It's a long time since my last post here. Now here is Chapter Three of my time tunnel story, sorry it took me so long. But since I'm determind, to never use a translation programm again, I make the translation from german to english by myself and this is sometimes very trying for me. In this chapter I will have giving room for memories from some of the charakters. Maybe you are thinking them OOC but I take the freedom, so develop something more than shown in the Series

Chapter 3

Ann was certain that they have enough energy to kept up the sight on the screen, but unfortunately it faltered again. The contact was broken.

Kirk steps beside the woman.

"Of which calculations Doug did speak?"

"Random thoughts we both have had. Like what we should do, if there is an earthquake, if we hat lesser energy available here in the tunnel chamber or what if the electric power supply in Arizona drop out. And we also thought about the possibility that the radiation signature vanished. Doug, contrary to your opinion, believes that is possible. He does some calculations about additional power sources, more safeguards for the stabilizers and so on."

"Wonderful, Ann. Jiggs will open Phillips Quarters for you."

Ann shows a little smile.

"It isn't necessary; Doug gave me his spare key, some time ago."

The General was going to ask, when this took place but if he where honest, he wants not knows too much about it.

Ann moved with quick steps trough the passages which lead to the quarters of the time tunnel staff. In spite off the many people who worked and lived here, it was very quiet. Dr. MacGregor don't want to think about the fact how much quieter it will be if the budget would be shortened. And she wouldn't go to the point that maybe the project Tic Toc would be terminated at all.

As she was reaching her destination, she took a deep breath before she opened the door to Doug's quarter. She stands in the middle of the first room and take a look around. It appears as if Doug would come every minute around the corner, a sheet of paper in his hand or doing some calculations or whatsoever. He was a maniac related to his work, but so was everybody who was working on Tic Toc. Ann steps closer to the bed and immediately saw the red folder on the nightstand. She took it in her hand and sat down on the edge of the bed. The memories started in full force. How often in the past she was sitting here, after long work hours when they finally called it a day. Sometimes they went to the staff canteen; sometimes they met at the swimming pool or have had a tennis match with each other. The vast bulk of this time they went to Doug's rooms, where they were talking endlessly or doing calculations together. At some occasions Tony was with them and he teases them mercilessly that they obviously can't get enough from each other. If only he knew, how right he was only short before both men vanished in the time vortex.

Ann MacGregor pulled herself together; it would do her no good to dwell on the past in this moment. She had other work to do. Doug would see it in the same manner. She opened the folder, skimming trough the few pages, then she stands up and walks trough the second room. In doing so she had a glance at Doug's writing table and now she tears up. There was a photograph on the desk that shows her and Doug embraced. She knows immediately where the picture was taken. Tony, coming back from a short holiday, has bought himself a very expensive reflex camera and now, nobody was safe from him and his new toy. She and Doug had fixed a problem with the radiation bath and it had worked out nicely. And when Tony took this picture, Doug was standing behind Ann, his arms circled her from behind whereas her head was cradled against his chest and she was looking up at him with a beaming smile. She possessed the same picture but never knew that Doug put it in a frame and had it on his desk. If Tony Newman were here, he could have told her, that he has taken another picture unaware from her, as she was sitting at the tunnel control desk, absorbed in thoughts looking at the tunnel loops. Doug always carried this picture with him, even when he gets lost in time, it always was in the inner pocket of his suit, but this was something Ann doesn't know.

She forcefully pulled herself out of her reverie; left Doug's Quarter and went way back to the tunnel centre. Thereby a folded piece of paper slips from the red folder; she bends down and picked it up quickly and was about to put it back, when she reads her name written on it. She was very curious but when she saw General Kirk coming her way, she puts it in a pocket of her lab coat with the intention to read it later.

Meanwhile Tony and Doug had get started a campfire and, as good it was possible, set up camp. While Tony was looking for fruits, Doug was resolved to go fishing. With a sharpened Woodblock, he was glad he had his pocket-knife with him. His shoes discharged, the legs of his trousers rolled up, his chest bare he stands on two stones in the water of the creek and try to be absolutely still, so that the fishes are not alarmed. There were many of them and they swam to his shadow without fear. And so, in short time he has captivated two fine specimens.

