Beth was watching the TV when Al entered their quarters. He crept up 
behind her, giving her a tender kiss on her neck.
Beth jumped, "Oh Al you startled me, I didn't hear you come in."

He hugged her from behind, "A nice surprise though."

She turned in the chair to face him, "A lovely surprise." Her hands 
cupped his face, she smiled lovingly. They kissed, a loving kiss, 
passionate but not lustful. If Sam could see him now, he would know how 
much Al loved his wife. It showed in his face, in his eyes, in the 
tenderness of his touch. Yes, Al loved this woman deeply, above all 
others he loved her, forever and for always.

It didn't matter to Beth that Al was away for hours. She knew him, he 
would always be too restless for the pipe and slippers' routine. She 
loved him for all his faults, even the beastly cigars he smoked. She 
loved the way he made her shiver at the slightest touch, when he nibbled 
her ear, her neck and just for being close. She could believe in him, 
trust him with her heart, he would keep her secrets and her thoughts, 
make her laugh and wipe away the tears. Yes, he would always be there 
for her. She loved her man with a devotion no words could ever measure.

Al raised himself, Beth with him. Entwined, they slid to the floor, 
never taking their eyes from each other.

* * * * *
Rosie lay on her bed, she had already placed the things she would be 
needing in a satchel. A thick woolen jumper and a wind-breaker lay over 
the chair back, ready for the time when she'd be needing them. Anxiously 
she looked at the clock, still three hours before midnight and 
furthermore, one-an-a-half hours before she'd have to leave. She'd 
figured it would take her that amount of time to get to the Black Rock 
on foot. She didn't posses a car, didn't even have a driver's license, 
she never needed one before. In the city she used public transport, but 
out here she'd found things different. She hated this place, the 
isolation. She shuddered at the thought of the long cold walk that lay 
ahead of her, the howl of the coyote in the night. She'd heard them howl 
in the night before, but then she was safe inside. She looked out of the 
window, there was a full moon rising out of the desert hue, soon the 
coyote would be baying, to their moon. She pulled a pillow close around 
her neck and stared at the reflection of the clock in the moon. The 
reflection made her feel a little easier, by its time it was only ten to 
three, instead of the real time, ten past nine. Her eyes grew heavy as 
she stared, soon they were closed.

Rosie awoke with a start. She looked around her for a moment not knowing 
where she was, the moon cast strange shadows upon the walls. Then she 
saw the clock, it was nearly a quarter to eleven. Not stopping to wipe 
the sleepiness from her eyes she grabbed the jumper, coat and satchel. 
She pulled the jumper over her head, awkwardly she managed to get her 
arms through the sleeves. Running down the corridor she slipped on the 
wind-breaker dragging the satchel behind her.

She slid around the corner to the cafeteria nearly losing her footing. 
Sam heard her heavy footsteps as she headed for the entrance of the 
complex. Rosie never noticed that the cafeteria was lit. Sam stretched, 
watching through the window as she ran along the graveled car park to 
the end of the buildings. The satchel swinging behind her as she tried 
to fasten her coat against the cruel evening air.

"It's nearly time," Sam whispered into Bernie's ear, he eased his arm 
from beneath her head as she raised it slightly. He held his arm upward 
and shook it, it was numb from the way he'd been lying on the couch with 

"Sorry Sam, I was so cosy." Bernie said sleepily.

"Why don't you go to bed? It might be quite some time before I'm back." 
Sam twisted around placing his feet on the floor.

"Hmmm, I'm okay here, I can still feel you, feel your warmth. I don't 
want to lose this feeling." Bernie lay with her eyes closed but she was 
looking at him. "Do you have to go? I could hold you forever."

He leaned forward to slip his shoes on. She caught hold of one of Sam's 
arms and tugged him close, he slipped on the carpet and fell gently on 
top of her.

"Come here big boy, you're not going anywhere tonight." She wrapped her 
arms about him.

"Bernie, please. Rosie's on her way and Al will be here any minute." Sam 
tried to pull free, but Bernie's grip was tight.

Bernie started to giggle, "I'm not letting you go."

Sam relaxed a little, her arms pulled him closer, he was on his knees 
kissing her, caressing her. He scooped her into his arms and carried her 
out of the cafeteria. Down the corridor to her quarters, through the 
hall towards the bedroom. There he lay her on the bed, again she pulled 
him down. His kisses were full of passion and longing. He wanted to give 
in, to wrap himself into her beautiful body, to stay with her and revel 
in her perfume but the clock said no, his head said no, but his body 
said yes. Whichever were the strongest would win. He deliberated with 
his inner voice, time stands still for no man, except for Sam Beckett, 
time had lost. There was more time for moments like this, Bernie would 
wait, his body had lost. His head ruled.

