"Linked" Epilogue ~~~~~~~~~~~~ February, 2001 Stallions Gate, NM ~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Oh, no," Al whispered. "Please, God, no." He fell to the floor of the chamber and looked about himself. He was the only one there. "Al?! Al!" Someone was frantically calling his name. He looked up as the door slid open and Beth burst in, threw herself down beside him, and hugged him for all he was worth. "Beth," he murmured in disbelief, as if he thought she'd been gone - remarried, abandoning him, or vanished altogether in a puff of logic. He felt as if he'd been away for 30 years, not 30 minutes. "Did it work?" She pressed his head against her shoulder. "Yeah. Yeah, you did it." Only when she confirmed that did he return the embrace, feeling at peace, even if he hadn't been able to bring Sam back with him. She pulled him to his feet and wrapped his arm about her neck to support his slow progress into the Control Room. He felt as if all the recovering he'd done the past week had come back to exact revenge. It really did feel like he'd been pulled in two directions when he'd grabbed onto Sam. They crossed the threshold into the Control Room and he stumbled, bringing her halfway down with him. She grunted and he heard her call out, "Can someone help me, please?" The focus in the room shifted abruptly from Sam to him and strong hands guided him to a chair. "Al!" Verbena yelled firmly, using her best mother voice. She pushed through the small cluster of people. "You could have gotten yourself killed. What were you thinking?" "I thought..." He hesitated, felt Beth's gentle squeeze of encouragement, and took a deep breath. "I thought I could bring Sam home." She shook her head at him, then sighed deeply. "Why do I even bother?" she asked of no-one. "Well, I'm glad you made it back. Now go away. Go take a nap, something, okay?" "Yes, ma'am," came the meek response. He waited until the crowd cleared and then clenched Beth's hand. "I'm glad you came back." "Did you think I wouldn't?" she asked in genuine surprise. "Al, will you try and get one thing through your thick skull?" He raised an eyebrow. "You're my husband and I love you." "I love you, too." He stood, waiting for balance to return as the effects of the leap wore off, then he kissed his wife and let her lead him home. And, as he felt her tender touch on his back, he made up his mind not to tell her about the thin veil of emptiness in a small corner of his mind as Sam drifted between leaps. He knew, though, that it was a connection that would never go away. +And that does it for that one.
I hope you enjoyed it. Turns out I'll be at the aol addie a little longer so this or any of the other 2 addies will be fine if anyone has any comments/compliants . I guess I'll start sending in my next one sometime next week - it's called "Rebirth". Until next time.... -amkt