He was asking himself, whether or not Ann could see him on the view screen, as he comes back to the campfire with a triumphant smile on his face. Doug, when he was a youngster had often accompanied his father on survival trips and so he had no difficulties to exclude the fishes and soon after that, the time travellers have a decent evening meal.

The view screen in the time tunnel chamber shows the domestic scene. Kirk and Ray shared a secret look and a smile, when they are watching Ann, who was looking adoringly at the bare-chested Phillips. In the meantime, Ann has Doug's calculations feeded to the Computer and half hearted listens to the fishing stories shared by Kirk and Swain.

The contact was broken again and the techs must fix some wires. The scene in the past has changed. Both men were dressed again, because the chill of the beginning night sets in. Tony added some wood to the burning fire and was now sitting with his back against the trunk of a tree. With a thoughtful look at his comrade and friend, he says:

"Do you think they will get us home this time?"

"I don't know, but I hope for it, as you do."

Tony was looking to the ground.

"We never thought about what would happen in the tunnel chamber."

Doug nodded his head.

"It seems they have real difficulties. I hope Ann could stand her point. She always had many ideas, but Kirk underestimated her constantly."

"You have more confidence in her abilities?"

"You do not? Good, I know her longer than you do; it's almost six years now."

"She never told me how she becomes involved with Tic Toc!"

"Do you want to hear the story?"

Tony twisted a twig between his fingers.

"Sure!"

Doug was waiting a moment, then he began to speak:

"It was Ray, who brought her by. At this time we were searching for a programmer, with knowledge about history, mathematic physics and so on. Ray told me about a scientist he knows very well, with the necessary abilities. He has read some of her papers and he convinced me, to take a chance with her. What he hasn't told me was that this woman scientist was the youngest graduate of the academy. She had have to go trough the many security checks, you know how it works, and I forget about her, because at this time, the tunnel was about to be operational for the first time or so we thought. It was a day when I work for long hours in the loops. I was soaked with sweat, had grease on my shirt and, as I learn later also in my face. Ray called me out of the loops and I, in the presumption the scientist was a woman of Rays age, I don't mind my appearance. And then I met Dr. Ann MacGregor. I will never forget it. Before me I saw a young bewitching elegant woman. Her small face with big blue-green eyes, which were fixed on me, the rich dark hair with a complicated up do she was beautiful. She gave me a little smile and I took her outstretched hand, forgetting, that my fingers were also greasy. Forgetting Ray, who looked amused I had two thoughts. The first was: My god, she is gorgeous. The second was: I want to see her with her hair undone."

Tony was laughing; he could not in the faintest imaging his friend besotted on first view.

Doug smiled too.

"I changed my clothes and Ray and I showed her around. She was asking the right questions and it was clear, she was what we needed. She herself was fascinated by the project and without much ado, she accepts. We became fast Friends, Ann and I."

Tony was silent for a while.

"I know it's no concern of mine, Doug. But..."

"But?"

"I know from the beginning, that you and Ann share a close friendship. You two also spend a lot of time with each other, during work, after work, in our sparse leisure time. I always thought it was the shared concern about the project. I never realised that there might be more. But when we met Ann on Canopus... I was surprised when she was embracing you so zealously. Is there something between you and her?"

Doug smiled and lowered his head.

"Yes Tony, there is something. But Ann and I never talked about feelings, they were simply there. We never confessed something to ourselves, if you mean that."

"And now?"

"What now?"

"Do you intend to confess something to her?"

Doug made an unintelligently noise and answered quietly:

"In our situation it seems not appropriate. When…If the can get us back, than that's a whole another thing."

"If the bring us back!"

"Yes, if! And so it is not fair to Ann, if I confess my feelings for her."

In the time tunnel chamber it was very quiet. Since more than an hour Ann and Ray attempt to reconstruct the view on the screen. Along the way Doug's calculations were running through the computer network. General Kirk answered a phone call inside his office with closed doors. Ann as well as Ray acknowledged it with mixed emotions. The whole time Kirk was absent, Ann tried to establish the contact to the time travellers and finally she was successful.

She took a look at the dying flames of the campfire, saw Tony, who was obviously sleeping and her eyes where searching for Doug. She modified the calibrations and now she could see him standing at the lake and gazing up to the stars.

Forcefully she plugs the ionic microphone in.

