Sam had just collapsed onto the couch in the elaborate hotel room when there was a knock on the door. He stood reluctantly and walked to it, praying that the person on the other side was not a reporter.
“Um…who is it?”
“Judy,” a woman’s voice called.
Well, that certainly helped. “Uh…yeah…uh…Judy who?”
The woman laughed. “Judy, your sister, Jack! Don’t tell me you don’t remember my voice?”
“My sister…yeah…of course.” He fumbled with the lock. The door opened to reveal a tall, dark-haired young woman who smiled familiarly at him. “Of couse I remember you…Judy. Please, come in.”
“You’ve made quite a name for yourself, Jack.” she tossed a newspaper she had been carrying onto the couch. “You even made the front page.”
Sam picked it up and quickly read the article. “FAN SAVES FERNE MARSHALL FROM ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: Jack Kemp, 28, of Long Beach, California, saved the life of Ferne Marshall last night at the premiere of her new movie, ‘Crosswinds’, when an unknown gunman fired at her from the midst of the crowd. Without regard for his own safety, the young paramedic threw himself in front of the star, pulling her to the ground. Although the first shot did hit Miss Marshall in the shoulder, Kemp used his skills to stem the bleeding. Miss Marshall is currently in the ICU of Cedars Sinai Hospital but is expected to make a complete recovery. Doctors say that without this young man’s intervention, Marshall would have died.” His eyes moved quickly to the date on the paper.
“September 10th, 1978,” he mumbled. Not the seventies again!
“Hey, I know it’s last week’s paper, but the story is still pretty hot.”
Sam nodded. “Last week’s…So today is the…”
“Seventeenth,” Judy supplied helpfully. “Losing track of time, huh?”
“Yeah, I guess the days have kind of just…run together.”
“Well, no wonder with all this madness. There are more reporters outside this building than there are fleas on a dog!”
Sam smiled at the analogy. “I noticed.”
Judy’s eyes took on a wistful look. “What’s she like, Jack?”
He looked at her, startled. “Who?”
“Ferne Marshall, of course.”
“Uh…well, I…I…she’s…um…” Sam stammered.
His visitor sighed. “That’s right. They said she passed out right after you got her down. I guess that doesn’t really count as meeting her.”
Sam Beckett alias Jack Kemp breathed a sigh of relief. “I guess not.”
He turned his head abruptly at the sound. A smile spread over his face at the sight of Al standing behind him with a deep frown on his face, a cigar in one hand and a handlink in the other. He was wearing his dress whites.
“Uh, would you excuse me for a moment, Judy? I need to, uh…” He pointed vaguely in the direction of the bathroom.
Judy smiled. “That’s okay,” she assured him, standing. “I need to get going. Just wanted to bring that by.”
“Yes, well thank you very much. Um…give my love to…everyone, will you?”
“Sure thing. Bye!” She gave him a quick hug an slipped out the door.
Without turning, he tried to anticipate Al’s response to Judy. “She’s his sister, Al.” He turned to face his friend.
Al looked startled. “What did I say?”
“All right, what did you think I was going to say?”
“What do you always say when you find me in the same room with a beautiful woman?”
“Geez, Sam! I’m a married man, for crying out loud!”
Sam stared. “What? Again?”
Al waved his hand to dismiss the statement. “I can’t tell you anything you don’t remember, remember?”
“All right, all right. Where have you been, any way?”
At this point, his friend exploded. “Where have I been?! Where have YOU been?! We’ve been hunting all over time for you ever since that last Leap…!”
Sam interrupted, puzzled. “What are you talking about?”
“That Leap you took when you decided to start going solo, or something!”
Al fixed his eyes on his friend’s face. “You don’t remember, do you?”
Sam shook his head. As far as he was concerned, Al was babbling.
“Sheesh! It’s that damned swiss-cheesed memory of yours! Always kicks in when I want to yell at you!”
“What did you want to yell at me about?”
“For leaving me out of the picture on your last few Leaps!” he grumbled.
“Why would I do that? How could I even if I wanted to?”
“Beats me. That’s what I was going to ask you.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Al, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I would have done anything like that…”
The hologram brushed it aside. “It’s OK. Probably wanted to spare me or some idiotic thing like that. Besides…I need to thank you, too.”
“Thank me for what?”
“For Beth. You gave her back to me, Sam.”
Sam smiled, realizing now what had brought on the change in his friend’s attitude. “I thought you weren’t supposed to tell me that if I didn’t remember.”
Al shrugged. “What good is a rule if you never bend it? Besides, you bent the rules to get her back for me.”
The physicist shook his head. “I wish I could remember…”
“It doesn’t matter. WHat matters is that you gave her back to me. That’s the greatest gift anyone could give me, Sam. I can never thank you enough.”
Sam nodded. “Well, how is she?”
“She’s doing great, and so are our girls.”
Sam raised an eyebrow. “Your girls?”
Al smiled affectionately. “Yeah. We’ve got four daughters. Ain’t that a kick in the butt?”
Sam laughed. “Actually it seems remarkably appropriate.”
“What are their names?”
“Elisabeth, Trudi, Ruth and Samantha.”
The younger man smiled. “Samantha?”
“Yeah, we named her for you but she came out looking like me, poor kid.” He grinned. “She even inherited my fashion sense.”
“Now THAT’S scary!”
The two men smiled at each other across the couch.
“Geez, I wish I was really in the same room with you right now!” Al muttered. “So I could sock you for disappearing on us.”
Sam smiled, recalling a similar sentiment he had felt…when? Well, apparently it wasn’t important for this Leap or he would remember. “What am I here for, Al?”
Al poked at the handlink. “Well, let’s see…your name is…”
“Jack Kemp, I know, and I’ve just become famous for saving the life of Ferne Marshall. May I ask why I Leaped in here after he saved her?”
“Because our friendly anonymous gunman is going to try again, and this time Mr. Kemp isn’t on hand to save her. Huh! In fact the assassin apparently sets him up to look like an apprentice and he spends a couple of years in jail until new evidence turns up that proves his innocence.”
“Great, so am I supposed to save her life againor just keep Jack from getting sent to prison for it?”
Al smiled, his eyes sharing some private joke with himself. “I think you’ll definitely want to save her, although it would be better if you could find the assassin before he gets a chance to try again.”