Chapter 13 In all the leaps I had made, I had only leaped into a previous host once before. Now I had done it again and, like the previous time, it was into someone for whom I cared greatly. I had known Al for years, had even called him my best friend. But for all the years I had known him, nothing prepared me for the reflection in the bathroom mirror. Twenty years before, Al had been a fun-loving, free rascal who looked forward to his future as a naval aviator. In 1976, Bingo was gone, replaced with a war-torn man who had lost his only reason for living: the only woman he ever really loved, his first wife, Beth. Even after a decent hot shower, a shave, and a change of clothes, the reflection still showed the days and nights this Al had spent drinking his problems temporarily away. And even though I knew Al would eventually "straighten up and fly right", seeing him in this state broke my heart. I knew I had to do something to give him the life he missed because of his drinking. I just wasn't sure how. There was a knock on the door, bringing Sam out of his reflections on the reflection before him. The sound had surprised him greatly, given what Al has told him of how his host had been spending his days alone and at home. Sam slowly approached the door before opening it. The sight before him put him in utter silence. He wondered how Al reacted to this sight in the original history, if he had been sober enough to open the door in the first place. Whatever the answer to his wondering, Sam had his own reaction - he stared in amazement. Susan Chambers smiled at him, looking more like Beth Calavicci than she would in four years. It was no wonder Al had fallen for her. "Mr. Calavicci?" she asked, sounding uncertain. Sam didn't answer immediately, thinking about the way she spoke. It was obvious that the two hadn't yet met. Was he here to prevent them from meeting? He was surprised - and saddened - by what he could suddenly remember from his last leap. "Yes," he finally answered, knowing he should at least be courteous to her. Susan seemed pleased with the response. "Oh, good. I was afraid I had the wrong apartment. My assistant usually does the deliveries but he's sick today so it's up to me. Now, I know you asked not to be disturbed but I try to meet my customers." She extended her hand. "I'm Susan Chambers." Sam shook her hand carefully, hoping he was doing the right thing. "Al Calavicci," he introduced. He frowned a bit in confusion to what she said earlier. "Deliveries?" "Oh!" she exclaimed. She raised a brown paper bag and handed it to him. "I'm sorry. Here you are. I'll have Tom bring up the bill later." Sam accepted the bag and looked in it with interest to find two heavily loaded turkey sandwiches - extra mustard, his mind supplied - and two bags of potato chips. Obviously his lunch. He looked in the bag again. And dinner. He looked at Susan again. "Thank you," he told her graciously. She gave him a wide smile. "You're welcome." The two stared at each other a moment, neither knowing what to do next. Sam was certain that he had to keep Susan from leaving - or not - but he wasn't sure how to keep her from doing so. Susan spoke first. "I should be going now. Work to do, you know." Sam nodded in response. "So," she continued. "Maybe I'll see you later." He nodded again. "That would be nice." She smiled at him before walking down the hall, away from the small apartment. Sam closed the door, thinking about the encounter. Was this the way Al met Susan? If it wasn't before, it was now and Sam was at a complete loss on what to do, besides eat Al's sandwiches. ------------------ Susan Chambers was also at a loss on what to do. She hadn't expected to see the thin, lost face on the other side of that apartment door. Al Calavicci seemed like such a lost soul, not at all like the Lieutenant Commander she had expected to see. In fact, he looked as if it had taken a lot for him just to shower and shave this morning. His blood-shot eyes indicated to her that sobriety wasn't very common for him. Yet, when he looked at her, there was the gleam of recognition in his eyes. Had me met before? she wondered, immediately answering "no" to the question. So, there had to be another reason for that look. She pondered it as she returned to the car. I must remind him of someone. Someone he cared about? Someone he… loved? It seemed the only answer, in her opinion, and that caused her heart to go out to him. Something terrible had to have happened to cause him to be in his condition - something which broke his heart, something which had to do with whoever she reminded him of. It was amazing how attractive a hurt soul could be. ------------------ Al had spent house in his office, reflecting on the past, trying to see how Sam's leaping into Lt. Comdr. Calavicci was going to save Susan's life. He was also trying to sort the new memories that came whenever Sam changed history even a little bit. In the original history, he hadn't opened the door. In fact, he had been too hungover to even hear the knock on the door, much less to take a shower. In the original history, he hadn't met Susan until a week later when, in a near fit, she stormed to his apartment to demand payment for the bill she had given him. He had nearly died when he first saw her and, moments later, he was crying in her arms, telling her everything about Beth. They had spent the entire day talking about each others' woes. Now that the memories were shifting around, Al could even remember Susan mentioning she had a relative with some emotional problems and she was uncertain whether to place her in a mental hospital. Al had talked her out of it, thoughts of Trudy, his only sister, in his head. He sat up at the thought. That has to be it. If Angela went to a hospital now then she'll have had treatment and she won't kill Susan during a DPD episode. Was it really that simple? Something told him that it probably wasn't. Sam's failed leaps had a tendency to be harder the second time around. Still, if there was a chance that it could work… "Ziggy," Al said to the nothingness of his office as he stood. "Have Gushie bring the Imaging Chamber online." "Affirmative, Admiral," the computer replied. "May I assume you have a reasonable theory as to why Dr. Beckett has leaped into 1976?" Al walked out his office door as he spoke. "What are the chances that Sam's there to make sure Angela Cotton gets psychiatric help now rather than forty years from now?" "Forty-eight point ninety-four percent, Admiral." Al frowned. "Only forty-nine percent? Why so low?" "Forty-eight point ninety-four percent, Admiral," Ziggy corrected. "It is highly unlikely that Dr. Beckett can convince Susan Chambers or Angela Cotton that the latter should be institutionalized. Susan allowed Angela to make the final decision concerning her mental health." "The hell with a mental hospital, Ziggy," Al told her as he entered the Control Room. "How about just getting her some professional help?" "I did calculate that possibility as well, Admiral. I'm afraid the results are the same. It is unlikely that Dr. Beckett can have an impact on Angela's decision to refuse treatment for her condition." "Well, then, what the hell is he there for?" Al yelled in frustration. "There is a seventy-one point thirty-eight percent chance that Dr. Beckett must make certain that you marry Susan Chambers." Al glared at the globe that dangled from the ceiling, the instrument that the general population of the project considered as Ziggy. "Me Marry Susan?" He shook his head. "I don't think so." "I fail to see why," Ziggy replied. "By marrying Susan Chambers, you will be providing yourself with a stabilizing factor to help you overcome the PostTraumatic Stress you were afflicted with in 1976. In addition, you will be able to prevent Susan Chambers' death in 1980." Al picked up a handlink. "You can't factor out human emotions, Ziggy. Did you factor in the fact that Susan looks like Beth?" "I believe Miss Chambers' resemblance to your first wife will be an additional stabilizing factor." Al pointed angrily at the globe. "Well, factor this in! I don't want Susan to be one of my ex-wives and I certainly don't want to marry someone simply because she looks like Beth. It is not an option. Period." He marched towards the Imaging Chamber door. "May I at least suggest that you inform Dr. Beckett of my conclusions and your concerns?" Al ignored the computer as he entered the Imaging Chamber.