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.
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.
evil ones 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
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.
had bought himself a little time. Not
enough though. He’d been able
to convince Admiral Beckett that the airstrip at the Project was down for
maintenance and that he would need to fly into
. He had, of course, assured
that a limousine was waiting to bring him to Stallion’s Gate.
limo had arrived ten minutes before and now Al was waiting for Admiral
Thomas Beckett, USN to arrive into the heart of Project Quantum Leap.
He didn’t expect the meeting would be pleasant, but then it never
was with that nozzle. Al shook
his head. In all of his years of
friendship with Sam, he and Tom had never gotten along and after Sam leapt
what little tolerance that was present had turned into visceral animosity.
At this point, they were barely civil to each other; affording the
other the respect due the uniform since the other man wearing it, in each of
their respective opinions, did not deserve the respect themselves.
Al was wearing that uniform today, full dress whites, ribbons and
had reserved the conference room. He’d
asked Ziggy to inform him when Admiral Beckett arrived at the room, giving
the excuse that he couldn’t be waiting there due to the chance that Sam
might leap and Al would be needed in the Imaging Chamber.
It was a lie and everyone involved knew it.
As long as Al was within the complex, he’d always be available to
fulfill his primary duty as the Hologram Observer that connected the
Project’s creator and head to his own time.
However, if it meant that Admiral Beckett would have to cool his
heels waiting for him, Al felt the lie was worth it.
Calavicci, Admiral Beckett has arrived at the conference room and is
requesting that you meet with him.”
those his exact words, Ziggy?”
His exact words were “Where the hell is Calavicci?
Get his ass in here now.”
Tom Beckett. But then again, why
would I expect anything else? He
made his way to the conference room. When
he walked in, he wasn’t surprised to see Tom dressed in a similar manner.
This was going to be a showdown.
They were like two gunfighters, taking their place on opposite ends
of the street, waiting to see which of them would prevail.
Only in this case, the street was a conference table.
Had this been a typical conference room, there would have been a head
position at a rectangular table. But
Sam had never wanted the room to have that kind of ambiance.
Like the chivalrous King Arthur, Sam had assured that all conference
rooms had round tables. Nobody
would be able to claim the “power position.”
At least not at the table.
did, however, both plan to sit on opposite sides of the diameter with the
furthest distance between them as possible.
The fact that neither would sit first was the only thing that kept
them from taking a position at the table.
spoke first. “Thank you for
joining me, Admiral. How is
just finished a leap three days ago. We’re
expecting him to leap any time now.”
I guess this affords you some time for general maintenance.”
know we take the opportunity whenever we can.”
dismissive grunt escaped Tom’s throat.
“Yeah...I would hope so. You
play around so much I didn’t think you ever got things like that done.
I shudder to think what might happen to my brother if the equipment
failed at the wrong time. Parallel
Hybrid Computer, Particle Accelerator, the Control Room, and an Imaging
Chamber among other things. That’s
a lot to maintain.”
glared back at Tom. “I think
there’s more to it than that, Admiral.
I don’t play where your brother’s concerned.
Sam would be dead now without me covering his ass!”
same could be said for your career, Calavicci.
It certainly would have been dead without my brother.
All your honor and integrity was at the bottom of a bottle.
I've heard the stories at the Pentagon.
I remember the sorry drunkard that Sam put his neck out for.”
stiffened at the memory of that time in his life.
“I never asked him to do that, but I’ll be forever grateful that
he chose to. And I’ll always
be there for him, unlike you.”
turned Al’s words against him. “Well, if you hadn’t kept me from him,
maybe Sam wouldn't have gone through with this cockamamie project.
Leaping through time! Only
my brother could figure something like this out!
He never could stop himself from going after his dreams, no matter
that they could sometimes hurt him. And
you let him do it...you could have
stopped him. You should have
found some way to keep the accelerator from going online.
Snip the budget here; make sure the right parts weren't expedited
there. I know you know your way
around a DoD contract!”
it was Al’s dismissive grunt that was heard.
“Oh, right. I forgot. You'd just destroy your brother’s dream
simply because you don't want him leaping; doing what comes naturally to
him, which is helping people. Kill the dream, Admiral, and you kill the man.
Is that really what you want for your brother? For him to be miserable?”
voice took on a harsher tone. “If
he’d had more time, he would have fixed the retrieval program.
Then he would be able to leap and not have been trapped for thirteen
years. It was your job to give
him that time.” Tom sneered.
“But instead...you were out on the town.
What went through your mind, Al, when they called you and told you he
was leaping? Did you realize
then that you'd made a mistake?”
voice was low and calm but held the power of a coiled snake.
“Sam had all the time in the world. He just didn't see it. I can't
change Sam's personality. He's the one who jumped the gun. He assured me
that all he was going to do was work on the retrieval program. I didn't make
a mistake, Admiral. The Contracting Officer did when he contacted Sam that
threw that bone to Al. “Well,
there's something we do agree on.” He
immediately went back into attack mode.
“But don't try to change the subject.
You could have made it impossible for him to leap at that moment.
I know my brother. Sometimes
you have to think ahead of him...figure out how to prevent him from doing
something that he hasn’t fully thought through before it hurts him.
Prematurely leaping certainly did that.”
not a two steps forward, one step back kind of person. I don't purposefully
hinder someone out of fear that something might - and I emphasize might - happen. I also apparently trust Sam a hell of a lot more
than you do, and that's sad, Admiral.”
