|Two Roads Diverged
Author: running-still85 PM
What were AL'S THOUGHTS during "Mirror Image?" Sam/Al pre-slashRated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,319 - Reviews: 3 - Updated: 07-20-12 - Published: 07-16-12 - id: 8328194
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: There's no indication of slash yet but there will be later in the series so this is your "Enter At Your Own Risk" sign. If this is your cup of tea please feel free to enter.
Title: Two Roads Diverged. This story is the first out of ? in the series Reflections and Refractions
Disclaimer: The old song and dance: QL belongs to Donald Bellisario, NBC and MCA/ Universal
Rating:This story is part of a series. For now, it's rated G.
Dedication:J.D. Rush whose fanfic is like cannoli :0).
Summary:What were AL'S THOUGHTS during "Mirror Image?"
"Sam, oh Sam," the words floated in the air, released from my lips as I felt the world spinning out of control.
Back in 2000, I stood trapped in the white inner room, which now felt more like a holding cell, of the Imaging Chamber. Barred from having contact with Sam, I reeled, fighting a battle with an unseen foe. No matter what Gushie and I tried, I was not able to project my image since I had last seen him minutes, moments, it felt like forever ago. I had left Sam at that cookie bar with the promise that I would return. I had left in a desperate attempt to find answers to these maddening questions but when I got back I was greeted by none. I had solemnly told him that I would get him out of this situation. His faith in me ever sure, his trust solid, he knew that I would return. I swore up and down, frustrated at not being able to be with him at that moment. I could feel my emotions boiling up, escalating until I felt like I would topple over in an exasperated heap.
Just what kind of game was Big Al playing at anyways? Sam had begged me to believe him. I always have and I always will. Still, this whole leap had me unhinged. I could accept the theories that Sam came up with even if I didn't wholeheartedly agree with them because I knew him. If there was one guy that I could place my money on every time it would be Sam. But some loony bartender had even Sam unwired.
The people that Sam described in that bar, Al's Place. For one, the name of the bar in itself was screwy. Al, Jimmy, Frank, Ziggy, Gushie, Stawpah, except they weren't. Stawpah, why would he make an appearance? Sam wouldn't know about him, I never told him until moments ago. I wondered if somebody was trying to play with my head. Well I had news for them, I wouldn't let them. They weren't going to mess around with Sam's head either not if I had a say in the matter. Still, the question loomed. Who or what were those people? Pretenders, fakes, illusions? I didn't know, I didn't have any definite answers, I just knew that I had to get Sam out. This one was way out in left field. This whole leap was giving me the heebie-jeeebies.
Trapped back in the Imaging Chamber I could observe what Sam was experiencing but I couldn't get through to him. It was like watching a horror movie except I had so much at stake. What I saw only added fuel to my already charged and on edge self. Searching for answers Sam asked the bartender if he, himself, were really the one in charge of the leaps. Sam was reverent towards Big Al and would obediently believe the lines that he was being fed.
Big Al's answers always evasive, his reply was an analogy that only added to the mystery. "Priests can also take sabbaticals, especially before embarking on a difficult new assignment."
Difficult new assignment? I did not like where this conversation was heading. I saw the tears streaming from Sam's eyes. My gut clinched, my temperature rising. It was my instinctive reflex to be there for Sam at these times. Yet, for whatever reason, I was trapped. Feeling like everything was out of my control, I did something that I hadn't done for a long while, since I thought that Sam had been shot. I sank down to my knees, begging, pleading whatever forces were out there to let me be at his side, to even let me take his place. I closed my eyes, hoping for this to be a bad dream or a sick joke, maybe even a temporary glitch in Ziggy's system.
"Where would you like to go?" the Bartender held out an open invitation to Sam.
Oh Sam, you've done so much, whatever you want I'll be there for you. Up until my final breath I'll be there.
Sweet Sam, his voice coming through like a song, replied with one little word that meant the world, "Home." Then his voice got somber and the pain inflected in its tone was almost too much for me to bear, "I would like to go home."
I knew all the symptoms. Worn out. Tired. Fatigued. It was way past time.
"I'd like to go home but I can't can I?" was Sam's self-searching answer.
After all this time maybe Sam couldn't switch it off. He had been on adrenaline for so long. The sudden realization that there was an off button, it could throw him out of whack. After a marathon runner crosses the finish line they don't just stop. They couldn't just stop or else the momentum was enough to send them spiraling. Or a car, after a long road trip, the engine still gives off a hum as it tries to settle. Or me, when I came back from 'Nam. Upon first returning, I was still on hyper alert, my senses ever vigilant. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free (1), I recited. I vowed without a second thought, I would help Sam to ease into life back home, to make that transition, living life, facing each brand new day, was a great adventure.
"I've got a wrong to put right for Al," Sam unselfishly said.
Oh Sam. No, please don't. Not for me Sam, the words screaming inside of my head. I knew what he was alluding to. There was a time when I had asked him to save me from one of, if not, the biggest heartache that I had experienced up until that point. During that leap, I had felt the pain so keenly, so brand new, like a scar being ripped open that I wasn't thinking straight. I was only thinking of that moment, that fresh hurt. I was in the middle of it, feeling as if it was just happening. At that time I didn't think of the repercussions, what it could mean if Beth did wait for me. It could mean that I never met Sam, never formed the strongest or most meaningful bond that I ever had. It could mean that I never was part of the Project. I'd never get to see a dream realized or get to be a part of changing so many people's lives. Along with seeing the people's lives change for the better, Sam and the Project had made me stronger, had saved me. Had given me something to believe in.
