CHAPTER TWO "Al!" Sam shouted, suddenly regaining his wits. He whirled on Edward in sudden anger. "Where's Al and what have you done with him?" Edward looked honestly confused, and he blinked, startled by Sam's sudden (and from his perspective) totally unprovoked tirade. "Al?" he asked, "Samuel, I am afraid there is no one at the Project named Al." "You know perfectly well who I'm talking about!" Sam snapped. "Al Calavicci! Admiral Albert Calavicci!" And as an afterthought, the Leaper growled, "And no one calls me Samuel!" "But...but I've always called you Samuel, and you've never minded," came Edward's perplexed reply. "And I really don't know who you're talking about." Sam felt the tears threatening to flow again at these awful words. There was a terrible lump forming in his throat, and all he could manage to do was whisper, "Don't tell me he's died..." Edward began to tap some buttons on the handlink, and the care with which he did this seemed almost absurd when Sam recalled the way Al pounded, shook, hit, and otherwise mistreated the instrument. "Samuel--Sam," Edward corrected with a sigh of frustration, "I'm having Alpha run a check on this Al Calavicci for you, if that will help any." "Ziggy," Sam interrupted. The hologram's eyebrows shot up. "Alpha. Whatever gave you that idea? Is something the matter with you? Are you ill?" "That's what she's always been called. That's what-" Sam stopped in sudden realization. "That's what Al named her. Ziggy." "Alpha," Edward repeated, trying to correct Sam as gently as possible. "Ziggy." St. John sighed at the Leaper's stubbornness, and then a note of surprise crept into his voice. "Strange...Alpha answers to that name as well. Very curious...and here comes that information you were looking for. I don't believe it...there is indeed an Admiral Albert Calavicci. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife Beth Calavicci and four children, all daughters: Claudia, Pamela, Anita, and Trudy. He now has two grandchildren, as well. Would you care to know their names?" Sam shook his head. "No...that's all right. That's what I needed to hear." [Al's happy now. He has Beth back, a wife he truly loves, and four daughters...] He recalled himself speaking these words once, but it didn't seem to him like a Leap memory. Even with the Swiss-cheese magnafluxing phenomenon in full effect, Sam still felt there was something different about this memory. He tried to access whatever else might have been said in this exchange in hopes that it might lend a clue to his situation, but to no avail. His mind was a total blank. Despite the sudden shock of losing his best friend and Observer, Sam turned his mind to the matter of his Leap. "Do you know why I'm here?" "Alpha is working on that right now. We don't know quite yet. But I have some information about your host. Your name is Paddy O'Callaghan, and you're the lead guitarist and singer of a band called Overdrive." Well, there was one redeeming characteristic about this Edward St. John the Fifth, noted Sam. He didn't have to pump the hologram for information...but somehow that took all of the fun out of it. "The date is July 8th, 1980, and you are in San Francisco, California. Here's some more information you should find useful. The other members of the band are Sam Blitzen, backup guitar and vocals," -At that name, the tiniest of smiles tugged at the corners of Edward's mouth, but Sam would have preferred a smart-alecky wise crack a la Calavicci- "Lonnie Jackson, drums, Tom DiCarlo, bass guitar and backup vocals, and James Westhall, keyboards. The band's manager is Damon Ramsay." "Do you know anything about the band...how it was formed, or anything?" Dealing with the band members would be a whole lot easier if he knew where they all stood, he reasoned. Edward keyed in a few commands on the flashing handlink, and when it squealed and apparently refused to respond, Sam kept waiting for him to hit it, but all he did was whisper, "Come on, Alpha..." while he waited patiently for the handlink to respond. "There!" he proclaimed triumphantly a few seconds later. "Paddy is originally from the southern region of Ireland. He met James Westhall in Southampton while he was on a musical tour with a small band called The Edge...they never seemed to achieve any measure of fame. Anyway, he and James became fast friends, and they decided to go to America together and try their luck there. The other players are all Americans that they invited into the band. All of the members have permanent residences in San Francisco, but they spend about half the year on tour. You've Leaped in while they're making a three-day stopover in San Francisco to check in on their wives and children, those who have them before they go on to their next concert in Santa Fe." "So what's Ziggy say I have to do?" Sam asked. The hologram glanced at the handlink, and frowned. "Alpha. And I don't know. Wait a minute...the Santa Fe concert is canceled, and about a year after that, Overdrive simply vanishes from the music world. A few of the musicians join other groups, but they never achieve the fame that they did with Overdrive." "What happened?" Edward's frown deepened further, causing his brow to furrow as the handlink delivered its dreadful message. "James Westhall is going to die on the 10th, which is two days from now. An accidental gunshot wound, according to police and newspaper reports. Many speculate that it was suicide. Alpha says the odds are 61 percent that it actually was a suicide, although the police were never quite sure what happened." Sam was taken aback. "But everyone seemed so happy. It looks like they get along really well, even with their manager. Everyone was laughing and having a good time, even