Epilogue - The Three Scientists
May 26th, 1995
The cake said that he was sixty-one. In fact, though, when David Banner added up all the years against what he knew of his own past, he realized with a start that he was, by some standards, as old as ninety-three. But seeing Bruce and Rick, the young men he'd taken and raised as his own, and Betty, who had turned to him ever more since General Ross's death in the Gulf War, he decided he felt twenty-three, if he felt even that old. Bruce's cousin Jennifer Walters, now known as She-Hulk for obvious reasons, kept David's grandchildren from rushing him as he blew out the candles.
Now rush him they did, and not far behind the kids were a gathering of Earth's mightiest heroes. One outstretched hand in particular made the elder Banner feel as though he belonged. Their early mistrust was a thing of the past.
"Thank you for everything, David. If you hadn't been there at Franklin's birth..."
"You'd have found another way, Reed. It's what the Fantastic Four does."
A man in a wheelchair nodded at David.
"I can't say everything's honey and roses, Doctor Banner. But people will always remember you shouting down that hateful bigot on 'Crossfire'. 'Our Children Are Our Children--Period.' Words to remember. Even Erik conceded its effectiveness, though it seems nothing can dissuade him from the paths of terrorism. Some mutants may make evolutionary claims, but our stubbornness still ties us in with the rest of humanity."
"The good fight remains the good fight, Charles. I once knew a man more stubborn than either you or Magneto could ever hope to be."
"A good man, I hope."
"The best. And a visionary, like yourself."
They were there for him, to thank him, these planet-shaking and planet-shaping titans. One passed by in a disguise that David saw through for reasons unique to his place of origin.
"Don't worry, David. Foggy assures me that the effort of Timely's successor companies to renegotiate your book royalties will fail. Your first compilation volume check should be in my office by next week."
"Thank you, Mister Murdock."
A flashbulb went off near David, revealing another familiar face.
"Sorry about that, Doctor Banner. Parker, Daily Bugle. Umm--I'm supposed to ask if you have any plans to rejoin the Avengers as an active member."
David shook his head. When Bruce and a group of other heroes had been thought dead, David acted and awoke his own latent Hulk mutation. But his time as a super-hero proved less than perfect, and once again reversing the mutation brought him much relief.
"No, Mister Parker. My son is the Hulk. I'm just a hanger-on at these hero conventions."
David did not hear Parker mutter 'yeah, right', owing to some help the research scientist had given Spider-Man. Next, a boy-who-was-not tried to greet David, but failed. Banner smiled.
"It's all right, Jerry. I'm glad you're here, too."
Once, the boy-at least his visual age made him look like a boy-- known as Gerald Henry Pym had been the Avengers' young star, a hero known as Warpwave. Despite the intense loneliness and fear he had exhibited, Henry and Janet Pym had helped the angry super-boy to trust again. Bruce had been happy for the teen Avenger, almost as happy as David recalled him being when his own adoption had occurred.
Then many dark secrets came to light. The 'boy' was a half-century old genetic construct, made from the DNA of victims of the Nazi Holocaust--and made by the Nazis themselves as a living pathology museum. The guilt and shame had nearly made Jerry autistic, with no recovery yet in sight.
The young man was referring to himself. David knelt down and looked at him.
"No. You're not a monster. You mustn't ever say that."
As the Pyms reclaimed their boy, Captain America bit down.
"Another victim of Herr Red Skull and his Fuhrer. David, I swear by Old Glory, Jerry will be the last."
David turned his attentions toward his own son, who gestured for him.
"C'mon, Dad. Field trip time."
"What kind of field trip?"
Bruce grinned, and threw some words back at David.
"Just trust me?"
"Since you put it that way..."
David was happy to play along, indeed, nowadays, he was happy for all he had. The heroes called him one of their own. Their children, even to the badly withdrawn Jerry, tended to call him Uncle. And he had accepted that his primary mission was a failure. It wasn't his fault. He'd even tried to duplicate the time-travel experiments he knew by himself, but some laws of physics were different in this universe, and it had never been his project, anyway. So David let himself be happy, because he really had no cause to be sad. The heroes and their civilian friends and family piled into the transport matrix, a minor effort of Reed Richards' genius and Tony Stark's generosity.
In the new, unknown place, David immediately felt a tug. In the distance, he saw Ben Grimm, another of those helped by the formula David had recreated to help Bruce.
"Stretcho, I'm gonna go and find the Federal Liaison to this shindig. He was my top-kick in the test-pilot program, back in the day."
