Sam stared at the stranger in the mirror, shocked.

	He was a stranger to Sam, yet he was beginning to look vaguely familiar,
too.  *As if I've seen a picture of him before.*  The memory eluded him.

	He reentered the bedroom. *If this guy's in the military, he's got to have
some sort of identification.  Tom and Al always seemed to be flashing those
ID cards at people.*  Sam was in the process of opening desk drawers, when
he heard the Imaging Chamber door open behind him.

	"Sam!" Al called out, relieved and excited.  Sam turned at the sound.
"Thank God!  What happened?"

	Before Sam could answer, Al was already continuing.  "I left you in
Cokeburg and went to change while Ziggy and Gushie were working on your
problem.  By the time I got to my rooms -- "  Al stopped abruptly, eyes
still wide and unbelieving.

	Sam sat quietly on the edge of the bed, observing the Observer.  He looked
as if he had been dragged out of bed.  Al wore his familiar red silk
pajamas and slippers.  The familiar bathrobe was on inside out.
Apparently, Al hadn't had the chance to right it before getting to the
Chamber.  The handlink was silent and dark, indicating that Al had yet to
turn the little machine on.

	"By the time I got back to my rooms," Al started again, a bit calmer, "she
was there.  Ziggy and I lost it then.  Zig freaked out and said she didn't
know what you could have done to change history the way you did.  Then,
after a few hours of that, she calmly announced to the Project that you,
and I quote, ‘had returned to the normal leaping parameters', and a new
Visitor would be in the Waiting Room in two days.  Sure enough, Ziggy was

	Sam blinked in surprise.  Sam had followed his friend's train of thought.
He assumed the ‘she' in his room was Beth, though Al had failed to mention
her by name.  The thing about Ziggy  surprised him.  He decided to wait and
question Al later about Ziggy's sudden ability to predict when he would
arrive at this leap.

	Al, distracted, was still talking.  "Ziggy woke most of the project with
her alarm.  I thought we were being invaded.  I got here as fast as I
could, Sam."

	Sam spoke for the first time.  "I just got here myself, Al.  Why don't you
go back to bed and give me the information later, OK?"

	"Huh?"  Al looked at him, confused.  "But I've already got some
information for you, Sam.  Sammie Jo sometimes sleeps in her lab, so she
beat me to the Waiting Room.  A good thing, too.  George thought he was a
prisoner, so he gave her his name, rank, and service number.  As soon as
Ziggy told me that I came straight here.  Wish we were that lucky all the
time."  Without consulting his link, Al continued.  "You're Lieutenant (jg)
George Whitmore-Jones, a Navy pilot, and," he paused and stuck his head
through the window.  Sam shuddered.  "You're assigned to Pensacola Naval
Air Station in Florida."

	"Do you know the date?" Sam asked, all business.  If Al was willing to
stick around and do his job, Sam was willing to oblige him.  Al still
looked distracted and very tired.

	Al sighed.  "Not yet.  Ziggy," he called to the computer, "how's Sammie Jo
getting along with George?"  Now Sam was sure Al wasn't entirely himself on
this leap:  he had forgotten about the still silent handlink in his hand.
Al listened to the computer's response to his inquiry.  "That's all he can
remember?  Ok.  Sam, George only remembers that it's October."

	"The Cuban Missile Crisis?"

	"No.  George was at sea with me then."  A thoughtful look crossed Al's
tired face.  Sam watched as the expression changed to sadness.

	Someone's going to die.

	"Sam, it's October of 1960.  Around the 15th, I think.  You're here to
save the life of a nurse, Lieutenant Kelly Hardy."

	Sam frowned.  The handlink was still dark.  "Are you sure?"

	Al nodded wearily.  He flipped the handlink's on switch and started
pressing buttons.  "I'll have Ziggy run scenarios to see what you can do to
save her."

	Sam had let things go far enough.  He wanted some answers from Al about
what was happening back at the project.  "Al?"

	The short, tired man looked at him.

	"How do you know all this?  You just now turned that thing on," he said,
indicating the brightly blinking box.  "How do you know I'm in Florida or
who I'm here for if you haven't consulted the link, and all you have to go
on  is a name, rank, service number, and a month?"

