Episode 1215
Crimson Reflections

November 2, 2006

Albuquerque and Stallions Gate, New Mexico


Al can't seem to work out a problem—something linked to one of Sam's leaps—that keeps invading his private life. To rid himself of the predicament, he must search out the source of the problem and confront it face to face.

Written By:

M. J. Cogburn

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.




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.  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 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 in 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 adoringly at her husband as he lightly snored.  Moving to him, Beth leaned down and kissed his cheek.  “Sleep well, Al. I love you.”




It hadn’t been more than thirty minutes when there was a shout from within the Calavicci’s quarters.  Beth rushed into her bedroom to look at her husband sitting up in bed, his hands at his face as he tried to scrub the dream away from his memory.


“Al?” a concerned Beth asked when she finally got to his side.


“It’s that same damn dream, Beth,” Al simply replied as he brought his hands down to look at them in his lap.  “I can’t seem to get that image out of my brain.”


Beth sat down on the bed near her husband’s knees and placed her hand on his.  “You know that Sam would never commit suicide, Al.”


“I know, Beth,” Al said as he yanked his hand away from her a bit aggravated at himself.  He brought his hands to either side of his temples and massaged lightly.  “I know—I know that Sam Beckett would never even think of suicide.  The physical act of hurting oneself—it’s not Sam’s style.  I know without a doubt that he’d never do that and yet…”


“You saw him do it during that leap,” Beth completed the thought for him.


“Yeah.”  Al let out a small sigh.


“Al, Marilyn Hicks was very ill.  She was severely depressed.  She felt that she had killed her own boyfriend.  She…”


“You can give me every reason you can, Beth, for Marilyn Hicks to do what she did, but it doesn’t excuse it.  It’s still a…”


“A sin?”


Al didn’t answer his wife, but he did scramble out of the bed.  He didn’t want to get into a theological discussion with her.  He just wanted to get the image out of his head so he could sleep at night without thinking of Sam cutting his throat. 


The act itself of Sam doing such a thing was disturbing him, but even more so was Marissa Johnson giving the blade to Marilyn Hicks and watching maliciously as she committed the deed.


Without stopping to don his robe, Al walked into the living room and looked around the room for a brief moment before he turned and headed toward the bathroom.


“Al, you could talk with…”

“Verbena?  No,” Al shook his head at his wife not wanting to discuss anything with her.  At the moment, he just wanted the image of Sam cutting his throat out of his minds-eye.  Al washed his face with cold water, deciding he was going to stay awake.


Beth stood in the doorway of their bathroom as she watched him for several minutes.  “What are you doing, Al?”


“I’m getting up,” Al replied before he sprayed a sizeable amount of shaving cream in his palm, rubbed his hands and began to apply the cream to his face.


Patiently, Beth looked at her watch.  “You’ve only slept…”


“I know, Beth.”


“This dream is starting to become obsessive.  You’re letting it take control over you.  This has got to stop, Al.”


“Beth—drop it,” Al replied as he looked at his wife for a brief moment, his eyes’ telling her that he was done discussing the issue.


Beth met her husband’s gaze and pressed her lips together, then let out a sigh.  As Al began to shave, Beth left her post at the door and went into the living room where she plopped down on the sofa.  Folding her arms over her chest, she looked up at the ceiling.  “Ziggy?”


“Yes, Ms. Calavicci?” came the soft purr from the parallel-hybrid computer.


“How many hours has Al slept in the last week?”


Ziggy responded without hesitation.  “Twenty-eight hours.”


Beth closed her eyes.  Her husband wasn’t getting the sleep his body demanded to have and he was going to crash hard when he finally came down from the so-called-self-induced high.


She hadn’t kept track of how many times Al had mentioned the dream he was having, but she knew that ever since the leap where Marilyn Hicks succeeded in killing herself, Al had repeatedly had that dream at least once or twice a week—when he slept at all.  She was more than worried about her husband and now, every time they’d start to talk about it, he’d snap at her.

Sitting back on the corner of the couch, Beth brought her legs up and hugged them to her.  She knew there wasn’t any use in arguing with her husband or trying to get him to talk with Verbena.  Al would hold onto whatever was bugging him and deal with it in his own way.


She looked up at him as he walked into the room now fully dressed. She wavered on saying something to make him lie back down, but just by the set of his jaw, Beth knew that she didn’t need to push it.


“I’ll be back later,” Al remarked as he entered the room.  Moving to her, Al knew that she wanted him to go lay back down, but he knew himself too well.  He’d pick up the dream and re-live that moment over again.  Seeing his best friend cut his throat over and over again was not something that Al wanted.  Leaning down, he placed a kiss on his beloved’s lips, straightened, gave her a small smile and left.


Beth smiled back at her husband then leaned her head in her hand and wondered how he was going to deal with the situation his mind wasn’t letting him let go of.





Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico

Wednesday, November 1, 2006


Admiral Albert Calavicci dressed in a rather conservative dark blue suit with a multicolored shirt underneath headed toward his office.  He wanted to be close by when Ziggy sounded the alarm that Sam had leaped.  It had been only two hours since Sam had leaped, but usually about the time that Al claimed that he needed sleep was about the time Sam would leap into a new situation, starting the whole ball of wax all over again.


Seeing the two guards Daniel Fulton had placed on the office level, Al couldn’t help but slightly grin as he started into his office.  Daniel had upped his security team ever since Sam had met Professor Albright.  Daniel had also wanted to make sure that things stayed on the up and up.  It didn’t bother Al.  He was used to the teamwork at the project and was proud of the over-achieving man who had recently had a little baby girl.


Al shook his head slightly as he closed the door behind him.  Samantha was still on maternity leave and would be so for a while.  Just the thought of Isabella made Al smile.  She reminded him of his own daughters and remembered how proud he was when he held them in his arms.


Moving to his desk, Al yawned as he sat down.  Blinking to ward off the sleep that was trying to overtake him, Al leaned forward and pushed the ‘on’ button.  As he heard his computer boot up, Al waited somewhat patiently as he strummed his fingers on the desk.  When the computer asked for his password, Al typed it in, and then waited for the computer again to load his settings.




“Yes, Admiral Calavicci?” the parallel hybrid computer answered silkily.


Something that Beth had said seemed to filter through his sleep-deprived brain and he rubbed at his face lightly with his right hand.  “Pull up everything you have on Marilyn Hicks and on obsessive disorders.  Display it on my laptop, please.”


“One moment, Admiral.”


Even as the information came onto his computer screen, Al wasn’t sure exactly why he had asked Ziggy to pull up the information.  Cupping his chin and leaning into his hands, Al looked at the screen as he wondered what was going on with him.  It bothered him not to be in control—to have a dream fixate as this one was—it didn’t make any sense.  What was it that was driving him to dream about his best friend killing himself?  What was it that he had to solve? Or did he?


