Episode 1211
It's A Wonderful Life?

Date Unknown

“Timed Perks” inter-point haven and Cambridge, MA


Sam looks for answers to his questions concerning leaps and finds some in a strange leap.

Written By:

Helen Gerhard

Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project known as Quantum Leap.  Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator…and vanished.


He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the Project Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear.


As evil and neutral forces alike do their best to stop Dr. Beckett’s journey, his children, Dr. Samantha Josephine Fulton and Stephen Beckett, continuously strive to retrieve their time-lost father and bring him home permanently.  Despite returning home several times over the last decade, Dr. Beckett has remained lost in the time stream…his final fate no longer certain.


Trapped in the past and driven by an unknown force, Dr. Beckett struggles to accept his destiny as he continues to find himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong with the hopes that his next leap…will be the 

final leap home.




Entering the blue light after the previous leap, Sam found he seemed more aware than ever before.  Usually, he would just realize that he was “floating” in a blue haze, and occasionally would even be able to remember things that normally were casualties of the Swiss-cheese effect during his leaps.  Usually, the blue haze seemed like a nice long soak in a hot tub more than anything else.  Soak, get the kinks out, and prepare for the next big game.  No matter how badly beaten he was after a leap, he would find himself in excellent physical health when he left.


This time was different.  Sam still felt calm and relaxed, but the memory of those recent “inter-point” locations was nagging at his brain.  He remembered a leap not far back in which he’d come in out the “rain” dry and had met a woman named Merry.  It was after that experience that Sam had leaped home for awhile.  Seeing Donna again, the memory tugged at his heart.  She was his wife, the love of his life, his soul mate—his beautiful Dulcinea.  He again felt the pangs of guilt, knowing that his leaving her again and again had to be a living hell for her.  After all, it was he that during an early leap had changed history, which led to their marriage.  If not for—OH GOD, YES, Stephen—his son.  The boy was the anchor that held Donna to their marriage for the many years he had spent leaping.


Sam said a silent thank you of gratitude to GFTW that he had been allowed to visit the project as a younger version of himself right before he leaped the first time.  Stephen had been a result of that leap.  There had been several leaps; Sam remembered now, where he’d gotten the chance to spend a little time with Stephen and to realize what an incredible child they had created between them.  Sam had certainly been a prodigy as a child, but he had also grown up on a working farm.  Most of his extreme intelligence had been focused on learning things, but not yet experiencing them.


There was that time though; he remembered it now like it was yesterday how he took the tractor apart when he was ten years old.  His father just about had kittens when he walked into the barn and saw all the parts of the tractor spread about.  John Beckett was afraid he was going to have to buy another one and the farm profits just weren’t going to allow that.  Sam remembered how he’d convinced his dad that he’d have it back together later that week and promised it would run better than it had before.  John had held his tongue at that point.  He knew that Sam was smart, but rebuilding the tractor?  Still he’d said that was fine.  He didn’t really require the use of it that week, but he would need the tractor after that.


Sam had spent the next five days working on the mechanics of the tractor, cleaning the parts, and had even asked Tom to create some new parts he’d designed in the shop class at the local Jr. High school Tom was attending.  He’d given Tom the blueprints he’d worked up and then continued on, adjusting the tractor and knowing that Tom would come through for him.  By Friday of that week, the tractor was good as new.  No, it was better than new.  Sam had figured out a way to improve the fuel efficiency twenty percent and had also tweaked the other operational parameters of the tractor.  Although fuel costs in 1963 were still reasonable, ten years later, his modifications had helped to keep the farm in the family a few years longer than it otherwise would have.  That day in 1963, though, John Beckett had again said the words that Sam most craved, “Son, I’m proud of you.”


Sam had gotten the chance to spend some quality time with Stephen on that last leap home.  Unlike Sam, who had only had limited opportunities to apply his intellectual skills on the farm, Stephen had the perfect opportunity to use his mind in what had become his playground—Project Quantum Leap.  He’d been able to create a way for Ziggy to actually appear in the Imaging Chamber, and even had created enhancements, which brought Ziggy closer to being ‘human’ than Sam had ever thought possible. 


For a moment Sam felt another twinge, this time of jealousy.  After all, it was Al, his best friend, his constant leaping companion, his Sancho that was getting to watch over his son as he grew up.  It was Al, who got to fill the shoes on a daily basis that Sam so wanted to live in—to be the male role model for Stephen.  Sam himself was more like the ‘non-custodial’ parent in a divorce, only getting to see and interact with his son as visitations were allowed.  He had to admit, however, that Al was doing a pretty good job in his absence.  The jealousy faded and turned into gratitude that he had such a good and loyal friend.


He knew, of course, that he had to thank Donna even more than Al for the wonderful son that he’d gotten to know during that last leap home.  She had stayed at the Project, raising Stephen, being his link to his mother and siblings, and—again he felt a twinge of guilt—continuing to pursue HIS dream when he knew she was a great physicist in her own right.  Had she continued to follow her own research these last ten years?  He hoped so.


So clear were these thoughts that an idea came to him. ‘I wonder if there is more to this blue haze than meets the eye, well figuratively speaking since I’m not really corporal at the moment.  Is there a way to interact differently in this space?  He sure had felt “whole” when he’d visited Merry’s house and those times in Al’s Place.  Indeed, he thought he’d leaped into those spaces.  What was it Merry had said?   “Call it the space between the moments, if you will—something that both exists, and yet at the same time, does not. Sometimes the spaces are bigger than others, and sometimes there are havens in the larger spaces.”


So, since he was in-between leaps, then maybe he could find one of those havens.  Maybe even learn how to get (dare he think it) home.  Sam closed his figurative eyes again, focusing in his mind on a single spot in front of him and felt something happening.  He tried to put words to it and then it came to him—Fractal Time!  It was like having a view high up and then drilling deeper to where you saw the details, like a fractal pattern.  The paradox that things became larger as you drilled down into the details opened the haze and he saw a downtown street lit by streetlamps.  Seemingly meeting the earth, Sam started walking down the street, towards what—he was not sure.  He came to a crossroads and wondered which road to take.  On one of the corners, the lights of a coffee shop were lit up.  ‘Guess I’ll check that place out,’ he thought.  He walked across the street and into the shop.


