Episode 1224

The Calm Before The Storm

by: Mike Bloxam


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Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top-secret project known as Quantum Leap.  Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the Project Accelerator…and vanished.


He awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own.  Fortunately, contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the Project Observer, who appeared in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear.


As evil and neutral forces alike do their best to stop Dr. Beckett’s journey, his children, Dr. Samantha Josephine Fulton and Stephen Beckett, continuously strive to retrieve their time-lost father and bring him home permanently.  Despite returning home several times over the last decade, Dr. Beckett has remained lost in the time stream…his final fate no longer certain.


Trapped in the past and driven by an unknown force, Dr. Beckett struggles to accept his destiny as he continues to find himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong with the hopes that his next leap…will be the final leap home.




As Doctor Sam Beckett remained suspended between leaps, something unusual was nagging at his thoughts.  It was as if the unknown force that controlled his journey through time was weakened – the blue-white nexus of energy had something “off” about it.

“Is something wrong?” Sam asked, hoping to receive a response from the other voice that often accompanied him during his rest period.  Although time was meaningless in the dimension, which was still completely mysterious to Sam even after all of his years of leaping, it seemed like ages before he received a response.

“Do you think something is wrong?”

If his body had not been scattered atom by atom in the blue expanse, Sam would have sighed in frustration at his question being answered by another question.  Instead of losing his patience, the quantum physicist simply answered, “There’s something different...  I don’t know what it is, but this place feels... wrong.”

Hoping to hear a response, Sam waited once again.  None came before he felt a familiar tug as the only warning he had that his impending leap was about to begin, the tug that was the sensation of his being starting to reassemble.  The whining sound began to deafen him once again as his body prepared to take over someone else’s in an attempt to fix their life for the better.

As the sensation of leaping in began to fade out, Doctor Beckett regained his senses and started to see, smell, touch, and hear his new environs, the second of which hit him immediately:  it was the undeniable scent of death.  Glancing around, Sam knew immediately from his time at medical school that he was in an autopsy room.  There was nobody else in the room... nobody living, anyway.  The sight of a body with its chest peeled back hardly made Sam flinch, but the sudden sound from behind him startled him more than Al, his guide from the future, normally did.

“Agent Cunningham, I see you finally made it down here,” a middle-aged Caucasian man in a white lab-coat stated flatly as he passed by and went to the autopsy table.  Sam noted that his garment bore a black nametag reading Smythe in white capital letters.

“Uh, yeah, I guess I did,” Sam answered whilst trying to shake off the shock he was still feeling from the doctor’s sudden appearance.  Raising his eyebrows while he waited for Doctor Smythe to finish whatever it was he was doing at the table, the time traveller was eventually presented with a sealed plastic bag with what looked like pieces of metal inside.

“As you requested for Forensics,” the doctor announced as Sam took the bag and inspected the contents through the clear plastic.  “I really don’t know why you’re so particular about this case.  I don’t see any connection to the serial killer.”  Searching for something to say in return, the leaper continued to look at the bag.  “I... just want to make sure,” he eventually replied, trying to sound convincing.  “Thank you.”

Smythe simply nodded and turned on his heels to return to his work at the autopsy table.  Figuring that was his queue to leave, Sam left the laboratory and entered an empty hallway before taking a second glance at the contents of the bag.  Fingering lightly at the pieces, he knew almost right away what they were:  bullets.  “Oh, boy,” he muttered.





Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

19:51 MST


Beth Calavicci had barely left her husband’s side in the infirmary ever since he had been rescued along with her stepdaughter Julianna.  Rear Admiral (upper half) Al Calavicci, retired, hadn’t moved under his own will in over five days.  Although there was brain activity, the injuries he sustained during the plane crash prevented him from regaining consciousness.  All that Beth could do was wait until her husband showed signs of improvement, all the while hoping and praying that every following minute would eventually bring good news.

“Why?  Why him?” she whispered to herself for the thousandth time as she brushed a few stray locks of Al’s greying hair gently with her fingers, while the fingers on her other hand maintained a strong grip on his left hand.  The former chief physician of Project Quantum Leap could feel tears beginning to well up as she looked upon the admiral’s peaceful expression.  “I would give anything to gaze into his beautiful brown eyes right now.”

Squeezing her husband’s hand tighter, Beth wiped away the salty water that was beginning to slide down her cheeks.  They had been married for over forty-six years and she was going to be damned if either of them didn’t live to see their golden wedding anniversary.  Memories of all the years they had shared together continuously raced through her mind... their courtship, engagement, marriage, times of separation, reunions, the birth of each of their daughters.  “Our children,” Beth said in a hushed tone.  All four of the girls and their own families came to the complex as quickly as they could when they heard the news.  With plenty of extra guest quarters, all of the Calavicci family was determined to be near their patriarch’s side until he regained consciousness.


Aside from the family, many people around the complex were naturally worried about his condition, about what would happen to Sam and the Project if Al didn’t make it through the coma... at that point in time, she could have cared less about Quantum Leap.  Beth Calavicci only wanted her husband to wake up.



Naval Investigative Service Headquarters

Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 18, 1967

10:08 EST


Sam had no idea where he was going.  The doctor in the autopsy room mentioned that the leaper’s host had requested the bagged items for forensic evaluation, so that gave Sam some clue as to what he was to do with the bloodied bullets contained in the plastic bag he held tightly in his right hand.  He would just have to find someone to give him some direction, which usually fell on his observer, Al.  The time traveler stood in the hallway for a good five minutes, hoping that somebody would walk by to aid him, but nobody came.

Eventually he gave up and approached the elevator.  The silver doors gave a distorted reflection of his host, but he could see that Agent Cunningham was of similar height and build of Sam himself.  After a moment of trying to get a better look at the leapee’s face and failing, he pressed a metallic button that lit up a tiny red light in the middle of it when he released his finger.  The doors to the lift opened right away and he stepped inside, finding that the buttons on the panel within were only labelled with numbers for floors.  “Oh, boy,” he mumbled and decided he might as well go for the ground floor.

When the doors opened for him again, he exited the elevator cabin to find himself in an office with desks lined up, almost exactly like in the old police movies he used to watch when he went to the movie theatre in Elk Ridge as a kid.  Whenever he wasn’t watching the newest science fiction flick, his attention was drawn to the world of cops and robbers.  Half of the desks were occupied with men dressed in suits, some with their sport jacket draped on the back of the wooden office chairs and a hat placed on a corner of their desk.  “What was the name he called me?  Cunningham?” Sam mused as he glanced around at the nameplates that sat on the front of every desk.  He eventually found Cunningham’s desk toward what seemed to be the “back” of the office, given that all desks were facing the same way.

Settling down at his temporary desk, which was made of a heavy wood that had been stained an even-heavier color, Sam placed the bag with the bullets carefully toward the middle of the desktop and began the search for Cunningham’s day planner.  To the leaper’s further chagrin after flipping through everything on the desk and searching all of the drawers, it seemed that his host had no such item.  “Must keep a mental schedule,” the scientist muttered to himself.

“That’s just a recommendation, Aaron,” said a voice from behind with a chuckle.  “But keeping a written schedule sure won’t get in Pearce’s good books if some Soviet spy gets ahold of it.”

Sam turned in his chair to face the person who interrupted his innocent self-directed comment.  The man had thick-rimmed black glasses and dark-blonde hair that was strictly slicked back, and he sported a friendly, if goofy, grin.  He had the same cookie-cutter dark-toned suit and white shirt that everyone else in the office was wearing, except that his tie was a bright yellow in stark contrast to everyone else’s subtle blues, greens, and shades of grey.  “Yeah, you’re probably right,” the leaper agreed.  Glancing at the evidence bag before meeting the hazel eyes of the other man again, he hoped that maybe his newfound companion would help him out.  “I was supposed to take this evidence to Forensics, but I couldn’t remember if I had something else to do now.  Guess I need some more coffee to wake up.”

The smile on the other agent’s face widened slightly.  “Not a bad idea.  We were up pretty late last night working on that fresh body that Smythe has down there...” he said, letting his sentence trail off before stepping closer to take a better look at the evidence that Sam was talking about.  “So these are the bullets from our John Doe?”

Hoping it wasn’t a lie, Sam nodded his head reached to pick up the bag.  He was surprised when the yellow-tied agent beat him to it and dangled it in front of him.  “I’ll take these on down to Forensics.  I was on my way there anyway,” he stated cheerfully.  “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, Aaron.  Your old buddy Elliott’ll take care of this one since we’re finally working on a case together again.”  Before the leaper could even give Elliott his thanks, the agent turned around and jeered, “You just get your coffee and figure out your day!” before heading off for the elevator.

Shaking his head with a smile at the amount of energy the man seemed to almost emanate, Sam got back up from the desk and searched out a source of coffee.  There was a kitchenette not too far from his desk where he found a small refrigerator, a water cooler, a toaster oven, and the appliance for which he was seeking: a coffee pot.  Taking one of the generic mugs from the cupboard above, he filled it with the black brew and inhaled some of the scent before taking a small sip.  Finding it too bitter for his tastes, he added some cream and sugar.  “How did I take my coffee before I started leaping?” Sam thought, wondering if the “real” him preferred his coffee black or with sweeteners added.  For some reason he now found himself wanting a hot cup of tea.  “Did I even drink coffee?”

Lost in his thoughts, the leaper headed back to his host’s desk and consistently worked on getting the caffeine into his system.  Although Sam himself felt wide-awake, the little white lie he had spun to excuse his “forgetting” Cunningham’s schedule for the day had to look realistic.  Again, the time traveler’s thoughts floated back to his occupation for the past dozen years.  How many lies, no matter how large or small, had he told in order to get out of a sticky situation?  He certainly didn’t remember doing that in his pre-leap days.  As a scientist, one of the most important aspects of the job is to be absolutely truthful about your research, your findings, your opinions.  To do otherwise would ruin your credibility and possibly cost other people their jobs or even their lives, especially when it came to medical research.  Even though Sam’s primary field of study had been quantum physics, he kept up with the medical journals and how certain medications were flawed because of greed or ignorance on behalf of some corporation.

Sam Beckett lived his life as honestly as he could before that fateful day in 1995, and yet he found himself thinking back on all of the falsehoods that he had invented in order to get to a certain goal during a leap.  He recalled calling Al an angel, a ghost, a figment of other people’s imagination... his coffee was empty by the time the various thoughts had sifted through his Swiss-cheesed memory and was wondering if he could be cured of his chronic lying when he finally returned home.

“Cunningham!” called an angry voice that shook the quantum physicist out of his reverie.  Sam saw the body that matched the bellow begin barrelling down the corridor between the rows of desks toward him, the fists of the man balled up tightly.  The leaper started to rise from his seat before the slightly overweight man dressed in a white shirt and a black tie approached him.  “Don’t get up.  I know you and Ross were up late last night, so I’ll excuse your second coffee break this morning,” the man said with a sneer before settling down somewhat.  “As soon as he shows up, I need you two out in the parking lot.  We got another murder to investigate.”