Blowing out a breath of air and leaning his head slightly to the left, Al looked at the information that Ziggy had given him.  He shook his head.  He went through several of the data files.  The definitions and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders seemed helpful, but Al wasn’t sure how they aided his situation.  Not quite sure what to say or do, Al leaned back in his chair.  Pursing his lips, he wondered, and then acted on his thought.  “Ziggy, do me a favor.  Cross reference every person that dealt with Marilyn Hicks and obsessive compulsive disorders.”


The computer screen seemed to have a mind of its own as Ziggy closed down web browsers and brought others out with listings and percentages listed behind them. 


“Now, eliminate the lower forty-nine percent files, Zig.”  Once the files were gone, Al settled into his seat and began reading as he did his level best to keep himself awake.




Al checked his watched for the tenth time and the antsy feeling crawling up the back of his neck wasn’t to be endured a second longer.  Whirling around to face the Control Panel across the room, he ordered, “Dominic…”


“Beginning sequencing,” Ziggy’s voice purred.  “The Imaging Chamber will be online in forty-two point seven three seconds.”


Al barely swallowed the rest of what he’d been about to yell at the Chief Programmer, but he managed it nonetheless.  While Ziggy counted down the remaining seconds, he rushed over to grab the handlink now being offered to him.  Snatching it from Dom’s hand, Al turned and rushed up the ramp and into the Imaging Chamber, quickly stepping onto the small central pad in the vast chamber.


“Come on, come on,” he muttered urgently.  “I’ve got a bad feeling about Sam.”  Two seconds ticked by.  “COME ON!” he yelled. As if it had been waiting for that cue, the large sound of the sequencer came to life and a slow moving tornado of past time began to swirl around Admiral Calavicci.


“Hang on, Sam,” he whispered into the increasing volume of swirling time and noise.  “I’m coming, buddy.  I’m coming.”


Suddenly, the image swirling around the Admiral stopped and settled around him leaving him in the corner of the hospital room, facing the wall.  “Sam?” he called out as he quickly turned around.  His eyes grew wide in astonishment and his heart skipped a beat as he saw what his best friend was about to do.


“NO!  SAM!  NO!” he screamed as he started toward the bed.  “SAM!  PUT THAT DAMN THING DOWN! NOW!”


Al watched as Sam swallowed as his eyes slowly lowered toward the bed.  He couldn’t help but wince as Sam did the same from the little pressure that he put against his neck.  Then seeing the trickle of blood, Al knew that he had to do something to stop his best friend from doing such a desperate futile act.  Hearing the sound of the door, Al turned to see Marissa Johnson entering the room. 


As the door whispered shut behind her, Al couldn’t believe how Marissa’s compassionate expression faded to be replaced by one of cold revenge as her eyes fixed immediately on the sight of Marilyn—sitting on the bed, the razorblade at her neck, blood already beginning to trickle, slowly then steadily faster and faster down her neck and starting to stain her hospital gown crimson.


“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” was her only response to the frightened emotionally exhausted and lost girl trying to call out to her.


“WHAT!?” Al exclaimed as he turned quickly to look at her.  “Why you… bitch!” Al screamed then quickly turned back to Sam.  “Sam… listen to me, buddy.  You don’t wanna do this.  You don’t!  Just… dammit, Sam, take your hand away!  We can stop this!  Sam?  Listen to me, Sam!”  Al called out in desperation.  Anger and frustration came to a head for Al rather quickly, but it didn’t matter how much he tried, he couldn’t reach Sam.  “Dammit, he’s not listening to me.”


Al couldn’t help but watch the scene play out before his eyes as Marissa walked slowly to the bed.  She stopped at the foot of the bed and folded her arms across her chest looking calmly at the teen.


Al’s eyes flew back to Sam as he shook his head sadly, the tears falling faster as he said, “I… I’m sorry.”  Al couldn’t believe it as Sam closed his eyes and with one quick motion swiped the blade across his throat. 


“NO!” Al screamed as he rushed to his buddy’s side and tried to grab at Sam’s arm.  If he hadn’t been a hologram, Al knew exactly what he would have done to prevent what was happening to Sam right now.  As his hand passed through Sam’s arm, instant hot tears came to Al’s eyes.  “God… no!  You can’t let this happen!”


He looked to the one person in the room that could take care of his best friend and saw how Marissa just stood there, not moving a muscle for several long precious moments.  Al opened his mouth to say something to Marissa as she moved around to the right side of the bed.  He watched as she used a Kleenex to carefully pick up the razorblade, wrap it and tuck it carefully into her denim jacket.  Al’s mouth opened in utter shock and he immediately despised the young woman before him.


The last words he ever heard Marissa Johnson utter were said so coldly that they echoed in his head.  “At last, you finally did something right,” she said coldly then turned and left the room.


The hand that touched Admiral Albert Calavicci’s shoulder made the retired officer flinch awake.  He lifted his head from the desk and wearily rubbed at his face before looking up to see the confused guards pensively looking down at him.  Sniffing, he swallowed then asked, “Yes?”


“Sorry if we are intruding, sir, but we heard you hollering.  Are you okay, Admiral?”


“Nothing that a good batch of sleep can’t cure, Corporal.  Go back to your posts, guys.  I appreciate the attention, but,” Al slowly stood up, his back tightening as he did so from the odd way he had been sleeping on his desk, “I’m fine.”  Seeing them nodding and turning to leave, Al slowly sank back into his chair.  He yawned, and then shook his head.  “Zig? How long have I slept?”


“Thirty minutes, Admiral Calavicci.”


Al winced.  He needed more than thirty minutes of nightmare filled dreams to get some rest.  Sighing, he picked up the phone.  He didn’t want to do this, but it had to be done.  Hearing the phone ring twice, he waited and let it ring one more time.


“Dr. Lofton, speaking,” she answered with a smile.


“Aurora, it’s Al.  I need…”


Aurora smiled lightly as she heard Al’s raspy voice on the other end of the line. When Beth had called her thirty minutes ago, telling her about Al’s sleeping patterns, she had known that Admiral Calavicci would call.  “Yes?” she calmly asked when he paused in his request.


“Do you have any sleeping meds available?”


“Sure do, Al,” she answered softly.  “Does the leapee need them?” she asked giving him an out if he wanted one.


Al thought for a brief second before he answered her truthfully.  “No.  They’re for… for me.  I can’t sleep.”


Aurora smiled pleased that Al had decided to be truthful with her.  “Come on down when you get a chance.  I’ll give you a few with strict instructions, all right?”


“All right,” Al responded then paused.  “Aurora?”





“I’ve got to take care of my boss, don’t I?” she stated.  “See you in a bit.”


Al hung up the phone then settled back in his chair for a moment as he looked at the screensaver on his computer flicker for a few minutes.  “All right, Beth, you win.”


After getting up and stretching his sore back, Al meandered out into the hallway and thought for a moment about what he was about to do.  He didn’t like talking about what was bugging him, but he knew that he had to do something.  Chewing nervously at his lower lip, Al sighed then turned toward Verbena’s office.  Only a moment passed before he was standing before her door.  Knocking, he paused and waited for admittance.  Hearing her call, Al entered into the room as the door slid upward.