	Al punched a few buttons and consulted the readout before he motioned for
Sam to follow him.  Al went through the wall.  Sam opened the door and saw
Al disappear through the closed door across the hall.

	Sam hesitated in front of the closed door.  Maybe he should knock first.

	"It's empty, Sam," the disembodied voice of his friend told him.  Sam
opened the door.

	"Don't turn on the light."

	There was enough light filtering in for Sam to see where he was going, and
to make out the form of his holographic companion.  The observer pointed to
the window and stepped out of Sam's way.

	Sam looked out.  This window overlooked a well-lit parking lot.

	Leaning on the trunk of a familiar black Corvette, was a very familiar
looking Navy pilot.  Bingo looked a little older, but still recognizable as
Al.  He was talking enthusiastically, to a young woman, who was also
leaning on the car.

	"Beth!"  She was nearly ten years younger than the last time he saw her.
Beth was listening intently to Bingo.

	With a silly grin on his face, Sam turned to Al.  It faded when he saw
Al's heartsick expression.  "What's wrong?"  Sam began to worry.  Maybe he
*had* misunderstood Al's meaning earlier.  *But who else could he have meant?*

	Instead of answering him, Al headed back into George's room.  Sam
followed, still confused over Al's behavior.  *What's going on back there?*
 He tried another approach.  "How did you know this was Pensacola and not
North Island?"

	"George's room was in the back of the building in Florida.  At North
Island, it was in the front."

	"How did you know ‘they'," he pointed back over his shoulder, "would be
out there?  You couldn't possibly remember."

	Al indicated the box in his hand.  "I had Ziggy get a lock on me...him.
>From now on, she'll alert us if he's anywhere nearby."

	Sam sighed.  He could be here all night, beating around the bush, getting
his friend to tell him what was happening.  This was Al after all.  "Al,
what's wrong?"  Sam could see he was too tired and too strung out to hold
out much longer.

	Al studied him.  "What did you do in Cokeburg?" Al asked quietly.  "What
did you change?"

	Sam blinked.  He remember his conversations with both Als.  "Nothing.  I
was there to learn something, not to change someone's past."

	Curious, Al asked "What did you learn?"

	"Well, I told you that already.  Most of it anyway."

	"You should have heard the arguments THAT caused."  Al paused to steel
himself.  "Then what happened?  What happened after I left you?"

	A suspicion had been growing in the back of Sam mind.  Now to test it.  He
shrugged.  "I leaped."

		Al looked defeated.  "Sam, when I got back to my rooms, I found them
filled with furniture I've only seen once since 1966 and that was as a

	*He doesn't remember.* Suspicion confirmed, Sam said aloud, "Beth was
waiting for you when you came home from Nam."

	"Yes! But I don't remember any of it!"  He began to pace, agitated.  "When
I walked in on her two days ago, I gave her quiet a scare.  She thought I
was having a stroke.  Ziggy went nuts and told the senior staff about the
change, before I could stop her.  No one took it well, I might add."  Al
stopped and turned to face him, still agitated.  "Now, I'm camped out in
your office because I can't cope with any of it, and Verbena is on my tail
nearly every moment, trying to get me to discuss things!"

	Sam had hoped that he wouldn't have to explain this to Al.  He didn't want
his best friend to think he owed him.  Sam's swissed-cheese mind didn't
allow him to remember all the times Al had come through for him, but for
once he was allowed to remember the one memory that could justify calling
it even: Tom.

	On that leap, Sam now believed Al had hoped he wouldn't have to reveal to
Sam the price for Tom's life.  Sam hadn't leaped out of Magic because he
had failed, but because Sam needed to know what Al had done.  Maybe Al
wouldn't remember the new past until Sam told him how it came about.

	"It seems," Sam started, "Don Quixote's been taken Sancho for granted."


	"Al, I may be the one in life-or-death situations, but you're the one who
has to put up with the frustrations of not being able to physically help
me, temperamental technology, Congress, impossible Visitors, and everything
else that could go wrong and usually does."

