Chapter IV


	Seeing his exit, Al sighed gratefully, glad to be home after a stressful 
TDY trip.

	With Elesee leaving, the project's big wigs were combing the resumes of
the country's top scientists to take her place.  Donna had only been a
temporary fix.  She had agreed to fill the position until they found a
permanent replacement.  Then she got that job offer, and time ran out on
them.   Al had just spent the better part of the week sifting through
resumes, finding a choice few to be sent up for final Committee selection. 

	He had stumbled across the resume of one Samuel Beckett, whiz kid extra
ordinaire, from Elkridge, Indiana.  Several of Al's colleagues had passed
him over because they felt he was too young and inexperienced.   Al
insisted that his youth would be an advantage.  Star Bright needed a fresh,
young mind, a person who had the energy and brain power to head the labs.
Someone who wasn't set in his or her ways, was still idealistic on some
levels, and whose ego wouldn't get in the way of doing the right thing.
This Samuel Beckett person struck Al as the perfect candidate with his
resume alone, and he managed to convince quite a few of his colleagues to
also recommend the kid.

	There also was something familiar about him.  It was on the flight back
home when Al finally figure out why.  He was reading over the young genius'
references and federally employed relations list, when the names of Thomas
and Colleen Beckett, US Navy, caught his eye.  He hadn't bothered reading
over this portion earlier, since the focus had been on qualifications.  Tom
had mentioned a younger brother with a head on his shoulders that rivaled
Einstein's.  If the younger Beckett was even a little bit like his brother,
Al was positive they had backed the right man for the job.

	His house came into view.  Al smiled.  He missed his wife and daughter.
Things had been relatively calm lately, but he felt that the three of them
should take a little family trip somewhere.  Once the Committee confirmed
Beckett for the job, maybe he could talk Janet into a trip up to Boston
with Calista.

	Gathering his suit bag and carry-on in one arm, and the gifts for his wife
and daughter in the other, Al whistled up the walk.  He was a little
surprised that he hadn't been met by Callie, running out to greet him.
Janet was home; her car was parked in front of his.

	Attempting to juggle his load and the keys, turned out to be an impossible
feat.  He set the gift bag on the stoop just as Janet opened the front door.

	Janet's face looked pinched.  Right away, Al knew something was wrong.
"Hi, honey," he greeted her, cautiously.  "Is everything all right?"

	She didn't answer.  Worried, he glanced around, setting the gifts on the
dining room table.  "Where's Callie?"

	"Upstairs."  There was a slight tremor in her voice.

	Al looked at her sharply.  "Janet, what's wrong?  You haven't even said
`hello' to me.  Is it Callie?"

	Janet nodded slowly.

	Without waiting for further explanation, Al hurried out of the dining room
and up the flight of stairs.


	To his relief, Calista was sitting on her bed, playing with her dolls.
Other than the tired and subdued look on her face, Al couldn't see anything
wrong with her.  She didn't jump up and run to him, either.  "Hi, baby.
Miss me?" he asked, sitting on the bed to get a hug.


	"You know what?  I brought you a present."

	Her face lit up.  "Can I see it?"

	"Yep.  Let's go downstairs together and get it, okay?" Al said, standing up.

	"I can't," she replied forlornly.  "Mommy said I havta stay here.  I'm sick."

	Al gave her a small frown and touched her forehead.  It felt cool.  "You
feel fine to me, honey."

	"Mommy told me I was a different kinda sick," Calista informed him,
matter-of-factly.  "She took me to where she goes to work and they told her
I was sick."

	Warning bells went off, but he kept his voice calm.  "So, Mommy took you
to the hospital, huh?"


	Janet seldom had reason to take their daughter to the hospital.  For her
to do so meant that she felt there was something wrong beyond her
experience as a nurse.  Not wanting to scare her, Al touched her golden
curls and said, "You stay here and I'll go get your present, okay?"


	Janet was out on the back porch, probably waiting for him to come looking
for her.  He took his daughter's present back upstairs and watched her open
gift.  Watching her, he began to worry in earnest.

	Calista hugged her newest doll and held out her arms to her father.  He
hugged her fiercely, and kissed the top of her head.  Leaving her to her
dolls, Al went to talk to his wife.

	Janet was still on the back porch, leaning on the railing and staring off
into space.

	"She told me you took her to the hospital, Janet."

	She nodded.  "Her yearly checkup."

	Al had forgotten about that.  "Is that why she says she's sick?"

	Janet turned to look at him and her calm face feel.  "She is, Al" she
said, softly, voice trembling with unshed tears.  "She has cancer."

DECEMBER 20, 2000

	Al sat up and gasped, drenched with sweat.  With trembling hands, he wiped
at his face and wasn't too surprised to find that he'd been crying too.  He
was only semi-relieved to find himself in the guest quarters of the
project.  The dream had felt so real, he was afraid he was reliving the
whole thing.

	*I'm going to anyway*, he thought, shakily. *In my dreams.*

	So now he knew.  The moment Sabina had entered Sammie Jo's room, Al had
known instantly that she was his wife.  It confused him and caused his
already pounding head to hurt more.  As if *that* was possible.

	Not even fifteen minutes prior to her arrival, Al had been dreaming of
marriage to Janet.  What little of it he could recall seemed happy.  What
had gone wrong? This dream had at last revealed to him the beginning of the
end of his second marriage.  The news of Calista's cancer probably
re-triggered his nightmares as well as reopened old wounds caused by the
deaths of his father, sister, and Beth; which in turn, led to his hitting
the bottle.  Sometime after that came the incident with the hammer, the
vending machine, and Sam.

