"Pieces" pt. VII

June, 1979
Hartford, CN

  Melana busied herself with cleaning the house and running some errands
Amy had scribbled down in her calendar. Then she set about inspecting the
home from top to bottom for any clues of anything. She had only had three
leaps prior to this that she could recall, but she had been on the team
for several of Dr. Beckett's and she knew how this normally went. She
knew the drill, as Al would say.
  As she worked, she ran her earlier conversation with Al through her
mind. There was a lot going on that she wasn't being told about, she was
sure. This friend in the hospital - that was more then he had let on, and
her last leap was _definitely_ the key to a few secrets. The more she
tried to recall it, however, the more it evaded her, and the
recollections she _did_ have were less than reassuring. They were all
visions of fire and pain and yelling. She shivered.
  She turned from the appointment book, startled by the sudden voice at
her shoulder. When she saw who had spoken to her, her mouth dropped open
and she took the movement, turning it into an easy grin. "Dr. Beckett?"
  He grinned back. "Please. Sam." Though his words were light and calm,
she could see a sorrow deep in his green eyes.
  A sudden fear gripped her heart. "Al's alright, isn't he?"
  "If you mean why I'm here instead of him, you don't need to worry.
Ziggy was synching up my brainwaves with yours and...here I am."
  She turned fully to face him, leaning against the counter and propping
one hand on her hip. "With all due respect, Doctor - Sam - I think
there's more."
  "Al's wife passed away a few hours ago and he's a little...well..."
  "His _wife_? Al's not married." A look that Sam recognized immediately
slid across her features. "Is he?"
  Sam frowned and sighed deeply. "I should have figured he wouldn't tell
you. He got married five months ago. Re-married, actually, to his first
wife, Beth. He didn't...tell you about her, did he?"
  She squinted at him. "No."
  "Well, she was murdered. We still don't know by who. I'm trying to give
him some time, so I'm here to tell you what you're here to do." He looked
sympathetically at her. "This seems to be a bad leap for you from this
end. Sorry."
  She smiled impulsively. "So what am I here to do?" She stifled a sigh
when she saw him lift Al's handlink.
  "Well, this is what we came up with. Your daughter, Julie, was checked
into the hospital tonight for a sprained wrist. Then, a day from today,
she is found dead on the outskirts of Hartford. Beaten to death. We don't
know exact time of death, but it was sometime in late morning. She was
found in the park about a mile from here, hidden from sight on an
embankment. They never found out what happened to her and Amy and Hubert
left town with Robbie soon after. Things don't go well for them, either.
Hubert never finds another job and the family, which you can see lives
quite well now, has to live off Amy's teaching salary until he finds a
job as an hourly worker." Sam sighed and peered over the top of the 'link
to study Melana, who was listening intently to all the details with a
kind of guarded urge to put thought into action.
  "Okay...well I'm supposed to go pick up Robbie from camp in a half an
hour and I have no idea where 'my' daughter is at the moment, so I'll
just have to wait until she shows up or calls." She crossed her arms and
chewed on her lip for a moment. "And I guess I'll just take it from
  "Melana, I wanted to ask you if you remember anything odd about your
last leap."
  He was unsure how to interpret the look she gave him. "I don't really
remember my last leap at all. Well, bits of it, I do, but nothing beyond
the basics. I was in LA in 1995 and I was a witness who was killed in the
original history. But I can't..." She trailed off and he looked carefully
at her.
  "Well, Al asked me the same thing. Seemed important. But I just get
flashes of stuff. Fire and smoke and people running..." She looked
sharply up at him. "It was bad."
  He nodded, having confirmed something in his own mind. "Well, we'll do
whatever we can to get you home, alright?"
  She shrugged and flashed another smile at him. "No need to really
hurry. I don't have any family waiting for me or anything. I don't have
any ties at all that I can recall; Al's really the only family I have.
>From my vantage point, at least, I've only been out here a a few weeks,
and it's not so bad. And how often does a person get a chance to do so
much good?" she asked, a hint of admiration gleaming in her eyes.
  "Yeah, well...that's not all it's cracked up to be, too."
  "That's not true," she said, standing up straight again. "Kindness is
self-sustaining. One person does something for someone else and they do
something for someone else and so on. Just think about how many of those
cycles you've managed to start."
  Sam felt a flush rising to his cheeks. "Thanks," he mumbled. "I wish I
could say it was all my idea." He lifted the 'link and started to punch
in the command to send him back to his own world when she lifted her hand
to stop him.
  "Wait. Tell Al...that I'm sorry. We were pretty close, but not so much
that he would ever talk to me, but he'll talk to you. Take care of him
for me, will you?"
  Sam began to feel that he was really going to get along with Melana.
"Sure. One of us'll be back somtime soon. Maybe this evening."
  "Well," she grinned sheepishly, "I'll be here."