	Al started to wave him off with the standard "It's my job," but Sam cut
him off. "I chose to go to San Diego, as myself, just as you chose to lead
me to Tom instead of the POWs."  Al looked as if he was going to protest,
but Sam didn't give him a chance.  "I didn't even *try* to convince Beth to
wait when I was Jake, and you didn't throw it in my face when I leaped into
Elk Ridge and Nam." Sam shook his head. "I'm always complaining that you
never ask for help, that you're too stubborn and proud.  You were
practically begging me to save your marriage to Beth."  Sam didn't finish
the thought.  He didn't have to; both knew what had transpired outside the
Calavicci residence in April 1969.

	By now, Al was no longer looking at Sam.  He refused to look at him in the
eyes.  Some things would never change, no matter what Sam did to the past.

	Sam let the silence last a few moments longer.  "Beth was there, in 1969,
dancing by herself.  Just the way you left her.  She was scared at first,
but I told her I was there to help and that I was your friend."  Sam
smiled, remembering Beth's reaction to Al's name.  "I saw how much you
meant to her and how much she was hurting.  I told her you were alive and
coming home.  Once she believed it completely, I came here."

	Sam waited quietly, as he watched Al struggle with his emotions and his
inability to remember the new past.  As for his own emotions, Sam expected
to get emotional, but instead, he felt an inner peace, knowing Al had one
of the things he most wanted.

	Sam, home, safe and sound, was another.

	Both men jumped at the sound of the handlink squawking, followed by the
sound of knocking at the door.

	"Come in," Sam called out, still watching his friend.  Al's attention was
on the link.

	The door opened and Bingo stuck his head in the room.

	"I'm taking Beth back now.  Do you want anything while I'm out?"

	Sam opened his mouth to answer, when Al cut him off sharply.  "*Don't*
call him Bingo.  George *never* called me Bingo."

	"George?" Al-the-younger said.

	"I'm fine.  Thanks."

	The younger nodded and closed the door behind him.  The elder let out his


	"Don't say it, Al.  You don't have to thank me.  I was hoping you wouldn't
remember the original history."

	For the first time, Al looked him in the eyes.  Al was still tired, but
Sam could see some of the anxiety start to fade.  "So, she's not going to
disappear if I blink?"

	She.  Not Beth, but She.  Sam was determined to make him say her name, no
matter how much it was going to hurt.  Playing dumb, Sam asked, "Who?"

	Unfortunately, Al wasn't going to be tricked that easily.  "You know who."

	Sam crossed his arms and looked at him sternly.  "Say it."


	"Say it!"  Sam was careful not to speak too loudly.

	"My wife," Al said weakly.  It was a struggle for him even to say that much.


	Al closed his eyes and clenched his jaw.  "Beth."  It was obvious that it
still painful for Al to speak her name.  Sam wondered how long it would be
before that would change.

	Al didn't open his eyes.  "Sorry, Al.  I had to do that," Sam apologized.

	Al nodded, eyes still shut.  "Are you going to answer my question?"

	"As long as I don't make any mistakes here, that prevents her from even
marrying you, she won't disappear.  I don't think either of will let that

	The Observer nodded again.  He opened his eyes and ran his free hand
across his face before turning his attention to the cheerfully blinking
box.  "Ziggy says that there's a 100% probability that you're here for Lt.
Kelly Hardy.  If we're successful, we'll also be saving the careers of the
investigators that botched her murder investigation.  It's the second one
this year, by the way."

	"When does she die?"

	"Tomorrow night, October 14, 1960."

	Something occurred to Sam.  "Wait a minute.  George's a pilot, right?"

	"Right.  So?"

	Fear gripped Sam.  "Do I know how to fly?"

	"No.  But don't worry, Sam.  George's on leave.  His grandfather is still
here in Florida and George visits him every day.  You won't have to fly."

	Relieved, Sam sighed.  He watched Al tap keys on the link for several
seconds before speaking again.  "This can wait until morning, Al.  Go find
Beth, and go back to bed."

	Al opened his mouth to speak.  Then he thought better of it and gave Sam a
grateful look.  He started to key up the Door.

	"Al," Sam said before Al stepped into the glow.

	"Yeah, kid?"

	"Did you know your robe's on inside out?"