Chapter 11 Al hadn't stopped in his march as he passed through the Control Room, tossing the handlink haphazardly towards the console and missing it completely. Guilt was a powerful thing to contend with, especially for him right at that moment. He couldn't get the image from his mind, the image of a different yet similar woman lying in that same position, bleeding, saying those same words to him. You've killed me, Al. Gawd, how could you? How could you? The moment he entered his office, Al locked the door. The last thing he needed was Verbina Beeks asking him questions he didn't want to answer. He didn't want to tell her that it wasn't Susan Chambers he saw dying on that kitchen floor; it was Beth, the woman who haunted his dreams from time to time since he returned from Vietnam. He sat at his desk, his head in his hands, thinking and trying to reestablish some sense of control. One: that was not Beth, no matter how much she looked like Beth. Two: no matter what she said, you didn't kill her. Three: there was nothing you could do to stop it so get a grip on yourself. "Admiral," Ziggy's voice interrupted his thoughts. Al exhaled. He still hadn't found stability yet so he was unprepared to talk to a computer with far too much of his own ego. "Yes, Ziggy," he answered after a long moment. "Dr. Beckett has made an arrival." Al frowned slightly. "So soon? Are you sure?" "I do not make errors in regards to this subject, Admiral." Al huffed at the response as he stood up and started for the door, putting on the face of confidence expected from an Admiral in the United States Navy. "Okay. Give it to me: five Ws and an H." "I do not believe that you will be pleased with the answer, Admiral," Ziggy warned from the wristband on Al's right wrist. Al continued to walk towards the Control Room as he spoke. "Since when did that make a difference with a leap?" "Since Dr. Beckett had leaped into Detective Jake Rawlins on April 1st, 1969." Al frowned at that response as well. "Old news, Ziggy. Spill the new news." "Very well, Admiral. Dr. Beckett has leaped into Lieutenant Commander Albert Anthony Calavicci on July 19th, 1976." Al didn't speak for a moment. "What?" he finally asked with a whisper. "Do you wish me to repeat the information, Admiral" Al took another moment of quiet. "No. No," he told her. "H-How is the guest?" "He is having great difficulty adjusting to his new environment. It is apparent that he believed he is a prisoner of war." Al took a shaky breath. "Oh, my gawd!" he whispered. "Has Dr. Beeks been in to see him?" "Negative, Admiral," Ziggy replied. "However, she is currently proceeding to the Waiting Room." "Stop her," Al ordered. "Believe me, the last person the guest wants to see is someone who even resembles a doctor. Have her meet me in my office and send a corporal into the Waiting Room. At least then he'll know he's not with the enemy." "Any instructions for the corporal, Admiral?" "Only to watch him and to address him by his rank." "Affirmative, Admiral. Dr. Beeks is going to your office at this moment." "Good," Al said as he stepped off of the elevator and marched towards his office. "Have her wait there." He stepped into the Control Room and grabbed a handlink from the Control Console. "You are not going to your office, Admiral?" Ziggy questioned. "Believe me, Sam needs me far worse right now than Beeks." With no further explanation, he marched into the Imaging Chamber and into a past he wished he could forget. --- They were relentless in their attack on his frail body. The sound of the bamboo chute on his back echoed in his mind despite that there should be no echo. He wanted to scream, to beg for mercy, but somehow he knew his screams would only result in harsher strikes on him and that was precisely what they wanted. He would not get mercy from them; the only mercy would come from blissful unconsciousness. So, that was what he was going to do. He was going to let them beat him into unconsciousness. Yet, despite his intentions, he did scream as a torturous blow struck his back. He could not stop the scream; the pain was just too horrible. "Stop! Gawd, stop! Why are you doing this to me?" They laughed wickedly and continued. "They're not going to stop, not after you've given them what they wanted. If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll want a glass of milk." The voice was familiar. He looked around to find the source of it. "Where are you? Who are you?" "It doesn't matter here. You're going to die