Quantum Leap "A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal" Chapter 3 Alex Hathorn entered his apartment in Alamogordo, New Mexico, just a few miles away from the Project Quantum Leap Complex. It had been a long day at the complex, with all of that data inputting and with Dr. Beeks and the Admiral getting on him about his problem. "What do they know about it anyway?" he asked aloud as he walked into his kitchen. "What isn't there to accept?" He poured himself a glass of Coke from a two-liter bottle. "I've got AIDS," he said with a tight jaw, walking into his living room. "The bitch gave me AIDS!" he screamed, throwing the glass, causing it to shatter against a wall and spray Coke across the living room. "The bitch!" he repeated over and over as he knocked down lamps and chairs, breaking light bulbs until, finally, the only light in the room was coming from the kitchen light and the outside street lamp. "Hey! Knock it off up there!" a female voice called from below while a male voice echoed the sentiment from above, making Alex realize what he was doing. He slumped onto his now glass-covered couch. "Gaddamit!" he exclaimed, on the verge of tears. He took a deep breath before releasing his pent up emotions with tears. "Oh, gawd," he moaned softly. After a few minutes, he finally looked about the wreckage he had wrought, wiping away salt water from under his eyes. "Look what the heel I did," he told himself. He gave a brief laugh. "Shit, Alex! Look what the hell you did. Now, you've really got a night ahead of you." Instead of listening to his mind, which told him he had to clean up the mess, he went into the kitchen again, this time for a scotch on the rocks. Having finished pouring the drink, he went back into the living room. Glancing something out of the corner of his eye, he walked towards the wall. Hanging on the wall was a picture of a beautiful young woman with brown hair and green eyes. Alex raised his scotch to it. "Here's to the woman who fucked up my life!" He laughed at the dual meaning of the toast before taking a drink. His face became somber as he stared at the photograph, drinking his scotch. It wasn't long before he found his glass empty. He went once again to the kitchen, this time bringing the bottle of scotch out with him. He grabbed the photo from the wall and carried it with him to the couch, placing the photo and the bottle on the coffee table in front of him. He then proceeded to slowly and very deliberately empty the bottle, all the while staring at the photograph. ******************* The nauseous feeling was back again, this time worse than before. He felt as if his head were about to explode as he climbed the stairs in the house, hurrying to the bedroom and, thus, to the pills in the nightstand. Arriving in the bedroom, Sam opened the nightstand drawer hurriedly and picked up the bottle. Sitting on the bed, he looked at the bottle with almost hypnotic fascination. The pills were everything. One pill gave him everything he needed: peace of mind, tranquility, and ease from the nausea that kept coming back and threatening to take him over. He opened the bottle and placed a pill in his hand. He watched the pill intensely. "Don't do it, Sam," a gentle, worried voice told him. Sam hesitated. One part of him was telling him to listen to the voice. Another part of him begged him to take the pill. He moved his eyes from the pill to the man in front of him. Despite the yellow pinstriped suit, the man didn't look in the least bit jovial. "What the hell are you doing here?" Sam asked. "Looking after my partner and my best friend," Al answered. "Do you know what are in those pills?" Sam put the lid on the bottle with defiance. "Of course, I do." He stood up and headed towards the bathroom. Al followed him. "I don't think you do, Sam. If you did, you wouldn't be taking them!" Sam ignored him, pouring himself some tap water. "Sam, listen to me!" Al demanded. Sam glared at him. "Don't you have something better to do? Like spend the night with Tina?" He deliberately popped the pill into his mouth and washed it down with water. Al closed his eyes and turned his back on Sam in disappointment. Taking a calming breath, he turned back to Sam, looking at him with disgust, softened slightly by sympathy. "Don't you want to find out why you're here so you can leap?" "No," Sam told him bluntly. "I'm tired of hopping from one time to another, fixing other people's mistakes! I'm happy here, Al! I've got a great job, good friends, a wonderful house, and no worries about whose problem I have to fix this time!" "But, you're not happy, Sam! Not really!" Al emphasized. "It's those pills! They numb you up! Make you think you're happy! But I know you too well, Sam, and I can tell that, deep down inside, you're miserable!" Sam glared at him. "Get out of here!" he said with vehemence. "Go back to your cigars and your women and your booze. Go and don't come back again! Just get the hell away from me!" Al sighed, looking at him with strong disappointment. "You know, I lied to someone this morning." Sam huffed. "Headline news!" Al looked at him firmly. "I told him that I don't give pity. But I was wrong. I pity you, Sam. I pity you because there's a war raging inside of you between the real you and the you that's slowly being taken over by Byron Zetter." "There's nothing wrong with me!" Sam exclaimed. "I'm in complete control!" Al huffed with skepticism. "If you're in such great control, prove it." "What do you mean?" Sam asked with suspicion. Al looked at him intensely. "Go one day without taking one of those pills. Twenty-four hours, starting