title: as time goes by redux - the promise

author: duck

category: angst and romance

summary: an alternate universe take on the episode as time goes by. joseph comes back, but things have changed a lot more for olga.

author's note: i've moved the episode to about the second season or so instead of the first. fits better in the timeline. oh, and i had no idea if if it was "josef" or "joseph," so i went with joseph. if someone informs me otherwise i'll change it. soundtrack listed at the end of each part.

disclaimer: i don't own seven days...if i did it'd be out on dvd. anyway, i don't own any of the characters, the episode in which this is set, etc etc. i can barely afford college, so why sue me? great, glad we got that out of the way.

Frank B. Parker, the world's only surviving and functional chrononaut, lay face down on the bed most of the way to passed out. The alcohol binge last night was probably a bad idea, he mused to himself. He'd passed out already of course, and he was regretting ever waking up. But hey, when you had something to celebrate, might as well go all out.

He heard the door open and close. He groaned as it echoed in his ears to cannon shot noise level. Better yet, anti-tank missile-passing-within-an-inch-of-your-ear level. He forced his eyes open a slit and watched a very fuzzy form bend over him. A cool hand passed over his forehead and he mumbled incoherently.

"I told you so."

"I thought you weren't ever going to say that," Frank got out, becoming more alert by the second.

"And you weren't ever going to drink this much," came the even reply. The slim and very feminine form slid next to him in the bed. "Oh Frank," she sighed as she kissed his forehead, recently deprived of her hand.

"Don't 'oh Frank' me, Olga," he warned halfheartedly before snuggling himself closer to her. He closed his eyes again as he rested his nose against hers. "Mmm, I love you."

"If you really loved me you'd stop drinking so much and get some help," she chastised lightly. Her hand wandered over and up his back, finally settling in his hair.

"Now who's the manipulative one?" he asked, one eye opening lazily. It didn't do much good, even in the semi-darkness, so he closed it.

"Frank I'm serious," she said firmly, running her hand through his hair. "As your doctor I'm telling you it's not healthy to drink that much."

"I don't do it that often. It's not like I can get much here anyway." She sensed his irritation immediately.

"Don't get defensive, Frank. I'm only trying to help because I care about you." Her hand stopped moving.

"If you really cared you'd leave me alone," he mocked.

"Fine, if that's how you feel about it, I'll leave." She moved to stand up but he stopped her with a splayed hand to the back. The effort cost him the renewal of the pounding headaches, but it was worth it.

"Olga, wait, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that." She remained crouched on the bed. "I promise I'll try to give the alcohol a rest, okay? Not drink so much each time." Hell he might even stick to it if his hangovers were going to be this bad.

"You can't just quit like that," she said, her tone half accusing. "You need help...a support group."

"Hey, I have you don't I?"

He felt her body's tension decrease under his hand as she lowered herself down next to him. "I suppose you do at that." She sighed loudly. "What am I ever going to do with you?" she asked lightly.

"Love me and hope for the best?" he answered, pulling her into a tight embrace.

"Yes, well, we do have a lot to talk about."

"The future is quite uncertain for us," he said observantly.

"Thank you Captain Obvious." He could practically hear her eyes roll. "I did use that correctly?" Her Russian accent lilted uncertainly.

"Yes, Olga, perfectly," he said chuckling. He kissed the top of her head and was quiet for a moment.

"So..." she trailed off hesitantly.

"Yeah, so..." Frank reached up and flipped on the bedside light. He realized his eyes were getting better when he looked down and could make out his quizzical expression mirrored on her face.

"Incidentally, what are we supposed to talk about in this situation?" she finally asked.

"Y'know, I'm really not sure. People make a big deal out of it, but I think the only thing to really talk about is what we're going to do in the immediate future."

"Well?"

"Well you take it easy for about seven months...then chaos sets in. We never sleep, we don't get to go anywhere, do anything. No fun, nothing." The headache was getting worse just thinking about it. Hell no one on the base knew yet that he and Olga were even together, much less about to drop a bomb roughly the size of a breadbox on the well-ordered machinery that was Never Never Land. Give it a couple weeks though and people would begin to notice.

He let go of Olga and repositioned himself so he could talk to her stomach. "You hear that, little one? You're going to totally screw up our lives and we're going to enjoy every second of it. Even when you wake us up in the middle of the night crying for no reason." He gently kissed the t-shirt that lie loosely over her midriff and moved back up to arrange himself next to her. A slight frown creased her features. He was instantly concerned. "What's wrong?"

"Frank," she began, but bit her lip, unable to continue.

"What?" He cupped her cheek with his hand.

"There's an 'us' to come back to now, instead of just a me. What am I going to do if you don't come back?"

