Old 10-19-2002, 11:43 AM   #1
leaper1
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Default Round Robin Three (not yet titled)

Leaping was always disorientating for Sam. He was snatched away from the frying pan, immersed in a blue hazed limbo for an unknowable time, and then plunged into the fire of a new situation; totally unprepared and ignorant of even the most basic information, such as the name he should be addressed by.

He was used to it being a dizzy ride, but usually things settled down fairly quickly. This time, the giddiness remained. He found himself panting for breath, and his head swam alarmingly.

A strong salty wind in his face made it hard to focus. He was having trouble keeping his footing; the ground seemed smooth and slippery beneath his feet.

He made a grab for something, anything to steady himself, and realised his hands had been full; something fell out of his right hand, and seemed to fall a very long way. His hand snatched at a thick steel cable.

?Whoa!?

He closed his eyes and concentrated on steadying his breathing, not daring to move a muscle.

When his pulse rate had returned to almost normal, he slowly dared to raise one eyelid a peek at his location. He immediately closed it again, and gripped the cable tighter, panting again.

?Ohhhh b-b-b-boyy!?

After what seemed an eternity, he realised he could not remain as he was indefinitely, and his strange behaviour was attracting attention. A voice was being carried thinly on the wind:
?Danny, you okay over there??

?Nah-uh? he managed weakly, guessing that he must surely be the Danny in question.

He opened his eyes and tried to find the friendly voice to anchor himself to.

What he saw nearly made him follow the article he had been holding, and made him wish he could have kept his eyes firmly closed; preferably until he woke up.

He was standing on what appeared to be a huge orange cylinder, which angled steeply downward behind him. He dared not follow its contour. His left hand still held a pot of paint in the same hue. The item that had disappeared was presumably the brush his host had been using to apply it.

It was a distinctive shade, properly referred to as orange vermilion, or International orange, if the can were to be believed. It was enough to tell Sam exactly where he was, and wished to God he wasn?t.

A distant fog made the horizon hazy, but there could be no doubting it: Dr Samuel John Beckett was high atop the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

Suddenly, a figure appeared alongside him from nowhere and grabbed his arm, nearly making him lose his footing; he jumped so high in his startlement. A metallic rattling made him aware that he was strapped into a harness that was clipped onto the cable handrail, but it felt little comfort to him. His situation was still far too precarious.

?What?d you do that for?? he accused, though in truth he was relieved that he was no longer alone.

?Stop clowning around, Danny, we got a job to do. Where?s your brush??

Sam gulped, and nodded downward, without daring to tip his head to look.

?I-I-I?m s-s-sc-scared of heights!? he announced to the stranger-friend at his side, his eyes moist from wind and fear.

?H-h-help me!?
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Old 10-19-2002, 03:00 PM   #2
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Two

"Ohhh Jeezus, not again!" muttered Billy. "You serious?"

"W-what d-do you mean, 'not again'?"

"Danny, this is the third time you've had something like this happen. C'mon, I'll help you down," Billy near-shouted in Sam's ears.

"But what about..." Sam said, gesturing down and to the paint can.

"Don't worry 'bout the brush. That crap seems to happen all the time, I guess!" laughed the other man, his dark, Latin face kind, despite the pock-marked scars of an earlier bout with severe acne. However, what captured Sam was Billy's eyes. They seemed to carry an infinite sadness, and Sam felt himself trapped in there. A sudden wind gust chilled Sam to the bone, and it dissipated the spell, and Sam tore his eyes away from the other man.

"Okay Dan. Let's go thru this again! Just follow my lead."

It seemed as if Doctor Beckett had never been so scared in all his life. Science was a rational, conceptual thought-process, and he knew all too well what falling from a such a height would do to such a delicate item as a human's body. Sam seemed frozen, and couldn't move his hands away from the cable he was grasping onto for stability.

The sound of the Imaging Chamber door was a welcome addition to the chaos surrounding him.

"Came as fast as I could, Sam!" Al stated rather quickly. "And I know what's going on inside your head! Listen to me, buddy. You're NOT going to fall. You HAVE to believe that!"

Sam muttered, "I'm not going to fall."

"Course you're not, Danny-boy!" laughed the other man, who had a nametag embroidered on his own matching blue coverall that was identical to the one Sam was currently wearing. The nametag said simply, "Billy", and that brought some measure of comfort, unless Billy was wearing someone else's clothes. Sam smiled at the thought of that.

"A smile? Why that's progress," Billy joked, and he began to crawl over Sam. Looks like you're rigging is secure, buddy. Let's get you down, and then, call the boss. You know what that will mean, don'tcha?"

"Sammmm, if he calls your supervisor, chances are you'll get fired. In fact, Daniel Ackerman died while painting the Golden Gate Bridge two days from now. The police report blamed faulty equipment, but Ziggy says your equipment is in perfect working order!"

"O-oh-kay," Sam uttered through trembling lips. "Listen B-Billy?"

"Yeah, my friend?"

"I-I think I can get through this. I-I had a wind gust catch m-me by su-surprise. B-brought back old mem-memories!"

Billy moved himself over Sam, his feet hanging out in the breeze. In a classic repelling pose, he hung with one hand below his buttocks, grasping the rope he'd lowered a few minutes ago. "You sure? Hey man, we're close, and I don't want cha up here if you're no good to us! There are other jobs in this city.

"Not trying to scare you more, but if you screw up, it's a long way down!"

"Sam! It's very important that you don't get fired. Ziggy says if you get terminated off this job, you won't be around to save Bill Reingartener's life in FOUR days! Ziggy gives that scenario a 92.4 percent possibility!"

"Wha- happened?" Sam asked, and glanced over at Al. "Originally?"

"Don't know, Sam. I know your feelings about heights, and when Mr. Ackerman told me where he was at, I dashed in here faster than a High School Quarterback chasing a cheerleader!"

"Originally? Danny, you okay? You hollored out something and poof, here you are!" Billy laughed, and slid over, checking Sam's rigging one more time. While he was busy with that, he began to sing a song that caught Sam by surprise. He got some of the words wrong, but then again, that happens so much with popular music.

