"Basis of Control" pt. VI
 
 January, 1989
 Cleveland, OH
 
   Sam had intended to try and get through to Aaron early the next morning,
but, by the time he got up, Sylvia's husband was already gone. Once Matt was
off to a friend's and Christina was playing by herself in her room, Sam set
about making a list of things he needed to accomplish that day. He was only
halfway through when the phone rang.
   "Hello?" he asked as he lifted the receiver to his ear.
   "Hi, it's me," said a male voice Sam was reasonably certain wasn't Aaron's.
   "Hi...how are you doing?" Sam fumbled.
   "How am I-? I'm fine, Sylvia." Sam cringed from his exasperated tone.
"Where were you yesterday? I thought we had arrangements."
   "I was home. I had to talk to Aaron and I guess I forgot. Sorry." Sam
perched on the arm of an easy chair, his brow furrowed, trying to figure
everything out.
   "Oh, okay." His voice had lost some of its fire. "Couldn't get away - I
understand. Just call me next time, okay? I was waiting for over an hour."
   "Sorry," Sam said again. 
   "Whereís Aaron?"
   "Out. When was our next...appointment again?"
   There was a slight pause. "Aaron's at work today? It's Sunday."
   "Uh, actually, I think he just had some errands to run."
   "Oh. Well, we can meet tomorrow at the new office. Remember where that is?"
   "Sure..."
   "How does noon sound? Iíll have the secretary pencil you in in the
morning."
   "Okay, I guess. Is there anything I should...bring, or..."
   "Just the usual stuff," he replied with a light laugh.
   "Right. Okay, see you tomorrow."
   "Bye."
   Sam hung up the phone, more confused than before. Just as he was about to
go back to his list, the Door opened and Al stepped through, looking relieved.
Sam hoped it was a good sign.
   "Hi, Al."
   "Hi, kid." Al peered at him. "Everything okay?"
   "Sure. I was just thinking, that's all."
   "Hi, Al!" Christina cried as she came bounding from her room, stuffed sheep
in tow by a makeshift leash.
   He smiled. "Hi, baby. You being good today?"
   "Uh-huh."
   "How are things back at the project?" Sam asked.
   "No change yet." Al took a deep breath. "I'll feel better when Beth and the
girls get back from the airport."
   "Yeah, I bet."
   "Any progress on this front?"
   "Say 'hi' to Sheepie," Christina interrupted, frustrated at being ignored.
   "Christina, honey," Al began, kneeling to look her in the eye, "why don't
you go play in your room and I'll come play with you when Sam and I are done
here, okay?"
   She looked as if she was trying to decide whether or not to throw a
tantrum, then she smiled. "Okay, Al," she responded and trotted back to her
room.
   Sam grinned slightly as he watched the interaction. Al Calavicci could
charm a female at any age. "Nothing yet," he finally said, responding to Al's
earlier question. "Except..."
   "Except what?" Al demanded, rising to his feet and nailing Sam with a
searching gaze. 
   "Well, I just got the strangest call."
   "Oh? Who from?"
   Sam frowned. "I have no idea."
   Al pulled out the handlink. "Let's see if we can't get into some phone
records, shall we? Ziggy's...25% certain that...it's going to rain in
Cleveland tomorrow." He grimaced and slapped the handlink. "Only 25?" he was
muttering sarcastically.
   "Uh-huh. And I'm 99.9% certain you're only playing video games on that
thing," Sam responded tartly, just to draw another smile. It worked.
   "Sure am. I don't get in trouble because I use your name."
   "No wonder Congress thinks we're lying to them."
   Al shook the 'link and then resumed reading. "The average population of
Cleveland is...what the hell?"