Momentarily startled at the complacency toward the mention of a murder, Sam just nodded his head and said a respectful, “Yes, sir.”  As quickly as he arrived, the man sped off in the direction from which he came and turned a corner before disappearing from Doctor Beckett’s line of sight.

“Who the heck is Ross?” Sam grumbled as he went to take a sip from the mug of coffee, getting annoyed when he recalled that it was empty.  Heaving out a sigh, he set the cup back down on the desk and rested his cheek on his fist.



Ten minutes later, Sam Beckett found himself standing in a snow-filled parking lot with Agent Elliott Ross, the man who had delivered the evidence for Sam.  They both had on heavy overcoats, black Fedoras, and leather gloves as they waited for the rest of the team in the freezing weather and Elliott seemed to lose his cheerful mood once they stepped outside into the bright, sunny day.  The chill in the air was consistent despite the sunshine that the two men were bathing in, the rays of light bouncing off the white snow making it a little difficult to see clearly.

 Sam had no ambition to start any conversation, feeling that he had to learn more about where and when he was first.  It seemed that his host didn’t carry a wallet, which struck him as rather odd.  “Probably another measure to prevent ‘Soviet spies’ from infiltrating the agency,” he had complained sarcastically to himself after searching high and low for it before Elliott’s return.

Eventually three other people, including the one who had instructed Sam to be out in the parking lot and Doctor Smythe, joined them behind the headquarters for the Naval Investigative Service, though the fact of the location was still unbeknownst to the leaper.  They were all dressed in similar apparel to Sam and Elliott, and the one that Sam hadn’t seen before walked right by them as he headed toward a large unmarked van.

“The Virginia State Police currently have the crime scene under control,” the man whom Sam assumed was their superior stated as the roar of an engine coming to life echoed off the back of the building.  “All they could really tell us was that the victim is a Navy lieutenant commander.”

The van pulled up beside the group and they boarded the vehicle.  The doctor that had startled Sam upon his leap in spoke up once they settled inside the van, addressing Sam’s boss.  “Bill, did the police say anything about how the lieutenant could have died?”

Bill grimaced for a moment before speaking as the vehicle pulled out onto the street and passed the front entrance of the building.  All of the signs were all covered in snow and ice as the sunlight glared off of the frozen water, yet Sam inspected the signs as inconspicuously as he could in an attempt to find out where he was, all the while listening to the words coming from the front seat.  “They didn’t touch the body, Rodge, but from a purely visual observation, they said he must have been stabbed numerous times in the chest.”

Doctor Smythe and Agent Ross both gasped slightly and Sam clued in that there was supposed to be some kind of common knowledge about this.  “You don’t think it’s the ‘Black Widow’ again, do you, sir?” Elliott questioned hurriedly.

Never having been one to jump to conclusions, the leader of the team now regretted even repeating to his agents and medical examiner what the police had told him.  “I sure hope not, Ross.  This is just preliminary stuff, so don’t go thinking too hard about it yet.  Until we see the body for ourselves there won’t be any jumping to conclusions.”

“Right.  Sorry, sir,” said Elliott.  Sam was hoping that more would be revealed from the conversation, such as who the “Black Widow” was.  Unfortunately for him all conversation ceased on the topic, but that gave him time to think about his situation once more as Doctor Beckett was still at a loss as to for what branch of the government he was an “agent”.  He wanted to venture a guess at either the FBI or the CIA, but something in his Swiss-cheesed memory told him that both were wrong.

As the vehicle continued along the roads and eventually onto the expressway, Sam discovered from the road signs that he had leaped into Washington, D.C. and was currently on his way toward Virginia.  Judging by the style of the other automobiles he could guess that he was somewhere in the Sixties, but neither piece of information was helping Sam Beckett very much.  He needed his observer from the future, Admiral Al Calavicci, to show up and give him some definitive information.  The leaper’s patience was beginning to draw thin.



Sam was pleasantly surprised when the NIS vehicle took an exit sooner than he expected.  Not too much longer after getting off the expressway, they were stopped at a one-floor motel that looked like the rooms were rented out by the hour.  Police vehicles had an entire strip of rooms blocked off and yellow tape was surrounding the area.  An officer of the local police force approached the van as the agent that was driving rolled down his window.  “We’re from the Naval Investigative Service,” the driver said and flashed a badge at the police officer, who nodded and waved them in.

“The Navy has its own investigation agency?” Sam thought to himself.  At least Al would have some idea of what capacity the NIS operated in and perhaps even, with what case Sam was getting involved.

 The group disembarked from the vehicle and another police officer approached them.  “First Sergeant Jim Kilpatrick, Virginia State Police,” he greeted unemotionally as he extended his hand to whoever decided to take it first.

“Special Agent Willis Pearce, Naval Investigative Service,” said Sam’s boss, squinting slightly in the bright sunlight.  The sergeant then instructed them to follow him to the scene of the supposed murder.

“Finally,” Sam grumbled to himself as he also learned the name of his superior and a verification of their agency. 

“What was that, Aaron?” Elliott questioned as they started walking toward the motel room.

“Oh, nothing,” the leaper replied as he forced a convincing grin.  Agent Elliott Ross shrugged and they continued on their way toward the crime scene.  Doctor Smythe and the agent who drove, apparently Smythe’s assistant, caught up behind them just as they crossed the threshold into the dingy motel room.  The sergeant was explaining that they had only made visual observations and had discovered that the victim was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy from seeing the stripes on his uniform. 

Agent Ross, who had a camera around his neck, started to photograph the scene.  Sam decided to join Smythe and his assistant at the side of the bed where a man in his late twenties or early thirties was tied to the bedposts, both feet and hands, with blood soaked into the white bed sheets that covered the lower half of his body.  There were multiple stab wounds to the chest, and as Sam took a closer look at the victim face, he gasped in absolute shock.  The memory of the man came to him very clearly despite the slight aging and, more dishearteningly, the slashes that marred his face.

“Chip?” he squeaked.  “Oh, boy.”





Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

21:03 MST


Rear Admiral (lower half) Tom Beckett, presidential liaison to Project Quantum Leap, left the Infirmary feeling worse than he had before going in.  Even though he was not expecting Al to be any better than the last time he had visited, he was hoping that Beth Calavicci would have taken some time away from her husband’s bedside.  From what the medical staff told him, she was taking what little food she had been eating in Al’s private room and sleeping in the reclining chair that she seemed to never move from except to use the bathroom.  It had been five days since the crash and the only time she left for more than ten minutes was when the chief medical doctor, Aurora Lofton, forced Beth to return to her quarters to take a shower and get a change of clothes.

The situation with Admiral Calavicci had the entire complex under stress.  Such a sudden tragedy had upset many people and, even after days of reconfiguring the Imaging Chamber so that Tom could fill in for Al’s observer duties, everybody still had an air of concern about what would happen to the Project.  Most lost themselves in their duties, trying to make sure that productivity wouldn’t fall just because the acting director of the Project was in a coma.  The best example that Tom saw was the tireless efforts of Professor Dominic Lofton, the chief programmer, as he worked to perfect the new settings for the Imaging Chamber with Doctor Tina Martinez-O’Farrell, the pulse communication technician, and Doctor Ike Bentenhoff, the head of Imaging Control.

Sam Beckett’s daughter, Doctor Sammy Jo Fulton, had offered to fill in as the observer, but as Dominic and Sam’s wife Doctor Donna Elesee had concluded, (along with Ziggy’s support,) Tom was Sam’s brother and his genes were a much closer match than those of anybody in the complex, making him the most suited to communicate with Sam back through Time using the holography of the Imaging Chamber.  Tom had also pointed out that with her infant daughter Isabella at home, Sammy Jo would likely not appreciate the hours that an observer has to keep in order to contact Sam.  The usage of the Emergency Holographic Observer, created by Sam and Donna’s son Stephen, was also ruled out, as it required too much power to run for any length of time needed to properly observe the leaper.

Tom continued his way down the corridors of the complex, wondering if his temporary duties as the Project observer would become permanent.  His thoughts were interrupted when the klaxon signifying that there was a visitor in the Waiting Room went off for a solid minute.  Ziggy addressed Tom as her voice seemed to come from everywhere at once.  “Admiral Beckett, you are needed in the Control Room.  Doctor Beckett has leaped.”

“I’m on my way,” he answered and headed for the nearest elevator.  Arriving on the control level, he found the Project psychiatrist Doctor Verbena Beeks coming out of the stairwell.

“Elevator not quick enough for you?” Tom joked as he cracked a friendly grin. 

Verbena smiled weakly and breathed out through her nose.  “Just trying to get some exercise,” she replied as the two walked beside each other down the hallway.  “Are you heading to the Control Room?”

The admiral nodded in response.  “That I am.  Shall I accompany you to the Waiting Room first?” he offered.  Although he was familiar with the staff at Project Quantum Leap, Tom didn’t feel that he was “buddies” with anybody yet and hoped that he could build some bridges whenever opportunities arose.

The psychiatrist shook her head.  “That’s all right.  I’m sure they’re waiting for you in Control,” she answered with a genuine smile.  “Thank you, though.”

“Any time,” replied Tom as he stopped at the entrance to the Control Room and Verbena continued on her way further down the corridor.  Inside was the normal hustle and bustle that came with the beginning of each leap.  There was somebody in Sam Beckett’s aura in the Waiting Room and it was up to the staff in Control, along with Ziggy and anything the visitor could tell them, to find out where and when Sam had leaped.

Approaching Dominic, Tina, and Donna at the main controls, Tom greeted them before getting to business.  “What do we have so far?”

“Not much,” Dom answered.  “The visitor just arrived a few minutes ago and seems to think that he’s dreaming.  From what we can tell, Doctor Beckett’s somewhere around Nineteen Seventy, plus or minus three years.”

Tom nodded in understanding.  “How long will it take to get a lock on him?”

The head programmer shook his head.  “Until we learn more from the visitor, it’s hard to really say.  It shouldn’t be any more than a half-hour.”

        From the look he received from all three of the scientists, he realized that he would just be in the way until they could find Sam.  “I’ll be in my office.  Let me know when you’ve found him,” Sam’s older brother replied before turning around and leaving the Control Room without giving anybody a second glance.  He headed straight for his office, formerly that of General Hawkins, and even longer before that it was Gooshie’s, and settled down at his desk.  Fifteen minutes ticked by as he idly reviewed the headings of the procedures for observing:

Rule #1:  The time traveler may not be told anything about his own life if he doesn’t remember it on his own.

“I guess he doesn’t know about Mom then,” Tom thought sadly before he continued reading.

Rule #2:  The time traveler may not alter events in the past that will directly affect his life or those of Project Quantum Leap personnel.

The elder Beckett’s eyes widened at this rule, knowing that his younger brother had significantly changed the way Tom’s life had played out up until that point.  He found it hard to believe that there had been a history where he was dead... shot dead in Viet Nam and never came home, never had a family.  Does that mean without Sam he would have been one of the too-many names on the Memorial Wall in Washington.  Shaking his head, Tom moved on down the list.

