CHAPTER 9 Sam was awakened by banging, he raised his head from the pillow, "Is that you Al?" he shouted. "Yeah, it's me." "Come in, it's not locked." Al walked into the small bedroom, "Just callin' to give you a shout, it's 2:30, wanderin' if you were in here seein' as though you weren't in your lab." "Oh I needed that, I haven't slept that well in years." "Are you okay?" Yeah sure Al, why are you askin'? "Ah just worried 'bout you, yer know, yer decision, you okay with that?" "Al I'm okay, really. A new day, well perhaps not a new day, but a new life, a new chance." Sam went into the bathroom. Al could hear running water, when he emerged Sam had changed from the Fermi-suit, into a pale blue shirt and darker blue trousers. Sam took a comb out of a drawer and stood in front of the mirror, "Hey Al look, it's me in there, it's really me." "About time you shaved off that stubble, thought yer was growin' a beard." Al looked at Sam's reflection in the mirror, Sam was smiling, he saw a sparkle in his eyes, a brilliance he'd not seen for a very long time. Sam started singing, Al recalled the tune, it was one of Sinatra's, but when Sam sang it, it sounded different some how, perhaps it was his unique voice. "When somebody loves you It's no good unless she loves you - all the way Happy to be near you When you need someone to cheer you - all the way Taller than the tallest tree is That's how it's got to feel Deeper than the deep blue see is That's how deep it goes - if its real" Al sat on the bed listening, Sam looked so good, so happy. "When somebody needs you It's no good unless she needs you - all the way Through the good or lean years And for all the in between years - come what may Who know where the road will lead us Only a fool would say But if you'll let me love you It's for sure I'm gonna love you - all the way, all the way." Sam turned to Al, "Will I do? Do I look presentable?" "You'll knock her dead kiddo. Here catch." Al threw Sam his car keys, "You might need these." "Thanks Al, I owe you one." Sam slapped Al on the shoulders, "Come on pal, I've got some courting to do." Al stood and followed his friend down the corridor towards the cafeteria, he was so happy for Sam, he knew Sam had made the right decision. * * * * * Bernie was just finishing up in the kitchen, when she heard Sam and Al talking outside, she hurried drying her hands. She grabbed her coat as she excitedly ran out into the cafeteria, suddenly embarrassed, she slowed to a steady pace when she saw Sam. Al nudged Sam, and he turned to face her, she slowly walked up to him. "My don't you scrub up well Sam Beckett." "You don't look so bad yourself Bernie." Sam looked into her dark eyes, her dark mysterious eyes. Al and his surroundings evaporated into a distant haze, she was here, that was all that mattered to Sam, this moment in time. Al felt self-conscious, "Erm, I'll see you later Sam." Al's voice bought Sam partly back to earth, "Oh sorry Al, see you later." Still his eyes did not stray from hers. "Okay pal, have a good time." Al sneaked a peek at the two of them. Sam did not notice, "Yeah, sure." Al was sure that Sam was away on some far distant planet, "Don't have a bumpy landing." Al waved a hand in dismissal, "Shish." He left the two of them together. After what seemed like an age Sam broke the silence, "Where would you like to go?" then added, "or do, there's Santa Fe, Las Alamos, Taos or ..." "Anywhere Sam, as long as it's away from here." Sam led her outside and they headed for Al's car "Okay, Santa Fe it is, I've heard there's plenty of entertainment there. Theatres, crafts, restaurants. Whatever you like." Sam opened the door for her and she climbed inside, he held her hand, lingering longer than was necessary, as he helped her into the car. Al watched from a window and waited while they drove off. He smiled to himself, then went to find Sammi Jo, he had some news for her. Sammi Jo was in the Control Room, she took after Sam for his dedication, they were so much alike. "Hey you're here, I've just seen Sam off on his date with Bernie," Al walked over to Sammi Jo's and stood by her side. Sammi Jo turned, "That's good, it's about time he had some fun, she's nice, I like Bernie." "Sam's made a decision, I think it's the right one, mind you knowing Sam, he might change his mind later if things don't workout, with Bernie." "What decision Al?" "He's decided to leave his past as it is, 'no regrets' he said, he heard us talking when we were in the Control Room, when he was in the Imaging Chamber, he heard us talking about Matt and Leone." "What did he say?" "Oh not much, just that he wanted to get on with his life and not live in his past, he said that you were right, he couldn't save one and not another." "Oh Al, I feel so selfish, he's given Donna up, just for me. I'll have a talk to him when he gets back." "No Sammi, leave it, you're not being selfish, he was and I think he's realised that now. Using his words, 'what is done is done, no more regrets'." "But I can't just let him throw it all away, not just for me." "Sammi leave it, he's not throwing anything away, don't bring it up again, you'll only be opening up his old wounds." Al's tone was stern. "If he finds happiness, let him get on with it." Al turned and headed for the door, he turned