Episode 1015

To Say Goodbye

by: A. J. Burfield  & K. L. Cole

printer friendly version



He leapt into the unknown for what felt like the millionth time. He’d given up trying to keep count long ago. Way back in his first year of leaping; he wasn’t even sure how many years he’d been at it now – too many was the only thing he was certain of. But he doubted that this leap would be the leap home that he was longing for, so he took a deep breath, the first in this form, and faced what was to come.




It was a woman's voice and it made Sam blink. That voice. . . he looked at her closely, and his heart melted.




 The recognition exploded in his head but the word, though formed, did not make it out through his dry throat and mouth.


Dr. Sam Beckett’s mother stood before him, looking exactly the same as she had the last time he’d seen her in the flesh.


His mother. He was home. He took a step toward her.


“He’s in New Mexico,” his mother continued. “He’s working on a top secret research project. It’s difficult for him to get away, but he will come if he can.”


Sam blinked, his forward motion stalled. His mother was talking about him, not to him and the realization struck like a bolt of lightning - he was home, but not as himself! Fighting the urge to sit down where he was and sob with frustration Sam bit his lip to keep his burning eyes from overflowing. Finally, the only words he could speak without choking came out in a dry choke.


“Oh, boy.”



December 1, 1974


Thelma Beckett looked at him sharply, the worry in her eyes momentarily refocused. “Did you say something, Doctor?”


Sam struggled to pull himself together. One of the things his Swiss-cheesed memory allowed him to remember all too clearly was his mother's ability to read her children. And he was still that - even wearing someone else's body, Sam was Thelma Beckett's youngest boy.


"No, ma'am," he said, drawing from an inner reserve and squaring his shoulders. It was tough to resist the urge to pull her into his arms and hug her for all the wasted years.


"So, when can I take my husband home?" she asked, staring him straight in the eyes.


The effect of her gaze was startling, and Sam froze like a rabbit caught in headlights. Then the meaning of her question struck home. Dad was here - where?

And more importantly, when? But the most important implication was his father was still alive!


His mother looked at him strangely for the second time and Sam realized he was once again gaping at her open-mouthed. She must think I'm a complete idiot, he chastised himself. He clamped his jaws shut and hedged a response. "Er, it's too early for me to tell.” Then he managed to abort a huge sigh of relief when he heard the Imaging Chamber door open somewhere behind him. He smiled politely, hoping his inner turmoil didn’t show in his eyes. "Um, if you'll excuse me, I have another patient to see." Sam carefully modulated his voice to not betray his actual feelings.


There was none of the usual signs of levity in the Observer’s attitude. "There's a bathroom at the end of the hallway," Al said solemnly. Sam followed the hologram into the restroom, using the door rather than walking through the wall as Al did. There was another occupant in the restroom, so Sam nervously washed his hands until the man left.


As soon as the door closed, he turned to face Al, the distress clear in his eyes. “Al,” he choked. “What the hell is going on?”


"Your name is David Trafford and you're a junior doctor in . . .” Sam’s best friend hesitated and made a point of meeting his eyes. “I don't need to tell you where you are, do I?" Al’s voice was soft and full of compassion.


Sam shook his head slowly. “No, not this time.” The scientist swallowed hard and his voice trembled when he spoke again. "When, Al?"


The hologram’s face was a picture of strength mixed with sorrow. He knew that deep inside, Sam knew exactly when this was. After a moment, he confirmed the feeling. "July, 1974."


"Which is when. . . " his voice caught. “That's when dad . . ." Sam's voice trailed off.


The Observer nodded grimly. "Your father dies just before dawn tomorrow, Sam. Ziggy can't find anything wrong in David's life, or anyone around him. She thinks, uh, she thinks you've been brought here to say goodbye to your father."


Sam stared at his friend without seeing him, a weird surreal feeling sinking into his gut like a ball of eels. All too many times he'd been called on to take care of others, and rarely did his actions deal with things close to him. Suddenly, it was very, very personal, and a little part of him was amazed how he'd been caught so flat-footed. Isn't this what he always wanted?


