you so before launching into her report. Instead Doctor Beeks sat stiffly in her seat, a closed folder across her knees. Her usually smooth brow he noticed furrowed deeply as she spoke of the only member of staff who had continued to reject her offers of professional and or friendly aid.

Doctor Elesee he was told, had chosen to work from her quarters since the leap that had returned Sam to her and then cruelly taken him back again. To an ever shifting place in time and space where he had no memory of the one who had waited valiantly for him for four years. Her staff hardly ever saw her, short messages were sent to and from her office. She ventured out only rarely.

Very quickly he had realised as he listened to Verbena speak his assumption regarding Donnna’s behavior toward himself was only a small part of a much larger picture. Her avoidance of him and the waiting room, he’d believed was considering that leaps out come to be expected. Donna had promised that night she did not blame him. It wasn’t any of their’s decisions to make, she said. They were polite words but he knew that’s all they had been. How could she not hold him and even Sam partially responsible for her circumstances. He was there and her husband was gone. Why would she want to see either one of them while she came to terms with her feelings of abandonment once more. Momentarily relieved, some of the accountability shifted from himself he had pointed out as gently as he’d felt appropriate to someone in her profession that Donna had more to come to terms with then the others. Therefore a greater time would be required before she returned to her usual routine. As difficult as it maybe for her to understand, not everyone wanted to talk at times like this.

Blatantly ignoring the deductive reasoning he’d used to explain their colleagues behavior, Verbena had barely allowed him to finished before she continued her out pour of information on the recent movements of Sam's wife. Twice within the last week she had been seen leaving her husbands bio lab. Ziggy, she added to her request had supplied her with a list of phone calls made from her private line in the Beckett’s quarters along with the log in times for her computer terminal in Donna’s office.

Verbena who he had by this time known for over four years, was he believed unshakeable and truly unshockable. The latter he had tried repeatedly to change to no avail. His best efforts would always be lost on her he had decided some years earlier. Until that afternoon he had always thought there was nothing that would faze her, or there would be any reason for her to ever over step her role as project psychiatrist. He wasn’t shocked by the length she’d gone to in her efforts to help Donna, relieved a little to discover she was as human as the rest of them perhaps. But still it didn’t excuse what she had done.

"She is purposely distancing herself from everyone. Do you understand what that means Admiral?" Verbena inquired as she thrust a single sheet of computer paper across the desk at him.

"Understand what, that the women just wants to be left alone" he answered. Curiosity, he knew would sooner or later get the better of him, but for the moment he wasn’t willing to even glance at the page in front of him. He was not in the position to condone Verbena’s actions or allow her to think for a minute that their friendship would enable him to overlook them. "I don’t see that there’s a problem doctor and I don’t think that you have a right to force Doctor Elesee to do anything she doesn’t want to". "And"...... he continued, sliding the computer print out back across the desk. ".........I also believe, she like the rest of us has a right to her privacy". Time past slowly as he sat waiting for her to acknowledge the discussion as far as he was concerned was over. Technically Verbena could do what ever she pleases, she could and had done so in the past, pulled rank. Praying this wasn’t going to be one of those times, he had turned his attention back to the stack of forms and reports spilling out of his in tray. Most of which only required his signature but he should by rights read each and everyone of them. Part way through the first, he became aware that she was not going to take the hint. She had remained seated. and he knew without having to look up that she was staring at him, studying him, probably shrinking his brain. God he hated when she did that. "Come on Verbena, she needs time that’s all ! ....... give it a rest." He’d muttered now looking up from the report he was unsuccessfully trying to read.

"Are you dense or just selfish?" Her usually controlled voice rose uncharacteristically as she leaned forward. A tall elegant figure, that even seated towered over him. The folder she’d been clutching slapped violently downwards. Unsecured papers and the contents of an over full ash tray went flying in all directions in it’s wake. Only pulling back in the nick of time he narrowly avoided being caught in the folders flight path also before it had made contact with the desk in front of him.

"Neither!" he’d protested reflexively, covering his surprise and embarrassment of her remarks by making a hasty show of rearranging the disturbed papers on his desk. Sam had accused him from time to time of being blind to what others found so obvious. Yeah maybe he was a bit vague sometimes, but no way in the world was he going to admit it. Smoothing his hair back into place he’d watched at a safe distance as Verbena waited for him to compose himself. She was clearly worried, but about what. Donna had previously suffered from periods of prolonged melancholy. Who could blame her. Granted she had never avoided contact with any of them before or refused support especially not from Verbena. Still this was her department, what did she think he could do about it.

