Quantum Leap
"A Time to Hurt, A Time to Heal"
Chapter 14
      Sam could sense the figure beside the bed even though his eyes
were closed. He opened his eyes and looked to his right to see Al sitting
by the bed and smiling.
      "How are you doing, kid?" Al asked gently.
      "Getting better all the time," Sam told him with a smile. "Thanks,
Al," he said sincerely.
      Al smiled. He knew Sam was referring to the past few days. "You're
welcome, Sam." He paused. "Bet you're ready to leap."
      "Why haven't I?" Sam asked.
      As he said this, Linda walked into the room.
      "Good morning, Byron," she greeted. "How are you today?"
      "Much better," Sam told her. "Thank you."
      She smiled. "Good. I hear this substitute they got for your class
is a real drag. The sooner you're on your feet again, the sooner we
students can actually learn something." She set a tray on the nightstand
by the bed. "Will you be okay if I study downstairs? I have some homework
to catch up on."
      Sam smiled and nodded. "Sure."
      Linda nodded and smiled at him gently. 
      "Just call me if you need anything."
      "You're here for Linda, Sam," Al told him as Linda left the room.
      "For Linda?" Sam questioned. "Why? What happens to her?"
      Al exhaled. "It isn't good. She graduated and goes on to get her
doctorate. She marries Aaron Harmon in 1981 and is currently the Dean of
Psychology at Berkeley."
      "And this is bad?" Sam wondered.
      "Well, her public life may have gone uphill but her private life
went downhill. Turns out Aaron has a bad temper. He beat her a lot for
making little mistakes. She didn't have any close friends at the time so
she turned to heroine."
      Sam sat up in shock. "What?! Al, she just helped me with...."
      Al nodded. "I know. But people do strange things."
      "So what can I do? That won't happen for another fourteen years,"
Sam pointed out.
      Al paused. "She's in love with Byron," he told Sam with a raised
eyebrow. "That's why she came here in the first place. She saw you in
withdrawal, recognized the signs, and came here to help."
      Sam looked at the door. "She's in love with me... Byron?" he
      Al nodded. "You got it. And we're pretty sure Byron loves her too.
But he's a little afraid of what the university will say to his dating one
of his students. So, after the end of the semester, he quits the
university and focuses on his hospital work. The two never see each other
again and Byron does some serious time for his morphine accumulating."
      "So what does Ziggy say I have to do?" Sam asked.
      "Propose to her."
      "Propose?" Sam's eyes widened.
      "There's an eighty-nine percent chance that, if you propose,
they'll get married. Byron will turn himself in for using the hospital's
name to get his morphine. He loses his medical license but the hospital
drops the charges so he does five years community service instead of
prison time. Apparently, all of this will do them both good because
together they'll start a drug rehabilitation clinic and Linda still gets
her Dean position."
      "All by a proposal?"
      Al nodded. "All you have to do is propose. Byron won't."
      Sam thought for a moment. He stood up from the bed and walked to
the bedroom dresser. Opening Byron's jewelry box, he took out the smallest
ring he could find and returned to the bed. Covering up, he called for
Linda to come up.
      ?Linda walked in a minute later, a concerned look on her face when
she saw that Sam hadn't eaten his lunch.
      "What's wrong, Byron?"
      Sam could now see what Al meant by her loving Byron. Her eyes
showed genuine concern for Byron's well being.
      Sam smiled at her with assurance. "Nothing's wrong. I have an
important question to ask you."
      "What is it?" she asked, sitting beside the bed.
      Sam got out of the bed and got on his right knee.
      "Byron, what are you doing?"
      Sam didn't answer as he took her left hand. He slipped the ring on
her finger, even though the ring was much too large on her tiny fingers.
      "Linda Cartwright," Sam said, looking at her firmly, "will you
marry Dr. Byron Zetter?"
      Linda laughed in amusement. "This is a joke, right?"
      Sam shook his head slowly.
      Linda looked at him. "Dr. Zetter, I know we've been in close
circumstances in the past week. But..."
      "I love you, Linda," Sam interrupted. "I have even before you came
here and I think you feel the same way."
      "Well, I..." Linda started nervously.
      "Say you'll be my wife, Linda," Sam told her.
      "What will the Dean say to your marrying one of your own
      "I don't care. I'll probably lose my job but I don't care."
      She looked at Sam carefully. She then looked at the outrageously
huge ring on her small finger. She smiled. It was so big, it would be
comical if it's meaning weren't so serious.
      She looked at Sam again.