"You haven't got a lot of time," Al prompted and Sam jerked before he looked to his friend again. "What's the matter, Sam? You're wasting what little time is left."


"I-I-I'm scared, Al," Sam admitted softly, feeling completely foolish and unprepared. "What do I say to him?"


"Just tell him that you have a message from his son who can't get here himself, and that his son loves him very much. I don't know what you should say, but I know that if you don't tell him something you'll regret it for the next twenty years. You've been given a second chance. You, of all people, know how rare those are." Al held Sam's stare, clearly seeing the misery in his friend. "He won't see you, Sam, he'll see David's aura," he said lowly. "Now go, while there's still time."


"You're right," Sam nodded. "I just wish I could tell him it's me." When he turned to go, he thought, To be this close, and yet so far away! How does that old saying go? Be careful what you wish for?


Al watched his best friend walk out of the bathroom, his head hanging, hoping that this little time with his father would erase at least some of the guilt he knew Sam had felt in the years between John's here and Al's now.




John Beckett's room was shaded, the blinds fully down. The sick man lay on the bed connected to various machines, his breathing shallow and irregular. Sam paused in the doorway and took in the scene. As hard as he tried, he couldn't keep the clinical distance he'd been trained to have as a doctor; this was simply too close to his heart. He swallowed hard then forced his feet to take him inside the room.


Sam snatched the medical chart at the foot of the bed as an excuse to delay the inevitable. As he flicked through the pages the dry, medical jargon made it clear in his own mind how hopeless the situation was. There was nothing he could do but wait until the inevitable end.


The figure in the bed didn't stir when Sam replaced the board. After an eternity of trying to make his legs obey him, Sam finally approached the bed and looked down at the man that was his beloved father with a heavy heart.


He looks so old and frail; not the strong, hearty man who had always been the head of the Beckett family, Sam thought as he tried to swallow a knot the size of a softball.


What Sam had read spelt out in black and white what he already knew: His father had had a serious heart attack leaving him very weakened. Another attack of the same severity would kill him, and in a few short hours John would have that second attack. John Beckett had less than a day of living left to him.


For a second, Sam wondered if he was doing the right thing. Did he want the memory of his father weak like this to supplant the memories of him, strong and healthy? He glanced at the displays on the various machine then back at his father and was shocked to see eyes staring at him.


John's eyes were watery with pain and medication, but firmly focused on the man by his bed. Sam's mouth went dry as he automatically formed the word 'Dad', and then swallowed it before it could escape.


John frowned then his face crinkled slowly into a smile. His voice was low and hoarse but quite clear. "Sam!"


Sam startled and grabbed the bedrail to keep his feet. Was it possible? Did he say . . .


"Sam, my boy!" His father said clearly. "What are you doing here?"


That's when Sam allowed himself one word from his tightly closed throat. "Dad."


"Sam. Son. It's good to see you again," John mumbled. He tried to raise his hand, but the trembling and the tubes made it an impossible venture. "But you look strange. I can't seem to focus my eyes - it's like look like two people. Must be the damn drugs."


"Try to rest, dad." Sam took his father's hand from under the tangle of tubes and held it firmly. "I won't stay long enough to tire you."


"You look older." John frowned again. "You have grey."


"Yeah," Sam laughed shortly, the sort of laugh that went along with immense sadness. "I know. Makes me look distinguished, right?"


That brought a smile to his father's lips. "Then I've been distinguished for a long time."


They shared a short laugh, then, behind Sam the Imaging Chamber door whooshed open and Al coughed discreetly. John turned his head to the sound and his eyes widened at the sight of the new visitor.


Sam followed his gaze and realized that John could see the hologram, who, by his normal standards, was under-dressed in a royal blue suit, burnt orange shirt and turquoise tie.


"Who?" John started.


Al froze on the spot. "Uh, you can see me, Mr. Beckett?"


