The Mistake
by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: May 1996
Summary: In this pre-leap story, Sam has a few things to prove to Washington and to Al. A small note - this was my very first fanfic...ever.


I was worried. I was very worried. "The kid" (my own nickname for a certain Nobel Prize-winning physicist, who also happened to be my best friend) hadn't left his office since we completed the last retrieval program simulation some three hours ago. Usually the kid was bubbling over with ideas after running a simulation on the project. Sometimes it was all I could do to get him to let everyone go home and try again tomorrow. Instead, today as we finished, Sam got the most peculiar look on his face and just walked out of the control room. Well, that was three hours ago, and I decided that I wasn't going to wait for an explanation any longer. I strode down the long hall to Sam's office.

Taking a deep breath, I knocked gently and opened the door, "Sam?" I saw the kid sitting at his desk staring into space, "Sam? Are you okay?"


I looked around and saw Al standing in the doorway. I sighed and groaned inwardly. I was definitely not ready for this. The last person I wanted to deal with right now was Al. He always knew exactly what was going on inside my head, and that was not something that I was ready to share with anyone right now. The retrieval program had failed again in simulation...again. For the first time in my life, I was positively and completely stumped. It was an unfamiliar and unwelcome feeling to me. Not to mention the fact that...ah, never mind. As soon as I even began to let those thoughts into my mind, Al would pick up on them. Might as well do what I could to ease Al's mind, so that he would leave me alone.

"What do you need Al?" I asked tersely.

"I was worried about you, kid. You just sorta bolted after the simulation. I thought I'd come see what was going on inside that head of yours." He looked at me with that probing stare that he had perfected over the many years that we had known one another.

I avoided Al's eyes by focusing on the nearest spot on the wall. "So, Al... how long do you think you'll be able to keep the money coming in if the simulations continue to fail?"

Al's voice became indignant, "I thought I told you Sam. I'll worry about the funding. You worry about the science. Besides, I thought we got some useful data from today's trial."

That was it- the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I lashed out at the nearest person, who just happened to be Al. "Learned a lot!?! All we learned is that the accelerator and time travel work fine, but we can't guarantee a retrieval of the subject! With the odds that Ziggy is spewing out, we basically can't even hope to bring him home. How the hell are we going to justify that? Go ahead and tell me how you're going to convince the Senate and how I'm going to convince the Human Subjects Committee that this is a valid and safe experiment?!" Thoroughly exasperated, I went back to staring at my spot on the wall as I choked back tears.

After a few minutes of tense silence, Al questioned, "So, you have no idea how to fix the problem?"

I answered him with stony silence.

"I've never known you to be unable to solve a problem..."

"Don't you get it Al? That is the problem; I don't have any solutions -- not even a glimmer of an idea."

Al had come to sit on the edge of the desk next to my chair. I was becoming painfully aware of his presence. No, I won't even let that enter my mind now. As if I didn't have enough to think about.

We sat there for close to ten minutes before Al started squirming. "Well, kid, we'll live to fight another day. For now, why don't you come to my place, and I'll cook us both a big pasta dinner. Whadaya think?"

I looked up and smiled weakly, "That would be nice Al. Thanks."

Several hours later, we were sitting at Al's place pleasantly filled with a gourmet Italian dinner. I was always amazed that a career military man like Al was so talented at something as domestic as cooking. We had made only feeble attempts at small talk during the preparation and process of dinner. We had now covered all the facets of the weather, project gossip, and recent politics. I felt Al's eyes boring into me again.

"So, kid, do you want to tell me what is really bothering you or are you going to leave me in suspense?"

"Al, it's nothing." I paused, debating whether I should put voice to my fears.

"C'mon. Spit it out."

I told a deep breath and decided that it was only fair that Al know what I had never voiced to anyone -- the real reason for Project Quantum Leap. "Al, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that the project won't ever work or that they'll turn off money before it does. And I'm not sure that I could go on if that happened."

Al looked increasingly concerned. "It's just a project Sam. You're a respected scientist. I'm sure you could get funding for any other project you wanted to pursue..."

