Chapter 30 "Retrieving.. Now!" Gooshie exclaimed as the program ran it's course. The hum from Ziggy's console grew louder. Al crossed his fingers, something he rarely did, not since he had been a child. The whole room held it's collective breath as the blue-white light grew brighter and brighter. Then with one last flash, the retrieval cycle ended. The last lingering effects faded and all was quiet once again in the Waiting Room. No one spoke. "Process completed, Admiral." Ziggy broke the silence. "Dr. Beckett has returned." Cheers broke out from anyone within hearing distance. That included Gooshie, Tina, Verbena and some assorted military personnel and technicians. Al felt his knees go weak. Did he hear that right? Sam was back? It had worked! This time something really worked! He took a step towards the Waiting Room. Verbena caught up to him in three steps and stopped him. "Al, I know you are anxious to get in there, but remember, I still have to debrief him and do a complete psychological profile. Also we don't know how much he will remember. So just be careful." Al stepped around her. "I'll try. I've just got to be the first person he sees." He didn't know why it was so important that it be him, but it felt right. He palmed open the door, and entered just as Sam was stirring on the bed. Al crossed to the bedside. "Sam? Sam you all right?" Sam raised one hand to his head. "Ohh.. my head." He still had his eyes closed. "Where am I now, Al?" "Open your eyes, Sam." Sam sat up carefully and opened his eyes. He stared at the blue walls of the Waiting Room. A dawning realization crept across his face. "Am I... Can I really be..." He didn't say it. He couldn't bring himself to say it. "Yes, Sam." Al said it for him. "You're Home." His eyes watered at the words and the emotion behind them. He held out one hand. Sam stared at the offered hand. He slowly reached out his own. His hand clasped Al's, the warm flesh contacting warm flesh. You never know how much you miss the contact of someone close to you until you can't touch them anymore. This one touch spoke volumes to Sam. He pulled Al to him, enfolding him in a big bear hug. Al responded with his own tight embrace. "Easy, kid." He spoke into Sam's shoulder, his voice muffled. They sat that way for a moment, each reveling in the feel of actual contact. Sam finally broke the embrace. He gazed at Al, still not believing it was true. Sam's face was wet with tears. "I'm Home. I'm finally Home." He said the words as if it were a magical place. Al handed Sam his handkerchief as he wiped his own tears on his sleeve. "Yes, Sam. You're Home. Welcome back." His voice was gruff with emotion. Sam took the handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes. Through his haze of tears, he noticed that someone else had entered the room. Sam hopped off the bed and ran towards the door. He grabbed Donna, twirled her around and kissed her. "Donna, oh Donna. I'm home." He breathed in between kisses. "I knew you would come back. I knew you would keep your promise." She kissed him back over and over again. Then she wrapped her arms around his waist, holding him tightly. They stood that way for what seemed to be an eternity, each getting the fill of contact that had been denied for 5 years. Then Sam's legs gave out and he fell towards the floor. "AL!!" Donna exclaimed, trying to hold her husband up. Al reached Sam's side and helped Donna bring Sam back to the bed. "Sam? What happened? You okay?" Sam laid his head back against the pillow. "I'm okay. Just a little dizzy. This is such a shock." He took a deep breath. "I'm getting my memory back." Donna kneeled by the bed. She stroke the hair that fell across Sam's forehead. She twirled the single lock of gray. "Good. Then you'll remember all your promises to me." Sam pulled her down and kissed her again very passionately. He couldn't seem to get enough of her. She was just so beautiful. Al finally had to separate the two of them. "Saaam. Save some for later. Sheesh." Both Sam and Donna had to laugh at that. Donna turned to see Verbena entering, carrying the baby. She got up and retrieved her child as Verbena went to hug Sam. "Welcome home." "Thanks Verbena." Donna brought the baby over and placed him in Sam's arms. "Meet your son, John Albert Beckett." Sam looked down at the life he helped created. Little Johnny looked up at his father with wide-eyed innocence. Sam bent down and kissed his son. When he looked up again, everyone was wiping away tears. "Oh Donna, he is so