Episode 1214
Throwaway Girl

October 10, 1981

The Tenderloin District, San Francisco, CA   

Sam leaps into Domino, a 15-year old who has run away from home and is trapped in a life of prostitution and heroin use.  Her death by overdose will cause a burned out, cynical detective to commit a murder, ruining his career and his life.  Although Sam changes that history, things go from bad to worse when Domino’s pimp teaches his “girl” a lesson by raping her, sending Sam over the edge and into the street with a loaded gun, intent on shooting the pimp dead. 

Written By:

Shelbey Wright

Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project known as Quantum Leap.  Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator…and vanished.


He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the Project Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear.


As evil and neutral forces alike do their best to stop Dr. Beckett’s journey, his children, Dr. Samantha Josephine Fulton and Stephen Beckett, continuously strive to retrieve their time-lost father and bring him home permanently.  Despite returning home several times over the last decade, Dr. Beckett has remained lost in the time stream…his final fate no longer certain.


Trapped in the past and driven by an unknown force, Dr. Beckett struggles to accept his destiny as he continues to find himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong with the hopes that his next leap…will be the final leap home.





The blue glow faded and Dr. Samuel Beckett came to his senses slowly.  He was in a moving car, front passenger seat.  His hand gripped the door handle tightly.  He turned his head to glance at the driver, a large black man with a shiny baldhead, who, even in the darkness, looked decidedly pissed.  “You open that door, Domino, and I’ll kick your ass.  I’m not taking any shit from you tonight.”  A strong right hand flashed out and grabbed Sam by the jaw, jamming his face against the cold window.


Through the glass, rain soaked city buildings flashed by, lit by the occasional street lamp.  Sam decided that this was one instance when outside was better than inside.  He jerked the door handle and threw himself out of the car.  He landed hard and rolled into a gutter churning with frigid water, trash, and leaves.  His head smacked the curb.  “Oh, . . .” he said, and passed out.





October 10, 1981

San Francisco, California


“Doc!”  A young child, around eight years old, pounded on the door of Apartment 2, trying to wake the inhabitant.  Within seconds, the door wrenched open, and the doctor, fully awake despite the fact that it was two in the morning, stood in the doorway, dressed in gray sweatpants and an oversized tee shirt.  “There’s a girl, just got thrown out of a car.  She looks bad.” In his excitement, the boy could barely get the words out.  “You gotta come!”


Grabbing the black bag she kept just inside the door, the doctor directed, “Go wake Chi-Chi, tell him to hurry.”  The two of them clattered down the dark staircase, in full emergency mode.


The girl was still unconscious when the doctor arrived outside the Pokey Cat, which was just disgorging its patrons after last call.  Those who were interested and not too drunk to stand formed a curious circle around the limp body still lying in the gutter.  Nobody had touched her.  The girl’s thin, slip-like dress clung to her soaked body like a red skin.  One spiked sandal remained on her foot; the other lay in the middle of the street.  The doctor felt for the girl’s pulse; it was thready and slow, and she was oozing blood from a gash near her temple. 


When Chi-Chi arrived, half-dressed and at a dead run, the doctor told him to lift the girl – gently, gently – and hovered as he gathered her limp form into his arms.  He looked as if he barely noticed the weight.  He followed the doctor back down the block and up the dingy stairs to her apartment. 


With the door shut firmly behind them, the doctor directed Chi-Chi in rapid Spanish to lay the girl on the unmade bed.  The boy she sent home with an admonition to get some sleep and a promise of an update tomorrow.    


The girl’s paper-white face was marred by purple bruises along her left jaw.  Her right eye was red and puffy; she would have a shiner by morning.  Her exposed arms showed unmistakable hand marks.  The doctor removed the flimsy red dress, and was not surprised to find that the girl wasn’t wearing any underwear.  She took a blood pressure reading, checked for broken bones and any other lacerations.  Chi-Chi wordlessly jotted down notes and handed her antiseptic swabs.  Finally, the doctor covered the girl with two blankets.  Turning to Chi-Chi, she laid a hand on his arm in silent thanks and sent him home.  Locking the three deadbolts, she walked across the room to write her report.  She would see what tomorrow brought before she talked to the cops.




Pain was the only sensation Sam knew when he awoke.  His whole body throbbed with a dull ache, except his head, which felt as if someone were piercing it with arrows from the inside.  He opened his eyes tentatively, but the room was dim, although he could tell it was daytime.  He moved his head slowly, and regretted it immediately.  Lying completely still seemed to be a good idea.


“Al,” Sam croaked, “where are you?  Where am I?”


It was not Al who answered, but a woman.  She appeared to be in her mid-thirties, slim, with a kind, serious face and black hair pulled severely back into a long braid.  “This is my apartment.  It was closer than the clinic.”  She approached and took Sam’s wrist.  She looked at her watch for a few seconds, and then smiled.  “Pretty good.  Or, better anyway.” There was a click, and the soft light of the bedside lamp filled the room.  “I’m Cristina Alvarez.  I’m a doctor.”  She pulled a penlight from the front pocket of her white lab coat.  “I examined you last night, briefly,” she added, probing Sam’s scalp gently with her fingertips. 


“What happened?” Sam asked warily.


“Well, I’m not sure,” Cristina answered, “but it looks like you had a run-in with somebody.  Do you remember anything about it?”  Sam didn’t say anything.  “Well, you want to tell me your name?”


Sam half-answered, half-asked, “My name is Domino?”


Cristina nodded, as if that confirmed what she thought. “I thought I recognized you.  You’re one of Jupiter’s girls, from down at the Aces.  Someone said they saw him driving the car you took a header out of.”


“I – I think I jumped,” Sam said, trying to make sense of his fuzzy memory.  “We were fighting.”


“I wonder who won,” Cristina commented, shining the penlight into Sam’s left eye, then his right.  She frowned.  “That’s funny.  I could’ve sworn your eyes were green, not brown.”  She shrugged.  “Obviously, I need a cup of coffee.  I’ll make you some tea, if you’d like some.”


“Yes, thanks,” Sam said.


Cristina adjusted the covers around her patient’s shoulders.  Rising, she turned away, and, as an afterthought, swung back.  “Domino,” she said carefully, “I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to pry in your business, but if I’m going to be treating you, I need to know what you’re on.”


“On?” Sam echoed blankly.


The doctor sighed.  “Domino, the tracks on your arms aren’t that old.  I want to be prepared.” 


Sam looked down at his arms, but couldn’t see anything; he’d need a mirror to see the needle marks on Domino’s forearms.  “Oh, boy.”


“I’ll go make that tea,” Cristina said, keeping most of the disappointment out of her voice.  Sam sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.  “Where are you going?” Cristina asked sharply. 


“I – uh,” Sam looked down and blushed furiously, “I have to go to the bathroom.”


Without a word, Cristina picked up a worn out old terry bathrobe from the foot of the bed, and handed it to Sam, who took it and clutched it to his naked chest.  “Thanks,” he muttered, mortified, before shrugging into the robe and sidling toward the bathroom. 


Where the hell was Al?  Why was he still alone?  He studied Domino’s face in the mirror.  She was tiny, a little more than five feet tall, and she couldn’t have been a day over sixteen.  Her brown hair was shoulder-length but unevenly cut, and she had a smattering of freckles across her nose.  He touched a finger to the forming bruise beneath his eye. “Al?  Al!” Sam whispered to the ceiling desperately, as if he could conjure the Observer from thin air. 


“Domino,” Cristina’s voice floated softly through the door, “are you okay?”


