“Would you rather I have forced her to stay here, gradually losing her hope?”
Al shook his head impatiently, trying to remain unmoved by Beth’s logic.
“No, but I didn’t particularly want to have two of them to look for either!”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Beth replied calmly.
“But what about the girls?”
“I consulted the girls about it before Lisa and Trudi left and they agreed with me. Ruth even offered to watch Samantha when we both have to be here.”
Beth placed a restraining hand on her husband’s arm. “I know what I’m doing, Al. I would have done anything to go over to ‘Nam and look for you when you were there.”
Al opened his mouth as if to object, and Beth smiled sadly.
“In this timeline at least,” she amended.
The Admiral stared at the cigar in his hand, frustrated. “I guess I feel like she gave up. Like she decided I couldn’t find him, that I’d failed…”
Beth took Al’s chin firmly in one hand and looked him straight in the eyes. “You haven’t failed anyone, Al. You’ve done everything humanly possible–maybe more–to find Sam. Maybe this is the only way *to* find him.”
“Well, then it should be me! I promised I’d bring him home..!”
“Do you think I’d let you out of my sight if I thought you were going to do that?” Beth scolded. “I need you here, Al. We need you here. Sam needs you here.”
There was an awkward pause. “No one else can contact Sam, Al,” she reminded him. “He needs you here.”
Suddenly, Gooshie’s voice came over the intercom, filled with excitement. “Admiral Calavicci! There’s someone in the Waiting Room!”
“Yeah, I know, Gooshie. You a big Ferne Marshall fan or something?”
“No, no! I mean someone ELSE!”
Al looked at Beth, startled. “She can’t have Leaped again already! You haven’t even spoken to her yet, how would she know what to do?”
“Admiral, you don’t understand!” Gooshie insisted. “It’s DOCTOR BECKETT!”
There was a brief, stunned silence. “Wouldn’t that be just like him to come home right after she Leaps out to hunt for him?” Al muttered.
“Is he sure it’s Sam?” Beth asked.
“Gooshie, are you sure?”
This time Ziggy’s voice answered him. “There is a 50% probability that this is Doctor Beckett. Nevertheless, it is equally possibly someone he has Leaped into. You will be able to see for certain, will you not?”
Al nodded. His neural link to Sam enabled him to see the visitors in the Waiting Room as they really were, instead of with Sam’s face. “We’ll be right there.”
It was the face of a stranger. To Al, the face of the young man in the Waiting Room was as unfamiliar as the many other faces that had come through there since Sam’s first Leap. Even though Beth couldn’t see it, she knew by the expression on her husband’s face that his best friend had not returned. Silently she took Al’s hand to reassure him.
“Well,” he commented. “At least we’ll know where he is now.”
“I’m sorry I did not inform you earlier, Admiral. However, I thought you would prefer to see for yourself,” the computer interceded.
Al nodded. “Yeah, Ziggy.”
Beth frowned. “You knew it wasn’t him, Ziggy?”
“Of course. Since the neural link that enables your husband to see Doctor Beckett as himself is established through me, doesn’t it make sense that my visual sensors would have the same capability? I also see Ferne Marshall in Dr. Elise’s place, as you do.”
“Do you think we should put him in another room?” She indicated the man wearing Sam’s face.
Al shook his head. “Nah, let ’em get acquainted. They probably won’t remember a thing about it afterwards anyway.”