Episode 1228

Sanctuary II

by: Jennifer Rowland


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Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sebastian LoNigro set out to prove the String Theory that he had co-developed with his former MIT student, Samuel Beckett—an incredibly gifted genius who was destined for greatness.  After Sam’s sudden and untimely murder in 1973, a distraught Doctor LoNigro formed a strong bond with Sam’s older brother, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Beckett, and together, they both strove to ensure that Sam’s theories would not be forgotten.


Tom quickly rose in the ranks to Captain and eventually aided Doctor LoNigro in the development of a top-secret government project code-named Chrono-Leap, which was based off of a combination of the String Theory, and the work of the late Doctor Alexander Garner and his failed Time Displacer Unit.  During the initial test-run of the experiment, a malfunction occurred that endangered the lives of everyone inside the project.  In a bold attempt to shut it down, Captain Beckett bravely stepped into the Chronoton Accelerator...and vanished.


He awoke to find himself inhabiting someone else’s body 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 Doctor LoNigro, who became the Project Observer in the wake of the Accelerator incident, appearing in the form of a neurological hologram that only Captain Beckett can see and hear.


Trapped in an alternate timeline, Captain Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong.  All the while, he is subconsciously aware that another leaper exists somewhere, lost in time like himself, who holds the key to restoring reality back to what it once was.  Until that day arrives, Captain Beckett struggles to recall his lost memories of a “World Without Sam Beckett,” hoping each time to alter the hands of fate so that his next leap...will be the leap home.


Previously On The Virtual Seasons


Tom Beckett leaped into one Franklin Benjamin, founder and director of Sanctuary House, a homeless shelter doubling as a work/rehabilitation program helping homeless men get back on their feet.  Shortly after Leaping in, Tom found a desperately ill man unconscious on a grave in Potter’s Field and brought him to Sanctuary House.  Later that evening, Tom was stunned to discover he’d crossed paths with Albert Calavicci—a former colleague from the Starbright Project who’d been dismissed due to issues related to alcoholism and anger.  Feelings of responsibility towards Albert complicated Tom’s mission to save a Sanctuary House resident named Henry Voorhies from dying in an altercation on Monday, March 16, 1987. 





Sanctuary House

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, March 16, 1987

8:30 AM


Tom awoke Monday morning in a state of dread.  Today was the day of Henry Voorhies’ death unless Tom could do something about it.  So far, all he’d uncovered was Henry’s tendency to butt heads with Albert Calavicci.  Bobby hadn’t turned up once since Friday night and Tom was growing more than a bit concerned at his Observer’s absence.  It was unlike Bobby to remain scarce for so long and Tom wondered if the budget proposals Bobby had said he was working on had been rejected and the Committee pulled the plug on them.


No matter what the reason was, Tom was lost without Bobby’s guidance and input.  Without knowing precisely when Henry would be killed, Tom had no idea how he would prevent it.  The thought of shadowing Henry all day flitted across his mind, but Tom knew the impracticality and impossibility of such a prospect.


While Sanctuary House served breakfast, Tom studied men’s faces, watching each person Henry interacted with and hoping to find a clue as to whom the problems might be between.  Henry appeared to relate well with all of them, and Tom wondered why Albert seemed to bring out such a direct line to Henry’s anger issues.  That brought up a thought that settled like a rock into his stomach.  Tom really had no idea how much Al might have changed since Starbright.  He no longer called himself Al for one thing.  And how had he come by that disfiguring scar?  Was Henry’s fatal altercation with Albert?  Instead of saving Henry, perhaps Tom was responsible for bringing about the circumstances leading to his demise.


Shivers ran down Tom’s spine at the thought and he glanced across the room where Albert sat eating his breakfast.  Once again, Albert had picked an isolated area of the dining room in which to eat.  Donnie was working in the kitchen this morning and had already had his breakfast, so he hadn’t joined Albert at the table as he had at the meals yesterday.  Tom felt a warm rush of affection for the burly black man whose intimidating size masked the compassionate heart within.  As he watched Albert rapidly consume his meal, Tom noticed the small man glance around the dining room.  Was he imagining things to think that Albert looked apprehensive? 


He didn’t have more time to think about it, for Albert had finished eating.  After downing his orange juice, Albert rose and carried his tray to the designated area before he exited the dining room.  Tom watched him go until a tug on his sleeve drew his attention back. 


“Frank, do you have a minute?” Dylan asked.


“Sure, Dylan,” answered Tom.  “What’s up?”


“We’re running low on biscuits…”



Tom noticed during the group session that Henry appeared sullen.  He didn’t participate much and rolled his eyes every time Donnie spoke, which was often.  Towards the end of the session, Tom finally decided to try and get to the bottom of what the issue now between Henry and Donnie was.  He was still trying to figure out how to bring it up when it came to a head for him.


Donnie was talking about how he thought the “regulars” needed to engage more often with the “transients” and used his interactions with Albert from yesterday as an example.


Henry exploded.  “What kind of spell does he have on all of you?!  Can’t you see he’s just USING us?”


The four other men gaped at him while Tom cringed.  Donnie jumped back in before Tom spoke.


The big man challenged, “How do you figure that, Henry?  I haven’t seen you spending any time trying to get to know him.”


“He doesn’t want to be here!”


“None of us ‘want’ to be here,” said Donnie.


“You know what I mean!”


Dylan asked, “Because Albert’s not in the program?”


Henry folded his arms and nodded.  “I don’t care that he’s sick.  He doesn’t deserve the privileges he’s been given!”


“Frank’s just trying to help him,” piped up Matthew.


“Albert’s been pulling his weight,” added Dylan.  “Frank had him working in the office yesterday.”


“Cushy job,” sneered Henry, giving Tom a dirty look.


“I gave Albert the job I felt was best for him at the time,” said Tom, his voice making it clear Henry’s protests were wearing thin.  “His health is poor.”


“So’s his attitude.”


“You haven’t looked in a mirror lately, have you, Henry?” Donnie asked, sadly shaking his head.  “I heard you start a fight with him day before yesterday.”


“I don’t have to listen to this.”  Henry got to his feet.


Donnie did the same.  “You sit your butt down, Henry Voorhies.  You aren’t gonna stir all this up and then run away from it.”


Tension ratcheted up in the room and everyone held their breath—including Tom, who knew he needed to do something but couldn’t make himself move.  Slowly, Henry resumed his seat and glowered at Donnie.  After a breath, Donnie sat as well.


“I don’t know what your problem is, man,” said Donnie.  “Have you ever stopped to think that maybe Albert might actually join the program?”


“Yeah, right.”


“You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said in here.  Not really.”  Donnie shook his head again.  “If he’s treated like he’s an outsider, why should he want to try to turn his life around?”


“He acts like an outsider.  He won’t sit near anyone else in the dining room.”


“And apart from me, who’s gone up to sit near him and made an effort to get to know him?”


Silence filled the room and settled uneasily on every person within.  Men shifted in their chairs and stared at their shoes while Donnie cast his hard evaluating gaze on each of them in turn before finally looking into Tom’s eyes and smiling.


“I think that’s probably enough to leave everyone with for today, huh, Frank?”


Tom cleared his throat and nodded then watched as the other men uncomfortably shuffled out of the room.



A loud crack sounded as the cue ball broke the small diamond of Albert’s Nine Ball set up, perfectly striking the 1-ball.  He watched the balls scattering across the green felt and smiled as the 4-ball disappeared into the pocket.  Albert circled the pool table, cue in hand, and mentally prepared for his next shot.  He leaned over the table and bridged the cue at the proper angle for the shot he wanted to make, using his elbow to create a hinge on which the stick moved as smoothly as silk.


“Smooth and easy, Al.  You treat Alberta like a lady and she’ll reward you for it.”


Al nodded and stuck his tongue between his lips as he studied the possibilities on the expanse of green.  He slipped Alberta beneath the crook of his index finger and focused on the cue ball.  The smooth polished wood was heavy in his small hands, but he determined to follow Magic’s example and he drew his arm back and then forward, striking the cue ball.  It rolled along the table, striking the 5-ball and driving it into the corner pocket.


“Good job, Al!” praised Charlie “Black Magic” Walters, patting the boy on his shoulder.


“Y-you d-done good, Al,” stuttered Grady, taking possession of Alberta and giving Al a warm smile.


Al threw his arms around Magic.  “Thanks for letting me try Alberta, Magic,” he said.  “Thanks for everything.”


Albert watched the ball he’d just struck drop into the pocket, followed by the cue ball.  “Scratched that time, Magic,” he muttered as he waited for the cue ball to drop into the tray so he could place it and shoot again.


He glanced around the empty rec room.  All the residents were either in group session or outdoors working on cleaning the grounds or washing cars.  Vic refused to allow Albert to help outside and since he knew Albert wouldn’t attend a group session, he suggested the rec room.  The empty bedroom was Albert’s only other option and it wasn’t an appealing one.  Again wondering why he didn’t just leave the shelter, Albert meandered to the rec room.  At the sight of the pool table, a small grin broke across his face and Albert had set up for a solitary game of Nine Ball.