“Hello, Al.  What brings you here today?” Verbena questioned chipperly as she placed her pen down and looked up at the man standing before her.


Standing before her desk, Al lolled his tongue against his teeth for a moment as he thought about his answer.  Finally, he responded with, “Death.”


Verbena’s first response was to blink as she pointed to one of the chairs that were seated in front of her desk.  She watched as a weary Albert Calavicci sat down and looked at her.  “Go on…” she prompted.


Al swallowed and then said, “Uh… well,” he swallowed again uncomfortably before he answered, “Sam committing suicide in particular.”


Verbena nodded her head understandingly.  “Marilyn Hicks.”  Seeing the shocked expression on Al’s face, Verbena pointed to the file that was before her.  “I am working on her file, now.  I thought that I was finished with it some time ago, but something keeps pulling me back to it.  It’s very peculiar that Marissa Johnson acted the way she did, and I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t missed something in my summary.”


“What do you see as peculiar about Marissa Johnson?”


“Well,” Verbena started, “I can understand how she might feel resentful toward Marilyn…” Verbena began.


The scenario of what Al saw played through his memory once again.  “No, Verbena—it wasn’t resentful feelings.  What she said—what she did was vengeful.  It was hatred.  There wasn’t a hint of forgiveness or regret in her eyes.  It was pure evil.”


“See, Al.  I don’t understand that.  Revenge?  It… I guess it could make sense.”


“Pure vindictiveness,” Al stated plain and simple.


“Al, did… when you got to see Marissa interact with Sam—did she seem—compelled to—I don’t know,” Verbena snapped her fingers finally as she found the word she was looking for, “obsessed with Marilyn’s death?”


“She seemed to be.  She said, ‘Finally, you’re doing something right.’”

Al watched as Verbena swung herself back to her computer.  “I need to look up some stuff, Admiral.  You go get some rest and I’ll report back to you in the AM.  Ok?”


Taking her words into consideration and knowing it was the right thing to do, Al nodded and started toward the door.  As he cast a glance back toward Verbena he said, “You know, if you or Zig could find out the problem that seems to be disturbing my rest—it would sure make my life easier.”


Verbena smiled then replied, “Well, we’ll give it a go.  Zig and I have been known to pull a few miracles ourselves.”





Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico

Thursday, November 2, 2006

8:45 AM


It was the first time in weeks that Al had slept through the night undisturbed.  When his head hit the pillow at seven o’clock the previous evening, he hadn’t wiggled an inch on the bed.  His light snore was so calming that Beth even lounged in bed, just lingering long enough to fall back to sleep to wake with a slight ache in her back from being in bed for so long.


Lightly stretching languidly in bed, Beth turned and gently laid her hand on her husband’s arm.  She knew how easily Al could wake and was more than a bit astonished when his eyes didn’t open immediately.  The medication coupled with the much-needed rest was enough to pull him under thoroughly.


Smiling, Beth slightly shook his arm to try to wake him.  “Al?” she called lightly.  “It’s time to wake up, honey.”


Al moaned then turned his head toward her before he opened his eyes and blinked.


“Morning, Sunshine,” Beth told him warmly.


“Mornin’,” Al croaked out groggily, and then cleared this throat.


“Did you sleep well?”  Beth asked as she turned on her side to face her husband.


Al grinned lopsidedly before he reached out and touched her cheek tenderly.  “Better than I have in two weeks,” he murmured as he tried to remember every curve of her face.  “God, you are so beautiful.”


Beth smiled warmly at her husband then shimmied over to him to lay her head on his shoulder as Al’s arm snaked under and around her body to hold her close.  “We should get outta bed,” she said as she cuddled closer to her husband.


“We should?” Al asked with a grin as he held her a little bit closer. 


Even as Al dipped his head to lean down and capture his lovely wife’s lips, a whisper of the parallel-hybrid computer called out to the Admiral.  “Admiral Calavicci?”


Al ignored it and kissed Beth quite thoroughly before he rested his head back at the sound of the computer calling his name for the fourth time.  “Yes, Ziggy?” he finally answered.


“Dr. Beeks requires your presence in her office, Admiral.”


“Now?” Al asked as he looked back at his wife.


“Yes, Admiral Calavicci.  She said that she’s found your miracle.”




It didn’t take Al more than twenty minutes to get out of his bed, shower, dress and present himself at the projects psychiatrist’s office.  Rapping on the door, he waited for the forthcoming ‘enter’, then did just that.  Walking briskly into the office and seeing the weary smile on Verbena’s face told him that she had been hard at work since last night.  Giving her a compassionate concerned gaze, Al queried, “Bena, when did you sleep last?”

Verbena kept her smile as she waved a hand in the air dismissing his question before she pointed to the chair before her.  “I’ve found out some interesting information for you.”


Al settled back in the leatherback chair and leaned slightly against his left elbow as he tilted his head toward her with keen interest.  “Okay, what did you find?”


“When Sam Leaped into Marilyn Hicks, Ziggy ran background checks on her so that you could tell Sam.”  Seeing how Al was nodding, Verbena licked her lips.  “Do you remember what that background was?”


“Yeah,” Al said simply as he straightened up as he vaguely remembered Marilyn Hick’s past.  “She was in a wreck with her boyfriend…”


“Derrick Johnson,” Verbena supplied the young man’s name.


“The car hit a brick barrier or something like that.  She got thrown out of the car and it caught fire.  Derrick was trapped inside.  She couldn’t get him out and he—burned to death.”


“That’s right.  Marilyn Hicks blamed herself for killing her boyfriend.  In the information that Ziggy gave you during that leap, Marilyn Hicks had succeeded in killing herself on…” Verbena looked down at her notes and read, “April 14, 1998—the day that Sam leaped into her.”


Al frowned.  “So, in the grand scheme of things, Sam leaped into her to do what exactly?  She still killed herself, Verbena.”


“True, however, because of Sam leaping into her, she had an extra day to be with the people who loved her.”


“And hated her,” Al responded a bit wryly.


Verbena’s weary smile brightened slightly.  “Which brings me to my next point.”  Seeing Al’s eyes raise in question, she continued.  “During the Leap, we have Ziggy run scans constantly over scenarios in case a situation should arise.  Well, Ziggy only ran scenarios over Marilyn Hicks.  Last night, Ziggy and I dug through paperwork on everyone involved during this leap, especially on Marissa Johnson.”


Verbena noted how Al became pensive and since he hadn’t interrupted her, she continued.  “We knew all of this information on Marilyn and her family, but nothing on the others, so, I asked Ziggy to dip into their personal lives.”


“Bena…” Al began.


