Disclaimer: "Now and Again" and all related indicia belong to Picturemaker Productions and Glenn Gordon Caron. (Note the absence of ANY credit to CBS. At the moment, they don't deserve it.) Dr. Lydia Ross has been lurking in the back of my imagination since November, and I finally gave in. No permission, no profit, no life, no lawyers. I'm not broke, but I'm not worth the effort either.

Author's Notes: This story has been in the works since late May 2000 and is still in the works as I write this. My original plan was to wait until I'd written and posted every part to the N&A fan fiction list, put everything together, rewrite it for discrepancies, and THEN post it in its entirety to Fanfiction.net. However, it's now February, and there's only 6 stories in the N&A section, which depresses me beyond words. Therefore, I'm going to try to rewrite and post a few parts to test the waters. Future chapters will come, albeit slowly.

My apologies for starting with Roger and Janet, but like all the other threads the series finale left dangling, it had to be addressed. Please, please, PLEASE read and review! This story's taken a lot more time than I originally intended!

Spoilers: Everything, but mostly for "The Eggman Cometh" and "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face." Picks up right where "The Eggman Cometh" left us hanging.


Murphy's Law
by Amanda Ohlin


*****

"Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong."
--Murphy's Law

*****

CHAPTER ONE


Suburban New York
5:25 p.m.

"No," Roger Bender finally managed. "No, no, I, uh, I can't do this."

"You waited til now to say that?"

"I mean it, Janet. No. This is ridiculous."

"Roger... It's going to take me forever to get my hose back on."

Roger sat up, pulling away. "Well, uh, you can go without. It's a nice day."

Janet sat up as well as Roger hastily pulled on his jacket, ignoring his tie. "We came all the way out here to--"

"To look at a house," Roger finished. "I - ah - Janet, it's not that I'm not attracted to you, far from it, I find you very attractive--"

"Uh-huh. Got to admit, that's a pickup line I haven't heard before."

"Look, I just got separated," Roger tried. "My daughter doesn't even know about it yet - unless, of course, Ruth went and told her, which means I've got two of them to deal with now. Oh, God."

"Roger?" Janet asked. "Is this going somewhere?"

Roger sighed. "The point is, I just got out of a twenty-year marriage. I need to get back on my feet, which includes finding someplace to stay other than a hotel or a friend's couch."

Janet nodded and studied her nails. "Mm-hmm. I see."

"If - when I do get settled," Roger continued, "you'll be the first person I'll call."

"Oh." Janet stuffed the hose into her purse and snatched up her earrings. "So... what do you think of the house?"

"Now that you mention it," Roger admitted, "it's a little too big for my tastes."

"Should have started with something smaller?" Janet suggested, putting her earrings back on and getting up. "Well, I've got some more stuff to show you back at the office."

"No, no, that's all right," Roger protested. "I, um, I think you'd better just drop me off at Lisa's. I'll get my car out of the lot tomorrow."

"My, my, Roger," Janet quipped, "you do know just what to say to a girl."

*****

New Rochelle, NY

Ruth Bender was not having a very good day.

Truth to tell, the past few weeks had been fairly lousy, but today was worse than usual. Her lawyer would not return her calls, being preoccupied with some massive lawsuit he was devoting all his time to. She had to cancel her appointment at the spa to finally "fit herself in" to his schedule - something that NEVER happened to her.

Then Amanda had called. She'd just found out from a chat online with one of their neighbors about Roger's idiocy. And who did she scream at? Ruth. Not Roger. In a week, Amanda would be coming home from a year studying abroad in England. And now with an angry daughter breathing down her neck, Ruth realized she had no choice but to swallow her pride and break the silence herself. After the kind of day she'd had, nothing worse could happen.

So when she rounded the corner to see the six police cars and the SWAT team smashing in the windows of the Wiseman's house, something inside Ruth snapped.

*****

"What in the HELL is going on here??"

The shrill demand was loud and clear even over the sounds of the dogs barking and the team searching the Wiseman's house. Morris turned just in time to see the owner of the voice striding towards him. Two agents moved to intercept her, but she smacked one with her purse and shoved the other one aside without even mussing the purple designer suit she was wearing. "Hands off!"

Sensing an impending storm, Morris approached her before she could do any damage. "Ma'am, this is none of your concern."

"It most certainly is my concern! I come to visit one of my oldest friends and I find you smashing in her windows. And you say it's none of my concern?"