Sam opened the bathroom door.  “Uh, yeah.  Just a little stiff.”  He followed her into the tiny kitchen and sat at the cluttered table.  Cristina was spooning instant coffee crystals into a mug of boiled water; she poured another cup full and dunked a tea bag in it.  They sat in silence for several minutes. 


“Am I keeping you from your work?” Sam asked finally. 


Cristina watched him reach for his cup.  His hands trembled.  “No,” she answered.  “Clinic’s closed on Saturday, unless there’s an emergency.”  Hot liquid sloshed over the rim of the cup, despite Sam’s best efforts to hold it still.  Finally, the doctor simply leaned over and held the cup steady so that her patient could take a small sip.  Sam winced as the tea burned his swollen lip.  He put the cup down onto the table with a clatter.


“Domino,” Cristina said, picking up her pen and making a notation on a sheet of paper, “is there any chance you could be pregnant?”


“No way,” Sam said immediately. “No.”


The doctor tapped the pen on the back of her other hand.  “Okay, when was your last period?”


Sam blushed again, deeper this time.  “I, uh, I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t remember.”


“Not surprising,” the doctor commented, “considering how underweight you are.”  She put the pen down and folded her hands on the table.  “Are you ready to tell me what you’re on?”  Sam rose abruptly and walked to the other side of the room.  “Heroin, right?” 


When it became clear that the doctor was waiting for an answer, Sam muttered, “I guess.”  He wiped a bead of perspiration from his hairline with the back of his hand.  The room seemed hot and stuffy.


“Anything else?” the doctor persisted.


“No,” Sam said, hoping that he was right. 


Again that watchful silence.  Then the doctor said, “I don’t usually do this, but you can stay here until you get everything out of your system.  I have a feeling if you go back out to . . . wherever you stay, you’ll just shoot up again.  I can help you get clean, if that’s what you want.”  Sam wrapped his arms about himself.  He was feeling crappier by the minute.  “Domino?”


Sam just nodded.  He could feel his body, or rather, Domino’s body, beginning to come down from her last heroin high.  Intellectually, he knew his choices were limited:  either weather the heroin crash, or go out in search of more drugs.  He hoped the girl in the Waiting Room was sturdier than she looked in the mirror. 


Cristina walked up behind him, but was careful not to make physical contact.  “I guess your pimp will just have to do without you tonight.”





Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico


Rear Admiral Al Calavicci paused before touching the coded control panel that opened the Waiting Room door.  Deep breath in, deep breath out.  He could not let his anxiety show.  That would freak out the Visitor even more than she already had been.  He was about to go in when the door opened on its own.  Dr. Verbena Beeks stepped out, a grim look on her face.


It was her “I-really-don’t-want-to-tell-you-this” expression, the one Al dreaded most.  She’d been stalling her initial report for five hours now, and every minute that ticked away was another minute that Sam spent alone in the past.  The psychiatrist studied the Admiral for a moment, then the door slid closed behind her.  Without a word, she began walking down the hall.  Al read that as a bad sign and fell into step beside her. 


“What is it, Verbena?” He modulated his voice from impatience to concern.


Dr. Beeks glanced down at the notepad she held.  This would have to be handled delicately, or the Admiral would, if you wanted to put it in technical medical terms, flip his lid.  “The Visitor is a teenaged girl, approximately fifteen or sixteen years old.  When she Leaped in, she was crying hysterically.  It took a while to calm her down.  She showed signs of physical abuse, and was insisting that someone ‘not send her out tonight.’”


“Great,” Al muttered.  “Sam hates being a girl.  What’s her name?”


“She says it’s ‘Domino.’”


“That’s not a name, that’s a parlor game,” Al growled.  “What’s the date?”


“She won’t say.  But I sent a sample of her hair to the lab.  They may be able to narrow it down to the decade, based on the chemicals in whatever shampoo or soap she uses.”


“That’s not very helpful.”


“Hey, better to search one decade than forty-five years.” 


‘True, that,’ Al thought. 


Dr. Beeks continued, “She won’t give an address, of course, but she let a couple things slip before she clammed up completely.  Apparently, she’s a runaway and she’s hooking to survive.  Her pimp, I believe, is someone named ‘Jupiter.’”


“Oh, my God.”


“It gets worse,” Dr. Beeks assured him.  “I drew some blood for a work-up, standard procedure.  Her tests showed a significant amount of heroin in her system.”


“Heroin, as in needles and . . .?”


“Yuh,” Dr. Beeks confirmed.  “She was on the tail end of her high when she Leaped in.  And now, she’s crashing.  She’s about to have a very rough time.”


Al stopped in his tracks.  “Ziggy,” he said, projecting his voice a little.


“Yes, Admiral,” the hybrid computer answered, sounding brisk and businesslike.


“What are the chances that Dr. Beckett will experience symptoms of withdrawal from heroin in the past?”


“About the same as his chances of giving birth to a curly haired baby girl,” Ziggy retorted.


Al narrowed his eyes.  “You know, I could unplug you any time I wanted to.”


“Admiral,” Ziggy purred condescendingly, “unless Dr. Beckett has significantly altered his basic personality traits, he has not ingested, nor will he ever ingest, heroin.  The chances of his withdrawing from such an addiction are, therefore, nil.  However,” the computer went on, interrupting whatever Al had been about to say, “I might remind you that there are often residual physical effects left behind in the person into whom Dr. Beckett has Leaped, which he may, in fact, experience.  And there is that tiny, some might say statistically infinitesimal, but not unheard of, likelihood that Dr. Beckett may experience the temporary discomfort of drug withdrawal, despite the physical impossibility of the situation, see aforementioned ‘curly haired baby girl’ example for reference.”


The Admiral began to stride purposefully toward the Control Room.  “Verbena, rush that chemical analysis.  We gotta find Sam quick.  Ziggy, run a voice print on the Visitor, see if there’s anything regional you can identify.  I’m gonna start a year-by-year, working backwards.” 




He felt like he had the flu, the worst bout of flu he’d ever had, maybe the worst flu in the history of the world.   His head hurt, his skin felt like someone had just this second stopped scraping it with fine grain sandpaper, and his stomach, well, the less said about that, the better.  He rolled onto his side, drawing his knees up to his chest.  Voices, the doctor’s and a deep male one, drifted in from the other room.


“This is not a good idea, Cristina, having her here,” the man’s voice cautioned. 


“Well, what do you expect me to do, Brady?  Leave her out in the rain?  Let Jupiter shoot her up and turn her out again?”  The doctor’s tone held exasperation.


“You don’t even know who she is.”


“Can’t you run her prints?  Maybe she’s been picked up before.”


The male voice was dry.  “Yeah, I’m sure she’d give the booking cop her real name.  Look, that’s not the issue here.  I’m not concerned about her.  I’m worried that Jupiter might come after you if he finds out his girl is staying here.”


“That’s why I have you to protect me,” the doctor answered sweetly.  


The voices faded out as Sam drifted back toward sleep. 


The sound of the Imaging Chamber door opening would have been a welcome noise if Sam could have stirred himself to care.  Al stepped out, frowning at the suffering figure in the bed.  “Sam?  I’m here, Sam.”


“Where’ve you been?” Sam asked, not opening his eyes.


“We had a lot of trouble finding you this time, Sam.”  Al glanced around the feminine bedroom.  “The girl you Leaped into hasn’t exactly been cooperative.  I was here a couple hours ago, but you were out like a light.”  He recalled Verbena’s information and added, “How you feeling?”


Sam groaned.  “I wanna die.”