"Oh." He lay quietly for a moment. "This is about Joseph, isn't it?" She had explained it all to him when they first admitted how they felt. Part of the reason she was so stubborn at first against anything involving the two of them was because she'd already lost one chrononaut she'd loved and didn't want to do it again.

"I suppose. You can't blame me for being leery. I know the Backstep program here is much safer because of the alien technology, but still...almost everyone died until you came along." He smiled reassuringly as he wiped away a single tear that tracked down her cheek.

"There's this song that I really like, Olga. It makes me think of you. About love and all that other good stuff, but the real kicker is the promise the singer makes. I'll make that same promise to you right here and now, sworn on our unborn child--" he slid his hand over her stomach "--that 'I'll find my way back to you if you'll be waiting...I vow to come for you, if you will wait for me.'"

"But how can you promise that?"

"Because I can," he shrugged. "All you have to do is...how did she put it...'hold a place for me in your heart.'"

"And you'll always come back?"

"Yup. I promise." He dismissed the topic with a kiss and said, "Now, there is one more thing." The phone cut off what he was about to say, and he rolled his eyes and answered it. "Parker."

Olga watched the expression on his face change from vague annoyance to incredulity. "No way...really?" His eyes widened in surprise. "I'll be right there."

"What is it?" she asked as Frank rose from the bed and began to throw on clothes.

"Get up," he said, "something's crashed in the desert. They're bringing it in now. They think it's an alien craft. Donovan and I are going in first." The excitement in his voice was enough to rouse her, even if his words had not been.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

They were at the hangar only moments later, Olga huffing slightly out of breath. Everyone was scrambling everywhere and over everything. Only Talmadge stood still, his carriage stoically ramrod straight with pride flaming in his eyes as he surveyed the floor. Donovan was striding towards them, a wide grin splitting his face.

"We gotta get suited up, buddy, we're goin' in!" he crowed happily. "They want you over there, Olga," he continued, pointing his finger in the direction of Talmadge and the rest. "You'll be monitoring vitals and all that."

"Good luck to the both you," she said nodding and slipping a small smile to Frank. He caught it and returned a wink and a cocky grin.

It was a few minutes before Donovan and Frank finished suiting up and entered the craft. She used the time to get up to speed and she thought she was ready to go when they entered the ship. But as Frank discovered the decidedly human passenger, the face that floated onto the screen was not one she was prepared to see. As the horror of what was going on began to sink in to her shocked psyche, words slipped out too low to be heard by even Ballard sitting closest to her. "Joseph...oh God, Frank."

And all went black.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

"--hat---ppened?"

"----said some-----ouldn't hea---------fell."

The voices faded in and out as colors began to swim in front of her eyes. Something tugged at the back of her memory like a cord, yanking and straining to get her attention. She mumbled the words that flew to her unconsciously.

"Wha------she--say?"

"----I think----Joseph? -----who's tha---"

At the name spoken she shot awake through the layers of darkness and bright colors to gasp for breath, a death grip on someone's arm. Another arm came around to support her shoulders as she sat up. Frank's face came into sharp focus as he said, "Joseph you mean?" Fearful eyes looked out from under his raised eyebrows as she nodded. She followed his gaze as it swung to the craft were a limping and bedraggled man was being helped out.

Her left hand didn't loosen its death grip on Frank's arm, but her right reached out almost longingly to the figure. Frank scooped her up in one quick motion. "Nuh-uh," he cautioned. "Not till a doctor looks at *you* first."

She tried to protest, but couldn't get much further than a disgruntled "hmmph" before she settled into his arms, content to let someone else deal with it for the time being.

Frank for his part strode past Joseph and his escort without sparing him even a glance.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

"Who is this 'Joseph' character?" Ramsey downed half a glass of water in one gulp and glanced around at the other occupants of the briefing room. "And what the hell is he doing here anyway?"

"Joseph Vukavitch was a chrononaut from the Russian time travel program," Isaac filled in. "He was also Olga's husband. He disappeared when they attempted a forward jump in time, along with their craft. It was essentially the deathblow for the program."

"Huh, looks like your chances just went to zip with Olga, Parker," Ramsey snorted.

"Shut up, Ramsey," Frank said irritably. "I already knew about him. But that still doesn't answer what he's doing here now though."

"Perhaps this is where he ended up in time," Donovan suggested. He swiveled in his chair to face Ballard. "What's the conclusion on his ship?"

"It's far too advanced to have come from the past. There's some equipment on board that I can't even recognize and I think it's powered by a photon reactor." Ballard grinned with excitement. "It's much better than what we originally tested with and if I can study it in depth, I might be able to incorporate it with the alien technology. Stabilize it you know, for longer backsteps. I've got a whole lot of ideas just bouncing around--"

"Great, Dr. Ballard," Talmadge interrupted. "You and your team get to work immediately on it. In the meantime, the doctors inform me Joseph has woken. Olga is with him now."