He wasn’t at all surprised thoughts of Magic came to him as he played.  Those had been special days for him—the first time he’d felt paternal love since his dad had died.  God, it had broken his heart to be separated from Charlie Walters when those stupid cops in New Orleans had arrested him under the authority of Jim Crow laws.  Albert remembered the tears he’d shed when the policeman finally managed to pry him away from Magic, the way he’d screamed and strained to reach the kind black man, using every ounce of fire within him to fight the cop who restrained him.  After spending a month in a New Orleans children’s home, Albert was returned to New York under the supervision of a stern nun who lectured him on the evils of running away.  She frequently punctuated her words by a sharp pinch on the fleshy part of his arm.


Even now, Albert rubbed his arm.  He shook his head and returned his attention to the pool table.  If he was going to think about Magic, he was going to think about the good times, dammit.  Albert coughed then picked his shot and bent over to set up.


“Does Frank know this is what you’re doing while every one else is working?”


The sharp voice startled him and he missed his shot.  Frowning, Albert looked up to see Henry standing in the doorway.  The angry young man had his arms folded across his chest and glared at Albert with ice blue eyes.


“Did you hear me, old man?  I said does Frank know this is what you’re doing?”


Albert pressed his lips together and turned away from Henry, stalking around the pool table until his back was to the man even though it meant he’d have to get creative with banking to make his next shot.  He succeeded and the 3-ball settled into the pocket with a satisfying clunk followed by the rattle of following along the channels to the tray.


“You really take the cake, you know that, Albert?”


“Do I?” Albert flippantly asked.  He didn’t look at Henry, just the pool table and the balls atop it.  He mentally evaluated several options based on the location of the cue ball before finally committing to one.  A gratifying crack rewarded him as the cue ball connected with its target and drove it and the ball next to it into the pocket.


“Why do you stay here?”


Albert didn’t have an answer—he hadn’t had one when he’d asked himself that question, so he sure didn’t have one for Henry.  Though his shrug was honest, it served the dual purpose of telling Henry he didn’t care.  He scratched his beard as he surveyed the pool table.


Henry reached out and snatched the cue ball off the table.  “I want to know what your game is.”


Albert quipped, “It’s called Nine Ball, kid.  Do you mind?”  He held a hand out, palm up.


Henry shook his head.  “What’s your deal anyway?”


“Like you care.”  Albert stared at the blond man, then shook his head and hefted the pool cue in his hand.  Henry flinched as if he feared Albert would strike him.  Albert didn’t see the point in correcting him.  Truth be told, the younger man’s constant animosity had annoyed him to the point he was finding the thought of punching Henry a pleasant one.  What he did was stalk to the rack and put the cue stick away.


“Must be nice to do whatever you feel like,” Henry said.  “Don’t stop on my account.”


Albert leveled a hard look at Henry.  “I’m not.”  He idly ran a hand over the sticks in the rack, allowing his fingers to pause on the heaviest.  Henry gulped involuntarily and Albert knew his point had been made.  He walked to the door.


“Don’t turn your back on me like that,” Henry said, determined not to let Albert have the last word.


Before he walked out, Albert turned back and raised his eyebrow at Henry, stretching his scar taut.  He waited a moment and then squarely informed Henry, “Don’t tell me what to do.”



Tom paced in Frank’s small office, his nerves a bundle of electricity.  They were drawing close to lunchtime and he still had no idea when Henry was due to die.  The best Tom could do was keep as much of an ear on the goings on outside as he could.  After another panicked circuit, he decided to make the rounds.


He started in the basement, making idle conversation with the men pulling laundry detail then excused himself as soon as he could when he didn’t spy Albert or Henry.  Tom moved on to the kitchen, where the cooking crew was just starting on lunch preparations.  Again, there was no sign of either man.  Henry had to be around somewhere!


Tom headed towards the back lot and passed the rec room.  He glanced in and saw that Henry was alone, rolling a cue ball on the pool table and grabbing it when it rolled back to him.  Henry kept repeating this action and Tom stepped inside.


“Something on your mind, Henry?”


Henry looked up at him and shrugged, returning to his ball rolling.  “Just thinking about what Donnie said.”


“You, uh, you thinking about trying to get to know some of the transients, then?” Tom asked, hoping the uneasiness he felt was centered around his lack of knowing when Henry would be put in danger and not due to anything else.  If only Bobby would show up.


“Maybe.”  Henry rolled the ball again, but this time when it rolled back to him, he picked it up and looked at it.  “Frank, do you think I have an attitude problem?”


Tom hesitated, choosing his words carefully.  “I think you have some…anger issues, particularly where Albert is concerned.”


Henry sighed and dropped the cue ball.  “He just…brings out the worst in me and I don’t know why.  I wish Philip was here.”


That makes two of us, thought Tom as Henry mentioned the honeymooning counselor.  Even though Tom hadn’t met the man, he was absolutely certain that Philip was far more qualified to assist Henry with his anger issues than Tom Beckett.


“I know I’m not Philip,” Tom finally said, “but I am here for you if you need me.”


Henry gave him a small smile.  “I know, Frank.  Thanks.”  With that, Henry left the rec room and headed for the stairs.


Tom hoped that Henry’s self-reflection would have a positive influence on his fate.  He wasn’t Leaping, so his job was obviously not done. 


Come on, Bobby, where the heck are you?



Albert Calavicci had gone outside after the incident with Henry, and taken a seat on the front stoop.  He leaned an elbow on his knee and rested his cheek on his fist as he surveyed the street. 


He’d long gotten used to not having any friends.  Years ago he’d come to the conclusion that he was doomed to be alone.  The booze was the only constant he knew he could rely on…and even that had let him down.  How else had he ended up where he was now?


Albert sighed and his lungs seized up in a coughing fit.  He rubbed his face when it released him and leaned his head against the short wall.  Being alone was nothing new, and he’d not gone out of his way to try and make friends with anyone in years, even before he’d lost everything.  He didn’t know, then, why it bothered him so much that Henry couldn’t stand him.


He’s a little punk, Albert told himself.  A true nozzle if ever there was one. 


Rubbing his face again, Albert’s attention was drawn to a young couple walking down the street.  The woman’s head leaned against her companion’s shoulder and he had an arm wrapped around her waist.  As they walked past him, Albert noticed how the man’s grip tightened protectively around the woman.  She whispered something into his ear and the man smiled then brushed a kiss against her temple.


Albert remembered walking that way with Beth in another lifetime.  Even now, he could feel the soft weight of her head on his shoulder, smell the clean floral scent of her shampoo.  He closed his eyes and started to let the memory sweep him away, to take him to the end of that walk which had brought them back to their bungalow.  Once inside, he’d taken Beth into his arms and kissed her, his hand reaching for the zipper on the back of her dress and then…


He shook his head and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes.  She was gone.  Before he’d even come back from Vietnam she’d left him.  While he’d endured and survived, thinking only of her, she’d forgotten him and moved on.  Albert lowered his head and sighed, dissolving into coughs once more.




He looked up to see Donnie standing behind him.  Cautiously, the big man sat beside him and rested a large hand on his shoulder.


“You okay, Albert?”


“Yeah, fine.”


“You don’t look fine.”


For once, Albert was happy he couldn’t shake the cough.  “I’m sick, Donnie.”


Donnie gave him a kind look.  “So why are you sitting outside then?  You know that’s not good for you.”


Albert shrugged.  “Change of scenery.”


The black man nodded but didn’t speak.  Albert turned his head away and cleared his throat to drive away the last vestiges of encroaching tears.


“How did you end up here, Albert?”


Albert froze before facing Donnie.  “Frank convinced me to see the doctor the other day.”


“That’s not what I mean and you know it.”  Donnie smiled at him.  “C’mon, man.  Level with me.”


Albert shook his head.  “Sorry, Donnie.  And if my silence means you’re gonna hate me too then so be it.”  He got to his feet and brushed dust off the seat of his pants.  A moment later, Donnie followed suit.


“Albert, listen.  I’m sorry.  You don’t owe me anything.  And I don’t hate you.”


“Henry does.”


Donnie negated that with a shake of his head.  “No, he doesn’t.  He just doesn’t know you.”


Albert had to laugh.  “And you do?”


“I’m trying to, anyway,” grinned Donnie.


Albert laughed again.  “You’re all right, Donnie.”


“Back atcha.”  Donnie paused.  “Listen, why don’t you work clean-up with me this afternoon?  You’ll get to know some of the guys and see that they’re all right, too.”


Albert wasn’t thrilled at the thought of “getting to know” the others, but helping in the kitchen would prove he was doing his part.  He met Donnie’s eager gaze and nodded.





Sanctuary House

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, March 16, 1987

11:45 AM


One perk Albert quickly learned went with working on the clean-up crew was that they got to eat early.  Not quite as early as the cooking and serving crews and in fact, they held the fort down while that group ate, but they were the very next group to eat as the dining room was opened to residents and transients alike.  Donnie didn’t give Albert a chance to sit alone.  He steered the smaller man to sit with the other three men, which included Dylan and Henry.  Albert and Henry simply nodded in greeting but otherwise ignored each other.  Dylan had gotten good news that morning and he held court, so Albert and Henry’s silence generally went unnoticed.


“Vic said the job at the department store came through,” grinned Dylan. 


“That’s awesome, man!” Donnie exclaimed.  “Congratulations!  When do you start?”


“Next Monday.  It’s in the warehouse—not exactly what I used to do, but it’s a start.”


“What did you do…before?” Albert found himself asking, to his own amazement.


