Sam watched as the two detectives helped Doctor Conroy move
the sedated, weeping Amy to his office at the end of the hall.

 ``Thanks for the help,'' Joanna said, coming up to Sam. ``I don't
know where you got your training, but you handled that just like
a pro, Tommie.''

 `` a lot of medical shows on television,'' Sam said the first
thing that came to mind.  ``What happened?'' he asked, nodding
toward the back of the hall.

 ``Her daughter, Sharon, was found dead in her home about an hour
or so ago,'' Joanna said, confirming what Sam already knew.  ``She
was Amy's only child.'' Her eyes softened in sympathy as they
strayed to the doctor's office door. ``Poor thing. Vinnie, her husband
died not quite a year ago, and now this.''  She shivered, then said in
a low whisper, ``I heard one of the detectives tell her that they found
a rose on her body.''

She shivered again, wrapping her arms around herself tightly.
``He's back.''

 ``What do you mean?'' Sam asked. ``Who's back?''

 ``The first one happened on November 2, 1985,'' Joanna said.
``My birthday.''

 ``What happened?''

 ``The first of what the police called ``The White Rose'' murders,''
Joanna replied.  ``Then somebody with a sick sense of humor
started calling them the ``Rose-Nose'' murders because in addition
to leaving a rose, the bastard  also cut off each victim's nose.''
Shaking her head as if to dispel the gruesome path her mind was
turning to, she met Sam's eyes and put a hand on his arm.

 ``You be careful, Tommie.''  She waited just long enough to see
Sam nod then turned toward the front of the office.  Almost as
an afterthought she said, ``I'll call you a cab.''

Turning so his back was to Joanna as she dialed the phone, Sam
said softly, ``Have Ziggy research Derek's family.  I want to know
every about him from what time he was born to the day he dies.
And dig into my..Tommie's background, too.''

``You got it,'' Al said as he swiftly punched in the request on the
handlink.  ``I'll also have Gooshie cross reference every one of the
``White Rose'' murders with Tommie and Derek's lives.''  He glanced
up to find his friend looking at him. ``What?''  He lowered the handlink.
``What, Sam?''  The clouded expression on the face he knew almost as
well as his own began to bother him as Sam just continued to look at
him.  ``Talk to me!'' he ordered sharply.

``I'm afraid, Al.''  The words were low but clear.  ``I really don't see
how I'm going to pull this one off.''  Sam stared into the dark eyes
he'd looked to so often for guidance and reassurance.  Now he again
searched the depths of those eyes for reassurance, for the even level
gaze that would tell him that the Observer knew, without knowing
how,  that even though this leap had started off horribly,  that he
would succeed and put right whatever had originally gone wrong.
``I don't think I can do this.''

``Now this is a first,'' Al said, biting the words off as he threw his
cigar down, the Chivello disappearing as it lost contact with his hand.
Ignoring the startled look on Sam's face he pushed his face as close
to Sam's as he could without ``melting'' into him.  ``The world's most
stubborn genius and oldest Boy Scout giving up just because he had
a rough start to this leap.  Get a grip, Sam!''

Sam, rocked at the vehemence of the Observer's apparent lack of
concern, hissed defensively, ``You try opening your eyes in a strange
situation, be nearly beaten to death and almost raped, and see how
you react!''

Al understood all too well.  ``My first three days after being captured
by the Viet Cong,'' he snapped.

The ugly memories he'd buried what seemed centuries ago, slipped
back into Al's mind as easily as putrid quicksilver.  He remembered
the intimidation, the humilitation and how easy it would have been to
give up.  Even twenty-eight years after the fact, standing in the
Chamber Al felt the faded scars on his back tingle as he felt again the
beatings when he hadn't surrendered his will to that of his captors.

``I know what it feels like to be punched and kicked and beaten until I
was a bloody pulp,'' he said with a passionate intensity he rarely
even those closest to him to see.  ``And there wasn't any ``nearly'' for
When I didn't break, those bastards raped me every day in those three

But the memories also brought with them the survival training and other
things that had gotten the young Naval pilot through that and all the
that followed.  ``I couldn't.. didn't let `em know I was afraid,'' Al went
his tone a bit calmer but no less intense as he used his voice to force
friend to hold his gaze.  ``And you can't let Derek see in you either,
Because when he sees that you...that Tommie has given up, he'll have
won.''  He paused.  ``And when that happens, when any bastard like that
wins, you're the one who pays.... usually with your life.''

The expression on Sam's face took the some of the heat out of Al's
words.  ``You'll do it, Sam,'' he said with quiet force.  ``You wouldn't
have been brought here if ....Somebody didn't think you could pull it
And with me watching your back, the odds are even more in your favor.''

``Your cab's here,'' Joanna interrupted the harsh pep talk she didn't
know was going on. ``You okay, Tommie?'' she asked. ``You look.. I
dunno know..a little flushed.  You feel alright?''

Before Sam could respond, the handlink squealed, and he could only
wonder as he watched Al read the information being transmitted then
immediately order, ``Center me on him, Gooshie!'', and pop out.  He
jumped when Joanna touched his arm.

``Tommie, take it easy.  It's just me.  Are you sure you're okay?''
Joanna asked, slipping an arm around Sam's shoulder.  ``Do you want
me to drive you home?''

``I..I'm not....''

``You're not thinking of going to work are you?  Tommie, you can't...''

``No, I'm not going into work,'' Sam answered.  `` just startled me.''

Sam made the appropriate responses as Joanna walked him out to the
cab.  After closing the door, she had bent down to look at him and said,

``Call me if you need me, honey.  Remember,'' she reached in to put a
hand on Sam's arm, ``I've got that extra room if you need a place to

``Thanks,'' he said with as much of a smile as he could muster, then
back against the seat as the cab began to move.