Episode 808

I Will Love You Forever Part 2

by:  A. J. Burfield and Katherine Freymuth

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Sam has leaped into himself the day before his fateful first leap and finds himself about to be face to face with the love of his life. Ziggy says he's there to stop all the small accidents that happened prior to his leap, and Al has his hands full trying to keep his friend focused on that duty.

Meanwhile, Sam in the future figures out enough to make Beeks and Al nervous and causes Donna to finally make a hard decision. Will Donna stay or go? Will Sam stop himself from leaping?




In 1995 Sam sat in his dark quarters simply appreciating the smell. He closed his eyes. He was surprised he came up with the name of Donna's perfume, and smiled at the spotty memories it brought out in his mind. He was home, he tried to convince himself, but knew he really wasn't. Standing, he dimmed the lights low as he walked slowly around the rooms.

"Ziggy?" he said experimentally.

"Yes, Dr. Beckett?"

"When's Donna due to return?"

"In one point two minutes, Dr. Beckett. She has just entered the complex."

That was the most nerve wracking two minutes Sam could remember. Eventually, the door opened, letting a dark-haired woman enter with a sigh. Her eyes widened a bit when she saw Sam in their quarters waiting for her. 

"Sam, what's wrong?" She asked with concern. Normally, he'd be in his lab working the night away.

Sam stood awkwardly, speechless and unable to move. She can't know ran over and over through his mind. "Uh," he stammered. "No...nothing. Nothing's wrong." He wiped his hands on his pants, resisting the urge to rush to her. Instead, he waited for her to put her things on the table then he walked to her, trying to look casual even though his heart raced.

She sighed. "Then how come you're up here instead of down in the lab or in the Archive room?" She looked at him and touched his forehead. "Are you sick?"

My God, she looks so ...young. And beautiful, he thought, a fleeting vision of how old he had appeared to himself the last time he saw his own reflection. As soon as she touched him, he felt a shiver and embraced her gently. He fought back all the emotions inside. He felt her skin on his cheek, her hair against him and noticed how her body fit his perfectly. He closed his eyes, savoring every second.

Donna laughed slightly, returning the embrace. "Well, I missed you too, but it's only been three days, Sam." She smiled at him a bit. "What has gotten into you?" She didn't mind the attention but it was so unlike Sam when he had his Project to work on and perfect.

He held her a bit longer. "I missed you," he said huskily, then he backed off and held her hands, his eyes shiny as he drank in every detail of her face. He traced her cheek with a finger, then took her into a deep kiss. He had to prove to himself that this wasn't a dream. Part of his mind was telling him to slow down, but he simply couldn't because the other part of him was expecting to leap away at any second.

He kissed her like it would be their last. His kiss melted her with its passion and she felt like she couldn't remember how to stand. "Oh, Sam," she whispered softly.

"Donna." was all he could whisper before he was swept completely away. For the first time in a long time he was like any other, normal man in any time and any place; he felt free. And nothing else mattered in this world.



Sam had no idea of the time when he finally became aware of his surroundings. Donna was breathing softly, her breath tickling his chest. Instinctively, he held her closer, hoping he could hide in the darkness with her and never go back. He didn't care anymore why he was here. He wasn't going to leave again.

She moaned softly as her eyes opened slowly. Softly lifting her head, she smiled at him. "Good morning, darling." She relished the look of utter contentment and love in his face.

He buried his face in her hair, and clamped his eyes shut. I can't go back, he thought as he held her. "No, it's not morning yet, my love," he whispered gruffly, his voice was raw with emotion.

Donna grew concerned at his tone. She stroked his face lovingly. "Sam, honey, what's wrong?" She kissed his cheek lovingly. "Oh, please, darling. Please, tell me."

"Nothing's wrong," he breathed. "This is perfect." He held her closely, running his hand over her body. He wanted to remember every curve, every detail.

"And so are you, my dear," she said gently before sitting up and stretching. "My, I needed that more than you know! Those bureaucrats just don't understand. It's frustrating."

Sam blinked and swallowed hard. How could he tell her that it just doesn't matter? That all this work had come down to this moment in time? That something was going to go terribly wrong, and his being here now was all that mattered? He studied her with his eyes, then sat up and held her again.

 The battle was already raging in his mind.

She allowed him to fold her into himself, putting her arms around him. 

"Don't go." Was all he whispered in her ear as he pulled her down again.

She sighed softly, burying her head under his chin. "What about...?" She started to protest half-heartedly.

It was impossible to hide his desperation as he held her. "Shhhh." He soothed. "It doesn't matter right now. Just stay with me." He nuzzled her ear. 

She sighed. She always did have a problem resisting him when he nuzzled her. She let him hold her, noting the desperation in his voice. Gently, she pried, "Sam, there's something wrong, isn't there? What is it?"

He tried to deny it but he knew deep inside this wouldn't last; he would be pulled away again, cast into the role God, Fate, Time or Whoever had made for him. He heard the concern in Donna's tone, and knew it wasn't fair to her to tell her what happens. That was too much; anything could happen, too many futures imperiled. 