"That's not the point Al! I don't want any other projects. I want to travel in time." The tears were now streaming down my face. There was no more controlling them. My voice dropped to a whisper. "I need to travel in time. That's the only way that I'll ever see Tom again." I paused, choking back tears. After a minute, I whispered my deepest, darkest secret wish, "It's the only chance to save him."

Al looked at me, staring deep into my eyes with a mixture of understanding and pity. "Aw, Sam. I know how much you miss Tom, but don't you see? PQL can't change that. He's been gone for almost 25 years. It's time to let go."

I stared at Al, almost angry at him for speaking those blasphemous words. The same sentiments were always present in the back of my mind, but my heart refused to accept them. Then I saw that Al's eyes were moist as well. God, it hurt him just as much to know that we couldn't change the past. Losing Beth had been at least as painful for him as losing Tom had been for me.

For the first time since we'd known each other, Al reached out to hold me. I gratefully accepted the hug and settled my head on his shoulder for a long cry. Al reached up and began to stroke my hair slowly, much like a child strokes a favorite pet or toy. I knew his stroking was as comforting to him as it was to me. Gradually, Al's hand strayed from my hair down to my shoulder. Al traced the line of my shoulder gracefully with his thick fingers. "Oh no," I thought through my tears. "Now is not the time for those feelings. I won't ruin this moment." But it was too late; my body had betrayed me. Feelings deep within me were awakening with a force that would not be denied.

Al stopped his stroking and asked somewhat timidly, "Sam? Are you okay? Are you feeling any better?"

I looked up and stared into those deep, knowing eyes and knew that I was a lost cause. "Yes, Al. I feel much better now." With that I reached out and planted a passionate kiss on Al's sumptuous lips. His initial panic came through his lips with blinding force. I pulled back, afraid that I had ruined our friendship forever.


I stared at the kid in shocked amazement. Utter bewilderment might be a better term. He had kissed me. Sam, the ultra-brilliant, prize-winning, most-eligible bachelor for 1995, had kissed me. Not only was I completely befuddled by the fact that my best friend had just kissed me, but I was also more than a little shocked that my body was responding. My pants were growing tighter by the minute through no conscious will of my own. This couldn't be happening. I may have had more than my fair share of sexual conquests, but they were all with women. I tried desperately to remind my aching loins that I was attracted to women and not men, but it was too late. Those raging Italian hormones had kicked in with their full force. I looked into those gorgeous bedroom eyes of Sam's and reached out to return the kiss.


"Oh, Al." I sighed as I came up for air from his passionate kiss. "Now I think I understand why you always got the women." Al responded with a light chuckle before moving further down to my neck. I slowly and carefully traced every muscle in his firm back and shoulders through his brightly colored silk shirt. "Al, I think it's time we get rid of this," I said tugging lightly at his shirt.

"Hmmm..." was all the answer I received as Al began to reach under my t-shirt. I groaned and began to fumble with the buttons on Al's shirt. Soon, we were both shirtless. A look of combined desire and dismay crossed Al's face. I stopped and stared at Al meaningfully. "Are you sure, Al? I don't want to lose our friendship."

"Shhh... Sam." was all Al said as he closed in on my nipple with a force that shook me to the core of my being. No woman had ever done to me what Al was doing right now. The confines of my already too-tight blue jeans were becoming positively unbearable. I let my hands roam down Al's front and discovered that he couldn't be any more comfortable than I was. I began to stroke Al's hardness through the slacks that he wore. Al's head rose, and his hand reached down and stopped mine.

"Let's move this into the bedroom" he said in a voice raspy with passion. We got up from the couch and moved down the hall into the bedroom. We barely made it to the edge of Al's king-sized waterbed before each of us began frantically trying to remove the other's pants. In a frenzied struggle of hands, bodies, and clothing, suddenly each of us was free of the last items of confining clothing. I looked with awe at Al's hard, throbbing organ. Now I knew why seemingly intelligent, independent women threw themselves at Al, and I was falling under his spell just as rapidly. "Oh, Al..."


