Rosie sat by the stump of a hollow tree, not daring to move. She was 
blue and her teeth chattered with the cold. She had seen Sam and Al 
return in the truck, as they approached she'd hidden behind the stump. 
The two men, she thought had returned from a night out on the town. 
They'd appeared drunk as they laughed and staggered into the building. 
She waited for the lights to go out in the cafeteria. She'd been there 
over an hour already. 'What were they doing in there?' she thought, 
'sobering up more than likely. Did it take this long to drink coffee and 
sober up?' She didn't know, she'd never been that dunk in her life, she 
couldn't afford it for one, and second, she didn't have that many 
She was finding it hard to breathe, she could feel the vapor from her 
breath freezing around her mouth and nose. Her mind started to numb from 
the unyielding cold, she was trying to remember things, trying to 
remember the night's out with Jessie but she couldn't summon the 

She rubbed her legs, trying and bring back the circulation, but they 
were as numb as her mind. 'C'mon Beckett, aren't you sleepy? You'll be 
sorry when you find me out here in the mornin', dead.' Rosie was 
thinking out loud, her memory as foggy as the breath around her. She 
heard laughter from within the cafeteria, women's laughter, 'this could 
be a long night,' she thought, 'a very long night indeed.'

* * * * *
Al sat drinking hot, steaming coffee, his bandaged hands not feeling the 
heat from the mug.

"How are you feeling now Al?" Beth tenderly stroked near a bruise on 
Al's cheek.

"Warmer, a whole lot warmer. Ah this is good, warming," Al sipped the 
coffee, "be better with a tot in here though."

"Now you know there isn't any alcohol around here."

Al looked over to Sam and winked, Sam flinched faintly and looked away. 
Sam knew that Al was referring to his secret supply in his office. Not 
much left in the bottle since the celebration of Ziggy's birth. It 
should be well matured by now, if it hadn't evaporated over time.

"Now, are you guys gonna tell what happen to you?" Beth looked over to 

"Yeah, how many of them were they?" Bernie looked to Sam and Al.

Sam looked surprised, "Well.... erm," he cocked his head in Al's 
direction, "you tell em Al, my head's still a little foggy." He waited 
for a response from Al.

"There was three," Al responded, then added quickly, "but they didn't 
have anything to do with this." He motioned to his ribs. "I mean, we 
only observed and listened."

"What Al's trying to say, is that, erm, we didn't get into a 
confrontation with anyone. We got most of this in the truck. It was a 
pretty rough trek through that region."

"Hell of a trek, we were jolted about a bit, quite a bit, a lot of a 
bit. That reminds me, the truck will definitely needs an overhaul after 
that." Al said awkwardly, trying to change the mode of the conversation

"You mean you got all this before you even got to Black Rock?" Bernie 
was both mystified and amazed at what she was hearing.

"Well most of it, erm." Al looked about for his cigar, trying to avoid 
the scrutinising eyes of his wife.

"Then why didn't you stop?" Beth's eyes narrowed.

"Now why didn't we think of that, Al? Sam glanced at Al wide eyed.

"Must have been the knocks to the head." Al pulled the blanket tighter. 
"And beside if we'd stopped the truck would've gotten beached in the 
potholes. Pretty big ones they were, big as craters, some of em."

"Crazy, that's all I can say. Both of you, crazy." Beth shook her head.

Sam looked at Al, Al looked at Sam, they both shrugged their shoulders 
at each other.

"Well, what did you find out?" Bernie questioned.

"That's a good question," Sam pursed his lips and continued. "Peter 
Saint-James is a tall, skinny guy, Rosie called him father and....."

"No silly, I meant...." Bernie saw the grin on Sam's face. "You're 
kiddin' me aren't you?" She poked Sam in the leg, forgetfully.

"Ouch, that hurt! I'm gonna get you back for that," Sam leaned forward 
and grabbed her arms, pulling her closer, he whispered, "later." as he 
kissed her.

"Nah, be serious now Sam." Sam wasn't listening, Al repeated, "Sam.... 

Sam leaned back in the couch, smiling, "I am being serious."

"He was pretty interested in Bebrooks."

"Oh, you were listening then Al, and all the time, all I thought you 
were interested in was that gun. What was it again Al, a cobra?"

