CHAPTER THREE


     "Remember, let me do the talking." Al told Sam before entering the large 
room in which
the meeting would be held. Sam took a deep breath and nodded. Almost 
immediately after they settled in their hotel suite earlier that day, they 
spent the next two hours recapping on the Leaps. As they initially thought, 
the "swiss-cheese" effect that had prevented Sam from remembering anything 
about his home life during the Leaps had taken a reverse effect once he got 
home. Now Sam couldn't remember anything that happened during the *Leaps* 
themselves. But Al did. Because he was in the Imaging Chamber instead of 
actually Leaping back in time, his memory was unaffected. He remembered 
*everything* that happened. He was sure the committee would ask Sam questions 
Sam wouldn't know how to answer because of the reverse "swiss-cheese" effect. 
So they both had a two hour recap; for Sam to remember and for Al to gain 
reassurance.
	Lightly tugging the jacket of his uniform, Al entered first, peering at their 

Project's skeptical funding committee under the brim of his cap. Sam followed 
behind, wearing a dark business suit. You'd never think of Al as an Admiral in 

his "normal" clothes. But when he wore his dress whites, he not only looked 
like an Admiral, he acting like one. For Sam, it was kind of scary to see his 
usually lecherous, fun and very eccentric best friend to act *serious*. Al 
explained his behavior once a long time ago and for Sam, once was enough. He 
said that his life was so filled with seriousness and tragedy that he wanted 
to leave it behind. Sam didn't quite understand the Admiral's meaning, but he 
kept any comment to himself.
	They both stopped and stood in front of their seats, letting Senator Bernard 
Wietzman, Senator George Harrison and Senator Diane McBride take their seats 
first. With a slight nod and a flat tone, McBride said, "You may be seated, 
gentleman." The Admiral and the Physicist obliged, coincidentally interlacing 
their hands in front of them at the same time. Al didn't noticed but Sam 
grinned a bit. 
	Harrison began, taking out an overstuffed manila folder and setting it down 
in front of him with a loud thud and said in the same tone used by McBride, 
"Shall we begin?"

* * * * * * * * * * 

	She sat on the edge of the bed, contemplating the suitcase in front of her. 
Had she packed everything? Should I really go through with it, she was 
thinking, I've been married for almost fourteen years. It was overwhelming for 

her. Fourteen years. She was thinking about all the memories he had left her. 
More bad then good. She remembered when they were dating in High School. He 
was so sweet then. He would surprise her with roses and send her love letters. 

Then before she knew it, they were married. "The perfect couple" their friends 

would say.
	She remembered when they were by the lake when he proposed to her. 
	---"I'll love you forever, Melissa. We will never be apart. Never." as he 
came closer he said, "I love you." Then gave her the most passionate kiss she 
had ever known.
	"I love you too." was all she could say before he tightened his arms around 
her and kissed her again.---
	Melissa shook her head as tears escaped her eyes, "Oh, Jerry. Why? Why can't 
you love me anymore? You promised to share your life with me. Why did you have 

to change? We were so. . . Why?"
	Fourteen years. An eternity.
	She made up her mind now. She would go. She stood, ambled over to his sock 
drawer and took out a wad of twenties. Two hundred fifty dollars of emergency 
money. Looking at the money in her hand, she became relieved that they never 
had children. She had always wanted at least one, but Jerry didn't. 
	"Selfish bastard." she said to no one in particular.
	With a little trouble, Melissa took off her wedding band. She left it on the 
nightstand next to a framed picture. The picture was of them on their wedding 
day. They looked so happy then. 
	She was ready to leave now. There was nothing else for her there. She picked 
up her purse and her suitcase and wandered out into the living room of the 
small apartment. Melissa looked around before opening the front door. It was 
too cold for her there. No love lingered in this place anymore. She *had* to 
go or her heart would be in anguish forever. "Good-bye Jerry. I hope you're 
happy." With her head held high, she opened the door and left without locking 
it.