beautiful." He placed one finger in the baby's hand. Johnny clasped it tightly. A memory flashed in Sam's mind. Him. Rocking another baby. He blinked in surprise. He closed his eyes and tried to remember more. Donna was watching him closely. "Sam? What is it? What's wrong?" Sam opened his eyes and looked directly at Al. "How could you?" Al was taken aback by the change in Sam. "How could I what?" "You pulled me! You yanked me out before I could fix it!" Uh-oh, Al thought. He remembers. "Sam, please understand..." He didn't get a chance to say more. Sam had turned back to his son. With a final kiss he handed the baby back to Donna. Then he raised ice-green eyes back to Al. "You left. You walked out the door and left me there. Then you pulled me. I specifically asked you not to!" "Sam, calm down!" Al sat on the bed. "We didn't have any choice. The Committee was going to pull the plug! I made the only decision I could given the circumstances." Sam backed away from Al. "You messed up their lives!" His tone was quiet, but accusing. "I did what I had to do to save your hide, Sam!" He got right in Sam's face. "Life is ugly and cruel sometimes. People get hurt and people die. Not everything gets wrapped up nice and neat with a pretty bow on top. I'm sorry if you don't like my decision, Sam. But I did it because I care." Al then got up, turned and left the room. Donna got up with the baby and went after him. Verbena turned to look down at Sam. "That wasn't very nice, Sam." "Neither was what he did." Verbena sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm only going to say this once, Sam. That man that just left here has put himself through Hell for you. He bent over backwards to keep this project going for you. He has had to kiss up, pardon my french, to many Senators and Congressmen. He stood in the Imaging Chamber for hours upon hours at a time while we tried to locate you. So many hours that he was starting to have nightmares from it." She watched Sam's face. "He's come close to a breakdown many times. The last time being when you were in the coma. He blamed himself for that, because he was helping me while Donna was giving birth here. Yes, Sam here. Johnny was born in my office." She told him at his look of disbelief. "He couldn't be there for you. He was too busy with your wife. No, things may not have gotten wrapped up where you could see it. You owe that man an apology and a heck of a lot of respect, Sam." Sam opened his mouth to say something but Verbena stopped him. "Oh, and one more thing, Sam. I took the liberty to check with Ziggy before coming in here. Jessica's mother did take Kelly in, and Jessica too. It seems that Jessica was afraid to contact her mother and vice-versa. You helped bring them back together. Her mom helped her get a good job and helped raise the baby. So everything did turn out all right after all. There is a good chance you would have leaped right after her mom had told you. Now what do you have to say for yourself? Sam looked down, totally ashamed. "I guess I do owe him an apology." Verbena nodded. "You bet you do." **************** Donna had caught up to Al at the elevator. "Al, come back. He didn't mean it. You know he didn't" Al turned towards her after pushing the button. "You saw his face, Donna. He sure as hell DID mean it." "He's just confused and hurt. Al don't leave like this. You've been friends for way too long." She rocked the baby gently as he was beginning to get upset. "He doesn't seem to remember our friendship, or anything I've done for him. Just remembers how I screwed up again." The elevator doors opened with a ding. "Sorry, Donna. I'm not going back in there to hear how much of a screw-up I am." He stepped in the elevator and let the doors slide shut even as Donna protested. She sighed and headed back towards the Waiting Room. Upon entering she saw Sam and Verbena talking. They both looked up as the door opened and she saw Sam's face fall. "He's gone. He left even as I tried to explain." She went to sit by Sam's side. "He'll be back. You guys have been friends for way too long for him to stay angry long. Once he cools off, he'll be back." Sam looked down at his son and back up at his wife. "I hope so. I've finally gotten what I have dreamed of for so long. I'm home. I've got my love, " he hugged Donna, "and my baby boy." He kissed his son. "If I only had my best friend, I'd have it all." He looked at the door which remained shut. End Stay tuned for the sequel - Best Friends Forever - due out in 2001!!