Several of the neighbors had come out to see what was going on, and the irate woman's arrival was drawing more attention. A crowd was gathering at the police line. "I don't have time for this," Morris growled, turning to the nearest agents. "Get her out of here!"

"What? The hell you will! I am not leaving until you tell me what you're doing here and what's happened to Lisa Wiseman!" As the two men grabbed her by the arms, the woman started screaming and fighting back. "Get your hands off me!"

Morris turned away, satisfied that the conflict was taken care of. He was wrong.

The two agents started dragging her off, but the woman fought back like a mad cat. Special Agent #1 let out a yell as her acrylic nails slashed his cheek, and #2 howled as her foot connected solidly with his groin. The woman made a run for it, but #1 was faster, grabbing her by the arm. The crowd assembled started shouting in protest as she shrieked and struggled. When she tried to claw his eyes out, he grabbed for her other arm, but she spun around and lashed out at him again. She missed, and he grabbed her by the waist, throwing her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Around them, the shouts of protest grew louder, and suddenly someone broke through the police line and punched out one of the cops. Other neighbors and onlookers followed suit.

Within seconds, all hell broke loose on the Wiseman's lawn.

*****

"What on earth is going on?"

From a safe distance, Roger and Janet watched the riot break out in front of the Wiseman residence. "I have no idea," Roger replied as he stared at the crowd. For some reason, the presence of Dr. Theodore Morris in the middle of the melee did not surprise him that much.

What did startle him was the sight of two agents dragging a screaming and kicking woman into a van. A very angry and very familiar woman who would find some way to blame this on him. "Oh, no."

He turned back to Janet. "Maybe we *should* go back to your office."

"Good idea."

*****

Michael had run through the scenario millions of times in his mind. Whenever he was alone and missing Lisa, doing 100 miles on the treadmill, lying in his room counting and recounting ceiling tiles, he had plotted out the best route of escape through his neighborhood, through the interconnecting back yards that kept them out of sight of the main roads. Like an actuary, he'd made a habit of running through possible scenarios.

He'd hoped that he'd never have to put this particular one to use.

"Where are we going?" Heather cried as they finally dashed into the woods. Guiltily, Michael realized that he was practically dragging Lisa and Heather along. But it was the only way he could make sure they kept pace with him short of carrying them both himself.

"I'm not too sure, but we can't stop!" Michael insisted as they continued to run, crossing over the small brook and heading deeper into the trees.

"This is your way of 'taking care of it?'" Lisa gasped.

"I'll explain later," Michael muttered as they climbed up the embankment and reached Foxhurst Road. At least that's what Michael thought it was; the high school was a few miles away.

Just as they reached the road, a black sedan rounded the corner, screeching to a stop in front of them. Startled, Lisa jumped back and nearly fell down the embankment. Michael shot out an arm and caught her just in time.

The passenger window rolled down to reveal a smug and familiar face. "Mrs. Wiseman. Mr. *Newman.* Fancy meeting you here."

Heather stared. Michael blinked. Lisa gaped in shock. "You - you - you--" she stammered.

Bernard Leflin Jr., otherwise known as Isley, smiled. "Need a lift?"

*****

"A lift? A *lift?*" Lisa echoed. "I'd rather walk!"

Leflin sighed. "Mrs. Wiseman, that's no way to talk to an old friend."

"Old friend? There is NO way I am getting in a car with this man again!" Lisa snapped.

"What are you doing here?" Michael asked suspiciously.

"Passing through the neighborhood," Leflin answered. "Of course, I had reason to believe you'd need my help."

"Your idea of 'help' was to send a bunch of yellow suits with machine guns after me," Michael said. "I think we'll pass."

"Yellow suits?" Lisa stared at Michael.

Ack. He wasn't supposed to know about that. "Yeah, this lunatic set a squad of them out to get me a few months back," Michael replied quickly.

"Excuse me? Hello?" Heather cried. "I hate to break this up, but am I the only one who remembers we've got a SWAT team or something chasing us?"

"Smart girl," Leflin observed. "You should listen to her more often. Besides, it's me or them. It's not as if you have a lot of options."

Michael frowned. Leflin had a point. He glanced at Heather, who shrugged. Lisa was still glaring at Leflin angrily, but after a moment she sighed in defeat.

Michael turned back to Leflin. "I *know* I'm gonna regret this."

*****

Salzburg and Rogeilla Real Estate
Manhattan
6:00 p.m.

