The scene in the Control Room was one of utter chaos when Sam Carter
and Al arrived on the other side of The Door.  Gushie and Tina were both
at Ziggy's console, clothing awry, screaming instructions to each other
as they frantically tried to find the cause of the power drain.  Al was
right, he and Sam Carter had blacked out half of New Mexico with Sam's
little trip to see his father.  The military brass hats who knew of the
top secret Project, not realising it was the Project's computer that was
causing the blackout, had relayed a message directly to the Chief
Programmer's office warning him the Project might lose all power.  That
was what had sent Gushie streaking, almost literally, back to the
Control Room.
    Silence fell as Gushie and Tina stared goggle-eyed at the two men
who emerged from the Imaging Chamber.  When he realised the second
figure was that of his newest, most junior programmer, Gushie's normally
mild and friendly face turned an ominous shade of puce.  
    However, Ziggy spoke before Gushie had recovered sufficiently to
even open his mouth, the melodious voice shattering the stunned silence.
"You did not give me all the data available to enable me to provide our
father with the information he required, little brother.  If you knew
about the cab you should have told me so I could reach the correct
conclusion quickly, as he requested."
    "Sorry, Ziggy," apologised Sam Carter, moving across to the blue
ball in the ceiling that swirled mistily.  Al remained by The Door,
enjoying hugely the various expressions that chased across Gushie's and
Tina's faces as they listened like a pair of guppies to Sam and Ziggy.
It was about time they found out the truth about Sam Carter.  Of all the
Project personnel, it was most necessary that these two knew who he was.
    "I really wanted to tell him myself," continued Sam.  A smile lit
his eyes.  "It meant a helluva lot to me to be able to give him that
particular piece of info myself, so he and Mom could see each other one
last time.  I'm sorry I held out on you.  Siblings do that sometimes.
It's all part of being a family."  His eyes narrowed.  "And less of the
'little brother' stuff.  You're the baby of the family.  I was born
before you were even a twinkle in Dad's eye."
    "Not so," countered the computer.  "If you follow Doctor Beckett's
timeline, I was created by him some considerable way back in his life.
It is you, little brother, who are the younger.  You were less than a
twinkle in his eye a few days ago."
    "Hmm.  If you look at it that way, I guess you're right.  Well, I
can handle having a computer as an elder sibling if you can handle
having a mere human as a younger one."
    "No problem, Bro'.  As you are a genius AND our father's son, I
believe I can deal with the concept of you as my younger brother without
shorting any of my circuits."
    Two dull thuds sounded as both Tina and Gushie slid senseless to the
    Tina regained consciousness very quickly and lay weakly against Al's
knees, her baby-blue eyes round as saucers as she stared at Sam Carter.
Gushie, however, was still out for the count, having hit his head on a
corner of the console.  Sam finished fastening a neat pressure pad over
the nasty laceration on his boss' forehead as Beth came swiftly into the
Control Room, having been summoned by an imperturbable Ziggy.
    Her brows shot up almost into her hair at the sight that greeted
her.  Sam Carter's once clean lab coat was covered with red splodges and
an ominous scarlet stain ran down the side of Gushie's chalk-white face
onto his normally pristine, white collar.
    Tina disengaged one hand from Al's concerned grip and pointed a
wavering finger in the direction of Sam Carter.  "He's - he's Sam
Beckett's son!" she squeaked.
    "Yes, of course he is.  Who else could he be?" said Beth calmly, as
she made a quick but thorough examination of Gushie's prone form.
"Sometimes, I think you all walk around with your eyes and ears shut."
    "When did you realise, Beth?" asked Al, not really surprised she
knew.  Very good at keeping her own counsel was Beth.
    "The first time I heard Sam Beckett's laugh again in the cafeteria,"
she answered, still running her hands carefully over Gushie.  "Only it
wasn't Sam BECKETT."  She lifted the pressure pad for a second.  "Hmm.
Looks like he'll need a couple of stitches to close that gash, don't you
agree?" she looked up at Sam Beckett's son, who nodded.  "Neat work,
DOCTOR Carter.  You should have made sure he and Tina were sitting down
before giving them such a shock.  Have you forgotten everything you were
taught in Med School?  Or were you too busy being Doogie Howser to
actually learn anything there?"