I'm just a Traveler,
through time and space..."


Sam grinned, and joined in, the haunting melody reassuring himself that he had made some differences in the world. It also reminded him of that all-too weird leap, in another city... almost another reality.

Billy looked over at Sam. "Hey, I didn't know you liked that stuff!"

Sam grinned, and felt instantly better. His trembling had nearly stopped. "You kidding? I love those guys! Tonic is the best!"

"Right on!" Billy laughed. "Okay," he said, changing modes. "You ready to get back to paintin' this turd? We have only one week to finish this, or else the boss will have to give up on that bonus. That happens, and we're history!"

"That must have been what happened, Al!" Sam whispered, turning his head, hoping the wind covered most of it from his physical friend.

"I'll run some scenarios, Sam," Al quipped in, but concern flooded his features. "Are you going to be okay? I know what you're feeling up here, pal!"

Sam forced a grin, feeling nauseous, yet determined to not let these two see it. "I'll be fine!" he said aloud.

"Course you will," Billy stated. "Hey man, use my spare brush. We've only got a few more hours, and we're off for the day. We made some real progress today. Let's not blow it!"

In response to the man's sentence, a severe gust rattled the lose clothing Sam was wearing. It rattled him more than he wanted to admit, but he nodded, and accepted the brush that Billy was handing to him. "Kay... thanks!"

"Not a problem. You're paying for it, anyway!" he laughed back, and clapped a hand on Sam's shoulder. "My treat tonight buddy. Cold couple beers to settle the nerves!" And with that, he scampered and moved fifty feet over, to a patch of paint that was freshly drying.

Sam closed his eyes, and the words to "Masks" came back to him. He began to sing it softly, as he dipped the brush into the jelling paint can.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
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Old 10-23-2002, 12:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Round Robin 3: Part Three

Sam continued singing, he was not at all happy about the situation he?d found himself in, but at least his singing calmed him and made him forget what was below, or rather what wasn?t below him. He found himself humming and singing words to quite a few songs that leapt into his head, not being sure of the date he was currently in, although he surmised it must be post ?74, but still he kept his voice low. A couple of times he glanced over at Billy and once or twice Billy had caught him looking, Sam just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

Sam stretched out; painting the last bit that was within his reach. Now he had to unfasten his safety harness to move to another spot on the bridge. Keeping his eyes on a level par, he clung to a steel cable shuffling his feet downward and searching for the next bolt-hook onto which he could reattach the clasps, and himself.

"No! Hey Danny! No!" Billy yelled. "What the hell..."

Sam span around in surprise and lost his footing, he slipped backward. He could feel his feet sliding downward stopping unexpectedly when his boots hit the ridge, but his body continued in a retrograde motion toppling him backwards, his arms windmilling in mid air. For a second he was in contact with nothing but thin air.

Somehow an arm reached out and his hand grabbed at the metal cable. He felt it bite into his palm as his weight and momentum dragged at his skin.

Another hand, not his own caught hold of the braces at the back of his coverall and hauled his rear end upward. Sam?s line of vision lowered, save from cricking his neck he had no choice but let his eyes follow the way he was facing. Then he saw it, the deep gauge below him, the frothy white edges of the rivers bank, and the distance between him and the river beneath.

From a close proximity, a voice bellowed. "What the hell do you think you?re doing Danny?"

Sam managed to grab the cable with his other arm, pulling himself up a little; he tucked the cable under his armpit and turned towards the voice.

Billy?s face strained as he held onto Sam's braces with one hand and the thick cable at the far side with the other. "That?s the surest way to commit suicide, if ever I saw one." He grunted, his voice shaking with the exertion.

Sam struggled to get his feet in contact with the cylindrical shape of the main cable, but the more he pushed the more he swung outward. Finally with one great heave Billy managed to pull Sam inward enough, Sam succeeded in hooking a toecap into the ridge, levering himself back onto the main cable, hugging at its circumference he shook violently.

Quickly Billy secured both of their safety harnesses. "Jeezus! What were you thinking of Danny! You should know by now, that you NEVER unclip both hasps at the SAME time!"

Sam looked at Billy apologetically. "Dunno what I was thinking of Billy, I really don?t."

"Well that?s for sure." Billy looked around to see if anyone else had noticed Danny?s little mishap. "You?re one hell of a lucky kid, I?ll give yer that. Now get that doodle brain of yours in gear, there?s only a half-hour left.

Sam held up his almost empty pot of paint, but Billy didn?t notice, he walked off back to his own stretch of bridge and resumed working. He looked back at Sam but didn?t say anything, the look of annoyance on his face said enough. Sam persevered with his own task, trying to make the little paint he had left last for the next thirty minutes. He didn?t want to annoy Billy any more than he had to, he?d done enough damage for one day and asking a stupid question like, ?Where?s the paint kept?? might have been more that the friendship could tolerate right now.

Sam managed a smile the next time Billy looked over, he had a distinct feeling that Billy was keeping a firm eye on him and that his patience was wearing very thin.

For the last fifteen minutes, Sam painted the same spot over and over again, the pot had run dry and he couldn?t wait until this shift was over. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Billy scraping the excess paint from his brush back into the paint pot and sealed the container.

Sam shouted over, holding the bush and pot up for inspection. "Just in time eh, I?m just about dry."

Billy nodded and sighed. "Hmmm... C?mon Danny, let?s hope tomora?s a better day than the nightmare of a day this?us been."

Sam unclipped ONE hasp at a time, refastening it at arms stretch to the next bolt-hook until he reached the hoist where Billy waited.

"I think it?ll be my shout tonight Billy, after all you?ve done today it?s the least I can do." Sam smiled at the grin Billy returned at his gesture.

"You?re on Danny boy, but I?m warnin? yer Shelly?s a hell?uv a drinker, it?s really gonna cost yer yer?no." Billy laughed. "And..." He attempted to conceal a snigger. "Are we still on for your place tonight? Mom?s gettin? kinda scraggy ?bout me takin? Shelly back there, yer know me only being separated from Connie for a few weeks."