Verbena held up her hand to stop the criticism before it began. “I know that I’m not one to snoop into other people’s lives, Al, but I did.  Marissa Johnson’s family was, to put it very mildly, dysfunctional.  No, her parents weren’t abusive in any shape or form, but there is a history there of some,” Verbena waved her hand in the air to try to find the right word and couldn’t, “problems.” Seeing Al’s frown deepen, Verbena licked her lips again.  “Marissa was diagnosed with O. C. D. when she was twelve.”


“O. C. D.?” Al asked concerned.  “What’s that?”


“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” Verbena answered.  “She was treated, given medication so she could overcome a bit of the stress and anxiety she was focusing on in that point in her life.”


“What stress could a twelve year old be going through?” Al asked skeptically.


“At that point in time, Admiral,” Ziggy responded, “Marissa’s parents, Travis and Danessa Johnson, were in marital strife.  The Johnson’s were in the process of divorcing, but when they saw what it was doing to their children, they changed their mind.  The paperwork was never filed.”


Al nodded and chewed on his lower lip deep in thought.  His brow furrowed and he opened his mouth then closed it.


“Go ahead, Al.  Say what’s on your mind,” Verbena insisted warmly.  She was more than pleased that Al was trying to come to the same conclusion that she and Ziggy had come to in the wee morning hours.

Throughout his lifetime in his various careers, Al had to think on his feet.  There were times that his life depended on that ability alone.  Nodding slightly to Verbena’s words, he stood and began his usual four step pace before he spoke.  “So you’re saying this disorder had something to do with how she acted on April 15, 1998?”


“Yes,” Verbena nodded tiredly as she watched him pace back and forth.  Leaning back in her chair, Verbena answered, “It was well after the car wreck when Marissa’s parents found out that their daughter had quit taking her medication.  Thankfully, Marissa’s O. C. D. is not one that’s dangerous—at least not until she became obsessed with her brother’s death.  I’m sure that she felt that Marilyn was to blame and that the guilty had to pay.  Her actions, though severe, were quite logical with what we saw in the Leap.  In her mind, I’m sure she saw the Mosaic saying ‘An eye for an eye’ quite fitting.”


Verbena watched as Al made it back to his chair and then continued.  “In May of 1998, they moved to Albuquerque.  Things didn’t progress well for Marissa and by the end of May she was a resident at the Rehabilitation Hospital of New Mexico.”


“Why was she placed there?”


“It was Marissa’s behavior that keyed her parents that there was a problem.  All Marissa wanted to see, touch, do, wear was—anything that had to do with the color red.”  Verbena couldn’t help but grin at the look that crossed Al’s face at that revelation.  “She painted her room scarlet red.  She wore only dark red clothes. She even began to cut herself so she could see her own blood.  It’s quite possible that the reason for her fixation on the color is because she saw Marilyn slit her throat. Her parents were concerned and placed her in the Rehabilitation Hospital, with the hopes that someone could help their daughter.  Her physician is Dr. Herbert Johnston.  The medication that he gave her is as high as it can be, but she’s still fixated on the color red.”


Verbena stopped for a moment to let the information filter down and settle into the Italian’s thoughts.  She could see that he was processing the facts that had been given to him and was looking for something to utilize. 


For a long moment, Al was silent.  He didn’t know what to say.  His staff was full of amazing people who went out of their way to help others and here was another case of them helping someone—one of their own as well as Marissa Johnson.  Al knew what he needed to do, and he made it a point to do exactly that. Getting up from his chair, he went over to Verbena, pulled her out of her chair, hugged her then told her, “Bena, go to bed.” 


Verbena didn’t have to be told more than once.  She smiled at Al, accepted the hug, returned it, and then kissed his cheek as she straightened up.  “I was researching Marilyn Hicks for one of my own questions to be answered.  It did when you began to have those dreams.  I wanted to find out why Marissa Johnson was so vindictive—and I have my answer.  I hope that this week’s worth of research helped you to…”


“Whoa… whoa, hold up.  What?  A weeks worth of research?” Al asked in amazement.


“When guards come up questioning me about their supervisor’s health, when physicians begin to become concerned about their patient’s sleeping patterns and especially when someone’s wife comes to me and asks if there is anything that I can do—and it’s the same person that they’re all worried about?  Yeah, I’ll stay up past my bedtime and do whatever I can to help one who has helped so many.”  Verbena’s face brightened as she put her hand on his shoulder and she smiled at her boss. “Don’t worry about me, Al.  I’ll get my rest.  Just know that when there is a problem, whether it be with a Leapee or a member of our team, we all pull together to get the job done.”


As he walked with Verbena to the door of her office, Al turned his gaze to her.  Even as he ushered her out, he said, “Thank you, Verbena.  I…”


“Admiral, there is an emergency in the Control Room,” Ziggy’s voice announced hastily, cutting off whatever the Admiral was going to say.


“Did Sam leap?” Al asked as he immediately began to race toward the Control Room with Verbena on his heels.


“No, Admiral,” Ziggy’s voice followed him as he ran down the hallway.


Before Al could ask the next question that had formed in his mind, he was entering the Control Room to see Dr. Aurora Lofton bending over, her arms wrapped around her abdomen, moaning softly and panting.  Recognizing the beginnings of labor, Al raced over to her side where her husband also was talking softly to her.  “Aurora?”


“I’m… sorry to do this…” she panted to her employer, “but… I… ooohhh… Dom,” she whimpered.


Al glanced over at Verbena and then to Dominic, he did the mental math and wondered if Aurora was delivering early.  He wasn’t sure so, he asked, “When’s she due?”


“Anytime,” Dominic whimpered as Aurora clamped down on his hand squeezing as hard as she could.


“Then why are you two still here?” Al asked impatiently before he immediately turned them both around and began helping them down the hallway toward the elevator.


Dominic looked at Al thankfully.  “What if… ow, dammit, Aurora, stop!”


Aurora turned to her husband and succinctly replied, “Then you have the baby!”


Dominic sputtered in response and Al had to bite his bottom lip to stop himself from laughing.  He helped the panting and moaning woman and her husband into the elevator, and then pressed the button for the top floor to take them to his car.  “Ziggy, engage the Emergency Holographic Observer program until I get back from taking Aurora and Dom to the hospital.”


“Yes, Admiral,” Ziggy’s silky voice responded.


“Oh, Al, you don’t…” Dominic started, but a pained facial expression passed over his features as Aurora continued to put pressure against his hand.  After a moment, he whispered, “Thank you.”





Northeast Heights Medical Center

Albuquerque, New Mexico

November 2, 2006

10:17 AM


Al helped the couple get into the Emergency Room at Northeast Heights Medical Hospital.  After telling Dominic that he would let him handle it from there, Al chuckled at the expression on the man’s face before he went outside to move his car from underneath the emergency drive.  Even as he pulled out of the drive, he thought about what he had heard earlier in the day from Verbena.  The Rehabilitation Hospital of New Mexico wasn’t that far away from Northeast Heights Medical Center and before he fully thought about what he was doing, Al was driving back down Montgomery Boulevard Northeast and merging with I-25.  Eight minutes later, he was standing outside of his car looking up at the dark red brick of the Rehabilitation Hospital.