"She needs you" Verbena had offered, her tone softening as she leaned even further forward on her chair. " I can’t reach her Al ."

Opening his mouth to respond he stopped, realizing before he spoke that telling her Donna didn’t need him, she needed Sam was pointless. Verbena knew it as well as he did, that for the moment and for God knows how much longer, getting Sam to Donna was just not going to happen...

He had not volunteered for the job, but until God, fate or time returned Sam to them, permanently he was responsible for more than just the smooth running of Project Quantum Leap. His position and their friendship carried with it elements of honor that were his alone to uphold.

Ziggy was to alert him immediately the next time she was working outside the reclusive confines of her quarters. They had decided confronting Donna in her office was the best option for a resolve of the situation. He had flatly refused, and Verbena had agreed with him not to approach her while in her quarters. That was her home and sanctuary it should remain as long as possibly her place of solitude. Sam’s lab was situated on the same level as main control, its proximity made it difficult to ever be completely alone. It didn’t matter what time, day or night you were there, there was always someone around. Which made it easy to be seen and heard by others if she decided to clam up. According to Verbena that was a distinct possibility. He couldn’t very well force her to confide in him and he certainly wouldn’t make a public spectacle out of either one of them if she did refuse.


Two days passed before an opportunity arose. It was quite late when he got there. Standing just inside her office, the door closed behind him. He had started off casual and laid back hoping as he spoke quietly to her it didn’t appear too obvious that he had intentionally blocked the rooms only exit. She looked dreadful, paler and much thinner than at anytime he’d seen her before during their association. Her hair had been longer then and though he was sure it had been washed and combed sometime recently you’d be hard pressed to think it had been that same day. It lacked any of it’s usual luster and bounce and hung flat and limply at her shoulders. Dark shadows under her eyes hinted she hadn’t slept for days and accentuated her fair complexion even more so. What on earth had she been doing to herself? Verbena had said she looked tired last time she attempted to speak to her, but that was all. He should of realised sooner there was something terribly wrong for the psychiatrist to have come to him for help. From what he’d been able to ascertain that had been the same afternoon she had showed up at his office. No wonder she’d tried to hit him over the head with her folder. Sam was right, and in a way so was Verbena. Sometimes he didn’t see what was staring him in the face. He was selfish. He’d been so concerned about how he felt to consider how others were affected beyond his dealings with them went as director in Sam's absence. Mentally scolding himself for not being more intuitive, he proceeded cautiously.

The distinctive look of annoyance he’d been shot when he’d first entered turned quickly to outrage as soon as he mentioned his chat with Verbena. The understandable concern they felt for her must of been written over his face. And she clearly wanted none of it. He was asked to leave. She was busy and didn’t wanted to be interrupted, of all people surely he could understand that. Her manner had been abrupt to say the least. He could understand her work was important of course he did, he had always admired her diligence. But wasn’t working at eleven o’clock at night a bit much ? What ever she was working on could wait until morning.

"No it couldn’t" he was told curtly. " Please go" she had persisted as she swung around in her seat. Returning immediately to what ever it was she had been studying before he had come in. Sitting at an angle that was slightly turned away from him, intensely examining the information on her computer monitor.

Additional attempts to further the conversation fell on deaf ears. And then it dawned on him. The ‘cold shoulder’ was something he had extensive experience with, having frequently been on the receiving end of such treatment. Each ex wife had used that tactic on him at one time or another during their marriages he could now tell blind folded when his presence was no longer desired and he was being dismissed. He had come here to talk and that’s exactly what he was going to do but for now he’d just fall back, allow her the first round and himself time to reconsider his options. This is what he’d expect he supposed, Verbena had warned him. Though he had hoped Donna would be a little more receptive to him, if only for the same reasons he’d used when he’d agreed to speak to her. Reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket he retrieved a fresh cigar, the Chivello was unwrapped and trimmed. Unsure of what to do with the debris it was returned to the same pocket. Placing the unlit cigar in his mouth savoring it’s dry bitter flavor. One hand jammed into his right trouser pocket toying with the lighter resting at it’s depths. Now if he was to actually use it, that would get her attention. Perhaps not the sort of attention he wanted right now, there was no point provoking her.