“Hang in there, Sam,” Al said, wishing more than he ever had that he could touch his friend.  “Beeks said that by the look of the girl in the Waiting Room, you’re over the worst of it, and you should be feeling better soon.  Withdrawal from heroin,” Al winced, “is tough but doesn’t take long.”


Sam’s response was a dry heave.  “What am I here to do?” he choked out.


“Well, we don’t really know, Sam.  We don’t even know who exactly you are.”  Sam opened one eye and glared at the hologram.  “The girl in the Waiting Room won’t tell us her name, or where she’s from.  She wouldn’t even tell us the date; that’s why it took us so long to get a lock on you, almost a whole day.  I hate going year-by-year.  It gives me the pukies.”  At Sam’s pained expression, he added, “Sorry, Sam.”


“What about the doctor?”


“Okay,” Al said, studying the handlink, “Doctor Cristina Alvarez.  She’s been running the neighborhood clinic for about six years now, does mostly preventative medicine for women and children.  She’s quite dedicated to the area, although I can’t figure out why.  You’re in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, the armpit of the state of California, maybe even the entire country.  It’s October eleventh, nineteen eighty-one.”  He frowned.  “In the original history, she – huh.  She stays for another three years before one of the foundations that funds the clinic hires her as its executive director.  From there, she goes into public health administration, and now she’s deputy to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.”


“Doesn’t need my help,” Sam observed faintly. 


“No, she doesn’t,” Al agreed slowly, puzzled.  Usually the first person Sam encountered was the focus of a particular Leap.  But Dr. Alvarez’s life seemed to be on its own successful track without Sam’s intervention.   


“Who’s Brady?” Sam asked, remembering the male voice from earlier in the day.


Al punched a few codes into the handlink, muttering, “Brady, Brady, Bra- oh, here it is.  Detective Lieutenant Shaun Brady, San Francisco PD, eleven years.  Yeah, this must be it.  Ziggy says that three nights from now, Brady shoots a local pimp named ‘Jupiter’ point blank in the head.  The investigation by Internal Affairs concludes that it was not a justified shooting, and Brady gets busted back down to uniform.  He quits the force, ends up working construction jobs.  Dies when he falls off a beam two stories up in nineteen eighty-six.  I wonder what that has to do with you, though.”


“Domino,” Sam got out.  At Al’s look, he added, “My name.”


The handlink beeped and flashed.  “Yeah, well, Ziggy thinks that’s a nickname, so we’re still in the dark as to who you are.  Oh, but Beeks says she’s – you’re – she’s probably fifteen or sixteen years old.  Probably a runaway.”


Sam covered his eyes with one hand, then pushed his damp hair off of his sweating forehead.  “She’s a prostitute,” he muttered and turned his head away.  “Jupiter’s her pimp.”  He didn’t want to talk anymore.  


A key rattled in the lock of the front door.  Al tapped the handlink and opened the chamber door.  “Okay, Sam, you’ll feel better soon, I promise.  I’ll get Ziggy to keep working on finding out who this girl is and what you’re here to do.  In the meantime, just . . . just hang in there, buddy.  I’ll be back in no time.”  The door slammed shut at the same instant that the white light from the Imaging Chamber disappeared. 


Cristina appeared in the bedroom doorway.  Sam rolled onto his back and watched her approach the bed.  Her black hair was pulled back in a no-nonsense braid.  She was carrying a small paper sack.  “Domino, hey, how are you feeling?”   Sam was getting awfully sick of that question.  “I brought you some soup.”  Sam pressed his lips together.  Cristina shot him a knowing look as she peeled back the lid of the soup container.  “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.  You choose.”


Sam pulled the sheet and blanket up to his chin.  Cristina advanced, brandishing a spoon.  “Okay, missy, the hard way it is.  Sit up.”  He didn’t move.  “Seriously, you don’t want to cross me, Domino.  I intend to win this battle.”


Unconsciously, Sam set out to prove that doctors made the absolute worst patients. “I don’t feel like eating.”


Cristina spooned up some broth and held it aloft.  “I don’t care.”  She waited a moment, but Sam didn’t move.  Cristina tapped her foot impatiently.  “You haven’t eaten anything in the two days you’ve been here.  Heaven knows when you ate before that.  You need some food and you need some fluids, so you’re going to eat this soup, now, or I’m going to find the one good vein you have left and hook you up to an I.V. glucose drip!”  She touched the spoon to his lips.  He glared at her.  She reached out with her free hand, tipped his head back, and poured the soup into his nose.


Sputtering, coughing, swearing, he had no defense against the doctor’s forced feeding.  She managed to get half of the soup into her patient before he gagged and brought some of it back up.  But he kept enough down to satisfy her.     


The struggle exhausted Sam, and all he could do was curl up into a miserable little ball of self-pity and drift back off to sleep. 


The next morning, Sam felt a bit more human.  He choked down the slice of toast Cristina offered (almost afraid of what she would do with it if he resisted again), then showered and dressed.  Compared to the petite Domino, Cristina was a regular Amazon; none of her trousers would fit the teenager.  Sam slid into a calf-length denim skirt and pulled on a UCLA sweatshirt, part of a bundle of clothes Cristina had liberated from the clothing donation box behind the clinic.  The Chamber door opened, and Sam indicated the bedroom with a nod of his head.  “Uh, Doc, I’ll be right out.”


“Okay,” the doctor replied, “I’ll be leaving in about ten minutes.”


Al sailed through the closed bedroom door.  “You look much better, Sam,” the Observer said.  “You going somewhere?”


“Doc’s gotta go to the clinic, and she doesn’t want to, you know, leave me here alone.  So I’m gonna spend the day there, do some odd jobs around the place.”  Sam laced up a pair of clean but battered tennis shoes.  “You got any more information for me?”


“Scut work, huh,” Al commented.  “That ought to take you back to your intern days.”  He pulled the handlink out of his pocket and turned it on.  “Let’s see.  Still no real name for our Visitor, but Ziggy surmises from her accent that she is from the Pacific Northwest, probably the Seattle, Washington, area.  Easy enough for her to end up in San Francisco.  But Ziggy still has no projections about why you’re here, or what you have to do with Detective Brady killing Jupiter.”


“Well, how can that be?” Sam burst out in frustration, his nerves still raw.  He paced across the small room twice, five paces each way, then sat on the bed, winded and sweating.  “Ziggy always has a theory, even if it’s only a six percent probability.”


Al drew a deep breath.  “There’s always the possibility that you are here to get Domino back together with her family – but I don’t think that’s the case.”


“Why not?” Sam asked.  “She’s a runaway, isn’t the obvious solution to get her to go home?”


“Maybe home isn’t the ideal place for her.  You don’t know what she’s run away from,” Al pointed out. 


“Has to be better than being homeless, selling yourself on the street, getting beat up by your pimp,” Sam argued.


The Observer paused, fished a cigar out of his pocket, and lit it.  He studied the glowing end of it for a moment then said, deliberately, “Not necessarily.  Maybe she was getting beat up by her mother, or molested by her father, you don’t know.  Besides, even if you did figure out where she’s from and go there, she might not stay once you Leap, if you Leap.  If the conditions that caused her to bolt in the first place are still the same, she’ll just run away again.”


“So you’re telling me that whatever I’m here to change, it’s not to get a sixteen-year old prostitute off the street?” Sam’s tone was incredulous. 


Al sighed.  “All I’m saying is, for Domino, this might be the lesser of two evils.”