“I was general manager for an office supply store,” answer Dylan.  He ate a bite of sandwich and then asked, “What about you, Albert?”


Sorry he’d asked now, Albert focused on his bowl, noisily slurping the creamy potato soup.  Donnie gently nudged him and leaned in close to whisper, “Come on, Albert.  It won’t hurt.”


Albert sighed and met Dylan’s eyes.  “I was in the Navy.”


Henry snorted.  “Sure you were—that’s an Army jacket you’re wearing.”


“Beggars can’t be choosers,” shrugged Albert.


“Thought you didn’t like taking charity.”  Henry wasn’t letting it rest.


Albert turned to give the blond man a hard glare.  “I don’t.”


“Henry, that’s enough,” Donnie cut in.


Both Albert and Henry returned to ignoring each other and Dylan sat uncomfortably until the third man, Lucas, said, “Congratulations, Dylan!” as if the intervening conversation had not even taken place.  Dylan smiled and Lucas and Donnie restored a lighter tone to the conversation by pressing for more details on Dylan’s job.


Albert finished eating first and he didn’t wait for the others before getting up from the table.  He deposited his tray and then walked to the men’s room at the back of the dining room.  While he was gone, Donnie turned on Henry.


“Why do you have to pick a fight with him all the time?”


“Oh, come on, Donnie,” said Henry.


Dylan said, “No, Donnie’s right.  You need to give him a chance, Henry.”


Henry didn’t respond.  He exhaled roughly through his nostrils and then finished his meal.  He carried his tray to the clean-up area and immediately set to work washing it.  Dylan, Lucas, and Donnie exchanged helpless glances then shrugged and picked up their own trays as well.  The line of men needing a meal had begun to stretch and plates needed cleaning.  They arrived in the kitchen just as Albert returned from the restroom. 


Peace reigned as long as meals were being served.  Once the serving trays had been emptied and the last men left the room, the five men had only each other for company.  Albert and Henry worked on opposite sides of the cleaning area and there seemed to be an unspoken agreement between the other three to keep the two distracted from each other.  Since Albert had slowly started warming up to Donnie, he took charge of the bearded man while Dylan kept Henry occupied.  Lucas decided to try to keep things light, so he regaled them with funny stories as they worked.


Things were fine until Vic poked his head in and asked Dylan and Lucas to clean the tables.  Donnie was left alone in the kitchen with Albert and Henry, and he cringed as he felt the tension thicken.  Things were silent with only the sounds of dishes rattling in the sink for quite some time.


Albert pulled his hands out of the sink and shook the excess water off then grabbed a towel and started drying off.  Henry looked over his shoulder at him.


“Hey, where do you think you’re going?”


Albert threw the towel down.  “I was going to get some more detergent out of the cabinet.  Is that okay with you?”  He stalked to the cabinet in question and threw the door open, grabbed the detergent, and slammed the cabinet door shut again.  When he got to the sink, he squirted the bottle so fiercely that far more detergent than he needed ended up in the dishwater.  Frustrated, Albert slammed the bottle down on the counter and a small explosion of tiny bubbles floated into the air.


Donnie moved to stand next to Albert and started drying dishes.  “That’s pretty neat about Dylan’s job, isn’t it?  You’re next in line for one, aren’t you, Henry?”


Henry nodded.


Albert muttered under his breath, “Criteria mustn’t be strict.”


“What was that, old man?” snapped Henry, throwing the silverware in his hand to the counter.


“You heard me, kid.


Henry glared at Albert and took a step towards him.  “You think you’re tough, do ya?”


“I know I am.”  Albert moved a step closer now.


“Why don’t you prove it then?”


Donnie tried to block Albert, but the smaller man pushed past him.  Before either Donnie or Henry could react, Albert had thrown a punch and connected with Henry’s upper cheekbone.  The blow nearly knocked Henry down and when he came up his hand was pressed against his left eye.


“That proof enough for you?” demanded Albert.  He panted, anger emanating from him as he stood before Henry.  “Or do you want me to hit you again?  Is that what it’ll take?”


“You’re crazy, man!”


Albert’s eyes narrowed menacingly and his fists balled up.  Donnie quickly stepped in between the two men and put a hand against Albert’s chest.  He felt the man’s heart racing with anger.


“Albert, calm down.  Henry, back off.”


Henry shook his head and shoved his way closer to Albert.  “No way, Donnie, this is between me and Albert.  We’re gonna finish it.”


“Come on, then, kid,” taunted Albert, pushing against Donnie’s restraining hand until the pressure started him coughing.  Only then did he take a step back, leaning against the counter as he revived the pain in his chest.  He didn’t let it hold him back for long, and as soon as the coughs stopped, he lunged for Henry.


Henry’s dander was up, but his guard was down, and Albert swiftly pinned him, twisting his arm behind his back until Henry grunted in pain.


“You might want to consider who you’re dealing with next time,” Albert hissed in the young man’s ear before releasing him.


Henry whirled on Albert as soon as he was free and inhaled angrily through his nose.  He grabbed Albert’s collar and drew a fist back.  Albert glared at him and brought both arms up inside of Henry’s grip.  Quickly and viciously thrusting his arms out, Albert knocked Henry’s hands away then stepped rapidly around to pin Henry’s arm again.


“That’s twice,” Albert said evenly.  “Want to try for three in a row?”


Henry yanked his arm out of Albert’s grip and gave both him and Donnie a disgusted look then stormed out of the kitchen.


“Geez, he’s a joy to be around,” commented Albert.  He gathered up the silverware Henry had thrown to the counter and began putting it away.


“Henry’s not so bad,” said Donnie. 


“No, not if you don’t mind someone thinking they’re better than you.”


“Henry doesn’t think that, Albert.”


Albert chuckled humorlessly.  “Coulda fooled me.”


“Henry’s just like the rest of us here.  Just trying to clean up his life and get back on his feet.”


“And I guess he fell from pretty far, huh?”


“Yeah.  He used to work on Wall Street until his addiction took control.”


Wall Street.  Albert was impressed.  “And what addiction would that be?”




Albert looked over at Donnie.  “Cocaine?  Hard stuff.”


“Hard to get over, too.  But Henry’s done it—with a lot of hard work.  He’s beat the addiction, now he’s trying to get the rest of his life straight.”


“He could start by working on his attitude.”


Donnie chuckled.  “He’s trying to.”


“He needs to try harder.”



Tom was walking down the hallway when he overheard an exchange that made him stop.


“They got into it again?


Lucas nodded.  “I was walking past the kitchen when I heard the yelling and I saw Albert pinning Henry’s arm behind his back.”


That was all Tom needed to hear.  He picked up his pace and hurried to the kitchen.  When he got there, he paused in the doorway and honed in on the slight man calmly washing dishes.


“Albert, may I have a word with you?”


Albert looked over and nodded, drawing his hands out of the sink and drying them on a towel.  He stepped out of the kitchen without saying a word and followed Tom to Frank’s office.  Once they were inside, Tom closed the door and Albert sat in the guest chair.  He folded his hands in his lap as he waited for Tom to speak.


“Is there anything you want to tell me, Albert?”


“Can’t think of anything.”


Tom looked intently at him.  “Not about the fight between you and Henry?”


“It wasn’t a fight,” Albert calmly answered.  “I was just making a point.”


“And that point was?”


Albert shrugged.  “That I’m not an old man and I’m not a slacker.”


Tom leaned forward.  “Albert, let me ask you a question.  Once your health improves, then what?”


“I don’t know.”  The answer, when it came, was quiet.


Tom paused then said, “I don’t want to see you end up on the streets again.”


Albert sat reflectively a moment before raising his head.  He met Tom’s gaze and said, “I don’t want that either.”


Silence fell in the office until Tom asked, “What do you want?”


Instead of answering, Albert alternately tugged at his beard and rubbed the back of his neck.  Tom let him fidget for a few moments and then prompted, “Go on, Albert.  Try to put it into words.”


“I want…a chance to start over.”


Tom looked at Albert, looked past the scar, the long tangled hair, and the beard.  He looked into Albert’s brown eyes and saw the first glimmer of hope, the first hint that the man he’d known, the man who’d achieved so much in his life, who’d overcome so much, still resided within this damaged shell. 


“You’re in the right place for that,” Tom said, “if rebuilding your life is what you want to do.”  He paused and let that sink in.  “I can’t say it for you, Albert.  I need you to tell me what you want.”


Albert looked at his hands resting in his lap for a long time.  When he lifted his head, there was no question in Tom’s mind as to whether or not he meant what he said.  With conviction in his voice, Albert firmly said, “I want to start over.  I don’t like who—where I am.”


“And to get that second chance?”


“I’ll do whatever it takes.”



After stalking out of the kitchen, Henry had gone up to his room to sulk for a while.  He’d lain on his bed, staring up at the ceiling and counting the dots of the popcorn finish until he’d reached 500.  His temper settled down somewhat and he reflected over his fight with Albert.


His arm still twinged from being twisted behind his back.  Henry couldn’t get over how agilely the small man moved.  To look at him, Henry would never have believed he had that in him.  Maybe he was telling the truth about the Navy, Henry wondered.  He figured Albert had to have a pretty interesting story to know moves like that.  Pinned twice!  By a guy who only came up to his shoulders!  Henry was glad only Donnie had seen that.  It was pretty embarrassing.