Not quite sure of what he was planning on saying to the hospital staff; he got full directions from the staff on where to locate Dr. Herbert Johnston.  Going to the bank of elevators, he waited patiently until one of them appeared.  After letting others leave, he got in, went to the third floor and headed toward his office.  Stepping in, he scanned the room, taking in the few couples that were sitting on the sofas then went to the nurse’s station in the corner of the room.


“Yes sir, may I help you?” the young nurse on the other side of the desk asked with a small smile.


Al smiled back at her.  “Yes.  I’d like to talk with Dr. Johnston for just a moment, please.”


“Do you have an appointment, sir?” the young woman asked.


“No, but it would only take a few moments of his time.”


“I’m sorry sir, but Dr. Johnston is very busy with his patients.  You’d have to make an appointment.”


Al opened his mouth; about to pull rank on the young woman and demand that he see the doctor immediately, but instead he asked, “Is there a time today that I could talk with him?”


The young woman looked down at the appointment book that was sitting before her and she let her finger run down the list of names and times. “I’m sorry, sir.  But, he doesn’t have an appointment open until,” she turned the page several times then looked up and said to him, “next Friday.  Would you like for me to set an appointment?”


Al shook his head dismally.  “No.  Thank you, miss.”  Al turned away from the desk and started back across the room when he was caught completely and totally off guard.




Albert Calavicci stopped dead in his tracks.  He straightened up and turned his head toward the direction of the feminine voice that had called his name.  Turning he saw a lovely brunette coming to her feet and she was smiling brightly.  He blinked as he looked at her, somehow knowing her face, but not remembering her name.


“Albert Calavicci, I knew it was you the moment you walked in the door.”  The woman couldn’t help but grin.  “What, cat got your tongue or do I need that beaker of green goo from the chemistry department to get your attention again?”


From the mention of the beaker Al immediately recognized her.  “Danessa?”


If it were possible, Danessa’s smile brightened.  She immediately went to him and gave him a brief hug.  Coming out of the embrace, she said, “Oh, Al, how are you doing? I haven’t seen you since MIT!”


Al chuckled.  “It has been some time, hasn’t it?”  He hadn’t seen or heard from Danessa since that one night that they had spent together at MIT cuddling and listening to music after they had done a Chemistry Lab experiment.  He even remembered telling Sam about Danessa when he had Leaped into Tom Stratton.  He looked at her for a long moment remembering that night.


Danessa’s smile diminished some.  “It has.  You’re here to see, Dr. Johnston?  Is everything okay, Al?”


It was in that moment that a tall, blonde headed man came up and wrapped his arm rather possessively around Danessa.  “I certainly hope that my wife isn’t being too friendly with a stranger,” he remarked with a slight smile showing that he wasn’t offended but cautious.


“Oh, I’m sorry,” Danessa replied as she looked lovingly up to her husband.


Al didn’t want to cause any marital strife between the two and held out his hand to the man.  “Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci,” he said when the gentleman took his hand in a firm handshake.


“Rear Admiral?” Danessa slightly whistled.  “Very impressive.  Al, this is my husband, Travis Johnson.”


“Johnson, is it?  That’s a drastic change from… Rutkauskas,” Al said as it finally clicked that he was talking to Marissa Johnson’s parents.  He couldn’t believe his luck.  He glanced up at Travis and saw the man look down at his wife rather protectively.  That was when he decided to go ahead and put the other man at ease.  “My last name hasn’t changed, but my life certainly has since we were at MIT.”


“Oh, how so?” Danessa asked with interest.


Al quickly dug into his back pocket and pulled out the pictures of his family.  Holding it out and showing them, he said, “I’m married.  This year is our forty-fifth anniversary.  We have four daughters and I hope more grandchildren on the way.”


Danessa grabbed Al’s wallet and looked at the pictures, cooing as she looked at each of the girls in turn.  “They’re beautiful, Al.” 


Al smiled proudly as he wracked his brain for something to say to keep the conversation going with the Johnson’s.  He didn’t want it to shrivel up and then demand to see their daughter.  “Well, I think so, but I’m biased.”  Licking his lips, he asked, “What about you, Danessa?  Do you have any kids?” 


Danessa lightly bowed her head then looked back up into Al's gaze.  "Three, actually."  Danessa quickly stole a glance at her husband before she went back to her purse and pulled out her wallet.  Opening it, she showed Al a single picture of all three of her kids.  She pointed to each one of them as she named them.  "Derrick, Hale and Marissa."  She paused then pointed back to the tall, handsome blonde that resembled her husband.  "Derrick--passed away in 1998," she said with a soft catch in her voice.


Immediate sympathy pains filled Al as he looked at the woman that he had dated when he was in MIT.  It pained him to know that she was still battling with her child's death even eight years later.  "Oh, Danessa, I'm... I'm so sorry," he said as he took a step toward her.  Looking up at Travis who had once again put his arm around his wife, Al also gave him a sincere, heartfelt, sympathetic look.


Seeing Travis's lips press into a thin line as he looked away, Al wasn't sure exactly what to say or do, but it seemed that Danessa wasn't going to let her depression pull her down.  He remembered her as a strong individual and he was glad that though time passed by, that she hadn't really changed. 


Clearing her throat, Danessa said, "Thank you, Al.  I appreciate your sympathy.  It's a bit of the reason why we are here at Dr. Johnston's."


"Danessa," Travis said as he slightly tightened his hand on her hip trying to get her attention.


Turning to her husband, she said, "Travis, Al Calavicci is a friend of mine."  Turning back to the man before her, she smiled warmly at her classmate.  "I'd trust anything in his hands."


Al blinked at her words, more than a bit surprised.  Sure, they had dated when they were at MIT, but they hadn't consummated any part of a relationship.  They were friends, first and foremost, and now that he thought on it more, Danessa hadn't let it go any farther than that.  He respected her for that.


"Hale is fine.  He's a successful attorney now, always fighting the system.  Marissa, however, isn't so good.  She's having problems with O. C. D."  She watched as Al nodded his head understandingly.  "Is that why your here?  To get information for one of your children?" she asked carefully.


"Oh no," Al answered honestly, knowing that he'd have to fib at some point to his friend.  "I wanted to interview Dr. Johnston about O. C. D."  He hated that he had to lie to her, but he continued, "I have a paper that I must write and it deals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders."


"What do you want to know, Al?  I know almost as much as Dr. Johnston."


"Well, it's this study is on specific behaviors found in patients of O. C. D.  I was going to see if I could get permission from Dr. Johnston to view and talk with some of his patients," he said as he looked up into the frowning face of Travis Johnson.  It was quite obvious that he didn’t like the idea.


Turning his attention back to Danessa, he said, "I'll just call back in later to talk with him about the possibility."  Al shrugged as he tried to make it out as nothing too terribly important.  "I'd like to interview patients so that I can have accurate data.  But if I can't, that's okay.  I'm sure I can get the information that I need from books."