John nodded shortly. “Who couldn't?"


"And me," Sam added softly.


"Damn!" Al swore lightly. He slapped the side of the hand link. "Must have something to do with the genes. Ziggy, why didn’t you warn us?"


Sam suddenly remembered the manners his father had drummed into him for all those years and did the introduction he had never thought possible.


"Dad, this is my best friend, Admiral Albert Calavicci. Al, my dad, John Beckett."


Al ceased his wrestling with the link and stood at attention. "It's an honor, sir. I'd shake your hand if it were possible."


"Admiral?" John was bemused by now.


"Retired," Sam and Al said in unison. Then Al’s attention was forced back to the link when it squealed for attention.


Al spoke lowly, for Sam’s ears only. "Ziggy hasn’t found anything more about your leap here, Sam. Her original assessment still stands."


"So I can tell dad everything?" If this were true, Sam felt like he’d been given the best of gifts.


Both Al and the hand link sputtered together. “You know Ziggy always thinks that’s a bad idea, Sam, but personally, I don’t see the harm.” The link erupted in lights in addition to the squeals, and the Observer grumbled as he slapped the item. “Good thing this ain’t the new version. I’d be gettin’ dirty looks, too.” He turned his attention back to Sam. "I'll leave you alone for awhile." Then he turned to Sam’s father. “I'll be back later, Mr. Beckett." The door slid open and Al stepped from the room.


"Where’d he go?" John said, his voice indicating that he was growing tired.


"Ah, well, Dad, I have something to tell you that will sound incredible, but it's all true." Sam took a bracing breath. "I look older because . . ."


His father turned from the vanishing point and met his son’s eyes as he interrupted him quietly. "Because you are older. You found your way to travel in time."


Sam looked at him in shock. "How did you know?"


"How could I not know?" John smiled, his eyes growing heavy. "Sam, you're my son, I love you and Tom and Katie so much. Sometimes I've thought I'd burst with it. I've always known exactly what my children wanted out of life. Tom, to serve his country; Katie, to have a family of her own; and you, my genius son, the quantum physicist who wanted to invent time travel. I knew if anyone could do it, it would be you."


Sam smiled at the confidence his father carried for them all and was choked up with emotion. He leaned over the bedrail, eyes threatening to overflow, and began to talk. "It's called leaping, dad. It's not going exactly like I planned – Al says it’s gone ca-ca; not quite a scientific term, but this whole thing has taken an unscientific turn.” Sam could see his father was listening intently and managing to keep his weariness at bay. “I started the process, but something or someone has kind of taken it over.”


Sam paused, wondering how much to reveal. “I was supposed to observe the past, Dad, not interact or interfere with it. Something quite – remarkable – happened instead.”


John’s smile was weak but very genuine. “Son, everything you do is remarkable. Don’t you know that?”


Sam took the comment as a man’s pride in his son. “Thanks, Dad.”


Instead, John’s grip tightened on his son’s hand, and a furrow of concentration appeared on his forehead. “No, that’s not what I mean, Sam. I mean everything we do – you, me, your mother, the orderlies here – everything everyone does is remarkable because the Lord makes it so. God and our free will. Don’t you see that?”


“Well, yes, I do.” Sam stuttered. “Now I do, at least. Dad, nothing went like I thought it would. Instead, I leap into people and I don’t leap out until I fix something what went wrong in their past. It’s like fate, or time, or . . . God . . . has taken over.”


"Have you helped people?" John asked, but didn’t seem surprised.


"Yes, dad, I've helped a lot of people. But . . .” Sam felt his throat constrict again. “But I can’t seem to help myself. I can’t get home.”


John Beckett held his son’s hand firmly. "Sam, I understand. I'm proud of you, son. I always have been. I believe God is showing you your purpose. But you have to remember about free will, Sam. That’s a gift from Him, too."


John’s grip faded and he sank back into the pillows with a soft sigh, clearly exhausted. His eyes slipped shut and Sam gripped the bedrail to keep his hands from shaking. “I’ll check on you later, dad. Get some rest.”


