EPILOGUE FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2000, ADMIRAL CALAVICCI'S OFFICE, PQL "Well, that should keep the Senator off our backs for a couple of years," Jeanie Rothchild said, twirling the end of her green silk scarf. Fran nodded. "It always pays to save a pet project of our Committee members," she observed. Al glanced up at the two women. Jeannie was one of the women who, on the other time line, had been aloof around him. It was a little strange to see her so relaxed and friendly. A movement in the reception area caught his eye, before he could speak, and Claudine Barnhilt was waving at him. She was decked out in a dark green suit, instead of causal clothing, which told him immediately that she had to be somewhere, soon. She was here for the report he was now reading. She went back to talking to Ann Marie. He glanced back at Jeannie. "If his memory holds," he told her drily, referring back to her comment. "Oh, it will," Jeannie assured him. "We'll provide the research, but it will still take at least two years. That's less time it would take if they did it themselves, and we can do it without cutbacks on jobs or funding for them or us." "And," Fran added, "at a third of the cost, to boot." Al glanced at the figures. It was still a relatively large amount of money the other project was shoveling out to them for research. "Fran, make sure every penny of this goes into the Retrieval Program." "As always, Admiral," she replied. As he returned to reading the report, he could hear giggling in the reception area. He didn't look up. Al was anxious to clear out his In box. Sam wasn't projected to land at his next assignment until the following Wednesday, and Al had every intention of getting away from the project, with Beth, until at least Tuesday. After saving Kelly's life, Sam's next two leaps were nearly back-to-back. There was barely a few hours rest for Al when Sam leaped out of Pensacola and into yet another stand-up comic. Then from there, he leaped into yet another minor league ball player. They were tough leaps, too. Between that and the time differences, Al had been away from the office too long. Al had taken the time to flip through his wedding album, to incorporate in his memories Kelly's role in their lives. He even found a more recent photo of her and her husband, children, and grandchildren. It was a little strange for him to see her older. In his mind, she was always 24 years old. Beth, of course, didn't understand his curiosity until he explained it. She remember Sam leaping into George, and she remembered talking to him and seeing JP, but she could not remember Kelly's death. The giggling in the reception area was getting louder as Al closed the report. "Do you have any questions, Admiral?" Jeannie asked, trying not to giggle herself. Fran, he noticed, was also trying to keep a straight face. He narrowed his eyes at both women. "No. The report was thorough and pretty easy to understand. Not like the last one. Who wrote that one?" "Tina." they replied in unison. Tina had a habit of forgetting that most of the Committee, and himself, couldn't follow all the technobabble in her reports. Nothing written by her, for the Committee, was allowed to leave the project without being ‘translated' by Jeannie or June. Al signed the report just as Sammie Jo stepped into his office. "Al, do you have a moment?" Al sighed, and nodded, as he handed the report to Jeannie. "Don't forget to have Ann Marie make a copy before she turns it over to Claudine, Jeannie. Oh, and have Ann Marie come in for a second, too, please." Sammie Jo stepped out of their way, and sat down in a vacated chair. "Yes, Admiral?" Ann Marie asked, promptly stepping into the office. "Ann Marie, could you make reservations at the best hotel in Santa Fe--" "Already done, sir. Admiral Calavicci had me do that hours ago. She has me hunting down tickets for a show or play, but so far, all I can find is tickets for a puppet show at a children's theater." She was struggling to keep a straight face. Sammie Jo had to put a hand over her mouth. Al was pleased with the overall situation, but he wasn't sure how he should feel about Beth's plans. He didn't know if he should feel relieved that Ann Marie wasn't having any luck with the tickets. A small part of him told him he should be disappointed. After all, it was what Beth wanted. Al gave his assistant a small frown and nodded. "Where is she now?" "Packing, I think." This shocked Al. "Did she say when we're leaving?" Al had planned on leaving early Saturday morning. His assistant looked over at Sammie Jo and then at the almost empty In box. "As soon as you're finished here, Admiral," Ann Marie informed him. Al couldn't help but to smile. Beth was just as anxious to leave as he was. No point in making her wait any longer. "Give me a second to finish up with this stuff, Sammie Jo, and I'll be right with you," he