   "What's her fascination with Ohio?"
   "No, Tennessee. She says it's about an hour south of Knoxville if you drive
90.45 miles per hour...gee, thanks, Ziggy. That was really top priority.
Gooshie, you wanna fix her before I get the screwdriver and start taking
things apart?!" he yelled, looking upwards as he hit the device once more,
just for good measure. Then he smiled. "Better." Sam shook his head. "Okay,
we've got a phone call in at 10:30 a.m. from a nearby town. Trace the number
and we've got...a Dr. Martin Jones."
   Sam shrugged. "Means nothing to me. Got a bio?"
   "Sure. Hang on...lives in Gabney. Widower. His wife died in a car wreck in
'82. Never remarried. Holds an M.D. specializing in, oooh, gynecology." Al
raised his eyebrows. "Now _that's_ the life. He's got two sons - they're
older, about 20 and 23."
   "Has he ever treated me, er, Sylvia?" Sam interjected, moving forward
absently to straighten a stack of magazines.
   "Uh...yes. About four months ago. No records of any complications from the
examination or any follow-ups." He shrugged. "So we're back to square one."
   "Maybe not," Sam countered. "Maybe...Sylvia and Aaron are trying to have a
baby, or-"
   "Uh, no, no more children."
   "Well they get a divorce in two years - maybe they changed their minds when
things started to go downhill."
   "Yeah, but, Sam, you don't go to a gynecologist to look into having more
children. No, Sam, that's not it." Al frowned. "Something here just isn't
right."
   Sam sighed loudly. "What? I mean, a lot of things here aren't right, Al.
You're gonna have to be a little more specific than that."
   "I don't know. I can't quite put my finger on it yet."
   "In the meantime, I stumble my way through Sylvia's life without a clue."
Sam's tone was starting to take on a frustrated edge. "I can't keep doing that
for much longer. I guess I'll...try and talk to Aaron again tonight."
   Al shrugged. "I guess so. I'll get Ziggy off stats of small towns and onto
the problem at hand."
   "That would be nice. Look, Al, it doesn't seem as if much is going to
happen here today, so unless you came up with some earth-shattering news back
at the project, why don't you spend the day with your daughters?"
   Al glanced at his watch. "They won't be in for another two and a half hours
yet. Besides, I promised the munchkin Iíd spend some time with her."
   "Well then go take a nap; Iíll take care of Christina. Geez, you look like
you haven't slept in days."
   Al gestured expansively. "I got eight hours last night," he protested.
   Sam stared knowingly. "Eight hours of sleep or eight hours of staring at
the ceiling?" Al dropped his gaze. "Thought so."
   "Beth had nightmares all last night and every time I'd start to drop off
she'd start dreaming again. It didn't take a quantum physicist to see how
upset she was." He stopped and stood limply. "I guess I could do with a few
hours," he confessed.
   "Then it's settled. Don't worry about me, Al. I'll be fine. You take care
of your family," Sam pressed, wondering if that hadnít been just a little too
easy.
   "Okay, well...I'll be back tonight to see how things are going."
   "Fine. I'll try and find more about Dr. Jones from this end. Maybe Aaron'll
have some input for me. It'd be nice to have a real conversation with
him...maybe I just need to build on this relationship some more before
tackling the hard issues."
   "Yeah. And once you can do that, the rest'll be a snap," Al said smoothly,
punctuating the words with appropriate actions.
   Sam grinned slightly. "Sure. Compared to what you're going through, it
probably will be."
 
