AUTHOR'S NOTES: Finally!!! I wish to thank Ann Marie for her editing. And I apologize for the long wait. :D Oh, and there are no time/date indicators in this chapter, since Sam leaped out in the previous chapter. Christina December 1997 ================ Chapter 12 Al stood momentarily stunned. George was standing in front of him, where Sam had stood, looking confused and disoriented. He was staring at his car as if he had never seen it before. Al gave his tall blonde friend a sympathetic look. Al knew the feeling. Sam had leaped, and Al was still connected to this past. "George?" The confused man did not respond to his presence. "Gushie! Center me on Sam! Now!" "We're trying, Admiral. We need a minute or two to get a lock," Gushie replied. "What to do mean, ‘get a lock'? He still in the same time and place!" "Yes, sir, we know. However, Dr. Beckett is no longer the same person." "Well, why don't you center me on me? What are the odds he leaped into me?" "Ziggy hasn't run those numbers yet, Admiral. Your wife and Dr. Fuller are in the Waiting Room now and we should have a lock soon." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Sam blinked, and caught himself before he fell off the chair his new host was about to sit on. As luck would have it, he was sitting down in front of a mirror, and therefore knew the general information he usually needed on a leap: who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why. And for once, Sam wasn't about to complain about being a woman. Kelly was in the process of getting ready for her date when Sam took over, and he already had a plan of action in mind. First he had to find a phone and call of the date, hopefully regaining the week he lost. Al popped in next to him. "This is a first," Al commented. "Kelly is back here, calm as can be. She recognized Beth the second she saw her, and Beth nearly fainted dead away when Kelly called her by name. Of course, the first thought in everyone's mind was that you'd had leaped into me." "Al, I'm going to call off this date, to buy us some time." "Good idea, Sam." "I can handle, I think, being a nurse for a week." "Yeah, but in 1960? Don't you remember Samantha Stormer? The crackdown on sexual harassment is decades away." Sam had completely forgotten that. It didn't matter. Kelly was the only person who could save her own life, and Sam knew he could bluff his way through her life better than George's. What little he could remember of medical school would come in handy as a nurse. Sam stood up, about to go for the phone. In the process, he knocked over Kelly's purse, spilling the contents. Her compact popped open and broke at Al's feet. Both men stared at the compact. Taped in the recess behind one of the mirrors, was a small key. A strange feeling, a premonition, came over Sam. "Al, did the investigators inventory Kelly's purse each time she died?" "Let's see. Yeah, they did." As Al read the description of each item, Sam picked it up and placed it back in her purse. They repeated the process with each version of the investigation reports, and each report was identical: the only item still laying on the floor was the now ruined compact. The pair looked at one another. "You wanna bet she died for that key?" "But whose is it? I mean, it can't be hers, could it? If it isn't hers, how did it get in her compact?" Sam asked, carefully removing the key without detaching the tape entirely from the compact. "I'll have Ziggy run a trace on the key's serial number. Maybe we'll get lucky." Sam called out the number, and they waited. "You know, Al, if she died because of this key, how was I ever going to save her life as George?" Al shrugged. "Maybe you'd have to do the spy thing. You know, follow Henry around, call his former employers, snoop. George has pots of money to throw around, plenty of contacts, and a week of free time. You could have turned something up by then, with help from Ziggy and me of course." "If it's Henry's key." "Even if it turns out not to be his, Henry's involved in this somehow." "But he didn't kill her, it was an accomplice, right? It wasn't a warning shot from anyone against him," Sam pointed out. "Good point. Nailing him may or may not have prevented her death, Sam, but snooping around could've led to the killer." "And it still doesn't explain Lenora's death," Sam added. "Sheesh, Sam. One thing a time. Let's find out who owns the key first. That should shed a light