Looking around, the familiar words that had become Sam’s trademark left his lips.  ”Oh Boy!”





The coffee shop was similar to that one he’d visited in 1993 when he’d been in Seattle on Project business.  Why this place in an ‘inter-point space’ brought back that memory so sharply was a mystery to him.  He stayed with it though feeling nostalgia for that time in his life before the leaping began, back when he and Al were engaged in trying to make Quantum Leap a reality.


Sam remembered there had been some time to kill before the flight back to New Mexico.  He’d figured that a cup of coffee was what he needed to think over those issues that were presenting a roadblock towards his dream.  Although he’d known that Starbucks was the leading coffee house in Seattle, he had just wanted to find something off the beaten path.  He had found a small place that looked comfortable and walked into the Café Nervosa. 


He had liked the place right from the start.  The walls of the shop were lined with books, giving the place a homey feel, almost like you’d walked into someone’s personal library.  The place had been a bit crowded and the only space available had been next to two men arguing about a point of contention.  Sam wasn’t an eavesdropper, but he had overheard their conversation.


“I assure you that Jungian psychology more than adequately addresses that point.  I am using a form of therapy with my group that he recommended and I’m getting excellent results.  You just don’t like the concept of a collective unconscious,” the first man was saying.


The second gentleman had been equally as adamant, “No, I tend to follow Freud’s analysis pattern myself.  It is obvious to the most casual observer that the ‘talking cure’ is still utilized today by many of the best in the field.  Why would that be so if the therapy didn’t have merit?”


“All I can say is mother appreciated both Jung and Freud.  She certainly was proud of both of us following in her distinguished footsteps,” the first gentleman stated, which seemed to satisfy both of them.  “I really must be going, now.  I have an appointment at 3:30 and it’s almost three o’clock now.”


“Fine.  Let me walk you out.”  The two men got up and walked out of the coffee shop.


Sam remembered his reaction clearly.  They must be psychiatrists.  Hearing this much disagreement over what form of therapy is best makes me glad I didn’t go that direction after obtaining my medical license.  Of course, I respect the field.  Wouldn’t have Verbena on my project if I didn’t.’


Verbena was his friend and he missed her.  Whenever there had been an issue that had been causing him stress or difficulty, he’d found her ability to listen and ask questions invaluable.  She had a knack for helping him find his own answers.  He’d asked her to join the team at Project Quantum Leap and thankfully, she had accepted.  I sure wish I could talk to her now.  Recently leaping has become so hard.  I just don’t seem to be able to function like I did before.’ 


The recent leap had helped him realize that God indeed cared about him and for that he was grateful.  He still, however, was trying to come to grips with the feelings that seemed to overwhelm him at times.  He still wanted answers and they just didn’t seem to be available.


As he looked around he saw a skinny, kid behind the counter washing out simple, white, extra large coffee mugs.  Seated at the table was a well-dressed beautiful older woman.  As she sipped her coffee and read a book, Sam couldn’t help but applying the term “well-bred” to her.  She looked up, put down her book, and said, “Sam, I’ve been expecting you.  Would you like to sit here with me?”





Sam by this point understood this coffee shop was one of those “inter-point” havens.  He looked at the name on the board behind the counter “Timed Perks” and contemplated the name.  Was this something, which he had found due to his Fractal Time search with his mind, or was it just the right time for the one leaping him to lead him to this place?  Either way, he was sure that any answers that he might find here were likely to be more confusing that the questions themselves.


He thought back to a musical movie that had been panned by the critics back in 1973--Lost Horizon.  A friend telling him that he needed to get his head out of a book and just go somewhere mindless for a while had pulled him along to the movie.  There was one song that had always stuck in Sam’s head called, “Answer Me a Question.” “Answer me a question bright and clear, I will question with an answer clear and bright, even though your answer may be wrong my question will be right.”


Sam had always known how to ask the right questions.  It was the answers that sometimes caused some difficulties.


Sam walked over to the table and sat down next to the woman.  “Do I know you?” asked Sam.


“No, we’ve never met.  However, I have been expecting you.”


“You knew I was coming here?”


“Yes, the Bartender told me you’d be arriving soon.  My name is Esther.”


“Why a coffee-shop?  Why not Al’s Place again?”


“I like a nice coffee shop.  It’s quiet and it’s a great place to read or chat if the right person comes along.  I’ve never been a fan of the bar scene.  Although Al’s Place is about the coziest I’ve ever seen.  Would you like a cup of coffee?”


“Yeah, that would be nice—uh… black.”  Esther turned slightly and the skinny kid looked up.  After Esther ordered, the kid brought over the coffee.  Sam breathed in the aroma, almost like an actor in a coffee commercial, took a sip and visibly relaxed. After a second or so, he started with his questions.  “So… did the Bartender say why he expected me to come here?  Did I get here myself or was I summoned?  Why are we meeting?” 


“Well, let’s take the middle question first, the answer is a bit of both.  You wouldn’t be here now if you didn’t want to be here.  Just as the Bartender has said, you are in control of your destiny, but since you still have a hard time believing that, we sort of ‘boost’ the power a little to pull you along once we know the direction.  The Bartender just thought you might like to have someone to talk to.  As to why we are meeting, you’ll need to answer that yourself, Sam.”


“How would I know that?  I didn’t even know you or this place existed.  I don’t know what’s expected of me in this place.” Sam was right, great questions, and confusing answers.


“Nothing is expected of you.  If you want to drink that nice cup of coffee and chat, we can do that.  If you’d prefer to read a book, the shelves contain quite a selection.  You can choose a classic, or a mindless diversion, or even some fascinating non-fiction.  It’s interesting, but it seems like whenever I scan the shelves, I’ll find something I may or may not have been looking for, but the book I need is always there.” 


