Just A Small Price
by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: August 2001
Summary: Al has to make a big decision - his career or Sam.
I couldn't believe it. The day was finally here, and the papers sat on my desk awaiting only my signature. Once I put my John Hancock down, then it would all be over. The largest part of me knew that in reality my life was just beginning and that everything would be new and different once this was done. The rest of me was stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that there could ever by life after the Navy. It had been my home for over 40 years, the only constant in my constantly changing life.
Now it was over. The Project was officially closed last week, and at my "advanced age" as they put it, retirement was now mandatory. Somehow 68 just didn't seem to be particularly "advanced" to me, but then what do I know. I'm probably just senile.
Yeah, right. Anyone who tried to accuse me of that would land on their ass in a hurry. I knew it was just the Navy's polite way of saying, "We've heard the rumors, and it would just be better for everyone if you rode quietly into the sunset now. Thanks for your support."
Well, as much as I hated it, they probably had a point. The rumors were true. Once the kid had finally made it home, we finally lived up to all of those rumors. Even alone in my office, the memories of the last year made me smirk and blush all at the same time. I think everyday over the last year I have thanked God for that obnoxious S.O.B. bartender. If it weren't for him, none of this ever would have happened.
Thinking back on the whole ordeal just reminds me of how truly fickle Fate and Time can be. I remember the date well. To Sam, it was August 8, 1953; to me, it was almost 50 years in the future. Sam had leaped as himself into this almost alternate universe. There he met this S.O.B. bartender who had the audacity to go by the name Al. Sheesh, talk about your psychological mind games. Anyway, by the time I got there, Sam was rattling on and on about the bartender being God. To top it all off, the schmuck told Sam that no one was in charge of the leaping, and Sam was the one in charge of his own fate. Needless to say, Sam was a basket case and all I wanted was to get him out of there. When I left to return to our present, little did I know that would be the last time I would see or hear from Sam for almost six weeks. Within minutes of me leaving the Imaging Chamber, Ziggy announced that Dr. Beckett had leaped and that she no longer had a lock on his position. We didn't even have a hunch for where to search for him. Hours passed as Gooshie and Tina worked frantically over Ziggy trying to find Sam somewhere, anywhere. Then things started to change.
Now the funny thing about when Sam changes history is that only Ziggy and I remember the changes. She insists that it has something to do with the neural link that exists between the three of us. All I know is that it is very strange. As things change, the new timeline fills in where the old one used to be, but the old one still exists in my memory like a faint echo. Usually, it was small things like support staff coming and going. Sometimes Gooshie and Tina are sleeping together and other times they aren't. Once something big did happen. Sam's former fiancée' appeared as his wife for a time before she blinked out of our lives again just as suddenly. Nothing could have prepared me for what blinked into existence this time. It was Beth and a life I had never known. One minute I was standing in the Control Room of Project Quantum Leap searching frantically for Sam and the next I was sitting in front of roaring fireplace with Beth in my arms. As that particular timeline filled in, I remembered Beth meeting me at the hospital when I returned from my POW days in Vietnam. I remembered leaving the Navy for her and going to graduate school and getting my own degree in engineering. I remembered having and raising four beautiful daughters. And I remembered meeting a nervous, shy young scientist named Sam Beckett on Project Starbright many years before. He and I had worked on some advanced holographic projectors together before he had left to start his own project in the desert of New Mexico.
I realized that this was the life that I would have led if Beth had never left me, never had me declared dead. Deep in my heart I knew that Sam had given this to me because he knew that was the one thing in my crazy life that I always regretted. Part of me was grateful, but the larger part was furious. What right did he have to remove me from the greatest adventure that I had ever had, from the greatest person I had ever known or loved? That's right. In the time I had with Beth and my "family" I grew to realize that the one person I truly loved in my entire life was none other than Sam Beckett. I had always carried a torch for Beth, no doubt because of the pain that surrounded losing her, but it was Sam that I truly loved.