"Nothing's wrong," he said softly, forcing himself to relax. Just savor what time you have, he thought. "You are just so beautiful."

"I love you, Sam," she said softly.

This is how I want to leap, he thought. Maybe she'll come with me. He could always hope. "For always?" he said, too late to stop himself. "Because I will love you, always," he added.

" 'Til death do us part', remember?" She said with love. She kissed him softly and sighed. "We'd better get out of bed. Al will be pounding on the door in a minute, most likely with one of those looks."

"He wouldn't dare," Sam said as he held her closer. I'm the boss, aren't I??" 

Almost on cue, the predicted knock came on the door, simultaneous with the sound of the Imaging Chamber door opening. Sam shuddered. He didn't know where to look first, and preferred to look at neither one. He lay down again with his wife and pulled the sheet up to their chins. "Shhh!" He said. "Maybe they'll go away!" 

"Hey, Sam, how's it..." the holographic Al paused before turning away to avoid looking at the pair. "Oh! I see. Well..."

Then the same voice was heard as an odd sort of echo on the other side of the room door. "Come on, you two! Daylight already burned away!"

Sam glared at the hologram. After a few seconds and another set of knocks on the door, Sam sighed, resigned that his moment was over. He wasn't happy about it. Donna rolled out of bed and began looking for her clothes. 

Al shrugged at the glare, watching and waiting, and respectfully avoiding looking at the svelte Donna.

 'Go away!' Sam mouthed, making a shooing motion with his hands.

The Al of 1995 knocked on the door again, waiting for an answer. "Jeeze Louise, Sam. What are you two doing? Making like rabbits?"

That did it. Between the physical Al and the holographic Al, Sam knew he didn't have a chance. He got up from the bed and put his arm around Donna and led her to the bathroom. "15 minutes, all ready, okay?" Sam yelled. "We slept late!" 

"Since when have you ever slept late?" both Als asked in unison.

"Start the shower, I'll be right in." Sam pecked Donna on the nose then pulled the door shut behind her. At the sound of the shower, he whispered to the hologram. "What? Just what's so important you come here now? Yesterday, there were just a few little things, none of which amounted to any big deal! What now?" Sam was really angry. "ALL RIGHT ALL READY"! He yelled at the flesh and blood Al, "Gimme a break, will ya? 15 minutes!" Then he returned his glare to the hologram Al. "This had better be good, Al. Because in about 10 seconds I'm going in there with my wife, who I love very much, and just recently recalled I was married to!" Sam was on a roll now. "OTHERWISE, if you DON'T mind, I'd like to have some private time, alone with Donna! YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?!"

It was difficult for him to keep his voice below the sound of the shower. He was desperate. He needed all the time he could get with Donna, and if he had to fight for it, so be it.

Observer Al took a step back, startled by the anger in Sam's voice. But if he looked real close, he would see how close to tears his friend actually was. "Take it easy, Sam! I don't mind you spending some time with Donna. I was just checking on you because it's past one in the afternoon, your time and..." He hesitated, finally noticing his friend's distress. "You don't want to leap," he said softly.

Sam's glance dropped to his toes momentarily. "No. I don't. But I don't have a choice, do I?" Sam's voice was shaky. With the last word choked out, he slipped into the bathroom and closed the door in the hologram's face.

Al sighed, closed his eyes and rubbed his face, then rested his chin in his cigar wielding hand. He saw the longing and desperation that played out on Sam's face. Slowly, he lifted the hand link and opened the door to exit, deciding to return in an hour. One nerve-wracking hour that may not come because Sam decides to change something here and now, Al thought grimly.

Inside the small bathroom, Sam hesitated to gather himself, wiped the tear threatening to fall from his eye, and put on a smile before stepping in the steamy shower with the love of his life. 

Donna wrapped her arms around Sam's waist and kissed him lovingly. "Al giving you a hard time about what the time?"

He gave her his best smile, and looked into her eyes. He swore never to forget them again. "Yea," he said gruffly. "But he can wait. They all can wait." And he kissed her again in the steamy blast of warm water.

Donna returned the kiss, letting the water beat down on them. "Good. Then you have time to wash up."

"Forget washing up." And he held her tightly with another kiss that had the same desperation as the night before, their sleek bodies intertwined and the whole room filled with steam.

Her face became worried again, despite her holding him. "Sweetheart, something is wrong. I can tell. You're... different."

Sam didn't respond immediately; what would he say? "I'm no different," he said over the sound of the water. "Just wiser. I really missed you!" He nibbled her ear, water dripping from her hair.

Donna sighed softly, smiling at him. "So you've said." She kissed him again. "Come on. We do have a lot to do and we've already lost... Sam..." she whispered, her voice showing a hint of excitement. "Don't do that..."

Then brushed his lips on her neck. "What?" he mumbled, against her skin. "This?" and he continued to nuzzle and kiss her neck and ears.

She hummed softly. "Sweetheart... the meeting..." She bit her lip softly at his actions. His hands ran up and down her smooth, slick back and upper thighs.