"How far are you on your report?" Danessa asked.


"You aren't thinking what I think you're thinking, are you Danessa?" Travis asked a little irritated.


"Travis, it wouldn't hurt," he said as she turned her head toward him. 


"Well, I don't like it.  Not one bit," Travis retorted as he took away his hand from her side to fold his arms over his chest.


“Excuse us a moment, won’t you Al,” Danessa asked before she turned to her husband, hooked her arm through his and moved him several steps away from her former classmate.


Al could tell that they were in an adamant discussion by the way that Danessa was talking with her hands and at how Travis was settling back into a defensive posture.  Keeping his eyes low, he was able to act as if he was studying his daughter’s pictures while he was using his peripheral vision to study the conferring couple. Slowly though, he could see her husband starting to nod at her words.  He had no idea what Danessa was telling him, but he hoped that whatever it was that it was working in his favor. 


When he noticed Danessa and Travis beginning to move back to him, Al shifted his position as he placed his wallet back into his back pocket.  “Danessa,” he began as he glanced back up at her.


“Al, we’ve discussed it, and…”


“I hope that I didn’t cause any strife.  I didn’t mean to…”


“Al,” Danessa said as she held up a hand to stop him.  “Please don’t interrupt me.  You were bad about that at MIT.” 


Al had the decency to lightly blush and glance down at the gentle castigation.  “Sorry, Danessa.”


Danessa reached out and gently put her hand on his arm.  “We’ve talked and as long as Dr. Johnston says that it’s okay, then we don’t have a problem with you talking with Danessa.”


Al looked up at her surprised then up at Travis who still didn’t look pleased with the situation.  “I appreciate it, Danessa.  I really do.  Thank you for even considering it.”


“Danessa and Travis Johnson?” the nurse from the window called out into the waiting room. 


The couple turned to their names being called and Travis moved toward the desk as Danessa turned back to Al.  “We’ll go in have our appointment and when we come out, I’ll let you know if it’s okay with Dr. Johnston.”  Leaning forward Danessa placed a kiss on his cheek then turned and hurried toward the desk after her husband.


Al was surprised at Danessa’s actions, but nodded at her words.  He watched as they left the waiting room and hoped for the best.  Taking a deep breath, Al crossed his fingers as he moved to the back wall of the waiting room and sat down.





Rehabilitation Hospital of New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico

November 2, 2006

11:25 AM


Thirty minutes later, Al looked up from the Time Magazine that he was reading to see Danessa and Travis Johnson coming back out into the waiting room from their meeting with Dr. Johnston.  While Travis was making a payment for their visit with the nurse, Danessa came over to Al and gently laid a hand on his arm as she pulled out a sheet of paper from her purse.  “Dr. Johnston said that if you needed to come back to see Danessa again after this first meeting, that all you’d have to do is show this to the supervisor at the nurse’s station on her floor and they’d let you in to see her.”  Danessa paused as she watched him fold the letter and stick it in the pocket of his coat.  Licking her lips, she finally said, “I’d love to introduce you to Marissa, Al.”


“And I’d be honored to meet her,” Al said sincerely as he gazed kindly into her eyes.


Seeing Danessa smile, he turned with her as Travis met up with them. As the three of them moved to the seventh floor of the Rehabilitation Hospital, Danessa quietly talked to him about her children.  When asked about how Derrick died, Danessa was open and honest, repeating the same description that he had heard from Ziggy about the accident that fateful night.


By the time they arrived at the nurse’s station on the seventh floor, Al was more than prepared to show the note that Dr. Johnston had written for him when the supervisor asked for the slip.  Once Al received the note back from the supervisor, he nodded respectfully to the man before he followed Danessa and Travis to Room 725.


For a few moments, the three of them stood outside of the room looking in through the window at Marissa as she sat at her makeup mirror brushing her hair.  Through the window, Al noticed all the red paraphernalia scattered around her room and slightly shook his head.  He somehow felt Marissa’s gaze and he quickly backed up from the window and glanced at her parents a bit embarrassed.


“It’s okay, Al.  It’s a one-way mirror.  She can’t see who’s out here.”


Al stepped up to the mirror once again and looked at the young woman sitting in the room once again.  She didn’t look any different than when he saw her in the Imaging Chamber eight years prior.  Although he knew that he shouldn’t, Al already had bitter feelings toward her.


“Well,” Danessa said finally as she put her hand up to the door, “there’s no time like the present.”  With a soft rap on the door to let her daughter know that someone was about to come into the room, she turned the handle on the door and a smile immediately came to her face as she opened the door.



“Hi Mom, Dad,” Danessa answered aloofly as she continued to brush at her hair.


“Come here for a minute, Marissa.  We want you to meet someone.”


Marissa let out an exasperated sigh, slightly rolled her eyes, stood and went to where her mother stood and looked at Albert Calavicci standing before her.  “You a doctor?” she asked curtly.


“No,” Al answered back to her as he settled back onto his heels.


Marissa turned to her mother with a questioning look before her gaze went back over to the stranger in her room.


“This is Rear-Admiral Albert Calavicci.  I went to school with him at MIT.  He came here to talk with Dr. Johnston and we bumped into each other in the Waiting Room.  He told me about his kids and I told him about mine. I wanted Al to meet you, Marissa.”


Marissa softly nodded her head.  “Hi,” she said with a slight movement of her hand at her side as a wave. 


Keeping his manners on high, Al smiled and nodded his head back at the young woman.  “Hello, Marissa,” he said simply.


Grabbing a hold of her mother’s hand, Marissa made her move several steps away from the man and began to whisper ardently.


Danessa listened for a moment then stopped her daughter to look back at Al.  “Excuse us, Al.  Let me talk to her for just a moment.”


Nodding with a slight smile, Al turned just as Travis Johnson stepped up to him.  Al looked up into the younger man’s face but stood his ground.  He wasn’t going to fall for the slight intimidation tactic that Travis obviously thought he had.  “Listen, Calavicci, I…” Travis paused before he turned slightly back to look at his wife before he continued.  “I don’t know in what fashion you knew Danessa, but…”


Al held up a hand to stop Travis from going any further.  “Mr. Johnson,” Al called his name with the utmost respect, “I dated Danessa when I was in MIT.  I doubt that a few movies and a Chemistry Lab experiment will buckle your marriage in any way.  Though your wife is still attractive as I remember her to be—I love my wife and my family.  You haven’t any provocation to worry about me.”  Al also glanced over at the two women still whispering back and forth.  “All I’m interested in, in this case, is to talk with your daughter about her obsessive-compulsive disorder, then go on about my business.”


Travis carefully examined Al’s face as he talked.  He listened to every nuance of Albert Calavicci’s voice.  Hearing nothing that seemed out of place, Travis gave in and stepped back from the Italian as his wife approached.