I collapsed, the strength running out of me. All I could see was the white walls, white floor. It suited me: hollow and void. I wanted to stay right there, just like that. A living memorial.
Then I felt it pulling for me, tearing at me. With that jolt I realized that this was not the way to go. This was not what Sam would want and it certainly wasn't the Al Calavicci way. I had been a fighter all my life and that's the way I would go, up against greater powers than I've ever been. This was the way to survive, a way that I was all too familiar with. After I felt like my feet had finally touched the ground, I looked around at my surroundings, the familiar smell of alcohol and smoke filled the air. The bar a relic in itself, musty and well worn.
"What the hell is going on here?" I demanded to know. My eyes were intent on their target. The bartender didn't even look up, continuing to shine the glasses. I walked into the bar, in a blinding rage. As the soulful and enchanting voice of Lady Ella floated into the room, I could feel my beating heart slow down to the tempo of the music.
It's very clear
Our love is here to stay;
Not for a year
But ever and a day.
The radio and the telephone
And the movies that we know
May just be passing fancies,
And in time may go !
But, oh my dear,
Our love is here to stay.
Going a long, long way
In time the Rockies may crumble,
There're only made of clay,
But our love is here to stay. 2
Now, I felt a haunting pain emerging from my depths that washed over me. I had gone through a torrent of emotions in the last… How long had it been since Sam had first stepped into this bar? Entranced and delirious, I found myself too weary to stand. While I had the last vestige of strength in me, I took a seat at the bar.
"Beautiful song isn't it?" Big Al addressed me as he laid a glass on the counter. "One of the greatest duos in my book. Ira wrote the lyrics for the song after his brother George died," Big Al continued as for the first time he returned my gaze. "A living testament."
After a few moments of silence, Big Al started again. "What'll it be Al?" he deliberately asked. I didn't answer him; I had learned that in this type of situation when confronted with the captor it was best not to say anything. I refused to let him take control of the situation.
"You're a tough egg to figure out Albert Calavicci," he stated as he took a glass in his hands and stared at it as if he were measuring it up. He put the glass down on the counter between us. What was it with these damn glasses that held his fascination?
"Say that you're a betting man Al," he said at last, breaking the silence. Offering the scenario he picked up a different glass. "You know the players, you know the score," he confided taking the dishrag from off his shoulder. As he took the dishrag and wiped the smudges away from the glass, he spoke, "You'd bet on a sure thing right? Stack the books so that it would all work out in the end."
For a moment the room was silent. I refused to give him the satisfaction of answering him. Then I heard a click from the jukebox as a haunting melody started to play.
The whole day through (the whole day through)
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind) (3)
Beth. My mind went back to the last time I had seen her. How I had longed to hold her, feel her rhythm, her tempo, her breath against my skin. Caress her smooth skin against mine. Reassure her that she's always been loved. All of those wishes hadn't been possible. At first I wasn't even going to go in there, it would be too painful. Being so close to her, my heart and senses filled with only her and yet not even be able to touch her went right to me. After all was said and done, I was thankful to be able to see her standing there, right in front of me. Someone that knew me better than I knew myself had convinced me to live that moment.
Sam. I was way beyond the edge of too far gone. "Stop!" I demanded. Yearning for a past love and breaking apart in two. My mind too incoherent for words I let out a guttural sound as I took a glass and hurled it at the jukebox, satisfied as I heard it crash into a dozen little pieces. I was about to throw another when Big Al's hand caught my arm.
"I think there's something you should see," he gestured towards the middle of the bar. There, suddenly, was a projected image, dark for lack of light. My first love, pure, unbridled, something you never forget, standing in the room, swaying her hips in time with the music. I sat mesmerized, just watching her. I could tell he was there too before he gave off any indication. After all this time, I had learned to read his thoughts, his intentions even before he could.
"Beth," his earnest voice called out breaking my trance. "I'm not gonna harm you, I'm here to help you," he assured her. Strong, unselfish, heroic. Beyond bounds.
"You're a friend of Al's?," she inquired of him.
"Oh honey, the best," I answered although I knew she can't hear me.
I said a Georgia, Georgia
A song of you (a song of you)
Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in the peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you (3)
"I'm going to tell you a story Beth. A story with a happy ending. But instead of starting with once upon a time let's start with a happy ending. Al's alive and he's coming home," Sam told her.
"What about you Sam?" After a moment's reflection, I continued, "What would our life be like without…" I thought out loud.
"Two roads diverged," Big Al answered. "I just wonder, I wonder if this is what you would want," his words hit my ears. He looked down at the counter, taking the cloth to wipe away any spillage.
What did Iwant? The words went right to me. I knew what was happening but I didn't even know what I wanted. Why did it even matter? Sam the eternal Boy Scout was once again doing what he thought was right and I once again was along for the ride, as his co-pilot. Except so far for this one I had to sit the adventure out and it was driving me insane. Then again, it wasn't a stranger's life we were talking about here, it was my life.
I could feel his eyes sizing me up before he continued, "This quarter hasn't been played out yet, the ball is in your court," Big Al informed me. "There's one thing. Remember no matter what you choose, you're only one player. My question is 'What'll it be Al?'"
1. The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus
2. Love is Here to Stay, George and Ira Gershwin
3. Georgia on My Mind, Ray Charles