Sam hung his head.  Nothing in his Midwestern upbringing could have prepared him for a choice of the kind Domino must have made, or for the life this teenager was now living.  His Swiss-cheesed brain didn’t remember everything, but he knew beyond a certainty that he had been loved and protected by the Becketts.  “We can’t answer any of these questions until we know – wait.”  He looked up. “Is there any kind of national network or something for when kids go missing?”


“Well, there is one now, called the Amber Alert, Sam, but that didn’t come into existence until a couple of years ago, my time.  There is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Al mused, keying in the question for Ziggy, “oh, but that didn’t come on line until the mid to late eighties.  In nineteen eighty-one, there’s no national database connecting all the local and state missing persons lists.”


“Ziggy could search those individually, right?” Sam persisted.


“If they’re on the computer, yeah, but it’d be police department by police department.” Al opened the Imaging Chamber door.  “I’ll get started on this Sam; it’ll probably take a while to collect all this data.”


“Domino?” Cristina called softly through the door.  “I’m ready to leave now.”


“Find out who she is, Al,” Sam urged, and opened the bedroom door.





Admiral Calavicci stepped out of the Imaging Chamber, mildly optimistic for the first time in days.  When Ziggy answered his call, he ordered, “Get me photographs, high quality, of every Caucasian girl aged twelve to seventeen, reported missing or entered into any missing persons database from nineteen seventy-nine through nineteen eighty-three.  Start with Washington, Oregon, California, and, uh, Idaho.  I need you to download the images to my computer.”  Al knew he was the only one who could identify Domino, since anyone else looking at the Visitor in the Waiting Room would only see Sam’s aura.


“You will have the first batch in six point three minutes, Admiral,” Ziggy promised. 


Al took off for his office at a fast clip.  By the time he had entered his clearance codes and personal password, there were two hundred photographs in the queue; another ten or twenty were added every sixty seconds.  It would be a long afternoon.  Al sighed and lit his cigar. 




Sam spent the day organizing medical supplies, disinfecting the toys in the clinic’s waiting room, and performing other “scut” work under the watchful eye of the doctor.  Still feeling exhausted and ill, Sam rested frequently and even took a nap during the hour the clinic was closed for lunch.  Cristina spent her day administering vaccines and routine physicals, with a gentle dose of health education meted out to each patient.  Between the more routine visits, she and her physician’s assistant, Chi-Chi, handled minor emergencies.  While the waiting room was never full, the stream of patients was steady.  


It was clear that Chi-Chi was Sam’s, or Domino’s, shadow.  While the Hispanic man did not say much, he bristled any time Sam went near the locked drug cabinet.  Sam didn’t let on that he understood and fluently spoke Spanish, and he listened as Chi-Chi reiterated the same warnings to the doctor about allowing Domino to stay with her that the detective had raised.  The physician’s assistant and the detective were in agreement, it seemed; they were both afraid of retaliation against Cristina by Jupiter.  Sam began to wonder if he were there to do something about Jupiter – but that would mean his purpose was to save a pimp’s life.  He doubted God, Time, Fate, or Whatever was Leaping him around had that in mind.  Surely death by gunshot was more merciful than scum such as that deserved. 


“Hey, what’s this?” Cristina asked, coming out with Chi-Chi from behind the exam room curtain.  They had been examining a young man with a nasty gash on his left arm. 


Sam shrugged.  “Looked like he might need stitches.  I thought I’d save you some time.”  On a tray, neatly arranged, lay antiseptic swabs, sealed packets of sutures, and sterile bandages, along with other appropriate items, everything but the painkiller for before the procedure and the antibiotic for afterward.  


Cristina glanced at Chi-Chi and back at Sam.  “How did you – ?”  She stopped.  “You should think about a career in the medical field, Domino.  You’re a natural.”  She fixed Sam with a sharp eye.  “Provided you finish high school, that is.”


Sam gave a sheepish half-smile and turned away.


At five thirty, Chi-Chi left, and Cristina locked the clinic’s front door.  She began to take inventory of the drug cabinet.  Reading her cautious body language, Sam retreated to the waiting room and leafed through an old Highlights magazine.  He didn’t trust himself near the vials of narcotics any more than the doctor did. 


At six-ten, there was a tap on the glass door.  An attractive man in his mid-forties stood there, hands in the pockets of his trench coat, peering up and down the street as he waited.  Cristina unlocked the door.  “I’ll be done in a second.  Come in.”  She led him familiarly by the hand into the clinic, locking the door behind him.  The man studied Sam with interest. 


“Brady, you remember Domino,” Cristina said.  “Domino, this is Detective Shaun Brady.”  Sam nodded with his chin.


“Well, you were unconscious when we met before, so I guess that doesn’t count.”  Brady gave a guarded smile.  From the way Cristina drew Brady into the drug locker by his lapels, Sam could tell that they were more than just friends.  After a few minutes, during which Sam tried not to hear the low murmured laughter coming from the other room, the two emerged. 


“Come on, Domino, let’s go get some dinner,” Cristina suggested.


“Oh, I, uh, . . . I don’t have any money,” Sam admitted.


Brady handed Cristina her coat. “My treat.”  When Sam hesitated, he added, “Don’t be proud, Domino, I’m buying.”  Sam shrugged, not really having any alternative plan, and followed the two of them out. 


He found himself in a dark, noisy bar a few blocks away from the clinic, sitting at a table near the back exit.  He picked at his cheeseburger, eating little, feeling dizzy and fatigued from the day.  Cristina and Brady carried the conversation, which grew more and more personal as dinner progressed. 


The Chamber door opened with a square of white light, and Al stepped out looking grimly satisfied.  Sam acknowledged him with a lift of his eyebrows, conveying that he couldn’t talk yet. 


“I know, I know,” Al grumbled, “I’ll meet you in the head.”  Sam always made Al meet him in the men’s – or in this case, women’s – room, where they could talk to each other in relative privacy.  Either that, or Sam would pretend to talk on the telephone, but it was unlikely that Domino had anyone to call.  By the look of him, Sam barely had enough energy to lift a French fry to his own lips, covering as he mouthed, I’ll be right there.


“Gee, Sam, you look wiped out,” Al commented as Sam excused himself from the table and dragged himself toward the restrooms.  The two-stall room was empty, and Sam leaned heavily against the sink.  Al summarized the information displayed on the handlink.  “Your name is Dawn Marie Nash, called Domino because of those cute freckles across your nose.”  He gestured with his cigar hand.  “You’re fifteen years old – hey, your birthday is Christmas Day.  Uh, you ran away from your home in Spokane, Washington.  According to information provided by your parents in the police report, you took off with your boyfriend, Mitchell D’Angelo, aged – ew, aged twenty-one, in March of this year.”


Sam grimaced, equally disgusted.   “Her mom and dad probably weren’t too happy about her choice of, er, men.” 


“Well, the dad threatened to kick the guy’s butt, and they forbade her to see him, which is like waving a red flag in front of a bull, because, being fifteen and having zero good judgment, Domino disappeared in the middle of the night.”  Al squinted at the display.   “The parents were right about this cradle robbing nozzle, of course.  D’Angelo got picked up way over in Texas four months later, in July, for drug smuggling, and at that time, he had no idea where Domino was.  Said he ditched you in Oregon.  What a bum.”


“So what happened to Dawn Marie Nash?”  Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stay focused.  


“Well, Domino’s body is found tomorrow morning, dead of a heroin overdose.”  Sam went cold.  “But, since nobody knows her real name, she stays a Jane Doe for almost twenty years.  In ninety-eight, there’s a task force created by the San Francisco PD and the local field office of the FBI to reopen cold homicide cases and identify the Jane and John Does, using DNA technology.  Dawn Marie’s remains are finally identified and returned to her family for burial in late ninety-nine.”


