Chapter 14

The sandwiches and chips were gone. The apartment had been cleaned and
organized. Hours had passed since Susan had appeared at the door. As a
result, Sam found himself spending the rest of his time watching
television and waiting for his partner.

The news was full of recaps of the bicentennial celebrations that had
occurred earlier that month and that were still continuing. Sam didn't
recall any kind of celebrations in July of 1976. He had been absorbed in
his studies while, at the same time, working full-time in a laboratory,
making his name known the world over. He had had little interest in the
frivolities of the year.

"I don't remember any of this either, if that's any consolation."

Sam forced himself not to jump at the voice, thankful to hear it after
so many hours.

"How's Bingo?" he asked with concern.

Al accepted the nickname readily, knowing it would help prevent
confusion with nouns and pronouns.

"He doesn't go by 'Bingo' anymore," Al told Sam, just for knowledge
sake. "Verbina's with him now, trying to convince him that psychiatrists
are not the enemy."

Sam gave him a sad smile. It didn't really surprise him. Al had never
been very trusting of psychiatrists until he met Verbina Beeks and, even
then, he tended to keep his personal life very personal. The only times
he ever went to Verbina was when something was seriously bothering him.

"Do you think that she'll have any luck with him?"

Al shrugged. "I don't know. I hope so."

Sam nodded a bit in agreement. If anyone needed help, it was Al
Calavicci during this time of his life.

"So, has Ziggy figured out what I'm here to do?"

Al hesitated. "Well, she has a theory but she's completely off the mark
this time."

Sam finally looked at Al, questioning in his eyes. "Why? What does she

"She says you're here to get me to marry Susan," Al answered with a bit
of a sneer.

"And what's wrong with that?"

The Admiral looked at Sam firmly. "I don't want to marry her, Sam. It
would be a mistake for me to marry her."

"Why?" Sam asked bluntly.

"Because she looks like Beth!" Al exclaimed as if it were obvious. "It
wouldn't be fair to her if I married her, Sam. I don't want to marry
someone just because she looks like the woman I married before."

Sam looked at him carefully. "Is that really the reason? Or is it
because you're afraid of the truth?"

"What truth?" Al challenged him.

Sam gave him a sympathetic look. "That you really were in love with

Al frowned. "That's ridiculous, Sam." The expression that he could not
keep from his eyes, however, said otherwise.

"Then, what do you think I here to do?"

"To get Angela some professional help." Al told him firmly. "She's a
sick woman, Sam. And Susan knows it."

Sam stood and looked at Al firmly. "Wouldn't you marrying Susan
contribute to that?"

"No, it wouldn't," Al insisted. "Sam, I had talked Susan out of putting
Angela in a hospital where she belongs. I was blinded by my own
experiences concerning Trudy. If anything, it will keep Angela from
getting any therapy at all."

Sam continues to look carefully at Al, looking into those brown eyes
that could not keep the truth from him.

"You still love Susan, don't you?"


"You still love Susan. You claim you almost married her because she
reminded you of Beth but that isn't the entire truth. Is it?"

Al glared at him. "Sam, listen to me, will you? I didn't really love
Susan. I loved Beth and Susan was just a convenient replacement to me."

Sam shook his head. "I don't believe you. I can see it in your eyes, Al.
Susan was more than just a replacement. You loved her. So, why didn't
you marry her?"

Al avoided Sam's gaze. "How many times do I have to tell you that I
didn't marry her because she looked…"

"Al," Sam interrupted him. "Try looking into my eyes and saying that.

Al focused on his eyes as requested. "I didn't marry Susan because…" He
stopped, apparently unwilling to go further.

"Because…" Sam pressured firmly yet gently.

Al diverted his eyes quickly, focusing on inputting the exiting sequence
into the handlink. He ignored Sam's requests that he stay and talk,
stepping through the Imaging Chamber door and into his present.

Sam nodded slightly at Al's Actions, knowing that they meant Sam had hit
the mark. Al was indeed still in love with Susan. However, there was
something plaguing Al about his relationship with her, something he
obviously deeply regretted. Sam was certain that Al would tell him soon,
hopefully before Sam changed Al's history. The one thing Sam didn't want
to do was to change his best friend's life for the worst.

The moment Al stepped out of the Imaging Chamber, he marched to the
peaceful quiet of Sam's office. He knew it was the only place he would
truly be able to be alone. No one else ever went there. Even he didn't
dare go into the scientist's office unless he really really wanted to be
alone. The office was often far too depressing. It was a reminder of how
long Sam had been away from his home in the future - far too long, in
Al's opinion.

He wanted Sam home. He wanted him to be sitting on the other side of the
desk, listening to him, drinking with him, and sobering him up the next
day if necessary. Somehow, Al felt he couldn't talk to Sam like he once
did across the wooden desk in this office. It just wasn't the same.

Al sat in the chair he had sat in so many times before and looked across
at the empty chair on the other side of the desk.

"You're right, kid," he told the chair, or rather to the presence he
still felt that sat in that chair. "I still love her. Now, what the hell
do I do about it?"

It was amazing how horribly love could hurt a regretful soul.