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.
was a woman's voice and it made Sam blink. That voice. . . he looked at
her closely, and his heart melted.
recognition exploded in his head but the word, though formed, did not make
it out through his dry throat and mouth.
Sam Beckett’s mother stood before him, looking exactly the same as she
had the last time he’d seen her in the flesh.
mother. He was home. He took a step toward her.
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.”
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.
Beckett looked at him sharply, the worry in her eyes momentarily
refocused. “Did you say something, Doctor?”
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.
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.
when can I take my husband home?" she asked, staring him straight in
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?
more importantly, when? But the
most important implication was his father was still alive!
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.
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.
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?”
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
shook his head slowly. “No, not this time.” The scientist swallowed
hard and his voice trembled when he spoke again. "When, Al?"
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."
is when. . . " his voice caught. “That's when dad . . ." Sam's
voice trailed off.
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
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
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."
scared, Al," Sam admitted softly, feeling completely foolish and
unprepared. "What do I say to him?"
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."
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
frowned then his face crinkled slowly into a smile. His voice was low and
hoarse but quite clear. "Sam!"
startled and grabbed the bedrail to keep his feet. Was it possible? Did he say .
my boy!" His father said clearly. "What are you doing
when Sam allowed himself one word from his tightly closed throat.
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."
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
look older." John frowned again. "You have grey."
Sam laughed shortly, the sort of laugh that went along with immense
sadness. "I know. Makes me look distinguished, right?"
brought a smile to his father's lips. "Then I've been distinguished
for a long time."
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.
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.
froze on the spot. "Uh, you can see me, Mr. Beckett?"
nodded shortly. “Who couldn't?"
me," Sam added softly.
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?"
suddenly remembered the manners his father had drummed into him for all
those years and did the introduction he had never thought possible.
this is my best friend, Admiral Albert Calavicci. Al, my dad, John
ceased his wrestling with the link and stood at attention. "It's an
honor, sir. I'd shake your hand if it were possible."
John was bemused by now.
Sam and Al said in unison. Then Al’s attention was forced back to the
link when it squealed for attention.
spoke lowly, for Sam’s ears only. "Ziggy hasn’t found anything
more about your leap here, Sam. Her original assessment still
I can tell dad everything?" If this were true, Sam felt like he’d
been given the best of gifts.
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.
he go?" John said, his voice indicating that he was growing tired.
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
. . ."
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."
looked at him in shock. "How did you know?"
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."
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
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.”
smile was weak but very genuine. “Son, everything you do is remarkable.
Don’t you know that?”
took the comment as a man’s pride in his son. “Thanks, Dad.”
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?”
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
you helped people?" John asked, but didn’t seem surprised.
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
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."
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.”
had just gotten his breathing and tearing eyes under control when he heard
the soft swoosh of the room door open.
doctor David! I didn’t expect to see you here.” Thelma Beckett paused
in the doorway, unsure.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.”
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
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?"
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.
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.
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
can I get through this?" he said lowly.
nearly jumped out of his skin when a small voice somewhere in the darkness
said, "What are you doing in my cornfield, young man?"
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
me?” Sam stammered, taking a tentative step to the bed to see who
warranted such cozy treatment.
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
only seven o’clock, ma’am.” Sam said as he searched to find a face
for the voice.
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.”
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?”
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.”
felt himself blush. “N-not exactly. 16. I went at 16. Wait,” something
suddenly dawned on him. “You can see me?”
certainly I can see you, child. I’m old, not blind.”
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?”
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.
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?”
Lawrence’s grin was a bright spot in the darkness. “We say that on the
farm. Family tradition, I suppose.”
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.
old woman continued. “You
and Sarah went to high school together.”
Sam replied softly. He could feel the aged eyes studying him.
look much older than Sarah. You look just like your father. Did you know
heart stuttered at the comment. “I . . . I’ve heard that before,” he
replied softly, dodging the issue of his age.
father and my son went to school together, you know.”
smiled. “Dad was born in the next county over. Never really left, did
wrong with that.” Mrs. Lawrence’s eyes sparkled. “Neither did I.”
laugh was short and filled with sadness. “Some people just can’t say
goodbye, can they?”
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.”
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 . . .
your mind?” the woman offered softly with a mischievous sparkle to her
astonished leaper felt his own eyes grow wide. “How did you . . .” he
started, but didn’t quite know how to finish.
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
– t – to read minds?”
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?”
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.
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.
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.
was here to say goodbye, and he would get it done no matter how much it
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.
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?
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
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."
Beckett stirred under the thin blanket and his eyes wandered open and
immediately found those of his son’s.
His voice was so soft Sam had to bend slightly to hear.
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.
smiled tiredly. “I haven’t held your hand since you were six,” he
chuckled. “Yeah, since you made it clear I wasn’t to cross Main Street
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.
for that, dad.” Sam said, smiling through the tears threatening to
overrun his eyes.
spanking you?” John chuckled.
for teaching me.”
you are the best son a man could have. Don’t think for a moment that you
are nothing less.”
leaper ducked his head, and he placed his other hand over the two of
theirs. “You heard me?”
word. You are doing what you’re destined to do, son. It makes me
. . . 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.”
smile was weak, his eyes foggy. “That’s really all that needs to be
said, don’t you think?”
bone weary, Sam smiled. “Yeah.”
you married, son?”
there be another generation of Becketts to learn these life lessons?”
again, Sam found his mouth hanging wordlessly open. “I . . . uh. . . “
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.
The well muscled young man stepped up to Sam with a curious glance
at the doctor holding his father's hand.
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.
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."
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
were together again. All of them.
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.
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.
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.
He finally asked, looking past the doctor's aura to the two clinging women
in the hall. "You all right?"
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."
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.
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
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
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. . . "
you've made up for it now, buddy."
Sympathy carried the holograms voice.
here to help them say goodbye, Al. Not just me."
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
smiled sagely. "I had a little help."
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.
knew Tom was pretty ticked about you not being here the first time,
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.
glanced in his direction, and then back to Tom, who then whirled around to
face the doctor approaching them.
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.
understand why you are upset," Sam started. "But can we talk
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.
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.
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.
was obviously tired and pumped with drugs, but he held the holograms' look
quite a boy you have there, Mr. Beckett," Al said lowly.
know." John managed a weak smile. "Sam?" he asked.
him home, Admiral," John said, his voice whispery and weak.
Al to my friends," Al corrected softly. "And I will, Mr.
Beckett. I will do everything in my power."
John smiled, his eyes drooped tiredly. "Wife?" he mumbled.
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."
sparkle in John's eyes was clear even through the drug induced grogginess.
"So I’m a grandpa."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
he said. "Time to see your father and husband." They filed from
the room in a resigned sort of peace.
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.
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.
Beckett's last hours together would be uninterrupted. Sam would see to
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.
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.
knew his exit cue when he saw it.
dad," he whispered through threatening tears. When he got to the
door, he turned and looked back at the man that was his father.
Beckett met his eyes, smiled, and gave him a nod.
welled up in Sam's eyes. He bowed his head and slipped from the room.
was waiting for him in the hallway.
nodded. "I can't watch him die, Al. I've said my goodbyes."
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.
paused at another door, and Al heard him whisper, "Off to other
cornfields, Mrs. Lawrence." The hologram frowned, wondering what that
could possibly mean.
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
that moment, Sam knew it was over.
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."