Occupying himself quietly for sometime with the details of her office, he had been there many times before but until then he hadn’t paid a lot of attention to it’s decor or size. For some reason it appeared larger than his own but that couldn’t be right. Having been part of the design team, he knew all department heads with Verbena being the only exception were given the same shoe box amount of space. Apart from a small stack of collapsed cartons in the corner, Donna’s office was neat and well organized in comparison to his, some how she managed to include everything necessary for maximum productivity and still have air comfort. Her standard government issue desk housed the usual objects, computer, reference text. in and out trays and the like. Amongst them there were a few clearly personal items, a potted plant and a couple of framed photographs. One lay flat on the surface of the desk, from this distance it was difficult to say whether it was face up or down. Though if he was asked to make a guess at which it was, he had a fair idea of what the photo contained and why it was in it’s present position. Along with the desk a tall four draw filing cabinet took up most of the floor space in the centre of the room. Various posters featuring peaceful country scenes covered all but one of the drab gray painted walls. The remaining wall proudly boasted her many achievements and accomplishments. A large over stuffed sofa, not government supplied, filled the area under her personal hall of fame.

Using the back of his hand to stifle a yawn he straightened his stance and pulled his attention away from the sofa. It had been a very long day. Checking his watch before folding his arms across his chest, he glanced over again at the woman stooped over the computer monitor a few feet away. Having continued to pay close attention to her as she entered her inquiries and made her notes. He had waited patiently as was possible for him while he’d amused himself. Verbena would be so proud, he’d reminded himself a number of times as he had. Every now and again he had noticed she would pause. She was obviously disturbed by what ever her investigations had uncovered, but still she pressed on furiously attacking the computer keyboard. He had wanted to move closer, get a better look at what she was working on but it would mean leaving his post by the door. Quite awhile had passed, it was almost morning he noted , glancing once more at his watch and it didn’t appear she was going to afford him another word on the subject of her irregular work habits. Or anything else by the look of things.

It was time to get down to business. Taking his cigar out of his mouth he unfolded his arms and let them fall non- aggressively to his sides. "We need to talk" he said firmly. Trying his best to keep his voice low and sympathetic. "I know how difficult it is for you." Watching closely for any signs of recognition he went on. "I understand how tired and frustrated you are. We all are, nothing we do seems to work." There was no response, shifting slightly endeavoring to shake the feelings of pins and needles from his feet he changed tack. "You know I don’t usually recommend shrinks but I think if you spend some time with Verbena and the others you’ll see that your not alone." He paused and waited, still nothing, he had never enjoyed being ignored and was growing increasingly jaded by the second. Why they couldn’t have this conversation at a more reasonable hour was beyond him. She had maintained her same position and hadn’t acknowledged his attempts at conversation in any way at all. The words stubborn and childish had flashed in his mind at that moment and most of his calm disappeared for an instant. Taking two strides forward and gesturing with his empty hand at the upturned photo on her desk. His own fatigue and frustration spilled out. "Look Donna, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out you’d rather it was him here with you than me . We need to come to some kind of truce, if only for Sam and the projects sake." The words had come out a little harsher than he would have liked. They were so similar to the ones Verbena had used that time years earlier, it was uncanny just listening to himself speak. But they had the desired effect, his last statement had definitely hit a nerve. Finally she stopped her incessant assault of the keyboard. Her head hung motionless for a moment as she hunched over it. A frozen, stilted figure contemplating, he hoped the foolishness of avoiding the inevitable. One thing he’d never thought Donna was, was slow. She knew he’d been sent by Doctor Beeks their mutual friend and head of psychiatry at the project to talk to her. This folly had gone on long enough. Breathing a sigh of relief he returned the still unlit cigar to his mouth and relaxed, he was getting through. Now, if he was lucky he just may get out of here before the sun came up.

Untethered hair fell across her pale face as she turned slowly toward him. Instinctively it was clawed away. The anger that he’d seen fill her eyes earlier grew in intensity as she rose from her seat behind the desk separating them. Recoiling backward he was instantly glad it was. " You!" she sneered. "You understand, and you think , is that supposed to be funny Al ?....... Of course I’d rather it was Sam." Her hands on her hips now and she was maneuvering her slight frame around the side of the desk, moving closer and still shouting. "What did you think, I’d hung around here for four years

Removing the Chivello from the corner of his gaping mouth he stood grounded for a brief moment deciphering his own reaction as she approached. Her words and tone were unkind, nasty almost. And he had been more than a little surprised with himself for how much they had actually hurt him. She didn’t mean what she said, she was tired, frustrated and just plain fed up. He knew her well enough to know that if he gave her a chance, she’d apologize. But instead of retreating further and allowing her the opportunity, he’d advanced.


