"Basis of Control" pt. X

October, 1999
Stallions Gate, NM

  After a moment, the real truth behind what Al had first taken as a threat
presented itself in Al's mind. "You want to die," he stated. The stranger just
stared. "Before or after you kill me?" he added sarcastically.
  "Shut up!" he screeched, swinging again before Al could even figure out how
to get around it. This time, he aimed low (if he was even coherent enough to
aim) and Al heard the unmistakable crunch of bone as it connected with his
right leg.
  Al didn't even care. Adrenaline was now pumping so hard he could hardly feel
the pain. "You owe me an explanation," he commanded in cold tones. "Why you
terrorized my family, why you sent me those messages."
  "I know all about you," the man said, pacing a semi-circle around Al. Al
kept his eyes trained on the weapon. As long as the stranger managed to
maintain distance, Al didn't have a prayer. "I know about what you and Sam
Beckett do. But he's already paying for his transgressions, isn't he? He's
trapped in time! But you - what's your excuse for taking part in this?"
  "Who are you?" Al demanded, his eyes clearly transmitting the words, *I
don't owe you anything!*
  "My name is David Tucker and because of something you did, my two daughters
died."
  "Oh, God." The exclamation slipped out before Al could stop it, as
realization hit. 
  "Dr. Beckett saved the life of a mechanic and, because of him, the brakes
gave out while-" Dave choked back a sob and Al swallowed the bile that rose in
his throat.
  "You have no right to judge. How do you know they didn't die in the other
history, too?"
  Dave lifted the pole again, tears now flowing freely down his face. "Doesn't
matter," he muttered.
  Al's fury hadn't abated at all, but the sudden cry for survival overrode his
urge to attempt to kill Dave where he stood. Instead, he seized on the first
idea his already cloudy brain provided him with. He straightened, still
clutching at the mirror to keep standing. "Maybe they died because you
deserved it," he said coldly.
  Hot rage flashed in his assailant's eyes and he swung at Al's head, but Al
ducked and rolled on the hard pavement. Instead, the pole crashed through the
car window and the blaring sound of a car alarm echoed under the low ceiling
of the parking garage. Sweating with the exertion, Al tried to struggle back
to his feet but, without the car as his crutch, his leg buckled under him and
he fell back to the ground, an involuntary cry of pain ripped from his throat.
  "You had no right," Dave cried. "You can't understand. I told Jonathan you
could never understand - never! Not until it happened to you."
  That renewed Al's resolve and he launched himself from his good leg, landing
with his full weight against Dave. The two crashed into a support column and
Al dealt him two solid blows in the face, anger now the only thing propelling
him forward. Dave shook himself free and, without support, Al found himself
back on the ground. Dave lifted the pole, but Al grabbed one end, preventing
him from using it as a weapon anymore. Instead of surrendering it when it was
clear Al was in no position to use it himself, he fought, clinging to it with
all his might. Just as he jerked it 
free of Al's grasp, something smashed into him from the left and the pole
clattered far out of reach.
  The newcomer clambered to his feet and Dave was up right after him.
  "Jonathan," Dave snarled. "I'll be dead in a few minutes, so we may as well
have this out right now. You betrayed me and traitors are the worst things
people can be."
  "I couldn't let you kill his daughters, Dave. I couldn't." Jonathan sounded
almost apologetic. "Why don't you stop this and we'll see if we can't get you
some help?"
  "Look out!" Al cried as Dave reached inside his jacket. Al kicked out with
his left leg and hooked Dave's ankle, pushing the man off balance just as he
pulled out the gun. Jonathan, who would surely have been shot, ducked as the
shot went wild. Dave regained his stance in seconds and, without hesitation,
turned the gun on himself.
  "No!" Jonathan yelled and lunged for the weapon. It went off a second time,
this time firing harmlessly at the ceiling. While the two struggled, Al made
his way back to the destroyed car and, reaching in, pulled out the first
object his hand met with. Grunting with the effort, he flung it with all the
force he had left and watched with no small degree of satisfaction as it
connected with Dave's skull. The gun skittered across the uneven pavement and
Jonathan took advantage of Dave's unsteadiness to intertwine his fingers and
use his arms as a club to - finally - knock Dave into unconsciousness.