    "Sorry, Beth," apologised a contrite Sam.  "I didn't think.  I was
so high from seeing my Dad, I guess."  His brows drew together.  "Who's
Doogie Howser?"
    "You can still catch him on cable, I believe," she replied, her
attention and appraising fingers now on Tina.  "Try and watch a couple
of episodes next time you're home.  His attitude was fairly responsible
from what I remember.  It'll probably do you good."
    "It wasn't his fault.  Ziggy called him "Bro'!"  Al's look of
disgust rapidly disappeared as his wife arched an eyebrow at him.
    "Sam is perfectly capable of accepting responsibility for his
actions, Al.  At least, he'd better be, in view of what he intends to
do.  I think you'll be fine now, Tina.  See if you can stand up, but
take it slowly."  Beth watched as Al helped Tina rise groggily to her
feet, before turning back to Sam.  She grasped one broad, young
shoulder.  "I know seeing your father must have been wonderful - I'm
longing to see him again myself.  If it hadn't been for him..."  She
threw her husband a very loving glance before giving Sam's shoulder an
affectionate shake.  "But you can't afford not to think, Sam.  Not if
you're going to be as good as he is."
    Sam grinned rather ruefully, "Yeah, I know.  I have to look before I
    Beth smiled.  "Exactly."
    Gushie stirred, recapturing their attention.  Dragging one hand to
his head, he moaned, sending out a powerful cloud of bad breath.  Sam
recoiled involuntarily, but Beth was made of sterner stuff.  She put her
hand under the Chief Programmer's shoulders and helped him into a
sitting position.  "How are you feeling, Gushie?  You've had a bit of a
bump on the head."
    Gushie tried to bring the blur leaning over him into focus.
"Wh-what happened?"
    "You've had a shock and fainted and cracked your head as you fell.
Do you think you can stand with some help?  I need to get you to Dr
Beeks' office, so we can have that cut stitched."  She added in a low
voice to Sam, "We won't bother the rest of the Med team with this.  I
really don't think the whole Project needs to know about you just yet,
so you better show us how neat your handiwork is and do the stitching.
Verbena's office will be nice and quiet and I'm sure she's already
worked out who you are."
    Gushie realised there was another blur near him, which he also tried
to bring into focus.  The blur resolved itself into the features of Sam
Carter, and suddenly Gushie was fully conscious.  "You!"  A wave of
halitosis threw itself into Sam's face.  "You were in the Imaging
Chamber with that - that, begging your pardon, Beth, that irresponsible,
juvenile jet jock!"  
    From where he stood supporting Tina, Al's eyes gleamed in
appreciation of Gushie's comments.  Fright and shock were running
roughshod over the usually cheerful and friendly Chief Programmer,
causing him to use terms and language he would normally never have
employed at all.
    "D-do you realise what you've done?" stuttered an outraged Gushie to
Sam.  "You nearly blacked out all of New Mexico with your little
escapade.  I had General Duncan himself on the direct line, informing me
there was an unknown drain on the power supply, and suggesting we switch
to the emergency power generators so that our top secret, extremely
important experiment was not flushed down the toilet the same way every-
one else's extremely important experiments had been!  If he ever finds
out that it was our experiment that was the source of the power drain,
he'll have us all flayed alive."  A wobbly finger shook itself under
Sam's nose.  "Do you have any idea at all of the trouble you're in,
young man?  I will personally ensure you are stripped of your degrees
and spend the rest of your life as a garbage collector in the back
streets of Calcutta!"  As he spoke, the Programmer struggled to his
feet.  Knives stabbed at the back of his eyes and a sudden wave of
nausea threatened to overpower him.  His face became a sickly shade of
green.  He groaned again and clung to Beth.  "Oh God!  I think I'm going
to be extremely ill.  Help me!"                          
    "That's what I am trying to do," said Beth.  "We're going to take
you to Dr Beeks' office.  I know how sick you must feel, you probably
have a slight concussion, so Sam will carry you.  Then you can lie down,
    Sam tried to lift Gushie's arm across his shoulders, but was pushed
away by a hand that no longer trembled quite as much as previously.