Her anticipated apology had come some time later. After a considerable amount of shouting, arguing and accusing had been tended by both parties. And when nothing remained unclear between them and the protective barrier she'd built around herself over the past week had come crumbling down. Then the tears had started. He had come prepared for tears, had become accustomed to the idea of their eventuality as he’d considered what he would say to her on his journey from the imaging chamber to her office. He just hadn’t counted on there being so many, or how helpless they and her questions had made him feel.

" Why am I here Al ?" She sniffed hugging herself tightly as she rocked gently back and forth from her position on the edge of the sofa. Seated beside her he watched drained from the confrontation as she moved forwards than backwards. He’d seen her perform this habitual form of self comfort before, and each time it unnerved and reminded him of something he’d repeatedly told Sam when a leap hadn’t panned to the way they’d hoped. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Well why the hell wasn’t it. Why did she have to hold on to herself, why was he the one here to console her when it should be Sam.

"What" he’d answered knowing exactly what she’d meant. Pleading ignorant would perhaps buy him a little time. Time to think of an explanation for the situation he’d rather not at this late hour think about, let alone have to explain. "Well this is your office," he’d motioned theatrically with both hands attempting to have her answer her own question.

"That’s what I came down here to find out."

She didn’t catch on, her bewildered tear streaked face searched his own for understanding for a minute or two before clarifying her question. "No, no that’s not what I meant. Why am I here at all if we aren’t going to be together for always as he promised?"

She knew of the shifts in time lines. And how they affected the present. Her life, she was aware had originally taken another course. There had been no alternative at the time than explain his reaction to her suddenly appearing at the Project during one of Sam's very first leaps. It was a fair question, one he’d asked himself on more than one occasion since then. But he hadn’t told her that, instead, he had offered a freshly laundered handkerchief to dry her eyes and then given her the answer that he had came up with each time he’d pondered the same thing. She was intelligent, insightful and beautiful. " Maybe not at this exact moment but most of the time." He’d joked trying to lighten her mood a little. "I mean when your hair is not covering half your face and your eyes aren’t all puffy and your nose isn’t red, you look really great." He knew he hadn’t actually answered her question regarding Sam’s unkempt promise. But what could he say. His remarks had been met with the first tiny glimpses of a smile. Immediately seeing the possibilities and using every ounce of Calavicci charm he could muster he added quickly. " What man in his right mind wouldn’t want you around." Grinning broadly as he loosely wrapped one arm around her shoulders. "It’s going to be okay kid, you know that." Very slowly she had nodded in agreement. He still had it. Her smile had grown and finally matched his own and that was it, case closed.


Running his fingers through his uncombed hair Al adjusted his gown and shifted wearily in his chair. His eyes were fully accustomed to the rooms low illumination now and he peered across the room at his sleeping visitor. Maybe if he’d answered differently all those months ago she would have left, would of said enough and called it quits.

Verbena never actually came right out and said it, but she didn’t need too. It had taken him awhile, but eventually what Verbena had said and his own slow adding of evidence he had concluded and finally now months later he understood the magnitude of what he had averted. During the week prior to their confrontation Donna had seriously considered leaving. Not just Sam but the project. The cartons he’d seen in her office that night. He’d assumed had been used to deliver her latest request for office supplies and that maintenance just hadn’t got around to collecting them yet. Actually they’d been removed by her from the projects recycling shed on the surface and brought eight levels below the earth. The phone calls Verbena had mentioned to M I T and Washington, the purposeful distancing from them all that also hadn’t to him seemed important at the time. It all made sense. If he hadn’t persisted, hadn’t cared, not so much for himself but for Sam she would not be here. Their alliance would of not developed beyond what he vaguely remembered as being no more than congenial tolerance of one another before Sam's brief return and last night would of never occurred.

After four and a half years as observer he had watched Sam almost daily, alter the lives of the people he’d leaped into or those of the one’s around them. Watched Sam on several leaps attempt to change his own past and then been the one to deal with them when he succeeded. Unlike Sam there had only been one occasion in the past, not including last night when he’d wished he could turn back time and make things different for himself.

Difficult as it was Al managed to divert his gaze elsewhere in the room. Away from the woman who was the constant reminder of the changes Sam had made, he folded his arms against his chest hoping to generate a little more warmth and stared for a time at the carpeted floor in front of his bare feet.