  Al let out a long breath and sagged against the hood, watching as Jonathan
stood, panting, over the motionless body of David Tucker. "Hey," he said and
Jonathan turned in his direction. Al managed a weak smile. "Thanks."
  Jonathan seemed to come out of his trance and he looked towards Al. "Are you
okay?" he asked, frowning as Al lowered himself the rest of the way to the
ground.
  "I think your friend there broke my leg."
  "He's my brother," Jonathan corrected, moving to crouch beside Al.
  Al shook his head. "What are you, a Boy Scout or somethin'? You could have
gotten yourself hurt, kid."
  "So could you," he pointed out, standing and holding out a hand to help pull
Al back to his feet.
  "Sure," Al conceded heavily as he put his arm around Jonathan's shoulders,
seeking stable support. "But I'm still under warranty."
  Jonathan groaned in frustration. "Geez, Al, do you have to make jokes? You
_never_ take anything-" He stopped abruptly.
  Al froze and pulled back minutely to look Jonathan in the eyes. "Sam?" he
hazarded. "Oh, Sam, is it really you?"
  Sam tried to reply, but found he couldn't. Instead, he just nodded, his eyes
glistening. Al moved forward and winced. He muttered a curse softly under his
breath. Sam took a shaky breath and gripped Al's arm, only partly to assist
his friend. "Al..." He swallowed. "We've got to get you inside. Can you walk?"
  Al tried to look affronted, but then just leaned against Sam's shoulder. He
was certain that wasn't what Sam wanted to say. "I don't think so." He
grimaced. "Shut up that stupid alarm, willya?"
  Sam left Al leaning against the car again and reached into the vehicle.
Seconds later, it faded into silence. "Okay, let's-"
  "Sam." Al's voice was very quiet and Sam looked away. He knew what was
coming. He opened the door to the passenger's side, brushed shards of glass
off the seat, and helped Al maneuver into 
it. "Sam," Al repeated when he was situated, "look at me." Sam complied
reluctantly. "What are you here for? What happened in the original history?"
  "Al, I don't think-"
  "Please, Sam."
  Sam turned away and ran a hand across his face. "Originally, Dave rigged
Beth's car so that the brakes gave out," he said in flat tones. "Marina was
killed and Julia ended up in ICU. They didn't count her chances as being so
good, from what you told me."
  Al stared at Jonathan's brother. "I'll kill him," he murmured, struggling to
rise from the seat. "Dammit, Sam, where's that gun? I'll kill him!"
  "Al!" Sam pushed him back easily. "Stop! It's over, Al."
  Al leaned forward and buried his face in his hands; Sam stood silently
beside him. "But I lived," he muttered bitterly.
  "Originally, you weren't even attacked," Sam said after a moment. "But when
I saved Marina and Julia, history changed and Verbena showed up as my observer
and said you were in the hospital with wounds-" he gestured to Al's leg
"-worse than this. She said you'd be in for at least a month. And...she said
there was some permanent damage."
  Al looked up at his friend. "Thank you, Sam. I owe you more than I could
ever- I owe you my life."
  "Just returning the favor." He smiled. "And, according to Ziggy's
statistics, we're still not even."
  "Sam...this isn't my life we're talking about here, or even Beth's. There
are my kids' lives. Whatever you felt you owed me before...you don't anymore."
  Sam was silent, but Al reached out and grabbed his arm and smiled at the
action. "What?" Al prompted at Sam's expression.
  "Oh, nothing. It just...seems so long since you've had anything to smile
about."
  Al stared intensely at him and then turned away, his eyes  resting instead
on Dave. "What do we do with him?"
  Sam leaned over him and took his pulse. "Seems steady. I don't want to leave
him here - he could come around at any moment." He glanced back toward Al.
"Give me the keys to the car and I'll drive you both back to the main
entrance."
  "Sam," Al laughed, "this isn't my car! I wonder whose it is, though."
  "It's not?" Sam grinned in spite of himself. "Okay, well...I'll hot wire
it."
  Al shook his head. "That does it. I definitely have to beef up security."
  Sam dragged Dave into the back seat and climbed into the driver's seat. 
  "When are you gonna tell me the whole story, Sam?" Al asked quietly,
grunting as he repositioned his leg.
  Sam reached down and fiddled with wires Al couldn't see until the car roared
to life. "I'm not."