Al shook his head. “Sam
can't even rely on his own brother.”
hatred resonated from Tom. “You
know nothing of Sam’s and my relationship, Calavicci.
You have no idea of what I
would do to help my brother. He can
rely on me.”
finally spoke the truth he’d wanted to tell Tom ever since the older
Beckett had started to show an active dislike for him.
After he and Al had met and become friends, Sam had talked at length
about how things were between him and Tom.
While he loved his brother deeply, he also wished Tom would
understand that he had grown up. He
loved being Tom’s Little Brother but hated that it sometimes meant that
Tom would try to handle things the way he had when they were kids.
The meaning of Sam’s words resonated over time and now Al stated,
“I know more about your relationship than you can possible understand,
Admiral. Trust me; I know the
signs of an overprotective monstrosity.”
Tom had had enough. He’d tried
to get this man to understand where his next actions were coming from. The
man was too stubborn to see his own mistakes.
“Well, perhaps we should get right to it then, Admiral.
On Sam’s last leap, you stole a classified document that you had
been given strict instructions by Homeland Security not to access.
Then you showed it to Sam even when you knew they were not to be
divulged to my brother.”
needed that information to complete his mission,” Al stated firmly.
you should have found another way to complete it.”
Tom pulled the papers he had brought with him out of his briefcase.
Handing a copy to the other man he went on, “You will be charged
with stealing classified documents and for allowing those documents to be
seen by unauthorized personnel.”
wasn't another way. And don't give me any crap about there is always another
way.” Al suddenly realized
what he was reading. “You're
going to remove me from the project for helping your brother?”
me, Admiral, Homeland Security. You
brought this on yourself, Calavicci. Sam
had been specifically banned from seeing this documentation.
Did you think you’d get away with that?”
was incredulous. “Tom.
It was an incorrectly classified document.
It’s a glitch. I’ve
already asked Julianna to investigate this when she gets back.”
are you doing, Al? Trying to
hide behind your daughter’s skirts again?”
stepped forward, barely holding his temper.
He just wanted to knock this jackass into the next century!
went on, “Even if Julianna finds that the classification is wrong, it
won’t change anything. The
documents are at present classified and you showed them to Sam.
Do you deny it?”
clenched teeth Al said he wouldn’t deny the truth, but went on, stating,
“This is a technicality, Tom, and you know it!”
on, Calavicci, you know the regulations as well as I do.
As much as I hate to say this, my brother's life is not above the
sworn oath we have taken to follow the laws of this country.
You will be removed from
the project. You will be charged. But when
you will be allowed to answer to those charges is open to interpretation of
the Homeland Security regulations.”
looked back at the paperwork. “How
the hell can they call me a traitor? Tom,
that contract had been fraudulently targeted to a software company in
violation of the Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements for competitive
bid. If anything, I’ve
prevented a crime here!”
dismissed him summarily, “Don’t try to weasel out of this, Calavicci.
You know that you don’t have a leg to stand on.
If you were willing to steal classified documents this time, what’s
to prevent you from doing it again and providing information crucial to
was floored by the accusation. “You
know the only reason I’d do that is if Sam needed information for his
survival. He’d never reveal
anything. The man is a certified
flag, Mom, and apple pie patriot. You
know that. You grew up with
raised his eyebrows pointedly. “Is
that why he provided complete and accurate information concerning this
project during his leap as Max Stoddard?”
couldn't prevent that! They drugged him! Hell, those bastards could have
made him do the chicken dance with how much sodium pentothal they gave
calmly stated. “That is the
point of Homeland Security. If
someone could do that to my brother once, they could do it again.
I know that Sam would never consciously turn against the country, but
there are people who would not hesitate to use sodium pentothal on him
again.” Tom stopped for a
moment, curious to ascertain how a man who had reached the same rank as his
own could make these statements. “When
did my brother become more important to you than the laws of this country,
to the oath you took when you chose to follow a military career?”
stated plainly. “He isn't more
important. He's just as important. What would you have had me do? Kept my
mouth shut? It wasn’t until we
started working with the contract that the true nature of his mission became
clear. Without it, he might have
actually been murdered! We
thought it was a random crime when really; someone was targeting
Torres. Is that what you would
have wanted? To have me watch
stated the obvious. “You've
done that before, Admiral. Seen
good soldiers die because that is the mission of the greater good.
But I think you took the easy way.
Instead of finding another way, you gave him the very information
that you were instructed not to.”
was no other way, Admiral. None. Now you tell me you'd just stand there and
watch your brother die for... a contract that was fraudulent to begin
it’s a moot point. The
contract issue just indicates how much of a loose cannon you really are.
The real point here is that Sam must be retrieved.
Since you've been unable to do that in the past thirteen years, I'm
being given that duty. I will
retrieve my brother. This
mission will not fail.” Tom
stopped, and then answered Al’s question, “And you ask if I'd watch him
die...No…I would find another
eyes narrowed to slits. “You're
saying I didn't try hard enough. You're
dead wrong, Admiral. I looked at every possibility. And if I obeyed that
order, your brother would likely be dead.”
figured it was time to end this charade.
“Well, at this point the only result of your decision to leak such
information will be your departure. I
want you out of here by ten hundred hours tomorrow.
Do we understand each other?”
kid who won the Golden Gloves all those years ago was evident as Al stated,
“You can't order me out, Admiral. We're the same rank.”