Sam gaped open mouthed at Billy. "Of course." He replied, not knowing what else to say.
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Old 10-23-2002, 11:30 PM   #4
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Four

"Quantum Leaping often places me in precarious positions, but I have to admit that rarely does God/Fate/Time or Whatever place me in one that can get me killed. My heart didn't stop it's thundering in my chest even after we reached the safety of the ground level of the bridge. Billy was understandably upset with me, and I couldn't really blame him. I mean, how often do you have to go out swinging like Tarzan to save the life of your coworker?"

They approached an old Ford pickup, and threw their equipment in the back of it. There Sam saw the answer to his question - several cans of paint sat amongst the other equipment. They went ahead and rinsed their equipment off, and put them away. The whole time, Sam listened to Billy going on and on about how you can never fade away like that up there. Doctor Beckett just nodded, and shrugged when he felt it appropriate, hoping that this Leap would end soon.

"I mean, what were you thinking, Danny Boy?"

"I told you, Billy. I don't know. That wind really rattled me today. You know I've never been comfortable around heights!"

"SINCE WHEN? Danny, you taught ME how to run the rigging. Until your hospital visit six months ago, you were the guy with the most seniority here. You got me MY job!"

"Can't we just drop it," Sam asked wearily, as he got in the truck's passenger seat, plopping down with resignation. He massaged his eyes with his fingers, trying to ease the tension. He felt the lump in his back pocket, and took out Danny's wallet... thumbing through the pictures, looking for clues to who and what he was. From the driver's license, Daniel apparently was twenty-eight years old, and an organ donor, and lived in San Francisco.

He noticed pictures of kids, and only one of the family. Seems Danny Ackerman loved his kids, but maybe not the whole scene. Sam took out the picture of a non-smiling Daniel, his non-smiling wife - at least according to the wedding rings visible in the pictures.

"Miss her?"

Sam looked over at Billy with a start. "Yeah... I guess I do," he said slowly. Not seeing surprise on Bill Reingartener's face, other than a nod, Sam suspected that Bill knew what the score really was here.

"You'll get over her, buddy. I know Anna and Joel really miss their mom, too. That can't be good on the little tykes. Thank God you haven't tested positive the way she did."

Sam frowned and whispered, "My God, she has A.I.D.S."

"Pretty cliche' when you think about it, huh? I mean, here we are working in the city where the 'gay plague' started. Damned queers will be the death of us all... no offense!"

Sam sat up straighter. "Well, that's true, but ... Oh, I guess!" The doctor in Sam Beckett wanted to cry out and address the real facts, but they wouldn't be known until the late nineties, and from the newspaper that was in the seat next to them that this was 1994. Right now, a lot of superstition and fear ruled the world when it came to H.I.V. and it's pilgrimage across the planet's surface. "Can we go please?"

Something in Sam's voice set Billy back a second, and before he put his keys in the ignition, he turned on Sam with an angry glance. "My friend, I do think you've finally lost it. Out of loyalty and our friendship, and the fact you put me up every now and then over at your place, I wasn't going to report what happened a few minutes ago. But any more of that nonsense, and I'll HAVE to take it to Fredricks!"

Doctor Beckett could only assume that was the supervisor or owner of the company. He made a nodding gesture and closed his eyes. He felt, rather than knew about the seat being sat in, the truck starting, and it being engaged in gear. Before he knew it, he was asleep, and the idling of the truck as it drove down the roads lulled him away into never-neverland.

He awoke with a start as the engine shut off. He sat up, and the light had turned darker.

"Wow, how much did I sleep?" he said through droopy eyes.

"Long enough to get home," joked Billy. "Hey man, sorry about that gay comment earlier. When you told us Rosa was H.I.V.-positive from the blood transfusion, many of us didn't know what to think. The blood you got wasn't tainted... but it could easily have been you. I guess we're just weirded out about it."

Sam nodded, and smiled softly back at his friend. "I do understand, Billy. You think I haven't lived with that same fear? Or the fact I could have contracted it thru sex with R-Rosa." The unfamiliar name rolled uncomfortably off Sam's lips, but it seemed to only solidify the impression that Danny truly missed his wife.

"Well, you know her," Billy said, laughing at some reference that Sam didn't get. But irregardless, Bill was more his old self. "Okay, well, listen buddy, do you need me to get some brews for tonight?"

Sam looked over at the darker-skinned man with upraised eyebrows. "Are you and Shelly going to be drinking much? Sounds like you have other plans!"

"Wellllll, let's just say that we'll start with the beer!"

"In that case, here," Sam said, shoving a twenty in Billy's hands. "Get the usual, and keep the rest... thanks for saving my butt today!"

Billy seemed to think about it, and crumpled the bill in a tightened grip, and mock slugged Doctor Beckett in the shoulder with it. "'Kay... thanks man!"

"No, thank you!" quipped Sam as he opened the door. "See you in a few!"

"Be back shortly with the love of my life!" said Bill, as he gunned the engine on the truck, leaving behind a slight black cloud as he did so.

And as usual, Sam was stuck in the street, wondering just which house was his. The address on the ID he'd seen previously wasn't for this street he was on.
* * * * * * * * * * *
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Old 10-26-2002, 10:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: Round Robin 3: Part Five

Sam looked about him, feeling very self-conscious and lost. Feeling rather than seeing he turned to his left just as a net curtain twitched. At the window a small unsmiling face appeared, as soon as she saw Sam the face lit with recognition. As she waved devotedly a toothless grin drown out the sadness in her eyes. Sam recognised her immediately as Anna, although she was a little older than the photograph portrayed in Danny?s wallet.

Through the toothlessness, Sam make out that Anna was now about seven years old, her golden curls bounced with her exhilaration and she disappeared from the window.

Moments later the door opened and the young girl ran toward him, arms outstretched and shouting. "Daddy!"

Sam bent down, opening his arms to catch the embrace. Lifting her up and swinging her around, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

"Joel?s been bad all day." Anna blurted out, frowning.