    "No."  Loathing gave the Programmer strength.  "I can manage without
the help of either of those two inconsiderate pranksters.  If your
husband would be good enough to let go of my wife," he said, glaring at
Al, "so she can lend me her arm, I think I shall be fine."
    Tina immediately tottered over on her spiked heels.  "Of course I
can help you, Gushie darling.  Just lean on me," she gushed in a voice
she thought was sympathetic and caring but which screeched like an
extremely rusty hinge.
    "Thank you, Tina.  I feel much better now."  The Chief Programmer
turned baleful eyes on the two miscreants once more.  "How dare you
behave like overgrown students, pulling a stunt like that.  I might have
expected something of the sort from Admiral Calavicci," Gushie nearly
choked on Al's title, "begging your pardon, Beth, but I expected better
things from you, Dr Carter.  You could have burned out Ziggy completely
and then what would happen to Dr Beckett?  We might have lost contact
with him forever."  He shook his head.  "I'm sorry, Dr Carter, but I'm
going to have to let you go.  You're too young and immature to have
around a Project as important as this."  He put one hand to his
forehead.  "Come Tina, Beth.  Let's get on with it.  My head feels as
though it's about to explode."
    Suitably chastised, Sam and Al watched Gushie exit in a slow and
dignified, though slightly erratic, manner, flanked by the two women.
Just before they progressed around the corner, Beth winked at them over
her shoulder.  Her voice floated down the corridor.
    "You really can't sack Sam Carter, Gushie.  You seem to have
forgotten why you fainted in the first place.  Dr Beeks will explain
everything when we get to her office - but not until you're lying down."
    "I was in no danger of burning out."  Ziggy sounded indignant.
"However, our father is in imminent danger of Leaping without seeing
Helen Carter again, little brother.  He still hasn't arrived at the
library, yet it is only seven minutes and sixteen seconds until the time
that you said he would Leap."
    "But he did make it to the library," exclaimed Sam as he and Al
raced over to the console.  "He must.  Mom told me he did."
    Al grabbed the handlink and headed for the Imaging Chamber.  "I'll
find out what's happening."
    Sam yanked him back.  "No, wait.  Take the new one, I finished
installing it last night."  He fished the new handlink out of his lab
coat pocket and thrust it at Al.
    "That new device for Helen is on-line?"
    "Yes, but I haven't had a chance to test the program with Ziggy.
There's no reason why it shouldn't work, though."
    "There is every reason," contradicted Ziggy, "if I haven't had a
chance to test its compatibility with my existing systems.  You seem to
have forgotten, in the way you fallible humans do, what happened the
last time someone ran a new program without testing it first."
    Sam and Al exchanged long-suffering glances.
    "Have you found out why Dad isn't at the library, Ziggy?" 
    "There are police records of an accident along the route our father
would have travelled.  The incident was recorded as having taken place
eleven minutes ago."
    This time Al was through the Imaging Chamber Door faster than he
could say E.R.  "If Superbitch is back again and anything's happened to
Sam, I'll find a way of killing her myself."   
    Horror filled Sam's mind.  "Dad's had an accident?"  
    "No," came the calm, indifferent voice of the computer.  "Dr
Beckett's vehicle was not involved."
    Relief flooded Sam.  His eyes lit and he snapped his fingers.  "Mom
said he felt warm and that he was slightly out of breath.  Tell Al to
get him to run, Ziggy.  Hurry it up."
    "Sure thing, Bro'." 

   * * * * *
    The back of the cabdriver's bald head shone as brightly as a
polished cue-ball on a pool-hall table.  Sam wished he had a cue so he
could smack it.  Maybe then the cab would move faster than the snail's
pace it was currently going.
    "Of all the cabbies in all the world I have to get the only one who
refuses to exceed the speed limit!" he muttered.  He leaned forward and
prodded Cueball in the back.  "Do you think we could go a little faster?
I'm a doctor.  There's an emergency at the library.  It's a matter of
life and death."  He wasn't really lying.  It was a matter of life and
death to him.