Al’s anger got the best of him as he added, “How you got to that
rank is another one of the great mysteries of the universe.”
did not rise to the bait. “Except
that I’m still active military and you are retired.
Rank doesn’t matter in this case.
Do you really want to add a trespassing on government property charge
to your list of crimes?
turned cold as ice and the two men stared at each other, both waiting for
the inevitable conclusion. Al
knew he had lost. He pulled
every ounce of his military training to the fore.
“No. Sir. I'm assuming
that I'm allowed to take what belongs to me with me?”
knew he had won. After all these
years, Albert Calavicci was exactly where he wanted him.
Heading out the door with no possibility of continuing the farce he
had made of the past thirteen years when he’d allowed his brother to
remain trapped in time. “You
will be allowed to take what you would for any standard TDY.
All the rest of your things will be boxed up by security and sent to
whatever address you wish the items to be forwarded to.”
left the room, his entire body tight as a bow string.
He would rather have laid Thomas Beckett out with a one-two punch.
Only the knowledge that if he did so, he would be dragged off the
Project and most likely charged with battery kept him from giving into that
he walked back to his quarters to pack what he would be “allowed” to
take (and he was under no illusions that they wouldn’t check his bags as
he left,) a sickening feeling overtook him.
Retrieve Sam at all costs? What
did they think he’d been doing since that night, thirteen years ago?
There was nothing in heaven or earth that Al wanted more than for his
best friend to stop bouncing around in time.
With this new development, he was afraid that whatever they would do
would kill Sam. That would truly
be a high cost.
there been another way? Was Tom
right? Al shook his head.
NO! Sam would likely have
died if I hadn’t given him that information.
It was the only choice. I
will not be party to killing the man who has done so much for so many,
politicians and brass be damned.
final thought came to mind, ‘Oh
hell, what’s the Kid going to do now!’
that, Al turned into his and Beth’s quarters to let her know they needed
Beckett was worried. His
brother, Sam, had not leapt for two months.
There were often lapses in the bounces that Sam would undergo. But
two months was a record. He’d had Ziggy running an analysis on the problem
but up to now, she hadn’t been able to suggest a reason, much less a
solution to the problem.
soon as he’d taken over as Project Administrator, Tom had pulled the main
team together. He wasn’t
surprised that the Sam’s elite group of scientists had seen him as the
enemy when he had informed them that Al had been removed from the Project.
Al had been the Project’s Administrator since before most of them
had arrived in this remote location in the middle of the
desert. There was a lot of
history between Calavicci and the personnel sitting at the table.
However, he’d been given a job to do, and, by God, he was going to
get it done. His brother would
team had informed him of the progress they had made.
He was actually impressed by the amount of work that had been done in
the years after Sam had placed himself into the Accelerator and started on
what had to be the strangest journey anyone in the history of mankind had
undertaken. This understanding,
however, angered him even more. If
the retrieval program had been this hosed, why
had his brother chosen to take his “leap of faith?”
Tom questioned the belief that Sam had that others would be able to
follow his thoughts to fix such a complex problem.
Then again, it may be that
assuring that Sam never really failed growing up could be a factor.
He cursed himself for taking such a tactic when they were children,
but it seemed such a good idea at the time.
Keep things just outside of Sam’s reach until he had the strength
and skills necessary to navigate the problems, and Sam would figure out a
way to succeed. If he desired
it, he found the way to do it. Maybe
Sam had thought that his string theory was further along than it really was.
then again, Calavicci had not helped out any.
Indeed, if he’d made sure that the parts necessary weren’t
available to have the accelerator working while the retrieval program was
still unworkable, Sam would never have been able to pull such a bone-headed
stunt. Yeah, Sam had to be protected from himself, just like when he was a
kid and no one was doing that. Sam
should have brought Tom on as a partner instead of that so called “best”
friend, Albert Calavicci. Some
the last two months, the team had worked overtime to find a solution.
Still, the elusive retrieval program was not complete.
And without Sam leaping, nothing could be done to test some of the
new theories they had developed. Why
wasn’t Sam leaping?
decided that while it was unlikely that he’d get an answer in the
affirmative, asking Ziggy for the umpteenth time whether she had determined
anything new couldn’t hurt.
voice held the weariness that he felt. “Ziggy,
has your analysis provided any new insights as to why Dr. Beckett has not
haughty, honey tones of the computer answered, “Yes, Admiral.
It is serendipitous that you’ve asked.
I’ve just completed my most recent analysis and there is a 98.6%
probability that if you leap, Dr. Beckett will become unstuck from his
current unknown location.”
eyes widened as his body took on a surprised stance.
“98.6%?! How did you
come up with that? Me leap!
That makes no sense. Having
two persons stuck in time doesn’t sound reasonable!”
computer sounded bored and if there were hands involved, Tom was certain
she’d be filing her fingernails as she continued, “You asked me if I had
any new insights. I can not help
it if you do not have the scientific expertise to understand that my
determination of probabilities utilizes the computing parameters derived
from the hybrid parallel and quantum computing paradigm.
While the late, but great Admiral Calavicci did not always appreciate
my rather extensive abilities, he never questioned how my statistical
processes were implemented. I
suggest that, in the words of that great songwriter, Don Henley, you “Get
pinched the bridge of his nose. It
was bad enough having to deal with the human scientists who questioned his
qualifications as Project Administrator.