“So I’m supposed to read a book?”


“Only if you want to.”


“Why it is that whenever I come in these ‘inter-point’ havens, I never feel like I’m getting the meaning?  Everything seems to be in riddles.  It’s like I’m given just taste of the answers but the rest….” His tirade started to trail off, but then the right analogy hit him.  “It just seems like I’m being played with like a cat with a mouse,” the statement dripped with frustration and anger, mixed with a large dose of self- pity.


Esther looked directly into Sam’s green, troubled eyes.  “Would you like to examine those feelings?”


“You sound like Verbena.” Sam took another sip of his coffee.  As he put the cup back down, a light seemed to go off in his head.  “That’s what this is, isn’t it?  Are you a psychiatrist?  You said that the Bartender was expecting me?  I remember he once said, “Let too much time go by and you’ll lose touch with reality.”  Have I actually lost it?  I mean, am I nuts now?  Is that what leaping does to you—drives you crazy?  God, I hope they don’t put me into a place like when I had the shock treatment.  I NEVER want to experience THAT again!”  Sam was agitated and he jumped up, looking around like he thought he might be trapped.


Esther put her hand out and took Sam’s in her own.  “Sam, that’s not it at all.  As I said before, we can chat or you can read a book, or whatever you feel is best.  But let me ask you, do YOU feel that you need a psychiatrist?”


Sam’s looked down at Esther’s face, seeing it was calm and held a slight smile.  He didn’t know what it was, but just seeing her clear eyes and reading her calm demeanor settled him down.  He retook his chair.  “I don’t know.  It’s been so long.  Things have been really tough over the past year or so.  At least I think that’s how long it’s been.  I just don’t know anymore.”


Esther took a second to think about what Sam had said.  “Sam, I think you know more than you believe you do.  You say you don’t know, but you’re also indicating that your perception is that leaping is becoming tougher.  Is that correct?”


Sam looked at her with sheer amazement.  “What do you mean PERCEPTION?  I KNOW they’ve gotten tougher.  The Bartender even warned me they’d become tougher.”


Esther considered that.  “Is that what he really said?  That the leaps would become tougher?”


Sam thought back to the conversation.


The Bartender had said when comparing Sam’s leaping to the priesthood, “They can also take sabbaticals, especially before embarking on a difficult new assignment.”

Sam realized then it was he who had answered
, “The Leaps are going to get tougher?”


“No, he never actually answered that question.  I just assumed that was the answer.  And now that I think of it, he said I could take sabbaticals before the difficult assignments.  I guess not all of the leaps will be tough, but God, some of them have been so hard,” Sam started to get animated again as he continued, “and I’ve failed so many times.  It didn’t used to be like that.”


Esther looked at Sam compassionately, her eyes full of concern as she slightly leaned toward him.  “Sam,” she called his name so softly that it was all that he needed to light the fire that was already bubbling underneath the surface.


“I killed Marilyn Hicks as sure as I shot her.  I used the razor!  I cut my own throat!  That was just so wrong of me to do!  Suicide should never be the answer!  There had to be another way.  That poor girl leaped back into a dying body that I killed.  I… I should have been able to save her.”  Sam’s eyes became moist and tears started to fall.  “It just hurt so bad.  I’ve never hurt that bad before!”  Sam’s head fell to his arms on the table and his body became wracked with heavy sobs.





Esther reached over to the box of tissues that was within reach and rubbed Sam’s back lightly, letting him know there was someone there for him.  After a moment, the sobs lessened and Esther removed her hand.  Sam took a few deep breaths and struggled to regain his composure.


Suddenly, Sam looked up, eyes blazing and declared, “If I were really in control I’d have made a difference.  I’d have stopped it!  She’d still be ALIVE!”


“Sam, I know that you believe that, but you can’t fix everything that goes wrong.  After all, you are only human,” the words were said softly and with great feeling.  “And remember, you saved her long enough to write your/her feelings.  The first time, both her father and brother blamed themselves for her death.  The second time, they at least knew what she was thinking and they didn’t blame themselves as much.”


“Okay, but what must it have been like for her to leap in and know she was dying—that must have been terrifying.” Sam was trying to reason things out.


“Well, in Marilyn’s case, she was numbed to that reality.  Remember what you leaped into her at the start.  She had already stepped over that line.  She had already decided this was an acceptable solution.  I truly don’t believe she felt anything when she leaped back in except a physical end to her pain.”  Esther paused a moment and then continued, “Even if you had leaped out with her in complete health, she still would have taken her life.  That’s part of free will.  We don’t always like it, but sometimes we’re up against a losing battle.  We just need to accept it and go on, knowing that the odds were too great.”


“That just SUCKS,” the bitterness in Sam’s voice was palatable.  “If I can’t win, why am I put there?  Isn’t that like being set up for failure?”  Sam fell again into his own self-pity, looking deeply into his almost full yet cooled mug of coffee.


“Let me freshen that up for you,” Sam heard beside him.  Looking up he saw the skinny kid from behind the counter.  He looked somewhat familiar, but Sam couldn’t quite place him.  Sam nodded his acceptance of the offer and then took another sip.


“The coffee is really good.  Thank you.”  No matter what, Thelma Beckett’s teachings about manners came through loud and clear.


“Sam, did you ever have a time when you failed before you started leaping?”  Esther again looked into his eyes, searching for an answer.


“Sure, although I seemed able to turn most of the problems into opportunities.  I’d think about what had gone wrong, what had gone right, and then incorporate what I’d learned into the next situation.”


“Do you think you can look at your leaps that way?”  Esther continued her line of questioning.


“Well, it’s harder.  You see, I get Swiss-cheesed during my leaps.  Sometimes I forget everything I’ve learned previously.”  Sam hated it when that happened.  Having an eidetic memory from childhood, he found it frustrating to lose the ability to pull things up at a moments notice.  Although he usually remembered enough to complete the leap, sometimes it seemed he had to work harder for the answers to come.  That was very different than his pre-leap experience when the answers just would flow in easily.