Sam had just gotten his breathing and tearing eyes under control when he heard the soft swoosh of the room door open.


“Oh, doctor David! I didn’t expect to see you here.” Thelma Beckett paused in the doorway, unsure.


“Come in, please.” Sam stepped back from the bed and ducked his head to avoid her eyes. He found that to be quite unnerving, like he was keeping a secret from her, and he knew she could always tell when he did that.


Thelma moved next to the bed and gently ran her fingers through the slumbering John’s hair. Her smile was tentative. Sam noticed the shadows under her eyes and cheekbones were more prominent than before.


“Our son and daughter are on their way to help me get him home.” She raised her head and met the doctor’s straight on. “I can take him home, can’t I?”


The realization that no one had told her about the severity of John’s condition struck Sam hard in the soul. He felt his mouth gape open for a moment as he desperately tried to decide what to do. “Um, when will your children get here?” he asked. You’ll need support when I tell you the truth, he thought, frustrated he couldn’t do that instead.


“Let’s see, Tom should be here in a couple of hours. He’s flying in from San Diego. I told him he didn’t have to come but he insisted. I left Katie at a friend's house. They'll bring her. Sam – I don’t know when Sam will be here. I had to leave a message for him.”


And I got that message, but it was too late. Sam swallowed hard, remembering how he’d felt when he read the note. He’d gotten it at the same time he’d been told that John Beckett had died. He still had that note in his wallet, tucked away somewhere at the Project. Sam was brought from his reverie when he felt his mother's expectant eyes on him.


"I don't mean to push, doctor, but I know a stalling technique when I hear one." Thelma tried to smile, but worry overrode the effort. "Will I be able to take John home?"


"Ah, let's just wait until your family gets here and see at that time. He's not really stable right now; I can't give you a prognosis yet." The lie felt like dirt on Sam's tongue, and he averted his eyes to look at his watch as he spoke, certain she would see the lie in his eyes. "I have to go." Abruptly, he turned and walked away so she wouldn't see how he was fighting tears.


Sam quickly walked down the hall trying to put distance between himself and this situation. The added factors of Tom and Katie were going to make this whole leap so much tougher on him. Sam had always felt that Tom held a bit of animosity toward him for not being there when their father died or for the funeral. Sam couldn't really blame him, and that hurt even more.


He ducked into a nearby room, relieved to find it dark and quiet. The wall made a handy leaning post, and Sam took full advantage as he pinched the bridge of his nose to stave of the beginnings of an emotion-induced headache.


"How can I get through this?" he said lowly.


Sam nearly jumped out of his skin when a small voice somewhere in the darkness said, "What are you doing in my cornfield, young man?"




Squinting in the poor light while waiting for his night vision to kick in, Sam finally made out a form sitting up in the lone hospital bed. The first thing he noticed was the lack of hospital accoutrements in the room, and the nice antique lamp in one corner that had a warm, glowing night light bulb.


“Excuse me?” Sam stammered, taking a tentative step to the bed to see who warranted such cozy treatment.


“It’s the middle of the night and you’re in my room.” It wasn’t an accusing tone, but a cheery one. The timbre of the voice indicated an old woman.


“It’s only seven o’clock, ma’am.” Sam said as he searched to find a face for the voice.


“Well, it’s the middle of then night if you go to bed at five,” the old woman reasoned. “’Ain’t no reason to stay up after the sun goes down.”


Sam brightened when he finally located the source of the voice. “I know you! You’re Sarah Lambert’s great grandma. Mrs. Lawrence, isn’t it?”


“Why, yes, that’s me.” The woman squinted in the darkness at the man that was now standing next to her bed. “And you’re that young man who went to college when you were 10.”


Sam felt himself blush. “N-not exactly. 16. I went at 16. Wait,” something suddenly dawned on him. “You can see me?”


“Why certainly I can see you, child. I’m old, not blind.”