Having a computer with an ego the size of Everest—why
did Sam think it necessary to give it a personality…Streisand’s no less!—made
this situation almost intolerable. And
now, since Al Calavicci had died in that car accident the week before, Ziggy
had decided to make him a martyr. Tom
was beginning to wonder if his brother was insane after all and this entire
project was a playground for lunatics. “Okay,
Ziggy. Thank you for your
insightful analysis. I believe,
however, you may have missed something if your suggestion is that I should
can understand why you might be scared to take such a step.
Although, the late but great Admiral Calavicci had no such qualms.
He was not afraid of
stepping into the unknown whenever it was in my Father’s best interest to
spoke with utmost patience. “Ziggy,
if Sam is your Father, then I am your Uncle.”
at this point, I’d say that you must have come from the shallow end of the
family gene pool. You obviously
are not smart enough to understand that you need to leap to allow your
brother to become unstuck and you do not possess the courage to do so if
indeed an inkling of the concept was able to seep through your overly
now I’m being insulted by a computer!”
Tom was seething, but held his temper.
“Okay, you bucket of bolts…”
will not refer to me with the affectionate terminology used by the late, but
great Al Cala….”
lost it. “That’s it, Ziggy.
You refer to him that way again and I swear, I’ll strip all your
wires and have your components melted down for scrap metal!”
infuriatingly calm and arrogant tones continued to fill the room.
“None of that alters what you must do to cause my Father to be
loosened from the constraint he is currently experiencing.
Nor does it lessen your duty to your mission which I believe was to
retrieve Dr. Beckett at any cost. Finally,
your threats to destroy me do not alter the fact that you effectively killed
my other parent.”
suddenly realized what the evitable outcome of this interchange would be.
He figured getting there first would at least save time and
aggravation. “Who would my
observer be?” Tom realized
that leaping would be a part of his near future reality.
Jo had performed observer duties in the past.
As she has a significant portion your genes in common, she would be
the logical choice.” The
computer droned on as if this were an everyday occurrence.
please page Dr. Fulton to meet me in 15 minutes.
Dom, get me a Fermi suit.”
chief programmer had been silent during this exchange.
Indeed, he had been silent during most of the past two months, at
least in the Control Room, speaking only when absolutely necessary.
Like most of the personnel on the Project, he felt that Admiral
Thomas Beckett, while likely a fine Project Administrator, had acted on a
personal vendetta rather than the best interests of the Project, and at the
heart of those best interests was Dr. Samuel Beckett.
Now, Dom nodded and left to retrieve the suit.
minutes later, Admiral Thomas Beckett stepped into the Quantum Accelerator
felt the tingly, almost electrical feeling leave his body.
Everything seemed fine. He
wondered where he could be and when he was.
He had come to his consciousness in front of a local establishment,
Al’s Place. It looked to be a
nice, friendly neighborhood bar. Probably
a good place to find out more about his life.
Tom walked through the door, he saw a rather husky, middle aged,
dark-haired, mustached man in button down white shirt with an apron tied
around his waist behind the bar. He
looked to be a pleasant soul, as he was whistling while drying glasses and
putting them away. Other then
the Bartender, there was no one else in the room.
Tom walked up to the bar and commented, “I didn't see a sign when I
came into town. What town is
Bartender looked at him and in a friendly voice replied, “
figured the first order of business would be to learn who he was.
He looked into the mirror behind the bar and saw his own reflection.
Somehow the visage that looked back at him seemed distorted; a harder
look than he figured was his projection to the world.
He figured the mirror might be old and that the lighting in the bar
may be to blame.
Bartender was looking at him, gauging the person he was.
Tom figured that he was just a good, savvy businessman.
After all, he was a stranger here and bars could encourage behaviors
that a proprietor may not wish to have in his establishment.
Now that he knew he had somehow leapt as himself, he figured he
needed to learn the date of his leap. When
he was. Newspapers were
generally good for that. “Ah...you
wouldn’t happen to have a newspaper would you?”
Bartender gestured, “End of the bar, Can I get you anything?”
was nonchalant. “No.
Not at this time. I'm
looking for someone.” He
picked up the paper indicated, a frown crossing his face.
“Hey...doesn't this town print the date in their newspaper?”
Bartender stopped wiping the glass he was holding and looked up at Tom.
“Time is a little relative here. Are
you waiting for anyone I know?”
was a bit annoyed. “I don't
know you and I certainly don’t know who
you know. What do you mean
Bartender resumed his maintenance of the glassware.
“Time just kind of comes and goes. We like to take things slowly
don't have a lot of time to spend in chit chat.
I'm looking for my brother.”
bartender put down the glass he had just polished and picked up another one.
“What's your brother’s name?”
knew it wouldn’t help, but answered anyway.
“Sam. He's in a jam at
the moment and I'm trying to help him out of it.”
Bartender stopped again and looked as if he were thinking of someone he knew
well. “Hmmm, I know a Sam.
He tends to find himself in a lot of jams, but he always seems to get
himself out of them. With a
little help from his friends. I’m
afraid that right now, he’s having some major difficulties due to conflict
between those he loves.”
was annoyed. He didn’t care
about any other Sam, just his brother. “That’s
too bad. Uh, the Sam I'm looking
for is not always himself.”
in this world is always themselves? We
all wear many masks and the way we interact with those around us is often
different, depending on how we perceive them and ourselves.”
well. I guess that's true
enough. I don’t want to get
into a philosophical discussion right now.”
