Quantum Leap:
The Unrightable Wrong by Rebecca R. Baker

Chapter 11

February 1962

         Al did not leave the Imaging Chamber that night. He already had a chair, reading material, and cigars in preparation for a long haul. Only the cigars were put to use. He was not sure when or if Sam's state transferred from a traumatic trance to sleep. Eventually, Al gave into a much resisted sleep as well.
         In a few hours, he awoke.To his dismay, Sam was still lying on the floor shivering every few minutes, now curled into a fetal position. He shook his head a the sight. The room was lit only by the rising sun shining through the draperies. He wondered how battered Sam was, unable to tell in the dimness.
         Sam had edured many physical confrontations while facing people intent on harm. Usually, he could get the upper hand, if nothing else through his martial arts training. However, none of the attacks he had faced before packed the emotional wallop of this one. If only he hadn't been drugged. If he hadn't been so terrified of that nozzle. But ifs did not matter. Charles Whitfield clearly had an emotional advantage that left Sam powerless.
         "What?" Al called out. "Yeah, send her in."
         The door opened, surrounded by light, and Verbeena stepped through. It shut again with a whoosh. "When they told me you did not come out last night--" she stopped when she saw Sam. "What happened?" She knelt down to him, her medical training dictating that she check his vitals, something impossible to do on a hologram.
         "Charles Whitfield happened," Al began. "Remember that drink he gave Sam, the whiskey mixture?"
         She nodded and Al explained it's contents and their effects on Sam, how the Becketts got involved, and Charles' reaction to it all.
         Verbeena shook her head. She had dealt with worse cases, but she was not immune to the stories of abuse. It still got to her when she heard about children being beaten and molested. It was something that she rarely had to deal with on Project Quantum Leap and something she did not miss handling.
         "And now, as you can see, Sam is very un-Sam-like." Al motioned toward the him on the floor. He would never have imagined seeing Sam Beckett in such a vulnerable, defeated position.
         "Very," she agreed. "Or so it would seem.. Actually, this is as much a part of Sam as his genius, his bravery, his ethical standards, or his appreciation for a good Elvis song. It's just not a part that he's shown us before."
         Al cocked one eyebrow, slightly irritated and slightly interested. She was definitely entering high gear psychobabble mode.
         "Fear. Denial. Repression. Something kept him from ever telling anyone about the trauma he experienced as a little boy. But pushing it away doesn't make it unreal. It just delayed some of the response to it."
         "Some?" Al repeated.
         "Any truama effects you, whether it's consciously or not. Responses following trauma reflect it in some way."
         Al thought about Sam's personality, wondering if there was something that could have cued him into the truth before now. Sam was unusually uncomfortable with the subject of sex. Al had always assumed it was because Sam was shy and less experienced than himself. He had once told him that sex was not talked about in the Beckett household. Maybe that's why he never told his parents, Al reasoned.
         "Now that the memory has surfaced, he hasn't had time or the opportunity to really experience the gamunt of emotions that result from such an incident."
         "But you got him to realize it wasn't his fault." Al argued, thinking that moment had been an emotional cure-all epiphany.
         "That's just one little part of healing, Al. My educated guess is that the threat of another sexual attack at a time when his physical state would not allow him to defend himself, served to reinforce in his mind that he is powerless against Charles Whitfield, or for that matter, he could feel powerless against anything that threatens him."
         "But, he's been gone for hours. Why won't Sam wake up and at least get himself a blanket? He's going to get pneumonia."
         "He can't."
         "Get pneumonia?"
         "Wake up. This isn't sleep, at least not normal sleep. It's one of the many possible symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. His mind has shut down, so to speak. This way, if or when the attack occurrs, it doesn't register consciously. It's automatically blocked out. It's never accepted."
         "Doesn't he know hours have gone by?"
         "Probably not."
         "So when will he wake up? He's got to get out of here before Sleezoid wakes up and comes back here to finish what he started."
         "I don't know, Al." She looked back at Sam, "And when he does come back, he may not be the fearless hero, ready to take on the world for a good cause, that we know him to be."
         "Then what should I expect?"
         "The very real feelings of a traumatized eight year old little boy to surface."
         "You mean he's going to be Tommy like he was Samantha and Jesse and Jimmy?"
         "No, no, not Tommy's feelings, Sam's feelings. I expect him to be at least slightly regressed."
         "In English, Dr. Freud?"
         "It's like his mind will go back to the part of him that's an eight year old victim of abuse," she paused a moment. "Do you remember in the barn, how Sam's voice changed slightly and how real and immediate those memories seemed?"
         "Yeah, with his memory--"
         "Even people without photographic memories often relive trauma as if it were in the here and now. There was a bit of regression then, like the way he kept asking you for to hurry back.