Rule #3:  The observer must keep the time traveler properly informed based on the projections given by the parallel hybrid computer.

Rule #4: Only the observer may be in the Imaging Chamber while communicating with the time traveler.

Rule #5:  . . .

Just as he started to feel his eyes droop, Ziggy’s voice floated into the office.  “Admiral Beckett, Doctor Beeks requests your presence in the Waiting Room.  She seems to think that you are able to, as she put it, ‘pull rank’ on the visitor.”

Feeling like he was getting more exercise in one hour than he normally would in a day, Tom Beckett pushed himself up from the chair and heaved a sigh.  “Thanks, Ziggy,” he said as he straightened his uniform and left for the Waiting Room.  Upon reaching the large airlock-style door, he found Verbena already waiting outside for him.

“Admiral,” she greeted him.  “I was wondering if you’d help me out with the visitor.  He says that he’s an agent for the Naval Investigative Service.  Ziggy said that places him anywhere between Nineteen Sixty-Six and Nineteen Ninety-Two.”

Tom nodded at the information but was still puzzled.  “What’s this got to do with me ‘pulling rank’?”

Doctor Beeks chuckled slightly at Ziggy repeating her choice of words.  “I would think that a Navy admiral would have more authority over an agent for the NIS than would a psychiatrist such as myself,” she told him, appearing a little annoyed at the fact.  “After he wondered to himself as to ‘where NIS had sent’ him, he clammed up, so I left and consulted Ziggy.  She said that NIS likely stood for Naval Investigative Service, so as soon as I heard the word ‘Naval’, I figured you would be perfect for the job.”

The admiral licked his lips and grinned.  “I guess you do have a point there, Doctor,” he replied before breaking out in a larger smile.  “Maybe in the future we could arrange to get you your own admiral’s uniform.”



Sleep-E-Z Motel

Falls Church, Virginia

Monday, December 18, 1967

11:18 EST


        The balding man continued on and asked Sam another question.  “Now, why don’t you tell me everything that you can remember happening on Saturday night?” he said, more a demand than a request.

        Sam was about to open his mouth when three subsequent knocks came at the door and, without waiting for a reply, in walked a young man dressed in the same style of uniform as Commander Dobbs.  The door closed behind him, the officer excused his intrusion.  “Uh, sorry to interrupt, sir, but it’s important.  If I could have a word with my wingman in private, sir?”  The young man was fidgeting with his fingers as he spoke, obviously uneasy about barging in.

        The commander from the Navy Reserves gave no direct response and turned his attention to Sam.  “May I, uh, use your head, Ensign?”

        After a slight hesitation, Sam responded.  “Sure.”  Hugh Dobbs snapped shut his notebook as he stood up from the chair, placed the book on a nearby table, and then entered the bathroom while Sam and his visitor watched him go.

        Once the coast was clear, the other man looked at Sam with a hint of amazement.  “‘Sure’?  Look, I know he’s a Hollywood lawyer eleven months out of the year, but this month he’s a commander in the Navy.”

        “I gotta remember I’m in the military,” was all Sam could answer with, more chastising himself than trying to make an excuse for his companion.

        “Yeah, I’d say so,” the other man responded sarcastically.  Then softening his tone, he asked, “So how ya doin’, buddy?”

        Even though the leaper was glad to know that his visitor, who bore a little bit of resemblance to Sam himself, seemed to be on his side, he had just leaped in mere minutes before...  and it was no regular leap-in, having found himself in his host’s dream.  “Oh, I’m a little confused,” replied the time traveler.

        “I think I can fix that,” said his host’s friend as he pulled out a cigar from his pant pocket, and his voice lowered to a whisper.  “How’d you like to see Lisa?”

        “Lisa?” Sam questioned.

        “Yeah, I tried to sneak her in here, but that dry Marine guard at the door looks like he’s on business...  so I told Doctor Berger about that sex show we saw in Tijuana last Thursday, and I promised him I’d take him there if he puts you and Lisa in a room together.”  The young man’s voice level raised as his sentence progressed obviously excited about helping out the person into whom Sam had leaped.

        No less confused than he already was, Sam stuttered out, “An-an-and how do we do that?”

        “You gotta get sick,” came the matter-of-fact reply.

        Looking over at the photograph of the young woman in a Navy nurse’s uniform that         Commander Dobbs had asked him about before, the realization came to Sam.  “Lisa’s... a nurse.”


        Then the dream came back to the leaper in full swing as he finished the other man’s phrase,  “Bango...  bongo,” and began walking toward the picture of Lisa.  Before he got very far, Dobbs came back from the bathroom and closed the door behind him as the sound of the toilet flushing faded.  “You gentlemen finished?” he asked light-heartedly.

        “Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir,” answered Sam’s visitor with an appreciative grin.

        “You’re Ensign Ferguson, aren’t ya?” the Navy lawyer asked as he pointed at the young man.

        Ferguson seemed a little surprised that the commander knew who he was.  “Yes, sir,” he replied.

        Dobbs continued in his friendly manner.  “I’ll, uh, need to ask you some questions when I’m finished here.”

        Now the ensign appeared even more surprised.  “Question me, sir?”

        “Well, you two were together at the Officers’ Club last Saturday, weren’t ya?” the lawyer pressed on, getting a head start on his questioning of the other officer.

        “Ah, yes, sir.  About half the squadron was at the Club that night, sir...  and Bingo was not the only one to dance with Marci, sir.”  Commander Dobbs placed his hands on his hips as Ensign Ferguson continued to speak.  “Uh, Commander Riker’s wife, sir.”

        Just as Sam was starting to feel left out of the conversation, his host’s friend brought him back into it after a glaring pause in conversation.  “Say, Bingo, you don’t look so good,” he declared.

Recalling their conversation about getting him to meet Lisa, Sam played along.          “Well...” he started, looking between the two men, “it’s nothing, it’s just a...  little stomach thing I’m feelin’.”

        The commander became concerned and asked, “Somethin’ you ate?”

        “I don’t know sir, uh,” he said as he walked toward his host’s bed, pressing two fingers into his abdomen.  “Excuse me, I...  wow...  I’ve had this kinda dull...” he continued, trying his best to look like he was suffering from an inflamed appendix, “pain all night around my umbilicus, and every time I press on the McBerney’s point I get a sharp... pain.”

        The lawyer was amused at Sam’s description and laughed.  “You go to medical school?” he asked as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.

        “No, sir.  No, sir.  I had a cousin who was a doctor; she taught—he told me a lot,” Sam answered, correcting himself when he presented the idea of a female doctor.  Something told him that the timeframe he was in still perceived men to be the majority to practise that particular profession.

        “Well, we’d better get him to Sickbay,” Commander Dobbs announced as they heard the sound of an overhead fighter jet coming closer to their building.  The ensign was impressed with his companion’s acting skills and the fact that the lawyer had fallen for it.  “That is an excellent idea, sir,” he replied as the jet’s engines roared by loudly.

        “Yeah,” Sam put in as he began to rest his head on the pillow, listening to the fading noises of the jet.

“Do you know this man, Agent Cunningham?” Doctor Smythe asked, his eyes widening.

Swallowing hard, Sam nodded, although he barely heard the query through the memory of the first time he met the man in question.  “Chip Ferguson.  I first met him when he was an ensign,” he answered, still not believing his eyes.  Didn’t Al say that Chip had died during wartime?  The admiral’s voice whispered in Sam’s mind, “Me and Chip were tailpipe buddies.  We flew together for ten years, on and off, until he caught a SAM missile over Haiphong...”

“He’s not supposed to die here,” the leaper whispered to himself.

Frowning, the medical examiner shook his head sadly.  “Well, I’m afraid that can’t be changed, Aaron,” he answered with a touch of sympathy in his tone.

Sam began to step back from the bed as his stomach was starting to churn.  Elliott was taking photographs of the mutilated body while Smythe and his assistant were preparing to do some preliminary medical inspecting.  Suddenly finding himself to need some outside air, the time traveler excused himself and left the motel room.  He leaned against the window with his face in his hands, totally engulfed in grief and confusion.

“At least dying in combat was for something...  this was murder!” the scientist said quietly and angrily as a strong breeze nipped at the exposed skin on his face.  Removing the gloves from his face, he gazed out into the distance as flurries began to filter across his field of view.  “What did I change to make this happen?”





Sleep-E-Z Motel

Falls Church, Virginia

Monday, December 18, 1967

11:25 EST


Sam Beckett had only a few minutes to himself before Willis Pearce appeared at his side.

“I couldn’t help overhearing that you know the victim,” the team leader said quietly as he removed a cigarette from the pack inside of his coat.  As he lit the cigarette, the agent continued speaking, though slightly muffled.  “I can transfer you to another case if need be.”

Realizing that Chip Ferguson’s unexpected death was perhaps his reason for leaping into Aaron Cunningham, Sam shook his head.  “That’s not necessary, sir.  I want to work on this case.”

Silence sat between them for a few moments as Agent Pearce enjoyed his tobacco.  The second-hand smoke was, thankfully, blowing away from Sam as the wind had picked up, and it looked like the weather was changing to reflect the leaper’s mood.  Whereas before it was a sunny yet cold day, now the clouds had moved in and appeared heavy with snow.

“Well, you’d better get in there and get your sketches of the crime scene done.  Smythe and Bentley are waiting to examine the body,” Pearce finally said.

Nodding in compliance, Sam entered the motel room once again, his mind clouded with dread.  He removed his gloves and shuffled through Aaron’s tote bag for a sketchpad and a pencil, finding them with ease.  “Now if only I could find some drawing skills in this bag,” the leaper murmured to himself.

Despite Sam Beckett’s inability to draw, something came over him as he scanned the room, and he found himself producing sketches of the disfigured form of Lieutenant Commander Charles “Chip” Ferguson and the room’s environs.  After he had filled ten pages of the sketchbook, he gave Doctor Smythe and his assistant Bentley permission to go ahead with their duties.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

21:38 MST


Aaron Cunningham sat on the medical bed and watched in amazement as the large octagonal door opened again, spilling in white light from wherever it led to.  This time, instead of a Negro doctor entering it was a... Navy officer?  The blue haze that made up the walls of the strange room he found himself in caused the man in his white uniform really stand out as the door closed behind him.

“Who are you?” Aaron demanded as he stood up defensively.  “And where in God’s name am I?”

Tom was taken aback by the immediate question.  Venturing a few more steps toward the visitor, whom Tom could see as both his brother and a man who appeared to be in his late twenties, he maintained a professional air.  “To answer your first question, I am Admiral Beckett,” he answered as he continued his approach.

The agent screwed up his lips at the response.  An admiral?  “Nice to meet you, Admiral.  Now, how about my second question?”

Now standing a few feet away from the visitor, Tom pressed his lips together into a fine line.  “I’m afraid that’s top secret, but don’t worry – you’re safe here.  This is a government installation,” he clarified as he kept eye contact with the younger man.  “Now, I know you’re an agent with Naval Intelligence.  What’s your name, son?”