“Okay, well, I’m not about to shoot up with heroin, so what does Ziggy say about that?”


“The thing is, Domino’s autopsy showed that there was a struggle just before she died, and with the amount of heroin in her system, the needle should still have been in her arm when she died if she shot herself up.”


“Someone killed her.”


“Yeah.  And Detective Brady out there was convinced that it was her pimp, Jupiter.  He goes after the guy and ends up shooting him in the head, execution style.  And you know what happens after that,” Al finished.


Armed with this important, albeit distressing, new information, Sam made his way back to the table.  Although the food was still there, the booth was empty.   As he stood, staring, the waitress sauntered up to him.  “Doc had a house call to make, one of her patients might be in labor.  Brady was going to drive her over.  He said for you to wait here and he’ll be back for you.”  She smiled kindly.  “I’m supposed to make sure you eat your food.”


Sam crawled back into the booth and picked up his untouched cheeseburger.  When the waitress moved away, he set it back down on the plate. 


He looked up when a male voice said, “Let’s go,” but froze when he recognized the man who had been driving the car when he’d Leaped in.  Jupiter.  He pressed himself deeper into the booth.  “Bitch, I said let’s go,” Jupiter repeated.


“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Sam said. 


Jupiter heaved a sigh, meant to convey his great patience.  He slid into the seat opposite Sam and shook his shiny bald head.  “Domino, girl, you really don’t want to make me mad.  You’ve had your little vacation, and now it’s time to get back to work.”  He struck out like a cobra and grasped Sam’s wrist.  “You’re costing me money,” he gritted out through clenched teeth. 


Sam groped around for his fork, and stabbed Jupiter’s hand with it.  Jupiter released Sam’s wrist with a yelp and sat back.  His fist came up automatically, before his mind registered that they were in a public place.  Examining the punctures in his ebony skin, he chuckled calmly.  “Looks like you need something to mellow your shit out,” he observed with a calculated smile.  Reaching into the pocket of his leather overcoat, he placed a small packet of white powder on the table, half-hidden by a napkin.  “Bet you could use some horse right about now, huh?”


“I don’t need that,” Sam said mildly, eyeing the packet with a tingle of interest.   


“Come on out back, I’ll set you up,” Jupiter coaxed.  “You’ll be feeling good in no time.”


“I said I don’t need it,” Sam snapped.  “And I’m not going with you.  I’m done.”


Jupiter shot him a look of pure contempt.  “Bitch, you ain’t done until I say you are.  Now, you are gonna get your skinny ass down to O’Farrell and walk your strip.  And you better make all your money tonight, because you’re running out of chances.”


Domino may have been intimidated by this lunatic, but Sam wasn’t.  “Listen up, you dumb billiard ball.  I said I’m done.  I’m out of the life.  I’m not going with you.  I’m not walking any strip.  And you can take your ‘horse’ and shove it up your –”


“You’ve got ten seconds before I decide I’ve got reasonable suspicion to pat you down,” interrupted Detective Brady in a hard, cold voice.  “Because then I’d have to find the illegal substances you probably have on you, and then I’d have to haul your ass in.  You don’t want that, do you, Jupiter?”


The pimp palmed the packet and rose in one graceful motion.  As if he didn’t deign to acknowledge the cop’s presence, he saved his parting shot for Sam.  “You’re costing me money, Domino.  You know how much that irritates me.”  He sidled past Brady, who muttered, “Beat it, you freak.” 


The detective slipped into the seat Jupiter had just vacated.  “Eat your food,” he said, folding his hands on the table top. 


Sam looked at the pile of cold fries on the plate and took a sip of his Coke instead.  “Why’d you let him go?” he asked.  “Why didn’t you arrest him?  You saw the drugs.”


Brady shrugged.  “That packet was less than a gram of smack.  That’s barely a misdemeanor.  He never carries more than that, ‘cause he knows if I did haul him in for it, all he’d get is a stern talking to.”


“Pimping’s a crime, too.”


“You know what you get for pandering, kid?  Sixty days in the county jail, tops.  He’d be back at his club on O’Farrell Street before I even got the paperwork done.” 


“But you know he’s turning out girls, underage girls,” Sam emphasized, “you could prosecute him for that.”


Brady narrowed his eyes.  “How old are you, Domino?”




“Hm, fifteen.  Well, you see, Domino, what we got here is a conundrum.  That’s a puzzling problem,” he clarified. 


“I know what a conundrum is,” Sam answered testily. 


Brady smiled.  “Uh-huh, you must have been taking Honors English when you dropped out of the tenth grade.”  He fiddled with the sugar dispenser.  “See, if I brought this case to the DA, who’d be my star witness?”


“Me,” Sam said.


“Right.  So I try to put away a pimp who gets runaway teenagers hooked on heroin and turns them out on the street, by relying on the testimony of a fifteen year old, heroin-shooting prostitute who’s run away from home and doesn’t even use her real name.  You think there might be a couple of credibility problems there?”  Sam’s shoulders slumped. Brady leaned forward and confided in a low voice, “When I take this guy in, I don’t want have him walking out of the courtroom grinning at me because some stupid jury took his word over the word of a strung-out teenaged whore.  When I get him, and I will, he’s going away for the rest of his life.”  Brady tossed a few bills on the table to cover the meal and the tip.  “Come on, I’ll take you back to Cristina’s.”  


When they got back to Cristina’s building, the doctor was just putting the key into the bottom lock of her apartment door.  “Baby born already?” Brady asked. 


“Gas,” the doctor said.  “She’s got another couple days.”  They stepped into the apartment, and she stopped.  “Oh, Domino, I’ve got to get your bed linens out of the laundry room downstairs.  You don’t mind if I move you to the couch for tonight, do you?”  The expression on her face telegraphed in giant letters her desire to have some privacy with Brady in her own bedroom.


“No,” Sam said tiredly.  He didn’t care if he slept in the tub, he was so done in.  “Look, I’ll go get them and be right up.”  Cristina tossed a thanks over her shoulder as Sam disappeared down into the dark and musty basement. 


Already anticipating a deep, satisfying sleep, Sam reached into the dryer to pull out the flannel sheets, which were still slightly warm from the high heat cycle.  As he straightened, he felt a sharp yank on his hair, and found himself face to face with a furious Jupiter. 


The first punch made Sam see stars, and he fell heavily to the dirt floor.  Before he could roll into a defensive position, Jupiter hit him again, right below his left eye.  Sam brought one hand up to his face, and lunged for the staircase.  Jupiter tackled him and flipped him over.  The individual steps dug into Sam’s back; one concrete tread pressed against the nape of his neck as Jupiter held his jaw tightly and pressed his head backward.  Sam knew that with very little force, Jupiter could snap his spine from this position.  He stopped struggling.


The pimp’s eyes glittered in the dim light cast by the one bare light bulb hanging above them.  “I told you not to make me mad,” he snarled.  “And then you dime me out to a cop?”


Sam couldn’t move.  He could feel the strain on his neck, a piercing pain as his vertebrae protested.  His left arm was twisted behind him, on the verge of being dislocated.  With his right hand, he tried to lift himself a little to relieve the pressure on his back. 


“Teach you a lesson,” Jupiter muttered, and reached down between them.  He pushed up Sam’s denim skirt and ripped off the flimsy cotton drugstore panties Cristina had provided.  Sam’s eyes widened in horror.