Frank went suddenly very straight in his chair. "Are you sure that's a good idea sir? We still don't even know if he's on our side. Can we even trust him? Last thing he knew the US was the enemy." Everyone was quiet for a moment. "This doesn't sound totally crazy, does it?"

"For once Parker, you and I agree on something," Ramsey muttered. "Damn communists."

"I don't think we have to worry about him, Frank," Talmadge reassured. "If he really is from the future then he'd know that hostilities have been over between the US and Russia for a while now."

"Unless they were resumed in the future," Frank said darkly. He glared at the staring faces and interpreted their looks as he knew they probably intended. "I'm not saying these things 'cause I'm jealous or anything."

"No one said you were, Frank," Donovan said quietly.

"But you all thought it. Well I'm not, end of story." Frank got up abruptly. "I think I'll go see our other time traveler. Got a few questions for the only other man who's ever done it and not died." He left without another word.

"Something's up with him," Donovan said after Frank had left. "The only other time I've seen him get this jealous was with his ex-wife."

"What are you trying to say about Parker?" Ramsey asked. "The way I see it he's the only other one talking some sense. Never thought I'd say that." He rubbed the back of his neck ruefully.

"Keep an eye on him, Craig," Talmadge said in the decisive tone that said he'd made a final decision. "You see or hear anything out of the ordinary, let me know. If it will make you feel better, Nate," he continued, addressing Ramsey, "assign a security detail to Dr. Vukavitch. I hope he will accept an invitation to join our team, but until then perhaps he does need to be monitored."

"You're offering him a position here?!" Ramsey spat out incredulously. "Aside from it being insane to offer a Russian a place in a highly classified US facility, we'll lose Parker over this! Mark my words, he'll be gone or need to be sent back to Hansen Island before the week's out."

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Frank was at that moment staring through a glass window into Joseph Vukavitch's room in the medical center. His features were clouded with a strange mixture of uncertainty and dread. Joseph was awake and talking to Olga, often reaching out to touch her face. Frank exhaled sharply, then raised his fist to knock politely. Olga turned away from Joseph, eyes filling with tears as she looked at the door. Frank still stood with his knuckles to the glass caught in the instant before knocking. Their eyes connected for a brief moment and she wiped her tears away with a quick swipe and turned back to Joseph. They spoke for a second and she rose heading towards the door.

"I need to talk to you," she said quietly once she'd shut the door behind her.

"You're leaving me to go back to him, aren't you?" He said it so softly he could tell she was about to ask him to repeat it when the words registered in her mind. Her eyes shifted away from him as she bit her lip. It was all the answer he needed. He turned to go, but she caught his arm.

"Don't--"

"What, leave you this way? Don't go? What else do you want from me, Olga?" She shushed him furtively and glanced around. He continued at a hoarse whisper. "I have given everything I can to you. You are pregnant with my child. I...I love you. I don't know why you're doing this."

"I love you, and I love him. Don't you dare think that this isn't hard for me." She sucked in a breath and let it out slowly. "But I have an obligation to him. I am still married to him, Frank."

"Then get a divorce."

"I can't just get a divorce like that."

"Well what about our kid?" The cool fury in Frank's voice grew with every word.

"Joseph said it was okay, that he understood. He doesn't mind--"

"Well *I* mind, Olga. Jimmy's being raised by another man and so help me God this one isn't."

"It doesn't have to be that way, Frank." Olga half turned away, refusing to meet his eyes.

"I can already tell it's going to be," Frank hissed.

"Then I guess we don't really have much left to say right now," Olga said, finally looking at him with a glare.

"Yeah, I guess we're done here, *Dr.* Vukavitch." He turned to go again and this time she let him.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Donovan found Frank in his room an hour later downing a beer with the stereo blasting. He counted six cans on the floor, tossed haphazardly in the direction of the trashcan. None had made it in.

"Frank, what are you doing?" he asked, shock evident in his voice. "It's four in the afternoon!"

"Never too early to start drinking, my friend," Frank said as he crunched his latest conquest in his fist and threw it hard against the wall. "Not when you've got a damn good reason anyhow." His speech was surprisingly clear for someone who'd had seven beers.

"You never saw Joseph Vukavitch, did you?" Donovan asked suspiciously. "You came straight here after the meeting and started in."

"Oh no," Frank protested, a sloppy grin burst onto his features. "I went to the...place with the docs and stuff. Saw the two of 'em talkin' and everything. All happy-like." He frowned. "She's leavin' me and I don't know what to do about it." His eyes had gone blank like he was staring into nothing.