* * * * * * * * * * 

	Sighing out of exasperation, Al walked outside followed by Sam. The meeting 
was over but the situation wasn't. So far, all they had established was 
history of the leaps. Now came the tough part. Proving it actually happened.  
	Sam walked halfway down the steps of the government building and leaned on 
the stair banister. He asked himself, How the hell are we going to prove it? 
He sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. Al came down the steps and 
stood in front of him.
	"Sam," Al asked, "how the hell are we going to prove it to those nozzles?" 
Sam hung his head and thought. When he didn't answer Al's question, Al asked, 
"You okay?"
	Sam looked up. "Uh, yeah. I'm fine. It's just that I haven't the slightest 
clue on how to prove that time travel is possible." He looked up at the sky, 
subconsciously waiting for an answer from the Almighty. "I don't know, Al. 
We'll have to come up with something."
	"We?" Al inquired, "What? Got a mouse in your pocket or somthin'?"
	"Oh, ha, ha, ha." Sam said, not amused. "No, we as in you and me."
	"Now, wait a minute." Al held up his hand then pointed to the physicist, 
"*You're* the brains in this outfit. Not me." 
	"You can't be serious. Al, without you, the Project itself would have never 
happened. Are you really going to sell yourself short like that? I need your 
help on this."
	Al was touched but didn't show it. He was excellent at masking his emotions. 
"Well, in that case, *we* will think of something. Now, what are we doing 
tonight?"
	"Tonight? I, uh, haven't really thought about it. . . "
	"There's a surprise." he mocked.
	"Okay, fine. To where were you plotting on dragging me tonight?" Sam 
questioned. The twosome started down the steps again. Al smiled at the 
question, knowing the the answer he would get from his friend would be a groan 

of irritation.
	"Well," Al began, grinning, "There's this great disco joint down Twelfth St."
	Yep. Sam groaned.

* * * * * * * * * *

	"So, how was last night?" Al asked with a grin, when he arrived back at the 
hotel the next morning. Sam had been packing his suitcase for the trip back 
home. Al had left him at that loud disco place last night, so it was the first 

time all morning that he had seen him. Sam looked up when Al spoke. He hadn't 
heard him enter the room.
	"All right, I guess. How about you?"
	Al smiled from ear to ear. "Great. You know that blond I met yesterday? Her 
name's Karine." Then his libido took over, "She said she wanted me to make her 

. . ."
	"Al!?"
	"Bed! Make her bed. Geez." Al sighed, deciding that it was better to change 
the subject. "Didn't I tell you that that was a really neat place? Glad you 
found your way back here okay."
	"It was more noisy than neat." he said under his breath. "You were worried 
that I wouldn't get back here on my own? For your information, I happen to 
know my way around. I'm not ten, you know." he stated bitterly. 
	Angered by the remark, Al snapped, "Hey, don't bite my head off about it! 
What's up with you? Why all the hard feelings?" Sam didn't answer. He 
continued packing his suit case almost feircly. "Try not to kill your clothes 
during your mood, would you?"
	He didn't turn to face him. After last night, he couldn't bear it. He spoke 
as he continued packing. "I think I've just about had it with your little 
escapades." he said sternly.
	Al didn't say anything for at least a minute. "Ah, so that's what this is 
about. Well, let me tell you something, buddy boy." He moved closer to Sam. 
"In case your genius brain hasn't figured it out yet, I am way over fifteen 
years old. You don't have to worry about me or my life."
	"Well, I guess I can say the same to you, buddy boy." His words were cold. 
That was rare in the Beckett form of speech. 
	"I really don't get it. You've been home a week and you start this up again."
	"Again?" Sam finally looked at Al, "What do you mean 'again'?"
	Al shook his head. "Forget it, Sam. It's not important."
	Being the bigger guy, Sam pushed Al a bit. "No, go ahead. Tell me."
	Al knew what happened the night Sam Leaped. But he avoided the sentamentality 

of that situation. "I don't have to. You don't remember what happened the 
night you Leaped, do you?" Al waited for an answer and there was none. The 
blank look Sam gave him spoke volumes. "You don't. Maybe it's better that 
way."
	"Why?" That simple word was said very softly with partial rememberance. He 
wanted to know and understand why Al was the way he was and why he had brought 

up the subject. 
	"Aw. Look, kid. It's history. Why bring it up?" He shrugged.
	"Why don't you tell me? You're the one who brought it up."
	He shook his head once more. As he left the room he said, "I think you ought 
to cool off." 
	Sam followed him out to the hall but stopped at the doorway and watched as Al 

retreated from argument. "That's right!" Sam called, "You go ahead and run 
away to your booze and your women! It's all you ever did! So don't let me stop 

you!"
	Al whirled around one last time before leaving. "What the hell would you know 

about my life? Why don't you keep your nose in your own fucking business for a 

change?" Then he left towards the elevators, leaving Sam standing in the 
middle of the hall; speechless.

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