It was not that he wasn’t grateful for a few changes Sam had made to the events in the past that touch him directly, mostly he was. Having Donna here wasn’t so bad, she was everything that he’d told she was that night in her office. He’d hate to think what it would be like around here without her. And just recently Sam had saved his younger self from the gas chamber and lieutenant Lisa Sherman, USN from an ultimately death. Because of that he’d had two extra years with her before they finally went their separate ways. Two wonderful years he had not had before. The updates made while Sam was here for those short hours six months ago may not have enabled them to retrieve him. But they had made it possible for them, to use Sam's analogy ‘hit the bulls eye’. They were successfully able to leap Bingo back to a specific time and change the events that had lead to Lisa’s death in the original history. But there were other times, times when he could quite gladly kicked Sam Beckett’s butt. Unfortunately there was little point bringing any of his complaints up with his friend, very conveniently Sam honestly had no memory of many alteration in time which he was responsible for. Convenient for Sam but it made life damned difficult for the rest of them.

Wouldn’t that be nice Al mused as he checked once more on the woman he’d loved and protected these past month’s in her husbands absence. Now in varying degrees he done it all, watching over her while she slept was new but something he knew he could easily become accustomed to. She slept so soundly, so blissfully aware of anything other than the sweet dreams he’d wished her moments before she’d fallen asleep in his arms. Wouldn’t it be nice, if like Sam when morning came neither of them had any memory of the night before. Only of a friendship that had endured and been made stronger. Not that he wished to forget everything, just that it would at least making working and living together a bit easier. They could go on as they had no one would be hurt by what he’d done. If he could make it all disappear and instead of him, she could wake up with...........

Part 4 "Oh Boy"

During the ten minutes it had taken Al to shower, shave, and dress, he had quickly formulated a plan to accompany his initial idea. To be exact, just how he intended to turn back time. Adding another five minutes to make the necessary arrangements and to acquire an ally, leaving his quarters at precisely 4:55 a m. Means and know how weren't a problem, opportunity how ever was another story, it was now or never.

Electing to take the stairs rather than the elevator he had travelled, until now at a constant pace downwards. Each foot fall taking him closer to his destination. And with each and every step he had gained conviction. The short conversation with Gooshie minutes earlier had erased any doubt from his mind that he might have had before about what had to be done. Now only meters from the tenth level exit door he stopped.

He knew, how he knew, Al didn't know, but some how Gooshie knew about his infatuation with Donna. He was certain of it, and if he knew, Al didn't need Ziggy to give him the odds on how many others knew as well. News, especially that sort of news travelled faster in this place than it did in most of the B L Q's he'd lived in over the years. The head programmer had argued with him briefly before he had finally agreed to help him, well if he hadn't, frankly Al would of been a disappointed. What he had mind was dangerous, not to mention highly irregular. Then as if someone had whispered the very reasons for the need and urgency for his expertise to the other man, Gooshie had stopped arguing, sighed heavily through the phone and asked simply if this had anything to do with......? He had not used a name or given any indication he was referring to a past or recent situation but the unfinished question had stopped Al mid sentence. He didn't answer or ask Gooshie to elaborate further. He couldn't think of what to say, or how he could possibly explain what the other man had obviously guessed. For a moment the line between them hung silent, empty space questioning and confirming as neither spoke. It hadn't even occurred to him before that anyone would consider what he'd been doing all these months with Donna was anything other than exercising his own unique form of support. It was expected he thought, that he do what ever was necessary to help both of them, Sam and Donna until what ever was responsible for Sam's leaps through time reunited them.- No, that wasn't true, who was he trying to kid? It had occurred to him, and that should of been enough.

Several times in the last couple of days he'd had the feeling he should of slowed down and backed off a little. Last night before he'd left his office to meet her he had anticipated the evening ahead far more enthusiastically then he should have. Taking the required information for the budget report with him even though he half expected they'd return to his office to work. A tiny part of him, the part which had eventually won, had hoped they would go back to his or perhaps her quarters, complete the report and at the same time spend a few hours together with a reasonable degree of privacy. Away from the ever present surveillance and constant interjections of Ziggy, the projects built in cynic and chaperon. And, he figured if he was lucky they would finish their work, chat for awhile and she would afford him one chaste, brotherly kiss on the cheek before they parted company. Oh damn, he should of stopped then, should of listened to what his gut was telling him. Made an excuse, any excuse, not to meet her, taken a drive into town and finished the report himself in the morning.