"What meeting?" his muffled voice replied, his mouth buried in the base of her neck. He felt her body getting aroused even though her voice sounded otherwise.

"Um…you know.." she mumbled, distracted.

He continued to travel his hands and lips over her. "They'll wait," he breathed. "Just a few minutes more..." his urgency wouldn't be put off. 

It was heaven with her; it was hell knowing it wouldn't last. The act was one of sorrow and joy, and he reached an emotional level he never thought possible. He couldn't leave again. Ever. In his heart Sam knew he was in big trouble. He had to take the time to get his act together and figure out what he was going to do.




"Oh, Sam," she whispered, weak from their encounter. She held him lovingly, her head on his shoulder, and felt his shoulders slump in despair. "Sam, why won't you tell me? You keep saying nothing's wrong but you're lying to me. Why?"

He let the water beat on his face and chest as he tried to come up with a response. "Donna," he said carefully, controlling his voice. "Have you ever thought about what we're doing here? I mean, really thought about it. How it will affect our lives?"

She sighed before washing herself. "We're proving your theory." She looked at him proudly. "And when you prove it, it will be the best thing that ever happened in our lives."

Sam took the soap from her and started to wash her back. "Why?" He asked simply. "Because I'll prove my theory, or because of what we'd gain? Did you ever stop to think what we might lose?"

She smiled. "Sam, this is your chance to prove that you are not insane or a wash-out like all those other nozzles say. And you know that proving your theory will set us up for life. We'll never have to work another day unless we want to."

He soaped her thoroughly, and played the water over her body, admiring it from every angle. "And it's a risk we're willing to take. Even if I were to fail, I mean."

"Is that what's bothering you?" she said gently, turning to look at him. Her eyes reflected pure confidence in him. "You won't fail, Sam. You'll prove your theory."

He smiled at her confidence, but his eyes were sad. He was quiet for a moment as he watched the water run down her body. "Promise me something?"

She smiled gently. "What?"

He hesitated a second, trying to word it just right. "Promise me that you will remember that I love you with all my heart and soul, no matter what? And that you'll never leave? Will you promise me that?" He thought he was scaring her, so he made the best 'puppy dog' face he could muster through his buried sadness.

She blinked at him with confusion. "Sam, if I didn't know for an absolute fact that you love me, do you think I would have married you 'till death do us part?" 

He smiled at that. "Of course not." He kissed her neck again. "But still, promise me?"

She smiled lovingly. "I promise," she said softly, holding him. "I will always remember that you love me and I'll never leave."

He embraced her lovingly. It was all he could ask for at the moment. "Thank you," he whispered, kissing the top of her head. He was content just to stand there and hold her, forever.

She snuggled a few heartbeats before pulling away. "Now, get dried and get dressed. We are definitely going to be late for that meeting." She kissed him softly and left the bathroom dress.

"Why can't we have the meeting here?" Sam teased. "Clothing optional?"

She looked at him over her shoulder with a bit of a glare. "I'm going to have to talk to Al about how he's a bad influence on you."

Sam thought briefly about how much he'd lightened up. He had been so serious! "What? It was my idea!" Sam stepped from the shower, playfully trying to snatch Donna's towel away. "I think we look great this way!" Sam flexed in front of the fogged up mirror, which was just as well. He didn't want to be reminded of how young he was, once...

She pulled away, keeping hold of the towel. "What has gotten into you?" she asked with a chuckle.

"Aren't you proud of your body? You should be..." He threw his towel over his shoulder, and tried to reach out and pinch her bottom. "Comon...let's skip the meeting.."

She hesitated, unsure how to answer that. "Thank you," she finally said. She shook her head slightly. "But I still think you've been around Al too much." She dressed carefully in her best suit. "You skip the meeting and you skip the entire project, Dr. Beckett."

Sam just sat and watched her dress. He wasn't taking anything for granted in this leap. He liked the way she moved. "Picnic in the desert, maybe?" he tried again. The last thing he wanted to do was get dressed in a stiff suit, which he hated anyway, and sit in a room with a bunch of stuffed shirts.

She looked at him firmly. "No," she told him plainly. "Get dressed," she ordered, her eyes glancing over his still nude body. She diverted her eyes, not wanting to get those ideas in her head as well.

She was determined. Another trait he loved. He smiled crookedly. "Need help with any of those buttons, dear?" he asked politely, another plan in mind.

She smiled knowingly, getting the idea. "No, thank you," she said in a near chuckle. "Get dressed." She grabbed his underwear and threw it at him. "Now."

He grabbed the garment in mid air. "Sheesh," he said, crushed. "Try to be chivalrous..." Reluctantly, he put the item on then stood by the bed. 

She sighed. "Sam... you're wasting time," she said, giggling. She went over and took out a suit and shirt and handed them to him. She kissed his cheek. "And we go through this every time except this time you're being more stubborn."

"We can run away." He said, studying the clothes. "Never have to do this again." He tossed the suit on the bed. 

"You can't avoid this meeting, Sam. This is the one that seals the Project," she told him. "All we have to do is show that we've fixed the things noted in the audit. It's just another hoop to jump through." Then she said quietly, "Like we haven't jumped through enough all ready."