Sam remembered the photograph, the young girl and the babe in arms. ?That must be Joel.? Sam assumed, a half smile engulfing his lips.

"And why?s Joel been bad?" Sam asked kissing the child on the forehead.

"He?s been crying all day and Mrs. Tate got real mad at him and spanked him." Anna giggled. "Joel..." She giggled again. "He throwed his dinner and it went all over Mrs. Tate and her glasses, she looked real funny."

Sam laughed with Anna as she pulled a face, mimicking a demon. She then became subdued. "He wanted mommy."

Sam hugged her, recollecting Billy?s words in the truck, ?Miss her?? Sam could feel Anna?s sadness as her grip tightened.

"I want mommy back." Anna began to sob. "Daddy why won?t mommy come back?"

Sam pulled his head away, wiping her tears away with a gentle thumb. "Sometimes people you love have to go away, honey. You?re too young to understand yet. I know you miss her and Joel too, but she?ll always be with us. In here..." He placed a hand on her chest. "Mommy will always be in here."

Sam hugged the child again and carried her towards the house, the tears welling in his own eyes, tormented by the child?s grief.

Mrs. Tate, a woman in her mid-forties greeted them as they entered the door, she looked immediately to Anna. "My child, I wish you wouldn?t run off like that." She rubbed at her head, which was wrapped in a towel.

"Mrs. Tate..." Sam began.

The woman interrupted. "Since when have you gotten to be so formal?"

Sam let Anna down and she ran off into one of the rooms.

"Since you started talking to my children like that!" Sam announced, his voice harsh and demanding. He pushed his way past her and into the hallway.

"Like what?" She questioned, looking quizzically towards Sam.

"I hear you got angry with Joel today, do you want to tell me about it?" Sam headed off to what he supposed was the kitchen.

She followed Sam. "He?s been uncontrollable all day and when he started throwing his food about, I gave him a good telling off."

Sam glared at the older woman. "You didn?t spank him?"

She looked at him in surprise. "Mr. Ackerman, you know I would never raise a hand to a child."

"Anna tells me different." Sam scrutinised her. "The reason I hired you was because of your excellent references." He heard himself say, wondering where on earth that memory came from. "We had an agreement, did we not? That I would do all the disciplining since their mother..." Sam cut himself short, realising that Rosa, Danny?s wife may not be dead but in a hospice.

He wished that Al would hurry and make an appearance again, what was taking him so long?

"Daddy?s here!" Anna quirked as she trotted into the kitchen.

A toddler trotted behind, imitating his older sister. "Yay, daddy, daddy here."

Sam watched as Joel ran straight to his legs and hugged them, Joel then looked up and abruptly disconnected himself from Sam. "Where daddy?"

Sam looked ahead, remembering that small children could see him for who he really was. ?Al, where are you? Albert!? he yelled silently to himself as Mrs. Tate looked at Joel in disbelief.
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Old 10-31-2002, 01:44 AM   #6
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Six

"Oh for the love of the Lord Almighty," Mrs. Tate exclaimed. "You be nice now to your father! He's worked long and hard today. Now, run along with you until you can greet him proper." She made a shooing gesture at little Joel, who giggled and started to leave, but then turned around and glanced one more time at Sam. He pouted a bit, looked so very sad, and then shuffled back to his room that he shared with his sister.

"No, not you Anna!" Mrs. Tate continued. "I think that you, your father and I all need to have a talk!"

Dread filled the expression of young Anna Ackerman as she moped over and finally sat down next to Sam. She comfortably leaned against him as Sam sat on the sofa, one arm laid across the back of the cushions. He found himself subconsciously rubbing her shoulder, and realized how much he would have loved to have been a real father.

Besides, young Anna was the spittin' image of his own sister, Katy at that age.

"Your father informs me that you said I spanked Joel."

Anna nodded. "You did." She said it without hesitation.

Mrs. Tate blanched. "Young lady! I would never do such a thing!"

"Oh yes you did!" the seven year old challenged. She looked back at Sam with pleading eyes. "Daddiiiie!"

"Yes, I agree. Enough's enough. Go on to your room, I'll be in later in a bit. We've got company coming, and I'll need your help making snacks."

"Is Uncle Billy coming over?"

"Yes, with his friend."

Anna giggled. "They're more than friends, Daddy! Geez!" and she rolled her eyes dramatically.

Sam grinned. "Okay you old woman. Get on and I'll be in later in a bit." He made a waving motion and sat back, watching Danny's daughter bounce out of the room without a care in the world, wishing he could have a time like that. "Why oh why am I always putting out fires?" he thought, rubbing his eyes with his fingers.

"Mr. Ackerman, certainly you aren't going to take a seven year old's testimony over an adult's."

"Mrs. Tate, young children are notoriously innocent. What they say comes off the top of their head, and rarely do they think of the consequences. I'll ask you one more time... did you spank my son?"

She looked down and chewed her lip. "No sir, I didn't."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Sam said, sighing. He had no idea how this was going to work out, but he felt right in doing this. "Well, until this all works itself out, I don't think I'll be needing your services again. I'll be happy to write you a letter of recommendation."

The nanny bristled, and she stood up. As she did so, her purse toppled over, and a silver flask fell out, along with other bottles of pharmaceutical pills... their yellow, waxy looking containers with a white top identifiable from over a mile away!

Sam kneeled down before she could react, and grabbed one, turning it so he could see what the prescription was. He frowned, and placed it and the others back in her purse. Uncapping the liquor bottle, he sniffed briefly, and his expression changed for the worse. He grabbed her arm and said, "Come with me this instant!"

Mrs. Tate tried to pull away, but Doctor Beckett's grip was like a vise. He walked down the hallway with her and entered in the room of the kids. It was in a typical disarray, but he noticed Joel was sitting on the lower part of the bunk bead, his head hung low, and thoroughly miserable. He looked up with hope to see his father, but only saw this man he didn't know. Joel's face fell, and he looked back down.

