Chapter 13

In all the leaps I had made, I had only leaped into a previous host once
before. Now I had done it again and, like the previous time, it was into
someone for whom I cared greatly.

I had known Al for years, had even called him my best friend. But for
all the years I had known him, nothing prepared me for the reflection in
the bathroom mirror. Twenty years before, Al had been a fun-loving, free
rascal who looked forward to his future as a naval aviator. In 1976,
Bingo was gone, replaced with a war-torn man who had lost his only
reason for living: the only woman he ever really loved, his first wife,
Beth. Even after a decent hot shower, a shave, and a change of clothes,
the reflection still showed the days and nights this Al had spent
drinking his problems temporarily away. And even though I knew Al would
eventually "straighten up and fly right", seeing him in this state broke
my heart. I knew I had to do something to give him the life he missed
because of his drinking. I just wasn't sure how.

There was a knock on the door, bringing Sam out of his reflections on
the reflection before him. The sound had surprised him greatly, given
what Al has told him of how his host had been spending his days alone
and at home.

Sam slowly approached the door before opening it. The sight before him
put him in utter silence. He wondered how Al reacted to this sight in
the original history, if he had been sober enough to open the door in
the first place. Whatever the answer to his wondering, Sam had his own
reaction - he stared in amazement.

Susan Chambers smiled at him, looking more like Beth Calavicci than she
would in four years. It was no wonder Al had fallen for her.

"Mr. Calavicci?" she asked, sounding uncertain.

Sam didn't answer immediately, thinking about the way she spoke. It was
obvious that the two hadn't yet met. Was he here to prevent them from
meeting? He was surprised - and saddened - by what he could suddenly
remember from his last leap.

"Yes," he finally answered, knowing he should at least be courteous to

Susan seemed pleased with the response. "Oh, good. I was afraid I had
the wrong apartment. My assistant usually does the deliveries but he's
sick today so it's up to me. Now, I know you asked not to be disturbed
but I try to meet my customers." She extended her hand. "I'm Susan

Sam shook her hand carefully, hoping he was doing the right thing. "Al
Calavicci," he introduced. He frowned a bit in confusion to what she
said earlier. "Deliveries?"

"Oh!" she exclaimed. She raised a brown paper bag and handed it to him.
"I'm sorry. Here you are. I'll have Tom bring up the bill later."

Sam accepted the bag and looked in it with interest to find two heavily
loaded turkey sandwiches - extra mustard, his mind supplied - and two
bags of potato chips. Obviously his lunch. He looked in the bag again.
And dinner. He looked at Susan again. 

"Thank you," he told her graciously.

She gave him a wide smile. "You're welcome."

The two stared at each other a moment, neither knowing what to do next.
Sam was certain that he had to keep Susan from leaving - or not - but he
wasn't sure how to keep her from doing so.

Susan spoke first. "I should be going now. Work to do, you know."

Sam nodded in response.

"So," she continued. "Maybe I'll see you later."

He nodded again. "That would be nice."

She smiled at him before walking down the hall, away from the small

Sam closed the door, thinking about the encounter. Was this the way Al
met Susan? If it wasn't before, it was now and Sam was at a complete
loss on what to do, besides eat Al's sandwiches.
Susan Chambers was also at a loss on what to do. She hadn't expected to
see the thin, lost face on the other side of that apartment door. Al
Calavicci seemed like such a lost soul, not at all like the Lieutenant
Commander she had expected to see. In fact, he looked as if it had taken
a lot for him just to shower and shave this morning. His blood-shot eyes
indicated to her that sobriety wasn't very common for him. Yet, when he
looked at her, there was the gleam of recognition in his eyes.

Had me met before? she wondered, immediately answering "no" to the
question. So, there had to be another reason for that look. She pondered
it as she returned to the car. I must remind him of someone. Someone he
cared about? Someone he… loved? It seemed the only answer, in her
opinion, and that caused her heart to go out to him. Something terrible
had to have happened to cause him to be in his condition - something
which broke his heart, something which had to do with whoever she
reminded him of.

It was amazing how attractive a hurt soul could be.
Al had spent house in his office, reflecting on the past, trying to see
how Sam's leaping into Lt. Comdr. Calavicci was going to save Susan's
life. He was also trying to sort the new memories that came whenever Sam
changed history even a little bit.

In the original history, he hadn't opened the door. In fact, he had been
too hungover to even hear the knock on the door, much less to take a
shower. In the original history, he hadn't met Susan until a week later
when, in a near fit, she stormed to his apartment to demand payment for
the bill she had given him. He had nearly died when he first saw her
and, moments later, he was crying in her arms, telling her everything
about Beth. They had spent the entire day talking about each others'

Now that the memories were shifting around, Al could even remember Susan
mentioning she had a relative with some emotional problems and she was
uncertain whether to place her in a mental hospital. Al had talked her
out of it, thoughts of Trudy, his only sister, in his head.

He sat up at the thought. That has to be it. If Angela went to a
hospital now then she'll have had treatment and she won't kill Susan
during a DPD episode. Was it really that simple? Something told him that
it probably wasn't. Sam's failed leaps had a tendency to be harder the
second time around. Still, if there was a chance that it could work…

"Ziggy," Al said to the nothingness of his office as he stood. "Have
Gushie bring the Imaging Chamber online."

"Affirmative, Admiral," the computer replied. "May I assume you have a
reasonable theory as to why Dr. Beckett has leaped into 1976?"

Al walked out his office door as he spoke. "What are the chances that
Sam's there to make sure Angela Cotton gets psychiatric help now rather
than forty years from now?"

"Forty-eight point ninety-four percent, Admiral."

Al frowned. "Only forty-nine percent? Why so low?"

"Forty-eight point ninety-four percent, Admiral," Ziggy corrected. "It
is highly unlikely that Dr. Beckett can convince Susan Chambers or
Angela Cotton that the latter should be institutionalized. Susan allowed
Angela to make the final decision concerning her mental health."

"The hell with a mental hospital, Ziggy," Al told her as he entered the
Control Room. "How about just getting her some professional help?"

"I did calculate that possibility as well, Admiral. I'm afraid the
results are the same. It is unlikely that Dr. Beckett can have an impact
on Angela's decision to refuse treatment for her condition."

"Well, then, what the hell is he there for?" Al yelled in frustration.

"There is a seventy-one point thirty-eight percent chance that Dr.
Beckett must make certain that you marry Susan Chambers."

Al glared at the globe that dangled from the ceiling, the instrument
that the general population of the project considered as Ziggy. "Me
Marry Susan?" He shook his head. "I don't think so."

"I fail to see why," Ziggy replied. "By marrying Susan Chambers, you
will be providing yourself with a stabilizing factor to help you
overcome the PostTraumatic Stress you were afflicted with in 1976. In
addition, you will be able to prevent Susan Chambers' death in 1980."

Al picked up a handlink. "You can't factor out human emotions, Ziggy.
Did you factor in the fact that Susan looks like Beth?"

"I believe Miss Chambers' resemblance to your first wife will be an
additional stabilizing factor."

Al pointed angrily at the globe. "Well, factor this in! I don't want
Susan to be one of my ex-wives and I certainly don't want to marry
someone simply because she looks like Beth. It is not an option.
Period." He marched towards the Imaging Chamber door.

"May I at least suggest that you inform Dr. Beckett of my conclusions
and your concerns?"

Al ignored the computer as he entered the Imaging Chamber.