Quietly, Sam got dressed. He buttoned the buttons, tied the tie, and slipped on the shoes devoid of any enthusiasm. "I'm serious, Donna," he said quietly. "Let's run away."

She stopped, looking at him with disbelief. "What's going on, honey? What about your dream... our dream? What about travelling in time?"

He hesitated. "Maybe it's not what it's cracked up to be," he said quietly.

She slowly went to him. "What do you mean?" she asked, taking his hands.

He bit the inside of his cheek. He wanted to tell her, had to tell her. What would happen then? Would he never leap? Would he be stuck in the future somewhere, two Sams in two times? He'd be here and the other Sam .....

"You can't tell her, Sam," Al's voice said at his side. "You can't stay." His voice was filled with sympathy.

Al's voice made Sam jump. He hadn't even heard the Imaging Chamber door. He gripped Donna's hand and looked into her eyes. If she only knew. 

 "Donna," he started.

She returned the grip, her face drawn. "Sam, you're scaring me," she said softly. "You're having second thoughts?"

He gave Al a quick sideways glance.

Al's eyebrows shot up and he stood up straighter. "Sam, what did you say to her?"

"I... just..." he started. "I just want you to remember your promise, okay?" He kissed her on the forehead, put his arm around her shoulders, and started to the door. Her brows furrowed in confusion, but she allowed her self to be directed out the door.

Al followed him out to the hall and went to his other side. "What did you say to her?" He repeated firmly as Donna stepped away from Sam, smoothed her skirt, and started down the corridor.

"Nothing," he breathed quickly in Al's direction as he hurried to catch his wife. 

He reached out and took her hand, and held it as they walked down the bare hall. He wasn't going to let her out of his sight for the rest of the leap. 

Sam felt like he was on some kind of thrill ride that went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of seconds. He felt out of control here; here he was going off to do something he now had major second thoughts about, and was afraid of the consequences either way. He knew Al was pacing him, right there next to him, but he had no idea of what to say to him. 

He had a very few minutes to decide on an action. His gut feeling told him one thing, and the warmth of Donna's hand told him another. And Al....Al was his nagging conscious once again. Sam fixed his eyes on the floor in front of him as he and Donna walked down the hall in silence.

Al's frown deepened at the look on Sam's face. He knew that look all too well; it was Sam's 'cat caught the canary' look. "You can't stay, Sam. You know that." He hesitated. "I'm sorry."

Sam didn't even grace his Observer with a glance. He knew Al was right; it still didn't make this any easier. He'd followed his gut so many times before, and here he still was. Why not try another route and go with what he wanted instead? What would happen? Sam's mind was busy with trying to run scenarios on his own. 

"Please, Sam, don't make this harder on yourself," Al continued. He could see the desperation in Sam's eyes and knew exactly what his friend was pondering. "Just remember that you can't change anything having to do with the Project. It's too dangerous! And besides, you've got to stop a few more little accidents." Al raised the hand link as if to confirm what he just said.

Indecision was tearing Sam apart. He didn't even notice when Donna led him into the meeting room. He finally focused on his current situation when he felt the stares of the Committee. He returned the stares with a blank expression. He turned to his holographic friend and gave him a desperate look. What should he say?

The younger Al stood politely and approached the couple. He had obviously satiating the irritated Committee members in Sam's absence. "You're late," he whispered, directing Sam to his seat.

"Huh?" Sam said as he re-focused on the flesh and blood Al.

Donna just nodded, and ushered Sam to the indicated seat. Al of the past frowned before sitting again and giving his attention to the Committee. 

An older man with tight lips and a sharp nose wasted no time. "We were discussing this project of yours, Dr. Beckett," he said, indicating the other members with a nod of his head. "It seems to us that you are, shall we say, barking up the wrong tree," he pointed out. "It's not entirely clear how funding will be covered."

As the man was speaking, the holographic Al was pounding on the hand link, frowning. 

Sam hesitated before opening his mouth, sparing the Observer a quick glance. Suddenly, he knew exactly what would happen here. They were going to pull the plug, and he knew what his reaction was in the last time line. He didn't even have a chance to speak before he felt that familiar tingling. But I haven't done enough!  He thought as he instinctively reached for Donna's hand. I love you, Donna!  Was the last thought he had before he was carried away.



Al's eyes were still huge as he arrived back in the future. "What the hell?" He glanced around quickly before looking up at the ceiling. "Ziggy, what happened?"

"Dr. Beckett has leaped," the soft voice purred.

"No shinola! But why? I thought you said he was there to stop all those little accidents!"

Ziggy sniffed an insulted sniff. "Apparently not."

Al growled, "Well, then, why did he leap?" He headed out the Imaging Chamber door and into the Control Room. He hated trying to pull information from Ziggy when she was sulking. And she had a lot to sulk over, as far as he was concerned. Her projection had been wrong … again!

"Obviously, Admiral, I haven't been given all the facts. I can only predict with what I'm given. I'm not in the mood to continue this conversation. Check back with me in 2.4 hours as I review prior input."