The thought of Albert besting him now moved Henry from grudging admiration back to annoyance.  Henry jumped off the bed and began pacing the confines of his room until his nerves got to him.  He shook his head and opened the nightstand drawer to retrieve a pack of cigarettes.


Frank didn’t exactly approve of cigarette smoking, but he didn’t forbid it either…at least not outside.  Inside was a smoke-free zone, no ifs ands or buts.  Henry dug within the drawer for a lighter.  He wasn’t a frequent smoker—the pack in his hands had lasted him the better part of a month—but occasionally Henry needed to calm his nerves, and this was one of those occasions.


He left the room without speaking to any of the men taking a break on the stairs as he passed them.  Henry went into the back lot, now empty, and moved to a spot at the edge of the property, near the fence.  He lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke, tucking the pack of cigarettes and the lighter into his breast pocket.  As he exhaled, Henry closed his eyes and shook his head.  He’d let his temper run away today, found fault with Albert in any and every way he could think of.  And why?


Something Donnie had told him came to mind.  “We get most annoyed by what reminds us most of ourselves.”  Was that why Albert’s presence irked him so?  Was it perhaps not so much that Albert hadn’t chosen to enroll in the Sanctuary House program, but that in Albert, Henry saw bits of himself?  He drew a long pull on the cigarette and shook his head.  Preposterous.


Movement on the other side of the fence caught his attention and pulled him out of his self-reflection.  Henry saw two men approaching a young boy who couldn’t be more than fifteen years old.  His gut told him something wasn’t right, but for the moment, he just watched.  The boy glanced nervously about him, and nodded when the smaller of the two men indicated something in his hand.  The boy reached into his pocket and the smaller man prepared to pass over the item.  Henry squinted and saw that it was a small bag of white powder.


“No,” he whispered to himself, appalled at the prospect of this youngster becoming enslaved to the addiction that had held him captive for so long.  He threw his cigarette to the ground and shouted, “No!  Leave him alone!”


The boy panicked at the sound of the voice and ran off, his money still clutched in his hand.  The two men whirled as one in Henry’s direction and even from this distance, Henry could see the way their faces twisted in anger. 


They covered the ground to enter the back lot quicker than Henry could have imagined possible.  He turned to flee, but the larger man grabbed him, pinning his arms behind him as the smaller one punched him in the gut.  As Henry doubled over, the man punched him in the face, striking him in the same spot Albert had gotten him earlier.  Henry thought his eye was going to explode.


"You cost me a sale, you," snarled the bigger of the two men. "You stuck your nose into my business, boy."  He jerked Henry loose from his associate's grip and whipped him around to face him, his free hand already balled into a fist.  As he slammed his fist into Henry's face he said, "Now I'm gonna teach you what happens to stupid s.o.b.’s that mess with my business."


He beat Henry until tears streamed from his eyes.  Henry had no idea he could hurt so much.  After a moment, the big man returned to holding Henry while his companion pummeled him.


The punches continued until the smaller man appeared to tire.  But Henry wasn’t going to get off that easy.  The two men simply changed position, and now the bigger of them started in again on using Henry as a human punching bag.  He called Henry all manner of names.  The more profane they got, the harder the blows came.


Help me, Henry silently cried out.  Oh, God, help me!



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

1400 hours


“Alpha, listen to me.  I don’t know what’s going on in that electric noggin of yours, but you’ve got to turn power back on in the Imaging Chamber!” pleaded Bobby.  “Tom won’t be able to accomplish his mission if you don’t.”


“I don’t want to jeopardize Captain Beckett,” the computer said, thoughtfully.  In the next moment, its voice went sultry again.  “Something is not right, Dr. LoNigro.  It upsets me.”


“I understand, Alpha, but if you don’t cooperate, things are going to go very, very wrong for Captain Beckett and he may get stranded in 1987.  Now, you don’t want that, do you?”


“No,” replied the computer.


“So release the Imaging Chamber, Alpha.  Please!”


The computer hesitated and a series of lights flashed on its panels.  Letting out a weary sigh, the computer said, “The Imaging Chamber will be back online in 5 minutes.”


“Thank you!” cried Bobby, snatching the handlink and pacing as he counted down.


The staff was so focused on preparing the Imaging Chamber that none of them heard Alpha sigh in its feminine voice again and wistfully say, “Oh, Albert.”     



Sanctuary House

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, March 16, 1987

2:35 PM


Albert left Frank’s office feeling simultaneously better and worse.  Mixed-up was probably the best word for it.  He rubbed his face, and then glanced around the building that was going to be home.  He supposed he ought to go tell Donnie he’d decided to stay, but Albert shook his head.  He wanted to be alone for a little while.


He paused before beginning the walk up the stairs.  He wasn’t sure why the walk to his room should be different this time.  Then it hit him.  He was going to his room.  There would be no questions about whether or not he belonged there now.


When he reached the landing between floors, Albert paused again.  He looked to his right at the small casement window, and felt compelled to look out of it.  Albert stared straight out at the plain view then lowered his gaze.  His eyes widened as he took in the sight of two men beating a blond man in the back lot.  A moment later, his stomach tightened as he recognized the blond man as Henry Voorhies.


He had no idea who the two assailants were, no idea why they were beating up on Henry, but Albert immediately turned and dashed down the stairs.  He grabbed the newel post, used it to pivot himself swiftly towards the back door, and barreled through it.  He barely paused to get his bearings once he made it outside.


One held Henry as the other punched him over and over again.  Henry’s face was bleeding—Albert could see it from across the lot.  As he drew closer, Albert saw the man beating Henry pause, take a step back, and then draw a knife.


“Get away from him!” yelled Albert, breaking into a full run.


Albert launched himself at the man threatening Henry and body checked him, driving him to the ground even as he fell atop him.  His right arm protested with a sharp pain as they hit, but Albert didn’t let that stop him.  Straddling the thug’s body, Albert threw punch after punch until the man’s face was bloody and he subsided into unconsciousness.  Then he jumped to his feet and turned to help Henry.


Henry was struggling with his other assailant, who had him from behind in a chokehold.  Albert circled warily then pounced.  He delivered a sharp dirty blow to the man’s kidneys, which caused him to release Henry.  As soon as Henry was free, Albert grabbed the man in his own chokehold, reaching to seize the man’s forehead with one hand.  He angled the man’s head threateningly.


“I’ll break it,” he warned.  “I’ll break your filthy neck, I swear to God I will.”


The man instantly ceased his struggling and panted.


“Albert!”  Henry was aghast.  He clearly read in Albert’s face that even though the man had stopped fighting him, he was looking for any excuse to snap his neck anyway.  “Let him go.”


“NO.  He’s not going to get away.  He’s not going to do this to someone else.”


“I won’t!” whimpered the man.


“Damn right you won’t,” snarled Albert, again angling the man’s head in a dangerous way.


“Albert, no!”



Tom panted as he came back downstairs.  Once he’d gotten Albert settled, and confident that things were going to improve for him, he’d gone in search of Henry.  But Henry hadn’t been in his room.  The clock was running out and he cursed under his breath.  Where on earth was Bobby?  He frowned and turned to go back to his office.


“Frank!  Frank!”


Turning to the source of the panicked cry, Tom saw Donnie running towards him.  The man barely paused, beckoning for Tom to follow.


“Hurry!  Some guys attacked Henry in the back lot and Albert got involved.  One guy’s down and it looks like Albert’s gonna kill the other one!”




At that moment, Bobby finally turned up.  “He’s right, Tom.  Henry doesn’t die, but now Albert goes to prison.”


Without waiting for more, or for an explanation of Bobby’s absence, Tom broke into a run and followed Donnie outside.  He barely noticed the prone, bleeding figure on the ground.  His gaze went instantly to Albert, who threatened to break the neck of the man he held in his arms.  Albert’s breathing was labored and Tom could tell it was more than his lingering illness that caused it.  There was a vengeful look in his eyes, an aspect to the tension in his body that showed more than this incident alone influenced Albert’s behavior.


Henry had obviously received a beating from the men before Albert had intervened, but he stood nearby, pleading, “Let him go, Albert.”


Albert shook his head.  “Why?  He would have killed you, Henry.”


Tom stepped into Albert’s line of sight.  “Henry’s alive, Albert.  He didn’t kill Henry.  You stopped him.”


“And I’m gonna stop him for good.”


The man Albert held whimpered.


“Don’t do this, Albert.  You’re too good of a person to kill him.”


Albert laughed.  “You don’t know me very well,” he scoffed.


Bobby pressed a series of keys on the handlink.  “Tom, the police are going to be here in about five minutes.  One of the residents called for help.  They’re going to arrest Albert.  He’s had a run-in with one of the cops several times in the past couple of months, and his mouth hasn’t won him any favors.  Alpha has run several scenarios, and if he goes into prison, he won’t be coming back out.  Tom, you’ve got to do something!”


Tom nodded and suddenly a last ditch idea came to him.  “I know you better than you think, Bingo.”


Albert’s head popped up at that.  “What did you call me?”




“I don’t know where you heard that name.  No one’s called me that for a long time.”


“I’m sure.”  Tom took a step closer and held out a hand, palm up.  “I know you’ve fallen on hard times, but I also know that somewhere inside you is the man you once were.”


Albert shook his head, but his grip on the thug loosened slightly.  “How can you know that?”


“You saved Henry, didn’t you?”