“Al, Travis and I are going to go get some lunch, then we’ll be back to talk with Marissa.  That should give you enough time to talk with her.”  Danessa smiled affectionately, then turned and gently tugged on her husband’s arm.  “Come on, Travis.”


 Al watched as Travis kissed Marissa on her forehead, glanced back at him apprehensively then left with his wife.  Watching as Marissa looked back at her parents a bit hesitantly, Al knew that getting any information from her might be a problem. 


The room was uncomfortably quiet for several moments after the couple left.  Al bounced up on his toes with his hands in his pockets.  He pursed his lips for a moment as he thought about what he needed to say to the young woman before him.


Marissa eyed the Italian for a moment before she went to her bed and sat Indian style, her heads resting lightly on the crimson comforter.  She licked her lips, looked down at the comforter as she ran her hands along its silky material.  Suddenly, her eyes cut to him as she asked, “So, Admiral Calavicci, what did you come here to ask?”  Seeing the surprised expression on his face, Marissa raised an eyebrow curiously.  “My mother told me you wanted to ask me some questions.  What do you want to know?”


Al was more than ready to hop into the thick of things, but he knew this needed to be handled carefully and delicately.  Taking a small step toward her, he said, “Tell me about your family.”


“What do you want to know?”  When he didn’t answer her straight out, she rattled, “Dad’s a journalist, Mom’s a chemist, Hale’s a lawyer, I’m in here and Derrick’s dead.”


Seeing the only key to unlocking the door that he needed to get into, Al queried, “What happened to Derrick?”


“Mom didn’t tell you?”

“She did, but I’d like to hear your version.  You know, everyone sees things differently.”


“Yeah,” Marissa commented softly.  Taking a breath she said, “Well, basically, he and his girlfriend, Marilyn Hicks,” Marissa spit out the name as if it were a curse word, “were coming home from a party when they had an accident—or so she said.  They hit a cement barrier and Marilyn was flung out of the car.  Derrick was trapped inside and the car caught fire and he was burned to death.”


“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Al said warily.


Marissa looked down with indifference.  “Yeah, well,” she shook her head slightly and tsked.  “It happened about eight or nine years ago.  It’s done.  It’s over,” she said as she watched her hand running back over the silky material.


“Is it?” Al asked cautiously.


Marissa cut her eyes back to him.  “Isn’t it?”


Al tilted his head slightly.  Choosing his words carefully, Al asked, “What happened with Marilyn Hicks?”

A slight sneer and a half-chuckle emerged from the girl on the bed.  “She committed suicide.”



“She kept saying she was depressed—that it was all her fault that Derrick died.  And you know what?”  Al raised his eyebrows up in question to her.  “It was.  It was her fault.  The bitch didn’t even try to get him out of the car.  My brother would still be alive if it wasn’t for her.”


“Weren’t you friends?”


“We were, but after what she did to my brother?  Hell, no,” Marissa answered passionately.


“Then, why did you go to the hospital after her first suicide attempt?”  Al snuck in a piece of his own knowledge into the mix.  “I know you were there.”


"When?" Marissa asked as she slowly stood up, then turned to smooth out the area of the comforter where she had been sitting on it.


"April 15th, 1998. The day that Marilyn Hicks succeeded in killing herself," Al reminded the young woman.


"Oh.  Yeah, I was there,” Marissa divulged to him.


"Then you admit you helped to kill her?" Al asked blatantly as he came straight to the point as to why he came to talk with her.


"What?  No,” Marissa answered as she turned around to meet his gaze.


"No?" he repeated the answer back to her to clarify what he had heard.


"I wasn't there.”


"But you just said..." Al began to backtrack.


Marissa took a step forward then stopped, looked slightly down to the right then looked back up into his gaze once again.  “I… I was there that morning, then I…”  The young woman stopped as she bit at her bottom lip as she moved a little bit closer to him as she whispered, “I went somewhere else.”


Al blinked at her.  He hadn’t a clue as to what she was talking about.  ‘Somewhere else?’ he wondered as his expression went to one of complete confusion.  He remembered her there.  He had seen her in the room.  Ziggy had recorded the leap.  She was there, however, it was force of parental habit as he asked, “Ok.  Where?”


“I’m not really supposed to say.  It’s a secret,” Marissa said as she took another step toward Al making him feel a bit crowded even if she was just one person.


“You can tell me, Marissa.  I won’t tell anyone.  Not even your mom.  Where did you go?”


She bit at her bottom lip for a brief moment wondering if she should then finally blurted, “The Red Room.”


Al’s eyebrows arched in shock.  “The Red Room?” he repeated her answer again.


“Do… do you like red?”  Seeing Al’s head bob up and down slightly Marissa’s voice took on a creepy undertone as she said, “Oh, it was beautiful.  It was all red, different shades all intermingling together—quite a stunning sight.  It was…” she paused as she looked around the room then whispered ever so softly, “hypnotic.”


Although Al knew that the young woman had to be making the story up, he cleared his throat to try to drive off the eerie, hinky feeling that was beginning to creep up his spine.  “Marissa, I know you were there in the hospital room.”  Seeing the young woman slowly begin to shake her head negatively, he finally admitted, “I was there.  You stood at the end of the bed…”


“No, Admiral,” she said coolly.


“With your arms folded across your chest...”


"I wasn't there," she said with a shake of her head causing her brown hair to move along her shoulders, catching her attention even to bring her hands up toward her neck.


"And you said, 'Finally, you're doing something right,’” Al said simply.


“How could I?  I wasn't there,” Marissa stated.


Al took a step toward the young lady, getting into her personal space as he looked into her eyes.  With every word, he enunciated plainly for her, “You were there.”


Marissa’s eyes grew wide at his words and she blinked then blabbed, “He said that this might happen, but I’m not going to be the scapegoat for this.  Marilyn killed herself.  I know that.”


Al wouldn’t back down as he took another step forward as she took one back.  “Because you gave her the blade that she used.”


“No, I didn’t.  I… I didn’t.  Aren't you listening to me, Admiral?” Marissa slowly stood and went to the makeup mirror she had in her room, looked at the necklace that was on her neck, then looked at Al through the reflection of the mirror.  "I wasn't there."


"Marissa, I am listening to you,” Al affirmed.  “You're claiming that you weren't there when you were."  Al's eyes narrowed as he thought on their conversation.  "Wait a minute.  You said, 'He said this might happen.’  Who's he?"


Marissa slowly turned herself to look at Al as she fingered the red choker necklace.  Her fingers slid along the chain along her neck reminding Al of how Sam had slit his throat when he had leaped into Marilyn Hicks.  Marissa lightly fingered the outside of her ear as she said, "I don't know his name... but his voice—I know his voice.  I heard him over the screaming, telling me that if I didn't cooperate, I'd share the same as those screaming."  Marissa ducked her eyes, her head bowing slightly as she whispered,  "I cooperated."