Sam shook his head, “No, that’s not what I meant.” The curious juxtaposition of this calm oasis in the middle of both a busy hospital and Sam’s mental torment jarred his focus momentarily away from the real world outside the room’s door. “Never mind. What are you doing here, Mrs. Lawrence?  Don’t you live on the Lambert’s farm anymore?”


“Oh, yes, I do but we all need our space now and again, don’t you think?” She adjusted her colorful quilt. “And the fact that my son in law is the head administrator here gives me a little latitude.” She winked and snuggled into her lacy pillows.


Sam had to smile. This woman had to be over 90. Though wizened and frail looking, her voice was still remarkably strong. “So why did you say I was in your cornfield?”


Mrs. Lawrence’s grin was a bright spot in the darkness. “We say that on the farm. Family tradition, I suppose.”


Sam laughed having been in his share of cornfields and knowing some of the things he’d come across hidden in the tall stalks. It was a curious, yet charming and accurate inquiry.


The old woman continued.  “You and Sarah went to high school together.”


“Yes,” Sam replied softly. He could feel the aged eyes studying him.


“You look much older than Sarah. You look just like your father. Did you know that?”


Sam’s heart stuttered at the comment. “I . . . I’ve heard that before,” he replied softly, dodging the issue of his age.


“Your father and my son went to school together, you know.”


Sam smiled. “Dad was born in the next county over. Never really left, did he?”


“Nothing wrong with that.” Mrs. Lawrence’s eyes sparkled. “Neither did I.”


Sam’s laugh was short and filled with sadness. “Some people just can’t say goodbye, can they?”


“Everybody can say goodbye. They just haven’t had practice, that’s all.” The woman’s voice was suddenly calm and filled with gentleness. “Saying goodbye should come from the heart, not the head. There are too many distractions in one’s head, don’t you think? Then you forget why you’re saying goodbye.”


Mrs. Lawrence’s words hit Sam like a douse of cold water, and he felt his expression change to one of suspicious curiosity. Did she know how relevant her words were? It was like she was . . .


“Reading your mind?” the woman offered softly with a mischievous sparkle to her eyes.


The astonished leaper felt his own eyes grow wide. “How did you . . .” he started, but didn’t quite know how to finish.


A frail, paper-skinned hand gently patted Sam’s, which tightly gripped the rail of the woman’s bed. Her hand felt warm and amazingly soft. Her voice was nearly a whisper. “It’s a gift I’ve always had, young man.”


“T – t – to read minds?”


Mrs. Lawrence looked thoughtful. “That’s not exactly right; it’s more like reading hearts. I’ve learned to simply accept the gift and not take advantage.  God works in mysterious ways, you know.” Her smile came back as she met his eyes, and the mischievous spark reappeared. “But I guess you know that first hand, don’t you Sam Beckett?”


Sam was speechless. He felt his mouth open and close wordlessly, and he automatically glanced around the room for a slightly rotund man with a moustache he knew as ‘Al the bartender’. The old woman’s knowing voice brought him back to the leap at hand.


“Young man, don’t be afraid. Don’t be guilty. You’ve been given a gift, just like I have. Use it. Tell you father those things you wanted to say. He wants to hear it, believe me.”


Chewing his lower lip in worry, Sam felt his eyes burn as he fought to control any quavering in his voice. “I really don’t know what to say.”


“Yes you do. Listen to your heart. You just have too much up here,” she tapped her head, “and it’s getting in the way. Ignore the distractions. Get it said.” Pulling the quilt to her chin, Mrs. Lawrence’s eyelids began to droop and she settled deeper into her mattress. “Now let an old woman sleep and dream of her younger days!”


The smile that touched her lips stayed there as she fell asleep. Sam looked down at her for a few moments, wondering if the whole exchange he’d just had was his own dream. Finally, he turned and quietly left the room.