Henry drew nearer and nodded.  “You did, Albert.  Please, I’m begging you—let him go.  Don’t do this.  Don’t ruin your life.”


Looking over at Henry, Albert snorted, “What life?”


“Albert,” Tom said, “you just told me you were ready to start over.  To rebuild your life.  Now the police are on the way.  If you kill him, they’re going to take you to prison.”  He paused and looked intently into Albert’s eyes.  “Don’t let your new life end before it’s had a chance to start.”


Albert held Tom’s gaze for a long time.  As the first sound of a siren reached their ears, Albert appeared to come to a decision.  Sighing, he removed his hand from the man’s head but not from around his neck.


“He won’t get away with this,” Tom vowed, glancing at Bobby for confirmation.


“He doesn’t,” affirmed Bobby, consulting the handlink.  “He goes to prison and stays there for a couple of years.  When he does get out, he’s killed in an armed robbery gone bad.”


Making a distasteful face, Albert flung the man to the ground and spat on him.  His chest heaved and he turned away, slowly walking back towards the shelter.


“Albert, wait!” Tom called.  “Don’t go in yet.  Please.”


Sighing, Albert turned back and stopped just outside the entryway.


“Does this guy press charges against Al?” Tom quietly asked Bobby while two men helped the assailant to a sitting position, simultaneously ensuring he didn’t move as the police cars entered the lot.


“No, no he doesn’t.”


“That’s good.”


The cops quickly assessed the situation, speaking with Henry, determining that he didn’t require an ambulance, and taking notes as they listened.  As Henry described how Albert had stepped in and saved him (wisely leaving out the near-murder), the police glanced in the direction of the shelter’s back stoop, where Albert quietly stood.


“I should go talk to him,” Tom said.  Albert looked dazed and Tom could just imagine the muddled emotions whirling within him.


“Yeah, you…  Wait…this can’t be right.”  Bobby shook the handlink and peered at its screen again.




“Now Alpha’s saying that Albert is going to die in less than an hour!”




Just as Bobby was about to answer him, Donnie said in a loud voice, “Hey, Albert, what’s wrong with your hand?”


Albert looked down at his right hand, at the blood dripping from his fingers.  Slowly, he lifted his hand before his eyes and stared dumbly at it.


“I…don’t…”  He swayed and his eyes started to roll back into his head.


Donnie caught him before he fell and shouted, “Help!  Frank!” even as Bobby said, “He bleeds to death.”


Tom was at their side in an instant, Henry and one of the cops at his heels.  The other cop was keeping charge of the two assailants with the assistance of the same two men who’d helped earlier.


“Ease him to the ground,” he ordered Donnie.


The black man nodded and with Henry’s help, lowered Albert to the ground.  Albert didn’t seem to have control over his eyes—they rolled around in his head with each movement—but he hadn’t lost consciousness.  Tom quickly scanned Albert’s arm to find the source of the bleeding and noticed a dark sticky spot on the upper part.


“Get his jacket off.”


Donnie and Henry worked together, but as soon as Albert felt his jacket being tugged, he cried out in protest and started struggling.


“Not again!” he wailed.


Thinking quickly, Tom accessed his military training and drew his most intimidating commander’s voice forward.  Calavicci!” he bellowed.  “You hold still, Calavicci, and that’s an order!”


Albert subsided enough for the two men to get his jacket off.  Rather than go through this again to get the shirt off, Tom reached for the shoulder of the blood-soaked sleeve and yanked, ripping it off.  A small rectangular slice in Albert’s bicep pulsed out a steady spurt of dark red blood.


The policeman reached for his radio and called for an ambulance.


“His brachial artery’s been nicked.  He must’ve gotten stabbed when he attacked the first assailant,” explained Bobby.  “Originally, no one realized it until it was too late.  Vic found him unconscious and bleeding in the hallway outside his room.  They tried their best to save him, but Albert died in the backseat of Frank’s car en route to the hospital.”


“And now?” Tom asked, as he used Albert’s torn sleeve to fashion a tourniquet.


Henry had taken hold of Albert’s left hand and pressed it.  “Hang on, Albert,” he pleaded.


Albert moved his colorless lips in a weak smirk of defiance.  “Don’t…tell me…what to do…” he gasped out before losing consciousness.


Tom looked at Bobby with fear in his eyes.  “And now?!” he asked again.


Bobby shrugged.  “Alpha says there’s a 92% chance you saved his life.”


“Frank,” Henry said, tears forming in his eyes, “Albert’s not gonna die is he?  He can’t die!  He saved my life!  He can’t die, not like this!”


Beside him, Donnie gripped his shoulder and before Tom could answer, he boldly told Henry, “We’re not gonna let him die.  I don’t know ‘bout you, but I’m kneeling before the throne and begging God to spare him.”  Donnie looked down at Albert, “He might be a stubborn little cuss, but I’m gonna plead his case before the Great Judge.”


Tom had to chuckle.  Albert was a “stubborn little cuss.”  Gently touching Albert’s pale face, fearful at how cold it felt and thinking of that other 8%, Tom softly said, “C’mon, you little cuss.  That fire you have in you—use it.  Use it to fight.”


The ambulance’s sirens could be heard from several blocks away before it made its arrival.  The paramedics quickly started what treatment they could before ensconcing Albert within the vehicle.  After telling Tom which hospital Albert would be brought to, they sped off, sirens blaring and lights flashing.  The lot was crowded by the time the ambulance left as more and more residents had come down to see what all the commotion was about.


Henry was inconsolable.  It was the most emotion Tom had seen him show.  Sobbing, he leaned heavily on Donnie, who reiterated his determination to pray Albert into safety.  Donnie met Tom’s eyes and inscrutably smiled and nodded, patting Henry on the shoulder and steering him inside.  Once the police cars left the lot, the other residents followed suit one by one.


Tom remained, standing next to Albert’s abandoned jacket.  Slowly, he bent to pick it up, shifting it in his hands until the bloodstained sleeve was front and center.  Tom regarded the deceptively minor tear in the fabric and shook his head.


“Have his odds gone up?”


Bobby nodded.  “Yeah, as soon as they got him in the ambulance it became nearly 100% that he survives.”


“Then why am I still here?  Henry and Albert are both still alive.”


The handlink squealed and Bobby shook it.  “Alpha, are you getting metaphysical on me all of a sudden?”


“Why what’s it saying?”


Bobby met his eyes.  “It’s saying that they’re physically alive, but your job isn’t done yet.”  Answering the question he knew Tom was about to ask, he added, “And no, I don’t know what you need to do.”


“With Henry I have an idea…”



“Henry, you need to get a grip now,” Donnie said in even tones.  “Dr. Walker can’t get you cleaned up if you don’t calm down.”


Vic and Donnie had succeeded only in getting Henry to sit on the exam table.  Every time Dr. Walker leaned in to try and check one of Henry’s cuts or bruises, Henry would pull back and emphatically shake his head as he cried out, “No, I don’t need anything!  Albert’s the one who got hurt!”  Vic had finally given up and gone in search of Frank, hoping he could talk some sense into Henry before Dr. Walker sedated him.


As soon as Vic found him, Tom hung up the phone he was pretending to use so he could speak freely with Bobby and followed Vic to the clinic after Bobby punched out to return to the project.  Henry started crying harder as they entered.


“Frank, I’m sorry!  It should’ve been me.  They were going to kill me!  But Albert…”


Tom finished the statement for him, “Albert stopped them.  I know, Henry.”


“It’s my fault!  I’ve always gotta stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong…”


Dr. Walker gave Tom a significant look that meant, ‘calm him down NOW!’  Tom nodded.


“Henry, why were those men attacking you?  Because you stopped them from getting a kid hooked on cocaine.  Where’s the shame in that?”


Henry shook his head and wiped ineffectually at his eyes.  “It’s not that,” he sobbed.  “It’s Albert!  I was so horrible to him and now he might die before…before I get a chance to make it right!  He’s going to die hating me.”


Donnie grabbed Henry’s shoulders.  “Stop it!  Albert doesn’t hate you.  He saved your life, man.”


“And he got stabbed for it!” yelled Henry.  He covered his bruised face and sobbed.  “Oh, God, please don’t let him die.”


Tom looked at the other men and requested, “Guys, would you give us a moment, please?”  Nodding, Dr. Walker, Vic, and Donnie all stepped outside.  Dr. Walker pulled the door closed behind them.


Tom stepped closer to Henry and gently took hold of his hands, pulling them away from his face.  “Look at me, Henry.”


Slowly, Henry raised his swollen eyes to meet Tom’s gaze.


“I understand you and Albert have had your rough spots.  He’s not the easiest person to get along with.”  Tom paused before continuing, “I don’t know what you know about Albert’s background…”


Henry wiped at his eyes again, “I know he was in the Navy.”


Tom nodded.  “Did he tell you he was career Navy?  I didn’t think so.  You have to understand, Henry.  Just like you, Albert lost a lot when he ended up on the streets.”


“I was so hard on him.”


“From what I understand, he was pretty hard on you, as well.  You guys butted heads, Henry, that’s all.”


Henry shook his head and fought back tears.  “It’s not all.  Frank, I didn’t even get to tell him ‘thank you,’ much less, ‘I’m sorry.’  What if he dies?”


“He’s not going to die.”  The words were out of Tom’s mouth before he really thought about them.