Although Aaron was sceptical about the man’s explanation, he could only imagine what kind of trouble he would get into if he didn’t co-operate with an admiral at a top-secret installation.  He also wasn’t fond of being called “son”. 

“Agent Aaron Cunningham, NIS, homicide division,” he responded as his hand automatically went for his badge.  The absence of his personal belongings (and clothes!) begged the question, “If I may ask you something else, Admiral...  why am I dressed like this?  Is this some kind of experiment?”

Tom had never dealt directly with a visitor like this before and was not used to these kinds of return questions.  He knew that Verbena had not gotten very far with him, but had hoped that she had at least filled him in on some of the details.

“You might say that, Agent Cunningham,” the admiral replied as he stayed professional.  “But don’t worry, no harm will come to you.  I just need you to answer some questions for me.  You’ll find that some things will be hard to remember, but don’t get frustrated.  Just tell me what you can.”

“Well, there is one thing...  I know that if I’m not home for dinner tonight, my wife’s gonna kill me, but I’m not sure why,” Aaron answered with a wry smile.  When he saw the admiral grin slightly, the agent gained a little bit of trust in this complete stranger.  “Uh, other than that...  the word ‘black widow’ sticks out in my mind for some reason.  I dunno what to tell you, sir.”

Nodding at the information that seemed useless to him, Tom decided to take a more direct approach.  “All right, how about the date?  The names of your co-workers?  Where you were before you came here?”

Aaron’s eyes narrowed at the last question.  “There’s something else I’ve been meaning to ask...  how exactly did I get here?  Last thing I remember was I was in Autopsy waiting for Doctor...  Doctor Rodger...” he said, trailing off when he couldn’t remember the name of the medical examiner.  “Anyway, I was waiting for some doctor and then everything when blank for a while before I woke up here.  Maybe Elliott and I should have called it quits earlier last night.”

“Elliott?” Tom encouraged, hoping not to get back to the issue of how Aaron arrived at Project Quantum Leap.  The visitor seemed to be disoriented enough to be guided away from the topic.

Cunningham nodded energetically.  “Yeah, Agent Elliott... ummm...  anyway, we were working on a case until pretty late.  Must be why I’m having such a hard time remembering, huh?”

The admiral cracked a smile.  “Yeah, probably.  How about the date?  Can you recall that?”

Aaron hummed and hawed for a good ten seconds before a quiet squawk came over the speakers, indicating to Tom that he was needed elsewhere.  “Listen, Agent,” he said and interrupted the visitor’s train of thought, “I’m needed elsewhere.  If you remember anything that you think’s important, just ask for Doctor Beeks.  She has full authority at this facility and can pass on the information to me.”

“Yes, Admiral,” the NIS agent replied, sitting up a bit more erect as Tom also straightened his back before turning around and leaving the confused man behind him in the Waiting Room.  He found Verbena standing outside with a grin on her face.

“What are you smiling at?” Tom asked the psychiatrist.

“Not bad for an amateur,” she quipped before walking through the open doorway through which Tom had just come.  Laughing a little bit to himself, and impressed with the way Agent Cunningham was swayed by his rank, Admiral Beckett continued away from the Waiting Room and down the corridor to the Control Room.

“I’m sorry to have taken you away from the visitor, Admiral,” Ziggy announced as soon as Tom stepped into the nebulous of the Project Quantum Leap complex.

“What seems to be the problem, Ziggy?” the temporary observer questioned.  After having worked at Project Liberty and talking to Omega, the parallel hybrid computer that was a clone of Ziggy, he was used to addressing a computer as if it was a human being.

The swirling blue energy in Ziggy’s orb danced in unpredictable patterns for a moment before she answered.  “I am afraid that it will take longer than anticipated to find Doctor Beckett.  There is a strong ‘current’ of sorts in the time stream that is interfering with my sensors.”

Looking bewildered, Tom approached the main control board.  “What’s she talking about?” he demanded of Dom and Tina.

“Like, she’s sayin’ that some kinda new history is overwriting the current one,” Tina Martinez-O’Farrell answered with a ditzy smile as she spoke.  “It’s like they’re fightin’ to become the one true timeline.  This ain’t like normal where there are all kinds of timelines possible from Doctor Beckett’s current location in the past.  Our current history and an alternate history, startin’ from as far back as the Civil War period, are the two major contenders.”

Dominic Lofton nodded in agreement.  “That’s the best way to describe it.  We don’t know how this ‘other’ timeline differs, but it’s causing some problems.  We’re working on a solution, sir.”

Despite his relatively successful encounter with the visitor, the news he was hearing got his blood boiling.  His little brother was travelling in time, helping people fix their lives, and now it seemed like his very existence may be in danger, if having problems in finding him was any indication.  “Well, work harder, damn it!  The sooner we find him, the sooner I can get into that friggin’ Imaging Chamber and help him leap out!”

The sudden outburst shocked everybody in the Control Room.  It wasn’t that Admiral Calavicci never had fits of anger, but that was usually later on during the leap when everybody was equally frustrated.  Nobody dared say anything in return...  except Ziggy.

“Admiral Beckett, could you please try to not upset everybody?  I am very depressed about Admiral Calavicci’s current state and your negative attitude is not helping,” the computer’s voice said sadly but with the standard amount of egotism.

“Oh, shut up, you overblown calculator!” the angry admiral retorted.

Ziggy made a huffing sound before saying, “There is no need to imitate Admiral Calavicci.  It will not cheer me up.”

Tom ground his teeth for a moment before glancing around the room.  Most of the staff were working hard (and doing their best to keep from laughing aloud) while trying to avoid his line of sight, especially the timid Percy Alfredsson who was filling in for Sammy Jo at her station.  Without a word more to human nor machine, the admiral strode out of Control and headed for the nearest elevator.  He needed some fresh air to clear his head.



McMurphy’s Tavern

Falls Church, Virginia

Monday, December 18, 1967

15:52 EST


Sam and the rest of the investigative team had spent most of the afternoon at the scene of Chip Ferguson’s murder.  When the only evidence they could produce was Chip and his belongings, along with verification from the Navy about his being enlisted, Pearce instructed Sam and Elliott to begin asking around about the lieutenant commander’s recent activities.  Luckily they had an NIS car to themselves from the noon-hour arrival of some more agents to help with the investigation.

Their first stop was the headquarters of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), where Commander Ferguson had been working as a lawyer.  Chip’s co-workers told them that he had gone home with a “blonde bombshell” the night before while they were enjoying drinks at a local bar, where Chip’s closest friends were currently mourning the death of a good man.  After obtaining an official photograph of the commander and a full description of the woman, Sam and Elliott thanked them for their help and left.

“Sure sounds like the ‘Black Widow’ to me, Aaron,” Agent Ross commented as they exited the building.  The snow was coming down heavier now and dark clouds blocked out the sun.  “It’s the same description of a woman in her late twenties, very attractive, blonde hair...  they’d better be able to help us out at this McMurphy’s place.”

Sam just nodded in agreement and kept the details fresh in his mind by repeating them repeatedly.  The two got into the white Ford silently and drove the short distance to McMurphy’s Tavern.  With the discovery of Chip’s murder and the absence of Al, the leaper was feeling a mixture of emotions, mostly depression and anger.

“So, how’d you know this fella, Aaron?” Elliott asked innocently.  “I didn’t know you had any friends in the Navy.”

Doctor Beckett shrugged.  “It was a while ago when I met him.  I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but seeing him dead just like that... and at the hands of a serial killer...”  His sentence trailed off, not sure if he could say anything more without losing composure.

The agent’s lips tightened before he swallowed.  “I know what you mean, bud.  Don’t worry, we’ll get her and make sure she pays for what she’s done,” he said encouragingly.

Hoping his companion was right, the time traveler let out a sigh as Agent Ross parked the vehicle beside the saloon.  They got out of the car and entered through the front door, finding the place to be half-filled.  The lighting was a little dark and there was tobacco smoke in the air to accompany the quiet din of conversation.  Sam took charge and approached the bartender, slapping the photograph of Chip down on the oaken bar.  “Do you recognize this man?” he asked matter-of-factly.

The bartender studied the snapshot for a moment before nodding.  “Sure, that’s Chip.  He just came in last night for the first time in a few weeks.  I think he said he’d been out west workin’ on a case.”  He met Sam’s eyes and furrowed his brow.  “Is somethin’ wrong with Chip?”

“You could say that.  He’s dead,” the leaper replied, his tone bordering on cynicism.  “Did you notice if he left here last night with anybody?”

After the shock left his face, the corner of the barkeep’s lip twitched before he answered.  “Sure, it was Loraine he went with.  Real sexy girl with a very particular taste in men.  She’s been hangin’ out here almost every night for a couple o’ weeks, tellin’ me that she was waitin’ for ‘the right guy to come in’.  You’re not tellin’ me that she killed Chip, are ya?”

Elliott shook his head.  “No, but she is a suspect.  We were told that some of the commander’s companions were here.  Could you point them out to us?”

The bartender’s hand immediately came up as he pointed to two men in Navy uniforms at a table in the corner.  “They were here last night with Chip and came in earlier without a word to me.  Nearly inseparable, those three,” he commented with a grim look on his face.

Giving an appreciative smile, Agent Ross thanked the man and hurried to catch up to Sam who had moved as soon as he spotted the two officers.  Both of the Navy men had a mug of beer in front of them and the air of gloom hung in the ambiance.

“You two knew Lieutenant Commander Ferguson?” the leaper asked, trying to be sensitive to the situation.  Both officers glanced up at him with questioning looks on their faces.

“Yeah, what’s it to you?” the taller of the two asked, whose stripes indicated he was a commander.  His brown eyes were hardened but showed obvious pain at the news of his friend’s death.

“We’re from NIS,” Elliott piped up, flashing his badge.  “We’re investigating the commander’s murder and was wondering if you could help us with, well, anything.”

The other officer, another lieutenant commander, shrugged his shoulders.  “Only thing we know is that Chip was finally ‘the one’ for Loraine,” he stated acidly.  “That girl’s been here since the end of November and didn’t give anybody a second glance ’til Chip came in last night with us.  She was all over ’im.”

Licking his lips, Sam fired off another question, moving his gaze between the two men.  “Who is this Loraine?”

        The commander answered, running his fingers through his dark hair before saying anything.  “Nobody could pick her up.  I saw at least a dozen men every night approach her, try to buy her a drink, and get rejected on the spot.  She barely gave anybody a chance, usually saying, ‘You’re not the one.’  Kinda queer, so we figured she was just picky about looks.  Guess Chip was unlucky enough to meet her standards.”

Agent Ross then gave them the description given by the other JAG officers and they confirmed the identity.  “Yup, that’s here,” the lieutenant commander said.  “She didn’t talk to anybody, ’cept for ordering drinks from the barkeep and rejecting men.”

“Including you two?” the leaper asked.

“Not me; I’m married,” the commander answered, shifting in his seat.  “But many a JAG man got the big ‘no’ from her.  We only learned her name from Tim the bartender there, and that was about all he could get from her aside from her favorite drink.  Every time we were in here, she’d be up there at the bar drinking a Soho martini.  She’d nurse that thing all night, occasionally looking over the crowd as if she was a hunter looking for prey.”