A familiar twinge hit David again at Ben's words. He heard Henry Pym talking with Michael Morbius.
"Well, of course he's good. Besides, I think he's the only one out of our combined graduating classes not to have exposed himself to gas or radiation!"
"To think. We'll finally have a defense against the schemes of madmen like Doom, Kang, Zarko and all their temporal fabric-ripping ilk."
Betty was talking with Sue Richards as all were seated.
"She's supposed to be a genius, but she sure plays the ditz a little too well for my comfort."
"I just hope we keep avoiding that little guy. Talk about halitosis..."
David was putting the clues together, but he couldn't believe it. Yet. Bruce nudged him.
"The fellow in charge of all this was one of my college roommates. Would've flunked out one semester, if not for me. He devoured all that stuff you sent me on tachyons and wormholes. You mean I never told you about this guy?"
David smiled as he realized. By saving Bruce's soul, he had helped this other young genius make the cut where he would not have before, for whatever reason that was. Had Bruce been withdrawn like poor Jerry, he might never have been social enough to have roommates. It was time, he realized. It was at long last time.
"Later today--I'll tell you a little story. My story. The whole thing."
"Dad? Are you all right?"
"Never better, Bruce. Never better."
A young man stepped forward. He was not a super-hero. But he was on his way there.
"First off, let me thank the Banner family. Bruce, who kept me from being sent back to the farm, and David, whose notes on certain aspects of temporal science got my juices flowing, and whose 'Secret Angel' series will always be a favorite. Now, I will explain my theory. Our lives are a lot like this string I'm holding...."
And when he was done, the summation of David Banner's mission commenced, in the one place he had never thought to look, that being the obvious. For it was on that day, in a world of Marvels, in the New Mexico desert that a dream both began and continued onward into infinity. Whatever its specific outcome, David Banner wished his old friend well as the cycle began anew, even though this version of that old friend barely knew him. The men who were the Hulks watched, living in their self-made happy endings. Their colleague's initial effort is best summed up thusly :
Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator--and vanished.
The rest, as they say, is history yet to be re-written.
Dedicated With Tenderness To The Memory of Wilfred Bailey 'Bill' Bixby, 1934-1993, Our Physician, Our Scientist, Our Fugitive, Our Favorite, and Our Best Friend
A Leap In Anger : An artificial FAQ
by Rob Morris
These are the kinds of questions I think some readers might have about this story, given time. Hope it helps.
1 - Why do the back stories of these Quantum Leap characters differ from those I know from the show?
A : At the show's conclusion, Sam undertook one last on-screen leap, convincing Beth Calavicci to wait for her MIA husband Al to return from captivity in North Vietnam. The screen then stated that Beth and Al were still married to this day, and had four daughters. It also stated that Sam never went home. Yet, can that statement be forever trusted? When QL started out, Sam was not married to Donna Eleece, his brother died in Vietnam in 1970 and probably a few other things I've forgotten. Think how Tom Beckett's living would have changed or mitigated things. His and Sam's father died from poor health habits, among other things. But wouldn't the death of a son accelerate all this, and if that son were still around, could it not have mitigated it, maybe adding one to three years for Mr. Beckett? And if her father and two brothers were watching out for her, couldn't it have helped Katie Beckett avoid or at least more quickly escape her first abusive marriage?
While happily-ever-after is a bit much to expect, I believe Sam's leaps had laid the groundwork for a better world for him and those he held dear. Would a married man with a living brother and less harried sister have been the same man we saw when the show began?
And as for Al, imagine if his running-gag trips to court to deal with his many ex-wives were turned into soccer pick-ups, parent-teacher conferences, and the like. He still would have done things like ogle Marilyn (Not to be sexist, but who can blame him? :) ), but would he have given the same advice here and there? We don't know. It is safe to say that the changes would have affected how he met Sam (Not if, but when--Batman always finds a Robin).
So where does this take place? I'd say in about the seventh to fourteenth cycle of changes, with the loop resetting each time Sam makes a change. So in the current 'original history', Tom Beckett returns home, but loses his platoon in the battle (interference by Lothos?) and is bitter, ala 'Born On The Fourth Of July'. Sam's task this time is to save the unit from an all-out ambush. It's been speculated that Sam's acts made Al a prisoner longer, but is that the result of every leap cycle?
So in this cycle, Sam and Donna met in college, not at Starbright, and Sam saved Al's marriage from his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the 70's, instead of saving Al's career in the 80's.
And so forth. One life touches another, especially the lives of those closest to you.
