Fic: Ships in the Night part 16/17 (QL, Sam/Donna)

“Al! Get Sam in there, quickly!” Beth shouted to her husband as Sam pulled Jack’s car up before Ferne’s house.

Al swore. Sam glanced at him, startled.

“He’s got her cornered!” The Admiral explained quickly.

The Leaper needed no further warning. He bolted out of the car and raced to the house. The door was open.

With a nod to each other, the two Observers centered on Donna.

*****

Beth reappeared beside Donna, her breath as short as if she had just been running. “He’s coming.”

Downstairs, the front door slammed.

“Ferne!” a voice called urgently.

Allan looked up, startled. It was all Donna needed. With a skilled reflex that surprised her, she kicked the gun out of his hand and it landed on the stairs.

“Up here!” she called as loud as she could, not knowing she spoke simultaneously with Al.

“She’s up here, Sam!” Al repeated, still unheard by the combatants on the landing.

Allan lunged for Donna, but she ducked out of his path. Unfortunately, he landed instead next to his gun, which he immediately picked up. He glanced for a moment from his target to the silhouetted form making his way towards them downstairs. He waved the gun in Donna’s direction.

“I’ll be back for you!” he threatened, backing slowly and silently down the stairs. At the foot, he turned and ducked under the staircase, moments before Sam reached it.

“Ferne, are you all right?” Sam asked, hurrying towards her.

“Jack! Behind you!” Donna screamed, as Allan left his hiding place and charged toward the man on the stairs, his gun leveled at ‘Jack’s’ head.

Sam reacted instinctively. He spun, his hands flying out in a deft movement that caught Allan in the throat. In a few short, blurred moments, Allan lay on the floor at the foot of the stairs and Sam was picking up his gun.

The assassin raised his head weakly and started to get up, but Sam leveled the gun at him and cocked it back.

“Don’t move,” he said evenly. The Leaper glanced back up to the landing, where ‘Ferne’ was still standing, one hand resting lightly on her chest. “Are you all right?”

Donna nodded breathlessly. At that moment, the housekeeper burst in.

“Are you all right Miss Marshall? I heard a noise–” Her eyes drifted to where Sam was still holding the gun on Allan. “Dios Mio! What happened?”

“I’ll explain later. Is your phone working?”

The older woman nodded, mute with astonishment.

“Then could you go call the police, please? Ask them to come and pick up Allan?”

Nodding again, she turned and shuffled out.

It seemed forever before the police came and took Allan into custody. They questioned both Sam and Donna on what had happened. Sam had the hardest job–explaining what had possessed him to come to Ferne Marshall’s house in the middle of the night–but with Al’s help he provided an acceptable story. What it boiled down to was that he couldn’t sleep and went for a drive, somehow ending up on Ferne’s street, and decided to investigate when he saw the front door of her house suspiciously standing open. Donna hedged a few questions about Ferne’s relationship with Allan, with Beth supplying all the details she didn’t know. Finally, the inquiry was finished and the police departed with Gardener in custody.

“I guess I should get back to the hotel,” Sam decided reluctantly, after everyone else but Donna had either left or gone back to bed.

“Please don’t go, Jack.”

Sam turned back to Donna.

“You don’t have to stay very long,” she continued. “I just don’t want to be alone right now.”

Sam nodded. “All right.”

“How did you know, Jack?”

“Know what?”

“That Allan was the one who’d tried to kill me. That he was going to try again tonight?”

Sam started to offer the same explanation he’d given the police, but Donna held up a hand to cut him off.

“Don’t lie to me Jack, please?”

Sam was silent, not sure of what to say.

“Chief Harris called me yesterday. He told me you came in and asked them to investigate Allan. That you even knew I was planning to take him out of my will, even though I hadn’t told anyone. How did you know?”

Al and Beth exchanged a worried glance.

“I…I can’t tell you, Ferne.”

Frustrated, Donna drove her fist into one of the cushions on the couch in Ferne’s spacious living room.

“Donna, don’t–” Beth began.

“Why?” she demanded of both of them. There was no response.

With a sigh, Donna dismissed her suspicions as wishful thinking, not even knowing why it seemed so important to know. “I’m sorry, Jack.”

“Well, I for one am just glad this whole mess is over with,” Beth changed the subject.

Donna smiled sadly. “Yeah, me too.”

At the same time, Al chimed in with “You can say that again.”

Sam glanced from Donna to Al, startled. “What did you say?”

Al, realizing his mistake, was silent. Not knowing Al was even in the room, Donna assumed the question was directed at her.

“Um…that’s two. That’s two times you’ve saved my life.”

“Nice catch,” Beth commented.

Sam smiled. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

It took Donna a few surprised seconds to realize he was responding to what SHE had said.

“How can I thank you enough?”

“You don’t have to. Just getting to know you has been thanks enough.”

Is this always what it’s like? Donna wondered bitterly. Falling in love with someone who loves the person he thinks you are? Having to give him up to someone who doesn’t even know him?

I’m going to lose her too, Sam realized. Just like Diane, Tamlyn, Alia, Dana… There was someone else too, someone whose name he couldn’t quite reach… Why does it always have to be like this?

“Jack, I…” Donna began hesitantly.

Without either of them really knowing how it happened, they kissed–their eyes closed before their lips touched. A strange, electric excitement ran through both of them, reminding Sam of what it had been like the first time he touched Alia, but more intense, as if coupled with what he had always felt when he kissed–

Donna! For the first time since he had Leaped to save Al in 1945, memories of his wife flooded into Sam’s mind. Horrified, he pulled away from the kiss.

Startled, Donna’s eyes flew open, and the sight brought back everything she had been hunting for.

“Sam…” she whispered, tears of joy running down her face. “Oh my God–Sam!”

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