FUTURE LEAP / HOME AGAIN by Elizabeth A. Clinton Prologue Admiral Albert Calavicci burst through the Control Room door. "Anything?", he said to no one in particular. But they were all too busy to answer. Lights flashed, alarms from every console sounded, voices were raised in a cacophony of sounds. The Control Room was in a complete panic. Not overly tall of stature, what Al lacked in physical height, he made up for in indisputable presence. The overcrowded, extremely animated Control Room seemed to part for him without actually realizing that it was doing so, as he headed towards the Waiting Room viewing window. As he stood next to Verbeena Beeks and Donna Elesee looking through the one-way glass, he saw what he always saw. Dr. Sam Beckett, or at least his body, lying on the bed, for all the world looking like he was just sleeping. When Sam was moving between leaps, no one knew quite where he was, but that which was his physical being was always here. But this time, it was different. This time, Sam was coming home. He knew it, not only because of the commotion in the room, but because he could feel it. Sam was coming home, for good. The sound reached maximum proportions in the now tiny room. Everyone, it seemed, had a job to do. Everyone, that was, except him. If Sam was coming home now, his job would be over. And for the first time in a long time, he didn't mind the prospect of an assignment well and truly completed. There was nothing special to announce Sam's arrival back into his body. No trumpet heralds, no fireworks showering down from the sky, no pomp and circumstance. Just the usual signals that emitted from the computer who watched over him. "Admiral, Dr. Beckett has returned." That was all Ziggy said, her monotone voice never betraying the emotion that everyone else held close. Someone started to clap, but Verbeena quickly raised her hand, stopping them immediately. "What are his vital signs, Ziggy?" She spoke as if she did and didn't want to know. Sam looked fine to Al, and he just wanted to go in and finally greet his friend. After years of seeing and speaking to him, but not being able to reach out and touch him, Al just wanted to run in and give him a great big bear hug. "Dr. Beckett's lifesigns are diminishing." Verbeena had left her position at the window and was half way to the door before Ziggy could finish. "Medical team, stat!" She was the first through the door, and Al desperately wanted to follow, but let the medical team through first, knowing they could do Sam more good than he could. Finally entering the room, he could see that they'd already moved Sam from the simple bed to a gurney. He stood close enough to see, but was well out of the way. Two med techs had already started CPR. He could see that Sam's shirt had been ripped wide to reveal his chest. A third was inserting an IV line into his arm, while yet another tech was attaching small electric pads hooking them to a barrage of monitors; monitors that would tell them if Sam was alive, or dead. Verbeena was in complete charge, her medical training overshadowing her psychiatric. "IV - D5W and one milligram of atropine. Morrison, keep a close eye on those monitors. I want to know of any changes, got that." Morrison nodded. From where Al stood, he could only see the top of Sam's head and his feet, the rest of the Leaper's unresponsive body shielded by those who worked around him. A tech stood on the gurney, bent over, pressing hard on Sam's chest and counting while another breathed life into him. "One, two, three, four, five, breath, one, two, three, four, five, breath." "Dr. Beeks. His heart has stopped." The heart monitor's screen showed a flatline, its tone sounding the alarm. "Five milligrams epinephrine." A tech quickly moved to follow her instructions, injecting the contents of a needle into the IV tube. The CPR continued. Come on, Sam. I know you can do it. You didn't go through all those years of leaping just to come home .... He couldn't even think of the word. Al didn't pace, as was his usual habit, he simply stood in his spot, watching the med team, watching Verbeena, watching Sam. He nervously flicked an unlit cigar in one hand, rubbing the day-old stubble on his chin with the other. "He's in v-fib." "Defib paddles. 200." Her hands shot out. The paddles, covered with conductive jelly, were placed in them. A high-pitched whine filled the room, as the machine reached full charge. "Clear." Everyone quickly removed their hands from Sam's body, as Verbeena applied the defibrillator to his chest. His body flinched grotesquely as the electricity raced through it, and Al flinched with him. Worry and frustration at his inability to be of help when his best friend needed it most wore on his face. "No change." "Again. Clear." Another jolt, nothing. Al felt every bolt of electricity as if it were running through his own body. Verbeena's head bent, her stethoscope pressing against Sam's chest. "No pulse." The voice was Dr. Elesee's. Al could see her through the assembly of med techs and his heart wrenched. She shouldn't be a part of this. She shouldn't be watching Beeks send shockwaves through his body. But he knew that right now, she wasn't Mrs. Sam Beckett, she was Dr. Donna Elesee, and she was trying to save a patient. "Give him five more millies epinephrine." He could hear the popping sound of the vile and needle tops being dislodged, then pressed together, before the life-giving medication was pumped into Sam's body. "Set it to 400. Clear." More electricity, more uncontrolled jerking. "Again!" Another jolt. The monitor still emitted its warning signal. Those left in the Control Room had gathered at the window, hoping to see Dr. Beckett stand up and walk out past them, arm-in-arm with Dr. Elesee-Beckett. Minutes seemed like hours as they laboured beyond all endurance to save the man that, in reality, very few had actually met. Most of them had never been below the third level. Only a chosen few had ever been as low as this chamber, eight storeys below the surface of the New Mexico desert. Now they all were here, pumping more and more into the unresponsive, lifeless body of the man they only knew as Dr. Beckett, Director of the Quantum Leap Project. "That's enough," Verbeena spoke in monotones, her voice heavy with anguish. Morrison turned off the monitors and the room became deathly quiet. "Date and time of death, January 1, 2000, 12:33 a.m." Date and time of death? What did she mean by that? Sam can't die. He's home now. He can't die! It was New Years, 2000. The date intended to celebrate the birth of a new century had ushered in the death of Dr. Samuel John Beckett. Al stood, frozen to the spot he had occupied for what seemed like forever, his head buzzing, trying to process everything. The only sound in the two rooms was that of gentle sobbing. Everyone was holding someone. Everyone except Al. Those that stood around the bed stepped away. "What are you doing? Get back to work! Save him!" But no one moved back. His disbelieving eyes locked with Verbeena's. "Beeks?" "I'm sorry, Al. There was nothing we could do. We've worked on him for over half-an-hour. He came back already gone." "But, Sam ..." His voice trailed off, unable to complete the thought. Verbeena approached him, placing her hand on his arm, their eyes still holding. "I'm ... sorry." It seemed inadequate, but she could think of nothing more to say. She desperately wanted to console him, to wrap her arms around him, but she knew that was the last thing he would want. She lowered her hand, and walked slowly from the room. Al looked back towards the bed. The only one left was Donna. She held her husband's hand to her tear-stained face, softly repeating, "No, Sam, no". He could see the tubes and wires that hooked Sam up to the various machines. He could even see the small red patches on his chest where the defibrillating paddles had been. And he still couldn't believe Sam was gone. Donna slowly lowered Sam's hand, but held on tightly. She gently caressed his face with her other hand, moving the stray lock of grey hair from his forehead. Bending, she placed a kiss on her husband's still lips. Al's eyes searched the room as if looking for a miracle, but none came. He approached the bed that held the body of his friend, his feet dragging, barely moving with his body. Taking Sam's other lifeless hand into his own, tears streamed down his face. But he didn't care. Donna rose and turned her head towards the man her husband had called his best friend, asking with her eyes, "Why?" All he could do was gently shake his head, and whisper "I don't know."