"Joel?" Sam began, but didn't know how to begin. Then the doctor in Sam took over. "Son, I know what I'm going to ask may be hard to understand, but can you please lift up your shirt for Daddy?"

"Y'er not Daddy," Joel mumbled, and he sighed.

Anna looked over at Joel, and she giggled. "He is too, muffin!"

"Is Not!"

"Is TOO!"

"Okay, okay," Sam said. He was still having trouble holding onto the protesting woman, when he heard the Imaging Chamber door open up. "Thank God!" he muttered.

"Hey Sam, what's up? Ohhh, this scene looks bad," Al said, turning serious.

Joel's eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree, and he squealed with delight. "Wow! Do it again!" he said, and he ran over to Al and attempted to hug him, but passed right through the Observer's image. He giggled with delight, and looked up at Al with awe.

"Well, hiya kid! You must be Joel, who He sent me down here to look after!" Al said, kneeling and making a pointing up gesture with his hand.

"Are you an angel?" Joel asked. "I prayed today for mommy!"

"I know ya did, kid," Al said, his face becoming so very kind. He looked over at Sam and nodded, pulling out his handlink, and began to tap in some queries.

"What is he talking about?" muttered Mrs. Tate, thunderstruck.

Anna shrugged, but watched her brother intensely.

"I think he see's someone," Sam said. "Joel, will you show me where Mrs. Tate spanked you?"

"Dad, it was on his bottom n back. Joel cried a lot!" Anna said hopefully.

Al stopped his tapping to look ferociously at the woman. "You slime! He's only three years old!" Then he turned back to Joel, who was looking at Al rather timidly. "Hey buddy, the big man upstairs sent me and my pal Sam here, down to check on you. You're dad will come back very soon... I promise! But you have to pretend that my pal is your dad, okay?"

Joel nodded, and then giggled.

"Now, would you show ol' Angel Al where this bad woman hurt you?"

And as Joel slowly slid up his shirt, the markings of several days worth of abuse began to be apparent. Sam gasped, and Al closed his eyes in despair.
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Old 11-17-2002, 01:14 PM   #7
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Seven

"Ohhh boy," Sam uttered, overcome, and reflexively his hand tightened even more on Mrs. Tate's wrist, her hand becoming bloodless and white. Anna's eyes grew wide, and her lower lip began to quiver. Soon, tears spilled out over her cheeks, and she breathed out slowly.

"M-muffin," she said simply, and she took in a hitched breath.

"Th-Thanks, Joel," Al said, as he playfully swiped his hands through the little boy's image. Joel's eyes lit up with delight again, and he slid his his shirt back down and pulled up his trousers. "Are ya hungry?" Al asked, changing the subject.

The kid nodded enthusiastically, and Al smiled.

"Okay, why don't you come into the kitchen with me, and let's see about rustlin' ya up some grub. Meanwhile, you're daddy will get rid of this mean ol' woman." Then Al turned to walk thru the wall, and Joel tried to follow and thumped off it. He squealed with joy and ran thru the doorway, past the two stunned adults standing there, and giggled all the way down the hallway. Anna grinned and followed her brother out. Sam could hear Al's voice continue in the kitchen. "Now remember, I'm not really here, so I can't grab stuff... you'll have to do it for me, but I'll tell you what to do. Oh Anna's here, tell her to help ya!"

"Be there in a moment, Joel," Sam called out, and then turned his attention to the unemployed Nanny. "If I were someone else, I'd..."

"What?" sobbed Mrs. Tate. "You'd hit me? You'd strike me down and kick me? Big, tough man! You're hurting my hand!" she wailed and tried to collapse, but Sam easily held her up by the one hand, but did reach down and grab her other arm, and pulled her up to a standing position.

"If after all of this, all you have to show is some fingerprints on your wrist that will fade in a few moments, you can count yourself lucky!!!!" Sam said through thinned lips, barely containing the anger. "He's THREE years OLD!!"

"He wouldn't BEHAVE!"

"I SAID HE'S THREE YEARS OLD!!!!"

Mrs Tate replied in a smaller voice, "I heard you... please don't hurt me."

Sam looked at her with kinder eyes. "No, that's the difference between you and me. I won't hurt someone that's weaker and smaller than I am. I'll leave it up to the police, and make certain you don't hurt another child again! Come on!" he said, and walked strongly down the hall, taking the defeated nanny with him. Once in the kitchen, Sam grabbed the wall phone, and laid it down on the counter and pressed in the 911 code, and picked it up with the same hand.

"Ohhh, Raviolli, huh? Hmmm, well, with these spices, I'll show you kids how to make 'Calavicci Surprise' that will make you grow hair on your toes!" Al said lightly in the background. Sam rolled his eyes, and began to give the details to the operator on the other end of the line.

He grinned when he heard Anna say, "You're putting Oregano and Parmesan Cheese on Raviolli?? Oh Cool!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Old 11-26-2002, 09:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Round Robin 3: Part Eight

"Grow hairs on my tosesies." Joel squealed with delight and jumped up and down with excitement. His dad never allowed him in the kitchen whenever there was cooking going on and this was a new adventure for him.

Al?s head integrated with the different wall cupboards until he found exactly what he was looking for, then turning to the excited toddler he said. "Tell Anna we?ll be needing the dried ravioli from this cupboard." He pointed to the left.

"Yeah, yeah." Joel continued jumping with glee; an outstretched hand wavered towards the cupboard indicated by Al. "Angul Al said to get the rovolloly."

Al smiled at the mispronunciation of ?ravioli? from the infant.

"You mean ravioli, silly." Anna corrected and proceeded to the appointed cabinet and opened the door, but Anna couldn?t quite reach the top shelf, even when she strained on tiptoes.

"Joel?" Al said, getting the youngster's attention. "Tell her to get the little steps from the larder."

"Okie, angel Al." Joel ran to his sister and tugged at her skirt, then ran to the larder struggling with the door. "Angul Al said to get the likle steps." He said, disappearing into and clattering about in the darkness, grunting, he finally emerged with a small stepladder in tow.

