AUTHOR'S NOTES: A big hug and many thanks to Ann Marie Tajuddin for proofreading Chapters 8-10. Chapter 8 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1960, NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA Sam rummaged through George's medical cabinet for aspirin. He had a splitting headache. After Al had left him, Sam paced for an hour, running over everything in his mind. The deaths were connected. He was sure of it. He went back to JP, who was not put out in the least by his grandson's strange behavior. Sam read a little more to the old man, and then JP talked the rest of the time. During the entire visit, Sam continued to reprocess the information, hoping to find a solution. There were just too many unknowns. One thing he knew for sure, he had no intentions of remaining George Whitmore-Jones for a whole week. After nearly 24 hours as the man, Sam was anxious to get this leap over with. He found the bottle and shook out two tablets. Sam filled a glass with water from the bathroom sink. He heard the Door open and went to investigate. "Hiya, Sam," the hologram said cheerfully. Al was dressed in a violet silk shirt and black pants. It was the third change of clothes (fourth if he counted the bathrobe) in less than 24 hours. "I see you made up with Beth," he commented, taking the aspirin. Al looked confused. "Huh? Make up with Beth? Sam, what are you talking about?" For a moment, Sam panicked. Then he saw the wedding band on Al's finger. "I thought that's why you looked out of it earlier. I thought you two had a fight." "Oh, that. No. She wasn't feeling too well earlier. You know, the shock finally hit her, about the other time line. I was just worried about her, and you, and Kelly. That's all." "I guess the news you have must be good, considering how cheerful you look." "As a matter-of-fact, I have nada. Ziggy's in a snit because Sammie Jo accused her of torturing her cat, and Beth chastised her for not taking the weather into consideration. The reason I look so cheerful, Sam, is because I took a nap. Alone. Well, the cat joined me." Sam blinked. "Cat? Weather? What are you talking about?" "Sammie Jo thinks the reason her cat is such a nervous wreck is because Ziggy teases him when he's alone," Al explained patiently. "And earlier today. . .well, actually, yesterday . . . Ziggy predicted my daughters and nieces would come to New Mexico, but she didn't take snow into consideration." "Snow in New Mexico?" There were days when Sam hated talking to Al. This was one of them. "No. Back East." "You have nieces?" Al looked slightly uncomfortable. "They're Beth's brother's kids." Sam frowned. "If Beth has family, why was she all alone in San Diego? What did they do, disown her for marrying you?" Al sighed. "Beth's illegitimate, Sam. All her mother's family, including her mother, are dead. Well, her grandmother is still alive in 1960. She never knew who her father was until you changed history." "Who's her father?" Al appeared to have a silent debate with himself. "Adam Whitmore-Jones," he finally replied. Sam's jaw dropped. "George is her brother?" "Yeah, funny isn't it? I mean, I married my best friend's sister, and no one ever knew. Now you know why she reminds JP of Catherine. She's their granddaughter." Sam sat down. "Who knows?" "In 1960? Only Adam, and he only found out last month. George finds out in 1967, and Beth and I find out around the same time you and I met at Star Bright." Sam felt slightly dazed. "Sometimes I forget how much of an impact one minor change can have." "Minor? Sam, that was hardly minor. Even with Ziggy spitting out odds, we never know, exactly, how certain changes will affect future events." "And now she's not spitting out anything. I suppose she wants a formal apology from Sammie Jo?" "Yeah." Sam sighed. "I guess we just see what happens tonight." Sam paused. "What did Beth have to say?" "You're acting weird and that she learns to play pool tonight," Al replied, fiddling with the link, in a vain attempt at getting information from Ziggy. Sam retrieved George's car keys and wallet, making sure the money was safely tucked away. He met the other Al on the porch, smoking a cigarette. Seeing him smoking, Sam realized that the Observer had yet to smoke a cigar in his presence on this leap. As they drove to the Nurses' barracks, the pilot turned to him and said, "You know, Chip went to the airport to meet the new pilots. I told him to bring them on by to Gino's to meet the gang." Sam just nodded. He had no idea what to say to him. The rest of the drive was silent, and Sam pulled into the parking lot. Beth and Kelly sat on the steps, waiting. Janet was no where in sight. Al and Beth met half way, and she kissed him. It lasted a little longer than Sam had expected and he looked away, in embarrassment, only to find himself looking at the Observer. The admiral watched the couple, smirking. Kelly spoke up, with mock irritation. "All right you two, it's not like you haven't seen each other in days." She looked