"Rebirth" pt. VII December, 2002 Stallions Gate, NM Sam stood in the doorway and watched the commotion without feeling any inclination to join in. The music was so loud that the wall his hand rested against tingled slightly in rhythm with the bass. All around him were people laughing and dancing, but he was no longer there. He was ten years back in the same room. New Year's Eve - 1993. He'd turned into, as Al tactfully put it, a maniac. Fourteen, sixteen hours a day working and no-one could get him to slow down. Determination and inspiration both served to fuel his passion and the closer he got, the fiercer the fire burned. He'd been working, oddly enough, on the retrieval program when he heard the music. He'd completely forgotten it was New Year's Eve and so, baffled, he followed the noise up and out and found one thing that could possibly keep him from returning to his computer: Al was dancing with Donna. _His_ wife. So, in a fit of childlike reasoning, he sought out Beth and urged her onto the dance floor. Satisfied, Al traded off dance partners and Sam stayed all night (and most of the early morning) relaxing for the first time in weeks. "You just gonna stand there?" Elane asked. He blinked and realized his unbroken stare into the room had gained her attention. "Oh," he stammered, "I'm not staying." "Come on," she prodded, taking his hand. "One dance." "No. I - I can't." And he couldn't. He remembered Donna and he just couldn't. She let go of his hand and pursed her lips. "Then what did you come up here for?" "Actually, I needed to talk to you." "Good," she stated, a bright smile lighting up her eyes, "you can talk while we dance." And, before he could protest further, she pulled him into the room. "How's it going to look when the two directors of the project are seen dancing together?" he asked, taking her hand in his. "Like New Year's Eve," she replied without a second's thought. "I really do need to talk to you," he said as firmly as he could in light of the festivity. "About what?" She bore an equally serious expression and Sam knew, for the hundredth time, that he'd chosen the right partner. "Not here." They ended the dance and she followed him out and into a vacant office. She stood facing him in the dim lighting that poured in from the hallway. "Hush, hush, eh?" she asked with only the barest hint of humor. "Elane, you've been questioning the committee about how this whole place is going to be run, haven't you?" She lifted her chin defiantly. "Yes, I have. I had the opportunity to speak with Admiral Calavicci earlier and he raised some points I couldn't very well ignore." "The committee voted yesterday: Dr. Martin Boyd is going to be our leaper." He watched her reaction carefully. "Can they do that?" "They have the last word," he confirmed. She stared past him for an instant. "Sam, I don't know what you think of Dr. Boyd...but I'm pretty sure this means trouble for us." He exhaled in relief. "So am I." "What are you thinking?" He gripped her shoulders. "That we have to shut this operation down, whatever it takes." He couldn't quite gauge her opinion on that. "What are you thinking?" She swallowed and met his gaze on even terms. "That you're right." ~~~~~~ January, 2003 Ely, MN The pale afternoon light filtered in through the curtains and Al sat on the bed, watching the illumination intently. David had taken Jay out to the park and Marina was asleep in the other bedroom. He may as well have been the only person on the planet for how alone he felt. His attention shifted to the left towards the night table and Beth's picture. A suffocating sorrow closed up his throat and he slid a foot over on the bed and rested the tip of his forefinger on the silver frame, wondering if it ever got easier. He didn't know what to do; he wished she was still alive so she could tell him, so she could hold him and- ^"Don't go, Al. Just one weekend - you can skip one weekend!" "You don't make a meeting with a US Senator and then not show, honey. I'm sorry. I'll stay home next weekend, okay?" "Al...I know Sam was - _is_ your friend, but you've tried so long without success. Maybe it's time to accept-" He whipped around to face her, anger plain on his face. "Don't say it - dammit, don't you _ever_ say it!" She was regretful, but unrelenting. Her eyes transmitted the words ‘What about me?' as plain as day, but she didn't speak them. "Next weekend?" she asked instead. He relaxed. "Next weekend," he vowed, kissing her gently. "We can go Christmas shopping, okay?" "I love you." She held him momentarily with her gaze. "Love you, too." He smiled dimly. "See you Sunday evening." "I'll be here."^ Al pressed his fingertips against his temples. He had a lot of regrets in his life - everything from failing Trudy to going out the night Sam leaped, but leaving for D.C. that day topped the list. The one memory he'd been hoping wouldn't resurface filled his mind and he closed his eyes against it, straining not to recall. ^"Sir, all we need you to do is just look and identify her body, then we can-" "I know," he interrupted quietly, pushing his way into the drab room, marching into a situation he'd been certain he could handle. Until he was in it. The horrible reality of what had happened hit him hard when he saw her. He'd heard the whole story, been told the facts, but it didn't prepare him to face the truth: that his wife was dead and she was never coming back. His throat closed up and, despite a sound of protest from the officer behind him, he walked to the table and stared at her face. The sheet was pulled up to her neck, no doubt to hide the horror that must have been created by the two bullets her body absorbed. His jaw tightened as he touched her cheek lightly, then bent and kissed her forehead tenderly. He wanted to say he was sorry, that he loved her more than his own life and he would never live again now. But he didn't. All emotion had been shut off inside of him as long as he looked at her. Abruptly, he turned and left. He ignored the officer calling to him to take care of other matters, didn't hear a medical intern tell the officer to give him a few minutes, and couldn't see the people around him in the hallway. He walked steadily all the way out to his car, sat in the driver's seat, and stared out the front windshield for several more minutes. He was now completely alone. The emotion came rushing back in a fierce swell which he fought for a minute, but then it overpowered him and he sat by himself in his car, listening to his wrenching sobs tear through the silence.