Ray disagreed.

"Ann, the connection will take to much energy."

"I will make use of this opportunity. We have Energy enough!"

Ann took the microphone and hesitates for a second.

"Doug!"

Dr. Phillips was turning around as if he anticipates seeing her beside him. This elects a smile from her.

"Ann what take you so long?"

"Our usual trials. I've found your calculations and the computer will make an analysis. Thereby I had an idea. You know the probe we send you at two times trough the tunnel? So far she had a malfunction, but Jerry and I are sure, we could modify the probe so that she will operate more effective. What is your opinion?"

"Give it a chance, Ann. By the way, how long is it that Tony and I start travelling in time?"

"Nearly one year!"

"I understand. Ann, we don't realise how long it is, we remember our adventures, but every time the vortex spits ourselves out, it seems we have started at this moment."

"Doug, I will do every thing, that is in my power to bring you both back."

"I know that, I do really. Ann, do you remember the night in the desert? We were talking about parallel existences and about paradoxes in time?"

"Of course I remember, but what are you about?"

"I'm not sure. If parallel existences are possible, maybe parallel time zones are also."

"Oh Doug, if I'm thinking to hard on this, my head aches. We are playing with things, we don't remotely understand."

Doug allowed himself a smirk.

"Please think nonetheless about it, your ideas where exceptional good concerning this subject."

"I will try. Something else: We have energy enough to transfer you both, should we do it now?"

"It's the first time we are not in some kind of trouble. Let us rest for the time being."

"Okay, maybe you try to get some sleep also, I will watch over you. Tomorrow morning I will contact you again."

"Sounds good. Which time is it with you?"

"It's Night here also."

"Will you get some sleep?"

"I will try."

Doug smiled and Ann knows this smile was meant only for her.

"Sleep well Ann. It was good, to hear your voice."

She blushes a little.

"Sweet dreams for you."

Ann was looking around, but Ray or Kirk weren't around.

"You don't know how much I miss you, Doug!"

"I miss you also, Ann. Until tomorrow, I will dream of you."

Also she won't admit it, she was exhausted. And so she doesn't object that Ray was sending her to her quarters. She took a shower and under the warm spray of water the memory of this special night in the desert hit her hard.

She and Doug had having a fit of a tunnel tantrum. Doug was asking her, if she would join him on a drive into the desert and she accepts. Desert nights are treacherous and so they don't go far away from the tunnel complex. There were some marker points, one of them a little cactus corpse. Doug pulled his ragtop car in and Ann was looking expectantly to the man at her side.

"Do you have something bigger in mind?"

Ann points at the bottle of champagne and the two glasses in Doug's hands.

"Wait and see!"

They where sitting in his car, stargazing and talking. They debate on the theory of parallel existences, time paradoxes and the tunnel. In the end, both had headaches.

Then Doug takes a look at his watch.

"Oh my, I've missed it!"

She was regarding him inquiringly.

"What have you missed?"

He was opening the bottle of champagne and filling the two glasses, and then he gave one over to Ann.

"I want to congratulate you on your birthday at midnight!"

She was dumbstruck. But Doug was looking in her eyes, clink the glasses together and says with a very soft voice:

"Happy Birthday, Ann. I want to be first to congratulate you. At least that I have accomplished."

"Thank you so much, Doug, how sweet of you keeping my birthday in mind."

He took the glass out of her hand and bents down to her. His lips touch her mouth gently and she shows no resistance. So he kisses her shortly but very intense. Ann had to catch her breath but then she kisses him back. She had cradled her head against his chest, both where silent and a little bit self-conscious. After a while Doug was rummaging in his pocket and produces a small, nicely wrapped sachet to Ann.

"I want to give this to you when we are alone."

"Doug!"

"Please open it."

It was a ring with five small gemstones on it. Ann was looking very surprised.

"Doug, I can't take this from you."

"Why not? Because it is a ring? I have seen it and know immediately that's the right present for you. Please take it; it's only a present, nothing more!"

Ann towelled herself off. Neither she nor Doug talked ever about that first kiss in the desert; much more kisses followed on various occasions.

As Ann lays in her bed, shortly before sleep captured her, she have had the feeling, she had forgetting something, but her tiredness take over and she sunk in a deep peaceful slumber until the next morning.