It seemed like he’d just awakened from his own dream when Sam stepped into the bustling hallway. Elk Ridge was a small town, but the hospital was the only one for miles and always had been busy. At this moment, even with the knowledge he had to face his worried mother and siblings, he didn’t want to be anywhere else.


He was here to say goodbye, and he would get it done no matter how much it hurt.



Sam managed Dr. Trafford’s other patients with skill and ease. It was approaching midnight when the leaper realized that the pace of the hospital had slowed considerably and things settled down. He has five hours left, Sam thought as he glanced at the clock and remembered the original timeline. Instantly his palms felt sticky with sweat. John Beckett was the only patient he had now. Tom and Katie must be here now.


With a fortifying gulp, Sam lifted his chin and headed to the cardiac unit. There, he found his father resting comfortably, the room lights dimmed. He stood by the bed and studied his father’s face, looking for the similarities to his own he knew were there. Is this what I’ll look like? Sam wondered. And most importantly, is this what I’ll be like? Will I be as influential to some one as he was to me?


“You have no idea what you’ve given me, Dad. The strength to do the right thing, the conviction to follow through, the drive to make the world a better place – I got it all from you. And I want to thank you for that.” Sam’s voice was low, but very clear in the relative silence of the room. The mechanical devices were turned down and regaled to background noise.


“I know I haven’t been around much, and I do regret that, Dad.  I just want you to know how much I love you, and how much you've shaped my life. I aspire every day to be the son you deserve."


John Beckett stirred under the thin blanket and his eyes wandered open and immediately found those of his son’s.


“Sam.” His voice was so soft Sam had to bend slightly to hear.


“I’m here, dad.”


Sam saw his father’s hand searching, and he gently took the big, working man’s hand into his own. The memory of that same hand holding his as a child brought a new burn to his eyes.


John smiled tiredly. “I haven’t held your hand since you were six,” he said softly.


Sam chuckled. “Yeah, since you made it clear I wasn’t to cross Main Street without you.”


“It only took one slap on your bottom for you to remember. Tom took a little more convincing.” The memory made a smile come to the sick man’s face.

“Thanks for that, dad.” Sam said, smiling through the tears threatening to overrun his eyes.


“For spanking you?” John chuckled.


“No, for teaching me.”


“Sam, you are the best son a man could have. Don’t think for a moment that you are nothing less.”


The leaper ducked his head, and he placed his other hand over the two of theirs. “You heard me?”


“Every word. You are doing what you’re destined to do, son. It makes me proud.”


“I . . . I wasn’t around the first time, you know.” Sam could barely hear his own voice as he spoke. “I’ve always regretted it. And now that I’m here, I thought I didn’t know what to say. But I do now. I just wanted to thank you and tell you how much I love you.”


John’s smile was weak, his eyes foggy. “That’s really all that needs to be said, don’t you think?”


Suddenly bone weary, Sam smiled. “Yeah.”


“Are you married, son?”




“Will there be another generation of Becketts to learn these life lessons?”


Yet again, Sam found his mouth hanging wordlessly open. “I . . . uh. . . “


The swoosh of the opening room door saved Sam from replying to a question he didn’t know the answer to. The question was jarred from his mind when he saw the outline of his big brother in the doorway.





"Dad!"  The well muscled young man stepped up to Sam with a curious glance at the doctor holding his father's hand.


Tom' voice made a thrill of excitement race up Sam's spine and he fought back any response that threatened to come forth. His brother looked so healthy and in control; exactly like Sam remembered him. Finally he noticed the odd glances at his hands, and Sam released his father. Tom quickly took up the released hand and moved in between the bed and Sam.


"Hey, Dad, I got here as fast as I could," Tom's voice was soft. He turned his attention to John's face after a glance at the doctor. "I'll talk to you in a minute, Doctor."


Dismissed, Sam stepped back. "Sh.  . .sure," he said lowly, turning to the door. When he pushed it open and stepped into the hall, he immediately saw his mother embracing a young girl Sam knew was Katie. He swallowed hard at the lump growing in his throat.


They were together again. All of them.