“What about her last name?  Where she came from?” Sam queried, desperate for answers.

Both men shook their heads.  “She had a hint of a Southern accent, but that was about all we could tell about where she came from,” the brown-haired lieutenant commander put in.  “Other than that, the woman was a complete mystery.”

Elliott removed three business cards from his wallet, giving one to each of the men.  “If you remember anything else, please let us know.”

The two JAG officers gave their assurances that they would do so and the NIS agent left the third card with Tim as they left the tavern.

“That wasn’t a whole lot of help, was it?” Doctor Beckett grumbled as they got into the car.  “Loraine from the South leaves a lot of names to search.”

“Hey, we’re that much closer, right?  At least we have a name now,” Elliott answered as he started up the car.  “Just think, with that information going out to every police agency in the country, we just might find her.”

“I hope so,” Sam replied as he gazed out the window at the falling snow.



Naval Investigative Service headquarters

Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 18, 1967

17:14 EST


Pearce decided to recall the team to headquarters for further examination of the evidence and allowed the state police to continue with any investigating they wished to carry out.  While Sam continued to research the lead on Loraine and Chip’s background, he found nothing that would indicate that he “deserved” such a death.  It looked like he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All of the talk he had heard during the day of the “Black Widow” and her stream of murders got him interested in what exactly had transpired.  Apparently, there were at least twelve murders attributed to her, all of them involving sexual intercourse with her victims before they perished, and all of them bearing knife wounds to their torso and face.  There were no photographs of the victims readily available, and apparently only three before Chip had been enlisted in the Navy or the Marines.  That was enough for NIS to acquire all cases that could be related to their murders.

Glancing at his watch, the leaper wondered when quitting time was.  Nobody had indicated to him that it was time to go home so he just kept on reading and reading, hoping to find some connection between the murders and perhaps even come up with more on the suspect.  However, since there was no evidence left behind at any of the scenes, Sam was as unsuccessful as the professionals who had already gone over all of the evidence.  He was near his wit’s end with worry about why he hadn’t heard from Al.  At least with Ziggy’s help they could establish some kind of pattern and predict the murderer’s next move.

“Hey, Aaron,” greeted Elliott as he sat down at the desk neighbouring Sam’s.  “Found anything interesting yet?”

Sam shook his head.  “There doesn’t seem to be any consistency.  It’s like she leaves a calling card and nothing else.”

Agent Ross bobbed his head as if he had heard it all before.  In fact he had, with every new addition to the string of murders, nothing new seemed to be added except another body in the morgue.  “Well, some day we’ll get her.  Nobody can run forever, right?”

“I guess you’re right, Elliott.  I just hope it’s sooner than later,” the time traveler replied grimly.

Glimpsing at his watch, Elliott made a show of stretching before he got up and began dressing for the weather.  “That snow sure came in quick and heavy, eh?  I hope they got the ploughs out there, otherwise my car won’t make it two blocks before giving up.”  When Sam only made a weak smile, Elliott continued speaking.  “Even worse, you’d better hurry home in that little red ‘beast’ of yours.  Janet isn’t going to be very happy about you being late for your anniversary dinner.  Speaking of which, Betty said she called to let you know you forgot your wallet at home this morning, in case you were wondering what happened to it.”

The leaper’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head.  I’m married?!” he exclaimed in his mind.  “At least the case of the missing wallet is solved.”

Sam nodded in appreciation for the news.  “Oh, yeah, she’ll understand that I was working late,” he answered as he also got up from his seat.

Chuckling to himself, Elliott put on his grey leather gloves.  “I hope so.  Well, just be sure to duck any frying pans or rolling pins that may come your way when you walk in that door,” he joked.  “See ya tomorrow, bud.”

“See ya,” Sam replied while he struggled to get the heavy overcoat on without the sleeves of his sport jacket scrunching up.  After donning all of Aaron’s winter gear, Sam went out to the parking lot and took the brunt of a strong burst of wind, hoping that his was the only red vehicle in the lot.  He came across only two, an Oldsmobile and a Dodge.  The odds were in Sam’s favour as the keys fit right away into the lock of the Oldsmobile.

The snow was still falling heavily and Sam’s black coat was white in a manner of minutes as he began brushing the snow from Aaron’s car.  He was nearly done when the familiar white rectangle of light appeared before him.  The quantum physicist’s mouth was ready to admonish Al Calavicci for being so late, but those words died before they even reached his tongue when he saw another admiral instead.

“Hi, Sam,” Tom greeted with a big grin as the door closed behind him.

The leaper creased his brow before asking, “Who are you?”





Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

21:55 MST


Even though it was the middle of winter, Tom was able to bear the serene, cool night air while he stood on the large patio at the Project Quantum Leap complex.  His outside temperature had fallen, but inside he was still burning mad about Sam’s predicament.

“Al sure picked a good time for a ‘vacation’,” Tom muttered to himself as he glanced up at the stars.  The wind had picked up during his time outside and he was considering going back inside for a nap.  “Might as well be rested for whenever those people find Sam.”

Just as he was turning around to go back indoors, he heard the howling sound of a formidable wind approaching.  Although it was night, the moon gave off enough light in conjunction with the security lighting to illuminate the wave of sand that was approaching.  Tiny particles began to strike the admiral in the face as the winds picked up and he made quick tracks for the doors, only to find them locked.

“What’s going on here?” he cursed as he yanked hard on the doors, squinting to keep the sand from his eyes.  The doors wouldn’t budge.

“Ziggy!” he cried out.  “Open these doors!”

The voice of the hybrid computer came over Tom’s communication bracelet.  “My apologies, Admiral, but power to certain systems has been diverted to my nano-search.  I will inform Logistics to redirect power to the patio doors temporarily.”

Tom made no response as he waited for the purr of energy to return to the electrically locked doors.  The wall of sand was nearly upon him when they were finally reactivated and he dove inside, bringing some blowing sand in with him, and quickly shut the glass door.

Brushing the excess sand from his face and his uniform, the admiral looked up at the ceiling.  “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” he said accusingly.

Although Ziggy didn’t answer, Tom Beckett could swear he heard a soft chuckling that could only be attributed to the computer.



It was many hours later when Tom was woken up in his quarters by Ziggy and summoned once again to the Control Room.  Many bleary-eyed programmers and technicians greeted him.

“We finally got a lock on him, Admiral,” Dominic announced when the acting boss stopped at the main control board.  “We’ve already activated the hologram, so all you have to do is step into the Imaging Chamber.”

Nodding in appreciation, Tom thanked the staff for their hard work and headed toward the ramp.  He stopped in his tracks when Dom spoke up again.  “We’re still working on accessing the NCIS database.  It turns out Director Shepard froze access a few days ago after a security breach and is denying any external requests.”

Frustration began to well up inside of Admiral Beckett again.  Turning on his heels, he returned to the control panel.  “Professor Lofton, you tell Director Shepard,” he began in a low tone, spitting out the name, “that a presidential liaison has requested this information, and if she doesn’t comply that she’ll have to answer to the commander-in-chief himself!”

Dominic blinked a couple of times and nodded.  “I’ll call her myself, sir!”

Tom placed his hand on the chief programmer’s shoulder and gave it a friendly shake.  “Thank you,” he said with a grin.  Removing his hand, the admiral walked across the room again and up the ramp toward the glowing lights that surrounded the portal into Sam’s realm.  After pressing a button on the handlink, the door into the Imaging Chamber opened and Tom whispered, “Here I come, little brother.”

Stepping through the doorway, Tom was amazed at the scene before him.  There was snow everywhere and it was still falling from the sky as if someone had left a popcorn popper on without placing a bowl underneath the chute.  So astonished was Tom with the scene that it took him a moment to see his brother, Sam Beckett, dressed up so warmly that he could only see his face.

“Hi, Sam,” Tom greeted with a big grin, hitting a handlink key to close the glowing door behind him.  He knew he had to follow the rules and not directly tell Sam who he was, but hoped that the leaper would remember him.

Sam creased his brow and asked, “Who are you?”  The admiral stood there in for a moment, not sure how to answer.

“Who are you?” Sam repeated to the stranger as he took some steps closer.  He could only remember a few people replacing Al in the past...  Gooshie, Sammy Jo, Dominic...  those people all worked at the Project.  The person in the Navy uniform was totally unfamiliar to him.

“I’m, um, well, I’m filling in for Al.  You remember Al, right?” Tom asked, hoping that his brother didn’t lose all of his memory on each leap.  That wasn’t something anybody had ever mentioned to him.

The time traveler looked at the admiral incredulously.  “Of course I remember Al.  He’s my guide.  You, on the other hand, I don’t know at all.  Are you with the Project?”

Tom nodded in response.  “Yes.  You can call me Tom,” he answered, figuring that Sam couldn’t just refer to him as “Observer” the entire time.

“Tom...  Tom...  I know someone named Tom, don’t I?” Sam asked, trying hard to remember.

“Sorry, Sam, but you know the rules.  If you can’t remember, I can’t tell you,” the admiral replied, keeping his disappointment hidden.  He thought that Sam knowing who he was would mean there would be an immediate bond of trust between them.

The leaper sighed heavily in exasperation.  “Well, Tom,” Sam began as he started to pace, “why am I here?  If it’s to stop the murder of Chip Ferguson, I’m too late.”

Tom blinked a couple of times, hoping that Ziggy would be able to fill him in soon.  “Who’s Chip Ferguson?”

“If Al was here, he’d be flipping out,” Sam went on as if he didn’t hear the question.  “I mean, what kind of drastic change happened to make his life end like that?”  The leaper stopped and looked at his older brother.  “Chip Ferguson was Al’s best friend in the Navy.  For some reason I remember that he originally died while flying Viet Nam...  Ziggy didn’t tell you any of this?”

The admiral shook his head.  “We’re having trouble accessing the NCIS database.  I can tell you that you’re Agent Aaron Cunningham with the Naval Investigative Service and the date is December Eighteenth, Nineteen Sixty-Seven,” he said, seeing Sam nod at every piece of information.

“I already knew that,” he answered, walking away from the hologram as he returned to brushing off the car.  “Did you know that today is Aaron’s wedding anniversary and that I’m late for dinner with his wife?  Do you think Ziggy can get me directions to their house?”

Tom stayed in his place as he punched in the requests on the handlink.  “No, but she’s hopeful that we will have that information soon, Sam,” the admiral replied, slightly amused at his little brother’s frustrated attitude.  He walked over to the car and watched him brush off snow.  “Almost as bad as those Elk Ridge winters, huh?” he commented before realizing what he had let slip out.

The leaper paused all motion for a moment when he heard the passing statement.  “How do you what Elk Ridge is like?” Sam asked cautiously as he turned to face the replacement observer.

Admiral Beckett swallowed and licked his lips.  “Well, I know a lot about you, Sam,” he said convincingly.  “It’s my job to help you until Al gets back, so I wanted to make sure I did my research.”

