Quantum Leap "A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal" Chapter 13 Al finally left the Imaging Chamber for the first time in a couple of days. He crossed the Control Room and placed the handlink on the control console. "Ziggy?" he said gently. "Yes, Admiral Calavicci?" "I'm going home," he told the computer. "Don't call me unless you absolutely have to." "What if there is a development concerning Dr. Beckett?" Al smiled. "I don't think there is going to be one, Ziggy." As he said this, he saw Verbina come into the Control Room from the Waiting Room. "How's Byron?" he asked her. She smiled. "I thought you'd still be in the Imaging Chamber." Al shrugged. "Yeah, I would be but my doctor ordered me to go home and get some rest." Verbina laughed. "Byron's fine but he is concerned." "About what?" "About Sam," she told him. "Ever since he found out that Sam had been going through withdrawals as well, he's been asking about him." "You told him?" Al asked, curious. "He figured it out on his own," Verbina replied. She looked at Al. "He's really a sweet man. He's very kind. It's too bad his career is ruined by this." Al lowered his eyes, contemplating what Verbina had said. "Oh," Verbina said quickly, catching Al's attention. "Al, you remember me telling you that Linda Cartwright's name was familiar." Al nodded. "Yeah." "I had Ziggy run a check on her, you know," Verbina told him. "The reason her name is so familiar is she's the Dean of Psychology at Berkeley. She just recently won the Nobel Prize for her thesis on the effects of drugs on the human brain." Verbina laughed after a pause. "What is it?" Al questioned. "Al," she laughed. "I know her. Personally, I mean. I guess it was the last name and the young face that threw me off." She looked at Al. "She's Linda Harmon. She's a friend of mine, Al." Al raised an eyebrow. "Well, ain't that a kick in the butt? How long have you known her?" "Eight years. We met at a conference in 1990. She's a good woman but she's very quiet. She doesn't talk a lot about her past. I never questioned her quietness until now," she finished softly. "Why now?" "I guess I learned more about her past than I wanted to," she told him. "You mean about her friend's death from withdrawal?" Al guessed. Verbina shook her head. "No. I knew about that. She'd told me." "Then what is it about her that's bothering you?" Al asked. Verbina smiled. Al raised his eyebrows questioningly. "I'm used to me asking you that question, not vice versa," she told him. She took a deep breath. "It's her thesis. I hadn't read it but she has told me the results she showed in it. There is some speculation as to how she obtained her results. The thesis might not actually be hers." Al frowned. "Are you saying she may have plagiarized her Nobel Prize winning thesis?" "It looks like it," she answered quietly. "I called her about it. She wants me to meet her to talk about it." She smiled at Al. "And you should go home and get some rest. You look exhausted." "I am exhausted," Al told her, heading towards the door. "See you tomorrow." He turned around and looked at Verbina. "Good luck with Linda." "Thanks," Verbina replied just as Al left the Control Room. ************************** "Verbina, come on in," Linda greeted the person at her home's door. "How have you been?" "Well. And yourself?" Verbina asked as she stepped into the beautiful Victorian house in San Francisco. Linda smiled at her. "I'm doing all right." Verbina looked at her. There was a small well-hidden bruise at the side of her eye. It was obvious that she wasn't all right like she said she was. Verbina frowned. "He's been doing it again, hasn't he?" "I'm sorry?" Linda feigned ignorance. "Aaron. He's been hitting you again." "Of course not," Linda said, walking away from her. Verbina followed her into the living room. "Don't lie to me, Linda. It's not fair to either of us." She paused. "You've got to get away from him." "I know," Linda replied, sitting down.. "You used to not take this kind of crap from anybody," Verbina told her, remembering what she knew happened in 1967. "What happened?" Linda looked at Verbina. "Love," she answered. "I love him." "But he beats you," Verbina emphasized, sitting beside her. "He punishes me when I've done wrong," Linda told her. "That's not beating." Verbina couldn't believe her ears. She couldn't believe this was the same woman who was in Byron Zetter's house. "Like hell it isn't! You're a psychiatrist! You know better!" Linda looked at Verbina firmly. "You can here to discuss my thesis, not Aaron." Verbina exhaled loudly. There was no way to return to a subject once it was closed with Linda. She wouldn't allow it to be reopened. She looked at Linda carefully. Linda looked at Verbina carefully. In that moment, Verbina knew. "You did plagiarize it. Why?" "I needed the money," Linda answered, looking away from her. "You needed the money?" Verbina questioned in disbelief. "Linda, you're the Dean of Psychology at the University of California! You make a hell of a lot more than me and I live comfortably!" Linda lowered her head shamefully. "Verbina, you understand negative reinforcement: the more a person tells you not to do something, the more you do it." Verbina nodded, knowing Linda would explain her meaning. Linda pulled up the left sleeve of her shirt to reveal a small collection of pockmarks on her arm. "Aaron is my negative reinforcement," she said with a near cry. "Ironic, isn't it? A person who helps people cope with their drug problems has one herself." She was on the verge of tears when she looked into Verbina's eyes. ********************** Al moaned slightly as the viewphone chirped. Somehow, he never did get enough rest when he needed it. He sat up in his bed and pressed a button on his nightstand to answer the call. He looked at the screen in slight surprise. He had expected a blue viewscreen, indicating it was Ziggy who was calling. He never expected to be woken by the person who ordered him to get some rest. "Verbina," he said quickly. He quickly checked the time. "It's past midnight. What's up?" "I know why Sam hasn't leaped," Verbina told him. She had Al's full attention. "You're kidding me," Al said as he and Verbina walked down the corridor that led to the Control Room. It had been five hours since Verbina called Al from the San Francisco airport to inform him that she was returning immediately, given Al a few more hours sleep. The two had met only minutes ago at the entrance to the complex and had proceeded downstairs while Verbina explained what she had learned. "Linda started taking drugs because her husband beat her," Verbina summarized. "But he found out she was taking them so he beat her even more, which only caused her to take more to the point where she was so hard up for cash that she slapped together a thesis that wasn't even based on her own research. She sent it to "Psychology Today" and claimed it as her own work. Low and behold, the paper gets a Nobel Prize and is now being contested by the rightful authors." Al frowned. "Why didn't the authors contest it before?" "Try contesting a paper that you've never read because you were in a Third World country with a primitive society." Al exhaled slowly. "I can't believe a tough woman like that ever got into an abusive relationship like that." Verbina sighed. "Love is blind, unfortunately. As a psychiatrist, she sees that she's in a jam. As a wife, however, she loves Aaron and is so afraid of him that she'll accept his abusing her as rightful punishment." "Abuse is NOT rightful punishment," Al said firmly. "Which is precisely why we have to get her out of this relationship," Verbina replied. Al looked at Verbina. "You really think this plan will work?" She returned his look. "It has to work, Al." She gave him a reassuring smile. AL nodded with understanding before taking a handlink from Ziggy's console and entering the Imaging Chamber.