2 - Why is David Banner alive in 1991, when we saw him die in 1990 in the third TV-Movie?
In short, Bill Bixby never meant TDOTIH to be the last movie. That's just how it worked out, sadly. I just came up with a scenario I hoped was similar to what they might have done in a 'Rebirth' movie. The agent he fell in love with was played by Elizabeth Gracen, an actress who also played the Immortal Amanda on 'Highlander', and this story hints that her ID in the TV-Movie was one that was foisted on her, and she recovered her memories after.
3- Sam and David knew each other before their adventures began?
They did here. It involves some stretching, but not too much.
4 - Sam has leapt into people with all manner of differences and conditions. Why did the Hulk affect him in this way?
Part of its artistic license. It wouldn't be much of an Xover if Sam didn't become The Hulk. Plus, as we saw on QL with Oswald and a few others, strong personalities still have an effect on Sam.
5 - I never heard that David's sister Helen Banner (Diana Muldaur) died.
In the last movie, David told Dr. Pratt that he and his wife Amy were all the family he had left. I extrapolated the loss of his sister from that, and a scenario was borrowed from another Nicholas Corea/Kenneth Johnston show, 'Walker Texas Ranger', to explain how she died. It was either that or have her step down an empty elevator shaft.
6 - Does Sam transfer bodies or swap images with the leapees?
For my stories, Sam is only seen as the leapee. The body explanation seems contradicted by many later episodes.
7 - Why was David, except as the Hulk, able to be seen as himself?
One part of it was foreshadowing. An indication that the usual rules did not apply, leading to something bigger. Another part of it is that if Sam swaps images with his leapee, and that leapee has an alternate form, do all the usual rules apply? My answer was to compromise.
8 - Why was Ziggy almost sinister in some parts?
Ziggy's always been spoken of as mercurial and selfish, and I'm sure at times that can seem quite off-putting.
9 - Who was that evil being who appeared as Al?
The devil, or a devil-like being such as The First Evil on 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' or The Millenial Demon on 'Highlander The Series'. Possibly also the sponsor of Project Lothos, in some fashion. I know many fans regard Lothos' origin as lying in Sam's babbling in 1969 to some dirty secret agent types. Since that is never made clear, I stand with what I wrote.
10 - Could David have really fingered Jack McGee as having caused the 1977 fire?
With forensic techniques as they are, quite possibly. With Ziggy's aid? David could have told Jack what sort of soup he had for dinner the night before the fire.
11 - Which Peter Parker was that who saved Jack at the last minute?
Marvel Comics and CBS-TV only ever got four of MC's heroes to the small screen. TIH was obviously the most successful. Captain America had two or three TV movies, though the character was in this case too far removed from the comics' character to ever catch on. Doctor Strange had only one TV movie, closer to canon but no cigar. The two TV-movie Hulk co-stars (Daredevil and Thor) also never caught on. Spider-Man had his own series, but very briefly.
For the purposes of my story universe, people with vast powers tend to keep them quiet. So Thor and Don Blake ended their quest, and Daredevil caught Wilson Fisk. Doctor Strange died young, opposing the Master from 'Buffy'. Captain America prevented the deadly 1982 barracks bombing in Lebanon, at the cost of his own life. Then came Spidey.
This version of Peter Parker is different, IMHO. His Jameson just never seemed quite as obsessed with labeling him a public menace. His Uncle Ben's death was not caused by any action of his. There was no Fantastic Four or Avengers to aid. No Green Goblin, No Ock, No Vulture, etc., probably meant that when he hung up his suit, no one really noticed, and he was not tricked/guilted etc into resuming his career. His last sort-of love interest on the show (No Gwen or MJ here) was a woman named Emily Chan, played by MASH/Star Trek vet Rosalind Chao. For the purposes of my story, they eventually married, making RC Mrs. Klinger, Mrs. O'Brien and Mrs. Parker as well.
12 - Which Marvel Universe did David leap into?
One where the Modern Age Of Heroes begins in the late Cold War, thus still keeping it recognizable to older readers. Betty Ross is a scientist, as she was in two cartoons. David kills the abusive Brian Banner (In the comics, Bruce's father's name--NOT David, as in the 2003 movie's 'tribute') and saves that MU from the savage Hulk. Little differences range from David's presence affecting the Avengers' origin to a young, troubled hero named Warpwave, strictly my creation to represent a second-or-third-tier hero like often populates the Avengers. David is helping him in the best tradition of Quantum Leap and The Incredible Hulk.
Well, I hope I covered it all. Thanks!