         He was more dependent on you than he usually is, or at least I assume he's not usually that dependent." She really had no way of knowing, since she did not routinely observe any interaction between the two men. However, past observations of the two of them working together has indicated a very equal relationship. In fact, it seemed that Al was the only person on the project who was not at least a tiny bit intimidated by Sam's genius.
         "No, not usually." The time in the asylum compared, but this was different. Sam was reaching out to him as Sam, not as Sam emerging behind other personas.
         "Maybe if you talk to him, remind of him things that are more pleasant he'll come out more quickly," she suggested.
         Al sighed. It seemed suddenly difficult to recall a good memory that he could share with Sam. "We've had some good times together. I just can't think of any of them right now. It seems like all we do now is fight off bad guys, make wrongs right, live little pieces of other people's lives... and you're the one whose actually doing something. Hey, Sam--I just realized I'm a cheerleader. Well, that's one thing you haven't been, yet. Although it might not be such a bad idea... you leap into a cheerleader and I can enjoy watching your squad. After practice, that is, when you go back to the locker room and--."
         "Al," Verbeena cautioned. "Keep your libido under control. Stay away from anything sexual."
         "Oh, right," he agreed, slightly embarrassed by her reprimand. He had almost forgotten she was there and in his mind's wanderings, he had almost forgotten why he was there.
         "Never mind about the cheerleader. I know a good memory! Remember when you took me to visit your family in Hawaii that Christmas. Your mom and Katie were wonderful to me. I swear, your mom made me feel like she was my mom. Probably the only beautiful woman I ever didn't want to---" he stopped, realizing where his mind was going. "Anyway, that was the best Christmas I'd had in years, since Beth." He referred to his one true love, a woman who had believed he had died in Vietnam and remarried.
         He was silent a moment, trying to remember their experiences before Sam had Leaped the first time. Normal life was so far in the past, that it was difficult to recall. "Working on the Poject. How many slices of pizza have the two of us consumed while trying to work out the kinks. Nothing beats grilled chicken, though does it? When all else fails... grilled chicken," he laughed to Verbeena's bewilderment. The chicken in the cafeteria was not very good, and she could not fathom anyone enjoying it that much no matter how late at night or how much work was being done.
         "And when you told me about your plan for making Ziggy a biocomputer. I-yi-yi. With our DNA, no wonder she's a monster. Hey, wait a minute. I just realized something. Ziggy's been calling you her father all these years, but I'm her father. You're her mother," he laughed. "You nurtured her, brought her to life... I just gave a genetic donation. Besides, you're the one who wears the dresses in this family."
         Everyone on the Project was amazed at just how Ziggy had come to life. Sam had used his own brain tissue, and some of Al's for good measure. That assured the two of them could be connected on the Leaps. It also gave Ziggy her unique personality. Most of the staff members concurred--they were each glad to not be Dr. Beckett's best friend\guinea pig. Verbeena smiled, amused at his observation. She could not help but notice his use of the word family. Family was one area where Al Calavicci had little good experience. It was a word he rarely used about himself.
         Another hour passed. Al did his best to babble on about whatever came to mind, as long as it was innocent. As the sun rose, it lit the room and revealed just how battered Sam was after so many slaps and punches.
         Sam heard Al's voice, making it safe to come back. He opened his eyes to find Al and Verbeena staring at him with concern.
         "Sam, Buddy, how are you?" Al asked, kneeling down to his friend. He knew better than to ask if Sam were "all right" because the answer was obvious. Verbeena kept her hand on Al's shoulder to bring in her image. She did not want to surprise him with her presence again.
         Sam looked up to Al, memories of the night before began to flood his mind. He saw Charles standing over him, felt his slaps and punches, saw the unzipped jeans, "Oh god!" he cried out, "He tried to do it again. I couldn't fight. I couldn't move my arms." With the onslaught of memories, came fresh panic seizing his chest.
         Al nodded. Verbeena had told him that it was best if Sam remember what happened, rather than blocking it out the way he had the incident of his childhood. He needed to deal with it as soon as he could.
         Sam touched his face and winced, "He hit me over and over and over."
         "I know," Al did not need anyone to remind him of that. It was burned in his memory and Sam's black and purple blotched face easily reminded him of how he could only watch the brutal attack. In the light of morning, he could tell that Sam's lips were busted and his eyes were swollen. There was dry blood caked in streaks and matted in his hair.
         Sam sat up, biting his lip as pain surged through his chest and abdomen. He slowly reached out to the bed and pulled the patchwork quilt down to wrap around himself. He was silent as the pain shot through him, but his expression was easily read by his friends.
         "He kicked you," Al told him.
         Sam shook his head, "I don't remember that."
         Good, Al thought. "How bad does it hurt?" he asked, afraid there could be fractured or broken ribs.
         "Bad," he slowly rubbed his hand across the sorest area, jerking as he touched one spot. "They're not broken," he announced, "But, there must be a fracture or two in there."
         "You need to go to the hospital," Al told him.
         "You really do," Verbeena agreed. She was kneeling close to him, checking his pupils as well as she could without physical contact or better lighting.
