by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: July 2004
Summary: A ficlet written for lorienwillow including the line: “Only ONCE!”
The party was in full swing by the time I arrived. Dr. Beeks had kept me late in her office making sure that all the tests were done and that I really was sane and ready to rejoin the world after my experience. I can’t imagine why she thought six years of leaping would cause any problems. It’s not like I was still waiting for the tug of the leap to pull me out of my life, like some kind of cruel joke.
I looked around the room at all the people who had spent the last six years trying to bring me home. It was too much, really. How could I have been worth all of this? My eyes settled on the one man, whose strength of personality really made this all happen. He’d been the one to get the funding for the project in the beginning, and he’d been the one to keep it going all these years. I cleared my throat from the emotions that were threatening to boil over.
My quiet noise had managed to catch Al’s attention. After all these years, he almost instinctively knew what was going on with me at any time. His eyes locked with mine and a slight nod of the head acknowledged everything I was feeling.
He pulled me into the circle and announced loudly, “Here he is! The man of the hour! I give you Dr. Beckett, undoubtedly the winner of this year’s Nobel prize!”
A roar went up from the crowd, and I felt my face grow warm from the attention. After six years of being other people, it was hard to accept that these people were really seeing and appreciating me, not whoever I was inhabiting.
As the applause quieted down, an evil gleam settled in Al’s eyes.
I knew that I wasn’t going to like this one bit.
He smirked as he made his announcement. “As you all know, I’ve been privy to many things as Sam leaped around these past few years. Many of you know that Sam has one of his degrees in music and that he played piano at Carnegie Hall when he was a young whipper-snapper.”
A knowing mumble rose from the crowd. My stomach tightened as I figured out where this was going.
Al continued, “However, on a leap several years ago, I learned that our resident classical music guru also has some serious talent as a lounge lizard. In fact, he does a kick-ass rendition of ‘Feelings!’ Sammy, I think it’s safe to say that this crowd would love a little performance!”
A cheer went up from the crowd, as I blushed red. I tried to get out of it. “Al, I don’t think so. I haven’t even touched a piano since I got back.”
He continued to grin. “Not buying it, Sammy. These people have earned it for all their hard work. C’mon, give us a little something.”
Shaking my head, I moved towards the piano that was conveniently set up across the room. I sat down at the bench and stared at the keys for a moment. Before starting, I cast one more glance at Al. "Only ONCE!"