    Faded blue eyes, round as marbles, regarded him unsympathetically
from the rear-view mirror.  "Ah just tol' you.  Ah'm goin' as fast as
the law allows.  If Ah go faster, Ah could lose mah licence, so have
patience, boy.  That's the trouble with you youngsters to-day.  Got no
patience.  No patience at all!"  The drawl faded into a grumble.
    Sam leaned back heavily into stained upholstery that smelled of
cheap cigars and even cheaper liquor.  He drummed his fingers in a fast
tattoo on the seal of the grubby window.  Al's voice repeated endlessly
in his mind like a scratched LP.  *Call a cab and go to the library,
Sam.  You've one last chance to see Helen.  One last chance before you
go.*  He swallowed his impatience and the desire to get out and run,
reminding himself that he'd no idea of the way and every creeping
kilometer brought Helen nearer again.
    At last houses gave way to shops and offices and the amount of
traffic on the road, and the noise it generated, increased.  Surely they
must be nearly there by now.  The decrepit old cab moved even more
slowly, negotiating its way carefully through the busy streets of the
town center.  Finally, it ground to a halt behind a line of other
stationary vehicles all blaring their horns.
    Cueball yanked on the brake and pointed through the flyblown
windscreen with a fat, smug forefinger.  "Now that's what you get if you
ain't got no patience, boy.  You end up goin' nowheres at all."  He
settled his well-rounded rear more comfortably into his seat and
prepared himself for a long wait.
    Sam wound down the window and poked his head outside.  A truck had
slammed into a fire hydrant and skewed across the street, effectively
blocking it, partially spilling its load of apple boxes onto the road.
Red and green fruit had tumbled out of the broken cartons and rolled
everywhere, much to the annoyance of those citizens of Truro who were
too busy to indulge in gawping at the spectacle.  A small crowd of less
hurried onlookers had gathered around the obviously unhurt driver, who
was gesticulating belligerently and yelling at a harassed-looking
traffic cop.
    Sam groaned.  "Oh God!  We could be here for hours."  He caught
sight of Brian Palmer's reflection in the cab's dirty and rust-spotted
side mirror.  The image made him even more aware that soon he would be
gone and the life would belong to the mild little author once more; a
man who lived a quiet, self-effacing existence, hidden behind an assumed
name and imagined adventures.  Perfect for this unique Leap where the
person he'd become had nothing to do with why he was here.  Unlike all
the other Leaps, he'd had use of this man's life for a short time solely
to benefit himself.  Presumably, after he'd gone, Brian's life would
continue as it had before he'd Leaped into it.
    Suddenly, the words Al was saying in his mind changed.  *Ziggy says
it's very important that you don't change anything for Brian.  DON'T
change anything for Brian.*  Illumination filled him.  That's why he
hadn't Leaped!  He couldn't while he was with Helen because Brian didn't
know her.  Brian's personal history would have been changed if he'd
found himself at her house and Brian's history had to remain the same.
But he was no longer with Helen or at her home.  That meant he could
Leap.  The pancakes and syrup from breakfast curdled in his stomach.
    He grabbed Cueball by one soft, fleshy shoulder and twisted him
around.  "Where's the library?  I need to be there NOW."  The round eyes
stared blankly.  "Where's the goddamn library?" he yelled into the
startled face.
    "It's two blocks down that way, Sam," came Al's welcome voice from
outside the cab window.  "Thank God you're okay.  You better hurry it
up or you won't get there in time.  That emotionally stunted heap of
junk finally came up with the answer, after trying to give us all
coronaries.  You haven't Leaped because-"
    "I know.  Brian doesn't know Helen."  Sam was digging frantically
through his pockets.  He found Brian's wallet and thrust a bill into the
astonished cab driver's face, then wrenched open the door and launched
himself in the direction Al had indicated.
    "That's right.  So you couldn't Leap while you were at her house
because you would have changed Brian's history."  The handlink squawked
and Al peered at its display.  "Hey, Ziggy says it's changed anyway.
