"In Circles" - Epilogue

November, 2001
Santa Fe, NM

  Sam grinned affectionately. "It took you long enough," he whispered.
  Al shot him a playfully irate look. "Speak for yourself Mr. Lost-In-Time."
  "How much longer?"
  Al sighed. "I thought _I_ was supposed to be the nervous wreck. Geez...."
  "Nah. You've done this five times already, what's one more gonna do?"
  "Ah, you bring such value to the moment," Al muttered with mock disgust.
  "So how much longer?" Sam sat down in a chair and watched Al put the
finishing touches on his dress uniform.
  "Ten minutes. Now hush and if you're a good boy, I'll let you flip through
the Hymnal during the sermon."
  Sam made a face, then abruptly, he became serious. "I'm really happy for
you, Al."
  A small smile tugged at the admiral's mouth. "Thanks, Sam. For everything.
I mean it."
  "What are friends for?" Sam asked.
  Startled, Al glanced up and saw tears in his eyes. He crossed the small
room and studied the scentist. "You're not gonna get all mushy on me, are
  "Stupid question," Sam murmured and he stood, wrapping Al in an embrace
almost as fierce as the one Al had offered him over a year ago when he had
finally returned home.
  "You're acting as if you're dying," Al said, trying to cover his own
  "If there's one thing I learned from leaping, it's not to wait that long to
tell someone you care." Sam released him slowly, wiping his eyes before Al
could see him. "I guess we had better get out there, right? Number six," he
added in passive teasing.
  "No," Al corrected. "Number one."
  The ceremony was small and informal, an incredible contrast to the first
time around. Al, in his dress whites, stood out even more than Beth did. She
wore a plain cream sun dress and carried a bouquet of calla lillies.
  The past year had developed a friendship into something deep and perhaps
even more valuable then what they had had the first time around. He recalled
Sam's prophesy about where he would have been at this point had Sam not been
retrieved, and he was thankful that in helping Sam, he had also managed to
change his own future.
  The service ended and the reunited couple was the image of peace, at least
for the moment. Al was not naive enough to think that their past wasn't going
to complicate their present in any way, but they were both a little wiser and
he knew that they would deal with things as they came up. Sam had offered
Beth a position at Project Quantum Leap as the on-staff doctor to take some
of the pressure off Verbena and she had accepted. They were returning to
Charleston, however, for about a month for her to finish getting her affairs
in order there before moving. In essence, the first week in Charleston was a
honeymoon as Beth had taken the week off, but after that there would be the
house to sell and numerous loads of packing to attend to. Matthew and Brian
were there to help out, as well.
  But for the moment, Al was content just to be calm and peaceful for the
first time in a long while. Their first evening in Charleston found them out
on the porch overlooking the bay with champagne. The fall chill was in the
air and Beth had brought out an aphgan with them to help ward it off. The
light from the city dulled some of the stars, but the moon shone full and
bright over the water, creating a picture perfect image.
  He held her to him as they sat outside, filled with contentment. He looked
briefly down at her, then squeezed her arm. "You awake?" he asked.
  "Of course I'm awake." He could feel the smile.
  "Can I ask you something?"
  She sat up and looked into his eyes. They were just as deep and expressive
as they had always been, but there were subtle differences at what she saw in
them. "You can ask me anything."
  "Are you happy?" he asked, brushing her hair back with his palm.
  She smiled gently. Leaning forward, she kissed him once, tenderly. "What do
you think?"
  His expression softened and he stood up, taking her hand and leading her

cont. in "Pieces"

That's right, ladies and gentlemen...you said it would never happen. You
would have bet money on it, but here it is: I actually, yes, gave Al a
*gasp* happy ending!! The horror.... But there's still another story to
come. And if you've ready _any_ of my other things, you know it does not
bode well for poor Al. :) I hope to get it finished soon...soon being
within the next month (sorry to make you wait...got classes and 2 jobs
here...) and then get it posted. It's got LOTS more emotion and (so far)
considerably less action. I've tried to get in something for everyone in
this trilogy. So, thanks for reading and, until next time, keep the leap!