“Oh, God . . .” 


Intellectually, Dr. Sam Beckett, quantum physicist and inventor of a working time machine, knew that he could not be violated in this way.  He knew that what Jupiter saw and felt was the physical aura of a fifteen-year-old girl.  He knew that, for him, this was not real, just like he had never really been seconds away from giving birth.  And yet . . .


At that moment, Sam Beckett did what he had never done in all his hundreds of Leaps through time.  He harnessed the power of the sophisticated computer that was his mind – the mind of a sort that comes along once in a generation, maybe several generations – and turned it off.  Pressed the switch and let it go dark.  Stepped aside and left the body, both his and Domino’s, empty. 


The assault on Domino lasted less than a minute.  When it was over, Jupiter rearranged his clothing, watching the seemingly-catatonic girl with loathing.  “Be at the Aces in one hour,” he spat, releasing her jaw.  He picked up the underpants and tossed them onto the still body, then carefully made his way up the stairs and let himself out the front door of the building.





“Admiral,” Ziggy said suddenly, and with a strange tone that made Al sit straight up in his chair.  He had fallen into deep sleep with his head on his desk, while re-examining all the reports surrounding Domino’s death.   


“Yeah, I’m awake,” he said, in a voice made even more gravelly than usual by sleep.  The digital clock on the telephone said it was a quarter past three in the morning. 


“I thought I should report that I lost neural contact with Dr. Beckett for three minutes and six seconds.”  If Al didn’t know better, he would have sworn that Ziggy sounded distressed.


“Whaddya mean, ‘lost contact’? He Leaped?”


“No, Admiral,” the computer answered, without even a trace of impatience, Al noticed with alarm.  If Sam had Leaped, she would have said so.  The fact that Ziggy let an opportunity to point this out pass by was troubling.  “I was monitoring Dr. Beckett’s brain waves as I always do, and they simply stopped.  They restarted three minutes and six seconds later.  There was no indication of cardiac arrest, or any other condition of death, only an interruption of the brain wave signal.”


Al was already heading out the door toward the Control Room.  “Explanation?”


“I have none, Admiral.”




“I would have been able to measure Dr. Beckett’s neural activity even if he were in a coma, up until the moment of death.  This interruption is not consistent with that scenario,” Ziggy responded without answering the question posed.


If Ziggy didn’t even want to guess, it had to be bad.  “Get the programming team in here, now.  And run a diagnostic.” 




Sam pushed open the door to Cristina’s apartment with arms that felt like lead.  The doctor, emerging from the bathroom, stopped and gasped.  Madre de Dios! Brady!” she called into the bedroom, before crossing the small living space to draw the girl inside.  A trickle of blood ran down from Sam’s nose, and he clutched the cotton underwear balled up in his hand. 


“What happened?” Cristina asked, reaching for her medical bag. 


“Jupiter,” Sam whispered dully.  “In the basement.” 


And in that instant, Cristina knew.  She had seen that shattered expression too damn many times in her career, the turned-away face, the clenched fists, the deep swallow that was the only thing keeping the girl from screaming.  “Oh, sweetie...”  She looked at Brady, who hadn’t moved from the bedroom doorway.  He was in his undershirt, obviously preparing for bed.  “Brady, come on, we’ve got to get her to the hospital.”


He gazed at her.  “What for?”


She shot him a sizzling glare.  “For a rape exam.  Remember?  That’s your job.”


Brady didn’t move.  “I need a shower,” Sam said.


“No, sweetie, that will destroy the evidence.  Brady, will you do something?!”    


The detective ducked into the bathroom briefly and started the water running into the tub.  “Let her have a shower, Cris.  There’s no point in dragging her down to Mercy.  The kid’s been violated enough as it is.”


“What are you talking about?  You’re not going to -  He raped her, Brady!”


Brady folded his arms.  Keeping his voice level, he replied, “Can you even rape someone who sells her body on the street every night?  Even if I did arrest him, what am I supposed to charge the guy with, stealing?  No DA would touch this case.  It’s just not right to drag the kid into the system, humiliate her even more than she has been, when you know good and goddamn well that nobody is going to do anything about it.  The DA would trash can this file before the ink dried.”


Furious, both because she knew Brady wasn’t going to cooperate, and because she knew he was right, Cristina stomped past him into the bedroom and slammed the door as hard as she could.  Brady noticed that Domino didn’t even flinch at the sound.  He indicated the steamy bathroom with his chin.  “Go take a shower, kid.  And then get some sleep.” With that, he went into the bedroom to see if he could talk the doctor down off her ledge. 


Sam stood alone in the middle of the room, blood drying on his face.  He stared at the kitchen chair where Brady’s suit jacket hung.  Draped over it was the shoulder holster containing the detective’s service weapon.  Sam glanced at the closed bedroom door, then back at the gun.  Moving quietly, he unclipped the holster and drew the weapon.  Deep inside his Swiss-cheesed brain, he remembered that he was a fair shot.  His tennis shoes made no sound as he let himself out of the apartment and moved silently down the stairs. 


“Be at the Aces in one hour,” Jupiter had ordered. 


‘Oh, you bet your ass I will,’ Sam thought. 




Al paced the Control Room like a ferocious tiger, an unlit cigar clenched between his teeth.  “What the hell is taking so long?” he demanded for the fifth time in fifteen minutes.  Dr. Sammy Jo Fuller, keeping an extraordinary rein on her own frazzled nerves, answered, as she had each previous time, “We have to run the complete diagnostic three times, you know that, Admiral.  If there’s a glitch in the system, even a small one, not only could we lose the lock on Dr. Beckett, but the whole Imaging Chamber could be knocked off-line, with you in it!”


“How much longer?” the Observer asked in a significantly calmer voice. 


“Five minutes.”


“Admiral, Dr. Beckett has changed history,” Ziggy said suddenly.  The computer had not yet lost that worried tone.  “Dawn Marie Nash is no longer found dead on the morning of October 13, 1981, and Detective Shaun Brady does not kill Cedric ‘Jupiter’ Alphonse that night.”


“Do even I want to hear this?” Al asked, covering his eyes and bracing himself.


“No.  In twelve minutes, Dawn Marie Nash, also known as Domino, will shoot Cedric ‘Jupiter’ Alphonse dead.  She will then be tried as an adult, convicted of second degree murder, and sentenced to fifteen years to life in state prison.”


“Oh, hell,” Al said.




Brady had said that Jupiter’s club, Aces, was on O’Farrell Street.  Sam trudged down the main drag, glancing up at the street signs as he went.  The light drizzle began to soak through his sweatshirt, making him shiver.  He made sure the gun’s safety was still on, and slid it into the large, deep pocket on the side of his skirt. 


A garish gold Camaro drove past him on the empty street.  The rear brake lights glowed red, and then the white reverse lights came on.  The car peeled rubber backing down the street and stopped next to Sam.  The window came down, revealing three very young men, nineteen or twenty years old, obviously well on their way to Stupid Drunk Land.  Sam ignored them and kept walking. 


“Hey!” the driver called, slamming the car into first and cruising along beside Sam.  “Don’t walk away, we’ve got a proposition for you!”  The other two kids agreed loudly. 


Sam kept walking. 


“Didn’t you hear me?” the driver persisted, leaning across his buddy in the passenger seat, one wrist cocked over the top of the steering wheel to keep the car moving straight.  “We’ll give you a hundred bucks to do all three of us.”  The two passengers cracked up laughing, throwing themselves back in their seats as if this were the funniest thing anyone had ever suggested.   


