Quantum Leap "A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal" Chapter 6 Dr. Alexander Hathorn entered the Project Quantum Leap complex quickly. There were a few things that he needed to finish before working on the latest readings on the leap. His work was starting to become more interesting thanks to the latest leap. Never before had there been such a strong physical impact on Dr. Beckett during a leap. Alex was finding that he had his work cut out for him. But, despite the new influx of different data, Alex was not in the least bit excited, a very odd occurrence with him. Normally, anything new and unusual caused his heart to beat faster with anticipation. Now, all he wanted to do was get as much as he could done as quickly as possible in the hopes that he might leave work early. He had plans to make in the next couple of days, He had to make sure that everything was settled so that he'd have no loose ends hanging. He worked hard all day, pushing himself to the limits to finish everything he needed to finish before five o'clock. However, it was past six when he finished his last piece of work. He sighed. All the businesses he needed to visit would be closed at this time. He'd have to wait until tomorrow. "Dr. Hathorn?" a voice asked as Alex prepared to leave. Alex looked up towards the door to the lab at the sound of his name. "Hello, Dr. Beeks," he greeted. "Are you okay?" Verbina asked. "I'm fine. Why do you ask?" "You're unusually tense today. Did the Admiral talk to you?" Alex nodded. "Yes." He smiled. "Do you think I'm pushing myself to hard?" Verbina nodded. "Yes, I do." "Well, I'll try to take it a little easier then," he assured her. "I just wanted to catch up on a little work today." Internally, Verbina cringed. She could tell Alex was hiding something. "Of course," she replied and then paused. "If you don't mind, I'd like Ziggy to monitor you for a little while, just to make sure you're okay." Alex shrugged. "Whatever you'd like, Dr. Beeks." Verbina nodded as she took a colorful wristband off of her wrist and walked up to Alex. "I want you to wear this for the next couple of days. With this, Ziggy can monitor your pulse and your body heat. She can also let me know where you are if you're in trouble." She gave the wristband to Alex. Alex accepted it with a nod. "I don't think you'll need it but okay." He slipped it on his wrist. Verbina watched him carefully as he did so. There was definitely something very wrong. Alex was acting too calm for a man who, only two days ago, was diagnosed with AIDS. "Is there anything else, Dr. Beeks?" Alex asked. Verbina shook her head slowly, watching him. "No, that's all, Dr. Hathorn." Alex smiled. "Good 'cause I've really got to get home. I have a ton of stuff to do tonight." He locked his file cabinet and left the room with a "Good night, Dr. Beeks." Verbina watched him leave, concerned. "Ziggy?" "Yes, Dr. Beeks?" the computer replied. "Keep close tabs on Dr. Hathorn and let me know of anything unusual that he does or that happens to him." "Yes, Dr. Beeks," Ziggy replied. "However, I can only track where Dr. Hathorn goes, not what he does there." Verbina nodded. "Fine. Keep me informed." "Of course, Dr. Beeks. I should, therefore, inform you that Dr. Hathorn's heart rate has increased to an abnormal rate." "Has he left the complex?" Verbina asked with concern. "No, Dr. Beeks. He is currently on Level One, heading towards the parking garage. He seems to be in a hurry." "Delay him if you can," Verbina ordered as she started for the door. "I'm afraid I cannot, Dr. Beeks. Dr. Hathorn has left the complex. He has taken off the wristband." Verbina exhaled. "Where is the wristband?" "In the parking garage on Level One." Verbina thought for a moment. "I'm going up there," she told Ziggy as she left the lab. When she arrived at the parking garage, she found Alex's car gone and the wristband against a wall and on the ground, having obviously been thrown by Alex. She picked up the wristband. It had been severely damaged from impacting on the wall. With a sigh, she re-entered the complex, the damaged wristband in hand. ************************* Al gave a sigh of relief. After three hours of getting Sam to scour the house for a many morphine pills he could find, to flush those pills down the toilet, and to eat a large dinner under Al's watchful eye, Sam was finally asleep. It wasn't a very fitful sleep, but it was sleep. Al yawned, rubbing his eyes with his palms. He was as exhausted as Sam but he was afraid to fall asleep lest Sam should wake before he did. He