A certain kind of warmth flowed through Sam's body as he watched the two women. He could tell by the movement in his sister's shoulders that she was crying, and he mentally ordered his feet not to move. The drive to embrace both of them was overwhelming.


Sam remembered his words to his mother, and he knew he couldn't delay the inevitable. They would be told the truth of their father's condition and given the same chance to say goodbye that Sam had been given.


The Observer's arrival seemed timely to the beleaguered leaper, as if another part of the family had arrived. He turned and faced Al, who stood nervously as if wondering what kind of reception he was going to get.


"Sam?" He finally asked, looking past the doctor's aura to the two clinging women in the hall. "You all right?"


"Yeah." Strangely, it was true. He'd said what he'd wanted to say, right from the heart and now felt somewhat at peace. "I'm going to tell them now that everyone's here, Al."


"Tell them what, exactly?" An expression of suspicion fell over the hologram's features. He didn't like it when his sometimes unpredictable friend said things like that without explanation. Al fingered the unlit cigar in his hand nervously.


And the sometimes unpredictable friend understood and laughed lightly. Sam indicated they move down the hall away from Katie and Thelma. "My family wasn't told that my dad's condition was untreatable, did they? I mean, they were surprised when he had the second attack and died, weren't they? My mom was asking to take dad home earlier; she must have no idea."


Relief changed Al's expression instantaneously. He popped the cigar in his mouth and spoke around it as his fingers danced on the keys. "I think you're right on that point, Sam. There's nothing in the original notes about anyone speaking with the family." The Observer glanced at Sam, his eyes sad. "I remember you saying your mom was pretty devastated."


"Yes, she was." Sam's voice was soft. They paused by a window and Sam looked out over the darkness that covered the small town of Elk Ridge. "It was one of the reasons I threw myself into the Project, Al. I wanted to see what happened since I missed. . . "


"Well, you've made up for it now, buddy."  Sympathy carried the holograms voice.


"I'm here to help them say goodbye, Al. Not just me."


Al raised an eyebrow and considered the link after a few taps. "Ziggy gives that a 98.9% probability. You figured that out in the past hour?"


Sam smiled sagely. "I had a little help."


The sound of John's room door being pushed open with a little more force than needed caught their attention. The two of them watched as Tom stalked over to his mother and sister, his arms jerking in an angry manner.


"I knew Tom was pretty ticked about you not being here the first time, Sam."


Sam frowned as he watched the trio. Thelma was doing her best to calm her son. "Yeah, but I don't think that's what this is about." Without another word he started down the hall to the group.


Thelma glanced in his direction, and then back to Tom, who then whirled around to face the doctor approaching them.


"He says you're my brother! How come you're letting him believe that? That doesn't sound very ethical to me!" Tom's eyes burned with anger that Sam knew really wasn't aimed at Dr. Trafford. The older Beckett brother was really angry at the whole situation.


"I understand why you are upset," Sam started. "But can we talk first?"


Gently and carefully, Sam placed his arm around his mother's shoulders and guided them to a quiet room where he could tell them the truth in quiet.


Al chewed on the cigar and watched them move away, a pang of jealousy making his heart skip a beat. The Becketts were a remarkable family, and he often wondered what his life would have been like with a family like that.


After rocking on his heels in thought for a few long moments, Al found himself wandering into John's room by passing through the wall. He hadn't even given the door a first thought. When he reached the foot of the sickbed, he saw a pair of amused eyes regarding him.


John was obviously tired and pumped with drugs, but he held the holograms' look without blinking.


"That's quite a boy you have there, Mr. Beckett," Al said lowly.


"I know." John managed a weak smile. "Sam?" he asked.


"Outside," Al supplied.


"Get him home, Admiral," John said, his voice whispery and weak.


"It's Al to my friends," Al corrected softly. "And I will, Mr. Beckett. I will do everything in my power."


When John smiled, his eyes drooped tiredly. "Wife?" he mumbled. "Kids?"