He looked at the sphere hanging from the ceiling with a glare. Her tone was definitely a miffed one.

St. John raised an eyebrow at the glare Al gave the sphere. "In a bit of a snit, is she Admiral?" He commented lightly with a smile. 

"Great. Just freaking great," Al muttered. He looked at St. John with a frown. "You're the head programmer. You talk to her." 

"Will do, sir!" he said cheerily, his fingers brushing Al's lightly as the accepted the hand link with a wink.

Al frowned sharply at the touch and jerked his hand away. He was sure missing Gooshie right now. True, Gooshie's halitosis was something to reckon with, but this feeling he got from St. John was unnerving, to say the least. Al rubbed his face as he turned to go. Great. Ziggy's in a hissy fit, Sam's leaped without any reason, and St. John's got the hots for me. Perfect.'  To himself, he mumbled. "Why did I get out of bed?"

St. John had turned his attention to the blinking console and was humming 'Westminster Cathedral' as he fiddled with the dials. The exit door swooshed open as Al turned to go. Donna entered the Control room looking as worn out as Al felt. There were bags under her eyes.

"So Sam's leaped, has he?" She said softly, coming to a stop just inside the door and rubbing her eyes.

He stopped when he reached her. She looked like she'd been crying. "Yeah," he answered softly, instantly worried. He touched her shoulders, and gently directed her out the door. "Sweetheart, are you okay?" he asked gently as he walked next to her in the hall.

She smiled, taking his offered elbow. "Yeah," she breathed. "I guess so. Stephen is wearing me out today. Wants me to explain everything to him."

Al frowned slightly. "Stephen?" he questioned, trying not to sound too confused.

Donna didn't notice his hesitation. She was too tired, and rubbed her eyes again. "Yeah. I can see now why a farm and six-year-olds are a good combination like Thelma always says. More physical chores to wear them out. I have to do something before he drains me completely."

A six-year-old? Al thought, and then his eyes widened slightly. "Holy crap!" he said aloud, coming to an abrupt stop.

Donna jumped and stopped next to him, alarmed. "What?" she said, glancing around. "Al? You scared me to death! What?"

Al looked at her for a moment before his eyes softened, realizing instantly the reason for Sam's last leap. He tried not to smile too broadly as he changed the subject. In a calmer voice, he asked, "Ah, nothing, Donna. Nothing. Just realized something, that's all. About Stephen," he savored the name for a second. "Have you considered that he just needs something to focus on? Like a hobby or something? Sounds to me he's just like Sam."

She could see his mind working in his eyes. There was more there than his suggestion, but she was too tired to pursue it. "The problem is he's interested in EVERYTHING. He's too much like Sam!" 

His smile widened before he chuckled softly at her comment. Sam's son. This was too much! They started down the hallway again.

She hesitated before continuing. "I've been thinking, Al, along those lines."

"And what have you come up with?" He replied, still tickled at what he now knew.

She was silent for a moment, forming her thoughts. "I think we need to leave the Project." She hurried on before he could protest. "Stephen needs sights, sounds, books, hands-on things. He needs much more than this." She indicated the hallway. "Sure, we have the place in Wolfberg, but I work here. He's worn out every sitter in town. And me." She looked Al briefly in the eyes, then guiltily dropped her head. "I'm tired of being a single parent, Al." She turned and started walking away not wanting to hear Al's response.

Stunned, Al watched her move away. The visions of what he had just witnessed in 1995 were quickly fading away, as was the surprise of Sam having a son, and being replaced with the thought, I wondered when this day would come, and a strong feeling of deja-vu.

She could hear Al begin to follow her and slowed a bit, allowing him to catch up. It had taken a lot out of her to finally admit that to anyone.

"Sweetheart, there are other options, you know. Yes, he's a very smart kid but..." He exhaled, not knowing what else to say. He could understand her point of view all too well. "Is leaving such a good idea?"

Donna could feel her raw emotions rising to the surface. She was exhausted, she knew, and regretted what she said as soon as it left her lips. "I wish I could have asked Sam the same thing." Her lips quivering. She took a deep breath to control herself. "I don't know what's a good idea anymore, Al. I'm completely torn. Juggling the Project needs with Stephen's needs with MY needs..." Her voice was getting shaky again. "I think I need to simplify my life, for Stephen's sake."

Al sighed slightly at her words before taking her into his arms gently. He brushed her hair softly. Donna fell into the hug willingly, and let her tears loose. He knew exactly what kind of frustration she was going through; Beth had gone through the same thing. His months at sea had left her home alone with babies more often than he cared to think about. But theirs had been a joint decision; they both knew what they were getting in to.

"Sweetheart..." he started before sighing. "Please, think about it for a while."

"I have been," she said softly, pulling away. "Constantly. I can't think about anything else. Stephen's been reading since he was three. We're already through basic math and algebra, European history, and basic computer. He's starting to learn French on the Internet!"

"I know Sam didn't give you a choice, but Stephen's around the best scientists in the world here. No other place can give him that." He wished he hadn't said anything when he saw the look on Donna's face.