"What the hell are you talking about Frank?" Donovan crossed the room in three quick strides and grabbed his shoulder. "Get a hold of yourself, Frank."

Frank's expressionless gaze swung to his friend. "She's. Leaving. Me," he pronounced slowly. "There's really nothing left for me to do but drink myself to death."

"Well you ain't gonna do it with beer," Donovan pointed out.

"Naw, the vodka helped some too," Frank said, eyes beginning to roll back into his head. Donovan smacked him in the face.

"Stay with me here, Frank." He glanced around and saw the almost empty fifth of vodka sitting on the desk. "Oh shit," he let out softly. He reached the phone just as Frank hit the floor with loud thud.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

"Frank was trying to kill himself?" Talmadge asked incredulously. "If he were, Craig, he'd have to be removed from the program until he'd undergone psychological analysis. He might not be let back in ever."

Donovan shifted on his feet and glanced around Talmadge's office before offering a response. "I'm not saying he was really trying to kill himself with alcohol, it's just...well, I don't think having Joseph Vukavitch around is exactly great for Frank right now. I've never seen him get this way over a woman he has his eye on before." He shifted awkwardly again. "I think there might have been more going on than anyone thought."

"Between the two of them, you mean?" Donovan nodded mutely. "How much more?" Talmadge asked.

"He said she was leaving him," Donovan offered.

"Well that certainly implies a lot." Talmadge puffed his ever-present cigar thoughtfully.

"Would you like me to go sit with him until he wakes up?" Donovan asked.

"He's just had his stomach pumped, I don't think he'll be going anywhere for a couple days." Talmadge caught the meaning of the look Donovan shot him. "On second thought, yes. Knowing Frank he'll be out of there before we realize it."

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Frank stood with his arms crossed in the deserted hangar, staring at the sphere. His eyes betrayed a certain level of wistfulness, but the hard line of his mouth and posture conveyed otherwise. A small travel bag lay at his feet, his possessions ready to go wherever his feet could take him. His heart would stay here though, with this sphere and a certain director of medical research.

He could hear a door open somewhere behind him, but didn't waste his energy turning around to see whom it was. Footsteps traced a path in his hearing towards him and he still didn't turn around.

"I thought I'd find you hear."

"You of all people should know what I'm doing." He remained facing the sphere, defiantly refusing to look at her.

"Saying goodbye?"

"Something like that."

"Were you going to at least say goodbye to me?"

"I didn't think it needed to be said again." He dropped his chin slightly as her arms slid around his. He could feel the heat of her pressed into his back.

"I'm so sorry, Frank," she half sobbed. Her cheek pressed into his shoulder blade, but he still stood with his arms crossed. "It's just that...what Joseph told me...about us, you and I I mean. The pain you put me through in the future."

"I would never have left you," Frank said flatly. A hatred was beginning to flame in his mind. Every word Olga said was fanning it more and more.

"But you did, Frank. And then you died on a mission. You went out to save the world again and you didn't come back and it hurt me worse than leaving me because you'd promised you'd always come back to me and our son and you didn't." She cut herself off with a strangled cry. He could feel a wet spot growing on the back of his shirt where she was crying. The hatred he was feeling for Joseph abated as his love for Olga swelled up unbidden. He uncrossed his arms and squeezed her arms gently. He let his hands rest there as she continued to sob into his back.

"Olga I'm sorry," he finally said, turning to pull her into his arms. He kissed her forehead gently. "I would have never left you, you know; I love you too damn much." He leaned down and gave a kiss on the lips, surprised by the fervor with which she returned it. "Whew," he said when their lips had parted, "I swore I was never gonna do that to a married woman again unless she was married to me."

Olga smiled through her tears as he rested his forehead against hers. He kissed her face under both her eyes. "Hey, like Snoopy says, everyone needs someone to kiss away their tears." She laughed this time. "That's what I like to hear," he said wiping away the rest of her tears.

"Promise me you'll visit," she pleaded. "I can't stand the thought of never seeing you again."

He knew she understood his reasons for going and that it was pointless to try to stop him. "I will, I promise." He looked down at her stomach and said, "And for God's sake, don't let the kid turn out like me."

"He had better be exactly like you," she said, cocking an eyebrow, daring him to contradict her. Knowing he wouldn't. He kissed her one last time, then slipped from the embrace. With a longing look back, he forced himself to walk out the door. He didn't see the tears that flowed anew down her face.

[end part one]

part one soundtrack:

tracy chapman - the promise

linkin park - my{dsmbr (reanimation remix)

dirty vegas - days go by (acoustic)

jimmy eat world - hear you me