at ‘George'. "Oh, Henry says thanks. He was flattered that you invited him." "Well, it's no big deal, really." Janet came out. There was some discussion as to who would sit where. Sam thought that the pilot should sit up front with him, and the pilot thought it should be Janet. In the end, the Observer advised him to go along with the young Al. They piled into George's car. Sam was at a loss on what to say to Janet, so he improvised. "You look very nice tonight, Janet." Sam was actually proud of himself for remembering her name. "Is that a new dress?" "No. I've worn this dress nearly every other week." Sam tried not to wince. "It looks different on you tonight." Janet glared at him and Sam began to squirm. From the back seat, he could her the muffled giggles from Beth and Kelly. He glanced out his side window, appealing to his Observer for help. Al just shook his head. "Way to go, Romeo." Sam came to the conclusion that he rather defend someone accused of murder than go out on a date with a woman he knew nothing about. Janet sat in unforgiving silence. Sam pulled into the parking lot of Gino's. The Observer moved out of his way as he got out. "Sam, I thought you should know that no one suspicious-looking was following the car." Sam nodded. Remembering all the manners and niceties his mother had instilled in him, he opened the car doors for the ladies. He offered his arm to Janet. Perplexed, she looked at him, before taking hold of it. Sam looked around for his Observer, but Al had disappeared. He was waiting for them just inside the entrance. "That's Henry over there." He was pointing to a nondescript young man, waiting at a booth. When the stranger saw Kelly, he waved. "He looks harmless," Al commented. Sam, unable to speak, gave him a knowing look. The small group introduced itself to Henry. Then came the discussion on seating. After a minute of polite debate, the Observer threw up his arms and said. "Sheesh! The invasion of Normandy was planned with less discussion!" Al waved his arms at the six. "Just get into the booth for crying out loud!" He was, of course, unheeded. It was finally decided that Al would set between Janet and Kelly on one side, and Beth would sit between ‘George' and Henry. Kelly and Henry sat closest to the wall. Sam secretly preferred it that way: the stranger was effectively boxed in. A debate on pizza toppings started. Sam was familiar with Al's experiments, and was a little taken aback when he realized that Beth was game to try whatever Al ordered. *Ah. The true secret to their long and successful marriage. Compatible taste buds.* When asked his preferences, Sam shrugged and said, "Whatever." While Al tried to convince the other three, Sam scanned the place for anyone suspicious-looking . He spotted a bank of pay phones and gave a small sigh. If he had a dire need to speak to his hologram, they wouldn't have to resort to the men's room. Sam looked around for the Observer and, at first, couldn't find him. He had walked away from the table when the topping debate started. Sam finally saw him near the bar, looking around, reminiscing. Al slowly made his way back toward Sam and the others. A mysterious smile crossed Al's face. "Gushie?" There was a pause while Gushie answered him. "Have Beth come into the Imaging Chamber, will you?" Sam tried to keep the surprise from showing. "Of course I'm serious, Gushie," Al snapped to the thin air. He paused, as if listening, and then blindly held out his arm. A hand closed over Al's, and standing next to him in a pair of jeans and a white cotton blouse, was Beth. A waiter walked through her from behind. Startled, she practically jumped into Al's arms. It looked as if she yelped, too, but Sam heard nothing. Beth wasn't looking specifically in his direction, but Sam could see the awe and wonder in her eyes. She turned to Al and said something. "No. Sam can only see you if you're touching me. And neither of you can hear the other." Their waiter appeared. The pilot had convinced the others to at least try the one he ordered. The waiter took their drink order and departed. While he was taking the order, Sam heard his Observer explain to his wife why he had invited her there. "I know it's not much," he was saying, " but I thought we'd take advantage of the situation and have a dance or two." He looked at Sam. "If Sam would just feed the jukebox." Beth looked directly at Sam. He smiled faintly. Beth face was pale as she studied her ‘brother's' face. Her eyes shifted to her younger self and she gave a little gasp. Al's arm tightened around her. Her gaze shifted again and she was looking at the young man sitting across from her. Sam didn't see her reaction because Janet spoke to him. "George. Are you all right? You're staring off into space." She was concerned. "I, ah, I was just remembering something, that's all." Henry mentioned the upcoming presidential elections and that caught Janet's attention. Janet was a Kennedy supporter and Henry, it appeared, was a for Nixon. Sam