tomorrow morning, without taking a single pill. "Why not start tonight?" Sam asked, challenging. "Because you've just taken one," Al replied. "I want to see how much control you're in when you don't have that stuff in your system." "You're on," Sam agreed to the challenge. "I'll be beside you the entire time," Al warned. "Go ahead," Sam told him. "You'll see." Al opened the Imaging Chamber door. "See you in the morning," he told Sam. He stepped backwards through the door and closed it, a concerned look on his face. Once the Imaging Chamber door was closed, Al turned around and headed down the ramp to the Control Room. "Gushie, where's Dr. Beeks?" Al asked, approaching the control console. "In the Waiting Room, Admiral," Gushie told him. "I think she's planning to spend the night in there." Al looked towards the Waiting Room. "The guest is in pretty bad shape, huh?" "Apparently so," Gushie told him. Al exhaled in frustration. He was tired - very tired. And he had a very long day ahead of him. He looked at Gushie. "Why don't you go on home, Gushie? It's late." "What about you and Dr. Beeks?" "I'll handle it," Al told him. "Go on." Gushie gave a quick shrug before obeying. He left the Control Room. Al waited until Gushie had left before going into the Waiting Room. What he saw shocked him into a halt. Verbina Beeks was indeed with the guest. In fact, he was holding his shaking form on the floor. "It's okay, Byron," she was saying gently. "It's okay." "No, it's not!" Byron exclaimed. "It's not fucking okay!" He pulled away from her. "I need those pills!" Al closed his eyes. It was too eerie. It was Sam's face, Sam's voice that was screaming and Al knew he would see it again. At least, in a bizarre way, he hoped he would. But, the next time, Al doubted that there would be any physical support like the kind that Verbina was giving Byron. "No, Byron, you don't need them," Verbina said, looking up and noticing Al's expression. "You're strong. You can do this." "What if I don't want to?" Byron asked defiantly. Al noticed the attitude immediately. More than ever, he was now certain that the leap had indirectly given Sam his new addiction. "But you do want to," Verbina said. 'Not now,' she mouthed to Al before continuing. "You're a doctor, a surgeon. You want to save lives, not destroy them. And you know you can't help people if you continue to hurt yourself." "I just want this horrible feeling to stop," Byron muttered. "Please, make it stop." "It will stop," Verbina told him. "I promise. But you have to give it time." She looked back to the door and noticed that Al hadn't moved. She stood up slowly. "Don't leave," Byron begged. Verbina looked at him gently. "I'm going to get you some water and a pillow. Will that help?" Byron hesitated. "I guess." "Okay," Verbina answered. "I'll be right back." She walked to the door and led Al out of the Waiting Room. "Al, what's wrong?" Verbina asked, leading him with her as she crossed through the Control Room. "I was just wondering how Sam is going to handle what Zetter is going through," Al said softly. Verbina sighed. "Walk with me," she instructed. "And tell me what happened." They left the Control Room and headed for Verbina's office. "I caught Sam popping a pill," Al told her. "Or rather I caught him just as he was about to pop one and I was unable to stop him." He exhaled in frustration as they entered her office. "I know I can convince him that he has a problem. But how can I successfully get him to go through what Zetter is going through without physical support?" He emphasized the question with a clenched fist being pulled down. Verbina hesitated in her scavenging for pillows. "That's a tough one." She took a breath. "I'm not sure you can," she told him sympathetically. She held two pillows out to Al, who immediately took them from her. "On the other hand, this is Sam Beckett we're talking about. He has a lot of courage and a lot of mental strength when he wants them. And he has you. Whether you realize it or not, your being there will have the most impact on him." She filled a plastic pitcher with water and grabbed a couple of plastic cups. "But he's still human," Al told her. "I just can't see how I can be able to help him with only words." Verbina gave him a reassuring smile. "I know you'll think of something, Al. Sam couldn't be in better hands, even if those hands can't physically touch him." "I hope you're right, Verbina," Al told her. "Because this whole thing scares the hell out of me." He left the room, carrying Verbina's pillows for her. Verbina followed him out with the pitcher of water and the cups. "Did you tell Sam why he's there?" "No," Al replied. "He was too wrapped up in his self-focused attitude to give a damn anyway." Verbina looked at him condemningly as they re-entered the Control Room. "I'll tell him," Al promised. "I just want to make sure he's sober enough to understand what will happen if he doesn't do something." Verbina's expression softened at Al's response. She nodded with understanding as they approached the Waiting Room door. Al placed the pillows on the ramp. "I figure you'd rather I were not seen by Zetter. It might scare him a bit." Verbina nodded. "Thanks." Al gave her a quick nod before heading for the Control Room door. "Al?" Verbina put in. Al turned to face her. "Be careful with Sam," she told him. "If his condition is anything like Byron's, he'll need to be handled very carefully or his condition could become worse." She looked at him firmly. "He could even die." Al took a deep breath before nodding slowly in acknowledgment and leaving the Control Room.