Chapter XI DECEMBER 16, 1955 KEARNEY, NEW JERSEY Sam dragged himself out of bed. He'd barely slept a wink, the events at the abandoned building playing over and over in his mind. The images had been clearer than Sam would have liked, and each time he'd seem himself reach for the gun, he cringed. It wasn't hard to feel the guilt with such undeniable evidence. After two sleepless nights, he was grateful that it was Saturday and he wasn't expected to function as a teacher. He pulled on Gena's bathrobe, heading for the source freshly brewed coffee and homemade breakfast. Lowell and Dwight were seated at the dining table and Eudora was bustling around the kitchen, preparing breakfast, when Sam entered. ``Good heavens, Eugenia,'' Eudora exclaimed, ``you look terrible! I'm calling the doctor.'' Sam shook his head, taking his seat at the table. ``I'm fine. I just didn't sleep well, that's all.'' ``Again? More like, `not at all,''' Eudora insisted, glaring worriedly at him. Dorothy entered from the pantry, carrying a box of pancake mix, just as the Imaging Chamber door opened, startling Sam. Dorothy crossed Al's line of vision just as she was noticing her `mother' at the table. ``Mom, is something wrong?'' ``She didn't sleep well,'' Eudora informed. Surprise at Al's early appearance, and a sudden dawning as to who Dorothy resembled, struck Sam momentarily speechless. True, Beth and Dorothy were by no means identical, however there were enough similarities between the two for even Al to do a double-take. Al's expression became one of surprised bewilderment, to one of disappointed realization, as Dorothy crossed to stand next to Sam. ``Why don't you go back to bed, Mom?'' ``You should,'' Eudora agreed. ``You're going to need all your energy and wits about you later for the casting.'' Their insistence made Sam's departure smoother, but he still hesitated a moment before nodding. With feigned reluctance, he stood up and left the kitchen area, Al right behind him. The door closed behind them and both men attempted to speak at once. ``Sam,'' Al began, ``I'm sorry --'' ``No, Al, I'm sorry. It was my fault,'' Sam insisted. Both stopped and looked at each other. Al looked as worn out as Sam felt. ``You didn't get any sleep, did you?'' Al shook his head. ``Guilt,'' he explained. He gave the scientist an appraising look. ``You look like you didn't get any sleep either.'' ``No. I couldn't get the incident out of my head,'' Sam told him quietly. ``I'm truly sorry, Al. I never --'' ``Don't apologize, Sam. It was an accident. I shouldn't blame you for that. I'm sorry.'' They were both quiet for a moment. Al still had a depressed air about him, but the anger was gone. For the first time, Sam noticed the wedding ring on his friend's finger. ``You're married?'' Al looked down at the band. ``Yeah. I don't know if you remember her, Sam. It's Sabina Barnhilt.'' Sam couldn't and he shook his head. ``Well, she's wife number three.'' Sam nodded. Al appeared to grow uncomfortable with the topic of conversation, so Sam changed it. ``Does Ziggy have anything for me?'' ``No,'' Al said, tinkering with the handlink with a small frown. ``She's been working on it for hours. However, she did say that Gena's daughter Dorothy marries Lowell Montgomery, and they, with their children and Dwight Forrester --'' ``Dorothy's son?'' Sam asked. Al paused, consulting the link. ``Oh. Yeah. I guess he keeps his father's name. Anyway, they all turn out fine. Gena passed away, in her sleep, in 1998. Eudora,'' Al paused again, raised an eyebrow at the handlink, and shook his head. ``Eudora Hawthorne passed away a year before her sister, also in her sleep. It looks like you're not here for them, Sam.'' It was Sam's turn to frown. ``So, Ziggy hasn't come across anything for me to change?'' ``Not on this family. She's saying everything works out peachy for this bunch. She's still processing data, and it'll be awhile yet, Sam.'' Sam sighed. *Figures*. He flopped down on the bed, weary. ``What about the Christmas pageant? Does she have anything on that?'' Al conferred with the handlink. ``Ziggy asks if you're trying to be funny. She has no data on Christmas pageants,'' he informed Sam. Sam closed his eyes, wondering if there was a way to reprogram his computer from the past without having to wait for the mail to