“Yes, but you have the in-between times to incorporate those things into the who you are, your autopilot as it were.  Have you ever wondered why from leap to leap you are still always Sam Beckett?  Why even when the other’s ego pushes you aside, there is still a complete Sam Beckett inside?”  Esther said this softly, allowing the concept to fully seep into Sam’s thoughts.


“I guess I’d never thought about it like that.  I just am, like I’ve always been.   I’ve always known who I am,” Sam said almost in a whisper, thinking hard on its implications.  “Sometimes the others sort of take hold of me, and I find I’m doing things that I don’t have experience doing.  And sometimes....” Sam’s shoulders took on a dejected posture.   “Sometimes I do things that are horrible and awful.  Like the time before the timeline was fixed.  I killed my own nephew in cold blood.  I couldn’t stop myself.  It was like I was hidden back inside the host’s mind.  I could watch what was happening like it was on a screen, but I couldn’t stop it.  I knew it was wrong, but I still took that knife and cut his throat.  I felt his blood on my hands.”  Sam looked down at those hands now as he relived the experience making him shake.  “I’m trained to be a physician, to save lives and here I was taking his life.”


Esther looked at him with such compassion.  “Sam, that must have been horrible to feel like you had no control.  But remember, Lothos had put that chip inside you that was controlling what you did.  It wasn’t you.  You need to forgive yourself.”


Sam just nodded.  His head still down.


“Sam, what do you take away from these experiences where the host has you do things that you aren’t comfortable with?”


Sam thought for a moment.  “Well, sometimes I learn something about how to do something I’ve never done and sometimes I have a better understanding of what doesn’t work.”  An idea took hold in Sam’s mind, “So you’re saying that what I learn, I take with me?”


With absolute certainty Esther stated, “It’s mostly at an unconscious or subconscious level at best, but yes, you do grow and learn through your travels in time.” 


“Okay, I guess that makes sense,” Sam considered what she said carefully.  “After all, I know I’ve gotten better at reading the clues when I leap in.  Sometimes, I’ve even got more of it figured out than Al when he arrives.”  Sam thought back to the pleasure this gave him, when he knew more than Al—especially at the start of a leap.


“That’s exactly it, Sam.  You are learning and growing.  Who knows, perhaps it won’t be that much longer before you no longer need the ‘boosters’ we provide.  Esther was pleased with Sam’s brightening mood.  However, Sam, being who he was, didn’t shy away from tackling the next issue that was bothering him.


“What about going home though.  I’m not there for the most important people in my life.  Donna, Stephen, Al, and Beth…” he stopped suddenly and turned pale.  “And now I’m a grandfather.  Sammy Jo had a little girl, her name’s Isabella.  I’ve never even held her.  For that matter, I never got to hold Sammy Jo or Stephen when they were babies either!  What kind of a man am I that I’m not there for my family?”


Esther sighed.  If it wasn’t the leaps themselves that were causing Sam to lose faith in himself, then recognizing the reality of the sacrifice caused by his choice to keep leaping did the job just as well.  This Sam Beckett was a complicated man and she wondered if anyone could help him help himself.  She knew though that the Bartender would never have asked her to meet with Sam if he wasn’t concerned with his well being. 


Everyone who worked with the Bartender knew about Sam.  He was the only mortal in his group of leapers.  While the others, the ones who had already passed beyond the mortal plane of existence, had been given the opportunity to help out, to set things right after they died, they found that Sam was unique.  He had actually chosen to do this while he was alive, while he was still in his mortal shell.  That was the amazing thing and the rest of the leapers were amazed by the soul of this mortal.  Whereas the rules did not allow any of them to go back into their own timeline, Sam’s project allowed him to do exactly that.  He’d built his project so he could travel within his own lifetime.  As far as they knew, he had never turned away from a challenge, but always performed his task of setting right what once went wrong to the best of his abilities.


When Sam had first leaped, the Bartender had questioned allowing mortals to act as agents of change, then the Bartender had looked at Sam’s heart and soul.  He knew that this man could do the work, which needed to be done, and Sam’s unique ability to travel in his own lifetime was a new tool.  However, Sam didn’t know how to use this tool, not at first, so the Bartender had chosen to ‘help’ him along.  The fact that Sam’s friend was there to provide support and friendship made the equation work.


The Bartender had learned recently just how strong those bonds of friendship were.  Even when Sam, controlled by Lothos’ chip, had lashed out at his best friend, his buddy was still willing to do whatever it took to be there for Sam.  The Bartender had seldom seen such devotion to the concept best stated as, “greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friend.”  He knew that Sam’s friend was willing to do that when he had placed himself into the Accelerator, knowing full well that he may never return.


So the Bartender knew how precious Sam’s soul was.  How, like his brain, Sam’s soul set him apart from the rest of that physical plane he existed on, and recent events had troubled that soul more than the Bartender was comfortable with.  After all, this was a mortal man who still had his life to live.  The Bartender had once told Sam,You’ve done a lot of good, Sam Beckett and you can do a lot more” to which Sam had replied “More? I don’t want more. I want to go home.”  Even though Sam had been told, numerous times, that he controlled his destiny, Sam refused to believe it and so The Bartender had continued to ‘help’ Sam travel through time.


Sam didn’t realize, of course, that his memory of the Café Nervosa had summoned Esther to the coffee shop.  In his mind, that coffee shop in Seattle would be associated with the thought of psychiatrists.  Sam only knew that he was hurting badly and that his desire to speak with Verbena had put this session into motion.


Sam didn’t know that Esther had been a distinguished psychiatrist when she had been alive.  She had been offered this opportunity by the Bartender to help him help himself.  When she’d asked the Bartender why he didn’t help Sam himself, the Bartender told her it couldn’t be him.  Sam was just too wary of accepting what the Bartender tried to tell him.  So, Esther was doing her best to help.  Hearing his last question, she turned to Sam. “What kind of man do you think you are and why do you think that?”