when something happened to the equipment...like when I Leaped in. There's just no reason." "Samuel," Edward admonished in a grave tone, made even more grim by his unwelcome use of the Leaper's full name, "you of all people should know that things are not always how they appear." He made his point by opening the glowing Door and vanishing from sight. Edward St. John the Fifth was one confused Observer as he stepped through the Door of the Imaging Chamber. He couldn't understand what was the matter with Samuel after this Leap. It seemed as if Dr. Beckett could remember nothing about him, while Edward could remember every moment of every Leap that he'd spent with Samuel. He even remembered the time while Project Quantum Leap was still in its infancy, how Samuel had come to befriend him almost immediately after he'd stepped off of the tiny Cessna that had delivered him to the Project. He even remembered Samuel himself naming the parallel hybrid supercomputer Alpha. And now it had all fallen apart. As far as Samuel was concerned, whatever friendship they had had never happened. In fact, Edward was sure that Samuel despised him. He didn't even recognize Edward, and seemed to believe there was someone else who belonged in his place: an admiral by the name of Al Calavicci. According to Samuel, this Admiral Calavicci had named the computer Ziggy, a name that Alpha indeed answered to. He tried to busy himself in the Waiting Room interviewing the Visitor, who seemed to have gotten it in his head that he had somehow warped back to the nineteenth century once he had seen Edward's clothing. Paddy O'Callaghan had taken a liking to Edward, having immediately deduced him to be a native of Southampton, where he said one of his friends was from. Unfortunately, this did not help Edward to gain any useful information. There simply was nothing that gave a clue to James Westhall's death, at least nothing that Paddy could remember. He delayed going to sleep because he knew what would happen as soon as he tried. The same terrible dreams haunted him every night, and he had reached a point where they did not bother him anymore, even as he witnessed the ghastly images once again. But after losing Samuel (that was what this sudden rejection felt like to him), Edward was not sure if he could keep from being horribly shaken to the core by the awful figments of his imagination. He could not allow Samuel, or anyone, for that matter, to know about his guilt. It was his own pain to bear alone underneath a cool, detached exterior. As he always did, Edward finally faced it alone that night, and as he slept, he was assaulted by dreams of terror, screaming, and death... Not too far from Project Quantum Leap, somewhere in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a certain Admiral Albert Calavicci was also having strange, but not so nearly frightening dreams that had just started a few days ago as if in a single instant. He woke up once again, and his wife Beth stirred, leaning over to comfort Al. "What's the matter, honey?" she murmured gently. "Is it that dream again?" This was the third time he'd woken her that night with the strange montage of images that seemed to Al as if it was reaching for him across an unknown barrier, from another place, another time, or another world, or something; Al didn't know what. But whatever it was, it was eerily real. Al nodded. "Yeah." It hadn't been a nightmare, but the regularity with which it occurred was beginning to scare him. "Tell me about it," Beth whispered. Al hesitated, not sure whether he could put the strange, all-too-real dream into words. "I don't know why...it started a few days ago. I feel like I'm needed somewhere. There's a man with these deep, dark eyes...it seems like he's been through a lot, and he needs me to help him through it, because God or Time or Fate or Whatever never lets up on him." Why had he said that? Al didn't know where that particular phrase had come from. Of course, everything went back to that dream. And the center of that dream: "The whole thing hinges on this bright blue light...it's like nothing I've ever seen, but I don't understand what it's supposed to be. And there have been some other really weird things happening in those dreams. I mean, I walked through furniture, and I had this thing in my hand that looked like a bunch of glowing Legos, and I was yelling at it for some reason." Beth raised an eyebrow at the strangeness of the dream. "God..." he whispered, "why am I trying to explain these dreams? I can see that it's not making any sense to you." But deep in his heart, Al knew why he was telling her these things. It felt good to get it off his chest, even if it seemed totally nonsensical to Beth. "That doesn't matter, Al. What do you think I'm here for?" Beth chided gently. [What am I here to do, Al?] He tried not to shudder at his wife's well-meaning words, for they came almost directly out of his dream. What they meant, though, he could not even begin to guess. "I would never leave you, Al. I'd never abandon you." Al gave a contented smile to his dear wife who had given him four beautiful daughters. He loved them all in every corner of his heart. But that same heart cried out for a place and a friend he didn't know. With all of the confusing feelings brought on by the strange dreams, it seemed as if Beth was the only center [Center me on...someone...now! (He'd forgotten the name!)], the only thing that remained constant in the center of all of that chaos. "Oh, Beth," he whispered. How he needed her! He could imagine being with no other woman. "Stay with me until the end of time..." "And beyond," Beth replied. That struck an eerie chord within Al, and the worst thing was he didn't know why.