He felt flushed and hot, he stood up and backed away, not trusting his 
body, "I have to go, Al's waiting. Rosie's out there, I've got find out 
what she's up to. Trust me Bernie, please trust me." Sam turned and left 
the room.

"I'll be waiting, I'll be here when you get back." Bernie shouted after 

Sam saw Al waiting as he closed Bernie's door. He almost skated as he 
hurried along the corridor in his stocking feet.

"I won't be long, I'll just get my coat."

"I'd put some shoes on too, if I were you."

Sam stopped and confronted Al. "They're in the cafeteria Al."

"Spreadin' yourself about a bit, nice touch." Al smirked, "I'd cool off 
with an ice-pack too Sam, if you go out there with a sweat like that, 
you'll be steaming in no time."

Sam headed down the corridor. "Quit the sarcasm Al, it doesn't suit the 
new you, I'm beginning to like the old Al better."

"Take your time pal, it's only five past eleven, plenty of time for a 
cold shower. Ha, ha"

Sam stopped dead and turned back and looked at Al with discord, "It's 
not like that," Sam smiled, "Well nearly." He turned back slowly, 
shaking his head and continued to his quarters.

Al stood whistling when Sam returned, as he approached Al held up Sam's 
shoes. "Didn't even have time to undo them either eh, pal." He waved the 
shoes in the air.

Sam snatched his shoes from Al's grasp and dropped them on the floor, "I 
never unfasten them, I'm usually too tired." Sam stepped into each shoe 
as he headed for the door. Al as usual in his wake.

The wind blew at Sam's coat as he struggled with the buttons, "It's 
gonna to be a cold one tonight." he remarked, shivering, pulling the 
collar up around his neck.

"Sure is, a full moon too." A coyote howled in the distance as if 
encouraged by Al's words.

Al unlocked the truck, the two men bundled themselves inside, their 
movements restricted by the weighty overcoats. The engine roared into 
life, rubber scuffed at the gravely ground as they sped in a westerly 
direction. The speed didn't last long. The road that was shown on the 
map was not a road at all but a rough mammal track. Potholes and rocks 
peppered the trail, making it impossible to get above five miles per 
hour. All turned out the lights, from now on they would dive by the 
light of the moon. There was no time for words, just the frequent 
'OUCHs' and 'AGHs' as each were a battered and pounded. By the time the 
track turned into a north-easterly direction, both men were sore and 
covered in bruises. Sam being the taller of the two, slouched in his 
seat, holding his hands over the top of his head, trying to prevent it 
thudding into the roof of the truck. Now and again, on particularly bad 
patches they were thrown into the sides of the truck, their thick coats 
preventing any real damage to their limbs. Once Sam hit his head so hard 
on the roof he was jolted forward, hitting his forehead and knees on the 
dashboard. Al's thighs and ribs felt like they were black and blue as he 
was jolted into the steering wheel. He could feel blisters bubbling up 
on his hands as he wrestled to keep control of the steering.

The Black Rock loomed ahead of them, about two-hundred-and-fifty yards 
in front. Al stopped the truck, exhausted. Both men turned to each other 
and let out deep sighs of relief.

Al pointed to the distance, "There she is." Rosie's was walking, her 
figure silhouetted against the bright moon in the night sky.

Further along the horizon Sam saw the silhouette of a light aircraft, 
"Look there Al," Sam pointed, "they're here already."

"How on earth," Al swallowed, "did they land that thing out here?"

"Come on Al, we've got to get to the rock before they do, we've got to 
find a vantage point."

The two men scrambled out of the truck, Al was limping.

"What's wrong Al?" Sam panted, the cold wind catching his breath.

"Oh I bashed my legs against the steering column a few times. They'll be 
okay when I've moved a while." Al too was breathing heavily. "You don't 
look too good yourself, you've got some blood on your head there pal."

"Oh I can't feel it, I'm hurting in too many places to feel one pain." 
Sam rubbed his arm, wincing as the pain became worse.

The two friends climbed the rock and Al beckoned to a hollow on the 
other side. "Let just hope that we can hear what they're sayin' from 
here." They crouched down in the hollow and waited, shivering.

As Rosie neared the rock, three men lowered themselves from the 
aircraft. A gust of wind blew a hat off the short, stumpy man's head and 
he chased after it.

Al couldn't suppress a comment, "Schmuck." He laughed.

"Shush, they'll hear us." Sam whispered.

"Nah, the wind's in the wrong direction, thankfully, to our advantage."

Rosie waited for the two men to join her, the other still chasing his 
hat. A large man stopped abruptly and stood still and silent a few yards 
from Rosie, the second, taller and very thin continued walking towards 

"What do you have for your dear old father?" Rosie handed him the 

"So that's Peter Saint-James." Sam turned to Al, "I can't remember him, 
should I know him?"