“How can you know that?”  Henry shook his head.  “Frank, I’ve never seen so much blood in my life.  And he was so pale.”


“The knife hit an artery,” said Tom.  Before Henry could sink into despair again, Tom held his chin to force him to keep looking.  “But Albert’s getting treatment.  They’ll take care of him at the hospital.  And when he gets back here, you can tell him everything you have on your mind.”


Henry sighed and nodded.  Tom wasn’t sure if what he’d said had made a difference or not, but a soft knock came on the door before he could press further.  Vic poked his head in.


“Frank, I just got off the phone with Kelsey.”




“My girlfriend—she’s an ER nurse at Kings County Hospital.”


“Ah, right,” Tom nodded.


“They admitted Albert.  Kelsey said they had to do emergency surgery on him.  He lost a lot of blood, and they’re starting transfusions.  He hasn’t regained consciousness and it’s gonna be touch and go for a while, but she said the doctor feels confident that he’ll pull through.”


Henry lifted his head to look at Vic.  “He’s going to make it?”  Vic nodded and Henry said, “I want to go to the hospital.”


“Albert’s unconscious, Henry.  With the amount of blood he lost, he’ll probably be out for a while,” said Tom.  “He won’t know you’re there.”


“I want to give blood for him.”


Vic and Tom exchanged a glance.  Tom said, “That’s a noble idea, Henry.”


“Nothing noble about it,” denied Henry.  “It’s my fault he got hurt.  It’s the least I can do for him.”


“I want to give blood, too,” Donnie said from behind them.  Tom and Vic turned to see Donnie in the doorway, Dr. Walker behind him.


“Tell you what,” Vic said, seeing an opportunity and grabbing it, “you let Dr. Walker check you out and I’ll take you and anyone else who wants to donate blood to the hospital.”


Henry nodded and submitted to the doctor while Donnie dashed from the room, ostensibly to go round up blood donors.  While Tom would have gladly joined in that number, the intricacies of his blood type being different from Frank’s was an issue he didn’t want to deal with.





Kings County Hospital Center

Brooklyn, NY

Monday, March 16, 1987

5:05 PM


Nine men in addition to Donnie and Henry went to the hospital to donate blood for Albert Calavicci.  Vic drove the 15-passenger van which was unusually silent for the trip.  At the hospital, Henry demanded that he be first to donate, rolling his sleeve up when they were still in the parking lot.


Somewhat surprised by the size of their group, the hospital staff quickly set to work accommodating them.  Although they hesitated at the sight of Henry’s bruised face, Vic vouched for Dr. Walker’s clearance and they drew a pint from him.  After consuming the oatmeal cookie and orange juice, Henry paced the chamber as the others in turn gave blood. 


Finally, he approached Vic.  “I want to see Albert.”


“Henry, don’t you remember what Frank said?  He won’t even know you’re there.”


I’ll know.”


Vic sighed.  “Okay, Henry.  I’ll see if I can find someone to bring you up there.  You can sit with Albert until we leave.”  Vic got up and spoke to one of the nurses, who nodded and approached Henry with a kind smile on her face.


“Mr. Calavicci’s room is upstairs.  If you’ll follow me, please.”


Silently, Henry followed her to the elevator.  The trip up was short and it wasn’t long before she brought him to a semi-private room.  Though two beds were in the room, only Albert’s was occupied.  When the nurse left, Henry took a seat in the chair beside Albert’s bed and looked at him.


Albert’s long curly hair draped the lower portion of the pillow and his graying beard didn’t entirely hide the fact that his lips still lacked color.  Albert’s right upper arm was wrapped in thick gauze and an IV had been inserted into the crook of the same arm.  Henry shivered at the sight of the red blood making its way into Albert’s veins courtesy of the IV.


Henry took hold of Albert’s left hand.  “I’m sorry for all the things I said to you,” he whispered.  “You were so brave.  You saved my life, you know.”


He sat quietly for a few moments then said, “You have to get better, Albert.”


Albert didn’t react.  His eyes remained closed and only the slow inhales and exhales he made gave any sign that he was alive.


“A bunch of us gave blood for you.  Me and Donnie and Dylan.  Lucas has AIDS otherwise he woulda gave.  But Matthew’s here, and Vic, and a whole bunch of guys you don’t even really know.  That’s how important you are to us, Albert.”  Henry lowered his head and pressed Albert’s hand.  “That’s how important you are to me.”


Henry wondered how much time he had to sit with Albert before Vic would come to get him.  He was glad to see with his own eyes that Albert was on the mend, though.  Silently he sat with his head bowed, remembering Donnie’s words and praying for Albert.  He had no idea how long he sat that way when a soft moan drew his attention.




“Albert?”  Henry leaned in and saw Albert’s eyelashes fluttering on his cheeks.  “Albert, are you awake?”


Albert’s lips moved back and forth and his brow crinkled as he let out another groan, “Unnnnngggh.”


Henry asked again, “Albert?”


Gradually, Albert’s eyes slid open and he stared blearily at the ceiling before blinking and turning his head to the side.  Albert licked dry lips and looked at Henry as if he’d never seen him before.  He slowly blinked a couple more times then licked his lips again and croaked, “Henry?  Where am I?”


“You’re in the hospital, Albert.  You got stabbed in the arm.”


“I did?”  Albert turned his head to the other side and stared at the bandage on his arm and the blood being delivered via the needle.  He grimaced and rolled his head back to face Henry.  “What ‘bout you?  You okay?”


“Me?  I’m fine, thanks to you.”


“You don’t look fine,” Albert said thickly.


Henry laughed.  “Well, they did get some licks in before you got there.”


Albert nodded and started to close his eyes.  Henry called his name and Albert slowly forced them open.


“I want to tell you I’m sorry, Albert.  I treated you pretty badly.”  Henry lowered his eyes for a second then met Albert’s tired brown eyes again.  “Can you forgive me?”


“Already did,” Albert declared, giving Henry one last weak smile before surrendering to the exhaustion that laid claim on him once more.



Kings County Hospital Center

Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, March 17, 1987

10:35 AM


Tom drove to the hospital to pick Albert up, with Bobby riding shotgun beside him.  Bobby punched queries into the handlink and shook his head.


“Henry’s doing better, you said, and the scenarios prove that out.  I can only guess you’re still here for Albert.”


“He’d decided he wanted to sign on to the program,” Tom said.  “That was the last thing we’d talked about before he saved Henry.”


“I still can’t get over that, Tom.  You were dropped in here to save Henry and Calavicci does it for you.”


Tom looked at his Observer and nodded.  “Even after all he’s been through, he’s still a good man.”


“He always was,” Bobby agreed.  “Just lost his way for a while.”


“Does Alpha have any records of what happens to Albert after this?”


Bobby consulted the link.  “He reappears in the records as of yesterday with his hospital stay.  Alpha shows that he did indeed sign on to the Sanctuary House program, but after that, everything’s still in flux.  It can’t predict anything with any decent amount of certainty.”


“He doesn’t go back on the streets, does he?”


“I don’t know, Tom.  Alpha claims there is a scenario where Albert does end up on the streets.  One possibility has him helping Frank run the shelter until he’s killed in a holdup.  Still another has him marrying a woman half his age and running for office.”  Bobby shrugged.  “His future’s an open slate right now.”


“That should be reassuring, but it’s not.”  Tom parked the car and got out.  “You coming up with me?”


Bobby looked up at the hospital and shook his head.  “I’ve got nothing helpful for you, Tom.  You’re going to have to go with your instincts on this one so I’m going to help Gooshie get Alpha straightened out again.”


“Gee, thanks.”  Tom watched Bobby give him a rueful smile then punch out.  Sighing, Tom strode across the parking lot and entered the hospital.  He took the elevator to Albert’s floor and stopped at the nurse’s station.


“Hi, I’m Frank Benjamin.  I understand Albert Calavicci’s being released this morning.  I brought some clothes for him and I’ll be taking him home.”


The pretty blonde nurse smiled at him.  “You can go into his room.  Dr. Mathis just signed the papers.”


Tom returned her smile and walked into the room she indicated.  Albert was sitting on the bed, his bare legs dangling over the side as he gripped the IV pole for balance.  At some point they had transitioned Albert to glucose, for the liquid traveling through his IV was clear.  He looked up when he saw Tom out of the corner of his eye and surreptitiously tugged at his hospital gown, trying to cover a jagged scar on his right thigh.


“Hi,” Albert said.  “I’m just waiting for the nurses to get me free of this thing.”  He indicated the IV.


“Shouldn’t be long.  I understand the doctor already signed your release papers.”  Tom hefted the small paper bag he’d tucked under his arm and handed it to Albert.  “A change of clothes for you.”


“Thanks.”  Albert opened the bag and shifted position on the bed as he pulled the clothes from it to lay them in his lap.  Moments later, a dark-haired nurse entered.  “You here to take this out?” Albert asked without preamble.


“Hello to you, too,” she said, moving closer to him.  She shut off the valve controlling the drip first then removed the tubing from the cannula inserted into Albert’s arm.  “This might sting a little, chico,” she told him as she ripped the tape holding it down and then slid the needle from his arm.  Blood welled up and she tucked a piece of gauze in the crook of his arm before bending his elbow and directing him to hold his arm in position.


