CHAPTER 11 Sammi Jo returned inside carrying a laughing eight months old, Leone. The three entered the cafeteria and joined the table. "Sam this is Matt, Matt this is Sam, my boss." Sammi Jo turned to Sam, her eyebrows raised, Sam knew what her gesture meant, she hadn't told Matt that he was her father. Who would believe it anyway, they were too close together in age for it to be viable. Sam and Matt shook hands, Matt spoke first, "A pleasure to meet to Doctor Beckett, I've heard so much about you, and read most of your books." Matt was still shaking Sam's hand, his grip was firm, a little too firm. "N-no it's Sam, call me Sam." Matt finally released his grip on Sam's hand. "Good to meet you too Matt, but regretfully I don't know too much about you, I'm afraid I've been a little preoccupied since I got back." "Matt is a science professor at the university of Long Island, and this little one is Leone." Sammi Jo tickled Leone and she made gurgling sounds. "She's a real cutie, gonna break the hearts of a few good men when her time comes." Al remarked. He was quiet when Beth nudged him in the ribs with an elbow. "I see we have a lot to talk about." Everyone sat down at the table, but Sam remained standing, he continued, "You say you've read most of my books Matt. Have you read the latest one, about my theories on time?" Sam started pacing. "No, I haven't Doc... erm, Sam, that one is far beyond my knowledge of science. I'm no physicist, like my Sammi here." Rosie bounced up to the table, pad in hand, "Do any of you want to order?" "Everyone want coffee?" There were no complaints so Al ordered, "That's five coffee's then please Rosie." "Oh Rosie, can you warm this up for me," Sammi Jo hunted around inside a large hold-all, and pulled out a bottle for Leone. She handed it to Rosie, who took it and bounced back to the counter, disappearing into the kitchen area. Sam turned to Sammi Jo, "Where's Jimmy and Joel, I thought they were coming today." "Oh, they've bribed their grandfather and my brother into a fishing trip this weekend," Matt looked very apologetic. "Oh don't get me wrong, they wanted to come but well, boys of their age, there's not much for them to do round here, so I'm afraid the fishing won." "How is Abigail? I haven't seen her for years." "I didn't know you knew Abigail." "Oh it was a long time ago, I-I was erm, I was only a kid really." "Oh she's great she and Pete are real fine, Pete retired last year and spends most of his time fishing. Gets him from under Abigail's feet." "Retired, oh I suppose they would be, time passes so quickly." Sam's eyebrows creased. Rosie reappeared with a tray, she clattered it down on the table top which startled Sam. "Are you coming Matt? I'm taking Leone to the nursery." "Yeah Sure hun," Matt turned to Sam, "I'm privileged to meet you Sam, we'll speak again soon I hope?" He stood and picked up three mugs of coffee. "I'm sure we will Matt, it's been excellent to see you, good to finally meet you." Beth rose to her feet, "See you later Sam," she kissed Al, "and you, don't be too long." Beth, Matt and Sammi Jo, carrying Leone, left the cafeteria. Sam stared after them. "I nearly blew it there Al, about Abigail I mean." Sam sat down and faced Al, but he didn't see them. He saw a young Abigail, younger than Sammi Jo, remembering, he relived those moments in the space of a few short seconds. "Sammi is so like her, sometimes I forget." "No regrets, your words Sam." "I know, but I still have the memories, I won't forget the memories." "Well pal, what yer doin' today?" "Nothing Al, absolutely nothing." "And where yer gonna to be doin' this absolutely nothin', in your lab?" "Nah, I'm gonna go and play with my granddaughter in the nursery. What are you doing today?" "It's Joel's birthday on the twenty-third, I'm taking Beth into Santa Fe, to do some shopping." "No-one told me Joel's birthday was coming up, not even Sammi," Sam felt totally put out, "Why didn't anyone mention it?" "You were too busy, Sam, today's the first day we've seen you in here at a normal hour. Sammi's already ordered him something from you. I'm picking it up today." "I would have liked to have chosen something for him myself. I could have bought him something yesterday. What's Sammi got for him?" "I have no idea what it is, all I know is that it's something real special." "I'll have a word with her, see what it is, she's got me really curious." Sam stood up and walked out of the door, a second later his head reappeared round the door, "Where's the nursery Al?" "The left hand corridor before ours, right at the end." "Oh and I forgot to give you these earlier." Sam threw Al his car keys. "Thanks pal, anytime, you know that." Sam smiled and disappeared again. Al rose out of his chair and sauntered over to the door, once outside of the cafeteria