Chapter Eight Upon landing at Washington National Airport, Sam rented a car and, after finding the street he wanted on a map. After getting lost courtesy of a few one-way streets, the Leaper made his way to his friend's last known address. The snow was ankle deep. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen it snowing. Pulling the car up outside the small apartment building, he was hesitant. What if Al had returned to this address? What would he, what could he say to convince him that he was Sam? After all, according to Monica, he had died three years ago. How do you tell someone that, after three years, you're not dead. Sam stepped out of the car, resolved that, if Al did live there, he would just have to make him see what had happened. Hadn't Al been part of the Project from the beginning? Surely he would be able to accept what had happened as not being just a crazed woman's rantings. He walked up the front steps of the building, then through the door. Kara hadn't packed any footwear other than sneakers, so by the time he made it into the building, his feet were soaked. Finding apartment 1A was easy. First on the left. He knocked, then stood nervously waiting for a response. What's there to be nervous about? It's just Al. A young woman, about 28, opened the door. Just Al's age group, he thought. "Excuse me. I'm looking for someone who used to live here. His name is Al Calavicci." "I'm sorry, but there's no one here by that name." Sam's face dropped, hope draining away. "Katrina, who is at the door?", a older woman's voice with a heavy European accent, came from behind the portal. "A young lady, grandma. She's looking for someone named," she turned back to Sam, "what was it again?" "Calavicci, Al Calavicci." She turned her head, looking back behind the door again, "Al Calavicci." Small, withered fingers grasped the edge of the door, opening it wider. An small, older woman wearing an apron appeared. She was wringing her hands in its base. "Calavicci? Oh, yes, I know the name." Sam's face lit up with renewed hope. "He used to live here many years ago. I moved in after he left, but sometimes I still get mail for him." "You wouldn't happen to know where he is, would you?" "No, I'm sorry, I don't." Sam felt his heart drop again. "But, there is a person, a young navy officer, who comes once a month to see if there is anything for him. In fact, he should be here tonight." Like a yoyo, Sam's hopes lifted again. "Do you think I could leave a note. I really need to get in contact with him." "Certainly. Do you have it with you?" Sam hadn't expected to have to leave any type of message. "Uh, no, I'm sorry I don't." "Well then, why don't you come in. You can write your letter for him here." The younger woman spoke up. "Grandma, it's two days to Christmas. We've still got loads of baking to do." Christmas! I completely forgot it was nearly Christmas! "All the more reason to let this young lady inside. Katrina, where is your Christmas spirit," she gently chastised her granddaughter, then turned back to Sam. "Come in, ... please," she said, making the entrance wider, allowing the Leaper to enter. The apartment was small, but felt cozy and well lived in. A Christmas tree twinkled in the corner, presents were strewn under it. "Here, dear, you sit down. Katrina, get ... I'm sorry, what was your name?" Sam hesitated. What was Kara's real name? "Consuela Ramirez." "Get Miss Ramirez some notepaper and a pen." She looked back at Sam. "Would you like something to drink, dear? You must be cold after being outside." She glanced down at the Leaper's snow soaked shoes, making him fidget in an attempt to cover them up. "No, I'm fine, thank you." The young woman named Katrina handed Sam a pad of paper and a pen while he took a seat on the sofa, then left the room, following her grandmother through an old fashioned wooden double-hinged door into what he could see was the kitchen. He looked down at the blank sheet, but couldn't think of what to write. From the kitchen, he could hear the two women whispering. "Grandma, how could you let a stranger in? You don't know what you're doing anymore?" "Katrina, where's your heart? I thought your mother raised you better than that." "Grandma, it's just ..." "You don't know anything about that young girl in there. Perhaps this Al Calavicci is her father, and she's looking for him. Did you think of that? I thought not. This is the time of year when you should open your heart and home to strangers, not ignore them." Al, my father! Sam couldn't help but grin, picturing Al being anyone's father. It would serve him right to be the father of the type of woman he's always chasing after; to see what it's like on the other side of the coin. The kitchen door swung open, and the older woman stepped back into the livingroom. "Finished?" He hadn't even begun. "I, uh, I can't think of what to write?" "Well, what do you want to say?" Sam knew he couldn't come right out and tell this woman his story, no matter how much like his own grandma she reminded him. "I just want to get into contact with him." "Well then, why not just say that, and include the address or telephone number of the place where you're staying." She made it sound so simple. It was then that he realized that he didn't yet have a place to stay. "Would you happen to have a telephone book? I don't have a place to stay yet. I got off the plane and came right here." "Certainly, dear. It's under the table in front of you. The closest one to here is the Candlelight Motel, on Rankin Street. It's not high class, like you're probably used to, but it's clean. The couple that run it belong to my church. The telephone's on the table at the far end of the sofa." She left him alone again, returning to the kitchen. Sam retrieved the telephone book and, looking up the number, called them. After getting a room booked, he returned the directory to its place under the coffee table. Now, what do I say. He sat, staring at the blank piece of paper. Just tell him you want to get in contact with him. You know he'll come. Sam began to write: Al: I know this is hard to believe, but I'm still alive. Something happened at the end of my last leap and I switched places with another leaper. It's too complicated to explain here. I'm staying at the Candlelight Motel, in Georgetown, near where your old apartment is. The one you used to live in before the Project. I don't know the room number yet. Ask for Sam Beckett's room. I need your help to get back into my own leaps, so that I can come home. Please come. Sam Folding the page, he placed it inside the envelope and licked it shut. He turned it over and wrote simply, 'Al Calavicci'. As the older woman came back into the room, he stood. "I've finished," he said, the envelope hanging loosely in his hands. "Well then, I'll just add it to the stack." She held out her hand, and Sam slowly reached up, handing it to her. She turned and placed it on top of a small mound of envelopes, all addressed to Admiral A. Calavicci. He was sure he felt his heart lurch. "Thank you very much. I'd better be going. I've got to check in, and, ..." "We were just about to sit down to an early dinner. Would you like to join us?" His stomach grumbled at the mention of food. The meal the airline had served was little more than a snack. Had it been that long since he had eaten breakfast at the diner in Albuquerque? "I wouldn't want to impose." "You are not imposing. I am inviting. Here, give me your coat." She started to remove the coat from around Sam's shoulders before he could protest. "Katrina, bring another plate out. Our guest is joining us." A few hours later, Sam left the warm and familial feeling in the apartment. It had been years since he'd last enjoyed a Christmas with his family, and this was the first time he could remember in any leap feeling like he belonged somewhere, even for a short time. He stepped up to the car and, after brushing off the snow that had accumulated, drove away. As he pulled from the curb, he didn't see the military car pull up in front of the building. A young navy officer stepped out, ran up the steps and into the building the Leaper had just left.