Albert winced as the movement of his bicep muscles caused his stitches to pull.  The nurse sympathetically patted his shoulder and said, “I know.  Oh, I see your friend brought you some clothes to go home in.  Let me help you.”  Before Albert could protest, she’d untied his hospital gown and removed it, hardly even hampered as she slid the wide sleeve over his bent arm.


Eyes bugging out, Albert held the clothes Tom had brought firmly in his lap and gathered the sheets around him as best as he could one handed.  “Do you mind?!” he finally choked out.


“Like you have anything I haven’t seen before,” snorted the nurse, reaching for the bundle of clothes Albert kept a death grip on.


Tom pressed his lips together to hold in an explosion of laughter and excused himself on pretense of having to go to the bathroom.  Once inside, he silently let it all loose, his humor tempered only by the sight of the scars covering Albert’s body, scars he knew had come from the POW camps where Albert had spent six years in captivity.  When he figured enough time had elapsed that one or the other of the two had won, he flushed the toilet and stepped out.


Albert sat on the bed in the empty room, fully dressed in the jeans and long sleeve plaid shirt.  His arms were folded over his chest and Tom would’ve sworn the man was pouting.  He looked over at Tom and growled, “Thanks a lot for leaving me alone with Nurse Ratched!”


“Wait a minute.  Am I hearing this correctly?  Albert Calavicci is complaining about having been left alone, naked, with a woman.  I’ll have to write this date down!”  As soon as the words left his mouth, Tom regretted them.


Albert narrowed his eyes, his scar once again scrunching.  “Who are you?  First you call me Bingo and now you seem to know about a reputation I had years ago.”


Tom hesitated then said, “Consider me your guardian angel if you like.”


Snorting, Albert shook his head and sighed.  “Have we met before?”


Trying to sound mocking, Tom truthfully answered, “In another life, maybe.”  While Albert thought about that, Tom asked, “So, are you ready to go home?”


“Home.”  Albert seemed to be trying the word out, tasting it almost.  He rubbed his face with his left hand, obviously still favoring his right, and said it again, “Home.”  He looked up at Tom and nodded.



Sanctuary House

Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, March 17, 1987

11:30 AM


The men of Sanctuary House were gathered in the dining room when Albert returned.  As soon as Frank escorted him past, they all cheered.  Though tired, Albert had allowed himself to be drawn in and seated as the men clapped his shoulder and shook his hand.  He tried to extend his left hand as much as possible due to the soreness in his right arm and after a while had just about decided to make use of the sling Dr. Mathis had given him.


As if reading his mind, Frank handed him the sling and helped him get his right arm situated in it.  The supportive fabric eased the pressure on his stitches and Albert let out a short exhale of relief that turned into a series of coughs.  Someone handed him a cup of water and gradually the throng began to drift off to get to work.  Donnie and Henry sat down at the table with him, as did Frank and Vic.


“Glad to have you back, Albert,” Donnie said, briefly squeezing Albert’s left hand.




Henry cleared his throat and then said, “Albert, I never really got to thank you for saving my life.”


Albert waved his left hand dismissively.  “You woulda done the same for me.”  He looked at Henry and saw that wasn’t the response the young man needed.  Smiling, Albert added, “You’re welcome.”


“Do you want to go up to your room and rest?” Vic asked.


“Lunch is due to start soon, isn’t it?”


Henry looked at Albert and said, “No one expects you to work today, Albert.”


Giving him a firm glare, Albert said, “I expect me to.”


“You can work the check-in desk for today’s meal, Albert,” said Frank.  “Just keep a tally of how many we feed.”


“Okay,” Albert nodded.  He grunted slightly as he got up from the chair and moved to the desk in the hallway.  Henry hurriedly caught up to him and pulled the chair out for him.  As Albert sat, he looked up at Henry and quipped, “Looking out for an old man?”


Henry shook his head.  “Helping out a friend.”



Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, March 17, 1987

1:07 PM


Captain Tom Beckett glanced at his companions as they approached the three story building that housed the homeless shelter.  Their Navy reunion had started with breakfast at the diner where they’d enjoyed liberty, and then they’d proceeded to tour New York, revisiting old locales and reminiscing.  Sanctuary House hadn’t been a shelter when Tom and his fellow naval officers had stopped there years ago.  It had, instead, been a tattoo parlor where each of them had gotten tattooed on their upper arm.


“C’mon, Lanny, show us your tattoo again,” laughed Commander Jack Grayson.


That sparked hysterical laughter among all the men.  Lanny Thomas had panicked halfway through the application of his choice of a buxom mermaid.  However, the artist, a particularly lecherous man egged on by drunken sailors, had done the breasts first.  Lanny thus became the proud possessor of a googly-eyed dragon.


“Did your wife ever take a really close look at those eyes?” chuckled Commander Fred Norris.


Captain Thomas shoved Norris and changed the subject.  “Sanctuary House, so what is this place now?”


“A homeless shelter,” Beckett answered.  “You know, this is the place that was in the paper.”


“The one where the resident broke up the drug deal and almost got killed for it—I saw that, too,” said Grayson.


Norris looked up at the sign and scratched the back of his head.  “You think places like this make a difference or just perpetuate homelessness?”  He nodded towards a cluster of poorly-dressed men shuffling down the steps and heading off towards the city.


“Who knows?” said Thomas.


Beckett shrugged.  “Supposedly this place has a residential program to help guys pick up the pieces, get them set up with a job.  At least that’s what the article said.”


They stood near the front steps, glancing from the sign to the front door when it opened and a large black man emerged followed by a shorter man with long, dark curly hair and a shaggy beard streaked with grey.  The short man’s right arm was in a sling and the black man helped him to sit down on the steps.


“I still say it’s not good for you to be outside,” the black man was saying.


“And I say I need some air,” argued the short man.


Something about his voice tickled at Tom Beckett’s memory and he broke away from his friends and their reminiscing about the tattoo parlor to walk up to the pair.


“Afternoon,” said the black man, kindly.  “Can we help you with something?”


Tom’s attention was focused on the short man, who suddenly wasn’t looking at him.  He stared so intently at him that it was obvious he was starting to ignite the black man’s protectiveness toward the smaller man.  Remaining polite but firm, the man asked again, “Can we help you with something?”


The short man continued to avert his gaze and Tom got the distinct impression he’d been recognized.  In that moment, something clicked and Tom asked, “Al?”


The man flinched and Tom knelt in front of him.  “It is you, isn’t it?  Al Calavicci?”


“Albert?  Do you know this man?”


Tom waited until the short man turned to face him and reluctantly said, “Hello, Tom.”



Albert cursed himself for insisting on going outside.  Now he was face to face with Tom Beckett in Hell’s version of This Is Your Life.  Beside him, he could feel Donnie’s readiness to leap to his protection in any way necessary and past Beckett, he was aware of the group of men with him.  Albert wanted to disappear, but he ultimately faced the man from his past and slowly said, “Hello, Tom.”


Tom’s eyes widened and he sat on the step below Albert’s.  “God, it’s been years since I last saw you, Al.”


“Go ahead and say it,” said Albert, “I look like hell.”


“Do you…work here?” Tom delicately asked.


“I live here.”


Tom was quiet for a moment.


“Excuse me,” said Donnie, “but how do you know Albert?”


Albert closed his eyes, dreading this, but Tom simply answered, “We used to work together.”


“When you were in the Navy?” Donnie asked Albert now. 


Albert nodded, but Tom offered, “We flew on Apollo together.”


Donnie’s eyes widened.  “Albert?  You were in the space program?”


“That was a long time ago, Donnie,” Albert said, looking down at his shoes.


An awkward silence fell for a few moments before Tom asked, “How have you been?”


Albert raised his eyebrows at him and then deliberately tilted his head so that the scar running down the left side of his face was in plain view as he looked up at the sign over their heads.  Turning back to face Tom, he said, “I’ve been getting by.”


The men with Tom were obviously getting impatient and they drew closer.  Finally, one of them leaned in and said, “Beckett, we’re going to head on to the restaurant.  We’ll hold a seat for you, okay?”


“Yeah, I’ll catch up,” Tom said, not even making a move towards getting up. 


That surprised Albert so much that he asked, “Why aren’t you going with them?”


“Because I’m talking with you.”


Albert didn’t know what to say.



Al’s silence unnerved Tom Beckett, for it spoke of deep emotion in response to Tom’s attentiveness.  The black man, Donnie, seemed to be weighing Al’s privacy (or Albert’s, as Tom noticed Donnie called him) versus his desire to protect him.  The sling Al’s right arm was in hadn’t escaped Tom’s notice and he wondered what had happened.  Hell, he wondered how Al had come by that scar on his face.


“So, Al, how did you end up in New York?”


“I grew up here.  Seemed like as good a place as any to come back to.”


“You have family here?”


Al laughed bitterly.  “Oh yeah…Pop’s in Potter’s Field and my sister’s in a churchyard on the other side of the city.”


Tom was shamed into silence.  “I’m sorry.”


“So am I,” said Donnie.


Al waved off their sympathy and asked Tom, “What brings you to New York?  Aren’t you still with Starbright?”  At Tom’s hesitation when the top secret project was mentioned, Al rolled his eyes.  “Oh, come on, Tom, just talking about the name isn’t gonna hurt anything.  Or is it that you’re worried what’ll happen to you if they find out you were talking to me and Starbright came up?”