When Sam gave no indication that he had even heard, the driver sped up a little and turned the car, blocking Sam’s progress.  “You listening, bitch?” he said in a harder tone.  “I have a hundred dollars that says get your hooker ass in the car and give us some service.”  The front passenger door began to open.


“Yeah, service with a smile,” the back seat passenger added.


Sam turned toward the car and pulled out the gun, aiming it straight at the front seat passenger’s temple.  The young man froze.  “Get lost,” Sam said tonelessly and with absolutely no expression on his face. 


Panicked, the driver stomped on the accelerator and squealed off down the street.  Sam watched the car fishtail around the next corner, then pocketed the gun again and kept walking. 




The shower had been running for twenty-five minutes, and Cristina was starting to get concerned.  Judging from the steam billowing out through the slightly open door of the bathroom, it was likely that Domino had been reduced to a prune-like mass by now.  Still, the doctor hesitated to knock on the door, knowing that what the girl must crave now was privacy.  Rape victims often spent inordinate amounts of time bathing, trying desperately to cleanse themselves of the taint of the assault.  She waited a few more minutes. 


In the bedroom, Brady sat listening to the water running and shook his head grimly.  He had made some progress with Domino tonight, he thought, and had felt a flash of hope when he’d heard her refuse to go with Jupiter.  She was on her way out of the life, he’d thought.  Until that asshole pimp had... dammit!  Why hadn’t he checked the front door to make sure it had closed properly?  Why had he let the girl out of his sight?  Well, he knew that much; he had been thinking about crawling into bed with Cristina for the first time in almost a week, and, frankly, the kid was in the way.  Of course, that great seduction plan went out the window in a flash; nothing would put the doctor in the mood with a traumatized teenager in the next room. 


The bedroom door flew open.  “Brady,” Cristina said urgently, and Brady was on his feet in a second.  Steam crawled along the ceiling of the living room before dissipating, and there was no sign of Domino. 


“I thought she was in the bathroom all this time,” Cristina explained.  “I just went to check on her and discovered she’s gone.  I don’t know how long ago.”


Brady checked the bathroom, and noticed that none of the towels were damp.  The pillows on the couch had not been disturbed.  “Looks like she took off right away,” he said, casting his eyes around the room.  “Where would she go?” he asked himself.  Then his eyes noticed something that was out of place, and his blood ran cold.  “Shit,” he said, picking up the empty holster hanging on the chair.  “She has my gun.  And I know where she went.”




Sam recognized the Aces Club by the tacky neon playing card flashing on the front sign.  It was a strip club, and by the look of the dim interior, it was frequented by those at the very bottom of the evolutionary chart.  The music was loud and heavy; the air was stale with smoke and body funk. 


His prey was seated at a table near the back door.  Jupiter lounged in a red vinyl banquette, smoking a cigarette too small to be legal.  A thin, long-haired woman draped herself across his lap as he ignored her and talked to another man seated across the table from him.  Jupiter’s gaze caught and followed Sam as he crossed the room.  “Well,” he drawled, a grin splitting his face, “it looks like my girl has finally come to her senses.”  His eyes flicked Sam up and down, taking in the baggy sweatshirt and frumpy denim skirt.  “But what the hell are you wearing, girl?  You’re not gonna get any business dressed like that.”  The long-haired woman glanced around and snickered.


“You’re not gonna let her go out like that, are you, Jupiter?” the other man asked, disgusted.


“Naw, Silk, she’s lost me enough money as it is.  Monique,” he said, pushing the woman off of his lap, “go get Domino something decent to wear.”


Monique pouted, “She can’t wear none of my clothes.  We ain’t the same size.”


Jupiter gave her a pointed look.  “Do what I say.  Just find something that ain’t too big.  And get her a pair of shoes, too.”  He shoved Monique in the direction of the back door. 


“I have to talk to you,” Sam said levelly. 


“About what?” Jupiter leaned back in the seat and regarded Sam as if he were gum on the bottom of the pimp’s expensive shoe. 


“Outside,” Sam answered, and turned to walk toward the door. 


Offended that Domino would turn her back on him, Jupiter slid out of the banquette and grabbed Sam’s arm.  Immediately, Sam pushed Jupiter away with all of his strength – which was not much at all – and drew the gun, pointing it at Jupiter’s head, not more than three feet away.  The pimp froze, his instinct for self-preservation kicking in.  All conversation stopped, although the music thumped on. 


“Hey, hey,” Jupiter coaxed, hands up in mock-surrender.  “There’s no need to get crazy, girl.  Let’s sit down and talk about this, huh?”  He lowered himself back onto the edge of the vinyl bench where he had been sitting, keeping his hands in plain sight. 


Sam saw a slight movement from off to the side, and disengaged the safety with a flick of his thumb.


 “Nobody move!” Jupiter ordered, beginning to get the inclination that Domino wasn’t bluffing.  And he knew just enough about his whores to want to avoid pissing off one holding a loaded gun.


Sam stood his ground just out of Jupiter’s reach.  The record ended, and the disc jockey, mesmerized, did not have the presence of mind to put on another.  Silence reigned. 




“Whaddya mean you haven’t got a lock yet?” Al demanded, seconds away from breaking the No Cigar Smoking In The Control Room rule.  His finger hovered over the handlink, ready to open the Imaging Chamber door. 


“Five more seconds, Admiral,” Ziggy replied calmly, then added, “you may enter the Chamber now.” 


“Center me on Sam as soon as you can,” Al ordered, stepping into the white light. 




There was a screech of tires and the slam of a car door outside on O’Farrell Street, and then Brady burst into the club.  He took in the tableau in an instant:  the stone cold steady teenager holding a gun – his gun – with her arm fully extended and her finger on the trigger; the shocked and wary pimp, frozen, still holding the joint which was now burning down to his fingertips; the few other “patrons” all holding their collective breath, waiting to see if a murder would happen in front of their eyes.


Hot on his heels, Al appeared out of a square of white light, and nearly dropped his cigar in astonishment when he realized what he was seeing. 


If Sam heard the opening of the Chamber door, he gave no indication.  But his eyelids flickered slightly when Al breathed, “Sam, what are you doing, buddy?”


“Domino, what are you doing?” Brady asked at the same time.


“I’m going to kill this piece of shit,” Sam said conversationally. 


That’s when Al got worried.  He’d seen Sam hold a weapon on bad guys before, and knew that the scientist would only shoot if it were absolutely the last resort, if his life, or someone else’s, were on the line.  He’d seen Sam angry before, and had watched and listened as Sam overcame his anger to persuade someone to do or not to do something.  But he had never heard such venom in Sam’s voice, nor seen such a frigid, bitter expression on his face as now. 


Except once.  As Lee Harvey Oswald, Sam had worn the same empty countenance as he prepared to shoot the President of the United States.  Nothing Al had said, or screamed, that day had made any impression on Sam as he had sighted the long-range rifle and squeezed the trigger. 


Oh, my God, Al thought, this time they have pushed you over that line.  “Sam,” he said, keeping his voice neutral, “put the gun down.   You can’t shoot this nozzle.”


“Of course I can,” Sam answered.


“Domino,” Brady moved closer, “you pull that trigger, and you’ll end up in prison for twenty years.”


“He’s right, Sam,” Al added quickly, “you kill this guy, and Domino gets convicted of second degree murder.  She gets sentenced to fifteen to life.”


“Maybe,” Sam allowed, “but this asshole will still be dead.”  He brought his left hand up to steady the gun and control the recoil.