Anna rushed to his aid as she saw her brother struggling. Small was the operative word, the ladder was twice as big as the two year old Joel, but he was a determined kid and pushed Anna away as she offered help.

"Me do it!" He puffed, dragging the steps along the linoleum towards the allotted cupboard.

"That?s a boy." Al said, remembering what it was like to be an independent youngster.

"We could have done it a lot quicker if you?d let me do it." Anna said as Joel finally relinquished his grip and let his sister take over.

Anna climbed to the third step and hauled down the packet of ravioli.

"Now we gotta cook this in a little salted water, so we?re gonna be needing a pan." Al pointed up to the rack above the stove. "The big one I think."

Joel ran to the stove and pointed to the rack of pans. "Big un! Big un!" He yelled at Anna.

Al?s face puckered at the infants squeals; he turned to the hallway, hoping that the noise didn?t interrupt Sam?s conversation on the phone. ?Why do kids always have to make so much noise at everything?? But he didn?t really mind, ?at least the kid has his mind on other things, for now.?

"Tell Anna to fill it half full with water now Joel." Al said as Anna replaced the stepladder and climbed up so that she could reach the pans.

"Water now." Joel squealed once again.

Anna held the pan under the running water. "Who?s tellin? yer all o? this Joel? That can?t really be an angel you?re talkin? to, there aint no such things as angels really and sides I can?t see no angel."

"It?s the agnul that took momma away and make her better." Joel grinned widely. "He?s gonna help ?til she gets back."

Anna looked thoughtful, forgetting about the filling pan.

Al too looked at the youngster thoughtfully, ?how can you explain to a kid of his age that his momma died and she won?t be coming back.? "Tell Anna that there?s enough water, if she fills it up too much she wont be able to carry it."

"Nuff, nuff." Joel said; a little more quietly this time and Anna turned off the supply of water.

Anna tried to lift the pan but it was too heavy. "I?m gonna have to pour some away." She said, tilting the pan on its side, emptying some of the contents and repeating the process until she was able to lift it and carry it to the stove.

"Woha, there?s not enough water there, but never mind, we?ll just have to add more later." Suddenly a thought popped into Al?s head. ?Never work with children and animals.? He pondered the thought, ?Now whoever thought that one up? In a way they?re right, but hey pal, be thankful for small mercies, whoever did think it up probably never had any children. Probably someone like our Mrs. Tate.? He looked into the hallway again but it was empty. "Hold it there kids, don?t do anything else, I just want a word with your daddy. Don?t do anythin' I wouldn?t do, I'll be back in the shake of a lambs tail."

Joel giggled at the thought of a lamb shaking it's tail and Al took the shortcut into the living room.
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Old 12-02-2002, 04:05 PM   #9
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Nine

A little while later, Sam stood watching the police car drive away with his former Nanny in the back. He had the cordless phone with him in his hands, and put it up to his face and acted like he was talking into it as he turned to his Holographic friend that was in the future. Sam had been learning all kinds of tricks on NOT looking like an idiot, especially when it came to talking to someone that really wasn't there.

"What happens here Al?"

"Well the kids don't get too bad a bellyache from the dinner I just helped them create!"

"Ha Ha Al! C'mon!"

"Okay Sam, just trying to lighten things up a bit," Al said, using an "easy Sam, Easy" kinda gesture. "Okay, let's check the old crystal ball," he said as he pulled up Ziggy's link.

"Well, the really good thing is Joel turns out to be just fine. He's a programmer working for Fortune 500 company in Philly, got two rugrats, a Deacon in his church - seems to keep believing in Angels - and appears to be doing quite well. Man, that's great Sam! Because in a way, we ARE doing God's work, huh?"

Sam nodded and grinned. Rarely did Al get quite so meloncholoy as this, and it was a rare treat. Sam knew he didn't have kids of his own, and always thought that it was a great crime. He had been absolutely terrific with Joel, and Sam thought he remembered a time when he was a female in a previous leap and Al had helped with a child that could see him then, too. Coincidently, he had been Angel Al then, too.

"What about Anna?"

"Well let's see... she's a psycho." He lowered the handlink, thought for a second, and blanched. He brought it back up to eye level. "That can't be right!"

He slapped a hand against the device, making an electronic wail, and then checked the readout. "Oh! A psychologist! Hahahah Anyway, yeah, she's married too, no kids, but she's a psychologist that helps families out with trauma and loss." Al looked around at the house from the street they were standing beside and harrumphed. "Well, this certainly could be a good case study, huh bud?"

Sam sighed. "Yeah. Okay, so now all I gotta do is save my friend from dying from a freefall off the Golden Gate Bridge?"

Al looked over at Doctor Becket with a little concern. "Easy buddy. Don't get all clammy on me now. Besides, that's a new day! Not tonight! Billy's not even around here now! What the hell is that?" Al muttered as a loud rumbling noise grew louder and louder.

Right about then, Billy's truck pulled up, with Billy and what could only be Billy's girlfriend Shelly that was gigglin' in the seat. She was chuggin' a Budweiser an snortin' with laughter at something that Billy had said. And then they were joined by Anna and Joel who had dashed out the door to jump in the truck to hug Shelly, who squealed with delight.

"What's so funny?" Sam asked, smiling at the infectious nature of Shelly's giggling.

"Nothin' buddy," Reingartener said, as he popped open the tab on a brew, and tossed another to Sam, who caught it one-handed. "She thought she saw some guy standing next to you wearing a blinking fedora!"

"Agnul Al!! Agnul Al!! Joel said, pointing at the Observer.

Shelly looked over at Al, winked at him and said, "But he's invisible, right kiddo? Other people can't see him except for you and me, right?"

Al blanched, and looked over to Sam for support, as Doctor Beckett did a double-take.

"What?" he asked? "You can see Joel's Angel, too?"

"Doubt he's an Angel, Danny! Looks like he's got quite a bit of the devil in him!" she teased, and then looked over at Billy. She whispered, "Just playing with Joel, hon!"