         "Yeah, and then Tommy's x-rays will show an adult skeleton. God seems to foget things like that when He allows someone to beat the shit out of me. I can't get help, not as a child, not as a woman, only as a man, and only if I'm lucky enough to have the same blood type."
         Al was taken aback. It was almost as rare to hear Sam curse as it was to hear Verbeena curse.
         "Are you angry with God?" Verbeena asked. It was a perfect opening for counseling, to help Sam deal with any anger, whoever it was geared toward.
         "Why would I be angry with God? He won't let me Leap in here in time to change my own past with Charles Whitfield. He won't let me be alert enough to defend myself when someone tries to kill me and He won't let me go home." Sam's words were filled with resentment. After all, had he not done enough of what was expected of him? If he could change so many things for so many people, why could he not change something that had caused himself so much heartache? Why did it seem he could not help the himself or the people he loved?
         "I think going home is exactly what you should do," Al interrupted Verbeena before she could respond to Sam. There was not time for a heart-to-heart.
         "What do you mean?" Sam asked. "If I could go home, I'd be there now and none of us would be here."
         "Go home--to your parent's house. Tell them what Charles Whitfield did to you. When they see you, they'll get Tommy the help he needs and you can get the hell out of here."
         "I don't want them to know."
         "They don't have to. They'll think you're Tommy. Just tell him what he did to you while you've been Tommy. They never have to know what he did to you, unless you want to tell them." It was obvious that Sam was not going to find anyone to help Tommy by staying at the Whitfield farmhouse.
         "I don't."
         "Sam, you can't stay here. You're tired and in pain. Even with the whiskey wearing off, you can't defend yourself. You have to go somewhere safe for your sake, as well as Tommy's. If Whitfield wakes up and is even a fraction as angry as he was last night, he might come back."
         "He's right," Verbeena agreed. "You need to get away from this situation." Getting to safety was the first thing to advise any person in an abusive situation to do.
         Sam used the matress for support to pull himself to his feet. He stood still a momnet, waiting for the pain that shot through him to subside. It might not have been quite as bad to have the fractured ribs if he were not so stiff from a night on the hardwood floor.
         "Take it easy," Verbeena warned. "You're recovering from a concussion and your equilibrium may be off."
         Sam nodded. He used the bed and furniture to brace himself as he put on some clothes. Soon, he was dressed and ready to leave. Before climbing out the window, he grabbed his mother's thermos of soup and the quilt.
         "Cold and hungry?" Al quipped.
         "Yeah. And Tommy's mother made this quilt. I want him to have it when he gets back." He was not sure how he knew about the quilt. Maybe Tommy had told him. Maybe he was just picking it up from the Leap.
         Sam was very quiet as he raised the window. It squeaked, of course, but not too loudly. He was glad there were no storm windows or screens to make things more difficult. He first set the thermos outside, then crawled through the window. His feet hit the ground with a crunch on the snow and he pulled the quilt through the opening and wrapped it around himself again. A memory of a fleece lined leather jacket he had once owned flashed through his mind, taunting him with what he could not have.
         Fortunately, the Beckett farm was not more than a mile away. Still, that was a long way to walk in the cold snow with cracked ribs, aching muscles, a headache, dizziness, and nausea. He managed to get away from the Whitfield farm without disturbing any of the animals, including Charles Whitfield. About midway between the farms, he stopped. He sat down by a large cedar tree and opened the thermos. The nausea from having not eaten in over a day was overwhelming.
         "Sam, try to get to your house, kid. It's not much farther," Al encouraged.
         "I can't," he panted. "I hurt and if I don't eat something, I'm going to start dry heaving and that would be excrutiating."
         Surprisingly, the soup was still lukewarm. To Sam, it was like manna in the desert. He drank a little of the broth, letting it settle before attempting anything more. Leaning his head against the tree to rest, he noticed for the first time what an odd sight Verbeena was. She was wearing a short-sleeved red dress, surrounded by snow. "Aren't you cold?" he grinned.
         "Freezing," she laughed.Though her visual surroundings could convince he otherwise, she and Al were really quite comfortable in the Imaging Chamber. Ziggy had not gone on any energy and money saving rampages lately. She had been known to shut down the heating and air conditioning when funds were threatened.
         "C'mon, Sam," Al coaxed after ten minutes of nervously waiting while Sam rested. If Whitfield discovered Tommy was missing, he could easily track the footprints and catch up with them faster than Sam could get away.
         Sam got up slowly. He wrapped the quilt around his shoulders and plodded along. "I'll be there in a few minutes. It's not much farther. I had to get something in my stomach." he told Al. Part of him did not want to go home. He did not want to face his parents and tell them what was happening in their neighbor's house. He was afraid that they would somehow see through him and know that it was not Tommy Whitfield standing before them seeking help. He feared the truth would come out whether he wanted it to or not.

Chapter 12

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