"Life is more than science. Sam knew that. I know that. I don't know what else I can do here. And with Sam an absent father...." her voice broke, and she got it under control. "I have to do what's best. We need to leave. Staying here solely because of my loyalty to Sam isn't right."

Al exhaled slowly. As Sam's friend, he couldn't understand, but as a father in his own right, he could. "He'll come back, Donna. Don't give up on him."

She blew out a shaky breath. "I'm not, Al. I'm just ...moving him to third place in the priority list."

He nodded slowly before rubbing his cheek slightly. "You've made up your mind on this?"

She met his eyes. "I guess I have." She whispered. "I just can't think about it anymore. I've got to act. There's a special school, perfect for Stephen, in Albuquerque. It's not that far, and we can figure out our options." She laughed, and wiped her tearing eyes. "I don't think Albuquerque will hold the little guy for long, but it's a start."

He pursed his lips. "Well... you have to do what you have to do, I suppose." He chuckled slightly. "Christa won't be too happy, though. She adores Stephen."

That made Donna laugh again. "The feeling's mutual. Separating Christa and Sammie Jo from him is the toughest part of all this." She took Al's hand again. "Thanks, Al, for listening. I guess I have things to do now..."

"Yeah," Al said quietly. "Well..." 

Donna stopped him with a pat of her hand. "I'm sorry. I just can't think of an alternative. If Sam were here, or if I could talk to him for just a few minutes." She ducked her head shamefully. "If I could just hear him say he loved me one more time, I would have something to hang on to." 

 "You know he loves you, Donna. You shouldn't have to hear it," Al said softly, knowing it wouldn't help.

With her head bowed, Donna turned and walked quickly away.




June 10, 1985


Sam found the leap instantaneous. He was one place, then in the next blink, here he was. Cautiously, he looked around; it was dark enough that it took several moments for his eyes to adjust and when they did things still weren't too clear. Reaching out his hand, he realized he was behind a black curtain with lots of dangling ropes, dusty chairs and other pieces of furniture. His tuxedo was worn to the point of being shiny, as if it were worn every day. Then he heard the worst singer he could imagine warbling, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads.' The muffled murmuring of a small crowd was in the background. Sam sidestepped his way carefully to the curtain's edge and peeked around the corner.

On the other side of the curtain was a small stage in front of numerous cocktail tables. The pathetic singer was alone and spotlighted on a stage standing in front of a piano. A tall machine off to the side played the instrumental part of the song. Next to the machine was an easel with a 'KAREOKE TONIGHT!' sign on the shelf. Sam had to laugh; the current singer was awful. 

Sam wandered around the backstage area looking for any indication what he was supposed to do. Nothing struck him, and no one was around. He moved over to a lighter area and pulled a wallet from his pocket with a happy feeling; it was like he had struck gold. So far, so good! He flipped it open and read that his host's name was John Goode. That, too, made Sam laugh. 

'Country Roads' ended to a smattering applause and laughter. Sam was happy his ears got a break, but within a few minutes another wailing voice took his place with a warped version of 'New York, New York', which drove Sam further from the curtain to explore, and conveniently further away from the caterwauling on stage.

He guessed he was in a club attached to a hotel when he wandered into a lobby area and saw a check-in desk. Not wanting to be noticed, he slipped back to the stage area and found a stool to sit on and simply wait for Al. 'New York, New York' was followed by 'Leaving on a Jet Plane', 'Different Drum', then 'Hound Dog'. Sam was mulling over which presentation was the worst, and was having a hard time making the call when the familiar whoosh caught his attention.

Al grimaced as he was backed by a lively but screechy version of 'Satisfaction'.

"Good grief," he moaned. "Give me some satisfaction and shut up! Mick would be horrified. Hey, Sam." He plucked a cigar from his glimmery, gold vest and proceeded to light it.

"Hey, Al. At least that vest lets me see you in the dark," Sam quipped.

Al snorted as the cigar caught the flame, and mumbled, "Glad to help out. So, you ready for this one?"

Sam looked at him a cocked his head. "I can't possibly figure this one out. It's pretty boring so far!"

The hologram inhaled the smoke slowly, and just as slowly, released it. "Well, looks like you have a break. It's an easy one." Al pointed to the ceiling with his cigar. "All you need to do is connect the detached curtain cord up there without falling off the ladder." Al then pointed to a ladder leaning against the wall.

Sam surveyed the ladder and the cord suspiciously. "That's it? That's all Ziggy could find?"

Al nodded as he puffed again. "Yup. Seems this John Goode person, that's you, fell off the ladder in the original history and broke some ribs which punctured a lung and his liver, which sent him to the hospital, where he had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia in surgery and died. He left behind a young wife, and a son that eventually grows up to be a criminal because now single mom had to work and couldn't keep and eye on their kid." Al shook his head. "It's an easy fix, and the only thing we can find on this Goode guy. Ha! 'Goode guy'! Get it, Sam?"