"Look who's finally back," Carla observed as Janet led Roger into the office. "I was just about to close up shop. Did we make a sale?"

"Uh, almost," Roger said uncomfortably.

Janet sighed. "No kidding. Lisa ever get back from that long lunch she took?"

"Yeah. She left a while ago." Carla frowned. "She didn't look so good when she came back, though. I was kind of worried about her." She glanced at the clock. "Anyway, I've got to get moving. Promised Nick I'd be home ten minutes ago."

"Night." Janet waved at her friend half-heartedly as Carla left the office.

"Long lunch?" Roger asked. "You said you didn't know where she was."

"I didn't," Janet replied, sitting down. "She got this phone call from that Bernstadt character again this afternoon."

"That lawyer? What'd he want?"

"Don't look at me. Whatever he said to her, she almost fell over in shock. Then she takes a long break and runs out of here without saying a word." Janet narrowed her eyes. "You know, I think something big is going on. I mean, she gets these strange calls from this lawyer and then there's a riot on her front lawn that evening?"

"It was about Michael," Roger murmured softly.

"What's that?"

"Michael. Her husband." Roger shook his head. "This lawyer's been calling her insisting the hospital lied about his condition when he had his accident. Spooked her something awful. I don't know why that would bring a SWAT team to her door. But then that Morris character was there--"

Janet's juicy gossip radar was on full alert. "Morris?"

Roger caught himself. "I don't know. Never mind." He sighed. "I think I'm going to have to get some sleep and think this through. Although I guess I won't be on Lisa's couch."

"I do have a guest room, you know."

"Uh, no offense, Janet, but I - think I'll check into a hotel. I'm, uh, not quite ready for that yet."

"Suit yourself."

*****

Route 295 South

"What do you want from us?" Lisa demanded, breaking the silence that had lasted for several miles.

"Oh, I don't want anything from you, Mrs. Wiseman," Leflin replied coolly. "Nor do I require anything from your daughter. Mr. Newman, on the other hand, might be able to assist me."

"Like I'd want to do that," Michael muttered, his mind racing. There had to be a way out of this.

Heather coughed. "For those of us who came in late..."

Leflin chuckled and reached up to put the window between them and the driver up. "Several months ago, my father heard this rather implausible story from a friend of his in the Pentagon. Being at death's door, he jumped at the chance the story offered - the chance to live again. To that end, he hired some people out to contact Mr. Newman and his employer, the latter of whom we thought could help us."

"You mean 'kidnap,'" Michael snapped.

"Suffice to say, we discovered that the story we were told was a fabrication, completely inaccurate," Leflin continued, ignoring Michael. "The people we sought to get information from - yourself and your friend Mr. Bender - didn't know a thing. The people we thought could help us denied it to the point where it could not be true. Unfortunately, in the end, my father decided to take matters into his own hands."

Lisa blinked. "I don't understand."

Leflin looked away. "My father decided that the only course of action was to kill himself." Michael flinched at the memory.

"Okay," Heather said after a long silence. "So what does that have to do with us?"

"A few months ago, I got to thinking," Leflin answered. "Namely, that while the story I'd been told was untrue, there might be something behind it all. The truth might have been hidden beneath a fantastic story. After everything we had put you through, Mrs. Wiseman, Mr. Newman, I decided to find some way to make it up to you both."

Michael tensed. _No. He can't know. He can't._ "What are you talking about?"

"After the disaster that our last fact-finding mission caused, I resorted to a more subtle approach. Namely, I had some people keeping an eye on the two of you, since I was convinced that there was still something going on. When Dr. Morris - for whatever reason - sent the cavalry after you, how could I sit back and do nothing?"

"Oh, and you just *happened* to know where we were," Heather muttered. "Kind of convenient, don't you think?"

"With the kind of money I pay my people, nothing is convenient." Leflin sighed, dropping his smug facade. "I'm trying to offer you someplace safe to stay until we can get everything sorted out. All I ask in return is your cooperation."

Michael exchanged looks with Lisa, who didn't look convinced. Neither was he, but for now, all they could do was wait. Hopefully, he'd have a chance to get Lisa and Heather alone.

Of course, he was still working on what he was going to tell them...

*****

Police Department
New Rochelle, NY
6:45 p.m.

Dr. Morris pressed the icepack harder against his temple, willing the painful bump on his head to go numb. The knock on the doorframe seemed to be pounding at his temples, but he forced himself to ignore it and turn to face his visitor.