May, 2002
Stallions Gate, NM

  "They found him."
  Al tapped his pencil against the desk and stifled a yawn. "Who found
who?" he asked.
  Sam shifted his weight uneasily and then took a seat across from the
admiral. "The police. They found...him."
  The pencil stopped in mid-air, then clattered to the desktop with a
deafening noise. "Are they sure?" he asked, the slightest hint of a
tremor in his voice.
  "Jenna Stevens is going down to see him now."
  Al squinted slightly, trying to call the name up from his still-clouded
mind. "Jenna?" he asked finally when his search revealed little more than
a familiar twinge.
  Sam sighed. "Yeah. Jenna. She was the one who was there, remember? We
talked to her at the hospital afterwards."
  "Oh. Right. How did they find him?"
  The scientist feigned interest in a loose thread from his sweater.
"Actually, they didn't find him. He turned himself in at a mental ward."
  Al's breathing accelerated slightly, but his face remained impassive.
  "Al, I don't think it's such a good idea to-"
  At the look in the admiral's eyes, he broke off. "Is it so much to
ask?" Al said finally.
  "No. But there could be a high price to pay for going." Sam sighed
deeply and then relented. "I drive."
  They met Jenna just outside of the police station where the suspect had
been transferred to be identified. She smiled timidly at the two of them
and trailed them both inside without a word. The detective who had
interviewed them all at the hospital was waiting inside.
  "Ma'am," he said, nodding at Jenna. "I suggest we get this over with."
She glanced at Al and Sam and then followed him down the hall. Al and Sam
were ushered to a couple of chairs outside.
  "Why did we come, Al?" Sam asked quietly when they were alone.
  "I don't know," he admitted. "Maybe it was too high a price."
  Sam glanced at him in surprise, but Al wouldn't meet his eyes. The
minutes passed in silence and then Jenna emerged. "It's over," Sam
  "Yeah." He stood up. "I'll be right back."
  Something told Sam to follow him, to not let him go alone, but he
rejected the intuition, figuring Al just needed a second to himself. A
moment later, his rejection of that gut feeling came back to haunt him.
Shouting emerged from the adjoining hallway and he shot to his feet,
fearing the worst. It was indeed the worst that met his eyes when he
rounded the corner to see Al struggling furiously against two uniformed
men. A man stood in handcuffs a few feet away, a dark bruise blossoming
on his cheek.
  "Al!" Sam reached for him, trying desperately to calm him down. They
pulled the restrained man away and Al subsided visibly when he was led
from the hall. "Al, what is the _matter_ with you?" Sam fumed, barely
finding the self-control to keep from popping one himself.
  Al wrenched himself free from the hands that restrained him and glared
at Sam, fire in his eyes. The officers retreated to a respectable
distance, but not so far that they couldn't keep an eye on what was going
on. "Sam...I'm sorry. I just lost it for a minute." He looked anything
but sorry. What he looked, Sam thought, was lost.
  Sam gripped his arm in the lingering shadow of anger. "Dammit, don't
you _want_ to heal?"
  Al narrowed his eyes as he looked at the tight grip on his arm, but
made no move to remove it. "What are you talking about?"
  Sam pushed on, relentless. "You angry, Al? You pissed off at the world?
Fine. Hit me. Go on! Hit ME. Or are you going to let her destroy you a
second time?"
  "You're crazy," he muttered, trying to shake himself free. Sam held on.
  "Or better yet, why don't you go back to the bottle? It's always worked
for you before." Even as he said the words, he hated himself. But he had
to get something out of Al other than cold emotionless despair. Anything!
And, judging by the clenching in Al's fists, he was about to get it.
  For an instant, Al teetered on the edge, trembling and enraged. Sam
held his breath, waiting. At the last minute, he stepped back from the
challenge. "Go to hell," he said sharply, and turned on his heel.
  Sam watched him go with muted frustration. "When are you going to let
it go, Al? Are you going to hold on until it kills you?" he said, his
voice almost below a whisper as he watched Al's retreating back.

  Al had left. Probably taken a taxi back to the project or something. He
hoped. The detective had pulled him into his office to talk. It seemed
that the man who had been arrested, Gregor Sanders, had shown up in the
mental hospital earlier that morning claiming to be insane. The detective
faxed a copy of the transcript of his psychiatric evaluation to Al's
office and then handed Sam a copy for inspection. Sam sat down in the
man's office, still trying to calm down from his confrontation with Al,
and read the short transcript through.

     INTERVIEWER: What seems to be the problem, Mr. Sanders?
     SANDERS: I don't know where else to go. I've [10 second pause]
killed someone, but I don't know why.
     INTERVIEWER: You mean you don't remember doing it?
     SANDERS: No, I remember.
     INTERVIEWER: Well, why don't you tell me what you remember?
     SANDERS: [1 minute pause] I was driving home from work and then
I....stopped and went up to this woman outside of a restaruant downtown.
I knew she was a doctor and I asked her to help me.
     INTERVIEWER: How did you know? Do you know her?
     SANDERS: No, I don't think so. I mean, I didn't recognize her, but I
     INTERVIEWER: I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean. Was it
like deja vous?
     SANDERS: No. I don't know how else to explain it.
     INTERVIEWER: What happened then?
     SANDERS: She and another woman and I went into an alley. And I...I
hated her. I mean really hated her! And then I...

  Sam looked up from the transcript, confused. "Where's the rest of it?"
  The detective knitted his fingers together and furrowed his brow. "He
went into hysterics about then. We haven't been able to extract a full
confession from him yet. But he insists that he killed her and he doesn't
know why. This is your average Joe type guy. He's got a nine to five job,
a wife and three kids, and a nice home in Santa Fe. He's really scared.
Thinks he's loony, and I can't say I disagree. He's got psychiatrists all
over him on this one."
  The scientist frowned. "I have a friend who's a certified psychologist.
Would it be okay if I had her talk to him?"
  He shrugged. "It's not up to me. Tell your friend I'll be in touch
about the court date, okay?"
  Sam nodded. "Okay. Thanks for calling us, detective. Sorry about
the...problems earlier." The man nodded and left the room, leaving Sam
alone to face the fact that there was a funeral the next morning he had
to prepare for.

I just keep winding that spring tighter and tighter, don't I? Sorry
there's only one part this time, but part 8 still doesn't seem quite
right and I want to continue to work it before it makes it here. Again,
any comments are welcome (don't make me beg), positive OR negative. I know
the bad remarks are as hard to write as they are to take, but I'd still
appreciate them. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!