 ^----^----^----^----^
 October, 1999
 Grant, NM
 
   Jonathan couldn't quite hide how upset he was. His cheek was still smarting
from where Dave had taken a swing at him, just barely connecting as he ducked
to avoid the blow. Still, his presence had, he hoped, stopped Dave from
causing any real harm at the airport. He couldn't be certain yet just how much
the man had managed to accomplish in the brief time they'd been separated.
   Dave also still wanted to send another fax to Quantum Leap, but Jonathan
had asked him to refrain from doing so until he'd had a look at it. It took
some coaxing (and had led to the beautifully executed right cross), but Dave
had finally agreed.
   It was in the middle of trailing this madman around that Jonathan had come
to a startling realization: not only was Dave planning to hurt someone, no
matter how much he insisted he wasn't (he was clearly unstable and the
question of chemical problems arose in Jonathan's mind), but he was planning
to take his own life in the process.
   Which made him that much more dangerous.
 
 ^----^----^----^----^
 October, 1999
 Stallions Gate, NM
 
   Al took a deep breath and pulled on his deep purple jacket before opening
the door to the guest quarters. The four women - Beth, Marina, Megan, and Emma
- were scattered around the room, but his eyes met directly with Julia's.
   "You came," were the first words out of his mouth.
   His daughter smiled at him. "Well, you sounded so concerned when I talked
to you, that..." She trailed off and shrugged.
   "Don't the rest of us get a 'hello'?" Marina asked, pulling her cane from
the floor. Marina was the oldest and ever since she was involved in a car
accident as a teenager, she'd used a cane.
   Al entered the room and gave her a warm hug, then greeted the other three
in the same manner. After making the rounds, he perched on the arm of the
chair Beth was sitting in. She reached for his hand.
   "Where have you been?" Beth asked. "We've been back for an hour and a
half."
   He shrugged. "Verbena needed me and I just had some trouble getting away."
She looked carefully at him, but he turned to face their children. "So," he
said, giving her a gentle squeeze," how  were everyone's flights?"
   Emma smiled. "They were fine, Dad." Then the smile faded somewhat. "Now,
are you going to tell us what this is all about? What's the deal with the
letter?"
   "What letter?" Megan asked.
   Al cast Beth a fleeting glance. "I didn't think it was a good idea to go
into that until we were all here," she explained.
   He let out a heavy breath, wishing for a cigar for the first time in a long
time. He'd given them up when his first child was born, but every so often, he
still longed for them. "The letter...yeah..." Then he paused. "It is so good
to see you all in the same room again."
   "You're avoiding the question," Marina pointed out.
   Beth laughed lightly. "That one's definitely your daughter."
   Al glanced at Marina and smiled; he didn't get the impression she minded
the comment. "Sorry," he apologized. "You didn't get a letter either, did
you?"
   Marina shook her head mutely.
   "Well...maybe they're on the way. We can't discount that."
   Megan leaned forward. "I don't understand."
   Julia laughed tightly. "I _got_ a letter and I _still_ don't understand."
   "I don't know how many of your questions I can even answer," he continued.
"Some of them I don't know the answers to to begin with and some of it I can't
talk about in the first place."
   Megan frowned. "Don't tell me that. This is serious, isn't it? Please don't
keep things from us, Dad."
   For the first time, Al saw a glimmer of fear in her eyes and he wiped a
hand over his eyes to cover his expression. He heard Beth sigh beside him.
   "We're all adults," she continued. "We deserve to know."
   "We still don't know what this letter is," Marina reminded them stoutly.
   Al took a shaky breath, trying to decide how to begin when Beth started
talking. "Emma and Julia both got letters directed to your father. And we're
worried that whoever sent them might be out to do some harm."
   "What makes you think that?" Marina demanded, using anger to cover her
worry.
   Julia pulled out her letter and passed it on to her older sister. "Read
it," she instructed. Emma also retrieved the letter she'd received and they
were both passed around among the four siblings. Silence descended as they
each read them and the implications of what they meant began to sink in.
   Finally Julia reclaimed the letters and gave them to her father, who tucked
them away in his jacket pocket. "So you think someone's going to kill us, is
that it? It's probably just a prank or-"
   "No," Al interrupted forcefully. "This person knows stuff - stuff that's
classified, top secret."
   "Like...what you do here," Marina said cautiously.
   "Exactly. There's one of several reasons this person could be holding a
grudge against the project or against me, but I don't want them taking it out
on any of you." He took another deep breath. "I know we can't keep you here
forever - you all have lives and family you need to get back to, but all I -
all we ask is that you give us a week. One week to get to the bottom of it."
   "Are you going to tell them about Donna?" Beth asked so quietly that the
others couldn't hear.
   Al shook his head minutely.
   "So what do we do in the meantime? And what if you don't get to the bottom
of it?" said Marina.
   "We will," he said.
   "But what if you _don't_?"
   Beth put out a calming hand. "Then we'll work something out, okay? Why
don't you girls get settled in your rooms and we can go out for an early
dinner." She glanced at Al. "Can you get away?"
   He forced out a smile. "Sure. Dinner sounds good." Heíd talk to Beth later
about his concerns regarding leaving the complex.
   Marina had a determined look on her face, but then she relented. "Okay. But
this conversation is not over yet."
   Beth looked relieved. "I have no doubt..."
   "Admiral?"
   Al glanced up to see Lieutenant Collins standing hesitantly in the doorway.
"Lieutenant?"
   "Could I, ah, have a word with you in private, sir?"
   Al glanced at his wife. "Of course." He led Collins to the empty quarters
next door to avoid his children overhearing anything as they moved to their
respective rooms. "What is it?"
   "Sir, we had an incident at the airport."
   Al blinked in surprise. "My wife didn't say anything about-"
   "Well, sir, Corporal Parkins and I thought it best to..." Collins fumbled
for a moment before Al finished for him.
   "Keep it from them?"
   "Yes, sir."
   Al closed his eyes. "What happened?"
   "We saw someone hanging around the car. Or, at least, the corporal did,
while he was waiting for Dr. Calavicci. He left shortly after I returned with
your family and Corporal Parkins had never left the car, so he couldn't have
done anything to it... But I thought you'd want to know."
   Al's expression hardened. "Did you see what he looked like?"
   "We've already gotten to work on that, sir."
   Al pointed fiercely at Collins. "Good, because if you ever see this bastard
near my family again, you shoot first and ask questions later, got it?"
   Collins looked shocked at the order. "Sir?"
   Al lowered his hand and released a long breath. "Just keep him away from
them, okay?"
   He nodded briskly. "Yes, sir. I promise you, he won't touch them." 

+Please note the COA. It's no longer the fit address, it's
 I would appreciate any questions/comments...and I hope
you're enjoying it!
-amkt