Tom continued to voice his concern about his brother.
“As to the Sam I’m looking for, people generally don't get to
know him well. They tend to
think he's someone else. He
tends to only be around any one place for a short time.
How long have you known the Sam you're talking about?”
shook his head. “I don’t
think we’re talking about the same person then.”
Bartender sighed and looked frustrated.
“I don’t know. The
Sam I know comes in from time to time when he needs help, or if I do. We
help each other the best we can, and he moves on, off to make a difference
in some other life.”
my brother does try to help people. While
I admire him for that, I think it was damned stupid of him to get himself
into the jam he’s in.”
all get into jams sometime. Is it possible that your brother made a
conscious decision to live his life differently than you think is best and
you need to accept that? And as
I said before, the Sam I know has friends who help him through his
was floored. He knew what these
were from a SEAL’s perspective. He
suddenly remembered his brother had once indicated that he too had to work
through such things, but he was only 16 at the time.
Bartender looked Tom straight in the eyes.
“Yes. At any particular
moment, the Sam I know finds himself working through things that he has
little or no knowledge about or even what he should do.
Occasionally he needs his friend’s help.
Indeed, a couple of times, one particular friend of his, Al, has
shown up in his stead. Al is always right there to help when Sam needs it.
I wonder where he is this time.”
had a feeling that this place was not a normal stop along the timeline of
his life. “Al?
! You're not talking about a
jerk whose last name is Calavicci are you?”
in the same, but I wouldn’t call him a jerk. He has helped the Sam I’ve
been talking about more in the last thirteen years than you can possibly
he's not going to be anymore. He
was killed last week in a car accident.
So if you know Al, then the Sam you're talking about...”
the same Sam.” The Bartender
finished for him. “Yes,
we’ve been both speaking of your brother. The
reason why Sam is trapped right now is directly related to Al’s life and
didn’t want to hear this of all things.
It didn’t make sense. “What
do you mean? Sam's been stuck
for two months! Calavicci just
died a week ago. I don't see how
those are connected.” Tom
stopped for a moment, trying to figure out how this man seemed to know
things far beyond what was normal. “How
do you know so much about this stuff anyway?
Where the hell am I?”
Bartender was nonplussed. “These
events were set in motion when the Admiral was removed from Sam’s Project.
As to where you are, you’re simply in my bar.”
eyes narrowed. “This isn't
like any bar I've been in. You
seem to know a little too much about such an Ultra Secret project.”
is something special about this place and I am just a simple bar keep.”
The Bartender looked around his establishment, satisfaction in his
eyes. His voice indicated a
answer dripped with pure sarcasm. “Yeah...sure....and
I'm just some dumb
farm boy. I don’t believe that
for a minute. Doesn't fly,
buddy. I still don’t see how
that traitor's removal from a Project he should have never been on would
have anything to do with Sam. As
far as I’m concerned, he hasn't done near enough to help my brother out of
this mess he's gotten himself into! If
anything, he’s responsible for it.”
Bartender shook his head. “I
don't see how you consider that Al is a traitor. Sometimes, you do what you
have to do in order to survive or help someone else do so.”
The Bartender took a moment to consider his next question.
“Did you do everything by the book at all times when you were a
isn’t about me!” Tom
continued to feel that somehow, he’d stepped out of normalcy but he
couldn’t figure this place out. He
decided maybe some questions were in order.
“How do you know my name? Or
that I was a SEAL. We’ve never
would be surprised at what a Bartender knows about their customers.
I know quite a bit about Sam. Why
would it surprise you that I know about those who are important to him?
But you haven’t answered my question.
Did you do everything by the book at all times when you were a
didn’t like the direction this conversation was going. “That
was different...it was war. I
had lives to protect. Calavicci
disregarded a direct order from Homeland Security...he chose to ignore that
order. That makes him a traitor
in my book.”
had your brother’s life to protect.”
much as I love my brother, his life does not take precedence fulfilling our
oath to our country. Even Sam
would tell you that.”
But how many lives has Sam saved while he has been leaping back and
forth through time. How many
people has he protected? All
those lives have touched others, and those lives, others. Your brother has
done a lot of good.”
answer from the older Beckett was dismissive.
“Yeah...I know all about that.
I've read though Ziggy's files. Sam
has done a lot of good, but he can do more for the world if we can get him
back to the Project. He should
never have leapt. Never
have been given the chance to leap. If
I'd been his partner instead of Calavicci, I sure as hell wouldn't have let
him leap. Not without the
retrieval program working.”
now, because of events that were set in motion two months ago at the
Project, he might not be able to do anything more at all. He might not even
be able to get home. Sam is in
real danger of being stuck in time forever unless you can fix this.”
The Bartender placed his hand on Tom’s, “And, I can tell you with
certainty, you would have been in no position to stop his leaping if Sam
hadn’t leapt to begin with.”
was perplexed. “What do you
mean by that? That makes no
sense at all. I could have
helped him better than Calavicci ever could.
My brother's smart but he can do some pretty boneheaded things.
I've known Sam since he was born.
Hell, when Sam met that jerk, Calavicci was a drunken has-been.
I'll never know what Sam saw in him.”
has a gift of seeing what is inside of people.
It is one of his best qualities.”
Tom dismissed any of this. “All
I know is that Sam has a soft spot for strays.