Sam considered the question.  “Well, I know what kind of man my father was and he was always there for us.  Life on a farm was hard work.  We all had to pitch in and do our fair share of what needed to be done, but that was just reality.  Dad expected us to do what was needed and he led us by example that he was equally expected to work himself.  He certainly hadn’t expected for someone with my IQ to be a part of the family, but he did the best for me that he could, just like he did with Tom and Katie.  That’s what a father should do—do the best for his family that he can.” 


“I haven’t been there to lead by example, haven’t been there for Stephen the way my Dad was for me.  No, I just leap through time and deal with everyone else’s problems while leaving my family and friends to suffer.  God, I’m not even there for my wife, the love of my life.  She’s just stuck waiting for me when her life could have been so much richer.”  Sam’s memory of Donna hit him now.  He ached to be with her, to hold her in his arms.  Instead, he realized that after he had leaped, there’d been so few times to be together, for him to simply hold her close and lose himself in their love.


What had he done to her?  He’d brought her into a life where she had to be a single parent, where her every waking moment was spent on bringing him home to her.  What kind of a life was that?  Sam thought back to his father and how he’d always treated his mother with the utmost respect and caring.  Even when he had to be away from the farm on business, he had always called her each day to discuss things.  More importantly, those phone calls had always ended with John Beckett telling his wife that he loved her.


Sam bitterly thought how HE didn’t even REMEMBER Donna on his leaps.  He didn’t remember any of them, except for occasional flashes of memory.  That fact, more than anything else tore at his soul.


Sam’s voice got quieter, “I think if my Dad was still around, he’d say that I haven’t been the man he raised me to be, not where my family is concerned anyway.  Oh, he might appreciate that I do my best to help people—he taught me to do that too.  But in regards to family?  Those are the ties that bind.”


Again, Sam was in the throes of self-pity.  He got up then and started walking around the coffee shop.  Both Esther and the skinny kid watched him as the turmoil continued to play upon his face.


Sam was doing his best to figure out this latest dilemma.  On the one hand, he’d been told that he controlled his own destiny, but if that was the case WHY hadn’t he leaped home.  Since he couldn’t leap home, that told him he wasn’t controlling his destiny, but that would mean they were lying to him.  If they were lying to him then that meant he was taking “a flying leap” for beings that didn’t have integrity and didn’t play fair, but if it was God, then integrity would have to be the basis of the relationship—God didn’t lie. 


No matter which way Sam tried to reason this out, it wouldn’t play out for him; it wouldn’t fit the way he wanted to believe about the whole situation.  Sam decided to try another line of reasoning. 


If he assumed that God didn’t lie, then that would mean that he was controlling his own destiny.  If that were true, then….  Suddenly, the worst sinking feeling that Sam ever had hit him.  ”I must not WANT to go home,” burst from Sam’s lips in an anguished cry.  “I must not care or love my family.  Oh Lord!  I am exactly going against EVERYTHING I admired about my Dad.  I am not a son he’d want to claim.”  At that moment, self-loathing threatened to take Sam over and he stood there, eyes to the floor, shoulders stooped.


“Sam?  Why are you taking the sucker’s choice?” asked Esther quietly.


“What do you mean?” said Sam still seemingly checking out his shoes.


“I mean why is it either/or?  Why can’t you see an ‘and’ in the equation?” Standing, she walked over to Sam and placed a hand on his shoulder.


“Why did you create Project Quantum Leap?”


“To travel in time,” answered Sam honestly.


“Why’d you want to travel in time?”


Something was telling him he’d heard these questions before.  “To change the world.”


“To make it a better place?”


“Oh course….  Now hold it, I’ve already been here before!” Sam’s frustration was growing again.


“It doesn’t make the questions invalid to answer them again.  Sam, you have to come to grips that you want multiple things.  Lot’s of people have this problem.  Your situation is just a little… ah… different.”


“What do you mean?”


“Most people don’t go out and build a machine that will jerk them around through time.  Add to that the fact that you WILLINGLY stepped into the Accelerator before even you thought it was ready.”


Sam became defensive.  “I was going to lose funding.  There wouldn’t have even been a chance to continue if I hadn’t done what I did.  It was the only course of action I COULD take.”


“But don’t you see?  It was a choice!  If you hadn’t willingly made that choice, you wouldn’t have that family back at Project Quantum Leap.  All that would be there would be Al and the others who started with you.  Al wouldn’t have Beth or his daughters, or his grandchildren.  Tom wouldn’t be alive, nor his two children.  You wouldn’t have seen your father before he passed on.  Donna, Sammy Jo, and Stephen would not be there at all.  Many of the things you want are there because you choose to take a leap of faith.”


Esther decided to drive the point home.  “Sam, if you hadn’t stepped into the Accelerator, what would your life be like today?”


“I don’t know.” Bitterness was all that was present in Sam’s voice.  “Probably better than what it is today.  I wouldn’t be spending my life leaping, never having a place to call home.  I wouldn’t be a traitor to the family values that my father and mother lived every day of their lives together.  Everyone would be better off.  Everything would be wonderful if I just hadn’t stepped into that damned Accelerator.”


Esther looked over to the skinny kid behind the counter.  He nodded and Esther said, “Let’s find out if you’re right.”  A second later, Sam found himself leaping again.





Sam awoke in a bed, an alarm clock going off beside him.  He hit the off button and threw his legs off the bed.  He noticed that the room was a bit cold and was happy to find his slippers next to the bed.  He realized that he was hungry and decided to find the kitchen, grabbing the robe off the hook on the back of the door.


As he walked out of the room a cat came up and brushed against his legs, mewing.  Sam reached down and picked it up.  “What’s your name puss?” He noticed a nametag and read it.  “Donner.  Hey I had a cat named Donner when I was a kid.  Now what do you think about that!”  He put the cat down and continued looking about his new environment.


Sam noticed that the hallway was lined with bookshelves.  He scanned them, happy with what he saw.  If books were any clue to the person he leaped into, they had really similar interests.  He saw books spanning all six of his degrees and even some topics that he hadn’t studied, but had wanted to.  Sam hoped that would make this leap easier, but if nothing else, if he was here long enough, he might be able to catch up on a bit of reading.


