"The Day After That" pt. X

August, 1980
Washington D.C.

  Sam stood outside after Al departed, staring at the sky, wondering how to
make them talk to each other. Without resorting to tying anyone up.
  "How's it goin', Sam?" the hologram asked suddenly beside him.
  Sam jumped. He turned to face his partner, who had an expression that told
Sam he knew _exactly_ how it was going. "We made some progress, but then we
lost a lot of ground. Fast."
  "Well, it's not gonna all just fall into place..."
  "I know." Sam sighed dramatically. "But I just wish you weren't so
stubborn." He smirked. "Both of you."
  "You have no appreciation of winning personality."
  "Yeah," Sam muttered with little humor. "Do we have anything new, Al?"
  "Dirk's bought a plane ticket," Al said, his voice low with anger.
  Sam looked up and could see the images saturating his friend's memory.
"We'll change it, don't worry."
  "I hope so."
  Sam looked at him with sympathy. "We will," he repeated firmly. "When is
Dirk's flight coming in?"
  Al pressed a colored button and the handlink lit up like a Christmas Tree.
"Ziggy's still accessing the data, but we think it's sometime Monday evening."
  "And where specifically is she killed?"
 "Oh, I don't know. I'll find out by tomorrow."
  Sam glanced sidelong at his friend. "You gonna be okay, Al?"  He wiped his
chin with his palm, only just noticing the stubble there. "I'll live." The
words were laced with heavy irony.
  Sam was at a loss. There was no way to help the admiral until Monday and,
until then, all of them were just going to have to tough it out. Sam stared
out into the night chill. "Al, you, well, he said something this morning to
Beth that made me wonder."
  "What's that?"
  Sam screwed his face into a hesitant expression. "I wonder if...I mean, I
think Dirk may have..." He fumbled, not wanting to say it out loud. "I mean, I
never really thought of it before then, but it only makes sense that they
would go hand-in-hand..."
  For a moment, there was a blank look on Al's face, followed by realization
and then an intense rage he just barely controlled. "Ask her."
  "Al, I don't-"
  "Ask her!" Al repeated fiercely. "Because _I_ want to know if he did that to
  "Geez, calm down, all right?" He'd been around Beth too long - Al's focused
anger was starting to make him uncomfortable and maybe even a tad skittish.
  "Don't tell me to calm down, Sam! You get that jerk and _then_ I'll calm
  This had been a while in coming, Sam realized, and perhaps it was just best
that Al get it out of his system now. "I don't know for sure, it's just the
way she acts when you're around her as opposed to ‘Linny' or-"
  "I don't care, Sam, I really don't. It's bad enough that he beat up on her,
but if he did this, too..." The cigar was slowly crushed in his fist. "I hope
he gets what he's got coming to him."
  Sam wasn't completely certain he wanted to know what Al thought Dirk
deserved and he didn't ask. "Just don't lose focus of her," Sam reminded him
carefully. As he had hoped, that subdued the admiral.
  "Yeah. Sam, I'm gonna go see if I can speed Ziggy up on that ETA."
  Sam smiled at the unspoken reminder. "I won't let her out of my sight."
  He waited for the Imaging Chamber Door to shut before entering the apartment
and locking the door behind him. He was just about ready to go to bed when
Al's bedroom door opened and he crept out, double checked the locks, and
turned to go back to his room.
  "I already locked it," Sam said. His voice stood out in the silence and Al
jumped. *Serves him right. Advance payment for all the times he's gonna do it
to me years down the road.*
  "I thought you were in bed."
  Al gestured awkwardly to the door, a touch of embarrassment on his face.
"Old habits," he explained. At Sam's questioning glance he leaned against the
wall and shoved his hands in his pockets. "When we first married, Beth would
never lock the front door. I could never figure it out because she was always
so compulsive about it when she had her own place. Even if she came to bed
after me, though, she'd never lock the doors." He smiled a little. "Used to
irritate the hell outta me, to tell you the truth. Then I finally figured it
  Curious despite himself, Sam shrugged. "So why'd she do it?"
  He shifted his weight. "Well, I never did come out and ask her, but I think
it was her...need to be reminded on a daily basis that I cared enough for her
to worry about her safety."
  A slow grin spread across Sam's face. "It's nice to know you still worry,
  He raised an eyebrow. "About her? I never stopped." His eyes glittered in
the dim lighting as he stared at Sam. Then he shook his head with a small
smile. "G'nite, Linny."
  "‘Nite, Al."