If Sam had had his way, every stray dog and puppy would have been
brought to the farm. We were
lucky to keep it down to two cats.”
is more loyal to Sam that any cat or dog could ever be.”
well, sometimes when something is that broken down, you shouldn't risk
everything for it. Need to know
when to cut your losses. Sam
chose to risk his job and his reputation for that nozzle.
He didn't deserve it. He
never did anything that noble for Sam!”
the story of the Ugly Duckling. Everyone
thought he was a worthless duckling, but he became a beautiful swan. Just
because it's hard to see the good in someone doesn't mean it's not there.
How would you know what Al has done for him?
You’ve never really given the man a chance, never tried to see
beyond your current perception. I
think you need to learn a little more about your brother and his best
friend. It seems to me, you
don’t know them half as well as you think you do.”
The Bartender’s voice was firm and steady with surety embedded in
Beckett in front of him crossed his arms defiantly.
“I know them just fine.”
Bartender shook his head sadly. “I
think you don’t. I think there
are some things you need to see.” He
sighed and looked into Tom’s eyes, cajoling Tom to really hear what he had
to say. “Normally a leaper
touching another leaper will cause the leapers to recognize each other’s
true selves. In your case, the
rules are going to change a bit. You
will see the leaper when you touch them but they will not see you.
They were like ghosts to you the first time.
Now, you will be like that to them.
You will see events as they unfold.
Open you eyes, Tom…and your heart.”
suddenly felt that tingly feeling come over him again.
Al’s Place and the strange bartender faded from his view as he
Quantum Leap Control Room
realized he was back at Project Quantum Leap, but somehow, things were
different. He looked down and
found he was wearing a lab coat.
walked in dressed in an orange silk shirt with a silver bar at the neck,
black slacks, and leopard print skinny suspenders.
Tom could never understand this man’s fascination with wild
clothing. Al turned to him,
“Gooshie, fire up the Imaging Chamber.”
been dead for years. What’s Al
talking about. Tom
looked over to him, looking a little perturbed.
“Gooshie, anytime now would be good.”
was still confused. “Sam’s leaping?
You’re still here?”
looked at “Gooshie” as if he’d lost his mind.
“Gooshie, of course I’m still here.
Where else would I be? And
you know Sam’s already leapt. He’s
trying to make the leapee’s younger brother’s life better.
We already talked about that.
I want to get in there, pronto. I
have something to show Sam.”
noticed that Al had something in his hand.
He suddenly realized what was different about the situation.
He must be in the earlier days of PQL and he must have leapt into Dr.
Gushman. “What are you going
to show Sam?”
walked over to show Gooshie the picture.
“Well, the fact that he’s an older brother in this leap has got
him thinking about Tom. He’s
got his memory back and I thought he’d like to see a picture of the two of
them together. I got the picture
off the bookshelf in his office.” Al
looked at the picture. “He
sure was close to his brother.”
took the picture out of Al’s hand. It
was the picture his mother had taken of Sam and him on the day of his
. Seeing it brought back
memories of being with Sam. God
I miss Sam! He handed the
picture back to Al. “Okay, let
me get this fired up…” At
that moment he leapt.
he came to his senses, he found himself standing between two lines of
bookshelves. He was in a
library. But where?
through the breaks between the books he saw a man grab the shoulder of a
young, dark haired woman. She
turned and noticed he was holding a macramé purse.
She took it from him. Tom
couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.
.” The man was trying to start
a conversation, or continue one. “Look,
um, can we just start over again?” He
sounded contrite. “I’m sorry
about the bathroom…”
was obviously trying to end it by letting the guy down easy.
“Look…Knut, you and I are different.
We live in completely disparate worlds.”
latched on to a simile. “Sort
of like the Montague’s and Capulet’s?”
face indicated surprise that this man would say that.
“Exactly…all…all you care about is beer and partying and I’m
trying to change the world,” he finished for her.
“I know.” He paused
for a second and then continued, “…but do you think violence is the way
to do it?”
answered too quickly, as if she were
repeating something she’d learned by rote.
“It’s the only voice the bloated ruling class can understand.”
faced registered that he was amazed she would buy such a statement “Do you
really believe that? What Duck
says? I mean, don’t you see?
If you use violence, you are as morally corrupt as the people
you’re fighting against.”
replied passionately, “Sometimes you
have to fight fire with fire.”
again tried to reason with her by stating with certainty.
, violence is not going to stop this war.”
was obviously committed. “But
we’ve got to end it. Too many
people are dying.”
cajoled her to try another path. “Then
stop it by using something more powerful than violence.”
He said it with conviction. He
seemed to be getting through to her. Her
body language was engaged in the conversation, she was listening.
man joined them. He answered the
statement with derision. “Well,
I’m afraid God seems to be
sitting this one out.” He
learned against the bookshelves as if he knew he would win this argument.
Tom wondered if this might be the “Duck” that Knut had mentioned.
said softly, “I wouldn’t be too sure about that…los…”
Tom felt Knut was about to call the man a loser but stopped himself.
Yeap, this must be Duck.
Knut switched gears instead, “I know this is a cliché, but the pen
is mightier than the sword.” Tom
recalled Sam saying this to him on multiple occasions when events occurred
in the world which Sam felt could be handled in better ways.
As a Nobel Prize winning physicist, he knew that what he said would
be carried by the media, if only due to his status and the fact that many
people would figure that a man like Sam Beckett would know what he was
was angry. “The time for
rhetoric is over.”
continued his logical argument, pointing out how little Duck had actually
traveled down that path. “You
haven’t even begun yet. You
think 20 people at an outdoor rally is a big deal?”