on things." The link chirped. "Well, she's narrowed it down to a safe deposit box in a Miami bank." "Didn't Henry die in Miami?" Sam said enthusiastically. They finally had some kind of lead. "Yeah." "Can she narrow it down to who owned the box?" "She's working on it now. She says to give her about fifteen minutes." Sam began to pace, shifting through the different versions of Kelly's death. "Al, Henry didn't kill her because he was at the bar or at that conference, with plenty of witnesses, right?" "We just agreed it was an accomplice, Sam." "Right, I know. But how did the murderer force her off the road, without attracting attention, and get her to drive to Bob's Diner? I mean, would Kelly stop for total strangers?" "Well, we've been researching that also, these last few hours, and that stumped us, too. Ziggy suggested her attacker was someone she knew, or wouldn't suspect. By the way, Ziggy's sure that there are at least three people involved in this. The guy Henry meets in the parking lot, the killer, and Henry. We're still not sure if there are more involved." Sam nodded. "Did it ever occur to Ziggy that one or more accomplices might be hiding out at the diner where she was found?" Al made a face. "I never liked the idea of the ambush anyway, Sam." They stood in silence for several more minutes, waiting for Ziggy. Finally, the little box burbled and Al read the information. His eyes grew wide. "Tom Crenshaw owns that box." Sam sat down, heavily, on Kelly's bed. "Of course. Someone she knew." "And who had access to her purse because they had lived together for a while," Al added, stunned. "She left him, so he didn't have the opportunity to get it back, or he simply forgot she had it." "Why put it there in the first place?" Al shrugged. "Safe keeping? He obviously never told her about it, otherwise he could have asked her for it anytime." "Does Ziggy have any idea about what's in that box?" "No. Sam, we don't know what we're dealing with. There are too many variable, too many possibilities." Al paused. "I have an idea." "Ok." "I'm not too crazy about it, but this is what I suggest you do: give the key back to Tom." Sam stared at him. "Will that save Kelly's life?" Al ran it past Ziggy. "If we do it right, it's 90%. We have to do it in such away as to convince Tom that Kelly isn't onto whatever he's involved in." Sam nodded slowly. "Ok. You check in on Tom and Henry, and I'll think about a way to do this." Sam wasn't crazy about the idea either, because if they were successful, Tom and his cohorts would still be at large, and Lenora's death would still be unexplained. There was an outside possibility that both men would suffer the same fate they originally had, but that wasn't very comforting. Al popped back in, several minutes later, disgusted. "Tom and his girlfriend are both in on this, Sam, as well as Henry and that guy in the parking lot. I caught them plotting. Henry's on his way to the restaurant, and Tom is on the way to the movies. It's his alibi, so he needs proof." That fit into Sam' s plan. "Does Tom have a strong box?" Al looked at him, as if he spoke another language. "Yes." "Good. I'm going over to Tom's place," Sam informed his hologram. "Can you let me in on your little plan?" Sam smiled. "Just watch." Al grumbled and punched up data, hoping to guess what Sam had in mind as they drove out to Tom's residence. They pulled up into the deserted driveway. Sam went up to the doorbell and rang it. "Sam, are you hard of hearing? I said he's gone already." Sam didn't answer him. It was part of his plan, just in case someone was spying on "Kelly". Sam went through the motions, as if he had no idea whether Tom was home or not. He walked back to Kelly's car, pulled out a small note book and began to compose a note to Tom. He already knew what he wanted to say, but he scratched through two versions, tore them out and stuff them in Kelly's purse. Al, all the while, was pestering him. "I'm leaving Kelly some evidence of what we did, just in case Tom questions her about it," Sam finally explained. He read aloud the final version. "‘Tom, Sorry I missed you. I found your strong box key in my compact. I suggest you tape it to the bottom of your sock drawer. I'll call tomorrow, to see if you got this note. Kelly'" "You think that's going to do the trick?" Al asked dubiously as Sam wrapped the key in the note, and slid it under the door. "Ask Ziggy." "The odds only