here in this horrible jungle. You're never going to see your loved ones again." Another painful red stripe adorned his back. "You're going to die here, Albert Calavicci, so you might as well hurry up and do it! He sat up quickly as he screamed in terror, sweat streaming down his face. "It's okay. I'm right here." It was the same voice but, this time, it wasn't vicious or angry. Instead, it was kind, gentle, and full of concern. "You're okay. You're safe. No one is going to hurt you here. Do you hear me? Do you understand? Come on, Sam. Talk to me." The memories started to fill in quickly. Names. Faces. Smells. Experiences. It wasn't everything but it was enough for him to regain a sense of who he really was. "Al?" he asked with a bit of trepidation. "It's okay, Sam. You were having a dream." Sam looked at his partner with a frown. "It… it seemed so real." Al exhaled. "Yeah. They usually do. But it's over now. Life goes on." "I… I heard your voice," Sam continued. "It was angry… mean. You were telling me to give up but you called me…" He looked at the Admiral. "I've leaped into you, haven't I? What year is this?" "1976," Al answered softly. "I'm… I mean I was… still suffering from PostTraumatic Stress Disorder. Guess you leaped in while I was having one of my nightmares." Sam winced at the memory of the nightmare. "Please tell me they were exaggerated." Al hesitated before he shook his head. "I wish I could say they were." Sam stifled a cry of sorrow and looked at his friend. "Gawd, how did you do it for six years?" Eight, Al corrected mentally but said nothing. In his opinion, those extra two years were worth the memories of Tom Beckett, Tom's wife, and their children, causing the original memories to dissipate - the memories of Sam drowning out his sorrow for the loss of his brother. "I did what I had to do," Al told him, fully realizing the duel meaning of his words: both his survival in Vietnam and his sacrificing his freedom for Tom' Beckett's life. He looked into Sam's eyes and saw the pain. He saw the lost look of a soul that was about to crack. Gawd, it must have been a really bad nightmare. For him, anyway. He wanted to rub Sam's back, to give him that physical comfort he knew from experience would help to aleve the terror and the sorrow. Instead, he gave a gentle, kind smile. "You doing okay, Sam?" he asked, giving the latter an open invitation to talk. "W-What am I here to do?" Sam asked, avoiding the question. Al nodded, understanding the sentiment all too well. Deny it and bury it. It was a familiar act to him, an act that drove him to drinking. But he knew Sam. He would talk eventually and, although Sam could drink with the best of them, he wouldn't let it control his life. "We don't have any information yet. When I heard that you had leaped into me in 1976, I had to hurry to check on you. This wasn't exactly the best time in my life," Al told Sam firmly. Sam thought about the nightmare he had just experienced. It haunted him greatly and he knew he couldn't possibly understand how such a nightmare could effect his host, the man who now stood by his side twenty-three years in the future. "How is he?" he asked. Al didn't need to ask to which "he" Sam was referring. "No one's been in to see him yet but that's only because he needs a little time to acclimate to his surroundings. But I can tell you that he's probably scared and extremely suspicious. I had a corporal go into the Waiting Room, just so he knows that we're not VC." Sam exhaled sadly. "So, until you have some idea of why I've leaped into you, what do I do?" Al looked at him with sad firmness. "Stay home and drink until you pass out." Sam looked at him, at first with question and then with sympathy. "That's what you did?" Al nodded. "More times than I care to remember." Sam stood up quickly, looking around at his surroundings as he spoke. "Well, I'm not you." "Thank God for that." Sam turned his head quickly towards Al at the comment before taking a breath. "Any other suggestions?" Al shook his head a bit. "Do whatever you want but try not to go out. I didn't and, even though you're stone-cold sober, you look like you've spent the night and day in a drinking binge." Sam nodded with understanding but said nothing as Al opened the Imaging Chamber door. "I'll be back as soon as I can, Sam," Al told him with caring eyes before he stepped through the door and disappeared into the future. Sam, meanwhile, headed for the bathroom for a much needed and wanted shower.