Billy sighed a relief. "Boy, for a minute you had me going there Shelly! Thought I was the one that was a bit off! Did you remember to take your medicine this morning?"

"Yeah," she muttered, down slightly. She glanced back over to Al and grinned.

"Um, Sam, as often as I've mentioned it in the past, I DON'T like it when other people can see me other than you and kids. I'll come back here in a bit!" And then to Joel, Al waved bye. "See ya in a bit kiddo!" He hit a button on the handlink, and a white light opened up behind him, and then Al stepped through it, disappearing when it descended completely.

"Woah!" said Shelly, who looked over at Doctor Becket. "Hey, since when did you have brown eyes?"

"Brown eyes?" questioned Billy. "Hon, they're blue. They've always been blue!"

Joel bounced on the truck seat. "Sam! Sam! Sam!"

Doctor Beckett sighed. "Ohhh, boy!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Old 12-15-2002, 03:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: Round Robin 3: Part Nine

Anna piped up then. "Joel I thought you said your angel?s name was Al?"

"?Tis" Joel squealed as he continued bouncing.

"Then who?s Sam?" Billy asked the toddler, who was by now trying to push him out of the way so that he could get to the steering wheel.

Joel pointed to Sam. "There." He gave a surprised Billy one last shove before taking control of the wheel. "He got daddy?s cloves on."

"You?re being silly now Joel." Anna scolded as she tried to stop her brother from releasing the hand-brake.

Joel wrestled with his older sister. "Daddy gone to see mommy in hevun an? angul Al says Sam come to keep us safe ?til daddy get back."

Sam laughed awkwardly. "I think we?d better get inside before Joel takes you all for a ride. He?s got a hell?uv an imagination tonight. I think he?s relieved that he wont be seeing Mrs. Tate again."

"That?s your nanny right?" Billy grabbed the toddler, lifting him out of the truck.

Shelly and Anna slipped out behind him, skipping up the drive together towards the house.

Sam sighed, thankful in that he?d managed to divert the conversation. "Not any more." He groaned as he took Joel?s weight from Billy and at the same time giving him a I?ll tell you later look.

Billy nodded in acknowledgement, turning back to the truck he turned the key in the door lock and followed Sam up the driveway.

Once inside Sam looked at the clock. "Time for bed I think, big man."

"Aw!" Joel pleaded pathetically, thinking he could get one over on Sam. "Daddy let us stay up ?til dark!"

Sam held the boy out, giving him a gentle wiggle. "Well this daddy says that seven-thirty is plenty late enough for my big man." He drew Joel close. "Goodnight? son." Giving him a hug, then letting him slide to the floor.

Giggles beamed down from an upstairs room, he smiled at the thought of the happiness he?d at last brought into the household.

"Nite, nite daddy Sam." Joel giggled, hugging at Sam?s legs, then looked up and repeated the phase. "Nite, nite uncul Biwy."

Billy bent down and hugged the boy." Nite, nite." tapping him playfully on the bottom as Joel scampered off.

His footsteps ran thunderously up the stairs, only pausing for a second as he called to Shelly. "Nite, nite anny Shewy."

"What?s all this about Mrs. Tate?" Billy finally asked as all went quiet.

Sam explained what had taken place since Billy had dropped him off from work.

Billy sat silent, listening, then gasped as Sam finished. "Gawd! Who?d have thought that of? her? I certainly didn?t"

"Neither did I ?til I saw for myself." Sam looked up as Shelly?s footsteps descended the stairs.

"They?re both fast on." Shelly whispered as she reached the bottom. "They?re so cute when they?re asleep."

Sam smiled, as much as he loved children, it was always nice when they were in bed, all tucked up and dreaming in their own little world. He leaned back in his chair. "Yeah." He sighed. "Nice and peaceful."
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Old 01-31-2003, 07:07 AM   #11
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Ten

"I just love those kids to death!" Shelly said wistfully as she sat back, and drained a beer. She belched a bit, and giggled when the two men glanced over at her amused. "Sorry!"

"No your not," Sam laughed, and then thought aloud. "Soooo, you love my kids, huh?"

"Damn good idea, Danny! If Shelly becomes the kids sitter, then the money you were paying her..."

"Would help you guys out, too!" Sam nodded his head as he finished the sentence. "What do you think, Shelly?"

Shelly sat watching the tennis match being lobbed before her with a horrific gaze. "Don't I get a choice in the matter?"

Sam saw the smile in her eyes. "No."

She laughed and playfully swatted at him, missing by a mile. "Okay... but remember, I have dental needs!"

Sam choked on his beer and the other two laughed at his expense. The rest of the night went similarly smooth. Sam ate a salad from the ingredients of the refrigerator, and silently thanked the real Daniel Ackerman for his good health sense. Of course it was right during the time when health kicks were starting all over the country, so it really wasn't so surprising once Doctor Beckett thought about it.

They sat and comfortably watched the Golden State Warriors torture a rival team for the next couple of hours. Sam couldn't actually remember a time when he HAD watched a sports event... usually he was smack dab in the middle of it!! He was having a ball when he heard the distinct sound of the Imaging Chamber door open up behind him. He kept his face neutral, in case Shelly noticed the difference. She did look around for a second, saw Sam looking at her, and winked in response, and right back into the game her attention went. She leaned against Billy the way lovers do
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Old 01-31-2003, 11:54 AM   #12
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Ten - couldn't help myself...

Al watched the three people in the room, waiting for Shelly to say something, but when her attention went back to the game, he took a hesitant step forward. Leaning into Sam's perpherial vision, he waved slightly at his best friend then raised the handlink and recentered himself into the kitchen.

Taking the subtle hint, Sam leaned forward in his chair and glanced at the two on the couch. "So, another cold one?" he asked as he tossed his empty beer at the trash can.

Shelly smiled and nodded. "Sensousup," she slurred slightly then looked at Billy. "Two por favor."

Sam nodded then stood and stretched for a moment before he headed toward the kitchen. As he went, he said, "Dos cervezas, viniendo para arriba." He glanced over his shoulder to see the two of them exchange glances then turn their attention back toward the game.