A violent thump from above the repentive train of thought suddenly, someone was coming. One of the heavy steel doors on an upper level slammed shut, reverberating loudly in the concrete stairwell. And within seconds hurried foot steps could be heard approaching. With the distance between and the intruder closing quickly, Al fled.


The scene that greeted Al when he entered main control was the one he had expected. Considering it was Saturday, and they were for the time being on what was laughingly referred to as normal time and not being governed by one of Sams leaps. The project hub was relatively deserted. A single M.P. stood at ease near the bottom of the ramp which lead to the imagining chamber. And a skeleton crew of technicians manned the main control panel. A middle aged man, Jeffery Petersen, who had been with the team three years and a attractive fair haired woman. Al vaguely remembered dancing with her at the project Christmas party. Both individuals listened as he gave the required instructions, obviously a little taken back by the sudden and unusual request. Perplexed faces exchanged uncertain glances. Two sets of eyes darted between himself and the projects head programmer as he spoke. Gooshie, much to his surprise, was already there when he arrived, only nodded in agreement when he had finished speaking. Without a moment hesitation both technicians obediently went about the tasks they'd been set. The M.P. across the room, Al noticed, watched the goings on with reserved interest. Whether he posed a threat or not Al couldn't tell. He looked okay, he decided. There was another one on guard duty outside as well, but they hadn't seen him, only Gooshie.

Part of his decision to take the stairs was so he could avoid being seen by as few people as possible. All he needed right now was one of Weitzmans cohorts to see him and cotton on to what he was up to, that would really sink his ship.

Al Calavicci was well aware his mind tended to wander more often these days than it did normally. Stress and guilt had their own strange ways of catching up with a man. And he believed, there was plenty of justification lately for it to have reason t do so. But now was not the time to be dwelling too long on the errors of his ways or the possibility of premature senility. In this case his fears were valid, he wasn't imagining spys where there were none, they were there alright. They'd been there from the very beginning, ever since Sam had leaped and left him in charge. Weitzman didn't like him, fair enough, Al didn't like Weitzman either! He always seemed to be waiting for any excuse to pull him off the Project. He'd actually managed it once, but with a little creative thinking and the help of one very cooperative red head Al had quickly taken care of that.

Under any other circumstances he wouldn't give Weitzmans people a second thought. Usually he considered them no more that a slight nuisance, like many other things that came with the job. He knew he couldn't change them, but he also had the sneaking suspicion he would be a fool if he ever tried to completely ignore their existence.

A fermi-suit was fetched and handed over. Standing to one side of the control housing Al stripped to his shorts and donned the suit as quickly as he could. One size fits all, what a pile of rubbish he complained, as he tugged it on. The suits sheer elastic fabric clung too tightly around his midriff and then it sagged in other places, places Al would rather it didn't. Ziggy, to his relief, had kept her comments regarding his attire, or lack of it to a minimum. Far too busy, deep in discussion with Gooshie to offer any more than a passing remark about his legs.

Taking advantage of a vacant office chair Al used it and a clipboard to strategically cover his awkwardness. Casually glancing over the previous shifts status report attached to the perspex while he waited. There was nothing he could do now, but wait. Gooshie and his charges had everything under control, one had taken off some place, the chamber no doubt. The other, Petersen, was busily recalibrating the relevant software, as Ziggy offered precise calculations for the desired point of arrival. Time at the moment was his only real concern. It was only a matter of minutes from the time he and Sam had figured out Tom Jarret and Susan Eslinga had not committed suicide on the 15th of June 1945. They had actually been murdered by Clifford 'the nozzle' White, and Sam taking his place as leaper again. For a least half of that time he, Al, had been knocked out cold. They couldn't expect anything at all to change if Al arrived before Clifford showed up or Sam had a chance to make the necessary adjustments. So for best results it had to between Sam leaving the imaging chamber, making the alteration to the appropriate programs and before he reentered the accelerator chamber. That left them with approximately 30 seconds in which time to work. Allowing for how long it would take for him to recover after the leap, the available time decreased considerably . Ziggy concluded as Al's recovery rate was the only unknown element they could depend on ten seconds maximum. Ten seconds for him to alter his, Toms, Susans, Sams and Donnas futures. I t wasn't much time. No matter how slowly he counted, ten seconds didn't seem long enough to do so much.

