Chapter Six Even after meeting him in the flesh, so to speak, Juniel Waters still found the thought of another Leaper difficult to swallow. She was not surprised that if one were to Leap by use of science, that it would be Dr. Sam Beckett. June could remember having read quite a few intriguing articles by him in various science magazines since she was thirteen, or was it fourteen? Oh, well, either way, she was amazed at where his theories had brought him. But had she been imagining it when she thought she'd seen sadness in his eyes as he spoke of his Leaping? God would not choose a Leaper who was unwilling, would He? Perhaps his desire to Leap was subconscious. June would have originally thought that his wish to return home would only get in the way of his abilities to accomplish each mission he was sent on, but perhaps for Sam, it was that very desire that drove him. Most likely Sam could not understand how she could Leap with so few regrets. "Amazing," Dante marveled as they rode back to Heather's house, echoing June's thoughts. "Meeting with Sam has helped to clear up certain aspects of my visions, but in other respects it has only made matters more complicated." Dante Alighieri would have looked quite out of place in his medieval garb to anyone other than June. She remembered a few times during some of her earlier Leaps when he had experimented with his clothing to try to match the time periods June had Leaped into, but it had only served to make him look even more out of place. After four or five attempts, she'd finally just told him that he looked just fine as he was. "Well, have you made any headway at all?" June asked. Dante answered, "Perhaps. I can tell you that Sam is everything he claims to be. I also believe he is right about saving James Westhall as our primary objective. Beyond that I am afraid I cannot tell you any more. For now I would suggest that we rely on Dr. Beckett for information." "It's a really good thing that today's a Friday," remarked June, "because I wouldn't have wanted to think up an excuse to miss work, what with Heather's boss. I mean, Mr. Knowles is a total crab! I don't know how Heather keeps from going insane dealing with that guy day in, day out. It would be a lot easier if Sam could see you, and I could see Al." The Observer sighed. "I thought of that as well. But you know as well as I that I am strictly forbidden to reveal myself to anyone other than you regardless of the circumstances. Perhaps Sam and this Project of his can find a technological answer. Does Heather have his phone number somewhere?" June remembered part of her first Leap, how confused Dante had been, suddenly thrust into the twentieth century and given a series of visions that at first seemed to mean nothing, and then suddenly started to come true right before his eyes. It was amazing how after four years he seemed to take it all as a matter of course. "Yeah, in her Rolodex." "Her _what_?" Well, every so often there were still things he had to learn, June amended. She thumbed through the Rolodex, explaining, "See? It's got the phone numbers and addresses of everyone in Heather's office, and in _this_ section, she has information on some of her recent interviewees. Including Paddy. Ah, here we go," she muttered to herself with a smile. "O'Callaghan. Or, shall we say, Beckett." "Do you trust her, Al?" Sam asked. Although he had apparently been lusting after her earlier, Al had seemed awfully paranoid around June. Sam couldn't believe everything that had happened. He'd Leaped in around lunchtime, gone home for a break, come back to practice, and shortly after that had to do an interview with a reporter who turned out to be a Leaper, and then spent dinner with June, learning about her admittedly odd history, when compared to his own. "Well, now I do," the hologram answered. At that moment Sam took notice of Al's outfit, which looked awfully subdued compared to his ordinarily outrageous attire. He wore a suit of a dark rusty maroon-looking color, a dark blue tie, and a black shirt with a blue and lavender confetti pattern. On anyone else, the combination of maroon and lavender would have clashed horrifically, but Al somehow made it look good. On the other hand, it was awfully reserved for Al. That concerned Sam. Sam leveled his gaze on Al, a concerned look on his face. "Al, is everything all right?" Al angrily punched at the handlink and the door to the Imaging Chamber opened, glowing behind him, and just as he turned around to leave, Sam shouted, "Al! _No!_" Perhaps it was the fact that Al had almost never heard his friend yell in all the time he'd known him that made him stop in his tracks. "Please, I need you, Al. Can't you tell me what's wrong?" Al remained silent. And to make matters worse, just then the phone rang and Al tried to make another escape while Sam was distracted, but Sam favored this with a glare that most resembled a nuclear meltdown. The hologram froze in place once again, albeit irritably. He muttered something incomprehensible to Ziggy; Sam assumed it was in Italian and decided he didn't want to know. At least he was venting his frustrations in another way instead of trying to flee, so Sam finally felt safe to pick up the phone. But he took particular care to remain facing Al as the voice in his ear said, "Sam, this is June