Seeing his partner in the kitchen smoking his cigar, Sam shook his head. "So, everything okay?" he questioned casually as he went to the refrigerator.

"Actually, Sam, uhm, no," Al replied as he looked at the handlink his face somber, his whole demeanor meloncholy. "History's changed...."

Sam's shoulders fell. "How? What happened?"

"Tomorrow, the house burns. Shelly, Anna and Joel are burned to death. In despair because of their deaths, and because he felt it was his fault, Danny commits suicide by unlatching both harnesses while he is up on the bridge."

Sam stood stunned at the news that he was just given. "I... no... this can't be..." He thought about the two little children asleep upstairs and ducked his head to his chest. "Wait, how do you know that it's suicide?"

"He left a note before he went to work," Al replied sadly.

"Wait a minute, Al, that can't be right. If I'm supposed to be here to stop Billy's death in four days... that would mean that I would right the note. I'm not going to commit suicide, Al. What the hell is going on?"

"I'm not sure, Sam," Al replied with a shake of his head. "I'm just telling you what Ziggy is telling me." He pocketed the handlink and glanced back over at his friend. "What's happened in the last couple of hours while I've been gone that might have changed anything?"

Even as Sam reviewed the evening, he frowned. "We basically told Shelly that she'd watch the kids." His brow wrinkled even more. "Al, earlier, Billy said something about Shelly taking her medication. What medication is she taking and what is it for?"

Al punched at the handlink for a moment then sighed before he put his cigar in his mouth and proceeded to pound the side of the handlink; the squealing and squawking from the handlink was loud enough to draw the attention of the woman in the other room. She appeared in the doorway and she leaned against the doorframe, her thin frame leaning rather seductively against it. Her right hand skimmed down her hip as she tilted her head slightly to the right.

"Did you forget where the beer was?" she asked before she moved into the room and walked over to where Sam stood. She peered up into his eyes and blinked. She squinted her eyes for a moment. "You aren't Danny. I know that much. But," her eyes scanned back and forth between his, "I'll let you know this much, sweetie, if you need anything... and I do mean anything, you just let me know." She winked at him then leaned toward the refrigerator and grabbed two beers and let the refrigerator door close. She then turned toward the man standing a few feet away from Sam and winked at him. "And you," she said with a wink, "nice... very very nice." With a smile, she turned and walked out of the room.

=============
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Old 01-31-2003, 11:49 PM   #13
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Default Round Robin 3: Part Twelve

Not a word was spoken between the two friends, words weren?t needed, the looks they gave each other were enough.

"Do you think she can hear me too?" Al said disparagingly, covering his mouth with a hand as if to block out the sound of his voice.

"I think maybe she can." Sam whispered in response, leaning in towards Al. "Something definitely brought her in here and I don?t think it was the length of time that I?d been away."

Al's eyes widened. "Something really iffy is going on here Sam? and I don?t think I like it."

Sam shook his head. "I?m sure there?s some rational explanation for this happening Al." He then repeated his last question. "What medication is Shelly taking?"

Al raised the hand-link up to eye level. "Ziggy doesn?t know, there?s no mention of any long term medication in her medical records." He pressed more keys on the hand-link and it squealed in response. "There?s nothing?"

"You?d better grease the hinges on that refrigerator if you?re gonna be sneaking another beer!" Shelly protested from the other room.

Sam's head jerked suddenly towards the door. "I?ll be in, in a minute, just checking the ice situation, the beer seem to be a little warm tonight. Do you want ice?" He then turned an irritated glance to Al, pointing to the hand-link. "Al she can hear that darned thing squawking its head off."

"Mine?s okay Danny." Shelly?s raised voice replied. "How?s yours hon?"

A muffled ?fine,? came from the other room; the voice didn?t even sound like Billy?s.

Al just shrugged his shoulders. "Well I can?t help the noises that comes outta this thing, you should?ve given it a silent mode when you designed it Sam."

Sam looked at Al shrewdly. "Before, what were you saying Al?"

Al gazed blankly. "What about?"

Sam gazed back, his eyebrows raised and his brow creased. "About Shelly."

"Oh yeah?" Al glanced once more at the small screen. "There?s nothing about an illness either, least not in her file."

Sam turned away and looked out of the window, into the darkness of the night. "Then the medication? she must have gotten it illegally?" Abruptly he turned to Al. "?right?"

"Nothing in the autopsy either." Al blinked. "There must be something else, Shelly?s totally in the clear for this one Sam. What have we missed here? Something so obvious that we can?t see it."

For a few seconds, the two friends look harshly at one another, each man thinking astutely for a clue.

"Got it!" Al blurted out a little too loudly.

"You okay in there? Need any help S-S-Danny?" Shelly?s slurred drawl filtered into the kitchen.

"On my way, the ice-tray?s gotten frozen in, I?ve had trouble freeing it."

Shelly?s intoxicated giggle seeped through the half open doorway. "Thought for a minute there you were talking to Joel?s angel again? come on, you?re missing the end of the game."

"Be right there." Sam answered as he opened the refrigerator door grabbing a handful of ice; chinked it into a glass and poured a cold beer over it. "I gotta get back in there Al, Shelly?s gettin? really inebriated."

"Yeah Sam her befuddled brain might start meandering, she?s already got Billy a little more than suspicious. Keep her mind on other things and for gawd?s sake if she starts mentioning? erm? you know what? change the subject quickly."

Sam nodded and made an entrance to the living room.

Shelly looked up when she heard Sam, her eyes finding it hard to focus. "Since when did you start using a glass Danny boy?"

"Eh-eh." Was all Sam could muster, so he glanced over his shoulder to Al for some moral support, just as the Imaging Chamber door closed on him.

***
Sorry the following bit didn't post
***
Sam was a little surprised by Al's sudden departure, he was sure that he?d be following into the living room. Now what was it that Al ?had got?, was it something to do with Shelly or was it about tomorrow? Sam guessed he?d have to wait for that answer.

*********************
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