Carrying the clipboard with him Al stood up and walked slowly to the front of the instrument panel. It's multicoloured cubes glowed and flashed rhythmically, bathing Gooshie and the remaining technicians in it's colourful array. Pink, yellow, blue and then it held a steady green for several beats before it repeated the sequence again. No one spoke. Ziggy's sphere hung suspended overhead, humming continuously, but otherwise the parallel hybrid computer was also mute, for a change. Not one of them believed he could do it. It was written clearly all over their bleak faces. Turning on his heels, Al spun around, the silent M P stood poker faced a few feet away. He too seemed to hold an opinion on the subject, though AL doubted he would give it even if it was asked for. It didn't matter what any of them thought, he had no choice now. If ten seconds was all he had, it would have to be enough.

He was in the process of turning back towards the console when Ziggy finally spoke again. Her voice gently interrupting his thoughts. "Admiral I must strongly advise you against this present line of action."

"Yeah, yeah I know ......... you don't think I'm up to the job either!" Al faced the projects head programmer as he answered. Gooshie returned his glare momentarily and the directed his attention to the man operating the trial program bedside him. Speaking quietly with the technician before the other man took off across the control room. Al watched him go.

"No Admiral, that's not what I think . Though I do believe you are far more suited to the position you presently fill. I have, however run several scenarios, and I believe that in the possibility of your success, which I give a 86 % probability, Doctor Beckett and yourself would continue to suffer from the partial personality meld you experienced before. In this case Admiral, Doctor Beckett will retain much of your distinctive character traits until which time he is able to retrieve you."

"So, he'd adjust. I don't see how that's a problem ? Observing is hell of a lot easier than leaping, Sam will do fine. And I think I can handle being a boy scout for a couple of days"

"You are correct Admiral, you will also receive some of Doctor Becketts attributes. Though I don't think you fully understand. this unusual phenomenon may hamper his abilities and retrieving you may take longer than a few days." Al did understand, it wasn't Sam's ability to cope Ziggy was concerned with. He also knew as a leaper, he would have to deal with a lot more than budget reports and the likes of Weitzman and the other nozzles in Washington. "As I have already said before Admiral......"

"Ziggy" Gooshie cut the hybrid computer off before she had a chance to finish. The technician had returned, Al noticed, muttering something to Gooshie and quickly disappearing again. "Please locate pulse technician Vicker's." Gooshie's voice was raised above its usual meek level and the nerve under his left eye had begun to twitch. "I sent her to set the operating levels in the accelerator to capacity ten minutes ago.

Ziggy paused a moment and answered , her earlier pensive tones replaced by a more business like mode. " Tori Vicker's is presently in Doctor Beeks outer office, where she is engaged in a telephone conversation with an unknown party."

"What?" Gooshie and Al answered together. "Who's she talking to?" They both demanded to know. The nerve under Gooshie's eye was twitching a mile a minute now, a sure sign that something was not as it should be. His face was slowly turning the same shade of red as his thinning hair. And a string of profanity was steadily maintained as his hands moved at a frantic rate across the control panel.

"I cannot tell you to whom she is speaking, only that she is in contact with someone within the project. Contrary to popular belief I am unable to eavesdrop on telephone conversations while they are in progress. I rely on security surveillance and records from the telephone companies for my data.

"Okay, just tell me when she's off the phone." Al had begun to pace nervously, instinctively raising his right hand to his chest in search of a pocket that wasn't there. Damn, he'd forgotten to grab a cigar before he'd left his quarters. No longer worried about the uncomfortable nature of his clothing he discarded the clipboard on the office chair as he passed by it. This wasn't good.

"Admiral you should also be aware this is the second such call made from this particular extension in the past eight minutes."

"Well can you tell us who the last call was to Ziggy ?" Al asked as he glanced back over his shoulder at the M.P. and then back at Gooshie. Petersen was back again, and he and Gooshie were busily running checks on the software. Final checks, Al hoped.

"Who exactly, as I have said before is difficult to ascertain, available records show the call was made to a number in Washington. 555 52....... her voice trailed off as Al made the connection.


"Yes Admiral, the number in question is for Senator and Mrs Weitzmans private residence in the nations capital.

"Oh boy"

Pulse technician Tori Vicker's ex project employee, re entered main control a split second after Ziggy has informed Al and the other occupants of the room the woman in question had moments earlier broken the phone connection in which she'd been involved. She stood silent and alone between Al and the M.P. with her mouth hanging open, much like a fish gasping for air Al thought, as Ziggy continued to relay to them the details of her recent movements. Doctor Verbena Beeks, they were told had been the recipient of Vicker's last call. And she, in turn had also made a call. To project security.