A derisive chuckle. “You
need 20 thousand, 20 million…”
’s turn to doubt. “That’s
was adamant. “Not with the
pen…not with publicity…in any form.”
He was animated. “Newspapers,
magazines, pamphlets,” suddenly it was if he’d hit on the strongest one,
was truly incredulous, “Television?”
He let out a sharp breath as if she didn’t believe that someone
could be this naïve. Who would
put their cause on television?
enthusiasm was infectious. “Television
is going to play a big part in stopping this war.
Publicity is the key, not violence.”
seemed to hear what he had to say but suddenly decided to turn away from it.
“The only reason why you’re saying this to me is you want me to
go to some party with you. You
don’t care about the people over there!
You don’t care about how many soldiers are dying!”
She started to walk away from him.
grabbed her arm. There was
fervor in his voice. “I do
other man rushed in, grabbing Knut, trying to pull him away from her.
“Hey! Hey, let her
pulled his arm away and with an angry voice replied, “You stay out of
this!” He continued to try to
other man was not giving up, grabbing at Knut with more force, and answered
with anger of his own. “Back
away, man!” Suddenly Knut
turned on him and backed him into the bookshelf, causing books on the
uppermost shelves to fall upon them.
“Don’t!” she yelled. “Don’t!
man against the bookshelf was showing bravado as Knut grabbed at the sides
of his vest. Tom was sure that
Knut wanted to lay this guy out, but instead released him and walked away.
As he reached the end of the aisle, Knut turned suddenly, his face
showing that he was dealing with some deep internal pain.
“Look…I lost a brother in
.” His voice broke and was
raw. “All right?
So don’t tell me I don’t care!”
He turned again and started to walk off again.
yelled after him “Maybe you should have cared a little more about him,
before he went.”
stopped suddenly and a breath left him as if he’d been punched in the gut.
Tom couldn’t see his face but could tell he was trying to control
his emotions by the way he carried himself.
For a moment, although this man was much larger than his brother, the
way he was holding himself reminded him of Sam during times when his Little
Brother dealt with situations that threatened to overtake him emotionally.
had looked at the other man in horror
that he could say such a hurtful thing to someone in this much pain.
The man had looked at her and stormed off.
rushed up to Knut, softly saying to him, “Knut, I’m sorry.”
was obviously still embedded in a deeply troubling memory.
He turned to look at Duck, but the man was gone.
He looked away, a lost expression on his face.
continued, “I’m really sorry.”
was ready to pull away. He
softly answered her with a “Yeah” as if he really didn’t believe she
was doing anything more than placating him.
He started to walk away again, when she stopped him.
what are you supposed to wear to these luau things?”
at first just stared. But
suddenly a smile took possession of his face.
It held gratitude in its structure.
felt an electrical tug pull him away from this scene.
He was unsure what it all meant.
Again, the blue glow claimed Thomas Beckett as he was whisked away to
another time and place.
was going…to…kill you.”
realized he was standing waist deep in the familiar (if a 38-year-old memory
could be considered familiar) river water of
. He remembered hearing those
words before and saw Magic standing in front of him, the Vietnamese
guerilla, the chu-hoi, lying face down in the water, his own hand on her
neck, dead by Magic’s actions.
looked down, letting out a breath, two.
He was here again, reliving that horrible day when he’d almost
fulfilled his brother’s prophecy.
were flying all around them, shooting at the Vietnamese positions.
Magic had called in the
. How he knew they were there,
he wasn’t sure. The SEAL unit
ran for the chopper. Again Magic
seemed to know exactly where the booby traps were.
Suddenly, Magic turned back. A
hole filled in Tom’s Swiss-cheesed mind.
Tom saw Maggie Dawson was running towards them.
Magic screamed to her to stop but Maggie didn’t hear.
She tripped the wire and Tom suddenly remembered the result, he knew
what he’d see. Magic reached
her first, his voice cracking as he called out her name.
Maggie had just enough life left to hand the camera to Magic, her
voice a whisper. But her single
word was understood. “Pulitzer.”
was inconsolable on the flight back, holding the camera, almost like he was
holding a vigil over Maggie’s body. Tears
streamed down his face. Tom had
never seen Magic take someone’s death quite this hard.
Tom scooted close to Magic and put his arm around him, tears filling
his eyes as well. ‘God, I could have saved her if I’d just remembered in time.
Magic tried to save her. It’s
my guilt, not his’.
the Bartender’s strange words made sense.
“They were like ghosts to you the first time.
Now, you will be like that to them.”
He could now see why Magic had seemingly changed on that mission,
Operation Lazarus. It had seemed
like there was someone he was responding to that helped him to remember
things. Remember to say things
as simple as “Ay, Ay.” And
then, just as strangely, returned to the way he’d always been.
Tom had chalked that up to the affect of Maggie on Magic but now…
Now he knew.
he had touched Magic, he suddenly saw his brother beside him.
He realized that his brother had been correct during that weird leave
home the Thanksgiving right before he left for Vietnam
He remembered how his Little Brother had done everything possible to
keep Tom from going to Vietnam. Sam
had been telling the truth. Sam could
see the future, because he had lived
it. Tom hadn’t been talking to
the 16-year-old kid he thought his brother was then.