We had moved into the bedroom, and the kid was facing me stark naked. "Wow" was the most profound thought that my overloaded brain could come up with at that moment. For the world's original boy scout, he was hung quite handsomely, and if his hardness was any indication, he was thinking anything but pure thoughts right now. "Oh my God, Sam. I want you so badly." I reached out for him and pushed him down on the bed roughly. We rolled into a tight embrace as waves shook the bed. In the embrace, I drove my groin into his. The feel of his hard cock on mine was a forbidden, yet fabulous aphrodisiac. I gently freed myself from Sam's vice-like grip, and I moved in on his groin. As I took him in my mouth, I nearly came myself. More than anything I wanted to fill him completely.

As if in answer to my thought, Sam cried out "Oh Al, fuck me. I want to feel you inside of me."

"Sam are you sure?" I asked breathlessly.

"Yes Al. I want you."


I couldn't believe it. I was lying across the world's largest waterbed begging my best friend to fuck me. I couldn't help thinking with amusement that I should get stumped by work problems more often. Meanwhile, Al had reached into the nightstand and pulled out the necessary lubricant. As he reached underneath me to lubricate me, I couldn't help but note with a twinge of jealousy that Al was active enough to need to keep KY in his nightstand. I shoved the distracting thought from my mind, and I reached out to smear some of the greasy stuff on his cock. I massaged him gently at first, but I began to get more and more forceful with each stroke.

"Sam..." Al grunted, "Are you ready?"

"Oh God Al, yes. Take me!"

Before the words were even out of my mouth, intense pain shot through every fiber of my body. I cried out in spite of myself, but Al was too far gone to even notice. Soon, waves of ecstasy replaced any pain, and I lost all power of speech. Just as I reached the pinnacle, I opened my eyes to look at Al. His eyes were closed tightly as he was on the verge of coming. Within seconds, he erupted inside of me, and with that, I came myself.

I didn't even remember falling asleep. I awoke and felt the sunlight hitting my body from the window above the bed. My thoughts strayed to Al. I had been in love with Al ever since we had met those many years ago at Project Starbright, but Al was career military. I knew better than to entertain any notions of a future for us, but now maybe there was hope. I rolled over to greet my lover properly. Instead, I found only an empty bed. Puzzled, I got up and wandered through the house; Al was nowhere to be found.

After a shower and some coffee, I headed out to the project in my Jeep. As I expected, I found Al out own our favorite ridge near the project entrance. He seemed lost in the scenery.

"Al, are you alright?"


"Al, talk to me. What's going on? I thought that last night meant something to both of us."

"Sam, it was all a mistake. You hear me? A mistake. We were both tired and lonely. It never happened." Al began to walk away.

"Al, I love you!"

Al seemed to hesitate for a second and then continued his walk.


After I left the kid, I wandered through the desert surrounding the project for a couple of hours. As it approached noon, the sun came out full-force above me. I decided that I should probably get out of the heat if I didn't want to end up with a nasty sunburn.

On the drive home, an idea stuck me. Maybe if I stayed away for awhile, the kid would get out of his blue funk, which was obviously the cause of.... last night. Well, some time apart certainly couldn't hurt. A small voice inside my mind reminded me that I was a willing accomplice to the kid's strange behavior. "Nah," I thought to myself, "I've just been cooped up too long in those caverns away from one of life's great pleasures - available, attractive women."

Once I reached my house, I checked the mail out of habit. Inside I found a brochure for this season's Santa Fe opera. Sam and I had been talking about trying to catch a performance or two. "Well," I decided, "I think I'll just catch a performance myself tonight. That should keep me out of Sam's way, as well as providing an evening of pleasant distractions." I smiled to myself remembering my last trip to the opera. I had met up with this gorgeous young music student whose date had unceremoniously dumped her after the first act. Ah, what a night we had. Sam was positively scandalized by the difference in our ages. Sam. Nope, I was definitely not going to ruin tonight with any thoughts about work or the good Dr. Beckett.

I showered and dressed in some nice traveling clothes. I loaded the tuxedo and my standard overnight case into the car and set out on the short drive to Santa Fe. This should be fun, even without the kid. "Dammit Calavicci, you've got to get Sam off your mind. Just drive." With that thought, I peeled out onto the highway and sped into the afternoon sun.