Continuing down the hallway, he gazed into the second upstairs ‘bedroom.’  He looked inside and was surprised to find the room had been turned into a personal dojo.  He noted that it was traditionally laid out with the weapons upon the back wall.  He walked into the room and found that the closet held several clean uniforms ready for the next practice session.  He noted that the uniform belts were black.


Closing the closet door, he looked again about the room.  It was impeccably clean.  This pleased him.  It told him that the occupant of this house respected not just the activity of martial arts, but also the discipline and concepts that a master would expect in his dojo.  There was a reason that dojo meant “the place of the way.”


He left the room and continued walking down the hall towards the stairwell.  The house was small, but well appointed.  Whoever lived here seemed to be doing pretty well.  Not rich, but comfortable. 


Sam wondered where Al was.  Usually his friend would at least make an appearance, tell him nothing, and then go off to learn what he could from Ziggy.  Oh well, maybe he could find out those minor details before Al got there.  He liked it when he won that game.


As Sam walked into the kitchen, he realized that there was a dog in the house too, waiting by the door to go outside to take care of morning business.  Sam noticed the dog’s name, Chance, was woven into his collar.  He opened the door and the dog walked out sniffing around the yard.  The dog ran about the yard for a few minutes, did what nature demanded, and then came back to the door.  Sam let the dog back in and immediately the dog went over to his bowl looking between the bowl and Sam.


“Guess you guys must be hungry.”  Sam looked through a few cabinets and found both dog and cat foods.  After filling their bowls and assuring they had fresh water, the animals both decided breakfast was an activity to enjoy.


‘These must be pretty trusting animals.  Usually I get at least a look or growl before they start trusting me.’  Sam continued to putter around the kitchen, making a breakfast of eggs, toast, juice, and, of course, coffee.  He was just finishing his meal when he heard the doorbell and got up to answer it.  He figured by this time that he was the only resident of the house other than the dog and cat.


As he walked down the hall, he turned to look in the hall mirror and stopped dead in his tracks.


“It’s me—I’m me, but why haven’t I leaped back to the Project?”  Sam was confused.  He looked in the mirror and found the face older than when he’d been at Al’s Place.  Sam touched his face and traced the lines that he didn’t remember being there.  Sam didn’t understand but somehow, the face looking back at him didn’t ‘fit.’  Sam thought for a moment what a crazy thought that was.  After all, how could you not fit your own face?


Suddenly, it all made sense.  The books, the dojo, the cat.  This was his home, his ‘space’—but he didn’t remember this house.  It certainly felt comfortable to him.  Everything there was a direct reflection of the person he was.  There was something wrong with that though. 


Where was Donna?  Where were the little nuances that stated her presence?  Where were Stephen’s things?  If this house only has two bedrooms, why is there a dojo and not a room for Stephen?  What’s going on?!’


The doorbell rang again followed by a knock.  “I’m coming!” Sam went to answer the door leaving this disturbing mystery until later.


When Sam opened the door, he got the second major shock of the morning.  Al was standing there on the stoop, cigar in hand.  His clothes held the same sense of style, but seemed more somber than usual.  He was wearing a dark green suit with gold pinstripes and a gold shirt.  His tie was really unique with multiple colors. He had on simple brown loafers and socks.


“What… you’re not dressed yet?  What’s with you Sam, you tell me to come pick you up at nine sharp and you’re not even dressed yet.”  Al was obviously a bit perturbed.


“AL!  YOU’RE HERE!  IN FLESH AND BLOOD!”  Sam felt weak and leaned against the wall.


“Sam?  Are you okay?  Concern was evident in both the look that Al gave him and his voice.  “You look white as a sheet.”


“Al… what year is it? Sam managed to croak out the question.


“2006…” Al drawled.


“And where am I?” Sam was feeling a bit nauseated.


“You’re in your house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  What is this?  Twenty questions?”  Al was sounding a bit miffed.


“Al.  Why aren’t we at Project Quantum Leap?”


“Sam.  Why do you want to bring that up again?  You know that it didn’t work out.  Sure, everything SHOULD have worked.  On paper it was fine, but the retrieval program—we just couldn’t fix it.”  Al was really becoming concerned with how Sam was acting.  “Sam, I really think you need to sit down.  You don’t look so hot.”


Sam nodded and Al snuffed out his cigar before the two walked into the living room.  It was comfortable, in a bachelor’s kind of way.  A nice leather sofa and two side chairs were gathered in front of what once had been a working fireplace, but had been converted to natural gas.   A Steinway grand piano had a prominent place in the room, angled at such a way that it was obviously there for a workout and not simply for show.  Side tables holding matching Frank Lloyd Wright lamps sat between the sofa and the chairs.  A coffee table of mission design rounded out the grouping.  Sam sat in one of the chairs while Al sat on the sofa.


“Sam.  Really, what’s wrong?  You haven’t brought up Project Quantum Leap for years now.   I know it was your dream and it was tough to walk away from, but it just didn’t work out.  Who knows what would have happened if you stepped into the Accelerator that night.  I don’t know, maybe your work on the entanglement of quantum particles will allow someone, someday to figure it all out.  Then again, maybe time travel is just an impossibility for humanity.” Al shook his head at the thought.


Sam took in this knowledge and realized he’d never leaped.  Then why do I remember it all?  Why do I remember all the people at the project… my family, my friends…  why do I remember those leaps and all the things I’ve done.  It just doesn’t make sense.  What has changed?’  Sam looked up.  “Al, what do I do now?  I mean, what’s my life like?”  Sam was nervously chewing on his lower lip, his eyes begging for an answer.


“Sam, have you had a stroke or something?  You know like Dolores, my… what was she… seventh wife?  She started acting funny after her stroke, God rest her soul.  Couldn’t remember anything.  I think I should call an ambulance.”


“No, Al.  That won’t be necessary.  Just answer my question.  What’s my life like,” Sam continued to press for an answer, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear it.