He had been talking to the 40-something man who had lived most of his
life without his big brother. Tom
knew for certain at that moment. Originally,
Magic hadn’t been there to save him.
He had died on April 8, 1970, just like Sam had tried to tell him.
looked at his brother now. Understanding
for the first time what had driven Sam to step into the Accelerator without
waiting for the retrieval program to be finished.
Sam couldn’t take the chance that he wouldn’t be allowed to
continue his work. He felt that
he had to trust that those he left behind would figure out how to get him
home. That leap had been, at
least in part, for this, to have more years with the brother he loved.
More tears came to Tom’s eyes.
He knew that to his brother sitting beside him, all his tears were
for Maggie. Tom knew better, but
couldn’t tell Sam.
night at the bar, Tom tried to console his inconsolable brother, knowing he
couldn’t let on that he knew Sam was there.
He saw Calavicci standing by, as always.
He was dressed in his Dress Whites.
How cliché could one get. He
ignored the man now, just as he always did.
“You didn’t kill her, Magic.”
He thought for a moment ‘I could have saved her, though, if I’d remembered in time.’
took a swig off of his fourth beer. That
one was almost finished too. He
knew Sam didn’t usually drink that much and his brother was certainly
feeling the effects. “She sure
as hell didn’t die the first time…” He took a short breath, but he
went on, “…April the 8th, 1970 rolled around.”
surprised him. He knew he would
have been killed, but he assumed that Maggie had died the first time too.
He asked, “What are you talking about?”
stopped for a second looking down.
that jerk Calavicci provided the explanation to Tom’s question.
“No,” Sam turned his head towards his Observer as he pointed at
Tom with his ever present cigar. “But
heard the self-loathing in Sam’s voice.
“Well there it is, isn’t it?”
He paused for just a second, and then stated, his voice cracking,
“I traded a life for a life.” Sam’s
eyes looked into the distance at something no one else from any time could
didn’t know what to say. Putting
his hand on Sam’s shoulder, he just needed to get away.
Not wanting to have Calavicci see him acting different from the Tom
of 1970, he smiled slightly and said, “You are one weird dude, Magic.”
It cut him to the quick to see his brother’s suffering so evident
on his face. He laughed weakly.
Sam finished the beer. Tom
heard Calavicci tell Sam, “I was the one who led you back to save your
brother. So if anyone’s
responsible, it’s me.” Tom
had to admit, it was nice of Al to try and take some of the guilt feelings
from his brother, even though he knew the truth.
Colonel walked into the bar carrying a manila envelope.
He handed it to Tom, who knew this time around what would be in it.
They were the pictures that showed Al Calavicci and another prisoner
being moved along by a couple of Vietnamese guards.
Tom opened them. Looking
at the pictures again he had the same reaction as the first time, “She was
one hell of a photographer.”
Colonel answered, “She was one hell of a woman.”
now working on his fifth beer chimed in, “And I killed her.”
Colonel chose to disagree. “No,
didn’t like the way this conversation was going.
“Oh, stop it, both of you.”
spoke up again. “What did she
say to you that time in the bunker?”
head was down. “She said
she’d sell her soul for a Pulitzer.”
As he said it, he faced Al again.
Colonel spoke again, a smile on his face.
“Not just her soul.”
he couldn’t let on, Tom stated, “Yeah, well, I wish she’d got it.”
stated flatly, “She did.”
looked up; an anguished yet puzzled look upon his face.
The news had obviously shocked Sam as he voiced an animated,
knew that Sam’s question was out of place.
He filled in quickly, “Pulitzer.
I wish she’d won the Pulitzer Prize.”
stated again “She did. For her last photograph.”
looked confused. He got up and
grabbed them away from Tom, looking at each one.
Suddenly he found a photo which he closely examined; recognizing what
Tom already knew was there. Al
Calavicci’s face. He’d been
one of the prisoners. The
picture had been plastered around the world.
Tom hadn’t known it was Calavicci at the time, but he would later.
He knew now.
Tom heard something from Al he never would have imagined.
As Sam looked at Al, realizing who would have been saved on that
mission, Al looked back at him, pain evident in his eyes.
Tom realized that Al had made a decision on that leap.
“What the hell, I get repatriated in five years.”
recalled reading the log of the leap when Sam had cut those five years down
to two. Still…the man in front
of him was choosing another five years of hell at this point in time.
Who would do that? From
what Tom had heard from other POW’s, it was truly hell on earth.
No matter what the rumors were at the Pentagon, this man was never a
voice was a whisper. He too knew
what Al had done for him, giving him back his brother.
“You could have been free.”
told Sam, “I was free.” Sam
just continued to stare at him. Al
continued, pointing to his head “Up here, I was always free.”
Sam was still stunned.
remembered that night. At
midnight, he’d announced that he was alive.
He thought it more of a joke back then.
A way to say that his brother’s shenanigans back in November were
just simply ridiculous. Now he
knew better. But he had to keep
up the act. Looking at his watch
he stated, “Hey, hey it’s midnight.
It’s April the ninth and I’m still alive.”
Then Tom put his hand on Sam’s shoulder, smiling broadly at him,
“Thanks to you, Little Brother.”
looked at him in amazement but then a second later, Tom realized that he had
his hand on Magic’s shoulder and was looking into rather severely confused
eyes. Sam had leapt.
He was about to say something but then felt the tingly feeling that
accompanied leaping and he too, was gone.