listened to the two of them for several minutes, not contributing anything. Unless the Observer informed him of George's political views, Sam thought it best to keep his mouth shut. "Sam, Beth and I are going to walk around outside, you know, looking for suspicious people or cars. Maybe something will jog our memories." He turned his attention back to the conversation. Henry, as far as Sam could tell, was a pleasant young man, well-mannered, with a quick smile and laugh. He was attentive to the opinions of others, including the three women seated with him, and he debated the issues with his dinner companions. It was hard to find fault with anything he said or did. So far. Something about him made Sam distrust him immensely. *Any man found murdered, the way he was, can't be honest,* Sam thought to himself. He ordered another soda and sat back to watch the political debate. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "Beth?" Beth blinked, feeling a bit wobbly. The transition from inside the restaurant to outside was over in a blink of an eye, but it's effects were dizzying. "I'm fine, Al," she said faintly, eyes everywhere. "Sorry, but I didn't think you were ready for walking through walls." She shuddered. "You're right." Beth watched in fascination as people walked past them, without seeing them. Beth wished she could hear what the people were saying, too. "Al?" "Yes, honey?" "Who do you see when you look at Sam?" "Sam. But it wasn't always like that. In the beginning, before Gushie and Sammie Jo developed more software and programs for Ziggy, I saw the leapee's aura, not Sam's." Al paused. "Who did you see?" "George." Beth had been shaken by the sight of her brother, herself, and the younger Al. There was something very innocent about the man who sat across the table from her at Gino's. It was his youthfulness, she supposed, but it was also the fact she was used to looking at the man who had survived a prison camp. She felt momentarily sad. Al was studying her, concerned. "Honey, you can go back, if it's too much for you." Beth shook her head. "Oh, I'm fine. It's just, well, overwhelming. The Imaging Chamber, seeing everyone, and remembering." She reach out, tentatively, and put her hand through a parked car. "I'm glad you invited me to observe with you." She kissed his cheek, as an added thanks. "Well, actually, I invited you to dance. But since there's a murder to be solved, an extra pair of eyes wouldn't hurt." "So, what are we going to do?" "Well, we'll watch the people in the parking lot. You know, see who goes in and who lingers. See who acts suspicious. Then we'll walk around the outside of the building." "OK." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Al was finishing off the last of the pizza when the Observer and his wife emerged from the back wall. The younger version of the couple had eagerly attacked the pizza when it arrived. Sam and the others had, to varying degrees, tried Al's latest experiment before taking a slice from the plain cheese pizza. Sam finished his slice. Kelly had two slices from the one Al ordered. Sam watched the holographic couple approach and realized that Beth was laughing. Or at least, she looked like she was laughing. She was also red-faced. Her husband was perplexed and amused. Sam stopped himself from asking what happened, but his questioning look did not escape the Observer's notice. "I don't know, Sam," Al replied to his unasked question. "We were walking around the building, and I was trying to pry something out of Ziggy." He waved the link at him, "so I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going. Not that I would have tripped over anything." He stopped and looked at this wife. "Anyway, she stops walking abruptly and before I could look around, she drags me through the wall." Sam waited patiently for the older Beth to stop laughing and tell her husband what was so funny. He glanced at the younger version, who was finishing her beer. "Al," she said to her boyfriend, "the pool table is free." "Sure. Let me finish this first." Sam looked in the direction of the pool tables, but the other Beth blocked his view. She was talking to Al. "You're kidding," he heard the Observer say in disbelief. Sam hoped it was a breakthrough with the leap. "Uh, Sam," Al informed him delicately. "Beth said she was about to investigate a parked car, and as we approached it, she realized . . . .well . . .it wasn't exactly empty. There was a couple inside, fogging up with windows, if you know what I mean?" Sam hung his head and sighed heavily. The woman next to him touched his arm and he looked up at her. "George, did the pizza upset you?" He gave her a genuine smile. "No, Beth." She gave him a puzzled smile. "Could you let me out, please?" Janet and Sam stood up to let the couple out, and they headed for the pool table. "We're going to wander around some more, Sam," Al informed him as he and Beth walked off, too. "So, Janet," Henry was saying. "Let's finish that argument we were having."