“Well, let’s see.  It is 2006—you had your 53rd birthday last August.  Do you remember that nice dinner we had that night?”  Al looked at Sam trying to see what he could remember, but Sam’s face was blank.  He went on, still concerned about his friend’s obvious change. “Anyway, you’re the head of the physics department at MIT, professor emeritus.  You live here in Cambridge with your cat and dog and you get to do pretty much whatever research you want to do.  Really, Sam, what’s with all the questions?”  Alarm bells were going of like lit firecrackers in Al’s head.


“Al.  What if I was to tell you that Project Quantum Leap was NOT a failure?  That I really had leaped through time?  That this is not the way things are supposed to be.  That….” Sam trailed off, looking at this friend with both hope and fear at the same time.


“Sammy.  I’d say that you’d finally cracked that bottle of Lagavulin I gave you for your fiftieth birthday and finished it off in one round.  I was there, remember?  You were trying to decide what to do and decided that if the retrieval program wasn’t ready NO ONE was going to try it out.  You really ticked off the DoE with that stunt too.  I wasn’t sure that they’d ever fund you again.  Something about wasting way too much money on a pig in a poke.”


Al was still concerned about Sam, watching him like a hawk.  “Now, are you going to get ready or what?  Don’t we have to get you to the airport?  You know how long things take.  If we don’t leave soon, you’ll miss your flight out to Hawaii.”


“Why am I going to Hawaii?”


“All right.  That’s it.  You ARE going to MISS your flight, but it’s so we can take you into the hospital.  All you’ve been talking about for the last week is getting to visit Katie and the new bambino, and now you can’t remember WHY you’re going?”  Al had finally decided that the health and safety of his friend was paramount and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.


Sam understood that he wasn’t going to get Al to back down and that a trip to the hospital was in his near future.  He knew that when they reached the hospital, they’d find nothing wrong, at least not physically.  He was healthy as a horse and he knew it.  Sam did, however, have one more question to ask Al and he wasn’t sure how his friend would take it.  Softly, he voiced the words, “Al, if Project Quantum Leap didn’t succeed, why are you here in Cambridge with me?”


Al looked stricken.  “Sam, what is WRONG with you?  You know we’ve stuck together through thick and thin.  You’re my best buddy!  You asked me to help head up the Entanglement Project and when that ended three years ago, I decided to retire here when you decided to teach at MIT.  What’s happening to you?  Has that great brain of yours decided to go belly up?”


Sam didn’t know what to say.  From his viewpoint, he’d lost it all.  No Donna, no Stephen, no Sammy Jo, no Isabella.  Katie and he were all that were left of the Beckett clan.  And what was it that Al said—his seventh wife?  How did he afford the alimony?


‘No!  This isn’t right.  This isn’t what I want.  I want my family back and I want them back now!’  The emotions that Sam felt bordered upon despair.  I never knew how blessed I am.  Even with the constant stress of leaping from life to life, never knowing if and when I can go home, at least I have a home I want to return to.’


Yes, he’d step into the accelerator again at this very moment and not look back.  It was better than this life with no family.  He was sure the cat and dog were very nice, but they weren’t enough. 


Another memory was triggered as he thought of the difference between this timeline and the one he had left.  Donna.  Especially that night when he had leapt back into his younger self, back to that night they had created Stephen with their love (or was it the next morning in the shower? an unfamiliar lecherous thought crossed his mind.)   It really made no difference, what mattered was his memory of the softness of her skin, the scent of her hair, and the curves of her body as they’d explored the depths of their love.  As the memory played out in his thoughts, Sam realized that he didn’t know how, but he was going to reclaim that life. 


“Well, if you insist upon taking me to the hospital, let me call Katie and let her know I’ll have to reschedule,” Sam said as he walked over to the phone.  He dialed what he remembered to be Katie’s number hoping it was the same.  Sure enough, a moment later a woman’s voice answered the phone with “Bonnick’s residence.”


“Katie.  Is that you?”  Sam felt the same twinge he did whenever he got a chance to speak with his family.


“Yes, Sam.  Why are you calling?  Anything wrong?  We’re planning to meet you at the airport tonight.  Has the flight been changed?”  Katie was obviously eager to see him.


“No, nothing’s wrong but Al’s insisting that I need a check-up before leaving.  Really, it’s nothing and to ease his mind, I’ve agreed.”


“Sam, are you sure you’re okay?  Cooped up in that little house with all your books and things.  I really think getting out here will be the best medicine for you.  You always so enjoy being Uncle Sam, and now you’re GREAT Uncle Sam.”  Katie wasn’t giving up easily.  “You’ve always told me that the greatest regret you have is that you never had a family of your own.  It’s just so sad that after that bitch, Donna, left you at the altar, you never found anyone else.”


“DON’T YOU EVER CALL HER THAT AGAIN, KATIE!”  The anger sprang to Sam lips immediately, but then the memory started to fill in for him and his heart felt the pain.


He’d been standing at the altar, Al by his side.  Katie and his mother were in the front pew on the groom’s side of the church.  At first he thought there might have been a glitch in the organ, but as the minutes ticked by, he realized that Donna would not be coming through the door to the sanctuary, that she would not be standing beside him to pledge her life and love to him as he was ready to pledge his to her.  He had simply thanked the people for coming and had turned to go back to the little dressing area that Al and he had left such a short time before.


Sam removed the ascot from the formal morning suit that Donna had asked him to wear.  He had wanted to help make this a special memory for her and had agreed to wear the outfit, even though he’d never liked having to dress so formally.  Al had immediately suggested going to a bar, and shocked by the events, Sam had agreed, barely speaking with his mother or sister before heading out to a strip club Al was familiar with. 


They made quite a sight at the club, dressed as they were like gentlemen from the last century.  Sam had drank heavily, only vaguely aware of his surroundings. After his fourth double shot of Scotch, none of which he had nursed, he suddenly got up and left the bar, seemingly falling off the face of the earth.  Al had started a formal search for Sam but no one was able to discover where Sam had disappeared.  A month after the botched wedding, Sam had returned and made it clear he would speak to no one about that day, not even to Al.  Sam had decided to lock the door to those thoughts and emotions.  He had decided never to revisit the chasm of emptiness that Donna had left in his soul.