Brian doesn't write anymore historical detective novels, he writes
science fiction instead.  You know the sort of stuff - beware government
cover-ups, aliens are amongst us.  He must be another one who thinks
he's been captured by aliens.  When I looked in on him in The Waiting
Room, he was curled up so tight in the fetal position I wouldn't have
thought he'd have been able to see anything, except his own knees.  He
completely changes his style and reading audience, and he goes on the
lecture circuit warning everyone about the men in black."  Al looked
down at himself.  Admittedly his jacket was black, but his shirt and
trousers were pink, rose pink.  "The poor guy must be completely color
blind."  He looked back at the handlink.  "A huge number of people go to
his lectures, including a Chris Carter who goes on to cre...cre..."  Al
banged the side of the handlink.  "Oh, CREATE the 'X Files'.  Wow, Sam!
Brian influences the guy who creates the 'X Files'.  That's amazing!"
    Al looked up.  He was talking to thin air.  Sam was nowhere in
    All the busy citizens of Truro ignoring the accident were kicking
apples out of their path and into Sam's.  He barged through them,
skidding and sliding on fruit he crushed underfoot.  Twice he nearly
fell, saving himself only by grabbing a pedestrian.  They swore their
objections as he shoved himself away so he could continue his head-long
run.  Then he was past the truck and its spilled load of potential pie
filling.  He jumped off the busy sidewalk into the gutter, finally able
to lengthen his stride.
    His heart pounded his ribs as his feet pounded the asphalt and
garbage, not because he needed oxygen, Helen had made him fitter than
that.  He was terrified he'd Leap before he made it to the library.  As
he ran, he prayed.  To the Bartender, the Someone, God - Whoever.
*Please - not yet.*
    "Where is it?" he muttered under his breath.  "I've come almost two
blocks.  If Ziggy's got the direction wrong I'll pull the plug on him
when I get back."
    He spotted the old building across the street, incongruously
sandwiched between a couple of small shops, the words 'George Pendrick
Memorial Library 1884' screaming at him in granite from above the high
windows.  He charged through the traffic, dodging cars that blared irate
horns at him, ignoring the verbal abuse and obscenities hurled through
windscreens, and up the library steps.  Wrenching open the door, he
flung himself inside.
    Every head in the place turned in his direction at his noisy and
precipitate entrance, including Helen's.  She stood behind the counter
with a pile of books in her arms.  As she saw Sam hope blossomed in her
and the books fell onto the counter with a thud.  She saw Sam shake his
head and the hope died as quickly as it had been born, leaving her
feeling emptier than she ever thought she could be.
    Al appeared just inside the doorway.  One swift look around showed
him that Sam was the center of attention.  "Take it easy, Sam.
Everyone's looking at you.  Smile at them."
    "What?"  Sam kept his eyes locked on Helen's.  "Why?"  He made a
move forward, towards the counter.
    "Wait!  Do you want everyone watching you?  Watching her?  Smile at
them and then they'll turn away."
    Sam dragged his eyes from Helen, pasted a smile on his lips and
looked around the room.
    Reassured that the mild-faced man who had burst in on them wasn't a
dangerous maniac after all, the other library users dropped their gaze,
some even smiling back tentatively before returning to their books.
    "Okay," said Al, "you can go to her now, as long as you go slowly."
    The only person now watching them was Al.  Sam walked across to
where Helen stood rooted to the spot behind the counter.  He walked as
though he had come merely to place an order for a book rather than take
leave of the most important person in his universe.  After an eon, he
finally arrived at the counter.  He reached across and found Helen's
hand, holding on tight while he could.
    "Wh-what are you still doing here, Sam?" she whispered, eyes dark
and dilated, full of bewilderment.
    "I'm not sure.  I caught a cab.  Al says we've got one last chance
to say goodbye."  The hand in his gripped his fingers like a vice.
    Helen made herself smile at him.  "So, you're finally going to start
on your journey home, back to where you belong."
    The love in her eyes poured over Sam in a great wave.  He shook his
head.  "Oh God!  I don't want to go there, Helen, I don't belong there
anymore.  I belong with you.  You're my home, and you're here."