      "Dr. Byron Zetter," she said softly, "I, Linda Cartwright, will
marry you." She kissed him passionately on the lips, obviously having
wanted to do so for a long time. She leaned herself forward on her kiss,
causing herself to fall on Sam as the two collapsed on the floor.
      Both of them laughed at the situation. Al laughed with them
slightly, amused.
      Linda looked into Sam's eyes. "I love you, Byron." She kissed him
again. As she did so, Sam was surrounded by a blue light and was instantly
replaced by Byron Zetter.
      "I love you," Linda repeated.
      Instantly, joy swept over Byron.
      "Linda," he whispered. "Linda Cartwright."
      Linda shook her head.
      "Linda Zetter," she corrected just before Byron gave her a very
passionate kiss.
      Alex was sitting at his lab table, typing in the latest set of
data on Sam's last leap.
      "Hi," a voice said from behind.
      Alex smiled. "Hi," he replied without turning around.
      "You okay?" Al asked, approaching him.
      "No suicidal tendencies, if that's what you mean," Alex told him,
turning around with a smile.
      Al looked at him carefully and with concern.
      Alex stood up. "I'm fine, Al. Really. Verbina and I are doing some
sessions together and she keeps a sharp eye on me. Besides, I don't think
I'm quite ready to be reincarnated. I thought I'd wait a few more years.
Like when I die."
      Al didn't say anything for a moment. He smiled slightly.
      "I can always tell when you're telling the truth. You're always
pretty blunt with your words when you are."
      Alex shrugged. "One should never have to cover the truth." He
huffed. "I shouldn't be talking, not with how I acted to you, Verbina, and
the others."
      Al shrugged gently. "It's in the past. Don't worry about it." He
looked at his watch. He exhaled with realization. "I'm going to be late
for my lunch with Tina." He smiled at Alex. "Care to join us?"
      Alex raised his eyebrows. "Isn't this one supposed to be because
you missed out on your last lunch together during Dr. Beckett's leap?"
      When Al didn't say anything but gave Alex a couple of raised
eyebrows, Alex laughed.
      "I think I'll pass for your sake," he told Al. "Tina might not
like my being there."
      Al laughed. "I guess you're right." He started towards the lab's
      "Hey, Al!" Alex stopped him.
      Al turned with a questioning glance.
      "How about later for drinks?" Alex suggested.
      Al paused thoughtfully. He nodded. "Sure," he said. "That is if I
haven't been called to duty." He turned back towards the door and exited
the lab.
      Alex nodded with understanding before sitting back down at his
computer. He still had a lot of data to put in before starting his
analysis of the latest leap.
(Warning: The following scene takes place after "Mirror Image")
October 2005
      Al limped down the hallway of the fifth level of the complex. Even
though he had been officially retired from the Navy for the past year and
a half, he still returned to the complex every day for work. After all, as
long as Sam was still leaping, the complex would still need him.
      "Good morning, Admiral," Gushie greeted as he walked down the
hallway, coming towards Al. Gushie instantly noticed the limp. "Are you
all right?"
      Al laughed. "I'm fine. My grandson and I were playing in the back
yard yesterday and he accidentally hit me in the shin with a stick."
      Gushie smiled. "How's Mrs. Calavicci?"
      Al smiled. "Beth's doing great but she's driving me nuts wanting
to see my shin. I think maybe..."
      "Al!" a voice shouted out urgently.
      Both  Al's and Gushie's heads popped up to see Alex hurrying
towards them. AIDS had taken most of his hair away and now caused him to
tire easily but he nonetheless continued to work. Right now, however, he
looked frantic.
      "Alex, what's wrong?" Al asked, going towards him with concern.
      "This," he said, giving Al an electronic pad. "I've been running
an analysis every year on the effects leaping is having on Dr. Beckett.
Before, I never noticed anything but this last leap brought everything to
      "Wait a second," Al said, looked at the pad carefully. "According
to this, all of Sam's life signs are slowing down: heart rate, respiration
- everything."
      Alex nodded. "His metabolism started slowing down a couple of
years ago but we never noticed it. It's a side effect of leaping for a
prolonged period of time, like when an astronaut stays too long in space."
      Al frowned. "So, Sam is weakening more and more with each leap."
He paused. "Which explains why Sam was so exhausted after that last leap."
      "Al," Alex said firmly. "Leaping is having a drastically negative
effect on Sam." He paused with trepidation. "Unless we find a way to bring
him home and soon, his body will slow down to the point where his brain
isn't getting enough oxygen." He paused. "Al, Sam will die!"
To be continued in "Circles of Fate"