Sam pinched the skin between his eyebrows. The singing and bad jokes were giving him a headache. "Okay, fine. Let's do it." He set up the ladder, ignored his fear of heights as he went up an astounding four feet from the ground, and pulled the cord to him. He quickly reconnected the cord to the pulley, and descended the ladder. He brushed off his hands, put away the ladder, and stepped to the edge of the curtain to give the stage one last look.

"Well, Sam, I'd say that's about it. I'd get ready to leap, if I was you." Al deftly slipped the link in his pocket and studied the cigar between his fingers. When there was no answer from his friend, he looked up.

It was a boisterous crowd, and the latest performer on the stage had just finished a screechy version of 'Stand By Me'. Most of the audience was applauding and laughing. Couples sat at small tables, their heads bowed in intimate conversation. Waitresses weaved between the tables, balancing trays with professional skill. But Al could tell that Sam saw none of it; he was intent on something, and his eyes slowly went glassy.

Alarmed, Al stepped next to his friend and followed his line of sight. When he finally saw what Sam was focused on, his jaw dropped and his heart jumped. 

Sam saw himself.

There, across the room and just inside the circle of light that was trained on the stage, was a much younger Sam…and a woman. They were sitting close, oblivious to the rest of the room, their eyes on each other, and their hands clasped lovingly. 

Oh my God, Al thought instinctively. I'd forgotten how they looked together.

The Sam of the past was holding Donna's hand on top of the table, and they were quietly chatting and laughing. Al could see the glimmer in the young man's eyes, and the delicate profile of Donna Elesee-Beckett. Or was that her name yet? Al did the math quickly in his head. They were newlyweds. He recalled they took a brief honeymoon at a resort in this area.

Al turned his attention on Sam the Leaper. He could see him in another man's body, trembling and frozen. The blood literally drained from his cheeks and he swayed.

"Sam! Stop it! Come on, you aren't you! There's nothing you can do! Sam!?"

When Sam answered, it was barely a whisper. "Donna! I remember her, Al. But I didn't before….how could I not remember Donna?" Sam turned away, shaken. "What kind of a man am I that I forget the ones I love, Al? What does that make me?"

The hologram maneuvered to keep in front of his friend. "That makes you Sam Beckett. Friend, scientist, Boy Scout, and husband." Al stated quietly, trying to catch his eyes. "You are still Sam Beckett. And she still loves you for being you."

A tear rolled from Sam's eye, and he wiped it silently away as he gazed at his wife. With a husky voice, he asked, "Is she still waiting for me?"

Al didn't hesitate. "Yes, Sam, she is. She knows you have work to do." The Admiral hoped he wasn't lying, recalling his conversation with Donna earlier. "You two are meant for each other. It can be no other way."

"I have to talk to her."

"You can't, Sam, you know that."

"I have so much to tell her. She has to know…"

"Know what?"

Sam rubbed his eye roughly with one hand. "That I still love her. That if she waits just a little longer, I'll be back. I have to tell her!"

The eerieness of what Sam just said wasn't lost on the Observer. Donna had just said the same thing. It made him glance up to where he imagined God, Fate, Time or Whomever resided. OK, what's going on? He thought. 

Sam turned back to the crowd just as the announcer tapped the microphone. "We'll have more kareoke later, but now I'd like to give our ears a break and turn over the stage to our professional singers, Kathy Fisher and Ron Wasserman!" The announcer placed another poster on the easel with the picture of a smiling man and woman and the words "FISHER" under them in sparkly paint.

Before Al could protest, Sam walked right through the hologram of his friend on to the stage. There was a confused smattering of applause as Fisher approached the stage from the other side. Sam beat the pair to the piano, and gratefully sat down on the bench. He wasn't too sure his trembling knees would have been able to hold him any longer.

Al popped in next to him. "What are you doing, Sam? Talk to me, will ya? You're makin' me nervous, here!"

The couple making up Fisher gave Sam a puzzled look, and Sam waved them off. "I'll be just a sec, all right?" He said to the woman and her partner. "Special occasion. One song." 

She looked skeptically at her partner who nodded, and then they both looked to the announcer. He just shrugged. "Sure," she said, and they both backed off a few steps.

Sam cleared his throat, realizing all eyes were on him, but only one set of ears mattered to him. There was still the soft murmur of talk, the clicking of glass, and waitresses swaying about. Sam managed to tear his eyes away from his younger wife, and flexed his fingers. He pulled the microphone to his mouth.

"This is for someone I love very much," he said softly. "And I hope she keeps it close to her heart."

His fingers hesitated briefly over the keys before he started a slow, romantic introduction. When he trusted his voice to bring forth a slow ballad, Sam began to sing while turning long glances to Donna and his younger self.' 'Til my body is dust
'til my soul is no more
I will love you, love you.
'Til the sun starts to cry
And the moon turns to rust
I will love you, love you.
But I need to know - will you stay for all
Time..forever and a day
Then I'll give my heart 'til the end of all
Time..forever and a day.
'Til the storms fill my eyes
and we touch the last time,
I will love you, love you.

His eyes glassy with unshed tears, the last note floated off to a perfectly quiet room. Sam the younger caressed Donna's cheek with one hand as his mouth moved. Donna responded to his words by squeezing his hand, then they joined in a kiss. They were oblivious to all; Sam saw the whole exchange and touched his fingers to his lips in a token response. There were several seconds of absolute silence, and then the crowd began to applaud. 

