A/N: The wristwatch I mention here was only in the original cut of the pilot, but even if you haven't seen it, I'd say in its context here it's pretty self-explanatory.
Althea's eyes struggled to follow Tony as long as they could, to hold onto the sight of his moss-colored sweater for just a moment more, but he disappeared into the crowd and she soon lost all sight of him.
What had it been about him that made her tingle inside every time they encountered one another? After all, she hadn't known him twenty-four hours, they'd barely exchanged a hundred words, and he certainly wasn't the most…romantic man she'd ever come across. Moreover, in the short time of their acquaintance they had seemed to clash incurably.
Especially over the last matter they had spoken of…
"…you've no right to play God…deciding when it's time for you to live or die…you don't have that right."
They were just words; nothing more, nothing less. And yet it still made her wonder; had those words actually sold her, or had she gone only to appease him? It was difficult to discern; the things he had said were …alluring, things she wished for all the world were true…
"Neurosurgery is not a fad and it's not hopeless...I'm asking you to believe in life, not death. Althea, please, believe in me."
Could it really be true, that perhaps, in her lifetime, in the few months she had left, that she could be helped?
But was there any reason to get her hopes up about any more of an extension on her life, just because a man she barely knew had insisted it was possible? Dr. Harrison had said it was a miracle as it was that she'd survived as long as she had.
And she was unused to believing in anyone. All her life she had been a brooding loner, porcupine like in the fact that she never let anyone get too close, lest she be hurt. Acting on any sort of attraction was a foreign concept. And despite her raising in a staunchly Catholic family with two faith-filled parents, she had never felt close to God. She didn't remember the last time she'd prayed, and at times she had come to question God's very existence. She never relied on Him.
Yet, through it all, hadn't companionship, trust, been what she truly wanted?
"It's a 1968 wristwatch. I want you to have it."
That was the only thing Althea was certain of: Tony had been telling the truth about time travel. She had proof, tangible proof, of that, right here in her hands, which he had given her just before she was lifted into the lifeboat.
But, yet, at the same time, that was the thing that puzzled her most of all. Had he been other places in time, handing out souvenirs as such like candy? Did he just randomly stop wherever he fancied and help scores of damsels in distress? Or had she somehow been…special?
It didn't really matter. He was gone; she'd never see him again, nor, if he had given out other pieces like his watch, would she be likely to encounter any of the recipients. Why didn't she just forget and move on?
The reason was simple: she couldn't.
The vortex, the kaleidoscope, was gone. In its place, Tony realized, opening his eyes, was the beach that had flashed before their eyes during their journey from 87 B.C.
"Tony?" he heard his companion call. Shading his eyes, he saw that Doug was only about ten yards down the beach.
"I'm here, Doug." He called, rising to his feet and waving. The other physicist took a few long strides.
"Where do you suppose we are?"
"I couldn't begin to guess." Dr. Newman replied grimly. "Unless we're back in the Barbary Coast War."
"Or on Krakatoa. Tony, did you feel any odd turbulence when we were making the transfer?"
The younger man looked up at his companion. "You noticed it too?"
"How could I miss it? Do you suppose the Tunnel's starting to…wear out?"
Tony sighed. "It could be. So many transfers are probably taking their toll. And who knows what else has happened at Tic Toc?"
Directly before the lifeboat was lowered, one last passenger, a little girl no more than five, was placed on board right next to Althea.
"Miss," the man who lifted the shivering child in addressed her, "She's a bit upset. Her father is still on board, you see. But I assure you, she is not responsible for anything she says."
The lifeboat began descending.
Almost immediately it seemed that the girl flung herself to the bottom of the boat and began beating its surface, screaming and weeping. Several of the other women shrank back in fright.
Althea leaned down, each inch bringing her closer to that tortured look she knew all too well. She gingerly reached down and stroked the child's cheek. The little girl halted, gazing up at her with curious eyes.
"Darling, did…did your father ever let you play with his watch?"
The girl nodded her head solemnly.
Althea opened her hand. The child's eyes grew wide. She gently took Tony's wristwatch and began turning the knob on the side.
Althea sighed, relieved. Sometimes her teaching experience came in handy.
But the peace didn't last.
Suddenly the little girl let out a wail and threw the watch over the side of the lifeboat. Althea drew in a horrified gasp.
C'mon Althea. It's only a watch, a timepiece. It doesn't mean anything!
But that was a lie. It did mean something.
Hadn't Tony saved her life? Wasn't he the reason she was on this lifeboat at all?
Wasn't it the least she could do to keep the thing he'd "wanted her to have", the very thing that had proved to her that he was, indeed, who he said he was?
She wasn't a strong swimmer, and never had been. But wasn't there enough there to summon, to go after what mattered?
She undid her life jacket and hurled herself over the side. Shouts filled her ears, all the words running together so much that they could not be told apart from one another.
She fell quickly, dropped like a stone, and plunged into the water.
But before she could swim a stroke she was sucked under the surface by a whirlpool.