back to Sammi Jo, "Promise." "Promise." She repeated. He left the Control Room striding through the corridors. He waited for the lift, while he waited he found himself whistling the tune that Sam had been singing earlier. The lift arrived, a shapely blonde came out of the lift, he watched her as she walked, smiling at her little 'wiggle'. The doors started to close and he just managed to jump in before the doors closed. He was still whistling as he ambled along the final corridor to his quarters. As usual Beth was there waiting for him, she sat in an armchair by the window. Al moved behind her, bent over and gave her a big hug. "I'm so happy for Sam, I don't envy his first date though, starting again from scratch, I hate it, the first few times when you don't know what to say, or do. It's so much easier when you know someone. It's gonna be hard for him, he's no socialite, he's no good with relationships. I just hope things go easy for him." "He'll work it out Al, Bernie's a nice girl, she's had problems in her past too, I think she knows our Sam better that you think she does, you see, things will be just fine." Al's thoughts turned to Beth, 'If Beth says something is gonna be fine then they usually are.' Al bent lower and kissed Beth's cheek. "As you say honey, it'll work out, just fine." Al kissed her neck playfully. * * * * * They arrived in Santa Fe, Sam parked the car and turned to Bernie, "Is it gonna be a craft fair or a museum?" "Can we just walk and see the sights? We could go to a museum later, when it cools, it's such a beautiful day." They strolled along the dusty streets, bought ice-cream from Schwan's Ice Cream parlour, laughed as it melted far too quickly and ran down Bernie's arm. Sam acquired a flower from a local peddler and placed it in her hair. They laughed and ran through the streets like a couple of teenagers. They sat in the park and ate sandwiches from Mucho A Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe. Sam pointed out a poster for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, scheduled for 9 days at the beginning of October, and he spent some time explaining the theory of hot air balloon flight. As the day progressed the air turned cooler and they ventured inside Arch Diocese Museum. There they studied the relics of the ancient American Indians, laughing and shushing each other as they made their way round the ancient building. When they left the museum they discovered the air very chilly and found Ore House a restaurant on the plaza. It was warm and comfortable inside, the decor was plush and luxurious, quite different to the cafeteria back at the project compound. It was 11:30 when they made a move for the return journey, Bernie was quiet, she rested her head on Sam shoulder as he drove them back into the desert. She was happy, so was Sam, it had been a perfect day. It was mid September, already the evening air of the desert was near-freezing, Bernie was pleased that she'd remembered her coat. As Sam helped her out of the car, the night air hit her and she shivered. Sam noticed and encircled his arm about her shoulders, she felt his warmth and lay her head on his chest. His hand gently touched her and she faced him, she shivered again, but this time, not from the cold. Sam's closeness made her tremble with excitement, he drew her closer and held her near. She looked into his eyes, their lips met, their first kiss, long and lingering, passionate but gentle. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her cheek, deeply he breathed, she felt his body tense as he held her tighter, their lips parted. Sam held her tight, he didn't want to let go, again he looked into her dark, mystical eyes and was lost. He wanted to hold her forever, never let her go, but she was shivering in the cold evening wind. He scooped her up into his arms and carried her inside, to the warmth, there he paused, their lips met again. He felt a surge of desire run through his veins, a feeling he'd never felt before, it made his muscles taut, grasping her even closer. She sighed as he released his embrace, they both breathed heavily, looking, wanting. He set her down and swallowed hard. "I think we should say out good-bye's now, its late." Sam kissed her brow. "Will I see you again?" She looked down at the floor. "Yeah sure you will, tomorrow, here." "I don't mean as colleagues." "Neither do I, Bernie I want to see you again, I want us to do things together, but also to keep thinks simple to start with. I'm not used to this dating thing, I admire and respect you, I don't want to spoil it. Sometimes I get things so wrong, I want you to understand." "I do understand that Sam, it's just that I feel so insecure, after...." "I know, please trust me Bernie, I don't want to hurt you, that's the last thing on my mind." He reached out and held her again holding her head close to his chest. She could hear his heart beating, "Goodnight Sam." "Sweet dreams Bernie." He kissed the top of her head, "see you tomorrow." Sam watched as she walked down the corridor, she paused a few times and looked back, smiling. He waited until she'd entered her quarters before heading to his own. He was happy, he hummed a tune in his head and almost skipped down the hallway. 'I will have good dreams tonight,' he thought.