Al rubbed his eyes, moved. 

Kathy Fisher stepped up and whispered, "Hey! Great song! Can I sing it?"

And before he could respond, Sam Beckett the Leaper faded away in a blue haze as he blew a kiss to his wife. Donna didn't notice; she only had eyes for her husband.



Project Quantum Leap
      January 20, 2002


Al stepped shakily from the Imaging Chamber. What had that been all about? Why didn't Ziggy tell him that Sam of the past would be there? "Ziggy!" he yelled at the ceiling as he dropped the link in front of the astonished Edward St. John VI. "Why didn't you say anything? Sam could have bollixed up his whole future!"

Ziggy purred a quiet response, nonplused. "Why don’t you go ask Dr. Elesee, Admiral? I think you will find my answer there."

"What? Who are you, Lila the Fortune Teller?" Al spat at the ceiling.

"Just go to Dr. Elesee. You will find her in her quarters." Ziggy sounded positively dreamy.

Al stomped from the room, technicians scattering out of his way. He walked briskly down the hall, and by the time he reached Donna's quarters his quick Italian temper had abated. He stopped in front of her door, caught his breath and straightened his jacket before politely knocking.

"Come," responded Donna from inside.

Al took a wary step in and stopped just inside the door, which closed behind him with a whoosh. The room was dimly lit, the stereo on a moody station.

"I'm back here," Donna called softly from the bedroom in the back.

Al walked forward slowly and peeked into the first open door. There were several model jets hanging from the ceiling above a small child's bed. There was a lump in the middle of the bed and an arm hanging out. Al smiled at the sleeping child and pulled the door mostly closed. 

In the next room he saw a suitcase open on the bed with Donna's clothes in neat piles in and around it. Al's heart leaped into his throat. "Going somewhere?" he managed to croak as he leaned against the doorframe in an effort to look casual.

Donna looked lost. She absently folded a few more things in silence, then said, "I don't know what to do, Al. If I could only talk to him for a second; just hear his voice." Her voice cracked, and she stopped packing. "If I only knew how he felt right now." When she reached up to wipe the tears from her eyes, Al stepped up and put his arm around her. She let her head fall on his shoulder.

"Come on, Donna. Let's talk some more." He led her to the tiny table in the dining nook. He sat her down, and took the chair across from her. "You aren't really leaving are you? What about Sam?" He asked gently.

"My whole life is about Sam, Al! And there's never any feedback. I know why; I know there can't be, but sometimes it's just too much to take." The last of her words faded off to nothing as she froze. Her eyes went wide, and she lifted a hand to her mouth. 

Al glanced around, wondering what had grabbed her attention, when he heard the familiar piano notes, the words this time sung by a woman. 

" 'Til my body is dust
'til my soul is no more…"

"Oh, my God!" Donna whispered, the tears flowing freely over her smile.

"But I need to know - will you stay for all
time..forever and a day
Then I'll give my heart 'til the end of all
time…forever and a day."

She whispered as she listened intently. "I haven't heard that since our honeymoon! Sam swore it must have been written by him in another time because that's … how …he felt about…me! Oh, Al." She took the Observer's hand in a tight grip. "There's the sign I've been looking for. I remember now that I made a promise to Sam the day before he leaped. I remember."

" 'Til the storms fill my eyes
And we touch the last time
I will love you, love you."

Al simply smiled, stood, and held her for his friend as the music played. He knew right then that God, Time, Fate or Whoever had convinced her to stay. 




Contentment; deep, relaxing comfort wrapped around him. That was the first thing that came to mind once his brain and body had stopped tingling from the leap. The next thing Sam realized was a sensation of movement and the sound of someone humming.

Sam opened his eyes, blinked a couple of times and realized he was looking over the top of a pair of spectacles, he pushed them back up from where they had slid halfway down his nose. He became aware that he was seated in a moving car. To his heartfelt relief, Sam found he was lying back in the passenger's seat and not in control of the vehicle. The soft leather upholstery of the seat caressed his body and Sam was sorely tempted to ignore what was going on around him and just relax.

However, his curious nature reasserted itself and Sam moved the lever by the side of his seat returning it to the upright position. As he moved, the humming that Sam had heard with one part of his mind was replaced by a voice touched with a hint of amusement. 

“Hey sleepyhead, feeling better?”

Sam glanced sideways at the woman in the driver's seat. She was one of the most beautiful women he could ever remember seeing; long eyelashes, faultless cheekbones and flawless skin. She was concentrating on driving, but when she sensed him looking at her, she smiled showing perfect white even teeth. With one hand, she flicked her long dark hair over one shoulder and raised an eyebrow.

“What’s up, sugar? You’re looking at me like you’ve never seen me before.” Her face showed a hint of puzzlement.

 Oh, boy, lady; you don’t know how right you are, Sam thought, his eyes still fixed on her face.


 E-mail A. J. Burfield and Katherine Freymuth