It was Al's turn to smile. "Her name is Donna. She's waiting back at the Project for Sam to come home. They love each other very much and they have an amazing son named Stephen Thomas Beckett. He's eight in my time."

The sparkle in John's eyes was clear even through the drug induced grogginess. "So I’m a grandpa."


"Yes, you are. And the kid is smarter than Sam. Guess there's a certain kind of revenge in that, huh?" The two men shared a chuckle at Sam's expense. "It was nice to meet you, sir. I want to thank you for giving me the best friend I ever had."


"Call me John, Al, and you're welcome. He's a remarkable man, and I'm proud of him and his friends." John was losing the battle to keep his eyes open and Al took the cue to make his exit.


"Good bye, John."


Soft breathing was all the response he got. Al hesitated a moment, then straightened and snapped off a quick salute - one reserved only for those people he truly respected. Then he turned on his heel and left the room.


At this time of night, the Elk Ridge hospital was rather quiet. The hall lights were dimmed and the only foot traffic was the nurses quietly running their rounds. It was quiet efficiency in action.


The Observer finally found the Becketts in a small conference room not far from the elder Beckett's room. Al stood in the background to supply moral support. Katie was sniffling and wringing her hands, Tom's jaw muscles were tightening and relaxing at a regular rhythm, and Thelma sat quietly with a blank expression Al recognized as exhaustion and shock.


Al couldn't hear exactly what Sam was saying, but the tone and cadence of his speech did the trick to calm the family. The hologram watched his friend's face closely. Sam's handling this very well, he noted. He's found some sort of peace.


It was a long while before they were ready to leave the room. Questions had been asked and answered, Tom had paced in anger, Thelma had cried a little, and Katie had watched the quiet of Elk Ridge through the small window for awhile. Sam left them to their own for a bit, and when he returned it was close to three in the morning.


"Come," he said. "Time to see your father and husband." They filed from the room in a resigned sort of peace.


When they entered the hospital room, John's complexion looked pastier than before. Sam arranged the family around the bed, moving monitors and equipment to make room. It wasn't long before John Beckett's eyes fluttered open and the heart monitor spiked dangerously.


The rhythm soon settled, and Sam stood back and allowed the family to talk. A nurse burst into the room and frowned hugely at the gathering. She began a tirade about visiting hours, but Sam superceded her and sent her packing with a huff.


The Beckett's last hours together would be uninterrupted. Sam would see to that.


It was a little before five when John started showing some difficulties with breathing. Thelma could tell that Katie was becoming stressed, so she whispered something to Tom and backed off.


Tom and Katie had their chance to say goodbye and get a loving smile in return before the older brother escorted his little sister out. Thelma moved to her husband's side and took his hand.


Sam knew his exit cue when he saw it.


"Goodbye, dad," he whispered through threatening tears. When he got to the door, he turned and looked back at the man that was his father.


John Beckett met his eyes, smiled, and gave him a nod.


Tears welled up in Sam's eyes. He bowed his head and slipped from the room.

Al was waiting for him in the hallway.


"You okay, kid?"


Sam nodded. "I can't watch him die, Al. I've said my goodbyes."


Al nodded. "You've done what you needed to, for both of you and your family. I think you've done your job here." He watched Sam walk slowly down the hall, away from his brother and sister who were hugging each other tightly.


Sam paused at another door, and Al heard him whisper, "Off to other cornfields, Mrs. Lawrence." The hologram frowned, wondering what that could possibly mean.



The moon was bright behind a bank of clouds, making a glowing spot in the predawn sky that drew Sam's eye. The icy coldness made his breath feathery clouds as a fine mist of rain dampened his upturned face. Suddenly, his heart clenched.


At that moment, Sam knew it was over.


The drops mixed with the warm tears that ran down his face. An unknown force made him look up at the hospital windows, framed a muted gold against the dreariness. "Good bye, dad," he whispered, the cloudy breath carrying his words away. "And thank you."

Email the Authors