Leaving Gooshie to face Verbena to face Verbena and the guards when they arrived Al strode up the ramp to the accelerator chamber. Once inside , he quickly keyed in the security code for the door and waited for it to slide shut, it's sound magnified in the large expanse of the empty chamber. Neon blue walls surrounded him as he took his first unsteady steps towards the middle of the massive room. His fermi-suit stark white against the bright walls gave the illusion of sterility, of safety. The stray thought almost made him laugh aloud, yes he should feel safe, and for awhile he supposed he was. But for how long? Another minute or two on the outside he guessed, as he took the last step onto the silver disc marking the chambers centre. No sooner had he made physical contact with the disc growing sounds from outside the large octagonal room erased the tentative feelings of safety he'd been harbouring. The main control alarm sounded, its ferocity building as new feelings took over and the last threads of confidence slipped away.

At any moment now, armed men were going to burst through the door he'd just secured, grab him, cart him away, and hand him over to Verbena's friends with the white coats. And then they'd take him to another room, maybe it wouldn't be quite as large as this one, but it would be big, huge! The walls wouldn't be blue, like these, or even drab grey like the ones in his office. This time they'd be white, and padded. He stared at the chamber door, searching vigorously for signs of a breach. Thankfully it was still shut. Still watching, still expecting it to open he shouted over the raised voices and the shrilling alarm outside, "Come on Gooshie. I'm ready, do it."

The instant rush of air that came at him simultaneously from all sides was his immediate response. It's sudden force pushed at him forming a spontaneous whirlpool around him at it's invisible centre. "Thank you. "He whispered to the ceiling. Once the program was running nothing would interfere. No one would risk even his life for the sake of project protocol. Ziggy would not allow it, no matter what was overridden to shut the program down, it would keep going. The pulsing electricity ran the length and breadth of his body, snaking up and down him, along each limb making it almost impossible to move against it's shuddering force. Though he could he discovered, just a little, along with his hair, his arms had been involuntarily pushed out and up, they could be lowered slightly, and for what seemed an eternity, he willed them down. He had to remember, he couldn't afford a moments hesitation, there would be no time to make a mistake, no second chances. If he did, everything he'd done, and risked would be in vain. He would die, Sam would continue to leap, Donna would be alone. No, he would not forget. Allowing the surrounding forces to take him, his arms rose once more. Fingers stretching and reaching for the ceiling, the pulsating electricity intensifying and increasing as it ran not just over him now, but through him until with one final spine shaking shudder, he leaped.


"I can't let him die."

"And I can't let you go, not when you've just come back to me."

"It isn't fair Sam, it just isn't fair."

Sounds close by, others muffled and faint through a closed door.

" Please don't leave me again, I don't think I can stand it if you left me again."

Water running, the soft buzz of an electric razor. A voice lowered in conversation, words unrecognisable spoken to an unheard conspirator.

Donna Elesee woke, disorientated and cold. Laying perfectly still as her eyes sluggishly focused on her surroundings. Timidly she reached across the mattress to the other side of the bed, it was empty. Were the sounds that had awakened her part of the interrupted dream fading quickly now as she surfaced from sleep. Or were they real evidence of something that after all these years she still found difficult to believe.

According to the clock on the dresser was 4:20 a.m. Lightly brushing the sleep from her eyes she gathered the woollen blanket around her and rose slowly. The whole room was cold, and she shivered as she walked to the end of the bed. The light in the bathroom was burning brightly behind the door purposely set ajar. Only a dream she told herself. It had been at least a year since she'd stopped using it to help her go to sleep at night. Smiling inwardly, she peered inside, hoping to find it's last occupant still there. Disappointed to find the room empty, she turned a blind eye to it's dishevelled state and turned the light off.

It has been a long time, too long since she had shared space with anyone. The rooms of her quarters had been silent and ordered for so long that the only sounds and signs of disarray for years had been made by herself as she moved through her days and nights alone. Now she woke most mornings, to the same sounds and sensations that had awakened her this morning also. The dreams that had haunted her sleep for all those years had become less frequent in the last months since his return, but they still managed to leave her a little confused and frightened. She had come so close that same day, almost six months ago now to losing him once more.

Moving with familiar ease through the darkened rooms she found him standing alone on the balcony. Huddled beneath the warmth of her blanket she stood watching the silhouetted form of her husband through the open doorway that lead to the outside. A brisk desert breeze ruffled his hair as he stared out into the darkness surrounded by a backdrop of brilliant stars.

"Sam." The tall figure turned to face her, smiling. "Is everything okay?" she asked.

"He leaped"


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