Sensing Tom’s discomfort and picking up on the sensitive aspect to the conversation, Donnie got to his feet.  “I’m going inside, Albert.  Call if you need anything.”  He gave Tom a look that clearly said he would pay for any hurts he caused Albert.  Somehow, Tom was sure that included more than just physical ones.


“Yes, I’m still with Starbright,” Tom answered.  “As for what brings me to New York, it’s an informal reunion with some Navy buddies.”


“Must be nice,” Al said wistfully, looking past Tom in a way that made it seem he was looking into time itself rather than the street beyond.


Tom finally decided to bring up the elephant in the room.  “How long have you been homeless, Al?” he bluntly asked.


Al sighed and looked away from Tom as he answered, “Since ’85.”


“Two years?” 


Al shrugged.


“I’m sorry.”


“Don’t be!”  A sudden fire came into Al’s being and he gave Tom a hard look.  “You didn’t put me here, okay?”


Tom silently nodded and that seemed to satisfy Al.


“So, you still in the Navy?” Al asked, conversationally.


“Yeah, just made full bird.”




Tom remembered that Al had been a captain when he’d been dishonorably discharged.  It made him feel awkward but didn’t seem to have that effect on Al.


“You ever miss it?” he asked.


Al’s smile was tinged with sadness.  “All the time.”


They sat in silence for a moment until Al said, “Well, I guess I better get back inside before they think something happened to me.  And you’ve got friends waiting.”  He hitched himself to his feet, grunting and reflexively holding the sling as he did.


“It was good to see you again, Al,” Tom said sincerely, getting to his feet as well.


“You, too.”


Before Al turned to go, Tom stood straight and angled his right hand to his brow in a sharp salute.



Albert stared at Tom Beckett as he held the salute.  For a split second, he wondered if he was being mocked, but Tom stayed at attention, gazing kindly and respectfully at him.  As he realized Tom’s sincerity, Albert’s eyes briefly drifted closed and he felt his brows tilt in a pained way then he opened his eyes and looked at the tall sandy haired man. 


He automatically started to lift his right arm before he remembered it was in a sling and felt the pain of calling the muscle into use.  Mentally fumbling, Albert lifted his left hand in a salute, held it for a second, and then snapped it down.  Tom held his for another second before snapping down himself.  Without saying another word, Albert turned and walked inside the shelter.


He was grateful that the tears waited until he was inside.



Sanctuary House

Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, March 17, 1987

5:35 PM


By the end of the day, Tom Beckett, Leaper, was wondering why he was still there.  Bobby had come back from helping to stabilize Alpha and had no further information for him.  The two of them were in Frank’s office, Tom assembling Albert’s file.


“Have any of his possible futures increased in odds?”


Bobby shook his head.  “I don’t get it.  Normally Alpha can sort through the possibilities easier than this.  It just hasn’t been right this Leap.  Gooshie’s gonna run a diagnostic when you’re between Leaps again.”


“Sounds like a good idea,” Tom said.


A knock on the door stopped their conversation and Tom called out, “Come in.”


Henry poked his head in the door.  “Frank, sorry to bother you, but there’s a gentleman here, a Captain Beckett, says he needs to talk to the man in charge.”


“You can send him in,” said Tom.  As soon as Henry disappeared, Tom whirled on Bobby.  “Captain Beckett?  Me?”


Before Bobby could answer, the office door opened again and Tom saw himself, twenty years younger, enter the office.


“Mr. Benjamin?  Captain Tom Beckett, nice to meet you.”  His younger self extended a hand and Tom shook it.


“How can I help you, Captain?” Tom asked.


“I wanted to talk to you about one of your residents, Albert Calavicci.  I used to work with him and I lost track of him about three years ago.  Today I met him outside Sanctuary House.”


Tom didn’t remember any encounter with Al any more than he recalled this encounter.  Still, he carried along as he believed Frank would have.  “Albert didn’t do anything to upset you, I hope.”


“Oh, no, not at all!” Beckett was quick to assure him.  “I was just wondering how long Al’s been living here.”


“A few days now.”


Beckett appeared surprised by that.  “That’s all? 


Tom nodded.  Hesitant to violate Albert’s privacy, he questioned, “If I may, Captain Beckett, why is it important to you?”


Beckett nodded, implicitly understanding.  “I don’t want to intrude on Al’s personal life and I don’t want to ask you anything that would violate his trust.  Am I correct in my understanding that Sanctuary House’s goal is to help men get back on their feet?”


Tom affirmed that it was and when asked if Albert was involved with that program, Tom said, “Yes, he’ll be starting full-fledged tomorrow.”


“May I ask you, Mr. Benjamin, what your opinion of him is?”


The handlink squealed, and Bobby said, “Tom, Alpha thinks this may be a key to why you’re still here.”


Choosing his words carefully, Tom answered, “I think Albert has a remarkably positive attitude considering all he’s been through.  He’s recovering from a bronchial infection that’s bordering on pneumonia and he nearly died yesterday when he got stabbed saving one of our other residents from an attack by two pushers.”


“That was Al?”  Beckett gaped.  “I read the article but neither man was named.  No wonder his arm was in a sling!”


Tom nodded.  “He’s very proud and independent.  And a hard worker.”


Beckett got reflective.  “That’s the sense I got from talking to him this afternoon.  He’s still sharp as ever.”  He looked intently at the man he saw as Frank Benjamin.  “I know it will be a long time before Al ‘graduates’ from your program, but when he does…”  Beckett reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet, withdrawing a business card.  He tucked the wallet back into his pocket and handed “Frank” the card.  “I don’t expect these numbers to be changing any time soon.  Don’t tell Al—Albert—that I talked to you.  Just…hold onto that card, and when he’s ready have him get in touch with me.”


Tom stapled the card to the inside of Albert’s file folder and scrawled a note to Frank Benjamin to that effect.  He looked up at Beckett and smiled.  “Thank you, Captain Beckett, you’re a good man.”


“So are you,” Beckett said.  “And so’s Al.  If you haven’t found that out already, you will.”


Both men rose and shook hands again.  When his younger self left, Tom turned to Bobby and widened his eyes.  “You’re not gonna tell me that didn’t change anything?”


Bobby just stared dumbfounded at the door.  “I’m still stunned.”  He looked at Tom, “You didn’t remember that was going to happen?”


Tom shook his head.  “I don’t even remember ‘talking to Al outside’.  Did you check the histories?”


Bobby started to consult the handlink when another knock came on the door.


“Come in,” Tom said again.


He and Bobby both stared as Albert entered the office.  Tom could now see that the scar on Albert’s face ran the length of his jaw to the point of his chin, because the beard was gone.  In addition, Albert’s long hair had been trimmed to an almost military length, not professionally, but well enough to pass muster.




Nodding and smiling at Tom, Albert ran a hand across his chin and said, “I figured if I was gonna start over I might as well go all out.” 


“You did that yourself?” Tom asked, indicating Albert’s arm still in the sling.


Albert laughed. “No, Donnie and Dylan helped me out.”  He scuffed the back of his head with his left hand and said, “Not the best job, I know.”


“It looks good,” Tom said, honestly, and was rewarded by Albert’s broad smile.


“Thanks.”  Albert glanced around the office and saw the file with his name printed on the tab.  “I guess it’s official, huh?”


Tom reflexively looked over, relieved he had closed the file so that “his” business card wasn’t visible.  “Yeah.  The rest is up to you.”


“I won’t let you down, Frank.  I promise,” Albert said.


Tom felt the tingling start, and said, “Just don’t let yourself down, Albert.”


And Leaped.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

1375 hours


“What do you mean you’re going to Washington?”


Al Calavicci stood in front of Bobby LoNigro’s desk with a look of utter panic on his face. 


“Someone’s got to make the budget proposals to the Committee, and Tom isn’t exactly available for it,” Bobby said.  “As Acting Director of the Project it falls to me.”


“But what if Tom lands while you’re gone?”


Bobby looked steadily at Al.  “Then you’ll observe for him.”


“Bobby, I can’t do that!”


“You’ve filled in before.”


“Yeah, when you were stuck in a meeting or down with the flu, but you were still here!” complained Al.


Bobby got to his feet and walked around the desk to stand next to Al.  He put a hand on Al’s thin shoulder and looked into his eyes.  “Al, you can do this.  Just be yourself, you’ll have the handlink to give you information.  Gooshie’s already got Ziggy coordinated to your brainwaves; you know, sometimes I think that computer works better with you than me.”


Al snorted.


“Tom needs contact with us back here—he knows you and trusts you. You’ll do fine, Al.”


“I hope you’re right, Bobby.”


The computer chose that moment to speak up, “You have handled yourself well in each of your prior Observation sessions, Albert.  I see no reason why this occasion should prove any different.”


Not sure where to direct his attention, Al grimaced at the ceiling.  “Uh, thanks.”


“Incidentally, Albert, your presence is required in the Imaging Chamber.  Captain Beckett has Leaped.  His current location is St. Louis, Missouri and the date is August 15, 1954.”


Al sighed and made a face at Bobby, then turned towards the door.  He took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and headed for the Control Room.  Bobby moved to the corridor and watched him go.  As he walked Al’s confidence level seemed to shift from feigned to actual as his posture straightened accordingly. 


“You’ll do fine, Al,” Bobby quietly said.  “You were meant to be here.”


Silently, the computer agreed.


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