The detective inched forward, noticing with alarm that Jupiter was beginning to panic.  One foolish twitch, and the pimp was a dead man.  “Domino. Let’s talk about this.  Give me the gun.”


“You’ve already made it clear that I don’t matter,” Sam pointed out, his gaze never straying from his target.  “You’re not ever going to do anything about him.”  Beads of perspiration began to roll down Sam’s face and sting his eyes.  He blinked them away.  “He can shoot me up, turn me out, even assault me, and you’re not ever going to arrest him or prosecute him or anything.  A strung-out teenaged whore doesn’t matter at all.”


“Sam, what happened to you,” Al breathed, figuring that something traumatic must have occurred during those the three missing minutes to produce this cold, murderous rage.


“Domino, we can work this out.  I can try to make a case – ” Brady’s promises were cut short by the sudden motion of Jupiter launching himself at Sam.


Years of martial arts training, including judo and tae kwon do, kicked in.  The disciplines Sam had studied emphasized momentum and focus over strength, which was fortuitous, because Sam was still as weak as a kitten. Without thinking, Sam stepped aside and used Jupiter’s off-balance advance to flip his opponent and send him crashing, face down, to the floor.  The next instant found the muzzle of the gun pressed firmly against the back of Jupiter’s shaved head. 


Brady cursed. 


“Saaa-aam,” Al pleaded, his raspy voice turning his friend’s name into a two-syllable word, “don’t do this. Ziggy says if you shoot this guy, Brady will get busted down anyway, for failure to secure his service weapon.  He still quits, and he still dies in five years in that construction accident.”


Jupiter closed his eyes and did what any scumball would do when faced with the last moments of his life.  He began to babble.  “Baby girl, you know, you don’t have to do this.  I’ve been good to you.  I gave you everything.  If it wasn’t for me, you’d still be sitting in the bus stop in Portland, eating garbage out of the dumpster.  I’m the one drove you down here.  I’m the one who set you up in Frisco.  You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for me.”


From several feet away, Al could see Sam shaking, a fine trembling as his rage fought against his better nature.  “You have to die,” Sam replied, and tightened his grip on the gun. 


“Jupiter, you are under arrest for violations of the Mann Act,” came Brady’s strong voice from behind Sam.  “You have the right to remain silent, and if you give up that right  . . .” 


Sam looked up, confusion on his face, as the detective droned on.  He was so bewildered that he did not resist as Brady reached down and gently removed the gun from his hand.  Before he knew it, he was standing to the side as Brady cuffed Jupiter, who was still lying on the floor, and performed a protective pat down of the pimp’s clothing. 


“You did it, Sam,” Al said quietly, walking over to where his friend was standing, still trembling. 


“I – I don’t understand,” Sam whispered, puzzled.


Sirens shrieked outside the club and three uniformed police officers charged in, weapons drawn.  They lowered their guns as they realized that Brady had already made an arrest and secured his suspect. 


“You did it,” Al repeated, peering at the handlink, “and just in time, too.  Those cops there are responding to an anonymous tip by some guy on a payphone, reporting that some girl threatened him and his friends with a gun.”  He looked up at Sam for an explanation, but his friend was still watching Jupiter’s apprehension, perplexed.


“Al,” he asked softly, “what’s the Mann Act?” 


The Observer studied him.  “It’s a federal crime, Sam, to bring a minor over state lines for purposes of sexual activity, particularly prostitution.  Jupiter just admitted in front of witnesses that he was the one who brought Domino from Oregon to California, and turned her into a hooker.”  He read the information Ziggy sent to the handlink with a smirk.  “He’s convicted on four counts, on the testimony of Domino and three other girls, and he gets sent away for thirty-five years.” 


“What happens to Brady,” Sam asked, remembering Ziggy’s original theory.  The detective was turning Jupiter over to the uniforms for transport to the station to be booked. 


“Oh, Brady stays on the force for a few more years,” Al said, squinting at the handlink.  “He starts an organization dedicated to getting teenaged girls and boys off the street and back with their families, or at least out of prostitution.  In a couple of years, when the AIDS epidemic hits, he retires from the force to run the organization full-time.  The foundation that Cristina Alvarez runs starts a partnership with Brady’s organization, and they focus on AIDS and HIV education and prevention among the teenaged street population.  He gets married, not to Dr. Alvarez, and has a couple kids.”


“And Domino?”


The handlink squawked, and squealed again as Al smacked the side with his hand, not because the gadget was malfunctioning – it hardly ever did that anymore – but out of sheer frustration.  “Come on, you... Ziggy’s got nothing.  Domino testifies at Jupiter’s federal trial, but then she disappears completely.  Her remains aren’t returned in ninety-nine, there’s just nothing.”


Al continued to argue with the Project computer.   Sam watched Brady approach.  “Are you okay, Domino?” Brady asked, concern in his eyes.


“Yeah,” Sam answered quietly.  “Look, I’m sorry about taking your gun – ”


“No, I owe you an apology, Domino,” Brady interrupted.  “You were right. I didn’t treat you like you counted for anything.  And I let that predator roam around for way too long.  It wasn’t right what he did to you, and I shouldn’t have made you feel like you didn’t deserve justice.”  He reached out a hand, letting the girl decide if she wanted to be touched.  “Come on, Domino, I’ll take you back to Cristina’s before I head to the precinct to start on the paperwork.”


Sam paused, glanced at Al for a second, and then drew a deep breath.  “It’s Dawn.  My name is Dawn Marie Nash, and I’m from Spokane, Washington.  Maybe – maybe tomorrow morning, when you get back, we can call my mom and dad?”


“Yeah,” replied Brady, nodding and starting to smile.  “We can do that.”  Sam put his hand out and made contact. 


“’Bye, Sam,” Al said, and Sam Leaped. 






He was exhausted.  Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.  Admiral Albert Calavicci had felt this way several times within his lifetime, but none quite so gripping, at least he thought, until now.  The leaps were, he was sure, doing the same to Sam, but even Sam got brief periods of rest.  Al didn’t feel that he ever got that brief period to even do that.  Between the concern of Sam’s mission on his leap, the prodding patience he had to have with not only Ziggy but also the leapee, working with the staff to make a cohesive team, sorting through all the paperwork that kept piling up on his desk and dealing with the committee to make sure P.Q.L. was still up and running within the limits that they set, Al didn’t feel that he ever got that brief period to rest.  In fact, he was up to his eyeballs in so much baggage, that he was ready to drop it at the entrance of his quarters.  Even at two in the afternoon, he found himself zoning in on one target – his bed. He had admittedly been burning the candle at both ends and his expression only proved it.


Walking into his quarters, Al smiled lightly as Beth came out of the bedroom with a surprised look on her face.  “You’re home early,” she said before her face took on a hint of concern. “Are you feeling well, Al?”  She immediately went to him and placed her hand on his brow to find out the answer to the question she hadn’t even asked.


Patiently, Al let his wife continue with her “duties” as physician/mom before he spoke.  “I’m tired.  I came in early so I could get some shut eye.”


Beth grinned at her husband as she took his hand and led him back toward their bedroom.  Letting go of his hand, Beth began, “Come on, flyboy, get out of those clothes and get comfy on that bed.” Giving her husband a knowing smile, she turned and went into the bathroom.


Al was so tired; he didn’t even bother with an innuendo for his wife.  He complied with her directions, and dressed in only his boxers, he crawled into bed, let out a sigh and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.


Beth reentered their bedroom and smiled knowingly at her husband as he lightly snored.  Moving to him, Beth leaned down and kissed his cheek.  “Sleep well, Al. I love you.”



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