Chapter 12

Donna was in her quarters, reading a book in her easy chair, the radio nearby 
set to an easy-listening station.  As the singer crooned on about love, 
Donna's thoughts drifted away from the story she had been reading.  It was 
hard to believe that the baby would be coming any day now.  She rested her 
hand on her large stomach.  Feeling a gentle kick, she smiled.

She missed Sam so much now.  If it wasn't for the baby, she wouldn't have 
believed that Sam had come home at all.  It had been so brief and rushed.  No 
one had been more surprised than her, to find out that she was pregnant.  The 
next few leaps had more pressing matters and her pregnancy was pushed toward 
the back of her mind.

Then they had lost contact with Sam and she had gotten scared.  She had 
wanted Al to tell Sam on that last leap, but something inside warned her not 
to.  So she had followed her instincts and had told Al to say nothing.  When 
Ziggy informed her that they had reestablished a connection with Sam, relief 
had flooded over her.  She had almost gone to check on the Visitor, just to 
see who Sam had replaced this time and also to prove to herself that her 
husband was still alive.  But without Al nearby, she decided not to go.

She had come to count on Al alot lately, not just with him holding his tongue 
about her pregnancy, but with the little things that Sam should have been 
there to do as well.  He had given her his word, and the last few leaps 
before the lost contact, he had said nothing to Sam about the baby.  He was 
an angel sometimes, she had to admit, even through the rough exterior he let 
others see.

Al had helped her through the morning sickness, which in her case had lasted 
all day, and through the backaches, cravings, and general grumpiness she 
tended to fall upon sometimes when the going got tough.  He had even offered 
to be there when the baby was born.  She had declined that offer, knowing 
that his place was with Beth, and hoping that her own husband would be home 
for the big event.  Talk about fantasizing.  

She sighed.  The baby kicked a few more times, before settling down again.  
Donna had found out a month ago that the baby she was carrying was a boy.  
She had intended to wait until the birth to find out the sex, but the doctor 
had to run an amniocentesis test because of Donna's age.  43 wasn't exactly 
young to be having your first child, and complications could arise.  The test 
had been a precaution.  The results had come back negative, and the doctor 
had inadvertently let slip the sex of the child while telling her.  Her 
momentary anger had vanished when she realized how happy Sam would be.  He 
had always wanted a son.

Donna put down the book she was reading.  She couldn't concentrate on it 
right now.  She really should be working on a new proposal to try to get more 
funding.  Now that they had found Sam, money was going to be needed badly.  
She got up to get a drink, the background music soothing her, as some singer 
sang of letting your troubles slip away.    It was getting harder and harder 
to maneuver around her quarters as she got closer to her due date.  She had 
seen her doctor three days ago.  Her due date was three days away, on August 
18th.  If she didn't go into labor soon, Dr. Marshall would induce.

Donna helped herself to a glass of apple juice from her small fridge.  She 
was heading back to the living room when someone knocked on her door.  
"Come in."

Al opened the door and stepped inside.  

"Hi, Al!" She greeted cheerily.

He smiled at her before giving her a friendly hug.  "How are you doing 

She shrugged.  "Best as can be expected."  She looked down.  "It will be nice 
to see my feet again."

Al laughed.  "How long now?"

"Anyday.  If I don't go into labor soon, I'll be induced.  Frankly, I'll be 
happy to get it over with."

She struggled to sit on the couch and Al was at her side in seconds, easing 
her down.  "Thanks." She grinned wryly.

He sat on the sofa next to her and watched her shift around trying to get 
comfortable.  He handed her a pillow to place behind her back.  "Donna... " 
he began.

She placed her juice down on the end table.  "What is it, Al?"  A thought 
occurred to her.  "Is Sam okay?"

"Sam's fine, he was relaxing when I left."

"Then what is it?"

Al hedged a bit.  He wanted another cigar, but he refused to smoke around 
Donna.  "It's about this leap."  He looked straight at Donna.  "He asked 
about kids."

"Did you tell him?"


"Thank you."  She let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding.

"I think you should reconsider."

"Why?  It would only hurt him."  She had gone over this many times in her 
head.  To her the cons outweighed the pros.

"Because he is the father.  He has a right to know."

She shook her head.  "No.  It is my decision."  The radio started belting out 
a tune that she really wasn't fond of, and Donna considered turning it off, 
but that would mean getting up again.  She glared at it from across the room, 
wishing the annoying song would end.  She turned her attention back to Al.

Al stood.  "Well, you don't have to be the one to face him when he plays 
twenty questions."  He knew it was low of him to bring it up, but his 
frustration had gotten the better of him.  He instantly regretted the words.

She flinched, but her tone remained neutral.  "Evade him."

Al shrugged.  "It's not as easy as it used to be.  He knows me too well.  I 
can't just lie to him anymore.  He corners me everytime.  It seems like the 
swiss-cheesing is becoming less with each leap."

Donna looked skeptical.

Al sat back down.  "Donna.  Listen to me.  Please."

Donna could hear the pleading in his voice.  She wondered exactly what went 
on in the Imaging Chamber.  There was a time when she was jealous of Al, as 
he got to see more of Sam than she did.  It just hadn't seemed fair to her 

She had been tempted to go in the Imaging Chamber on more than one occasion.  
A couple of times she had almost pleaded to Al to go with him.  Especially 
when Sam was in danger.  But she had given in to logic and stayed away.  She 
had come to terms with her husband's absence.  As much as she missed him, she 
couldn't bear it if he saw her and didn't remember.  But the little digs did 
still hurt.  "I'm listening."

"He wants something to hold on to.  Something besides me to remind him of 
Home."  Al shifted on the sofa to better face her.  "He is lonely.  I give 
him what little bits of information I am allowed, but sometimes it just isn't 
enough.  Do you understand?"