Saint-James took papers out from the satchel and tried looking at them 
in the moonlight.

"A bit before your time Sam, ha-ha, get it, time." Sam managed a 
snigger, "Phew pal, you were doin' your bit for humanity when he came on 
the scene. The other two must be his body guards."

"Hey bozo bring me that torch and quit chasin' that dammed hat, we'll be 
here all night at this rate." Saint-James squawked.

"I don't like him Al, he looks too wryly to me."

The short stumpy man stopped and lumbered reluctantly over to 
Saint-James, he opened his coat and pulled out a small torch, a flash of 
bright metal shone in the moonlight, revealing a harnessed revolver. He 
handed the small torch to Saint-James.

"Wow, if I'm not mistaken that's a Desert Eagle .50AE 6" titanium gold 
Magnum pistol, blow a man's head off at 650 feet"

"Must be good then." Sam stated uninterested, he was only interested in 
what Rosie was handing over. Now and again Sam noticed that the large 
man's hands would twitch, was he concealing a firearm too.

"Good! It's the best damned firearm Magnum ever made this millennium."

"Is this all you have for me?" Saint-James asked Rosie.

"Yeah and we're only eight years into this millennium, now shush Al. We 
might miss something." Sam listened intently.

"That and the fact that Austin Bebrooks visited here a couple of days 
ago." Rosie looked a little worried that her information wasn't of any 

"Bebrooks eh," Saint-James was thoughtful. "I wandered who'd took it 
over since the government dumped it. Must be some feasibility in this 
project after all. Dreasney was a hard nut to crack at the best of 
times, didn't get much from her, and Yen Hsuieh-lung shut up like a clam 
when he was arrested. She'd be kickin' herself right now if she knew 
about this. What have you found out about Beckett? Have you managed to 
allure him with your charms yet?"

"I don't seem to be able to get close to him, he's taken to this English 
tart, she's getting in the way."

"Well somethin' will have to be done about her, we can't have her 
standin' in the way of true love. What's her name?"

"Bernadette, Bernie for short."

"Her surname, are you stupid or somethin'?"

"Erm, Davis I think, I'm not sure though, I don't know if that's her 
married name or her maiden name, I'd have to get back to you on it, to 
be really sure I mean."

"Good girl, now you're thinking sensibly, and remember whenever you 
phone me go through the operator, that way the call can't be directly 
traced, that super-computer of Beckett's can do almost anything I hear. 
Have you seen it yet?"

"No, I'm not allowed down there, Ziggy controls who uses the elevator, 
and I'm not on her list."

"Who's Ziggy?"

"The computer."

"The computer has a name? And it's a She!"

"Everyone refers to the computer as a she, her name's Ziggy."

"Right you get back to me tomorrow with this floozies name, I'll arrange 
for her to disappear and then the way will be open for you. I'm relying 
on you my sweet, be the fly in the ointment for me, see all, hear all 
and say nothing. I'll take care of Bebrooks, anyone can be bought, if 
the price is right. I've got too much at stake here to lose it now." 
Saint-James kissed Rosie's cheek. "Take care go straight back, don't 
speak to anyone about this meeting, and remember you have nothing to 
lose and everything to gain, but only if you get it right."

"I know father, I'll get it right, you can count on me." She smiled at 
Saint-James but the affection was not returned.

Saint-James returned to the plane, followed by his two body guards. 
Rosie stood and watched as the plane turned, taxied and took off. Its 
little lights flashed in the in the distant sky and soon disappeared. 
She suddenly shivered in the cold air and tugged at the wind-breaker 
around her neck. Again she looked to where the small plane had 
disappeared into the night, she turned and headed back to the complex, 
longing for the warmth of its interior.

As soon as Rosie was far enough away the two friends headed back to the 
truck and sat inside. They sat awhile with the engine running, warming 
up from the icy desert wind.

"What are you waiting for Al?" Sam questioned.

"If you think I'm going back the same way we came, you're very much 
mistaken." Al rubbed warmth back into his hands. "I've got enough 
bruises here to last me seven more lifetimes."

"I know how you're feeling, I don't know which inch of skin doesn't 

They waited another half-an-hour, to make sure they didn't run into 
Rosie on the way. The journey back wasn't half as rough as it had been 
on their way out, but even so bruises were added to bruises. Never had 
the two friend welcomed such a sight as the dilapidated tin roofed 
building, the graveled car park was a pleasure to drive on after the 
rugged terrain of the desert. Both were weary and disheveled from their 
recent escapade. The cold no longer a factor in their suffering. As they 
entered the complex, they both collapsed on the floor in a rumpled heap.