went down a little, Sam." "I'm not finished yet, Al." Back at the barracks, Sam asked for the number to the restaurant, and did his best to sound and look ill as he left a message for Henry to call. Al noticed his act. "Are you going to enlighten me any, Sam?" "I'm calling off the date, Al. I've got to be convincing." The phone rang. Sam let it ring twice more before picking it up. "Hello?" "Hi, Kelly. I got the message. You don't sound so good." "I was on my way over and I stopped by my ex-boyfriend's place to drop off his strong box key, I think, and I started feeling sick to my stomach. I think that pizza is finally catching up with me. Or maybe I've got a cold coming on. I won't be there. Sorry." There was a long pause. "Oh." He paused again. "A strong box key?" "I guess. Tom must have thought my compact was a good, safe, place. I only discovered it this evening because the compact broke. Apparently he forgot all about it. I sure hope he had a spare. Heaven's knows what he would have done if he needed his birth certificate or an insurance policy." After spending several hours listening to Kelly Hardy talk, Sam was sure he sounded convincing, even with the sick act. The grin on Al's face was confirmation enough. "Personally, I don't care why he put it there." "I'm sure he had his reasons," Henry agreed. To Sam, he sounded relieved. "Fine by me. Well, have a good dinner. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go." "Brilliant, Sam," Al said, smiling. Ziggy chirped. Al looked amazed. "You've done it, Sam. Kelly doesn't die." Back in Kelly's room, Sam placed the compact and a reminder for Kelly to call both Tom and Henry and why, on her dressing table. Sam wanted to be sure Kelly had enough evidence and clues to what happened during her absence not to make Tom and Henry suspicious. "Ok, Al. What happens to them?" "Let's see." Al paused, waiting. "Ok. Henry breaks up with Kelly next week, saying he met someone else. This mends the friendship of Kelly and Janet, by the way. Tom stops by also to thank her for the key." He stopped. "Oh. Get this, Sam. Henry, Tom, Shirley Faure, and Roger Jennings are caught trying to sell secrets to --" Al stopped again and made a face. "Great. Tom and company turn out to be third rate spies on the KGB's payroll." He shook his head. "Anyway, they were caught trying to sell secrets to federal agents posing as KGB." Sam stared in amazement. "You're joking." "No. At the trial, Roger, he's the guy from the parking lot, confessed that Lenora and her boyfriend witnessed a trade. Henry killed Lenora and Roger killed the boyfriend. They also confess to plotting the murder of Kelly, which Tom would have carried out." "What happens to them?" "The death sentence." Sam shuddered. "When does all this come to light?" "1963." "Why did their history change, Al. Why didn't Tom die in a fire and why wasn't Henry murdered in Miami?" "Let's see," Al muttered, consulting the link. "Ziggy speculates that, maybe, the real KGB agents considered them a liabilities after Kelly was murdered. Tom and his bunch appeared to be inept," Al pointed out. "He planted an important key on his girlfriend, for Pete's sake. How dumb can that be?" "You haven't told me what happens to Kelly." Sam knew he wouldn't leap until Al told him. "She becomes Beth's maid of honor, for one thing. She stays on active duty and is stationed at Balboa in September 1969." Al glanced at him significantly. "She and your future sister-in-law, Sam, become good friends and act as a support group for Beth." This startled Sam. "My sister-in-law is a friend of Beth's?" "Yeah. Only because you changed history in April of 1969, Sam. You had a different sister-in-law before that. It's a domino effect. Anyway, Kelly ends up in a minor fender bender, shortly after she gets there. It's the other guy's fault. She later marries the guy's lawyer." Sam smiled. "It wouldn't be Dirk Simon, would it?" he asked, joking. Al's grew wide for a moment, then sighed in relief. "No. I'm glad." "Still holding a grudge?" "No." Sam, confused, asked "Why, then, are you glad?" "Because Ziggy told me that she had discovered that Dirk was cheating on Beth. I wouldn't want that to happen to Kelly instead." Sam felt his jaw drop as he stared, stunned, at the Observer. Before he could comment, he felt the familiar sensations of a Leap out. Al gave him a knowing look. It was time. "See you later, kid." "You too, Al."