	Al didn't think it was possible to feel any *more* pain and loss than he
already did.  Wasn't the loss of Beth and their family enough in one day?
To relive the loss of another child, one he barely remembered and knew in
his heart had died before her time, was more than he could take.  He
reached out to the night stand beside him and his hand closed around an
empty bottle of Jack Daniels Al didn't remember finishing off.  He wished
it wasn't the only thing he couldn't remember.

	*I should've brought two.*

	Pulling on his robe, he placed the empty bottle next to the empty Wild
Turkey bottle on the desk. *That* had been the only drink he could find in
his quarters, and it was half empty to boot.  This time line appeared to be
drier than all the others, including the one with Beth.  Then, they had
kept a shelf full of an assortment of the little bottles from the airlines.

	Slipping quietly out of the guest quarters, Al made his way to the
long-abandoned lower offices.  Mostly used for storage space now, the halls
were once filled with all manner of labs and offices.  Both Sam and Al had
offices down here in the early days.  He had wandered into that area, after
slipping away from Beeks and Sabina.  After he discovered from Ziggy that
his car was impounded (to prevent him from leaving the project) and that
his liquor cabinet contained nothing more than that bottle of Wild Turkey,
Al had enlisted the aid of the unwitting Gushie.  He sent the little
programmer off to buy a dozen bottles of Jack Daniels.

	*Gushie's eyes bugged out.  "A dozen?"*

	*"Yeah.  I said I'd pay you back.  You got a problem with that?"*

	*"Uh, no, sir.  I'm just a little surprised --"*

	*"They're gifts."  He instructed the programmer to stash the bottles in
Al's old office, and make sure no one saw him.*

	On top of everything else, Al began to feel guilty about lying to Gushie,
and involving him in his scheme to get booze on the project.  He
rationalized his actions by telling himself that it was much safer for him
to confine his drinking here, than it was to run the risk of driving under
the influence.

	*I wonder how long I can keep the stash a secret*, he thought, stepping
off the elevator into the dimly lit corridor. *Or, for that matter, how
long it will last me*. Al had chosen to distant himself from the bottles,
in the hopes of making it last longer.  However, he was already down one
bottle and about to work on the second, and it was only the first night.

	Turning on the flashlight he put just inside the door, Al carefully picked
up two of the bottles.  He stared at the bottles for a moment and
hesitated.  If he polished them off too quickly, he'd have to find some
other unsuspecting soul to make a supply run. Gushie might become
suspicious if he asked him again.

	"Hell with it," Al muttered aloud, "I'll deal with it later."  He left
with the two bottles.

	Once back in his room, he uncorked one of the bottles and thought, *If
only Sam would leap into Beth again.  A day earlier perhaps.  Just enough
for him to alter his own actions. Maybe leave himself a note*. That thought
brightened Al's thoughts momentarily and he actually put the bottle down.

	But leaping didn't work that way.  There was no guarantee where Sam would
leap next.  *Don't get your hopes up, Calavicci*, he reminded himself,
taking hold of the bottle, *that way, there will be less of a
disappointment when he doesn't*.

DECEMBER 20, 2000

	Donna quietly entered the cafeteria, lost in thought.

	Sitting with her back toward Donna, was Sammie Jo.  In the wake of the
news concerning Al's first wife, she had forgotten all about the young

	Donna bit her lip, worried and perplexed, still clueless as to the reason
behind the young woman's grief.    Regardless of what her feelings were at
this moment, Sammie Jo was dressed for work and in that way, she was like
her father: she was immersing herself in her work.

	Taking the long way around to her office, Donna left Sammie Jo to her
breakfast.  Before Donna could approach the younger woman, she needed to
know exactly what she was dealing with.

	Once she was seated behind her desk, Donna called on the computer.
"Ziggy, why is Sammie Jo upset?"

	"Dr. Fuller remembers the other time line, Dr. Elesee."

	"Yes, I know that, Ziggy.  Why? How?"

	"Beyond her biological and genetic links to myself and Dr. Beckett, I do
not know, Dr. Elesee.  On the other time line, the first hints of her
awareness of other time lines were in March of this year.  Even then, we
could not determine why she remembers."


	"You and I, Dr. Elesee."

	Donna sighed, swirling her chair until she faced her tropical fish tank.
"Was she very close to Beth, then?"

	"Dr. Fuller's best friend was the Admiral's oldest daughter, Dr. Alberta
Calavicci," Ziggy explained.  There seemed to be a note of sadness in the
computer's voice.  Donna wondered if Ziggy was also close to Al's daughter.
 "Also, Dr.  Fuller had just established an intimate relationship with Dr.
Calavicci's bodyguard, Paul Ryder."

	Donna looked up at the ceiling, surprised.  "Bodyguard?  Why did --?"

	"Dr. Calavicci have a bodyguard?" Ziggy finished.  "Several reasons, but
chiefly it was what her grandfather wished."

	*Grandfather?* Donna had known Al long enough to know that his father had
passed away when Al was young.  Conversations with her sister-in-law
Colleen, Sabina, and her own curiosity about Beth had revealed to Donna
that Beth was illegitimate.  "Grandfather?"

	"Yes, Dr. Elesee. The late Admiral Adam Whitmore-Jones is Elizabeth
Townsend Calavicci's biological father."

	Donna sat up straight in her chair, mouth dropping open in astonishment.
The man had been worth millions.  Hearing this, several things that she had
observed about him over the years now made sense.  "Incredible," she
breathed.  Donna took a moment to gather her thoughts.  She hadn't been
this stunned since she learned the identity of Sammie Jo's real father.
"Getting back to the original subject, you were saying that Dr. Fuller and
. . . the bodyguard were, er, quite friendly?"

	"They were newlyweds."

	"Oh, dear," Donna murmured, heart going out to the young woman.

	"She was also pregnant."