speaking. There's something I need to talk to you about." "Hold on just a second," Sam said. "I'm going to put you on speakerphone so Al can hear." He fumbled around for a second and finally located the proper button, set the receiver down and said, "All right, go ahead." "Dante wants to know if there's anything you can do from your side of the house in order to link our holograms somehow so all four of us can see each other. He's working under some really strict rules from on high that say he can't make himself visible to anyone but me under any circumstances; at least that's how I interpret it. But there's a loophole. There's no rule about outside intervention. He and I think there might possibly be a technological answer to the problem; I mean, our Projects, if you will, seem to operate by the same basic concepts. When you get down to it, I think there's very little difference between science and theology. I seem to remember a little quantum physics. There's a lot of mystery, isn't there?" Sam smiled, remembering a dialogue with a certain senator back when he was struggling to get funding: --"Dr. Beckett, it seems we've left the realm of science and entered the realm of fantasy, Senator Birke remarked. [I need someone who can pull some strings around here! This is frustrating!] I thought.-- --I sighed and tried to collect my thoughts. I had a distinct feeling that this was going to be yet _another_ failed attempt, but I was not going to back down until the senator told me I had to leave. "Senator Birke, I have all of the math right here. I can show it to you. I've arrived at this after many thorough experiments and calculations." As I spoke I leafed through the papers, making sure that everything was in order. I didn't expect Birke to understand the math (he was a law major, a bright man to be sure, but not a physicist), but perhaps, perhaps it might make my point. I handed him my calculations, inviting him to look them over.-- --I saw the look on his face before he'd even taken the papers all the way out of my hand. [Oh, ouch!] I thought. [Wrong move, Sam! That made it ten times worse!] Birke didn't even make it past the first page. It must have seemed as incomprehensible as hieroglyphics to him. I tried not to let my expression betray my profound disappointment as he handed my calculations back and said, "Dr. Beckett. I can tell that you've put a lot of hard work into this, that much is clear, but I'm afraid I can't sponsor your project. The math is well and fine, but I'm going to need concrete proof. I need evidence I can see and touch."-- --"With all due respect, Senator," I ground out, struggling to keep my voice even, "this _is_ concrete proof. There is no more concrete proof one can ask for."-- --"Dr. Beckett, I have another appointment in five minutes. I'm going to have to ask you to leave." [No! Not again! Can't _Someone_ help me!] It was all I could do not to pound something, slam the door as I left Senator Birke's office. It was all clear to me. I could see it, I could understand it, but I had no way to impart that knowledge to anyone else. It was enough to make me want to admit defeat, -- It was all water under the bridge now, Sam knew. Soon after he had found Al and gotten him dried out so he could help him navigate the web of bureaucracy, and then he had Leaped. [And Leaped and Leaped and Leaped and Leaped,] commented a cynical part of his mind, which he quickly shook out of his thoughts entirely. He had to laugh as he snapped back to his conversation with June. "There _is_ a lot of mystery," he replied. "And I suspect the further we go, the deeper it'll get. Now, we are able to see each other because a magnetic convergence field was set up when we touched. That's that flash we saw. It might be possible to use that as a sort of 'carrier wave' to allow us to see and hear each other's Observer." "All right," Al called, "Tina and Gooshie are on it right now. We'll work on it through your night, and it ought to be ready in the morning." 'Your night', Sam had forgotten that Leap time and Project time usually failed to coincide. "Al says if it works he'll have it up by morning," Sam said. "Bye, June." "Bye." The hologram was beginning to look distracted once more and searching for an excuse to leave. Sam turned to Al, determined not to let him flee. Once he did that, the temperamental Observer had a tendency not to return for a long time, which could someday mean life or death to Sam. Therefore he had to nip this in the bud now before the hologram got out of hand. "Al, what's wrong? I've known you for a long time, and I can tell, no matter how you hide it." "Didn't I already tell you?" Al snapped in an acid tone, at which Sam flinched. Al's face softened suddenly, in silent apology, and his voice dropped to nearly a whisper. "That's right, the timelines changed. Sam, Beth is gonna divorce me." "Oh, Al, " Sam felt himself about to come to tears for the second time this Leap. How could it all be for nothing?! He had thought that he'd changed things! How could God or Time or Fate or Whoever deal out such a cruel blow to Al, again? Sam didn't think there was he could say to him. Knowing nothing else he could possibly do, he tried to take Al in his embrace to comfort him, but finally did come to tears when his hands went straight through him.