Donna knew all to well about loneliness.  The annoying song had finally 
ended.  The announcer was babbling on.  She tuned the noise out.  "What would 
you have me do?  Step into the Chamber with you?"  She looked directly at Al. 
 "I can see how it would be tough to go on leap after leap.  But there is 
nothing I can do!"  Her voice rose an octave at the end.

"Just let me tell him about the baby.  Let him know he has a son."  Al stated 
simply.  He was the only one who knew the sex of the child other than Donna.

Donna's eyes shone with unshed tears.  She wanted Sam to know.  Really she 
did.  She composed her thoughts.  "Then he would know that he WAS home."  She 
brought up her one valid point.  "It would open up a new can of worms."

Al considered this.  "I know.  I'd deal with it."  Damn simo-leap again.

Donna turned away from Al.  She fought the tears threatening to fall.  She 
glanced at her glass of juice.  Beads of condensation dripped down the side.  
Just like tears.  She was no longer thirsty.

"Donna, don't shut me out."  Al's voice was thick with emotion.  He placed 
his hands on her arms.

The radio kicked into another song.  Kenny Rogers.  Donna knew she should 
have shut it off before.  This song had played at her wedding.  The words 
rang in her head.  'Through the years, you've never let me down-you've turned 
my life around-the sweetest days I've found, I've found with you'

She could feel the warmth of his hands through her light shirt.  She fought 
the impulse to stand.  She needed Sam so bad.  It had been so long since she 
had been held in love.  A lone tear escaped and tracked its way down her 

She turned to say something to him, but the expression on his face caught her 
by surprise.  He had dropped his 'mask' that he usually wore.  The one where 
he convinces everyone that he is fine, and life is fine, thank you very much.

On his face now was a time-weary expression of pain.  One she had never seen 
on him before.  One that bespoke of many days and nights in the Imaging 
Chamber worrying about Sam.  One that was tortured by not being able to give 
his best friend anything but promises.  One that said all he wanted was to 
give something back to Sam.  A little bit of hope.  A little slice of Home.  
The only gift he could give Sam.  The news of his son.

The radio crooned on in the background.  "I swear, you've taught me 
everything I know-Can't imagine needing someone so, but through the years it 
seems to me I need you more and more-Through the years, through all the good 
and bad-I've always been so glad to be with you'

His hand reached up and wiped away the tear on her cheek  Gently.  The caress 
of a friend.  Donna couldn't take it any longer.  She fell into his arms 
sobbing.  Crying for the husband she couldn't have.  The man who wouldn't be 
around to see his son born.

Al held her and stroked her back.  He let her cry her heart out.  She had 
needed this release for a while.  It hurt him to see her putting on a brave 
face all the time.  He knew deep inside she must be hurting bad.  It had been 
difficult for Beth when their first daughter was born.  They had been so 
young then and scared themselves.  It wasn't easy to become a parent.  And 
there had been two of them.  He could only begin to understand what Donna was 
going through by herself.  He pulled her closer to him and held her as he 
imagined Sam would.

Her tears didn't seem to have an end.  She cried for all the nights she had 
spent alone.  She cried for all the years lost.  She cried until her eyes 
were swollen and her nose was stuffed.  Once the dam had opened, all the hurt 
and pain had come out.  She was scared, damn it!  This was her first baby, 
and she was scared.  Afraid that she wouldn't be a good mother, afraid that 
her baby would grow up without a father.  She held on to Al and sobbed deeper 
into his chest.

"Shhhh..." He soothed, when her tears finally began to let up.  "It's gonna 
be all right."  He spoke in a quiet, gentle tone.  He reached into the pocket 
of his jacket and withdrew a handkerchief and handed it to her.  The song had 
ended and another one had begun.  Al didn't recognize it, but this one was 
singing about saving time in a bottle.  The words were reassuring, 
comforting.  'If I could save time in a bottle-The first thing that I'd like 
to do-Is to save everyday till eternity passes away so I could spend them 
with you'

Donna took the handkerchief and blew her nose.  It helped a little.  She sat 
up and looked at Al.  The expression on his face had changed to one of 

"Feel better?" he asked her.

She nodded.  "A little."  She looked at his shirt which was soaked with her 
tears.  "I'm sorry," she began to apologize.

"Don't."  he said simply.

She tried to imagine what she must look like to him right now.  Her face all 
swollen, to match her swollen belly.  The mental picture made her grin.  She 
blew her nose again, as it was beginning to run.

He could tell the crying had worn her out.  She looked exhausted now more 
than ever.  He remembered Beth telling him over and over again that the last 
weeks of her pregnancies were the worst, as she really couldn't find a 
comfortable position in which to sleep.

Donna yawned once, and Al took that as a sign that it was time to leave.  He 
gave her a comforting hug and let her go.  "I'm gonna go now.  Will you be 

Donna yawned again.  She was so tired.  The crying had left her emotionally 
wrung out and physically drained.  She lay back against a pillow cushion, 
meaning just to rest her eyes for a moment.  "Uh-huh." she managed to mumble.

Al got up and stretched Donna's legs out.  She shifted somewhat, but was 
already asleep.  Al went to the bedroom and retrieved a blanket.  He stopped 
by the radio and turned it off.  Donna needed her sleep.  He covered her with 
the blanket.  She was snoring lightly.

He bent down and brushed the bangs from her forehead, ever so lightly, and 
placed a kiss there.  "That one's from Sam, kid."

He watched her for a moment to make sure she was comfortable.  Seeing her 
relax into a deeper sleep, he turned out the lights and quietly left her 
quarters.  He stretched and yawned, then headed for his own.