he noticed Sam. He was crouched, leaning against the elevator doors at the far end of the corridor, his head in his hands. Al stood still, watching. Not wanting his friend to see him he reversed a little way back into the cafeteria doorway and waited. As Sam appeared from around the corner Al dodged into the open doorway. Hearing Sam's footsteps fade into the direction of the nursery, Al came back out. Puzzled by his friend's actions he went to collect Beth, stopping by the nursery on the way. He opened the door, "Where's Beth?" He looked around for Sam, he was nowhere in sight. "She's in your quarters, getting ready." Sammi Jo was piling building bricks for Leone to knock down. "Oh right. Where's Sam isn't he here yet?" "Didn't know he was coming, I've not seen him since we left the...." Leone scattered the bricks across the floor, Sammi Jo chased after them. Al closed the door to the nursery and headed back down the corridor and entered his quarters, Beth was brushing her hair. "Sam's done a disappearing act again, I just caught him leaning against the elevator door, he didn't see me though, then he headed for the nursery but he's not there." "He could have gone to his own rooms down the hall, but I didn't hear his door close, like I usually do. Mind, I wasn't listening for it." "I'll just go and check, he's been acting a bit bizarre all morning, I'm a bit worried about him. Perhaps it's nothing, I wont be long." Al was already halfway out of the door. "Come straight back here if he's not there." Beth voiced after him. Al knocked on Sam's door and waited, there was no reply. He tried the door but he found it locked. He knocked again, nothing. He went back to his own quarters and opened the door, he spoke to Beth through the open door. "He's either not there or he's not answering, I don't know where else he could have gone. He didn't come past me so he's not outside." Al still looked around for any signs of Sam. "Perhaps you were mistaken about him going to the nursery, he might have gone back to the elevator." "Nah, he didn't go back there, I could tell by the footsteps." "Maybe he's gone to see Bernie." "Her quarters are down near the elevators. Can you think of anywhere else?" "Have you tried his office? Any of the offices?" "No, I'll go and check." "Oh Al, and check the storage area, I can't think of anywhere else on this level." A voice from behind startled him, "Al," Al turned around at the sound of Sam's voice. "Sammi said you were looking for me." "God damn it, where've yer bin? I' bin looking all over the place for yer." "Well I went to my office to check something out, then went to the nursery. Why?" Al stepped into his quarters and shouted, "Beth don't worry, he's here." Beth came out into the hallway, "Sam," Beth sighed, "you had us worried." "Why were you so worried? What's happened?" Sam looked very confused. Al had concern on his face, "I saw you by the elevator when I came out of the cafeteria, you looked, well erm, sorta lost." He looked up at Sam then shook his head. "Then I couldn't find yer." "We must've missed each other, oh I did go into the storage room though, to get some...." "Geeze Sam, what yer like. What yer doin' down by the elevator anyways?" Beth went back inside, leaving the two of them to talk. "Thinking, just thinking." Sam wiped a hand over his face. Al pulled the door closed, "Sam, yer not answerin' me!" "About Donna okay!" Sam snapped. "If I'd stuck to the rules and not changed the past then..." Sam looked upward, beyond the ceiling, beyond the stars, their stars, "....then perhaps sh-she'd still be alive." "Don't do this Sam, stop persecuting yourself, you did what you had to do. At least you made her happy." "I just wish we'd had more time together, me and this darned project, it took up all of my time." "You're forgetting something here pall, if it wasn't for this darned project, you would never have had any time together." "Don't you breathe a word to Sammi about this. You got to promise me that Al." "Okay, our little secret. See I've zipped it." Al drew a hand across his mouth. "As far as Sammi's concerned this conversation never took place." "Well I'm not gonna let it happen this time, not again." "Is that what you meant about findin' someone else?" Sam turned away from Al, annoyed. "I don't know okay, I just don't know. I want some time to be me. If Bebrooks says yes, then that's fine by me, and if he says no, well that's fine too." Sam walked away, not to the nursery, nor his quarters, but toward the elevator. Al watched him as he turned the corner, he sneaked behind Sam and waited at the corner watching. Sam paused for a moment by Bernie's door, he knocked and Bernie opened it. After a short confab, Sam went inside, the door closing behind him. Al returned to Beth and they left for Santa Fe.