told the scientist as he grabbed he rest of the paperwork from his box. "Unless this can wait until after I get back?" "No. Go ahead. I need to speak to you before you leave." She looked a little subdued. The giggling in the reception area resumed, and Jeannie and Fran had now joined in. Al knew a number of people who would feel paranoid about a group of women giggling outside their offices. Not Al. He wasn't even annoyed. The sound struck a cord with him, and he found himself missing his daughters and at the same time, feeling comforted by it. He hoped that they wouldn't stop, just because they might think he would find it inappropriate. Fortunately, the remainder of his paperwork was basically the "read and initial" variety, and Ann Marie's post-it notes cut back on the "read" part. He personally took the paperwork out to her, just as Claudine was leaving. She couldn't stop to chat. And neither could he, come to think of it. Al closed the door behind him and return to his desk. He took a real close look at Sammie Jo, something he hadn't had the chance to do since Sam's leap out of Pensacola. Something was bothering her. She looked a lot like Sam did when something was bothering him. On a hunch, he flipped Ziggy's monitors off. "What's on your mind, kid?" She shifted uncomfortably. "The past, actually." Al nodded. "Could you be a little more specific, Sammie Jo. That covers a lot of territory." She sighed. "Do you promise not to say anything to Beeks?" Al looked at her, a little amazed. "You're forgetting who you're talking to. Of course I won't say anything to Beeks." "Did she explain to you that, because of the neurocells, your daughters sometimes suffer from ‘disturbing dreams'?" she asked, hesitantly. Al nodded slowly. "Why? Did you get a call from one of them?" he asked, wondering where this was going. Beeks had explained to him that the girls sometimes got residuals from a leap. Bertie was the only one of the four who knew what it meant. Al now understood Bertie's feelings about time travel, and Sam's changing the past. So far, according to Beeks, none of the residuals has caused any alarm for the four Calavicci girls. However, Beeks arranged it so the three younger ones would come to her, if the ‘dreams' troubled them. "No. It happened to me." Al shifted in his chair. "When?" "When Sam changed things in 1969. When he convinced Beth to wait for you. I could almost, vaguely, remember what it was like here without her." Her shoulders slumped a bit. "And what it was like without Bertie." *Oh boy,* Al thought. This was dangerous ground. The answer to the unspoken question of why she had the vague memories was the same answer as before: the neurocells. It was the perfect opening, but Al wasn't about to tell her the truth. Donna felt it would be best to keep her in the dark about her relationship to Sam. Beth disagreed. She knew what it was like, after all, not to know who her real father was. Al agreed with Donna, only because Sammie Jo and Will had developed a close relationship. Al couldn't destroy that even for the truth. He realized that Sammie Jo was waiting for him to say something intelligent. "Why don't you want Beeks to know?" "Because she might hypnotize me," Sammie Jo replied, standing up. "I don't need her to accidently trigger things I want to forget." Al could sympathize with that. But Verbena knew the truth and wouldn't even suggest hypnosis. Now, if Beeks *hadn't* known, that was a different story all together. "Look, Sammie Jo, I'm sure Verbena knows what she's doing. Maybe she won't try anything like that, and if she does, she'll be careful." "You know what I think? I think it has something to do with Ziggy and me." Al kept his face expressionless. "In what way?" "Well, we spend a lot of time together." "Ah, Sammie Jo, it's a little hard not to. She's everywhere." "I don't mean it that way. I mean, we talk to one another; the same way I talk to Bertie." "Have you explain this to anyone else, besides me?" She shook her head. Al sighed. "Honey, why don't you talk to Donna? She might know why it happened this time. This is the first time it happened, right?" Let *her* make the decision to tell Sammie Jo the truth. She nodded again. "You might be on the right track, kid, but that way out of my league. You should talk to Donna and Beeks." He stood up. "And if Beeks tries anything funny, you come to me and I'll have a word with her. Okay?" Sammie Jo nodded again. "Thanks." He grinned. "For what?" he asked lightly. "All I did was pawn you off on Donna and Verbena." She laughed. "You listened, and tried to be objective." He held the door open for her. "I wish I could be more helpful....." He shrugged. "It's way over my head." Each headed in a different direction, he to join his wife, her to return to her lab. "Enjoy yourself this weekend, Al," she called out. He turned to her and smiled wickedly. "You can count on that, kid"