"Nah, that's a snake Sam, this was a Desert Eagle .50AE 
6" titanium gold Magnum, best damned gun Magnum ever made."

"Yeah Al, heard all that already."

"Rosie's supposed to make a play for Sam."

"Sam, why Sam?" Bernie asked.

"Sam's the brains behind the project, she's got woo him to get the 
information." Al explained.

"She's not very successful though is she Al?" Sam smiled, "I mean she's 
the rudest person I've met in a long time. If she is making a play, 
she's going the wrong way about it."

"That's 'cos she doesn't know how to handle you Bernie," Al fumbled 
about in his coat looking for a cigar and found one.

"Go on Al, light it, you deserve it after tonight."

"Aw thanks Sam," Al fumbled around in his coat once more, "I don't 
believe it, I've gotten so used to it, my lighter's in the bedroom." He 
twisted the cigar around in his fingers, annoyed at himself for the lost 
opportunity. "Where was I? Oh yes, you Bernie, she doesn't know how to 
handle you, she thinks you're in the way of her plans. Now this is the 
tricky part, Saint-James is planning to make a move on Bebrooks. What 
was it he said Sam? My head's a little fuzzy."

"He's gonna take care of Bebrooks, he said, 'anyone can be bought, if 
the price is right.' " Sam turned to Bernie, "And, Rosie's gonna be 
askin' you for your surname too, she knows it's Davis but she wants your 
maiden name too. Saint-James is gonna arrange for you to disappear and 
that will clear the way for Rosie."

"What have I got to do with any of this?" The alarm in her voice clearly 

"Don't be concerned," Sam touched her arm, "we're going out with the 
plane tomorrow, your not gonna disappear, not without me anyway." He 
bought her hand up to his lips, gently kissing it. "I won't let anything 
happen to you, I couldn't live with myself if I lost you now."

She looked into his eyes and saw the sincerity in them, she believed 
Sam, she knew then that she could trust him.

"And that's it." Al slapped his thighs, forgetfully, "Geeze, I shouldn't 
have done that, Christ." He squirmed in agony.

"There's some analgesia in the bag." Beth rummaged through the medical 
bag and handed some capsules to Sam and Al. "We should get some sleep 
now, there's a lot to prepare for tomorrow. It's almost five already, 
come on, get to your rooms."

Al poured cold coffee into his mug and swallowed the capsules. "Bah, I 
hate the coating on those things, too sweet."

Bernie helped Sam get to his feet, he swayed as he stood.

"Are you okay?" Bernie asked concerned.

"Yeah," Sam blinked a couple of times, "I must have stood to quickly, 
I'll be fine in a minute." He swallowed the capsules with the remainder 
of the cold coffee from his mug. "I'm okay, I'll be better when I've 
slept, I think."

Taking note of Sam's dizziness, Al stood up slowly, his hand grasping at 
his ribs, "Are you sure this bandage is not too tight? It's pinching."

"That'll be the adhesive pulling on your skin Al," Beth reassured.

"Adhesive, you mean you've stuck it on! What about when it's time to 
take it off? That's gonna be pure hell."

Beth picked up the razor and waved it, "No it won't, I shaved you 
first." Beth couldn't hide a chuckle at Al's expression. "It'll grow 

The four left the cafeteria, turning into the corridor that led to their 
quarters. Al and Beth continued down the passage.

Sam stopped and turned to Bernie. "I'll be okay from here, you go to 
your rooms, you must be exhausted."

"You must be joking, I want to see you safely tucked up in that bed of 
yours." She half dragged Sam the rest of the way down the corridor, 
turning left into the passage that led to Sam's office and quarters.

Halfway down the passage Sam stopped again, "I love you, you know that, 
I don't want anything to hurt you." He turned holding her in his arms. 
The blanket fell from Sam's shoulders, she caressed his chest and kissed 
his neck and leaned back against the wall, the weight of Sam's body 
pressing her to it, crushing her. He lifted her up pressing her hard 
against the wall, she wrapped her legs around his thighs. She could feel 
his breath against her neck. She wasn't frightened, this was different, 
this was Sam.

Both were breathing heavily as he carried her the rest of the way, he 
kicked open the door and headed straight for the bedroom. He lay her 
down their bodies never separating. Soon they were naked, flesh on 
flesh, entwined in passion.