The scientist was wary of the response and his chance to further interrogate Tom was interrupted by Ziggy’s hologram appearing automatically out of the handlink.  The beautiful brunette was dressed in a red parka, with white trim, that fell just above her knees, showing enough skin between there and the tops of her black ankle-boots.

“What the Hell?” the observer exclaimed as he fought to hang on to the handlink.  Sam was chuckling at both Ziggy’s attire and Tom’s surprise, despite his current annoyance with the lack of information he had received up to that point.

“I’m just getting into the Christmas spirit, Admiral,” Ziggy cooed as she looked around at the falling snow.  “Only six shopping days left, Doctor Beckett.”

The leaper laughed again before forcing himself to become serious once more.  “What can you tell us, Ziggy?”

She made a show of clearing her throat before answering.  “We have been given limited access to the NCIS personnel database and now have all pertinent information on Agent Aaron Cunningham, born August Twenty-Fourth, Nineteen Thirty-Eight in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Today is December Eighteenth, Nineteen Sixty-Seven and is the sixth wedding anniversary for Agent Cunningham and his wife, Janet Cunningham.  Missus Cunningham, born May Sixteenth, Nineteen Thirty-Nine, is a lecturer at Georgetown University in the music department.  I foresee that this leap has nothing to do with their marriage.”

Doctor Beckett took in the information and stored it for any possible future use.  “Then what does this leap have to do with?  Am I here to solve Chip’s murder?”

Ziggy frowned at the interruption.  “Lieutenant Commander Charles Ferguson was murdered approximately fourteen hours ago from your perspective, Doctor.  Although there was a strain of murders attributed to the ‘Black Widow’, also known as Loraine as you discovered today, none of the cases were ever solved.  I am predicting with over eighty percent probability that you are here to solve the commander’s murder and apprehend the criminal.”

“How am I going to do that?  I spent all afternoon going over reports an’ documents and anything else I could get my hands on that remotely had anything to do with the serial killer.  Now that you have access, can’t you do some kind of pattern-matching algorithm to find out where she could be from and where she’s going next?”  Sam was adamant, waving his arms as he spoke.  The irritation of the situation was really getting to him.

“I am in the process of doing that, Doctor Beckett, but as I said, I only have access to personnel records at the moment.  I shall leave you and the admiral now in order to conserve power,” the holographic representation of Ziggy announced before giving a smile and disappearing.

Heated, Sam got into the car without a word and started it up.  Tom pressed some buttons on the handlink and centred himself in the vehicle.  “I didn’t know she could show up whenever she wanted,” the admiral commented lightly.

The leaper closed his eyes and sighed, opening when his lips turn to a grin.  “At least we have something more to go on,” he said encouragingly.  “Now, would you mind guiding me home?”


Cunningham residence

Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 18, 1967

17:51 EST


The drive to the Cunninghams’ house was slow going but uneventful.  The snow had kept many people off the roads since the ploughs had yet to clear the streets.  Although Tom was closer physically to his brother than he had been in over a dozen years, the barrier of being a hologram prevented him from giving Sam a strong hug.  He tried to keep his thoughts off the personal situation by continuously relaying data that Ziggy reported as her investigation proceeded.

Pulling into the driveway of the Cunningham home, Sam engaged the emergency brake and turned off the vehicle.  “Thanks, Tom,” the leaper said as he turned to the observer.

“Hey, that’s my job, right?” the admiral answered with a good-humored grin and getting an agreeing chortle from the younger Beckett.  He departed from the car as Tom walked through the holographic representation, amazed at the technology.

Sam walked in through the front door and shook off his coat before hanging it on the coat hook.  The sound of “Donna” by Ritchie Valens playing quietly on a phonograph from the neighboring room had a calming effect on the leaper.  A voice floated from somewhere in the house, calling out Aaron’s name.  “It’s me!” Sam called back.  By the time he had removed his shoes and placed them on the mat to dry, a slender young woman with light-blonde hair descended the staircase.

“Happy anniversary, sweetie,” Janet Cunningham said as she embraced whom she saw as her husband.  Sam returned the hug with a friendly squeeze and gave her a peck on the lips.

“Sorry I’m late,” he began, but Janet put her finger over his lips and shushed him.

“Don’t you worry about that.  Dinner’s just about ready, so you’re right on time,” she said with a loving smile before turning and heading toward the kitchen.  The quantum physicist sighed, relieved that Elliott’s prediction of flying rolling pins was far from the truth.

Walking into the living room where the phonograph was playing, Sam admired the record collection while Tom quietly poked at the handlink and also took in the surroundings.  Everything in the room was decorated in preparations for Christmas, including a small pine tree in the corner with ornaments hanging and colorful lights illuminating it.  Glancing at the coffee table, he saw two wrapped presents sitting in pride of place.  “Looks like you don’t have to worry about finding the wife a last-minute gift,” the observer commented, jerking his head toward the table when Sam turned to face him.  He approached the table and picked them up, one addressed to Aaron in a square box and the other to Janet in a similar style.

“Did they get each other the same thing?” the leaper wondered aloud as he picked one up then the other.  “They weigh the same and have the same shape...”

Tom shrugged.  “I don’t think it’s of much consequence, Sam.”

“Aaron Benjamin Cunningham!” Janet’s voice rang out in mock anger as she returned, causing both Beckett brothers to freeze in surprise. She now had an apron over her blue sparkling dress.  “You weren’t going to open it without me, were you?  I thought we were going to do that after dinner.”

Sam put her gift back on the table and made a show of looking guilty.  “I’m sorry, I was just...  thinking, why not open them now?”

The admiral creased his brow and smirked at the leaper, unsure of what he was up to.  “You’re lucky this young lady seems so easy-going, Sam,” Tom commented as she crossed the room and put her hands on Sam’s shoulders, guiding him to sit down.

“You open yours first,” she said with a wide closed-mouth smile and handed him the present wrapped in silver paper.  Sam accepted it and began to tear into the paper, and stared at the plain brown box that was inside.  He glanced up at Janet with question and she wordlessly encouraged him to open it.  The scientist lifted the lid and found inside a record album, which he took out with care.

“It’s The Big Bopper’s newest album!” she exclaimed with excitement as the Ritchie Valens song faded off.  Without a second glance, she got up to change the record on the phonograph.  “I know you’ve been wanting it ever since it came out, and I figured it would be a better anniversary present than Christmas present.”

Sam was speechless as he looked between the record, which looked authentic, and his observer.  “B-Big Bopper?  Didn’t he die in Nineteen Fifty-Nine?” the time traveler asked, directing his query at both Tom and Janet, the former of whom immediately began to type keys on the handlink after crying out, “Yes, he did!”

“What?” Janet Cunningham demanded synchronously while her expression showed complete confusion.  “You must be thinking of someone else, dear.”  Passing off the comment, she placed another record on the player and a song by The Beatles began to emanate from the speakers.  Aaron’s wife promptly returned to the sofa and looked Sam in the eyes.  “Do you like it?”

Putting a façade over his grave concern, Sam Beckett nodded and forced a smile.  “I love it.  Thank you, Janet,” he answered and gave her a lingering kiss in an attempt to be convincing.  She seemed to accept his answer as she picked up the wrapped present addressed to her.  Carefully, almost painfully for Sam who really wanted to speak with Tom in private, she unwrapped the yellow-and-pink paper so as to not tear it.  Inside was a box similar to the one that Sam opened to reveal the alarming Big Bopper record.

“Oh, we didn’t...” she began as her lips formed an “O” after opening the box.  Removing the item from inside, Sam saw that Aaron and Janet had purchased records for each other.  It was the artist of this album that made his stomach churn.  “No way!  The new Ritchie Valens album!”

Turning to Sam, she saw that he had a severely serious expression on his face.  Her joy was immediately squelched and she took his hand lovingly.  “What is it?  Do you think he’s dead, too?”

Letting out a quick huff, the leaper nodded.  “Yes!  Don’t you remember?  February Third, Nineteen Fifty-Nine!  ‘The Day the Music Died’?!”

Janet squeezed his hand tighter and her breathing quickened.  “Aaron, you’re starting to scare me.  Nothing happened—”

Sam pulled his hand free of Janet’s grip and quickly stood up from the couch.  “Yes!  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper all died in a plane crash!  Damn it, I remember!”

“Who in the Hell is Buddy Holly?” Janet demanded frustration obvious throughout her being.  “I teach music, Aaron, so I think I’d know what I’m talking about!” she cried in a shaky voice.  Tears began to form in Janet’s eyes and she placed the Valens record, still in the box, back on the table and ran upstairs to keep herself from making a scene.  Little did she know that Sam also was wet around the eyes, more so from the aggravation of the situation.  He turned to Tom and met the observer’s gaze, keeping his tone to a whisper.  What is going on here?!  My mind isn’t just... just...  making this up, is it?  Am I going crazy, Tom?!”

Admiral Tom Beckett shook his head.  “No, Sam.  I don’t know what’s happening, but I’ll make damn sure I find out.  Maybe you’d better just apologize to the little woman and tell her you’re stressed out...  confusing a dream with reality, or something like that,” the observer advised as the white rectangle of light appeared behind him.  Sam nodded his head and swallowed hard before wiping the water that threatened to fall from his eyelids, watching Tom disappear back into the present.



Naval Investigative Service headquarters

Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 19, 1967

07:32 EST


After apologizing to Janet Cunningham for his sudden outburst and somehow passing off a lie that he was just thinking of a dream that felt too real to be fake, combined with the stress he was actually feeling, Sam and Aaron’s wife enjoyed a quiet evening at home.  They even listened to the gifts that the couple had given to each other and Sam found it very hard to comprehend what had happened to the timeline.  Somehow there was no longer a plane crash in 1959 that killed three of the music industry’s top stars, allowing The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens to continue their careers successfully, but Buddy Holly was no longer on the scene.

All night long, Sam Beckett continuously dreamed of the time he had spent with Chip Ferguson during that leap so many travels beforehand.

“Oh, man, I – I didn’t burn a hole in your upholstery, did I?” Chip asked with a serious look on his face.

Sam shook his head slightly.  “No.  Stub was in the ashtray, Chip –” the leaper wiped his nose and continued “– right where you left it on Saturday night after you dropped me off at the Sea Breeze Hotel.”

Ensign Ferguson’s composure seemed to crumble slightly after hearing that fact.  “Yeah, I – I guess so.”  A beat passed and Chip tried to lighten the mood with a grin, but it was a nervous one.  “I don’t see the problem, Bingo.”

“Problem?” Sam asked, pausing.  “The problem is today that Commander Riker testified that he saw me rape his wife.”

“Ah, man.  I know he’s tryin’ to hang ya on this, but to claim he was there?” the ensign replied, obviously not sure of his statement.

“He was there,” replied Doctor Beckett, his tone serious.  Chip’s expression was suddenly stunned as the time traveler continued to speak.  “He followed the Corvette to the beach; from the cliff he mistook you for me.  What happened, Chip?”

