Chapter XIII DECEMBER 16, 1955 KEARNEY, NEW JERSEY Rehearsals went on for the remainder of the afternoon, without much incident. Sam was helping with the straightening up when Al reappeared, wearing a Santa hat. He raised an inquiring eyebrow at the admiral. ``I was shang-hied into playing Santa at the project Christmas party,'' Al explained. ``I don't see any broken limbs,'' Sam quipped. Al chose to ignore the comment. ``I just came from dropping in on Alice Carmichael, seeing as you were interested in her, and Ziggy won't give me anything more than `she's still alive'.'' ``Is she all right? Alice?'' ``Now? Yeah. She was playing a game with her little brother.'' Al's face became momentarily thoughtful. ``Y' know, that seems a little strange to me. I mean, if you were grounded for hanging around someone who your parents deemed trouble, would you be playing games with your little sister?'' Sam turned it over in his mind. Discounting the fact that he couldn't imagine John and Thelma Beckett deeming anyone from Elk Ridge `trouble', Sam couldn't even remember being grounded. It had to the swiss-cheese effect. He could recall that Tom was never sociable when he got in trouble. ``I take that back,'' Al was saying. ``I could see *you* trying to keep *Katie* amused when she got in trouble.'' ``But it's not a typical sibling behavior,'' Sam said. ``I mean, a more typical behavior would be to sulk in her room.'' ``Do you think she's up to something?'' Sam considered it for a moment. He didn't really know Alice Carmichael. He only saw her in class. Strange. Instinct told him he was there for her, yet he had only see her once, and that was before he realized there was anything wrong in her life. He remembered Al's earlier comment. ``Ziggy said she's still alive?'' ``Yeah. She was too busy to do more than just check that.'' Al repeated his conversation with the computer. ``So, I was made a few phone calls. I wasn't getting anywhere fast and than Beeks found me a dragged me back to the party.'' ``Maybe I'm wrong,'' Sam said thoughtfully. ``Huh?'' ``I said, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this leap isn't about Alice.'' ``But, just because she isn't dead, doesn't mean that you can't be here for her, Sam,'' Al insisted. ``If Ziggy would only be a little more cooperative --'' the handlink screeched, cutting him off. Sam shook his head. ``Ziggy's right. I would rather she research the causes of death.'' For some reason, this didn't sit well with Al. ``I'm gonna try again with the phone calls,'' Al informed him. ``I mean, she might be alive and all, but who know what type of life she had, er, has.'' ``Eugenia,'' Eudora called from the doorway, ``are you almost done?'' ``Yes, I'll be right there.'' He turned back to Al. ``If you feel strongly about it, then go ahead.'' ``I'll see ya later, Sam,'' Al said, as the Door opened behind him. ``Tell everyone `Merry Christmas' for me, Al.'' ``I will.'' Sam rejoined Eudora. She was waiting for him on the stoop. ``Dorothy and Lowell were by a few minutes ago. The three of them are going to do some last minute shopping and then take in dinner and a movie. Constance invited us over for dinner and I accepted.'' ``Oh,'' Sam said, not sure who Constance was. He was slightly disappointed. Though he had told Al that he wasn't sure about Alice anymore, he was still interested in seeing her, just to be sure about this. Maybe he could drop in later, after dinner. ``That was nice of her.'' * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ``So, how's Sam?'' Leaning against Ziggy's terminal, eating a slice of cake, was Claudine. ``Oh, he's okay. What are you doing down here?'' ``Oh,'' she grinned mischievously, ``Mom want to make sure you don't get lost again.'' Al smiled. ``Of course.'' Since he woke this morning, he hadn't had much time to dwell on his loss. Those who were privy to the truth were taking extra pains to keep his mind occupied. Al momentarily wonder if Ziggy's obstinance on this leap was part of it, too. ``Dad?'' ``Yeah?'' The first time she'd called him that, upon her arrival, Al had nearly lost it. ``Do you think Mom will go ballistic if I took your name?'' Al was struck speechless. She rushed on. ``I mean, she loves my real father so much, I think she'd be upset that I would want to give up his name. I thought of going the hyphenated route, but `Barnhilt-Calavicci' is a bit cumbersome. `Claudine Calavicci' just *sings*, doesn't it?'' ``Claudine,'' Al began, trying to find his voice. ``Have you spoken to her about this? Ever?'' ``No. I wanted to know what you thought first.'' ``Honey, I think you really should speak to your mother first.'' Her face was crestfallen. ``You don't think it's a good idea?'' It was Al's turn to rush. ``No, honey, that's not what I mean. I think ‘Claudine Calavicci' sounds wonderful, and I'm touched that you'd want to take my name. But you really should talk to your mother, hon. You're right about one thing, she *still* loves your father.'' He paused. ``Now, I *really* need to do something for Sam, so I'm going back to my office. Tell the other's that I'll join you all later.'' Claudine looked at him a moment, studying him like her mother. ``All right, but you know that, if they don't believe me, they'll come looking for you.'' ``Tell them I'm checking on Alice for Sam.'' ``Okay,'' she said, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. ``See ya later.'' * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ``There you are! I thought you promised Claudine you'd come back to the party.'' Sabina was standing in the doorway, clutching herself in the cool evening air. Al turned around. ``Yeah, well, I needed to clear my mind.'' Sabina joined him and he rapped an arm around her shoulders. ``Any luck?'' ``Considering the time difference and the holiday schedules, better than I thought,'' he replied. ``But not a whole lot.'' ``Well?'' Al sighed. ``Yes, she's alive. Alice owns a little house in New Jersey. She has a decent job that pays good and she doesn't live extravagantly. She's not married and she doesn't have a criminal record.'' ``Well, not a very exciting live, but it's more than some people have.'' She paused. ``You said she's not married. Is that to say, she's never been married or is she divorced.'' ``Never been married.'' Sabina considered the information for a moment. ``Then, nothing came of her attachment to this Tony guy,'' she concluded. ``Yeah, I was just considering that, based on everything I've learned. But y'know, Sam's instincts . . .when it comes to something like this, anyway, are usually right.'' ``Well, there's not much more you can do tonight, Al. Why don't you try again in the morning? Maybe, by then, Ziggy will be finished with her research.'' ``On Christmas Eve?'' Al was quiet a moment. ``I wish I know why Ziggy's been so slow lately.'' Sabina had been wondering about that herself. ``Well, maybe she's being extra careful. She doesn't like making mistakes.'' Al snorted. ``No kidding.'' ``C'mon, let's go in. I'm freezing.'' * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ``Ziggy,'' Donna called softly, as she entered her office. Though the office area was empty, she was afraid of being overheard. ``Yes, Dr. Elesee?'' ``Al's getting a little too suspicious,'' Donna began. ``On the contrary, doctor. I have been observing the Admiral and he does not appear to be suspicious of my actions.'' ``Well, he's losing patience,'' Donna amended, irritated. ``This is taking too much time. I was hoping you would have found something by now. Sam doesn't know why he's there, and I'm beginning to worry that we might not discover the reason for this leap in time. We can't leave he hanging indefinitely.'' ``I have found something.'' Donna was momentarily stunned. ``What?'' ``I am currently running scenarios, to determine if there will be any negative side effects, should Dr. Beckett attempted to make the necessary changes that will result in saving Elizabeth Calavicci's life.'' ``Why didn't you say anything earlier?'' ``Because, Dr. Elesee, the opportunity never presented itself.''