The Bartender sat watching Sam Beckett's face and listening to the voice of his soul.
He watched with understanding as Beckett looked into the face of his own personal truth. As he cried for the brother who would not come home, for the woman he loved, whom he would never hold in his arms again, for all the things he had taken from leaping, and the cost of each of them.
...As Sam now lay down all that was his, for the sake of a friend.
He listened with compassion to the breadth of Sam's pain as he grieved.
"Home. I want to go home. But I can't, can I?" Beckett whispered.
Compassionate eyes looked into the stricken hazel ones.
No, Sam, not this time. You can't escape the goodness of your own heart, or the certain knowledge that you must make right your own great wrong.
Not this time, because you know you denied him out of fear-- out of the fear of losing him. Out of the desire to keep him with you, out of your own personal need. Not this time, because you took for yourself, and even then he continued to give. First, he offered his career for Donna, then his freedom, for Tom. All this and more, he has offered for the love of Sam Beckett...
He has never faltered in his love for you. But you, in your desperate need to make your own life right, have faltered many times in your love for him...
The Bartender's heart ached for Sam Beckett as he made his choice.
"I have a wrong to put right, for Al..."
The compassionate eyes grew bright. The Bartender's heart filled with love, and he willingly took Sam Beckett's grief and pain into his being, and suffered with him.
"You knew that, didn't you?"
Oh yes...Why did you think you were here, Sam?
And when he felt Sam's tender heart begin to break, he put a protective arm around the child whose love was so infinite, and watched, deep within himself, as history reformed itself...
And took with it everything Sam Beckett ever called 'home...'
"God Bless, Sam," he whispered, his eyes filling with tears.
The Indiana farm boy went to his destiny.
And the Bartender wept.
He was there.
For the second time in his lifetime, Sam Beckett stood in Al Calavicci's living room. He watched Beth dancing her lonely dance and grieved for the choice he'd once made, to keep her from her one true love, for all time.
Sam had convinced himself that he was not there for them, but it wasn't true. He had to believe that, because the price of Al's happiness had been far more than he'd been willing to pay, then...
It hurt. Deep in his soul it hurt, but more than that, despite his betrayal of Al and Beth, it hurt more to know, to remember, what Calavicci had sacrificed for him.
That terrible moment, long ago--when he looked down at Maggie Dawson's Pulitzer prize-winning photograph and realized that not only had Al been denied Beth yet again, he'd also willingly given those six years of hell in exchange for Tom's life--still had the power to make Sam almost physically ill, just thinking about it.
When he was allowed to remember...
Beckett felt battered.
As he watched Beth turn, his insides twisted with the terror of knowing that afterward he would, in all probability, not remember Admiral Albert Calavicci. That staying with Beth could take Al in a direction far removed from Quantum Leap and Sam Beckett. That, whatever happened in the next few minutes, he would be losing the Al Calavicci that he'd grown to love as a friend and a brother.
Many of the events that had shaped them both would simply not happen after he changed history this time.
Home would cease to be...
Beth finally realized he was there.
"Who are you..?" She whispered.