There was a long silence in the room that belonged to Ensign Al Calavicci while Chip took a seat.  The silence was broken by the sound of a fighter jet as it flew overhead.  “She was a tramp...  a real tramp, but I loved her.  I loved her from the first time we slept together,” the young officer explained, stopping to take a breath.  “First time, last time – the way she played it.”

“What happened, Chip?” Sam pressed on.

“After I dropped you off at the hotel to meet Lisa, I went to the O. Club.  For a second she thought I was you.  She wasn’t gonna get in, then I offered her a drink, and I asked her where she wanted me to take her.  She said somewhere where she could run naked.  It’s what she said:  somewhere where she could run naked,” Chip explained, obviously having flashbacks to the night in question.  He saw her running along the beach and he took her into his arms, bringing her down to the sand, and started to kiss her passionately.  When she got up to run, he grabbed her ankle and she fell, smashing her head on a jagged rock.  “It was like an old black-and-white film, only this time I was saying, ‘It was an accident.’”

Sam frowned at the story but was glad that Al’s friend was willing to tell the truth.  “Let me work this out,” he said.

“How?” asked Chip as both men stood up.  “You can’t undo what’s already been done.”

“Well,” the leaper began as they walked toward the door, “it never hurts to try.  Trust me; now go get some sleep.”

The ensign was heartbroken as Sam began to escort him out of the room.  “I never wanted you to take the fall for me, Bingo.  I just wouldn’t...”

Sam interrupted before things could get any more emotional.  “I know that,” he replied and clapped Chip on the back.

        His entire drive from Aaron and Janet’s house was occupied with trying to push the memories out of his mind.  If he was to find out who killed Chip, mulling over dreams would not help him any.  Sam arrived at the office well before the majority of the other agents and quickly got to work on reviewing all of the case files once more.  A half-hour had passed before a portly middle-aged woman approached him with a file folder.

        “Mornin’, Aaron,” she greeted with a familiar smile.  “Here’s the photos you asked for yesterday of the victims.  Hope it helps ya out.”

        “Thanks, Betty,” the leaper answered with a weary smile.  She nodded and left the desk while Sam began to pour over the photographs, finally able to place names to faces.  A few minutes passed before Betty was at his desk again with a cup of coffee in her hands.  She placed the mug down and said, “Figured you could use somethin’ to wake ya up.”

        Grateful, Sam gave her a warm grin and thanked her with sincere gratitude.  She left him alone and was nearly out of site when Tom Beckett appeared again through the glowing rectangle of light.  “Good morning, Sam,” the admiral said, trying to be light-hearted.  “Did you get the worm?”

        “Huh?” Sam asked.

        “You know, the early bird gets the worm,” the older Beckett explained with a goofy grin as he slipped the handlink into his pocket.

        “Oh,” the leaper replied and went back to viewing the photographs.  He was not in the mood for humor.  “Did you find out about what happened last night with those records?”

        Tom took a few steps to his right and glanced down at the desk.  “Uh, yeah...  Sam, you’re not going to like this, but the people here at the Project say that there’s some kind of temporal fluctuation that you’re caught up in.  For some reason, Buddy Holly never gets discovered where you are, and the Beechcraft Bonanza with serial number N3794N, carrying him, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson, A.K.A. ‘The Big Bopper’, never crashes.”

        “Then why do I remember it happening, Tom?” Sam shot back, his eyes aflame as he looked up at his older brother.

        “Whoa, calm down, Sam.  I remember it, too.  So does everyone at the Project.  It just seems that you’re in some kind of...  alternate timeline, according to Ziggy.”         

        The leaper shook his head.  “How’d I get into this ‘alternate’ timeline?  If that’s true, shouldn’t anything I do here be pointless since I should end up in the right timeline after I leap?”

        Admiral Beckett couldn’t help but chuckle.  “You’re askin’ the wrong man here, Sam.  With any luck, you carry on as usual and things will work out.  Maybe it’s just a ‘kink’ of sorts.”

        “Maybe,” the time-traveling scientist replied, turning his gaze back to the pictures on the desk.

        Hoping to change the subject, Tom followed his brother’s line of site.  “Ah, you got the pictures of the victims.  Even though I called up an old friend of mine at NCIS and got access to the rest of their records, it seems that they’re behind on scanning photos into their database.  I guess we all owe Jethro a favor now!”  The admiral paused for a beat while his brother looked at him expectantly.  “Mind if I scan them with the handlink?”

        “Great idea,” Sam replied, trying to forget about the complexities of time travel for the moment.  “Ziggy should be able to compare the images of the victims and the locations of the murders to see who the sick, demented person could possibly be.”

“I’m sure we will, Sam,” the admiral encouraged as they started to scan the images and files.  “Otherwise your leap here will be for nothing, right?”

“If Chip is the reason I’m here.  Has anybody asked Al yet about him?” Sam questioned.  Even through his Swiss-cheesed memory, he was certain that Admiral Calavicci mentioned that Chip Ferguson had died in combat.

Admiral Beckett shook his head.  “Like I said before, the admiral is unavailable.  He’ll be back with us as quickly as he can,” Tom said, hating that he couldn’t tell Sam what was really happening at the Project.  The leaper was visibly annoyed, but they continued.

After they got through all of the photographs, Tom set Ziggy and the team in the Control Room to immediately find any links between the murders in addition to the research on the mysterious Loraine.  “All right, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.  In the meantime, maybe you can keep on working on this end to figure it out.  You always were a quick study,” the admiral commented, getting a strange look from Sam.  “Err, or so I’ve been told.”

Quickly wanting an escape, Tom pressed a button on the handlink and the rectangle of light appeared again.  “Anyway, I’ll come back as soon as we find out something conclusive.  Hang in there, br—uh, buddy,” the observer said, nearly letting another clue slip out, and he returned to the Control Room.

“Hang in there, he says,” Sam mumbled and continued on with the seemingly endless work.



Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

22:16 MST


Dominic, Tina, and Ike, along with a handful of other scientists and technicians, slaved over the photographs and information about each murder, including the John Doe case that Aaron had been working on the night before Sam leaped into him.  That case, however, ended up having no connection to the “Black Widow”, a name that was now well known to the researchers at Project Quantum Leap.  Tom checked in every so often to see how things were progressing.  Hours passed before he made his last trip to the Control Room on the issue.

“What do we have, people?  I thought Ziggy would have had this finished in minutes,” the admiral said with levity in his tone.

“At the risk of hurting Ziggy’s ego, not everything can be done by computers,” Dominic stated.  “The human touch is needed once in a while.”

Ziggy hummed at the statement before saying, “That’s all right, Professor.  I know that despite your inefficiencies, humans may sometimes, in very rare occurrences, see things that parallel hybrid computers do not.”

Raising his brow at the computer’s comments, Tom joined Dom and Tina at Sammy Jo’s console when waved over.  Ike was sitting at the station, bringing up various information and giving a brief description of what the team had done before moving on to the images.  The temporary observer maintained his patience throughout the needless explanation – he just wanted answers.

“The thing is, we found one major...  well, I’m not sure how to put it,” Doctor Bentenhoff said, looking to his comrades for help.

“Let’s say it like this,” Tina said, turning to the admiral.  She was nervous and idly fiddled with one of her blinking globe-shaped earrings.  “I’ll be, like, blunt.  Like, all of the victims kinda look like Doctor Beckett.”

        Tom Beckett stared at her intently for a moment before she shifted her feet uneasily.  Dom broke the awkward silence.  “Admiral Beckett, we don’t know this for sure, but we think that the killer might be associated with Doctor Beckett in some way...  and somehow, don’t ask me how, this ‘Black Widow’ is seducing and murdering men with similar facial features and body build as Sam.  Her killing spree spans from the mid Sixties well into the early Eighties.”

“This is ridiculous!” the observer shouted.  Taking in a deep breath, he calmed himself down and met Dominic’s unwavering gaze.  “Are you absolutely sure?”

The former professor nodded solemnly.  “There’s a three-percent margin of error.”

Tom cursed to himself quietly.  Without a word, he headed over to where the handlink was kept to recharge and picked it up from its cradle.  “Start the Imaging Chamber.  I have to tell Sam.”

The team in Control scurried to follow the observer’s orders and in a few minutes’ time, Tom was back with his brother.  He had barely stepped through and closed the door before his brother, sitting at a table in a diner with Agent Ross, looked up at him with anticipation.

“Sam, I have some information for you,” the admiral said levelly, but was interrupted by Elliott’s near-continuous conversation about his wild drive home from work the night before.

“Hoh, boy, I thought I was done for when the wheel locked up and I skidded down the street.  I sure was lucky that nobody else was around but my bumper sure took the brunt of hitting the light post,” the agent explained while holding onto a half-eaten sandwich.  “Any problems with your drive home last night?”

Doctor Beckett was enjoying the company of Elliott Ross, who seemed like a very decent person and a close friend to Aaron.  However, he was really anxious to return to the office and do more research.  His appetite could suffer as far as he was concerned.

“Nope, no problems,” Sam replied politely.  “Will you excuse me?  I have to use the restroom.”

“Sure thing, bud,” Agent Ross replied with a grin before attacking his sandwich.

The holographic representation of Tom Beckett didn’t move for a moment before he realized that he was supposed to follow Sam to the bathroom.  They were almost there when Tom saw Sam stop in his tracks at a corner table next to the fire exit, staring intently at a woman whose eyes were concentrated on the small salad before her.

“I know her from somewhere,” he whispered, barely audible.  As he approached the table, the woman looked up at him and studied him curiously.

“Do I know you?” she asked, blinking her eyes a few times.  For once, Sam’s Swiss-cheesed memory did not fail him.

Sam and George met up with Pastor McKinney, who was talking with a rather attractive, nicely dressed blonde who kept batting her eyes at the man before her.

  “I had heard that you were coming down to Texas to help out in a trial. So, I thought that it was the best way to show my earnest desire in backing you in your endeavours, Pastor McKinney,” she said simply as she looked him up and down before she turned to the men who had approached from the side.

        The woman glanced at the men who approached and did a double take as she looked at them before she stuck out her hand to them.  “Lulu Logan,” she introduced herself.  “I'm one of Pastor McKinney's fold and I wanted to let you know that I'm a prayer support for you in this time in your life,” she said as she stepped up in front of Sam.

        Sam was about to shake hands with the young woman when one of the other people in the gallery brushed past them, pushing them further apart.

“You’re Lulu Logan,” he stated, mystified.

The woman chuckled and stood up from her seat, approaching Sam as he stood there almost mesmerized.  “You got my last name right,” she said lecherously as she trickled her finger down Sam’s dress shirt, “But ‘Lulu’?  I go by Loraine.”

“Sam!  It’s her!” Tom shouted, giving the leaper a start.  “She’s the killer!”

The realization had hit the quantum physicist as soon as Logan said her name and he grabbed both of her arms with his hands.  She shrieked at the skin-to-skin contact, getting the attention of the diner’s patrons.  “It’s you again!  Stiles...  how did you hide yourself?!” Logan screamed.