had to make sure Sa, was being honest when he said he'd flushed all the pills. Al remembered when he himself had hid a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey behind a dresser in his bedroom and he had assured Sam there was no liquor in his house. "Al?" Verbina's voice came over the Imaging Chamber speakers. "Could I talk to you for a moment? It's important." Al took a breath and exhaled. "Only if you come in here," he said quietly. "I'm not about to leave Sam alone." A moment later, the Imaging Chamber door opened and closed. Verbina approached Al. "How is he?" she asked. Al yawned. "He's finally asleep but anything could wake him," he replied in a near whisper. He stood up and led her a little further away from Sam. "The kid's hanging in there but I'm not sure I can keep him from finding some pills for long. The most I can do to keep him in line is threaten him with threats he knows I won't go through even if I could." He looked at her. "You needed to talk to me." Verbina hesitated. Al gave her a wry smile. "I know I look like hell. Tell me anyway." She took a breath. "It's about Dr. Hathorn." Al sighed. "Somehow I knew you were going to say that." "He's been over-working himself today, finishing up reports and research he's been working on for months, even years." "That's not unusual," Al told her. "He finished all of his work, Al. He basically closed all of his affairs with the project." Al frowned. "Are you sure?" Verbina nodded. "I have his report on his desk." She paused. "Take a look at this." She showed him the damaged wristband. "What the hell happened to that?" Al asked as he took it from her to better examine it. "I gave it to Dr. Hathorn to keep an eye on him. He didn't seem too concerned about it at the time. But as he left the complex, his heart rate went up and he took it off. I found it like that in the parking garage. He'd thrown it against a wall." She hesitated. "Al, he doesn't want us to know where he's going, what he's doing. I think he's going to close his affairs with other things as well." "So, what does it mean?" `Verbina raised her shoulders. "I don't know. You know how he is about talking to me." Al closed his eyes and sighed. "You want me to talk to him again." He looked into Verbina's eyes. "I can't leave Sam, Verbina." He took her hand. "Look." The moment Al touched her hand, she saw Sam lying on Byron's bed, shaking. His face glistened with perspiration as he kicked at the bed sheets, trying to get them off. "I had him tie the sheets down to keep him from kicking them off while he's asleep," Al explained. Verbina looked at Sam in sympathy. "Oh, my gawd." Al raised his eyebrows. "You expect me to let him freeze at night?" he questioned. Verb8ina looked at him and shook her head. "It's not the sheets. It's Sam." Al frowned. "What's wrong?" Verbina took a breath. "His withdrawal is much stronger than Byron's was." "How is Byron?" Al asked, curious. "He's fine," Verbina said with a bit of exclamation. "It was the quickest recovery I've ever seen. Apparently, all the mental connection to morphine went to Sam." "How long had he been taking morphine?" "Seven years." Al dropped Verbina's hand. "Seven years?!" Verbina nodded slowly. "And he's fully recovered in less than two days?" Verbina nodded again. "But that would mean..." Al stopped in mid-sentence. "I'm afraid so," Verbina told him. "And seeing Sam has just confirmed it." She paused. "Sam is quite obviously having withdrawals as if he's been taking morphine for the past seven years." Al took a step towards Sam, watching him with concern. At the same time, Verbina watched Al with concern. She could easily tell he was exhausted. "Why don't you go get some rest," she told him. "You'll be useless to Sam if you wear yourself out." "I'm not leaving him," Al told her firmly. "Then I'll have a bed brought in for you and I'll have Ziggy monitor him while you take a shower." "Ziggy can't talk Sam out of doing something stupid," Al replied. Verbina sighed. "Al, I know you're worried about him. I am too. But you can't expect to never leave the Imaging Chamber. And you certainly can't leave when he's awake." She smiled at him. "Go on. Wash up. When you get back, you'll have a bed waiting for you." Al sighed. Verbina was right. Besides, he could really use a hot shower. It might be the last one he'll get in a while. He thought for a moment. "What about Alex?" "I'll take care of him," Verbina assured him. "You take care of Sam... and yourself." Al nodded before leaving the Imaging Chamber, glancing at Sam with concern as he left.