“Sam, I’m sorry, but after she left you, you never found anyone else.  I feel like she stole a part of your life that day that would have led you to a happier, more contented life.  You would have made a wonderful father, Sam.”


“Katie, I know you’re just trying to say what you feel, but I just don’t want to talk about it, okay?  I’ll give you a call when I rebook, probably tomorrow.  Hey sis, you know I love you?”  Sam found that his eyes were getting a bit moist.


“Sam, you’re the best big brother a girl could have and I love you too.  Now hurry up and get checked out so that Al can sleep at night then rebook quickly.  You really need to come out and see Samuel Thomas Bonnick.  The christening is next Sunday.”  Katie was firm and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.


“As long as I’m here, I promise I’ll be there,” Sam answered honestly.


“What exactly is that supposed to mean?  You sure you’re okay?”


“Yes Katie, I’m fine, but I’ve lost something very precious to me and I have to try to reclaim it.”  Knowing he was probably confusing his sister more he ended with, “You know I get a little weird sometimes.  Don’t worry, I’ll always be your big brother and I will be with you soon.”


“All right, Sam, but I’d be holding you to your word.  Give me a call when you have the new travel plans.  Bye.”


“Bye, Katie.  See you soon.”  Sam hung up the phone and then added under his breath, “But I hope it is back the way I remember it.”


Sam then turned to Al.  “Let me go upstairs and get dressed.  I’m not going to the hospital in my pajamas and robe.  I’ll be right down.”


Al nodded his head and picked up one of the magazines on Sam’s coffee table.  “Sam, can’t you just keep an issue or two of Playboy around, it would sure make more interesting reading that this high-brow stuff you’re always reading.”


Sam laughed, thinking no matter what timeline he was in; Al’s unique character would come to the foreground.  “Hey, you can read those at your place.  You have enough to start your own library!”  With that, Sam turned and went back up to his bedroom.


Sam realized that if he didn’t leave soon, the memories that he had of his family from the other timeline would fade away and he’d be left instead with the one he had of the day Donna left him.  Al had explained that was the way things were with major shifts.  For a short while the memory of two timelines would be there, but quickly, the current timeline would become solidified and the previous timeline would become a mere hint of a memory.  He didn’t want to lose the Donna he loved.


Walking into his room, he was shocked to see Esther again.


“Is this what you want, Sam?  No leaping, no family?”  The question was asked forthrightly.


“No, it’s not.  Please—change it back.  I think I understand now.  I’m not yet sure how I’ll make the “and” come true, but leaping AND having a family to come back to—that’s what I want.  I want my life back.”  Sam’s wistful reply held the most honest words he had ever spoken.


 “Sam, if that’s what you want, you can put yourself back.  You control your destiny.”


Sam looked at her determined and then closed his eyes, reaching out through time and space, pushing the current timeline away, while he willed himself to reenter the timeline where Donna, Stephen, and the others awaited him back at Project Quantum Leap.  He would never again question his choice to step into the Accelerator.  He had seen that life and it wasn’t his.


Nobody heard a voice saying, “God Bless, Sam.”




Esther walked back into the coffee shop.  The skinny kid turned to her.  “Everything okay then?”


Esther paused thoughtfully.  “I’m not sure, Al.  That was a lot for him to take in.  And I still don’t think he’s fully ready to accept the ramifications.  He’s a stubborn man, that Sam Beckett.”


Al the Skinny Kid laughed.  “Yeah, but then Mother Theresa wasn’t exactly a pushover either.  I think Sam will be fine for now.  Thank you, Esther.  I don’t think he would have accepted it from me.”


Esther smiled, “He didn’t accept it from me either.  Rather I think he’s beginning to accept it for himself.” 




Sam found himself in the blue light again.  The most recent leap was still in his mind.  Had he done it?  Was he able to push aside that life devoid of those he loved?  He thought again, ‘Except Al.  He was still my friend.  He was still with me.’  But Donna and the other’s?  Oh God, he wanted them back.


The voice came from nowhere in particular.  “You’ve chosen?”


Sam considered the question and answered, “Yes.  I’ve chosen.  Is my life back the way it was?


“Yes, everything is as you remember.  How do you feel about that?”


Sam thought what this meant to him and stated, “Well, I wouldn’t use the word wonderful, but it sure beats the alternative.”


With that Sam felt the pull towards another leap.





Doctor Samuel Beckett shook his head as the last effects of his previous leap dissipated and his head began to clear. Throughout his many time traveling escapades he would usually physically adjust to his new surroundings faster than his mental adjustments. As his consciousness returned, Sam could not shake the fuzziness that filled his brain and morphed into a pounding headache that occupied his twin frontal lobes. Sam rubbed his eyes, shook his head and started massaging the back of his neck trying to ease the pain while nervously shifting his feet on a loose gritty surface.


"Have thee an illness, Master Williams?" inquired a young female voice.


Sam stopped his self-induced massage, barely opening his eyes afraid of what he might observe. He was standing on a dirt floor in a sparsely furnished clapboard house that contained a table, a bureau, three wooden chairs and a huge stone fireplace. The atmosphere smelled of meat cooking in a large pot over the fire, spices and burning embers. The woman sitting on the chair near Sam was dressed in black with a black bonnet and large white collar looking up at Sam having put down her mending.


For the millionth time, Sam began his leap with sheepishly asking, "Excuse me, but will you repeat that?"


The woman looked up at Sam quite concerned as she restated the question, "Master Williams, are thee well?"


Sam hesitated and looked down at himself. He was wearing black boots, black pants and coat and a white collar. Reaching up to his head he removed a tall black hat with a large buckle on it.


As if the hat became incredibly hot, Sam dropped it, looked up to the shingled roof and exclaimed, "I'm a pilgrim? OH BOOOOY!"



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