“Stiles?” the leaper replied with confusion before another memory slapped him in the face.


Marshal O’Neil continued through slowly with a firm grip on Sam’s right arm, not letting anybody stand in his way as the leaper kept his gaze toward the ground.  Riley, the lawyer, was following closely behind, giving the occasional single-word answer.  They were almost through the throng of reporters when Sam felt a strange sensation course through his being—a sensation that he had only experienced on a small number of occasions.  Looking up at the man with the grasp on his arm, his jaw dropped when the person standing there was no longer the bailiff that had escorted him from the courtroom.

“Connors!” Sam hissed, his eyes burning with anger as he ground to a halt, some memories of their most recent encounter coming back into his Swiss-cheesed mind.  Luckily for him, most of the media had their attention on the attorney instead of the marshal and his prisoner.

“B-Beckett?” Maxwell Connors replied quietly, temporarily confused after his leap in and immediately seeing another time-traveler.  “What are you doing here?”

“I might ask you the same thing,” Doctor Beckett shot back in a low tone.  When he took a second to look ahead and saw the main entrance still a good walk away, he realized that standing in the middle of the hallway was probably not the best of ideas.  “Keep walking.  We don’t want to raise suspicion.”

As it was the rogue leaper’s mission to keep history as it was originally, he took Sam’s advice and they continued on immediately.  Only a few yards later, they were stopped again when a woman in the crowd, with a press pass pinned to her blouse, dropped her camera and charged at Sam with a knife.

“He deserves death!” she shouted.

Max let go of Sam and stepped in front of him, grabbing the crazed woman’s wrists in an attempt to wedge the knife from her grasp.  Members of the media turned their attention to the struggle as cameras began to flash in their direction.

“Let me go!” she screeched while she eyed Sam Beckett in the aura of Leon Stiles, who was approaching her, using what little mobility he had with his hands to aid Connors in disarming the blonde-haired fury.  Flashbulbs continued to fire off, making the scene feel like it was taking place during a violent thunderstorm. 

While the rogue leaper continued to hold her steady, Sam retrieved the knife from her hand as they heard heavy, quick footsteps approaching them.  As she glowered at Sam, her expression suddenly turned from one of complete despising to one of utter surprise.  “W-who are you?” she asked, keeping her eyes fixated on Sam’s face.  “You’re not Stiles!”

Before Sam could answer, three of the guards that had been on their way tackled him to the ground and disarmed him, thinking that he wanted the knife for his own reasons.  The other guard placed handcuffs on the confused and raving woman who continued to proclaim that the man being brought back to his feet was not Leon Stiles.  Sam watched as she was dragged away by two of the officers while the other two each maintained a strong grip on his arms.

“What’s going on, Aaron?” Elliott demanded as he charged to the scene.  With one look at the woman, a realization dawned on the agent.  “Is she the ‘Black Widow’?”

“Why’d you do it, Logan?  Why’d you kill Chip and all the others?” Sam Beckett demanded, shaking her as he spoke.

The murderer broke out in a throaty laugh.  “I pretended they were you, Stiles.  I would think you’d understand that, being a murderer and rapist yourself.”

“Hey, what’re you folks doin’?!” a voice came from behind.  Sam and Elliott turned to see one of the kitchen workers standing in the aisle with a greasy, white apron on.  “If you don’t unhand the lady I’m going to have to call the police!”

Logan took the brief opportunity of distraction to knee Sam in the stomach.  Caught off guard and with the air taken out of him, the leaper released his grip on the killer and couldn’t defend himself as she pushed him into Elliott and ran for the fire exit.  The fire bell began to ring immediately as the patrons of the diner started to yell “Fire!” and scattered in all directions.

“Follow her!” Sam hollered at Tom, who immediately ran through the exterior wall in pursuit.  Elliott, who thought the order was addressed to him, helped Sam back to stability and they charged through the fire exit, ignoring the calls from the kitchen helper.

Outside it was snowing heavily and the two men couldn’t see any footprints in the alley.  “Where is she?” the scientist demanded.

“Sorry, Sam, she was gone when I got out here and Ziggy can’t get a lock on her,” the observer reported apologetically.  “She disappeared into the crowd on the sidewalk.”

Ignoring his brother’s statement, Sam charged out from the back alley and onto the busy sidewalk with Agent Ross at his side.  He scanned the swarm of people that moved up and down the street and couldn’t see her anywhere.

“Damn it!” the leaper cursed.  “She got away again!  I can’t believe this!”

Placing his hand on Sam’s shoulder, Elliott tried to console his partner.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll get an APB out on her now that we know her name.  You’ve done good, Aaron.  Pearce will be impressed.”

Sam and Tom’s gazes met and they frowned at each other.  “Let’s get back to the office,” Sam suggested as the sound of sirens from a fire engine began to sound.



Sam returned to his desk after giving the name of Loraine Logan and the theory of her killing only “look-alikes” to Agent Pearce.  The photos that he and Tom had been scanning before were still on his desktop, and they were now surrounded by other agents at their desks.  After a few minutes of glancing over the photos again, Sam looked up at his brother morbidly.

“They really do all look like me,” Doctor Sam Beckett whispered as he stared into the distance.  Tom swallowed hard when he realized that his brother had reached the same conclusion as an entire team of people with the aid of computers had in the same amount of time.

        “That’s what I came here to tell you originally, Sam,” the temporary observer stated.  “Our team back here said it’s pretty certain that this person somehow goes after people who look like... you.”

Sam’s trance was broken when Elliott sat on the edge of his desk.  “Well, Aaron old boy, looks like you were right.  Pearce is scratching his head wondering how nobody spotted this before.  All of these poor saps all have similar facial features and build.  He’s already setting up a meeting with the other agencies to make sure we get any similar case from across the country into our hands.  The police are on the hunt for the suspect.”

When his companion appeared unexcited by the news, Agent Ross placed a hand on the leaper’s shoulder.  “Heck, even ol’ Rodge cracked a smile when he heard the news.  It was so obvious but none of us saw it, except you, that is,” Elliott said encouragingly.

Forcing a smile, Sam said, “Well, I just hope it helps us find this twisted woman.”

Nodding, Elliott shoved himself off the desk and headed off from where he came.  The handlink produced some gentle tones and Tom took it back out of his pocket.  When the holographic screen popped up to report the information, the admiral’s heart jumped into his throat and he felt every skin cell in his body tingle.

“What?  Whoa, Tom, what is it?” Sam asked when he saw the ashen expression of the replacement observer.

Tom blinked a few times and shook his head quickly.  “No.  No, it – it’s nothing, Sam.  Don’t... don’t worry about it.”

Darting his eyes around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, Sam stood from the chair in an attempt to read the screen, but Tom quickly hid the handlink from him.  “Is it Al?  What’s wrong?” the leaper demanded in a hushed voice.

“No, it’s not Al,” Tom replied.  “Sam, I...”

“Just say it, Tom!  I’m a grown man; I can take it!” demanded Sam.

The admiral closed his eyes and let out a long breath to regain his composure.  “Sam, Ziggy...  Ziggy says that history has changed again.  She, oh God.”  The normally strong Navy admiral choked back his tears as he and Sam’s eyes locked on each other.

“In almost two years from now, you...  this can’t be right, but Ziggy says that you...  you become a victim of the ‘Black Widow’.  Logan kills you.”

Sam’s face lost all color when Tom finally told him what was so dire.  For a second he forgot how to breathe and sat down in his chair.  Tom crouched down slightly beside him and tried to maintain eye contact.

“This can’t be,” Sam announced in a hoarse whisper.  “If I’m killed in Nineteen Sixty-Nine, then how do I go on to create Project Quantum Leap?  How am I here now?!”

“Maybe it’s this whole double timeline thing that Ziggy mentioned.  Sam, you’re alive now, so that’s all that matters, right?” Tom reasoned as Sam stared into the distance again.

Emotions were beginning to overwhelm the time traveler.  “No!  If History is so screwed up that I’m alive when I should be dead, or dead when I should be alive...  I have to fix this.”

“I don’t remember you being killed, so this must just be a fluke.  I’ll have the technicians give Ziggy a complete diagnostic,” Tom said, trying to comfort both his brother and himself.

“What do you mean you don’t remember me being killed?” Sam asked.  “Who are you?”

Tom fixed his eyes on Sam’s once again before setting his jaw in determination.  “Don’t worry, I’ll get to the bottom of this.  Nobody’s going to kill my little brother as long as I have a breath in me.”

“B-brother?” Sam repeated and blinked his eyes.  “Tom...  Tom!”  The leaper finally understood why his temporary observer had been so secretive.  “Oh God, Tom, why didn’t you just tell me?”

Standing up, Tom shook his head and shrugged, struggling to keep back his emotions.  “You know the rules...  I can’t tell you what you don’t already know about your personal life.”  Pressing a few keys on the handlink, the holographic screen shut down while the rectangle of white light appeared behind Tom.

“Tom, don’t go,” urged the leaper as he stood up to face his brother.

“I have to, Sam.  I have to get to the bottom of this.  Don’t worry, everything’ll be fine, little brother,” Tom said with an encouraging grin as he stepped backward into the light, which promptly disappeared.

Bewildered, Sam looked around the office before whispering to himself, “I sure hope so, Tom.”

Sam Beckett then leaped.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

Thursday, January 25, 2007

00:00 MST


While her husband lay in a coma in the hospital bed, an exhausted Beth Calavicci began to doze off while in an overstuffed recliner with a thin blanket over her.  She never slept deeply, wanting to be the first person that Al saw when he woke up.  Beth knew that it would happen eventually and she was willing to wait until the complex crumbled around her before she left Al’s bedside.

It had been an hour since their daughter Christa and her fiancé Eddie had come for a visit.  They all gave each other the support that the Calavicci family was built on, their hearts full of hope that their head of the family would recover soon.

Beth’s eyes were heavy with sleep and the first feelings of drifting into slumber came over her when she thought she heard a noise.  Listening harder, she heard another soft grunt.  “Al?” she whispered as she sat up straight and threw the blanket from her.  The dim light above the bed was always on and Beth turned on the bedside lamp.

“Al, are you awake?” she asked as she gripped his hand.  Another quiet grunt.  With her free hand, Beth dipped her finger into a cup of water and wet her husband’s lips slightly.

“Al, honey, can you hear me?  Talk to me, baby,” she encouraged and nearly shouted for joy when she saw movement behind his eyelids.  “That’s it.  Wake up, flyboy.  You’ve been in bed way too long.”  She giggled slightly and started feeling light-headed at the excitement.

Al Calavicci breathed hard through his nose and slowly opened his eyes, taking in the beautiful face of his loving wife.  “Beth,” he whispered through mostly-closed lips.

“Yes, Al, it’s me.  How do you feel?” she replied, eyes wide open.

“Sam,” he said.

Beth was confused by the reply.  Was he really hearing her or just having a waking dream?  “What about Sam?” she asked.

“I have to...  save Sam.”




This episode is dedicated to the memory of Charles Rocket (1949~2005).


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