  Sunday. One day closer.
  Beth had been in bed all morning, laid up with whatever physical ailments
were plaguing her. Sam wondered if it meant she was starting to have serious
doubts about what she had done. Repeatedly, he tried to examine her, but, in
Beth's eyes, Linny was just a student with no medical knowledge. And she was
probably right - _Linny_ was. Beth, on the other hand, had vast amounts of
experience in the field of nursing. No matter how much he pressed, she brushed
him off.
  He had a feeling he wouldn't find anything, anyway.
  Extreme emotional and mental stress often manifested itself within physical
symptoms, and Beth was _definitely_ under stress.
  Al was working with the divorce settlements at the kitchen table and Sam was
reading on the couch when she emerged, looking small and tired. Sam sat up
immediately. "Beth. How do you feel?"
  "Better," she replied, sitting in the space he made for her next to himself.
"Still a touch dizzy, but..." She glanced at Al's back as he sat at the table,
never ceasing his calculations. "I'll live."
  Sam smiled hopefully at her. "Can I get you some juice or crackers?"
  "Juice would be nice, thank you."
  Sam retrieved a glass. "So are you up to facing Dirk, Beth?"
  She looked distinctly more unsettled with each passing second. "I was
talking to an officer yesterday at the station," Beth said, pointedly avoiding
the question, "and he said I should go to a lawyer on Monday and file for
  Sam handed her the drink. "Do you think he's wrong?" She hesitated. "Beth,"
Sam said, sitting back down to her right, "you pressed charges and all but
have a restraining order against him. Divorce can only help your case and help
you. How much angrier do you think he's going to get? You're safe here - take
advantage of that."
  "But I don't _feel_ safe," she stressed, her fingers turning white against
the glass. "How come I can't feel it?"
  "You won't let yourself."
  "Then I don't know how," she cried, frustrated.
  Sam put a hand on her arm, noting the involuntary wince as he did so. "Beth,
did he rape you?"
  Al had been so quiet that Sam had forgotten he was in the room, or he
probably would have waited to ask the question. Now Al turned in his seat,
staring at her with a look he couldn't identify.
  "We - we were married," she stammered.
  "That doesn't matter," he countered, taking heart from her use of past
  "No. He didn't." Sam wasn't sure he believed her.
  Al didn't seem to, either. "You mean he did that?!" he said, gesturing
  "Al, calm down, okay?" Sam said as soothingly as he could.
  "I said, `No'!" Beth cried, unexpectedly, rising to her feet. "What, am I a
liar now on top of it all?!"
  "Beth, you know I didn't mean-"
  She turned to go out the front door but, before Sam could cry his protest,
Al had grabbed her arm.
  "Don't run away!" he commanded.
  "Why not? It's all I've got!"
  "And that's _why_," he continued, releasing her arm when he saw panic
growing in her eyes. "If you stopped for ten seconds to stand up for who you
are, maybe you wouldn't have to run anymore."
  "What about yesterday?" She shook her head, blinking back tears. "What was
that? Running?"
  "No." Al's voice was suddenly quiet. "But don't lose that ground, Beth." She
shivered and he swallowed. "I'm sorry," he whispered, almost too low for Sam
to hear. "I'm sorry I left you. I'm sorry I hurt you."
  The tension grew until Sam was certain she had to either cry or scream.
"Excuse me," she choked out, "I have to go splash some cold water on my face."
She practically ran from the room.
  Al sighed loudly. "Blew another one," he muttered and retreated to his own
room. It was starting to become a distressingly familiar scene - each hiding
from the other and from themselves. But Sam wasn't so sure Al had blown it.
  One thing was certain, though: the hurt was building within the commander
and Sam knew the pressure cooker would blow soon. He just hoped they would all
survive when it did.

March, 2000
Stallions Gate, NM

  ^Linny was sobbing. All around them people filed about, going to or from
places which all seemed so alien. Al stood perfectly still, draining all
emotion from his pale features, straining to feel through the numbness just
enough to remain standing and nothing else.^
  Admiral Calavicci emptied the glass and considered it momentarily. He
wouldn't get drunk, even now, but the thought certainly crossed his mind. That
in and of itself was enough to urge him to dump the rest of the bottle's
contents down the sink. The glass he'd just finished was the last bit of
alcohol he had in his quarters.
  ^"Commander, if you'll come with us..." "Were are we going?" "We need
someone to identify the body."^
  Maybe he should find Verbena. Maybe he should help Sam, on second thought.
Every second he sat in misery and dejection in his quarters, Monday drew
another second closer,
  ^She was so beautiful.^
  and so did the hour of her death.
  Al laid his head down on the table, letting the cool surface send a chill
down his spine. It felt good - Ziggy always kept things too hot in the office
  The next thing he knew, time had shifted. And history had shifted with it.
  Al's initial sense of panic was derived from the fact that he thought he'd
slept through it all. The muddled confusion history changes always caused
often left him disoriented. As the feeling wore off, he realized if he had
fallen asleep _someone_ would have come looking for him when he didn't show
up. Paranoia still demanded he check the time. It was early afternoon in Sam's
time - close, but not too late.
  Something had changed.
  ^"Beth! Don't die, dammit!"^
  Something was wrong.

+Once again hearty thanks are in order. I've recieved many kind, generous
comments and I'm very glad to know that people are reading! Especially seeing
as the archives seemed to be dead the entire time I was gone - I was wondering
if anyone even went over there anymore, and apparantly you do! THanks to Mark
and Brian, too, for posting my stories. And to Christina in advance because
I'm sure they'll make it on her page eventually. ;-) *hugs* The last 2 parts
will probably make it out by Friday. Thanks and hope you enjoy the rest!