January, 2004
Northfield, MN

Sam Beckett stood in the evening chill and stared into the distance. He
fingered the items he held, then forced himself to look down.

It was still there.

He shook himself. Of course it was still there; why wouldn't it be? It
wasn't as if he'd gone back to change it. In the dying light, the
inscription stood out too well:

             ~ Adm. Albert Joseph Calavicci ~
                 June 15, 1934 - Jan. 29, 2003
               Loving Father, Husband, Friend

Sam knelt in the damp sod and laid two calla lilies by the headstone.
After a long moment, he rose and left.

January, 2004
Apple Grove, VA

"You're back!" Elane proclaimed, coming into the room. She bent to kiss
Sam, who was seated on the couch, reading the paper.

He grinned and touched her arm lightly. "How are you guys?"

"Fine," she responded. "Paul's out at a friend's house."

"Good," he said, "glad to hear he's getting settled." Paul was a 7 year
old boy they'd adopted about a month after marrying. It seemed the next
logical step as Elane was too old to be having children, anyhow, and
they'd both always wanted them. Paul had taken a long while to come out
of his shell, but it was finally happening.

He put one arm around her, grateful to be home. The incident of Sam's
sabotage was long since in the past; in fact, it had been resolved
fairly easily. The bottom line was that the exposure it would gain when
one man proclaimed dead was very much alive and one man with years of
loyal service to his country was now dead when he'd previously been very
much alive would not shine fairly on Weitzman and the committee. Not
that the two facts didn't make themselves known, just not in conjunction
with Congress. The project was abandoned and Sam was able to guarantee a
substantial budget for his new pet.

"You're thinking about him," Elane stated, breaking into his thoughts.

He faced her in surprise. "What makes you say that?"

"You always do when you come back form visiting his kids. You're always


She shrugged and fingered her wedding ring. "I understand. Did you put
the flower on Al's grave for me?"

"Yep. And I put one on hers for him."

She smiled. "How is Elizabeth?"

Sam's eyes lit up instantly. "Oh, she's beautiful, just toddling around
- Al would be so proud of her." He paused then, as if just realizing it
himself, added, "I am, too."

She hugged him. "He would be so happy to know you're doing this. Which
reminds me - I have a surprise."

"Oh, yeah?

"You were up in Ely and I didn't want to get you to come down, but News
Channel 8 came by to do a story on the labs."

"No kidding." He grinned. "Free publicity."

"Yeah, so I gave them a tour, answered some questions, the works. I
taped the story for you."

He eased back further into the cushions. "You just wanted me out of the
way because of last time," he teased.

"I keep telling you," she chided, "stage fright is a very common thing."

"I don't have stage fright," he insisted like a stubborn child.

As if to match his setting, her tone began to resemble a soothing
parent. "Sam, last time you forgot Al's last name." Sam started to
protest, but she put a finger to his lips. "And getting the first
syllable doesn't count."

"It's a long name."

"Okay, you get half credit."

"Just play the tape," he grumbled.

She grinned, then settled back to watch with him.

"In Virginia tonight, a different kind of research is being conducted,"
a newscaster informed them pleasantly. "The new series of labs that have
opened across the country have their base right here in Rapidan. The
name of the organization is Project Rebirth and it's headed up by
Doctors Sam Beckett and Elane Prescott.

"While touring the lab with Dr. Prescott, we discovered there's more to
this group than meets the eye."

The shot cut to an interview with Elane interspersed with pictures of
the facility. "The focus of what we do here in this particular
location," she was saying, "deals with atmospheric damage, namely the
depletion of the ozone layer, but due to constant government backing and
private donations, we've been able to spread our area of research to
everything from more effective ways of disposing of all forms of refuse
to ways to preserving the troubled areas of our oceans."

"Project Rebirth consists of more than just scientists," the reporter
continued. "To date they've started five educational facilities
nationwide in the ten months since its creation. These organizations
currently seek not only to inform the community in plain fact and
statistics about the condition of our environment, but also to organize
activities to involve people with its improvement.

"Captain Wilder is the government liaison for the project and she says
its the most noble effort she's ever seen."

A pleasant looking woman Sam immediately identified as Jane Wilder
appeared on the screen. "Certainly this project shows a strong
commitment on the part of our nation's leaders to improve the condition
of the planet. It's not a quick-fix plan - it's the search for a
long-term solution."

"Dr. Beckett and Dr. Prescott are more than just partners - they're
celebrating their six month anniversary in a few days, and they plan to
use their unique situation to make this effort last as long, if not
longer, than any previous attempts.

"It's important," Elane stressed. "What have we got left if we lose
this? I realize some aspects have been overstated, but we only know so
much. That's why we're here." She nodded to the camera.

"This was an ambitious and worthwhile undertaking," the interviewer
complimented her. "What inspired you to pursue its creation?"

"My husband and I felt it was the only fitting memorial for Albert
Calavicci, a very dear friend of ours who died last January. He was an
avid environmentalist and we wanted the world to remember him."

The closing remarks faded out of Sam's hearing and he looked at Elane.
"You did a great job."

She clicked off the TV and settled back into his arms. "Thanks." She
paused. "You okay?"

He thought of her and of the past year, of the past 15 years. He thought
of the last time he'd seen Beth, how happy she'd been and how much Al
adored her. Then he remembered all the times Al had been there for him,
all the sacrifices he'd made. The last year had been hard, on all of
them, but Sam knew Elane could not truly understand just how much Al had
meant to him; she had really only known him a month and a half. The two
months after his death had passed in somewhat of a blur, mostly with
Elane handling everything for him, including his personal affairs. She
was there when he'd wake up crying in the middle of the night, ready to
drive over and let him talk, and she was there when he set about finding
something to make the world remember Al Calavicci. When he'd finally
pulled from his cloud of mourning, she'd still been there, and by the
middle of March, they were engaged.

It had been a hard year, and his heart still ached. He still had trouble
falling asleep some nights, and when we went to work in the morning with
Elane, he missed his partner, but every day it was getting a little
better, a little less painful. He kissed her atop her head. "Yeah," he
assured her, "I'll be fine."

[So I'm now considering changing my name and leaving the country....
Comments are welcome and requested (I haven't been pestering much  this
story and this is why...) If you're gonna be composing death threats,
please don't make them too realistic sounding...  The next one is
called "Sink or Swim" and you simply could not get more opposite. I
decided to try my hand at lighthearted in that one, so if you go for
that, it'll be a break from...this. Thanks! -amkt (amkt@netzero.net)]