Al never returned to the project that day; nor did he call. The day had passed uneventfully until about 4:00 in the afternoon when the call from Washington came. Since Al wasn't in, the Senator spoke to me instead. He was blunt and to the point. Our funding would be cutoff at the end of the quarter if we didn't show some progress.

After I hung up the phone, I knew what I had to do. I never questioned it. I went to my office and began typing everything that I could think of into Ziggy. Anything and everything that might someday help bring me home. Around midnight, I sent everyone home and locked myself into the control room.

I had to leap. I had to prove that my theory would work - not only for myself and for Tom, but also for Al. If I couldn't have him in love, then maybe I could at least give him back the love that he lost. I quickly typed a brief note explaining everything to Al and placed it in Ziggy's memory banks under a variety of passwords that only Al would know.

I looked around the control room one last time, and with a resolve that had been absent in recent months, I stepped into the accelerator.


Picking her up had been the highlight of the day. The opera performance had been rather bland, and the majority of the women there had been rich women over 50. Mind you, I wasn't opposed to dating women nearer my own age, but why settle for dull maturity when you can have impetuous youth instead. Anyway, I had grabbed a quick bite to eat and had set out for home. The stars were so bright that it almost seemed like twilight instead of the wee hours of the morning. Then from out of nowhere, there was suddenly this beautiful brunette standing in the middle of the road next to her car with a flat tire. I smiled and thought lecherously, "Now this is a woman worthy of my time". She had legs that went on and on, and she was definitely stacked on top. Using the infamous Calavicci charm, I convinced her that she should come with me. We could come back for her car in the morning. Yep, things were definitely looking up when the communication came through from the project.

"Control..." Gooshie's static filled voice came across the car's intercom system.

"Yeah, what's happening Gooshie?" I asked as a knot slowly tied in my stomach.

"He's leaping! Ziggy said no, but Sam's leaping!" cried Gooshie, our head programmer.

"He can't leap! We're not ready." Full-fledged panic now replaced the anxiety that was there before.

"Tell Sam that!"

"Put him on!" I demanded. I would set that addle-brained kid in his place once and for all.

"I can't! He's in the accelerator! Al, Al what do I do?"

"Nothing! Any interference could kill him! I'll be there in two minutes!"

"Hang on beautiful," I said absentmindedly to the brunette sitting next to me.

A million thoughts went flying through my head. Surely Sam wouldn't really try the accelerator with himself as a subject. Not after what had happened last night...

I dropped the leggy brunette off at the next gas station and floored it to the project. In less than five minutes, I pulled up outside the project entrance and raced inside to the elevator. Impatiently, I rode down the many levels in the stuffy elevator to our subterranean home.

"What the hell is going on?" I yelled as I exploded into the control room.

"He did it, Admiral. He leaped. He's gone." Gooshie still looked a little stunned. "We tried running the retrieval program as soon as Ziggy indicated that it would be safe." Gooshie paused as if he would rather fall into the floor than finish his thought.

"Well, what happened?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

Gooshie answered softly, "Admiral, the retrieval program failed." He paused to let the news sink in and then continued, "Ziggy says that there's message for your eyes only from Dr. Beckett."

I walked down the hall slowly to my office. I definitely did not want to hear this message. It was all my fault. I balked after what had happened between us last night. Instead of dealing with Sam, I had run off looking for the most beautiful woman I could find just to reassure myself. I had let my own irrational fears about my so-called manhood ruin what had been the most beautiful experience of my life. More than that, I had driven away and maybe killed the first person I had loved since Beth. It struck me now with its full force and meaning. I loved Sam Beckett with every fiber of my being. The only mistake about what had happened between me and Sam was that I was too dumb to admit my true feelings to Sam while I had the chance.

I reached the office and sat down in my leather desk chair. It had been a present from Sam after we had gotten the go-ahead from the Senate for Project Quantum Leap. I began to listen to Sam's message. By the end, I was in tears. After Beth left me, I swore that no one would ever get close enough to make me cry again. Well, Sam had done that twice in the last twenty-four hours. I got up and walked over to the wall that held the picture of me with Sam after he won his first Nobel Prize for his work at Project Starbright. I stared at the man who meant more to me than life itself.

"Sam, I promise you that I will bring you home even if it takes the rest of my life. God help me, I love you kid."



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