Al frowned trying to understand what she was saying and took a step toward her and watched, as Marissa seemed to shrink in the chair she was in.  "How did you cooperate?"


Marissa continued to run her hand over her neck almost in a slicing motion as she talked to Al through the mirror.  "I told him as much as I could remember, Admiral.  You know, like where I was from, what had happened, the date..."


A sinking dread overwhelmed Al as he listened to her.  It was the same information that they gathered from the leapee to find out why Sam had leaped into that person’s life.  The only thought that ran through his mind was, ‘They grill for the same information.


"Anything that I could remember.  Then, he told me I was a good girl.  Then the red started to swirl.”  Marissa’s voice dipped lower.  “The colors, they are so beautiful, Admiral.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, but I… I couldn’t have done anything to Marilyn Hicks like I wanted to.  I… I wasn’t there at the hospital.  So, you see, you must have the wrong person, Admiral.”  Marissa shook her head negatively once more.  “I wasn’t there.”


Al kept his face schooled as he watched her as she turned back toward her mirror and picked up her brush.  "Okay, Marissa," he said simply knowing that if he pressed the matter any further that it could end badly for everyone involved.  Taking a deep breath, he said, "You weren't there."


"Told ya," she whispered as she began brushing her hair.




The young woman paused in her brushing to turn her head back to him.  "Yes, Admiral?"


"I've got to go, honey.  Will you give your mom a hug for me?" he asked.


"If you want," she said then turned back to the mirror before her as she ran the brush through her hair.


Moving backward through the room toward the door, Al finally placed his hand on the door only for the young woman's voice to startle him.


"Admiral, I do have one question for you."


"Oh?  What's that?" he asked cautiously.


"Do you know who Sam Beckett is?"


An intense feeling of dread filled Albert Calavicci hearing his best friend's name from her lips.  Licking at his now dry lips, he asked, "Why?"


"For eight years, I've wondered who he was."


"Was?" Al once again repeated.


Marissa shrugged a shoulder.  "The voice said, 'Now, Sam Beckett is dead.'  I don't know who that is."  Seeing the older man's mouth slightly drop open, she shrugged once more then went back to brushing her hair.


Once composed a little bit from the shock of what she'd just said, Al opened the door and shut it behind him only to lean against it.  Taking a deep breath, he blew it right back out and repeated the action again.  Turning around, he looked back through the one-way mirror and looked at the young woman inside that had once been the shell.  As he watched her, that creepy crawly feeling shot straight up his spine, making his body break out in goose bumps when Marissa's eyes came in contact with the door via the mirror's reflection and her eyebrows arched up in question.


Al backed away from the door before he turned and headed out of the Rehabilitation Hospital as fast as his legs could carry him.  He knew exactly what he had to do and he wasn't about to waste any time.


Getting back into his car, Al started back over toward Northeast Heights Medical Center.  After setting the cruise control, he used the car link to call the Project.


"Good afternoon, Admiral," Ziggy replied as the phone was answered on the second ring.


"Hey, Zig.  I have a job for you.  As soon as I get back, I want you to have analyzed the leap to April 14-15, 1998 dealing with Marilyn Hicks.  Go over the taping of the leap and look for any anomalies.  Anything at all that would indicate...” Al paused for a moment.


"Indicate what, Admiral?"


"The existence of the evil leaper project."


The parallel-hybrid computer seemed very human for a complete moment from the moment of silence that filled the connection between them.  "It's highly improbable that there would be a leaper, let alone the evil leaper project, Admiral.  Dr. Beckett eliminated Lothos."


"Maybe he didn't," Al answered softly.  "Just do what I asked, Ziggy."


"Yes, Admiral."





Riverside Medical Center

Albuquerque, New Mexico

November 2, 2006

1:35 PM


By the time Al arrived, parked and walked back into the hospital to check how far Aurora was in delivering her baby, he was surprised to find her already moved to a private room.  Hoping that everything had gone smoothly, Al went directly to her room on the fourth floor.  Walking in, he found Aurora lying back on the bed with a pink bundle in her arms. 


"Aurora, you sly thing, you didn't want to wait any longer, did you?"


Aurora smiled tiredly at Al before she looked back at her newest family member.  "Come here, Al," she beckoned him.  "You must meet someone who will soon capture your heart."


Al walked over to the side of the bed and looked down with a smile already on his face as Aurora carefully turned her daughter around.  "Admiral Albert Calavicci, I'd like you to meet your newest personnel to Project Quantum Leap, Dayanara Janisa Lofton.  Dom wants to call her D.J. for short."


A teeny tiny sneeze from the smallest addition to the Lofton family made Al coo at her, "God bless you little one."  Leaning slightly, he moved the blanket away from her cheek and gently touched D.J.'s cheek.  "She's beautiful, Aurora.  Absolutely beautiful."  Looking up to see Aurora smiling brightly, he glanced up at Dominic then asked, "You sure he's the father?"


Aurora softly chuckled at his question as Dominic rolled his eyes and shook his head.  "I hope so, Al."  For a moment, a calming silence fell over the room as they looked at the baby in Aurora's arms.


"Al, I hate to ask," Dominic started.


"What is it?" Al questioned as he looked up from the little one that suddenly decided to open her eyes to try to view the ones talking.


"We left so quickly that we didn't get the luggage that Aurora had packed by the door of our quarters.  Could you take me back to the project?  You wouldn't have to bring me back," he added quickly.  "I'll drive myself back."


Al nodded and after a few more minutes of smiling and cooing at D. J., Al and Dominic left.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, New Mexico

November 2, 2006

4:45 PM


Having had an eventful day, Al leaned back in his chair in his office and thought about what he had learned.  He was hoping with all of his might that he was wrong.  That Ziggy wouldn't find anything in the analysis he had her do of that particular Leap.  "Okay, Ziggy, show me what you got."


"There are several view points that I need to display to you, Admiral.  Please watch carefully."


Al nodded as he leaned up toward his computer to concentrate on the scene that he was looking at.  The first scene that played showed Marissa entering the room, coming to stand at the end of the bed, her arms folded over her chest, her voice once again repeating, "For once, you did something right."


As Ziggy zoomed in on the figure of Marissa entering the room and coming to the end of the bed, she zoomed in closer, each time, Al hearing the same words again, just like his dream.  On the fifth zoom of the same scene, Al finally saw what Ziggy wanted him to see and he paled.


Over the image of Marissa's face, he could make out the face of a tall angry young man with brown hair and dark brown eyes.  "Ohhh boy," he uttered under his breath.


"How'd you know, Admiral?" Ziggy's voice finally asked in somewhat utter amazement.


"I didn't, Zig," Al answered her shaking his head slightly.  "Marissa told me."


"How'd she know?"


"I don't want to believe it," he said in response, but having seen Marissa's face and looked into her eyes while she was talking, he knew he had to believe.  Al leaned back in his chair and brought his hands up to rub at his face hard. "They used her to get to Sam.  Oh God, Ziggy.  They're back."





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