be delivered forty-five years later. ``Tell her, a simple `yes' or `no' answer was sufficient.'' He sat up and looked at his friend. ``Al?'' ``Yeah?'' Sam hesitated. The topic Sam wanted to broach was a delicate one and he didn't want Al to take it the wrong way. ``Has . . .has Ziggy given you any odds--'' Al cut him off gently. ``I didn't ask her, Sam.'' He shrugged. ``I'll just have to make the most of this life, you know? Maybe, when this leap is over, I'll forget.'' The sad and defeated tone caught at Sam's heart. Before he could speak again, Al said, ``Uh, Sam, I've gotta go. Sabina's daughter, Claudine, is flying out to New Mexico and I've gotta pick her up from the airport. It shouldn't take too long.'' *I'm so sorry, Al. I wish there was a way for me to fix things.* The Chamber door closed, separating Sam from his friend. With a sigh, he fell back on Gena's pillows and stared up at the ceiling until he fell asleep. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ``Al?'' According to Ziggy, Al had told Sam he had to pick up Claudine from the airport. Ziggy informed her that Sam had been asking Al questions that made him uncomfortable. Donna figured Al couldn't handle it any longer. Not if Sam was going to keep asking him about wives and the probability of changing things again. With instructions to be informed immediately when they found any information for Sam, Al came straight here. Some one else would be picking Claudine up from the airport. Al looked up from the paperwork to see Donna standing in his doorway. ``What's up?'' he asked, putting his work aside. ``Well, I think I've figured it out. About Sammie Jo.'' She took the chair across from him. ``How is she? I haven't seen her today.'' ``Oh, she's fine. Going about her job as if nothings bothering her. Verbena is now convinced that it has nothing to do her trying to block everything painful. She truly doesn't remember a thing.'' Al sat back in his chair, waiting to hear what she'd come up with. ``Go on.'' ``Well, we, that is, Verbena, Sabina, and I thought it had something to do with . . .Beth. But we were only half right.'' ``How so?'' Al asked, squirming slightly at the mention of her name. ``Well, we think it has something to do with genetics. You see, if you have a link to Sam through Ziggy, then theoretically there should be a link between Sammie Jo and your children.'' Al frowned. ``But, Ziggy and Verbena had been keeping track of that. The girls never experienced the shift like I do.'' ``Right, and at first, we took that into consideration and originally nixed that theory. However, your daughters, including Calista, did not work closely with Ziggy. I think, and Ziggy agrees, had *any* of your daughters been involved with the project, that daughter would have been effected the same as you.'' Al seemed to be turning it over in his mind. ``Then why did Sammie Jo, initially, remember?'' ``That, we haven't figured out yet. The going theory is she slept it off. That time `caught up', so to speak.'' She paused, looking sympathetically at him. ``Ziggy feels that, eventually, you'll forget, too.'' Al closed his eyes for a second, saying nothing. Donna could tell that he wanted to be left alone. ``If we come up with anything different,'' she said, standing, ``I'll get back with you.'' ``Did you know that Sam wanted to know the odds of him fixing . . .this?'' Donna nodded. Ziggy had informed her of that. He fiddled with the gold pen he received as a gift from Sam when he retired. ``I don't want have Ziggy confirm it for me.'' ``I understand, Al.'' She turned and left him. Once in her own office, she pulled up the data Ziggy had already collected on Sam's current leap. Though Al didn't want to know the odds of Sam saving Beth's life, Donna did. If Ziggy's research failed to turn up anything, Al wouldn't have to know she was doing this for him. And if by some miracle Sam's mission is to save the life of one of Eugenia Grayson's students, one that could have an significant impact on the lives of Kenneth and Michael Murphy, then everyone goes away happy. Well, except for her. Sam was still out there. Still, she knew Sam would want to do this for Al. ``Start running scenarios, based on the data collected on the brothers.'' ``Yes, Dr. Elesee.'' ``Oh, and Ziggy?'' ``Yes?'' ``Keep it to yourself.''