All in all, I was with Beth for about six weeks. I must admit that it did give me closure on that aspect of my life, but I was seriously contemplating a having a midlife crisis so to speak and divorcing her when just as suddenly the world snapped back. I was standing in the Control Room again and Gooshie and Tina were frantically working. Disoriented, I asked Ziggy the date and time. Her response was approximately 2 hours after I had left Sam in the Imaging Chamber.
As I pondered how exactly that was possible, a cry went up from Tina.
"Al, I think we've got him! There's someone arriving in the Waiting Room now, and Ziggy says that it's Dr. Beckett!"
My previous thoughts flew from my brain as I ran to the Waiting Room. As I ran I chanted to myself, "Please let it be Sam. Please let it be Sam. Please GOD let it be him!"
I burst through the door of the Waiting Room to see Sam in his own body sitting up from the table in the center of the room. Before he could even speak, I grasped him in my arms and proclaimed, "You are never, ever leaving my sight again, you hear me Sam?"
Sam pulled back to look at my tear-stained face and said simply, "I love you too Al."
Later after the endless security checks, medical exams, debriefings, and parties, Sam told me what really happened during the time that we lost him. It was only 2 hours to rest of the world, but it was six very long weeks to me. As I suspected, thanks to that bartender, Sam now believed he controlled his own destiny, and he found himself on Beth's doorstep. So, he did what he thought was what I had always wanted, and he convinced Beth to wait for me. After that Sam went on leaping, and the leaps got progressively harder. He says they were made especially hard because I wasn't there. After just a few without me, he decided that he had made a terrible mistake, but without any way to rectify things, he sank into a deep depression. After a particularly bad leap, he found himself back at the bar with the bartender. According to Sam, the bartender gave him the option of returning to a life with me and giving up leaping forever or continuing without me.
That leads us back to the present. Sam gave up his dream, his life's work to be with me. Now it was my turn. I looked again at the papers sitting on my desk Without another thought, I signed them, folded them, and placed them in the envelope which my assistant would hand deliver to the Pentagon. What was a career compared to the one true love of your life? A small price to pay in my book and in Sam's as well. I stood from my desk and looked around the office that had literally been my home for the past six long years. I turned out the lights and headed for my new home with Sam.
I pulled up in our driveway to find all the lights off in the house. Intrigued, I parked the car and walked around the back to our deck. There a wonderful sight met my eyes. Candles surrounded the hot tub on the deck, and Sam was seated in the hot tub nursing a glass of champagne in one of the flutes given to us by Verbena after Sam's return home.
My mouth went dry at the picture and other parts of my anatomy rose to the occasion. Sam just gestured suggestively with a wicked gleam in his eye, "So, Al, now that you're a civilian, do I still have to address him as the little Admiral?"
Now, Sam knows that I can dish it out as well as I can take it. "Well now Sam, you know there's nothing little about him, " I leered back. I began a slow striptease on my way across the deck to the hot tub. By the time I reached Sam, all that was left was my boxer shorts.
With a suggestive look, he asked, "Hey, sailor, want a little help with those?" Without waiting for an answer, he pulled down my boxers and pulled me to my knees. Sam, ever the contortionist, then managed to position himself in the hot tub such that he started giving me the blow job of my life as I knelt by the hot tub. Just as I was about shoot in his oh so sexy and talented mouth, he stopped. Every muscle and nerve in my body groaned in protest.
Sam looked at me with his best puppy dog eyes, "So, big boy, why don't you come on in here and put that where it belongs?"
I shuddered with desire as I climbed into the hot tub. As I reached around to stretch Sam, I found him stretched and prepared. He obviously had been planning this little scene for awhile. I slipped my cock into his tight ass and we just fit. As we rocked together as one in the water, everything in the world seemed right. We came quickly, first Sam, then me as his ass clenched around my cock.
We sat together, wrapped in each other's arms surrounded by warm bubbling waters. I looked into Sam's eyes and asked, "Are you sure that it was worth it to come back to me?"
He answered with a question of his own, "Was it worth it to you to leave the Navy?"
We both knew the answer. Enough said. It was all just a small price to pay for the life we had ahead of us. Sam and I were one heart, one soul, and now had one life together.