  Al paused. "_He's_ not here, is he?"
  "No. Very briefly a few minutes back, but not now. I think you're - he's
just worn out."
  "Oh."
  "He said he'd be back later." Sam started to honk the horn as he pulled
around towards the main entrance.
  "If you have a later," Al muttered solemnly.
  "We still have to decide what to do with Dave," Sam pointed out, putting the
car into park and turning it off. "The guy needs a lot of help."
  "No kidding," Al said angrily, pushing open the car door as Lieutenant
Collins exited the building. "You know what I think we should do to him."
  "Admiral," Collins was saying as he neared Al's position. He eyed the figure
in back, still slumped over onto the seat. "What happened?"
  "Long story. Help me inside, would you?" He motioned to Dave. "And get him
under armed guard."
  "Aye, sir."
  Collins supported Al from one side and Sam from the other as they walked him
just inside the lobby area and eased him down onto a chair. Al flinched when
his foot touched the floor.
  "Get my wife, Lieutenant," he said roughly. "This is really starting to
hurt, Sam," he added quietly as Collins left to carry out the rest of his
orders.
  "I'll go to the infirmary and get you something," Sam hissed back.
  "No. Sam!" Al called as Sam started to walk away. "You're  Jonathan,
remember? That's not gonna work." He gritted his  teeth. "I'll just wait for
Beth to get down here."
  Sam knelt by the chair. "Just breathe. You'll be fine." He reached out to
check Al's pulse. "It's just the adrenaline wearing off."
  "Swell." Al pulled off his jacket. "Will you stop with the pulse? I'm fine,
Sam."
  "Al?!" Beth emerged suddenly from the elevator and gasped slightly. "Are you
all right? What happened?" She ran to him and he grabbed her hand.
  "Beth...it's over."
  She fell to her knees in front of Al, tears shining in her eyes, and hugged
him. "Thank God," she whispered. She leaned back on her heels and cast a look
at Sam.
  Al smiled slightly. "I'll tell you the whole story later but...Beth...do you
know who he is?"
  She shook hear head mutely, but she was looking curiously at him.
  Sam looked back at her. "It's me, Beth. It's Sam."
  She broke into a warm smile and pulled him into a hug. "Sam, it's so good to
see you. Well," she added, blushing slightly, "you know what I mean."
  Al touched her shoulder. "He saved our daughters, honey."
  She glanced uncertainly at Al, then Sam again. She didn't say a word, but
her eyes held all the gratitude that language couldn't express. Sam just
grinned and squeezed her hand.
  "Do you have something we can give to Al?" he asked, drawing the
conversation off of such a high emotional level. "He broke his leg."
  "_I_ didn't break it," Al retorted.
  "Oh...we may need to take you to a hospital, Al," she said, bending to study
the damage. He gasped and clutched at the arm of the chair as she pressed to
determine if it was really broken. "Sorry."
  "Right," he panted. "Just shoot me now."
  "I said I was sorry, Mr. Martyr," she said again. Then she looked up at Sam.
"How long do you think you're going to be around?"
  He frowned. "I really don't know. I'm surprised I haven't already leaped as
it is."
  Al waved them away. "He'll leave when I say he can leave. Now can I _please_
have something? Hit me over the head, cut off the darned thing, something!"
  Sam laughed. "Being a little dramatic, aren't we?"
  "Come a step closer and say that."
  Sam touched his shoulder and squeezed it lightly. Al flinched.
  "What?" Beth asked.
  He exhaled heavily. "Well...he got me there, too."
  "Al, youíre the only man I know who can hide how much pain heís in while
complaining about how much pain heís in." She glanced at the leaper. "You
couldn't have shown up five minutes earlier?" Sam just shrugged. She held him
with a steady gaze, reaching for Alís hand again. "Thank you, Sam. For
everything."
  Eventually, Sam and Beth were able to dig up the proper facilities to tend
to Al at the project (mostly due to his continued insistence that he didn't
want to go into any hospital). Al's one regret was that he was unable to tell
his daughters that Jonathan Tucker was really Sam Beckett and, though they all
enjoyed a dinner together, it was through the facade Sam put up. Evening fell
and, though the rest of the project was not privy to Sam's presence, Al still
managed to get him to his own quarters for the night.
  The one question was: why was he still there?