    "Dear heart," came the soft, lilting voice.  "Part of me goes
wherever you go, as part of you stays with me - in more ways than one."
A hint of a smile brushed Helen's mouth.  She reached out and smoothed
the white streak.  "And all of me is there in your time, too.  I'm not
going to disappear in a puff of smoke once you've gone, Sam.  I'm going
to live my life, enjoy it, enjoy our son.  I'll be there somewhere in
your time, whenever that is.  You just have to find me."
    That was it.  The final reassurance he needed before he could go.
As his heart leaped with sudden joy, his body Leaped in time and space.
    The image of the library around Al shook and faded.  At last he
fully understood why Helen wouldn't let him tell Sam she was there, in
his time.  She'd realised what had sent Sam on his way and wanted every
last second with him, even the ones that hurt.  He pushed frantically at
the handlink.  "Center me on Helen, Ziggy!  Now!  To hell with the
testing - just run the new program!  I need to make sure she's okay.
Sam won't be any time else yet.  You should be able to keep me linked
with Helen."
    The handlink squawked and the library faded further.
    "I don't care how illogical it is when I already know, you inhuman,
egotistical, tin THING!  I need to SEE her for myself, even if you have
to knock out the whole damn country to do it.  Keep me there!  I need to
make sure she's all right."  He banged the handlink, which gave another
squawk.  To his relief the library's image solidified around him and he
looked at the couple by the counter.
    Helen saw hope burgeoning in hazel eyes.  Then she was looking into
pale-blue, confused ones.  It was like a drenching with icy water.  She
rocked back on her heels and snatched her hand away from Brian Palmer's.
Sam had gone, and torn part of her away with him.
    She took a great, ragged breath, bent down and fumbled in her purse
under the counter, blinking away the hot stinging in her eyes.  When she
rose she had Brian's pad and pen in her hand and a composed look on her
    "You left these here a while ago, Mr Palmer."
    The pale, mild eyes looked more confused than ever.  Brian
hesitantly took the pad and pen from her.  "Th-thanks.  I wondered 
wh-what had happened to those."  He stood looking at her, dazed.
    Wishing he would go away, Helen smiled a dazzling smile.  He backed
off like a frightened rabbit, clutching the book and pen.  With many a
puzzled and nervous glance over his shoulder, he pattered towards the
door, finally slipping outside.  Helen braced her hands against the
counter's edge, fighting nausea and loss.
    Al watched her, aching as he saw the struggle reflected on her face,
knowing how much it hurt.  "Just a few seconds more, Ziggy.  Not yet.
    Helen's back straightened.  She looked down at herself and put her
hand over her still flat abdomen.  "I guess it's just you and me now,
Child."  She looked around the library, realising she could feel a
familiar presence.  "Hey, you shouldn't still be here, Al.  You should
be watching Sam, not hanging around me.  Get going.  Shoo!  I'm - we're
- going to be fine.  We'll see you around sometime, Al.  I hope it's not
too long til then."
    Al nodded his head in satisfaction.  "Atta girl, Helen.  See you in
about five years, kid.  I'll be looking forward to it.  I mean, I would
have, if I'd known."  The handlink squawked.  "Okay, okay, I'm coming.
There's no need to get your circuits in a tangle."  He closed The Door.
    Helen knew he had gone.  "I'll survive - somehow," she whispered.
Her chin lifted a degree.  "Hell!  I'll do more than that.  I'll make
Sam proud of me, and of you, my boy - Sam's son."  And she picked up the
pile of books from the counter and walked away to shelve them.  


    It was like skydiving.
    He allowed the air currents to catch him, send him where they
willed, secure in the knowledge there was a safety net.  He twisted and
turned effortlessly again.  He was not lost.  He would go home.
    Home.  The thought brought no empty ache as it once had.  Home was
no longer a formless, forgotten place.  Home was a tangle of red hair
and a pair of laughing grey-green eyes.  She was waiting.
    Some time.


  'All other things to their destruction draw,
  Only our love hath no decay;
  This no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday;
  Running it never runs from us away
  But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.'
  John Donne.    The Anniversarie.

      Morgan Thomas
      June 1997 - August 1998