^ He took a heavy breath and stared again at the face of his wife, then to the stack of envelopes gathering dust. He'd read a couple more letters since moving in, but they always served to leave him more despondent than before. There was no rule that said he had to read them in order, but, somehow, it would feel like cheating Beth if he didn't. These were her thoughts, her innermost fears and joys. This was how she felt - this was _her_. He couldn't turn away from that. Before he could second-guess himself, he'd picked up a letter. Mom, May 10, 1988 As I write this, it is 3 AM. Al has work tomorrow, but he's not in yet. Things have been getting progressively worse and Marina at least is beginning to notice all the details, which can't be helping her recovery. I think she feels this is somehow her fault because it was just starting as she had her accident. Al came home drunk last night and I'm wondering if it might not be better for the girls to be someplace else. They shouldn't have to go through this. All I know is...I can't do it anymore. Tonight I sit here and pray for God to send us some help. -Beth Al started crying. He couldn't help it. He must have cried for a good ten minutes, silent tears dripping down his cheeks and filling his mouth with the taste of salt. The letter was dated the day before he met Sam. Dr. Sam Beckett, naive farm boy, brilliant physicist, musician, and humanitarian, and Al's closest friend for over a decade, was an answer to a prayer. Simultaneously, he couldn't believe it and it made perfect sense. He put the letter back and rubbed at his eyes, trying to control, or at least discern, the overwhelming flood of emotion. The only reaction he could find consisted of two words: "I'm sorry." Who he spoke them to, he never knew. At that moment, he felt very old and very tired. Al was about to open another letter when yelling from the other room made him jump and he almost dropped the entire stack. "Dad! Dad, hurry!" He rushed into Marina's bedroom to see her attempting to stand up. He clasped both hands and pulled her to her feet. "Marina, are you okay, hon?" She gripped Al's shoulder, smiling shakily. "I think the little one wants out," she panted. ~~~~~~ January, 2003 Stallions Gate, NM For 2 ½ weeks now, Sam and Elane had tried to put a stop to the project through legal means. Because Sam had made a stand on refusing Dr. Boyd already, he took that front. Likewise, as Elane's protests on the nature of the project had become somewhat public knowledge, she tried to shut it down with Sam apparently still backing it, serving as their ace in the hole, should it become necessary. And, for 2 1/2 weeks, they had been unsuccessful. Sam stood behind his desk, throwing darts at the wall. It helped him think. Thunk. It helped him Thunk. clear his mind. Thunk. It also wasn't working. Thunk! He hurled the last dart angrily, almost missing the board altogether. He sighed dramatically and studied the bull's eye with open contempt, trying to vent all his anger on something other than himself and other people. As he started forward to collect the darts, he saw, from the corner of his eye, Elane step into the room. "Got a minute?" "I have several," Sam replied miserably, abandoning the game in favor of sinking into the chair. She rubbed her hands anxiously on the back of the seat, too fretful to sit. "Sam, I'm off the project." He looked up, eyes wide in amazement. "You what?! They can't do that." "Well...they did. They said-" she laughed softly. "-that if I had, quote, `that much of a problem with the motives of this operation, then I could get the hell out.'" "They can't _do_ that," Sam insisted stubbornly. "Get a clue!" Elane cried, suddenly fed up. They're gonna do whatever the hell they want, and the only reason you or I are here is because, without us, they'd have had no idea where to even start. And now the schematics are drawn up, the equations entered in and construction underway. They don't need us anymore." "But the retrieval program isn't perfected yet. They can't just shut down the project every time Boyd needs a dentist checkup - that'll waste tremendous amounts of energy and money." "Well," she said bluntly, "now we know why they didn't fire you." His shoulders sagged. "Elane..." "I'm out of the loop, Sam." "You can still help-" "And what? Get thrown in jail, or worse?" "What about `whatever it takes'?" "There are limits." She swallowed. "Put yourself in my place." Sam stood up. "Please don't tell me I overestimated you." She shook her head and shrugged. "I'm sorry, Sam." "Elane!" She turned and left his office, and he dashed out after her. "Elane, wait, please!" She didn't listen, but just started walking down the hallway. +Sorry again for the lag time.... I hit paydirt w/ my WIP.
I'll try to be better about posting these more often... I'm also stalling b/c I'm having trouble with a scene down the line - hasn't yet passed editing. I'm sure as soon as I bite the bullet and fix it (it won't WORK), I'll post faster.... esp b/c I have 2 more, complete, and in line..... -amkt