When he saw who it was, he couldn't suppress a smirk. Special Agent #1 was sporting a bandage on his cheek and looking none too happy about it. "What do you have for me?"

"Team 3 picked up a scent heading out of the development into the woods due east," the agent sighed. "Unfortunately, the scent was gone the moment they hit Foxhurst Road. We've checked out the entire area, but we've found nothing."

Morris sat back in his chair, closing his eyes - partially to clear his mind and partially to stave off his pounding headache. "How far away were they from the house when their scent vanished?"

"About five or six miles, sir. We'd have caught them if not for that, um, situation."

Morris groaned. That *situation* had lost them precious time. "What is the story with that?"

"Not good. You know the woman who started it all?"

"Mrs. Bender? Not personally, and I'm now very glad I don't."

The agent blinked. "That's Bender's wife?" Morris nodded. "Explains a lot."

"You were saying?"

"Yes, sir. She was allowed to make her one phone call. Unfortunately, her one phone call was made to her uncle." As Morris glared at him, the agent added, "Her uncle just happens to be Senator Bellingham. He's not too happy his niece is locked up."

"Bellingham?" Morris repeated. "James Bellingham? The same man who helped fund this project when it was in the initial stages?" As the agent nodded, Morris groaned again. "Good God. This is just getting worse and worse."

"You don't know the half of it."

At the sound of the voice - a decidedly female voice - Morris looked up to see the woman who had just entered. She was in her late thirties, medium height, very plain and ordinary. Her only distinctive feature was an uneven white streak in her shoulder-length black hair. "It's good to see you again, Dr. Morris. I wish it would have been under better circumstances."

"Dr. Ross." Morris was too tired to feign pleasure at her arrival. "Forgive me if I don't get up."

Lydia Ross smirked. "That's the least you have to answer for, believe me."

Special Agent #1 glanced at Lydia, glanced at Morris, then made the wisest decision he could. Without a word, he left, closing the door behind him.

Seeing his right-hand man's retreat, Morris sighed. "Don't tell me. News travels fast in the Pentagon."

"The Pentagon has yet to hear of this one, actually. But I've been keeping tabs on the project for a while now."

"Just tell me what you want. Or just say 'I told you so' already. I don't have time for this."

She set her briefcase down on the desk, that infuriating smile still on her face. "Oh, I'm not going to say that. Tempting, but I won't. I'm here to keep you from making one hell of a mistake."

"And what mistake is that?"

"Let me put it this way." She sat down across from him, leaning over the desk. "You're all hot to trot on catching Michael Wiseman. But you need to stop and also consider *why* he ran."

*****

Somewhere in Manhattan

"Should've got a ride," Kyle Barnes muttered for the fifth time as he walked along the street, trying his damnedest to look inconspicuous - and, more importantly, like a man who wasn't carrying $200 in cash. Annie was right, of course; she was always right. She said this kind of job was dangerous, she said it was just asking for trouble. But she was gone now, probably moving in with her Ma like she'd threatened to do. And he was good at what he did. If he hadn't gone and ticked Mickey off, though, he wouldn't be out here alone.

It was then that he saw the short, stooped old man trudging along a few paces ahead of him. Kyle couldn't believe he hadn't noticed him earlier. He was a perfect target, and all alone. Maybe this night wasn't going to be as bad as he'd thought.

He came alongside the man just as they neared the mouth of the nearby alley. Kyle whipped out the switchblade, holding it so that the man could see it, but not so it was obvious. "Get moving, Grandpa." The man just blinked at him, and Kyle seethed. "I said move, midget. In the alley. Or else."

Calmly, the old man glanced at the knife, glanced at Kyle's face, and then obediently retreated into the alleyway. Grinning, Kyle slipped into the shadows as well. This was gonna be fun.

The little man was cowering at the end of the dead end that Kyle knew was there. Chuckling, Kyle advanced on his prey. He didn't need Mickey and those other losers. He could do this all on his own. Everything was going just as expected.

But he didn't expect the hulking mass that erupted from the trashcans beside him, nor did he expect the beefy hand that twisted the knife from his grip. Kyle opened his mouth to shout, but he didn't get the chance as his assailant's hands wrapped around his throat, crushing his larynx and cutting off his oxygen. Panicked, Kyle gasped for air, uselessly pawing at the huge arms like tree trunks. Black spots danced before his vision.

The last thing Kyle saw was the little old man watching with interest as his partner squeezed the life out of him.

*****

To be continued...